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PZ Myers Reviews “Antony Flew Goes to Heaven.”

The brilliant PZ Myers has ‘reviewed’ the second story in my short story collection, “Richard Dawkins, Antony Flew, and Mother Teresa go to Heaven.”   Read it.

As before, I have no interest in responding in any detail, although I might say some things when he is done.  I will say:  “PZ, what makes you think Antony awakes in a garden?”

After reading the last review and the comments it spawned it became apparent that a little extra help on my part is needed.   There seems to be difficulty understanding the texts in question.  Therefore, a reader’s guide for each story has been composed.  You may read the first one, for Mother Teresa, here.

Here again, a reader’s guide is useless if one doesn’t have the actual text to consult.    In that same spirit, ‘criticism’ of my text will not be treated seriously on this blog if it is apparent the person is uninformed.  Actually reading the text is the first step in that- which of course means, minimally, possessing a preferably legal copy of it- and some sign that one actually comprehended it is nice, too.  But I’ll consider it a victory at this point if at least someone takes the time to read what he’s insulting, er, criticizing, before expecting to have those ‘criticisms’ taken seriously.

If you wish to meet that minimal criteria of respectability, you may pick up the books on Kindle and Nook through this link here.

As a final note, conversations about Antony Flew amongst a certain type tend to automatically leap to the assertion that Flew had lost his mind and been co-opted by apologists.  I ‘treat’ this assertion here.

PZ Myers is saying that I said that you must buy my stories in order to have any credibility in questioning them, which is nonsense.   I’ve said that you must read the stories.  There is an important difference there, the latter reflecting simple common sense.  He accuses me of running away and hiding instead of clarifying the stories.  Huh.  I don’t see any emails in my inbox from PZ asking for such clarifications, or sending me his reviews in advance so I can have a fair chance to compose a response before they go live, or any hint that I have any outlet other than this blog to explain myself in any meaningful way if I decided I want to.

How can I possibly be ‘hiding’ when in fact I was never invited to the show?

No one has to buy my books.  They don’t even have to read them.  They only have to read them if they want me to take them seriously.

Then he says I have refused to address anything I’ve written, and in the next breath actually quotes me as saying “I might say some things when he is done.”   And I’m supposed to take you seriously, PZ?  You can’t even speak without misrepresenting me with the sentence contradicting you only TWO SENTENCES AWAY.

Yes, the first sentence of the story was that Flew wakes up in a garden.  Since when did you begin relying on revelation?  Did you empirically verify that Flew did, in fact, wake up in a garden?  Perhaps he was mistaken. Or are you saying that the author of the story has a little extra authority to state what the meaning, intent, and purpose of his stories are, and what is going on in them?

This idea that I should ‘clarify’ anything to you, when you’ve done nothing but insult and demean and given no reasonable outlet for me to make a fair defense, is positively laughable.   You are in no position to lecture anyone about bluster and hiding.  You are hiding in your echo chamber with your minions pouncing on anyone who says anything contrary to your/their views.   And note this, you PZ bots:  this man who has extended no courtesy of response, not even the courtesy of a notification to allow me to respond, is the one telling you what my stories are about.  Maybe you might want to take that into account before trusting the integrity of his assessments in his review.

209 Responses to PZ Myers Reviews “Antony Flew Goes to Heaven.”

  1. My only criticism of your short story collection thus far is that it is only available on the Kindle and the Nook. Those of us who live in the dark ages and don’t own an eReader can’t get a copy without resorting to surreptitious means. So, until I can download a pdf or something, I reserve the right to make baseless accusations about your stories (and you) despite the fact that I have not read your works.

    So there,
    Joe

  2. Sorry, Joe, I can’t make a pdf download available. I’m already getting lots of search hits looking for ‘dawkins goes to heaven torrent’ and similar. For that matter, there were a couple of comments in open forum wondering if it could be illegally downloaded. I’m afraid I can’t make an edition available for download without at least some semblance of DRM. DRM can be cracked, of course, but that at least will give me a stronger legal case, should that become necessary.

  3. “a reader’s guide is useless if one doesn’t have the actual text to consult.” – Crashing Bore

    OTOH, a didactic short story is pretty useless if it needs a reader’s guide.

  4. And you yourself, of course, will defer from criticising all of science, medicine, logic, atheism, climate change, women’s rights, and other topics until you have decently familiarized yourself with their literatures.

  5. KG, what makes you think its a didactic short story? You read it, did you, in order to know that? Perhaps the reader’s guide could help you sort it out.

    Shrimp: well, gee, since you’ve told me to do that, I guess I’m just going to have to defer. Man, that sucks.

    WAIT A MINUTE! You’re just some random person who has come to my blog and posted a piece of drivel! I don’t have to obey that. What a relief. Phew. Gee, it almost makes me wonder why, if I’m that random person, what the point is of even bothering to post at all. Would I think the person is going to run off to their bedroom and cry? Suddenly abandon their arguments based on some pot shot out of the ether?

    Why, if that works, maybe I should try that out some time… you know, I think I’ll go over to PZ’s blog right now and try the same trick. It’s gotta work. It’s gotta

  6. “This idea that I should ‘clarify’ anything to you, when you’ve done nothing but insult and demean and given no reasonable outlet for me to make a fair defense, is positively laughable.”

    LOL, positively laughable indeed.

    This blog is your reasonable outlet. If it’s not good enough, make another one. If your defense hasn’t been sufficient (which it hasn’t), offer a better one.

  7. Hi Crazed, here is a link to dictionary.com. You may find it useful in determining the meanings of the words in this sentence:

    ““I might say some things when he is done.” ”

    It is not unreasonable for me to desire to wait until his entire series is done. It isn’t like I have had or will have any advance notice on their contents, right? I’ve had to wait for the reviews, just like you.

  8. “KG, what makes you think its a didactic short story?” – Crashing Bore,

    There’s obviously no other point to such a stupid, puerile, ineptly written fantasy, and you’re nothing but a tedious apologist for the imaginary sadistic psychopath you grovel to; but in any case, the point would seem to apply to any kind of short story.

  9. “I might say some things when he is done.”

    So let it be written, so let it be done.

    Until then, is it fair to assume you’ll continue your policy of being verbose while saying nothing of substance?

  10. For your reference, in the spirit of Christian charity:

    (Dictionary.com)
    Verbose: –adjective
    characterized by the use of many or too many words; wordy: a verbose report.

  11. Crazed, I have a policy of matching substance in proportion to substance offered. Now, PZ may have said some things that qualify, but certainly none of the commentators have. How could they? It is evident they haven’t read the stories themselves. (although it looks like finally some enterprising ‘free thinker’ has done some legwork and found a couple, so maybe that will change). To what could I then appeal to? The whole of their knowledge comes from PZ’s representations, the very thing that will be challenged. How to sort out whose representation is more valid when you haven’t the text in front of you to look to yourself? This is not rocket science.

    So, as I said “I might say some things when he is done.”

  12. Dear PZ:

    My email, if you wish to give me the courtesy of any kind of advance notice, is director@athanatosministries.org.

    Moreover, if you wish to allow me to post my response to your blog, in the spirit of you giving me an opportunity to… what did you say… “clarify and expand on the themes” in the story, I accept. My inbox is open.

    But I’m not holding my breath.

  13. The first sentence of the story is this:

    “When the man opened his eyes the first thing he beheld was a garden.”

    Not the worst opening I’ve ever read, but let’s work with it.

    You then write in this post, “I will say: ‘PZ, what makes you think Antony awakes in a garden?'”

    Obviously, it’s because you said what he saw “was a garden,” not what merely appeared to be one. You also gave no indication later on that it was anything other than a garden. In other words, the fictional scene you painted was intended to be a garden. Thus, you apparently believe, that implies something the real world (even though it implies no such thing). Alright then. Why did you bother to respond to that part of PZ’s review while ignoring the substantial parts? Can’t that tedious detail also wait until all is revealed in the fullness of time? Is everything you write turgid and irrelevant?

    Also, when you’re criticized, why not respond to criticisms as they are? You needn’t interrogate your audience, or assume they have no knowledge of what you’ve written, particularly when they come to your own blog to discuss your work with you.

  14. What a whinger you are, Crashing Bore! You are perfectly free to respond to criticism here (as indeed you have done with your astoundingly pompous and self-important “reader’s guide” to the Agnes Bojaxhiu story), or on PZ’s blog.

  15. Crazed,

    Yes, obviously because I said he was in a garden. This observation is more important to understanding the story than you realize. That’s why I bothered to throw it at PZ.

    Now, you ask,

    “Also, when you’re criticized, why not respond to criticisms as they are?”

    Which ones? The ones of all 500 or so commentators? I mean, you’ve looked at them, right? You say, ‘as they are.’ So, reply to them as they are… rude, ignorant, arrogant, and worse? Or do you mean PZ? Can’t be that, because I have already said that I might do that. So you perhaps mean the people who are posting on this blog who want to “Discuss [my] work with me.”

    Can you give me an example of someone wanting to DISCUSS my work with me? All I’ve seen is invective and snobbery. Granted: you so far have made an attempt to communicate. No one has stated anything about my ‘work’ beyond their personal preferences for it, and half of them can’t help ‘discussing’ me.

    Really, sir. Be reasonable. Align your expectations here with reality. It’s like a bunch of people just showed up to my blog saying that I’m fat and not one of them has actually seen me, but rather is taking the word of someone else who has seen me- who, by the way, disdains me. Then they refuse to look at the picture to see if the representation is fair or accurate. What am I left with then? All I can say is “No I’m not.” And that’s a waste of everyone’s time.

  16. KG, you are insane.

    Yea, I can respond on PZ’s blog. One man attempting to communicate with 500 who all pile on at once, not more than a fraction who have developed an independent thought on the matter.

    I care little what you think about me. You are nobody to me. I submit to you what I did to Crazed: align your expectations with reality. I’d have to be a real moron to think that I could get even the tiniest word edgewise on PZ’s blog. And you’d have to be a moron to suggest otherwise.

  17. Some defenders claim that religion inspires great works of art.

    Thank you, Tony, for showing us that the correlation is weak if not nonexistent.

  18. You’re welcome, Brownian. Thank you for adding yet one more utterly superfluous and worthless comment to my blog. At least I can be comforted: bandwidth is cheap.

  19. Crazed, did that look like someone wanting to ‘discuss my work’? Does that pass as ‘criticism’ to you? I should respond seriously to that… why?

  20. “I’d have to be a real moron to think that I could get even the tiniest word edgewise on PZ’s blog.”

    Come now; your work strongly suggests you’ve got all the necessary qualifications to think that.

    “Thank you for adding yet one more utterly superfluous and worthless comment to my blog”

    Any other sort of comment would have clashed with your work. Have you thought of asking Thomas Kinkade to illustrate your writing? He’s similarly bereft of talent, and from what I hear, he’s a bit of self-important whiner as well. You’d work well together.

    Make sure you get all commitments in writing. He’s a Christian, and we all know what that means when it comes to business dealings…

  21. You are in fact responding. I did not in fact require seriousness, although it would be a welcome change.

    What follows here looks like the same arrogance and presumption you’ve used to deflect criticism from the beginning:

    “One man attempting to communicate with 500 who all pile on at once, not more than a fraction who have developed an independent thought on the matter.”

    Just try to respect where we’re coming from. Being a former atheist, that should not be so incredibly hard for you.

    Besides, it’s a short story, a work of fiction about a real person who died last year. It’s not a not a perfect story — can we agree on that much?

    Expect some people not to like it, if not for philosophical reasons, then perhaps for aesthetic ones, or because it involves a real person. Your status as an apologist for an absurd religion is also a perfectly reasonable source of contention. The fact that it’s clearly not a very original story is likewise something you should be prepared to defend.

    Those are just a few of the types of criticism I think may be worth considering. Simply whining about your critics helps no one, including yourself, understand anything about your work.

  22. “Those are just a few of the types of criticism I think may be worth considering. Simply whining about your critics helps no one, including yourself, understand anything about your work.”

    Crazed, you are indeed being kind.

    Perhaps you might deign to deal with these sorts of comments rather than sniping back at mine, Tony?

    If not, then maybe you can offer some insight as to why it is that those clothed in Christ have the thinnest, most delicate skins.

  23. Sorry, Crazed. As someone who likely represents the view that everyone should be ready to think for themselves and have their own opinions, should respect the fact that my opinion is that my ‘critics’, as you call them, are nothing of the sort. The ‘criticisms’ are being treated already, just as you said, “just as they are.”

  24. Brownian:
    I thought you were being kind as well, excessively so, considering the circumstances.
    C’est la vie.

  25. Just more poorly written Christian snuff porn. *shrug*

  26. lea

  27. [Sorry for the last post, messed up saving my work.]

    Ok, first off let me say that you shouldn’t be sniping people for misrepresentation. Your stories misrepresent on a much grander scale then their reviews, and serve as little more than personal insults to the subjects in question. So, yeah, maybe using that leg to stand on isn’t your best option.

    Next is this little gem:

    Yes, the first sentence of the story was that Flew wakes up in a garden. Since when did you begin relying on revelation?

    Let me give you a bit of a primer about reader/author relationship. When an author writes, he is attempting to place the reader into the setting by drawing them in, making them more interested in the story. This is called Immersion, and it’s a critical part of the success of both fiction and nonfiction stories.

    Now, I can understand if Anthony Flew beheld a garden at first, but then was revealed to be a green screen or an elaborate painting, or even an illusion. But it’s not. It is explained that the setting is a garden, even if it’s a figment of his imagination contemplating heaven.

    We, the reader, rely on Immersion to place the setting. If you say he beheld a garden, and give no reason why our immersion should be broken with the garden, then it’s a garden. We aren’t relying on revelation, we’re relying on you. And you failed us horribly.

    And your Richard Dawkins piece is Mierda. Or, as you would say it, Skubala.

  28. I have read your story concerning Mr. Dawkins. It is a repugnant little tale. It is poorly written in a brusque, declarative style. The subject matter is tired and cliche, having been done many times before, and done better, by other apologists. The story, in short, is simply shallow.

    What is most disturbing is it’s immoral reveling in the imaginary torture of another human being. The nature of the torture is, of course, childish and inane but what we must consider is that it is the worst thing that the author can, in his limited imagination, conceive of. Such venom is astonishing and the hatred that is clearly being demonstrated is frightening.

  29. Thank you for your continuing explication of the meaning of the Greek word agape. Obviously the dictionaries are wrong. In Christian parlance at least, agape apparently means undying hatred. Between your version of God Almighty and Richard Dahmer, the difference is that Dahmer’s sadism was occasionally interrupted by sleep. Hell is the darkness in the believer’s heart.

  30. you know, I think I’ll go over to PZ’s blog right now and try the same trick. It’s gotta work. It’s gotta

    yes, I think you SHOULD spend some time there.

    seriously, out the concepts and ideas behind your stories; explain and document the origins of the themes in detail.

    Yes, that would be a great idea.

  31. Here’s the part of Christianity and Eternal Damnation that I’ve always wondered/struggled with as a concept:

    I’ve been taught that God is Omnipresent, Omniscient, and Omnipotent, and that God knows all that is, ever was and ever will be.

    God knows our fates before we do. It is “already written.”

    God Creates All.

    So God knew before time even began that God was going to create a bunch of people, including Richard Dawkins, who were not going to accept God and submit to God. Yes, we all have “free will”, that’s the Christian canard. But even with that free will, God can see into the future, and already knew what some us are going to choose, and we have already sealed our fate, and God knows that we will go to Hell.

    But God goes and creates us anyway just to watch.

    What kind of an evil jerk would do something like that?

  32. CptKendrick,

    I’ve always struggled with that, too. I mean, I think I understand it on an intellectual level, but an abstraction can often leave someone feeling awfully cold.

  33. Ichthyic, it ain’t going to happen. You labor under at least two illusions: 1., the people over there care and 2., I care.

    I have many better uses of my time than to go 1 against 500 where the 500 have no qualms with being absolute jackasses at every turn and then when this is pointed out directly the accusation is that I am not being ‘gentlemanly’ or that I have a thin skin. Then you always have the idiot who is among the 20 people who posted in the same minute who, after five minutes have passed, begins to carry on about me ‘dodging’ his point- every other word a piece of profanity requiring expert mining and sifting to determine. Five minutes after that, the other 19 people begin whining about being ignored, and each of them assumes that every one of their points is top shelf caliber demanding my thoughtful, 10 paragraph consideration, each.

    The only way I would consider such a stupid thing as trying to explain myself to any of you (especially at PZ’s blog) is if there were some parameters in place. For example, PZ has to give the endeavor his blessing and for the sake of discussion require civility- and I don’t mean civility by Pharny standards, but rather civility by the standards of normal society. On top of that, the expectation would be that I only directly interact with a handful of people, say 5 at most. I am not God, after all, and cannot whip out lengthy replies to 500 people every 60 minutes to escape the venting rage (you call this rage, ‘criticism’) of the fair minded regulars of PZ’s blog. Moreover, I would expect to be given the courtesy of actually having an opportunity to explain my position(s) without being constantly interrupted and I would demand that my words be taken precisely as they are given. That is, no mind reading allowed. What I write I mean to write. You all don’t get to decide what I really meant.

    So you see, it is highly unlikely that such parameters would be established, if only for the fact that – see points 1 and 2 above.

    Sorry, I do not invest time in talking with people who have no desire to make a good faith effort in talking to me. Call me skeptical, call me a free thinker, call me Captain Obvious, but the evidence firmly suggests that such ‘good faith’ attitudes are severely lacking in regards to me and the stories in question.

  34. Saying that God gives us “free will” to choose to escape Hell is ridiculous. If a man holds a gun to your head and says “Give me your wallet or I’ll blow your brains out” does that mean you freely chose to give him your wallet, since you had the alternative option of getting shot in the head?

  35. “Call me skeptical, call me a free thinker, call me Captain Obvious, but the evidence firmly suggests that such ‘good faith’ attitudes are severely lacking in regards to me and the stories in question.”

    I know that I would never call you skeptical, sir. All the evidence points towards your being extremely, even fatally, credulous.

  36. Hi Anthony

    I came here from PZ Myers’ blog. I don’t have a Kindle, and I was wondering if I could purchase the Flew story alone. Do you have a PayPal account? I hadn’t heard of Flew before and I’m curious. Email me if you’re keen.

    Cheers,

  37. Check your email, Random Atheist.

  38. @ElishEnuma:

    That’s never the way I interpreted the Christian “free will”, but that’s a good and interesting interpretation.

    I always looked at their “free will” as:

    “I have nothing to show you, I have no evidence, I have nothing, really, except lousy, hand-me-down stories that don’t even make any coherent sense, and you have the free will to believe them with nothing to go on or go to hell for all eternity.”

  39. @Anthony:

    “I think I understand it on an intellectual level”

    Ok, I’m listening…

  40. Far out, that was fast!

  41. @Cpt, I’m going to have to get back to you later, perhaps tomorrow. Family time now. Peace.

  42. Anthony,

    You said:
    “PZ Myers is saying that I said that you must buy my stories in order to have any credibility in questioning them, which is nonsense. I’ve said that you must read the stories.”

    You also said “If you wish to meet that minimal criteria of respectability, you may pick up the books on Kindle and Nook through this link here.”

    Can you please explain how these two statements are compatible?

  43. “I have many better uses of my time than to go 1 against 500 where the 500 have no qualms with being absolute jackasses at every turn and then when this is pointed out directly the accusation is that I am not being ‘gentlemanly’ or that I have a thin skin.”

    I’ll just point out that Christians whose skin is too thin to brave comments on a blog should stop talking about being clothed in the armour of Jesus.

    *Sigh.* Whatever happened to the martyrs of the good ol’ days who’d fight for what they believed in no matter the odds, rather than simply writing heavily derivative trash in the hopes they’ll lure people in to click the ‘Donate now!’ button?

  44. Forbidden Snowflake

    Hey, anybody remember that episode in the Bible where St. Paul decides not to go to Athens to preach at the Greeks because there would be many of them and they would be critical and even mock him, maybe?

    Oh, wait…

  45. Forbidden Snowflake

    Also:
    If you wish to meet that minimal criteria of respectability
    Criteria – plural, criterion – singular.

    Also2: I respect your decision to publish unmoderated comments. That is an indication of honesty.

  46. Anthony says:

    “The only way I would consider such a stupid thing as trying to explain myself to any of you (especially at PZ’s blog) is if there were some parameters in place. For example, PZ has to give the endeavor his blessing and for the sake of discussion require civility- and I don’t mean civility by Pharny standards, but rather civility by the standards of normal society.”

    In other words, you don’t have the strength of your convictions to post at Pharyngula. Why am I not surprised? You Christians talk about Christ’s sacrifice but you’re not willing to make a much smaller sacrifice. Just another case of Christian hypocrisy.

    Incidentally, at Pharyngula we may be “uncivil” but we’re honest. Here you may be civil but honesty seems to be lacking. Just another case of Christian hypocrisy.

  47. It implies how badly you treat your customers, and how badly it is written, to state that incomprehension is our fault while you apparently wrote a story too “complicated” to understand ourselves.

    You are a bad writer if you need to interpret it for us. Or maybe it was just a bad story?

  48. Wow. I haven’t yet read the comments on Pharyngula, but it looks like I won’t have to now. Simply reading PZ’s description of the story and then seeing your replies to PZ’s article and everyone commenting here tells me just about all I need to know about you and this current tempest in a teapot.

    Complaining that PZ is in ANY way mistaken where he writes that A.Flew awakes in a garden, when you *explicitly* write that he awakes *in a garden* – even using the word “garden” yourself! – tells me that you’re about as dishonest as they come. Seeing your replies to the others here, some of them backed up by the evidence which proves them right and you wrong, well, that’s just icing on the cake.

    Look at Timaahy’s post just above mine. He’s absolutely right, and so was PZ. You DID write that people had to buy the results of your intellectual masturbation before they could question them. And you’ve ducked and dodged just about every direct question asked of you here, while coming up with every excuse you could think of to avoid posting at Pharyngula where you’d be quite rightfully savaged in the arena of intellects. Worried that you’ll be *interrupted*? In PRINT? Come on!

    I know how most of this sort of discussion goes. 9/10 of the posts would be people asking the same few questions, pointing out exactly how you’d failed to answer them previously. Too bad for you that you would be unable to answer them, and you’d spend the entire time complaining that too many people were talking instead of simply responding to the few main questions that are asked time and time again by most of those voices.

    You’ve given me yet another excellent example of modern Christianity in action, and for that, sir, I thank you.

    -Ermine!

  49. “Look at Timaahy’s post just above mine. He’s absolutely right, and so was PZ. You DID write that people had to buy the results of your intellectual”

    Uh, you ding bats. That was one way to read those stories. Obviously. Who told you that was the only way to read them? Only the third one is not available on the internet to read for free.

    Just so you know, I’ll be ignoring most of you. Say what you want, but I assure you, the one’s coming off looking poorly are you. I am happy to defer to the judgment of the lurker.

    For those who have raised points actually worthy of discussion, in a manner that is worthy of my time, I may continue. (eg, CaptK)

    Just letting you know, as a courtesy.

  50. They seem to truly be under the impression that if they buy it, but don’t read it, they’ll suddenly be taken seriously. Or think that their comments will be any different than those who have done nothing. Just sad really.

  51. Did you just call me a ding bat? Seriously?

    Come on mate… you’ve been caught out. “Who told [us] it was the only way to read them?”. You did.

    “Read this short story, along with two others, on Kindle. You can also buy for Barnes and Noble’s Nook.”
    – Richard Dawkins Goes to Heaven? Short Story

    “…I can’t make a pdf download available. I’m already getting lots of search hits looking for ‘dawkins goes to heaven torrent’ and similar. For that matter, there were a couple of comments in open forum wondering if it could be illegally downloaded. I’m afraid I can’t make an edition available for download without at least some semblance of DRM. DRM can be cracked, of course, but that at least will give me a stronger legal case, should that become necessary.”

    1. You have stated that the only valid criticism comes from people who have read your stories.
    2. You have provided only two ways to obtain the stories, both of which involve payment.
    3. You stated that you can’t make free copies available without addng some sort of DRM, and as far as I can tell, you are yet to do so.
    4. Therefore, the only way to obtain your stories legally is by buying them.

    Are you suggesting people should break the law just so you can dodge PZ’s accusation that you said you have to buy the stories before commenting on them?

    It is absolutely right and proper for you to expect payment for your work, and I hope people aren’t making illegal copies available for free. But please don’t pretend that “Don’t criticise without reading” does not equal “Don’t criticise without buying”. In this case, they are one and the same.

  52. I would also like to echo Forbidden Snowflake’s comment… props to you for having unmoderated comments. At least you’re better than Ken Ham.

  53. It’s amazing the amount of crap people are giving over this ‘read it-buy it’ issue. One wonders if people criticizing The Lord of the Rings would admit to never reading any of the books, and complain that buying it from a book store would suddenly be the same as taking the time to actually read the trilogy.

  54. I have extremely thick skin. Probably too thick. I do have some limits, but so far we are nowhere close.

    Regarding the “buying/reading” issue, you know, it’s just not that big of a deal. Is that really the hill you want to die on? If I could go back and re-state it I probably would. I don’t quite care enough, though. :) The first two stories are in fact available on the Internet to read, as was mentioned by someone in the comment section of one of PZ’s reviews (I think the Flew one) and which I also mentioned somewhere on this thread. So, I took for granted that anyone following along would have read that. But therein lies the problem, right? Expecting people to read. :)

    On the other hand, PZ- and you if you are doing the same- was way out of line and completely outside of reason to think that my insistence that people actually read what they’re criticizing before expecting a substantive reply on my part was nothing more than “flogging” my book. No, actually, in point of fact, its a simple observation: If you haven’t read what you’re criticizing you can’t possibly know that your criticism is substantive.

    You all *think* that PZ is making substantive criticisms, and so repeat them mindlessly. Well, as it happens, I’m not confident he actually understood a lick of what he read. Now, that doesn’t mean I won’t reply to him in time. He did at least read them, right? But the point is that SINCE HE DID READ THEM, when I answer, I will be able to refer to the text… you know, the stuff he didn’t quote. The rest of it. Which, if you haven’t read, you obviously won’t be able to follow along.

    Understand this: it is as much for your sake as it is for mine that I demand this simple courtesy. After all, if I retort to something by appealing to another part of the text, and you don’t have access to it or never read it, you will just have to take my word for what it says and what it communicates. What kind of ‘free thinker’ wants to put themselves in that position? 😉

    This is the whole point I was trying to make. PZ tried to equivocate, melding my demand for this common sense courtesy with his snide remarks that I was just ‘flogging’ the book. I view this as completely dishonest, even if par for the course.

    Could I have phrased it better? Probably. But then, I didn’t really expect an argument over something this pedantic. And, I expected readers to have noted already that 2 of the stories were available online. In retrospect, not a good expectation.

    Now, is this REALLY the hill you want to die on, or are you going to let that go and find something really worth discussing to talk about? 😉

  55. You don’t care enough to admit to your error and restate, but you sure do write a lot of drivel in a continuing attempt to -defend- those same errors from the perfectly valid criticisms of PZ and others.

    Your attempts at misdirection are patently obvious, including your -continuing- attempts to pick at what you claim are tiny details, writing paragraph after paragraph bemoaning how no one will deal with the actual content of the stories, all the while ignoring the substantive comments on exactly that by PZ and others.

    Like most apologists, your attempts are transparent and your continuing dishonesty is noted. I don’t care how you respond, you’ve already done so in an eminently stereotypical fashion. My reason for posting is to point out your continu(ed/al) bad-faith “arguments” to future readers.

    Please DO carry on, the floundering attracts other eyes like blood in the water attracts sharks.. Most entertaining!

    -Ermine!

  56. Ermine, dear lady, you can say whatever you want. I don’t give a lick.

  57. Anthony, thanks for your considered response.

    You are absolutely right that people shouldn’t criticise your work before they have read it. And no, it’s not the hill I want to die on. I only mentioned this “buy it / read it” thing because of your statement that “PZ Myers is saying that I said that you must buy my stories in order to have any credibility in questioning them, which is nonsense. I’ve said that you must read the stories…”

    PZ is actually right, because, at least at the time he made that statement, the only way to obtain them legitimately was to buy them.

    If A=B and B=C, PZ stated that A=C, and you were protesting that “No, A=B”.

    As to whether you were using it to sell more books, only you can answer that accusation, and from your statement above it would appear that that was not the case.

  58. Thank you, Tim, for your measured response. You’re right, only I can answer it, and so you’ll have to take me a bit at my word.

    For the record, if it isn’t quite clear, the first two stories have been available- legitimately- to read online for free throughout the whole ‘event.’ Mother T for 2 years and Antony Flew for 1 year. If PZ would have given me the courtesy of advance notice, I probably would have given him the links to them. He inferred, incorrectly, that this was the only legitimate way to read those stories, which I will remind you, were the only two stories ‘on the table’ at the time.

    It is possible we may not reach agreement on this point, but since neither of us want to die on it, perhaps tomorrow we can move on to something else. :)

  59. Love the torture porn, Anthony! Keep up the good work!

  60. Anthony, you’ve written some stories about your horrible god and indulged in that Christian’s-love-sending-people-to-hell-while-pretending-to-be-anguished-about-it thing. And now you’re pained because you’re being called out on it.

    You are absolutely fair game for anyone who points out your nonsense: why not stop the whining and produce your god? If you are feeling a bit hurt by all this ‘aggression’ from these unfriendly atheists. Well – we feel pretty unhappy about the space you faith heads create for the violence committed in your gods’ names all over the world; the intolerance and bigotry foisted on us via crass legislation; for the lies forced on children; for the appallingly low moral standards of you and your gods.

    So we criticise with words – and disrespect your dreadfully unsubstantiated superstitions. Your side on the other hand does daily and dreadful physical and mental harm all over the this planet.

    You can have your ‘measured responses’ if you like. You are still a member of a bloodthirsty, evil cult though. So maybe measured responses are not really appropriate?

  61. “not more than a fraction who have developed an independent thought on the matter”

    Anthony: do you really believe this? My experience of dropping my religion, painful and hurtful though my religion ensured this process would be, was that the entry requirement to atheism is independent thought of some kind. In fact, it was only when I managed to achieve a level of independent though that I was able to realise what a dreadful pack of lies religion peddles.

    I am willing to bet you find the thought that your god does not exist, to be utterly terrifying. And I bet you don’t seriously consider it therefore.

    Try it though. It was the most liberating thing I ever did. Sure, friends and family were angry and disappointed. They decided I was going to hell (you’d presumably fit right in there with that kind of presumption).

    But in the end, intellectual honesty is all we’ve got. And believing fairy tales which have not a single shred of evidence to back them up, and are pretty effectively contradicted by the evidence we do have (when we stop being lazy about our study of that evidence) is truly amazing. Now I live.

  62. JimmyBoy, I agree with everything you say – but you are wasting your time. Anthony’s \intellectual honesty\ is this:

    1. If it’s in the bible it’s true.
    2. If it contradicts the bible it’s false.

    Period. End. That is literally all there is when you strip away the bluster, the rhetoric and the staggeringly verbose navel gazing. You can’t open his eyes to reality because his brain is well and truly washed.

  63. Stathei – I was once a seriously devout RC. I nearly became a priest in fact (I was brought up to it, explicitly). I really, properly believed. I was good at it too.

    But eventually (I was 30) something got through the years of abuse I’d inflicted on my brain (and the world about me). Deep down underneath the appalling, bigoted, misogynist was a guy who was capable of admitting that it was a pile of bull, that tone is less important than substance, that evidence really does matter – and that I was about as wrong about nearly everything that mattered as it was posisble to be.

    So if I can work it out, idiot that I am, then I think there is hope for anyone.

    Obviously if you are financially implicated in the scam it does make it a whole lot harder… you have to not just consider a big, public, personal apology and the shame that goes with it (the liberation too of course, of finally being honest with yourself), but also giving back all that money you’ve taken off the gullible saps.

    That’s a bit tricky perhaps.

  64. heh. Accept what Stathei deliberately doesn’t mention is that Anthony was just like you at one point JimmyBoy. He was pretty devout in his formative years, fell away and rejected it just like you do now, and then returned right back to it because the evidence for Christianity was just too overwhelming (and he was honest enough to admit he was wrong). So what does that do to your tirade about ‘independant thought’ when the guy your criticizing was in the EXACT same position you are now?

  65. Would just love to see Anthony’s evidence that supoported his re-conversion. (Do we have an independent anywhere that knew him as an atheist?).

    Whatever…

    So produce your god! Where is this evidence? You have to re-define the word evidence to find any for your god or the horrible consequences that follow from that fallacy.

    And how about – get together with all the other faith heads, agree which of you is right (and only one or none can be) and then come bothering us with your very silent, very invisible, very contradicted, truly horrible god.

    Of course sometimes atheists become Christians. They become Muslims, Hindu’s, Budhists too. Really does not mean they exercised independent thought in doing so. I’d say, almost by definition, they did not.

    I tell you what though: I can 100% guarantee that Anthony was not in “the EXACT same position” I am in now (funny that you shout at me while accusing me of having a tirade).

    It might look so superficially (and superficiality is precisely what I have come to expect of religious analysis – shocking though that was to me, given all the BS studiousness that goes with modern religion).

    But obviously his experiences, living on a different continent, not being me, with my family, my experiences, etc, mean that almost certainly any similarities between our situations are spectacularly trivial.

    So – sure independent thought is still the absolute requirement. If Anthony believes in something for which there is not a shred of evidence, then I’d say he doesn’t know what independent thought is. There is just not much need for debate there is there?

    Are you seriously suggesting that he independently thought up the exact same set of superstitions as a whole bunch of other theists? How truly extraordinary! Were it true I might convert myself. I on the other hand independently rejected them.

    Produce your (immoral, contradictory, misogynist, racist, slavery-supporting, genocidal, cowardly) god. And then let’s discuss. Do you want me to support that list from scripture by the way?

    Cheers,

    JimmyBoy

  66. Heh. So much for ‘independant thought’. As if you’re the first atheist to go on a rant full of the same ignorant assumptions and insults (hell it’s almost an exact copy of PZ).

    To use your own words – Whatever…

  67. Sad and funny that “end bringer” dismisses valid questions without answering them. Such is ever the dodge of theists when pushed to it. Produce evidence, EB, or admit you are wrong. The funny thing is you can’t do the former and are too entrenched in your brain washing to do the latter.

  68. Valid? Hardly. No more valid then you would surely scoff at ‘Produce George Washington then I’ll believe he existed.’, or perhaps a Holocaust-denier rejecting it’s events, or how about producing ‘a million years of random evolution’ we can observe (which in science direct observation is essential).

    I’m not about to get drawn into such a discussion with clearly closed-minded people driven more by rage and bigotry than ‘evidence’. “Don’t answer a fool according to his folly.” and such.

  69. Let us not forget that if Anthony Flew was anything at the time of his death, he wasn’t a Christian. Claiming otherwise is to be willfully ignorant.

  70. And who claimed that, Sarnia?

  71. Rarely moved to comment on anything offered by the sprawling mass of irreconciliable shouting masses that is the Internet, this discussion has moved me to necessary action. Someone once said that they would stand by my judgement, well I judge in favour of tthe elouence and reason of Timaahy, JimmyBoy, Mikr and others who do at least seem to realise that that truth can only ever be a set of ever increasing probabilities. EndBringer puts me in mind of a child piping up during a degree level calculus class with a confident cry of “but, sir, you’re wrong. What about xeno’s paradox? Ha.” and striding out with fingers firmly wedged in ears.
    And our good host? I suspect he may not be so keen to go along with earlier promises now that the time has come to make good. For after all a Lurker that comments is no Lurker at all and so we can safely ignore his judgements. Let us follow only the judgement of the One True Lurker, who’s views are so much more aligned with our own.
    Oh, and yes, I’ve read them. They made me cry.

  72. Come on End Bringer… that’s false equivalence, and I you know it.

    There are three problems with this argument, which is sadly rather common.

    1
    There is plenty of credible evidence for George Washington, the holocaust, and evolution. There is virtually no credible evidence for the existence of god (any god), and about the same amount of evidence for the Christian faith as there is for Islam, Judaism, Hinduism or Scientology (which isn’t very much).

    2
    The claims made about George Washington aren’t of a fastastical nature. He was born, did some things that are completely within the realms of possibility, and then died. The Christian faith claims that Jesus was born of a virgin, performed a few miracles, and was raised from the dead. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

    3
    Even if there wasn’t credible evidence for George Washington, the question of whether he existed or not isn’t of great importance, as George-Washingtonists aren’t going around campaigning against euthanasia or same-sex marriage, or killing abortion doctors. People of faith are constantly attempting to impose their beliefs on society at large, so I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask them for some solid evidence.

    Tim

  73. The only “evidence” that Anthony has ever produced in our many years of sparring was a single dubious prophecy that may (or may not) have come true. That was it. Nothing more.

    Not really much of a reason to send women who have had an abortion to the electric chair, as End Nutter recently advocated.

  74. The question of evidence is a very interesting one. One of the strangest things I’ve found is that, when discussing virtually any Christian belief with a Christian, they almost always attempt to prove their position.

    For example, I haven’t encountered any Christians who shrug their shoulders and say “Yes, the resurrection seems unlikely, and the evidence isn’t very convincing, but I’m believing it anyway… on faith”. All of the Christians I’ve discussed this with have said “Oh well, there’s the empty tomb, and sightings of the resurrected Jesus etc”. Such a “proof” is doomed to failure because it relies on the innerancy of the bible, which is itself a faith position. It essentially amounts to “I am assuming this document is true, therefore anything this document says supports my position”.

    The other interesting thing is that anything that proves the Christian religion to be true robs Christians of one of the things that defines them. Good ol’ William Lane Craig is a prime example. He bends over backwards to prove his faith position, thereby destroying the virtue that his god supposedly prizes above all others. “Blessed is he who has not seen, but believes” and all that.

    Food for thought.

  75. “Come on End Bringer… that’s false equivalence, and I you know it.”

    ha! No, that’s the results of your reasoning and idea of what constitutes “evidence” when taken to it’s conclusion beyond the ad hoc use of discussions of religion ALONE.

    Be thankful I didn’t add in the often used atheistic argument of ‘it only LOOKS designed, but isn’t’, in which one could logicly use to descredit scientific observation – ‘It only LOOKS like naturalistic processess, but it isn’t’. Frankly if one followed atheistic arguments to their logical conclusion they’d have to deny the existence of science and Mankind in their entirety.

    For (1) nothing is “credible evidence” when one demands a criteria for what constitutes “credible evidence” that is biased against the thing in question. Atheists demand to ‘directly observe’ God to believe. Extend that to other areas of knoweldge and we see how flimsi the criteria is, and how quick athesits are in abandoning it when it’s exposed. Like you have.

    For (2) what constitutes “fantastical” is nebulous at best; and I utterly reject the notion “extraordinary claims” require “extraordinary evidence”. The claim that ‘President Obama killed Oprah’ would be “extraordinary”, but I’m sure the rather “mundane” evidence of a videotape showing the event would be acceptable evidence.

    And for (3), well that’s rather irrelevant to whether something is true. As well as hypocritical given atheisms/secularisms attempts to tell society what to believe and how to act, yet always tries to avoid burdens of proof.

    As for your observation on “faith”, it just stems from the common atheistic misunderstanding of the word (admittedly not entirely their fault). As “faith” as the Bible describes just means ‘trusting the available evidence without directly observing the events’. You know, like the enormous amount of ‘faith’ atheists have on evolution, despite not directly observing ‘millions of years’.

  76. “Be thankful I didn’t add in the often used atheistic argument of ‘it only LOOKS designed, but isn’t'”

    I have never heard that argument used by an atheist. If it was designed, it was designed very badly indeed.

  77. I have. Often used to dismiss Intelligent Design. Which if applied consistently would deny human beings, and have cars and buildings pop into existence by ‘unguided natural processess over millions of years’, which would probably be more valid as such things are less complicated than the human body.

  78. End Bringer;

    1> No, atheists demand ANY empirical evidence of ANY god(s). That in this one post you can catch a single atheist asking to see the God that you assert is there doesn’t obviate the thousands of requests for any evidence at all that we all know have occurred.

    2> Direct video recordings (preferably ones that were indelibly timestamped and verified to be free of tampering)of the Resurrection, the virgin conception, or any of the other recorded miracles – would BE extraordinary evidence.

    And of COURSE you don’t believe that evolution occurred, in spite of literally hundreds of thousands of direct, peer-reviewed experiments, experiments that have explored the process of evolution from thousands of different angles, and through which we’ve increased our understanding of life around us and just how evolution works a million-fold.

    We’ve got literally hundreds of tons of fossils which all by themselves show the process happening, and we’ve got the DNA code itself to let us track mutations and viral insertions back in time for millions upon millions of years.

    Evidence of that quality would be all we could ask for, and if you could supply anything like it to push the case for god, you’d convince millions of us to change our minds in a heartbeat. But you haven’t got anything even remotely approaching the level of detail with which we can understand and demonstrate evolution. Your accusations of hypocrisy appear to be mere projection, as we always seem to be seeing in these cases. Why is that?

    -Ermine!

  79. 1. That’s what I mean when I say ‘directly observe’ – purely empirical observation of the thing in question. Which is indeed no different than requesting a direct observation of past events, including the supoosed ‘millions of years of evolution’. Which just brings home the fact that a great many things of what we ‘know’ can’t be empiricaly observed.

    2. You obviously miss the point. That one can make an “extraordinary” claim, and only need “mundane” evidence to prove it. Otherwise what’s the point of requesting empirical evidence AT ALL, if it’d just be classified as “mundane” evidence?

    And I don’t believe in ‘millions of years of unguided evolution’ simply because it’s not science which requires direct observation, experimentation, and repeatability. Which obviously can’t be applied to ‘millions of years’ of anything. That a thousand scientists told people the Earth was the center of the universe at one point didn’t make it true. Nor does imaginative interpretations driven by question begging that evolution MUST be true, so evolution obviously is responsible, thus proving it true. Riiiiiight.

  80. End Bringer,

    1
    Who said that “credible” must equate to “direct observation”? Certainly not me, and not any atheists I know.

    No one is saying that observing god directly is the only way to prove that either he exists or that Christianity is true. We are simply highlighting that there is very little evidence for either case. It’s extremely unlikely that a person named Jesus even existed, let alone that he was born of a vrigin, performed miracles and rose from the dead. Not only were the original gospels cobbled together from alleged third-hand accounts decades after the events, but they’ve since been through a myriad of translations, additions and changes by a multitude of people with a vested interest in seeing Christianity flourish, and even the most major incidents in Jesus’ life are nowhere corroborated by non-Christian sources.

    The evidence is spectacularly weak.

    2
    Come on mate, you know what I meant by “fantastical”, so you can dispense with the pedantry. The bible makes some pretty audacious claims about Jesus… surely you won’t deny your Lord and Saviour his miracles?

    And no, I don’t think “Obama killed Oprah” is that extraordinary at all. It’s unlikely to ever occur, but whether or not it does occur is at least not impacted by a denial of the laws of physics. Obama killed Oprah by telepathy… now that’s an extraordinary claim.

    You are confusing the quality of the evidence with its form. The video showing Obama killing Oprah would be extraordinary because it would be very convincing, even if its form (a video) isn’t out of the ordinary. When we say that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, we mean that it must adhere to a higher standard of proof.

    And if you say you reject that statement, am I to assume, then, that you’ll take my word for it that I am actually your father? I mean, look, it’s written right here on this peice of paper that I wrote…

    3
    Well, no, it’s not irrelevant at all. Astrologers don’t mess with my life too much, so I’m not interested in hassling them to prove their claims. But if they started messing with my rights and the rights of my fellow citizens… then game on.

  81. “That a thousand scientists told people the Earth was the center of the universe at one point didn’t make it true.”

    Since that never happened, I’m not surprised. There were very few real ‘scientists’ back when the earth was thought to be the center of the universe, and the idea that it might be was was a purely religious dogma that was then soundly -debunked- by the then-infant scientific establishment. Even YOU don’t believe that anymore, but no one was able to show you the entire universe with earth -not- at the center, were they?

    Science has shown us unequivocally that we are NOT the center of the universe, and apparently you accept that. Why? The exact same processes that brought us that knowledge brought us an equally-rock-solid understanding of the process of evolution, a theory that is both used and demonstrated daily in laboratories and universities all around the world every day.

    That you don’t understand the scientific process or the actual Theory of Evolution itself isn’t our problem, and if you DID understand either one, you wouldn’t be making such asinine statements today. Science has moved on without you, and complain as you might, the ‘creation-based’ biologicals industry don’t seem to be making a penny anywhere, and the billionaire oil companies that rely on finding new deposits of fossil-fuels seem for some reason to put all their trust in -real- geologists, people who understand and use the -facts- (as best as all of modern science has been able to ascertain) of biology, geology, and our 4-billion-year-old earth to make their businesses work.

    Your continued argument from ignorance and incredulity really doesn’t hold much water, but that’s never stopped a religious kook from believing nonsense before, has it?

    Meh. Read talkorigins.org and come back if any of your claims isn’t overwhelmingly answered there. Educate yourself before making claims of truth! I am daily astonished at how the ones who most loudly proclaim their ownership of the Truth seem to be the ones who most strongly refuse to actually -look- at the evidence against them. If I hadn’t been raised religious myself, and so understand just how stultifying that blanket of culture and dogma can be, I’d think that over half the species was just plain brain-damaged.

    As is, I just think that it’s a crying shame, and I consider myself privileged every day as I see rationality and open access to information tearing away the supports of religion all over the world every day, and the culture of NON-belief that is finally beginning to take hold publicly here and there in the world and shine the harsh light of inspection on the shadowy corners of blind religious belief. I am very, -very- proud to think that my own efforts in the area have helped to spread that culture of knowledge and rationality some tiny increment further. There may yet be hope for us.

    -Ermine!

  82. End Bringer – reading through these this morning is just sad. In a truly typical fashion you duck and dodge, raise false equivalence, attempt to redefine the concept of evidence. Your George Washington example was truly illuminating.

    Can you really not see the difference between a reasonable belief in the existence of George Washington, and a belief in aninvisible, silent, out-of-time, all knowing, all powerful deity who created a faulty creation (without further explanation – or apparently need for it – of the mechanism), and then demanded his own blood sacrifice to appease himself?

    But you believe in evidence. Clearly. You just negate the need for it when dealing with your particular set of fairy tales. Imagine trying to defend the existence of your god in court. That might help to see where we are coming from perhaps?

    What might you say? Well – a lot of other people also believe these things (that’s common – but obviously rubbish; would you become a Muslim if they outnumbered you? Clearly not); the empty tomb? The things Jesus is purported to have said? Miracles? The Bible?

    Hopefully you can see that none of these things has the smallest bit of credibility as evidence for the existence of God. As for Romans 1: 27, it is the most ridiculous piece of ‘evidence’ I regularly hear (don’t know if it’s one of yours but…it’s common and clearly rubbish).

    Another approach is to ask yourself what evidence you would require to convince you of the existence of Osiris. Or Wotan. Or Lord Vishnu. And then see if you have any such evidence for the existence of your god.

    As has been pointed out so many times in the past, you and I are probably much more closely correlated as atheists than anything else. I just go that one god further. But think about all the gods you are atheist about and why that is the case. Why is it not the case about your own flavour of deity? For me it was:

    1) I had been bullied and brain washed into it all of my childhood, and threatened with hell if I didn’t believe (of all the disgusting lies…that is right up there);

    2) My friends, family all believed. In the end I had invested so much in it, that letting it go was just devastating;

    3) So many people I admired were Christians. Surely they couldn’t all be wrong?

    4) The logic of it really seemed insurmountable. This is quite ironic given how I now see clearly that the evidence was really nothing of the sort! I was just rubbish at thinking.

    Your list will of course be different. But it might be interesting to write it down and work out precisely why you believe whatever it is you do believe. It was a truly shocking process for me to go through.

    I then had to find a sensible framework for working out how to know what I could believe. The many years of training in utter laziness of thought are incredibly hard to break; an inability to challenge a fixed pre-conception: these are a terrible basis for really assessing the validity of anything and they continue to hamper me to this day.

    But at least I know it.

  83. Sorry – that should have been Romans 1: 20. 1: 27 is one of the bits used to justify being very nasty to homosexuals.

  84. “For (2) what constitutes “fantastical” is nebulous at best; and I utterly reject the notion “extraordinary claims” require “extraordinary evidence”. The claim that ‘President Obama killed Oprah’ would be “extraordinary”, but I’m sure the rather “mundane” evidence of a videotape showing the event would be acceptable evidence.”

    This is a real gem. Actually the video tape would be dreadfully inadequate evidence. We’d need an awful lot more than that. The video-tape could be fake.

    You make the atheist argument beautifully here.

    We’d need: motive, witnesses, no-alibi, or a credible confession. Given how spectacularly unlikely an event this is, we would rightly be hugely sceptical of anything so crass as just a video of the event.

    The point is: when presented with the video a zillion very important questions would and should present themselves. Just to accept the video on face value might suggest that you followed Fox News say and had a loaf of bread for a brain. It would be excellent evidence that you did not have the power of independent thought.

    I think we can conclude that fantastic claims do indeed require fantastic evidence. Your example demonstrates it beautifully. Can you not see that your rejection of this point has everything to do with the strength of your adherence to your beliefs, and the perceived threat you take to them from the strength of this argument?

    Claims that break all the laws of maths, physics, biology and chemistry as we understand them must be supported by spectacular evidence – as they would rip apart everything in our daily lives, like why our cars work. Surely you can see this?

    I thank you.

  85. Timaahy: You obviously need to read Ermine and JimmyBoy where they explicitly ask for ‘direct observation’ ie ‘produce empirical evidence’. If YOU specificly grant that we can know things exist/have existed without directly observing them, than good for you. You’re being more open-minded.

    As such it’s hard to take your account of there being “little evidence” seriously when we have a mirade of evidence that logicaly points to God’s existence at minnimum. Evidence such as from morality, Intelligent Design, and First Cause which can only be logically explained by God. And where almost all reasoning from atheists either automaticly assume God doesn’t exist a priori and thus question beg, or could be used to deny the existence of anything if taken beyond the question of God’s existence.

    “And no, I don’t think “Obama killed Oprah” is that extraordinary at all.”

    Hey, welcome to the point – what constitutes “extraordinary claim” is open to subjective interpretation. I don’t require something to violate a law of physics to constitute an “extraordinary claim”, nor have any reason to hold science as a standard at all. As such one can always push the level of “higher standard of proof” to be so high as to be impossible to prove under such a criteria, no matter how much “mundane evidence” one has to support it.

    “Well, no, it’s not irrelevant at all. Astrologers don’t mess with my life too much, so I’m not interested in hassling them to prove their claims. But if they started messing with my rights and the rights of my fellow citizens… then game on.”

    All this seems to prove is that you don’t care if something is being taught as false so long as your life isn’t effected. As such one wonders if you don’t care about evidence, because you simply are unwilling to behave any differently no matter what.

  86. JimmyBoy:

    “Can you really not see the difference between a reasonable belief in the existence of George Washington, and a belief in aninvisible, silent, out-of-time, all knowing, all powerful deity who created a faulty creation (without further explanation – or apparently need for it – of the mechanism), and then demanded his own blood sacrifice to appease himself?”

    I’m still trying to get over the fact you claim God’s “silent” and ‘demanding’ at the same time.

    And when it comes to method of investigation, then no. There is no meaningful difference than knowing a past figure like George Washington and the events of the Revoluion existed and occured, and knowing Christ existed and the events that surrounded his life occured. Both demand a clear and reasonable standard of investigation to be used consistently. The only thing the method that atheist’s demand people follow shows is that almost everything claimed to be true (including evolution) can’t be proven. Thus it’s inconsistent ad hoc usage reveals it’s not a matter of “evidence”, but a personal prejudice and attitude.

    “What might you say?”

    I’d give four transcripts of eye witness testimony of some miracles (noting how they were upheld as true even through torture), then point to a complicated biological system where a brain (a complex organ in itself) requires blood to operate, which requires blood vessels to reach the brain, which requires a heart to pump the blood, which requires nerve impulses in order to pump, which requires a brain to send those impulses, which requires blood to operate, which requires….well you get the idea. And ask just how seriously do fair-minded people think such a complex operating method could be achieved through “unguided chance” when no sane individual thinks such a relatively “simple” structure like the Sphinx (despite obvious flaws), was made through “random chance”?

    Then I’d close my case, because the answer is just THAT obvious JimmyBoy (and not so different from what Romans 1:20 is talking about). 😉

    “This is a real gem. Actually the video tape would be dreadfully inadequate evidence. We’d need an awful lot more than that. The video-tape could be fake.”

    Obviously authentication would be mandatory. Still if it checked out to be genuine, people would believe such “mundane evidence” proved such an “extraordinary claim” as true.

    “We’d need: motive, witnesses, no-alibi, or a credible confession. Given how spectacularly unlikely an event this is, we would rightly be hugely sceptical of anything so crass as just a video of the event.”

    No, we’d actually need none of those things if an event is recorded. Just verification that what is recorded isn’t faked, unless that counts as ‘witnessing’. As I doubt you blow off events on the news like 9/11 as fake simply because none of those things have been provided. A zillion questions may present themselves, but none would matter to the central claim of ‘President Obama killed Oprah’,as a recording would be the only thing needed to prove the claim true.

    In ether case one could hold that everything you list is “mundane” as it’s used all the time and a “higher standard” need be achieved. How one could meet such a standard, I have no idea. Guess Obama would walk.

    For such reasons I continue to reject the notion “fantastical claims” require “fantastical evidence”. And have no reason to change my mind simply because atheists assert otherwise.

  87. I’m still trying to get over the fact you claim God’s “silent” and ‘demanding’ at the same time.

    Silent – because no one can hear nor, credibly, has ever heard him. That’s easy. Demanding because his followers force horrible morality on us via the legislature. It’s not your god who is demanding: it’s his awful followers (sorry…but…it is really born out in day to day actions committed in his name the world over. Look at the recent Kato murder in Uganda for example: very much instigated by the disgraceful immorality of Christians in the US and their followers in Africa).

    Why am I arguing this? You aren’t even trying to argue you here – you’re just being pedantic!

    “and knowing Christ existed and the events that surrounded his life occured.”

    Another straw man. I’ve no idea whether an itinerant mystic wandered around palestine 2000 years ago. To suggest credibly that he is one and the same person as a deity who created the universe (which he showed not a shred of knowledge of, bringing no knew physical knowledge whatsoever), who apparently died and came back to life, who flew off in a physical body to ‘heaven’ (where the heck is that?), walked through doors etc… One is a matter of debatable historical fact: we could look at the records and discuss it.

    The second bit though is clearly fantastic. We’d want some evidence for that – not just the clearly interested (and contradictory) descriptions of his followers.

    “In ether case one could hold that everything you list is “mundane” as it’s used all the time and a “higher standard” need be achieved. How one could meet such a standard, I have no idea. ”

    You are playing with words again. This nonsense of the ‘mundane’. Stop it – and address the issue or we can assume you have nothing to say. It’s been pointed out above so I think you are not discussing with integrity here.

    You want to claim that someone came back to life and is still alive today? You need to demonstrate that pretty darned categorically. I see no demonstration. I see no evidence. Where is your god??? Anyway: produce some mundane evidence for the existence of your god please. You have none I’m pretty sure.

    back to an argument from earlier: if I say Lord Vishnu died and came back to life, you’d ask for evidence. The contradictory tales of his interested followers clearly would not cut the mustard. Why can’t you see this?

    Your “miracles” do not demonstrate the existence of your god. After all, every serious religion can and does produce validated miracles. Which one shall we choose? And why does an apparent “miracle” prove the existence of your god rather than leprachauns? Or actually some new physics which fits with proven maths and science, rather than ripping it all to pieces! It’s just insane to jump to your conclusions.

    I’ve seen ‘miracles’ in West Africa too: I can’t explain them but I absolutely do not jump to the conclusion that there is anything to do with the local voodoo going on – to which they are attributed. I want an explanation in real terms, not a lazy ‘it’s a mystery’ type answer.

  88. You know, EB, if you don’t know the difference between ’empirical evidence’ and ‘direct observation’, I begin to see the problem.

    You also don’t appear to realize, as Jimmyboy mentions, that we can produce dozens of ‘witnessed’ miracles from gods who contradict one another. (yes, even under torture)

    And in the case of your hypothetical video evidence, what happens if Obama has a rock-solid alibi? What if he is shown on video at a party 1200 miles away at the same time of night? Oh! Maybe it was just someone who LOOKS like Obama, eh? Damn, it’s too bad no one thought of that before we put an innocent man behind bars, isn’t it? – Oh wait, JB DID think of it, didn’t he?

    Why is it that the atheists always seem to be the only ones who can think a concept all the way through without running into a brick wall of ignorance?

    “And ask just how seriously do fair-minded people think such a complex operating method could be achieved through “unguided chance” when no sane individual thinks such a relatively “simple” structure like the Sphinx (despite obvious flaws), was made through “random chance”?”

    Wow! Why don’t you just announce in big capital letters; “I HAVE NO CLUE WHATSOEVER WHAT THE THEORY OF EVOLUTION ACTUALLY ENTAILS!” and leave it at that? Damn, that’s weapons-grade stupid there! Noone who has any real knowledge of the ToE would claim that evolution entails “random, unguided chance”. -Mutation- is random, but -Selection- is anything but! Natural Selection is the part that makes evolution NON-random. It’s the part of the theory that explains how the best choices in the mix of genes are selected to survive, NOT random chance.

    But I don’t expect you to accept that, why should you? only people who actually care how things REALLY work are willing to look past their own biases and programming to find the real answers. You certainly aren’t one of those, as is made patently obvious by your continued dodging and weaving around the questions, and your obvious ignorance of the theory you are arguing so ineptly against.

    Thanks Timaahy and JimmyBoy! Keep up the good work! Don’t let the ignorant get away with such obviously-incorrect claims! Call ’em on it! It’s the only way to get the people around them to see just how constantly and consistently wrong they are.

    -Ermine!

  89. End Bringer,

    Once again, I -strongly- suggest that you point your browser at talkorigins.org and read up on the answers to all your questions there. I can see direct answers to several of your claims from the most cursory of overviews of the index.

    Here are some examples:
    Evidence for evolution HAS been observed: http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CA/CA230.html

    Evolution can be, and HAS BEEN proved, to the satisfaction of every scientific standard and organization of scientists in the world today: http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CA/CA202.html

    Evolution CAN be proven, even if we weren’t there to observe every mutation in history. (as far as anyone can ‘prove’ anything) – it has met every scientific standard of evidence with flying colors so far, with not a single failure: http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CA/CA221.html

    Now come on. Stop bringing up these same old constantly-debunked canards, would you? All the answers are easily-obtainable if you’re willing to go and -learn- something. Are you? Every time you make an incorrect, ignorant claim about evolution and Evolutionary Theory, you broadcast your willful ignorance to anyone with a clue who reads your words.

    Doesn’t your bible have something to say about making the gospel look bad by making claims about reality that can be easily debunked, thereby making people wonder if all your other claims are equally-unlearned and incorrect? It does, and if you don’t already know the verse I’ll look it up for you – but you really ought to know the bible better than *I* do, right?

    “Evidence such as from morality, Intelligent Design, and First Cause which can only be logically explained by God.”

    Evidence from morality?? Have you READ your bible? This is the same god who cursed people for untold generations with -eternal- suffering because their ancestors, while still too young to know right from wrong, ate a FRUIT? The same god who ordered one tribe to slaughter, rape, and plunder every other tribe in the vicinity, to stone disobedient children, and to force rape victims to MARRY their rapists?

    I’m sorry, but *I* have better morals than the god of the Bible. How that could possibly prove the existence of ANY god is rather difficult to understand. Care to explain?

    Intelligent Design “theory” has already been examined in the courts of both Science and Law, with both of them ruling unequivocally that ID is nothing more than rehashed creationism, yet another religious wolf in sheep’s clothing. There IS NO Intelligent Design Theory! Nothing more than one colossal argument from ignorance and incredulity. NO peer-reviewed studies have shown any sign of ID in any creature alive or dead.

    Let me guess, “evidence from First Cause” is yet another attempt to claim certain knowledge of a time billions of years in the past, with no evidence to show for it but one book of stories from a group of mostly-illiterate tribesmen, stories written OVER 13 *BILLION* YEARS after the fact? You’re trying to claim that as evidence for your god, -better- evidence than we have for for the process of evolution? Riiiiiight!

    And let me guess, you still can’t give an answer that makes any sense to the question of “If everything requires a cause, who or what caused your God?”

    Pitiful.

    -Ermine!

  90. My last comment is in moderation because I supplied 3 URLS to talkorigins.org. Hopefully it’ll pp up before too much conversation has gone by.

    -Ermine!

  91. JimmyBoy:

    “It’s not your god who is demanding: it’s his awful followers (sorry…but…it is really born out in day to day actions committed in his name the world over.”

    Funny, your rants seem to hold God responsible specificly with no mention of any “followers”. Not that atheism is any better as we’ve seen in the last century just as many (or greater) atrocities commited by communistic regimes.

    “One is a matter of debatable historical fact: we could look at the records and discuss it.

    The second bit though is clearly fantastic. We’d want some evidence for that – not just the clearly interested (and contradictory) descriptions of his followers.”

    No, both are debatable historical facts, which can be proven with the same level of evidence. One is simply a historical fact you have a personal prejudice against.

    “You are playing with words again. This nonsense of the ‘mundane’. Stop it – and address the issue or we can assume you have nothing to say. It’s been pointed out above so I think you are not discussing with integrity here.”

    Heh. Your “addressing” seems to come down to – ‘Do it, because I say so!’ Which I don’t find compelling in the slightest. And it may be a word game, but it’s one atheists like you are demanding to play with such words as “extraordinary” and “fantastical”. If you don’t like it, then stop pushing for it.

    “The contradictory tales of his interested followers clearly would not cut the mustard. Why can’t you see this?”

    Heh. I can. The issue seems to be tha a) that has nothing to do with the basic question of theism, and b) I don’t agree the witnessed testimony of Christ’s resurrection is contradicting. Noticed you all but ignored my Romans 1:20 example. 😉

    “Your “miracles” do not demonstrate the existence of your god. After all, every serious religion can and does produce validated miracles. Which one shall we choose?”

    Again, who said I was arguing the case for Christianity specificly? I’m arguing for basic theism, which all those “miracles” you point to would help rather than hurt me. As for your question itself, it doesn’t really hurt Christianity either, as it asserts there are more ‘beings’ in existance than simply God. When God turned the Nile into blood, the magicians could do the same. So I’m more than happy to accept the actual occurances of other ‘miracles’ as true if they stand up to a reasonable standard of investigation. To narrow down whether Christianity is true rather than Islam, I simply use more criteria than whether or not ‘miracles’ genuinely occured.

    “Or actually some new physics which fits with proven maths and science, rather than ripping it all to pieces! It’s just insane to jump to your conclusions.”

    Ha! What’s insane is holding the disputed events as false to your last breath, then turning around and saying ‘well even if they’re true their MUST be a naturalistic explanation’, and as such one wonders why you bother to argue their false if you don’t think they prove anything if true. The answer is fairly obvious – You know such events DO prove God’s existance as true, and just can’t let go of your bias.

    “I’ve seen ‘miracles’ in West Africa too: I can’t explain them but I absolutely do not jump to the conclusion that there is anything to do with the local voodoo going on – to which they are attributed. I want an explanation in real terms, not a lazy ‘it’s a mystery’ type answer.”

    Neither would I. I’m simply open-minded enough to know that the supernatural is a legitimate answer to solve that “mystery” if it’s true. And such an admission just shows you don’t care about ANY evidence as nothing would be good enough -even the evidence of your own personal experience.

    It just really goes to show how atheism is fueled by closed-minedness more than anything.

  92. Ermine:

    “Wow! Why don’t you just announce in big capital letters; “I HAVE NO CLUE WHATSOEVER WHAT THE THEORY OF EVOLUTION ACTUALLY ENTAILS!” and leave it at that?”

    I actually do know what it entails – a naturalistic process occuring by unguided random chance. Because obviously if there is no Intelligent Agency behind the events, that leaves only pure randomness – which is why it’s so enthusiasticly embrased by atheism.

    The question is – How seriously do you think such a complex system like the human body can occur, when no one in their right mind thinks more simplistic creations is a result of unguided naturalistic processess? Why not say the Sphinx in the pyramids were created by wind erosion rather than human beings? Seems just as plausable as any evolutionary explanation.

    But such an explanation would be far-fetched to the point of insanity, yet you and atheists assert just that in a thing a hundred times more complex. Sounds like an unthinking belief looking to justify itself any way it can to me.

  93. End Bringer,

    “I actually do know what it entails – a naturalistic process occuring by unguided random chance.”

    Yep! I was right in my first estimation. You don’t know, you don’t WANT to know, and you’re happy in your ignorance. When informed that you are 100% wrong, (as you are -again- here), you just parrot back the same incorrect assertions.

    What do you know, Talk.origins.org answers THIS old canard too! Whod’a thunk it?: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/chance/chance.html

    Please stop proclaiming your ignorance -quite- so loudly, would you? Everything you have raised so far has been answered quite clearly at talkorigins or any number of other sites on the web where the answers have been collected.

    I can find direct answers easily in many places, answers backed up by good, peer-reviewed science. Where are your answers? All I see are unevidenced claims, most of which are astoundingly ignorant of the areas of science that they touch on.

    “Why not say the Sphinx in the pyramids were created by wind erosion rather than human beings?”

    Because we have a good working knowledge of both the process of erosion AND how and what humans build. We have no scientific knowledge whatsoever about even the existence of God, much less what or how it goes about the process of creation. Since you claim that He created -everything-, what can you possibly compare it with to ascertain which was designed by divine hands and which by human, or anything else? Since god supposedly made the rocks, the air, the whole of -everything- around us, how can you possibly say that living things show signs of design when non-living things should show those very same signs?

    *sigh* The only reason I correct the religious online is in hopes that their audience may be able to see all the places where the religious arguments fail. It worked for me, I can only hope to help one or two more people see the light. I certainly don’t expect YOU to listen, learn, or change, EB.

    Carry on!

    -Ermine!

  94. I’m sorry End Bringer, but, no… Ermine and Jimmy Boy have not explicitly asked for “direct observation”. They have, however, asked for empirical evidence, which is different – the former being merely a subset of the latter. When I said that “no one is saying that observing god directly is the only way to prove that … he exists”, I meant that no one is asking for him to stick his three-heads-that-are-really-only-one-head through the clouds and say “Hey guys… long time no see!”.

    We both seem to accept that we can know things existed without directly observing them, and I think you will find that Ermine and Jimmy Boy will admit the same. After all, Ermine, Jimmy Boy and I all acknowledge that dinosaurs existed (correct me if I’m wrong guys! ?), but no human has ever directly observed one.

    I have not encountered the word “mirade” before, but from the context and the examples you have given, I can only assume it means “dearth”.

    1 – Argument from morality
    This argument is badly formed and internally inconsistent. From Wikipedia: “Is an action good because God commanded it, or did God command it because it is good? The first horn would imply that what is good is arbitrary; God decides what is right and wrong in the same way that a government decides which side of the street cars should drive on. This seems unreasonable. The second horn could imply that God made his commands in accordance with transcendental facts that exist apart from God”.

    Next!

    2 – Intelligent Design
    This is evidence that god exists? Are you joking? All intelligent design does is highlight gaps in existing scientific knowledge (and sometimes invent a gap which isn’t even there) and say “You don’t know how that happened. Ergo, god did it”. It is the most utterly asinine piece of drivel I have ever encountered.

    Next!

    3 – First Cause
    What caused god?

    Next!

    Oh… that’s all you had. Ah well…

    Yes, yes, yes… “extraordinary” is a subjective term. Can you stop being a pedant for one second and actually address the point we are making? The claims made about Jesus in the Bible are extraordinary, or miraculous, or fantastical, or extremely unlikely, or never matched by another other human, or violate the laws of physics, or whatever phrase you care to use. If you are denying that he did wonderful, unbelievable things, then why even bother believing in him? Why revere him as your Lord and Saviour if he didn’t do anything extraordinary?

    As for your final point, I didn’t say that I don’t care if false things are taught “so long as [my] life isn’t effected [sic]”. Claiming that I said that is simply dishonest. Yes, it bothers me that people are sucked in by astrology, but I’m not going to relentlessly hound them for evidence right now, because religion is the one currently doing all the damage. And I specifically mentioned “my rights and the rights of my fellow citizens”. It wasn’t that hard to understand, was it?

  95. “I actually do know what it entails – a naturalistic process occuring by unguided random chance.”

    No, no, no. Ermine provided you with a link, but just in case you can’t be bothered going there to read it…

    The genetic mutations themselves occur randomly, in that you can’t ever predict when they might occur. When they do occur, however, they occur in organisms that are themselves already the product of previous, beneficial mutations. If the new mutation enhances the survival chances of that organism over its rivals, then that organism is more likely to reproduce compared to those rivals, and the new mutation should become more prevalent over time.

    Genetic mutations are random. Natural selection is the exact opposite of random.

  96. Note: When I say “genetic mutations are random”, I mean they occur randomly (you can’t predict when they will occur), but the form they take is only partially random (there are constraints on what the mutation might be).

  97. “I’m sorry End Bringer, but, no… Ermine and Jimmy Boy have not explicitly asked for “direct observation”. They have, however, asked for empirical evidence, which is different – the former being merely a subset of the latter. I meant that no one is asking for him to stick his three-heads-that-are-really-only-one-head through the clouds and say “Hey guys… long time no see!”.

    You’re quibbling. Badly, since “produce your god” and provide empirical evidence is essentially EXACTLY like ‘to stick his head out of the clouds’.

    “1 – Argument from morality
    This argument is badly formed and internally inconsistent. From Wikipedia: “Is an action good because God commanded it, or did God command it because it is good?”

    You should visit Horvath’s Atheist: Jumping Out of A Bottomless-Pit post.

    “2 – Intelligent Design
    This is evidence that god exists? Are you joking? All intelligent design does is highlight gaps in existing scientific knowledge (and sometimes invent a gap which isn’t even there) and say “You don’t know how that happened. Ergo, god did it”. It is the most utterly asinine piece of drivel I have ever encountered.”

    You’re drivelling rant is just that – drivel. And goes to highlight my point on such reasoning from atheists being inconsistent ad hoc. As according to such reasoning the computer your typing on would have to be attributed to “naturalistic processess” where human beings could be denied to exist. And like Ermine and JimmyBoy, when you admit that ‘simpler’ things like the Sphinx is a product of ID, but don’t extend the same conclusion to a more complex inter-dependant system, like the human body, it just shows the core issue is your personal bias rather than “evidence”.

    “3 – First Cause
    What caused god?”

    For people who claim superior intelligence, it seems incredible that people need to be told what “First” means. Things WITH BEGINNINGS need a cause. As God as described as “timeless” (as JimmyBoy can attest to), not having a beginning exempts one from needing a cause. Unfortunately for atheists science has proven the universe is finite, and thus requires a cause.

    “Can you stop being a pedant for one second and actually address the point we are making?”

    What point? The point you all seem to have with this is ‘Do it, because I say so.’, but it’s already being shown no amount of evidence is going to please people who are so obviously closed-minded. Which shows the problem isn’t ‘evidence’ at all, but rather atheist’s personal prejudices.

    “If you are denying that he did wonderful, unbelievable things, then why even bother believing in him?”

    I don’t dispute they’re “extraordinary claims”. I dispute they require “extraordinary evidence” to be proven. See the difference?

    “It wasn’t that hard to understand, was it?”

    No, but doesn’t really address my assesment – you don’t care about whether it’s true or false, just how it effects you/people.

    “The genetic mutations themselves occur randomly, in that you can’t ever predict when they might occur. When they do occur, however, they occur in organisms that are themselves already the product of previous, beneficial mutations.”

    This is very ignorant in how overwhelmingly damaging mutations are more often than not. And that’s not even pointing out the fact that mutations by their very nature are ALWAYS through the LOSS of already existing genetic info. Which is actually counter-evidence to the Molecules-to-Man evolution which requires that genetic info needs to be GAINED, and has never been observed.

    “Genetic mutations are random. Natural selection is the exact opposite of random.”

    heh. No natural selection is just as random in an atheistic view that explicitly denies Intelligent Agency. As there’s no gurantee one trait will emerge over others, nor guarantees of survival in the unguided Universe atheism espouses.

  98. End Bringer, is your name a reference to what you do to rational conversations?

    1
    “‘produce your god’ and provide empirical evidence is essentially EXACTLY like ‘to stick his head out of the clouds'”.

    No, it really isn’t. To begin with, what about producing a logically consistent defintion of god? Or failing that, how about showing us that prayer works?

    I don’t have time to read the entire “Bottomless-pit” thread, but from what I saw Anthony’s response seems to boil down to “If you take God out of the question, we now have to decide how WE decide what is moral”. This (a) doesn’t address the stated issue with the Argument from Morality, and (b) is easily answered, since we already mostly frame questions of morality in terms of human suffering.

    2
    Your comments on Intelligent Design are simply idiotic. If you can sit there with a straight face and claim that the theory of evolution means you can argue that a computer was created by natural processes, then you are not qualified for this conversation.

    3
    “Things WITH BEGINNINGS need a cause”. Says who? Physicists have already explained how the Big Bang could have occurred without an external cause. It hasn’t been proven yet, but it is entirely within the realms of possibility.

    And even if you are right and everything with a beginning needs a cause, who says that cause has to be an omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent being who can simultaneously listen to the thoughts of 6 billion people?

    “What point?”

    Oh, I’m sorry… I thought you were keeping up. My bad! The point was that if you are making far fetched claims about bronze-age carpenters with virgin mothers walking on water and being raised from the dead, you need a little more than a book you essentially wrote yourself.

    “You don’t care about whether it’s true or false, just how it effects you/people.”

    Again, no. How many times do I have to say it? I care that people believe in unproven claims, but I focus my attention on the ones doing the most damage.

    “No natural selection is just as random in an atheistic view that explicitly denies Intelligent Agency.”

    What on earth are you talking about?!

    The bottom line is that evolution has been proven beyond doubt. If you don’t accept that, you just look like an idiot.

  99. Ermine:

    ““Why not say the Sphinx in the pyramids were created by wind erosion rather than human beings?”

    Because we have a good working knowledge of both the process of erosion AND how and what humans build.”

    Irrelevant. As Timaahy claims – ” All intelligent design does is highlight gaps in existing scientific knowledge (and sometimes invent a gap which isn’t even there) and say “You don’t know how that happened. Ergo, [man] did it”.

    Admittely I switch out the ‘intelligent agency’ in dispute, but the reasoning is still completely intact. Human beings haven’t created anything, it only APPEARS that things have been created by human beings, when really it’s all random naturalistic processess.

    Look at me! I’m thinking like an atheist! 😉

    “We have no scientific knowledge whatsoever about even the existence of God, much less what or how it goes about the process of creation.”

    *yawn* You have no “scientifc knowledge” of George Washington and such either. Thankfully science is NOT the only method of investigation we have to know things. I would say it’s not even the BEST.

  100. Timaahy:

    “End Bringer, is your name a reference to what you do to rational conversations?”

    When you finely make one, you’ll find out. 😉

    “I don’t have time to read the entire “Bottomless-pit” thread, but from what I saw Anthony’s response seems to boil down to “If you take God out of the question, we now have to decide how WE decide what is moral”. This (a) doesn’t address the stated issue with the Argument from Morality, and (b) is easily answered, since we already mostly frame questions of morality in terms of human suffering.”

    Gee, I wonder if not reading everything may have something to do with you not finding any addressment to your issues. Just saying.

    “Your comments on Intelligent Design are simply idiotic. If you can sit there with a straight face and claim that the theory of evolution means you can argue that a computer was created by natural processes, then you are not qualified for this conversation.”

    *yawn* I’ve had better rants thrown at me. Though for atheists that claim “natural methods answer everything” it’s truly amusing when they face their own viewpoint.

    ““Things WITH BEGINNINGS need a cause”. Says who? Physicists have already explained how the Big Bang could have occurred without an external cause.”

    No, it simply pushes the problem back a step.

    “And even if you are right and everything with a beginning needs a cause, who says that cause has to be an omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent being who can simultaneously listen to the thoughts of 6 billion people?”

    Well given that if matter, space, and time are finite things with a beginning what it points to is that the ‘First Cause’ must be immaterial, nonspacial, and nontemporal. Which coincidentally is how God is described in the Bible.

    “The point was that if you are making far fetched claims about bronze-age carpenters with virgin mothers walking on water and being raised from the dead, you need a little more than a book you essentially wrote yourself.”

    And again, you seem to give no other reason than ‘Because I say so’.

    “Again, no. How many times do I have to say it? I care that people believe in unproven claims, but I focus my attention on the ones doing the most damage.”

    “Even if there wasn’t credible evidence for George Washington, the question of whether he existed or not isn’t of great importance, as George-Washingtonists aren’t going around campaigning against euthanasia or same-sex marriage, or killing abortion doctors.”

    You say so yourself – importance is equated to how it effects others. And I’m quite amused that you admit your concerned about “most damage” and deny your motivated by it’s effects on people.

    “The bottom line is that evolution has been proven beyond doubt. If you don’t accept that, you just look like an idiot.”

    Oh dear, some schmuck on the internet is calling me names. I’m hurt. *rolls eyes*

    No, evolution is not “proven beyond doubt”. Or specificly ‘millions of years of unguided evolution’ which can’t be observed or experimentated on in a repeatable fashion. You know? Science.

    But it’s pretty irrelevant to the point being made – under atheism it’s all random chance. As you can’t claim something is ‘unguided’ AND ‘guided’ at the same time. That’s purely nonsensical. Which admittedly is par for the coarse for atheism.

  101. “No, it simply pushes the problem back a step.”

    HAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAAAA… hahahaaaaaaaa! That is priceless.

  102. Morel like ironic given you think ‘what caused god?’ is a valid counter-argument.

  103. Hahaaa… you are a battler.

    The irony is entirely generated by you, since your own explanation for the cause of the universe simply pushes the problem one step further back. All theists have done is invent their own get-out clause. It’s not an argument, it’s an escape.

  104. “The irony is entirely generated by you, since your own explanation for the cause of the universe simply pushes the problem one step further back. All theists have done is invent their own get-out clause. It’s not an argument, it’s an escape.”

    You simply show your ignorance of the argument being made. As First Cause by definition means there are no causes prior to the first one. Since God (as Christians describe Him) is timeless, this fits the situation as opposed to the polytheistic dieties that are born just like humans.

    In contrast the Big Bang by definition needs a cause in order to ‘bang’ at all. A timeless state will just remain in stasis and thus will never change unless caused by some outside force. Nor can any “naturalistic” explanations be possible by the very fact that all those naturalistic laws you hold to didn’t exist till they existed with matter, space, and time (to say nothing to the uniformity of such Laws). As such it’s logically impossible for a naturalistic explanation to be viable.

    But far be it for logic to interfere with atheistic delusions.

  105. Gee, I wonder if not reading the entire thread had something to do with not having time, which is what I actually said.

    “I’ve had better rants thrown at me.”
    1. I’m sure you have.
    2. You have a curious definition of “rant”.

    “Well given that if matter, space, and time are finite things with a beginning what it points to is that the ‘First Cause’ must be immaterial, nonspacial, and nontemporal.”

    Please explain how “immaterial, nonspacial and nontemporal” translates into omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence and being able to simultaneously listen to the thoughts of 6 billion people, which was the point I actually made.

    “You seem to give no other reason than ‘Because I say so’.”

    Well, no… it’s because it’s sensible. Since you don’t agree that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, am I to assume, then, that you’ll believe me when I tell you that I am actually your father? What evidential standards do you apply to extraordinary claims? Do you believe in alchemy, homeopathy, or astrology? Do you believe that Mohammad ascended into heaven on a winged horse? If not, why not?

    “You say so yourself – importance is equated to how it effects [sic] others. And I’m quite amused that you admit your [sic] concerned about ‘most damage’ and deny your [sic] motivated by it’s [sic] effects on people.”

    Oh… my… god. You can’t be this thick. It’s just not possible.

    Firstly, I didn’t deny that I was motivated by religion’s effects on people, I denied I was solely motivated by its effect on me alone, which was what your comment implied.

    Secondly, I gave you three reasons why your George Washington argument was invalid. You’ve taken one of the reasons out of context to imply that I don’t care about other false teachings. That is just patently absurd. It is absolutely why I’m personally not out there pestering astrologers for evidence, but it in no way implies I don’t care that their teachings are false.

    Get it through your head.

  106. “You simply show your ignorance of the argument being made. As First Cause by definition means there are no causes prior to the first one.”

    Hahaa… you really do come out with some pearlers. “We’ve called it the ‘First’ cause, silly, so there can’t be any prior causes!”. Oh well I guess that settles it then.

    “In contrast the Big Bang by definition needs a cause in order to ‘bang’ at all”.

    No, it doesn’t. You need to read more.

  107. “““Why not say the Sphinx in the pyramids were created by wind erosion rather than human beings?”

    ““Because we have a good working knowledge of both the process of erosion AND how and what humans build.”

    “Irrelevant.”

    Irrelevant?? This is like having an argument with kitchen & bath furniture. :( That we understand how the Sphinx couldn’t have been created by erosion and how at the same time it shows irrefutable signs of HUMAN artifice is -directly- relevant to the issue. Whether or not you can see that, I can hold out hope that some of the more honest of the readers here will see that for the weaseling that it is. If there’s one thing I know when I see it, it’s a weasel!

    We understand the process of erosion well enough to be able to -demonstrate- why erosion couldn’t have shaped the entirety of the sphinx. We can -demonstrate- exactly where and how the marks of human tools still remain on the rock faces.

    Peer-reviewed science has demonstrated exactly how and when and why populations evolve, from the diversification of species right down to the individual genetic mutations themselves as they occur in the DNA. We KNOW this now, and yet you’re trying to claim that, while we know how populations evolve now, none of the ones we see recorded in the rocks DID? Sorry bub, I know enough real science to see clearly just how very wrong you are, and it sickens me to no end to see how many people live in such benighted ignorance.

    You and all other religious apologists are unable to demonstrate any empirical evidence whatsoever of your god or of his design anywhere around us. Empirical evidence doesn’t mean we want to see his face, but his fingerprints at the very least would be nice before you can make a claim like that! Where -exactly- does this being interact with our universe? How -exactly- does he interact with it in any way whatsoever? How do you demonstrate his maleness, omnipotence, omnipresence, omnibenevolence, or omniscience, all of which are oft-claimed but remarkably undocumented attributes of this universal Intelligence?

    I’m afraid that this conversation has devolved to puppy-kicking, and I don’t know how much longer it can go on if one side simply refuses to accept even the definition of \empirical evidence\, much less the evidence itself.

    -Ermine

  108. Ermine,

    I am inclined to agree with your last paragraph. And I would never kick a puppy. Eat babies, yes… kick puppies, no. :-)

  109. Wow. I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone so well and truly humiliated in a discussion. I almost feel sorry for End Bringer. Almost… 😉

  110. Timaahy:

    “Gee, I wonder if not reading the entire thread had something to do with not having time, which is what I actually said.”

    Yet you chose to respond anyway.

    “You have a curious definition of “rant”.”

    Usually statments of little to no substance that just amounts to ‘I’m right, you’re wrong. I’m smart, you’re stupid.’ We get them from Stathei a lot.

    “Please explain how “immaterial, nonspacial and nontemporal” translates into omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence and being able to simultaneously listen to the thoughts of 6 billion people, which was the point I actually made.”

    And the point I was making is that it’s clearly evidence for God’s existence. Though given the nature of being able to make matter, space, and time exist when none of those things existed AT ALL, as well as the vast scope of the cosmos the ‘omnipotence’ part should be pretty obvious. Admittedly the rest would have to be revealed to be known.

    “Well, no… it’s because it’s sensible.”

    With the only reason for being sensible being *shock* because YOU say so.

    “Since you don’t agree that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, am I to assume, then, that you’ll believe me when I tell you that I am actually your father? What evidential standards do you apply to extraordinary claims?”

    I’d take the rather “mundane” evidence one always uses to verify paternity – birth certificate, DNA, heck just simple comparisons of dominant and recessive genes. Any one would do to prove your “extraordinary claim”.

    So thanks for proving my point further with this. 😉

    “Secondly, I gave you three reasons why your George Washington argument was invalid. You’ve taken one of the reasons out of context to imply that I don’t care about other false teachings.”

    From you: “Even if there wasn’t credible evidence for George Washington, the question of whether he existed or not ISN’T OF GREAT IMPORTANCE, as George-Washingtonists AREN’T going around campaigning against euthanasia or same-sex marriage, or killing abortion doctors.”

    No matter how many times I read this there seems to be no ambiguity to my conclusion from your own words. Clearly you equate “importance” to how it effects you/others. I’ll grant that you care for more than the personal bubble that is your life, however it still seems clear from this statement that if everyone dropped George Washington from the history books (no matter what evidence to support him) and went about there buisness, you’d give nary a peep.

    Either way, your “point” is still irrelevant, as ‘produce god’ is still the EXACT same thing as saying ‘produce Washington’ when it comes to method of investigation. And is even worse for ‘millions of years of unguided evolution’ as the scientific method DEMANDS direct observation and repeatable experimentation.

  111. Ermine:

    “That we understand how the Sphinx couldn’t have been created by erosion and how at the same time it shows irrefutable signs of HUMAN artifice is -directly- relevant to the issue.”

    No it isn’t. Because the issue is that you atheists claim ‘unguided natural causes’ is the MOST plausable explanation, demand it be assumed all the time when dealing with Intelligent Design, and that appearance of design ISN’T prima facia evidence for design. I’m just letting you face what ‘be assumed ALL THE TIME’ means in totality. 😉

    After all we know wind does erode rock. So given “millions of years” it’s perfectly PLAUSABLE that rock COULD be shaped by unguided naturalistic forces with only the APPEARANCE of design. Heck, it’s self-evident flaws would seem to support such a conclusion further, because according to atheists ‘flaws’ ALWAYS disprove ID in favor of naturalistic processess. 😉

    “If there’s one thing I know when I see it, it’s a weasel!”

    Apparently it only APPEARS to be a weasel. But isn’t.;)

    “We understand the process of erosion well enough to be able to -demonstrate- why erosion couldn’t have shaped the entirety of the sphinx. We can -demonstrate- exactly where and how the marks of human tools still remain on the rock faces.”

    Apparently not, as appearances don’t matter according to those “peer-reviewed” scientists of yours.

    “Peer-reviewed science has demonstrated exactly how and when and why populations evolve, from the diversification of species right down to the individual genetic mutations themselves as they occur in the DNA.”

    Really? You can REALLY demonstrate “millions of years of unguided evolution” that we can directly observe and experiment upon a 1,001, times to get the same result over and over again? Really?

    Think you can demonstrate which came first while you’re at it – the heart or the brain. How about the liver and the kidney? Which of those organs popped into existance first? And remember – we must directly observe it, and be able to repeat it as many times as we’d like.

    Because if you can really demonstrate any of this, then you’ll be the first amoungst the scientists I’ve asked. I won’t hold my breath however, and will be fully expecting some excuse about how you can’t, or just more assertions about how a hundred scientists and their lab animals agree.

    “You and all other religious apologists are unable to demonstrate any empirical evidence whatsoever of your god or of his design anywhere around us.”

    No more than you can produce any empirical evidence for the Sphinx when we assume naturalistic forces a priori and rabidly reject any arguement for the alternative conclusion. Which was pretty much the point.;)

    “I’m afraid that this conversation has devolved to puppy-kicking, and I don’t know how much longer it can go on if one side simply refuses to accept even the definition of \empirical evidence\, much less the evidence itself.”

    Says the chew-toy. I have to say I’ve rarely been this amused at the blatant irony and hypocrisy atheists show to their own reasoning. If you think the rejection of what YOU accept as self-evidently designed is ludicrous, just imagine how it’s seen on the other side of the theological fence. 😉

  112. “I’d take the rather ‘mundane’ evidence one always uses to verify paternity – birth certificate, DNA, heck just simple comparisons of dominant and recessive genes. Any one would do to prove your extraordinary claim’.”

    No, actually, you have proven my point for me. You are again confusing the quality of the evidence with its form. Taken together, those items would constitute extraordinary evidence. There would be no need to take it on faith, since you proved it beyond doubt. Why would you demand a much higher standard of proof for the claim that I am your father than for the claim that there is an invisible sky fairy who will send you to eternal damnation if you don’t pick his fairytale over all the others?

    OK mate… let me spell it out for you one last time. I choose to base my own response against unproven claims on how much they impinge on my rights and the rights of my fellow citizens.

    Please show how this statement leads you to the conclusion that I would give “nary a peep” if people tried to erase Washington from the history books. While you’re at it perhaps you’d like to provide a proof for the Riemann Hypothesis.

    “Your ‘point’ is still irrelevant, as ‘produce god’ is still the EXACT same thing as saying ‘produce Washington’ when it comes to method of investigation.”

    Yes, once you get over the fact that we’re not asking you to show us your deity in the flesh (so to speak), ‘produce god’ is indeed the same as ‘produce Washington’. Washington’s existence is proven beyond doubt, since there are copious amounts of evidence for him. You can’t say the same for god. So how is the point irrelevant?

    “And is even worse for ‘millions of years of unguided evolution’ as the scientific method DEMANDS direct observation and repeatable experimentation.”

    Evolution has been directly observed, and has been repeated in experiments, but science doesn’t demand direct observation. The fact that scientists “believe” in dinosaurs should give you a clue that this is not the case.

    Would you mind answering these two questions. For each question, could you answer “Yes” or “No”, and give a reason why? You don’t have to, of course, but I think it would be enlightening, for both of us.
    1. Do you, personally, believe that George Washington existed?
    2. Do you, personally, believe that dinosaurs existed?
    3. Do you believe that Jesus was born of a virgin, performed miracles, and rose from the dead as the Son of God?
    4. Do you believe that the angel Gabriel dictated the final revelation to Mohammad, and that he flew to heaven on a winged horse?

  113. End Bringer,

    After banging his or her head on the desk, Ermine may suffer concussion… so I will give a brief response.

    You’re getting closer to understanding with your use of the phrase “most plausible”. Yes, it is perfectly possible for the weather to produce a giant statue of a sphinx over millions of years. But is it likely? If you know that humans lived in the area and knew how to carve stone, what’s the most likely explanation?

    Aliens could have done it too. But since there is absolutely no evidence that aliens have ever visited earth… blah blah blah.

    Ditto for Intelligent Design.

  114. “No, actually, you have proven my point for me. You are again confusing the quality of the evidence with its form. Taken together, those items would constitute extraordinary evidence. There would be no need to take it on faith, since you proved it beyond doubt.”

    Heh. Since science is NEVER certain on anything, there’s always doubt. And since you have admitted things like “extraordinary” is entirely subjective, your claim that they would constitute “extraordinary evidence”, seems to be just that – a subjective description. Thus this attempt of yours is in reality proven pointless.

    “OK mate… let me spell it out for you one last time. I choose to base my own response against unproven claims on how much they impinge on my rights and the rights of my fellow citizens.

    Please show how this statement leads you to the conclusion that I would give “nary a peep” if people tried to erase Washington from the history books. While you’re at it perhaps you’d like to provide a proof for the Riemann Hypothesis.”

    By your own admission of hinging things on whether or not it would “impinge” you or others. If it doesn’t affect your life or others, then by your own admission you wouldn’t care if it’s true or false. Heck, logically it would seem PREFERABLE for something false to be believed as true if it allows you and others to live in a way you personally approve.

    Which in my belief is one of the driving forces of people accepting atheism as it certainly isn’t true. 😉

    “Washington’s existence is proven beyond doubt, since there are copious amounts of evidence for him. You can’t say the same for god. So how is the point irrelevant?”

    What evidence? According to JimmyBoy and Ermine, unless there’s empirical evidence we can observe for ourselves, it isn’t proven. What evidence do you have of Washington? A bunch of accounts written by primatives to serve some agenda? They could just as easily made stuff up, and since you, I, or any evolution-believing scientists weren’t there to confirm it, that MUST be the case!

    Quite frankly, it’s just as much an ad hoc reasoning atheists come up with as the arguments against ID. I’ve often said the difference between an atheistic arguement and a Holocaust-denier is that the atheist isn’t anti-sementic (most atheists I know at least). When it comes to the arguments themselves they’re almost verbatim.

    “Evolution has been directly observed, and has been repeated in experiments, but science doesn’t demand direct observation. The fact that scientists “believe” in dinosaurs should give you a clue that this is not the case.”

    Science DOES demand direct observation. Usually what’s often asserted as true by scientists isn’t genuine science. It’s just label ‘science’. And no MICROevolution has been observed, but that’s catagorically different to MACROevolution which is what’s disputed. As I’ve said before ‘millions of years’ of ANYTHING can’t be directly observed. And imaginative interpretations don’t count as “proof”.

    “You’re getting closer to understanding with your use of the phrase “most plausible”. Yes, it is perfectly possible for the weather to produce a giant statue of a sphinx over millions of years. But is it likely? If you know that humans lived in the area and knew how to carve stone, what’s the most likely explanation?”

    I already completely understand your arguments from YEARS of experiencing them. For all the chest-thumping about “free thinking” on this thread, none of you have made an original argument yet.

    And if you’re going to throw “likely” in as some kind of credible factor, I’d say the ‘likeliness’ of a planet full of non-living rocks and molecules turning into a plethora of complex and diverse life in a balanced ecosystem BY PURE CHANCE, is grounds to dismiss atheism outright.

    Which is my point to the Sphinx example – atheists demand ‘unguided natural processess’ are responsible for complex things, while simultaneously demanding Intelligent Agency is responsible for simpler things.

    And you guys wonder why religious belief didn’t end by the 21st century.

  115. “No it isn’t. Because the issue is that you atheists claim ‘unguided natural causes’ is the MOST plausable explanation, demand it be assumed all the time when dealing with Intelligent Design, and that appearance of design ISN’T prima facia evidence for design. I’m just letting you face what ‘be assumed ALL THE TIME’ means in totality.”

    Then you’re not just ignorant, you’re an idiot – and now a liar as well, since I’ve already stated that Natural Selection is the guide that you keep refusing to see in evolution. It’s not random, it’s not unguided, it’s just unguided by any *intelligence*, and that’s what I’ve been saying all along. You’re just refusing to listen or learn.

    I had pretty much ascertained that from your answers already, thank you for making it perfectly clear.

    First off, it is *scientists*, not atheists who have done the work to prove that evolution occurs. Understanding the Theory of Evolution does NOT make one an atheist. The fact that many if not most atheists understand the scientific method enough to be able to argue the point just means that the atheists are better-educated than you are. FAR better-educated, since you appear to refuse to educate yourself even when pointed directly at the answers.

    Until ‘Intelligent Design’ – or religion for that matter – can produce ANY empirical evidence to support the idea that ANYTHING supernatural exists, science (and most atheists) are going to continue to work on the assumption that the natural world is all there is. It’s all we’ve ever been able to provide any real evidence for, after all.

    Thousands if not millions of peer-reviewed scientific papers have demonstrated extensively how things evolve, and how *Natural Selection* and not some unnamed supernatural force selects for the exquisite “design” we see in all living things, today and in the past. The number of peer-reviewed scientific papers that reliably demonstrate supernatural forces of any kind whatsoever? Nonexistant.

    We know how things like organs, the blood-clotting cascade, and the immune system evolved, and we can see by comparing different creatures how all of those features evolved differently in different populations. We already KNOW how all of that works! Where is there even room to shoehorn the superstitious nonsense of your supernatural Designer into the equation?

    The ‘mundane’ evidence of a DNA test for paternity that you mentioned before, do you admit that you accept that sort of “proof” as reliable and telling evidence? Because that’s -exactly- the same way that Science has been able to demonstrate the facts of evolution beyond any *reasonable* doubt. Isn’t it strange how you refuse to accept the evidence when it disagrees with you, but you consider it powerful yet completely mundane evidence when you know the results will be in your favor?

    ““Peer-reviewed science has demonstrated exactly how and when and why populations evolve, from the diversification of species right down to the individual genetic mutations themselves as they occur in the DNA.”

    “Really? You can REALLY demonstrate “millions of years of unguided evolution” that we can directly observe and experiment upon a 1,001, times to get the same result over and over again? Really?”

    When you learn to read what I’ve written and not just repeat your own spurious claims, maybe, MAYBE you’ll learn something.

    “This is very ignorant in how overwhelmingly damaging mutations are more often than not. And that’s not even pointing out the fact that mutations by their very nature are ALWAYS through the LOSS of already existing genetic info. Which is actually counter-evidence to the Molecules-to-Man evolution which requires that genetic info needs to be GAINED, and has never been observed.”

    First, it doesn’t matter how many mutations are damaging, as long as some of them are beneficial, and we have *directly observed* beneficial mutations occurring, in both the wild and in the lab. Second, most mutations are *neutral*, not deleterious. And third, your claim about loss of genetic info is 100% incorrect!

    Mutations happen in several ways. Some remove information, some change existing information, and some add information. The types of mutation are: Inversions, Deletions, Substitutions, Frameshifts, Duplications*, Repeat Expansions*, and Insertions*. All the ones marked with a * explicitly ADD INFORMATION to the genome.

    Come on! This is high-school level stuff. all you had to do was search for ‘types of mutations’ to get over 9 MILLION results, the first few of which give exactly the information I expected to find.

    Until you’re willing to go to talkorigins.com and educate yourself, you’re just going to keep repeating the same constantly-debunked old saws, aren’t you? Well, your ignorance and dishonesty are noted, and I’ve spent enough time correcting you. Feel free to claim victory, the facts speak for themselves in the thread, so I’m not at all worried that anyone with sense will believe you.

    Maybe I’ll come back if you post any more of these really egregious, easily-debunked canards, but it looks like there are plenty of others here with the minimal education necessary to keep schooling you as often as you need it.

    Ta-ta!

    -Ermine!

  116. I notice that you didn’t answer my questions… Any particular reason?

    “Since science is NEVER certain on anything, there’s always doubt.”

    Yeah, OK. We’re only 99.999999999% sure that the earth is an oblate spheroid, but I’m not going to believe it until they prove it to 100% or I verify it for myself. Oh, and even then, it could be that my eyes are playing tricks on me. Or someone slipped a hallucinogen in my drink to make me think the earth is an oblate spheroid. Or maybe I’m not really alive, I’m actually living in a computer program as part of an experiment run by eight-headed aliens in a universe where everything is shaped like a donut.

    You have no problem accepting scientific findings when you pop an aspirin, or get in your car, or turn on your laptop. The same scientific method that enables you to do those things also proved evolution. So apparently you only reject science when it conflicts with the 2,000 year old writings of bronze age goat herders.

    “If it doesn’t affect your life or others, then by your own admission you wouldn’t care if it’s true or false.”

    Come on… you’re not serious are you? You’re joking, right? Or are you, in fact, Ralph Wiggum? “Me fail English? That’s unpossible!”

    If a cop sees a murder and a jay-walk happening at the same time, he’s going to go and stop the murder. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t care about jay-walking.

    Seriously mate… you’re beginning to look like a Poe.

    “Science DOES demand direct observation.”

    Oh, OK… so it goes something like this then…
    1. Science tells us that dinosaurs existed.
    2. No human has ever directly observed a dinosaur.
    3. Science demands direct observation.

    See the problem?

    “The ‘likeliness’ [sic] of a planet full of non-living rocks and molecules turning into a plethora of complex and diverse life in a balanced ecosystem BY PURE CHANCE, is grounds to dismiss atheism outright.”

    Yes, life is very unlikely. But we’re here talking about it, aren’t we? So I’m pretty sure it happened, in spite of its likelihood.

    “Atheists demand ‘unguided natural processess’ are responsible for complex things”

    No, we don’t. We demand evidence of how complex things came about, and none of the evidence requires a divine magician.

    “And you guys wonder why religious belief didn’t end by the 21st century.”

    No, I don’t wonder that at all. Some people will believe anything, no matter how ridiculous.

  117. “And you guys wonder why religious belief didn’t end by the 21st century”

    Don’t worry, EB, it will – thanks to contributions like yours and SJs. You to do more for the cause of Atheism than any Atheist ever could… :)

  118. “The ‘likeliness’ [sic] of a planet full of non-living rocks and molecules turning into a plethora of complex and diverse life in a balanced ecosystem BY PURE CHANCE, is grounds to dismiss atheism outright.”

    Boy it’d be nice if EB could stick to one topic. Does he mean religion vs atheism, religion vs science, religion vs the Theory of Evolution, the ToE vs Intelligent Design, or religion vs abiogenesis (Creation of Life), which is an event completely separate from Darwin’s theory? Are there any other issues he’s like to try to conflate into the mix?

    “MICROevolution has been observed, but that’s catagorically different to MACROevolution which is what’s disputed. ”

    http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CB/CB901.html

    Should I just paste in the talkorigins.org page that refutes your silly assertions every time you post another old saw? I can’t fit 3 into a post without being held for moderation, I’m not yet sure about two. We’ll see!

    -Ermine!
    Most of us here seem to be trying to -communicate-, carefully defining the terms we mean and trying to stick with one subject at a time so we don’t continually conflate issues together. EB seems to be trying to -obfuscate- instead. Well, if you’re trying to prove that three is one and one is three at the same time, and that a god which cannot be detected in any way has total power over the entire universe, perhaps confusing your audience with bafflegab is the best place to start!

  119. Ermine,

    You forgot atheism vs holocaust denial!

  120. Your suggestion that the attrocities of the 20th Century were comitted by atheists somewhat dishonestly suggests that those who were atheists (and clearly Hitler wasn’t in case he was in your undefined list) committed their attrocities because they were atheists. I find the fact that they mostly had moustaches to be about as relevant. They committed attrocities because they were psychopaths, not because they rejected religious nonsense.

    However, the wars I have (personally) seen around the world have mostly had significant religious morality pushing them along. The attrocities were explicitly committed in the name of one god or other, and deliberately to further religious agendas. They have been committed by the clergy in so many cases too.

    The difference could not be starker. Those atheists who have committed appalling attrocities have done so – to the best of my knowledge – motivated not by the rejection of god(s) but because they were mentally ill.

    There is no reaspon to think that the Rwandan nuns who provided the petrol to the Interhamwe to burn down their own church, having just locked 5,000 men, women and children in, were motivated by anything other than tribal hatred, built on religious facism. That the Catholic Church continues to defend them – despite a clear cut trial and conviction in a Belgian Court tells us again, just about everything we need to know about the disgusting RCC.

    I could go on – extensively – with recent and categoric examples. Religion seems to cause people to do seriously evil things – in the name of their gods and motivated by their religious doctrines. Atheism on the other hand, demonstrably and observably, appears in general to cause people to be more moral and law abiding than their neighbours.

    “You’re quibbling. Badly, since “produce your god” and provide empirical evidence is essentially EXACTLY like ‘to stick his head out of the clouds’.”

    OK: so let’s just cut through the playing with words which is going on here. End Bringer: you tell me what you’d be satisfied with as proof of the existence of Osiris or Wotan and we can start the conversation from there.

    Produce your god means produce your god in some sensible way which is actually accessible to people who don’t start with a prejudice in favour of believing your myths. If there is a reason why your god does not want sincere and interested parties to know of his existence and therefore won’t reveal himself to us in definitive terms, then please explain that. It would appear to be maverick at the least, and evil by any reasonable analysis.

    He obviously doesn’t exist and your intellectual dishonesty tells us everything we need to know about you. It also hides truly evil actions performed by members of your cult the world over every day. So you can slide into accusing me havoing a rant if you like. But your cult is evil and I and many others will continue to call it out as such. Increasingly loudly now we are free to do so (the first time in history I note that this option has been widely available: still not in many parts of your country where your sect continues to persecute people who disagree with you and impose your horrible immorality on society at large via the ballot box). This process is sick and evil. What can we conclude about those who participate – and profit from this?

    And yes – you are intellectually dishonest: deeply so. You raise straw men; you obfuscate; you don’t answer the questions put to you; you raise objections to points that were never made; you move goal posts and most irritatingly, you play with language to change meanings. Your abuse of the word evidence is just ridiculous.

    I have to call you on this: look at yourself! Why do you do this? If you could honestly answer this question you would find out a great deal about yourself.

  121. *sniff!* That was beautiful, man!

  122. Timaahy:

    “I notice that you didn’t answer my questions… Any particular reason?”

    Aside from the fact that their irrelevant and off-topic?

    “Yeah, OK. We’re only 99.999999999% sure that the earth is an oblate spheroid, but I’m not going to believe it until they prove it to 100% or I verify it for myself. Oh, and even then, it could be that my eyes are playing tricks on me. Or someone slipped a hallucinogen in my drink to make me think the earth is an oblate spheroid. Or maybe I’m not really alive, I’m actually living in a computer program as part of an experiment run by eight-headed aliens in a universe where everything is shaped like a donut.”

    That seems to be in line with many atheistic arguments I’ve heard. 😉

    Point being if science can never be without doubt on things we CAN directly observe and experimant upon (even if the uncertainty is small), then that just leaves issues we inherently CAN’T observe, like ‘millions of years of evolution’, all the more suspect.

    “You have no problem accepting scientific findings when you pop an aspirin, or get in your car, or turn on your laptop. The same scientific method that enables you to do those things also proved evolution.”

    Heh. I’ll put to you the same challenge I put to Ermine:

    Demonstrate ‘millions of years of unguided evolution’ where we can directly observe and experiment upon it in a repeatable fashion (and no, MICROevolution doesn’t count as it’s MACROevolution that’s under dispute).

    If you can’t then don’t pretend for a minute such a thing is even remotely close to being in the same catagory as asprin, cars, or laptops – things we obviously CAN directly observe and experiment upon in a repeatable fashion. Which is how genuine science actually opperates.

    “Come on… you’re not serious are you? You’re joking, right? Or are you, in fact, Ralph Wiggum? “Me fail English? That’s unpossible!””

    Your words Timmy. I’m just reading what you write.

    “Oh, OK… so it goes something like this then…
    1. Science tells us that dinosaurs existed.
    2. No human has ever directly observed a dinosaur.
    3. Science demands direct observation.

    See the problem?”

    Yes, you’re wrong that “science” tells us dinosaurs existed. “Science” is – observation, hypothesis, experiment, repeat (and apparently intimidate and ridicule opposing views). Obviously this is impossible for any creature or event of the past. What ACTUALLY tells us dinousaurs existed is ‘human deduction’ of fossils, which doesn’t need 1,001 tries to make sure it’s right.

    So unless your opperating based on some equivocation of “science” being ‘what a scientist says’, you’re waaaaay off base on how science works.

    “Yes, life is very unlikely. But we’re here talking about it, aren’t we? So I’m pretty sure it happened, in spite of its likelihood.”

    And I’m pretty sure that’s circular logic and question begging. Or to put it in the context of my example – I assume Mankind doesn’t exist, and everything was built by naturalistic processess. The Sphinx exsits and wind erodes rock. Therefore it’s ‘proof’ that the Shinx was made by the unguided naturalistic process of erosion, rather than ‘Mankind of the gaps’ simply because it’s there.

    Why I do believe it fits the atheistic ‘proof’ and reasoning perfectly in all it’s ludicrous glory. 😉

    “No, we don’t. We demand evidence of how complex things came about, and none of the evidence requires a divine magician.”

    The Sphinx doesn’t require ‘a bunch of aimlessly wondering primates’ either. Nor is a “how” truly necessary in determining whether something is designed or not.

  123. Ermine:

    “Boy it’d be nice if EB could stick to one topic. Does he mean religion vs atheism, religion vs science, religion vs the Theory of Evolution, the ToE vs Intelligent Design, or religion vs abiogenesis (Creation of Life), which is an event completely separate from Darwin’s theory? Are there any other issues he’s like to try to conflate into the mix?”

    heh. This is like saying George Washington, history, the American Revolution, and America’s founding are all different topics.

    “Should I just paste in the talkorigins.org page that refutes your silly assertions every time you post another old saw? I can’t fit 3 into a post without being held for moderation, I’m not yet sure about two. We’ll see!”

    The first line is all that’s needed to refute it –

    “1.We would not expect to observe large changes directly. Evolution consists mainly of the accumulation of small changes over large periods of time. If we saw something like a fish turning into a frog in just a couple generations, we would have good evidence against evolution.”

    So it’s admitted ‘millions of years of unguided evolution’ CAN’T be observed (Timaahy will be devistated). As such it fails to meet one of the key requirements of science – direct observation. And basicly just says ‘since we can observe natural selection, we just assume it happened so-and-so many years in the past’. Well, not only is that not even “science”, that’s basicly saying ‘Since we observed Mankind landing on the moon, we can assume Mankind landed on the moon millions of years ago’.

    Nope, not going to cut it.

  124. JimmyBoy:

    “Those atheists who have committed appalling attrocities have done so – to the best of my knowledge – motivated not by the rejection of god(s) but because they were mentally ill.”

    BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! Oh this is rich! ‘If religious people do something bad it’s proof how their religion is soooo evil, but if an atheist does something bad it just means there’s something personally wrong with him/her’. HAHAHAHAHA!!! Oh I haven’t heard one this good, since it was argued atheism/communisim is only a religion only when it does something “wrong”. Oh, my sides hurt! hehe.

    Thanks JimmyBoy, I needed the laugh after a long day.

    “And yes – you are intellectually dishonest: deeply so.”

    You’ll forgive me if I don’t loose a wink of sleep from being judged ‘evil’ and ‘dishonest’ by someone practically frothing at the mouth with hate.

  125. “Aside from the fact that their irrelevant and off-topic?”

    No, the questions are absolutely relevant to the issue at hand – evidence. Could you please answer them for me? As I said, I think your answers will be enlightening for both of us.

    “I’m just reading what you write.”

    Reading, yes. Comprehending, no.

    “So it’s admitted ‘millions of years of unguided evolution’ CAN’T be observed (Timaahy will be devistated).”

    Oh sweet baby Jebus… I’M THE ONE THAT SAYS DIRECT OBSERVATION ISN’T NECESSARY!

    “‘If religious people do something bad it’s proof how their religion is soooo evil, but if an atheist does something bad it just means there’s something personally wrong with him/her’.”

    It’s about motivation, numb nuts. Holy books justify all manner of atrocities. Atheism does not.

  126. “‘If religious people do something bad it’s proof how their religion is soooo evil, but if an atheist does something bad it just means there’s something personally wrong with him/her’. HAHAHAHAHA!!! Oh I haven’t heard one this good, since it was argued atheism/communisim is only a religion only when it does something “wrong”.”

    “since it was argued atheism/communisim[sic] is only a religion only when it does something “wrong”.”

    You have got to be kidding me. How many ways can you be wrong in one tiny sentence? I suppose this is an instance of what they call “Fractally Wrong”. No matter what resolution you observe it under, it’s still wrong.

    Atheism is not a religion.
    Communism is not a religion.
    “Atheists” cannot be grouped together by anything but the lack of a belief in deities. Atheism does not call for or proscribe ANY actions.
    Atheism cannot and does not “do” anything. It has no dogma, no Holy books, no prophets, no rules. It is not a lifestyle choice, a moral framework, or -anything- except a rejection of god-beliefs until convincing evidence to prove them is provided. Lack of belief in god(s) does not call for or imply any other action, while religions quite explicitly DO tell people to do (or not do) things.
    No atheist is ever going to argue that atheism is a religion, especially not “only when it does something wrong.”
    No one here has argued any of these things, and personally, I defy to find a quote of even one Atheist OR Communist anywhere where they do.

    These are pretty pitiful straw-men here, EB. Come on!

    So, what are the chances that you can come up with even a single quote from one of those eeeevil atheists saying “I’m doing this for the sake of the non-existent God” (or in any other way asserts that their atheism is the cause of their actions)?

    On the other hand, we have the religious explicitly killing people because “God demands it”. We have witch-hunts where innocents were BURNED ALIVE because “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live”. The word “Crusade’ explicitly means “a holy war undertaken on behalf of a religious cause”, and the Crusades to ‘take back the Holy Land from the infidels” caused the deaths of millions!

    Then there was the Inquisition. Do I even have to go there? That was a HOLY Inquisition, and it was “For the Glory of God” that the priests were able to take power in the first place. Hell, even Hitler fueled his Holocaust with religiously-motivated anger at the Jews. And now we have people killing doctors or their own children, beating or voting away the rights of homosexuals, stoning, mutilating, and burning women with acid, all because they felt they were directly commanded by their God to do so!

    How can you even try to compare the two? Does your dishonesty know no bounds? Have you at last, sir, no decency?

    -Ermine!

  127. Oh damn, I forgot ‘Atheism is not Communism’ in that list of fractal wrongness. Well, it was getting amazingly wrong already, so I’m not really surprised..

    -Ermine!

  128. End Bringer – why are you so dishonest? Why not argue with the evidence I produced to support my argument? Why all the bluster and tone nonsense? Is it because:

    1) you are incapable of addressing points made because of intellectual capacity issues?
    2) you are dishonest?
    3) you will not examine the facts?
    4) whatever…

    Atheists do not claim to have some higher morality (unlike the religious of course, whose behaviour is the first indication that there is something profoundly adrift with their outrageous claims). The only common point between atheists is that they reject all gods, yours included, on the basis of lack of evidence.

    I have pointed out – and did not see you disagree – that you are an atheist with regard to every other god. What do you think? Are you?

    So yes: if an atheist does a bad thing – because her/his rejection of god causes him to do it (ie part of my god-rejection requires me to persecute homosexuals) then fine: you can have it. However, that was not the case for any of the great 20th Century genocidal leaders to my knowledge. They were genocidal fruit cakes because they were mentally unhinged. I’d attribute that to Stalin, Pol Pot, Hitler (who was definitively not an atheist despite attempts by Christians to re-write history on this point).

    On the other hand, the LRA, the Irish troubles, the Balkans wars and so many others were profioundly religious in nature, not to mention the global meltdown we all live with because of the religious crazies in the Middle East.

    So yes: you are intellectually dishonest. I’m sure you’ll lose no sleep over the accusation, because you have insulated your mind from legitimate challenge. You have to do that to keep the wild contradictions in check presumably, or your head would burst. Cognitive disonnance I think it’s called.

    Why not argue with the points made?

    So when a psychopath goes crazy with a gun and tries to kill everyone around him I do not blame religion – even if he attributes his actions to his god. I blame his psychosis.

    However, when American Christians travel to Uganda and hold big rallies, meetings with Government, where they espouse radical anti-gay views, directly resulting from which a lead gay-rights campaigner is bludgeoned to death in his home, I blame religion and the religious. I blame both the Ugandan churches and I blame the US Evangelists and all associated with them. It was done in the name of your god.

    Not all Christians are implicated though: I have plenty of Christian friends who are vocally opposed to homophobic bigotry. But if you are a Christian homophobic bigot, you help create the space where this crime can occur and are certainly implicated.

    I use this as an example.

    Where crimes are committed in the name of religion, or religion helps to cover them up, then religion is to blame (think RCC child abuse). When atheists kill people because their rejection of god causes them to think they need to do so we would have the same point.

    As it is we have an intellectually dishonest little weasel sitting behind your keybouard who seems not to like facts very much.

    Sure I hate religion. I calmly hate lots of evil things. It’s an appropriate response. I don’t though attempt to legislate to stop your religion. I don’t try to restrict your religious freedoms except where you demand religious rights harmfully to impinge your views on others. How to protect children from religion is a real problem of course.

    In fact, I – and every atheist I know (possibly excluding Sam Harris) – believe that we should tolerate the religious and religions, dangerous and evil though they are, because individuals have the right to believe dangerous and evil things. It’s a dangerous tolerance of course, because we may all end up dead, taken there by a religious person trying to bring on their particular flavour of the end of the world.

    But that is the nature of freedom, a concept bandied round much in yor circles, and practised in ours.

  129. “OK: so let’s just cut through the playing with words which is going on here. End Bringer: you tell me what you’d be satisfied with as proof of the existence of Osiris or Wotan and we can start the conversation from there. ”

    I note you still haven’t answered this one EB. Are you going to?

  130. “But that is the nature of freedom, a concept bandied round much in your circles, and practiced in ours.”

    BRAVO! Very well-said indeed.

    I too am waiting to see if EB can honestly answer any of the questions put before …him? I don’t hold out much hope, but whether or not he does doesn’t really matter, at least to me. It -should- matter to EB, but personal integrity seems to be one of the early things to go when fundamentalism takes over.

    Regardless, the record is now up for any/everyone else to read after the fact, so whether or not EB sees the light, he has been a marvelous example of typical religious dodging of the question and refusal to face facts. That’s all I expected of him in the first place.

    And I note also that Anthony Horvath has vanished completely. I guess he can’t take a few pointed questions either. Maybe he’s hard at work on another bit of religiously-motivated torture-porn like his last offering, eh?

    -Ermine!

  131. I am here, of course.

  132. And, of course, your silence speaks volumes.

  133. As if it would have made a difference to speak at all. As you well know, sir, I am not known for my silence. Also, you well know I have contributed responses in several places on this blog already. If you cannot properly interpret my silence, I have no confidence you can interpret my words. But then, you knew that. :)

  134. That is very true – you are not known for your silence (check out your recent 1,700 word reply on much quieter thread than this one).

    The fact that you are completely mute on this, the busiest, most inflammatory thread your blog has seen in years? I think we can all interpret that just fine, thank you.

  135. Hmmmmmm…. I wonder what the difference might be…. gee, I wonder…

  136. Anthony… what are your thoughts on End Bringer’s posts in this thread? Do you agree with such pronoucnements as “science demands direct observation”, or that the evil of Stalin and others was motivated by their atheism (excepting Hitler, who was Christian)? Do you think he has been dodging our questions, and derailing the discussion by misinterpreting our positions and distorting the accepted meanings of certain terms?

    Would you be up for answering the four questions that End Bringer doesn’t seem to want to answer? Namely:
    1. Do you, personally, believe that George Washington existed?
    2. Do you, personally, believe that dinosaurs existed?
    3. Do you believe that Jesus was born of a virgin, performed miracles, and rose from the dead as the Son of God?
    4. Do you believe that the angel Gabriel dictated the final revelation to Mohammad, and that he flew to heaven on a winged horse?

  137. Sorry, Timaahy. I’m not going to bite.

  138. The difference? This thread has questions that you simply can’t answer – as you have so kindly just shown us – because they expose the frailty and the absurdity of your belief.

  139. You read an awful lot into silence, Stathei. That you think I have just ‘shown’ anything before engaging the issues illustrates precisely why I’m not biting.

    If you all must know, I have in my sole discretion determined that the lot of you are ‘bad faith’ debaters, and so do not warrant the expenditure of my precious time. ‘Good faith’ debaters have fared well thus far on this blog. If anyone wishes a conversation with me, they may take their cue from that.

    For help understanding how this determination has been made, you may consult: How to Spot a Bad Faith Debater.

    Stathei, you will of course remember your own comments there boasting of your bad faithness, which, I’m afraid to see, persists to this day, as evidenced by your psychoanalyzing about my silence.

    Peace out, yo.

  140. Anthony, I’m honestly not trying to trap you… I really am interested in your thoughts on End Bringer’s contributions, and my motives for the four questions is hopefully obvious. Namely, that there is just as much reason to believe in George Washington as there is to believe in dinosaurs, and there is just as much reason to believe that Jesus is the Son of God as there is to believe that Mohammad flew to heaven on a winged horse.

  141. Anthony,

    I’m new to your blog, so had not yet seen the “How to Spot a Bad Faith Debater”. Now that I’ve read it, I can say that End Bringer has absolutely gone to town on items 2 and 5.

  142. Timaay,

    Let us pretend for a moment that you sincerely and genuinely want to know what I think on these questions. You will understand my difficulty in this; I’m a pretty skeptical person. But let us pretend. Do you wish me to believe that you and the rest have treated EB with 100% earnestness, fairly comprehending his points and giving them due weight? You have been angels. He’s the bastard. Insofar as there may have been valid points lodged, I’m just have no desire to step into an argument that looked to me from the start to be laced with contempt and arrogance and an utter lack of good will. And why not? Obviously, my comments will be so regarded, as well.

    Now, Stathei can read into that as he wishes. Ermine can imagine that presenting herself as a… ahem… not very nice person… with no response from me is evading ‘pointed questions’ but fortunately, I’m my own man, and couldn’t care less about how people think of me. And if that is the case about people in general, imagine how it is with people of a certain sort?

  143. Timaay, I was writing during your last comment and did not see it before posting. So, please realize this is not a response to your last comment, but the one before.

    Thank you for taking the time to read that link. As you can tell, one of the things that pisses me off the most is people demanding my attention when they don’t bother to read whatever it is that is the subject of the conversation. That’s a great first step in showing me that you are genuine.

    You’ll forgive me for expecting extraordinary evidence demonstrating that for anyone coming here from PZ Myer’s blog. 😉 Hence, you’ve got a long row to hoe… :)

  144. I can vouch that Timaahy is a more pleasant chap to talk with. It’s why I’m giving his posts the attention of a discussion as opposed to the other….*cough* ‘thoughful and valid’ posts. [biggrin

  145. You vouch, EB?!!? I need extraordinary evidence! Mere human testimony just can’t do… 😉

  146. SJ, I seem to remember finding your “how to spot a bad faith debater” post hilarious because you had been guilty of each point you raised on numerous occasions through the years – and, obviously, continue to be.

    What you actually mean by a “bad faith debater” is “someone who won’t treat my indefensible and completely absurd claims with complete and utter respect”. Face it, SJ, if you insist on terms like that before a debate you only admit how terribly weak your position is.

  147. Well, not very many people put much credence on any of your assessments, for reasons that you yourself helped spell out in that thread. I mean, what kind of person actually admits that he was a bad faith debater all along, and believes he was justified? If an admitted bad faith debater accuses someone of being guilty of hypocrisy… well… you know… you just don’t take the charge very seriously. :)

  148. Timaahy:

    “No, the questions are absolutely relevant to the issue at hand – evidence. Could you please answer them for me? As I said, I think your answers will be enlightening for both of us.”

    I think I already addressed the general point of the questions with your “science tells us dinousars existed” comment. Yes, your questions have to do with evidence, however what constitutes “evidence” varys depending on the thing in question. Take these two statements for example:

    A)Washington crossed the Delaware river.
    B)If I drop a ball it will fall at such and such a rate.

    You can see there’s a qualitative difference between the two. And as such a qualitative difference in how they need to be proven. Unfortunately for the vast majority of atheists, as demonstrated by Ermine and JimmyBoy, if it’s not demonstrated by empiracle evidence (ie science) the it isn’t proven.

    And the reason atheists demand this kind of evidence, is because a method that can only investigate naturalistic processess, can not investigate topics such as the supernatural by it’s very nature. So they’re free to dismiss it out of hand.

    “Reading, yes. Comprehending, no.”

    Well lets see – In ‘3’ you invoked that Washington has no fundamental effect on our behaviour as a reason to say my example between the two requests of ‘produce so-and-so’ was invalid. Correct? Now, you’re admitting it’s effect on our lives has no relevance to the issue. Correct?

    If both are correct then I think I comprehend just fine. And as such can confidently point out that your latter admission pretty much invalidates ‘3’.

    “Oh sweet baby Jebus… I’M THE ONE THAT SAYS DIRECT OBSERVATION ISN’T NECESSARY!”

    You misunderstand. To know whether something is true or false direct observation ISN’T strictly necessary, as we have several methods of investigating truth claims. To know whether something is ‘scientifically proven’ (which is a particular method of investigation) direct observation IS necessary and essential. See the difference?

    Now in that light, how do you think ‘millions of years of unguided evolution is scientifically proven’ fairs, when to be “sceintific” it must be able to be observed and experimented upon in a repeatable fashion?

    “It’s about motivation, numb nuts. Holy books justify all manner of atrocities. Atheism does not.”

    I’ll grant for atrocities no justification is needed under atheism, but I’d dispute atheism isn’t without an inherent agenda all it’s own. I’m actually wondering where atheists like you guys get off actually labeling such things as ‘evil’ to begin with. It’s not like there’s some transcendant objective moral law saying such things are ‘wrong’, is there? Heck, where does atheism even say such acts are prohibited? 😉

    Regardless, it seems to miss the point that if you’re judging the validity of a belief based solely on the actions of it’s followers (and being ignorant on whether such acts are actually endorsed or condemend by the holy book ), then it’s the epitome of hypocriscy to hold everything BUT atheism to that same standard. Seemingly for no other reason than an obvious bias.

  149. “Let us pretend for a moment that you sincerely and genuinely want to know what I think on these questions.”

    There’s no need to pretend. I took you at your word that you weren’t trying to sell more copies of your book by calling on people to buy it (or read it, but let’s not start that up again :-)) before criticising… I would be grateful if you gave me the same courtesy.

    “Do you wish me to believe that you and the rest have treated EB with 100% earnestness, fairly comprehending his points and giving them due weight?”

    I can’t speak for the others, because I don’t know them personally, nor do I know the nature of their previous dealings with End Bringer (which may colour their current attitude towards him or her). But I absolutely started out with the intention to “[treat] EB with 100% earnestness”. That he or she willfully (or perhaps merely continually) misrepresented a number of my positions did indeed result in a little bastardry, on both sides of the fence. Which, you can understand, is apparently what happens when each perceives the other to be arguing in bad faith.

    “I need extraordinary evidence! Mere human testimony just can’t do…”

    I know you’re being facetious, but this statement actually highlights the issue of evidence quite nicely. That End Bringer, for some reason, finds me a more pleasant chap to talk to is far from an extraordinary claim, and is a claim that only he can make anyway, so his personal testimony is more than sufficient. Personal testimony alleging a water-walking, death-defying carpenter with a virgin for a mother is, on the other hand, not sufficient.

  150. End Bringer… is that really you…? Not a trace of snark to be seen! :-)

    Appreciate the considered response… will respond later when I have a bit more time.

  151. “That End Bringer, for some reason, finds me a more pleasant chap to talk to is far from an extraordinary claim, and is a claim that only he can make anyway, so his personal testimony is more than sufficient. Personal testimony alleging a water-walking, death-defying carpenter with a virgin for a mother is, on the other hand, not sufficient.”

    heh heh you don’t quite follow me. :) I am making a joke, based precisely on your meaning. :) A joke isn’t funny if you have to explain it, I realize, but the gist of it is that I find it as miraculous for someone to come from PZ Myer’s blog in the spirit of good faith as you find water-walking, death defying, etc, etc. :)

  152. “Ermine can imagine that presenting herself as a… ahem… not very nice person..”

    Well Anthony, I’d certainly imagine that it was bad-faith debating if someone responded with an ad hominem attack rather than pointing out even a single statement of mine that was actually *incorrect*, yeah. Were “End Bringer’s” arguments NOT straw men in some way? Was he not completely wrong in his assertion that “mutation never adds information to the genome”? Did EB ever give any indication of reading the links I provided, links to a well-known and impeccably-researched site that answers every one of his objections with pages and pages of peer-reviewed studies?

    This is where I see the big difference. I’m not making patently-false, endlessly-debunked claims about scientific theories, or atheism, or even about religion. It’s plainly obvious that EB is, and apparently you support him in that, since you seem far more worried about how -mean- we are to him than about the actual truth or falsehood of anything any of us have said to him in rebuttal.

    Have we descended into faint-hearted tone arguments now, truly? I’m SO sorry, I actually used the word damn, didn’t I? Well shucks, my bad. There goes my whole argument! Sorry folks, guess I lost that one with my uncontrollable atheist anger, didn’t I? Uh-huh. We all know that as soon as one side gets snarky and starts calling the other on their casual dishonesty, or even *gasp!* sinks as low as using *sarcasm*, well, they’ve immediately lost any argument they might be having, right? Whether they’re actually right or not doesn’t enter into it, does it? Course not!

    Go ahead, paint us with the same brush. We’re all bastards! I disagree, but no matter – But are we *right*? Oh sure, maybe we can only demonstrate that we’re right with eeevil, ‘naturalistic’ science – You know, the same way we prove every other thing in our lives that doesn’t involve fooling ourselves – But until someone is able to demonstrate that there is anything -other- than the natural world surrounding us, I tend to give that side of the argument quite a lot of weight. Weird, huh?

    You know, I really can see this from the religious point of view. I was as devoted as anyone for the first half of my life, up to and including going to seminary and answering a call to the ministry. But the ministry put me out into the real world, and I *learned*.

    Along with more scripture study than I’d done before in my life, I opened my mind and began to absorb a whole new world that my religion had kept me carefully and deliberately sheltered from. And -that- world had evidence going for it. REAL evidence. ALL the evidence in fact, other than some old, badly-preserved, badly-translated, often-contradictory stories and a lot of wild claims that no religious person could ever, EVER substantiate. I was finally honest enough with myself to see that, and I’ve found a much larger and more exciting world outside of my god-cocoon. Hallelujah!

    I can already guess that EB at least will try to brush it off as mere hate, but I don’t hate anybody, much. I can think of quite a few *behaviors* that I truly despise, but very few (if any!) people. I do however get quite angry when I see someone trying to pass blatant whoppers off as the truth, no matter how well-meaning they may think they are. No one deserves to live in the darkness of intellect that unquestioning “Faith” fosters.

    I know that speaking out *does* work, as it was watching the tone and content of other religious “debates” in other venues that really started to show ME the depths of dishonesty that people were willing to sink to in protection of their beliefs, and how to watch a conversation to see who was actually answering the points raised, and who was simply trying to obfuscate and dodge the difficult questions.

    Those skills continue to stand me in good stead here.

    -Ermine

  153. Sorry, Ermine. I have nothing to say to you. See previously provided link.

  154. And for EB,

    “Now in that light, how do you think ‘millions of years of unguided evolution is scientifically proven’ fairs,

    Evolution is not unguided. Natural Selection is all the ‘Guide’ required. No one here ever made the quote you keep throwing in our faces, and it is an exceedingly pale strawman indeed. The fact that Evolution is not ‘unguided’ OR ‘random’ is known to anyone who has done even the least study on the matter. Why would we want to even try to prove something that is obviously not a part of the theory?

    We have scientific consensus in every major scientific body that the earth is 4.5 billion years old, that life was very different millions of years back, and that that life changed over time to become the life we see around us today. We know how populations evolve, we can measure selection pressure, allele frequency in a population, mutation rate, we can even measure how long it’s been since particular bits of DNA entered the genome, and we can track the branching of the tree of life by those insertions. Every scrap of that points to evolution happening, and we have no evidence whatsoever of any other processes that might have brought us to where we are today. Unless you can offer something testable, all you’ve got is “Were you there!?”, which is a pretty pitiful argument in the face of the millions of verified, peer-reviewed test results that Science has to offer.

    The fact that Natural Selection is able to give the *appearance* of design without having any intellect involved is -exactly- what the Theory of Evolution was written to explain! The fact that you continue to bring this up is patently dishonest, now that that fact has been explained to you – not that I expect that to stop you, of course. It hasn’t yet, right?

    “I’ll grant for atrocities no justification is needed under atheism,but I’d dispute atheism isn’t without an inherent agenda all it’s own.”

    How about aleprechaunism? Afairyism? Asantaism? They don’t contain any justification for atrocities either, do they? Oh wait, you said *needed*, not contained, as if they (or atheism) in some way gave license for atrocities, didn’t you? Well, I can already make an educated guess that you’ll avoid answering if I were to ask you what that license was, or how afairyism could contain anything other than simple disbelief of fairies, so I won’t bother to ask.

    “but I’d dispute atheism isn’t without an inherent agenda all it’s own.”

    Here we go again.. So okay! What is the inherent agenda of -not- believing in things without reasonable evidence of their existence? Or are you once again trying to conflate more to atheism than it entails? I guess you’ve got every right to just make things up if you want to, after all, I asked difficult questions and pointed out where your claims were completely false – what a JERK I’ve been!

    “I’m actually wondering where atheists like you guys get off actually labeling such things as ‘evil’ to begin with. It’s not like there’s some transcendant objective moral law saying such things are ‘wrong’, is there? Heck, where does atheism even say such acts are prohibited?”

    Where is the “transcendant objective moral law” in flower-arranging that says such acts are prohibited? Or pizza-making? Or fly-fishing? I for one don’t actually get off labeling anything “evil”, the word has gained too many supernatural connotations. I do, however, label things “right” and “wrong” – and it’s my HUMANITY that says such things are prohibited, my empathy for my fellow beings, and the knowledge that we are a social species, and the only reason we’ve gotten as far as we have is by *helping each other*.

    “Regardless, it seems to miss the point that if you’re judging the validity of a belief based solely on the actions of it’s followers”

    And where do we see anyone doing that in this thread? Care to point it out for us? I’ve read more than one Holy Book, and none of them yet have managed to stand up to basic tests of truth and morality. The fact that the followers are all equally flawed just makes it obvious that none of them can possibly be following any sort of universal Truth. If any of them were, their lives would be *different* in some measurable way, statistically at least.

    I’m judging the validity of the belief based solely on the evidence offered for the belief itself, thank you very much! I’m judging *the damage it has caused* by the actions of its followers, not its validity.

    “(and being ignorant on whether such acts are actually endorsed or condemend by the holy book ),”

    You’re saying that the god of the bible didn’t endorse rape, slaughter, genocide, slavery, cursing untold generations for the sins of a parent, and the stoning of women, children, worshipers of other gods, and even people whose sole crime was to work on the wrong day of the week? They’re right there in black and white, with the words of God Himself ordering them, quite clearly and explicitly! Are you saying that God Himself didn’t torture Job, a righteous man, just because Satan made him a little wager? If anyone else had done that to Job, it would have been a terrible crime, but it’s all okay if God does it or orders it, huh? Not in MY book!

    I know all these things, and you appear -not- to, but you think WE’RE the ignorant ones? My, the Dunning-Kreuger Effect is strong in this one..

    “then it’s the epitome of hypocriscy to hold everything BUT atheism to that same standard.”

    As you have been told repeatedly, Atheism is not a moral framework. My morals are entirely separate from my lack of belief in god. Is your Faith really so insignificant to you that you can equate it to my lack of belief in Martians and pink elephants?

    THAT is the sort of manifest dishonesty I mean. But of course, we atheists are the bastards, cause we ask such harrrrd questions!

    Yeah, sure. Whatever.

    Well, don’t let me stop you! I’m sure you’ve got lots more to say, and since I’m constrained by the bounds of honesty and reason, I may find it hard to keep up. Nevertheless, you carry on, and we’ll see if there’s any more good that can come out of this conversation.

    -Ermine!

  155. Don’t worry Anthony, you’ve already said plenty. Saying nothing now will only make it plain that all your complaints about how -awful- PZ was for taking you to task when you still “might say some things when I am done.” were just to duck the issue then, just as you are now.

    Trust me, I’m just as happy to have you not say another word on the issue. What you’ve demonstrated so far is that you don’t argue in good faith, you just write up passive-aggressive torture-fantasies and take bad-faith potshots at your detractors afterward. Well, don’t worry, I wouldn’t want to stop a winning strategy like that!

  156. Hi Anthony – I’m sure I’m one of those bad faith posters you mention. So I’m going to respond to your 5 points individually.

    However, before I do, I am going to note that I think you are wrong on a fundamental: I (and most others I know of in the sceptical world) post in absolute good faith. By which I mean, that when presented by contradictory evidence I change my view. I’ve done it a lot over the past few years, painfully in some cases – and not just on religious topics.

    I do of course refuse to respect bad, unjustified ideas – as you do I’m sure.

    But to dismiss in that cavalier way, anyone who “comes from PZ Myers blog” seems pretty ‘bad faith’ as a starter. We are no more clones over there, than hopefully you are over here. In fact: my experience suggests that the diversity over there is massive.

    But taking your 5:

    1 is overly simplistic. Your ‘psycho-analysis’ point means that no one can ever make the often valid point that an argument is of the type coming from a particular group. Or at least it’s going to be darned hard. But it was understanding how much my thinking was identical to all the other Christians who surrounded me that made me start my deconversion.

    So – I get the point you are making I think: ie that this kind ogf argument can be just laziness. But surely if the “psychoanalysis” comment is evidenced, then suddenly it has the potential for real potency?

    As a point that no doubt you will reject, I was genuinely shocked to discover how much higher the calibre of debate is in sceptical circles than was the case in my previous academic theological ones. Where there are no sacred cows, suddenly the analysis got a darned sight sharper. I realised how many straw men were used routinely in my previous circles (particularly the ridiculous lies told about atheists in fact); how false equivalence was stock in trade; how appeals to ‘respect’ were allowed to mask really bad ideas. Etc. I am trying hard to educate myself out of these appallingly bad habits.

    So when atheists seem to be rude, often they are just disresepcting really bad ideas and really bad arguments. I think that you have some sympathy with this point though – given that you go to some lengths to note that you are not intending your comments personally.

    2: fine as stated. You might agree that on this thread EB has spectacularly failed on this one? I for example, am very keen to find an articulate Christian who will really tell me what evidence they would accept for the existence of another god – and then have the debate about how that evidence stacks up to their own. (I want to do this to validate or challenge the process I went through).

    I’m not saying’ it’s impossible: I just can’t find anyone who will go there. EB absolutely would not. Resounding silence. OK – but that does tell us something perhaps.

    3: fine.

    4: this sounds fine. But the argument is used all the time to evade answering the question. I get accused of sounding arrogant because I just won’t tolerate rubbish responses (see George Washington comments above as an example – and the muppet continues to flog that very dead horse I see…). So calling bad ideas and bad arguments is different from believing I am cleverer than someone else. But I get accused of this argument by folks who don’t like having their bad arguments pointed out.

    And I propose the best response to someone suggesting your argument is a bad one, is to come back and show why it isn’t, not to sart whining about disrespect and tone, which is what so often happens.

    I don’t like having my bad arguments pointed out either by the way. But, I have to try to focus on the content. If it’s good content…well: it’s good content however presented.

    5. OK. Who’s judging this one?

    Cheers,

    Jim

  157. You don’t realize this, but you’re both dancing around one of the fundamental points of all three short stories. Instead of admitting that your conduct was rude and unwarranted, you seek to justify yourself. You believe that just because you’re right, that permits you to be mean. Your meanness is justified because your ‘content’ is good. If someone points out that you’re being unnecessarily mean, you have an answer to that- that person is whining and the best answer to that is more meanness.

    But actually, you’re just mean. The ‘content’ is just a pretext.

    If anyone bothers to read the stories that prompted all this for themselves, they will see that this is the core theme underlying each of them: self-justification.

    The parallel continues. This is my blog. My turf. My house, my rules. Who is the judge here? Me. You can piss and moan about it all you like, or you can take a cool down walk around the block and come knock on my door and make another go at a first impression, and this time leave the chip on your shoulder in the car. Don’t like it? No appeal is possible. It’s my heaven, and if you want the heavenly experience of genuine discourse with me, on my own blog, then you’ve got to do it on my terms.

    We call that ‘real life.’

    You see, I really am a free man. That means, I’m not at your beck and call. I am master of my domain. I have only so many hours of the day to invest. I invest them in people and projects that I believe can possibly make a difference. I do not jump through hoops for mean people.

    You continue to think my ‘silence’ means anything etc etc. I would just like to have you note that your comments remain on the site, unmoderated. I have only deleted one from someone who went way over the line. Stathei thinks I’m afraid. Ermine thinks that there is still value to the conversation because of the people dropping by. If I believed either of these were the case, wouldn’t I simply delete the comments and close down commenting all together?

    There may be another possibility, no?

    Anyway, those are the terms I set. It’s my blog, I am free to do it. It’s my time on the line, so I am free to choose who to invest it with. You can complain about it all you want and defend your meanness to the bloody end but there are some things that cannot be achieved that way. Conversation with me is one of them. The stories elucidate some others.

    Peace out, home slices.

  158. By the way, Jimmy, it is nowhere written that someone handed that list is guilty of all that is listed there. There is no reason to respond point by point. Only the point that applies to you. You are wrong to assume that you need to defend yourself against each item as though it is a charge against you.

    For the purposes of this blog, in the context of this thread, defending your self at all is unlikely to achieve your desired end, anyway. :)

  159. “Stathei thinks I’m afraid.”

    You’re not?

  160. Ermine:

    “Evolution is not unguided.”

    “The fact that Natural Selection is able to give the *appearance* of design without having any intellect involved is -exactly- what the Theory of Evolution was written to explain!”

    Heh. So evolution is supposedly ‘guided’, but it’s completely without intellectual guide. Making it *gasp* UNGUIDED!

    Sorry Ermine, the contradiction is so blatant I couldn’t resist. 😉

  161. EB, you really can’t be that stupid. Can you?

  162. That since ‘guiding’ inherently requires an intelligent agency, the explicit admission of something not containing an intellectual cause makes such a case ‘unguided’ by definition?

    Since I’m apparently talking with people that take a statement ‘a scarf is red’, and object with ‘no it’s blue, it’s purely crimson shade proves it’, I can only roll my eyes and smirk at being accused of being ‘stupid’.

  163. Yes, you can.

  164. Be that stupid, I mean.

  165. Wow: that was quite a post there Anthony. Not sure how much was aimed at me but…?

    So shorter version of Anthony: I’ll only debate with you if you’re a push over or you agree with me. I won’t tolerate robust disagreement.

    OK chap. No worries. It was EB I was chasing not you. I at no point really thought I was engaging with you (hope that’s OK on your blog?).

    But I thought you might be interested in some independent comments on your list (you went to some effort to put it together and then refererred to it here) – but again, that’s clearly not the case: so no worries. If you think I hit any of the 5 (and can be bothered) – please – go ahead and point it out (with the reference and context perhaps).

    I’m struggling to see where I was “mean”.

    And…

    “Instead of admitting that your conduct was rude and unwarranted”

    Unwarranted? Rude? Really? I thought I was pretty mild!

    If I say I’m sorry I offended, you could rightly point out that is a notpology. So then I’d need to find out what I should be sorry for in content terms. Do you want to walk me through it?

    And – small point: but I interpret nothing from your silence. You’d not got involved in the discussion – so fine. EB – differnt story. Lots of picking, chosing, goal post moving and straw men which it seems is fair to point out.

    Actually: I’m really now quite confused. I am uncertain of who you want posting here? Honest critics or just people who fit in your ‘nice’ box (ie agree with you or don’t call your religion out with evidence?).

  166. Anyone can post, as should be perfectly evident. Whether or not I respond or react to them myself is a different story. I didn’t notice you interpreting anything from my silence, but Stathei did and is and you may have noticed Ermine doing the same thing in her little ‘pointed questions’ bit.

    I welcome genuine conversation, when I can get it. Stathei fooled me for years, thinking he actually was listening to me and carefully weighing what I was saying. It is a mistake I won’t make again (with him or others). :) Evidence. Must have evidence.

    If you think insults, sniping, etc, etc, passes as ‘honest criticism’ then I’m afraid we are of different minds. I am not here trying to call you out personally on anything specifically. I am just pointing at the general thinking out of the PZ crowd as to what passes as ‘criticism.’ Stathei no doubt thinks “you are stupid” is ‘honest criticism.’ I beg to differ, and invest my time accordingly.

  167. “Be that stupid, I mean.”

    I think the bell has rung Stathei. So recess is now over and it’s time for you, JimmyBoy, and Ermine to go back to class and enjoy your milk and nap-time after learning some English.

  168. “Stathei fooled me for years, thinking he actually was listening to me and carefully weighing what I was saying.”

    I was listening and carefully weighing what you were saying. When I found that what you were saying was weightless I stopped weighing. Looks like it’s time to stop listening too, since you have surrendered so unreservedly when confronted by people smarter, more knowledgeable and more patient than myself. I am almost disappointed at how weak you turned out to be in the end.

    “Stathei no doubt thinks “you are stupid” is ‘honest criticism.’”

    In EB’s case, I am afraid it’s not only honest, it’s very restrained.

  169. I rest my case.

  170. Anthony,

    “Instead of admitting that your conduct was rude and unwarranted, you seek to justify yourself.”

    That’s not that unreasonable, is it? Why would someone not seek to justify themselves if they thought their behaviour was warranted?

    Jesus himself did it in Matthew 21:12-17. He overturns the moneychangers’ tables, and seeks to justify his actions by explaining that “My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves”.

    Now, I haven’t read your stories in full yet, but it certainly appears that the angel in your story does it, too. Dawkins says “You mean to throw me into a dark cell, then”, and the angel justifies it by explaining that he has “chosen to be separated from all things God”.

    If we think we’re in the right, of course we will seek to justify ourselves.

    Just on this whole rudeness thing… how do you think a Christian blogger should react to perceived rudeness in light of Matthew 5:39? I am not suggesting that you yourself aren’t following this edict, just interested in what you think the appropriate response is for a Christian blogger.

  171. In the short story, Dawkins is clearly, self-evidently wrong. You haven’t read it, but PZ quotes this:

    A great, booming question had gone out: “You are all guilty; yet you have your choice of advocate: your self, or the One.” The One seemed immediate to him as well, distinct from the Presence but not. He could see the nail holes from where he stood. Indeed, he could have reached out and put his fingers in those holes if he had wanted. In fact, it was as if he was being invited to do so. He declined. He wasn’t going along with this kangaroo court.

    He can have all the validation that he wants right at that moment. During his earthly life, he was sincere, but he was sincerely wrong. He thought the evidence wasn’t sufficient, he thought wrong. Faced with the maker of the universe- literally face to face- he decides to be his own advocate.

    I thought the comments on PZ’s blog were interesting on this point. Many said that they would have done exactly as Dawkins did and a few said that of course they would have figured it was time to throw in the towel. One guy, in the very same post, said he would have aligned himself with the evidence and also did what Dawkins did. A little cognitive dissonance, for you. :)

    Let’s just keep the story within its context. It isn’t just someone defending themselves because they think they’re in the right. In the story, the person defending himself has been shown emphatically that they were in the wrong, and they still seek to justify themselves.

    For the purposes of this blog, obviously, the situation is a little different. Well, for the purpose of what I choose to respond to, it is different. You can think you are justified all you want, but that doesn’t mean I have to go along with it. Better point: will your justifying achieve your desired end? Will you by your justifying change my opinion in the slightest? Probably not. Do you realize that? Yea, you do. So why do you then justify yourself? Is it for me, or is it for you?.

    It’s just like Stathei’s calling people idiots. It adds to nothing. It isn’t like EB is going to say, “Oh, he’s right. I’m an idiot.” It isn’t like I’m going to say, “Oh, right. Because Stathei declares these people are smarter than me, it is probably the case. Shucks, I guess I should just take their view because they are smarter.” No one realistically expects anything like this to happen, not even Stathei. So why waste the time and energy to post it? Even if true, what’s the point?

    And what’s the point in responding to it? A huge portion of the comments on PZ’s blog are in this category. There was a fair bit here, too.

    Re: Matthew 5:39, let’s keep it in context. What is the whole point of the sermon on the mount? It’s actually a good illustration of one of the main points of my stories. The Jews were constantly justifying themselves by their adherence to the law. Jesus surprises them all by saying, “You have heard it said…” and then countering with something impossible to carry out. Do you say you did not commit adultery? Jesus says, “But I tell you even looking lustfully at another woman is committing adultery.” He ups the ante each time.

    He prefaces this all with: “For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” The Pharisees and teachers of the law, of course, were the ‘holy’ people. (You may think of it as the Catholic pope in the Mother Teresa story. Even the POPE wasn’t holy enough in that story!) As Jesus heaped it on, it became evident that no one was holy enough on Jesus’ view. What then? How then can someone enter the kingdom of heaven? If one can’t possibly be saved because on God’s view we can’t measure up, how does one be saved?

    Evidently, attempting to justify yourself before God isn’t going to do it.

    This is the context of Matthew 5:39. Eye for an eye was the old testament formula for punishment. The belief was that any retaliation was justified so long as it was proportional to what had happened to them. Jesus is indicating to his listeners exactly the opposite. In fact, trying to justify yourself just because the other guy started it and at any rate you did just as much may very well be the wrong approach. (I deal with this all the time with my kids).

    Does this mean that justice is no longer important? No. Does it mean that it ought not be proportional? No. It means, minimally, that one doesn’t have an open excuse to deal out vengeance. These people didn’t want justice, they wanted revenge.

    I have never been opposed to ‘telling it like it is.’ However, it is my view that there are many times in a blogging format where it achieves nothing, just like Stathei calling EB an idiot. Maybe it’s true, but what does it achieve. Insofar as I have used some harsh words to this point, it is only because I hoped that it might change the tide in the conversation. Time will tell if that is the case, but it isn’t the sort of thing I’m going to go endlessly about- it achieves nothing. And I don’t feel like I have to prove myself to anyone. That is to say, I’m not going to. :)

    If you didn’t catch my distinction, the Christian blogger won’t seek revenge. If he ‘strikes’ back, it ought to be really in the interest of justice and the furtherance of charity. That is why I have only banned one person and have otherwise abstained from responding to some points. Like my momma said, if you can’t say something nice, don’t say it at all. I might add: that goes for even when what you want to say is true. :)

  172. “I welcome genuine conversation, when I can get it. Stathei fooled me for years, thinking he actually was listening to me and carefully weighing what I was saying. It is a mistake I won’t make again (with him or others). Evidence. Must have evidence.”

    The irony, oh the river of irony! I am drowning!

    “If you think insults, sniping, etc, etc, passes as ‘honest criticism’ then I’m afraid we are of different minds. I am not here trying to call you out personally on anything specifically. I am just pointing at the general thinking out of the PZ crowd as to what passes as ‘criticism.’ Stathei no doubt thinks “you are stupid” is ‘honest criticism.’ I beg to differ, and invest my time accordingly.”

    But please: show me where I indulged in these? I think evidence based discussion constitutes honest criticism.

    In response I have had mountains of bluster and accusations of meaness and the like. Where is the discussion of any substance? Where is the evidence or the discussion of the evidence I proposed, in the absence of any from EB or now you?

    Your passive aggressive responses (with their not really very funny smileys) and accusations (bad faith, insults, sniping, etc etc) just seem to hide an absolute determination not to indulge in evidence based discussion. So – sure – your blog, sir, and enjoy it. But where is the substance? Really – where is it?

  173. End Bringer said,
    “I think the bell has rung Stathei. So recess is now over and it’s time for you, JimmyBoy, and Ermine to go back to class and enjoy your milk and nap-time after learning some English.”

    Hey EB: I note you’ve still not answered – what evidence would you accept for the existence of any god you currently reject? Why aren’t you answering? Why the hiding behind childishness? (Am I allowed to point out that your post was childish – or is that mean?)

  174. There we go again. I’m even responsible for the smileys. That doesn’t seem nitpickey to you?

    Sorry, Jim. I’m not going to bite. For one thing, if I do it for you, I’ll have to do it for everyone.

    I make no apology for being unwilling to sift out ‘substance’ from vitriol. If you have a problem with that, it’s just that: your problem. Substance, if it is substantial, is not enhanced by vitriol. That is opinion, anyway.

    BTW, you find it ironical that I’m interested in evidence only because you think that you know me. You don’t. As an evidence driven person- allegedly- you may wish to keep that in mind.

  175. I should mention that I appreciate that you guys are still here at all. You didn’t insult and run. That gives me hope for future conversations.

  176. “I should mention that I appreciate that you guys are still here at all. You didn’t insult and run. That gives me hope for future conversations”

    While I applaud the magnanimity of this statement, SJ, they are trying to have a conversation with you right now. There isn’t much hope for conversations in the future if you won’t have one in the present.

  177. lol, your ideas on what qualifies as ‘conversation’ are different than mine. As we’ve already established, there are several posts on this blog recently where I’ve interacted with people and had conversations. Like it or not, it is an irrefutable fact that where I believe a conversation is actually happening, I engage in it. That you think I should construe your contributions as ‘conversation’ and don’t is not my problem. It’s yours.

  178. Anthony,

    I had a feeling that you might take that tack. In the story, yes, Dawkins turned out to be wrong. But does that mean that his disbelief was unjustified? Absolutely not.

    Two people are asked if they would like to take out life insurance – one does, the other does not. The next day, the person without the policy is killed after being struck by lightning. Was he wrong not to take out the policy? I think you can only answer “yes” in the most superficial and cynical way – he was “wrong” in that, in hindsight, he would have been better off if he had taken out the policy. But if we are going to be fair, we should not judge him by an outcome that he could not have possibly foreseen, but by his assessment of the evidence that was available to him at the time he made his decision.

    “During his earthly life, he was sincere, but he was sincerely wrong”. Isn’t it the sincerity that is important, not the conclusion reached by that sincerity? Why would god punish Dawkins if he had made sincere attempts to evaluate all the available evidence, but found it wanting? Dawkins can’t force himself to believe in god, so if he sincerely believes the evidence isn’t sufficient, what is he to do? Just pretend to believe? Wouldn’t that be worse?

    “He thought the evidence wasn’t sufficient, he thought wrong”. Again, for reasons explained above, I really don’t think you can say this.

    As you know, I haven’t read the stories yet, and PZ hasn’t quoted any of the part where Dawkins is before the actual judgement… but I hope that you at least did Dawkins the courtesy of being true to his character. From what I know of Dawkins, I feel confident that, when faced with such a judgment, he would make full use of the opportunity presented to him, and defend his unbelief with reference to the evidence that god provided (or rather, didn’t provide). And that is why it is unfair to make statements such as this:

    “In the story, the person defending himself has been shown emphatically that they were in the wrong, and they still seek to justify themselves.”

    I don’t think this is unreasonable at all. God is saying, “Haha, Dawkins, I exist… So there!”, and all Dawkins is saying is “Well, yes, but how was I meant to know? You didn’t give us much to go on”. If I hire a babysitter, and leave all of my instructions written in Russian, knowing the babysitter doesn’t speak Russian, is it fair of me to punish the babysitter if the instructions aren’t followed? Wouldn’t the babysitter be justified in trying to defend herself against the accusation of deliberately not following my instructions?

    So, yes, in the story Dawkins turned out to be wrong, in a technical, superficial, and cynical sense. But there is absolutely nothing wrong with Dawkins justifying the reasons for his unbelief.

    Your argument would, of course, carry more weight if Dawkins had examined the evidence, decided Christianity was true, but then rejected it; or if his evaluation of the evidence was not sincere. But from what you’ve said, that isn’t what happened in the story.

    Incidentally, if I was writing a story called “Anthony Horvath goes to Heaven”, where you go to heaven and discover that it is Allah, and not Yahweh, presiding over the judgement, how would you like to be portrayed?

    Like this: “Oh yes Allah, you are absolutely right, I had more than enough reason to believe in the Koran, but you were right all along and I deserve to go to hell.”

    Or like this: “Yes, you are right. But you didn’t give me enough evidence.”

    Personally, I would go with this: “Come on mate, you’ve only got yourself to blame. All you gave us was a partially plagiarised, internally inconsistent, easily misconstrued, misogynistic, badly written book, and you had it delivered via an illiterate paedophile to boot.”

    As for the justifications on this blog… Your statement that “Instead of admitting that your conduct was rude and unwarranted, you seek to justify yourself” seems to imply that we shouldn’t try and justify ourselves (let me know if that is not the case). All I was saying is that it is a perfectly reasonable thing to do. “I don’t like it when you do X” is likely to elicit a response of “I do X because…”, or “X is not unreasonable because…”. Irrespective of the probability of influencing the person’s feelings on X, it is still a reasonable response.

    Re: Matthew 5:39… Again, I had a feeling you would take that tack. Scripture is of course always open to different interpretations (one of the main problems with any scripture), but I fail to see how the “turn the other cheek” message is simply a call to not exact revenge, if only because it rather lessens the revolutionary nature of Jesus’ sermon. It seems, to me at least, to be a call to do nothing to stop your own persecution. A call that is apparently echoed in Luke 6:22-23, Luke 6:27-30, and, most importantly, in the fate of Jesus himself.

  179. “Why would god punish Dawkins if he had made sincere attempts to evaluate all the available evidence, but found it wanting?”

    You are assuming he has. Just as the Catholic priest/pope in the Mother T book had gone into the situation justifying his moral purity according to his ‘sincere recollection,’ in point of fact, his recollection was wrong. He candy coated it. Lucky for him, his moral purity wasn’t the basis for his salvation… only he was having a bit of trouble remembering that at the time. Likewise, in the Dawkins story, if push comes to shove I bet you could get him even today to admit that he hasn’t REALLY made 100% sincere attempts to evaluate ALL the evidence. Human frailty in itself makes such a thing impossible. In the story, Dawkins makes that the hill he wants to die on, and he dies on it. Another way is offered, and he rejects it.

    I have followed Richard Dawkins relatively well over the years. I don’t share your confidence at all in his sincerity.

    As for an “Anthony Horvath goes to Heaven” story where Allah turns out to be right, obviously I have no objections. These stories assume the premise of the stories- obviously. PZ quite stupidly complains that I begin my story assuming that I’m right, and proceeds to review it assuming that he’s right. One must evaluate an argument on its own terms, not on assumptions imported. Like this: a+b=10. Now, if ‘a’ equals 3, what is ‘b’? 7, obviously, but not if you are PZ Myers. He evaluated this equation for its coherency based on the assumption that ‘a’ equals 5 and there is an additional variable, ‘c.’ A muslim, of course, has his own notion on the equation.

    So, the trick is to find the variables of the ‘equation’ that everyone agrees on the values of and go from there. Based on these, I believe Dawkins miscalculates… and not sincerely. You, of course, may be different.

    “All I was saying is that it is a perfectly reasonable thing to do”

    It is a perfectly natural thing to do. But not necessarily reasonable.

    Re: Matt 5:39, I”m not talking about a different interpretation, I’m talking about putting it into context. “An eye for an eye” invokes specific notions of Jewish justice that has to be taken into account. On your view, every Christian is called to become a doormat. How then do you reconcile that with something like Luke 3:14? John the Baptist does not call on the soldiers to renounce their vocation, right? Or, does Jesus call on the centurions to renounce their vocation? In Luke 3:14, there were soldiers who had figured that because of who they were they were justified in extorting money and accusing people falsely, even if that justification was merely that they could get away with it. The rebuke of this behavior doesn’t mean that godly people can’t be soldiers… a little hard to be a soldier, though, if you have to turn the other cheek, no? 😉

    In the same way, I am saying that you are straining the context of Matt 5. It is revolutionary, but why was it revolutionary? Because the Jewish people and the pharisees in particular thought that by obeying the law they would be able to claim heaven ‘by rights.’ Ah, no. Unfortunately, the law is more than what our bodies do. We transgress as well in our hearts, souls, attitudes, and minds. Woe to any of us if we think that even if we did turn the other cheek we have won salvation!

  180. Anthony: this really is bad faith now. You continue to make unsubstantiated (“vitriol”) accusations. Of course you can do so (who said you couldn’t? Yet another straw man. All that straw. Are you a farmer?).

    But for someone who bothered to write a whole piece on how to spot a bad faith debater, the disonance seems strange.

    “If you have a problem with that, it’s just that: your problem. ”

    More passive aggression, and no substance. So it’s only a problem in so far as I can’t work out where to go with someone who has a whole rhetoric about bad faith debaters but then won’t engage in a substantive debate, but rather stands on the sidelines firing unsubstantiated accusations!

    So I am still really lost. You say you won’t bite. Does that mean: you won’t debate with me? If that’s it – fine! I’ll go and we’re done here. EB won’t either in any meaningful way so I’m still looking for an intellectually honest Christian who will get into that debate with me on the nature of evidence.

    I thought that a guy who wrote a blog like this might be the one. But it’s no drama if you don’t have any inclination.

    I’ll keep looking.

    Cheers,

    Jim

  181. And Anthony: would it not show good faith – ie integrity – if you called out EB for breaking some of your 5?

    Otherwise it looks as though you just reserve your accusations of bad behaviour for those who disagree with you while tolerating both poor content and silly posts from those in your philosophical camp.

    Right?

  182. Sorry, Jimmy. I’m merely explaining to you all why I haven’t been participating in the ‘discussion.’ Does this disappoint you? Try this..

    I note, Jimmy, that you included yourself in my brushstroke. I didn’t single you out. Should I ‘call out EB’? Why, Jimmy, I didn’t call out YOU. As I said, I’m not going to sit here and dissect everyone’s posts showing how they served to confirm in my mind that there was bad faith going around. I’m not going to do it for Christians OR nonChristians. It just isn’t a productive use of my time and I don’t feel like I need to justify myself to anyone.

    But, going forward, you now know what kinds of conversations I think actually ARE productive. It’s your call if you want to engage in them. :)

    Long day at the hospital today. Don’t expect a reply any time soon. Peace.

  183. Anthony: you are kidding yourself now. You did involve yourself. You bothered to come in and make specific and personal accusations against me while really ignoring the opportunity to do the same to EB. And you have absolutely refused to substantiate the accusations.

    Ok – fair enough. That’s up to you. You’ve had plenty of opportunities to set the record straight and are absolutely refusing to do so. No drama. I’m not upset about that – just clear now that this is the case.

    So does it disappoint me? What weird kind of a diversionary question is that? Who cares? But as you ask, it bothers me to the extent that it seems dishonest and I value what I think of as integrity. But whatever. You don’t care what I think. And your responses leave me pretty cold about what you think! We have that (and perhaps just that) in common.

    And why the passive aggressive thing? If you want to debate, then great debate. If you just want to snipe from the sidelines – go for it – fill your boots! It is demonstrably deeply hypocritical to have your bad faith debater’s rhetoric on the one hand and then “debate” the way you do. But hey! It’s just an internet (non)debate.

    “Should I ‘call out EB’? Why, Jimmy, I didn’t call out YOU”

    But you did. Go back and read what you wrote. When I self identified (hoping to have a discussion about your 5 points – because, as I noted carefully, I felt they warranted comment and perhaps could be improved) you carried on that conversation and targetted comments at me directly: ie you engaged at some level. And then you accused me of posting insults and sniping (with no evidence or context). I’m just lost as to how to engage with you in a real discussion given your approach.

    So you did engage in the debate – kind of. Obviously its all about tone with you and totally anti-substance. I’ve never seen anyone quite such a master of this tactic in fact and I have met a lot of Christians.

    “you now know what kinds of conversations I think actually ARE productive”

    How on earth would I know that? You won’t answer a straight question! Is the answer: conversations where folks agree with you? Or don’t pick holes in religion? Or debates with no susbtance and lots of passive aggressive stuff going on to cover the lack of substance? Really – I do not know!

    “BTW, you find it ironical that I’m interested in evidence only because you think that you know me. You don’t. As an evidence driven person- allegedly- you may wish to keep that in mind.”

    That is just plain wrong Anthony. You may wish to keep that in mind. I know you aren’t wrong on your blog and all that…but actually: you really are just plain wrong here.

    So I really do not know you – nor suggested I did in any way. It would be ludicrous to do so. No: I found the post ironic given your effective refusal to engage in substantive debate around actual evidence or the nature of it.

    Anyway….pleasant though this is…

  184. Hope the hospital went Ok by the way…

  185. Wow!

    Is that -really- the the best you can do? One big ad-hominem argument? “But they were meeeaaan!” (And of course, by “mean”, you seem to me to mean “asks direct questions on concrete facts, doesn’t let others get away with goalpost-moving and bald-faced lying, and maybe even uses the word “damn””. Horrors!) I certainly haven’t done anything that you yourself haven’t done in this very thread, and I think you’re quite the hypocrite for your responses so far.

    I note AGAIN that you have failed to point out a single statement of mine that was factually incorrect, nor have you or EB provided any sort of rebuttal besides ad-hominem (or the ever-popular “Nuh-uh!”) when errors are pointed out. Your only response has been to try and paint me (and others) as awful, mean, bad-faith debaters, all the while dodging real conversation for all you’re worth. I understand that you still won’t respond, and that’s fine. I’m just making note of it while I’ve got a few things to say.

    That’s a lovely list your link points to, but where are the bits about the people who repeat arguments that have been categorically debunked, tell obvious falsehoods, totally ignore contradicting evidence, or make false claims about the motives of their opponent? Are those not also arguing in bad faith? Of course, most of those are things that require evidence to demonstrate, rather than subjective things like your abused feelings which can just be asserted at the slightest excuse. Whoever can be most offended first wins! Yayyyyy!

    You’ve got a whole paragraph about people who “Fail to leave [you] a graceful way out”, but nothing about people who fail to admit their error when it is pointed out to them. I find the second *far* more rude than the first. You wouldn’t need a graceful way out if you weren’t WRONG in the first place, and being able to admit when you’re wrong is part of being an adult. I’d think actual dishonesty would be far more rude than “fail[ing] to leave a graceful way out”, but maybe that’s just bad faith on my part, right?

    It looks to me as if your list is all about style and feelings and cares nothing for the actual content or validity of the arguments in question. It gives you a lovely out, where if you are faced with someone who has the answers and won’t back down, you can just accuse them of rudeness or “not answering in good faith” and refuse to respond at all. How convenient for you! You do realize that that’s nothing but an ad-hominem argument, don’t you? You’re attacking the character and motives of your opponent while ignoring the substance of the argument itself. Bravo!

    See, in Real Life, people get criticism when their words and ideas don’t stack up, and if they continue to insist that they’re right when provided with the evidence that they’re wrong, they have to take the consequences of their actions, which includes having people look at them like they’re a lunatic, or tell them that they’re wrong in no uncertain terms.

    And what did you do, when people criticized your stories? You attempted to justify yourself, just as anyone would do, didn’t you? So I don’t exactly see your problem with that unless you can point out where anyone tries to justify themselves *falsely* in some way. But you aren’t going to waste your time by actually pointing out specifics, are you? Someone might be able to point out where you were incorrect, hypocritical, or just plain didn’t make sense, and there’s been quite enough of that already, hasn’t there? 😉

    See, in Real Life, people get criticism when their words and ideas don’t stack up, and if they continue to insist that they’re right when provided with the evidence that they’re wrong, they have to take the consequences of their actions, which includes having people look at them like they’re a lunatic, or tell them in no uncertain terms that they’re wrong.

    That you seem to consider honesty and forthrightness “rude and unwarranted”, and that you claim to care more about (your version of) politeness than about the truth is all-too typical for religious apologists. It’s very hard to believe the good faith of your claim when you write masturbatory torture-porn about still-living people though, I have to say. It’s sure as hell not very polite!

    But okay. I get it. You cannot or will not respond except to attack our character. So be it! It’s about what I expected in the first place. I’ve said about all I came to say anyway, so there’s nothing left now but more of the same, posting link after link to rebut EB’s -pitiful- claims while you and EB refuse to respond to them. You’ve made it nice and clear how things go on your blog. I’ll keep it in mind.

    Meh.

    -Ermine!

    (And I’ll second that hope that your trip to the hospital went well. I’ve been putting off spending a day there myself, this week. Never much fun, even for routine matters.)

  186. “You are assuming he has.”

    Well, no, I am assuming nothing more than what you have told me, which was that “During his earthly life, he was sincere, but he was sincerely wrong”.

    “I bet you could get him even today to admit that he hasn’t REALLY made 100% sincere attempts to evaluate ALL the evidence. Human frailty in itself makes such a thing impossible.”

    I think there are two misconceptions in this statement. Firstly, it’s not human frailty, but the sheer number of religions on offer makes it impossible to evaluate all the evidence. Secondly, the burden of proof lies with the person making the claim. The onus isn’t on Dawkins, or anyone else for that matter, to run around verifying every claim made by every religion – if you’re the one making the claim, the onus is on you.

    “I don’t share your confidence at all in his sincerity.”

    You are of course entitled to your opinion (I personally disagree with it), but I think that as long as he sincerely believes he has evaluated all the evidence with an open mind, neither you nor god can blame him for not accepting Christianity. And note that, irrespective of your view of PZ’s criticisms, I am absolutely trying to evaluate your story on its own terms. In the context of the story, it is simply not fair of god to condemn Dawkins to hell for not being able to believe. Wasn’t it god who made him that way in the first place?

    Re: Matthew 5:39… Again we see the problem with scripture. We are both simultaneously right, and both simultaneously wrong, because each position can be justified, and backed up with both context and other scriptural references. To me, the text is clear… “If you are struck, provide another opportunity to be struck. Rejoice in the persecution you are suffering for my sake, for you will be richly rewarded”. You obviously disagree, but there is no way to prove conclusively whose interpretation is right. If I was still Catholic I’d be arguing that you shouldn’t be interpreting the bible at all, since that’s what the Holy Mother Church is for. A position the Church justifies with reference to Holy Scripture…

    “On your view, every Christian is called to become a doormat”. Yes, that is exactly what I think Jesus was calling Christians to be… one of the many reasons I find his teachings absurd. Note that Jesus himself was the ultimate doormat, and it is the source of your alleged salvation!

  187. “….but I think that as long as he sincerely believes he has evaluated all the evidence with an open mind, neither you nor god can blame him for not accepting Christianity.”

    heh. Problem with your assesment being that everyone thinks they are open-minded and fairly evaluates the evidence. The ‘judge’ in this case actually knows every single thought and motive passing through every single individual. And no amount of rationalization takes away from the fact that such people are wrong and have done wrong (regardless of their reasoning). And as such require punishment.

    “Wasn’t it god who made him that way in the first place?”

    Lol. In the context of the story, Dawkins makes his own choices. It’s that pesky fact about free will that it inherently comes with a thing called ‘personal responsibility’.

    So no, it’s not God condemning anyone for “not being able to believe”. It’s God giving people exactly what they chose and wanted. In “totality”.

  188. 1. “Problem with your assesment being that everyone thinks they are open-minded and fairly evaluates the evidence.”
    2. “The ‘judge’ in this case actually knows every single thought and motive passing through every single individual.”

    Exactly! Under point 1, Dawkins honestly believes that he has assessed the evidence sincerely and without bias. Whether he really was sincere, and whether his assessment of the evidence was ultimately correct, is, I think, beside the point (refer to my insurance example above). And under point 2, god knows Dawkins believes he sincerely evaluated the evidence (i.e. he knows Dawkins isn’t lying). So we essentially have the following situation:

    Dawkins: “Look god, I tried, I really, really tried. But I just couldn’t believe.”
    God: “I know you did Richard. But you’re still gonna burn.”

    What kind of justice is this?

    Just think about this for a second. You are saying that even if someone tries as hard as they can, to the absolute limits of their ability, to believe in god and Jesus, they are still damned. What’s the alternative? Honestly, what are we supposed to do? Force ourselves to believe something that we find ridiculous? Pretend to believe?

    The Christian notion of free will is simply unfair. Yes, Dawkins makes his own choices, but what is driving those choices? We know that our behaviour is heavily influenced by our genetics and the environment we grew up in. Not everyone has the same propensity to believe religious claims, so the deck is stacked from the beginning… and who’s the dealer? Why, it’s the same person who sits in judgement! Seriously, how unfair can you get?

  189. “So no, it’s not God condemning anyone for “not being able to believe”. It’s God giving people exactly what they chose and wanted. In “totality”.”

    Can’t you see that a statement like screams and demands evidence for the existence of god? Without it there is just nothing there! How do yuo know what this god wants/thinks/is doing? Expecially given that line up 5 theists and they will ALL disagree!

    The arrogance of being prepared to state what some invisible and silent apparently supreme being thinks,
    intends, wants etc – is ridiculous. Oh – I see: it says it in the Bible? So that’s all clear then – and there is no disagreement about what that might mean of course. Oh – he talks to you in your head? Right…

    Do you never worry that, should your god somehow turn out to exist, he/she is going to be spectacularly angry about all this misrepresnetation? Or, if it’s done with “good intentions” does that make it OK?

  190. “Exactly! Under point 1, Dawkins honestly believes that he has assessed the evidence sincerely and without bias. Whether he really was sincere, and whether his assessment of the evidence was ultimately correct, is, I think, beside the point (refer to my insurance example above).”

    I think you’ve got that backwards. That he honestly believes he assessed the evidence sincerely and without bias is what’s beside the point. He was wrong. In both the evidence, and obviously from the snide remarks throughout the story, wrong about his own sincerity and lack of bias:

    “I would never want to live forever in service to a jealous monster, the bigoted conception of illiterate goat herders and oppressive patriarchs. That would be hell to me. Life without such a being present at all would be heaven. See?”

    “Dawkins: “Look god, I tried, I really, really tried. But I just couldn’t believe.”
    God: “I know you did Richard. But you’re still gonna burn.”

    What kind of justice is this?”

    And again the flaw in this is that it’s purely YOUR assumption that he “really, really, tried”.

    Compared with this:

    “Dawkins: “Look god, I tried, I really, really tried. But I just couldn’t believe.”
    God: “No, you did not. You rationalized and made excuses. You let yourself be swayed by foolishness and spat on wisdom. You gave your self to your pride and arrogance, believing a lie and turnning your back on Truth. Thus you’ll recieve the rejection you wanted.”

    And as God is the one who knows in ACTUALITY, then the His assessment will be the only correct one. But again, I don’t think your appeal to ‘believing in their own sincerety’ is relevant or even true. Like I’ve used with the Sphinx example throughout this thread – if you seriously believe purposeless unguided natural forces aren’t responsible for creating something like the Sphinx, then turn around and think it’s responsible for something more complex and interdependent like the human body – then you’re seriously fooling yourself. Which casts some doubt on your ‘100% sincere’ assesment.

    “Just think about this for a second. You are saying that even if someone tries as hard as they can, to the absolute limits of their ability, to believe in god and Jesus, they are still damned.”

    No, I’m saying that being sinners who didn’t accept redemtion is what gets them sent to hell. For your point about “trying” I’m saying it’s rather irrelevant, and the fact that they don’t believe shows in itself that they don’t really ‘try as hard as they can’ regardless if they believe differently. If they did, they would.

    “What’s the alternative? Honestly, what are we supposed to do? Force ourselves to believe something that we find ridiculous? Pretend to believe?”

    How about actually believing? Letting go of some of that atheistic presumption about ‘apparent design isn’t evidence for design’ and ‘extraordinary claims need extraordinary evidence’ which keeps you from making the correct conclusion?

    Seriously, because as my conversation with you shows when I gave you just 3 pieces of evidence for the minnimum existence of God, a lot of what’s keeping you from believing is your own self actively resisting the conclusion. Which again casts doubt on the amount of sincerety given by atheists, let alone Dawkins who seems to have an active contempt.

    “The Christian notion of free will is simply unfair. Yes, Dawkins makes his own choices, but what is driving those choices? We know that our behaviour is heavily influenced by our genetics and the environment we grew up in. Not everyone has the same propensity to believe religious claims, so the deck is stacked from the beginning… and who’s the dealer? Why, it’s the same person who sits in judgement! Seriously, how unfair can you get?”

    I always have to shake my head and laugh at someone arguing with free will. If you turly believe any of that, then what’s the point in you even arguing? Not like we have free will in order for us to be able to change our minds, right? 😉

    Frankly, you’re just making excuses. Yeah, life throws things at one person that another person doesn’t have to deal with, and vice-versa. People who grow up in a heavier religious environment have a tendancy to believe more easily, than a person who grows up where such notions are dismissed. The snake whispered things to Eve. As JimmyBoy himself proves, influences is all such things amount to. Life’s full of influence. Ultimately it’s still on us to choose in how to handle those influences, and we still have a personal responsibility for those choices.

  191. Not a moment of self doubt there EB when you write “the snake whispered things to Eve”?

    Nothing stirring there for you at all?

  192. So, EB, you seem to be saying that we must want to believe. Just one question – why would anyone want to believe in such a complete and utter dick? Because that is what your god is if he is as you describe.

  193. Sorry, I should have capitalized the word “Dick” in that post – I wouldn’t want to cause offense…

  194. You’re a Moron.

  195. EB Goes To Heaven.

    EB wakes up in a garden. Or was it? He hears a voice. Or does he?

    “EB, you made me look like a complete dick in front of those atheists!”

    “But, Lord -”

    ***TORTURE PORN CENSORED***

    The End.

  196. Cool it, Stathei. Watch your language, please. Thank you.

  197. “That he honestly believes he assessed the evidence sincerely and without bias is what’s beside the point. He was wrong.”

    Well, yes, in the story he turned out to be wrong – but as I think I demonstrated above with my insurance example, only in a very superficial and cynical sense. We can only do the best with what we have, and if we turn out to be wrong, I really don’t see how we are to blame.

    “And again the flaw in this is that it’s purely YOUR assumption that he ‘really, really, tried’”.

    In retrospect I should have chosen my words better. I did not mean he “tried” to believe, in the sense that he wanted to believe but failed. What I meant was that he assessed all the evidence sincerely (even Anthony admits as much) and found it wanting.

    I’m ignoring your paragraph on the Sphinx.

    “No, I’m saying that being sinners who didn’t accept redemtion [sic] is what gets [sic] them sent to hell”.

    It amounts to the same thing. Why can’t some people accept redemption? Some people simply find the whole thing preposterous – they are unable to believe, even if they wanted to.

    “For your point about ‘trying’ I’m saying it’s rather irrelevant, and the fact that they don’t believe shows in itself that they don’t really ‘try as hard as they can’ regardless if they believe differently. If they did, they would.”

    This is just an unbelievable thing to say. You are essentially saying that anyone can believe anything if they try hard enough. Can you force yourself to believe in evolution? In materialism? Didn’t think so. You may as well say “Anyone who doesn’t understand quantum mechanics just isn’t trying hard enough. If they were really trying, they would”.

    “How about actually believing? Letting go of some of that atheistic presumption about ‘apparent design isn’t evidence for design’ and ‘extraordinary claims need extraordinary evidence’ which keeps you from making the correct conclusion?”

    All you’re doing is asking us to lie to ourselves. I believe that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Why should I abandon common sense and walk blindly into Christianity? Which version of Christianity should I pick, anyway? I mean, Jehovah’s Witnesses believe there are only 144,000 places in heaven… what if they’re right? Come to think of it, why should I choose Christianity at all? Why not Islam? Or Judaism? Or Scientology? Even if it were possible to force myself to believe in god, why should I believe in Christianity, and how do you propose I force myself to believe in it?

    “Seriously, because as my conversation with you shows when I gave you just 3 pieces of evidence for the minnimum [sic] existence of God, a lot of what’s keeping you from believing is your own self actively resisting the conclusion. Which again casts doubt on the amount of sincerety [sic] given by atheists, let alone Dawkins who seems to have an active contempt.”

    Well this takes the cake. Now you are telling me why I don’t believe in something – a stunning presumption which is as disingenuous as it is wrong. I’m not resisting the conclusion. I’m reaching whatever conclusion the evidence leads me to.

    I am not able to believe. It is impossible. There is not a single aspect of Christianity that I find plausible. I find it highly unlikely that Jesus even existed, never mind the virgin birth, miracles and rising from the dead. So what would god have me do?

    The Christian notion of free will is logically absurd, inconsistent with the belief that god is both omniscient and benevolent, and is completely unsupported by any evidence whatsoever. I am surprised that you find those facts amusing.

    “Frankly, you’re just making excuses.”

    How can I be making excuses when I don’t believe any of it is true?! I’m not pleading my own case – I’m highlighting the absurdity of the situation in the story.

    “Ultimately it’s still on us to choose in [sic] how to handle those influences, and we still have a personal responsibility for those choices.”

    This is just astounding. It’s well documented that children who are abused are more likely to be abusive themselves. Based on your reasoning, it is simply an extraordinary piece of coincidence that so many of those children grow up to be abusive. They all just happen to have chosen to be abusive.

    Yeah, OK.

  198. “Cool it, Stathei. Watch your language, please. Thank you.”

    Sorry, SJ. Overexcited.

  199. “Well, yes, in the story he turned out to be wrong – but as I think I demonstrated above with my insurance example, only in a very superficial and cynical sense. We can only do the best with what we have, and if we turn out to be wrong, I really don’t see how we are to blame.”

    No, he was wrong in an ‘actual’ sense. And when one’s own attitude is primarily what keeps one from knowing what’s true and what’s not, then one’s “best” is simply not good enough.

    “In retrospect I should have chosen my words better. I did not mean he “tried” to believe, in the sense that he wanted to believe but failed. What I meant was that he assessed all the evidence sincerely (even Anthony admits as much) and found it wanting.”

    I’ve read what Anthony said to that. He actually doesn’t think all the evidence is assessed 100% sincerely by Dawkins. And neither do I. In any case both are the same thing, it’s still purely YOUR assumption vs the guy who actually knows.

    “It amounts to the same thing. Why can’t some people accept redemption? Some people simply find the whole thing preposterous – they are unable to believe, even if they wanted to.”

    Billions have believed throughout 2,000 years. I think that self-evidently disproves any notion of ‘inability’. People simply choose not to believe for whatever reason. And if you don’t accept the ‘pardon’, then you don’t have any excuse for the consequences that logicly follows.

    “All you’re doing is asking us to lie to ourselves. I believe that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Why should I abandon common sense and walk blindly into Christianity?”

    Probably because it’s not common sense, or sensible in any way. Regardless, this just proves further that it’s YOU who resists really assessing the evidence with an open-mind. You admit you’re holding on to these ad hoc atheistic notions that are made specifically so one can think they’re rational in rejecting God’s existence, when the only thing that fuels them is an already existing prejudice.

    So no, I don’t really buy your “100% sincerity” or “unable to” for a minute.

    “Which version of Christianity should I pick, anyway? I mean, Jehovah’s Witnesses believe there are only 144,000 places in heaven… what if they’re right? Come to think of it, why should I choose Christianity at all? Why not Islam? Or Judaism? Or Scientology? Even if it were possible to force myself to believe in god, why should I believe in Christianity, and how do you propose I force myself to believe in it?”

    One step at a time mate. 😉 I’m not about to go into why Christianity trumps things like Islam or Jehovah’s witnness when you don’t even concede the bare minnimum of God’s existence yet. I will say however your “versions of Christianity” is rather flimsi, as there are plenty of fundamentally agreed upon beliefs, while any differences you can sight are just side-dressing. Read Meer Christianity some time.

    “Well this takes the cake. Now you are telling me why I don’t believe in something – a stunning presumption which is as disingenuous as it is wrong. I’m not resisting the conclusion. I’m reaching whatever conclusion the evidence leads me to.”

    No presumption. You told me yourself in your “refutations” (such as they were), and again in your admittance to thinking what’s “common sense”. You obviously THINK you’re reaching the conclusion the evidence leads (as everyone does), but with your flippant dismissal of the Sphinx example when it opperates under the EXACT same reasoning and argument you give for God, it shows you’re not. Because it shows you only accept such reasoning depending on the ‘Intelligent Agency’ that’s in question. Which shows bias, not ‘100% sincerity in examining the evidence’.

    So like I said, what’s really keeping you from believing is obviously your self. You are the one who accepts ‘extraordinary claims requires extraordinary evidence’ instead of rejecting such a notion. You’re the one accepts ‘unlikely unguided naturalistic processess’ can create something complex, then turn around and say it didn’t create something much much simpler. You are the one that examines the evidence with a blindfold of ad hoc standards and reasoning.

    “I am not able to believe. It is impossible. There is not a single aspect of Christianity that I find plausible. I find it highly unlikely that Jesus even existed, never mind the virgin birth, miracles and rising from the dead. So what would god have me do?”

    As shown above it’s all on you Timmy. And it’s all your responsibility.

    “The Christian notion of free will is logically absurd, inconsistent with the belief that god is both omniscient and benevolent, and is completely unsupported by any evidence whatsoever. I am surprised that you find those facts amusing.”

    I find the idea that you simply asserting them as facts make them facts amusing. As if you’re the first guy to wail against ‘free will’ and omniscience before. I have to wonder, if you think simply knowing what choices one makes is evidence against free will, does that mean you knowing now what choice your wife made in cooking dinner last night prove she doesn’t have free will?

    “How can I be making excuses when I don’t believe any of it is true?! I’m not pleading my own case – I’m highlighting the absurdity of the situation in the story.”

    You’re clearly making exuses for why you don’t believe it’s true. I honestly wonder if it’s so inherently “impossible” for you to believe why you even need arguments and evidence to show why you don’t. Sure there’s no contradiction there at all? 😉

    But I think what I was specificly addressing with that comment, was your notion that Dawkins shouldn’t be punished for making the wrong choices seemingly because he made his choices. Though both would seem to be the case as your situation doesn’t seem so different than Dawkins, does it?

    “This is just astounding. It’s well documented that children who are abused are more likely to be abusive themselves. Based on your reasoning, it is simply an extraordinary piece of coincidence that so many of those children grow up to be abusive. They all just happen to have chosen to be abusive.

    Yeah, OK.”

    Again, I ask if you have such a problem with free will why do you even bother arguing?

    And no, based on MY reasoning being abused is indeed an influence towards them choosing to be abusive themselves. But as you yourself say it’s only “likely” (proving it’s not always the case), then it proves there’s indeed a personal choice in taking up the behaviour themselves or rejecting it. So as much of an influence as abuse can be in taking up abusive behaviour it’s just as much an influence in rejecting abusive behaviour. There’s still a personal choice, and there’s still a personal responsibility for those choices.

  200. …and so ends yet another thread where the Fundies’ inability to give a single straight answer to a straight question tells us all we need to know. Their Faith is just that – faith, based on nothing at all.

  201. Yep! But now they’ve helpfully demonstrated it for us once again, for those of us who like to on base our beliefs on things that have been -demonstrated-.. ;P

    But good grief! I had to read stories that contained such contradictions as “jovial yet solemn” voices and people who were “A part of the Presence, and yet not”, and then had to watch a so-called author try to take a critic to task for saying that his protagonist had awakened in a garden, when he quite explicitly wrote exactly that, even using the very word in question, “garden”.

    In the immortal words of Monty Python, (The Cheese Shoppe) “What a senseless waste of human life!”

    -Ermine!

  202. “a so-called author try to take a critic to task for saying that his protagonist had awakened in a garden, when he quite explicitly wrote exactly that, even using the very word in question, “garden”.”

    The fact that PZ and you did not understand the significance of my follow up question in relation to the story itself is proof positive that his ‘criticism’ shouldn’t be taken seriously.

    Here’s the simple problem I face: if people didn’t understand English the first time, what is the point in further reply? There isn’t.

    Ermine, recall that I pointed out that this knowledge to PZ came to him by revelation. And yet, he was prepared to accept it without further thought.

    I say this for the benefit of the lurker.

  203. If anyone is interested, tonight (Tuesday, March 8, 2011) I will host an online voice/video/chat debate on the topic: “Do Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence.” Details: Click Here

  204. “No, he was wrong in an ‘actual’ sense.” No. Much like the person who didn’t take out life insurance, he was wrong in hindsight, and, even if he was wrong in a technical sense, his position was still a reasonable one based on the evidence available.

    “And when one’s own attitude is primarily what keeps one from knowing what’s true and what’s not…”. Well that’s the thing, isn’t it? It’s not his attitude that keeps him from believing, it’s the lack of evidence. Christianity may turn out to be true… It’s ridiculously unlikely, but it’s possible. If it does turn out to be true, however, its adherents will be saved solely because they happened to guess correctly. You have dodged this issue a few times now, but the fact remains that there is just as much evidence for Christianity as there is for Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Mormonism and any other religion you care to mention. If you happen to believe in one that turns out to be true, you weren’t insightful, you were lucky.

    “Billions have believed throughout 2,000 years. I think that self-evidently disproves any notion of ‘inability’.”

    OK, so apparently “many people have believed in X, therefore anyone can believe X”. How is this a point? Billions have believed in non-Christian religions, too, and increasing numbers are not accepting any religion at all. Your statement is self-refuting.

    “Probably because it’s not common sense, or sensible in any way.”

    Are you saying that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” is not common sense, or to walk blindly into Christianity isn’t common sense?

    “So no, I don’t really buy your ‘100% sincerity’ or ‘unable to’ for a minute.”

    Well then you’re calling me a liar, which I don’t appreciate.

    “One step at a time mate.”

    No, the point is crucial to the whole argument. This is a discussion about evidence. There is just as much evidence for Christianity as Islam, Judaism, etc. Why do you believe Christianity is true but the others are not? Ask yourself that, and you might obtain a glimpse into why atheists reject all religions, not just the ones they weren’t born into.

    The same argument applies to the many manifestations of Christianity. Yeah, sure, they all believe Jesus is the son of god. But, as I mentioned, Jehovah’s Witnesses believe there are only 144,000 places in heaven. They are convinced that is true. If you’re not a Jehovah’s Witness, you have absolutely zero chance of getting into heaven. Are you a Jehovah’s Witness? If not, why not? Why don’t you believe their “extraordinary claim”?

    “Read Meer [sic] Christianity”.

    I know that these days Christianity caters to a wide audience, but I was unaware that the audience included desert-dwelling diurnal herpestids.

    “I honestly wonder if it’s so inherently ‘impossible’ for you to believe why you even need arguments and evidence to show why you don’t.”

    Haha… there’s no need to wonder – I don’t need the arguments, you do. You are the ones making the claims – you need the arguments and evidence.

    “Again, I ask if you have such a problem with free will why do you even bother arguing?”

    I argue against free will because it is the absurd foundation on which Christianity is built.

  205. “No. Much like the person who didn’t take out life insurance, he was wrong in hindsight, and, even if he was wrong in a technical sense, his position was still a reasonable one based on the evidence available.”

    Nope. It’s still wrong in an actual sense (in both reality and in the story), and due to the fact that the evidence available points to theism in general and Christianity in particular. It just requires one be open-minded enough to view it unbiased. Hence atheists like Dawkins not actually being 100% sincere.

    “Well that’s the thing, isn’t it? It’s not his attitude that keeps him from believing, it’s the lack of evidence. Christianity may turn out to be true… It’s ridiculously unlikely, but it’s possible. If it does turn out to be true, however, its adherents will be saved solely because they happened to guess correctly.”

    No. There’s plenty of evidence for Christianity’s validity. Evidence such as what I previously gave you, and which you responded with simple denial more than anything else. It just takes an open-mind to examine it unbiased. In which it actually DOES come down to a personal attitude.

    “You have dodged this issue a few times now, but the fact remains that there is just as much evidence for Christianity as there is for Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Mormonism and any other religion you care to mention. If you happen to believe in one that turns out to be true, you weren’t insightful, you were lucky.”

    Spoken with all the force of the intelectually lazy.

    “OK, so apparently “many people have believed in X, therefore anyone can believe X”. How is this a point? Billions have believed in non-Christian religions, too, and increasing numbers are not accepting any religion at all. Your statement is self-refuting.”

    My statement was to address your claim of it somehow being an inherent impossibility to believe in Christianity rather than it being a product of your choice (for whatever reason). You do indeed have the ‘ability’ to believe. You just choose not to.

    “Are you saying that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” is not common sense, or to walk blindly into Christianity isn’t common sense?”

    Given we’ve discussed the issues about “extraordianry-etc.”, obviously the former.

    “No, the point is crucial to the whole argument. This is a discussion about evidence. There is just as much evidence for Christianity as Islam, Judaism, etc.”

    And obviously I disagree. There’s actually more evidence for Christianity than anything else in the world. You brushing it all aside as the same thing, is just intelectual laziness on your part.

    “The same argument applies to the many manifestations of Christianity. Yeah, sure, they all believe Jesus is the son of god. But, as I mentioned, Jehovah’s Witnesses believe there are only 144,000 places in heaven. They are convinced that is true. If you’re not a Jehovah’s Witness, you have absolutely zero chance of getting into heaven. Are you a Jehovah’s Witness? If not, why not? Why don’t you believe their “extraordinary claim”?”

    Same reason believing 2+2=4 excludes any and all other possibilities without examining every claim one at a time.

    What’s truly amusing is that you and others have harped about why I don’t believe in the “extraordinary claims” of other religions, when the fact is I actually do (for some of them anyways). As a Christian I can easily accept Mohammed was visited by an “angel” or the existence of ‘Zeus’ as true without batting an eye. Because in Christianity there’s indeed an explanatory for such things in that Mankind and God aren’t the only ‘beings’ said to exist.

    So your questions just show an arrogant assumption of my beliefs when you really don’t know a thing about me.

    “Haha… there’s no need to wonder – I don’t need the arguments, you do. You are the ones making the claims – you need the arguments and evidence.”

    So you’re saying your atheism is founded on absolutely no arguments or evidence? That seems like a case of blind unthinking belief to me. 😉

    “I argue against free will because it is the absurd foundation on which Christianity is built.

    I know. The question is: Why bother arguing AT ALL?

    Not like we have free will to change our minds about our beliefs, riiiiiiight?

  206. You are almost there… “It’s wrong in an actual sense [if and only if] the evidence available points to theism in general and Christianity in particular”. That is your interpretation of the evidence, based on your own credulity. You have simply applied a lower standard of proof to Christianity than you have to other religions, or any other woo you care to mention. It is actually you who is not being sincere when assessing the evidence.

    This whole discussion brings me back to the point I was making way back at the beginning of this thread. You keep maintaining that Christianity has been proven, that all the evidence points to its truth… where, then, is your faith? If faith is a virtue, where is yours? You could end the argument right now by just admitting that the evidence is not conclusive, but you believe it anyway, on faith.

    “No. There’s plenty of evidence for Christianity’s validity. Evidence such as what I previously gave you, and which you responded with simple denial more than anything else.”

    There is some evidence, but it’s spectacularly weak. The arguments you gave were for the existence of god, not for Christianity, and as I said above, even if we concede that there is a god, you still have a long way to go to prove that he is Christian.

    “Spoken with all the force of the intelectually [sic] lazy.”

    And dodged with all the force of a wet sock. Yet again. Jews are equally convinced that Jesus was NOT the son of god. Convince them otherwise.

    “You do indeed have the ‘ability’ to believe. You just choose not to.”

    (a) This is just ridiculous. How many times do I have to say it? You can’t force yourself to believe something. Try and force yourself to believe in evolution… let me know how you go.
    (b) So you are merely choosing to believe in Jesus? You look at the evidence and think “Oh I really could go either way here, but, what the hell, I think I’ll believe”?
    (c) “You have ability to survive in a vacuum. You just choose not to”. Discuss.

    “Same reason believing 2+2=4 excludes any and all other possibilities without examining every claim one at a time.”

    Dodged again, so I will ask again. Are you a Jehovah’s Witness? If not, why not? Why don’t you believe their “extraordinary claim”?

    “As a Christian I can easily accept Mohammed was visited by an ‘angel’ or the existence of ‘Zeus’ as true without batting an eye.”

    Hang on… you believe in Zeus…?

    “So your questions just show an arrogant assumption of my beliefs when you really don’t know a thing about me.”

    Belief in Zeus is not a typical Christian position, so the assumption is entirely valid. Are we to assume you believe in Ra, Wotan, Thor and the Flying Spaghetti Monster until you tell us otherwise? If you want to correct our assumptions, you are free to do so. ONe might wonder, however, why it has it taken you so long to set us straight.

    “So you’re saying your atheism is founded on absolutely no arguments or evidence?”

    Yes, in the same way and to the same extent as your afairyism. Oh, I‘m sorry, I take that back… since I really shouldn’t assume that you don’t believe in fairies.

    “I know. The question is: Why bother arguing AT ALL?”

    Because, as I have explained many, many, many, many, many times above, Christianity impinges on my rights and the rights of my fellow citizens.

    “Not like we have free will to change our minds about our beliefs, riiiiiiight?”

    Exactly. Now you’re getting there!

  207. “You have simply applied a lower standard of proof to Christianity than you have to other religions, or any other woo you care to mention. It is actually you who is not being sincere when assessing the evidence.”

    No, it’s actually when one applies a consistent standard of proof for truth in any subject. It’s atheist’s like you who move the goal post further and further with such standards as “extraordinary evidence” only for the particular subject of religion (thus proving to be an ad hoc), until it becomes inherently impossible to be proven under such a standard. It’s claimed that there’s “not enough evidence” when the truth is no amount of evidence will ever be enough for atheists. That’s why the issue with atheism isn’t about evidence, but a biased attitude.

    “You keep maintaining that Christianity has been proven, that all the evidence points to its truth… where, then, is your faith? If faith is a virtue, where is yours? You could end the argument right now by just admitting that the evidence is not conclusive, but you believe it anyway, on faith.”

    *snort* This is just your misconception of what ‘faith’ means in regards to Christianity as the Bible describes it. Evidence and faith aren’t mutually contradicting. It just means one has to ‘trust’ the available evidence points to this conclusion without
    having full knowledge or experience of events. Much in how you have such “faith” in evolution even though 95% of everything you know about it doesn’t come from your own personal experience.

    Sorry, but the evidence for theism and/or Christianity is indeed conclusive. But since I wasn’t around 2,000 years ago, I have faith I’m interpreting the evidence correctly (as the alternative is to throw away our epistomology completely). 😉

    “There is some evidence, but it’s spectacularly weak. The arguments you gave were for the existence of god, not for Christianity, and as I said above, even if we concede that there is a god, you still have a long way to go to prove that he is Christian.”

    I’m amused you think your opinionated assertion carries any weight with me. As the evidence for God’s minimum existence is incredibly strong, yet you still cling to atheism, you’ll understand if I consider your judgement suspect.

    “And dodged with all the force of a wet sock. Yet again. Jews are equally convinced that Jesus was NOT the son of god. Convince them otherwise.”

    And again the problem comes down to the same thing as it does for atheists – attitude, not evidence.

    “This is just ridiculous. How many times do I have to say it? You can’t force yourself to believe something. Try and force yourself to believe in evolution… let me know how you go.”

    You honestly think proof by assertion is going to convince me?

    “So you are merely choosing to believe in Jesus? You look at the evidence and think “Oh I really could go either way here, but, what the hell, I think I’ll believe”?”

    No, I choose to look at the evidence and accept whatever it’s conclusion is without regarding how it may effect me (and others) personally, rather than the atheistic approach where one builds their beliefs around there personal prefrence of what they like or don’t like.

    ““You have ability to survive in a vacuum. You just choose not to”. Discuss.”

    *snort* Now could it be that given 4,000 years of philisophical debate regarding free will the fact that no one has ever disproven it with the obvious fact that we obviously can’t do just anything we imagine, means your misconstruing the issue? Or do you seriously think you’re the first guy to make this observation in the entire written history of the world?

    “Dodged again, so I will ask again. Are you a Jehovah’s Witness? If not, why not? Why don’t you believe their “extraordinary claim”?”

    What “extraodinary claim” are you talking about?

    And let me ask you a relevant question to your issue – would you say an event witnessed by hundreds, if not thousands, of people is nominally different and more credible than an event claimed to be witnessed by one guy?

    “Belief in Zeus is not a typical Christian position, so the assumption is entirely valid. Are we to assume you believe in Ra, Wotan, Thor and the Flying Spaghetti Monster until you tell us otherwise? If you want to correct our assumptions, you are free to do so. ONe might wonder, however, why it has it taken you so long to set us straight.”

    I don’t think you know what a “typical Christian position” really is given your generalization of every non-athiestic belief being all the same.

    “Yes, in the same way and to the same extent as your afairyism. Oh, I‘m sorry, I take that back… since I really shouldn’t assume that you don’t believe in fairies.”

    Apparently not, since my “afairyism” as you put is IS based on evidence and reason. As like I said believing 2+2=4 obviously means I reject any other conclusion of what 2+2 equals. Though it seems highly hypocritical that you demand people provide evidence for their religious belief when you admit your is based on nothing but your personal will.

    “Because, as I have explained many, many, many, many, many times above, Christianity impinges on my rights and the rights of my fellow citizens.”

    *snort* What rights? If you don’t have free will you don’t have any “rights” to be impinged any more than a rock or your computer has “rights”. So what are these “rights” you claim and where do they come from?

    Your still dodging the issue. It’s useless to argue there’s no free will when the very argument assumes we have free will to consider the evidence and arguments in order to change our mind. So why argue against Christianity to stop ‘impinge on your rights’ if we don’t have the free will to choose not to ‘impinge’ them? Your very attempt to argue disproves you.

    Frankly, this whole ‘free will’ issue is just a sad attempt for you to avoid reexamining your beliefs and behaviour and having to make an attempt to change them. Which is rather lazy.

  208. Even though this discussion is probably no longer being followed, I am going to respond to the question above about the various Religions and why one is true verses the other.

    Christians do not say Judaism is a false Religion. The Jews were God’s chosen people and were first given God’s word in the form of the Torah. They later on added a lot of traditions that God did not command. Furthermore, they were awaiting their Messiah, but when Messiah came, they did not recognize Him (at least those who still call themselves Jews. The Jews who did recognize Him began calling themselves Christians.). They did not recognize Him because they expected Him to come as a king, but instead, He came as a servant. (They confused the first and second coming, which by the way is clearly seen and talked about in their Bible.) Jesus fulfilled every single Bible Prophecy, and those who say He did it on purpose so they would think He was Messiah, I say, could He have determined the place of His birth? And yet it followed prophecy. Did He determine how He would die? No, but it was part of prophecy, 1000’s of years before Christ was born men wrote about what would happen when He died. http://brotherpete.com/index.php?topic=1007.0

    Judaism-many people contributed to the writing of the Torah, and it all flows together and makes sense, and is not contradictory if you understand what you are reading.

    Christianity- Many people contributed to writing the New Testament and the same with the Torah it flows together. It even lines up with the Torah and inlcudes the Torah in its book. It ends with a warning that no man should add to or take away from what is written.

    Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witness, etc.- Can pinpoint one man as the beginning who started it all. This man either added to or took away from what was already written, therefore whatever he writes is fale.

    Muslim- One man, Mohommad the prophet wrote what he thought needed to be said, even though he recognized the vailidity and sanctity of the Christian Bible, he just could not agree with it enough to leave it alone.

    My point is, even in the scientific community something is usually not accepted until it can be demonstrated by several different people, you don’t just take the words of one man unless of course that man is Charles Darwin for some reason. If eye witness accounts matter within the scientific community, why does it not matter 2000 years ago when many eye witnesses attested to the truth of the Bible, who saw Jesus die, and saw Him come back from the dead? Why does their historical account of events no longer matter?

  209. I meant to also add, that just like the Jews did not believe in Jesus because He did not first come the way they expected Him to, atheists do not believe in God because He does not reveal Himself in the way that they expect Him to. Just because God does not come to you the way that you want does not mean He does not exist. It could be that you need to check the motivations of your own heart in pondering the question whether there is or is not a god.

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