Top 10 Most Common Atheist Arguments—Do They Fail?

Top 10 Most Common Atheist Arguments—Do They Fail? July 12, 2019

Patheos Evangelical Christian blogger John Mark Reynolds recently shared his list of the five worst atheist arguments. I responded here. Today, let’s consider another list, “Top 10 Most Common Atheist Arguments, and Why They Fail” by Eric Hyde.

I do my best to take seriously attacks against my favorite arguments. The result is better arguments. Let’s take a look at these charges that popular atheist arguments fail.

“1. There is no evidence for God’s existence.”

Hyde begins by asking what “evidence” means. My answer: good evidence is facts or argument of sufficient quality that, if the tables were turned, would convince you the other guy’s argument is strong. Too often, defenders of Christianity will bring out weak arguments—“There are fulfilled prophecies in the Bible!” or “Just yesterday I prayed because I was late and got the perfect parking space!”—that they’d laugh at if said in support of a rival religion.

Look at how conventional Christians will lampoon Mormonism or any other religion. They’re just as skeptical as I am, and they argue just as forcefully. It’d be nice if they’d consistently apply the same thinking to their own position.

Hyde critiques this argument:

Asking a Christian to prove God’s existence is like asking someone to prove the existence of civilization. What is one to do but point and say, “look, there’s a chair, and there’s a building,” etc. How can one prove civilization by merely selecting a piece here and a piece there as sufficient proofs rather than having an experience of civilization as a whole?

Nearly everything the Christian lays eyes on is proof of God’s existence because he sees the “handiwork” of God all around him in creation.

“Look, there’s a building.” Right—a building that had designers and builders. I know where buildings come from because I’ve seen them being built. Is this supposed to be an analogy with God and reality? A building had a designer so therefore reality must also? I see the analogy, but without any evidence for God, the analogy fails.

But this is hardly sufficient evidence in the court of atheist opinion, a court which presupposes that only what can be apprehended by the senses rightly qualifies as evidence. For the Christian who believes in a transcendent God, he can offer no such evidence; to produce material evidence for God is, ironically, to disprove a transcendent God and cast out faith.

Ah, the old “Science can say nothing about God because God is immaterial” argument. If your point is that God hides in his supernatural realm, which science can’t access, then I agree. But your God then becomes not only immaterial but irrelevant. God is only relevant to our reality if he changes our reality—tweaks evolution, causes miracles, answers prayers. And those interactions in our reality are things that science can (in principle) test for. You need to pick—do you want a God holed up in his supernatural tree house who never interacts with our world or a God who does interact and is therefore testable by science?

As for atheists demanding evidence, well yeah. How else do we reliably understand something? If you sense a truth in a vague way that no one else can experience or verify, that may be important to you, but it is useless in convincing others. You wouldn’t be convinced by that argument from some other religion, so why should I accept it from you?

Hyde moves on to ask what one means by evidence for God’s existence.

If one means, “that which has come into existence,” then surely God does not exist because God never came into existence. He always was; He is eternal.

Checkmate, atheists! . . . except that this is merely an assertion. Without evidence for the remarkable claim that God always was, it fails.

The atheist argument remains. I wouldn’t say that there is no evidence for God—the very existence of Christianity is evidence—just insufficient evidence to support what may be the grandest possible argument, that a supernatural being created the universe.

“2. If God created the universe, who created God?”

Those who use this charge as some sort of intellectual checkmate have simply failed to grasp what Christians understand as “eternal.”

No, I think we’re all on the same page here. The issue is simply that your claim that everything had a cause must apply to God as well. By your logic, he must’ve had a creator.

The next move in the chess game is to apply some sort of “except God” caveat to the everything-has-a-cause rule. For example, the first premise in William Lane Craig’s Kalam Cosmological argument is, “Everything that begins to exist has a cause.” That clumsy phrase is supposed to be his Get Out of Jail Free card because God always was. God had no beginning.

And what justifies this? Incredibly, Dr. Craig defends the claim this way, “[This] step is so intuitively obvious that I think scarcely anyone could sincerely believe it to be false.” Apparently, world-class Christian philosophers want their arguments accepted just because they feel right without having do go through all that difficult justification stuff.

If Eric Hyde has a better justification, he doesn’t share it with us. Apparently, we’re to accept that God doesn’t have a creator just because. Sorry—I need more.

I’ve responded more completely to the charge that “But who created God?” is a fallacy here.

Continue in part 2.

If god is real, evidence points to
an incompetent megalomaniac just trying to make it to Friday.
He delegates responsibility to the weakest members of his team,
his ideas are shit, his execution is poorly planned,
and his purpose is to have something to turn in so he doesn’t get fired.

He is the George Costanza of deities.
— commenter Kodie

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(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 6/24/15.)

Image from Dave Catchpole, CC license

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  • (((J_Enigma32)))

    Hyde begins by asking what “evidence” means.

    This is an extremely good question. There are generally to types of evidence: empirical and a priori. The former relies on our senses and has the issue of our senses being easy to fool, while the other lies in logical reasoning and has all the problems that come inherent to logic (i.e., if your premise is false your conclusion will be false, even if the logical chain that got you there was solid). These two forms of evidence are not mutually exclusive, even though empiricism (belief in the primacy of empirical evidence) and rationalism (belief in the primacy of a priori evidence) are often presented as being at odds with one another (to draw an example of how this distinction works: biology is an empirical science. Mathematics is an a priori one. A good critical thinker makes use of both empirical and a priori evidence, but most people assign primacy of importance to one or the other).

    Simply put, when someone on the internet is demanding evidence for anything, they’re either (a) demanding empirical evidence or more likely, (b) demanding evidence to give the impression their minds can be changed when in reality that will never happen, because the demand for “evidence” and “facts” is simply routine at this point and nobody wants to appear like they’re irrational when in reality, everyone is irrational because everyone’s beliefs are anchored in emotions first, with the added fig leaf justification of “logic” or “evidence” added later.

    Having said that, for the concept of a Christian deity, there is neither empirical evidence nor is there a priori evidence. In fact, while empirical evidence is neutral on the existence of a western theistic style god at best, a priori evidence is actively antagonistic towards its existence. So no, not only is there very little empirical evidence to suggest the existence of a western style god, the a priori evidence against the existence of just such a entity is jaw dropping (since this is the vast amount of arguments atheists make). This type of deity is almost self-refuting at their core, and as a result, any other argument that you might make in the favor of such a deity falls flat on its face precisely because of that.

    • Yep. I’m not aware of any other evidence besides these either. However, it seems to me some empirical evidence that actually cuts against God’s existence (e.g. poor design, very little life in the universe, a huge amount of suffering) to varying degrees. I agree though logical arguments have more weight as the nature of God is pretty illogical.

    • NS Alito

      This type of deity is almost self-refuting at their core, and as a result, any other argument that you might make in the favor of such a deity falls flat on its face precisely because of that.

      This is the Bayesian approach of 2019, addressing the God(s) that have been redesigned for millennia. Go back far enough, and the flint-chipper’s god(s) were as logical as their cräp knowledge allowed.

  • Lex Lata

    “Nearly everything the Christian lays eyes on is proof of God’s existence because he sees the ‘handiwork’ of God all around him in creation.”

    First, of course they see that, because that’s what they’re taught and pressured and convinced to see (often from infancy). Viewing the material world as proof of a God that one already believes in is not empirical inquiry; it’s just presuppositional question-begging.

    Second, this line of thinking works just as well (or poorly, rather) for the countless other gods, dæmons, and spirits of other human traditions that Christians summarily dismiss as fiction. The Sumerians, Hittites, Greeks, Etruscans, Goths, Persians, Parthians, Romans, Cretans, Carthaginians, Egyptians, Harappans, Aztecs, Norse, Hopi, Navajo, Celts, etc. have all earnestly seen the “handiwork” of their deities in the world around them. Surely Hyde would agree that such perceptions are poor support indeed for the existence of those deities.

    Yet we’re to believe that the ancient Hebrews (and early Christians) alone had the straight scoop, and were immune from this capacity for fantasy, pareidolia, and storytelling? Color me skeptical.

    • RichardSRussell

      “If you were taught that elves caused rain, every time it rained, you’d see proof of elves.” —Ariex

    • The problem with these arguments is that always has to be their deity, not any other with similar atributes and that was totally unrelated to Him.

    • Rudy R

      Christians see the handiwork of god all around, but when pressed for an answer on how to tell the difference between a god-created world and non-god-created world, all you get is crickets.

      • Wisdom, Justice, Love

        One better.
        Ask them to explain how Ancient Hebrew God did it and not Zeus, or Odin, Or Osiris.

      • Jack the Sandwichmaker

        I think they argue that a non-god-created world is impossible

        • I Came To Bring The Paine

          Thus the circular reasoning.

  • zenlike

    It always boils down to special pleading doesn’t it?

    • NS Alito

      From their perspective I think it boils down to “why can’t they see the obvious?”

  • Rudy R

    WLC portrays “Everything that begins to exist has a cause” as a metaphysical premise, but I would argue it’s an unfounded and unproven scientific premise. No matter, because if the scientific community were to agree that things can pop into existence with no cause, WLC would just chuck that out for his repertoire of other inane evidence.

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      Agreed.

      He’s trying to take “everything WE KNOW OF AND HAVE ENCOUNTERED that exists at least appears to have had a beginning” and make an unwarranted jump.

      • abb3w

        …and furthermore, leave an exception for God.

    • Jack the Sandwichmaker

      Nah, he’d hold on to it, because scientific proof that things can pop in to existence without a cause is bound to be too technical for his audience to understand, so he’ll ignore it.

    • JustAnotherAtheist2

      Interestingly, “everything that begins to exist has both efficient and material causes” is just as supported and more accurate given the data WLC is trying to summarize. I wonder why he leaves off the material part when formulating his argument….

  • skl

    I wouldn’t say that there is no evidence
    for God… just insufficient evidence…

    You could just leave it at that.

    The sufficiency, for you, could be supplied only if religion
    was the same thing as science. But they’re not, and never have been, the same thing. You’re in the
    small minority who think they are, or should be, the same thing.

    • Michael Neville

      Science says nothing about gods (remember there’s more gods than the sadistic, narcissistic, immoral bully you pray at). All of us, including Bob, will admit that. The reason why science doesn’t do gods is that gods aren’t part of the material world, which is what science examines. Gods are part of the “supernatural” world, also known as the make-believe, illusionary, fictitious, imaginary, DOES NOT EXIST world.

      If you want us to accept that gods exist then you have to provide reasonable, falsifiable evidence that gods aren’t just a figment of the imagination.

      • No, if the gods intervene in the world (nearly all are said to) science could say something on that. Of course, it isn’t only a matter for science. I’d say basic logic can disprove some too.

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      Not a bit.

      If you want your religion, that’s your choice to suffer.

      If you try to IMPOSE your religion on others, even by persisting when told to buzz off, THEN I’ve got a problem with you, because you’re incorrigibly rude.

    • Wisdom, Justice, Love

      Jesus, Zeus and Santa Claus all share the same amount of proof. Surely you treat belief in all the same way.

      The article touches on the topic. Christian’s “proof” is summarily dismissed when used by other religions or even Christians of the “wrong sect”.

      • skl

        Everyone outgrows a belief in Santa Claus and I’m not aware
        of any currently believing in Zeus. As for the other beliefs, that’s a “battle”
        of belief, not of science and “proofs”.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          And some of us equally outgrow belief in this ‘jesus’ character.

          It’s not our problem if you can’t, as long as YOUR KIND leave us *alone*.

        • No, they don’t outgrow Santa Claus belief; society as a whole doesn’t believe in Santa Claus. But society as a whole can believe in Jesus. See the difference? If society believed in Santa Claus as adults, children would grow up with the same belief. That’s how childhood indoctrination into suipernatural beliefs works.

        • skl

          … society as a whole doesn’t believe in
          Santa Claus. But society as a whole can believe in Jesus. See the
          difference?

          Yes. It’s the difference I already pointed out.

        • But I explained why. Did you miss that? Or did you avoid it on purpose?

          Let me help you out: If society believed in Santa Claus as adults, children would grow up with the same belief. That’s how childhood indoctrination into supernatural beliefs works.

        • Greg G.

          Clausists would explain away the lack of Christmas presents as “Santa Claus delivers in mysterious ways.”

        • There are some tricky things to explain or rationalize with St. Nick, but that’s trivial compared to God creating the universe in 6 days, the Trinity, the Flood (but God loves us), and all the rest.

        • epicurus

          Sometimes his answer to present requests is no, maybe, or not yet. Much of the Third World is in this category.

        • skl

          The poster above said “Jesus, Zeus and Santa Claus all share
          the same amount of proof.”

          But it appears the adult indoctrinators think Jesus has more
          “proof” going for him than Santa.

        • Greg G.

          But their “proofs” are no better than the “proofs” we can offer for Santa Claus. Some Xtians say that God created the earth so the earth is evidence that God exists. That is no better than Santa Claus lives at the North Pole and there is a North Pole so that is evidence for Santa.

          If you know of better “proof” for a deity, then please present it.

        • skl

          But their “proofs” are no better than the “proofs” we can offer for Santa Claus.

          Then maybe, with time, Christianity will be replaced with Claus-anity.
          (You might like Clausians a little better!)

        • Greg G.

          (You might like Clausians a little better!)

          If they don’t try to impose their religious beliefs on others, especially through politics, I probably wouldn’t mind them a bit.

        • For a not-Christian, you sure do defend Christianity a lot.

          it appears the adult indoctrinators think Jesus has more
          “proof” going for him than Santa.

          (1) Huh? I don’t know what you’re referring to.

          (2) How is that relevant to our conversation? An atheist thinks Jesus has loads of evidence in his favor so I have to agree?

        • skl

          An atheist thinks Jesus has loads of evidence in his favor so I have to agree?

          Huh. I don’t know what you’re referring to.

        • rationalobservations?

          Not in many European nations in which only s small and rapidly declining minority believe in any of the fictional undetected and undetectable gods goddesses and god-men.

          The USA is catching up as fewer than 18% of Americans attend a church or other religious indoctrination centre in any given week.

          Even in lands where atheism is a capital offense – underground atheists are making their resistance to the anti-humanitarian garbage of religion known.

        • Wisdom, Justice, Love

          What does current have to do with belief? I say Zeus is real. Why isn’t he? Because you don’t believe it? You’re going to apply the same scrutiny to Jesus as Zeus right? I think I know your answer. The Bible.

          Describe a battle of belief? If what you believe is true, why would you need battle? Do you battle for facts often?
          Do you mean a battle of wits?
          And in the future, I recommend substituting the word Evidence for “proofs”.

        • skl

          I say Zeus is real.

          OK, I’ll revise:
          As for the belief in Zeus and other god(s) beliefs,
          that’s a “battle” of belief, not of science and
          “proofs”.

        • Wisdom, Justice, Love

          Forgot to ask. What’s your denomination?

        • skl

          None. Nonreligious.

        • epicurus

          Have you written anywhere why you are non religious? I would be interested to read why.

        • skl

          Have you written anywhere why you are non
          religious?

          I don’t think so.

          I guess my nonreligiousness is due primarily to indoctrination.

        • epicurus

          What makes you stay non religious- is it the lingering effects of indoctrination, or have you come across reasons to remain non religious that support the past indoctrination?

        • skl

          I’ll go with “lingering effects”.

        • epicurus

          Thanks. Do you think there are any reasons to reject religion that did not come to you via indoctrination? And what about reasons to believe religion – Is there anything that appeals you that you think might be able to overcome that previous indoctrination?

        • skl

          I don’t know.

          Anyway, your questions seem to be focusing on a specific individual,
          namely me. I’m more interested in focusing on the generic issues/questions.

        • epicurus

          ok, I was just interested in where you are coming from.

        • Greg G.

          I guess my nonreligiousness is due primarily to indoctrination.

          Many of us were indoctrinated the other way and figured out how to set the indoctrination aside and work it out through critical thinking. You should try that.

        • skl

          “… set the indoctrination aside and work it out through critical thinking. You should try that.”

          That’s what I am doing here.

        • Your parents or environment forced you into a nonreligious mold? Were questions about other worldviews discouraged? Was there a school of nonreligiousness or something? Was nonquestioning or unevidenced faith a part of it, or was it build on evidence?

          This is an odd idea, so I’m trying to understand it.

        • skl

          Well, think of it as kind of like being raised on your website.

        • That’s skl’s little joke. He continues to defend Christianity while he keeps declaring that he’s nonreligious. I’d have thought that since he’s such a fan of Christianity he ought to just join up.

        • Wisdom, Justice, Love

          Yeah, I’m trying to figure out the disposition:
          I’m no Nazi, but if you consider the Nazi’s stance on some issues… /s

        • Great analogy. Quite apt.

        • rationalobservations?

          The concept of “lying for Jesus” is demonstrated continually by most religionist who fail to defend, justify, validate or excuse their fraudulent religions and fictional gods goddesses and god-men within these columns.

        • Pofarmer

          Sam Harris has pointed out that when he disses the Greco Roman gods he gets angry emails from those who still believe in them.

        • rationalobservations?

          Most people in Britain and Sweden have outgrown belief in Yahweh and Jesus in addition to all the millions of other undetected and undetectable gods goddesses and god-men the rapidly declining number of the small minority of believers in Yahweh and Jesus also do not believe in.

          All of humanity are atheists to the greatest degree. The only question remains how long it will be before all imaginary gods goddesses and god-men are consigned to the garbage can labelled “mythology” and humanity grows out of all childish myths legends and lies?

      • NS Alito

        I keep going back to that ex-Mormon describing the indoctrination as being taught to gaslight yourself. It isn’t just a matter of learning goofy “facts”, but in training yourself to avoid questioning those facts. Faith is good. Doubt is bad. Amen.

        • MR

          This.

        • Wisdom, Justice, Love

          That’s what theology can never shake. Obedience is not about wisdom.
          You’ll hear many of them use the word Truth in discussion about their belief. The more they say try to fight off scrutiny. No need to question the Truth from the Authority.

        • Jack the Sandwichmaker

          I Remember recently talking to a Mormon. 2 of the rivers flowing out of Eden are in present day Iraq. 2 of the rivers are unknown. Therefore the rivers must be metaphors and it’s perfectly logical that Eden was in Missouri.

        • NS Alito

          Wow, that’s painful.

      • Jack the Sandwichmaker

        Hey, I have evidence of Santa Claus. On Christmas morning there are gifts under the tree and the scotch and cookies we left out for Santa are gone!

        • Wisdom, Justice, Love

          Additionally, I’m getting reports of people that have personally seen him at their mall; red suite, beard, hat, boots and all. I stand corrected. /s

    • Not necessarily. If a religion wants people to believe its claims though, there should be evidence for them. However, even assuming someone does treat them as the same, are they wrong? Most religions do make claims which touch on scientific areas. Tell us why that shouldn’t be also assessed scientifically. Of course, I know you probably won’t, since that isn’t your thing.

      • skl

        Not necessarily. If a religion wants people
        to believe its claims though, there should be evidence for them.

        As Bob S. says, there IS evidence for them. He just doesn’t
        like the evidence for any of them. (And Buddhists don’t like the evidence of
        Methodists who don’t like the evidence of Catholics, etc.)

        However, even assuming someone does treat [science
        and religion] as the same, are they wrong?

        Yes.

        Most religions do make claims which touch
        on scientific areas.

        Yes, many religions probably do make claims which touch on
        scientific areas. For example, Christianity touches on fluid dynamics (e.g. walking on water), human reproduction (e.g. virginal conception), thanatology (e.g. resurrection), among other things.

        Tell us why that shouldn’t be also
        assessed scientifically.

        Doesn’t matter what I tell you. You can try to
        scientifically assess all you want. You can try to get blood from a stone, if you want.

        • As Bob S. says, there IS evidence for them. He just doesn’t
          like the evidence for any of them. (And Buddhists don’t like the evidence of
          Methodists who don’t like the evidence of Catholics, etc.)

          Well, there are things which they claim are evidence, for others disagree. I’m pretty sure that is what he thinks too.

          Yes.

          So explain why.

          Yes, many religions probably do make claims which touch on
          scientific areas. For example, Christianity touches on fluid dynamics (e.g. walking on water), human reproduction (e.g. virginal conception), thanatology (e.g. resurrection), among other things.

          I was thinking more the origin of life, the mind etc. but sure. What’s wrong in science applying to such claims then?

          Doesn’t matter what I tell you. You can try to
          scientifically assess all you want. You can try to get blood from a stone, if you want.

          No answer then.

        • So your position is that religion shouldn’t be evaluated using the criteria we use to evaluate science? But then you have the small problem that evidence, etc. is the only way we know to verify things. What do you want to do to evaluate religion?

        • Wisdom, Justice, Love

          there IS evidence. He just doesn’t like the evidence for any of them.

          I think you’re confused.

          A murderer in a court house on trial may not like DNA evidence, the murder weapon, or any witnesses that’s presented. That doesn’t mean it is not accepted as evidence. Someone not accepting evidence is not the same as disliking it.

          You may be confusing fact and opinion. You can not accept root beer; you can’t not accept gravity. Have you tried?

          What evidence Outside the Bible do you have?

          Doesn’t matter what I tell you. You can try to
          scientifically assess all you want. You can try to get blood from a stone, if you want.

          And as a Christian, your stance is stubborn reluctance and defiance. Is this your “Battle”? Is this how we save souls now days? It’s as convincing as it is inviting. And I mean that.

          What’s your denomination?

        • skl

          Someone not accepting evidence
          is not the same as disliking it.

          When I said Bob S. just doesn’t like the
          evidence for any of them, I meant he “dislikes and/or finds unpersuasive” such evidence.

          What evidence Outside the Bible do you have?

          The bible is just words on pages. Nevertheless, it IS evidence for its stories and whatnot. However, such evidence is not to yours and everyone’s “liking”.

          As to evidence outside the bible, well, it’s getting late and I’m tiring of this, so I’ll go with Bob S’s answer: “the very existence of Christianity is evidence”.

          And as a Christian, your stance is…
          What’s your denomination?

          Answered previously.

          Good night.

        • The bible is just words on pages. Nevertheless, it IS evidence for its stories and whatnot.

          Yes, I agree–the Bible is just words on paper. No force ensures that the words are accurate and historical. It’s evidence, but you’ve got to go a lo-o-ong way to show that it’s historical. Otherwise, my treatise on the Flying Spaghetti Monster is no less compelling.

        • Rudy R

          The bible is just words on pages. Nevertheless, it IS evidence for its stories and whatnot.

          Harry Potter books are just words on pages. Nevertheless, it IS evidence for its stories and whatnot.

        • Jack the Sandwichmaker

          Wow, he admitted that trying to get evidence of religion is like getting blood from a stone?

        • Wisdom, Justice, Love

          That is how I interpret it. Or more specifically:
          Trying to get ME to provide supporting arguments of something I believe will be like trying to get blood from a stone.

          When you are incapable of or uncooperative in providing Persuasive Arguments to support your idea, your reluctance makes the idea less appealing. IMO.

    • I’m in the largish group that says that science delivers and religion doesn’t. Yes, they’re quite different.

    • Greg G.

      No, sufficient evidence would already be had if religion had anything to do with rational thought. Its appeals to the supernatural and transcendence are attempts to dodge the complete lack of evidence.

      • NS Alito

        It isn’t even anything like the original religion. As challenges and knowledge arise, the religion morphs to integrate them. The original explanation of homeopathy in 1810 didn’t address the concept of water molecules, because Hahnemann only understood water in gross quantities, but modern homeopaths have had to invent “water memory” to adapt to later accepted knowledge.

        Meanwhile, we have to try to retrofit the scientific discoveries about life and galaxies into a religion that thinks the Bible is even remotely relevant to reality.

      • skl

        Everyone’s aware of science and of the importance and use of
        evidence. But most everyone doesn’t see those things as the be all and end all.

        • Then what’s the be all and end all? Or if you’re simply saying that there are other paths to knowledge, what are they?

        • skl

          Then what’s the be all and end all?

          Many different answers from the many different people who
          think it’s not science alone. They probably include art, beauty, philosophy.

          Hey, I just had an idea for you:
          You could ask the commenter here by the name of @Wisdom, Justice, Love why his blogger name isn’t instead “Science” or “Knowledge”.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Art, beauty, and philosophy are all real and demonstrable.

        • Greg G.

          They probably include art, beauty, philosophy.

          Those cannot give objective knowledge except when philosophy relies on scientific data.

        • They probably include art, beauty, philosophy.

          Beauty is a route to knowledge? You’ll have to explain that. I don’t see beauty teaching us new things about reality like science does.

        • Greg G.

          Most everyone is wrong about religion, too. We know this because no religion is followed by a majority.

    • NS Alito

      Oh, I think it’s quite clear that religion and science are not the same thing. Science tells us how the human brain creates religions as a cognitive construct.

  • RichardSRussell

    Hyde moves on to ask what one means by evidence for God’s existence.

    If one means, “that which has come into existence,” then surely God does not exist because God never came into existence. He always was; He is eternal.

    Perhaps. If that’s what one means. But that isn’t what I mean. I mean “exists here and now”.

    • JustAnotherAtheist2

      As does every other person who has ever used the word. What a laughable dodge.

  • abb3w

    Hyde begins by asking what “evidence” means. My answer: good evidence is facts or argument of sufficient quality that, if the tables were turned, would convince you the other guy’s argument is strong.

    I’d try for a more basic point: experience.

    The tricky bit seems more at what is the relationship between experience and the underlying reality, and how measured; “evidence for” seems more exactly “evidence better described by”.

    Ah, the old “Science can say nothing about God because God is immaterial” argument.

    Not quite. This seems to me more akin to the Babel fish argument. That aside….

    God is only relevant to our reality if he changes our reality

    I think “has consequences in” rather than “changes” might be more general. If a God created a universe where from the beginning the laws of physics had a loophole that any “human” saying the word “kltpzyxm” abruptly ceased to exist in violation of the otherwise general rule of conservation of mass-energy… that would not be a “change”, since it’s always been a rule, but would seem a “consequence”.

    Of course, that would also leave questions of whether there were more likely explanations for that rule (as well as the question of which “god”).

    And those interactions in our reality are things that science can (in principle) test for.

    That’s a point that Christians seem likely to tend to dispute, precisely because of various “Science can say nothing about God” arguments.

    Potentially, one might try first identifying how the basis for such testing may be derived from more basic philosophical principles, and in turn what limits of scope for such are consequent to the derivation. This, however, involves hard math, and also might result in conclusions that they consider unpalatable. Ergo, you generally won’t find anyone who will sit through it.

    “[This] step is so intuitively obvious that I think scarcely anyone could sincerely believe it to be false.” Apparently, world-class Christian philosophers want their arguments accepted just because they feel right without having do go through all that difficult justification stuff.

    Alternately, it sounds like he consider it axiomatically obvious… but does not considering that any axiom that may non-redundantly be taken in Affirmation may just as well be taken in Refutation.

    • I’m familiar with the Babel fish but not the Babel fish argument.

      That’s a point that Christians seem likely to tend to dispute, precisely because of various “Science can say nothing about God” arguments.

      But how are they not hoist by their petard with this one? Sure, they can handwave that science says nothing about God but then this untouchable God can’t leave any fingerprints. He can’t meddle, can’t make miracles, can’t tweak evolution.

      does not considering that any axiom that may non-redundantly be taken in Affirmation may just as well be taken in Refutation.

      Couldn’t he just point to evidence? There are many examples of caused things and none (in our world, anyway) that are uncaused.

      • Kuno

        “The Final Proof of the non-Existence of God was proved by a Babel Fish.

        Now, it is such a bizarrely improbable coincidence that anything so mind-bogglingly useful could have evolved purely by chance that some have chosen to see it as the final proof of the NON-existence of God. The argument goes something like this:

        “I refuse to prove that I exist,” says God, “for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing.”

        “But,” says Man, “the Babel fish is a dead giveaway, isn’t it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves that You exist, and so therefore, by Your own arguments, You don’t. QED.”

        “Oh dear,” says God, “I hadn’t thought of that,” and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.

        “Oh, that was easy,” says Man, and for an encore goes on to prove that black is white and gets himself killed on the next zebra crossing. ”

        Douglas Adams

        • Reminds me of this bit from Black Adder. (To get the context, go back to 24:25.)

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bp0NHIH4WoE#t=026m10s

        • Kuno

          A classic.

        • abb3w

          A lot of the British comedy writers in that era were stealing ideas back and forth pretty readily and calling it “being inspired” by each other.

        • Greg G.

          That’s better than what Warner Brothers did during a writers strike in the early 1960s. They used the same scripts for multiple old western TV shows. The “Written by” was credited to W. Hermanos, Spanish for “W. Brothers”.

      • abb3w

        I’m familiar with the Babel fish but not the Babel fish argument.

        It was at the link, but Kuno inlined it.

        But how are they not hoist by their petard with this one? Sure, they can handwave that science says nothing about God but then this untouchable God can’t leave any fingerprints. He can’t meddle, can’t make miracles, can’t tweak evolution.

        Nope. Their argument seems to be that “science can only talk about ‘natural’ causes for those fingerprints, so ‘supernatural’ causes like God are Beyond Science™; checkmate, atheists.”

        They seem to take this as Revealed Truth, without considering how the scope of what science can talk about may be derived in a more precise expression.

        Couldn’t he just point to evidence? There are many examples of caused things and none (in our world, anyway) that are uncaused.

        First: he could, but he didn’t.

        Second: doing so would require running the risk of running aground in the swamps of the Problem of Induction, as well as potentially highlighting that his failure to apply the principle to God is a form of special pleading. There also seems a small chance of his facing a philosopher willing to posit the existence of some “things” (EG: the Second Law of Thermodynamics) as “brute facts” that are uncaused, which risks a major digression into how “brute facts” are identified.

        Third: the point of apologetics seems mainly to provide attitude bolstering for the already converted. They seem to tend already inclined to accept the principle as an axiom, which avoids that whole exploration of Refutation. Handwaving saves time while preaching to the choir; and for that matter, he may even slip it past some inattentive heathens, also.

        • I assume we’re on the same page, but let me check.

          Their argument seems to be that “science can only talk about ‘natural’ causes for those fingerprints, so ‘supernatural’ causes like God are Beyond Science™; checkmate, atheists.”

          I agree that that seems to be their argument, but you’re not saying that it’s a valid (even ignoring its lack of evidence) argument, right? If God supernaturally moves a chair, that movement is within science’s domain to detect. Indeed, anything that we would know about (and that could plausibly be called a miracle) is detectable by science.

        • abb3w

          I agree that that seems to be their argument, but you’re not saying that it’s a valid (even ignoring its lack of evidence) argument, right?

          I don’t accept the validity of their argument, no.

          If God supernaturally moves a chair, that movement is within science’s domain to detect.

          More exactly, if a chair moves, that movement is within science’s domain to detect, and explanations for that movement may be evaluated through the philosophical methodology of science.

          However, the question of whether the moving of the chair (even if done by “God”) was “natural” or “supernatural” would require first justifying a distinction between the categories. As such, your original statement appears to be assuming a conclusion not yet justified.

          Indeed, anything that we would know about (and that could plausibly be called a miracle) is detectable by science.

          “By science” seems imprecise. “By humans, who can potentially then evaluate it through science” seems closer.

          While I’m being picky, “that we would know about” seems less precise than “any phenomenon that gives consequent rise to any manner of human experience”. So: if you see a burning bush, that’s a phenomenon, and competing descriptions for the evidence of your experience can be evaluated by science.

  • larry parker

    A chair and a building aren’t evidence for civilization. You can have both without civilization.
    Things like the power grid, the interstate highway system, and the Constitution are evidence for civilization.

    • koseighty

      Human civilizations existed long before “the power grid, the interstate highway system, and the Constitution.”

      • larry parker

        Sure, and? That doesn’t eliminate them from being evidence of civilization.

        • koseighty

          And . . .

          “the power grid, the interstate highway system, and the Constitution” aren’t any more (or less) evidence for civilization than chairs or buildings. Depending on the type of chair or building, they may be evidence of a different type of civilization. But they’re still evidence of civilization.

        • larry parker

          Definition of civilization
          1a : a relatively high level of cultural and technological development specifically : the stage of cultural development at which writing and the keeping of written records is attained b : the culture characteristic of a particular time or place : the impact of European civilization on the lands they colonized
          The power grid, the interstate highway system, and the Constitution fit the definition, a chair or a building not necessarily so.

        • koseighty

          Of course words have many uses and thus many definitions. Here are some from the Cambridge Dictionary:

          1 – human society with its well developed social organizations, or the culture and way of life of a society or country at a particular period in time

          2 – a place that has comfortable living conditions

          3 – the process of educating a society so that its culture becomes more developed

          4 – a highly developed culture, including its social organization, government, laws, and arts, or the culture of a social group or country at a particular time

          I think chairs and/or buildings would fit nicely under number 2. But 1 and 4 would work as well.

          But considering your definition, the first know chair dates to about 3100 BCE while writing dates to about 3400 BCE so they would seem to take about the same level of civilization to create.

        • larry parker

          Does an isolated off the grid log cabin and a stump to sit on constitute civilization.

        • koseighty

          I would certainly consider it evidence of civilization. Which is where this whole discussion started.

        • larry parker

          Every def. of civilization that you provided involves society in some fashion.

        • koseighty

          Absolutely!

          So, let’s look at our lone cabin in the woods. What technologies do we need to build it? Off the top of my head:

          • Axe
          • Saw
          • Drill
          • Mortar
          • Plumb line
          • Square

          If we assume he didn’t have any friends to help lift the logs (and roof supports) into place:

          • Block and tackle

          Having a block and tackle means having:

          • Wheel
          • Rope

          So, either our lone man in the wilderness is some kind of construction savant that invented all those technologies on his own, or he is the product of some society that developed those technologies over time.

          So, yes. I absofuckinglutely think a lone cabin in the woods is evidence of some civilization, the product of some society.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          I thought ‘civilization’ was ‘the art of living in cities’?

  • Wisdom, Justice, Love

    Ask a Christian how they “know” Santa Claus isn’t real. Some may offer the “I asked for something one Christmas and didn’t get it” reasoning. Somehow that reasoning never applies to prayer.

    Special pleading indeed.

  • JBSchmidt

    1) Swing and miss, but nice try.

    Hyde is making the case that Christianity is the cumulative of evidence and not one piece.

    “evidence for God the Christian often does not know where to start” & “Nearly everything the Christian lays eyes on is proof of God’s existence”

    Yet, you decide to ignore that and pick a part the paragraphs oblivious of what Hyde is saying.

    2) “Everything that begins to exist has a cause.”

    This is a statement regarding the universe. It is obvious, because within the context of the universe there is nothing that comes into existence without a cause.

    “we’re to accept that God doesn’t have a creator just because”

    You are left with the same assertion with naturalism. Other then a multiverse that will only ever be theoretical and the assumption that outside the existence of the laws of science a quantum event could happen which is again only ever theoretical; you must assert that “we’re to accept naturalism just because”.

    This then goes back to his 1st point in which he asks, what is sufficient evidence?

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      Hyde is making the case that Christianity is the cumulative of evidence and not one piece.

      “evidence for God the Christian often does not know where to start” & “Nearly everything the Christian lays eyes on is proof of God’s existence”

      So?

      You can add zeros *forever* and you’ll still never get to one.

      All you’re calling evidence for ‘god(s)’ is merely evidence of ITSELF…and with some consistent readings and analysis, some history.

    • Swing and miss, but nice try.

      Well, golly. That little bit of encouragement just made my day.

      This is a statement regarding the universe. It is obvious, because within the context of the universe there is nothing that comes into existence without a cause.

      Swing and a miss, but nice try. Can you say, “Copenhagen interpretation”? Those are big words!

      “we’re to accept that God doesn’t have a creator just because”
      You are left with the same assertion with naturalism.

      Because we’re saying “God does have a creator just because”? I realize that’s bullshit, but I can’t find any more charitable interpretation of your pile of words.

      you must assert that “we’re to accept naturalism just because”.

      Or, we could consider that myriads of things have been explained with natural explanations and none with supernatural explanations.

      Either way. Sounds like they’re equally plausible.

      • JBSchmidt

        “Copenhagen interpretation”

        Can you say ‘unproven’ and ‘heavily criticized’?

        “we could consider that myriads of things have been explained with natural explanations”

        That is a philosophical statement, a belief. It is not evidence or proof. Which is exactly my point.

        • “Copenhagen interpretation”
          Can you say ‘unproven’ and ‘heavily criticized’?

          I’m still waiting for your “Copenhagen interpretation? Gee, I hadn’t heard of that. I need to rework that statement of mine.” Or would you rather we just move along so that no one notices?

          Science never proves anything, but surely you’ve been told that many times. I suspect that by now it’s deliberate. As for heavily criticized, show me (and AiG or equivalent isn’t an actual source).

          “we could consider that myriads of things have been explained with natural explanations”
          That is a philosophical statement, a belief. It is not evidence or proof. Which is exactly my point.

          Things that have been explained with natural explanations are evidence that the naturalistic viewpoint is valid. Which is exactly my point.

        • JBSchmidt

          “I’m still waiting for your “Copenhagen interpretation?”

          The Copenhagen makes no claims to an uncaused cause. It is a theory regarding the inability to know a particles position and momentum simultaneously. In addition it posits the notion that a particle exists in multiple forms undetermined until viewed by an outside observer (Cat in a box). Beyond that it has lead to other theories. However, there are some, not including those from AiG, that believe it to be insufficient and even question if there is a different theory altogether. Regardless, your point is probably regarding the work done with vacuums and particles blinking in and out of existence. The scientists doing such studies will admit that while in a vacuum, it is still within the quantum system that underpins the universe. The background energy is the cause that moves the particles. At some point, something was created. Even if you fall back on a multiverse model, you reach the same conclusion.

          “Things that have been explained with natural explanations are evidence that the naturalistic viewpoint is valid.”

          That is a philosophical statement and can only be measured assuming that your worldview is correct. It is a claim you can make from about 1700ish to today. However, it was religion and the drive to understand what was created that drove science up to that point. That previous work also set the foundation for the work being done today. If you choose to prove me wrong, show me a ‘naturalistic’ scientist that established a theory we hold today without using the previous theories of the religious scientists before him/her. I am not claiming the Bible is a science text book; however, it lays out a couple of things that make all science possible. There was a starting point to time and the universe is ordered. Take away those and science is pointless.

        • The Copenhagen makes no claims to an uncaused cause.

          Yes, it does. It explains the neutrino coming out of a decaying nucleus as having no cause.

          It is a theory regarding the inability to know a particles position and momentum simultaneously.

          Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle.

          there are some, not including those from AiG, that believe it to be insufficient and even question if there is a different theory altogether.

          Fair enough. Now put in the appropriate caveats based on Copenhagen maybe being true in apologetics arguments like Kalam.

          your point is probably regarding the work done with vacuums and particles blinking in and out of existence.

          Thanks for putting yet more wrong words into my mouth, but no.

          “Things that have been explained with natural explanations are evidence that the naturalistic viewpoint is valid.”
          That is a philosophical statement and can o nly be measured assuming that your worldview is correct.

          Huh? “Option A has reliably explained a million things and option B has reliably explained zero. Which are you going to go with as having superior explanatory power?”

          it was religion and the drive to understand what was created that drove science up to that point.

          (1) Nope.

          (2) Sure, let’s assume that. It remains the fact that science explains things and religion doesn’t.

          show me a ‘naturalistic’ scientist that established a theory we hold today without using the previous theories of the religious scientists before him/her.

          What is this pointless tangent good for? Yes, there have been Muslim and Taoist scientists whose work we build on. That says nothing about the validity of their belief systems. They just happened to be that.

          I am not claiming the Bible is a science text book; however, it lays out a couple of things that make all science possible.

          Isn’t it weird then that so many non-Christian scientists and societies could do science as well? Y’know, it’s almost like religion isn’t a factor at all in doing science. I’m starting to think that religion is useless in teaching us about reality.

        • JBSchmidt

          “It explains the neutrino coming out of a decaying nucleus as having no cause.”

          So a decaying nucleus has a neutrino as a product, but is not the cause? Explain.

        • Greg G.

          So a decaying nucleus has a neutrino as a product, but is not the cause? Explain.

          Lemmee put on my epeeist Halloween mask.

          In a fission nuclear weapon, the plutonium is pressed into a critical mass so that the natural decay products begin to trigger the decay of other nuclei which leads to a runaway reaction. In each decay of a nucleus, the total energy and momentum of the decaying nucleus plus the total energy and momentum of the particle that triggers it are conserved, that is, totaling the energy before the reaction and the momentum before the reaction is exactly the same as after the reaction. It is like a cue ball hitting a rack of billiard balls. The energy and momentum of the cue ball before it hits the rack is exactly the same as the energy and momentum of all the balls after the cue ball hits the rack, though the felt and the bumpers absorb that energy.

          The billiard ball example describes all the cause-effect interactions that go into the Kalam argument. The totals of the energy and momentum of the cause and the energy and momentum of what the cause acts upon is equal to the total energy and momentum after the effect.

          But when a neutrino is produced in that type of decay, the total energy and momentum of the neutrino and the energy and momentum of the atom after the decay event is exactly the same as the energy and momentum of the atom before the decay.

          That reaction is different than the cause-effects that the Kalam relies on. If a universe can come into existence with zero net momentum with space and energy being equal and opposite, there is no net energy produced, which what Alan Guth proposed and the theory has not been refuted in forty years.

          [I sense a lot of sighs and thoughts of “I miss epeeist.”]

        • JBSchmidt

          This is not true. In decay, prior to the postulation of the neutrino in the 1930’s, there was an small energy imbalance. The neutrino is created during the decay process using this energy.

        • Greg G.

          The neutrino is that energy.

        • JBSchmidt

          Yes, created from the decay. Thus a cause.

        • Greg G.

          Yes, created from the decay

          Mass/energy is not created. The neutrino is a form of mass/energy.

          Thus a cause.

          It is part of the decay process. Nothing caused the decay process.

        • JBSchmidt

          “Mass/energy is not created. The neutrino is a form of mass/energy.”

          Poor choice of words on my part. However the particle also doesn’t come from nothing.

          “Nothing caused the decay process.”

          Not true. An imbalance has occurred within the nuclei. In your comment above, the nuclei is pressed to a critical mass.

        • Uh, yeah. It’s counterintuitive. It’s quantum physics.

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

        • JBSchmidt

          Can’t find neutrino on that page to explain how it comes out of a decaying nucleus uncaused.

        • Not sure what your point is. Let’s regroup. You said, “within the context of the universe there is nothing that comes into existence without a cause.” I pointed out that the Copenhagen interpretation says that causes aren’t necessary for some quantum events. Therefore, your statement fails. If you respond that the Copenhagen interpretation isn’t a certainty, that’s right, but your sweeping statement must take it into account.

          If you’ve disproven the Copenhagen interpretation or shown why quantum events not having causes leaves your statement intact, show us. If you’re simply struggling with how the Copenhagen interpretation works or what it means, you can do your homework without my help. I don’t know it much better than you.

          “Gee, this is counterintuitive” is correct but irrelevant.

        • JBSchmidt

          That may all maybe true based the theory. However, everything you are pointing out is occurring within the created quantum realm. Without that as the backdrop none of this would happen.

          We have no evidence that in the absence of everything something can come into existence.

        • You said, “within the context of the universe there is nothing that comes into existence without a cause.” Do you agree that this must be changed to acknowledge the Copenhagen interpretation?

          everything you are pointing out is occurring within the created quantum realm.

          The quantum realm? You mean like what the universe was at the Big Bang?

        • JBSchmidt

          “Do you agree that this must be changed to acknowledge the Copenhagen interpretation?”

          No, because it is the energy already present that allows those actions to take place. The energy is the cause.

          “You mean like what the universe was at the Big Bang?”

          At the big bang you have created energy. However, getting to the bang is unexplained.

        • “Do you agree that this must be changed to acknowledge the Copenhagen interpretation?”
          No, because it is the energy already present that allows those actions to take place. The energy is the cause.

          (1) Copenhagen says that some quantum events don’t have causes. No, not energy as the case; no cause!

          (2) More homework for you: the zero-energy universe hypothesis starts the universe with zero matter and zero energy.
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zero-energy_universe

          Hanging out in the Creationist/Christian sphere hasn’t really prepared you for this. But, on the positive side, here you are. Good for you for putting yourself in the way of new ideas.

          At the big bang you have created energy. However, getting to the bang is unexplained.

          No matter or energy needed to start the Big Bang; no cause needed either.

        • rationalobservations?

          Here is an interesting article from LiveScience:
          What happened before the Big Bang?
          “The Big Bang is a moment in time, not a point in space,” said Sean Carroll, a theoretical physicist at the California Institute of Technology and author of “The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning and the Universe Itself” (Dutton, 2016).

          So, scrap the image of a tiny speck of dense matter suddenly exploding outward into a void. For one thing, the universe at the Big Bang may not have been particularly small, Carroll said. Sure, everything in the observable universe today — a sphere with a diameter of about 93 billion light-years containing at least 2 trillion galaxies — was crammed into a space less than a centimeter across. But there could be plenty outside of the observable universe that Earthlings can’t see because it’s physically impossible for the light to have traveled that far in 13.8 billion years.
          Thus, it’s possible that the universe at the Big Bang was teeny-tiny or infinitely large, Carroll said, because there’s no way to look back in time at the stuff we can’t even see today. All we really know is that it was very, very dense and that it very quickly got less dense.

          As a corollary, there really isn’t anything outside the universe, because the universe is, by definition, everything. So, at the Big Bang, everything was denser and hotter than it is now, but there was no more an “outside” of it than there is today. As tempting as it is to take a godlike view and imagine you could stand in a void and look at the scrunched-up baby universe right before the Big Bang, that would be impossible, Carroll said. The universe didn’t expand into space; space itself expanded.

          “No matter where you are in the universe, if you trace yourself back 14 billion years, you come to this point where it was extremely hot, dense and rapidly expanding,” he said.

          No one knows exactly what was happening in the universe until 1 second after the Big Bang, when the universe cooled off enough for protons and neutrons to collide and stick together. Many scientists do think that the universe went through a process of exponential expansion called inflation during that first second. This would have smoothed out the fabric of space-time and could explain why matter is so evenly distributed in the universe today.

          Before the bang
          It’s possible that before the Big Bang, the universe was an infinite stretch of an ultrahot, dense material, persisting in a steady state until, for some reason, the Big Bang occured. This extra-dense universe may have been governed by quantum mechanics, the physics of the extremely small scale, Carroll said. The Big Bang, then, would have represented the moment that classical physics took over as the major driver of the universe’s evolution. [What Is Quantum Mechanics?]

          For Stephen Hawking, this moment was all that mattered: Before the Big Bang, he said, events are unmeasurable, and thus undefined. Hawking called this the no-boundary proposal: Time and space, he said, are finite, but they don’t have any boundaries or starting or ending points, the same way that the planet Earth is finite but has no edge.

          “Since events before the Big Bang have no observational consequences, one may as well cut them out of the theory and say that time began at the Big Bang,” he said in an interview on the National Geographic show “StarTalk” in 2018.

          Or perhaps there was something else before the Big Bang that’s worth pondering. One idea is that the Big Bang isn’t the beginning of time, but rather that it was a moment of symmetry. In this idea, prior to the Big Bang, there was another universe, identical to this one but with entropy increasing toward the past instead of toward the future.

          Increasing entropy, or increasing disorder in a system, is essentially the arrow of time, Carroll said, so in this mirror universe, time would run opposite to time in the modern universe and our universe would be in the past. Proponents of this theory also suggest that other properties of the universe would be flip-flopped in this mirror universe. For example, physicist David Sloan wrote in the University of Oxford Science Blog, asymmetries in molecules and ions (called chiralities) would be in opposite orientations to what they are in our universe.

          A related theory holds that the Big Bang wasn’t the beginning of everything, but rather a moment in time when the universe switched from a period of contraction to a period of expansion. This “Big Bounce” notion suggests that there could be infinite Big Bangs as the universe expands, contracts and expands again. The problem with these ideas, Carroll said, is that there’s no explanation for why or how an expanding universe would contract and return to a low-entropy state.

          Carroll and his colleague Jennifer Chen have their own pre-Big Bang vision. In 2004, the physicists suggested that perhaps the universe as we know it is the offspring of a parent universe from which a bit of space-time has ripped off.

          It’s like a radioactive nucleus decaying, Carroll said: When a nucleus decays, it spits out an alpha or beta particle. The parent universe could do the same thing, except instead of particles, it spits out baby universes, perhaps infinitely. “It’s just a quantum fluctuation that lets it happen,” Carroll said. These baby universes are “literally parallel universes,” Carroll said, and don’t interact with or influence one another.

          If that all sounds rather trippy, it is — because scientists don’t yet have a way to peer back to even the instant of the Big Bang, much less what came before it. There’s room to explore, though, Carroll said. The detection of gravitational waves from powerful galactic collisions in 2015 opens the possibility that these waves could be used to solve fundamental mysteries about the universes’ expansion in that first crucial second.

          Theoretical physicists also have work to do, Carroll said, like making more-precise predictions about how quantum forces like quantum gravity might work.

          “We don’t even know what we’re looking for,” Carroll said, “until we have a theory.”

          – Link: https://www.livescience.com/65254-what-happened-before-big-big.html

        • This extra-dense universe may have been governed by quantum mechanics

          This was the point I was trying to make to JBS. If some quantum events don’t have causes, and the Big Bang was a quantum event, then that might not have had a cause. This gets around his insistence, “But who created the Big Bang??”

        • rationalobservations?

          Very true, Bob.
          I also notice that no Big Bang denier, creationist or creationist “lite” ID advocate ever answers the question of how and from what did any of the gods and goddesses come into existence and how and from did what the universe was magically created from nothing?

        • Greg G.

          The energy can be there for a billions of years. Some decay at different times. Neither the coldness of space nor the heat of a planet’s core affects the rate of decay.

        • Greg G.

          We have no evidence that in the absence of everything something can come into existence.

          We have evidence that things exist. That is evidence that things have always existed OR that things can come into existence from nothing.

          What we cannot have is a cause acting on nothing having an effect. Without an effect, there is no cause.

          But if there is nothing, there is no time. The effect of a cause could be the cause of itself simultaneously, which creates space as a negative energy plus an equal but opposite amount of energy, a zero sum game. No god thingy needed, indeed, a god thingy would be in the way.

          I am not making this up. Just trying to give a simplified idea of Alan Guth’s model which has been around for forty years.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Dude, your computer *works* because the Copenhagen Interpretation of physics is what allows for miniaturized integrated circuit chips.

        • Doubting Thomas

          Can you say ‘unproven’ and ‘heavily criticized’?

          The irony of someone using such a rebuttal while simultaneously claiming god created the universe is more than I can fathom.

          Amazon Prime days are next week. Maybe they’ll have a good deal on mirrors.

        • Brilliant!

      • MR

        Or, we could consider that anything that has been explained, has been explained with natural explanations and none with supernatural explanations.

        • NS Alito

          But I’ve found something that really, really can only be explained supernaturally! Like, for sure!

        • Yes, another nice addition.

    • Greg G.

      Hyde is making the case that Christianity is the cumulative of evidence and not one piece.

      Bob quotes Hyde as saying, “For the Christian who believes in a transcendent God, he can offer no such evidence; to produce material evidence for God is, ironically, to disprove a transcendent God and cast out faith.

      A cumulative case is based on a whole lot of weaker evidence. Hyde admits he has no evidence and cannot ever have evidence when he appeals to “transcendence.”

      But if a god thingy is transcendent, nobody can ever know anything about it. Even if it could communicate with you, you wouldn’t know whether it was honest. All you can ever have is wishful thinking.

      This is a statement regarding the universe. It is obvious, because within the context of the universe there is nothing that comes into existence without a cause.

      You are left with the same assertion with naturalism. Other then a multiverse that will only ever be theoretical and the assumption that outside the existence of the laws of science a quantum event could happen which is again only ever theoretical; you must assert that “we’re to accept naturalism just because”.

      Name one thing that has come into existence by a cause that was not acting on something that already existed. A cause acting on nothing cannot have an effect. So you should know your claim is wrong.

      Relativity Theory tells us that the higher the velocity of an object, the more time slows down. The GPS in your phone relies on Relativity to calculate position from the satellites traveling in orbit. That is why it remains accurate. But at light speed, time stops. When you see the light from a star, the photons left hundreds or thousand of years ago but to the photon, leaving the star and meeting the pigment in your retina is the same instant. You will probably have to learn a different way of thinking about time to understand the Big Bang. Einstein showed that someone traveling at relativistic speeds can’t determine which of two events occurred first, so they wouldn’t be able to tell which was the cause and which was the effect.

      This then goes back to his 1st point in which he asks, what is sufficient evidence?

      No it doesn’t. Hyde conceded the impossibility of having sufficient evidence by appealing to transcendence. That means he has no basis for belief either, except for wishful thinking and special pleading fallacies.

      • JBSchmidt

        “Hyde admits he has no evidence” & “Hyde conceded the impossibility of having sufficient evidence by appealing to transcendence.”

        He qualifies that statement by saying previous, “in the court of atheist opinion”.

        “Einstein showed that someone traveling at relativistic speeds can’t determine which of two events occurred first, so they wouldn’t be able to tell which was the cause and which was the effect.”

        Not sure how that matters, since it is little more then a thought experiment. You must still concede that a created system and laws exist in order for that to happen.

        “Name one thing that has come into existence by a cause that was not acting on something that already existed. A cause acting on nothing cannot have an effect. So you should know your claim is wrong.”

        However, is the naturalist claim that nothing was caused upon to cause something? It is obvious to me that the universe required an outside source of causation, because I don’t see anything occur without a cause.

        • Otto

          because I don’t see anything occur without a cause.

          So because you can’t explain how it could happen otherwise therefore your conclusion is sound.

        • Greg G.

          Hyde is claiming that detectable evidence is a presupposition. Then he claims that God is transcendent. How can he offer any kind of evidence for anything? His claims are the worst excuses one can offer for the complete lack of evidence and any cause for rational belief in a god thingy. He has nothing and knows it.

          Not sure how that matters, since it is little more then a thought experiment.

          Have you not paid any attention to science for the last century? His thought experiment has been confirmed by experiment and observation. He predicted that light would be affected by gravity when nobody suspected it. Almost a hundred years ago, astronomers realized that during an upcoming solar eclipse, a certain star would be behind the sun but would be visible if Einstein’s theory was correct as the path of the light would be bent. They made their observations and saw the star precisely where the theory predicted it would be seen.

          If GPS didn’t account for his theory, GPS wouldn’t work.

          I don’t see anything occur without a cause.

          But you have never seen anything that was caused to exist from non-existence, the only effects you have ever seen are things that already existed being caused to change. Jumping to the conclusion from that to a cause acting on nothing can have an effect is a non sequitur.

          How much of your income do you donate to your religion that is based on fallacy after fallacy?

        • I don’t see anything occur without a cause.

          Copenhagen.

        • Damien Priestly

          Classic “God of the Gaps” — you are proposing.

          In the past there was no known cause for earthquakes — so Poseidon became the answer. There was no explanation for thunder — So Odin became the reason.

          So here you are — don’t know how the universe was created? Must be our magic God.

        • Hans-Richard Grümm

          The universe is not a thing, it is a collection of things existing at different times. Thus every thing in the current universe (2019) can have a cause in a previous universe (e.g. 2018).
          P.S. There are events which according to quantum physics may well be without a cause: the emission of a hard photon during a rare pion decay.

    • larry parker

      It is obvious, because within the context of the universe there is nothing that comes into existence without a cause.

      Have you explored the entire universe?

      • JustAnotherAtheist2

        His argument fails regardless when you consider that, in the context of our universe, everything with efficient causes has material ones as well.

        So, if we are justified in infering his conclusion, we must also conclude that everything also emerged from pre-existing material.

    • Thanks4AllTheFish

      Why do you continue to believe you have the only right answers to all the big questions? You don’t ‘know’ anything that hasn’t been taught to you by someone else – just like us. The difference is, we use the evidence that meets falsifiable criteria to build a consensus and we say we don’t know if we don’t. You form or believe a consensus that makes you comfortable and then seek out those things that confirm your belief and willfully disregard anything that doesn’t. Then you cavalierly fill-in the gaps with Goddidit.

    • Otto

      Hyde is making the case that Christianity is the cumulative of evidence and not one piece.

      If we add up a bunch of bad arguments the culmination is not a good argument.

    • Wisdom, Justice, Love

      You used theoretical twice.
      Why isn’t theology theoretical?
      How do you differentiate Mythology and Theology?

      • How do you differentiate Mythology and Theology?

        My guess: theology has believers alive today and mythology doesn’t.

        • Wisdom, Justice, Love

          Right. Because “Nobody” believes it anymore. Religious beliefs are organic; they just grow or die on their own. They don’t survive through brutal, violent, sadistic methods. It says so in the Bible.

        • rationalobservations?

          I would observe not many living believers.
          I was invited to study an ancient pagan hand fasting ceremony that originated an unknown time before christianity was imposed upon the known world in the 4th century. It’s fascinating how many terms and rituals have been adopted by Christians but most significant maybe the term “tying the knot” as a term for marriage that is 100% pagan in origin. Like Christmas and Easter as a further aside.

          The only difference between mythology and religion appears to be that religionists object to their mythology being correctly described as mythology.

    • (((J_Enigma32)))

      Hyde is making the case that Christianity is the cumulative of evidence and not one piece.

      What type of evidence? Not empirical evidence and certainly not a priori evidence. Empirical evidence is as best neutral and a priori evidence is often antagonistic.

      Of course, that’s only if you’re talking about an Abrahamic deity. This gets messier if you start bringing in other definitions for “god,” but since we’re talking about Christians, I will restrain just to the Abrahamic concept of God, in which case I absolutely stand by my assertion that there not one iota of empirical evidence and the vast, vast majority of a prior evidence is hostile.

      It is obvious, because within the context of the universe there is nothing that comes into existence without a cause

      This is an unfounded assertion. It’s true causality applies to our universe as we understand it now, but rewind the clock to the big bang and things become very weird indeed.

      You are left with the same assertion with naturalism.

      Perhaps if you deliberately misunderstand what modern theoretical physics suggests. When you get to small cosmic scales, when the quantum nature of reality rears its ugly head, words like “before” don’t even make sense. “Before” depends on causality and space time, and the quantum realm shows a marked disregard for these concepts, especially local causality but also non-local causality; a quick trip down Quantum Entanglement Lane handily demonstrates this. Asking what came “before” the Big Bang is like asking when the clock will strike orange. It’s an incoherent question that doesn’t mean anything, but it’s exactly the sort of thought process that happens when you anthropomorphize the universe.

    • Michael Neville

      Hyde is making the case that Christianity is the cumulative of evidence and not one piece.

      So instead of one conclusive, falsifiable, reasonable piece of evidence Hyde has little bits of weak evidence that added together equals not enough to be conclusive.

      “we’re to accept that God doesn’t have a creator just because”
      You are left with the same assertion with naturalism. Other then a multiverse that will only ever be theoretical and the assumption that outside the existence of the laws of science a quantum event could happen which is again only ever theoretical; you must assert that “we’re to accept naturalism just because”.

      We (and we includes you) don’t know how the universe began. Let me emphasize that: WE DON’T KNOW. This is honest, unlike certain flavors of theism which make up silly stories about how the universe began and pretend these stories are not only true but proven.

      The origin of the universe and whether or not naturalism is acceptable are two completely different things. It’s only certain flavors of theists who pretend that if naturalism is false then the fallback is automatically an Iron Age Middle Eastern tribal god.

      …what is sufficient evidence?

      It would need to be conclusive, falsifiable and repeatable. So far no evidence for gods have even come close to achieving these criteria.

      EDITED because Disqus does weird things like throwing extraneous line returns into comments.

    • Jack the Sandwichmaker

      So Christianity itself is the BEST evidence that Hyde can provide?

      So no better evidence than that provided by Islam or Buddhism or Mormonism of their claims?

      • Michael Neville

        Islam, Buddhism and Mormonism are all false because the Holy Spirit testified to William Lane Craig’s Hyde’s heart. In other words, the voice in his head told him so.

        • Jack the Sandwichmaker

          And if Muslims claim they heard Allah speak to their heart of Islam’s truth, that was obviously Satan

    • Even if naturalism failed, as stated below why we must assume a book that is a compilations of stories, etc. from up to the Bronze Age era is the automatic fallbak?, What about similar stories from cultures all around the world or the alternative being something radically different?

    • Ficino

      “evidence for God the Christian often does not know where to start” & “Nearly everything the Christian lays eyes on is proof of God’s existence”

      If everything counts as evidence for some claim, then effectively nothing does, and the claim is being treated as self-evident or as properly basic, not as justified by appeal to a distinct body of evidence.

      • JustAnotherAtheist2

        Yup, the only way anything can count as evidence for god is if it is possible for alternate data to be evidence against god.

        So, JB, what circumstances or sequence of events would demonstrate the absence of a god?

    • Phil

      Therefore, by the same argument, a god is only theoretical.

      • rationalobservations?

        There are millions of hypothetical gods, goddesses and god-men (30,000,000 said to inhabit the sacred cows of India alone!) and there is no evidence of the existence of any of them.
        Scientific theories are the basis and cornerstone of all modern sciences and no modern scientific theory has ever been overturned. To talk of any of the millions of undetected and undetectable hypothetical gods, goddesses and god-men as “theoretical” is to flatter the delusional religionists beyond that warranted by their childish superstitions and fictional deities.

        • Phil

          Wow! I was only commenting on the hypocrisy of Schmidt’s put down of science as theoretical. But yes I agree but too complicated for the likes of him to grasp.

        • rationalobservations?

          Sorry but there is a lot of laxity in communication with religionists and they are a dishonest lot to start with without giving them straws to clutch at and “Evolution is just a theory” non argument reinforcement.
          I’ve been confounding religionists too long to open any doors to their garbage by sloppy writing.
          No offence and best regards. Better a sloppy argument than no argument at all I suppose…

    • Grimlock

      This is a statement regarding the universe. It is obvious, because within the context of the universe there is nothing that comes into existence without a cause.

      Let’s get more specific:

      Within the universe, nothing “comes into existence” except perhaps quantum phenomena, which – yes – comes into existence in a physical context. Everything else is really just a reorganization of existing matter.

      Shouldn’t this make us suspect that everything has a material cause? Which doesn’t seem to fit very well with an immaterial God.

  • JustAnotherAtheist2

    I have a hard time taking Hyde seriously.

    Asking a Christian to prove God’s existence is like asking someone to prove the existence of civilization.

    A “civilation” has no independent existence, it’s an abstraction that refers to a certain amount of people doing certain types of things. The people exist, the question is whether they meet the criteria to warrant using the term.

    So is Hyde saying “god” is an abstraction that has no independent existence? That it’s a qualifier rather than an entity? Because I can draw no other conclusion from his argument.

    If one means, “that which has come into existence,” then surely God does not exist because God never came into existence. He always was; He is eternal.

    LOL! Regardless of origin, god exists now, no? So why would this characteristic be an impediment to demonstrating existence?

    Poe’s Law is very much at play here.

  • Michael Murray

    Look over there a Klingon Bird of Prey.

    I can’t see anything.

    Of course you can’t it’s cloaked isn’t it. Vogon’s have cloaking technology. The fact you can’t see it proves it must be there.

    • You can detect a cloaked ship by, for example, its exhaust -just ask Kirk in Star Trek VI-

      • epicurus

        So in a god’s case, divine exhaust- haha.

        • Greg G.

          You already know about that. Holy Smoke!

    • carbonUnit

      I’ll look for its landing pad depressions in the grass. (ST IV)

      (In the Star Trek universe, Birds of Prey don’t hide as well as dragons do in garages.
      https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/The_Dragon_in_My_Garage )

  • Michael Murray

    “1. There is no evidence for God’s existence.”

    These people never lack for straw do they. I’d say “I’ve never encountered any convincing evidence for existence of gods.”

    • Jack the Sandwichmaker

      I have heard (and even said myself) that there’s no evidence.
      I call it an exageration of not sufficient evidence.

      • Michael Murray

        Yes I would assume that was what most atheists would mean by no evidence. It’s a shorthand for something that needs further elaboration. For me too many years of nit-picking religious arguments on the internet has made me over pedantic about what I say !

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          You have to be pedantic because most of the time the devil is in the details . Pun intended.

  • rationalobservations?

    The thing that believers in the garbage of any of the monotheistic (a misnomer since they all list many, many supernatural entities) businesses of religion don’t realise invalidates all their “Pascal’s Wager” type non-arguments is that atheists do not specifically disbelieve in their ridiculous previously Canaanite god “Yahweh”. We find nothing to believe within the myths legends and lies of all religions concerning all the millions of fictional, undetected and undetectable gods, goddesses and god-men and merely include their mythical and nonexistent super-spook with all the millions of gods, goddesses and god-men that religionists join us in not believing in and for the same reasons that we don’t believe in theirs.

    https://external-preview.redd.it/KOR8lvX9Y6PmImGQxt5MDSKx8NPkVpQPCXZ8ZYAmpQI.jpg?auto=webp&s=a95d0284e01c903a7698f3c28db62a1b59518fa5

  • sandy

    When people say, “do you believe in God” the natural assumption, they presume, is the christian God Yahweh/Jesus. But that’s not the God of of approximately 66% of the world’s population. I guess my point is why would you pick as your God one that is in a minority and is an absolute prick and mass murderer as clearly laid out in the bible? As rationalobservations points out below, all of the christian beliefs are born out of previous myths and tired old stories that christians have borrowed. In our age of information, to borrow from the internet, we are either illiterate or 7 years old, to believe the christian story.

    • David M

      Why assume that “God” refers to the Christian God? Well, the first step is to decide between monotheism and polytheism. On philosophical grounds, monotheism seems like the best option. The next step is to decide which version of monotheism is likely to be correct. If we suppose that the one true God has chosen to reveal Himself in history then we should ask which religious tradition is most persuasive.

      Christianity and Islam are the two biggest monotheistic faiths, so it seems reasonable to focus on them. Both of them claim to be inheritors of the Jewish faith, but their claims are not necessarily of equal merit. Christianity arose in a Jewish context but Islam didn’t. Furthermore, Islam concedes that there is *some* truth in Christian tradition but declares that the tradition has been corrupted. But we need to ask on what basis the “genuine” aspects of Christian tradition (as Islam sees them) can be separated from the false aspects. This seems to be a problem for Islam. So there are reasons for thinking that *if* there is a true God then the Christian tradition gives us the best understanding of Him.

      • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

        Not at all.

        Why bother with a knockoff of Judaism when you can go right to the source, if you’re going to use *that* rationale?

        • David M

          Because it was part of Jewish tradition that the Gentiles would one day turn to worshipping Yahweh and that clearly happened with the birth of Christianity. Now, Jews *could* try to argue that it wasn’t meant to happen like that, but it leaves them with a predicament. They are still waiting for Gentiles to turn to Yahweh for the “right” reasons, as they see it.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          O RLY?

          Book / chapter / verse on that one, then?

          And Greg G. is completely right that until you can demonstrate this / these ‘god(s)’ of yours, it’s all mental mas turba tion…

        • David M

          You could try Isaiah 2:2-3 and Zechariah 2:11 for starters.

        • Greg G.

          Let’s try Jesus’ prayer in John 17:20-23 for starters.

          John 17:20-23 (NRSV)20 “I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

          Jesus prayed that the believers in him would believe as one so that the whole world, including Gentiles, would then believe in Yahweh. But the whole world has never believed so Jesus is the biggest prayer failure of all time.

        • David M

          Certainly it was Jesus’ hope that everyone would be saved. But anyone who wants to know why that was never likely to happen need only read some of the comments on this blog. Wilful misunderstanding was always going to be a problem.

        • Otto

          But anyone who wants to know why that was never likely to happen need only read some of the comments on this blog. Wilful misunderstanding was always going to be a problem.

          When the followers of Jesus are even remotely on the same page be sure to let us know.

        • Greg G.

          Certainly it was Jesus’ hope that everyone would be saved. But anyone who wants to know why that was never likely to happen need only read some of the comments on this blog. Wilful misunderstanding was always going to be a problem.

          Does the result of a prayer have to be likely to have it answered? What about when Jesus himself prays?

          The prayer has nothing to do with non-believers not believing. It is about believers believing as one. Jesus seems to have thought that would be so impressive to the rest of the world that the rest of the world would come to believe. It says that twice. But it never happened so the prayer failed.

          Being that the prayer is in the greatest selling book of all time, a book that touts the efficacy of prayer, especially when done in Jesus’ name, it is the biggest prayer failure possible.

        • Thanks4AllTheFish

          Why would the supposed Son of God have to hope?
          What do people need saving from (other than themselves)?
          Why does Yahweh apparently require human beings to believe in it?
          Why would anyone want eternal life?
          Why can’t any three random Christians come to a consensus about anything their Savior supposedly said or did, what heaven or hell is really supposed to be like, or point to any appreciable physical difference in the world they live in and the one we do?
          Why does the Immutable Word of God as told in the Holy Bible, need so many different versions?

          So many Christians – so many questions – so many opinions – so little evidence.

        • Wilful misunderstanding was always going to be a problem.

          Yes, definitely. I’m not sure we agree on who’s doing the misunderstanding, though.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Uh, if the Jeez is asking for it, doesn’t that make it done deal, it being a prayer and prayer always being answered and all?

        • Greg G.

          Jesus says some things require fasting. John 13:2 says they had a meal, then Jesus talks almost continuously until the end of chapter 17. The prayer probably would have worked if Jesus hadn’t had supper before the prayer. But Jesus got arrested, tried, convicted, and crucified right after he stopped talking and nobody wants to be crucified on an empty stomach.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          “…isn’t it *ironic*…don’t you think? A little TOO ironic…yeah I really *do* think…”

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          What about honest misunderstanding?

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Nor has the whole of Christendom believed in Jesus IN THE SAME WAY…

          so even *more* fail

          🙂

        • I don’t see how the Isaiah quote is helpful.

          Zech. 2:11-12 says: “Many nations will be joined with the LORD in that day and will become my people. I will live among you and you will know that the LORD Almighty has sent me to you. The LORD will inherit Judah as his portion in the holy land and will again choose Jerusalem.”

          The chapter is talking about many groups of people coming into Jerusalem, but not the whole world. And the last sentence seems to repeat Deut. 32:9, which talks about Yahweh’s inheritance. This is also not a statement of the whole world but just Yahweh’s tribe. This is no argument that the whole world will become God’s people.

          But maybe you should restate your overall point. That would help if I’ve gone off track.

        • Because it was part of Jewish tradition that the Gentiles would one day turn to worshipping Yahweh and that clearly happened with the birth of Christianity.

          Jewish tradition documented where? In the Bible? In the Talmud?

      • Greg G.

        Why assume that “God” refers to the Christian God?

        Because most people who ask the question are Christians who want to know if you believe in their god thingy.

        Well, the first step is to decide between monotheism and polytheism.

        The first step is to consider the evidence for god thingies. The next step is to consider the evidence that points to a specific god thingy. Sofar, we are stuck at the beginning of step 1.

      • Grimlock

        Well, the first step is to decide between monotheism and polytheism. On philosophical grounds, monotheism seems like the best option.

        I’ve seen similar sentiments being expressed before. Could you be a bit more specific about what these philosophical grounds are?

        I’d also be curious to know how one would control for how (western) philosophy have had great incentives to justify monotheism, and less so to justify polytheism.

        • David M

          Could there be a philosophical defence of polytheism? I don’t know. Perhaps the subject has been unfairly neglected. But if we are going to make an a priori choice between polytheism and monotheism, then the mere possibility that there might be a philosophical case for the former doesn’t really count.

        • Grimlock

          I’m not sure an a priori choice would include the philosophical defenses. That sounds a posteriori to me. But hey, to each their own.

          A cursory glance seems that most typical monotheistic arguments would work quite well for polytheism. But perhaps I’m missing something.

          Anyhow, what are these aforementioned philosophical grounds to prefer monotheism?

        • David M

          It is difficult to believe that the Universe originated from a pantheon of squabbling deities. It makes more sense to think that the real source of all things is something more basic and unified like a single Almighty Deity, or a single Law of Nature. Furthermore, it would be surprising if, say, the Olympian gods, who at one time were supposedly concerned to demonstrate their power to the human race would then allow themselves to be largely forgotten.

        • Grimlock

          Interesting.

          First off, it’s difficult for me to believe that the universe originated from an uppity and quarrelsome tribal god. Should monotheism therefore be dismissed? I think so. It’s also worth noting that the Christian god, who supposedly was concerned with demonstrating his powers, has allowed himself to be, if not forgotten, then ignored by the majority of humans.

          More generally, you appear to be comparing apples and oranges. A more… Shall we say primal view of polytheism to a more philosophically worked through view of monotheism.

          Your more interesting comment is this:

          It makes more sense to think that the real source of all things is something more basic and unified like a single Almighty Deity, or a single Law of Nature.

          This appears to be a restatement of your original thesis. Namely that monotheism is a better fundamental reality than polytheism. But what I want to know is the reasons that this is so.

        • David M

          All ancient conceptions of God or the gods will seem unsophisticated to some extent. But the question is whether there is one particular conception which is easier to formulate as a coherent philosophical option. Theologians argue that God is not contingent. If God was contingent then there would have to be something more fundamental underlying God that was not contingent. Could there be a multitude of non-contingent gods? I find that difficult to grasp.

          And my other point cannot be brushed off so easily. If we compare the current status of Christianity with that of paganism, then we see a big difference. That difference doesn’t disappear just by saying that devotion to the Christian God is not as great as it could be. Remember the original issue, which was whether there were any grounds for singling out the Christian God.

          I think I will leave it at that. If someone genuinely thinks that there is nothing to choose between paganism and Christianity then I consider further discussion to be a waste of time.

        • Greg G.

          All ancient conceptions of God or the gods will seem unsophisticated to some extent.

          What makes them look sophisticated? They might become more colored in over time as people at to the idea. But that make the various thunder gods more divergent. What is added is not based on observation but imagination alone. Even St. Nicholas has diverged from his earlier conceptions through different cultures over the centuries.

          If someone genuinely thinks that there is nothing to choose between paganism and Christianity then I consider further discussion to be a waste of time.

          It is not the lack of choice between them, it is the lack of evidence for any of them that prevents any choice from being compelling.

        • Grimlock

          All ancient conceptions of God or the gods will seem unsophisticated to some extent. But the question is whether there is one particular conception which is easier to formulate as a coherent philosophical option. Theologians argue that God is not contingent. If God was contingent then there would have to be something more fundamental underlying God that was not contingent. Could there be a multitude of non-contingent gods? I find that difficult to grasp.

          Indeed, they will all seem “unsophisticated”, which is why your initial comparison was a case of apples to oranges.

          As for non-contingency, that seems to touch on the philosophical grounds you mentioned. But your personal level of credulity doesn’t quite suffice as “philosophical grounds” in my eyes.

          And my other point cannot be brushed off so easily. If we compare the current status of Christianity with that of paganism, then we see a big difference. That difference doesn’t disappear just by saying that devotion to the Christian God is not as great as it could be. Remember the original issue, which was whether there were any grounds for singling out the Christian God.

          Let’s be clear. I’ve asked for what philosophical grounds you use to choose between monotheism and polytheism.

          What you discuss here is the current popularity of (a collection of variants of) a version of monotheism to a version of polytheism. Which is not precisely a philosophical ground to prefer monotheism to polytheism, is it?

          I think I will leave it at that. If someone genuinely thinks that there is nothing to choose between paganism and Christianity then I consider further discussion to be a waste of time.

          I’m asking you to substantiate your claim that there are philosophical grounds to prefer monotheism to polytheism. Your substantiation appears to reduce to personal credulity and an appeal to the current popularity of variants of mono- and polytheism.

          But sure. We can move on to another of your assertions. I’ll start a new subthread, I think.

        • Michael Newsham

          David Hume answered this objection a couple of hundred years ago, when he said that the more complicated something is, the more likely it is to have been made by a whole bunch of people working together, rather than one man. (The example he used was a ship, but a 747 works even better.) Besides, is this world perfect, made by a perfect being? Rather than inventing a story about a talking snake, just admit that the cosmos looks like it was designed by committee, or as Hume said, an apprentice God who made this as his first poor attempt, and has been laughed at by the other Gods ever since.

        • Michael Neville

          Just as a historical note, in pre-Industrial Revolution times, when Hume was living, a sailing ship was one of the most complicated pieces of machinery in common use.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          And then John Harrison came up with the chronometer…

          😉

        • Michael Neville

          Compared to a sailing ship, a chronometer is a very simple machine.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Just being silly…sorry.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          If someone genuinely thinks that there is nothing to choose between paganism and Christianity then I consider further discussion to be a waste of time.

          APPLAUSE!!!!

          You *finally* get it!

          …oh, it’s because you *still* persist in your superstition?…

          never mind

        • Greg G.

          I hope he doesn’t leave in a huff without a “Harumph!”

        • Otto

          Theologians argue that God is not contingent.

          I know what they argue, I have no reason to think they are right. The argument is special pleading, it is essentially positing that something natural HAS to be contingent but God does not…that is the point.

        • rationalobservations?

          Within the first lines of the “ten commandments” is the acknowledgement of other gods.

          The fact is and remains that “Yahweh” was one of a “package” and pantheon of gods and goddesses that belonged to many tribes, nations and cultures before the tribes who reinvented themselves as “Hebrew” borrowed Yahweh and is wife/consort Asherah from (probably) the Canaanites.

          “Asherah, the Shekinah, consort and beloved of Yahweh. God-the-Mother. Her sacred pillars or poles once stood right beside Yahweh’s altar, embracing it. Moses and Aaron both carried one of these Asherah “poles” as a sacred staff of power. The Children of Israel were once dramatically healed simply by gazing at the staff with serpents suspended from it. This symbol, the snakes and the staff, has become the modern universal symbol for doctors and healers.* Asherah was also widely known in the Middle Eastern ancient world as a Goddess of Healing. Then She was removed forcibly from the Old Testament Hebrew Scriptures around 400 or 500 B.C. Her priestesses & priests, known by the headbands they wore, worshiped on hill-tops, such as Zion, Mount of Olives, Har Megiddo and countless others. Daughter of Zion, a term found numerous times in the Old Testament, was perhaps a term for a priestess of Asherah. It later came to mean the “City of God,” or Jerusalem herself. As the “official” state worship became increasingly male oriented, and the establishment became hostile toward all forms of Asherah worship, a time of conflict and bloodshed lasting over a hundred years began. Those that still clung to Her worship paid the price with their lives at the hands of King Josiah and other rabid Yahwists. (Story in the 2nd Kings ). But She could not be torn from the hearts and souls of Her people.

          Asherah from the Religion of the Canaanites

          She was the wife of El in Ugaritic mythology, and is the goddess who is also called Athirau-Yammi: “She Who Walks on (or in) the Sea.” She was the chief goddess of Tyre in the 15th century BC, and bore the appellation qudshu, “holiness.” In the OT Asherah appears as a goddess by the side of Baal, whose consort she evidently became, at least among the Canaanites of the south. However, most biblical references to the name point obviously to some cult object of wood, which might be cut down and burned, possibly the goddesses’ image (1 Kings 15:13, 2 King 21:7). Her prophets are mentioned (1 Kings 18:19), and the vessels used in her service referred to (2 Kings 23:4). The existence of numerous symbols, in each of which the goddess was believed to be immanent, led to the creation of numerous forms of her person, which were described as Asherim. The cult object itself, whatever it was, was utterly detestible to faithful worshippers of Yahweh (1 Kings 15:13), and was set up on the high places beside the “altars of incense” (hammanim) and the “stone pillars” (masseboth). The translation of asherah by “grove” in some translations follows a singular tradition preserved in the LXX and the Vulgate which apparently connects the goddess’ image with the usual place of its adoration.

          A Hebrew inscription on a broken storage jar, found in Kuntillet ‘Ajrud in north-eastern Sinai and dated from the beginning of the eighth century BCE has three primitive figures: a standing male figure in the foreground; a female figure just behind him; and a seated musician in the background. The Hebrew inscription above the drawing reads: ‘I bless you by Yhwh of Samaria and his Asherah’ (Dever, 1984; King, 1989). Furthermore, a tomb inscription from el-Qom in Judea, dated to the eighth century BCE too, concludes with the words: ‘to Yhwh and his Asherah’ (Margalit, 1989, 1990 and further references there).

          Asherah, like Anat, is a well-documented goddess of the northwest Semitic pantheon. We remember that, according to the Bible itself, in the ninth century BCE Asherah was officially worshipped in Israel; her cult was matronized by Jezebel who, supposedly, imported it from her native Phoenician homeland. Other traces in the Bible either angrily acknowledge her worship as goddess (2 Kings 14.13, for instance, where another royal lady is involved), or else demote her from goddess to a sacred tree or pole set up near an altar (2 Kings 13.6, 17.16; Deuteronomy 16.21 and more). The apparent need for the hostile and widely distributed polemics against her worship constitutes evidence for its continued popularity. Linguistically, Margalit claims (1989), ‘Asherah’ signifies ‘[she] who walks behind’, displaying a prototypic if divine attitude that befits a wife (and is reflected in the Kuntillet Ajrud drawing). Thus both the partially suppressed and distorted biblical evidence and the archaeological evidence combine to suggest one conclusion. The cult of a goddess, considered the spouse of Yhwh, was celebrated throughout the First Temple era in the land, and beyond this period at the Jewish settlement in Elephantine (in Egypt).”

          http://northernway.org/hgoddess.html

        • Greg G.

          There are comets and meteorites crashing into planets, planets crashing into their suns or being flung out of orbit and into space, stars crashing into black holes, galaxies colliding with one another, yet the super-clusters of galaxies are accelerating away from each other. At the very least, it must be like Gomez and Pugsley Addams and their toy train crashes.

        • Squabbling? I’m sure they’re all enlightened and work together harmoniously. If you have evidence that points elsewhere, show us.

        • Greg G.

          Could there be a philosophical defence of polytheism?

          Bats hunt insects in the dark using echolocation. Some flying insect, a moth IIRC, evolved a hollow space in their forelimbs that resonates at bat echolocation frequencies, which makes the moth fold its wings and stop flying to evade the bat. But some bats have evolved the behavior of listening for the resonating forelimbs of the moths.

          That implies that there is more than one god thingy guiding the evolution. Or that there is no god thingy guiding evolution so that each species is developing according to the natural selection of random mutations.

          The only way there could be monotheistic god thingy is if it has a multiple personality disorder. But who would want to spend eternity with millions of competing omnipotent personalities?

        • Maybe you could make your argument that polytheism is superior to monotheism using evidence.

      • Susan

        the first step is to decide between monotheism and polytheism.

        There is nothing particularly monotheistic about Yahwehjesus and the holy ghost.

        Christianity arose in a Jewish context but Islam didn’t.

        Seriously? They are both Abrahamic traditions. Christianity arose in an Abrahamic context.

        we need to ask on what basis the “genuine” aspects of Christian tradition (as Islam sees them) can be separated from the false aspects.

        Or both islam and christianity can be based on culturally contingent supernatural beliefs. Checking one against the other, based on the unsupported claims of either doesn’t get you very far.

        This seems to be a problem for Islam.

        Cute. A problem for islam but not for christianity?

        there are reasons for thinking that *if* there is a true God then the Christian tradition gives us the best understanding

        What reasons are those?

        of Him.

        Him, huh? Why “him”?

        • David M

          I’m afraid that you have missed the point of the exercise, which was to compare religions with one another. The possibility that they might all be false was being set to one side. So, yes, all religious beliefs might just be products of the human imagination, but that wasn’t the issue being addressed. My claim was that if you judge Christianity and Islam by the rules that they have set themselves then one of them emerges as the winner. What do I mean by the “rules that they have set themselves”? It is how well they can be integrated into the traditions from which they claim to emerge.

        • Susan

          I’m afraid that you have missed the point of the exercise

          It wouldn’t be the first time.

          My claim was that if you judge Christianity and Islam by the rules that they have set themselves then one of them emerges as the winner.

          OK. How so?

        • David M

          Well, Muhammad could just have said that Jesus and his followers were all frauds but he didn’t. Instead, Muhammad said that Jesus was a prophet. But Muhammad also thought that traditions about Jesus had been corrupted. So the traditions about Jesus were supposedly reliable enough to show that Jesus was a prophet but at the same time they must have been sufficiently corrupt to mislead so many people. That doesn’t make much sense.

        • Susan

          That doesn’t make much sense.

          It doesn’t have to. Muhammed was a prophet speaking on behalf of Allah (aka Yahweh).

          It makes no less sense than a miracle-performing preacher who healed the sick and raised people from the dead, but who made virtually no impact on those around him, just a little cult,in the beginning.

          It all makes about as much sense as Mormonism, which is none.

        • I hear you. Fallible men inventing theology is a messy business. But you need to look in a mirror to make sure you’re innocent of this.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          So the traditions about Jesus were supposedly reliable enough to show that Jesus was a prophet but at the same time they must have been sufficiently corrupt to mislead so many people.

          Or… and I know this is mind blowing, so just hear me out… Muhammad saw granting Jesus begrudging respect as a better marketing strategy.

          I know, that is far more radical than thinking Jesus really came back from the dead, which Muhammad tried to downplay but couldn’t manage to do so entirely. But sometimes you have to let your mind go to absurd places.

        • rationalobservations?

          If you don’t believe that Mohamed “flew to paradise on a winged horse” and was the “true prophet of the only true god”, why do you believe other things written about him long after he had died?

          If Mohamed did acknowledge the legends of “Jesus” it does not validate or authenticate those legends.

          What is missing is genuine, authentic and original, 1st century originated historical evidence of the existence and confused and contradictory, incredible and newsworthy exploits of “Jesus” that first appeared centuries after the time in which those legends are merely set but of which no historical trace has ever been discovered.

          Any question of the corruption or dishonesty of the apparently fictional “Jesus” is moot unless and until actual evidence of “his” existence is presented by those who have been entranced by the legends written men and endlessly edited, amended, exaggerated and re-re-re-re-written by many generations of men down the ages since the oldest bibles appeared in the 4th century that are so very different from the bibles in circulation today.

          Please stop discussing the mythology and address the question of historical evidence (or the lack thereof) that supports the mythology.

        • Greg G.

          I don’t see how Islam saying some Christianity is true but not being able to identify which parts are corrupted is any worse than Christianity knowing some specific corruptions exist but denying that there are any others make Christianity the winner.

          Most Christians will admit Mark 16:9-20 and John 8:2-11 are interpolated. But there are verses quoted by early church fathers that lack a phrase here or there that are not recognized as interpolations. 1 Corinthians 10:18-22 form a sequence with an exhortation, a rhetorical question, and a response to the question using the same metaphors. The third sequence has the exhortation and the question but no response until 1 Corinthians 11:30-31, giving a strong indication of an interpolation seam. The material in between looks like a rewording of other passages in 1 Corinthians and other NT passages. But few Christians will recognize that as an issue because it is merely textual evidence without manuscript evidence.

          Then the gospels read like fiction. Mark explains that Bartimaeus means “Son of Timaeus”. Then he has Jesus open the Gethsemane prayer with “Abba, Father” to teach that “Abba” is Aramaic for “father”. Then we are introduced to Barabbas after being taught that the name means “Son of Father”. The Jews are made to choose between two men who are called “Son of Father”, much like the scapegoat ritual of Leviticus 16:5-22 where one goat is killed for the sins of the nation and the other is released inot the wilderness. That is immediately followed by the Mocking of Jesus and the mention of the sign that says “Hail, King of the Jews”. All of that seems to be drawn from Philo of Alexandria, Flaccus, Book VI which is the story of the Mocking of Carabbas. The name only differs with the first letter in Greek, too. There are many parallels in the mocking, and there is the calling of “Maris”, which Philo explains as how they hailed the “King of the Syrians”.

          Mark uses many Aramaic words and explains almost all of them. He also uses Latin words but never explains them, so we can infer that he was writing to educated Romans.

          This is not the only Markan passage that appears to be drawn from the most popular literature of the day. The other gospels use a lot of these stories about a preacher/teacher form Galilee.

          On the other hand, the early epistles have nothing about a preacher/teacher from Galilee. Everything they say about Jesus can be found in the Old Testament, so nothing actually seems to be about a first century Jesus.

          It seems to me that Islam is wrong when it concedes there is *some* truth in the Christian tradition.

        • David M

          Oh dear. I see that you have been reading the cranks. The scene involving Jesus and Barabbas supposedly echoes the scapegoat ritual – as long as you don’t think about it too carefully. The scapegoats are not symbolic sons of the father. Jesus died by crucifixion, not by having his throat cut. The ritual was not carried out by the Romans on behalf of the Jewish people. Jesus did not die at the time of the ritual. Both animals used in the ritual had to be unblemished but Barabbas was not unblemished. Nor was Barabbas driven away from the people. Instead, he was handed back to the people.

          When cranks try to argue that scenes in the Gospels were copied from other sources, it always pays to look at the small print. It would be too tedious to address your other points, which are all off-topic anyway.

        • Greg G.

          Yes, and the scapegoat ritual is performed on Yom Kippur – Atonement Day – which is months after the Passover. Paul calls Jesus the “Passover Lamb” while John has Jesus arrested, tried, and executed before the Passover meal when the Synoptics say all that happened after the Passover. But the Passover lamb is not a sin offering. Mark was writing fiction, not symbolism.

          Mark has Barabbas (Mt 27:15-26) followed by the Mocking of Jesus which ends with the sign that says “Hail, King of the Jews” (Mt 27:27-29). The Mocking of Jesus has the Roman soldiers performing the same puerile antics that “idle children and wanton youths” did to Carabbas.

          Philo of Alexandria, Flaccus, Book VI.
          (36) There was a certain madman named Carabbas, afflicted not with a wild, savage, and dangerous madness (for that comes on in fits without being expected either by the patient or by bystanders), but with an intermittent and more gentle kind; this man spent all this days and nights naked in the roads, minding neither cold nor heat, the sport of idle children and wanton youths; (37) and they, driving the poor wretch as far as the public gymnasium, and setting him up there on high that he might be seen by everybody, flattened out a leaf of papyrus and put it on his head instead of a diadem, and clothed the rest of his body with a common door mat instead of a cloak and instead of a sceptre they put in his hand a small stick of the native papyrus which they found lying by the way side and gave to him; (38) and when, like actors in theatrical spectacles, he had received all the insignia of royal authority, and had been dressed and adorned like a king, the young men bearing sticks on their shoulders stood on each side of him instead of spear-bearers, in imitation of the bodyguards of the king, and then others came up, some as if to salute him, and others making as though they wished to plead their causes before him, and others pretending to wish to consult with him about the affairs of the state. (39) Then from the multitude of those who were standing around there arose a wonderful shout of men calling out Maris; and this is the name by which it is said that they call the kings among the Syrians; for they knew that Agrippa was by birth a Syrian, and also that he was possessed of a great district of Syria of which he was the sovereign;

          Matthew 27:27-29 (NIV)27 Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. 28 They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said.

        • So because Jesus and Barabbas weren’t actually goats, the comparison falls apart?

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          It’s not well known, but there is a rhetorical device called a “metaphor” that you might want to look into.

        • My claim was that if you judge Christianity and Islam by the rules that they have set themselves then one of them emerges as the winner.

          And going down that road, Islam wins. Their apologists say, in effect, “What part of monotheism do you not understand?”

          I’m sure you’re familiar with the Shahadah, “There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his messenger.” Right there in their statement of faith is one god. The Trinity thing has become embarrassing in the monotheism war with Islam.

      • Why is monotheism the philosophically superior choice? And wouldn’t you call Christianity polytheistic with that whole Trinity thing going on?

        But we need to ask on what basis the “genuine” aspects of Christian tradition (as Islam sees them) can be separated from the false aspects. This seems to be a problem for Islam.

        Let’s not imagine that Christianity doesn’t have loads of problems.

      • Grimlock

        Moving on from your currently unsubstantiated claim that monotheism is preferable to polytheism on philosophical grounds, let’s focus on another dubious step.

        If we suppose that the one true God has chosen to reveal Himself in history then we should ask which religious tradition is most persuasive.

        Why should we suppose this?

      • rationalobservations?

        How did Yahweh reveal itself in history?
        Yahweh was a minor part of many pantheons before the primitive tribes who reinvented themselves as Hebrew “borrowed” it from the Canaanites.

        There is no historical trace of “Jesus” at all.

        What makes you think that Christianity is monotheistic? There are many thousands of immortal demigod mythological beings in addition to Yahweh.

        • David M

          “There is no historical trace of “Jesus” at all.”

          So now we are moving into crank territory.

        • rationalobservations?

          All that you need to do now is present actual tangible, authentic and original, 1st century originated historical evidence of the existence of “Jesus” to prove that you are not the gullible crank around here?

          Please not that referencing texts written by anonymous scribes centuries after the time in which the confused and contradictory legends of “Jesus” are set is NOT evidence of anything but the ignorance, duplicity and gullibility of the folk who founded theth ceentury Roman religion they called “christianity”.

          The surviving incarnation of that 4th century institution agree:

          “Our documentary sources of knowledge about the origins of Christianity and its earliest development are chiefly the New Testament Scriptures, the authenticity of which we must, to a great extent, take for granted.”
          (Catholic Encyclopedia, Farley ed., vol. iii, p. 712)

          The Church makes extraordinary admissions about its New Testament. For example, when discussing the origin of those writings,

          “the most distinguished body of academic opinion ever assembled” (Catholic Encyclopedias, Preface) admits that the Gospels “do not go back to the first century of the Christian era”

          (Catholic Encyclopedia, Farley ed., vol. vi, p. 137, pp. 655-6).

          This statement conflicts with priesthood assertions that the earliest Gospels were progressively written during the decades following the death of the Gospel Jesus Christ.

          In a remarkable aside, the Church further admits that,

          “the earliest of the extant manuscripts [of the New Testament], it is true, do not date back beyond the middle of the fourth century AD”

          (Catholic Encyclopedia, op. cit., pp. 656-7).

          Please correct, me, the catholic scholars and every other historian by revealing this tangible and actual evidence of “Jesus” you claim exists and the location in which that evidence is conserved and available for verification? (Otherwise you will be confirmed as either ignorant, a liar or both…)

        • David M

          So that’s the standard on this blog. I think I will give it a miss from now on.

        • rationalobservations?

          You capitulation is recognised, expected and welcomed.

          Run away from all that confounds you. That is the usual resort of those confronted with all that reveals the fraudulent nature of religion and religionists.

          PS: Congratulation of confirming your status as a “crank” so rapidly and convincingly…

        • Grimlock

          Yes, one commenter represents the standard for this blog.

          Wait, no. That doesn’t seem quite right…

        • rationalobservations?

          Your inability to contradict that which confounds you and your declaration of capitulation is noted…

        • Greg G.

          rationalobservations? and I had a fracas recently. We disagree on some things.

        • MR

          Stick to the atheist doctrine, people!

        • Grimlock

          If RO? represents the atheist doctrine on this subject, I’m handing in my atheist license.

        • rationalobservations?

          Oh dear! Sorry that you cannot contradict the evidence supported observations I put forward in argument against religionists.
          Are you sure you qualify as an “atheist”?

          Best regards
          RO?

        • Grimlock

          I’m pretty sure I qualify as an atheist, yes.

          As for contradicting you, after our exchange in this comment sections I’ve stopped bothering to read what you write, except for occasionally skimming a comment.

        • rationalobservations?

          All you need to do is present evidence of the existence and exploits of “Jesus” and I will stop observing that there is none.

          I am very interested in any evidence supported contradiction to my observations, Grimmy. Please elucidate if you know of such evidence?

          Your abandonment of discourse on the subject is typical of the empty assertions of those who claim to know of tangible historical (non mythological) evidence of the existence and exploits of Jesus, but can never offer anything but assumption, presumption, supposition and recycled christian propaganda originating from the 4th century or later. Then they invariably cut and run from further discussion or debate.

          Best wishes to you and yours and here’s hoping that you may surprise me with an actual evidence supported contradiction to my observations. That would be interesting indeed!

        • Grimlock

          I have no interest in discussing Jesus’ historicity with you.

          I am very interested in any evidence supported contradiction to my observations, Grimmy.

          Some of my online friends call me Grimmy, which I’m cool with. I’d prefer it if others did not do so.

        • rationalobservations?

          Your capitulation is accepted and expected, Grimly.
          Best wishes to you my friend.

        • rationalobservations?

          I have scanned through the comment column you link to but find no informed interaction between us within it.
          Your vague claims to deistic beliefs are unsupported by any logic or evidence between you and those who appear to confound you but you offer no evidence supported argument against the observations of mine that you did respond to.

          Best regards
          RO?

        • Grimlock

          Your vague claims to deistic beliefs

          My what now?

        • MR

          😉 Now, now, that was just meant as a jab to our previous theist interlocutor who accused us of following some imaginary atheist doctrine. Lord knows I’ve had my own disagreements with Team Atheism! =D

        • Grimlock

          Oh, I realized. I’ve interacted a bit with OM as well. Though to be honest, if I’ve understood him correctly, I think he makes a couple of interesting points. (I’m waiting to hear back to see if I’ve understood him correctly.)

        • Greg G.

          You will continue to sit at the end of the bench until you fully embrace the Atheist Canon.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Is that the Group W Bench?

        • Greg G.

          You can get anything you want.

        • rationalobservations?

          What “doctrine”?
          I offer evidence supported facts and invite contradiction from anyone who knows of contradictory evidence supported facts.
          I leave “doctrine” to religionists and fanatics…

        • Grimlock

          The talk of “doctrine” is a reference to the discussion that begins with the most recent comment in the comments section here: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2017/06/christians-need-atheist-speaker-next-conference/

          My understanding of OzarkMichael’s point is something like the following:

          Every community will adopt some ideas of opinions as acceptable, while others will be unacceptable. Online atheism, which I refer to as Atheism+ for convenience, is also such a community. People who participate in online discussions about religion, for instance, tend to adopt similiar stances on some subjects. For instance, Jesus Mythicism is an acceptable idea in most of these circles, while not an acceptable idea in, say, Christian communities.

          The collection of ideas of beliefs that are commonly held by atheists are what OzarkMichael refers to as the atheist “doctrine”.

          Note that this is my understanding of OM’s stance. At best, it’ll be approximately accurate. At worst, it’s a complete miss.

        • Otto

          Damn….I lost my copy…now where did that go?

        • rationalobservations?

          Remind me?

        • Greg G.

          You tend to focus on in hand evidence, especially extant manuscripts. I argued that the extant manuscripts imply earlier editions. I don’t think we should ignore the implied history that produced a manuscript.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          I think you’re generous on that, and give too much to those who claim such earlier versions…but then, I’m a curmudgeon 😉

        • rationalobservations?

          Ah yes. While I work on actual evidence you appear to give credence to assumption, presumption, supposition and guesswork that is devoid of actual tangible evidence.

          Evidence trumps assumption.

        • Greg G.

          Assuming you have an original manuscript from over 1500 years ago is also an assumption.

        • rationalobservations?

          Nope. Wrong again.
          The original Codex Sinaiticus exists and is conserved within the British Library. It has been published online in electronic facsimile since 2008.

          Sinaiticus is tangible evidence of the fraud at the origin of the 4th century founded Roman Jesus religion and the first 800 years of editing and amendment of the prototype bible that is very different from modern bibles.

        • The Codex Sinaiticus is a copy, not an original manuscript. Perhaps you and Greg are just passing each other by using different terms?

          the fraud at the origin of the 4th century founded Roman Jesus religion and the first 800 years of editing and amendment of the prototype bible that is very different from modern bibles.

          I’m curious to hear more about either fraud (as opposed to copying errors or different decisions about the canon) as well as the differences in this copy vs. either other copies or the accepted modern version.

        • rationalobservations?

          What evidence do you offer in support of your claim that: “The Codex Sinaiticus is a copy, not an original manuscript.”??
          No one has ever found an older bible and the two 4th century bibles (Sinaiticus and Vaticanus) differ in content from each other and are very different in content from modern bibles.

          There is no trace of a formal religion of “christianity” until the 4th century emperor Constantine decreed that his mothers messianic cult should become the state religion of the Roman Empire and that decree was brutally enforced.

          The history of the 4th century Roman religion (and from it – all the thousands of cults and sects of christianity the have evolved up to today) appears to indicate a religion that was cobbled together from many mostly pagan components and exclusively pagan feast days and festivals.

          There is no 1st century evidence of the existence of “Jesus” or any messianic cult following any person of that name or any authentic Hebrew name from which Greek scribes coined the word “Jesus” long long after the time in which the legends of Jesus are merely set.

          The utter, total and complete absence of historical evidence of the existence of “Jesus” or any messianic cult of “Jesus” from within the 1st century is a fact. Contradiction of that fact can only be achieved by the presentation of historical evidence of Jesus and a cult of Jesus – and none has ever been discovered.

          The claims of the existence of messiah claimants and messianic cults existing in the 1st and 2nd centuries are well supported by evidence. None of that evidence references “Jesus” or a messianic cult of “Jesus” even though 1600 years of christian propaganda has claimed all “messiahs” as being a reference to their apparently fictional messiah.

          If Sinaiticus is a copy – what evidence do you offer to confirm that assumption?
          If Sinaiticus is a copy – why is it so very different from later bibles and those in circulation today?
          If Sinaiticus is a copy – why does it contain evidence of at least another 800 years of alteration and amendment while still not resembling any later version?
          If Sinaiticus is a copy – why is there no reference anywhere to an older version or to texts, scrolls or papyri from which it was copied?

          I am open minded on this subject and willing to accept hard and tangible evidence that confirms an earlier incarnation of similar texts to the content bound withing Sinaiticus but my decades of research has revealed none of any significance and the recent re-dating of the tiny scraps of papyrus still claimed as dating from the 2nd and 3rd centuries is controversial. Even if the oldest papyrus (P52) was authored by anonymous scribes sometime around the mid 2nd century as claimed – it is a very tiny scrap no larger than a beer mat containing a few scrawled words that hardly justify or validate the content of Sinaiticus or any of thevery different bibles in circulation today.

          I am NOT making claims, Bob. I offer the evidence as I have discovered it but am open to alternative evidence that contradicts that which I present.
          All that I have ever had in reply is speculation, assumption, presumption, supposition and recycled christian propaganda.

          Although the Catholic Encyclopaedia from which my oft quoted sections originate has been effectively suppressed – the candid lines quoted are nonetheless telling:

          “Our documentary sources of knowledge about the origins of Christianity and its earliest development are chiefly the New Testament Scriptures, the authenticity of which we must, to a great extent, take for granted.”
          (Catholic Encyclopedia, Farley ed., vol. iii, p. 712)

          The Church makes extraordinary admissions about its New Testament. For example, when discussing the origin of those writings,

          “the most distinguished body of academic opinion ever assembled” (Catholic Encyclopedias, Preface) admits that the Gospels “do not go back to the first century of the Christian era”

          (Catholic Encyclopedia, Farley ed., vol. vi, p. 137, pp. 655-6).

          This statement conflicts with priesthood assertions that the earliest Gospels were progressively written during the decades following the death of the Gospel Jesus Christ.

          In a remarkable aside, the Church further admits that,

          “the earliest of the extant manuscripts [of the New Testament], it is true, do not date back beyond the middle of the fourth century AD”

          (Catholic Encyclopedia, op. cit., pp. 656-7).

          If anyone can present convincing tangible and authentic evidence that confirms the existence and exploits of “Jesus”, I would be fascinated to accept it and follow it up.

          I would remind those who doubt that – I am fully accepting of the evidence that Simon “christ” existed since he and his messianic cult are well documented and tangible evidence of the many coins struck in honour of Simon are to be found within public and private collections. I do not accept that Simon was a/the messiah of course and the Rabbinical circles in which he was acclaimed as such disavowed their claims when Simon was captured and/or slaughtered along with his followers after revolting against Rome.

          https://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=en&tbm=isch&source=hp&biw=1366&bih=625&ei=S7otXZiGMfiKjLsP76G2uAc&q=bar+kochba+coin&oq=Bar+Kochba&gs_l=img.1.0.0l4j0i5i30j0i30j0i5i30j0i10i24j0i24l2.4046.9198..12343…1.0..0.149.1375.3j9……0….1..gws-wiz-img…..0..35i39j0i10._NgJty4BTqE#imgrc=ztFJBPro3MWg-M:

          https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTPuoLWN6g0AZUXrsUK_oqnrrUe5D_TN5b-bVyhWdzkT3ow1Ivx

        • So you’re saying that the Codex Sinaiticus is the/an original? What about the fragments dated to before 350 CE? When do you say Paul lived, and when do you say he wrote his epistles?

          To answer your question, I am trying to follow the historians’ consensus.

          I’ve seen compelling arguments that the gospels were written in the second century, but even then that wouldn’t get you to the fourth century.

          “Our documentary sources of knowledge about the origins of Christianity and its earliest development are chiefly the New Testament Scriptures, the authenticity of which we must, to a great extent, take for granted.”
          (Catholic Encyclopedia, Farley ed., vol. iii, p. 712)

          What’s surprising here? They’re saying that the cobbled-together best effort at recreating the originals is doubtful. I certainly agree with that. That doesn’t get you to authorship in the 4th c.

        • rationalobservations?

          “So you’re saying that the Codex Sinaiticus is the/an original?”
          Yes and no. I am observing that Sinaiticus is the oldest existing (extant) book form (codex) bible and that it is very significantly different in content from bibles in circulation today. Those are the fundamental and unchallenged facts.
          Yes; Sinaiticus appears to be an original bible alongside the different in content but also 4th century originated Codex Vaticanus that is smaller in size and both significantly different from Sinaiticus and from bibles in circulation today.
          No; I make no claims about the origin of these oldest extant bibles but point to the fact that those who

          I have acknowledged the existence small and often semi-literate fragments of papyri that are claimed as being earlier prototype fragments of legends of “Jesus” but point out that some modern forensic scientists have questioned long standing non scientific christian’s claims about the date or origin of these fragments and also pointed to the oldest claimed fragment (Rylands P52) being claimed as mid 2nd century origination and that is hardly evidence of events claimed to have occured over 100 years earlier but of which not one single 1st century originated item of historical evidence exists or has even been referenced within actual 1st century texts.

          As for “Paul”?
          The facts are that there exist over 800 individual documents attributed to “Paul”. No two copies are completely identical.
          More than 85 percent of Greek manuscripts of the New Testament were produced in the eleventh century or later.
          No authentic and original 1st century originated texts attributed to Paul exist just as no authentic and original, 1st century originated text that references or mentions “Jesus” exists.

          Your quote from the Catholic Encyclopaedia is accurate but your comment is negated somewhat by the other quote from that original work of christian scholars
          :
          “…the earliest of the extant manuscripts [of the New Testament], it is true, do not date back beyond the middle of the fourth century AD”

          (Catholic Encyclopedia, op. cit., pp. 656-7).

          It appears (from some scraps of information that survived the 1600 year long “cleansing” of all documentation that contradicted or confused the original 4th century founded christian doctrine) that much was destroyed regarding other (not “Jesus”) messianic cults and messiahs (like Simon Christ – Simon bar Kochbah) while other references to what where probably other messiahs have been claimed to be references to the otherwise unreported “Jesus”. I try to avoid all such speculation however and prefer to stick to the known and evidence supported facts alone as who knows what fantasies may have existed alongside those that appear in what may well be the first prototype book form 4th century bibles and the very different bibles that followed?

          I make no claims Bob. I offer truthful evidence and ask questions like: “Fundamentalists, who believe every word in their version of Bible is true, must justify that claim based upon the actual extant evidence and reveal upon what they base their belief?”.
          There are never any coherent and evidence supported answers to these evidence based questions…

        • I am observing that Sinaiticus is the oldest existing (extant) book form (codex) bible and that it is very significantly different in content from bibles in circulation today. Those are the fundamental and unchallenged facts.

          How is it different?

          the oldest claimed fragment (Rylands P52) being claimed as mid 2nd century origination and that is hardly evidence of events claimed to have occured over 100 years earlier but of which not one single 1st century originated item of historical evidence exists or has even been referenced within actual 1st century texts.

          P46 is dated to 200 and has a number of New Testament books. It’s a lot more than just a fragment.

          No authentic and original 1st century originated texts attributed to Paul exist just as no authentic and original, 1st century originated text that references of mentions “Jesus” exists.

          And?

          Your quote from the Catholic Encyclopaedia

          That was your quote.

          I make no claims Bob.

          Aren’t you claiming something about Sinaiticus?

        • rationalobservations?

          How is it (Sinaiticus) different (from modern bibles)?
          Sinaiticus shows there have been thousands of alterations to today’s bible.
          Count Tischendorf listed 14,800 differences between Sinaiticus and the King James Bible, but I am not familiar with all he lists.

          From my own studies However:
          The order of content of Sinaiticus is different from later bibles and those in circulation today.
          There are two “extra” whole books within Sinaiticus that do not appear in later versions – The “Shepherd of Hermas” and, the “Epistle of Barnabas”.
          The Codex – and other early individual manuscripts from the 4th century – omit some mentions of ascension of Jesus into heaven, and key references to the Resurrection.
          Also totally missing is the story of the woman taken in adultery and about to be stoned – until Jesus rebuked the Pharisees (a Jewish sect), inviting anyone without sin to cast the first stone, also the last words attributed to “Jesus” on the cross do not appear in Sinaiticus

          There’s a pretty good list within the article linked to here:
          https://www.quora.com/The-oldest-version-of-the-Bible-is-the-Sinai-Bible-and-is-housed-in-the-British-Museum-There-are-14-800-differences-between-it-and-the-King-James-version-why

          Papyrus P46?
          “Because P46 was discovered outside of its archaeological context (it was purchased from antiquities dealers in Egypt), there is no external evidence to help date the codex. Instead, scholars date this, like so many other papyri, using palaeography, the study of writing style. Since handwriting styles change steadily over time, it is possible to give a papyrus a rough date (accurate to within 50 years) by comparing its handwriting to that of other papyri. Using this method, scholars date P46 to the third century AD.”
          _ https://www.lib.umich.edu/reading/Paul/perspective.html

          Aren’t you claiming something about Sinaiticus?
          No: I am reporting the fact that Sinaiticus appears to be the oldest bible and the fact that it is significantly different to modern bibles.

          I am not sure why you typed “And” after another of my statements of fact?

          Best regards, Bob.

        • Thanks for the information.

        • rationalobservations?
        • Greg G.

          We’ve been over this sh‌it before. Let’s let it go. I agree with you on many points.

        • rationalobservations?

          I am very interested in any evidence supported contradiction to my observations, Greg. Please elucidate if you know of such evidence?

          As for “$#1t”?? That’s a good description of the empty assertions of those who claim to know of tangible historical (non mythological) evidence of the existence and exploits of Jesus, but can never offer anything but assumption, presumption, supposition and recycled christian propaganda originating from the 4th century or later.

          Best wishes to you and yours and here’s hoping that you may surprise me with an actual evidence supported contradiction to my observations. That would be interesting indeed!

        • Greg G.

          What is your evidence that Codex Sinaiticus didn’t just appear out of thin air? Do you propose that the whole Codex Sinaiticus was written free hand without a first draft? If not, where is your evidence of those first drafts? Were the first drafts written by one person or several people? What is your evidence either way? If all the books were written in the same place by the same author(s), why it the Greek and the writing styles so different? Why does Mark have so many pericopae that show affinities to the works of Homer, Philo, and Jewish Wars but not much for Antiquities while Matthew shows affinities with the Epistle of James and Antiquities, Luke shows even more affinity to Antiquities, while Acts has even more affinity to Antiquities but John, not so much? Why is 2 Peter not 2 Jude given the similarities? Why do the Pastorals focus on the running of churches while the other epistles do not?

          When you look at the internal evidence of the text of the Codex Sinaiticus, it indicates that the books were written at different times, by different people, for different purposes, and using different sources. It shows that some books relied heavily on the text of other books, even taking some passages verbatim (with some grammar corrections even), some appear to have taken the stories but reworded them, some show that they were forged as the writing styles and vocabulary are different.

          The evidence is there. You haven’t taken the time to consider it.

        • rationalobservations?

          What is your evidence that things ever do “just appear out of thin air”, Greg?
          In the case of Sinaiticus it appears to have been cobbled together by the three main authors and their supervisor who’s distinctive handwriting style appears only infrequently within the first draft. The evidence that the original Codex was a first draft may be the evidence of a further 800 years or so of additions, deletions, amendments and interpolations that are clearly visible is you care to examine the facsimile copy that has been available for study online since 2008? Please be aware of the convebience of this publication as many of s who wished too inspect and/or study Sinaiticus needed to “jump though hoops” to gain limited access to what isnow freely available in its entirety.

          The translation work continues diligently

          I am glad that you concur with me that much evidence is contained within Sinaiaticus! Why do you get so hostile and argumentative when in such close agreement?

          http://www.ancientpages.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/oldestbiblelent3.jpg

        • Greg G.

          What is your evidence that things ever do “just appear out of thin air”, Greg?

          Snow, rain.

          The evidence that the original Codex was a first draft may be the evidence of a further 800 years or so of additions, deletions, amendments and interpolations that are clearly visible is you care to examine the facsimile copy that has been available for study online since 2008?

          That is not evidence that it is a first draft. It is evidence of additions, deletions, amendments, and interpolations that could have been made to the final draft of a hundred.

          From Comparison of codices Sinaiticus and Vaticanus https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_codices_Sinaiticus_and_Vaticanus

          According to Herman C. Hoskier,[2] there are, without counting errors of iotacism, 3,036 textual variations between Sinaiticus and Vaticanus in the text of the Gospels alone, enumerated as follows:

          Matthew: 656
          Mark: 567
          Luke: 791
          John: 1022

          According to contemporary scholars,[which?] these two manuscripts represent two different textual families of the Alexandrian text-type. John has more differences than the other gospels because in Codex Sinaiticus, John 1:1–8:38 and parts of chapters 16 and 21 have early Western Christian writing ancestry.[4]

          Footnote: Fee, G. D. (1968-9). Codex Sinaiticus in the Gospel of John, NTS 15, pp. 22-44.
          Popup on Footnote: Gordon Donald Fee is an American-Canadian Christian theologian and an ordained minister of the Assemblies of God (USA). He currently serves as Professor Emeritus of New Testament Studies at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

          Why do you get so hostile and argumentative when in such close agreement?

          I was frustrated because I said, “Let’s let it go” and you didn’t.

        • rationalobservations?

          Snow and rain and other forms of precipitation originate from water vapour known as clouds. That water vapour originates from evaporated surface water. I know of very little that actually appears out of thin air although the experiments and CERN get very close.
          Otherwise:
          Thank you for reinforcing and agreeing with my evidence of the vast differences between bibles and bible texts that began to appear in the 4th century from unknown origins.

        • Greg G.

          Snow and rain and other forms of precipitation originate from water vapour known as clouds. That water vapour originates from evaporated surface water. I know of very little that actually appears out of thin air although the experiments and CERN get very close.

          Air is mostly nitrogen, oxygen, argon, and varying amounts of water vapor. The next largest component is carbon dioxide at .04%. As the air temperature decreases, the carrying capacity for water diminishes. At higher elevations, the temperature decreases and the air thins out so rain, snow, and clouds, as you point out, appear right out of thin air. We can add dew and frost to the list, as well.

          I recall a scientist who received an igNobel Prize for his paper about a rare observation of Uncertainty. He was reading and drinking coffee at his kitchen table when his coffee cup vanished. A few hours later, he found it in the microwave. There is nothing that rules out that an atom or a molecule or a particle can appear elsewhere, even outside a potential well, as long as the distance and time between the observations do not exceed the speed of light. So there is nothing that rules out that every molecule in the coffee cup and every molecule of the coffee could end up in the microwave. There is nothing that rules out that each molecule could end up in the same relative position either. It is just that the probability of those things happening is vanishingly small of it happening anywhere in a universe this size in less than 15 billion years. So you can imagine how astounded the scientist was.

          Likewise, there is a non-zero chance that molecules of the Codex Sinaiticus could have moved from other places and just happened to come together at some location and fell to the floor or a field just by chance.

          It’s a very small chance but having humans then start correcting it would be inevitable.

        • Greg G.

          The proper response would be to list the first century evidence that doesn’t come from religious documents. The early epistles only refer to Jesus in OT terms and the gospels appear to attribute deeds to Jesus that come from other sources about other people. All the other traces of Jesus, including 1 Timothy and 2 Peter, appear to come from people who got information from the gospels or from the gospels themselves.

        • Yeah, that, or you could actually defend an argument instead of making an unsupported assertion. “Let me give you a couple of data points to show that Jesus was indeed historical” would be more helpful.

          Your MO seems to be to make a bold, semi-plausible argument with little evidence. When you’re called on it, you change the subject.

          Have you gotten this pushback before?

      • Greg G.

        The Trinitarians of Christianity use the Trinity concept as a fudge to make their polytheistic god thingies into one. But Christianity also posits supernatural demons and angels that are at least as powerful as the deities of polytheism, so they would have to meet the criteria of being gods, too. Christianity is polytheism playing word games. If you prefer monotheism to polytheism, you will have to abandon Christianity or find a new excuse to favor it.

    • eric

      Bob lives in the US. 75% of USAans are Christian. We argue against the locally dominant religion. If you want different examples, nonbeliever Sanal Edamaruku has argued effectively against Hinduism in India, while Ayaah Hirsi Ali is an example of a nonbeliever who grew up in an islamic culture and now argues against Islam.

  • eric

    I have a somewhat mixed opinion about the first one. While I’d probably agree with Bob’s definitions of evidence personally, i’m okay with someone else using a more liberal interpretation of “evidence” as long as they clearly communicate what it is. I see the problem here more of a “bait and switch” than a requirement for empiricism. I.e. I don’t want people misrepresenting their evidence as empirical when it isn’t, but I’m okay with someone claiming they have non-empirical evidence; I’m somewhat optimistic that an audience, in that case, is generally going to come to the right conclusion.

    So, an example. Let’s say someone has had a personal revelation of JoBu’s existence. The conversation might initially go like this:

    1 – “I have solid evidence of JoBu!”

    2 – “Oh yeah? What is it?”

    1 – “My personal revelation.”

    At this point, I think most atheists would respond 2 – “That’s not what we mean by evidence.” But I’d rather say; 2 – “As long as you rephrase that as ‘I have evidence of JoBu, and that evidence is a personal revelation of JoBu’s existence’, by all means feel free to advertise your claim.”

    Let the claim go out, as long as it’s clear what the person is claiming to have found.

    Here’s the reason I prefer my approach: a definition of “evidence” is a rabbit hole. There’s many legitimate philosophical arguments about what constitutes evidence, for what decisions, etc. Let’s not go down the rabbit hole. There is frankly no need: make sure the claim is clear, and you don’t need to get into some wild goose chase argument about the definition of evidence at all. You just make very clear to the audience what the claimant is asserting as evidence, and let the audience decide for themselves how much confidence to put in that claim.

    I think we’re all on the same page here. The issue is simply that your
    claim that everything had a cause must apply to God as well. By your
    logic, he must’ve had a creator.

    I think this argument is stronger in the negative form. i.e. If you claim there is some thing which does not need a cause, then by your logic, other things may not need a cause either.