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Arguing about the morality of a thing with an atheist is pointless

Everyone has heard the charge:  God is a moral monster.  Indeed, Christians themselves have often struggled to reconcile the goodness of God with some of the actions recorded in the Scriptures, not to mention the bloodiness of human history.  I have myself struggled with this.  What thoughtful person hasn’t?  Unfortunately, as soon as you open your mouth to charge God with evil conduct, you have proved he exists, and also that he is good, because unless there exists a good God, all moral statements are nonsensical.

Granted, how you get from one to the other requires some intermediary steps.  It is not my purpose to speak to them here.

My purpose is to point out that it is almost a complete waste of time to argue about whether something is moral or immoral- including whether a putative God is moral or immoral- with an atheist because atheism logically entails moral relativism.  Most of the atheists that I’ve debated with have actually asserted this.  Some have argued differently.   I understand there is some diversity.  However, I’m not really trying to capture what atheists think, only explain why in my view dialoging on the morality of something is pointless.  And I think that atheism logically entails moral relativism, which makes any discussion about the ‘rightness’ or ‘wrongness’ about something (anything!) no more or less a discussion- according to the atheist- over one’s favorite flavor of ice cream.

So there you have the first hint at why the debate is useless.  Between the two of us, the only one who can be held to any kind of objective standard is ME.  That puts the atheist in the enviable position of being able to criticize my views or conclusions forever and ever while leaving themselves insulated from any challenge that their views are not consistent with objective standards… for the obvious reason that they don’t believe there are objective standards.    Likewise if they criticize the morality of something God is alleged to have done.  God is supposed to be omni-benevolent… and the atheist knows just what that would look like in order to find God wanting! while simultaneously believing that such assessments are societal constructs, evolutionary artifacts, or whatever they tell themselves.

Allow me to try to illustrate. 

Let’s say we were arguing about this equation:  a+b+c(d*e)=(f-g)+x.  I believe in absolutes and objective standards and my counterpart does not, but still believes that when I say x=20 I’m wrong.   So we argue.  We identify what all the variables are.  For example, let’s say we determine that a=10.  The atheist nods his head and the calculation continues.  Eventually we get to the end of the solution and solve for ‘x’ and aha!  ‘X’ does equal 20!    The atheist is ready, “Ah, but ‘a=10’ is merely a societal construct.  It could just as easily be 9.  In fact, I don’t think there is any right value for ‘a’.”

It’s like Lucy pulling the football out when Charlie Brown goes to kick it.  The atheist is free to speculate until kingdom come and never take a stand of his own while holding Christians mercilessly to their own standards, and decrying them as moral hypocrites if they fail to live by those standards… as if hypocrisy is objectively bad.

In one very important sense, then, one need not ever give a lick what an atheist believes is moral or immoral.  Their own position deprives their assessment of any substance.  Treat their assessment as inconsequential rubbish and you’ll still be giving it more consideration than its due.

Ah, but the atheist insists that their moral calculations and pronouncements be taken seriously!

Well, brother, that is proof positive that you do not buy what you’re selling.  You live your life every day as though certain things were objectively true, as though there were truly good and bad actions and outcomes.  In short, you live every day as though there was a God without being willing to match your mouth with your life.  Put another way, you are as much a hypocrite as any Christian you’ve ever taken aim at.  Not that there is anything objectively wrong about hypocrisy, right?

In my view, it is pointless to debate the morality of anything with an atheist until he is willing to admit that moral assessments imply the existence of the immaterial and transcendental realities that must exist if those assessments reflect anything more than one’s favorite flavor of ice cream.

Of course, we have already proved in this post the existence of transcendental and immaterial realities the minute I employed logic and reason, eg, in the algebraic formula.  The formula could makes use of abstractions such as variables and addition and multiplication and the axiom that one isn’t allowed to change the values of variables on the fly if one doesn’t like a world where X=20.  But let’s set that aside.

I am being careful in my language.  It’s ALMOST a complete waste of time.  As a Christian I believe that all humans are made in God’s image and it is precisely because of this that we all have our intrinsic sense of right and wrong and fair play.  The atheist sits around making moral judgements every day because he was created to do so just like everyone else.   Hence, while in the abstract it is plain silly for an atheist to make an accusation of hypocrisy* and given their general views not worth the time of day, in objective truth and reality, the charge may actually be legitimate and if so, it would genuinely be wrong.  So it matters that we Christians strive to uphold our moral code and likewise strive to ensure that it conforms to objective reality.   Not that I think many atheists would be happy even then.  But there are many varieties of atheism and degrees of disbelief and other kinds of disbelievers.  We need not sit around wondering if today Richard Dawkins will miraculously make his first sane comment, but there are others who may be watching who might be moved one way or the other.

Does this mean that I do not argue about the morality of things with my atheist friends?  No.  I do.  All the time.   But when I do, it is always with the goal of pushing it and pushing it and pushing it and pushing it all the way back to where they must come face to face with whether or not I should take their moral assessment as reflecting real facts about the world or if its just them telling me- with as much passion as they can muster- that the BEST flavor of ice cream is chocolate.

* hypocrisy is just one moral assessment I’m using as an example.  Any and all moral assessments are meant to be included for the purpose of this post.

 

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    • Timaahy on July 20, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    “Atheism logically entails moral relativism”.

    No, it really doesn’t.

    • Anthony on July 20, 2011 at 6:20 pm
      Author

    Yes, it really does.

    As this atheist professor of philosophy argues here.

    Quote:

    The long and the short of it is that I became convinced that atheism implies amorality; and since I am an atheist, I must therefore embrace amorality. I call the premise of this argument “hard atheism” because it is analogous to a thesis in philosophy known as “hard determinism.” The latter holds that if metaphysical determinism is true, then there is no such thing as free will. Thus, a “soft determinist” believes that, even if your reading of this column right now has followed by causal necessity from the Big Bang fourteen billion years ago, you can still meaningfully be said to have freely chosen to read it. Analogously, a “soft atheist” would hold that one could be an atheist and still believe in morality. And indeed, the whole crop of “New Atheists” (see Issue 78) are softies of this kind. So was I, until I experienced my shocking epiphany that the religious fundamentalists are correct: without God, there is no morality. But they are incorrect, I still believe, about there being a God. Hence, I believe, there is no morality.

    • Timaahy on July 20, 2011 at 7:22 pm

    Ah, I see where you went wrong… you listened to a philosopher.

    • Anthony on July 20, 2011 at 7:47 pm
      Author

    Oh, I didn’t derive my position from this guy. I do my own thinking, thank you very much. However, for as often as atheists are always throwing credentials in my face I thought it fun to be on the other side. A professor of philosopher who is an atheist says I’m right on this score. If you wish to dispute it, I suggest you take it up with him. I’m content to shovel off your counter-argument on this score off to him. 🙂

    • Timaahy on July 20, 2011 at 8:12 pm

    Yeah, no problem… I’ll just shovel Sam Harris on top.

    • Alex on July 26, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    I don’t think that atheism requires moral relativism. My problem with a morality based on the Bible is that it requires one to have such an elastic notion of “goodness” that what is good and what is evil becomes defined by what God states through his human intermediaries to be good or evil, rather than by what needs to be done in order for human beings to live together in peace and with justice.

    In our ordinary lives, it’s sometimes unclear what is the right thing to do, but sometimes it is very clear. For example, it would be wrong to hunt down and systematically massacre your male, female and infant American neighbors with swords. It doesn’t take belief in God to realize that that’s a wrong thing to do. It just takes a non-zero level of concern for your fellow human beings.

    And yet, once we get to the Bible, the same actions are represented by the prophet Samuel as being commanded by God (1 Samuel 15) for the Jews to do to the Amalekites. A God who can order this is not “good” in any way remotely meaningful or understandable to you and I; and if Christianity required our notions of what is “good” to expand to include the proposition “genocide is sometimes good”, then I would be quite aggressively uninterested in that notion of goodness.

    The truth is, humans do what they do; they are capable of extraordinary wickedness as well as extraordinary acts of kindness; and sometimes, as here, they justify their wickedness by claiming that God made them do it. At a minimum, that is an excuse that atheists cannot use.

    • Ortavia on August 12, 2011 at 6:27 pm

    Alex,

    The fact that you think God defines good and evil through human beings supposes that we somehow created good and evil, when in fact, this duality was here upon creation of the universe. God’s laws do not change; it is not Him who has an elastic notion of anything. Furthermore, since you are able to quote scripture, the bible has given man every instance of how to live together with peace, justice, kindness, love ,and patience with one another(1 Cor 13:4-13; Book of Proverbs;); and this is from a bird’s eye view from the beginning of time till the end. We are to flee from sin. However, we humans, whom you admit are capable of doing extraordinary wickedness as well as extraordinary acts of kindness (which implies free will) stray from the purity of His words; while some just plain don’t believe in it to begin with. It doesn’t take belief in God to know right from wrong (because He created everyone with the law written in their hearts), but it does take belief in God to know justice which is what you are attacking when you speak of the Amalekites.

    Example: Hypothetically speaking, you were all-knowing instead of God. All things being equal, you created humans, light and darkness, good and evil, right and wrong, wet and dry, etc. You have 2 groups of people: 1 group only did what was good and the other only did what was bad-we know from the bible they only steal, kill, and destroy; and that’s exactly what they would do to your good people. They either converted your good ones to do evil, killed them, or destroyed them to the point where there were no more good ones left to convert the bad ones. Where’s the justice?

    The Amalekites had received judgment because they were converting the good ones into bad ones. The wicked ones would not stop and had the choice not to because ‘we have free will’. That’s what needed to be done for those people to live in peace and with justice. Therefore, this was not considered wickedness. “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven…A time to kill, and a time to heal” Ecc 3:1. Everyone will have to give an account of their thoughts, words, and deeds; this includes those who use God’s name to do wicked.

    • Alex on August 12, 2011 at 8:00 pm

    Your explanation, Ortavia, does not make sense.

    The actual actions committed by the Amalekites of Saul’s day, as depicted in the Bible, are less severe in degree and in kind than the actions the Israelites commit on them. Indeed, 1 Samuel 30:1-3 mentions an Amalekite atrocity and specifically mentioned that though they took captives, they killed no-one. On the other hand, the Israelites killed every Amalekite (excepting their king), down to infants at the breast who cannot, to any reasonable person, be described as “doing only that which is bad”.

    God therefore cannot have looked at the actions of the Amalekites and deemed them more evil than the Israelites. And indeed, 1 Samuel makes it clear that it is not the current actions of the Amalekites that matter, but the actions of the Amalekites’ ancestors half a millennium before, which is the reason Samuel cites for committing genocide on them.

    We are left, therefore, with three choices:

    a) The cosmos is run by a God who believes that it is just and fair for Saul’s army to put infants at the breast to the sword on account of what their remote ancestors did.

    b) The cosmos is run by a God whose notions of justice and fairness are actually close enough to ours to be meaningful, instead of being opposite to what we would commonly call just or fair, and the writers of 1 Samuel are mistaken or self-serving to have supposed that God ordered Samuel to tell Saul to commit this genocide.

    c) There is no God at all, and this is just another case of primitive tribes crasting and tolchocking each other in ultra-violent ways, with no sense of morality beyond what their tribe wants.

    I’d go for B. I do not see fit to defend genocide and child murder as being just or fair, and I am aggressively uninterested in arguments that they are in fact just or fair. To even make that argument shows a warped sense of morality.

    • Ortavia on August 13, 2011 at 8:43 pm

    Problems often occur when human beings use their interpretation and understanding of words and concepts by what they think it should mean; our “opinion” matters not when it comes to absolute truth. God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, His ways are not our ways. Before I make any further points, especially about the fact that morality and justice are not the same, I’d like to know what’s your interpretation or understanding of justice? what’s your interpretation or understanding of morality?

    • Alex on August 14, 2011 at 10:38 am

    Problems will always occur when human beings try to use their understandings; but you are not using human understanding any less than I am using it. All you are doing is substituting for your own judgement about what God wants, the judgement of the Israelite and Greek writers of the Bible two millennia ago. Is there any particular reason why one should assume that the judgement of these unnamed men is superior to yours or mine?

    My understanding of justice and morality has been formed by growing up as a Christian and, as my reading and my understanding deepened, by the ethically related writings of philosophers and non-Christians as well. Having realized that parts of the Bible explicitly approve of child murder and genocide, it is obvious to me that it would be wrong to rely exclusively on the Bible as a guide to morality or justice. Why are child murder and genocide not obviously wrong to you?

    I do feel that the onus is on you to demonstrate why child murder and genocide are sometimes OK, rather than being on me to demonstrate that they are always wrong. They are things that do obvious, immediate and grave harm to other people, and would require an extraordinary level of proof that they were right in a larger sense in order to overcome the harm. The Bible does not offer that proof in 1 Samuel or anywhere else.

    • Alex on August 14, 2011 at 10:57 am

    In fact – let’s be clear – I cannot conceive of any circumstances where murdering a child would be an act of justice. Even the extreme case, where the child would in the end grow up to be a very evil human being who caused immense suffering to others, no human being could be privy to such knowledge ahead of time, and the Bible does not say that Saul’s army was privy to such knowledge here either, so there is no way to make it just. You would not, in reality, accept that argument made by another human being now, so why accept it for Saul’s army then?

    Likewise, there are no circumstances where genocide is justified, and for the same reasons. Himmler’s argument that “Nits make lice” was a revolting justification for killing Jewish children, and it is likewise invalid as a justification here for killing Amalekite children.

    • End Bringer on August 15, 2011 at 8:23 pm

    Same old issue. Same old flawed reasoning.

    Sadly for you a-theism DOES require moral relativism (technically it requires A-morality) as the only way for us to be obligated to behave in a certain way is for a transcendant Being to hold us accountable. In which case, under atheism there is absolutely no such thing as “justice” or ‘right and wrong’ and where acts of rape and murder are as morally relevant as a leaf fluttering to the ground (none at all).

    So to whine about the “injustice” of God ordering the killing of infants, is to apeal to something that inherently requires God to exist in order for your complaint to have any meaning.

    So the answer is actually – D) You are completely incorrect in your notion on how ‘good and evil’ work, and about the facts surrounding the Amalekites (as I said once before, you might as well complain about the death of Nazis in WW2, while ignoring everything they did to deserve it).

    • Ortavia on August 16, 2011 at 6:35 am

    Based on your understanding, deepened by related writings of philosophers and non-Christians, were any actions performed by the Amalekites (which also refers to an archetype of people)wrong?

    • Alex on August 16, 2011 at 7:22 am

    End Bringer,

    Is this what you call “justice”? I’m not very impressed by the actual results of what you recommend. Here you are trying to sell me on the notion of an objective morality that allows one to have a secure sense of right and wrong, while at the same time advocating for the ethical righteousness of genocide and child murder simply because the Bible says they’re OK.

    In reality, if you abdicate your moral judgement to a third party, in this case the writers of 1 Samuel, then your notion of what is just becomes infinitely elastic.

    Ortavia,

    Let’s look at exactly what the Amalekites are being massacred for, in 1 Samuel 15:

    Samuel said to Saul, “The LORD sent me to anoint you king over his people Israel; now therefore listen to the words of the LORD. 2 Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘I will punish the Amalekites for what they did in opposing the Israelites when they came up out of Egypt. 3 Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have; do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.

    This is about as explicit as it gets. The Amalekites are recorded as having “plundered” the Israelites in Saul’s time, and one can presume that that was wrong; but Samuel says that God says that the Amalekites must be slaughtered not for what they have done in Saul’s day, but for what their ancestors did to the Israelites five hundred years previously.

    I am very happy to concede that what the Amalekites did in Moses’s day in opposing the Israelites’ invasion of Canaan may well have been wrong (if in some cases authorized by God – see Numbers 14:42-45). However – and this is the key ethical point here – even if what the Amalekites did in the days of Joshua were the worst thing imaginable, every person who had done those things was very long dead by Saul’s time.

    End Bringer, you should take note of this too. Your analogy with Nazis is improper, because we’re talking about a situation where the people who get massacred are five hundred years removed from the actions that are explicitly stated as the reason for the massacre. We’re talking about the Nazis’ distant descendants and whether they deserve to be massacred, not the Nazis themselves.

    Ortavia, you ask me whether “any actions performed by the Amalekites were wrong”. I am sure that there were individual Amalekites who did wrong things, just as every individual person does wrong things. But the Bible explicitly contradicts the notion that the Amalekites of Saul’s day are being punished for their own rather than their ancestors’ sins, and in any case the notion of being punished for your own sins falls apart when dealing with infants at the breast.

    In order to believe this passage just, you have to believe that it is just to punish people not for their own, but for their ancestors’ sins. Neither you nor End Bringer, given your beliefs, should run away from what the Bible says here. The writer of 1 Samuel is clearly entirely comfortable with the notion of collective punishment of an entire nation, half a millennium after the crimes alleged. Are you?

    You say that “Amalekite” refers also to an archetype [of evil]. I know the argument. But that is an interpretation placed on the Bible, not the Bible itself. You can’t simply assume away the ethical problem here by declaring that the infants at the breast were fundamentally evil by virtue of their race!

    • End Bringer on August 16, 2011 at 8:11 am

    “Is this what you call “justice”? I’m not very impressed by the actual results of what you recommend.”

    I can’t say I really care as the only thing you seem to point to as a standard is ‘how I personally feel about it’.

    Since I’ve already gone through this matter and the reasoning behind it with you, that all you’ve been able to do is say ‘nuh-uh’, doesn’t impress me either.

    “Here you are trying to sell me on the notion of an objective morality that allows one to have a secure sense of right and wrong, while at the same time advocating for the ethical righteousness of genocide and child murder simply because the Bible says they’re OK.”

    And here you completely ignore how events are presented, and what led to them. Like I said, you might as well think Nazis Germany was minding it’s own buisness and singing songs over pitchers of beer when the Allies just decided to arbitrarily invade Europe. *snort*

    “In reality, if you abdicate your moral judgement to a third party, in this case the writers of 1 Samuel, then your notion of what is just becomes infinitely elastic.”

    Seeing how mine is based on facts and circumstances, while yours is based solely on your personal feelings of outrage, I think you’re the one whose actually more on the side of moral relativism than I am.

    • Alex on August 16, 2011 at 9:10 am

    I am disturbed, End Bringer, at the fact that you consider the notion that genocide and child murder are wrong to be matters of “my personal feelings”.

    In fact, I am operating according to a very simple rule here. Before you hold someone responsible for an action, they have to be aware that the action and to have played some part in bringing it about. Neither applies to the Amalekite babies, and the second cannot apply to the Amalekite adults. You can call that an emotional argument if you like, but it is an assumption underlying our entire criminal code.

    Your arbitrary rule, on the other hand, is that you can kill another human being if your military superior tells you that your ruler heard from his religious authority that God approves of the killing, provided that the God in question is the Christian God. You are only using this rule because you believe it is more important to adhere to the Bible than to oppose child murder and genocide. Your rule leads to more actual harm than mine does. Mine leads to less submission to external human authority than yours does, and you value submission to external human authority so highly that you are willing to countenance child murder rather than adopt a less submissive rule. That truly is a “slave morality” that worships only power.

    The reason the Bible gives, that the ancestors of the people massacred did something bad five hundred years previously, is a patently insufficient reason for massacring somebody. Americans dispossessed and slaughtered Native Americans, but that doesn’t make it right to massacre every non-Native-American American citizen now.

    You have offered no better reasons for why it was just to massacre these people, and indeed you are limited from doing so by the fact that this is the one reason the Bible gives. All you can therefore do is to archly inform me that I am being emotional and that if I had a mature understanding of the reasons why murdering children was so necessary, I would be all for it. Well, I don’t want that kind of mature understanding, and I think it monstrous that anybody would develop that kind of an “understanding”. People who support child murder and genocide can go screw themselves, and that’s also part of my moral code.

    • Alex on August 16, 2011 at 10:20 am

    “they have to be aware that the action” should read “they have to be aware of the action”.

    • JR on August 16, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    a definition of moral relativism, from herehttp://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Moral+Relativism

    The philosophized notion that right and wrong are not absolute values, but are personalized according to the individual and his or her circumstances or cultural orientation. It can be used positively to effect change in the law (e.g., promoting tolerance for other customs or lifestyles) or negatively as a means to attempt justification for wrongdoing or lawbreaking. The opposite of moral relativism is moral absolutism, which espouses a fundamental, Natural Law of constant values and rules, and which judges all persons equally, irrespective of individual circumstances or cultural differences.

    bible quote 1

    1 Samuel 15:
    Samuel said to Saul, “The LORD sent me to anoint you king over his people Israel; now therefore listen to the words of the LORD. 2 Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘I will punish the Amalekites for what they did in opposing the Israelites when they came up out of Egypt. 3 Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have; do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.

    Bible quote 2
    Jeremiah 33:12
    I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you: for I am merciful, saith the LORD, and I will not keep anger for ever

    bible quote 3
    Jeremiah 13:14
    And I will dash them one against another, even the fathers and the sons together, saith the LORD: I will not pity, nor spare, nor have mercy, but destroy them.

    bible quote 4
    Miach 7:18
    Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy.

    I would say with respect his mercy, the Lord is a moral relativist.

    Sometimes the lord feels like mercy, sometimes he don’t>>>> please read to the almond joy/ mounds jingle

    • End Bringer on August 16, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    \I would say with respect his mercy, the Lord is a moral relativist.

    Sometimes the lord feels like mercy, sometimes he don’t>>>> please read to the almond joy/ mounds jingle\

    Sadly for your argument mercy isn’t required to be applied fairly or evenly. When what’s a just punishment is death, it’s useless to argue when it’s applied.

    • End Bringer on August 16, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    “I am disturbed, End Bringer, at the fact that you consider the notion that genocide and child murder are wrong to be matters of “my personal feelings”.”

    Considering that your argument is based on nothing else (other than ignorance of the facts of history), it’s not really my problem.

    “In fact, I am operating according to a very simple rule here. Before you hold someone responsible for an action, they have to be aware that the action and to have played some part in bringing it about. Neither applies to the Amalekite babies, and the second cannot apply to the Amalekite adults. You can call that an emotional argument if you like, but it is an assumption underlying our entire criminal code.”

    You’re acting according to a simple rule alright. Sadly, it’s also completely wrong and overly simplistic. ‘Sin’ is not simply limited to actions. It’s a state of being. One that applies the moment you’re concieved. So given this, when a society as a whole has been condemned to death, the notion that even the children are “innocent” simply doesn’t apply.

    “Your arbitrary rule, on the other hand, is that you can kill another human being if your military superior tells you that your ruler heard from his religious authority that God approves of the killing, provided that the God in question is the Christian God.”

    Wrong. My “rule” is that the actual ‘Author of All Life’ has complete authority over all life. It also has the virtue of simplicity. And actually being moral and logical.

    “Mine leads to less submission to external human authority than yours does, and you value submission to external human authority so highly that you are willing to countenance child murder rather than adopt a less submissive rule. That truly is a “slave morality” that worships only power.”

    *yawn* Yours leads to egotistic rebellion against the Ultimate Authority who’s not swayed by arguments from outrage by a speck of dust. That can only be called ‘foolish’.

    “The reason the Bible gives, that the ancestors of the people massacred did something bad five hundred years previously, is a patently insufficient reason for massacring somebody. Americans dispossessed and slaughtered Native Americans, but that doesn’t make it right to massacre every non-Native-American American citizen now.”

    Patent ignorance and falsehoods. The actualy reason the Bible gives is that the entire society was guilty of acts of war and theft FOR ALL OF FIVE HUNDRED YEARS. Not for just a few acts 500 years ago, but for a consistent string of them spanning that entire time. That’s the underlying fact you refuse to admit. And in ignoring and denying to consider that fact in your argument it’s no different than ignoring the Holocaust and invasions Germany perpetrated when considering WW2.

    “All you can therefore do is to archly inform me that I am being emotional and that if I had a mature understanding of the reasons why murdering children was so necessary, I would be all for it.”

    Right now, I’m just waiting for you to have proper reading skills. ‘Maturity’ is for another time.

    I challenge you to prove where I ever said you’d “be all for it”. All I’ve ever said was that the act/s in the Bible are always conducted in isolation to specific targets and only on societies that are not in actuality as innocent as you’d like to believe.

    • Timaahy on August 16, 2011 at 8:43 pm

    Cross-posting this from the “Time to crack down…” thread, since it’s more relevant here.

    Anthony:

    Why should sentience make any difference?

    Do you think it would be sensible to be concerned with the pleasure and suffering of rocks?

    Moreover, ‘suffering’ and ‘pleasure,’ whilst key concepts in utilitarian thinking, are woefully simplistic. If a person takes ‘pleasure’ in causing suffering, in your book isn’t he acting morally?If a person kills another person instantly so that they do not suffer, and takes pleasure in doing so, was that a moral act?

    Come on, Anthony. You know the answer to those questions already. 🙂

    • JR on August 17, 2011 at 6:24 am

    I wasn’t arguing, I was demonstrating that your Lord is a moral relativist. He is by the definition provided;thus, you must be too.

    A premise of the original blog post was that atheists are moral relativists.

    • Alex on August 17, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    Eeeevil babies! They deserved to be put to the sword! Bad, bad babies so steeped in SIN!!!!!

    If the crime that the Amalekite infants were being punished for was the crime of being a sinner by virtue of being human, then why not massacre the Israelite children too and let God sort ’em out? That’s not what happens, because the Bible’s perspective here is that Israelite babies, despite being sinners too, deserve to live, and Amalekite babies, despite having sinned an equal amount in their short lives, deserve to die. They deserve to die for being racially guilty on the basis of what their remote ancestors did, and that’s the specific reason 1 Samuel cites – not the long string of provocations you mention, but the offense from long ago.

    You argue that there was a continual stream of provocations by the Amalekites extending over five hundred years (just as. more recently, European settlers argued that the Native Americans provided a continuous stream of provocations over the course of several hundred years and therefore deserved to be massacred). Even if this were true, that would not make genocide just, and it would not make massacring babies just.

    You keep trying to find some justification for this horror, but there is none that would not also extend to endorsing horrific acts of injustice in the here and now. If you don’t want to legitimate horrific but much less bloody modern-day acts like those of Breivik or Atta, then you are left with the notion that it was OK for Israelite soldiers to commit this specific act of child murder and genocide, unlike other acts of genocide and child murder that we might commit today, purely and simply because the Bible says that the order came from God.

    If that is all you are left with, then you have taken away any notion of God being “good”. If “Good”, to you, is what trusted person X (the “Samuel”) tells you unverifiably that God says it is, then that is “Good”, even if a rational person would term what he is alleged to have ordered “bad”. Of such stuff are murderous cults formed.

    Your God, unlike mine, is very willing to order massacres of people he disfavors, and we have no way of knowing here and now whether he has knocked off doing it in the 21st century. Maybe your bloodthirsty deity ordered 9/11 to happen. Maybe he ordered the Rwandan genocide or the Final Solution. Maybe your God will whisper in some nut’s ear tomorrow night and get him to shoot up a schoolful of kids. Hey, that Yahweh, what a prankster! He’s God, right, what can ya do?

    There are really no limits to what he might order, and there is therefore nothing meaningfully good or worthy of worship about your God. Such a being is not meaningfully different from Satan.

    Does a soldier in Saul’s army have “complete authority over all life”? Because that’s the entity that did the actual killing here. How does hearing something from his chief who heard it from Saul who heard it from Samuel who says he heard it from God, give the soldier “complete authority over all life”? How does it make it right for him to put babies to the sword?

    “the entire society was guilty of acts of war and theft FOR ALL OF FIVE HUNDRED YEARS.”

    Oooh, theft eh. And resisting a people who have arrived in the land you were living in and have told you to get out because their God gave your land to them. What awful, awful people for resisting that act of…may I say…theft?

    This is what fascinates me about this passage so much. It forces Christians to confront the true meaning of taking the Bible as the word of God. And its true meaning is: BAD! BAD BABIES! TO THE SWORD WITH YOU BECAUSE MY GOD SAYS SO! Who with even an iota of decency would subscribe to such a creed, once they know what it really entails?

    • End Bringer on August 17, 2011 at 3:26 pm

    It seems you can do no better than make the same empty assertions over and over like a broken record. With it being fueled by little more than your ego and your blatant ignorance and dismissal of the circumstances in which the Bible presents such events (the land was God’s and he gave them to the Irsaelites). Who with even an ounce of common sense would take the ramblings of a person thousands of years removed from the events over how they were presented during the times they were actually being lived through? I’m sure a hundred years from now some schmuck like you will blame the Allies as evil for killing some poor German janitor, and judge the whole affair “unjust” because of it. Pleeeease.

    • End Bringer on August 17, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    JR:

    “I wasn’t arguing, I was demonstrating that your Lord is a moral relativist. He is by the definition provided;thus, you must be too.”

    You are arguing. But your Scriptural examples doesn’t support your conclusion from the definition of “relativism” and “absolutism”. “Relativism” holds that what is ‘right and wrong’ is a matter of opinion. Little different than saying a particular flavour of icscream is “good” or “bad”. “Absolutism” holds ‘right and wrong’ as objective that isn’t affected by opinion.

    All your scriptural examples show is that God doesn’t give out His mercy in equal amounts to everyone. That hardly makes God a “moral relativist” as granting mercy or abstaining would be equally ‘right’. And that reason is because as the Authority for All Life, God’s objective position gives Him the perrogative to hand out sentencing however he chooses.

    “A premise of the original blog post was that atheists are moral relativists.”

    And it’s true. As atheism inherently means that the only beings to make judgements about ‘right and wrong’ comes down to an individual’s personal preferences. And as under a-theism human beings have no inherent worth in a meaningless existence, judging the killing of children as ‘wrong’ is as meaningless as thiniking vanilla is better than strawberry.

    • Timaahy on August 17, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    And as under a-theism human beings have no inherent worth in a meaningless existence

    Wrong again, EB. Under atheism (you really don’t need the hyphen), people don’t believe in god. Atheists themselves will have a wide variety of views as to the inherent worth of human beings. You will find some that will say that a human life is worth no more than a cow’s. I suspect, however, that a large proportion of atheists are also humanists, and under humanism, every human life is sacred. Not just the ones that god randomly picked to occupy a shitty piece of land in the middle east.

    • Anthony on August 17, 2011 at 5:02 pm
      Author

    “I suspect, however, that a large proportion of atheists are also humanists, and under humanism, every human life is sacred.”

    Unless they are still in their mother’s womb, of course. Or taking too long to die and exhausting society’s resources in the meantime.

    “Not just the ones that god randomly picked”

    This is just weird. And completely out of step with the Scriptures, old and new.

    “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.”

    Isaiah 49:6

    • Timaahy on August 17, 2011 at 5:31 pm

    With abortion, in the vast majority of cases we’re either talking about a small lump of cells (not a human being) or a regrettable consequence of saving the life of the mother. And with euthanasia, I doubt you will find a single humanist who would advocate a forced termination due to economic considerations.

    But perhaps that is a conversation for another day. 🙂

    Why is my statement regarding the randomness of Yahweh’s favouritism weird?

    • Anthony on August 17, 2011 at 5:47 pm
      Author

    “With abortion, in the vast majority of cases we’re either talking about a small lump of cells (not a human being)”

    But that is not what you said. You said, and I’ll quote again, “every human life is sacred.”

    There is no doubt that this ‘small lump of cells’ is a human life. I don’t think that is disputed by anyone, really. Whether or not it is a human person is what I’ve heard disputed. Would you like to take back your assertion and clarify it, and remove the emphasis on every?

    For now I’ll leave aside the fact that you and I are just a slightly larger lump of cells.

    “or a regrettable consequence of saving the life of the mother. And with euthanasia, I doubt you will find a single humanist who would advocate a forced termination due to economic considerations.”

    Would it make a difference to you if I gave you examples of exactly that sort of thinking?

    “Why is my statement regarding the randomness of Yahweh’s favouritism weird?”

    First of all, it’s as if you haven’t any broad understanding of the Christian Scriptures at all. I gave you one example from Isaiah, where God is reported as saying that confining his affection to the Jews is ‘too small a thing.’ This isn’t an isolated sentiment, but you seem to be wholly unaware of it. There is even a whole book of the Old Testament dedicated to God’s attempt to spare a nation that was not Israel.

    Also, considering the beating that God allowed to fall upon the Israelites as recorded by the Old Testament, I think the notion of ‘favorite’ that you are apparently running with is much different than how it is presented in the OT. That is, there are the facts, and then there is your opinion, and the two are far apart. 🙂

    • Timaahy on August 17, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    Would you like to take back your assertion and clarify it, and remove the emphasis on every?

    No, I’ll just replace “human life” with “human person”.

    For now I’ll leave aside the fact that you and I are just a slightly larger lump of cells.

    And I’ll leave aside the fact that “slightly larger” doesn’t even begin to cover the difference between an embryo and an adult.

    Would it make a difference to you if I gave you examples of exactly that sort of thinking?

    Yes, I’d be interested to see some examples.

    It has been a while since I’ve read the bible (and, actually, I’ve never read the whole thing), but I am planning to start reading it again soon, and document it on my blog (with the usual witty-insights :-)). So I am perfectly willing to take your word for it on a great many matters Scriptural… but… you’re not seriously trying to suggest that the Jews aren’t depicted as Yahweh’s chosen people, are you? That would certainly be news to the Jews in the pews.

    • Anthony on August 17, 2011 at 6:46 pm
      Author

    “And I’ll leave aside the fact that “slightly larger” doesn’t even begin to cover the difference between an embryo and an adult.”

    Right. One difference being the embryo cannot speak up in its own defense. But you’ve put your finger on it: humanists think that humans get to decide what value other human ‘lives’ have.

    “Yes, I’d be interested to see some examples.”

    To really answer this would take some time and you probably wouldn’t believe me, anyway. It’s best to see for yourself. You may wish to research what is going on in the Netherlands as a start. Involuntary euthanasia is reaching epidemic proportions, and I assure you, it isn’t fundamentalist Christians advocating such things and carrying them out. This old article gives you three names to start your research, Ezekiel Emmanuel, Cass Sunstein, and Barack Obama.

    At least one of those names you should easily recognize. The other two are high ranking members of Obama’s administration right now.

    I found this site pretty easily: http://www.hsnsw.asn.au/euthanasia.html

    The HSNSW means: Humanist Society of NSW, so I think they are in your neighborhood. These humanists think that ‘senile degenerates’ might be a plausible section of the population to whack, but they’re more comfortable in actually asserting that non-voluntary euthanasia be employed “If a baby is born with severe mental or physical disabilities,” … “before any person becomes emotionally attached to it.”

    The reason? “Their continued existence burdens relatives, friends and the community, and often, though not always, themselves.” Emphasis mine.

    This particular group in 1973 believed that parents should make this call, but humanist Jacob Appel thinks that children with disabilities should be euthanized without parental consent. This is a variation on the Groningen Protocol.

    Question to you, Tim: does a slightly larger lump of cells that has passed out of the birth canal that has a birth defect count as a human life? Or a human being? Because Jacob Appel is a humanist, and he thinks you should kill it, whether the parents want to keep it or not.

    Granted, Appel does not state this in economic terms- that’s where Emmanuel, Sunstein, and Obama come in. They are the ones more likely to frame it in economic terms.

    (Oh heck, throw in Peter Singer, while you’re at it. 🙂
    Peter Singer contended that a 2 year old still doesn’t qualify as a human person and can be morally killed.)

    “but… you’re not seriously trying to suggest that the Jews aren’t depicted as Yahweh’s chosen people, are you?”

    I’m contending that your notion of ‘chosen’ is at variance with how it is presented in the OT. You say it as though being chosen as favorite means every blessing and every advantage over every other human. This is just not how it is presented. It does come with privileges- according to the OT, God was visibly present to the Israelites- but it also comes with higher standards and higher punishments.

    Before you just start reading the OT, I’d pick up a book or two by Christians on it. Putting the OT into its wider context is critical in understanding it. Eg, did you realize that long after the Exodus, according to the OT, God remained visibly present to the Israelites? If they disobeyed God even though there was no question of his existence or presence or attention, does this possibly give new perspective on why God was so hard on them? I give that just as an example. At the very least, I hope that you’ll read the whole thing FIRST and then AFTERWARDS opine about it. You need the big picture, or else its just pot shots.

    If you don’t want to read a book, I will be teaching an online course that is a survey of the OT that could give you some of that important context.

    • Timaahy on August 17, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    Thanks for the links… I’ll look into them tonight.

    One quick question though… isn’t Obama a Christian?

    • Anthony on August 17, 2011 at 7:05 pm
      Author

    Isn’t Obama a humanist?

    You said: “And with euthanasia, I doubt you will find a single humanist who would advocate a forced termination due to economic considerations.” (emphasis mine)

    I’m going to stay out of the question of whether or not Obama is a Christian or not because what you asked me for was for humanists. And Obama is at least that. He has said some juicy things about the high costs that the elderly put on society. I hope you find some of them in your own research.

    • Timaahy on August 17, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    Yes, exactly, that was my point. We were talking about humanists, and you threw Obama into the mix, and I thought we was Christian. I’m not sure you can be both.

    Possibly he is the only one who knows if he is really a Christian. The American voting public isn’t exactly enamoured with the idea of humanist / atheist politicians, so his public statements of Christianity may be more pragmatic than sincere.

    • Anthony on August 17, 2011 at 8:09 pm
      Author

    I would say that his public statements re: Christianity are more pragmatic than sincere; personally, I think he is pretty much a dyed in the wool secular humanist. Even if he calls himself a Christian, his viewpoints socially and politically are indistinguishable from progressive secular humanists in virtually all respects. I say if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck. Surely you agree that he doesn’t count as anything like a ‘fundamentalist’ or ‘evangelical’ Christian.

    • JR on August 17, 2011 at 8:49 pm

    To say that your Lord is not a moral relativist is kind of silly. He spreads his mercy with respect to the circumstance at hand and your Lord’s perspective. Same for murder. Sometimes murder is acceptable(Samuel), sometimes it is not(ten commandments). Clearly, here you see the relative nature of your Lord’s morals, kinda like strawberry or vanilla ice cream, to put it in your terms.

    Atheism is the rejection of a god or gods. Nothing more, nothing less. As for needing a deity for moral behavior, I reject that on multiple grounds. For purposes here, consider that being an atheist does not make you a nihilist or an existentialist.
    For you, the existence of god makes killing children wrong. So, if you were an atheist you would be alright with child murder? That seems to be your implication with this statement:

    under a-theism human beings have no inherent worth in a meaningless existence, judging the killing of children as ‘wrong’ is as meaningless as thinking vanilla is better than strawberry.

    • Timaahy on August 17, 2011 at 9:45 pm

    No, I don’t think he’s a fundamentalist or evalgelical Christian. But is it not possible that those viewpoints which you call humanist are compatible with his own interpretation of Christian teaching?

    In Australia, some 65% of the population identifies as Christian, yet support for voluntary euthanasia is at 85%. Does this mean that a large number of Australian Christians are kidding themselves?

    • Anthony on August 17, 2011 at 10:13 pm
      Author

    Hey, you’re the one that tried to make a hard distinction between humanists and Christians, asserting that one can’t be both at the same time. I’m inclined to agree with you, depending on definitions, of course. But this was your distinction, not mine. If it makes a difference to you that Obama self-identifies himself as a Christian, whatever. Jacob Appel, Peter Singer, and Cass Sunstein certainly do not. I don’t know where Emanuel stands; he’s Jewish if anything. But then I also threw you in the direction of an actual humanist organization. And just a reminder, the issue raised was involuntary euthanasia with economic considerations in play, not voluntary euthanasia.

    There is ample material by humanists that you would consider genuine humanists that I don’t think we need to get bogged down with musings about the nature of genuine Christianity; all the more, since I’m normally a sucker for such musings. But in this case, its a distraction. I know that you think humanism (atheistic secularistic) values every human person. I think that individual humanists might think that, but not if they take their views to their logical conclusions… which many humanists do. Everybody is equal, but some people are more equal than others.

    Some starting examples have already been provided.

    • Timaahy on August 17, 2011 at 10:42 pm

    We’re not bogged down… just a little side-tracked. Which, I might add, is the result of you using a professed Christian as an example of humanist morality. It matters not at all to me if Obama is Christian… unless you want to use him as an exmaple of a humanist.

    But yes, you did provide plenty of other examples, which I will look at when I have time. I merely thought it odd that you mentioned Obama, so thought I would check your reason for doing so.

    Sorry if I have frustrated you with a little detour.

    • Alex on August 18, 2011 at 6:34 am

    Throwing in a lot of topics here, aren’t we Anthony? It’s almost as if you’d prefer not to be discussing the problems 1 Samuel causes for your notion that Christians are moral absolutists and atheists are moral relativists.

    Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that every clump of cells, including those sadly lost to miscarriage, constitutes a human life. If they are, does that make it any less wrong to slaughter babies in the name of your God? Or do you stand with End Bringer on this, that slaughtering babies in the name of God can sometimes be right?

    To people with economic training, what Ezekiel Emmanuel and Cass Sunstein (neither of whom are “high-ranking members of Obama’s administration right now”) argue for is perfectly intelligible. They are arguing that the current healthcare system already makes value judgements about whose lives are worth more effort to save, viz. people with health insurance versus people without. They argue that in the context of finite healthcare funds, we should ration rationally rather than irrationally, and that it saves more lives to spend a given number of dollars on preventive care for ten young people than to give a dying person an additional couple of weeks of life on a ventilator. Their reasoning is cold, but it is hard to argue with from an economic perspective. However, economic utilitarianism, which that is, is only one of many systems of ethics. If you prefer a value system that would sacrifice the many additional years of life of ten people to the additional two weeks of life for one person, then you can by all means hold that view; just make it consciously, aware of the tradeoff involved, not unconsciously.

    • Alex on August 18, 2011 at 6:43 am

    End Bringer,

    It is I who is relying on the events as described in 1 Samuel, and looking at the actual reasons its writer gives for the massacre of babies, instead of making up my own reasons that will retrospectively render it more acceptable.

    All you are arguing is that there may be additional matter not included in the story that was available to people at the time that would make it clear that it was right. Possibly.

    But in the story as presented, the justification for the massacre is ridiculous on its face, the massacre itself is wildly disproportionate to the cited crime from five hundred years before, and the writer doesn’t give two hoots about it because his side won. That’s your Bible, son. I didn’t put that story in there and claim it was holy; you lot did.

    You want to defend a belief in Biblical inerrancy, go ahead; but by doing so, you should be conscious of the fact that you are putting that belief above a belief that child murder and genocide are wrong. That both sickens me, and, to my mind, insults the God who is the author of all that is good and just.

    • JR on August 18, 2011 at 7:51 am

    Tim,

    Based on the legal definition for moral relativism:

    “The philosophized notion that right and wrong are not absolute values, but are personalized according to the individual and his or her circumstances or cultural orientation. It can be used positively to effect change in the law (e.g., promoting tolerance for other customs or lifestyles) or negatively as a means to attempt justification for wrongdoing or lawbreaking. The opposite of moral relativism is moral absolutism, which espouses a fundamental, Natural Law (the unwritten body of universal moral principles that underlie the ethical and legal norms by which human conduct is sometimes evaluated and governed) of constant values and rules, and which judges all persons equally, irrespective of individual circumstances or cultural differences.”

    Doesn’t it seem reasonable to assert that the Christian God is a moral relativist?

    • Alex on August 18, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    Back on Sept. 24 – will be checking up on my nonprofit’s operations in Africa. Blessings to all of you in this discussion!

    • End Bringer on August 18, 2011 at 2:19 pm

    “It is I who is relying on the events as described in 1 Samuel, and looking at the actual reasons its writer gives for the massacre of babies, instead of making up my own reasons that will retrospectively render it more acceptable.”

    That’s a total crock.

    You can barely bring yourself to admit that the Amalekites were openly hostile to the Israelites for the ENTIRE 500 years before they were wiped out. You also cast doubt on whether the command was ACTUALLY given by God simply because it’s presented by a prophet (as a lot of God’s commands were), in total ignorance of the fact in the developing days of Israel God’s presence was irrefutably known.

    “All you are arguing is that there may be additional matter not included in the story that was available to people at the time that would make it clear that it was right. Possibly.”

    All you are doing is picking and choosing what presented facts you will believe in order to stay on your high horse. And you think you can get away with that, because no one is alive from that time to dispute you. I’m not arguing a single thing that’s not already in the Bible (as a whole).

    “But in the story as presented, the justification for the massacre is ridiculous on its face, the massacre itself is wildly disproportionate to the cited crime from five hundred years before, and the writer doesn’t give two hoots about it because his side won. That’s your Bible, son. I didn’t put that story in there and claim it was holy; you lot did.”

    See? You aren’t relying on anything but a few isolated verses and chucking everything else out the window. That’s a flimsi argument made from ignorance kid.

    “You want to defend a belief in Biblical inerrancy, go ahead; but by doing so, you should be conscious of the fact that you are putting that belief above a belief that child murder and genocide are wrong. That both sickens me, and, to my mind, insults the God who is the author of all that is good and just.”

    I don’t even understand where the issue of inerrency comes into this. I’m guessing your blind emotion is making your argument even more disjointed than it already was.

    I personally don’t give a hoot about what does or doesn’t sicken you. The only one insulting God here is you, for dismissing His perogatives, and condmening His authority over His creation. Because it’s Him being the Author of ALL LIFE along with being good and just, where all your ranting inevitably fails at.

    • End Bringer on August 18, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    JR:

    “To say that your Lord is not a moral relativist is kind of silly. He spreads his mercy with respect to the circumstance at hand and your Lord’s perspective. Same for murder. Sometimes murder is acceptable(Samuel), sometimes it is not(ten commandments). Clearly, here you see the relative nature of your Lord’s morals, kinda like strawberry or vanilla ice cream, to put it in your terms.”

    I’ll skip the lecture on whether all forms of “killing” is “murder”, to point out that nothing you’ve shown supports “relativism”. What it supports is “objectivism”.

    Definition of “objectivism” – is the meta-ethical position that some system of ethics, or a universal ethic, applies universally, that is, for “all similarly situated individuals”,regardless of culture, race, sex, religion, nationality, sexuality, or any other distinguishing feature. What is right or wrong is independent of custom or opinion (as opposed to relativism), but not necessarily that what is right or wrong is independent of context or consequences (as in absolutism).

    As such, unlike relativism that simply boils down to opinion, objective morality is independant of opinion, but dependent on circumstances. Shoving a lady to the ground may be wrong if it’s just for fun, but if a car is about to hit her THEN the circumstances dictate it would be right.

    I regards to God’s mercy, you fail to realize He’s not obligated to give ANY mercy at all. Just like giving money to a single charity doesn’t mean you have to give the same or any amount to every charity organization in existance. That’s not “moral relativism”, that’s simply the perogative of you being the owner of your money. Same with God and His mercy.

    “Atheism is the rejection of a god or gods. Nothing more, nothing less. As for needing a deity for moral behavior, I reject that on multiple grounds. For purposes here, consider that being an atheist does not make you a nihilist or an existentialist.’

    I reject the notion A-theism is “nothing more, nothing less” than simply not believing in any diety. It comes with far more baggage than many would like to believe. As in the case of morality. It’s not that you need a deity to be moral. You need a deity for “morality” to exist AT ALL. Being an a-theist DOES entail ‘a-morality’.

    “For you, the existence of god makes killing children wrong. So, if you were an atheist you would be alright with child murder?”

    Hehehe. Believe me, if I were an atheist you’d find a lot of things I’d be inclined to do…disturbing.

    And you miss my point – under a-theism it doesn’t matter WHAT one feels about anything. It’s just your personal opinion, and is essentially meaningless in a meaningless/guideless existence. As such not liking child murder is equivalent to not liking vanilla. It doesn’t matter, least of all to anyone else.

    • Timaahy on August 18, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    JR,

    I would say he’s a moral absolutist who changes his definition of mortality whenever it suits him. 🙂

    But seriously.

    • Timaahy on August 18, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    EB – I trust you are aware that “atheism”, irrespective of whether it is “only” a disbelief in gods, is unhyphenated in its normal English usage?

    Every time you write “a-theism” you force my brain to read it as “a… theism”, with a not-insubstantial pause between the first two syllables.

    But that’s the least of your worries.

    Believe me, if I were an atheist you’d find a lot of things I’d be inclined to do… disturbing.

    Do tell!

    But seriously… was that a joke? Free from the yoke of divine dictatorship, you’d embark on a voyage of depravity?

    See, you insist that atheistic morality is “just personal opinion”, but Christians are proportionally much better represented in your nation’s gaols.

    Let’s think about this. If:
    1. Society has set up a kind of group morality;
    2. Transgression are punished with incarceration; and
    3. There are proportionally far more Christians in prison than atheists;

    Then:
    Does that not mean that an atheist’s personally-derived morality conforms much better to societal morality than a Christian’s?

    As such not liking child murder is equivalent to not liking vanilla.

    Haha… ah, EB. Only you could equate the taking of a human life with something that is not only inconsequential but completely out of our control.

    • Timaahy on August 18, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    As such, unlike relativism that simply boils down to opinion, objective morality is independant of opinion, but dependent on circumstances. Shoving a lady to the ground may be wrong if it’s just for fun, but if a car is about to hit her THEN the circumstances dictate it would be right.

    Ergo, atheists are not moral relativists.

    Thanks EB!

    • Timaahy on August 18, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    And good luck in Africa, Alex!

    • Timaahy on August 18, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    Sorry for all the short comments… keep thinking of something after I hit submit. I just wanted to point out the small issue with the title of the original post.

    You say that arguing with an atheist about the morality of a thing is pointless. What you haven’t seemed to realise is that, with an atheist, at least an argument is possible.

    • JR on August 19, 2011 at 6:33 am

    “Definition of “objectivism” – is the meta-ethical position that some system of ethics, or a universal ethic, applies universally, that is, for “all similarly situated individuals”,regardless of culture, race, sex, religion, nationality, sexuality, or any other distinguishing feature. What is right or wrong is independent of custom or opinion (as opposed to relativism), but not necessarily that what is right or wrong is independent of context or consequences (as in absolutism).”

    EB I reject this as definition of objectivism. I would like you to cite your source.

    The definition of objectivism, as coined by Ayn Rand:

    Reality exists as an objective absolute—facts are facts, independent of man’s feelings, wishes, hopes or fears.

    Reason (the faculty which identifies and integrates the material provided by man’s senses) is man’s only means of perceiving reality, his only source of knowledge, his only guide to action, and his basic means of survival.

    She really did EB. An atheist woman coined objectivism.

    Shoving a lady to the ground may be wrong if it’s just for fun, but if a car is about to hit her THEN the circumstances dictate it would be right.

    Let’s look at your moral point:
    it is universally wrong to shove a lady to the ground for fun.

    Then, you alter the entire meaning by not pushing a lady down for fun.

    That violates the universal nature of your claim. You have sufficiently altered the original premise. Not as context, but fundamentally restating a different moral.

    My question for you:
    In the second part of your example. Is the lady still being pushed down for fun?

    If she is still being pushed for fun and it results in her not being hit by the car. I will reject the universal nature of your moral example. The pusher has no knowledge of his saving her. Thus, committing an immoral act that has a positive result does not make an act moral. You cannot parse action from motive. Part of “context” must include motive.

    • JR on August 23, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    EB wrote:
    Some things are so blatantly ridiculous, they can only deserve to be mocked.

    stathei wrote:
    I find your beliefs laughable and mock them

    I’m sorry that is just funny. Now EB can never say he doesn’t sometimes agree with stathei.

    Better check their I.P. addresses, EB might be a stathei ruse. Okay, fun is over….wait?? who’s that….

    T. Jefferson:
    Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions

    Could it be: EB, stathei, Jefferson??????

    Or maybe I can make omissions and alterations to make an erroneous point.
    Something to think about EB?
    It’s bad policy for the ends to justify the means.

    • Timaahy on August 25, 2011 at 12:34 am

    You still there, EB?

    Were you joking when you said “if I were an atheist you’d find a lot of things I’d be inclined to do…disturbing”?

    • Stathei on August 26, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    JR, you have unmasked me!! It is I, Stathei, who have been masquerading as “EB”, an utterly moronic, completely amoral, potentially murderous Christie extremist, in order to make Fundies look bad. Dang, the show is over…

    • JR on August 30, 2011 at 6:22 am

    Tim,

    I feel I should change my name to thread ender. I have now ended 4 threads here. Don’t worry, I will find intellectually stronger playmates, and bring you to them. There, we can destroy their fantasies; thus, the conversion of an atheist Internet by Tim has begun.

    • JR on August 30, 2011 at 6:28 am

    Stathei,

    who have been masquerading as “EB”, an utterly moronic, completely amoral, potentially murderous Christie extremist, in order to make Fundies look bad.

    I read that when I need a boost.

    • Stathei on August 30, 2011 at 6:09 pm

    JR,

    I think ending threads is a good sign when you’re dealing with people who like to talk as much as these guys. Glad to give you a boost, but EB’s reply would have been a LOT funnier!

    • End Bringer on August 31, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    Timmy: “You still there, EB?

    Were you joking when you said “if I were an atheist you’d find a lot of things I’d be inclined to do…disturbing”?”

    Yes. This may be surprising, but my life does not revolve around every yahoo I meet on the internet. As such, you may find me unresponsive for awhile.

    And no, I was not joking.

    • End Bringer on August 31, 2011 at 6:47 pm

    “Let’s think about this. If:
    1. Society has set up a kind of group morality;
    2. Transgression are punished with incarceration; and
    3. There are proportionally far more Christians in prison than atheists;

    Then:
    Does that not mean that an atheist’s personally-derived morality conforms much better to societal morality than a Christian’s?”

    I’ve come across this argument a number of times, and find it absolutely hilarious.

    You do realize in the Third Reich sheltering Jews would have gotten you imprisoned, right? Thousands of blacks went to jail just for sitting in the “wrong” restaurant. So this idea that going to jail is some kind of litmus test for morality is ridiculously simplistic. To say nothing of the fact for a statistical minority like a-theists (yes, I’m aware this annoys you Timmy. Get over it.) being a minority in the prison system isn’t too indicative of anything.

    • End Bringer on August 31, 2011 at 7:07 pm

    JR:

    \The definition of objectivism, as coined by Ayn Rand:

    Reality exists as an objective absolute—facts are facts, independent of man’s feelings, wishes, hopes or fears.

    Reason (the faculty which identifies and integrates the material provided by man’s senses) is man’s only means of perceiving reality, his only source of knowledge, his only guide to action, and his basic means of survival.

    She really did EB. An atheist woman coined objectivism.\

    She seems to have just paraphrased MY definition of objectionism being irrespective of personal opinion. Which you bizarrely reject at the same time.

    And the notion of Reason being the only means of percieving reality (through the senses) is simply question begging assertion. Tell me, what reason do we have to trust in Reason? Just because we must? Pffffft.

    \Let’s look at your moral point:
    it is universally wrong to shove a lady to the ground for fun.

    Then, you alter the entire meaning by not pushing a lady down for fun.

    That violates the universal nature of your claim. You have sufficiently altered the original premise. Not as context, but fundamentally restating a different moral.\

    How so? You got anything, but pure assertion, to back
    All my example seems to do is highlight that in one scenerio a person’s personal amusement was the motive. In the other it’s to save a life. So how does this \violate\ the universal nature of the claim that it’s wrong to hurt people just for kicks, but it’s good to help people?

    \In the second part of your example. Is the lady still being pushed down for fun?

    If she is still being pushed for fun and it results in her not being hit by the car. I will reject the universal nature of your moral example. The pusher has no knowledge of his saving her. Thus, committing an immoral act that has a positive result does not make an act moral. You cannot parse action from motive. Part of “context” must include motive\

    The second example was pretty explicit in that it wasn’t motivated by personal amusement. I think you’re just grasping for an argument when in reality you’re agreeing with me.

    the question you must face is: Where does this objective standard come from under A-theism? What is it based on?

    Because in a guideless universe that doesn’t care about our personal lives, the two would be effectively equal acts. Just like one person preferring vanilla, while another prefers chocolate and that having meaning in the cosmic scale of things. Because the only beings that can offer judgement under an a-theistic life is human beings, it ultimately comes down to personal opinion. Hurting someone for laughs may be wrong for you, but not for the next guy.

    The only way an objective morality can work is if it comes from a source that transcends all of humanity (or reality) in order to hold us all to the same standard. And that ultimately does not point to evidence for a-theism.

    • JR on August 31, 2011 at 8:39 pm

    end bringer,

    “She seems to have just paraphrased MY definition of objectionism being irrespective of personal opinion. Which you bizarrely reject at the same time.”

    Bawhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!

    It is this warped delusional sense which empowered your hero Hitler to power.

    Are you interested in seriously having a discussion? I think it is about time we had. You claim the existence of a Christian God, then when pushed degenerate to this garbage.

    You, Tony, and others make a claim to Christianity’s truth. Then I question this claim, and it degenerates to this absurdity.

    If Christianity is true, Then it should be able to withstand free inquiry. You think could put an honest effort forward?

    To accuse Ayn Rand of paraphrasing you, a guy probably living in his mom”s basement. The woman died while you were still playing with your GI joe toys. That would be 1982.

    • End Bringer on August 31, 2011 at 9:42 pm

    “Bawhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!

    It is this warped delusional sense which empowered your hero Hitler to power. ”

    It’s complete fabrications (if not utter lies) like this comment, that has absolutely no basis with anything I’ve ever said, that shows it’s not me who’s delusional.

    And what’s with sheep sound?

    “Are you interested in seriously having a discussion? I think it is about time we had. You claim the existence of a Christian God, then when pushed degenerate to this garbage.”

    Given your short record here, I can say it’s fundamentally impossible for me to have a serious discussion with a guy who has the debating skills of a 5-year-old.

    “You, Tony, and others make a claim to Christianity’s truth. Then I question this claim, and it degenerates to this absurdity.

    If Christianity is true, Then it should be able to withstand free inquiry. You think could put an honest effort forward?”

    I can honestly say we’ve put more effort than you deserve. That you can’t grasp that mature people don’t waste their time answering every little issue from those who can do little but whine and make baseless assertions, just says something about your own maturity level. Seriously when all you do is respond with “garbage” and “absurdity” and NOTHING ELSE, that you turn around and whine about not being taken seriously just shows you to be a troll looking to make a scene.

    “To accuse Ayn Rand of paraphrasing you, a guy probably living in his mom”s basement. The woman died while you were still playing with your GI joe toys. That would be 1982.”

    Poor literary and reasoning skills doesn’t help you either. As I didn’t accuse anyone of paraphrasing me. I said her definition was just a paraphrase of the one I provided, and both amount to the same thing.

    I’m still half-convinced you’re really Stathei, given the idea of two people who act like this is more depressing than I’d care to contemplate.

    • Timaahy on September 1, 2011 at 1:50 am

    Yes. This may be surprising, but my life does not revolve around every yahoo I meet on the internet. As such, you may find me unresponsive for awhile.

    Are you aware of the phrase “Brevity is the soul of wit”? You really should have stopped at “yes”.

    And no, I was not joking.

    Right. Now that we know that the only thing keeping you vaguely moral is a randomly selected holy book, would you care to enlighten us? What kind of things would you start doing if you became an atheist?

    • JR on September 1, 2011 at 10:31 am

    end bringer wrote:
    “She seems to have just paraphrased MY definition of objectionism (sic) being irrespective of personal opinion. Which you bizarrely reject at the same time.”

    and then end bringer wrote:
    “Poor literary and reasoning skills doesn’t help you either. As I didn’t accuse anyone of paraphrasing me. I said her definition was just a paraphrase of the one I provided, and both amount to the same thing.”

    BWAWWWWWWHHAHHHHAHHHHHAHHA!

    How do you expect anyone to take you seriously when you say that you didn’t say something, when, in fact, you did?

    Twice now you have accused Ayn Rand of paraphrasing you. If what you meant was: “MY definition of objectionism (sic) seems to have been paraphrased from hers,” then that is what you should have said – not the other way around.

    Why not start by citing your source?

    Poor literary and reasoning skills do not help you.

    • End Bringer on September 1, 2011 at 11:34 am

    “Are you aware of the phrase “Brevity is the soul of wit”? You really should have stopped at “yes”.”

    It’s also the soul of those with a limited vocabulary. And if a single sentence is too verbose for you, I have to wonder what you’re doing on the internet.

    “Right. Now that we know that the only thing keeping you vaguely moral is a randomly selected holy book, would you care to enlighten us? What kind of things would you start doing if you became an atheist?”

    *yawn* Actually the only thing keeping me from commiting me from acting on every impulse I feel, is my recognition in Mankinds flawed nature, which isn’t really inherently acknowledged in A-theism. For a-theism things like rape, theft, and murder are as legitimate for human beings as it is for every other animal. And there’s no inherent reason why we shouldn’t behave any differently.

    The notion that Mankind is flawed and intrinsically different and should behave differently only comes from that “randomly selected wholely book”. And I follow it because it’s the only belief that accurately reflects reality.

    • End Bringer on September 1, 2011 at 11:45 am

    JR:

    Still waiting for you to explain your constant use of sheep sounds.

    “How do you expect anyone to take you seriously when you say that you didn’t say something, when, in fact, you did?”

    I expect people (who seem desperate for ME to take them seriously) to have better reading skills than the level you currently display. As for me, I don’t care an iota what other people think of me. I’m not so insecure to give faceless strangers that kind of power over me.

    “Twice now you have accused Ayn Rand of paraphrasing you. If what you meant was: “MY definition of objectionism (sic) seems to have been paraphrased from hers,” then that is what you should have said – not the other way around.”

    Again, this is just a false assertion stemming from your inability to read what’s ACTUALLY being written, and just make up what you think is being said. Which SJ has called you out on numerous times.

    I can accept that perhaps the phrasing could have been misunderstood, but now that I’ve clarified the issue, your continued wailing on this to avoid any real topic of substance just shows you’re not interested in a “serious discussion”.

    “Why not start by citing your source?

    Poor literary and reasoning skills do not help you.”

    I’m amused by a guy who cries for the citing of sources, yet never seems to answer a challange to provide where I have made a statement you’ve blatantly made up.

    And parroting my sentences back to me, just cements my conclusion you’re a kid looking to shout invectives better suited for a playground than have an intelligent discussion.

    • Timaahy on September 1, 2011 at 5:03 pm

    It’s also the soul of those with a limited vocabulary

    Who’s talking about vocabulary? I was talking about the number of words you choose, not the number of words you have to choose from.

    And if a single sentence is too verbose for you…

    1. The verbosity of a single sentence must be measured against the idea it is intended to convey.
    2. You used three sentences, not one.

    …I have to wonder what you’re doing on the internet.

    Me? I’m only here because my life revolves around every yahoo I meet.

    *yawn* [word salad]

    Instead of yawning, how about answering the question? What are these “impulses” that you would give into, if you weren’t a Christ-ian?

    Also… you might like to make use of your browser’s copy and paste functions. I’d hate for people to think I actually wrote “wholely book”.

    Still waiting for you to explain your constant use of sheep sounds.

    Perhaps because JR knows that the lord is your shepherd?

    EB, you really need to look up the meaning of “paraphrase”. I don’t think anyone actually thought you meant that Rand paraphrased you, but that is what you said.

    Just admit you accidentally used the wrong word and we can all move on.

    • Timaahy on September 1, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    Oh, and I love this quote of yours:

    Poor literary and reasoning skills doesn’t help you either.

    Might use that as my signature over at the discussion forum, as a constant reminder of the type of person I’m up against.

    • JR on September 1, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    Tim wrote:
    “EB, you really need to look up the meaning of “paraphrase”. I don’t think anyone actually thought you meant that Rand paraphrased you, but that is what you said. Just admit you accidentally used the wrong word and we can all move on.”

    Tim – you’re giving him way too much credit.

    from meriam-webster.com
    Definition of PARAPHRASE
    1: a restatement of a text, passage, or work giving the meaning in another form
    Examples of PARAPHRASE
    1.

    EB wrote:
    “And I follow it because it’s the only belief that accurately reflects reality.”

    Genesis 5:32 And Noah was five hundred years old: and Noah begat Shem, Ham, and Japheth and Glen Beck (sic).

    • Biomedikal Gangsta on September 1, 2011 at 9:13 pm

    So let me get this straight. You begin your post by stating that you yourself struggle to understand the morality of the god of the bible, and thus the definition of what is “good” and what is “evil” in general, since you claim that you derive these definitions from that god. In other words, you are aware that you have absolutely no idea what your source for the definitions of “good” and “evil” actually believes, yet in the same post you criticize others for being similarly perplexed!

    Good ol’ christian double standards at work. Unless you claim to know the mind of god, then you have absolutely no more grounds upon which to build absolute definitions of morality than those who do not believe in god. We’re all in the same boat, and yet you’ve chosen to wall yourself off from your fellow man for exactly what reason again?

    • Anthony on September 1, 2011 at 9:37 pm
      Author

    Sorry, BG, but you just didn’t comprehend the post, and what you did comprehend, you stretched beyond what was reasonable. Let’s take one example. You say that I say that I ‘struggle to understand the morality of the god of the bible.’

    Now let’s check the record. Here is what I actually did say: “Christians themselves have often struggled to reconcile the goodness of God with some of the actions recorded in the Scriptures, not to mention the bloodiness of human history.”

    The two things are not the same. You’re putting words in my mouth that are not my own. I specifically referenced the ‘goodness of God’ for a reason, as opposed to your nebulous ‘morality of god.’ You may not think there is much difference- obviously, you don’t, since you thought you were representing me- but there is a great deal of difference.

    Then you say something really silly, saying that I criticize people for being similarly perplexed. I find it interesting that I go out of my way to build some common ground with atheists and then you call it a ‘double standard.’ Right.

    That you completely missed the point of the post is evident in your second paragraph. You refer to my post as though I am ‘making absolute definitions of morality’ but you can read the post ten times and you won’t see anything like that. Did you even read it once?

    The point of the post was not to lay out any ‘absolute definitions’ but to argue that in making a moral statement, one presumes the existence of an objective standard- but I say very little about the nature of that standard or how we can learn about it or my own views on what might be ‘absolute definitions.’

    Now, let me ask you: are double standards wrong?

    • End Bringer on September 2, 2011 at 12:43 pm

    “1. The verbosity of a single sentence must be measured against the idea it is intended to convey.
    2. You used three sentences, not one.”

    1. The idea intended to convey was precisely the length of the response.
    2. I assumed it was the second sentence that offended you enough to go off on this tangent.

    “Me? I’m only here because my life revolves around every yahoo I meet.”

    Nah. That’s JR. 😉

    “Instead of yawning, how about answering the question? What are these “impulses” that you would give into, if you weren’t a Christ-ian?”

    How about I leave that to your imagination.

    “EB, you really need to look up the meaning of “paraphrase”. I don’t think anyone actually thought you meant that Rand paraphrased you, but that is what you said.”

    I think I used the word “paraphrase” precisely with how it means. JR’s responses prove your statement false, and I’ve already clarified the matter.

    For someone talking about brevity, you seem to be doing a lot of complaining over a lot of irrelevancies.

    • Stathei on September 2, 2011 at 10:00 pm

    “How about I leave that to your imagination.”

    No, EB, how about you specify? This is actually pivotal. You and SJ claim that Atheists are only moral because God gave them morality, yet you say you would commit “disturbing” acts if you didn’t believe in God. I have to admit that I have never done anything remotely disturbing – mildly embarrassing yes, disturbing, alas, no.

    The reality is that your belief in God is actually the only thing that makes you “disturbing” – your belief is what makes you the murderous moron that you are. Without God you might even be quite nice. Thick as a plank, naturally, but harmless at least.

    • Anthony on September 2, 2011 at 10:36 pm
      Author

    Once again, you completely misrepresent me.

    My actual position about atheists and morality

    Now, for some reason atheists remained confused on some basic aspects of the issue. It is common to hear from their camp something to the effect, “We do not need God to be moral.”

    Indeed, the professional atheists have been churning out attempts to show that they can be moral without God. This seriously misses the point. The argument is not, “You are an immoral and evil clout because you reject theism.” Nor is the theistic argument, “I am moral because God bosses me around.” Rather, the argument is, “Hey, you’re moral, I’m moral, we’re all moral- now how are we to explain that?”

    Thus, the main thrust of the theistic argument is not to say that atheists are evil on account of the fact that they don’t believe in God… but rather that they are decidedly not evil.

    Notably, you are the first person to leave comments on that blog entry, so we all know that you saw it. So what is your excuse for your completely false characterization?

    • Anthony on September 2, 2011 at 10:41 pm
      Author

    Misrepresenting me yet again is par for the course. “Murderous moron” has been deemed over the line.

    • Timaahy on September 3, 2011 at 6:29 am

    You really shouldn’t be allowed near an intelligent debate, EB.

    You respond to a simple question with an immature rant, then misunderstand the meaning of the word “brevity”, then complain about tangents.

    If I see someone saying something stupid, I’m going to try and correct them, whether it’s on topic or not. You have distracted from the original post by lighting little fires of ignorance all over place, and when JR, Stathei and myself set off to put them out, you start criticising us for talking about “tangents” and “irrelevancies”.

    Your use of the word “paraphrase” was wrong. Unless, of course, you think that Rand actually paraphrased you, which means that she read your definition, re-worded it slightly for the sake of brevity (which doesn’t mean using choosing words from a limited selection), and she did so noting that it was your definition.

    None of us think that you think Rand paraphrased you. That would be absurd. And that’s why we’re laughing at you.

    I’m having real trouble, EB, figuring out whether you’re unwilling, or simply incapable, of admitting that you’re wrong. If you find it impossible to admit an error as trivial as a misuse of “paraphrase”, what reason is there to engage you in debate?

    Instead of throwing another ill-conceived evasion at us, why don’t you think it all through, and try and say something intelligent?

    • Timaahy on September 3, 2011 at 6:54 am

    Anthony,

    Is your comment in relation to Stathei’s comment immediately before yours? If so, I don’t think he misrepresented EB’s view at all.
    ___

    Oh, and EB… answering a couple of direct questions (or even just one) might be nice, too.

    • Anthony on September 3, 2011 at 7:49 am
      Author

    Tim,

    But he said: You and SJ claim

    My tolerance for being misrepresented time and time again has reached its limit.

    • End Bringer on September 4, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    “You really shouldn’t be allowed near an intelligent debate, EB.”

    I’m still waiting for one to appear. 😉

    “You respond to a simple question with an immature rant, then misunderstand the meaning of the word “brevity”, then complain about tangents.”

    *snort*

    1) What I did was in no way a “rant” in any form.
    2) I understand what “brevity” is. Perhaps you can familiarize yourself with the meaning of the fallacy -“red herring”.

    “Your use of the word “paraphrase” was wrong. Unless, of course, you think that Rand actually paraphrased you, which means that she read your definition, re-worded it slightly for the sake of brevity (which doesn’t mean using choosing words from a limited selection), and she did so noting that it was your definition.”

    No my use of the word “paraphrase” was correct. Rand’s definition is in essence the exact same as the one I provided. Just worded differently. Hence a “paraphrase”. That this was somehow interpreted to mean that I accused someone else of paraphrasing me personally is simply a poor attempt to dodge the real substance of the conversation.

    “None of us think that you think Rand paraphrased you. That would be absurd. And that’s why we’re laughing at you.”

    I’m the only one laughing (more like chuckling to myself) at your continued need to bring up this irrelevancy even after I already addressed it to JR. Also at the fact that JR’s response does indeed seem to indicate HE at least thinks I think Rand paraphrased me. So perhaps you should speak for yourself, rather than for others. Just a thought.

    “I’m having real trouble, EB, figuring out whether you’re unwilling, or simply incapable, of admitting that you’re wrong. If you find it impossible to admit an error as trivial as a misuse of “paraphrase”, what reason is there to engage you in debate?”

    I also have trouble seeing the need to engage those who fail to pursue any real topic of substance, in favour of bringing up irrelevant trivialities that they feel the need to nit-pick. “Intelligent debate”, indeed.

    “Oh, and EB… answering a couple of direct questions (or even just one) might be nice, too.”

    Almost as nice as asking truly relevant questions.

    • End Bringer on September 4, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    “The reality is that your belief in God is actually the only thing that makes you “disturbing” – your belief is what makes you the murderous moron that you are. Without God you might even be quite nice. Thick as a plank, naturally, but harmless at least.”

    BWAHAHAHAHA!

    Oh, the idiocy in this statement can’t be anything but comical. I’m a “murderous moron”? Excuse me? I say ‘I’ve never commited things like murder’, explicitly and directly point to my belief in God as a reason to refrain from such behaviour, and SOMEHOW you take this to mean I have the capacity to kill people BECAUSE I believe in God? Seriously?

    Hey Officer Timmy! Since you seem to have appointed yourself the acting-sheriff of policing people saying “stupid” things on this site, I’d like to bring this matter up as an example where your judgement of “intelligent debate” may be suspect.

    • Timaahy on September 4, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    FFS mate… are you taking the piss?

    You complain about not being able to “pursue any real topic of substance”, while at the same time throwing out a multitude of statements that are just plain wrong. Are we just supposed to let idiocy get a free pass?

    I also have trouble seeing the need to engage those who fail to pursue any real topic of substance, in favour of bringing up irrelevant trivialities that they feel the need to nit-pick.

    You are the obstacle here mate. Your refusual to admit an error, no matter how trivial, is currently the only thing stopping us from moving on. Do you think we enjoy educating you on the meaning of common words? And having you just sit there with your fingers in your ears shouting “NOT LISTENING! NOT LISTENING!”?

    Once more:

    1
    I said “brevity is the soul of wit”. You said “It’s also the soul of those with a limited vocabulary”. Since brevity refers to the number of words used, and not the variety (i.e. vocabulary), you clearly do not understand the meaning of the word.

    You were wrong. Just admit it.

    2
    par·a·phrase
    Verb: Express the meaning of (the writer or speaker or something written or spoken) using different words, esp. to achieve greater clarity.
    Noun: A rewording of something written or spoken by someone else.

    Since you clearly don’t think that Rand reworded something you wrote, you clearly don’t understand the meaning of “paraphrase”.

    You were wrong. Just admit it.

    As to JR’s opinion… yes, given some of your other beliefs, it’s probably not that surprising that someone would think you capable of believing that a famous novelist who’s been dead for 30 years read your awesome definition, reworded it slightly, and noted you as the source.

    Just a thought.

    Good to see you finally had one.

    Almost as nice as asking truly relevant questions.

    So… on a post about atheism and morality, you can say “Oh, you wouldn’t believe the things I’d do if I were an atheist!”, then evade the question, and then call it irrelevant? How odd.

    Thank you, EB, for confirming what I long suspected – you are, in fact, someone’s attempt at passing the Turing test. Please tell your progammer that they have failed.

    Debate with you is pointless. Or rather, impossible.

    • Alex on September 5, 2011 at 8:27 am

    Wow. The discussion has really moved on far in two weeks. Let’s move away from the mudslinging a little, shall we?

    Anthony, you observe correctly that atheists, Christians, and (I would add) adherents of other religions do have a sense of morality. You argue that so far as that sense of morality is consistent, it must originate with a deity. Since you believe in the Christian deity, you assume that it must originate with Him, and that atheists, insofar as they are moral, must implicitly believe in the Christian God who sets those standards. Is that fair?

    I observe a logical problem with this approach. There’s nothing in your argument to suggest that the morality common to Christians and non-Christians alike does not in fact originate with Ahura Mazda, Allah, Chukwu, Rama or Zeus. It’s only your prior assumption that none of those are valid deities that makes you assume that it originates with Yahweh. An additional secular possibility is that commonalities of morality are driven by the human desire for a level of cooperation that enables a community to function, given the natural constraints upon it. What argument do you use to rule these possibilities out?

    Objective truth does not require the existence of a God. The laws of physics exist without having required a God to set them up. Two and two make four; it isn’t \two and two plus God make four\. God may indeed exist, residing in the parts of the Universe that we cannot yet observe or explain, but nothing about the structure of our Universe as it has yet been observed requires Him to exist.

    Laws, customs and practices vary widely from culture to culture, and used to vary very widely. It is arrogant to presume without further evidence that your particular subgroup of all sentient beings happens to be the one that is right in its assumption that it alone knows how human beings should relate to one another.

    We should all struggle to enquire after what is good; but when we become invincibly certain that we are in the right, is exactly the moment that we become capable of forgetting others’ humanity and committing atrocities upon them. No atheist, no Buddhist, no Christian should ever become invincibly certain of what he believes.

    • Anthony on September 5, 2011 at 8:35 am
      Author

    “Is that fair?”

    No, it isn’t.

    From the original thread, second paragraph:

    “Granted, how you get from one to the other requires some intermediary steps. It is not my purpose to speak to them here.”

    Any speculation on your part as to how I make those intermediary steps, are just that, speculation.

    It is enough to get someone to acknowledge that they believe their moral statements to be coherent- something that is only possible if they believe, even if they don’t knwo it or admit it- that there is an objective morality out there.

    It is this, and only this, that I am asserting. To the rest, at this point, I re-submit:

    “Granted, how you get from one to the other requires some intermediary steps. It is not my purpose to speak to them here.”

    • Alex on September 5, 2011 at 10:38 am

    Well, it’s your blog, Anthony. If you don’t want to defend your reasoning, then that is your right.

    The problem here comes when you want to go beyond the limited point that “there is an objective morality out there”. There may well be; it doesn’t strike me as something that’s capable of disproof. But your further points appear to be that (a) those atheists who make moral judgements are in practice, by doing so, acknowledging the existence of something “immaterial and transcendental”, and that (b) the nature of that objective morality is a specifically Christian one. (a) is open to dispute, and you present no evidence at all for (b).

    You are simply employing a rhetorical trick. You contend that Christians hold the standards you hold because “God” holds them, not because you hold them; but your idea of “God” is no less of an inadequate construct than anyone else’s idea of God, and we are not able to assess based on evidence the merits of your construct relative to other people’s.

    Therefore, your larger points seem to be on very weak ground. An atheist could simply argue that he holds his personal moral standards to be the objective truth because he has used reason to work them out over time, and that no clearer guide to what is objective truth exists than reason.

    • Anthony on September 5, 2011 at 11:21 am
      Author

    “If you don’t want to defend your reasoning, then that is your right.”

    Yes, it is. But let’s be straight forward about the reasoning I am not defending. I am not defending the reasoning contained in the paragraph that reads,

    “Granted, how you get from one to the other requires some intermediary steps. It is not my purpose to speak to them here.”

    I explicitly state what the purpose and point of the blog post is and I prefer to stay on topic. You wish to move off topic. I don’t. I’m not saying that the direction you want to go is an unreasonable one, but I am saying that you are actually employing your own rhetorical trick, trying to paint me as someone dodging because I do not address a point that I… explicitly say that for the purpose of this post I’m not going to address.

    The fact that you go on speculating about all sorts of things that go beyond what I explicitly say I’m going to talk about in the post, that you imagine I believe beyond this, doesn’t trouble me. You are accountable to your own integrity, and if you think that’s good policy, that’s your call. I can’t stop people from engaging in that behavior, but I can choose not to expend my own precious time on off topic tangents. When I’m ready to take the next step, you can be sure that I will.

    But it is doubtful you will find me doing so on my blog, because I do not utilize my blog in that fashion. Moreover, I am very careful about who I engage in such conversations with. Fifteen+ years of doing this sort of thing has taught me some lessons.

    I am telling you this as a courtesy to you. Make of it what you will.

    • End Bringer on September 5, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    “You complain about not being able to “pursue any real topic of substance”, while at the same time throwing out a multitude of statements that are just plain wrong. Are we just supposed to let idiocy get a free pass?”

    Only “wrong” to your point of view. Which is not really surprising nor significant. If you want to whine about every little percieved “wrong”, that’s your perogative. But don’t pretend you’re pursuing anything remotely resembling an “intelligent debate” while you do.

    A red herring on the other hand….

    “I said “brevity is the soul of wit”. You said “It’s also the soul of those with a limited vocabulary”. Since brevity refers to the number of words used, and not the variety (i.e. vocabulary), you clearly do not understand the meaning of the word.

    You were wrong. Just admit it.”

    You clearly don’t understand the nature of levity. Or that if “brevity” means ‘short’ responses, having a limited vocabulary necessitates having few words – thus ‘short’ responses. But I see my wit was a bit too sharp for you to comprehend.

    “Since you clearly don’t think that Rand reworded something you wrote, you clearly don’t understand the meaning of “paraphrase”.’

    Given your woeful incomprehension of the simple word “gender”, I’m not really surprised you keep stooping to these ‘definition wars’. How about this:

    par·a·phrase

    (v) to express in different words

    (n) such a rephrasing

    Since Rand’s definition is EXACTLY a rephrasing; a “paraphrase” is EXACTLY what it is. It doesn’t matter who did or didn’t rephrase who. I’m endlessly amused at your cry for me to admit I’m wrong when you can’t ever seem to do the same even when your own evidence/definitions disprove you.

    “As to JR’s opinion… yes, given some of your other beliefs, it’s probably not that surprising that someone would think you capable of believing that a famous novelist who’s been dead for 30 years read your awesome definition, reworded it slightly, and noted you as the source.”

    And given the egotism inherent in A-theists, it’s entirely expected that you would arrogantly speak for other people, then dodge when you’re proven wrong.

    “So… on a post about atheism and morality, you can say “Oh, you wouldn’t believe the things I’d do if I were an atheist!”, then evade the question, and then call it irrelevant? How odd.”

    No, I call this compulsive need you seem to have for me to lay down specific details, that has no bearing on the topic, irrelevant. Given that it’s purely a personal matter, it’s entirely within my purview to reveal such things about myself if I choose. Or not. I’ve chosen not. Get over it.

    “Debate with you is pointless. Or rather, impossible.”

    I’d say you haven’t really engaged in enough intelligent debates to know.

    • Timaahy on September 5, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    Alex:

    Wow. The discussion has really moved on far in two weeks.

    Indeed. On the plus side, we are now free to define words however we like. So, you know, every cloud…

    How was Africa?
    ___

    [In the Netherlands] involuntary euthanasia is reaching epidemic proportions.

    I found a couple of anti-euthanasia articles that say much the same thing, but do you have any neutral sources that back this up?

    Regarding the link from the Humanist Society of NSW’s website… did you read the whole article? Because the parts you quoted give the strong impression that you didn’t.

    1
    “These humanists think that ‘senile degenerates’ might be a plausible section of the population to whack”

    That doesn’t even come close to describing what they advocate. What they actually say is that such people may be unable to request euthanasia at the time they desire it, and, therefore, the law should give consideration to consent given in advance, and granting the power of consent to those traditionally denied it.

    At no stage do they suggest that these “senile degenerates” should be euthanased without consent, which is what I assume you meant by “whack”.

    2
    “but they’re more comfortable in actually asserting that non-voluntary euthanasia be employed ‘If a baby is born with severe mental or physical disabilities [such as are sure to make it a misery to itself or to those who have to look after it, its life should be terminable by legal process] before any person becomes emotionally attached to it’”

    I’ve bolded the part of the quote you left out, as I think it makes a rather significant difference to the meaning presented. The parts you quoted make it appear as though the reason for the termination is to stop people becoming emotionally attached. This is, quite obviously, not the case.

    3
    Having selectively quoted to present one motive, you then place the emphasis on another: “The reason? ‘Their continued existence burdens relatives, friends and the community, and often, though not always, themselves’”. This, once again, misses the point. This is never presented as a reason for terminating someone’s life against their wishes, it is simply stated as a fact that cannot be denied.

    As they state at the very beginning of the article “every individual has the right to choose the time of his or her own death”, and “life must be considered to be worth living, by the person who has to live it”.

    It also appears you didn’t read even the abstract of Jacob Appel’s paper. Compare what you said:

    Humanist Jacob Appel thinks that children with disabilities should be euthanized without parental consent

    With what he said:

    The Dutch rules governing neonatal euthanasia, known as the Groningen Protocol, require parental consent for the severely disabled infants with poor prognoses to have their lives terminated. This paper questions whether parental consent should be dispositive in such cases, and argues that the potential suffering of the neonate of pediatric patient should be the decisive factor under such unfortunate circumstances.

    Do you think your version accurately reflects his meaning? (normally I would use “paraphrase” here, but I don’t want to confuse anybody who might be reading)

    This leads us to an important point.

    Question to you, Tim: does a slightly larger lump of cells that has passed out of the birth canal that has a birth defect count as a human life? Or a human being? Because Jacob Appel is a humanist, and he thinks you should kill it, whether the parents want to keep it or not.

    The answer to both of your questions is “Yes”. But you have created a false equivalence. The original claim that started all this was that “under humanism, every human [person] is sacred”. You have taken “sacred” to mean “to be kept alive in all circumstances”. I suppose that’s not surprising, given that it simply reflects the Christian “alive is good, dead is bad” attitude to these sorts of issues. But the humanist position is more nuanced. Alive isn’t always “good”.

    I’d also like to point out that “birth defects” doesn’t even begin to cover what Appel is talking about. You make it sound like we want to off anyone with a hair lip.

    • End Bringer on September 5, 2011 at 8:32 pm

    Alex:

    “We should all struggle to enquire after what is good; but when we become invincibly certain that we are in the right, is exactly the moment that we become capable of forgetting others’ humanity and committing atrocities upon them. No atheist, no Buddhist, no Christian should ever become invincibly certain of what he believes.”

    Are you invincibly certain of this belief? If so, you seem to be guilty of your own criticism. If not, then the statement becomes meaningless.

    • Anthony on September 5, 2011 at 8:54 pm
      Author

    Tim, I have to say that I was very disappointed in this reply of yours. Several times you suggested that I had misquoted or misread or failed to read stuff when in fact it looks very much like you misquoted or misread or failed to read MY POST. I’ll give you some examples as we go.

    “I found a couple of anti-euthanasia articles that say much the same thing, but do you have any neutral sources that back this up?”

    You are welcome to keep digging. Just remember, if you’re going to apply a skeptical eye to anti-euthanasia sites, make sure you apply the same skepticism to pro-euthanasia ones.

    “Regarding the link from the Humanist Society of NSW’s website… did you read the whole article?”

    Seriously? It wasn’t a very long article.

    “That doesn’t even come close to describing what they advocate. … and granting the power of consent to those traditionally denied it.”

    Full quote:

    Non voluntary euthanasia could cover:

    Babies grossly mentally or physically handicapped.
    Children grossly mentally or physically handicapped.
    The severe mentally afflicted.
    Senile degenerates.

    It does seem undesirable to keep these unfortunates alive. Their continued existence burdens relatives, friends and the community, and often, though not always, themselves.

    Emphasis mine.

    Perhaps you and I have different understandings of what the word ‘non voluntary’ means. 😉

    But I correctly identified the only area in which they were prepared to make an actual recommendation to euthanize involuntarily- certain disabled infants.

    “The parts you quoted make it appear as though the reason for the termination is to stop people becoming emotionally attached. This is, quite obviously, not the case.”

    Go back to my original post. What did I say? Did I say that the “reason for the termination is to stop people becoming emotionally attached?” No. I even used the phrase ‘the reason’ which should have been a big clue to watch out, and what did I say:

    The reason? “Their continued existence burdens relatives, friends and the community, and often, though not always, themselves.”

    I even emphasized the word ‘burdens’ originally. No fair reader could come away from reading my post and think I was emphasizing the ’emotional attachment’ thing.

    “Having selectively quoted to present one motive, you then place the emphasis on another: “The reason? ‘Their continued existence burdens relatives, friends and the community, and often, though not always, themselves’”.”

    You’re killing me. You even quote me laying out what their stated reason was, and in your quote of me, I say nothing about it being “to stop people becoming emotionally attached”

    You got me dead wrong, and even quoted the section that proves it.

    “As they state at the very beginning of the article”

    Well, yes. But I don’t put much stock in it when later on they say, in a section with the heading, “non voluntary euthanasia.”

    Remember:
    “It does seem undesirable to keep these unfortunates alive.”

    But here again it would seem that you and I have different ideas about what ‘non voluntary’ means.

    “It also appears you didn’t read even the abstract of Jacob Appel’s paper.”

    Uh, I read the whole thing in its entirety. Did you?

    This is another example of just bizarre interpretation by you.

    Let’s compare your comparison of what you said I said (and did say):

    Humanist Jacob Appel thinks that children with disabilities should be euthanized without parental consent

    Ok. Are we all on board here with what the phrase ‘euthanaized without parental consent’ means?

    Now lets look at what you wrote of Appel that you think contradicts what I said, from the abstract.

    This paper questions whether parental consent should be dispositive in such cases, and argues that the potential suffering of the neonate of pediatric patient should be the decisive factor under such unfortunate circumstances.

    Read that veeeeery slowly.

    “Alive isn’t always “good”.”

    And of course, we can always count on our dear friends the secular humanists to know when exactly that is. 🙂 That was my point. I’ll repeat it, since you missed it:

    “But you’ve put your finger on it: humanists think that humans get to decide what value other human ‘lives’ have.”

    It isn’t that I think life is ‘always good.’ It’s that I don’t think we ought to be sitting around deciding how much ‘burden’ it takes before someone’s life isn’t good.’ You humanists are all about that. I want nothing of it.

    “I’d also like to point out that “birth defects” doesn’t even begin to cover what Appel is talking about.”

    Well, that’s true. The Groningen Protocol has been mainly used against children with spina bifida. Appel lists what he means- Tay-Sachs disease, Lesch-Nyhan syndrome, etc, and ‘severe cases of spina bifida’ to name a couple.

    Let’s take spina bifida as our example. Do you think children born with spina bifida should be killed regardless of the parent’s consent, as Jacob Appel believes? Granted, he says ‘severe’ in his paper, although he doesn’t say what constitutes ‘severe.’ So let’s put it to you: would you agree with Appel that children diagnosed with a ‘severe’ form of spina bifida should be killed, regardless of the parent’s consent? If so, how would you define ‘severe’?

    “You make it sound like we want to off anyone with a hair lip.”

    Gosh, if not you guys, then who was this? I suppose this one was a Christian lady amongst a Christian hospital staff. This article isn’t a neutral” site, but it references a study that will corroborate for you if you wish. A quote:

    The statistics reveal that thousands of babies have been killed for eugenic reasons, some of them (26 in the last nine years) for as minor a condition as cleft lip or palate, seven of them in 2010.

    Golly, if it ain’t the secular humanists game for offing people with mere hair lips, just who is it asking for and giving out these abortions?

    I suppose you’ll say that it’s no big deal. Yea, its just cleft lips, but they were still in the womb anyway. And why wouldn’t you? Perfectly healthy children are aborted every day, by the hundreds and thousands. But the point is that under the same reasoning given for those abortions- ““Ground E,” the rule that allows any child at any gestational age to be killed whom doctors believe have a “substantial risk” of having a “serious” disability”- is the same reason given for ‘active euthanasia’ by Jacob Appel, without in that case the parent’s consent.

    But in that quote above you see it already, “whom doctors believe.”

    • Anthony on September 5, 2011 at 9:17 pm
      Author

    Ok, Tim. I’ve been re-reading the NSW thing trying to figure out how on earth you could possibly misunderstand me and I think what’s happened is that you’ve conflated some things in your mind.

    First of all, let me be clear. You asked for some corroboration, and I gave it to you. I also said that it would be best if you followed up with your own research. I found the NSW thing after 20 seconds of googling, so I’m sure if you put your mind to it, you could find much more. But you shouldn’t think that my assertions were based on the NSW article. After all, I made my assertions before even finding the NSW article. The point is that there are loads of corroborative sites out there, ripe for your discovery. Or just spend some time talking to secular humanists like I do. 🙂

    So, I think you conflated my contention against Jacob Appel and his putting the non-voluntary euthanization decision in the hands of medical doctors rather than the parents with the NSW link, which merely spoke to secular humanists discussing and advocating non-voluntary euthanization. So, I’m thinking that you read on in the non-voluntary section and saw this:

    “Whereas there appears to be a good deal of sympathy for such action or inaction, the position is not really morally tenable because the right of parents to take this decision plainly overrides that of a doctor, and the right of society to grant any rights at all in this area could be taken to override those of the parents, as they do in any case regarded as murder.”

    And you thought my line of attack here again was the idea of doctors killing off disabled children without their parent’s consent. Clearly, the NSW does not think that would be moral or right. Jacob Appel, in contrast, does. But for the purposes of my citation of the NSW, I wasn’t thinking of the doctor versus parent thing at all. Note that the NSW article still allows for non voluntary termination… if the parents consent. In my book, that is still killing someone without consent.

    Whether parents think they can kill a disabled child or doctors think it, it is in either case ‘non voluntary consent’ because, obviously, the child doesn’t have a chance to speak in his defense, right? And the NSW article clearly allows for parents to have their disabled children killed, right? They can even assign their rights to the doctor!

    So again, remember that I gave you some direction for your own research. My assertions do not rest on one or two links that I happened to find in a spur of the moment research. The links certainly do support my assertions, but one link supports one set and another supports another set. And many more links and many conversations that I have had support them all. But since I don’t expect you to trust me- since I’m not neutral, right?- you need to go hunting yourself.

    • Anthony on September 5, 2011 at 9:18 pm
      Author

    Oh, and you still completely botched the Jacob Appel thing. He clearly advocates for killing newborn children under certain circumstances, without even parental consent, just as I said- and just as is stated in the abstract. Now read the whole article.

    • Alex on September 9, 2011 at 7:37 am

    Alex – No atheist, no Buddhist, no Christian should ever become invincibly certain of what he believes.

    End Bringer – Are you invincibly certain of this belief? If so, you seem to be guilty of your own criticism. If not, then the statement becomes meaningless.

    You’re welcome, End Bringer, to do your best to persuade me that invincible certainty in one’s beliefs has better results than being humble about one’s own capacity for understanding. What better results do you feel that invincible certainty has?

    • DMA on September 9, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    You missed the point Alex. You’re premise is self-contradictory and therefore meaningless. Based on your premise you CAN’T be certain that your premise is correct. If you are certain it’s correct then the premise violates itself. So all you’re saying here is that you don’t think people should be really really sure of what they believe, but you’re not really really sure about that.

    Comical.

    • Anthony on September 9, 2011 at 2:40 pm
      Author

    Now there’s a very well put point. Nice, DMA. That’s exactly what I would have said.

    • End Bringer on September 9, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    “What better results do you feel that invincible certainty has?”

    How about you come across someone mugging or raping another person? According to your argument we should be “humble” (ie indecisive) that such a thing is right or wrong, and basicly do nothing. I’m sure you don’t agree with that. And that’s why your argument is wrong. Because most moral people ARE “invincibly certain” such things are bad and as such take action against them.

    If you there is no certainty, then there is no action. And it’s those situations where action is obviously called for, where certainty has “better results” as you put it.

    Personally I don’t think you’re arguing against “certainty”. I think your arguing against people’s certainty in things you personally consider to be certainly wrong. Which is a totally different matter.

    • Timaahy on September 12, 2011 at 1:08 am

    Tim, I have to say that I was very disappointed in this reply of yours.

    Uh oh… childhood flashbacks… disappointment’s the worst. 🙂

    So, I think you conflated my contention against Jacob Appel and his putting the non-voluntary euthanization decision.

    No, I didn’t.

    My issue was with the way you quoted the NSW Humanists’ position, and the way you described Appel’s.

    1 – The NSW Humanists
    Firstly, you said that “these humanists think that ‘senile degenerates’ might be a plausible section of the population to whack”. I stand by my earlier assessment that this is an extremely unfair representation of their position – apart from the unfortunate wording, which I’ll come to, you’ve essentially just stated the preamble, without the subsequent arguments, and without the conclusion.

    Yes, they say that “it does seem undesirable to keep these unfortunates alive”, and that “their continued existence burdens relatives, friends and the community, and often, though not always, themselves”. However, they do not advocate involuntary euthanasia for these people, favouring instead advanced care directives, and exploring the reinstatement of power of consent to those traditionally denied it. This is a very different position than thinking they “might be a plausible section of the population to whack”.

    This brings us to the wording, which was, as I said, unfortunate. If you don’t think there is anything wrong with how you phrased it, consider this – if I said that you believe in a magical Jewish zombie, would you consider that an accurate description of your position?

    You also quoted them as saying “they’re more comfortable in actually asserting that non-voluntary euthanasia be employed ‘If a baby is born with severe mental or physical disabilities…before any person becomes emotionally attached to it’”.

    Go back to my original post. What did I say? Did I say that the “reason for the termination is to stop people becoming emotionally attached?” No.

    Go back to my original post. Did I say you said that? No. What I said was “The parts you quoted make it appear as though the reason for the termination is to stop people becoming emotionally attached” [emphasis added]. Once again, I stand by this statement.

    Consider the meaning of the following:
    (a) I need to get to the post office before they close.
    (b) I need to get out of the sun before I get sunburnt.

    These two statements may seem alike, but there is a fundamental difference – motivation. Under (a), the motivation to go to the post office exists whether I get there on time or not. Under (b), the motivation to get out of the sun exists because I don’t want to get sunburnt.

    The first says “I need to perform action X, and it is easier if I do this before event Y happens”. The second is saying “I need to perform action X to stop event Y from happening”.

    The way you selectively quoted that section strongly suggests the second meaning. If that was unintentional, then fine. But whether intentional or not, it was a misrepresentation of their position.

    You’re killing me. You even quote me laying out what their stated reason was, and in your quote of me, I say nothing about it being “to stop people becoming emotionally attached”

    You got me dead wrong, and even quoted the section that proves it.

    No, I didn’t get you dead wrong, you mis-read what I said. [Incidentally, I think you just found a great bumper sticker for any campaigns you might want to run… “Euthanasia – it’s dead wrong”. :-)] As explained above, the part you quoted gave the impression that preventing attachment was a motivation for infant euthanasia. That you then stated an additional motivation does not change that.

    Not only that, but the reason you stated was incomplete anyway.

    2 – Appel

    Uh, I read the whole thing in its entirety. Did you?

    No, I didn’t.

    This is another example of just bizarre interpretation by you.

    No, it wasn’t.

    Let’s compare your comparison of what you said I said (and did say)

    Yes, let’s!

    Your version is “that children with disabilities should be euthanized without parental consent”. Not only does it not distinguish between levels of disability, your use of the world “should” (instead of the more appropriate “could”) implies that he advocates euthanasia in all cases. Can you see how your version is a pale imitation of his? Do you think “there may be some circumstances where consideration for the suffering of the child could override the wishes of the parents” is more accurate?

    It isn’t that I think life is ‘always good.’ It’s that I don’t think we ought to be sitting around deciding how much ‘burden’ it takes before someone’s life isn’t good.’ You humanists are all about that

    You’re doing it again. Or at least, I hope you are. I hope you don’t really believe that we humanists are “all about that”.

    Do you think children born with spina bifida should be killed regardless of the parent’s consent, as Jacob Appel believes?

    I believe that is, quite frankly, a stupid question to ask. The question you should be asking is “Can you envisage circumstances where the child’s capacity for suffering outweighs the wishes of his or her parents, and the most moral course of action is termination?”. The answer to that is yes, I can.

    Gosh, if not you guys, then who was this?

    You’re conflating the issues. I said, “you make it sound like [humanists] want to off anyone with a hairlip” specifically in response to your representation of Appel’s views. But each of those articles refers to abortions, and none of them reference the views of actual humanists.

    I suppose you’ll say that it’s no big deal. Yea, its just cleft lips, but they were still in the womb anyway. And why wouldn’t you? Perfectly healthy children are aborted every day, by the hundreds and thousands. But the point is that under the same reasoning given for those abortions- ““Ground E,” the rule that allows any child at any gestational age to be killed whom doctors believe have a “substantial risk” of having a “serious” disability”- is the same reason given for ‘active euthanasia’ by Jacob Appel, without in that case the parent’s consent.

    How many issues do you want to throw into a single paragraph…?! 🙂

    Oh, and you still completely botched the Jacob Appel thing. He clearly advocates for killing newborn children under certain circumstances, without even parental consent, just as I said

    I didn’t botch anything. Your statement above is more in line with Appel’s position, but, as I said above, it is a long way from your original version.

    • Timaahy on September 12, 2011 at 1:12 am

    It’s also worth noting that the NSW Humanist article is nearly 40 years old.

    • Alex on September 24, 2011 at 5:31 pm

    It’s easy to prove the falsity of the notion that “without certainty there is no action”, End Bringer. We have before us the example of how the criminal law works.

    Nobody pretends that at the end of a criminal trial, perfect certainty has been achieved, and that is explicitly not the aim. However, both sides have done their best to present the facts in the light most favorable to their client, and twelve members of the public have evaluated their claims and come to a conclusion as to the guilt or innocence of the defendant. A guilty verdict deems that the defendant is guilty, not beyond all doubt, but beyond reasonable doubt given the evidence presented. Punishment occurs on the basis of that verdict. It is still possible that someone whom the law deems guilty is factually innocent, and errors do occur, but the law is a human system that can be either corrupted or corrected by human actions. It doesn’t pretend to be anything more.

    So, with your example of a mugging or a rape, a person should, if they are able, rightly intervene to stop it, even if they are not God and do not have all the possible facts to hand. Both cause direct and immediate harm to another, and it is hard to imagine a set of facts that would counterbalance that harm.

    You seem to imagine that it is possible to step outside our natural world, where perfect and omniscient certainty is not possible, and to access a supernatural world where you can share in the omniscient certainty of God. I know of no evidence that would suggest that you or any other human being is able to do so. Indeed, those who claim to be able to do so, such as cult leaders, often perpetrate hideous injustices, which leads me to the conclusion that it is reasonable to treat any such notions as being delusional.

    Again, I could be wrong, and you are welcome to persuade me that in your case, you are able to penetrate beyond the human world, by offering evidence to me that you have been in contact with something verifiably superhuman. Till then, I have a reasonable working hypothesis, and that will do as far as certainty goes.

    DMA, I indeed cannot be certain that my premise were correct, and even if I were certain about it, I would be unlikely to convince you. However, to show that I am still turning this one over in my mind, I present a counter-example to my own argument below.

    My premise has the important benefit of requiring one at all times to consider the effects of one’s actions on fellow human beings, and foreclosing the possibility of doing great harm to them in the name of something invisible and possibly nonexistent. At the same time, as my example of the criminal law shows, invincible certainty is not necessary in order to act.

    The counter-example is that of missionary work in remote areas – I’ve just come back from one such, called Karamoja. In Karamoja, missionaries have been at work for over 125 years, bringing all sorts of things that benefit the people of Karamoja. They bring education and sanitation, discourage repellent customs like female genital mutilation, and provide reassurance, support and opportunities to the desperately poor. One missionary there is writing the first dictionary translating the local language into English. The obvious reason they do it would be their faith, about which they may be invincibly certain in the manner that I condemn above (though Mother Teresa, for example, was not). Would these benefits have come to Karamoja without their invincible certainty and the certainty of their predecessors? Probably not. As I say, it’s pretty remote.

    So if you like, you can argue to me that the hazards of invincible certainty are outweighed by the humanitarian benefits brought by people who are invincibly certain about their faith. Invincible certainty about faith (or about politics) certainly seems to help to induce some people to devote their lives to charitable work, as well as inducing others to commit horrific acts towards their fellow human beings. If we were ever to move entirely beyond religion, I do genuinely worry that people would be less motivated to do acts of charity as well as acts of atrocity. However, as proved to be the case with Mother Teresa, I suspect that the outward certainty they project is not really what causes them to benefit their fellow human beings so much. After all, my group and I were not there for any religious reason whatsoever, and yet we were also providing education, reassurance and support.

    In practice, it’s also worth observing that the level of invincible certainty demanded by conservative Christian denominations in the United States is unusually high. Mainline Protestant denominations as well as the Unitarians leave room for, and sometimes make a virtue of, doubt (I belong to the United Church of Christ). The kind of humility about the divine that I am recommending to you is not unusual among Catholic Christians, and your kind of certainty is positively discouraged in the Orthodox Church, with its tradition of the via negativa. It seems possible for billions of people to, in the absence of perfect certainty, retain a faith and also to be charitable. Just because you reach out to God via a particular door, does not mean that it was the only possible door.

    You give the impression that you are opposing my position because you feel that any loss of certainty would result in your losing your faith. I call this “white-knuckle faith.” Perhaps you should trust God a little more, and learn to let go of things that we cannot prove one way or the other.

    • End Bringer on September 25, 2011 at 6:47 pm

    “Nobody pretends that at the end of a criminal trial, perfect certainty has been achieved, and that is explicitly not the aim.”

    Isn’t it? I think people are “perfectly certain” of a lot of things in a trial. They’re “perfectly certain” a crime took place. They’re “perfectly certain” someone has been accused as guilty. They’re “perfectly certain” they are witnessing a trial and that 12 people have the duty to render a verdict and that a sentence will be forthcoming if found guilty. Seems the only thing in question is if the accused is indeed guilty or not, and for THAT certainty is still needed to say ‘yay or nay’. It simply has to be “reasonable certainty”.

    You still completely miss the point and are simply dodging now. As your argument boils down to – ‘I’m certain there is no certainty, but can’t be certain about it’. Your premises is completely contradicting and nonsensical to your argument. And it’s this “perfect certainty” that sel-contradictions are bad, that let’s us dismiss such arguments.

    “So, with your example of a mugging or a rape, a person should, if they are able, rightly intervene to stop it, even if they are not God and do not have all the possible facts to hand.”

    Again, are you “perfectly certain” of that? If not, then you have no basis to say someone should in fact intervene as you can’t be “perfectly certain” it’s wrong. The fact that you DO (as I predicted) simply shows you are contradicting yourself and are mostly talking out of both sides of your mouth.

    “You seem to imagine that it is possible to step outside our natural world, where perfect and omniscient certainty is not possible, and to access a supernatural world where you can share in the omniscient certainty of God.”

    The only one who seems to be adding “perfect” and “omniscient” to the issue is YOU.

    Your argument at first simply tried to cast aside ALL certainty. It’s true that strictly speaking, we can’t be “perfectly certain” on our own about anything in our world as our over-abundant imaginations can think of all kinds of nonsensical excuses (maybe there are no robbers, rapists, and trials and we’re all just experiencing the world through a manipulation of super-technology via the Matrix), but such notions are meaningless as we’re forced to live in this world and take it for what it’s worth. And as such we can be “perfectly certain” with the limits that our epistomology allows.

    However there is ONE possibility that you don’t consider -WE don’t have to step outside our natural world. If a perfect and omniscient being stepped INSIDE ours and revealed Himself to us at the level of our comprehension, then we can potentially trust in HIS “perfect certainty” and give our obedience to Him. Interestingly I’m “perfectly certain” Christianity claims just such an example. 😉

    • End Bringer on September 25, 2011 at 7:11 pm

    “My premise has the important benefit of requiring one at all times to consider the effects of one’s actions on fellow human beings, and foreclosing the possibility of doing great harm to them in the name of something invisible and possibly nonexistent. At the same time, as my example of the criminal law shows, invincible certainty is not necessary in order to act.”

    If that was the goal of your premises then your argument has achieved the exact opposite. As you are now saying “perfect/invincible/add-nondistinct-adjective certainty” isn’t necessary in order to act, then it stands one can do anything WITHOUT any forethought or consideration.

    At least with “perfect certainty” one must potentially reach such a state after careful thought and examination. Going by your argument one could potentially do anything (equally harmful or beneficial) without any pretext of justification or reasoning to show where they arrive to such conclusions. If people want to rape someone they can do it just because they ‘feel like it’, or stop such acts for the same reasoning, or not stop such acts and walk away for the same reasoning. And because you have no certainty such acts are right or wrong, you can’t logically object to them (you will, but that shows the falsity to your argument).

    So it seems if you’re trying to promote consideration for one’s actions before hand you really need to do an about-face right now.

    • Alex on September 26, 2011 at 10:50 am

    I think the problem we’re having here is a common one in conservative-liberal discussions. Liberals have a psychological propensity towards discussing things in terms of shades of gray; conservatives have a similar propensity towards discussing things in terms of black and white. Shades of gray make conservatives feel uncomfortable; black and white reasoning makes liberals feel uncomfortable; and here we are.

    The structure of your argument requires that once one abandons the notion of “invincible” or “perfect” certainty, one can no longer have any measure of certainty about anything. As a liberal and a shades-of-gray thinker, I see no reason why that should be true. Being reasonably, though not invincibly, certain about things appears to me to be not only possible, but the ordinary state of our existence here on earth.

    Let us understand, then, where we stand. For you, abandoning your white-knuckle faith would mean emotionally the melting away of all possibility of moral behavior in the universe. For me, abandoning the pretense that we really can fully understand the will of God as if we were Gods ourselves would have deep and salutary benefits for our moral treatment of our fellow human beings, without destroying our ability to act when confronted with something that appears with reasonable certainty to be an evil act. For both of us, we should be conscious that just because this is how things appear to us, it is not necessarily how things actually are.

    I still don’t see, though, how “the possibility that I don’t consider” of God stepping into our world, would in truth empower us to view things as God views them. After all, even Jesus’s supposed oneness with God did not give him a full knowledge of God’s will while on Earth (Matthew 24:36), so why should our lesser level of unity with God as Christians give it to us?

    • End Bringer on September 26, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    “I think the problem we’re having here is a common one in conservative-liberal discussions.”

    True, but rather than liberals arguing in “shades of gray” I’d call it the problem of poor basic reading skills, and a propensity to address what they THINK is being argued than what is actually being argued.

    “Being reasonably, though not invincibly, certain about things appears to me to be not only possible, but the ordinary state of our existence here on earth.”

    Then you’ve just undermined your entire argument as Christians can now go forward while being “reasonably certain” of what we believe and act in the same way one would be “invincibly certain”.

    Makes one wonder if all these adjectives you’ve added has any distinction and the only thing needed is “certainty” by itself. 😉

    “For you… For me,…”

    Difference being that the former would be a logical following, while the latter is rather naive (and historicaly ignorant). As the last century has plainly shown what happens when Mankind thinks it can call the shots. “Deep and salutary benefits for our moral treatment of our fellow human beings” it hasn’t been.

    “I still don’t see, though, how “the possibility that I don’t consider” of God stepping into our world, would in truth empower us to view things as God views them. After all, even Jesus’s supposed oneness with God did not give him a full knowledge of God’s will while on Earth (Matthew 24:36), so why should our lesser level of unity with God as Christians give it to us?”

    *snort* I think you need to read carefully SJ’s post about ‘R’evelation and ‘r’evelation that he’s already recommended to you. If you can turn around and say we don’t need “perfect” certainty, I don’t see why we need a “perfect” view either. It’s enough that if God says something like ‘stealing is wrong’, then that by itself is the end of any uncertainty on the matter.

    • Timaahy on September 26, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    Alex, you are a saint.

    • End Bringer on September 26, 2011 at 6:35 pm

    Patron saint of the confused. 😉

    • Alex (Patron Saint of the Confused) on September 27, 2011 at 4:55 pm

    “…It’s enough that if God says something like ‘stealing is wrong’…”

    How wonderful for you, End Bringer, that God has conveyed to you individually and personally this statement on morality. Or do you perhaps mean that you read in a book, written by men two-plus millennia ago who wished their readers to believe that they had heard from God, that ‘stealing is wrong’? Let’s keep things accurate here! 🙂

    My problem with your arguments has never been an inability to read or understand them. Trust me on this – you make your meaning clear. It’s not your phrasing, but your opinions themselves, that don’t make much sense.

    The abuses committed by atheist regimes such as those of Mao, Stalin and Pol Pot were committed by people who, while not believing in God, were so invincibly certain of the rightness of their own beliefs, that they felt it fully justified to murder those who disagreed with them. What we need is a system of morality that inoculates us well against uncritical belief in any external authority. The problem I perceive is not with Christianity or Communism or Islam or Capitalism in themselves, but with the tendency towards fanaticism within the human heart.

    We may or may not need a God. We may or may not need a belief that an objective morality exists. But in order to survive, we need to be a lot goddamn kinder to one another than we are currently being.

    • Timaahy on September 27, 2011 at 5:10 pm

    Hahaaaaa… loving the new name. I don’t think EB realises that “Patron Saint of X” means “Someone to look after people with X”, not “Saint suffering from X”.

    • End Bringer on September 27, 2011 at 9:24 pm

    “How wonderful for you, End Bringer, that God has conveyed to you individually and personally this statement on morality. Or do you perhaps mean that you read in a book, written by men two-plus millennia ago who wished their readers to believe that they had heard from God, that ‘stealing is wrong’? Let’s keep things accurate here!”

    Now you’re just whinning. And a particularly hypocritical one as well, as I’m supremely confident (not “invincibly certain”) 90% of everything you know was conveyed by a book/s (or recording device in general) someone else wrote rather than your own personal experience. Or were you in fact personally on the moon 42 years ago to see that it was indeed Armstrong who got there first?

    You gave a scenerio where we had to step “outside” the natural world, and I gave a counter-hypothetical where God stepped “inside” ours. If you’re now going to add the condition that we have to “personally” experience something than you’re going to have to be prepared to throw out 99% of everything you know, as the sum of your life can’t even begin to measure up to the sum total of life in the present, let alone at least 6000 plus years of human history. And it’s not very “humble” to think you can.

    “My problem with your arguments has never been an inability to read or understand them.”

    I didn’t say it was. You gave a statement about a problem with Liberals and Conservatives in general and I responded in that same light…So it actually IS your problem in this case.

    “The abuses committed by atheist regimes such as those of Mao, Stalin and Pol Pot were committed by people who, while not believing in God, were so invincibly certain of the rightness of their own beliefs, that they felt it fully justified to murder those who disagreed with them.”

    Or rather they were “reasonably certain” (again, is there a difference?). And frankly that’s a gross over-simplification.

    People are always going to be certain about something, because as stated it’s inherently needed to take any form of action. And as pointed out you seem to argue as if you’re certain about your premises (all your lip-serviced denials to the contrary not withstanding). To argue otherwise is self-contradicting and utterly meaningless. So instead it’s better to be certain that what you think is ‘right’ is indeed right (1 Thessalonians 5:20-22) than to advocate the nonsensical.

    “The problem I perceive is not with Christianity or Communism or Islam or Capitalism in themselves, but with the tendency towards fanaticism within the human heart.”

    And the real problem you fail to percieve is the human heart in itself.

    “We may or may not need a God. We may or may not need a belief that an objective morality exists. But in order to survive, we need to be a lot goddamn kinder to one another than we are currently being.”

    To again ask the question you telling aviod answering: Are you “invincible certain” of that?

    Timaahy:

    I did realise. You didn’t grasp that the joke was he looks after the confused, because his arguments make little sense. 😉

    • Alex (Patron Saint of the Confused) on September 28, 2011 at 8:00 am

    I would not say that I am “invincibly certain” of anything I assert or believe in this thread, End Bringer, because I am open to persuasion. You are welcome to use the best arguments you can to persuade me that it is more important to spend time trying to believe in an invisible, undetectable being than it is to spend time being kind to other people. Our time is finite, after all, and every minute I spend debating with you is a minute I am not spending improving the lives of my fellow human beings. I wouldn’t hold the opinions I do if I didn’t think it somewhat unlikely that you would succeed in persuading me of the rightness of your views, but you are more than welcome to try!

    People who are reasonably, as opposed to invincibly, certain do not, as Stalin did, institute long prison terms for “Anti-Soviet Agitation”, which more or less meant holding beliefs that differed from those of the Party. They accept the existence of other views, and believe in the right of others to express those views freely. Is there anything I have written, therefore, that makes you think that I would in fact support using governmental power to suppress your views or the views of people like you?

    Last, End Bringer, because I am not claiming to be invincibly certain of what God thinks, you can’t accuse me of hypocrisy. I am aware of and try to work within the contingent nature of the knowledge I have, and I agree with Anthony that all human knowledge is contingent. It’s you who is trying to claim some sort of supernatural sanction for the beliefs you hold, not me, and so it’s reasonable for me to call out the difference between “God has directly spoken to me, End Bringer, about X” and “There is a text written by men and in which I, End Bringer, believe, that claims that God has spoken to those men about X”. Capisce?

    • End Bringer on September 28, 2011 at 10:42 am

    “I would not say that I am “invincibly certain” of anything I assert or believe in this thread, End Bringer, because I am open to persuasion.”

    And I would say the amount of effort you spend argung on this belies your denials as false. Or that you’re “reasonably certain” of what you assert, which you maintain is fine and has no practical difference to being “invincibly certain”. Either way, it shows a contradiction.

    “You are welcome to use the best arguments you can to persuade me that it is more important to spend time trying to believe in an invisible, undetectable being than it is to spend time being kind to other people.”

    This is what I’m talking about with the lack of basic reading skills in Liberals, as absolutely nothing I’ve said pertains to this matter. This line of discussion started because you declared with “invincible certainty” (deny it all you like, it doesn’t matter), that no one should be “invincibly certain”. I’ve merely been pointing out this inherent self-contradiction, and now you’re going on a tangent about things not relevant to the discussion.

    “Our time is finite, after all, and every minute I spend debating with you is a minute I am not spending improving the lives of my fellow human beings.”

    Again, you saying that seems to undermine your argument in that you seem invincibly certain that improving other people’s lives is what we should be doing. Almost as if there was an objective standard that transcends Mankinds whims, and thus needing an explanation on where it comes from.

    And I’m actually trying to do the same thing – I’m trying to get you to think rationally, which will improve your life considerably. 😉

    “People who are reasonably, as opposed to invincibly, certain do not, as Stalin did, institute long prison terms for “Anti-Soviet Agitation”, which more or less meant holding beliefs that differed from those of the Party.”

    Are you “invincibly certain” of that, because I’m “reasonably certain” they do. Not that it matters as your “evidence” on these matters has been little more than proof by assertions for a while.

    “Last, End Bringer, because I am not claiming to be invincibly certain of what God thinks, you can’t accuse me of hypocrisy. It’s you who is trying to claim some sort of supernatural sanction for the beliefs you hold, not me, and so it’s reasonable for me to call out the difference between “God has directly spoken to me, End Bringer, about X” and “There is a text written by men and in which I, End Bringer, believe, that claims that God has spoken to those men about X”. Capisce?”

    I actually can accuse you of hypocriscy because if we substitute “God” for say “the splitting of the atom”, I’m “reasonbly certain” you got your information in the exact same way of “there is a text written by men and in which you, Alex, believe”. Like SJ is trying to point out to you in another thread, you’re decrying a standard of transferal of information human beings use all the time. It’s only when you get to a subject matter you don’t like that you start special pleading about needing a method of investigation that inherently can’t test for the thing in question.

    Which is also quite hypocritical given I’m sure the scientific method can’t inherently test anything you’ve asserted so far. Oh what ironies abound when we don’t carefully self-examine our beliefs.

    • Alex (Patron Saint of the Confused) on September 28, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    End Bringer, if there were significant debate between scientists about the structure of the atom, as there once was; and if scientific instruments, on observing the same atoms, came up with ten or twelve different structures of the atom depending on the person doing the observing; then indeed I would be applying the same standard to my points about God as to my points about science. What I hear about science is more reliable because everyone, conducting the same tests, sees the same thing; what I hear about religion is less reliable because everyone seems to have a different opinion. Where scientists’ opinions differ, such as with whether AIDS research can be best funded through pursuing anti-retrovirals or pursuing a vaccine, I am also uncertain about the science.

    I am open to persuasion as to why improving other people’s lives is not what we should be doing. What are your arguments against it?

    You seem to be confused between “holding an opinion” and “being certain of an opinion”. It’s the difference between getting into the ring and scoring a knockout punch. I’m happily in the ring, but that doesn’t mean you can’t beat me, or that I’m certain I can beat you. Sure, I’m eager to defend my corner, and you’re eager to defend yours, but the difference between us is that I’m not claiming that the referee wants me to win. *ducks, bobs and weaves*.

    • End Bringer on September 28, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    “End Bringer, if there were significant debate between scientists about the structure of the atom, as there once was; and if scientific instruments, on observing the same atoms, came up with ten or twelve different structures of the atom depending on the person doing the observing; then indeed I would be applying the same standard to my points about God as to my points about science.”

    A lame dodge. You implicitly admit you haven’t experienced any of the events personally and are relying exclusively on the experience of others. That sounds quite like what you’ve been complaining against.

    “What I hear about science is more reliable because everyone, conducting the same tests, sees the same thing…”

    BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! Oh, the amount of arguments and controversies within the scientific community that I could name off the top of my head puts the falsehood to this claim! It’s hardly as uniform as you want to describe it.

    And you still miss the point. You wail against people not personally experiencing something, but you are quite willing to accept the accounts of others rather than solely your personal experience….so long as the subject conforms to your worldview rather than reevaluate it.

    “I am open to persuasion as to why improving other people’s lives is not what we should be doing. What are your arguments against it?”

    Another dodge. My arguement is ‘why should we be for it, especially if you’re not “invincibly certain” about it?’ Is there some object standard of morality that says I should be concerned about others? Where does that standard come from?

    “You seem to be confused between “holding an opinion” and “being certain of an opinion”.”

    You seem to be confused that if you’re not certain about an opinion, you probably shouldn’t hold it (or at mininumum advocate it). And no one is inclined to listen until you are.

    “Sure, I’m eager to defend my corner, and you’re eager to defend yours, but the difference between us is that I’m not claiming that the referee wants me to win.”

    Actually the difference seems to be you think the fight’s still going while you’re on the floor and unconcious.

    • Alex on September 28, 2011 at 4:29 pm

    Why should not being invincibly certain of an opinion mean that one shouldn’t expose it to the rigor of debate? It is in truth those propositions of which we are least certain, that we should be most fearful of exposing to debate. Debate trains one to understand more clearly the reasons for and against holding the opinions that one does. The purpose of debate is not to harangue opponents about the self-evident truth of propositions of which one is invincibly certain. At least, for me that’s not the purpose. Is it for you?

    I don’t think we disagree about areas where both the Bible and human reason agree that we should treat our fellow human beings with kindness, End Bringer. At least, I hope we don’t. Where we disagree is what we should do when the Bible tells us to treat our fellow man brutally (such as, for example, by putting him to the sword for offenses his ancestors committed), and human reason still tells us to treat him with kindness. In such cases, I go with what causes the least suffering to human beings here on Earth. If someone wishes to construct a complicated scenario in which I, by making them suffer here on Earth, am actually sparing them the eternal pains of hell or some such other thing, then that is nothing more than the reasoning of the Inquisitor, and I reject it utterly. You could potentially argue that there is no “objective” reason to use that rule, but in truth there are very real reasons for using it. I see it in the smiles of a bright child who gets an education, rather than having to grub for roots for the rest of her days. I see it in the happiness of a mother who has some security for her old age instead of having to live out her life in a slum. What is “real” and “objective” is not a remote theological proposition, End Bringer; it’s the real people in front of you. Jesus had a word for people who put theology over practical kindness, and that word was “Pharisee”.

    I’m very familiar with the existence of scientific controversies. However, you were the one who advanced the example of the splitting of the atom. That was a genuine scientific controversy in the early 20th century, because scientists hadn’t figured out how to do it and disagreed on how to achieve it. Now, all scientists in that field know how to do it, and there is no need for a controversy on that specific topic.

    Instead, the biggest controversy in particle physics has moved on to the question of the Higgs boson and how particles have mass, and scientists genuinely disagree about that now because nobody has yet been able to design a practical experiment whose results would distinguish between the competing hypotheses.

    Religious reasoning just doesn’t work like this. It doesn’t incorporate a process for defining what we already know and then building on that to find out more things. Instead, it presents as unchanging and unchallengeable a specific set of unfalsifiable propositions, and designates anyone who disagrees with them as heretical and unpleasing to God. A scientist who said, “Einstein wrote this a century ago and it is wrong to question or test whether it is true” would be considered a laughingstock, not a pillar of theological purity. And that is the difference between the two types of knowledge. One is systematic, the other arbitrary; one rejoices in the progress of knowledge, the other abhors it; one gives space to the human spirit, and the other seeks as far as possible to keep it chained.

    • End Bringer on September 28, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    “Why should not being invincibly certain of an opinion mean that one shouldn’t expose it to the rigor of debate? It is in truth those propositions of which we are least certain, that we should be most fearful of exposing to debate.”

    You’ve seem to have answered your own question. If we shouldn’t expose uncertain opinions, and according to you we shouldn’t be certain about anything, then it seems like you should just keep things to yourself. Always.

    “Where we disagree is what we should do when the Bible tells us to treat our fellow man brutally (such as, for example, by putting him to the sword for offenses his ancestors committed), and human reason still tells us to treat him with kindness. In such cases, I go with what causes the least suffering to human beings here on Earth.”

    In other words you prefer to pick and choose what you’ll believe so long as it conforms to your personal comfort zone, while I accept things as a whole and grow less squeamish.

    And it’s again not very “humble” to speak as if your personal feelings were the standard of “human reason” as there are plenty who would hold “human reason” says something totally different.

    “You could potentially argue that there is no “objective” reason to use that rule, but in truth there are very real reasons for using it.”

    You can speak to a world of rainbows and sweets falling from the sky all you like, but it’s frankly irrelevant. Because for everyone like you, there’s someone else who takes joy in bringing about pain and suffering on others. And since you’re now appealing to nothing but your personal opinions and feelings, it has no more worth than a bucket of spit.

    The only way it can be otherwise is if there is an objective standard of morality that transcends Mankind and thus we’re all beholden too. But then that opens up the door to proof of God, and being invincibly certain, and sometimes using more than just words. Essentially all those things you’re uncomfortable with.

    “Jesus had a word for people who put theology over practical kindness, and that word was “Pharisee”.”

    *snort* Actually he was speaking out against this notion that a better world could come about simply by our own efforts.

    “I’m very familiar with the existence of scientific controversies. However, you were the one who advanced the example of the splitting of the atom.”

    Again, lack of basic reading skills seems to plague the discussion. As the splitting of the atom was just an example. The real point was how you came about your knowledge of it. Did you personally witness anything, or did you read about it from a text book someone else wrote?

    “Religious reasoning just doesn’t work like this.”

    Neither does any other reasoning. But I hardly think you’re ready to throw out things like the Civil War. And you’d still have to throw out most of science on the basis you didn’t personally participate in the experimants or witness anything. That is if you want to be consistent.

    “Instead, it presents as unchanging and unchallengeable a specific set of unfalsifiable propositions, and designates anyone who disagrees with them as heretical and unpleasing to God.”

    Wrong! “Religion” is just a worldview about existence and how it works. It’s why I’ve never accepted the notion a-theism is not a religious belief. Quite frankly even “science” is a religious notion, in that you have to believe the world is indeed guided by uniformed rules that one can test. And I’ve never heard a good explanation to why the rules are indeed uniformed, in an athestic universe. One would think an existence without an intelligent guide would be more random than orderly.

    “A scientist who said, “Einstein wrote this a century ago and it is wrong to question or test whether it is true” would be considered a laughingstock, not a pillar of theological purity.”

    Funny, because if you start questioning Old Earth, Global Warming (or “Climate Change” as it’s called now), and/or Evolution you don’t seem to be held in a very admiring light in the scientific community. So I think your amusingly romantic notions about science always being systematicly self-examining is rather naive and has missed the last 10 years.

    • Alex on September 28, 2011 at 5:34 pm

    End Bringer, you can be as lordly as you like and dismiss people with actual humanitarian principles as “squeamish” and “naive”; but I would far rather be the person bringing hope and happiness to others, than the person denouncing their hope and happiness in the name of a numinous and invisible being. The good I am doing through my work, in helping girls in Africa get an education, is absolutely real, and it would still be good if God did not exist.

    The evidence is piling up against your worldview, End Bringer. It already takes a truly heroic level of willed ignorance to believe that the Earth is six thousand years old, that evolution is not occurring, and that human activity is not affecting the climate. The task will only get more difficult for you and for people who think like you. To take just one tiny piece of evidence among many, scientists are now observing stars whose light took more than eleven billion years to reach Earth, travelling at a speed almost beyond human imagination. Or is that all just a gigantic anti-Christian plot too? 🙂

    Perhaps the entire universe is actually a plot to deceive honest Christians such as yourself. How are those white knuckles of yours feeling?

    You’re not “seeing the whole”. No human can. You and I are both humans trying to figure this stuff out. And your preferred tactic seems to be to arbitrarily reject any scientific finding that might threaten your religious belief, so don’t talk to me about “picking and choosing”.

    The whole point of science is that you don’t have to “believe” that the world is governed by uniform rules or non-uniform rules. You can go out and test more or less any law of physics for yourself, and everyone does test some of those rules in school science classes. You can develop ways of measuring any of these laws, and they will produce the same results pretty much wherever you go. Unlike for religion, science doesn’t make statements about stuff that cannot be measured or detected and that therefore cannot be proved or disproved.

    • End Bringer on September 28, 2011 at 8:36 pm

    “End Bringer, you can be as lordly as you like and dismiss people with actual humanitarian principles as “squeamish” and “naive”; but I would far rather be the person bringing hope and happiness to others, than the person denouncing their hope and happiness in the name of a numinous and invisible being.”

    heh. Difference being that hope and happiness can only be achieved by being realistic. So while you may have laudible goals, you’re way of things isn’t going to achieve it to any great degree, but rather ensure the exact opposite.

    “The good I am doing through my work, in helping girls in Africa get an education, is absolutely real, and it would still be good if God did not exist.”

    No actually it wouldn’t. Because as you repeatedly don’t realize is that the very standard of “good” wouldn’t exist without God. It would just be “good” in your personal opinion, which is no more meaningful to a different opinion.

    “The evidence is piling up against your worldview, End Bringer.”

    What evidence? All you keep doing is give worthless assertions, and blatantly dismiss examples to the contrary.

    “It already takes a truly heroic level of willed ignorance to believe that the Earth is six thousand years old, that evolution is not occurring, and that human activity is not affecting the climate.”

    See? You yourself prove my assesment that the attitude of questioning the status quo ‘in the progress for knowledge’ in science is a more of a total crock in practice than you make it out to be. That we should just blindly accept what other people have told us about events we have not personally experienced (and can’t in macro-evolutions case). Oh, the irony is too rich.

    “To take just one tiny piece of evidence among many, scientists are now observing stars whose light took more than eleven billion years to reach Earth, travelling at a speed almost beyond human imagination. Or is that all just a gigantic anti-Christian plot too?”

    No, that’s just an example of the human tendency to jump to conclusions based on very little knowledge as we’ve only been appreciably studing the cosmos for a little over 60 years (barely any time at all). Especially since other studies have shown speed of light isn’t nearly as constant as claimed, and I hear one guy made a big deal about space and time not being so constant either. 😉

    “Perhaps the entire universe is actually a plot to deceive honest Christians such as yourself. How are those white knuckles of yours feeling?”

    With these jr high objections pulled out from the internet? I haven’t even dirtied my nails yet.

    “You’re not “seeing the whole”. No human can.”

    Funny, how you say that when no less than a minute ago, you were claiming knowledge of the universe and thousands of years with such invincible certainty. I’m beginning to think you’re bi-polar with these mood swings between smug condescention and smug humility.

    “And your preferred tactic seems to be to arbitrarily reject any scientific finding that might threaten your religious belief, so don’t talk to me about “picking and choosing”.”

    Heh. No I’m differentiating between the ‘systematic science’ that brought us the lightbulb and the computer, and the method to simply assume things and use guesswork, with no possible way to falsify it, that’s being called “science”.

    Interestingly all of your prefered “science” is more the latter. Or have you come up with an experiment that allows us to see all of ‘millions of years of evolution’ in a testible and repeatable fashion?

    “The whole point of science is that you don’t have to “believe” that the world is governed by uniform rules or non-uniform rules. You can go out and test more or less any law of physics for yourself, and everyone does test some of those rules in school science classes.”

    Actually you DO have to believe those laws are uniform before you test them. Otherwise the very act of testing would make no sense. And it’s only “some” of those tests that would account for the the 1%-10% of the knowledge you can retain under your standard.

    “Unlike for religion, science doesn’t make statements about stuff that cannot be measured or detected and that therefore cannot be proved or disproved.”

    Really? And what scientific test did you perform on this belief to prove it as true? Because you seem “invincibly certain” of this.

    Sadly for your argument, most of what you know can’t be detected by science either. You can’t “measure” love, or hope, or happiness. You can’t detect WW2 or the Lunar Landing. Heck, you can’t even scientificly test abstracts like 2+2=4. “Science” is just one method of investigation, with a very limited field to be used in. “Religion” by it’s nature simply requires another, but you refuse to admit this because it would mean you’re wrong in your assesment. Which shows you to be rather lacking in REAL ‘humility’.

    • Timaahy on September 29, 2011 at 5:36 am

    “The good I am doing through my work, in helping girls in Africa get an education, is absolutely real, and it would still be good if God did not exist.”

    No actually it wouldn’t.

    That is one of the most idiotic statements I have ever seen in print.

    • Timaahy on September 29, 2011 at 5:42 am

    Especially since other studies have shown speed of light isn’t nearly as constant as claimed

    Fail.

    No one claims that the speed of light is constant. Its speed is demonstrably dependent on the medium through which it travels. For your statement to have any credibility at all in relation to Alex’s point, you would have to be claiming that space hasn’t always been almost entirely a vacuum.

    There has been a recent study that purports to show that the speed of light in a vacuum isn’t a universal maximum, but that study is awaiting independent confirmation.

    • Alex (Patron Saint of the Confused) on September 29, 2011 at 7:48 am

    have you come up with an experiment that allows us to see all of ‘millions of years of evolution’ in a testible and repeatable fashion?

    Actually, though you may not recall this, you and I had a long discussion over on The Cypress Times on the exact topic of an thirty-year experiment that had successfully demonstrated in the lab the evolution of tens of thousands of generations of bacteria in a testable and repeatable way. Your response was to declare that the scientists doing the experiment must have been cheating. You may pretend to believe in only the best science, but in practice your measure of whether you accept a scientific finding is whether you perceive it to conflict with your religious preconceptions, not the quality of the scientific work itself.

    • End Bringer on September 29, 2011 at 11:34 am

    I do recall that discussion. And as I recall pointing out that the experiment didn’t really achieve anything of note as the bacteria remained bacteria (ie not macroevoluttion), and that given the need of repeatability in science one isolated incident is a far cry from solid “proof”.

    I really don’t recall any claim of scientists “cheating” (I think it’s that lack of basic reading skills again), but more that since evolutionists are so eager to tout results (one has to wonder WHY so eager) little to no time was given to give the results scrutiny to see what was really going on, as there have indeed been major evolutionary claims that turned out to be hoaxes.

    “You may pretend to believe in only the best science…”

    Heh. And that’s the nail in the coffin to your perceptions Alex. It’s not believing in the “best science”. It’s believing in the ACTUAL science. And sadly for you the ACTUAL science isn’t equipped to answer things like past incidents like ‘millions of years of evolution’. Which is why you give excuses, rather than an experiment we can all witness and repeat a thousand times.

    • End Bringer on September 29, 2011 at 11:52 am

    Timny:

    “No one claims that the speed of light is constant. Its speed is demonstrably dependent on the medium through which it travels.”

    So we’re back to you speaking for everyone and me proving you wrong and kicking your statement in the teeth, are we? Alex’s example was in the scenerio of space and my statement was in the scenerio of space. Because people do say the speed of light is constant IN SPACE, and thus I’m saying light hasn proved to not have such a constant speed IN SPACE.

    Much like the rest of the “science” that is used to prove the Bible false, it’s not based on actual observation and experimentation, but rather on assumptions needed for the theory to work, and which can’t be questioned because then there wouldn’t be evidence against other beliefs.

    “For your statement to have any credibility at all in relation to Alex’s point, you would have to be claiming that space hasn’t always been almost entirely a vacuum.”

    Ever hear of a little thing called “gravity”? I hear that’s been known to have an interesting affect on light.

    • Alex (Patron Saint of the Confused) on September 30, 2011 at 7:00 am

    Gnngnh. End Bringer, this is a very frustrating conversation.

    When we talk religion, then at least I have studied and helped to teach courses in it. On the other hand, your understanding of science is so bizarre that no scientist would recognize it – for example, you believe that the entire discipline of statistics is unscientific and invalid.

    So, Timaahy, there is really very little point in discussing anything to do with science with him. It will always end up at cross-purposes. How can one help End Bringer understand that evolution is not disproved by the fact that a bacterium evolved into another type of bacterium rather than, say, a mouse, in the lab? He’s working with the definitions of fundamentalist non-scientists who have carefully redefined “evolution” into something entirely different from scientists’ definitions and that would be impossible to prove, in order to shore up their faith. I feel sorry for him that people have messed with his head so much on this, but is he really going to be persuaded differently by a coupla heathen like us?

    • End Bringer on September 30, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    “End Bringer, this is a very frustrating conversation.”

    They usually are when someone hasn’t thought about their arguments carefully.

    “When we talk religion, then at least I have studied and helped to teach courses in it. On the other hand, your understanding of science is so bizarre that no scientist would recognize it – for example, you believe that the entire discipline of statistics is unscientific and invalid.”

    As for your suppose study of religion, if you did I’d give you a C-, at best. As for my knowledge of science, it’s actually one everyone would recognize so long as they passed Middle School. It simply isn’t the method used to “prove” the more controversal areas of “science”. Because it can’t.

    “…for example, you believe that the entire discipline of statistics is unscientific and invalid.”

    I’d say that’s due to your poor reading skills again. As I don’t recall every saying statistics were “invalid”. It just isn’t really “science”. But considering how the two is synonymous for you, I can see how you’d be confused.

    “How can one help End Bringer understand that evolution is not disproved by the fact that a bacterium evolved into another type of bacterium rather than, say, a mouse, in the lab?”

    I’m wondering how one can make Liberals like you understand what’s ACTUALLY being argued. It’s not that bacteria changing within it’s kind disproves ‘evolution’. The argument is that it doesn’t prove MACROevolution, which is where the controversy is. Again, it’s till people like yourself retake some basic English courses, that no progress is going to be made. Because the probelm is really in your lack of understanding than in mine.

    • Alex (Patron Saint of the Confused) on October 1, 2011 at 6:34 pm

    End Bringer, there is no controversy among scientists regarding “micro-evolution” and “macro-evolution”. For scientists, there is no such thing: there is only evolution, a single process of mutation and natural selection. The process by which a bacterium evolves a mutation that enables it to digest a new food is evolution; the process by which a fish evolves, over many more generations, into a lizard is also evolution. Insofar as scientists have used these terms “micro-evolution” and “macro-evolution”, it is only to distinguish the perspective by which one views that single process – viewing it across a few generations, or across many thousands of generations.

    Fundamentalists, knowing that they cannot dispute the fact that mutation and natural selection is happening, have latched onto and decided to misuse this terminology, suggesting in the face of the science that the two are entirely different processes, and that the one that contravenes their reading of the Bible is the one that they have carefully defined such that it cannot be proven in the lab on any human timescale; but there isn’t a scientist in the world who sees the matter that way.

    What you are arguing with respect to evolution, the age of the universe and so on is not an argument within science. By all means argue that what appears to be true from a human perspective is not true from your imaginary genocidal God’s perspective; but don’t claim the mantle of “science” for your entirely theologically-based claims.

    As for my study of religion, of course you’d give me a C-. Any fundamentalist probably would. However, I am capable of going, and have on many occasions gone, toe to toe with people for whom religion is their professional calling, and have held my own in terms of knowledge of the Bible. Don’t confuse holding a different view of it to you with ignorance of its content. I may well have read more of it and in more depth than you have.

    Since you have alleged repeatedly that I have poor English reading skills, I’ll do what I don’t usually do, and whap you round the head with my qualification on the subject, OK? I really doubt that I would have been able to graduate magna cum laude in English from the top-ranked university in the world with poor English reading skills. Give it up already – you’re not convincing anyone.

    • End Bringer on October 2, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    “End Bringer, there is no controversy among scientists regarding “micro-evolution” and “macro-evolution”.”

    Wrong. There are plenty of scientists that dispute MACRO-evolution, because change within kind (micro) is indeed inherently different than changing from one kind of thing to another like a bird into a reptile (macro). They just get harrassed and discredited as not being scientists in a classic No True Scottsman. Which goes to further show that there’s less enthusiasm for questioning things within science than you’d like to admit.

    “What you are arguing with respect to evolution, the age of the universe and so on is not an argument within science.”

    You keep spouting the most stagnantly ignorant statements. You’ve either been living in a cave, or have just plainly ignored the last century of history in regards to these issues. They are all indeed argued within science, and the terminology in regards to evolution is just as I described it. Your attempt at dodging the reality that the scientific community is not as united and has it’s own share of dogmatic attitude you normally equate to religion is truly sad.

    “As for my study of religion, of course you’d give me a C-. Any fundamentalist probably would.”

    No, it’s anyone who got passed Sunday school lessons. 😉

    “Don’t confuse holding a different view of it to you with ignorance of its content.”

    Can’t help it when “different view” is more aptly described as “being wrong”. If you think there’s nothing signifiicant in a “fundamentalist” giving you a poor grade, then there’s little point in you critiquing yourself either.

    “Since you have alleged repeatedly that I have poor English reading skills, I’ll do what I don’t usually do, and whap you round the head with my qualification on the subject, OK?”

    You can toot your own horn all you like. The fact is your performance speaks for itself. You can either be unable to grasp what is being said, or you are simply unwilling to understand what is being said. You seem to be saying you’re the latter, which is even more pathetic because the former is at least excusible.

    • End Bringer on October 2, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macroevolution:

    Macroevolution is evolution on a scale of separated gene pools. Macroevolutionary studies focus on change that occurs at or above the level of species, in contrast with microevolution, which refers to smaller evolutionary changes (typically described as changes in allele frequencies) within a species or population.

    Russian entomologist Yuri Filipchenko first coined the terms “macroevolution” and “microevolution” in 1927 in his German language work, “Variabilität und Variation”.

    Quick! Someone should tell Wikipedia that they’ve been taken over by Fundamentalists! And that Yuri was NOT in fact an entomologist! Because Alex can’t possibly be talking with his foot in his mouth!

    • Timaahy on October 3, 2011 at 3:59 am

    I really doubt that I would have been able to graduate magna cum laude in English from the top-ranked university in the world with poor English reading skills.

    You went to the Moody Bible Institute…?! Why didn’t you tell us?! 🙂

    To be honest, Alex, I’m surprised you lasted as long as you did… a science discussion with someone who thinks it worthwhile to say that science hasn’t proven “macroevolution” is simply a discussion not worth having.

    Is he really going to be persuaded differently by a coupla heathen like us?

    No. Mostly because he doesn’t want to be persuaded. Ignorance, as they say, is bliss.

    As for your “poor reading skills”, I wouldn’t worry about the opinion of someone who once wrote “Poor literary and reasoning skills doesn’t help you either”.

    • Alex (Patron Saint of the Confused) on October 3, 2011 at 7:22 am

    Yah, ya got me. Moody Bible Institute it is! 🙂

    End Bringer, your quotation from Wikipedia defines “macro-evolution” in exactly the way I did: as a different perspective on the same process. It doesn’t define macro-evolution as a different process. For that, presumably you will need to refer to Conservapedia. 🙂

    There are plenty of scientists that dispute MACRO-evolution

    Interesting. Would you care to name one?

    • Alex (Patron Saint of the Confused) on October 3, 2011 at 7:25 am

    Can we also note the full quote from the Wikipedia article?

    Russian entomologist Yuri Filipchenko first coined the terms “macroevolution” and “microevolution” in 1927 in his German language work, “Variabilität und Variation”. Since the inception of the two terms, their meanings have been revised several times and the term macroevolution fell into limited disfavour when it was taken over by such writers as the geneticist Richard Goldschmidt (1940) and the paleontologist Otto Schindewolf to describe their orthogenetic theories. A more practical definition of the term describes it as changes occurring on geological time scales, in contrast to microevolution, which occurs on the timescale of human lifetimes. This definition reflects the spectrum between micro- and macro-evolution, whilst leaving a clear difference between the terms: because the geological record rarely has a resolution better than 10,000 years, and humans rarely live longer than 100 years, “meso-evolution” is never observed.”

    What a fraud you are, End Bringer. How you have any intellectual self-respect left is a mystery to me.

    • Alex (Patron Saint of the Confused) on October 3, 2011 at 7:43 am

    See, if you’re going to argue that micro-evolution exists and macro-evolution doesn’t, you’re going to have to postulate some additional and external scientifically observable process that at some point would stop the one from turning into the other. Why should anybody think that the ordinary process of mutation and natural selection should ever artificially stop, rather than continuing in response to the external pressures of available food, reproductive opportunities and habitat? What’s your theory here?

    • Alex (Patron Saint of the Confused) on October 3, 2011 at 8:29 am

    Oh…

    I think I see…

    Your theory of evolution is conditioned on your being a Young Earth Creationist. If indeed the Earth had only been around for six thousand years, then it simply hasn’t been around long enough for “macro-evolution” to start occurring in a way that is demonstrable from the fossil record. Am I right?

    If that’s so, then you don’t need to postulate a process that intervenes to stop evolution from occurring, but we should really be discussing your Young Earth Creationism rather than your views on evolution.

    • Timaahy on October 3, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    Those last two comments are exactly what I’d been thinking, Alex.

    And, to bring it back to the original post, it’s exactly why it’s pointless to discuss the morality of a thing with someone like End Bringer… no matter how far into the argument you get, you’re still dealing with someone who believes in talking snakes.

    • Anthony on October 3, 2011 at 3:51 pm
      Author

    I haven’t been following things here. Still, I see the comments come into my email box.

    The last two seem way off.

    First of all, Tim, your last comment is wrong. What is your objection to believing in a talking snake? You believe that animals talk, too, so why are you in a superior position to a Christian who believes that there was one particular moment where a snake talked? Note: that’s different than believing in ‘talking snakes.’ That Balaam’s donkey talked was notable because donkeys don’t talk. Likewise the serpent in the garden. You’re the one that believes in talking animals as a general phenomena.

    Second of all, to Alex:

    See, if you’re going to argue that micro-evolution exists and macro-evolution doesn’t, you’re going to have to postulate some additional and external scientifically observable process that at some point would stop the one from turning into the other. Why should anybody think that the ordinary process of mutation and natural selection should ever artificially stop, rather than continuing in response to the external pressures of available food, reproductive opportunities and habitat? What’s your theory here?

    This is one of the most uninformed comments that I think I have ever seen. Have you any knowledge of genetics at all? It is completely the opposite of what you say. What we need to see is some reason why we should think that microevolution can be extrapolated to macroevolution, not the other way around. You really think we are wanting for a mechanism that is a check on the amount of variation evolution can produce? Really? Seriously?

    Gosh, I thought we all knew why we don’t let cousins marry. 😉

    • End Bringer on October 3, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    “End Bringer, your quotation from Wikipedia defines “macro-evolution” in exactly the way I did: as a different perspective on the same process.”

    Congratulations Alex. I didn’t think it was possible to dance with one foot, since your other one is so preoccupied, but you’ve somehow pulled it off. Bravo.

    Your exact words:

    “End Bringer, there is no controversy among scientists regarding “micro-evolution” and “macro-evolution”. For scientists, there is no such thing: there is only evolution, a single process of mutation and natural selection.

    Insofar as scientists have used these terms “micro-evolution” and “macro-evolution”, it is only to distinguish the perspective by which one views that single process – viewing it across a few generations, or across many thousands of generations. ”

    You can claim the whole “generation” thing all you like, wikipedia clearly established the distinction is in SCALE rather than time: one is change within a kind (micro), and one is change from one to another kind (macro). Your claim of “generations” is only relevant because it takes so many for MACRO to supposedly occur, and can therefore convieniantly never be observed. Even more interesting, the very fact there IS a distinction between the two terms, seems to indicate it’s NOT in fact “only evolution” as you claim, but instead two kinds of ‘evolution’.

    As for your rebuttal of the rest of the wiki quote, perhaps you missed the part of “…their meanings have been revised several times…”, though it’s funny how the “practical definition” ISN’T the definition you see when it’s first described, isn’t it? 😉

    Face it, Alex. You’ve been trying to equivocate and have been proven wrong. The “perspective” you described, is not even remotely close to how the two terms are being used within this discussion specificly or in the whole evolutionary debate in general, and my usage of it was entirely correct – MACRO-evolution is what’s disputed, and is distinct from micro-evolution.

    The only examples you can claim follow the scientific method of observation and experimention are all examples of MICRO-evolution. Ipso facto your belief in evolution (and I mean the MACRO-evolution that directly contrasts with ID and/or Creationism), is purely one of blind faith than because it’s scientificly proven.

    Because it can’t be scientificly proven. Only asserted as true, and dogmaticly maintained without question. Which sounds a bit like what you’ve been wailing against, doesn’t it? 😉

    “Would you care to name one?”

    I can easily give the 600-700 signatures of the Discovery Institute, and now you’ll predictibly argue it doesn’t count because some aren’t biologists (and they never claimed to be all biologists either), and only they qualify as scientists or something like that.

    “See, if you’re going to argue that micro-evolution exists and macro-evolution doesn’t, you’re going to have to postulate some additional and external scientifically observable process that at some point would stop the one from turning into the other. Why should anybody think that the ordinary process of mutation and natural selection should ever artificially stop, rather than continuing in response to the external pressures of available food, reproductive opportunities and habitat?”

    Excuse me? YOU are the one making the claim, my friend. It’s up to you to meet the burden of proof, not me. Why should anyone believe the process will continue indefinitely if such conditions are available, when it hasn’t been observed to be the case? Repeatedly. I thought you were going for “scientificly proven” here.

    Or are you throwing in the towel and admitting MACRO is more of a leap of faith than scientificly proven?

    “If indeed the Earth had only been around for six thousand years, then it simply hasn’t been around long enough for “macro-evolution” to start occurring in a way that is demonstrable from the fossil record. Am I right?”

    Oh, I can easily give you the Cambrian explosion of millions of years and it still doesn’t give evolution enough time to work. Unless of course, it works very slowly normally and very quickly when the theory conveniantly needs it. How an we know? No one was around to observe the process so evolutionists can say whatever they like.

    “…but we should really be discussing your Young Earth Creationism rather than your views on evolution.”

    Because you love derailing from one topic to another? It’s enough for me to see the whole “humility”, “no invincible certainty”, and ‘always question everything’ attitude you tried earlier has been shown to be largely an act. Because when it comes down to it, you easliy show your true colors to be more self-assured and condescending than anything else.

    • End Bringer on October 3, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    “Ignorance, as they say, is bliss.”

    The voice from a blissful experience, is it? 😉

    • Alex on October 3, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    Anthony,

    Your proposed mechanism would make sense only if sexual reproduction within a species led to the species becoming highly genetically identical, and therefore leading to high rates of sterility within that species. Sexual reproduction does not work that way. It continually recombines an extremely large number of genes, leading to a potentially unending series of combinations; and scientists estimate that 1-2% of the genes in each human being are mutated, meaning that they contain an amino-acid in a particular place that differs from the amino-acid in that place in either parent. Mutations are, if you like, copying errors as the gene reproduces. Most have no effect; a few confer a significant disadvantage; even fewer confer a competitive advantage relative to the genes of either parent. So I do not see how any species would, over time, become more and more identical, given a reasonable starting population size, and scientists as far as I know do not observe that happening either. So we are still to seek for some mysterious process that would stop evolution in its tracks.

    End Bringer, I don’t know where to begin, but if you answer this question, I will try. What is hypothetically the kind of evidence that you would accept that would convince you that macro-evolution has indeed occurred, even in a single instance?

    Regarding your “700 scientists”: the only reference I could find on the Discovery Institute was a casual quotation of a Newsweek article from 1987 suggesting that there were “by one count” 700 scientists who “give credence to creation science”. I can’t find the list, but if you can give me a link to a list, I’ll happily look it over.

    For the moment, all I can observe is that the Discovery Institute’s 26-member Board contains the following people with scientific qualifications:

    1 nuclear engineer
    1 specialist in the history and philosophy of science

    As an Institute, then, it does not have anyone at all on its board who has so much as a college major in biology. On what ground do you consider such people to be more able to judge the validity of evolution than the community of scholars who have actually taken courses in biology? What, they couldn’t rustle up even one disaffected specialist in genetics?

    This is nothing against them. They seem to be lawyers, retired civil servants, the occasional theologian and businessman, plenty of people with training in communications and government. I have a degree in public policy myself, so who am I to judge?

    But the fact remains: if I want good hardware, I go to a hardware store and consult people with expertise in hardware. I don’t go to an ice-cream shop and ask them about the merits of different types of saw. But that appears to be more or less what you’re doing.

    • Anthony on October 3, 2011 at 5:39 pm
      Author

    Dude, that’s just ONE limitation.

    “Your proposed mechanism would make sense only if sexual reproduction within a species led to the species becoming highly genetically identical,”

    Uh, no. That’s really not the issue at all. The point is that due to the nature of sexual reproduction, if there is not sufficient genetic diversity among the two organisms, any deleterious mutations will have a high probability of being expressed- usually to the great detriment of the resulting offspring… which, we should add, will also not likely be able to reproduce, either because it is sterile, or because its mama and papa leave it for dead, or because it gets separated from the ‘pack’ and eaten up. The upshot is… it’s dead, so it can’t reproduce, hence, that would be a limit on just how far microevolution could go.

    Please note, I didn’t at say this was the only limit. It’s just the one we are most familiar with as lay people.

    “Most have no effect; a few confer a significant disadvantage; even fewer confer a competitive advantage relative to the genes of either parent.”

    Right-oh. 🙂 In other words, what is observed is that in the main, the genome remains relatively stable. The copying procedures do a bang up job, all things considered. So, now that you have said it yourself, how on earth can you say that the burden is on the microevolutionist to show that it will not eventually lead to macroevolutionary changes? On your own showing, most mutations have no effect- a few confer a significant disadvantage (increasingly likely to be expressed in inbreeding), while FEWER YET confer an advantage.

    On that basis, if what you said there is true- and it is- then it is self-evident that the one who has the burden of demonstration is the one claiming that microevolution can lead to macroevolutionary changes.

    I would point you to the book “Genetic Entropy” by John C Sanford (Link) as an excellent showing of just how significant the problem of nearly-neutral mutations are re: the genome.

    “given a reasonable starting population size,”

    Oh well, then. Nothing like positing a healthy and diverse genetic pool right from the start. 🙂 Thank God the first organisms all spontaneously popped into existence at the right time to ensure we had a ‘reasonable starting size.’ lol

    “So we are still to seek for some mysterious process that would stop evolution in its tracks.”

    Clearly, you haven’t thought through the matter. You are contradicting yourself. There isn’t a ‘mysterious process’ being looked for. We already know what the bounds are, and you just listed one of your own. There is a reason why after 10 million trillion quadrillion generations of fruit fly evolution the population (thankfully starting with a large population size- but don’t ask where that came from! lol) the end result is still…. fruit flies. And cows are still cows and dogs are still cows and finches are still finches and doves are still doves and so on and so forth. ‘Mysterious process’? You’ve got to be kidding me. General stasis- or variation within limits- is precisely what we observe. Which of us is relying on actual observations here?

    Obviously, I have to leave it here. I am not an expert, and I know how that rates. So I’ll leave my mention of Sanford and ask anyone here who has higher credentials than he to set me straight if they like. 🙂

    • Timaahy on October 3, 2011 at 9:11 pm

    Clearly, you haven’t thought through the matter.

    We don’t need to. That’s what the experts are for.

    One of the criticisms people levelled at Dawkins after The God Delusion was that he was commenting on theological matters that he hadn’t studied properly. Yet millions upon millions of Christians believe in a 6,000 year old universe. Interesting.

    • Timaahy on October 3, 2011 at 9:12 pm

    The voice from a blissful experience, is it?

    Ah. I see what you did there. Clever.

    • Anthony on October 3, 2011 at 9:29 pm
      Author

    “We don’t need to. That’s what the experts are for.”

    lol, I can’t believe you just said that. Are you sure that you’re the ‘free thinker’ in this conversation? 😉

    “One of the criticisms people levelled at Dawkins after The God Delusion was that he was commenting on theological matters that he hadn’t studied properly.”

    I’m one of the persons who leveled precisely that criticism. But look what you say: “that he hadn’t studied properly.” Right. And if someone does study something properly, then their statements should be dealt with respectfully and taken seriously. If they haven’t, then you don’t take it seriously (whether or not you take it respectfully is one’s personal choice. 😉 ). But you don’t have to have a PhD or be an expert to acquaint yourself with the salient facts about something and form your own judgments.

    “Yet millions upon millions of Christians believe in a 6,000 year old universe. Interesting.”

    And how do you know that those Christians haven’t ‘studied the matter properly’? Maybe they think for themselves, like good free thinkers ought to do, and leave the atheists to regurgitate whatever the ‘experts’ tell them to think and believe. 🙂

    Thanks for the fodder. I haven’t added to my “Atheists say the darndest things” list in a while. 🙂

    • Timaahy on October 3, 2011 at 10:00 pm

    I haven’t added to my “Atheists say the darndest things” list in a while.

    Haha, very good

    You don’t have to have a PhD or be an expert to acquaint yourself with the salient facts about something and form your own judgments.

    No, you don’t have to have a PhD. But your judgements are never going to be worth as much as someone who does.

    And how do you know that those Christians haven’t ‘studied the matter properly’?

    Because, in America at least, 40% of the population believe in Creationism, but only 22% hold Bachelor degrees of any kind, let alone degrees in biology, physics or geology.

    Maybe they think for themselves, like good free thinkers ought to do

    Would you say that homepaths and astrologers are also thinking for themselves?

    • Anthony on October 3, 2011 at 10:30 pm
      Author

    “No, you don’t have to have a PhD. But your judgements are never going to be worth as much as someone who does.”

    heh heh I get it. So you would have us all sit around waiting for the PhD’s to tell us what to believe. Only you got a real problem: the PhD’s don’t all agree with each other. So now what are you going to do? Find a PhD whose job it is to sort out which PhD to believe? heh heh

    Negatory, good buddy. Let me tell you how it happens in real life when faced with the fact that PhDs themselves differ. First we have someone like you who tries to take the high ground by invoking (the logical fallacy of argument from authority) the superiority of the PhD’s viewpoint. You are smart enough to know that PhD’s disagree with each other, so what do you in fact do? You search out the PhD’s that confirm your previously held/determined view of the world.

    Having found a PhD to be your patsy, you then try to avoid taking a stand on arguments and evidence by hiding behind the argument that the PhD says its true, and he’s smarter than you, so that’s it.

    That’s you. Then there is me. I also know that PhD’s contradict each other (on every miniscule point), and I also know that extensive learning should be respected. However, I know that if I’m not going to be played as a sucker, I actually need to think for myself. That means that I not only obtain information, but I learn how to process it. Thus, you will rarely, rarely, if ever, hear me cite this or that scholar in defense of a view. Instead, you will hear me present my evidence and my argument and defend it, because if I’ve gotten to that point, they are MY arguments and defenses.

    This was always the great problem with Stathei. He was utterly and completely ignorant about everything, and admitted as such. He was proud of the fact that he was a dunce. But he never responded to my arguments on their merits, and always hid behind the notion that only the experts could speak to such matters (of course, because he was ignorant, he didn’t even know what those experts said to even know if what I said was different). Ie, he merely found ‘experts’ that happened to say the sorts of things he already believed.

    This is why I will never take him seriously. It is also why I will never take 95% of all ‘free thinkers’ seriously. They aren’t free thinkers at all, and should not be regarded as such. Nor are they usually all that informed, except in what their chosen ‘expert’ confirms of their own worldview.

    “Because, in America at least, 40% of the population believe in Creationism, but only 22% hold Bachelor degrees of any kind, let alone degrees in biology, physics or geology.”

    But why should that matter? On your view, so long as there is even a single PhD in those fields who holds a creationist viewpoint, they are justified in deferring to that expert’s position.

    “Would you say that homepaths and astrologers are also thinking for themselves?”

    Distraction. Who cares? Why bother interacting and debating with people of different viewpoints if your argument can be summed up by saying, “A bunch of people I think are smarter than you think you’re wrong. I don’t know why they think that. They’re smarter than me, too. You should always defer to people smarter than you.”

    At least then we could dispense with this pretense that you have in hand any real argument or evidence to put forward. It rises and falls on nothing more than that assertion: “You should always defer to people smarter than you.”

    That’s your argument. No more, no less. Maybe YOU’RE Stathei. 😉

    Now, eventually I suppose I should get back to my forum, eh?

    • Timaahy on October 3, 2011 at 11:00 pm

    Maybe YOU’RE Stathei

    Maybe! But I still think it more likely that EB is someone’s attempt at passing the Turing test.

    Now, eventually I suppose I should get back to my forum, eh?

    As should I! I’m neglecting that topic… just when it was getting interesting, too.

    • End Bringer on October 4, 2011 at 12:55 am

    “What is hypothetically the kind of evidence that you would accept that would convince you that macro-evolution has indeed occurred, even in a single instance?”

    Evidence that it occured in actuality, or evidence that it’s even possible? For the latter, I’ve already given you the challenge of producing an experiment of ‘millions of years of evolution’ we can observe and repeat to our hearts content (ie scientific proof).

    For the former, even if the lunar landing proved man going to the moon was possible, that’s not evidence it occured ‘millions of years ago’. Since most of macro-evolution’s claims are in the distant past, I’d accept the same standards of evidence we use to verify all HISTORICAL matters – produce multiple sources witnessing and recording the event occuring. Sadly for you, since so much of it is claimed to occur BEFORE Mankind even existed (let alone started recording events), the only hypothetical proof one can possibly use is if time travel is ever achieved.

    “As an Institute, then, it does not have anyone at all on its board who has so much as a college major in biology.”

    Wow, if only I could have seen this objection comming. 😉 So when you say produce evidence that any ‘scientist’ object to evolution, are you saying only ‘biologists’ qualify as scientists now?

    And as for on what ground they can challenge evolution over so-called “experts”, I say on the grounds that if one has actually investigated the matter, and knows how the scientific method TRULY works (ie observation, experimentation, rinse and repeat), they are more than qualified to question it. Heck, I don’t even claim to be any type of scientist at all, and I have raised numerous legitimate problems with the theory-like the fact the scientific method can’t prove the disputed portions of it-simply because I’ve looked into the matter for years.

    “But the fact remains: if I want good hardware, I go to a hardware store and consult people with expertise in hardware. I don’t go to an ice-cream shop and ask them about the merits of different types of saw. But that appears to be more or less what you’re doing.”

    And what you appear to be admitting is that you simply accept what someone else tells you, rather than investigate and think for yourself. Not exactly the attitude of true skepticism. Though I find this “invincible certainty” in evolution and in ‘experts’ to be rather ironic, when so many scientific fields have only been appreciably studied for only about 100 years, and we’ve only still scratched the surface. There were “experts” claimming Aristotelian science and the Earth was the center of the universe in Galileo’s day as well. How’d that turn out?

    • End Bringer on October 4, 2011 at 1:11 am

    “But I still think it more likely that EB is someone’s attempt at passing the Turing test.”

    That’s why all the ladies say: Domo arigato Mr. Roboto. 😉

    • Alex (Patron Saint of the Confused) on October 4, 2011 at 7:28 am

    Timaahy,

    Because, in America at least, 40% of the population believe in Creationism, but only 22% hold Bachelor degrees of any kind, let alone degrees in biology, physics or geology.

    Not so! The comforting news is that this has risen over the years, and now stands at between 29% and 30%.

    I understand where you’re coming from. However, I think it’s perfectly possible for someone without a Ph.D to produce good scientific work. Holding a Ph.D is a shortcut that enables people to presume you have the appropriate skills to do good research in that area (the “sheepskin effect”). If you don’t have one, though, you have to recognize that you have a case to make to people before they will accept your expertise. It may be that the board members of the Discovery Institute in fact have mega-solid skills at evaluating or performing scientific research; but none of them, in their bios on the site, make any effort to show that they do, or seem to think it at all important that they should show that they have those skills before they pronounce on the validity of other people’s research.

    End Bringer,

    when you say produce evidence that any ‘scientist’ object to evolution, are you saying only ‘biologists’ qualify as scientists now?

    I’m saying that no human, scientist or not, is able to be expert in all areas of human knowledge at once. If I see that your Discovery Institute seems to have involved with it exactly no people with any training in biology, then that is a problem, whether you want it to be or not. Sure, people are always welcome to question accepted wisdom; but whether I believe them or not depends, not on their paper qualifications, but on their skills. (Paper qualifications can be a shortcut to showing skills, but it’s skills that are important, and people with paper qualifications can decline in skills if, for example, they become mentally ill and start producing poor-quality work). What reason do I have to suppose that the Discovery Institute folks have, not just comparable, but superior skills when it comes to speaking about the validity of evolution, compared to the entire profession of skilled biologists? With Galileo, his rightness would have been easy to disprove by observing Jupiter with a good telescope and showing it to have no observable satellites. What would disprove your point of view?

    By arguing that it would take time travel for you to accept that macro-evolution has occurred, then as I suspected, you have adopted an “immunization strategy” – you have set the standard of proof to a level that makes it certain that you will never, to your own satisfaction, be proven wrong.

    Not only does that render discussion with you about it pointless, but it also deprives your view of any scientific validity, because the truth-content of scientific hypotheses depends on their being falsifiable and then repeatedly not being falsified. Try coming up with a theory that is falsifiable, and then we can discuss whether it fits better with the available evidence than the current theory of evolution does, OK?

    Anthony,

    You’re right that Ph.Ds don’t all agree with each other. But the requirement for a matter to be considered as settled in scientific terms is not unanimity. There will always be a few cranks and crackpots on the edges, and it is rare for the cranks and crackpots to be proved right over time. When they are proved right, it’s because their contentions can be tested. So it is with “creation science”: for it to be a Galileo-like case, it has to be falsifiable. Unlike End Bringer, you’ve read Popper. You know this stuff. Apply it.

    • Anthony on October 4, 2011 at 8:03 am
      Author

    I have read Popper. I note (with a little bit of glee) that he declared macroevolutionary theory unfalsifiable. 🙂

    Until the goons got to him.

    “There will always be a few cranks and crackpots on the edges,”

    I think that is still begging the question. Labeling someone a crank and a crackpot means that you already know their ideas are nuts. But how can you know that if one is powerless to evaluate the assertions of PhDs? Some other PhD says some other PhD is a crank and the other feels the same way about him. On Tim’s view, we’re not to think that we can evaluate evidence for ourselves, so if we were being consistent, that would mean we’d have to be agnostic on that issue. We wouldn’t have any right to think of any of them as the ‘crank.’

    But folks with this view are not consistent. So, they will flail about for some other metric that will let them into the conversation. The common one is ‘consensus.’ But it all boils down to this: the person making this claim merely selects the PhD that represents their own view of the world and then finds whatever justifications they can afterwards.

    I don’t think that’s the way to go about evaluating truth claims. Here’s the way I use scholars: I rely on them to carefully lay out the relevant data and evidence; I do not have the time to do the experiments or carry out the study on this or that. Scholars themselves don’t, which is why there are different fields of study. (hence my point to you elsewhere that we all rely on ‘revelation’). However, I reserve the right to myself to evaluate significance, implication, coherency, and the like.

    Being able to do that doesn’t happen over night, either, and takes a fair bit of study, introspection, and consideration, although I don’t think they issue degrees in it. But I do know that this latter step is not the exclusive domain of any expert or PhD- it is the domain of logic, reasoning, and interpretation, which is common to all humans.

    This is much more important than an application to ‘creation science’ or ‘evolution science.’ I am assuming you invoked creationism because of earlier parts of the conversation. I honestly haven’t been reading it. Tim’s assertion that EB believes in talking snakes is what primarily caught my eye, which I found ironic, since Tim himself is a huge believer in talking animals. So, I can’t really delve into that particular application without reading what came before (and I’m not going to do that).

    • End Bringer on October 4, 2011 at 9:03 am

    “I’m saying that no human, scientist or not, is able to be expert in all areas of human knowledge at once.”

    As SJ is laying out, one doesn’t have to be an “expert” to be able to study the basic facts of the matter, or the process in which it was achieved, and be able to form a conclusion. You’ll note, how my objections with evolution has nothing to do with the nit-picky ‘facts’, but rather on the methodology they use to get there. If I find it flawed, then I’m entirely confident to be able to dismiss the flawed evidence that comes about as a result. I’m not ‘reasonably confident’ in disbelieving in evolution, because I know exactly how biology works, but simply because I know how science works.

    And frankly, given how I hold to ID, I think a mechanic or engineer has a much better perspective on the subject than a biologist.

    “By arguing that it would take time travel for you to accept that macro-evolution has occurred, then as I suspected, you have adopted an “immunization strategy” – you have set the standard of proof to a level that makes it certain that you will never, to your own satisfaction, be proven wrong.”

    I find this amusing given how proponents of evolution has done exactly the same thing by claimming any alternative view is “unscientific”. Tell me, how is macor-evolution falsifiable if it is the ONLY scientific theory? That seems to indicate there’s no way it can ever be wrong, if it has no alternative.

    As for my “immunization status”, I want you to carefully note that what I did was laid out the methods we are able to use to know if an event occured BEFORE Mankind even existed. If you find those methods inherently impossible, then that should tell you something about claims of events that happened ‘millions of years ago’.

    Again, it’s YOUR claims and beliefs that inherently occur outside anyone observing the events. Mine is mostly within the realm of human experience, and at least has one other Being observing everything. 😉

    “Not only does that render discussion with you about it pointless, but it also deprives your view of any scientific validity, because the truth-content of scientific hypotheses depends on their being falsifiable and then repeatedly not being falsified.”

    Funny, how I claim macro-evolution is unscientific, lay out a hypothetical method to prove macro-evolution be observed in a scientific method (perhaps the ONLY hypothetical method), then you cry it’s deprived of scientific validity. Are you arguing with me, agreeing with me, or just not been paying attention? 😉

    • Alex (Patron Saint of the Confused) on October 4, 2011 at 9:42 am

    I am also a believer in talking animals. What else are we? 🙂

    I’d love to see where Popper felt macro-evolution to be unfalsifiable. Do you have a reference?

    I appreciate your point that one person’s crackpot is another person’s genius. This is true, but only to a limited extent. If someone says the atmosphere is composed mainly of a nitrogen-oxygen mix, and another someone says it is composed mainly of a radon-mercury mix, then tests can be run of the composition of the atmosphere to determine who is right. In this case, the fossil evidence supports an Earth that is far older than six thousand years, and not one that fits with the Biblical timescale, much to the theological discomfort of the scientists who first found that out. The logical contortions required by Young Earth Creationists to make their ideas seem remotely plausible are analogous to the contortions required to still believe that the sun rotates around the Earth.

    In sum, everything can be argued, but not everything is plausible, and what is and is not plausible depends on observable evidence – in this case, from fossils.

    • Alex (Patron Saint of the Confused) on October 4, 2011 at 9:45 am

    End Bringer,

    Macro-evolution could be falsified if, for example, a fossil of a rabbit were discovered in Pre-Cambrian rock, or that of a human in Cenozoic-era rock. They never, ever are found, and each time they are not found adds weight and credibility to the theory of evolution as currently understood. If we didn’t have fossils as a guide, we would indeed be able to know almost nothing about life on Earth before man appeared. So let’s be more specific. Given that our only evidence consists of fossils, what fossil evidence would convince you that macro-evolution has occurred?

    • Anthony on October 4, 2011 at 9:56 am
      Author

    I’m sure that you can find out about Popper’s interaction with the Evolutionary Gestapo through some simple google searches.

    Re: Obviously, it is macroevolutionary theory that I find to engage in all sorts of unscientific contortions. I just don’t have the time to get into it. Maybe over that beer and steak when I’m in MA? However, you should know you are making some categorical errors in your recent posts to me and EB. To begin with, obviously on a YEC point of view, the fossil record is not regarded as a chronological telling of earth’s history. To evaluate a YEC contention based on the macroevolutionary premise that the fossil record records the earth’s history is to smuggle in the assumption that macroevolutionary hypothesis is correct and the YEC one is wrong.

    You cannot properly evaluate the power of an explanatory system if you do not take it on its own terms. Which is what EB is saying, and which I would echo: the relative strengths and weaknesses of a YEC position are irrelevant to the relative strengths and weaknesses of the OEC-Macroevolutionary position. The latter can, and should, be taken on its own merits. If it fails miserably and pathetically, it is no use maintaining it just because you find the alternative ridiculous. I would suggest that the person finding themselves in that situation should make himself agnostic on the matter.

    I am perfectly comfortable in addressing OEC-Macro on its own terms. And my chief contention is that it fails, and must fail, because it violates my golden rule of epistemology.

    • Alex (Patron Saint of the Confused) on October 4, 2011 at 10:32 am

    obviously on a YEC point of view, the fossil record is not regarded as a chronological telling of earth’s history.

    Excuse my ignorance. Why can the fossil record not be interpreted chronologically, according to YECs? Understand: I grew up in a country where there are many Christians, but exceedingly few YECs, so I am not very familiar even now with their arguments.

    Do you, yourself, consider it to be reasonable to interpret the fossil record chronologically?

    • Anthony on October 4, 2011 at 11:05 am
      Author

    No, I would not regard the fossil record as a chronological history of the earth. There is no reason to take this into a debate about YECism or OECism, but make it strictly geological: I believe the evidence supports the view that the earth’s geologic features should be interpreted in catastrophic terms. That is a technical term, and in the 1700s and 1800s it was regarded as a ‘mainstream’ position. In particular with Lyell, uniformitarianism became the mainstream view.

    Please understand: I do not reject uniformitarianism because the Bible tells me so. I believe the geologic evidence itself flies in the face of it, and I don’t accept as a counter argument: “A bunch of smart people think you’re wrong.” Those same smart people happily integrate catastrophism into their interpretations on a daily basis. It isn’t my fault that they refuse to apply it consistently.

    Now, you probably didn’t follow much of that and perhaps didn’t see how it was connected. You may think of it simply this way. Consider this scene: a floor with marbles scattered about and broken chards of glass near one edge.

    The uniformitarian thinks he can calculate how the room came about by assuming that each marble arrived separately, and so by counting the marbles and making some calculations about how long he thinks it takes for a marble to get there, he can make some assessments about chronology. The catastrophist does not think that chronological calculations are impossible, nor will he reject the possibility that the marbles did in fact arrive one at a time over a long time period. But, looking at the broken glass, he is willing to consider the hypothesis that what actually transpired was that a jar of marbles fell to the ground and broke, dumping out the marbles.

    The two hypotheses are mutually contradictory and must be taken on their own terms. If the uniformitarian believes an event happened at the 100th marble, that’s fine, but he cannot deploy that against the catastrophist who is positing that the marbles were all dumped at once. I believe the evidence calls for a hypothesis that begins with a catastrophe ie, that the fossil ‘record’ itself is best explained by a catastrophe.

    I am explaining this to you out of courtesy and because you asked, not because I mean to argue it. I encourage you to dig deeper, and to skeptically regard each perspective on their own terms, in their own words.

    • End Bringer on October 4, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    “Macro-evolution could be falsified if, for example, a fossil of a rabbit were discovered in Pre-Cambrian rock, or that of a human in Cenozoic-era rock.”

    Your dodging the question – If you hold that evolution is “scientific” can you admit the alternatives are “scientific” as well, in order for evolution to be falsifiable?

    As for that method “disproving” macro-evolution, I doubt that. I’m sure some half-baked theory would be used to explain it away, and it would be considered legitimate because it maintains the status quo (and of course we’re unable to look into the distant past to verify it). There’s already an admission in regards to some animals that there’s very little change throughout the fossils (crocodiles), and I’m sure something similar would be employed (they’d likely call it a “missing link” or such).

    That’s the problem when so much of macro-evolution is based more on assumption and speculation than on observation and experimentation. When it comes down to pure imagination, humans can imagine anything they like.

    “They never, ever are found, and each time they are not found adds weight and credibility to the theory of evolution as currently understood. If we didn’t have fossils as a guide, we would indeed be able to know almost nothing about life on Earth before man appeared.”

    heh. Not so much as a guide when fossil interpretation relies more on assumption and speculation than anything else, as I already said. And there’s a reason I mentioned the Cambrian explosion. The fact that they can’t find “missing links” doesn’t really add to it’s credibility. Which is why your suggestion would probably be spinned as ‘further proof’ than evidence against it.

    • Alex (Patron Saint of the Confused) on October 5, 2011 at 9:50 am

    Hi End Bringer,

    The alternatives are scientific if they can be falsified. Your theory cannot be falsified (you mentioned time travel!), and so is not scientific.

    Let’s say that a genetically modern rabbit were discovered in the Cenozoic. It would not be likely to disprove that such a thing as the Cenozoic era existed (otherwise, how to explain all the other apparently Cenozoic-era fossils?), but it would inevitably radically unsettle either our notions of how animals evolve or our understanding of how fossils come into being. That doesn’t mean that all scientists would instantly accept Young Earth Creationism; they would try to come up with alternative explanations of various kinds, because that’s how scientific careers are made; but they would no longer be able to adhere to the current scientific understanding of prehistory, and so the current scientific understanding is falsifiable.

    You glibly argue that “fossil interpretation relies on assumption and speculation”, so shall we chalk this up as an addition to your long list of Sciences End Bringer Personally Does Not Believe Are Properly Scientific? So far we’ve got archeology, astronomy, climatology, geology, physics, statistics, and now paleontology too. Any more, while we’re at it? And will there be anything left of science when you’re done?

    • End Bringer on October 5, 2011 at 10:49 am

    “The alternatives are scientific if they can be falsified. Your theory cannot be falsified (you mentioned time travel!), and so is not scientific.”

    Then neither is evolution if it can’t be falsified due to no other alternative. Seems in your attempt to denounce other beliefs, you’ve made evolution as “immunized” as you accused me.

    “Let’s say that a genetically modern rabbit were discovered in the Cenozoic. It would not be likely to disprove that such a thing as the Cenozoic era existed (otherwise, how to explain all the other apparently Cenozoic-era fossils?), but it would inevitably radically unsettle either our notions of how animals evolve or our understanding of how fossils come into being.”

    Like SJ, I don’t give much credence to fossils being a method of chronological history. Because, like macro-evolution, it’s based more on assumptions than observation. And as mentioned, there is already an explanation of why “living fossils” today are found so-called ‘millions of years ago’. So I wouldn’t put much stock in your assertion that it would ‘disprove’ or even unsettle evolutionary theory. Because it’s proven so malleable it can account for anything, without being disproven.

    “…but they would no longer be able to adhere to the current scientific understanding of prehistory, and so the current scientific understanding is falsifiable.”

    Yeah, that’s pretty much my point. They wouldn’t throw evolution out the window. They’d just tweak it to account for anything “unsettling”. As such nothing would disprove it, so much as change it a little bit. That’s not being falsifiable as much as is being endlessly malleable.

    “So far we’ve got archeology, astronomy, climatology, geology, physics, statistics, and now paleontology too. Any more, while we’re at it? And will there be anything left of science when you’re done?”

    You seem to confuse general fields of study with my taking issue with specific topics.

    • Alex (Patron Saint of the Confused) on October 5, 2011 at 11:31 am

    Then neither is evolution if it can’t be falsified due to no other alternative.

    ???

    I don’t think you understand falsification. The point is that it is possible to prove our current understanding of evolution to be false. I’m not required to come up with a new and alternative theory in order to make the current theory meet the criterion of falsifiability; falsifiability is based on the evidence that one might be able to find, not on the theory one might be able to advance to explain the evidence if it does get found. Evidence first, theory afterwards.

    I imagine that were such evidence ever to be discovered, such as a modern rabbit in very old sediments, the scientists who find the new evidence would be delighted to come up with new theories on the basis of whatever they find.

    A good example of how scientific thinking on this changes is the account of how the dinosaurs died off. It used to be thought that continuous changes in climate killed the dinosaurs. Now the prevailing theory is that the changes wrought by a massive asteroid impact killed them off. What changed scientists’ thinking was the discovery of a sedimentary layer at the exact point where the die-off appears to occur, which was very high in elements like iridium that are much more typically found in asteroids than in Earth’s geology. Oh, and also the discovery of a hitherto unknown large crater in the Yucatan that was of exactly the right age and size to account for the sedimentary layer.

    You see? Based on newly found and measurable evidence, scientists changed their conception of a key event in Earth’s prehistory, and are now refining and challenging that theory in its turn to see how well it holds up. The previous theory of gradual climate change did not fit with the evidence that was discovered, and so, rather than reinterpreting the evidence to fit their theory (as Young Earth Creationists have done), they changed their theory to better fit the evidence. That is scientific.

    You allege that evolution is “infinitely malleable”. It is not. It’s simply that the amount of physical fossil evidence that has been collected that shows that macro-evolution has been happening is by now so enormous that the only thing I can imagine shaking it is something that entirely undermines the notion of being able to date fossils on the basis of the imputed time of formation of the particular sediment in which they were found.

    That would plunge the entire field into the kind of random indeterminacy that Anthony appears to already think it is in, and it would concomitantly no longer be possible to use fossil evidence to come up with any theory of prehistory at all, whether Young Earth, Old Earth or Earth Created Yesterday in the Imagination of God.

    You seem to confuse general fields of study with my taking issue with specific topics.

    What you dispute within those fields is basic to those fields, namely and in order:
    – the datability of layers (undermines archeology, geology and paleontology)
    – the constancy of the speed of light in a vacuum (undermines astronomy and physics)
    – the ability to use computers to model planetary and larger systems (undermines climatology and astronomy)
    – the ability to make statements accurate to a certain level of confidence about a population based on taking a random sample from that population (undermines statistics)

    Without the datability of layers, what kind of archeology, geology or paleontology do you think it is possible to do? How easy do you think oil companies would find it to find oil if they didn’t know to look in layers dating to specific geological periods?

    Without the constancy and unbreakability of the speed of light, the entire structure of Einsteinian and quantum physics is left without a foundation, and we would be back to Newtonian physics alone; without that constant, we would be unable to measure the distance of stars from Earth with nearly the level of accuracy that we now can.

    Note carefully. The problem is not that you’re making objections. The problem is that you’re making objections without presenting any evidence as to why anyone should believe your objections to have merit.

    • Alex (Patron Saint of the Confused) on October 5, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    …or, more accurately, “without suggesting why the evolutionary explanation is a poor fit for the evidence that exists, or why the theory on which scientists rely when assessing the evidence (the datability of layers in which fossils are found) is not reliable”.

    • End Bringer on October 5, 2011 at 5:53 pm

    “I don’t think you understand falsification.”

    I understand it perfectly well.

    -In order for something to be considered robust science, it needs to be falsifiable.

    -Modern evolutionary theory is usually presented so that it entails unintelligent operations.

    -To falsify the claim that something is driven by unintelligent forces one would have to show how intelligent forces were at work.

    -Evolutionary apologists insist (with heapings of derision) that such a showing is outside the bounds of science.

    -But if showing design is outside the bounds of science than there is no reliable and objective way to conclude scientifically that something is not designed.

    -Therefore, macroevolutionary theory cannot be scientifically falsified at the point that it is the result of unguided natural processes since they reject as unscientific the very things that could falsify it.

    -Consequently, at one of its most controversial points- that it is unguided- macroevolutionary theory is shown to be scientifically unfalsifiable on the evolutionist’s own terms.

    “Evidence first, theory afterwards.”

    And what you fail to realize is that ID and Creationism is based on the same evidence. As SJ pointed out in his scenerio of marbles, the two theories are based on the same situation. But somehow the two are excluded as being unscientific, making evolution safely immunized.

    “You allege that evolution is “infinitely malleable”. It is not.”

    It’s been seen dozens of times when evolution hit a problem. First it was believed evolution only went ‘upward’, but now evolution can go in any direction. It was said evolution was ‘slow’, but with the mass extinciton ’65 million years ago’, it can now occur relatively ‘fast’ as needed (Gould). It was said ‘altruism’ was a problem for evolution in Darwin’s day, but now ‘altruism’ and even morality itself, is simply a by-product of evolution.

    So no. It’s not falsifiable. It is, in fact, endlessly adaptible, as it can be tweaked to accomidate any problem. The theory itself will never be proven incorrect, just our “understanding” of it.

    “What you dispute within those fields is basic to those fields,”

    No, what I dispute is a flawed method of gathering evidence, that seems to be the only way to reach these controversial issues. If a house is built on shifting sand, I’m not at all abash to point it out.

    “How easy do you think oil companies would find it to find oil if they didn’t know to look in layers dating to specific geological periods?”

    Pretty easy, since the label and depth of the specific layer is all that’s needed. I don’t think they would at all care if a layer was changed from 65 million years to 75 million years to a thousand years ago. I doubt it’d make the oil any deeper. 😉

    “Without the constancy and unbreakability of the speed of light, the entire structure of Einsteinian and quantum physics is left without a foundation, and we would be back to Newtonian physics alone; without that constant, we would be unable to measure the distance of stars from Earth with nearly the level of accuracy that we now can.”

    You mean, people’d be faced with the fact that they were wrong?! Oh-Boo-hoo-hoo. *rolls eyes* And like I said earlier the supposed speed of light has already proven to be not so constant.

    “Note carefully. The problem is not that you’re making objections. The problem is that you’re making objections without presenting any evidence as to why anyone should believe your objections to have merit.”

    *snort* I don’t need to. I’m confrontingin these issues on their own terms. If they’re flawed on their own terms, I don’t see why one should adhere to them simply because you personally find the alternatives ridiculous. That’s like finding a corpse in a room and saying it MUST be a suicide, simply because you find the hypothesized suspect to be ridiculous, while ignoring the broken door and loss of a TV.

    “…or, more accurately, “without suggesting why the evolutionary explanation is a poor fit for the evidence that exists, or why the theory on which scientists rely when assessing the evidence (the datability of layers in which fossils are found) is not reliable”.”

    Why? The reason is the same as you would have if someone suggested that the Sphinx and pyramids were created solely by unguided wind erosion. It’s a proven natural process that requires no intelligence (and thus seems to be the standard of “science” these days), but you’d likely out-right laugh at the very notion.

    Well, I have the same incredulitiy with the idea that the brain (a single organ far more complicated than the Sphinx) was develpoed purely by unguided natural processes as well. And that’s just with the brain. Don’t even get me started on the inter-dependancy of the rest of the organs.

    The difference is, when we get to any issue where God is involved, evolutionist’s/atheist’s/whatever-you-are’s incredulity gets chucked out the window, while I remain consistent in my behaviour.

    • Alex (Patron Saint of the Confused) on October 6, 2011 at 6:57 am

    All you’re saying here is that you find evolution inherently ridiculous. In much the same way, people used to find the idea of the earth rotating around the sun ridiculous – look, the moving sun is rising above a still horizon, dumbass! Mere common sense does not constitute evidence; it represents exactly the kind of accumulated prejudice that the scientific method is meant to systematically analyze.

    Evolutionary theory presumes that the process of mutation and natural selection is unguided because no evidence yet found logically necessitates a guide. To falsify this, all you have to find is evidence that does logically necessitate a guide. Creationists have tried to do this in many ways, challenging how the eye or the whale could have evolved, to take two famous examples. I appreciate the fact that creationists have mounted this challenge, because it has forced scientists to think more carefully about how eyes and whales could have evolved in unguided ways. The National Geographic had a terrific article this year on whale evolution, which I heartily recommend:

    http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2010/08/whale-evolution/mueller-text/1

    It has proven possible to articulate a process that is unguided whereby eyes and whales could have evolved, and to support those hypothesized processes with evidence from the natural world of intermediate developmental stages in both cases.

    You are right that when evolution was first conceived of, it was thought of as an “upward” process with “more evolved” creatures coming later and “less evolved” creatures coming earlier. As scientists have examined the fossil record better, they have found that it is less and less helpful to think of evolution in that way, and they now tend to talk about a process of adapting to an ecological niche rather than in terms of upward or downward movement. I think that this represents an improvement to the theory, and they are hardly to be criticized for improving their theory over time in this way or in others.

    See, the fact that scientists’ best understanding changes over time is a feature, not a bug; science, unlike theology, has an inbuilt mechanism for detecting mistakes and building knowledge up systematically over time through the testing of previously received wisdom.

    if showing design is outside the bounds of science than there is no reliable and objective way to conclude scientifically that something is not designed.

    Well, there has to be evidence that it is designed before scientists will accept it. However, both you and Anthony have been busy on this site heaping derision on me for the very idea that we could use scientific experiments to assess whether God has involved Himself in the physical world (on the matter of prayer in our case). What you seem to want is for scientists to accept a prior, non-scientific presumption that things have been designed by a designer, for no better reason than that it’s what you believe to be true. Why criticize them for refusing to accept your views without scientific evidence to support them?

    It’s not that evolutionary theory cannot be falsifiedr. It’s that you yourself believe that science cannot prove your specific alternative theory that there is a designer guiding the process. It’s not scientists’ fault or a defect in their theories that no scientific experiment turns up evidence of God.

    ID and Creationism is based on the same evidence.

    No; by their nature, they make the prior presumption that the process is guided by a designer, and then proceed to reject the validity of chronological fossil evidence because if they accepted it, it would undermine their prior assumption.

    I should have specified, with regard to the speed of light, that it appears to be a constant in a vacuum; and if you’re going to decide unilaterally that Einstein and his successors for the last hundred years have been wrong, you’d really better be able to explain why. What ground do you have for supposing that physicists and astronomers have gotten the speed of light wrong?

    • End Bringer on October 6, 2011 at 10:39 pm

    “All you’re saying here is that you find evolution inherently ridiculous.”

    Ah, so you find the idea that the sphinx was made from random and unguided wind erosion not inherently ridiculous? Or that your attitude of Creationism isn’t the exact same?Riiiight, you’re REALLY rational and consistent. *rolls eyes*

    “Evolutionary theory presumes that the process of mutation and natural selection is unguided because no evidence yet found logically necessitates a guide. To falsify this, all you have to find is evidence that does logically necessitate a guide.”

    I think the whole level of complexity for the brain alone, meets the logical necessity of an intelligent guide. But like I said, since that leads to a conclusion you’ve arbitrarily decided from the beginning can’t be true, your left to believe it was made by an unguided processes, yet you believe something far less complex like the Sphinx wasn’t.

    Because in the end, the problem isn’t evidence. It’s this wholely inconsistent behaviour of evolutionists that shows an inherently closed-mind and circular reasoning.

    “I think that this represents an improvement to the theory, and they are hardly to be criticized for improving their theory over time in this way or in others.”

    So, your rebuttal that evolution is unfalsifiable is to…confirm how it isn’t falsifiable? That when faced with any problem it won’t be thrown out, just “improved”? Again, are you arguing with me, or agreeing?

    “It’s not that evolutionary theory cannot be falsifiedr. It’s that you yourself believe that science cannot prove your specific alternative theory that there is a designer guiding the process. It’s not scientists’ fault or a defect in their theories that no scientific experiment turns up evidence of God.”

    True. But I don’t claim my beliefs need meet the standard of the scientific process. I say there are other standards of investigation more suited to answer the issue. YOURS, however, does make the claim. And if we are inherently left with no other alternative than to believe in an unguided process, than that by definition makes it unfalsifiable.

    Face it. You’re simply trying to have your cake and eat it too. You can not claim only a single theory to be considered scientific out of one corner of your mouth, then maintain it as falsifiable out of the other. That’s as inherently contradicting as saying ‘square-circle’. It’s simply not going to fly, no matter how much you assert otherwise.

    “Well, there has to be evidence that it is designed before scientists will accept it. However, both you and Anthony have been busy on this site heaping derision on me for the very idea that we could use scientific experiments to assess whether God has involved Himself in the physical world (on the matter of prayer in our case).”

    How’s that our dilemma? We are saying unguided macro-evolution isn’t scientific. Not necessarily claiming that design is. Again, YOU are the one making the claim and are obligated to meet a specific standard. If you want unguided macro-evolution to be scientific then you have to allow the alternative to be scientific in order for it to be falsifiable. If you find the alternative unscientifc, then you have to concede unguided macro-evolution isn’t either (like we’ve been saying).

    Since we’re not the one’s saying things can only be known through science, it’s no skin off our backs if ID and Creationism isn’t regarded as purely scientific. We just object to you including yours purely because you believe in it.

    “No; by their nature, they make the prior presumption that the process is guided by a designer, and then proceed to reject the validity of chronological fossil evidence because if they accepted it, it would undermine their prior assumption.”

    Oh the irony! Yeah, they make the prior presumption that the process is guided. Just like macro-evolution works on the presumption it’s unguided, then proceeds to raise up chronological fossil evidence by pressuming it IS chronological evidence. Because their theory would fall apart if it wasn’t, and no one can observe the events in question! Too rich, Alex.

    “I should have specified, with regard to the speed of light, that it appears to be a constant in a vacuum; and if you’re going to decide unilaterally that Einstein and his successors for the last hundred years have been wrong, you’d really better be able to explain why.”

    Again, I think that little thing called ‘gravity’, would throw a wrench in to that whole notion of “constant speed” even in a vacuum. One would think that a “humble” person would remember many such theories about space and such were being developed just when mankind was BEGINNING to study the galaxy, and thus were also made on a fair amount of assumptions rather than many years of observation and experimentation.

    • Alex (Patron Saint of the Confused) on October 7, 2011 at 8:48 am

    Photons are massless, End Bringer. Gravity, as far as I am aware, does not affect the speed of things that do not have mass. Perhaps what you’re referring to is gravitational lensing (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gravitational_lens), which does not change the photons’ speed.

    I’m afraid that much as you dislike the notion, it is more scientific to not start from the position that there is a designer than to start from the position that there is one. When you’re trying to determine what causes smallpox, you’ll be less successful if you start off by saying, “God”, than if you start off by saying, “Let’s study this and find out”. The problem with starting with God is that God is an all-service explanation for absolutely everything. Why are the markets down? God. Why did my wife leave me? God. Why do earthquakes happen? God. Why is this fossil in this stratum? God. If God is your first explanation, scientific investigation becomes impossible.

    The only reason why you doubt the chronological nature of any fossil evidence is that, quite by accident, it turned out in the nineteenth century to threaten the theory that the earth was six thousand years old. You place what the Bible says above what the evidence says, in just the same manner as the Catholic authorities who refused to look through Galileo’s telescope because it might reveal things that might threaten their faith.

    If you want unguided macro-evolution to be scientific then you have to allow the alternative to be scientific in order for it to be falsifiable.

    What falsifies a theory is not another theory, but evidence. I was perfectly happy to describe the kind of evidence that would falsify evolution. But you have chosen, for reasons best known to yourself, to not take up the challenge and to explain why fossil chronology is not to be relied upon, and instead to rail at me for being a hypocrite.

    What are you afraid of? Come out into the light, End Bringer, instead of nailing the windows shut and declaring it to be sunny inside. A little fresh air will do you good.

    • End Bringer on October 7, 2011 at 11:03 am

    “Photons are massless, End Bringer. Gravity, as far as I am aware, does not affect the speed of things that do not have mass.”

    Then something is indeed wrong with your understanding, because gravity DOES affect light. As you are the one who brought up Einstein, you should know his theory of general relativity goes into this matter. So regardless of HOW, it can’t be disputed that light isn’t such a constant element in space, but is more prone to be affected by other elements. Thus making any theories based on the assumption shakey at best.

    “I’m afraid that much as you dislike the notion, it is more scientific to not start from the position that there is a designer than to start from the position that there is one.”

    Because you simply declare it so? Pleeease. Frankly, I think it’s more reasonable to start from an entirely neutral position. To be agnostic and let the evidence say whether or not it’s designed or not. Starting with the assumption that it’s not, simply means you’re starting off question-begging and will ignore any evidence that points to the contrary.

    Sadly for you there IS plenty of evidence of design in both biology, ecology, geology, astronomy, etc. It’s why even staunch atheists/evolutionists like Dawkins has admitted there is the APPEARANCE of design. But since it’s started off from the beginning assuming there is no designer, all such evidence is dismissed, simply because it leads to a conclusion you’ve closed-mindedly excluded from the beginning.

    Which again, highlights the actual problem being personal attitude/prejudice, than evidence.

    “The problem with starting with God is that God is an all-service explanation for absolutely everything.”

    I’m finding evolution to be generally no different.

    “The only reason why you doubt the chronological nature of any fossil evidence is that, quite by accident, it turned out in the nineteenth century to threaten the theory that the earth was six thousand years old.”

    Nope, I doubt the chronological nature of fossil evidence, simply because it’s based on a question-begging assumption rather than repeated observation. One, I see no reason why I should adhere to simply because it’s required for evolution to be tenable.

    “What falsifies a theory is not another theory, but evidence.”

    Evidence that points to another theory. Thus for a theory to be falsifiable, an opposing theory must indeed be equally viable. Again, you’re simpy trying to have your cake and eat it too, by demanding ONLY unguided causes be considered, then maintain unguided causes are falsifiable. The contradiction (and blindness) is all too blatant.

    “But you have chosen, for reasons best known to yourself, to not take up the challenge and to explain why fossil chronology is not to be relied upon, and instead to rail at me for being a hypocrite.”

    I’ve explained many times. You have simply ignore it, and are the only one who keeps bringing up the Bible and YEC in this discussion, because like a typical Liberal you think you no the “real” reasons regardless of whatever I say. Which makes me wonder why you’re even continuing this argument if you think you’ve got me all figured out.

    • Alex (Patron Saint of the Confused) on October 7, 2011 at 11:36 am

    General relativity talks about the speed of light being a constant. However, extremely strong gravitational fields, like those around stars, distort space-time sufficiently such that the time experienced by the light photons in the field and the time experienced by the observer diverge. From the perspective of the photons themselves, they still travel at the same constant speed; from the perspective of an observer on Earth, however, light that has passed through a strong gravitational field is delayed in its arrival.

    Here’s an analogy. A car is driving on a rubber road at a constant 60mph. Half way along, a strong gravitational field starts to stretch the rubber on the road. The car continues on the road at the same constant speed, but from the perspective of the flagman at the end of the road, it takes longer to go from the start to the end of the road than he might have initially expected, on account of the gravitational field.

    Einsteinian physics predicts this outcome, and it has been tested (it’s called the “Shapiro effect”). This effect does have to be taken into account when measuring the distance to the stars, but since it is measurable and testable, it can be accurately accounted for.

    Nope, I doubt the chronological nature of fossil evidence, simply because it’s based on a question-begging assumption rather than repeated observation.

    Bull. Even if that were true, which it’s not, it clearly doesn’t bother you to base your own thinking on a full-service magical explanation. Doing so bothers you only when it’s a magical explanation you disagree with.

    Here we have the truth. You sit there and declare chronological fossil evidence to be wrong because the Bible, and then tell me that you’re basing things on “repeated observation”? You might as well say, “because the Qur’an”, or “because it’s sunny outside”, and it would make no better sense if you did. Your ignorance on this, and on science in general, is both invincible and unworthy of further discussion.

    • End Bringer on October 7, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    “General relativity talks about the speed of light being a constant. However, extremely strong gravitational fields, like those around stars, distort space-time sufficiently such that the time experienced by the light photons in the field and the time experienced by the observer diverge. From the perspective of the photons themselves, they still travel at the same constant speed; from the perspective of an observer on Earth, however, light that has passed through a strong gravitational field is delayed in its arrival.”

    So in other words, it’s useless to make assumptions based on our perspective of it’s speed, since our perspective is distorted. Still doesn’t change the fact that light being constant is only assumed, and yet it’s still proven to be changible.

    “Bull. Even if that were true, which it’s not, it clearly doesn’t bother you to base your own thinking on a full-service magical explanation. Doing so bothers you only when it’s a magical explanation you disagree with.”

    See? It doesn’t matter in the least what I say. Because like a typical Liberal/atheist you think you know what I’m “really” all about in spite of anything I’ve said. So why are you even bothering to argue if you think you’ve got all the answers? You’re clearly too closed-minded and “invincibly certain” on the matter, to change your view.

    • Timaahy on October 10, 2011 at 7:52 pm

    So in other words, it’s useless to make assumptions based on our perspective of it’s [sic] speed, since our perspective is distorted.

    No, in other words, you completely misunderstood Alex’s point.

    Which part of “since it is measurable and testable, it can be accurately accounted for” did you not understand?

    • End Bringer on October 11, 2011 at 10:05 am

    “Which part of “since it is measurable and testable, it can be accurately accounted for” did you not understand?”

    Which part of “the time experienced by the light photons in the field and the time experienced by the observer diverge”, didn’t you?

    Like I said before – speed of light being constant (‘in space’ since you’re so uptight about the implicit) is more an assumption than a repeated observation when dertermining the age of the universe. And it’s only one of many as it’s noted time and space aren’t so constant either (I think Big-Bangers call it “the horizon problem”). Then there’s the whole problem with synchronization (light traveling one way can’t be measured, only a round trip). So it’s by no means a concrete piece of evidence.

    Like I said, again, much of the ‘billions of years old’ theories were based on assumptions caused by initial observations just when scientists were appreciably studing the universe. As time and understanding have progressed ‘distant starlight’ has become less and less of a problem for YEC. And since many other evidences here on Earth can be pointed to support the belief, it’s not unreasonable to view problems in space as due mainly to our ignorance of the galaxy than anything else.

    • Kathy on October 20, 2011 at 6:47 am

    Anthony, your initial post- excellent.

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