How Much Faith to Be an Atheist? A Response to Geisler and Turek.

How Much Faith to Be an Atheist? A Response to Geisler and Turek. September 10, 2019

I’d like to respond to the Christian apologetics book I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist by Norm Geisler and Frank Turek. Though published in 2004, it continues to be popular (it’s #10 on Amazon’s Christian Apologetics list) and needs a rebuttal.

What does “faith” mean?

Let’s pause for a moment to consider the word “faith” in the title. Atheists will charge that it means belief poorly grounded in evidence or even in contradiction to the evidence. To rehabilitate their poor relationship with evidence, many Christian apologists today argue the opposite. For example, Christian podcaster Jim Wallace said it’s “trusting the best inference from the evidence.” Presbyterian leader A. A. Hodge said, “Faith must have adequate evidence, else it is mere superstition.”

But the very title of Geisler and Turek’s book admits the opposite. They “don’t have enough faith to be an atheist,” and faith has returned to our old, familiar definition: belief poorly grounded on evidence. In the Introduction, the authors make this clear: “The less evidence you have for your position, the more faith you need to believe it (and vice versa). Faith covers a gap in knowledge” (p. 26).

(I explore the ways Christians play games with the definition of “faith” here and critique faith as a way to know things here.)

Characteristics of atheists (it’s not pretty)

I’ll refer to the book as GT (Geisler and Turek). Page numbers refer to the 2004 Crossway paperback edition.

GT is certain that many or most atheists are really theists. Atheists already have enough evidence—they just willfully refuse to accept it.

[For many nonbelievers] it’s not that they don’t have evidence to believe, it’s that they don’t want to believe. (page 30)

Many non-Christians . . . take a “blind leap of faith” that their non-Christian beliefs are true simply because they want them to be true. (p. 30)

What we have here is a will problem—some people, despite the evidence, simply don’t want to admit there’s a Designer. (p. 112)

Someone who has sufficient evidence but refuses to accept it? What you’re describing is not an atheist.

He argues that even scientists have an agenda:

By admitting God, Darwinists would be admitting that they are not the highest authority when it comes to truth. Currently, in this technologically advanced world, scientists are viewed by the public as the revered authority figures—the new priests who make a better life possible and who comprise the sole source of objective truth. (p. 162)

(What I’m sure they mean is evolution, not Darwinism, but they insist on speaking childishly to those at the children’s table. The Vridar blog has a helpful summary of why “Darwinism” is incorrect.)

So biologists can’t admit that God exists, not because of evidence, but because they’d be forced give up their authority? Religion has never taught us anything new about reality. Even if all scientists became Christian, science rather than theology would still be how we’d understand the world.

GT drops a final turd as they wrestle with the evidence necessary to believe:

God has provided enough evidence in this life to convince anyone willing to believe, yet he has also left some ambiguity so as not to compel the unwilling. (p. 31)

But Romans 1:20 says there’s no ambiguity: “God’s invisible qualities . . . have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” You’d better confer with your Bible to get your story straight.

GT imagines that God plays games about evidence for his existence. Maybe God doesn’t want it too easy so that everyone gets it, and heaven gets crowded. Maybe he wants to keep out the riffraff so heaven remains an exclusive gated community.

This becomes the free-will argument: God won’t force you to believe, because that would be an imposition. This means that being forced to accept the existence of the stranger on the street is not an imposition, but being forced to know the existence of the coolest guy in the universe would be a burden, so it’d be unfair to impose that on you. Or something.

GT provides no evidence but simply makes a sweeping claim, a claim that could be made by any believer. He could just as easily say that Allah or Zeus or the Flying Spaghetti Monster has given you plenty of evidence, so don’t tell me otherwise.

Hedonism

But why would atheists reject clear evidence for God? GT has uncovered the selfish reasons:

By ruling out the supernatural, Darwinists can avoid the possibility that anything is morally prohibited. (p. 163)

So atheists are just hedonists with no concern about the consequences of their actions?

If the atheists are right, then we might as well lie, cheat, and steal to get what we want because this life is all there is, and there are no consequences in eternity. (p. 68)

Wow—what planet are these guys from? How many atheists think that it’s fine to lie, cheat, and steal? Are the prisons filled with atheists? Do atheists not answer to the rest of society, let alone their family and friends? Do atheists not have consciences?

Since you’ll agree, after a moment’s reflection, that atheists are indeed moral, maybe you should drop the “atheists have no morals” claim and wonder where they get their morals from. I predict it’s the same place where you do.

Atheism does indeed mean that “there are no consequence in eternity,” but (dang it!) there are consequences right here and now, which is just one of the reasons I don’t murder people.

[Instead of teaching Islam] wouldn’t it be better to teach [kids] the religious truth that God wants them to love their neighbors? (p. 68)

GT is probably thinking of verses like Leviticus 19:18, “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself,” but “neighbor” meant fellow Jew in this case. In a few cases, neighborly affection was demanded for non-Jews living in Israel. But we can’t twist either interpretation to mean everyone in the world, which is the modern interpretation that GT would like to impose.

When it comes to non-Jewish neighbors, God thinks of slavery or genocide more often than love.

GT talks about biology a lot (more later), but here is the connection between what atheists think and morality.

By means of a one-sided biology curriculum, we teach kids that there’s really no difference between any human being and a pig. After all, if we’re merely the product of blind naturalistic forces—if no deity created us with any special significance—then we are nothing more than pigs with big brains. (p. 68)

Being scientifically accurate is such a pain. Who’s got time for the research? But since you won’t do it, I will: pigs and humans share a common ancestor from 94 million years ago. No, we’re not descended from pigs, and humans aren’t pigs with big brains.

If the clumsily made point is that evolution explains everything with no need for a designer to grant some sort of transcendental moral value, then yes, that’s true. Humans are no more special in a nonexistent god’s mind than pigs are.

I see no problem with that. Morality works just fine with no god—look up the word and tell me what part assumes a god. (But while we’re going off on tangents, I do see a problem with your moral equivalence between a single fertilized human egg cell and a newborn baby. In fact, there’s a spectrum of personhood.)

And presumably “one-sided biology curriculum” is their cute way of saying “rule that says that you need to teach science (and just science) in the science classroom.” Creationism isn’t science—deal with it.

Frank Turek’s next train wreck

I’ll be following up with more posts rebutting the statements in this book, but let me touch on another of Frank Turek’s books, Stealing from God. It’s an expanded version of his CRIMES argument, an acronym for Cosmos, Reason, Information, Morality, Evil, and Science. He attempts to argue that these categories are strong evidence for the Christian position. I’ve got a lot to say in response.

Continued in part 2.

People almost invariably arrive at their beliefs not on the basis of proof
but on the basis of what they find attractive.
— Blaise Pascal
(this was actually quoted by GT on p. 51)

.

(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 8/25/15.)

Image from imgur

.


Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!


TRENDING AT PATHEOS Nonreligious
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • [For many nonbelievers] it’s not that they don’t have evidence to believe, it’s that(page 30)

    God has provided enough evidence in this life to convince anyone willing to believe, yet he has also left some ambiguity so as not to compel the unwilling. (p. 31)

    Belief is not a matter of will. I can no more will myself to accept Christianity than I can will myself to believe that my cell phone is a tasty banana, and eating it will give me powers like Superman.Such things just don’t align with the available evidence, and on probability both of these propositions are much more likely to be false than they are to be true.

    Of course, most believers probably do regard belief as something they can will themselves into, so this probably resonates with them, even if it’s nonsense.

    • Castilliano

      Right, but your thinking differs from theirs.

      You likely have standards based on accuracy, calculated possibility, and the supporting evidence. If you’re like me, you prefer multiple sources of evidence and strive to remove biases. You’re likely comfortable with “I don’t know” and other unknowns, even on tougher topics.

      Theists, as seen in their apologetics, often shoot for plausibility and preference. They use subjective measures of “sense” (which arise from culture & experience) as evidence and make blatant emotional appeals. And as flawed & biased as that is, it persuades.

      And I think this is where the choice occurs. Do I use this system which appeals to my wants & fears and keeps me secure within my community? Or do I use that system of “Darwinists” and “Communist, Nihilist Atheists” which if not bad enough due to them is even worse for arriving at conclusions that disagree with the authorities in my life?
      From their POV our “choice” baffles them.

      Notice how many arguments end at asserting their worldview. When you ask for evidence, you often get analogies, which are not evidence, only a retelling of assertions. And also look at how many arguments break down to which authorities you trust. They’re operating with a different system. This is why education focused on rigorous methodology threatens them. Remember how Texas banned critical thinking courses? Because of all this I think Street Epistemology is a godsend :-), it focuses on the root issue of the methods rather than the sources & conclusions. It’s amazing how many theists begin those conversations with 100% certainty. That indicates in-group signaling to me more than any epistemological rigor.

      Note: I have met many exceptions among theists. I suspect community bonds keep them beholden to the illusion. But among the conservative leaders & apologists, this flawed thinking appears commonplace. A few studies have also showed dogmatic thinking correlates with poorer reasoning skills. I’m a bit fuzzy, but I think the most recent a month or so ago showed causation too.

      • TheNuszAbides

        It’s amazing how many theists begin those conversations with 100% certainty. That indicates in-group signaling to me more than any epistemological rigor

        ^^^^ this this this this! ^^^^

        Which of course is scarcely if ever examined by the target audience, eager to lap up apologists’ delusion-reinforcing winks to the contrary.

    • most believers probably do regard belief as something they can will themselves into, so this probably resonates with them, even if it’s nonsense.

      When you have the superpower of changing the definition, all things are possible.

  • epeeist

    If the atheists are right, then we might as well lie, cheat, and steal to get what we want because this life is all there is

    So what he is saying is that it is only the belief in his god that stops him lying, cheating and stealing.

    Presumably this is someone who is part of the religious-right, you know the ones who support that lying, cheating thief Donald Trump.

    • Michael Neville

      We’d also better hope that GT remain theists or else they’ll become serial rapist-murderers.

      • epeeist

        You make my point better than me…

    • Doubting Thomas

      It’s odd how often theist bring up the argument from morality when all it does is give them a chance to show what huge assholes they would be if they didn’t feel someone was watching them 24/7. It’s neither convincing nor particularly flattering.

      • Ignorant Amos

        What really is odd, and fascinates me no end, is that even though they believe Big Brother is watching them 24/7 and even knows what they are thinking at any given moment…and they think they are liable for a red hot poker up the arse for all eternity if they digress in any way from the rules, they all still go ahead and do/think nefarious shite anyway.

        It’s like the chosen ones in the story of the Exodus. Wondering about the desert repeatingly pissing off the god that is supposed to have manifest itself in all those ways we read in the bloody nonsense. WTF? Questioning the authority of the entity that visited the 10 plagues on Egypt, just for starters? And the Bozo’s want us to take this balderdash seriously? Give me strength ffs. Such idiocy.

        • Doubting Thomas

          But they’ve got the “Get Out of Jail” card. They can do anything they want and as long as they tell their imaginary friend that they’re sorry. Then all is forgiven and they get to go to Sky Disney. Anything, that is, except blaspheme the Holy Spirit. Whatever that means.

          If you think Exodus is bad, you should try the Book of Mormon. Nephi’s brothers try to kill him about a dozen times and god intercedes each time to save him. How hard headed do you have to be to not figure out that your murder plans aren’t going to go as hoped? I’m guessing the “burning in the bosom” that Mormons speak of when reading the BoM is just the unconscience desire to be reading something less painfully dumb.

      • TheNuszAbides

        Well said. Like they’re institutionalized by authoritarian special pleading.

  • zenmite

    God has provided enough evidence in this life to convince anyone willing to believe, yet he has also left some ambiguity so as not to compel the unwilling.

    Yeah….you can’t make it too unambiguous….like calling down fire from heaven or causing the sun to stand still in the sky or bringing some dead guy back to life (Lazarus). That would take all of the fun out of it! God can’t make it so obvious that everyone would believe. Then who would go to hell?

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      I’ve said it elsewhere: If God is omniscient, then he knows darn well that I am not willing to believe given the evidence provided. Moreover, he knows what it would take to get me to believe, and, being omnipotent, has the ability to provide it.

      The fact that I don’t believe is his problem, not mine. That he hasn’t provided enough to “convince” me tells me either he can’t do it, doesn’t want to, or, alternatively, doesn’t exist. Regardless of which it is, I really don’t care. I’m not going to bother worrying about it.

    • Jim Jones

      Even the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey would be something.

  • The Bofa on the Sofa

    Many non-Christians . . . take a “blind leap of faith” that their non-Christian beliefs are true simply because they want them to be true.

    That’s rich, considering that the bible itself describes faith as “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)

  • Lex Lata

    1. “GT is certain that many or most atheists are really theists. Atheists already have enough evidence—they just willfully refuse to accept it.”

    Few things are as insulting as someone telling me what I think, and why I think it. Many of us became atheists because of our affinity for reason and evidence, and despite our upbringing and wishes, sometimes at significant personal or social cost.

    Plus, mind-reading is sorcery. Report to your local Witchfinder General, gentlemen.

    2. “God has provided enough evidence in this life to convince anyone willing to believe, yet he has also left some ambiguity so as not to compel the unwilling.”

    Yet the Bible describes plenty of direct, unambiguous evidence to justify belief in the form of countless miracles, angelic visitations, etc. Given GT’s logic, it would seem that JC, the Apostles, Moses, Elijah, and other figures who performed various signs and wonders unduly “compelled” belief among myriad first-hand witnesses in antiquity.

    3. “If the atheists are right, then we might as well lie, cheat, and steal to get what we want because this life is all there is, and there are no consequences in eternity.”

    In GT’s partial defense, this has been Christianity’s party line for centuries, of course, so there’s no surprise in seeing it trotted out once again. Yet the data simply don’t bear the thesis out. Modern social research shows that, all other factors being controlled for, believers and non-believers alike engage in roughly the same levels of pro-social and anti-social behaviors. If GT is right that we decide to be atheists because of the appeal of hedonism and immorality, it would seem we’re astonishingly bad at the follow-through.

    https://skepticalinquirer.org/2014/07/would_the_world_be_better_off_without_religion_a_skeptics_guide_to_the_deba/

    • NS Alito

      After all of these years, I’m finally feeling the freedom that atheism gives me! I think I’ll go torture people on the rack or burn them at the stake! What the heck, I’ll even travel to Antioch to slaughter Saracens….

      • Greg G.

        What the heck, I’ll even travel to Antioch to slaughter Saracens….

        Once, I’ve mustered the Franks, I’ll try to catch up. (It’s an oldie but the statute of limitations have expired since I last used it.)

        • TheBookOfDavid

          Mmm…mustard the franks! On second thought, make me one with everything.

        • MR

          Hoo boy, I don’t relish the thought of the pun run that’s sure to follow. Let_us be reasonable or I may_open a complaint.

        • TheNuszAbides

          That’s a wrap!

        • Greg G.

          I remember the thyme Vienna saw sage.

    • Michael Neville

      God has provided enough evidence in this life to convince anyone willing to believe

      So if you’re willing to believe then you’ll believe. That’s called confirmation bias.

    • TheNuszAbides

      figures who performed various signs and wonders unduly “compelled” belief among myriad first-hand witnesses

      When they’re talking about scriptural wonders, it’s a cue to PTL!

      When they’re talking about our mollycoddled, just-so fodder “free will”, it’s a cue to PTL!

      Talking about both at the same time simply can’t be A Thing.

  • epicurus

    If God’s worried about heaven getting too crowded he should have ended the show back in the mid late 1st century- you know- when Jesus said it was going to end before those with him would pass away.

    • “The Bible is the literal word of God.”

      “But Jesus said he would come back before the 12 Apostles died.”

      “That’s a metaphor!”

      (Those Christians who don’t claim to be literalists may ignore this conversation.)

      • Greg G.

        (For Christians left out of the above conversation.)

        “Have you accepted the Ground of All Being as your personal Lord and Savior?”

        • Michael Neville

          I will admit that I yell “Jesus Christ” if I hit my finger with a hammer. It’s shorter than “random fluctuations of the space-time continuum”.

        • Kuno

          I understood that reference.

        • TheNuszAbides

          Same here, though I usually include the lost-to-scripture ‘middle’ name, Fucking. (still shorter than the scientifically-accurate exclamation)

  • Greg G.

    Warning! Before reading the quotes from the Geisler and Turek book, put your irony meter in a Faraday cage inside an explosion proof enclosure.

    • NS Alito

      That reminds me of my brief membership in an atheist terrorist cell. We were planning on hiding an irony meter in a preacher’s pulpit but were overwhelmed by the thought of the damage it would do.

    • Otto

      Alternate title.

      We Project! And you can too!

  • Polytropos

    This claim that being an atheist requires faith is just a version of the moral levelling logical fallacy. People who say this want us to believe atheism is equivalent to their own faith based worldview, and therefore no more likely to be correct. From there it’s an easy step to saying we’re all looking at the same evidence, but us evil hedonistic atheists don’t want to believe it. That’s not how atheism works, and Geisler and Turek know it, but it’s too dangerous for them to admit. Admitting that the supposed evidence for god is not entirely compelling tends to lead to deconversion.

    The fear of science is very revealing. Geisler and Turek seem to think religion loses its authority if we accept natural, scientific phenomena, and I agree. Science teaches us we don’t have to accept something as fact just because some goat herder from the Bronze Age thought it was a fact.

    • The fear of science is very revealing. Geisler and Turek seem to think
      religion loses its authority if we accept natural, scientific phenomena,

      Having listened to much of Turek’s apologetics, it seems to me that he is very happy to appeal to science if it helps his case. Turek loves to point to the Big Bang as if it is somehow conclusive proof that the Universe “began to exist” (science hasn’t come to that conclusion yet), and assert that God is the cause.

      On the other hand, when it comes to something like the Theory of Evolution (ToE), he’s very quick to dismiss it in favor of Intelligent Design pseudoscience, and give his little “from the goo to you via the zoo” quip, which only demonstrates his (or his general audience’s) ignorance.

      Whenever I watch Turek, it has struck me that he’s simply an opportunist, and that he’d take just anything if he thought he could use it to make a reasonable sounding argument for his religious beliefs, science or not.

      • TheNuszAbides

        happy to appeal to science if it helps his case

        I hadn’t heard of Turek until I was reviewing YouTube collections of debates (mostly involving C.Hitchens; this was about 10 yrs ago), and for nearly an entire minute, I thought he was a breath of fresh air – opening statement bringing up compelling scientific discoveries or something. Of course it was just a con.

  • Kev Green

    Let’s ignore the atheists. Presumably all Christians are willing to believe. But, God has provided insufficient evidence to determine which branch of Christianity is true. No matter which denomination that turns out to be, there will still be some who honestly want to worship the right God but still won’t make the final cut. The problem gets worse when you include Muslims, Hindi, etc. Sure, maybe I’m an amoral creep who just doesn’t want to worship God, but it’s ludicrous to think that the majority of the world’s population is worshipping the wrong version of God by choice. Clearly God doesn’t provide sufficient evidence to the willing.

    But, I have a larger problem with the whole ‘God wants us to believe in Him based on faith’ claim. Apparently to get into Heaven you have to be arrogant enough to assume you chose the right God, and lucky enough to be right. Faith doesn’t lead to the truth, it’s leads to whatever answer you want. Without any sort of objective evidence guiding your decision you don’t have faith in God, you merely have faith in how special you are.

  • Sarah Z

    If you’re looking for a nonreligious Christmas group come join us!!
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/892748071083464/

    • Jim Jones

      Wot?

    • Michael Murray

      I always thought the Chris in Christmas was short for Christopher Hitchens ?

      • Michael Neville

        Silly you. It was named after Christopher Columbus.

  • mrvball72

    The “You have faith just like we do” argument always confuses me. I thought faith was supposed to be a good thing (according to Christians) and now you’re trying to use it as a pejorative to bring me down to your level? What?

    It reminds me of sports fans chanting “overrated!” after beating a supposedly good team. So you’re saying your team just beat an overrated team? Sure, take some pride in that.

    • I Came To Bring The Paine

      Apologist: “You have faith just like we do.”

      Me: “Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

      Apologist: “…”

      • TheBookOfDavid

        It’s a dubious honor, but as long as GT insists on implying that we are more virtuous than they are, I’ll try to accept their flattery with grace.

    • Otto

      Much like the atheism is a religion attempted insult.

      Makes no sense using the term as a dig.

      • TheNuszAbides

        No sense if it’s someone who identifies as religious; barely stupid sense if it’s one of the Rarefied Hardcore Pedantic Agnostics who’s ~so above the fray~ …

  • NS Alito

    By admitting God, Darwinists would be admitting that they are not the highest authority when it comes to truth.

    Wrong. Wrong. Wrongity-wrong-wrong-wrong.
    Scientists think that reality is the highest authority when it comes to truth.

    The great tragedy of Science: The slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact.
     —Thomas Henry Huxley

    The “paradox” is only a conflict between reality and your feeling of what reality “ought to be.”
     —Richard Feynman

    For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.
     —Carl Sagan

    • Jim Jones

      The real title should be, “I don’t have enough brains to be an atheist.”

      • NS Alito

        Watch out, now. A lot of stupid people are actually nice and caring.

        • Jim Jones

          But very few ‘evangelicals’.

        • Ann Kah

          Not-so-super-smart atheists are those who at least know what they don’t know. They don’t have to conclude their ignorance with “…therefore god”.

        • Rudy R

          Just like Occam’s razor, the proposition with the least amount of unfalsifiable claims is the right one.

        • epeeist

          is the right one.

          A possible small quibble, I would say “best one” rather than “right one”.

        • Rudy R

          Duly noted.

        • Ignorant Amos

          And am the epitome of that comment. Hence ma moniker.

          This is why super-smart-theist seems so oxymoronic to me, and the idea has me befuddled. Which is why The God Virus made so much sense in reading it.

        • Phil Rimmer

          Exactly so. In an increasingly secular UK I think we see the irreligious have a quite ordinary spectrum of IQs.

          But…

          … in a highly indoctrinating environment like Afghanistan or Alabama, it may indeed take brain-power to catch those glimpses of truth that have accidentally got through. Truman, of the Truman Show, needed smarts to notice his world was supervised by the gods….

          Though smart phones may be co-opted for brain sedating indoctrination truths will always slip through.

      • Phil Rimmer

        In this day and age of near maximal information and informational analysis availability, Dunning Kruger excuses for being wrong are less available to we neurally underprivileged. We don’t need much nous to understand when knowledge works, is widely useful and productive, though the how may elude us. Nor do we need too much brain to see the fatuity of the conspiracy of scientists nonsense.

        None of this is about brains (though its consequences often lead to poor education). It is about an infectious idea “intelligently” honed by exploiters for their panic stricken victims to pacify and sedate them.

    • TheBookOfDavid

      The projectionist needs to adjust their focus. Geisler and Turek are only shining a spotlight on their own insecurity at this point. Religion used to hold a monopoly on The Truth. It must be frightening to realize that people won’t defer to their judgement without good reason anymore, and that they might have to put in an honest day’s work to hold onto a market share of authority and prestige. Their admission sends a cold thrill through my blackened godless heart.

  • JustAnotherAtheist2

    Turek is an uninformed, dishonest, arrogant asshat. He is the lowest of the low even in a field as useless and nonsensical as apologetics.

    • Greg G.

      You are pointing out his best qualities.

      • TheNuszAbides

        I knew he was from The Upside-down!

  • Michael Neville

    I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist

    Okay, Geisler and Turek, how much faith is required to be an atheist? First explain how the standard unit of faith (let’s call it the lewis) is measured. Then describe how many kilolewis would be needed to reach a minimum level of atheism. Please be specific and rigorous.

    • NS Alito

      Hey, wait! No one told me there’d be math on the test!

      • Michael Neville

        “Mathematics is the language of science.” –Some well-known scientist or maybe a mathematician

    • Maltnothops

      The plural of kilolewis should be pronounced kill-oh-louies.

  • Jim Jones

    Ordinary faith is expectation based on experience.

    Religious faith is wishful thinking.

  • Geisler and Turek write a book inappropriately titled “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist”, demonstrating that they don’t understand the atheist position. I’ve long wanted to write a book titled “To Frank Turek – I Still Don’t Have Enough Credulity to Be a Christian” as a response book to much of the nonsense of Christian apologetics. Maybe one day I’ll get enough usable material that it will be worth writing a book.

  • TheBookOfDavid

    Faith must have adequate evidence, else it is mere superstition.

    Better recheck the Doomsday Clock. I think I just agreed with a Christian apologist.

    • Michael Neville

      However keep in mind the famous definition of faith from the Epistle to the Hebrews:

      Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Heb 11:1 (NIV)

      This says that evidence is not necessary for faith, just confidence in wishful thinking is sufficient.

      • TheBookOfDavid

        If they had anything more substantial to back up their claims, they wouldn’t need to redefine lack of evidence as some kind of smoking gun. It’s not my fault that they have such abysmally low standards.

        • Ignorant Amos

          It’s not my fault that they have such abysmally low standards.

          But only for themselves, are the standards so abysmally low.

          And when fudgery is necessary as new advances are made, they are not one bit embarrassed about on the making-stuff-up-to-fit front.

    • JustAnotherAtheist2

      So what is his definition of “faith” then? How does a belief formed based on evidence differ from one formed via evidence + faith?

      • TheBookOfDavid

        The epistle to the Hebrews equivocates faith and evidence. Mr Hodge differentiates them. The apologetics site that quotes Hodge sums up faith as “taking God at His word“, which undermines GT’s premise of atheist faith. There is no common use definition among them. Ask any three Christians, and you’ll get four mutually contradictory results.

        • My take on Hebrews is that faith is a substitute for substance and evidence. It says faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen, but I don’t think the writer is actually equivocating those things. Rather, they’re saying that faith allows one to believe when there is no substance or evidence.

          Edit: Looks like this has already been addressed.

    • Maltnothops

      A blogger in the Evangelical channel (“Christian Crier”) attempts to drawn a distinction between blind faith and ‘know-so” faith. Of course, he does so by simply asserting that there is a difference. I guess people are supposed to accept know-so faith on the basis of blind faith.

  • JustAnotherAtheist2

    Jim Wallace said it’s “trusting the best inference from the evidence.”

    Yes, but what Wallace really means is “retaining a view that once seemed reasonable when you encounter new data that suggests otherwise.”

    No matter how theists try to avoid it, “faith” necessarily entails insufficiency. Hell, even their gotcha examples of atheist “faith” bear this out. It’s only when it becomes inconvenient that suddenly faith stands on firmer ground.

    • After a number of years as a non-believer I finally realized that I never truly had faith. I was raised in a culture (and family) where the religion was assumed to be true. And with apologetic teaching, the idea that this was reasonable — evidence based — was impressed upon me.

      The definition of “faith” in Hebrews 11 (actually referring to believing that Heaven awaits, but applicable elsewhere) is as a substitute for substance and evidence. (It says it’s “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”) Faith only comes in to play when a person begins to realize that the evidence they thought they had is unreasonable.

      As you suggest, they’re actually talking about faith as if it’s insufficient — a bad thing!

  • Also, for the record, pigs are highly intelligent creatures who are more than capable of empathy and reason, and who have complex social structures and recognize differences between groups – they know what are and are not pigs.

    • Michael Murray

      Presumably they don’t pass the mirror spot test ?

      • Uncertain. They have been shown to understand what a mirror image represents (Animal Behaviour, Volume 78, Issue 5, November 2009, Pages 1037-1041) and have passed the “food bowl” test (setting a mirror at a right angle to a barrier with food behind it, the pig is able to recognize after a short few seconds that the food isn’t behind the mirror, but around the side of the barrier. Training took a few hours.)

        But it’s hard to tell because sometimes the mirror test could be passed by sheer luck or some other environmental information such as smell – and pigs have an incredible sense of smell.

        ETA: Also it’s not certain if they’re aware the pig in the mirror is themselves or another pig. They do know that the mirror reflects the world around them.

        • Michael Murray

          Interesting. Thanks.

    • Maltnothops

      And their reproductive success after they’ve gone feral is most impressive. They may well outlast humans.

  • When I was considering leaving Christianity, I felt that I should read some apologetics books (in part just so people couldn’t say “You should have done that first” – I was pretty sure I would end up quitting). I had I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist as a free audio-book, so I decided to give it a listen, and it was without doubt the worst apologetics book I encountered. A major persuasive method used was to keep repeating the same simplistic slogans over and over again (for example, pretty sure it had “from goo to you via the zoo”, which rhymes but has no other merit). Strangely, after not being persuaded by the first instance I wasn’t persuaded by subsequent ones, and a couple of times listening to it while driving reduced me to shouting at it, particularly when it started talking about morality.

    • Ignorant Amos

      I’m just finishing “Resurrection: Faith or Fact?”. It is set out with the contributors giving a bio chapter of their position religiously speaking and their relevant credentials.

      Then there is a bit of debate between the two main antagonists on the argument against and for the Resurrection, Prof. Carl Stecher kicks it off, then Prof. Craig Blomberg lays out his stall. Some counter arguments ensue. The book ends with assessments of the two arguments from Richard Carrier and Peter S. Williams.

      My point in citing this recent read, is to empathise with the frustration of having to read, in your case listen, to so much obvious fuckwittery from the Christer apologetics side of the debate. Shouting at the book for so much asininity, while ridiculous, is a means to vent. But one has to read the both sides of the discussion in order to be informed of the opposing positions.

      How these apologists managed to attain credentials with such mind numbing thinking, completely baffles me.

      • Rudy R

        Carrier annihilated both the apologetic’s responses and it has become quite clear that apologetics is a failure in defending against objections from non-Christians.

        • Ignorant Amos

          He did indeed. But I already knew that, from his previous writings.

        • eric

          it has become quite clear that apologetics is a failure in defending against objections from non-Christians

          IMO that may be the stated use, but it’s not the real intent.

      • I haven’t read much apologetics recently, because I’ve found when I do I’ve usually come across all the arguments already, and I’m less patient after I’ve seen it 10 or 20 times. But I do know that some of the apologetics books I read and found unconvincing were books that I’d enjoyed and agreed with 5 or 10 years before. So long as you’re selling it to the right audience I guess it goes OK…

    • eric

      …it was without doubt the worst apologetics book I encountered.
      A major persuasive method used was to keep repeating the same simplistic slogans over and over again

      Ah, but you weren’t really the target audience. Despite what they may claim, these books really aren’t intended for either nonbelievers or even questioning believers. They’re for the fervent, to support the conclusions they’ve already reached. They’re more of a “feel good” type book than a real argument type book.

      • Ignorant Amos

        In that case, apologetics is probably the wrong descriptor. Confirmation bias would be more accurate.

        • eric

          Calling it “apologetics” is part of the sell. It implies to believers they’re buying a book they can use for ammo against nonbelievers. This is (for some reason) popular – even with believers who don’t really ever intend to have such debates. Maybe it makes them feel more educated…who knows.

          Anyway, it’s kind of like clickbait. You want to sell more books, make the title a cliffhanger that makes people feel edgy and cool to read.

        • Ignorant Amos

          It implies to believers they’re buying a book they can use for ammo against nonbelievers.

          It must come as a bit of a shock to them when they load up with said ammo and get into it with a knowledgeable atheist, only to find out they are firing blanks and have been ripped off by the snake oil peddlers.

    • JustAnotherAtheist2

      Yes, silly word games and condescension are all Turek has in his arsenal. He particularly loves equivocation, with a go-to favorite being, “is it absolutely true that no absolute truth exists?”

      The ploy here is immediately transparent once you use less superficially similar labels to express the concepts.

      Is it accurate to say that there are no platonic truths that continue to exist in the absence of an underlying proposition or a mind to consider them?

      It’s genuinely disheartening that anyone buys his bullshit.

      • Maltnothops

        Turek spoke at a local college a decade or so ago. In an attempt to gin up interest, he or one of his disciples make what were supposed to be provocative comments in a local chat room. I engaged for a few rounds but their attempts to be provocative were so lame that I quickly lost interest. I hadn’t heard of Turek at that point and had no interest in hearing anything more.

    • Maltnothops

      I’ve heard that the book skips over any explanation for why Christianity is correct alternative to atheism instead of any other religion.

      • It’s been a few years, but if I remember correctly it has some things about Christianity specifically (it probably has a bit about the resurrection and why the gospels should be considered reliable, and I think it also has something about the places in Acts being historically accurate). But yes, many of the points are probably arguing for the existence of a generic designer god, not for the god of the Bible.

  • Rudy R

    [For many nonbelievers] it’s not that they don’t have evidence to believe, it’s that they don’t want to believe. (page 30)

    This line of thought works against the theist as well . [For many believers] it’s not that they don’t have evidence to disbelieve, it’s that they don’t want to disbelieve.

    • zenmite

      This psychological approach to explaining our opponents views is very old and common. But it can cut both ways. GT claims that atheists disbelieve because atheists do not want to submit or bow down to a higher authority, which is why they assert that atheists are arrogant. Or perhaps atheists had a bad relationship with their earthly father…which is why they dislike the idea of a heavenly father. There’s the idea that we don’t believe in god because we don’t want to be held accountable so that we can freely ‘sin’ without fear of eternal consequences.

      Atheists often counter with; You just want to believe in god because you are fearful of death. Or, you believe in god despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary because you fear that your life would lack meaning and purpose without the cosmic drama of the religious worldview. Or you just believe in god because your parents or some authority figure or even the culture surrounding you have inculcated such belief in you.

      If these are a wash, with both sides giving psychological explanations for their opponents beliefs or lack thereof…then we might ask which psychological reason is the more powerful or likely? Which is more psychologically compelling?….Not wanting to admit that there is a divine power greater than ourselves or the fear that our lives will be depressing and meaningless without belief in a god? Which is more powerful…the belief that no god exists means that I can choose to rape, murder and pillage with impunity or the discarding or questioning of a belief that tells me I will never die but will live forever in perfect bliss for all eternity?

      • Lark62

        Last I heard, Jerry Falwell Jr still professes a belief in god.

        Obviously, “wanting to sin” does not necessitate disbelief in a deity.

        In fact, individual catholic priests raped dozens of children over decades while remaining christians. Catholic bishops have protected and facilitated child rape while remaining christians. Baptist preachers, Mormon bishops and every variety and flavor of christian cheat, lie, divorce, murder and partake in an endless variety of consensual and nonconsenual sex all without rejecting any deity.

        Belief in a deity is not even a worn down speed bump to a christian in the pursuit of sin. Those that “just want to sin” stay Christian where forgiveness is cheap.

        • Ah, the satanists blog. you are doing one of the most popular mortal sins: despair. sodomy excommunicates you Latae Sententiae, so do any sin that cries to Heaven for vengeance like blasphemy (your favorite, you even do it right here).

          you are projecting your guilt upon the innocent in the hopes they are damned in your place.

          you remind me of a Chesterton quote. evil men insist that the Church is wrong because men sin, and that because men sin then everything is meaningless and so you should be permitted to do any evil. When in fact the opposite is true, because not only does sin prove the Church by making Her necessary, it makes useful all the means the Church has to combat sin.

      • Rudy R

        This always bares repeating. “I do rape all I want. And the amount I want is zero. And I do murder all I want, and the amount I want is zero.” — Penn Jillette

      • Otto

        That’s a pretty big false dichotomy you have there…

        • zenmite

          I was simply pointing out that if we stacked up the possible psychological motives for christian belief beside what they claim are motives for non-belief, the Christian motive seems much stronger. For most people, the fear of death is greater than not wanting to admit a cosmic authority figure exists so that we can sin freely. When this sort of argument rears it’s head with Christians, I usually just point out the following:… as in: “You just reject Allah and his prophet because you don’t want to pray 5 times a day toward Mecca and like to eat pork.” You just reject Hanuman, the Hindu monkey god because you are too prideful to worship our simian lord.” “You choose not to believe in Buddhism because you just want to eat meat and are too lazy to meditate.”

        • I agree with you. I know that when some people start to doubt their religion, they double down on apologetics. My wife has actually said to me that she doesn’t want to not believe.

          And although most ex-believers, I think, came to disbelief because they simply realized what they’d been taught their entire lives wasn’t true, it’s not uncommon for people to finally “come out” as nonbelievers at the point when they really don’t want to live with Christian rules any more. And maybe that’s not their motivation, but rather, once they realize that the religion is bogus they also realize that they don’t have to follow whatever rule they’ve been unhappy with for a long time. It would appear to those who remain, then, that they are really still believers, but are trying to justify their “sin.”

          On the other hand, sometimes I think people really are still believers (perhaps doubting, but not deconverted) and really do want to “rebel” in the sense that they can no longer abide by the rules.

          All of that is “sometimes”. I didn’t think you were presenting a dichotomy at all. While those simplistic “explanations” (or “accusations”) may have a smidgen of truth, it’s really very complicated for most people. There are a lot of reasons I can cite for non-belief that have nothing to do with what caused me to deconvert, but they’ve reinforced my non-belief.

        • Otto

          I get your point and I agree that is the buckets they put the beliefs in, but it is not an honest assessment of the situation. If there is no god such a fact does not automatically lead to immorality, and vice versa. Plenty of people who honestly and sincerely believe in god r@pe and murder.

      • al kimeea

        Ah, so there are no rapists in prison that weren’t protected by VatiCorp?

  • Ann Kah

    “God has provided enough evidence in this life to convince anyone willing to believe.

    That’s a lot of faith needed right there. “If you want to see it, you’ll see it”. Nope, I’ll go the other direction, the direction that most sensible people would prefer: show me FIRST before I believe it.

  • ThaneOfDrones
    • ThaneOfDrones

      Some interesting new research, but the reporting makes me queasy:

      Scientists extract oldest ever genetic information from 1.7 million-year-old rhino tooth

      Scientists have extracted the oldest genetic information ever found from a 1.7-million-year-old rhino tooth…

      Using mass spectrometry, scientists were able to sequence proteins and read genetic data that was previously unobtainable using DNA testing…

      Researchers from the University of Copenhagen and the University of Cambridge identified an almost complete set of proteins in the dental enamel of the extinct Stephanorhinus, which lived in what is now Georgia during the Pleistocene period…

      DNA tends to break down; the oldest DNA-based sequences are ~ 500,000 years old. But I have qualms about referring to protein sequence as “genetic information”. Oh well.

      Here is the actual research article:
      Early Pleistocene enamel proteome from Dmanisi resolves Stephanorhinus phylogeny

      • ThaneOfDrones

        New Hybrid Species Remix Old Genes Creatively

        Clues from fish diversity suggest that interbreeding between species could be a major mechanism of fast speciation…

        Many genetic variants tied to the reproductive isolation of species are older than the species themselves. These old variants are often injected into lineages through hybridization with distant relatives.

        A recent review in Trends in Ecology & Evolution argues that this phenomenon reveals something fundamental about how new species form. Old variants recast in new roles may sometimes be more important role in the origin of species than new mutations are. And hybridization — long considered an evolutionary dead end — instead acts as a catalyst for combining old gene variants in new ways, fueling rapid diversification.

    • ThaneOfDrones

      Half-a-billion-year-old tiny predator unveils the rise of scorpions and spiders
      Two palaeontologists working on the world-renowned Burgess Shale have revealed a new species, called Mollisonia plenovenatrix, which is presented as the oldest chelicerate. This discovery places the origin of this vast group of animals — of over 115,000 species, including horseshoe crabs, scorpions and spiders — to a time more than 500 million years ago.

    • ThaneOfDrones

      Molecular ‘fossils’ help explain key evolutionary event

      Yale scientists have found missing molecular “fossils” that shed light on a key event in the early evolution of life on earth — the origin of the cell nucleus — they report online Sept. 10 in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution…

      A Yale team led by Sergey Melnikov, associate research scientist in the lab of Dieter Soll, Sterling Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry and professor of chemistry, has found these missing “fossils” within Archaea, the organisms that are believed to most closely resemble the ancient intermediates between bacteria and the more complex eukaryotic cells. Archaea possess proteins known as nuclear localization signals (NLS), which act as a sort of molecular ID that allows trafficking of molecules between different compartments of eukaryotic cells…

    • Michael Neville

      The article after the one on sea snakes is disturbing: Monster Hybrid Tumbleweed Species Is Taking Over California

      A new invasive species of tumbleweed that can grow up to six feet in height is taking over parts of California—and scientists are warning it could spread even further as climate change makes its growing conditions more favorable.

      Salsola ryanii was first identified in California in 2002. It is a hybrid made up of two other invasive species—Salsola tragus, which is native to Russia and China, and Salsola australis, from Australia and South Africa. The latter, scientists say, is “one of the world’s worst weeds” and is currently found in 48 U.S. states. The new species, is however, far bigger and faster growing than its parents, reaching about six feet in height.

      • Michael Murray

        Just keep an eye out for Salsola Triffidus Wyndhami

      • ThaneOfDrones

        Sounds like a good example of another article in this chain: two populations diverge, and then rehybridize.

  • Grimlock

    Totally off-topic, but I thought I’d see if anyone else has some thoughts about something.

    We are all, I suspect, to some extent familiar with how our minds are resistant to belief change, particularly with respect to cherished or important beliefs. For instance through confirmation bias, where we subconsciously evaluate evidence for an important belief different whether the evidence supports or goes against the belief. Or the backfire effect, where contrary evidence might weaken a cherished belief short term, but in the long term, it reinforces the belief.

    This is just human nature. We all do it to some extent, and it tends to be subconscious.

    The question I’ve been thinking about is whether theists or atheists are more susceptible to this.

    My immediate reaction is, obviously, that my in-group is less susceptible than my out-group. However, thinking through the reasons for why this might be the case is probably more sensible than trusting my gut reaction.

    As far as I can tell, one of the most important factor that determines whether some belief is hard to change is to what extent that belief is a part of a person’s identity. So, for the atheist who, say, spends a decent amount of time discussing religion and defending atheism (e.g. myself), will be quite susceptible to confirmation bias and so on. At least on related subjects, and comparatively more susceptible than the atheist who rarely if ever gives much thought to religion or atheism.

    My suspicion is that atheists in general are less susceptible to bias when it comes to subjects related to religion. Why? Because an atheist can, and in many cases do, live life independent of religion, and their identity is shaped by other influences. For a religious person, religious subjects typically form a big part of their identity.

    This holds little consolation for those of us who engage in discussions online, though. Our atheism does appear to be a sufficiently significant part of our identity to the extent that it makes us engage on the subject.

    Thoughts?

    • Lark62

      Neither religion nor atheism causes people to stop being in possession of a human brain.

      Humans need tribes, and accepting the beliefs of the tribe carried a survival benefit for hundreds of thousands of years.

      Like all human instincts, this default setting can be overridden with effort. And “what is supported by evidence?” is a more reliable starting point than “what did people believe 2000 years ago?”

      When atheists intentionally seek reliable sources, our conclusions are probably more reliable. But we are no less susceptible to believing nonsense than any other human.

      • Grimlock

        Agreed.

        A couple of thoughts…

        1. I think you make an important point about the reliability of sources. I’m just not sure how common that actually is among us online atheists

        b) A suggestion that I’ve seen made by people more knowledgeable than myself is to consider admitting mistakes to be a sign of strength instead of a weakness.

        (iii) I have no idea how well we can override our default settings, even when we know of the existence of the default settings. (The bias bias, anyone?) Do you know of any studies or such on that subject?

        • Lark62

          I don’t know of any studies. All I’ve got is my opinion, and my confidence that I’m right.

        • Lark62

          admitting mistakes to be a sign of strength instead of a weakness.

          Yet some see admitting any mistake as weakness – case in point – Sharpiegate, and the absolute refusal to admit any error of any sort.

          Combine that with the obvious need of a large number of people to follow a leader with “confidence” and look what happens.

        • Grimlock

          Ugh, I’d rather not look at what happens. It’s really frustrating, and must be exponentially worse for Americans…

        • Michael Neville

          Regulars at an atheist blog like this are exposed to theists trying to proselytize the apostates and heathens. We’re given the same arguments again and again and we know that Christian apologetics are based on logical fallacies, semantic ambiguities and wishful thinking. We can pick holes even in sophisticated arguments like modal ontology.

          The same arguments are tossed at us over and over. The arguments do not improve and never is reasonable, falsifiable evidence ever presented. As a result, our lack of belief in gods is reinforced.

          What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. Ecclesiastes 1:9 (NIV)

        • ThaneOfDrones

          I notice that Dave Armstrong has recently blogged about the Problem of Good: Dialogue w Atheist Academic (link purposefully omitted).

          I didn’t bother to read it. Not only are the ideas stupid, but the degree of dishonesty he brings to the table is astonishing.

        • Grimlock

          Maybe the two negative aspects cancel each other out, so that it’s actually a really good post?

        • Grimlock

          I agree that our beliefs are bolstered by being exposed to the same arguments multiple times. I’m not sure if that it is epistemically justified that this should bolster our beliefs, though. Do you have any thoughts on that?

          Regardless, I think that our evaluation of theistic arguments are inevitably going to be biased. Which is sometimes a bit too apparent in some really bad objections to some theistic arguments, such as, since you mention it, modal ontological arguments.

        • Michael Neville

          It’s not so much that our beliefs are bolstered but our rejection of opposing beliefs are reinforced. I can give six rebuttals to Pascal’s Wager (admittedly a very poor argument) off the top of my head.

          I agree that many rebuttals of theist arguments are poor. I cringe every time I hear or read “I just don’t believe in one more god than you do.” That is a lousy argument. First of all, it’s a bumper sticker sneer and I’m prejudiced against semantic arguments. The focus should not be on the bazillion gods the theist and I don’t believe in, the question is about the specific god(s) the theist does accept. Bob ran a four-part series on the one-more-god argument so I won’t go into further detail other than to say the argument is begging the question or presuppositionalism, which is a logical fallacy.

          I suspect that the major reason why atheists often give poor objections to theist arguments is that we get lazy. It’s easier to dismiss the various ontological arguments as involving ambiguous semantics than to write an essay giving the specific fallacies involved in the ontological arguments. And that’s assuming that we do know the various problems with the arguments, many atheists do not.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I suspect that the major reason why atheists often give poor objections to theist arguments is that we get lazy.

          We get lazy because they get lazy. Then the frustration sets in when they either haven’t the nous to understand the more complicated arguments and handwave them off. Or fuck-off to Croydon and then return having pressed the reset button and commit the same errors that have been previously correct, again, and again, and again.

          It’s easier to dismiss the various ontological arguments as involving ambiguous semantics than to write an essay giving the specific fallacies involved in the ontological arguments. And that’s assuming that we do know the various problems with the arguments, many atheists do not.

          This is true, but as a say, as many as there is on the atheist side that is not up to speed with the more intellectual arguments, many more theists are in the same boat.

          When the scalpel is not cutting it, the machete is a useful tool.

        • Greg G.

          Machete brain surgery.

        • Ignorant Amos

          There’s some that it would be the easy option.

        • Greg G.

          I just had a flash back to Brain Salad Surgery.

        • Grimlock

          […]many more theists are in the same boat.

          Yes. This. So much this. So annoying when someone tries to defend an argument they don’t really understand. (Yes, I’m looking at you, Kalam.) Or when they conflate different versions of an argument. (Yes, now it’s your turn to be stared at, teleological arguments.)

        • Ignorant Amos

          I knew next nothing about Christianity until I knew that what I was, was an atheist, and looked into it. I knew not one of the philosophical or theological arguments for gods, or any of the counters.

          Just about everyone I know is a Christer, I know for a fact I’m better informed by a light year than any of them in these matters.

          Granted, most are Cafeteria Christers that rarely go near a religious establishment other than for hatch, match and despatch rituals, I think that’s kinda the point. They just hold no real interest in the religion they were born into. Though they still hold onto the belief in The Jealous Lord, the happy place, and the very unhappy place.

        • Pofarmer

          My wife said again the other day. “But I don’t know any of the really good arguments.” “Yes, yes you do.” They think that there are some magical drop dead arguments that the religious intelligentsia have that are kept from the common believers. Why they think this, I know not. If there are any really good arguments, or evidence, I should have been exposed to them by now.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The average Christian has no awareness that there even is any arguments or what they are called, let alone know any of them…tell yer wife someone on the tinterwebz says it’s okay, because there is no good ones.

          Ask the average Joe what the Teleological Argument, Cosmological Argument, or The Anthropic Principal is, and they’ll look at ya like ya’ve two heads.

        • Grimlock

          Do these people still feel a sense of community or belonging to Christianity, or do they use it as a social arena?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Northern Ireland is largely sectarian.

          The sense of community revolves around social gathering defined by flavour of Christian.

          Christian Protestants for a long time, only hung out with other Protestants. Since the move away from church attendance that is starting to dissipate though.

          Vestigial remnants still remain during certain times of year, where the clash of religious culture comes to a head.

          Commonly known as the “marching season”, religious sectarianism rears its ugly head.

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

          It’ll take a number of generations for it to be gone altogether, hopefully.

        • Grimlock

          That… Is a lot of parades!

          I guess one can hope that the dwindling influence of religion will accelerate once it reaches some threshold.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Ya don’t know the half of it.

          There were 4,186 parades in 2018….down from 2017 at 4394 parades.

          Those are official Parades Commission figures and don’t include illegal gatherings.

          https://www.paradescommission.org/Press-Releases/Parades-statistics-2016.aspx

        • Ignorant Amos

          I was thinking about this and remembered this appropriate episode of The Atheist Experience that seems to dovetail nicely.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o5xAf2_xR5o

        • Grimlock

          Any chance you could quickly describe the part of the 50 minute episode that you had in mind?

        • Ignorant Amos

          The episode demonstrates a Christian with a chronic understanding of the the Fine Tuning Argument. As Matt and Tracie explain the counter, the Christian moves along to other points. Eventually defence of Jesus, crucifixion, Resurrection…the ridiculousness of the Christian story…the absurdity of the God found in the religion given the world we live in, etc. By the end of the video, I could almost feel the light bulb in his head going on in a moment of wtf?

          In a 50+ moment chat they had the caller Brian agreeing that the God he believes in is highly questionable and agreeing that he had been left with some important points he needed to consider.

          But go to about 32 mins and that’s where the commentary starts explaining that most of the stuff theologians use to argue with, the ordinary Joe isn’t clued up on.

        • Grimlock

          Oh, that’s very familiar! I think I’ve seen this described before. I’ll have a look at it, thanks.

        • Grimlock

          I’m not sure laziness is the major reason, but I do agree that it probably plays a role. Perhaps also in the sense that it’s easy to quickly dismiss an argument if it’s for a position that you already consider to be false.

        • TheNuszAbides

          to consider admitting mistakes to be a sign of strength instead of a weakness

          I’ve come to understand this as a healthy form of humility (and especially honesty, both inward and outward) but in my theist youth it was all about feeling [inordinately] guilty. My [almost entirely introspective] efforts to ‘rewire’ those responses (after developing close friendships with those who didn’t like to see/hear me denigrating myself), as well as attempts to shed other fallacies and standards from my upbringing, introduced the peril of what I have since seen best described (by Durkheim, IIRC, via Haidt) as anomie/normlessness …

          I won’t lay this entirely at the feet of Xianity or even religion in general, but the ‘get out of jail free card’ was never a simple matter for me, even when I believed.

    • eric

      I’d provisionally go with the null hypothesis. Absent good data, theism/atheism has no impact and so there’s no statistical difference between the two, and if someone wants to posit otherwise, it’s up to them to collect data to support their position.

      My own peanut gallery opinion would be that I’d bet you’d find a correlation between ‘ability to change belief’ and ‘# incidents in past where they changed their belief.’ i.e. those who have done it before are more likely to do it again. So while changing from theist to atheist in the past may be a sign of greater mental flexibility, always having been an atheist would not be. Likewise, the theist who has bopped from Protestant to Catholic to new ager to whatever might be very flexible in considering new beliefs, while the person who has the same religion at 50 that they grew up in may not. But to circle back to my first point, this opinion has no data backing it up, and so it is, like your own, pretty much in the category of ‘unsupported hypothesis that needs testing’ rather than anything more firm.

      • Grimlock

        It’d be very intriguing to see your hypothesis being tested.

        (Also, obviously agreed that my speculation falls into the “unsupported hypothesis in need of testing” category.)

    • ThaneOfDrones

      My first thought is that it’s not just atheism vs. religion, because there are so many different religions. It’s atheism vs. numerous sects of Hinduism, multiple flavors of Islam, and tens of thousands of sects of Christianity, not to mention the smaller players; and they’re all incompatible. If you were to abandon the position of atheism, you wouldn’t be pulled to ‘the other side’, you would be pulled in 10,000 different directions.
      It also happens that none of those religions does well by the standards of objective evidence, but the multiplicity of itself is a hurdle.

      • Ignorant Amos

        A hell of a lot more directions than 10,000 too. There are 45,000+ flavours of the Christer cult out there to begin with. Which one is even the correct one should Christianity be the chosen path. One could spend a lifetime investigating them and even then never get to the end considering on average, two and a bit get added daily.

      • Grimlock

        I think I see what you mean. However, in terms of having a part of one’s identity being threatened, it might not matter much which particular “opposing” worldview one is being confronted with – the same psychological effects might come into play. (Though perhaps not to the same extent.)

    • MR

      Most atheists I personally know were theists to start out with so they did in fact change their minds, usually based on reason, logic and lack of evidence. In other words, they thought deeply about whether it made sense. The reverse trip doesn’t happen because, as we see here every day, you can’t get there through reason, logic and evidence. The road to religion is principally through indoctrination, next emotional reasons, tragedy, desperation, etc.

      I think atheists would and could indeed change their mind given a minimal of evidence, the same kind of evidence that it takes to believe the mundanest of things. It’s just that the evidence isn’t there. That makes it a one way street unless you convert for emotional reasons, but that seems to me hard to do once you’ve gone the logic route.

      But, I don’t think you can say that atheists don’t change their minds when it was changing their minds that got them there in the first place. You don’t get to then place them in a category of always having been an intractable atheist or just rule them out.

      I’m not an atheist because it’s “my in-group.” In fact, “my in-group” is still my family and friends who believe. I’m an atheist in spite of that, because of logic and reason. I don’t debate here because I feel a part of this atheist group so much as I want other Christians to be exposed to the arguments (or lack thereof). I celebrate the atheists here not for their atheism, but for their reason, logic, knowledge and wit. Things that are often wanting in my theistic compatriots. In everyday life, it’s not like we define our friends by whether or not they are atheist, so the in-group thing kind of rings hollow for me, there, too.

      • Ignorant Amos

        I’ve changed a few minds in meatworld maself by pointing out the obvious.

        • MR

          Another thing I’ve noticed that Grimlock (and ozarkmichael for that matter) seem to fail to consider is that changing one’s mind is a lengthy process. The process of becoming an atheist, for example, happens while one is still a Christian. People don’t spring from the head of Atheism fully formed. It took me a lifetime to get here.

          Just because I was a theist didn’t mean that I wasn’t aware of, didn’t notice, the possibility that God might not actually exist. We’re always weighing the evidence before us, and contrary to belief, people can be of two minds. There’s a defining moment when one says, “I believe,” or “I don’t believe,” but that process is long and continuous.

          We hear from the hardcore apologists here, but what about the silent, thoughtful lurkers sitting on the sidelines? Peer into their minds and find out what they think and then let’s talk about intractable in-groups.

          And then of course, there’s the question, does reality bear out the existence of a god? Does it make sense to say, “Can the atheist change his mind,” if changing his mind ultimately means in believing something false? Why would he?

        • Ignorant Amos

          People don’t spring from the head of Atheism fully formed. It took me a lifetime to get here.

          I don’t think there is a cookie cutter formula to describe the process. Too many variables in each individuals case imo. Some folk have an epiphany moment, others wrestle with the idea for decades.

          Take ex-pastor Ryan Bell for example. It took just under a year for him to wise up and that was as a result of an experiment that some might say backfired..

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ryan_J._Bell

        • Otto

          The best analogy I have heard of is that belief is like a spider web, cut one strand and the web is intact, but keep cutting and eventually it loses its stability. That is what happened with me, I had my 1 ‘aha’ moment where I realized I no longer believed, but it was only afterwards that I could look back and see all of the snips of the strands that led to that moment.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I can’t remember an “a ha” moment. From a young age I thought the whole ball of chalk was a lot of nonsense, but I played along because of everyone else. When I read TGD and ventured onto the internet, I realised the more sensible folk had similar views on the issue to me. I knew nothing of the philosophical arguments beforehand and I lurked for quite a while absorbing the comments of others more intellectually astute than I, before jumping into the commenting section of blogs. Each day my non-belief gets bolstered further. Through the strength of the arguments on this side, but also the pathetic and inept excuses for an argument on the opposite side too.

        • MR

          Yes, I Iike that analogy.

        • MR

          Well, I’m not convinced these things take place solely in an epiphany or even a year. The subconscious is a funny place. I’d characterize my conversion as spread out over a five-year period in mid-adulthood, but I recognize key moments that contributed that go back to my youth, things I ignored as a Christian but that stuck with me. Things other Christians said in their own doubt, or lies that were spread that maybe were taken as a ha-ha moment, but that lay that seed of doubt in my subconscious. We often see Christians or apologists here pushed into a corner where they have to lie. I think that face value moment is where we say, “Oh, you can never convince someone.” But, what does that lie now do in their subconscious? Maybe, just maybe, it’s the seed that sprouts later into a doubt that sprouts later into an honest assessment. Why do the Steven Benjamin’s and the ozarkmichael’s and the others side step direct, sincere, challenges? Maybe, just maybe, they know.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Well, I’m not convinced these things take place solely in an epiphany or even a year.

          I can only go on the testimony of others. Some claim an “a ha” moment. Others claim it took a bit longer. Others still, claim many years of deep thinking.

          The variety of diverse testimonies can be read at Quora. This one actually uses the term “a ha” for the mont the penny dropped.

          https://www.quora.com/How-did-you-feel-in-the-moment-you-became-an-atheist/answer/D-W-Bergendorf-II

          “Our Stories” at The Clergy Project and “Converts Corner” are two other sources of conversion testimonies covering the diversity of tales about giving up god belief.

          The subconscious is a funny place. I’d characterize my conversion as spread out over a five-year period in mid-adulthood, but I recognize key moments that contributed that go back to my youth, things I ignored as a Christian but that stuck with me. Things other Christians said in their own doubt, or lies that were spread that maybe were taken as a ha-ha moment, but that lay that seed of doubt in my subconscious. We often see Christians or apologists here pushed into a corner where they have to lie. I think that face value moment is where we say, “Oh, you can never convince someone.” But, what does that lie now do in their subconscious? Maybe, just maybe, it’s the seed that sprouts later into a doubt that sprouts later into an honest assessment.

          While I agree with you here, there are still some that claim that something like reading a particular book that did the trick. One of those books being the Buybull itself.

          Why do the Steven Benjamin’s and the ozarkmichael’s and the others side step direct, sincere, challenges? Maybe, just maybe, they know.

          Denial? Dishonest? Duplicitous? Disingenuous? Devious? Dunderheadedness?

          Who knows what mental gymnastics is going on between their ears.

        • MR

          Well, the Bible was certainly the final nail in my Christian coffin.

        • Ignorant Amos

          It was certainly an eye-opener for me too. It was this anecdote in TGD that drove me to give the whole thing a bit of attention.

          Winston Churchill’s son Randolph somehow contrived to remain ignorant of scripture until Evelyn Waugh and a brother officer, in a vain attempt to keep Churchill quiet when they were posted together during the war, bet him he couldn’t read the entire Bible in a fortnight: ‘Unhappily it has not had the result we hoped. He has never read any of it before and is hideously excited; keeps reading quotations aloud “I say I bet you didn’t know this came in the Bible …” or merely slapping his side & chording “God, isn’t God a shit!”’

          Thomas Jefferson – better read – was of a similar opinion: ‘The Christian God is a being of terrific character – cruel, vindictive, capricious and unjust.’

          My partner and I have been together coming up for 9 years, when I first moved in with her, she was a Cafeteria Christer. I found out that she hadn’t actually read the Buybull, though as a youngster, she was a regular at Sunday School for many years. There was 10 girls and a boy in the house, not including her parents. Sunday was an opportunity for some me-time for her parents while the clan was out. If ya get ma drift, nudge-nudge, wink-wink, say no more.

          I set her the same challenge as was set Randolph Churchill. It wasn’t long before I was getting a similar reaction to that of Churchills pals.

          If only more would read the bloody thing.

        • Grimlock

          Another thing I’ve noticed that Grimlock (and ozarkmichael for that matter) seem to fail to consider is that changing one’s mind is a lengthy process.

          What, I wonder, is your evidence for this rather peculiar claim about me?

        • MR

          I guess that is where the seem to plays in. I don’t make a claim, but it seems to me that you don’t factor this in. Actually, my point was more around the fact that the changing of one’s mind is a process that happens while one is still a Christian (or potentially, an atheist) [and the springing forth as a fully-formed atheist part]. You’ve alluded to this theory a couple times and I haven’t seen you factor this in when you’ve presented it. It’s possible I’ve missed this. The times I have seen it, though, I’ve always thought, this doesn’t match up with what I experienced, nor does it jive with what I know from others.

          Christians do carry doubt and I do believe that atheists are open to evidence. That atheists don’t seem to cross the line toward theism I think has less to do with “in-group” psychology (though, it certainly could factor in to some degree), so much as simply the lack of reasonable evidence.

          I will, however, say that I see some in-grouping when I hear atheists say things like, “I wouldn’t want to live forever in heaven, it would be too boring,” or, “You’re god is a monster and I could never worship him.” That kind of talk makes me roll my eyes. Maybe it’s not “in-grouping” so much as attempting some kind of shock factor, but I think it backfires because the Christian hears, “I do believe in God, I do, I really do, but I refuse to acknowledge it,” or something like that. The atheist is attempting a reductio ad absurdum, but I don’t think the theist follows the logic through. That’s partially why we get claims of hating God and really believing in him but wanting more to sin. Although most of that can really be laid at the feet of the professional apologists who promote those lines.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Grimlock is a Scandinavian. His experience will be different to those from other parts.

          I will, however, say that I see some in-grouping when I hear atheists say things like, “I wouldn’t want to live forever in heaven, it would be too boring,” or, “You’re god is a monster and I could never worship him.” That kind of talk makes me roll my eyes. Maybe it’s not “in-grouping” so much as attempting some kind of shock factor, but I think it backfires because the Christian hears, “I do believe in God, I do, I really do, but I refuse to acknowledge it,” or something like that. The atheist is attempting a reductio ad absurdum, but I don’t think the theist follows the logic through. That’s partially why we get claims of hating God and really believing in him but wanting more to sin. Although most of that can really be laid at the feet of the professional apologists who promote those lines.

          I say both those things. I don’t think it is in-group thinking as opposed to just a statement of fact. I also give zero fucks what mindless Christers think when they see it being commented. The idiots can claim whatever they like, and they do, but until they can support such accusations, I’m not bothered. Fuck’em.

        • MR

          Yes, but you don’t actually believe in heaven or God. If heaven and God actually existed, the next logical step would be to ask, is the Bible’s portrayal of them accurate, not a knee-jerk, “Oh, I’d be bored, and God is a monster.” If God truly existed and really was good and not a monster, boredom in heaven probably wouldn’t be a problem. It just strikes me as not a real argument and more said for effect.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Yes, but you don’t actually believe in heaven or God.

          Of course not. We are talking hypothetical. If x, then y.

          The god of the buybull is an imaginary character that no one should have any truck with if the texts are anything to go by.

          I don’t believe the Sherlock Holmes chronicles, but that Moriarity is a bad lot too.

          If heaven and God actually existed, the next logical step would be to ask, is the Bible’s portrayal of them accurate, not a knee-jerk, “Oh, I’d be bored, and God is a monster.”

          But the statement is based on the character as described in the book as accurate, what else is there? It has no bearing on the veracity of such an entity or place’s existence.

          If God truly existed and really was good and not a monster, boredom in heaven probably wouldn’t be a problem.

          If both existed and God was the bestest thing since sliced bread, it still wouldn’t matter. When ya consider what eternity really means…really, really means. No thanks. I get fed up, sick and tired of things in the here and now.

          I usually quote James Joyce at this juncture…

          “What must it be, then, to bear the manifold tortures of hell forever? Forever! For all eternity! Not for a year or an age but forever. Try to imagine the awful meaning of this. You have often seen the sand on the seashore. How fine are its tiny grains! And how many of those tiny grains go to make up the small handful which a child grasps in its play. Now imagine a mountain of that sand, a million miles high, reaching from the earth to the farthest heavens, and a million miles broad, extending to remotest space, and a million miles in thickness, and imagine such an enormous mass of countless particles of sand multiplied as often as there are leaves in the forest, drops of water in the mighty ocean, feathers on birds, scales on fish, hairs on animals, atoms in the vast expanse of air. And imagine that at the end of every million years a little bird came to that mountain and carried away in its beak a tiny grain of that sand. How many millions upon millions of centuries would pass before that bird had carried away even a square foot of that mountain, how many eons upon eons of ages before it had carried away all. Yet at the end of that immense stretch time not even one instant of eternity could be said to have ended. At the end of all those billions and trillions of years eternity would have scarcely begun. And if that mountain rose again after it had been carried all away again grain by grain, and if it so rose and sank as many times as there are stars in the sky, atoms in the air, drops of water in the sea, leaves on the trees, feathers upon birds, scales upon fish, hairs upon animals – at the end of all those innumerable risings and sinkings of that immeasurably vast mountain not even one single instant of eternity could be said to have ended; even then, at the end of such a period, after that eon of time, the mere thought of which makes our very brain reel dizzily, eternity would have scarcely begun.”

          ― James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

          Just swap out Hell for Heaven, because an eternity of the rules in the not-so-good-book would be manifold tortures to me.

          It just strikes me as not a real argument and more said for effect.

          I can’t speak for others, but if a couldn’t stand an eternal existence, period. Am certainly having none of it with that nasty character in the buybull. Whether that’s an argument, real or not, is debatable.

        • MR

          If both existed and God was the bestest thing since sliced bread, it still wouldn’t matter. When ya consider what eternity really means…really, really means. No thanks. I get fed up, sick and tired of things in the here and now.

          See, that…, that does smack to me of what Grimlock is talking about, but I find it hard to believe that you can’t conceive of a world where one doesn’t get fed up, and sick and tired of things. I mean, that’s kind of built into the definition of heaven for me.

        • Ignorant Amos

          See, that…, that does smack to me of what Grimlock is talking about,….

          Where?

          …but I find it hard to believe that you can’t conceive of a world where one doesn’t get fed up, and sick and tired of things.

          How is that my problem?

          I mean, that’s kind of built into the definition of heaven for me.

          Well, in that case, you need to define your concept of what heaven is, because it doesn’t sound like mine.

          As it happens, the whole idea is very vague…surprise,surprise…not.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heaven#New_Testament_and_early_Christianity

          The very notion of Heaven is fuckwittery of the highest order and you’re doing the thing that you criticise others for, by giving the concept any credence by saying that it’s kind of built into the definition of heaven for me in the first place. Like it’s an imaginary place that you can conceive of, but one that I, and others can’t.

          Once one is in Heaven, is there a later opt out option if it isn’t liked for example?

          If an attribute of Heaven is eternal, then cram it. End of, I want no part of it. But that’s just my thinking on the matter.

        • MR

          Maybe Grimlock is right.

        • Ignorant Amos

          About what pal?

          Am a bit at sixes and sevens here. A shouldn’t have had that last glass of vino earlier, am off to catch a flight to Glasgow for the football in a few hours and really needed the shut eye. It just wouldn’t happen for me.

        • Grimlock

          About what pal?

          What am I not right about, eh?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Am not terribly sure, but a guess like me, there are probably lots of things, a was just looking for clarification what it is you’re probably right about on this occasion.

        • Grimlock

          I figured. I’m a bit curious myself…

        • Grimlock

          Maybe Grimlock is right.

          It’s a terrible habit that I’m trying to quit.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Omniscience must be a hard cross to bear.

          Glad am ignorant, life is so much more simple. }8O)~

        • Grimlock

          Grimlock is a Scandinavian. His experience will be different to those from other parts.

          True. While I guess some people in some of my social circles might have been more than nominally Christian, I didn’t notice. My upbringing was pretty secular. (Which is not to say that the same is true for everyone in Scandinavia.)

          But it’s not like I’m unaware that deconversion can be a dragged-out and painful affair. I’ve read a multitude of deconversion stories (and a fair few conversion stories) that make this point abundantly clear. I’ve also remarked on that, for instance in this comment a couple of months ago.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Indeed. And MR upvoted that comment, so must’ve forgot about it, or I’m misunderstanding the point being made.

          Like I said elsewhere on the thread, I don’t see a one-size-fits-all in the journey from theist to atheist, and I’ve read quite some number of testimonies. While many are of lengthy drawn out struggles to get there, others are not so much.

        • Grimlock

          I guess that is where the seem to plays in. I don’t make a claim, but it seems to me that you don’t factor this in. Actually, my point was more around the fact that the changing of one’s mind is a process that happens while one is still a Christian (or potentially, an atheist) [and the springing forth as a fully-formed atheist part]. You’ve alluded to this theory a couple times and I haven’t seen you factor this in when you’ve presented it. It’s possible I’ve missed this. The times I have seen it, though, I’ve always thought, this doesn’t match up with what I experienced, nor does it jive with what I know from others.

          You’re correct about the “seem to” part. Somehow, I missed that.

          I’m well aware that the process is often (perhaps even typically) a dragged-out affair, and even remarked as much to OM a couple of months ago:

          When a person goes from being a theist to an atheist, that is often the end result of a long process where, I would imagine, that person’s stance has already changed to non-theistic alternatives on a number of subjects.

          In other words, the shift to atheism simpliciter might not be the beginning of a reevaluation, but the end.

          Anyhow, I have a suspicion that some of my comments are taken as if I’m arguing for something that I’m not actually arguing for. But I might be mistaken – being aware of something isn’t the same as always factoring it in. Would you mind pointing to a specific case where it seems to you that I don’t factor this in as a relevant, uh, factor?

          Christians do carry doubt and I do believe that atheists are open to evidence. That atheists don’t seem to cross the line toward theism I think has less to do with “in-group” psychology (though, it certainly could factor in to some degree), so much as simply the lack of reasonable evidence.

          Some comments:
          1. I agree that many Christians carry some doubt.
          2. I agree that atheists are, to some extent, open to evidence. But I don’t think that atheists are not influenced by biases. In-group psychology is just one factor that strengthens biases.
          3. I agree that epistemically speaking, atheism is the superior position to theism. (But I don’t know how much my own biases are influencing this stance.)

          I will, however, say that I see some in-grouping when I hear atheists say things like, “I wouldn’t want to live forever in heaven, it would be too boring,” or, “You’re god is a monster and I could never worship him.” That kind of talk makes me roll my eyes. Maybe it’s not “in-grouping” so much as attempting some kind of shock factor, but I think it backfires because the Christian hears, “I do believe in God, I do, I really do, but I refuse to acknowledge it,” or something like that. The atheist is attempting a reductio ad absurdum, but I don’t think the theist follows the logic through. That’s partially why we get claims of hating God and really believing in him but wanting more to sin. Although most of that can really be laid at the feet of the professional apologists who promote those lines.

          I’ve also seen similiar statements. I’m not sure I’d attribute that to in-group psychology, as much as a consequence of attempts to reduce cognitive dissonance. One might hold to such beliefs because it reduces the dissonance between what one, at a previous point, desired, and what one believed. (Where what one believed won out.)

          Professional apologists are… often very frustrating. Especially the ones who are obviously very intelligent (WLC comes to mind), but make some – to a nontheist – astonishing mental gymnastics in order to appear reasonably consistent.

        • MR

          In other words, the shift to atheism simpliciter might not be the beginning of a reevaluation, but the end.

          Ah, yes, I do remember you saying that and thinking, “That’s what I’m talking about!” At least partially, because there is also the fact that many if not most atheists already changed their minds. I’m being facetious here not to make a personal dig but to make a point: “How many times do they have to change their minds before you’re happy?” I mean, gosh, someone really thinks about this and comes to a conclusion but yet they’re still too biased? They’ve probably given it considerable thought and probably have a reasonably thought out threshold of what it would take for them to change their minds back.

          Having said all this, I’ll back track and say that I do see atheist bias come into play pretty strongly in, (glances nervously at Greg G and ro and whispers) “in Jesus Mythicism.” But even there I think they are aware that there is a level of evidence that if something were to come to light that proved an historical Jesus they would reconsider their position.

          Would you mind pointing to a specific case where it seems to you that I don’t factor this in as a relevant, uh, factor?

          I’m too lazy to find your post from some time back, but I remember thinking, “Yeah, but most…” (and I could be wrong with most, but this was my thought, and at the least many) “of us were Christian and we overcame those biases, which is why we’re atheists.” Whatever you said, you didn’t address that. But for this thread, I mean, I don’t really see it factored into your OP.

          But, yes, you did touch on it when you were countering om’s comments.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Having said all this, I’ll back track and say that I do see atheist bias come into play pretty strongly in, (glances nervously at Greg G and ro and whispers) “in Jesus Mythicism.” But even there I think they are aware that there is a level of evidence that if something were to come to light that proved an historical Jesus they would reconsider their position.

          The fact that mythicists became mythicists, should be enough to demonstrate a mind changing moment. From what I’ve read, scholars and non-scholars alike, become mythicists by judging which side of the argument was most convincing. I don’t see a bias involved, because it is of no consequence to being atheist whether there was a Jesus person upon which the god-man was based. But there is a consequence to becoming a mythicist because no one wants to b e on the fringe and called a kook, while erroneously being compared to a cretard Christer.

          Richard Carrier had to be dragged into the debate kicking and screaming to look at the argument. Raphael Lataster asserts the debate should be just between atheists in order to remove the problem of bias in the debate.

        • Pofarmer

          Having said all this, I’ll back track and say that I do see atheist bias
          come into play pretty strongly in, (glances nervously at Greg G and ro
          and whispers) ”
          .” But even there I think they
          are aware that there is a level of evidence that if something were to
          come to light that proved an historical Jesus they would reconsider
          their position.

          My position on Atheism and Jesus Mythicism are the same. I don’t think those proposing the alternate position are supplying sufficient evidence to back up their claims.

        • Otto

          “You’re god is a monster and I could never worship him.”

          I mostly agree with your points but I will take a little issue with this in that as a Christian (and even at a very young age) I could not wrap my head around an ‘all loving’ god that created a place like hell. I often thought to myself that “I wouldn’t treat my worst enemy like that”, and yet I was told that is what God does and he is right to do so. It seemed completely immoral to me, but I had to somehow fit that square peg in the round hole. I know there are plenty of Christians who have seeds of doubt in this area and so I don’t mind using that to point out the contradiction and immoral concepts. Sure they may dig their heels in at the moment but I do think it will get some people thinking a little. As you rightfully pointed out it is a piece by piece process.

        • MR

          Yes, but my point is that your message is not, “You’re god exists and he’s a monster.” It’s something along the lines of, “But, this is nonsensical!”

        • Otto

          I know, I will post the full quote…

          I will, however, say that I see some in-grouping when I hear atheists say things like, “I wouldn’t want to live forever in heaven, it would be too boring,” or, “You’re god is a monster and I could never worship him.”

          My point is I don’t feel that is necessarily in-group thinking as it applies to atheists, though it may be in some instances.

        • MR

          Ah, yes, but I think if you continue to read you will see that I evolved the thought away from that statement.

          “Maybe it’s not “in-grouping” so much as….”

          You didn’t quite get the full “full quote.” 😉

        • Otto

          I don’t think it necessarily backfires though, it would for some I am sure, but it didn’t for me.

        • MR

          Yes, I think it likely depends on some “stage” that you’re in, but we certainly see it being misconstrued all the time here.

          But, to your point, I wish I could remember something that someone said years ago in a forum that just made me pale in embarrassment that I could believe such a thing. I don’t know, and I don’t think, that it was along these lines of “your god is a monster…,” but it was something stated so plainly, so rawly, that it embarrassed the hell out of me to the point that you get that queasy feeling like when your stomach drops out.

          And that from reading something in a forum and not even being told face to face!

        • Otto

          A similar blunt statement made in a video about Christianity did the same to me, I was embarrassed, but more than anything it broke the spell and it was a relief. I knew in that instant that the religion is completely ridiculous and I would never consider myself a Christian again. Admittedly I was already having issues but I did not have any idea that I would drop the belief, I was actually trying to find a version I could live with.

        • MR

          And I’ve mentioned before how when I responded to someone, “I’m an atheist,” I was as shocked myself that those words came out of my mouth. I hadn’t even realized!

        • Otto

          Interesting, after watching that video I immediately talked to my wife and said ‘I am not a Christian’. It wasn’t until a little later that I came to realize I was an atheist.

        • MR

          That’s interesting. My “Christianity” was tied to my belief in God. They kind of evaporated together.

          But, I have a dear friend, an elderly lady, who regularly attended a Christian church, believed in God, appeared to believe in Christianity, but always said, “I don’t call myself a Christian.” I still puzzle over what she exactly meant, but for me the two were intertwined.

          I remember thinking, “I can’t just jump to a different branch.” I had to go to the root. “Why do I believe in God?” not, “Maybe the Unitarian church would suit me better,” or God forbid the Episcopalians. I didn’t think, “I’m spiritual, not religious.”

          Why do I believe?

          It’s a devastating question that the apologist will avoid at all cost.

        • Otto

          I was an apatheist Catholic, then left Catholicism for good when the scandal hit. I actually went to a Priest (someone I had never met or even attended the church of) and asked the question “If the Church is a moral authority and moral leader but they can’t even follow basic minimal ethics how can I trust that what they teach is correct or accurate?”. I know it sounds like a gotcha question but I meant it in all sincerity. He was a really nice guy and I liked him personally but to say he lacked an answer would be an understatement. After that I started actually looking and other versions, of course I was most attracted to Lutheranism (Catholic Lite) and pretty quickly realized I was just picking on personal preference. How can you expect to find the correct version if you are just gonna pick what is comfortable? Well obviously that personal question made me realize pretty quickly that is what everyone does. Then it just took the last push.

        • epeeist

          I was at Fountains Abbey yesterday.

          This is the ultimate end of disagreement between denominations:

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/1a77cc3b4ce0994f7202362532338ee5891f90fad6789e44ddb726ea05825592.jpg

        • Ignorant Amos

          Different strokes for different folks.

        • Ignorant Amos

          IF your god exists, he’s a monster…according to the book anyway.

          But even that is not the point.

          Can we not play DA (advocatus diaboli) here in these discussions? That doesn’t mean there is any veracity to a given literary concept. I can argue the minutiae of what was going on in the mind of Doctor Faustus without giving any credence to his existence in reality. And as a matter of fact, I did indeed. I have had to write an essay on the matter for assessment.

        • MR

          Can we not play DA

          Yes, but we understand the hypothetical. My point is that they do not.

        • ildi

          I have to say I sort of got this impression also from your apparent agreement with/interpretation of ozarkmichael’s position in the Team Atheism thread, but it got cut short when om was banned so I never saw whether you elaborated on your points or not.

        • Grimlock

          Interesting.

          I’d just finished getting an idea of OM’s stance, making sure I’d got it right. My next steps would have been to consider each part of his position. The general positions, for instance with respect to the behavior of groups, I find probable. However, connection that with specific events and behaviors are inherently less certain.

          So I guess you could say that I find the general ideas to be agreeable, but are more skeptical towards his interpretations of events here.

        • ildi

          I’d just finished getting an idea of OM’s stance, making sure I’d got it right.

          Well, I didn’t think you got it right, partly because OM enjoyed being annoyingly coy, and I cited examples of some of his statements to that effect, but then the thread died.

          I suspect that in most cases, social and emotional factors (and so on) played a far bigger role in people’s (de)conversions than they think.

          I see you and OM as opposite sides of the same coin; OM can’t conceive that someone can be an unbeliever based on his Christian understanding of human nature, whereas you don’t seem to get what it means to be a believer and then deconvert from a specific religion (or at least overgeneralizing based on where you’re from.) I think part of it is the usual problem of using the same words but meaning different things by them.

          First of all, I think it’s important to emphasize that (at least in terms of U.S. Christianity, which is where I’m coming from) belief is primarily an EMOTIONAL RELATIONSHIP. The point gets tippy-toed around a lot, but Christians do have evidence for their faith, and that evidence is some version of Calvin’s sensus divinitatis; i.e., your faith in God results in a personal experience of him. Both William Lane Craig and Plantinga both freely admit that this personal relationship is why they know they’re right, and it trumps any apologetics.

          I was raised Catholic, and while it wasn’t called this specifically, the underlying understanding was that if you followed the Catholic teachings and the sacraments, then you would experience this when you prayed or attended mass or took communion or went to retreats. In college, many of the conversion stories I heard from born-agains (these were people who were already Christian but didn’t have a personal relationship with Jesus) involved making the decision to give up something or change something in their lives and having a direct religious experience as a result. Conversely, when people talk about a crisis of faith, what they mean is that this feeling/experience has gone away and of course when this happens it’s always something you’ve done wrong; feeling prideful, or wanting to sin, or knowing better than God, or you must have let doubt creep in. For the latter, I think that’s why apologetics is considered so important.

          I would be interested in finding out what role the sensus divinitatis (or lack thereof) plays in U.S. atheists who deconverted from Christianity. In my case, being raised Catholic in the Deep South before the internet, I believed in God the way I believed in gravity. I didn’t even know that not believing was an option, that people existed who didn’t believe in God, just that there were people who were getting it wrong. However, I never experienced god as a personal connection despite all my efforts, and of course I assumed it was because there was something wrong with me, which pained and distressed me for years. (Priests were no help; the few times I brought it up I was basically told to get over myself.) The idea that maybe there actually was no “there” there took a long time to take root.

          The second aspect of deconverting that makes your statement above come across as condescending as OM’s “Team Atheism is unwilling to ask the Difficult Question because Doctrine” is that in U.S. Christianity, at least, hell is a BFD. Pascal’s wager sums it up well; are you willing to risk being wrong and BURN IN HELL FOREVER? I feared going to hell years after intellectually I no longer believed anything about Catholicism. I still wasn’t an atheist, though; I identified as a lapsed Catholic if religion came up, and though I didn’t think all that much about it, I still believed there was a god, and afterlife, souls, ghosts, etc. Then the Moral Majority happened, 9/11 happened, the New Atheists wrote books, and blogging became a thing. (I also dropped acid and experienced a chemically-induced version of sensus divinitatis, so there’s that.)

        • Grimlock

          Well, I didn’t think you got it right, partly because OM enjoyed being annoyingly coy, and I cited examples of some of his statements to that effect, but then the thread died.

          We will have to disagree about this. I think I got OM’s stance right because OM agreed that I got it right.

          I’ll have to get to the rest of your comment later. I’m on my phone now, and having issues with Disqus and viewing long threads and comments.

        • Grimlock

          As promised, responding to the longer part of your message now that I can read the whole thing. My response will be short, as I’m a bit tired. Please let me know if there’s any important you feel that I should respond to.

          […] whereas you don’t seem to get what it means to be a believer and then deconvert from a specific religion (or at least overgeneralizing based on where you’re from.)

          I don’t “get” what it means in the sense that I’ve experienced it myself. If that’s what you mean, then you’re correct.

          I think it’s important to emphasize that (at least in terms of U.S. Christianity, which is where I’m coming from) belief is primarily an EMOTIONAL RELATIONSHIP.

          I’m well aware of this. You’ll note I’m not exactly saying that religious belief is a purely intellectual exercise.

          Both William Lane Craig and Plantinga both freely admit that this personal relationship is why they know they’re right, and it trumps any apologetics.

          Also, yes. “Reformed epistemology” is fun stuff.

          Conversely, when people talk about a crisis of faith, what they mean is that this feeling/experience has gone away and of course when this happens it’s always something you’ve done wrong; feeling prideful, or wanting to sin, or knowing better than God, or you must have let doubt creep in

          Yes. Incidentally, the suggestions I’ve seen being made by Christians to people going through such a crisis has often (usually?) been to do stuff that reaffirms their emotional and/or social connection to Christianity. Not to do an intellectual investigation into the evidence.

          I would be interested in finding out what role the sensus divinitatis (or lack thereof) plays in U.S. atheists who deconverted from Christianity.

          Agreed.

          However, I never experienced god as a personal connection despite all my efforts, and of course I assumed it was because there was something wrong with me, which pained and distressed me for years.

          That sounds horrible.

          The second aspect of deconverting that makes your statement above come across as condescending

          I don’t follow your reasoning for this. You know, beyond how it can be perceived as condescending that I make any statement about the mental workings of people, in general. Also, I’m not familiar with the abbreviation “BFD”.

          I feared going to hell years after intellectually I no longer believed anything about Catholicism.

          I’m not surprised. Sounds traumatic.

          (I also dropped acid and experienced a chemically-induced version of sensus divinitatis, so there’s that.)

          I wonder what that would be like.

      • Grimlock

        I’m not sure if this comment was intended as a direct response to me, or just general musings on the subject.

        Most atheists I personally know were theists to start out with so they did in fact change their minds, usually based on reason, logic and lack of evidence. In other words, they thought deeply about whether it made sense. The reverse trip doesn’t happen because, as we see here every day, you can’t get there through reason, logic and evidence. The road to religion is principally through indoctrination, next emotional reasons, tragedy, desperation, etc.

        There are plenty of cases of Christians who claim to have converted due to intellectual reasons. Though nowadays, deconversions are more common than conversions (ref. Pew study on changes in belief for the general population in the US, and Helen de Cruz’ work on Western philosophers).

        I suspect that in most cases, social and emotional factors (and so on) played a far bigger role in people’s (de)conversions than they think. And that goes both ways. I’m not saying that people are lying, just that, since we don’t have access to insight into the origins of our mental states, the models we construct of our actions are often wrong.

        I think atheists would and could indeed change their mind given a minimal of evidence, the same kind of evidence that it takes to believe the mundanest of things. It’s just that the evidence isn’t there. That makes it a one way street unless you convert for emotional reasons, but that seems to me hard to do once you’ve gone the logic route.

        Obviously, I agree that the evidence favors atheism. However, it’s not as if atheists are impervious to the biases that are common to all humans. And my point is that atheists such as ourselves, who invest time in discussing this online, and thus plausibly have atheism as some part of our identity, will be susceptible to the biases that are rooted in perceived attacks on our identity.

        But, I don’t think you can say that atheists don’t change their minds when it was changing their minds that got them there in the first place. You don’t get to then place them in a category of always having been an intractable atheist or just rule them out.

        I’m not familiar with anyone claiming that atheists, as a group, don’t or can’t change their minds. I’m sure there are some people out there who hold to that, but I can’t recall running across any.

        I’m not an atheist because it’s “my in-group.” In fact, “my in-group” is still my family and friends who believe. I’m an atheist in spite of that, because of logic and reason. I don’t debate here because I feel a part of this atheist group so much as I want other Christians to be exposed to the arguments (or lack thereof). I celebrate the atheists here not for their atheism, but for their reason, logic, knowledge and wit. Things that are often wanting in my theistic compatriots.

        In everyday life, it’s not like we define our friends by whether or not they are atheist, so the in-group thing kind of rings hollow for me, there, too.

        I’m not saying you’re an atheist because atheists are in one of your in-groups. (It’s not like we just have one in-group.)

        I’m not sure what you think I was trying to say with the in-group comment.

        • MR

          The direct response was it doesn’t seem to me that you factor in those points, or at least haven’t been, or I haven’t seen that you have. The rest is mostly musings.

          I suspect that in most cases, social and emotional factors (and so on) played a far bigger role in people’s (de)conversions than they think.

          True, but they are also running counter to social and emotional factors pulling in the other direction, so again, not an easy assessment, although some factors that probably aren’t running counter to deconversions are logic, reason and evidence. Hmmm. And, perhaps where you are from those social forces pull people toward atheism. I’ve not experienced that in countries I have been in, rather I see it vary from strong pulls toward belief to no pull, or simple neutrality.

          Regardless, I’d really want to see some numbers on atheists who have always been atheists and who strongly identify as atheists, as opposed to the atheists who were neutral or identified as theists and who changed their minds to become atheists and who are now too biased to change their minds back. It just strikes me a little odd because it’s almost like saying, oh you changed your mind, but maybe now you’re too biased to change your mind because now you’re an atheist. Ok.

          I dunno, maybe a round-earther is just too biased and too caught up in her identity as a round-earthist and the social pulls of the in-group of round-earthers that she is hindered from changing her mind to become a flat-earthist. I suspect the social and emotional factors related to this are a huge problem. =D

        • Susan

          maybe a round-earther is just too biased and too caught up in her identity as a round-earthist and the social pulls of the in-group of round-earthers that she is hindered from changing her mind to become a flat-earthist. I suspect the social and emotional factors related to this are a huge problem. =D

          You beat me to it. I was going to use homeopathy but flat-earthery does the trick.

          Yes. We all have cognitive issues. Yes. We are all prone to bias.

          But how many times have I asked a theist to support their position?

          To make a clear claim and to support it?

          And all you get back are fallacies, evasion and insults.

          This is snake oilery.

          If one wants to claim that bias is at work, it seems incumbent on one to show that they’ve made a good case, and when I refuse to accept that good case, that one of the possible reasons might be my bias.

          Then, they would have to show where my bias is distorting my view.

          That doesn’t happen.

          It’s just that they only have snake oil. Everything about it stinks of snake oil.

          This is from an indoctrinated catholic, and ex-general theist.

          There is no there there.

          There is nothing tribal about noting something that basic.

          Years of these discussions and nothing there.

        • MR

          Ha! You beat me to my, “there is no there, there.” My thought process had continued and I had jotted this down:

          Maybe, just maybe there’s no there, there, or that the bias is minimal like in round-earthism. I mean, to some degree, we all trust that what we’re being told about the sphericity of the earth is true. Few of us have actually tested the theory. If some credible evidence came out that a vast conspiracy was in fact true and the earth was indeed flat, I suspect that…, and again, this would be with credible evidence…, most of us could be swayed to believe credible evidence, and social and in-group bias would have minimal effect. Consider, too, that the biases of an in-group that promotes faith over logic, reason and evidence vs. an in-group that promotes logic, reason and evidence over faith are not going to have the same susceptibility to bias.

          That group that cherishes logic, reason and evidence is going to be less susceptible to bias by definition than a group that resorts to, as you noted, fallacies, evasion and insults.

          There is no there there.

          There is nothing tribal about noting something that basic.

          The first sentence bears repeating, so I included it.

          The second raises an interesting point in my mind. I don’t really think of atheism as tribal. I did try to go to an atheist meetup for a while, but shrugged it off before long. Christians, religions, have church, mass, temple. Atheists don’t get together like that. It’s not exactly an in-group.

          It’s kind of like the difference between Republicans and Democrats. I know so many Republicans who identify as Republicans. Democrats are kind of like a herd of cats. That one wants to save the whales, that one’s a tree hugger, that one wants to lower the deficit. They seem to me to be more issue driven and less party driven. There wasn’t a cult of Hillary like there is a cult of Trump. No, rallying of the troops and, whatever the party says goes! Atheists are kind of like that, it’s not Atheism they trumpet, it’s combating the issues that theism raises.

          It’s challenging them, if God exists, show me:

          And all you get back are fallacies, evasion and insults.

          This ^^^^^^ !

        • Ignorant Amos

          Few of us have actually tested the theory.

          Huh? It’s not exactly hard, for those that might take the notion to do so. Taking the obvious for granted doesn’t need warrenting. I live on the coast.

          https://www.popsci.com/10-ways-you-can-prove-earth-is-round/

          Of course solipsism would account for all that. I could be a brain in a vat. But then we are into “wtf?” territory.

          Atheists don’t get together like that. It’s not exactly an in-group.

          But the fact is, it can be. If that’s what one desires. There are indeed social gatherings and atheist get togethers. I imagine for those interested, they are in-groups. There are certainly in-groups of atheists on these blogs.

          Ryan Bell, who I mentioned earlier, is now a humanist chaplain, would ya believe?

          He currently serves as the National Organizing Manager for the Secular Student Alliance and as the Humanist Chaplain at the University of Southern California.

        • MR

          I’ve actually had coffee with Ryan. Nice guy.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I was going to use homeopathy but flat-earthery does the trick.

          I’m not sure the belief in both can be considered equivalent though. Belief in the former is in the millions. Belief in the later can be counted in the hundreds. At the very least, homeopathy works at the placebo level for some. So for those that homeopathy has worked for, even by placebo, there will be no talking to to the effect it is bunkum. Their evidence is sustained even though nonsense. Flat Earthers are on a whole different level of woo-woo. The Earth is never going to be demonstrated to be flat.

          As recently as 2017 homeopathy fuckwittery was available on the NHS ffs.

          https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/homeopathy/

        • ildi

          I’m realizing now that I just repeated points you made days ago; I guess I should read the comment more carefully.

        • Susan

          I’m realizing now that I just repeated points you made days ago.

          The more the merrier. I’m finding this discussion frustrating.

          I liked your contributions very much.

        • Grimlock

          I feel like I’m not getting my point across. So I’ll try to break it down a bit.

          1. All humans are susceptible to a range of biases in our decision-making process.
          2. For the most part, we are not aware of when we are being influenced by these biases.
          3. Some factors increase one’s susceptibility to being biased when evaluating some proposition P.
          4. Such factors can be, for instance, whether we already hold to a position regarding P, whether we want P to be true (or false), whether P is tied to a group-identity, or more generally to our identity, and whether we have invested time or resources in stuff related to P.
          5. Atheists are humans.
          6. Many atheists do not strongly identify as atheists.
          7. Atheists who spend time defending atheism, self-identify as atheists, or otherwise invest or identify with atheism is probably more susceptible to bias than other atheists. (Assuming P is related to religion or atheism.)

          Do you disagree with any of those?

          About flat earthers, Netflix has a nice documentary about them called “Behind the Curve”. It seems clear that it’s to a large extent the (partly online) flat earther-community that keeps them to their belief.

        • MR

          Oh, I think your point came across okay. It’s my point you keep ignoring. It’s almost like what you’re describing above is your own bias for your own theory. What it looks like to me is that you’ve factored in only the things that support your theory. To me the big picture is much more nuanced.

        • Grimlock

          I’m not really sure what your point is, to be honest. Would you mind trying to explain again?

        • MR

          Let me ask you about your own atheist experience. Are you one of those “sprung from the head of Zeus warrior” atheists, or did you believe at one time, considered the arguments, and then deconverted? What is your own motivation in arguing for atheism?

        • Grimlock

          Religion wasn’t really relevant as I grew up. Not in any of my social circles. I could never be said to have been a believer in any meaningful sense.

          My own motivations… Hmm, you mean those that I’m aware of, or would you prefer for me to speculate about the origins of my mental states that makes me do it?

          The ones I’m aware of would be that I find it fascinating for its own sake. Sort of like I would be discussing fantasy and scifi novels online a decade ago.

        • MR

          So, you’ve never crossed the line one way or another, correct? Belief Nonbelief

        • Grimlock

          Well, there might have been some naive childhood belief, in which all pantheons existed beside each other. But for simplicity’s sake, let’s say that you are indeed correct.

        • MR

          Well, no, that’s a nuance as well. So we have these HoZ atheists who can be broken down into “not influenced by religious culture” and those “influenced by the culture,” and from those a subset of HoZs who participate in such conversations, and of those who are susceptible to the bias you describe. Do you think there is a difference in susceptibility between HoZs who are influenced by religious culture and those who aren’t? Do you think there is a spectrum of susceptibility depending on the kind and amount of religious exposure?

        • Grimlock

          Everyone is susceptible to a number of biases. I’m not saying someone is susceptible and someone is not susceptible.

          I don’t know whether being merely exposed to a religious culture would sway biases in a particular way. I suppose that above a certain level, it becomes more relevant to self-identify as an atheist, and as such increase susceptibility to religious issues that challenge that identity. On the other hand, exposure to religious ideas might normalize certain ideas. Id say it could go either way.

          Getting a bit curious what point you’re getting at, for the record.

        • MR

          Yeah, I’ve started down a path that I can see is only going to be terribly tedious and boring. We’re already talking past each other. Bottom line: Your points don’t factor in my points, which I’ve stated elsewhere. Your use of the term atheist is so generalized as to be useless as far as I can see. There is much more nuance and many more factors that I believe you just are not taking into account; but at the same time, this is just not a topic that I’m particularly interested in spending a lot of time tediously hashing.

        • Grimlock

          Fair enough. A few final remarks from me, then.

          1. I either don’t get your point, or fail to see how what you say is supposed to have a significant impact on my point.

          2. I am usually criticized for having a too limited concept of atheism, as I prefer to think of atheism as the belief that there are no god(s). Bring critized for having too general a concept of atheism is refreshing.

          3. You have repeatedly made vague gestures to things either you or I have said elsewhere. To use your own phrasing, this is so vague as to be useless.

        • MR

          1. true, but others don’t seem to have the same problem
          2. I do think your concept of atheism is too limited. That’s why using the general term “atheist” doesn’t work.
          3. You have repeatedly ignored what I have said so to continue trying is useless.

        • Grimlock

          1. Perhaps these others could explain it to me, then.
          2. So my use of atheism is both too generalized and too limited? Huh. Good to know.
          3. Please be specific.

        • MR

          Sorry, Grim, I just don’t see the point.

        • Grimlock

          To each their own.

          If you change your mind, I’d be curious to see you rephrase my main point using your own words. I still suspect that I’m being taken to argue for a position that I don’t actually hold.

        • MR

          I don’t want to disabuse you of that out.

        • Grimlock

          Aww, ain’t you the cutest!

        • MR

          😉

        • Ignorant Amos

          Perhaps looking at belief in Santa Claus and the method used to nonbelief, would be a decent analogy.

        • Grimlock

          A decent analogy to what religious beliefs I might have held? Yes, I agree.

        • Susan

          1. All humans are susceptible to a range of biases in our decision-making process.

          Of course.

          2. For the most part, we are not aware of when we are being influenced by these biases.

          OK. But we can use methods to check for them, can’t we?

          3.

          Agreed.

          4. Such factors can be, for instance, whether we already hold to a position regarding P, whether we want P to be true (or false), whether P is tied to a group-identity, or more generally to our identity, and whether we have invested time or resources in stuff related to P

          Sure, but as MR has pointed out repeatedly, a large percentage of us are here because they filled our heads with unsubstantiated nonsense when we were vulnerable, and many of us, on investigating this nonsense, discovered through painstaking efforts (and often painful efforts) that there is no there there.

          5. Atheists are humans.

          Yes.

          6. Many atheists do not strongly identify as atheists.

          OK. Does that affect their bias?

          7. Atheists who spend time defending atheism, self-identify as atheists, or otherwise invest or identify with atheism is probably more susceptible to bias than other atheists. (Assuming P is related to religion or atheism.)

          I don’t agree. I don’t even agree with your terms. I’m not “defending atheism”. I’m asking people who make claims about gods to support those claims and they don’t. So, I don’t believe them.

          How does that make me more susceptible to bias? I was an indoctrinated catholic who discovered that there is no support whatsoever for the crap with which they indoctrinated me.

          That’s a main reason for our engagement. Ex-theists who didn’t start out that way but began a sincere investigation into the reasons people taught us this crap.

          Another is that a lot of harm is done by people who push their pet deity into politics. The consequences of their indifference to women, to homosexuals, to non-human living beings, etc. Because of unsubstantiated nonsense.

          Try this same approach with “Santa belief” and “non-Santa belief” and see if you would find it so interesting.

          One could raise the same concern about “bias” and most people in the room would wonder why you bothered.

        • Grimlock

          2. For the most part, we are not aware of when we are being influenced by these biases.

          OK. But we can use methods to check for them, can’t we?

          To a certain extent we can compensate, I think, yes. Though it’s probably advantageous with an attitude of both humility and acknowledgement of one’s own susceptibility to bias.

          Sure, but as MR has pointed out repeatedly, a large percentage of us are here because they filled our heads with unsubstantiated nonsense when we were vulnerable, and many of us, on investigating this nonsense, discovered through painstaking efforts (and often painful efforts) that there is no there there.

          What, precisely, is the relevant inference(s) that I’m supposed to draw from this?

          6. Many atheists do not strongly identify as atheists.

          OK. Does that affect their bias?

          Compared to those who strongly identity as atheists, and for stuff related to atheism or religion? Probably for some types of biases.

          I don’t agree. I don’t even agree with your terms. I’m not “defending atheism”. I’m asking people who make claims about gods to support those claims and they don’t. So, I don’t believe them.

          However you want to describe your engagement with these discussions.

          How does that make me more susceptible to bias? I was an indoctrinated catholic who discovered that there is no support whatsoever for the crap with which they indoctrinated me.

          How does being invested in a position/identifying with a group/strongly holding a position make you more susceptible to bias than not doing this?

          Pretty much the same way that, say, a Christian apologist will be biased with respect to their position.

          Try this same approach with “Santa belief” and “non-Santa belief” and see if you would find it so interesting.

          One could raise the same concern about “bias” and most people in the room would wonder why you bothered.

          I don’t understand what you’re getting at here.

        • Susan

          What, precisely, is the relevant inference(s) that I’m supposed to draw from this?

          That it wasn’t bias or group think that led me to realize that there is no support for god claims. The lack of support for god claims led me there.

          How does being invested in a position/identifying with a group/strongly holding a position make you more susceptible to bias than not doing this?

          Or there is just no support for god claims.

          I don’t undersand what you’re getting at here.

          That there is no support for Santa. Perhaps my lack of belief in Santa is connected to my tribal connection to aSantaists.

          Or perhaps it’s unreasonable to believe Santa exists.

          Why is a “god” so special?

        • Grimlock

          That it wasn’t bias or group think that led me to realize that there is no support for god claims. The lack of support for god claims led me there.

          Okay. Let’s be clear here. My main point is about how we as atheists engaged in online discussions now are susceptible to bias, not just because we are humans, but also because it’s a subject that we care about and we identify with a certain position.

          The process of deconversion is tangential to this.

          Do I think that the superior epistemic status of atheism was a major factor in your de conversion? I have no reason to doubt that.

          Do I think that a number of biases influenced that process, in both directions? Yes. Anything else would be, frankly, shocking.

          Do I think that you (or anyone else) can identify the influences of those biases, now, in retrospect? No. Because
          (i) biases are subconscious for the most part,
          (ii) we don’t have access to the source of our inner mental workings (ref. the introspection illusion), and
          (iii) we reconstruct our memories based on our current knowledge, beliefs, and attitudes. If the shift is as dramatic as it appears to have been, your current knowledge, beliefs, and attitudes are drastically different from what they were back then.

          Or there is just no support for god claims.

          The epistemic status of theism seems largely irrelevant to this.

          However, one of my numerous pet peeves is the insistence of how there is only evidence in favor of one position. I find it probable that there are piece of evidence that, in isolation, favor theism over atheism. Do you agree?

          That there is no support for Santa. Perhaps my lack of belief in Santa is connected to my tribal connection to aSantaists.

          Or perhaps it’s unreasonable to believe Santa exists.

          Why is a “god” so special?

          A better analogy would be Twilight fans who divided into Team Edward and Team [werewolf guy]. Those who strongly identify with Team Edward were probably biased when it came to evaluating evidence in favor of, uh, the other guy whose name has fortunately fled my mind. (Hopefully in favor of some more usual piece of trivia, such as more Pokémon names.)

          The fact that Twilight is, presumably, entirely fictional is not really that relevant for the existence of bias.

        • Ignorant Amos

          A better analogy would be Twilight fans who divided into Team Edward and Team [werewolf guy]. Those who strongly identify with Team Edward were probably biased when it came to evaluating evidence in favor of, uh, the other guy whose name has fortunately fled my mind. (Hopefully in favor of some more usual piece of trivia, such as more Pokémon names.)

          That reminds me of the extras for Game of Thrones. At the beginning of the series some seven/eight years ago, they were seperated into the various Houses and in an interview a long running extra who was House Stark spoke of the inter-rivalry of the extras, even when not filming, but between series. They’d meet in the pubs in Belfast and still hold a bias for their respective Houses.

          I’ve a few friends who were extras.

        • Grimlock

          That is awesome! Both the group identification, and that you know some of the extras.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The film location for Castle Black and the North Wall is 9 miles up the road from me.

          https://www.larnetimes.co.uk/business/game-of-thrones-set-at-magheramorne-to-open-as-tourist-attraction-1-8646588

        • Grimlock

          That’s really cool. Did you ever go try have a look while they were filming?

        • Ignorant Amos

          There was no getting near it….or any of the locations they used here in NI. The security was something else. Area 51 at Groom Lake would be easier.

        • Grimlock

          That’s too bad… But understandable!

        • Susan

          My main point is about how we as atheists engaged in online discussions now are susceptible to bias

          I’ll need you to be more specific here because of the next comment of yours which I’m going to blockquote.

          The epistemic status of theism seems largely irrelevant to this.

          Then you’re not talking about my bias influencing my evaluation of their arguments/evidence.

          I find it probable that there are piece of evidence that, in isolation, favor theism over atheism.

          I’m not sure how any piece of evidence in isolation can support the claim of an omnibeing. Which is the general claim of christianity, which is the main theistic position that gets examined here.

          I never read or watched Twilight.

          If you are concerned about bias, it seems incumbent that you be specific about the types of bias that concern you.

          Right now, this is very vague.

        • Pofarmer

          If you are concerned about bias, it seems incumbent that you be specific about the types of bias that concern you.

          Right now, this is very vague.

          Probably because it’s not very well thought out feel good mush. Kind of reminds me of Shem the Penman.

        • Susan

          I find it probable that there are piece of evidence that, in isolation, favor theism over atheism.

          Maybe, but I doubt it. Grimlock is no Shem the Penman. His history suggests that he is interested in discussion and wants to subject his thoughts to open discussion.

          Unlike Shem the Penman.

          There is also an interesting language angle. (Grimlock’s English is excellent but it’s not his first language, and it always makes me wonder what language structures are clouding things between and among us.)

          No. Grimlock doesn’t tend to proclaim things. He likes to open up discussions he finds interesting.

          Sometimes, it takes him a while to clarify his thoughts in comboxes.

        • Pofarmer

          I was thinking about this a little bit last night, actually. Grimlock is from a culture where religion was never really pushed on him, unlike the atmosphere in the U.S. and parts of Canada, Mexico, etc. I think that would probably really flavor ones attitudes about religion in general. Those of us who had to forcibly break out of the shell of religion and religious thought probably have a different perspective.

        • Grimlock

          That sounds plausible.

        • Grimlock

          Thanks, Susan.

          […] it always makes me wonder what language structures are clouding things between and among us.

          This probably happens less often than one would think, and more often than I’d like to admit.

        • Grimlock

          What is it that you think I’m saying that qualifies as “feel good”, and where am I saying it?

        • Pofarmer

          They’re biased, we’re biased, everybodies biased and who can know who’s right? Kumbaya.

        • Grimlock

          They’re biased, we’re biased, everybodies biased

          This is my stance. Do you disagree?

          and who can know who’s right? Kumbaya.

          This is not my stance. What gave you that impression?

          Also, thanks, now I’ll have the few parts of that song that I can remember stuck in my head the rest of the day.

        • Pofarmer

          I certainly disagree up to a point, yes. “Bias” doesn’t seem to be able to explain things like members of the clergy project, etc. It doesn’t explain hard core fundamentalists who become atheists. Hell, it doesn’t even explain someone like me, or most of the others who post on this blog. At some point it’s insulting to suggest that folks who put years of thought and great effort and personal loss into a position are operating off of “bias.”

        • Grimlock

          Wait. Do you think I’m saying that bias is the only factor in play?

        • Pofarmer

          You seem to be saying it’s the dominant one.

        • Grimlock

          Where do I seem to be saying that?

          Also still wondering what I wrote that made you think that my stance was the bold part here:

          They’re biased, we’re biased, everybodies biased and who can know who’s right? Kumbaya.

        • Pofarmer

          I’m with Susan.

        • Susan

          I’m with Susan.

          How do you know that’s not your bias talking? 🙂

          What Grimlock isn’t dealing with here is that the whole idea of bias coming into play is based on evidence. That’s where these studies have discovered our natural disposition to be biased. Unless they can show bias, they can’t claim it. Those studies are based on showing evidence for human bias.

          Grimlock hasn’t so far.

          So far, it appears to be handwaving, which for me, from Grimlock, is very disappointing. Especially since it seems to have been spawned from a discussion from ozarkmichael, who did nothing but make unsupportable claims and accusations from the get go.

          I also don’t like to be lumped in with an “atheist community”. I’m here to discuss and hear other people discuss ideas.

          The extent to which they take responsibility for and support their ideas is paramount to me.

          I give Chuck, Gary, Grimlock and others (all atheists) a hard time for proclaiming things if they don’t support them. And countless theists.

          I’ve noticed over the years how apologists shamelessly lie, block/ban and lie more about the people they ban on the subject of theism.

          I have repeatedly asked atheists and theists alike (mostly apologists, but that’s the nature of these discussions) “What are you claiming and how can you support it?”

          I have been gently and firmly corrected and instructed on various subjects by honest people.

          I’ve learned from that correction and instruction and I still have much to learn.

          I work hard to check my bias.

          But this is silly. There is no support for (god)s.

          I asked Grimlock to respond to the “plausibility” of (god)s because of “minds”.

          He ignored me.

          He could have shown me my bias. But he didn’t.

          Is that biased?

        • Grimlock

          Especially since it seems to have been spawned from a discussion from ozarkmichael,

          You’ll note I’m not the one who wanted to connect this with the discussion with OM. As I’ve referenced a couple of times already, we don’t really have access to the origin of our mental states and so on, but the more plausible main cause of this is that I’ve recently been in one of my everything about psychology is super-exciting phases.

        • Susan

          the more plausible main cause of this is that I’ve recently been in one of my everything about psychology is super-exciting phases.

          Well, OK then. 🙂

        • MR

          I think you’re going to have a hard time getting Grimlock past his own bias for his own theory.

        • Grimlock

          Say, what is my theory, exactly?

        • MR

          Well, that’s kind of Susan’s point, isn’t it?

        • Grimlock

          Well, that’s specific of you. Susan appears to have multiple points there, for instance,
          1. That I don’t show evidence for my claims.
          2. That the discussion was spawned off from a discussion with OM.
          3. That she doesn’t feel as though she’s part of an atheist community.

          So many points to choose from.

        • MR

          Shrug.

        • Grimlock

          Right then. I’ll leave you to your backseat whining.

        • MR

          I appreciate that.

        • Susan

          1. That I don’t show evidence for my claims.

          You haven’t yet. I’ve asked you for specific concerns about specific behaviours that atheists demonstrate when you infer that there is a biased position in the community.

          If you don’t, it’s time to drop the discussion until you can.

          You just keep pointing to concepts with which many of us are familiar.

          You could have used for instance, the position that theists are mentally ill.

          But you would have a problem because atheists who take that position tend to get jumped on by other atheists (in the “communities” in which I participate).

          But it would be an example of what you seem to be trying to get at.

          the discussion was spawned off from a discussion with OM.

          The wounds are still fresh there. But I’m happy to accept that it has nothing to do with that.

          That she doesn’t feel that she’s part of an atheist community.

          I said I don’t like being lumped in with “the atheist community.”

          I explained what my motivation is when I participate in these conversations. (They filled my head with horrible nonsense as a child, when I was too young to protect myself… and there are powerful theistic movements against real living beings on this planets, all based on unsupported nonsense.)

          That makes me an atheist (igtheist) participating in these discussions.

          Theists make unsupported claims about god(s). I ask them to support those claims. They don’t. I ask them again.

          Etc.

          If you can show me where they make claims about (god)s that they support and my bias prevents me from acknowledging those claims, then we can have a discussion about bias.

        • Grimlock

          See this comment for why I see no reason for continuing this discussion with you.

          ETA: Weird link error.

        • Grimlock

          Consider your pattern of attributing to me positions that I don’t hold, and then neglecting to say what I wrote that gave you that impression… Should I put much weight on your opinion in this matter?

        • Pofarmer

          I really don’t give a fuck.

        • ildi

          You seem to be saying it’s the dominant one.

          Where do I seem to be saying that?

          Let’s see:

          As far as I can tell, one of the most important factor that determines whether some belief is hard to change is to what extent that belief is a part of a person’s identity. So, for the atheist who, say, spends a decent amount of time discussing religion and defending atheism (e.g. myself), will be quite susceptible to confirmation bias and so on.

          I agree that atheists are, to some extent, open to evidence. But I don’t think that atheists are not influenced by biases. In-group psychology is just one factor that strengthens biases.

          And my point is that atheists such as ourselves, who invest time in discussing this online, and thus plausibly have atheism as some part of our identity, will be susceptible to the biases that are rooted in perceived attacks on our identity.

          Atheists who spend time defending atheism, self-identify as atheists, or otherwise invest or identify with atheism is probably more susceptible to bias than other atheists. (Assuming P is related to religion or atheism.)

          In general, if you strongly identify with a position, or prefer that position, or some such, you will have a harder time objectively (to the extent that that’s even possible) assessing evidence that deals with that position. Either for or against. Atheists are not some special exception from this.

          That being said, I’m pretty darned confident that bias and rationalization (both before, during, and after the (de)conversion happens) plays a role when someone considers their stance. To varying degrees.

          My main point is about how we as atheists engaged in online discussions now are susceptible to bias, not just because we are humans, but also because it’s a subject that we care about and we identify with a certain position.

        • Grimlock

          Upvoted because you are the first to respond to one of my “Where do I seem to be saying that?” queries.

          Right. Consider the following two propositions:

          P1: Bias is the dominant factor in play.
          P2: Bias is a strong factor in play.

          These are different, yeah? P2 follows from P1, but P1 does not follow from P2.

          Now, the quotes you cite appears to not contradict either propositions, but as these presumably were selected specifically to support P1, one would expect P1 to follow from the parts cited. It does not. Let’s take the quotes one by one.

          As far as I can tell, one of the most important factor that determines whether some belief is hard to change is to what extent that belief is a part of a person’s identity. So, for the atheist who, say, spends a decent amount of time discussing religion and defending atheism (e.g. myself), will be quite susceptible to confirmation bias and so on.

          Note the bold part. “One of”. If my position is that it’s the most important factors, that would be a rather peculiar way of phrasing myself.

          I agree that atheists are, to some extent, open to evidence. But I don’t think that atheists are not influenced by biases. In-group psychology is just one factor that strengthens biases.

          This “to some extent” part is a bit vague, so I see how that one could be interpreted to mean that it’s a small part (and thus, I guess, that bias plays a big part). But that’s an interpretation that’s a bit, well, speculative.

          And my point is that atheists such as ourselves, who invest time in discussing this online, and thus plausibly have atheism as some part of our identity, will be susceptible to the biases that are rooted in perceived attacks on our identity.

          Atheists who spend time defending atheism, self-identify as atheists, or otherwise invest or identify with atheism is probably more susceptible to bias than other atheists. (Assuming P is related to religion or atheism.)

          That someone is susceptible to something, say a bias, only means that they’re capable of being influenced by it. It does not follow that this is even a major factor.

          If group A is more susceptible to group B, that’s only a relative difference, and doesn’t imply an absolute level of susceptibility.

          In general, if you strongly identify with a position, or prefer that position, or some such, you will have a harder time objectively (to the extent that that’s even possible) assessing evidence that deals with that position. Either for or against. Atheists are not some special exception from this.

          Having a harder time objectively assessing something is, again, a comparison and not an absolute measure. It doesn’t then follow that bias will be the major factor in determining the conclusion one reaches.

          That being said, I’m pretty darned confident that bias and rationalization (both before, during, and after the (de)conversion happens) plays a role when someone considers their stance. To varying degrees.

          Plays a role. Technically consistent with playing the major role, but once again a weird way of phrasing it if that’s my actual stance.

          My main point is about how we as atheists engaged in online discussions now are susceptible to bias, not just because we are humans, but also because it’s a subject that we care about and we identify with a certain position.

          “Susceptible to”. Quite different from “the dominant factor in evaluating this stuff is bias”.

          To summarize, out of the seven quotes you selected specifically to demonstrate that my stance is that the dominant factor is bias, one can be interpreted as such if you squint hard enough.

          So I hope you can see why I’m having a hard time taking much (or any) blame for someone thinking that my position is that bias is the dominant factor.

        • Grimlock

          My main point is about how we as atheists engaged in online discussions now are susceptible to bias

          I’ll need you to be more specific here because of the next comment of yours which I’m going to blockquote.

          The epistemic status of theism seems largely irrelevant to this.

          Then you’re not talking about my bias influencing my evaluation of their arguments/evidence.

          You want an example. That’s fair. The most well known is probably confirmation bias. To quote Wikipedia,

          “Confirmation bias is the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that affirms one’s prior beliefs or hypotheses.[1] It is a type of cognitive bias and a systematic error of inductive reasoning. People display this bias when they gather or remember information selectively, or when they interpret it in a biased way. The effect is stronger for desired outcomes, for emotionally charged issues, and for deeply-entrenched beliefs.”

          Regarding the idea of evidence, and evidence favoring theism, see this response to ildi.

          Regarding Twilight, the analogy was simply intended to convey the fact that people can be biased about evaluating evidence, even though the position is about an entirely fictional scenario.

        • Susan

          You want an example.

          Yes. I am well aware of confirmation bias. I’m asking you to provide examples where, in my case, for instance, it has interfered with my evaluating theist positions unfairly.

          People display this bias when they gather or remember information selectively, or when they interpret it in a biased way.

          Sure. I know.

          For instance?

          I’m heavily influenced by the style of arguments that Jeffrey Lowder uses, where one considers one aspect of the world (say, the existence of minds) and compared whether that is more plausible on naturalism or theism.

          I don’t see why it’s more plausible on theism. What do you mean?

          But it does allow for at least being open to acknowledge that yes, this thing about the world makes more sense of your view.

          I have been open and theism doesn’t make more sense. Explain why minds should more “plausibly” imply theism.

          You need to be specific, Grimlock. It’s not interesting if people have to chase your ideas around, wondering what the heck you’re suggesting.

        • Grimlock

          If you want examples of how you, specifically, are influenced by bias, then you’re setting a standard that it’s impossible for me to meet. If you don’t want to have a general discussion about biases, and their influences, then that’s too bad.

          If you think you are not influenced by bias – presumably while being aware of the bias blind spot bias and the introspection illusion – then any further discussion about this is futile.

          Regarding the methodology of evidence, do you agree or disagree with that general approach? Do you agree that it allows for false positions to have evidence in its favor? Let’s settle that before moving on to specifics.

          You need to be specific, Grimlock. It’s not interesting if people have to chase your ideas around, wondering what the heck you’re suggesting.

          Perhaps. Or perhaps you wouldn’t feel like you had to chase the ideas if you spent more effort on understanding what I was saying in the first place.

        • Susan

          If you want examples of how you, specifically, are influenced by bias, then you’re setting a standard that it’s impossible for me to meet. If you don’t want to have a general discussion about biases, and their influences, then that’s too bad.

          Then, give me an example of problematic bias in general when it comes to evaluating theist positions.

          If you think you are not influenced by bias

          I don’t.

          Regarding the methodology of evidence, do you agree or disagree with that general approach?

          You’ll have to explain what you mean by “the methodology of evidence”.

          Let’s settle that before moving on to specifics.

          Let’s start with specifics, Grimlock. You’re being terribly unclear while handwaving to various links about bias with which many of us are familiar.

          If you want to talk about bias in the atheist community, you’ll have to give specific examples.

          perhaps you wouldn’t feel like you had to chase ideas if you spent more effort on understanding what I was saying in the first place

          That’s completely unfair. People have made efforts to guess what you’re trying to say and you haven’t done anything to clarify. Also, I’ve asked you for specific cases and you’ve provided none.

          I’ve run out of ideas and energy.

        • Pofarmer

          “ve run out of ideas and energy.”

          With you.

        • MR

          I’ve run out of ideas and energy.

          Has hecho mejor que yo, tia.

        • Susan

          Gracias. No mejor que tu. Has hecho muy bien. como los otros.

          Es que estoy empezando de creer que es
          hora de que nos rendarnos.

        • ildi

          What’s funny about this is Grimlock seems to want to have it both ways: on the one hand, Grimlock is claiming that people who strongly identify with a position counter to what Grimlock is saying are simply going to have a harder time objectively assessing his position (if they’re able to at all) but also too people are just not expending enough effort to understand what he’s saying.

        • Susan

          Grimlock is claiming that people who strongly identify with a position counter to what Grimlock is saying are simply going to have a harder time objectively assessing his position (if they’re able to at all) but also too people are just not expending enough effort to understand what he’s saying.

          I’m not sure that’s the case, but I agree that as long as we’re forced to guess, it seems to be the case.

          We’re forced to guess and so far, he says our guesses are wrong.

          But he hasn’t made any progress (or even seemed to attempt to make progress) on what he’s specifically getting at.

        • Grimlock

          Grimlock is claiming that people who strongly identify with a position counter to what Grimlock is saying are simply going to have a harder time objectively assessing his position

          Actually, my main point is that people who agree with me (including myself) are influenced by their biases.

          […] but also too people are just not expending enough effort to understand what he’s saying.

          Actually, I’m getting a bit tired of people attributing to me opinions I don’t hold, and then being utterly unable to point to where I allegedly claimed to hold such a position.

        • Grimlock

          ETA 2 minutes later: Fixed some HTML codes.

          Then, give me an example of problematic bias in general when it comes to evaluating theist positions.

          I already did. Confirmation bias.

          I don’t.

          Well, whoop-de-doo.

          You’ll have to explain what you mean by “the methodology of evidence”.

          The one I outlined previously, and cite here:

          Now, about the part about evidence. I’m heavily influenced by the style of arguments that Jeffrey Lowder uses, where one considers one aspect of the world (say, the existence of minds) and compared whether that is more plausible on naturalism or theism.

          This doesn’t mean that a single piece of evidence is sufficiently to be conclusive either way – I don’t think it is, in general. But it does allow for at least being open to acknowledge that yes, this thing about the world makes more sense of your view.

          Of course, this is typically conditional on our background knowledge. And we don’t all have the same background knowledge.

          An example might be back when the steady state theory was a actual option to the big bang model. There were evidence in favor of both models, even though at some point our evidence changed sufficiently so that the big bang model was by far the more plausible option.

          If this is too vague, let me know what is unclear, and I’ll elaborate.

          Let’s start with specifics, Grimlock. You’re being terribly unclear while handwaving to various links about bias with which many of us are familiar.

          If you want to talk about bias in the atheist community, you’ll have to give specific examples.

          It’s interesting to note that you’re being remarkably silent about the utter lack of specificity of people who claim I said something, but don’t provide a simple link to where I said it.

          Let’s take another tack. Here are some propositions:

          1. The more strongly you hold to a position, then in general, you are more susceptible to (at least some) cognitive biases regarding evidence for or against this position.

          Based on previous comments, you appear to agree with (1).

          2. Atheist A who hold more strongly to a position of disbelief/lack of belief/unbelief than atheist B is, in general, more susceptible to (at least some) cognitive biases regarding evidence for or against this position of disbelief/lack of belief/unbelief.

          Do you agree with this? Or is there some difference between (1) and (2) that I’m missing.

          The thing is, I don’t really care about establishing specific instances of bias beyond this general idea. Because it will be to a large extent speculation.

          You need to be specific, Grimlock. It’s not interesting if people have to chase your ideas around, wondering what the heck you’re suggesting.

          Perhaps. Or perhaps you wouldn’t feel like you had to chase ideas if you spent more effort on understanding what I was saying in the first place.

          That’s completely unfair. People have made efforts to guess what you’re trying to say and you haven’t done anything to clarify.

          Oh, so you can be critical of my approach, but I can’t be critical of yours? That seems totally fair.

          Also, the claim that I haven’t done anything to clarify is blatantly false.

          Let’s see. Here are some disproofs of your claim that I “haven’t done anything to clarify”. Please retract your statement in the face of overwhelming disconfirming evidence.
          (i) Rephrased and broken down my initial position in order to try to identify where the disagreement lies.
          (ii) Played along with MR’s line of questioning in order to try to understand MR’s point.
          (iii) Suggested that someone rephrase my position using their own words, as it’s a useful technique for identifying misunderstandings.
          (iv) Here’s another case of me trying to rephrase my position.
          (v) Making a (small) correction to someone trying to phrase my position using their own words.
          (vi) Correction a whole bunch of misunderstandings, and elaborating on some stuff that someone didn’t find sufficiently clear.
          (vii) Trying to understand where I said something that gave an erronous impression of my position.
          (viii) Same as (vii).

          Also, I’ve asked you for specific cases and you’ve provided none.

          As pointed out above, I’m talking about the general case. An analogy might be to the case of miracles. Do we need to provide an accurate and non-miraculous description of events for every miracle claim out there in order to demonstrate that it was not a miracle? I think not. Excluding an overwhelming amount of evidence for a particular evidence, appeals to our background knowledge, and a general analysis of miracle claims, is typically sufficient to dismiss miracle claims.

          Similarly, a general analysis of cognitive biases is, excepting overwhelming evidence that atheists are somehow a special subset of humans immune to biases, sufficient to establish our general susceptibility.

        • Susan

          Confirmation bias.

          I mean give me an example of confirmaion bias as a general case among non-theists.

          Well, whoop-de-doo.

          You asked. I answered. I wasn’t asking for balloons and a cake.

          The one I outlined previously.

          I asked you how “minds existing is more plausible on theism.” You haven’t answered. I’m listening. Until you explain why, it is not my bias talking. It’s the lack of support for such a claim.

          Similarly, a general analysis of cognitive biases is, excepting overwhelming evidence that atheists are somehow a special subset of humans immune to biases

          No one here has claimed that atheist are a special subset of anything.

          Any more than non-homeopaths are.

          If you are suggesting that not accepting homeopathy or the existence of some nebulous agent(s) that is (are) referred to as god(gods) is because of bias, you are going to have to show your work.

        • Grimlock

          I think this exchange is running to a close.

          Here’s where I think the discussion itself stands from my point of view: You seem to accept that holding a position strongly increases susceptibility to bias. Also, you do not want to argue that atheists are some special subset of this. Yet, you do not want to acknowledge that atheists who hold strongly to their position have an increased susceptibility to bias.

          This is puzzling to me.

          When I try to explain what I mean by evidence, you refuse to acknowledge whether you accept the general approach. I first want to know whether we can use that framework for talking about evidence. However, at this point I don’t even know if you accept that in principle there can be evidence that favors a false position.

          However, what makes me think any further discussion on this is futile is something else entirely. Let me first remind you what you said to OM a few months back:

          You accused me of “crowing triumphantly” when I clearly didn’t do that, and you took no responsibility for those accusations.

          You entered this discussion accusing me of accusing Uncouth Angel and of crowing triumphantly. Neither of which I did. You provided no support for those accusations. All I did was ask you to retract them until you could support them. You have not supported them. You should retract them. This is basic to honest discussion.

          (Emphasis mine.)

          (Digression: Have you noticed how several times in this discussion, I have been attributed some positions that I don’t hold, yet when I’ve inquired as to where I have expressed such positions, no justification has been forthcoming? I hope that means you can relate to my frustration with certain interlucors who have done precisely that to me.)

          I didn’t ask for an apology. I asked for a retraction. You appeared here accusing me of doing things I did not do (i.e. “accusing” Uncouth Angel and “crowing triumphantly”) neither of which I did. You have failed to support those accusations ever since you made them. That’s why you should retract them. They are unfounded.

          (Emphasis mine.)

          You can accuse anyone you like if you can support those accusations.

          Your first post here was to accuse me of “accusing Uncouth Angel” and to accuse me of “crowing triumphantly”.

          I have challenged you more than once to show me where I did that and you have produced nothing.

          In which case, you should retract those accusations.

          They are completely unfounded.

          I have nothing to apologize for. You’re making stuff up in order to avoid your burden. You accused me of one thing for which the evidence directly contradicts your accusation. You know that now. That’s where a reasonable interlocutor would say “Oops! I was wrong.”

          As to the rest of the accusations, you’ve provided no evidence to support them.

          You have access to the whole discussion I had with UA and I challenge you to show me where I did anything you accused me of e.g. “crowing triumphantly”.

          If you can’t, then retract it. That’s how civilized people discuss things.

          (Emphasis mine.)

          You get the idea, I’m sure. You made it quite clear that unfounded or falsified accusations should be retracted.

          Now, then, you made the following claim about me:

          People have made efforts to guess what you’re trying to say and you haven’t done anything to clarify.

          To which I responded with this:

          (i) Rephrased and broken down my initial position in order to try to identify where the disagreement lies.
          (ii) Played along with MR’s line of questioning in order to try to understand MR’s point.
          (iii) Suggested that someone rephrase my position using their own words, as it’s a useful technique for identifying misunderstandings.
          (iv) Here’s another case of me trying to rephrase my position.
          (v) Making a (small) correction to someone trying to phrase my position using their own words.
          (vi) Correction a whole bunch of misunderstandings, and elaborating on some stuff that someone didn’t find sufficiently clear.
          (vii) Trying to understand where I said something that gave an erronous impression of my position.
          (viii) Same as (vii).

          Did you retract your claim in the face of disconfirmation? No. You ignored it.

          This leaves me with little to no expectations that you will in fact concede any point during this exchange of ours.

        • Susan

          I think this exchange is running to a close.

          I think so too.

          You seem to accept that holding a position strongly increases susceptibility to bias.

          Yes. Does that hold true when one doesn’t accept an unsupported position? For instance, if I don’t accept homeopathy, does that mean that I’m holding a position that increases my susceptibility to bias?

          Or if I don’t believe in Santa Claus?

          Also, you do not want to argue that atheists are some special subset of this.

          Of course not. Atheists are people who don’t accept god claims. That doesn’t mean they aren’t susceptible to all the problems humans have with cognitive bias.

          Where you and I (and you and others) keep missing each other is on the subject of theism.

          I’ve asked you to provide specific examples of cognitive bias affecting our position on god claims. Maybe I (and others) haven’t phrased that in a way that made that clear for you, but that’s where the miscommunication lies.

          you do not want to acknowledge that atheists who hold strongly to their position have an increased susceptibility to bias.

          On the subject of god belief? Please give me an example of bias generally distorting a non-believer’s ability to evaluate theist claims on the subject of god(s).

          I mean it. That’s all I’m asking. A specific incident or general behaviour that can be evaluated for the sort of bias you seem to be trying to discuss.

          Digression: Have you noticed how several times in this discussion, I have been attributed some positions that I don’t hold,

          It’s not a digression. It’s important if that’s what you think people were doing, to bring it up. But in many (if not most) cases, the word seems was used carefully because people are trying to understand what specific behaviours, with examples, you are trying to discuss.

          You haven’t been clear because you haven’t presented a single example of the problem which you raised. You’ve brought up categories of possible human bias, but no specific examples of those behaviours.

          I read every one of those comments in discussion that you hyperlinked just now and I read them again as hyperlinks.

          And all I’ve asked you for is an example of “atheist” bias when it comes to evaluating god claims.

          So, that we can check it for bias.

          You could elaborate on the “mind” thing, which you brought up.

          I don’t see how minds are more probable on theism but you implied it might be my bias affecting my thinking there. But you’d have to show the argument/evidence and then show how I’m missing its strength due to bias.

          I gave another example of some atheists claiming that theists are mentally ill, but that’s not a claim that holds weight among atheists with whom I have on-line conversations. Or that theists are stupid. Or inherently immoral, etc. Those comments tend to get called out by other atheists who know it’s unsupported bullshit.

          Did you retract your comment in the face of disconfirmation?

          It was not disconfirmed. And it wasn’t an accusation. It was a desperate plea (and a repeated one) for a specific and/or general example of that the behaviour to which you seem to be alluding. .

        • Grimlock

          You stated that I haven’t done anything to clarify (“People have made efforts to guess what you’re trying to say and you haven’t done anything to clarify.”). This is clearly false, as I have done things to clarify. Successfully, for you? Clearly not. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t done anything to clarify.

          Retract your statement. Otherwise, I suspect this will be the last constructive contribution from me to you in this discussion.

          With respect to framing an atheist position, online atheists clearly hold to some pertinent position. Whether they frame that position as not accepting a claim or some such, that is still a position. As such, an increased susceptibility to bias comes into play when such a position is held more strongly.

          With respect to specific examples, as you keep demanding, that appears to be a flawed request. Do I think that there is some aspect of the discussions of religion and atheism that is always taken primarily due to bias? No. Clearly not. Do I think that bias comes into play in a variety of cases? Sure. Can we point to a specific case, and say that certainly, that case is due to bias? No.

          You mention one case (how some atheists claim that religious folks are mentally ill – “deluded” is a frequent term), but that deals with biased opinions against religious folks. Not with weighing the evidence again theism. Regardless, considering how we find it easier to think badly of out-groups members, it does look like a good example of how atheists can be susceptible to bias in a different way than with respect to evidence. Now, obviously this doesn’t mean that all atheists think so, or even that when an atheist holds such an opinion that it is due primarily to bias. Thinking that would obviously be silly – in every specific case of someone holding an opinion, there is always (well, maybe some exceptions in principle) the possibility that they are merely mistaken.

          A better example of an area where, shall we say, engaged atheists are more susceptible to bias with respect to evidence might be the example that MR mentioned of Jesus mythicism.

          It’s not a digression. It’s important if that’s what you think people were doing, to bring it up. But in many (if not most) cases, the word seems was used carefully because people are trying to understand what specific behaviours, with examples, you are trying to discuss.

          So, if I use the phrase “seem to” (or some such), I can attribute any weird idea to people, and not feel any obligation to explain how I came to hold that impression? Something like that? Yeah, I don’t buy into that.

          You could elaborate on the “mind” thing, which you brought up.

          I don’t see how minds are more probable on theism but you implied it might be my bias affecting my thinking there. But you’d have to show the argument/evidence and then show how I’m missing its strength due to bias.

          How did I imply that?

          Anyhow. I’ll try to get this clarified one final time: Do you accept that an ultimately false position can have evidence in its favor?

          If your answer to that is ‘yes’, we can move on. If your answer to that is ‘no’, then there’s no point in me trying to explain how a specific piece of evidence might weigh in theism’s favor.

          For instance, if I don’t accept homeopathy, does that mean that I’m holding a position that increases my susceptibility to bias?

          If you hold to that opinion strongly, engage in discussions on the subject, had a rough way out of being a very eager homeopathic practitioner, and so on? Probably.

          That doesn’t mean that you wouldn’t hold to valid reasons for rejecting homeopathy. But you might also hold to some invalid reasons for rejecting homeopathy. (There are, after all, such a thing as holding the right position for the wrong reasons.)

        • Susan

          Grimlock, this has gotten very weird. I have made efforts to communicate as I’m sure you have. I don’t know where to go from here.

          You stated that I haven’t done anything to clarify (“People have made efforts to guess what you’re trying to say and you haven’t done anything to clarify.”). This is clearly false, as I have done things to clarify.

          This has become a language issue. And I take responsibility for it. When I said that you haven’t done anything to clarify your point, I didn’t mean that you haven’t made any effort but that you haven’t been specific enough to move the conversation (that you seem to want to have) along.

          Successfully, for you? Clearly not. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t done anything to clarify.

          I agree. You haven’t done the thing that I keep asking you to do. To make specific points which can be evaluated for bias.

          With respect to framing an atheist position, online atheists clearly hold to some pertinent position. Whether they frame that position as not accepting a claim or some such, that is still a position

          Yes. And I’d like you to give specific examples of a sort of bias that concerns you.

          As such, an increased susceptibility to bias comes into play when such a position is held more strongly.

          Which position? To what strength of that position are you referring? What specific concerns about bias are you seeing?

          Until you address that, I’m not sure where to begin or to what I should respond.

          Do I think that there is some aspect of the discussions of religion and atheism that is always taken primarily due to bias? No. Clearly not.

          I wasn’t asking you for an always situation. I was asking you for specific points of concern.

          Do I think that bias comes into play in a variety of cases? Sure

          And I keep asking you to present a case for evaluation. That would further the discussion.

          Can we point to a specific case, and say that certainly, that case is due to bias? No.

          I wasn’t asking you for certainty. I was asking you for specific examples that concern you.

          But you might also hold to some invalid reasons for rejecting homeopathy.

          And all I’m asking you to do is to cite some specific concerns about those invalid reasons.

          (There are, after all, such a thing as holding the right positions for the wrong reasons.)

          Of course. But you have to show that I (or in general) the non-homeopathic community is holding to the right concerns for the wrong reasons.

          The “possibility” that that’s the case is worth considering.

          But you have to make your case.

          I want to let you have the last word.

          I hope you address my efforts to communicate here. I know we’ve both tried very hard. But it’s just getting worse.

        • ildi

          Atheists who spend time defending atheism, self-identify as atheists, or otherwise invest or identify with atheism is probably more susceptible to bias than other atheists.

          This sounds like you’re implying by “susceptible to bias” that strongly-identifying atheists ignore or discount evidence for a god or gods because such evidence conflicts with group-identity or what such atheists want to be true?

        • Grimlock

          I thought I was stating, and not implying. But I try to be cautious in what I state, so any ambiguity might be fairly placed on my shoulders.

          I’m not saying quite what you wrote, but close.

          In general, if you strongly identify with a position, or prefer that position, or some such, you will have a harder time objectively (to the extent that that’s even possible) assessing evidence that deals with that position. Either for or against. Atheists are not some special exception from this.

          Group identity can be one cause of that, yes.

        • ildi

          In general, if you strongly identify with a position, or prefer that position, or some such, you will have a harder time objectively (to the extent that that’s even possible) assessing evidence that deals with that position. Either for or against. Atheists are not some special exception from this.

          From your other comments, it sounds like you think that arriving at atheism vs. theism are equally valid positions arrived at by subconscious biases and rationalized after the fact. In general, I agree with you that people tend to think of themselves and their decision making as much more logical and based on evidence than they really are. I’m sure you’d say that I’m just reconstructing my memories (and how can one argue with a statement like that?) but I was continually taken aback to examine what I thought was evidence (in this case for Christianity) to find that it didn’t stand up under closer inspection. Do we mean different things by evidence?

          However, one of my numerous pet peeves is the insistence of how there is only evidence in favor of one position. I find it probable that there are piece of evidence that, in isolation, favor theism over atheism. Do you agree?

          The thing is, though they both can’t be right (unless you’re arguing that reality is an individual social construct); either theism is wrong or atheism is wrong. If there is evidence for theism that automatically negates atheism. I also have an issue with how you define the position. To borrow from OM, platonic theism doesn’t exist in the real world; every theist has a specific god in mind, with sometime widely differing qualities and expectations. How are you defining theism? What do you think evidence for this theism would look like? What do you mean by evidence that favors theism in isolation?

          I’m also curious; does your pet peeve extend to other cases where people state there is only evidence in favor of one position, for example, flat earth vs round earth? Do you think both positions are equally valid and people who are round earthers are just unable to objectively assess the evidence for a flat earth?

          Finally:

          A better analogy would be Twilight fans who divided into Team Edward and Team [werewolf guy].

          That seems like a horrible analogy. I mean, unlike Team Edward vs. Team Jacob, the flavor of religious belief has enormous consequences on people’s lives. It would be one thing if religion was as innocuous as belief in aliens or Bigfoot, but it’s not. I didn’t start off as an atheist; I started off questioning why people who were reading the same book and supposedly followed the same god had such wildly diverging views of his nature and his expectations. At the same period in my life, I started training as a scientist: “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself – and you are the easiest person to fool.”

        • Grimlock

          Interesting comment, thanks.

          From your other comments, it sounds like you think that arriving at atheism vs. theism are equally valid positions arrived at by subconscious biases and rationalized after the fact. In general, I agree with you that people tend to think of themselves and their decision making as much more logical and based on evidence than they really are. I’m sure you’d say that I’m just reconstructing my memories (and how can one argue with a statement like that?) but I was continually taken aback to examine what I thought was evidence (in this case for Christianity) to find that it didn’t stand up under closer inspection. Do we mean different things by evidence?

          First off, I do not think that atheism are equally valid positions. I’ve mentioned a couple of times in this discussion that atheism is a superior epistemic position to theism, by which I mean that I think that atheism is more plausible than theism, and that atheism is more probably true than theism. God(s) probably doesn’t exist.

          That being said, I’m pretty darned confident that bias and rationalization (both before, during, and after the (de)conversion happens) plays a role when someone considers their stance. To varying degrees.

          With respect to memories, while I’m no expert, my understanding of memories is that they are reconstructed every time we summon them. We create a model of precious incidents. When we reconstruct the memories, our current beliefs and attitudes influences the construction of the model that, uh, models what we think happened.

          What this means is not that our memories are always wrong, or impossible to trust. But it does introduce an element of uncertainty, and – as you say – we do usually like to think of ourselves as more rational than we are.

          I’ll say to you as I said to Susan, I have no reason to doubt that you came to your atheism through a process where accurately (more or less) assessing the evidence played a major part.

          The thing is, though they both can’t be right (unless you’re arguing that reality is an individual social construct); either theism is wrong or atheism is wrong. If there is evidence for theism that automatically negates atheism. I also have an issue with how you define the position. To borrow from OM, platonic theism doesn’t exist in the real world; every theist has a specific god in mind, with sometime widely differing qualities and expectations. How are you defining theism? What do you think evidence for this theism would look like? What do you mean by evidence that favors theism in isolation?

          In case it was not clear from the previous part, I don’t think atheism and theism can both be true (unless someone is playing semantic games with the definitions).

          Now, about the part about evidence. I’m heavily influenced by the style of arguments that Jeffrey Lowder uses, where one considers one aspect of the world (say, the existence of minds) and compared whether that is more plausible on naturalism or theism.

          This doesn’t mean that a single piece of evidence is sufficiently to be conclusive either way – I don’t think it is, in general. But it does allow for at least being open to acknowledge that yes, this thing about the world makes more sense of your view.

          Of course, this is typically conditional on our background knowledge. And we don’t all have the same background knowledge.

          An example might be back when the steady state theory was a actual option to the big bang model. There were evidence in favor of both models, even though at some point our evidence changed sufficiently so that the big bang model was by far the more plausible option.

          I’m also curious; does your pet peeve extend to other cases where people state there is only evidence in favor of one position, for example, flat earth vs round earth? Do you think both positions are equally valid and people who are round earthers are just unable to objectively assess the evidence for a flat earth?

          Oh, that is a good question!

          Clearly, I don’t think either position is equally valid. I do think that given some people’s background knowledge, there would be some evidence that favors a flat earth. There might be some with respect to my own background knowledge as well, though I’m not sufficiently familiar with the alleged evidence for a flat earth to provide an example.

          Did that clear up what I mean by how evidence might favor a position that I do indeed think is false?

          That seems like a horrible analogy. I mean, unlike Team Edward vs. Team Jacob, the flavor of religious belief has enormous consequences on people’s lives. It would be one thing if religion was as innocuous as belief in aliens or Bigfoot, but it’s not. I didn’t start off as an atheist; I started off questioning why people who were reading the same book and supposedly followed the same god had such wildly diverging views of his nature and his expectations. At the same period in my life, I started training as a scientist: “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself – and you are the easiest person to fool.”

          The horribleness of the analogy depends a bit on what I want to demonstrate with it. My aim was merely to point out that bias can play a role in weighing evidence in favor of some position, even if one thinks that the position is about something that’s entirely fictional.

        • Grimlock

          From your other comments, it sounds like you think that arriving at atheism vs. theism are equally valid positions arrived at by subconscious biases

          Any chance you could point me to the specific parts of what I’ve written that gave you this impression?

        • ildi

          I read through your comments again and what I’m hearing you say, to generalize, is that anyone who holds a strong opinion is influenced by subconscious biases that are unidentifiable which keep them from being able to evaluate evidence contradicting their opinion objectively. In my mind that puts you in the post-modern category, which is fine, but to me it’s the same as the arguments of whether free will exists; the reality seems to be that people who believe in free will seem to have more control of their environments whether free will actually exists per se?

          Anyhow, with regards to the online atheism discussion, you do harp on these strong biases keeping people from being able to evaluate evidence for theism because such evidence threatens their identity. This obviously implies that, in particular, there is evidence being presented by Christians (I don’t think any other religious comment regularly but I may be wrong) for theism in these comment threads that online atheists are ignoring or discounting because their atheist identity is being attacked. For one, the examples you give for evidence such as “existence of mind” and “lack of knowledge base” are not what I call evidence, so in that sense we’re definitely speaking past each other. Do you have actual examples, from these comment threads, or is this your assumption because you, too, are being blinded to them by your biases?

          Now, you did correct me later in saying that you don’t think both positions are equally valid, but you do seem to be implying that everybody is wrong because of their strong, unconscious biases, and I disagree with you on so many levels:
          -what biases are, can we be aware of them and minimize their effects;
          -what constitutes evidence;
          -whether atheism is an identity rather than a belief (I don’t think of it as my identity, rather as the door to a different identity from no long having the identity of being Catholic);
          -are people with strong opinions on a topic unable to evaluate evidence critically – the most glaring example you seem to keep on ignoring is that many atheists who comment here were evaluating the evidence for their religion WHILE THAT RELIGION WAS THEIR IDENTITY.

        • Grimlock

          I read through your comments again and what I’m hearing you say, to generalize, is that anyone who holds a strong opinion is influenced by subconscious biases that are unidentifiable which keep them from being able to evaluate evidence contradicting their opinion objectively.

          Almost correct.

          I’m not sure that the relevant biases are strictly speaking unidentifiable in principle. In reality, though, I seriously doubt that someone can identify all the ways that bias influence them.

          As to being able to evaluate evidence objectively, that depends on what is meant by that phrase. If by evaluate objectively one means free of any cognitive biases, then no. I don’t think that’s possible. (Well, it might be epistemically possible. Sort of like Plantinga’s FWD.)

          If by evaluate objectively one means reach the correct conclusion, then I do think that one can do so.

          Of course, this is on an individual level. One of the great things about the scientific enterprise is that different individuals interact, and can compensate for each other.

          In my mind that puts you in the post-modern category, which is fine, but to me it’s the same as the arguments of whether free will exists; the reality seems to be that people who believe in free will seem to have more control of their environments whether free will actually exists per se?

          I don’t actually know enough about post-modernism to say whether I agree with that. As for free will, those discussions strikes me as more of a semantic game than anything else.

          Anyhow, with regards to the online atheism discussion, you do harp on these strong biases keeping people from being able to evaluate evidence for theism because such evidence threatens their identity. This obviously implies that, in particular, there is evidence being presented by Christians (I don’t think any other religious comment regularly but I may be wrong) for theism in these comment threads that online atheists are ignoring or discounting because their atheist identity is being attacked. For one, the examples you give for evidence such as “existence of mind” and “lack of knowledge base” are not what I call evidence, so in that sense we’re definitely speaking past each other. Do you have actual examples, from these comment threads, or is this your assumption because you, too, are being blinded to them by your biases?

          Well, I’m not sure that that implication follows. In general, I’m not terribly impressed with the quality of the Christian apologists who wander by Bob’s blog. Besides, I am talking about in general, and not specific cases.

          As for the idea of evidence for theism, I’d first like to know whether you find the general framework convincing or not. The example of the steady state theory vs the big bang model might be a better case to consider. If you want a thorough example of the kind of argument I have in mind, you might want to look at Lowder’s argument from physical minds.

          With respect to me and biases, I’ll note that already in my first comment I made it clear that I include myself in the group of online atheists influenced by biases.

          Now, you did correct me later in saying that you don’t think both positions are equally valid, but you do seem to be implying that everybody is wrong because of their strong, unconscious biases, and I disagree with you on so many levels:

          I appreciate an acknowledgement of the correction.

          Where am I implying that “everybody is wrong”?

          -what biases are, can we be aware of them and minimize their effects;

          How do you disagree with me about what biases are? I consider biases to be something like systematic ways in which the heuristics the brain uses for processing information results in less-than-optimal reasoning. (Where one is optimizing for accuracy.)

          I don’t think I’ve claimed that we can’t to some extent be aware of the biases, and compensate for these.

          -what constitutes evidence;

          Interesting. What do you think constitutes as evidence for a position?

          -whether atheism is an identity rather than a belief (I don’t think of it as my identity, rather as the door to a different identity from no long having the identity of being Catholic);

          So, do you think that someone who argues about religion and atheism online, and holds a position of atheism, does not have any of this as a part of their identity? That’s… interesting.

          -are people with strong opinions on a topic unable to evaluate evidence critically – the most glaring example you seem to keep on ignoring is that many atheists who comment here were evaluating the evidence for their religion WHILE THAT RELIGION WAS THEIR IDENTITY.

          I believe I’ve clarified somewhat my position on whether I think one can evaluate evidence properly above. You’d also do well to note that I’ve made it clear (to both you and Susan) that I have no reason not to believe that an accurate (more or less) assessment of the evidence (or lack thereof) for theism played a major part in your deconversion. How, precisely, am I ignoring that?

    • Otto

      This is just human nature. We all do it to some extent, and it tends to be subconscious.

      The first question is who tends to even be aware of this fact, most people from my experience do not even know what confirmation bias is, etc., many atheists included. But on the whole I think atheists have the higher percentage of awareness. Of course just being aware does not inoculate against the problem, but knowing the problem is at least a first step.

      • Grimlock

        Agreed.

        […] knowing the problem is at least a first step.

        The second step, obviously, is to rationalize away the problem. That’s my general approach, at least. Works like a charm.

        • Otto

          Reminds me of some favorite dialog in a movie….

          Michael:
          I don’t know anyone who could get through the day without two or three juicy rationalizations. They’re more important than sex.

          Sam Weber:
          Ah, come on. Nothing’s more important than sex.

          Michael:
          Oh yeah? Ever gone a week without a rationalization?

          -The Big Chill

      • TheNuszAbides

        most people from my experience do not even know what confirmation bias is

        In the last few years I’ve seen a disappointing frequency [in the atheosphere] of people who’ve at least heard of either confirmation bias or cognitive dissonance, and also come across the other term, yet entirely missed that they are two distinct, not-at-all-synonymous phenomena. It’s on track to overtake [ignorance of what Godwin’s law ACTUALLY IS] as my primary pet peeve!

        Edited to rephrase the problem more precisely.

  • rationalobservations?

    It’s hilarious that the totalitarians among the religious think they can stop the stampede to atheism merely by silencing the questions that ever more people are asking themselves about the ridiculous nature of religion and the hypocritical nature of religious “leaders”.

    What religious leaders fail to reveal is the truth about the fraudulent nature of all religions.

    The Roman religion they called “christianity” was founded in the 4th century and cobbled together from mostly “pagan” components and exclusively “pagan” feast days and festivals.

    There is NO 1st century originated evidence of the existence and centuries later written contradictory and confused legends of “Jesus”.

    Even the 4th century Roman founding religion of “christianity” agrees:

    “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”.

    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”

    It’s worth also pondering that in the extremely improbable event that one/some/all of the fictional undetected and undetectable gods, goddesses and god-men presented evidence of its/their existence – atheism and faith would both become redundant in an instant.

    (Catholic Encyclopedia, op. cit., pp. 656-7).
    https://pics.me.me/in-the-entire-first-christian-century-jesus-is-not-mentioned-17397524.png
    https://pics.me.me/atheist-logie-107-venus-vishnu-xipe-yam-ymir-or-zeus-8705872.png

    • Grimlock

      Cool story, bro.

      • rationalobservations?

        Not a “story”.

  • Joe_Buddha

    I have a grasp of the mechanism of Evolution. That makes me no more a Darwinist than accepting gravity makes me a Newtonist or watching television makes me a Farnsworthian!

  • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

    “, I do see a problem with your moral equivalence between a single fertilized human egg cell and a newborn baby. In fact, there’s a spectrum of personhood.)”

    As I see a problem with the concept that a newborn is a person but that same biological entity was not a person five minutes earlier

    • If you must make it binary–not a person here but a person five minutes later–you’ve got the same problem of arbitrariness by stating that a fertilized egg cell is a person.

      Why make it binary? Just make personhood a spectrum–not a person as a fertilized egg cell and then personhood increasing until it’s 100% a person as a newborn.

      Problem solved.

      • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

        Human life begins with a fertilized egg. Assigning personhood at any point after that is arbitrary.

        • Greg G.

          I think personhood is mind-related which is a function of the brain.

          As long as the human is dependent on the mother’s womb, her rights supercede any personhood rights granted to the fetus.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          So an unconscious individual isnt a person until they regain consciousness?

          Then at the point of viability the woman should lose the right to end that life and merely be allowed to induce labor

        • Greg G.

          Do you think unconciousness means a brain is not functioning?

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          Do you think the brain of a fetus isnt functioning?

        • Greg G.

          Yes, but is the brain of a fetus capable of creating a mind that can distinguish itself from the rest of the universe? Does it have enough oxygen in its bloodstream to function at that level?

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          A fetus does not magically gain that ability when it passes through the birth canal.

        • Greg G.

          A fetus does not magically gain that ability when it passes through the birth canal.

          I think it may well achieve a greater brain function when it can get oxygen to its blood from the air through the lungs than through the belly button.

          It’s not magic.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I think it may well achieve a greater brain function when it can get oxygen to its blood from the air through the lungs than through the belly button.

          While that will be a necessary step, apparently the beginning of the mind creating process is something else.

          See the paper I keep in my favourites for just these occasions in link above.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          Dude, the brain requires oxygen. Where that oxygen is coming from is irrelevant. It is the lack of oxygen in birth that often results in mental defect. Having sufficient oxygen does not bestow magic powers to the newborn.

          I don’t mean to be insulting but that and other statements such as the poster who refers to himself as Ignorant saying that the ability to feel pain can only develop outside the womb make me think I am dealing with people who have no basic concept of biology.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Except that’s exactly what has to happen for a mind to develop.

          Can fetuses feel pain?

          Innate neural and behavioural discrimination are part of the material for developing experiential discrimination, but experiential discrimination is yet to develop and relies critically on interactions with a primary caregiver. For fetuses and newborn infants, these interactions have yet to occur.

          By this line of reasoning fetuses cannot be held to experience pain. Not only has the biological development not yet occurred to support pain experience, but the environment after birth, so necessary to the development of pain experience, is also yet to occur.

          Pain experience requires development of the brain but also requires development of the mind to accommodate the subjectivity of pain

          Development of the mind occurs outside the womb through the actions of the infant and mutual adjustment with primary caregivers

          https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1440624/

          The development of the mind begins when the fetus is born…i.e. passes through the birth canal in a natural birth.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          This is just like the people who fish trying to sooth their conscience by claiming fish don’t feel pain. A newborn feels pain. This is easily observed by anyone who has ever had the slightest contact with one. As such it is ridiculous to assume they magically gain this by the mere experience of a short trip through the birth canal.

        • Pofarmer

          A house begins with a footing, but a footing is not a house.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          How about just the framing with no roof? At what point in construction would you arbitrarily consider it a house?

        • Pofarmer

          Well, it’s not going to be insured as a house until it’s complete and an occupancy permit is granted. Before that it’s still considered under construction.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          So its not a house until the government says it is? That is kind of subjective wouldn’t you say?

        • epeeist
        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          Was that an answer or evasion?

        • epeeist

          Was that an answer or evasion?

          Just pointing out that you are engaged in black and white thinking.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          There is no such thing as a liitle bit pregnant or a spectrum of personhood. That is the type of thinking that gave us a SCOTUS ruling that Black people were only 3/5ths a person

        • epeeist

          There is no such thing as a liitle bit pregnant

          Agreed

          or a spectrum of personhood

          So you assert, but you provide no justification for your assertion. Let us ask, are you the same person as you were 10 years ago, when you were in senior school, in elementary school, when you were one year old?

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          I am no more a person now than i was as a child. Black people are not 3/5ths of a person. And finally Jews, Gypsies, and Gays are people too. When we let governments define such things the above points can be denied

        • Ignorant Amos

          When we let governments define such things the above points can be denied

          Who should get to decide then?

          Religious texts?

          The UN in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?

          When will there be a definition you will be happy with?

          Prior to 1929, women in Canada were not considered ‘Persons’ —at least not in the fullest legal sense of the word.

          http://www.famou5.ca/the-persons-case

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is another example of why I don’t want any bureaucrat defining such things. It says that people have the right to be free from want. When it is dictated that people have a right to what they want it is also dictated that others have the responsibility to provide it. The track record for the success of such things is nonexistent.

          I think it is pretty clear that definition of a person/human should rely on basic facts. Homo sapien is a well defined species and the individual’s lack of development or state of decay due to aging should be irrelevant.

        • Ignorant Amos

          So what’s a person in your opinion?

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          A human being. This is different from the legal definition of person. That can even be a corporation

        • Ignorant Amos

          So what’s a human being in your opinion?

          See, this is where the problem lies. The distinction between human, human life, human being, and person varies depending upon who one asks.

          The answers are different in terms of sociology, philosophy, biology, and legality. And different again, within those disciplines depending upon who is asked, when and where.

          In Canada for example…

          When child becomes human being

          223 (1) A child becomes a human being within the meaning of this Act when it has completely proceeded, in a living state, from the body of its mother, whether or not

          (a) it has breathed;

          (b) it has an independent circulation; or

          (c) the navel string is severed.

          In that context, a human being is a person, but a zygote/fetus is not.

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

          What seems to be the crux of the matter here is that a fertilized cell/blastocyst is neither a human being nor a person by anyone’s stretch of the imagination. A zygote too. And for many, nor is a fetus.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          I say a human being is, wait for it, a human. I say that a human being goes through many stages from conception to advanced age but it is a human at every point on the way.

          This is the only logical conclusion i can reach as one cannot have a stage of human development that isn’t a human.

        • MR

          I say a human being is….

          Yes, that’s the crux right there. You say it is, but that’s not the definition for everyone, or even most people. Calling a zygote human is one thing, calling it “a human,” would sound silly to most.

        • Ignorant Amos

          It’s like throwing jello at a wall, isn’t it?

        • MR

          And the thing is, it’s not like this is an atheist vs. Christian thing, nobody uses these terms like he wants to use them. It’s a forced argument for the sake of this argument. It’s inherently dishonest. That’s the part I don’t understand. He’s trying to make a moral argument by using dishonest tactics! What’s wrong with that picture?

        • Ignorant Amos

          I say a human being is, wait for it, a human.

          Saying a human being is a human, is a tautology.

          A human is just short for a human being.

          I say that a human being goes through many stages from conception to advanced age but it is a human at every point on the way.

          And I say you are taking shite, because at the stages from conception to birth, it isn’t a human being. While what it is can be classed as human, it is not a human.

          This is the only logical conclusion i can reach as one cannot have a stage of human development that isn’t a human.

          Ftfy.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          “And I say you are taking shite, because at the stages from conception to birth, it isn’t a human being”

          While i say that conferring human status on one entity while refising it for another biologically identical specimen simply because of the location it resides in is ridiculous.

        • The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is another example of why I don’t want any bureaucrat defining such things.

          Word meanings change, but dictionaries can help. But as long as you and your antagonist have a shared definition of a word, you can communicate. Bureaucrats must define words sometimes.

          For example, you and I apparently don’t share a definition for “person.” There are ways around that.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          Again i agree. It is said that Noah Webster wrote his dictionary partially because he wanted to standardize American English so the meaning of the Constitution would not be subverted by changing definitions

        • Aren’t you the champion of civil rights for the downtrodden! I’m impressed.

          But since no one here thinks that African-Americans are 3/5 of a person, I missed your point.

        • Ignorant Amos

          At the time of the “Three-Fifths Compromise”, blacks weren’t seen as persons, in the same way as women weren’t seen as persons for the purpose of voting…Luther is just another Dime Bar.

        • Luther is shocked … shocked! … to imagine anyone undercounting adults based on insignificant or even meaningless ideas like gender and race. I wonder if he’s this liberal in his thinking when he’s not arguing with liberals.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Hmmmm!

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          My point is that when personhood is decided by arbitrary means injustice is sure to follow

        • And my point is that a single cell is very, very different from a trillion-cell newborn. They’re not equivalent.

        • epeeist

          I am no more a person now than i was as a child.

          Do you want to clarify this, I am not sure this is what you meant to say.

          Black people are not 3/5ths of a person. And finally Jews, Gypsies, and Gays are people too.

          This is a red herring in that, as far as I can see, nobody was claiming that they were fractions of persons or non-persons.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          I am answering the idea that personhood should be assigned on a percentage basis, so yes, I was answering that very claim.

        • a SCOTUS ruling that Black people were only 3/5ths a person

          Huh? What SCOTUS ruling?

          There is no such thing as a liitle bit pregnant or a spectrum of personhood.

          Binary thinking isn’t helpful. As I pointed out before, we can both look at a spectrum from blue to green and disagree on where the blue/green boundary lies and yet agree that blue is not green.

          A microscopic cell isn’t a trillion-cell newborn. If you say that each are a person, that’s fine. You tell me then: what is the newborn that the single cell 9 months prior wasn’t?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Huh? What SCOTUS ruling?

          He’s another fucking ignorant Muppet…does it colour ya unsurprised?

        • The “blacks count as 3/5 person” is from the Constitution (Article I, section 2). It was used for deciding how many representatives a state got in the House.

          I assumed that this guy was American (but then it’d be a lot to demand an American to understand the constitution that defines his country).

        • Ignorant Amos

          Am not a septic tank and I know at least that much….though a did spend some time living there.

          He’s a cherry-picking religious prick seems a reasonable assertion.

        • Yanks are not known to be well educated about civics, I’m afraid.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          Fully formed

        • “A newborn is a fully formed, while the single cell wasn’t.”

          No, I’m looking for a noun. I use “person.” Give me a better word.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          Some things cannot be described with one word.

        • You’re selling yourself short! Think of all the words we have for subtle variations after gestation: baby, infant, newborn, one-year-old, toddler, and so on.

          Now think about how phenomenally different the single cell that started it is. A trillion cells for the newborn vs. 1 for the single cell. Eyes and ears, arms and legs, heart and circulatory system, brain and nervous system, stomach and digestive system, and on and on vs. not a single cell of any of these.

          Surely English is robust enough to have a word for what the newborn is and the single cell isn’t. Pro-lifers with an agenda (and not an agenda to follow the facts) will dismiss every candidate. Perhaps you’re not like that.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          Baby?

        • Sure, that sounds right: a newborn is a baby, while the single cell isn’t. That makes the 9-month gap between them a spectrum of baby-ness. It sounds better to me to say it’s a spectrum of personhood, but I don’t think baby would be wrong.

        • Pofarmer

          Subjective is pretty much all we’ve got.

        • It’s like a cake–batter at time 0 and cake 30 minutes later. In between, it’s something in between.

        • Ignorant Amos

          A don’t fancy it’s chances at being a cake at the halfway mark of 15 minutes.

        • Bit of a non-sequitur there, no?

          Human life or person: pick one and stick with it.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          Are there other animals that achieve personhood? No. Human and person are synonymous

          I will stick with English. Yours is the logical fallacy

        • epeeist

          Are there other animals that achieve personhood?

          Other animals, such as elephants, bottle-nosed dolphins, gorillas, chimpanzees, orcas and possibly magpies are self-aware.

          Human and person are synonymous

          No, “human” is to do with biology, personhood is quite different.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          You are conflating “aware” with “person”

          This discussion started because the OP objected to a moral equivalence between a zygote and a baby. I am pointing out that both are examplea of human life and possess inherent dignity.

          This is not to say that human life cannot be legally terminated. First term abortions, executions,and killing in self defense are all legal homicides. But lets not distort the ugly truth with euphemisms. Each of these things kills a human being

        • epeeist

          You are conflating “aware” with “person”

          Where did I do that?

          This discussion started because the OP objected to a moral equivalence between a zygote and a baby.

          Are zygotes self-aware? Are babies self-aware?

          Do zygotes and foetuses have the properties of personhood detailed in the article I linked to? Do babies? Does the pregnant woman?

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          A zygote may not be but many fetuses are.

        • Ignorant Amos
        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          So newborns are not persons?

          Behave myself? Are you channeling Austin Powers?

        • Ignorant Amos

          So newborns are not persons?

          They are not self-aware.

          Behave myself? Are you channeling Austin Powers?

          Just trying to get you to not be so silly. That’s all. But the choice is yours.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          I am asking about if an individual is a person and you keep conflating that with awareness. Again, you (or another poster perhaps) have posted a link that states infants are not self aware. By your definition they would not be persons. Is that your position or not?

        • Ignorant Amos

          I am asking about if an individual is a person and you keep conflating that with awareness.

          Nope. I’m not. That’s your lack of reading comprehension ability at play.

          Again, you (or another poster perhaps) have posted a link that states infants are not self aware.

          Yeah, that was me…it was in response to your silly claim that “many fetuses are” self aware. Though where ya get the idea that many are, meaning some are not, is anyone’s guess.

          “”A zygote may not be but many fetuses are.”

          Further to that silly nonsense, by the “may” it could be inferred you are either not sure about zygotes, or are a admitting that there is a distinct difference between zygotes and fetuses, or at least some of them. You are all over the place on this topic.

          By your definition they would not be persons. Is that your position or not?

          Nope, that is your strawman of by my definition and by extension, my position.

          Personhood, the quality of being human, and self-awareness, are not synonymous attributes. It is you that seems to be getting confused on these point.

          An unself-aware zygote/fetus is a human non-person.

          An unself-aware newborn/infant is a human person.

          The former has less rights than the later, so while infanticide is illegal, abortion is not. How hard is this for ya?

          Comparing infanticide to abortion for the reasons you cite is obfuscation at best, and disingenuous Christer woo-woo at its worse.

          Is that clear enough for you?

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          If you are not conflating self aware with personhood then what difference does the lack of self awareness in a zygote make?

        • Ignorant Amos

          If you are not conflating self aware with personhood…

          Where has this alleged conflation taken place? If you continue to persist in that accusation then you either need to produce where i did it or be exposed in your deception.

          The only difference as far as I’m concerned is in the attributes that make the three categories different. The point I understand epeeist was trying to make.

          Zygotes and fetuses are not self-aware or persons, but are human.

          Those animals listed are self-aware, but not human or persons.

          Newborns are not self-aware, but are human and persons.

          The argument is in what they are not, which defines how each is treated, which is not the same in each case.

          …then what difference does the lack of self awareness in a zygote make?

          None, until you brought it up. Now, in noticing that there was, in your erroneous opinion, that you thought zygotes may not be self-aware, but many fetuses are, you showed you recognise a distinction between the two.

          You accused epeeist of conflating self-aware with person. He asked you where he did this? You avoided answering.

          What ever your confusion with epeeist was or wasn’t, had zip to do with my pointing out your fuckwit belief that “many fetuses” are self aware. When I pointed out you nonsense, did you concede the error? No. what you did is throughout a straw man question.

          “So newborns are not persons?

          Because being self-aware is not synonymous with being a person, for the reasons I demonstrated. A newborn is an not self-aware person. While a fetus is a not self-aware not person…as is a zygote…as is a a fertilized ovum. Bobs spectrum, remember?

          Your confusion is not our problem, it’s yours.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          When i asked “So newborns are not persons” and you replied “They are not self aware” you conflated the two.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Are you really this stupid?

          No, I conflated fuck all. Your shitty comprehension is the problem on this thread.

          Newborns being persons and not being self-aware is not the point ya dufus.

          When you asked “So newborns are not persons”, it was irrelevant. Persons or not. They are not self-aware, in spite of your claim that many fetuses are self-aware. Which is what I was trying to get into that brick between yer ears.

          Fetuses and newborns alike are not self-aware. But fetuses are not person, while newborns are persons. Nothing to conflate here, move along sonny.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          Yep. You are a waste of bandwidth.

          Blocked.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          I did not compare infanticide with abortion. I have pointed that out before. If you continue to persist in that accusation then you either need to produce where i did it or be exposed in your deception

        • epeeist

          A zygote may not be

          May not be what?

          many fetuses are

          If you are claiming that foetuses are either self-aware or persons then I rather think I would like some actual evidence rather than unsubstantiated assertions.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          Ok. Let us assume that a fetus and a newborn are not self aware.

          Does that justify infanticide in your opinion and if not then what difference would it make?

        • epeeist

          Does that justify infanticide

          How is abortion infanticide?

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          Where did i mention abortion?

        • Greg G.

          The juxtaposition of “fetus” and “newborn” in the previous sentence set the context for “infanticide” in the question. Nobody argues for infanticide but you were clearly trying to conflate them.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          I was asking since the poster gives a lack of awareness as a justification for abortion then, given that same poster claims INFANTS are not self aware, if INFANTICIDE was also justified.

          See how that works?

        • Greg G.

          See how that works?

          We have seen how it works many times. You wouldn’t be the first to attempt to conflate infanticide and abortion. You have been trying to conflate zygotes and newborns from your first post.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          And you are not the first to use a Starwman to avoid the true subject of conversation.

          It is dishonest, but common.

        • Greg G.

          Your question was “Does that justify infanticide in your opinion and if not then what difference would it make?” Is that an honest question? Is it honest of you to say it had nothing to do with abortion?

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          I asked if your justification for abortion applies to infanticide as well since it is equally applicable. I am not conflating abortion and infanticide. I am pointing out your justification for one could be used for the other. This acknowledges the clear difference between the two.

          You REFUSE TO ANSWER which says much in and of itself. You also accuse me of conflating the two which I am clearly not. Now are you going to stand by your assertion or not? Does a lack of self awareness mean the individual has no right to life? It is a clear and simple question.

        • Greg G.

          I asked if your justification for abortion applies to infanticide as well since it is equally applicable.

          You must be drinking. You did not ask me that question. Go to bed and sleep it off.

        • Ignorant Amos

          You must be drinking.

          At least I’ve got that excuse.

        • I Came To Bring The Paine

          What do you expect from a “deplorable”?

        • Greg G.

          Pretty much what I am seeing from him – low information thinking.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          I said, and i quote:

          “Ok. Let us assume that a fetus and a newborn are not self aware.

          Does that justify infanticide in your opinion and if not then what difference would it make?”

          See how i asked if it justified infanticide and what the difference would be?

          You sure you arent projecting there sport?

        • Greg G.

          You asked the question but you did not ask me that question.

          You continue to say silly things and that qustion is as dumb as they come.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          I am asking you now

        • Greg G.

          Infanticide is killing a baby after it is born. That could only be justified in some contrived scenario. But in thecreal world, no. It’s still a stupid question.

          Killing a fetus is aborting a pregnancy. A fetus is using organs that belong to someone else. If it does not have the consent of the person in whose body those organs are, it has no right to use them, whether you consider the fetus a person or not.

          If a woman is attacked by someone who wants to insert something into her uterus, she has the right to defend herself, including the use of deadly force.

          If a person dies without a donor card indicating consent to harvest the organs of the person, it is illegal to use the organs to save the patients who require a transplant.

          Forcing a woman to endure an unwanted pregnancy is forcing her to allow someone else to use her organs without her consent. Dead people would have more rights than living women.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          Dude. I have told you repeatedly that i know the difference between abortion and infanticide. I have told you repeatedly that I am asking you if the justification for abortion (lack of self awareness) would also apply to infants which similarly lack said self awareness. I have told you repeatedly that i do not favor forcing a woman to continue a pregnancy she does not want to continue

          As such I am blocking you like the other poster who is incapable of honest discussion. Goodbye

        • Greg G.

          You accused me of not answering a question you didn’t ask me. When you finally asked me, I gave you an answer that makes self-awareness and personhood irrelevant regarding abortion.

          You should change your description in parentheses to “irrational”.

        • I Came To Bring The Paine

          You should change your description in parentheses to “irrational”.

          A “rational” deplorable is as rare as invisible pink unicorns, or gods.

        • MR

          So, in other words you can’t address those important points, so you run away instead.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The dishonest dipstick has been told repeatedly that self-awareness isn’t the deciding factor. It’s being a person/human being/child/individual, and whether he likes it or not, governments set the rules on the definitions of those things, because, ya know, by the people, for the people, and all that jazz.

          1 U.S. Code § 8.“Person”, “human being”, “child”, and “individual” as including born-alive infant U.S. Code

          (a)In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the words “person”, “human being”, “child”, and “individual”, shall include every infant member of the species homo sapiens who is born alive at any stage of development.

          (b)As used in this section, the term “born alive”, with respect to a member of the species homo sapiens, means the complete expulsion or extraction from his or her mother of that member, at any stage of development, who after such expulsion or extraction breathes or has a beating heart, pulsation of the umbilical cord, or definite movement of voluntary muscles, regardless of whether the umbilical cord has been cut, and regardless of whether the expulsion or extraction occurs as a result of natural or induced labor, cesarean section, or induced abortion.

          Like the mostly Christian people who voted in the mostly Christian government of the day, that implemented the 3/5ths compromise on legislative representation taxable persons he keeps banging on about…and denied women the voting rights completely, until well after the 3/5ths of those persons that were male, got voting rights.

          In 1870, the 15th amendment was ratified to prohibit states from denying a male citizen the right to vote based on “race, color or previous condition of servitude.” It should be reiterated that “black suffrage” in the United States

          The 19th amendment was officially adopted on August 26, 1920: the culmination of a decades-long movement for women’s suffrage at both state and national levels.

          And it should be noted that the amendment wasn’t fully ratified in all states until 1984 and Mississippi.

          LD is a numbnuts who has no limit to how low his weaseling will go in order to obfuscate the issue with word games.

        • MR

          The dishonest dipstick has been told repeatedly that self-awareness isn’t the deciding factor. It’s being a person/human being/child/individual, and whether he likes it or not, governments set the rules on the definitions of those things, because, ya know, by the people, for the people, and all that jazz.

          Yeah, this. Collectively we have to decide.

          1 U.S. Code § 8.“Person”, “human being”, “child”, and “individual” as including born-alive infant U.S. Code….

          This is a very interesting and thorough definition. Much thought went in to deciding this. Fortunately, there are people who do sincerely care about defining things. Not like LD’s weaseling.

          I missed most of the slavery conversation so can’t speak to most of that, but agree that LD minimizes the autonomy of women. Most disturbing. I can understand the outrage of women in this. It certainly isn’t for me, as a man to decide.

          LD is a numbnuts who has no limit to how low his weaseling will go in order to obfuscate the issue with word games.

          Yes, this has been an issue from the beginning. Once they cross those lines, what more needs to be said about their arguments?

        • Now, c’mon. Can’t you see that you’re annoying Luther? That makes him peevish.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I was asking since the poster gives a lack of awareness as a justification for abortion then…

          Lying bastard. Who said lack of awareness is a justification for abortion?

          …given that same poster claims INFANTS are not self aware, if INFANTICIDE was also justified.

          Whether infants are self aware or not, infants aren’t fetuses or newborns ya prick, has no justification on infanticide given the autonomy of the pregnant woman ya knob.

          Are puppies being self aware or not, a justification for them to be put to sleep?

          See how that works?

          Nope!

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          Liar? Why was the subject of self awareness brought up then?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Because you accused epeeist of conflating being “aware” to being a “person” when epeeist pointed out the range of non-human animals that have self awareness. That was an assumption made on your part.

          So, then when he asked, “Are zygotes self-aware? Are babies self-aware?”, you asserted…

          “A zygote may not be but many fetuses are.“

          That was is what I was asserting was pure nonsense.

          The reason self-awareness was brought up? I can make an educated inference.

          The point epeeist was trying to make is that even non-human animals have advanced qualities that zygotes and newborns don’t. Zygotes have less advanced qualities than newborns who have less advanced qualities than many non-human animals.

          Yet, neither zygotes or those non-human animals are persons, while newborns are. That’s not to say that newborns being persons affords them all the rights and privileges of older persons.

          Blastocysts, zygotes, and fetuses, are not persons or self-aware, even though they are human.

          No one said lack of awareness was a justification for abortion, though I’d say it is a contributing factor to why abortion is legal.

          It is not a contributing factor to infanticide, or even neonaticide, because at the point of birth, the new born has certain personhood rights. That’s not to say that there have been/are times and places, justified or not, that neonaticide and infanticide took/takes place…even by God fearing Christians.

          And infanticide isn’t necessarily murder. It is an alternative to the charge of murder.

          http://theconversation.com/the-law-of-infanticide-is-supposed-to-provide-merciful-treatment-for-vulnerable-mothers-100539

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          When asked if other creatures can be considered persons epeeist responded:

          “Other animals, such as elephants, bottle-nosed dolphins, gorillas, chimpanzees, orcas and possibly magpies are self-aware”

          Obviously the poster was conflating self aware with person and just as obviously you are accusing me falsely by saying he didn’t

        • Ignorant Amos

          That is your interpretation of his response. That’s because that interpretation fits with your agenda. Could he be read any other way?

          See, I’ve known epeeist some 12 years or so on line. He is a well read retired physicist with a doctorate. He has been involved in these types of conversations many times in the past, probably a lot more than I know about, and on numerous forums. Perhaps that gives me an advantage, but it doesn’t alter the fact that nowhere do you get to assert that he was conflating self-awareness with personhood. And he even confirmed your error in a subsequent comment. But you’ll do that thing your type does and double down rather that concede you could’ve got the wrong end of the stick.

          Now, all that said. That has nothing to do with my pointing out your fuckwittery when you said…

          “A zygote may not be but many fetuses are.”

          In reply to his question of whether a zygote or fetus is self aware. That is the erroneous statement I was refuting, regardless of the other self-awareness v personhood nonsense you prefer to focus on for some asinine reason.

          Walk away, resist the temptation to double down again.

        • Hold on–Luther previously said that he doesn’t play games with word definitions (“I am not the one uaing rhetoric to distort the definition of a word”). You must be thinking of someone else.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I’m suffering from fuckwit Luther induced déjà vu…or something. //s

        • Ignorant Amos

          Like infanticide being murder? Well, it isn’t everywhere. And when the the “Three Fifths Compromise” was in place, even less so.

          Luther’s confusion is historical too.

          The Teachings of the Apostles or Didache said “thou shalt not kill a child by abortion, neither shalt thou slay it when born”. The Epistle of Barnabas stated an identical command, both thus conflating abortion and infanticide. Apologists Tertullian, Athenagoras, Minucius Felix, Justin Martyr and Lactantius also maintained that exposing a baby to death was a wicked act.

          And while some Christians deemed it “wicked”, it wasn’t a crime until 318 CE. And it being a crime didn’t stop Christians carrying it out.

          Newborn abandonment, aka “exposure” has been a thing throughout the Christian world, reaching its peak in the middles ages. While it was a crime in most of Europe, it was not in Germany.

          The hypocrisy is rank.

        • epeeist

          Where did i mention abortion?

          Back in this post.

          But we seem to be missing something in the discussion, are you abandoning your claim that foetuses are either self-aware or persons?

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          You mean where I pointed out that abortion was LEGAL? And when I asked if the justification fr that applied to infanticide which is MURDER that is somehow conflating the two? No, it is not.

          No, I do not claim that all fetuses are self aware. Yes, I am saying they should be considered persons. No, I am not saying that would preclude legal abortion. Is that any more clear? I understand that my stance is rather nuanced.

        • Greg G.

          Ok. Let us assume that a fetus and a newborn are not self aware.

          Why make that assumption? The heart has major blood vessels between it and the lungs but not so much to the belly button. There are major blood vessel pumping blood from the lungs to the brain. The lungs cannot function until it is no longer a fetus. When the lungs begin to function, the heart is pumping oxygenated blood to the brain.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          Are you freaking serious? If the lungs cannot function in a fetus then it will DIE when it is born. Obviously their function must precede their use.

        • Greg G.

          Whoosh! Right over your head. The lungs allow the blood to exchange of gases with the atmosphere. They cannot function inside the womb because there is no atmosphere. The fetus exists in amniotic fluid, a liquid. If they relied on their lungs, they would drown. A fetus does not die because oxygen and carbon dioxide can be exchanged in the umbilical cord, but not nearly as much as with lungs.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          Dude, apparently my point went over YOUR head. The fetus and the newborn BOTH have sufficient oxygen lest they die or suffer brain damage. As such oxygen has NOTHING to do with an individual being self-aware

        • Greg G.

          A newborn no longer receives oxygen through it belly button. Its brain is getting blood with more oxygen than it ever had before which allows the brain to operate at a higher level of activity. Maybe you are not getting enough oxygen to your brain to understand this.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          SO FREAKING WHAT?

          WHAT DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH BEING SELF AWARE?

          Did you get it THAT time?

          (Edit) I am sorry. I did not get it that you are still operating under the incorrect assumption that oxygen levels in the blood are different after birth than before. I thought I had already addressed that biological ignorance so I wasn’t expecting it again

        • Greg G.

          If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, you pass out. You cannot maintain consciousness.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          No kidding.

        • Ignorant Amos

          What’s with all the shouting…triggered much?

        • Ignorant Amos

          I am pointing out that both are examplea of human life and possess inherent dignity.

          Nope. The claim is not the same as the fact. The problem with dignity, inherent or otherwise, is the term causes more problems than it solves.

          A zygote is a human non-person that has no right to inherent dignity any more than an amputated big toe. Just because some religious folk think so and attribute such…because gods…doesn’t make it so.

          There is no such thing as a right to dignity

          https://academic.oup.com/icon/article/10/2/551/666082/

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          “The problem with dignity, inherent or otherwise, is the term causes more problems than it solves.”

          Sounds like a 60’s Democrat about to unleash the police dogs and fire hoses on some pesky civil rights demonstrators

        • Ignorant Amos

          Sounds like all you’ve got in response is the fallacy of the ad hominem.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          You are the one who denigrated the concept of human dignity. How insulting is that?

        • Ignorant Amos

          You are the one who denigrated the concept of human dignity.

          Nope. I pointed to a paper by a scholar in the field. And I see ya still don’t have a refutation

          What is dignity, whose got it, and by whose warrant is it given?

          I can tell that ya didn’t bother enlightening yourself by reading the paper.

          A cogent rebuttal would be nice, but not expected.

          Fertilized eggs and zygotes don’t seem to warrant much of any gods given dignity, given that most prematurely abort, many without the pregnant women’s knowledge she is pregnant. What did those poor fuckers do to deserve such luck of inherent dignity that most run down the inside of the pregnant woman’s leg?

          How insulting is that?

          Based on whose position?

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          I quoted the paper and pointed out that a concept it espoused was repugnant. There should be such thing as inherent dignity. Humans whether by virtue of their unique evolutionary superiority or their creation in the image of God, depending on your personal beliefs, should be afforded more respect than a sack of trash

          As such dead bodies should be treated with said respect. An aborted fetus should not be flushed down a commode or thrown in the trash. They deserve cremation or other suitable and a modicum of dignity. To do less cheapens all of humanity

        • Joe

          “You are conflating “aware” with “person”

          Are you suggesting there are persona who aren’t aware, or capable of awareness?

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          Sleep?

        • Joe

          A temporary state.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          So is gestation

        • But you must avoid the Argument from Potential, which is, “Sure, a zygote isn’t a baby … but it will be!”

        • Ignorant Amos

          A non reversible temporary state, sleep on the other hand, not so much.

          becoming 60 is a temporary state.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          Both are temporary states. WTF does the fact that one is recurring have to do with anything? And as far as the age thing i have known people for whom being 39 actually lasted many years.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Because in your endeavour to keep all your plates spinning in the air, you are reduced to just commenting ridiculous shit. And comparing apples and oranges in the process.

          As far as the age thing, I’ve no doubt you have known such people. And I wouldn’t doubt you believed them too.

        • Ignorant Amos

          False equivalence.

          The aware under discussion is the one short for self-awareness, but you knew that already.

          The aware you are conflating it with, is the aware synonymous with not being asleep. i.e. awake.

          More weaseling.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          Dude, unconscious people are not self aware. And for someone who insists they are not conflating personhood with being self aware you are sure uptight about distinguishing between an adult lacking it and a undeveloped human not possessing it.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Dude, unconscious people are not self aware.

          FFS…you really can’t be this asinine with just the one head.

          This is why you are a so disingenuous weasel.

          Self-awareness…

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-awareness

          Is different from being unaware through unconsciousness via sleep, ya cretin.

          Unaware…

          https://www.dictionary.com/browse/unaware

          And for someone who insists they are not conflating personhood with being self aware you are sure uptight about distinguishing between an adult lacking it and a undeveloped human not possessing it.

          Bwaaaahahahaha!

          I’m just happy to take the pish out of your repeated ignorance and idiocy. That you keep returning to your lying mantras appears to me that you’re the one that is uptight and triggered.

        • MR

          More weaseling.

          And yet he wants to be taken seriously.

        • A helpful distinction between human and person, thanks.

        • Greg G.

          Your conclusion is based on the arbitrariness of language.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          I am trying to avoid the arbitrary. Genetics are objective and a zygote is the firat example of q genetically specific individual. Any definition of humanity that doesnt start there is subjective

        • Greg G.

          But you arbitrarily ruled out chimpanzees from personhood with semantics. Genetically, chimpanzees are more closely related to humans than they are to gorillas. Koko the gorilla was taught sign language and expressed feelings through language, even created phrases she was not taught to express herself.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          Semantics? I am not the one uaing rhetoric to distort the definition of a word:

          NOUNpeople, persons
          1A human being regarded as an individual.

          ‘the porter was the last person to see her prior to her disappearance’

          https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/person

        • Greg G.

          Semantics? I am not the one uaing rhetoric to distort the definition of a word:

          NOUNpeople, persons
          1A human being regarded as an individual.

          Yes, you are distorting the meaning of words. A zygote is not necessarily an individual, yet you are trying to define them as a person. At some point during the differentiation of cells, they could separate completely and become twins, or triplets, and so on.

          Two different embryos can implant in the uterus so close to one another that they merge into one.

          Your chosen definition shows you to be distorting the term “human being” to mean an unborn.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          “Yes, you are distorting the meaning of words. A zygote is not
          necessarily an individual, yet you are trying to define them as a
          person.”.

          Yes, I am saying that a zygote is a person. It is the earliest form of human life easily identified by its distinct individual DNA. Besides, that post was in response to your claim a freaking chimp was a person, so don’t project your distortion of definitions on me.

        • Greg G.

          Yes, I am saying that a zygote is a person. It is the earliest form of human life easily identified by its distinct individual DNA.

          Have you never heard of monozygotic twins, also known as identical twins because they come from the same zygote, the same fertilized egg? It might become triplets. How can you count it as an individual when it might be three individuals, all with the same DNA?

          How can you count it as an individual when it might merge with another zygote, resulting in a chimera? Then the zygote might be a half an individual, and not even have a brain, as the head would be from one zygote and the reproductive organs from a different zygote. The upper half of a mother would be genetically an aunt to the children that come from the ovaries of the other half. They might be a left half and a right half with one blue eye and one green eye.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          Identical twins do not share the exact same DNA

          https://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/11/health/11real.html

          If a person dies it does not mean it was never a person. Chimera is merely the death of a zygote.

        • Greg G.

          Identical twins do not share the exact same DNA

          You should have read the article? it says:

          It has long been known that identical twins develop differences that result from environment. And in recent years, it has also been shown that some of their differences can spring from unique changes in what are known as epigenetic factors, the chemical markers that attach to genes and affect how they are expressed — in some cases by slowing or shutting the genes off, and in others by increasing their output.

          Identical twins come from the same fertilized egg, that is, the same zygote. The zygote has unique DNA but it might end up as more than one embryo.

          Chimera is merely the death of a zygote.

          Nonsense. Part of a person has the DNA of one zygote and another part has the DNA of a different zygote. Both zygotes are alive. Each part is a sibling to the other but they are one body and one person.

          Have you ever read of the Hensel twins? They have two legs and two arms and two heads. Each head controls an arm and a leg. They are different people.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          Actually I was referring to this part:

          “The specific changes that Dr. Dumanski and his colleagues identified are known as copy number variations, in which a gene exists in multiple copies, or a set of coding letters in DNA is missing. Not known, however, is whether these changes in identical twins occur at the embryonic level, as the twins age or both.”

          But as the exact timing of these changes is not known I will concede the point.

          As far as Chimera:

          “One way that chimeras can happen naturally in humans is that a fetus can
          absorb its twin. This can occur with fraternal twins, if one embryo
          dies very early in pregnancy, and some of its cells are “absorbed” by
          the other twin. The remaining fetus will have two sets of cells, its own
          original set, plus the one from its twin.”

          https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/3-human-chimeras-that-already-exist/

        • Greg G.

          Mutations can happen at anytime. One cell might have it and another won’t. In an embryo, at some point there are eight cells, one of which becomes the fetus and the other seven end up as afterbirth.

          As for the chimera, it says “One way that chimeras can happen naturally…” But if one fetus was dead, it would not be revived by being absorbed.

          Here’s a better article: https://academic.oup.com/humrep/article/21/3/579/770117/

          I am about halfway through it.

        • I am saying that a zygote is a person.

          And I disagree. Many dictionaries would, too.

          Before we continue with the word “person” (or any word that has been redefined, often to satisfy an agenda), we need to agree to a shared definition.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          That is true. It is all about definition. I am uncomfortable with legally defined personhood for reasons i have already stated. I am uncomfortable with the dehumanizing of a fetus for both logical and moral reasons.

          I would even concede that a zygote is not a person. However, i am reluctant to do so because i consider human life precious and detest the cheapening of it. As i have stated when we use arbitrary standards to define what is and isnt a human/person we often find that all of humanity loses value. This leads to ugliness such as eugenics, ethnic cleansing, and euthanasia of unwilling individuals

        • Susan

          I am uncomfortable with the dehumanizing of a fetus for both logical and moral reasons.

          You’ve provided neither logical nor “moral” justification.

          I would even concede that a zygote is not a person.

          All right.

          when we use arbitrary standards

          Strawman.

          Define arbitrary.

          And show that you have a standard that isn’t arbitrary.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          My moral justification is that when we allow people to discriminate which human life form is actually a person we end up with slavery and genocide.

          Arbitrary is exemplified by saying that a human becomes a person at some chronological point in their development. As that point must be chosen using subjective rather than objective standards it is by definition arbitrary.

        • Susan

          My moral justification is that when we allow people to discriminate which human life form is actually a person we end up with slavery and genocide.

          No. We don’t.

          Cells and clumps of cells aren’t living, breathing humans who feel hope, pain, despair, etc.

          Slavery and genocide are deplorable to me (and I imagine, to you and to others here) precisely because of the effect it has on persons and on the persons they love and with whom they bond.

          Consciousness, bonding, fear, hope. Cells don’t feel that.

          Cells and primitive clumps of cells don’t have that capacity.

          Chimpanzees (for instance) seem to. So do kittens.

          As that point must be chosen using subjective rather than objective standards it is by definition arbitrary.

          More flabby equivocation that I can’t be bothered to unpack

          A clump of mindless cells doesn’t get to hijack a person’s body.

          Nor does an actual person.

        • Pofarmer

          Notice what Luther is doing here. He’s imagining the clump of cells as a baby. The perfect little baby, the perfect child, the perfect man/woman living the perfect life, etc, etc, etc. Everything is easy when it’s all in your imagination. But, in the act of protecting the imaginary, he actually diminishes what’s real. Aka, the living, breathing, fully sentient woman who has to actually care for an actual baby, and go through actual pregnancy and labor, and not the imaginary perfection that is in Luther’s head. Dealing with reality is messy.

        • Ignorant Amos

          And he has the brass neck to accuse the rest of us as making stuff up to appease of immoral conscience. It’d be funny if it was so bloody pathetic.

        • I would even concede that a zygote is not a person. However, i am reluctant to do so because i consider human life precious and detest the cheapening of it.

          You’re hung up on definitions. Don’t try to convince me that your definition of “person” (for example) is correct. Justify equating a single cell with a newborn.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          Justify equating a newborn with an adult. Using your logic you are doing just that when you say those two are persons right?

        • Yes, a newborn and an adult are both persons. And a disabled person, and a person in a coma, and a 20-year-old athlete–all persons.

          They’re all pretty much identical compared to the single cell.

        • Pofarmer

          I am uncomfortable with the dehumanizing of a fetus for both logical and moral reasons.

          But you’re perfectly fine with dehumanizing a grown assed woman.

          Ethnic cleansiing right now is largely a religious issue, ya mook. Eugenics isn’t a thing nor is the euthanasia of unwilliing individuals. So, it seems the only ones actually perpetrating your attrocities are ones who probably share your views on abortion.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          I am uncomfortable with the dehumanizing of a fetus for both logical and moral reasons.

          But you’re perfectly fine with dehumanizing a grown assed woman.
          =========
          No, I am not. You are just an idiot

        • Pofarmer

          You’re perfectly fine with making a woman a slave. Just own up to it.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          How so moron? Give an example.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Jeez…when a woman is forced against her will to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term by being refused the right to abort, she is being enslaved.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          Where did i advocate that genius?

        • Ignorant Amos

          If you are not defending the unborn from abortion by trying to argue for more rights than they currently enjoy, then I stand corrected.

          I got the impression that from the comments that your position is that of an anti-abortionist.

          If not, then please clarify?

        • Pofarmer

          Aren’t you in favor of forcing a woman to carry every fertilized egg to term?

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          No.

        • Pofarmer

          Do then whar do you beleive.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          I believe that abortion is wrong and people should not use it for contraception. I believe that if a woman no longer wants to be pregnant and she has already carried the fetus to viability then she should be allowed to induce labor, but she has waited too long to simply kill it.

        • Pofarmer

          Do you have any idea what percentage of abortions happen after 20 weeks?

        • Ignorant Amos

          One is one too many for these fuckwits.

          Which is when this shit happens.

          Death of Savita Halappanavar

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

        • Pofarmer

          Exactly

        • MR

          I believe that abortion is wrong

          All abortion? With what follows, you seem to be saying otherwise. Can you clarify?

          people should not use it for contraception.

          That’s a bizarre statement. Do you really think this is something people do? What kind of propaganda do you read?

          I believe that if a woman no longer wants to be pregnant and she has already carried the fetus to viability….

          Isn’t that pretty much the present situation in most cases? Why all the fuss over zygotes?

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          Yes, I believe killing that tiny human is wrong. Now obviously if the fetus has no chance of survival or if the pregnancy wpuld kill the mother then terminating the pregnancy is required. But i wouldn’t really consider that abortion as the purpose is either to save a life or it is not ending a viable life

          Any abortion that is not being preformed for medical reasons is being used as a form of contraception. Further some women have serial abortions showing they are truly depending on abortion alone for their contraception needs.

          That is the situation in most cases. But the majority of abortions are not a zygote. There is a heartbeat present. The big deal in my opinion is the dehumanizing of these tuny humans with brains and a beating heart.

        • MR

          You mean you think killing the zygote is wrong? Most people would not call it a tiny human. So you think killing a zygote is wrong because you think it is a tiny human. Everyone has pointed out why it’s not, but you want to cling to that definition. Ok, believe that if you want, but you haven’t convinced anyone else.

          The comments about abortion as contraception are so absurd and hyperbolic that once again you’ve lost me.

          I understand you’re sympathy toward what you see as killing a human life, but I think there are too many other factors that it’s not so black and white. You choose to ignore those. You choose to redefine things to fit them into your view, which to me is inherently dishonest.

          My mind, too, leans toward empathy, but it is at a cost that limits the autonomy of the mother who I strongly feels has a right to decide if she wants to bring a child into the world and to decide if she wants to take the personal risk. That simply is not my decision to make.

          Even as a Christian I found no biblical reason to condemn abortion. Modern evangelicals treat it as the most important thing but nowhere is the word even in the bible. They just got duped into using it as a political football.

          Across time, across cultures, across religions and even within the same religion, people have treated abortion as different than murder. My own religious tradition did not object to abortion when I was young, now they do because: politics.

          Personally, I think it’s a solemn decision, not to be taken lightly. Not everyone agrees on the subject and no one can claim an objective stance and so I reserve judgement on the matter. It’s not for me to choose for someone nor to condemn them if they make that choice.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          Yes i believe that killing a zygote cheapens human life and us as such wrong. Not exactly a evil act of infamy but still wrong.

          The tiny humans i refer to are the majority of abortions which involve a fetus with a heartbeat rather than a simple zygote.

          I too would not consider the abortion of a non viable fetus as murder. A late term abortion of a healthy viable baby however, is reprehensible in my opinion

        • Ignorant Amos

          So regardless of the percentage of personhood ya were gurning about, you employ a spectrum too ya dopey Dime Bar.

        • MR

          See for me, you say one thing out of this side of your mouth and another through the other. You weasel with definitions, which shows that you are trying to shoehorn a belief that you know doesn’t fit. You’re all about the fetus, but not so much about the mother and hand wave away those arguments. IA and Greg have made some compelling points, but rather than address them, you run away and block them. Until you can address some of those greater points, your opinion isn’t going to matter much to most people.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Do you really think this is something people do?

          Maybe he is getting confused with the morning after pill and the use of an abortifacient in an early stage pregnancy?

        • MR

          I dunno. Sounds to me like it’s one of those, “There are people who….” tales. I can’t imagine this is a real problem. Did this happen one time, or is this propaganda to get people to fear that it might happen, or is there the occasional case where this happens? I imagine if someone were doing this, a healthcare worker is going to sit them down and explain to them the dangers and why this is a bad thing to do or at some point the system is going to intervene. What I’ve noticed is that conservative minds really like to freak out over things like, “ZOMG! Somebody might do something wrong!” Like the lotto winner who continued to get welfare and it was a reason to just stop welfare completely. It’s just insane propagandic thinking. Sure people will always game the system no matter what and you do your best to mitigate it. But especially something like this? I mean, I can’t imagine there are really people who go around thinking, “I’m going to use abortion as a contraceptive.” It’s absurdly laughable. Even f it were somehow true, then you put in controls. It just saddens me how stupid people can be.

        • Ignorant Amos

          It’s absurdly laughable.

          Anno. Like, “we won’t bother with contraception, because if she gets caught, there’s always an abortion, simples”…even the morning after pill is an inconvenient pain in the hole ffs.

        • Pofarmer

          Well, somebody knew somebody who knew somebody who heard about somebody who………

        • MR

          Sean Hannity said this will totally happen.

        • Pofarmer

          That I can believe.

        • Greg G.

          …and that’s good enough for me.

        • I am not the one uaing rhetoric to distort the definition of a word:

          You were the one playing games with the word “person.”

        • Genetics are objective

          Agreed. At birth, it’s a Homo sapiens. 9 months earlier, it’s also a Homo sapiens.

          Contrast that with personhood.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Well the story is a lot more complex than you’d appear to like it.

          Depending upon where one is, and the meaning of the words under scrutiny…in the U.S. for example…

          A person is recognized by law as such, not because they are human, but because rights and duties are ascribed to them. The person is the legal subject or substance of which the rights and duties are attributes. An individual human being considered to be having such attributes is what lawyers call a “natural person.” According to Black’s Law Dictionary, a person is:

          In general usage, a human being (i.e. natural person), though by statute term may include a firm, labor organizations, partnerships, associations, corporations, legal representatives, trustees, trustees in bankruptcy, or receivers.

          In the US corporations have personhood.

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

          Fertilized eggs, not so much.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          When you use the definition for person from a government that once proclaimed Black people 3/5ths a person you actually lose credibility in my book.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Is that what you think the “Three-Fifths Compromise” was about?

          By that silly pants logic, women weren’t persons at all either.

          And for women, that non-personhood applied to most of the Christian world.

          But since all that was back then, and we are talking about now, I think my credibility is reasonably intact. Yours on the other hand, am not so sure about. When you need to resort to dragging up irrelevant historical conditions, best ya be careful what ya wish for.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          I don’t care what the selfish reason for some denying the personhood of others are. Anyone who would deny the basic dignity of humankind for any reason lacks credibility in my eyes.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I don’t care what the selfish reason for some denying the personhood of others are.

          I could give zero fucks about what you care about, I’m only caring about what is going on in the real world. A zygote-fetus has less personhood rights, if any, than a women developed enough to realise her own bodily autonomy.

          Anyone who would deny the basic dignity of humankind for any reason lacks credibility in my eyes.

          So the basic dignity of the abortant pregnant woman of whom you deny, doesn’t count in your eyes? What credibility are ya talking about ya Dime Bar?

          Humankind is mantra now is it?

          And yet we deny the basic dignity of humankind all the time…what a croc of shite ya spew ya cretin.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          “I could give zero fucks about what you care about, I’m only caring about what is going on in the real world. A zygote-fetus has less personhood rights, if any, than a women developed enough to realise her own bodily autonomy”

          Thank you Captain Obvious. Care to discuss what I actually said?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Show me where I didn’t ya dotter?

        • Human and person are synonymous

          Then you have a tautology. That always makes it easier.

          Yours is the logical fallacy

          You obviously have no idea what I’m talking about, so let me put it in the form of a challenge. Fill in the following sentence: “A newborn is a ___ but the single cell 9 months prior wasn’t.” I use “person” or “baby.” Said another way, I see the 9 months of gestation as a spectrum of personhood–0% person as a single cell and 100% as a newborn.

          What word would you use in the blank?

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          I prefer my question. At what point does a human life start? You will notice my question has no assumptions built in.

        • Greg G.

          Your question has the assumption that there is no difference between biological life and a conscious life.

          If you needed a heart transplant in order to live another ten or twenty years, would you want to make sure the donor was brain dead before the heart was harvested? Sure. Would you want to make sure the heart was biologically dead before you accepted it? Of course not.

          Suppose there is a fire at a medical facility. You are the last hope for a two year old child, a newborn baby, and a few dozen frozen human embryos in a large canister. You can carry two. If it was me, I would take the newborn and the two year old. Which would you choose to save?

        • MR

          Hmmm…, is a donor heart “life?” Does that make it a “person?” Does the recipient then become two distinct people? What is life? Leviticus 17.11: “For the life of the flesh is in the blood.” That kind of throws the “life at conception” theory out the window from a Christian standpoint. So then, does life begin once a fetus has a circulatory system? I don’t know any Christians who believe that. It’s all very arbitrary. Across times, places, cultures, religions, belief varies. Even within the Christian faith no one agrees.

          It’s hard to imagine that the Israelites who were so tied to identity would have been squeamish about abortion when their daughters were impregnated by some handsome, passing foreign trader. To hear modern Christians talk, it’s the most important thing evah, and yet the word doesn’t even appear in the Bible. Incest gets an extensive breakdown of what is and isn’t considered incest, but no listing of abortion as murder. Weird that.

          If you ask me, it was a grave mistake for the evangelical community to turn abortion into a political football. It made a moral argument into a political one and cheapened it.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          I make no such assumption. I too would save the newborn over the Petri dish. I also would not limit a woman’s ability to abort a non viable fetus (even though I personally think the choice to be immoral) My problem is with the euphemisms people use to salve their conscience when making such decisions. It isn’t a mass of cells when it has a brain and a heartbeat. It is a tiny human. Let’s not pretend otherwise.

        • Greg G.

          It is biologically human. So is a human tumor.

          We will always be a mass of cells with a brain and a heartbeat until we aren’t.

          If you don’t want to have an abortion, don’t have one. But don’t try to heap guilt on those who do not want to bear a child for their own reasons. It is none of your business.

        • MR

          Yeah, when I consider that 99.9% of humans agree that going out and shooting your neighbor is murder, but a huge percentage of people do not agree that abortion is, obviously there’s a distinction. It’s a noble deed if you want to keep your child no matter the circumstances, but I don’t feel it’s my place to judge someone else’s decision, especially considering that as I man, I would never be in the same position with all that comes with it. This is the stuff of theocracies.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          No, a tumor is NOT biologically human. Human cells die. Tumor cells do not. That is what makes them tumors.

          If you want to have an abortion I am not stopping you. If you are offended by my opinion that it can be immoral then obviously you give some credence to that opinion. Perhaps you should explore that instead of worrying about what I think.

        • Greg G.

          No, a tumor is NOT biologically human. Human cells die. Tumor cells do not. That is what makes them tumors.

          Yes, tumor cells are still human cells. You are getting quite ridiculous.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          Warts are not and will never be human. Having to point that out is ridiculous

        • a tumor is NOT biologically human

          What DNA does the tumor have? Homo sapiens? What is “Homo sapiens” if not human?

        • Ignorant Amos

          It’s an alien entity…

          https://www.raandrade.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Blob-Monster-resize-660×576.jpg

          Could it be that it is less than a fully formed human being?

          A tumor has more “humankind” attributes that a fertilized cell has not.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          A tumor is not a human at any stage of development

        • Ignorant Amos

          But it is human…that’s the point.

        • So then Homo sapiens isn’t a synonym for human?

          You see eager to conflate so many words (human, person, baby) that I’m confused.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          Yes Homo sapien is human. I would include Neanderthals, Denosovians and other close species as well.

          I dont see how pointing out human, person, and baby being synonymous is conflating anything. (Assuming you mean the definition of conflate that is equivalent to “confuse”)

        • Yes Homo sapien is human. I would include Neanderthals, Denosovians and other close species as well.

          You just happily conflate different words, don’t you? No, a Homo sapiens, by definition, is not the same as any of these other species.

          I dont see how pointing out human, person, and baby being synonymous is conflating anything. (Assuming you mean the definition of conflate that is equivalent to “confuse”)

          No, conflate means to merge together or fuse. A baby and a cell are very different.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          I understand that homo sapien is not neanderthal. I am saying there are more than one species of human. Aren’t you the one who said that chimps could be considered persons?

          THat is one definition. Another is “to confuse”. In any case you didn’t use the word “cell”. You used baby, human, and person which ARE all examples of homo sapien

        • No, I didn’t say chimps are persons, but I can appreciate that logic. The point there is that “person” can’t simply be a synonym for “human” or “human being.”

          In any case you didn’t use the word “cell”.

          I’m pushing back against the idea that the single fertilized human egg cell and a newborn baby are equivalent, as so many conservatives want to claim.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          I think that was another poster who said that. I am conversing with multiple people so please forgive me if I lose track of who said what. As I have shown the Oxford English dictionary defines person as a human being.

          You are correct that a zygote is quite different than a newborn. I am just having a hard time figuring out how to determine at what point that fetus becomes a human being without the distinctions being arbitrary and unscientific.

        • But you understand that the proper definition of a word isn’t the point, I hope. Yes, let’s use words properly, but our goal (in my mind) is first to agree on what is the vast spectrum from single cell zygote to trillion-cell newborn 9 months later.

          I am just having a hard time figuring out how to determine at what point that fetus becomes a human being without the distinctions being arbitrary and unscientific.

          And countless pro-life Christians in my experience love to wallow in this question because it diverts attention from where it should be. I find this question uninteresting since thousands of jurisdictions worldwide have answered it. The big issue for the topic of abortion is to appreciate that the single cell isn’t a newborn, so rules that would apply to the newborn (don’t kill it) don’t necessarily apply to the single cell.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          Ok. If we must arbitrarily assign personhood and we are going to limit abortion with it then viability seems to be a logical point. In this way the woman never loses the right to end her pregnancy. The only ability she would lose is that of endimg another life.

        • epeeist

          As I have shown the Oxford English dictionary defines person as a human being.

          Quote mining, I thought we only got that from creationists:

          Person, A human being regarded as an individual.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          What human being isn’t an individual?

        • Ignorant Amos

          None, but then the unborn human is not a human being, person, or individual.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          An unborn human is not a human being?

          Do you realize how unhinged that sounds?

        • Ignorant Amos

          An unborn human is not a human being?

          Correct.

          Human Being:- a man, woman, or child of the species Homo sapiens, distinguished from other animals by superior mental development, power of articulate speech, and upright stance.

          Unborn human is nowhere in that definition. Nor is it part of the Canadian Code of Law that I cited earlier.

          The U.S. Code?

          1 U.S. Code § 8.“Person”, “human being”, “child”, and “individual” as including born-alive infant

          In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the words “person”, “human being”, “child”, and “individual”, shall include every infant member of the species homo sapiens who is born alive at any stage of development.

          The following Christer has omitted to mention the unborn…

          What Is a Human Being?

          https://www.exploregod.com/what-is-a-human-being

          Likely because the person with the doctorate, knows better.

          Do you realize how unhinged that sounds?

          The only one sounding unhinged on this board at the moment is you.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          I dont care what any government says is a human. As i have pointed out ad nauseum governments have said in the past that Jews and Blacks were not human or persons. The US government has defined a corporation as a person.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I know you don’t. So what. It is what it is. It’ must be a proper pain for you.

          So tell me, whose definition do you care about , and why should anyone here care about it?

        • Natureboi

          How about LGBT people?
          Are they equal to you?

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          Yes, that was my point when i referred to a certain fascist government that put Gay people in concentration camps.

          That is why i oppose governments defining who is and isnt a person.

        • MR

          And yet you’re quite willing to. That frightens me more.

        • Natureboi

          That is why i oppose governments defining who is and isnt a person.

          And yet we are currently under that very same control.

        • Ignorant Amos

          And for some reason, LD won’t give us an alternative source for where the definition of “person” should come from, and why?

        • Natureboi

          And for some reason, LD won’t give us an alternative source for where the definition of “person” should come from, and why?

          There’s no need to ask.
          The source is obviously religion.
          Religion as well as business owners are (theoretically) the only entities that benefit from unchecked population expansion. In other words, it fattens their bottom line.
          There is no logical reason to expand the population other than to increase profits by “creating” more Church tithers and business customers.

          Any tile the religious and conservatives get thier panties in a knot over ant issue, just follow the money.
          It ALWAYS comes down to money with them.

          And that’s why we have a moron in the Whitehouse.

        • Ignorant Amos

          And that’s why we have a moron in the Whitehouse.

          It’s catching, we’ve a moron in Westminster. But at least you’ve the potential to get him out and get a not-a-moron in in his place. The alternatives in the UK all appear to be moronic.

        • Natureboi

          we’ve a moron in Westminster.

          Who?

        • epeeist

          Who?

          It isn’t just one, the ruling party appears to be made up of morons, liars, spivs and quasi-fascists.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The one in charge…well, sort of in charge. BoJo. But he’s in good company as far as it goes and fellow morons.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          Sadly true.

        • Natureboi

          Sadly true.</blockquote

          If you voted for trump, you are part of this "sad" and dysfunctional problem.

        • MR

          [Sorry, taking this comment back. The flow in the email appeared to be in response to a different comment.]

        • MR

          Oh, another example of Luther’s deception.

        • MR

          A tumor has the same genetic make up of, not just a human, but of the particular individual who has the tumor. Not biologically human? Ri-ight….

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          A fetus is a stage of human development. A tumor isn’t. I don’t know why that is so confusing.

        • MR

          I guess we’re supposed to just ignore that you made an outrageously false statement. You’re not here for honest discourse.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          Liars lying about others telling lies. Oh my!

        • MR

          Your lie is your own. An honest person would have acknowledged the mistake. You clutch at whatever straw, lie that suits you. What have I to learn from someone so willing to deceive?

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          What exactly do you think is my deception?

        • MR

          Lying about me, projecting onto Susan, the biological make up of a tumor, the equivocation…, that’s just in the small fraction of your posts that I’ve read.

          And don’t presume that I’m not sympathetic to your stance on abortion. You weaken your argument when you employ tactics. If you have to employ tactics, maybe you’re argument isn’t as strong as you think it is. You’re doing an awfully lot of dancing.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          What lie about you SPECIFICALLY?
          What projection on Susan SPECIFICALLY?
          When did I say that a tumor was not composed of human DNA?
          Finally what stance do you think I have on abortion?

        • MR

          As if you think I think you’ll give honest answers. These questions alone are disingenuous. I’m just pointing that out. You just keep digging your own hole.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          If you make an accusation of deception and then refuse to back it up with even one example it is obvious who is being dishonest

          Have a shovel

        • MR

          I already have. People are free to read my words and read your words. I’m not here to convince you of your own game.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          More evasion to conceal your dishonesty

        • MR

          Oh, we all know I’m not the one being dishonest here. Not that I think you’re being dishonest about your beliefs about when life starts, yadda, yadda. I’m just saying, don’t slip into evasion, equivocation, accusing others incorrectly of being angry, etc.; those kinds of dishonest tactics weaken your argument.

        • Susan

          Tumor cells do not.

          Are you suggesting that tumour cells and their tumours live forever?

        • Yes, I’m sure you prefer your question because it avoids the issue.

          At what point does a human life start?

          Sure, we can say at conception. But notice the game you’re playing. You’ve cast a very broad net with your new definition of “human.” It goes from microscopic cell to newborn and beyond. So when you ask the man on the street, “Would you agree that it’s murder to kill a human?” be sure that you clarify what you mean by “human.” For most of us, we think of friends, family, coworkers, and the people who pass us on the street. We don’t think of peering into a microscope.

          Now, back to the issue that you’ve run away from. You need to define the spectrum from single cell to newborn. I say it’s a spectrum of personhood–0% a person at one end to 100% a person at the other. But I’m a reasonable guy. Give me another word than “person.”

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          Ask me if it is OK to kill a human. I will answer that it depends on the circumstance. I am not avoiding anything, I am merely pointing out the reality that human life starts at conception. You seem to be avoiding that. The idea of justifiable homicide does not depend on some arbitrary scale of personhood. It depends on the circumstance in which said homicide occurs.

        • I am not avoiding anything

          Terrific! Then answer the challenge in my previous comment.

          I am merely pointing out the reality that human life starts at conception.

          OK.

          You seem to be avoiding that.

          On the contrary—I agreed to it. Read more carefully.

          Now, let’s put that trivial point aside and move on.

        • Ignorant Amos
        • Ignorant Amos

          I am merely pointing out the reality that human life starts at conception.

          And so fucking what?

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          Apparently thst is news to some on this board.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Nope. This argument is not new here…in fact it comes around quite often. It is irrelevant to Bob’s point.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          Which point?

        • Ignorant Amos

          The one you are taking issue with.

          That a single cell is not a person, while a newborn is classed a new person. It is a spectrum of personhood.

          Something you now appear to be conceding.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          If a zygote is a stage of development in the life of every person how can it not be a rudimentary example of a person?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Yes, a stage of development of a person.

          A shoot is a stage in the development of a tree, but it isn’t a tree.

          Why is it so important to you that a single fertilized cell be granted the status of being a person?

          Especially when you’ve already conceded that you are ready to accept a zygote is not a person.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          If i ask a horticulturist what a sprouting acorn is I will be told it is an oak. No. It isnt a tree but then a toddler is not a man either. He is a human though

        • Ignorant Amos

          If i ask a horticulturist what a sprouting acorn is I will be told it is an oak.

          Who mentioned it was an acorn? You’d have to find someone knowledgeable in horticulture to say it is an oak, most folk could only say it is a shoot.

          If I ask a doctor what a zygote is, he is not going to say it is a person or a human being. I’m likely to get the answer that it is an early developing human.

          Oak is to human as person human being is to tree.

          No layperson would be able to say it is human life.

          The same applies to the early embryonic stages of mammals.

          https://embryology.med.unsw.edu.au/embryology/index.php/K12_Human_and_Other_Animal_Development

          No. It isnt a tree but then a toddler is not a man either. He is a human though

          Category error. A toddler is a small young human being/person, a man is a big older human being/person able to procreate.

          A sapling is a small young tree, a mature tree is a big older tree able to procreate.

          He is a human though

          A toddler and a man being a human is not being contested. A zygote being human life isn’t being contested. What it isn’t is a human being/person.

          Like wise a sapling and a mature tree are trees is not being contested. But if you believe a shoot is a tree, even though you know what species it is, is a tree…then you are stark raving bonkers.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I see you avoid the awkward bit of my comment.

          Why is it so important to you that a single fertilized cell be granted the status of being a person?

          Especially when you’ve already conceded that you are ready to accept a zygote is not a person.

        • Greg G.

          The horticulturist would say it is an oak sprout, not an oak tree. A zygote is a human cell, not a person.

          It might be more than one person, eventually, so it is way too soon to assign personhood.

          It is more likely that the zygote in not viable so it will never be a person.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Like Bob noticed, he has steered well clear of the “potentiality” caveat for some reason. Not that it would rescue the eejit.

        • MR

          If I look at IA’s example:

          A shoot is a stage in the development of a tree, but it isn’t a tree.

          That is correct.

          A zygote is a stage in the development of a person, but it isn’t a person.

          That is also correct.

          People don’t refer to zygotes as being a person. If someone is talking in the booth next to me about a “person,” they’re never referring to a zygote. People say, “Maria found out she is pregnant and is going to have a baby;” not “Mary has a baby.”

        • Ignorant Amos

          Ask me if it is OK to kill a human. I will answer that it depends on the circumstance.

          Murder to kill a human, an the right to kill a human, are not the same. When is it murder to kill a human?

          The idea of justifiable homicide does not depend on some arbitrary scale of personhood. It depends on the circumstance in which said homicide occurs.

          Justifiable homicide is not murder. But at least you recognise that there are circumstances when homicide is justified, and that even that homicide is of of persons with said rights, that’s a start.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          You asked if it was murder to kill a human. I responded that it depended on the circumstances. Now you are pointing out that murder and killing are not the same. WTF did you think I just said?

        • Ignorant Amos

          You asked if it was murder to kill a human.

          I asked no such thing. You need to step away from the Kool-Aid.

          I responded that it depended on the circumstances.

          You need to sort out your reading for comprehension. You are getting lost in the fields of straw men you are building.

          Bob presented you with a hypothetical…

          “So when you ask the man on the street, “Would you agree that it’s murder to kill a human?” be sure that you clarify what you mean by “human.” For most of us, we think of friends, family, coworkers, and the people who pass us on the street. We don’t think of peering into a microscope.

          You came back with a reply to a scenario that wasn’t posed by Bob, because you can’t read for jackshite.

          “Ask me if it is OK to kill a human.”

          The thought experiment was for you to ask the average Joe on the street that it was murder to kill a human. The inference is that no ones first thought is that that human is an unborn at any stage of development.

          Then ya went merrily on yer way down a rabbit hole with this tosh…

          I will answer that it depends on the circumstance.

          The question wasn’t for you to answer. The circumstances are irrelevant. The point is, regardless of the circumstances, the first thought isn’t that the human is an unborn at any stage of development.

          I am not avoiding anything, I am merely pointing out the reality that human life starts at conception.

          We know, so what? You seem to be skirting around something you think is of relevance but too afraid to just come out with it.

          You seem to be avoiding that.

          How many times do you have to be told that no one here is avoiding that, we just want to know why you think it is relevant. Something you seem to be at pains to avoid.

          The idea of justifiable homicide does not depend on some arbitrary scale of personhood. It depends on the circumstance in which said homicide occurs.

          And the whooosh! is complete. That is relevant to Bob’s hypothetical question, “So when you ask the man on the street, “Would you agree that it’s murder to kill a human?”, apart from another exercise in obfuscation.

          Now you are pointing out that murder and killing are not the same.

          Yip, because you missed the obvious. Murder is never justified homicide.

          WTF did you think I just said?

          WTF I think you just said was to go on one about the difference in the detail in killing of a human and the murder of a human, because you are trying to avoid the relevant part of the point Bob was making, which is, whether it be kill or murder, a person first thought is not that of a fertilized egg, because seeing a fertilized egg as a human is not most peoples immediate go to thought when thinking a human.

        • Pofarmer

          When is it ok to withdraw care from a human? Can you be forced to donate body parts to another person?

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          What kind of care? Are you talking about food and water? Then the answer is never.

          No, who is being forced to donate body parts?

        • Pofarmer
        • Susan

          I prefer my question.

          Of course you do. It means you don’t have to show any work and get to equivocate, as though that were an honest thing to do.

          At what point does a human life start?

          In some fuzzy window of speciation a very long time ago.

          You will notice my question has no assumptions built in.

          LOL.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          What am i equivocating Susan?

          Good one about where life started BTW.

        • Susan

          What am I equivocating?

          “human life” and “personhood”.

          Good one about where life started by the way.

          Ah…. now, it’s just “life”. Not “human life” nor “personhood”.

          Try to focus.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          So some humans are not persons? Which ones? Fetuses, Blacks, Jews, Gays?… Do you see my point now?

          “Try to focus” Hmmm, why so angry?

        • MR

          Why the need to project anger on Susan? She’s just pointing out your equivocation. You thought no one would notice?

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          A question is not evasion. A refusal to answer a question is. Maybe you would like to explain what humans aren’t persons.

        • MR

          You can’t even focus to get the words right.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          So who is evading the subject now?

        • MR

          The word was equivocation not evading, which goes back to your inability to focus.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          Equivocation is to “use ambiguous language so as to conceal the truth or avoid committing oneself”

          That is evasion. DUH!!!

        • MR

          Sure, I’ll buy that. You’ve used equivocation to evade as well as for other deceptive purposes, as many people have pointed out. Equivocation and/or evasion don’t make for strong arguments. I’m open to your moral argument against abortion, but when you use equivocation and evasion, it weakens your argument.

        • Ignorant Amos

          A refusal to answer a question is.

          Spooooiiiiinnng!

        • Greg G.

          More weaseling. A human cell is human but it is not a person. Try to focus. You keep trying to divert the discussion. Why not change your position since you have realized that yours is not sustainable?

        • MR

          Weaseling, weaseling, weaseling…. he does love his semantic sleight of hands.

        • Ignorant Amos

          His major malfunction is that he thinks the rest of us are as knuckle-dragging dumb as he is, and he thinks don’t know what we are talking about. Haven’t already done a couple of turns around this particular dance floor numerous times in the past. Or won’t bother to check up on his unsubstantiated assertions.

        • MR

          His major malfunction is that he thinks the rest of us are as knuckle-dragging dumb as he is, and he thinks don’t know what we are talking about. Haven’t already done a couple of turns around this particular dance floor numerous times in the past. Or won’t bother to check up on his unsubstantiated assertions.

          Yes, “I think” and “my opinion” don’t account for much when everyone else thinks something different and have different opinions. Simply claiming something is true without supporting it just leaves the rest of us to shrug. He did say something that was interesting:

          I am just having a hard time figuring out how to determine at what point that fetus becomes a human being without the distinctions being arbitrary and unscientific.

          The obvious answer is that there isn’t one. Those definitions are squishy which means you can’t simply assert that yours is the correct answer. That’s why I say it’s not for me or any of us to decide. Leave that to the individual.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The obvious answer is that there isn’t one.

          Indeed.

          Something I tried to point out. It depends on the discipline defining it and the purpose behind the definition.

          An embryologist will say it is a human being at the point of the sperm fertilizing the egg. And to that ends, sure, what ever floats yer boat.

          This is the view of Dianne N. Irving, M.A., Ph.D. in her paper

          “WHEN DO HUMAN BEINGS BEGIN? “SCIENTIFIC” MYTHS AND SCIENTIFIC FACTS”

          https://www.princeton.edu/~prolife/articles/wdhbb.html

          But that doesn’t matter so much to this discussion, for two reasons. She’s a biased pro-life representative for the Catholic Medical Association and the International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations.

          And more importantly, what it is called by her and every other embryologist on the planet and what it is for the purposes of the abortion debate, are two different things.

          Granting the zygote the status of human being, still doesn’t grant it rights and privileges over other human beings…particularly those that are more developed and whose autonomy is being impacted .

          No one in there right mind is going to compare a zygote and an infant and say they both are equal and must be afforded equal rights. Even LD has made that clear. Given the choice of rescuing a petri dish or a crying baby, everyone to the last will opt for saving the crying baby. So right off the bat, they know they aren’t equal in the human being stakes.

          Those definitions are squishy which means you can’t simply assert that yours is the correct answer.

          Exactly. Technically, from the embryologists pov, human beings are anything that has a unique genetic make up from other human beings, twins, triplets, quadruplets, etc., notwithstanding. So the anti-abortionists chose that place to start. Modern religionists chose the same as the time when a human being gets the soul giving it special status…for some ridiculous reasons. Other disciplines have other definitions, such as the law, philosophy, ethics, etc.

          That’s why I say it’s not for me or any of us to decide. Leave that to the individual.

          Certainly.

          But my part in all this is about giving the more important conscious being that understands what the right to decide means, and whose conscious will be effected most by the decision to decide, that right to decide.

          Folk like LD are not the most important conscious beings in all this, the pregnant woman is, so it should be her decision.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Luther doesn’t seem to like his feet held to the fire on the issue of his not answering questions, aka evasion…he evades those hard questions by blocking.

          Just another lying weaseling douche-bag.

        • Susan

          why so angry?

          You’re making stuff up again. Try to focus.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          You sound angry to me

        • Susan

          You sound angry to me.

          There was no anger in those posts.

          You equivocated terms on the subject of moral philosophy and pretended that you could make leaps for which you have no scaffolding.

          I wasn’t angry. But now, I’m slightly annoyed, because rather than address those points, you decided to accuse me of anger.

          You’re going to have to do better than that.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          Your very first post accused me of dishonesty. Not being mistaken. Being dishonest. That is pretty damn hostile in my book

          Now if you want to debate facts or ideas i am open to real discussion. But if not please dont waate both of our time.

        • Greg G.

          Susan implied your question was not honest as formed because of equivocation. Perhaps you were being dishonest or perhaps you made a mistake. If it was a mistake, you would have corrected it. Instead, you responded with anger and projected that emotion on her

          You have shown your dishonesty by your response to a perceived accusation of dishonesty.

        • MR

          Susan implied your question was not honest as formed because of equivocation.

          A habit he has repeatedly shown.

          Perhaps you were being dishonest or perhaps you made a mistake. If it was a mistake, you would have corrected it.

          Similarly with his comment about human tumors not being biologically human. A laughable mistake if it was that, by doubling down he displayed his dishonesty raw and naked.

          Instead, you responded with anger and projected that emotion on her

          Kind of gives you the creeps, doesn’t it. Tactics, tactics, tactics.

          You have shown your dishonesty by your response to a perceived accusation of dishonesty.

          Again, something he has done repeatedly.

        • Ignorant Amos

          A zygote being a person? Many fetuses being self aware? A fetus/newborn felling pain? A fertilized egg being human life? And a dare say there are more ave missed.

        • MR

          A zygote being a person? Many fetuses being self aware? A fetus/newborn felling pain? A fertilized egg being human life? And a dare say there are more ave missed.

          Please, let’s not forget the tumor not being biologically human. .

        • Ignorant Amos

          Well, apparently the reason it wasn’t biologically human, is because unlike human cell tissue, tumour cell tissue doesn’t die.

          Killing the unkillable cancer cells

          https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/06/190604131216.htm

          What a dozy plonker.

        • MR

          It was a ‌stupid attempt to salvage a ‌stupid answer.

        • Greg G.

          You are equivocating human tissue with personhood. Remember? Try to focus.

        • Pofarmer

          There are those that argue some animals should be considered as persons.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          There are those who argue one should be able to marry some animals. I don’t listen to those kinds of people.

        • Pofarmer

          That’s rather a different argument. There are very good arguments that some animals are self aware to some extent. Elephants, dolphins, whales, great Apes. All of those would have more of a claim on personhood than a fertilized egg.

        • Joe

          Corporations?

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          The government that says a corporation is a person is the same one that said a Black person is only 3/5ths of one.

        • Joe

          So you’ve given us two examples of Personhood being defined? Thanks.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          Are you comfortable with both of them?

        • Joe

          No, but my comfort is irrelevant.

        • Luther Dorn (deplorable)

          Point taken

      • SPQR-Tejano

        By Binary you mean normal?

        • No, by binary I mean binary–two options rather than a spectrum. If you want another way of looking at it, I mean that it’s poorly thought out, perhaps deliberately so.

          We can disagree on where, on a blue/green spectrum, it turns from blue to green, but we certainly agree that blue is not green.

          https://wp-media.patheos.com/blogs/sites/253/2014/01/Blue-and-Green-150×150.jpg

        • SPQR-Tejano

          We can also agree that murdering children is wrong. No spectrum there.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Let’s just say murder is wrong and be done, no need to add any hyperbole.

        • But of course, we must define “children” up front. Too many anti-choicers (hopefully not you) take advantage of ambiguity. They say, “You wouldn’t want to kill a child, would you?” But they don’t clarify that, by “child,” they include the single cell just after conception. As a result, the meaning of “child” in the minds of the person asking and the person being asked are often different.

  • Natureboi

    it’s not that they don’t have evidence to believe, it’s that they don’t want to believe.

    Why?

    Many non-Christians . . . take a “blind leap of faith” that their non-Christian beliefs are true simply because they want them to be true.

    Nope. Not true. Illogical assertion.

    What we have here is a will problem—some people, despite the evidence, simply don’t want to admit there’s a Designer.

    Nope. Not true. Illogical assertion. To “admit” something requires a belief in the something.

    By admitting God, Darwinists would be admitting that they are not the highest authority when it comes to truth.

    Nope. Not true. Atheists aren’t about authority. But interesting you used this word. Agenda revealed!

    God has provided enough evidence in this life to convince anyone willing to believe, yet he has also left some ambiguity so as not to compel the unwilling.

    Illogical for a God to do.

    By ruling out the supernatural, Darwinists can avoid the possibility that anything is morally prohibited.

    Nope. Not true.

    If the atheists are right, then we might as well lie, cheat, and steal to get what we want because this life is all there is, and there are no consequences in eternity.

    Idiocy. Utter idiocy. Atheists have morality. Why is that?

    [Instead of teaching Islam] wouldn’t it be better to teach [kids] the religious truth that God wants them to love their neighbors?

    Then we should not have anti-LGBT laws. Yet the Church fights for anti-LGBT laws every day. Some “neighborly love.”

    By means of a one-sided biology curriculum, we teach kids that there’s really no difference between any human being and a pig. After all, if we’re merely the product of blind naturalistic forces—if no deity created us with any special significance—then we are nothing more than pigs with big brains.

    And yet so many of us are brainless pigs. Some “creator.”

    How interesting that God never mentions that slavery and rape are immoral, yet secular society has placed moral injunctions against those without the moral “law giver’s” help.
    This is proof that:
    A) God is not necessary for morality.
    B) God lacks morality.

    • Susan

      A) God is not necessary for morality.
      B) God lacke morality

      One coud also say that “God” is neither necessary nor sufficient for morality.

      See Euthyphro Dilemma.

      When a theist argues that without “God”, there is no basis for morality, note that they never show what “God” (even if not imaginary) would contribute to morality.

      Also, they never show that it’s not imaginary.

      • Natureboi

        One coud also say that “God” is neither necessary nor sufficient for morality.

        Are we good because it’s good to be good?
        Or are we good because we fear punishment?
        Which is the best way to be good?