William Lane Craig Wrong About Morality Again as He Justifies Hell

William Lane Craig Wrong About Morality Again as He Justifies Hell January 30, 2018

Over thirty years ago, William Lane Craig debated Ray Bradley debate on the topic, “Can a Loving God Send People to Hell?” That’s a good question, so let’s take a look at Craig’s answer.

Craig’s odd conclusion

WLC acknowledged that this topic is potentially embarrassing for Christians, and he began by outlining the problem.

On the one hand, the Bible teaches that God is love, and yet, on the other hand, it warns that those who reject God face everlasting punishment, and it contains frequent warnings about the danger of going to hell. But aren’t these two somehow inconsistent with each other?

So we have “God is all loving” vs. “Some people go to hell.” That sounds bad, but WLC wonders if there is necessarily a problem. These two aren’t literally contradictory in the way that X and not-X are.

WLC says that the skeptic is making two assumptions (I’ve paraphrased them to make them more general):

  1. If God is all powerful, then God could create a world in which everyone freely lives their life in such a way that they merit getting into heaven.
  2. If God is all loving, then he would want such a world.

Given these, WLC concludes,

Now notice that both of these assumptions have to be necessarily true, in order to prove that God and hell are logically inconsistent with each other. So as long as there’s even a possibility that one of these assumptions is false, it’s possible that God is all-loving and yet some people go to hell.

Yeah, that’s a compelling message: “It’s possible that God is all-loving and yet some people go to hell.” Alternatively: it does look like God is a moral monster, but you can’t actually prove it.

How come no one preaches that sermon?

A Christian response to Craig

Let me try to work within the Christian paradigm to see where that leads us. Let’s assume Christianity and also assume that free will is required for a fulfilled human life. This is supported by many Christian apologists who use the free will argument against the Problem of Evil (here, here).

People in our world have free will, and yet most don’t meet the requirements for heaven. We know this because Jesus said, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:13–14). Few go to heaven, so the remainder must be destined for hell.

One way to salvage God is to argue that this world must be the best of all possible worlds. That is, God wants the best for us, but, imperfect as this world is, any alternative world would be worse. If God could’ve create a more-perfect world, he would have. This was the argument of Gottfried Leibnitz (who knew how to look awesome with a bitchin’ wig).

Conclusion: if God could’ve created a world populated by humans with free will such that everyone was good enough to deserve heaven, he would have. Since he didn’t, such a world couldn’t exist.

But hang on—don’t we already know of such a world? It’s heaven!

Heaven must have free will, since apologists tell us that God doesn’t want mindless robots programmed to love God. But heaven must be a fundamentally different place than earth. You might be able to put up with your nosey neighbor or your buffoon of a boss or your annoying in-laws for a finite time here on earth, but what if you were stuck with them (plus millions more like them), unchanged, for a trillion years? A heaven that put you in frequent contact with these bumpkins would soon become hellish.

Since we’re taking free will as a given, the answer is for that free will to come with the wisdom to use it properly.

Here on earth, we have the animal wisdom to know that deliberately hitting your hand with a hammer would be stupid, so we don’t do it. The profoundly wise beings in heaven would go beyond that. They’d have the free will to do bad things, but their wisdom would never go there. In heaven, your perfectly wise neighbors would have the free will to steal your wallet, but why would they? That would be just one of a vast number of stupid things—like hitting one’s hand with a hammer—that they would never bother pursuing.

This creates a contradiction. The existence of a heaven with free will says that, no, life on earth isn’t the best of all possible worlds. Give us the wisdom to properly use free will (seeing wisdom as free will’s instruction manual), and then we will freely choose to be moral and so merit heaven. And yet, using the best-of-all-possible-worlds hypothesis, we concluded above that earth was as good as it gets.

Response to Craig

Now return to WLC’s conclusion: “both of these assumptions have to be necessarily true, in order to prove that God and hell are logically inconsistent with each other.” Let’s review those assumptions.

Assumption 1 is, “If God is all powerful, then God could create a world in which everyone freely lives his life in such a way that they merit getting into heaven.” True: heaven, with free will plus the wisdom to use it properly, is that world.

Assumption 2 is, “If God is all loving, then he would want such a world.” This also seems true, unless there’s any argument that it’s a good thing to deliberately create imperfect people, knowing that they will wind up in eternal torment.

This has admittedly been an informal response to WLC’s answer to the debate question, “Can a loving god send people to hell?” Nevertheless, I find this a satisfactory answer to his challenge. No, Dr. Craig, a loving God and torment in hell are inconsistent. Once again, it’s surprising that the atheist needs to teach the Christian about morality.

Continue with “9 Responses to Christian Hell

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there would be no religious people.
— Dr. House

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Damien Priestly

    I continue to be stunned why intelligent religious people continue to take WLC seriously. His arguments are middle school level at best.

    At least try to hit us on the big-bang and cosmological arguments were nobody has all the answers. Apologists have twisted themselves into pretzels trying to whitewash God into a moral argument.

    • Kevin K

      The Moral Argument For God:

      If there is no god, then there is no objective morality.

      Well … yes. That’s kinda the point, isn’t it?

      But there is objective morality.

      Says who?

      Argument won.

      • Has he ever really defended premise two? This may address atheists who believe in objective morality.

        • Kevin K

          I do believe he pitches a pitch on that. I don’t recall the particulars … but since I didn’t buy it (otherwise I’d recall it and not mock it), then I’d have to say it was his usual bafflegab.

        • I’m recalling now that it was something like C. S. Lewis argued, which is ludicrous.

    • Glad2BGodless

      Yeah, he’s like every other apologist. Talk fast, keep moving, cash the checks promptly.

      • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

        …demand to go first, and Gish Gallop like mad.

        Then declare victory because some of the ridiculous points in the initial Gallop weren’t addressed.

        • Glad2BGodless

          *Taking notes*

  • Kevin K

    Of all the godly attributes claimed by Christians of Yahweh the Magnificent™, the one I find least compelling and having the most-striking evidence against is the concept of omni-benevolence. The malarial mosquito is clear evidence against the proposition, FFS. Christians have no satisfactory answer for this, only sophistry.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      Actually, there is a simple answer to this. God doesn’t play favorites.

      This is always my response to the claim that “Mother nature is a bitch.” It’s not that Mother Nature is a bitch, it’s just that she doesn’t hold humans higher up than she holds bacteria or even the laws of physics.

      God loves the malaria virus just as much as he loves you.

      • Shadow

        Quibble: Malaria is a parasite, not a virus.

        YHWH also has an inordinate fondness for beetles.

        • Bravo Sierra

          I like the beatles, too.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          It doesn’t have to be a fondness. He just likes beetles as much as he likes anyone, and so doesn’t get in their way

      • Kevin K

        So, does malaria get to heaven if it infects a Christian?

    • Kodie

      It’s not only the malarial mosquito… fuck every fucking mosquito, in my opinion, but let’s talk about stink bugs. They serve no purpose to humans and are not even a great pest. They are neutral. You could (if you’re a sick fuck) argue that people deserve to be stricken with malaria, or “it teaches them” something or other that there was absolutely no other way to learn that lesson, even if the learning can’t be guaranteed. But what can we learn from stink bugs (or shield bugs, as they are also known and recognized for their shape). All we know is that killing a stink bug will release the stink that attracts more stink bugs. (I imagine entomologists know more and appreciate in some way much more about stink bugs). But are they a friend to humans? A source of inspiration or an object of admiration? Can we use them for food or clothes? Is there some quality about them or their skills or secretions or physical material that humans can transfer to our material needs and invention and improvement in the way things we use work for us? In a lot of ways, we are like them. We can learn how much we are like a stink bug from the stink bug. Hurt one of us, more will come. Apparently we are just prejudiced against stink bugs. I don’t know anything about why they will hone in on the place where danger lurks, what revenge can they have? They don’t do anything. They don’t bite or poison or damage anything. It’s like they know they bother people, so wherever a person has squashed a stink bug, guess what, exponentially more stink bugs. That’ll learn ya. I mean, it’s not like fruit flies. One banana peel in the garbage you forgot to take out and you’re fucked until you take out the garbage.

      • Giauz Ragnarock

        Stink bugs kinda look cool?

  • carbonUnit

    I’ve never understood why free will implies that evil/bad behavior must be allowed. Does having police destroy the free will of the populace? I often feel that God is like the teacher on playground duty allowing the bully free reign. Does a teacher enforcing the playground rules destroy the free will of those on the playground??

    • Yep, good point. God used to strike evildoers dead in the Bible. He still promises them hell according to Craig. Why don’t those violate free will?

    • Kodie

      God is a butt-ton of loopholes.

      • Giauz Ragnarock

        You’ve gotta be shitting me!

      • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

        may I suggest condensing that to ‘god is a butt’?

        😉

        • Kodie

          Well, that’s the character in the book. The “actual” god is defined by all the ways he is awesome and why he is not free to be fully awesome, a little bit impressive, or merely able.

  • skl

    “WLC says that the skeptic is making two assumptions …:

    1. If God is all powerful, then God could create a world in which everyone freely
    lives their life in such a way that they merit getting into heaven.
    2. If God is all loving, then he would want such a world.”

    This also may be why sex dolls are becoming increasingly popular. They can’t say No.

    • eric

      What a lame response. The fact is that people do show a wide range of personalities “naturally.” We are not wholly “neutral” beings; we have proclivities, tendencies, etc.. that come from our biology. Some people have naturally good personalities; greater instincts and biological desires (than some other humans) to help, cooperate, be kind, etc… Do those people have free will? Can they get to heaven? If the answer is yes, then there is no reason why God couldn’t have given all of us those sorts of within-the-range-of-normal-human-yet-tending-towards-good genomes. Atheists aren’t demanding any sort of impossibly unattainable moral character be built in to every human; we’re pointing out that in a world where some people are naturally, biologically, Gandhi’s, it makes no sense that God would permit naturally, biologically, Dahmer’s and Manson’s

      • carbonUnit

        And most certainly cretins masquerading as Christians.

      • skl

        In a world of nothing but Dahmer’s and Manson’s, maybe the Manson’s
        would be considered “Gandhi’s”. Manson was responsible for only about half as many murders as Dahmer.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          In a world of nothing but Dahmers and Mansons, humanity would disappear in, at most IMHO, 5 generations.

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      So your ‘god’ treats people like some people treat sex dolls?

      Doesn’t say much for ‘god’.

      • al kimeea

        Or Oxfam treats Haitian children

        • Ignorant Amos

          Or the Meth’s treat the sex workers in Altered Carbon.

        • (On that tangent: I’ve watched the first 2 episodes of Altered Carbon. I’m intrigued but not blown away. You’d recommend it?

          (My biggest complaint so far: how is a guy from a society 250 years earlier supposed to jump into this society and know enough to solve a crime, even if he is an impressive ass kicker?)

        • Ignorant Amos

          I binge watched them all…I enjoyed it very much.

          (My biggest complaint so far: how is a guy from a society 250 years earlier supposed to jump into this society and know enough to solve a crime, even if he is an impressive ass kicker?)

          You have to watch the series. Envoy’s are reputed to have exceptional senses through intense training. But I can’t say very much without spoiling.

        • Greg G.

          But I can’t say very much without spoiling.

          That is why Disqus gave you the “spoiler” tag.

          Mouse over –> Like this

  • epicurus

    Even in the perfect heaven there was rebelling going on by the devil and his angel followers- all super smart beings who were not cursed with an inherited sinful nature, yet they still rebelled. I guess that’s a reason to think there could be future rebellions after judgement day when Christians are sitting around in Heaven for billions of years getting bored and into fights with each other.

    • Glad2BGodless

      Food fight!

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      This also addresses the nonsense about how “if God gave us proof of his existence, it would violate our free will to disbelieve.”

      Beings in heaven however see God face to face. Do they not have free will? If not, then apparently it’s not so darn important.

      And, as you note, it’s not like they didn’t have the ability to rebel. Satan apparently even knows that God is all-powerful, yet still rebels. How can he do that? It’s a losing effort, right?

      Heaven is a huge problem for the free will-ites.

      • Pofarmer

        Why doesn’t God just beat Satan already? Right?

        • carbonUnit

          But noooo, he has to let his creation suffer through millennia of evil, capped off by Armageddon.

        • Read Revelation, and it’s clear that the God/Satan matchup is the most uneven fight the world has ever known. Unlike other religions with an ongoing tension or balance between good and bad (yin and yang), we’ve already read the play by play, and God smacks down Satan without even trying.

          Which raises your question, if God can beat Satan, why doesn’t he do it already??

        • epicurus

          Makes one wonder if maybe God cannot actually smack down Satan. You’d think if Satan was so super smart, he’d know there is no way he can beat God. But wait! Maybe the Bible is giving us that view as a smear job. Maybe that’s why the smack down never happens, just threats for the future.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          You’d think if Satan was so super smart, he’d know there is no way he can beat God

          Yeah, and Satan acts like he can win.

          This is despite the fact that he knows God personally, and therefore should be well-aware that God is all-powerful and all that. Yet, he doesn’t act that way. There is a problem in the narrative here.

        • The Manichaen view where there is an equally powerful evil God makes much more sense.

        • epicurus

          Yes, I agree.

        • Kodie

          I always think when Christians talk about heaven, it’s like Satan invited everyone to an awesome party in hell, but god felt jealous and decided to have a party on the same day, and is desperate for guests. I think there are a lot of terrible things people can do, but Satan represents litterers and shit, not just serial killers and homiciders, and the heaven party is going to be lame as fuck. I do think bad tends to outsmart good, as loopholes and excuses are the human innovation over rules, and rules are the temporary solution against the suspicion of cheating. Heaven and hell, god and satan, are metaphorical representations of normal human behaviors.

        • sushisnake

          The Book of Job suggests God and Satan are mates. Best buddies.

          And then there’s that bit in the NT where Satan offers Jesus the entire world literally if Jesus picks Satan over God. Considering Satan told the whole truth and nothing but the truth about the apple when he wore his snake suit, and he played by the rules fair and square with Job, I can’t imagine Satan lied to Jesus about owning the world. My guess is Jehovah’s omnipotence is vastly overrated.

        • sandy

          maybe god is a cat lover

        • epicurus

          Well He certainly likes cheese makers or producers of dairy products as a whole if Monty Python is to be believed.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          First nice thing I would have heard about ‘god’.

        • sandy

          However, I was hinting at the analogy that god takes it’s time with it’s prey and likes to torture, like my cat.

        • MR

          The offer of salvation would make much more sense if God was unable to defeat Satan but was able to protect us from him. It still raises the question why he would create us in the first place if he knew the vast majority of mankind would end up in Satan’s camp, so that undermines the omniscient claim, too.

        • Earth is the best of all possible worlds? I don’t think so. Sorry, Professor Leibniz.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Hate to say it, but there’s human precedent for not immediatly smacking down an Adversary.

          In WWII, the Allied strategy was to keep the fight going long enough to prepare a secret counterattack that proved devastating.

          Of course, this presupposes that ‘satan’ is almost as powerful as ‘god’…but I thought it was an interesting parallel.

      • Priya Lynn

        “This also addresses the nonsense about how “if God gave us proof of his
        existence, it would violate our free will to disbelieve.””.

        Then my question is “Why would it be a bad thing to not have the ability to disbelieve?”

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          “Why would it be a bad thing to not have the ability to disbelieve?”
          “Because then we would all be robots.”
          “So what?”
          “But…but…but…but God doesn’t want us to just be robots”
          “Why not? As long as I have the appearance that I’m doing it on my own, who cares?”
          “But…but….but…he gave us free will!”
          “So what? ”

          It all just begs the question, and as soon as you call that out, there is no answer.

    • Huh? Heaven isn’t perfect?

      I’m crushed.

  • Ctharrot

    I have little patience for WLC’s brand of semantic legerdemain and sophistry.

    By my reckoning, this issue is not all that complicated. We would never use “loving” to describe a human father who allowed or caused his disobedient children to be tortured for any period of time. Yet a divine father who allows most of humanity to suffer an eternity in hell for the relatively brief peccadillo of not subscribing to the right flavor of religion is loving?

    • Glad2BGodless

      WLC is such a tiresome hack. Apparently the gig pays well.

    • Joe

      That’s why I find myself engaging in online debate with apologists less and less nowadays. For their propositions to be correct we have to accept a completely different meaning of words like “love”, “omnipotence”, “good”, “relationship” etc. that even they themselves don’t use in most situations.

      Apologetics is just special pleading in a fancy suit.

    • Kevin K

      WLC is an adherent to the Divine Command Theory, whereby anything it does or commands is “good”, by virtue of him doing/commanding/allowing it.

      * Kill people who pick up sticks on the Sabbath? Good, cuz he commanded it.
      * Allow Satan to kill Job’s family? Good, cuz he allowed it.
      * Drown every puppy, kitten and unborn baby in a fit of pique? Good, because he did it.

      WLC is a sociopath. I would not let him near my children.

      • Michael Neville

        WLC claimed that the real victims in the Canaanite genocide were the soldiers who had to do the killing.

        • TheNuszAbides

          it was a dirty job, but some poor hyper-tribal tools had to do it.

      • Chuck Johnson

        Not even if he had a large poster of an arc, complete with cute cartoon animals holding hands and singing beneath a rainbow ?

      • That mix of justification for cruelty + good citizenship I could imagine in the commandant of a concentration camp. Many were thoughtful and kind neighbors, I’m sure.

        • Don’t forget that Rudolf Hoss, Nazi commandant of Auschwitz, repented before he was hanged. So he’ll get to heaven they say, while many of his victims won’t.

        • The commandant of Auschwitz in heaven and Anne Frank in hell–wow. And Christians look at this and double down on the goodness of God.

        • Bob Jase

          Some one had to bein heaven to welcome Jeffrey Dahmer…

        • Yeah, that’s what happens when you make salvation solely about faith as well.

    • It might’ve made good sense in the Bronze Age, but it’s become (if you’ll permit me) tarnished in the intervening 3000 or so years.

    • Chuck Johnson

      The ancient ignorance continues to evolve into modern fraud.

  • eric

    I generally agree with your analysis, however I also think it is somewhat immaterial to the question. You’re assuming heaven or hell are the only two viable choices – creating the question, “why couldn’t everyone go to heaven” – but they aren’t. God could simply allow those people who don’t qualify for heaven to end. Dissolve. Etc…

    IOW God does not have to create a world in which everyone gets into heaven, or has the personality to merit heaven, in order to do away with hell. That is unnecessary; it’s entirely possible (and many would probably say: more moral than heaven/hell system) to give people no inherent personality that makes them merit heaven as WLC says, and to keep heaven’s entry requirements just the way WLC wants them to be, and yet still do away with hell. He’s God; he could simply say those souls who don’t qualify will dissipate or sleep eternally rather than suffer torment eternally.

    To further illustrate this point, I once watched an athiest on another listserve discuss with a theist: I don’t want to be in heaven forever. I can’t imagine that would be anything but horrible. So if I’m sitting there in heaven, and I ask God to end me, end my consciousness, would he allow that to happen? Or would he force me to remain conscious in heaven throughout all eternity despite my wishes? The theists answer was: God won’t fulfill that wish. You’ll be trapped in heaven forever, because conscious souls never end. Now, not only does that not seem very heavenly, but it paints God as either non-omnipotent or cruel. At the same time, it also illustrates that any theist who takes God’s omnipotence seriously has little to no defense of a moral hell, because true omnipotence for God = ‘ending’ or eternal sleep as a third option = no need for hell.

    • That’s what annihilationism says. Yet it is clearly contradictory to the Bible.

      • Halbe

        Try saying that to the JWs next time they knock on your door 🙂

        • One way to make them go away-point all they ignore or get wrong.

        • Kodie

          When I was in my teens, I answered the door and it was JWs. I argued with them as well as I could at the time, I think I did pretty good and they did eventually leave. Notably, my parents had gone some errand together and returned while the JWs were at the door, but circled the block instead of park in the driveway and come in to deal with them.

        • I’ve never gotten them coming to my door. One came up at a bus stop and gave me a pamphlet. She didn’t seem very enthusiastic though, as that was it for her. In fact it was me who did some talking, to which she said nothing. Once some Mormons approached me getting on a train. They invited me to their temple and again gave me a pamphlet. For me so far that’s been my whole experience, aside from some guys passing out tiny free Bibles at the college where I went. Apparently though the JWs will not return if you ask them.

        • They can’t come in unless you invite them.

          No, wait … that’s vampires.

        • TheNuszAbides

          … who also have intense concern over blood transfusion. COINCIDENCE?!

  • skl

    As I said yesterday on another blog,
    I think both christians and atheists would agree that the
    god of the bible is an extreme being, one who is more extremely beneficent and
    more extremely punitive than any human can conceive.

    • carbonUnit

      As I just posted, binary.

      • Greg G.

        Bipolar?

        • carbonUnit

          Manic Depressive Disorder?

        • Pofarmer

          Stupid.

        • Pofarmer

          So, this is waaaayyyyyy off topic. But it just struck me that if Elisha is a Moon God, the story of the children and the bears makes more sense because bears often forage at night.

        • Greg G.

          There’s a concept I had never thought of before.

          The Big Dipper and the Little Dipper are known as Ursa Major and Ursa Minor for Big Bear and Little Bear. I wonder how far back those associations go with those constellations. Could that be a part of the story?

          That’s another concept I had never thought before.

        • Pofarmer

          I think it does add credence to the idea that more of the NT is based in Astrology than folks like to admit.

        • TheNuszAbides

          lol, wouldn’t they have to handwave Matthew into oblivion just for starters?

        • Pofarmer

          So, is there a constellation that aligns with the 42 Children? Do the bears “move” on this other constellation? I kind of wonder if it has something to do with the Pleiades? I dunno. More questions. I can’t find a single article talking about it, only devotional nonsense about the historicity of the story.

        • Greg G.

          Those Job verses mention Pleiades and Orion, also.

          I think 42 means “a lot”, like 40 does, not precisely that many.

          I haven’t found anything either on it. I was trying to disprove it while I was waiting for a bus that would take me away from a WIFI that got Disqus. It seems that Disqus works in coffee shops.

        • Pofarmer

          I posted a couple of links for Michael in this thread. There doesn’t seem to be anything that really makes sense of the 42. But why 42? Why not 40? I mean, 42 is a pretty large group. I have a hard time believing that there isn’t more to it than that, but I certainly can’t find anything. Perhaps 42 is something in the Jewish Talmud?

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          42 is the number of perfection (7) multiplied by 6 (=7-1), a “bad” number. So maybe 42 is just a large EVIL! number.

        • Pofarmer

          Bilaam, Balak, and
          Elisha

          Balak prepared seven altars, with two sacrifices on each altar, three
          times:

          Bamidbar (Numbers) 23:1 And Bilaam
          said unto Balak, Build me here seven
          altars, and prepare me here seven oxen
          and seven rams.

          Bamidbar (Numbers) 23:14 And he
          brought him into the field of Zophim, to the top of Pisgah, and built seven altars, and offered a bullock and a ram
          on every altar.

          Bamidbar (Numbers) 23:29 And Bilaam
          said unto Balak, Build me here seven
          altars, and prepare me here seven
          bullocks and seven rams.

          Thus we have three sets of fourteen sacrifices, for a total of forty-two sacrifices.

          Before each attempt to curse Bne Israel, Bilaam has Balak
          erect seven altars and offer two
          sacrifices upon each, such that in total he brought forty-two sacrifices.

          Sanhedrin 105b Rab
          Judah said in Rab’s name: One should always occupy himself with Torah and
          good deeds, though it be not for their own sake, for out of good work
          misapplied in purpose there comes [the desire
          to do it] for its own sake. For as a reward for the forty-two sacrifices offered up by Balak, he was
          privileged that Ruth should be his
          descendant; [as] R. Jose b. Huna said: Ruth
          was the daughter of Eglon, the grandson of Balak, king of Moab.

          The Gemara takes this incident
          with Balak and connects it to an incident in
          Sefer Melachim:

          Sotah
          47a – R. Hanina said: On account of the forty-two sacrifices which Balak, king of Moab, offered, were forty-two children cut off from Israel.

          The Gemara here refers to a
          somewhat obscure incident told towards the beginning of Sefer Melachim II, at
          the end of chapter 2. Shortly after Eliyahu’s death, his disciple and successor
          as prophet, Elisha, comes to the city of Bet El and is
          greeted by a group of youngsters who hurl insults at him. Elisha curses them
          with HaShem’s Name, at which
          point two bears come out of the forest and tear apart forty-two of them.

          Melachim (II Kings) 2:22-25
          And the waters were healed until this day, according to the saying of Elisha
          which he spoke. 23. And he went up from
          there to Beth-El; and as he was going up by the way, there came out little
          children from the city, and mocked him,
          and said to him, Go up, you bald head; go
          up, you bald head. 24. And he turned
          back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name
          of the Lord. And there came out two female bears from the wood, and tore forty two
          children of them. 25. And he went from there to Mount Carmel, and from there he
          returned to Samaria.

          The Zohar then comes to connect
          these two incidents:

          Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page
          224a – R. Simeon said: ‘Observe that the forty-two offerings brought by Balaam and Balak were
          offerings diverted from the “other side” towards the Holy One,
          blessed be He, and so the “other side”, which is called “curse”, had to be
          repaid these offerings from Israel. This is the inner implication of the verse,
          “And he looked behind him and saw them”. That is to say, “behind him”, meaning
          the “other side”, which stands behind the Shechinah. He turned “and saw them”,
          as being meet for punishment; “and cursed them in the name
          of the Lord”, inducing the Divine Name,
          as it were, to discharge the debt owing to the “other side”, for the latter’s
          offerings which had been diverted to Him. Thus all is made right before the
          Holy One, blessed be He, and not a single
          act is lost, whether for good or for evil.

          Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page
          224b – Straightway “he [Elisha] cursed them in the name of the Lord”. “And there came forth two bears”-she bears, as indicated by the
          feminine numeral sh’tayim, big with offspring, “and tare forty and two
          children of them”, in correspondence, as has been explained, to the number of offerings brought by Balak.

          This is a very perplexing incident. How can the taunts of
          children make them worthy of death? After all, HaShem
          is clearly with Elisha and He is clearly the one
          controlling the two bears. Thus we must conclude that HaShem is executing the death penalty on these forty-two, because of their words.

          Since the youth’s taunt involves the head
          and the lack of hair, we can begin to understand that
          the sin that they commit is idolatry.
          After all, demeaning a prophet and implying that he has no connection with HaShem, is
          tantamount to idolatry; and we know
          that idolatry does carry the death penalty.
          Further, the Zohar has also connected these children
          with the idolatry and rebellion of Balak and
          Bilaam.

          The death of these young people is ridding the land of that
          which is impure. At the same time, it is sanctifying
          the name of HaShem by
          exacting the Torah punishment for idolatry. The land of Israel, then, is being recreated to become what it
          was in the beginning: Gan Eden.

          I think the author loses the plot a little at the end. I almost think that they don’t realize that their own stories are mythical.

          http://www.betemunah.org/fortytwo.html

        • TheNuszAbides

          It seems that Disqus works in coffee shops.

          that would explain why I spent about four hours in one the other day.

        • Kodie

          How come they were changed to spoons?

        • Greg G.

          Some people were starving and named constellations for food and utensils. Those two stuck.

          I think they are easier to find when you look for ladles.

        • What do you mean Moon God?

        • Pofarmer

          The Hebrews appear to have hodge podged their religion together from all kinds of local religions and customs. Elijah is the Euhumerization of a Sun God. Elisha, is the Euhumerization of a Moon God.

        • Oh, that I had not heard before.

        • Pofarmer

          We’re kind of pit there on the leading edge.

        • Hmm?

        • Pofarmer

          Out there.

        • Oh.

        • Pofarmer

          The bible actually gives the game away.

          But Elisha said to Elijah once more, “As surely as the Lord lives, and as your soul lives, I will not leave you.” … And as they still went on, and talked, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire came between them, and parted them; and Elijah went up in a whirlwind on the fiery chariot to heaven.

        • Pofarmer
        • Pofarmer
        • The Bible makes a big deal about Elijah’s hair (Samson’s too). That’s a clue that they were originally sun gods. (Rays of sun = hair–get it??)

          Elisha, on the other hand was bald, rather like the moon.

          Tangent: Allah was also originally a moon god. Clue: crescent moon as a symbol for Islam.

        • Seems thin.

          I’m pretty sure that’s a myth about Allah. From what I recall the crescent moon was only adopted as a symbol in the 1400s, and was used by Constantinople originally. The Ottomans got it after conquering the city, and it spread out to Islam in general from them.

        • Wikipedia agrees with you: “The claim that Allah was worshipped as a moon god in Arabia is a fringe theory that has been proposed by some groups of scholars, including American evangelicals since the 1990s.”

          Thanks for prompting me to check it out.

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

        • Sure. I remember Jack Chick pushing it in a tract.

        • BlackMamba44

          Being called baldy would make sense, too, when compared to the sun (god).

        • Kodie

          Is this the reason men freak out about losing their hair? Bears?

    • Joe

      Somebody was obviously able to conceive of such a being.

  • Glad2BGodless

    When standing at the Pearly Gates, as the price of admission could I simply opt out of having free will? Why couldn’t that be an option?

  • carbonUnit

    I don’t understand why this is a binary system: heaven or hell. Really? No middle ground? You are good or bad. No such thing as a minor offense? Where’s the threshold for hell? [edit: disbelieve? Write snide comments on a blog? Steal a candy bar? Be a brutal dictator? ] Some “Christians” have really done damage to my spouse and myself. Should they go to hell for it? (Yeah tempting to wish that on them, but should they fear hell or do they think they will be forgiven?)

    I don’t think a serving time in hell, then getting released to heaven makes any sense. Any time served in hell would pale against eternity. (Might not seem like it at the time!) Perhaps intermediate realms between heaven and hell for those not totally good or bad people? But something like that isn’t Biblical, is it??

    • Glad2BGodless

      In the TV show, “The Good Place,” they discuss this very point.

      • carbonUnit

        Hmm, missed that one. I wonder how my Bible-minded spouse would take it…

    • Joe

      Us lowly humans, of finite intelligence, have managed to create a justice system where the punishment is tailored to the severity of the crime. A binary system is something a only savage would come up with.

      • Kodie

        Our justice system of finite intelligence punishes some people for doing nothing really wrong, and cannot distinguish between someone who continues to be a danger to others and someone who intends never to commit such offense again, and the finite intelligence arises when we give no real incentive to the latter, nor preparation. When we imprison people for a year or a couple of years or whatever, we as humans of finite intelligence, root for them to fail again, thus dealing someone who has done very little wrong, truly penitent, and never meaning to do it again, little reason to trust in society, and every reason to remain a criminal, such that a minor crime can deal someone a life sentence anyway.

      • MR

        Our ancestors lived in a kill or be killed world. One person can disrupt an entire tribe. Harsh punishments were likely necessary. The dynamics have changed, but those tribal sensibilities are sticky and have passed down to our times. There was once a need for black and white, and it pains people (like Ameribear and the other “objectivists”) that the world simply isn’t.

    • epeeist

      I don’t understand why this is a binary system: heaven or hell

      False dilemma is the theists favourite fallacy, apart from No True Scotsman of course. Oh, and ad populum. Hmm, and red herring.

      Well, whatever, they always finish off with ad baculum anyway.

      • carbonUnit

        I don’t understand why this is a binary system: heaven or hell,

        False dilemma is the theists favourite fallacy

        Yes, indeed, but heaven or hell is not a fallacy, it’s a feature! It’s the way the system seems to be set up, unless I’m unaware of intermediate options.

      • Michael Neville

        Non sequitur is also popular with Christians.

    • eric

      Well, remember that the binary choice is a comparatively recent invention, from the Protestant revolution. Which then embarrassed the Catholics so much that they adopted it. But for the first ~1200 years of Christian history, there was purgatory where pretty much every Christian went for a time. There was also a ‘nice’ part of hell where the heathens the church respected but who never had the chance to know about Jesus (Aristotle, etc…) went.

      • carbonUnit

        Yeah, I knew purgatory was kicking around somewhere, just couldn’t remember the details. Again, it has the problem of being a vanishingly small punishment against the eternity of heaven. (Didn’t the Catholic clerics try to get people to make payments to them to get loved ones out of purgatory?)

        • epicurus

          Indulgences. That’s what put a bee under Luther’s bonnet and got the Reformation started.

    • My contribution: everyone gets into heaven, but they get great wisdom when they come in. Not only does that mean that they will use their free will correctly (that is, perfectly morally), but they will punish themselves in proportion to how bad they lived their life. They will create their own purgatory, and on one has to impose it on them.

      Imagine Hitler or Stalin coming into heaven. With their new wisdom, they’d realize what unbelievable assholes they’d been, and they’d have an eternity of mental agony (in proportion to their crimes).

      • carbonUnit

        Gee, too bad God didn’t give them that wisdom earlier instead of later…

      • Kodie

        Will people be restored of their own mental illnesses? I think in life, people can be incredibly hard on themselves and live as though they deserve punishment they don’t. It’s not exactly a religious monopoly. Anyway, there would have to be objective morality, and once people became sickened by themselves and how distant they were from the mroal standard, what actually keeps them from justifying whatever they did?

        • The objective-morality advocates never seem to realize that they must prove objective morality and that that morality is reliably accessible. Perhaps it exists, but you only understand it when you get the great wisdom/insight you receive on entering heaven. (In that case, it might as well not exist for all the good it does us imperfect slobs down here on earth.)

          I would’ve thought that a reasonable hell would let everyone in. With great wisdom, all the bad people would be horrified at the bad things they’d done in life (in proportion to how bad they were).

          what actually keeps them from justifying whatever they did?

          Are you saying, why wouldn’t they use their great minds to say, “Ah, well you see, in hindsight, I was justified in that bad thing I did when I was 22 because, given the imperfect information I had, it made sense at the time” (or whatever)? Sure, they could, but I’m assuming a moral wisdom that would reliably punish them for their deeds.

          But then this is all just handwaving. Justifying a nonexistent heaven isn’t an important goal for me.

        • Kodie

          Are you saying, why wouldn’t they use their great minds to say,

          I honestly don’t remember what I was trying to get at. When most people do something they know is ordinarily pretty drastic, they will be like “just following orders” or something. People don’t join radical groups because they feel like a little murder or vandalism or whatever, they find the crime justified by how threatened they feel by someone’s behavior upsetting their own way of life. It’s tribal, and people can be easily manipulated to belong to a tribe and whatever the tribe justifies. Those “others” need to know they are messing with the wrong bunch. They can be lied to, or fed a particular worldview that makes them biased and feel justified to act on that bias. Do you think Hitler died regretting anything? Do you think he hypothetically got to an afterlife and realized what a monster he was? I can’t believe any great wisdom can override the human ego. When you do something, you generally justify it to yourself. When you cut off another driver, it’s because they are too slow and you are running late or you’re just an impatient dick. I deal with people and it’s always me who has to modify to accommodate them. They never feel like maybe they should listen to me, and others advise that “that’s just who he is” or something. Well, why does someone else get to be who they are, and use that as their justification? Why can’t I be who I am? I’m being kind of vague about something specific, but I think we could generate a lot of power if we could tap human ego for something other than hot air and aggravation.

          Nobody really thinks they’re a bad person, except those mentioned in my prior post who are too hard on themselves, and even that’s ego, that’s worrying too hard that you personally have affected others so detrimentally that you want to disappear. Everyone who does anything wrong has decided they deserve something more than someone else. As much as Christians insist they are humble, they only mean humble toward god, their creator and master and lord. I can’t imagine a heaven where people all of a sudden get along with everyone else, a heaven without politics. Maybe it’s like a dictatorship where being a dick is forbidden and they have to be all fake. So, not just souls glorifying god for eternity, but all Stepford and shit.

        • I can’t imagine a heaven where people all of a sudden get along with everyone else, a heaven without politics.

          And yet I frequently read people saying that if everyone were more like Jesus, wouldn’t this be a better place? (As if that was actually a practical approach to improving society.)

        • Michael Neville

          But which Jesus are they talking about? There are as many Jesuses (Jesoi?) as there are Christians, ranging from Christian Identity Jesus to Prosperity Gospel Jesus to Hippy-dippy Jesus to Liberation Theology Jesus with many other Jesupodes inbetween.

        • Kodie

          If everyone subscribed to communism, that would work too.

        • TheNuszAbides

          I can’t believe any great wisdom can override the human ego. When you do something, you generally justify it to yourself

          seems like a big part of drive-by theist comment culture. and for bonus irony they ‘justify’ their motives as being informed/touched by the holy ghost’s wisdomfinger or whatever.

          I’m being kind of vague about something specific, but I think we could generate a lot of power if we could tap human ego for something other than hot air and aggravation.

          hence a good number of the human achievements that have left a mark other than mass graves, toxic landfills etc. and again, the bulk of the tools who parrot the ‘arguments’ and ‘evidence’ from Apologetica will externalize the gains – ‘all glory to the lord’ et puking cetera.

          Nobody really thinks they’re a bad person, except those mentioned in my prior post who are too hard on themselves, and even that’s ego … they only mean humble toward god

          i started distracting myself from church before I figured out my own personal “only toward god” loophole, which (a) stuck me with a guilt/self-loathing complex for decades and (b) may very well [or, well, not very well] have helped prevent me from becoming as much of a selfish/smug asshole as i otherwise could. (I probably could’ve ended up much like – no, I won’t put out the name or even initials – you can probably guess if you consider the most likely chap to search for his name in the comment threads to make sure he keeps score on who’s out to get him.) (also in recognition of the Fake-Lawyer-Beetlejuice Effect.) anyway, point being not that an exception needs pointing out or anything, just that I missed the training &or killer instinct on that particular point of attitude. and yep, ego always at least around the corner, judging the shit out of everything to misdirect from the self-absorption.

    • epicurus

      Isn’t the traditional Protestant Christian view that the slightest misstep or minor offence which we all make is a horrible detestable thing to God and so we all deserve hell – those who accept/believe Jesus, get made clean/unsinned and this keeps them out of hell?

    • Kodie

      Humans are much more sensible than god. Except fhe humans that believe god is the server of ultimate justice and ultimate mercy, meaning he could select humans for heaven or hell that wouldn’t be otherwise qualified, as in whim, as in caprice, as in, whatever god wants to do, god is allowed to do. If there are only 2 places to go, tough luck some or most or all of the time, but Christians like to think they are saving us drowners into their rescue boat. Doesn’t seem like anything like a sure thing. Believing in Jesus even if you are rotten or just broken down to believe you are pretty much rotten seems to be what most Christians want to be true, ignoring actual behavior, ignoring (I think) James. They sincerely want it to be true that a person without Jesus in their heart cannot “achieve” heaven when they die. It doesn’t matter if you’re a good person, it doesn’t matter on earth no matter what you do, good or bad, according to the latest bunch of Christians. How is Jesus a sorting mechanism between people who deserve to go to heaven and people who deserve some other option. Believing Jesus rose from the dead doesn’t seem to be that easy or that hard. I tend to think of Christians as self-centered assholes. It’s probably a decent bet most aren’t, but neither are most atheists engaged in the debate and probably have no idea about Christian apologetics and could be one transcendental experience away from the nearest superstition. I digress. If you make belief rank higher than behavior, it’s so fucking easy to attract followers than if you demanded a particular behavior. That said, many Christian denominations demand particular behavior. I am not actually sure why that’s important to them, except that without behavior differences, humans can’t judge other humans “by their fruit”, or whether or not they are worthy. I mean, that’s how humans actually do judge other humans, how they fit into society as we wish them to, it’s by behavior, not piety. As humans, we love to judge people for not fitting in, but also as humans, we want a safety valve, we could be forgiven, not because everyone is flawed (and judged by ourselves), but because we know the password, essentially. Self-centered assholes of course want a different way out of this, so invented the “password”, the belief in Jesus above behaving decently among other humans.

      • MR

        password

        I kind of feel like part of it is a desire to belong in some kind of elite club where you think you have some kind of esoteric knowledge that makes you better than everyone else. “Sure, maybe I’m not the best, or the brightest, but I have access to the Mother Fucking Master of the Universe, bitches, so take that!”

        I had to analyse someone’s work recently and during the interview I dropped a swear word to kind of break the tension. A few moments later, the gentleman, referring to someone else, made it clear that such language was not appreciated. You could see his Christian holiness kind of rise up in a display of dominance, where before he had been at a disadvantage, he now had a righteous upper hand. You could just feel the “I’m better than you” in his voice and demeanor. Not five minutes later I was amused when he himself was recounting some workplace incident and came out with, “They don’t know what the fu-fu-fu-, what they’re fr-reaking doing!”

        • Kodie

          So religion is nothing about humility.

  • Joe

    If you just accept that religion is made-up, you don’t need any of the defenses that Craig proposes.

    It’s really simple, and apologetics just goes away.

    • Pofarmer

      If only it were that easy.

      • Joe

        It was not meant as a workable solution, just an observation.

        Considering apologetics, at it’s core, is making excuses for what should be the most obvious thing in the universe, it’s doomed to failure from the start. It has to come up with “solutions” that contradict others (free will vs omniscience), or leads down unpleasant and unpalatable pathways (divine command theory). Craig even spent time and considerable effort writing a book on why one of the longest standing and best supported scientific theories (General relativity) was wrong, all just to support something he believes.

        At what point do you just bring out Occam’s razor?

        • Pofarmer

          Oh, I agree 100%. Once you accept that it’s fiction, all the other nonsense just melts away. Getting to that point is the hard part.

  • Tony D’Arcy

    We all know that heaven is full up by now. According to the Bible only 144,000 allowed in. St Peter has locked the gate and thrown away the key.

    • Shadow

      12,000 male virgins from each of the 12 tribes of Israel. Basically 144,000 virgin jewish males.

      • Sounds like quite a party. Sign me up.

        • Tony D’Arcy

          But the devil has the best tunes.

        • Kodie

          But don’t call it a sausage party, that wouldn’t be kosher.

  • The Bofa on the Sofa

    1) If God is all powerful, then God could create a world in which everyone freely lives their life in such a way that they merit getting into heaven.
    2) If God is all loving, then he would want such a world.

    See? All you have to do is posit that either
    1) God is not omnipotent, or
    2) God wants (at least some of) us to go to hell

    Contradiction solved. Either God is not all powerful or he is an asshole.

    • Shadow

      I vote for both. The babble already says he can’t repel chariots of iron. . .and claims his true name is jealous.

      • Michael Neville

        The Christian god’s true name is Harold. It’s in the prayer: “Our father who art in heaven, Harold be thy name….”

        • Chuck Johnson

          And Harold is obsessed with possessing the income, the power, and the glory for ever and ever.

        • In ancient times, knowing the name of a supernatural being gave you power over that being.

          Use your new-found power only for good, Grasshopper.

        • Michael Neville

          You never let me have any fun.

          </snivel>

    • Kevin K

      Other option.

      3) God is non-existent.

      There is no punishment or reward after death because the concept is nonsensical and the ultimate denial of reality.

  • Foxglove

    I suppose I don’t have the philosophical mindset. For me the argument is very simple. I have a son, and when he was little he got up to stuff from time to time. Just like all children do. And I got mad as hell at him sometimes. But I didn’t torture him, not for a second. The idea of torturing him forever and ever–well, that’s not one that would ever interest me. I love him, and what I wanted him to do was learn right from wrong. So that’s the target I aimed at.

    Love does not imply torture–under any circumstances. If you torture, you don’t love. This isn’t rocket science. Let what’s-his-face or anybody else come up with whatever argument they want. Somebody who loves knows what love is. And it does not imply torture.

    • Chuck Johnson

      Love does not imply torture–under any circumstances.-Foxglove

      In ancient times, love implied torture.
      So WLC and others embarrass themselves when they rely on ancient scriptures to guide their moral beliefs.

    • Their bizarre response is: How do you know God (who’s way smarter than you) couldn’t have a good reason for the cruelty he imposes? Gotcha! You can’t prove that this god is wrong or inconsistent.

      What can you do besides facepalm?

      • sushisnake

        Nope. You follow it where the logic takes you. If god can have a good reason to impose cruelty, he could have a good reason to lie, mislead, deceive and start false religions, couldn’t he?

  • The Bofa on the Sofa

    People in our world have free will

    False premise.

    How do you know you have free will? An omnipotent god could give you the appearance of having free will despite not having it.

    Moreover, there is no basis for the claim that having free will is a virtue, either, but that’s a different issue. As long as we have the appearance of free will, who cares?

    • Glad2BGodless

      Of course I have free will! What other choice is there?

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        From Bull Durham:

        Well, actually, nobody on this planet ever really chooses each other. I mean, it’s all a question of quantum physics, molecular attraction, and timing. Why, there are laws we don’t understand that bring us together and tear us apart

    • I was trying to make a Christian argument. Free will is an claim they make, so I was taking that assumption.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        I understand, and it is a baseless assumption.

  • MR

    I cannot fathom a loving God creating even one soul destined for eternal torment. I would gladly relinquish my entire existence, even eternal bliss in heaven, to prevent the eternal suffering of another. How could I possibly enjoy the party in God’s wonderful mansion knowing all the while there’s a torture chamber in the basement? The story makes no sense.

    • carbonUnit

      I cannot fathom a loving God creating even one soul destined for eternal torment.
      Especially given that some of the bad players in the Bible do things that are amazingly dumb (if they had free will and some sense.) It is as if they are playing a role necessary to make the story come out “right”.

    • Perhaps you’ve identified the personality trait that distinguishes someone who wants to be a zombie for the Lord from a rationalist.

    • Susan

      I cannot fathom a loving God creating even one soul destined for eternal torment.

      Sorry to harp on about this but I’m endlessly dazed by the fact that even atheists don’t care about hundreds of millions of years of natural selection.

      Whether there’s a hell or not, the story of a loving deity that creates humans so they can live forever in eternal bliss is SO at odds with the reality of natural selection that I keep wondering why atheists fixate on hell.

      Even if there were only heaven and no hell (although the priests and the catholic teachers filled me with stories about hell that kept me up at night), natural selection is a horror story that is completely incompatible with the claim of a loving deity.

      WHY do even atheists take for granted the idea that the wellbeing of humans is the only thing that matters?

      What about our fellow hominids?

      What about our mammalian ancestors?

      What about everything else?

      I swear we give theists WAY too much room on this because we don’t even factor in our fellow earthlings.

      • MR

        I get that as an atheist, but for most theists, certainly the creationists, talk of natural selection is a non-starter. I do think, however, that there is an argument to be made that the current state of animal kind is incompatible with the idea of a loving God. It’s absurd to think that animals should bear the suffering they do because of man. Particularly when they suffer so in the absence of man. It makes no sense.

        • Pofarmer

          In order to make their theology work, they have to discount everything except humans. Once you get into other species then it becomes pretty clear they are off in the weeds.

        • Susan

          −In order to make their theology work, they have to discount everything except humans.

          That’s what got me banned from Strange Notions. Responding to Spitzer’s anecdotal bullshit about how his failing eyesight gave him the opportunity to bond with people who drove him around. And their ability to feel good for doing so.

          The “greater good” that came from Spitzer’s comfortable vision loss surrounded by parishioners who were willing to drive him around to warm, comfortable places.

          It was all about Spitzer.

          Vogt (who loathed me, but I walked on eggshells for three years, responding to their vitriol as carefully as I could while I watched respectful commenters who understood science and philosophy get picked off one by one (usually during the night)
          followed by a wave of new atheists who had no idea it happened.

          His justification was “snark” but as often as he was asked to define it, never did.

          Then, a new wave.

          Then, the Great Purge with thousands of comments by great commentators “accidentally” deleted.

          The accusation again was “snark”, no matter how snarky the catholics got.

          I’m not dwelling on that. It’s just that that’s all religion has ever provided. Lies and silencing when their lies are called out.

          Anyway, after three years of walking on eggshells listening to their “greater good” bullshit, I misspoke in a very clear and respectful paragraph but used the phrase (well placed in context) something like “that show no compassion for our fellow earthlings”.

          And Vogt pretended that I meant humans and used it as an excuse to ban me without explanation.

          I had 21 upvotes for it (not unheard of at the time, but fairly rare, and I foggily remember that a couple came from catholics)

          But he deleted it so quickly and banned me, I can’t vouch for it.

          I know I’m rambling.

          My point is that religion wants to deal with anything but facts (when it comes to their claims about deities). And that it claims morality but doesn’t want to talk about it when push comes to shove. And if you try to talk about it, they will run away (if they’re not in charge) or ban you (if they are).

        • Pofarmer

          I was banned for calling a stupid article by Feser-stupid. Honestly, there’s just so much a person can take.

          I was there both before and after the Great Purge. I’d left for a while and came back. The first articles I’d commented on where the ones by Carrier about the mythical Jesus. It became clear quite quickly that they couldn’t deal with his arguments honestly. Nothing has changed.

          Regarding Spitzer. One of the last Homilies I ever sat through was one on how “God Is infinitely Good” and the kids had been telling me about how they had told the story of a blind Monk somewhere who just felt so blessed to be able to feel the warm sunshine on his face, or some such bullshit, I dunno. Well of course he would say that, it’s how he rationalized his position! Anyway, I sat through this crap while all the while my marriage was suffering from this crap, as the least of the problems this theology caused. Malaria? God is infinitely good. Childhood cancer? God is infinitely good. Horrific genetic diseases? God is infinitely good. Fuck a bunch of that shit.

          I don’t honestly know why I’m still commenting on these pages. My mind was made up years ago. I suppose if it weren’t for the disorder being wrought in my country by these idiots, there wouldn’t seem to be the pressing need. That, and I genuinely feel connected to the members here, many of whom were around and commenting during my deconversion process.

        • Susan

          for most theists, certainly the creationists, talk of natural selection is a non-starter.

          Even creationists can’t escape it. They can pretend natural selection isn’t real but they are stuck with “kinds” (which means they can pretend lots of things but they can’t pretend there aren’t other earthlings involved).

          I honestly think that atheists are often as programmed to think it’s all about humans that they won’t point out what seems obvious to me.

          A forest fire.

          I don’t give a shit about hell. It’s imaginary. It tormented me as a child. My concern about not just my fate but the fate of my fellow humans as taught to me as though it were fact by the priests and teachers.

          But what I couldn’t fathom and what we never make them explain is how a loving deity created forest fires.

          I could go through layer after layer of the effects of forest fires if you’d like. The news only talks about human lives and financial losses.

          We don’t hold their psychopathic deity’s feet to the fire because (I believe) we take it for granted that only human suffering matters.

          Which is why we follow them down their rabbit holes and argue about a mythological hell.

          I think we grant them far too much if we go there directly.

          They should have to contend with reality before we start chasing down their stories.

        • Susan

          I get that as an atheist

          What troubles me is that most atheists don’t seem to get it.

          That is, they take for granted in these discussions, that it’s not important.

          I occasionally harp on about it because the discussion skips over everything but humans.

          Not very often. And I wonder why.

      • Giauz Ragnarock

        I think natural selection in the case of modern man (starting with as soon as we were efficient at hunting species to extinction and bringing cargo across large bodies of water… honestly, those might have come at completely different times depending on the people we are talking about) is pretty horrific. Before that, animals lived to what counted as old age for them after reproducing. Some of their offspring didn’t get to reproduce, and their immediate families faded away. However, their distant cousin families are still going strong since their beginnings millions of years ago- the kids are just quite a bit “uglier” XD None of the many different looking ancestors of life on Earth are in a heaven, but more importantly the chemicals that composed their bodies are not being endlessly tortured in the patron saint of the Nazis’ basement.

        I may have missed your point.

        • Susan

          I may have missed your point.

          My point is that the most cruel kind of suffering is part of life on this planet.

          Cycles of famine, drought, disease, floods, fire…

          Gangrene, tooth decay..

          Two chicks in a nest and only enough food for one so the other simply hatches, draws breath and starves until it dies.

          An herbivore escaping predators one last time but stumbles and breaks her foot in the process. She will not make it through the night before the same or other predators get her but she will suffer terrible pain and fear before they do (eat her alive, as they usually do.)

          An aging predator too weak to hunt, slowly, desperately starving to death.

          I could go on and on and on.

          When theists give the bullshit “free will” defense, they disregard the suffering of all other eathlings. .

          When we say it’s a cruel deity that creates hell, we ignore the hell on earth it created for all other earthlings

          The creator of earth is more like the Gene Hackman character from The Quick and the Dead than anything resembling goodness.

          All we have to do is look around at the fate of our fellow earthlings to know that no “good” deity would come up with something like natural selection.

          =====

          Edit 4 hours later: to add (eat her alive, as they usually do)

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          I kind of forgot the theistic evolutionary idea that “God did it to make humans”. Without that, all of that stuff is just part of the horrors of everyday life. Saying someone intentionally did all of that is just fucked in the head. Thank you for appropriately bumming me out, Susan.

        • Susan

          Thank you for appropriately bumming me out, Susan.

          It’s always solidly (and sadly) there in the back of my mind in these discussions. An elephant in the room that atheists too often ignore. And theists cold-bloodedly dismiss when you manage to hold their feet to the fire.

          Free fucking Will, my arse. It’s an appalling response and we should never forget that.

          That it’s the reality of a planet made by natural forces doesn’t make it less sad.

          But when it’s ascribed to a moral agent, that agent is responsible.

          Greater fucking Good, my arse.

          (Sorry. There’s just no excuse. None.)

          I have described it as having a father who builds a ship, fills it with all kinds of innocent life forms, sets it on fire and offers to put me on a lifeboat.

          And I’m supposed to love him for that.

        • sushisnake

          I don’t think atheists ignore natural selection, Susan, you just can’t get theists to concede its meaning. The first thing they pull out of the toolbox is “only humans have free will/morals”. You can demolish that one very easily with lots of factual examples of animals choosing to behave in a moral, empathetic way, but then the theist will come back with ” only humans are made in god’s image”. You can’t disprove an assertion masquerading as fact.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Greater fucking Good, my arse.

          Am luvin’ it.

        • Susan

          Am luvin’ it’.

          The phrasing was definitely your influence. 🙂

    • Kodie

      Technically, how can you enjoy a moment of your life knowing how much suffering is going on in the world that you can’t do much about?

      • MR

        The difference would be, if God existed, then we would be complicit in worshipping someone who created billions of people knowing he was condemning them to eternal torment. In a godless world, we’re all in the same boat ekeing out what happiness we can.

        • Kodie

          That’s a pretty important difference, but I think most of us shield ourselves from knowing or realizing how horrifying this world can be, every single day. Once in a while, a powerful story on the news punches everyone in the eye for a few days. Sometimes, they give to charity, or start a foundation, which is a more helpful reaction than lighting a candle. But there is some kind of meaningful symbolic behavior such as gathering to other people and enshrining our own feelings in teddy bears and candles, etc., It’s not something we take lightly, but then on an ordinary day when everything seems ok, maybe there’s no real benefit to thinking about things we’ll get horrified about when we can do so little about it mostly. We avoid knowing, we feel detached when we do know, we leave things up to other people, and life has to go on. If we all mourned every day for everything, if we felt it acutely and deeply as those more newsworthy big story tragedies, we’d never get anything done, no one would find us attractive, and the species would mope itself to extinction.

  • axially/tilted

    “On the one hand, the Bible teaches that God is love”.
    On the other hand, I’m calling bullshit.

  • Craig

    Whilst I am Theist I reject the belief in eternal hell.

    Eternal Hell cannot be reconciled with a Morally Perfect God.

    WLC is correct in some things he says but certainly not in everything. He accepts eternal hell because he has left moral reason behind and taken a leap of faith onto the Bible.

    It is more plausible to believe that a Supreme Moral Law Giver ( God ) exists over humanity but that God cannot be reconciled with a god of eternal hell.

    • Michael Neville

      Why should we accept a “Supreme Moral Law Giver” when morality is subjective?

      • Chuck Johnson

        “Why should we accept a “Supreme Moral Law Giver” . . . ”
        By definition, that’s the traditional reason.

      • Craig

        You come to know what is wrong subjectively and internally but that does not mean that what is wrong is subjective.

        Murder is human behaviour and nothing more than that or there is really something wrong with it.

        The only way that murder could be really wrong is if there is an objective standard of morality and moral law external to ourselves that prohibits such an action.

        On the brute fact of nature alone, there is nothing at all really wrong with murder.

        • Chuck Johnson

          On the brute fact of nature alone, there is nothing at all really wrong with murder.-Craig

          On the brute fact of nature alone, there are things wrong with killing, and there are things right with killing.

        • Craig

          Murder and Killing are not the same. Murder has evil intent and malevolence.

          Killing can be protective against Murder.

        • Chuck Johnson

          It’s more complicated than you have mentioned.
          Murder can also be protective against murder.

        • Craig

          All Killing is NOT murder.

        • Michael Neville

          Where do you draw the line? I asked you before and I ask you again, I killed people in combat, was that murder? My pacifist brother-in-law claims that it is.

        • Damien Priestly

          As always…it depends, there is no objective moral answer, unlikely he will admit that.

        • Michael Neville

          I agree with you but I want Mr. Brute Facts to explain whether or not killing in wartime is murder and to justify his answer.

        • Chuck Johnson

          That’s why we have very extensive laws on this subject, and very extensive court systems and prison systems.
          But I expected that you knew that.

        • Kodie

          Wrongness is clamped to the definition of murder, the vocabulary word we use when killing is considered “wrong”. But what conditions of killing would be labeled as murder and not justified killing? That’s subjective.

        • Joe

          Murder has evil intent and malevolence.

          Why is this significant? If I murdered in a cheery manner would it not be objectively wrong?

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          “Murder and Killing are not the same. Murder has evil intent and malevolence.”

          By that “objective morality”, the killing the Nazis performed could not be considered murder as they were killing “evil people” for a “righteous cause”. They wholeheartedly believed anyone telling them differently to be a liar.

        • Michael Neville

          Humans are social animals. We evolved morality to help us live together in groups. We have also evolved empathy, the ability to understand and vicariously experience the feelings of others. We see murder as causing harm to others and so as a general rule we condemn murder and punish murderers. However, what is murder? I’m a combat veteran. I have literally killed other people for wearing the wrong clothes. Did I murder them?

          If you claim there’s an objective standard of morality then you need to justify that claim. Saying your god, who your own propaganda shows killing people just because he felt like it, is the source of this standard will be rather hard. First you have to show that gods exist. Once you’ve shown that, then you have to show that your favorite god is one of the ones who exists. After that, then you have to show that a sadistic, sociopathic god is a source of morality. After that we can discuss whether or not that morality is objective (while you’re at it, better get solid definitions of both morality and objective ready).

          I should warn you that you’re hardly the first theist to wander onto this blog claiming that objective morality exists. You’re not even in the first hundred. None of your predecessors have successfully made that argument.

        • Craig

          On brute facts alone, what you wrote describes human behaviour.

          On the brute fact of nature alone, there is no moral obligation ( no moral ought ) that the human species as a whole ought to flourish and go on and survive. Nor can there be any moral prohibition ( moral ought not ) against it being destroyed.

          I am staying completely with the brute facts and moral reasoning and I am taking no leaps of faith.

          By moral reason alone it is more plausible in thinking that there is an objective standard of morality and moral law external to ourselves that makes murder really wrong.

          If there is none then no action can be really right nor wrong. It is all just human behaviour. That is the brute fact.

        • Michael Neville

          I asked a couple of questions which you ignored. Why am I not surprised?

          Your “brute facts” are nothing more than your personal opinion. You cannot show that objective morality and an external source of morality exists, you accept that they do on pure faith. As I explained before, you have to show that a supernatural critter or critters, for convenience let’s call them God or Gods, exist. Then you have to show that these Gods or single God are/is an external source of morality. After that, you have to show that your pet deity makes the cut as an external source of morality.

        • Craig

          It is moral plausible to think that there is an objective standard of morality and an objective moral law.

          That is based in reason and NOT faith.

        • Michael Neville

          It is plausible to think that every proton in the galaxy will spontaneously decay into a pion, a muon and a scattering of neutrinos in the next ten minutes. But is it likely? You need a stronger argument than plausibility.

        • Pofarmer

          It is more plausible to think that there is an objective standard of morality and an objective moral law.

          So, you have access to it then?

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          If morality were objective, I don’t think that question makes sense. Just like physics, there would be no escaping it (ie. saying something is “immoral” would make as much sense as saying something is “non-physical”).

        • I see zero evidence of objective morality (defined by Wm. Lane Craig as “moral values that are valid and binding whether anybody believes in them or not”). Show us (1) that it exists, and (2) that we humans can reliably access it.

          (2) is required because if it exists and we can’t access it, it’s irrelevant.

        • Craig

          Really ? I see evidence every single day for objective oughts and ought nots. People live as though murder is wrong – really wrong – universally wrong. They seek justice when one of their loves ones is murdered.

          They don’t usually think of murder as just a behaviour and a personal subjective preference. They think that you ought not to murder.

        • People live as though murder is wrong – really wrong – universally wrong.

          Nope. People feel very strongly that murder is wrong. That’s it. You don’t get objective morality from that. You seem to equate deeply felt or universally felt moral opinion with objective moral truth. Those are different.

          I see no evidence for objective morality, but if you have any, convince us.

          (Perhaps I should’ve said: I see no evidence, and since you haven’t shown us any, I’m sure you don’t either.)

        • Priya Lynn

          “I see evidence every single day for objective oughts and ought nots.”.

          You haven’t presented such evidence.

          “People live as though murder is wrong – really wrong – universally wrong”. You mean the vast majority of people live that way.

          They live that way because being murdered or having people they love murdered hurts them a great deal and they know that if they don’t want others to murder we all have to agree to a social contract that we won’t murder each other.

        • Kodie

          What’s wrong with murder? Have you ever noticed that you probably think some people deserved to die, so would not subjectively personally preferentially labeled it murder?

          Murder is the word (in English) that humans have used to describe a killing that is wrong in their society, their culture. Along the way, we have decided to justify this or that kind of killing as “something other than murder”. We make conditions, another society develops other conditions. Murder is wrong because that’s what the word means, that’s what humans define what we don’t like about certain killing, but what conditions apply to what we’d label murder is subjective.

        • MR

          A scientist from another planet observing human behavior wouldn’t use the term “murder” any more than we would use the term to apply to animals.

          Have you ever noticed how we use the images of wounded and dead children to justify going to war with some enemy, “The barbarians!,” but we never show the images of the wounded and dead children that our own strikes produce.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          “People live as though murder is wrong – really wrong – universally wrong.”

          Surely, even you can come up with millions of counterexamples?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Really ? I see evidence every single day for objective oughts and ought nots.

          Look closer and you’ll see the contrary.

          People live as though murder is wrong – really wrong – universally wrong.

          Not all people.

          For example, some folk on the planet think it is morally acceptable to kill members of the out group and eat them for food.

          Then there was the Eskimos.

          They seek justice when one of their loves ones is murdered.

          Only in a culture where murder is considered morally reprehensible. Only when justice is available. Take war for example.

          War is premeditated mass murder planned and executed by cultural groups. A civil war is caused by a cultural split within a large cultural group, a split perceived by each side to be so basic that only violent domination of the other side can satisfy it. Terrorism is small scale war usually employed by small cultural groups who are, or believe they are, threatened by a larger cultural group. Genocide is a one sided war where the strongest cultural group seeks not only to violently dominate the weaker, but to murder its population as well. Each type of war has its own cultural rules and is conducted on the basis of one culture against another.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          You are not really explaining what you mean by an objective standard of morality. The phrase does not have the etymological explanatory power you think it does.

        • Pofarmer

          On the brute fact of nature alone, there is no moral obligation ( no moral ought )

          Are you sure about that?

          https://www.amazon.com/Braintrust-Neuroscience-Tells-about-Morality/dp/0691156344/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1517372633&sr=8-1&keywords=braintrust

        • Priya Lynn

          “On the brute fact of nature alone, there is no moral obligation ( no moral ought )”.

          People are able to make better lives for each other by cooperating. On that brutal fact of nature there is a moral obligation to get along. You seem to think nature is necessarily brutal – that’s not the case.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Intersubjectivity is what makes something “right or wrong” and it is different for cultures at different times and places. It is also subject to change within a culture.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          “By moral reason alone it is more plausible in thinking that there is an objective standard of morality and moral law external to ourselves that makes murder really wrong.”

          You’ll try and take Jesus to court then?

        • Ignorant Amos

          I should warn you that you’re hardly the first theist to wander onto this blog claiming that objective morality exists. You’re not even in the first hundred. None of your predecessors have successfully made that argument.

          Not even the only one at this very moment in time.

        • Priya Lynn

          “The only way that murder could be really wrong is if there is an objective standard of morality”. There is no objective standard of morality so by your logic murder isn’t wrong.

          “On the brute fact of nature alone, there is nothing at all really wrong with murder”.

          Wrong. The vast majority of living things prefer life to death. So nature determines that virtually everyone agrees murder is wrong.

        • Max Doubt

          “The only way that murder could be really wrong is if there is an objective standard of morality and moral law external to ourselves that prohibits such an action.”

          Is there?

        • Craig needs to add a dictionary to his list for Santa. There’s no objective anything in the definition of “morality.”

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          “Murder is human behaviour and nothing more than that or there is really something wrong with it.”

          I think you mean there would be something “objectively wrong” with murder. If that were so, how would we have murder to talk about how wrong it is? Murder is a living being behavior with added semantics, a human behavior. What killing is deemed justified and what is deemed murder is relative to the people talking. Adding in a “God” no matter how powerful doesn’t change morality’s inherant relativity given the evidence we observe.

    • Chuck Johnson

      It is more plausible to believe that a Supreme Moral Law Giver ( God ) exists over humanity . . .-Craig

      There is no Supreme Moral Law. – – – Laws change with the times.
      Moral law is an invention of living things on Earth, especially humans.
      God is a fictional character, a human invention.

      Those are the most plausible things to believe.

      • Craig

        Murder is human behaviour and nothing more than that or there is really something wrong with it.

        The only way that murder could be really wrong is if there is an objective standard of morality and moral law external to ourselves that prohibits such an action.

        On the brute fact of nature alone, there is nothing at all really wrong with murder.

        • Chuck Johnson

          When you talk of “nature alone” you are talking about killing.
          Humans invented the idea of murder.
          Murder is a particular kind of killing.
          Only humans have the word “murder”.

        • Craig

          On nature alone there can be nothing really wrong with the type of killing called murder.

          However, do people live as though there is nothing really wrong with murder ? No. No they don’t.

          If someone broke into your home and murdered your family members, then you would believe that what was done was wrong – really wrong and you would want justice.

        • Michael Neville

          If a driver runs into your family’s car and kills family members you would not be happy. You would want justice even though the accident was not malicious and not done on purpose. You wouldn’t just brush it off, “oh well, these things happen, hope the wife’s insurance policy pays off pretty quickly”.

        • Craig

          If the driver was drunk or on drugs, then I would want justice and to see the person punished according to the law.

          If the it was a freak accident ( so to speak ), then the driver may not have been at any fault. He could of just skidded on ice.

        • Michael Neville

          How do you know the difference? Maybe the driver was on drugs but wasn’t tested? You need to be more rigorous.

        • Craig

          You can make up any scenario and on and on it could go but generally speaking if it was a freak accident, then there was no direct or indirect malevolence involved.

        • Michael Neville

          So if it wasn’t malicious you’d just shrug and go about your life. That doesn’t sound reasonable to me.

        • Kodie

          There you go making up conditions whether something is wrong or not.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          Yes, humans are emotional beings with an inherent sense of fairness. If that’s all you mean, then you’ll get no argument here.

        • Jim Jones

          You would want revenge. We replace that with justice because people make mistakes when they seek revenge.

        • Priya Lynn

          “On nature alone there can be nothing really wrong with the type of killing called murder.”.

          The vast majority of living things prefer life to death. On that natural basis murder is wrong.

        • Joe

          On nature alone there can be nothing really wrong with the type of killing called murder.

          That’s why “murder” is a legal term and not a biological one.

        • Chuck Johnson

          On nature alone there can be nothing really wrong with the type of killing called murder.-Craig

          Firstly, on nature alone, murder does not exist.
          Murder is a word invented by humans.

          Secondly, in nature, there are things that are right with killing, and things that are wrong with killing.

          To understand the right and the wrong of it, first learn and understand the implications of the Darwin-Wallace discovery.

        • Kodie

          How does that make it objectively wrong?

        • Katie

          The idea of objective morality doesn’t make much sense to me, since morality is so highly subjective. You say that the only way murder could be really wrong is if there was an objective standard, but I’m not so sure about that. Morals are very subjective. Most societies have some idea of what makes killing another human “acceptable” (few societies would say it’s never acceptable). The range is huge: from war, to self defense, to execution for crimes, to killing another person because they killed someone you cared about, to killing a female family member because she had premarital sex (honor killings).

          Most societies consider murder (which I’ll define as one person killing another outside of that societies designated acceptable killing areas) wrong because it’s outside those areas, which are subjective. We see murder as wrong because it’s a threat. Most people don’t want to kill other people. Humans are social animals, we don’t usually kill each other on sight. Murder disrupts the peace of a community and causes people to feel grief for their loved ones. We consider it wrong because we as humans see human life as valuable. There’s nothing “objective” about it, humans just naturally don’t want other humans to die — unless, of course, it’s in one of any given culture’s subjective parameters for when it’s acceptable for another person to be killed.

          If we weren’t highly social creatures, if we didn’t live together in communities and rely on one another to survive, it’s entirely possible we wouldn’t see murder as wrong. Even now it’s considered acceptable by many to kill someone if they break into your home (your “territory”) so to speak. Most individuals have their own idea of when it is an is not acceptable to take another life. There’s nothing objective about it.

          So, no, I don’t think murder is wrong because of some objective standard, I just think that we as a species generally see a person dying as bad, and a person making another person die as wrong (unless it’s one of the culturally accepted situations). It isn’t objective, it’s just based off of how we function as a species. It’s natural to us, but not based on an objective outside force.

        • Craig

          Let’s look at the broader picture and the brute facts.

          Does the human species as a whole have a moral obligation to flourish and go on and survive ?

          Yes or No ?

        • Katie

          It isn’t a moral obligation, it’s a natural drive. Living things want to be alive and make more living things. That’s true of just about everything that’s alive. Morality comes into the picture as a way we organize how we function with one another. We can’t survive on our own, so we work together. We have a set of traits like compassion and generosity that feel good to us and help us work together, and we call those sorts of traits “morality.” It’s an aid to our natural tendency to “flourish and go on and survive,” not the root cause of it.

        • Craig

          Exactly. There can be a natural drive to flourish and to survive but on the brute facts alone there is no moral obligation to flourish and survive and because of that, then then there can be no moral prohibition against the species being destroyed.

          On your position morality can only be based in biological drives and preferences.

          You and others may want to live in a certain way but you have absolutely no basis to condemn a Stalin or a Hitler as having done anything really wrong – only wrong in relation to your preferences.

        • Katie

          Yeah. It is wrong is relation to my preferences. And the preferences of most other people. I don’t believe in objective morality. However, I still see things as wrong.

          I know that my sense of morality isn’t objective. It’s unique to me, but I still have a sense of right and wrong, that’s just part of being human. It’s how I make sense of the world, like everyone else.

          We still see things as wrong because we see it as harmful to society. A sense of morality that isn’t based off of the idea of objective morality is *still* a sense of morality, it just comes from a different place. I don’t condone the actions of Hitler and Stalin because I find them appalling, and most people would not want to live in a society run by someone like Hitler or Stalin. It’s subjective, yes, but there tend to be commonalities between most people’s sense of morality (murder is wrong, for example).

          As I said above, humans have a natural tendency to not want other humans dead, but because of our subjective nature, we make a variety of exceptions to that rule, depending on our culture, personality, or situation. We generally see mass murder as wrong unless it is a group we were raised to hate or we grew up brainwashed into thinking that the State is always right, and even then there would still be individuals who did not agree.

          I don’t like the idea of killing people because I, as a human, am hardwired to care about other humans. I also have a tendency to care about cute things (I was reluctant to throw a vole I saw scurrying across the floor outside into the cold earlier today) but hate things I find gross (I kill most bugs on sight). Those attitudes are also born out of natural drives (I want to care for things I find aesthetically pleasing or similar to a young child, and I want to destroy things I see as dangerous or off-putting). I don’t like the idea of murder because it makes me upset, because it goes against my natural sense of compassion. Most of us have an innate sense of compassion and don’t want harm to come to other people unless we’ve decided they are a threat or deserve some sort of punishment. We don’t condone murder because a society in which murder is acceptable would be a horrible society to live in.

          All of our standards are subjective and generally come from natural or instinctual places. We don’t need an objective justification. Society has functioned for thousands of years on subjective morality (even if it was seen as objective). In day to day life, I don’t think about the nature of morality. A combination of instincts and socialization have led me to develop a personal sense of right and wrong that I function off of. Just like everyone else.

        • Craig

          Then on your position is just too bad for you and for other people who share your preferences [ if others like a Stalin or a Hitler ] do wrong in relation to your preferences.

          There is no objective right and wrong on your position. Just biological behaviour and brain states.

          What you think as right and wrong is a biological brain state.

          The thing is that you can’t live that out. If someone broke into your home and murdered your family members, then you would think that what was done was really wrong and you would want justice.

          Instead of just saying that is all based upon subjective and biological preferences you would appeal to an objective standard of morality in seeking for Justice.

          As I have said to you before, on your position, there is no moral prohibition against the species being destroyed.

          You can describe human behaviour and tell me your preferences but you can’t prescribe human behaviour and say how things really ought to be.

        • Katie

          Because there is no way that things “ought to be.” There is a way that we generally want things to be. We as a species are collectively figuring out how we want to function. Some of our more ingrained natural instincts can be seen across cultures — murder is generally seen as bad. We want a way to turn our general feeling that murder is bad into something more protective and tangible, so we create legal systems. If my family was murdered, I would go through the legal system and seek what I would consider to be justice. That justice would be seen as generally good — a murder wouldn’t be walking around, and I would gain some closure. It would be important to me personally and others effected.

          But that justice was just a subjective feeling we would have about what would make that situation “right.” Justice is a construct we created to feel safer and like the world was more fair. It’s how we make morality “enforceable,” so to speak. Since morality is so subjective, we codify it so that everyone has to follow the same vague moral code and is punished if they don’t comply. There is also a huge variety in how people are punished depending on the crime.

          And even after codifying morality into law, it’s still subjective. Laws change as a culture’s sense of morality changes. Gay marriage is legal because society as a whole is more accepting of homosexuality, for example.

          So, to sum up, morality is subjective, and changes constantly. Justice is a human construct created to enforce morality (though many laws are also based more off of safety or other factors — few people think of speeding as morally reprehensible). And I know both of those things but still have a sense of right and wrong because that’s how humans make sense of the world.

        • Craig

          You are describing to me again. You are talking to me about preferences but so what ??

          You still have no moral basis to condemn anyone as having done anything really wrong.

          As I have said you before, on your position there is no moral prohibition against the species being destroyed.

          Your position is one of preferences based in biological drives and brains states.

          Nothing is really right and wrong on your position. Nothing !!

        • Katie

          If by “really,” you mean objectively, then yeah. Nothing is.

          But I still have my subjective sense of right and wrong. As do you. As does everyone.

          Just like how my sense of beauty, what smells good, what feels good, what makes for a good book, what makes for a good conversation, etc, etc. are totally subjective.

          Now, it doesn’t matter if we disagree on whether or not a piece of artwork is beautiful, because ultimately your aesthetic opinion doesn’t affect me. Morality, however, is another story.

          Morality is subjective, but it still affects us, so we try to codify it in things like laws and cultural mores. It’s important for most members of a society to be generally on the same page about it.

          That’s why you’ll find that most moral systems are based off of something like the Golden Rule (don’t do to others what you don’t want done to you), because that’s a good way to get a general sense for what is right and wrong. Would you like x if it happened to you? No? Then don’t do it to others. We don’t like pain. We don’t like feeling it, and we also generally don’t like causing it. Sure, some people like to feel or cause it, but that’s because of their subjective experience. And even then they’ll likely have a set of morals around it.

          Since humans are generally the same at their very core, they’ll usually agree on things like murder, because as I’ve explained, we have a variety of natural reasons why we don’t want to see each other die that can be explained fairly well without any supernatural intervention. Just like how most humans would rather sleep on something soft or eat whenever we’re hungry, we would all much rather the people around us weren’t brutally murdered. And so we punish people when they steal mattresses, break into food stores, and kill people. And since we have different reactions to those different actions, we have different punishments for them. None of it is objective, but there’s usually enough agreement within a community based on natural drives, traditions, and shared experiences that most communities will come to an agreement about what should be done about what.

          And when the society evolves and has different moral standards, the laws and punishments change. Like how the death penalty is becoming less common around the world.

          It’s all subjective. There isn’t some grand cosmic reason why we don’t want to off each other. There is a perfectly good natural reason why we don’t want to off each other.

        • Craig

          You’re wasting my time now repeating your same verbiage when I have already pointed out to you what the moral problems are with your position ( which you handwaved away ).

          Any more comments from you and I will block you.

        • Katie

          I’m sorry if I’ve offended you. I tried to be as civil as possible with my wording. I don’t think you’ve made a compelling argument about morality. It may seem like the logical conclusion to you, but there is little to no evidence backing it. It can be unsettling to think that there is no objective force telling us what’s right and wrong, but the evidence suggests that’s just the case. And yet, the majority of us work to avoid hurting people most of the time.

          Block me if you want to. You still haven’t proven your point.

        • Craig

          You’re a person in denial.

          All you have is preferences based in biological drives and brain states. There is no actual right and wrong on your position.

        • Katie

          No, there isn’t. I’m sorry if that makes you uncomfortable.

          I would appreciate it if you would at least respect me enough to understand that I’ve given this some thought. If there was evidence of objective morality, I would be more inclined to believe in it. “It just makes sense to me,” is not a sound argument, especially since you have no evidence to back it up aside from your own feelings. If morality is objective, why is there such a range of moral beliefs? Are most people simply immoral? You’re looking at things from a philosophical perspective, and you’ve provided little in the way of “brute facts.”

          Do you know what is “objectively moral”? Is it simply “don’t murder”? What’s murder? What about other things?

          What are the bounds of objective morality? How can we understand objective morality? Is there a single society that has stumbled upon objective morality? You say you aren’t a Christian, but do you base your idea of objective morality off of some other system?

          The “logical” conclusion to make about thunder was that the gods were angry, until we started to collect evidence and understood the natural causes.

          Logic will only get you to a certain point without evidence. You can think yourself in circles and become increasingly certain of your own ideas, but without evidence, you have no real argument.

        • Yes! There is not “actual” right and wrong (if “actual” means “objective”)!

          If you want to defend objective morality, go for it. Simply stating that you’re right or whining that subjective morality makes you feel yucky does nothing to make your case.

        • Priya Lynn

          “All you have is preferences based in biological drives and brain states. There is no actual right and wrong on your position.”.

          You’re confused. Right and wrong are emergent properties of those biological drives and brain states.

        • Your argument has been thorough and thought provoking. Well done. Craig has no response, which is likely why he’s so whiny.

        • That sounds like a rather petulant attitude when Katie has taken considerable time to point out where your simple argument needs work.

        • Priya Lynn

          I don’t want others to deprive me of the things that make me happy so I agree to a social contract with them we wont’ deprive each other of the things that make us happy.

        • Glad2BGodless

          “Any more comments from you and I will block you.”

          To quote the great moral philosopher Jim Halpert, that’s the smallest amount of power I have ever seen go to someone’s head.

        • Kodie

          Is blocking someone who is trying to have a conversation with you “justice”?

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          You gave us your opinion with hand waving (like special pleading) instead of the extensive explanation given by Katie. This very debate gives credence to the notion that morality is indeed inter-subjective or relative to the person/people (in my phrasing).

        • Pofarmer

          Your position is one of preferences based in biological drives and brains states.

          That’s pretty much what life is. So what?

        • You are talking to me about preferences but so what ??

          Because that’s how morality works. This is news to you?

          You still have no moral basis to condemn anyone as having done anything really wrong.

          There is no really wrong! Can we just use the definitions in the dictionary, please? There’s nothing in the definition of “morality” that talks about wrong vs. really wrong.

          I think it would make more sense if you dropped “really” wrong and found something a little less childish to express what you mean.

        • Craig

          I suspect you will block me from this thread before you have the honesty to confront the brute facts of atheistic naturalism and be consistent with those facts.

        • I might well block you, but I doubt that you will understand the reason why.

          What brute facts? That I can never say with certainty that X is right or wrong?

          There’s nothing to confront. That’s a simple fact of reality. I’m an adult, and I’ve been facing reality for some time now. Doesn’t usually cause me much discomfort, but thanks for your concern. If there are any other consequences of a rejection of objective morality, share them with us.

          I wonder why you’re pursuing that angle. Who cares? If no objective morality has unfortunate consequences, what are we to do with that? I just accept it and move on. You seem to want to use that as motivation to find something more pleasing. I don’t care and am only interested in the truth.

        • Priya Lynn

          “I suspect you will block me from this thread before you have the honesty
          to confront the brute facts of atheistic naturalism and be consistent
          with those facts.”.

          Elsewhere you angrily insisted you weren’t arguing for a theistic morality. This statement of yours contradicts that claim. You also haven’t established that “atheistic naturalism” is necessarily brutish as you falsely suggest.

        • Max Doubt

          “I suspect you will block me from this thread before you have the honesty to confront the brute facts of atheistic naturalism and be consistent with those facts.”

          I suspect you’ll continue to be a blathering asshole instead of engaging in a reasoned discussion to support your notion that there is some sort of objective morality.

        • BlackMamba44

          Why do you expect that?

          Do I detect a smelly sock?

        • Priya Lynn

          “You still have no moral basis to condemn anyone as having done anything really wrong.”.

          But of course we do. The moral basis is on whether or not it causes harm to innocent people.

        • Joe

          . If someone broke into your home and murdered your family members, then you would think that what was done was really wrong and you would want justice.

          Instead of just saying that is all based upon subjective and biological preferences you would appeal to an objective standard of morality in seeking for Justice.

          You have said two contradictory things in consecutive sentences. Would you be seeking justice for your family, or simply because an objective standard was violated?

        • Kodie

          Right, it feels very different if it was your own family vs. some family you read about in the paper. If it was local and the murderer wasn’t caught, I might worry about my own family’s safety, including myself. If I knew the people, I would grieve. If there are children involved, people usually get the saddest about that, just because “children”. If I’m the police, I want to find the murderer for whatever motivates me to be a police officer (which could be many reasons – to keep my community safe, or to lock up the bad guys because they’re bad guys, etc.). If I’m the judge or jury, I have to be impartial while hearing the facts of the case – not a position where you have the luxury to be disgusted, because maybe they have the wrong person…. maybe. As it turns out, I probably don’t live near Craig and wouldn’t have heard anything about his family getting murdered. I bet families get murdered all the time. It happened to some people less than a mile from where I grew up but I didn’t know them, and it wasn’t a serial murderer, it was a revenge plot of a jealous husband or something, he killed his own family.

          But I mean, yeah, there are plenty of sickos running around out there, am I supposed to feel something? I really don’t feel that bad when I don’t know the people and I’m not affected. I feel a little empathetic but I can’t serve any justice, and whatever happens happens. If the murderer is caught or not caught, or is convicted and whatever their sentence is decided to be is completely out of my hands. If something was objectively wrong, you would think I would have to feel the same core feelings about every murder that occurs, whether I hear about it or not, whether they are in my house or my back yard or somewhere else in the country or the world. I mean, if you hear about murders, like terrorist bombings in another country, it’s hard to feel something personally for the victims, they are symbolic of a problem that you overall hear numbers killed and including x number of children, and that’s what you feel bad about. Something is wrong, someone did something I don’t like, something scary, something violent, it must be hard to live in fear like that every day, how sad for them, in a human creature way – they are human and so am I. What justice will ever be served? What justice is served by sending our own young men to possibly die trying and failing to serve that justice that we think we are protecting people we already say we don’t like and paint with a broad brush. Come on. There is no ultimate basis for this, this is just how humans deal with things.

        • MR

          I recently read about a serial murderer in some obscure country and found my own detachment in reading about it interesting. I didn’t have the same visceral reaction I would have if it had been my own country, or even, say a European country I was familiar with.

        • Pofarmer

          You can describe human behaviour and tell me your preferences but you
          can’t prescribe human behaviour and say how things really ought to be.

          If you’ve ever dealt with the work of Susan P. Churchland or those like here, then you’d know that this idea is disputed. There is ongoing work into the biological basis for morality. Aka, all the things that unite all the species on Earth and that we humans call morality. Do cattle form Hierarchical structures? Yep. Do Voles care for and seem to “Love” their young? Yep. Do Apes seem to show empathy for dead members of their troop? Yep. Do wolves attack members of their own pack without reason? Nope. We’re social animals. We’ve evolved in social situations to work together. That’s the basis for our morality. We’re tribal, sometimes we suck. But we’re getting “better.” None of that means that our “morality” isn’t subjective, just that there’s a hell of a lot more to it than “biological preferences” and “Brute fact.”

        • Craig

          I majored in Philosophy at University and studied both of the Churchlands in the Philosophy of Mind and Cognitive Science.

          There can no real moral oughts and ought nots on naturalism.

          In other words, no actual moral realism. Nothing can be really right or wrong.

        • Stop using “really” and use your university education. Do you mean objective? If so, define it.

        • Craig

          Objectively refers to moral realism. Not morality based in preferences and biological drives.

          Stop using your stupidity and think.

        • Susan

          You didn’t study philosophy. It’s pretty obvious to everyone here.

          Stop using your stupidity and think.

          Think about what? Give us something to work with.

        • Don’t forget that you’re dealing with stupid people here. What the hell is “moral realism”?

          I’ve already offered one definition of objective morality: “moral values that are valid and binding whether anybody believes in them or not.” Why can’t we use that?

        • MR

          What a douche. Is this what Christianity has to offer us?

        • Priya Lynn

          ” Nothing can be really right or wrong.”.

          You haven’t proven that. Most people would express certainty that they find some things right and other things wrong. Obviously right and wrong exist.

        • zenlike

          Wow, you majored in philosophy and think just assertion something and call it a “brute fact” (whatever the fuck that means) is in any way compelling or sufficient? You also don’t know there is an entire field of study called “ethics”? I seriously call into question the rigorousness of the philosophy studies at your university.

        • epeeist

          In other words, no actual moral realism.

          So how about Simon Blackburn’s quasi-realism (a form of expressivism), JL Mackie’s moral error theory, Cornell non-reductionist natural moral realism, Peter Railton’s reductionist natural moral realism, Petit and Jackson’s program explanation moral realism, Allan Gibbard’s expressivism, John McDowell’s non-natural moral realism, GE Moore’s intuitionist moral realism?

        • Michael Neville

          I majored in Philosophy at University

          Assertion not demonstrated by evidence.

        • Joe

          I see plenty of armchair philosophers running rings around this poster. Wouldn’t something like Moral Ontology be one of the first things taught, as it’s pretty simple to comprehend. Maybe Craig was sick that semester?

        • Pofarmer

          There can no real moral oughts and ought nots on naturalism.

          Maybe or maybe not. There are traits that lead to reproduction and traits that don’t. Those traits that lead to reproduction get multiplied. This road started with the first mammals. It’s why we see similar behaviors pretty much amongst all primates and the vast majority of mammals. That’s where the basis of our morality is. So the seeds of our morality are found in the traits that make it more likely for us to reproduce. So, on naturalism, we would, indeed, expect to see something akin to what we would call “moral” behavior, and we do.

        • Joe

          There can no real moral oughts and ought nots on naturalism.

          Why?

          That doesn’t mean that there are real moral “oughts” on a supernatural worldview by default.

        • Priya Lynn

          “What you think as right and wrong is a biological brain state.”.

          That in now way means we shouldn’t live our lives on that basis.

        • Craig

          Why ought we ?

        • Priya Lynn

          Because the vast majority of living things prefer life to death and happiness to unhappiness. That’s the basis for nearly universal agreement on the fundamentals of morality. What are you going to use as a list of right and wrong based on your assertion that you know of an objective morality? One of the religions? What do you really think is going to unite more people , a belief in morality based on not harming innocent people, or one based on one of the many religions people have fought over for eons?

        • Kodie

          What if justice couldn’t be done about the murderer who broke in and murdered your family? What kind of punishment do you think the murderer deserves, and what if that’s not what the judge says, or they are never found, or they killed themselves before they could get a trial? I’m just asking.

        • Damien Priestly

          Exactly like religious people…There is no one theist standard for right and wrong… just religious preferences.

        • Joe

          You and others may want to live in a certain way but you have absolutely no basis to condemn a Stalin or a Hitler as having done anything really wrong – only wrong in relation to your preferences.

          And the preferences of millions of others. But that aside, if they were wrong in relation to my preferences, what more would I need?

        • Craig

          You need an objective basis to say that what they did was really wrong – otherwise you have a planet of biological creatures just fighting over their preferences and where nothing is really right nor wrong.

        • Michael Neville

          Why do we need an objective basis for right or wrong (which is not the same as moral or immoral)? As has already been explained to you, and you’re not refuted, morality is subjective. While all human groups have morality, what is nor is not moral differs, often widely, from group to group. Catholic bishops consider contraception to be immoral, most other people, including most Western Catholic laity, disagree. Killing homosexuals for their orientation is generally considered immoral, Daesh aka ISIS have a different opinion. Intelligent, reasonable, well-meaning people have completely different views on the morality of abortion. Morality is simply preferences and opinions about what is or is not moral behavior.

        • MR

          “Morality is simply preferences and opinions about what is or is not moral behavior.”

          Is it? Citation?

        • Michael Neville
        • MR

          Not exactly what I meant when I said source, but, let me try again.

          Imagine I’m a courtier in King Solomon’s court and two women have a dispute over who is the mother of a baby. Solomon calls for the baby and says, “Here’s what we’re gonna do…,” and I nudge the guy beside me and say, “Watch this, this is gonna be good. I’ve seen this one done before.” And Solomon raises the screaming child by the foot with one hand and swings with his sword in the other hand and not. quite. cuts the child in half because it’s not so easy to hold a screaming, kicking child in one hand while trying to wield a sword in the other, and he has to hack and hack a couple more times at the lifeless body before the child’s torso finally hits the floor.

          Tell me. Is my sheer shock and horror at this spectacle my opinion or my preference?

        • Lark62

          Yes, altho preferences are learned from the community.

          Guards at nazi concentration camps routinely slaughtered infants.

          The biblical response to the Babylonian captivity is found in Psalm 137, “Happy is the one who seizes yoir infants and dashes them against the rocks.”

        • MR

          You’re saying my horror is simply a learned preference?

        • Priya Lynn

          I’d say some preferences are evolved and innate to our brains, like the preference to stay alive and avoid violence.

        • MR

          Is something innate really a preference, though?

          “I prefer pizza,” vs. “I prefer staying alive and avoiding violence,” “killing children….” Hmmm….

          When we argue that morals are “simply preferences and opinions,” that just isn’t going to resonate with the Christian. They sense that something more is at play, and I think rightly so, because “simply preference and opinion” is absurd. Do scientists and ethicists say that morality is “simply preferences and opinions?” That is what I was looking for in my call for a citation. I bet not.

          Something more is at play, and the Christian has been told that that something is “objective morality.” I don’t believe that it is objective morality, and they certainly can’t demonstrate it, but I do recognize that preference and opinion are not at play in my psyche in those few microseconds when I’m witnessing such a horror. Granted, I might justify it after the fact, “Well, those women were harlots, anyway,” but rationalization usually happens afterwards.

          Personally, I think morality is, first of all, just a label, secondly, a very complex topic that involves, yes, preferences and opinions, but also innate instincts, emotions, internalized beliefs and God knows (p.i.) what all. I’m not an ethicist or a scientist, so I’d turn to them first. I was once a Christian, and I can definitively say that I did not have access to any form of objective morality as a Christian.

          “Simply preferences and opinions” to my mind trivializes the topic and just isn’t helpful in these discussions.

        • Priya Lynn

          For me, I have no doubt that many innate things express themselves as preferences. You can accept or reject that as you see fit.

        • MR

          Sure, but I think the term is to ambiguous to be useful. It’s like Craig using “really.”

        • Lark62

          Preference was your word.

          We have an inate need for social structure. Humans also have one set of rules for members of our tribe, and other rules for outsiders. This is clear in the bible. Non Hebrews could be murdered or enslaved for life. The Nazis who murdered people in concentration camps loved their own children.

          The path to genocide begins with dehumanization. Is it immoral to kill people you don’t consider human? Compare the dehumanization of jews in1930s Germany to the “Gorilla in the Mist” jokes on the phones of cops who shot unarmed black men.

          My personal definition of humanism is intentionally expanding “my tribe” to include all of humanity.

        • MR

          Preference was your word.

          No, it was MN’s word. [edit to add: Which is kind of my whole point. The topic is much more nuanced than opinion/preference. I think we need to elaborate when we discuss with Christians.]

          We have an inate need for social structure. Humans also have one set of rules for members of our tribe, and other rules for outsiders.

          That, I think is the key; though, I wouldn’t say we have “one set of rules” so much as an innate distinction between in-group and out-group. You might quibble over that, but I think the sets of rules flow from that innate distinction.

          The path to genocide begins with dehumanization.

          Also key. Which is something that religion excels at.

          My personal definition of humanism is intentionally expanding “my tribe” to include all of humanity.

          This is the unique situation that humanity finds itself in. For hundreds of thousands of years we were many tribes. We’re now working toward one tribe, which messes with our innate sense of how the world has always been.

        • Giauz Ragnarock
        • MR

          Gah! I’m not even in control of my own preferences!

        • MR

          My understanding is that a stool transfer for C-Diff is actually done…, nasally. I had a friend with it who could not get over the yuck factor to have that particular procedure done.

        • Kodie

          I always wonder in these discussions why we argue over extreme actions. I don’t think people can be not disgusted about certain things, but I still think that’s our cultural upbringing. We’re living in a certain culture and a certain time when it feels like these feelings are just so deep within us that we cannot question them or simplify them. I really wish if we’re talking about objective morality vs. subjective morality, that people would argue moderate infractions, of if you prefer, just the way I roll, get over it.

          Most of the morality we’re dealt is small and daily and you feel good or bad about something that other people don’t care about or feel the opposite way you do. People do things every day that fuck up your day a little bit, or gladden you, that they didn’t have to do. Nobody is murdering you or your children (I hope), and though that’s all sad and shit, there are millions of things that everyone else does but you would never do, or that bother you or that you see opportunities to help that others overlook, that are far cloudier than these extreme examples. If morality were objective, playing your music too loud would be indisputable. If morality were objective, speeding through a residential neighborhood because your Waze app gave you the shortcut would be impossible. I was just thinking the other day how lucky I feel that I have never seen an injured wild animal, because that would probably inconvenience me, and how I would probably choose to pretend I was too late to do anything, or if I had parked up on the other block, I wouldn’t know anyway. I’m not even sure what the right thing to do is. There’s tons of moral ambiguity out there. There’s tons of hey it’s not like I murdered anyone, chill out out there. I don’t want to chill out, I want to say I have feelings you’re being a dick about, and you should care, why don’t you.

        • MR

          And I’d argue that some of those mundane things are something deeper than preference and opinion, too. A desire for respect or cooperation, a desire to avoid inconvenient circumstances…. That feeling of anger we get when someone cuts us off…, we’re not thinking, “Oh, I’d prefer he didn’t do that, or, in my opinion he should have signaled,” no, that flush of red in my face is a visceral reaction. Sure, I’ll justify that anger or dismiss it after the fact, but something else is happening under the surface.

        • Kodie

          I have an example of someone taking advantage of me in a way I didn’t consent – not sexual, just to clear that out of the way. When I screamed the fucking shit out of that person, they were all fucking calm and shit, “it wouldn’t bother me if you did that to me”, so their fucking reasoning is it shouldn’t bother me. Well it did bother me, I’m no longer friends with that person for more than 5 years and their shit may still well be following me. I don’t answer calls where I don’t recognize the number, so I can’t be sure it’s not his creditors. Some people do manage to remain cool and keep things in perspective. When someone cuts me off, I think “that was my turn!” and this guy gained something by basically stealing. But what is the actual result? How far ahead does he really get and how much did I lose, and how much of this is really about ego? Cutting in line instead of waiting your fair turn (even if you’re late) is the shit we learn in grade school, no cutters. Frontsies backsies. As an adult with zero accountability, cutting in line is totally back in play. If you assert yourself, who can say no without risk to their insurance premiums? Do you know how much I wish we could all settle this demolition derby style, and if you cut me off, I get to ram your fender? This is exactly the same mentality that open-carry states think everyone would be more polite if everyone were armed. I don’t know why – as far as I know, it’s still not legal to shoot someone in the face for having 18 items in the 15 items or less aisle in the grocery store. In my whole life, I have only seen one outrage at such a thing, so I guess the message of the gun thing is “you never know which one of your neighbors is berserk enough to draw, so don’t violate cultural norms or else.”

        • Lark62

          Yes. Your revulsion reflects the standards of the society you live in.

          During the French Revolution, crowds cheered as whole families, men women children and infants, were killed by decapitation.

          You, living in 21st century America, would likely feel revulsion if you read about how New England whaling ships hunted and killed whales, how children were sold away from parents in the American South and how Native American families starved to death after being forced onto reservations with inadequate rancid food.

          But the human beings who performed those acts thought their behavior normal.

        • MR

          Yes. Your revulsion reflects the standards of the society you live in.

          I disagree. I don’t think I’m tapping into the standards of my society when I witness such a thing. I think we first tap instinct, secondly standards.

          During the French Revolution, crowds cheered as whole families, men women children and infants, were killed by decapitation.

          Because they were the enemy. The out tribe. But I bet more than a few were nonetheless horrified at the spectacle.

          …But the human beings who performed those acts thought their behavior normal.

          But I bet not everyone did. Is it opinion/preference or a shifting in who/what they saw as in-group out-group?

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          “But I bet more than a few were nonetheless horrified at the spectacle.”

          Thus we see changes in cultural mores rather than entire nations stuck in what would be dandy for the “right people” to do in 1400s Europe for example.

        • MR

          I just don’t see such things (others yes) as strictly cultural mores shifting to and fro willy-nilly. In-out groups, reactions to violence, etc., things that are innate. We can rationalize on top of that and change our opinions or preferences our cultural mores, but there’s still something deeper whether it’s instinct, internalized beliefs, whatever.

        • Susan
        • Kodie

          If anyone was horrified, it is because an example of what could happen to you. I bet there were people who had to keep their personal opinions secret so they wouldn’t be targeted, just like today, I don’t advertise my atheism. People cheer the fuck out of “justice” when they are amped up. What you think you believe at your core can be so manipulated. I mean, I remember being a teen and being warned about peer pressure, like that is something that only affects teens. I think the glorification of “justice” is actually an ugly side of “morality” where it turns out, a lot of people cheer for the bad guy to get the instant justice of police weapon. I recently asked one of these Christians who didn’t write back about justice. I think it might have been Craig, or the recurring poster currently known as Craig. If someone murdered your family, you might think justice means you get to kill that guy. As a society, I see a lot of call for the sickening payback to murderers as though they cease to be people with families of their own. And people are pretty specific. They don’t want that murderer to have the satisfaction of killing themselves, but to give the pleasure to police or residence defender is sweet justice. Court is disappointing, time-consuming, and expensive justice. Life sentence is anticlimactic. Jail’s too cushy, these scum should suffer. They all want that fucker to die, they want to murder that guy. He’s not allowed to choose it for himself, it has to be taken away from him. If he has to spend his life in jail instead, then prison should be inhumane as fuck.

          Now, I don’t think you’re like that. I’m not like that. It’s just not that hard to panic people and get them to scream for blood.

        • Joe

          I think you might be oversimplifying it. I imagine there was a mixture of horror and excitement among that crowd, and even among individuals themselves.

          Same as there was opposition within NAZI Germany, and most probably skeptics who scoffed at the tales of a resurrected messiah. It’s just society as a whole tends to average out.

        • Kodie

          Yes. You grew up in a culture that wouldn’t do that. Are you as horrified by abortion as Ameribear is? I mean, it’s clear he thinks it is just like Solomon slicing a baby in half. That is what we’re working with – people who have been trained to weep over a speck of nothing as if it’s a living baby. You could have learned to be indifferent about the baby. As it is, we still live in a culture where many people think children aren’t as aware of things as they are, exposing children to all manner of abuse and such because their own naivete makes them vulnerable.

          As far as anything being a more innate sense of morality, how do young children know they’re being sexually abused? How does it damage them if they don’t know about sex, and being dressed and bathed by parents in an innocent way is different somehow, so how do they know it? I’m sure they know they don’t like being beaten because it hurts, but being touched in private parts somehow automatically feels wrong even if they don’t know why. I’m actually curious about this because I wonder how this fucks up someone as an adult. We live in a culture that mostly assumes anything said or done to a child under 5 or 6 is like talking to a plastic toy as far as being remembered, so you can use them and abuse them and they won’t remember. If you slice a baby in half as quickly as you’d slaughter a cow, what’s making you feel icky about the baby but not the cow? Some people learn to empathize overly with cows too, and why are they wrong?

        • MR

          Again, I disagree. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that everything we consider moral is innate. My point is, it’s not just preference and opinion. Regarding the baby, I agree that you can learn to be indifferent, and I believe such thinking happens all the time, but notice in my story that there’s a built-in element of surprise. We expect a wise and good king to act a certain way, and when he doesn’t, we don’t opine and prefer rationalize away that behavior in those microseconds that we witness the act, we are horrified on a visceral level. Sure, maybe you’ll rationalize it after the fact, “Well, those women were harlots,” (they were, btw, in the original Solomon story), “and we can’t have that kind of riff raff propagating in our society.” But, I can’t imagine a normal, healthy, un-indoctrinated person not having an instinctual reaction. Maybe you’re okay with capital punishment, but I bet most people who are would still be shocked at seeing someone put to death. Plus, morality is based in many things like religious creeds, laws, psychological drives, internalized beliefs, subconscious and conscious rationalizations, etc., that aren’t simply “opinions and preferences.” Not in the sense we would normally use them as you pointed out when you talked about preferring vanilla over chocolate. You’re not going to convince someone like Ameribear that morals are just “opinions and preferences,” and you’re not going to convince someone like me. In fact, what you’re describing above still isn’t “opinions or preference.” Sure, maybe the shock factor of saying that is fun to mock objective morality, but you’ll just be talking past your opponent and the lurkers as well, because something more is clearly at play. I don’t see scientists and ethicists defining morality as simply “opinions and preferences,” either. It’s a false trichotomy.

          And who says I wouldn’t feel icky about the cow!

          [edits]

        • Kodie

          I don’t want to say I agree or disagree. I mean, I think it depends on the baby. Before I get too far, of course, I would be personally disgusted. But I just can’t assume that is something innate. I am questioning the assumption that it is. I once found a weird spider in my apartment that was larger than a normal inside spider, and I looked it up and it was generally a porch spider, hiding in shingles and eaves. I ended up killing it in some unintentionally prolonged torture, and still feel terrible about it. Most people wouldn’t give it a thought. I intended to kill a living thing that wasn’t expecting to die in a quick and merciful squishing and botched it so badly that it took more than 5 minutes.

          So what is up with that? Most of it was I was frightened of the spider. The whole time. That’s innate or learned? A lot of humans hate crawly shit for no reason. Seems like a popular human thing. When and why did I start to care about the spider? I felt it was very unfortunate that I had to kill it from the beginning. I don’t think I’m able to get you outside, so I have to kill you, unfortunately inside spider. You’re very big. Ok, here it goes. I justified killing something probably harmless that was inside my home because I don’t want it in my home, and once I had injured it, I had to finish it.

          I think most people would think spiders can’t really feel anything and don’t deserve mercy, and whether I squished it flat in an instant, or made it suffer for many minutes, shouldn’t have had any feeling for what it must be going through. I think a lot of people throughout time have the same idea about babies.

          I am not going to the trouble now to look it up, but I had read a while ago about a primitive tribe that abandons its young in the woods. I don’t mean all of them, just the ones that are sick or can’t walk, or whatever, like that. What’s up with that? Starving or being preyed upon by animals while you can’t move? Has to be the worst way to die. If this is their resource management policy, why can’t they just kill the children outright? They just can’t personally stomach doing it, but if they can just remove the child, knowing what will happen, how can they go on like this? If you’re in a society that, by necessity, has to dehumanize certain members of its society, you should expect to do what’s necessary. If you can kill an animal for food, you’d probably treat it better in death than these babies. Put them out in the woods where we can’t see them, and forget about them, and maybe hope something magical happens for them that they get up and walk back into the huts on their own. Some prohibition against murdering, but leave them alone without any help – that’s a loophole of some kind.

          I think I happened upon this in relation to someone who had rescued someone from the woods and got them to modern civilization for proper treatment. It might have even been the child’s parent who rebelled against the policy and escaped with their sick or crippled child.

          I am just questioning assumptions. We don’t always treat killing with any respect for life, so I don’t know why we’d automatically feel sick over a baby than a spider, or prefer greater suffering over instant killing, if one’s society deems it necessary to remove someone. In the modern world, we try not to see any human as useless…. I’d also love to question how useful anyone really is. We assume “meaning” as in how theists think our lives are meaningless, while we assume a personal meaning, and so meaning is local, and usefulness is also local. If someone wants to commit suicide, most people would automatically recoil and get that person to a doctor so they can rebuild their life toward some meaning that they can appreciate and not try to end. I question that also.

        • MR

          Sigh…, just let me know when scientists decide that morality is nothing but opinions and preference.

        • Kodie

          No, I think there is something people feel commonly, especially when it’s about our own species, but we have a long history of considering others to not even be in our species, and therefore, feel nothing, just like most people would not worry about the spider. There seems to be a universal protection of our own, but a culturally refined definition of who is our own and who is trash.

        • MR

          Agreed. My only point is that it’s not just about opinions and preferences. And I totally agree that those innate things (like tribalism, empathy–thank you, Susan–jealousy, anger, hate…) can be overwritten and become opinions, preferences, rationalizations, reasoning…. I’m not saying instincts or internalized beliefs have complete sway over us (though I do believe they have inordinate sway over us, which is why marketing is so powerful). But, I’m saying that when we talk to a theist and say it’s only about opinion and preference, they have every reason to call bullshit, because it’s not that simple and saying so trivializes the topic of morality.

        • Kodie

          No, you can feel very strongly about something that’s a preference. It’s degrees. I had written a few weeks ago about how it’s very different from ice cream flavors. I’m not looking for my post to link, but in brief, it was basically, if you sold only vanilla ice cream, you’d do ok, because it is the most popular flavor, but people who prefer chocolate are not going to burn your ice cream stand down. Having a favorite flavor of ice cream does not usually mean that’s the only flavor you would eat, if other flavors are offered. Morality is a more strong preference, what is the right thing to do, given a particular situation. How should we behave to make a strong community. Often, it is even how does a person feel good about themselves?

          My dad has a way… I don’t know where it came from, but I’ll ask next time it comes up. Keep in mind, my dad has (in my opinion) many flaws in his morality, and I think some of this is part comedy, but he will often say something to the effect of getting his good deed out of the way early in the day, such that doing a good deed every day is something you don’t have to be a boy scout to do, but also heavily implying that finding your opportunity to be decent early in the day gives you the rest of the day to do whatever. I’m not saying my dad is a terrible person at all, maybe some would say it, but not me, and maybe that’s just because he’s my dad. I don’t think he spends the rest of the day being a cranky nasty asshole to everyone, but he relieves himself of having to go out of his way. So, doing a “good deed” means doing something you otherwise might not take extra time to do, so go out of your way, take a moment to be thoughtful to someone else. As a driver, I’ve been prisoner to this “good deed” thinking occasionally. Ok, I’ve also benefitted, and occasionally pay it forward too, but there are people who take doing good deeds to heart that they never consider the driver(s) behind them. As such, I’m a big fan of rules of the road, and not trying to make left turns at impossible times of the day (not only because I’ll never get out unless someone lets me, but for all the people trapped behind me). I would sooner inconvenience myself by going right and turning around, or go a different route than pull that shit. Around here, people bully themselves out of streets and parking lots going across first one lane of traffic and then hoping someone in the other direction will also stop and let them out. I hate to encourage this, but I let them out to help out the other lane they’re blocking. But I would NEVER!

        • MR

          I yield

        • Kodie

          Lol.

        • Susan

          So what is up with that? Most of it was I was frightened of the spider.

          Yep. At least, you looked it up.

          Most people just scream “Bug!” and kill it without learning a thing or knowing if it’s helpful/neutral/harmful.

          Now, when you think about it, it was a dreadful experience.

          Because you probably could have left it alone (with no harm to you or others you care about), it might have been helpful to you and others, (spiders occupy niches that more harmful bugs can dominate without being contained by things like spiders) or was harmful to you (in which case, you should have squished it as quickly and mercifully as possible).

          That’s what morality is best formed on.

          For finite beings.

          Non-finite beings are imaginary.

          So, that’s the best we can do.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          What if you were not you but someone sexually aroused and unconflicted by this sight? What if you were ideologically brainwashed to enjoy the death of this type of child or that your leader being thought of as double plus ungood/sinful sounded ridiculous? I’m not sure if opinion and preference are mutually exclusive.

        • MR

          In the first instance, I’d ask myself if it’s normal behavior for a psychologically healthy human to be sexually aroused by such a thing. There are, after all, psychopaths. Do we say of psychopaths, “Well, that’s just their preference; that’s just their opinion?” The same in the second, is a brainwashed person really acting on opinion or preference? I don’t understand your last sentence, because that is not what I’m saying. I’m saying morality can be “more than” opinion and preference. That is, when we talk about morals, the choices aren’t simply objective morality vs. opinion/preference. The theist senses something more [than opinion/preference], rightly so, I believe. I just don’t believe it’s objective morality. If we’re going to simplify morality to opinion and preference, then I don’t think we should complain when someone like Craig keeps saying over and over, “then you can’t say something is really wrong.” The reality is much more complex and just throwing back in their faces “opinion and preference” doesn’t get the conversation anywhere.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          I guess I just don’t see opinion and preference as dismissive. They’re like a picture of A LOT of history.

        • MR

          That’s not my point.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          Understood. I don’t mean to seem flippant. I think you can better describe this than I can.

        • MR

          Apparently not! =D

        • Kodie

          It could be normal. What is “normal”? Is saying someone isn’t right, they’re wrong, they’re bad, they’re not functioning correctly, they are turned on by very disturbing things? Doesn’t do it for me, but I think human brains and sexuality and all that stuff is all pretty weird. People can get kinky and I don’t get it. Is it normal to want someone to tie you up and whip you? I don’t get it, but some people do. A lot of people like stuff even farther away from the directly arousing naked person in your bed. Eventually, you’ll get to “is turned on by watching a baby get sliced in half” for the same reason people love to watch horror movies – they get some kind of pleasure from watching the disgusting, and maybe it’s just knowing it’s fake, but can the brain really tell it apart and say “don’t get turned on by actual blood, only fake movie blood”? When you get to the part where you are sexually driven to kill people, then society would label you a danger.

          I guess it’s hard to feel comfortable around someone who says they had an “inappropriate” reaction once while watching a bloody murder unfold in front of them, but as sickened as you might be at the sight, are you sure I have the same response? I really don’t know how it would feel to look at it. I have some idea that other people are touched more by tragedy than I am. I don’t have the same sympathy for dead children as I do for their parents, and what is scary like a school shooting is tragic, but the only time I really almost threw up out of shock was a guy picking up branches turned around and his son had ended up in the wood chipper. Maybe I can just visualize it better. I didn’t have access to tv when the Oklahoma City Bombing happened, and I remember how little it felt like to me. Am I an awful psychopath? There is evidence that I’m not. I live in Boston, and I remember tying my shoes to leave for work when the news broke in about the bombing at the marathon. I went to work in the afternoon/evening, and fielded phone calls and emails asking if we’d be open that night, and I don’t know why we’d be closed, we’re nowhere near the route. As it turns out, we had to close several days later as the shelter-in-place, and the remaining bomber found in a boat not too far away. So, for weeks afterward, people would ask for directions how to go look at that boat. Is that normal? What kind of satisfaction are people looking for to see a boat where a murderer hid, like gawking at a car accident. As gruesome as some things are, people want to look at it even if they are not obligated to. So how far away would being sexually aroused by it be?

        • Joe

          The objective basis is my preferences.

          If something is not preferable, then it is objectively wrong.

        • Joe

          otherwise you have a planet of biological creatures just fighting over their preferences

          Congratulations, you just described reality.

        • Pofarmer

          Yeah, it kinda sucks, but there it is.

        • Pofarmer

          Yeah, it kinda sucks, but there it is.

        • Who says something is really wrong? (And I assume that this is just a clumsy way of saying objectively wrong?) If you do, back it up. Take a contemporary moral issue like abortion or SSM, show us the objectively correct moral resolution, show us that this isn’t just your opinion but is objectively true, and finally show us that this truth is accessible to all people.

        • Craig

          Is murder a dislike or is there something in reality wrong with it ?

        • Damn! Can you find a more grownup word than “really”? I don’t know what that’s supposed to mean.

          I think that murder is wrong because of (1) my moral programming (from evolution) and (2) society. That’s why I say that murder is wrong. I don’t tap into any objective truth through ESP of some sort. Spirits don’t whisper the correct answer in my ears. Murder is wrong because Bob says so. Yes, that’s not much of a platform, but that’s all I’ve got.

          You seem to imagine something much more substantial. Demonstrate it.

        • Craig

          You “really” are a dumb ass !!

        • Priya Lynn

          “You “really” are a dumb ass !!”.

          You haven’t proven that.

        • There we go, ladies and gents. Craig was asked to demonstrate his claim, but he has nothing to offer but his wit.

        • epeeist

          but he has nothing to offer but his wit

          But he has only shown half of it.

          Incidentally, Kodie wants my email address, I said it was OK for you to release it to her.

        • Joe

          Meager offerings indeed. How are we going to survive the coming winter on such thin gruel?

        • Priya Lynn

          Murder deprives me of the things that make me happy. To encourage others not to murder me I have to have a contract with them that we don’t murder each other.

        • Lark62

          Exactly. “Morality” is the construct that allows human society to function. Anytime two or more humans come together, they create standards. Every corporation, every church, every nation creates rules. Who is allowed to sit at the head of the table or the front of the bus?

          Humans like to attribute behavioral norms to cosmic forces, but that is just a scam. Europeans lived in a cold climate and wore several layers of clothes. Missionaries to the tropics judged the clothing choices of the of the people living there to be “immoral” when in fact they were just sensible.

        • Priya Lynn

          “You need an objective basis to say that what they did was really wrong”

          You haven’t established that.

        • Kodie

          So?

        • Michael Neville

          Millions of Nazis didn’t condemn Hitler for doing immoral things. Rather the contrary.

        • Jim Jones

          The death camps were run by Catholics and Lutherans. So much for the “moral training” of Christianity.

          6 million Jews murdered because one non-existent man was supposedly a magic Jew.

        • Castilliano

          You have a well-polished Christian argument, but it’s nothing new. It’s kind of a toughie, so I’m responding more for the atheists reading this who will probably run into this thinking multiple times.
          1. Wanting an objective morality so as to validate one’s morality doesn’t make it so. You keep pointing out the bad news if our views are true which does nothing to disprove the views or establish your own.
          2. The foundations for human morality (as described by others here) come with evidence. The foundations for your “objective” morality does not. So no matter if you try to point out the flaws in ours, yours is still wishful thinking.
          3. “Absolutely no basis” is a ridiculous claim showing your ignorance (no offense) of nontheistic moral systems. Reason, empathy, biology, & society (et al) all exist and in various permutations serve as bases for various moral systems. To say that yours is better because it has a fictional foundation (because that’s what we hear when you say “God”) really highlights that ignorance.
          4. We’re working to be moral with what we have, and you’re wishing for more. Sorry, that’s it. There is no ultimate morality, and yet humanity still has the word so like other abstract social concepts (Ex. beauty, justice, peace) morality exists without needing to reference outside of human thought.
          (I do respect your politeness and clarity, though not your script.)
          Cheers

        • Michael Neville

          I wouldn’t describe Craig’s objective morality as wishful thinking. Rather I think it’s just his opinion, possibly based on wishful thinking or possibly not.

        • Craig

          Wrong. My argument is NOT based on Christianity. It is based on moral reasoning.

          Let’s look at the broader picture and the brute facts.

          Does the human species as a whole have a moral obligation to flourish and go on and survive ?

          Yes or No ?

        • Michael Neville

          No, your argument is based on your so-far unsupported opinion. Simply repeating the phrase “brute facts” is not moral reasoning.

        • Joe

          It is based on moral reasoning.

          No it isn’t. It’s bssed on appealing to an unprovable and unknowable “moral standard”.

        • Castilliano

          Apologies re: Christianity, as I’ve heard this umpteen times from Christians.

          You have yet to show how your brute facts support there being an objective morality other than to say morality would be lessened and we’d all be sad.
          Sorry, but that’s all there is to morality, whether it’s ideal or not. We are the foundation, and we do our best to do our best with all moral obligation coming from us. You seem to be locked into ultimate vs. arbitrary, either objective or opinion. The “brute fact” is that we have no evidence that morality can exist outside of minds or that Platonic ideals of any sort exist, and the correct descriptor for morality would be intersubjective.

          So do we have a moral obligation to flourish and go on and survive?
          Obligation to whom? To something outside of our species? That’s a no.
          To ourselves? Great question, but my answer would rest on the nature of obligation. Since most people are wired with empathy for people, I’d say there is an existing obligation (sense of duty) to protect people as a whole.

          Why don’t you answer the question yourself? Or even just start by defining “moral obligation” in a way that’s linked to tangible evidence.

        • Craig

          It is more plausible based upon reason to think that there is.

          Many of my comments on this thread show why it is more plausible.

        • Michael Neville

          I see nothing in your comments that show anything but your unsupported opinion that your unsupported opinion is even slightly plausible. And repeating “brute facts” (a phrase you have yet to define) does not make your unsupported opinion plausible.

        • The Old Testament argues that slavery is moral. God regulates its practice. Today, we think it is abhorrent.

          That doesn’t sound like objective morality to me. Or perhaps I’ve got it wrong and God’s view of slavery is the correct one, and we should adopt it?

        • Craig

          In this instance, I am NOT a scrap bit interested in what the Bible says. I am interested in moral ontology and not faith based morality.

        • You don’t need to be interested in the Bible. My example remains: the Old Testament tells us that the Israelites thought that slavery for life was A-OK, and today we think otherwise. Sounds like yet another example of subjective morality.

          Take this as an opportunity to demonstrate objective morality. What is the objectively correct response to slavery?

        • BlackMamba44

          You are a theist – you said it yourself – so who is this “Supreme Moral Law Giver” you are talking about?

        • Susan

          It is more plausible based on reason to think that there is.

          OK. Show your work. You didn’t get passing marks just for sticking the word really in front of a phrase when you wrote your papers, did you?

          Many of my comments on this thread show why it is more plausible.

          No. They just keep claiming it is more plausible. You haven’t shown a thing.

        • Craig

          Then again, you might just be a dumb ass like the mod that can’t think.

        • Susan

          Then again, you might just be a dumb ass like the mod that can’t think.

          Nanananah Booboo won’t get you very far if you have a point to make.

          Claiming that you’ve made the most plausible point based on reasoning does not make it so.

          I didn’t make that bit up. It should be pretty standard stuff for a philosophy major.

          What are you claiming and how do you support it?

        • Glad2BGodless

          Craig realizes he is shooting blanks and he realizes that everyone here knows it. This places him in a tough spot. He can hang around and continue to have us expose the emptiness of his arguments, and hope that we will mistake his bluster for confidence. He can flounce out of the room while declaring victory. Or he can try to provoke Bob into kicking him out. None of these choices cover him in glory. I’m taking bets now on his favored choice.

        • Lark62

          Playing chess with a pigeon. It knocks over the pieces, craps on the board, then flies off squacking that it won.

        • Glad2BGodless

          Well, if chess is just a human behavior without any objective rules grounded in nature, then the pigeon plays just as well as Garry Kasparov. There aren’t any really really real rules. Not REALLY real.

        • Good comparison. Craig uses, “yeah, but not really wrong” like a 6-year-old, but it wasn’t even cute the first time.

        • Tony D’Arcy

          EZ PZ. Checkmate atheists. PZ was right about some things, although whether the pigeon considered having the two bishops on adjoining diagonals, could be considered an ‘objective’ question. My subjective answer would be “NO”!

        • Joe

          I think he wants to be removed. It’s his only way he can save face now after being exposed.

          If he sticks around, he makes more contradictory statements and digs himself deeper. If he leaves, anyone can call him out with no rebuttal and these words are here for anyone to see in the future. If he’s booted, he can claim persecution due to Bob and others getting frustrated by his superior intellect, and that self-invented story will calm his cognitive dissonance.

        • Glad2BGodless

          That’s my take, too.

        • Priya Lynn

          “It is more plausible based upon reason to think that there is.”.

          You haven’t established that, you don’t have a good reason to believe that.

        • Max Doubt

          “Many of my comments on this thread show why it is more plausible.”

          Utter nonsense. Many of your posts in this thread claim it’s more plausible. As for showing? You’ve shown your ignorance and incredulity, although I’m guessing that wasn’t your intent when you entered the conversation.

        • Priya Lynn

          “Wrong. My argument is NOT based on Christianity. It is based on moral reasoning”.

          Its not reasoning when you base your arguments on something you’ve failed to prove exists – absolute morality.

        • BlackMamba44

          He said he was a theist so he obviously believes in a god.

          He mentioned the “plausibility” of a “Supreme Moral Law Giver”. But not Yahweh. Because of the hell issue.

          And he’s at a blog site that is described as “An energetic but civil critique of Christianity from an atheist viewpoint”. But he’s not talking about Yahweh.

          I’m confused…

        • Bob Jase

          He’s talking about Jesus, totally different from Yahweh (even though they’re the same thing).

        • Kodie

          To whom?

        • You and others may want to live in a certain way but you have absolutely no basis to condemn a Stalin or a Hitler as having done anything really wrong – only wrong in relation to your preferences.

          You’ve contradicted yourself. I have no absolute or objective basis for condemning someone’s actions, but I certainly have the ordinary kind of basis. I will happily criticize someone I think is wrong.

          “Morality” isn’t objective. Look it up.

        • Craig

          Your position is …

          Wrong in relation to your preferences.

          Your position can have no objective right and wrong.

        • I make no claims that my moral position is objectively right. But that’s OK, because “right” and “morality” have no objective component, according to the dictionary. Does this cause a problem?

        • Craig

          The only basis you have for condemning anyones actions is in relation to your preferences.

        • Join the club.

        • Priya Lynn

          And the fact that there is widespread agreement amongst people on those preferences.

        • Priya Lynn

          You haven’t established that there can be or is an objective right and wrong.

        • Michael Neville

          Your position can have no objective right and wrong.

          That’s what we’ve been saying all along. If you think there is objective right and wrong (which is not the same as objective morality, but let’s not get involved with trying to teach a philosopher anything about ethics) then you have to show evidence to support that opinion.

        • Max Doubt

          “… then you have to show evidence to support that opinion.”

          You say that as if there’s a remote possibility preacher Craig might actually come up with some. LOL!

        • eric

          If your argument here boils down to: “y’all are subjectivists!” then yes, that’s true. Guilty as charged (at least I am; I won’t speak for the other posters).

          But I think the rejoinder people are making and you aren’t getting is: pointing out that we are subjectivists is not an argument for moral objectivity. If you think subjectivism is incorrect, then you have to provide inductive evidence or a deductive argument for an objective morality. You haven’t done that; near as I can tell, you’re stuck at the ‘argument from incredulity’ phase – thinking that just pointing out the problems with subjectivism is evidence for objectivism, when it isn’t.

          It’s entirely possible that subjectivism sucks out loud, and yet there are no objective moral laws. The universe does not owe you an emotionally satisfying set of laws; there’s nothing in nature that says nature has to work in a way that makes sense to Craig.

        • MR

          The universe does not owe you an emotionally satisfying set of laws

          Nice.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          Hey! Speak for yourself! My Magic 8Ball is both part of external reality and unencumbered by subjective bias, making its responses an objective basis for my moral decisions.

        • Good Lord, man, do you realize what you’ve done?! You’ve created a new religion!

          Let the indiscretions begin.

        • eric

          On your position morality can only be based in biological drives and preferences.

          If you mean: naturalistic philosophies and moral systems must base “ought” on “is” in the common sense in which those terms are used (something like: if it helps me propagate my genes, it’s good), you are wrong. There is no such rule. In fact, such an assertion would be self-contradictory since there is no ‘is’ on which to base the rule itself. What bit of nature demands human moral premises be limited to a single idea developed in the 1850s?

          OTOH if you mean: in naturalism, human moral premises, preferences and goals derive from the naturalistic thinking that goes on in material brains, and thus it all ultimately comes down to the biology and operations of brains, then yes I suppose that’s true. But that also confuses and whitewashes over the significant difference most people easily and readily draw between things like social goals and structures vs. the laws of physics. Most people see a categorical difference between claims like “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion” and claims like “force is the product of mass times acceleration.” Moreover, people (yes, even atheists) see moral philosophy and attempts to develop moral systems in the former category, not the latter.

        • Kodie

          It’s you who is having a problem with that, not us.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          “condemn a Stalin or a Hitler as having done anything really wrong”

          In fact, they probably would call their condemners moral relativists for disagreeing with their objectively moral actions. Assertions of moral absolutes seems most helpful to dictators and monotheistic religions. Funny that.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          Also, you brought up Hitler as a Christian in a discussion about the existence of objective morality. I’m not going to let that slide. NSC, if you please:

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zt5gLf455Q8

        • Glad2BGodless

          Even people who sometimes steal generally prefer to live in a culture in which the majority of people do NOT steal, because such cultures are more functional and predictable.

          Also, even people who sometimes steal do not always steal.

          Thanks for your thoughts. I have enjoyed reading them.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          No. Do sharks and squid and ants and badgers have moral obligations to survive and flourish?

        • Craig

          No. And that is the point of saying that on nature alone, no human action could be really right or wrong, because on nature alone there can be no moral oughts and oughts nots. Just the brute facts of biological behaviour.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          What does “on nature alone” mean?

        • Craig

          It means biological nature in and of itself. The brute facts.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          Are humans part of “biological nature”?

        • Craig

          Please don’t try and waste my time with these Red Herrings of yours. If you continue I will just ignore you.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          LOL! Asking for clarity about your own terminology is a red herring?

          I’ll ask again, are humans part of “biological nature”? If not, what do you mean by the phrase?

        • Michael Neville

          You keep throwing out phrases like “biological nature” and “brute facts”. It’s not unreasonable and certainly not a red herring to ask for definitions of your terms.

        • Craig studied Philosophy at University. I’m sure he’s quite comfortable defining his terms (though I’m a little puzzled why it hasn’t happened so far).

        • Craig

          You’re a bit of a dumb ass aren’t you ? I will insult you before you remove me 🙂

        • MR

          The only Christian thing to do.

        • You’re the one who studied philosophy, remember? And you get bitchy when asked to define your terms?

          I’ll puke if I read one more time, “but you can’t say murder is weally, weally wong, can you??”

        • Glad2BGodless

          You argue like a person who isn’t used to being taken seriously. It seems to baffle you.

        • BlackMamba44

          Why do you think he’s going to remove you? Has it happened before?

        • Glad2BGodless

          You keep accusing people of wasting your time. It’s like Donald Trump accusing us of not respecting the sanctity of marriage.

        • Max Doubt

          “Please don’t try and waste my time with these Red Herrings of yours. If you continue I will just ignore you.”

          Seems like a pretty good way to dismiss legitimate criticism of your indefensible position. Effective? Yes, in a way. Dishonest? That, too.

        • BlackMamba44

          Someone is asking you questions to try and understand what you are saying and this is how you react? Wow.

        • Pofarmer

          Stop persecuting him already.

        • Michael Neville

          Please give a rigorous definition of your favorite phrase “brute facts”.

        • Joe

          What else are we to rely on apart from brute facts?

        • MR

          What does “really” mean? A wishy-want weird that Ameribear likes to use, too.

        • Max Doubt

          “No. And that is the point of saying that on nature alone, no human action could be really right or wrong, because on nature alone there can be no moral oughts and oughts nots. Just the brute facts of biological behaviour.”

          Only if you don’t – or as it appears in your case, won’t – understand nature. Your ignorance and incredulity are not support for your conjecture that there must be some out-of-nature source for morality.

        • Craig

          Rather, it is your ignorance to the brute fact of nature which is red in nature, tooth and claw.

        • Priya Lynn

          Nature is also full of nurturing, caring, love, and efforts to create fairness. You’re ignoring a large part of nature by falsely claiming it is solely brutish. That’s the flaw in your “logic” asserting there is no morality in nature.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          You seem to have bailed on this conversation, but I’ll ask a few questions for posterity’s sake.

          What transforms the same survival instinct in sharks into “moral imperatives” in humans?

          Aren’t god’s commands merely brute facts themselves? If consequences, compassion and self-interest cannot make indiscriminate killing an “ought not” action, how does it becomes so when god says we shouldn’t do it?

        • Michael Neville

          Just the brute facts of biological behaviour.

          Two phrases which you still have yet to define.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          “Murder” is defined a “wrongful killing”, so saying murder is wrong (objectively or otherwise) is merely tautological.

          For instance, there are numerous sanctioned killings in the Bible that would be considered murder now. So even that example relies on circumstance and subjectivity.

        • Craig

          It is pointless you bringing in the Bible because what I saying is not based on the Bible.

          What I am saying is based upon moral reason and the most plausible.

          On nature alone, there is no wrongful killing.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          Nor is what I am saying based on the Bible either. Did you read my comment or just see the word “Bible” and skip the rest?

        • Craig

          You have my answer to the rest.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          To the rest of what? You are making no sense whatsoever.

        • Michael Neville

          In the early 1800s dueling was legal, honorable and moral. Now it would be considered murder. So the morality of duels has changed in the past three hundred years. Was that subjective or objective?

        • Jim Jones

          What you are saying is complete crap.

        • Lark62

          Accurate and concise.

        • In case you haven’t noticed, Craig, we have societies in addition to nature. In my particular society, murder is indeed considered subjectively wrong — and I feel safer here than I would feel in a culture that did not punish murder.

          And that is all we need in order to have morality — a system of values. We do not need to justify it any further. (Inserting a god into the mix cannot make morality objective, either — all you have then is subjective morality based on the god’s opinion instead of humans’ opinions.)

        • Craig

          On what basis can you condemn Nazi Germany as having done something wrong and that no society ought ever to do ?

        • Joe

          On what basis can you condemn Nazi Germany

          On the basis that I value human life and freedom. On the basis that I want to live in a peaceful, prosperous society.

          On what basis do you condemn them?

        • Priya Lynn

          “On what basis can you condemn Nazi Germany as having done something wrong and that no society ought ever to do ?”.

          On the basis that they harmed innocent people.

        • The only basis I need is that I would not want the same thing to happen to me. It’s called “empathy.” Heard of it?

        • Craig

          Who said Nazi Germany “ought to” value empathy and not perform the actions that they did ?

          You can prefer that they don’t but on your position there can be no objective and universal ought.

        • Priya Lynn

          “Who said Nazi Germany “ought to” value empathy and not perform the actions that they did ?”.

          The vast majority of the world.

        • Ah, now you’re getting it, Craig!

          I think that objective morality is a contradiction in terms. In my view, morality is a value judgement and is always subjective.

        • Susan

          We can note that you ignored JustAnotherAtheist2’s point that you are referring to a tautology.

          As a philosophy major, it’s bad form that you did so and then didn’t acknowledge that you did so.

          What I am saying is based upon moral reason and the most plausible.

          Then, as a philosophy student, you should understand why we are asking you to show your work.

          On nature alone, there is no wrongful killing.

          But your god created nature, no?

          Or do you have a different god in mind who didn’t?

        • Craig

          Red Herring. You moved from your worldview over to a theistic worldview when you started talking about god.

          None of you can stay with the brute face of naturalism. You have try to attack theism because you have nothing else.

        • Susan

          Red herring.

          Of course, it’s not a red herring.

          You moved from your worldview over to a theistic worldview when you started talking about god.

          You entered with this statement:

          It is more plausible to believe that a Supreme Moral Law Giver ( God ) exists over humanity

          I was addressing that.

          You seem to believe there is a deity who is a supreme moral lawgiver (with all the unnecessary capitals theists like to use).

          As “god” can mean almost anything, I was charitably asking you if you were referring to a supreme moral lawgiver who didn’t create nature.

          None of you can stay with the brute fact of naturalism.

          Um, YOU were the one who claims nature is immoral AND that there is a supreme lawgiver.

          Could you just answer my question? Every theist has a different unsupported deity.

          Because I didn’t want to attack a strawman, (or get trapped in an eternal game of whack-a-mole), I asked you respectfully whether you believe in a deity who did create nature or whether you don’t believe your deity created nature.

          I don’t think you know what a red herring is. It would be good if you’d drop the pretense of pretending that you have studied philosophy.

          Just answer my question. It’s not a trap.

          I’m looking for clarification.

        • Michael Neville

          I’ve noticed that Craig has two reactions to requests for definitions and clarifications. He either ignores the request altogether or he claims that the request is a red herring. I suspect that he’s discovered we’re a bit smarter than he thought we would be. He’s got over his head in this discussion but can’t figure out a graceful way to bow out of it.

        • Priya Lynn

          I think Craig appeared here thinking he’s got the perfect irrefutable argument. When he now finds people refuting it he ignores what they’re saying in order to maintain his delusion that he’s got us trapped in his “perfect logic”.

        • Pofarmer

          Lol.

          Yep.

        • Craig

          No one has refuted me. To think they have is delusion.

        • Joe

          Yes, everyone else here is deluded, and you’re the sane one!

          Where have I heard that before?

        • Priya Lynn

          Of course we have. You keep asserting there is an objective morality, we’ve repeatedly shown you’ve failed to demonstrate that.

        • Craig

          You’re deluded and wasting my time.

        • Priya Lynn

          You’ve failed to demonstrate I’m deluded and everything you’re doing here is a waste of time so there’s nothing wrong with me wasting the time you’re already wasting.

        • There’s a lot of that going around.

        • You’re right–you’re the king of whatever it is you’re arguing.

          Now that you’ve conquered us, you can leave.

        • I’m hoping that he’ll just slink away and hope we don’t notice.

        • Craig

          It is more plausible to think that there is an objective moral law giver over humanity.

          Why ?

          Because otherwise actions like murder are not really or objectively wrong. It is just human behaviour. No one, however, lives as though murder is just behaviour.

          Don’t you think that there is just something wrong with murder ?

        • Joe

          Don’t you think that there is just something wrong with murder ?

          Are you asking for Susan’s opinion?

        • Susan

          Are you asking for Susan’s opinion?

          Beat me to it.

        • Joe

          You’d better ask because he may have blocked me.

        • Susan

          You’d better ask because he may have blocked me.

          That’s a shocker. Lucky you.

          I will, first person, just in case.

          Although, there’s an excellent chance he will have blocked me too.

        • Priya Lynn

          That’s circular logic.

          For a claimed well educated person that’s pretty stupid.

          Perhaps you should get your money back from your philosophy school.

        • Joe

          Well, at least he’s graduated onto some form of logic.

        • Craig

          Is that right ?

          What University did you study Philosophy at you dumb ass ?

        • Joe

          You don’t need to go to university to recognize circular logic.

          It’s high-school level stuff.

        • Priya Lynn

          Ah, the “appeal to authority” logical fallacy – gee, you’re really making yourself look smart.

        • BlackMamba44

          What University did you study Philosophy at?

        • and what degree(s) did he earn?

          None is my guess.

        • Susan

          I didn’t ask you about murder.

          I asked you if you believed your supreme moral law giver (God) created nature.

          It’s not a complicated question.

        • Don’t you think that there is just something wrong with murder ?

          Sure, but that’s true by definition. (Don’t worry—I don’t expect you to understand that.)

          But let’s just take the point you’re trying to make. Yes, I think murder is wrong. How does that prove objective morality?

        • Craig

          On your position, there is nothing wrong with murder. Thinking that there is… is just evolutionary programming.

        • Wrong again.

        • Priya Lynn

          Murder deprives innocent people of happiness, therefore it is wrong.

        • Susan

          Don’t you think that there is something wrong with murder?

          Are you asking for my opinion, Craig?

        • zenlike

          The clearest example of your entire reasoning just being based on wishful thinking. Just because you prefer the outcome of the existence of such an “objective moral law giver” does not make it “more plausible”.

        • Joe

          I stay within the “brute face” of naturalism every single day without issue.

        • Kodie

          You are biased about nature, so we know you’re a theist.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Or we could just check his Disqus profile.

        • Kodie

          Who has that kind of time.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Damn…a gave the game away.

          I always like a bit of confirmation. Belt and braces.

        • Lark62

          Define “wrongful.”

          Every human culture creates standards of behavior. The details of what is acceptable and what is not varies between different groups, different places, and different times.

          The only constant is that all human groups create moral structures.

        • Are you saying that (1) morality is objective and (2) humans can reliably access it? I’ve seen that claimed many times but never seen any evidence for it. Do you want to have a go?

        • Susan

          On the brute fact of nature alone, there is nothing at all really wrong with murder.

          But you believe a god created nature?

        • Lark62

          Every human culture creates a moral structure, just like every human culture creates grammar and language.

          But the details vary.

          The culture that made “Thou shalt not murder” one of it’s top ten was fine with slaughtering all the men, women and children in a neighboring tribe so that they could steal (“acquire”) their land. And they established the death penalty for gathering firewood on the wrong day.

          Personally, I find the supposed morality of the bible repugnant.

        • Questioner

          There is rational morality. As soon as you give a reason for a moral choice you are in rational morality. It cannot be just any reason, it needs to be maximally accurate and maximally reliable to be called rational. A choice being rational or irrational is what makes it right or wrong. Part of being rational is being unprejudiced and unbiased. Is a murderer unprejudiced and unbiased? No. Murder is irrational and therefore wrong. Notice rational morality transcends culture. By this standard the Christian god is infinitely immoral him being an infinite torturer devil mass murderer devil.

        • Craig

          Who said you really ought to do what is rational and not do what is irrational ?

          Where does this moral ought and ought not come from ?

        • Priya Lynn

          “Where does this moral ought and ought not come from ?”.

          Its an emergent property from people and their preferences, desires, and wants.

        • Craig

          Based in preferences.

          You ought to murder persons X, Y, and Z if you want to get rid of them out of your city.

          Oughts based in preferences take on a practical role.

          If you prefer X, then you ought to do action A to get X

        • Joe

          If you prefer X, then you ought to do action A to get X

          You aren’t getting any of this, are you?

        • Priya Lynn

          People get more of what they want by cooperating. Try striking out on your own and creating a life without interacting with anyone or using anything someone else has created and see what a desperate impoverished life you’ll lead (if you can even survive). Therefore we ought cooperate. If I don’t want people to murder me, I have to enter into a contract with them that we won’t murder each other.

          Ultimately we maximize the “getting of what everyone wants” by cooperating rather than fighting with each other. So, yeah, if you prefer X then you ought to do action A to get X providing it doesn’t harm innocent people.

        • It comes from our evolutionary programming!

          Are you just now exploring this subject with us? Tip: think about it first before you humiliate yourself here.

        • Craig

          For person A to murder person B, it is their evolutionary programming.

          You’re deluded but then again… It is your evolutionary programming.

        • Questioner

          No one says. The ought and ought not comes from reason, from maximal accuracy and reliability. Being rational is what MAKES something right and being irrational is what MAKES something wrong. No one forces you to be rational or not. Reality gives you consequences. Asking who is like saying who makes the sun shine. It shines all by itself. You are committing the fallacy of personification. That is for 5 year olds. Do you talk to Mr. Teddy Bear? Moral theorists want their theories to be true because the basis of morality is truth. Truth is what gives moral statements compulsion. False moral theories carry no compulsion, like Christian moral theories. If a universal moral law givers’ laws do not apply to the law giver, then they are not really universal laws. The Christian god is an infinite torturer devil mass murderer devil. So the Christian god could not be a universal moral law giver.

        • Craig

          What a load of bull !!

        • BlackMamba44

          Great rebuttal. /s

        • Pofarmer

          Do you get the feeling Craig doesn’t know what the f*** hes talking about?

        • BlackMamba44

          He doesn’t – he certainly thinks he does. Nor does he understand the responses he’s being given. That’s when he gets nasty.

        • Joe

          This, for me, is the new frontier of my curiosity. I’m a little tired of futilely trying to rebut the same theistic talking points only to be met with deflection of goalpost moving. I am now curious as to why they do such things, and how they are able to live with the cognitive dissonance of their actions.

          When they refuse to answer a simple question, are they doing it instinctively, are they knowingly being dishonest or do they believe they are acting in good faith?

          I’m trying to do the same with some of the more extreme right-wing commentors on political posts, to try and find out how they build their worldview. Worryingly, they seem to lack any kind of epistemology to analyse truth claims, they just instinctively build up a view of the world that feels good to them and don’t critically examine their thoughts.

        • MR

          Have you hear of the 5 Whys technique to find the root cause of some issue? You keep exploring the problem by continuing to ask, “Why?” Why didn’t we make deadline? Because the equipment failed. Why did the equipment fail? Because the gears froze up. Why did the gears freeze up…. You get the picture. I think that Susan’s question is fundamentally a Why question. What do you believe and how do you support it, is at heart, “Why do you believe what you believe?” Notice Clement Dishonistes reluctance to answer. “I already answered your question!” No, you answered the superficial why, but you studiously avoid exploring the whys that lead to the root cause. Good ol’ cognitive dissonance on display.

        • Joe

          Feelings are subjective.

          It’s objectively clear he has no idea what he’s talking about.

        • Pofarmer

          Lol. You could say it’s a brute fact.

        • Questioner

          That’s the BEST you can do against it? Call it a name? You just proved your 5 year old mentality.

        • Questioner

          Hell would be living forever with Christians who really believe in hell. Hell is having the belief that there really is a hell. Christians are already in hell. A perfectly loving infinite torturer, a perfectly loving mass murderer of the human race (flood), a morally perfect infinite torturer, a morally perfect mass murderer of the human race are each contradictions. Therefore the Christian god cannot exist any more than a three angled square can exist. Not knowing that God is a made up fictional character is like not knowing that Mickey Mouse is a made up fictional character. The Christian god is an infinite torturer devil mass murderer devil. Christians are devil worshipers and devil lovers.The Christian idea of heaven is to send eternity fellowshipping with an infinite torturer devil mass murderer devil.

        • Questioner

          That is the BEST that you can do? Call a name? You have revealed your 5 year old mentality. The bible god/Jesus is an infinite torturer devil mass murderer devil who is infinitely immoral and infinitely evil. Christians are devil worshipers and devil lovers.

        • Questioner

          Not knowing that God is an invented fictional character is like not knowing that Mickey Mouse is an invented fictional character. Gnostic atheism is true.

        • Questioner

          To have faith is to be without understanding. Religious faith is plain old blind prejudice.

        • Chuck Johnson

          The only way that murder could be really wrong is if there is an objective standard of morality and moral law external to ourselves that prohibits such an action.-Craig

          Every “objective standard of morality and moral law” is both an objective standard and a subjective standard at the same time.

          Standards of morality are subjective because they are invented by humans.

          Standards of morality are objective to the extent that they are agreed-upon by a large number of people (a consensus). Because they are human inventions, standards of morality can never be completely objective.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          “an objective standard of morality and moral law external to ourselves that prohibits such an action”

          So there’s nothing “really wrong” with massive groups of people banding together to prohibit such actions as what they consider murder, is there?

    • Bravo Sierra

      He accepts eternal hell because he has left moral all reason behind and taken a leap of faith onto the Bible.

      or

      He accepts eternal hell Mordor because he has left moral all reason behind and taken a leap of faith onto the Bible Lord of the Rings trilogy.

      FIFY. Take your pick.

    • Jim Jones

      > Eternal Hell cannot be reconciled with a Morally Perfect God.

      Define ‘god’.

    • Questioner

      A supreme moral law giver who created nature and therefore created 12,000 diseases for humans and who has therefore been mass torturing billions throughout history and mass murdering billions throughout history. Any bone head off the street could do better than the supreme moral law giver.

  • Jim Jones

    “If God is all loving, then he would want such a world.”

    Says the idiot who simply cannot grasp the astonishing immensity of the universe. A universe in which our galaxy is a mere mote in a super hurricane.

    The Massive Universe

    • Michael Neville
      • sandy

        and god is everywhere but still listening to the 7 billion plus human’s thoughts and recording their “sins” for judgement. I wonder if that trick would fool Penn and Teller.

        • epeeist

          and god is everywhere but still listening to the 7 billion plus human’s thoughts

          And seems excessively concerned with what they do with the tackle in their underpants.

        • Jack Baynes

          He wasn’t a tackle, he was a wide-receiver!
          And no, I don’t know what he was doing in my underpants.

        • RichardSRussell

          “One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got into my pajamas I’ll never know.” —Groucho Marx

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          I’m guessing he “shot” the elephant like a gun… that imagery has to be intentional, right?

        • Jack Baynes

          It’s pretty easy when you count sin like Christians do. Is that a human? Yeah? Ok, they’re a sinner, move on.

        • Lark62

          At least 400,000,000,000 galaxies. Each with 100,000,000,000 to 600,000,000,000 stars. Each star may well have 1 to a dozen planets. There are 1,000,000,000,000,000 organisms living on our planet, excluding microbes.

          And all that matters to the creator of all of that is what your next door neighbor does with his genitals.

          The ignorance of christians is only surpassed by their arrogance.

        • Michael Neville

          Christians keep trying to squeeze the creator of a universe with an observable radius of over 65 billion light years and with hundreds of billions of galaxies and trillions of stars and planets into an Iron Age Middle Eastern tribal god. The fit just isn’t there.

        • The heavens are the first created thing mentioned in Genesis. The problem of course is our staggered imaginations that reel from the sheer scale of the heavens. You are correct, though we cannot believe God did it all.

        • Michael Neville

          Both versions of the creation myths in Genesis were fantasies stolen from the Babylonians by Hebrew priests who didn’t know where the Sun went at night. Any relationship between those fictions and reality is purely coincidental and shouldn’t be taken to mean anything.

        • Thanks for the history lesson, Michael. Can you support your claims with textual evidence, especially about the sun and the Hebrew priests?

        • Michael Neville

          Nobody in the 5th and 4th Centuries BCE knew where the Sun went at night. That’s when what’s called the Priestly Source (or simply P) of the Torah was written in post-Babylonian Captivity Judah. P is considered the main source for the Pentateuch or Torah (the Greek and Hebrew names for the books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy).

          Incidentally many scholars attribute the laws in P to the desire to glorify the Aaronide priestly caste responsible for their composition.

        • Nobody knew where the sun went? Aristarchus (4th century BC), proposed a heliocentric model. While he’s credited as being the first to do so, it is unlikely he had been thinking about this in an astronomical vacuum. There were likely Babylonian astrologers who surmised it before he did. Ptolemy got a lot of the Almagest from Babylon. Greeks pilfered the old school stuff. We assume to start with them, but there were other cultures which preceded them, and we lost the library at Alexandria. Who knows what was lost in that conflagration?

          Granted people did not have the remarkable technological sophistication of modern astronomy, but observational astronomy is extraordinarily and uncannily useful and easy once you get the hang of it. The ancients in different ways probably knew more about the heavens than we do today, the “eyeball” kind that is.

          The P source is hypothetical and is based on how scholars have chosen to group the contents & phrasing of the Pentateuch. I am not saying there weren’t earlier documents, but if they did exist we do not have them.

        • Joe

          The Aboriginal people of Australia have a creation myth that predates Genesis by tens of thousands of years.

        • What are you meaning to imply, Joe? That Genesis is a late-comer as far as myths go and therefore it is merely an amalgam of borrowed myths of previous cultures?

        • Joe

          Yes.

        • Could you trace that out as to how you think that happened?

        • Joe

          It’s really not difficult. Cultures evolve from pre-existing ones, and the tales change in the telling.

        • Bob Jase

          Yet both are surpassed by their tremendous humility.

        • He made the galaxies and our genitals. If a human being could do that he’d get a Nobel Prize.

        • Michael Neville

          Got any evidence to support that claim about your god?

        • I offered the heavens. But do you know for certain the heavens are not evidence of God’s existence? I would also assume you reject the Scriptures, too, is that correct? And all other holy writ of any kind? If so, I can only then assume you would know how God would communicate to us if He did exist.

          In short a rejection of all theistic claims becomes an exclusive religious claim with its own set of standards for God’s existence, His attributes, communicative abilities, His workmanship, etc. The issue, however, is that those standards are never clearly articulated.

        • Halbe

          Nice try shifting the burden of proof again. You first have to explain how “the heavens” are evidence of God’s existence, otherwise it is just an empty claim, like “the presents under the tree are evidence for Santa’s existence”. Do you know for certain that these presents are not evidence for Santa’s existence? See how that works? So, show us how “the heavens” point to the existence of any god, and then of course to your specific God (which probably is the Christian God).

        • God created the heavens. Most people familiar with the account in Genesis know that God did so through verbal commands, “Let there be…and it was so.” Elsewhere the Scriptures attest to God brining forth the starry host by the breath of his mouth, and with His hands and fingers (Ps. 33:6; Ps. 19:1; Ps. 8:3-5).

          The heavens show forth many of God’s invisible attributes. His luminous glory, His incomprehensible power, His wisdom, His creativity, and His faithfulness.

          There are several titles/names of Christ which have to do with light and stars.

          Jesus is “the light of the world” (John 8:12), He is light (1 John 1:5); the Bright and Morning Star (Revelation 22:16); the Sun of Righteousness (Malachi 4:2); the Sunrise (Luke 1:78); and the Star of Jacob (Numbers 24:17). The descendants of Abraham are like the stars (Genesis 15:5; Daniel 12:3). The stars in the heavens are a reflection of Christ, as I believe.

          If someone denies all this, however, then I can only assume that person knows precisely what evidence for God would look like. I have borne the burden. The person rejecting the evidence I set forth must have standards of his own.

          Implicit in an atheist’s rejection of all theistic claims are theistic claims. A rejection of all gods is just as exclusivist as an acceptance of just one.

        • Halbe

          Nice bait and switch. First you claim that the heavens are evidence for God, and now suddenly you turn this into the claim that scripture is evidence for God. Imo you just weakened your case instead of strengthening it.

          And, you’re misrepresenting the claim atheists make, probably purposefully. Atheists just find the evidence for god(s) underwhelming, so we live our life as if no gods exist. You also find the evidence for Allah, Brahma, Zeus and Thor lacking; we extend the same courtesy to your God.

        • Both. General revelation through creation, and specific and special revelation through Scripture.

          Atheists who reject theistic claims are making tacit theistic claims just as exclusive as any single religious claim. That the evidence, for them, is “underwhelming” as you say, by default means they have some standard in mind that they would accept as evidence.

          If I am underwhelmed by the evidence that my socks are not in the laundry pile, it is because I know what socks look like and I have not found them. After a fruitless search, I conclude the sock monster was at it again and reexamine the washer and drier and laundry room for evidences of my socks. But in the end, when I say, “There is no evidence for socks in the laundry pile” it is only because I know what socks look like.

          I think the very same thing goes for the atheist/skeptic who rejects theistic claims. They are tacitly asserting they would know the evidence when it presented itself.

        • Halbe

          “revelation through creation“!? You have not even shown any evidence for creation; the only “evidence” you have shown for creation is scripture. And you fail to provide any evidence for why your favorite scripture is more correct or reliable than any other scripture, like the Rig Veda, the Gylfaginning, or the Adi Granth. They cannot all be right, but they can most certainly all be wrong (the a-priori probability for each of them to be wrong is very close to 100%; this is also true for the Genesis creation account).

          From my Christian upbringing I have a fairly good idea what the world would look like if the Christian God existed. We would most certainly see many cases where prayer actually positively affects the outcome of certain events. We would also see that Christians on average morally behave better than non-Christians. Furthermore, post-Christian countries would be worse places to live than countries where people cling to the Christian faith in very large numbers. For all these three cases we actually rather see the opposite. And then of course there is the fact that the omnimax God of Christianity (and Islam) is logically incoherent.

          When it comes to more general theistic claims: A theistic god is a god that plays an active role in the universe and in human affairs. You would need to show me evidence of phenomena that can only be explained by the presence of such an interventionist god in order to convince me that such a god exists. So far, I find the evidence for such and interventionist god severely lacking. That is not a “tacit theistic claim”, it is just following the evidence wherever it leads.

        • What counts as evidence and who gets to say? You?

        • Halbe

          You are making a big unsubstantiated leap from “the universe exists” to “the universe has been created”, and then another big leap to “the universe has been created by the Christian God”. The only basis you have for making these leaps is Christian scripture, which is contradicted by other religions’ scripture (and also by science). You have not made any case for why your scripture is more reliable than any other religion’s scripture. In short: you have nothing.

          If you want to convince me of your theistic claims, then yes, I get to say what counts as evidence, since it is me you want to convince. I gave you some examples of evidence that I would find convincing. Got any?

        • And you are calling them leaps, therefore they are?

        • Halbe

          They are fully unsubstantiated claims. Make a convincing case for them, and then I will stop calling them leaps.

        • There is no obligation on my part to satisfy your own personal theological and epistemic criteria. You can call them leaps all you wish, sir or ma’am. I have written what I have written.

        • Halbe

          You’re right, you have no obligation at all to substantiate your wild claims. But then please be not surprised that nobody here is impressed or convinced.

        • MR

          That’s simply a claim, not evidence. Plenty of religious traditions can make the same claim. It’s not evidence if you can’t show the connection.

          “I present to you this butcher knife, that I pulled out of my kitchen drawer, as evidence that the Road Runner killed Wile E. Coyote in cold blood!”

          Phht.

        • Joe

          “The heavens” are the claim, not the evidence.

          If it weren’t, then I painted the Mona Lisa. Want proof, just go to the Louvre and see it for yourself. It’s right there.

        • So Joe, you claim the heavens are not evidence of God’s handiwork, and that settles it then?

          And if you wish to make yourself out to be Leonardo, knock yourself out!

        • Joe

          Who’s Leonardo?

        • Da Vinci… He painted the ML did he not?

        • Joe

          No, I just told you I painted it.

        • I see.

        • Michael Neville

          The “heavens” or, as it’s more commonly called, the universe is evidence of its own existence. It’s no more evidence of some god’s or gods’ existence than the existence of whitewashed picket fences in Hannibal, Missouri is evidence for the existence of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn.

          The Bible is a collection of myths, fables and propaganda written over several centuries by numerous authors and then revised, redacted, translated, edited, improved and otherwise mucked about with by various people all with their own agendas. The Bible is as “holy” as any other “holy book”. Do you accept the Quran or the Book of Mormon as holy? Think about why you reject the Vedas as holy and you’ll get a good idea about why I reject the Bible as holy.

          Incidentally, which Bible are you talking about? The Protestant Bible is not identical to the Catholic Bible is not identical to the Eastern Orthodox Bible is not identical to the Oriental Orthodox Bible is not identical to the Coptic Bible. Which of these Bibles is holier than the others? Justify your response.

          My “set of standards for gods’ existence” (remember there’s more gods than your favorite god) is quite simple. Until reasonable evidence for their existence is given then I do not believe they exist. It’s entirely possible that some god or other might exist, although the existence of the sadistic, narcissistic bully you worship is highly unlikely. But due to the complete and utter lack of evidence for gods’ existence, I do not believe they exist. Note this is not the same as “I believe gods do not exists”, which requires the same level of proof as the existence of gods.

        • Michael, you’re just writing off the universe of your own accord here, comparing the vastness of the cosmos to a literary prop in a Samuel Clemens novel. You can assert this of course, but surely you do not mean to say the universe is not evidence for God’s existence or the Bible is not evidence for God simply because you say so, do you?

          How do you know you’re interpretation is the right one. I have offered mine, but you have rejected it. Ok, on what grounds? What should evidence for God look like?

          Complete and utter lack of God’s existence? So you really are telling me you must know what the evidence would be if it did exist?

          What would it be then and how would you know?

        • Lark62

          Ignorance and arrogance.

          “He” made? Does your magic deity have genitalia?

          And if anyone could provide one shred of evidence for this nonsense belief, they would win the Nobel Prize. But there is no evidence for the existence of any supernatural being. There are just lots of people gaining wealth and power by scaring the ignorant with tales of hell or manipulating the weak with promises of paradise.

          Astronomers and biologists, on the other hand, have evidence for the history of the universe and the evolution of sexual reproduction. No magic beings required.

        • What would evidence for God look like Lark and how would you know? If you say there isn’t a shred of it around, I can only assume you must know what it would be if such evidence did exist.

          Astronomers and biologists interpret the physical world. To say stars or the human body are not part of God’s workmanship is not a conclusion reached through the rigors of scientific empiricism. It is a philosophical interpretation. How do they know what God’s handiwork would look like?

        • BlackMamba44
        • sandy

          and he hates gays

      • Hi Michael! You know that’s Andromedaright? We are technically not there. 😉

        That’s about two-plus-million light years away from us. Andromeda also is about 10,000 light years bigger than the Milky Way, plus, it’s likely we live in a barred spiral.

        • Jack Baynes

          On the grand scale of things, two million light years is right next door.

        • Indeed it is!

        • Michael Neville

          In a mere four billion years Andromeda and the Milky Way will collide. What are you doing to prepare for this potential catastrophe?

        • I think they will actually both burn up before they collide. So I have plenty of bottled water in my barn, plus my telescope. And a good cabernet and comfy lawn chair. I am ready!

        • Michael Neville

          I think you’re ignorant about basic astrophysics if you think that the two galaxies will “burn up” (whatever that means) before they collide. The Earth will be burned up by the Sun by then because the Sun will be a red giant but overall the galaxies won’t have changed much until the collision.

          Here’s a computer simulation of what will happen when the galaxies meet.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HP3x7TgvgR8

        • I must be ignorant of astrophysics because of a light-hearted comment I made. Got it. Thanks for the video, though.

        • Michael Neville

          I suggest that when you try to make a joke that it be funny. That’s a good clue that it’s a joke.

        • Cabernet, a lawn chair and galaxy collisions all tied together in one comment was certainly an attempt at humor. I am not always successful in that department, though. It is true.

        • Tony D’Arcy

          And apparently heading straight for us ! But DON’T PANIC, the individual stars are highly unlikely ever to collide owing the the distances between them. Yes there will be a bit of a tidal whirlpool created, but who cares ?

        • Would be wonderful to be around just to see Andromeda get a million light years closer.

    • It was created by Him and for Him. It is His immensity, declaring His glory. The Hebrew for “glory” in Psalm 19 implies a kind of weightiness. The “massive” nature of the universe is perfectly in keeping with God’s glory. It is huge, deadly, awe-inspiring, magnificent and not a little terrifying when you really think about it. Do we really know the ordinances of the heavens?

      How about the wondrously enigmatically beautiful SN 1987A?

      “Back in 1990, Hubble was the first to see the event in high resolution, clearly imaging the main ring that blazes around the exploded star. It also discovered the two fainter outer rings, which extend like mirror images in a hourglass-shaped structure. Even today, the origin of these structures is not yet fully understood.”

      .

      Or the unseen invisible entity at the heart of the Milky Way juggling enormous stars as though they were tennis balls?

      Atheist philosopher Thomas Nagel:

      I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I am right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that. My guess is that this cosmic authority problem is not a rare condition and that it is responsible for much of the scientism and reductionism of our time. One of the tendencies it supports is the ludicrous overuse of evolutionary biology to explain everything about human life, including everything about the human mind.

      .

      Thomas Nagel, The Last Word (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997), 130-131.

      • Pofarmer

        Yeah, Nagel is off in the Bushes.

        • He prefers the shrubbery. But at least he had the laurels to admit it.

      • RichardSRussell

        It was created by Him and for Him. It is His immensity, declaring His glory.

        That which is asserted without evidence may safely be ignored without regret.

        • Hi Richard.

          So what evidence haven’t you seen yet?

        • Michael Neville

          Evidence that your or any other god is real. Got any evidence for the existence of any gods?

        • RichardSRussell

          So what evidence haven’t you seen yet?

          Any evidence that the Universe was created by and for this “Him” to whom you allude. The mere existence of something says nothing about where it came from. It could’ve been an overly ambitious troop of Girl Scouts for all we can tell. Where’s the paper trail on the cause-effect relationship? Where are the preliminary sketches? Where’s the ruff draft? Where’s the artist’s signature? Where’s the trademark notice or registration? Ain’t none!

          What we do have is about a hundred “just so” stories from cultures all around the world and all thru human history, all of which disagree with each other, and each of which is fit to impress children and the simple-minded. That’s it. Evidence for any of them is non-existent.

        • So it seems you’re assuming that if God created the universe He should have left more obvious clues of His handiwork and whereabouts? It sounds like you are making several tacit theological assumptions here, one being that God, according to you, should be more forthwith in telling us about Himself and what He has done? Is that close to the mark?

          So someone brings you what they claim is a lost painting by Da Vinci. Would you personally be able to tell just by looking at the signature if the painting was real or a really good fraud?

          When you say “Where’s the artist’s signature?” I can only assume you are claiming you’d know it if you saw it. What are you looking for exactly? Star writing script of some kind?

        • Doubting Thomas

          You’re saying god created the universe and then pointing to the universe as evidence god exists. You’re missing a major step. You actually have to show that god created the universe.

          I could claim that tree gnomes make trees grow and, when pressed for evidence of tree gnomes, point you to some trees. Would you find that convincing?

        • And skeptics point to the universe and say God did not create the universe and use the universe itself is evidence that God does not exist. Look how secular cosmologists theorize about its origin, structure and scale, for example.

          So there is indeed something askew when two people can look at the heavens and conclude different things about something so beautiful and enormous. Should we blame the universe for inflicting us with cosmic ambiguity or is the problem inherently with us somehow?

          The existence of gnomes would explain a few things.

        • BlackMamba44

          And skeptics point to the universe and say God did not create the universe and use the universe itself is evidence that God does not exist.

          No. Skeptics point at people who believe God created the universe and say “I don’t believe you”.

          Skeptics say that the universe itself is evidence of the universe. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a8fa31a0dfc6e14bcf87c0f53b4e4b0db880bc4de2422f1da543d4c25239af8c.jpg

        • RichardSRussell

          You’re the one who says there’s evidence. Where is it? What is it?

        • Scripture and the Cosmos. I presented my claims in a reply post about the universe a few days ago. That engendered a few people telling me those don’t count as evidence, which then prompted me to ask how they knew that and what would count as evidence and how would they know. And here we are!

        • RichardSRussell

          Well, let’s skip right over the notoriously unreliable “Scripture” part and concentrate on “the Cosmos”. You’ll recall (and if you don’t, it’s just a couple of lines above your reply) that I had asked about your so-called evidence “What is it?”. The mere existence of the Cosmos tells us squat about your utterly baseless claim that “It was created by Him and for Him.” What, specifically, leads you to think so? Don’t just say “the Cosmos” as if that constitutes anything remotely resembling an answer.

        • I believe the cosmos/heavens/universe (I will use those terms to mean the same thing) had a beginning based on what I read in Genesis 1:1, not because of the findings of modern astrophysics or cosmology, which are always tentative and subject to change.

          But when one takes rather long and winding route through the secular literature on the cosmos, God still comes up, almost every time, even if it is along the lines of saying for the umpteenth time the unscientific conclusion that “God is no longer necessary” as an explanation for the universe, one begins to wonder if in fact He does still does Disturbing the antechambers of cosmologists’ inner thoughts with a gentle knock (Revelation 3:20).

          Poe, who had an uncanny epiphany about the nature of the universe about a century before big bang cosmology became fashionable, sounds to me like an astronomer in his darkened observatory observing the quaint and curious volume of celestial lore far above him.

          Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
          Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—
          While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
          As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
          “’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—
          Only this and nothing more.”

          Cosmologists of late, Sagan, Carroll, Krauss, DeGrasse Tyson, Davies, Wilczek, Stenger, et. al. all have had something to say about God in their public defenses of their science.

          Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
          Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
          But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token…

          And so they interpret the “silence” of the cosmos as though God has been pushed into some remote corner of the cosmos.

          As atheist philosopher Julian Baggini summarizes. “God is fast running out of places for believers to hide him.”

          So is the mantra of modern Laplacian cosmology.

          The idea behind it is that telescopes have done all their searching and haven’t yet seen what the prophet Isaiah did in the sixth chapter of His book. No throne room. No heaven. Or that somehow mathematical abstractions of the universe render God inert, as though the mechanics and physics behind espresso machines make baristas obsolete.

          But this all presupposes that scientific instrumentation and mathematical abstractions are able to detect God in the first place.

          Numbers, for example, are believed by many mathematicians to exist independently of mind. I can write the number “2” but the dark curvy line there is not the actual thing, just as the words “blue whale” are not the actually wondrous king of the deep but merely a linguistic stand in. It would be somewhat difficult to put a blue whale onto the page here. Bill Craig says that “Many mathematicians think that numbers, sets and other mathematical entities exist” by “necessity” . In other words, numbers, unlike stars, are uncaused and “just exist by the necessity of their own nature.” There is no “cause” for numbers in the same way that there are causes for the existence of the universe, in other words. They seem to exist independently of our own minds. We have “discovered” mathematics, we didn’t “invent” it. And uncannily, the math seems to correspond quite well to the universe.

          In this sense, the cosmos and all its celestial wonders are something like Poe’s enigmatic jet-black Raven chirping “Nevermore” above his door.

          But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy into smiling,
          Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;
          Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
          Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore—
          What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
          Meant in croaking “Nevermore.”

          What’s the universe mean? Why does the math work? How can Arcturus, some 37 light years away, be so eerily useful for Hawaiian outriggers to travel successfully some 2,000 miles of the open waters of the Pacific? How can farmers in the Andes know when to plant potatoes based on the view of the Pleiades upon its heliacal rising? How did ancient Japanese farmers know when to plant and harvest rice based on the rising and setting of Orion’s belt stars?

          Stellar light that enables human beings to navigate and harvest their way through this world.

          Jesus is the light of the world, a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. He is the bright and morning star, the sun of righteousness. During His short time on our planet, He often spoke of light and of the kingdom of the heavens with agrarian parables.

          And in modern quantum physics, the notion of light as both a wave and a particle seems to closely parallel the God-man nature of the Lord Jesus Christ.

          The nineteenth century had shown quite decisively that light possessed wave-like properties. However, at the start of the twentieth century, phenomena were discovered that could only be understood on the basis of accepting the revolutionary ideas of Max Planck and Albert Einstein that treated light as sometimes behaving in a particle-like way, as if it were composed of discrete packets of energy. Yet the notion of a wave/particle duality appeared to be absolutely nonsensical. After all, a wave is spread out and oscillating, while a particle is concentrated and bullet-like. How could anything manifest such contradictory properties? Nevertheless, wave/particle duality was empirically endorsed as a fact of experience, and so some radical rethinking was evidently called for. After much intellectual struggle this eventually led to modern quantum theory.

          In the New Testament, the writers knew that when they referred to Jesus they were speaking about someone who had lived a human life in Palestine within living memory. Yet they also found that when they spoke about their experiences of the risen Christ, they were driven to use diving-sounding language about him. For example, Jesus is repeatedly given the title ‘Lord’’, despite the fact tht the monotheistic Jews associated this title with the one truth God of Israel, using it as a substitute for the unutterable divine name in the reading of scripture. Paul can even take verses from the Hebrew Bible that clearly refer to Israel’s God and apply them to Jesus (for example, compare Philippians 2:10-11 with Isaiah 45:23, and 1 Corinthians 8:6 with Deuteronomy 6:4). How could this possibly make sense? After all, Jesus was crucified and Jews saw this form of execution as being a sign of divine rejection, since Deuteronomy (21:23) proclaims a curse on anyone hung on a tree. Experience and understanding seemed as much at odds here as they did in the case of the physicists’ thinking about light.

          Connections abound.

          In the opening chapter of John’s Gospel, Jesus is described as the Logos. Jesus as the Logos created the kosmos. It was created by Him and for Him as Paul says in Colossians.

          And it was Jesus, the Creator of the universe, who, in the act of creation, well understood what He would suffer as a result. The Creator came to our planet and let us have our way, let us revile, persecute, mock and ridicule Him. He allowed us to beat Him, to spit on Him and to kill Him. The hands which forged billions of suns were pierced through by our hatred and contempt of Him.

          It is terrifying, unimaginable and horrific and nearly impossible to comprehend.

          But I concur with Dante. It is not abstract “forces” but “love which moves the sun and other stars.”

          Love.

        • RichardSRussell

          So, in short, you didn’t “skip right over the notoriously unreliable ‘Scripture’ part”, you just waded right back in with more appeals to your favorite book of fables. You failed to quote a single thing about “the Cosmos” that supports your claimed cause-effect relationship between its existence or nature and your fatuous claim that “Goddidit”. I suspected as much, but thanks for confirming it.

        • What counts as evidence for God Richard? If the Bible is not how God communicates with us, then how would He if He did exist? Surely you know if you can confidently reject it.

        • RichardSRussell

          To repeat:

          You: It was created by Him and for Him. It is His immensity, declaring His glory.

          Me: That which is asserted without evidence may safely be ignored without regret.

          You have cited zero evidence that this “Him” created the Universe. Zero. I’m not asking for evidence of God, as you mistakenly seem to think (altho that would be interesting, too, if you had any) but for evidence supporting your astonishing assertion that “Him” created the Universe. Real evidence. Physical evidence. Demonstrable evidence. Measurable evidence. Reproducible evidence. Evidence that any impartial observer could look at and say “Yeah, that’s pretty persuasive.” Got any? (I ask rhetorically, of course, since you certainly would’ve trotted it out by now if you had.)

        • BlackMamba44

          It sounds like you are making several tacit theological assumptions here, one being that God, according to you, should be more forthwith in telling us about Himself and what He has done?

          Well, he does want a relationship with us. He wants us to worship him and love him and grovel at his immaterial feet. And if we don’t give him what he wants he tortures us for eternity.

          So, yes, Yahweh (who would know exactly what evidence I would need to prove his existence) should be be forthwith in telling us about himself. (Not more forthwith. He has yet to be forthwith).

      • Lark62

        I spend as much time hoping that there is/is not a deity as I spend hoping there is/is not a tooth fairy. Make believe beings are make believe.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          Oh, I wish that God did exist, but I don’t believe he does.

        • As an adult with all my original teeth, I too do not spend any time thinking about the tooth fairy. This is probably the first time in years I have spent this much time on the subject in writing this brief reply. On the other hand, I do think history attests to people thinking more about God as a real being than a make-believe one.

        • Priya Lynn

          “I do think history attests to people thinking more about God as a real being than a make-believe one.”.

          Not about your god. The majority of people have always thought your god is make believe just as you’ve always thought those with a different god than you have the make believe one.

        • What majority?

        • Priya Lynn

          Christianity is not a religon believed by the majority of people on the earth, never has been. And I’m pretty sure no other religion has ever been believed by the majority of people on the planet either. So it necessarily follows that for any given religion the majority of people on the earth think its make believe.

        • I never said anything about a Christian majority. My comment was generically theistic in nature. Historically speaking, people have taken and do take the idea of God very seriously, far more seriously than tooth fairies and fictional characters. That is all my comment you quoted was meant to say.

        • Priya Lynn

          If everyone believed in the same god you’d have a point. But they don’t and you don’t – the majority of people think everyone else’s god is make believe and don’t take them any more seriously than the tooth fairy.

        • Who is this majority, Priya? You haven’t really specified what you mean by this.

        • Michael Neville

          There are almost as many Muslims as there are Christians. Allah is not the same as the Christian god. About a billion Hindus don’t consider either Jesus or Allah to be gods. In short, the majority of the world’s population do not accept Jesus nor do they accept Allah nor do they accept Vishnu.

        • And it is still unclear what this “majority” argument is supposed to be establishing. A majority establishes the non-existence of God? A rather remarkable claim to know the personal beliefs of a “majority of the world’s population”, btw. I wouldn’t even begin to claim I knew the beliefs of even half the people in Wal Mart parking lot, let alone the entire world.

        • Michael Neville

          Priya Lynn made the comment “…the majority of people think everyone else’s god is make believe and don’t take them any more seriously than the tooth fairy.” Your response was “Who is this majority, Priya?”

          No god or collection of god is believed in by a majority of the world’s population. That’s all that Priya and I are saying.

        • How do either of you really know what a majority of the world’s population believe about God? My goodness man, that’s an enormous claim!

        • zenlike

          Since YOU brought it up first, how do YOU really know what a majority of the world’s population believe about God? And then in a historical context even? Talking about an enormous claim…

        • I never said I did know what a majority of the world’s population believes about God! I was making a very fact-checkable statement about the history of the idea/concept of God. People have taken it and do take it more seriously than the tooth fairy. That’s all I meant to say. Good heavens!

        • zenlike

          “On the other hand, I do think history attests to people thinking more about God as a real being than a make-believe one.”

        • Note “HISTORY attests” – it is fact checkable when you actually read history! This is not a claim that I know what the world’s population at present thinks of God. I made an appeal to history that is open to anyone to examine.

        • zenlike

          No, even worse, you claim to know what the world’s population thought about god through history.

        • It is not novel conception at all. If you read history, you will quickly see that God is taken far more seriously thanthe tooth fairy, which was what my comment was all about. This is not the same as saying I personally know what everyone in the world thinks about God. It is what history attests, not me.

        • zenlike

          ” It is what history attests, not me.”

          No, it’s what you claim.

        • I have appealed to the historical record, not my own intellect or ideas. The history of God is open and available for anyone to research, investigate and fact-check.

        • zenlike

          No, you simply made a claim, and without backing it up, appeal to some nebulous “historical record”.

          How can you know what a majority of the people that ever lived believe about God? Because that is the standard of evidence you asked about other peoples claims. But it is clear you hold yourself to a whole different standard.

        • Bob Jase

          History attests to humanity believing in thousands of gods – collect them all and get back to me.

        • You make my case, Bob, thank you!

        • Bob Jase

          So far above your head that I need a pressurized cabin and oxygen.

        • At that height how would you know you were above my head?

        • Lark62

          Did you read the quote you posted? The person you claim was an atheist said he hoped there was no god. I have never heard of that person, but what he said was bizarre. Most people do not express hope that make believe beings are or are not real. That is just dumb.

          Now you are changing the subject from “atheist hopes there is no god” to “lots of people think about god.”

          So what? What possible bearing does that have on anything? In ancient Greece, lots of people thought about Zeus as a real being. Likewise people have thought about Oden, Osiris, Krishna, Misthras, Allah, Quetzalcoatl and at least 3000 other deities as real beings. On a trip to Ireland, I met an elderly gentkeman who seriously thought leprechauns were real.

          All this proves is that human con men throughout history have claimed to have special knowledge. Nine times out ten, this special knowledge includes “The deity said to tell you he wants your valuables. Give them to me and I’ll see he gets them.”

        • So just because you think Nagel’s quote bizarre and that you’ve never heard of him makes what he says untrue? Is that what you mean?

          Thomas Nagel is a professional philosopher and an atheist who wrote a book a few years ago suggesting that Darwinism is most likely false. He was excoriated for being so candid about the problems with evolutionary concepts of the mind and consciousness yet admits once more in that book that he doesn’t want theism to be the alternative explanation. Give it a read. Nagel is no intellectual slouch.

          You’re also taking my quote about the historical aspects of thinking about God far beyond what I intended. It was not offered as a proof of anything. It is a pretty simple statement any cursory read of history will reveal to be true.

        • Lark62

          Can you read? Whats-his-face may well hope or not that make believe beings exist. Most adults, having concluded that something is make believe, do not then “hope” one way or the other.

          Evolution is a scientific theory based on evidence. The mental gymnastics of self appointed philosophers make no difference.

          I could write a book saying I don’t believe water is a molecule consisting of 2 parts Hydrogen and 1 part Oxygen. I could then say with great sincerity that I hope that the god Neptune does not exist. But I sure would look stupid.

        • Ever read his Mind and Cosmos Give it a whirl. He makes cogent points that deserve to be answered.

        • Lark62

          Also, “Darwinism” is a term used by creationists who don’t understand the difference between evidence and appeal to authority.

          All religion is based on appeal to authority. For example, Paul’s writings matter because people believe god clued him in. There is no evidence, so “authority” is all you’ve got.

          Charles Darwin was a scientist who died in 1882. The Theory of Evolution is a scientific theory based on the work of Darwin and thousands of other scientists. This theory is supported by evidence from multiple scientific disciplines. Darwin got some things wrong and there is much that Darwin did not know. Using the term “Darwinism” displays bias and ignorance.

        • Could you explain how evolution works at the atomic and subatomic levels? If someone could do that adequately enough, it just might convince me to seriously reconsider my position about it.

          There is nothing wrong, per se, with authority, or appealing to such authority. Wouldn’t someone with a Ph.D. in molecular biology be an authority in matters of evolution and natural selection? What’s wrong with appealing to them for information?

        • Lark62

          Who thinks evolution works at the “subatomic” level?

          Did you just learn a fancy new word or something?

          Evolution can be explained, but it takes more than a couple sound bites in a combox.

          The best straightforward explanation of evolution is the book Why Evolution is True by Jerry Coyne. The Berkeley evolution site is also good.

          The information you seek is readily available.

          Appeal to authority is based on personality not evidence. Yes, a PhD on biology would generally be trustworthy because they are expected to base conclusions on evidence.

          The Theory of Evolution contains the most current understanding based on evidence. The fact that Darwin said something only matters if it corresponds to evidence. Darwin got most things right, but not everything. When choosing between what Darwin said versus what the evidence shows, evidence wins.

          Compare that to religion. The evidence shows the Shroud of Turin is fake, but people still worship it. The evidence shows that 2 “first humans” could not have existed, but christians still believe in Adam and Eve.

        • Why wouldn’t natural selection work at the subatomic level if atoms are very much a part of what it means to be a biological organism?

          How do you know Adam and Eve did not exist? To what evidences are you referring?

        • Doubting Thomas

          Because the selection is at the species level. What is the difference in the quarks of a slow gazelle and a fast gazelle?

        • But atoms are part of what makes a gazelle. Hypothetically, let’s say one gazelle has a bit more C6H12O2 than his slower fellows. Twenty extra atoms, that extra bite of leaf or something, might make the difference between a sprint-for-one’s-life of 60 miles an hour and slower but lethal 59.957 miles an hour, which just so happened to be the speed of the pursuing cheetah that was two steps behind them.

        • Susan

          Why wouldn’t natural selection work at the subatomic level if atoms are very much a part of what it means to be a biological organism?

          When you drive over a bridge, do you verify its structure at the subatomic level?

        • Not generally. But there are people aware of what goes on at the atomic and subatomic level with bridges.

          Including an iconic one we all know and recognize. If Caltrans officials didn’t understand the process of Fe2O3, there would be no driving over it.

          http://goldengatebridge.org/research/factsGGBIntOrngPaint.php

        • Susan

          Now, you’re talking about chemistry.

        • It all fits together, Susan. A molecule of iron oxide is comprised of three iron atoms and two oxygen atoms. Biology, physics and chemistry all go together and do relate to everything from stars to rust on suspension bridges. A plausible theory of everything will include everything

        • Susan

          It all fits together, Susan. A molecule of iron oxide is comprised of three iron atoms and two oxygen atoms. Biology, physics and chemistry all go together and do relate to everything from stars to rust on suspension bridges

          Exactly.

          A plausible theory of everything will include everything

          The theory of evolution by natural selection is not a theory of everything.

          Neither is germ theory.

          Nor aerodynamic theory.

          Nor gravitational theory.

          Etc.

          So, you want (mostly) laypersons on an internet discussion forum, (which is dedicated to examining christian claims) to provide you with a theory of everything or you can dismiss a well-established scientific theory and tell us Yahwehjesus did it?

        • All those theories should go together, Susan. From germs to aerodynamics and day trips over the Golden Gate to Sausalito. I never said evolution was a theory of everything, but it ought to be able to have a cogent connection to physics and chemistry and astronomy and the likes (Astrobiology is a burgeoning area of research). That’s all I’ve been saying. I have not demanded a theory of everything from anyone, but simply have pointed out that such a theory would include and explain the interrelationships of physics, chemistry and biology.

        • MR

          Wha’? I’m shocked, shocked to find out that he’s attempting to shift the burden of proof!

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/0133054dc5e4b5a819ccdfb3d4cda3aabe3238809673f67a2d63fc03d8cd8dea.jpg

        • Lark62

          1. Evidence of human evolution. There was no “first human,” just populations that were slightly different from the prior generation.

          2. In bottlenecks, when humans nearly died out, there were still at least 5,000 to 10,000 individuals.

          Scientists have evidence supporting both claims.

        • No first human? Do biologists have the genome of our ancient progenitors or are they assuming it? Not a hypothetical reconstruction, but actual DNA?

        • Lark62

          Species evolve gradually over time. Every individual is the same species as its parent and its children. It is only after the fact that we identify different groups.

          French and Spanish are different languages, both evolved from Latin. But who was the first person to speak modern French? That person does not exist because the transition was gradual, just a few minor changes in each generation.

          Likewise, each generation of the population of early humans was slightly different than the prior generation, but there was no moment when early human became modern human.

        • Yes, Lark, this “evolve over time” is an ambiguous phrase that avoids the mechanics of molecular particulars. Where is the dividing line between the subatomic realm and the genome? Where does natural selection “start” working?

        • Lark62

          Read a book.

          Let me state this clearly: The people who say there are no stupid questions lied.

          “Where is the dividing line between the subatomic realm and the genome?” is a stupid question.

          Kind of like “where is the dividing line between a subatomic realm and a volcano?” Or where is the dividing line between a subatomic realm and making pancakes?”

          The question is not answerable because it is nonsensical.

        • Ignorant Amos
        • Does not evolution often speak of genetic mutations? Are there not atoms in DNA? Why wouldn’t natural selection be working at the atomic and subatomic levels then?

        • Lark62

          Subatomic particles are protons, neutrons and electrons. Changing the number of subatomic particles changes something from one chemical to another, eg hydrogen to helium. This requires a star or other nuclear reaction. Evolution does not happen at the”subatomic” level.

          In organisms that reproduce sexually (nearly everything), the offspring are genetically different from the parents. And individuals in a population vary from each other. Some are faster or slower than average. Some are lighter ot darker than average. Some are slightly better at getting nutrients from one food, some thrive slightly better on another.

          If there is selection pressure (predators, food availability, disease, climate, etc), indviduals with the beneficial trait(s) will produce more surviving offspring, and the next genetation of the population will contain slightly more of the beneficial traits.

          Add reproductive isolation and a few million years and you will get a new species.

          A good analogy is language – French, Spanish, Italian and Romanian all come from Latin. In what is now France, every parent spoke the same language as their children. With hindsight, we can differentiate between modern French, old French and Latin. But each generation was just slightly different from the previous generation and there is no “first” modern French speaker who spoke a different language than his parents. The same process happened in Spain and resulted in a different language.

        • New species in language is a great analogy to new species in life.

        • Lark62

          Yes. I like that analogy. It helps me grasp evolution.

          Credit for the analogy goes either to me or to Jerry Coyne in Why Evolution is True. You get three guesses…. ☺

        • Thank you for this! “Evolution does not happen at the subatomic level”. Ok, great. Now I have something to go on here. I appreciate your explanation here, by the way. Thank you.

          So let’s just dwell on this one claim you have made about the subatomic realm. Given your confidence of this, where then do you believe evolution actually begins to happen and what is the evidence you have of this line of demarcation between the subatomic levels and the genome? Can you show that?

        • Bob Jase

          Damn if you aren’t cladisticaly a sea lion.

        • According to Bob. So that makes it so then, I guess!

        • Lark62

          Drop “subatomic particles” already.
          For that, you want Atomic Theory not the Theory of Evolution. That’s like demanding information on metallurgy of a car before putting gas in it. Two different issues.

          Evolution happens at the DNA level. It is the change in the genetic makeup of a population over time.

          From TalkOrigins.com

          Biological evolution … is change in the properties of populations of organisms that transcend the lifetime of a single individual. The ontogeny of an individual is not considered evolution; individual organisms do not evolve. The changes in populations that are considered evolutionary are those that are inheritable via the genetic material from one generation to the next. Biological evolution may be slight or substantial; it embraces everything from slight changes in the proportion of different alleles within a population (such as those determining blood types) to the successive alterations that led from the earliest protoorganism to snails, bees, giraffes, and dandelions.”
          – Douglas J. Futuyma in Evolutionary Biology, Sinauer Associates 1986

          Note that individuals do not evolve.

          Evolution happens in a population.

          Also, evolution can be defined as “any change in the frequency of alleles within a gene pool from one generation to the next.”

          I don’t have a science background, but find evolution fascinating.

          Talk origins is a good resource, as is Wikipedia’s Intro to Evolution (follow the links) and the Berkeley evolution website.

          For books, read Why Evolution is True (Coyne) and Your Inner Fish (Neil Shubin). Both are available as audiobooks. Richard Dawkins is good, but he tends to do more anti-creationist editorializing so those may not be the best place to start.

          Have fun. Learning about evolution is a great adventure.

        • If there really is a theory of everything as physicists hope, then it will certainly explain and unite all the fundamental forces, all the biology, chemistry, and physics we know into one coherent equation/explanation.

          You talk of changing alleles in the abstract, like “Well, it just happens and that’s it.” But what is this change exactly powered by? Energy? Sentience? Molecular obedience to laws?

          That’s my issue.

          Thanks for the recommends.

        • epeeist

          If there is a theory of everything said physicists hope…

          No, this is nonsense. Physics is easy, biology is extremely hard. Biology supervenes on chemistry which supervenes on physics.

          It really would be nice if you stopped pontificating about stuff of which you know SFA.

        • I see. So nature gives you this hierarchy of the sciences then?

        • Pofarmer

          Daniel Ray thinks he’s stumbled on some Really Good Questions. I mean, he STUMPS people with them! Well, yeah, because they’re nonsense, mostly. This is your brain on Jesus.

        • Doubting Thomas

          It’s not just evolutionists that he’s outwitted. He once stumped a mathematician by asking “What does eleven smell like?”

        • Clint W. (Thought2Much)

          Eleven smells like blue. Duh.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Sounds Sheldon Cooperesque.

        • epeeist

          Well, yeah, because they’re nonsense, mostly.

          I see that he has deleted the post I responded to.

          The thing that gets me is that there are some good, popular books on the subject (for example, Sean Carroll’s The Big Picture, Brian Greene’s The Hidden Reality or the slightly dated The First Three Minutes by Steven Weinberg) but he, and others like him, seem to take the little understanding they have from crappy apologetics sites.

        • Pofarmer

          I would assume that’s because all they want to do is apologetics. I mean, they know the answer already.

        • epeeist

          In other words not just ignorance but deliberate and wilful ignorance.

          One of the things that always amuses me is reaction of people to the smallest bit of mathematics in a post, especially those pushing quantum woo (remember Robert Lockett referring to it as “Freshman Hogwarts sophistry!”). It almost guarantees descent into obfuscation and hand waving.

        • Pofarmer
        • Pofarmer

          William Lane Craig makes a big deal about publishing in some astrophysics journals, but he’s doing it as philosophy, not mathematics. I seriously doubt he has the math chops to play with the big boys.

        • epeeist

          William Lane Craig makes a big deal about publishing in some astrophysics journals

          Well there are journals and journals of course, what you need to look at is the impact factor. Nature for example has an impact factor over 40 while for something like Frontiers in Cosmology it was about 6 (I am not sure whether this still even exists). Then of course there are the open access journals…

        • Lark62

          Maybe you are using the wrong word. Do you mean DNA or genetic material?

          The process of reproduction where the genetic material of the parents is contributed to offspring is well understood and explained elsewhere.

          Evolution is what happens as a result genetic variation.

        • Thought DNA is genetic material…

          https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK22104/

        • Pofarmer

          Daniel Ray is like the uhm, mentally challenged Sea Lion.

        • Clint W. (Thought2Much)

          I banned him from Godless in Dixie because he was incapable of understanding the concept of “burden of proof”. If one can’t understand their burden of proof, there’s no reason to bother trying to have a discussion with them.

        • Susan

          If one can’t understand their burden of proof, there’s no reason to bother trying to have a discussion with them.

          Apologists won’t survive that process.

          Their entire strategy is aimed at shifting the burden of proof.

          I wonder why that is.

        • Pofarmer

          Shifting it, ignoring it, making you question yourself.

        • Pofarmer

          BUt they’ve never had to provide proof. They just accept all this stuff uncritically, because it makes them feel good, or something.

        • eric

          Biological evolution works on heritable structures that impact your phenotype. If something doesn’t affect your phenotype, changing it won’t make any difference to the organism’s behavior or interaction with the environment. Atoms, however, get exchanged all the time with no impact on phenotype or heritability. One hydrogen atom gets pulled into a structure while the ‘original’ leaves, and the structure stays the same. Same with carbon and so on. You don’t inherit them, you don’t even keep the same ones for a month! A quick google tells me about 70% of the atoms in your body will be exchanged for equivalent ones (an old C for a new C in the same structural place, etc.) in the next two weeks or so. Your body exchanging one carbon atom for a different carbon atom in the same place has no impact on your function; there’s no genotypic or phenotypic difference between one carbon and another so long as the molecular structure stays the same.

          I’ll be generous here and ask: were you talking about some different, non-biological and non-Darwinian meaning of the term ‘evolution’? Because the word has more than one use. “Stellar evolution”, for instance, refers to how stars change their composition and structure over time. You could reasonably assert that subatomic interactions are involved in stellar evolution. But that process has nothing to do with Darwin’s theory; it’s two entirely different processes that happen to share a descriptive word, like the growth of a tree and the growth of my bank account.

        • Susan

          Could you explain how evolution works at the atomic and subatomic levels?

          No. If you were interested in learning about science, you wouldn’t be at a website asking christians to defend their claims. You would be asking scientists what they are claiming and how they support it.

          You might even show that you’ve put some work into understanding fields of science, the methodology that supports the models in those fields and the philosophy of science that is aimed at calibrating that methodology to a finer and finer point. That is, when you ask questions like that to experts in the fields.

          it just might convince me to seriously reconsider my position about it.

          No. You’re here pretending that you care and that if someone can’t answer everything, even questions you invented out of ignorance, then Yawhehjesus is real.

          Could you explain how Yahwehjesus works at atomic and subatomic levels?

          You first.

        • Hi Susan

          This discussion started because I mentioned I was having a conversation with a Ph.D. molecular biologist who is a friend of mine. I was indeed having a conversation with a scientist on this issue.

          You are the second or third person to make the personal accusation that I am somehow “pretending” and therefore my questions are irrelevant or worse, ignorant. I asked them because of the kind of response I got from my friend (who is an atheist, btw). I asked him what he thinks of the design of molecular structures and that began a very interesting conversation about the nature of evolution. I wanted to see what other atheists might have to say about it, so I brought it up.

          One way in which I see a relationship between Christ and the quantum level is the following, from a book I’m working on.

          Physicist-turned-Anglican-priest Sir John Polkinghorne makes an intriguing connection between the quixotic nature of light as discovered by physicists in the early 20th century and the doctrine of Christ as both God and man.

          The nineteenth century had shown quite decisively that light possessed wave-like properties. However, at the start of the twentieth century, phenomena were discovered that could only be understood on the basis of accepting the revolutionary ideas of Max Planck and Albert Einstein that treated light as sometimes behaving in a particle-like way, as if it were composed of discrete packets of energy. Yet the notion of a wave/particle duality appeared to be absolutely nonsensical. After all, a wave is spread out and oscillating, while a particle is concentrated and bullet-like. How could anything manifest such contradictory properties? Nevertheless, wave/particle duality was empirically endorsed as a fact of experience, and so some radical rethinking was evidently called for. After much intellectual struggle this eventually led to modern quantum theory.

          In the New Testament, the writers knew that when they referred to Jesus they were speaking about someone who had lived a human life in Palestine within living memory. Yet they also found that when they spoke about their experiences of the risen Christ, they were driven to use diving-sounding language about him. For example, Jesus is repeatedly given the title ‘Lord’’, despite the fact tht the monotheistic Jews associated this title with the one truth God of Israel, using it as a substitute for the unutterable divine name in the reading of scripture. Paul can even take verses from the Hebrew Bible that clearly refer to Israel’s God and apply them to Jesus (for example, compare Philippians 2:10-11 with Isaiah 45:23, and 1 Corinthians 8:6 with Deuteronomy 6:4). How could this possibly make sense? After all, Jesus was crucified and Jews saw this form of execution as being a sign of divine rejection, since Deuteronomy (21:23) proclaims a curse on anyone hung on a tree. Experience and understanding seemed as much at odds here as they did in the case of the physicists’ thinking about light.”

          The light from stars, as both a wave and a particle, carrying “information” over enormously vast distances, iridescent messages from the past, literally entering our eyes and our minds in the present day, stirring our wonder and amazement. These enigmatic celestial messengers seem to gently interrogate us, too. “Do you know the ordinances of the heavens?” And we long to know. “Come and see!” they beckon us in glistening silvery whispers. Who among us doesn’t look up and wonder where it all came from and why we are alive to see such luminous grandeur?

        • Susan

          You are the second or third person to make the personal accusation that I am somehow “pretending” and therefore my questions are irrelevant or worse, ignorant.

          Asking how evolution works at the subatomic level is both.

          Having a chat with a molecular biologist and then asking that question on Cross Examined does not look like you have any interest in scientific explanations.

          Your ignorance of science is not evidence for Yahwehjesus.

          Your metaphor from Polkinghorne does not answer the question I asked.

        • MR

          You are the second or third person to make the personal accusation that I am somehow “pretending”

          He might as well make that the third or fourth person. I’m always amazed how “Ha-ha, I fucked with an atheist” takes precedent with these types over, you know, honesty. So much for defending Christian virtue. It’s somewhat amusing to watch them erode their own moral fiber.

        • Hi again Susan.

          Been working for the last year and a half or so on a presentation with a Hubble astrophysicist and an Oxford literary scholar on how astrophysics and fantasy compliment one another regarding our understanding of the universe. Akin to what Roger Penrose has said in his recent book.

          “Can fantasy have any genuine role to play in our basic physical understanding? Surely this is the very antithesis of what science is about, and should have no place in honest scientific discourse. However, it seems that this question cannot be dismissed as easily as might have been imagined, and there is much in the workings of nature that appear fantastical, according to conclusions that rational, scientific thought appear to have led us to when addressing sound observational findings.”

          If you’re in the DFW area in March, I invite you to our program here.

          https://swbts.edu/events/astrophysics-and-fantasy-hubble-meets-narnia/

          There will be a live Q & A (which I will be moderating) followed by coffee and cookies and interaction with the guest speakers. Feel free to come and grill me about my knowledge of science in person if you want. I’ll be a good sport about it!

        • Pofarmer

          Danny Ray seems ignorant about more than just science.

        • Susan

          Danny Ray seems ignorant about more than just science.

          Daniel Ray is a bullshit merchant. An Immaterial Car salesman.

        • Pofarmer

          But how many times do we see this? You get Christians, mainly, but the odd (very odd) Muslim or whatever, and they are so cock sure of their position that they don’t even consider “Hey, does this really make sense?” They just regurgitate whatever it is they’ve “Learned”. I was looking for some info on Elisha and the she bears and the “teaching” on this stuff is just appalling. And not just from Christian circles, from Jewish ones too. Literally no one knows if Elijah or Elisha existed. As far as we know, they are 100% made up. Nearly all of the early Hebrew history looks to be total or near total fiction. And they go on oblivious. “Well, it was really the proper thing to kill those 42 children, and the copyists obviously thought it important because the wrote it down1” I mean, what bunch of fucking idiots, when you get right down to it. Some day, somewhere, someone, is going to take “West Side story” as history. Sheesh. And our (well my) country is run by these ignorant goons right now.

        • Susan

          But how many times do we see this?

          Um… (nearly) every, single time.

          Yes. We’re arguing about stories.

          They assume something exists because of the story.

          They invest huge amounts of energy into retrofitting the story to line up with what they assume exists.

          It’s an elaborate web of supernatural goo.

          And our job, (for some unfathomable reason) is to disprove it.

          They lie about science, (deny it or try to retrofit it into the story), moral philosophy (deny it or try to retrofit it into the story), logic, etc.

          They are selling us time shares in Oz.

        • Pofarmer

          And our job, (for some unfathomable reason) is to disprove it.“

          But, how can they not be right? This story has been going on for thousands of years! It’s amazing how this particular mind virus gets planted and grows and mutates and resists any attempt to dislodge it. And you’re the threat for not believing it.

        • Ignorant Amos

          But, but, but, the children weren’t proper children, they were more adolescent, which makes them young adult, which means getting ripped to shreds for calling some auld douche, a baldy cunt or some such like, is totally justified. That is just one attempt to justify the shitty yarn.

          The contorted apologetic excuses they use are actually worse than the original stories.

        • I’ll get my views about evolution from the consensus of biologists, not some individual philosopher, thanks.

        • You are welcome. Sometimes the consensus isn’t always the best option though.

        • Oh? Give me a situation where there’s a scientific consensus but we should opt not to accept that as the best provisional statement of the truth?

        • Dark matter and dark energy.

        • Explain.

        • Ya, that’s the rub, isn’t it?

          Something is making celestial freight trains of unimaginable mass and size accelerate at speeds that exceed the speed of light.

          Did a podcast on this issue. Things too big for the big bang.

          https://www.patreon.com/posts/good-heavens-are-15438071

          Essentially, massive clusters and superclusters of galaxies are moving too quickly. Basically 14 billion years is not enough time for these things to have accelerated to the speed at which they have been clocked. Like a fully loaded train of railroad cars going from zero to 60 in ten seconds. Ten seconds isn’t nearly enough time for such mass to reach that speed.

          So this “dark energy” is like “magic power” – in pushes? pulls? the universe apart at speeds that defy conceptualization. There is no particle, no visible light, no physical signature of this energy whatsoever, and yet it is a huge chunk of the universe, allegedly. A majority of it! Some 68% as current theories hold.

          The other 27% is “dark matter” – magic sauce that holds the stars in galaxies in place as these enormous luminous pinwheels spin with a ferocity unknown to human experience. Imagine a Ferris Wheel at rest. On each unicorn saddle are a handful of Skittles. Now imagine the wheel spinning at 100) revolutions per minute. What do we expect the Skittles will do?

          Fly off the ride like bullets.

          But they don’t! When the ride stops, we go and pick up the Skittles effortlessly, having no idea what held them to the saddle.

          That’s nearly what’s happening with the stars in galaxies. Why aren’t they flying off into space like Skittles loosely placed on the saddles of Ferris Wheel unicorns?

          Magic sauce.

          Like dark energy, there is no particle, no light, no gas, nothing physically detectable.

        • Things too big for the big bang. . . .
          Basically 14 billion years is not enough time for these things to have accelerated to the speed at which they have been clocked.

          Why waste your time here? We can’t evaluate your conclusions. Send your paper into Science and collect your Nobel.

          So this “dark energy” is like “magic power” – in pushes? pulls? the universe apart at speeds that defy conceptualization.

          I have little respect for the amateur who declares that this or that part of science annoys him, so therefore it’s false. Read up on it if you’re actually eager to learn.

          a ferocity unknown to human experience

          Reality is amazing. Yeah, we get it.

          It’s weird, though, how we learn about reality only through science and never religion.

        • It’s fun to talk about! With all due respect to the astronomers and cosmologists and astrophysicists who write books for the general populace and hope they’ll read them, there’s just a ton of stuff out there that we barely understand. The only way astronomers will make progress in the current deadlocks of their understanding is if one or two brave souls break ranks and don’t think like the consensus.

          Of course those poor fellows will have a rough go at it at first but will posthumously be remembered and revered as heroes and martyrs when a hundred years later their quirky outside-the-consensus thinking is proven true.

          Roger Penrose, Stephen Hawking’s former colleague, believes the universe was every bit as nutty as a tower of shell-covered reptiles, making the observation that “there are some key aspects to the nature of our actual universe that are so exceptionally odd (though not always fully recognized as such) that if we do not indulge in what may appear to be outrageous flights of fantasy, we shall have no chance of coming to terms with what may well be an extraordinary fantastical-seeming underlying truth.” Penrose goes on to wonder, “Can fantasy have any genuine role to play in our basic physical understanding? Surely this is the very antithesis of what science is about, and should have no place in honest scientific discourse. However, it seems that this question cannot be dismissed as easily as might have been imagined, and there is much in the workings of nature that appear fantastical, according to conclusions that rational, scientific thought appear to have led us to when addressing sound observational findings.”

        • Susan

          there’s just a ton of stuff out there that we barely understand.

          And so much that they do. They are very clear about what they do and don’t understand. Science is provisional but you don’t get to just make shit up.

          The only way astronomers will make progress in the current deadlocks of their understanding is if one or two brave souls break ranks and don’t think like the consensus.

          But they have to show their work. The Flat Earth Theory is not Plate Tectonics.

          It’s not about being brave. It’s about demonstrating that your claims are the best models.

          There are countless rebels in tin-foil hats out there.

          Epeeist gave you some excellent advice. You should consider taking it.

        • Susan

          So just because you think Nagel’s quote bizarre and that you’ve never heard of him makes what he says untrue?

          No. Your cherrypicked quote of him copy/pasted from apologis web sites might be true. Maybe, he hopes that there’s no “God”. As he doesn’t define his term (in your cherry-picked quote copy/;pasted from apologist websites) or show how that’s relevant to the existent of “God” (whatever he means by that), it’s not useful to the discussion until you show why.

          Thomas Nagel is a professional philosopher and an atheist who wrote a book a few years ago suggesting that Darwinism is most likely false.

          Yes. Most of us know that. Because christians (who generally show no evidence of having read the book) are the ones who love to bring him up. That philosophers don’t think his work on this subject is very important or convincing. and that scientists have pointed out the serious errors he makes doesn’t seem to bother people who copy/paste that quote from apologist websites as some sort of argument for a position they are unable to support.

          http://www.preposterousuniverse.com/blog/2013/08/22/mind-and-cosmos/

          He doesn’t make a convincing case in the world of science or philosophy because his work doesn’t add up.

          That he is an “atheist” philosopher is meaningless.

          The case he builds is not a good one.

        • Actually got the quote out of a book, Susan. I have not cherry-picked but have actually read Nagel, including Mind and Cosmos. He is a brilliant philosopher who is blasted on a personal level by very few people who actually take the time to tango with his writing. He makes cogent points that demand cogent responses. I even wrote two short essays and prepared a study guide for general study. From one of my essays:

          For the established scientific clergy, Nagel certainly has authored a bit of troubling prose, a “nightmarish vision” of [Edgar Alan] Poe-like proportions. It is Nagel’s “cool artistic calculation” in regards to the current problems with prevailing scientific explanations of man’s thinking and reasoning which make Mind & Cosmos not a little disconcerting for the status quo. With little emotional rhetoric or bravado, he calmly suggests current Darwinian paradigms are in need of a revolution.

          As Nagel puts it, “we should expect theoretical progress in this area to require a major conceptual revolution at least as radical as relativity theory, the introduction of electromagnetic fields into physics – or the original scientific revolution itself.” For Nagel, as far as the present evolutionary explanation of human sentience goes, it “involves a great deal of speculation and evolutionary guesswork.” Without offering a comprehensive solution by any means, Mind & Cosmos certainly confronts the difficulties of prevailing scientific orthodoxies.

          If you wish, Susan, we can have a line-by-line discussion of M & C. By all means.

        • EDIT: Allan

        • Michael Neville

          I missed this comment.

          A non-biologist denouncing evolution is like a grocer refusing to accept that airplanes fly. Aeronautical engineers think that airplanes fly and know the reasons why they fly, grocers are not likely to be familiar with aviation theory. Likewise a philosopher is unlikely to understand evolution as a biologist would. So I’m not impressed by Nagel talking about “problems” with a theory he probably didn’t know much about.

        • Right, so just dismiss Nagel because he’s a philosopher. Ok. So let’s dismiss everything Michael has said about God and evolution simply because he was a sailor in the Navy.

          Sailors are not likely to understand evolution as a biologist would. So I’m not impressed by Neville talking about “problems” with a theory he probably didn’t know much about.

          How’s that?

        • Michael Neville

          Your comment fails for the simple reason that I go with the consensus of biologists’ understanding of evolution. Not to mention that I haven’t discussed any problems of evolution. I’ve talked about Nagel’s and Plantinga’s “problems with evolution” but only to say that I doubt their understanding of evolution is good enough for them to discuss it.

          If you want to talk about navigation then I’m your boy. If you want to talk about evolution then talk to a biologist.

          And I repeat for the bazillionth time that I don’t see any evidence for gods. Do you have any evidence other than an airy hand wave at the sky and babbling about “God’s handiwork”?

        • Glad2BGodless

          Wait a minute — you still have your baby teeth?

        • You were the only one who caught that! Congrats! Grammar goof. Meant by that I have all my adult teeth, no dentures or anything, not my teeth from childhood! 🙂 I have a few caps from root canals, but there is still original tooth there. TMI, probably.

      • Michael Neville

        So some philosopher I’ve never heard of is all atwitter because there might be a god and he doesn’t want one to exist. I’ve just looked in my bag of damns and found that I don’t have one to give.

        • BlackMamba44
        • Priya Lynn

          Not to mention that this statement is absurd and not even remotely true:

          “One of the tendencies it supports is the ludicrous overuse of
          evolutionary biology to explain everything about human life, including
          everything about the human mind.”

          I’ve never seen anyone even remotely begin to claim evolutionary biology does that

        • Dr. Nagel has. So which one of you is correct?

        • Priya Lynn

          “Dr. Nagel has.”.

          I haven’t. If what Nagel says is true you should have no trouble coming up with many examples of people using evolutionary biology to explain everything and the mind in very short order – I bet you can’t. Maybe Nagel has an example of this, but if it were as common as he asserts I would have come across this many times instead of never at all.

        • I’m under no compulsion to back up Dr. Nagel’s claims. I did not say one way or the other if I thought it was true or false. Maybe he’s exaggerating, maybe he is telling the truth. Your comment implied he is wrong simply on the claim that you haven’t seen what he claims to have seen. I put the quote up there because he mentioned what he hoped was true about the universe.

        • Priya Lynn

          I wasn’t commenting on what he hoped was true about the universe, but rather upon the absurdity about his claim that large numbers of people were overusing evolutionary biology to explain “everything” – that’s just a stupid statement

        • Well, it might seem stupid to you, but that doesn’t make his statement false (if it is true).

        • Priya Lynn

          I can only go on what I’ve seen, and I’ve never seen anyone, let along a whole pile of people, claiming evolutionary biology “explains everything”.

        • Susan

          but that doesn’t make his statement false (if it is true).

          She didn’t say it was false. She said it was stupid because it’s not supported by evidence.

          (if it is true)

          It doesn’t work that way. The statement needs to be supported.

        • Her evidence seemed to be that she merely didn’t see what Nagel claimed. I only asked her about that.

        • Susan

          Her evidence seemed to be that she merely didn’t see what Nagel claimed

          No. Her point was that the evidence doesn’t support what you suggest Nagel suggests.

          You didn’t “only ask her about that”. You pretended that it was her burden to disprove what you claim Nagel claimed. She only said that if Nagel claimed what you say he claimed, it is stupid, and she explained why..

          Show that it’s true. It’s not. That’s why his ideas didn’t make much of an impact with either philosophers or evolutionary biologists.

          Mostly with theists who like to claim him as an “atheist philosopher”.

        • Hi Susan. I am under no obligation to show Nagel’s statement to be true. I merely quoted the man for his comment about the universe.

          I am not pretending anything Ma’am. Priya and Michael are free to insist Nagel is uttering falsehoods. But to say what he said is false simply because they’ve never seen any evidence for his claim doesn’t actually make his claim false.

        • Glad2BGodless

          You’re under no obligation to be taken seriously.

        • That is true, too.

        • Let’s include the consensus of biologists. What do they say about how evolution informs why the human mind is the way it is?

        • So, Bob, I just had a very intriguing discussion with an atheist friend of mine today who holds a Ph.D. in molecular biology and is one of the smartest fellows I know. I asked him plainly what “evolution” actually is – not a linguistic metaphor, but what evolution/natural selection actually is. Is it some kind of force? Some sort of energy? How does DNA ‘know” how to do what it does? It’s like it is alive. Where is the “natural selection” in the formation of proteins? What’s the real thing driving that combining and recombining of atoms and molecules?

          He gave me a very interesting reply after he thought about it for a few minutes. You know where he started? By ignoring the quarks in the protons and neutrons. “Biologists don’t deal with that stuff.”

          That was precisely my point. They do not deal with quarks at all, and yet they should, as they form protons and neutrons which in turn form atoms which in turn form molecules. And yet there is no evolutionary theory about quarks. None. Zip. Zero. They are taken for granted and ignored. But allegedly natural selection is behind this formation of atoms and molecules. So why not some robust Neo-Darwinian theories of up and down quarks and how they factor into the fabric of natural selection? How does natural selection bring the quarks together? How does natural selection interact with the strong nuclear force of the nucleus? The weak force of the electron?

          Nagel has been basically defrocked for his cutting expose on Neo-Darwinian accounts of the mind and consciousness. But what do you say about the evolutionary development of the quark and how they ultimately came about to form our brains?

        • He gave me a very interesting reply after he thought about it for a few minutes. You know where he started? By ignoring the quarks in the protons and neutrons. “Biologists don’t deal with that stuff.”

          Duh. Biologists deal with biology. That’s physics.

          I could explain love to you at the quark level, but that would be pretty stupid. The human level is where that makes sense.

          But allegedly natural selection is behind this formation of atoms and molecules. So why not some robust Neo-Darwinian theories of up and down quarks and how they factor into the fabric of natural selection?

          Huh?

          Do you reject evolution?

          But what do you say about the evolutionary development of the quark and how they ultimately came about to form our brains?

          Nothing. This topic sounds like the null set to me.

        • Right. We are told that biology and physics are separate disciplines. And yes, formally so. But their subject matters overlap, as my friend quickly admitted.

          The atom. Something Darwin never knew existed. But instead of being integrated into evolution, the subatomic world is ignored and/or taken for granted. But what evolutionary advantages do quarks have? How does Darwinism explain quarks? It should.

          So what actually IS natural selection? Is it a force like the strong nuclear force or gravity? Is it some kind of chemical? Is it like the wind? Does it have any physical properties? Is it a kind of energy?

          My friend told me that the subatomic particles were “obeying” the “laws of physics” when they formed atoms.

          I said, “Obey? Obedience? Like they were citizens of some kingdom acting in accordance with the regulations laid down by their liege?”

          He could not extract himself from the use of language that specified obedience and intentionality. But that is mere linguistic artifice, is it not? Do we really mean to say “quarks” can “obey” “laws”? Do atoms really have some sort of cognition that makes them capable of obedience to a law? If that’s just metaphor, ok. But if that is really not what is happening, then let’s not use metaphors that make it sound like there is intention and purpose in natural selection. I told my friend that if someone could shed light on how natural selection interacts with the fundamental forces and structures in the atom uncovered by particle and quantum physicists, then we might be on to something.

          What is REALLY going on, sans the teleological implications/metaphors. What are cells really doing?

        • Halbe

          Your “very intelligent friend” has a lot of patience with you playing semantic games to avoid understanding what he is trying to say.

          Why on earth you would want to involve elementary particles in an explanation of biological evolution is beyond me, except if you just want to muddy the waters. Even the cell level is irrelevant; the right level is living organisms (which of course could be single-celled but that is irrelevant).

          Living organisms reproduce, and in the process their genetic information is copied to the next generation. This copy is not a 100% perfect copy. Some copy errors (mutations) are beneficial for survival and reproduction of the living organism. These beneficial mutations spread through the population. Over very long periods of time mutations accumulate so that new species come to exist. That’s biological evolution in a nutshell. No metaphors, no teleological implications, no mysterious “force” (except of course the underlying chemistry, and below that physics, but biological evolution can be fully understood without any knowledge of chemistry or physics).

          “Darwinism” does not and should not explain quarks or any other physical or chemical phenomena. If you think that you are just a very ignorant fool.

        • My friend is my friend. Our discussions are genuine and sincere and void of vitriolic assumptions about one another’s intelligence. We are open, candid and frank with one another about what we believe and why and remain friends. I can assure you of the sincerity of my intentions in my discussion with him. There was no avoiding what he was trying to say.

          And your description of evolution still does not explain at all what drives the mechanics behind processes you mention.

          Just telling me living organisms reproduce gets us no closer to the specific mechanics behind biological reproduction. There seems to be some kind of spooky sentience between the molecules and atoms and cells. How do they “know” what to do? We can get all the way down to quarks forming protons and neutrons and still not know at all how this stuff assembles itself together so cohesively. Is natural selection a mind? A force? A power? Pure energy? Does it have mass? Is there a natural selection particle?

          Darwin had no idea quarks existed. Had no idea about the “information” in DNA, the intricacies of cells, the razor’s edge balance of up and down quark charges, about protons, neutrons or electrons. All of this stuff undergirds biological life. So yes, Evolution ought to have some explanation for their role in the development of the species.

        • Halbe

          Sorry, but this dicussion is going nowhere, since you are not even wrong.

          ETA: If you really are interested in learning to ask the right questions you should read The Big Picture by Sean Carroll.

        • Three-fourths of the way through it. If I am “not even wrong” then I recommend not responding to me. No worries. 🙂

        • Halbe

          Really!? Then you must have encountered the term “emergence”. Carefully re-read chapter 12 and you will understand why many here are completely baffled by your not-even-wrong questions about “the connection between quarks and evolution”.

        • There should be a connection between quarks and evolution. Quarks form protons and neutrons which form atoms which form molecules which give rise to biological life, including human beings in all our wondrous consciousness. Evolution is very much dealing with things at the genetic level. So if we’re going that small, why stop at the molecules? What’s natural selection doing beyond that? Anyone know?

        • Halbe

          Yes, and the connection is emergence. Chemistry emerges from physics. Biology (life) emerges from chemistry. You have not understood The Big Picture at all if you keep asking these stupid questions.

        • Yes, it just “emerges”, sans any explanation beyond that. I understand that’s the claim. If my questions are stupid, Halbe, just ignore them, save yourself the time and sanity!

          Carroll’s metaphysic is to deny metaphysics as having any part to play in cosmology, namely God. But Carroll fails to realize (it would appear) that his claim is not a scientific one, but a metaphysical one.

          “Why is there something rather than nothing?” Sean Carroll’s answer?

          “Well, why not?” He thinks it is “a good answer,” for he believes that “There is no reason why the universe couldn’t have had a first moment in time, nor is there any reason it couldn’t have lasted forever, even without the benefit of any external causal or sustaining influences.” “What is the best explanation for the existence of the universe?” Carroll asks. “We don’t know.”

        • Bob Jase

          And you feel an undescribable divine invisible giant magician in the sky is a good explanation?

        • I don’t “feel” that way. But it surely seems reasonable to posit the universe and what it’s made of look like a “put-up job” as Fred Hoyle famously quipped.

          Astronomer Fred Hoyle conducted research on the ways in which the nuclear furnaces of stars makes carbon from the fusion of hydrogen and helium. The idea the carbon in our bodies came from long-dead suns is a widely-accepted theory nowadays. Hoyle looked into what is known as the triple-alpha process, and as he discovered, it needed to be extraordinarily precise. He made predictions regarding the specific energy level that would be required in order for carbon to be produced. His predictions were later borne out in experiments, results that rather amazed Hoyle himself. He noted, ‘Would you not say to yourself, ‘Some super-calculating intellect must have designed the properties of the carbon atom, otherwise the chance of my finding such an atom through the blind forces of nature would be utterly minuscule. A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question.’”

        • Halbe

          Exactly. We don’t know. I don’t know, Carroll doesn’t know, and you don’t know either. The only difference is that you think you know, whereas really you don’t.

        • Right, you have a kind of omniscience about what we all know and apparently according to you, we are all agnostics! That I understand. But I have not claimed to know everything about the universe, just what the popular theories say and what the Bible says.

        • Halbe

          So, you retreat? The Genesis creation story is just a story, equally plausible as any other creation myth invented by humans? You accept the theory of evolution as the best explanation for the diversity of life in earth? That’s a big shift, congratulations!

        • Glad2BGodless

          Dude. Read a book about Mendel.

        • Thanks for the recommend.

        • It’s common and somewhat understandable to see Creationists try to shove abiogenesis into evolution. But quarks?? That’s a new one.

        • Halbe

          I am also baffled by this one. Is it stupidity or is he trying to muddy the waters? Or: both? Yeah, probably both.

          Advantage is that I finally got to use the expression ‘not even wrong’, very applicable here imo 🙂

        • Glad2BGodless

          Usually it’s the New Age types who are all in love with woo.

        • You avoided my question: do you reject evolution?

          So what actually IS natural selection?

          Why is this mysterious? If you have two individuals from the same species and one is better adapted to survive and reproduce, that one’s genes are likelier to be passed on to the next generation. There’s nothing mysterious here; it’s just common sense.

        • Not avoided, missed. Sorry.

          Yes, I reject the neo-Darwinian claims about human development and biological life in general. But I do affirm that the environment impacts species of living organisms and vice versa. I reject the idea, however, that new species arise from non-random genetic mutations, though. Darwin knew nothing about the cell or the atom.

          Surviving is an imposition of anthropomorphic teleology, of which “nature” has none. She’s red in tooth and claw. You might just as easily say “death” is what natural selection is all about, since there seems to be more of that in the biological world that life itself. Perhaps species are genetically being outfitted for the grave.

          But what you say Bob does not address the issue I discussed with my friend. Just take the genetics of it all, something Darwin knew nothing about.

          Is DNA sentient? How does it “do” stuff? How do certain cells know what to become? Where did this “information” originate in a purely naturalistic, God-free primordial earth? Did quarks import it from a supernova? Was it coded in protons or neutrons? Is it somewhere in the electron cloud? Did lightning strike a flint rock filled covered in algae? Was it in the carbon or the hydrogen or the oxygen? How do cells know to become eyes or toes or fingers? What exactly is natural selection? Strip away the metaphors and let’s get down to brass tacks. Where is natural selection and how can I see it? Is it even visible?

          See what I mean (I hope)?

        • Yes, I reject the neo-Darwinian claims about human development and biological life in general.

          You mean the evolutionary claims? You sound a bit silly using Creationist terms. I encourage you to talk like an adult.

          Darwin knew nothing about the cell or the atom.

          No one cares about what Darwin thought—no one, that is, except historians of science and Creationists. Biologists never consult his writings to make sure that they’re avoiding heresy.

          She’s red in tooth and claw.

          What’s this supposed to mean? Sometimes the fiercer predator has the advantage, but we’re social animals. Evolution has given us an appreciation of trust, honesty, and other “good” moral characteristics.

          Is DNA sentient? How does it “do” stuff?

          No, DNA isn’t sentient. Read an introduction to evolution, if you honestly have questions about it.

          Did quarks import it from a supernova?

          Holy shit—is this a real question? Is this you talking, or did you get this quark anxiety from somewhere else?

          Did lightning strike a flint rock filled covered in algae?

          ?? Are you asking about abiogenesis? There are questions there, but let’s first agree that abiogenesis isn’t evolution.

          See what I mean (I hope)?

          I’m pretty sure I don’t.

        • No need to reply then, Bob, if you don’t understand my questions! No sweat.

          So where does the “information” in DNA come from? What do you think?

        • Mutations and copying errors? Don’t you know about how evolution works?

        • Doubting Thomas

          How does salt know to taste salty? How does the sodium ion know to get a positive charge and the chloride ion know to get a negative charge when dissolved?

          You are ignorant of the basics of science and so you try to anthropomorphize nature. It’s common among the religious.

        • I am not anthropomorphizing nature, naturalists are when they attempt to describe natural selection! The journals and articles and abstracts are filled with teleological metaphors. I am the one trying to strip all that away and have someone explain what is really going on, without metaphors.

        • Doubting Thomas

          Please point me to the journal article you read about biologic evolution that had a metaphor about subatomic particles in it.

        • Anthropic, teleological metaphors is what I meant. Here’s a good article, though, on the topic of physics and biology and the challenges of integrating a conceptual understanding that includes both. A truly robust theory of biological life should include physics.

          http://nautil.us/issue/35/boundaries/why-physics-is-not-a-discipline

        • BlackMamba44

          I am the one trying to strip all that away and have someone explain what is really going on, without metaphors.

          And you came to an atheist website to do that? Go talk to the people that wrote the articles and abstracts and have them explain it.

        • MadScientist1023

          “I am the one trying to strip all that away and have someone explain what is really going on, without metaphors.”

          Bull.

          You aren’t trying to get someone to explain to you what’s really going on because you don’t understand. I know, because I explained the process to you at length about 3 weeks ago. You either you learned nothing during that exchange, or you’re just trolling. Quit pretending you actually care about the answers to these questions.

        • Not a pretense. Rather than just say “natural selection is responsible for this or that” explain the force mechanics behind it. Is non-sentient matter and energy actually obeying something, as we would understand obedience? What’s the actual source of all this molecular motion? To the question of what makes my car run, I can say “the engine”, but there are more details under the hood. That’s what I am asking.

        • Joe

          o what actually IS natural selection? Is it a force like the strong nuclear force or gravity? Is it some kind of chemical?

          No, but gravity and chemicals can be examples of natural selection. For example gravity selects the size of animals that can exist on land.

          Is it like the wind?

          Likewise, the wind is capable of selection.

          Does it have any physical properties?

          It is purely physical properties.

          Natural selection is a name for all the environmental effects that can affect a species ability to survive.

        • Ok, Joe, thanks for this reply. It clarifies a few things. Let’s take “environmental effects” and how you think they guide and direct atoms in forming complex molecular structures of living species. What visible physical properties are guiding and directing this process specifically?

        • Joe

          What visible physical properties are guiding and directing this process specifically?

          Do you mean visible to the naked eye?

          “environmental effects” and how you think they guide and direct atoms in forming complex molecular structures of living species.

          Well, the only environmental effect to influence individual atoms would be what atoms were surrounding each other, and temperature. The right amount of heat energy, and two reactive atoms, and you have a molecule. It’s really simple, yet you’re asking questions as if this wasn’t known to you.

        • No, I get all that and I am not being cheeky or snide or trolling here. But the level of sophistication, intricacy and well, for lack of a better phrase “obedience” of biological matter all the way down to the subatomic level seems to me to be an almost magical self-replicating elixir of some kind. Sheer brute forces of nature hardly seem sufficient an explanation as to how the atoms and molecules come together to form eyes and proteins and blue whales and camels and coffee beans. That is rather spectacular stuff that for my two cents goes way beyond mere wind, temperature and pressure.

        • Joe

          evel of sophistication, intricacy and well, for lack of a better phrase “obedience” of biological matter all the way down to the subatomic level seems to me to be an almost magical self-replicating elixir of some kind.

          There is no biological matter at the atomic level, let alone the subatomic level.

          Sheer brute forces of nature hardly seem sufficient an explanation as to how the atoms and molecules come together to form eyes and proteins and blue whales and camels and coffee beans.

          That’s your own personal incredulity talking. Have you looked into how these things came to be?

        • Sure have.

          Atoms are the building blocks of molecules and molecules are rather essential to biological life. Why then is there no Evolutionary theory about how these interact and form via natural selection?

          In the gradual development of human consciousness and cognition, for example. How did that come about from lifeless matter? Might the subatomic realm have some hand in our consciousness or not?

        • Doubting Thomas

          Because molecules don’t form via natural selection. Again, the problem is with your understanding and not the thing you don’t understand.

        • Molecules don’t form via natural selection? How do they form? They’re just “there” all the time? They have no evolutionary role? If DNA is made up of nucleotide molecules, and the DNA is where the action is, evolutionarily speaking, then how can you say emphatically that natural selection is not involved in molecular development?

        • Doubting Thomas

          Go take a course on evolution, or meteorology, or, hell, even auto repair and see if you can figure out why, even though everything they talk about is made of subatomic particles, they never mention quarks.

          I have tried to make you sound less dumb, but you have the discussion killing combination of high ignorance and high confidence that religious people so often display. I know when to give up.

        • If natural selection “selects” certain traits for an organism’s survival, then why does not that selection process begin at the subatomic levels? And if it does, how does it work with the fundamental forces uncovered by physics? For everything attributed to Natural Selection, it ought to be a fifth fundamental force.

        • Venavis

          Because molecules don’t breed, dumbass.

        • Ok. Others today have told me that natural selection does not work at the subatomic realm either, and yet it does work with DNA. So Thomas, according to you, where is the line between the subatomic and the genome where evolution is said to start working?

        • Joe

          No, the subatomic realm has no influence on our consciousness. Just as it has no effect on who will win the Superbowl.

        • I see. So you just write off the subatomic realm has functionally having no bearing in reality then? Is that what you’re saying? Where is the Maginot Line between consciousness and the subatomic realm, Joe? If you’ve got one, you need to publish!

        • Damien Priestly

          Quantum mechanical quarks are not biological, and are governed by “quark confinement”…such that quarks cannot be directly isolated..so therefore they will never be part of natural selection theories or other biological and most physical phenomenon…where they are not needed to describe nature.

          This is the same principal as today’s SpaceX rocket launch…Newtonian physics was used…but quarks, gluons, protons and neutrons, etc. were not dealt with at all, just as your biologist friend indicated. They were not necessary to consider for a successful rocket launch. This is all basic layered science.

        • Thanks Damien. I understand that and I understand my friend’s objection. Evolutionary theory assumes the subatomic world, that I grant. But it has no theory as to how the subatomic realm contributes to the development of species.

          To say that “physics” is separate from “biology” is true from the standpoint of formal scientific disciplines, but in truth, as my friend noted, the physics is bound up with the biology. His words, “atoms obey laws.”

          I stopped him there and said, “See? That’s what I mean. You say this stuff “obeys laws”. Is that a metaphor or is that what is REALLY going on? It’s verbal obfuscation. How is an atom capable of obedience to a law? Equations don’t make atoms form molecules, they describe how it happens, but sevens don’t power cell division. What does?

          Natural selection.

          Ok, but what is natural selection. Peel back the terminology and explain what is actually transpiring. Do atoms have the ability to communicate with one another? What is fundamentally going on? Is natural selection a force? My friend said he thought it might be considered a “biological force” but failed to define the mechanics of it precisely. I don’t fault my friend for that, it’s the theory itself. My friend knows his evolution backwards and forwards, it’s why I love talking to him.

          I was trying to get him to set aside the teleological-laden metaphors and describe what is really going on. It was my point to him that Darwin had no idea about the subatomic realm. And it seems today that such entities pose a difficulty for the theory and so they are ignored and/or just assumed.

        • Halbe

          See my comment above. Natural selection = copy errors of genetic information during reproduction that are advantageous for reproduction spreading through a population of living organisms, eventually leading to speciation. That’s it.

          Please be specific on how “the subatomic realm poses a difficulty for the theory”. I cannot imagine what these difficulties would be.

        • Darwin knew nothing about the subatomic realm. But It is as we know today, the very foundation for biological life. If the strong nuclear force were any stronger or weaker, we don’t have atoms. No atoms, no biology. Modern evolutionary theory, however, as my friend said, completely ignores quarks, etc. just like you can ignore gravity and make accurate predictions using quantum mechanics. But people are trying to reconcile gravity with quantum theory.

          But in the biological sciences, no one seems to be making a concerted effort to explain the evolutionary development of the atom itself as it pertains to natural selection (whatever that actually is). The physics behind evolutionary biology is assumed but rarely if ever explained in a way that coheres with Darwin’s (modified) theory.

        • Halbe

          “the evolutionary development of the atom itself as it pertains to natural selection” is a completely nonsensical string of words, void of any meaning.

          “natural selection (whatever that actually is)” I explained this twice to you. You obviously don’t want to understand.

          My conclusion: you’re just JAQing-off. Goodbye.

        • Doubting Thomas

          We can understand the process of erosion or rain even if we don’t know the subatomic makeup of water. While quarks are involved with evolution, their understanding is not required for evolution to be true.

        • Thomas, agreed.

          But it would be a good thing, I think, and more convincing, if Evolution as a theory had a cogent explanation for the evolutionary development of quarks as they pertain to atoms and molecules of biological life, especially since we are theoretically talking about the arrival of sentience into the biological picture.

          How did that “gradually” happen and did the subatomic realm have anything to do with that?

        • Doubting Thomas

          Why would that be necessary? Why would you even ask that question?

          What if I explained the annual salmon migration to you and you asked: “How do the quarks know where to migrate? How does migration interact with the strong nuclear force of the nucleus?”

          The only things I could conclude from those questions is that your understanding of migration is ridiculous or that you’re simply asking dumb questions in an attempt to derail the conversation.

        • Not at all. If there is no supernatural sentience behind everything from salmon migration to stars to spinning subatomic particles, then it all happens by chance, by some mysterious combination of forces, matter and energy, all of which combine to give the appearance that they “know” just what to do in order to become a star or a salmon or an atom of silicon. And I wish to know simply how natural selection works at the subatomic level. What is wrong with that question?

        • Doubting Thomas

          And I wish to know simply how natural selection works at the subatomic level. What is wrong with that question?

          What’s wrong with that question is that NATURAL SELECTION DOESN’T WORK AT THE SUBATOMIC LEVEL. That’s what’s wrong with it.

        • Ah yes, according to you Thomas.

        • Susan

          If there is no supernatural sentience behind everything from salmon migration to stars to spinning subatomic particles, then it all happens by chance,

          Oh noez!

          Define “chance”.

          some mysterious combination of forces, matter and energy

          They are less and less mysterious. There are solid models that explain things that humans used to attribute to deities. But those explanations (a deity did it!) don’t fare very well. They fall off one by one as we learn more through reliable methodologies about reality.

          Gods don’t cause thunder. Demons don’t cause disease. The earth wasn’t formed by a guy who planted a tree. It’s not all about humans.

          to give the appearance that they “know”

          No. It’s provisional and subject to correction. That is, they can “show”, which is better than you can do.

          The best you can do is not bother to learn anything about any of it, to demand answers you’re not interested in, and then to pretend that Yahwehjesus is the correct answer without showing how that could be the case.

          You are the guy at the murder scene claiming that ghosts did it, without showing they exist or how or why they could have done it, and claiming victory.

          I wish to know simply how natural selection works at the subatomic level. What is wrong with that question?

          You haven’t shown that you are interested in either subject or have any knowledge of either subject, and you only want to pretend that if laymen on a website dedicated to asking christians to support their claims can’t answer your question, then you get to stand on a soapbox and proclaim things about your imaginary deity.

          That is what’s wrong with that question.

          If you have a case for Yahwehjesus, make it.

          You’ve been here long enough.

          What are you claiming and how do you support it?

        • I am interested and I am here and I made claims above in my first post in this thread, responding to the comments about the universe. I believe the heavens declare the glory of God, that both the physical world and the Bible reveal who the God of the universe is and what He is like.

          Would you like to discuss the cosmological argument? Just for discussion sake, since you asked, I thought it would be a decent place to start, given how I jumped into the conversation. Here are my claims.

          1. Everything that exists, from apples to orangutans, snakes to supernovae, tequila to tomahawks, has an explanation of its existence.

          2. If the heavens have an explanation for their existence, that explanation must be God.

          3. The heavens do in fact exist.

          We can begin by affirming premise three, correct? I would assume you would take exception with premises 1 or 2 or both?

        • Bob Jase

          Are you vaguely aware that the universe as we understand it today has nothing to do with the biblical idea of the heavens? The biblical Judeo-Christian heavens do not exist.

          Explain god since everything has an explanation.

        • Ho, ho! On the contrary, Mr. Jase. The universe as we understand it today does not at all conflict with what Scripture reveals. What is in conflict is our finite creaturely intellects and the omniscience and omnipotence of Christ.

          As God asks Job, “Do you understand the ordinances of the heavens?”

          Dark energy 68% of the universe.

          Dark matter 27%.

          Everything we see? 5%

          I have briefly explained a few times elsewhere how I see Jesus related to the cosmos.

        • Bob Jase

          take a look,

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

          you are, as usual wrong, iognorant and full of shit.

        • no one seems to be making a concerted effort to explain the evolutionary development of the atom itself as it pertains to natural selection

          Huh?? There are scholarly postmodern articles that make more sense than you do.

        • Glad2BGodless

          I’d like to meet this alleged PhD he claims to be buddies with. How hard up is he for friends, that he’s willing to indulge all this quantum woo.

        • Did the atoms in biological life gradually develop or did they just pop into existence at some point? And what role do atoms play in natural selection? Any? None? How does anyone know?

        • No idea what you’re talking about.

          No interest in finding out.

        • Joe

          But It is as we know today, the very foundation for biological life.

          No it isn’t. At the very least you could say simple sugars are the foundation of biological life, but most people would consider proteins to be the building blocks. All of which are many times larger and more complex than subatomic particles.

          You seem to be lacking knowledge in this area, so I don’t think continuing on is the right thing to do until you are on the same page as the rest of us.

        • What are simple sugars made of? Molecules made up of atoms C6H12O2 – same formula for glucose and fructose. Six carbon atoms, twelve hydrogen atoms and two oxygen atoms.

          Atoms! Physics! Biology! It all goes together! 🙂

        • Joe

          Yes, but is an atom a sugar?

          Take one atom from your body. What is different, physically?

        • Atoms make molecules and molecules make sugar, no? C6, H12, O2. Twenty atoms make up a molecule of glucose, if I am not mistaken.

          What type of atom am I extracting from myself in this experiment?

        • Joe

          A carbon atom.

          What’s physically different about you?

        • What’s different about me from a carbon atom? Quite a bit I would say.

        • Joe

          No, what different after you remove a single carbon atom?

        • Oh, I get ‘cha. I would say I am physically different, minus one carbon atom. I am typing right now and my worn-out keys probably have some carbon atoms on them. Physically, I will not be the exact same person I was when I began typing this comment, yet my personhood remains in tact and is the same.

        • James A. North

          C6H12O6

        • Damien Priestly

          Don’t know where you going with this…there was no need for Darwin to understand subatomic particles for his work on natural selection. Just like Newton, Kepler, Galileo, etc. did not need to consider subatomic particles for theory of gravitational mechanics and planetary motion.

          Einstein did not need subatomic particles for General Relativity either…so what is your point?

        • Granted. We totally agree. And I totally understand this and is more or less what my friend said and I agree with him and with you completely.

          What I am eager to know is why is there not some sort of explanation for the development and subsequent roles of atomic and subatomic particles in natural selection theory. If we are talking about say, the development of the eye, then certainly atoms and all their parts that work together to form molecules have everything to do with the process.

          Basically, I would like to know how “natural selection” works at the subatomic level. Does it or doesn’t it? Whaddayathink?

        • Damien Priestly

          Who said natural selection works at the subatomic level? Particle interactions are probabilistic. Natural selection drives evolution. Quantum mechanics drives the the interaction of subatomic particles….The Schrodinger equation describes the behavior of a probability distribution of subatomic particles and more importantly Paul Dirac’s equations describe these particles as they move closer to the speed of light, like the photons we see…anyhow, all of this has nothing to do with natural selection!

          Again, biology is several layers up in the scientific system. Particle physics drives atomic physics which drives chemistry which drives biology which adjusts to its environment via natural selection. I plead guilty to going on a tangent…We are way off base here, on a blog analyzing WLC and morality??

        • HI Damien.

          If evolution does not operate at the subatomic realm, ok. But it does begin operating at the genetic level at some point, correct? DNA. In your understanding, where is the line between the subatomic realm and the genome where evolution actually begins?

          I think the tangent began with my comments to Michael about the Andromeda galaxy. I accept partial blame.

        • Damien Priestly

          > “…where is the line between the subatomic realm and the genome where evolution actually begins…”

          DNA is organic chemicals made up of molecules which are made
          of atoms, which are made up of combinations of subatomic particles….there is no realm line! We don’t need to consider
          subatomic particles when discussing DNA, genomes, and evolution !! The mutations to DNA that affect evolution are chemical and relatively simple.

          Also note that DNA, as programming is not really very complicated compared to modern computer science and don’t get carried away with the “magic” of DNA and the genome…non-living chemical process can actually be even more complicated. What is complicated is the steps that go from DNA to RNA to protein creation of cell-types in biology that make living components of even more complicated living beings…but we are learning more all the time, especially in the stem-cell arena.

          Here is the big thing…in my lifetime I expect that we will be able to create life…e.g. Take non-living chemicals…process them in a laboratory and watch living things with real DNA come out, then “evolve” them further by introducing gene editing and mutations. Then all these questions we are discussing about life become moot…we become just as good as God !!

        • Thanks for your thoughts Damien! Very interesting stuff. Especially this last thing you say with double-exclamation points!!

          Why do atheists wish to become as good as a being they don’t believe exists? (I am assuming you are an atheist, of course)…

        • Joe

          You say this stuff “obeys laws”. Is that a metaphor or is that what is REALLY going on?

          Yes it’s a metaphor. “Obeys laws” is just another way of saying “appears to behave consistently whenever observed”.

          How is an atom capable of obedience to a law?

          How is it capable of disobeying a law?

          Why are you talking about atoms and natural selection?

        • Because they go together!

          And yet evolution just sort of side-steps trying to explain them on an evolutionary scale. Atoms are wonderfully complex little thing-a-ma-bobs. Almost as if they are sentient machines knowing exactly what to do.

          And yet they’re not. They’re just matter and energy and mostly empty space. How do they “know” how to do anything? If “obedience” is just a metaphor, then what is really going on? No one seems to be able to answer that.

          Darwin didn’t know about them, but since their discovery, they should be included in the theory of evolution since they are part of what makes up biological life.

        • Joe

          How does a bolder know how to roll down a hill?

          How does the Bible explain atoms?

        • Where did I say the Bible explains atoms? I am specifically focused on the idea that contemporary evolutionary biology ought to have some theoretical explanation for the evolutionary development of atoms and molecules and how natural selection works at the subatomic level. Why not?

        • Joe

          Why doesn’t the Bible explain how Atoms figure in Genesis?

          The same answer applies to both. If you answered honestly, you might come to a revelation.

        • Joe, the question on the table is not why X, Y or Z doesn’t explain or discuss atomic theory, but why doesn’t Evolution offer an explanation of how natural selection works at the subatomic level? Does it or doesn’t it?

        • Joe

          Why doesn’t gravity work at a subatomic level?

        • That’s a question that will certainly lead someone to a Nobel Prize and perhaps the heart of the quest of modern theoretical physics, that and a theory of everything.

          Maybe it does work beyond what we can measure. Gravitational waves were so small Einstein didn’t believe they could be detected. Maybe in a hundred years, we will be able to develop tools to detect gravity at the subatomic level. Right now, there are several particles that seem “useless” and have no “apparent” function at the moment. Perhaps these are clues to an integrated theory of some sort, breadcrumbs out of the quantum maze.

        • Venavis

          Why don’t cars breed by parthenogenesis? How many angels can dance on the head of a pin? How many souls can you purchase with $3.50? How much does love weigh? Why doesn’t Jupiter return Pluto’s phone calls? How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

        • Bob Jase

          You know he’s dying to say evolution is quantum even though he’s got no idea what he’d mean.

        • It’s like Daniel has stumbled across the Random Deepak Chopra Quote Generator.

          http://wisdomofchopra.com/

        • Venavis

          It’s been a long time since I’ve seen someone that determined to be wrong.
          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/6c90b2864ce05ce7a5b67aad3083be3948a700c0285154af4285af7335de25a0.jpg

        • MR

          Stick around, V, we got ’em comin’ out our ears.

        • If natural selection is doing its “selecting” at the genetic level, then it is reasonable to ask how natural selection operates at the level of the very small.

        • Venavis

          The fact that you think that proves you have no idea what natural selection, genes, or atoms actually are.

        • Ignorant Amos
        • Now that Daniel Ray is gone, I wonder what his point was. It sounded like some sort of Socratic dialogue, with him poised to spring a humiliating logical trap at the end of a long line of tedious questions about the natural selection of quarks.

          I guess we’ll never know. But I think I can live with that.

        • MR

          I feel like they learn some new trick in apologetics school that they’ve been told is a foolproof argument to use against atheists. Then when they try it in real life, they discover it’s not so great after all. “Damn. Back to the drawing board.” Trickery, my dear apologists, is a tool of the devil.

        • Susan

          is a tool of the devil

          Unless you use it for Jesus.

        • Doubting Thomas

          Biologic evolution is as relevant to subatomic particles as the germ theory of disease is to general relativity.

          I suggest you find whomever explained evolution to you and kick them in the nuts.

        • Subatomic particles make up atoms. Atoms make up molecules and molecules make up biological life. Why wouldn’t natural selection be operating at the subatomic levels, Thomas?

        • Doubting Thomas

          Because selection does not occur at a subatomic basis. No animal was ever eaten because its quarks were worse than another animals quarks.

        • Well, Thomas, did not the quarks inhabit atoms that made up molecules that ultimately gave the white-tailed deer a hunting target for a rump? Was it not the quarks inside the atoms of krill that contribute to their swimming in tight schools, enabling blue whales to have an easier time getting lunch ready? And then there are the quarks inside the protons and neutrons of the atoms of eucalyptus leaves that get eaten by Koalas and Giraffes, or the quarks inside the atoms of hay that get eaten by our cows. Why wouldn’t quarks have something to do with it all?

        • Doubting Thomas

          Do you think salmon swim up river to spawn? Well, salmon are made of atoms which are made of subatomic particles, so, explain how a quark knows which way is upstream? Tell me why a gluon wants to reproduce? Explain to me what impetus a boson has to not be eaten by a bear?

        • Exactly. What gives the fish its sentience? The quarks? The atoms? The gluons? What role do the bosons in bears play in their delight catching and devouring live sushi?

        • ?? Why would it operate at the subatomic level??

          Read up on evolution so we can have a common vocabulary. I don’t even understand the point of your questions. Are they supposed to be rhetorical to show how empty our naturalistic arguments are? Or are you truly uninformed about evolution?

        • Ok, so you do not believe evolution operates at the subatomic level. Super. But it does, apparently work on DNA, causing mutations and such. So where then is the line then between the subatomic realm where natural selection/evolution does not operate and where it begins to operate on the genome? Explain that and you’ll have my rapt attention.

        • No idea. No interest in finding out.

          I am, however, curious about a question you haven’t answered yet. What prompts these questions? Are you curious about evolution? It doesn’t sound like it. And if you were, you’d do far better reading Wikipedia or a textbook on evolution.

          I think instead that these questions aren’t what they seem to be and they’re supposed to have some sort of rhetorical point. As I’ve told you before, I’m allergic to this kind of game playing. If you have a point, just come out and say it.

        • eric

          But it has no theory as to how the subatomic realm contributes to the development of species.

          I’m not sure exactly what you mean here, but keep in mind that different protons are chemically and biologically indistinguishable. There’s no chemical property difference between proton A and proton B. The same is true for neutrons, for electrons, even for atoms as long as you’re talking about two atoms with the same M and Z (two C-12 atoms, for instance). So a benzene ring in your body taking in a “new” carbon atom and getting rid of an “old” carbon atom causes no change to your development, and therefore no effect on the evolution of your species.

          Do atoms have the ability to communicate with one another? What is fundamentally going on?

          Interactions of charge, mass, parity, and meson exchange is what’s fundamentally going on. I hope you’re not doing a “magnets, how the **** do they work” routine here…are you? You understand that objects with charge can interact with one another physically without any sort of intellectual communication, right? Well, that’s what atoms do. That’s what protons and electrons do. They have properties like charge. When they get close to one another, they interact via those properties. No sentience necessary. That’s also why bare neutrons tend to go right through things without interacting with them – they have no charge, so they don’t interact with other particles via the electromagnetic force.

        • Thank you Eric, for your thoughtful, and courteous, reply. Thank you so very much.

          I do understand the “charges” between protons and electrons (and quarks, both up and down and the triad of quarks it takes to make protons and neutrons).

          But the language of “interacting” with “no sentience necessary” is baffling. The sheer variety and interaction of atoms and the various and sundry ways they can coalesce is mind-bogglingly wondrous. But that this is all allegedly done via “charges” and “interactions” that are completely unguided by any intelligence whatsoever is really strange.

          It all seems as though it were designed. I know, design is a bad word in these here parts, but if a human being made something like the atom, he’d get a Nobel Prize and probably a few dollars in his account to boot.

          But just the discovery of such wonderful things wins Nobel Prizes. What about the things themselves?

          My questions today have been along the lines of where natural selection begins to do its work. Where is the line of demarcation in the cell-molecule-atom-quark hierarchy from natural selection begins to wield its functionality?

          Thanks again, Eric, for your kind reply.

          DR

        • Pofarmer

          But allegedly natural selection is behind this formation of atoms and molecules.

          No, it’s not. Dumbass.

          Evolution is about things that are alive.

          How does natural selection interact with the strong nuclear force of the nucleus? The weak force of the electron?

          I’ve actually asked physicist Sean Carroll wort of a related question personally. His answer is that those forces are many orders of magnitude to small for what we are looking at.

          But what do you say about the evolutionary development of the quark and how they ultimately came about to form our brains?

          Category error, plus red herring, plus who knows what other stupidity.

        • Ah yes, alive. And without atoms, we have no life, right? Isn’t that the materialist conception of life?

        • Pofarmer

          Without matter, there’s pretty much, well, nothing ……………….

        • Right O!

        • eric

          And yet there is no evolutionary theory about quarks. None. Zip. Zero. They are taken for granted and ignored.

          Well, that depends on whether you’re using the word “evolutionary” here to refer to Darwin’s theory of descent with modification, or if you’re using the word just to mean “explanatory”. If you mean ‘explanatory, I can’t imagine there’s no physicist working on it. It’s certainly the case that for protons and neutrons, physicsts have fairly well-developed theories about the conditions under which they first formed, as well as the conditions that could be around today that would cause them to break apart, form, or reform. So there is an explanatory theory about protons and neutrons. Is that what you mean by an evolutionary theory of protons etc – an explanation for how they came about?

          But if you’re asking whether anyone is working on the question of what proto-thing underwent natural selection and descent with modification to produce a quark or proton, the answer to that is no. Because subatomic particles don’t descend with modification in the Darwinian sense. That process doesn’t apply to them. Protons don’t have babies, ergo they don’t have babies that differ from them, ergo they can’t descend with modification. Moreover one proton or neutron’s actions don’t prevent another proton from having babies, so they don’t undergo natural selection.

        • Eric

          Thank you again for your kind reply and candidness here. You understand what I have been getting at and were kind in how you’ve responded.

          You said here really what is at the heart of my curiosity.

          But if you’re asking whether anyone is working on the question of what proto-thing underwent natural selection and descent with modification to produce a quark or proton, the answer to that is no. Because subatomic particles don’t descend with modification in the Darwinian sense. That process doesn’t apply to them.

          So my question for you is where precisely in the cell-molecule-atom-quark continuum do you believe/think/know “natural selection” begins? It is said to work on the DNA, producing mutations in a “non-random” fashion, so I assume that evolution/natural selection must be at work at the very least on the molecular level. But how can one separate with such precision where evolution does and does not function, especially when it comes to atoms and molecules?

          Help! 🙂

          Thank you Eric. You’ve been a good sport and kind in your replies and I appreciate that. I do. This is what I like talking about with my biologist friend. We have good talks, though we disagree. He just kind of blows off the idea of design whereas that’s all I can see at the molecular, atomic and subatomic realm.

          And while we’re on it and if you can, what do you personally think about the evolutionary development of the “information” in DNA? Is that merely electric currents? Forces? A combination and interaction of the four fundamental forces? Charges? What do you say?

        • Michael Neville

          I’ve noticed that philosophers are often very ignorant when they discuss science, particularly biology. Nagel makes a claim that I’ve never seen any biologists make. Alvin Plantinga tried to refute material naturalism with a strawman version of evolution (and misuse of statistics). Richard Rorty, who like many post-modernists disliked science in general, promoted intelligent design over evolution. David Stove argued against sociobiology (something few biologists accept) but his arguments showed a general evolutionary illiteracy.

        • So Michael because you’ve never seen what Nagel claims to know, therefore Nagel must be wrong?

          Would you, for discussion’s sake, be willing to lay out Plantinga’s straw man version of evolution instead of just claiming it is?

        • Michael Neville

          I didn’t say Nagel was wrong, it’s just that I think his opinion, and that’s all that the quote you gave was, is silly. I’m sure he thought it was deep and meaningful (you know how those philosophers can get overwrought about their own musings) but I thought it was silly.

          PZ Myers, a PhD biologist and associate professor of biology at the University of Minnesota, gave a rebuttal to Plantinga’s arguments against natualism [LINK]

        • Well, sure, you can think it is silly, but it doesn’t say anything against what Nagel is actually talking about.

          I don’t want Myers refutation, but yours. Show me you understand Plantinga. If I wanted to know what Myers thought, I would have read him! But I am talking to you, Michael, not PZ! Have at it. 🙂

        • Michael Neville

          Why should I say anything about a silly man’s silly opinion other than I think it’s silly? Sorry to disappoint you but I’m not going to respond to you about Nagel’s silliness any more. I have more useful things to do like grooming my nose hair.

          When a professional biologist rebuts Plantinga then why should I, an accountant and amateur astronomer, add anything more? I can tell you that Plantinga misuses statistics because I am qualified to talk about statistics. If you hear a rustling in the weeds the chances are not 50% that there’s a tiger there. Tigers are not indigenous to North America and the few tigers in zoos do not escape at frequent intervals. So the probability that a tiger is hiding in the weeds is so infinitesimally small as to be incalculable. Even in the African savannah of a hundred thousand years ago the chances of being stalked by a tiger were incredibly tiny because tigers didn’t live in sub-Saharan Africa. Being stalked by a lion was more probable but even then the chances a random rustling in the weeds was a lion were not high because of predator/prey ratios.

        • I cannot unsee that.

        • No worries Michael. Maybe you just need a brand new bag. 🙂

        • Michael Neville

          WTF? I mean that seriously, what the fuck does an old R&B song have to do with Nagel’s whining about maybe there is a god?

        • You said your bag was empty and I like James Brown. Your comment reminded me of the song <Papa's Got a Brand New Bag. A little R&B to lighten the mood a bit.

        • Michael Neville

          Okay, that makes sense.

        • Cool beans.

      • Jim Jones

        Define ‘god’.

        • Bob Jase

          The one and only omnipotent, omniscient, selectively omnibenevolent (its a mystery) being beyond any human comprehension who thinks just like me?

        • Jim Jones

          Purt nigh. Or:

          “God is the ego projection of the self styled believer in the supposed being — with added super powers”.

          It’s impossible to attribute any effect from such a ‘god’ outside of its effect on the self described follower so it is irrelevant to everyone else.

      • Joe

        It was created by Him and for Him.

        So we managed to crash the party?

        It is huge, deadly, awe-inspiring, magnificent and not a little terrifying when you really think about it.

        It’s almost entirely empty, which I find a better metaphor.

        • We were invited to the party, created to be a part of it! Is the universe really empty or does it only seem that way because we are small? 🙂

        • Joe

          It’s really empty.

        • Or we’re just not big enough to fill it out, like a kindergartener putting on dad’s shoes. Lots of room for little toes, but how delighted the child is to be walking in them!

          That’s us. We are little toes in Dad’s enormous celestial foot ware.

        • Joe

          We could never possibly be big enough. You really don’t have any idea what you’re talking about, do you?

        • Ah, ad hominem me to death, why don’t you? If you are in the DFW area in March, I would formally like to invite you to this.

          https://swbts.edu/events/astrophysics-and-fantasy-hubble-meets-narnia/

          Been coordinating it for a year and a half. You can come and see how much I don’t know! We will have a live Q & A followed by cookies and coffee. An Oxford scholar and a Hubble astrophysicist. One was my master’s thesis advisor, another is a professional acquaintance I met through my master’s research. Both agreed to do this back in 2016.

          If you come, let me know, and I’ll be sure to shake your hand and offer you a cookie and some “joe” and you can meet our guest speakers.

        • Joe

          It’s not an ad-hominem.

          Throughout my conversations it is apparent you don’t have a basic understanding of the things you attempt to critique. I have tried patiently to explain, but my explanations (which are not in fact my own, but are basically common knowledge) are met with either incredulity or more questions.

          Unfortunately, I’m Australian and can’t attend your event, thanks for the invite.

        • No problem Joe.

          What basic stuff am I missing, according to you then?

        • Joe

          The basic definition of Evolution.
          What Evolution deals with, and what it does not.
          The relationship between macro and sub-atomic matter.

          That’s just a start.

        • Genetic and population change-over-time gradual development of biological life through non-random mutations in the genome.

          Evolution deals with the development and speciation of life, not the origin of life. Evolution does not take into account the physics that undergird the molecules and atoms that comprise biological life, but just assumes them.

          Macro evolution is what allegedly occurs in living organisms on large scales over eons of time. Micro evolution is what occurs within a species and its environment.

          Natural selection as a theory does not offer any explanation for the evolutionary development or role of atoms or subatomic particles.

        • Joe

          Almost correct. The Devil can recite scripture when it suits him, it seems.

          So, of you go back to your definition, where does it mention the subatomic realm?

        • Hi Joe

          I think I said it doesn’t. That’s been my point all along. I know it is not mentioned. It is ignored. There is no biological theory of evolution that includes particle physics, but how interesting such a theory would be. If we hope to find a theory of everything, as the physicist dreams, then it sure would coherently explain the unity of physics and biology!

          So my question for today, Joe, is if evolution does not operate at the subatomic realm, ok. But it does begin operating at the genetic level at some point, correct? DNA – molecules, atoms, etc. In your understanding, where is the line between the subatomic realm and the genome where evolution actually begins?

      • You’re pointing to the fruits of science as evidence of a sort for God? Your irony detector has failed, I’m afraid.

        Science delivers. Religion doesn’t.

        • Hi Bob. All “science” means, strictly speaking, is “knowledge.” Galaxies and supernovae were here long before we even knew they existed. Things so incredibly huge and yet we’ve only known about them for about a century or so! How about that? The universe was also here long before man started assigning quantitative relationships to their mass and energy.

          I am sorry you are afraid of my allegedly broken irony detector. My condolences for your phobia.

          Dominoes delivers, too. And you may be right, I don’t know of any religious delivery service off the top of my head either.

          Hope you are doing well! 🙂

        • Science is a process. In particular, it’s a process that works.

          Not only couldn’t we see the pretty pictures of galaxies before modern science, we had no idea they existed. That’s just the tiniest fraction of the marvels that science has taught us. Christianity, by contrast, has taught us nothing new about reality. See why I choose science?

        • Chose science over Christianity? That’s a false dichotomy. There are plenty of intelligent, thoughtful believers who are scientists. It is their faith in Christ that inspires their work. They were created to explore God’s creation.

          Why must Christianity tell us something “new about reality”? Why should it have to? According to whom? That’s like saying “Well, Kepler’s Laws of Planetary Motion don’t tell us anything new about reality, so they must be useless and false.”

        • Priya Lynn

          “That’s like saying “Well, Kepler’s Laws of Planetary Motion don’t tell
          us anything new about reality, so they must be useless and false.””.

          They told people something new about the reality of planetary motion so obviously they weren’t useless and false.

          No one says the bible has to tell us something new about reality but the fact that it doesn’t shows its useless as a device to tell us about our world.

          Scientists don’t do science because of christianity, they do it in spite of christianity.

        • How old are you Priya, if you don’t mind me asking?

        • Priya Lynn

          fifty six

        • Thanks for sharing. Are you a former believer or never believed? I am 49, btw. Not raised in Church. Adult conversion 25 years ago. Now a member of a Presbyterian church here in Texas.

        • Priya Lynn

          Well, I don’t know if I would have every qualified as a believer per se, maybe during brief periods of my younger life say when things were going extremely well for me. I think the accurate way to describe it was that I wasn’t sure there wasn’t a god but as time went on I gradually became more and more convinced that that there probably wasn’t one.

        • I see. Thanks for sharing that. So you don’t think there’s enough evidence out there then?

        • Priya Lynn

          No. Maybe not even that so much as I was raised christian and I find the idea of a god as described in the bible who is also loving and just as a clear impossibility.

          I suppose I think there’s a very, very slim chance there is some kind of god, but certainly not one as described in any of the popular religions.

        • So what standard of love and justice do you use to judge the God of the Bible, Priya?

        • Priya Lynn

          Do whatever you want, but harm no one.
          And the most important social goal is to maximize the good and minimize the bad for all in an equal fashion.
          I’m going to bed now. I’ll check back tomorrow if you want to discuss further.

        • You are actually telling someone else what to do by saying “Do whatever you want”.

        • Michael Neville

          Priya Lynn said “Do whatever you want” however she qualified it with “but harm no one.” Why did you ignore that important qualification?

        • One statement at a time. I figured she could answer that, and then we could go on to talk about what “harm” means and who gets to define it and who gets to establish and enforce the prohibition. But I wanted to first mention the imperative she put forth and see if she acknowledged it as telling someone else what to/believe. That’s all.

        • Venavis

          Both thy bondmen, and thy bondmaids, which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are round about you; of them shall ye buy bondmen and bondmaids. Moreover of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, and of their families that are with you, which they begat in your land: and they shall be your possession. And ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them for a possession; they shall be your bondmen for ever

          What standard of love and justice do you use to judge the god of the bible?

        • See above.

          God is primarily concerned with the treatment of slaves.

          But when we consider OT slavery for just a moment, one of the most common words for slave is “ebed” in the Hebrew. If you take Isaiah 52-53 as a prophecy of Christ, Jesus enters our world as an “ebed” – coming to serve and not to be served. He washed the disciples feet, healed people, fed people and ministered to people. He was God’s “ebed” and yet was horribly mistreated, brutally so, to the point of mockery, public ridicule and a brutal, agonizing death. The Creator of the Universe Himself becomes a lowly ebed. A Servant, a bondslave of the Father for our sakes. He enters the institution on the ground level and suffers horrifically at the hands of His own creation.

          That’s kind of terrifying that He would let us do that to Him.

          That’s His standard, though. He did that for everyone. Black, white, slave, free, rich, poor, sick, healthy, young and old alike. Israel’s treatment of Jesus was precisely the opposite of what God commanded in the OT regarding one’s “ebed.” On the cross, Jesus took upon Himself all the OT wrath for our sakes.

        • Venavis

          Jesus didn’t go through a tenth of what a lot of people deal with every fucking day. He didn’t ‘give his life’. He gave up his weekend. I can list ten people I personally know that have gone through worse. I once spent a couple really fun weeks in a burn unit.

          And for the record – I’m one of those people that the bible condemns to death.

          Have you ever actually READ the bible? God hardened Pharoah’s heart, preventing Pharaoh from releasing the Israelites specifically so he could bring down the plagues and murder the firstborn children. That doesn’t strike you as a tiny bit fucked up?

          What does that say about you?

        • So you’re interpretation of what Christ suffered then must be true because you say it is?

          I have read the Bible and I too have suffered. We can trade war stories if you wish.

        • Venavis

          I’m not interested in trading ‘war stories’ with a demonstrated liar.

          Have you ever actually READ the bible? God hardened Pharoah’s heart, preventing Pharaoh from releasing the Israelites specifically so he could bring down the plagues and murder the firstborn children. That doesn’t strike you as a tiny bit fucked up?

          What does that say about you?

        • Priya Lynn

          “then we could go on to talk about what “harm” means and who gets to
          define it and who gets to establish and enforce the prohibition.”

          I’m not claiming the moral foundation I propose is perfect and that there will be no disagreement over how to best implement it nor am I proposing any significant or immediate changes to the present justice system. What I’m saying is that it is a far better system of morality than a religion like christianity and will point the way to sorting out far more moral questions than a religion like christianity will. For example, christianity proposes punishing non-believers and gays, a morality based on not harming innocent people makes it clear that non-believers and gays should not be punished.

          Find me some examples of moral prescriptions from christianity that work better than a moral prescription based on not harming innocent people and then we have something to discuss.

        • The rub there is “innocent” Priya. What do you mean by that? Innocent according to whom?

        • Priya Lynn

          “You are actually telling someone else what to do by saying “Do whatever you want [but harm no one]”.”.

          You left out a key part where I actually do tell someone else what to do, I wonder why that is. You think its a bad idea to tell people not to harm others? I disagree. I propose that this is a standard for morality that the most people on the planet can agree with in contrast to one of the religions which have been fighting with each other for millenia. Like all social contracts it requires others to agree to it, not just one person. As with any society there will be people who want to do harm to others and who will have to be restrained by the justice system.

        • MR

          Like all social contracts it requires others to agree to it, not just one person.

          No man is an island.

        • I’d have to know what the standards were for “harm” (that entails knowing what a human being is) and innocence and who made them and why. I find no passage of Scripture that justifies harming innocent people. But neither do I find in Scripture any human being that is innocent before God.

        • Priya Lynn

          We can debate forever about the definition of harm and innocent just as we can debate forever about how your bible defines those things but that would be fruitless. What would be worthwhile is to compare a system or morality based on not harming innocent people with your christian system of morality and seeing how they compare but I sense you don’t want to do that which does not surprise me. The bankruptcy of your system of morality is demonstrated by your absurd assertion that no human being is innocent and that your god eternally tortures people for the harmless act of not believing in him, something a system or morality based not harming innocent people would never do.

          The punishment should be proportional to the crime, your christian morality proposes infinite punishment for finite crimes (or no crime at all) – your god is a monster. In glancing at some of your other responses I see you trying to defend the monstrosity of your god. You clearly are blind to morality and as such I’m not going to waste any more time with you.

        • You mentioned harm as though it needed no discussion. But you are right here. It is a tangled subject.

          God is monster according to you, yes. I understand that, but merely saying so does not make it so anymore than saying the moon is made of cheese makes the lunar surface aged cheddar.

          So unpack your standards of innocence, harm and justice, Priya. How do you know what those are and where they come from?

        • Venavis

          Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.

          What standard of love and justice do you use to judge the god of the bible?

        • His.

          Our culture finds no difficulty in putting infants to death. What kind of standard of love is that?

          We, however, are not God, and have no idea what the unborn will grow up to become. None. God, however, does. He creates life, He may take life.

          Do you know why God put the males to death, including the children?

        • Venavis

          So you are admitting there is no such thing as objective morality.

        • The only one who is just in taking life is the one who creates life. Human beings, on the other hand, do not have that same knowledge or right. We generally tend to find every excuse we can for hating and killing our enemies. It is a lot easier than loving them.

          If you wish to discuss suffering, I am all for it.

        • Venavis

          “Blah blah double standards blah blah special pleading fallacy blah blah blah bullshit blah blah blah”

          Your bible and your god condemn me to death. That alone proves their immorality.

        • Venavis

          And no, our culture doesn’t ‘put infants to death’. Clearly, you don’t actually believe in god either, as you don’t fear him enough to obey that pesky little commandment about bearing false witness.

          If you genuinely believed in god, you wouldn’t be lying your ass off.

        • Venavis

          Nothing in that article involves putting infants to death. That’s a lie on your part.

        • BlackMamba44

          Guttmacher doesn’t provide statistics on infant killing.

        • Is a single fertilized human egg cell equivalent to a newborn?

        • It won’t become a great white or a sequoia redwood. It is a singe-celled human. If we are going to get into cell counting as far as what it means to be human, then how many cells will it take? Who says? Humanity is sacred down to the fertilized egg. The womb is the portal through which Christ entered this world. He took on our humanity down to a single cell.

        • Bob Jase

          “The womb is the portal through which Christ entered this world.”

          Whose penis put him there?

        • It won’t become a great white or a sequoia redwood.

          Precisely. This is the Argument from Potential—it ain’t a person now, but it will be.

          If we are going to get into cell counting as far as what it means to be human, then how many cells will it take?

          One cell isn’t a person. I’m rather an expert on persons, having helped to raise two of them from infancy. Here’s a tip: if you need a microscope to see it, it ain’t a person.

          And a newborn is a person. In between, it’s a spectrum. Think of an actual color spectrum from blue to green. Where does it stop being blue and become green? We can debate that, but we sure know that at the blue end, that’s not green.

          Who says? Humanity is sacred down to the fertilized egg.

          That’s fine. Define things however you want. Bring religion into it if you like. Just don’t impose that on the rest of society.

        • Susan

          It is a single-celled human

          So, not an infant.

          I have not lied about anything in this discussion with you

          Not carrying a pregnancy to term is not equal the slaughtering infants. So, yes. You lied.

        • Human all the way down, Susan.

          If it is a miscarriage, I would agree. If it is intentional, i.e. an abortion as a secondary means of contraception, then I would not agree. But what grows inside the womb is a human being. Anything less than “fully human” puts the sanctity of human life in jeopardy at every level.

        • Susan

          Human all the way down, Susan.

          So are your toe nail clippings.

          You said “infant”. Stop equivocating. That’s pretty much lying.

        • Ignorant Amos

          And the Bozo came over all so self righteous too…the lying prick.

        • Ignorant Amos

          A foetus is not an infant, no matter how much rhetorical hyperbole you egg it up with.

          You seem to be confusing human being and human person. I care more about the later than the former.

        • A fetus is not an infant according to whom? Science? You? You can tear down the humanity of a fetus all you wish (and that deconstruction will continue to perpetuate the awful tragedy of our time), but an unborn child is human through and through. The being and person are one in the same.

        • Michael Neville

          According to your own propaganda, your god kills people because he feels like it, he orders genocide and sexual slavery and condones slavery. That doesn’t sound loving or just to me.

        • Priya Lynn

          Not to mention torturing people for eternity for the thought crime of not believing in him. That doesn’t sound very loving or just – that’s a monster.

        • He kills people because He feels like it? Could you point out where you find this in Scripture? There is always a very clear reason for why God judges people with death. Genocide, on the other hand, is a gross mischaracterization of what God does and commands.

          Worldly potentates who were guilty of actual genocide were not God their intentions were purely evil. If you wish to judge God by this same standard, then I would be curious to know exactly how your standards for good and evil.

          It is unclear what you mean by “sexual slavery” too.

          But if God does not sound loving to you, Michael, then perhaps you could share what you mean by “love”?

        • Michael Neville

          Your god kills the first born of Egypt because an unnamed Pharaoh won’t listen to a political lobbyist. But why won’t Pharaoh listen? Because your god set him up to fail: “But the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart and he would not listen to Moses and Aaron” (Ex 9:12 NIV). So a bunch of kids die because your god is playing bully. Incidentally it’s the opinion of most non-literalist Biblical scholars that Exodus is a piece of fiction. Essentially it’s a propaganda piece with a small country saying their god is a bigger badass than the gods of the local superpower.

          Lot’s wife looks in the wrong direction and ZAPPO! she’s a pillar of salt. And why did she look that way? Because your god was nuking two towns because the inhabitants pissed him off.

          Here’s your Bible on genocide:

          When the Lord your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations—the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, seven nations larger and stronger than you—and when the Lord your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy. Deut 7:1-2 (NIV)

          However, in the cities of the nations the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes. Completely destroy them—the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites—as the Lord your God has commanded you. Deut 20:16-17 (NIV)

          At that time Joshua turned back and captured Hazor and put its kingto the sword. (Hazor had been the head of all these kingdoms.) Everyone in it they put to the sword. They totally destroyed them, not sparing anyone that breathed, and he burned Hazor itself. Joshua took all these royal cities and their kings and put them to the sword. He totally destroyed them, as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded. Yet Israel did not burn any of the cities built on their mounds—except Hazor, which Joshua burned. The Israelites carried off for themselves all the plunder and livestock of these cities, but all the people they put to the sword until they completely destroyed them, not sparing anyone that breathed. Josh 11:10-14 (NIV) [Emphasis added]

          When the Canaanites were defeated your god ordered the virgin girls to be given to the soldiers. That is sexual slavery.

          Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man. Num 31:17-18 (NIV)

          My definition of good and evil is well expressed in Terry Pratchett’s Carpe Jugulum. Esmeralda Weatherwax, a witch, is discussing sin with a preacher. The money quote is: “And sin, young man, is when you treat people like things. Including yourself. That’s what sin is.” Your god treats people like things, as shown in the Biblical quotes above. To me, love involves treating people kindly and causing them no harm. Your god kills people just for grins and giggles (Job’s family and servants are an example of this). I think that’s evil, so I think you worship an evil, sadistic, thuggish monster.

          Of course that’s just my opinion. You’ve probably rationalized your god’s hateful, evil actions away. Certainly William Lane Craig has. He claims that actions which, if committed by anyone else, would be universally denounced as evil are automatically good if his god does them.

        • So you define what sin and evil are and judge God by your own opinion, as well as interpret the text by your own opinion then? Is that what you’re saying here?

        • Michael Neville

          Yes, that’s what I’m saying. I read what’s in your propaganda and evaluated your god according to my own personal morality. I am against killing just for the sake of killing, your god isn’t. I am against slavery, your god condones it. I am against genocide, your god orders it. I am against rape and sexual slavery, your god has no problem with either. Therefore, according to my own subjective opinion, your god is an immoral, evil monster worthy of my greatest contempt. And it doesn’t say much about your that you worship a sadistic, bullying thug.

          I have to go to work all too early in the morning so I’ll wish you a good night. We can continue this discussion later.

        • Genocide, on the other hand, is a gross mischaracterization of what God does and commands.

          Bullshit. “Completely destroy them—the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites—as the Lord your God has commanded you.”

          Praise the Lord.

        • Clint W. (Thought2Much)

          But keep all of the virgin girls and ONLY the virgin girls, from Midia… for… reasons. And make sure that some of those virgin girls are given to the priests… for… reasons.

        • Why does he do that Bob and why would your interpretations of His actions be the right one?

        • Why he did that wasn’t the question.

          Let’s review. You said, “Genocide, on the other hand, is a gross mischaracterization of what God does and commands.” And I quoted God: “Completely destroy them—the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites—as the Lord your God has commanded you.”

          How is this an “interpretation”? God demanded genocide by the definition of genocide, and you misspoke.

        • Why does God command the destruction of these people? Are you suggesting they did not deserve to die? Do you mean to say they were innocent and God was simply making arbitrary commands?

          But according to you, none of this actually happened, correct? So I am not exactly sure why it matters so much to you. You might as well be upset about Sauron’s attempt at destroying Middle earth.

          There is a big difference, Bob, between what an omniscient God does and what a despotic human being attempts. God knows what He is doing, a crazed human potentate obsessed with the destruction of his enemies does not.

        • Why are you changing the subject? Does the current subject make you uncomfortable?

          according to you, none of this actually happened, correct? So I am not exactly sure why it matters so much to you. You might as well be upset about Sauron’s attempt at destroying Middle earth.

          You make a false claim about how God is defined in your own holy book, and I’m correcting you. You’re welcome.

          There is a big difference, Bob, between what an omniscient God does and what a despotic human being attempts.

          Apparently not, since they both demand genocide!

        • Susan

          genocide: the deliberate and systematic extermination of a national, racial, political, or cultural group.

          First, you said it wasn’t genocide. It clearly was (Yes. It’s a story, but it’s a story about Yahweh.) It obviously was genocide, as Bob pointed out.

          Rather than acknowledge you were wrong, and then continue on to your silly nonsense about it being OK if a tribal god orders it, you progressed directly to your silly nonsense.

          The honest thing would be to say, “OK. You’re right. Technically, it’s genocide but it’s OK for Yahwehjesus to order genocide.” But you didn’t.

          There is a big difference, Bob, between what an omniscient God does

          It was just Yahweh in that story. Not an omniscient god. And no, there is no difference. Being omniscient doesn’t make it right. It just means it should know better. Especially if it’s omnipotent.

          You don’t think they deserved it?

          That’s the sort of insane thinking that is used to justify every genocide.

          It’s always accompanied by a propaganda campaign.

          God knows what he is doing.

          You haven’t demonstrated that any sort of deity is behind the story. Just human propaganda that claims to have a god behind it.

        • Why would God do that, Bob? It is relevant to the question. Despotic humans have reasons, what do you believe were God’s reasons?

          And do you think God really did this or do you think this was fictional/mythical?

        • Daniel Ray deleted this comment:

          Why would God do that, Bob? It is relevant to the question. Despotic humans have reasons, what do you believe were God’s reasons?
          And do you think God really did this or do you think this was fictional/mythical?

          We’re apparently in the running-away part of the conversation.

          No, Daniel. We can talk about God’s motivation after we are all in agreement that you said that God doesn’t demand genocide … and yet he actually does. You were either mistaken or lying. Wouldn’t Jesus want you to admit the error before moving on? Or is changing the subject what an honest Christian does?

          You whined about how everyone was really mean to you, but this kind of game playing is what annoys them. If you’ve left this conversation for good, I encourage you to learn from this so you’re a more honest debater next time.

        • Susan

          So what standard of love and justice do you use to judge the God of the Bible, Priya?

          You are such a snake.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Adult conversion? The worst kind of holy roller.

        • Clint W. (Thought2Much)

          And they’re the ones that are truly gullible. At least the ones who converted as children can blame the childhood indoctrination that was foisted on them before they could think skeptically.

        • Pofarmer

          Ah, True Believer Syndrome. 24. Must have been girl involved.

        • And when those Christian scientists do science, they’re doing science. Their discoveries are built in no way on Christian anything.

          Why must Christianity tell us something “new about reality”? Why should it have to?

          I’m trying to find some objective measure that Christian claims are true. You got anything better? Or is it all just, “Well, you gotta take it on faith”?

          That’s like saying “Well, Kepler’s Laws of Planetary Motion don’t tell us anything new about reality, so they must be useless and false.”

          Kepler’s laws do tell us something new about reality. That’s why they’re useful.

        • So because you say such things about Christians who do science it must be true? Why not allow the actual Christian scientists to speak for themselves?

          https://www.anselm.edu/news/final-saint-johns-bible-event

          What would constitute as an objective measurement for the claims of Christ?

          Kepler’s laws don’t tell us anything new at all. They did in the early 17th century, for sure. But not now.

        • Priya Lynn

          “Kepler’s laws don’t tell us anything new at all. They did in the early 17th century, for sure. But not now.”.

          So, they were useful then, not so much nowadays.

        • In fact, I’ve been a fan of the St. John’s Bible project for some years now.

          When Christian scientists do science, they’re using science, not Christianity. As a tool for learning about reality, what good is Christianity? In fact, what good is Christianity at all? I fear that it comes down to Marx’s “opiate of the masses.”

          What would constitute as an objective measurement for the claims of Christ?

          What would constitute an objective measurement for the claims of Allah?

        • The St. John’s is truly a work of art, is it not?

          So you say again, “they’re using science, not Christianity”. Is that just something you’re making up? I know many scientists who are believers who see that God gave them not only their physical existence, but gave them a wonderful world to explore, gave them their cognition, eye sight, the very breath in their lungs, the very blood in their veins, the very creative hypotheses in their minds.

          The Christian who is a scientist derives inspiration from God to study the world. The famous Vermeer painting Hitler stole during WWII The Astronomer features a fellow with his hand on a globe and a book in front of him exhorting him to “seek inspiration from God.”

          This divine inspiration is the genesis of Science in the west. The universe is intelligible because it was designed that way. We have “science” (knowledge) of the universe because it was created by Christ.

          Regarding Allah, it would not matter at all what standards “I” would have for his existence at all. I could certainly have some, but I would ultimately be making them up. They would be completely subjective and Allah could in fact exist apart from my own standards. My personal criteria for his existence does not determine if he exists or not.

        • I know many scientists who are believers who see that God gave them not only their physical existence, but gave them a wonderful world to explore, gave them their cognition, eye sight, the very breath in their lungs, the very blood in their veins, the very creative hypotheses in their minds.

          Cool. And when they do their work, they don’t pray or fast or study the Bible. They use science, just like a Muslim or Buddhist or atheist scientist.

          This divine inspiration is the genesis of Science in the west. The universe is intelligible because it was designed that way.

          Meaningless. A scientist like Copernicus or Kepler didn’t say, “I know the universe uses unchanging laws because the Bible says so”; they know that because of their scientific experiments.

        • So because Bob believes that Christians who are scientists don’t pray or fast or read the Bible when they are doing science, therefore Christians who are scientists don’t do these things.

          The believing scientists knew that order in the world was because it was created. The Bible tells them this. God created the heavens and the earth, therefore the heavens and the earth ought to be intelligible.

        • Michael Neville

          Got any evidence that your god or any other supernatural critters created the “heavens and the earth”? Remember that the collection of myths, fables and lies called the Bible isn’t evidence.

        • Why isn’t it evidence Michael? Why aren’t the heavens and the earth evidence? They are not evidence because Michael says they’re not evidence? Come, now sir! Let’s get down to the details of this. Do you have evidence for your “not evidence” claim?

          Unpack “myths”, “fables” and “lies” and tell me how you know your particular interpretation of Scripture is the correct one. We’ll call it the Michael Neville version. Why should I accept your interpretation? I’m all eyes.

        • Priya Lynn

          ” Why isn’t it evidence Michael? Why aren’t the heavens and the earth evidence?”

          Because the existence of the heavens and earth isn’t explained any better by asserting a god than by asserting there is no god.

        • How did the heavens come together without God, if you don’t mind me asking?

        • Michael Neville

          The universe is evidence that the universe exists. There is no evidence that anything, that’s anything, supernatural like gods were involved in the creation of the universe.

          I should warn you that I’m familiar with the various cosmological “proofs of god” and I can give you how each of them is both fallacious and deistic. Even the strongest proof, Aquinas’ Argument From First Cause only suggests a deist deity, not the Judeo-Christian god.

          If nothing comes from nothing, then God cannot exist, because God is not nothing. If that premise is true that “nothing comes from nothing,” and if God is something, then you have just shot yourself in the foot. —Dan Barker

          I disregard the Bible as evidence of anything because a book which says π is equal to three, striped animals can be bred by exposing their parents to sticks, and insects have four legs is not, and does not pretend to be, a scientific work. If you want an example of a lie, Egyptologists and modern archeologists regard Exodus as a work of fiction.

        • So by saying this, you’re implicitly saying that if God really were involved in the creation of the universe, you would know? How?

          Your disregard of Scripture does not make it untrue. And we can talk about cosmological arguments, Plantiga’s straw man version of evolution or the alleged fictional claims of the Exodus if you wish. I lived in Sinai for half a year. Like another planet.

          Fire away!

        • Michael Neville

          I’m saying that there’s no EVIDENCE for any gods’ existence or their involvement in the creation of the universe. Got any evidence? Of course you don’t, because if you did you’d be giving it to me instead of complaining that I don’t respect your “holy” book.

          I lived in Vietnam for a year. Leaving there was called “going back to the world”.

        • Michael, again, thank you for your service, especially over there.

          I have done ceremonies for Vietnam vets specifically here in Texas. We have a Vietnam museum west of Ft. Worth in Mineral Wells.

          Check it out. https://www.google.com/search?q=Vietnam+museum+mineral+wells&ie=&oe=&safe=active

          Now, Michael, you keep emphatically making this declaration that there is no evidence. We have been discoursing about the stars, and you flatly reject them as evidence of divine handiwork. But to reject the heavens as God’s handiwork is to say you would know what God’s handiwork would look like. How could it be otherwise?

          Repeating over and over again that there is no evidence does not make it so.

          If there is NO evidence as you say, then what can I assume except that you are saying implicitly you would know it if it did exist. How Michael? How would you know?

          I know there is no evidence of a cat in my apartment only because I know what cat evidences would be. It’s the same for you. If you think there is no evidence for God, then certainly you must have certain divine characteristics and attributes in mind that have not presented themselves to your senses.

        • Michael Neville

          I’m rejecting that universe and all that it contains as “god’s handiwork” because there’s no reason to think it’s “god’s handiwork”. Cosmologists can describe the universe at 1×10^-47 seconds after its creation and there’s no sign that any gods were involved in the universe after that time.

          If there was evidence for gods (I still remind you that there’s a whole bunch more gods than the Iron Age Middle Eastern tribal god you fancy) then theists would be shoving that evidence in atheists’ faces. The silence is deafening. Instead we get things like the Ontological Argument (which is really semantics), Fine Tuning (99.999 recurring percent of the universe is hard vacuum at 3K, hardly conducive for human life) and the Watchmaker (If the watch looks designed compared to its surroundings, the only logical conclusion we could draw is that its surroundings are not designed. If we were unable to differentiate the watch from its natural surroundings, then we would deem it to be a natural object no different from a rock or a tree).

          The late Supreme Court Justice Potter Steward once said about obscene material: “I can’t define it but I can recognize it if I see it.” I’m in rather the same way with evidence for gods. If it were reasonable evidence then I’d recognize it as reasonable evidence for gods. So far nothing has ever come close to being reasonable evidence for gods.

          Instead of beating the “what would you know was evidence for my favorite pet god?” drum, how about presenting what you think is reasonable evidence that a figment of your imagination is more than a figment of your imagination?

          I never give characteristics of gods to theists because when I used to I’d be told “that’s not like my god at all”. Instead I ask theists to define and describe their god. It’s a waste of time for me to talk about a vague, deist deity when the theist believes in a geezer with a long, white beard who helps find car keys, decides which team wins the big game, and has an unhealthy obsession with sex. So tell me about your god.

        • So again, just because you say the universe is not God’s handiwork means that it isn’t? That’s all you’ve said so far, just in different ways. The description of the early universe is a complete suspension of all the known laws of physics. No one has a clue what really happened. So there are attempts at explanations, but you cannot experimentally recreate the initial conditions.

          There are obvious aspects to porn, and is why Stewart said what he did. He could probably list several and no one would disagree. You haven’t given any indication of what your standards are Michael. And even if you did, the question then becomes how you would justify them. In fact, if you did lay out what would count as evidence for God’s existence, you’d be making explicit and very specific claims about God and they would be just as exclusivist as any single religious claim.

          The question then becomes why we ought to accept Michael Neville’s interpretation of a divine being.

          You know we are talking about the Bible and the Universe, Michael, and I have been assuming, from your comments thus far, that you reject those. So I am now trying to figure out why you do and what your standards are, what you mean when you say there is zip-zero evidence.

          There is zip-zero evidence of horses in our pasture (we have cows). But how can I say there is no evidence for horses in the field? Because I know what a horse looks like. The same holds for you Michael. To say God does not exist implies you know what He’d look like if He did.

          Again, how can it be otherwise?

        • Michael Neville

          The description of the early universe is a complete suspension of all the known laws of physics.

          Citation, please.

        • Can you personal explain the initial singularity within the confines of all the known laws of physics? Be my guest as to how we ought to interpret infinite density, mass, force or energy in accordance with the laws we presently have. There is no one who has or can at the moment.

          The late Vic Stenger said the laws of the universe actually came from nothing.

          From May of last year, short article on research that has simulated black-hole-like conditions outside black holes. The article points out a simple fact of the weirdness of the universe. Singularities literally bend the rules, spaghettifying them. The new theory discussed in the article “does break down — as do all standard laws of physics — at a singularity. Singularities are points in the universe where a celestial body’s gravitational field becomes infinite.”

          Researchers tweaked the relative flatness of our universe into a saddle shape using computer simulations and got some surprising, law-breaking results, essentially theoretically achieving the extreme conditions inside a black hole, outside a black hole. But the current laws governing our universe fall apart and break down in a black hole, inside or outside of its confines.

          And the universe was allegedly much more than “just” a black hole. It was the entirety of the cosmos in utero, with an infinite density, infinite energy, infinite force, infinite mass, things that have no correspondence with the laws we presently understand.

        • Bob Jase

          “Can you personal explain the initial singularity within the confines of all the known laws of physics? ”

          I’ll do so right after you explain god. So far you haven’t been able to even define god so I figure I have plenty of time.

        • You’re a late in coming to the discussion Bob, but I have, briefly above in a few of my posts throughout.

        • Bob Jase

          Actually I’ve been reading since this was posted, its just that the increasin exposure of your ignorance only lately tweaked me into saying anything.

          And you didn’t expalin or define god yet.

        • There are other posts in here where I have given explanations. I have explained who Jesus is and how I believe He relates to the universe a few times.

        • Bob Jase

          hence not all laws of phyics are known.

        • Michael Neville

          Using computer simulations, researchers have predicted the formation of a naked singularity in three-dimensional space for the first time. That being said, although the simulations may have shown a naked singularity, it wasn’t a simulation of our universe. [emphasis added]

          I’ve said that cosmologists can describe the universe after Planck Time (1×10^-47 seconds after the Big Bang). You’re squeezing your god of the gaps into an awfully tight gap.

          Science knows it doesn’t know everything; otherwise, it’d stop. But just because science doesn’t know everything doesn’t mean you can fill in the gaps with whatever fairy tale most appeals to you. ―Dara Ó Briain

        • Ignorant Amos

          Do you know what the “null hypothesis” means?

        • Venavis
        • Suffering.

        • Venavis

          You were asked not to insult my fucking intelligence.

        • Ignorant Amos
        • Where does the appeal to evidences end, Amos? Is there an infinite regress of evidentiary and authoritative appeals or does the truth about reality have a final end somewhere?

        • Venavis

          So the LORD our God delivered into our hands Og also, the king of Bashan, and all his people: and we smote him until none was left to him remaining. And we took all his cities at that time, there was not a city which we took not from them, threescore cities, all the region of Argob, the kingdom of Og in Bashan. All these cities were fenced with high walls, gates, and bars; beside unwalled towns a great many. And we utterly destroyed them, as we did unto Sihon king of Heshbon, utterly destroying the men, women, and children, of every city.

          What standard of love and justice do you use to judge the god of the bible?

        • Do you know how bad Og’s kingdom was or are you assuming here that Og and his subjects were all wonderful, peace-loving innocents who somehow did not deserve divine wrath? If permitted to live, these people, including the children, could very well have continued to perpetuate the evils going on within Og’s domain. Often God is criticized for not doing something about the problem of evil. But here it plain God does indeed “do something” about evil, and yet we still judge Him for it.

        • Venavis

          And if a man smite his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and he die under his hand; he shall be surely punished. Notwithstanding, if he continue a day or two, he shall not be punished: for he is his money.

          God is okay with beating a slave to death, as long as the slave doesn’t die right away. But go on with your talk about how this ‘Og’ is so much more evil, even the tiny infants.

        • Well, you’re assuming (it would appear) that Og and his subjects, including the infants, should have been allowed to live. Do you propose to know what God knew about these people then?

        • Venavis

          You were asked not to insult my fucking intelligence. All you are doing is proving more and more what an immoral monster your supposed god is, and demonstrating just how much objective morality does not exist.

          “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them
          have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them”

          I’m a gay man.

        • So because Bob believes that Christians who are scientists don’t pray or fast or read the Bible when they are doing science, therefore Christians who are scientists don’t do these things.

          You don’t read so good. Maybe read more slower next time.

          The believing scientists knew that order in the world was because it was created. The Bible tells them this.

          Sounds far-fetched to me. Suppose the Bible said that the world was orderly but measurements said otherwise. The scientists would conclude that the world wasn’t orderly. Now suppose the reverse: the Bible said nothing about an orderly universe, but experiments said that it was orderly. They’d conclude (because there was evidence!) that it was orderly.

          Scientists don’t get their marching orders from the Bible, not even Christian scientists.

        • Oh, contrare, Mr. S. The heavens declare the glory and men wanted to find out what that might be! So they eagerly dove into the celestial wonders with eyes wide open. In not a few ways, the ancients knew more about the stars above us than most of us today. Plus I think most modern astrophysicists would make for lousy shepherds. 🙂

        • Show me a scientist who uses the Bible to govern, guide, and constrain his work rather than science.

        • A “scientist” who doesn’t use science isn’t a scientist. Yes, in the lab (or at the blackboard or in the classroom) it’s either or. You can lecture about research informed by science, or you can talk about theology.

        • According to Bob. Right.

        • Michael Neville

          What has Christianity or any other religion told us about the real world. Has medicine been improved by Christianity? Is physics a Jewish science? Is creationism really what’s going to replace evolutionary biology? Give me one example of new knowledge given by Christianity.

          One of the early pioneers of the Big Bang was Georges Lemaître, a Catholic priest. Not once in any of his papers did he mention anything supernatural. He told Pope Pius XII that there was neither a connection nor a contradiction between religion and science and that Pius should stop talking about creationism because it wasn’t scientific.

          The universe is intelligible because it was designed that way.

          Got any evidence that the universe was designed?

        • Well aware of Lemaitre. And I avoid equating Big Bang cosmology to Genesis, just as he recommended to the Pope. The science will constantly change, and that was Lemaitre’s point. Don’t wed your theology to theoretical cosmology, in other words.

          That’s not what I’m doing Michael. At all. That the universe seems to have had a beginning, scientifically speaking, does not “prove” Genesis to be true. I would never argue that way and neither did Lemaitre. Genesis 1:1 is true on its own and was true long before fledgling cosmology became a thing a century ago. God does not require “science” to “prove” Him.

          But how a little unnerving that contemporary science has seemed to reach a very ancient conclusion, something theologians had known for millennia.

          “For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance, he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.”

          One does not need to be an astrophysicist, know any theoretical physics or cosmology or even own a telescope to have one’s mind blown away by a star-filled night sky. The heavens are very ecumenical in that regard if you pay attention to them with just the naked eye. Everything from crop harvesting to navigating the open waters of the pacific in a canoe just by paying close attention to the stars, specifically for Hawaiian islanders of long ago, the star Arcturus, the star of joy. From a book I’ve been working on.

          One of the principle navigational stars by which islanders traditionally sailed is Arcturus, the very same star which lit up the second World’s Fair in Chicago in 1933. To native islanders, Arcturus is known as “Hokule’a” or the “Star of Joy.” And indeed, as one tireless ploughs through the vast waters of the Pacific, what outrigger wouldn’t be delighted at the sight of its guiding iridescence? “When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.” In our “modern” world, ablaze with the alluring glow of cell phones and computer screens, who among us can relate to being overjoyed at the sight of a single star, let alone navigate by one? Indeed, one does wonder, amidst all the technical sophistication of modern science, how many modern astronomers (or anyone, really) could actually endure and navigate a 2,600-mile, open-water journey in the Pacific themselves. National Geographic explorer Wade Davis, in his book The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World, lucidly describes what such a journey across the ocean entailed.

          Enshrouded by the night, the canoe itself became the needle of a compass that was the sky. Behind us sat the navigator, a young woman named Ka’iulani, Nainoa’s protege. She would remain awake for twenty-two hours a day for the entire voyage, sleeping only for fleeting moments when the mind demanded a rest.
          Ka’iulani, like her mentor Nainoa and all of the experienced crew, could name and follow some 220 stars in the night sky. She knew and could track all the constellations, Scorpio and the Southern Cross, Orion, the Pleiades and the North Star, Polaris.

          As one “middle-aged” blogger from southern California named “Steve” said about such a feat, “More than 20 centuries ago, it seems the Polynesians knew more than we do. They had committed the patterns and rhythms of the night sky to memory – they had taken the sky into their heads and hearts – and by this found their way across an ocean to a new future. They looked up and found their way forward. Simple, yet elegant; plain yet stunning in its geographic reach. A guiding star – what a concept.”

          That a divine being is responsible for “all of the above” has been a part of the history of astronomy since time immemorial.

          So how do you know the stars are not evidence of divine handiwork, Michael?

        • Michael Neville

          Genesis 1:1 is true on its own and was true long before fledgling cosmology became a thing a century ago.

          In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Gen 1:1 (NIV)

          What’s true about this bit of mythology? If you want me to accept it as true then you need to: (1) define “God”, “heavens” and “earth”; (2) determine when “the beginning happened; and (3) give evidence that this “God” created anything. I don’t accept anything in the collection of myths, fables and lies called the Bible as true without strong evidence that it is true.

          I’m a sailor, a retired Navy Chief. I’ve taught celestial navigation. I can recognize over 30 navigational stars (all northern hemispheric stars, I’ve never navigated south of the equator). The Polynesian navigators were excellent, given their limitations, and made landfalls after journeys of several hundred miles. Arcturus (α Bootis) is one of the navigational stars, easily recognizable by the experienced navigator. However to properly navigate by the stars you need a minimum of three stars, preferably widely separated, a sextant, a chronometer and a nautical almanac. That’s how it’s been done since the 1700s. Of course nowadays electronic navigation has superseded celestial navigation.

          Incidentally when I taught celestial navigation I’d tell my students: “Forget Copernicus, for our purposes the earth is fixed at the center of the universe and the sky revolves around it.” This makes the math a lot simpler.

          So how do you know the stars are not evidence of divine handiwork, Michael?

          For the simple reason there’s zip point zero evidence that anything “divine” has ever existed, let alone made anything. The cosmological theory called the Big Bang doesn’t require any supernatural critters for the universe to come into existence. So if you claim that your god or any other supernatural critter was involved in the creation of the universe then you need to produce some evidence to show (1) it or they exist and (2) it or they did some creating. Quoting religious mythology is not evidence.

        • Thanks for your service, Michael. I probably know at least thirty stars in the northern hemisphere by sight myself as well as the location of a few Messier objects. Arcturus is one of my favorites. Photons from this star turned on the lights to the second Worlds’ Fair in Chicago.

          I like to navigate by the stars out here along Texas back roads, especially in winter as Orion rises in the east. I know all the stars in Orion by sight and name, all the stars in the Dipper, most of the stars in Scorpius, I know the names of all the Pleiades but I am always confusing the order by sight, I know a few stars in Virgo, the main stars in Cygnus and the ones that comprise the summer triangle. I know Aldebaran, Sirius (that’s an easy one) Arcturus, stars of the face of Draco, including Grumium, El Tanin and Rastaban. I can even spot Draco, except for when he’s head first in the northern horizon

          You keep pressing this “zip-zero” evidence issue. So all that says to me is that Michael would know what evidence for God would look like if God did exists.

          I needn’t define God for you if you so steadfastly know there is no evidence for His existence. You seem to know precisely what that definition would be yourself, as you have yet to see whatever it may be you have in mind.

        • Michael Neville

          I have no idea what evidence for gods would look like. I do know that I haven’t seen any and I’ve been exposed to various arguments and “proofs” of god and gods for years.

          If you can’t define your own god then why are we discussing it? I can define Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny but I haven’t seen evidence for their existence either.

        • Well, ok, now we have made some headway here.

          So if you really don’t know Michael, how can you say there is no evidence for Him then? All this time I’ve assumed you have rejected all theistic claims, including Christianity. And not only that, you have rejected the universe as God’s handiwork.

          But now you are telling me you don’t know what evidence for God would look like?

        • Michael Neville

          Okay, let me refine my statement slightly. I see no evidence that any gods exist. Furthermore I understand that modern cosmologists make no mention of gods or other supernatural critters when discussing their theories. In other words, there’s no need for gods. Your wishful thinking and childhood indoctrination are not reasons for me to think that a sadistic, narcissistic bully created anything but silly thoughts in your mind.

          If you’ve got what you hope is evidence for gods then bring it out. I’ll be happy to find the fallacies and point out the sophistries in your fantasies.

        • You seeing no evidence Michael, doesn’t mean there isn’t any. This explanation is merely another variation on a theme and is no improvement over your previous assertions about their being no evidence, “zip-zero” in your words yesterday. You and other cosmologists saying there is no need for gods is not a scientific conclusion, but simply a trust in theoretical premises unsupported by any viable scientific data. You are simply continuing to make this assertion, sans any tangible evidence except your own opinions. Your additional claim that my beliefs are “wishful thinking” likewise do not make them so. Your epithets about God likewise do not make them so, as you said yourself last evening. It was all just your opinion.

          So here’s where we are Michael.

          1. You have not seen any evidence for God.

          2. But you do not know what evidence for God would be.

          3. Your thoughts about God, as you have expressed, are your own opinions.

          4. Therefore God likely doesn’t exist.

          Is that accurate?

        • Michael Neville

          1. True.

          2. Half true. If I see it then I will recognize it.

          3. True.

          4 True, based on the complete lack of evidence for ANY gods.

          So, got any evidence or are you going to continue having me explain the same points over and over again? What part of I see no evidence for gods do you have problems understanding? You obviously have problems understanding my position because you’ve demanded that I explain the same points several times now.

        • So we are back to you insisting there is no evidence and yet you don’t know what the evidence will be, but you claim you know what it would be if you saw it.

          Thank you for clarifying. That’s all I was attempting to do, have a clear understanding of your position, and now I do. I will not trouble you any more about it. I appreciate the time you have taken in responding, Michael, I do. Thank you again for your service to our country, and if you are in the DFW area in March, I invite you to come to a presentation I’ve been helping put together. I could meet you in person after the event (we are having a cookies and coffee reception with the guest speakers). You can come and grill me in person during the Q & A or over a cup of joe afterward.

          All the best to you, sir.

          https://swbts.edu/events/astrophysics-and-fantasy-hubble-meets-narnia/

        • Michael Neville

          I understand now. You kept asking me about what evidence would be and, despite me saying I would recognize it when I see it, you’ve decided that I don’t know what the evidence is. It was so you didn’t have to admit that you don’t have any evidence for your god’s existence or any evidence that your god did any creating. I thought you were being a bit slow but instead you were playing a sophisticated game. Congratulations, since you’ve bowed out of the conversation without producing any kind of evidence you’ve won.

        • Susan

          a sophisticated game

          “Sophisticated” is too high a term.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TV62X21V8Vw&t=78s

        • disqus_aVknELPziu

          I don’t have any evidence that fits your standards, Michael. On that we agree.

        • Susan

          I don’t have any evidence that fits your standards, Michael.

          FTTFY

          How do you sleep at night?

        • MR

          Looks like you shamed him enough to cause him to flee. Damn you, Susan, why must you expose their bullshit!? Well, at least, until he re-emerges as some sock puppet down the road, anyway.

        • Susan

          Looks like you shamed him enough to cause him to flee.

          Much as I’d love to take all the credit for that… I can’t.

          I just figured he folded up his Flim Flam stand and took it where he can make some sales.

          If it were his site, most of us would have been banned long ago for asking sincere questions for his pretend answers and providing sincere answers to his pretend questions.

          When it’s not their site, they pack up their trailer and flee.

          until he re-emerges as some sock puppet down the road, anyway.

          I hope not. I hate when they come back wearing a fake moustache and hitting the reset button.

        • Clint W. (Thought2Much)

          HA-HA-HA-HA!

          The dumb coward cut and run. I love it. And we were actually fairly civil with this one.

        • Susan

          So if you really don’t know Michael, how can you say there is no evidence for Him then?

          I’m not going to guess for Michael. But I’ll answer your question.

          Because no one who talks about “God” talks about coherently, and the claims they make are not supported.

          What are you claiming and how do you support it?

          “The universe” (a vague term, that doesn’t address most of reality as we know it), and “scripture” is not support for the vague claim of “God” (which means Yahwehjesus with all of its superstitious nonsense that is indistinguishable from ALL the superstitious nonsense that humans have believed, some of which humans continue to believe).

          People who have a clear idea that something exists make their claim clear and they support it with evidence.

          They don’t ask what evidence would be convincing.

        • Venavis

          And the LORD our God delivered him before us; and we smote him, and his sons, and all his people. And we took all his cities at that time, and utterly destroyed the men, and the women, and the little ones, of every city, we left none to remain

          What standard of love and justice do you use to judge the god of the bible?

        • His.

        • Venavis

          And he that curseth
          his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death.

        • That is His standard, not mine. But Christ was put to death in our place. He honored His mother and father, fulfilling the commandments but yet was punished as though He did not honor His mother and father. Because of His perfect obedience to the law, He credits us with that same moral perfection (we are justified, as in legally acquitted) but then takes the penalty of our sin (death) upon Himself.

        • Venavis

          “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them
          have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them”

          I’m a gay man.

        • I accept His standard though, is what I mean to say.

        • Venavis

          You accept that children should be executed for talking back to their parents.

          Consider what that says about you and your morality.

  • RichardSRussell

    If human beings were descended from praying mantises instead of apes, it would be a mortal sin not to devour your husband after sex.

    • ChevalBlanc

      How dare you waste a perfectly nutritious mate? Don’t you know there are mantids starving in China?

    • Glad2BGodless

      Take, eat; this is my body….

  • RichardSRussell

    If WLC is into challenging assumptions, why not resolve the Problem of Evil in the simplest way imaginable? Simply concede that the assumption that God is all-loving is false. Sometimes he can be a total dick. There’s ample evidence to believe that to be the case (including any number of Bible passages), why not just go with it and eliminate the contradiction?

    • Ficino

      Craig could also monkey around with definitions of “loving.” God is all loving toward those whom He torments in Hell for ever. Getting medieval on their asses IS loving.

      • Gary Whittenberger

        It would be a really odd conception of love which included sending people to eternal torture. That doesn’t work, IMO.

        • Ficino

          Yes. Exactly.

    • Gary Whittenberger

      God is all-loving by definition! There could be other gods which are not all-loving. I don’t believe that God or the other gods exist.

  • ChevalBlanc

    Trying to reconcile a perfect, loving deity with a belief in biblical inerrancy doesn’t really work. You can’t have it both ways. Besides, do people have free will or not? If yes, then of course the Bible is full of human bias & power-grasping (Romans & obedience to “appointed” leaders, anyone?).

  • eric

    In some ways, Biblical inerrantists like WLC are setting up a paradox similar to the statement “I’m lying to you right now.”

    After all, they’re basically saying: the Bible’s human authors were inerrant in asserting that human authors are free to make mistakes.

  • Jack Baynes

    I thought a central tenet of Christianity was that NOBODY was good enough to deserve Heaven, but he lets some people in anyway.
    So all that is required to avoid Hell is for God to not want there to be Hell.

    • Kevin K

      True. And the Calvinist version (which is to say, the version that WLC subscribes to) is that he has already chosen who’s in and who isn’t.

      You isn’t.

      • Jack Baynes

        I isn’t, but I STILL have to listen to Christians trying to get me to convert.
        Not fair, I tell you.

        • Kevin K

          I know! I would declare that “I don’t know why they even bother,” but then I remember George Carlin’s explanation and it all becomes clear to me.

          God needs money…souls, not so much…but definitely needs money.

  • RichardSRussell

    Heretofore, whenever I encountered a religionist trying to weasel out of the Problem of Evil by claiming that, for all its flaws, this was still the best of all possible worlds, my standard rejoinder was “So if this is the best of all possible worlds, I guess your God isn’t quite as all-powerful as you claim, is he?”. But now, thanks to Bob, I’ve got a new arrow in my quiver: “So if this is the best of all possible worlds, then I guess heaven must be worse, right?”.

    • Bob Jase

      Have you ever had to sit on a golden toilet seat on a cold morning? Damn right heaven is worse.

      • Michael Neville

        I doubt few of us have had the opportunity to use golden toilets. But I can imagine any metallic toilet seat would be cold on a cold morning.

        • Bob Jase

          I triple-dog dare someone to sit on one on a frosty morning.

        • Chuck Johnson

          But these toilet seats are made of Heavenly Gold.
          This gold has all of the special properties that the Faithful (or their apologists) might wish for.

        • Like warm fuzziness gold.

        • epicurus

          I grew up on a farm with no plumbing in a cold part of the continent where we would sometimes get 40 or on occasion even 50 below. Wooden toilet seats in the outhouse are definitely the way to go. Although it’s amazing how you can hold it in when you are in bed at 3am and it’s 40 below outside.

        • Kodie

          No such thing as coffee cans?

        • epicurus

          Yeah, that was sometimes practised.

        • Michael Neville

          I’m assuming you grew up in the Midwest or the Great Plains. Few people realize that part of North America has the same climate as Siberia. It isn’t surprising. Look at a globe or map of the world and you’ll see the two areas are geographically similar: A mountain range to the west (Rockies or Urals) and nothing but flat all the way to the North Pole.

          I grew up in Wisconsin.

        • epicurus

          80 miles northwest of Edmonton Alberta.

        • epicurus

          My dad was born in Menasha Wisconsin, southwest of Green Bay, when my Grandma was in the states visiting relatives. Is that anywhere close to where you grew up? I’ve been doing some research on Ancestry.com and looks like my Grandfather and many great greats were from Fergus Falls Minnesota, I don’t know what prompted the move up to Canada. Probably running from the law or something.

        • epicurus

          My dad was born in Menasha Wisconsin, southwest of Green Bay, when my Grandma was in the states visiting relatives. Is that anywhere close to where you grew up? I’ve been doing some research on Ancestry.com and looks like my Grandfather and many great greats were from Fergus Falls Minnesota, I don’t know what prompted the move up to Canada. Probably running from the law or something.

        • aren’t chamber pots the answer?

        • epicurus

          Well yes, we are getting into the realm of too much information here, but if you are not the first to have used it that evening, it is a rather unpleasant procedure, plus in a small house with no basement, not a lot of privacy to use it. OK, time to change the subject – I know, I know, it’s my own fault.

    • Joe

      It really can’t be great because we call the default state of the world “average”.

    • Nice one.

  • Doubting Thomas

    It’s a good thing most people treat WLC as the buffoon that he is because if you combine his retort to the Epicurus problem of evil (WLC says that it’s god’s nature that is good) and his conclusions about hell then sometimes, if we are to follow the goodness of god’s nature, the correct response to someone doing something wrong is “Set them on fire!!”

  • That debate occurred twenty four years ago, Craig’s site claims. It is indeed surprising that Christians need to be reminded about heaven. Or maybe not, as they must ignore that to defend hell.

  • Syzygy

    Remember, religion = mental illness.
    That explains it.

  • Chris Mooney

    Here is a link to an amusing piss take of WLC’s argument of the resurrection of Jesus.
    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCm0VjekR-4a-sUftCHzAAvg Also

  • Derek Mathias

    Ah, but the assumption that God gives humans free will is not biblical. NOWHERE in the Bible does it say free will exists, or that the choices we THINK we’re making are our own. In fact, it says the exact OPPOSITE, clearly stating that God plans EVERYTHING, including our very steps:

    • Proverbs 16:4 The LORD works out EVERYTHING to its proper end. [Not just some things…”EVERYTHING.”]
    • Proverbs 16:9 In their hearts humans plan their course, but THE LORD ESTABLISHES THEIR STEPS. [God even determines our very steps!]
    • Proverbs 16:33 The lot is cast into the lap, but its EVERY DECISION IS FROM THE LORD.
    • Proverbs 19:21 Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but IT IS THE LORD’s PURPOSE THAT PREVAILS.
    • Proverbs 20:24 A person’s steps are DIRECTED BY THE LORD.
    • John 6:44 No one can come to me UNLESS the Father who sent me draws them. [That means only God decides who will be saved and who won’t.]
    • John 6:37 All those the Father gives me WILL COME TO ME, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. [If God decides to save you, you WILL be saved, no choice.]
    • Acts 13:48 and ALL WHO WERE APPOINTED for eternal life believed. [Those who come to believe in God were appointed to do so.]
    • Romans 8:7-8 Because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for IT IS NOT EVEN ABLE TO DO SO, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
    • Romans 8:20 For the creature WAS MADE subject to vanity, NOT WILLINGLY, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope.
    • Romans 9:19-21 “You will say to me then, ‘Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?’ On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, ‘Why did you make me like this,’ will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, TO MAKE FROM THE SAME LUMP ONE VESSEL FOR HONORABLE USE AND ANOTHER FOR COMMON USE?”
    • Ephesians 1:11 In him we were also chosen, having been PREDESTINED according to the plan of him who works out EVERYTHING in conformity with the purpose of his will.
    • Jeremiah 10:23 LORD, I know that PEOPLE’S LIVES ARE NOT THEIR OWN; IT IS NOT FOR THEM TO DIRECT THEIR STEPS.
    • Jeremiah 43:11 He will come and attack Egypt, bringing death to those DESTINED FOR DEATH, captivity to those DESTINED FOR CAPTIVITY, and the sword to those DESTINED FOR THE SWORD.
    • Isaiah 14:27 For the LORD Almighty has PURPOSED, and who can thwart him?
    • Isaiah 37:26 Have you not heard? LONG AGO I ORDAINED IT. In days of old I planned it; now I have brought it to pass.
    • Amos 3:6 Does disaster come to a city, unless THE LORD HAS DONE IT? [People don’t cause disaster unless God makes them do it.]
    • Job 42:1-2 Then Job answered the LORD and said, “I know that You can do all things, And that NO PURPOSE OF YOURS CAN BE THWARTED.”
    • Psalm 37:23 A MAN’S STEPS ARE ESTABLISHED BY THE LORD, and the LORD delights in his way. [Only an evil God would delight in establishing a man’s steps to take the wrong path.]
    • Psalm 139:16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; ALL THE DAYS ORDAINED FOR ME WERE WRITTEN IN YOUR BOOK BEFORE ONE OF THEM CAME TO BE.

    Being able to make choices doesn’t require free will. In fact, even animals that clearly don’t have free will are perfectly capable of making decisions. Computers can even be programmed to make decisions. So the evidence is pretty clear that free will is only an illusion, and that GOD decides every action that a person will choose that gets him sent straight to hell.

    Sleep tight!

    • Glad2BGodless

      Interesting!

    • Priya Lynn

      Thanks so much for that!

    • Gary Whittenberger

      “So the evidence is pretty clear that free will is only an illusion, and that GOD decides every action that a person will choose that gets him sent straight to hell.”

      I agree with your first claim, but disagree with your second. God decides nothing since God does not exist.

      Sleep tight; don’t let the bed bugs bite.

      • Derek Mathias

        Well, yeah, you’re right…but Christians assume he exists, so I’m just assuming that for the sake of the argument. 🙂

    • Helpful citations, thanks.

  • Gary Whittenberger

    Bob, you’ve produced another excellent essay. I agree!

    I’ll extend your conclusion a little further: In the 21st century we now know not only that God does not exist but that it is impossible for him to exist. We know this from natural disasters, the Holocaust, and the failure of universal encounters of him. Let freedom ring! We are now free to build a correct universal morality from the bottom up instead of from the top-down.

    • Max Doubt

      “I’ll extend your conclusion a little further: In the 21st century we now know not only that God does not exist but that it is impossible for him to exist. We know this from natural disasters, the Holocaust, and the failure of universal encounters of him.”

      I’ll remind you again, because you seem to have a very short memory on this point, that your claim that it is impossible for an upper-case-G god to exist only applies to the god(s) you imagine. The gods other people imagine are invulnerable to your reasoning.

    • Yes, it’s hard to see objective morality by looking at God’s example.

      • Gary Whittenberger

        A real person who behaved like the hypothetical God certainly would not be perfectly moral, not even close.

  • Questioner

    Hell would be living forever with Christians who really believe in hell. Hell is having the belief that there really is a hell. Christians are already in hell. A perfectly loving infinite torturer, a perfectly loving mass murderer of the human race (flood), a morally perfect infinite torturer, a morally perfect mass murderer of the human race are each contradictions. Therefore the Christian god cannot exist any more than a three angled square can exist. Not knowing that God is a made up fictional character is like not knowing that Mickey Mouse is a made up fictional character. The Christian god is an infinite torturer devil mass murderer devil. Christians are devil worshipers and devil lovers.The Christian idea of heaven is to send eternity fellowshipping with an infinite torturer devil mass murderer devil.

  • Eliz Matez

    Not so fundamentally different I would say, since there was even a war in heaven, at least at one time:

    “Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. 8 But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.
    -Revelation 12:7–10 (NIV)

    Provided for a second that what the bible says is true: if it is possible for angels and even God’s former butt-buddy, Lucifer, to lose their place in heaven and be cast out of it (for rebelling against God, which seems to have been an act of free will) how can any Christian be sure that he/she won’t suffer the same fate even if he/she is lucky enough to enter the pearly gates?

    And provided for another second that the Christian heaven really does exist, aside from the fire and brimstone thing, it doesn’t seem to be so much nicer than hell, and at least I’m not keen to get there…ever: https://www.alternet.org/10-reasons-christian-heaven-would-actually-be-hell

    So, good to know that heaven and hell are just primitive man-made, nonsensical concepts, and very sad to know that (far too many) people still believe in that silly crap :((

  • Craig

    The following 11 minuted YouTube Video is for all those people who have tried to argue against me.

    It is by a Non Theist.

    This will separate the trolls from those who are serious.

    The trolls will not watch it and if they do they will be irrational and disagree with it.

    You can’t get an ought from an is.

    I will question you in relation to the video if you choose to comment to me.

    https://youtu.be/YzfDIewPFb0

    • Joe

      I don’t want to sit through an 11 minute video.

      If you can’t put forward a succinct argument, in your own words, how do we know you actually understand the topic at hand?

    • Priya Lynn

      “I will question you in relation to the video if you choose to comment to me.”.

      You’ve been evasive and non-responsive up until this point, why should we believe you this time?

      If you can’t handle the questions and responses you’ve gotten up until this time a video isn’t going to change that.

      “You can’t get an ought from an is.”

      The vast majority of people prefer life to death and happiness to unhappiness therefore we ought to try to bring that about.

      There, you’re wrong.

      • Craig

        || The vast majority of people prefer life to death and happiness to unhappiness therefore we ought to try to bring that about. ||

        That is Preference just like the person on the video is talking about !!

        There is no actual moral ought or moral obligation to it !!

        There !! And if you waffle on with crap I will block you. I am looking for the serious and honest thinker.

        • Joe

          I am looking for the serious and honest thinker.

          Don’t bother to look in a mirror, in that case.

        • Michael Neville

          So when are you going to be honest? You’ve been asked several times for definitions of YOUR terms and clarifications of YOUR statements. You’ve either ignored these requests or tried to bullshit out of them by calling requests “red herrings”. That is not honest.

        • Priya Lynn

          “there is no actual moral ought or moral obligation to it !!”.

          You assert that but you haven’t proven that. The ought and moral obligation come from our nature, not from any non-natural agent (that doesn’t exist).

          It naturally follows that if we prefer something we ought to try and bring that about as long as it doesn’t harm innocent people – case closed.

          You want to block me because you can’t defend your position and you’re looking for an excuse to stop trying to respond to me – you’re a loser.

        • Glad2BGodless

          Craig thinks that if an assertion doesn’t work, the answer is to assert harder.

        • Priya Lynn

          LOL, that pretty much sums him up.

        • Glad2BGodless

          “I will block you”

          I think you over-estimate the sense of deprivation this will inflict. If we find that we pine for Random Capitalization, we can supply our own.

        • Susan

          If we find that we pine for Random Capitalization, we can supply our own.

          I wish I could give you an Ultimate Upvote for that.

        • Glad2BGodless

          Heh

        • Careful, Priya Lynn! When he says he’s going to block you for being mean to him, I think he’s serious! (And you wouldn’t want to be blocked by Craig Q. Philosopher, PhD, DPhil, DDS, ®, LHC, PDQ, STFU, WTF.)

        • Priya Lynn

          Yes, you’re right, I would be absolutely devastated if he wouldn’t regale me with his bullshit!

        • Susan

          PhD, DPhil, DDS, ®, LHC, PDQ, STFU, WTF

          Don’t forget, YAADA.

          (You are a dumbass.)

        • MR

          Bwah-ha-ha-ha!

    • Craig

      All the trolls are out.

      I won’t waste my time with trolls.

      These people make fools out of themselves. They would not get through an undergraduate degree in Philosophy in any major university of the Western World.

      • Priya Lynn

        “I won’t waste my time with trolls.”.

        What you’re really saying here is that you won’t respond to arguments you can’t dispute because it’ll reinforce how wrong you are.

        “These people make fools out of themselves. They would not get through
        an undergraduate degree in Philosophy in any major university of the
        Western World.”.

        This coming from the guy who tries to argue with circular logic and the “appeal to authority” logical fallacy.
        Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahaha!

      • And, heck, you could teach philosophy at the graduate level! I’m amazed that you waste your time here with people who are your inferiors. You should leave.

      • Jack Baynes

        And yet you’re still here…

      • zenlike

        Talking to yourself Craig? Yeah, buddy, just pretend everyone who disagrees with you is a troll, that way you don’t actually have to do any work, like, you know, actually back up any of your assertions.

    • Chuck Johnson

      You can’t get an ought from an is.-Craig

      Every “ought” ever thought of by a human is the result of what “is”. – – – No exceptions.
      Your claim is a result of your indoctrination.
      Religions are well practiced at the art of deception.

      • Craig

        The Philosopher David Hume said you cannot get an ought from an is. He was an atheist !!

        You obviously did not watch the video.

        • axially/tilted

          The individual in your video says that “giving food to the homeless is kind”, and therefore has the “value of being kind”. So I inquire, what if the food you are giving the homeless has been laced with a healthy dose of fromunda cheese? Could we still count this as a ‘kind value’ action?
          And Hume is a world famous philosopher, whose works have withstood the test of time for a reason. This dipshit wouldn’t be considered worthy of emptying David’s chamber pot.

        • Craig

          You can’t get a moral ought from the facts.

          I nor the guy on the video is arguing against Hume. You guys are !!

        • Priya Lynn

          If you can’t get a moral ought from facts then there is no such thing as a moral ought.

        • Susan

          You can’t get a moral ought from the facts.

          Sure.

          But you’re trying to suggest that we can get one from making stuff up.

          I don’t think that’s what Hume was trying to say.

        • Craig

          I majored in Philosophy at Two Universities and you try and tell me what Hume was or wasn’t saying when none of you have majored in Philosophy at University. It is just arrogance from you people.

        • Otto

          If you paid for the arguments you have been spouting here you got ripped off.

        • Susan

          I majored in Philosophy at Two Universities

          I am a World Class Ballerina and Retired Astronaut.

          (I love the internet.)

          and you try and tell me what Hume was or wasn’t saying

          Was Hume saying that we can derive an is from making stuff up?

          If you are, show your work. Hume did.

        • Craig

          You are not intelligent enough to understand ontology and epistemology.

        • Otto

          “I am right because you are stupid” is not an argument.

        • Susan

          “I am right because you are stupid” is not an argument.

          Not only is it not an argument, it is an extra claim when he hasn’t supported any of his other ones.

          He has to show that not only am I stupid (which shouldn’t be too difficult… I mostly am) but also that he is not just as or more stupid and then that because he is not as stupid as I am, that he is right.

          If he can do that, he will overturn the philosophy world.

          So far, all he’s provided is a video on some atheist websites.

          I don’t think that’s going to get the job done.

        • Susan

          You are not intelligent enough to understand ontology and epistemology.

          Sure. Maybe you’re right. Though I’ve asked questions that show that I understand them enough to realize that if you had an ontological claim that you could epistemiically support if you understood them, and you refuse to answer them, instead, preferring to accuse me of being a “dumbass”, maybe I’m out of my league.

          So, here’s your opportunity to teach.

          What is ontology? On what basis can you support your ontological claim?

          What is epistemology? Provide your support for that claim.

          That you have learned how to spell both terms is not enough.

          (I’m sure your philosophy professors explained that in the first semester.)

        • zenlike

          You majored in philosophy, but somehow get angry when people ask you define your vague, nonsensical terms. Yeah, I seriously doubt that.

        • “Majored in” isn’t the same as “got a degree in.”

          Reminds me of Sarah Palin. She was so well educated! She went to 5 colleges!

        • MR

          “Two Universities”? Is that some kind of evangelical indoctrination institution, or don’t they teach children when and when not to capitalize these days?

        • Priya Lynn

          “The Philosopher David Hume said you cannot get an ought from an is. He was an atheist !!”.

          So you’re saying we ought to agree with Hume because he is (was) an atheist. Seems a little incongruent if you ask me.
          It is a non sequitur that we should agree with something Hume said because he was an atheist.

          No wonder you flunked out of philosophy school.

        • Joe

          That video equates morality with atheism and Nihilism, which are all separate topics.

          It’s nonsense.

          Hume wasn’t a Nihilist, which seems to escape both the maker of that video, and a philosophy graduate. Wow.

        • Chuck Johnson

          Your logic is that if an atheist (David Hume) says that you can’t get an ought from an is, that proves that you can’t.

          Your blind obedience to authority is showing.
          Fame and reputation do not make anyone right.
          So now I will watch the video and see what miraculous atheist insights Hume might have for us.

        • Craig

          You can’t get a moral ought from the facts.

          You can impose a moral ought upon the facts but then the moral ought is based in preferences.

          You ought to do X so as to get Y.

          You should have watched the video at the start and then you would not have made the comments you have.

        • Chuck Johnson

          You can impose a moral ought upon the facts but then the moral ought is based in preferences.-Craig

          All moral perceptions are based upon preferences.
          Mine are, and yours are.

        • Craig

          And because of that then nothing can be wrong independent of people’s preferences.

          In other words, nothing is objectively right or wrong. Rather, wrong only in relation to people’s preferences.

        • nothing is objectively right or wrong. Rather, wrong only in relation to people’s preferences.

          Now you’re getting it.

        • Craig

          And that buddy is why nothing any religion or religious group says or does is really wrong or objectively wrong. It is all based in subjective preferences and evolutionary programming.

          On your position you have a planet filled with individuals fighting over their subjective preferences.

        • Uh, yeah. You think it’s otherwise? Then fucking show us.

          Better: just cut to the chase. Admit that your claims of objective morality and purpose are all bullshit and then just crawl back under your rock.

        • Craig

          It is more plausible and reasonable to think that there is something objectively wrong with murder. People live as though there is something objectively wrong with it.

          People don’t live as though murder is just a behaviour due to evolutionary programming.

        • It is more plausible and reasonable to think that there is something objectively wrong with murder.

          As opposed to think there is just something regular wrong with murder.

          It’s weird that we have only your assertion rather than an argument to back it up. Didn’t they teach you about those at University?

        • Craig

          On your position there is just evolutionary programming and that exhibits itself as behavior.

          There is no wrong on your position even though you tag or label things as wrong.

          Tagging or labelling is just behaviour that is programmed into you.

        • Priya Lynn

          “There is no wrong on your position even though you tag or label things as wrong.Tagging or labelling is just behaviour that is programmed into you.”

          There are things that harm us and things that don’t, from that necessarily comes the morality of right and wrong.

        • You’re just a waste of time, aren’t you? It’s like I’m arguing with a monkey.

          I guess at some point it’s my fault for not realizing that my adversary can’t do what I’m asking.

        • Craig

          The truth is buddy that you and others are in denial because of personal pride and hatred of religion.

        • MR

          Ah…, the last bastion when one has no argument.

        • I guess we’ll get to the foot-stomping stage next.

        • Glad2BGodless

          I love the way he quote mines Dawkins, as if a proof text from the Great Man ought to settle our hash.

        • I suppose he’s used to submitting to authority, so he expects that everyone is.

          Aside: it’s odd that so many apologists’ arguments use lots of quotes to make their argument. I rarely do, and when I do, it’s usually because someone said something far more eloquently than I ever could. I can’t imagine saying, “As [important person X] said …” to make a point. Instead, I’d usually argue that this point is the consensus among relevant scholars, so therefore, we should accept it as provisionally true.

        • Susan

          I guess we’ll get to the foot-stomping stage next.

          That was Stage 1. It hasn’t progressed from there.

        • Priya Lynn

          But you said you weren’t arguing for a morality based on christianity!

          I couldn’t be proud of myself if I didn’t accept a convincing argument as to the nature of reality, even if it disagreed with my beliefs. You just haven’t made such an argument, not even remotely close.

        • How do you know? You’ve never given us an argument to consider. And I’m guessing you never will because you don’t have one.

          You haven’t won us over with appeals to what you think are the negatives in the realist position, so now you’re just going to take the petulant/snarky approach, still with no evidence. Why don’t you just leave if you have nothing to offer to the discussion?

        • Craig

          No one can win over people that do not want to be won over. You guys reject what your own atheist academics tells us about human existence.

        • And this is what’s called a self-sealing hypothesis. No matter how many holes we point out in the bottom of your boat, you’re determined to not let it sink.

          Our conversation is now at the mocking stage, I fear. I’ll just repeatedly point out that your bold claims of objective morality (you remember–moral claims that are really, really, really true?) are false until you admit that fact.

        • Craig

          Are you going to disagree with Ricard Dawkins also ?? Yes or No ??

          “The total amount of suffering per year in the natural world is beyond all decent contemplation. During the minute it takes me to compose this sentence, thousands of animals are being eaten alive; others are running for their lives, whimpering with fear; others are being slowly devoured from within by rasping parasites; thousands of all kinds are dying of starvation, thirst and disease. […] In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference. DNA neither knows nor cares. DNA just is. And we dance to its music.”

          Richard Dawkins – River Out Of Eden

        • Are you going to disagree with Ricard Dawkins also ?? Yes or No ??

          I’ll be delighted to disagree with “Ricard” Dawkins. Just give me something to disagree with.

          Dawkins is eloquently characterizing God’s creation. Kinda makes him look like a buffoon, doesn’t it?

        • Otto

          The truth is you can’t demonstrate that either your religion or your morality is objective and therefore your ass is getting chapped.

        • Susan

          The truth is buddy that you and others are in denial because of personal pride and hatred of religion.

          I doubt they taught you that in your “philosophy” college.

          It only shows that when you can’t state your argument clearly and support it (despite many simple questions that people ask you to help you along the way), you have no recourse but to make a new argument (that you can’t state clearly and support).

        • Craig

          I have explained my position over many posts and even provided a video as backup.

          My position is NOT defending faith based morality which you have all attacked me on. I have defended moral realism ( moral ontology ).

          The best foundation for moral realism is a Supreme Moral Law Giver.

          There are Atheist Philosophers who defend moral realism also. Erik Wielenberg is one such Atheist Philosopher.

          The most common view for morality from Atheists is that it is a result of evolutionary processes and social conditioning but that the problem with that is there is no basis to say that what anyone else has done is wrong but only wrong in relation to other people’s preferences.

          You people need to educate yourselves more because to be honest you all act like a pack of dumbasses.

        • Susan

          The best foundation for moral realism is a Supreme Moral Law Giver

          So you keep saying.

          But you neither show that one exists nor that it is the best foundation for moral realistm.

          Sticking capitals in front of your claim doesn’t make it stick.

        • MR

          You’re just a waste of time, aren’t you? It’s like I’m arguing with a monkey.

          You really ought not do that.

          What do they teach these monkeys in school these days? Fling feces around and hope it sticks? Baseless assertions, no life experience…, I don’t think the poor guy even had a dog as a child from his cluelessness on animal behavior.

        • Priya Lynn

          Some people don’t think murder is wrong so its not an objective moral rule.. The majority of us do because we don’t want to be murdered ourselves and so we are willing to have a social contract that we don’t murder each other – its still all based on subjective preferences for which there is very widespread agreement

        • Chuck Johnson

          People don’t live as though murder is just a behaviour due to evolutionary programming.-Craig

          Your perception of what evolution consists of is too limited.
          In addition to genetic adaptive evolution, humans experience cultural adaptive evolution.
          Much of human morality is guided by cultural adaptive evolution.

        • Craig

          That is what morality is on your position. Just behaviour. There are no actual moral obligations that humanity as a whole have to live by.

          There is no moral obligation for the human species as a whole to flourish and survive.

          You are only describing to me behaviour.

        • MR

          Do you mean objective moral obligation? I’m pretty sure that’s what everyone’s been telling you.

        • Priya Lynn

          “That is what morality is on your position. Just behaviour. There are
          no actual moral obligations that humanity as a whole have to live by.”

          Behavior derives from thoughts including thoughts about morality – you can’t separate the two.

        • Chuck Johnson

          “There is no moral obligation for the human species as a whole to flourish and survive.”

          For billions of years, life on Earth has been upvoting surviving, flourishing and evolving.

          This is a popular idea.
          Popularity gives it moral credibility.
          It has been a widespread biological behavior for billions of years.
          It has been a popular human idea for a long, long time.

          And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

        • Craig

          You are giving me description only.

          You, however, have no basis for prescription. On the brute facts there is no oughts for human beings to live by.

          On the brute facts, life is essentially meaningless and all life will die out regardless of what anyone does or does not do.

          Again you are only giving description but NOT prescription.

        • Chuck Johnson

          Again you are only giving description but NOT prescription.-Craig

          Learn, understand, and cooperate with the innovations and the complex systems that life on Earth has been inventing for billions of years.

          These systems promote the survival, thriving and the evolution of living things, including human beings.

          This is good moral guidance.
          This is what you ought to do.

        • Craig

          Who says we “have to” survive and thrive ??

          Who ??

        • Chuck Johnson

          You and I demonstrate this.
          Your visit to the crossexamined blog is an exercise in communicating, learning and teaching.

          This is a part of cultural adaptive evolution.
          The behavior of billions of people also demonstrates this.

          Your ersatz nihilism is a scam.
          I am not fooled.

        • Craig

          People can prefer to survive and thrive BUT that says absolutely nothing about people having a moral obligation or ought to thrive and survive. There is no ” have to ” thrive and survive involved !!

        • Chuck Johnson

          You are lying.
          This happens when proving that you are right becomes more important than dealing with the truth.

          It is your moral obligation to thrive, to survive, and to help your fellow humans do the same.

          You are quite ignorant about evolutionary biology.
          You are pretending you know things that you really don’t know.

        • Chuck Johnson

          “There is no ” have to ” thrive and survive involved !!”

          Not “have to”.
          It’s a moral choice.

        • MR

          I’m pretty sure they didn’t teach evolution at his home school capital U, University,

        • Chuck Johnson

          Possibly they did.
          You can lead a fanatic to water, but you can’t make him drink.

        • Priya Lynn

          “On your position you have a planet filled with individuals fighting over their subjective preferences.”.

          And you think you’ve got a system of morality where there is no disagreement over subjective preferences? Let’s hear it.

          Which do you think the most people are going to be able to agree on, a morality based on not hurting innocent people or a morality based on one of the religions people have been fighting over for millenia?

        • Chuck Johnson

          In other words, nothing is objectively right or wrong. Rather, wrong only in relation to people’s preferences.-Craig

          Yes, but animals other than humans have preferences, too.
          It’s nonliving things which have no preferences.

        • Otto

          Be so kind as to explain to us how you access this objective morality you speak of? How do you determine it is actually objective?

        • Chuck Johnson

          You should have watched the video at the start and then you would not have made the comments you have.-Craig

          I will get around to watching the video.
          But I doubt that it will be as stupendous, life-changing, and iconoclastic as you seem to indicate.

        • Joe

          I wouldn’t bother if I was you. You can’t get that time back.

        • Priya Lynn

          “You can’t get a moral ought from the facts.”.

          You keep asserting that but you haven’t proven its true.

          The truth is the vast majority of people prefer life to death and happiness to unhappiness so it follows from those facts that we ought to seek to maximize life and happiness for all in an equal fashion – case closed.

        • Chuck Johnson

          Now, I did watch the video.
          David Hume is quoted as saying: “It is logically impossible to derive an ought from an is.”

          Well, if all that you use is logic, then this is pretty much true.
          In addition to logic, we need facts and information.

          Hume lived before the Darwin-Wallace discovery.
          A great many moral “oughts” can be extrapolated from that discovery. This is in addition to all of the other sciences which have been developed since then.

        • Priya Lynn

          If it were impossible to derive an ought from an is there would be no such thing as oughts – I think few people would accept that idea.

        • Chuck Johnson

          Part of Hume’s logically fallacy here is the fact that he referred to “an is” (singular).

          Moral perceptions are derived from a large body of facts (“is” plural).
          When moral perceptions are based upon insufficient, limited evidence and knowledge, then it is most likely that immorality will result.

          Hitler’s obsession to rid the world of “inferior” people is an example.
          Beware the danger of a single story.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9Ihs241zeg

        • I would say, “you can’t derive an objective ought from an is.” The regular kind is a different story.

        • Chuck Johnson

          Where would such an objective ought come from ?
          God ?

      • Where would something come from than what is?

    • Eliz Matez

      Although I have not tried to argue against you yet, I have read through your comments and those of the other posters here, and I can’t help but notice that you are pretty careless when it comes to defining terms properly.

      For a start:

      (Internet) Troll, definition: “In Internet slang, a troll (/troʊl, trɒl/) is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting quarrels or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory,[1] extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog) with the intent of provoking readers into an emotional response[2] or of otherwise disrupting normal, on-topic discussion,[3] often for the troll’s amusement.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_troll

      I have not seen any of the replies to your comments fit the definition of “troll” by any means. People here were merely asking you to provide a definition of terms such as “brute nature” in order to understand better what you are even talking about, so that the discussion with you can move forward, but you were not able or willing to answer these questions so far. Why?

      I for my part am not going to watch this video, because I am already well aware as to what intellectual honesty means, although I do not have a Major in Philosophy, and I don’t have to have one in order to know what it means, so why waste my time on a you tube video in the first place?

      However, I am not quite sure if you know what “intellectual honesty” means , and if you do, you don’t seem able to live up to your own standards, because if you did, you would have simply answered the (repeated!) questions of you discussion partners here. You have not done so (at least I don’t see where you did, so please correct me if I have missed a relevant post of yours), which makes YOU the one being intellectually dishonest, right?

      So, instead of answering the questions directed at you in a straightforward manner, you are trying to redirect the argument to another issue (intellectual honesty, accusing commenters of being trolls) in order to distract from the fact that you are not willing or able to answer honest questions and/or to provide a sound argument (do you even know what that is, Mr. Philosophy Major?) and defend your case, which sounds a lot like a Red Herring to me.

      So, could you please set your silly kindergarten distraction games aside, stop projecting and start answering simple questions, because I would be eager to read them, too. Thank you very much.

      • Joe

        I have read through your comments and those of the other posters here, and I can’t help but notice that you are pretty careless …

        You could have saved a lot of typing and left it at that.

        • Eliz Matez

          As my husband likes to put it: you are always talking too much 😉

        • Joe

          Your husband is a brave man. I would never dare say that to my wife!

    • You can’t get an objective ought from an is, but no one said that you could, moron.

      Here’s the regular kind: “It is the case that my moral programming says that murdering puppies is wrong, so therefore I ought not to do that.”

      For someone with a quadruple doctorate in philosophy, I’m surprised that we need to school you on the basics.

      • Craig

        Then it is only your moral programming the same as someone who does murder puppies or people and they have no moral prohibition against it. It is only their programming.

        You dumb ass !!

        That is my moral programming to tell you that !!

        • You whine about reality because you have another reality that’s better? Then show it to us. Convince us that it exists. All you can do is whine about reality, which makes you look pretty ridiculous to the adults here.

          Yeah, I know that it’s a shame that you don’t have a pony, some cake, and objective morality, but it’s time to get over it.

        • Craig

          If you were consistent with your position of evolutionary programming, then you would understand that anything that anyone says, believes and does is just evolutionary programming.

          There is No “The Best Life” to live on your position. There can’t be because it is all evolutionary programming. Nor can’t there be any right or wrong independent of your preferences. It is all evolutionary programming.

        • Wouldn’t it be nice if just once you showed that you understood the difference between something being objectively true and something not? Your gibberish isn’t worth straightening out, and you wouldn’t care anyway.

          Ah, well. I can dream, can’t I?

        • Craig

          It is my evolutionary programming. Like your stupidity is your evolutionary programming.

        • Damien Priestly

          Just because evolutionary programming may apply does not mean it is just “preferences”…A social primate species with well developed rational intelligence can adapt to new conditions, set standards and form consensus, not just us….

          …Other evolutionary close cousins of ours..chimpanzees and bonobos, display similar moral traits…They don’t kill members of their own species very often, they don’t even harm members outside their clan without good reason. They tend to use conflict resolution…Surely you don’t believe this is just their “preference”. They know that “wrongs’ make no sense and is self-defeating. And surely no force outside of space and time wrote anything moral on the hearts of chimps, apes and bonobos?

        • Priya Lynn

          Carl Sagan’s book “Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors” discusses this at length. There are many fascinating observations on morality and a desire for fairness in chimp societies.

        • Damien Priestly

          Read it !! Sagan was ahead of his time, too bad he is not still with us.

        • Priya Lynn

          Yeah, I call that book “The Bible” as it is the most profound thing I have ever read.

        • Craig

          chimpanzees and bonobos can exhibit moral behaviour but they do not have moral oughts ( obligations ) and ought nots ( prohibtions ).

          They don’t restrain their behaviour and reflect and say to themselves..

          “ I ought not to do that “

        • Priya Lynn

          “They don’t restrain their behaviour and reflect and say to themselves..“ I ought not to do that “”.

          You assume that without knowing. Read “Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors” by Carl Sagan and note the observations of researchers – you’ll see your mistaken.

        • Damien Priestly

          Nonsense…these primates have well developed obligations to clan and offspring..and for chimps at least, to human companions. They operate socially with refined standards of behavior…e.g. including prohibitions. Those who break rules in groups of chimps can be ostracized. They are much like us !!

        • Priya Lynn

          “Those who break rules in groups of chimps can be ostracized”

          Or beaten or killed as one alpha male was after a long reign of violent terror over his group

        • MR

          He oughtn’t to have done that…. 😉

        • Craig

          A moral ought is …

          ” I ought to do this ”

          You are describing behaviour. Not moral oughts and ought nots. A lion does not reflect and think… ” I ought to be kind to that other lion and I ought not to harm him “.

        • Priya Lynn

          “A lion does not reflect and think… ” I ought to be kind to that other lion and I ought not to harm him “.”.

          You don’t know that. In my opinion its a given that a lion does think that with regards to lions who are its mate, or children, or allies in hunting – its impossible that it could not be that way.

          “You are describing behaviour. Not moral oughts and ought nots.”.

          Behavior derives from our thoughts which are full of moral oughts and ought nots – you cannot separate one from the other.

          You’re just not a thinker, are you?

        • Damien Priestly

          But primates like chimps, orangutans and bonobos do exactly that…clear conscious moral decision making….Giving up food for others, even strangers, de-escalating conflict, prioritizing that the young avoid harm…quite sophisticated moral behavior, This has been studied and is well documented.

          Like how you put lions into a discussion about primates. Nice try!

        • Craig

          The brute facts:

          The universe is a result of a Big Bang. We evolved from the primeval soup. All life will die out in a heat death of the universe. Human existence would have appeared for a flicker of a time and then gone.

          That is based upon modern scientific theory.

          There is no moral obligation for the human species as a whole to flourish and go on and survive and thus there can be no moral prohibition against it being destroyed. Natural disasters have no moral prohibition against destroying us.

          On those brute facts all you see is behaviour. There is no essential good & bad and right & wrong but just the facts – the brute facts.

        • Damien Priestly

          You left out quite a few things in this short history of the universe…for one – the evolution of complex, adaptive, moral intelligence and culture. We have lots of evidence for it…it explains our society better than any paradigm that is speculative, undefined or without evidence.

        • Craig

          You are giving me description only.

          You, however, have no basis for prescription. On the brute facts there is no oughts for human beings to live by.

          On the brute facts, life is essentially meaningless and all life will eventually die out regardless of what anyone does or does not do.

          Again you are only giving description but NOT prescription.

        • Damien Priestly

          “Prescription” may simply be the future consequences of reality…if you don’t have some other explanation, it is a non-sequitur. If prescription is something beyond just speculation, then explain it…at least WLC, the subject of this blog post, suggests God prescribes (with no evidence of course).

        • Priya Lynn

          “You are giving me description only.You, however, have no basis for prescription.”.

          Nonsense. The basis for prescription is that if we want to be treated well we have to enter into a social contract with others that we will treat each other well.

        • Golly … I’m so sad now, reading about the brute facts of reality. Do you have a religion I could dry my tears on? I don’t much care about whether it’s true or not … I just need a cheery story to make me feel better.

        • Glad2BGodless

          Craig should try driving his car against the flow of traffic on the interstate. Traffic laws are mere human preferences, and we can easily imagine different laws that would work just as well. So what could go wrong if he asserts his own preferences against those of society? One lane is as good as any other.

          It’s not as if you can derive an “ought” from the “is” of traffic laws.

          Oh, wait.

        • Susan

          The brute facts

          The universe is a result of a Big Bang

          Mountains of evidence that support it.

          We evolved from the primeval soup.

          See above.

          All life will die out in the heat death of the universe.

          The evidence strongly supports that.

          Human existence would have appeared for a flicker of a time and then gone.

          Well, yes. That’s obvious.

          There is no moral obligation for the human species as a whole to flourish and go on and survive and thus there can be no moral prohibition against it being destroyed.

          Outside of human concern? No. Just like human behaviour has contributed to, and doesn’t give a shit about any other species of earthling being destroyed.

          Natural disasters have no prohibition against destroying us.

          Of course not. Nor anything else.

          On those brute facts all you see is behaviour. There is no essential good & bad and right & wrong but just the facts – the brute facts.

          Of course not. It’s a mean, old world .

          We don’t need a universe to have compassion to understand the value of compassion from the point of view of an earthling (human or not).

        • Craig

          As I wrote above …

          A description of behaviour.

          There are no moral oughts and ought nots.

          I ought to do X because X is morally good & right. It does NOT exist on your position.

          As per your last post –

          On those brute facts all you see is behaviour. There is no essential good & bad and right & wrong but just the facts – the brute facts.

          You wrote …

          ** Of course not. It’s a mean, old world . **

        • Susan

          Ok.

          I’m done. I made (as did many others) many attempts to have a discussion with you.

          You don’t have any interest in engaging in any discussion.

          You’ve neglected to answer, basic questions about your statements.

          Also to clarify a position you are able to support.

          You just want a soapbox for your idiocy.

        • Craig

          You dumb asses reject what your own atheist academics write.

        • Glad2BGodless

          Yeah, we’re funny that way. We accept or reject arguments based on their merits instead of their pedigree.

          If you think tribalism is the best path to understanding, you might be more comfortable on the theist side of the street.

        • Priya Lynn

          “I ought to do X because X is morally good & right. It does NOT exist on your position.”.

          Repeating the same false claim does not make it true.

          I ought to be moral because I want others to treat me in a moral fashion – case closed.

        • Craig keeps returning to “Yeah, but there are bad things in our reality !!” as if we’ll decide to jump ship and believe in objective morality as if that will change reality. It’s no longer amusing.

        • Priya Lynn

          Yes, he’s just repeating the same debunked crap over and over and ignoring the responses refuting him.

        • eric

          My guess is ‘awful consequences of subjectivism’ is what convinces him it must be untrue + the “if you knew what I knew, you’d agree with me” assumption = constant repeating of the ‘awful consequences’ argument so that we will know what he knows and thus agree with him.

          This logic is doubly wrong, of course. (1) there’s no logical link between a state of the world being awful and it being illusory or untrue, and (2) we know the Hilter etc. arguments. We know the consequences of subjectivism. We know what he knows and we still disagree with him…because there is no evidence of objectivism being right.

          Churchill’s quote about democracy goes well here. Subjective morality is the worst form of morality, except for all the others.

        • Priya Lynn

          “There is no moral obligation for the human species as a whole to
          flourish and go on and survive and thus there can be no moral
          prohibition against it being destroyed.”

          That’s a non sequitur. There is no moral obligation for me to flourish and survive (if I had children not yet independent that would be a different story) but that does not make it okay for another to kill me against my will. By the same token, there is no moral obligation for me to buy a car but that doesn’t make it okay for another to prevent me from buying a car – surely you’d agree with that.

        • eric

          There is no essential good & bad and right & wrong but just the facts – the brute facts.

          There’s no argument here for an objective morality…unless you’re again making the argument from incredulity. “I can’t accept a world where there is no essential good & bad!”

        • Susan

          I ought to be kind to that other lion and I ought not to harm him

          A lioness does when it comes to her cubs. And her kin. Other lionesses.

          I doubt you’ve taken much time to learn about the intricacies of lion behaviour.

          .

        • Craig

          A description of animal behaviour.

          There are no moral oughts and ought nots.

          ” I ought to do X because X is morally good and right. ” It does NOT exist on your position.

        • Susan

          A description of animal behaviour. There are no moral oughts and ought nots.

          We are animals. We are mammals. We are apes.

          You ignored my response and hit the reset button.

          Our ideas about morality did not magically emerge from nowhere.

          If you claim they do, show your work.

        • Craig

          I do NOT give a rats ass about human biological behaviour. I am after moral prescription and on your position you don’t have it !!

          I previously wrote –

          On those brute facts all you see is behaviour. There is no essential good & bad and right & wrong but just the facts – the brute facts.

          You by your own admission wrote –

          || Of course not. It’s a mean, old world. ||

          Even Richard Dawkins writes –

          “ The total amount of suffering per year in the natural world is beyond all decent contemplation. During the minute it takes me to compose this sentence, thousands of animals are being eaten alive; others are running for their lives, whimpering with fear; others are being slowly devoured from within by rasping parasites; thousands of all kinds are dying of starvation, thirst and disease. […] In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference. DNA neither knows nor cares. DNA just is. And we dance to its music. “

        • Susan

          I am after moral prescription and on your position you don’t have it !!

          You don’t know my position.

          Anyway, are you suggesting that you have it?

          OK. Provide it.

          Or go away and come back when you do.

        • Craig

          You are wasting my time. You are a dumb ass like the rest of them here.

        • Susan

          You’ve got nothing, then?

        • Craig

          Rather, you have nothing. I have explained the situation through the whole thread.

          The Atheists on this thread reject what their own Atheist academics write !!

          The only way that an action [ like murder ] can be wrong – really wrong – universally wrong is if there is an objective standard of morality and moral law outside of man’s subjective preferences.

          That does NOT prove that it is the case but it is more plausible and reasonable ( in accordance with our moral experience ) to think so.

          If someone broke into your home and murdered your family members, then it is just human biological behaviour ( as Dawkins writes …

          In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference. DNA neither knows nor cares. DNA just is.)

          Or there is something really wrong with murder.

        • Michael Neville

          We agree that murder is wrong. We just disagree with you that it is objectively wrong. I’ve asked you several times to decide whether or not killing in combat is murder or not. You’ve ignored that request, probably because you know whatever answer you give will shoot a hole in your pathetic argument about your god (and you’re the one who first brought gods into the discussion) being the source of morality.

        • Michael Neville

          The Atheists on this thread reject what their own Atheist academics write !!

          No, we reject your interpretation of what they write.

          Incidentally, atheist is a common noun which does not require capitalizing. There is and was no one named Athe.

        • Lark62

          The Atheists on this thread reject what their own Atheist academics write !!

          Appeal to authority is the typical mode of operation of the religious.

          It is a logical fallacy.

          We don’t have “our own” academics. If any idea or concept is supported by evidence and stands up to scrutiny, it is worthy of acceptance. Otherwise, it deserves to be discarded.

          If an individual has a track record, you may be able to trust them on areas of their expertise. I would accept what Einstein said about gravity and Tom Brady said about the wishbone offense, but not vice versa. I don’t care what either one thinks about iron age deities.

          Likewise, Dawkins is just a person who sometimes says things I agree with and who sometimes suffers from foot-in-mouth disease.

          The amazing thing about truth is that it remains true no matter who knows about it and who believes it. Evolution has been happening for as long as life existed on earth, and will continue as long as life exists. Evolution was true before humans existed to discover it.

          Christians don’t understand why the lies they tell about “death bed conversions” are absurd. Lady Hope lied about Darwin becoming a christian on his death bed. This was offensive and unfair to Darwin’s family. But it has no impact on evolution. Darwin could have recanted every word and become a mormon missionary to the vatican and every piece of the evidence supporting evolution would still exist.

        • Priya Lynn

          “The Atheists on this thread reject what their own Atheist academics write !!”.

          So you’re saying we ought to agree with an academic because she is an atheist.

          But you’ve been repeatedly insisting you can’t get an ought from an is. You keep contradicting yourself and yet absurdly ask us to accept you as an authority – in a one word response, “NO”.

        • Objective morality isn’t necessary to be outraged by murder or to demand justice.

          Dumbass.

        • Questioning54

          The source of your objective morality is a God who instructs people to commit genocide, to kill people who commit adultery (unless you are a king then your baby dies instead) etc etc etc.

        • Pofarmer

          Of course not.

        • Glad2BGodless

          He thinks if he just keeps shooting seltzer down his pants, we won’t notice his floppy red shoes. The more we talk about his shoes, the more desperately he squirts his seltzer bottle.

        • MR

          Insulting people like this demonstrates that you don’t live your life as if you believe in an objective morality. You undermine your own claim, dumb ass.

        • Craig

          I take pleasure in insulting people who are willingly ignorant and dishonest.

          Why ought I waste my time on this planet with time wasters and trolls?

          Everyone lives at though somethings are objectively wrong. Everyday I hear the news… someone is seeking justice over what someone else has done to them and their family. They believe that what was done was wrong – objectively wrong.

        • MR

          Again. It demonstrates you don’t believe your own lie.

        • Priya Lynn

          “They believe that what was done was wrong – objectively wrong.”.

          No, they believe what was done is wrong based on their own beliefs and the beliefs of many others who agree with tthem.

        • Uh, no. You’re wasting ours.

          Get useful or get banned.

        • Michael Neville

          You’re back to using terms that you haven’t defined YET in spite of repeated requests to do so. Why should we take you seriously when your position is so abstruse that you can’t even explain it to yourself?

        • Priya Lynn

          You keep pointing out the cruelty and injustice in nature but you ignore the loving, caring, nurturing and pursuit of fairness that also exists in nature by pretending it doesn’t exist.. We are a part of nature. The very basis of your argumentation is based on a fallacy.

        • MR

          I am after moral prescription

          Then I suggest you try religion. Reality doesn’t require it.

        • Craig

          Reality does not require that rape and murder are wrong. Tagging them or labelling them as wrong does not mean that they are wrong.

        • MR

          Objectively wrong. I agree. They are subjectively wrong to humans, which is what matters to humans.

        • Craig

          It is just too bad for you that there are many humans that will rape and murder other human beings because for them it is right to do and in line with what they prefer. Thos actions are not wrong. Labelling them as wrong does not mean that they are wrong.

        • MR

          Hey, Bob, this douche is still playing games. Can we please bring down the ban hammer?

        • Done

        • You’ve had your chance, but you’re just a waste of space. You’re done.

        • Michael Neville

          I doubt Craig has taken much time to learn about the intricacies of human behavior, especially if he thinks it’s government by an outside source.

        • Lark62

          Or anything else.

        • Glad2BGodless

          If ifs and oughts were ones and naughts, we’d all have a Ruby Christmas.

        • Joe

          believes and does is just evolutionary programming.

          “Just”? There’s more to life than just evolution.

          There is No “The Best Life” to live on your position

          Or yours.

        • Priya Lynn

          “There is No “The Best Life” to live on your position. There can’t be
          because it is all evolutionary programming.”.

          Nonsense. There is a best possible world where we maximize the benefit and minimize the negative for all in an equal fashion. More people can agree to this than any other moral philosophy because our lives are made better by cooperating and worse by fighting.

          “Nor can’t there be any
          right or wrong independent of your preferences.”.

          Of course there is no right or wrong independent of people to be concerned about it.

        • eric

          There is No “The Best Life” to live on your position.

          Wrong! Conan! What is best in life?

          Conan: To crush your enemies. See them driven before you. And to hear the lamentations of their women.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          If you were consistent with your position of evolutionary programming, then you would understand that anything that anyone says, believes and does is just evolutionary programming.

          How does acknowledging beliefs can be traced to evolutionary biological programming stop me from passing judgement against them?

          If our goal is to live peaceful, productive lives and we can show that some beliefs/actions foster that goal better than others, how are they not “better” even without an objective standard?

        • Lark62

          Hey Bob,

          While Craig is amusing (in a sick way) and has spurred interesting discussion, he has stopped pretending to have anything to say. He is starting to sound like a toddler trying figure out how many times he can say “dumbass” before he gets a timeout. It might be time to let him get his wish.

        • Thanks for the suggestion.

        • Kevin K

          These types seem to be all about just how long they can last before the moderators run out of patience.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          But we live as if we do have ponies and cake, so clearly we must!

        • Tell you what: you bring a useful discussion to the table and I won’t ban you. How does that sound? As it is, this conversation is going nowhere.

        • eric

          Ah, but without an objective criteria for using your banhammer, how can you rationally make a decision on who to ban? You can’t! Clearly you have fallen in to Craig’s trap: by asserting someone is ban worthy, you tacitly accept the notion that must be an objective property of banworthiness.

          Personally, I’m pretty sure that’s right, and that we even have a banworthinessometer. It’s called the nose.

          🙂

        • Omigooness! Now I know what a dog chasing its tail feels like. I’m crushed by the weight of Craig’s unavoidable logic!

          Or maybe the weight is Craig’s bullshit. Yeah, I think that’s it.

      • Clint W. (Thought2Much)

        Wait a minute… this Craig guy is claiming to be a quadruple doctorate? I haven’t many of his comments, but did he actually say that?

        AH-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!!!!!!

        • Nope–that was me. I was so impressed by his “I took Philosophy at University” and his general demeanor of intelligence that that was just an extrapolation by me. But based on his comments, I think you’ll forgive me for concluding that.

        • Clint W. (Thought2Much)

          Ah, I see, thanks. Yes, the Dunning-Kruger is strong with this one.

    • eric

      You can’t get an ought from an is.

      A good generalization (though I tend to think that it is impossible not to do it at all). But so what? This is irrelevant to the question of whether an objective morality exists. As I said further down-thread, pointing out the upsetting consequences of subjectivism is not evidence for objectivism; it could just mean the universe operates in a way that is psychologically upsetting to many humans. A 4.-5 billion year old Earth is upsetting to many humans; that doesn’t make the Earth young. Relativity is upsetting to some humans; that doesn’t make it untrue. Likewise, ‘morality is subjective’ may be upsetting to you, but that doesn’t mean there must be an objective morality out there.

      You can’t get an ought from an is. You also can’t get to “not A” from “I don’t like what A implies.”

      • Craig

        Do you live your life as though certain actions are not right or wrong ?

        No. I would suspect not. If someone broke into your home and murdered your family members, then you would want to say that what was done to them was wrong – really wrong – universally wrong and that people ought NOT to go around murdering other people.

        You would seek for justice. You would be appealing to an objective standard of right and wrong and justice. This is not possible on pure subjectivism because nothing is universally wrong on pure subjectivism.

        • eric

          I don’t have to assert or prove that someone else’s action is “universally wrong” before I oppose it. I can oppose it based on my subjective values, goals, the context, and so on.

          You are simply arguing from incredulity again – pointing out the problems with subjective morality. Yes it’s subjective. Yes it means there is no objective basis for our moral assertions. I agree. What you seem to be missing is that these flaws do not logically imply there is an objective morality. Subjectivism has all the problems and flaws you think it does – and yet, it may be the only thing available. If you think otherwise, it is up to you to provide evidence of an objective morality. But pointing out the flaws in subjectivism isn’t that.

        • Craig

          Buddy I understand exactly where you are coming from… BUT too bad for you because on your position nothing can be universally wrong but only subjectively wrong [ in relation to ] what you prefer.

          If someone murders a member of your family and gets away with it then it is just hard luck for you because they did what they most preferred and it was right for them.

          NOW.. that does NOT prove that there is an objective moral right and wrong BUT it is more in line with our moral experience to think that there is. It is more plausible in relation to how we think and live that that there is.

        • eric

          Buddy I understand exactly where you are coming from… BUT too bad for because on your position nothing can be universally wrong but only subjectively wrong [ in relation to ] what you prefer.

          Yes, you have this bad habit of repeating what subjectivism is ad nauseum. As if repeating what it is will change anyone’s mind. We get it. We really do. We understand the consequences. They are not an argument in favor of objectivism, so why do you keep repeating them?

          that does NOT prove that there is an objective moral right and wrong BUT it is more in line with our moral experience to think that there is. It is more plausible in relation to how we think and live that that there is.

          No, it’s fully in line with me being a social animal that wants/has an instinct to impose my preferred social order on others. Trying to impose on them the order I think is “best” (a subjective call) based on my experience, cultural values and so on. It is a lousy philosophical argument to claim “humans act as if their preferences are objective, therefore it is plausible that they are.” If I talk to my plant, does that mean you now consider it plausible that my plant can understand me? No. You would want separate independent evidence and argument about plant-sentience before accepting that, right? Well, the situation here is analogous. I want your separate, independent evidence and argument for objective morality before accepting such a thing exists. The philosophical equivalent of “well eric, you talk to your plant, don’t you?” doesn’t cut it. “Well eric, you behave as if stealing is objectively wrong, don’t you?” doesn’t cut it, because it’s exactly the same (il)logic.

          I’d also challenge your evaluation of the evidence. Subjectivism is IMO more consistent with the variance we see in human morality across time and culture than objectivism is. It’s IMO more consistent with multiple human groups making contradictory claims about what this objective morality is or states.

        • Craig

          I don’t give a rat’s ass if you are a social animal. On your position, none of that prohibits a Stalin or a Hitler or a Kim Jong-un from wiping you and others out in line with what they prefer. It would be right for them to do that.

        • eric

          So, back to incredulity again. That’s basically all you’ve got, isn’t it? “The consequences of subjectivism sucks” is your whole argument.

        • Craig

          No one lives as though it is all about subjective preferences. If that was the case, there would be nothing really wrong with North Korea bombing you. It would be right for them to do that and in line with what they prefer.

          People don’t normally live like that. People do think that some actions are just wrong – really wrong.

        • eric

          No one lives as though it is all about subjective preferences.

          Again, this is not evidence of an objective morality. It is certainly not evidence of any specific objective morality, given that several hundred years ago we could’ve easily pointed out that ‘no one lives as though slavery is immoral.’

          But you’re wrong on the fundamental point, because yes we often do live as though many of our moral beliefs are subjective. If I visit Australia, I’m not going to march on Canberra or run down the street yelling “shame, shame on
          you!” because they have brothels. I’m perfectly happy in my visit to treat the question of whether selling sex for money is acceptable as a subjective, cultural one.

          It’s much more correct to say: no one lives as though every single human being on the planet’s subjective preferences, on every issue, are to be given equal weight. Because that attitude is practically impossible to live by. It would first be impossible to collect all that information, and it would second be impossible to act at all if one were to give equal priority to contradictory moral assertions. You’d just end up with a form of philosophical paralysis. So I don’t (give all opinions equal weight). And you’d be right to say, nobody does. In my local life I – generally, as rule of thumb, but not always – give my morals and the morals of the community I live in higher weight. I give the morals of people far away from me in time and social network less weight. Is that objectively, philosophically justified? No. Is it practically justified? Yes. I couldn’t make any moral decisions at all if I didn’t rack and stack contradictory moral claims made by different people, including myself. But life forces me to make such decisions, so I must rack and stack.

          People do think that some actions are just wrong – really wrong.

          This is not evidence that there is some objective quality of wrongness. Moreover, you ignore the fact that people differ on what actions they consider to be ‘just wrong – really wrong.’ That differing is evidence that undermines the claim of objectivity.

        • Craig

          You are not going deep enough. None of you are.

        • eric

          What’s your deep evidence of a set of objective moral principles?

          Is “If any one take a male or female slave of the court, or a male or female slave of a freed man, outside the city gates, he shall be put to death.” a morally objectively true principle?

          How about “If a son strikes his father, his hands shall be hewn off?”

          Those are two of the oldest physically recorded moral principles followed by humans. They have historical priority over anything your or I would assert.

        • Michael Neville

          So what’s your evidence that objective morality exists. I don’t want arguments against subjective morality, I want YOU to provide evidence to support your positive claim that objective morality is a real thing. Your opinion that you find objective morality more appealing isn’t evidence.

        • MR

          Read: “You guys haven’t drunk the Kool-Aid like I have.”

        • Craig

          If I have drunk kool-Aid and you have not, then you on your position it will still end up all the same. Namely, that all life ends at the grave regardless of what you believe and do in life.

          Atheists “presuppose” or “assume” it matters what one believes and does.

        • MR

          Subjectively, yes. That’s good enough for me. Mature adults can handle reality.

        • Craig

          It still all ends up the same on your position.

        • MR

          And?

        • Craig

          And it must suck for people like you because nothing anyone thinks, says, and does in this life will change the final result. Everyone gets the same result. Namely, dead and in the grave.

        • Otto