How Fundamentalists Promote Atheism

How Fundamentalists Promote Atheism July 11, 2014

The image below is a composite of a Christian response to the Ken Ham/Bill Nye debate, plus the scientific explanation of sunsets. It is frustrating that there are people who consider themselves Christians and yet seem to be making every effort to promote atheism. Why on Earth would anyone feel the need to choose between belief in God and belief that science can help us understand sunsets? Contrast this with John Farrell's recent piece for Forbes about medieval Christians who pioneered the quest to understand natural causes. Modern American fundamentalism is so far removed from historic Christianity, and yet it has duped many into believing the opposite, that it is its sole faithful representative.

See also Jonny Scaramanga's recent interview on how his Christian education caused him to lose his faith.

 

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  • Considering the dedicated Christians in history who were also scientists, the attempted disconnect between faith and science mystifies me..

    • HappyCat

      I like to bring up the fact that the big bang theory was coined by a Jesuit priest/scientist. The high school I graduated from was run by Jesuits and taught me much of what I know about social justice and critical thinking.

      • Irrelevant, really. Religion and science still don’t go together.

        • ioannes

          Because random atheist troll says so!

          • First off, a “troll” is someone who doesn’t mean what they say. Please stop looking so stupid. I don’t know how “random” applies, either. And no, they definitely don’t go together, since science cares about the truth, and religion only cares about beliefs. Can you show otherwise? No, of course not son.

          • Neko

            First off, a “troll” is someone who doesn’t mean what they say.

            What? That is not what a troll is. A troll is an internet provocateur, often bombastic, belligerent, and/or benighted, whose objective is to disrupt and upset. Trolls may well mean what they say, unless they are mercenaries paid to disseminate propaganda.

          • One of the key elements of being a troll is NOT meaning what you say. You then say something to create a reaction, to disrupt, etc. Both of those factors must be in play for said person to be a “troll”. Otherwise, you could label ANYONE a troll for disagreeing with something.

            If they mean what they say, then they are simply having a conversation which disagrees with you.

            Look it up.

          • george magnuson

            Sound like you are well acquainted with being a troll!

          • I’m just well educated.

          • Neko

            You look it up, “son.”

          • I did! That’s how I know I’m right and you’re full of shit! 🙂

          • Neko

            LOL! What kind of ratty source did you use?

          • arcseconds

            What an amusingly churlish fellow you are.

            Some points for your consideration:

            1) ‘troll’ is a slang term, so there’s no standards body like L’Académie française with authority over the definition. It’s how ever people use it.

            2) there is a significant usage of ‘troll’ meaning ‘abusive person on the internet’. If some definition fails to capture that, the problem is with the definition, not with the person using the term.

            3) I’ve never heard anyone use ‘troll’ in a way that emphasizes not meaning what you say. And I’ve never seen a definition that highlights this. So it’s you that has the odd definition. Provoking an emotional reaction is considered necessary by some, but see (2) above.

            4) So despite (1), I did look it up, and I found:

            Internet slang, a troll (/ˈtroʊl/, /ˈtrɒl/) is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people,[1] by posting inflammatory,[2] extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog) with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response[3] or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.[4]

            Wikipedia

            1. One who posts a deliberately provocative message to a newsgroup or message board with the intention of causing maximum disruption and argument

            2. One who purposely and deliberately (that purpose usually being self-amusement) starts an argument in a manner which attacks others on a forum without in any way listening to the arguments proposed by his or her peers.

            Urban Dictionary

            Trolling is an Internet slang term used to describe any Internet user behavior that is meant to intentionally anger or frustrate someone else

            Know Your Meme

            There’s no mention of ‘not meaning what you say’ as a necessary element in any of those definitions. Looking it up proves you’re wrong.

            I suppose there is a question as to whether you’re being rude and insulting deliberately, in order to provoke an emotional reaction. There’s a simple test for this.

            a) We find it annoying and insulting to be insulted, will you please stop?

            b) Do you have some kind of compulsive mental disorder which means you can’t help but be rude?

            c) Is there some other useful purpose that’s served by insulting us?

            If the answer to all of these questions is ‘no’, you’re doing it deliberately, with no other objective other than to amuse yourself by annoying us.

            Which means you’re a troll.

            Also, perhaps you don’t understand this, but there’s a difference between ‘disagreeing with someone’ and ‘insulting someone’. Let me demonstrate:

            a) I don’t agree with your characterisation of ‘troll’, TedTheAthiest. See above.

            b) You snotty-faced heap of parrot droppings TedTheAtheist. Your kind really make me puke. You’re so stupid you don’t know what ‘troll’ means, and hilariously when we do as you say and ‘look it up’, it only shows you possess ignorance, arrogance, and hypocrisy in abundance! A truly unfortunate and disagreeable combination, for an unfortunate and disagreeable person.

            (a) is disgreement, but isn’t abuse.

            (b) is disagreement, and is also abuse.

            Reasonable people can manage to do (a) most of the time.

            Capisce?

          • You said: “c) Is there some other useful purpose that’s served by insulting us? If the answer to all of these questions is ‘no’, you’re doing it deliberately, with no other objective other than to amuse yourself by annoying us.

            Which means you’re a troll. ”

            ^^ As I said, if you don’t mean what you say, and you’re saying something to create an emotional response of some kind, then yes, you’re a troll.

            But as the above states, which is what I’ve been saying.. you have to NOT mean it. It has to NOT fit into what is being discussed.

            I meant what I said. It fell into what was being discussed.. so thus, no troll.

            I quote:
            “troll
            One who posts a deliberately provocative message to a newsgroup or message board with the intention of causing maximum disruption and argument”

            Thus, a troll is not someone who just causes an emotional response. It has to be with intent and without meaning what you’re saying.
            Thanks!

          • arcseconds

            Er, no, sorry, you’re just making up the fact that anyone other than you thinks you have to not mean what you say.

            Is this some kind of sophistry, where you understand perfectly well what is written, but choose to insist it says something else?

            Because if not… you seriously need some help with your reading comprehension, because you’re reading in things that simply aren’t there.

            Let’s say I think you’re an idiot. Let’s say I want to disrupt proceedings and annoy you. So I call you an idiot.

            By the definition you quoted, I am a troll, even though it’s completely true I think you’re an idiot, and I meant it quite sincerely when I called you an idiot.

            Not meaning what you say has nothing to do with it.

            Now, it’s certainly a viable definition of ‘troll’ that they have to intend to disrupt things.

            Are you suggesting that your insults are quite unintentional? That when you said “please stop looking so stupid” that you had no control over your fingers at that point in time, kind of like a typed form of tourettes?

            Or maybe your insults are actually an important tool for communication, and not just aimed at annoying us. Could you enlighten us to what you are hoping to communicate with your insults?

            Because at the moment, it seems likely that they are quite intentional, and the only object they serve is to annoy us.

            You now know they do annoy us, and they don’t serve the conversation, so if you continue being insulting, and do actually have control over your actions, then it’s difficult to avoid the conclusion that you’re being deliberately insulting in order to disrupt and annoy us.

            I suppose there’s another option, and that’s that you simply have no idea why you act as you do. If that’s so, I would suggest some self-reflection might be in order.

            Thanks!

            no charge!

          • You apparently can’t understand what’s in front of you. Again, I’ll quote another source: “The definition of TROLL is “A deliberately provocative message board user””

            If you’re deliberately being provocative, that means you’re not meaning what you’re saying. You’re not there to actually hold a conversation that you’re interested in – instead, you’re there for other means. This is quite obvious and it’s common sense. Thus, a troll is someone who doesn’t mean what they say – what they mean is to cause an emotional response of some kind.

            You said: “Let’s say I think you’re an idiot. Let’s say I want to disrupt proceedings and annoy you. So I call you an idiot.”

            ^^ That isn’t being a troll. Just because someone uses an insult, doesn’t mean they are a troll. If they really meant that the person is an idiot, and expressed that, then they are just someone who’s giving an insult, whether it’s a descriptive word or really an insult.
            Otherwise, using your logic, anyone who calls anyone anything is a “troll”, and that’s just ridiculous.

            Think before you post.

          • James Walker

            minor quibble but being provocative means using words and tone designed to provoke an emotional response (usually negative in the context of trolling) which is not at all the same as “not meaning what you’re saying”. nor does it imply the “troll” has no skin in the game.

            I think perhaps you’ve confused provocative with provocateur.

          • arcseconds

            What utter rubbish. You can be deliberately provocative by telling the truth, exactly as my example shows. The only thing that matters is the intent. If the intent is to provoke (you do know what that means, right? Maybe you had better look it up), then you’re being deliberately procative.

            You can provoke someone by, say, slapping them in the face. Do you think that if I slap you in the face to provoke you, I’m not sincerely slapping you in the face? That it’s somehow a pretend slap? What if I murder someone to provoke a clan war — is that a pretend murder, that I didn’t really mean?

            You’re not doing yourself any favours, you realise. You go tell us to ‘look it up’, and the definitions don’t support your claim. Now you’re engaged in some desperate rear-guard action, trying to claim words mean different things than what they actually mean.

            As far as calling you a troll goes, well, yes, calling someone a troll could be itself trolling. Again, by the definition you’ve accepted what would matter is the intent. If you’re doing it to be disruptive and insulting, then it’s trolling.

            However, there are good, non-trolling reasons for calling someone a troll. One is to draw attention to other people, that the person isn’t actually here for a serious discussion.

            Another is to chastise or dismiss the person engaged in trolling, in the hope (usually unfortunately a vain one) that they will stop their trolling and start behaving better.

            Personally, I don’t think I’d want to hang my hat on intent. You can be disruptive and provocative and insulting and generally a hindrance to sensible discussion and have other intentions, I suppose, but if it’s pointed out to you that you are being disruptive etc. and you don’t modify your behaviour, it certainly seems pretty clear that you don’t really care about having a sensible discussion: you’re quite happy with your disruptive ways.

            And at the moment, you’re still being insulting, even though I’ve told you we don’t like it and we don’t regard it as conducive to serious discussion. And you haven’t explained why you are doing this. If you have some kind of an aim here other than just being disruptive and unpleasant, I’d like to know about it. If it’s good enough, I might even agree that you aren’t a troll.

            Perhaps you don’t even know why you’re doing it?

          • Korou

            I’d be interested in hearing more from Ted about why religion and science don’t go together.

      • Joe Cogan

        I was taught evolution and a 4+ billion year old Earth as scientific facts in Catholic High School. The priests and brothers who served as teachers would have been flabbergasted at the idea that Genesis was intended as either science or real history.

      • TexasStargazer

        That is a myth that keeps getting repeated. The term “Big Bang” was coined by the English astronomer Fred Hoyle in 1949 during a BBC radio broadcast.
        Maybe you’re thinking about the Belgian priest Monseigneur Georges Lemaitre. In 1927 he came up with the concept of an expanding universe (defined by Einsteins equations) that later (1949) was called The Big Bang by Fred Hoyle.
        Regardless, the fact that he was a priest is irrelevant. He went to a University and studied science, it was science – not be a priest – that gave him the ability to put forth the idea of an expanding universe.
        And for the record, Fred Hoyle was an Atheist – which is just as irrelevant – because Atheism had nothing to do with Fred Hoyle’s accomplishments either.

        • James Chris Anders

          So you’re agreeing with HappyCat that a priest coined the theory, and that belief in religion doesn’t necessarily prevent one from being a scientist, or are you disagreeing?

          • TexasStargazer

            HappyCat did not state “belief in religion doesn’t necessarily prevent one from being a scientist”, but if she thinks that, I would agree with her on that point. Which is obvious since we have scientist that are religious so I don’t see the point in stating the obvious.

            As for the other point – You do not coin a theory, you coin a name, word, or expression. As I stated, HappyCat is wrong if she is stating that a priest coined the name “The Big Bang”. As I stated, the name was coined by Fred Hoyle – an atheist. The theory itself was first purposed by a priest, two very different things. If HappyCat meant to say a priest purposed what was to eventually be called The Big Bang theory, then I agree, but that’s not what was stated.

      • Anonymous

        Although IIRC it was coined that disparagingly but became popular anyway.

    • Jehovah

      I don’t want to put words in your mouth, but are you saying because some Christians are scientists, there is a connection between religion and science?

      • James Walker

        many of the first people we credit with “doing science” were religious and viewed their exploration of natural phenomena and natural causes as a sacred obligation. so, yes, there is a connection of a sort.

        • Christopher R Weiss

          Methodologically and in terms of results, there is no connection between religion or science. A believer does not use those beliefs when doing science.

          • James Walker

            but there is no particular firewall between the two, either. and that’s the point allegro63 is trying to make. it isn’t necessary for one to abandon religion in order to do science properly any more than it’s necessary to abandon science to do religion properly.

          • Christopher R Weiss

            There is a firewall… you cannot commingle religious beliefs with scientific methods. The two areas of thought are disjoint and orthogonal. You cannot use religion to study science. So… yes, you must put religion on the shelf as soon as you start an experiment. Religion can inform ethics, etc., but not the science itself.

          • James Walker

            I disagree with your conclusion because I accept wholeheartedly your assertion here: “The two areas of thought are disjoint and orthogonal”.

            My religion has nothing whatsoever to say about the state of the natural world. Therefore it is not necessary for me to set my beliefs “on the shelf” before I can set out to perform a scientific experiment.

          • Guest

            That is exactly what we are saying, there is no connection between a believer and science. The Bible is unable to add to any scientific discourse.

          • James Walker

            which has nothing to do with the OP and nothing to do with allegro63’s comment.

          • Christopher R Weiss

            You are quibbling around the edges. Science and religion do not mix. I think you actually agree with this, so I don’t understand your point.

          • Neko

            The not-understanding appears to be willful.

          • Christopher R Weiss

            No… it is not willful. James is waffling between science and religion are separate to they are complementary. They are completely separate, meaning they are not even complementary. What we see is the scope of religion shrinking over time as science expands.

          • James Walker

            no, I’m not. I’m saying they are two distinct domains of thought that do not necessarily overlap and are not necessarily contradictory. a single individual can participate fully in both domains of thought without conflict.

            the meme presented in the OP demonstrates a common point of view held by fundamentalist and/or evangelical religious folks which is that there are natural phenomena one cannot explain without reference to God. obviously, that position cannot be defended rationally and the meme in the OP shows the natural explanation for the natural phenomenon.

            what is less clear is the answer to Dr. McGrath’s question in the OP:

            Why on Earth would anyone feel the need to choose between belief in God and belief that science can help us understand sunsets?

            what allegro63 is trying to point out is that this question cuts both ways. why would someone feel the need to choose between a belief that science provides an understanding of natural phenomena and a belief in God? why do some people seem to insist that it’s impossible to “do science” and to “do religion” at the same time? where’s the motivation for attempting to disconnect the two in that way, to take a view that the two realms of thought are obligated to oppose one another when, in fact, many of the earliest scientists were religious folks who began the process of developing “natural philosophy” BECAUSE their religious beliefs motivated them to learn more about the natural world.

          • Christopher R Weiss

            I won’t repeat previous comments, but atheism is the trend in science today, and no one is being forced. The more elite the scientist, the more likely this person is to be an atheist. This idea that today’s scientists are driven by religion is a false comparison, and previous scientists could not have become atheists in most societies without becoming pariahs. To claim that previous scientists were driven be religion to explore science is simply irrelevant to science.

            The majority of what we know scientifically has been accumulated in the last 150 years. This is the force multiplier effect of technology. Computers and Moore’s law epitomize this effect. In the last 150 years, science has rightfully made the full press for methodological materialism, in which religious beliefs have meaning to scientists but play no role in scientific exploration.

            To do science, religion plays no role. If you can point to a result where religion influenced the result, I will apologize.

          • James Walker

            if there’s an argument there that’s actually related to anything I said or allegro63 said, I’ve missed it. sorry if I seem obtuse, but I’m not seeing how anything you’ve said here challenges or disagrees with any points I made in the previous comments.

            ETA: if this is what you’re driving at:

            This idea that today’s scientists are driven by religion is a false comparison

            neither I nor allegro63 are trying to make that point and neither is the OP.

          • Christopher R Weiss

            I was responding to your statement:

            ” many of the earliest scientists were religious folks who began the process of developing “natural philosophy” BECAUSE their religious beliefs motivated them to learn more about the natural world.”

            You have also said:

            “a single individual can participate fully in both domains of thought without conflict.”

            You are certainly giving mixed signals. I have pointed out:

            1. The majority of our scientific knowledge has been accumulated the last 150 years long after we had “natural philosophers.”

            2. Today, scientists tend to be atheists because they cannot reconcile the claims of religion with what they know through science.

            3. The trends to be showing a growing incompatibility with science and religion with an ever shrinking domain for religion.

          • James Walker

            I think your conflict with what I’ve been saying comes from my comment much earlier in the thread where I said there is a connection “of a sort” between science and religion. perhaps I should clarify that the connection I’m pointing out is more historical than anything. it’s certainly not a connection driven by any innate joining of the domains of thought involved in science and religion, which I maintain are distinct and possibly not overlapping at all.

            it could be argued that the discipline of science arose from an earlier religious impulse to study the natural world in order to reveal “God’s design”. again, that’s an historical argument (following the path of how we got from where we were to where we are now) and not one based on how the two realms of knowledge are related to one another.

            ETA: we’re stuck with the ambiguities of the English language as we’ve found in my conversation with Randy Wanat over my use of “non-rational” vs. the term “irrational”. there’s also the fact that of the disciplines involved in science, the two I’m most qualified and capable of speaking from, History of Science and Philosophy of Science, are probably the most “touchy feely” of them all. I am an engineer by profession and, as such, must use scientific methodology and reasoning in my work on a day-to-day basis. I am not, however, a scientist so I do not always use terminology with (ahem) scientific precision.

          • James Walker

            what I disagree with is the premise many fundamentalist religious folks seem to adopt, which is that people following “true religion” are somehow obligated to reject science and the corollary position that many atheists seem to adopt, which is that anyone approaching the world from a rational, scientific approach is somehow obligated to reject religion.

          • Jehovah

            So it is a pointless statement then. Similar, I have found there no firewall between being a golfer and having a strong love for birdwatching.

          • James Walker

            except that very few people (if any) would claim that your love of golf renders you unfit to setup a blind to photograph pheasants, whereas there are plenty of people who would claim holding religious beliefs renders one unfit to practice science and vice versa.

            ETA: err.. it would have been nice if you had mentioned (by use of an “ETA”) that you were changing your comment to read “golf” rather than the bit about the Seahawks.

            2nd ETA: modified my comment to reflect KDC’s change to his/her comment.

          • Jehovah

            About the edit, sorry 🙂

            Anyway, you make a good point I agree with. Having a belief in the supernatural doesn’t necessary make you unable to get your science on, so long as you don’t apply any of those beliefs in your work (eg: creation myth).

            The reason for my orgininal comment was allegro63 (seemed to me) alluded that religious beliefs can inform the scientific community in a meaningful way, which it can not.

        • Why are atheists over-represented in science?

          • James Walker

            I find it quite likely they were drawn to both (non-theism and science) by a pursuit of rationality as one of the highest goods in their personal hierarchy of goods.

          • I agree that this is quite probable.

          • Tara Hockensmith

            I’m an atheist, and I, at least, think it probably has to do with always questioning everything, and always wanting a logical explanation for things (as James said, a “pursuit of rationality”). Which is certainly not to say that those two concepts don’t apply to religious followers, because they do. I just mean that atheists are drawn to science for the same reason that they were drawn to atheism: they want the cold, hard facts, the reality. I can’t speak for all atheists, but I know I definitely prefer the cold, hard facts, the reality, over the unknown. I would think there’s a similar parallel between religious types and philosophy.

          • arcseconds

            Most academic philosophers (at least in the anglophone world) are atheists, and broadly speaking philosophers are motivated by much the same kind of interests as scientists are.

          • Randy Wanat

            Because rational skepticism and critical thinking skills are prerequisites, perhaps.

      • This is exactly what I was thinking. I hope they don’t really think that, but we certainly can’t put it past them.

    • Christopher R Weiss

      Yes, and at the time if you were not a christian, you would not receive patronage or be able to operate in most societies. Look at what the Catholic church did to Galileo.

      If you were to look at modern winners of the Nobel prize in science, you will see a substantial and growing list of atheists. It is also true today that scientists in general have the highest rate of atheism of any other group, and this rate goes up the more elite scientists become.

      You are correct that people can be christians and do good science, but this is a simple correlation. It is like saying that people with red hair can do good science as well. It is irrelevant. It is only when people try to commingle science and religion that we get in trouble.

    • You do realize that those two things have nothing to do with each other, right?

      • James Walker

        and that’s precisely the point. the idea that one can be a believer OR be a scientist, but cannot be both at the same time is just as much an abuse as so-called “Creation Science” which seeks to merge both. there is no requirement that the two realms of thought intersect so there is no reason a particular individual cannot be both a dedicated theist and a dedicated scientist unless their specific religious beliefs introduce a conflict.

        • Randy Wanat

          The issue you’re not realizing is that you’re conflating “religion” with “religious people.” Cue Godwin: there were Nazis who also were scientists. Is there a connection between Nazism and science? There were Nazis who were Christians. Is there a connection between Nazism and Christianity? The answer to both is no, because the one does not inform the other. One’s religious affiliation is wholly separate from the practice of science, just like one’s occupation as a scientist is wholly separate from one’s religious beliefs. Is there a connection between everything Christians do and Christianity? No, it’s an absurd notion. The practice of religion and the practice of science are entirely separate disciplines, even though Christians and scientists can and do overlap. To summarize: Christians and science overlap; Christianity and scientists overlap; Christianity and science do not overlap. Do not conflate “Christians” and “Christianity.” They are the same just like baseball and baseball players are the same. Hopefully you grok what I’m saying.

          • James Walker

            the meme in the OP and the commentary Dr. McGrath made about it come from experience with fundamentalist Christians who DO try to conjoin religion with science and the equally fundamentalist non-theists who seem to be trying to forcibly disconnect the two. that latter was what allegro63 was driving her comment toward.

            I don’t think you, she and I are actually arguing against each other’s positions here.

          • James Chris Anders

            I think you’re conflating “conflate” with “differentiate”. They are NOT the same.

  • This is really neat James!

    I have repeated over and over again that militant atheism is the legitimate fruit of fundamentalism:

    http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com/2014/01/20/the-link-between-religious-fundamentalism-and-militant-atheism/

    It is the binary thinking: “Either God is a genocidal sadistic torturer (following our interpretation of the Bible) or there is no God at all” which put many people off.

    Progressive Christians really need to change this sad state of affairs.

    • Scott P.

      What is militant about atheism?

      • James Walker

        there are some folks out there who make it their mission to brow beat any Christians they meet on the internet (not sure if they take the same tack in person) over our “delusions”, our “invisible, imaginary friend”, our “inability to use reason”, etc. conversation with them becomes impossible.

        • Herro

          So supposedly “brow beating” Christians makes you “militant”?

          • James Walker

            yes. in the same way that “brow beating” people who have stereotypical “neanderthal” male dominance attitudes makes one a “militant” feminist and “brow beating” people who have stereotypical anti-gay southern hetero-normative attitudes makes one a “militant” “gay crusading” liberal.

            “brow beating”, as opposed to conversing and having civil dialogue over opposing views, is indicative of militancy.

          • Randy Wanat

            Are “brow-beating” and “constructive criticism” the same thing?

          • James Walker

            nope. not even close. unless the constructive criticism continues beyond the “constructive” point. then, you know.. 😉

        • David Evans

          How many of them have knocked on your door hoping to convert you, the way Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses have knocked on mine?

          • James Walker

            in virtual space, many have, David. as I mentioned in my comment, I’m not sure whether these people do the same things in personal, face-to-face encounters.

            I’ve had many people professing to be atheist in their beliefs attempt to convert me or, at least, attempt to convince me that my beliefs (which are NOT your typical, run-of-the-mill evangelical fundamentalist Christian beliefs, mind you) are somehow harmful to me, to them, to the world at large.

          • Herro

            I see, so they’re “militant atheists” in the same sense that James McGrath is a “militant anti-creationist”?

          • James Walker

            I wanted to disagree with you because it sounds almost like a snub against Dr. McGrath but… upon reflection… he does sort of venture out tilting at the great windmill that is Ken Ham so…

            yeah it’s kind of similar

          • What about ALL progressive believers who are never going to do such a thing?

            Why are we deserving insults, mockery and bullying?

            Guilty by association?

            Anti-theists have a bigoted mindset and they use pretty much the same BINARY way of thinking as religious fundies.

        • And you think that it’s wrong to ridicule fallacious beliefs?

          • fargo

            Ridicule? Yes. That makes you a blatant asshole with little to contribute to society beyond narcissism and arrogance. To discuss ideas, especially in a respectful manner, and try to understand other viewpoints? No.

          • If some dipshit told me he still believes Elvis is still alive, or that Tinkerbell exists, I’d do the same thing. I will not discriminate between fallacious beliefs.
            Actually, I’m contributing A *LOT* to society by ridiculing fallacious beliefs. It’s POSITIVE to all of society to correct people when they have conclusions which are false and can produce bad decisions/actions from people.
            Not everyone is going to speak like you want them to, and not everyone SHOULD, because everyone is different.

            That’s reality – deal with it.

          • If someone tells me that Elvis is still alive, I would see no reason to bully him or her.

          • I would ridicule their beliefs, not “bully them”, you idiot.

          • Diana

            Ridiculing anyone shows a distinct lack of class and does not help your case at all.

          • Yes, it *DOES* help “my case”…. just because YOU don’t think it does, doesn’t mean it doesn’t. Try again.. or not.

          • HOW OLD ARE YOU? 😉

          • WRONG! Ridiculing their BELIEFS, not *them*. Get it straight! And it’s necessary when people go around with the WRONG ANSWERS… and are willfully ignorant. What else would you have us do? It needs to be done.

          • Neko

            You certainly have the drill down.

            Were you not aware that practically everybody on the planet knows this playbook by now? So I fail to see where your contribution comes in.

          • What are you referring to?

          • Neko

            I think beau_quilter may be right, in which case I congratulate you on your Poe-posts; they fooled me.

          • I’m not sure what you’re referring to.

          • Neko

            I was referring to what beau_quilter wrote:

            I begin to wonder if TedTheAtheist is someone disguising himself as an atheist to make atheists look bad.

          • I can’t make atheists look bad. Again, if someone wants to generalize people, that’s their problem – not mine.

          • Neko

            The irony!

          • Explain?

          • Neko

            I will leave you to ponder that since I have another sort of game to watch.

            Good day.

          • There is nothing to ponder. You didn’t make sense. There was no “irony”.

          • Randy Wanat

            How stupid and/or harmful need an idea be to warrant mockery, or, at the very least, to not warrant respect? ETA: Ideas don’t deserve respect; people do. Ideas don’t have feelings, and if you can’t handle your ideas being anything less than admired, get a helmet, because it ain’t all sunshine and skittles out there.

          • Korou

            I have to disagree. If a belief is fallacious, then it can and should be ridiculed.
            There is a place for engaging absurd beliefs with respect, tolerance and trying to understand them. There is also a place for pointing at them and laughing. Doing so can sometimes be a good thing.
            So no, Ted isn’t a blatantly narcissistic asshole.

          • Diana

            It shows a lack of class.

          • I’d rather have what you refer to as a “lack of class” than a lack of understanding of the world/English language.

          • James Walker

            so, let me come back up to the top of this thread to respond to this. I think it’s wrong to presume someone else’s beliefs are fallacious and then to ridicule those beliefs without first attempting to learn what they believe and why. the discussion should reveal whether the person has any kind of informed understanding of them and on what basis they are holding to them.

          • Ok, let’s look at exactly what you said: “I think it’s wrong to presume someone else’s beliefs are fallacious and then to ridicule those beliefs without first attempting to learn what they believe and why.”

            ^^ Why would you ridicule beliefs someone has if you didn’t know what they are? That doesn’t make sense, does it? If someone is ridiculing someone’s beliefs, it’s BECAUSE they know what they are.

            And what does “why” have to do with anything? We already know that there is no evidence behind theistic claims, so why would we need to know the “why”, if the “why” isn’t going to make the belief reasonable?

          • James Walker

            because “why” may help you to understand how their worldview differs from yours and whether they are going to be persuaded by the same kind of rational arguments you find persuasive or not.

          • I ask that question, too. I probably don’t do things how you wish I would..but like I said, not everyone is the same.

          • Randy Wanat

            Actually, this is commonly done. “Atheists don’t believe in ANYTHING! How can they be so dumb?” Strawman mockery is what you’re describing, and it’s a real thing that happens. Why? Because people are more comfortable believing what their in-group tells them than seeking out the truth from the out-group, because it would humanize the outsiders and possibly entice them to the outsider’s position, or just reveal flaws with the insider’s position.

        • Tara Hockensmith

          James: This sort of behavior in my fellow atheists ALWAYS annoys me. Why is it so important to “have the last word” in an argument? Why can’t people just accept that other people are going to have a different opinion on things, and leave it at that.

    • Randy Wanat

      So, you’d ignore the Bible’s stories about genocide, murder, infanticide, slavery, and all the other charming things God is described as doing, commanding, or condoning? Is the Bible an accurate description of the things God did, said, wants, and condones?

  • I also interviewed Jonny Scaramanga about his leaving fundamentalism:
    http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com/2014/02/19/leaving-fundamentalism-an-interview-with-jonny-scaramanga/

    I largely prefer to interact with a nice atheist than with a religious fundie.

    The problem is that many former fundies have become belligerent and bullying atheists.

    • HappyCat

      The term for that is anti-theist. It’s not so much a belief in non-exsitance as a hatred for others who believe in God.I tend to shy away from talking to them as they are often rude and loud.

      • It’s not “hatred for others”, it’s hatred for the fucking belief. It’s to be against theism because they KNOW that it’s bad for people and society in general. Anti-theism is positive and it means to educate people on the evils of fallacious beliefs.

        • What is YOUR evidence that progressive religions are harmful for society?
          Please show me peer-review studies.

          • Any theist-based religion is harmful to the individual as well as society because of common sense – believing in lies instead of the truth is bad for all of us. It causes us to make bad decisions on policy and our actions.

            That’s pretty much all one needs. We could go on, but that’s really it.
            Welcome.

          • James Walker

            leaving aside the over-general claim that “Any theist-based religion is harmful”, you’re drawing an equation between “belief in a deity” and “believing in lies” that I think presumes special knowledge on your part.

          • No special knowledge needed at all. Do you think Peter Pan and Tinkerbell are not real? Well then, now you know how I see your god. And yes, I explained how theist-based religion is bad for all of us.. that’s not in question anymore.

          • James Walker

            your belief that no god exists does not force my belief in God to be a belief in a lie. it makes my belief something that you don’t share and that doesn’t fit in your worldview. the existence of God is a non-falsifiable proposition. I can’t prove God exists any more than you can prove no deity exists. you can surely point out that lack of evidence makes belief in deity a non-rational proposition but not all of us would agree with you that non-rational propositions are inherently bad or harmful.

          • I don’t necessarily have a “belief that no god exists”, anymore than I have a “belief that no Tooth Fairy exists”. Atheism is about the lack of belief in a god. I might say “there is no god”, but it does not require special knowledge, just like “There is no Santa Claus” doesn’t require such, either.

            I didn’t say my lack of belief or what not “forces” your irrational belief to be a “lie”. Your belief is a lie just because it lacks scientific evidence. Please pay attention. You have nothing to show that you’re correct.. that’s your problem. Stop thinking that you didn’t have a problem until people like me came around. You already did.

            I don’t have to disprove a negative – I’m the skeptic. I can’t, anyways. But since you said you can’t prove your god exists, then you admit you posit an irrational belief. You just told the world that you have NO good reason to believe in a god… thus, you shouldn’t be believing in it. In order to be logically consistent, you should be an atheist… you said so yourself when you said you can’t show your god is real.

            You don’t have to agree that fallacious beliefs like theism are bad, but we see all throughout present day and past that it *IS* bad for all of us.. so you would just be denying reality.

          • James Walker

            you’ve missed my point. it isn’t your non-theism that I feel begs special knowledge. it’s your claim that theistic belief is de facto belief in a lie. there are multiple ways to evaluate truth or falsity and not all of them are empirical.

            you’re also presuming that rationality and empirical evidence are the highest goods. that’s fine for you, but not everyone has the same hierarchy of what is good that you do.

          • I didn’t miss any point.
            Theistic belief is irrational because it’s void of scientific evidence in support. You NEED evidence… otherwise you just have an empty claim.

            I didn’t say anything about “highest goods”. WTF? I don’t use the relative term “highest” or “higher” or anything… now did I use “goods”. Really?

          • James Walker

            by insisting that any claim must be rational and must have empirical evidence to support it, you are revealing that your worldview is one in which rationality and the scientific method are at the top of your hierarchy of goods.

            not everyone shares that worldview.

          • If you make a claim that X exists, you MUST show that X exists.. give something to support your claim. If you cannot, then yes, it’s not rational. If a belief is not rational, it MUST NOT be posited.

          • Aktap

            Ramen

          • Well, ted, you will be surprised by how much of science does not have a proof to it, but is considered true to the best of current scientific knowledge. Two hundred years ago, it was ‘science’ that the earth was the centre of the universe, and they thought so because everything in the night sky seemed to maintain their relative positions with each other. So that was the hypothesis. And science is based on such hypothesis. Like, the standard model of particle physics, or quantum mechanics. No one knows whether it is true or false. But it is a hypothesis that allows you to make accurate predictions of specific cases. But they will never be able to say without doubt, that THIS is how nature works. And then comes the question of if that is how it works, then why? How did life originate, etc. And no one has an answer.

            Now just like quantum mechanics has different working models, like everett’s many worlds model, or karolyhazy’s model and so on, you can consider that the ‘God exists’ hypothesis is one of the working models of the world, and frustrating as it is for anti theists, there is no observation that contradicts the existence of god. So they are innocent until proven guilty eh?

          • Anyone can make a hypothesis that a god exists, but it doesn’t fit any theory we have.

          • Exactly.. And there is no proof that any of the theories we have are true either sadly. And I say this as an eager physics student.

          • Well, a theory by definition is the best conclusion we have of how things work, based on the facts we have. We have no facts of any gods/ghosts.. so it’s nowhere NEAR a theory.. it’s a complete guess.

          • Yes, no fear of course. But if you want to be scientific, you would need to give me scientific evidence that god does not exist. Which is of course not possible, or would have been done by now. Of course to a scientific mind, the god theory does not feel very satisfying. But until you can prove one or the other, they are just two theories, and which theory an individual subscribes to is only a matter of personal bias. And each is entitled to their opinion I guess.

            (Edit : I was an idiot, and I admit it! Thanks Ted!)

          • Basically, I want to say, that I am rather ambivalent either way, I certainly respect your opinion, or anyone else’s. I too find religion somewhat contrived.

          • You said: “But if you want to be scientific, you would need to give me scientific evidence that god does not exist”

            ^^ This is a ridiculous request. The skeptic is NEVER needed to disprove a negative, which you even SAY isn’t possible:

            You said: “Which is of course not possible”

            It’s not possible because you can’t disprove a negative in that fashion. I can’t prove that unicorns DON’T exist somewhere. This tells me that you don’t understand the burden of proof. The one with the positive assertion always has the burden of proof. When you say there is a god, you must prove it.

            You said: “Of course to a scientific mind, the god theory does not feel very satisfying.”

            ^^ Of COURSE it doesn’t. It raises more questions, doesn’t answer any, and dumbs us down and tells us to stop asking questions. It’s completely idiotic because it’s not scientific.

            It’s up to *YOU* to prove it. If you can’t prove it, we dismiss it. I win by default. The skeptic doesn’t have to do SHIT. Do I have to disprove the existence of Tinkerbell? No, of course not, right?

            Get a grip on reality, buddy.

            Sorry, god’s existence isn’t a “theory” because it’s not based on any facts. It’s a complete guess – a hypothetical.

          • Please desist from using profanity. Any and all views are welcome here, but I try to keep the level of discourse such that it is serious and also something that people of all ages can read. Thank you in advance for complying.

          • What does it matter? So what?

          • Randy Wanat

            We now know that you have no clue what science is, hoe it’s done, and why it works.

          • Randy Wanat

            James, what is the difference between “I don’t accept X as true” and “I believe X is false?”

          • James Walker

            believing X is false is not the same as believing someone who accepts X is lying or has accepted a lie. as I’ve attempted to explain elsewhere, there are many ways to evaluate truth or falsehood and not all of those methods fall within the scientific empiricist model. empiricism is not the only valid philosophical framework, it’s merely the most useful one for addressing phenomena of the natural world.

          • Randy Wanat

            Let’s not get into what is and is not a lie, as that requires some insight into the knowledge of whoever taught or is making the claim. I’m simply talking about someone not accepting X as true versus someone asserting X is false. For the record, all lies are falsehoods, but not all falsehoods are lies. But, I’m not addressing that.

          • James Walker

            the distinction between “I do not accept that X is true” vs. “I assert X is false” is possible to make, but subtle. in both cases, there is still room for doubt and for exchange of ideas over the basis for the assertions about X.

            there is less “wiggle room” with a statement such as “I assert X is a lie”. it categorically claims there is no viewpoint from which X can possibly be true and that the person asserting X is doing so with knowledge of its falsehood. in the case where X is a non-falsifiable claim, such as whether or not unicorns exist, to state X is a lie begs special knowledge.

          • Randy Wanat

            Is it rational or irrational to think leprechauns exist? Whichever it is, why do you say that?

          • James Walker

            I would say there is a balance point between irrational and non-rational and which side the belief holder falls on depends on whether they attempt to explain natural phenomena using their belief in “little people”. merely believing such creatures exist is non-rational because they cannot be seen or measured in any way. believing the “little people” actually, literally clean up ones house at night if one leaves treats for them is irrational.

            the one simply doesn’t fall within the domain of rational thought. the other actively goes counter to rational thought.

          • Randy Wanat

            Well, irrational is irrational. If something is not rational, it is irrational. So, both qualify as irrational, but one is deeper down the rabbit hole (using that belief to explain natural phenomena). How does belief in gods of any kind differ from either of these irrationalities? Belief in something for which there is no evidence: irrational. Belief that something for which there is no evidence explains natural phenomena: irrational (further down rabbit hole). A god that is believed to interact with demonstrable reality, by this definition, is the more profoundly irrational belief. And, same for the god that set the universe into being.

          • James Walker

            somewhere there has to be a means of distinguishing “outside the domain” from “contradicts the domain”. that’s what I’m after by using language the way I’ve been doing – attempting to distinguish holding beliefs that merely fall outside the domain of science vs. holding beliefs that actively contradict science. to use the same word for both has some implications I think you don’t actually intend.

          • Randy Wanat

            As you said above, the scientific method, using empirical evidence, is the most useful for investigating natural phenomena. What other kind of phenomena are there?

            ETA: It’s enjoyable to discuss such ideas with someone who isn’t afraid of the prospect of digging into the epistemic roots of their beliefs. There’s no reason adults can’t talk about, as Matt Dillahunty would say, what you believe and why.

          • James Walker

            even the word “phenomena” implies some concrete occurrence that is observable by some means, which makes it difficult to discuss anything non-concrete or non-observable. we’ve ventured pretty far away from the OP, though, and I’m pretty sure we could go on and on ad infinitum about the various philosophical approaches to intangible “reality”. 😉

          • Randy Wanat

            Legitimizing the texts from which extremists draw justifications for bad behavior legitimizes their justifications, because there is no demonstrably correct interpretation, and it legitimizes the irrational beliefs they harbor upon which chains of bad logic are constructed, leading to aberrational behavior. In short, it protects their irrational beliefs from scrutiny. Your irrational beliefs are special and shouldn’t be questioned but theirs aren’t and shouldn’t? No, theirs are just as special and unquestioned. It’s the way uncritical acceptance, obedience, conformity, dehumanization of outsiders, and other antisocial attitudes are fostered in the texts and shielded from condemnation under the aegis of ‘faith” that gives the crazier elements a built-in shelter in which their wrongdoing is devised and executed and excused.

        • Neko

          “How Fundamentalists Promote Atheism” could easily apply to your tirades here.

          Anti-theists like you have completely alienated atheists like me. Keep up the good work.

          • Anti-theism is the way to go! Hoorah!
            If someone is going to generalize all atheists, that’s THEIR problem, not mine! Don’t be upset at someone doing that to you!

          • Neko

            Huh? I specifically cited “atheists like me,” not atheists in general. Read.

          • If I say something, it has nothing to do with you per se.

          • Neko

            I’m so sorry. I thought you were replying to what I said. But you were preaching instead. My bad.

          • How the hell can I “preach”? Thinking isn’t your forte, is it?

          • Neko

            A bit of a literalist, aren’t you.

          • Just a bit. It’s from debating so long.

      • Randy Wanat

        People are not ideas. Ideas are not people.

      • Gandolf

        Someone who is pro-theist ,is deemed to be quite ok.Yet someone who is anti-theist, is deemed to be a militant atheist

        For many generations, pro-theists have continually attempted to convert more people to faith beliefs.And folks like you will have thought that was ok .We know this, because we also know how folk like you, never stepped-up to speak-against such practices

        When the tables turn, and more people decide they need to get actively involved in attempting to de-convert folks.Suddenly theists are against this practice.

        If theists had have spoken “out against” the pro-theism movement.Then there would be no reason for the existence of anti-theist’s

        Anti-theist “seem loud” to theist’s, whom are not used to dealing with any competition

        You own holy book contains wisdom that suggests how “you reap what you sow”

        Theists have allowed theism to cause extreme harm.Which in turn, has thus sown the seed of anti-theism

        While you might see anti-theist as militant’s.Anti-theists may tend to see themselves as being more like freedom fighters

        You wont begin to understand this.Because you also haven’t begun to understand, the full extent of widespread harm, that has been caused by pro-theism

        Some years ago, some people would have thought of members of the anti-apartheid movement , as being “militants” too.

        Militant is a name often given to people, whom are not prepared to just accept life the way it is.

    • Diana

      The beliefs may change but the character remains the same.

  • Steve

    American Christianity in general is very far removed from historic Christianity.

  • Guest

    *there

  • Ah! Don’t shock my brain with creationist nonsense as early as noon!

  • Dan

    Does anyone really believe this: “Why on Earth would anyone feel the need to choose between belief in God and belief that science can help us understand sunsets?”? I do not think anyone would say that people cannot use science to understand a sunset. It would rather be the type of science that would be in question.

    • Christopher R Weiss

      What does the “type” of science have to do with it? Physics is physics regardless of your religious belief system. If you are talking about young earth creationist pseudoscience, which attempts to reinterpret just about every branch of science known to man, I would not consider that a “type” of science.

      • Dan

        What it has to do with is the statement implies that science in general is rejected, which is a misleading lie.

        • Randy Wanat

          If “I don’t know the answer, therefore God” ever seems like a proper explanation for something, you have dismissed science wholesale as an approach to understanding that thing. Not sure what’s misleading about that.

          • Dan

            The fact that God caused all into creation does not mean that one rejects science. Science is interested in understanding how things work and the like. When the understanding that God is the cause does nothing to help or distract the science when done properly. It is only when the process is abused that problems occur.

            So it is wrong to state that science is dismissed. It is not dismissed, rather God is included.

          • Randy Wanat

            You can’t say something like “The FACT that God caused…” (emphasis mine) and then claim not to be rejecting science. You have yet to demonstrate that God exists, much less ever caused ANYTHING to occur, yet you refer to it as a fact. In science, “because I believe X” isn’t evidence, nor does it make a claim a fact.

          • Dan

            Randy, so you are an atheist. I refuse to discuss Christianity with you.

          • Randy Wanat

            Who’s discussing Christianity with you? Not I. I am discussing the nature of facts, and their role in the scientific enterprise. Facts are demonstrable. If it can’t be demonstrated, it’s not a fact. Beliefs are only factual if their subject is demonstrable, which would qualify that belief for knowledge status. Until then, the belief is only a belief, and not a fact. If you want to create a private vocabulary, you’re going to have to share your definitions with everyone else, so we know what you mean when you use a word in a way that doesn’t coincide with the universally accepted usages. So, how are you defining “fact?” Because, as you’ve used it, it has no relation to any known meaning of the word. If facts are something other than demonstrable aspects of the universe, then facts as you’ve described them are not a part of the scientific method, and either we simply refer to demonstrable aspects of the universe or we create a new word to signify that concept. Of course, it’s entirely unnecessary to do so if we simply agree upon facts being that word, in which case you’ve admitted your error. If admitting error isn’t something you’re comfortable with, I understand, but that’s the only path to greater understanding. Intellectual insularity will never lead you beyond what you already think you know. Learning only comes with the ability to say ” I was mistaken, I acknowledge that, and I am willing to change what I believe in accordance with the evidence.” Again, if you can’t do that, I understand, but that does signify a refusal to learn, and that would be most unfortunate.

            Edited to add: Why search for any other explanation for anything once “God did it” is posited? If you’re satisfied with that, you would not pursue any other explanation, which means that if there were a different actual explanation, you’d never discover it. How does that not stymie the scientific process of uncovering the workings of the universe? For that matter, how was it determined that reality is a creation? Creations require creators, but how was it determined to have been created? This is not a fact, but a belief, as well. I’m really not being pedantic; words mean things, and when you refer to beliefs as facts and assert characteristics upon reality that have no objective basis, you’re doing the opposite of science and discouraging learning, for yourself at the very least.

            No, there is no discussion of Christianity at all. Just the meanings of words. If you refuse to use words according to their accepted definitions, you are not communicating effectively, and possibly unintentionally lying. If you refuse to understand that words mean things, and that communication depends on mutually agreed upon definitions, then I don’t know what you could possibly hope to accomplish by talking to anybody about anything. You’d be akin to Humpty Dumpty, who said words mean whatever he says they mean.

          • Dan

            You say, “Who’s discussing Christianity with you? Not I.” Then you cannot expect a discussion concerning God. Either you are, or you are not.

            Put it this way, if you are Christian you trust what God has revealed in Scripture as fact. That you dismiss what God has chosen to reveal, we cannot continue here.

          • Randy Wanat

            How. Do. You. Define. “Fact?”

          • Dan

            According to m-w.com, “the quality of being actual” and “something that has actual existence”.

          • Christopher R Weiss

            This means you view the stories of the bible as facts. I agree that you shouldn’t continue the conversation.

          • Dan

            Yes, I believe that the stories in Scripture did occur. I believe that Jesus was born of the Virgin, died on the cross, rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven.

          • Christopher R Weiss

            Why does this have more legitimacy than genesis or are you saying you think genesis is literally true too?

          • Dan

            That is a good question for people here. One way it has been answered historically is that the true God would never have taken six days to create the world, so it must be allegory.

          • Christopher R Weiss

            So… let’s extend this. Many Jewish scholars claim that the “virgin” birth was actually a mistranslated term from “young maiden.” Historically and biologically, it makes much more sense that Mary was a young unwed woman rather than a virgin when she became pregnant. Similarly, couldn’t Jesus’ resurrection be an allegory for the lasting impact he had even after he was killed? It seems incredibly convenient to selectively determine what is literal truth and what is allegory when making strong statements of fact from any portion of the bible.

          • Dan

            Of course the word that is translated as virgin can also be translated as maiden, however that does not mean that it is wrong to translate it as virgin either. Also what would it mean to have an earthly father for Jesus?

            Concerning allegory regarding the resurrection, the question becomes what does that mean for us. If we are to have a resurrection like that of Christ on the last day what does it mean if Christ’s was allegorical? Where does that leave us? It simply does not add up to understand it allegorically.

          • Christopher R Weiss

            Others would disagree…. What if Jesus were more of a Buddha, and he really meant the mind reaching a transcendent state? While not a popular interpretation it can fit the facts as well.

            The point being you can’t really know or prove where the facts and the allegory begin and end.

          • Dan

            That depends if there is actually one truth. I would say there is only one true understanding regarding this, and all others are wrong.

          • Christopher R Weiss

            Well… and how do you establish this one true understanding? You are veering directly toward fundamentalism of a type. This is the challenge when it comes to using the bible as a source of truth. We have the full range of interpretations – full literal, partially allegorical, and fully allegorical with every possible gradation between these three states, including regarding different parts as allegories and literal facts. Your “understanding” has no better justification than the nearly infinite re-interpretations of the same text.

          • Dan

            For me it comes down to the confessions that I am bound. For others, whatever confessions they subscribe to.

          • Christopher R Weiss

            Hmmm…. It’s hard to argue truth when it comes down to arbitrary confessions one accepts.

          • Dan

            Not if they are true and are an accurate exposition of the Scriptures.

          • Christopher R Weiss

            And we come full circle… How do you know yours are true other than simply believing so?

          • Dan

            You study them against the only reliable source, Scripture.

          • Christopher R Weiss

            Ugh… So scripture is true because scripture is true, and you which parts are only allegory because scripture says so. Did I get that right?

          • Dan

            No.

            Scripture is true because Christ Jesus is true God.

          • Christopher R Weiss

            However, never having met Jesus, you are relying on scripture to tell you that Jesus is the one true god, and the circle is complete.

          • Dan

            No. One is relying on the gift of faith.

          • Randy Wanat

            And, how do you go about determining if something is factual?

          • Dan

            From the theological perspective (which we are talking about here, because we are talking about God and creation), we go to the one who was actually there, God.

          • Randy Wanat

            And, how do you go about determining God is factual? I mean, you can’t attribute things to something that is not real, so your God needs to be factual. Necessity for God to be real for the Bible to be true doesn’t do it, nor does sincerity of belief (as both of those would make mutually exclusive things factual). So, if you attribute the Bible’s testimony to God, God’s existence must be determined. How would you go about that without resorting to circular reasoning? In other words, the testimony doesn’t demonstrate the veracity of the testimony (a claim cannot prove itself). How do you determine that God is factual?

          • Dan

            That comes down to faith. However, it is a faith that is backed up by the historical record concerning Christ Jesus.

          • Randy Wanat

            Which historical record is that, and which parts have been corroborated with external sources devoid of a vested interest in the religion?

          • Dan

            The Holy Scriptures.

          • Randy Wanat

            The entirety of the scriptures has not been corroborated. In fact, some of it is demonstrably false, and not a single claim of a supernatural nature has been corroborated in any way whatsoever. At best, a reasonable person could say a man by the name of Yeshua lived in that time in that place and was crucified (maybe). Confirmation for anything else has not been presented.

          • Dan

            That you state that parts of it are false leads me to the conclusion that we have no reason to continue this discussion.
            If we do not have a common understanding of Scripture as a base foundation, nothing beneficial can be gained by moving forward here.

          • This is a good example of how fundamentalists promote atheism. Is your view really that one has to simply make a leap of faith that the Bible is without error, even though that involves rejecting the evidence the Bible itself provides? Where in Scripture do you ever find people proclaiming the need to take a leap of faith and accept Scriptures as inerrant?

          • Dan

            Dr. McGrath, I do not believe that one must believe that the Bible is without error. What I do believe is that one must hold that the Bible is the Word of God and that the Holy Spirit uses the proclamation of that Word to create and sustain faith.

            It is the rejection of the Word that I believe is dangerous and that is what I see as the problem.

            So, I did not say that “one has to simply make a leap of faith that the Bible is without error”.

          • But you still seem to think that one must simply assume certain things about the Bible. Otherwise you would not have ended a conversation with someone because they do not share your assumptions, but would rather have sought to persuade them of your convictions.

          • Dan

            Dr. McGrath, it is a judgment call. Why continue in a discussion if a person will not accept the Bible as the Word of God and Jesus as a real person?

          • Why should someone accept the Bible as the Word of God before you provide them with reasons for doing so? And if it is something that cannot be justified, or something that in fact is counter to the evidence, then why believe it yourself?

          • Dan

            Dr. McGrath, if the point of the discussion was to convert an atheist, yes that would be a good point. When one is attempting to convert, it is proper to give a reason. However, if the discourse was regarding a point of doctrine, it is already past the discussion of conversion.

            I was not going to go down the rabbit hole of discussing if there is a god when I was discussing a topic that already assumed there was such a god.

          • Randy Wanat

            Do you care whether the things you believe are true? The question is not” Why should I accept the Bible as true,” it is “why should you?”

          • Dan

            Of course I do, and that is why I continue to remain a student of the Bible.

          • Randy Wanat

            Student? That implies learning. You have already declared the Bible true, and your interpretation of it correct, leaving you nothing to learn, and no room for the possibility that you could be wrong about the Bible’s veracity and/or your interpretation of it. When you begin with “I believe the first part o the book is true because I believe the second part is true,” what could you possibly be leaving open for debate or refutation? You are saying your belief in in part 2 justifies your belief in the first part, and your belief in the second part is based upon your admitted assumption that it’s true. How can you honestly say you care whether your beliefs are true when their foundation is, by your own admission, that you assume X is true, and are unwilling to even entertain the possibility that you are not right about the Bible being true or your interpretation of it? Your entire belief hinges upon “I assume.” Does that sound to you like caring if your beliefs are true?

          • Dan

            A student is one who continues to study that which is true and correct.

            That you think there is nothing to learn shows enough right there.

          • Randy Wanat

            Your assertion that it is true and correct is, BY YOUR OWN ADMISSION, based on your assumption that it’s true and correct. And, I never said there is nothing to learn; you have assumed that your assumption of its truth is correct. A chain of assumptions about how you’re right about all your assumptions is not leaving any room for you to learn anything. You’re assuming you have all the answers because you have assumed your interpretation of the Bible is the only 100% correct one. And, you admit that this. Assumption based on assumption based on assumption. In what other part of your life would you accept “I assume it’s true, and I assume I’m right about my assumption, therefore it’s true?” If it’s not good enough for more menial and mundane things, why would that inadequate standard suddenly be acceptable regarding your eternal soul (were such a thing to exist)? You’re pinning your eternal soul’s fate to “I assume.” Don’t you think you should put a little more behind it than that?

          • Dan

            An assumption is different than faith. Having the faith created and sustained so that you believe and trust that something is true is different than assuming something to be true.

          • Randy Wanat

            You have not actually demonstrated the veracity of the Bible using evidence. You accept it as true. You’re calling “faith” a slowly-developed assumption (accepting something as true without the presence of corroborative evidence). So, still an assumption. If there is a functional difference, you’re not describing one, and I don’t see one. Are you accepting the Bible as true? Do you have evidence that it is true as you interpret it? And, isn’t it an amazing coincidence that you say you’ve struck upon the correct interpretation (despite no desire to verify it), just like every other Christian? Amazing that all your mutually exclusive interpretations are correct based on the same dearth of evidence and suspension of disbelief and critical thinking. What are the odds you’d all claim to be right while also declaring everyone else wrong?

          • Dan

            I am not calling faith as lowly developing assumption. That is your own conclusion. Faith is the trust that one has in Christ Jesus and HIs forgiveness of sins. Where Scripture fits in here is that the faith that receives that forgiveness is nurtured and sustained in its proclamation.

          • Randy Wanat

            I’m sorry, but that is word salad. I know all of those words and what they mean, but as you’ve arranged them they have no discernible meaning. You have still yet to explain how you’re not assuming it’s true when you’re accepting it as true despite a lack of compelling corroborative evidence.

          • Dan

            Randy, you are ignoring the understanding of faith and where that fits in here. You state that one believes without compelling corroborative evidence, and with faith one has the trust that has been created in himself to believe what is stated within Scripture. Yes, one does not have the corroborative evidence that a man has been raised from the dead, but the Holy Spirit creates and sustains the faith that trusts that it indeed did occur.

          • Randy Wanat

            That is the 360th degree; you are now engaging in fully circular reasoning. You believe it’s true because you believe the Holy Spirit creates the faith (acceptance of things without compelling evidence), and you believe it’s the Holy Spirit because you’ve heard about it from the book that you believe is true. Your reasoning is like two mirrors facing each other. You can never get to the root of your epistemology because belief A is a result of belief B, which is a result of belief A, which is a result of belief B, ad infinitum. You have not demonstrated a functional difference between what you do and assuming, and you’re stuck in a logic loop that has no reasonable resolution. Yet, you think you’ve got it figured out.

          • Dan

            Your reasoning falls apart with the idea I believe this because I believe it is the Holy Spirit because I read that in a book. That is incorrect. What I believe is that the Holy Spirit creates the faith so that I can believe that Jesus is God. What you are saying is that I read a book that caused me to believe that the Holy Spirit creates the faith so that I believe that Jesus is God. Do you see the difference?

          • Randy Wanat

            You believe the holy spirit exists like the Bible says in the Old Testament, despite zero corroborative evidence, which you credit for the faith you have that allows you to believe that Jesus performed supernatural deeds despite zero corroborative evidence, which you say justifies your belief in the Old Testament’s veracity despite zero corroborative evidence. So, because you believe the OT is true, you believe the NT is true, which is why you think the OT is true. How is this NOT circular? You’ve already made all of these assertions. Do you disagree with yourself when you see your ideas stripped of the poetic descriptions that help you avoid the logical discrepancies?

          • Dan

            Your problem is that you still desire to put this around the Old Trstament. And you also state that because I believe the OT is true I believe the NT is true. That is false. I believe both the OT and NT are true because Christ is true.

            You want to place the trust of my faith on the Scriptures. That would be true for a fundamentalist, but I am not a fundamentalist. My trust rests on the person of Jesus Christ, not on the Scriptures.

          • Randy Wanat

            You said first that you believe the OT is true because you believe the stories of Jesus in the NT are true. You said you believe the stories of Jesus in the NT are true because the Holy Spirit creates that faith in you, which means you need to believe the stories in the OT about the Holy Spirit are true before you believe the stories about Jesus in the NT are true. So, your belief in the OT depends on your belief in the NT, which depends on your belief in the OT. Without the OT, you don’t have a concept of a Holy Spirit, which is what your belief in Jesus depends on, which is what your belief in the OT depends on. I’m merely creating a flow chart of your chain of belief, and it forms a perfect circle, a snake eating its tail. I’m not trying to make it sound any particular way. I’m just showing you how irrational your claims are to someone who isn’t busy ignoring the logical inconsistencies. Have you heard of the outsider test? If your claims would sound ridiculous to you if you were hearing them as an outsider, your claims are ridiculous. You can try to flower up the chain of belief all you want, but this is the chain of belief you created. That’s not my fault. Perhaps you should give some serious thought to what, exactly, you believe and why, exactly, you believe it. As it stands, you seem to think that just throwing good-sounding buzz phrases around regardless of their logical consequences is adequate. If your child were doing the same thing regarding their conversion to Islam, you’d tell them the same thing. Don’t you think your beliefs deserve the best possible justification, rather than the circular reasoning you’re attributing it to now?

          • Dan

            Now you are putting words in my mouth. I did not say because the stories in the New Testament are true. I said because Jesus is true. So you are completely wrong. It does not depend upon the Scriptures, only the person of Jesus.

          • Randy Wanat

            You described the Scriptures as an accurate historical documentation of the life, times, and character of Jesus, which means the Scriptures would be true if your belief is true regarding Jesus. You’re trying to create a distinction without a difference. Your reasoning is like a Mobius strip. Are the Scriptural stories about Jesus inaccurate or even POSSIBLY inaccurate? If you’ve already convinced yourself that they’re true because your belief in Jesus is correct because of the Holy Spirit that is introduced via the OT which you accept as true because you accept your beliefs about Jesus as true because of the holy spirit which is in the OT which you accept as true because… This is the flaw in your reasoning. You’re using part 2 to justify part 1, and you’re using part 1 to justify part 2. You can’t logically, rationally, or reasonably do this, because it’s an endless feedback loop. You keep focusing on just the part. Step back and look at the whole. I have accurately portrayed your chain of belief, and what is bothering you is that you recognize its absurdity but refuse to believe that your thought process is that absurd. I asked how you know things. These were your responses. You need to take some time away, stop being defensive, and approach this as though you were an outsider. Examine what you’ve said and create a diagram of what justifies what. See if it doesn’t form a feedback loop. Or, continue asserting that you’ve happened upon the one true version of belief in Jesus and Biblical understanding, just like every other Christian has claimed to have done.

          • Dan

            There is a big difference between what you are claiming I am saying and what I have actually said. And the difference is that on one side the entire faith rests upon Scripture and the other on an actual person.

            You are wanting always to return to Scripture, and by doing so you are in error. I am not doing that, only you are and you are claiming that I do that. That is wrong. Once you understand that and drop that we can continue. But until you do that, all you are doing is attempting to tell me what I believe and I have to tell you you are wrong and that I do know what I believe.

          • Randy Wanat

            The Jesus you believe is true originated in the Scriptures. There is nothing outside of the Scriptures, and certainly nothing contemporary to Jesus and his followers, that asserts Jesus did all the things the Bible claims, and/or was divine in any way. So, your Jesus belief is, necessarily, a Scriptural belief. There is no way for you to outrun the train of thought that you set into motion, but that’s not stopping you from trying.

          • Dan

            The Jesus I believe in originated in the person of Jesus, not a text. The text does communicate about the person, but it did not originate in that text.

          • Randy Wanat

            You’re ASSUMING that person of Jesus as a divine person magical powers and immortality was real, but the only place where such a concept is espoused is the Bible. Nothing else. And, there is no evidence that such a being could exist, much less DID exist. Therefore, the rational understanding is that the stories are the source of the figure, in much the same way the person of George Washington as a legendary figure with preternatural military strategic skills, diplomatic skills, political acumen, and to-a-fault honesty was not real, but the stories were based on a real person, and the stories became legends that strayed ever farther from reality. Knowing that exaggeration was a common practice regarding popular figures after their death throughout the ages, and with only stories shared person-to-person as the means of preserving the history of the man, the rational understanding is that legends about the man grew after his death. Again, you’re trying to create a distinction without a difference. Believing something that has all the hallmarks of a legend, and saying you believe in the subject of the legend rather than the legend itself, is meaningless. It’s no more sensible than saying Lord of the Rings recounts the history of the Hobbitts, which I believe are real, but I don’t believe in them because of the book.

  • Alan Christensen

    This is right up there with Bill O’Really (misspelling intentiona) saying sscience can’t explain the tides.

  • pausanias

    Atheists don’t believe there is an immortal soul that lives on afters you die. For instance, a woman who survives a traumatic brain injury but becomes a vegetable (unable to communicate or process information any more) completely loses the personality she had before the injury. The self she used to have is gone. If the soul was immortal, the self and personality of a person would not be able to be destroyed while the person still lived on. If the soul is immortal, what part of the injured woman will live on after death if her self and personality is already destroyed and gone?

    • pausanias

      “after,” not “afters”

    • Randy Wanat

      Belief in supernatural mumbo jumbo has nothing to do with atheism. One can believe in souls, auras, chakras, chi, spirit energy, life force, any of that stuff, and be an atheist. Not believing in deities is atheism. What you’re describing is skeptics. While atheists and skeptics largely overlap, one isn’t a requisite of the other.

      • Christopher R Weiss

        True… However, it is pretty hard to justify atheism if you believe in the spiritual as well since claims about the spiritual are about as well supported as claims for the existence of god.

  • Andrew Dowling

    I can’t look at that graphic without Thomas Dolby getting in my head.

    • Diana

      “She blinded me with science!”

  • David Evans

    I like the graphic, but I think she was really asking “How do you explain that the sunset is so beautiful if there is no God?” This may not be a sensible question, but if it is, explaining why the setting sun looks red is not really a sufficient answer.

    • For the question to make sense, all humans would have to agree that all sunsets are beautiful. For thousands of years, many humans probably feared the sunset, because of the terrors of the dark that followed.

      You seem to be turning her question into something like: why do we have subjective emotional responses to external natural events? Or more simply, why do we have subjective emotional responses to anything?

      • David Evans

        I think her question was less reflective than that. But we can’t know unless we ask her.

    • Randy Wanat

      Oh, that has to do with cognition and perception. A neurologist could explain how our brains process the visual data and synthesize the neuronal response that we refer to as beauty. Science: it works, bitches!

      • David Evans

        I don’t think neurology is yet even close to explaining that. The explanation is not going to be simple since, as beau_quilter pointed out, not everyone experiences the same things as beautiful.

        “Science: it works!” is great when the topic is something science has actually explained. Here, not so much.

        • Randy Wanat

          Fair point. We may not have all the gory details worked out quite yet. However, I think it almost goes without saying that if anything is going to be understood about it, science will lead us to that understanding.

  • James Walker

    begging your pardon, but ridiculing someone’s beliefs IS a form of bullying. so is swearing at them when they’ve gently pointed out what they think is a flaw in your analogy.

    • I begin to wonder if TedTheAtheist is someone disguising himself as an atheist to make atheists look bad. Calling someone a “#@*& idiot” is ridiculing a person, not a belief.

      I do not think that ridiculing people is a helpful approach to anything. Sure, it’s bullying.

      But ridiculing a belief is not the same thing as ridiculing a person. Ridicule is a valid rhetorical way of pointing out the ridiculous nature of bad ideas. We use ridicule in political cartoons, editorials, debate, … even in courtrooms. Religious ideas should not hold special privilege over other sorts of ideas. There is no reason that a religious idea should be immune to ridicule.

      • James Walker

        point taken, beau_quilter. I’m just not sure, from the tone and choice of wording, that TedTheAtheist possesses the necessary grasp of nuance to apply ridicule in an impersonal, non-bullying fashion to beliefs he/she presumes to be fallacious.

        • Well, I won’t even try to defend TedTheAtheist’s approach. Ridiculing a belief system is as valid an approach as ridiculing any idea. I wouldn’t call TedTheAtheist’s comments “ridicule”. I’d call them “hurling stupid insults.”

      • Neko

        Interesting speculation. The rhetoric is so boilerplate that maybe he is a parody! If so, well done!

    • Randy Wanat

      Ridiculing someone is bullying. Ridiculing someone for their beliefs is bullying. Ridiculing someone’s beliefs is not bullying. Beliefs are ideas. Ideas do not automatically deserve any respect. People do, until they do something to lose it. Ideas cannot do anything to lose or earn respect. Mockery is a valid means of criticizing certain ideas in certain contexts. If I say we should institute a “beat women on Wednesdays” policy, that idea deserves no respect. I probably deserve less respect than before if I am sincere, and perhaps only marginally less if I’m not, depending on the context (for instance, was it said as a way to incite negative feelings, or as a set-up for a punchline in a joke?). Does “I like chocolate” deserve respect? Of course not. It’s just an idea. If you mean that criticism of ideas should be done respectfully, sure, perhaps, but never do ideas merit respect.

  • JenellYB

    Science actually arose out of monotheistic religion. The cultural transition from early common polytheistic and animism ideas of “gods” to that of a single omnipotent creator-God provided the foundation of a consistently ordered cosmos with dependable natural laws at work that was needed for scientific method inquiry. Previously, there could be no predictable consistency of order in natural events, since at at any time a multiplicity of “gods” would be vying and competing with one another in whatever happened, or in animism, outcome of all the different ‘spirits’ was by mere accident.

    • Christopher R Weiss

      That’s a complete distortion of reality. Go back and read some Aristotle and the foundations of the scientific method.

  • God or no god is not the real problem. Religions that insist they know who their god is, what he is thinking, and how he wants us to behave,and then try to impose their revelations/delusions on the rest of us is the problem.
    I am an atheist. That means I don’t believe in any god or gods. That does not mean that I know for sure whether or not there is a god. I means I don’t believe there is one. And on the far out chance that there is one, I do not presume to know what he is thinking or how he wants us to behave.
    What I strongly object to is the visions of their god that religions impose on us.
    So, lets quit talking about whether or not there is a god, and lets talk more about how men created their religions. And more importantly how religions attempt to impose their delusions on the rest of us.

  • Brian P.

    My cousin’s homeschooling her kids. At the family reunion this summer, I was eavesdropping on a denial of science. Smartly I said nothing. Wisely I only listened to a bit of the conversation.

    The four are about ages 16 to 6. I wonder if they know there’s a statistically good case that they’re doing their damnedest to produce some really good atheists in a decade or so.

    Will be interesting to watch unfold. My one cousin did really well a few months ago at some sort of homeschoolers’ national debate and apologetics type of event.

    I’m going to be curious to watch the faith-propogation strategies over the years.

    • Randy Wanat

      Isn’t that a bit like standing back and watching someone beat their children because it will result in people who will eventually crusade against abuse? It’s not a foregone conclusion that they will grow up to believe X or believe Y. The best thing to do would be to tell them about museums and libraries, and the learning process. Sow the seeds of learning, rather than hoping that the seeds of ignorance won’t take root.

      • Brian P.

        Incidentally, I sent my cousins (the parents) an email after the reunion to say that I used to read a lot of apologetics. I sent them the list of the books of read loosely related to apologetics and said I’d be glad to discuss any time.

        Regardless, whether books, or museums, or libraries–no matter how truthfully, kindly, or patiently presented–my experiences is that fundies do not welcome any of manner of intervention of cognitive dissonance.

        They can discern their Satan better than about anything.

      • Brian P.

        Fundies have heightened Satan discernment detectors. They need to control the inputs to their children. No matter how graciously presented, any cognitive dissonance gets tissue rejection.

        My wife’s pretty fundie too. I’m more or less doing the same thing with my kids. You’ll find much better parents than me.

        • Makoto

          Speaking as an atheist that came from a fundie family, you’d be surprised how often that “Heightened” detector just happens to be hypersensitive, and will ring “Positive” on the silliest things. For the longest time, I wasn’t allowed to read Ted Dekker books (His Red, White, and Black trilogy is still an admitted guilty pleasure of mine) on the basis it came across as too much as a “Perversion of Scripture”.

          I will also note, if I happen to have kids with the Redhead, I’ll be homeschooling as well, primarily due to the rather quality-lacking Public School System, rather than any other reason.

  • buzzdixon

    I took a swing at this a while back on my blog. The sunset question gets to be interesting when you really start to analyze exactly what a sunset is…

    http://buzzdixon.com/thinkage/sunsets-who-can-explain-em/

  • No vulgarity please – even in response to vulgarity.

    • Oh cry me a river. Accept the English language. I do.

  • Joe Cogan

    Fundamentalists don’t worship God, they worship their own interpretation of a book men wrote about Him.

  • D

    if *there is no god. not their

    obviously this lady isn’t the brightest.

  • Kishan Anwary

    *there

  • Jerome

    ‘if their is no god’, lol

    • Christopher R Weiss

      “Your” not being very nice :p

  • arcseconds

    I wonder whether the point of this admittedly somewhat inchoate statement is not so much “how do you explain how sunsets end up with a red sky, rather than the blue you see during the rest of the day?” which of course requires a discussion of Rayleigh scattering, not God, but rather “how do you explain the stunning beauty of a sunset?”

    Science doesn’t have a good explanation for this at the moment, it’s just got a bunch of promissory notes tagged with ‘evolution’ and ‘neuroscience’. And it’s at least somewhat plausible to suppose that we are not going to have a really satisfactory explanation for this. There’s no obvious reason why finding sunsets (or anything, really, possibly apart from viable mates and food) beautiful would confer a selective advantage, so it’s probably some kind of side-effect or a spandrel. And, especially if it’s a spandrel, we’re unlikely to have anything more than a plausible story (or a handful of them) as to how it came about.

    Having something so important to us have such a deflationary and possibly quite uncertain account is not going to strike many as being satisfactory.

    • Neko

      It’s a fascinating question why we find certain things beautiful, and obviously beauty is often expressed in religious terms. A great opera singer is “divine.” A great work of art is “transcendent.” Well, art and religion arose in concert.

      Splendid you rise in heaven’s lightland,

      O living Aten, creator of life!

      When you have dawned in eastern lightland,

      You fill every land with your beauty.

      You are beauteous, great, radiant,

      High over every land;

      Your rays embrace the lands,

      To the limit of all that you made.

      Being Re, you reach their limits,

      You bend them for the son whom you love;

      Though you are far, your rays are on earth,

      Though one sees you, your strides are unseen.

      Great Hymn to Aten (the Sun)
      Akhenaten, 18th dynasty, c. 1351–1334 BC

      • Christopher R Weiss

        Yes… Men were often bound to religious terms before we could explain things like sunsets, rainbows, etc., in more mundane and true terms. A sunset is not less beautiful because of an understanding of the physics behind it.

        • Neko

          Wow, I would never assert anything like “A sunset is less beautiful because of an understanding of the physics behind it.” It might appear even more beautiful. But why? It’s not just the effect of understanding, because a sunset appears beautiful whether you understand the physics or not.

          My rather pedestrian point is that art, aesthetics and religion, and science, for that matter, are historically culturally intertwined. Example: the pyramids, the cathedrals.

    • Christopher R Weiss

      Of course, going from “we understand beauty” to “we must have a noncorporal mind given to us by god” is the leap that seems even less satisfying. It is hand waving and begs the question of why we have a sense of beauty. “Why” is a question we may never satisfactorily answer. However, “We don’t know” doesn’t seem to be an answer most are willing to accept even if it is true.

      • arcseconds

        Well, the sort of explanation a traditional theist might give would be more ‘we have been given a sense of beauty by God in order so that we might appreciate Their Creation in a deep and powerful way, so that we might appreciate each other similarly, to spur us to create works of art, to give us pleasure, to focus us on higher things rather than lower, and prepare us for the World to Come”

        And on the assumption that there is a God roughly like the traditional theistic one, that’s a pretty reasonable kind of explanation, I think. If I was going around creating intelligent beings, I’d certainly be trying to do that myself, for roughly those sorts of reasons. And parents usually try to inculcate some kind of sense of beauty in their children, at least, I hope they do.

        It’s certainly a lot better than many of the ‘God did it’ non-explanations, where even assuming the existence of God doesn’t give us any reason to expect the explanandum.

        (and you do have to make the assumption in order to see whether the framework really has a decent explanation)

        • Christopher R Weiss

          By assuming god exists, all sorts of things seem to flow. How do we know this sense of beauty came from god? Couldn’t it come from Satan to distract us from the higher calling? Couldn’t making this world beautiful be a false beauty compared to what people would find in heaven? There are religions where art and earthly beauty are rejected for this reason, and they have the same level of support as religions who claim beauty is a link back to god. In some Islamic sects it is generally considered wrong to construct images of people. Quakers rejected all art in the 1700s.

          The problem with “beauty” is that it is not necessarily tied to god even if you assume he/she/it exists.

          • arcseconds

            Do any of these religions proscribe admiring sunsets?

            A beneficent being would want what’s good for us, and experiencing beauty seems pretty good for us. In fact, of all the things to take pleasure in, it seems the least problematic of all, especially when it’s the natural world one is experiencing.

            It seems to me that anyone proposing otherwise has quite a bit of additional work to do, making their proposal that it’s good to avoid beauty, rather than seek it, quite a bit less plausible.

          • Christopher R Weiss

            You are making religious claims that others don’t support. The religious perspective is completely arbitrary and driven by the individual’s belief system.

          • arcseconds

            (*grin*)

            I’m not making any claims at all, other than what follows naturally and with more difficulty from certain premises.

            Let’s say were discussing phlogiston theory, and I said “it does have the capacity to provide an explanation for certain oxidation reactions, and the common properties of metal”. Obviously it would be both untrue to say “you are making scientific claims that others don’t support”. And even if we took that to mean “you are discussing scientific claims that others don’t support” that would be a pointless objection: I could still be perfectly right about what it can explain and not explain. Or I could be wrong.

            But even if I was making claims that others don’t support, so what? It’s not a requirement for everyone to agree on something before it can be discussed. In fact, I don’t see how that’s even possible. And wouldn’t it be kind of pointless to discuss it if everyone agreed with it?

            It sounds like a recipe for really boring discussions to me.

  • Jackie Heaton

    And she used the wrong form of there. If you’re going public at least get someone to check your spelling.