On former atheists

I commented on an article over at scitascienda.wordpress.com and ended up expanding the whole thing into a rather longer piece than I’d anticipated. I thought I’d include it here by way of informing everyone that the infamous Todd’s comments on the whole thing have resulted in him being banned again, this time for good.

C.L. Dyck’s original article is interesting and you might like to read it first and then give feedback on it either over there or on my reply to it here.

Happy Humanist.JPGAn atheist is not an atheist because she doesn’t understand Christianity, or for that matter any other religion. Not understanding something, perhaps even to the point of refusing to find out, is the exact opposite of a mind content with reality–the key characteristic of free thinking secular humanism.

So when I hear of “former atheists” becoming Christians, I am often compelled to enquire of the neophyte, if it might be that, in fact, they were once merely a confused agnostic. This is descriptive of a great many people in the modern world, who if asked would, perhaps, use the word ‘atheist’ to describe themselves above ‘agnostic’, because of an almost cult-like definition these words have accrued in recent years. Unfortunately this brand of so-called “new atheism” has little in common with the philosophy of positive atheism espoused by Bertrand Russell, Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, Mark Twain, Voltaire and so on. It should be noted that these prominent thinkers and commentators on the subject of religious faith, did so at a time when free speech was constrained by heavily enforced blasphemy laws and when to make a point in defence of rationalism required some considerable riposte.

An indicator as to the level of commitment the convert once showed to their apparently now lost atheism, resides in a few very important differences between questions an agnostic might ask and that which is of interest to a positive atheist. For example, an agnostic, in her inquisitiveness, might become concerned with the truth-claims of a particular religion, let’s say Christianity. This leads her to ask what Jesus is said to have said about such and such, or what St. Paul is said to have written in his letters to the Corinthians and so on–and without any concern for what prominent figures in other religions might have said along similar lines on similar subjects, which in fact contradict Christian teaching. This is a very important point to note, as the ultimate claim of many religions is that they are the one true faith, while other religions are more or less false.

This may seem a harsh comparison, but one only needs to look at the recent bloody history in Northern Ireland, where Catholics only differ from Protestants in their belief that in the sacrament of communion, the unleavened bread literally becomes the body of Christ, whereas religions not based upon the 11th century edict of transubstantiation make no such claim.

Atheists, on the other hand, are not concerned with the in’s and out’s of any one particular religion, as much as they are concerned with what can be proven to be true through an observance of reality, where the least assumptions are made about the nature of a given phenomena the better. This immediately poses a problem in the case of Christianity, because the very fact that the bible itself contains the kind of contradictions so blatantly the result of poor translation, which can not be resolved from a folkloristic point of view, let alone from empirical data sets, that it immediately discredits itself as a historical reference point, because it is the very article which must be verified for any of Christianity’s other truth-claims to withstand rational criticism. It should be noted, that this does not stop the vast majority of Christians contenting themselves with the notion that the bible is nevertheless the inerrant, perfect word of God, precisely because it says so in the bible. In the military this is known as scenario completion syndrome. In psychology and cognitive science, it is known as confirmation bias.

A common claim that many “former atheists” make to validate their conversion, is that they were touched by something beyond their comprehension. This should be treated with an additional degree of incredulity, if chief among their reasons for this new found belief, the convert describes the soul as distinct from the mind. The externalisation of the ego which the mind is responsible for, when religionists project catch-all, arbitrary meanings upon words like “God” and “Spirituality”, produces exactly the kind of bias confirmation we should expect to see in someone as agnostic towards the importance cognitive framing plays in forming our views, as they are the existence or otherwise of Russell’s teapot.

It should be noted that varying degrees of cognitive dissonance, when it comes to truth-claims made, despite no reasonable basis upon which to make those assertions, for example, often underpin a world-view based upon scientific naturalism–which is, to a certain extent, similarly reliant upon mathematical axioms, or arithmetic equations at the heart of scientific theories. That which is assumed to be correct as participial to a theorem is done so for purposes of efficiency, rather than because it has not been or can not be correctly calculated.

This is not, however, a perfect analogy, and you’d have to be pretty stubborn (bordering on pedantic) to cite mathematical axioms as the central basis of an argument which might attempt to equate their use in scientific naturalism with religious faith in Christian apologetics, but there is an element of trust inherent to very exacting orders of logical axioms, nevertheless. However, this is an entirely different level of assumption based thinking, because it is one which operates within margins of error. It is therefore not the sum total which collapses without an individual mathematician having faith in calculus, for example; merely that the degree to which the equation can be said to be absolutely accurate depends upon yet to be deduced factors which may later influence the outcome, but which at the time of operand are unknown.

In Christian apologetics, however, the margin of error analogy is an order of magnitude more wide-reaching than the common or garden variety of Alpha course Christianity might admit to, or even be aware of. Most believers in belief are not wilfully dishonest with themselves or anyone else about the gulf between their extraordinary beliefs and a lack of extraordinary evidence upon which to assert their claims. But this is precisely why it is such a pressing problem for “former atheists” to expand upon this paradox, since so many of the underlying principals of their apparently new-found allegiances reside in a fundamental miscomprehension of that which they claim to have once maintained a firm grasp.

The disagreements even within different tracts of Christian apologetics, as to how much emphasis is to be placed upon which interpretation of which book of which chapter in which codex is troubling enough. Let alone to what degree theology as a whole should be informed by scientifically obtained postulates which in many cases lead to full blown falsifiable theories, that completely discredit early philosophical attempts at describing the very natural phenomena upon which so much theology is based–such as the Adam and Eve or Genesis creation myths, for example.

If someone who once claimed to be an atheist now looks to these myths not as parables, but as literal descriptions of “how God did it”, she has immediately made a whole slew of assumptions from which no degree of an appeal to reason can dissuade her; or as is commonly accredited to Ben Goldacre, “You can not reason someone out of a position they did not reason themselves into”. This is not a commentary on someone’s faith, it is a commentary on their commitment to failed cognition–and that is anathema to the truth journey all religions are ostensibly charged with mapping, but few orienteer.

For identifying this paradigm, while in many ways displaying qualities of it, atheism is often described by those who understand it the least, as a religion without a deity. This and because a certain kind of highly motivated atheist will accrue a great deal of knowledge about both material reality and meta-physical ontology, while facing a great frustration at being accused of ignorance about the poetry in Psalms, for example, ironically means that, oftentimes, a well-read atheist will have a much greater appreciation for biblical narratives than those who claim to live their lives by them, while exhibiting much behaviour to the contrary.

There is no doubting the bible’s historical worth in human history. It is the assertions of those who claim to know it so intimately, while describing it as the absolute arbiter of morality, which anyone who has actually read Leviticus and Deuteronomy should quickly find insulting and false. This crucial difference between faith and free thinking, being the first of the reasons why atheism is so unlike a religion, should perhaps make a compelling enough reason to doubt the clarity with which “former atheists” are operating, quite obvious–although some will no-doubt still insist upon more compelling reasons to question someone’s beliefs than merely the semantic perception of doubt residing on the negative side of where faith rests on the positive.

What should be certainly very clear, is that an emotional commitment to theistic truth-claims is not proof that those claims are true. Many Christians, who insist that their subjective experiences do, in fact, constitute evidence of a spiritual aspect, beyond observable reality, are immediately faced with the question of why this realm is unavailable to those who refuse to suspend their critical faculties in order to tap into that which they may already be in possession of, without necessarily ascribing it to the supernatural.

For example, musicians often cite moments of bliss, within an ensemble, during improvisation; where a communication between the players and the audience transcends anything which could be pre-arranged, but which is nevertheless sympathetic to the overall arrangement. While a mathematical analysis into why in a given key, a certain range of notes in the scale are available, might technically describe why a given chordal passage is harmonious and melodic, it tells us nothing about why the emotional reaction of an audience might range from mild pleasure to floods of uncontrollable weeping and mania on a grand scale. This speaks to the emotional investment listeners to that band of musicians have in a form of non-verbal communication far in advance of anything found in other forms of artistic expression. Aficionados of Gauguin do not spend 24 hours queuing for tickets to a muddy field, where they will stand miles away from the revealed canvases, with a topless girl on their shoulders, enthusiastically yelling, “The Spirit of the Dead Keep Watch!”

However, in both kitchen table apologetics and in the full-blown glossolalia of an evangelical rally, this is exactly what is happening. It is true to say that this entirely normal capacity for humans to profoundly influence each other’s emotions through unspoken and seemingly instinctive, if exaggerated and impulsive behaviour, remains such an easily exploited facet of prescribed faith, to confuse confusion with revelation, that in feeling as if they have been touched by something profound, the believer would rather assign an artificially inflated meaning upon that experience, than explore an honest description of the phenomena to which they have actually succumb.

Readers might be interested to know that I forwarded a copy of the above to this blog’s favourite saved and therefore righteous Todd, who regularly regurgitates hate theology in the comments. It elicited the following response, for which he was permanently banned…

“I take back any reference to my being a former atheist, as there’s no such thing (or confused agnostics, for that matter), only those who suppress the truth of God in unrighteousness. That was me…then God turned the Jesus light switch on, thankfully. It sure wasn’t my doing.

You’re an evil man, Jim – serving Beelzebub like a good obedient minion. God’s been trying to get your attention and save you from the king of this world, but you refuse to respond. Your Satan-induced-narcissism today is going to yield huge dividends in your eternal afterlife unless you repent of your sins and respond to God’s grace through faith in His Son Jesus.

Otherwise, your eternal suffering is going to be well-earned and, dare I submit, “of the worst kind possbible.” When I think of what’s possible from God, I absolutely shudder for you.”

177 comments on “On former atheists

  1. I should add that Todd will no-doubt attempt to reply to and otherwise contact me and other regular commentators here. Simply put, I no longer consider him entitled to a voice and all such correspondence will be deleted unread.

  2. Okay. And of the many, many self-identifying “Atheists” who once belonged to the fundamentalist sects of Christianity which they now freely scorn? Of those who co-opt any sort of philosophical atheism with merely some expression of their own social ressentiment?

    The entire object of this post is to issue a scorn warrant for ideological defectors, to the denial of whatever philosophical inquiries may have led them astray of the either the empirical absolutism of philosophical Atheism or the amorphic and teenage-dominated character of “new” Atheism.

  3. If I say you have a muscle and that it has power, you would have to respond that you have no evidence of the power, you can only see the muscle; however, you know that a muscle has power because you can move your arm.

    Faith is similar in that you can’t see faith; however, you can see the impact that it has on your life just like power in the muscle.

    In fact, there is no evidence for Gravity; yet, everyone believes in Gravity. We can see the effects of Gravity on things. In the same way, I can see the effect of the love of God on people.

    This is not emotionalism, it is experiencing the nature of God as you are able to love other people. Love is the source of Faith.

    Is love real? Atheist think it is just a psychological state that can change over time. Christians on the other hand say that love is real and that Christians participate in the very nature of God as the love of God fills them and touches other peoples lives.

    Without faith, you are left with self and no future. With faith, there is hope for the future.

    Please send me a friend request on FACEBOOK so that I can get your new post on my page. Just post a link to your facebook so I will see the updates after we are friends. You will get a lot more visits to your post too…Thanks

    http://www.facebook.com/zdennyfamily

  4. Wow I’m actually surprised Todd went so far. That’s by far the harshest comment I have seen from him! The greatest injury to the Christian world view, at least from my perspective as an outsider, is exactly this type of dualistic thinking. In fact, according to the ideas of the late great William Perry, such a person is perpetually stuck on just the starting blocks of intellectual development. It’s sad to see from an intelligent person like Todd, despite those outbursts he always seemed a nice guy to me.

    Relativism > dualism.

  5. Zdenny, you’re just using tired-out straw men. “Evidence” is not synonymous with “sight.” You can’t SEE gravity, but there is evidence of it, because as you said, we see its effects. We do not, however, see any effects we can freely contribute to God.

    The whole thing about, “Atheists don’t have real love because they see it as random chemical reactions” is even more stupid. That’s not atheism, that’s just reality. Emotions are caused by chemical reactions in the brain, & it’s been documented that brain injuries can CHANGE A PERSON’S PERSONALITY. Knowing what it is doesn’t change the fact that it is. Or are you just afraid of the truth?

    You know your muscle has power because you can move your arm. That’s not faith, that’s REASON. FAITH is believing that you can lift an elephant even though you’ve never lifted anything approaching that level of wait. Sure, it’s not COMPLETELY impossible, you MAY be freakishly strong & able to do it, but it is UNREASONABLE & IMPROBABLE.

    TL;DR version: Learn the meaning of words before you start running your mouth.

  6. In defense of ZDenny:

    Whence comes ones concepts of tomorrow or yesterday, except faith? Because if your answer refers to empirical evidence, you haven’t answered anything. And likewise, if the rhetorical turn is to narrow the analogies someone uses into razor thin comparisons of mammalian motor tissues, then whose straw men are those again? Man, seriously—shouting “reason” and “improbability” is not a point.

  7. This is the guy who made the genius statement that “there is no evidence for gravity.”

    We’ve sent out satellites to measure the angle of refraction around the gas giants.

    That’s testing Einstein’s theory on what causes gravity.

    There have been no such experiments to test for God, never mind ones that have had conclusive, positive results. They aren’t even comparable.

    Furthermore, this guy used “evidence” as synonymous with “observation through the sense of sight.”

    This is the guy you’re defending.

    And you’re telling ME that I’M not making a point?

    As if. All I did was call him on his improper usage of words. I didn’t say, “All Christians are morons,” or anything of the sort, so take up your bitching with someone who cares.

  8. “And you’re telling ME that I’M not making a point?”

    And your answer was several sentences prior:

    “There have been no such experiments to test for God, never mind ones that have had conclusive, positive results. They aren’t even comparable.”

    How does one empirically test that which is not empirically verifiable? How is that not logically inconsistent?

  9. “How does one empirically test that which is not empirically verifiable? How is that not logically inconsistent?”

    You’re saying that I’m right in saying that Zdenny’s comparison is totally invalid.

    I know.

    What’s your point?

    FYI; I’d reccommend using smaller words. You come across as using words you don’t know the meaning of in order to sound smarter.

    Case in point: “Mamalian motor tissues.” Motor=movement. Brain tissues handling emotions have nothing to do with movement.

  10. First off, let me welcome some new faces to the debate here and invite some of you who want to go down the whole “what is evidence” route to read some other well populated comment threads first, before drawing long term commentators into already covered territory.

    That said, some of you seem to have viewed this post as a “warning”, which ironically somewhat proves my point. Secular humanism isn’t about telling other people what to think, it’s about learning to think for yourself. All I did here was explain what I think. If you want to go down the route of “proving” me wrong, there’s a whole other debate to be had about what constitutes evidence and, as I’ve said, that is something well covered elsewhere. The topic here is people who convert to Christianity despite describing themselves as having once understood that religion is philosophically limited to unsubstantiated truth-claims.

    Whatever that debate might throw up, it is true to say that someone who has had a revealing experience which they genuinely can not explain, doesn’t automatically mean that the only explanation for that experience leading the individual to a particular religious doctrine, is that something beyond the natural world is the only possible explanation for the origins of that experience–merely that the individual believes that it is. The exact same experience may be interpreted completely differently by another individual who may or may not presume it to be a message from beyond the grave.

    We laugh at the crystal danglers and cold reading techniques of palmists and faith healers; homeopathic remedies and the cold caller bible salesmen. But just as a “new atheist” might understand little about the actual theology she so readily discounts, so do many supposedly “saved” Christians realise how fragile the rice paper is, when they begin to step into a scientific examination of their truth-claims.

    There is a great deal of consonance and group solidarity to be hidden behind when your creed is 2000 years old. But in terms of how far that’ll carry you through the really important questions of life origins and the entropy of energy and quantum electrodynamics–all the wish-thinking in the world can’t shift the burden of evidence, which points towards these being entirely non-supernatural phenomena, towards that which seeks to explain these physical properties with cluttered thinking.

    You either affirm religious beliefs for personal reasons or you make a scientific statement on the nature of nature. You can not straddle into both territories and use the subjective opinion of one as objective evidence to support the other. That is a logical fallacy and it is the bias of choice for millions and millions of people.

  11. I didn’t view your blog post as a warning.

    ‘Cause I didn’t read it.

    No offense, it was just really, really fucking long.

  12. I like your thoughts about Christianity and scientific truth claims; however, science depends on a person’s mind that has been designed to know something. The very act of trusting your brain to anaylze the physical world is an act of faith for an Atheist. Atheism therefore rest on faith.

    I guess an Atheist’s mind in order to be consistent is not designed to know the world. The scientific truth claims that he seeks to analyze cannot really be known. I guess that is why we live in a post-modern world now.

    Atheism has never been convincing to me. It is very selfish, lacks intellectual credibility, and falsely claims that it is based on science. If information did not inform the big bang, none of the design that we see in our universe would exist including our amazing brain and DNA structure that we still haven’t figured out.

    Information is the basis for the existence of all matter and energy. Information informs matter and energy for its specific form. In other words, information is dominate proving that we are designed. Without information, you don’t have mass or energy because both of these entities have to be informed in order to exist.

    That is all the proof you need because all information comes from a mind. Energy and mass do not create information and never has. The basis of all information which causes the design is God.

  13. Zdenny, what flavor of dressing would you like with your word salad?

    Seriously, do you even understand the meaning of the terms you’re throwing out?

  14. “Atheism has never been convincing to me. It is very selfish, lacks intellectual credibility, and falsely claims that it is based on science.”

    This is interesting. Could you expand upon this please? I am particularly interested in how atheism as a philosophy is selfish? How does Christianity stand as intellectually credible? Finally how is the claim that there is no God unscientific? What scientific evidence is there for God’s existence?

  15. By the way, I felt really sorry that you confirmed that love is a mere chemical balance in the brain that can change over time.

    I know most kids want to be loved; however, your theory would prove that real love is a mere fantasy because it is completely conditional.

    The Love of God is not conditional and causes Christians to sacrifice for others. If a parent has conditional love based on their chemical equation, then a parent is not required to love their child because they were not designed to.

    The reason Christians have to love their child is because the Love of God that compels them to.

    I would much rather have a loving Christian parent than an Atheist who believes that love for a child is very conditional. In fact, Atheism says that a parent does not even have to love their child.

    My heart breaks for you and it helps me understand why you are an atheist. You really needed a Christian parent, one who knows the Love of God, to raise you. You missed out…

  16. Respond to the arguments or shut the Hell up. No one said you could just stop loving your kids, you’re putting words in my mouth. Unsurprising, as all you’ve done so far is spit out random, poorly constucted anti-atheist straw men.

    And FYI, my parents are Christian. Both pairs of my grandparents are Christian. 76.4% of the United States is Christian.

    The fact that thoughts are caused by electrochemical reactions is just that: a fact. Trying to say that I’m a bad person for acknowledging reality is idiotic in the extreme. I’m sorry your fairy tale isn’t true, but that’s the way it is.

  17. ZDenny-

    “I would much rather have a loving Christian parent than an Atheist who believes that love for a child is very conditional”

    Do atheists actually consider parental love to be conditional? If you reduce love to its chemical causative agents (sans supernatural diety) and map how the emotion affects the body does it somehow cease to be real? Isn’t that really just a total strawman?

    In fact isn’t the choice you posit of love as governed and created from the interaction of various chemical processes within the brain, and love as governed and created by an infallible, personal, creator God, the very definition of false dichotomy?

    Lithp-

    “The fact that thoughts are caused by electrochemical reactions is just that: a fact.”

    As far as I understand it, it is true that electrochemical reactions have been shown to influence moods, thought and personality. However, it is equally true to suggest that the reverse applies. Anyone who has ever listened to an Anthony Robbins CD, or taken a deep breath when feeling on the verge of anger knows that you can use thoughts to influence your state, so it appears to be a two way street (at least to me.)

  18. “You either affirm religious beliefs for personal reasons or you make a scientific statement on the nature of nature.”

    While the first clause begs a reductio-ad-hominem (“personal reasons”), what’s important is that it is a common excluded-middle argument in the religion v. atheism wrestling match: actual philosophical engagement is already excluded in favor of the prior assumptions of a Comte’esque materialist idealism; always and already, philosophy is excluded from its proper authority in a dialectic between the twin absolutist ideologies of Atheism and fundamentalist religion. While the argument of “non-overlapping magisteria” has been subjected to its share of challenges, that does not mean you can simply leapfrog the nuances of the distinctions it makes by pre-empting them with the absolute (and utterly circular) empiricism offered by Atheism. You cannot make empirical assertions about a thing whose mode is non-empirical, nor can you stealthily predicate the affirmative that “God does not exist” without relying on a transcendental, faith-based metaphysics.

    That’s my gripe, and as you said, it traverses discourses that already occurred.

    But once you acknowledge these shortcomings, you can get at the more insightful and pressing questions posed by this post. Such as, why are conversion narratives so effective (be they de-conversion, conversion, re-conversion, etc.)? A quick jaunt through the blogosphere yields hundreds of such narratives, Atheist and Christian alike—and even when they serve entirely contrary ends, they share the same structure of obliterating some past identity and replacing it with the significations of the new. But if issues of social identity have priority over the ontological substance of matters at-hand, then what possible involvement does philosophy even have in these narratives apart from some means or lever? I just think such narratives are interesting. Historically, however, they are entirely religious.

  19. Michael-The thing is, if you’re using thoughts to influence your emotions, you’re still using electrochemical reactions. It’s all done by the same wrinkled, grayish-white, roughly 4 pound organ.

    And honestly, I think any attempt to debate with Zdenny is pointless. Fundies are rarely reasoned with, & he’s probably already quote mining me for the next blog entry about how mean & horrid we atheists are.

    As for Genome, I noticed that he didn’t respond to me calling him on his fuck-up at basic anatomy & linguistics. I wonder why that is?

  20. Mike says,

    “In fact isn’t the choice you posit of love as governed and created from the interaction of various chemical processes within the brain, and love as governed and created by an infallible, personal, creator God, the very definition of false dichotomy?”

    Ding! Ding! Ding! You win a set of steak knives! Spot on.

  21. “As for Genome, I noticed that he didn’t respond to me calling him on his fuck-up at basic anatomy & linguistics. I wonder why that is?”

    What mistake was that? The one where you falsely asserted that “mammalian motor tissues” (obviously referring to muscle, per your previous reference) was the brain, in order to make a classic troll argument about linguistic abilities? Or the one where you say this:

    “‘How does one empirically test that which is not empirically verifiable? How is that not logically inconsistent?’

    You’re saying that I’m right in saying that Zdenny’s comparison is totally invalid.”

    No, you’re not right, which shares no connection with the truth-value of Zdenny’s assertions. The fact that empiricism cannot test that which is logically outside its scope of observation is not a victory for empiricism, it is its classic defeat. To say that God is empirically testable is Atheism’s foremost straw man.

  22. There is no false dichotomy because love is not real if it changes. A chemical process can be altered or changed by natural selection in an atheistic worldview. As such, love is conditional based on the chemical process currently found in the biological structure of man. This chemical process can and will change as demanded by evolution.

    A parent does not have to love their child; in fact, it should be reasonable to assume that love of ones child is very optional. I guess that is why most atheist support abortion.

    I can prove my theory from sociology. If the love of God is dominate in our society, you would have very few divorces; however, the love of God is not dominate at this time. The end result is a high rate of divorce.

    You can look at sociology to see the evidence. Back in the early 20th century, divorce was very, very rare. However, at the beginning of the 21th century, divorce rates are very high. Christianity use to dominate America back in the 20th century; however, now Secularism dominates America. The net result is a loss of the love of God in our society which predictably results in higher divorce rates.

    If a person claims to be a Christian, this does not mean that they have the love of God existing in their life. Nominal Christians and Real Biblical Christians are two different groups. It is like comparing apples and oranges.

    Thanks for the discussion!

  23. Don’t “troll argument on linguistics” me. Alright, I see where you make the connection to muscles now, but then we just get into a new problem with your vocabulary: Straw men. Me pointing out the problem in Zdenny’s analogy is not a strawman. Likewise:

    “To say that God is empirically testable is Atheism’s foremost straw man.”

    I clearly said that there was no evidence for God, & therefore, comparing it to gravity is invalid.

    What I’ve quoted is, ironically, a straw man of yours.

  24. Response to Michael.

    “Atheism has never been convincing to me. It is very selfish, lacks intellectual credibility, and falsely claims that it is based on science.”

    Atheism is based on selfishness. Without real love, then you are left with self. A simple deduction. Atheism does not have a basis to explain love which is eternal. In fact, without a transcendent principle, love is a mere figment of the imagination that becomes bond to changing chemical processes as you have already stated.

    How does Christianity stand as intellectually credible? Information informs matter and energy. This has been proven by the Intelligent Design proponents. The atheist don’t have a rational response to it yet. Look it up on YouTube! It is the lastest major controvery and atheist are struggling to respond. I haven’t heard a coherent refutation yet. Atheism has been left with a theory about the past might have occured; however, Christians have current evidence that demonstrate that the basis for matter and energy is mind.

    Atheism is really just another religion that is comparable to Hinduism or Budduism. It is a negative belief about reality rather than a positive one.

    I find a lot of anger amongst atheist. I can understand why…I think most of them have been betrayed by our current educational system that is not open-minded. In fact, the current educational system only allows Secularist the right to free speech on public property. This is unfortunate and very discriminatory. I think a lot of kids who are not loved at home get caught up in atheism because it fits their situational reality at home.

  25. Zdenny-Persistant, aren’t you?

    It’s not hard to debunk ID at all, actually. The assertion that, “It exists, therefore, it must be created,” when followed logically, would require an infinite number of creator creators. You follow me?

    Also: You’re the one slamming an entire minority group, & I’M the angry one? That’s a laugh.

  26. Lithp,

    Your debunking is not intellectually honest and I think you know that….I had a good laugh.

    Mind can be eternal and have always existed. You don’t need an infinite series of Creators since a mind can be eternal and uncaused.

    Classic Textbook mistake…

    In fact, information has to have always existed in order for the potential of creation to exist on a rational basis.

    The fact is though that ID is based on current observable evidence. It is not a theory anymore. This is what is getting under the atheist skin. God’s existence is a viable rational, intellectual and yes even scientific belief.

    I would recommend catching up with the times. You seem to still be living in the dark ages of Secular dominance from the 20th century. This is the 21st century and things are changing…again!

  27. No, a mind cannot be eternal and uncaused. And intelligent design never even got past the hypothesis stage.

    English, mother fucker, do you speak it?!

  28. There is nothing contradictory in saying that a mind has always existed.

    The proof would have to be restated:

    Your statement was: It exists, therefore, it must be created

    However, you mistated my argument. My argument is:

    If a finite thing exist, therefore, it must be caused.

    I am arguing that there is an infinite mind that exist so it escapes your criticism.

    In any event, you don’t have to get emotional about it. These are reasoned arguments and you should detach yourself from emotionalism in order to think more clearly.

    Information is not created, it has always been. The Big Bang model proves this. The universe which contains mass and energy had to be informed in order to exist. Mass and Energy do not create information; rather, only information can create mass and energy.

    I hope you can see how powerful the evidence is and why atheist are struggling within their very souls to answer it.

  29. Jim Gardner,

    I find your article actually lacking in evidential substance. Arguments from psychology are so flawed that no one really takes them seriously.

    In psychology, there are so many factors that comprise an individual’s experience, that is impossible on a naturalistic basis to understand why there are former Atheist.

    While you attempt to demonstrate a few reasons for their conversion, the reasons are very shallow and certainly unproven. It really doesn’t matter how many big words you use, you still end up with something that can not be explained from a pychological viewpoint.

    Psychology is the hardest discipline to follow because of the literally millions of pieces of information that goes into a every decision. The art is really beyond intellectual comprehension. The field is litered with conflicting theory that have meaningless impact on people.

    The attempt to reduce everything down to a simple formula actually comes across as a feeble attempt of a controlling personality who simply is mad at God for something that took place in their life.

    I would recommend Christianity as the cure. Instead of living life from a selfish standpoint trying to control people with simple formulas. You should really accept Christianity and begin to learn about the Love of God that is found in Christ Jesus.

    Instead of desiring to control people, you will feel liberated and wnat to empower people to live a life of love.

    The IRISH example is not about Christianity, it is about politics and should not be used since the Biblical truth is not being followed in that example.

    Christianity makes a big difference in my life and I wouldn’t want life to be any other way.

  30. So god exists because abunch of creatinoists changed the name of their ‘theory’ to intelligent design, and are still laughed at by over 95% of scientists, and athiests are dumb for wanting PROOF of a claim and not believing in your 16 inch penis and the invisible dragon in your garage because they’re “not empiracally testable”.

    Let me guess, the invisible dragon is “logically outside empricism’s scope of observation” because the invisible dragon said so?

  31. The ID movement does have observable evidence for its claims. Check out the video as it is now documented….

    http://zdenny.com/?p=684

    The ID movement and Creationist are really two different animals. The ID Movement does not rely on the Bible at all for its theories. ID is compatiable with both Theistic Evolution and Creationism, but it is hardly the same. However, Darwinism Evolution which has zero evidence will eventually be banned for lack of scientific proof.

    Regarding the 95% of scientist, that is no longer true. Check out http://zdenny.com/?p=669 and see how opinions are changing.

  32. ID & Creationism are the same thing:

    Deal with it.

    Also, stop regurgitating arguments you’ve undoubtedly heard from more intelligent debators. I’m not being “emotional,” & you’re not using “reason.” You have yet to provide ANY evidence that a “mind” is an infinite thing. Which it isn’t.

    Now you’re pulling the Atheists-Are-Just-Mad-At-God-Psychology-Be-Damned fallacy. That’s my good lolcow….

  33. The Ireland Example is really offensive to Bible believing Christians because the Bible says,

    This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. – 1 John 3:16-18

    Obviously the example of Ireland is a far departure from the truth of the Bible.

  34. Because I can’t edit & I didn’t notice it before, Zdenny:

    Your ONLY citation is YOUR OWN FUCKING BLOG.

    You are citing YOURSELF to prove some shit that YOU said.

    That’s even dumber than the time Jack Chick said cancer & AIDS were the same thing!

  35. Lithp

    I looked at your link. I had already seen that Youtube video in the past. The problem with the video is that it does not address ID theory at all.

    The video simply says that a publisher replaced words and come to the conclusion that they are one and the same.

    The video is simply dishonest. A ton of Creationist don’t like the ID movement because they are not Biblically based which is what a Christian should build their life on.

    The video was a marketing tool for ignorant folks who don’t really understand the debate. Typical propaganda that comes from Secularist who have the power to bend knowledge and confuse people.

    We really need an honest discussion rather than all this name calling and false information being bandied about.

  36. Because I can’t edit & I didn’t notice it before, Zdenny:
    Your ONLY citation is YOUR OWN BLOG.

    I have the YOUTUBE video on my blog…lol

    Your scared that you might learn something you don’t really want to hear.

  37. That’s right, the fact that a book on Creationism was changed in draft to a book on ID proves not that they’re the same thing, but that there’s a conspiracy.

    Uh-huh. Makes perfect sense.

    “We really need an honest discussion rather than all this name calling & false information being bandied about.”

    You’re the one who’s spouting shit on atheists being angry, selfish, etc. Save your self-righteous, hypocritical bullshit for someone who actually acknowledges you as worthy of debate. As I pointed out ages ago in this blog, you’re willfully ignorant. Debating with your ilk just doesn’t work.

    I prefer the much more amusing route of verbally abusing you & seeing how often you cry about me being a big ol’ meanie-head while occasionally proving quite flatly that you don’t know what the deuce you’re talking about.

    “Your scared that you might learn something you don’t really want to hear.”

    This coming from the guy who dismisses any proof against him as a conspiracy.

  38. Oh, & because my Grammar Naziism cannot go unappeased:

    Your=Possessive, as in your failure to use words properly.
    You’re=Contraction, as in you’re an idiot.

    Get it right next time, ‘kay?

  39. “There is no false dichotomy because love is not real if it changes. A chemical process can be altered or changed by natural selection in an atheistic worldview. As such, love is conditional based on the chemical process currently found in the biological structure of man. This chemical process can and will change as demanded by evolution.”

    You misunderstand false dichotomy. Another term for it is the ‘either or fallacy’. Basically when you present naturalist reductionism, and Christian creationism as the mutually exclusive and sole possible origins of ‘unconditional love’ (a concept I would actually like to see expounded upon here, rather than simply taken for granted) then you are using a fallacious argument.

    It may indeed be the case that conditional love does exist (although that hasn’t been demonstrated here) and that ‘atheists’ have no basis for it (again unsupported) but that does not necessarily lead to the christian God being the source of it. It may be that ‘unconditional love’ is a result of an undefined spiritualism inherent in man, or perhaps it is the work of Allah, or Bumba, or the great Flying Spaghetti Monster!

    “Atheism is based on selfishness. Without real love, then you are left with self. A simple deduction. Atheism does not have a basis to explain love which is eternal. In fact, without a transcendent principle, love is a mere figment of the imagination that becomes bond to changing chemical processes as you have already stated.”

    The basis of atheism is the assertion that supernatural deities or ‘Gods’ do not exist. Can you elucidate here how that assertion is inherently selfish? Also please demonstrate how ‘without love, then you are left with self'(sic). This seems to be a very confused contention with many undeclared assumptions (and by no means a ‘simple deduction’!)

    How does Christianity stand as intellectually credible? Information informs matter and energy. This has been proven by the Intelligent Design proponents. The atheist don’t have a rational response to it yet. Look it up on YouTube!

    Are you referring to the ‘Evolution Vs Information’ video on your blog? If so I have to say that although I understand creationists continuously referencing ‘The Big Bang’ as evidence for their position (when you are aware that a Christian originated it for precisely that purpose), there are many fatal flaws in the theory. Anybody who introduces their argument by referencing such a shaky idea as tbb is already on a slippery slope! Beyond that this Dr Meyer seems to be confusing the difference between how we process reality, and reality itself. In projecting a human mind and human thought processes onto the cosmos you are ultimately anthropomorphising the universe itself. A strange state of affairs!

    Atheism is really just another religion that is comparable to Hinduism or Budduism. It is a negative belief about reality rather than a positive one.

    Perhaps you would prefer the term ‘nontheism’? Do you really consider than non-belief is the same as belief?

  40. Wait…did he seriously suggest that love would simply stop due to “natural selection?”

    I believe the reiteration is obligatory at this point: ENGLISH, MOTHER FUCKER, DO YOU SPEAK IT?!

  41. “You misunderstand false dichotomy. Another term for it is the ‘either or fallacy’. Basically when you present naturalist reductionism, and Christian creationism as the mutually exclusive and sole possible origins of ‘unconditional love’ (a concept I would actually like to see expounded upon here, rather than simply taken for granted) then you are using a fallacious argument.

    It may indeed be the case that conditional love does exist (although that hasn’t been demonstrated here) and that ‘atheists’ have no basis for it (again unsupported) but that does not necessarily lead to the christian God being the source of it. It may be that ‘unconditional love’ is a result of an undefined spiritualism inherent in man, or perhaps it is the work of Allah, or Bumba, or the great Flying Spaghetti Monster!”

    – The idea behind your argument is that the idea of God is a vacuous term. You have already prejudged the argument by arguing from Secularist premises. For Secularist, the term God is vacuous by definition so love cannot be defined on a transcendent basis.
    – In order to resolve your argument, you have to take each worldview and understand it on its own merits.
    – Atheism by definition does not believe in the existence of some transcent, eternal love. In order for real love to have existence on its own, it has to have a ground outside of our experience that we participate in. The idea of transcendence would destroy Atheism.

    – Christianity by definition depends on a transcendent basis of God which grounds the idea of true love. This is the ground that Atheism lacks.

    Conclusion: The conclusion is accurate to compare the two worldview and say that Christianity is a much superior belief system if virtue determines the degree of goodness for it’s system. The argument does not seek to prove the existence of God, it simply is arguing that when compared, Christians are able to really love their children and Atheist have nothing to compel to love their children.

    The argument is valid. It is not an either/or fallacy. An honest atheist would have to argue that chemicals are responsible for the appearance of love; however, chemicals compositions can change and no person should be have to be responsible to care for their children.

    Christianity is by far superior to Atheism as a religion because Christianity has a ground for love, namely God. Atheism does not have a ground for love other than an accident of chemicals that can be changed in order to obtain a different result. Natural selection at any time could determine that the chemical that create the emotion of love can change. As a result, an atheist is under no requirement to actually love their children.

    In fact, it could be argued that it is impossible for an Atheist to love their children.

  42. Are you referring to the ‘Evolution Vs Information’ video on your blog? If so I have to say that although I understand creationists continuously referencing ‘The Big Bang’ as evidence for their position (when you are aware that a Christian originated it for precisely that purpose), there are many fatal flaws in the theory. Anybody who introduces their argument by referencing such a shaky idea as tbb is already on a slippery slope! Beyond that this Dr Meyer seems to be confusing the difference between how we process reality, and reality itself. In projecting a human mind and human thought processes onto the cosmos you are ultimately anthropomorphising the universe itself. A strange state of affairs!

    Once again, Creationist and Intelligent Design are two different animals. If you study them, you will discover this on your own. Creationist hold to the Bible. Intelligent Design on the other hand rejects the use of the Bible and is both philosophically based and scientifically based. If you actually watch the video, you will discover that they have observable evidence for their position which they demonstrate. Darwinian’s still don’t have any evidence.

    Your idea of anthorpomorphising is rather strange because that means to describe God in the same way that man exists. The definition is the wrong usage of the word. God is by definition infinite and man is finite. The word simply cannot be used since only an infinite mind could contain the reality of the universe. Man’s mind can only contain ideas. A concrete reality that has real subsistent existence is very different than the mind of man.

    I also find it interesting that you are throwing the Big Bang theory out the window. All the evidence we have demonstrates that it is true. I guess you are not willing to really rationally consider the evidence.

    I appreciate your thoughtful response though. In my experience, Atheist generally argue from emotion rather than with reason. I have always found this disturbing…

  43. “The argument is valid. It is not an either/or fallacy. An honest atheist would have to argue that chemicals are responsible for the appearance of love; however, chemicals compositions can change and no person should be have to be responsible to care for their children.”

    You still don’t get it. It is a false dichotomy because there are alternative explanations to the two you posit. Given that you have still not established anything approaching a concept of ‘unconditional’ or ‘transcendental’ love it is odd that you persist with this argument.

    “In fact, it could be argued that it is impossible for an Atheist to love their children.”

    Ugh, how distasteful. Do you really believe this?

  44. “Your idea of anthorpomorphising is rather strange because that means to describe God in the same way that man exists. The definition is the wrong usage of the word. God is by definition infinite and man is finite. The word simply cannot be used since only an infinite mind could contain the reality of the universe. Man’s mind can only contain ideas. A concrete reality that has real subsistent existence is very different than the mind of man.”

    Again you misunderstand. To anthropomorphise a thing, is to ascribe human characteristics and motivations to it. The idea of the universe as a mind is this personification in its’ grandest sense. The usage of the word is correct in the context of the video.

    “I also find it interesting that you are throwing the Big Bang theory out the window. All the evidence we have demonstrates that it is true. I guess you are not willing to really rationally consider the evidence.”

    All evidence demonstrates that it is true? Perhaps you would like to suggest some of this evidence, and I could then counter something other than a dismissive generalisation. As for me being unwillingly to rationally consider evidence; One, please produce some and two, that is mighty ironic considering the source!

    “I appreciate your thoughtful response though. In my experience, Atheist generally argue from emotion rather than with reason. I have always found this disturbing…”

    Ditto for myself and the religious.

  45. “Perhaps you would prefer the term ‘nontheism’? Do you really consider than non-belief is the same as belief?”

    Your argument concerning a non-belief is basically true since no person should actually believe atheism if they are a rational person.

    However, it is true that some do take atheism seriously; as such, it is adviseable to discount a negative belief that only reacts against something and has nothing positive to offer to humanity. Does Atheism offer love, hope or even a future?

    We know that the earth, sun and eventually the whole universe will cease to exist. If you are Atheist, you are without hope in a very cold world that will eventually come to an end.

    The basic fact of life is that the existence of life will come to an end unless there is a life-giver who is able to sustain it.

  46. “You still don’t get it. It is a false dichotomy because there are alternative explanations to the two you posit. Given that you have still not established anything approaching a concept of ‘unconditional’ or ‘transcendental’ love it is odd that you persist with this argument.

    “In fact, it could be argued that it is impossible for an Atheist to love their children.”

    Ugh, how distasteful. Do you really believe this?

    I really do believe that Atheist don’t love their children. It is cruel to bring a child into the world and then tell them that their life is meaningless, they are an accident and that they are just an animal. In addition, it is cruel to not provide hope for them especially when we have evidential basis for the resurrection of Jesus Christ that would pass any court in the U.S.

    One your second point about dichotomy, can you come up with another system that is historically based. Christianity is the only religion grounded in historical fact where God demonstrated his love towards us. At the heart of Christianity is a God who loved us so much that he sought to save us from an eternal future without Him.

    If you can think of another religion that centers itself on the concept of God loving humanity, I would love to hear it…As a student of world religions, I just never have seen one.

  47. Mike says:

    “To anthropomorphise a thing, is to ascribe human characteristics and motivations to it. The idea of the universe as a mind is this personification in its’ grandest sense. The usage of the word is correct in the context of the video.”

    I’m not disagreeing, anthropomorphization is a very interesting topic. There’s an accepted name for anthropomorphization as a formal fallacy—it’s in the same vein as “reification” I think. Excellent point, but there are more doors open than closed. To accuse someone of “anthropomorphization” can be a self-defeating accusation, because it reifies the myth that an anthropomorphizing agent (the accuser himself) can obtain some sovereign, anterior, perspective (knowledge of the “thing-itself”). Likewise, a rational theist can easily counter that to accuse someone’s perceptual deductions of being anthropomorphically-biased denies that those perceptions are not independent of the phenomena they observe, in such a way that the phenomenal and the subjective are tuned to one another. So as long as God isn’t Barbie, or white hippie Jesus, for a rational theist it could be perfectly fair and reasonable to assign certain human traits to this “God” non-linguistic abyss thingy.

    “All evidence demonstrates that it is true? Perhaps you would like to suggest some of this evidence.”

    Cosmic background radiation, neutrino’s, the elemental composition of stars* (via spectral analysis), the rate of universal expansion/acceleration… Tons of empirical data, and none of it fits with the oscillating model of the expansion of the universe (infinitude), but rather suggests eternal diffusion/accelerating expansion. (*Stars are created in nuclear generations. Creation of the universe = all hydrogen = all hydrogen stars = first gen stars all hydrogen. As stars repeatedly spend their fuel and collapse, the pressure of collapse creates new elements, elements that become heavier with each successive collapse. However, analysis of the elements of even the oldest (reddest) stars shows them to only be about four generations into the cycle of formation-radiation-collapse.)

    Personally, I think the eternal expansion model plays with your head a heck of a lot more than the oscillating model, mainly because there’s a terminal point when either/both the available fuel for new stars has been spent, or gravity cannot overcome the rate of expansion in order to condense matter into new stars. So much for the *infinite* comforts of the hippie-reincarnation cosmology…

  48. Re: Unconditional Love

    Love without regard for what you are is love without regard for who you are. An unconditional love for Joe would mean a love for Joe which would be undiminished and unaffected by the substitution of any of Joe’s personal attributes with the personal attributes of Jane–up to and including the replacement of all of Joe’s attributes. It is, thus, an impersonal abstraction wherein the object of affection is wholly interchangeable with any other. It is odd to call such a thing “love” considering how little it resembles what we would normally mean by the word.

    And of what use is love if its only manifestations are indistinguishable from imagined love?

    And if a loving god passes judgement and inflicts eternal torture as punishment (say, for the crime of failing to worship a god which supposedly cannot be harmed by any such lack of worship) isn’t that being conditional? If one takes the position that he loves his children without limit even as he casts them into his neverending torture pit, what sort of love is that which is compatible with infinite child abuse? Of what worth is that sort of love to anyone at all?

    re: evidence for Big Bang

    1. Cosmic background radiation

    Some early Bang proponents thought that remnants of an early energetic phase would still be visible, and others thought it would no longer be visible. The Big Bang hypothesis would have been compatible with either outcome. The CMBR is certainly suggestive of an early energetic phase, but it seems a bit early to be concluding it is impossible for any other phenomenon to be the source, and that it would be incompatible with any possible alternate theory (I’m pretty sure quantum loop Big Bounce cosmology would also be quite comfortable with an early energetic phase).

    2. the elemental composition of stars* (via spectral analysis)

    The last I heard, galactic surveys for galaxies going back about 6 billion years were showing roughly the same ratios of heavy to light elements as is found today (BB cosmology predicts increasing proportions of heavy elements).

    2a. Creation of the universe = all hydrogen = all hydrogen stars = first gen stars all hydrogen.

    And how long would it take an all-hydrogen star to deplete its supply of hydrogen to form a white dwarf? Care to guess how far back we’ve been able to find Type 1A supernovas?

    3. Tons of empirical data, and none of it fits with the oscillating model of the expansion of the universe

    The disproof of theory J does not establish the truth of theory Q.

    4. …but rather suggests eternal diffusion/accelerating expansion.

    So the BB theory predicted accelerating expansion? I don’t remember that at all. In fact, I specifically remember that being one of the points on which Steady State theory was ridiculed, as steady proportional expansion would imply accelerating separation velocities, and it had no proposed mechanism for the force which would be needed to overcome gravity to accomplish this. Indeed, accelerating expansion poses a bit of a problem if you hold that the background radiation is from primordial photons, because accelerating expansion implies a visible horizon beyond which no earlier photons will ever reach us.

    We’ve had many versions of the Big Bang hypothesis, and I expect we will have many more. It may be that the truth is tolerably close to one of these present or future versions, but given the many surprises and failed predictions of the past, the many mystery problems remaining, and the unknown number of alternate scenarios which we may yet think up, I see no compelling need to commit to BB belief at this point and time. I await further developments with interest.

  49. I get the feeling that Zdenny doesn’t know a single atheist.

    If he does, he probably thinks all atheists persecute Christians ’cause someone punched him for saying they were evil & unfeeling. :P

  50. Cosmic background radiation

    Food for thought on this; in the 1920s a man named Sir Arthur Eddington calculated the minimum temperature which a body in space could cool to whilst it is constantly absorbing the radiation emitted by distant stars. He predicted a temperature of around 2.8K, a figure which closely matches the actual observed background temperature of space. (2.7 K, as measured by Penzias & Wilson in 1964.) In contrast, temperatures predicted by various ‘Big Bang’ theorists had a range of 5 – 50K. This failure to accurately predict the background temperature according to the concept of big bang decoupling, when contrasted with the accuracy of predictions based on thermalization from distant energy sources, seems to lend credence to the latter.
    You then also have to contend with other issues, such as the fact that the level of radiation emitted from distant sources such as a galaxy decreases in proportion to increasing wavelengths. This implies a scattering, or absorption of effect by intermediate galactic material which would lead to a non-uniform spectrum of radiation, unless that radiation was emitted from the intergalactic medium rather than from beyond the galaxies themselves. Just think about this way, does it really make sense for background radiation to have originated in a ‘decoupling’ period post big bang to be multidirectional, uniform, and still bathing galaxies which, failing faster than light expansion, it should have ‘outrun’ eons ago? Or does it seem more likely that actual sources of microwave radiation, such as galaxies and stars themselves, might be the culprit?

    neutrino’s

    Are you referring to the BBT’s insistence that neutrinos originated in the big bang should be bathing us in a cbr type manner, or its later suggestion that they behave like waves (unlike electrons, neutrons, protons and other supposed big bang particles) to account for their non-detection from anything other than local sources?

    Or are you referring to the unfounded and unobserved suggestion of ‘massive neutrinos (30ev to as high as 2500MeV, rather than below 10ev!) suggested by big bang proponents to counteract the fatally low density of the universe for the purposes of that theory?

    the elemental composition of stars* (via spectral analysis) (*Stars are created in nuclear generations. Creation of the universe = all hydrogen = all hydrogen stars = first gen stars all hydrogen. As stars repeatedly spend their fuel and collapse, the pressure of collapse creates new elements, elements that become heavier with each successive collapse. However, analysis of the elements of even the oldest (reddest) stars shows them to only be about four generations into the cycle of formation-radiation-collapse.)

    Nick made some good points about this. I would however like to talk about your mention of the stellar cycle in the creation of heavy elements. As you mention, heavy elements as detected in our solar system, as well as elsewhere in the universe, would have required more than one cycle to form.

    With this in mind, the Hubble constant based on observations of distant galaxies has been confirmed at 80km/sec/megaparsec. This suggests an age of a flat big bang universe of around 8 billion years. Now given the need for stars to form, radiate, collapse/explode, and then disperse and reform in order to create the heavier elements, and then your own mention of ‘early’ stars being already in their fourth generation, doesn’t that suggest an age of the universe far in advance of that suggested by the big bang? (In fact there are globular clusters which predate the big bang all on their own!)

    the rate of universal expansion/acceleration… Tons of empirical data, and none of it fits with the oscillating model of the expansion of the universe (infinitude), but rather suggests eternal diffusion/accelerating expansion.

    I apologise, but this is all rather vague. Firstly, any uniform universal expansion has not been established, much less a rate which would confirm the big bang theory. Secondly, the big bang would seem to predict a deceleration in expansion beyond a certain point, at least that is what most adherents seem to propose rather than your suggested acceleration. Certainly this doesn’t seem as salient as the points above I have already countered.

  51. (Z) “…some do take atheism seriously; as such, it is adviseable to discount a negative belief that only reacts against something and has nothing positive to offer to humanity”

    The question of whether a belief has anything to offer is irrelevant to the question of whether the belief is actually true. And my favorite definition of a cognizant atheist is one who can truthfully answer “no” to the question, “do you believe in one or more gods?” (It is possible to be an incognizant atheist if one has no idea what a god is.) Atheism only exists as a concept because of the existence of theism, so it seems a tad disingenuous to criticize a term merely for having the distinct properties it was defined to have–assuming “negative belief” denotes a generic lack of belief. If by “negative belief” you are referring to the belief that all gods have the same status as myth, that would be positive both in the sense of something posited (put forward) and in the sense of an affirmation of a proposition. Theists, of course, can deny this proposition, but the mere fact of disagreement wouldn’t make theism a negative belief system any more than atheism is.

    (Z) “It is cruel to bring a child into the world and then tell them that their life is meaningless, they are an accident and that they are just an animal.”

    Far better to tell them stories about the loving wrath of an insane god who created them either to be eternal worship slaves endlessly flattering his forever-insatiable ego, or to face pain beyond even momentary endurance for neverending eons.

    (Z) “it is cruel to not provide hope for them especially when we have evidential basis for the resurrection of Jesus Christ that would pass any court in the U.S.”

    Provided the juries are cherry-picked Bible-believers. That really says more about the sorry state of the US justice system than it does about any putative claims regarding this supposed Bible-Jesus. First show there ever was such a person, then we can talk about whether there was any resurrection.

    (Z) “The basic fact of life is that the existence of life will come to an end unless there is a life-giver who is able to sustain it.”

    Even if granted, that does not establish the existence of said life-giver.

    (Z) “At the heart of Christianity is a God who loved us so much that he sought to save us from an eternal future without Him.”

    The heart of Christianity is wishfulness for personal immortality and bliss without end. All else is the props, ornamentation, and convolutions needed to render it plausible to the credulous mind.

  52. Nick, stop persecuting Zdenny![/snark]

    Seriously, that’s all well & good, but you know he’s just going to pick a few lines out of your comment & horribly twist & mangle them to make you look unpatriotic/hate-filled/anti-Christian/narcoleptic/whatever. I would be interested if this guy could muster up so much as a single rational argument, but as it stands, all we have is him recounting horror stories about atheism undoubtedly told to him by his pastor.

    Well, here’s my half-assed contribution: Atheism is simply lack of belief in gods or goddesses. Lots of things are atheistic without even expressing such a belief. Most animals, young children, etc. Only when you start to think about the possibilities do you start attaching labels to yourself, such as Christian, Wiccan, Muslim, atheist, etcetera.

    This black & white Fundie mentality is absurd. Atheism isn’t a bleak & hopeless philosophy that destroys all love & basic human decency whenever someone “converts” to it. It’s just lack of belief in deities. That’s it.

    Similarly, that the sun will eventually go out isn’t good or bad, it just IS. In fact, I find Zdenny’s “don’t get so emotional” line quite ironic, considering all of his arguments are emotional appeals, which he lets get between him & understanding of science, nature, & even other people.

  53. (L) “…you know he’s just going to pick a few lines out of your comment & horribly twist & mangle them…”

    I’m not familiar with him, so I had no real expectations. But if he chooses to put that sort of behavior on display for all to see, I’ve definitely got no problem with that.

    (L) “Atheism is simply lack of belief in gods or goddesses.”

    Unfortunately, there is no universal consensus for what atheism means, so we just have to make the best sense of it we can. The “mere lack of belief” definition seems to be the dominant preference in alt.atheism, and there is a decent etymological case to be made for it, but to me it seems overly broad. I wouldn’t ascribe atheism to a chair, or paperweight, or newborn, or a Christian who was knocked unconscious. My feeling is that it should only denote the lack of god belief in a conscious mind capable of such belief, but that’s just my preference. Of course, theists have come up with many creatively disparaging definitions for atheists, but if a definition doesn’t describe me, then it simply doesn’t apply to me.

    It also doesn’t really bother me when Christians represent themselves as ex-atheists, but I do wonder why they do it. When I acknowledge having once been a Christian, that is partly to establish that I have familiarity with the basics of Christianity and I’ve already heard the “good news”, so we can skip all that, and it is partly an advertisement that I have made the transition from theist to atheist, so that is an area where I have some experience and knowledge. But Christians who claim to have been atheists usually seem to have some sort of amnesia about what that was like, and how they made the transition, except for two recurring narratives: One is the story of personal self-absorption and hedonistic addictions usually culminating in a vision of Jesus (after dropping eight hits of acid following a week of flying high as a kite) after which comes the conversion to a life of personal self-absorption and addiction of a different sort. The other is the story of the phenomenal miracle intervention “God made a personal demonstration of his existence to me, so that’s why you should believe without any such direct intervention in your own life.” One would imagine that God’s chosen messengers would have a more compelling argument or sales pitch to offer.

  54. I have browsed the internet. I have been asshole everywhere from YouTube to Yahoo Answers to places that shall remain unnamed.

    Plus, he’s totally already doing it. Not believing in Jesus=Being hopeless & angry. WTF?

    So…I would be completely unsurprised if he started doing the same damn thing, but on a personal level.

    As for atheism, it’s pretty cut-&-dry. A, meaning “not” + theism, meaning “belief in deities.” Only humans who actively think about these sorts of things attach the label to themselves or others.

    However, I do agree with your “When I Was a Nonbeliever” thing. Oftentimes, those stories are just so ridiculously exaggerated that there’s no way they could possibly be true. Mike Warnke (lol wanker lol) & his bullshit story about being in a Satanic cult with 15 thousand people, one of whom was Charles Manson, comes to mind.

    I’d challenge Zdenny about Evangelical Christians propogating such lies for personal profit & to make minority groups look evil but, (A) he’s already doing it, & (B) I bet I’ll just get, “Well, they aren’t REAL Christians.”

  55. Oh, damn it all, but I suppose this is what happens when you don’t get enough sleep:

    The “Challenge Zdenny…” line refers to his claim that God is the basis for love. Similar arguments could be made that atheists have no morality, because they have no “basis” for it, besides personal opinion.

    However, in Warnke (lol wanker lol), we see quite clearly how false these arguments are. Without resorting to a No True Scotsman fallacy, there is just no way around the fact that he’s a Christian and also a liar.

    His immaculate moral basis wasn’t so immaculate afterall.

  56. All:

    Excellent, respectful discussion!

    Contemporary cosmology has changed greatly in only the last fifteen years or so, and the empirical data DOES support the acceleration/energy-of-vacuum model and no longer supports any groundwork for suggesting the oscillating (expansion/contraction) model. The fact that so many people still think that, “any uniform universal expansion has not been established, much less a rate which would confirm the big bang theory. Secondly, the big bang would seem to predict a deceleration in expansion beyond a certain point, at least that is what most adherents seem to propose rather than your suggested acceleration,” is more a vestige of oscillation model-thinking. However, fifteen years is still relatively recent, let alone enough time for public preconceptions to catch up with emergent scientific theories. Still, I can’t stress enough the degree to which the oscillation model has been contradicted by consistent empirical data supporting the acceleration model. Like I suggested, people tend to like the oscillation model because it supports mythological ways of looking at metaphysics in terms of things regeneratively being-dying-becoming, not withstanding that the scale of such a regeneration is far beyond the temporal scale of a human being’s lifespan…

    The thing with modern cosmology is basically that seemingly separate empirical inquiries consistently suggest 1) acceleration 2) a common, single origin or initial event. Whether or not someone wants to presuppose some agency in that event is a matter of choice, but more importantly, it is not the province of physics to affirm or deny something that is logically beyond its framework of inquiry. CBR, neutrinos, star composition, the base universal temp. (thanks to whoever put that one up, I’d forgotten about it, and it’s another big piece of Big Bang evidence), etc., are all completely separate phenomenal inquiries supporting a consistent acceleration/big bang conclusion. The fact that models—which are inherently speculative given the magnitude of the inquiry—don’t quite fit the empirical data, does not negate that such a model may exist when more data is available (that’s precisely what the particle collider in Europe is meant to mitigate). And to say that the theory is wrong based on alternatives is highly pseudo-scientific and a quasi-religious denial.) C’mon, I thought it was the anti-evo crowd whose argument was to deny a theory because—oh no!—theories are subject to constant modification.) While the idiosyncracies at the quantum level provide a lot of food for thought, to assert the quantum-loop theory presupposes a theory itself over empirical data, and, quite frankly, in harmony with some bias social attitude coming from Atheist/New-age philosophy. In other words, it puts a theory before empirical data, where theories are posterior—theories come *after* data. Theories are purely contingent to local observation.

    Anyway, there’s a lot of finer points in the above comments that are simply not true. But it is sunny, so I can only reiterate what the “facts” are and leave it to whomever to do further investigation with their local astronomy prof. Keepin’ it simple: CBR is observable and suggests a common universal origin. Neutrino’s are kind of weird because they start crossing over into the sub-particle level, into a level that is still very murky—however, their behavior consistently coincides with experiments dealing with CBR. The elemental composition of stars produces heavier elements with each successive generation—supernovas produce the most heavy elements—and analysis of the elements via spectral analysis consistently yields the conclusion that most stars are in [something like] their fourth generation. The unobservable but infer-able behavior of dark energy/energy of vacuum supports the acceleration model. Thousands of nerds are busily combing all incoming data to explain why the net measure of energy in the universe is so skewed by a side of the equation that we have yet to even explain or even directly observe. Hubble observations (via doppler analysis) conclusively demonstrate that galaxies are not decelerating, or statically drifting, but actually accelerating (and remember, acceleration is a rate of change, not just “speed”). All of these are independent points of inquiry involving highly heterogeneous disciplines. Mathematical deviations between predictions about the age of the universe are inevitable, but, as in every past example, these are due to either a lack of empirical data or the insufficiency of past mathemagical models. Science is not about absolute truth, it is about correlating evidence. Ignoring subatomic quandaries for the moment, from a scientific perspective you simply cannot deny that the data points to a common universal origin, even as merely the authoritative default line of reasoning, without abandoning the constraining disciplinary principles of science.

    With that, get back to the usual quibbling about playing with definitions and pretending that the circular definition of “Atheism” is that it has none (whaaa??), or that it is not an affirmative denial of a certain possibility which bears its own, quite heavy burden of proof, or that this burden of proof has little to nothing to do with empirical data, or that it relies on an extinct notion of naturally-derived logic, or that we should not all just go outside, drink, and be merry!!! Hazahh!

    Excellent, civil, and laud-worthy comments, by the way. Cheers.

  57. “The fact that so many people still think that, “any uniform universal expansion has not been established, much less a rate which would confirm the big bang theory. Secondly, the big bang would seem to predict a deceleration in expansion beyond a certain point, at least that is what most adherents seem to propose rather than your suggested acceleration,” is more a vestige of oscillation model-thinking.”

    To clarify, I subscribe to neither the ‘oscillation model’ ‘expansion model’ or any form of ‘Big Bang Theory’ (closed, open etc). The whole idea of the ‘Big Bang’ was originated by a catholic priest called Georges Lemaître and as you would expect from a theory of physics proposed by a theologist it is shot full of holes. The steady state theory is a more viable proposition based on what is actually observed, whereas the BBT requires a great many adjustments and ad hoc explanations which are just not justifiable.

    As for definitions of ‘Atheism’, I don’t know who here as claimed here ‘that it has none’, it is the position that there is no such thing as a deity. The burden of proof, at least on an atheist/secular humanist’s blog, actually lies with the commenter postulating a claim for God, not those espousing the commonly held view that there is no such thing!

  58. (SG) “Contemporary cosmology has changed greatly in only the last fifteen years or so, and the empirical data DOES support the acceleration/energy-of-vacuum model”

    Proposals of accelerating expansion, vacuum energy, (and related sub-proposals involving virtual particles) may be consistent with the data, but that doesn’t mean they are the only possible theories which are consistent with the data. And those particular proposals don’t, of themselves, warrant a reverse extrapolation to crunching the entire universe into a pinpoint.

    (SG) “and no longer supports any groundwork for suggesting the oscillating (expansion/contraction) model.

    You appear to be stuck on the idea that there are only two possibilities, and any evidence against one counts as evidence for the other.

    (SG) “I can’t stress enough the degree to which the oscillation model has been contradicted by consistent empirical data supporting the acceleration model.”

    Both of those used to be merely different schools of thought within Big Bang cosmology–the division resting primarily on the question of how fast universal expansion was slowing–which was thought to be tied to the total mass of the universe. Neither side predicted accelerating expansion, so both got it wrong, but the open-ended camp was closer, so they claimed victory for their model of the Big Bang. That in no way constitutes evidence for the Bang itself.

    (SG) “Like I suggested, people tend to like the oscillation model because it supports mythological ways of looking at metaphysics in terms of things regeneratively being-dying-becoming,”

    Humans will find a way to adapt mythology to fit any model. Bang cosmology fits with traditional Christian creation ex-nihilo. M-brane multiverses fit with Mormon theology. Whatever the truth turns out to be, there will be some camp of theologians all smug about having got to the peak of that mountain before science.

    (SG) “The thing with modern cosmology is basically that seemingly separate empirical inquiries consistently suggest 1) acceleration”

    Again, this was also part of Steady State cosmology, and no telling how many other models it could be incorporated into. Bang cosmology did not predict this. It adapted to it after the fact, just as it would have done for steady inertial expansion. If all three outcomes (slowing, accelerating, neither) can be consistent with Bang cosmology, then none of them can be counted as evidence for it.

    (SG) “2) a common, single origin or initial event.”

    I’ll be more accepting of that when matter infiltration has been demonstrated impossible.
    And was there anything besides the CBR which supposedly supported that?

    (SG)…it is not the province of physics to affirm or deny something that is logically beyond its framework of inquiry.

    I’ll go along with that. Just as I think it is not the province of supernaturalism to meddle in matters of science.

    (SG) “The fact that models—which are inherently speculative given the magnitude of the inquiry—don’t quite fit the empirical data, does not negate that such a model may exist when more data is available”

    Quite so. But at this point, we don’t know what that model will look like. It could be radically unlike anything we’ve considered so far.

    (SG) “And to say that the theory is wrong based on alternatives is highly pseudo-scientific and a quasi-religious denial.”

    I missed the part where someone did that.

    (SG) “C’mon, I thought it was the anti-evo crowd whose argument was to deny a theory because—oh no!—theories are subject to constant modification.”

    If that was directed at me, I only said that I see no compelling need to commit to BB belief at this point and time. That’s not a denial. I even granted that the truth may be close to some version of Bang cosmology. I just think there are still many problems which need to be addressed.

    (SG) “to assert the quantum-loop theory presupposes a theory itself over empirical data”

    I pointed out that one piece of data could be held consistent with a competing non-Bang model. At no point did I assert the truth of quantum loop cosmology.

    (SG) “The unobservable but infer-able behavior of dark energy/energy of vacuum supports the acceleration model.”

    Dark energy, like dark matter, is mostly a placeholder term for some correction factor needed to bring our formulas in line with an unruly and uncooperative reality. We don’t even know whether each term represents a single unknown phenomenon or dozens. (The dark matter distribution needed to iron out the galactic rotation problem, for example, is a rather peculiar doughnut shape–suggesting yet another mystery patch will be needed to account for that.)

    (SG) “Hubble observations (via doppler analysis) conclusively demonstrate that galaxies are not decelerating, or statically drifting, but actually accelerating”

    I concur that the bulk of present observations appear to be more consistent with acceleration than deceleration or inertial stasis. But that raises more questions than it answers, and I see most Bang cosmologists are still resisting extending the (seeming) present acceleration beyond 5 to 7 billion years ago, but I don’t know if that’s based on evidence, or a remnant commitment to the earlier presupposition of slowing expansion.

    But more to the point is the question of whether Hubble observations are consistent with the Bang scenario itself. For me, it was the deep field images which solidified my suspicions that something in the Bang model was going wrong. The problems were addressed with more patches, of course, but those are never as convincing as actual successful predictions. At some point, it has to be asked how many failed predictions a model should be allowed to have.

    (SG) “With that, get back to the usual quibbling about playing with definitions and pretending that the circular definition of “Atheism” is that it has none (whaaa??), or that it is not an affirmative denial of a certain possibility which bears its own, quite heavy burden of proof,”

    I didn’t follow what you meant about the definition of atheism being circular.

    But even though I may take the position that atheism is the (conscious) lack of belief in any gods (which itself bears no burden), I do totally accept that there can be a belief that there are no gods (a belief I happen to hold) which strictly implies atheism (while being something else itself) and that such a belief would carry the same generic burden as any other propositional affirmation. I’ve got no problem with that at all.

  59. Christianity is not based on emotion. It is rather based on both indirect internal evidence similar to our evidence we have for gravity as well as the fact that something exist.

    Atheism is actually a belief that is based on emotion. The previous individual stated it very well when he said that atheism means no belief. However, a non-belief in reality is the same as denying that something exist.

    Atheism is a logical contradiction and therefore is impossible. Atheism may be true if something did not exist; however, since something exists, atheism is not a valid belief system.

    If one considers the Biblical evidence alone, the conclusion would always be that the ressurection of Christ did take place. The evidence is sufficient for a court based on its own merits. However, if a person pre-judges Christianity from the standpoint of non-belief, then it is impossible to believe that anything is true.

    The problem is that a non-belief in reality is contradictory to start with. The idea of judging Christianity from the basis of a non-belief is an invalid method and rejected by all U.S. Courts since nothing could be true or false.

    In fact, it is impossible to even believe that atheism is true.

    The logical is really inescapable.

  60. Post-modernist have discovered that reason itself has to be transcendent in order for something to be known. Atheism as a result has taken a huge blow on the popular intellectual level.

    If an atheist uses reason to argue for the truth of something, he is forced to admit that reason exists outside of our experience. If reason is unchanging principle, then obviously it has to exist outside our experience since everything in our experience is changing. Since reason exists outside of our experience, an atheist has just admited to the existence of God.

    I always have to smile when an atheist claims to hold to reason as a final authority because the grounds for reason being transcendent is the ground that establishes the existence of God.

    If an atheist attempts to change the argument from reason to science, then he runs into another problem because science which studies cause and effect relationships holds a very narrow view of reality. Cause and effect relationships on a psychological level or at the sub-atomic level cannot be known. Since the sub-atomic level is the foundation for all of reality, it has to be concluded that reality cannot be known.

    While an atheist may be very convinced that he is correct, the fact is that it is really based on emotion since the appeal to reason destroys atheism and the appeal to science leads to ignorance.

    I believe it is a silly notion to think that atheism could be true. I respect people who are atheist; however, I see them as emotive thinkers rather than critical thinkers.

  61. The fact that the Big Bang Theory lends possible empirical evidence for theological ideas like causa sui, causal teleology (Aquinas and his successors), or what have you, has nothing to do with it as a scientific theory. Your disagreement with a majority of scientific opinion is a better example of a social movement—secular zeitgeist—skewing public perception of formal science. You are imposing the language games of a social movement (Atheism) on a mode of inquiry that has no interest in human constructs (in so far as that is possible, but anyway…) Honestly. I’m not a graduate level astronomy or physics student, but I have done coursework in the field and if you really believe in these “alternative theories” (which only beg the question of the rise of quasi-religious string theory, and the fall-out after its dismissal), then bring them to your local astronomy professor, because much of what you are saying is simply false.

    I’m not trying to slam the door here, I’m just pointing out that things like causality (in terms of prior mechanisms) or metaphysics are the province of philosophy. Science can neither affirm or deny the existence of non-existence of things which are neither within its logical scope of inquiry, nor anything but socio-political antagonisms that precipitate these novel and highly speculative “empirical meta-theories.” If in fact the Big Bang can be affirmed has nothing to do with assigning some agency to that event, or using it as some hinge for signifying the “other.” The struggle to understand the Big Bang, as a theory or a hypothesis, seems to have much more to do with first deconstructing the concepts we might impose on such an event, the underlying assumptions they carry, and whether or not those assumptions have any currency with a hypothetical “reality.” And we might start by doing away with the prevailing, juveno-philiac, and highly consumerist idea of personal infinitude that suffuses our culture. Because the biggest threat that the Big Bang imposes on the human psyche is the realization of finitude—not just our’s, but that of the entire universe. (Quentin Meillesoux’s “After Finitude” is a fairly good example of the childish and nihilistic response to the whole finitude thing.)

  62. (Z) “Christianity is not based on emotion. It is rather based on both indirect internal evidence similar to our evidence we have for gravity as well as the fact that something exist.”

    And this would be the same basis underlying all the competing theistic religions? If so, then what does Christianity have to commend its truth over all the others? If not, then why hasn’t Christianity proved as broadly evident and convincing to mankind as, per your example, gravity?

    (Z) “a non-belief in reality is the same as denying that something exist.”

    In the vast constellation of possible propositions, most humans will only ever commit to the truth or falsity of the most minuscule proportion of them, with no commitment either way on the rest. Do I believe in the existence of silicon-based extraterrestrial life forms? No. Does that mean I am asserting that such things are impossible in the entirety of the universe? No.

    (Z) “Atheism is a logical contradiction and therefore is impossible.”

    It is funny how people who can casually accept miracles can also find the most mundane things impossible. Are you proposing that I am, in fact, a theist?

    (Z) “Atheism may be true if something did not exist; however, since something exists, atheism is not a valid belief system.”

    That would be an argument of the form:
    Something exists,
    therefore a god (or several) exists,
    therefore atheism is not valid.
    First problem, you need to flesh out the line of reasoning between step 1 and 2. Second problem, refraining from belief in a proposition which happens to be true is nonetheless justified in all instances where the rational case for belief in the proposition remains hidden or absent. I take the minority status of Christianity to be a significant indicator that no rationally compelling case for it has yet been made.

    (Z) “If one considers the Biblical evidence alone, the conclusion would always be that the ressurection of Christ did take place.”

    Or put another way, acceptance of Biblical text as being true would tend to lead to acceptance of Biblical text as being true. That’s a daring position to take, but I think you just might be able to pull it off.

    (Z) “However, if a person pre-judges Christianity from the standpoint of non-belief, then it is impossible to believe that anything is true.”

    And yet, it appears humans have routinely had judgements and beliefs in both times and places where Christianity didn’t exist.

    (Z) “The idea of judging Christianity from the basis of a non-belief is an invalid method and rejected by all U.S. Courts since nothing could be true or false.”

    U.S. criminal courts specifically reject and try to exclude prior belief regarding the guilt of the accused. Non-belief, in that respect, would appear to be a bedrock principle.

    (Z) “If an atheist uses reason to argue for the truth of something, he is forced to admit that reason exists outside of our experience.”

    Or rather, he necessarily takes the position that there is something objective about the particular truth he is arguing for. The line of reasoning itself can reside entirely in mental processes, entirely within our experience.

    (Z) If reason is unchanging principle, then obviously it has to exist outside our experience since everything in our experience is changing.

    The ways in which humans have reasoned have changed and evolved. And have we detected any real changes in the essential properties of matter? Or time? Or space? Or any of the forms of energy we are familiar with?

    (Z) Since reason exists outside of our experience, an atheist has just admited to the existence of God.

    And yet, somehow, this particular atheist has no awareness of having done so. Is belief in God as undetectable the god itself?

    (Z) “While an atheist may be very convinced that he is correct, the fact is that it is really based on emotion since the appeal to reason destroys atheism and the appeal to science leads to ignorance.”

    And in this curious looking-glass world of yours, I’m guessing science and the Endarkenment is what brought us down out of the Bright Ages.

  63. (SG) “Your disagreement with a majority of scientific opinion is a better example of a social movement…”

    The majority status of a given scientific opinion is itself a social artifact, and history is replete with examples of mistaken majority opinions. Popularity itself is not determinative.

    (SG) “…if you really believe in these “alternative theories” (which only beg the question of the rise of quasi-religious string theory, and the fall-out after its dismissal), then bring them to your local astronomy professor…”

    I didn’t see where either Michael or I expressed a belief in an alternate theory. Speaking for myself, I don’t have an alternate theory, but neither do I need one. Scientific propositions should be evaluated on their own merits, and it is entirely possible to observe that a model appears to be performing poorly without incurring any requirement to put forth an alternate model.

    And I know from experience where discussion with astronomers and Bang cosmologists will lead. They have nothing to offer to put my doubts to rest, and I have nothing to offer in the way of an alternative line of inquiry, so we ultimately just agree that further investigation is warranted.

    (SG) “because much of what you are saying is simply false.”

    Does any burden of demonstration attach to a claim like that?

    (SG) “I’m just pointing out that things like causality (in terms of prior mechanisms) or metaphysics are the province of philosophy. Science can neither affirm or deny the existence of non-existence of things which are neither within its logical scope of inquiry, nor anything but socio-political antagonisms that precipitate these novel and highly speculative “empirical meta-theories.”

    Oh. Is that all you are doing. My mistake. I somewhere got the impression you were proposing empirical evidence (I think someone mentioned “tons”) which demonstrates the Big Bang theory is true.

    But if all you are suggesting is that physics and metaphysics should be kept separate, then, um, sure. No argument here.

    (SG) “…we might start by doing away with the prevailing, juveno-philiac, and highly consumerist idea of personal infinitude that suffuses our culture. Because the biggest threat that the Big Bang imposes on the human psyche is the realization of finitude—not just our’s, but that of the entire universe.

    Three things I used to believe in: Santa Claus, Bible-Jesus-God, and the Big Bang. I didn’t discontinue believing in any of them because of any perceived sense of threat to my psyche. Mostly, I just drifted into skepticism regarding remarkable accounts which appeared to be poorly supported by evidence. I can easily accept a finite universe, particularly since I find it very difficult to wrap my head around infinite qualities–especially age. (To suggest an infinite amount of time passed before now is, to me, to suggest we never arrived at today–at least based on my limited experience of linear, unidirectional time.) Otherwise, I’ve got no dog in this fight, and I’m not invested in any particular outcome. But I no longer accept credulity-straining propositions as true purely on the say-so of self-styled experts, so before I will commit to belief in any more such propositions, I’m going to need to see and understand the rationale for them.

  64. ” The struggle to understand the Big Bang, as a theory or a hypothesis, seems to have much more to do with first deconstructing the concepts we might impose on such an event, the underlying assumptions they carry, and whether or not those assumptions have any currency with a hypothetical “reality.” And we might start by doing away with the prevailing, juveno-philiac, and highly consumerist idea of personal infinitude that suffuses our culture. Because the biggest threat that the Big Bang imposes on the human psyche is the realization of finitude—not just our’s, but that of the entire universe”

    So you have an a priori epistemological preference for the big bang theory? Well why could you not have mentioned that at the start and saved me the bother of actually debating you on EVIDENCE!!

  65. “I respect people who are atheist”

    Respect. Another word you don’t know the meaning of.

    Another is emotional appeal. Your entire argument hinges on the fact that you don’t like atheism because you feel it is a bleak, hopeless philosophy. You talk about “hope of Jesus Christ,” and “love beyond chemical reactions.”

    These are not logical arguments. These are emotional ones.

    Everything you say is highly emotionally charged, so I am quite puzzled as to how you could possibly think that’s a bad thing, let alone that atheists are the ones doing it.

    Stop resorting to ad hominems & emotional appeals. You keep alluding to some phantom evidence for Christianity. Fork it over, already, or admit that your entire argument is nothing more than “Christianity makes me feel good, so it’s true, but atheism isn’t true, because I find it icky.”

    PS: How come Fundies always seem to think there’s only 1 atheist in the world? The plural of “atheist” is “atheists.” It’s obvious that English isn’t your forte, but come on, this is 2nd grade stuff.

  66. I am an atheist.

    I am a mother

    I love my child unconditionally.

    I love my child more than the god of the bible loves humanity, for I would never infect him with horrible plagues, bury him with stones, let him starve, force him to wander lost for years, burn him alive, or kill him out of hand.

    Were I Abraham, I would have told god to go fuck himself when he asked me to kill my son.

    I am more moral than your god, and more loving.

  67. You should visit the chick’s (Zdenny can correct me if I’m wrong, but since she mentioned “Chaz,” I’m reasonably certain she’s the woman in her picture) blog sometime. She thinks everything she says is freaking Confuscious-level wisdom!

    I’d like to see her try to argue her opinions that “atheists aren’t rational” with someone like Carl Sagan, or Stephen Hawking.

    And no, that’s not an Appeal to Authority, because I’m not saying that atheism is right because they’re atheists. I’m pointing out that she knows fuck-all about science compared to those 2.

    So, Keres, have fun arguing with this walking mass of stupid that you love your kid. If nothing else, I’ll be here to continue to antagonize her for as long as she continues to spout her drivel.

  68. (L)”…since she mentioned “Chaz,”

    I think Chaz must be the pregnant one. It would take one seriously messed up chick to think love is all about God, Guns, and the switchblade politics of Karl Rove.

  69. Pingback: Atheist belief in UFOs – Part 1 | Latest UFO Sightings

  70. Nick

    Hey man, I really appreciate you breaking down my argument. You did a good job analyzing each part of the argument. You can see that it really puts atheism in the grave rationally. I think you could see that as your analysis did not provide any refutations that had rational validity.

    If reason is universal, then you have just admitted to one of the attributes of God. You may not want to call it God; however, the mind of God is what grounds reason. You just haven’t been willing to accept it yet even though it is rationally consistent.

    If you want to look at science being determinative, you have to demonstrate that everything is subject to cause and effect relationships; however, due to the principle of indeterminism on the sub-atomic level, the law of cause of effect that appears to apply to macro reality does not apply to micro reality. If micro reality does not submit to the laws, then you have a problem with the macro reality because macro reality depends on micro reality for its existence.

    Since you are an atheist, you might see and understand why most intellectuals are now agnostics. The evidence is just too powerful against atheism.

    Of course, agnostics who are extreme skeptics really don’t show anything to be true or false, good or evil. Agnostics claim ignorance on these issues. Ignornace is where you are left without God. Ignorance is at least an honest answer for both atheist and agnostics who simply reject God in their hearts.

  71. If any casual visitors to this site perchance upon ZDenny’s argument on ‘universal reason’ may I recommend they get themselves a copy of the following;

    The Evolution of Reason: Logic as a Branch of Biology

    The argument is flawed on many levels as Nick has already discussed, but given the direction prepositionalists like ZDenny have taken this argument in the past it is important to note that far from being ‘universal’ or ‘transcendental’ reason and logic themselves can be accounted for by evolutionary processes.

  72. (Z) “If an atheist uses reason to argue for the truth of something, he is forced to admit that reason exists outside of our experience.”

    (N) Or rather, he necessarily takes the position that there is something objective about the particular truth he is arguing for. The line of reasoning itself can reside entirely in mental processes, entirely within our experience. (see response below)

    (Z) If reason is unchanging principle, then obviously it has to exist outside our experience since everything in our experience is changing.

    (N) The ways in which humans have reasoned have changed and evolved. And have we detected any real changes in the essential properties of matter? Or time? Or space? Or any of the forms of energy we are familiar with? (Z) Response: This is a non-issue since Einstein did detect a change when he came up with a new theory about space and time. As such, Einstein detected a change; however, the change may or may not have been related to the way in which he thought. As such, logic would not apply to even matter, time or space since our understanding of it is changing based on the development of the mind which depend on evolutionary forces which form our understanding of reality.

    Response: I found your line, “The line of reasoning itself can reside entirely in mental processes, entirely within our experience” to be especially puzzling!

    Most knowledgeable atheist would not argue along this line because evolutionary biology once assumed without an transcendent designer does not allow for reason to be an established fact. Facts themselves are changing as well as our understanding of those facts in atheistic theory.

    Mental processes are subject to change and the laws of logic are mere inventions of the mind to help us understand the world according to a knowledgeable atheist.

    As such, if you appeal to logic in an attempt to destroy my argument, you are really appealing to the existence of God. When you use logic, you are arguing that there is a universal mind as well as a universal form in which you can logically explain reality that will destroy my argumnt. If your an atheist, you have to reject logic as a tool because it is a mere invention of the mind that is in process of development based on your own theory about reality.

    Wow, for a person as smart as yourself, I am certain you can see the paradox that Atheist have to live with. They appeal to reason while denying the grounds for reason. It is the most profound contradiction ever devised.

    If you really believe the laws of logic apply to every human being so that rational discussions can take place, then you have just admitted that the mind is designed to know reality. You have just admitted the existence of God again in recognizing a designer.

    I always find it amazing when a person who rejects God appeals to reason. I just don’t see a way out for an atheist on “rational” grounds… The grounds of what is rational is universal and establish the existence of God.

    I guess that is why most liberals are know agnostics and have rejected Atheism.

    Thanks for the discussion….

  73. Mihael,

    You have underscored my point! In the book, “The Evolution of Reason: Logic as a Branch of Biology,” it states, “The formal systems of logic have ordinarily been regarded as independent of biology…” which demonstrates what most philosophers think.

    William Cooper tries to show how biology and logic are intimately related! He also tries to show how logical thought “develops” in the evolutionary process…

    William Cooper recognizes the problem that atheist have. He is trying to groud reason on a developing foundation of evolutionary thought… He does this by trying to argue that the design of the universe is constant and unchanging. How do we know that the universe is constant and unchanging without logic to understand the world?

    He begins a vicious circle that is meant to confuse the ignorant.

    Cooper simply moves the argument from God being the ground of reason to needing God to be the ground for the Design of the Universe which results in the development of universal reason that is inherent in the evolutionary process.

    His book does not evade the problem for atheist by arguing in a vicious circle.

    The book proves my point that atheism is not built on logical laws that are universal in atheistic theory. If biology and logic are intimately related and we have almost 7 Billion people on the planet, then biology and evolution is taking place in many people groups at different rates and evolving in different forms unless you assume there is a design in the universe.

    Logic is a meaningless endeavor for an atheist and cannot be used to support their own position. Logic if it exists proves the existence of God and if you want to argue like William Cooper, who argues that evolution is the ground for logic; however, logic is the ground for our understanding evolution….lol

    Thanks for the support Michael!!

  74. “William Cooper recognizes the problem that atheist have. He is trying to groud reason on a developing foundation of evolutionary thought… He does this by trying to argue that the design of the universe is constant and unchanging.”

    I take it you haven’t read the book. What he actually argues is that the foundations of logic are reducible to evolution through a branch of it known as life history theory. I do not know off hand if he was aware of a ‘problem that atheist have'(sic), nevertheless he did a remarkable job of closing this particular loophole off to this particular sophistry of the Christian apologist.

    “How do we know that the universe is constant and unchanging without logic to understand the world?”

    Please present evidence that the universe is ‘constant and unchanging’.

    “Logic is a meaningless endeavor for an atheist and cannot be used to support their own position. Logic if it exists proves the existence of God”

    Lets pretend that this was true (which it isn’t). Which ‘God’ would be proved to exist by this? The Christian’s? The Islamist’s? The Hindu’s? The Gnostic’s? The followers of Great Spaghetti Monster? The etc etc etc?

    I could go on with this but I am reminded of something Sigmund Freud once said;

    “Never argue with a fool, they will lower you to their level and then beat you with experience.”

    Later.

  75. (Z) “You did a good job analyzing each part of the argument. You can see that it really puts atheism in the grave rationally. I think you could see that as your analysis did not provide any refutations that had rational validity.”

    Before I can detect any flaw in reasoning, I first have to be able to detect the reasoning. That is why so many of my responses were questions. (Which I notice went unanswered.)

    (Z) “If reason is universal, then you have just admitted to one of the attributes of God. You may not want to call it God; however, the mind of God is what grounds reason. You just haven’t been willing to accept it yet even though it is rationally consistent.”

    Hmm. So if I acknowledge the color blue, I am admitting to one of the attributes of Babe the Blue Ox. And blue exists, therefore Babe exists. Is that how it works?

    Or are you actually making an identification between reason and God? Because if you are just renaming reason, I can grant that your conception of God exists, but that in no way commits me to sharing your definition of God. There were people who worshipped the sun as a god, and I freely grant that the sun does exist, but that doesn’t commit me to theism because I don’t have to agree that the sun is a god.

    (Z) “If you want to look at science being determinative, you have to demonstrate that everything is subject to cause and effect relationships;”

    All that is needed for science to operate is areas with patterns of consistency. Could be cause and effect. Could be statistical probabilities.

    (Z) “If micro reality does not submit to the laws, then you have a problem with the macro reality because macro reality depends on micro reality for its existence.”

    And yet, we can determine radioactive half-lives with reasonably high precision. Statistically consistent behavior is good enough. And the properties of a given phenomenon don’t always have to match the properties of the substrate. A ripple passing through calm water can be described with mathematical precision, even though it operates on a substrate of Brownian motion.

    (Z) “Since you are an atheist, you might see and understand why most intellectuals are now agnostics.”

    I care less about the number of people who hold a position than I do about the content of that position.

    (Z) “The evidence is just too powerful against atheism.”

    The only evidence that would be powerful against atheism would be powerful evidence of at least one god. It is an easy thing to claim evidence exists, but it is generally more impressive if you actually present the evidence.

    (Z) “…Ignornace is where you are left without God. Ignorance is at least an honest answer for both atheist and agnostics who simply reject God in their hearts.”

    Judging from the inverse relationship between Christianity and levels of education, I’m guessing “ignorance” is another one of those Christian terms with flipped meanings, like where it is wise to be foolish, and foolish to be wise. And the “truth” shall set you “free”.

  76. Nick

    The first Objection:

    So if I acknowledge the color blue, I am admitting to one of the attributes of Babe the Blue Ox. And blue exists, therefore Babe exists. Is that how it works?

    The color blue exists in your mind and is part of the structure of your mind. If you see blue, your mind is informing you that it is blue. This is how you were designed.

    Logic is different than blue because it transcends your individual experience. In order for you to argue that something is blue with another, you have to assume that the laws of logic transcend your experience so that you can have a discussion with another person about reality. You also have to assume design of humanity in order for you to have a shared idea of what the color blue is.

    The second objection: At this time, I am only arguing for the existence of a God. Who God is another question. The fact is that universal reason is a attribute of God since only God transcends our experience.

    If you are honest, you will have to admit that universal reason which makes communication possible between cultures, has to transcend our experience. If evolution were true, we would not be able to communicate between cultures as all cultures would be on different tracks of the evolutionary process. The fact that we are able to communicate demonstrate both a universal law at work that is unchanging as well as a design in humanity that makes it possible.

    The third objection:

    The “patterns of consistency” argument is a tired argument because you open the door to the existence of God. It is a consistent pattern that most believe in the existence of God, therefore, God exist. I personally don’t accept this argument because it could be emotionally driven, but based on your “patterns of consistency”, it would force you to accept a belief in God since it is perhaps the most consistent in humanities history. If you accept “consistency” as a rule to determine your belief, you have to believe in God.

  77. Michael,

    William Coopers book is a vicious circle argument. He argues that we “know” the process of evolution produces logic; however, logic is the process by which we “know” evolution.

    He never gets off the starting block…

  78. When Keres uses the word “Love”, what is she talking about. The word is a vacuous term for atheist. Keres most likely means that she has a certain chemical composition at this time that forces her to care for her child. The emotions that she has are merely emotive producing in her at this time a feeling of concern for her child. Of course, the evolutionary process will at some time takes these feelings away as the chemicals in her change due to natural selection over a period of time. It is possible that her children will not be forced to care for their kids in the same way she is being forced to care for hers.

    It is an accident that Keres is concerned about her child at this time. The reality is that her care for the child is merely a temporary thing that could change as soon as evolution elevates her past her emotions to a pure reason mode of existing. The elevation will result in not being concerned about individuals who make messes, are terribly selfish, who need constant attention which takes away from your time to write on this blog…. Abortion may have been the most rational choice for her life so she could commit to other things more important.

    Chemicals? Personal Emotions? That isn’t Love

    I personally am happy that Keres cares for her child as this is what God has designed her to do; however, Love is not in the vocab of an atheist…just chemical balances…

  79. “William Coopers book is a vicious circle argument. He argues that we “know” the process of evolution produces logic; however, logic is the process by which we “know” evolution.”

    I presume by ‘vicious circle argument’ you actually mean petitio principii, or ‘begging the question’, an argument in which a premise requiring proof is presented without proof. A good example would be an argument such as;

    Christian: God must exist.
    Non Theist: How do you know.
    Christian: Because it says in the Bible.
    Non Theist: Why should we believe the Bible?
    Christian: Because the Bible was written by God!

    This doesn’t actually apply to Coopers’ book however. The actual argument is thus;

    If logic were intrinsic to evolution it’s principles would be reducible to evolutionary processes. (Premise)
    Logical principles are reducible to evolutionary processes. (Content of the book)
    Therefore;
    Logic is intrinsic to evolution. (Conclusion)

    Or put in terms of the previous example;

    William Cooper: Evolution is the basis for logic.
    ZDenny: How do you know?
    William Cooper: Because logic is reducible to evolutionary principles, and here is how….

    It only appears circular when misrepresented as you did.

  80. Sayeth Mike:

    ‘(SG) “Your disagreement with a majority of scientific opinion is a better example of a social movement…”

    The majority status of a given scientific opinion is itself a social artifact, and history is replete with examples of mistaken majority opinions. Popularity itself is not determinative.’

    And yet…

    ‘(SG) “…if you really believe in these “alternative theories” (which only beg the question of the rise of quasi-religious string theory, and the fall-out after its dismissal), then bring them to your local astronomy professor…”

    I didn’t see where either Michael or I expressed a belief in an alternate theory. Speaking for myself, I don’t have an alternate theory, but neither do I need one. Scientific propositions should be evaluated on their own merits, and it is entirely possible to observe that a model appears to be performing poorly without incurring any requirement to put forth an alternate model.’

    So, how do these two arguments not contradict one another in terms of their appeals to scientific inquiry? The first refers to anti-foundationalist radical-constructivism (the denial of prevailing scientific theories by characterizing them as socially or observationally arbitrary), and yet the second says that foundationalist scientific assumptions should be ranked by intrinsic merit.

    Uh… wha?

    Big Bang denialism—soon to be up there with the quackery of climate-change denialists? You refute it—obviously—not by way of offering up empirical data to the contrary, but by way of it not fitting the presuppositions and entirely faith-based, dogmatic assumptions of Atheism. But heck, have a ball with it. In spite of possessing any actual philosophical grounds, Atheism is, after all, a great way to express one’s bigotry toward a specific social class by throwing out specious arguments from an outmoded positivism. Write another lame, anti-philosophical book trashing theists, throw in some resentful political zest, make a mill. Historically, Americans guard their scorn-objects more than any other material possession—it prevents them from having to actually think and clean up their lives. Mountain dew, skateboards, DIY philosophy: whoopee.

  81. (Z) “The color blue exists in your mind”

    As does reason.

    (Z) If you see blue, your mind is informing you that it is blue. This is how you were designed.

    Assertion of design is not evidence of design.

    (Z) Logic is different than blue because it transcends your individual experience.

    If at least one other person knows what I mean by blue, then it too transcends my individual experience.

    (Z) “In order for you to argue that something is blue with another, you have to assume that the laws of logic transcend your experience so that you can have a discussion with another person about reality.

    The properties of logic are derived from reality, so all that is needed is an objective and independent reality.

    (Z) “You also have to assume design of humanity in order for you to have a shared idea of what the color blue is.”

    Common descent would easily account for the physiological similarities.

    (Z) “At this time, I am only arguing for the existence of a God.”

    All that’s missing is an actual argument.

    (Z) “The fact is that universal reason is a attribute of God since only God transcends our experience.”

    Reason is a reflection of reality, which transcends the individual, but reason itself exists only within minds. ‘Universal reason’ is a term without meaning for me.

    (Z) “If you are honest, you will have to admit that universal reason which makes communication possible between cultures, has to transcend our experience.”

    As with reason, language is derived from reality, which transcends our individual experiences. And language too resides within minds.

    (Z) “If evolution were true, we would not be able to communicate between cultures as all cultures would be on different tracks of the evolutionary process.”

    Most humans are less than 200 generations from their most recent common ancestor, which is negligible compared to the separation between, say, humans and chimps, or dogs, or horses, and even in those cases, the separation is not so great as to prevent all communication.

    (Z) “The “patterns of consistency” argument is a tired argument because you open the door to the existence of God. It is a consistent pattern that most believe in the existence of God, therefore, God exist.”

    The only thing that the prevalence of belief in the supernatural establishes is that there is some sort of predisposition towards belief in the supernatural. That does not establish the truth of such beliefs, as we can easily demonstrate by observing that the overwhelming majority of supernatural beliefs are contradicted by other supernatural beliefs.

    (Z) “based on your “patterns of consistency”, it would force you to accept a belief in God”

    I do accept the existence of belief in God. But acceptance of the existence of a belief does not require acceptance of the existence of the object of belief. People believe all kinds of crazy things.

    (Z) “When Keres uses the word “Love”, what is she talking about. The word is a vacuous term for atheist. … Chemicals? Personal Emotions? That isn’t Love”

    It seems likely you are, again, using a common-sounding word but with a unique Christian definition. If so, you are probably correct that your meaning of the word would seem vacuous to us. But I guess it wouldn’t hurt to ask, so, what do you think love is, if not an emotional bond? What is love in the Christian view? Or to return to some of the examples Keres raised, when God commanded Abraham to slay his son, what sort of love was he demonstrating there? Same question regarding Abraham’s decision to obey. And when the Bible describes God as demanding blood sacrifices, commanding war, obliterating whole cities, and drowning an entire planet, is that the model of perfect love you strive to emulate? What aspect of God’s love prompted the creation of Hell? If your children turn against God, or perhaps turn out gay, will you still love them unreservedly? What would you do if God gave you the Abraham test? Would you let your love of your God supersede your love for your children?

  82. Zdenny, people don’t suddenly “evolve into higher beings.” Evolution is change in a population over several generations.

    This is a standard Christian fallacy, that evolution is somehow some pseudo-religious pursuit to “become God” through several “accidental” transformations. The reason your straw man does not make sense to you is because it doesn’t resemble the actual Theory of Evolution in the slightest.

    Yes, no rational mind could possibly believe the shit you’re asserting as atheistic dogma/evolution/whatever. But your assertions are WRONG. And THAT is why I keep going, “English, motherfucker! Do you speak it!?”

    Also, your argument is yet again contradictory. You’ve thus far claimed to be the “reasonable” one, but spoke of a “being of pure reason” as though it were a BAD thing.

    Do you value emotions or reason? Are you incapable of having both?

    Why can you not accept that emotions don’t change just because we understand what causes them? It’s not an opinion, it’s a fact. YOUR emotions are caused by chemical reactions too, whether you want to believe that or not. Without some sort of external damage, such as a lobtomy (which it appears you’ve already had), you are not going to “spontaneously change” your feelings.

    Actually, I retract that. Feelings do change. Enemies can be forgiven, sadness can turn to ecstasy, et cetera, but nothing like the “sudden lack of love due to a mutation” you’re expressing as a possibility. That would be unlike anything we’ve ever witnessed in history, biology, or psychology.

    As for this new stuff about UFOs, the argument that “atheists claim to be rational, but they fall for shit like UFOs” is a fallacy because it assumes that all atheists believe in UFOs.

    I know all of the different camera tricks. I know about keeping things out of focus, reflections off of dust particles, waving the cord in front of the camera, & all of that stuff. I know about waking dreams, which discredits close encounters of the third & fourth kinds. And, obviously, I know that people will say anything to “be on TV.”

    I look at all of this stuff & say that aliens do not visit random rednecks in flying saucers. I use reason to reach my decisions, rather than saying something like, “Y’know, it sucks that I’ll die some day. I really don’t WANT to just fade away. There should be a magical sky fairy who gives me immortal life. In fact…I bet there is! YEAH, there TOTALLY is! And he’ll punish all who think differently from me, too! What a swell guy…I bet his name is Jesus!”

    Now, as for this atheist/agnostic thing: Zdenny, once again, you are using these terms incorrectly. Agnostic simply means you acknowledge the possibility. Yeah, I acknowledge the POSSIBILITY that there is a God, but I see it just as possible as there being a Superman. That’s where the “atheist” label comes in. It is TECHNICALLY possible, but it is so extremely improbable that I may as well just say it isn’t. Atheist vs. theist refers to whether or not you believe in Gods or Goddesses.

    Let’s tie this back in with the other ad hominem argument: I said I don’t believe flying saucers visit the planet, correct? But I accept intelligent extraterrestrials as a POSSIBILITY. So, you could say that I’m open-minded, but a non believer, when it comes to UFOs.

    In other words, most of the people arguing with you are probably agnostic atheists.

  83. If logic were intrinsic to evolution it’s principles would be reducible to evolutionary processes. (Premise)
    Logical principles are reducible to evolutionary processes. (Content of the book)
    Therefore;
    Logic is intrinsic to evolution.

    (Z) The argument is circular by looking at your premises if you simply define evolution

    Logic is intrinsic to evolution which is an ever changing process. If Logic is intrinsic to an ever changing process, then logic itself is an ever changing process.

    Therefore, universal logic does not have an unchanging basis by which to describe the changing world.

    The basis of the argument assumes the universality of the principles of evolution. If you assume the universality of the principles of evolution, you have just admited design. As such, an atheist has to argue that the universality of principles of evolution do not exist. As such, logic is not inherent to the principles that guide evolution because evolution lacks a universality of principle.

    It really doesn’t matter how you cut the cheese, you still end up with a circular argument where the author argues that “evolution results in logic and logic results in the theory of evolution”

  84. No. I didn’t take time out of my busy schedule to post an in-depth response to you, Zdenny. But, thanks for your concern, regardless.

    God damn it, being a troll was more rewarding.

  85. (N) (previously) The majority status of a given scientific opinion is itself a social artifact, and history is replete with examples of mistaken majority opinions. Popularity itself is not determinative.’
    [and]
    … Scientific propositions should be evaluated on their own merits, and it is entirely possible to observe that a model appears to be performing poorly without incurring any requirement to put forth an alternate model.’

    (SG) So, how do these two arguments not contradict one another in terms of their appeals to scientific inquiry? The first refers to anti-foundationalist radical-constructivism (the denial of prevailing scientific theories by characterizing them as socially or observationally arbitrary), and yet the second says that foundationalist scientific assumptions should be ranked by intrinsic merit.

    To refrain from belief in a theory, pending convincing evidence, is not the same as denial. I’m not saying the BBT is false, and in fact I have granted that the truth could turn out to be close to some version. (I have the distinct feeling I’ve said this before.) But I think belief in a theory should be based on whether it is rationally compelling, not on the basis of how popular it is. I see no contradiction in that view.

    (SG) “Big Bang denialism—soon to be up there with the quackery of climate-change denialists? You refute it—obviously—not by way of offering up empirical data to the contrary,

    This started when there was a claim made that all the evidence we have demonstrates that the BBT is true, and Michael responded with the doubtful suggestion that perhaps someone could present some of this evidence, and then someone responded with a list of observations, and Michael and I ventured why it did not appear that any of it demonstrated that the BBT is true. Yes, we did also point out why some of it actually posed a problem for BB cosmology (points which were never addressed), but the burden of demonstration nonetheless remained entirely with the claimants for the truth of the BBT. There is no burden of refutation which attaches to any lack of commitment to belief.

    (SG) “But heck, have a ball with it. In spite of possessing any actual philosophical grounds, Atheism is, after all, a great way to express one’s bigotry toward a specific social class by throwing out specious arguments from an outmoded positivism. Write another lame, anti-philosophical book trashing theists, throw in some resentful political zest, make a mill.”

    Well that was… interesting.

    Was that really about a couple of guys having BB doubts, or was that about something else that had been building for a while?

  86. My guess is the latter, Nick. And moar sweeping generalizations, to boot.

    Gnome, you might be surprised to know that I can’t stand anti-religion books. I find them pretentious & annoying, their only real value being the scientific information they contain.

    Similarly, I’ve also read (& enjoyed) a theistic book for much the same reason. Although I disagreed with some of his observations, his arguments were interesting, quite unlike the propoganda that you & Zdenny have been spewing this entire time.

  87. “Big Bang denialism—soon to be up there with the quackery of climate-change denialists”

    One can only hope! Although that is a different matter altogether.

  88. “Logic is intrinsic to evolution which is an ever changing process. If Logic is intrinsic to an ever changing process, then logic itself is an ever changing process.

    Therefore, universal logic does not have an unchanging basis by which to describe the changing world.

    The basis of the argument assumes the universality of the principles of evolution. If you assume the universality of the principles of evolution, you have just admited design. As such, an atheist has to argue that the universality of principles of evolution do not exist. As such, logic is not inherent to the principles that guide evolution because evolution lacks a universality of principle.”

    Do you ever actually read these ‘arguments’ before you hit submit?

  89. “Keres demonstrating there? Same question regarding Abraham’s decision to obey. And when the Bible describes God as demanding blood sacrifices, commanding war, obliterating whole cities, and drowning an entire planet, is that the model of perfect love you strive to emulate? What aspect of God’s love prompted the creation of Hell? If your children turn against God, or perhaps turn out gay, will you still love them unreservedly? What would you do if God gave you the Abraham test? Would you let your love of your God supersede your love for your children?”

    Love results in freedom meaning you have a choice to even reject the Creator who made you. I personally think this is the most awesome aspect of the plan of God. God didn’t create robots; rather, he made people who exist in His image and we are eternal souls.

    Even the creation of Hell was done out of respect for the individual who rejects God. The Bible says, “God does not want any to perish, but all to come to repentance.” Hell is locked from within by you. The creation of Hell is actually an act of love for those who reject his authority so that you can live without accepting his authority over your life. When you reject God, you have rejected love, joy and peace. Hell will be wish fulfillment for those who rejected Him.

    Death is a emotive argument in my opinion. For an atheist, death and violence are horrible things; however, for Christians death is a portal to life everlasting. Violence, disease, sickness etc.. is a result of selfish men who have rejected the will of God for their life. We get a taste of Hell here on earth. It is a second change where we experience the beauty of creation and taste the existence of Hell both at the same time. A real choice can be made as to which one we desire in our heart.

    If everyone knew the Love of God, then violence and selfishness would not exist; however, a rebellion of God does exist so violence pursues which is caused by man. For instance, War comes from people rejecting the will of God so God who is the author and taker of life allows them to enter the portal of death since that is their final destination anyway.

    The issue of Abraham was a test to see if he really thought death was a portal to life or the end of life. Abraham trusted God and knew that even if His promised Son had died, he would be raised by God since His Son had a promise on his life. God cannot lie.

    The lesson is good for Christians because it teaches us to not fear death, we are supra-beings made in God’s image who will someday be with the Lord.

    In fact, Abraham’s son becomes a picture of what Jesus did on the cross for you and me by allowing us access to the Love of God even though we were an unholy people who had rejected Him and His will. You will notice that a lamb was provided for Abraham rather than the death of his Son.

    When Abraham was asked to kill His son, was it is own son Isaac or was it God’s Son who was pictured as a sacrificed lamb on the alter.

    Did God really tell Abraham to kill Abraham’s Son or God’s Son who was symbolized in the lamb? Abraham ended up giving us a picture of God’s Son giving his life on the alter, shedding his blood for humanity.

  90. Because I’ve just had a long weekend away from the internet and a lot has been said to catch up on, I’ll comment in more depth once I’ve done some reading, but I just had to give a quick shout out to Keres’s, who’s answer to that phantasmagorically stupid non-question on the issue of love was perhaps the most succinct I’ve ever read.

  91. “Was that really about a couple of guys having BB doubts, or was that about something else that had been building for a while?”

    Agreed.

    “Gnome, you might be surprised to know that I can’t stand anti-religion books. I find them pretentious & annoying, their only real value being the scientific information they contain.”

    Awesome.

    “Similarly, I’ve also read (& enjoyed) a theistic book for much the same reason. Although I disagreed with some of his observations, his arguments were interesting, quite unlike the propoganda that you & Zdenny have been spewing this entire time.”

    But for the fact that I am not religious. It does, perhaps, point to a lack of clarity on my behalf due to a rather immodest contempt—contempt I say!—of prevailing Atheist or “secular humanist” modes of inquiry.

    Leaving the BB stuff and the rote traversing of the old Atheist/Fundamentalist Christian dialectic, and getting back to the subject of Sir Jim’s post, is it possible to reconcile Atheism and the epistemic humility demanded by contemporary rational, scientific skepticism? How can one possibly be agnostic and Atheist, without arriving at epistemic contradictions between affirmative and non-affirmative truth claims? I would agree that perhaps the term “agnostic” defines itself, in some unsatisfying way, in relation to historically religious ways of thinking. But to then swing radically in the opposite direction, and to co-opt the term “Atheism” doesn’t achieve anything except to be polarizing and divisive. If one objects to the neutrality that is not obtained by the term “agnosticism,” then doesn’t claiming the term “Atheism” as some fallacious non-affirmative “A-theism,” does not that fail the very same criteria? Because I think that such distinctions are precisely where guys like Anthony Flew depart from Atheism, providing important, if at least useful, reasons for doing so.

  92. I have enjoyed the discussion and have learned alot by the interaction.

    Keres argument for love is so irrational that I found myself feeling sorry for her illusion. Love is not chemicals. God’s love never fails; however, the love that the atheist is talking about can change on a dime depending on a person’s chemical make-up. If love was really chemically based and we were forced to love others, then we should not have any divorces, but we do so atheism obviously has not been able to come to terms with what love is. At the very least, we should be able to take a shot in order to correct our chemical balance so that we can love our spouses when we don’t feel like it….lol (Have you ever seen the movie, Stepford Wives)

    The argument from reason assumes the existence of God. In order to have an unchanging basis, you have to have something that is transcendent. Evolution as well as the human mind is not unchanging as both of these are changing developing processes. The argument begs the question as Evolution forms the basis for logic; however logic forms the basis of our understanding of Evolution.

    As such, reason in the mind does not have a rational basis by which to judge anything as being true or false including Christianity.

    I really enjoyed the question about sin in the world. Atheist seem to think earth should be heaven and that things should be perfect now. Well, it can be!!

    They fail to see that God’s path is the remove those who don’t love Him and send them to an eternal existence where they can be mad at Him all day without having to accept His authority. God won’t even force Jim Gardner to love Him. I think that is the awesome part about God in that love is very real in Christianity.

    I haven’t heard a single reponse from anyone that I thought could ever change the mind of a rational person who took an honest look at their existence.

    This is my last entry on this blog…I have enjoyed the conversation…

  93. (When Keres uses the word “Love”, what is she talking about.)

    A willingness to kill or die for someone, a desire to see them happy, a willingness to sacrifice my own well-being for theirs, and a joy in their presence.

    No one forces me to care for my child. I chose to have him, it is my choice to take care of him, and I do so because I love him.

    So, in your deluded excuse for a world, God forces you to love, and be reasonable, and be moral.

    I love, and am reasonable, because that is who I am, because I choose to be. I am moral because it is the right thing to be. Nobody makes me. But you have to have someone make you.

    What does that say about us, hmmm?

    I believe it says I am a good person, and you are a pathetic little wretch who can’t string two coherent thoughts together.

  94. (Keres argument for love is so irrational that I found myself feeling sorry for her illusion. )

    You feel sorry for my illusion?

    What makes you think love is the slightest bit rational?

    (Love is not chemicals. God’s love never fails; however, the love that the atheist is talking about can change on a dime depending on a person’s chemical make-up.)

    As opposed to changing on a dime depending on a person’s mood? Obviously, little pimple, you have never actually experienced love, or you would know it can be both a permanent, all encompassing thing, or a fleetingly beautiful moment. I pity you, who has never actually experienced love, that you think the fact that it resides in the brain rather than the heart somehow lessens it’s power.

    (They fail to see that God’s path is the remove those who don’t love Him and send them to an eternal existence where they can be mad at Him all day without having to accept His authority. God won’t even force Jim Gardner to love Him. I think that is the awesome part about God in that love is very real in Christianity.)

    I once ran back into a burning building to save someone I loved.

    God tortured Job, slaughtered his children, and ruined his life, but claimed to love him.

    I put those I love ahead of myself.

    God ruthlessly slaughters the families and friends of those who so much as hint at questioning him, burns alive his faithful followers because a single one of them spoke against him, murdered children because their parents annoyed him, ordered the children of entire cultures slaughtered because their parents followed different gods, and inflicted plagues, starvation, and floods upon the world.

    God is love?

    Really?

    You are a sick and twisted person, to think that’s love. You are no different from the battered woman begging the cops not to take her boyfriend away after he beat her half to death because ‘he loves me’!!!

    Someday, perhaps, you should read the bible for yourself.

    God is not love.

  95. Zdenny, who’s been ignoring every argument I’ve thrown at her, opting instead to throw out bad Bible apologetics & hate-speech on atheism, is leaving?

    I’ll try to suppress my disappointment.

    Keres, great commentary. It must suck that you only got obviously brainwashed non-answers in return, & it scares me to know that this chick has kids.

    As for Gnome, if you don’t understand my explanation on atheism/agnosticism, Google it. It’s a subject that’s been explained a million times before, all much better than I just did.

    But the basic concept is that atheism=lack of belief in Gods while agnosticism=admitting the possibility.

    To use another bad analogy, cryptids are animals whose existance is unconfirmed. Things like the Loch Ness monster, Bigfoot, etc. Most are considered to be superstitious legends of the local cultures. Others, however, were eventually confirmed to exist…such as albino tigers.*

    It is, essentially, a scientific approach to things. If there is no evidence for it, that doesn’t mean it DOESN’T exist, but you can’t go around believing in everything, regardless of how little proof there is of its existance.

    *=If you want to fact-check this analogy, I’d reccommend Wikipedia’s List of Cryptids.

  96. Zdenny: You do not understand what reason is. I cannot, therefore, reason you out of your position. All I can ask is that you re-read each of your own statements and attempt to become the other. When you see the world from the perspective of someone who holds good reasons for thinking a certain way, you will have something to compare against their bad reasons for thinking another way and construct your argument from there. This is how good debate works and how good intelligence informs public opinion.

    You, on the other hand, have almost completely hijacked the thread with exactly the kind of non-thinking on topics I specifically asked people to look-up elsewhere on this blog first, before drawing the conversation away from the original article, in a way exactly as you have done.

    While all contributions are welcome, you would do well to read the following books before marching off on the rest of your life without having learned anything than what you already think you know.

    How the Mind Works, by Steven Pinker
    http://www.amazon.com/How-Mind-Works-Steven-Pinker/dp/0393318486

    and The Mountain People, by Colin Turnbull
    http://www.langtoninfo.co.uk/showitem.asp?isbn=0671640984

  97. So, now that that nonsense is over, I decided to give this a read, & I honestly have to ask what the fuck is with this:

    Aficionados of Gauguin do not spend 24 hours queuing for tickets to a muddy field, where they will stand miles away from the revealed canvases, with a topless girl on their shoulders, enthusiastically yelling, “The Spirit of the Dead Keep Watch!”

    Beyond that, there’s not much to say. Very informative, but a tad lengthy, complicated, & dry. Also, I’d have touched on the more ridiculous Christians who make blatantly false claims; saying they had no moral compass, abused drugs, etc.

    I also have to note that agnosticism & atheism are not mutually exclusive, like so many people believe. But I do agree with you that there is a HUGE difference in the questions someone who was never sure of their theology will ask, & those a strong atheist will.

    Which is why it interests me that they will claim to have “been there” so emphatically, all while making claims like that Todd guy did.

    Generally speaking, I’ve never had a particularly high opinion of Christian apologetics, but unfound claims about atheists–my particular favorite is that talking about God means that you believe in him–have always been right at the top of my WTF Scale.

  98. It has been asserted here, and elsewhere, that the default position on asking the question of whether God exists is to assume that He does and for those who say He does not to present evidence of their counter claim. To highlight the logical fallacy of this commitment to negative evidence, let’s consider the following analogy.

    Samantha sees a classified ad in her local paper:

    1973 Electric Blue Ferrari Daytona for sale. Full service history. Needs repairs. Ceramic brakes. Leather interior. Sat-Nav. 0-60MPH in 6.5 seconds. £5000 or nearest offer.

    It may well be the case that the car is blue and that it has expensive extras, but these details tell her nothing about why the seller is asking such a low price, or why the car has so many non-standard extras or what the nature of the repairs might be. If Samantha questions anything about the sale, she is merely applying the kind of conscious and unconscious rationalism, as to the validity of the sellers claims, similar to those which we make with regard to thousands of life decisions every single day.

    It is not upon Samantha to interpret the advert (or appeal to the self-interested authority of the seller himself to provide an interpretation of the advert) so as to prove that the car is roadworthy, or is not an insurance write-off from a accident or that it is otherwise in a state where the provided information is irrelevant in comparison to any details which the seller has omitted. The burden of proof is upon the seller to present clear, unambiguous evidence that the car is what the ad claims it to be, despite compelling reasons on Samantha’s part to assume otherwise.

    No reasonable person would say that Samantha was showing a lack of faith in her need for more information on the sale, before she hands over her hard earned cash. Her assuming that the prima-facie description of the car’s physical properties are proof that it is a sound investment, doesn’t make the truth-claims of the seller valid; merely that, because of Samantha’s strong desire to find a super-car for a reasonable price, that she is capable of compromising her critical faculties when it comes to making decisions upon factors which are in tune with her biases.

    Yet when we transmute this analogy over, towards the question of whether or not a two thousand year old book is proof that the universe was created by the will of a hero warrior god, for which the only truth-claim of His existence is contained in that book itself, we’re immediately presented with exactly the kind of argument which would not only have our hypothetical Samantha buying the car without due diligence, but actively celebrate her disinterest in the sort of ordinary rationalism which she applies to every other area of human discourse, apart from when it comes to the truth-claims of used car salesman.

  99. How can Zdenny say that “reason” and “logic” both support his claim of God and also use them as attacks against Atheists?

    For all these comments, Zdenny says reason is from God and we Atheists are emotional and only think we’re being logical.

    Comment 12:
    “I like your thoughts about Christianity and scientific truth claims; however, science depends on a person’s mind that has been designed to know something. The very act of trusting your brain to analyze the physical world is an act of faith for an Atheist. Atheism therefore rest on faith.”

    Comment 28:
    “In any event, you don’t have to get emotional about it. These are reasoned arguments and you should detach yourself from emotionalism in order to think more clearly.”

    Comment 45:
    “Your argument concerning a non-belief is basically true since no person should actually believe atheism if they are a rational person.”

    Comment 59:
    “Christianity is not based on emotion. It is rather based on both indirect internal evidence similar to our evidence we have for gravity as well as the fact that something exist.”

    “The logical is really inescapable. ”

    Comment 60:
    “I always have to smile when an atheist claims to hold to reason as a final authority because the grounds for reason being transcendent is the ground that establishes the existence of God.”

    Comment 71:
    “If reason is universal, then you have just admitted to one of the attributes of God. You may not want to call it God; however, the mind of God is what grounds reason. You just haven’t been willing to accept it yet even though it is rationally consistent.”

    Comment 73:
    “As such, if you appeal to logic in an attempt to destroy my argument, you are really appealing to the existence of God.”

    Then in Comment 79 against Keres whom he insults with his closed-mindedness, he says:

    “It is an accident that Keres is concerned about her child at this time. The reality is that her care for the child is merely a temporary thing that could change as soon as evolution elevates her past her emotions to a pure reason mode of existing. The elevation will result in not being concerned about individuals who make messes, are terribly selfish, who need constant attention which takes away from your time to write on this blog…. Abortion may have been the most rational choice for her life so she could commit to other things more important.”

    Reason is now evil and something to despise because it leads to someone being selfish and not caring for other. Funny since in every other post up until this one, it was from God and evidence of him, external to all of us, much like love.

    PS

    From Comment 22:
    “I can prove my theory from sociology. If the love of God is dominate in our society, you would have very few divorces; however, the love of God is not dominate at this time. The end result is a high rate of divorce. ”

    Pretty hilarious considering that the divorce rate is 50% and the rate of belief in the Christian god in America is ~75%. Statistics show that Christian marriages end just as often as non-Christian marriages. So much for the Love of God. Nice job backpedaling and saying those divorced Christians are “True” Christians. How Convenient.

  100. Steve, it’s been my experience that Fundies try to downplay the faith involved in their own religion, & [poorly] copy the arguments atheists & other unbelievers use against them.

    It’s a bit odd, really.

    Nevertheless, I believe it’s pretty obvious that Zdenny’s comments were just word salads. Particularly, I love how I poked holes in her gravity analogy in my very first comment, then she came back to use it again & again.

    I suppose the ultimate mark of failure here is her inability to adapt reason to evidence. All she could do was say, “Atheists are assholes” in various ways, thinking that this somehow constituted an argument (let alone proved her claim to “respect” atheists while making such dickish claims about Keres).

    Speaking of change, it’s all well & good to knock down the non-arguments of a random Fundie, but seeing as Zdenny made her oh-so-graceful leave, I don’t really see the point.

    So, as to the subject of proof, I like analogies such as the Invisible Pink Unicorn, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster (which are always seen as insulting, of course). They’re such ridiculous claims that anyone being asked to “disprove” them would know that it’s utter nonsense & can’t be done. You can’t observe His Noodly Appendage acting on the world, obviously, but it DOES.

    And other fallacious arguments on proof I feel could use some analogies:

    “Look at the world–proof of design is all around you!”

    “We have the same evidence. You just interpret it differently [with the implication being that you’re doing it wrong].”

  101. I think there’s also an element of truth in the idea that extreme fundamentalist “Christians” are, to a certain extent, trained in the art of completely ignoring valid questions, in order to provoke a debate about the areas in which they feel as if they have authority to speak, as opposed to engage in issues in which the only way for them to honestly debate, is to concede they don’t know.

    It’s almost as if there is a certain bravado which goes along with being “saved”, that is not only blind to inconsistencies in their own argument, but stubbornly determined to ignore reality as the devil’s work.

    I think this speaks to the efficacy of the various courses they take and fan fiction they read, which reinforces their biases. Not to mention the general societal acceptance that religious views, no matter how extreme, are entitlements to which the believer may hold so long as they happen to be in line with the historical religion of that particular region.

    For example, we talk about Islamic Fundamentalists, as if they come from another planet, as opposed to the same rock floating around in outer-space as us. We (I use the term ‘we’ loosely) wage war against them for their view that we are to be destroyed in the name of their god, yet we not only tolerate, but actively fund and encourage exactly the same kind of backward idiocy within so-called westernised religions.

    I think this is also why it is a problem only ordinary people, who happen to describe themselves as Christian, can solve. If ordinary people can be made to feel empowered, to route out extreme elements within their own churches and see the damage which is being done by the vocal minority in their faith of choice, hijacking the debate with their particular brand of fear theology, we might stand more of a chance in spreading a message of peaceful coexistence. But for as long as the extremists in any religion are allowed to hide behind the law abiding vast majority, there is no hope of that.

  102. Oh my, I often get the criticism “you don’t bug the Muslims, do you!?” Sometimes followed by–I’m not joking–the implication that I don’t do it because I’m afraid they’ll suicide bomb my house.

    Obviously, the fact that most Islamic Fundies speak Arabic has nothing to do with it.

    There’s a board called Rapture Ready–crazy place–that actually has a rule against showing support for Islam. They’ve made the statement that, “90% of Muslims are terrorists,” in the past, & they actually deny being racist.

    Short version: I know what you’re talking about.

    As for the first thing, I recall one Deviantard who had a picture challenging evolution. However, when I tried to debate him on evolution, he would just guide the conversation back into the story of Jesus’ ressurrection, & start telling me stuff about how it was so obviously true.

    I don’t read the Bible (TL;DR). I don’t know all that much about that story, or the practices of Roman undertakers back then. I was arguing some vague hypotheticals (which were taken as being trumpeted as absolute fact, when I was only pointing out that it’s impossible for me to properly examine an event that took place 2K years ago, if at all), before I realized, “Hey, what the shit does this have to do about evolution?”

    I started becoming more focused, & sure enough, when he realized that he couldn’t steer me back to that, he started ignoring my posts & actively deleting my comments.

    At least my comment debunking his “mutations never add information” spiel stayed up for a few days, before he finally got to it.

    /anecdotes.

  103. Pingback: Lousy Canuck » Blogospherics

  104. Though he remains banned, Todd has issued the following apology:

    Jim, inspired by you, I’m working on a website that addresses the ‘Top 100 Atheist Challenges’ to the Christian faith. I’ve worked very hard to make the challenges relevant and not the same ‘o same ‘o. Within each challenge will be a list of contributing apologists (the usual suspects and then some) who have decided to support the initiative. So if you have a ‘Problem with Evil’, so to speak, you may find ten different articles written on that very specific subject along with 5 video responses and 4 MP3 files from podcasts…all dealing with that very specific subject. Why am I doing this? Because I’m not smart enough to know all the answers to the oft-presented challenges…but am organized and motivated enough to create the means to this end. When finished, if a specific challenge hasn’t been addressed, there will be a ‘Challenge’ submission opportunity for any non-believer to provide a question which will then be parsed out to all the participating apologists to respond (or not) based on their area of expertise. Thus, my hopes are, that folks way smarter than me can address both the tired old ‘non-eternal enriched flour Flying Spaghetti Monster’ argument(s) as well as serious challenges such as the one you presented, ‘Why doesn’t prayer heal cancer’?

    Anyway, I bring this up to you just as an FYI…but the real purpose of this email is to apologize. During our last ‘back and forth’, I went way too far calling you an ‘evil man’ and the like. At the time, I was ‘under the influence’ of some hardcore presuppositional apologetics study. While my comments were ‘doctrinally’ true (as ‘fallen’, we are all – yep, that especially included me – evil in the sight of God who is wholly righteous), my delivery was, frankly, immature. It’s rightfully bothered me ever since. Throughout my collaborative efforts on securing both the interest and participating of some of the finest apologists in the world, I have come to recognize that the really, really good ones (in my view, anyway – Dr. Hugh Ross being my favorite – proof that not all creationists believe the earth to be 6000 years old) treat non-believers with the utmost respect they deserve.

    So, Jim…this is my humble attempt to extend an olive branch over the pond. I’m very sorry for the way I’ve managed our dialogue and ask for your forgiveness.

    That’s all…nothing more. No ulterior motive here…just a good ‘ol fashioned apology.

    Hope you’re having a great summer.

    Todd

  105. That’s very decent of him. When his website is finished can you post the link? Sounds interesting.

  106. I don’t think he’s set up a domain yet, I could be wrong. I’m sure he’ll drop us a line when it is up and running. I don’t hold out much hope for him doing what he has said he will do, however. He’s been promising me a reply to a fundamental question I asked him 6 months ago.

  107. I’m gonna butt in on stuff that isn’t my business: That does sound interesting, but these “challenge” things tend to include a lot of moving the goal posts. Has anyone seen that 101 Scientific Facts of the Bible thing?

    The other thing, the question about “what would convince you,” it’s a lot harder to answer than it sounds. When I can’t come up with something that would convince me 100% that God exists, I’m often accused of dodging the question.

    But, let’s say we did the same thing with Superman. Would seeing him work? Well, it could just be a guy in a costume. What about seeing him fly? He could be using wires, or something. And so on. That’s not to say there’s NOTHING that could convince you that Superman was real, it’s just a difficult hypothetical to answer, since you have to take so many things into account.

    “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence,” & all.

    Right then. Butting back out, for now….

  108. The answer to the reverse question, “what would convince you God does exist”, is easy. Each and every claim made in His name would have to be true. Every last bit of it. Anything less than this and He is neither omniscient nor omnibenevolent, because he either chooses not to intervene when something is done in His name which is evil, or he can not intervene, in which case he is not omnipresent. The three ‘O’s are something of a problem for those who claim to be a deist, when, as in the case with Todd, they shore up holes in their argument with theistic and religious morphology.

    They mix and match between three very different concepts as to what the nature of a creator god might be, so as to paper-over the cracking evidence right there in their own holy book which directly contradicts the idea that He is all three. Picking a choosing is not a foreign concept to the terminally religious, but when you put it into a direct question on what it would take to convince them they are wrong, they realise very quickly the answer to that question would be something which very much looks like the evidence as it currently stands from cosmology, biology and all of the scientific methodologies they most vehemently dispute.

    What usually happens next, is that they either suppress the urge to admit you have a point (knowing that this would mean they have understood your argument because you understand and have refuted theirs) or they tell themselves this must be one of those “atheist trick questions” the leader of their Alpha Course warned them about and they regurgitate something about the fool in his heart denying God, or some other nonsense designed to sound like an informed answer, but which fundamentally fails nevertheless to answer the original question.

    Incidentally, another of my favourite outstanding questions for the literalists is, ‘where is the archeological evidence of the exodus?’

  109. “What would constitute reasonable evidence to convince you God does not exist?”

    Interesting, but I don’t think Todd will be able to answer this as the existance of God is not a scientific hypothesis. I belive since most arguments for God seem to stem from the supposed existence of the moral law, agape, music/art, the yearning for God etc etc, that evidence against God would be the falsification or diminishment of these. I don’t mean to put words in his mouth though.

    “The three ‘O’s are something of a problem for those who claim to be a deist, when, as in the case with Todd”

    I don’t think Todd is a deist. Einstein was a deist, Todd is most definitely a theist!

    “Incidentally, another of my favourite outstanding questions for the literalists is, ‘where is the archeological evidence of the exodus?’”

    Did you ask Todd this? I imagine this one would be quite easy to answer.

  110. The exodus question isn’t that difficult to figure out, but it at least it gets them thinking.

    Todd doesn’t know what he is, that is why I used the mix and match analogy.

  111. I think it is great that Todd apologized. I think that is part of the beauty of faith that as we grow, we learn to die to our desires including our desire to always be right. When we die to our desires, we begin to see the humanity of others which is shared among all.

    Instead of seeing others as nails, we see others as people with value who were made in the image of God and therefore loved by God. If we participate in the love of God, then we will love even our enemies because God loves even those who at this time hate him as demonstrated by taking their place on the cross.

    As the Bible says, It is God’s Will that none should perish but that everyone will come to repentance.”

  112. Perfect circular reasoning, yet again, Zdenny.

    The fact is, Todd wouldn’t have had anything to apologies for if he’d actually listened to half of the answers he got to the questions he asked. Those of us who took the time to engage with him knew early on that he wasn’t interested in learning anything which didn’t agree with his pre-existing opinion, but we answered him anyway, because the only way to combat wilful religious ignorance is with reason and evidence–regardless of the preparedness of the religionist to actually listen and understand what they are being told.

    Incidentally, if you need imagine yourself on a cross just to act humanly towards your fellow man, I’d seek treatment before the voices tell you to climb a clock-tower and aim for the sinners.

  113. “When we die to our desires, we begin to see the humanity of others which is shared among all.”

    I’ve highlighted this particular phrase for separate comment, because I couldn’t agree with it more if I tried. The point being that I don’t feel the compulsion to frame it in religious mumbo-jumbo in the way you do.

    It is true that when we abandon the self and attempt to see the world, as much as we possibly can, from the point of view of other people, the immediate sticking point is not that other people are ignorant of this central truism; of the innate human desire to love being greater than to hate. No. The elephant in the room is that those who have truly achieved enlightenment of this kind, immediately have their words and intentions, actions and pronouncements interpreted and mangled through other people’s ideas of what their life was intended to symbolise.

    There is no third party account of someone’s enlightened life which substitutes in any way shape or form an attempt by the reader to reach for enlightenment of their own. No book of ancient myths could possibly stand-in for a real human effort to live a moral and good life independent of that crutch. That is why you give away so much about your true intentions when you hijack a word like “god”, and give it a particular definition, specific to your sect of choice. Narrowing and filtering what it actually means along the way. Privatising revelation. Capitalised forgiveness, with conditions.

    Or take for example the automatic call and response retort of the religious, “I’ll pray for you”. What on Earth kind of special powers do you think you are entitled to, exactly? And doesn’t it show a great lack of faith in His divine plan, that He should take instruction from someone so unenlightened that they should think the Him open to suggestions on how He should partake in the life of someone who just so happens to live perfectly happily in a world where He doesn’t actually exist?

    Convenient faith, of this kind, is practised by 99.9% of Christians. It is no more interested in achieving enlightenment, or even come close to true awareness, than I am close to becoming a Formula 1 racing driver. The difference is, I am realistic about it. If I had faith that one day I would drive in a Grand Prix, it wouldn’t make it any more likely to happen, just because I wished that it were so. Yet prayer promises the faithful that one day their dreams will come true–all the while lowering their expectations of what that dream might be, until eventually they’re happy to interpret any random series of events as being confirmation of their pre-existing bias–which they will retrospectively reinterpret to make it fit whatever point they were originally trying to make.

  114. Jim, I am encouraged that you are moving towards the Christianity!

    PZ, Nietzsche and Ayn Rand all believe that dying to ones desires is absolute insanity. PZ stated in a recent video that you ought to mock those who disagree with you. Nietzsche rejected suicide in exchange of empowering one to live out their desires in an existential reality and Ayn Rand believes that altruism is cannibalism.

    Your move aware from the leaders of the atheistic movement can only be an act of the Spirit of God.

    In your statement, you state my lack of faith in the divine plan due to prayer. On the contrary, the divine plan includes the prayers of the Saints. God has always known my prayer and He has always know His response to that prayer from eternity. I am not denying the divine plan; rather, I am living it out.

    Lastly, you confuse belief and faith. A person can believe whatever they want. Faith on the other hand is the work of God in the life of the individual that allows us to participate in the love of God. When you ask Todd what would cause him to disbelieve, it is a strange question because denying God is like denying Gravity. The fact is that a person can deny any experience including gravity; however, is it rational to deny the existence of gravity which we experience everyday.

    Christianity is unique because it also provides an objective standard for its claim. Christ resurrection is a historically confirm fact from a scientific viewpoint. Jesus resurrection was confirmed by multiple witnesses in several independent contexts. The claims of the eyewitnesses were also investigated by others such as Luke and Mark who sought to know if the claims were true. James the half brother of Jesus even wrote a book claiming that Jesus was indeed the Son of God who had rose from the dead which he was a witness of. Paul claims that over 500 witnesses of the resurrection existed with most of them being alive at the time of his life which Mark and Luke could easily have cross checked.

    If you hold to the scientific method and believe that it determines what is rational to believe, then the evidence for the resurrection is overwhelming unless of course you reject it because of your dogmatic belief in naturalism.

    You are a lot closer to becoming a Christian than you know my friend.

  115. “If you hold to the scientific method and believe that it determines what is rational to believe, then the evidence for the resurrection is overwhelming unless of course you reject it because of your dogmatic belief in naturalism.”

    Please present this ‘overwhelming evidence’. Also, naturalism is not incompatible with faith, so an understanding of it does not necessarily lead to an a priori rejection of any theological framework.

    “You are a lot closer to becoming a Christian than you know my friend.”

    Please expand on this comment.

  116. Zdenny, he’s not denouncing atheism. That’s just more of your “you can’t be a good person unless you’re Christian” tripe. So, rather than admit that you were wrong, you simply tell yourself that Jim is becoming a Christian.

    This is, of course, patently absurd. After all of the commentary he’s done on this issue, you expect one sentence of yours to completely change his outlook on the world?

    Pride is a sin, you know….

  117. On weekends when my girlfriend is here, I self impose a ban on blogging and replying to emails, because we see little enough of each other as it is, but I couldn’t let this one slide.

    Zdenny. I am glad that you have found a way to negotiate your way through life that makes sense to you. But if you think anything that you have said here makes any sense to anyone else, then there really isn’t any point in continuing this exchange. You have reenforced every stereotype of the wilfully deluded, self obsessed religionist in the book and succeeded in making exactly zero sense on a wide range of issues.

    You are either an unacknowledged comedy genius or a truly confused and vulnerable individual. Either way, I wish you luck with your life and I genuinely look forward to hearing about your trip to the Natural History Museum. But until then, please stop coming back for more ridicule, because that’s just not what I write this blog for. It’s supposed to be about exchanging ideas, but you simply don’t have any of your own. Sorry to be so harsh sometimes, I know you mean well and that you enjoy being challenged. But you’re just not letting any of it sink in.

    Stay safe. Jim.

  118. Michael wanted me to expand on why Jim is close to becoming a Christian. Jim stated that he saw the value of altruism. He has stated this on a couple occasions now so I believe he must believe it.

    The leaders of the Atheist movement all denounce altruism and for good reason. When a person dies to their desires, there has to be a reason for it. The only reason for dying to your own personal desires is because there is a transcendent reality that is acknowledged that provides meaning that goes beyond the desires of the individual.

    In order to die to your own desires in order to love, you have to acknowledge that something exists outside of you that is more meaningful than your own life. Atheist don’t acknowledge a reality outside of their own bubble so dying to ones desires is a senseless irrational act.

    However, Jim in his heart is acknowledging a transcendent reality which he is responding to. The acknowledgement of a transcendent reality upon which he sacrifices his own desires is the door to Christianity. Jim is literally standing at the door and knocking wanting to be let in.

    Jim can deny what is taking place in his heart all he wants; however, based on his own words, it is real and it is something he cannot deny at this point having admitted to it on two occasions. I am greatly encouraged by his progress; however, this is a work of God and nothing that I have done for certain.

    Hope that helps!

  119. To be fair that actually makes sense Z, although it is still a gigantic leap from acknowledging that objective reality exists, to logically becoming a Christian. Honestly the whole ‘altruism=God’ argument is false to me, it doesn’t take long to realise that socio/psychopaths etc would seem to falsify the idea of ‘the moral law’ or at least confirm that it is indeed not ‘universal and invariant’ as I have heard Christians say.

    Please bear in mind that evolutionary theory can account for the ‘conscience’ perfectly well without the need to resort to a God (I mean even Chimpanzees have been observed to display ‘shame’) and even if it couldn’t again that would not prove your particular religion is correct.

    As far as Jim goes I really don’t think you should expect to see him become a Christian anytime soon. Secular humanism is specifically designed to satisfy those sort of crises, so I believe that would suffice in his case.

    I notice you didn’t present evidence for the resurrection, perhaps because there is in fact none? No matter anyway, I have another question…how do you resolve the ‘moral law’ with the existance of people who completely lack a conscience? Do you simply blame the devil and be done with it?

  120. I don’t really think it made any sense. It was all just the same “atheists are horrible, amoral people” tripe Zdenny has been on about. The [il]logical leap from there means that you’re becoming a Christian, & you’re just in denial. Seriously, “reality outside your bubble”? What is that? I don’t recall an atheist ever DENYING SCIENTIFIC THEORIES because of their beliefs. Hint.

    And then there’s the “leaders of the atheist movement” comment. I’m vaguely interested in hearing what that nonsense is about. My gut tells me she means Darwin, Dawkins, & maybe even Hitler, for good measure.

    Seriously, Zdenny, you could at least TRY to take in some of what you’re being told. Jim doesn’t preach the glory of atheism in your blog.

  121. Lithp…matter can exist outside the bubble in an atheist worldview; however, meaning cannot exist outside your bubble. There is a big difference. In order to die to your desires as Jim has indicated, you have to recognize meaning as existing outside your individual bubble. Meaning only comes from a Mind and that mind is God. Jim is literally knocking at the door of Christianity wanting to become a part of the reality of love that exists outside himself. This is how everyone eventually becomes a Christian. It is the door to Christ who has made it possible for humanity to participate in the love of God for eternity.

  122. Let me just clear up this “die to your desires” business. I wasn’t agreeing with you, Zdenny, because you had it right. I was pointing out that there is no need to artificially attach supernatural meaning to this simple human truism. If you understood that this was the point I was making, you certainly didn’t acknowledge it in any meaningful way, in your subsequent replies. In fact quite the opposite. You then went on to base your following comments upon the suggestion that your original misunderstanding was in fact a valid point. It wasn’t. You didn’t understand the point in the first place.

    So perhaps I should reiterate what was being said, yet again, for the hard of reading.

    If, in attempting to transcend our selfish desires and think instead about other people, we attain a sense of pride in having done the right thing, then by definition we have not, in fact, bypassed our selfish desires–we have merely redrawn the lines of demarkation between altruism and self-interest.

    In Zdenny’s case, this redefinition silhouettes what are in fact a completely unrealistic set of expectations. For example, that she will be rewarded in another life for her actions in the present–even if (and this is the rub) by observing that mind-set she becomes obligated to fundamentally misrepresent the thinking and behaviour by which other people have arrived at another opinion–no matter how much more intellectually honest that contrary position may be.

    This is why I am not a Christian. This is why no-one who has actually thought about “it” is a Christian either. This is why, as the original article attempted to explain, it is impossible to go from a state of mind where one understands something, into one where in order to belong to a different mind-set, one must wilfully misrepresent what was previously held to be true.

    A willing suspension of critical faculties is not the same as having an open mind.

    And yet Zdenny’s entire argument appears to revolve around exactly this kind of a fundamental contradiction. She is advocating that it is better to silence your own internal dialogue, so as to better tune into the background noise of prescribed authority. That to drift along according to the whims of whomsoever decides themselves both humble and paradoxically worthy enough to interpret the meaning of the supernatural and therefore arbitrary, is preferable to a life of thinking for oneself about tangible, measurable, evidential reality.

    This is the very definition of totalitarianism. The exact system of thought-control Zdenny and millions of hard-line conservatives like her, in the US alone, spend so much time focusing our fears upon, they engage en-mass in a blithe game of scenario completion syndrome whose social and political consequences are more likely to actually bring those fears into being.

    Lastly, Zdenny’s “knocking at the door” analogy. This is exactly the kind of disingenuous word-play we’ve come to expect from that new breed of, “hey I’m open minded, so long as the answer to any question is always ‘God did it'” Christian. The fortunate aspect of this particular tract of all broadcast and no receive “witnessing”, is that it exposes exactly how narrow the god of the gaps has been forced to become, since the evolution of the internet has begun to bring previously abstract and esoteric concepts from theoretical physics, such as string theory and the principal of maximum entropy, into the minds of anyone who can use a search engine and set an hour a day aside to read what they find and learn to live without blind faith.

    That realm between our imagination and the awe-inspiring spectacle of the sky at night, which has been filled with superstition and religious gobbledegook for thousands of years, is slowly being filled, in the collective consciousness, with a new kind of knowledge about our universe, which is so much more beautiful than anything the church has yet to come up with, that–in a way– I think we should genuinely feel pity for those in the majority of our society who have yet to learn how to let go of primal certainties and fears behind the sky-hook, father-figure complex so many Zdenny’s in this world seem to cherish at such a devastating cost to their overall mental well-being.

  123. Zdenny: Assuming you can’t have meaning in your life & be an atheist (you can), it’s still a completely illogical leap that that meaning can ONLY come from the CHRISTIAN God. Honestly, when are you going to accept that your straw man portrayl of atheism is wrong, & that you don’t know what you’re talking about? I thought Christians were supposed to be humble, or something….

  124. Jim said, “If, in attempting to transcend our selfish desires and think instead about other people, we attain a sense of pride in having done the right thing, then by definition we have not, in fact, bypassed our selfish desires–we have merely redrawn the lines of demarkation between altruism and self-interest.”

    Jim had to deny what you had previously agreed to. I said a person has to die to their desires; however, you stuck another desire in their called pride. In addition, you added another desire of future reward.

    As such, you really are just a selfish guy who never had really died to his desires. Your thinking actually forms the basis for all dictatorship that exist across the world as well as a person’s desire to abort children and kill the unproductive in our society in order to provide more resources for those who are strong (i.e. it cost a lot to put an old person through heart surgery which explains the recent actions of the NHS.)

    In your post, you said, “I’ve highlighted this particular phrase for separate comment, because I couldn’t agree with it more if I tried.”

    However, once I pointed out to you that you were at the door of the Christian faith, you jumped back into a selfish thinking that doing something ‘Good’ (also a loaded term) is done to obtain pride.

    Jim, God is at work in your heart and you initial response was your honest response. You are now playing cards with a poker cap on because you have demonstrated to the world that you lost a hand. The fact is that you are actually winning because the life of love is not about getting; rather, it is a life that is not self-seeking.

    In fact, when you get married, you are going to discover that the best marriage is one where both spouses die to their desires. Marriage isn’t 50-50; rather, it is 100-100. However, in order to discover love in your future relationship, you will have to died to your desires. Once your desires are annihilated, you can then see your spouse for who she is. The ideal relationship is the one where both can see each other for who they are.

    However, without Christ, it is impossible to die to your desires. Faith is a work of God. Don’t feel bad that you lost a hand because you can now see the door to the Christian faith that you have never seen before. The door is so beautiful once it is seen. It is a door that is constantly drawing you and I know you can sense it.

    God Bless.

  125. Every year, thousands of people who would happily describe themselves as evangelical fundamentalist Christians, seek In-vitro Fertilisation because they can not conceive naturally. In the process of harvesting fertilised eggs, hundreds of embryos which consist of less cells than are in the brain of a housefly are destroyed, because the self same evangelical Christians who oppose stem-cell research to cure cancer and Alzheimer’s disease believe once an egg is fertilised it is immediately imbued with an immortal soul, and therefore cannot be used to cure people who are already born.

    The duplicity and politically convenient hypocrisy which largely defines Christianity is everything I hate about the world. It is the rotting, gangrenous infection of society which, along with all other religions and cults which inspire loyalty in their followers by spreading fear and misinformation, which people like me will not rest, in our determination to spread the peace and love of truth, until all superstitions are dead, dead, dead.

    You select passages of text in which I have tried to explain to you why your assumptions about people who are not religious are wrong and you twist them until they fit whatever opinion you want them to fit. You are dishonest with yourself on a level which baffles the mind. I cannot begin to even imagine what sort of mental gymnastics you must have to go through when presented with even the most basic of challenges, which are pitted into the shit covered lens filter with which you look out at the world through.

    I did not “jump back” from what I said. I jumped back from what you said I said, in this seemingly endless, entirely one way conversation. I simply do not know what you are getting out of this, but if you think for one nanosecond that this, of all the things you could be doing with your time, is bringing me, you or anyone else closer to your ruinous definition of Christ, I am sorry to tell you I can’t imagine anything I would worship less than a god which settles for followers with such low expectations of life.

    You talk about your faith as if it is something we poor unfortunates should be jealous of; that we’re missing out on something profound. I’ve got news for you, it isn’t. We get that you’re into it and everything, that much is abundantly clear, but the very fact that you persist in misrepresenting what is being said to you, says more than mere words ever could about just how deeply unhappy and confused you really are. That is why you are here. You know there is more to “it” than “be like Jesus or suffer for eternity”, but you just aren’t honest enough to admit it.

    You do not know what true intellectual honesty is. You can never know, for as long as you think it is achieved by filtering everything you hear and see, learn and listen to through the particular idiosyncrasies of the sect of Christianity you happen to have an emotional attachment to, so all consuming, you mistake confusion for revelation. With that as a starting point, there is simply no way of establishing your own opinion on anything–least of all what the Israelite god of war has planned for people who can and have proved a thousand times he is nothing but a myth. Now go the fuck away and take you and your kind with you off my fucking planet.

  126. Speaking of religious hypocrisy, I’m not sure about being humble, but I know there’s something about not judging people. And since every single one of Zdenny’s arguments have been “atheists are amoral, terrible people,” well…yeah….

    Seriously, why do you even bother commenting here? Are you seriously so arrogant to think that you need to teach us how to be good, what Christianity is about, etc.?

    Why continue to speak to Jim if you’re not going to take in a single thing he says, & just go, “Aha! You said something I can twist to fit my narrow minded view of the world!”?

  127. Just a quick note to say that Zdenny was given 24 hours to post a final reply to this thread and now her IP address is blocked. I didn’t want to do this, but there’s only so many times you can ask someone to read more non-fiction before realising they’re just not interested in learning anything about themselves or anyone else.

    Comments will remain open, but please refrain from commenting on anything Zdenny has mentioned as she is, as of now, permanently banned from posting any replies.

    If you are Zdenny and you are reading this, please feel free to send me an email at thatjim@gmail.com if and when you do decide to visit a Natural History or Science Museum, in your area, and ask anything you want of the experts in palaeontology, archeology, geology and all the other mutually corroborative, independently acquired evidential studies of reality you claim don’t exist.

  128. You didn’t ‘have’ to do it at all. I can understand banning Todd after some of the things he said to you over e-mail, but this just seems quite needless and perhaps indicative of a trend? She holds some misguided views yes, but I don’t think she deserved to be attacked and then banned for expressing them. It is your blog of course to do with as you will, but poor show all the same.

  129. Hooray, I get to butt in again!

    Her being attacked was the natural response. Quite frankly, she was being a collossal bitch. I did it. Jim did it. Everyone did it. Ignoring the hyperbole for a second, I’m actually surprised that he was cordial for as long as he was.

    Personally, I disagree with the ban too, but that’s just because of my habitual use of blocks as a last resort to extreme douchebaggery & spamming. Although I would not have done it myself, I can see why it was done: There is really no use in talking to Zdenny. She will never look past her bias long enough to realize that *gasp!* atheists are people too, & there might be a point to some of their opinions!

    She had her say. There is no need for her to attention whore here any longer, & IIRC, she also made some sort of dramatic “I’m leaving” post.

    Perhaps the way Zdenny was treated doesn’t make for a very good example, but what are you gonna do?

    And I mean you.

    I have nothing to do with this, besides sticking my opinionated nose in places where it doesn’t belong.

  130. “Perhaps the way Zdenny was treated doesn’t make for a very good example, but what are you gonna do?

    And I mean you.”

    I believe I already did it? I have also moved the debate to her blog, although I doubt I will get anywhere.

    If you think I am defending her opinions or debating tactics you are mistaken, I just dislike censorship and feel she did actually bring something worthwhile to these discussions, despite the fact that she was irritating. That said I reiterate that this is Jim’s blog and if he wants her gone then that is really the end of it.

  131. No, Michael is right. Banning is a harsh thing to do. But to be fair, I did try to explain on several occasions to Zdenny that if she didn’t start to bring her replies around to something we could all build upon, there was no point in her continuing to post here–but she persevered in cutting and pasting the same opinions we already knew she held–so I really had no choice but to stand by my decision.

    I know from my visitor numbers on certain articles how many more people read this blog than actually comment on it. I also know that the one thing which prevents me from commenting on someone else’s blog, more than anything else, it’s the quality of the replies from others who found that thread before me. If I see generic banter in a thread, which adds nothing to the collective knowledge of a given subject, I leave without commenting–and there is nothing more “out there” than the opinion of people like Zdenny. It’s everywhere. It’s my reaction to that which defines this blog and I hope why people like your good selves actually come here.

    I’m interested in talking to all kinds of people, but I also want a blog which tries to maintain decent standards of debate and Zdenny just isn’t interested in doing that. She’s all about bringing the conversation back to the talking points she’s already familiar with, despite that these often prove the very opposite of the point she’s trying to make. Since we are all just as capable (on our laziest days) of doing the same thing, I felt it was best for the overall well-being of the debate if I injected a breathing space.

    I should however make it quiet clear that I did this while making no attempt to hide the fact that, if anyone wants to continue banging their head against a brick wall, Zdenny has a blog of her own.

  132. Since my comment reply on Zdenny’s blog is awaiting moderation (and I suspect will remain so indefinitely) I’ve included it here.

    I am sorry to find yet more of the same selective quote mining which got you blocked from my blog in the first place, in this reply.

    You have once again raised this “die to your desires” business, without the honesty to report that my reply to this particular tract was a complete break-down of the logical inconsistencies in the point you were trying to make, which you then further solidified in your following reply by assuming my rebuttal to be a sign of a further weakness in an argument only you were making and on my behalf.

    I did not end the debate because I “saw the door [to Christianity and] realized that Atheism had nothing to offer”. Despite that this point would only make sense if I had ever described myself as an atheist in my correspondence with you, which I have not, the actual reason I ended the debate was because you summarily failed to acknowledge the validity of anything myself, Lithp, Michael and others were attempting to explain to you.

    You mistake our difference of opinion for my refusal to understand your position, when in reality I understand your point of view perfectly well–that is why I refute it. You have to get over the idea that people only reject religion because they don’t understand it. You credit your perceived opposition with very little intelligence when you make this error in judging them–which merely highlights your own lack of honesty.

    Early on in your arrival at my blog comments you raised some interesting points and I acknowledged that, specifically on morality for example, there was a lot to be learned from the teachings of people who have reached for a higher standard in their own lives. You immediately mistook this to be a chink in my atheist armour; a way in to my argument which only your particular definition of Christianity could fully answer.

    In doing so you completely missed the originality of your own initial point–because, once you imagined that you had found a way “in” and allowed your biases to take over your thinking, you immediately discredited anything I replied to you with, as a misunderstanding of your point, which is not the case.

    The fact is, I have never described myself as an atheist. The word is useless as an adjective and even more so as a noun. It may be that for reasons of grammatical efficiency I have used it in place of, say, ‘awake’, or ‘irreligious’, or ‘realist’ in a general description of those who are without superstition, but in a direct description of myself, I see no point in using a word for what I am not.

    We do not describe someone who doesn’t fly the NASA space shuttle, as a non-astronaut. Nor should we describe people who are not superstitious by their lack of credulity. And yet, seemingly on no better evidence than I posted a video on my blog of an interview with Ayn Rand, you assume that I am what you say I am.

    Similarly, you assume, because of this, that I unable to answer the question of morality, or where mutual reciprocity and altruism come from, if not from God, when even a cursory glance at my blog, let alone the first page of Google results on these very topics would show, that bronze-age magic is not required to explain the evolutionary origins of such qualities as love, compassion and group solidarity. If you think it is, you need to read a lot more non-fiction than I am able to prove you with. But you might start at your local library under Darwin.

    Therefore, I see not point in wasting yet another paragraph on explaining why, to be a good person, you do not need to be a religious one. There is even less point in explaining to you, yet again, why you specifically do not need to be a Christian to be a good person. The fact that the contrary is often true is also, I would suggest, a point similarly lost on you–and I suspect will forever remain so.

    All I can genuinely wish for you to take away from our little encounter, is an itch in the back of your mind that won’t go away until you scratch it; that the only way to truly come back at me with something interesting to both of us, is your accounting of that day at some point in the future, when you take yourself and your family to a Natural History Museum armed with questions for the experts–who I guarantee will not ask you to take anything they say on faith.

  133. I wasn’t assuming anything. I saw the point that you were trying to make, as well. I suppose I didn’t clarify that.

  134. Wait, what? Is she like…intentionally mispelling your name as an insult, or something? Aww, that’s so cute!

  135. I believe it was Chris Rock who said that a man should never argue with a women because men have a need to make sense….you should see the confused mumbo jumbo she has written in ‘response’ to my argument. And no Jim, she didn’t put your response up;

    “The only reason I did not post Jim’s response is because it was dishonest. I allow everything to post that is honest; however, his argument that I was not interacting with the post is clearly false as anyone can read for themselves. I find this behavior common with those who God is speaking to and I am absolutely certain that Jim will someday stop praying to rocks and start to worship the Mind that is behind all of Creation.”

    Fuck it I’m actually glad you banned her to be fair! I’ll just wait for the next bible thumper to start posting here, maybe that one will be constrained by a need to actually construct an argument, rather than relying on outlandish rhetoric, strawmen and wordplay to get by.

  136. I knew there must have been some word or phrase which formed the tipping point in her desire to communicate and her subconscious need broadcast her fears and it would seem to be the word “honesty”. Though quite where the rocks come into it I’m at a loss. Maybe she thinks I’m really a Mormon? Either way—I did try.

  137. “Though quite where the rocks come into it I’m at a loss. Maybe she thinks I’m really a Mormon?”

    Brilliant.

  138. The biggest problem is not ‘faith’ in God or Gods it is in the faith that the religion you follow either by choice or by being born into it is the correct one.
    A pretty poor God that does not tell you which religion to follow or does it really come down to a light being switch on. Obviously this God thing has a problem with the light as different people seem to get a different colour.
    Maybe its just down to which one has the best parties.

  139. I’m posting this here as an extended tweet, not an opening salvo for a new debate. I mean no offense by saying that I truly don’t have time to interact on this issue here. I barely have time to interact on my own blog. I hope you understand.

    You’re not constructing an argument against theism with this. You’re begging the question. “Given that atheism is the only intellectually honest and reasonable position, McGrath and other Christians couldn’t have been there and left it.” “No true Scotsman could believe what I do and then be convinced otherwise.” “No one could say things that contradict what I believe and be reasonable.” In short, simply being an atheist isn’t an argument for (or against) atheism.

    If a “former atheist” critiques the atheism he once held, he is only in error if he tries to spread his criticism over all brands of atheism (something that I think McGrath tries not to do). But it doesn’t follow that being in error in this way invalidates his claim that he was once an atheist of some sort or another.

    If this criticism somehow misses your point (quite possible), I apologize.

  140. Respectful of your time, Minarchy, I’ll try to be brief.

    It seems that the basic principal of Christianity, removing all side-issues and particulars of certain sects and creeds, is an acceptance that in order to know the creator of the universe when the physical body dies, one must also accept that this creator impregnated his own virgin mother so that he could be born human and sacrifice himself to himself that we might be forgiven of sins we have yet to commit.

    Allowing oneself to think for one second that this patently absurd myth is a pathway to the truth; the nature of nature and our place in it–makes a statement on the clarity by which the neophyte is thinking from which all else stems. The fact that McGrath claims to have once been an atheist, means that he previously understood this to be true on a fundamental level, but now chooses instead to subdue his critical faculties and embrace that which simply can not be true.

    I am happy that he feels this is what his life is missing. I am happy whenever anyone finds happiness. I am not a nihilist. But the fact remains, one simply doesn’t shift away from a position which is based upon verifiable facts, to one which specifically demands that evidence be sought without veracity. And yet McGrath also claims to accept this.

    Specifically, in a debate with Christopher Hitchens, on the universal constant, McGrath turned a very funny colour when Hitchens reminded him about a paper he wrote, in which he acknowledged that Steven Weinberg’s disproof of Hoyle’s equations struck a damaging blow against the claim of the deist, that fundamental particles could only have been created by a supreme intelligence. And yet, when it comes to making truth-claims about the arbiter of morality, McGrath re-erects his blind spot to this fact and once again dons his Christian headgear.

    It is this split personality which is so problematic to those of us who do not hold religious superstitions, because they are the filter by which so many decisions are made on our behalf. It is the cluttered thinking which allows countries to be invaded while millions are starving. The insurance company profits while the medicine they hock is denied to those who need it. To right these wrongs in all of society we need to do away with cluttered thinking and embrace reality. Apologists like McGrath would be the first to admit this is true. And yet his prima-facie claim to a kind of Christianity an order of magnitude more sophisticated than that held by Billy Graham or Pat Roberson is immediately called into disrepute on the most basic tenet of the Christian faith they all share.

  141. To Jim:

    About that itch that you want Zdenny to scratch…

    Its really the best that you can do in a situation like this. Some people might say not to bother, but, I was raised Christian and as I got to be an adult, there were several itches I had to scratch, either because they interfered with the truth of science, or the Church’s teachings was very wanting in social policy.

    But I kept scratching at the itch, and kept making tiny compromises about what I would accept from the Church, and what I knew better. That sounds arrogant, to say I know better than the Church, but that is exactly the problem. The Church doesn’t know better, the Church is just a mass of followers, following a group definition of what is ‘right’ or ‘just’. I had the bravery to quietly decide that I wouldn’t go along with certain tenets. Eventually I grew out of wanting to be involved with Church at all. 5 years later, I realized I am a freethinker, that God, if there is anything, is the one of Einstein, but if that’s so, there’s no point in all this ‘church’ business.

    As a child, I always felt I lived my life kindly because I was a good person… even when I was being told I only did so because Christ lived in my heart. Its good to see my instincts were right — i’ve rejected religion and worship and whaddaya know, I’m still a good person.

    See you around,
    Kaybee

  142. Zdenny doesn’t show any signs of being open enough to get it. Remember, openmindedness is a bad trait, because that’s how one gets corrupted and led astray. After all, we’re all just a bunch of bleating sheep in a flock, without the ability to make our own decisions, yes? Well, at least that’s the way I was made to feel about it.

    Maybe, someday, Zdenny will get it!

  143. Just a quick note in the comments feed to say that Zdenny and myself are going to give it one last shot at debating on the facts and the facts alone. Due to some serious software problems her blog appears to be having at the moment, I suspect much of the conversation might end up happening here, rather than there, but if you do want to catch up on what has been said so far, the first two threads I have responded to are here…

    http://zdenny.com/?p=1804

    http://zdenny.com/?p=1790

  144. I’m just as bad, if not worse. I went to those links & responded. As you can see, they’re only half-hearted.

    Why should I do research & construct an airtight argument if I know she’s just going to accuse me of being a bad person, & call it a day?

  145. I know it’s frustrating Lithp, but the way I see it, the more time Zdenny spends reading honest attempts at explaining reality, the less time she spends reading evangelical propaganda.

    “One Christian at a time, sweet cheeses.”

  146. I don’t think ZDenny is dishonest, I just think she is used to looking at things a certain way. She has fallen into a trap many religious people do, which is the belief that science and religion are in some way incompatible. This is obviously erroneous since they inhabit completely different realms of experience. Science and the Bible may clash, but the Bible is so open to interpretation and assertions of allegorical content that Christians could really use it to support almost any scientific world view they wanted couldn’t they. Hopefully if she is continuously challenged she might drop the leanings towards creationism and intelligent design, but that is the best you could hope for really, and even that is unlikely if she has tied her conception of her God into the literal truth of biblical scripture, which she seems to have hasn’t she.

    Nevertheless I enjoy challenging her as she always responds and never ever gets petty or inflammatory, although she is a big fan of condescension!

  147. I think the most inflammatory and petty thing she does is the same thing all fundies do when they sign off with that one about praying for you. I actually find it an extremely aggressive thing to say, but not for the reasons I’m certain they think I do (that whole “God knows your heart” schtick).

    It’s saying, “I have something you wish you had and all I have to do to perpetually convince myself of that is ignore everything you’ve taken the time to explain to me and regurgitate more of the same received opinion you already knew I held”.

    It’s extremely ignorant and childish, but for as long as they know it has an effect on us they’ll continue saying it, because they mistake our reaction to it for anger–as opposed to the genuine pity we feel when someone contents themselves with the Fisher Price play-set version of science and philosophy, when they could so easily have the Cray Supercomputer of free thinking and reason.

    I agree that the best we can hope for is that she actually reads some of the books she already claims to have read, specifically on the fact of evolution by means of natural selection–but even then I doubt she’ll get as far as Father Gregor Johann Mendel before someone on her Alpha Course witnesses her out of any actual evidence she might come across. Such is life.

  148. I don’t hugely care whether she’s being intentionally dishonest or not. Either way, it’s annoying.

    That said, I’m still itching to see how she’ll respond to the arm-snake.

  149. Jim I agree with you about the ‘praying for you’ comments. To me they are an insinuation that I am in some way in need of divine intervention to save me from my sinning ways or something. I can totally see why they think that we may be in need of ‘saving’, with all of the presuppositions they hold regarding right behaviour and beliefs etc, but to a person without those beliefs, it does seem more than a little condescending.

    What I like to do in response is imagine that they are praying to the wrong God, and thus making the ‘real’ one madder and madder, whilst my own indifferences scoots on by unnoticed. If you imagine the ‘real god’ as the flying spagetti monster complete with wavy tentacles it’s even more amusing. At least to me.

  150. Yeah! If I only had a £1 for the amount of times someone has sacrificed a goat to the Bizantine god of cheese, in the hope I’d open my heart to the truth of astrology, I’d be a rich man. But then it’s swings and roundabouts, because they have a hell of a lot harder time getting into Paradise than camels jumping through the eye of needles do. So, every cloud…

  151. Zdenny’s latest reply, on her own blog, has convinced me of my earlier suspicion that she simply isn’t that interested in learning—not just about challenges to religious assumptions, but anything at all to do with observed reality and scientific objectivism.

    Therefore, after giving it a genuine second attempt, I hereby declare myself far too busy being honestly inquisitive to spend any further time around the catatonia of arrogant certainty. The basics just aren’t sinking in and it is a complete waste of time and effort trying.

    All future private e-mails will be automatically deleted and unread. If she wants to comment here she is welcome, but after writing several considered and, even though I do say so myself, well thought-out comments on her blog (linked directly below), it is obvious that she simply isn’t prepared to engage in any meaningful dialogue and I will no longer be posting any further replies to her, here or elsewhere. It’s like smashing your head off a wall made from sun-dried, festering bullshit only much less intellectually stimulating.

    http://zdenny.com/?p=1856#comment-269

    http://zdenny.com/?p=1851#comment-233

    http://zdenny.com/?p=1790#comment-244

  152. No. I’m just not that kind of person, Lithp. I gave her another shot because I wanted to absolutely categorically make sure it wasn’t my fault, but in this last round of exchanges, her determination to exactly contradict things which she herself has previously said and then claim she either didn’t say them (despite they’re right there on the page) mixed with a flat refusal to acknowledge that there is any such thing as logic, has convinced me she is way beyond capable of holding a normal conversation on matters of basic facts. Quite aside from matters of faith, spirituality, or what ordinary people learn in a regular high-school education.

    This might seem obvious, but she is quite literally a brain washed fundamentalist. You’d think this point was obvious to me by now, but in all honesty I’m only just beginning to realise just how insidious the process of indoctrination these unfortunate people are put through really is—and I just don’t have the professional training to be sure I don’t make her twenty times worse, simply by being honest.

    It’s been an experience far beyond the learning curve of Todd—who was quite clearly barking mad from day one. Zdenny, on the other hand, genuinely showed promise. I now realise this was partly to do with the way many activist evangelicals are trained. Such as the methods of drawing people into arguments she uses, clearly lifted from the material she has been exposed to, which will occasionally pick up on genuine areas of scientific debate as a way of disingenuously interpreting these genuine gaps in our knowledge (that’s why it’s called science) as proof that a phantasmagorically stupid (and there really is no other word for it) set of ideas are therefore more valid, just because they don’t preclude flat out supernatural feculence.

    Conclusions:
    i) I’m glad I wasn’t raised an American evangelical.
    ii) People who were raised that way and yet still manage to grow out of it and live a normal life are braver and cleverer than I previously gave them credit for.
    iii) There is a shocking lack of professional help available for people who’ve been drawn into cults which have a facade of respectability to hide their true intentions, which are clear:

    • Provide complete misinformation from an impressionable age.
    • On a wide range of topics, including religious scripture itself, cite this misinformation as evidence.
    • Use this flawed evidence as a justification for anti-intellectualism and a mistrust of anything which isn’t false.
    • Cook on low heat until ready to vote Republican and serve with bread and wine.

  153. I suppose so. My big beef with her is the way that she thinks she can tell people what they think, or what is fact & what is not.

    Although, big long comment here…

    http://zdenny.com/?p=1790#comment-278

    …Makes me think I’m being lured into the same trap. Boredom is one thing. Why did I spend so much time explaining these things knowing full well that she is probably just going to dismiss it all & keep insisting that atheism is a sect of Hinduism?

  154. The “atheism is a sect of hinduism” thing absolutely had me in fits of laughter. I read it through aching checks and tears in my eyes clutching my stomach. I just kept reading it over and over to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. I had to go and make a coffee and step away from the keyboard before reading any more. Utterly amazing. It was almost like the most sublime Monty Python / Private Eye satire only tinged with a sense of abject terror that anyone could be so blissfully wrong and completely unaware of it at the same time.

    In fact, it’s almost sinister—but I have to say this again, as I’ve said it before, I would not be shocked if it transpired at some point down the line that we’ve all been seriously punked and Zdenny is in fact a comedy script writer or some other kind of practical joker, like a Chris Morris kind of so dark it’s scary kind of prankster. Who knows?

  155. Damnit. How could I screw up my wording so bad?

    That bit of semantics is just so nauseating. I bet she’d be frothing at the mouth if I said Jesus was a zombie, too.

    Yeesh, this is so…fun. Ignore your opponent’s points. Twist their words around to support your presuppositions. When they ask for proof, cal them ignorant. A winning strategy, copyright by Zdenny.

    Also, I just remembered to show her the arm-snake. This oughta be good.

  156. She’ll probably say something along the lines of admitting the arm-snake is clearly a genetic mutation and two paragraphs later contradict herself entirely by reasserting something about “added genes”—which I’m beginning to think must be a term taken from the fundie book of “how to sound like you know what you’re talking about and win an argument with atheist Darwinianists” in the section on what to say when confronted by the phrases, “burden of proof” and “independently acquired, mutually corroborated, falsifiable evidence”.

  157. Yeah, I don’t mean to be rude, but this woman needs to just stop talking, & actually go learn a thing or two about how logic, science, & vocabulary work. Like…srsly.

    Also, why is my avatar a sad face?

  158. Hey ya all!! The one arm or as PZ said the one leg snake was an interesting photo. When you look at a picture though, you have to ask if information has been added to the Genome or if a harmful mutation has taken place in the Genome. We don’t know until further study is done and the Genome is mapped for snake. We will just have to maintain a wait and see attitude. It appears to be a harmful mutation or perhaps a loss of information in the Genome. In addition, we would need the thing to mate to see if the mutation would carry into the next generation.

    On another point, if you really believe I am contradicting myself, you need to simply the contradiction in a logical form.

    On other news, they finished mapping the Genome for an Neanderthal and found that it contained all the additional genes that human DNA has. In addition, they found a 99.5 match in the genes with that of the humans Genomes that have already been mapped. I suspected it was simply a race of humanity that had become extinct. The fact is they already had evidence that it buried it dead, took care of the injuried, used tools, etc… The Bible records a number of races that are now extinct.

    I appreciate your feedback!

  159. Also, please don’t think that I don’t consider your arguments. I had an opportunity to sit down with Dr. William Craig. I believe to this day he thinks I may be on the verge of becoming an atheist.

    A true freethinker treats all ideas the same and tries not to close his mind to anything that is possible in reality. However, most of our learning is heavily dependent on what others have researched so when I actually get to meet one, I tend to hit their ideas pretty hard to see if they know what they are talking about and see if they can defend their viewpoints which then spurs me on to more research.

    I have learned alot from engaging in this type of activity. I am learning alot as I continue to grow in my knowledge. We should all be learners!

  160. See, the problem is that you talk about open-mindedness, but you don’t really practice it.

    You say you don’t know what caused the snake’s arm, but you immediately rule out every option that does not confirm to your pre-established views on evolution in your analysis. It’s either a loss of information or a harmful mutation, you say. Why? Most mutations are not harmful. And how would you get an arm through loss of protein?

    I also note that you seem to think it’s just random, meaningless data if it doesn’t pass on to the next generation. Frankly, there is nothing that says “all traits have to be passed on,” or “all non-harmful traits have to be passed on.” Your parents can have a different eye color than you, & it won’t disprove evolution, because it simply does not work that way.

    Actually, some snakes do have bony protrusions wheir “legs” would ordinarily be.

    Now, as for ignoring peoples’ arguments, please provide me with that evidence for scientific journals being hostile against Christianity that I asked for. Preferably present-day ones, & accomplished without digging up a dead German physicist & asserting that they’d tell me the same thing, with or without apropo quotations.

  161. The world respected journal Nature is currently embroiled in a heated debate with The Reason Project for publishing an article which was just about word for word sponsored by Intelligent Design advocates The Templeton Foundation.

    Whilst the editorial were forced to later point out that this was an extremely slanted article, it only made the press in the first place because of Nature’s keen interest in being seen not to discriminate against minority opinions—not necessarily because those groups who sponsor these alternative avenues of research have anything to say which can be backed up with actual science, but because they are publicly funded and notoriously litigious.

    These tax free groups and mega churches who co-sponsor the Discovery Institute and give harbour to con artists like Ray Comfort, Kent & Eric Hovind and Ken Ham et cetera are gaining traction because they make enough noise—not because what they are proposing has any basis in fact.

    The encouraging thing is, you know that as soon as someone has to stoop to accusing you of having a closed mind, because you aren’t prepared to suspend your critical faculties in order to encompass something which couldn’t possibly be true, you know that what they’re really telling you has far more to do with their unwillingness to admit they are wrong, than their prima-facie frustration with you and your pesky logic and reason.

    What the “Jesus is my scientist” freaks want now, isn’t acceptance and forgiveness for their fallaciousness, it’s retribution upon those who pointed it out in the first place.

    For as long as the comments on this thread remain open, Zdenny will always leave the last comment and it will always be a complete contradiction of things she has previously claimed to understand. Similarly, Lithp, myself, Michael and others, could spend forever pointing this out. The basic fact is, she isn’t interested in learning anything which doesn’t corroborate her existing opinion.

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