Stephen Law’s 5 Morals To Guide Atheists & Believers In Debates

Stephen Law’s 5 Morals To Guide Atheists & Believers In Debates April 4, 2019

Editor’s Note: I’m thrilled that John Loftus, editor of the Debunking Christianity blog, where TCP member and The Rational Doubt Blog writer David Madison contributes, asked to contribute a post of his own here. Originally written for his blog in 2016, he thought it would be a worthy addition to our conversation on effective believer/non-believer communication.  I agree! /Linda LaScola, Editor

==============================

By John W. Loftus

You’ll find Dr. Stephen Law online all over the place.

He seems indefatigable in the goals of educating people and helping them escape from faith-based reasoning. Today I discovered he’s an active writer at the site for Center for Inquiry. What’s more I found his most recent essay to be something I agree with completely, where he offers five morals that should guide debates between atheists and believers. This is refreshing to me personally, having participated in daily discussions/debates with believers for ten years now. So here they are with my comments, along with a link to what he wrote from a forthcoming book chapter. His focus is on issues that might cause offense between us that could potentially shut down our debates, having atheists mostly in mind. [He uses the name “Peter” to refer to a Christian believer.]

  1. There’s a tendency among the religious to take offence at comparisons drawn by atheists between religious belief and other supernatural beliefs such as belief in ghosts, fairies, etc. No doubt some atheists do just want to belittle and bait the religious by making such comparisons. However, it seems to me that drawing such a comparison can be very appropriate. I certainly intend no offence by drawing it. I don’t think the religious should take offence.

The point of these comparisons is to express the need for hard cold evidence for all of these supernatural entities. The kind of evidence required to accept ghosts and fairies should be there for God. That’s all. Analogies like these are appropriate even if believers don’t like them. Please don’t take offense at them. We’re just being honest. You can take our honesty and pick it apart if you can. At least we put it out on the table.

Believers have comparisons that might seem equally offensive to atheists as well. They may say atheists cannot explain morals or consciousness until they can explain why rocks don’t have them, since life came from inanimate matter. I’m not offended when they say such ignorant things, if it’s what they believe. In appropriate circumstances they should be honest and say it, so we can have a discussion about it.

  1. Atheists should not suggest that religious folk are stupid. Unfortunately, many do. While there is some evidence that a lower IQ correlates with increased religiosity, the fact is that most popular religions – even the most absurd – can boast adherents at least as smart as myself. I count among my close friends Christians with impressive intellects. They aren’t fools.

I’ve gone on record as saying it takes a great deal of intelligence to be a Christian apologist, in that they are more intelligent than I am, since that’s what it takes to defend the indefensible. But more to the point, most religious believers are not stupid. Many of them are smarter than I am. I’m just better educated than most, that’s all, and the things that I know from being better educated lead me to say most believers are ignorant. Ignorant does not equal dumb. The smartest scientist in the world may not know that Plato was Aristotle’s teacher, or anything about the Nag Hammadi library, the Qumran Dead Sea Scrolls, nor be able to read a dead language like Koine Greek. So he or she could be ignorant about many facts and yet recognized as one of the top intellectuals in the world.

This same point of Law’s should be recognized by believers. Atheists are not stupid either. Of course, many believers have a hard time with that one, since their faith convinces them God is as obvious as the nose on one’s face. For believers to admit this fact may be a problem, one that has been made into an argument by J.L. Schellenberg, that:

  • If there is a God, he is perfectly loving.
  • If a perfectly loving God exists, reasonable nonbelief does not occur.
  • Reasonable nonbelief occurs.
  • No perfectly loving God exists (from 2 and 3).
  • Hence, there is no God.
  1. I suggest honesty is the best policy. Christians who, like William Lane Craig, think the sin of rejecting God is so momentous that atheists deserve to burn in hell, ought not to attempt to hide that opinion for fear of causing offence. First off, most atheists have thick skins. We know we’re a highly distrusted minority. Secondly, I for one would much rather understand what my intellectual opponent really believes about me than have them disguise it. After all, if a Christian really believes that, as an atheist, I am hell-bound, they surely have a moral duty to warn me. I understand and appreciate that. I think we atheists should be similarly honest. I consider Christian belief of the sort defended by Peter to be pretty ludicrous: scarcely less ludicrous, in fact, than many other religious belief systems that Peter himself would probably find ludicrous (such as Mormonism and Scientology, for example). I think I should be honest about that, rather than disguise my opinions for fear of ‘causing offence’. For obvious reasons, dialogues between belief systems where the participants try to disguise their beliefs and deal in half-truths are unlikely to be helpful in terms of getting at the truth. Nor am I convinced such deceit is even the best policy when the aim is merely getting along. If Peter tells me he believes that, being an atheist, the depth of my moral depravity is so deep as to qualify me for eternal damnation, I’ll be a little shocked. But I’ll be happy to discuss that with him. If, on the other hand, he chooses to hide this assessment from me, then there is a good chance that I’ll nevertheless detect his attitude.

Again, spot on. I too think Christianity is ludicrous and a delusional belief system comparable to Scientology, and I have said so. This is a matter of honesty. No Christian needs to take offense at this in the same way as I’m not offended when they tell me I’m hell-bound.

  1. A little mockery and leg-pulling is, in some circumstances, entirely appropriate. No one should abandon a belief because others laugh at it. Nor should any religious person or atheist be mocked merely to cause them distress. However, while humour should not take the place of rigorous criticism, it can enhance the latter’s effectiveness by breaking the spell of deference and ‘respect’ that belief systems are capable of casting over us.

In Hans Christian Anderson’s The Emperor’s New Clothes, the small boy who points and laughs breaks the spell: he allows everyone else watching the naked Emperor to see how they have been duped, to recognise the absurdity of their situation.

Exactly! I’ve written a great deal on the use of ridicule. The flip side is that atheists should be able to take a little ridicule too. Again this is about honesty. What does each person think of the views of their opponent? Let’s put that on the table so we know how far we’re apart.

What are the circumstances that allow for ridicule? Dr. Keith Parsons takes a stab at that question. But I think every one of his rules has exceptions to them, especially if we just consider the venue. For instance, comedians can break all of his rules if they can get a laugh. No one holds comedians to those high standards. By contrast, consider a face-to-face personal discussion/debate. I have never ridiculed friends in person when discussing their faith nor do I think this is good to do, even if they are being unreasonable. Still, these rules are a good starting place for discussion. For my part, I defend those who ridicule or satirize ridiculous beliefs, although I don’t do it often at all, especially since I’m not so good at it myself.

  1. Atheists should understand the often good motives of those who evangelize. After all, Christian evangelists really are trying to save us atheists. The stakes couldn’t be higher. If I could only save someone from a dangerous fall by rudely grabbing them and shouting my warning in their face, I would. I will generally forgive those who strive, by behaving with similarly urgency, to save me from a fate literally worse than death. I certainly don’t expect the religious to keep their beliefs to themselves.

Yes, if you as an atheist are upset by proselytizing believers, then at least recognize they are just trying to do what their God commanded them to do, and that they probably care about you (I don’t know which motive takes precedence, especially those who bellow out “God hates fags”). The flip side is that believers need to recognize atheists also care. We care for the personal lives of believers, their families, their communities, their states, their countries, and the world as a whole. You can see this for yourselves in my anthology, Christianity Is Not Great: How Faith Fails.

Here is the link to Dr. Law’s essay. Cheers, John Loftus

====================================

Bio:  John W. Loftus is a former Christian minister and apologist with M.A., M.Div., and Th.M. degrees in Philosophy, Theology, and the Philosophy of Religion, the last of which was earned under William Lane Craig. He is the author of Why I Became an Atheist: A Former Preacher Rejects Christianity and The Outsider Test for Faith. He edited The Christian Delusion and The End of Christianity. He has also coauthored a book with Dr. Randal Rauser titled God or Godless? One Atheist. One Christian. Twenty Controversial Questions. His website is Debunking Christianity.

>>>>>Photo Credits:  By Jyvogluweneronen – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37898735; By Hans Tegner – copy at New York Public Library, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=43544605; https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00JNPF5IK/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1; By Mark Schierbecker – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=48288113

 

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  • alwayspuzzled

    Thinking about #2. There are many different versions of the “They are stupid, therefore I must be right” argument on both sides of the atheist/Christian binary. Human nature being what it is, it is entirely possible that both sides of a binary are stupid and both sides are wrong. To rephrase Bohr, sometimes the opposite of one profound delusion is another profound delusion.

    • mason

      all the atheists I know are on the side of evidence backed by the sciences … all the believers I know are on the side of irrational belief with absolutist no scientific evidence: Hebrews 11:1 New King James Version (NKJV)
      “Now faith is the [a]substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/65f2091bad5b7f940e00bd2c1afb957a6da26411cfbd0c9a2346b0eb29c6051f.jpg

    • Linda_LaScola

      Perhaps if both were profound and both were delusions. But in the case of religious beliefs it’s a variable and often complex system of beliefs, holy books, leaders, denominations, rules, rewards and punishments. In the case of non-belief, it’s simply that — non belief.

    • Raging Bee

      Not all atheist arguments are of the “They are stupid, therefore I must be right” variety; therefore your “both-siderism” argument fails.

  • mason

    My moral rule for debating theists is question, deride, even ridicule their absurd supernatural beliefs, but not them personally by addressing the belief. So much that religion has been and still is, and is used for today, deserves our finest contempt, even hatred. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/30b4458e2385894355ac06ccf4951a81f7f4ba0a49b5b1a6c173db609b7caea7.jpg

  • mason

    5. “Atheists should understand the often good motives of those who evangelize. After all, Christian evangelists really are trying to save us atheists. The stakes couldn’t be higher. If I could only save someone from a dangerous fall by rudely grabbing them and shouting my warning in their face, I would. I will generally forgive those who strive, by behaving with similarly urgency, to save me from a fate literally worse than death. I certainly don’t expect the religious to keep their beliefs to themselves.”

    This rule #5 is the classic attempt of making a silk purse out of a sows ear. I find nothing “good” in the motives of the Evangelicals who mentally abuse and traumatize millions of children annually in the USA. Absurd beliefs to not in any way ameliorate the terrible harm done by religious zealots, regardless of the brand. Those who practice female circumcision think they have good motives, as do the disgusting males with their good motives who rule polygamists compounds.

    I think we atheists understand all the motives of Evangelical types, but to even infer they are “good” in any sense, is a real twisting of the adjective.

    • Sophotroph

      One can do harm while imagining one is doing good. Many apologists might be slimy liars, but most people out proselytizing are either doing it out of social obligation to their church or because they really believe non-Christians are throwing their eternities away.

      The latter have good intentions, but are operating from flawed premises. They don’t know they’re causing harm.

      We can extend our understanding and compassion to them even if we don’t approve of their actions. They’re best seen as mislead rather than evil.

  • Mike Panic

    Telling me I will end up in hell for not obeying is INTIMIDATION. Contact your nearest prosecutor.

  • Ignorant Amos

    Coincidentally, I’ve just started reading Stephen Law’s “Believing Bullshit”….spppoooooooookkkkkkyyyyyyy

  • Graham Heron

    #5, honest evangelizers.
    IF the religious person is being honest with me AND themselves, I am happy to extend such characterisation to them
    I can then assume they don’t know the bible that well and we can forward the conversation.
    If they parrot a simple argument (e.g. kalam cosmological argument), happy to engage and point out issues.

    Once they show they are aware of the problems with the bible and/or their presented arguments, I know consider them to be dishonest people and treat them as such. The level of cognitive dissonance, motivated reasoning etc they have to do to accept their position demonstrates that.

    When you get the likes of WLC, Slick, Turek, Desouza etc, torturing words to make their case, they are so inherently dishonest I have no tolerance for them.

    • Thanks for your comment, and a BIG BIG THANKS to Linda for publishing my essay.

      We all have different perspectives on this issue and mine are not meant to tell others what to do, but are merely for consideration. I suspect how we deal with believers depends on factors like 1) how much religion has hurt us, 2) how much we know about the religion under examination, as well as 3) what we think of the apologists we are dealing with, 4) the kind of venue in which the discussion is taking place (i.e., person to person, comedy, lecture, online blog, podcast, vblog, or book), 5) the nature of our target audience, and 6) whether we think staunch believers can be convinced and consequently whether our goal is to convince them, or to convince others who are on their way out, or already out the door.

      Cheers

      • Ignorant Amos

        I tend to get a good bit of distance by pulling out the OTfF…it’s amazing how eventually one hears the sound of crickets. Hopefully it is due to the fact that there is some amount of deep pondering being done and rational contemplation necessitates the silence.

        Anyway, I’ve a number of your works and enjoy reading them immensely, they are also grand tools for citing. Thanks.

        • Thanks for saying this! You are not ignorant after all, Amos 😉

        • Any idea if The Outsider Test for Faith has gotten traction in academia? I worry that John is predicating too much on the idea that you can start with ‘pure reason’, then collect evidence and successfully interpret it, so that everything is always 100% logically derived from “the evidence” and that ‘pure reason’. Does something other than ‘pure reason’ sneak in? I know it’s standard for atheists to add something like: (1) there is an external world; (2) I can generally trust my senses. But is that really enough? Can we program an AI which successfully works off of only those and ‘pure reason’?

          Perhaps what the OTfF really does is pour acid on anything the people in dialogue don’t believe in common, what isn’t in the plausibility structure of all. This would be sort of like Hume thinking he had discovered universal human morality, when in fact he had merely done a parochial sampling that was better than most of his peers.

          • The last time Luke Breuer wrote something on his own blog was in June 2014: https://labreuer.wordpress.com/

            Breuer hijacks other people’s blogs. He’s a parasite. I eventually banned him since he wrote more comments than the rest of us combined. He left me no choice. He would’ve taken over my blog otherwise. He’s like a smelly fart you can’t get away from.

            On the OTF Breuer still refuses to grasp this simple concept.

            Here are the first few pages describing it from my book:

            http://www.debunking-christianity.com/2017/12/the-first-few-pages-from-outsider-test.html

            Here is my most recent defense of it:

            http://www.debunking-christianity.com/2018/11/the-conclusion-driven-arguments-of.html

            Since I don’t like beating my head against the wall, I’m not planning on wasting my time with him any further.

            Cheers

          • Ignorant Amos

            Yeah…I’ve had extensive experience with Luke Breuer at Outshine the Sun and Cross Examined. He got the hammer at both those blogs.

            He certainly has the ability to fuck up a thread with reams of crap he has retrieved from his database of guff that don’t usually support his position…every comment littered with lots of annoyingly time wasteful blue links.

            I eventually banned him since he wrote more comments than the rest of us combined.

            Something he complains about, but he has a different take on the reason why.

            I’m well prepared for his rabbit hole opening and thread wrecking abilities. But I appreciate that you are just giving the rest of the folk here the heads up.

          • Breuer hijacks other people’s blogs. He’s a parasite. I eventually banned him since he wrote more comments than the rest of us combined.

            This does not match the evidence. Here’s your claim for the first ban:

            JWL: I’m going to ban you for ignorance.You are not dealing with my arguments.

            I think that’s demonstrably false, but perhaps that’s a rabbit hole and people will accept your testimony instead of heeding the evidence like good scientists. Here’s the claim for your second ban:

            JWL: articulett, sir-russ has stopped coming here because of Luke’s nonsense. Shall we ban Luke?

            Since you had by then asked me to only leave five comments per day on DC and I obliged, the reason cannot possibly be that I was overwhelming people with too many comments. The empirical evidence does not match your claims, John.

            Now, until a Rational Doubt moderator says otherwise, I will apply a five comments per day restriction to RD as well. See you all tomorrow, unless the choice is to ban me for a reason other than writing lots and lots of comments.

            [Edit: added clarifying underline.]

          • Ignorant Amos

            How long were the five comments?

            He would’ve taken over my blog otherwise.

            That would suggest a measure of anticipation on John’s part.

          • Well I’ll guarantee you one thing Breuer, you were not banned because of your brilliant arguments or superior knowledge or brutal honesty at dealing the truth, if that’s what you imply. You were banned because of your obtuseness, obfuscationism and obstinence. I can only tolerate so much of that. If anything I tried really hard. But you were an almost complete waste of my time, just as you are now.

          • Well, perhaps I can merely serve to notify you of papers possibly relevant to OTfF of which you might be unaware. Have you come across Tomas Bogardus’ Nov 2013 The Problem of Contingency for Religious Belief? (20 ‘citations’) If you say that Bogardus’ argument is irrelevant to your own arguments (recall the reason for first banning me), I will be flummoxed, but you will of course see that as entirely predictable.

          • Philip Rand

            pssssssst….Luke… whatever you do….don’t mention the “hat”….

          • Ignorant Amos

            Well it certainly seems irrelevant to me.

            I was born into a Christian environment. It was solely a Protestant one. Church of Ireland, but we mixed freely with all other Protestant denominations. Had I been born a few hundred yards to the west, I’d have been born into a Christian environment that was solely Roman Catholic.

            I was raised in a segregated city that taught me that those Roman Catholics had the wrong knowledge and I had the correct knowledge. Whose is correct? Why? The OTfF is about looking at oneself as you would the others. To me the young Protestant, the wafer and wine actually turning into the body and blood of Jesus was bonkers. It’s the same today. But the belief in the Trinity nonsense, was not so much, though it is today.

            The thing is, we are all born as blank slates. So are beliefs are contingent on where and when we enter into this world, and to whom.

            The OTfF has nothing to do with the veracity of the individuals knowledge or beliefs. It’s about the ridiculousness of them if you can manage to look in as an outsider. The beliefs of a Mormon might well be true…I don’t think so, Mormons certainly think so…but to me, they are cloud cuckoo land crazy. They were that when I was an Anglican Christian, and they are still that today as an atheist. Because from both perspectives, I’ve been the outsider. The difference today is that I’m also the outsider to all the 45,000+ flavours of Christianity being touted, those beliefs look crackers to me too. Not so much when I was an insider though. Can they all be correct? Nope. Can they all be incorrect? Yep.

          • The OTfF has nothing to do with the veracity of the individuals knowledge or beliefs. It’s about the ridiculousness of them if you can manage to look in as an outsider.

            How about an outsider from 6000 years ago? As far as I can tell, the OTfF is just a short-cut version of Descartes’ radical doubt. It ends up wiping away all beliefs that aren’t shared by the two individuals, modulo those which can be rebuilt using the same mutual accepted means of reasoning. It’s Descartes’ radical doubt with common ground as epistemological freebie. Perhaps that common ground is implicitly understood as ‘neutral’, even though philosophers by now know that no such thing exists.

            A much more restrictive version of what I [perhaps incorrectly] understand to be the OTfF would be impartiality/​anti-hypocrisy: you don’t get to use different standards for evaluating those beliefs as evaluating your own beliefs. This can be taken some ways, but The Incommensurability of Scientific Theories is going to screw with you eventually. I would have a lot more respect for the anti-hypocrisy interpretation. But there’s a lot of friction between this interpretation and the one which privileges the epistemic powers of the emotion of ‘ridiculousness’.

            By the way, plenty of academics within one school of thought think that the theories of those in another school of thought are “ridiculous”. What does the OTfF say about this?

          • Ignorant Amos

            How about an outsider from 6000 years ago?

            How about it?

            As far as I can tell, the OTfF is just a short-cut version of Descartes’ radical doubt. It ends up wiping away all beliefs that aren’t shared by the two individuals, modulo those which can be rebuilt using the same mutual accepted means of reasoning. It’s Descartes’ radical doubt with common ground as epistemological freebie. Perhaps that common ground is implicitly understood as ‘neutral’, even though philosophers by now know that no such thing exists.

            As far as you can tell?

            As far as I can tell, you are trying to over complicate this.

            What is your thoughts on the Islamic belief that Mo rode a flying horse?

            Are you skeptic to the truth claim of that belief?

            Why?

            Now take the reasoning why and apply the same reasoning to your own faiths outlandish claims.

            A much more restrictive version of what I [perhaps incorrectly] understand to be the OTfF would be impartiality/​anti-hypocrisy: you don’t get to use different standards for evaluating those beliefs as evaluating your own beliefs.

            That’s it.

            This can be taken some ways, but The Incommensurability of Scientific Theories is going to screw with you eventually. I would have a lot more respect for the anti-hypocrisy interpretation. But there’s a lot of friction between this interpretation and the one which privileges the epistemic powers of the emotion of ‘ridiculousness’.

            The test is an attempt to get the believer to give up the hypocrisy of special pleading for his own religious claims. Particularly the supernatural elements. And to investigate why the believer believes what they believe.

            As to “ridiculousness”…people who believe Mo actually rode a flying horse, are being ridiculous. People who believe Mormons are protected by magic underpants, are being ridiculous. People who believe the universe is only 6000 years old, are being ridiculous. People that believe an itinerant first century Jew was Yahweh incarnate and resurrected from the dead, then raised into an etheral domain called Heaven, are being ridiculous.

            I’ll go out on a limb here and assert you’d agree with 3 out of 4 of those statements. Apparently, it was not so long ago, it would’ve only been 2 of them.

            By the way, plenty of academics within one school of thought think that the theories of those in another school of thought are “ridiculous”.

            No doubt. Do you think they have any justification? Are the claims of these school’s of thought being criticized as ridiculous, extraordinary in an way? Being an academic is not a defence from being ridiculous.

            “Methodological procedures are those tests we use to investigate something. How we go about investigating something is a separate issue that must be justified on its own terms.”

            What does the OTfF say about this?

            Don’t ya know?

            It’s called “The Outsider Test for FAITH“.

            That you are intent on obfuscating is telling.

            This whole inside/outside perspective is quite a dilemma and prompts me to propose and argue on behalf of the OTF, the result of which makes the presumption of skepticism the preferred stance when approaching any religious faith, especially one’s own. The outsider test is simply a challenge to test one’s own religious faith with the presumption of skepticism, as an outsider. It calls upon believers to “Test or examine your religious beliefs as if you were outsiders with the same presumption of skepticism you use to test or examine other religious beliefs.” Its presumption is that when examining any set of religious beliefs skepticism is warranted, since the odds are good that the particular set of religious beliefs you have adopted is wrong.

            http://www.debunking-christianity.com/2009/03/outsider-test-for-faith_20.html

          • IA: The OTfF has nothing to do with the veracity of the individuals knowledge or beliefs. It’s about the ridiculousness of them if you can manage to look in as an outsider.

            LB: How about an outsider from 6000 years ago?

            IA: How about it?

            What beliefs of yours would survive if someone from 6000 years ago were to practice the OTfF with you?

            As far as I can tell, you are trying to over complicate this.

            You have confirmed that a key part of the OTfF is to fight hypocrisy: having different standards apply to different groups or in different situations. As far as I can tell, you want to hypocritically apply the OTfF: only to things you find “ridiculous”.

            What is your thoughts on the Islamic belief that Mo rode a flying horse?

            I already answered this: “If someone tells me he was probed by aliens …”

            Now take the reasoning why and apply the same reasoning to your own faiths outlandish claims.

            My confidence is not drawn from those “outlandish claims”. Why am I having to repeat myself?: “I don’t see miracles as having evidential power.”

            As to “ridiculousness”…people who believe Mo actually rode a flying horse, are being ridiculous.

            I doubt such beliefs are anywhere near as dangerous as beliefs which too highly estimate the goodness of human nature. So perhaps “The Outsider Test for FAITH is what they call in the Navy, “Majoring in the minors and minoring in the majors.” Perhaps that’s where I should stop this reply?

          • Ignorant Amos

            What beliefs of yours would survive if someone from 6000 years ago were to practice the OTfF with you?

            Luke, I have no idea what you are getting at here, please explain?

            Is it a version of Arthur C. Clarke’s Third Law?

            “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

            The OTfF is an introspective concept. How do you propose the hypothetical 6,000 year old would practice the test on me?

            How do you think this impacts on the veracity of the test?

            You have confirmed that a key part of the OTfF is to fight hypocrisy: having different standards apply to different groups or in different situations. As far as I can tell, you want to hypocritically apply the OTfF: only to things you find “ridiculous”.

            It seems apparent that you don’t understand the test. It’s not down to anyone to apply the test to anyone else. It is up to the individual to a apply the test to themselves. What are the things one finds ridiculous about other religions and why, then apply the same thinking to aspects of ones own religion. Honestly. Not doing it honestly is where the hypocrisy comes in. Because you’d expect a Muslim, Mormon, or Scientologist, to be equally as honest.

            You have no more evidence or justification for your supernatural beliefs than all other religions supernatural claims. If you think you have, I for one would like to see it.

            I already answered this: “If someone tells me he was probed by aliens …”

            I musta missed it…I’ll have another look to see why, but can ya link?

            My confidence is not drawn from those “outlandish claims”. Why am I having to repeat myself?: “I don’t see miracles as having evidential power.”

            So where do you get the “evidential power” bits from, and why are they more powerful than all the other guys?

            I doubt such beliefs are anywhere near as dangerous as beliefs which too highly estimate the goodness of human nature.

            Another red herring. Whatever danger is higher or lower, is irrelevant to the issue. Do you agree that people who believe in faux prophets riding a flying horse across the middle eastern sky to get the words of Allah via an archangel, is ridiculous?

            So perhaps “The Outsider Test for FAITH” is what they call in the Navy, “Majoring in the minors and minoring in the majors.”

            You’d like that to be the case, understandable.

            It really scares the shit outta ya Luke, doesn’t it?

            Perhaps that’s where I should stop this reply?

            Since all you’ve offered is obfuscation on the matter, perhaps it is where ya should stop.

          • Pofarmer

            Luke, I have no idea what you are getting at here, please explain?

            You know as well as I do that a big part of dickheads Schtick is to get you to be radically skeptical of all knowledge. We can’t really know anything. ad nauseum.

          • Ignorant Amos

            His problem is that he has already moved from being a young earth creationist to a believer in evolution.

            He had to use a method to get from the absurdity of creationism to the scientifically accepted Theory of Evolution. I’m wondering what aspect of the God Virus it is that has him trapped.

          • Pofarmer

            At this point, it seems to be him believing that Christianity leads to, “The Good.” He doesn’t process things like the abiogensian Crusade or the Magdalene laundries very well, if I recall.

          • The OTfF is an introspective concept. How do you propose the hypothetical 6,000 year old would practice the test on me?

            You have left the term ‘ridiculous’ unanalyzed; what makes a belief ‘ridiculous’? Sometimes you can get there by 100% introspection, but I suspect that the vast majority of the time, you only find a belief ‘ridiculous’ because you ran into someone who helped you see it in that light. I’m working off of very rough understandings of plausibility structure and recipe knowledge, here. Belief is an inherently social phenomenon; to not include sociologists in developing the OTfF is to wander outside one’s own area of expertise and disdain others’.

            I’ll leave your other two questions for now, as I may have [partially] answered them.

            It seems apparent that you don’t understand the test. It’s not down to anyone to apply the test to anyone else. It is up to the individual to a apply the test to themselves.

            Sorry, I don’t believe this is what actually happens, psychologically. I have worked very hard not to be hypocritical, in part because in many of the online places I’ve frequented, people seem to love pointing out any apparent hypocrisy on my part. And yet, despite all these attempts, quite a few times I have been caught espousing one standard and practicing another. I was not able to see those instances without outside help. I have accepted this as a fact about reality: I cannot achieve internal coherence entirely on my own.

            There is a second problem: if the individual believes anything contradictory, then via classical logic, anything can be proven. So you don’t necessarily want someone to do something analogous to Descartes’ Cartesian Doubt. If one values logic above empirical matching, one can go crazy places. And yet sometimes empirical matching forces contradictions, such as the one between GR and QFT near the event horizons of black holes. Maybe you mean something more/other than ‘contradiction’ when you say ‘ridiculous’?

            You have no more evidence or justification for your supernatural beliefs than all other religions supernatural claims. If you think you have, I for one would like to see it.

            Once again: “I don’t see miracles as having evidential power.” I’ll add:

            LB: The “supernatural” I believe in wants us to face ourselves, rather than believe in delusions which result in mass death. The only thing that’s magical about that is humans are so fantastically good at flattering themselves with pretty stories; to break through such hubris and self-righteousness is miraculous.

            My primary evidence is that science doesn’t seem to study the dynamics of self-righteousness in any depth. If I saw peer-reviewed studies of self-righteousness, my faith could be shaken—they’d probably have to deviate from my understanding of self-righteousness as exposed in the Bible in some interesting way. (Merely developing the themes therein wouldn’t do it.) I can attempt a definition of ‘self-righteousness’, if you’d like. The one I would have given while a creationist is probably quite different from the one I’d give now.

            I musta missed it…I’ll have another look to see why, but can ya link?

            You subsequently saw it, so I’ll just say that when I put text from another comment in quotes, it is virtually always hyperlinked. Disqus by default doesn’t make hyperlinks easy to see, so I use StyleBot with this style:

            div.post-body-inner a {
            color: #03abff;
            }

            So where do you get the “evidential power” bits from, and why are they more powerful than all the other guys?

            I haven’t compared my beliefs to every other system of beliefs out there, because that is physiologically impossible. Instead, I value the continual progress I seem to be making, and check here and there to see if anyone else seems to be pulling further ahead with other beliefs. I’m not sure else what one can do, given the limitations of being a human being.

            It really scares the shit outta ya Luke, doesn’t it?

            How am I supposed to respond to in principle unfalsifiable statements?

          • Ignorant Amos

            You have left the term ‘ridiculous’ unanalyzed; what makes a belief ‘ridiculous’? Sometimes you can get there by 100% introspection, but I suspect that the vast majority of the time, you only find a belief ‘ridiculous’ because you ran into someone who helped you see it in that light.

            ridiculous: deserving or inviting derision or mockery; absurd.

            The reason all other religious beliefs were ridiculous, was because they weren’t my religious beliefs, and if my religious beliefs were true, then the others couldn’t be. That position was held in more or less complete ignorance of all other religions beliefs.

            I stopped believing in the Christ story and the buybull as a whole, not because of the influence of those around me, but because it really is all fucking ridiculous, no matter what all those around me thought. Those around me were hardcore Protestants, though I’ve since found out, they know very little about the bible. This was well before I even knew what an atheist was. What makes particular beliefs ridiculous, is there grounding and what I think I know of the world around me.

            It isn’t rocket science to be able to work out for oneself that the silly old books are full of made up ridiculous nonsense, which means they are works of fiction devised for a purpose.

            I’d taken the OTfF decades ago. I was born at a particular time, place, and culture of 20th century Christianity…particularly C of I sectarian Protestantism…as as such, was one of those. It was all bullshit. I don’t need it.

            My belief that there are certain particular beliefs that are ridiculous has only been bolstered by what I’ve learned subsequently.

            I’m working off of very rough understandings of plausibility structure and recipe knowledge, here. Belief is an inherently social phenomenon; to not include sociologists in developing the OTfF is to wander outside one’s own area of expertise and disdain others’.

            You are working off using any excuse to face the reality of your position.

            Sorry, I don’t believe this is what actually happens, psychologically. I have worked very hard not to be hypocritical, in part because in many of the online places I’ve frequented, people seem to love pointing out any apparent hypocrisy on my part. And yet, despite all these attempts, quite a few times I have been caught espousing one standard and practicing another. I was not able to see those instances without outside help. I have accepted this as a fact about reality: I cannot achieve internal coherence entirely on my own.

            Which has nothing whatsoever with you applying the OTfF to yourself…which is what is necessary for the test to work.

            You have to look at an article of your own faith, that if you had never heard of it before, does it seem a rational belief to hold.

            You have to look at the reason why you hold such beliefs.

            If you are unable to apply the test because of the hypocrisy held in your own mind that needs the help of others, then the problem is not with the test. But this just sounds like excuses. The test really isn’t as convoluted and as difficult as you are trying to make out.

            There are lots of things touted that are ridiculous that require little to no help in recognizing they are ridiculous. Flat-earth belief springs straight to mind.

            You have demonstrated that you once held a ridiculous belief that ultimately, only you were able to reject.

            Maybe you mean something more/other than ‘contradiction’ when you say ‘ridiculous’?

            Contradictions are ridiculous when ever they are forcibly argued, but you well know by now that there are far more ridiculous assertions in the Bible than the hordes of contradictions. I’m talking about all the absurdities.

            https://infidels.org/library/modern/donald_morgan/absurd.html

            https://www.salon.com/2014/05/31/11_kinds_of_bible_verses_christians_love_to_ignore_partner/

            https://www.ranker.com/list/top-20-bible-passages-to-use-against-fundamentalists/ivana-wynn

            Stuff that if you were outside your faith, you too would think are ridiculous if you were being perfectly honest with yourself. The sort of things that if when others claim, you’d immediately think that’s ridiculous.

            My primary evidence is that science doesn’t seem to study the dynamics of self-righteousness in any depth.

            Why should it?

            If I saw peer-reviewed studies of self-righteousness, my faith could be shaken—they’d probably have to deviate from my understanding of self-righteousness as exposed in the Bible in some interesting way. (Merely developing the themes therein wouldn’t do it.) I can attempt a definition of ‘self-righteousness’, if you’d like.

            You’ll need to Luke, because as far as I can ascertain, it’s nothing to be proud of as defined and used in common parlance.

            https://www.gotquestions.org/self-righteousness.html

            The one I would have given while a creationist is probably quite different from the one I’d give now.

            Has the meaning changed, or your understanding of the meaning.

            Self-righteousness seems better characterized as feeling “less evil than thou” than feeling “holier than thou.”

            You subsequently saw it, so I’ll just say that when I put text from another comment in quotes, it is virtually always hyperlinked. Disqus by default doesn’t make hyperlinks easy to see, so I use StyleBot with this style:

            A had seen the comment, just didn’t have the time to address the comments and subsequently. The links weren’t working…either the blue ones in the e-mail notification, or the black in the comment proper…probably a temporary bug in Disqus…they worked when a closed and reopened Chrome.

            I haven’t compared my beliefs to every other system of beliefs out there, because that is physiologically impossible. Instead, I value the continual progress I seem to be making, and check here and there to see if anyone else seems to be pulling further ahead with other beliefs. I’m not sure else what one can do, given the limitations of being a human being.

            Wait. So your beliefs have nothing to do with the religion, or your version of the religion, they are buried in? The story is just a vehicle for the ideals you have eked out of the dross and find of value. And since you found them in the religion of your culture, that good enough?

            Given those principles are not reliant on the supernatural of the stories, I have to wonder why you need to hold on to the excess baggage.

            How am I supposed to respond to in principle unfalsifiable statements?

            Two things. Lots of the ridiculous statements found in the scriptures are not unfalsifiable. And the unfalsifiable statements apply equally to all the other religions. This is the point of the OTfF. If they are all unfalsifiable statements, then they are all without evidence and the skeptical position is the rational position. Favoring one group is special pleading.

          • You have to look at an article of your own faith, that if you had never heard of it before, does it seem a rational belief to hold.

            In doing so, how do you counter this phenomenon:

            A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it. (Max Planck)

            ? And what should I do in the face of this:

            Our basic thesis—that we are strategically blind to key aspects of our motives—has been around in some form or another for millennia. It’s been put forward not only by poets, playwrights, and philosophers, but also by countless wise old souls, at least when you catch them in private and in the right sort of mood. And yet the thesis still seems to us neglected in scholarly writings; you can read a mountain of books and still miss it. (The Elephant in the Brain, ix)

            ? Should I side with all the people who suppress this thesis? After all surely all those people see it as ‘ridiculous’! Many elements of my faith agree with aspects advanced by Simler and Hanson, aspects which seem generally denied in culture at large, in science, and in scholarship. I think it’s plausible that most of humans alive in the West today would see Simler and Hanson as engaged in such cherry-picking and such distorting of the evidence that The Elephant in the Brain can be dismissed as ‘ridiculous’. Yes, I’m working with the OTfF here, not the OTfF.

            Ok, so let me present three slightly different variations on how I’m currently thinking of the OFfF:

            (1) Are all of my beliefs internally consistent? This includes beliefs or thoughtfully chosen rejection of others’ beliefs.

            (2) If I were to remove any given belief of mine, could it be derived from all the other beliefs? (see bootstrapping)

            (3) If I were to remove any given belief of mine, would the rest readjust so that the removed belief no longer fits? Or would there be a sort of gap left behind, ready to accept it again?

            I doubt any of these fully encompasses the OTfF, but they are the best way I know how to process through it. If that’s not good enough for you, if you decide that they are merely more evidence that “[I am] blinded by [my] version of the god virus”, then I don’t know where to go next.

            The test really isn’t as convoluted and as difficult as you are trying to make out.

            I disagree; I think it is a huge flaw that it is presented as the OTfF instead of the OTfF. Indeed, a central aspect of hypocrisy is to apply one standard to one group/​area and a different standard to another group/​area. Whenever I try to exceed the bounds of the OTfF to the OTfF, I get criticized like you have here. And yet, that is exactly the pattern I regularly observe with hypocrisy and self-righteousness: double-standards which are pushed on people by assaulting their intellectual and/or moral character.

            I justify the convolutedness on the basis that it is much harder to find holes and gaps in logic than it is to find outright contradictions. The fact that it took so long for someone like Alvin Plantinga to show a hole in the logic of the problem of evil is a nice example. He pointed out that one of several suppressed premises was required for the logic to hold, but nobody had seen that before! It’s like thinking the parallel postulate is required when in fact, Euclidean geometry isn’t the only kind. The Babylon 5 episode I watched last night illustrates this perfectly: in And the Rock Cried Out, No Hiding Place, Captain John Sheridan is trying to understand the logic of a series of Shadow attacks. He can’t figure it out for the longest time. It finally dawns on him that there is a hole in the attacks: a particular region of space has been left apparently untouched and safe. This was the logic, and the only logic, of the seemingly random attacks. The inference made in the episode is that the enemy is driving all the refugees into that apparent “safe zone”, only to slaughter them at some future point. But it was very hard to see the gap.

            Wait. So your beliefs have nothing to do with the religion, or your version of the religion, they are buried in? The story is just a vehicle for the ideals you have eked out of the dross and find of value. And since you found them in the religion of your culture, that good enough?

            Nope. One can take various bits and pieces of wisdom from the Bible yes, but I have found then the more I add—once I understand them well enough—the more of a nonlinear effect I get. It is as if the various bits reinforce each other. I pay special attention to the bits which seem decisively rejected by Western culture, as well as the ones which have been decisively corroborated by solid evidence. (For example: I found out that something awfully close to my understanding of relational sin was implemented in an academy system (boarding schools) for troubled youth, after which the number of reported conflicts dropped by 50%.) The more I work through this, the more I see the crucifixion of Jesus as necessary to expose self-righteousness; you can see my most recent stance in this conversation I started on another RD page. (Sadly, due to @johnwloftus:disqus’ falsehoods, I am presently self-restricted to 5 comments per day so the progress will be slow.)

            Given those principles are not reliant on the supernatural of the stories, I have to wonder why you need to hold on to the excess baggage.

            Because grace and mercy, forgiveness and repentance, appear to be required to overcome self-righteousness. I mean something rather different from the term than the God Questions article; I can work up a definition if you’re at all interested. I will rely heavily on the difference between the technical terms ‘public knowledge’ and ‘common knowledge’, I think taken from the sociology of knowledge. I will also draw on an analogue to the second law of thermodynamics: once one has accepted falsehood into one’s judgment of righteous vs. unrighteous or good vs. bad, then one’s own judgment is tainted. It’s like an increase in entropy which can only be overcome by outside help. Well, what happens when a whole society integrates such taint into its judgment? A whole race? The idea that we can always rescue ourselves from such errors is, as far as I can tell, utterly unwarranted by evidence or logic. This pushes toward a source which is outside of any box one can draw. Either such a source exists, or it does not. If it does, how would we know it? I think the Bible is a good example of the kind of thing such a source would provide to us—we desperately need it, as Simler and Hanson unwittingly demonstrate.

            (BTW, the above paragraph is closer to abductive reasoning than inductive or deductive.)

          • Ignorant Amos

            In doing so, how do you counter this phenomenon:

            By pointing out he is wrong.

            Detailed accounts of major scientific changes reveal, time after time, how quickly scientists adopt novel theories—provided they are well supported.

          • Planck was not talking about theories which have reached the “well supported” phase. Your ignorance of that reminds me of venture capitalists who want you to have already built the product you want to make with your company, in order to prove that you can make it.

          • Ignorant Amos

            Planck was not talking about theories which have reached the “well supported” phase.

            Whaaa? WTF was he talking about then?

            Opponents to new scientific theories have to die before those theories truth value can get accepted? It’s wrong.

            Theories aren’t theories until they are well supported, they are hypotheses.

            Einsteins Theory of General Relativity didn’t have to wait on everyone at the time it was published, to die, in order for its truth value to be accepted in the scientific community. The scientists working on the Manhattan Project certainly had no problem accepting it in Einsteins lifetime. Ironically, Planck himself was one of the first to immediately recognize the significance of Einsteins Theory, thereby negating that stupid quote himself.

            The Theory of Evolution by natural selection didn’t have to wait until everyone living at the time it was proposed, to die, in order for its truth value to be accepted in the scientific community.

            Your ignorance of that reminds me of venture capitalists who want you to have already built the product you want to make with your company, in order to prove that you can make it.

            My ignorance? And the ignorance of..let me see…fucking scientists and historians of science.

            As the historian of science Bernard Cohen noted, even Planck—whose ideas were no less revolutionary than the other examples mentioned here—managed to convince most of his peers, not only the new generation.

            https://www.edge.org/response-detail/25332

            So, another shite analogy from a Christer. For someone who wants to be seen as so knowledgeable, this is pretty pathetic.

            Your ignorance and use of quotes that don’t support your position, has just reminded me of why you are so disliked and get banned.

            BTW, how many Nobel Laureates in the sciences recieve their awards posthumously?

          • A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it. (Max Planck)

            IA: Detailed accounts of major scientific changes reveal, time after time, how quickly scientists adopt novel theories—provided they are well supported.

            LB: Planck was not talking about theories which have reached the “well supported” phase.

            IA: Whaaa? WTF was he talking about then?

            Opponents to new scientific theories have to die before those theories truth value can get accepted? It’s wrong.

            Theories aren’t theories until they are well supported, they are hypotheses.

            Planck’s term, at least translated to English, is “scientific truth”. He was obviously using some amount of hyperbole, but it is true enough that the 77-year-old sociologist mentoring me has merely murmured in agreement when I brought it up. He is probably aware of empirical evidence which supports Planck’s statement; would you like me to ask him for some?

            One simple mechanism of preventing new science from ever reaching the “theory” stage is to deprive it of funding. Funding is often controlled by old-timers, who have a demonstrated track record. But they tend to be deeply invested in the way of looking at and doing things which worked well for them. This leads to skepticism of the new. Kenneth Gergen documents examples of this in the second edition of Toward Transformation in Social Knowledge: sociologists who had dedicated their careers to positivism were generally unwilling to retool for the last ten years of their career. Ideological inertia is real.

            Another mechanism is ridicule by influential scientists coupled with threats to remove their prestige from organizations which do not shun “crackpots”; an example of this is Scott Aaronson’s I was wrong about Joy Christian. I’m friends with a long-time faculty member at one of the world’s premier research institutions who thinks that the “crackpot” may have some good ideas and that Aaronson was completely out-of-line in his attack. Suffice it to say that this is another way to deprive fledgling science of getting to the point where it can leave the nest and either fly or fall to its death.

            I am sure there is more complexity that can be uncovered. Are you open to the possibility that you’re wrong about Planck’s statement (perhaps you have misunderstood it)?

            Your ignorance and use of quotes that don’t support your position, has just reminded me of why you are so disliked and get banned.

            My ignorance of your unwillingness or inability to interpret charitably is a problem, yes. I should have pedantically qualified Planck’s statement from the get-go when talking to you or people like you; my apologies for screwing up so badly.

            BTW, how many Nobel Laureates in the sciences recieve their awards posthumously?

            Part of the answer is here:

            From 1974, the Statutes of the Nobel Foundation stipulate that a Prize cannot be awarded posthumously, unless death has occurred after the announcement of the Nobel Prize. Before 1974, the Nobel Prize has only been awarded posthumously twice: to Dag Hammarskjöld (Nobel Peace Prize 1961) and Erik Axel Karlfeldt (Nobel Prize in Literature 1931). (nobelprize.org: Nobel Prize facts)

            More of the answer is here:

            Although posthumous nominations are not presently permitted, individuals who died in the months between their nomination and the decision of the prize committee were originally eligible to receive the prize. This has occurred twice: the 1931 Literature Prize awarded to Erik Axel Karlfeldt, and the 1961 Peace Prize awarded to UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld. Since 1974, laureates must be thought alive at the time of the October announcement. (WP: Nobel Prize § Posthumous nominations)

            Notice that the names line up. It would appear that it has never been a live option for the Nobel Prize to be awarded posthumously. But surely I’m wrong, since I’m:

                 (1) “a Christer”
                 (2) “ignoran[t]”
                 (3) “disliked”
                 (4) “banned [on certain atheist-dominated sites]”

          • Ignorant Amos

            Planck’s term, at least translated to English, is “scientific truth”. He was obviously using some amount of hyperbole, but it is true enough that the 77-year-old sociologist mentoring me has merely murmured in agreement when I brought it up. He is probably aware of empirical evidence which supports Planck’s statement; would you like me to ask him for some?

            Ask him if ya like, I’ve already gave examples of why it is wrong. I only needed the one to refute it, you finding some examples that fit, mean nothing.

            One simple mechanism of preventing new science from ever reaching the “theory” stage is to deprive it of funding. Funding is often controlled by old-timers, who have a demonstrated track record. But they tend to be deeply invested in the way of looking at and doing things which worked well for them. This leads to skepticism of the new. Kenneth Gergen documents examples of this in the second edition of Toward Transformation in Social Knowledge: sociologists who had dedicated their careers to positivism were generally unwilling to retool for the last ten years of their career. Ideological inertia is real.

            No relevance whatsoever.

            Another mechanism is ridicule by influential scientists coupled with threats to remove their prestige from organizations which do not shun “crackpots”; an example of this is Scott Aaronson’s I was wrong about Joy Christian. I’m friends with a long-time faculty member at one of the world’s premier research institutions who thinks that the “crackpot” may have some good ideas and that Aaronson was completely out-of-line in his attack. Suffice it to say that this is another way to deprive fledgling science of getting to the point where it can leave the nest and either fly or fall to its death.

            No relevance whatsoever.

            I am sure there is more complexity that can be uncovered. Are you open to the possibility that you’re wrong about Planck’s statement (perhaps you have misunderstood it)?

            Why have I misunderstood it and not you…or your mentor? Are you open to the possibility that you are wrong?

            You seem to have ignored the whole part of my comment that points to that position. And the Edge article explaining why.

            Planck’s Cynical View Of Scientific Change ~Hugo Mercier, Cognitive Scientist, French National Center for Scientific Research; Co-author (with Dan Sperber) of The Enigma of Reason

            https://www.edge.org/response-detail/25332

            My ignorance of your unwillingness or inability to interpret charitably is a problem, yes.

            You are not that ignorant, we have history. And you are not the one who should be given lectures on charitable interpretations.

            Anyway. Interpret what charitably? That you used an erroneous quote by Planck? Is the quote you used, accurate or not? Does it jive with what we see?

            I should have pedantically qualified Planck’s statement from the get-go when talking to you or people like you; my apologies for screwing up so badly.

            Don’t get me started on this line of bullshit Luke, you and I have a past of you saying one thing, and meaning another. And reading too much into things that are not there.

            Part of the answer is here:

            Jaysus fuck….whooooooosh!

            Try reading for comprehension.

            BTW, how many Nobel Laureates in the sciences receive their awards posthumously?

            So the short answer, is “none”.

            The point is, that scientists and their new scientific discoveries, are acknowledged within the lifetimes of other scientists all the time. It doesn’t take the death of any detractors in the fields.

            Notice that the names line up. It would appear that it has never been a live option for the Nobel Prize to be awarded posthumously.

            Which was my point. The question was rhetorical.

            But surely I’m wrong, since I’m:

            (1) “a Christer”
            (2) “ignoran[t]”
            (3) “disliked”
            (4) “banned [on certain atheist-dominated sites]”

            No, your reply is stupid for other reasons.

            So, another shite analogy from a Christer.

            Because I have extensive experience with Christer’s (a Christian who publicly displays his or her religion) giving analogies that are shite.

            https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Christer

            Your ignorance and use of quotes that don’t support your position, has just reminded me of why you are so disliked and get banned.

            Ignorance that the Planck quote is perceived as wrong by more than I here.

            Is Planck’s ‘Principle’ True? by John T. Blackmore.

            https://www.jstor.org/stable/687097?seq=1#metadata_info_tab_contents

            Apparently, the answer is patently obvious, “no”.

            You are not disliked Luke, because you are wrong. You are disliked for your manner and way of interlocution. Though you are quite frequently wrong.

            You are not wrong because you get banned. And you get banned on certain atheist dominated sites, because you have a tendency to take over threads with large screeds that drag folk down all sorts of rabbit holes and a tirade of blue links that just waste others time.

            You are a Christer who writes things in ignorance that is disliked and gets banned. That comment reminded me why that is from the past.

          • Ask him if ya like, I’ve already gave examples of why it is wrong. I only needed the one to refute it, you finding some examples that fit, mean nothing.

            So Planck’s statement cannot possibly be hyperbole? See, when a really intelligent person says something which seems dumb (like Planck), I generally try and see if there’s some way it actually makes a lot of sense. Hyperbole is an entirely legitimate way to communicate; it has its rules and you’ve said nothing to convince me that Planck broke them.

            Why have I misunderstood it and not you…or your mentor? Are you open to the possibility that you are wrong?

            If I were not open to the possibility that I am wrong, I would not be interacting with you. It is not clear to me that you interact with me under symmetric conditions.

          • Ignorant Amos

            So Planck’s statement cannot possibly be hyperbole?

            In sociology of scientific knowledge, Planck’s principle is the view that scientific change does not occur because individual scientists change their mind, but rather that successive generations of scientists have different views.

            Clearly, this is wrong. Planck himself changed his own mind, thus refuting his own assertion.

            Boltzmann’s Theory

            What was Planck’s position in this debate? One might expect that he sided with the winners, or those who soon turned out to be the winners – namely Boltzmann and the “atomists”. But this was not the case. Planck’s belief in the absolute validity of the second law made him not only reject Boltzmann’s statistical version of thermodynamics but also doubt the atomic hypothesis on which it rested. As early as 1882, Planck concluded that the atomic conception of matter was irreconcilably opposed to the law of entropy increase. “There will be a fight between these two hypotheses that will cause the life of one of them,” he predicted. As to the outcome of the fight, he wrote that “in spite of the great successes of the atomistic theory in the past, we will finally have to give it up and to decide in favour of the assumption of continuous matter”.

            However, Planck’s opposition to atomism waned during the 1890s as he realized the power of the hypothesis and the unification it brought to a variety of physical and chemical phenomena. All the same, his attitude to atomism remained ambiguous and he continued to give priority to macroscopic thermodynamics and ignore Boltzmann’s statistical theory. Indeed, by 1895 he was ready to embark on a major research programme to determine thermodynamic irreversibility in terms of some micro-mechanical or micro-electrodynamical model that did not explicitly involve the atomic hypothesis. The programme not only expressed Planck’s deep interest in the concept of entropy, but also displayed his “aristocratic” attitude to physics: he focused on the fundamental aspects and disregarded more mundane, applied ideas. His fascination with entropy, which was shared by only a handful of other physicists, was not considered to be of central importance or of providing significant results. And yet it did.

            See, when a really intelligent person says something which seems dumb (like Planck), I generally try and see if there’s some way it actually makes a lot of sense.

            Because really intelligent people never say stuff that is “dumb” [wrong]? So, explain to me how you rescue Planck’s quote and what he really meant by it and how it applies to what we actually see?

            Hyperbole is an entirely legitimate way to communicate; it has its rules and you’ve said nothing to convince me that Planck broke them.

            You’ve said nothing to convince me that Planck was using hyperbole. It makes no sense in context. If he was even a wee bit exaggerating, I can’t see the point of it given the vast distance that the statement is wrong.

            If I were not open to the possibility that I am wrong, I would not be interacting with you. It is not clear to me that you interact with me under symmetric conditions.

            Wrong about what?

            Now I try to ask myself as often as possible if I am following his [Plancks] example. Am I nodding my head at a friend’s rant because it’s comfortable? Am I tucking it away (or reposting it) because I just trust her as a member of my tribe and because it saves me the work of reading up on that topic? Can I hear arguments and digest information that challenge my comforts and make me uneasy? Whether it’s a political issue, a favorite scientific assumption, or my preferred way to make coffee, is it not true that a deeper and wider sea of information can only make me a better member of the species? Changing one’s mind is a beautiful thing. It requires the hardest work between the increasingly common and more comfortable extremes of outrage and applause.

            I change my mind all the time…more often than not, because I’ve been wrong. I’m a skeptic and an atheist remember?

            You have not even mentioned the two articles and the evidence provided to show the error of Plancks quote. Or how claiming it is hyperbole, and therefore doesn’t really mean what it says, while demonstrating what you think it does mean, makes sense other.

            That Max Planck could’ve believed his principle applied generally or not, isn’t the issue. That it is wrong, is the issue.

            Max Planck was the antithesis of his own quote.

            Brandon R. Brown… Plancks biographer.

            https://www.usfca.edu/faculty/brandon-brown

            The Guy Who Said People Never Change Their Minds Often Changed His Mind

            Consider the average middle-aged mind, whether in science or not. One has usually put roots in a system of belief and may even have a lot of time, reputation, and donations (or publications, tenure, and grants) invested in a certain worldview. But Planck never relented in considering each new grain of information with the same fervor as the first.

            Planck maintained some of his ability to change even in his later years, when so many people find it more difficult, or at least more inconvenient….

            Surprisingly, Planck never requested or expected flexibility from his peers. He famously stated what’s become known as “Planck’s principle”: “A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.” In other words, new ideas do not advance by evidence, argument, and persuasion, but rather by older thinkers with older ideas passing away. One wonders if he was being darkly humorous, but in keeping with Prussian stereotypes, he was not a very funny man in general.

            https://slate.com/technology/2015/06/max-plancks-principle-physics-and-constant-he-knew-how-to-change-his-mind.html

            Was Planck making a tongue in cheek poke and taking the piss?

            Perhaps he was trying to make out that he was the exception, by making the quote, but we can see that he was still wrong about that too, from the evidence.

            So what purpose do you see that hyperbole would answer?

          • IA: Ask him if ya like, I’ve already gave examples of why it is wrong. I only needed the one to refute it, you finding some examples that fit, mean nothing.

            LB: So Planck’s statement cannot possibly be hyperbole?

            IA: You have not even mentioned the two articles and the evidence provided to show the error of Plancks quote. Or how claiming it is hyperbole, and therefore doesn’t really mean what it says, while demonstrating what you think it does mean, makes sense other.

            It would have been a waste of time to produce evidence when you declared that no evidence could convince you. Now I have two potential projects:

                 (1) Planck’s statement applied today as hyperbole.
                 (2) Planck’s statement in his time as perhaps non-hyperbole but not true everywhere.

            I already provided one example of Planck’s “principle” being true:

            Our basic thesis—that we are strategically blind to key aspects of our motives—has been around in some form or another for millennia. It’s been put forward not only by poets, playwrights, and philosophers, but also by countless wise old souls, at least when you catch them in private and in the right sort of mood. And yet the thesis still seems to us neglected in scholarly writings; you can read a mountain of books and still miss it. (The Elephant in the Brain, ix)

            Another would be the de facto rejection of Converse 1964 in political science, when it comes to integrating it into political theory rather than finding excuses to maintain the old theories in spite of it.

            I can probably multiply examples if I do enough research, and find ones where there was a much later integration of the science into the mainstream (hasn’t happened with either of the above, AFAIK). But how many examples would I need to present for you to find Planck’s “principle” a helpful warning?

            (It seems obvious that you don’t want to deal with the Elephant in the Room excerpt, so perhaps after we deal with Planck, we can get back to Simler and Hanson.)

          • Ignorant Amos

            It would have been a waste of time to produce evidence when you declared that no evidence could convince you.

            Nope…that’s definitely not what I “declared”.

            Now I have two potential projects:

            (1) Planck’s statement applied today as hyperbole.

            Planck’s Principle applies even less today than it did in 1950.

            https://www.buzzfeed.com/natashaumer/science-facts-you-might-have-believed-in-the-90s

            (2) Planck’s statement in his time as perhaps non-hyperbole but not true everywhere.

            We know it wasn’t true everywhere, because the author of the quote was a contradictory example. There are others.

            I already provided one example of Planck’s “principle” being true:

            How ta fuck does that quote show Planck’s Principle is true? You are famous for this tactic. Posting stuff that really doesn’t do what you think it’s true. Why should I accept anything in that book, when lot’s of it is flawed, parochial, stupid…and all you do is lay it out there with no explanation why it is applicable to my complaint?

            Another would be the de facto rejection of Converse 1964 in political science, when it comes to integrating it into political theory rather than finding excuses to maintain the old theories in spite of it.

            No it isn’t. Here. let me help with something that is an example of Planck’s Priniple….

            Pauling died in 1994, having never accepted quasicrystals. But chemistry had moved on, and in 2011, the Nobel committee recognized Dan Shechtman’s critical role in overturning a fundamental paradigm of crystallography by awarding him an unshared Nobel Prize.

            https://www.nist.gov/content/nist-and-nobel/nobel-moment-dan-shechtman

            I can probably multiply examples if I do enough research, and find ones where there was a much later integration of the science into the mainstream (hasn’t happened with either of the above, AFAIK). But how many examples would I need to present for you to find Planck’s “principle” a helpful warning?

            A helpful warning was it? It wasn’t even a warning when he wrote it.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2X6qEAC6gnA

            (It seems obvious that you don’t want to deal with the Elephant in the Room excerpt, so perhaps after we deal with Planck, we can get back to Simler and Hanson.)

            What is it about their book that you think is relevant and why? I see their thesis as more problematic for the believer.

            In the meantime, I read this review.

            https://nintil.com/2018/01/16/this-review-is-not-about-reviewing-the-elephant-in-the-brain/

          • I think The Elephant in the Room is relevant to something I said to you earlier, which you ignored/​took in an orthogonal direction:

            LB: Suffice it to say that people are very good at hiding and being self-righteous; piercing the façades is not always easy. But there is an inherent problem with any tool which lets you pierce façades: the enemy can use the tool to learn how to build better façades. And so you get an arms race and if you cherry-pick from that, you can blame the tool for all the problems, not recognizing that you might be using the tool to see the problems as problems.

            You seem to believe that religious people (or perhaps Christians in particular?) are very good at hypocrisy, self-righteousness, self-deception, self-delusion, etc. I think that this is rather a property of all humans, something I think Simler and Hanson demonstrate sufficiently well. If Christians manifest these negative qualities more than average, the next question is why—with answers far too easily given by plenty of atheists, as I hope my logic above makes clear.

             
            Planck’s principle
            Feel free to read David Hull, Peter Tessner, and Arthur Diamond’s 1978 Science article Planck’s Principle. They look at the age at which various scientists accepted evolution and find that 6% of the effect can be explained by it taking older scientists longer to be convinced than younger scientists. The test period was 1859–1869 and by the end, 25% of selected scientists had not accepted the theory. I’m personally quite happy with the 6% number; that puts Planck’s statement in hyperbole-land, but it’s not so crazy that it’s highly likely for any given scientist to run into that problem with his/her own research.

            The web page and peer-reviewed article you presented both contain ridiculous bits. Hugo Mercier’s Edge.org article Planck’s Cynical View Of Scientific Change depends on “provided they are well supported”; the problem is getting to that point in the first place. John T. Blackmore has some good evidence which heavily suggests that Planck was engaged in hyperbole at best, but then he gets stupid by tautology:

                In short, Planck’s ‘principle’ was not true for Planck, Helmholtz, Ostwald, or Heisenberg in the most critical aspects of their work, and it is doubtful if it is true at all in unqualified form or even in a qualified way for men of strong intellectual integrity who insist on carefully examining each relevant theory and the pertinent experimental data. (Is Planck’s ‘Principle’ True?, 348)

            How is it logically possible that one could reject a theory which is already at the stage of “well supported” while having “strong intellectual integrity”? The error is to think that fewer than 1% of scientists able to influence funding and faculty appointments would act according to Planck’s principle. While we would like those positions to correlate with “strong intellectual integrity”, there are many difficulties in doing so.

             
            The Elephant in the Room
            The nintil.com review you cited is a great place to bring Planck into the conversation, via Thomas Kuhn. After quoting Darwin and Planck in the principle, he explains a rationale:

                These facts and others like them are too commonly known to need further emphasis. But they do need re-evaluation. In the past they have most often been taken to indicate that scientists, being only human, cannot always admit their errors, even when confronted with strict proof. I would argue, rather, that in these matters neither proof nor error is at issue. The transfer of allegiance from paradigm to paradigm is a conversion experience that cannot be forced. Lifelong resistance, particularly from those whose productive careers have committed them to an older tradition of normal science, is not a violation of scientific standards but an index to the nature of scientific research itself. The source of resistance is the assurance that the older paradigm will ultimately solve all its problems, that nature can be shoved into the box the paradigm provides. Inevitably, at times of revolution, that assurance seems stubborn and pigheaded as indeed it sometimes becomes. But it is also something more. That same assurance is what makes normal or puzzle-solving science possible. And it is only through normal science that the professional community of scientists succeeds, first, in exploiting the potential scope and precision of the older paradigm and, then, in isolating the difficulty through the study of which a new paradigm may emerge. (The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 151–52)

            I would apply this reasoning to a sentence from the review:

            Misinformation, incentives, and social inertia doesn’t sound as much of a breakthrough theory as us having hidden motives, but the former seems to me a more parsimonious explanation. (This Review is not about reviewing The Elephant in the Brain)

            This itself is an age-old theory, that the problem is society, not the individual. The twentieth century was the great century of societal engineering, when big government could change incentives on a mass scale, educate the country from central committees, and thereby clear up misinformation and apply a massive impulse to social inertia. Perhaps the height of this was the Johnson administration, so there we go for the hopes and dreams of using the above theory to fix things via expertise:

            Asked by a Senate committee in 1966 how long it would take to end poverty in America, Sargent Shriver—President Johnson’s point-man in the war on poverty—looked down at his notes, at his graphs and his figures, and said “about 10 years.”[9] He meant it. (Tyranny of Reason, 251)

            Like Marxism/​Communism had many opportunities to be tried and shown to be The Answer, the idea that the problem is society corrupting good/​neutral individuals has also had many opportunities to be tried and shown to be The Answer. This has by and large failed, with one key indicator being that we do not have mechanisms in place to track when public intellectuals are wrong, whereby that information is fed back into the market of public intellectuals. (Public Intellectuals) And so I’m fairly confident the theory undergirding the reviewer’s argument is itself an example of self-deception. What is parsimonious is irrelevant, for the goal is not to model a finite set of data with minimum Kolmogorov complexity, but to do something about the problem. Simplistic, beautiful explanations which do not aid in fixing the problem are part of the problem.

            It is irrational to try the same explanation over and over again while expecting a different result. It is rational to try it when that explanation or pieces of it have delivered excellent results—this is what makes it rational for older scientists with proven track records to resist [potential] scientific revolutions. It becomes self-delusion when you claim you’re working to solve the problem while the evidence indicates that you’re spinning your wheels. Humans in power are always claiming that they’re doing something to solve the problem. Furthermore, they always claim that the source of the problem is outside of themselves. Given that this is almost never the case, such claims create and reinforce self-delusion in both the leaders and the loyal followers.

            That’s more than enough for now; my guess is you’ll so disagree with a bunch of the above that we’ll be tangled in that for a while—if we ever get out.

          • Ignorant Amos

            Soz…links kept going to “Page not found 404”

            Disqus

            Uh oh… Something didn’t work.
            This page doesn’t seem to exist. You might have followed a bad link or mistyped the address, feel free to try again. Alternatively, you can return to the home page, or visit the help page for more options.

            But they seem to be working okay now.

          • Ignorant Amos

            I already answered this: “If someone tells me he was probed by aliens …”

            You think you answered it.

            Per the ideology of political liberalism, I’m not sure why I should care. I don’t have a deep need to go about the world disbelieving things. If someone tells me he was probed by aliens, I won’t care unless he demands I treat him differently as a result. I may choose to limit my participation with that person in society, but that is my right under the ideology of political liberalism.

            First, that has nothing to do with the purpose behind the question. But you are hell bent in avoiding the conclusion.

            Per the ideology of political liberalism, I’m not sure why I should care.

            Nobody cares whether you care. But when you pop up on atheist blogs with your particular flavour of bullshit, you need to understand why the atheists bothering to engage you, think it is just another version of mindwankery. That you avoid answering directly, answers directly. You’ve got the virus and are delirious with it. It’s about special pleading.

            I don’t have a deep need to go about the world disbelieving things.

            Who does? It should be the default position. And it is. You don’t go about the world in any effort disbelieving a whole litany of things. You just don’t believe them until reason to do so. The point is, the reason for the default when dealing with all other religions, applies to the religion you believe. That’s the reason for OTfF.

            If someone tells me he was probed by aliens, I won’t care…

            Quite right…you won’t care about the claim, but you still won’t believe them on face value…that’ll be your default. And this isn’t about someone telling you that they’ve been probed by aliens. It is about you, so the analogy only works it it is you that believed you were probed by aliens. People who claim they’ve been probed by aliens are being ridiculous.

            …unless he demands I treat him differently as a result.

            Woah! In case you haven’t notice, religious folk believing in all sorts of ridiculous nonsense want to be treated differently as a result. But get this, the fuckers want to treat others that hold no truck with their ridiculous nonsense, differently as a result. And most of the time, not in a good way.

            I may choose to limit my participation with that person in society, but that is my right under the ideology of political liberalism.

            Irrelevant obfuscation. It has bugger all to do with you, or you honestly applying the test to yerself.

          • I’ll make you a deal, IA. We each pick one point on which to attempt to remove OTfF-hypocrisy from the other. My example comes from my first comment:

            LB: In my many hours talking to atheists about “evidence”, I haven’t found one which has permitted evidence of goodness. But if that is correct, then “evidence” cannot distinguish between God and Satan.

            If you claim to only form beliefs based on some trivial presuppositions† and ‘evidence’, then on what basis do you claim that you can distinguish between the concepts ‘God’ and ‘Satan’, within your mind? Other than: “‘God’ is associated with actions {a,b,c} and ‘Satan’ is associated with actions {x,y,z}.” The point here is that {a,b,c} is not distinguishable from {x,y,z} except accidentally—that’s just how the characters happened to come out in the narratives humans just happened to write. I’m happy to throw in some utterly a-moral evolutionary selection pressures, noting that monkeys can be utterly horrible to monkeys in other tribes.

            † For example: “(1) there is an external reality and (2) my senses are sufficiently reliable”.

            LB: … unless he demands I treat him differently as a result.

            IA: Woah! In case you haven’t notice, religious folk believing in all sorts of ridiculous nonsense want to be treated differently as a result. But get this, the fuckers want to treat others that hold no truck with their ridiculous nonsense, differently as a result. And most of the time, not in a good way.

            When it comes to the public/​civil sphere regulated by government, it seems obvious that religious people doing that is a violation of the social contract. What they do in the private sphere, up to what is permitted by law, is their own business. Yes? Or perhaps you are appealing to a distinction not quite codifiable in law? (That is, any attempt to codify can be severely violated by “gaming the system”, such that we cannot talk in terms of law which could actually be written down and then enforced.)

            That you avoid answering directly, answers directly. You’ve got the virus and are delirious with it. It’s about special pleading.

            If someone asks you if you’ve stopped beating your wife, you are fully within your rights to answer “indirectly”. I almost certainly need to learn to write more succinctly and I made a huge error in not distinguishing more quickly between the OTfF and OTfF. Unfortunately, the only way I achieve succinctness and as much directness as possible is a lot of long-form grunge-work. What I can say is that the internet convinced me to move from creationism → ID → evolution. If that’s not evidence enough for you, probably nothing would be and it would be reasonable for people to suspect your claim here to be in principle unfalsifiable.

            Quite right…you won’t care about the claim, but you still won’t believe them on face value…that’ll be your default.

            This was helpful; this formulation removes the concept ‘ridiculous’ from the discussion. That was throwing me off; I suggest we do away with it completely. Your reasoning process apparently depends highly on the concept; I think mine does not. The problem you’re picking out is that I believe some things without having exhaustively checked every single available (logically possible?), mutually exclusive alternative. The thing is, as far as I can tell, exactly this happens when a scientist decides to join one school of thought over another. Why is it ok for the scientist to do that, but not for me? (Or: why should it be the OTfF, instead of the OTfF?)

            I think that’s good for now; feel free to re-raise anything I ignored which you’d like addressed.

          • Ignorant Amos

            LB. In my many hours talking to atheists about “evidence”, I haven’t found one which has permitted evidence of goodness.

            What would “evidence” of goodness look like?

            But if that is correct, then “evidence” cannot distinguish between God and Satan.

            Indeed. But it hasn’t been demonstrated that God or Satan exists out side the imagination of certain human beings, so you’re off to a dodgy start to begin. Then the question of whose god? Then if one is playing DA and allowing a God and Satan, the Bible describes a far more good Satan than God.

            Stephen Law’s Evil God hypothesis springs to mind.

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

            Then you’re still faced with the OTfF.

            If you claim to only form beliefs based on some trivial presuppositions† and ‘evidence’, then on what basis do you claim that you can distinguish between the concepts ‘God’ and ‘Satan’, within your mind?

            They are not concepts I have to consider, let alone distinguish between. They are two imaginary concepts found in an ancient book devised for an ancient religion, among thousands of others. How do you separate them, define their veracity, and what method do you use? How is it a different system to all other god and devil believers?

            Other than: “‘God’ is associated with actions {a,b,c} and ‘Satan’ is associated with actions {x,y,z}.”

            Good and bad actions are subjective terms. Not all God actions in the story are perceived as good by everyone. It is an unjustified presumption.

            How does anybody know God is more moral than Satan? If it’s because the bible says so, then that is arbitrary and followers of the bible are basically just listening to God saying “I’m the good one, follow me.” If it’s due to observing actions and judging god’s actions to be better, then can’t we just use those standards to judge our actions, making god unnecessary? Besides, Satan hasn’t even bothered authoring a book and telling his side of the story.

            What if God was actually the evil one and Satan was in fact good? After all, God is responsible for 250 million deaths, while Satan is responsible for only 10, all of which God commanded of him. If something bad happens like an earthquake or a Tsunami, we tend to call it ‘an act of god’ not an ‘act of the devil’. Why?

            The point here is that {a,b,c} is not distinguishable from {x,y,z} except accidentally—that’s just how the characters happened to come out in the narratives humans just happened to write.

            Bingo! And the human narratives written by those you happen to favor…other religions belief them absurd, while the things in those other beliefs you find absurd…if given any thought.

            I’m happy to throw in some utterly a-moral evolutionary selection pressures, noting that monkeys can be utterly horrible to monkeys in other tribes.

            It ain’t restricted to monkeys either. But I don’t understand where you are going with this?

            † For example: “(1) there is an external reality and (2) my senses are sufficiently reliable”.

            Is there anything else? Disregarding solipsism of course.

            When it comes to the public/​civil sphere regulated by government, it seems obvious that religious people doing that is a violation of the social contract.

            How quaintly naive of you. It is a particular bugbear of mine around this time of year that religious fuckwittery of the Christian variety directly impedes on my ability to live freely.

            https://www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/content/easter-licensing-hours-2019

            That’s a wee bit superfluous you might think…it’s just the tip of the iceberg.

            What they do in the private sphere, up to what is permitted by law, is their own business. Yes?

            A million times yes. If they ALL could do that. I probably wouldn’t be here talking to you, because it wouldn’t be necessary.

            But that’s not the world we live in, is it? Unless ya live in a bubble.

            ATHEISTS AND ANGER

            https://gretachristina.typepad.com/greta_christinas_weblog/2007/10/atheists-and-an.html

            Or perhaps you are appealing to a distinction not quite codifiable in law? (That is, any attempt to codify can be severely violated by “gaming the system”, such that we cannot talk in terms of law which could actually be written down and then enforced.)

            You are thinking far too parochial Luke. You’ve heard of Sharia Law, right?

            Capital crimes in Brunei include murder, terrorism, drug trafficking, abetting suicide, arson, kidnapping, treason, mutiny, perjury and as of 2019, homosexuality. In April, 2014, Brunei introduced a new penal code which implemented elements of Sharia law and instituted the death penalty (by stoning) for adultery, sodomy, rape, apostasy, blasphemy, and insulting Islam.

            If someone asks you if you’ve stopped beating your wife, you are fully within your rights to answer “indirectly”.

            Well that’s a false equivalence. But the simple direct answer is, “I have never beaten my wife”.

            I almost certainly need to learn to write more succinctly and I made a huge error in not distinguishing more quickly between the OTfF and OTfF.

            When you realize there isn’t two to distinguish between will be a good start.

            Unfortunately, the only way I achieve succinctness and as much directness as possible is a lot of long-form grunge-work. What I can say is that the internet convinced me to move from creationism → ID → evolution. If that’s not evidence enough for you, probably nothing would be and it would be reasonable for people to suspect your claim here to be in principle unfalsifiable.

            I commend you for your progress. Perhaps you’ve come as far as you are prepared to come…or want to.

            If it is possible to make the journey from creationism to Evolution by using the internet and rational/critical thinking, then I’m optimistic. I already have noticed a change.

            This was helpful; this formulation removes the concept ‘ridiculous’ from the discussion.

            You have to appreciate that there is range of believer that I’ve engages online over the past decade or so. Why there is such a hang-up on the use of justifiable words never ceases to amaze me.

            That was throwing me off; I suggest we do away with it completely.

            If you wish, but the synonym won’t alter the definition.

            Your reasoning process apparently depends highly on the concept;

            Not in all areas, just where relevant. Where something is absurd, then it warrants no undeserved respect. If it gets pressed. Then it is open to ridicule and mockery.

            I think mine does not.

            Maybe it should more. You may have reasoned the Earth isn’t flat by reason, but let’s not pretend that the idea isn’t absurd and that those promoting should be excluded from ridicule and mockery. You weren’t privvy to engaging with Rick DeLano in the early days of Strange Notions…Google his name…even the Catholics thought he was absurd and ridiculed and mocked him.

            The problem you’re picking out is that I believe some things without having exhaustively checked every single available (logically possible?), mutually exclusive alternative.

            No Luke. That might be where you believe we are at, but that is not the same thing. And it’s not the point of the OTfF. The test requires the taker to disavow themselves of everything the believe about their faith and imagine you were being told all the stuff as a blank slate, an alien from outer space…not with the lifetime accumulation from childhood indoctrination to the adult believer you’ve become. The decide whether the story is a sensible one outside a work of fiction.

            The thing is, as far as I can tell, exactly this happens when a scientist decides to join one school of thought over another.

            What method does a scientist use when he joins one school of thought over another? What does a scientist make the decision on?

            Should a creation scientist get equal footing with an evolution scientist?

            Why is it ok for the scientist to do that, but not for me? (Or: why should it be the OTfF, instead of the OTfF?)

            Are you comparing yourself to a scientist moving between two schools of thought? Do scientist move between schools of thought because all unfalsifiable beliefs should be considered on an equal footing and nothing can be pointed to in order to be absurd?

          • What would “evidence” of goodness look like?

            This is the first time I think I’ve been able to provide the roughest of initial answers. I’m not going to inject all sorts of qualifiers to the below, but note that it is all open to revision. Evidence and reason are both welcome.

            An approximate (and much shorter) version: lack of deception and perhaps, lack of misleading. I say “perhaps” because we can be irresponsible in understanding communication and then culpably generate the wrong expectations. Another problem is that the right way to treat deceivers and misleaders might involve measured doses of their own medicine; sometimes people don’t know that they are doing the bad thing until they have the bad thing done to them and are explicitly told that this being done to them is like this particular instance of them doing that thing to someone else.

             
            I’m inclined to say that: Goodness is language matching reality, including success in affective forecasting. Many uses of languages set up expectations in one’s mind which can be matched, exceeded, or disappointed. This can apply in the purely logical realm (some software library was more useful and a better fit than initially thought), in the pure emotional realm (that car made me feel much less good than the salesperson made me think it would be), or mixed. And surely there is a better way to think than in terms of a logic/​emotion dichotomy—I’m trying not to write a book, here.

            You will probably not be surprised to find out that my peers in school (especially middle school) loved fucking with me when it came to what I thought the language they used meant, and what they made it mean—often by declaring it to be “opposite day” one minute and not the next. And yes, I realize that plenty of sarcasm works precisely that way. Suffice it to say that I learned viscerally about the predictive power of language and how humans love to fuck over other humans by setting up expectations which are then disappointed. I’m inclined to say that doing this is always evil, although “I gave them statutes that were not good” gives me pause—perhaps after the pattern of Kant reasoning that “you should never lie” doesn’t work if [anachronistically:] the Gestapo is at the door, asking if you are hiding Jews. It may be that a good way to interact with people who manipulate language is lex talionis.

            Now if you accept something like absurdism, then you believe that language could not possible match reality with the kind of precision I’m going for. There are also philosophies of language which see it as a tool and nothing more (Hobbes, Locke, Condillac—see NDPR review of Taylor’s Language Animal); I surmise that they cannot have language match reality in the way I’m describing. So it’s easy to deny my position at a philosophical/​metaphysical/​ontological level. Just claim that there isn’t that much order in reality, that I’m proposing a hyper-order which can only exist in @Geena_Safire:disqus’s “hyperdeterministic world”.

            I believe that disdain for the social sciences (e.g. saying they must be like the hard sciences to qualify as a “real science”) is symptomatic of a denial that there is any such hyper-order, any order in addition to what is permitted by the mechanical philosophy. I increasingly believe that this denial of further [possible or actual] order is an act of power, to prevent scientific analysis of various human attempts to make reality more like their … ‘imagined reality’, to steal a term from Yuval Harari. It’s easy: define ‘real science’ as “that which studies timeless, universal truths” and then by definition, it cannot study contingent, created reality. It cannot see, for example, whether some created realities engender further creation, while others are based on contradictions or closed world systems which ultimately collapse or at least entropically degrade.

            In all this, there is the matter of any given individual being able to properly process language and generate the right expectations of present and future. Charles Taylor writes the following:

                In other words, in a hermeneutical science, a certain measure of insight is indispensable, and this insight cannot be communicated by the gathering of brute data, or initiation in modes of formal reasoning or some combination of these. It is unformalizable. But this is a scandalous result according to the authoritative conception of science in our tradition, which is shared even by many of those who are highly critical of the approach of mainstream psychology, or sociology, or political science. For it means that this is not a study in which anyone can engage, regardless of their level of insight; that some claims of the form: “if you don’t understand, then your intuitions are at fault, are blind or inadequate,” some claims of this form will be justified; that some differences will be nonarbitrable by further evidence, but that each side can only make appeal to deeper insight on the part of the other. The superiority of one position over another will thus consist in this, that from the more adequate position one can understand one’s own stand and that of one’s opponent, but not the other way around. It goes without saying that this argument can only have weight for those in the superior position. (Interpretation and the Sciences of Man, 46–47)

            One can be a serial killer and still perform arithmetic, but there is language which engages more of one’s being in generating expectations. This shows up in the Babylon 5 episode And the Rock Cried Out, No Hiding Place, when Sheridan tells Delenn that he understood what the Shadows were doing by thinking like them. This shocks Delenn, and I’m pretty sure the reason is that you become the enemy if you think too much like the enemy. This pattern routinely shows up in Criminal Minds: it’s easier to capture a serial killer if you can think like the serial killer while collecting evidence. The remaining question is what the nature is of the disconnection required to not become a serial killer, how not to become the enemy. But I don’t need to solve that to talk about the requirements to properly generate expectations based on any given snippet of language.

            That’s enough for now; I have highly contradictory expectations of how you (or others) will process the above language.

          • Chris Morris

            I’m just going to try a quick set of Wittgensteinian aphorisms in the hope that I can post on here and not have it marked as spam.
            I think your problem here is that you’re still missing the point of postmodernism. You’re still reading this in the modernist language of ‘enemies’, ‘conflict’, ‘dichotomy’ and so on. To a large extent, language and reality construct each other. Disdain for the positivist belief that humans can be studied and treated as objects is generally associated with the view that humans are conscious subjects whose reality extends beyond the material which is most suitable for standard scientific analysis. The question on the disconnection required to not become a serial killer is an excellent one.

          • Ignorant Amos

            Why am I having to repeat myself?: “I don’t see miracles as having evidential power.”

            The problem is, without the miracles claims used as evidence, there would be no religion for you to hold. It’s what most folk believe is what makes their preferred religion, special. The same applies to the others. And take away the miracle claims of others, and all there is are the same things that you hold.

            I get that you might think this part of the narrative is unbelievable, that actual humans would fall down in fear in the face of such divine power. I disagree; I think the passage captures human psychology to a T.

            Why do you think it is believeable?

            Pointing to what a character, Queen Jezebel, did in a story book regarding supernatural goings on, is the kind of ridiculousness I’m talking about. And it’s a lotta circular ballix. Do you believe there is some truth value to the story? Otherwise you may as well be quoting Aesop’s Fables. Or the exploits of the Man in Lincoln Green.

          • The problem is, without the miracles claims used as evidence, there would be no religion for you to hold.

            Why should I believe that?

            It’s what most folk believe is what makes their preferred religion, special.

            Ok?

            The same applies to the others.

            Your evidential/​rational basis for this extrapolation from ‘some’ ⇒ ‘all’?

            And take away the miracle claims of others, and all there is are the same things that you hold.

            That’s quite the claim of universality; I know that C.S. Lewis built up a list of common morals he called “the Tao” in The Abolition of Man and I am aware of Donald E. Brown’s Human Universals, but I’m also aware of David Hume thinking he had discovered universal morality, only for later scholars/​scientists to find out that he had parochially sampled. (mostly within Christendom, IIRC)

            Contrast the above to René Girard, who found that every religion other than Judaism and Christianity, at least up to Jesus’ crucifixion, served as mythologized rationalizations for the killing of scapegoats. That is, they were in truth scapegoats but the religions made them out to be guilty. Are you utterly confident that Girard is just plain wrong? If so, please explain what evidence you think he was missing, or what errors in logic or reasoning he made. I can explicate his thought further, if you would like.

            Why do you think it is believeable?

            It matches what I’ve observed in reality. For example: it nicely contrasts with the silly idea that the West can just “shock and awe” the Middle East and pound them into submission. Powerful civilizations throughout time have thought they could pound “evil” into submission. How many such civilizations are still powerful and when did they first achieve significant power?

            Pointing to what a character, Queen Jezebel, did in a story book regarding supernatural goings on, is the kind of ridiculousness I’m talking about.

            Right, because it’s not like humans can now rain down fire from heaven. I wonder: do you have the same problems with physics textbooks which talk about “spherical cows”?

            Do you believe there is some truth value to the story? Otherwise you may as well be quoting Aesop’s Fables. Or the exploits of the Man in Lincoln Green.

            I think simplified models of human nature can be put in fiction. For example, Stargate SG1 explores severe power asymmetries between humans and technologially advanced aliens; it regularly explores how hard it is to convince the oppressed, technologically inferior humans† to rebel against the god-like aliens. While there is much fiction and special effect, I nevertheless think the stories get at real human psychology. If you don’t, I’m not sure what else I have to say on this matter.

            † The premise was that humans were transplanted from one planet to many in the galaxy. Saves on prosthetic costs.

          • Ignorant Amos

            Why should I believe that?

            I don’t really care Luke. If you really believe they can survive without the supernatural, fill yer boots.

            The religions of the West have many things in common that have a bearing on the way in which they view Miracles . They share in being religions of the holy book or sacred text. They place importance on events which have been reported to have occurred in history. They rely on the existence of Miracles The events which are reported to have taken place in the time of Moses are key to the acceptance of the idea of the One God for the peoples of Israel and all who follow after them. The events during the times of Jesus, the Christ, are also the basis for the acceptance of Jesus as being the Son of God by the followers of Jesus. The spread of Islam is also an event regarded as miraculous and a proof of the legitimacy of the claims of Mohammed. So, Miracles are important for the Western religions.

            The Miracles have served as the foundation for the historical proof of the existence of the God of the western religions. The leadership of the religions of the West do not want miracle taken lightly and do not want false claims of miracles. These religions will often be the first to investigate claims of miraculous events in order to disprove them! The concern is that if people come to accept the claim of a miracle and it later turns out to be disproved, then those who had come to believe in it might come not only to stop believing in that particular “miracle” that had been disproved but in all other such claims and thus might come to loose their faith altogether. The fear is that people would think something similar to this: “If I could be fooled into thinking this recent event was a miracle, then what about those people long ago who reported experiencing a miracle? Could it be possible that they too were deceived? Or mistaken?”

            http://www.qcc.cuny.edu/SocialSciences/ppecorino/INTRO_TEXT/Chapter%203%20Religion/Arg_Experience_Miracles.htm

            Christianity did not survive and proliferate across the empire because of the preaching’s of a charismatic wannabe messianic itinerant preacher.

          • If you really believe they can survive without the supernatural, fill yer boots.

            I never talked of Christianity surviving without the supernatural. Instead, I am questioning the placement of miracle-power within Christianity. I stand by my interpretation of Deut 12:32–13:5: the ability to perform miracles is worth nothing when it comes to moral authority. This is the only possible way to avoid “might makes right”, understood in the sense of “might gets to define what is right”. It’s elementary logic. There are other ways miracles could figure in. For example, let’s look at this attribution of agency:

            Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk;
                I took them up by their arms,
                but they did not know that I healed them.
            I led them with cords of kindness,
                with the bands of love,
            and I became to them as one who eases the yoke on their jaws,
                and I bent down to them and fed them.
            (Hosea 11:3–4)

            Jesus’ healing miracles can serve to clarify what God does and does not do; he was rather clear about this:

            So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel. For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. For the Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. (John 5:19–23)

            One can understand Jesus’ miracles as providing a time-lapse version so that we could see in seconds what generally takes much longer. I don’t know about you, but I love watching time-lapse videos of stuff like plants growing. Doing a time-lapse miracle provides crucial information.

            By the way, the sciences are really confused about ‘agency’ and philosophy is really confused about ‘causation’. One might say that Adam & Eve fucked things up by denying their own agency; one can suspend questions of historicity and observe that humans are often terrible at (i) taking responsibility for what they did; (ii) not taking responsibility for what they didn’t do. Perhaps the best example of (ii) is Descartes, who thought he had purged himself of contributions from humans and re-thought thought all by his onesies. Another would be Galileo; we’re really shitty at acknowledging that he stood on the shoulders of giants. And even that phrase “stand on the shoulder of giants” is deceptive: really it’s on the shoulders of millions of other humans.

            So, clarifying issues of agency and doing time-lapse miracles is something I say humans desperately need. I could talk about predictive power when it comes to the prophets in the OT—I mean predictions of “bad moral behavior ultimately leads to invasion and captivity”, not Nostradamus-type prediction—but I think I’ll stop here. The kinds of supernatural power I’ve discussed here qualifies as “external correction of closed human systems of thinking”, without getting anywhere near “might makes/​defines right”.

             
            P.S. I don’t particularly care if 90% or 99% or 99.99% of what has passed for “Christianity” is crap. That applies to humans in general, so it’s completely uninteresting. We know that access to truth gives power for good or evil (Hitler was quite intelligent and wise to mob dynamics), but we often forget this when we judge the use of truth. (And when we decide what even constitutes ‘truth’—anything can be destabilized.) Science would fail miserably if the outliers were dismissed. Douglas Osheroff made his discovery of the superfluidity of He-3 because he had expectations which were violated in a cryogenic experiment and instead of dismissing them as ignorable anomaly, he snapped to attention. He refused to engage in ‘some’ ⇒ ‘all’ reasoning. I find that so much critique of religion makes that error, and hides behind No True Scotsman whenever criticized. So much for clustering based on demonstrated causal powers; no, fuck science when it comes to atheistic critique of religion. Ignore the outliers! Cling to stereotypes! Destroy the enemy! Yup, a tried-and-true strategy attested to by history.

          • Ignorant Amos

            Your evidential/​rational basis for this extrapolation from ‘some’ ⇒ ‘all’?

            Where did I say “all”?

            Anyways, show me a religion that doesn’t garner gravitas without supernatural claims?

            Belief in the supernatural, especially gods, is one of the most obvious characteristics of religion. It’s so common, in fact, that some people mistake mere theism for religion itself, yet that is incorrect. Theism can occur outside of religion, and some religions are atheistic. Despite this, supernatural beliefs are a common and fundamental aspect to most religions, while the existence of supernatural beings is almost never stipulated in non-religious belief systems.

            That’s quite the claim of universality;…

            It’s a generalization. I’m sure there are exceptions to the rule to be found. So I’ll rephrase that to say the popular religions believed by most in the world. They can claim a moral philosophy even with the woo-woo stripped away.

            (mostly within Christendom, IIRC)

            Which itself began by parochially sampling.

            Contrast the above to René Girard, who found that every religion other than Judaism and Christianity, at least up to Jesus’ crucifixion, served as mythologized rationalizations for the killing of scapegoats. That is, they were in truth scapegoats but the religions made them out to be guilty. Are you utterly confident that Girard is just plain wrong? If so, please explain what evidence you think he was missing, or what errors in logic or reasoning he made. I can explicate his thought further, if you would like.

            Don’t know what the relevance in this comment is to this conversation. But this comment made me want have a look at this René Girard.

            I think Girard’s “every religion” is stretching it. Also, I don’t think he is claiming what you think he is claiming, but you appear a bit vague on what it is you think he is claiming.

            Can you make it a bit clearer what you think Girard’s pointing to, and what bearing it has to this conversation?

            So yeah, explicate away.

            It matches what I’ve observed in reality. For example: it nicely contrasts with the silly idea that the West can just “shock and awe” the Middle East and pound them into submission. Powerful civilizations throughout time have thought they could pound “evil” into submission. How many such civilizations are still powerful and when did they first achieve significant power?

            I still don’t see any correlation. What has this got to do with this conversation and the veracity of what you believe vis a vis the veracity of the others beliefs?

            Right, because it’s not like humans can now rain down fire from heaven. I wonder: do you have the same problems with physics textbooks which talk about “spherical cows”?

            Oh fer feck sake. When the people reading the physics textbooks really believe that the books are actually talking about balloon shaped cows exist because they read it in a book, yeah, the same problems.

            https://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-complete/1-kings/19.html

          • IA: The problem is, without the miracles claims used as evidence, there would be no religion for you to hold. It’s what most folk believe is what makes their preferred religion, special. The same applies to the others.

            LB: Your evidential/​rational basis for this extrapolation from ‘some’ ⇒ ‘all’?

            IA: Where did I say “all”?

            You did not say “all”, but you did characterize “most”, and then said the characterization applies to “the others”. What residue is left?

            Anyways, show me a religion that doesn’t garner gravitas without supernatural claims?

            I’m not sure you can find any religion where no subset gets excited about supernatural claims. While I’m not generally a fan of John Calvin, he seems to have made a good observation about human nature with his “seed of religion”. But the pseudoscientists don’t discredit the scientists doing verifiable work.

            Your quote (unattributed—why?) is uninteresting without a definition of ‘religion’—it could easily be tautological.

            IA: And take away the miracle claims of others, and all there is are the same things that you hold.

            LB: That’s quite the claim of universality; …

            IA: It’s a generalization. I’m sure there are exceptions to the rule to be found. So I’ll rephrase that to say the popular religions believed by most in the world. They can claim a moral philosophy even with the woo-woo stripped away.

            “the same things that you hold”“a moral philosophy”

            Can you make it a bit clearer what you think Girard’s pointing to, and what bearing it has to this conversation?

            You are claiming a similarity between all religions, vis-à-vis morality, which I am denying. The difference between mythological justifications for scapegoating and exposing it for what it is, makes all the difference. It’s self-righteousness (or society-righteousness) justified vs. exposed.

            Girard argues that we get most of our desires from others (“models”) and that this creates an artificial scarcity (my term) of the desired, which leads to rivalry and then violence. Girard looked at religions other than Christianity and Judaism and found that they resolved this violence by laying all the blame on a scapegoat (sometimes one, sometimes many) and then doing away with the scapegoat. I forget if this is always murder or can also be ostracizing. The rivalry is temporarily ameliorated as a result: a small amount of violence is substituted for a large amount of violence. The pattern repeats. What’s important to note here is that people believe the scapegoat is truly guilty, unlike the two goats in the Day of Atonement. These religions promulgated a distorted understanding of ‘innocence’—at least, according to many 21st century Westerners’ judgment.

            What makes Jesus unique is that the accusation of guilt could not convincingly stick, and so no myth could be told that he was guilty and by killing him, peace was restored to society. We might hypothesize that Jesus set this up intentionally; he clearly knew he was going to be executed before his disciples (according to the story). And so when Peter recapitulates Nathan’s “You are the man!” less than a year after Jesus’ crucifixion, some were willing to admit they had scapegoated Jesus. Peter tells those “some” (I can’t say with certainty that it was “all”) that they need to repent. Repent of just crucifying Jesus? That makes no sense, for there were bad reasons they employed to justify crucifying Jesus. So really, they needed to repent of all the guilt-attribution to the scapegoat which, to that day, every other religion had rationalized.

            What is left to be explored is whether scapegoating is a logical or psychological necessity, once you have integrated error into your moral judgment. Perhaps we have to carve our sins in the scapegoat’s flesh, believing they are really sins of the scapegoat, and only later admit that it was really our own sins we were carving. There is a trope in fiction, when some evil people only admit their evil when innocents end up getting killed due to their “righteous” actions. But much research is yet to be done.

            What has this got to do with this conversation and the veracity of what you believe vis a vis the veracity of the others beliefs?

            One expects one’s beliefs to help one navigate reality better than any [known] alternative set of beliefs. I gave an example of that happening. See, there’s actually a fatal flaw in the OTfF [at least as you summarized it]: it makes zero reference to empirical prowess. If my “ridiculous beliefs” render me more empirically capable than you, why on earth would I shed them for yours†? And so someone (Loftus) who claims that the evidence matters supremely, has offered a test which does not reference the evidence, but is instead entirely rationalistic. The trick with rationalism is that not all formalisms well-match empirical reality.

            † To more precisely capture the OTfF: if shedding my “ridiculous beliefs” leads to a Luke′ who is empirically less capable than Luke, why would I make the change to Luke′? The reason I framed this as I did above is that I try to tie ‘ridiculous’ to the empirical evidence, and so I’m not sure how often the scenario in the footnote actually happens with me.

            IA: Pointing to what a character, Queen Jezebel, did in a story book regarding supernatural goings on, is the kind of ridiculousness I’m talking about.

            LB: Right, because it’s not like humans can now rain down fire from heaven. I wonder: do you have the same problems with physics textbooks which talk about “spherical cows”?

            IA: Oh fer feck sake. When the people reading the physics textbooks really believe that the books are actually talking about balloon shaped cows exist because they read it in a book, yeah, the same problems.

            Erm, the very point is not realism about spherical cows, but to emphasize that the physics employed is highly idealized and yet tells you something useful about reality. Queen Jezebel didn’t have to exist (that is, we can remain agnostic) in order for the story to tell us something useful about reality. From the story, we can reason that raining fire down from heaven on an enemy isn’t necessarily going to make them submit to your greater power. And that is precisely what we see in reality. And yet, some atheists seem to think that people really would fall down and worship the greater power:

            KP: The existence of God could be confirmed at any time in many different ways. If the image of the Eagle Nebula taken by the Hubble Space Telescope had come with beautiful cursive writing saying “I, Yahweh, did this” then–ruling out a practical joke–that would do it. God could appear in all his Michaelangeloid glory and assure us that he does indeed exist. Something like the contest at Mt. Carmel between Elihah and the priests of Baal would also do it.

            I heavily doubt Keith Parsons would provide anything like your answer when it comes to distinguishing between God and Satan being [100%?†] subjective. He has admitted to believing in “a bad model of human nature”, although only a bad model of the rabble he would call “sheep”—I suspect he himself gets to be a “shepherd”. I say Dr. Parsons still has a terrible model of human nature, and if he took seriously the model presented in 1 Kings 18–19, he would never offer Mt. Carmel as possible evidence of God’s existence. I think he would also be able to better navigate non-theistic aspects of reality with such a shift in belief—an important test of theologically-influenced beliefs, IMO.

          • Ignorant Amos

            You did not say “all”, but you did characterize “most”, and then said the characterization applies to “the others”. What residue is left?

            I don’t know what residue is left, because I’m not au fait with all world religions, hence me not claiming all. Perhaps I should’ve made that clearer. By adding the caveat “the others I know about.

            But this seems like another unnecessary red herring to the point I was trying to make about the importance that miracles play in religions taking hold.

            This is not to say there isn’t issues or even challenges inherent with the concept of appealing to miracles as evidence Early Christians were faced with their own OTfF challenges when it came to their fabulous miracle claims.

            A debate over the significance of miracle stories marks a number of religions. For example, when early Christian thinkers appealed to the miracles of Jesus and the apostles to try to convince others of the truth of their teachings, they were faced with two powerful objections. First, that the miracles they reported were no more amazing than those reported by believers of pagan religions. Second, that the miracles they reported were the result of sorcery, not the intervention of God. In response, rather than appeal to miracles to support Christian teachings, some early Christian thinkers tried to defend their accounts of miracles by appealing to the truth of the teachings! Others disregarded appeals to miracles entirely.

            http://www.alevelphilosophy.co.uk/handouts_religion/MiraclesRoleSignificance.pdf

            but lets not kid ourselves that miracle claims are not central to the beliefs of most.

            The belief in the miracle of the Resurrection has been integral to the truth claim of Christianity. That you give no evidential weight to such claims, sets you apart as an exception, rather than the rule imo.

            What remains untouched by this debate is the idea of miracles as ‘signs’ of God’s activity, purpose and character. In this sense, miracle stories are integral to the nature and message of the religion, e.g. the idea of God as healer or giver of life. These signs are not meant to convert the unbeliever, but are only perceived as signs by those who already believe. They confirm and strengthen faith, but they don’t create it. However, some religious thinkers have reservations about thinking of miracles as specific acts of God can
            undermine the idea that God is active throughout creation. We need to realize that God and the miraculous are present in everything.

            I’m not sure you can find any religion where no subset gets excited about supernatural claims.

            That’s my point. Even the Protestants only put temporal restrictions on Gods ability to perform miracle…though ya wouldn’t know that by the Protestants of today.

            A similar debate broke out between Protestants and Catholics 1600 years later. Protestants argued that God had restricted miracles to the time of the New Testament, and the Catholic belief in continuing miracles went hand-in-hand with their false belief in
            saints. Catholics replied that the fact there weren’t any Protestant miracles demonstrated that Protestantism was not the true religion.

            While I’m not generally a fan of John Calvin, he seems to have made a good observation about human nature with his “seed of religion”.

            I fail to see what relevance this has to our discussion. Is there something in that screed pertinent to the point I made? If so, can you make it without me wasting my time reading a pile of theological dross?

            Unless Calvin denied the miracles of the bible, he is irrelevant. And even if he did, that has nothing to do with how Christian miracle claims were offered as evidence for the claim Jesus was God incarnate in early Christianity.

            But the pseudoscientists don’t discredit the scientists doing verifiable work.

            What do you mean by “pseudoscience”? It’s a bit of a loaded term.

            Pseudoscience is incompatible with the scientific method. It’s patently false science that scientists should not give the time of day to. But that’s different from a crackpot theory which pseudoscience is not. “Crackpot theories” or “alternative theories” if ya like, are scientific theories that have indeed impacted on scientists doing verifiable work, once the evidence is established well enough to make them science. An example of such is continental drift.

            What point are you trying to make with the pseudoscience analogy?

            Your quote (unattributed—why?) is uninteresting without a definition of ‘religion’—it could easily be tautological.

            It was unattributed because I didn’t feel the need to cite the source for the point to stand, it was italicized to show it was not mine.

            https://www.learnreligions.com/religion-is-belief-in-supernatural-beings-250678

            What definition of religion would you like to use?

            Coincidentally, I posted this in an combox elsewhere a couple of hours ago.

            Religion can be defined as a relatively-bounded system of beliefs, symbols and practices that addresses the nature of existence, and in which communion with others and Otherness is lived as if it both takes in and spiritually transcends socially-grounded ontologies of time, space, embodiment and knowing.

            https://disqus.com/home/discussion/crossexamined/10_commandments_for_atheists_44/#comment-4437622634

            But I don’t see the problem. The comment was to support my claim that supernatural beliefs are a common and fundamental aspect to most religions.

          • but lets not kid ourselves that miracle claims are not central to the beliefs of most.

            Of course; most humans appear to worship power. It makes sense: how else are you going to survive and provide for your children? If that means the other tribe has to be crushed, so be it.

            The belief in the miracle of the Resurrection has been integral to the truth claim of Christianity. That you give no evidential weight to such claims, sets you apart as an exception, rather than the rule imo.

            Oh I understand that I’m an exception in refusing to see acts of power as evidence of goodness. After all, many humans have thought that the most powerful is also the most good. The general pattern throughout human history, as far as I can tell, has been: “Might makes right.” I see Jesus as establishing what/who is right/good by a very different kind of power. This kind of goodness only makes sense if indeed there is a god who raises people from the dead. Otherwise, anyone pursuing it is a nub who will merely empower the manipulators.

            LB: I’m not sure you can find any religion where no subset gets excited about supernatural claims.

            IA: That’s my point.

            If you accept Sturgeon’s law, who cares? If you don’t, why not?

            A similar debate broke out between Protestants and Catholics 1600 years later. Protestants argued that God had restricted miracles to the time of the New Testament, and the Catholic belief in continuing miracles went hand-in-hand with their false belief in saints. Catholics replied that the fact there weren’t any Protestant miracles demonstrated that Protestantism was not the true religion.

            Pure politics.

            Is there something in that screed pertinent to the point I made?

            Humans love superstition. It’s like pseudo-scientists who don’t want to do the hard work of real science. We humans prefer easy, made-up order to the grueling work of discovering true order. And then we hang out with people like us, who won’t point out the holes and contradictions.

            What do you mean by “pseudoscience”? It’s a bit of a loaded term.

            I’m inclined to let Michael Shermer’s Scientific American article What Is Pseudoscience? suffice. In particular:

            Here, perhaps, is a practical criterion for resolving the demarcation problem: the conduct of scientists as reflected in the pragmatic usefulness of an idea. That is, does the revolutionary new idea generate any interest on the part of working scientists for adoption in their research programs, produce any new lines of research, lead to any new discoveries, or influence any existing hypotheses, models, paradigms or world­views? If not, chances are it is pseudoscience. (What Is Pseudoscience?)

            I compare this to Jesus saying “You will recognize them by their fruits.”, with regard to discerning between true prophets and false prophets. Truth leads to more truth, while falsehood leads to cancerous squalor. But you have to pay attention and often, long-term attention, to detect “language matching reality”. Who’s got time for that?

            IA: Anyways, show me a religion that doesn’t garner gravitas without supernatural claims?

            LB: … But the pseudoscientists don’t discredit the scientists doing verifiable work.

            IA: What point are you trying to make with the pseudoscience analogy?

            We shouldn’t let the terrible 90% blind us to the good 10%. (Feel free to futz with the percentages; Sturgeon won’t mind.)

            What definition of religion would you like to use?

            It’s not appropriate for me to impose my preferred definition of religion on the quoted text.

            It was unattributed because I didn’t feel the need to cite the source for the point to stand, it was italicized to show it was not mine.

            [Religion Is a Belief in Supernatural Beings]

            The title is nigh tautological with the quoted text.

            Coincidentally, I posted this in an combox elsewhere a couple of hours ago.

            IA: Religion can be defined as a relatively-bounded system of beliefs, symbols and practices that addresses the nature of existence, and in which communion with others and Otherness is lived as if it both takes in and spiritually transcends socially-grounded ontologies of time, space, embodiment and knowing.

            That definition comes verbatim from Paul James and Peter Mandaville’s introductory chapter to the 2010 anthology Globalization and Culture, Vol. 2: Globalizing Religions. The footnote [excluded from your quotatoin] is interesting: “This definition is intended for example to get away from the dichotomous understandings of immanence/​transcendence, spirituality/​materialism, and sacredness/​secularity.” I’m confused as to how the definition avoids depending on all three dichotomies. Anyway, have you read that chapter or the 2012 paper?

            But I don’t see the problem. The comment was to support my claim that supernatural beliefs are a common and fundamental aspect to most religions.

            Again, if that’s a tautological statement, it’s uninteresting. If it’s an instance of Sturgeon’s law, it’s mostly uninteresting. Humans of all stripes are loathe to be empirical, loathe to generate understandings which are brittle enough to both guide action and be falsifiable. So why talk so much about “most”, if the topic is what I believe? If the topic isn’t what I believe, then I decline to speak for “most”.

          • Ignorant Amos

            “the same things that you hold” ≠ “a moral philosophy”

            When all the supernatural woo-woo is stripped away, because it holds no evidential power when it comes to what you believe, then what do you call that what is left?

            Where does your “moral philosophy” come from?

            Of course there is still a fair amount of cherry-picking also required for the different religiously based moralities to line up with that of the non-religious.

          • When all the supernatural woo-woo is stripped away, because it holds no evidential power when it comes to what you believe, then what do you call that what is left?

            Divine power that is weakness to humans and divine wisdom that is foolishness to humans. Just consider the political ammunition you give to others when you admit that you done fucked up. Now iterate. Contrast that to Jesus’ first sermon: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Repentance is for the weak and foolish.

            Where does your “moral philosophy” come from?

            Jesus, who is the τέλος of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. Jesus was gracious and merciful toward those who knew they were not righteous, and harsh toward those who knew they were righteous. Moreover, Jesus was an incredible conduit of wisdom and healing to a world which desperately needed it; I say Christians could do the same if they would only get over themselves and accept that repentance truly is good, even if in this life they are punished more than rewarded.

            Of course there is still a fair amount of cherry-picking also required for the different religiously based moralities to line up with that of the non-religious.

            When it comes to Christianity as I understand it, one needs a total inversion:

            Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something. And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” He said to them, “You will drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.” And when the ten heard it, they were indignant at the two brothers. But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:20–28)

            Too many Christians have wanted to be great in the way that the mommy of James and John envisioned. The way you do this is hide your weaknesses from attack, exaggerate your strengths, and take more than you give. Evolutionary common sense. Truth about me is power over me; just imagine how much power Zuckerberg would have if Facebook were to develop statistical political models of users, replete with A/B testing to see what feed changes would sway the total vote. After all, his visit to all fifty states could have been a prelude to running for president. Thank God for Russia, I say. Anyhow, it’s far better to deceive others so they cannot manipulate you; as Simler and Hanson argue, deceiving yourself is the best way to accomplish this. Truth is, in a critical sense, the enemy.

          • Ignorant Amos

            You are claiming a similarity between all religions, vis-à-vis morality, which I am denying.

            If you take away the woo-woo beliefs of religions. And disregard the nasty bits that are found in the pages of those religious scriptures that have them, which I’m presuming you are happy to do with the bible, than how does the morals left, differ between religions? And the secular world for that matter.

            The difference between mythological justifications for scapegoating and exposing it for what it is, makes all the difference. It’s self-righteousness (or society-righteousness) justified vs. exposed.

            But who believes in scapegoating in this day and age other than those that believe it is a supernatural phenomenon?

            Girard argues that we get most of our desires from others (“models”) and that this creates an artificial scarcity (my term) of the desired, which leads to rivalry and then violence. Girard looked at religions other than Christianity and Judaism and found that they resolved this violence by laying all the blame on a scapegoat (sometimes one, sometimes many) and then doing away with the scapegoat.

            He didn’t look at all religions. He looked at the religions that used scapegoating. He also claims that the concept pre-dates religion and that the idea was taken up by religions as a ritual.

            But I’m curious as to why I should take anything in the musings of a Catholic Christian apologist, the same musings that have been roundly criticized by his peers.

            Girard is also open to criticism inasmuch as his Christian apologetics seems to rely on an already biased comparison of myths and the Bible. It has been objected that he is not thoroughly fair in the application of standards when contrasting the Bible and myths. Girard’s hermeneutic goes to great lengths to highlight violence in rituals when, in fact, it is not all that evident. He may be accused of being predisposed to find sanctioned violence in myths and, based upon that predisposition, he interprets as sanctioned violence mythical elements that, under another interpretative lens, would not be violent at all. Metaphorically speaking, when studying many myths, Girard is just seeing faces in the clouds, and projecting upon myths some elements that are far from being clear.

            In the same manner, one may object that Girard’s treatment of the Bible, and especially the New Testament, is too benevolent. Most secular historians would agree that there are some hints of persecution against the Jews in the gospels (for example, an exaggeration of Jewish guilt in the arrest and execution of Jesus), and that the historical Jesus’ apocalyptic preaching is not just a warning of future human violence, but rather, an announcement of imminent divine wrath.

            https://www.iep.utm.edu/girard/#H3

            What makes Jesus unique is that the accusation of guilt could not convincingly stick, and so no myth could be told that he was guilty and by killing him, peace was restored to society. We might hypothesize that Jesus set this up intentionally; he clearly knew he was going to be executed before his disciples (according to the story). And so when Peter recapitulates Nathan’s “You are the man!” less than a year after Jesus’ crucifixion, some were willing to admit they had scapegoated Jesus. Peter tells those “some” (I can’t say with certainty that it was “all”) that they need to repent. Repent of just crucifying Jesus? That makes no sense, for there were bad reasons they employed to justify crucifying Jesus. So really, they needed to repent of all the guilt-attribution to the scapegoat which, to that day, every other religion had rationalized.

            I don’t believe it can be demonstrated that Jesus actually existed outside being a myth. But even if it could, the “scapegoating” trope is a made up fiction.

            What is left to be explored is ….

            Nah…it’s another Breuerism that I don’t hold relative to you’re morality in comparison to other current religions. And I’ve neither the time nor inclination to open up another rabbit hole.

          • If you take away the woo-woo beliefs of religions. And disregard the nasty bits that are found in the pages of those religious scriptures that have them, which I’m presuming you are happy to do with the bible, than how does the morals left, differ between religions? And the secular world for that matter.

            I’ve nowhere said or implied I would do that with the Bible; instead I have said multiple times that “I don’t see miracles as having evidential power.” That is, might does not make right. Too much Christianity I’ve encountered seems to assert that might does make right, while the secular realm seems to completely agree on that (because social consensus is seen as more and more anemic as time goes on).

            Jesus’ example indicates that the way you demonstrate your moral superiority is to let others carve their sins into your flesh. Humans love feeling righteous. They love denying the consequences of their actions and inactions. This leaves an ever-growing “error” and the books must be balanced from time to time. And so humans find victims who either cannot or will not defend themselves. Killing or driving off the victims achieves a temporary peace, like a sort of societal forgiveness. But there is little to no repentance, requiring more victims every so often. If Christians follow Jesus’ example and let themselves be victims, it becomes harder to scapegoat them the more they are actually like Jesus. This is a way to establish ‘right’, with zero ‘might’.

            Jesus’ example is absurd if there is no resurrection from the dead. That doesn’t mean you can’t get non-Christians like Gandhi (“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”), but they will be too few and too far between to stem the tide of horrible. Evolution wins and evolution cares nothing for morality except that which makes for winners. Without God to resurrect the truly righteous, all you will ever get is power determining what qualifies as ‘righteous’, with more or less subtlety.

            But who believes in scapegoating in this day and age other than those that believe it is a supernatural phenomenon?

            Look at what was done to the Covington Catholic high school students. Or those who blame Trump and Republicans for the nation’s problems, as if the rest contributed zero to little. As long as you deny your own agency (taking too much or too little credit), “error” will build.

            He didn’t look at all religions. He looked at the religions that used scapegoating. He also claims that the concept pre-dates religion and that the idea was taken up by religions as a ritual.

            Agreed; that changes nothing in my argument.

            But I’m curious as to why I should take anything in the musings of a Catholic Christian apologist, the same musings that have been roundly criticized by his peers.

            You asked for a difference between Christianity and other religions; I provided one. Perhaps the greatest power in Girard’s analysis is that it is the only way I know of that you can get morality/​goodness/​righteousness that is not established by power.

          • Ignorant Amos

            One expects one’s beliefs to help one navigate reality better than any [known] alternative set of beliefs.

            Hmmm…problematic ain’t it?

            See, there’s actually a fatal flaw in the OTfF [at least as you summarized it]: it makes zero reference to empirical prowess.

            It’s not my summary. And it is hardly a comprehensive summary of what is something a lot more detailed. But I think you have a bit of a brass neck invoke a term like “empirical prowess”.

            If my “ridiculous beliefs” render me more empirically capable than you, why on earth would I shed them for yours†? And so someone (Loftus) who claims that the evidence matters supremely, has offered a test which does not reference the evidence, but is instead entirely rationalistic. The trick with rationalism is that not all formalisms well-match empirical reality.

            I think it’s time I called it a day. I’m struggling to get a grip of the fuckwittery you are starting spew in order to rationalize your position.

            Erm, the very point is not realism about spherical cows, but to emphasize that the physics employed is highly idealized and yet tells you something useful about reality. Queen Jezebel didn’t have to exist (that is, we can remain agnostic) in order for the story to tell us something useful about reality. From the story, we can reason that raining fire down from heaven on an enemy isn’t necessarily going to make them submit to your greater power.

            It is a made up story. The OT is full of stories about the peoples within, thumbing their noses at the miraculous signs being given. The OT is an excuse for why Yahweh keeps abandoning his chosen people with a lot of padding and filler stories, that’s all.

            I could give zero fucks about what would convince KP of a gods existence. I don’t think there is anything that would convince me of a gods existence that I couldn’t find a more rational explanation for as an alternative. I don’t believe a god exists, remember. Obviously for you, something has you convinced. Something has Scientologists convinced that their belief in their absurdness is correct too. Ditto for all the other absurd beliefs out there. They all fail when subjected to that “empirical prowess” you mentioned. That’s why you don’t hold to the alternatives and are blinded when it comes to your own.

            I don’t know what it would take for me to believe a god existed. But a god with the alleged attributes of the god of the bible would know, if it existed. That it hasn’t, then it doesn’t exist. If it can’t, then it doesn’t exist. And if it doesn’t want to, then fuck it, I don’t much care for a god like that.

          • The following—

            Our basic thesis—that we are strategically blind to key aspects of our motives—has been around in some form or another for millennia. It’s been put forward not only by poets, playwrights, and philosophers, but also by countless wise old souls, at least when you catch them in private and in the right sort of mood. And yet the thesis still seems to us neglected in scholarly writings; you can read a mountain of books and still miss it. (The Elephant in the Brain, ix)

            —is indeed problematic for anyone lauding the superiority of science over Christianity on every point that bears on ‘truth’ (as said person would construe ‘truth’). If there is a systematic distortion in the instruments which measure reality, then they will intersubjectively agree on error and yet call it ‘truth’.

            It is a made up story.

            Spherical cows and the mathematics behind them are also made-up. And yet, they model reality well in some domains for some purposes. But somehow, a story in the OT could not possibly do this if there is possibility it is made-up. Double standards for the win!

            I don’t think there is anything that would convince me of a gods existence that I couldn’t find a more rational explanation for as an alternative.

            That is entirely in keeping with self-righteousness: nothing can convince the self-righteous person that [s]he is not the standard of righteousness, the epitome of righteousness. Far from being god-of-the-gaps, God would point out our gaps. But the self-righteous person has no gaps! At most, his/her behavior falls short of his/her stated ideals—but we’re all evolved creatures and so we’re not perfect. More science and technology are surely the answers, and the only answers, to becoming more perfect. God could not possibly have anything to say which we could not figure out on our own power. At best, he could give us some equations that would take us a while to figure out by ourselves.

            I don’t believe a god exists, remember. Obviously for you, something has you convinced.

            Actually, you pretty much just admitted that you deny, on a metaphysical level, that God could possibly exist. After all, you are surely open to believing anything which is metaphysically possible—you surely aren’t close-minded!

            What has me convinced is that humans seem unable to fully acknowledge their own self-righteousness, their own hypocrisy. Their superpower is convincing themselves that they are the standard of goodness. You would think that WWI and WWII would have punctured this arrogance, but nope; what we need, says Steven Pinker, is more Enlightenment! Bend the knee to the god Reason, do more science and technology, and utopia shall come. Where have I heard that before …

            Something has Scientologists convinced that their belief in their absurdness is correct too. Ditto for all the other absurd beliefs out there. They all fail when subjected to that “empirical prowess” you mentioned. That’s why you don’t hold to the alternatives and are blinded when it comes to your own.

            Feel free to tell me how they understand self-righteousness and hypocrisy. I’m happy to pit Christianity’s understanding (per my understanding of it, obviously) against theirs.

            I don’t know what it would take for me to believe a god existed. But a god with the alleged attributes of the god of the bible would know, if it existed. That it hasn’t, then it doesn’t exist. If it can’t, then it doesn’t exist. And if it doesn’t want to, then fuck it, I don’t much care for a god like that.

            This only makes sense if you have no true agency. The one with true agency makes choices which determine what [s]he can possibly know. If you choose to believe that you are the standard of goodness, then you will blind yourself to true goodness. Sheer logic precludes God from doing anything to puncture this. At best, he can provide opportunities for you to show how your goodness is better than his, like the mob and religious elite did when they had Jesus tortured and executed. If you have any respect for “Goodness is language matching reality …”, then prediction will mismatch result and you will be challenged to rethink what and who you thought was “good”.

          • Philip Rand

            Yep John… you always try hard and that is a waste of time…. but, what happens is that you grab your six-guns… only to find that there are only two there, pilgrim..

            All hat no cattle (or is it All hat no van)… or are you riding a horse now? Goes with the hat and the six-guns.

          • Philip Rand

            John… I don’t like beating my head against the wall.… ah… it’s that six-gun thingy, isn’t it?

          • Ignorant Amos

            Any idea if The Outsider Test for Faith has gotten traction in academia?

            Bo Bennett PhD, the author of Logically Fallacious, suggests…

            “What Loftus is describing is the cornerstone of science: skepticism. Based on how you presented Loftus’ position (I have not read his work), I see nothing unique outside of good scientific inquiry.”

            https://www.logicallyfallacious.com/tools/qa/Bo/LogicalFallacies/jV2l6tYy/The_Outsider_Test_For_Faith

            It has certainly been championed by a number of scholars. Contributing to John’s book, “The End of Christianity”

            Victor Stenger, Robert Price, Hector Avalos, Richard Carrier, Keith Parsons, David Eller, and Taner Edis.

            https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00C4B2W54/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i2

            Also by evangelical Christians that have seen the light, such as Daniel Florien…

            https://www.patheos.com/blogs/unreasonablefaith/2009/03/the-outsider-test-for-faith/

            The test is just common sense thinking.

            1) Rational people in distinct geographical locations around the globe overwhelmingly adopt and defend a wide diversity of religious faiths due to their upbringing and cultural heritage. This is the religious diversity thesis.

            2) Consequently, it seems very likely that adopting one’s religious faith is not merely a matter of independent rational judgment but is causally dependent on cultural conditions to an overwhelming degree. This is the religious dependency thesis.

            3) Hence the odds are highly likely that any given adopted religious faith is false.

            4) So the best way to test one’s adopted religious faith is from the perspective of an outsider with the same level of skepticism used to evaluate other religious faiths. This expresses the OTF.

            As Bo Bennett puts it…

            The central problem with religious belief that is being described here is found in motivated reasoning. When one is highly motivated toward a conclusion, the reasoning process is severely hampered by the person’s inability to evaluate the strength of evidence. To a die-hard theist, a sunset is strong evidence for God. Christianity (most forms) creates this motivation through eternal paradise or eternal torture. A scientist, or anyone really interested in the truth, needs to be indifferent to the conclusion. With this indifference comes clarity and the ability to evaluate evidence in proportion to claims. We might be able to sum this up in the quote by Sagan who says, “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence,” where those who engage in motivating reasoning go by the rule “as long as the extraordinary claim supports my conclusion, any level of evidence will do.”

            The OTfF nicely dovetails with a book I’ve just recently read, “The God Virus: How Religion Infects Our Lives and Culture” by Dr. Darrel W. Ray PhD.

            It is reviewed here…

            http://intelligent-falling.blogspot.com/2010/03/god-virus-book-review.html

            It’s as an outsider to god belief that one can recognize the tropes religion uses to infect.

          • Ok, first screw the academics and let’s go with my objection.

            If OTfF is pragmatically wise, why would a budding psychologist should choose from one of the many schools of thought in psychology? The decision of “which one” seems to violate 2). Now perhaps you’ll say that probably every school of psychology in existence is false per 3), but the thing is that if we abandon all those schools of thought, we won’t make any progress toward what is true! I’m being mentored by a sociologist in his 70s and he says that you can carve up sociology this way:

            LB: [abridged:]
                (1) “it’s all structure”
                (2) “it’s only individuals”
                (3) “interpretive/​hermeneutic/​cultural”
                (4) “agency”

            If you want to characterize the social sciences as “not science” because of this that’s fine, but religion has to deal with even more complexity. To say that we should therefore declare all religious beliefs “almost certainly false” might be understood as precluding further exploration. That is obviously true when it comes to schools of thought in psychology and sociology. Or we could look at competing theories of what electricity and magnetism were; saying that each of them was “probably false” is of dubious usefulness when it comes to “What next steps should we take?” Yes, there is a good dose of philosophical pragmatism in my response, here.

             
            Second, here’s something which can be taken as academic criticism, but was published eight months after OTfF. Tomas Bogardus’ writes in the abstract:

            In this paper, I hope to solve a problem that’s as old as the hills: the problem of contingency for religious belief. Paradigmatic examples of this argument begin with a counterfactual premise: had we been born at a different time or in a difference place, we easily could have held different beliefs on religious topics. Ultimately, and perhaps by additional steps, we’re meant to reach the skeptical conclusion that very many of our religious beliefs do not amount to knowledge. I survey some historical examples of this argument, and I try to fill the gap between the counterfactual premise and the skeptical conclusion as forcefully as possible. I consider the following possibilities: there are no additional steps in the argument; or there are and they concern the alleged safety condition on knowledge, or the alleged non-accidentality condition on knowledge, or the unclarity produced by disagreement. On every possibility, the argument from the counterfactual premise to the conclusion of widespread skepticism is invalid. It seems, then, that there is no serious problem of contingency for religious belief. (The Problem of Contingency for Religious Belief)

            Given that that is published in Faith and Philosophy, which “is the journal of the Society of Christian Philosophers”, you’ll almost certainly want to see critical engagement. The 20 ‘citations’ provide some promise of that (OTfF has 8 ‘citations’, with only two† being scholarly). But I only mean to use the academics as cheat codes to accelerate discussions. And I realize that Google Scholar isn’t perfect with citations; I just like to try and not totally reinvent the wheel when dealing with arguments and ideas.

            Anyhow, one of the nice things in academia is it tends to organize itself so that topics get lumped into a small enough pot that once you say something and throw it into the pot, others will build on it however they can and criticize it however they can. In fact you have a responsibility to know what else is in the pot and preemptively deal with it. This hyper-specialization has weaknesses of course; I was really asking how Loftus has put his work out there for maximally robust criticism. site:debunking-christianity.com bogardus and … “Contingency for Religious” return zero results for exact matches, so I’m guessing Bogardus’ argument has escaped Loftus attention.

            † I’m dismissing A Manual for Creating Atheists as scholarly, given @disqus_qeyoCzlAiV:disqus’s comment. But feel free to push back, as always.

          • Ignorant Amos

            I’m toiling with your struggling to get to grips with the basics in all of this.

            It’s really quite not all that difficult.

            Do you believe that Mormons are justified in believing that their Temple Undergarments have supernatural properties? If not, why?

            Then apply the same skepticism to Christian supernatural claims.

            Do the same exercise with every supernatural claim, for every single religion that was and is, then honestly apply the same reasoning to the supernatural claims of Christianity. This isn’t rocket science, though as usual, you try to make it so.

            As for citations, I could give zero fucks about them. They are problematic when using them as a metric to justify the limits one can place on an argument in scholarly writing.

          • I’m toiling with your struggling to get to grips with the basics in all of this.

            I think I understand what is going on. You want the acid of the OTfF to be applied more narrowly than I think is rationally warranted. Does Loftus provide a rationale for why it should not be applied more widely, well outside of whatever he defines as ‘religion’?

            Do you believe that Mormons are justified in believing that their Temple Undergarments have supernatural properties? If not, why?

            Per the ideology of political liberalism, I’m not sure why I should care. I don’t have a deep need to go about the world disbelieving things. If someone tells me he was probed by aliens, I won’t care unless he demands I treat him differently as a result. I may choose to limit my participation with that person in society, but that is my right under the ideology of political liberalism.

            Then apply the same skepticism to Christian supernatural claims.

            You are forgetting my stance on Deut 12:32–13:5: I don’t see miracles as having evidential power. Neither did Queen Jezebel, given what she did after Elijah demonstrated miracle power on Mt. Carmel. I get that you might think this part of the narrative is unbelievable, that actual humans would fall down in fear in the face of such divine power. I disagree; I think the passage captures human psychology to a T.

            What I see as most miraculous in reality is how awesome people are at being undefeatably self-righteous. The only solution I see to that is letting the “righteous” carve their sins into the “guilty”. Then a subset—maybe strict subset—come around and realize it wasn’t the crucified’s sins which got carved. Some realize they engaged in scapegoating. Self-righteousness certainly cannot be cured with the sword, or the bullet, or the law.

            This isn’t rocket science, though as usual, you try to make it so.

            No, defeating self-righteousness is terrifically more difficult than rocket science. Rocket science doesn’t need to grapple with the full complexity of humans in society constantly deceiving each other and themselves. Quantum mechanics and general relativity are child’s play in comparison to human social dynamics.

            As for citations, I could give zero fucks about them.

            For discussions such as these, they are merely like cheat codes, to let others make arguments one can build off of (standing on the shoulders of giants), instead of having to reinvent all of the wheels.

      • ElizabetB.

        Wow, John… you completed a degree with William Lane Craig?!! Yikes That had to be tough!!!
        https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2011/oct/20/richard-dawkins-william-lane-craig
        I appreciate so much your respectful approach to dialog… hats off!!

        • Thank you ElizabetB for your comment. BTW: I may have more hats than some women have shoes. -)

          • Philip Rand

            More hats, but no hats off… good one John!

            Keep it on…taking it off would be bad publicity for your new upcoming book on miracles.

  • ThaneOfDrones

    Off-topic: This may interest readers of this blog

    In a world of know-it-alls, those who walk by faith tend to remain agnostic

    • Linda_LaScola

      Thanks, Thane. I recommend that others read it. It’s a very thoughtful piece by a clergyman who thinks we all are really agnostic no matter what our religious beliefs.

    • ElizabetB.

      Thanks, Thane… The thinking about “knowing” is reminding me of that saying that intrigued me as a kid —

      ” Men are four:
      He who knows not and knows not he knows not, he is a fool—shun him;
      He who knows not and knows he knows not, he is simple—teach him;
      He who knows and knows not he knows, he is asleep—wake him;
      He who knows and knows he knows, he is wise—follow him!
      Lady Burton—Life of Sir Richard Burton. Given as an Arabian Proverb.”

      The proverb is a little more optimistic about what we can know than the article is… though maybe the proverb is thinking of humanistic, not metaphysical, knowledge.

      I don’t think Prather is far off topic… all about knowing and thinking! Thanks

  • Robert Conner

    Why would Christians get their panties in a wad when atheists compare their supernatural beliefs to belief in ghosts? After all, Jesus’ apostles believed in ghosts: “When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. ‘It’s a ghost,’ they said, and cried out in fear.” (Matthew 14:26, NIV) So maybe they accepted the reality of the resurrection because they already believed in ghosts? But some who actually saw Jesus post mortem had reservations: “When they saw [Jesus], they worshiped him; but some doubted.” (Matthew 28:17, NIV) Did the disciples who saw Jesus after he came back from the dead have doubts because they didn’t believe in ghosts? Should the big brains in Christian apologetics start working on that question?

    I find I usually cause Christians the most offense when I quote their Buybull back to them.

    • It’s almost as if … ghosts were understood as specters which could hardly interact with reality. (A ghost walking on water was not much of a feat.) Whereas Jesus asked for some grub because he was hungry and that would demonstrate that he did not match the understanding of ghosts. Thomas worked the same logic when he wanted to stick his finger in the wounds. If it were a ghost, the empirical evidence would have been very different. I know of zero evidence that the disciples adjusted the category of ‘ghost’ to fit the contradictory evidence. Do you?

      • Ignorant Amos

        To counter an early Gnostic heretical belief about the substance of Jesus body perhaps?

        • What I know about the Gnostics, and much Greek thought, is that bodily resurrection would be an insult. But you seem to be adding something to that of which I’m unaware or only vaguely aware. Care to say more?

          • Ignorant Amos

            Are we to believe that in the story, Thomas would not have recognized it was Jesus to look at?

            The device has obviously some other purpose to solve.

            The Gnostic’s jumped on it.

            The gospel account implies that Thomas did not actually touch Jesus’s risen body; faith came to him through his awe at the savior’s presence. Professor Most shows how this recoiling from touch came to make Thomas the hero of many Gnostic texts that reject the flesh—even Jesus’s. Thus, the author follows the fortunes of Thomas through the apocryphal accounts that purportedly led the apostle as far as India, bringing his secret knowledge of the importance of the spiritual over the material to the faithful.

            https://muse.jhu.edu/article/195285/summary

            But did the author(s) of gJohn, and Luke for that matter, seek to demonstrate the contrary? The Doubting Thomas device was to demonstrate that Jesus was in fleshly body c/w crucifixion wounds? As opposed to the phantom one the Gnostics believed.

            https://www.patheos.com/blogs/troublerofisrael/2018/08/the-bible-doesnt-say-jesus-walked-through-walls/

            The question must be asked. Why were these conflicting beliefs and lengths gone to to counter them, if it was so obvious the gospel stories were accurate?

      • Robert Conner

        “I know of zero evidence that the disciples adjusted the category of ‘ghost’ to fit the contradictory evidence. Do you?”

        Yes, as a matter of fact.

        https://www.amazon.com/Apparitions-Jesus-Resurrection-Ghost-Story/dp/1942897162/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=apparitions+of+Jesus+conner&qid=1555617261&s=gateway&sr=8-1-spell

        • I did some digging and Robert Conner’s Apparitions of Jesus: The Resurrection as Ghost Story doesn’t show up in Google Scholar, my interlibrary loan system, or the UC Berkeley library. I did find an article, The Resurrection as Ghost Story, published in Journal of Religion & Psychical Research 2006. Google Scholar lists 1 ‘citation’†. Any idea why that is? The journal appears to have gone through multiple name changes with the publisher URL being Astrology, Spirituality, Psychics and Tarot Digest.

          So … I’m a little reticent to shell out $10 for the book and put the time into reading it. I’m sure he tells a good story, rather like Lee Strobel tells a good story in The Case for Christ. I’d be more interested in it if I could find academic engagement with Conner—nothing like a good cross examination by a fellow expert in the field who is incentivized to find errors. Let me know if you think I’m being unreasonable.

           
          † The single citation: “Psychotherapist’s spiritual experience with their clients in psychotherapy: A phenomenological inquiry”

          • Robert Conner
          • Ignorant Amos

            Welcome to Luke Breuer world….enjoy….NOT!

          • Thanks. What are atheists doing to document this:

            Conner knows his stuff, especially the linguistic side (he studied Greek and Hebrew at Western Kentucky University), although he doesn’t hold a position within academia, preferring the title of ‘independent researcher’, which does leave him, and therefore his ideas, rather outside the fold. It does, though, give him freedom to ruffle feathers and speak bluntly in a way that perhaps wouldn’t be tolerated from an academic insider. (magonia review of Apparitions of Jesus)

            ? As Mike noted, I used to be a young earth creationist. I am familiar with the conspiracy theory claims about how all “evolutionists” are denying evidence and holding to irrationally to ideology. I don’t know if the reviewers meant something that intense, but it seems like you’d need pretty good reasons to avoid going the scholarly route which gives you all the credibility associated with passing peer review. I’d like to hear a bit about that, if you’re willing.

            I’m happy to make a deal: if I get decent engagement on my first comment—where it doesn’t follow this pattern—then in exchange I’ll buy the book, read at least for a bit, respond, and we’ll go from there. Be warned that I am somewhat versed in the differences between Genesis and Enûma Eliš and that effective polemics need to work against contemporary material and differ only where it is important. The same actually happens with anything new: it is mostly clothed in the old. And so some subtlety is needed to say whether something really is new, or just a slight variation on the old. That is my stance and anyone will find it hard to convince me to deviate from it. (I know too much of the history of philosophy of science.)

          • Robert Conner

            I’m a writer. Buy it or don’t buy it. What do I care?

  • Raging Bee

    “Atheists should understand the often good motives of those who evangelize. After all, Christian evangelists really are trying to save us atheists.

    No, they’re not; they’re trying to bully others into supporting their tribe and their worldview, and many of them are OBVIOUSLY enjoying the feeling of superiority their belief, and their evangelical mission, give them.

    I was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, but that was long ago, and all those doubts have since gone.

    • Gotta love the ‘some’ ⇒ ‘all’ reasoning. Very scientific.

      • Sample1

        In the interest of breaking tribalism I agree with what you think you are pointing out. Maybe Bee will elaborate.

        I’m really surprised that you continue to remain a person of faith, a theist. Particularly when you were able to shed YEC and accept evolution.

        Something is keeping you as a believer and it can’t be hard-to-vary evidence for a deity otherwise you’d have published by now. 🙂

        Mike, excommunicated

        • Ignorant Amos

          The God Virus,

          • Sample1

            Read it.

            Mike, vaccinated

        • I explained my angle on the “evidence” thing in my first comment. But I fully expect any response to match @Ficino:disqus’s seven months ago: I am not allowed to question the framing of the issue. The framing is set in stone, just as much as Catholic dogma was in the high medieval era. This is one expectation I’d be happy to see violated.

          If you want to see one major reason I’m sticking with the faith, two atheists explain:

          Our basic thesis—that we are strategically blind to key aspects of our motives—has been around in some form or another for millennia. It’s been put forward not only by poets, playwrights, and philosophers, but also by countless wise old souls, at least when you catch them in private and in the right sort of mood. And yet the thesis still seems to us neglected in scholarly writings; you can read a mountain of books and still miss it. (The Elephant in the Brain, ix)

          They only scratch the surface, but they do a wonderful job of showing how the empirical evidence can be thrown out the window when it’s inconvenient to what humans wish to be the case. This shows up elsewhere in the de facto denial of the many-times-since repeated results of Converse 1964, documented in Electoral Democracy and Democracy for Realists. We humans don’t care one whit for the evidence in plenty of situations; all it has to do is threaten our pretty little ideas. I find that the authors in the Bible are more aware of this than any other authors I’ve found. Maybe there still is no God, but I think that if God is going to tell us things we need to know, we need to know this, more than anything else. We can figure out E = mc² on our own.

          • Raging Bee

            None of that adds up to a good reason for anyone to stick with a set of beliefs that are so wildly implausible, so contradictory to both the observable universe and the reasoning that explains it, and so packed with obvious insanity and dishonesty, as to be useless, at best, in real-world decision-making. Like the old song says, too many people have lied in the name of Christ for anyone to heed the call.

            I have supernatural beliefs of my own, and I don’t blame anyone else for theirs. But the minute I start making any sort of actual decision in any aspect of my life, all those beliefs simply go out the window because they’re OBVIOUSLY not a reliable basis for reasoning, drawing useful conclusions, or getting good or even decent results. And when evangelists try to tell me that adopting their supernatural beliefs will improve my life in any way, my own experience tells me they’re wrong — and the attitude they bring to such conversations tells me they’re really not interested in my own welfare. That leaves me with absolutely no reason to think they “mean well” or want to do anything really good. Most of them are just following orders to support their “tribe.”

          • But I don’t see my set of beliefs as wilder than other options out there. Just look at how the most Enlightened nation in the world went on to commit genocide. There were no [heeded?] warnings from scientists about this. There were a few about WWI, but those people were dismissed by the Enlightened. We humans thought we were the bee’s knees. (Sorry, couldn’t help it.) We gloried in our World Fairs where Homo sapiens who did not look like us were put in zoos. I doubt you have any really convincing accounting of how we managed to do all that. I have found no such accounting from the secular world, although The Elephant in the Brain is the smallest of starts.

            The “supernatural” I believe in wants us to face ourselves, rather than believe in delusions which result in mass death. The only thing that’s magical about that is humans are so fantastically good at flattering themselves with pretty stories; to break through such hubris and self-righteousness is miraculous. I’m not sure why I should throw this all out when it comes to making decisions in day-to-day life. I say that perhaps the biggest reason Jesus had to die is that we humans demanded it for our heinous version of “justice”: we carved our sins into his flesh thinking they were his sins, and only some of us admitted that we projected after he was raised from the dead. I do not see any other way to defeat self-righteousness: self-righteousness must inflict itself on true righteousness before it can see itself for what it is. What is most amazing about Christianity is that God would deal with our self-righteousness this way, rather than via smiting.

            But I know I’m a weird Christian. I think talking to atheists is valuable, as they have taught me much and continue to teach me much. (You taking so much of what I say as accusation is teaching me more; perhaps that is just me being an idiot, perhaps that matches how many Christians carry themselves, or perhaps I have much to figure out there.) I think evidence is valuable, and have been waging war with a Catholic over on Strange Notions on that very matter. I do buy much of the woo-woo in the Bible, but apparently I see the purpose as virtually the opposite of most Christians. The power-play version of Christianity you mentioned is very prominent. (Think evolution: who says the biggest demographics will be good or truthful? No, the biggest demographics are the ones best at reproducing.)

            And to your “just following orders”, I’ve been arguing against that with another Catholic. I say the Bible is exceedingly skeptical of authority in OT and NT. It is virtually a manual for how to oppose authority in a way that actually works—if *ahem* you’re willing to be one of the martyrs.

          • Raging Bee

            Just look at how the most Enlightened nation in the world went on to commit genocide.

            And while we’re at it, let’s also just look at how the most backward, authoritarian institutions in said nation used religious beliefs to encourage and justify that genocide.

            There were no [heeded?] warnings from scientists about this.

            There were PLENTY of warnings from the people who rightly feared becoming victims of this.

            What’s your point again…?

          • Ignorant Amos

            But I don’t see my set of beliefs as wilder than other options out there.

            Waoh!

            It’s wilder than some, less wilder than others. But therein lies the problem. You can’t see just how wild it is, because you’ve got the God Virus.

            When you were a YEC version, you were wilder, what was it that made you become less wilder?

          • Ignorant Amos

            And to your “just following orders”, I’ve been arguing against that with another Catholic. I say the Bible is exceedingly skeptical of authority in OT and NT. It is virtually a manual for how to oppose authority in a way that actually works—if *ahem* you’re willing to be one of the martyrs.

            It’s a cherry-picked Rorschach Test…you see what ya want. But ignore those bits that are a struggle.

          • In one sense yes; do you think that WP: List of unsolved problems in physics discredits the field of physics? They cherry-pick the phenomena to study based on what they’re currently able to study. The more they study the currently tractable phenomena, the more they develop conceptual and physical tools which allows them to study a greater variety of phenomena. Why shouldn’t the same apply for studying a holy text? Not every contradiction is the end of the world either; the contradiction between GR and QFT near the event horizons of black holes didn’t explode physics. You do want some sort of empirical success to give you hope for the present project, which is exactly what I’ve claimed upthread.

            In the more Rorschach sense also yes: people’s interpretation of the Bible reveals much about them. It’s almost as if a big point of revelation is to reveal. I can give you Bible verses on this but I doubt that’d be beneficial. Suffice it to say that people are very good at hiding and being self-righteous; piercing the façades is not always easy. But there is an inherent problem with any tool which lets you pierce façades: the enemy can use the tool to learn how to build better façades. And so you get an arms race and if you cherry-pick from that, you can blame the tool for all the problems, not recognizing that you might be using the tool to see the problems as problems.

          • Ignorant Amos

            In one sense yes; do you think that WP: List of unsolved problems in physics discredits the field of physics?

            It’s a poor analogy.

            They cherry-pick the phenomena to study based on what they’re currently able to study. The more they study the currently tractable phenomena, the more they develop conceptual and physical tools which allows them to study a greater variety of phenomena. Why shouldn’t the same apply for studying a holy text?

            The unsolved problems in physics are holes. They are, “we don’t know the answer yet” gaps. The bits in the holy texts not being cherry picked today, are not holes. They are those bits that are problematic for believers in this day and age, so they are omitted when teaching scripture to children. So they don’t get a mention. The holes in our understanding of physics will be addressed when, as you say, we are at a place where we can.

            In the more Rorschach sense also yes: people’s interpretation of the Bible reveals much about them. It’s almost as if a big point of revelation is to reveal. I can give you Bible verses on this but I doubt that’d be beneficial. Suffice it to say that people are very good at hiding and being self-righteous; piercing the façades is not always easy. But there is an inherent problem with any tool which lets you pierce façades: the enemy can use the tool to learn how to build better façades. And so you get an arms race and if you cherry-pick from that, you can blame the tool for all the problems, not recognizing that you might be using the tool to see the problems as problems.

            The problem is that Christians present the Bible as the words and actions of YahwehJesus. And to varying degrees, the truth of that YahwehJesus. My problem here is that you are apologizing for the defects in a book that is at least supposedly inspired by God. Somewhere in all this, I don’t see perfection, omniscience, nor omnipotence.

            Yet you’d have no issues in seeing the same flaws in the scriptures of other faiths and using them as a cosh to bludgeon those religions.

          • It’s a poor analogy.

            If you’re not going to explain how, I don’t care what you call “poor”. [Edit: I guess you explain, below.]

            The unsolved problems in physics are holes.

            Sounds “Two Clouds” speech-esque to me—we have it pretty much all figured out folks, just mop-up work left!

            They are those bits that are problematic for believers in this day and age, so they are omitted when teaching scripture to children.

            Well the people who were most willing to stick with the religion but ditch the “problematic texts” are the ones who went on to commit genocide, and against the Jews no less. I had many good conversations with my old atheist boss, conversations which he told me he enjoyed. But he wanted the whole book of Leviticus thrown away and a major problem with that is that Leviticus is the first hint that humans scapegoat. That’s actually where we get the term from. The thing is, scapegoats at the time were, per scholar René Girard, guilty. All religions other than Judaism and Christianity served to legitimate the scapegoating mechanism, not unveil it for what it is. To want to remove the “problematic” passages is to remove the passages which attest to human terribleness. Those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it. With slightly differently flavors, of course.

            So they don’t get a mention.

            Actually, that seems to more properly apply to our self-righteousness. See my excerpt from The Elephant in the Brain for starters. See, the evil is in the Other. We might have a few drops, but that’s not really a serious problem. The serious problem is Them.

            The problem is that Christians present the Bible as the words and actions of YahwehJesus.

            Sure. But that doesn’t really matter, because there’s always going to be a “text” that has “highest authority” in a culture. What’s worse is when the text is hidden instead of printed in an easily available book. Because then it’s a giant social game to (i) know what’s in the text; (ii) manipulate what’s in the text. I prefer out-in-the-open myself, but perhaps that’s because I’m very bad at the deceiving-others game. I am too transparent, they tell me. As if well-practiced deception is a noble attribute.

            My problem here is that you are apologizing for the defects in a book that is at least supposedly inspired by God.

            And you are making all sorts of assumptions about God in even framing the issue that way. The thing is, when humans try to be more like the God you’re presupposing, they become more and more horrible. Or so goes my experience. That makes me think; whether it makes you think is entirely up to you.

            Yet you’d have no issues in seeing the same flaws in the scriptures of other faiths and using them as a cosh to bludgeon those religions.

            [citation needed]

          • Ignorant Amos

            Sounds “Two Clouds” speech-esque to me—we have it pretty much all figured out folks, just mop-up work left!

            And the beauty of that example is, that it was science that demonstrated Kelvin’s error. So the “we have it pretty much all figured out folks, just mop-up work left!” is disingenuous and not up to date thinking.

            Everything in science is provisional.

            This is a Dara O’Briain moment…”Science knows it doesn’t know everything, otherwise it would stop.”

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uDYba0m6ztE

            Well the people who were most willing to stick with the religion but ditch the “problematic texts” are the ones who went on to commit genocide, and against the Jews no less.

            That’s a lie. The German people in Nazi Germany were 94% Christian…54% Protestant…50% Catholic. Nice try though.

            I had many good conversations with my old atheist boss, conversations which he told me he enjoyed. But he wanted the whole book of Leviticus thrown away and a major problem with that is that Leviticus is the first hint that humans scapegoat.

            Am having a debate elsewhere with fella that is arguing that the early Gentile’s converted to Christ followers by Paul’s missions, are Noahide’s. There is no need for Leviticus, nor the Law of Moses..

            That’s actually where we get the term from.

            Yeah…one goat got sacrificed, the other, the goat that escaped sacrifice, the scapegoat that symbolically carried the sins of Israel into the wilderness, was the lucky one. That’s what plays out in the Jesus story in the Matt’s gospel. Barabbas, meaning “Son of the Father”, is freed. The scapegoat. Jesus is the Lords goat, another “Son of the Father”, who gets sacrificed.

            He then went to the scapegoat, laid his hands on its head,
            and confessed the sins of the people. A designated person
            led the scapegoat out of the temple and into the wilderness
            where it was released (Leviticus 16:21-22).

            The scapegoat represented escaping punishment for sins.
            Because “the Lord’s goat” was killed as a sacrifice for sins,
            the “scapegoat” was set free.

            http://storage.cloversites.com/makinglifecountministriesinc/documents/Barabbas%20and%20the%20Scapegoat.pdf

            The thing is, scapegoats at the time were, per scholar René Girard, guilty.

            I’m not big on the nonsense that is vicarious redemption. It’d a repugnant concept.

            All religions other than Judaism and Christianity served to legitimate the scapegoating mechanism, not unveil it for what it is. To want to remove the “problematic” passages is to remove the passages which attest to human terribleness. Those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it. With slightly differently flavors, of course.

            So what? What has any of this got to do with anything? The issue isn’t about removing problematic passages, it’s about them not being addressed at all, avoided by “cherry-picking” out the easy passages. If they are not being taught then they are as good as being removed. Christians don’t get their biblical knowledge from reading it.

            Actually, that seems to more properly apply to our self-righteousness. See my excerpt from The Elephant in the Brain for starters. See, the evil is in the Other. We might have a few drops, but that’s not really a serious problem. The serious problem is Them.

            Again, this isn’t about what should be, but what about is. When I relay the nasty stories in the bible to the Christians around me irl, they recoil in horror and refuse to believe such stuff is in there. Fortunately I carry two bibles with me everywhere.

            Sure. But that doesn’t really matter, because there’s always going to be a “text” that has “highest authority” in a culture. What’s worse is when the text is hidden instead of printed in an easily available book. Because then it’s a giant social game to (i) know what’s in the text; (ii) manipulate what’s in the text. I prefer out-in-the-open myself, but perhaps that’s because I’m very bad at the deceiving-others game. I am too transparent, they tell me. As if well-practiced deception is a noble attribute.

            It’s just a pity there isn’t more like ya…there’d likely be a whole lot less Christians about.

            And you are making all sorts of assumptions about God in even framing the issue that way. The thing is, when humans try to be more like the God you’re presupposing, they become more and more horrible. Or so goes my experience. That makes me think; whether it makes you think is entirely up to you.

            I make no assumptions about a concept I believe is meaningless.

            I’m a theological noncognitivist.

            But the DA in me is using generally asserted attributes that Christians hold YahwehJesus to hold.

            [citation needed]

            Nope. It is a postulation.

            Yet you’d [you would] have no issues in seeing the same flaws in the scriptures of other faiths and using them as a cosh to bludgeon those religions.

            So you are saying you wouldn’t in a discussion with another opposing religionist? Cool.

          • IA: The unsolved problems in physics are holes.

            LB: Sounds “Two Clouds” speech-esque to me—we have it pretty much all figured out folks, just mop-up work left!

            IA: And the beauty of that example is, that it was science that demonstrated Kelvin’s error. So the “we have it pretty much all figured out folks, just mop-up work left!” is disingenuous and not up to date thinking.Everything in science is provisional.

            And yet, your use of “holes” seems strongly suggestive of “just mop-up work left”—especially when one adds “gaps”. In fact, there could easily be a massive amount of reality we don’t understand at all. If that’s true, and yet we still respect science, then perhaps we should allow religion to explain some things while not [yet] explaining a massive amount.

            This is a Dara O’Briain moment…”Science knows it doesn’t know everything, otherwise it would stop.”

            Some goes for theology. I see no reason for further canon-level material; just like atheists can start with a rather small presuppositional base (larger than (1) there is an external reality and (2) my senses are sufficiently reliable, but not huge), I think religionists can do the same. There is much to explore, such as how one could have “evidence” which can distinguish God from Satan. Or why we are so unwilling to face self-righteousness and explore its dynamics (aside from being self-righteous, of course).

            LB: Well the people who were most willing to stick with the religion but ditch the “problematic texts” are the ones who went on to commit genocide, and against the Jews no less.

            IA: That’s a lie. The German people in Nazi Germany were 94% Christian…54% Protestant…50% Catholic. Nice try though.

            Did you miss the underlined? Or have you never heard of Friedrich Schleiermacher? How about the Confessing Church?

            That’s what plays out in the Jesus story in the Matt’s gospel. Barabbas, meaning “Son of the Father”, is freed. The scapegoat. Jesus is the Lords goat, another “Son of the Father”, who gets sacrificed.

            Hey cool, thanks for that! But it seems that our current meaning of ‘scapegoat’ can be traced to both goats—depending on whether the goat is killed or banished to the wilderness. The key aspect to the modern understanding of ‘scapegoat’ seems to be that sins are placed on it / attributed to it, which it did not commit. These sins are hereby removed from those doing the placing/​attributing.

            I’m not big on the nonsense that is vicarious redemption. It’d a repugnant concept.

            I’m not sure you can characterize Girard as promoting vicarious redemption. At best, he would say we had to actually scapegoat in order to understand we were scapegoating. And the final scapegoat, which would reveal scapegoating [humans] for the evil it is, had to be perfect—otherwise one could find some small defect and justify the scapegoating by blowing that out of proportion or otherwise adding to it.

            LB: All religions other than Judaism and Christianity served to legitimate the scapegoating mechanism, not unveil it for what it is. To want to remove the “problematic” passages is to remove the passages which attest to human terribleness. Those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it. With slightly differently flavors, of course.

            IA: So what? What has any of this got to do with anything? The issue isn’t about removing problematic passages, it’s about them not being addressed at all, avoided by “cherry-picking” out the easy passages. If they are not being taught then they are as good as being removed. Christians don’t get their biblical knowledge from reading it.

            The very problem is that those who remove those passages—literally or by ignoring them—are doomed to commit the very evil that taking the passages seriously would help prevent. To remove the passages (either way) is to blind oneself to the potential for extreme terribleness within human nature.

            Again, this isn’t about what should be, but what about is.

            In that case, perhaps I should just agree that Christians shouldn’t be omitting the nasty bits in the Bible. But it’s ridiculous to criticize the Bible based on people who only half-accept it, and it’s ridiculous to criticize sections in the Bible without including actual empirical correlates of those sections.

            When I relay the nasty stories in the bible to the Christians around me irl, they recoil in horror and refuse to believe such stuff is in there.

            Reminds me of how awesome Europeans thought humans were/​could be, in the years leading up to 1914. We just love flattering ourselves, and anything which would cast that into doubt becomes evil.

            It’s just a pity there isn’t more like ya…there’d likely be a whole lot less Christians about.

            No, I think one Luke Breuer is aplenty. Some would argue that zero would be better; based on actuarial tables they’ll probably have to wait a while.

            I make no assumptions about a concept I believe is meaningless.

            I doubt that it is actually meaningless to you; were that so, then you could substitute the term ‘halfbrugund’ and have the sentence mean precisely the same thing.

            It is a postulation.

            It’s a prediction and predictions are either wild or an extrapolation based on evidence.

            So you are saying you wouldn’t in a discussion with another opposing religionist?

            I would try to hold the other side to the standards they profess to hold. The theory behind that strategy can be found in Charles Taylor’s 1989 essay Explanation and Practical Reason.

      • Raging Bee

        I’m describing what I’ve observed. And I’ve given that lot plenty of room to prove me wrong, and they haven’t taken me up on it.

        • I see, so you can point to me attempting to bully you into supporting my tribe and its worldview? But perhaps you would not say that I am an “evangelist”? Atheists seem pretty split on whether they think I’m that. Perhaps “evangelist”“trying to bully others into supporting their tribe and their worldview”? I’m wondering if I could possibly—in the sense of logical possibility—tell someone about Jesus but not “bully”. There is a lot of bullying going on, from all sides.

          • Raging Bee

            Ah yes, both-siderism to the rescue. Except it doesn’t work, since only one side are threatening eternal punishment in Hell for their opponents; and only one side are claiming to speak for an all-powerful superbeing whose word overrides all facts, reason, understanding and even basic and indispensable rules of right and wrong.

          • So … would you say that one side avails itself of a “bug” in human psychology while the other stays pure and refuses to engage in realpolitik? Another option is that the other side is still stuck in plenty of delusion; see my excerpt of The Elephant in the Brain. Maybe if atheists truly had a better understanding of psychology (which they could, by applying science rigorously), they’d have an advantage?

          • Raging Bee

            So … would you say that one side avails itself of a “bug” in human psychology while the other stays pure and refuses to engage in realpolitik?

            You tell me…DID I say anything like that? Or are you just blatantly misrepresenting what others say, like too many other Christian evangelists have been doing for as long as I can remember?

          • Erm, I wasn’t trying to be accusatory. The question is how the threat of Hell gains a psychological foothold. I see two options: either a faculty of the human brain is being misused, or there’s a bug, or it’s vestigial. Plenty of Enlightenment philosophes thought that the masses needed a kind of ‘religion’; you could see this as a belief that one must satisfy the buggy part with something innocuous.

          • Ignorant Amos

            Or are you just blatantly misrepresenting what others say,…

            I can vouch for that. Though LB will deny the blatantly bit.

          • I honestly want to know why “threatening eternal punishment in Hell” is something which would create imbalance between the sides; my guess was that this is due to “a “bug” in human psychology”. The atheist would surely laugh derisively at threats of Hell and say this weakens the other side. However on the whole, apparently @disqus_qeyoCzlAiV:disqus believes that the religious do more “bully others into supporting their tribe and their worldview”. I’m just trying to make sense of the Bee’s words a bit more systematically. I welcome alternatives, as anyone who has long discussed with me knows.

          • Raging Bee

            Yes, it’s a “bug” in human psychology — one which religious con-artists exploit to their own advantage, instead of working to correct it for the benefit of the people.

          • Ignorant Amos

            I honestly want to know why “threatening eternal punishment in Hell” is something which would create imbalance between the sides; my guess was that this is due to “a “bug” in human psychology”.

            What is the threat you perceive from the atheist side? Do you find lots of atheists pitching up on theists sites, or trudging door-to-door in order to preach this perceived threat? Is there anything remotely like a “repent or perish” sermon on the atheist side?

            The atheist would surely laugh derisively at threats of Hell and say this weakens the other side.

            Indeed. But that doesn’t prevent the theist threaten anyway. But the bigger problem is the using of this threat of guilt and fear to coerce the young already infected to not stray.

            However on the whole, apparently Raging Bee believes that the religious do more “bully others into supporting their tribe and their worldview”.

            Not only others, but those that are already infected with their particular variety of god virus. Not only was there the threat of eternal damnation, but there was the physical risk to the person in real time.

            Classical canon law viewed apostasy as distinct from heresy and schism. Apostasy a fide, defined as total repudiation of the Christian faith, was considered as different from a theological standpoint from heresy, but subject to the same penalty of death by fire by decretist jurists. The influential 13th century theologian Hostiensis recognized three types of apostasy. The first was conversion to another faith, which was considered traitorous and could bring confiscation of property or even the death penalty. The second and third, which was punishable by expulsion from home and imprisonment, consisted of breaking major commandments and breaking the vows of religious orders, respectively.

            You do know that death for apostasy isn’t a Muslim invention, right? It is biblical.

            I’m just trying to make sense of the Bee’s words a bit more systematically.

            You can’t. Because you blinded by your version of the god virus. Not until you recognise the bias influence, you are stuck with it.

            This is why the OTfF is so appropriate. Do you consider the threats made by the Islamic faith reasonable or rational? What about those Scientologists?

            If you think both sides are on some kind of equal footing, you are adding to the problem.

            https://www.salon.com/2012/07/14/religions_biggest_threats/

            I welcome alternatives, as anyone who has long discussed with me knows.

            Alternatives to what?

            Religions are already fudging the issue and trying to play down the threats from within. No longer is the eternity in Hell described as the graphical Hell a la Dante. Catholics are now trying to play it down as excommunication from God. Now that is laughable from an atheist perspective, so one has to wonder who it is aimed at. That’ll be those already infected, which isn’t much of a consolation if one is a genuine believer.

            https://i.pinimg.com/originals/79/38/79/7938794d7af8905684942f3f7b87bdd3.png

          • What is the threat you perceive from the atheist side?

            Claiming to value ‘evidence’ and ‘science’ and then only doing so selectively. The amount of denial—mostly implicit—I’ve seen of Descartes’ Error alone is extraordinary. (28,000 ‘citations’) It’s historically understandable, but only those who uncritically accept tradition should make that sort of error.

            Do you find lots of atheists pitching up on theists sites, or trudging door-to-door in order to preach this perceived threat? Is there anything remotely like a “repent or perish” sermon on the atheist side?

            They don’t have enough political power in the US to cause much damage. If Christians in America continue on their present course, I see a good chance of that changing, of people becoming more and more willing to vote for an openly atheistic president. The danger will take a different form from Christians: it will be pretended that social order can be predicated [almost entirely] upon facts alone. Stating a fact will mean you are in favor of the fact, which is somewhat already the case. That will make scientific inquiry harder than it is now, when it comes to politically charged issues. Non-individualistic values will be expunged per the propaganda, but they will be everywhere present with no words to properly characterize them for what they are. (I intend this to have virtually no relation with how most Christians in America use the term ‘values’. I’m talking about the domination of Rationalität over Wertrationalität.) That’s a ballsy prediction, but I think I can stand by it.

            But the bigger problem is the using of this threat of guilt and fear to coerce the young already infected to not stray.

            But something similar (of massive less current intensity due to current balance of political power) happens when atheists blow up fear over religion—like via the conflict thesis, disbelieved by scholars but believed by 70% of 18–23-year-olds in the US. Where do atheists cite peer-reviewed scientific studies showing exactly which religion causes the damage they say it causes—and causes it, vs. just being correlated with it? I can’t recall a single study being presented on this topic. If it isn’t standard for atheists to cite such peer-reviewed evidence, what am I to make of their stated values of ‘evidence’ and ‘science’? Atheists would be just as guilty of trying to provoke action without evidence as religionists.

            Not only was there the threat of eternal damnation, but there was the physical risk to the person in real time.

            That’s what always happens to politically relevant, non-dominant viewpoints (if not ethnic groups) in society. Where atheism is dominant, religion can be plenty threatened—just look at China. I know people who were at physical risk there because they practiced a Christianity which was not State-Approved. History is littered with examples of revolutions where the suppressed class became dominant, telling a good story while taking on the same roles and same political dynamics. We could choose not to repeat such history, but I see little self-awareness that this is such danger, on the part of the “righteous”. Being “righteous” is enough you see—the righteous don’t need science or evidence or any of that nonsense.

            You do know that death for apostasy isn’t a Muslim invention, right? It is biblical.

            You’ll have to cite specific passages; I’m aware of stuff like Deut 12:32–13:5, which you and I have wrangled over before. To curtail repetition, here’s what you wrote:

            IA: His complete misrepresentation of Deuteronomy 13 was a bit of a curve ball and for the sake of the lurkers I felt obliged to pull him on an obvious error. Then the rip tide got hold of me and dragged me under ffs.

            I say that the passage indicates that miracle-power is not to be considered evidence for or against YHWH. What was important was that nobody be permitted to draw them away from their chosen form of life, which included things like kings not being permitted to amass wealth or political alliances or military might, “that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers”. (Deut 17:14–20—yes, I know King David violated it) But apparently this is just an atrocious thing for Israel to want, and it couldn’t possibly be that the god a society worshiped back then was deeply intertwined with political and social realities—unlike the liberal West.

            Because you blinded by your version of the god virus.

            What should someone do when presented with a claim not supported by sufficient evidence? (Feel free to go by your definition of ‘sufficient’, not what you guess mine might be.)

            This is why the OTfF is so appropriate.

            I’ve already responded to your comment on the OTfF.

            Do you consider the threats made by the Islamic faith reasonable or rational? What about those Scientologists?

            If you think both sides are on some kind of equal footing, you are adding to the problem.

            That’s a weird question. The West has tried to impose Westernization on the Middle East in many ways. The Middle East generally doesn’t want it. (We can always ask who precisely doesn’t want it.) Pankaj Mishra argues in Age of Anger: A History of the Present that a good deal of terrorism is supported by Western-educated men in the Middle East who do not have the kind of opportunities you and I have; I’m inclined to believe him. (see also his 2016-12-08 article in The Guardian, Welcome to the age of anger) You have well-demonstrated the tendency to make value-statements with fact-language: the Middle East’s rejection of our values is characterized as “unreasonable” and “irrational”. This is of course part of the privilege of power: you get to define what counts as “rational”.

            The sides are not on equal footing if you measure by respect for scientific knowledge. They are on equal footing if you measure by humans trying to conform the world to a particular imagined reality. I think Francis Fukuyama’s 1989 essay The End of History? is a decent rendition of the liberal West’s “imagined reality”. I find it piss-poor and I think humans since have shown that they won’t accept it. Have you ever wondered why it’s important for social media to censor “terrorist” propaganda? Maybe we have little compelling to offer as an alternative to a significant swath of Americans if not Westerners. While evolution teaches that humans are inherently social beings, the dominant mode of thinking is hyper-individualistic, especially in America. We are ripe for the ideological picking.

            Religions The powerful are already always fudging the issue and trying to play down the threats from within.

            FTFY [Edit: Well ok Stalin is a counter-example, same with Kim Jong-un. I’m not including at least one of the ideal types. I’ll choose to be lazy this round.]

          • Ignorant Amos

            Claiming to value ‘evidence’ and ‘science’ and then only doing so selectively. The amount of denial—mostly implicit—I’ve seen of Descartes’ Error alone is extraordinary. (28,000 ‘citations’) It’s historically understandable, but only those who uncritically accept tradition should make that sort of error.

            Yeah, but what is the threat you perceive from the atheist side?

            They don’t have enough political power in the US to cause much damage…

            So where atheism is the prevalent position…

            Do you find lots of atheists pitching up on theists sites, or trudging door-to-door in order to preach this perceived threat? Is there anything remotely like a “repent or perish” sermon on the atheist side?

            But something similar (of massive less current intensity due to current balance of political power) happens when atheists blow up fear over religion—like via the conflict thesis, disbelieved by scholars but believed by 70% of 18–23-year-olds in the US.

            Disbelieved by some scholars.

            But hey, Christians are not pushing anti-science bunkum in the U.S. and elsewhere, are they now? A mean, they are not hell bent on getting creationism into the classroom. The RCC isn’t teaching that condom use doesn’t protect from HIV, because that would be anti-scientific and would support conflict thesis.

            There is no conflict between science and religion here in Northern Ireland where those in the top echelons of government are YEC’s who promote creationism in museums and at…

            https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/national-trust-in-giants-causeway-creationism-row-7917687.html

            …no conflict of science and religion there, no siree. //s

            You believe there is nothing anti-scientific about vast swathes of the Islamic world?

            Where do atheists cite peer-reviewed scientific studies showing exactly which religion causes the damage they say it causes—and causes it, vs. just being correlated with it?

            You do know that atheism is the answer to one question and one question only, right?

            Tell me. Who are the leading purveyors of climate change deniers?

            https://scholar.google.co.uk/scholar?q=climate+change+denial+and+christianity&hl=en&as_sdt=0&as_vis=1&oi=scholart

            I can’t recall a single study being presented on this topic. If it isn’t standard for atheists to cite such peer-reviewed evidence, what am I to make of their stated values of ‘evidence’ and ‘science’? Atheists would be just as guilty of trying to provoke action without evidence as religionists.

            Whaaa? It’s not my problem if you can recall whatever evidence you are expecting atheists to cite.

            Nothing that comment addresses my claim…nothing.

            “But the bigger problem is the using of this threat of guilt and fear to coerce the young already infected to not stray.”

            Try and stay focused…you are rabbit holing.

            You’ll have to cite specific passages; I’m aware of stuff like Deut 12:32–13:5, which you and I have wrangled over before. To curtail repetition, here’s what you wrote:

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

            Also let us look at Deuteronomy 17:3-5 “And he should go and worship other gods and bow down to them or to the sun or the moon or all the army of the heavens, …..and you must stone such one with stones and such one must die.”

          • Ignorant Amos
          • Ignorant Amos

            What should someone do when presented with a claim not supported by sufficient evidence? (Feel free to go by your definition of ‘sufficient’, not what you guess mine might be.)

            Sufficient, as in the amount, or sufficient, as in the quality to convince?

            See, this is how the god virus works. And why the OTfF is necessary. What one believer sees as sufficient for his own beliefs, a believer in a different religion doesn’t.

            What is this “sufficient” evidence that has you convinced you are following the correct path, what method do you use to justify your confidence in said evidence, that is different from those of the host of religions you reject and the evidence they see as sufficient to justify their confidence that they are on the correct path? Could they be right and you wrong? How would you know?

            That’s a weird question.

            What’s weird about it? And you spilled lot’s of ink not answering it. The question is in the context of the imaginary eternal damnation in Hell threats made by Christians.

            So, do you consider the threats made by the Islamic faith reasonable or rational? What about those Scientologists?

            It’s not that atheists are threatened by such nonsense, it’s that Christians believe the threat is genuine, so they should be just as afraid as they are at the prospect.

            Muslims believe infidels and evildoers will end up in Jahannam. Do you consider those threats reasonable or rational?

            Scientologists believe a whole different kettle of fish, but all amounts to the same process…fear and guilt.

            Scientology shares the goal of spiritual salvation that exists in many faiths such as Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism and Hinduism. While the terms in which salvation is to be accomplished differ in Scientology, the spiritual goal of saving the soul is a commonality shared with many faiths.

            You don’t take such threats seriously, but never the less, they are sinister all the same. To those making them. And to those that believe them.

            FTFY

            Nah…that too, but my original comment stands.

            Too much “whataboutery”.

            “Look, over there, squirrels”

          • IA: Because you blinded by your version of the god virus.

            LB: What should someone do when presented with a claim not supported by sufficient evidence? (Feel free to go by your definition of ‘sufficient’, not what you guess mine might be.)

            IA: Sufficient, as in the amount, or sufficient, as in the quality to convince?

            It was another way of challenging you to fulfill the burden of proof. But I don’t want you to fulfill it according to what you think I require; your very assumption is that I have unreasonable requirements. An assumption that I’m not sure has itself been supported by the burden of proof, but once again, you have presupposed that I am unreliable. And so instead this is [apparently] a show we put on for others. I’d rather it not be just that, but I don’t know how to change things other than merely capitulate.

            And why the OTfF is necessary. What one believer sees as sufficient for his own beliefs, a believer in a different religion doesn’t.

            This happens all the time in science whether within a given school of thought or outside. But somehow, that is irrelevant to the OTfF; the OTfF gets to be selectively applied. I see no rationale for this.

            What is this “sufficient” evidence that has you convinced you are following the correct path, what method do you use to justify your confidence in said evidence, that is different from those of the host of religions you reject and the evidence they see as sufficient to justify their confidence that they are on the correct path? Could they be right and you wrong? How would you know?

            I have never written up anything like what would constitute “sufficient”; on this page I wrote about our willfull self-blindness and added the bit about façades, but that is only a start. But on that example, it’d be easy for some scientist to correct the models of human psychology and social dynamics presented in the Bible—if in fact what’s in the Bible is as terrible as atheists keep telling me. (Yes there are some gems, but surely science has a better understanding of self-righteousness than the Bible.)

            If you want more than that, please provide what you consider “sufficient evidence” of your claim about me being blinded. You shouldn’t need an iota of extra evidence from me to support it and you should be able to account for any and all [apparently—so you’ll argue] contradictory evidence.

            What’s weird about it?

            You seem to be mixing facts and values in a way prohibited by my best guess at how you understand them.

            So, do you consider the threats made by the Islamic faith reasonable or rational? What about those Scientologists?

            I find the pure religious/​psychological dimension uninteresting at this point in time. Perhaps some day I will read up on Yuval Harari’s ‘imagined reality’ and then find them more interesting. I can imagine that they hook into human psychology in some really interesting ways that make it hard to apply a monolithic “irrational” or “unreasonable” to them. After all, apparently we’re wired with some primitive notions of justice and punishment.

            Scientologists believe a whole different kettle of fish, but all amounts to the same process…fear and guilt.

            In that case, I know that plenty in the secular world are operating in a world of intense fear with regard to what is acceptable to teach in schools dominated by an ideology closer to the Left than the Right. I see that as necessary if one wishes to impose some way of doing things with neither grace nor mercy. And ultimately, I believe the only way to drive out fear is via exposing self-righteousness for what it is. As best I understand, only the scapegoat mechanism unveiled for what it is, has the power to do that. So in lieu of this stuff, “fear and guilt” seem like the only empirical options. (That is subtly different from calling them ‘rational’ or ‘reasonable’.)

            Perhaps you think that I’m motivated in any way by a fear of Christian-Hell?

            Too much “whataboutery”.

            If we restrict the context to a Christianity-dominated country (so the US, but not France), then I agree to the technical definition of ‘whataboutery’. But then I might just restrict the discussion accordingly, because you don’t really know the character of a group of people unless you’ve seen them behave as top dogs. The French Revolution should be enough evidence for anyone about what can happen to those who worship at the altar of Rationality.

          • Ignorant Amos

            It was another way of challenging you to fulfill the burden of proof.

            What burden of proof do you assert I have to fulfill?

            This happens all the time in science whether within a given school of thought or outside.

            Yes, it is called being skeptical.

            Can you provide an example of this happening in science? How does the contest between two hypotheses in science get resolved? What is the method used?

            But somehow, that is irrelevant to the OTfF; the OTfF gets to be selectively applied. I see no rationale for this.

            No. First, it’s a false equivalence. Religious Faith, by its very nature relies on its adherents confidence in weak evidence.

            Skepticism in science gets tested all the time, it just doesn’t get called the OTfF when dealing with science, but the same principles apply. It’s called the scientific method.

            What was it that made you revise your own position on Young Earth Creationism?

            How would you go about showing a geocentricist, or Flat-earther that they are wrong?

            The big debate at the moment is AGW. There are scientist that believe it isn’t the problem. Their beliefs are being challenged.

            If you want more than that, please provide what you consider “sufficient evidence” of your claim about me being blinded. You shouldn’t need an iota of extra evidence from me to support it and you should be able to account for any and all [apparently—so you’ll argue] contradictory evidence.

            Apply the same to all those religions you don’t currently accept.

            The death for apostates thing is an example. You’ve got yourself convinced that it has some exegetical meaning other than the plain one.

            10 And you shall stone him with stones until he dies, because he sought to entice you away from the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.

            But what say ye about the penalty for adultery?

            If any man take a wife, and go in unto her, … and say, / I took this woman, and when I came to her, I found her not a maid. / … But if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel: / Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die. (Deut. 22:13-21).

            You seem to be mixing facts and values in a way prohibited by my best guess at how you understand them.

            No…you are doing another Luke Breuerism. My question was pretty clear given the context of the conversation. I then went on to explaining it in detail. It has fuck all to do with real life physical threats to the other. It is an imaginary threat based on ones Christian beliefs vis a vis the same in all other religions that use fear and guilt to control.

            So, do you consider the threats made by the Islamic faith reasonable or rational? What about those Scientologists?

            I find the pure religious/​psychological dimension uninteresting at this point in time.

            Of course ya do Luke, because by answering the question honestly, you’d have to admit something ya don’t want to admit. But the context of the conversation with Raging Bee, that’s exactly what the threat of an eternity of damnation in Hell is, pure religious/psychological. What do you think he is talking about otherwise? There is no more reason to believe there is a Christian Hell, than there is an Islamic Jahannam…or any other religious psychological imaginary instrument of fear.

            Perhaps some day I will read up on Yuval Harari’s ‘imagined reality’ and then find them more interesting. I can imagine that they hook into human psychology in some really interesting ways that make it hard to apply a monolithic “irrational” or “unreasonable” to them.

            Depending on whose beliefs being addressed. Or even “rational” or “reasonable” by the same metric.

            This demonstrates your problem with the OTfF and a severe lack of honesty. Which goes to the crux of the matter.

            After all, apparently we’re wired with some primitive notions of justice and punishment.

            Indeed. Guilt and fear. Which is what the God Virus exploits when it infects.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XPN3UlxCXH4

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pi_z0EJYSyo

            In that case, I know that plenty in the secular world are operating in a world of intense fear with regard to what is acceptable to teach in schools dominated by an ideology closer to the Left than the Right. I see that as necessary if one wishes to impose some way of doing things with neither grace nor mercy. And ultimately, I believe the only way to drive out fear is via exposing self-righteousness for what it is. As best I understand, only the scapegoat mechanism unveiled for what it is, has the power to do that. So in lieu of this stuff, “fear and guilt” seem like the only empirical options. (That is subtly different from calling them ‘rational’ or ‘reasonable’.)

            You are talking about different things. Christianity uses a number of mechanisms to install irrational and unreasonable fear and guilt. Other religions do the same thing in different ways. The fear and guilt are manufactured in the imagination. Thought crimes for example. Coveting ones neighbors ass. Doing it is sinning. Those guilty of sin will go to Hell. Hell is a place to be feared. So don’t covet the neighbors ass or you’ll go to Hell for eternity, is the threat of punishment for what is merely a mundane thought crime which the individual has no control over. But the hook is, even though you’re guilty of a sin you have no control over, you’re in the right religion because it can be sorted and Hell can be avoided. It is nether rational nor reasonable on any level of critical thinking. Nevertheless…it works.

            The point is, it also works for those other religions too. But that’s just silly, is it not?

            Perhaps you think that I’m motivated in any way by a fear of Christian-Hell?

            Motivated to do what?

            Anyway. Not necessarily. Lot’s of Christians are, especially at the early stages of infection. The threat of the devil and hell were big motivators growing up where I lived.

            Later, and more mature, Christians learn to fear other things. Not going to Heaven is one. I think you fear sinning for whatever repercussions you believe is in store for said sinning. It isn’t relevant to this discussion.

            If we restrict the context to a Christianity-dominated country (so the US, but not France), then I agree to the technical definition of ‘whataboutery’. But then I might just restrict the discussion accordingly, because you don’t really know the character of a group of people unless you’ve seen them behave as top dogs. The French Revolution should be enough evidence for anyone about what can happen to those who worship at the altar of Rationality.

            But the conversation is about Christians using the threat of Hell, against their own members, but also the outsiders. Why it isn’t rational nor reasonable. And why Christians don’t take the same threats when made by other religions when made against their own, but also outsiders.

            Raging Bee’s comment…

            Ah yes, both-siderism to the rescue. Except it doesn’t work, since only one side are threatening eternal punishment in Hell for their opponents; and only one side are claiming to speak for an all-powerful superbeing whose word overrides all facts, reason, understanding and even basic and indispensable rules of right and wrong.

            If the other side was any other religion other than Christianity, the same would apply. Imaginary threats are just that. But when asked if the Hell-like threats of all those other not Christian sides are reasonable and rational, you start going off on one. Because you know they are not. So the art of obfuscation is employed. It’s what ya do. You just can’t see the problem we see with the Christian threat of Hell vis a vis all religious threats. Because you can’t take the OTfF honestly.

    • Sample1

      Often left unsaid but commonly present is the belief for the theist that a seemingly reasonable rebuttal from the atheist, one that might make them pause, is some kind of trick of a demon or jinn if chatting with Muslims. Remember, they tell each other, Satan too knows the Bible front and back, or some such rationalization.

      That mindset is usually impregnable (though somehow I escaped it) and when it’s uncovered, seems such a waste of time unless it helps lurkers.

      Mike, excommunicated summa cum laude.

      • Is the situation materially different when the roles are switched?

        • Raging Bee

          Yes, it is, because we don’t have a Devil to blame when someone says something we’re not ready for.

          • No, but you have “irrationality” and “emotionality” and “wishful thinking” and WP: List of cognitive biases. And you have Dawkins and Shermer speaking highly of a book which contains this:

            There is perhaps no greater contribution one could make to contain and perhaps even cure faith than removing the exemption that prohibits classifying religious delusions as mental illness. The removal of religious exemptions from the DSM would enable academicians and clinicians to bring considerable resources to bear on the problem of treating faith, as well as on the ethical issues surrounding faith-based interventions. In the long term, once these treatments and this body of research is refined, results could then be used to inform public health policies designed to contain and ultimately eradicate faith. (A Manual for Creating Atheists, KL 3551–55)

            In case it’s not clear, that’s a scientific version of exorcism. The secular realm has it all. Different labels but that’s just par for the human course.

          • Raging Bee

            First, Calling me “biased” doesn’t refute any specific thing I’ve said; and it doesn’t really help much for someone to say “Yabbut you’re biased too!” after his own arguments have been shown to be demonstrably wrong. I don’t have to deny my side’s bias to see the other side’s bullshit.

            Second, Dawkins and Shermer are two of the most embarrassingly lame “thought leaders” the atheist movement has. They’re not exactly representative of the rest of us.

            And third, while I don’t consider “faith” itself to be a mental illness, it’s quite obvious that religious/magical/superstitious thought-patterns can easily mask, excuse, and even exacerbate many of the irrational thought-patterns that are indicative of mental illness; i.e., paranoia, delusions, belief in imaginary friends, hearing voices in one’s head, refusal/inability to deal with reality, etc. That passage you quoted isn’t quite as dead wrong as you seem to think it is.

          • First, Calling me “biased” doesn’t refute any specific thing I’ve said

            Erm, I wasn’t saying you’re biased. (But we all are.) I was drawing this comparison:

            S1: is some kind of trick of a demon or jinn if chatting with Muslims … Satan too knows the Bible front and back, or some such rationalization

            vs.

            LB: “irrationality” and “emotionality” and “wishful thinking” and WP: List of cognitive biases … [and “mental illness” which can be forcibly treated]

            Each side has ways of dismissing the Other, of saying that the Other is not following the way of thinking humans must, if he/she/they are to live well in reality and not threaten the tribe.

            Second, Dawkins and Shermer are two of the most embarrassingly lame “thought leaders” the atheist movement has. They’re not exactly representative of the rest of us.

            Glad to hear it! So maybe we can remove the parallel to exorcism—fortunately Christians are doing a lot less of that kind of exorcism as well these days.

            That passage you quoted isn’t quite as dead wrong as you seem to think it is.

            I made no value judgment. I don’t think all exorcism is bad, because I think there are a lot of thinking patterns which can appear to have a “life of their own”, and that it can be useful to disassociate them with the person’s identity and attack them. I’ve done this myself with a recent PhD who had been academically abused; a long-time faculty member thinks I shaved months off of his recovery time by defeating lies he was tempted to believe. I hope we can learn to do such things more and more scientifically, and I have no reason to think religion cannot turn pathological and need such careful, systematic understanding and treatment. How exactly the compulsion can work within a political philosophy of liberalism is open for question; I sense some changes afoot with our weak-ass cultural response to acts of terror.

          • Raging Bee

            Each side has ways of dismissing the Other, of saying that the Other is not following the way of thinking humans must, if he/she/they are to live well in reality and not threaten the tribe.

            That does not make both sides’ opinions equally (in)valid, nor does it mean one side can’t show the other to be clearly wrong and irrational.

          • Correct. I was pushing back against your “we don’t have a Devil to blame”. You do; your Devil merely has other names. And maybe the religious people aren’t as crazy when they say ‘Devil’; maybe they can be well-modeled as meaning ideas which threaten their culture, their way of life.

          • Raging Bee

            Your comment is just plain false. Our biases are not at all like the devils you imagine.

          • Are you all of a sudden an expert on what I imagine? I sense more “‘some’ ⇒ ‘all’ reasoning”. The most I’ve done with thinking about ‘devils’ or ‘unclean spirits’ is in terms of resilient thought-forms which punish people in various ways but resist the first several lines of attack. I wouldn’t be surprised if such thought-forms end up cutting biochemical/​neural ruts in the brain. I have dislodged some of them in others to wonderful effect; plenty I suspect are so entrenched that psychopharmacological artillery is easily the way to minimize suffering.

            If cultures past successfully dealt with such “resilient thought-forms” in more mystical ways and yet obtained some empirical success, I would respect that while pushing for better, suggesting that we do not fear “scientific revolutions”. For a concrete example of religious reasoning producing mundane empirical benefit, there is a culture somewhere (I can find the paper if you want) which allocated water to various farms through a religious ceremony. IIRC “water rights” were a very contentious issue (hello, California), and so the culture figured out a way to manage them which kept the peace. I think the result was even halfway intelligent by modern Western standards, but I would have to check the paper to be sure.

            Finally, if there is some sort of “supernatural power” going on which can bust up those thought-forms better than drugs and talk, only dogmatic bigots would reject it. But until I see such power at play, I need not believe or disbelieve in it. (Some apparently need to disbelieve in as many things as they can; I am not one of them.)

          • Ignorant Amos

            “The Relativity of Being Wrong” springs to mind.

            https://chem.tufts.edu/answersinscience/relativityofwrong.htm

        • Sample1

          Raging Bee has my answer. But I’d also add something to think about. I was already an atheist when I came across this hypothetical so I’m not sure how my former self would have replied. In steps you.

          If all the world’s accumulated information was wiped (think Men in Black) and human culture began anew, does this seem highly plausible? That throughout the twists and turns of a history refreshed, would Christianity rediscover the same tenets, manuals and explanations for existence as they have them today?

          Would you accord today’s hard-vary-explanations via the empirical disciplines the same level of plausibility?

          Mike, excommunicated
          Edit done.

          • Correct me if I’m wrong, but what I see here is a prejudice toward timeless, universal Platonic Forms over against the contingent creations of whatever agents participated in creating them. But in fact, most people see the laws of physics as instrumentally useful, not of ultimate value. It is curious to me to see ‘truth’ and ‘value’ on such opposite sides of the spectrum; it’s almost like Jonah fleeing Nineveh and God. The animus against creatio ex nihilo is ancient; neither Plato and Aristotle could tolerate it. Aristotle writes that “All change is by its nature an undoing. It is in time that all is engendered and destroyed…. One can see that time itself is the cause of destruction rather than of generation…. For change itself is an undoing; it is indeed only by accident a cause of generation and existence.” (Physics IV, 222 b., quoted on A Study of Hebrew Thought, 25)

            I myself think that the contingent, what humans create with their hands, is important and should be accorded truth-value. One of the ways that the Bible shows such respect is that YHWH almost always respects the integrity of creation, rather than using omnipotence like so many of us would. Was it important for Jesus to correct Ptolemaic astronomy? I think not; I’m with Bertrand Russell: too much science and technology before morality and ethics develop appropriately merely leads to tyranny. Russell: “Magna Carta would have never been won if John had possessed artillery.” (The Impact of Science on Society, 19) Think now of machine learning models trained on all the information an individual publishes, used to determine how one could alter his/her vote, perhaps by subtly changing his/her news feed under the guise of “personalized results”.

            So if there were different humans, I’m sure the Bible would reflect their differences. There would still be common themes, such as self-righteousness being the second-most powerful force in reality. Even this is apparently hard to see in the OT: “Unlike every other known instance of Jewish apocalyptic eschatology, the version held by Jesus and much of the early church viewed the hostile forces they struggled against as composed entirely of spiritual beings—not fellow human beings.[30]” (Understanding Spiritual Warfare: Four Views, 10) Or take one of the most noble characters in Babylon 5, Delenn. In the aptly named two-parter “War Without End”, she characterizes evil as located in persons. I was very disappointed. Sadly, she apparently needs to spend some time in the gulag which straightened out Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. The Bible would still contrast a world of grace and mercy with one where everyone always gets what they deserve.

            Does that answer your question? I also left some scattered comments over at SN‘s Stephen Colbert vs. Ricky Gervais: The Late Show Atheism Debate, which dealt with the same issue. I find it quite the interesting question.

          • Sample1

            Correct me if I’m wrong, but what I see here is a prejudice toward timeless, universal Platonic Forms over against the contingent creations of whatever agents participated in creating them.

            Definitely one way to approach the hypothetical, sure.

            But in fact, most people see the laws of physics as instrumentally useful, not of ultimate value.

            Yes, I understand this claim too.

            It is curious to me to see ‘truth’ and ‘value’ on such opposite sides of the spectrum; it’s almost like Jonah fleeing Nineveh and God.

            This might be a step too far for me to concede for I don’t see a naked metaphor here. That’s to say, I think we should do better at studying reality by presenting behavior without the baggage of myths. Myths may or may not help with personalizing the questions but that doesn’t mean the myths take on any fundamental existence. Map, territory carefulness is needed.

            The animus against creatio ex nihilo is ancient; neither Plato and Aristotle could tolerate it. Aristotle writes that “All change is by its nature an undoing. It is in time that all is engendered and destroyed….

            We’ve no good reason to think Aristotle’s conception of nothing is even remotely accurate and plenty of good reasons to say he was misguided. Explaining the concept of nothing is almost a self-refuting process. At some point of removing yet another aspect of something (particles, fields) to get to so-called nothing, we will need to remove even our own thoughts, ending the whole experiment before we get closer to whatever nothing might be. We are philosophically stuck. What we are forced, on the other hand, through science, is to get to a state of comparative simplicity, a quantum vacuum or neutral state of zero energy, which is either almost nothing or everything depending on how one chooses to look at it.

            It is in time that all is engendered and destroyed…. One can see that time itself is the cause of destruction rather than of generation…. For change itself is an undoing; it is indeed only by accident a cause of generation and existence.” (Physics IV, 222 b., quoted on A Study of Hebrew Thought, 25)

            Time isn’t fully understood by science. Is it fundamental, an illusion, emergent. Nobody knows. Instead we employ it in a utilitarian fashion when it’s convenient to do so.

            I myself think that the contingent, what humans create with there hands, is important and should be accorded truth-value.

            That’s fine, mostly no problem for me either except according it a “truth-value” is perhaps the danger, imo, you are ironically trying to avoid. I side with Miłosz on this when he wrote:

            When someone is honestly 55% right, that’s very good and there’s no use wrangling. And if someone is 60% right, it’s wonderful, it’s great luck, and let him thank God. But what’s to be said about 75% right? Wise people say this is suspicious. Well, and what about 100% right? Whoever say he’s 100% right is a fanatic, a thug, and the worst kind of rascal.

            Science is the 60% here and faith is the 100%. But I do think that when you mention the contingent being important, you’re saying something meaningful and relatively uncontroversial. So with you there.

            One of the ways that the Bible shows such respect is that YHWH almost always respects the integrity of creation, rather than using omnipotence as many of us would.

            Or, what you’re describing is, at rock bottom, YHWH respects YHWH. A tautological deepity at best where best means ridiculous, imho. The rest of that paragraph and the next ventures away from simply considering the hypothetical into cynicism which, you’re free to make your own hypothetical about.

            Does that answer your question?

            Sure. It’s here that I need to clarify. I wasn’t looking so much for an answer but was rather asking for contemplation “something to think about” is how I began. The questions were essentially rhetorical. I do thank you for giving your take on where that contemplation led, for you.

            I find it quite the interesting question.

            Thank you.

            Mike, excommunicated is a fancy word for…

            Edit done.

          • In that case, I have a matter you are welcome to treat as rhetorical or not:

            LB: In the more Rorschach sense also yes: people’s interpretation of the Bible reveals much about them. It’s almost as if a big point of revelation is to reveal. I can give you Bible verses on this but I doubt that’d be beneficial. Suffice it to say that people are very good at hiding and being self-righteous; piercing the façades is not always easy. But there is an inherent problem with any tool which lets you pierce façades: the enemy can use the tool to learn how to build better façades. And so you get an arms race and if you cherry-pick from that, you can blame the tool for all the problems, not recognizing that you might be using the tool to see the problems as problems.

            Feel free to comment on the creating and piercing of façades. That “100%” Miłosz talks about sounds to me like it could be a façade.

          • Sample1

            Thanks for the offer. I’d start with this:

            In the more Rorschach sense also yes: people’s interpretation of the Bible reveals much about them. It’s almost as if a big point of revelation is to reveal

            How is this not a begging the question fallacy?

            Mike, excommunicated

          • Do you disagree with “people’s interpretation of the Bible reveals much about them”? I thought that would be taken for granted by you. My next sentence, “It’s almost as if a big point of revelation is to reveal.”, was meant to have an explicit double-meaning. AFAIK it is generally understood as revealing God’s will as interpreted by a priestly caste for the people to unquestioningly obey, but it can also be understood as revealing the nature of the priestly caste.

          • Sample1

            I’m pretty sure I follow what you’re objecting to with Ignorant Amos (who is unfortunately banned here).

            I’d need good evidence of a God from you to take your claims/ideas seriously. That’s what I meant by begging the question. If I believed as you do, perhaps I’d start by praying to God to reveal what only He knows would convince me of His existence.

            Have you tried that?

            Mike, excommunicated

          • I’d need good evidence of a God from you to take your claims/ideas seriously. That’s what I meant by begging the question. If I believed as you do, perhaps I’d start by praying to God to reveal what only He knows would convince me of His existence.

            I’m not sure why God must exist for my Rorschach interpretation to make sense. If you make a huge deal of “as if a big point of”, note that “as if” can be understood technically according to Dennett’s intentional stance.

            Have you tried that?

            Yes, with my first comment. No bites. My abilities are greatly diminished when I have nobody with whom to dialogue; if it’s fair to call Hiro from the show Heroes a “parasite” when he had the superpower which only functions to enhance other superpowers, then I too am pretty much a “parasite”. It’s obnoxious, but I think I’ve mostly come to peace with it.

            … Ignorant Amos (who is unfortunately banned here).

            Banned on Rational Doubt? Since his last comment here, two hours ago?

          • Sample1

            My mistake, I must have lazily thought this discussion was on SN where many (most?) atheists were banned, like Ignorant Amos.

            If you are only claiming “revealing God’s will” in an anthropological, naturalistic sense (not claiming God actually has a will and exists) then no problems.

            Mike, excommunicated

          • Ok. Is that all you have to say about the paragraph I quoted? I would say you got tripped upon a minor detail and have therefore not addressed the main point (essentially: anti-hypocrisy measures enable better hypocrisy by force of logic).

  • … the need for hard cold evidence for all of these supernatural entities.

    Evidence such as the following from philosophy faculty @disqus_s4ylzQ9exo:disqus over at Secular Outpost:

    KP: The existence of God could be confirmed at any time in many different ways. If the image of the Eagle Nebula taken by the Hubble Space Telescope had come with beautiful cursive writing saying “I, Yahweh, did this” then–ruling out a practical joke–that would do it. God could appear in all his Michaelangeloid glory and assure us that he does indeed exist. Something like the contest at Mt. Carmel between Elihah and the priests of Baal would also do it.

    ? Because that only shows you power. For all we know, the agent could be Loki, or Shadows. In my many hours talking to atheists about “evidence”, I haven’t found one which has permitted evidence of goodness. But if that is correct, then “evidence” cannot distinguish between God and Satan. Is it that “goodness” is only in the eye of the beholder? Or could it possibly be because we employ Cheeseburger ethics and are thus so unstable in the domain of personhood that we’re like randomly changing software which is supposed to help us assemble an image of a black hole? Well, of course black holes can’t be seen!

    BTW, I’m not calling for some return to Roman Catholic Christendom; at best that’d be like saying we should go back to Ptolemaic physics (which did a wonderful job of “saving the appearances”† for quite some time). I wager I have more and deeper criticisms of Christians than most. But I see extreme dangers in tying “evidence” to power; indeed I think that is a tool of power.

    † From Keith Parsons:

        For Ptolemy, the aim of astronomical theory was to provide a geometrical model of the heavens that would “save the appearances.” An astronomical model “saves the appearances” when its geometrical representation of the heavenly bodies accurately predicts their positions and movements. (It Started with Copernicus: Vital Questions about Science, chapter one)

  • Cynthia

    Shouldn’t we start with asking what is the purpose of a debate or discussion between a believer and atheist?

    I have lots of religious discussions with friends and colleagues of different faiths. These tend to focus on explaining to each other a bit about what we do and why we do it. The purpose is education, learning more about people around us and gaining knowledge that will help us understand them and respond appropriately to their needs. I’m part of a minority religion myself, and I’m also in an extremely multicultural, multifaith environment where Christianity is not the automatic default.

    It sounds like these debates, though, might be about something else – trying to convince someone else that their own system of beliefs/values is wrong and that yours is right. Some people genuinely enjoy these sort of debates, and if that’s the case, go for it. If not, the premise is fundamentally obnoxious. I’m not sure that these rules can really get around that. At some point, you need to clarify that you are both wanting to participate in a debate. Assuming that both parties are willing, there should be some understanding of whether either party is genuinely looking to explore their beliefs or change their mind, or if this is simply about badgering someone until you declare that you have “won”. [I love debating various things and I find religious discussions interesting….but I’m not really open to debating my beliefs and my refusal won’t be polite if someone tries to push it.]

    Along the same lines – that part about understanding that the other person means well and just wants to save your soul or save the world? No. Just no. Hell no. The fact that someone may think that they actions are justified in their own head means NOTHING in terms of the moral impact of their actions, and deserves absolutely no deference. None. I actually read it as “I might be particularly dangerous because I truly believe that my agenda is so correct and necessary that I’m willing to completely ignore your POV and might even be motivated to try to eradicate your beliefs and culture, and in extreme cases may even think that my beliefs are more important than your life”.

  • Cynthia

    ETA – deleted double post.