Science and Christianity: A Dangerous Mixture

Science and Christianity: A Dangerous Mixture November 14, 2018

What is the overlap between science and Christianity? Let’s contrast an old-school theologian’s approach to science with what passes for an honest following of the scientific evidence today.

Old school approach

Georges Lemaître, a Roman Catholic priest and cosmologist, suggested that the universe is expanding before there was any measurement of it, and he proposed what became the Big Bang theory. Years later, in 1951, the pope celebrated the Big Bang as scientific support for God’s declaration in Genesis, “Let there be light.” Science was providing evidence for Christianity!

Lemaître soon corrected the pope, so the story goes, arguing that it’s unwise for Christians to mix science and religion. He was making a “live by the sword, die by the sword” argument: if you embrace science when it can be used to point to God, consistency demands you also admit every place where science argues against God. These would be, for example, where science provides natural explanations well supported by evidence that make God unnecessary. Scientific conclusions can change, he argued, so don’t imagine that a pleasing result is immoveable granite on which you can build your Christian worldview.

Modern apologists

Evangelical apologists like William Lane Craig, Lee Strobel, Frank Turek, and more apparently didn’t get the memo. Unconcerned about the consequences, they eagerly point to science-based arguments like the Kalam Cosmological Argument, the Design Argument, and the Fine-Tuning Argument. The last thing they would do is say, “If you show my scientific claims to be false, then I will no longer believe.” (They don’t even say, “If you show my scientific claims to be false, I won’t use them anymore”!) For them, scientific claims are, like Donald Trump’s associates, celebrated when useful and discarded like a used tissue when not.

Lemaître said that a scientific foundation demands a commitment. If a scientific conclusion were a part of his religious foundation, then his faith should be shaken if that conclusion were overturned. His solution: don’t make it part of your foundation. Contrast that with modern apologists’ solution, which is to discard any no-longer-helpful foundational claims and hope no one notices. In fact, the science never was part of the foundation of their beliefs—their foundation is unfalsifiable. They just trot the science out and hope that someone else would make it part of their foundation.

I see two possibilities. One is that these modern apologists agree with Lemaître that these scientific arguments shouldn’t support their own Christian belief (despite pushing those arguments on others). The other possibility is that there’s some cognitive dissonance in which they simultaneously take support from the scientific arguments while making their own faith unshakable if those arguments later fail.

Lemaître was consistent—these arguments didn’t support his faith, and he discouraged anyone from pushing them on others. Ah, for the old days. . . .

Consistency for apologists?

Apologists throw puzzles at atheists like “What caused abiogenesis?” or “What caused the Big Bang?” or “How can you explain the fine tuning of the universe?” Scientists have tentative answers (such as “We have intriguing ideas but nothing definite,” “Quantum events like the Big Bang don’t need causes,” and “The multiverse,” respectively), and when the consensus becomes strong enough, the apologists will ignore those puzzles and look for more. But being an apologist means never having to say you’re sorry, and they never let evidence against their position ruin their day. Their belief is unfalsifiable, and they have a secret weapon: cherry picking the scientific evidence to support their preconception.

As science pushes into new frontiers, there will always be new questions, but then their position becomes, “Science has unanswered questions; therefore, God.”

If Lemaître refused to support his faith with scientific arguments, I don’t know if he relied instead on nonscientific arguments like “the Bible has many manuscript copies” or “the resurrection is supported by much historical evidence” or the Shroud of Turin. I’m guessing not since historic evidence could be undercut just like scientific evidence (for example, by the argument that Mormonism makes a far better historic case than Christianity). Comparing him to modern evangelicals, Lemaître would look like a quaint throwback, though one who was gratifyingly consistent.

I wouldn’t find a faith-only argument compelling, but then the science-based arguments aren’t compelling either, especially when apologists make clear that they don’t build their own faith on them. If they don’t, why should I?

Science is a harsh mistress, and Lemaître was careful to stay on her good side. Evangelical apologists want to turn her into a prostitute.

See also:

As far as I can see, such a theory [as the Big Bang] remains
entirely outside any metaphysical or religious question.
It leaves the materialist free to deny any transcendental Being.
— Father Georges Lemaître, originator of Big Bang idea

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Image from Jayson Hinrichsen, CC license
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  • Herald Newman

    Evangelical apologists like William Lane Craig, Lee Strobel, Frank Turek, and more apparently didn’t get the memo. Unconcerned about the
    consequences, they eagerly point to science-based arguments like the Kalam Cosmological Argument.

    Apologists throw puzzles at atheists like … “What caused the Big Bang?”

    I dunno what caused the Big Bang, and what’s more is that I don’t even know if this question is even meaningful, as our understanding of causation likely doesn’t apply to such a situation.

    What’s really puzzling to me is why Christian apologists continue to throw out the Kalam, as if it is a good argument for God, when in fact the argument says absolutely nothing about God. You have to throw in additional, very dubious, premises in order to get to God from the initial conclusion, and this assumes that you accept the initial premises of the argument.

    I think if I had a dollar for every time some religious windbag tried to convince me of God using the Kalam, I’d probably be able to retire.

    • Kevin K

      I like to point out that “What caused the Big Bang” is a science question, and not a religious question, and it would be best for people to stay within their areas of expertise. Not that anyone listens to me, but that’s what I point out.

      • Herald Newman

        I say pretty much the same thing. I’m told it’s philosophy question, and that philosophy says that God is the cause.

        If philosophy did the same kind of hard work that scientists have to do, in order to justify their conclusions, I might be able to stand behind this. Instead, they come to their conclusion and expect everyone to just accept it as if it’s now a proven fact that the Big Bang was caused by God.

        Edited for grammar.

        • Kevin K

          How in no-God’s name did cosmology become a philosophy question? (I couldn’t even type it correctly the first time, that’s how odd that is.).

        • Herald Newman

          I couldn’t get my hands away from my face to ask the question.

        • Greg G.

          Cosmology kept running into dead ends when it was a philosophy question, so they didn’t get much progress. Making it a religious question made it worse. When they started using science, they came up with better answers which led to better questions. The progress accelerated when they stopped asking religious questions about it.

        • epeeist

          Lots of things started off within philosophy before there was traction enough to move it out. If you haven’t got the capabilities in terms of observations and a good hypothesis making kit then this is fairly sensible. Once you do have then it becomes less sensible. This is currently happening in the philosophy of mind, we are only just getting the means of examining the brain in vivo rather than just in vitro.

          Philosophy may not be capable of giving you the kind of explanations that science does, but it is good at posing good questions and eliminating bad answers.

        • Pofarmer

          It seems like the bad answers that philosophy eliminates are mainly the obvious ones. It takes induction to really get things rolling.

        • wannabe

          You’re referring to theistic philosophy, not philosophy in general. Lots of philosophers don’t jump to that particular conclusion.

        • Pofarmer

          The vast majority, as it were.

      • Doubting Thomas

        I like to point out that if someone thinks they know what caused the Big Bang then they should find a way to test their idea. Most of them seem to think that just talking about it should somehow prove them right, especially if they use sciency sounding words.

    • Grimlock

      What’s really puzzling to me is why Christian apologists continue to throw out the Kalam […]

      I see a couple of good reasons for Christians to keep using it.

      1) It’s prima facie compelling. It makes sense (until you dig into it). Note that most people exposed to it (or some version of a cosmological argument) have not read or heard that much about it, and might find it compelling. Remember that apologetics is just as much about pinning up the belief of those who already believe, and most people (nonreligious and religious) aren’t motivated to dig into arguments that support what they already believe.
      2) It is allegedly based on science. Everybody loves science. If you have an argument that relies on science to back up a premise or two, then you can appeal to the authority of science.

      Apologetics isn’t, for the most part, about giving people an epistemically solid foundation for their beliefs. It’s about giving people the impression that they have an epistemically solid foundation for their beliefs.

      • Herald Newman

        Yeah, for most people there’s probably something to be said for appealing to our naive intuitions about seriously difficult questions.

    • They were actually trying to convince you of the Flying Spaghetti Monster all along.

  • Kevin K

    I’m in the middle of a conversation on a different forum with a guy who is trying to reconcile the Genesis story with the actual science. It is not going well for him. But he’s game and keeps on fighting.

    • Grimlock

      Out of curiosity, is he quoting John Lennox? I frequently see him cited in that context.

    • ThaneOfDrones

      Whales created before land animals? I’m not buying that.

      • Kevin K

        Worse than that. He keeps trying to shoehorn the formation of earth prior to the formation of stars.

        • Have him rationalize the idea of stars falling to earth (several places in the Bible).

        • Cozmo the Magician

          How does this idiot react to the LIVE CAMERA FEEDS from the ISS? They PROVE the Earth is not flat. That in and of itself demolishes genesis.

        • I Came To Bring The Paine

          For some reasons, Flat Earthers believe that a round earth is a NASA conspiracy. They totally ignore the fact that a round Earth was proven before humans ever flew planes, much less flew rockets.

        • Cozmo the Magician

          I’ve met a few. And I always ask them “What possible reason would NASA have to pull of such a conspiracy?” ***CRICKETS*** Or some shit about that is how they keep their budget.

        • Otto

          The Russians would have to be in on it, as well as the Chinese, and of course all of the European nations…makes no sense.

        • Greg G.

          I believe the moon landing is a NASA hoax but that Armstrong and Aldrin were such perfectionists, they insisted on filming the hoax on location.

          (I stole that from Facebook.)

        • TheBookOfDavid

          Hee! Reminds me of the closing credits of this classic.

        • Grimlock

          You’ve seen this, yeah?

          https://xkcd.com/1074/

        • Clint W. (Thought2Much)

          They actually recruited Stanley Kubrick to fake the moon landings, and he was the one who was such a stickler for detail that he insisted they film on location.

        • Taneli Huuskonen

          Heck, do the Flat Earthers think timezones and the midnight sun are hoaxes? If so, how come no travelers expose them? If not, how do they explain the fact that the Sun is below the horizon at one location and above it somewhere else?

    • epeeist

      Not another presuppositionalist?

  • Grimlock

    It seems to me that this is not so much a comparison between old style and new style, but a comparison between apologetics and academics.

    I’m always delighted when I run across a Christian academic. They usually have useful things to say. Apologists, not so much.

    (I realize there’s an tendency towards a True Scotsman fallacy here, but I tend to differentiate the two things precisely based on the level of intellectual honesty involved.)

    […] they eagerly point to science-based argument […]

    Shouldn’t the word “allegedly” be in there somewhere?

  • Grimlock

    Speaking of the Kalam, there are a couple of things that baffles me about the “scientific” part of it.

    Consider the main part of the argument:
    1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause for its existence.
    2. The universe began to exist.
    3. The universe has a cause for its existence.

    What is “the universe”? In defenses of the Kalam, when justifying (2), the universe is the observerable universe that has been expanding from a dense, hot state for about 13.7 billion years. However, in (3), the universe is all physical stuff.

    Now hold on for a second. Our epistemic limits go back to this hot and dense state of the observable universe. But why think that our current epistemic boundaries constitutes all that is of physical stuff? That sounds a bit too much like an extreme version of scientism.

    So henceforth, I encourage everyone who encounters an apologist who defends the Kalam to accuse them of that most terrible of sins, scientism. Then sit back and chuckle to yourself.

    The second thing that baffles me about the Kalam is this. You are all familiar with the idea that the universe sprang forth from “nothing”, a quantum vacuum where there is no matter and no space/extension. Apologists really like beating up on how this isn’t nothing, as there are still quantum fields and whatnot.

    Okay, fine, let’s go with that.

    Here’s a less known part of the Kalam. It’s a supporting argument, and are summarized by Wes Morriston ( http://stripe.colorado.edu/~morristo/kalam-not.pdf ) as this,

    a. According to the big bang theory, the universe was
    created out of an infinitely dense particle.
    b. There can be no object having infinite density.
    c. So “infinite density” is synonymous with “nothing.”
    d. Therefore, the big bang theory entails that the universe
    was created out of nothing.

    Say what now? Something with infinite density (so no space/extension, but definitely with matter) qualifies as nothing, but quantum vacuum does not?

    Uh. No. No, I don’t quite buy into that.

    • Apologists really like beating up on how this isn’t nothing, as there are still quantum fields and whatnot.

      The oddest response of this sort that I saw was WLC (I think) scolding cosmologists that this “nothing” wasn’t nothing, and what we should be looking at is actually nothing (no time, no space, no matter or energy, no fields or quantum vacuum, etc.). He called this the philosophers’ nothing, as if philosophers can help out cosmologists working at the frontier of science.

      • epeeist

        Strangely enough I am with WLC with this, there is (supposedly) a difference between physical nothing and metaphysical nothing. However try and get people like WLC to say what the difference is, what they mean by metaphysical nothing and whether this ever obtained and all you get are crickets.

        • There is indeed a difference. My complaint is (1) his using “the philosopher’s nothing” for just “nothing,” as if he’s bringing something special to the conversation (I think we understand “nothing,” thank you Dr. Craig) and (2) his pretending that what came before the Big Bang (ignoring the nonsensical nature of that idea) was absolutely nothing. He needs evidence for such a claim.

          And while we’re at it, he needs evidence that God created out of absolutely nothing.

        • Grimlock

          […] his pretending that what came before the Big Bang (ignoring the nonsensical nature of that idea) was absolutely nothing. He needs evidence for such a claim.

          If you mean that it’s a nonsensical idea that something came before the Big Bang, I don’t think that’s necessarily nonsense. Though I guess it depends a bit on how one construes “before”…

          As for justifying his claim, one such way that he has done so in the past (and might still be doing) is something I noted in another comment. He relies on the singularity model of the Big Bang, and then proceeds to argue that the initial singularity has infinite mass, which is the same as nothing.

          At which point it’s perfectly appropriate to roll one’s eyes.

        • Right–the nonsensical part is postulating a cause before time began. There’s counter-intuitive stuff at the frontier of science, but let’s at least flag when we’re asking a question that may be ill-formed.

        • Grimlock

          Agreed!

        • epeeist

          I think we understand “nothing,” thank you Dr. Craig

          I don’t think we do. Start with “something”, what do you need to take away in order to produce “nothing”? Energy/matter and space-time are the easy ones. Things like fields and the quantum vacuum are slightly more tricky.

          Platonists (amongst whom would be Roger Penrose) would claim that things such as logic and mathematics are real (if not the only real). Should we get rid of those? For someone like Aristotle truth and falsity refer to statements about facts, but facts “are part of the furniture of the world”. Given that we have removed the world then presumably have removed facts, so what can “true” and “false” refer to? Surely we should remove such notions as well?

          If we don’t have true or false then what can one say about the statement ex nihilo nihil fit?

          “Nothing” is a lot more difficult than it seems, which is one of the reasons that the likes of WLC avoid defining their terms.

        • Helpful clarifications. By saying that WLC wasn’t adding any powerful philosophical notions to the problem, I was imagining him saying, “Ah, but what about X? You’ve still got X, and you can’t have that if you claim you’ve got nothing.” That’s his contribution, and he adds nothing.

          Your point, as I see it, is that deciding on the plausible X’s that could be (or can’t be) removed is the difficult part. Vacuum energy? Logic? And so on. Must they be removed? Can they be removed?

          Agreed! But WLC doesn’t contribute to this part of the problem.

        • Doubting Thomas

          Another problem with WLC’s version of nothing is that it should entail no rules governing it. Then WLC will turn around and tell us exactly what his nothing can’t do (“Something can’t come from nothing.”), not realizing he’s making rules for his version of nothing.

        • epeeist

          Another problem with WLC’s version of nothing is that it should entail no rules governing it.

          Yes, this is essentially what I was intimating. I think it is one the reasons WLC and others who use the argument deliberately avoid defining their terms.

      • Jim Jones

        It seems to be a reliable rule; that if you add philosophy and religion together the result is always bullshit.

        I don’t seem to have found a counter example yet.

        • Reminds me of an observation by @disqus_a9H6kflDom:disqus who said that a souffle can be made with the finest eggs and cheese and truffles, but if it has just one cockroach, it is a cockroach souffle.

        • Cozmo the Magician

          Oh , you have eaten at that diner too?

        • Except for the part about using the finest truffles, yes.

        • Cozmo the Magician

          TBO, I have never eaten truffles. WTF are they?

        • epeeist

          WTF are they?

          Utterly delicious. Also extremely difficult to get hold of.

        • They’re a hard-to-find fungus that lives on oak tree roots. Think fragrant mushrooms.

        • Cozmo the Magician

          ohhh SHROOMS… Ive had SHROOMS.. Loved living in Oregon in the fall. Practically trip over them everywhere. Fun stuff. Oh wait, you talking about a different type of shroom. NVM.

        • Cozmo the Magician

          Any sufficiently advanced form of philosophy looks just like PURE BULLSHIT. (sorry Clark.. I had to do it)

        • Grimlock

          Philosophy and religion combine to form bullshit? Two abstract concepts combine to form matter?

          I guess that explains how god created the matter of the universe.

      • eric

        As far as I can tell, both scientists and theologians generally work backwards only to rules-governed nothings. If one considers rules to be things, then neither is working with a ‘philosopher’s nothing.’ The difference being that scientists derive their rules from empirical evidence as best they can, while Christian theologians baldly assert that (a) the system of ‘Nothing + a God outside of it’ doesn’t count as a something, and (b) other somethings couldn’t come from this original Nothing except in the case of the power of God. IMO science is on the stronger footing in that comparison.

        Now, if one wants to try and conceptualize a nothing that is not rules governed, then I think science is on stronger footing there too. Because without rules governing the original nothing, there can be no conservation law, law of causation, or other rule preventing something spontaneously arising in it.

      • Otto

        Philosophical nothing in incoherent, as soon as you start trying to describe it you are describing something, and something is not nothing.

      • Joe

        as if philosophers can help out cosmologists working at the frontier of science.

        They can help. By sticking to philosophy and leaving the science to the experts.

    • If you haven’t heard of the zero-energy universe, it’s a fun idea that’ll keep you up at night. In short, the universe has zero energy–there’s negative energy (gravity) that balances out the positive energy (energy + matter).

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zero-energy_universe

      • I Came To Bring The Paine

        Zero net energy, you mean? 😉

        • Right. The hypothesis is called the Zero-Energy Universe. I guess the “net” is silent.

      • Grimlock

        Heard about it. Had forgotten about it. I really like its elegance!

    • wannabe

      Nothing is better than a good meal, but a ham sandwich is better than nothing. So a ham sandwich is better than a good meal.

      • epeeist

        No cat has eight tails;
        Every cat has one more tail than no cat;
        Therefore every cat has nine tails.

        • wannabe

          If you cut a tail off a nine-tailed cat, the result is an eight-tailed cat, thereby invalidating your first premise.

          (N.B. No cat was harmed in this philosophical exercise. No cat has one less tail than one cat.)

        • Michael Neville
        • wannabe

          Ah! The existence of Manx cats invalidates epeeist’s second premise (as well as my note).

    • RichardSRussell

      The Kalam Cosmological Argument is expressed as a syllogism, defined as “a form of reasoning in which a conclusion is drawn (whether validly or not) from two given or assumed propositions (premises), each of which shares a term with the conclusion, and shares a common or middle term not present in the conclusion (e.g., all dogs are animals; all animals have four legs; therefore all dogs have four legs)”.

      In mathematics (especially geometry), all proofs rest on axioms, defined as “a statement or proposition that is regarded as being established, accepted, or self-evidently true”.

      So premises and axioms are basically taken on faith, usually because nobody has (yet) encountered exceptions to them. But it’s a logical fallacy to believe that premises and axioms must be true. Classic example: “Thru 2 points only 1 straight line may be drawn.” Alternatives (discarded as self-evidently foolish by classical geometers): 0 lines, 2 lines, ∞ lines. Well, it turns out that, since space-time is curved, it’s the ∞ option that really works.

      Even if Step 1 of the Kalam weren’t incoherent, it would still be nothing more than a possibly erroneous assumption; and of course any conclusions drawn from a false assumption would be dubious at best.

      • epeeist

        tl;dir

        The syllogism is valid. However the premisses are not indubitable therefore it is not sound.

        • RichardSRussell

          Here’s another valid syllogism:

          (1) This square is a triangle.

          (2) All triangles are circles.

          (3) Therefore this square is a circle.

          Perfectly valid reasoning. But it starts with an absurd premise and consequently arrives at a ludicrous conclusion.

          Moral of the story: Valid logic does not always lead to correct conclusions. The premises must be subjected to independent scrutiny.

    • Kevin K

      The c part of Morriston is false. Infinite density isn’t synonymous with “nothing”; it’s quite literally the opposite of that. Infinite density would contain within it everything. This is the same type of false syllogism that allows us to conclude that Jimmy Carter is an elephant.

      1. All elephants like peanuts.
      2. Jimmy Carter likes peanuts.
      3. Therefore, Jimmy Carter is an elephant.

      • Grimlock

        Just to be clear, Morriston summarized the argument in order to criticize it.

        Infinite density isn’t synonymous with “nothing”; it’s quite literally the opposite of that. Infinite density would contain within it everything.

        This appears to be false. Density is mass divided by volume. Set the mass to some non-zero value, and then the density will approach infinity as the volume approaches zero.

        Clearly it wouldn’t contain everything.

    • Joe

      I never considered your fist objection before. Are you talking about other physical things we haven’t detected? Theists would probably assert that “God created them too”. Believers in the supernatural should be OK with there already being any number of supernatural beings just hanging around “pre-big-bang”, but again they would assert their god magically cancels out anything other than himself.

      As for part two, I agree. “Nothing” has the property of having no properties, so they have the same “problem” as quantum vacuum proponents, which isn’t really a problem as much as an observation of what might have plausibly been the case.

      • Grimlock

        With respect to the first objection, what I had in mind was that it’s quite plausible that our observable universe is a part of some bigger physical reality. What that physical reality would be, I don’t know.

        So it’s not so much an objection against the second premise, as it is an undercutter for the appeal to scientific evidence to support the second premise. If that makes sense.

        The theist will probably assert that this possible greater universe has a beginning, but they can no longer appeal to evidence for the Big Bang model to justify this.

        With respect to the second part, I agree. Though what I also had in mind is the obvious double standards applied when arguing that quantum vacuum ain’t nothing, but that on the other hand, literally infinite density is nothing.

        (Of course, double standards from apologists is nothing new.)

  • The Holy See’s standard procedure: denying new, potentially embarrassing findings as long as you can, and when evidence becomes overwhelming, just claim you’ve never really ruled it out, and you’ve also already seen how it can absolutely fit within your dogma.

    For my part, the most honest response to this came from a teacher of mine, something along the lines of Science tells us how things happen, Religion tells us why they do.

    • wannabe

      The “why” is the part that religion is particularly bad at explaining.

      • Michael Neville

        “Why” isn’t so much religion explaining as it is religion guessing.

      • They tell you there’s a “why”, if you wanna know “the how of the why” try asking those godless scientists, you evil atheist! 😀

    • I Came To Bring The Paine

      Science tells us how things happen [with evidence to back it up], Religion tells us why they do [without any evidence to back it up].

      • No need to tell you “how” they know that “why”, they aren’t heartless scientists 😀

        • Doubting Thomas

          They do if they want intelligent people to believe them.

    • Greg G.

      Religion tells us why they do.

      But all religion really tells us about “why” is “God works in mysterious ways” and shit like that.

      • They don’t need to tell you “how” they know that “why”, they aren’t scientists 😀

        • Greg G.

          Since God’s ways are not obvious, then God’s ways are obviously mysterious.

  • skl

    “Scientists have tentative answers (such as “We have
    intriguing ideas but nothing definite,” “Quantum events like the Big Bang don’t
    need causes,” and “The multiverse,”…”

    More precisely, I think these are not examples of science but rather of speculation.
    Things closer to science fiction than science.

    • Michael Neville

      So you’re saying that scientists’ tentative speculations are as reasonable as your Bible.

      • Doubting Thomas

        You have to remember that skl isn’t a Christian. He just plays one here for the sake of debate. He’s like a sock puppet with an apologist’s hand shoved up his ass.

        • Michael Neville

          I have to disagree. I think skl is a Christian pretending to be an atheist and doing it poorly. I have never seen him write anything positive about atheists or negative about Christians. I’ve seen him argue Christian positions and sneer at atheist or skeptical positions (his comment about quantum events and the multiverse being “closer to science fiction” is a prime example of such a sneer).

          It really doesn’t matter. skl can be ignored since he rarely if ever writes anything of interest.

        • Doubting Thomas

          I agree. My “skl isn’t a Christian” comment was sarcasm.

        • Michael Neville

          Sorry, my sarcasm detector is in the shop being calibrated.

      • skl

        Just calling a spade a spade.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          When your ‘bible’ makes falsifiable predictions that are nonetheless shown to be correct and useful, and are self-consistent, get back to me.

        • skl

          It’s not my ‘bible’.

        • Michael Neville

          No, you’re trying to denigrate science and promote your religion. You’re quite transparent.

    • Pofarmer

      Phones with no buttons that you could work and make calls on via an app that’s actually just on an electronic device were too advanced for even science fiction not that long ago.

      • Michael Neville

        There you go, bringing reality into a discussion of religion. Have you no shame? Can’t you see that our Christian apologist is clutching at straws in an attempt to refute science?

      • skl

        Be sure to give us a call with your phone with no buttons when you’ve
        experimented your way into one of those other universes, and tell us what it’s
        like.

        • Pofarmer

          Is this an argument from ignorance or just ignorance?

    • I Came To Bring The Paine

      Yeah! The next thing you know they’ll be speculating about “all powerful, all good, all knowing beings that reside ‘beyond time and space’ that yearn to have personal relationships with human beings on planet earth” or some other stupid nonsense!

      • skl

        I just don’t understand why people whose god is science don’t
        stick to science.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          “whose god is science”

          Where oh where did you get that silly idea?

          Science *exists*, and *works*, which is more than anybody can demonstrate for your (or any other) ‘supernatural’ ‘god’.

        • Joe

          “Where oh where did you get that silly idea?”

          I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that skl was a Jordan Peterson fanboy.

        • Joe

          Most of them do when it comes to things like serious medical conditions.

        • I Came To Bring The Paine
        • Greg G.

          I just don’t understand why people whose god is science

          That is just Christianese. Science is not a god.

          don’t stick to science.

          And why don’t pedestrians stick to walking all of the time?

        • What’s that mean? That atheists should just leave Christians alone?

          I’ll give you a chance to show us where that fails, or I can do so if you can’t.

        • skl

          It mean that “the multiverse” is not a scientific answer.

        • Greg G.

          When the conditions are right for making bubbles, it is easier to make lots of bubbles than to make only one bubble.

          When the conditions are right for making stars, it appears to be easier to have lots of stars come into existence than just one. Same for galaxies.

          The existence of one universe proves that the conditions are right for universes to come into existence. A universe that can come into existence and prevent other universes from coming into existence would be more complex than a universe that does not, so Occam’s Razor favors the less complex option which is multiple universes that cannot prevent other universes from existing.

          The limit on the number of bubbles can be the amount of liquid, soap, air, and agitation. If Alan Guth’s theory is correct (it has been around for nearly forty years and not shown to be wrong), so universes are not limited by matter, energy, or space because space and energy are equal and opposites that come from nothing.

        • skl

          We can observe the multiple bubbles,
          multiple stars, multiple galaxies.

          Let me know when Alan observes the multiple universes.

        • So then you didn’t get Greg G’s point at all? My reading was that we see myriad instances of multiples of things (bubbles, stars, galaxies, protons) and not so many where we’re limited to just the one. Therefore, having multiple universes wouldn’t be startling or unexpected.

        • skl

          “My reading was that we see myriad instances of multiples of
          things (bubbles, stars, galaxies, protons)…”

          … but we see no multiple universes.

          “… and not so many where we’re limited to just the one.”

          One of the “not so many” seems to be our life-filled planet. The one and only one we know of.

        • epeeist

          We can observe the multiple bubbles,
          multiple stars, multiple galaxies.

          Your’e not actually typing carriage returns into the combox are you?

          You missed a word in the above, “We can now observe multiple stars, multiple galaxies”. Remember that the determination that the Andromeda Nebula was extra-galactic (i.e. outside of the Milky Way) was only made in 1922.

          Now it may be that we never will be able to observe other multiverses if it is the case that they are not causally connected to us, however it may be possible to observe their formation using gravitational wave astronomy. Now when this article was written we had no way of observing gravitational waves but guess what, now we do.

          Yours post commits what Jonathan West calls the “Auguste Comte fallacy”. Around 1840 Comte claimed that we would never know the composition of stars, in 1860 Kirchhoff and Bunsen initiated the birth of stellar spectroscopy with their publication of a paper (II. Abhandlungen der Berliner Akademie, 225-240. Kirchhoff, G., and Bunsen, R., 1860. Chemische Analyse durch Spectralbeobachtungen. Annalen der Physik, 186, 161-189) giving details of spectral lines of many elements.

        • Greg G.

          Until about a hundred years ago, no other galaxies were observed. There were many observed stars but the concept of galaxies was considered. The Milky Way was thought to be the entire universe. They had no reason to infer the existence of galaxies.

          Now we can detect other galaxies and can measure the relative velocity of each to our own. We can also detect that galaxies are parts of larger structures of clusters which are parts of superclusters. The superclusters are clusters of galaxies that are gravitationally bound to one another but not to other superclusters. We can detect that the universe is expanding so the superclusters becoming more distant. We can detect that the expansion is accelerating.

          There is no limit to how fast space can expand so at some point the superclusters will be receding from one another at greater than light speed so they will no longer be visible to one another.

          If a scientifically advanced culture evolves in one of those superclusters, would it be scientific to claim their supercluster is the entire universe? They would not be able to work out the Big Bang.

          We can’t even rule out that our Big Bang didn’t happen somewhere in the gaps between the previous Big Bang’s superclusters that are traveling away at greater than light speed.

          It is unscientific to rule out possibilities that are implied by observations and models until the models are shown to be impossible.

        • skl

          You should try being a science fiction writer. You seem to be off to a good start.

        • Greg G.

          You should try being a science fiction writer.

          Thanks but I don’t think I would take career advice from someone who can’t distinguish science from fiction.

        • The multiverse is a prediction of a well-evidenced scientific theory, cosmic inflation. Sounds like a scientific answer to me–what am I missing?

        • skl

          What you’re missing is observation of multiverses.

          And until you can figure a way out of this universe, you’ll
          continue missing.

          Or as this astrophysics PhD and MV-believer admits…
          “There is information we need, but that we’ll never
          obtain
          , in order to elevate this into the realm of testable science.
          Until then, we can predict, but neither verify nor refute, the fact that our Universe is just one small part of a far grander realm: the Multiverse.”

          https://www.forbes.com/sites/startswithabang/2017/10/12/the-multiverse-is-inevitable-and-were-living-in-it/#5489351016c9

        • Then you’d better back up and define “scientific answer.” Seems to me that, being a prediction of a well-evidenced theory, the multiverse is precisely that.

        • skl

          Then you’d better back up and define
          “scientific answer.” Seems to me that, being a prediction of a
          well-evidenced theory, the multiverse is precisely that.

          I’ll back up to say that a “scientific answer” is not
          whatever comes out of scientists’ mouths, and that includes scientists’ predictions.

          When the scientists’ predictions are observed
          to be correct
          , repeatedly and without exception, then
          you have what I might call a “scientific answer.”

          Consequently, I do not see MV as a scientific answer.

          (My first use of blockquote above was a success!)

        • I do not see MV as a scientific answer.

          My interest in convincing you of anything is zero. Enjoy.

        • skl

          My interest in convincing you of anything
          is zero. Enjoy.

          Even if four responses from you in this thread constitutes ‘zero
          interest’, I’ve enjoyed it.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The penny doesn’t drop with skl that he gets the replies to his inane comments for the benefit of others.

          Perhaps a picture, drawn with crayons, might help?

        • Greg G.

          When the scientists’ predictions are observed
          to be correct, repeatedly and without exception, then
          you have what I might call a “scientific answer.”

          Do you understand the difference between a scientific hypothesis and a scientific theory? The common use of the word “theory” corresponds to a scientific hypothesis. A scientific theory is an explanation that has multiple observed confirmations of predictions it makes. There is the Theory of Gravity and the Theory of Evolution, for examples. But even scientific theories with tons of support are provisional as a more complete theory can overturn them. Newton’s theories of motion work well except at great speeds and in strong gravitational fields so Einstein’s Theory of Relativity is more complete.

          A scientific hypothesis is based on the current knowledge and observations and tries to explain things in new ways with possible observations that could be made that would show the hypothesis to be false.

          Your understanding would eliminate even scientific hypotheses, which are definitely scientific.

          There are hypotheses for a multiverse with predictions of what might be detected.

          Consequently, your objections to the multiverse are not scientific.

          (My first use of blockquote above was a success!)

          Excellent! Now see if you can get over putting line breaks into your combox and let the browser put them where they should be.

        • skl

          Consequently, your objections to the multiverse are not scientific.

          Here’s a pro-MV news piece you would probably consider scientific. Different strokes for different folks, I guess. Enjoy.

          https://www.space.com/25100-multiverse-cosmic-inflation-gravitational-waves.html

        • Greg G.

          How about that? The article quotes scientists saying what I have been explaining to you. But I didn’t get the information from that website. I simply have a passing interest in subjects like that. The information must be practically ubiquitous if I had been exposed to it so many times.

        • skl

          Yes, it’s science to you (and to “some researchers”).

          But not to me.

          Our conversation on this has now come to an end.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Bwaaaaahahahaha!!!

          You are about as useful as an ashtray on a motor bike. A waste of fucking space.

        • Greg G.

          Our conversation on this has now come to an end.

          There is a god.

        • Our conversation on this has now come to an end.

          You hear that, Greg? You pissed off skl. I hope you’re happy.

          I, for one, am.

        • Greg G.

          To quote Belushi from Animal House: It isn’t over until we say it’s over.

          (Or until he removes himself from forums I visit. It’s not like I would chase him all over the internet.)

        • Ignorant Amos

          (My first use of blockquote above was a success!)

          Not according to the notification in my inbox it wasn’t…in your first attempt you used and instead of the word blockquote between the …so you can’t even be honest about something as trivial as that ffs.

        • Greg G.

          Until then, we can predict, but neither verify nor refute, the fact that our Universe is just one small part of a far grander realm: the Multiverse.

          That part of your quote confirms exactly what Bob said.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Don’t ya just love it when they do the work for ya and shoot themselves in the foot in the process…the Dime Bar.

        • skl

          A little while ago I responded to Bob regarding what I think of predictions.

        • Greg G.

          A little while ago I responded to Bob regarding what I think of predictions.

          I know you did. It demonstrates how little you actually understand science. It’s like you learned science from some religious person who was deliberately trying to destroy your mind so you couldn’t comprehend science.

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      Nope.

      Quantum physics is what made the device you’re objecting from possible.

      • skl

        When you discover the source of the quantum and of the
        physics, you’ll really be on a roll.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Who needs the ‘source’?

          It works…unlike supernatural claims.

          And the ‘spooky action at a distance’ isn’t a postulate in quantum physics, it’s a *result* of self-consistent data.

    • Doubting Thomas

      In science they don’t call them speculation. They call them hypotheses. Then they try to test them to see if they’re actually right.

      Let me know when you find a religious person trying to test their god hypothesis.

      • skl

        Let me know when you find a scientist trying to test their multiverse hypothesis.

        • Doubting Thomas
        • skl

          Allow me to be more specific:
          Let me know when you find a scientist successfully testing for the existence of multiverses, and who has that testing successfully
          confirmed and replicated
          by other scientists.

          Have fun with your bubbles.

        • Doubting Thomas

          Or to slightly rephrase what you said:
          “I feel like a dumb ass since I called someone out for something I thought they couldn’t produce when actually a 10 second google search would easily prove me wrong and now I look like an idiot so I’m going to move the goalposts to try to save face.”

        • skl

          Have fun with your bubbles.
          Next you can try fairy tales.

        • Doubting Thomas

          Impressive retort.

          I know you’re not really a Christian (winky, winky), but you sure do act as dumb and immature as some of them do. You should try harder to not be a Christian.

        • rubellapox2

          Haaaaa…

        • Ignorant Amos

          That Dime Bar skl has a big habit of doing that “look like an idiot” thing…does it all the time.

        • Joe

          Will you try and dodge that conclusion too?

        • Otto

          Got your ass handed to you on that one.

          Dumb ass

        • I Came To Bring The Paine
        • skl

          The girls are moving the goal to another field for a different game – where you “score” by hypothesizing about scoring.

    • Rudy R

      And god magic isn’t science fiction?

    • epeeist

      More precisely, I think these are not examples of science but rather of speculation.

      Are they or are they not based on well known, well evidenced science?

      • skl

        Well known/evidenced science fiction.
        Although, that depends partly on the meaning of “well.”

        I’d think “well” would mean overwhelming. That may not apply on subjects where you read something like “some researchers say”, for example in
        https://www.space.com/25100-multiverse-cosmic-inflation-gravitational-waves.html

        • epeeist

          I had thought of saying that you don’t understand the way science works, but then I realised who I was responding to and realised this was superfluous.

          The “well evidenced” science that inflation is based upon are the theories of general relativity and quantum mechanics.

          where you read something like “some researchers say”

          To repeat what I said above, you have no clue as to the way science at the bleeding edge works. At this stage of the game there will be multiple, competing hypotheses. Ones that do not save the appearances will be winnowed out first followed by those that do not survive testing. Just look at any history of modern science, or even science from the time of Copernicus to see this in action.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I had thought of saying that you don’t understand the way science works, but then I realised who I was responding to and realised this was superfluous.

          Ah yes, the faux know nothing atheist…but if skl should actually turn out to be a genuine non-believer, and I’ve no reason to believe that will be the case, it just means that even atheists can be dopey cunts. Embarrassing as that is to the rest of us, we’ll just have to suck it up a suppose.

        • Clint W. (Thought2Much)

          As I’ve seen it put elsewhere, atheism is only the answer to a single question. Even if skl is actually an atheist or a non-believer of some sort (yeah, right, pull the other one, why dontcha?), that still means everything he’s been wrong about pretty much every damn thing but that.

        • The “well evidenced” science that inflation is based upon are the theories of general relativity and quantum mechanics.

          But inflation itself is well evidence, too, isn’t it?

        • epeeist

          But inflation itself is well evidence, too, isn’t it?

          Not my field so I had to go away and do some reading, even then don’t take this as authoritative.

          It is fairly well accepted as a mechanism, though there are dissenters. I have named some of these in my response to skl. Paul Steinhardt would be another one to add to the list.

          I would take a slightly different tack to these, who mostly seem to argue that it is either not parsimonious or has so many tunable parameters it can fit just about anything.

          If I was to make an objection it is that is a mechanism, it simply saves the appearances without providing unification or testable predictions. To use an example consider the calculation of the position and orbits of the planets using Ptolemy’s methodology. This works for the data that we have but each planet has its own set of parameters and the method doesn’t predict the existence of new planets. If any are found there is no way to determine what the eccentrics, deferents, epicycles, and equants would be except by post hoc measurement.

        • The Ptolemy comparison is helpful, thanks.

          I was thinking of articles like this one that make the inflation/multiverse connection.

          The first direct evidence of cosmic inflation — a period of rapid expansion that occurred a fraction of a second after the Big Bang — also supports the idea that our universe is just one of many out there, some researchers say.

          https://www.space.com/25100-multiverse-cosmic-inflation-gravitational-waves.html

        • epeeist

          You can use a metaphysical principle to argue for the existence of a multiverse, namely the principle of mediocrity. This states that there are no special observers. Thus we have gradually become aware that the earth is nothing special as location, neither is the sun, the galaxy, the super-cluster…

          So why should the universe be at all special?

        • skl

          To repeat what I said above, you have no clue as to the way science at the bleeding edge works.

          The bleeding edge. Like the concerning “cutting edge” here
          https://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/07/opinion/a-crisis-at-the-edge-of-physics.html

          For more on where science may be going to die, try Googling “theoretical physics is in crisis”.

          I feel our conversation has come to an end.

        • Ignorant Amos

          What is it you think your NY Times article demonstrates ya dumb fuck?

          I feel our conversation has come to an end.

          Before you actually get yer arse handed to you by…ya know, an actual physicist.

        • epeeist

          The bleeding edge. Like the concerning “cutting edge” here
          https://www.nytimes.com/201

          You still seem to be putting carriage returns in comboxes.

          I find it interesting that your claim that “theoretical physics is in crisis” is based on an opinion piece in a newspaper and behind a paywall.

          For more on where science may be going to die, try Googling “theoretical physics is in crisis”.

          And even more amusing that the limits of your “research” on the topic is based upon a Google search.

          You could of course have referenced the writing of people like Lee Smolin, Peter Woit or Jim Baggott,all of whom have reservations about the way that physics is developing at the moment. However none of this provides any rebuttal to the fact that science develops by making hypotheses to try and explain phenomena and initially there will be multiple, competing hypotheses and these will be based on well known and well accepted science.

          I feel our conversation has come to an end.

          Well given that you made a move straight out of the creationist playbook I don’t think it ever really started.

          (Yeah, yeah, I know. You aren’t a believer and you aren’t a creationist. But if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck and walks like a duck…)

  • Michael Neville

    Thomas Aquinas, who’s been described as the finest mind ever wasted, came up with five “proofs of God”, four of which are cosmological. Richard Swinburne argued that these arguments are only strong when collected together, individually each of them is weak. Even if one accepts every single one of Aquinas’ premises, he only manages to show that a deist deity exists, as opposed to the specifically Christian God. Besides that bit of special pleading, Aquinas argues that the cause of the universe must be something or someone existing outside the universe. He implies any time we don’t know the cause it must be God, and then carves out an exception to the supposed rule that everything needs a cause.

    • Aquinas from the 12th century? That’s cheating–you’re bringing in a ringer! Science just can’t compete.

    • I Came To Bring The Paine

      Even if one accepts every single one of Aquinas’ premises, he only
      manages to show that a deist deity exists, as opposed to the
      specifically Christian God.

      Of course since Aquinas based his arguments on the musings of a pre-Christian, pagan Greek philosopher named Aristotle.

      I once accused Thomists of being closet pagans using Catholicism as a beard. It hit too close to home with them because they banned me from their site.

      • Otto

        I know the minimum of Thomism, what about it makes it like paganism?

        • Michael Neville

          Aquinas adopted Aristotle’s analysis of physical objects; his view of place, time and motion; proof of the prime mover, his cosmology. Aquinas made his own Aristotle’s account of sense perception and intellectual knowledge. Aquinas’ moral philosophy is closely based on what he learned from Aristotle. Because of Aquinas Aristotle became the Catholic Church’s scientific authority. Galileo was brought before the Inquisition in part because he disagreed with Aristotle.

        • Aristotle also said that there were multiple first movers, isn’t that so? Plus he proclaimed the universe was eternal.

        • Kevin K

          He also declared that everything was made from 4 elements — earth, fire, water, and air.

          Philosophy owes him a debt, because he seems to be one of the first empiricists … but virtually every empirical conclusion he made was wrong.

          Theology owes him a debt, because he seems to be one of the first apologists … but he based most of his apologetics on empirical conclusions that have been proven wrong.

        • Hmm, but I thought he claimed form and matter were separate things?

          I don’t blame him for being wrong, but they should know better.

        • Kevin K

          Pretty sure that’s Plato. There exists an “ideal” form of everything. That’s where we get the concept of Platonic Ideal — the most-perfect thing of any specific category.

        • epeeist

          Pretty sure that’s Plato.

          It’s both. However they meant different thing by “forms”.

        • Aristotle said everything is a compound of matter and form (well aside from the first movers apparently). Somewhat different from Plato.

        • Michael Neville

          One of the things that Aristotle got wrong was that he thought women had fewer teeth than men. Apparently it never occurred to him to have Mrs. Aristotle open her mouth so he could get a count.

        • Kevin K

          I heard it was horses. He used logic to determine the number of teeth horses should have. Horses actually have far-fewer teeth than their face structure makes it appear they have.

          Which means the story is most-likely apocryphal.

        • epeeist

          Apparently it never occurred to him to have Mrs. Aristotle open her mouth so he could get a count.

          Plato’s attitude towards women was a little more generous than Aristotle’s. In The Republic women can be guardians as well as men.

          Aristotle saw women as bit higher than slaves but still bound by the mores of Greek society, husband chosen for her, no socialising with her husband and his friends, no going to the marketplace. In many respects similar to current, conservative Muslim households.

        • Greg G.

          Good thing I read this far because I was going to point out the teeth thing. But maybe he did but she had impacted wisdom teeth. Perhaps he didn’t realize the importance of sample size.

        • On the question of men/women have fewer of something, you might be thinking of ribs (men have one fewer).

          Vesalius (1500s) used cadavers to prove that men and women had the same number of ribs. Apparently, it was a startling claim. (I’d have thought that you wouldn’t need a scalpel, just a willing, non-ticklish partner to count yourself.)
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andreas_Vesalius#Skeletal_system

  • Cozmo the Magician

    “The other possibility is that there’s some cognitive dissonance” I’ll go with the more likely (IMO) They are just lying sacks of shit who KNOW that they are pushing BS to gullible followers.

    • TheBookOfDavid

      Say what you will about their business practices, but their compartments are durable, snug, and keep out the noisy neighbors.

    • Susan

      They are just lying sacks of shit who KNOW that they are pushing BS to gullible followers.

      Darn it. It’s so hard to read minds.

      That so many of of them LOOK like lying sacks of shit who KNOW they are pushing BS to gullible followers doesn’t necessarily mean they are.

      But when their top apologists (and all of their apologetic arguments) ignore standard, reasonable responses and requests for clarification and require a reset button to survive, it’s easy to become cynical after a while.

      What is it this time? I don’t have a fully formed explanation for why an evident universe exists. Or for why the laws of physics exist at all,. etc.

      I don’t have a fully formed explanation for why there are organisms we refer to as living beings. And other structures that don’t.

      I don’t have a perfect moral theory.

      Nor a complete understanding of what we describe as consciousness.

      Therefore, Yahwehjesus is the most likely explanation.

      Which is like saying that I can’t find the murderer , no matter how hard I work the case. Or that even if I think I’ve found the murderer, I can’t make the case beyond a reasonable doubt.

      Therefore your theory that “ghosts did it” is the most plausible answer.

      That’s apologetics. And they earn good money and big prestige using that strategy.

      It’s not outrageous to become cynical after a while about their positions/tactic/motives , when that’s all they’ve got.

      Es mejor usar mi tiempo para estudiar otro idioma o algo tan útil.

      • Cozmo the Magician

        I love google xlate:
        It is better to use my time to study another language or something so useful.

        • Susan

          I love google xlate

          Yay! I didn’t use google translate.

          I just used the Spanish I studied to try to say “It is better to use my time to study another language or something just as useful.”

          So, I was close. Or Google translate was. It will be another year or more before I know.

        • Taneli Huuskonen

          I’m completely unqualified to judge anyone’s Spanish, but at least I understood your sentence without any trouble, so my undereducated guess is that it’s close enough for practical purposes.

        • Greg G.

          I have read that people from Spain can travel to Italy, speak Spanish, and be understood as if it is just another dialect of Italian.

        • Taneli Huuskonen

          I heard about an Italian lady who did that in Spain and usually got her message across, but once a local person seemed somewhat confused about what it was that she was looking for. After a somewhat puzzling discussion, she found out that the Italian word for “shade” sounds like the Spanish word for “man”.

        • Greg G.

          I once worked with the son of one of my college professors who was Greek. My friend told me about when his father went to Japan on university business and attended an informal get-together. He was proposing a toast and used a Greek word (sounds like “yasoo”). The Japanese went silent as they knew the word was not English but it sounded like (yatsu), the Japanese word for “cheapskate idiot.” They all had a good laugh when they all figured it out.

          I know “hombre” is the Spanish word for “man” or at least one way to say it. Google translate says the Italian word for “shade” is “ombra”, so I can see that.

          ETA: Does “umbrella” come from “ombra” or the same root?

        • Ignorant Amos

          My mum was learning Spanish. She lives in Spain. Anyway, the class went on a field trip to a restaurant and the pupils had to order their meals in Spanish. She attempted to order chicken and chips, but the word for chicken wrongly pronounced sounds like the word for dick…spelled “polla”, it’s all about how it is spoken…my mum ordered dick and chips…the Spanish staff had a good laugh.

        • Greg G.

          I was on a date at a Mexican restaurant decades ago and ordered something “con polla” pronouncing it with the “L” sound. My date pointed out the correct pronunciation and I flashed back to high school Spanish and knew she was right. At that moment it occurred to me that the “La Jolla, California” I had always read about and the “La Hoy-ah, California” that I had always heard about were the same place.

        • My wife knows pretty much zero Spanish, but on a trip to Argentina, she knew enough to ask for “poh-yo” (pollo) in a restaurant. She got nowhere. Trouble is, in Argentina, it’s pronounced “poh-sho.”

        • Susan

          it’s close enough for practical purposes.

          Gracias.

          Es lo mejor que puedo esperar en esta etapa.

  • JBSchmidt

    I will assume you use this to cut both ways correct? You will soon write articles showing the science which challenges man made global warming, shows real harm caused to children who are allowed to self assign genders and how women aren’t happier with free premarital sex. I am sure they are in your ‘Drafts’ folder to be published soon. They must be falsifiable.

    To your article. Lemaître also said, “The believer perhaps has an advantage of knowing that the riddle possesses a solution, that the underlying writing finally comes from an intelligent being”. Since his word is so concrete, I will assume you agree with this statement also.

    As for Christian’s that challenge science. Among Christians there is a disagreement as to ‘the beginning’. Some will hold the strict version of 6 days and other see room for a different interpretation. Lemaître said, “The writers of the Bible were illuminated more or less — some more than others — on the question of salvation. On other questions they were as wise or ignorant as their generation. Hence it is utterly unimportant that errors in historic and scientific fact should be found in the Bible, especially if the errors related to events that were not directly observed by those who wrote about them . . . The idea that because they were right in their doctrine of immortality and salvation they must also be right on all other subjects, is simply the fallacy of people who have an incomplete understanding of why the Bible was given to us at all.” I will again assume you agree with statement.

    That being said, isn’t the point of the scientific method to be challenged? You seem to be trying to argue a philosophical type of science. Lemaître points this out when he states, “The question if it was really a beginning or rather a creation, something started from nothing, is a philosophical question which cannot be settled by physical or astronomical considerations.” I assume we can agree on that statement as well.

    What is the “good side” of science (and how dare you assign them a gender)? To assume there is a “good side” is a philosophical statement. Science is not good or bad. It is a set of experiments and analysis of results.

    One final point, during Lemaître’s life, a man which you as an atheist seem to have great reference for, his worked was burned and his colleagues imprisoned. As the atheistic Nazi war machine moved through his University it had no need for Lemaître. I am quite confident that if you hadn’t stubbled upon a quote of his that you could use against Christians (his own people) you would have had no use for him either. If he were a live today, advocating the existence of God and the need for salvation, he would be lumped with the apologists you have listed. It pains me to think you were “cherry-picking” Lemaître in order to “prostitue” him out.

    • epeeist

      As the atheistic Nazi war machine

      Nazism wasn’t atheistic.

      • al kimeea

        They were doing the Lord’s work by following 1400 years of Christian teaching – A. Hilter

        • epeeist

          It isn’t going to make any difference though is it? He is going to bugger off to the reset button shop in Croydon and come back spouting the same crap.

      • Pofarmer

        I thought this numb nuts had been banned.

        • Clint W. (Thought2Much)

          They’re all so much alike, it’s easy to lose track.

      • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

        Hush…he’s on a roll — 😉

        Next thing you know, he’ll be talking about when Hitler bombed Pearl Harbor…

      • RichardSRussell

        The Wehrmacht issued belt buckles to its soldiers inscribed “Gott mit Uns”, not exactly a common atheist catchphrase.

        Also this: “I am now as before a Catholic and will always remain so.”—Adolf Hitler, to General Gerhard Engel, 1941

        • Ignorant Amos

          Reichswehr oath

          “I swear by God this holy oath, that I want to ever loyally and sincerely serve my people and fatherland and be prepared as a brave and obedient soldier to risk my life for this oath at any time.”

          Wehrmacht oath

          “I swear to God this sacred oath that to the Leader of the German Empire and people, Adolf Hitler, supreme commander of the armed forces, I shall render unconditional obedience and that as a brave soldier I shall at all times be prepared to give my life for this oath.”

          Civil servant oath

          “I swear: I will be faithful and obedient to the leader of the German Empire and people, Adolf Hitler, to observe the law, and to conscientiously fulfill my official duties, so help me God.”

          Most of those that refused to take the oath were executed.

          Head of the SS, Himmler, declared…

          “We believe in a God Almighty who stands above us; he has created the earth, the Fatherland, and the Volk, and he has sent us the Führer. Any human being who does not believe in God should be considered arrogant, megalomaniacal, and stupid and thus not suited for the SS.” He also declared: “As National Socialists, we believe in a Godly worldview”

    • Damien Priestly

      -> “…harm caused to children who are allowed to self assign genders and how women aren’t happier with free premarital sex”

      Those are in the eye of the beholder, each individual gets results to decide for themselves…and are not science like gravity and electromagnetism. And the last place we want to look for answers about gender and sex (and science) is to religion, especially dogmatic ones like Christianity.

    • Doubting Thomas

      I will assume you use this to cut both ways correct? You will soon
      write articles showing the science which challenges man made global
      warming, shows real harm caused to children who are allowed to self
      assign genders and how women aren’t happier with free premarital sex. I
      am sure they are in your ‘Drafts’ folder to be published soon. They
      must be falsifiable.

      I doubt it. The title of the blog is Cross Examined: Real Thinking About Christianity.

      The highlighted part should give you a hint as to why those topics probably won’t be written about here.

    • Max Doubt

      “I will assume you use this to cut both ways correct? You will soon write articles showing…”

      Looks like you need to stop your bellyaching here and go start your own blog somewhere else.

      • JBSchmidt

        “After all, you’re not willing to engage in a conversation here. ”

        So you just want silence from opposition. That spurs great conversation.

        • Doubting Thomas

          It’s not smart to use fake quotes from people when their actual words are just above yours for everyone to see.

        • JBSchmidt

          Look further up in the comments. He used those “actual words” against someone who did write a blog.

          Your apology is accepted.

        • Doubting Thomas

          And you used it as if he was replying to you.

          I would advise clarification when you do such a thing.

        • JBSchmidt

          The comment was not to you or the general public, but directly to Max. If he needs clarification on his own contradiction I can guide him through that.

        • Doubting Thomas

          And his comment that you quoted was not to you, but directed to Alexandre. If you need clarification on your double standard, I can guide you through that.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Whaaaa? JBS is being disingenuous? Well heavens ta Murgatroyd…I never…

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Nahhh…if you were silent, you’d be no fun as chew toys…

          A little rationality and evidence would be welcome, though.

        • Max Doubt

          “So you just want silence from opposition.”

          No. You’re here whining that Bob isn’t writing the articles you want him to write or including information you want him to include. So as a bit of helpful advice, if you want something posted in an article on the ‘net, start your own fuckin’ blog. Now if you’re too stupid to understand that, just ask. I can probably take it down to middle school level for you.

        • JBSchmidt

          That’s an interesting take. I was unaware that being able show Bob’s logical inconsistencies in pulling a short quote that fit his needs, while ignoring the vast amount of info from Lemaître that stands contrary to his argument, was whining. He ended doing what he was critical of Evangelicals of doing with science. Am I incorrect?

        • Ignorant Amos

          …logical inconsistencies…

          You’ve obviously never heard off the idiomatic expression of…“Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater”….???

        • Max Doubt

          “Am I incorrect?”

          Yes. In English: You’re bitching about Bob not writing articles you want him to write or including material you think he should include. You want that stuff in an article on the ‘net? Start… Your… Own… Fucking… Blog. As always, if you’re too stupid to understand that, just tell us you’re too stupid. Someone here might be willing to hold your hand and walk you through it.

        • JBSchmidt

          Ok. So then you didn’t want conversation as you stated previous to person who wrote a blog. What I have learned to enjoy is the pure intolerance on this page. It keeps me coming back.

        • Doubting Thomas

          Max didn’t say he didn’t want conversation. He specifically chided someone for not wanting conversation. You know how you can tell that? Because it’s right in the sentence of his you quoted:

          “After all, you’re not willing to engage in a conversation here.”

          We are often very intolerant here, but we’re mainly intolerant of stupidity, and you seem to bring nothing but.

        • Max Doubt

          “Ok. So then you didn’t want conversation as you stated previous to person who wrote a blog.”

          I haven’t figured out yet if you’re just too stupid to understand, if you’re being intentionally dishonest, or of you’re just a common asshole. Of course nothing says you can’t be any combination of the above.

          “What I have learned to enjoy is the pure intolerance on this page. It keeps me coming back.”

          I get a kick out of watching kids like you failing so miserably while trying so desperately to get some traction in adult conversations. It’s a little disappointing that it’s only been a few exchanges and you’re already so boring. Helpful hint: If you want to keep people’s attention with your trolling here you’ll need to up your game.

    • I Came To Bring The Paine
    • Otto

      . . The idea that because they were right in their doctrine of immortality and salvation…

      No, there is no reason to think they were right about that either.

    • Joe

      You will soon write articles showing the science which challenges man made global warming,

      As soon as that exists, you can read about it here.

      • Michael Neville

        I doubt we’re holding our breath waiting for JBS’s wet dream to come true.

    • Ignorant Amos

      As the atheistic Nazi war machine ….

      The Nazi’s were Christian’s ya moron…when are you lot gonna grasp that simple concept a stop making buck-eejits outta yerselves ffs?

      • Clint W. (Thought2Much)

        But… but… no TRUE CHRISTIANS™ would do what the Nazis did, so they must have been atheists!

        • Ignorant Amos

          Except the one who got excommunicated…for his part in the heinous crime of gassing millions of folk? Nope!

          For the even more heinous crime of marrying a heretic Protestant divorcee would ya believe?

    • I will assume you use this to cut both ways correct? You will soon write articles showing the science which challenges man made global warming

      Manmade climate change is the scientific consensus. No, I won’t be writing articles against that. But I don’t see what inconsistency you’re talking about.

      To your article. Lemaître also said, “The believer perhaps has an advantage of knowing that the riddle possesses a solution, that the underlying writing finally comes from an intelligent being”. Since his word is so concrete, I will assume you agree with this statement also.

      Not following. Are you saying that by quoting Lemaître once I need to accept every sentence he uttered? Clarify.

      I will again assume you agree with statement.

      Why would you assume that?

      You seem to be trying to argue a philosophical type of science.

      Reread the post. I’m contrasting Lemaître (don’t build your faith on science) with many modern evangelical apologists (make arguments using anything you want to, and then if that crumbles in the future, walk away from it and use something else). Did you miss that part?

      during Lemaître’s life, a man which you as an atheist seem to have great reference for

      You need to focus on your reading comprehension.

      the atheistic Nazi war machine

      Right. The guys with “Gott” on their belt buckles were all Nazis. If you’re going to insult, your insults need to be backed up with reality.

      I am quite confident that if you hadn’t stubbled upon a quote of his that you could use against Christians (his own people) you would have had no use for him either.

      Right. He’s an important figure in the history of science, like Darwin. Neither are now contributing to science, so why should either be top of mind today?

      • Doubting Thomas

        But I don’t see what inconsistency you’re talking about.

        That’s because you didn’t get your diploma from Prager U.

      • JBSchmidt

        “consensus”

        -Good point. Like homosexuality being a mental disorder.

        “I’m contrasting Lemaître (don’t build your faith on science) with many modern evangelical apologists (make arguments using anything you want to, and then if that crumbles in the future, walk away from it and use something else). Did you miss that part?”

        -No, I got that. You cherry-picked Lemaître without disclosing that he does far more to call out those who believe science exists w/o God than he does challenge those in apologetics. Further, unless you have some info the rest of don’t, Lemaître never interacted with or studied the reasoning of the apologists you list. How do you know he would still disagree?

        It is akin to me pulling the following quote from Richard Dawkins, ““I have mixed feelings about the decline of Christianity, in so far as Christianity might be a bulwark against something worse.” Then arguing that the lack of the Christian God in culture is leading to moral decline with the assumption that Dawkins agrees with me.

        • “consensus”
          -Good point. Like homosexuality being a mental disorder.

          Homosexuality was removed from the DSM in 1973. How does this connect with anything we were talking about? Or is this just small talk?

          You cherry-picked Lemaître without disclosing that he does far more to call out those who believe science exists w/o God than he does challenge those in apologetics.

          So any brief article about Lemaître is inherently dishonest? Only a book-length treatment would allow me to make my point?

          Further, unless you have some info the rest of don’t, Lemaître never interacted with or studied the reasoning of the apologists you list. How do you know he would still disagree?

          Dunno. Don’t care. You admit that you see the point I was making, so I guess the post made its point.

          It is akin to me pulling the following quote from Richard Dawkins, ““I have mixed feelings about the decline of Christianity, in so far as Christianity might be a bulwark against something worse.” Then arguing that the lack of the Christian God in culture is leading to moral decline with the assumption that Dawkins agrees with me.

          Wrong again. If you have a quote from Dawkins that’s in context and you contrast that with other prominent atheists to make a point about the breadth of opinion within the atheist community, that would be fine. Further, if you used Dawkins to show those other atheists in a poor light (“Why can’t these atheists have the standards that Dawkins did?” etc.), that would parallel my post and would also be fine.

        • JBSchmidt

          I actually pulled a real Dawkin’s quote. Can you pull a Lemaitre quote from his visit with the Pope that supports your claim? Can you pull a Lemaitre quote from his body of work to support your claim?

          The specific claim you are making I would like to see a quote for is, “it’s unwise for Christians to mix science and religion”.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I actually pulled a real Dawkin’s quote.

          Who gives a fuck?

          Can you pull a Lemaitre quote from his visit with the Pope that supports your claim? Can you pull a Lemaitre quote from his body of work to support your claim?

          It isn’t necessary for the point being made, soft boy. Why is this point so difficult?

          The specific claim you are making I would like to see a quote for is, “it’s unwise for Christians to mix science and religion”.

          Like every single theist I’ve seen comment here, your reading for comprehension isn’t worth Jack-shit.

          The OP says…

          Lemaître soon corrected the pope, SO THE STORY GOES, arguing that it’s unwise for Christians to mix science and religion.

          At the emphasised bit “SO THE STORY GOES” in the main article above, there’s a link. If you click on the link, there’s an article by Giuseppe Tanzella-Nitti, full professor of Fundamental Theology, Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, Rome.

          I’ll pull out the relevant sentence, since you are incapable, or just too stupid….

          Lemaître supposedly corrected the Pontiff on his errors, telling him he was mistaken in making “concordist” comments on science and Holy Scripture.

          Concordance:- 1. a state or condition of agreement or harmony

          Now, if you actually go to the article at the link, and bother your arse to read it ALL, you’ll be better informed to avoid making asinine comments.

          The article by the professor at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome, clearly states that there was a speech prepared prior to a meeting the pope had with Lemaître that was changed after the pope had with Lemaître. The changes are relevant to the deduction that in the meeting Lemaître convinced the pope to change his position. What did Lemaître actually say…we don’t know, the meeting was secret, what was the upshot, the pope decided against the position of pointing to Lemaître’s science being evidence of God.

          You are nitpicking, but get this, what the exact words Lemaître said, are moot, he said something, what it is believed that he said, is what is important. And what is believed Lemaître said to the pope [paraphrase] is not to use the science as evidence for God.

          What conclusions can we draw from this reconstruction of the facts? It is plausible that Georges Lemaître spoke with Pius XII regarding the November 1951 speech and that he offered the Pontiff some clarifications. Did these clarifications consist in a true and proper criticism of Pius XII, a reproof for the mistakes he made in the previous address? And what would these mistakes be essentially? On closer inspection, it appears that the clarifications of Lemaître, paradoxically, must have been more oriented towards preventing the trespassing of science in theology – as could have resulted from the citations of Whittaker, Arrhenius and Plate – which does not prevent, as is commonly believed, the interference of theology or Popes in science. Beyond this event’s occurrence and its possible interpretations, the necessity remains, in our opinion, to create the conditions for which not only men of science know how to speak with a more correct use of language on philosophical topics, but also theologians know how to speak with greater competence on scientific topics. It is the hope that John Paul II addressed to the director of the Vatican Observatory, George Coyne, in a letter sent to him on June 1, 1988. “It would entail,” wrote John Paul II, “that some theologians, at least, should be sufficiently well-versed in the sciences to make authentic and creative use of the resources that the best-established theories may offer them. Such an expertise would prevent them from making uncritical and overhasty use for apologetic purposes of such recent theories as that of the “Big Bang” in cosmology. Yet it would equally keep them from discounting altogether the potential relevance of such theories to the deepening of understanding in traditional areas of theological inquiry.” Both implications are important and both sides of the dialogue are necessary.

          So, it would appear that JPII was also aware of the problem of theologians overstepping their remit, he advocated them being educated enough so as to not talk shite on the subject.

          But what else did Saint John Paul say to George Coyne on the matter….

          To be more specific, both religion and science must preserve their autonomy and their distinctiveness. Religion is not founded on science nor is science an extension of religion. Each should possess its own principles, its pattern of procedures, its diversities of interpretation and its own conclusions. Christianity possesses the source of its justification within itself and does not expect science to constitute its primary apologetic. Science must bear witness to its own worth. While each can and should support the other as distinct dimensions of a common human culture, neither ought to assume that it forms a necessary premise for the other. The unprecedented opportunity we have today is for a common interactive relationship in which each discipline retains its integrity and yet is radically open to the discoveries and insights of the other.

          It’s pretty clear that Saint John Paul could see the dangers in trying to mix religion and science. So swap out a priest for a pope/saint in the article above and stop yer whining.

          BTW, Father George Coyne is a fervent and very vocal proponent against intelligent design nonsense. He is a clever man who knew the limitations of scripture when it came to science…

          “How in the world could there be any science in Scripture? There can not be, ’cause the two historical periods (Scripture and Modern Science) are separated by so much. The Scriptures are not teaching science. It’s very hard for me to accept not just a literal interpretation of Scripture, but a fundamentalist approach to religious belief. It’s kind of a plague. It presents itself as science, and it’s not.”

        • Greg G.

          I like this quote in there:

          Christianity possesses the source of its justification within itself and does not expect science to constitute its primary apologetic. Science must bear witness to its own worth.

          It admits that Christianity is circular while science proves its value continuously.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Yeah…hoist by their own petards…this can happen when talking in double speak, word salad, and riddles.

          Talking of petards…

          OT…I was watching a documentary last night about the D-Day landings and Hobart’s Funnies. Major Hobart was a fellow Royal Engineer who came up with a number of armoured adaptions in order to circumvent the beach head obstacles. Including a petard launcher.

          The Brit’s and Cannuck’s uptook his inventions, the Yank’s thought better of it, the Yanks lost large numbers because they could not breakout of their tactical area of operation, Omaha Beach. They lost all but 3 of their 30 DD swimming Shermans, because they launched them too far offshore at 3 miles in rough water so they “drowned”, while the other Allies had minimal loses , because they launched in calmer waters closer to shore.

          The Petard Mortar, or “Flying Dustbin as it was nicknamed, was used for breaching the concrete defence walls at the top of the beach.

          AVRE (Assault Vehicle Royal Engineers): A Churchill tank adapted to attack German defensive fortifications. The AVRE’s main gun was replaced by a Petard Mortar that fired a forty-pound (18 kg) HE-filled projectile (nicknamed the “Flying dustbin”) 150 yards (137 m); it was capable of destroying concrete obstacles such as roadblocks and bunkers. The mortar had to be reloaded externally by opening a hatch and sliding a round into the mortar tube from the hull. The crew of six were drawn from the Royal Engineers, except for the driver who came from the Royal Armoured Corps. One of the RE crew was a demolitions NCO sapper responsible for priming the “Flying dustbin” as well as leading or supervising when they dismounted from the tank (easily done through the side hatches) to place demolition charges (“Wade” charges).

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hobart%27s_Funnies

          Many of Hobarts inventions were still being used in my time…just more redeveloped…and even more further developed for todays Sappers.

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

          Just a wee bit of useless information trivia for ya.

    • Gary Whittenberger

      JBS: “The question if it was really a beginning or rather a creation, something started from nothing, is a philosophical question which cannot be settled by physical or astronomical considerations.” I assume we can agree on that statement as well.

      GW: Not necessarily. Today’s supposed philosophical questions may some day be answered by science. You cannot validly say “Science will never answer that question.” You cannot accurately predict the future of science.

    • Gary Whittenberger

      JBS: Science is not good or bad. It is a set of experiments and analysis of results.

      GW: I depends on what you mean by “good” and “bad.” Of course, science is good for building a model of reality, and probably better than any other method for doing this.

      GW: It might even be morally wrong to use a method other than science to answer certain kinds of questions about reality such as “Is the current warming of the Earth caused mainly by humans burning fossil fuels?”

      GW: You seem to be following Gould’s view of nonoverlapping magisteria, which is mistaken.

  • RichardSRussell

    The term “Big Bang” was coined by physicist George Gamow, who favored a competing explanation: continuous creation. He thot that “Big Bang” was sufficiently ridiculous that it would make people avoid the hypothesis for fear of looking foolish. Instead many of those very people were tickled by the phrase and embraced it. As Neil DeGrasse Tyson occasionally notes, astrophysicists call it like it is: Big Bang, black hole, star stuff, etc.

    • Michael Neville

      It was Fred Hoyle, not Gamow, who coined the term Big Bang. Hoyle was the primary advocate of the steady state cosmology. Unfortunately Penzias and Wilson’s discovery of cosmic microwave background radiation (something that Gamow had predicted) supported the Big Bang and argued against steady state.

      • RichardSRussell

        Right. I knew that. Braino!

      • Clint W. (Thought2Much)

        And Hoyle became a really whiny sore loser even years after enough observational info came in to kill steady state completely dead. Despite some great work in nucleosynthesis, in almost every other way he was a complete crank.

  • Dear Bob Seidensticker,
    I invite you to see my comments on your article: “Can the Star of Bethlehem Be Scientifically Verified?”
    https://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2018/01/can-star-bethlehem-scientifically-verified/#disqus_thread
    Regards,
    Alexander I. Reznikov.
    Moscow, Russia

    • Max Doubt

      “I invite you to see my comments on your article: “Can the Star of Bethlehem Be Scientifically Verified?”
      https://www.patheos.com/blo…”

      Apparently even you don’t feel your comments are very important, so why should we? After all, you’re not willing to engage in a conversation here. Your attempt to drive hits to your blog is just trolling.

    • Joe

      Short answer: No.

      • Kevin K

        Longer answer: Nyet.

      • Clint W. (Thought2Much)

        Long answer: Noooooooooooooo.

    • Ignorant Amos

      Dr. Aaron Adair takes The Star of Bethlehem apart in his book on the subject….

      The Star of Bethlehem: A Skeptical View

      The Star of Bethlehem: A Skeptical View is an analysis of the astronomical portent found in the Gospel of Matthew which supposedly led the Magi from the East to the birthplace of Jesus. Throughout history, people have tried to connect the Star to real, naturalistic phenomena, as well as to explain it in other ways. Adair takes a thorough look at all of these explanatory attempts, using the tools of science and astronomy, and finds them fundamentally wanting. Take a trip through the heavens above with Adair as he critically explores many centuries of flawed hypotheses, looking to answer the question “Did the Star of Bethlehem really exist?” This book is at the conjunction of science and religion.

      https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00FH46NC8/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

      But for those that can’t be arsed with the read Dr. Adair gives a presentation here…

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Cwx1ifJY4s

      • Pofarmer

        What science can explain, is that the Star is a mythical Amalgam, much like the wise men, that were common to much ancient lore.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Indeed…a literary device for full effect…because portents for important people were expected in those days.

  • The link you provided indicates Pius didn’t actually say this. What then was the real exchange about (if any)?

    • I’m not sure. I’d heard about the famous exchange, and then this article suggests that it didn’t actually happen. For my purposes, having this illustrate LeMaitre’s position (assuming that has been reported accurately) was all I need.

      • A lot of these things seem to turn out as dubious. I take your point though.

  • JustAnotherAtheist2

    Apologists throw puzzles at atheists like “What caused abiogenesis?” or “What caused the Big Bang?”

    Amusingly, apologists prove to be even more transparent by instead asking, “who caused the Big Bang?”. It really is quite sad.

    • Kevin K

      My simple answer to both conundrums is “all natural forces”.

  • RichardSRussell

    “Wandering in a vast forest at night, I have only a faint light to guide me. A stranger appears and says to me: ‘My friend, you should blow out your candle in order to find your way more clearly.’ This stranger is a theologian.”

    —Denis Diderot (1713-1784), French encyclopedist and philosopher

  • Ignorant Amos

    No shout for…???

    Alexander Friedmann: Unsung Hero of Modern Cosmology

    In other words, Friedmann raised the possibility of a dynamic universe which changes in size over time. In fact, Friedmann introduced the expression “expanding universe.” And one of his solutions modeled a cosmos which began in a singularity – an infinitesimally small point. It even had an expansion rate which increased over time, just as modern observations indicate.

    https://www.decodedscience.org/alexander-friedmann-unsung-hero-of-modern-cosmology/19423

    Friedmann published in 1922…5 years prior to Lemaître.

  • Gary Whittenberger

    Bob: “In fact, the science never was part of the foundation of their beliefs-their foundation is unfalsifiable…Their belief is unfalsifiable, and they have a secret weapon: cherry picking the scientific evidence to support their preconception.”

    I think your claim that core religious beliefs are unfalsifiable is probably falsifiable.

    If God is defined as a supernatural intelligent agent who is all-knowing, all-powerful, perfectly moral, and who created the universe and makes favorable interventions to prayers, then I think the belief “God exists” can be falsified and has been.
    Several sound scientific experiments have shown that prayer is ineffective.
    If God did exist, then prayer would have been effective in these experiments.
    Given the above definition of God, isn’t the belief “God exists” thereby falsified?

    • Greg G.

      I think the existence of suffering rules out the possibility of any being that is both omnipotent and omnibenevolent, so any being imagined with both of those attributes is imaginary. But that doesn’t rule out the possibility of an indifferent universe creator nor a being that is very potent and omnibenevolent nor a generally benevolent omnipotence with a sadistic streak.

      Humans range from mean to benevolent and from weak to strong with many combinations. If there are other life forms with combinations of these attributes, it hardly seems appropriate to label them as god thingies, any more than calling a powerful, benevolent human a god thingy. Even a universe creator should be recognized as a universe creator rather than a god thingy.

      • Gary Whittenberger

        GG1: I think the existence of suffering rules out the possibility of any being that is both omnipotent and omnibenevolent, so any being imagined with both of those attributes is imaginary. But that doesn’t rule out the possibility of an indifferent universe creator nor a being that is very potent and omnibenevolent nor a generally benevolent omnipotence with a sadistic streak.

        GW1: I agree with you on those points, Greg, but I think Bob was claiming that core religious beliefs cannot be falsified using science. You are using philosophy here or reason in general, but I was proposing a scientific test.

        GG1: Humans range from mean to benevolent and from weak to strong with many combinations. If there are other life forms with combinations of these attributes, it hardly seems appropriate to label them as god thingies, any more than calling a powerful, benevolent human a god thingy. Even a universe creator should be recognized as a universe creator rather than a god thingy.

        GW1: I think you have falsified “God exists” by using philosophy, but that is not what I was getting at. Scientific studies show that prayer is ineffective and thereby show that God, as defined, does not exist. Bob understates the scientific case against God.

        • Greg G.

          I think the god concept became more philosophical centuries ago. It abandoned the physical world with metaphysics, which is a form of the supernatural which is a hedge to evade empirical scrutiny. The more attributes given to a favorite deity, the more likely to find a discrepancy or contradiction that rules it out.

          For example, many claim God is just and merciful, but being merciful is not just and being just means not merciful.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          I disagree with your first claim here. “God” has always been a philosophical, metaphysical, physical, and supernatural concept from the time of the OT. It cannot evade empirical scrutiny because it presumes creation and subsequent interaction with the empirical world.

          I agree with your argument about number of attributes, but the attributes of the hypothetical God are all laid out in the OT.

          I strongly agree with your last point, which is just another philosophical argument against the existence of God. I think it is correct. Religious people tend to embrace contradictions and inconsistencies. They don’t play by the rules of logic.

        • Greg G.

          I disagree with your first claim here. “God” has always been a philosophical, metaphysical, physical, and supernatural concept from the time of the OT.

          The OT God was not created ex nihilo by the early Jews. The monotheism probably came from some of Ahkenaten’s refugee priests, but even Aten was a philosophical construct, as all of the other Egyptian gods were (I want to say “manifestations” but that implies more earthly appearances but I mean in a more spiritual realm as a believer would say, so I will coin the term “manifestation in the imaginarium”).

          From the Wikipedia article on the Egyptian Ogdoad https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ogdoad_(Egyptian) :

          The oldest known pictorial representations of the group do not predate the time of Seti I (New Kingdom, 13th century BC), when the group appears to be rediscovered by the theologians of Hermopolis for the purposes of a more elaborate creation account.[2]

          Texts of the Late Period describe them as having the heads of frogs (male) and serpents (female), and they are often depicted in this way in reliefs of the Ptolemaic Kingdom.[3]

          and at the end of the article:

          Nevertheless, there have been attempts to assign “four ontological concepts”[9] to the four groups. For example, in the context of the New Kingdom, Karenga (2004) uses “fluidity” (for “flood, waters”), “darkness”, “unboundedness” and “invisibility” (for “repose, inactivity”).[10]

          Genesis may have used some of this:

          Genesis 1:2 (NKJV)2 The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

          “without form, and void” = “unboundedness”
          “darkness” = “darkness”
          “face of the deep” = “flood, waters”
          “Spirit of God” = “invisibility”, where the word for “Spirit” is the word for “wind” or “breath”

          Below are some ancient images of Nu, the god of the deep of the Ogdoad, holding the other seven gods plus the Scarab. Combine that idea with the Gilgamish flood legend to get eight people led by the one named (Nu > Noah).

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/4941e7ffb5b48d7d6e36becffc9cd36d381171bb3318b42421f65226be443cd5.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/200c30451b8dcc8b83890621fc78a102d74c5be6fcc4719b34bfb46329cc8830.jpg

          So I suspect god thingies had become quite philosophical in the more sophisticated religions as far back as the early Egyptian era, and probably before them.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          I agree, but all this is consistent with what I said. “God is a person” is a core belief of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. “God created the universe” is also, although the exact method of creation is disputed.

        • Greg G.

          You said, “I disagree with your first claim here.” I think the disagreement is simply that you are focusing on Yahweh and its derivatives whereas I see them as just variations of the deities of that geographical area. Those diverged and melded over time, just as we now have over 45,000 denominations of Christianity today.

          You are going back to the common ancestor of three of the top five religions of today, and that is certainly an interesting study. We have a lot of literature on that. I like to try to piece together what we have from the Egyptian and Mesopotamian cultures for clues for the evolution of the religions of the day. I think that no one religion was inevitable to last until today but the vagaries of chance could have changed the outcome. Some baby lost to history because he died in his first month may have become a Caesar and instituted a different religion that would have dominated the second millennium.

          We don’t disagree, we are just viewing different time frames.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          It might be interesting to start before the OT, but I’m really not concerned with that. There is a concept of “God” which has remained fairly stable in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam over the millenia. We can show either philosophically or scientifically that this God does not exist.

        • Greg G.

          As I say, any god thingy that is claimed to be omnipotent and omnibenevolent can be shown not to exist by the existence of unnecessary suffering. If omnipotent, then all suffering is unnecessary so the omnipotence is either indifferent or sadistic which means it cannot be omnibenevolent.

        • Cynthia

          No, it isn’t a core belief of Judaism. As we discussed at length, you are basing your statement on a literal reading of an English translation of the Pentateuch and wrongly assuming that this represents “Judaism” when actual Jews have pointed you to sources that make it clear that Judaism doesn’t work like that and to surveys showing that most American Jews who do not identify as atheist still do not believe that God is a person.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The belief is that God is the personification of everything…nature…but transcends that too, or something like that, not that it is a person as we use the word in common parlance.

          While it is a necessity to discuss and describe God, to do so with too much zeal—to try to capture a physical representation of the divine—is considered idolatry.

          https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/about-god-in-judaism/

          Gary can be a bit like that, as I’ve noticed on other forums. he can be obstinate even in light of counter evidence to the point of frustrating others.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          I disagree and believe you are mistaken. We have already discussed these issues in detail. I have not been persuaded by your arguments.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Which doesn’t mean she is mistaken, nor that the arguments she, and others have made, are not persuasive.

          You have made a conjectured assertion that God is considered a person within Judaism, but have yet to support that assertion with anything more than “because I say so”…while I have seen your assertion denied by actual Jewish scholars. Who should we believe?

          We could start with your definition of what you mean by “person”?

        • Cynthia

          Thanks.

          If I want to give Gary the benefit of the doubt, I think it is possible that he just has really rigid thinking and loves putting things into categories. He learned (probably back when he was Christian) that the proper way to read the Bible was by taking the simple meaning literally, he learned that deviating from the correct beliefs meant being kicked out of the group, and it seems that he (mistakenly) learned that prior to Christianity, there was something called original Judaism, which was defined by the Pentateuch. Gary is now an atheist but his beliefs about what Christianity and Judaism are did not go away.

          The problem is that what Gary learned, possibly without realizing it, was a view that sets out to delegitimization and demonize Jews. Christianity had to take the view that Judaism went off course, so that it could then make the case that Christianity replaced it. Gary may not believe in Jesus any more, but he still has this notion that it is okay for outsiders to not just study from a neutral secular perspective what changes have occurred in time with Judaism, but to evaluate those changes and declare that those who don’t conform to what he imagines was original Judaism should be thought of as apostates and deprived of the ability to call themselves Jews. (We both have public Disqus profiles so you can find him discussing all of this.). This is not a benign thing. This is something that has a long history of being used to incite people to kill Jews, right up to the Tree of Life killer who was ranting about the synagogue of Satan. Gary’s stuff sounds way too close to Rev. 3:9 for me to feel safe with it.

        • Ignorant Amos

          If I want to give Gary the benefit of the doubt, I think it is possible that he just has really rigid thinking and loves putting things into categories. He learned (probably back when he was Christian) that the proper way to read the Bible was by taking the simple meaning literally, he learned that deviating from the correct beliefs meant being kicked out of the group, and it seems that he (mistakenly) learned that prior to Christianity, there was something called original Judaism, which was defined by the Pentateuch. Gary is now an atheist but his beliefs about what Christianity and Judaism are did not go away.

          Well that comment just freaked me out. I made similar observations in the comment I posted a couple of moments before yours. Could we both be so wrong?

          I’ve engaged Gary W on occasions in the past, and observed his interactions with others. He says plenty I agree with, other things, not so much…his views on abortion for example.

          He doesn’t respond to my comments any longer, he has me blocked, but hey, why would I let that prevent me from pulling him up on stuff I think he gets wrong.

          We’ve had self-proclaimed atheists here that have been total eejits…am not saying GW is in the same ilk, but being atheist is no guarantee of rational thinking. A long time ago on the Richard Dawkins forum I’ve gotten into it with an anthropomorphic climate change denying atheist, homeopathy works asserting atheist and a UFOlogist atheist. Atheists can be stupid too.

        • Greg G.

          In light of Cynthia’s comment, I will address “God is a person” as a core belief of Judaism. I do not think that is correct. The Old Testament is a compilation of many texts, some of which are compilations of older texts. The texts came from separate cultures of the religion. There is some reconciliation but we can see the traces of polytheism giving way to monotheism. We see that some of the verses understood as being God’s actions in the Christian realm are really the “angel of the Lord”. 2 Samuel 24:1 says “the angel of the Lord” incited David to take a census but 1 Chronicles 21:1 says that Satan incited David to do it in different accounts of David buying the mount where the temple was built in order to end the plague sent because David took a census. The Chronicles have a different political slant than the other historical OT books, too.

          Judaism was a mashup of several similar religions that had diverged from an earlier version with very different ideas.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          GG1: In light of Cynthia’s comment, I will address “God is a person” as a core belief of Judaism. I do not think that is correct.

          GW1: It certainly is correct! Just read the Pentateuch and infer the meaning of the term “God” (English name). It is obvious. In fact, just read Genesis 1:1.

          GG1: The Old Testament is a compilation of many texts, some of which are compilations of older texts. The texts came from separate cultures of the religion. There is some reconciliation but we can see the traces of polytheism giving way to monotheism.

          GW1: That is correct. God is a unique person and the Creator with supreme authority and power over the universe. This is what you end up with after studying the entire Pentateuch.

          GG1: We see that some of the verses understood as being God’s actions in the Christian realm are really the “angel of the Lord”. 2 Samuel 24:1 says “the angel of the Lord” incited David to take a census but 1 Chronicles 21:1 says that Satan incited David to do it in different accounts of David buying the mount where the temple was built in order to end the plague sent because David took a census. The Chronicles have a different political slant than the other historical OT books, too.

          GW1: None of that matters to the core belief – God is a unique person and the Creator with supreme authority and power over the universe.

          GG1: Judaism was a mashup of several similar religions that had diverged from an earlier version with very different ideas.

          GW1: That is interesting to historians of religion, but I’m not concerned with it. I’m looking at this from a philosophical perspective. What is the consensus view of God, according to the writers of the Pentateuch? God is a unique person and the Creator of the universe with supreme authority and power.

        • Greg G.

          From http://www.jewfaq.org/beliefs.htm

          13 Principles of Faith
          The closest that anyone has ever come to creating a widely-accepted list of Jewish beliefs is Rambam’s thirteen principles of faith. These principles, which Rambam thought were the minimum requirements of Jewish belief, are:

          G-d exists
          G-d is one and unique
          G-d is incorporeal
          G-d is eternal
          Prayer is to be directed to G-d alone and to no other
          The words of the prophets are true
          Moses’ prophecies are true, and Moses was the greatest of the prophets
          The Written Torah (first 5 books of the Bible) and Oral Torah (teachings now contained in the Talmud and other writings) were given to Moses
          There will be no other Torah
          G-d knows the thoughts and deeds of men
          G-d will reward the good and punish the wicked
          The Messiah will come
          The dead will be resurrected

          Rambam is from an acronym for Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, aka Maimonides. A similar list, labeled “core beliefs”, is at https://judaisminfosite.weebly.com/core-beliefs-and-values.html .

          The nature of God is found at http://www.jewfaq.org/g-d.htm

          G-d is Incorporeal

          Although many places in scripture and Talmud speak of various parts of G-d’s body (the Hand of G-d, G-d’s wings, etc.) or speak of G-d in anthropomorphic terms (G-d walking in the garden of Eden, G-d laying tefillin, etc.), Judaism firmly maintains that G-d has no body. Any reference to G-d’s body is simply a figure of speech, a means of making G-d’s actions more comprehensible to beings living in a material world. Much of Rambam’s Guide for the Perplexed is devoted to explaining each of these anthropomorphic references and proving that they should be understood figuratively.

          Philo of Alexandria wrote about the Greek concept of the Logos, though we don’t have his definition. Philo seems to have been reconciling the Greek philosophy with the Old Testament writings as if the Greeks got the idea from the Jews. The Greek Logos came from the issue of how an immaterial perfect god thingy could interact with a material, corrupt world. They figured there would have to be a demiurge to act as a go between, which they called Logos.

          The OT is all over the place about God as they are written by different authors with different beliefs that are often in conflict. You are taking what Jews see as figures of speech as core beliefs.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          GW2: Yes, I saw a similar (but incomplete) list of the core beliefs of Judaism from Maimonides on Wikipedia. I think it is a pretty good list, but I would quibble with some and probably add others. This list is consistent with my claim that religions should be defined by core beliefs and practices inferred from founders or early practitioners.

          GW2: Notice that “God is a person” is not on the Rambam list, yet it is an underlying assumption of other beliefs on the list.

          GW2: Does this hypothetical God have a body? It depends what is meant by “body.” In our world we distinguish one thing from another thing because things have bodies in space-time. I believe Judaism has a core belief that God has a spiritual body. This would be some body not consisting of the matter-energy with which we are familiar.

          GG2: The OT is all over the place about God as they are written by different authors with different beliefs that are often in conflict.

          GW2: I agree to some extent, but still there is a consensus core which can be inferred. Rambam almost certainly used the Pentateuch as the primary source for his list.

          GG2: You are taking what Jews see as figures of speech as core beliefs.

          GW2: Oh, I don’t agree with that. Some writings were written to be taken literally, others to be taken metaphorically. However, even with metaphors you can usually infer the underlying beliefs. Some religious people today attempt to “move the goal posts” by turning literal writing into metaphorical writing. I intend to remain vigilant for that, and I hope you will too.

        • Cynthia

          Maimonides very clearly used more than the Pentateuch for principles 6, 10, 12 and 13.

          Re “moving the goal posts”:

          It is considered bad in a debate or formal logic proof if one changes the hypothesis part way through, to deceptively claim that the hypothesis was proven.

          Beliefs naturally evolving is something else. Questioning previous assumptions and coming up with new hypotheses in response to new information or circumstances is a good thing, in any field, and it happens all the time.

          When it comes to Jewish history, we have records showing shifts in concepts and ways of thinking. We know that the Babylonian, Persian, Greek and Roman periods each resulted in changes. That’s not shifting the goal posts. It isn’t something that happened in the middle of a debate last week. It is a process that shaped the development of oral sources and interpretations over hundreds of years, which was eventually committed to writing around 1500 years ago.

          More recently, there were massive cataclysms in Jewish life. Within a span of 100 years, the vast majority of Jews worldwide experienced upheaval and genocidal persecution and relocation, along with some unprecedented freedoms following that. All streams of Judaism – even those that appear to be the most Orthodox and traditional – were profoundly affected and had some sort of theological response. Again, this wasn’t just something happening in response to a debate – it was debated by Jews themselves in response to life.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          C1: Maimonides very clearly used more than the Pentateuch for principles 6, 10, 12 and 13.

          GW1: For example, take #10. What else do you believe he used? How do you know he clearly used that?

          C1: Re “moving the goal posts”:
          It is considered bad in a debate or formal logic proof if one changes the hypothesis part way through, to deceptively claim that the hypothesis was proven.

          GW1: Yes, I agree. And many religious people today do this.

          C1: Beliefs naturally evolving is something else. Questioning previous assumptions and coming up with new hypotheses in response to new information or circumstances is a good thing, in any field, and it happens all the time.

          GW1: But people who move the goal posts either don’t think they have moved them or lie and claim they haven’t moved them. Judaism held that this special kind of person, i.e. God, exists. This has been shown to be false. People can’t now legitimately say “Oh, Judaism does not hold that God is a person.” That would be moving the goal posts.

          C1: When it comes to Jewish history, we have records showing shifts in concepts and ways of thinking. We know that the Babylonian, Persian, Greek and Roman periods each resulted in changes. That’s not shifting the goal posts. It isn’t something that happened in the middle of a debate last week. It is a process that shaped the development of oral sources and interpretations over hundreds of years, which was eventually committed to writing around 1500 years ago.

          GW1: Yes, maybe those peoples were creating new religions which were not Judaism.

          C1: More recently, there were massive cataclysms in Jewish life. Within a span of 100 years, the vast majority of Jews worldwide experienced upheaval and genocidal persecution and relocation, along with some unprecedented freedoms following that. All streams of Judaism – even those that appear to be the most Orthodox and traditional – were profoundly affected and had some sort of theological response. Again, this wasn’t just something happening in response to a debate – it was debated by Jews themselves in response to life.

          GW1: Yes, maybe people who claim to be religious Jews (I’m not talking about ethnic Jews now) aren’t really religious Jews because they have strayed too far from Judaism, as can be defined from the inferred consensus of the writers of the Pentateuch. I believe that most persons who claim to be religious Jews do believe that God is a person. I think we could verify this with good interviews and well constructed surveys. I estimate the percentage to be far higher than you think it is.

        • Cynthia

          Maimonides principle #10 quotes Psalms. The Pentateuch doesn’t talk about the Prophets (#6), doesn’t talk about a Messiah and doesn’t talk about a resurrection of the dead.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          One at a time, please. For now, #10. For that one, I’ll repeat my questions: What else do you believe he used? How do you know he clearly used that?

        • Cynthia

          He clearly used Pslams because he quotes it.

        • Cynthia

          If you google it, you can find the more complete version of #10 – you were looking at the paraphrased summary. He quotes Psalm 33:15.

        • Ignorant Amos

          There is no way to know the core beliefs of the Hebrews, because there is no record of what those core beliefs actually were. Scholars are aware of this, everything is tentative. But even using the Pentateuch as Gary proposes, certain things can be inferred, that bring Gary’s ridiculous assertion into question.

          Gary can’t grasp that at one time the beliefs of the Jews were polytheistic and animistic, and over a period of time, they became monotheistic and anthropomorphic. This didn’t happen overnight, they evolved.

          — The earliest Hebrew religion was animistic, that is, the Hebrews seemed worship forces of nature that dwelled in natural objects.

          — Early Hebrew religion was polytheistic; the curious plural form of the name of God, Elohim rather than El, leads them to believe that the original Hebrew religion involved several gods. This plural form, however, can be explained as a “royal” plural. Several other aspects of the account of Hebrew religion in Genesis also imply a polytheistic faith.

          — As a result, much of early Hebrew religion had a number of practices that fall into the category of magic: scapegoat sacrifice and various forms of imitative magic, all of which are preserved in the text of Genesis .

          — Early Hebrew religion eventually became anthropomorphic, that is, god or the gods took human forms; in later Hebrew religion, Yahweh becomes a figure that transcends the human and material worlds. Individual tribes probably worshipped different gods; there is no evidence in Genesis that anything like a national God existed in the time of the patriarchs.

          https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/the-birth-and-evolution-of-judaism

          Nowhere in the Hebrew faith’s, does God become a person, it gets personification…not nearly the same thing.

          I guess Gary is so embedded in his erroneous position that he thinks he can’t let go without feeling stupid…a vestigial trait from the time of being a believer I suppose.

        • Greg G.

          GW2: Does this hypothetical God have a body? It depends what is meant by “body.” In our world we distinguish one thing from another thing because things have bodies in space-time. I believe Judaism has a core belief that God has a spiritual body. This would be some body not consisting of the matter-energy with which we are familiar.

          Maimonides says God is incorporeal so there is no spiritual body. It is just spirit. Any anthropomorphic reference should be understood figuratively.

          GW2: I agree to some extent, but still there is a consensus core which can be inferred. Rambam almost certainly used the Pentateuch as the primary source for his list.

          Maimonides’ summation of the core beliefs rejects the idea of the god thingy being a person. God’s personhood is anthropomorphic and should only be thought of as figurative.

          GW2: Oh, I don’t agree with that. Some writings were written to be taken literally, others to be taken metaphorically. However, even with metaphors you can usually infer the underlying beliefs. Some religious people today attempt to “move the goal posts” by turning literal writing into metaphorical writing. I intend to remain vigilant for that, and I hope you will too.

          Sure, but what was probably written as literal history from obvious fairy tales was rejected later. The Samuels and Kings were probably written before the Exile. They have lots of history and gives sources in many cases but it also mixes in stories of Elijah and Elisha doing magic.

          The Chronicles were apparently written after the Exile. It covers much of the material from Kings, with similar accounts but doesn’t discuss the foibles of the Kings of Judea. But Elijah is mentioned twice, once in a genealogy and once as a prophet, not a miracle worker, and not in a parallel passage. Elisha is written out except for a story about the treatment of prisoners of war from different opponents but with the same king who received basically the same message from a prophet. In Kings, it’s Elisha but in Chronicles, it is Oded. (BTW, 2 Chronicles 28:15 is probably the source material for the Good Samaritan story.)

          There is the battle with the Philistine giants where Goliath is killed in three accounts, two by Elhanan, though the Chronicles account says it was the brother of Goliath and some translations transfer that to the 2 Samuel account though the Hebrew has nothing about the brother of Goliath, only Goliath. So it appears that the David and Goliath was added to 1 Samuel but was taken as literal as the tranlator of the Septuagint version of Chronicles felt obliged to reconcile the stories.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          GW2: Does this hypothetical God have a body? It depends what is meant by “body.” In our world we distinguish one thing from another thing because things have bodies in space-time. I believe Judaism has a core belief that God has a spiritual body. This would be some body not consisting of the matter-energy with which we are familiar.

          GG3: Maimonides says God is incorporeal so there is no spiritual body. It is just spirit. Any anthropomorphic reference should be understood figuratively.

          GW3: I would interpret his “incorporeal” as meaning “has no body as we know bodies.” What did he mean and what do you mean by “spirit”? Any literal or figurative reference should be understood philosophically.

          GW2: I agree to some extent, but still there is a consensus core which can be inferred. Rambam almost certainly used the Pentateuch as the primary source for his list.

          GG3: Maimonides’ summation of the core beliefs rejects the idea of the god thingy being a person. God’s personhood is anthropomorphic and should only be thought of as figurative.

          GW3: I totally disagree with your claim here. That he was referring to God as a person is obvious from principles 5, 10, and 11, and several others are consistent with this idea. M believed God is a person, as far as I can tell, but I’m open to new evidence.

          GW2: Oh, I don’t agree with that. Some writings were written to be taken literally, others to be taken metaphorically. However, even with metaphors you can usually infer the underlying beliefs. Some religious people today attempt to “move the goal posts” by turning literal writing into metaphorical writing. I intend to remain vigilant for that, and I hope you will too.

          GG3: Sure, but what was probably written as literal history from obvious fairy tales was rejected later. The Samuels and Kings were probably written before the Exile. They have lots of history and gives sources in many cases but it also mixes in stories of Elijah and Elisha doing magic.

          The Chronicles were apparently written after the Exile. It covers much of the material from Kings, with similar accounts but doesn’t discuss the foibles of the Kings of Judea. But Elijah is mentioned twice, once in a genealogy and once as a prophet, not a miracle worker, and not in a parallel passage. Elisha is written out except for a story about the treatment of prisoners of war from different opponents but with the same king who received basically the same message from a prophet. In Kings, it’s Elisha but in Chronicles, it is Oded. (BTW, 2 Chronicles 28:15 is probably the source material for the Good Samaritan story.)
          There is the battle with the Philistine giants where Goliath is killed in three accounts, two by Elhanan, though the Chronicles account says it was the brother of Goliath and some translations transfer that to the 2 Samuel account though the Hebrew has nothing about the brother of Goliath, only Goliath. So it appears that the David and Goliath was added to 1 Samuel but was taken as literal as the tranlator of the Septuagint version of Chronicles felt obliged to reconcile the stories.

          GW3: What are you doing here? What is the point? Are you criticizing M’s summary of Judaism? Are you claiming that he has not captured the core beliefs of Judaism? That he has not properly made inferences from the Pentateuch? I didn’t say that I completely agreed with him. But one proposition I am confident of – the consensus of the Pentateuch authors and the belief of M himself was that God is a person. My goodness, prayers are offered to persons, not nonpersons.

        • Ignorant Amos

          But one proposition I am confident of – the consensus of the Pentateuch authors and the belief of M himself was that God is a person. My goodness, prayers are offered to persons, not nonpersons.

          Blah, blah, blah, fucking, blah…support your assertions or they are the musings of an ignorant dolt.

          In the meantime…

          At the heart of Maimonides‘ “Guide for the Perplexed” is his conception of God. When we say that “God is one” every day [in the Sh’ma prayer], what do we mean by that statement? For many Jewish philosophers, Maimonides chief among them, this is the central question of Jewish philosophy. He argues that God is a perfect unity, not admitting of any plurality. God does not have parts, either literally or figuratively–no arms or legs, no back or front, no end or beginning. (One of the alternate names for God in Jewish dis­course is Ein Sof [Without End].)

          That also means that, in Aristotelian terms, one cannot actually say “God is . . .” and proceed to enumerate God’s attributes. To describe the Eternal One in such a sentence is to admit of a division between subject and predicate, in other words, a plurality. (Maimonides writes in Chapter 50 of the Guide, “Those who believe that God is One and that He has many attributes declare the Unity with their lips and assume the plurality in their thoughts.”) Therefore, he concludes, one cannot discuss God in terms of positive attributes.

          On the other hand, one can describe what God is not. God is not corporeal, does not occupy space, experiences neither generation nor corruption (in the Aristotelian sense of birth, decay, and death). For obvious reasons, Mai­monides’ conception of the Supreme Being is usually characterized as “negative theology,” that is, defining by the accumulation of negatives. Maimonides writes, “All we understand is the fact that [God] exists, that [God] is a being to whom none of Adonai’s creatures is similar, who has nothing in common with them, who does not include plurality, who is never too feeble to produce other beings and whose relation to the universe is that of a steersman to a boat; and even this is not a real relation, a real simile, but serves only to convey to us the idea that God rules the universe, that it is [God] that gives it duration and preserves its necessary arrangement.”

          But what of all the anthropomorphic terms that we encounter in Jewish sacred texts? What of “Adonai’s rod and staff . . .” or the Creator who “reaches out a hand . . .”? There are thousands of passages like this in the Torah , in the Talmud, in Midrash, and in our liturgy. Maimonides’ response is that these are allegorical passages, designed to ease the transition of the Jewish people from idolatry to monotheism. Even the famous description of man’s creation b’tselem Elohim (in the image of God) is meant metaphorically. God created out of free will and we are granted the ability to reason and a free will of our own, but there is no “family resemblance.”

          https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/maimonides-conception-of-god/

          Whatever you mean by person, doesn’t mean person…you need to wise up.

        • Greg G.

          GW2: Does this hypothetical God have a body? It depends what is meant by “body.” In our world we distinguish one thing from another thing because things have bodies in space-time. I believe Judaism has a core belief that God has a spiritual body. This would be some body not consisting of the matter-energy with which we are familiar.

          GG3: Maimonides says God is incorporeal so there is no spiritual body. It is just spirit. Any anthropomorphic reference should be understood figuratively.

          GW3: I would interpret his “incorporeal” as meaning “has no body as we know bodies.” What did he mean and what do you mean by “spirit”? Any literal or figurative reference should be understood philosophically.

          Thus, “body” is a figure of speech. The concept of body and the concept of spirit are antithetical.

          GW3: I totally disagree with your claim here. That he was referring to God as a person is obvious from principles 5, 10, and 11, and several others are consistent with this idea. M believed God is a person, as far as I can tell, but I’m open to new evidence.

          Those could be applied to “Karma” of eastern religions, and that is not a person.

          GW3: What are you doing here? What is the point? Are you criticizing M’s summary of Judaism? Are you claiming that he has not captured the core beliefs of Judaism? That he has not properly made inferences from the Pentateuch? I didn’t say that I completely agreed with him. But one proposition I am confident of – the consensus of the Pentateuch authors and the belief of M himself was that God is a person. My goodness, prayers are offered to persons, not nonpersons.

          I was giving an example of the diversity of opinions in the OT collection of writings. Despite what Christians like to believe, the Bible is not inspired nor was it ever intended to be considered as a whole. Every book was an independent writing.

        • Cynthia

          I like to say “it’s an anthology, not a book”.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Or compendium…Merriam-Webster nails it…

          : COLLECTION, COMPILATION
          a compendium of folk tales

          https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/compendium

        • Gary Whittenberger

          GW2: Does this hypothetical God have a body? It depends what is meant by “body.” In our world we distinguish one thing from another thing because things have bodies in space-time. I believe Judaism has a core belief that God has a spiritual body. This would be some body not consisting of the matter-energy with which we are familiar.

          GG3: Maimonides says God is incorporeal so there is no spiritual body. It is just spirit. Any anthropomorphic reference should be understood figuratively.

          GW3: I would interpret his “incorporeal” as meaning “has no body as we know bodies.” What did he mean and what do you mean by “spirit”? Any literal or figurative reference should be understood philosophically.

          GG4: Thus, “body” is a figure of speech. The concept of body and the concept of spirit are antithetical.

          GW4: I disagree. The concepts of body and spirit have similarities and differences. But what did M mean by spirit, and what do you mean by it? Let’s nail it down.

          GW3: I totally disagree with your claim here. That he was referring to God as a person is obvious from principles 5, 10, and 11, and several others are consistent with this idea. M believed God is a person, as far as I can tell, but I’m open to new evidence.

          GG4: Those could be applied to “Karma” of eastern religions, and that is not a person.

          GW4: Right now we aren’t addressing eastern religions. Let’s keep our focus on Judaism, especially as viewed by M. Principles 5, 10, and 11 are referring to God as a person. If you think otherwise, then let’s hear your case for that.

          GW3: What are you doing here? What is the point? Are you criticizing M’s summary of Judaism? Are you claiming that he has not captured the core beliefs of Judaism? That he has not properly made inferences from the Pentateuch? I didn’t say that I completely agreed with him. But one proposition I am confident of – the consensus of the Pentateuch authors and the belief of M himself was that God is a person. My goodness, prayers are offered to persons, not nonpersons.

          GG4: I was giving an example of the diversity of opinions in the OT collection of writings. Despite what Christians like to believe, the Bible is not inspired nor was it ever intended to be considered as a whole. Every book was an independent writing.

          GW4: I have never doubted that there is some diversity of opinions in the authors of the Pentateuch (not exactly the same as the OT), but what I assert is that we can infer a consensus of opinions, despite the diversity – the core of Judaism. Yes, the Bible was not inspired or intended to be considered as a whole. Yes, every book was an independent writing, but after the canon was settled on, many Christian scholars and leaders believed that the Bible was one long connected narrative. I don’t think we agree with them.

          GW3: I think in describing “God” an acceptable synonym for “person” is “intelligent agent.” I don’t have a problem with that. I see them as the same, but the latter is somehow more acceptable to many religious people.

        • Greg G.

          GW4: I disagree. The concepts of body and spirit have similarities and differences. But what did M mean by spirit, and what do you mean by it? Let’s nail it down.

          I stated this very clearly 8 hours ago: “Maimonides says God is incorporeal so there is no spiritual body. It is just spirit. Any anthropomorphic reference should be understood figuratively.” https://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2018/11/science-and-christianity-a-dangerous-mixture/#comment-4204367675

          It is already nailed down. The Jews and Greeks used their word for “breath” or “wind” for the spirit. They didn’t have a concept of “air”.

        • Ignorant Amos

          What? Fuck you…as is inferred as Gary says, and when Gary says…fuck you, cause everything else is contrary…is there something like Asperger’s going on here?

        • Gary Whittenberger

          GW4: I disagree. The concepts of body and spirit have similarities and differences. But what did M mean by spirit, and what do you mean by it? Let’s nail it down.

          GG4: I stated this very clearly 8 hours ago: “Maimonides says God is incorporeal so there is no spiritual body. It is just spirit. Any anthropomorphic reference should be understood figuratively.” https://www.patheos.com/blo
          It is already nailed down. The Jews and Greeks used their word for “breath” or “wind” for the spirit. They didn’t have a concept of “air”.

          GW4: You very clearly stated something without nailing down the concept.

          GW4: In claiming that God is spirit, M seems to be implying that God is composed of an invisible substance, like the wind, breath, air, or even dark matter. In our world a body is a finite amount of some matter-energy occupying a location and having a shape. So, to carry the analogy further, it would make sense to say that God has a spiritual body. If M said God has no spiritual body, then this may not have been representative of the views of the Pentateuch authors or may have been philosophically mistaken. We are trying to make sense out of very weird and almost certainly invalid concepts used by ancient humans.

          GW4: “God is incorporeal” may not really be a core belief of Judaism. If God is everywhere present or all-knowing, then whether he has a body or not may be a trivial point.

        • Ignorant Amos

          GW4: “God is incorporeal” may not really be a core belief of Judaism. If God is everywhere present or all-knowing, then whether he has a body or not may be a trivial point.

          This comment alone demonstrates you are just pulling your ignorant nonsense outta yer arse.

        • Greg G.

          Images stolen borrowed* from http://www.crystalinks.com/nun.html

          * I will return them when I am done with them.

        • Cynthia

          Greg – I had an ongoing conversation for about a month with Gary on this stuff.

          He insists on his claim that “God is a person” is a core belief of Judaism despite being shown reputable surveys showing that most American Jews don’t actually have that belief, and sources showing influential medieval Jewish philosophy that stated the opposite, and the official websites of the largest American Jewish denominations showing very different beliefs.

          He believes that the beliefs of what he calls “original Judaism” can be determined by him simply by reading an English translation of the Pentateuch, without considering that more than one concept of god, with more than one name, is present in that text and that no secular scholar thinks it was written by one person at one time. He knows very little about ancient Israelite history. Despite his atheism, his views on this point seem to have been shaped by Protestant Christianity.

      • Cynthia

        Even from an anthropological POV, it’s interesting to see the evolving ways that Judaism has dealt with the problem of evil.

        Earliest era: Must worship via sacrifices for protection, God essentially seen as amoral and not much different from other deities. Historical context: animist and polytheistic world, small tribal and city-state structure.

        Law and prophetic era: Brings a new concept of God who isn’t just concerned with being worshipped, but who is demanding moral conduct toward other people as well. Flip side is that failing to engage in moral behavior is seen as bringing on national punishment. Historical context: Assyria destroys the Northern kingdom in 722 BCE, Babylonia conquers Southern kingdom in 586 BCE.

        Exilic era: People can no longer be smug, because there has been a national disaster. Coping requires a combination of beating themselves up, and a “but the make up sex is good” attitude toward God, hoping that a future national redemption will make everything awesome again. Historical context: Worst predictions of prophets like Jeremiah come true and Babylonians destroy the Temple, conquer Judea and exile leading citizens.

        Persian era: Zoroastrianism gets mixed in, evil becomes its own force and people start thinking that an afterlife exists. Some of this finds its way into Judaism, more of it finds its way into groups that will eventually become the early Christians.

        Greek era: Logic arrives on the scene, along with the earliest forms of secularism. More thinking about body and soul being separate things. More thinking about God in a theoretical and universal way. Major influence on the Talmud – idea of debating and multiple interpretations grows.

        Roman era: Another national disaster. Idea of local/national God worshipped through sacrifices is gone for good. Pharisees are the main group to survive, national structures are gone, future will be as a minority religion in many countries, feeling of mourning present circumstances and hoping for future national redemption.

        12th century: We get to Maimonaides, with an emphasis on a more abstract God that nobody can really define. Idea of laws and reward/punishment still there.

        Kabbalist era: In contrast to the more clear-cut and logic world of Maimonaides, this is a world of mysticism where everything is complex and symbolic. We see the Gnostic idea of godliness being present in scattered “sparks” throughout the world. That which conceals the sparks is considered evil – so that evil is not a separate force, but the absence or hiding of the divine light. Lurianic Kabbalah introduces the idea that humans need to gather these sparks from around the world and repair the world, in order for things to be restored as they should be. Historical backdrop: Inquisition

        Messianic fervour era: The 1600s were a particularly bad time for the Jews of Europe, with bloody pogroms wiping out around 100,000. Many were desperate for a messiah to make everything better, and for a while around half followed Shabtai Zvi (until he converted to Islam).

        Hasidic era: More hard times in Eastern Europe led to more mystical movements, some of which fused mysticism and messianism. Good and evil are no longer just about reward and punishment, but a cosmic struggle playing out and

        Holocaust and the modern era: This was preceded by the Enlightenment – a point in history where logic seemed to rule the day, more freedoms were won, more integration with everyone else occurred and there was a feeling of optimism and idea that the world made sense. In that world, following ethical rules and reward/punishment weren’t really questioned. Then, during the Holocaust, 1/3 of the Jews around the world were killed and there was no logical explanation. So, you have a fairly modern example where pretty much everyone in a religion is struggling with the question of evil in a profound way – it’s not just religious leaders or philosophers. There is also a questioning of modern values at the same time. The result is that everything changes, but in a number of different ways. Some sects will embrace the idea of “God the asshole” and declare that the Holocaust was a divine punishment (Satmar). To say that this causes tension with other Jewish groups would be an understatement. Some will conclude that God is good but not particularly effective at intervening in the world (Harold Kushner). Some will say that humans have the free will to do evil. Some will actually become less secular, because the world that seemed to offer the hope of scientific progress and advanced culture used those things for evil. Some will say that anything rational explanation is impossible and that any attempt to explain or justify it is wrong (Chabad). Some will say that it was the birth pangs of the Messiah and the world is now on the verge of redemption (religious Zionism). Some will find radically different models of what God, prayer and spirituality are, looking at Kabbalah and eastern religions as a way around the pain (Jewish Renewal). Some will believe that the leader of their own sect could be the Messiah and will rapidly expand and engage in a frenzy of getting people to reach out to Jews all over the world and have them do various commandments and good deeds (Chabad again). Some will focus on the need for Jewish nationalism and self-defense (general Zionism). Some will cling to the religion as a sort of defiance (Fackenheim) to deny Hitler and posthumous victory. Many will start to see Hitler and anything connected to Nazism as evil incarnate, and automatically see everything as a moral struggle through this lens (the majority of American Jews today – even those that most don’t consider to be religious by conventional definitions). Some will reboot the Lurianic Kabbalistic idea of gathering sparks, and teach that humans need to repair the world urgently by pushing social justice (Reform Judaism). Some will always acknowledge the contradiction and dilemma of having faith in the face of overwhelming evil (Elie Wiesel). Some will cry out in pain but still go on to rebuild despite it (Klausenberger Rebbe). You can find those who hold more than one of these positions. I would say that the belief that Nazism = evil incarnate is probably the most common – so common that this idea is not really articulated but is simply assumed by most American Jews, and often not really understood by others.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Hmmmm….scholarly or what? Moving more and more that way, given the appreciation of the current evidence.

        • Cynthia

          Sorry if it got to be book length. Probably got carried away.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Soz…I didn’t mean to give that impression.

        • Greg G.

          Excellent! I have saved it for further study.

          I have been looking at the Kings vs Chronicles era. It seems that there was a battle between the Jerusalem priests who wanted all sacrificing to be done by them and the “suburban” priests who saved the people outside of Jerusalem a long trip every time they coveted or told a fib. Kings who sided with the Jerusalem priests, whose writings survived, judged them as good while those who listened to the “suburb” priests were judged as evil. Perhaps they saw to it that the other writings didn’t survive.

          The Chronicles would be post-exilic. They don’t put the Judean kings in a bad light but they do that for the kings of Israel.

          They seem to be like political parties.

        • Cynthia

          Oh, it was totally political. You can tell the different sources in part from whether they speak decently about the Northern kingdom and it’s tribes.

          Very true about Jerusalem becoming the centralized place of worship by force under King Josiah. There are actually a bunch of broken altars that archaeologists have found from other locations that date to this period.

          One odd passage from this time is the part where Josiah is told that workers doing a Temple repairs found a scroll of the law (likely Deuteronomy). It gave Josiah and the Jerusalem priests some extra authority, but you would think that someone would say “why on earth would a holy scroll be lying around and lost?”

        • Greg G.

          I was reviewing 2 Kings 22:8-20 and 2 Chronicles 34:8-28 about the scroll. Usually when I read the parallel passages, they seem quite different but when I read the second one, I had to check to see if I had changed tabs because of the deja vu. Was it just me or do scholars think the passage might have been copied and interpolated?

          I was looking at the death of Goliath verses the other day. It seems that Elhanan was the original champion, then it got attributed to David, then it became Elhanan killed Goliath’s brother. But some translations make it Goliath’s brother where the manuscripts do not. So it’s not like there is no fudging going on.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The buybull is fudge city.

          Lot was Abram’s/Abraham’s nephew, until be became Abram’s/Abraham’s brother.

          https://skepticsannotatedbible.com/contra/lot.html

        • I never knew that. Thanks.

    • Doubting Thomas

      I agree that the general idea of a god that responds to prayer or loves people is easily falsifiable. The problem is that the Christian continues to add attributes until their god is indistinguishable from something nonexistent. Prayer works no better than chance? The lord works in mysterious ways. Children are raped by the thousands? Free will!!

      And on and on it goes until any attribute that should be testable becomes hand waved away and all that’s left are happy feelings.

      • Gary Whittenberger

        A person who “continues to add attributes” to a god is not a Christian. “God exists,” where “God” is defined by Christian scriptures and doctrine, does not exist and has been falsified by sound scientific studies of prayer.

        There may be some religious beliefs which are unfalsifiable, but I think most of them (which are actually sincerely held) can be falsified either by science, philosophy, or a combination.

        • Doubting Thomas

          Tell it to the Christians. But personally, I’m not much on the “no true Scotsman” idea. Most Christians have no idea what’s in the Bible, much less exactly what god attributes are Biblical. And even the apologists that do know the Bible don’t seem to be bothered as to whether their excuses are Biblically based or not.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          I tell it to the Christians quite frequently.

          I also am not much into the “no true Scotsman idea” either. Christians embrace the core beliefs and practices of their religion, without knowing the Bible well. Those are what make them Christians. In the “not true Scotsman idea” people change definitions after the fact, but that is not what is happening here. We know what a “true Christian” is ahead of time and we don’t change it.

          I will give you an example. It is a core belief of Christianity that God is a person. If a human person learned this idea as a child and identified himself as a Christian and then later as a adult changed to the idea that God is a force (not a person), then he is no longer a Christian.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I also am not much into the “no true Scotsman idea” either.

          And that matters because? The fallacy stands when it is committed, not by how much GW is into it.

          Christians embrace the core beliefs and practices of their religion, without knowing the Bible well.

          What core beliefs and practices? We don’t know what those core beliefs and practices are….only what different folk have claimed they are, and those have changed from the inception of the cult. Btw…knowing which interpretation of the buybull?

          Those are what make them Christians.

          Well, no, it really isn’t. The only thing that all Christians have in common is that Jesus, or the Jesus of the NT myths, has a unique significance…that about it. A follower of Christ…whatever version of Christ that might be.

          In the “not true Scotsman idea” people change definitions after the fact, but that is not what is happening here.

          In the “No True Scotsman” fallacy there is an appeal to purity. But there is no Christian purity, they all claim to be the “True Scotsman” and use their own interpretation of the history and scripture, so after the fact is meaningless. Every version of Christianity today has been changed ad hoc, so they are all “No True Scotsmen”…hence when one Christian claims another Christian wrong, there is no grounds to do so…they are all being fallacious in claiming ownership of the label.

          We know what a “true Christian” is ahead of time and we don’t change it.

          Except we really don’t. We don’t now what a “true Christian” ahead of time is, because we have no way of knowing what was changed an when.

          I will give you an example. It is a core belief of Christianity that God is a person.

          Is it though? Or is it one of those changes you speak about, just occurring early on in the cobbling of the faith story? We just don’t know for sure, because the Christian story we have is not the one from the first century CE.

          If a human person learned this idea as a child and identified himself as a Christian and then later as a adult changed to the idea that God is a force (not a person), then he is no longer a Christian.

          Yeah…no, he is just another one of the 45,000 plus different flavours of Christianity, you or I don’t get to decide.

          When someone can demonstrate what the first ever Christian believed, then you will have a foundation on what a “true Christian” is ahead of time. Until then, there is no true Christian, or Christianity, that can be demonstrated with evidence. And it is likely the case that there will never be.

    • sandy

      Victor J. Stenger argues on many levels how science shows that God does not exist in his book God the failed Hypothesis.

      God: The Failed Hypothesis is a 2007 New York Times bestseller by scientist Victor J. Stenger who argues that there is no evidence for the existence of a deity and that God’s existence, while not impossible, is improbable.

      David Ludden of Skeptic magazine wrote that “Stenger lays out the evidence from cosmology, astrophysics, condensed matter physics, nuclear physics, plasma physics, particle physics, statistical mechanics and quantum mechanics showing that the universe appears exactly as it should if there is no creator.”[1] Ludden concluded “All freethinkers should have both volumes [The God Delusion and God: The Failed Hypothesis], side by side, on their bookshelves.”

      Damien Broderick wrote in The Australian, “Stenger offers an answer to that deep question in his two new books, arguing a materialist, God-free account of the cosmos, equally antagonistic to superstition, the paranormal and religions archetypal and newfangled alike. He refuses to accept the polite accommodation urged by agnostic Stephen Jay Gould that science and religion can never be in conflict as they are non-overlapping ‘magisteria’.”[2]

      • Gary Whittenberger

        I possess an autographed copy of that book by Stenger, I have read the book, and I agree with almost all of its ideas. Good citation.

        I also refuse to accept the “polite accommodation” urged by Gould. I read his book on nonoverlapping magisteria when it first came out and thought the idea was ludicrous. I think the title was “Rock of Ages” or something like that.

        If you have a link to the Broderick essay, I’d like to read it.