The Toughest Challenge for Christians: Refuting Naturalism

The Toughest Challenge for Christians: Refuting Naturalism June 5, 2019

Christian apologists are in a difficult spot. Their “God did it!” explanation is a solution looking for a problem because naturalistic explanations are largely sufficient. What’s left that’s provably unexplainable through natural mechanisms? God might have been the best explanation for lightning, drought, disease, and other riddles within nature, but science now gives us far more reliable answers. What role is left for God?

God World vs. natural world

Imagine that everything in the universe is natural, and there is no supernatural. What traits of this world are now unexplained for which there had been satisfying answers from Christianity? That is, what have we lost by dropping the God hypothesis?

Of course, no one can disprove “God did it” as an explanation for anything, but, without evidence, that explanation is unfalsifiable and therefore useless. By explaining anything, it explains nothing. If the claim is that God did something, we need evidence.

We can probably all agree that God doesn’t create lightning, but then what does God do? Any Christian apologist bold enough to pretend to read the tea leaves only identifies God’s actions after the fact. For example, an earthquake hits Haiti, and Pat Robertson sees God’s hand in the disaster and interprets its meaning, but it never happens the other way around. These Christian pundits never accurately predict anything interesting. They never accurately say, “Now that the Gay Tolerance bill is law, expect a devastating hurricane to hit Washington DC within 24 hours.”

Christians must clearly describe what a God World and a Non-God World would look like. Otherwise, how do we know which one we’re in? Apologists admit through their actions that these two worlds would be identical. They claim that we live in God World, but at every opportunity for God to make his existence clear—regrowing amputations, reliably answering prayer, or having a religion with a unified and unambiguous message (rather than tens of thousands of denominations)—they must step in to explain away the fact that God is a no-show. They’re left pointing to surprising events, disasters, or powerful emotional experiences, imagining the hand of God despite the fact that, here too, natural explanations are sufficient.

Look at what keeps apologists busy. They’re coaching the flock through seasons of doubt, explaining why “Ask and you shall receive” doesn’t really mean that, or rationalizing away the Problem of Evil. This is exactly what they’d do if we lived in Non-God World. God is functionally nonexistent—even if he exists, he might as well not, given his impact on our reality. The God that apologists have created is insulated from attack by being indistinguishable from nothing.

Christianity vs. science

Christianity offers answers to life’s Big Questions: Why are we here? What’s our purpose? What happens after we die? And so on.

The first problem is that Christianity’s supernatural claims are based on no good evidence. Second, Christianity’s answers sometimes conflict with answers from other religions (which are also based on no good evidence). Why believe Christianity’s answers over those of any other religion or indeed believe them at all? Go to another part of the world with another predominant religion, and the answers to the Big Questions change. Supernatural answers are as impermanent as local customs like fashion or manners. This problem is illustrated by the Map of World Religions.

Another problem is that science can also answer life’s Big Questions. It’s just that Christians don’t like those answers.

Christian apologists may strike back by demanding the answer to some current scientific puzzle—what preceded the Big Bang or a complete theory of abiogenesis, for example. They might say, “Science can’t explain where life came from, but Christianity can!”

Anyone can answer a scientific puzzle, but only science provides answers that are worth listening to. Unanswered questions don’t embarrass science, they focus future research. Christianity imagines it’s adding to the conversation when it gives science the questions that science discovered, just like when Christianity gives humanity the morality that came from humanity.

Worldviews

Christian apologist Frank Turek in Stealing from God (2015) argues that the default worldview is Christianity.

Atheists are using aspects of reality to argue against God that wouldn’t exist if atheism were true. In other words, when atheists give arguments for their atheistic worldview, they are stealing from a theistic worldview to make their case.

No, actually Christians steal from the naturalistic worldview. When they cross the street or phone the police or use their computer, they’re relying on evidence and science. The naturalistic worldview—that the only factors affecting our lives are natural ones, not magic or the supernatural—is the default view. Christianity is an extra, optional layer. Very few Christians pray for their children to get well rather than taking them to a hospital, ignore traffic as they cross the street with the confidence that God will protect them, or learn French using prayer. Christians have to admit that evidence is pretty useful.

I’ve responded to an earlier online version of Turek’s argument.

Final thoughts

Oxford-math-professor-turned-Christian-apologist John Lennox recently published a book that asks, Can Science Explain Everything? (2019). The more relevant question is: can Christianity explain anything? As a social construct, Christianity might have value, but as an explanation of reality, it is useless. Science has replaced it. Its supernatural claims are groundless.

Some arguments are mic-drop arguments. You deliver the argument, and you can just drop the microphone and walk away. This is one such argument—the God hypothesis answers no questions and so is superfluous.

See this from another angle with this recipe for boiling water: put a pot of water on a hot stove, then take a magic spoon and give the water a single stir, clockwise. Wait for the water to boil.

Christianity is the magic spoon. It reliably explains nothing, and a naturalistic worldview is sufficient.

I would rather have questions that can’t be answered
than answers that can’t be questioned.
― Richard Feynman

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Image from Donald Giannatti, CC license
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  • A common argument I’ve heard from Christian “compatibilists” – i.e. those who don’t see a contrast between Science and Religion – is that the former helps us understand how our Universe works, whereas the latter is meant to give us a meaning, to answer our “what’s the point of us being part of this Universe“?

    And since purpose cannot be scientifically assessed, they are able to accept science-based evidence without rejecting their faith.

    • I’ve never really understood why they so desperately need there to be this big “meaning” for existence. I mean, who cares?

      • That reminds me of WLC’s origin story when he, as a boy, first realized that people die, the universe will end, and so on. Wow–he seriously gets anxious at the thought that the universe might be lifeless in a trillion years??

        Reminds me of Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s comment, “If you are depressed after being exposed to the cosmic perspective, you started your day with an unjustifiably large ego.”

        • Matt Brooker (Syncretocrat)

          I picture WLC as a guy who’s stuck complaining that everything is too tiny because the only ruler he’ll use is ten miles long

        • a helpful illustration.

      • Norman Parron

        They awake in the night without a mommy to hold them, then they realize thee is no real friend to hold them, then they realize that it is all meaningless and death is just an end, the universe does not love the little snowflake and the terror of all that is beyond them. So they invent an imaginary friend, but strangely their friend is a narcissistic psychopathic ahole…can’t figure that one out.

      • Matt Brooker (Syncretocrat)

        To quote Douglas Adams: “even if it matters, does it matter that it matters?”

      • Personally, I like to think the meaning of one’s life is whatever one wants to make out of it

      • They care. I guess it makes them feel special?

    • Cozmo the Magician

      And the ‘purpose’ usually just HAPPENS to agree with whatever they believe. “The universe exists so that we can make more babies for jesus” “The universe exists so that people will be xtian and not muslim” “The universe exists so that we can tell the gays just how evil they are” etc etc

      • Kodie

        Well, mostly people are pretty much the same, do the same things, reach the same milestones. It doesn’t feel like you’re not a unique individual from inside, so there’s always a question of “why do I exist instead of someone else”, why am I me, etc. This is tied to anti-abortion. That particular clot was chosen or designed for some purpose, so we mustn’t interfere. Of course, once someone is born, or, say, the business of behaving like an animal proceeds, we’re also entitled to squash those who are wicked, compete against them for resources, malign individuals or groups or neighborhoods or countries. Rather than try to understand how someone got to where they ended up, i.e. their purpose, we consider ourselves judges of their purpose. We feel free to call people monsters or demons, to decide, based on our own moral preferences, that they are unworthy of life, as if life is… I don’t know how to put it, it’s not that special, although it can be a decent experience.

        What I mean, is any time there is a school shooter or serial killer or genocider, they are just evil. There is no nuance. Those people were born, and thus created by god, to be evil. Or, of course, possessed by the devil. They don’t condemn god for many of the same characteristics, they are able to hold the opinion that a murderer might have a very good reason to rid the earth of anyone, like weeding a garden. But any of their buddies get killed, and they never deserved it. How do we know a school shooter isn’t in touch with god, and those children would all grow up to be evil? Oh, we know. We can tell. That shooter is just evil. It ignores the fact that anyone could and some people do side with “evil” from time to time, and/or against innocent victims, or denial there are any innocent victims, because it’s faked to steal guns from so-called law-abiding gun owners.

        But what is this all about? Why are we here? We’re animals. We behave like animals. We use religion as a tool like a hammer or a broom or a pencil. It gives people the meaning that all this meaningless story after redundant human story is as special to god as it is to the individual when everything the same happens to them. Why do we go to school, meet someone, get married, have children, work, live in a home, save money, spend money, keep ourselves busy until we die? Because of god, right? God cares about this little dollhouse? God cares as much about someone’s mom in surgery as you do. God cares whether a couple can decide together to move for one spouse’s job and uproot the kids, or stay put. God cares what team wins sport. The passions of being a human are not dissimilar, and to have such a close friend who lives in your head and cares about the petty human things you care about too, it means you’re not alone. Without god to be there, what would those events mean?

        It’s like, if you’re walking around someplace, and observe something singular and interesting or humorous, you’d want someone walking beside you to nudge, and show them before that thing stops happening. Someone to laugh with. When you’re by yourself, you might snap a picture and share it on social media. God is like sharing something stupid you saw on social media and getting the likes. Without external validation, what would our lives even mean? Now, clearly, we all enjoy some external validation. We just don’t get it non-stop. Some people don’t laugh at our jokes, some people don’t care that you’re late for work because you found out your cousin just died. God loves everything. God upvotes our lives, that’s what people want. Without it, people starve for meaning, and without god, they think atheists starve for meaning, and need to hear the good news.

        So we can go ahead and call them desperate and needy for external validation to justify their mundane lives, and any imaginary friend will do.

        • Cozmo the Magician

          God is the one that tells you that your Canadian Girlfriend is SO INTO YOU. {;

    • Uh … to ask these Christians the obvious question, doesn’t meaning need evidence to back it up, too? If not, then Scientology’s meaning is as valid as Christianity’s.

      • Brian Curtis

        …which would seem to make religious believers–gasp!–relativists! Oh, the shame.

    • Phil Rimmer

      Indeed, religion can be as simple as an aesthetic sense of “meant to be”. UK Quakers are pretty close to being sure of this but little else. Personal is fine. But those twinges of “meant to be” and “purpose” projected as a judgement of others instantly removes folk from an easy mutuality. Its not so much about being anti-science as being dogmatic rather than empirical.

    • Rudy R

      You’ve fallen prey to the theists claim that science can’t answer the “why” questions. Science can assess the purpose of life, re “The Selfish Gene,” by Richard Dawkins. Whether you agree with his assessment or not, it does approach the question, and might I add, more cogent than all the theist answers.

  • Illithid

    I find meaning in playing role-playing games, boinking, arguing on the internet, and drinking really good liquor. Ideally two or more of those at once.

    • Brian Curtis

      If you’re doing the middle two simultaneously… well, pics or it didn’t happen. *grin*

  • skl

    The Toughest Challenge for Christians:
    Refuting Naturalism

    And the toughest challenge for naturalism-ists:
    Why most people naturally reject naturalism.

    God might have been the best explanation
    for lightning, drought, disease, and other riddles within nature, but science
    now gives us far more reliable answers. What role is left for God?

    Perhaps the role of being the creator of all the underlying things
    that result in lightning, drought, disease, and other riddles within nature.

    • And the toughest challenge for naturalism-ists: Why most people naturally reject naturalism.

      People seek the pleasing answer, not the correct one. I think we’re all on the same page here.

      Perhaps the role of being the creator of all the underlying things
      that result in lightning, drought, disease, and other riddles within nature.

      You outflanked me by presuming your conclusion! Well played, sir. I guess that proves that God exists.

      • skl

        You outflanked me by presuming your conclusion! Well played, sir. I guess that
        proves that God exists.

        No presumption. And no proofs necessary. Just stating the obvious.

        • Right. No presumption except that there is a creator called God. Aside from that, it’s all just following the evidence to its inevitable conclusion.

        • skl

          No presumption except that there is a
          creator called God.

          I never said or presumed “a creator called God”.
          Only you did.

          You might consider being less presumptuous.

        • I said, “What role is left for God?” And you said, “Perhaps the role of being the creator . . .” So yeah, a creator who’s named God.

          You might consider being be less presumptuous.

          You might consider writing more clearly if this isn’t what you meant.

          Are you saying that you need to restate your position?

        • skl

          Are you saying that you need to restate
          your position?

          I can see your point. Perhaps it would be clearer for me to say
          something like
          Science’s modern explanations for lightning, drought,
          disease, and other riddles within nature don’t explain the cause of all the underlying things that result in lightning, drought, disease, and other riddles within nature.

        • Norman Parron

          Of coarse we know what underlies all you listed … why do you think sun worship is still around?

        • epeeist

          There is no “riddle” within nature regarding things like lightning, drought or disease. They are perfectly well explained and require nothing above the description provided by science.

          While the words provided by religion on these matters are simply not explanations.

        • Rudy R

          So what if science can’t explain all the causes of the underlying things? Ought they be explained?

        • skl

          So what if science can’t explain all the causes of the underlying things? Ought they be explained?

          Only if you want the fullest explanation.

        • Kodie

          What kind of mad scientist god must be to make all this shiit!

        • Rudy R

          God magic is not an explanation.

        • If you’re saying that science has unanswered questions, uh, yeah. We already know that.

          Since you obviously missed it in the post:

          Unanswered questions don’t embarrass science, they focus future research. Christianity imagines it’s adding to the conversation when it gives science the questions that science discovered, just like when Christianity gives humanity the morality that came from humanity.

        • Ignorant Amos
        • ildi

          Well, that’s all well and good, but the rubbing-cat-on-side-of-head thing* really does work for headaches, just saying.

          *side-effects may include include bites and scratches

        • Norman Parron

          Sorry but BS! The creator could just as well have been a dimwitted physicist in an alternate dimension trying to create a black hole and poof! Here we are. you can’t prove it wrong so it must be true!

        • ThaneOfDrones

          Oh that’s right, His name is “Jealous”.
          (Exodus 34:14)

        • Lark62

          No proofs are necessary are necessary that the leprechauns who live under my bed control the thermostat in your home. It’s obvious.

    • Kodie

      Why most people naturally reject naturalism.

      Arrogance. Christians like you would say atheists are too arrogant to kneel and grovel before god, when it’s the other way around. You grovel because you’re arrogant and insist on having a necessary place in the world.

    • Rudy R

      It could be argued that it is an evolutionary trait to believe in a god. That, however, is not proof of a god; just a survival mechanism.

  • JustAnotherAtheist2

    I guess it’s time to bust out my pet peeve… the absent utioity of “natural” and “supernatural”.

    “Natural” is perfectly valid when talking about things like flavoring (natural vs. artificial) or a cause of death. The reason these are useful is because they are well defined with equally well defined points of contrast.

    This is not at all the case with reality itself, however. Ask any theist what “supernatural” means and you’ll get some gibberish about being “above” or “beyond” or “outside” nature. These are spatial descriptors that offer no insight. Worse, a follow up question about what characteristics denote naturality doesn’t garner even that flimsy response. This despite them feeling capable of saying a radically different multiverse is “merely” natural.

    Without a legitimate point of contrast, “natural” becomes tautological; as our understanding of reality expands, so does what we mean by “natural”. There’s nothing about gods or souls, etc. that preclude them from following the same pattern.

    It is my contention that using “natural” the way Bob does here inadvertently lends credence to theistic arguments by implying a counterpart exists. We intuitively assume this to be so; if there’s a “natural” there must be a “not natural”. But this does not appear to be the case when “natural” is applied to reality itself. To the contrary, “natural”, when applied to reality, is just as meaningless as “supernatural”, and we really need to stop acting is if it weren’t.

    Instead, atheists should go to the heart of the matter and ask for definitional clarity. What characteristics make an entity natural? What makes another supernatural? If we encounter something previously unknown, how do we determine whether it is natural or supernatural? Pointing out the frivolous nature of these terms does far more good than unwittingly conceding utility that isn’t there. And it doesn’t expose anyone to a charge of naturalism; you aren’t excluding anything, you’re just seeking clarity.

    Hopefully this makes sense. It hasn’t always in prior discussions.

    • Greg G.

      The supernatural is where people keep cherished beliefs that they know can’t stand up to scrutiny.

      • JustAnotherAtheist2

        No doubt, but the next step is equally important. “Natural” as a qualifier only matters in the presence of a meaningful point of contrast. Since “supernatural” is useless then this contrast doesn’t exist and “natural” is useless as well.

        • Greg G.

          Good point.

    • Phil Rimmer

      We need to talk carefully about what constitutes “natural”, that’s for sure.

      existing in or derived from nature; not made or caused by humankind

      The contrasting idea is artifice, a product of mind, not “supernatural”.

      A natural world is one in which minds may emerge rather than there being a mind from which worlds emerge.

      • JustAnotherAtheist2

        Yes, and what is amusing is that, if theistic claims are accurate, then what we call “natural” now would actually be non-natural.

        Furthermore, it would also create the same problem in reverse. Since god created everything, then everything is, by definition, not natural. This includes things not yet discovered, so you end up with the same boundless set. Only god itself would potentially be naturally occurring.

        • Phil Rimmer

          Yes, Goddidit-world is non-natural, like Red Dead Redemption.

        • Kodie

          I think if god existed, it would make its being and doing natural. Like here is a regular day, and it rains. Another day, god decides to make it rain, like it was on the schedule, or we had some way of knowing god interfered, because there was a drought and he decided enough was enough. I was thinking about prayer, and the idea that if god answered every prayer, that’s all anyone would do, so there you go, why doesn’t god answer every prayer, but a head’s up would be nice, right? Like, if you ask your boss for a raise, and you don’t get it, you have a pay stub at the very least. They can say no. It’s not a mystery. You are not trying to interpret vague clues or left in suspense if the answer is no or wait.

          But a being that could magically (another tricky word) interfere, against what is so-called normal or natural, would also be part of our natural expected world. It would necessarily make science more difficult. That’s another clue – although some things might be unexplained, that doesn’t mean they are unexplainable without the inclusion of god. If god does exist right now, he’s sure as f not interfering to the degree that scientific research is unstable or unreliable. The ground is not always shifting because of occasional inexplicable interference events by an alleged deity. That’s vs. a technological interference, which works with the natural predictable world, and can seem mysterious, but rely on the natural world to function, and can be explained.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          Agreed. If god’s existence and behavior could be demonstrated in testable, repeatable ways, he would simply be incorporated into how we describe external reality. In time, we would consider him no less “natural” than anything else we encounter.

        • Kodie

          I don’t really get into superhero comics/movies, etc., but I was watching The Flash on tv the other night. I don’t usually watch it, but I just didn’t change the channel while I had it on in the background, but it was easy enough to follow. Nora found out she was a speedster after some kind of fight thing that put her in the hospital. She and her coworker/friend were investigating theft of chemicals they couldn’t solve, and in a heist, her friend got killed by the thief. I forget the villain’s name (and apparently he plays more than one character, which had confused me), but he and Nora figured out that the chemicals were stolen by the guy who killed her friend to create an “artificial speedster” ability. As in, Nora was naturally empowered by genetics (and didn’t yet know “The Flash” was her father, Barry Allen), and suppressed by technology, while that other guy used a chemical combo to replicate the power artificially.

          Which, in this world, was not at all unusual. Superman’s powers are because he’s an alien, so basically the powers of another animal, which you wouldn’t dispute, however looking like a human and having the power of flight from just pointing his arms out, and we don’t (or I don’t know if it’s been explored), what the inside of his body is like, what’s in place of the muscles, and how does that work. In these worlds, people just think Superman exists, or The Flash, or whichever. If Peter Parker turns into a spider man after being bitten by radioactive spider, we just go with it, and in the universe where Spiderman is real, people are not really surprised about it.

          So it would be with god. If that’s what it was, that’s what it would be. Everyone in the tv can see Spiderman, or The Flash, or Superman. There is no dispute they exist there, or what their powers are, or how they came to have them. Knowing if god exists, what it wants, and how it interacts with this world should not be up for question. Most “unexplainable” events come from not knowing enough. If there’s one obvious guess, but 5 other plausible explanations, but you still don’t know, it’s not unexplainable (such as who took the cookie out of the cookie jar). Someone did, it didn’t disappear from a ghost. Statistics and timing explains just about anything else – how many survivors from x catastrophic event. Just missing getting hit by a bus. Getting a rare disease.

          The interference of a deity seems like a subjective opinion to prefer certain statistical circumstances more than others, because they are personal. You don’t look it up how often this happens to other people. You think, this happened just to me, for a special reason, because I’m me.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          Exactly. It’s easy to imagine still being able to find uses for “natural” and “supernatural” in such a world. And in that universe, scientists wouldn’t accept or disregard something merely because of the label. All they would care about is whether there is sufficient evidence to support a proposition.

          Well, for any theists out there, the same is true in this world. No one rejects supernatural claims because they are “supernatural”. Instead, the reverse is true; the “supernatural” label happens to house only things for which we have insufficient evidence. Provide evidence and I would gladly accept any and all claims currently labeled “supernatural”… and so would anyone else you accuse of having a naturalistic bias.

        • Phil Rimmer

          The crashing problem with the term supernatural is that of non objective reporting.

          One of my job tasks is to forensically examine the causes of system failures and the biggest problem is the terrible/incompetent witnessing of events and appearances that sits in reports of such failures. Having even a glimmer of a mode by which the failure could happen biases what people notice, how they gather evidence and how they relay it. People don’t even realise that their actions are biased by anticipating a particular outcome. Questioning them almost needs a kind of therapy to not interpose their introspections on their observations.

          Based on the Bayesian truth of the non validation of anything labelled supernatural and the frequent demonstration of deception associated with the term, I would trust much more the report of puzzling events submitted bluntly and without an implicit analysis interlarded.

    • ThaneOfDrones


      “Natural” is perfectly valid when talking about things like flavoring (natural vs. artificial) or a cause of death.

      This brings up my pet peeve. Why is something caused by the human species considered not natural? What other species do we exempt from the label of ‘natural’?

      • Phil Rimmer

        Because it is a product of mind.

        • ThaneOfDrones

          So other species do not have minds? Pththththt.

          Bees can link symbols to numbers, study finds

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          It is a common usage for “natural” to distinguish between products of a human mind and those with other causes, including other life forms. I’ve also seen “natural” distinguish between any conscious cause and those without consciousness. So long as each side is clearly defined, it’s not a problem.

          I think the problem you have is that “unnatural” can colloquially mean defective in some way, and all of these definitions tend to get blurred.

        • Phil Rimmer

          I don’t think bees have minds. You could argue for the poetic and cultural creations of cetaceans as being the product of minds and I would fully accept the likelihood. But these are recent understandings quite after the formation of the words’ original intended meanings.

          Should we adapt the meanings away from product of mind or not?

          No. Only broaden the franchise of the minded. (Something I’m very keen on. Sagan noted the Russians referred to Comrade Dolphin.) Mind-made is a really important idea, that would only demand being re-made somehow else, if the distinction of “artificial” was to be erased.

      • JustAnotherAtheist2

        It is a consistent usage in that context, but I’ll grant that it opens to door to equivocation (homosexuality is unnatural!). This is all the more reason why “natural” is such a loaded term and we should stop being so willing to engage in uses of “natural” that aren’t sensible or consistent.

        • ThaneOfDrones

          (homosexuality is unnatural!).

          If you find yourself is such a conversation, you can have a little fun by pretending that the bigot is claiming that homosexuality is supernatural.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          I’ve done just that. If they are supposed opposites, it should follow. This, of course, forces them to concede that “natural” isn’t as simple as they like to imply. Temporarily, anyway.

      • RichardSRussell

        And my own pet peeve (my, aren’t we a peevish bunch today?) is to wonder what the hell is the supposed advantage of being natural? Houses aren’t natural. Clothes aren’t natural. Computers aren’t natural. Almost the entirety of what we call civilization is a human construct designed to protect us against the dangers and vagaries of nature. “Artificial” is not only good, it’s an essential pre-requisite for modern life.

        • Kodie

          In the coldest of winters, I always wonder why Christians think the earth is at a perfect spot from the sun for humans to inhabit. Most of the earth is ocean, so we made boats. A lot of the earth is uninhabitable without warm clothing much of the year, and the ability to find warm shelter, heated by dead dinosaurs. Sure, we used to live in trees and caves. That sucked. We used to have to walk everywhere, not like we’d die if we had to stand still, but I guess that’s a nomad for ya. Whenever I see a house on stilts, I think, who is this planet designed for? People who want to live somewhere next to the water, that will flood, and invent a way to keep their belongings dry.

          Meanwhile, there are lots of animals that find their ideal climate, or adapt physically to other climates as they explore their surroundings north or south. Like, a lot of animals survive outdoors somewhere in the cold of winter without a space heater, even, and then shed their winter fur when it gets warm. Trees can’t move, they hang out all winter. Why is this planet created by god for humans? We can’t survive anywhere without making more stuff to protect us.

        • When you think of the expansion of humans into new environments, for lots of them I wonder, “Who’d do that?” Siberia? Crossing the land bridge to America? Deserts? I guess I’m just not cut out to be an explorer.

      • abb3w

        Why is something caused by the human species considered not natural?

        Because of the inferred element of “artifice”.

    • abb3w

      Instead, atheists should go to the heart of the matter and ask for definitional clarity. What characteristics make an entity natural?

      I’ve tried this on occasion. Christian apologists seem seldom inclined to engage deeply in dialogue on that question.

      You can see the results of one attempt on such lines in the Disqus thread here.

      • Grimlock

        Christian apologists seem seldom inclined to engage deeply in dialogue on that question.

        This aligns too well with my experiences. The exceptions makes it worthwhile, though.

        The linked exchange was interesting. Not necessarily what I’d call successful, but still interesting.

        • abb3w

          Dave Armstrong generally seems willing to deal with polite disputation. Eventually, however, he tends to lose interest and throw up a couple links to long essays peripheral to the point at hand as “response”. It seems related to the “Gish Gallop” in some ways.

        • Grimlock

          I somewhat disagree with the first part of your description of how Armstrong appears. But we might have different experiences in that regard. (I am, after all, banned from his blog.)

          The latter part sounds more familiar, though. Perhaps a mix of a red herring and a gish gallop. A red, galloping herring?

        • abb3w

          I somewhat disagree with the first part of your description of how Armstrong appears. But we might have different experiences in that regard. (I am, after all, banned from his blog.)

          I can see that happening, though I’ve not turned up where it happened to you. He did remove one of my comments where I deliberately resorted to obscenity (and noted that it was deliberate) as the most efficient means to convey an emotional reaction — precisely to one of his “galloping herrings” (“Fish Gallop”?), which I explored and found a dead end. However, while he removed the comment, he also responded to my points by providing more solid evidence.

          The point involved was a quite incidental point about Trump’s critics, for which he didn’t have quite as much of a stake as (say) the fundamental question of whether or not God exists. That may have been a factor. It probably helped that my posts of the last couple months prior to that had led him to conclude that I was generally polite — and apparently sharp enough to be initially mistaken for a professor. (I’m mostly just a well-read dilettante.)

          My perspective on him also is a matter of relative measure. A lot of the religious bloggers close comments (apparently) to avoid such dissenting views; others will censor dissenting views at the drop of a hat. Armstrong doesn’t let his blog become a free-for-all, and wants comments to avoid personal insults, but seems tolerant – comparatively.

          Still, you might find some of my comments here amusing.

           

          So, do you recall what particular exchange got you banned?

        • Grimlock

          My general impression is that he is more concerned with giving the appearances of being willing to engage in polite exchanges, than in actually having a genuine and open exchange of ideas. As such he might appear more open than other blogs, though I have little grounds for comparison in the regard.

          I skimmed some of your recent comments, and you do give the impression of being very knowledgeable. I can see how one would be curious about your background.

          Still, you might find some of my comments here amusing.

          Oh, I did. Well done!

          So, do you recall what particular exchange got you banned?

          Indeed. It was at the end of the exchange in the comments here. It was at the end of a time period where there had been some tension between us, as might be apparent from some of the remarks.

          I’d be curious to hear your opinion of the exchange.

          As a quick remark, I’ll note that my comments did focus quite heavily on his behavior. However, as he was the one bringing up his behavior in his arguments, I considered it fair game.

          ETA: Messed up HTML codes.

        • abb3w

          My general impression is that he is more concerned with giving the appearances of being willing to engage in polite exchanges, than in actually having a genuine and open exchange of ideas.

          That seems a plausible hypothesis. Still, to maintain the appearance he needs to allow at least some expression of competing ideas.

          I’d be curious to hear your opinion of the exchange.

          It looks worthy of study.

          Superficially, I’ll note some of his response seems to be more “attitude bolstering” than “counterargument”. For background, you might see (doi:10.1207/S15324834BASP2502_5); note that resistance to persuasion is not limited to theists, and may be entirely rational when someone is persistently trying to convince you that you are a cabbage.

          For a more in-depth assessment, I’ll need to look back at the posts and comments over at Bob’s blog that form the background.

        • Grimlock

          That seems a plausible hypothesis. Still, to maintain the appearance he needs to allow at least some expression of competing ideas.

          Agreed. It’s certainly speculative, and even if correct, it might be subconscious.

          It looks worthy of study.

          Thanks? As I noted in one of the comments in the linked exchange, I think it’s a good idea to have someone read through and get a somewhat less biased view of one’s comments.

          Superficially, I’ll note some of his response seems to be more “attitude bolstering” than “counterargument”. For background, you might see (doi:10.1207/S15324834BASP2502_5); note that resistance to persuasion is not limited to theists, and may be entirely rational when someone is persistently trying to convince you that you are a cabbage.

          For a more in-depth assessment, I’ll need to look back at the posts and comments over at Bob’s blog that form the background.

          That looks like an interesting study. Unfortunately, it’s behind a paywall, and I don’t have access a way to get behind those at the moment. But the abstract was interesting, and I did a bit of googling on “attitude bolstering”.

          If you’re curious, I had a few other exchanges with Armstrong on his blog. Many of them are under the comments in his (heavily edited) “dialogues”, helpfully listed under my alias here.

        • abb3w

          That looks like an interesting study. Unfortunately, it’s behind a paywall, and I don’t have access a way to get behind those at the moment.

          There’s been a couple pirate copies floating around the internet at various points, but Google doesn’t seem to point to any this week. The most interesting highlight in it is a list (with references) summarizing seven types of strategies that were reported in the literature, and noting an eighth. Several of these types are also noted in Prasad’s “There Must Be a Reason” paper, which adds one more (inferred justification) and presently turns up an unguarded PDF when sought via Google Scholar.

          In general, if you can determine a current email address for one of a paper’s author’s, you can often get a PDF by sending a polite email asking for one.

          If you’re curious, I had a few other exchanges with Armstrong on his blog.

          I think I’ve looked at a couple of them before, but I’ll probably take another look in the next week or so.

          However, another observation comes out from a quick glance at the titles — several of these seem to involve ideas that are relatively common in the atheist community. (Comparisons of Thor and YHWH have seem pretty standard meme fare for the part couple years.) As such, he’s probably encountered similar arguments before, akin to an moderately experienced chess master encountering yet another player starting with the English Opening. This leaves him unlikely to respond with either curiosity or surprise. I’m giving him something more akin to the Hippopotamus Defense — a weird approach he’s not personally encountered involving philosophy he’s only peripherally familiar with and never seen applied in theology. (Throwing a semi-custom GSS analysis at him seems more into Frankenstein-Dracula Variation territory, however.)

          Of course, curiosity and surprise only go just so far.

        • Grimlock

          My apologies for the horribly late response. Life’s been hectic lately, and I haven’t had the energy to follow up on several interesting Disqus discussions.

          I found the article you mentioned, and have started reading it. Interesting stuff, thanks for the suggestion!

          I agree that some of the subjects are quite common fare, and something he might have run across multiple times before. Though I’d point out that these are for the most part subjects brought up by himself, and he does not seem familiar with a nontheistic side of things. (Hmm, I wonder if I just became a bit defensive here…)

          Your approach seems intriguing. You don’t seem to be pushing much. By which I mean that you don’t seem to push for concessions when he is blatantly wrong, for instance. You also seem impressively knowledgeable of a wide range of areas. Trying to follow along with that might simply require too much effort for too little gain.

        • abb3w

          By which I mean that you don’t seem to push for concessions when he is blatantly wrong, for instance.

          Well, as to that, there don’t seem to be many areas (with the possible exception of the discussion on ID that’s recently begun; and perhaps not even there) where I would consider him in “blatantly wrong” territory. Rather, I consider his conclusions to largely be based from premises that I don’t accept.

          This may tie to your suggestion he’s unfamiliar with some of the nontheistic perspectives. It’s possible I might at least increase his familiarity with such, noting what alternative premises lead to some alternative conclusions. Contrariwise, some of my actual premises lead to conclusions by fairly long and tangled paths, such the application is not obvious from the outset. He seems actively disinterested in the minutia that lead to these fundamental differences; lately, I’ve taken to referring to them as “cans of worms”, suggesting some aspects of intermediate conclusions that I reach, and noting how they illuminate his perspective.

          Nohow, I suppose my particularly idiosyncratic view may not do much to increase his general familiarity with the general variety of nontheistic views.

        • Grimlock

          Well, as to that, there don’t seem to be many areas (with the possible exception of the discussion on ID that’s recently begun; and perhaps not even there) where I would consider him in “blatantly wrong” territory. Rather, I consider his conclusions to largely be based from premises that I don’t accept.

          Heh, perhaps this highlights one of the reasons that I am banned and you are not.

          “Blatantly wrong” was probably too strong. However, to take a concrete example, I might have pushed harder – and phrased myself more confrontationally – than you did when he completely missed/ignored how your statistical analysis had accounted for educational levels and so.

          This may tie to your suggestion he’s unfamiliar with some of the nontheistic perspectives. It’s possible I might at least increase his familiarity with such, noting what alternative premises lead to some alternative conclusions. Contrariwise, some of my actual premises lead to conclusions by fairly long and tangled paths, such the application is not obvious from the outset. He seems actively disinterested in the minutia that lead to these fundamental differences; lately, I’ve taken to referring to them as “cans of worms”, suggesting some aspects of intermediate conclusions that I reach, and noting how they illuminate his perspective.

          Nohow, I suppose my particularly idiosyncratic view may not do much to increase his general familiarity with the general variety of nontheistic views.

          Cans of worms. I like it.

          There is probably something to be said for exposing someone to opposing viewpoints from a friendly face. While the specifics have left my mind, I seem to recall that such allows for far easier digestion of said viewpoints than if they are coming from a more, shall we say antagonistic, source.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Heh, perhaps this highlights one of the reasons that I am banned and you are not.

          Coincidentally I was reading about this on his blog earlier. Something he has a stick up his arse about. According to Armstrong, he banned you for appearing to be all nice as pie while engaging him on his blog, but were backstabbing him elsewhere on the tinterwebz. So you had to go.

          That puts paid to his reasoning for banhammering folk from his site. It would appear that being a naughty person anywhere is reason for him to censor ya from his house.

        • Grimlock

          Oh, that.

          If I remember correctly, most of those comments of mine that he quoted (and occasionally misquoted) were from after I got banned, while the rest were pretty much equivalent to things that I said to him on his blog, to his face. Not to mention that given his past behaviour, I knew he’d most likely be reading my comments on my profile and the comments for that particular blog post here on CE, so the idea that it was “behind his back” is laughable.

          But hey, it’s his wheelhouse. He can ban whomever he so chooses. I figure, live and let live, eh?

          Still, it can be interesting to have someone else give their impressions of your debating behaviour. Sometimes you even realize that there’s an improvement to be made. I’d be curious to hear your impressions of some of the exchanges I had with Armstrong, if you can be bothered.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I figure, live and let live, eh?

          The irony is, he doesn’t.

          Still, it can be interesting to have someone else give their impressions of your debating behaviour.

          I’ve always found you amicable and your comments to be erudite and coherent, even if I don’t always agree with their content.

          I’d be curious to hear your impressions of some of the exchanges I had with Armstrong, if you can be bothered.

          I’ve read a couple and I don’t know why the snowflake is getting so bent outta shape. I may well go lurk some more, time permitting.

        • According to Armstrong, he banned you for appearing to be all nice as pie while engaging him on his blog, but were backstabbing him elsewhere on the tinterwebz.

          That makes him a great mental fit for Christianity, given his eagerness for revenge for wrongs done to him.

        • Susan

          Hi Bob.

          Sorry to bother you off-topic.But a long post I wrote in response to Grimlock is pending. (Which,from experience, means it will not go through.)

          Any idea why?

        • No problem. We live in a fallen world, remember?

          I checked my Pending and Spam folders for anything from you and found nothing. When did you post it? And was it a comment for this post or some other one?

        • Susan

          Hi Bob,

          Sorry again. It got through.

          Any idea why it got held up?

          (Ignore comment below.)

        • Ignorant Amos

          He does appear to be a right piece of work.

        • Ignorant Amos

          If you’re curious, I had a few other exchanges with Armstrong on his blog. Many of them are under the comments in his (heavily edited) “dialogues”, helpfully listed under my alias here.

          Waoh! Just Waoh!

        • Pofarmer
        • WTF?? It’s a 7500-word rebuttal to comments at this blog?? There are novellas that are shorter!

          I can appreciate that sometimes it’s hard to think up content for the blog, but just whining at how those guys at that other blog are mean to you seems a bit petty. I was going to say that I like being an “atheist icon,” but since he gets the last word in the drama that plays out in his mind, I doubt I look good in his version of events.

          I can imagine him playing with his dolls and toys as he reads out our lines. I’m probably Mr. Potato Head. I bet he got to be Ken, darn it.

        • Pofarmer

          I really don’t even want to think about the type of mindset it takes to do that sort of stuff. I also don’t want to think about the sorts of things people like him used to do, and would do again, if they had the power to do it.

        • Whoa. Your mind goes to dark places, bro. You share the Catholic background with him, so you come from a helpful vantage point.

        • Ignorant Amos

          He eclipses that other piece of crud Brandon Vogt by a long chalk and a never thought I’d be saying that.

        • Greg G.

          There are 20 comments under that article. None of them are actually about the article. They are about Strange Notions and Estranged Notions. There is one from about the time of the article and a reply from DA. Eighteen of them are from two months ago when Luke B. began commenting.

        • Grimlock

          Haha, what a delightful response!

        • Ignorant Amos

          }8O)~

        • Many of them are under the comments in his (heavily edited) “dialogues”, helpfully listed under my alias here.

          Wow–how does he find the time? I don’t even know what the purpose of that page is. Imagine what he could accomplish if he stopped carefully logging all the terrible insults to his reputation.

        • Grimlock

          I suspect it’s actually a quite efficient strategy.

          Many of the “dialogues” are from exchanges that he’s already had. (Primarily not a log of Insults.) Making some quick edits turns those into rather quick and easy blog posts. With some, ahem, editorial creativity one can also make sure that the point one wants to make comes across, while also giving the impression of having many “dialogues”.

          Now, I don’t expect that those blog posts are as popular among readers as most other posts. But they still serve to increase the frequency of blog posts, which means that one of his posts will more frequently be displayed in the Patheos list of what’s trending on Patheos Catholic. Possibly a good source of new viewers of the blog. (Speaking from my own experience, I often use the list of trending posts (I.e. recent posts?) to find interesting articles.)

          So, as far as getting more readers/page views it doesn’t seem like a bad strategy. If one is also concerned with giving the impression of being open to dialogue, it might also be of use in that respect.

        • I often struggle figure out what I should write about next, and even when I do find a topic, there’s often a lot of research. So I see the attraction in an easy post.

    • LastManOnEarth

      I’ve often considered whether “natural” and “supernatural” aren’t actually properties of phenomenon themselves but rather signifiers of the nature of the evidence (or lack thereof) for the phenomenon.

      I agree that “natural” and “supernatural” are not particularly useful labels. Rather, we have phenomenon for which we have reliable (repeatable, observer independent, etc.) evidence and phenomenon for which we don’t. Labelling something “supernatural” doesn’t get it off the hook for requiring evidence to warrant belief. Indeed, labelling something “supernatural” seems to be an implicit admission that one cannot warrant belief.

      • JustAnotherAtheist2

        Agreed. This is why I sometimes say that “supernatural” is an argument from ignorance in word form. 🙂

      • abb3w

        I’d disagree slightly. While “supernatural” phenomena generally don’t have such evidence, that doesn’t seem a philosophically intrinsic characteristic.

        Consider the account of the “burning bush” of Exodus 3 — which yes, is an account that may not be the sort of “reliable” evidence you want. However, presuming that the account is accurate, it would generally seem what is considered a “miracle” and thus “supernatural” — especially the latter, in that it involves talking with God. Now suppose that starting next Tuesday, burning bushes of this sort start cropping up all over. It might be less considered a miracle, but still would seem to be something considered “supernatural” in the usual sense since it’s still involving talking to God.

        Nohow, it’s still involving human experience; therefore, an empirical (εμπειρία) phenomenon.

        My sticking point is that I fail to grasp what basis an empirical phenomenon is classed as “supernatural” rather than “natural”. In other words — if we can experience anything caused by gods, what about them makes any such experience “supernatural”?

    • eric

      My pet peeve is people who make a pet peeve about the word “supernatural.” 🙂 Because you’re essentially siderailing the debate into a syntactical one rather than a content one.

      The content discussion is still valid and is not addressed by complaining about the term ‘supernatural’. To whit, if we had reproducible, testable, confirmed evidence of something like faith healing in response to Christian prayers, or the soul, or if priests could work miracles, etc… then it doesn’t matter what you call it or into what category you pigeonhole it; those observations would provide some provisional, prima facie evidence that Christian theological claims are correct. Or at least worthy of serious consideration.

      The same is pretty much true for any ‘supernatural’ concept. If we had evidence of telepathy, this would make us rethink how we understand the world and consider whether other things-labeled-supernatural might have something to them. Ditto for ghosts, or someone able to predict lottery numbers, or whatever. Complaining that there’s no definitional clarity for the term ‘supernatural’ is just irrelevant to the question of whether claims like this are empirically supported or not. Right now, the answer to that is “not.” But if in the future this changes, then the people supporting such claims would have every right so say ‘see? We told you so; you’d better take our beliefs more seriously’. Claiming that they need to define whether these phenomena count as natural or supernatural is a fallacious and utterly irrelevant response. The only issue for science/empiricism is ‘how well supported they are by observation.’ Not ‘is the label’s denotation clear.’

      • Susan

        My pet peeve is people who make a pet peeve about the word “supernatural.”

        I can’t help it. I’ve tried to get my head around the word (There is a claim embedded in it.) and it seems incoherent. When I press people who use the term about it, the only definition I’m ever given is “beyond natural”, “transcends the natural” and/or “not natural”.

        That’s a problem of syntax that they brought.

        To whit, if we had reproducible, testable, confirmed evidence of something like faith healing in response to Christian prayers, or the soul, or if priests could work miracles, etc… then it doesn’t matter what you call it or into what category you pigeonhole it;

        It does. Because they claim that the reasons for that confirmed evidence (which doesn’t exist, but you and I both know that, so that’s not the point) is some vague model, which they never define, that “transcends the natural”.

        The same is pretty much true for any ‘supernatural’ concept. If we had evidence of telepathy, this would make us rethink how we understand the world and consider whether other things-labeled-supernatural might have something to them. Ditto for ghosts, or someone able to predict lottery numbers, or whatever.

        But there would be no reason to think we weren’t dealing with natural phenonema.

        Complaining that there’s no definitional clarity for the term ‘supernatural’ is just irrelevant to the question of whether claims like this are empirically supported or not

        I understand your point as far as this. There is no empirical support for these things. There are only people counting the hits and not the misses. Advancing ghosts of the gaps, etc.

        The only issue for science/empiricism is ‘how well supported they are by observation.’ Not ‘is the label’s denotation clear.

        I can’t agree with you there. Claiming that people can communicate telepathically is one thing if you can support it with evidence.

        Claiming that that ability is “supernatural” is another thing entirely.

        • Phil Rimmer

          The problem with “supernatural” is the bogus appearance of legitimacy, an intimation that it exists but awaits explanation with the physics of another realm that yet intersects, on convenient occasions, with this.

          The “supernatural” behaviours are mooted only and lack any, ANY reliable evidence. Its not that they await explanation, they await any demonstration.

          Unexplained and not demonstrated are the descriptors we need. Plain simple…unsexy, non manipulative.

      • JustAnotherAtheist2

        Because you’re essentially siderailing the debate into a syntactical one rather than a content one.

        That it could be considered “syntactical” in no way diminishes its importance or relevance.

        Claiming that they need to define whether these phenomena count as natural or supernatural is a fallacious and utterly irrelevant response.

        Not when theists regularly charge atheists of having a “naturalistic bias” or something to that effect. The lack of substance underlying the label is not only relevant, it’s causal.

        I should also add that I never said anyone needs to claim “whether phenomena count as natural or supernatural”. I’m not sure where you got that idea from. If you read my comment again, you’ll see I’m merely asking for definitional clarity after the claim is already made

        The only issue for science/empiricism is ‘how well supported they are by observation.’ Not ‘is the label’s denotation clear.’

        You are actually agreeing with me here. That you seem to think it is a point of disagreement makes me think you didn’t understand my argument, which is likely in large part my fault.

        Edit: JBSchmidt illustrates my second response above quite nicely with his “god did it vs. nature did it”. Conceding the theistic misuse opened Bob up to JB’s rebuttal and, IMO, it is better to preemptively address that issue.

    • Grimlock

      Interesting comment.

      What do you think about the following definitions of naturalism and supernaturalism?

      Naturalism is when the physical exists, and if the mental exists, it’s dependent on the physical for its existence.

      Supernaturalism is when the mental exists, and if the physical exists, it’s dependent on the mental for its existence.

      In that case, supernatural entities would be those that have mental properties, but does not have an ultimately physical causal origin.

      • epeeist

        What do you think about the following definitions of naturalism and supernaturalism?

        I was going to say that this is substance dualism, but it actually looks more like Berkelian idealism.

        • Grimlock

          I think I first saw it referred to as source physicalism over on the Secular Outpost.

      • Phil Rimmer

        For me the mental is physical. It comprises certain physical configurations and sequences of configurations of matter and energy like thus and so. The mental always presupposes agency as a key property.

        The mental may, in (sub-component) part, be stored and transferred on otherwise passive substrates, but when re-installed on an active substrate (an agent) it may well alter the characteristics of that agency.

        If we allow for mental entities not describable in this way (always physical) then we have spawned a metaphysical entity that has everything still to prove.

        By not immediately rooting the mental in the physical as a subset of the physical, we trick ourselves into imagining an abstraction continually unevidenced and unjustified.

        Naturalism proceeds toward agency.

        Supernaturalism proceeds from agency…. toward more agency?

        • Grimlock

          Agree with your remark. Except for this last part, that I’m not sure about.

          Naturalism proceeds toward agency.

          Supernaturalism proceeds from agency…. toward more agency?

          Do you mean the natural world has changed from not containing agency towards containing agency? Or that a move towards agency is a necessary consequence of naturalism?

          I’m not sure if this is a negative trait for Supernaturalism if it doesn’t do the same thing.

        • Phil Rimmer

          Its half baked after-thoughts from me.

          I think mind, mental agency, emerges from a naturalistic world, driven by the same thermodynamics of disequilibrium that causes ever more efficient means of dissipating heat through complex structure and behaviour.

          I was just musing if something similar might be contrived if some abstract non-physical mind existed initially, but then realised we have no guidelines whatsoever to direct the thought experiment.

        • Grimlock

          Agreed to all of that, if we limit the naturalistic world to one somewhat similar to ours. (I have no idea how to quantify “somewhat” in that sentence.)

      • JustAnotherAtheist2

        This certainly draws a clearer line between them, though it strikes me as bearing a strong resemblance to solipsism in theistic models. In both “realms” mental and physical exist, the only discrepancy is what the root cause is. If god, a supposedly mental being created everything, then everything is supernatural.

        Can you clarify what a non-god mental foundation for something physical would look like?

        • Grimlock

          If god, a supposedly mental being created everything, then everything is supernatural.

          Right you are. So the definitions doesn’t really work as a way to distinguish natural and supernatural entities, even if it works as a distinction between naturalism and supernaturalism.

          Can you clarify what a non-god mental foundation for something physical would look like?

          Nope. Sorry. I can’t even clarify what a god serving as a foundation for something physical would look like…

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          Lol! Thanks.

    • Grimlock

      I guess it’s time to bust out my pet peeve..

      I guess it’s time to bust out an xkcd reference…

      https://xkcd.com/1368/

  • Brian Curtis

    To this day, people proudly announce “You can’t prove I’m wrong!” like it’s a victory rather than an admission of defeat. We need better education on logic and critical thinking.

    • RichardSRussell

      Actually, under the rules of logic, all you need is a single counterexample to disprove a global generalization. A single white crow is all it takes to prove wrong the assertion that all crows are black.

      This principle can be applied to global generalizations about omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence, and omnibenevolence as well.

  • ThaneOfDrones

    If the claim is that God did something, we need evidence.

    Indeed. If God did X, then we need evidence that He did it, and we will seek evidence of how He did it. But… once we understand the how, then we will probably no longer need the who. This is the entire history of science in a nutshell.

  • RichardSRussell

    Christianity has been around for 2000 years, during which time it’s been exposed to countless challenges and has had plenty of time to come up with responses to them all. You probably can’t think of a single question for Christianity that it doesn’t already have an answer to. Some of them are even right.

    • Kodie

      My favorite is that you can get an answer for one question, but itself needs to be questioned, and you get a different answer. All the answers together do not make a complete picture, but is more like…. this lie covers that lie, but exposes another lie, so you have to cover for that lie, so it just goes around and around in circles. Natural explanations support each other, whereas religious explanations are like a spinning plate act.

      • RichardSRussell

        To be fair, even naturalistic explanations eventually reach the dead end of brute fact, as any 4-year-old can readily demonstrate by asking “Why?” after every explanation. Sooner or later, it turns out that answers to questions like “Why is there something rather than nothing?” is simply “We don’t know of any simpler reasons. That’s just the way it is.”

        Religion, OTOH, is all over the map. You will not find an American astronomy, a Baptist biology, a capitalist chemistry, a mammalian math, or a feminist physics. There’s only one worldwide version of each, because they’re all based on facts, not accidents of birth or matters of opinion. Conversely, religion is nothing BUT opinions, no facts involved, which is why anybody’s word on religion is just as good as anyone else’s (to wit, no good at all).

        • Kodie

          A dead end, maybe, but you’re not really going to find too many naturalistic explanations that pulls the pants down on another naturalistic explanation. All the various natural explanations for things do not negate or expose each other the way religious arguments do. The way I understand science is, experiments have to account for nature as it’s already understood. It’s not like religion looks at the distance of the planet earth from the sun and supposes god must have had something to do with, and the flaw is pointed out, they make up another story. It’s not an overwhelming amount of support for the existence of god, so much as a lot of patches on a story with a lot of holes. They have to take a patch off one hole to patch another, you know what I mean?

          As for kids asking questions, that’s another blah blah argument they use for god – why do we ask why, and why does it always end up at the why are we here, and why is there something instead of nothing? Aha, that’s just god giving us a hint that he’s real close by, waiting for us to basically make up an answer that doesn’t give any satisfaction.

        • RichardSRussell

          The way I understand science is, experiments have to account for nature as it’s already understood.

          Indeed. One of my favorite examples is how Einstein’s relativity theories accounted for everything that Newton’s laws of motion did and more besides. It wasn’t a revolution, it was an evolution.

          That said, we shouldn’t overpromise. There are certain questions that science just doesn’t have the answers to and may never have. (How to explain quantum uncertainty? Maybe we’ll never know. But we can measure its effects to the 20th decimal place. Let’s see prayer, revelation, or ancient manuscripts try to top THAT!) Merely acknowledging that science doesn’t have all the answers is simple honesty, and it allows us to (#1) avoid the charge of arrogance and (#2) paint an attractive picture of how exciting the quest for future truths still is.

        • Rudy R

          Since we’re talking pet peeves, I can’t stand the question, “Why is there something rather than nothing?” That question infers a creator as a brute fact. I would counter, is “nothing” even a possible option?

        • RichardSRussell

          It’s not really a meaningless question. There are 5 main hypotheses re “Where did everything come from?”:

          
 (1) Some entity made it. (Religious people always claim it was their entity.)

          
 (2) It’s always been there.


          (3) It sprang into existence spontaneously (like electron-positron pair production writ large).

          
 (4) It’s not really there; we’re all living in The Matrix.


          (5) The question is meaningless, like “What’s north of the North Pole?”

          There isn’t enuf evidence available to seriously support any of these hypotheses, so — far from concluding that we must take one of them on faith — the most reasonable position to hold as of 2019 is “nobody knows”.

        • My counter: You think that nothing is the default? Fascinating! Now defend that claim.

      • Jim Jones

        Dusty Springfield – The Windmills Of Your Mind

        Round
        Like a circle in a spiral
        Like a wheel within a wheel
        Never ending or beginning
        On an ever spinning reel
        Like a snowball down a mountain
        Or a carnival balloon
        Like a carousel that’s turning
        Running rings around the moon

        Like a clock whose hands are sweeping
        Past the minutes of its face
        And the world is like an apple
        Whirling silently in space
        Like the circles that you find
        In the windmills of your mind.

    • Brian Curtis

      Christianity has indeed come up with ‘responses.’ But for actual answers, we had to wait for science.

    • Jim Jones

      Well, not that many. My doctor obnoxiously refuses to use pigeon blood to cure leprosy – or bunions.

  • Ignorant Amos

    OT @BobSeidensticker:disqus

    Apparently the complete list of words banned by Patheos is listed in the comment at the following link…

    http://disq.us/p/228afq7

    • epicurus

      My flagged comment a few days ago didn’t have any of those, but I got put in the waiting for moderation pile. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/b81291f44231709bf07edfdd289fa92a298d957f462ad630f845c0a0a5760582.jpg

      • Kodie

        How many ways there are to spell the person who has intercourse with their female parent, though. I wonder if this list comes from somewhere, or they had a meeting to discuss it. Poor secretary writing all these down.

        • epicurus

          Then once you’ve got them all written down the committee leader goes “ok read that back to me” !!!!!

      • Ignorant Amos

        A dunno. Maybe you got flagged for some other reason coincidentally and we are attributing it to the “naughty word” phenomena.

        Disqus works in mysterious ways let us all remember.

        • epicurus

          The “Disqus of the gaps”

        • Greg G.

          It was MuslimandIslam.

      • Greg G.

        I wrote a quick script to search for banned words according to a link IA provided above. I didn’t fine-tune it to only look at whole words. Here is the list:

        1. a s s
        2. t i t
        3. is la m
        4. mu sli m
        5. ra cy
        6. ti ti

        Apparently it was #3 and #4.

        • Definitely not cool to have #3 and 4 on the bad words list for any organization, particularly since Patheos is a general religion site.

        • And just to pass along a clarification, these are moderated words, not banned words.

          Hair splitting, I realize, but there you go.

        • Greg G.

          I think tomato and potahto should be moderated.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          But not tomahto and potato?

          Splitter!

          😉

        • epicurus

          Good grief. Thanks!

    • Yes, that’s the list. I’ve pruned the one at this site. Don’t tell anyone, because it’s apparently an accident that I have this superpower.

      If you look at the list, there are racial slurs (OK), seriously strong profanity (pretty much OK), lots of variants of porn-ish words, as Kodie mentioned (OK), and then some mild profanity and lots of ordinary English words (not OK). With luck, the Patheos gods will leave things here like they are at the moment.

      • Kodie

        Well, you didn’t take the site everyone watches videos on off the list. I mean, did you do it since I posted earlier?

        • Nope. Missed that one. I’m sure I’ve missed many that shouldn’t be on that list.

          Things are still up in the air. Hopefully they’re decent at the moment.

        • Kodie

          Still can’t use part of the skeleton in a sentence.

        • I casted another spell. Try it now.

        • Kodie

          Thanks for throwing me a bone.

        • Noop.

          Disqus has a Trust User button, so I did that for some of the regular commentators. Apparently, that feature is disabled. Thanks, Patheos.

          But that seems to me to be the obvious answer. You’ve got your moderated words list for newbies, and a trusted user feature for regulars.

          I guess this is a work in progress.

    • Phil Rimmer

      b*astiality but not bestiality

      rimj*b but not Rimmer

      V*dka but not commie liquor

      fl*ing spaghetti ! Monstrous!

      we*rdo, man…

      • Naughty boy! You said “commie”!

        • Phil Rimmer

          Ha! I didn’t think to check…

          sorry for the added work….

      • Michael Neville

        Thank the flying linguini monster that I drink Scotch instead of Russky liquor.

        • You said “monster.” I’ll let it go just this once.

        • Michael Neville

          Someone at Disqus or Patheos has way too much time on their hands.

        • Phil Rimmer

          I can see dyslexia making an evolutionary comeback.

        • Lark62

          Or something in his hands as he reads the list again and again.

    • epeeist
      • Phil

        Yummy, I regularly have faggots for tea with chips and beans.

  • Polytropos

    The problem I have with using “Goddidit” as an answer is that it prevents people from finding real, scientific answers that lead to real benefits for humanity. Germ theory, for example, allowed us to make advances in the understanding and treatment of disease that were impossible in the days when we thought disease meant god was angry at us for something. “Goddidit” is more than just a non-answer, it shuts down the search for real answers. At best, it sends us off searching for solutions to problems in all the wrong places. At worst, it teaches us not to try finding solutions at all.

  • JBSchmidt

    In the end you are incredibly dishonest. This article is nothing more then a middle age version of, I know you
    are but what am I.

    1) “Got did it.” Vs “Nature did it.” Please provide proof that life can start without an outside force. Or is your nature not really there? Have it show itself by producing life from non-living material with no human interaction.

    2) “Atheists steal from Relion”. Vs “Religion steals from Athiests”. Show me a culture based on atheism and not some form of religion. One that started atheistic. Let’s see the proof that a culture can start atheistic, grow the moral values and then lead people to religion.

    I do enjoy the arrogance of assuming that naturalism is absolutely correct. Curious, how do you falsify your belief that only naturalism exists?

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      Not a bit.

      Show me ONE case in which religion has supplanted naturalism with ACCURATE, USEFUL information / knowledge.

      Then stop sobbing in your corn flakes, junior.

    • 1) “Got did it.” Vs “Nature did it.” Please provide proof that life can start without an outside force.

      Abiogenesis is the consensus within biology, though there is no accepted theory of it.

      But how is this relevant? If you claim that life on earth was instead done supernaturally, that’s an enormous claim. You have the burden of proof. The last 10 bazillion instances where a phenomenon was explained by science as natural and the zero instances where we have an accepted supernatural explanation mean that “natural” is the default assumption.

      Show me a culture based on atheism and not some form of religion. One that started atheistic.

      I don’t know what an atheistic culture is. Stalinist USSR maybe? It was a terrible society, but it was effective.

      A more interesting example is the US, which was defined as, and still is, secular (not atheistic).

      I do enjoy the arrogance of assuming that naturalism is absolutely correct.

      How lucky for you, since naturalism is the default assumption. Of course, I’m happy to consider contradicting evidence.

      Curious, how do you falsify your belief that only naturalism exists?

      Just told you: I am open minded about new ideas. I’ll be happy to consider arguments that Christianity is true. But don’t pretend that this will be easy. You’ve got a very, very big hill to climb. Christianity is a ridiculous claim.

      • JBSchmidt

        1) “Concensus” Great you use a word that means nothing to prove your science of the gaps theory. My claim is no more enormous then the claim that a random set of chemical reactions accidentally produced a self replicating cell for a short period of time, which in turn filled the planet with a wide variety of life. Then stopped and is impossible to reproduce.

        2) Atheist, secular, naturalistic worldview; six of one, half dozen of the other. Regardless, you have no proof that the religious took from a non-religious culture. However, it fits your narrative so who needs proof. Also, to deny that the US wasn’t built on Judeao Christian principals is ignorant. The constitution maybe secular, but the society that created it was heavily religious.

        3) Maybe, but your hill is no shorter.

        • 1) “Concensus” Great you use a word that means nothing to prove your science of the gaps theory.

          FFS. Don’t say “prove.” No one here thinks that science proves anything except you.

          Science delivers. Religion delivers nothing. Or perhaps I speak to hastily? If so, correct me.

          My claim is no more enormous then the claim that a random set of chemical reactions accidentally produced a self replicating cell for a short period of time, which in turn filled the planet with a wide variety of life. Then stopped and is impossible to reproduce.

          You’re adorable. 20 years from now, if we’re still around chatting and biology has a consensus theory of abiogenesis, you’ll deny we even had this conversation and will be off with some new question du jour.

          No, science has no theory of abiogenesis. So what??

          There’s nothing riding on your claim. You don’t say, “Science will never explain abiogenesis, and if it does, I’ll stop being a Christian.” Your argument is, “Science has unanswered questions; therefore, God.”

          you have no proof that the religious took from a non-religious culture.

          Huh? What’s your point?

          The constitution maybe secular, but the society that created it was heavily religious.

          Yep, the constitution is secular. We have a secular government, and we’re doing pretty good. I guess you don’t need a Christian theocracy to do well. How ‘bout that.

          3) Maybe, but your hill is no shorter.

          My hill is nonexistent. Naturalism is the default assumption, since it’s given evidence time after time that it’s reliable. Religion has taught us nothing about reality.

        • JBSchmidt

          You are conflating science and philosophy.

          Christians were involved in the advance of the technology they are apparently stealing.

          Show me a secular culture that developed a morality isolated from religious contact. This is what the naturalist is taking. But you knew that when you misrepresented Turek.

          Religion has taught us the value of humanity. How did naturalism come to that on its own? Especially when confronted with societal pressures such as wealth distribution and limited food. Naturalism has no reason to exist more civil than the animals. The argument can be made that as religion retreats, that animal morality of the naturalism worldview is returning.

          Regarding the origin of life. Unlike other areas of science where it advances toward an answer, origin science is not advancing closer to a naturalistic answer. As the complexity of molecular world increases and as the uniqueness of our planet increases; science gets further from a naturalistic answer.

          The United States created a secular document with the understanding that religion and reason needed to be balanced. If religion only exists you have a theocracy. If reason only exists you have communism. The religious culture of the United States at the time of its founding created the Constitution knowing that whether theocracy or reason, the weakness of men will always pervert the system to gain power. John Adams, “Without religion this world would be something not fit to be mentioned in polite company, I mean Hell.”

        • Christians were involved in the advance of the technology they are apparently stealing.

          I don’t think we’re talking about the same thing.

          My point is: science delivers, while Christianity delivers nothing. We’ve learned nothing new about reality from Christianity. Conclusion: I’ll throw my lot in with the one that teaches us new things, not the one that’s evidence-less.

          Show me a secular culture that developed a morality isolated from religious contact. This is what the naturalist is taking.

          Taking? Morality comes from humans. Christianity is generously giving humanity back what it created in the first place. We need to have Christianity tell us that lying and stealing are bad?

          But you knew that when you misrepresented Turek.

          What did I misrepresent?

          Religion has taught us the value of humanity. How did naturalism come to that on its own?

          Again: we need religion to teach us the basics of morality?? Cultures worldwide (and long before Christianity) have figured out the basics of morality. No Jesus needed, thanks.

          Especially when confronted with societal pressures such as wealth distribution and limited food.

          Look up “GINI Index.” The US ain’t doing so good in this department.

          Naturalism has no reason to exist more civil than the animals.

          (1) We are animals.

          (2) Yet again: God didn’t invent morality.

          Regarding the origin of life. Unlike other areas of science where it advances toward an answer, origin science is not advancing closer to a naturalistic answer.

          Are you saying that you’re confident science will never have a consensus theory of abiogenesis? Tell me that your faith rests on that claim. I’m sure it doesn’t, so this claim of yours is meaningless. Once you’re proved wrong, you’ll just skip along to some other claim. “Science has unanswered questions; therefore, God” is no argument.

          As the complexity of molecular world increases and as the uniqueness of our planet increases; science gets further from a naturalistic answer.

          Show me.

          The United States created a secular document with the understanding that religion and reason needed to be balanced.

          Favoring one religion over another in the state-supported public square is unconstitutional.

          John Adams, “Without religion this world would be something not fit to be mentioned in polite company, I mean Hell.”

          Which is not in the Constitution. Which means that it has no bearing on how the government runs.

          Separation of church and state benefits you as much as it does me.

        • JBSchmidt

          “Science delivers”

          Really? That gives a lot of agency to this force you call science and suddenly it becomes the god. The out come of science is wholly dependent on the work put into it. Over the course of human history both the religious and the non-religious have contributed.

          If you wish to assert that naturalism created the ordered set of scientific laws/principals that are used to make advancements, ok. However, can you please provide an example of a complex system coming to together in a precise order through random chance. That claim is akin to throwing the box of jenga blocks into the air and having them land in a tower, tightly stacked.

          Naturalism borrowed from the theistic idea of an ordered universe. If I am wrong, show me a non-theists that proposed an answer to natural order prior to religion. If you can’t do that, then theism set the table for all the current work being done in science. It’s convenient for non-theists to, after centuries of work on that basis, now propose reasons for universal order. The problem is, could non-theists have achieved that on their own. That burden of proof is on you.

          “Which is not in the Constitution.”

          The point is, not unlike the idea of order in science, it was the belief in original sin coming from the Judaeo/Christian writings that drove the constitution in the direction it is. The founders understood this weakness of men and their desire for power and structured a document in such a way to prevent both the secular god of government or the religious god from stealing liberties from the people.

          “Which means that it has no bearing on how the government runs.”

          Wrong the essence of how our government runs is about curbing man’s inclination to power and control. It is the idea that every man is sinful that structured the 3 branches of government against each other. The rise in socialism stands against this belief and is a product of naturalism. The notion that man, specifically modern man, has achieved the height of intelligence and can use power/control to order society into a sort of utopia of fairness. It stands against the idea of original sin and assumes man will do good with centralized power. History tells the opposite. I know you are going to go back to Europe and say, “but at these guys”. Ok, they produce literally nothing and are heavily dependent on the US economy/military. Where would those pseudo secular countries be if they weren’t relying on the Judaeo/Christian founding of the US?

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          “Science delivers”

          Really? That gives a lot of agency to this force you call science

          Meaning you don’t understand what science IS.

          Science is a METHOD, and it has been shown to deliver for longer than xtianity has been around.

        • ildi

          I’m glad you beat me to it pointing out this basic misunderstanding of what science IS and IS NOT; i.e., not a force, nor magic, but a method, with it’s own limitations, but still the best that human understanding has come up with so far to understand and control our environment, which in my mind is really what religion is all about, also.

        • “Science delivers”
          Really?

          . . . said JB as he typed on a computer powered by electricity, used the internet, was protected by vaccines . . .

          Uh, yeah, really. Or perhaps you were being sarcastic.

          That gives a lot of agency to this force you call science and suddenly it becomes the god.

          It’s a lot more godlike than your god!

          Over the course of human history both the religious and the non-religious have contributed.

          Which changes the point not at all: science delivers. Religion doesn’t. Christians working as scientists (instead of as monks, praying) argues my point.

          can you please provide an example of a complex system coming to together in a precise order through random chance.

          Nope. Why do you ask?

          Naturalism borrowed from the theistic idea of an ordered universe.

          Naturalism says, “Gee, I wonder if there is a law behind phenomenon X.” And then it tests that. Sometimes there is; sometimes not. Jeebus has nothing to do with it.

          If I am wrong, show me a non-theists that proposed an answer to natural order prior to religion.

          Huh? Does the Bible outline the scientific method? What the hell are you talking about?

          The problem is, could non-theists have achieved that on their own. That burden of proof is on you.

          Science is not built on science. Checkmate.

          The point is, not unlike the idea of order in science, it was the belief in original sin coming from the Judaeo/Christian writings that drove the constitution in the direction it is.

          The most charitable interpretation I can come up with is: the founding fathers were largely Christian, and some Christian principles (invented by man, not delivered from God) may have influenced some aspects of the government. Sure, that’s possible.

          The founders understood this weakness of men and their desire for power and structured a document in such a way to prevent both the secular god of government or the religious god from stealing liberties from the people.

          Thanks, Enlightenment. Jesus was in heaven knitting, apparently. A no show yet again.

          the essence of how our government runs is about curbing man’s inclination to power and control.

          Getting pathetically desperate, no? The Constitution is secular. This isn’t a theocracy. Deal with it.

          The notion that man, specifically modern man, has achieved the height of intelligence and can use power/control to order society into a sort of utopia of fairness.

          Quibble all you want about government. I might well agree. But the point remains that God does nothing to help us out. We’re on our own.

          they produce literally nothing and are heavily dependent on the US economy/military. Where would those pseudo secular countries be if they weren’t relying on the Judaeo/Christian founding of the US?

          What does the US as a strong society have to do with Jeebus?

          The uncomfortable fact remains that the hypothesis “the more religion, the better the social metrics” is flatly proven false by stats in Europe. You lose.

        • JBSchmidt

          “the more religion, the better the social metrics”

          I have claimed that. My claim is and has been we can’t get to today’s morality via naturalism, nor can naturalism provide and explanation for order. The explanation you have is either A) I experience it, there for it happened. Or B) Science did it. However if we are nothing more than expression of random processes, both of those are useless because random does not produce order. That is my proof for a creator. I have asked numerous times for proof that random produces order or that a morality exists uniquely outside religious influence. However all you have is ridicule.

        • “the more religion, the better the social metrics”
          I have claimed that.

          You mean you haven’t claimed that?

          My claim is and has been we can’t get to today’s morality via naturalism

          Then where did it come from? Did Shintoism and Druidism deliver the same morality as Christianity?

          When you look at moral claims and actions in the Bible, God and Jesus are appalling.

          nor can naturalism provide and explanation for order.

          What kind of order? Social order?

          The explanation you have is either A) I experience it, there for it happened. Or B) Science did it.

          I claim that science explains things. Christianity explains nothing. Why would anyone look to Christianity to teach us anything new when it has no track record? Science is sufficient. Christianity brings nothing to the table; it’s useless. Occam’s Razor says: cut it off.

          if we are nothing more than expression of random processes

          Who says that? Not me.

          I have asked numerous times for proof that random produces order

          I have no proof. I make no such claim.

          or that a morality exists uniquely outside religious influence. However all you have is ridicule.

          Are you saying that objective moral facts exist? I’ve seen no evidence. Provide some.

        • JBSchmidt

          The Judaeo/Christian faith teaches a created order. Order is required to understand the world and make any scientific advancements. Can computer code be written or understood without order? Nope. Same goes for the universe and life. Naturalism relies on an orderly existence it can’t explain and can’t replicate. Random processes do not create complexity.

        • Why are my comments careful and thorough responses to each of your points and yours are brief? Are you just avoiding the issues where you’re losing?

          The Judaeo/Christian faith teaches a created order.

          Genesis 1 is wrong. Science tells us that that’s not how things started. Fail.

          The Bible can teach whatever it wants; that doesn’t make it science. Science has learned zero from the Bible (and the Bible is full of scientific errors).

          Remember the story of the discovery of the circular structure of benzene? It came to a chemist in a dream. So did he go write that up? Of course not—he used that inspiration as a hypothesis and tested it out. Y’know, using science.

          Order is required to understand the world and make any scientific advancements.

          No idea what this is supposed to mean.

          Random processes do not create complexity.

          Sounds debatable to me, but you’ve still not explained your obsession with randomness. Go.

        • Brian Curtis

          Actually, random processes always and inevitably produce complexity, as countless experiments and models have shown. But other than that, he’s spot-on.

        • I didn’t spend time to think about it, which is why I said that it sounded debatable, but I suppose you’re right. The sand falling in an hourglass comes to mind–the sand avalanches that fall are a complex process.

        • NS Alito

          The cone of sand is an emergent property of the physical nature of the sand grains dropping from a single spot. None of the grains has an explicit “cone-iness” attribute.

        • My favorite example is fluidity emerging from a collection of molecules (like water). Also, pH, wetness, …

        • epeeist

          To take it one further back, particles are emergent properties of fields…

        • JBSchmidt

          “Why are my comments careful and thorough responses to each of your points and yours are brief?”

          Except for the most recent post, I had. Maybe if you could send me a template of the response format, I will do better.

          “Genesis 1 is wrong. Science tells us that that’s not how things started. Fail.”

          Science has a story for how we got here. You have yet to show me where the evidence is for the the ability of science to write that story.

          “The Bible can teach whatever it wants; that doesn’t make it science.”

          Did I say the Bible was science? I am arguing that you cannot achieve what we have without a creator. I reject the science story as it fails to produce any evidence. Yet, everything I see around me that has complexity both a) did not come from random chance and b) has a creator. So my evidence for complexity through intelligent design is vast. Can you show me your evidence for complexity through the continued natural selection of random processes?

          “Science has learned zero from the Bible”

          That is a half truth. Correct, you won’t find the equation for water in the Bible, but many early religious scientists believed God created an ordered and complex system for men to study. Again, the whole not random but ordered thing seems to come from a intelligent creator which those scientist understood and then created the foundation for what we have.

          “So did he go write that up? Of course not”

          Apparently he did or how would we know.

          “randomness”

          Maybe I am wrong, but doesn’t naturalism assume random chemical interaction begin the process that created everything? That by pure random chance the laws of nature which govern those interaction were also initiated at the birth of our universe? Without a creator, produce evidence, something repeatable, that random and unguided creates complexity.

          I hope I got all your points.

        • NS Alito

          People typically quote pieces of others’ comments using the <blockquote> and </blockquote> html wrappers.

          Hence
          <blockquote>Mares eat oats and does eat oats and little lambs eat ivy.</blockquote>
          becomes

          Mares eat oats and does eat oats and little lambs eat ivy.

        • epeeist

          Without a creator, produce evidence, something repeatable, that random and unguided creates complexity.

          And yet again an illicit attempt to shift the burden. Your claim that there was a creator, your burden to show that this is true.

          Of course, once again, you will avoid this either because you are unwilling to shoulder the burden or, more likely, you are incapable of doing so.

        • Science has a story for how we got here. You have yet to show me where the evidence is for the the ability of science to write that story.

          Not my job. Your job is to show us that the incredible “God did it” hypothesis is valid.

          Did I say the Bible was science? I am arguing that you cannot achieve what we have without a creator

          . . . without science. How do you suppose you’ll convince anyone?

          I reject the science story as it fails to produce any evidence.

          Backwards. You don’t get to argue that science is worthless and then conclude that the Bible story is true. The God hypothesis must win on its own merits. And it doesn’t.

          everything I see around me that has complexity both a) did not come from random chance and b) has a creator.

          Ever seen sand fall in an big hourglass? It’s fun to watch the cone of sand build and then collapse periodically in small or large landslides. That is complex. Is there an hourglass god that does it, or is it the result of natural forces?

          Your a) suggests a vague and clumsy attack on evolution. You know that “random chance” doesn’t describe evolution, right? Show us you’ve been paying attention by telling us why.

          b) Every creator that you know has a physical brain. Does this rule apply universally to creators as well?

          So my evidence for complexity through intelligent design is vast.

          It’s a vast argument from incredulity, yes. That’s about it.

          Can you show me your evidence for complexity through the continued natural selection of random processes?

          Holy shit. Look: (1) you have no evidence for the God hypothesis, so you lose. (2) Evolution is the consensus of a scientific field. You don’t have a terminal degree in that field. You have no leg to stand on when you declare the consensus of the people who actually understand the evidence is flawed.

          I thought Christians were supposed to be humble.

          That is a half truth. Correct, you won’t find the equation for water in the Bible, but many early religious scientists believed God created an ordered and complex system for men to study.

          Which has bupkis to do with the Bible.

          Take away Christianity from science, and science would’ve progressed faster.

          Again, the whole not random but ordered thing seems to come from a intelligent creator

          You’re adorable. Learn some science and have some respect for science’s role in the modern world.

          “So did he go write that up? Of course not”
          Apparently he did or how would we know.

          I mean he didn’t write a paper that said, “Hey, I had a dream that a snake reached around and bit its tail to make a circle, so therefore benzene has a ring shape.”

          Maybe I am wrong

          That’s a startling moment of humility. One wonders how you can be so arrogant about dismissing scientific conclusions that you can’t understand.

          doesn’t naturalism assume random chemical interaction begin the process that created everything?

          I assume you’re thinking of abiogenesis. I’m not sure how randomness vs. the laws of physics and chemistry will play out here. We have no theory of abiogenesis yet. (But then it’s not like Christianity can explain the origin of life in any believable way.)

          Abiogenesis isn’t evolution.

        • Greg G.

          Can computer code be written or understood without order? Nope.

          Yep. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolutionary_computation

        • Ignorant Amos

          Ouch!

          Also.

          Dawkins wrote a basic evolutionary computer code called “biomorphs” as described in the “The Blind Watchmaker”.

          “I’d like to show you real evolution happening out here in the wild, but even with stick insects it would take too long in real time. But I can show you evolution happening in the computer. I call these creatures biomorphs.”~Richard Dawkins, “The Blind Watchmaker” (BBC Horizon, 1987)

          http://watchmakersuite.sourceforge.net/

        • NS Alito

          Well…If you saw my onetime co-worker So-Chen’s code you’d know that at least it could be written without order. 😉

        • Greg G.

          However if we are nothing more than expression of random processes, both of those are useless because random does not produce order.

          You keep saying that but that idea is completely wrong. Random processes combined with the results of random processes can have a bias, which can amount to an order. A random process that eliminates all but the more impervious results of another random process leave the impervious results in greater numbers. A random process that recombines the more impervious results leads to a strong bias in the results.

          An example in computing.

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

          I have asked numerous times for proof that random produces order or that a morality exists uniquely outside religious influence.

          Social animals have moralities. The complexity of the morality correlates to the complexity of the brains of each species.

        • MR

          Social animals have moralities.

          I wouldn’t so much say that social animals have morality, because morality isn’t a thing to have. Some animals exhibit certain cooperative and punitive behaviors in their interactions with other animals of their species, and perhaps with other species, that are beneficial to the social order of those species. Something along those lines anyway. Humans assign a certain value on those behaviors and that is what we call morality as a shortcut label. When we talk about morality as a thing in itself like it’s some kind of Platonic ideal, it’s misleading and confusing, especially to someone with God belief. Their question is “where does that morality come from?,” as if it’s a thing in itself, when the real answer is more akin to, morality is the label we give our value judgements on certain social behaviors.

        • Greg G.

          https://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/20/science/20moral.html
          Scientist Finds the Beginnings of Morality in Primate Behavior

          Dr. Philip Kitcher, a philosopher at Columbia University, likes Dr. de Waal’s empirical approach. “I have no doubt there are patterns of behavior we share with our primate relatives that are relevant to our ethical decisions,” he said. “Philosophers have always been beguiled by the dream of a system of ethics which is complete and finished, like mathematics. I don’t think it’s like that at all.”

          Many philosophers believe that conscious reasoning plays a large part in governing human ethical behavior and are therefore unwilling to let everything proceed from emotions, like sympathy, which may be evident in chimpanzees. The impartial element of morality comes from a capacity to reason, writes Peter Singer, a moral philosopher at Princeton, in “Primates and Philosophers.” He says, “Reason is like an escalator — once we step on it, we cannot get off until we have gone where it takes us.”

          That was the view of Immanuel Kant, Dr. Singer noted, who believed morality must be based on reason, whereas the Scottish philosopher David Hume, followed by Dr. de Waal, argued that moral judgments proceed from the emotions.

        • MR

          Good stuff. That title grates on me a little; unfortunately that’s how the media tends to present these things. But the key lies in the scientists characterization, “there are patterns of behavior.” Haidt is of the opinion that what we call morality stems from both reason and emotional / instinctive / psychological factors, with reason tending to be subordinate to the others in everyday moral interactions. Reason more often comes into play to support our emotional / instinctive / psychological decisions; i.e., we tend to justify what we already believe. Only at the scientific level do we employ reason in a manner that attempts to eliminate those biases, which is reflected in this quote:

          “Reason is like an escalator — once we step on it, we cannot get off until we have gone where it takes us.”

          Because that’s obviously not what’s happening with these apologist types.

        • Pofarmer

          Patricia Churchland in “Braintrust” argues that the basics if our morality are present way, way back down the evolutionary ladder. Ground shrews, for instance, have been used to study pair bonding and hormones. This is common in all mammals. The basics of our “morality” is probably a lot more primal than we would like to think.

        • MR

          Right, those basic behaviors that we label “morality” seem to be particularly strong in mammals. I’ll have to check out “Braintrust.” Thanks for the tip.

        • NS Alito

          I can see pair bonding and/or hormones as useful for reproduction, but mammals vary from herds (bison) to cooperative packs (wolves) to loners (tigers).

        • Pofarmer

          Sorry. Talking about bonding between mother and baby/babies. But, yeah, there are a lot of different behaviors among mammals, but also a lot of very common responses that are shared.

        • NS Alito

          Ah, yes, we gotta takes care of our bebbies.

        • Kodie

          Fascinating what happens in the forest:
          https://www.wnycstudios.org/story/from-tree-to-shining-tree

        • NS Alito

          Most humans* have selected-for mechanisms of empathy and altruism. What most people think of as “morality” stems from those.

          ____
          *Humans without those developed neural pathways are what we know as born sociopaths.

        • On the topic of natural forces producing surprising things, the life cycles of some cicadas are prime numbers of years–the 17-year cicada, for example. If they were 16-year cicadas, then all the predators that also had life cycles of 2, 4, 8, or 16 years could line up with those cicadas. But if your life cycle is a prime number, then only predators that match that would line up with you.

        • MR

          Oh…, very interesting!

        • Greg G.

          A friend who lives on a country road told me about two periodic cicada cycles ago that there was a lot of them on a small tree in his back yard singing in unison, then they would all fly a few inches then land back on the tree and kept doing that. I suspect that the rhythm of their song determines when they fly out being determined by the same genetics that determines the number of years they stay underground. Those that are out of synch, don’t get to mate. Maybe next time they come out, I will go out to see if I can observe such a thing for myself.

          They are not agile fliers. Once my brother and I were sitting in my grandfather’s backyard when one flew across the yard. A bird intercepted it flight. I saw the cicada fall near me so I went to check it out. The bird had taken the abdomen, the rest of the cicada was trying to climb to the top of the grass.

        • Ignorant Amos

          A bird intercepted it flight. I saw the cicada fall near me so I went to check it out. The bird had taken the abdomen, the rest of the cicada was trying to climb to the top of the grass.

          YahwehJesus’ benevolence knows no bounds.

          All things bright and beautiful,
          all creatures great and small,
          all things wise and wonderful,
          the lord god made them all.

          I suffered my first attack of gout last Thursday, the pain was excruciating, intelligent design, my arse.

        • I hear a kidney stone is also an adventure in pain. Thanks, Jesus.

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

        • Ignorant Amos

          A was wondering how long it would take before the Pythonesque version would be posted…hah, ha!

        • Greg G.

          They use a strategy to reproduce more than the predators can eat which can only be done periodically lest the predator population would grow to exploit them. The 12 year cicada, 14 year cicada, 15 year cicada, 16 year cicada, and 18 year cicada didn’t make it.

        • MR

          You keep saying that but that idea is completely wrong.

          This.

          Why do we have to waste our time correcting his flawed understanding of science? Pull your head out of the deceptive Christian apologetics websites and read what real science is about. Meantime, if you’ve got reasonable evidence for God, show it. They’re obviously not interested in the science or they wouldn’t get it so wrong.

        • Kodie

          I’m confused about the Christian sense of what morality is or where it comes from. Is it the way you behave because god made you that way, or is the way you are threatened with eternal punishment what keeps you from doing terrible things?

        • Phil

          You really need to look at a snowflake more closely. It represents the history of its existence as it falls. Starting as water molecule, collecting others, freezing, picking up a piece of dust and generating the unique complex shape. All do to the randomness of temperature, wind spreads, pressure and a host of other random factors. That is just one of my proofs of natural laws producing complex order.

        • Ignorant Amos

          However all you have is ridicule.

          It’s all you deserve until you present something of substance.

          Because you say so, doesn’t cut it around these parts.

        • Pofarmer

          Is gravity random?

        • Phil

          Absolutely. Several times whilst walking home from the pub I have experienced a sudden gravitational wave that sends me flying into a hedge. Totally random. Sometimes I just fall to my knees and local gravity is so strong I struggle to get up. No accounting for it.

        • Pofarmer

          I think you need to study these localized effects!

        • Phil

          They seem to be at their strongest between 11-12pm on a Friday night. Trouble is, I need a few stiff drinks before I can face the trauma.

        • Pofarmer

          Perhaps I should assist.

        • Phil

          Good idea! perhaps if we can get everyone around the world to join in around 11-12pm local, we could possibly map the anomalies. Maybe as important as the CMBR map, might even even be a Nobel Prize in it, to be shared of course.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I’m nearly sure those effects aren’t localized…I experience the same on a weekly basis where I am too. Only not just between 11-12 pm on a Friday night in my case. Various times of the day or night in no particular pattern. So how random is that?

        • Pofarmer

          Weird. We might be onto something.

        • Kodie

          Did you ever think all you have is ridicule? All you have is your credulousness and ridicule anything you find hard to understand.

          Does “absolute morality” work because we are humans created in the image of god, or because we live with the fear of punishment in the afterlife? And why are there so many conflicting denominations of Christianity? Nobody can agree on morality, not even taking just all the Christians.

        • He thinks that if science is defeated, that’ll prove Christianity.

          Of course, that supports my claim that defeating Bigfoot proves that 9/11 was an inside job.

        • Greg G.

          Show me a secular culture that developed a morality isolated from religious contact.

          Bonobos. Other primates perform moral acts without any religion. This is what religious culture steals from humanities heritage. Morality is older than humanity.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Dogs have been shown to understand fairness, as well…which is the basis for any sensible morality.

        • Greg G.

          Christians were involved in the advance of the technology they are apparently stealing.

          Nobody claims that Christians can’t do science. But when they do good science, it comes from science, not their Christianity.

        • Ignorant Amos

          When they do science, their compartmentalization gets activated into overdrive.

          Compartmentalization is a subconscious psychological defense mechanism used to avoid cognitive dissonance, or the mental discomfort and anxiety caused by a person’s having conflicting values, cognitions, emotions, beliefs, etc. within themselves.

        • NS Alito

          Replace “science” with some other godless activity, like plumbing or playing the violin, and it might make more sense to JBS. “Nobody claims that Christians can’t do plumbing….”

        • Greg G.

          But… but.. but.. what about electricians? Jesus said, “I am the light of the world” which makes being an electrician seem futile. Confucians can find encouragement in the words of Confucius: “Many hands make light work.”

          ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

          I have learned more from being wrong than being right and that many sayings attributed to Confucius are not from him. So I looked this up. It turns out that Brainy Quote https://www.brainyquote.com/authors/john_heywood says that comes from John Heywood (1497-1580). It is amazing that I had never heard of him because I am quite familiar with many of his quotes and hope to work some others into conversation:

          Many hands make light work.
          Rome was not built in one day.
          Would ye both eat your cake and have your cake?
          Nothing is impossible to a willing heart.
          A hard beginning maketh a good ending.
          Those who agree with us may not be right, but we admire their astuteness.
          When all candles be out, all cats be grey.
          Wedding is destiny, and hanging likewise.
          If you will call your troubles experiences, and remember that every experience develops some latent force within you, you will grow vigorous and happy, however adverse your circumstances may seem to be.
          The loss of wealth is loss of dirt, as sages in all times assert; The happy man’s without a shirt.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Christians were involved in the advance of the technology they are apparently stealing.

          At a time when it was downright DANGEROUS to one’s life & freedom to be known as a non-xtian, much less an atheist, well….this isn’t buying your side anything. Self-preservation is a pretty *natural* instinct, and the religion doesn’t guide curiosity, nor does it guide observation and / or the generation of hypotheses.

        • epeeist

          1) “Concensus” Great you use a word that means nothing to prove your science of the gaps theory.

          Let’s take two scenarios. Firstly, the microbiologists eventually produce a basic replicator Does this show that this is definitely how life started? No, of course not. What it does show is that a naturalistic route is possible.

          Alternatively, for the moment they fail to produce a replicator. Does this show that they never will? No of course not. Does it therefore show that a non-naturalistic method is required to produce life? No, it does not.

          What you and other creationists like you invariably avoid is the fact that all hypotheses stand on their own merits, not on the “problems” of other positions.

          You want to claim that life can only come about from non-naturalistic means? Fine, show us how it happens.

        • Greg G.

          The constitution maybe secular, but the society that created it was heavily religious.

          Even Christians came to America to flee religious governments. The Constitution is secular to avoid Christian tyranny.

        • Pofarmer

          If you actually, ya know, read anything by the founding Fathers, you’d know that the constitution relied heavily on Greek pagan thought. You’d also note that Thomas Paine leaned heavily on the work of David Hume. But that’s a pretty big if, I know. As Greg G says, the constitution is secular precisely because many in the U.S. had fled religious persecution or knew what it could cause. The 30 years was still in memory. Jefferson has many quotes on the problems of a people “ruled by priests” etc. There was religious infighting and some deaths in the colonies due to it, and the founders wanted to prevent that.

        • If you actually, ya know, read anything by the founding Fathers, you’d
          know that the constitution relied heavily on Greek pagan thought.

          One thing that frequently amazes me is just how much of our “modern” philosophy has it roots in ancient Greece. I’m also shocked at just how much the world stagnated under Christianity, until those ideas were rediscovered during the Renaissance.

          I think that any way you slice it, the ancient Greeks are one of the primary reason that we are where we are today! I sometimes wonder how different the world would have been if their ideas were lost.

        • MR

          It seems obvious to me that Christianity was hugely influenced by Greek philosophy, among other things. Christianity didn’t spring from the head of Yahweh fully formed, so to speak. It’s cobbled together from various sources. Christianity without Greek influence isn’t much different than ancient Judaism and would probably resemble Islam in many ways without those influences.

        • MR

          My comment is awaiting moderation and I want to know what the h-e-double hockey sticks could possibly have triggered that!

        • Don’t play dumb with me, mister. You used the word “Islam,” and you know it.

        • (And my comment actually had two naughty words.)

        • MR

          Seriously? You can’t use the name of a religion on a religious site? Amazing. At least it will get rid of the I—m-baiting trolls, I suppose, but still.

        • It’s incredible and also embarrassing. “Islam” is on the naughty list? And also 3 variant spellings of Mohammed.

          I hope that more changes are in the works and that largely addresses the problem before Patheos is tarred with a story highlighting this.

        • Pofarmer

          How would the world look if their ideas had never been rediscovered?

        • Hard to say for sure, but our modern scientific method would have probably taken much longer to develop, assuming it was developed at all.

          We’re talking about speculating on how our world would be different with 500 years of altered history. I don’t know if anybody is qualified to answer that.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          ‘Consensus’ (spelled properly) means ‘this is the best explanation science has at the current time’

          And I’m not going to bother defending science, as it’s self-correcting.

          Demonstrate ANY time that religion was demonstrated to be correct and supplanting scientific information in any useful, repeatable way.

          ETA:

          “…The constitution maybe secular, but the society that created it was heavily religious…”

          and YOUR KIND, of the time, did *everything* in their power to demonize and attack the Constitution as ‘godless’ and morally reprobate.

          YOUR KIND don’t change tactics, but you keep on losing ground…and it’s delicious

          🙂

    • Michael Neville

      Please provide “proof” that some magical sky pixie created life. Can’t do it, can you, JBS? Of course you can’t, so it’s hypocritical for you to challenge Bob to provide “proof” for abiogensis. There’s the further point that science isn’t about “proof”, it’s about evidence, something that you theists seriously lack for any of your fairy tales.

      Unlike Christians, who pretend their 2000 year old “holy” book is absolutely correct, naturalism doesn’t claim that. It’s only theists who pretend to have a lock on absolute truth, naturalism isn’t anywhere near that arrogant. But one thing naturalism does have that theism lacks is a track record for having evidence to support it. Got any evidence that anything supernatural exists? Again you don’t and, if you’re honest (not all Christians are), you’ll admit you don’t have such evidence.

      So take your claims of “dishonesty” and shove them where the Sun don’t shine.

    • Grimlock

      1) “Got did it.” Vs “Nature did it.” Please provide proof that life can start without an outside force. Or is your nature not really there? Have it show itself by producing life from non-living material with no human interaction.

      Saying that God did it it is about as useful as saying “nature did it”. However, there are a couple of ways in which a naturalistic approach is superior to the theistic one.

      1. We have some details for naturalistic models of life forming through natural mechanisms. Not a complete account, sure, but we do have some plausible models. We have no such thing beyond handwaving from a theistic perspective.
      2. We have experience with matter being reconfigured. We do not have any experience with non-physical stuff having causal power on matter.

    • JustAnotherAtheist2

      What is naturalism?

      • NS Alito

        It’s how you see the world working without supernatural entities. Roughly, that only things that are externally observable/measurable are acceptable.

        Contrast: metaphysical

        • Ignorant Amos

          I think the question was supposed to solicit a response and definition from Smiddy. Since very often what a theist means by a word is oft times at odds with what the rest of us and how a dictionary defines a term.

          Afaics, it’s the usual crickets response.

        • NS Alito

          D’oh! I thought it was a top-level comment, and I’m not familiar with the regulars here.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Oh, am not making a criticism. Just an observation.

        • NS Alito

          I’m head-slapping myself.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Don’t mither about me, I oft times comment nonsense…particularly when imbibing alcohol.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          I was kinda hoping for JB’s answer, but thanks for the response.

        • NS Alito

          It’s entertaining in supernatural fiction how the writers create rules for otherwise magical properties, like midichlorians for Jedis, and “severe” garlic allergies for Blade vampires or vulnerability to iron by otherwise powerful Dresden faeries. (Sloppier writers keep changing the rules, of course.)

    • Lark62

      ….

    • Lark62

      Got did it.” vs “Nature did it.”

      Let’s consider the track record.

      Consider everything humans have ever ascribed to “god did it” that are now explained through natural processes.

      Lightning
      Disease
      Contra ception
      Flood
      Tides
      Eclipses
      Comets
      Epilepsy
      Drought

      The list is endless.

      Now here is a list everything once explained but natural processes now known to be caused by the supernatural or “deity did it.”

      (Zippobits)

      In fact, here is the list of everything proven to have a supernatural cause regardless of natural explanation.

      (Zippobits)

      So until you can prove a supernatural explanation for anything whatsoever, you might want to shut the fuh ck up and focus on proving your deity even exists. Come on back when you’ve got proof.

    • Brian Curtis

      how do you falsify your belief that only naturalism exists?

      By finding something non-natural that actually exists, of course. That was super-easy; are you even trying?

    • Thanks4AllTheFish

      “1) “Got did it.” Vs “Nature did it.” Please provide proof that life can start without an outside force. Or is your nature not really there? Have it show itself by producing life from non-living material with no human interaction.”

      There is no proof that life can start without an outside force,…yet. However the Szostak Lab is on the cusp of that discovery and if they are successful, will it be enough to put this “God of the Gaps” fallacy finally to rest? I doubt it. Belief has no need for evidence and you still have to make unwarranted assumptions that this outside force is somehow outside the rules you place on life. Perhaps the theist side of the issue will demonstrate in their laboratories precisely how mixing dust and God’s breath can create a human being.

      “2) “Atheists steal from Relion”.(sic) Vs “Religion steals from Athiests” (sic). Show me a culture based on atheism and not some form of religion. One that started atheistic. Let’s see the proof that a culture can start atheistic, grow the moral values and then lead people to religion.

      Atheism means different things to different people but to me, it is that there is a lack of empirical evidence showing the existence of God or gods, therefore there is no reason to think such entities exist.

      Why are you so insistent about atheists providing proof when you are so indifferent about the evidentiary proof of the existence of your chosen God or gods?

      There are numerous cultures that arose only through mutual cooperation of their inhabitants long before any of the religions we have now were a blip on the radar screen. They must have had some moral code to decide that not killing one another worked better in building a society. It isn’t a stretch to go from there to understanding how human nature would deal with liars, thieves, and those who don’t contribute to making the structure work to the benefit of all. Gods generally came into play only when the inhabitants couldn’t explain certain phenomena like lightning, floods, eclipses, or volcanoes.

      Many of us have realized that when examining how the scientific method has demystified much of the pillars that religion sought to build-on (ignorance, demons, fear, etc.) that there was no more need for belief in the supernatural.

      Lastly, what difference does it make which came first? If the stated goal is to instill morality into a society, what difference does it make who claims credit, as long as it works? There are several, mostly Scandinavian countries, who have little value for religion yet retain moral values to the extent that they consistently rank in the upper regions in happiness and quality of life surveys. Apparently, they found that their inherent ability to be moral overshadowed their need to be religious. Putting aside childish things, comes to mind.

      ” I do enjoy the arrogance of assuming that naturalism is absolutely correct. Curious, how do you falsify your belief that only naturalism exists?”

      If a consensus of people look at a sunflower and all agree that it is indeed a sunflower, then we make a determination of truth from that observation. Naturalism uses the five senses to determine what is real. Here’s a quick summary:

      Naturalism: Exists in Nature and is real
      Supernaturalism: Doesn’t exist in Nature and isn’t real

      Any questions? [Cue metaphysics argument in 3…2…1…]

    • Adam “Giauz” Birkholtz

      1. Give an example we observe of an “outside force” that does anything. Life is sets of physical reactions. No matter is “living”.

      2. Everyone “steals” from everyone else because different aspects of a whole can be more valuable than the whole- a lot of Christian culture being worth less than garbage to me for example.

      Naturalism is inclusive. Get God to show us it exists, and it becomes part of the natural world.

      • JustAnotherAtheist2

        Naturalism is inclusive. Get God to show us it exists, and it becomes part of the natural world.

        Exactly, which is why I push back against “all known explanations have been natural” statements like Bob made here. It misses the same point and lends unwitting legitimacy to an otherwise empty term.

    • eric

      AFAIK, nobody assumes nataturalism is absolutely correct.

      We provisionally conclude, based on experience, that it is the current best system for understanding, modeling, and predicting the world. But should theists start being able to revelation up some cures for cancer, or heal people with their hands, or do things like that, then we would revise our conclusion based on that new evidence.

    • Jim Jones

      Wot?

    • Otto

      .

      …without an outside force.

      Outside of what?

    • I Came To Bring The Paine

      Please provide proof that life can start without an outside force.

      Who says it can? How about you prove it can’t.

      Have it show itself by producing life from non-living material with no human interaction.

      See Abiogenesis.

      Show me a culture based on atheism and not some form of religion. One
      that started atheistic. Let’s see the proof that a culture can start
      atheistic, grow the moral values and then lead people to religion.

      Why? What would that prove?

    • epeeist

      Please provide proof that life can start without an outside force.

      Yawn, the standard and illicit attempt to shift the burden.

      If you want to claim that some kind of “outside force” (presumably a euphemism for your god) is necessary to produce life then it is down to you to show this.

      I have challenged you on this before. For some reason whenever somebody posts something which requires you to do some work either providing evidence or justification you don’t respond. Why should that be?

      • MR

        I kind of see the God question as a hypothesis. People in the past believed in God, people today believe in God, so, okay, let’s imagine for a moment there could be something behind it; how do we find out for sure? How does this hypothesis hold up? Some of us, like me, were indoctrinated into the hypothesis but have come to realize that it doesn’t hold up, and some of us never did bought into it, but we still give people like JBSchmidt the opportunity to defend their hypothesis. And always they try to weasel out of it. What does this tell us? There’s the dishonesty of the outright lie, and then there’s the dishonesty of misrepresenting science, for example, dodging questions, shifting the burden, outright ignoring the obvious flaws in your own hypothesis. These are the tactics that con men use. If you’re using the tactics of con men, then maybe, just maybe, your hypothesis is flawed.

        I think about Genesis and the flood. It’s a perfectly reasonable conclusion for a man born thousands of years ago to go up to a mountaintop, find a bunch of fish fossils and seashell fossils and conclude that, in order for them to be there, the mountain and therefore the entire world must have been covered with water. It’s a reasonable and seemingly obvious conclusion when you can’t know about plate tectonics, but then how does a bronze age culture test its hypothesis?

        When you’re indoctrinated in belief in God and demons, it’s a reasonable conclusion to believe that the voice in your head telling you to sacrifice your own son is God, or that someone falling down into a convulsive fit is being overcome by demons when you don’t know about schizophrenia or epilepsy. But how do you test for God or demons?

        That’s when the JBSchmidts start hand waving and burden shifting and generally undermining their own case when they run, run, run from the obvious. He’s read a bunch of con man tactics from some apologetics site and he’s here to regurgitate them. They’re simply dishonest. What conclusions can we draw from that? If God really exists, this is his chance to truly show us and all he has to offer is con man tactics that any 15-year-old can recognize. For those of you who are struggling with your belief, ask yourself, is this the kind of tactics God would use if he existed?

        • epeeist

          I kind of see the God question as a hypothesis. People in the past believed in God, people today believe in God, so, okay, let’s imagine for a moment there could be something behind it; how do we find out for sure?

          I too see it as an hypothesis, to be tested in exactly the same way as we test any other hypothesis. These days we would probably take a Bayesian approach with the alternative hypothesis that the entity does not exist.You won’t get certainty, but you will get some level of probability as to whether you should believe or not.

          The thing to realise in this situation is that evidence for one position automatically disconfirms the other position. All we need now from theists such as JBSchmidt to provide some substantive evidence…

        • Kodie

          I don’t hold any visiting Christians up to a con man. They are the victims of con men. They are pawns of con men. Every Christian lesson they’ve ever learned starts with poisoning the well of any conflicting message, as well as any message they have to share is breaking down their own will to think, much less listen to someone else or leave the faith. They are trained to try these identical arguments, resist any counter messages, i.e. outright ignore them, and eventually give up on us by calling us names and declaring that we’re just not fit to listen to their messages because of the devil, but pat themselves on the back that the message wins and they did their best. When they call us swine and their message pearls, when they shake the dust off their feet and get the eff out, they feel unearned credit, and blame all of us for shutting them down. They came here to shut us down, and take a long walk around all their shiity arguments, never listening or engaging with things we actually say.

          I don’t feel cautioned not to listen to Christian arguments. I don’t feel like any of it is dangerous to my “investment” in disbelief. All I see are atheists taking whatever Christians throw out there and, at various levels of competency (biblical and philosophical and scientific) and thoroughness, engaging with whatever material they give us. But I don’t see that on their side. They have their pocketful of warm fuzzy theological answers to various arguments, but the fit into the discussion is always on their terms. They will jam in whatever stupid thing they want to say. They will change the subject to something else, or say something that fails to account for anything one of us just told them..Anything to ignore anything we ever say, because they would be in danger if they actually paid attention and tumbled it over in their brain. Probably not, but they might.

          It comes back to this idea, copied and pasted from a Christian a while ago:

          I find it helpful in discussions with atheists to quickly dispense with and dismiss their idea/belief that God does not exist. Then we open the window of opportunity to talk about what it is that monotheism deifies, God the Creator. This is essential to any understanding of Christianity.

        • MR

          I don’t hold any visiting Christians up to a con man.

          Agree, but you don’t regurgitate the tactics of other con men entirely unwittingly. There’s a dishonesty at the heart of their arguments, and there’s a dishonesty in the evasion that is obvious to us. It’s important to point that out, I think, especially for those sitting on the fence. These arguments aren’t arguments, they’re tactics.

          Anything to ignore anything we ever say, because they would be in danger if they actually paid attention and tumbled it over in their brain.

          Yes, which is why I like seeing the Susans and the epeeists of the world go back to, “No, you didn’t answer my question. Answer my question.”

          All I see are atheists taking whatever Christians throw out there and, at various levels of competency (biblical and philosophical and scientific) and thoroughness, engaging with whatever material they give us. But I don’t see that on their side.

          Yup, this lack of thinking for themselves. As if thinking for yourself might lead to a rethinking of your belief. “Here’s the standard line I’ve been given to say, don’t ask me to defend it because if I engage my brain I might enter into the danger zone.” This kind of format makes it easy for them to evade and ignore.

          I find it helpful in discussions with atheists to quickly dispense with and dismiss their idea/belief that God does not exist. Then we open the window of opportunity to talk about what it is that monotheism deifies, God the Creator. This is essential to any understanding of Christianity.

          I vaguely remember that being said. It’s such a cult-like statement. :S

  • The value of life

    The guy who drowned the world understands the value of life? That’s a harsh precedent.

    As religion has faded in the West we already see a falling of the value of life (abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide) and the rise in vices (growing acceptance of pedophilia, porn, drug use).

    You’ve read Gregory Paul’s work on this? Search this blog for my posts on him. He’s shown that atheistic northern Europe does far better on social metrics than the US does.

    So much for your idea that social health is in proportion to religiosity.

    I guess I need to be a good lemming like you Siedensticker fanboys.

    Huh?

    • JBSchmidt

      The flood again. If you understood the story, the value of life was preserved. I would point out that God used the flood to cleanse the planet of the naturalistic immoral behavior that consumed it.

      You liberals love you some northern Europe. Homogeneous isolated societies, built on catholic/protestant beliefs that are now keeping the morality part as they close the churches. In the areas of those countries where it is no longer homogeneous do to immigration, your narrative falls apart.

      • The flood again. If you understood the story, the value of life was preserved. I would point out that God used the flood to cleanse the planet of the naturalistic immoral behavior that consumed it.

        Thanks for the tip. The next time I shoot up a school, I’ll incorporate that in my legal defense.

        You liberals love you some northern Europe. Homogeneous isolated societies, built on catholic/protestant beliefs that are now keeping the morality part as they close the churches.

        Yeah? Tell me what moral ideas that only came to us from Christianity or the Bible. For extra credit, list some of the lessons we should not take from the Bible and incorporate into society (let me get you started: support for slavery, polygamy, genocide, . . .)

        • NS Alito

          FWIW, polygamy is OK by me, though probably a logistical nightmare when it comes to property inheritance and primacy in medical decisions. The problem is patriarchal polygyny, where Mr. Penis-and-Balls Male Guy Person calls the shots.

        • Greg G.

          The problem is patriarchal polygyny

          Asia has a long history of patriarchal polygyny. The women called it “swallowing the bitter pill” when the husband took another wife. After WWII, the French went back to Vietnam and outlawed the practice though existing multiple marriages were grandfathered in.

          This didn’t end the practice. It simply shifted the balance of power to the women. The man could have a second wife with his wife’s permission. If the women weren’t treated fairly, there was the threat of reporting him to the officials.

          During and after the American War, as they called it, there was a gender imbalance for a generation so it became even more popular.

        • NS Alito

          Aye, wars and other forms of mass male slaughter do lead to polygyny.

        • It’s OK with me, too, but I doubt it’s OK for a Christian.

      • Greg G.

        If you understood the story, the value of life was preserved.

        You are arguing out of both sides of your mouth. You think 8 people and some number of pairs of animals surviving is valuing life when millions are killed because the god thingy was inept is wonderful.

        You have been brainwashed. Religion is a psychological problem.

      • Zeta

        JBSchmidt: “I would point out that God used the flood to cleanse the planet of the naturalistic immoral behavior that consumed it.

        Your mind has been so completely taken over by the god virus that you have lost your reasoning faculty, morality and empathy. You talked so much about morality here but from your statement above, you have revealed that you are just as immoral and despicable as your god. You do not value life at all, just like your god. You are a hypocrite.

        1. In Noah’s time, everyone except him, was immoral? Out of the possibly millions of people, none, except Noah, was moral? Do you live on planet Earth?

        2. What about children and babies? Were they so immoral that they deserved to be cruelly drowned?

        3. What about animals killed by your god? Were they also immoral?

        4. Abraham had more sense and morality than your god.
        In Genesis 18:23 “Then Abraham approached him and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24 What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it?

        32 Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?
        He answered, “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.

        At least Abraham was concerned with the innocents. Your god? Cruelly burned them alive, including children and babies despite his promise to Abraham. What a dishonest and evil god! That’s your beloved god.

        You have disqualified yourself from talking about morality and the values of life.

      • epeeist

        Others here have taken you up on the utter moral vileness of your omnicidal god in the Flood story. However given that you have avoided my question from the other day about the evidence for life arising from “non-natural” means I’ll try a different tack.

        Where is the actual physical evidence that the Noachic flood took place?

  • Grimlock

    Please substantiate your claims.

  • Lark62

    Chapter and verse, please, wherein the wholly buybull clearly condemns:

    Abortion
    Por no graphy
    Pe do philia
    Rape
    Any form of child abuse
    Suicide
    Euthanasia

    Include only those verses at least as clearly stated as the prohibition of tattoos and public prayer.

    (cue jeopardy theme)

  • Ignorant Amos

    What about the pornography in the buybull?

    Ezekiel 23

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0aA7X5VJhSU

  • Adam “Giauz” Birkholtz

    Specifically, Christian organizations in practice condone pedarasty and celebrate a God man who watches this practice and never notifies police at the very least.

  • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

    Nope.

    BTW, nice change of subject…I specified ACCURATE, USEFUL knowledge / information.

    Religion hasn’t supplanted anything in the field of morals or ethics…religion has BEEN supplanted by Enlightenment thought, based on the pagan Greeks.

    If not, there would still be
    – legal slavery,
    – legal suppression of women as property rather than people with agency,
    – monarchy as the predominant governmental form,
    – Religion would still have the power to destroy those who demand it meet its burden of proof

    In EVERY case where you’ll try to claim that religion ameliorated the points above, I will, contrariwise, point out that it was *progressives* who just so happened to be religious (as it was DANGEROUS not to be) who championed the changes, and such were insulted / maligned / persecuted by all ‘right-thinking’ xtian moderates and conservatives of their respective times.

  • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

    Religious-wars-wise, also the sectarian conflict of Ireland, the ‘Troubles’

  • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

    value of life (abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide)

    A life without agency is barely a life at all, much less a life worth living.

    YOUR KIND claim this ‘god’ of yours owns us, and thus treating our lives as our own (spoiler: they are, as far as any evidence has been presented) rather than as ‘god’s ‘gift’ which we must treat as this ‘god’ would wish (and what kind of fu cked – up personality demands that a gift be used AS THE GIFTER DEMANDS??!!). Absent evidence, we’re justified in ignoring your bleats since we’ve pulled most of your fangs and you’re now impotent to do more than rage.

    We don’t have to accept YOUR KIND’s framing, as it has been shown to be harmful to living a full, self-actualized life, eschewing harm while improving oneself.

    • JBSchmidt

      ‘A life without agency is barely a life at all, much less a life worth living.’

      Coming from someone who apparently believes he has agency or at least has the faculties to make that claim. Do you get to determine agency? Does a governmental body of people get to determine your agency?

      • Greg G.

        He decided to post to the forum. That is agency in action.

        No cell in a blastula has agency but one cell might develop into a fetus while the other seven become the afterbirth.

      • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

        Agency may be claimed by those who have it, and recognized in greater or lesser degree by society to the extent that a person exercises it in a way that doesn’t harm others.

        No supernatural mumbo-jumbo necessary.

        Interesting that you try to attack one facet of my point, rather than addressing the value of a life of involuntary servitude, whether to a natural being or some supposed ‘supernatural’ being.

  • Jim Jones

    > Christianity is the magic spoon.

    Or the magic soup stone.

    Stone Soup – Wikipedia

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

  • I Came To Bring The Paine

    This post reminds me of an oldie but goodie from Edward Current:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fnjfxCp92pc

    • Susan

      oldie but a goodie.

      I love the first series at 39 seconds.

      1. Create Universe.

      2. Send son to die for mankind’s sins.

      3. Seem to not exist.

      It gets better (or just as good) after that.

  • Illithid

    Oh, sh&#8203it, I argue with my dice all the time!

  • Ficino

    Great article, Bob!

    I think there’s a typo: “No one can’t disprove ‘God did it'” should be “No one can disprove ‘God did it'”, no?

  • I Came To Bring The Paine

    It’s interesting that some apologists assert that this world is “the best of all possible worlds”, which is extremely damning for Christian theology which says that Heaven is the best of all possible worlds. If it’s true that this world is “as good as it gets”, why should anyone care about Heaven?

    • NS Alito

      “Paging Professor Pangloss…paging Professor Pangloss…please pick up the white courtesy phone.”

  • NS Alito

    Christianity is the magic spoon.

    There is no spoon.

  • Kodie

    The way I remember it, god realized that his solution wasn’t that effective, but promised never to take care of it like that again. After another couple thousand years, he invents Jesus as a baby who has to grow up first 30 years, then catch a small group, get executed for being too arrogant, and anyone who doesn’t believe that he went back to live with his dad, god, spends eternity on fire, but not until after we die – death being a curse in general from way back in Adam & Eve.

    It’s like the whole bible is, ok, stupid, is the first thing that comes to mind, but the base myth is that there is a more perfect world than this, humanity was born there, flucked it up and got kicked out and cursed down the generations with pain and death and knowledge. God eventually wipes everyone out for not being perfect, except Noah. Noah’s like, can I bring the fam, sure, how else to repopulate. This idea that if we get rid of all the sinful corrupt people, every person born from the perfect people will progenerate perfect offspring thereafter – as though morality comes from god! As though! The idea that if some people are wicked, the rest of their kind are born wicked. The rainbow is god apologizing for all the trouble, realizing it was a failure, and promising never to take care of things again with a flood.

    And then we’re thinking, who wrote down the bible up to then? There’s only 8 people, which one recorded events up to then?

    • Ignorant Amos

      I don’t know where ya get God realizing his flood was ineffective, but he did make a covenant that promised that he wouldn’t use flooding as a method again.

      The whole “Flood” idea that a perfect, know everything, can do anything entity would resort to such an impractical convoluted method to sort out a “mistake” is absolutely ridiculous. Then we are supposed to believe that the most benevolent being of everything resorted to drowning in order to get things done. Because that’s not a torturous method of killing. //s.

      But it’s worse than that…

      In Jewish legend, the kind of water that was pouring to the earth for forty days is not the common, but God bade each drop pass through Hell of Gehenna before it fell to earth, and the ‘hot rain’ scalded the skin of the sinners. The punishment that overtook them was befitting their crime. As their sensual desires had made them hot, and inflamed them to immoral excesses, so they were chastised by means of heated water.

      The silly yarn is a contradiction of two stories mashed together which were based on the plagiarization of the Epic of Gilgamesh, concocted by the Hebrews sometime between the 6th century and 4th century BCE.

      And then we’re thinking, who wrote down the bible up to then? There’s only 8 people, which one recorded events up to then?

      Exactly!

      The writers didn’t think things through. But the apologists will tell you that God told the prophets what happened. He just didn’t do a very good job of it, that’s all.

      • Kodie

        I don’t know where I got the idea, basically just an assumption. Why would god tie a nice rainbow on this story and promise never to do it again? Thus the world is populated by all sorts, and good things happen to bad people, and bad things happen to good people, murderers get away with it, etc., and the only thing Christians are hanging onto is that this all gets sorted after we die instead of worrying about it before. God doesn’t seem to punish people for doing things they know are bad, but people who get the awards and attention assume it’s because they are blessed, and some Christians do point to some natural disasters as punishment or a message, while others are why god why, depending on which segment of the country or world was hit.

        So Christians read all sorts of stuff into everything. Thinking god or Jesus holds the whole world in his hands leads to a lot of ignorance about statistics… or they call it “random chance”, as in there isn’t random chance, everything “happens for a reason.” God gives cancer to one person to punish and torture them, and another person has cancer to teach them to appreciate life while they can.

        That’s all bizarre, by which I mean all flucked up. Bizarre is how I say that at work. He’s not flooding the whole earth and killing all the wicked people, which is everyone except one guy. Everyone except just one guy are too wicked to live? We’re going to start all over? Why not put something in the air, like too much carbon monoxide? Make another dude out of dirt, no tree of knowledge of good and evil this time, and that’s that? The whole idea of religion seems to be an admission that god isn’t perfect. They blame Adam & Eve, which never happened, most of them don’t believe that happened. God didn’t create anyone perfect, because we’re offspring of “sin”, which is how they can include children.

        The bottleneck of Noah did not solve god’s disappointment, so I take it as he admitted his mistake, or it became apparent in further stories in the bible.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Why would god tie a nice rainbow on this story and promise never to do it again?

          Especially if it knew the science behind rainbows.

          Ancient ignorants noticed that a rainbow sometimes made an appearance after rain and like all things suchlike back then, it was seen as a devine portent of some sorts.

          If only they’d known about light refraction.

          http://www.disf.org/files/pic/raindrop.jpg

          Thus the world is populated by all sorts, and good things happen to bad people, and bad things happen to good people, murderers get away with it, etc., and the only thing Christians are hanging onto is that this all gets sorted after we die instead of worrying about it before.

          Indeed. And yet they spend their lives worrying about this unknown afterlife at the expense of enjoying what actual life that is known. Of course they disregard the millions of people on the planet for whom existence is miserable, which far outweighs the numbers for whom it isn’t.

          God doesn’t seem to punish people for doing things they know are bad, but people who get the awards and attention assume it’s because they are blessed, and some Christians do point to some natural disasters as punishment or a message, while others are why god why, depending on which segment of the country or world was hit.

          Mysterious ways, Kodie, mysterious ways. Mortal humans have no business trying to interpret the mind of God, and yet, so many of the cretins then go on to interpret the mind of their particular version of God. And we all know where that leads.

          That’s all bizarre, by which I mean all flucked up.

          I hear ya. And eejits trying to make sense of the bizarre nonsense in the 21st century given our knowledge, is even more fucked up.

          Bizarre is how I say that at work. He’s not flooding the whole earth and killing all the wicked people, which is everyone except one guy. Everyone except just one guy are too wicked to live? We’re going to start all over?

          Sounds like the musings of a not-too-educated-human to me.

          Why not put something in the air, like too much carbon monoxide?

          That’s overthinking it again. It also involves an amount of unnecessary suffering and that won’t do. YahwehJesus just has to think stuff out of existence and it’s done. At the very minimum, chant stuff into existence. And if it can do that, theists are placing restrictions on it if it can’t do the opposite. That also won’t do. Omnipotence warrants no such restrictions.

          Make another dude out of dirt, no tree of knowledge of good and evil this time, and that’s that?

          That you and I can think of a better way, with our limited brain power, is kinda telling, isn’t it?

          The whole idea of religion seems to be an admission that god isn’t perfect.

          I’m not sure that’s the intention, but that’s definitely the net result of religion. And the eejits are stuck with it. So, apologetics was born.

          They blame Adam & Eve, which never happened, most of them don’t believe that happened. God didn’t create anyone perfect, because we’re offspring of “sin”, which is how they can include children.

          A fudged story, breeds lies in excuses. Then another lie to rescue the first lie…then it’s all down hill from there. Innocent and ignorant children accept the lies from adults whom they see as authority. But other adults have no such excuse for their gullibility.

          The bottleneck of Noah did not solve god’s disappointment, so I take it as he admitted his mistake, or it became apparent in further stories in the bible.

          God can’t admit making a mistake, it’s not in Gods nature to err. It goes against its attributes.

          Watch this apologetic from that lying weasel Frank Turek.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2IN0a-MPGGI

  • MR

    I agree with pretty much everything you say, and I don’t doubt that they actually believe, but that doesn’t mean they know the arguments they use are dishonest. Specifically I’m talking about the hardcore apologist types we get here. The newbie who pops in and throws out a challenge and then disappears is disappearing because he realizes that the argument is fallacious. The ones who stay know their arguments are fallacious, but keep plugging along anyway. You’re the first to say, “Just one honest Christian!”

    • Kodie

      By some accounts, they think just being here and sprinkling their magic Jesus wisdom will cause a change. The arguments trick themselves into believing they have an intellectual reason for believing. They are dishonest to themselves.

      It’s like when you tell some Christian conservative that they hate women, they will say they love women. You can list all the attitudes they have and policies they prefer around abortion and birth control, etc., and they will have answers for everything, the same answers every other Christian conservative ever had. They will never see how it looks outside themselves, that all these beliefs add up to a great hatred of women, because they see each piece of the puzzle as completely separate them and a sensible idea on its own.

      They know all the tools they’re supposed to use, but they have convinced themselves they are all fantastic, intellectual, and solid. Look at ozarkmichael – he’s in love with his examples, and his complete misunderstanding of the “platonic ideal” is something he’s stuck on because that’s how it fits into what he already believed. He’s not capable, without a lot of effort, of getting over it. He appears to want to make the effort, but I’m not sure how sincere he is, or how much he is just stuck on it.

      • MR

        but I’m not sure how sincere he is

        He doesn’t strike me as sincere at all. Look at the nonsense about atheist “doctrines,” “Team capital-A Atheist,” the condescension, the snarkiness, the bullshit “critical thinking,” the projection. He’s not making an effort, he’s just being a jerk.

        • Kodie

          I’m thinking he’s stuck, but the other thing he does differently is express how much he’s trying, thanks us for explaining, but he does just revert to his own crooked ideas without noticing anything anyone has actually said. That’s trying to be a slick salesperson. A salesperson isn’t going to fight with a customer who is skeptical, but compliment their sharp judgment or their honesty, and then keep reinforcing the highlights of the product, which in this case is his argument, i.e. the 3 examples. He keeps mentioning that he’s refined them, but I see no evidence they’re refined from the start. JBSchmidt and Scooter, on the other hand, don’t make any show whatsoever that they’re making an effort, so ozarkmichael going out of his way to at least say he is making an effort and trying to refine his ideas is … different.

          Since I took a long time off, I really can’t remember the last Christian who didn’t bring out the same stupid arguments supporting Christianity is true that aren’t credible, but instead goes on what they think atheism is and how we’re just not seeing ourselves from the outside. Yes, we’re going to confirm their biases against us by being impatient with them, calling names or swearing sometimes, if we can find a way around the filter, and they are not getting that we’ve heard them already and disagree, and why we disagree, and why can’t they just be honest enough to have a 2-way discussion with us, at the very least.

          When I’m looking for the first honest Christian, I’m looking for someone who has relevant responses and moves the discussion forward, rather than change the subject to something else, block us with a lot of other questions that lead nowhere, because they don’t care about the answers, or resets. Irony and ignorance are the least of it, but they don’t know they are lying. They aren’t trying to earn a commission selling broken shiit to suckers, but they do have a scripted way of approaching us, which they are taught in order to protect their own beliefs and realizing it’s a lie. This is why I don’t tend to have drawn-out conversations with most of them to give anyone the benefit of the doubt, and why they hate me, and I think Susan has mostly the same strategy, and they don’t like her much either. Cut right to the point of where they’re going instead of let them think they’re making any progress getting there.

  • He seems quite vengeful. You haven’t been banned yet? I’ll be curious to see what happens.

    He’s written a number of posts that are asking for a rebuttal (I suppose–I haven’t read them). Those are easy posts to write because they don’t take much research. But for sanity’s sake I’ve ignored them.