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More articles by PZ Myers can be found on Freethoughtblogs at the new Pharyngula!

Bring it on, Al

Category: CreationismKooks
Posted on: February 8, 2011 9:01 AM, by PZ Myers

Albert Mohler, that deluded Baptist zealot, has written an analysis of the New Atheism that puts evolution front and center. I actually sort of agree with him — these New/Gnu Atheists are predominantly scientific atheists who consider scientific explanations to be far better and more satisfying and most importantly, more true than religious explanations. Mohler lards his summary with gloppy accusations of "worldview" and "dogma" and other such buzzwords that religious apologists use as insults when applied to atheists but virtues when applied to theologians, but otherwise, it's a fair cop.

The Dogma of Darwinism is among the first principles of the worldview offered by the New Atheists. Darwin replaces the Bible as the great explainer of the existence of life in all of its forms. The New Atheists are not merely dependent upon science for their worldview; their worldview amounts to scientism — the belief that modern naturalistic science is the great unifying answer to the most basic questions of human life.

As Richard Dawkins has recently argued, they believe that disbelief in evolution should be considered as intellectually disrespectable and reprehensible as denial of the Holocaust. Thus, their strategy is to use the theory of evolution as a central weapon in today's context of intellectual combat.

The New Atheists would have no coherent worldview without the Dogma of Darwinism. With it, they intend to malign belief in God and to marginalize Christians and Christian arguments. Thus, we can draw a straight line from the emergence of evolutionary theory to the resurgence of atheism in our times. Never underestimate the power of a bad idea.

Mohler just lets it lie there — isn't it enough to just point at the Other and shriek, "DARWINIST!"? — but I can see where he's going with it, and it's the same place creationists go. All they have to do to prove atheism wrong and Christianity true, they think, is to prove that evolution is false. I welcome this tactic. I love watching creationists butt heads against the evidence. They're so cute when they're reeling about, blood streaming down their faces, brains getting increasingly addled, as they try to deny reality. I guess it's a kind of historical tradition in Christianity, this business of tying a blindfold on and throwing themselves to the lions. It used to be you needed a legionnaire or two poking them with a spear to get them to enter the arena, but nowadays they just do it voluntarily.

And I guarantee you, we atheists do not underestimate the power of bad ideas. We witness them in action every Sunday, and every time a public official whines that they need to say a magic chant to their sky-fairy before they get to work.

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#1

Posted by: Thaddeus G. Blanchette Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 9:22 AM

The only thing I'd disagree with there in Mohler's analysis, essentially, is that Darwinism is a dogma.

#2

Posted by: christophe-thill.myopenid.com Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 9:25 AM

So he gets this "intellectually fulfilled atheist" thing : good for him. But isn't he presenting it as if it was his own discovery ?

#3

Posted by: kieran Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 9:33 AM

Why when trying to disprove evolution they never do it right? If your plan is to falsify parts of evolution do experiments, publish the results and bit by bit disprove the entire theory false through rigorous scientific inquiry…… Oh sorry it’s creationists, let’s just plagiarise real research and say it agrees with what they believe.

#4

Posted by: Iris Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 9:34 AM

Mohler:

Darwin replaces the Bible as the great explainer of the existence of life in all of its forms.

He says that like it's a bad thing, but doesn't explain why.

#5

Posted by: Dave Gilbert Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 9:40 AM

Darwin replaces the Bible as the great explainer of the existence of life in all of its forms.

Well, you got that bit right dude.

#6

Posted by: Phodopus Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 9:40 AM

The section posted above kind of reads like reverse psychology to me...

"Do not try to lead an intellectually fulfilled life by becoming an atheist, under no circumstance fall for their completely coherent world view which is experiencing a great resurgence founded on scientific principles, which some even claim provides a great unifying answer to the most basic questions of human life."

#7

Posted by: BicycleRepairMan Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 9:41 AM

I thought the Copernican Dogma was the center of our worldview, have I needlessly been obsessively repeating Heliocentric chants to myself every Sunday for the past years?

#8

Posted by: Forbidden Snowflake Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 9:42 AM

Cristophe: no, he isn't.

But then came Darwin. In a single sentence, Dawkins gets to the heart of the matter: “Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.”

He gets his attributions right, AFAICT.

#9

Posted by: carovee Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 9:43 AM

Here's the thing that bugs me. Darwin based his ideas on a) existing theories, and b) his own careful observations. If he hadn't come up with the theory of evolution, someone else eventually would have figured it out. The theory is based on actual evidence found in the actual world not handed down from on high so its not some super secret idea that no one else could have ever accessed. Once again we see a religious person so steeped in theological methods he can't wrap his head around how science works.

#10

Posted by: moochava Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 9:45 AM

"scientism — the belief that modern naturalistic science is the great unifying answer to the most basic questions of human life."

Weirdly, this is actually a more generous definition of "scientism" than I've encountered elsewhere. When I've seen it used elsewhere on Pharyngula, it's been a purely emotional word intended to conjure images of artless Stalinist oppression or unemotional sci-fi from the 60s.

Of course, Mohler has this huge glaring problem running through his whole screed: the more honest and forthright he is--and he seems more honest and forthright than most creationists--the more plainly ridiculous his position is. No wonder most creationists gussy things up with lunatic appeals to authority and emotion: without them, they're stuck appending "And this is bad and wrong!" to statements of fact.

#11

Posted by: Ing: PhD Trollologist Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 9:47 AM

“Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.”

I always hated this quote. The fact that science continues and we continue seeking the answers post Darwin (and that Genetics revised Darwinian evolution into Neo-Darwinian evolution for starters) shows that it's blatently false.

It's impossible to be intellectually fulfilled as an atheist because there are no answers just more questions to seek out. That's why we do science and that's why it's awesome. The problem with religion is that it lets people feel intellectually fulfilled and blinds them to the big questions out there.

#12

Posted by: QuestionAuthority Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 9:50 AM

Remember, he's primarily aiming his screed at the faithful, not us. He doesn't need much (if any) proof of his assertions. After all, the Babble doesn't have much evidence in its favor, either.

All in all, it strikes me as a rehash of old ideas, newly spewed.

#13

Posted by: TomZ, a Miasma of Incandescent Plasma Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 9:53 AM

...modern naturalistic science is the great unifying answer to the most basic questions of human life.

So... Natural sciences answer stuff about nature!! But most of the stoopids don't know the basics of it to really appreciate the beauty of its answers. Instead we get "Nuh uh... Look at tides. Look at the sun rising and setting, proof of god. Check. Mate."

#14

Posted by: Phodopus Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 9:58 AM

@carovee

If he hadn't come up with the theory of evolution, someone else eventually would have figured it out

Google Alfred Russel Wallace as the obvious thing you are missing here.

#15

Posted by: Ing: PhD Trollologist Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 10:01 AM

@moochava

I note that that definition doesn't explain why such a belief is WRONG.

I heard scientism described in philosophy class as "The misapplication of objectivity or insistence on objectivity to subjects that are inherently subjective". Ie Demanding objective proof that your like of Blue Oyster Cult is scientifically and rationally justifiable.

#16

Posted by: serinxooiid Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 10:09 AM

Yet another creationist shoots himself in the foot, only to call it a 'fashion statement'.

In all honesty, I ould honestly like to see a new argument come out of the creationist camp, if only for the entertainment of watching it get torn apart for it's lack of basis in reality. I'm getting tired of slapping 'PRATT' stickers on the old models they keep spewing out at us, and really tired of people falling for it time and time again.

#17

Posted by: Legion Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 10:17 AM

Mohler:

Thus, we can draw a straight line from the emergence of evolutionary theory to the resurgence of atheism in our times.

Wrong. This "resurgence" in atheism has less to do with evolution and far more to do with the Internet.

Evolutionary theory and atheism were around when I was kid, but in those days, the social price for coming out as an atheist was worse than confessing that you were a murderer, because at least a murderer could be forgiven.

The Internet has, for the first time in history, enabled doubters and disbelievers to rally and organize in a relatively safe way, without fear of the jackboot and billy club of religious dictatorships.

#18

Posted by: Sajanas Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 10:21 AM

Its kind of sad really, that the creationists focus so much on evolution when they are still unable to answer the question of evil posed by Epicurious 2,500 years ago to my satisfaction. All the religions lack a sensible moral foundation for modern living since they were invented way back, and I think maybe they might want to get a consistent world view before they criticize things that were never intended to be a world view.

#19

Posted by: raven Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 10:21 AM

Mohler's Southern Baptists are slowly declining.

Southern Baptists cut Mission Board staff by a third – The ...A third of the Southern Baptist Convention's North American Mission Board staff will be gone before the calendar turns the page to 2011. Layoffs and ...

blogs.orlandosentinel.com/.../southern-baptists-cut-mission-board-staff-by-a-third/ - Cached

They've been losing members for a few years now. No one knows because they are notorious for cooking their numbers to start with.

Now staff layoffs are occuring throughout the organization.
Retention rates of young people run about 30%.

Their own projections have them being cut in half in a few decades. See, sometimes good things happen to bad people.

Creationism is ultimately as much a religion killer as the Flat Earth or Geocentrism, scientific ideas from the same source and just as correct.

#20

Posted by: Sastra Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 10:26 AM

Ing, Wielder of Snark Torpedoes #15 wrote:

I heard scientism described in philosophy class as "The misapplication of objectivity or insistence on objectivity to subjects that are inherently subjective".

I think that's a good definition, and it helps to point out exactly what religion is trying to do. It wants people to consider religious assertions like "God exists" and "Jesus rose from the dead" as being similar to statements like "Blue Oyster Cult plays great music" or "it is better to live with love, than live in its absence." They're deliberately conflating fact claims with tastes, preferences, values, and guiding principles. In the resulting confusion, they're not only trying to protect religion from criticism by outsiders, they're trying to bring people into the fold by a sort of bait-and-switch tactic.

God is love. Religion is category error made into an art form.

I think it's funny when the accomodationists point to Christians like Mohler and scream "See what you're doing? You're walking right into their trap! They're going to try to eliminate evolution from the science curriculum!"

But it's not their trap if the atheists are correct, and evolution actually happened. It's our trap. Truth wins out in the long run, because you can't stop people -- even people within a religion -- from being first curious, and then honest -- especially since the theists sell those virtues as derived from religion. The morons are setting out on a suicide mission. Heheheh.

#21

Posted by: R. Schauer Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 10:27 AM

Typical apologist, raging on evolution and Darwin while ignoring other evidence from academic disciplines outside of biology supporting evolution such as geologic fossils records and core samples. Faith and wishful thinking have made Al as blind as Stevie Wonder...and it is apparent, as we know, one shan't see the light, when one is blinded by faith. Fiat lux!

#22

Posted by: richard.mcateer Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 10:31 AM

I think Mohler is confusing correlation with causality. While the majority of "gnu athesist" may believe that evolution is true and that the Bible isn't, one doesn't necessarily cause the other - both are attributed to a third factor, critical thinking. Evolution provides an explanation for the diversity of life, but that isn't necessary to reject religion.

#23

Posted by: raven Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 10:32 AM

Darwin replaces the Bible as the great explainer of the existence of life in all of its forms.

Well sure. Sometimes the bible is wildly wrong about things. What would you expect from Iron age sheep herders writing down bronze age myths?

Pretending old mythology is real and making it a litmus test of a religion is silly and self defeating. Litmus tests work both ways.

#24

Posted by: lordshipmayhem Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 10:34 AM

deluded Baptist zealot
Is there any other kind of Baptist zealot?

For that matter, is there any other kind of zealot for any other religion?

#25

Posted by: Ing: PhD Trollologist Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 10:34 AM

@Sastra

We should coin a term "Bullshitism"

Bullshitism: the mutual treatment of facts as opinions and opinions as facts.

#26

Posted by: Moogle Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 10:43 AM

The New Atheists would have no coherent worldview without the Dogma of Darwinism.
He's got his cart before his horse here. Scientists come up with explanations because the previous worldview was incoherent.
#27

Posted by: raven Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 10:44 AM

I'll add here, that Mohler and his gang are right wing extremists and christofascist thugs. He isn't a nice guy.

A few decades ago they took over the SBC and seem more interested in promoting right wing politics than the cult. They also trash canned the old Baptists principles of the priesthood of all believers and the right of members to interpret the bible their own way.

One of the first thing they did was purge the seminaries of anyone who looked even remotely liberal. This continues today where they occasionally find a heretic and persecute them.

It's all exactly like the Soviet Union in the time of Stalin.

#28

Posted by: Sastra Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 10:44 AM

R. Schauer #21 wrote:

Typical apologist, raging on evolution and Darwin while ignoring other evidence from academic disciplines outside of biology supporting evolution such as geologic fossils records and core samples.

He's also ignoring the import of scientific discoveries other than evolution. I think neurology and what we've learned about how and why the brain works is just as dangerous to religion. Evolution shows that God has nothing to explain, but neurology shows that God needs to be explained itself: it's inconsistent with what we found out about what mind is. It undermines the existence of God at the core.

Some of the supposedly "sophisticated" theologians are trying to work up apologetics against this danger, but it still hasn't really been noticed in the churches. Maybe because neurobiology is not taught to the kiddies.

#29

Posted by: Silent Service Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 10:45 AM

Why does this feel like a battle for hearts and mindlessness?

#30

Posted by: Harry Tuttle Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 10:48 AM

It used to be you needed a legionnaire or two poking them with a spear to get them to enter the arena, but nowadays they just do it voluntarily.

Who knew the French did that?

Legionary. Roman soldiers were legionaries. Legionnaires are members of the Légion étrangère (Foreign Legion).

Anyways, I always thought the centuries of philosophical evolution towards modernism provided plenty of coherent world-views.

#31

Posted by: oihorse Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 10:49 AM

intellectual combat

Oh my, that made me guffaw! As if there is an argument on the religious side that is actually intellectual.

#32

Posted by: Sastra Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 10:52 AM

Ing, Wielder of Snark Torpedoes #25 wrote:

We should coin a term "Bullshitism"
Bullshitism: the mutual treatment of facts as opinions and opinions as facts.

Nice, but I think the term is better used by a different unpleasant aspect of religion:

Religious Bullshitism: Being unconcerned with whether or not religion is true, but selling it as true anyway because it's so "useful" in other ways and that's a kind of truth, too.

Hm. Thinking about it, maybe there's a lot of overlap.

#33

Posted by: Gus Snarp Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 10:56 AM

... modern naturalistic science is the great unifying answer to the most basic questions of human life.

Close, but not quite. Once again they miss a subtle, but important, nuance. Modern naturalistic science is not the great unifying answer, it's simply the best method for finding out the answers.
#34

Posted by: Ing: PhD Trollologist Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 10:58 AM

@Sastra

one is clearly a subset of the other

Bullshitism with Religious Bullshitism aka Faithishtiism as a specific type of it.

#35

Posted by: Sam C Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 11:06 AM

Sounds a fair summary to me, and in a good way.

Simple atheist, small "a", doesn't believe in god(s). Why? Not relevant, unless the individual atheist wants it to be relevant.

New Atheists - yes, the key characteristics seem to be (a) an insistence on the primacy of scientific explanations over non-material fabulations, especially evolution by natural selection as an explanation of the diversity of life on this planet, and (b) a robust and unsympathetic approach to any religious folk whining for fair/equal/privileged treatment. Nothing wrong with that, however much (or especially because) some Christians or other religious folk don't like it.

Gnu Atheists - sheep-like worshippers of prominent New Atheists who think that it's a clever name and don't realise how pathetically unimaginative that makes them!

#36

Posted by: https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawl2nph2-KLY_kx98dVNZZYewvYv-tCZdVE Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 11:11 AM

I wouldn't even agree with this statement:

Darwin replaces the Bible as the great explainer of the existence of life in all of its forms.

Darwin may have provided an explanation of the existence of life in all of its forms, but to replace the Bible, the Bible would have had to provide one in the first place. The vast majority of the Bible has nothing to do with explaining life. It's very human centered. Worse, actually: tribe centered.

The closest it comes to explaining life is essentially, "God willed it into being and thought it was good." Of course, he later realized he did a pretty crappy job.

#37

Posted by: Becca the Over Socialized Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 11:12 AM

The New Atheists would have no coherent worldview without the Dogma of Darwinism

yeah, and without the Dogma of the Bible, Christianists would have no worldview - what's their point?

note I left out "coherent" in the previous paragraph. I don't think the Christianist worldview is coherent.

#38

Posted by: Forbidden Snowflake Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 11:13 AM

Oh look, it's the "Dawkins is the atheist Pope" gambit! How quaint.

#39

Posted by: Forbidden Snowflake Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 11:14 AM

Of course, I was referring to #35.

#40

Posted by: Robert Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 11:15 AM

"All they have to do to prove atheism wrong and Christianity true, they think, is to prove that evolution is false."

If evolution were to be proven false (unlikely as it seems) wouldn't that be, a la Popper, a triumph for science? And since he claims that atheism is based on science, a triumph for atheism as well!

#41

Posted by: omnipasje Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 11:16 AM

I was an atheist long before i even heard of the theory of evolution or Darwin.

I wasn't baptised as my parents were of the opinion that when i understood more about religions i should be free to believe what i wanted.

at about 16-ish i read quite a bit about different religion in order to make my choice but i was quite bothered by the fact that they all see their own religion as best and all the others are wrong.

This just didn't make sense, how could i pick one?

So i decided it was all bullshit as no one religion could be right on everything.

I only started to read about Darwin and evolution when i was about 34 :)

#42

Posted by: Brownian, Most Vicious & Petty of Pharyngulites Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 11:17 AM

Mohler lards his summary with gloppy accusations of "worldview" and "dogma" and other such buzzwords that religious apologists use as insults when applied to atheists but virtues when applied to theologians, but otherwise, it's a fair cop.

Don't forget that faitheism also states that only religion and not science can answer the Big Questions™ while at the same time stipulating that science is just another religion.

I'm starting to suspect that this much touted 'Special Pleading' is simply Thousand Island dressing.

#43

Posted by: Aquaria Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 11:25 AM

Gnu Atheists - sheep-like worshippers of prominent New Atheists who think that it's a clever name and don't realise how pathetically unimaginative that makes them!

Says the person who parrots all the other accommodationist sniveling that we've seen a million times before.

Do try to come up with something unique.

And I don't follow anyone. Speak for yourself, sheepfucker.

#44

Posted by: Rikitiki Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 11:28 AM


This: "Thus, their strategy is to use the theory of evolution as a central weapon in today's context of intellectual combat."

Well, DUH! Of course if we're going into intellectual combat, we'll want to actually have real bullets (facts & evidence) .vs magic and fantasy. What a doofus.

#45

Posted by: coughlanbrianm Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 11:33 AM

@legion

The Internet has, for the first time in history, enabled doubters and disbelievers to rally and organize in a relatively safe way, without fear of the jackboot and billy club of religious dictatorships.

To this I'd add Iraq War II. For me at least it was pivotal; the religious rethoric surrounding a "born again" president leading a "crusade" against the fundamentalist muslims of the taliban - even claiming that God was "guiding" his decisions - all of that proved too much for me.

Then the grinding islamic sectarian violence after the end of the war. It all served to highlight how dangerous religion can be; it focused my attention squarely on the glaring flaws in religion that religious people work so hard to ignore.

I see the phase we are in as analogous to the 30 years war in Europe. That era ushered serious debate about religious tolerance, freedom of religion and eventually resulted in most of the rough edges being rubbed of christianity. I think we are seeing the same thing now on a global scale and encompassing all the main religions; at the end of this process religions will, of necessity, be gutted of controversial content and subsequently lose their appeal.

I certainly hope so.

#46

Posted by: Molly, NYC Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 11:38 AM

The Dogma of Darwinism . . .

The way these guys assume we think is a big clue to the way they think.

They think evolution is a dogma, because that's how their concepts are intellectually packaged.

They think people they disagree with get their views pre-made from some authority figure, or by consensus, because that's how they get their views.

They think all disagreeable evidence presented to them is an "opinion" because their own beliefs require that the line between fact and opinion be blurred.

They think when we disagree with them, it's simply to be contrary, because that's something they do.

#47

Posted by: Kevin Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 11:42 AM

Dear Dr. Mohler:

I was an atheist long before I even heard of Charles Darwin or the biological theory of evolution.

If you think that my atheism depends on the ToE, you're as wrong as wrong can be.

That being said, however, I wonder if you have the same feelings of disrespect for other scientific findings that contradict the Bible. Including but not limited to:

1. Heliocentrism. As you know, the Bible clearly says the sun and all of the heavens revolve around the Earth. Why would the Bible get this wrong if the all-powerful, all-knowing creator of the universe had been guiding the pen?
2. The number of limbs an insect has. The Bible clearly says they have four. "Scientists" have actually counted them, and find there are universally six. Care to comment?
3. The status of bats as mammals. The Bible clearly includes it in a list of birds. Yes, it's certainly a unique mammal. But one would assume that the all-knowing-one wouldn't have allowed his scribes to make such a silly mistake.

Not to mention such issues as the impossibility of a global flood, the lack of any evidence whatsoever of any sort of "exodus" from Egypt, the lack of evidence of an angel with a flaming sword guarding the Garden of Eden, the lack of evidence for any sort of tower to heaven, and on and on.

If you would please address these issues as well in your assertion of biblical inerrancy, it would be much appreciated.

Kindest regards.

#48

Posted by: Dhorvath, OM Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 11:49 AM

The New Atheists would have no coherent worldview without the Dogma of Darwinism.
Nonsense. Evolution is not even part of our 'worldview' it is a consequence of it. Once again we see the religious mistaking a conclusion for a premise. Evolution is a useful explanation, but it's not a starting point, it's a result. What matters to me, and I think a goodly number of others, is that our ideas follow from reality; evidence then theory.
#49

Posted by: Glen Davidson Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 11:52 AM

The New Atheists would have no coherent worldview without the Dogma of Darwinism.

Lackwit, it's as much "dogma" as E = mc2.

More importantly, no one has a coherent worldview without evolution. Life doesn't make sense without it, which is why you babble like such a damn fool about "appearance of age" and other ludicrous nonsense that makes your God out to be stupid and a liar.

Darwin replaces the Bible as the great explainer of the existence of life in all of its forms.

Like Principia replaces Aristotle's physics, and for the same reason--both the Bible and Aristotle's physics are BS.

Glen Davidson

#50

Posted by: https://me.yahoo.com/a/SaqGVG0xvJEQVwURVamS3DTCdvov0BLhXK1jOsYPPJQ-#b4893 Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 11:59 AM

Did we really need to read past "The Dogma of Darwinism"? Honestly, that's when I started smirking... Four words into the diatribe.

I'm not exaggerating.

MikeM

#51

Posted by: Kevin Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 12:07 PM

Dear Dr. Mohler:

Sorry for the second post, but there are two other scientific phenomena I would like your input on.

1. Earth movement -- The Bible clearly and emphatically states that the Earth is fixed and immovable. How do you reconcile this with the scientific facts that include a rotational speed of about 1,000 miles an hour and an orbital speed of about 67,000 miles an hour? How is it, for example, that Joshua got the sun to "stand still" and no one noticed that everything not fixed firmly to the ground went flying off at 1,000 miles an hour?
2. Giant fish digestion -- The Bible tells a story of a man who lived three days inside the belly of a fish. Now, I don't know of any scientist who has tried to replicate this experiment, but does one really need to sit in a vat of acid in an anoxic (without oxygen) environment to know this is a bad idea?

Your kind attention to these anomalies would again be much appreciated.

#52

Posted by: Les Lane Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 12:09 PM

What Mohler doesn't understand is that evolution is not accepted science because it satisfies atheists, but rather that it continues to make useful predictions.

Science Citation Index shows that "evolution" continues to be a prominent keyword in scientific literature. Replacing the theory of evolution will require another theory which is more productive than evolution. There is presently no sign of a theory with the potential to replace evolution.

#53

Posted by: a_ray_in_dilbert_space, OM, A little FUCKING ray of sunshine Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 12:15 PM

What sort of "intellect" does it take to take what is arguably one of the most profound achievements of the human intellect (Evolution) and try to turn the name of its discoverer into an epithet?

#54

Posted by: Laurent Weppe Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 12:16 PM

As Richard Dawkins has recently argued, they believe that disbelief in evolution should be considered as intellectually disrespectable and reprehensible as denial of the Holocaust

This guy is (involontary) on to something: we're talking about holocaust denial and not about holocaust disbelief because there are so many evidences of the holocaust that any one one with half of a third of a working brain cannot "disbelieve" in the existence of the Holocaust: everyone know that it happened, including the antisemites who fake disbelief in it.

The same thing should go for Evolution: there are so many evidences of evolution that any one one with half of a third of a working brain cannot "disbelieve" in its existence: everyone know that it happened, including the creationists who fake disbelief in it, hence they deserve to be put on the same level of contempt than the holocaust deniers.

In fact, "evolution deniers" would be a much more accurate way to describe them than "creationists".

#55

Posted by: frisbeetarian Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 12:18 PM

I don't think they are going to try to disprove evolution. They use the word 'Darwinism' because they want to try to disprove Darwin. We of course know so much more and have so much more proof than Darwin did. Creationists don't seem to realize that things change, we gain knowledge. To them, it seems, everything stops when someone writes it down.
I think every time a creationist uses the word,'Darwinism', they should be asked for a definition so anyone listening will realize that we don't depend on Darwin for proof of evolution.

#56

Posted by: raven Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 12:37 PM

As Richard Dawkins has recently argued, they believe that disbelief in evolution should be considered as intellectually disrespectable and reprehensible as denial of the Holocaust

Why is this a problem?

There are similarities here. The Holocaust happened and so does evolution.

Creationism belongs with the Flat Earth, Geocentrism, HIV denialism, Holocaust denialism, anti-vaccers, and a thousand other ideas and theories. Sometimes they are just flat out, completely wrong.

#57

Posted by: Robert H Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 12:42 PM

Ing @25

Making it admittedly more tautological (but that's what they're all about anyway...)

Bullshitism: the mutual treatment of facts as bullshit and bullshit as facts.

#58

Posted by: Matt "Nora" Penfold Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 12:47 PM

Why is this a problem?

There are similarities here. The Holocaust happened and so does evolution.

Creationism belongs with the Flat Earth, Geocentrism, HIV denialism, Holocaust denialism, anti-vaccers, and a thousand other ideas and theories. Sometimes they are just flat out, completely wrong.

I think the only difference is that holocaust denial causes real suffering for those who survived the death camps, and their families. However from an intellectual perspective I see no difference.

#59

Posted by: SallyStrange, Spawn of Cthulhu Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 12:53 PM

Of course, were evolution to be disproved, it would not be in favor of "Goddidit" or "The Bible is True".

#60

Posted by: Rokkaku Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 1:18 PM

PZ, it is with a heavy heart that I must ostentatiously and publicly deplore your glorification of anti-theistic violence on your blog. The vision of poor, taxpaying believers stumbling around with bloody faces is not becoming of an intelligent professor and does your argument no favours whatsoever. Would that we could adopt a conciliatory approach in which laugher is exchanged for bandages, but sadly as long as polemic atheists are around all theists must instead wear helmets to avoid the fate you apparently wish upon them.

Yours in concern,

A. Commodationist

#61

Posted by: BlueIndependent Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 1:22 PM

Well, he is right that atheists seek to marginalize Christian - or much more correctly, theist - arguments. They are all uniformly arguments, lacking in evidence as they are. But I would correct him to say that evolution isn't the only evidence we use against religion; we use all of science. Evolution is merely one part of it.

And if he thinks Darwin's thoughts amount to dogma, then he knows not what dogma is. I won't entertain that insufferable canard any further.

#62

Posted by: StarScream Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 1:23 PM

I used to think that Mohler was somewhat intellectually respectable (at least relatively speaking compared to the likes of Comfort and Ham) but then I read this blog post of his last year:

http://www.albertmohler.com/2010/11/15/on-exorcism-and-exorcists-an-evangelical-view/

Mohler believes in demons. Literally. And that only Protestant magic words can cast them out.

Need we say more?

#63

Posted by: Janine, The Little Top Of Venom, OM Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 1:29 PM

Alfred Mohler is ignoring people like me. I did not become an atheist because of the theory of evolution. I had the privilege of having many generations of secularists, free thinkers and other come along before me and create the freedom I had to examine the christian beliefs I had, found unethical and be able to declare my atheism and live according to my ethics. This is so much more then many people now have.

If anything, becoming an atheist made it so much easier to accept the fact of evolution. I was able to leave behind the doubts that made me question demonstrable facts. I no more base my life on evolution than I do gravitational pull, chemical reactions and volcanism.

#64

Posted by: heddle Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 1:54 PM

Kevin #51

The Bible clearly and emphatically states that the Earth is fixed and immovable. How do you reconcile this with the scientific facts that include a rotational speed of about 1,000 miles an hour

No, it does not. Those references are not intended as scientific statements but as figures of speech describing, metaphorically, god’s permanence and immutability.

Don’t bother replying—I’ll do it for you:

1. The nerve! Don’t you know you are not allowed to read biblical text as figures of speech! The text must be taken literally, and as an attempt to state scientific fact! (At least when it is to our advantage that it be read literally.)

2. Who died and made you the interpreter of the babble?

Btw, as it stands your statement “scientific facts that include a rotational speed of about 1,000 miles an hour” is not correct. You should correct it to read either: a rotational speed of 2π radians per day” or “an equatorial rotational speed of approximately 1,000 mi/hr.”

I bet even Al Mohler knows that the north pole is not rotating at 1,000 mi/hr.

#65

Posted by: Rokkaku Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 1:57 PM

Well, heddle, those are two good questions you raise. How do we decide which part of a revealed text to read literally, if not based on expedience; and whose expedience is the ultimate guide?

I'm going to guess answers based on "my pastor tells us" and "me", respectively, will loom large. Neither really addresses the substance of the question.

#66

Posted by: Rokkaku Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 1:59 PM

Also, the statement he gives *is* correct, thanks to the word "include." Had he said "comprises", that would render your complaint anything other than the smirking deflection that it is.

#67

Posted by: Kevin Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 1:59 PM

@63...you know, I really wonder if ANYONE actually became an atheist as a result of studying the biological theory of evolution...you didn't, I didn't, PZ didn't (AFAIR), and on and on.

I know a lot of atheists, including some scientist-atheists, and I cannot recall a single one of them telling their deconversion story with a mention of Darwin or the ToE.

Francis Collins seems to tell a story in the opposite direction. No belief, a deep grounding in the scientific theory, and then belief.

Seems to me this is the Platonic Ideal of a strawman.

#68

Posted by: raven Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 2:01 PM

Mohler believes in demons. Literally. And that only Protestant magic words can cast them out.

Sure. He has to. Jesus spent much of his time casting out demons which were known to cause illnesses.

If it is good enough for a fictional character in the magic book, it is good enough for fundie xians.

Roughly half of the US population claims to believe in demons and probably most of the fundies. One of their common beliefs is that flying saucers exist and are piloted by demons from hell.

The candle flame gutters. Its little pool of light trembles. Darkness gathers. The demons begin to stir. Carl Sagan,

Mohler is a superstitious moron living in demon haunted darkness and cursing anyone who turns on a light.

#69

Posted by: https://me.yahoo.com/a/CGeeeKsns5JXAVU2g0DmGElhnz5LtziNqnuE#0dd4f Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 2:07 PM

Religion is an Encyclopedia of logical fallacies. "We don't like atheism, and evolution has given rise to atheism, therefore evolution is wrong." Appeal to consequences? They discredit themselves so much more effectively than our arguments ever could. If you say that the underpinnings of your religion depend on denying proven truths and evidence-based reality, like evolutionary biology, then you have admitted the falsity your own belief system. Thanks!

The wise thing to do would be to say that God causes evolution. Catholicism allows for this, even if it does not endorse it. I assume more liberal-minded Protestants also hold this view. Granted, this God of evolution is a superfluous God, and they would prefer a God of the gaps, which requires crippling science and education to prevent real explanations from replacing fictive divine explanations. but at least a pro-Darwin god is more respectable than this cult-like denial of basic science and reality.

But this is nothing new in religion. I recall reading in a biography of Benjamin Franklin that before his experiments people-not ancient Greeks, 18th century Americans- were still claiming that lightning was actually caused by God. His lightning rod was derided as an insult to God and Heaven. I personally did not realize that Zeus was the Christian god, but apparently the Christian god is many things. In our era he is the Lord of people who did not pay attention in biology class.

#70

Posted by: CJO Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 2:27 PM

heddle:
No, it does not. Those references are not intended as scientific statements but as figures of speech describing, metaphorically, god’s permanence and immutability.

As regards your "words in my mouth" objection 1., I have no problem with the fairly obvious fact that the Biblical texts contain many parables and metaphors and other figures of speech and that the original audiences didn't take all of it literally. However, is it really your belief that the ancient Israelites didn't think that the Earth was fixed and immovable?

In other words, I can see that this immobility could in turn be perceived as an illusion for "god’s permanence and immutability" but in the sense that it was a matter of fact that explained something about god, not that they knew the earth moved and only talked about its perceived (but false) immobility as pure metaphor. Agreed that it's not a "scientific statement" because there was no such thing. People in ancient societies had no conception of taking an empirical, rationalist stance in regard to cosmic matters.

#71

Posted by: Aratina Cage Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 2:29 PM

@heddle

The Bible clearly and emphatically states that the Earth is fixed and immovable.
No, it does not.

Denial, here is looking at you. Surely you don't need one of us to list the exact places in the Bible where it says just that?

So, would you care to take that back, heddle?

#72

Posted by: CJO Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 2:31 PM

Re: my #70

could in turn be perceived as an illusion for

that should be "allusion to"

#73

Posted by: heddle Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 2:33 PM

Rokkaku, #65

How do we decide which part of a revealed text to read literally

It is not necessary to decide. You only have to read and ask: does that sound like the writer is making a cold-hard scientific claim? Or is it at least plausible that it is a figure of speech?

If it is at least plausible, then an intelligent critic will write something like

It can be argued that the bible teaches that the earth is literally fixed.


while an unintelligent critic will ignore the possibility and write:

The Bible clearly and emphatically states that the Earth is fixed and immovable

Rokkaku, #65

Also the statement he gives *is* correct thanks to the word "include".

No it is not correct. The "include" was meant to include two separate facts as examples: a rotational speed of 1000 mi/hr and an orbital speed. But if you want to bend over backwards and argue that the include meant that the rotational speed varies with latitude continuously from zero to 1000 mi/hr, feel free.

#74

Posted by: Phodopus Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 2:35 PM

@Kevin,

@63...you know, I really wonder if ANYONE actually became an atheist as a result of studying the biological theory of evolution...you didn't, I didn't, PZ didn't (AFAIR), and on and on.

I haven't read a detailed biography yet, but Darwin himself might be a candidate for whom it at least played a role?

#75

Posted by: SallyStrange, Spawn of Cthulhu Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 2:36 PM

does that sound like the writer is making a cold-hard scientific claim?

Nothing in the Bible sounds like a cold-hard scientific claim. There was no such thing as a cold-hard scientific claim when the Bible was written. Why would anyone want to apply such a standard to the Bible, except out of Science Envy?

What did the writers of the Bible think about the Earth, heddle? Did it move or was it fixed, according to them?

#76

Posted by: Robert H Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 2:41 PM

Heddle, the least you could have done was to answer the questions you preempted from Kevin-seems only sporting, and I must profess curiosity at your reply.

And why assume that Dr. Mohler knows the rotational speed of a sphere at its pole? Many "educated" people don't, in the same way that many people don't know which way they would be facing at the aforementioned pole.

#77

Posted by: heddle Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 2:51 PM

CJO,

However, is it really your belief that the ancient Israelites didn't think that the Earth was fixed and immovable?

That is a very good question. My answer is: it doesn't matter what they believed.

One reason is independent of how one looks at the bible. That is, even if they believed that the earth was fixed, it is arguable that what they wrote was not intended as a scientific statement but, as I indicated, a metaphorical one. In that case, the fact that they also believed it to be true in a scientific sense is irrelevant.

A second reason rests on whether you believe in the inspiration of scripture. Here again they might very well have believed the earth was flat, immovable, and the center of the universe. The only relevant question (from this perspective) is: while writing under inspiration did they pen something that was intended by god to convey a scientific statement? That is, they could have (under inspiration) penned either a) a statement they recognized as metaphorical or b) a statement that they mistakenly did not recognize as metaphorical. But in either case god, as the source of the inspiration, intended it (perhaps) as metaphorical.

Aritina Cage,

Denial, here is looking at you. Surely you don't need one of us to list the exact places in the Bible where it says just that? So, would you care to take that back, heddle?

No, I wouldn't care to take it back.

By the way, you can't possibly have missed that I nowhere denied the passages are present, but rather I denied that they must be interpreted as the writer stating a literal scientific fact? You do grasp that posting the text (of which I am sure I am at least as familiar as you) has no bearing on the argument?

#78

Posted by: SallyStrange, Spawn of Cthulhu Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 2:57 PM

OMG, stop it heddle. You're making me giggle at work. That was just silly. God's mind-readers, eh?

#79

Posted by: Rev. BigDumbChimp Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 2:59 PM

Convenient wiggle room is convenient.

#80

Posted by: coughlanbrianm Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 2:59 PM

@Heddle.

I see what you did there:-) I've done it myself.

However, don't you feel there is a problem with being required to torture the text in this way? Specifically, if the Bible is the bona-fide inspired word of God; His message to man; a communication crucial to our survival; why is it such an incomprehensible hodge podge?

#81

Posted by: cd Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 3:03 PM


Dear Al,

It's okay. We don't care. Your grandkids are belong to us, the sane ones anyway.

#82

Posted by: Brownian, Most Vicious & Petty of Pharyngulites Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 3:05 PM

However, don't you feel there is a problem with being required to torture the text in this way?

Don't bother replying heddle, I'll do it for you:

1) It's not torture.

2) I'm right about 1).

#83

Posted by: Aratina Cage Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 3:14 PM

@heddle

I nowhere denied the passages are present

Compounded denial!

#84

Posted by: CJO Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 3:15 PM

"inspiration of scripture"

In other words, special pleading.

#85

Posted by: cd Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 3:16 PM

Heddle,

I'm willing to take all that as metaphor. The consequence of that hermeneutic is, though, that God also becomes metaphorical or allegorical. Atheists have long thought that God is a wishful or idealized projection of self of the Believer, a symbol or metaphor.

#86

Posted by: heddle Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 3:17 PM

Rev BDC,

Convenient wiggle room is convenient.

Indeed it is. (Btw, thanks for the kind comment on my son's youtube. It resulted in much interesting conversation about how a "bigdumbchimp" was comment about his piano playing.)

coughlanbrianm,

Specifically, if the Bible is the bona-fide inspired word of God; His message to man; a communication crucial to our survival; why is it such an incomprehensible hodge podge?

I don't know how to respond because I don't believe that. Nobody is saved by reading the bible--there is no doctrine of "salvation by reading scripture." It is absolutely not crucial to our survival or our salvation. It is, however, immensely profitable for our growth after we are saved. And I don't (except, I admit, for most of Revelation) find it at all incomprehensible.

#87

Posted by: BlueIndependent Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 3:23 PM

Hey, Heddle is back to play disingenuous dodgeball!

#88

Posted by: steverino63 Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 3:26 PM

Actually, as secularists, old athiests or whatever who actually have made some effort to ground themselves in social sciences and, above all, in philosophy, know, New Atheists DO engage in scientism.

Sam Harris' Immoral Landscape is littered with it. http://socraticgadfly.blogspot.com/2011/02/sam-harris-immoral-landscape.html

If you don't believe me, read Massimo Pigliucci's review. (I'm not sure if Bob Carroll, founder of Skeptic's Dictionary, has one up yet or not.)

So do other New Atheists, like PZ, or Vic Stenger, when they claim to have "disproved God," the logical equivalent of dividing by zero.

#89

Posted by: Kel, The Privileged View From Nowhere Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 3:26 PM

As Richard Dawkins has recently argued, they believe that disbelief in evolution should be considered as intellectually disrespectable and reprehensible as denial of the Holocaust.
Of course, Dawkins was writing a book about the evidence for evolution and talking purely about the science...
#90

Posted by: coughlanbrianm Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 3:31 PM

@Heddle.

And I don't (except, I admit, for most of Revelation) find it at all incomprehensible.

OK, I can give you revelation; deities also have their secrets:-)

But seriously, the rest of it?

Think of the old testament. Animal sacrifice, human sacrifice, injunctions to genocide, wierd dietary stuff, clothing prohibitions, punishment rarely fitting the crime, womens rights (or lack thereof), kill teh Gay, etc. The list of incomprehensible stuff - for most readers - is very long indeed.

Finally, there are 38,000 christian denominations many of them mutually exclusive. In the light of that bit of info alone, isn't it at least a little fatuous to claim that the bible is a clear communication?

#91

Posted by: Erulóra (formerly KOPD) Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 3:34 PM

You only have to read and ask: does that sound like the writer is making a cold-hard scientific claim? Or is it at least plausible that it is a figure of speech?
You forgot: Or is it plausible that the writer was wrong, or making stuff up, or quoting people who made stuff up?
#92

Posted by: Brother Yam Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 3:34 PM

@Kevin

Re: 1. Heliocentrism

Sam Brownback's supporter's blog

#93

Posted by: Phodopus Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 3:40 PM

@steverino63

Actually, as secularists, old athiests or whatever who actually have made some effort to ground themselves in social sciences and, above all, in philosophy, know, New Atheists DO engage in scientism.

Can you clarify what you mean by "scientism" here?
The definition in the OP? It's rather vague and does not make it sound all that objectionable.

So do other New Atheists, like PZ, or Vic Stenger, when they claim to have "disproved God,"

Yawn. That straw man is too tired to waste time refuting it. again.

#94

Posted by: Kevin Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 3:49 PM

Heddle:

It's not ME who is interpreting the bible literally for Dr. Mohler. It's HIM.

Sorry, but you do NOT get to speak for him.

HE declares the bible to be inerrant. HE declares the myths told in Genesis through Revelation to be literally true.

HE believes in a 6000-year-old universe, poofed into existence whole in 6 literal days.

HE believes man was made whole intact and adult from mud and an adult woman from a man's rib.

HE believes that a talking snake convinced that woman to eat IQ-raising sin-fruit.

HE believes the sun literally stood still, that a global flood literally happened, that if the Bible says a bat is a bird, then it darn well IS a bird. And that if the Bible says Jonah spent 3 days in the belly of a fish, then that's what happened.

It's not ME you need to be arguing with. It's Mohler.

Until you convince HIM those things are metaphorical, you have absolutely no standing in this discussion.

In other words, and with as much respect as I think you're due, fuck off.

#95

Posted by: heddle Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 3:49 PM

coughlanbrianm

Well, there really are not 38,000 denominations. That oft-quoted number includes, for example, many large independent Baptist congregations--even though they are doctrinally interchangeable. In addition, many congregations differ over worship style, church governance and polity--not so much over doctrine.

But no matter, even if it is 38K.

I can walk into a Congregationalist, Presbyterian, or Baptist church (just to name three) and, apart from the question of baptism, not see a whole lot of doctrinal difference.

Finally the doctrinal differences are mainly in areas that most Christians (not all but most) do not view as cardinal. For example, people have strong views on eschatology--but the majority of Christians do not believe that your salvation depends on your end-times view.

In what sense do you think that list you provided from the OT is incomprehensible? I don't think it is in terms of the text. In terms of why?--well then in many cases I'd agree. But I don't think the text cannot be understood.

I have to teach a physics class in two hours--have to sign off and get ready.

BlueIndependent,

Hey, Heddle is back to play disingenuous dodgeball!

Yes, but only with worthy opponents.

#96

Posted by: Kel, The Privileged View From Nowhere Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 3:52 PM

When it comes to matters empirical, why wouldn't someone want to use science as a grounding for what they believe? The scientific method works - evidenced by the fact that you're in front of a computer and on the internet. It would be silly not to use science, given how successful the discipline has been.

As for all truths being scientific: 2+2=4 is true but not scientifically true. It's a mathematical truth. Julius Caesar was emperor of Rome is true but not scientifically true. It's a historical truth. All bachelors are unmarried is true, but it's not a scientific truth. etc.

#97

Posted by: SallyStrange, Spawn of Cthulhu Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 3:55 PM

I love how the most ignorant posters around here are the ones most likely to make public categorizations of other posters as "worthy" or "unworthy." Whereas those who are truly intelligent universally refrain from designating this or that person as "worthy" or not, they just address the substance of whatever it is that sparks their interest. It makes me laugh every time.

#98

Posted by: Robert H Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 3:55 PM

Hey, Heddle is back to play disingenuous dodgeball!

Yes, but only with worthy opponents.

So, with the worthy ones he's only disingenuous...

#99

Posted by: Janine, The Little Top Of Venom, OM Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 4:07 PM

What is the point of arguing with a predeterminist?

So do other New Atheists, like PZ, or Vic Stenger, when they claim to have "disproved God," the logical equivalent of dividing by zero.

Not disproved. More like god is not needed to explain anything. See Russell's Teapot.

#100

Posted by: Ing: PhD Trollologist Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 4:15 PM

Heddle Beetle is a spineless genocidal little hateful spittoon who doesn't even deserve the scorn we throw at trolls

#101

Posted by: coughlanbrianm Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 4:19 PM

@Heddle.

Your casual dismissal of the 38K denominations would probably get you thrown out of quite a few of those congregations:-) Nonetheless I take your point, more than that, I'm happy to leave the specific number aside for the moment and work with the principle.

Even if there were only say, ten major denominations, surely this is still a problem? They all draw on the bible for doctrine and yet come to very different dealbreaker conclusions. How is this possible if the Bible is a clear, divine, communication?

The Christian church has had 20 centuries to get it's story straight but instead of a grand unifying field theory of religion emerging, we see the polar opposite, an endless stream of schisms. The Anglicans and Catholics for goodness sake, split on the whim of a randy monarch a mere few hundred years ago, just cannot get themselves realigned despite decades of effort. If these guys can't hook up, what possible chance do the Mormons and Baptists have?

Take any other human endeavour; biology, physics, economics, film making, even political institutions and systems; all seem to be on a unifying trajectory, almost everything except the one area you you think we've been supplied an especially useful guidebook: Religion. This doesn't give you pause for thought?

Christians never tire of talking about the wondrous laws that God has given us to ensure we live a fulfilled life; unfortunately, there's this tiny snag, no one can agree what the laws are; they can't even agree on how to apply something as apparently obvious as the ten commandments!!

None of this seems wierd to you? C'mon!?

#102

Posted by: machintelligence Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 4:34 PM

@69
Bellringer for a cathedral used to be a hazardous profession. Because they were the tallest thing around, churches were frequently struck by lightning. (this can do significant damage to even stone structures as the water in the damp stone vaporizes and causes it to explode.) Special "lightning bells" were cast and consecrated to be rung to (apparently) draw Gods attention to the fact that there was a church there. They were notable for their lack of effectiveness and lightning caused the deaths of many bellringers. Benjamin Franklin's lightning rods were considered an unholy secular solution, but in a few decades all churches had them, because they worked so well.

#103

Posted by: Ing: PhD Trollologist Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 4:40 PM

Divisions of Christianity are nto over 'little things' they are often over profound differences in how they view the very nature of god.

Saved by works/salvation
Literalist or nonliteralist
Unitarian, trinitarian or polytheist (mormon)
State of miracles in the modern age
Morality described by God or by fiat from God

Any important aspect of the philosophy has sects that disagree with each other very strongly.

#104

Posted by: Brownian, Most Vicious & Petty of Pharyngulites Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 4:42 PM

Bellringer for a cathedral used to be a hazardous profession.

Although, as an altarboy, bells were great fun: once going, the momentum of the swinging bell would pull the rope right up to the ceiling. As the bell easily outweighed you, you'd go right up with the rope If you held tightly enough.

#105

Posted by: Ing: PhD Trollologist Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 4:43 PM

Also if I recall Heddle is a predeterminist so it's no wonder he doesn't bother responding with any substance. not like it matters anyway. He just posts because God tells him to preach and he has to glorify God...not that there's any reason to do so he just has to

#106

Posted by: Kel, The Privileged View From Nowhere Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 4:44 PM

The accusation of scientism would be useless if science and religion really were nonoverlapping magisteria. What it seems people mean when the accusation of scientism comes out is "science is wrong when it encroaches on my sacred cow." It's amazing how easily the word is used, seldom accurately, and almost always a caricature of what's really been said.

#107

Posted by: Kevin Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 4:45 PM

@105...Yes, Heddle is Calvin's bulldog.

He is not, however, anyone's flea.

#108

Posted by: 'Tis Himself, Quel Dommage Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 4:49 PM

heddle #86

Nobody is saved by reading the bible--there is no doctrine of "salvation by reading scripture." It is absolutely not crucial to our survival or our salvation.

Then why do folks like Ken Ham, "Dr" Kent Hovind, and Albert Mohler insist on a literal reading of the Bible? Their whines about evolution are based on its contradiction of a literal reading of Genesis. So while YOU may not feel Biblical literalism is not crucial to salvation, there are a bunch of fundamentalist Christians who disagree with you.

#109

Posted by: Kel, The Privileged View From Nowhere Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 4:52 PM

'Tis, all True Christians know the path to salvation is the path they're on. Just as no matter your moral inclinations, True Christians know that they share their morality with God. ;)

#110

Posted by: Ing: PhD Trollologist Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 4:55 PM

@Tis

Translation: It doesn't matter if you don't have a clue what you're talking about! You just need faith that you're right!


Which sums up heddle to a tee.

It absolutely amazes me this mindset. It's the most fucking nihilistic thing I have ever heard and people like heddle fight for it because they sincerely wish to be God's wind up toys and free from any responsibility or decisions.

#111

Posted by: coughlanbrianm Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 4:57 PM

So while YOU may not feel Biblical literalism is not crucial to salvation, there are a bunch of fundamentalist Christians who disagree with you.

If Heddle is a predeterminist, practically everyone disagrees with him.

Not even the Catholics - and they believe some genuinely whacky stuff - could stomach something as noxious and evil as predetermination. Seriously sick stuff:-(

#112

Posted by: heddle Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 4:59 PM

Kel OM,

'Tis, all True Christians...

And what do all True Atheists say about this?

(Though I allow that I have forgotten--are True Athiests the ones satisfied with the dictionary definition--or are they Stupid Atheists, while the True Athiests are those prepared to give a substantive apology for their atheism?

It's very hard for an outsider to keep this straight. It all looks rather arbitrary to us.

#113

Posted by: mikerattlesnake Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 5:00 PM

Oh heddle, you tiresome apologist, don't you think a book containing words directly inspired by an all-knowing god might contain a few tidbits of scientific knowledge that weren't already known at the time? And why use an incorrect fact as a metaphor? If the unmoving earth is a metaphor for god's infinite unchanging nature, what does it say about god that the earth actually moves all over the place? That's like using the metaphor "she was as cold as a lit match" to actually attempt to convey coldness.

C'mon, quit prevaricating and address the substance, you ninny.

#114

Posted by: 'Tis Himself, Quel Dommage Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 5:05 PM

heddle apparently thinks there's few doctrinal differences between various flavors of Christians. Catholics may insist Pope Benny is the Grand Poohbah of Christiandom and Mormons think the same thing about the Prophet, Revelator and Seer, President Monson but other than that, they're all pals together. heddle has never heard of salvation by faith versus salvation by good works or other arguments between Christians. Damn, heddle sure is ignorant about his own faith.

#115

Posted by: coughlanbrianm Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 5:05 PM

It's very hard for an outsider to keep this straight. It all looks rather arbitrary to us.

We're all True Atheists as long as you accept the dictionary definition and the free baby burgers. From there we break out into Imbecile, Moron, Stupid, Average, Bright, Clever and Genius level Atheists. It's a bit like the Brave New World system.

Do you really buy predestination? You seem like a sensible guy.

#116

Posted by: Brownian, Most Vicious & Petty of Pharyngulites Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 5:07 PM

And what do all True Atheists say about this?

We say that humans in a godless world would not be expected to have a consistent doctrine of faith. Next question?

It's very hard for an outsider to keep this straight. It all looks rather arbitrary to us.

Any interpretation other than to consider this statement a compliment by you would strongly suggest you're a hypocrite.

Nonetheless, thanks but no thanks. We don't particularly care whether or not believers can understand us, classify us correctly, or even tell us apart. Hell, why should should we consider ourselves any different than any other facet of the natural world which the faithful, by and large, fail to comprehend?

#117

Posted by: mikerattlesnake Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 5:08 PM

@112

Are you attempting to be clever? It's really hard to tell, you just come off kind of dumb. Did you miss that "True Christians" is a joke?

#118

Posted by: kzielinski Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 5:08 PM

The question is who put Evolution at the center of the debate? It seems to me that it was the Theologians who did so to begin with.

#119

Posted by: Kel, The Privileged View From Nowhere Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 5:13 PM

It's a serious point, heddle. The problem of saying that your way is the right way to salvation comes unstuck by the fact that there are others with different beliefs while citing the same source and declaring the same thing. The morality example came from a real study that showed believers felt their mmorality was inline with gods - irrespective of what their moral beliefs were.

What makes you think you're right, while all those who disagree wrong?

#120

Posted by: Brownian, Most Vicious & Petty of Pharyngulites Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 5:18 PM

Are you attempting to be clever? It's really hard to tell, you just come off kind of dumb. Did you miss that "True Christians" is a joke?

Don't bother replying heddle, I'll do it for you:

1) You're not a worthy opponent mikerattlesnake.

2) 1) is true.

3) See 2).

#121

Posted by: Kel, The Privileged View From Nowhere Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 5:20 PM

As for 'true atheists', since there is no doctrinal commitment, the way to be a true atheist is to reject the concept of gods. I'm sure that there are those who think there are good and bad reasons to be an atheist, but that's different to truth claims concerning faith and morality. How do you know that your way is the right way, while all those who disagree are wrong?

Reminds me of Mere Christianity, where CS Lewis declared that all religions had similarities and ways of looking at the divine, but where the differences lie they must be judged according to Christianity. Why should Christianity be the standard?

#122

Posted by: Dhorvath, OM Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 5:23 PM

Kel,
Because it is what he knew. Much like a divine being has to be like us because that's what we know. Anthropomorphism applied to religion, or everything about me is special.

#123

Posted by: raven Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 5:26 PM

The question is who put Evolution at the center of the debate? It seems to me that it was the Theologians who did so to begin with.

Xianity predates Darwin by 1800 years. And it isn't all xians. In fact, most xians worldwide don't have a problem with it. It is mostly US fundie death cultists.

And it is just something for them to babble on about and hate and fear. Other than that, they don't care.

We've seen this before.

"If we give up the Flat Earth, our religion will die."

If we give up Geocentrism, our religion will die."

"If we give up hunting down and killing witches, our religion will die." This was really said by John Wesleyan, the founder of Methodism.

"If we give up polygamy, our religion will die." Said by many a Mormon even today.

All these important, deeply held beliefs central to the religions always turn out in the end to be pretty dispensible. Why shouldn't they be, it's all make believe anyway.

#124

Posted by: Kel, The Privileged View From Nowhere Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 5:26 PM

Yes, the 'True Christians' was a joke, but a joke used to make a serious point. I do not get how anyone can have confidence that their way is the right way, especially given the range of views justified the same way. Surely it doesn't need to be pointed out the problem of plurality and the way the bible has been interpreted through history - how does one possibly transcend those problems to maintain any confidence beyond a subjective truth?

#125

Posted by: Phodopus Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 5:30 PM

heddle, don't believe anything they say! I'm the only True Atheist here - it's written in a book I have somewhere. Also, I really feel it in my heart.

#126

Posted by: coughlanbrianm Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 5:32 PM

@Phodopus.

Burn the heretic! Kill the unbeliever!!

Follow the shoe! Not the gourd!

#127

Posted by: Dhorvath, OM Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 5:35 PM

Phodopus,
Literalist, the book was written figuratively and only I know how to interpret it correctly.

#128

Posted by: Kel, The Privileged View From Nowhere Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 5:44 PM

As far as I can see, any atheist is a True Atheist just as long as they carry a conscious rejection of gods. There are many paths to nonbelief, and who are we to say that one path is better than another? Phodopus, if that book works for you then great. Dhorvath, if you take that book differently, then that's fine too.

#129

Posted by: Brownian, Most Vicious & Petty of Pharyngulites Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 5:45 PM

Follow the shoe! Not the gourd!

Of course, they're metaphorical* shoes and gourds. Deep wisdom, once you've already decided it's true.

*Or is that literal?

#130

Posted by: humanapexx Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 5:45 PM

All they have to do to prove atheism wrong and Christianity true, they think, is to prove that evolution is false. I welcome this tactic.

Evolution kills Christianity because this basic scientific fact shows that the creationist Jeebus was an uneducated moron. I think it's wonderful when fundamentalists deny the foundation of biology. They are (correctly) telling the world "If you want to be Christian you have to be a science denier and you have to be as stupid as the dead Jeebus."

http://darwinkilledgod.blogspot.com/

#131

Posted by: Phodopus Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 5:49 PM

Don't you accuse me of interpreting anything here. The relevant parts of the book are completely clear on the matter at hand, and therefore literal, while the irrelevant parts are intentionally metaphorical. This way one can immediately tell the difference. Get it?

#132

Posted by: coughlanbrianm Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 5:56 PM

*spittle flecked*

Blasphemers! I hold to the one true doctrine and I know I'm right so you must be evil, an inhuman incubus, spawn of the unholy one!!

Damn this rethoric is tricky without the supernatural angle.

*red faced, delivered in a near falsetto*

Reactionary Monarchists!! Running dogs!! Lackies of the ... the ... capitalists!

#133

Posted by: Lynna, OM Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 5:59 PM

@88

Actually, as secularists, old athiests or whatever who actually have made some effort to ground themselves in social sciences and, above all, in philosophy, know, New Atheists DO engage in scientism.
Sam Harris' Immoral Landscape is littered with it. http://socraticgadfly.blogspot.com/2011/02/sam-harris-immoral-landscape.html

A quote from the review:
Many religious people support at least some right to abortion, but noted atheist Nat Hentoff is 100 percent prolife. Ditto on end of life issues. And, if I looked a little bit, I could surely find atheists and agnostics with less enlightened views on gay rights than many religious people.
You don't even have to look to find unenlightened views on gay rights within religious organizations -- those views are in your face and numerous.

It doesn't make much sense to base part of one's critique of Sam Harris' overall thesis regarding morality on the fact that if you turned over enough rocks, you could come up with a certain percentage of ignorant atheists. Or atheists that are just plain weird. Nat Henthoff is a libertarian, a Cato Institute lackey, and a guy obsessed with non-libertarian-like control over the uteri of all women.

A good deal of the review on Sam Harris' book takes the tack that Harris is quasi-Platonic but knows fuck-all about Plato, despite having a degree in philosophy. The review makes no sense for the most part, and very little sense here and there. Typical of philosophers?

#134

Posted by: feralboy12 Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 6:01 PM

Wanna talk "arbitrary," Heddle?

How about eternal salvation/damnation being determined by finding and following the right religion, when we know that the single greatest predictor of one's religion is one's place of birth?
Millions of people have lived and died without ever hearing about Jesus; billions have spent their lives in societies that punish supposedly "heretical" beliefs, sometimes with death. I think these people are/were at something of a disadvantage; and considering how high the stakes are, it seems fundamentally unfair.

Or maybe just a wee bit arbitrary.

#135

Posted by: Kel, The Privileged View From Nowhere Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 6:07 PM

Sam Harris is only suferficially engaging in scientism. He's using the same enlightnment values of human inquiry that has come to shape the modern intellectual landscape, and just labelling it science. I guess 'How reason and evidence can shape human values' doesn't have the same authoritative knowledge perception that 'science' does...

#136

Posted by: Phodopus Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 6:25 PM

Kel, OM says
Sam Harris is [..] suferficial[...] scientism. He's using [...] human values' [and]
doesn't have the same authoritative knowledge perception that 'science' does.

QFT


just kidding

#137

Posted by: https://me.yahoo.com/a/SaqGVG0xvJEQVwURVamS3DTCdvov0BLhXK1jOsYPPJQ-#b4893 Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 6:28 PM

Brother Yam @92:

That blog was revealed to be satire a long time ago. It's the most successful Poe I know of.

And, yeah, it's hard to tell.

Hey, I found a swell video the other day. Completely O/T. It's The Carpenters doing a cover of "Ticket To Ride."

It's horrible.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fsgj4xcxXyA

It is definitely possible to be worse than you might have thought it could be.

MikeM

#138

Posted by: PZ Myers Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 6:33 PM

Heddle, your stupidity quotient is rising. Fuck off.

Steverino63, you're just an idiot. You can go bugger yourself.

#139

Posted by: Dhorvath, OM Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 6:35 PM

Kel, don't go all acommodationist on us. There must be deep rifts. Deep I tell you.

#140

Posted by: mikeyB Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 6:43 PM

The basic viewpoint of religion is there is a God. If you believe in this God you'll get goodies whether they be blessings in this life or the next. The catch is you have to pay me a fee -e.g. 10% of your salary & I'll provide for you the right formulas, right prostrations to get those goodies. In the eastern version, substitute enlightened guru and his ashram for God.

I'd like to know what are the goodies for recognizing and believing that nature is red in tooth and claw. If Darwinism is a religion what exactly are the goodies we're supposed to get and who should we be paying to get em'.

#141

Posted by: mark d Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 6:48 PM

>> “Darwin made it possible to be an
>> intellectually fulfilled atheist.”
> I always hated this quote. The fact that
> science continues and we continue seeking the
> answers post Darwin [...] shows that it's
> blatently false.

What rot! Before Darwin, anyone who said that they thought theistic explanations of life were stupid and unsupported would instantly have been faced with the challenge "So, how did we all get here, then?" -- and would have had to answer "Well, I don't bleedin' know, do I?" Later, and thanks to Darwin, that same atheist could answer "Actually, by random variation and fundamentally non-random cumulative selection -- though, as always, there are some details to be filled in". The fact that s/he has to acknowledge that 'there are some details to be filled in' *doesn't make it untrue that s/he is now intellectually fulfilled*.

Just what is the malfunction that makes you people so irrationally hostile to Dawkins' line? Even the meanest intelligence should be able to see that 'intellectually fulfilled' doesn't remotely imply 'in possession of every conceivable relevant fact'. Stop pretending otherwise: it makes you look like an accommodationist jerk..

M.

#142

Posted by: tomh Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 6:49 PM

If Darwinism is a religion what exactly are the goodies we're supposed to get

You're supposed to get tax breaks.

#143

Posted by: Phodopus Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 6:52 PM

Yeah, Atheism must be the worst religion EVER.

First you have to work hard to understand some science in order to appreciate its perspective on the universe.

After that, you have to make up your own mind about what the meaning of your life is.

And THEN, as the grand finale. you die and rot.

#144

Posted by: GravityIsJustATheory Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 6:56 PM

@63...you know, I really wonder if ANYONE actually became an atheist as a result of studying the biological theory of evolution...you didn't, I didn't, PZ didn't (AFAIR), and on and on.

Not exactly in my case: I knew about and accepted evolution while and before I was a Christian, but thought they was a need for (or at least a possibility of) God or a god guiding or influencing or at least initializing events. But learning more about evolution (and geology in general, plus a few other things*) made me realize that there was no need for a god even the most remote deistic form.


* The Science of Discworld was another big influence on me shaking off the need for god, in particular the discusion of emergent properties and behaviour, because it demonstrated how complexity can develop from the simplest of building blocks and rules.

#145

Posted by: nigelTheBold, Minister of Spankings Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 6:56 PM

Steverino63:

So do other New Atheists, like PZ, or Vic Stenger, when they claim to have "disproved God," the logical equivalent of dividing by zero.

Well, as there has never been (to the best of my knowledge) a specific, coherent, consistent definition of God, talking about God is more like the logical equivalent of children speaking gobbledygook.

Or am I being too harsh?

#146

Posted by: kiki Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 6:56 PM

How is it, for example, that Joshua got the sun to "stand still" and no one noticed that everything not fixed firmly to the ground went flying off at 1,000 miles an hour?

I'm probably wrong about this, but isn't it the case that the earth's gravity is caused entirely by its mass and not by its movement through space? Wouldn't gravity feel the same to us if the earth was simply hanging motionless in space?

Although it does bring up a cool idea I read somewhere (possibly here) against the existence of ghosts, souls or other such non-corporeal beings - assuming that they have no mass and are not affected by gravity, from our perspective, the instant such beings manifested themselves, they would recede into space at thousands of miles an hour. Perhaps ghosts have to constantly non-corporeally 'run' to keep up with the earth, which seems a bit tiring, or just wait in space for the earth to come round once a year, which seems a bit boring.

#147

Posted by: Dhorvath, OM Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 7:01 PM

kiki,
Yes, but you are moving through space right now and if the Earth, which is moving with you, suddenly stopped inertia will give everything not sturdily attached to the ground a very bad day.

#148

Posted by: Phodopus Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 7:01 PM

kiki,

If God halted the earth instantly, the contents of its surface would be ripped off it due to inertia, I think that's what Kevin meant. However, as God is almighty, it is certainly no challenge for Him to stop the things on the surface at the same time, thus eliminating the devastating relative acceleration. That's the problem with "disproving" god with such arguments. In the end you can always answer such challenges with "By definition, God can do anything". They are good for amusement at best.

#149

Posted by: Dhorvath, OM Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 7:05 PM

In that case, why stop the Earth at all, why not just make the sun disappear over Joshua and replace it with a static light source that doesn't move. Everywhere else carries on just like normal and that's why no one else in history recorded the event.

#150

Posted by: John Morales Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 7:10 PM

[OT]

kiki,

I'm probably wrong about this, but isn't it the case that the earth's gravity is caused entirely by its mass and not by its movement through space? Wouldn't gravity feel the same to us if the earth was simply hanging motionless in space?

The appearance of the sun as being stilled would've related to the Earth's rotation, not to its mass.

Presumably, the claimed miracle affected the angular momentum of all Earthly components by magically nullifying it for a time.

#151

Posted by: heddle Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 7:15 PM

Kel, OM,

Yes, the 'True Christians' was a joke, but a joke used to make a serious point. I do not get how anyone can have confidence that their way is the right way, especially given the range of views justified the same way. Surely it doesn't need to be pointed out the problem of plurality and the way the bible has been interpreted through history - how does one possibly transcend those problems to maintain any confidence beyond a subjective truth?

(The "True Atheist" was also a joke. PZ has no sense of humor. Then again, if I had been the instigator of such a ridiculous narcissistic debate, I'd probably be a bit sensitive too.)

I am curious about what you mean. If you gather evangelical Protestants of various denominations they will disagree, sometimes violently, on things like predestination or infant baptism. They will, however, generally agree on the gospel--that salvation is by faith in Christ. And if we don't add the pesky word alone then the RCC is also in agreement. So is your question about why I think I am right on the common thread: Saved by faith, or on the details (e.g., Calvinistic doctrine.)

The answer for the later is: I'm certainly wrong in many of those details, and possibly most or even all of them. But salvation is not based on correct doctrine.

#152

Posted by: John Morales Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 7:21 PM

salvation

What a stupid conceit.

#153

Posted by: mikeyB Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 7:25 PM

What is the simplest thing you can think of? I've always wondered why religious arguments are almost invariably simplistic. I found out from the great theologian St Thomas Aquinas who in Summa Contra Gentiles stated - God is simple, therefore the more simplistic arguments for God the better.

"In every simple thing, its being and that which it is are the same. For if the one were not
the other, simplicity would be removed. As we have shown, however, God is absolutely
simple."

But what is the simplest thing you can think of - thin air - nothingess - a vacuum. Since physicists have been talking about quantum fluctuations from the false vacuum creating the multiverse, perhaps Acquinas was referring to this. God is absolutely nothing which in turn created everything - and simple at the same time.

Nope, the kind of brain power needed to come up with these ideas aren't simple.

#154

Posted by: kiki Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 7:26 PM

*Slams fist dramatically on table, scattering reams of fevered calculations*

[Gritted-teeth Kirk Douglas voice]

Of course - inertia! How could I be such a fool?

#155

Posted by: Phodopus Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 7:26 PM

But salvation is not based on correct doctrine.

Right, It doesn't matter what you believe, as long as you do believe. This illustrates the perversity of your position well. It also reveals a deep disrespect for rationality and enlightenment values.

#156

Posted by: PZ Myers Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 7:27 PM

Jesus. So you natter on, arguing over a mythical mechanism that might get your soul, which there is no reason to believe might exist, into an imaginary heaven for which you have no evidence, based on splitting hairs over the precise phrasing of vague instructions in a magic book which you think was inspired by a god, another fact not in evidence and a being with no rational support.

And you don't realize how stupid you look.

#157

Posted by: kiki Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 7:38 PM

But salvation is not based on correct doctrine.

Which leads one to the catch-all response to such theistic claims, the creationist kryptonite: How the fuck do you know?

Please note that 'Because all these other people make the same assertion' is not an answer. I am asking for rational, objective evidence that 'salvation is not based on correct doctrine', or even that the statement actually means anything at all.

#158

Posted by: Darreth Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 7:38 PM

These type of arguments tell me more about the zealots than anything else. I find it amusing.

They're so steeped in the language they use to delude their own addiction to mythology that they barely understand what it is they're fighting - and don't have the language skills to accurately describe what they're railing against.

#159

Posted by: heddle Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 7:38 PM

PZ,

And you don't realize how stupid you look.

Actually given that I was an atheist for the majority of my life, I do realize how stupid I look to you. (That's y'all.)

How about you? When you wrote:

you all have reasons for being atheists...unless, of course, you're really stupid.

Didn't anyone say: Criminy PZ, it's like you called the religious nutters and asked--"Um, what can I do to give you some fresh ammunition in your argument that atheism is religion? Oh--create a litmus test! Of course! Consider it done!

#160

Posted by: mikeyB Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 7:43 PM

Another trivial point - I refer Heddle to an article by Steven Matthies on Chriatian Salvation. Basically the gist is that salvation is defined by whatever tribe of Christianity you happen to belong to (or if you disagree, you can always create you're own new denomination or launch a new reformation). I know he probably won't bother to read it - but others might get a kick out of it.

http://www.infidels.org/kiosk/article192.html

#161

Posted by: Phodopus Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 7:50 PM

Heddle, now you're just trolling.
Why not address the substance of the serious concerns and questions that were raised as a response to your claims. Your attempts at criticizing the maître de blog sound a little forced by now.

#162

Posted by: Birger Johansson Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 7:54 PM

Carovee: "If he [Darwin] hadn't come up with the theory of evolution, someone else eventually would have figured it out. The theory is based on actual evidence found in the actual world not handed down from on high".

Actually, evolution was discovered three times independently of each other.
By Darwin, by Wallace and by a third English bloke who used his observations of domesticated species and of bees in gardens -the last one did not realise the political/religious potential, and only published an obscure book that never made a splash. I do not recall the name, it came up at a discussion in the "Letters" section of New Scientist a few years back.

So, yes, comparing Darwin's [verifiable] theory of evolution to a religion is WRONG, WRONG, WRONG!

#163

Posted by: kiki Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 8:08 PM

Honest question, heddle: by 'I used to be an atheist' do you mean 'I had thought about the issue and decided that I didn't believe in god', or 'I'd never really thought about whether there was a god or not'?

#164

Posted by: Wowbagger, Man-Hating Man of Pharyngula Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 8:11 PM

Phodopus asked (of heddle):

Why not address the substance...

Since your name isn't familiar to me, I'm going to assume (feel free to correct me if I'm wrong) you've not come across our occasional visitor before - he doesn't deal in substance; in fact, he avoids it at all costs, preferring instead to deceive, inveigle and obfuscate* at every opportunity.

His version of Christianity is that kind appreciated most by lawyers and people who captained their high school debate teams - they can argue for hours on end and never actually address the issue at hand even once.

Discussions like that with heddle are like asking someone to show you they can walk a straight line and instead they tapdance in place while arguing that, since their feet are moving, and when you walk your feet move, they therefore must be walking.

Really, the only value in having them is that such obvious dishonesty peddled as genuine debate can help religious fence-sitters see exactly how ridiculous the intellectual contortions used to justify religion get.

*Yes, if you're wondering, that is a reference to The X-Files.

#165

Posted by: Ariamezzo Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 8:30 PM

Stupid and credulous people will be stupid and credulous, religious or otherwise. That's what PZ meant when he said that an atheist who has never examined his philosophical foundation for being an atheist is a coin standing on edge, just waiting for a slight wind to blow him towards one god or another. Following scientific methodology, we can predict that we will find some religious people who were once atheists who seemed to have converted for no logically founded reason. Perhaps Heddle is evidence of PZ's theory.

#166

Posted by: Kel, The Privileged View From Nowhere Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 8:34 PM

am curious about what you mean.
I meant to ask two separate, but related questions. The first is about Biblical consistency, how do you know you're interpreting it right? By faith alone, or by faith and works, are both biblically supported, yet clearly have different implications. Then there are problems with such doctrines on the basis of attributes for God, those who try to reconcile a good God with the doctrine of salvation and come up with something very different. There are those who think heaven is reserved for 144,000 virgin male Jews. Which one is right?

The second is about reliability of such beliefs. After all, slavery was supported on the basis of biblical verse. Galileo was found to have contradicted one of the Psalms. There are people still looking for evidence of Noah's Ark, Biblical creationists who take an inerrant position, etc. The point being that since people take such different positions (and have done all throughout history), how can you be confident that you've gotten yours right? What is the methodology by which you check that what you believe is reality? How can you trust the bible as a source? Could the faith in salvation through faith have been a 2nd century marketing pitch? Mormons had a similar one in the 19th century promising direct communication with God.

In other words, I just can't see how you can know what you believe. And, therefore, how you can be so confident in it. It really makes no sense to me.

#167

Posted by: 'Tis Himself, Quel Dommage Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 8:37 PM

heddle #159

Actually given that I was an atheist for the majority of my life, I do realize how stupid I look to you.

Why is it that godbotherers almost always trot out the "I used to be an atheist"? Does heddle actually expect us to accept he disbelieved in god for years and then found Jebus? If I had a nickel for every goddist who "used ta be a atheist" then I'd have a bunch of nickels. Sure, there's a minuscule number of atheists who decide to become goddists. There's a much larger group of folks who were unhappy with the particular cult they were raised in and spent time outside organized religion until they found some sect which appealed to them. There's an even larger group of goddists who flat out lie* about being atheists in a vain attempt to score points. The fact that points are almost never scored doesn't seem to bother the Liars for Jebus™.

*As any Jebus cultist can tell you, Lying for Jebus™, especially to the heathen, isn't really lying and is okey-dokey in Jebus's eyes.

#168

Posted by: heddle Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 9:01 PM

Tis Himself, OM

Does heddle actually expect us to accept he disbelieved in god for years and then found Jebus? If I had a nickel for every goddist who "used ta be a atheist" then I'd have a bunch of nickels.

Ahhh. That's Rule 1 in The Laws of Internet Atheism, The Law of Coverts. Namely:

The Law of the Converts: Every atheist who claims to have been a devout Christian was. Every Christian who claims to have been an atheist, wasn't.

There is, of course:

The Pharyngulyte Corollary to the Law of the Converts: The more the atheist's deconversion was due to encountering someone similar to a Revrun' Mike, a prototypical Baptist minister who wears a white suit, chews tebaccy, routinely preaches on evilution and miscegenation, and instructs young children (under six, when they're impressionable) with explicit images of unimaginable torture in hell (which they must color in Sunday School), the more credible and weighty is the testimony.


#169

Posted by: Wowbagger, Man-Hating Man of Pharyngula Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 9:06 PM

'Tis Himself wrote:

Does heddle actually expect us to accept he disbelieved in god for years and then found Jebus?

He has to stick to this, because - for him at least - believing he only became a Jesus-humping loon after his god sprinkled fairy dust over him and waved his magic wand is preferable to the alternative, i.e. that believing in God can be a result of a rational process - since admitting that he didn't believe under those circumstances would mean that he'd been, well, wrong about something.

And ol' heddle don't hold with that, nosireebob.

#170

Posted by: heddle Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 9:09 PM

MikeyB,

Thanks, I did read it. It is not even self-consistent. For example, in the column "How is when saved?" he writes, for Southern Baptists,

Baptism (by immersion) seen as a public testimony to the commitment to Christ (infant or preconversion baptisms not practiced); some require baptism, some do not. Belief in God, eternal covenant between the Father and the Son about the redemption of the elect, repentance of sin. Communion is seen as symbolic.
So is it (baptism) required, or not? The answer for Southern Baptists is: it is not. The mode of Baptism is what is debated, not whether baptism saves. It should not be listed under "how is one saved".


That is not the only mistake (by a long shot). Presbyterians do not believe baptism is "as symbolic ritual" they believe it is a means of grace. Again, it should not be listed under how one is saved.

#171

Posted by: elronxenu Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 9:11 PM

Evolution is just one of the tools in our tool belt of facts and findings which contradict Christian dogma, and that of many other religions too.

One day I hope we will reach a tipping point where denying evolutionary facts and spouting evidence-free conjecture as religious truth is frowned-upon. Until then, I expect creationists to lie, deny, misrepresent and indoctrinate.

#172

Posted by: John Morales Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 9:19 PM

Heddle, your soteriology is as relevant as others' theodicy.

You're just another godbot.

#173

Posted by: https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawm3DqnsZeaBxlnp9eLGLyb69Ou_sKCFcF0 Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 9:20 PM

Gee Whiz PZ, Mohler didn't even mention you by name! What a terrible slight. I corrected this yesterday adding you and Jerry Coyne to the list of "new atheists." I seem to be attracting a lot of "disagree" votes. That happens if you dis creationists.

Mohler has given me a few hours of entertainment. His editorial last week was even more stupid than the one this week. I can hardly wait for Saint Valentine's Day. Oh, Baptists don't like saints. Oh well.

#174

Posted by: Wowbagger, Man-Hating Man of Pharyngula Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 9:24 PM

Further to my #169, I would also exempt heddle from meeting the criteria for the 'I used to be an atheist' canard, since he's not using in the way it's usually used, which is 'I used to be an atheist...until I read the bible/heard the words of Jebus in my heart'; i.e. in such a way that it implies one can become a Christian as a result of a rational process, if only they'd read the book, listen to the podcast, or let the priest lay hands on them.

Remember, the teachings and trappings of Christianity have absolutely no innate capacity for converting you; you can only become a Christian through magic.

*No, not that way. Well, most of the time.

#175

Posted by: Ing: PhD Trollologist Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 9:39 PM

Actually given that I was an atheist for the majority of my life, I do realize how stupid I look to you. (That's y'all.)

And you became a Calvinist!? If true this doesn't increase your credibility, it just shows you're the dumbest, most irrational, most immoral, selfish fucking moronic idiot to ever walk the earth. Jesus Haploid Christ! You're so full of shit when you speak you summon flies

#176

Posted by: Ing: PhD Trollologist Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 9:44 PM

Oh and I feel perfectly justified being as nasty or insulting to heddle as possible. There's no way that pile of shit licking cum encrusted tube socks can honestly complain. God designed and preordained me to be a belligerent antagonistic ass and has already decided that I will call him a putrid blubbering mass of sadistic ingrown pubic hair that spends his nights wacking off to thoughts of everyone else being tortured in his master's rape dungeon.

And the best part is. *I* may be saved and he may not be! God's already decided so either I'm going to hell anyway (in which case fuck you heedle and fuck you god) or I'm going to heaven (in which case HAHA to heddle...either you're going ot hell or have to spend eternity with me. So you'll be in hell either way)

#177

Posted by: lordsetar Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 9:58 PM

Heddle #168: The reason people view such claims with that sort of cynicism is because a lot of apologists claim to have once been an atheist =/

#178

Posted by: quantheory Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 10:06 PM

On my "Bad Gnus" scale, for rating the numbers and severity of clichés used to criticize New and Gnu Atheists, it only ranks 126/400.

I don't know if that's because my scale is skewed towards accommodationist clichés, or because it actually is a relatively temperate critique. I'm tempted to say the latter; the fail is in the denial of evolution, more than in the misrepresentation of atheists.

#179

Posted by: Brownian, Most Vicious & Petty of Pharyngulites Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 10:12 PM

So is it (baptism) required, or not? The answer for Southern Baptists is: it is not. The mode of Baptism is what is debated, not whether baptism saves. It should not be listed under "how is one saved".

That is not the only mistake (by a long shot). Presbyterians do not believe baptism is "as symbolic ritual" they believe it is a means of grace. Again, it should not be listed under how one is saved.

You're sure you're right and they're not, eh?

I do hope God isn't divinely guiding their webmaster. It'd be a terrible thing for you to be wrong about the nature of the universe.

Again.

#180

Posted by: Brownian, Most Vicious & Petty of Pharyngulites Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 10:16 PM

Oh and I feel perfectly justified being as nasty or insulting to heddle as possible. There's no way that pile of shit licking cum encrusted tube socks can honestly complain. God designed and preordained me to be a belligerent antagonistic ass and has already decided that I will call him a putrid blubbering mass of sadistic ingrown pubic hair that spends his nights wacking off to thoughts of everyone else being tortured in his master's rape dungeon.

I persecute Christians for similar reasons: Jesus says they're blessed if I do so.

I consider it a boon. I wonder if the lion-feeding Romans did too...

#181

Posted by: mikeyB Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 10:25 PM

"Thanks, I did read it. It is not even self-consistent." Heddle

Exactly my point!

I see you've come full circle and are again defending Southern Baptist doctrines, but not all of them (Kevin #94).

To paraphrase your #151 post you claimed that salvation is by faith in Christ but not in a correct doctrines. This isn't a docrine-hmm confusing? Me thinks this isn't self-consistent either.

#182

Posted by: KingUber Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 10:34 PM

Even if we had no idea how life came to be and diversified, isn't "we don't know, but we'll do our best to find out" a more reasonable position than "an invisible magic man in the sky poofed it all into existence because this old book says so"?

#183

Posted by: Wowbagger, Man-Hating Man of Pharyngula Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 10:39 PM

Ing wrote:

And you became a Calvinist!?

I would say it's entirely because of its tendency to be more internally consistent than any of the others, despite the fact that it makes its god (and, to a lesser extent, its adherents) truly repugnant creatures who are completely okay with the idea of damning billions of people to eternal torment with no chance of redemption no matter how good or worthy they might be.

Simply put, heddle decided that having the better grounds for an argument is preferable to having character.

#184

Posted by: Aquaria Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 10:46 PM

Oh look, it's heddle the liar, yet again.

Well, I'm sure he sincerely believes that he was an atheist, even if he must create an elaborate definition of it, but given how he willing poisoned his brain with delusion and stupidity, his memory isn't exactly trustworthy anymore.

#185

Posted by: Aquaria Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 10:49 PM

I should have posted a 3, 2, 1 for when heddle would show up. I knew he would if you got started on the Baptists.

It's like a mating call for Religitardus pompositus. Look how he had to jump in with his sneering and delusions, without fail!

#186

Posted by: Rev. BigDumbChimp Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 10:55 PM

(Btw, thanks for the kind comment on my son's youtube. It resulted in much interesting conversation about how a "bigdumbchimp" was comment about his piano playing.)

You're welcome. I meant it.

#187

Posted by: heddle Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 10:57 PM

mikeyB,

this isn't a docrine-hmm confusing?

It can be, I know. But no, salvation is by faith alone, even if you do not affirm the doctrine of salvation by faith alone. You can be doctrineless--perhaps having never heard of Christ at all--but if you are saved, it is by faith.


I see you've come full circle and are again defending Southern Baptist doctrines, but not all of them (Kevin #94).


Just to be clear I am a southern Baptist but not a Southern Baptist. Like I am a Christian scientist, but not a Christian Scientist. It was not my intent do defend Mohler--with whom I disagree on many unessential points. Or Southern Baptists (the SBC) with whom on average I disagree with even more. My first post was quite limited in scope, limited to arguing that the bible does not, as Kevin claimed, "clearly and emphatically states that the Earth is fixed and immovable." That is, in the sense that it must be taken as a statement of scientific fact.

Kel OM,


Which one is right?

I don't know and I don't think about it much. My experience matches what I read in the bible, especially Eph. 2:8. I think works are an inevitable effect, not a cause. But in some sense it doesn't matter. It is what it is.


In other words, I just can't see how you can know what you believe. And, therefore, how you can be so confident in it. It really makes no sense to me.


Well I certainly know what I believe--though whether or not what I believe is true--that I don't know.

Aquaria,

Well, I'm sure he sincerely believes that he was an atheist, even if he must create an elaborate definition of it

No, by PZ's taxonomy I was of the "stupid atheist" species--i.e., it was just based on the dictionary definition. I never thought about it much. It wasn't elaborate at all. You are wrong again--as you almost always are--about everything. It's remarkable, really.

#188

Posted by: Jadehawk, cascadeuse féministe Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 11:00 PM

Honest question, heddle: by 'I used to be an atheist' do you mean 'I had thought about the issue and decided that I didn't believe in god', or 'I'd never really thought about whether there was a god or not'?
neither actually, if we're to believe his own words. before he was a devout calvinist, he was a christian-by-default and considered himself a chistian even, which he now sees as the same as being atheist because he wasn't christian enough.
#189

Posted by: mikeyB Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 11:01 PM

FYI, for any pharyguloids who don't know what calvinism is: google "calvinism tulip" - pretty chilling nightmarish stuff if you actually believe it.

#190

Posted by: heddle Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 11:02 PM

Aquaria,

I should have posted a 3, 2, 1 for when heddle would show up. I knew he would if you got started on the Baptists.

Yes you should have. The simple, intellectually-satisfying pleasure of predicting that someone will comment on topics about which they have shown an interest! By all means you should not have denied yourself. Think how clever you would have felt!

#191

Posted by: Jadehawk, cascadeuse féministe Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 11:07 PM

and I'm severely amused that heddle thinks Catholics (not the RCC, actual everyday Catholics) believe in salvation through faith. They don't. most Catholics I've known (and thats plenty, considering my moms friends and relatives all over poland) believe that it's a "good people go to heaven" sort of deal.

#192

Posted by: Evader Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 11:08 PM

One of the comments on the linked page, reads:

Dawkins is without credit in the scientific community

*facepalm*

In the words of Professor Hubert J Farnsworth, "I don't want to live on this planet anymore".

#193

Posted by: heddle Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 11:09 PM

Jadehawk,

if we're to believe his own words. before he was a devout calvinist, he was a christian-by-default and considered himself a chistian even

And you know this, how?

I am very curious since a) it's not true and b) I never made such a biographical claim. I find it odd that someone would just make something up. Quote-mining and distortion is one thing--but complete invention--that you don't see every day.

#194

Posted by: Jadehawk, cascadeuse féministe Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 11:11 PM

I am very curious since a) it's not true and b) I never made such a biographical claim. I find it odd that someone would just make something up. Quote-mining and distortion is one thing--but complete invention--that you don't see every day.
I'm merely relating what you've written about yourself on Dispatches once. Some anecdote about what a violent asshole you used to be while still calling yourself christian.
#195

Posted by: Wowbagger, Man-Hating Man of Pharyngula Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 11:15 PM

Jadehawk wrote:

neither actually, if we're to believe his own words. before he was a devout calvinist, he was a christian-by-default and considered himself a chistian even, which he now sees as the same as being atheist because he wasn't christian enough.

Well, yes - every kind of Christianity other than TrueChristianity™ means worshipping the wrong god - and, since the wrong god can't (by definition) exist, anyone who isn't a TrueChristian™ is therefore an atheist.

#196

Posted by: heddle Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 11:22 PM

Jadehawk #194,

Oh, so it is quote-mining you are engaging in, not invention. I feel better. That post was basically along these lines: I was an atheist, but I would have claimed (in front of my fellow street urchin friends) to be a Christian if asked, because of peer pressure. The path of least resistance is to claim Christianity.

In summary, in that post I said I was an atheist, but would not have had the courage to admit it.

Yes that maps exactly into what you claimed:

before he was a devout calvinist, he was a christian-by-default and considered himself a chistian even

Not to mention that I was talking about myself around 14 years old. As an adult I said: I am an atheist.

Does it not even bother you a little bit to distort? Amazing.

#197

Posted by: mikeyB Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 11:27 PM

I know this is yet another trivial nonessential point for an enlightened Xtian like yourself Heddle. But I beg to differ - since I'm an amateur connoisseur of history - in fact a considerable case can be made that the biblical writers were in fact geocentric flat earth creationists. I know this doesn't obligate future readers to take this literally, like future readers don't take it literally that it's OK to own slaves, or stone kids to death if they are a little too disobedient. Metaphors are to be used for anything we find disagreeable. Right?

"My first post was quite limited in scope, limited to arguing that the bible does not, as Kevin claimed, "clearly and emphatically states that the Earth is fixed and immovable." That is, in the sense that it must be taken as a statement of scientific fact."

See for example:

http://hypertextbook.com/eworld/geocentric.shtml


#198

Posted by: Sastra Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 11:33 PM

@heddle:

I'm pretty sure you believe that, properly understood, Christianity does not contradict reason -- but I don't know if you think Christianity is a more reasonable position than atheism. Do you?

#199

Posted by: Wowbagger, Man-Hating Man of Pharyngula Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 11:34 PM

Jadehawk wrote:

Most Catholics I've known (and thats plenty, considering my moms friends and relatives all over poland) believe that it's a "good people go to heaven" sort of deal.

Ah, but you're forgetting - God (who's really really clever) knows everything in advance, so anyone who is good must have already been saved, even if they didn't know it. And - conveniently - there's no way to verify whether or not this is true.

That's the thing about Calvinism - it seems like they've choreographed complex handwave/tapdance routines to deflect attention away from every flaw we encounter.

It's not enough to make any difference to anyone seeking real answers, of course - but it probably helps those few introspective believers struggling with their cognitive dissonance so they can sleep soundly for a another night thinking Jesus does, in fact, love them.

#200

Posted by: heddle Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 11:35 PM

mikeyB

I know this is yet another trivial nonessential point for an enlightened Xtian like yourself Heddle

But I beg to differ - since I'm an amateur connoisseur of history - in fact a considerable case can be made that the biblical writers were in fact geocentric flat earth creationists.

I know this is a trivial nonessential point for an enlightened connoisseur of history such as yourself, but you must have missed where I agreed that the writers were quite possibly as you suggest. I'll refer you to my comment #77.

#201

Posted by: Jadehawk, cascadeuse féministe Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 11:36 PM

distortion? hardly. i did not remember this being about your cowardice; and from someone who thinks Spong is not a Christian, any use of the word "atheist" might have a broader meaning than what's usually understood by the word.

Sorry for misremembering.

#202

Posted by: Jadehawk, cascadeuse féministe Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 11:42 PM

in fact, just for clarity's sake, here's the relevant quote:

Depends what you mean by a nominal Christian. If you mean a self-identified Christian, then I'd agree. When I was a street urchin growing up in Pittsburgh I would have espoused all the standard anti-gay talking points. And if you asked me if I was a Christian I would have said: Damn straight! But I wasn't. How do you correct for people like that? How large is that group? I don't know. All you are left with is the likelihood that the majority of homophobes are self-identified Christians. But the majority of Americans are self-identified Christians--so it is expected that any group of Americans--doing anything good or bad--will have a strong representation of self-identified Christians.

#203

Posted by: heddle Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 11:42 PM

Sastra,

but I don't know if you think Christianity is a more reasonable position than atheism. Do you?

No. One cannot, in my view, arrive at Christianity through reason. One has to be supernaturally dragged into Christianity. Once in Christianity, one can use reason apologetically. At least one can try, for example, to argue that one's theology is consistent with the biblical text. (Actually, you don't have to be a Christian to do this--atheists can also use reason to argue whether a theology is consistent with the bible.) But one cannot argue, from reason, that anyone should take the bible seriously.

Of course there is a whole school of theology and apologetics that disagrees with this position. But I am solidly in the presuppositional camp.

#204

Posted by: heddle Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 11:46 PM

Jadehawk,

Sorry for misremembering.

Thank you. (Sincerely.)

Now I am off to bed.

#205

Posted by: Wowbagger, Man-Hating Man of Pharyngula Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 11:53 PM

heddle wrote:

Once in Christianity, one can use reason apologetically. At least one can try, for example, to argue that one's theology is consistent with the biblical text.

This is the part I don't get. Why do you bother arguing anything? If Christianity, as you admit, can't be achieved through reason, you can neither convert non-believers or retain believers by arguing with us - as their state of belief is already determined. According to your own description, there is absolutely nothing for you to gain via coming here.

What I think, of course, is that you're tortured by cognitive dissonance - given that you're obviously not an idiot but have somehow wound up claiming to believe in truly idiotic things - and are doing this in an effort keep yourself convinced that what you say is true, kind of like 'praying away the gay'.

You, of course, deny this - so we're back to the original question: why bother arguing?

#206

Posted by: Ing: PhD Trollologist Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 11:56 PM

@Wowbanger

From reading Heddidadiddle's stuff else where, it's because God said so. No preaching or evangelizing won't change whose saved and who isn't, it doesn't do a damn thing. But God said to do it so it glorifies him and they do it anyway knowing it has no real purpose or reason. Godbot is a great descriptor of heddle as he aspires to be an inanimate object.

#207

Posted by: Sastra Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 11:56 PM

heddle #203 wrote:

No. One cannot, in my view, arrive at Christianity through reason. One has to be supernaturally dragged into Christianity. Once in Christianity, one can use reason apologetically.

That's what I thought. But, in your role as scientist -- and probably in most of the rest of your life -- you make a firm commitment to try to be as reasonable as possible, given human flaws. Method, method, method. You understand very well the dangers which come from believing that one has been "supernaturally dragged" to a position, any position. Faith makes for unfalsifiable dogma.

Is it okay to believe that it's okay to believe things on faith? Or is it only okay to do that if you really believe you're not mistaken -- and you AREN'T mistaken?

In other words, I'm worried about your method. Are you also worried about your method?

#208

Posted by: mikeyB Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 12:04 AM

"One has to be supernaturally dragged into Christianity." Heddle

I know what you mean. I was tempted to pastafarianism after I had a dreadful vivid vision of the FSM. Alas, luckily the bond was broken in an unrelated but fortuitous attempt to loose some weight as a new years resolution - I've cut back on the pasta & now I only get occaisional nightmares about beer heaven probably partially self inflicted by the SB Packer victory.

#209

Posted by: Joe Bloe Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 12:08 AM

Christians love debating Evolution with atheists - it's a hell of a lot easier than proving god exists.


The Christian is asked to prove that god exists and responds by saying "Well I don't understand evolution..." And the atheist falls for it! From that point onward the god problem gets shoved aside and the discussion centres on science.


Fuck the New Atheists, I belong to the Fair Dinkum Atheists. We have just two requests of the theist:

(1) Describe your god
(2) Prove it exists

We'll talk about evolution later.

#210

Posted by: truthspeaker Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 12:35 AM

Posted by: KingUber Author Profile Page | February 8, 2011 10:34 PM

Even if we had no idea how life came to be and diversified, isn't "we don't know, but we'll do our best to find out" a more reasonable position than "an invisible magic man in the sky poofed it all into existence because this old book says so"?

It certainly is, which is why there were atheists in Greece 2500 years ago.

#211

Posted by: Aratina Cage Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 12:36 AM

One cannot, in my view, arrive at Christianity through reason. One has to be supernaturally dragged into Christianity. -heddle
OK then. I now know that when heddle is talking about Christianity, he is well aware that he is being completely irrational. Reason has been left far behind in everything he says about Christianity and he knows it. All he has to go on is his own personal madness. There is no reasonable discussion to be had with him about Christianity in lieu of that admission.
#212

Posted by: Ing: PhD Trollologist Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 12:38 AM

@Aratina Cage

Why do you think I skipped straight to insults?

#213

Posted by: Aratina Cage Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 1:01 AM

@Ing - Heh. It's like Wowbagger says in #205. There literally is no reason for heddle to argue anything about Christianity. One could say it's all trolling, I guess.

#214

Posted by: Brownian, Most Vicious & Petty of Pharyngulites Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 1:08 AM

Why do you think I skipped straight to insults?

Furthermore, how else is an apologist supposed to slink away feeling superior and smug than to be chased by taunts?

One day the cleverer among them may realise all we do for them, Ing. Until then they will scorn us. We don't mind though, for our love for them is a selfless kind of love.

Like God's.

#215

Posted by: Brownian, Most Vicious & Petty of Pharyngulites Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 1:18 AM

There literally is no reason for heddle to argue anything about Christianity.

Besides getting to feel smug, you mean? Remember, this is a man who holds a position that he acknowledges cannot be arrived at through reason, and yet still demands that his interlocutors understand it well enough to be 'worthy' of his attention.

Heddle: "There is no way I can convince you of my position."
Atheist: "Yeah, it is pretty irrational."
Heddle: "Hey, if you don't have a background in theology and the history of Christianity then fuck you."

He's an asshole, straight up. He'll waste your time and everyone else's if given half the chance: better yet to send him packing back to his own blog, where he can fap in the glory of his delusions all he fucking likes.

#216

Posted by: Owlmirror Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 1:28 AM

heddle @#77

That is a very good question. My answer is: it doesn't matter what they believed.


One reason is independent of how one looks at the bible. That is, even if they believed that the earth was fixed, it is arguable that what they wrote was not intended as a scientific statement but, as I indicated, a metaphorical one. In that case, the fact that they also believed it to be true in a scientific sense is irrelevant.


A second reason rests on whether you believe in the inspiration of scripture. Here again they might very well have believed the earth was flat, immovable, and the center of the universe. The only relevant question (from this perspective) is: while writing under inspiration did they pen something that was intended by god to convey a scientific statement? That is, they could have (under inspiration) penned either a) a statement they recognized as metaphorical or b) a statement that they mistakenly did not recognize as metaphorical. But in either case god, as the source of the inspiration, intended it (perhaps) as metaphorical.



The problem with this argument ... is that it can rescue any text at all from falsification and critical analysis. You could apply it just as well to Mein Kampf, or The Wizard of Oz, or The Lord of the Rings, or Frankenstein.


A while back, you seemed to be conceding that whatever god might be described as, "good" could not honestly be applied to god as an adjective. I don't know if you still hold to that (although if you've changed your mind back again, that still has some implications that might be worth exploring), but if you do, there's no reason to posit that god is honest in what god inspires. This is particularly the case with the examples in the bible that are under discussion -- if they're "metaphorical", they're bad metaphors, given that they imply something which we now know to be literally false, while not really giving any sense of what the putative metaphor is supposed to actually be.

For example, consider the flood. Given that we now have the scientific knowledge to assert, with confidence, that there never has been a literal world-killing global flood, ever, the flood story in the bible gives the false impression that there was a flood. If the flood is supposed to be a metaphor -- what is it actually supposed to mean? What is it a metaphor of or for?

Do you agree that the question of god being honest cannot be taken for granted? Any particular reasoning?

Speaking of descriptions, I've taken to using the phrase "invisible person with magical superpowers" as an approximate minimal description of god or any general sort of god-like entity. Granted that it is more than a little facetious and snarky -- do you disagree with it? Do you think it is somehow incorrect? I have not yet seen any disagreement on it from a believer, and I am wondering if you have any quibbles or complaints.

#217

Posted by: Kagato Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 1:57 AM

But no, salvation is by faith alone, even if you do not affirm the doctrine of salvation by faith alone. You can be doctrineless--perhaps having never heard of Christ at all--but if you are saved, it is by faith.

This makes no sense at all.

Faith is synonymous with "belief in". How could you possibly believe in Christ if you've never heard of Christ?

If you are saved by faith alone, then you can't be ignorant and saved. If you can be ignorant and saved, then it can't be by faith.

I have to assume you've gone Humpty Dumpty on us, and "faith" as used here means exactly what you want it to mean, and not what everyone else expects.

#218

Posted by: lordsetar Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 2:43 AM

Kagato #217:

I have to assume you've gone Humpty Dumpty on us, and "faith" as used here means exactly what you want it to mean, and not what everyone else expects.

That's generally what they do. According to another goddist I was dealing with:

What I found and the experiences I had were enough to change my life, if you haven't had them then maybe some day you will but as it has been said many times; explaining faith to one that has none is like explaining colours to a blind person.
Yeah. Explaining how faith is different from belief is like trying to explain sensory heuristics to someone who doesn't have the particular sense =/
#219

Posted by: Wowbagger, Man-Hating Man of Pharyngula Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 3:21 AM

Kagato wrote:

If you are saved by faith alone, then you can't be ignorant and saved. If you can be ignorant and saved, then it can't be by faith.

Oh, you think that's crazy? Get him to explain to you how Jesus is so magical he can transcend space/time to retroactively make Moses and all the other important biblical characters prior to Jesus Christians as well, even though they'd never fucking heard of him.

Because that's part of it as well.

#220

Posted by: Kel, The Privileged View From Nowhere Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 3:26 AM

Well I certainly know what I believe--though whether or not what I believe is true--that I don't know.
Thanks for explaining, Heddle. When it comes to beliefs such as those, it really does baffle me that people will believe in them when there are just so many things that cast doubt over it. Especially given the range of beliefs that people have held throughout history, so many with certainty.
#221

Posted by: Kagato Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 5:26 AM

Oh, you think that's crazy? Get him to explain to you how Jesus is so magical he can transcend space/time to retroactively make Moses and all the other important biblical characters prior to Jesus Christians as well, even though they'd never fucking heard of him.

wat

#222

Posted by: echidna Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 6:09 AM

I belong to the Fair Dinkum Atheists. We have just two requests of the theist: (1) Describe your god (2) Prove it exists

I'd settle for (2) Provide evidence of its existence.

It's a very low bar, and still way too high for a theist. Actually, even (1) is too hard for the theist to be pinned down on.

#223

Posted by: Joe Bloe Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 6:40 AM

No, they've got describe their god, otherwise we won't know what they are talking about.

It's good for a laugh, too, if you keep pushing for details about god, and they eventually declare that god is ineffable; beyond the understanding of mere humans.

They get mightily pissed-off when you point out that they have just admitted that they really don't know what they are talking about.

And even more pissed-off when you ask them how THEY know something that mere humans cannot know.

#224

Posted by: echidna Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 6:58 AM

Heddle:

But one cannot argue, from reason, that anyone should take the bible seriously.

But one could argue, from reason, that the bible should not be taken seriously.

If the bible is to be taken seriously, we can assume that there exists an interpretation of the bible that contains no inconsistencies; that is some mix of allegory and metaphor exists that the obvious problems can be explained. We may not know what this interpretation is, but for the sake of argument, let's assume one exists.

This assumption can be falsified if with the existence of contradictions for which there is no reasonable interpretation.

I credit Ken Ham with showing me that there exist unreasonable interpretations of the bible, leading me to examine my own interpretations (YEC was unknown to me for a long time).

The contradiction that I saw that I could not resolve was this:
Matthew 5, the Sermon on the Mount, is clearly from the perspective of an extremely devout Jewish man. Jewish law is not only important, but magnified to the extent of applying to thoughts as well as deeds.

And yet Romans 6, written by a man who claims never to have met Jesus, claims the law is no longer valid, but also that even trying to live up to it brings death, since no one can be perfect and not sin, and the wages of sin is death.

Was Jesus wrong? Did he make such a mistake that even his hand-picked disciples were wrong as well? Why does the bible introduce a new character to turn everything on its head?

The fact that Paul talks about the food laws citing a dream of Peter's as authority indicates that this was not a concept that Jesus (assuming existence) could reasonably have been associated with, as Paul would have cited Jesus if he could have (or next best, James, who was also pro-law).

Like PZ, I think Paul of Tarsus was a conman. He contradicts Matthew 5 consistently, so much so that either the sermon on the Mount was a complete fake, or Paul was, or both. Matthew 5 is a well-known, key chapter. If it falls, then Christianity falls, in my view.

Paul is so pervasive to Christianity, that if he falls, Christianity falls. If you can interpret Paul consistently with Matthew 5, then please do.

#225

Posted by: heddle Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 7:10 AM

Owlmirror, k∙log W,

I suppose the quality of the metaphor is in the eye of the beholder. But I don't get your criticism that it is a dishonest metaphor because it uses images that are literally false.

I would have no trouble today using the earth as a metaphor for something solid and immovable. In fact, there are are many modern figures of speech that using false imagery. The "four-corners of the earth" and "sunrise" are the most obvious examples I suppose. Or we say "He's a rock," using rock in a way similar to the bible used earth when describing god's immutability.

So no, I don't have any examples of something I consider dishonest. My main criticism is about things that appear to be missing. One example: And he was baptized, along with his family, including the infants or And he was baptized, along with his family, but of course not including the infants --that would have been helpful.

#226

Posted by: heddle Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 7:30 AM

echidna

Like PZ, I think Paul of Tarsus was a conman. He contradicts Matthew 5 consistently.

No he does not. In Matthew 5 Jesus gives a fuller revelation of the law--the fullest that we'll ever have. As you point out he replaces the ten commandments* with something harder. While one could imagine living and never violating the 10 commandments, one cannot imagine never violating Jesus' replacement.

But you are missing the fact that there is bad news/good news. The bad news is the law is even more impossible to obey than we imagined. The good news is that that's why we need a savior and that's who Jesus is. (The best teaching moment for this is when Jesus encounters the "Rich Young Ruler.")

Paul's message is completely consistent with Matthew. The law, in the form of a newer, fuller revelation, is still there--and it convicts. The Sermon on the Mount is utterly convicting. But we are freed--totally freed from tying our salvation to the keeping of the law.

And then there is also threaded throughout the teaching that while you are freed from the consequences of breaking the law (By Jesus' work) if you are saved you will want to obey the law. Antinomianism is a sign of an unsaved person--regardless of whether they claim to believe/trust/have faith in Christ.

So no, Paul's message is consistent with Matthew 5. Trivially so, in fact.

_________________
* All the law actually--it's all gone. The Jewish civil law, the ceremonial law, and the moral law. The idiot judges who want to take a stand by posting the 10 Commandments--if they actually wanted to draw their misguided line in the sand, they should post the Sermon on the Mount.

#227

Posted by: Fludger Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 7:39 AM

If you want a prime example of the power of a bad idea then just look at deism - if you cannot explain something then invent a supernatural black box as an "explanation". It is intellectually lazy as well as incoherent - still being a human invention you can attribute whatever you need in order to maintain the pretence. It is time to stop believing in answers that mollified primitive tribes. A scientific theory, such as evolution is testable and indeed fallible, a dogma is not and so to describe evolution as a dogma displays a woeful ignorance of what science is and how it works - not I fear unexpected from believers in magic black boxes.

#228

Posted by: puseaus Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 7:43 AM

thanks heddle @226:

As you point out he replaces the ten commandments* with something harder. While one could imagine living and never violating the 10 commandments, one cannot imagine never violating Jesus' replacement.

I've been wondering about this. So this is the point where The Christian God discovers that the most effective way to make people go insane is by giving them impossible tasks to complete.
And we all have to accept this road of pain and suffering just to improve His Own Perfect Creation?

#229

Posted by: coughlanbrianm Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 8:11 AM

And we all have to accept this road of pain and suffering just to improve His Own Perfect Creation?

Apparently it's not about accepting anything; the whole thing has been pre-scripted. You don't accept salvation so much as get selected for it. Everyone else gets the jumbo barbecue pack.

Depraved stuff.

#230

Posted by: Deen Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 8:18 AM

Those references are not intended as scientific statements but as figures of speech describing, metaphorically, god’s permanence and immutability.
That's a cop-out and you know it. Why not simply state that the earth is forever moving? Wouldn't that be a more accurate metaphor that expresses the same intent?
#231

Posted by: KG Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 8:25 AM

One has to be supernaturally dragged into Christianity. -heddle

So how is it that there is no recorded case, not a single one, of missionaries meeting up with people who have already been supernaturally dragged into Christianity without hearing about it via natural means? Why is your supposedly omnipotent sky-fairy so feeble it can't even do its own supernatural dragging?

#232

Posted by: https://me.yahoo.com/a/SMQ5be4Ilesz1OwuIyzSk0X4f3IJAgq.lspV4oJ819I3T3A-#665b6 Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 8:39 AM

Actually, I recognized myself as an atheist when I could not live as a hypocrite. Already there was much of the Bible I really didn't believe was true and the more I studied history the more unbelievable the scriptures became. Those that may be true are so horrible for women why on earth would ever want to worship such a cruel and short sighted God by choice?

I would often hear Christians claim that they believed everything in the Bible to be the law of God. I would look at them sort of funny and would wonder if they actually read it? Than I realized many people have read it but very few people actually understood it. I also found it to be a record of such flawed human beings that I honestly did not want any of my children to use these characters as examples to live by.

It finally became apparent to me that many followers would look at the characters in the Bible and breathe a sigh of relief. I'm bad but I'm not that bad. So I should make it to heaven.

When my relatives started to die I started to think about how my peers would tell me what they thought was "heavenly". How when they die, then life will be perfect. But in a perfect life, would my grandmother want to spend all eternity as a 70 year old woman? Would I end up having to spend eternity with this person or that person? I mean people talked about God working miracles but I just had my doubts about how so many people can have their perfect heaven and still be together? It just isn't logical. If we have these, "heavenly bodies" will we all look the same? If we lose any bad thoughts or feelings what would we think or talk about? Finally it was the harp music. I like it once in awhile but to spend all eternity in white sheets with harp music? I know within a day or two, I would be making like Lucifer doing whatever it would take to be cast out of heaven as fast as i could.

At least all of this made the Devil's actions a little more understandable but I still don't believe a word of it. The Jewish people lived on a small part of the World. They have no elaborate historical society like the Greeks or Romans had and their gods are too much like previous Gods before them. Once I understood the biology of creation a lot better, partially from personal experience, I knew in my heart before I ever professed it that already I was an atheist. It wasn't until my son's asked me why I persuade them to sit through a bible study class when they know I am not prejudice against gay people. I thought about it for a little while and answered back that they are right. I thought it was a good environment for them to socialize in but I was deluding myself. I faced a problem I had with many things throughout my life. Accepting what other people told me was good even though in my head, I knew better. I had so many examples of situations in Church that I found unacceptable but the Church tolerated it. So many double standards and after a messy divorce, I didn't believe men were smarter than women or that any god spoke to me through them. I had dumb myself down to fit in and didn't like it one bit.

So that is when I stopped pretending that I really believed in any gods. If I would chose one, at least the Greeks had it a little more together but they still put Zeus at the top and he was very egotistical, so once again, no Gods for me. Darwin was a key component but not a very important one when it came to my giving up on religion. He was more like a pointer in the right direction but I already learned as a child to look to science for the answers to my endless questioning by the time I was six or seven years old. It was inevitable I would become an atheist. I would have become one sooner if I hadn't sheltered myself from the truth early on.

#233

Posted by: charley Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 9:04 AM

One has to be supernaturally dragged into Christianity. -heddle

Ah yes, Unconditional Election, the "U" of T.U.L.I.P., the acronym for the five points of Calvinism.

As described at The Calvinist Corner:

God does not base His election on anything He sees in the individual. He chooses the elect according to the kind intention of His will (Eph. 1:4-8; Rom. 9:11) without any consideration of merit within the individual. Nor does God look into the future to see who would pick Him. Also, as some are elected into salvation, others are not (Rom. 9:15, 21).

I was "informed" of this doctrine growing up, but apparently, unlike heddle, I was passed over for election, because here I am giving the finger to God. Oh well, sucks to be me I suppose. Eternal damnation and all...

Heddle, why are you here? I really would like to know.

#234

Posted by: Ing: PhD Trollologist Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 9:29 AM

Furthermore, how else is an apologist supposed to slink away feeling superior and smug than to be chased by taunts?

One day the cleverer among them may realise all we do for them, Ing. Until then they will scorn us. We don't mind though, for our love for them is a selfless kind of love.

Like God's.

Well it's not like I have any choice. I am doing God's will

I was "informed" of this doctrine growing up, but apparently, unlike heddle, I was passed over for election, because here I am giving the finger to God. Oh well, sucks to be me I suppose. Eternal damnation and all...

Actually, since it's predestined and works and merit mean squat you could very well be one of the elect...all while pissing in God's corn flakes.

Everything you do on earth means literally less than nothing. Morality has no value, only obedience. Everything you do or should do (ie following God's rulse) are because someone else said so, and they don't have any good reason for doing so other than it's their will.

#235

Posted by: Ing: PhD Trollologist Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 9:33 AM

Heddle, why are you here? I really would like to know.

Because God said to.

Heddles ethics/morality == "OURS IS NOT TO QUESTION WHY OURS IS JUST TO DO OR DIE"

#236

Posted by: coughlanbrianm Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 9:45 AM

Heddles ethics/morality == "OURS IS NOT TO QUESTION WHY OURS IS JUST TO DO OR DIE"

... and then burn. Forever.

You know, maybe there is something to this after all. I mean, how could an otherwise normal and intelligent human being embrace and actively endorse something so monstrous unless they simply had no choice? You'd just have to be wired that way.

The very fact that Heddle is willing to worship the monster responsible for this proves the whole thing must be real.

In fact I'm pretty certain I'm one of the elect too; suck it up atheist losers.

See you in Hell ... from Heaven!!! I'm comin' Jesus!

#237

Posted by: heddle Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 9:55 AM

KG,

So how is it that there is no recorded case, not a single one, of missionaries meeting up with people who have already been supernaturally dragged into Christianity without hearing about it via natural means?

And you know this, how? The supernatural event is regeneration (being born again.) It is not "being suddenly equipped with a working knowledge of the bible and the teachings of Jesus Christ." Missionaries could very well have encountered those who were already regenerated--personally I would view it as a certainty. Such people would have no knowledge of Jesus. They then, assuming they were competent missionaries, provided the framework in which the already regenerated person could come to understand what had transpired.

charley,

Heddle, why are you here? I really would like to know.
The same reason as anyone else I suppose--to read something interesting and, in some cases, to comment on what I read. Or is that a trick question?
#238

Posted by: Ing: PhD Trollologist Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 9:58 AM

Missionaries could very well have encountered those who were already regenerated--personally I would view it as a certainty

Of course, because otherwise your world view is even more insane. I'm going to say that no of course the missionaries never encountered any who were regenerated. They were wasting their time. God hates brown and yellow people and made them to burn in hell and thus none of them were regenerated and teaching them the bible is pointless. They are not elect. I don't see why I'm not just as right as Heddle.

#239

Posted by: charley Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 10:03 AM

Actually, since it's predestined and works and merit mean squat you could very well be one of the elect...all while pissing in God's corn flakes.

What about unforgivable sins? Can't I deny the Holy Spirit to prove I'm not on the God's secret list? How can I be saved without being forgiven? I hereby deny the Holy Spirit! And wipe my ass with the Canons of Dordt if it helps!

#240

Posted by: coughlanbrianm Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 10:10 AM

I hereby deny the Holy Spirit! And wipe my ass with the Canons of Dordt if it helps!

That unforgiveable sin thing is tricky. Do you know that no one actually knows what it is?

If God didn't want you to commit it, you wouldn't, and if He did, you would! Of course, no one knowing what it is keeps that avenue open.

Maximum obfuscation combined with maximum baseless confidence; that seems to the particular novel brand of christianity Heddle is embracing. I like it!

#241

Posted by: mikerattlesnake Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 10:12 AM

Reading heddle is just depressing. He's obviously not an intellectual heavyweight, but the man clearly has a modicum of reason. Every explanation reads like those of a man who knows the things he says are stupid, irrational, inconsistent, and false but wants very badly to believe that he is special in this universe and wants a sky daddy to pick him and love him. He just knows that if he repeats the words enough he'll get dad's attention.

As for the "used to be an atheist". Lemme guess: you were raised calvinist christian, became disaffected and rejected the church for emotional reasons, and later ended up back in the same church when you "matured". It's a story we've heard a million times and it doesn't add up to "used to be an atheist". You were apathetic and maybe a little angry, but if you were an atheist, you were the least respectable kind and you shouldn't present yourself as such on a board full of people who actually bothered to critically analyze their beliefs.

#242

Posted by: heddle Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 10:18 AM

mikerattlesnake,

As for the "used to be an atheist". Lemme guess: you were raised calvinist

No. I was raised in a non-Christian home. Never went to church (not even on Christmas and Easter), never read the bible, no Sunday school, Awana, etc.

But given, again, that this violates the first rule of internet atheism:

The Law of the Converts: Every atheist who claims to have been a devout Christian was. Every Christian who claims to have been an atheist, wasn't.

I must be making it up.

#243

Posted by: Sastra Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 10:28 AM

heddle wrote:

But no, salvation is by faith alone, even if you do not affirm the doctrine of salvation by faith alone. You can be doctrineless--perhaps having never heard of Christ at all--but if you are saved, it is by faith.

Do you mean "faith," or do you mean "grace?" If it's the former, then a person comes to salvation primarily through their own merits, by making a wise choice. They decide to make an emotional leap of faith and intellectually believe something they couldn't believe without that personal commitment.

"Regeneration" seems to imply a basic passivity. The only flowers that can -- and will -- grow are the ones the Gardener has first gracefully chosen to water.

#244

Posted by: PZ Myers Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 10:30 AM

No. I accept that someone who says they are a Christian is a Christian. Someone who says they are an atheist is an atheist.

Unfortunately, it's an extremely common evangelical trope to claim you once were an atheist, and then saw the light. Most of them are going to be false, because most people are Christians; simply numerically, it's unlikely that all those testifyin' evangelicals were atheists once upon a time.

I make exception for myself. I used to argue that I was a Christian, but after talking with enough devoted fundie/evangelical types, I realize now I was only a nominal Christian. I went through the formalities but never really believed. I suspect that many of the self-proclaimed former atheists actually went through a period of doubt (or more likely, teenage hedonism) and think that's sufficient to understand everything there is to know about atheism.

But sure, if you say you were an atheist once, fine...you were an atheist once. It doesn't change the fact that you're a deluded crackpot now.

#245

Posted by: Brownian, Most Vicious & Petty of Pharyngulites Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 10:33 AM

The bad news is the law is even more impossible to obey than we imagined. The good news is that that's why we need a savior and that's who Jesus is.

I similarly have bad news/good news for the Christian locked up in my basement.

The bad news is that, though I promised I wouldn't hurt them as long as they didn't displease me, it's pretty nigh impossible for them not to displease me.

The good news is that the ransom is only $10M.

The Law of the Converts: Every atheist who claims to have been a devout Christian was. Every Christian who claims to have been an atheist, wasn't.

Aww, do you Christians feel persecuted? Excellent: Jesus tells you that's good news.

The only thing interesting about theology is how people like heddle defend this sort of cruelty and injustice in return for allowing themselves to feel 'favoured' among everyone else. Despicable.

#246

Posted by: Katherine Lorraine, Chaton de la Mort Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 10:35 AM

@heddle:

That doesn't mean you're an atheist. It means you're religiously ignorant. Now some people do, in fact, grow up without religion and become atheists, but to completely and utterly reject rationality, skepticism, and reality for the bullshit peddled by religion... that's not very common.

You can't blame us for the comparison, though, because it's seen way too often in Christian apologetics. "I used to be one of you." "I understand where you're coming from." It's all followed by "then I read the Bible and understood what religion really was" or something like that.

Don't even mention the "I used to be an atheist" part, because it comes across as disingenuous. You're not going to make us look at you as any less of a Christian apologist as if you never mentioned it.

Either way, you're trying to hawk bullshit at us. If it's dedicated "cradle-to-grave" Christian bullshit or "I used to be an atheist" Christian bullshit, it's still bullshit in the end.

#247

Posted by: Deen Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 10:36 AM

Reading heddle is just depressing.
On the one hand, it's refreshing to see someone admit that their beliefs do not rest on a rational basis at all. On the other hand, it's frustrating that he thinks he can have a reasonable discussion starting from an unreasonable premise. At least, that's what I assume he thinks, as the alternative is that he's fully aware he's not having a reasonable discussion, but is wasting our time anyway.
#248

Posted by: coughlanbrianm Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 10:37 AM

The Law of the Converts: Every atheist who claims to have been a devout Christian was. Every Christian who claims to have been an atheist, wasn't.

Well given the relative ratios of the two groups and the current direction of the traffic, that actually seems pretty likely, but I'm happy to extend you the benefit of the doubt.

Serious question: If a human being behaved like God (killing people - obviously eternal torture isn't possible for mere humans - for no discernable reason) wouldn't the sensible course of action be to remove the tyrant? Might it not even be considered ones duty to family, neighbours and friends? Would it not also be reasonable to conclude that anyone that claimed to love this dictator was either lying, misinformed, in deep denial or perhaps even mentally ill?

I'm sure you can see where I'm going with this, but humour me with a simple answer and then lets get into the apologetics, ok?

#249

Posted by: nigelTheBold, Minister of Spankings Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 10:41 AM

Isn't Calvinism about the most arrogant form of Christianity? "I'm a Christian because God chose me, not because I chose God." That's like saying it's not what you believe, but who chose you to believe it.

"Hi. I'm a Calvinist. God thinks I'm a precious fluffy snowflake, and has chosen for me to be a chosen one."

Or has someone already mentioned this?

#250

Posted by: nigelTheBold, Minister of Spankings Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 10:44 AM

coughlanbrianm,

[…]obviously eternal torture isn't possible for mere humans[…]

I dunno. This thread comes close.

#251

Posted by: Brownian, Most Vicious & Petty of Pharyngulites Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 10:45 AM

Don't even mention the "I used to be an atheist" part, because it comes across as disingenuous. You're not going to make us look at you as any less of a Christian apologist as if you never mentioned it.

Whatever. Let them. Let them all claim they were the devoutest atheists possible until struck by lightening on the way to Damascus.

If they admit that Christianity cannot be explained rationally and must be accepted only when God himself chooses you for massive head trauma, then maybe we can get them to all shut the fuck up about their particular front lobe damage for once.

They can leave us the reason and we'll leave them the lobotomy.

#252

Posted by: coughlanbrianm Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 10:46 AM

@nigelTheBold, Captain Smug, OM.

Touché sir, touché!!

#253

Posted by: Sastra Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 10:47 AM

I'm still curious about the answer to what I asked in #207: is heddle worried about his method?

#254

Posted by: Brownian, Most Vicious & Petty of Pharyngulites Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 10:48 AM

On the other hand, it's frustrating that he thinks he can have a reasonable discussion starting from an unreasonable premise.

I'll take presuppositionalism for 100, Alex.

#255

Posted by: heddle Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 10:50 AM

Sastra,

Do you mean "faith," or do you mean "grace?" If it's the former, then a person comes to salvation primarily through their own merits, by making a wise choice. They decide to make an emotional leap of faith and intellectually believe something they couldn't believe without that personal commitment.

A good question. Of course the proper answer involves delineating formal, material, final causes etc. But a short answer is "saved by faith alone" is merely a shorthand for "saved by faith alone (Sola Fide) in Christ alone (Sola Christus) through grace alone (Sola Gracia).


"Regeneration" seems to imply a basic passivity. The only flowers that can -- and will -- grow are the ones the Gardener has first gracefully chosen to water.

Well, personally I think that's right. We were dead in our sin, not just gravely ill, but were made alive. I had no more to do with my second birth than I did my first.

Kev Quondam, Kevque Futurum, PKoD

Don't even mention the "I used to be an atheist" part, because it comes across as disingenuous.

Yes I know. That's essentially a rewording of The Law of Converts.

#256

Posted by: Sastra Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 10:55 AM

nigel the Bold #249 wrote:

"Hi. I'm a Calvinist. God thinks I'm a precious fluffy snowflake, and has chosen for me to be a chosen one."

I think it's more like "Hi. I'm a Calvinist. I believe God chose me even though I did nothing to merit being chosen, and I am not special in any other way either." Though of course someone who was chosen could also interpret it your way, rather easily.

#257

Posted by: Brownian, Most Vicious & Petty of Pharyngulites Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 11:02 AM

I think it's more like "Hi. I'm a Calvinist. I believe God chose me even though I did nothing to merit being chosen, and I am not special in any other way either." Though of course someone who was chosen could also interpret it your way, rather easily.

So, a form of nationalism deified? That's what the world needs more of.

#258

Posted by: heddle Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 11:04 AM

nigelTheBold, Captain Smug, OM.

Or has someone already mentioned this?

Only a gazillion people. Roughly the same number who ask: What good is half an eye?

coughlanbrianm,

wouldn't the sensible course of action be to remove the tyrant?

Yes.

Sastra, 207

In other words, I'm worried about your method. Are you also worried about your method?

I don't really understand the question. My rules are: 1) when I do science, I strictly follow the scientific method, just like anyone else. If there is any presupposition at all, and I think there is, it is that science is not a fool's errand. That we have not reached a point where everything we do not know is inaccessible to human intellect. 2) When I do religion, I accept the presuppositions that God exists and the bible is his word. Everything else I try to derive from that.

So no, I am not worried about my methods.

#259

Posted by: MrFire Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 11:10 AM

heddle, would I be oversimplifying you or even strawmanning you to say that, in your eyes, our concepts of fairness and justice just don't come into it?

#260

Posted by: coughlanbrianm Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 11:11 AM

@Heddle.

Thanks for that:-)

So how is it different with regard to God?

Given the little you know, surely the rational response is to defy Him and all his works?

I mean, if you even can, that is.

#261

Posted by: mikerattlesnake Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 11:15 AM

@heddle

No, I will gladly grant that any time you self-identified as an atheist you were one. I just think your experience was superficial and that bringing it up in a community of critical thinkers who have come to atheism through critical analysis (or applied it later on) is, as others have said, disingenuous. Meaningless. Pointless. PZed's "dictionary atheist" complaint was not that no one could BE a dictionary atheist, but that anyone who seriously considered themselves an atheist would have reasons for it beyond simply not believing. The "serious consideration" is where you fail.

One time you had a belief you didn't think about very hard which you had no problem letting go of when it was necessary for you to feel special in the universe. Not exactly equivalent to someone who was raised in an environment steeped with abusive religion who managed to break free through the power of their own reasoning.

#262

Posted by: nigelTheBold, Minister of Spankings Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 11:16 AM

heddle:

Only a gazillion people. Roughly the same number who ask: What good is half an eye?

Sorry. I was unclear. I meant, "on this thread." I know it's probably a common observation, as it seems to be an inevitable conclusion.

I do note you didn't attempt to deny or refute it. Not that you need to; I'd google it if I were at all really interested.

Lately, this whole Christianity thing bores the living fuck out of me. It's gotten tedious. Christianity (and many [if not all] other religions too, I'm sure) begin with flawed assumptions, wend their way through tortured logic, and arrive at irrational conclusions. All apologetics comes down to three things: 1) A book told me, 2) how can it be otherwise?, and 3) I feel it in my soul.

This is yet another reason for a secular society: people with weird beliefs should do humankind a favor and stop polluting the noosphere with bad assumptions, twisted logic, and ridiculous conclusions.

Of course, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong.

#263

Posted by: Sastra Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 11:21 AM

heddle #258 wrote:

I don't really understand the question.

Let me try to clarify it. You say you use one method for science, and another method for religion. Ok. But I am asking about the larger picture, the broader category of "how you know what you know." What you believe about God is a subset of what you believe about reality as a whole. I'm trying then to discover what you think about your ability to know things in principle.

In principle, do you think you need to guard against your own tendency to human error in forming conclusions as much as possible -- or, in principle, do you think that is only going to be necessary for some things, but not for others? For everyone -- or just for you?

Not sure if that is clearer. (Btw, have to go ... bbl though)

#264

Posted by: azumahazuki Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 11:28 AM

Hey Heddle, your post in #203 ("solidly in the presuppositional camp") explains everything.

You can prove ANYTHING with presuppositional apologetics. The reason this is so is because presuppositions are a species of axiom. You're not fooling anyone.

And unfortunately, presuppositionalism requires several OTHER axioms to sustain itself, whereas if one presupposes natural uniformity as a brute fact of existence, you only need the one (I don't, but it's one way to short-circuit you van Tillian whackadoos in debate).

It also makes it a lot less embarrassing to have to explain all the divine screwups. Under the latter, the obvious explanation is "well, it's human delusion. Are you surprised people misread nature and misunderstood what they saw?"

With yours, somehow you also have to work in "transworld depravity," the idea that the supremely powerful and all-knowing God somehow couldn't create essences free of the tendency to sin. Um, why not? What part of "omnipotence" doesn't make sense to you?

I swear, it's like someone opened your head, scooped out your brains, and had Greg Bahnsen take a giant QDoba dump in the empty space. I'm not going to try to deconvert you; the material is out there. You just don't want to see it.

#265

Posted by: Brownian, Most Vicious & Petty of Pharyngulites Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 11:32 AM

Only a gazillion people. Roughly the same number who ask: What good is half an eye?

Gosh, it must be so tedious discussing one's particular flavour of theology with people who haven't been run through with God's tamping rod.

Hey! Maybe God and Satan are discussing Heddle's faith in the face of adversity right now!

#266

Posted by: heddle Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 11:33 AM

MrFire,

heddle, would I be oversimplifying you or even strawmanning you to say that, in your eyes, our concepts of fairness and justice just don't come into it?

Well of course it is not "fair" in the sense that god does not treat everyone the same. He certainly treated the Jews differently than he treated the various "ites" they slaughtered under divine command. It is written of the twins that, before they were born, before they had done anything good and bad, God loved Jacob and he hated Esau. Of course that is not fair.

The non-Calvinist view is not fair either. In the non-Calvinist view if you have two twins with identical backgrounds and one from his unregenerated free will accepts god and the other doesn't--there has to be something different about the two. One has had different experiences, met different people, one heard the gospel and one didn't, one is a little smarter or dumber, etc. In any case: not fair. How unfair to be born rich, if indeed it is virtually impossible for a rich man to be saved.

Only universal salvation or universal reprobation is fair.

As for justice--what is dispensed instead of justice (for some) is mercy--which is indeed a form of non-justice. The argument there is that some receive justice, some receive mercy, but nobody receives injustice.

coughlanbrianm,

Because god is a deity and the creator. It's the old the potter can do what he pleases with the pot argument.

#267

Posted by: Brownian, Most Vicious & Petty of Pharyngulites Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 11:38 AM

It's the old the potter can do what he pleases with the pot argument.

I can see how you'd only want to discus such sophisticated concepts with worthy interlocutors.

#268

Posted by: Brownian, Most Vicious & Petty of Pharyngulites Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 11:40 AM

This is yet another reason for a secular society: people with weird beliefs should do humankind a favor and stop polluting the noosphere with bad assumptions, twisted logic, and ridiculous conclusions.

Or at least come completely clean about their beliefs: my God's an asshole, and I'm a douchebag for licking his ass for being one.

So far, heddle's only halfway there.

#269

Posted by: azumahazuki Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 11:45 AM

#266:

Wow, you can actually say that with a straight face? "Justice?"

Let me get this straight: all-powerful, all-knowing God creates beings he knows will sin. He creates a hell for sinners. Instead of fixing the sin, which he is responsible for as omniscient and all-powerful (since he COULD have created them differently but chose not to), he leaves it, and will throw an arbitrary subset of those into the hell he created. And, you note, never told anyone about for 2/3 of Biblical history.

This is not justice. This is a psychopath playing Sim Universe with an itchy trigger finger on the disaster button.

Calling this justice by saying "what God does is justice" is a tautology: it reduces to "what God does is what God does." Craig himself falls for this crap trying to break out of Euthyphro's circle. And when you then go on to say that what God does is arbitrary and nonsensical, well, is it any wonder people look at you cross-eyed?

I'm not going to try to deconvert you again. You've been irreversibly damaged and you're obviously happy in this state (you have answers, nevermind they're both unimaginaby horrible and almost certainly wrong). I just feel sorry for you.

Then again, like God, like believer :D

#270

Posted by: coughlanbrianm Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 11:49 AM

Because god is a deity and the creator. It's the old the potter can do what he pleases with the pot argument.

Yeah, I was kind of expecting that:-) Since, however you only have His word for it - well, if we are to be more precise - umpteenth hand hearsay on the subject of His 3-O'ness, why would you accept that as ... erm ... gospel?

Many human beings have chosen the same route when dealing with human despots, right now in Egypt, some people are facing this very question; we rightly consider those that choose to empower and enable such individuals, out of cowardice and fear for themselves, contemptible. Those that do so out of fear for their families or loved ones we consider worthy of sympathy, perhaps; at the very least we can empathise; but the despot himself is universally loathed and despised.

Why should this change just because the despot merely claims - through long dead third parties no less - to have created you?

#271

Posted by: KG Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 11:53 AM

It's the old the potter can do what he pleases with the pot argument. - heddle

Which is blatantly dishonest, because the pot is not a sentient being*: the father cannot do as he pleases with the child, which is a far closer analogy. You worship an imaginary being of infinite evil, heddle.

* Moreover, the potter cannot in general do what he pleases with the pot, if in so doing he harms a sentient being.

#272

Posted by: Tulse Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 11:53 AM

the potter can do what he pleases with the pot
And a parent can do what he pleases with his child, right?
#273

Posted by: nigelTheBold, Minister of Spankings Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 11:56 AM

To give heddle credit, he at least doesn't call his god "moral," and admits outright that arbitrary behavior is OK from his god.

#274

Posted by: Brownian, Most Vicious & Petty of Pharyngulites Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 12:02 PM

Why should this change just because the despot merely claims - through long dead third parties no less - to have created you?
Which is blatantly dishonest, because the pot is not a sentient being*: the father cannot do as he pleases with the child, which is a far closer analogy. You worship an imaginary being of infinite evil, heddle.

* Moreover, the potter cannot in general do what he pleases with the pot, if in so doing he harms a sentient being.
And a parent can do what he pleases with his child, right?

Guys, please: the important thing to remember is that this is sophisticated theology, and most atheists just haven't thought it through enough, even though it's acknowledgedly irrational unless you've already drunk the Kool-Aid.

To give heddle credit, he at least doesn't call his god "moral," and admits outright that arbitrary behavior is OK from his god.

Really? We're giving credit to people for pleading the Nuremburg defense now?

Funny old world.

#275

Posted by: azumahazuki Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 12:02 PM

This is blasphemy. If there is a good God, Heddle, you are saying the worst possible thing a believer can say: "God is evil like the Devil, only worse because he's all-powerful and all-knowing." Let me remind you that the koine Greek "diabolos" means "slanderer."

You are very possibly a blasphemer and definitely an idolator; idolator because you are determined to smash reality against your dogma until reality breaks. You have made an idol of your mind and your dogma, as surely as the Bushman makes an idol out of wood.

#276

Posted by: heddle Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 12:02 PM

Tulse,

And a parent can do what he pleases with his child, right?

No, but a parent can do more to a child than a random adult can. So even among humans--even horizontally--we cannot all do the "same things" to one another. There are different rules for spouses, children, siblings, parents, strangers.

So it is not at all surprising, when we look at a much bigger vertical disparity, between god and man, that god can do many things that are forbidden for men. Whether those things that god claims as his exclusive privilege are reasonable or whether they make him a monster is debatable--but the fact that a different set of rules applies to god should not be surprising.

#277

Posted by: Tulse Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 12:03 PM

To give heddle credit, he at least doesn't call his god "moral," and admits outright that arbitrary behavior is OK from his god.
Heddle's theology is very consistent internally -- whether it is ethically abhorrent is another matter.

His god seems like a monster to me, and I can't imagine why I would want to worship such a being, rather than fight it with all my will. (If I discovered that humanity had actually been created by aliens solely for the purpose of food and slaves, I wouldn't say, "Well, I guess that's that then, off to work and then the dinner table".)

#278

Posted by: Jadehawk, cascadeuse féministe Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 12:03 PM

The argument there is that some receive justice, some receive mercy, but nobody receives injustice.
unless the result is everybody going to heaven because those for whom "justice" would have involved hell never come to be, that's still injustice.

And arbitrarily extending mercy to some but not others, for no reason, is definitionally cruel.

It's the old the potter can do what he pleases with the pot argument
what a beautiful example of the authoritarian mind.
#279

Posted by: Matt "Nora" Penfold Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 12:05 PM

To give heddle credit, he at least doesn't call his god "moral," and admits outright that arbitrary behavior is OK from his god.

I am not sure he deserves much credit for that, seeing has how he still worships the monster.

#280

Posted by: azumahazuki Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 12:09 PM

@278

Heddle won't admit it, but his argument comes down to "I made you; what the f*ck are you going to do about it?"

Odd how "sophisticated" theology sounds like schoolyard threats when you reduce it down to 1-2 syllables a word.

#281

Posted by: Brownian, Most Vicious & Petty of Pharyngulites Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 12:11 PM

If I discovered that humanity had actually been created by aliens solely for the purpose of food and slaves, I wouldn't say, "Well, I guess that's that then, off to work and then the dinner table".

If you were Christian, you wouldn't either; you'd say, "Isn't it great how the aliens love us? They love how we mine their precious minerals, they love us with gravy and sweet potatoes..."

Also, you'd probably use words other than those commonly understood to refer to 'precious minerals' and 'sweet potatoes', because xenological apologetics, like theology, surely abhor clarity of speech and thought.

#282

Posted by: Jadehawk, cascadeuse féministe Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 12:12 PM

There are different rules for spouses, children, siblings, parents, strangers.
except for the part that unlike the god-human relationship you're portraying, they're all mutually agreed upon rules. The only time we make an exception to that is with insufficiently competent 2nd parties, who have less say in their own affairs, but for whom even stronger protections from abuse exist.

Are you saying humans as a whole are incompetent to be allowed a say in their treatment? and if so, who is it that defends us from abuse? because rather obviously, it's not the same person as the one deciding our treatment.

#283

Posted by: KG Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 12:13 PM

Whether those things that god claims as his exclusive privilege are reasonable or whether they make him a monster is debatable - heddle

Only to scumbags like you. To arbitrarily condemn sentient beings to eternal torment would be the most vile act imaginable. That you defend such acts makes you pretty vile yourself.

#284

Posted by: MrFire Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 12:17 PM

heddle, I don't feel like you actually answered my question. You offered some examples of unfairness, and that's fine. Perhaps I should ask you a different way: is God's presence an inherent affront to the values we have, or think we have?

Assuming, of course, you're willing to grant that there are some sets of values common to all humanity. :)

While I'm at it, I'll throw out another potential cliche: would it in fact make much difference to the status of your soul if you surrendered to those concepts of fairness, and joined us in disavowing God from here on?

#285

Posted by: azumahazuki Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 12:20 PM

@284:

If Heddle is anything like the other apologists I've run into, he will simply ignore anything he doesn't want to answer.

I spent some time in Undernet #apologetics and learned the basics of how presuppers act from a guy nicknamed Zilche, who is similar to Heddle but somewhat frothier. (Though really, they ALL act like they're being remote-controlled by van Til's preserved brain in a vat somewhere...).

To mangle a phrase, "It's presuppositionalism, I don't gotta justify sh*t."

#286

Posted by: coughlanbrianm Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 12:21 PM

@280

Heddle won't admit it, but his argument comes down to "I made you; what the f*ck are you going to do about it?"

It's more like :

"Hi, I'm Bob. The creator of the universe left me this note for you. Anyway, Good News! The gist of which is that you're fucked! Or maybe not. You decide. When you die we'll see if your right ..."

It's a recipe for a nervous breakdown alright.


#287

Posted by: nigelTheBold, Minister of Spankings Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 12:22 PM

Brownian:

Really? We're giving credit to people for pleading the Nuremburg defense now?

Funny old world.

The credit is for admitting it, rather than trying to hide it. While I do not find it helps his case, but he's at least honest about his god being an arbitrary fucktard who does not really care about all of his creations, but only the special snowflakes.

#288

Posted by: Kenbo Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 12:33 PM

"So it is not at all surprising, when we look at a much bigger vertical disparity, between god and man, that god can do many things that are forbidden for men." - heddle

Do you have proof that there is "bigger vertical disparity between god and man," or is this just more of your belief blather? Because without that proof, you did not really have an answer...and so all we are getting is what heddle's world is like inside heddle's head...which, come to think of it, is really all we ever get from heddle posts.

#289

Posted by: MrFire Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 12:34 PM

I like you, azumahazuki.

But see, even if his brain isn't preserved somewhere, I don't think Van Til cares that he died and turned into essence-less dust years ago. He's already presupposed that his soul lives on, and there's the end of it.

Take that, reality!

#290

Posted by: coughlanbrianm Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 12:35 PM

@287

The credit is for admitting it, rather than trying to hide it. While I do not find it helps his case, but he's at least honest about his god being an arbitrary fucktard who does not really care about all of his creations, but only the special snowflakes.

Yeah, I see what you mean. It took a while but Heddle did blurt it right out in the end. Now, while I do think that makes him a jackbooted pandimensional fascist enabling thug, someone who'd be the first against the event horizon when Satans irregulars finally break through to our reality and free us all, credit where it's due, he's a clear eyed and forthrightly honest fascist. And that's something, isn't it?

Er ... isn't it?

#291

Posted by: Matt "Nora" Penfold Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 12:35 PM

and so all we are getting is what heddle's world is like inside heddle's head

The inside if Heddle's head is a scary place.

As an interesting aside, I pass a house called Heddle everytime I go to the gym. I have not managed to pass it without an involuntary twitch.

#292

Posted by: azumahazuki Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 12:36 PM

@289

Yay, someone likes me ^^

Also know what would be darkly hilarious? If there IS a God, and the only people he sends to Hell are the people who truly think anyone deserves to go to Hell.

#293

Posted by: CJO Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 12:42 PM

Paul's message is completely consistent with Matthew. The law, in the form of a newer, fuller revelation, is still there--and it convicts. The Sermon on the Mount is utterly convicting. But we are freed--totally freed from tying our salvation to the keeping of the law.

The thing is, there are plenty of similar expressions of Jewish piety in the early Rabbinic texts, and clearly the proponents of those formulations didn't consider them to be freeing from the law or requiring a savior. Expressions like the sermon on the mount were elucidations of the law, more in the line of epitome rather than "a newer, fuller revelation".

Further, we're dealing with 1st Century issues surrounding community crises of identity and access to redemptive media in the wake of the destruction of the temple. Why the archaic natterings of diaspora Jews negotiating a new orientation to a larger culture dominated by pagan religious expression should concern you, or any modern person, as anything other than an interesting historical question, is completely baffling to me.

But I guess that's why I'm an atheist.

#294

Posted by: MrFire Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 12:43 PM

coughlanbrianm, you've inadvertently turned me into a believer. 'pandimensional fascist enabling thug' is too awesome a handle to not sell out on everything that I hold dear.

I am touched by grace. Glory!

#295

Posted by: Erulóra (formerly KOPD) Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 12:44 PM

people who truly think anyone deserves to go to Hell.
Yeah, those people should burn in Hell.
#296

Posted by: nigelTheBold, Minister of Spankings Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 12:51 PM

coughlanbrianm:

Yeah, I see what you mean. It took a while but Heddle did blurt it right out in the end. Now, while I do think that makes him a jackbooted pandimensional fascist enabling thug, someone who'd be the first against the event horizon when Satans irregulars finally break through to our reality and free us all, credit where it's due, he's a clear eyed and forthrightly honest fascist. And that's something, isn't it?

Er ... isn't it?

Well, it's something to me, at least. I appreciate intellectual honesty. Few Christians are willing to admit that their god is capriciously cruel, and beholden not to anything discernible as morality, but only to its own narcissism.

Now if only he had to humanity to realize that, if his god exists, it is something to oppose, not embrace. But I guess those who support evil tyrants and are rewarded in return are rarely concerned with the human ethics involved.

#297

Posted by: coughlanbrianm Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 12:54 PM

@294

Glad I could help:-) When you join, you also get issued with a lovely leather coat, a fine pair of sturdy jackboots and that tin for grenades you sling over your shoulder.

Obviously all that stuff is invisible, but given the rest of the industrial strength drivel you'll be called on to swallow, that's hardly likely to cause you more than a brief rumble in the tummy:-)

Welcome to Jehovah's Wehrmacht, where Gott is quite literally Mit Uns!!!

#298

Posted by: callout2Him Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 12:56 PM

Look at how far man has advanced in a relatively short period of time, considering the universe is 13.75 Billion years old. There are thought to be 100 billion galaxies and each galaxy contains roughly 200 billion stars. Imagine how many planets exist in the universe. Our sun is predicted to have 5 billion years of life left in it.

If given an unlimited amount of time, support and resources, could man advance to the point of complete understanding and total control of physics and nature?

#299

Posted by: Rev. BigDumbChimp Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 12:58 PM

If given an unlimited amount of time, support and resources, could man advance to the point of complete understanding and total control of physics and nature?

I'll take loaded questions for 1000 Alex

#300

Posted by: Brownian, Most Vicious & Petty of Pharyngulites Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 12:59 PM

But I guess those who support evil tyrants and are rewarded in return are rarely concerned with the human ethics involved.

Justice will be done, though. I have it on good authority that Heddle will be murdered by Gríma Wormtongue once Frodo drives them from the Shire.

#301

Posted by: KG Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 1:05 PM

CJO, Owlmirror,

As our resident biblical experts, I'd be interested in your opinion on something linked to from Pharyngula suggesting that Paul of the Epistles was a more-or-less complete invention by the second-century "heretic", Marcion of Sinope - I can't find it just now, but here's a page claiming the same and tracing it to the German writer Detering. It pointed out the Paul of the epistels behaves very differently from Paul of the Acts - the latter being a "team player", the former confident in his ability and right to decide everything for everybody.

#302

Posted by: nigelTheBold, Minister of Spankings Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 1:05 PM

callout2Him:

If given an unlimited amount of time, support and resources, could man advance to the point of complete understanding and total control of physics and nature?

What makes you think the laws of nature can be controlled? They can be used, certainly, but not controlled.

And no, I don't think we'll ever avance to a point of complete understanding. Too many people prefer to think irrationally rather than rationally, and get upset when we actually try to teach our kids how the universe really works, or to think critically for themselves. Like crabs in a boiling pot, they continually pull down those who are trying to escape doom.

#303

Posted by: heddle Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 1:05 PM

CJO,

The thing is, there are plenty of similar expressions of Jewish piety in the early Rabbinic texts, and clearly the proponents of those formulations didn't consider them to be freeing from the law or requiring a savior. Expressions like the sermon on the mount were elucidations of the law, more in the line of epitome rather than "a newer, fuller revelation".

That is in line with the common Reformed view--with which I happen to disagree. The ten commandments stated: Don't kill. The Jews interpreted it as Don't kill, or at least Don't murder. Seems pretty reasonable and not requiring Jesus to come and clarify. Jesus quoted this commandment and then upgraded it to: Don't even be angry with your brother. In the first case (The ten commandments) we have a restriction on an overt act with no regard to your disposition. You can hate your brother, but you can't kill him. In the second case the restriction is not on what you do, but what you think. I don't know how that can be viewed as an elucidation. It looks like a replacement to me.

Further, we're dealing with 1st Century issues surrounding community crises of identity and access to redemptive media in the wake of the destruction of the temple.

That is presupposing that you can demonstrate that the gospels and Pauline corpus were written after AD 70. You can't. The best you can do is play dueling experts.

#304

Posted by: Tulse Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 1:09 PM

a parent can do more to a child than a random adult can. So even among humans--even horizontally--we cannot all do the "same things" to one another. There are different rules for spouses, children, siblings, parents, strangers.
There aren't different "rules", there are different responsibilities or duties of care. That is why, for example, children can be taken away from their parents when those parents fail to care for them properly. It's not a matter of what parents are allowed to do, but a matter of what they are responsible for.

And that is precisely the notion that I see missing in your discussion of the Calvinist's god relationship to humans -- that god seems to have absolutely no responsibility to treat people in any sort of moral way.

#305

Posted by: kiki Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 1:09 PM

And you know this, how?

The first time heddle typed this, irony started to feel a little ill. The second time he typed it, irony vomited its own intestines onto the floor and died in a steaming pool of half-processed effluent.

Heddle, you might have noticed that I asked you pretty much this same question, but with more swearing, upthread, and it applies to just about any statement you've made here. And remember, 'Because I read it in this book', or by extension 'Because lots of other people who've read the same book also make the same assertion', are not acceptable answers.

#306

Posted by: coughlanbrianm Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 1:11 PM

But I guess those who support evil tyrants and are rewarded in return are rarely concerned with the human ethics involved.

This is the very thing I cannot fathom. If he is guaranteed his salvation, I mean certain of it, surely the least he could do is put in a good word? It's not like he'd be putting his own salvation at risk. Abraham had a go vis a vis Sodom and Gomorrah (not that it did much good) but at least he tried.

Heddle can't renounce his God - even though He so clearly deserves it - because to do so could be an indication that he perhaps isn't saved after all.

I'm guessing this flavour of godbothering instinctively see's doing the right thing (according to God, not trivial human standards) as the fruits of salvation; that is, you do good works not in order to gain redemption, but because you've been selected. Thus the works are a result a cause.

Heddle, I dare you put your theology where your mouth is and take your heart in your throat; blaspheme your God publically, here on this thread, if your theory is right it shouldn't make a blind bit of difference, right?

I fucking double dare you.

#307

Posted by: coughlanbrianm Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 1:15 PM

ack .. should read

Thus the works are a result NOT a cause

#308

Posted by: Brownian, Most Vicious & Petty of Pharyngulites Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 1:15 PM

And that is precisely the notion that I see missing in your discussion of the Calvinist's god relationship to humans -- that god seems to have absolutely no responsibility to treat people in any sort of moral way.

Yes, Tulse, but so what? Are you just going to ignore the Hawkings-Penrose "It's the Potter's Pot" conjecture?

#309

Posted by: Brownian, Most Vicious & Petty of Pharyngulites Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 1:19 PM

Oops. I do hope appending an 'S' to Dr. Hawking's name is simply a venial sin.

#310

Posted by: nigelTheBold, Minister of Spankings Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 1:20 PM

heddle:

That is presupposing that you can demonstrate that the gospels and Pauline corpus were written after AD 70. You can't. The best you can do is play dueling experts.

I have had a revelation that, in fact, the gospels were written no earlier that July 7th, 69. It was on that date the Enoch the Eunuch began his fantasy series, "The Lives of The Savior." While written in under two months while residing at a brothel in Bethlehem, it was the best-selling urban fantasy of the time.

This did not constitute the actual gospels. Those were actually poor knock-offs written by the roman Dannus Brownus, who embellished Enoch's tales quite a bit. His style of writing the same story from different points of view, however, was relatively novel, and copied many years later for a Star Trek: The Next Generation episode.

It has further been revealed to me that Dannus Brownus was not as fluent in Aramaic as he had thought, and several accidentally-bawdy tales concerning Judas and Jesus had to be excised before publication. The only bit left is their kissing.

As this is revelation, there is no need to question me. I know it is true.

#311

Posted by: mikerattlesnake Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 1:25 PM

"It's presuppositionalism, I don't gotta justify sh*t."

"I made you; what the f*ck are you going to do about it?"


I keep looking for the footnotes...

#312

Posted by: heddle Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 1:26 PM

coughlanbrianm

Heddle, I dare you put your theology where your mouth is and take your heart in your throat; blaspheme your God publically, here on this thread, if your theory is right it shouldn't make a blind bit of difference, right? I fucking double dare you.

No. Why? Because I don't want to. Calvinism carries with it a libertine view of the free will--and my free will is choosing not to curse god.

It's true it wouldn't make a difference in terms of my salvation--there is no unpardonable sin other than the generic sin of disbelief. But I don't want to. I freely choose not to.

You, on the other hand, have no free will. Just living out the universe's Diffy-Q. So whatever you do--curse god, run through the strees naked, commit murder, type another response--it's just an endless chain of chemical causes and effects that was programmed into the initial conditions of the universe modulo, at most, some quantum randomness.

By the way-- Brownian and Ing have been posting below my firing response threshold. (It's always a shame with Brownian--we used to have some interesting dialog.) But my response function rises again at the low end--that is where your last post comes in. It is beyond stupid and hence ineresting again. I mean really: I double dare you! Are we in third grade?

#313

Posted by: coughlanbrianm Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 1:29 PM

As this is revelation, there is no need to question me. I know it is true.

Works for me. Pity about the X-Rated J on J action though, maybe someone could do some slashfiction on the subject? It'd be as likely to be true as the gospels we've got.

#314

Posted by: CJO Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 1:30 PM

That is presupposing that you can demonstrate that the gospels and Pauline corpus were written after AD 70. You can't. The best you can do is play dueling experts.

Well, if you want to say that Matthew was written pre-70, we could have a duel, sure, but by analogy I'd have a grenade launcher and you'd have a wet, apologetic noodle. Regarding Paul, the consensus is ~50s CE, so I could have amended the statement somewhat (if I wanted to be rigorous about it). There were significant issues with interpreting scripture in the light of Jewish identity and practice in Hellenistic settings before the destruction of the temple, as we know from Philo no less than Paul.

#315

Posted by: Ing: PhD Trollologist Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 1:31 PM

@heddle

Ok take away the consistent part cause anyone who believes in predestination and freewill is a fucking moron.

#316

Posted by: azumahazuki Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 1:31 PM

Heddle:

Still no answer to the deeper philosophical problems I see :D You've retreated behind a smokescreen of obscure biblical trivia. Zilche tried that too. You're pathetic.

Repeat after me: If the premises are false, no amount of material about them will make them true.

#317

Posted by: Brownian, Most Vicious & Petty of Pharyngulites Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 1:33 PM

As this is revelation, there is no need to question me. I know it is true.

See Nigel, this is where you tipped your hand. A True Believer™ loves nothing more than to describe, in excruciating detail, every aspect of the revelation. Of course, where the details run out, supply your own thoughts. (This is the theology part.) Say something like, "What Enoch the Eunuch was really intending to convey with the metaphors involving Jesus riding an ass was..." and it sets you apart as a Deep Thinker™.

#318

Posted by: nigelTheBold, Minister of Spankings Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 1:34 PM

coughlanbrianm:

Works for me. Pity about the X-Rated J on J action though, maybe someone could do some slashfiction on the subject? It'd be as likely to be true as the gospels we've got.

You mean, like this? (Warning: links to an offensive story written by some git named nigelTheBold.)

#319

Posted by: mikerattlesnake Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 1:36 PM

@heddle

No matter how few nasty words you use, your arguments are crap. Try ignoring tone and focussing on substance. The reason we talk down to you is that you think like a child (in regards to religion). You will get respect when you earn it.

Also note that the determinist says he has free will, but the people who don't believe that their lives and destinies are controlled by an all-powerful sky father don't. That's just silly. The brain is complex, and the more we learn about it, the more interesting things we discover. It's complex enough that if we don't have free will proper, we at least have an astoundingly convincing facsimile thereof.

Our actions are, generally, reflexes born out of our intuitive knowledge. The interesting thing is that we are also able to reflect on our actions and change our intuitive response through introspection. If that's all an automated process, then so be it, but it's a pretty minor detail, really.

#320

Posted by: coughlanbrianm Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 1:36 PM

But I don't want to. I freely choose not to.

I don't buy that. I genuinely think it's because you're scared to do it. Prove me wrong. At the very least you'll have put me in my place, and at absolutely no risk to yourself. If you're right that is.

I now invoke the unprecedented quadruple dare with cherries on top.

#321

Posted by: Ing: PhD Trollologist Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 1:36 PM

What's amazing is that heddle admits his stance is irrational, yet he takls about it because he's a dick who likes to torment the unsaved (cause he is special), and he believes it because, basically, he wants to. He WANTS to believe that most people will be tortured forever but he is a special snow flake that will be saved no matter what he does. No matter how useless or wasted his life is, no matter how bad he fucks up he's saved. And no matter how much better anyone else is than him, they go to hell. A theology of inferiority/superiority complex. He has a good life and chooses to devote his time to intellectually jacking off at others misfortune. And his greatest aspiration is to blindly follow the orders of a being he admits is arbitrary and unkind. He has no greater sense of empathy, no desire of real free will, no desire of reason. I assert to you, my friends, that by any and all definitions of the world Heddle has NO soul.

#322

Posted by: nigelTheBold, Minister of Spankings Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 1:40 PM

coughlanbrianm:

I now invoke the unprecedented quadruple dare with cherries on top.

*Gasp!*

He passed right by "double-dog dare." He's serious!

#323

Posted by: Ing: PhD Trollologist Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 1:42 PM

@Couglhlanbrainm

He wont' of course. Because it's nto in his nature to do so. Someone who loves their child cannot randomly decide to kill them. Someone who hates corn cannot decide to like it. And someone who is afraid of a cosmic boogie man cannot decide to be unafraid. While asserting his own free will, so he thinks, he is demonstrating the very limits of human will. His own mind is a prison yet he asserts he is completely free.

Of course will and behavior is dependent on causality, the opposite is randomness.

#324

Posted by: coughlanbrianm Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 1:45 PM

He passed right by "double-dog dare." He's serious!

Yep. First I thought "triple dare?" and then I said to myself "Fuck it, go crazy" and it came to me : "quadruple dare with the mother loving cherries". I'm pretty certain it's never been done before.

#325

Posted by: nigelTheBold, Minister of Spankings Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 1:45 PM

I wonder if Calvinism isn't a psychological coping mechanism. I mean, if you assumed you chose to believe in an evil tyrant of a god, you'd have to question your own humanity. But if you assumed you were chosen to believe in that god, it's not really your fault.

I figure this is brought up only about as much as "if evolution is true, why are there still apes?"

#326

Posted by: Ing: PhD Trollologist Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 1:46 PM

Heddle is in an interesting position. If he doesn't blaspheme he is fulfilling his nature...but demonstrating how his behavior is dependent upon his own mind and inherent state. If he forces himself to blaspheme he will be going against his nature, proving free will but violating his beliefs and in some states of Calvinist thought may be risking having his elected status revoked.

Of course he could attempt to blaspheme without blaspheming, ensuring god he doesn't mean it but it's just to prove free will to the infidels...but he would be lying and that lie he SHOULD recognize as evidence of his inability to truly act unbound from causality and experience.

#327

Posted by: heddle Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 1:47 PM

CJO,

Well, if you want to say that Matthew was written pre-70, we could have a duel, sure, but by analogy I'd have a grenade launcher and you'd have a wet, apologetic noodle.

That's not an argument: if we did argue I'd win!!! The answer is still no, you cannot demonstrate that Matthew was written after AD 70. Even the date of Revelation, for years placed in the AD 90 time frame, has come under question in light of new scholarship. Some scholar now argue for a ~AD67 date.

Since there are no extant original autographs, and no definitive anachronisms, the arguments boil down to stylistic arguments--which are not conclusive. (Except for Revelation--there the arguments centers on the meaning of some external evidence.)

There were significant issues with interpreting scripture in the light of Jewish identity and practice in Hellenistic settings before the destruction of the temple

So you moved your argument from after the destruction to before. Fine. You still have not demonstrated that Jesus' Sermon on the Mount was an elucidation of the law rather than a replacement. Now I know many smart people who can argue just that--and they do a whole lot better that stating "There were significant issues with interpreting scripture in the light of Jewish identity and practice in Hellenistic settings..."


azumahazuki,

One explanation that I don't reply to your posts is that they are so powerful, so visionary, so insightful, so slam-dunk as to make my head explode.

Another is that they are nonsense and given that I can't reply to everyone, they don't make the cut.

#328

Posted by: Ing: PhD Trollologist Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 1:49 PM

Another is that they are nonsense and given that I can't reply to everyone, they don't make the cut.

The third option is that you're an arrogant prick who due to that characteristic will not respond to certain people he views as unworthy because he is not free to do so.

#329

Posted by: coughlanbrianm Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 1:51 PM

@Nigel. You are a bold boy.

However, I was rather hoping for something ... you know ... more earthy; more action oriented if you get my meaning.

Got any of that?

#330

Posted by: Tulse Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 1:54 PM

I freely choose not to. You, on the other hand, have no free will.
Correction: You believe you have free choice.
#331

Posted by: MrFire Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 1:57 PM

heddle: can you be a Calvinist in your heart, but an atheist in all your outward behavior, given the irrelevance of said behavior toward the fate of your soul? If so, why not join us for a laugh?

#332

Posted by: heddle Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 2:01 PM

oughlanbrianm,

I don't buy that. I genuinely think it's because you're scared to do it.

Well, oh, gee, I'll show you!

Give me a break. I don't want to. And I never do what I don't want to do--to do so would in fact be impossible. So all things being equal my desire not to curse god is far (far) stronger than my inclination to accept your double dare. So I choose, as always, according to my strongest inclination--which is not to curse god.

mikerattlesnake,

If that's all an automated process, then so be it, but it's a pretty minor detail, really.

No it isn't a minor detail--it's everything. It's why Provine states that free will is an illusion.

The reason we talk down to you is that you think like a child (in regards to religion). You will get respect when you earn it.

Actually I thought I was talking down to you. (Not all of you.)

#333

Posted by: coughlanbrianm Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 2:02 PM

Damn! I wish there was some way to chant

Blaspheme! Blaspheme! Blaspheme!

at Heddle across the internet. I think he's right on the brink.

#334

Posted by: Jadehawk, cascadeuse féministe Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 2:03 PM

But I don't want to. I freely choose not to.

You, on the other hand, have no free will.

this is epically stupid, regardless of which interpretation I take on this. Apparently, either we're NPC's in his little adventure game, or he's making an argument from consequences based on what each of us supposedly believes(and one that doesn't even make sense, seeing as he's the presuppositionist and the consequences of a free will world with eternal consequences that was made that way on purpose are worse than that of a non-theist, deterministic world)
#335

Posted by: nigelTheBold, Minister of Spankings Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 2:04 PM

coughlanbrianm:

@Nigel. You are a bold boy.

Yeah. I figured the meek may inherit the earth, so I'm gonna get as much out of it as I can before it goes to them.
However, I was rather hoping for something ... you know ... more earthy; more action oriented if you get my meaning.

Got any of that?

Is that a request? I'm not prideful; I take requests. I do have to work a bit before I'll have time, but I can certainly give it a shot later.

Since God doesn't like me anyway, I figure I might as well go whole-hog. In for a penny, in for an eternally-damned soul, as they say.

#336

Posted by: heddle Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 2:07 PM

Tulse,

Correction: You believe you have free choice.

Well yes, possibly--If I am wrong and there is no god, and you are right and naturalism is all there is, then indeed I only believe I have the facility for free choice. Free choice/free moral agency is either an illusion, albeit a very good one, or supernatural.

#337

Posted by: coughlanbrianm Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 2:08 PM

Give me a break. I don't want to.

In the words of the irrepressible Mrs. Doyle :

"ah, yah will, yah will, yah will .... "

#338

Posted by: Jadehawk, cascadeuse féministe Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 2:08 PM

And I never do what I don't want to do--to do so would in fact be impossible.
wut
#339

Posted by: nigelTheBold, Minister of Spankings Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 2:14 PM

heddle:

Free choice/free moral agency is either an illusion, albeit a very good one, or supernatural.

Serious question: how does "supernatural" give us free choice?

#340

Posted by: MrFire Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 2:14 PM

I don't want to.

With all due respect, heddle, in the context of what we are discussing, this get-out sounds eerily similar to "I do not wish it, because The Party does not wish it."

#341

Posted by: coughlanbrianm Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 2:17 PM

@Nigel.

Nah! Don't go to any trouble on my account. I'll say all kinds of crazy stuff when I get bored.

@Heddle you've disappointed me. You obviously lack the courage of your convictions and no amount of bluster can cover that up. I had hoped for so much more.

I'll grant you've got a novel and convoluted religious viewpoint, but it's an intellectual edifice only; you clearly don't really believe it. Actions as they say, speak louder than words; Bolded, underlined or italicised.

#342

Posted by: Tulse Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 2:21 PM

Free choice/free moral agency is either an illusion, albeit a very good one, or supernatural.
OK, so this implies that one could empirically disprove your theological position, by demonstrating that human behaviour is completely accounted for by material processes. Is that correct? In other words, could neuroscience prove Calvinism wrong?
#343

Posted by: heddle Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 2:25 PM

Mrfire,

With all due respect, heddle, in the context of what we are discussing, this get-out sounds eerily similar to "I do not wish it, because The Party does not wish it."

Why? Is it your habit to do something you find repulsive just to show you can do it? Assuming you have a normal relationship with your parents, would you insult your mother in the crudest possible terms because some juvenile double dared you? And you would find this action laudable? And you find the whole concept "do it because I double dare you" intellectually substantive?

Well, different strokes.

Well, I'm out of here for a while. I am on the search committee for two math faculty positions (Applied Math, actually) and we have some work to do.

#344

Posted by: strange gods before me ॐ homintern radfem Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 2:31 PM

The heddle is immune.

He's not going to blaspheme his imaginary friend and there's no reason why he should. He doesn't have to prove he's not afraid.

He enjoys being a Christian. He enjoys making up a conversation in his head and playing interpretive games with a wealth of tradition that he feels fortunate to have received.

His friend doesn't have to really exist for this to be useful. He has a place in his head where no one else can tell him who to be or what to do.

For some people, the imagination is strong enough that they can be aware it's fantasy yet it's still fulfilling. For heddle, for some reason, the awareness ruins the mood he's going for.

I wouldn't mind knowing that reason, but I suspect heddle himself isn't altogether sure.

#345

Posted by: coughlanbrianm Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 2:32 PM

would you insult your mother in the crudest possible terms because some juvenile double dared you?

You're worried about widdle Gods feelings? Seriously? The same God that has condemned untold billions to eternal torment just ... well, just because? That God?

I think He can take it, and if He can, so can you. Why would you deny this - admittedly convoluted - opportunity to glorify God? This kind of perverse and twisted reasoning should be meat and drink to you!

#346

Posted by: Erulóra (formerly KOPD) Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 2:37 PM

And I never do what I don't want to do--to do so would in fact be impossible.
Would that this were true. I've done lots of things I didn't want to, and I know there are many more who have been through much worse than I have.
#347

Posted by: nigelTheBold, Minister of Spankings Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 2:37 PM

heddle:

And you find the whole concept "do it because I double dare you" intellectually substantive?

Actually, that is far more intellectually-substantive than the reasoning you use to justify your belief in a god.

And, if I recall, he quadruple dared you. That is a serious matter, with or without cherries.

#348

Posted by: strange gods before me ॐ homintern radfem Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 2:42 PM

OTOH

And, if I recall, he quadruple dared you. That is a serious matter, with or without cherries.

QFT

#349

Posted by: Tulse Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 2:43 PM

(If PZ were paid by the number of comments, I think heddle would deserve a cut...)

#350

Posted by: CJO Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 2:46 PM

That's not an argument: if we did argue I'd win!!! The answer is still no, you cannot demonstrate that Matthew was written after AD 70.

The terms were "playing duelling experts". The vast majority of critical scholars of the NT literature place the composition of Matthew post-70. That's just a fact. I didn't say I could demonstrate the truth of this consensus, I was simply stating that if quantity and quality of expert opinion were to be our duelling weapons then I would have an advantage.

So you moved your argument from after the destruction to before. Fine. You still have not demonstrated that Jesus' Sermon on the Mount was an elucidation of the law rather than a replacement. Now I know many smart people who can argue just that--and they do a whole lot better that stating "There were significant issues with interpreting scripture in the light of Jewish identity and practice in Hellenistic settings..."

I didn't really move the argument so much as broaden it. The destruction of the temple was a crisis point in an already fraught climate, with various intellectual Jews in varying diaspora settings reinterpreting and epitomizing the scriptures along various axes of accomodation and antagonism to the Hellenistic culture. The point isn't to demonstrate that Pauline or Matthean theology are definitively one thing and not another, only that they are of a piece with a clear trend in Jewish thought of the era, and that a modern, harmonized, Christian exceptionalist shoehorning of them into the role of replacement for the law and justification for Calvinist soteriology anachronistically ignores all of that cultural context. Anyway, if there are so many people smarter than me you could be arguing this with, why aren't you? Just felt like some light warmups today?

#351

Posted by: mikerattlesnake Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 2:47 PM

@343

Yeah, but my mother exists.

"If that's all an automated process, then so be it, but it's a pretty minor detail, really."

"No it isn't a minor detail--it's everything. It's why Provine states that free will is an illusion."

But you just said yourself that it's impossible to tell the difference between the two options. If it's impossible to tell the difference, then discussing it beyond the evidence is pretty meaningless.

#352

Posted by: azumahazuki Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 2:49 PM

Heddle:

You don't answer because you CAN'T. Are you the one I ran into on Ars Technica who refused to answer any of them and instead said "they're childish?"

I have news for you heddle: if you can't answer a question, and it's childish, that means any child can point out the problems with your worldview.

You do yourself a disservice by calling arguments like mine childish.

Also, isn't there a passage in Acts somewhere about the foolish things of the world confounding the wise? :)

#353

Posted by: Sastra Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 2:59 PM

azumahazuki #285 wrote:

I spent some time in Undernet #apologetics and learned the basics of how presuppers act from a guy nicknamed Zilche, who is similar to Heddle but somewhat frothier.

Hey, I used to go there too, though I don't remember Zilche specifically. Long time ago.

I remember I came up with a term back then for the Calvinist version of God: "the God of Gravity." Not a very good term, because it's not very clear.

What I was getting at was the strange ability of the presuppers to consider and judge God's moral actions with the dispassionate stance one uses for a non-moral process such as gravity. When a sweet child falls off a cliff because they got too close to the edge -- and a murderer does not because he stood back -- we do not consider Gravity to be morally culpable. It's not the sort of thing to which one relates that way, like a person. It's inanimate, indifferent: its results are not selected for in order to please anyone or fulfill any obligation, to itself or others. Gravity is what it is and that is that.

Atheists relate to gravity and to the universe as a whole this way. Reality is not a moral hierarchy where we are "subject" to gravity the way we are "subject" to a lofty king or superior parent. The universe is not fair. Theists, on the other hand, place God at the very foundation of the universe in order to take away the mindless, arbitrary nature of the cause and effect of Nature. At its core, the universe is fair. God secures this.

And then the Calvinists put the arbitrary nature back into God. Suddenly, it seems God can no more be blamed for what it does than gravity can be blamed for what it does. Concepts like fair and unfair, good and evil, don't apply to God, any more than they apply to gravity. God is a God of Gravity. You do not, can not, judge it by human standards.

But you can't worship a "God of Gravity." You don't stand in a moral relationship to it, there are no rights and duties, there are no gifts granted and benefits thankfully acknowledged. You do not make covenants with the God of Gravity. It does not dispense justice or mercy.

I mean, of course, that it makes no sense to worship the God of Gravity, or use this loaded language. And yet they do. It's back-and-forth: in order to place God so far above us that none of our ordinary standards apply to it, they claim it is a God of Gravity. Ok. We atheists can understand that: Calvinists view their relationship with God the way atheists view their relationship to the universe. Or gravity. Cause and effect.

But in that case, throw out the worship, the homage, the service to the master. Those attitudes and analogies don't apply any more. God can't be a person. The minute it has personal attributes we relate to it's subject to our moral judgments. A right is the flip side of a duty. Even kings and parents have obligations to those they are "superior" to.

Unlike gravity. And unlike a potter, who does not make covenants with his pots. When we are people, then God is impersonal cause and effect. And then, when God is a person, we are suddenly impersonal artifacts. Back and forth. All to say that we are accountable to God, but God is not accountable to us.

#354

Posted by: azumahazuki Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 3:04 PM

Veeeeery interesting! The analogy never quite took hold with me though I did recognize the starting bits of it. I stopped partway with "Gravity isn't an asshole though."

#355

Posted by: nigelTheBold, Minister of Spankings Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 3:12 PM

azumahazuki,

Veeeeery interesting! The analogy never quite took hold with me though I did recognize the starting bits of it. I stopped partway with "Gravity isn't an asshole though."

Exactly. Gravity is not an intentional agent. It does not have will, nor does it play favorites.

And at that point, we can judge God. If it does things I would find abhorrent in a human, there's no reason I should excuse it just because it is God.

#356

Posted by: Sastra Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 3:12 PM

heddle #336 wrote:

Well yes, possibly--If I am wrong and there is no god, and you are right and naturalism is all there is, then indeed I only believe I have the facility for free choice. Free choice/free moral agency is either an illusion, albeit a very good one, or supernatural.

Have you ever read Daniel Dennett's Freedom Evolves? It's an evolution-based defense of compatibilism, and very good. I think you'd enjoy it -- and possibly find some of its ideas familiar. You probably already hold to a compatibilist position on free will in order to explain how God can both set and know the future, and yet humans have free will.

I hope my post at #263 clarified my earlier question a bit. I see now that you've gone, but maybe you'll be back. I'm still curious.

#357

Posted by: Tulse Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 3:16 PM

But you can't worship a "God of Gravity." You don't stand in a moral relationship to it, there are no rights and duties, there are no gifts granted and benefits thankfully acknowledged. You do not make covenants with the God of Gravity.
To be fair, Calvinists don't make covenants with their god, either, as there would literally be no point -- their final destiny is already determined, and there is not a thing they can do to change that. And there are no "rights" or "duties" either, at least as I understand it. Calvinists worship their god allegedly because they want to (and are infused with the Holy Spirit or somesuch), but they also believe that worship makes not a particle of difference to their final fate. They aren't as intellectually inconsistent as you seem to suggest.

So yeah, they treat their god very much like gravity.

#358

Posted by: azumahazuki Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 3:22 PM

@356

I smell a false dichotomy in Heddle's insistence that free will is either the result of supernatural forces or else illusory. Dennet writes good stuff and I will read that book.

But you know, it's critically important for Heddle to have that insistence on free will because it ties into "total depravity" (the T in TULIP). The party line is that God values free will so highly that he doesn't mind sending souls to hell (...which...he made...?) because he created them with the potential to sin.

Apparently free will is so important that God CANNOT create a free-willed being that will not be depraved and STILL doesn't mind.

(So can you sin in heaven? Do you have free will there? If not why not just take everyone to heaven and remove free will? If so, how is heaven perfect? If you can sin but never want to, why not make us like that NOW? Omnipotence can do that.)

WHAT is so allfired important about freewill? The Calvinists never answer this one somehow...

#359

Posted by: Janine, The Little Top Of Venom, OM Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 3:23 PM

Must not be much going on if all of the cool kids are playing Stomp The Troll with heddle.

#360

Posted by: nigelTheBold, Minister of Spankings Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 3:23 PM

Tulse,

Calvinists worship their god allegedly because they want to (and are infused with the Holy Spirit or somesuch), but they also believe that worship makes not a particle of difference to their final fate. They aren't as intellectually inconsistent as you seem to suggest.

I wonder if there are any Calvinists who believe they are not one of God's chosen.

#361

Posted by: Owlmirror Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 3:25 PM

heddle @#225:

I suppose the quality of the metaphor is in the eye of the beholder. But I don't get your criticism that it is a dishonest metaphor because it uses images that are literally false.

No?

If someone you (presumably) trust says "Your house burned down to the ground", and you find out that that statement was completely false, would the excuse of "I meant that metaphorically" seem honest to you, after you spent however much time in heart-pounding fear and distress because you thought it was true, before finding out that it wasn't?

I would have no trouble today using the earth as a metaphor for something solid and immovable.

To be honest, I could sort-of see that being made as an argument -- which is why I specified the global flood rather than the (putative) fixed Earth.

I repeat, what is the global flood a metaphor for or of?

#362

Posted by: Brownian, Most Vicious & Petty of Pharyngulites Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 3:30 PM

It's always a shame with Brownian--we used to have some interesting dialog.

Did we?

Apologists are like selfish boyfriends/girlfriends—it's only a nice date for them if you go where they want to go.

As soon as you stop dancing to their tune, they start looking at their watches and muttering about early morning meetings.

But you and I are cut from a cloth Heddle: we only waste time in the ways that we wish to waste time. You prefer apologetics to blasphemy; I prefer satire and parody to indulging self-deception.

#363

Posted by: azumahazuki Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 3:33 PM

@360

Probably; just visit a mental hospital. I have heard that there are a disturbing number of people in those with religious disturbances, such as debilitating fear of hellfire.

#364

Posted by: Tulse Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 3:36 PM

I wonder if there are any Calvinists who believe they are not one of God's chosen.
Perhaps not, but that really isn't germane to the theological issues.
#365

Posted by: KG Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 3:46 PM

I didn't notice at the time how heddle shifted ground regarding the potter and the pot. Supposedly, the point of the analogy is that if X makes Y, X can do what it wants with Y. When it was pointed out that this is not generally true (a parent cannot do what they want with their child), heddle shifted to the "vertical disparity between god and man" as a justification for the imagined actions of his imaginary psychopathic sadist sky-fairy.

Free choice/free moral agency is either an illusion, albeit a very good one, or supernatural.

Nonsense. If the material world is unable to support free choice (it isn't - see Dennett's Freedom Evolves), how could a sprinkling of magical woo-woo help? I notice you don't even try to justify the claim.

#366

Posted by: swedishskinjer Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 3:47 PM

I'm actually rather interested in metaphorical interpretations of the Bible. I'm not sure where I read this, but to describe something like God, is metaphor necessarily unreasonable? You simply understand God in other terms; you have to sometimes use the fantastical metaphorically to fully convey what He supposedly inspires in his faithful.

For example, the flood could simply represent God's wrath, his grace and ultimately his forgiveness in terms that fully convey how disproportionate those attributes are to the mortal equivalent.

Within circles of theological scholars, Biblical literalism is a serious matter of contention, but what's mostly agreed on is that it in no way invalidates God or the Bible because, for the faithful, He is only literally true for them when they accept Him on His terms and they can them understand what the metaphors were trying to convey.

Just a little Devil's Advocate...

#367

Posted by: Owlmirror Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 3:53 PM

I wonder if there are any Calvinists who believe they are not one of God's chosen.

Sastra wrote at one time that she did know such a Calvinist.

I know a Calvinist who believes he is one of the damned -- because he thinks God is monstrous. He doesn't reject Calvinism, just God: therefore, he accepts that he's not regenerated. I think that a hellish position, though there's an odd sort of integrity to it.

I found this fascinating. Sastra -- does he still think this way?

#368

Posted by: Dhorvath, OM Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 3:54 PM

Swedishskinjer,
Really? Sounds more like deities apologist.

How forgiving was the flood? Where was there grace in that tale? Comes across to me like a temper tantrum. Maybe you would like to clarify?

#369

Posted by: Brownian, Most Vicious & Petty of Pharyngulites Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 3:55 PM

For example, the flood could simply represent God's wrath, his grace and ultimately his forgiveness in terms that fully convey how disproportionate those attributes are to the mortal equivalent.

Explain 'grace' and 'forgiveness' as they're used in this sentence.

#370

Posted by: nigelTheBold, Minister of Spankings Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 3:57 PM

Tulse,

Perhaps not, but that really isn't germane to the theological issues.

Oh, but of course. I never meant to imply it did.

I was just struck by the thought of all those folks who believe in reincarnation, who are invariably reincarnations of George Washington or Helen of Troy or Cesar Romero. It just got me thinking about the likelihood of anyone believing in a Calvinist god, but believing they were not chosen.

Personally, I consider pretty much any "theological issue" on the level of an earnest discussion concerning the probable outcome of a battle between Mace Windu and Captain Kirk. (Probable outcome: Mal Reynolds would win, of course.)

#371

Posted by: Tulse Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 4:00 PM

Explain 'grace' and 'forgiveness' as they're used in this sentence.
They're a metaphor for "flooding the earth and wiping out almost all life".

(What -- can't metaphors be run backwards in that way?)

#372

Posted by: coughlanbrianm Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 4:01 PM

For example, the flood could simply represent God's wrath, his grace and ultimately his forgiveness in terms that fully convey how disproportionate those attributes are to the mortal equivalent.

Yes it could; anything, as they say, is possible. Where that all breaks down for me is the broad range of attitudes that the Bible is used to support; slavery vs freedom, faith vs works, one God vs Three etc. If it was a genuinely inspired document surely there would be universal agreement on it's inspiring and uplifting message? Oh people might fail to live up to it's teaching, sure, but they'd at least agree on what the teaching is!

That the Bible (barring some exceptions) reads like the inarticulate maunderings of a primitive tribal community still within spitting distance of the stone age has a very simple explanation: It's because that is all that it is.

#373

Posted by: Vicki, Chief Assistant to the Assistant Chief Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 4:03 PM

There may not be Calvinists now who believe that they are damned, but I gather (this isn't my area, and my history degree is pretty dusty anyhow) that a lot of 17th-19th century Americans either believed that, or feared it and thought it was likely.

As we've discussed before, raising children to believe that they are almost certainly condemned to eternal torture is child abuse, because many of them will believe you.

#374

Posted by: Kel, The Privileged View From Nowhere Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 4:05 PM

Free choice/free moral agency is either an illusion, albeit a very good one, or supernatural.
Depends what you mean by free, and by illusion. Are you somehow suggesting an epiphenomenalist account of consciousness, or that the only free will is a libertarian free will? I'm not sure how you can separate yourself from your choices.
#375

Posted by: CJO Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 4:05 PM

KG:

I'd be interested in your opinion on something linked to from Pharyngula suggesting that Paul of the Epistles was a more-or-less complete invention by the second-century "heretic", Marcion of Sinope - I can't find it just now, but here's a page claiming the same and tracing it to the German writer Detering. It pointed out the Paul of the epistels behaves very differently from Paul of the Acts - the latter being a "team player", the former confident in his ability and right to decide everything for everybody.

Marcion is on my list, but I'm afraid I haven't read all that much. From what I understand, there's a good case to be made based on ancient quotations from Marcion's "Pauline canon" (no manuscripts survive) that the later "Catholic" version of the major Pauline epistles (what's in the bible) is a heavily redacted and interpolated version of what could be presumed to be a common source.

As regards the figure of Paul in Acts, that book is a highly tendentious retelling of Christian origins, at pains everywhere to stress the unity and linear development of the early church. Evidence external to it however, including the controversies Paul addresses in the letters, paint a considerably more diverse and devisive early climate. It seems unlikely, given the many significant discrepancies between the portraits of Paul in Acts and in the Pauline corpus, that the author of Luke-Acts had access to the letters of Paul or, really, any solid historical information at all about his temperament and activities. That could have a number of implications if true: no such person as Paul ever existed, the letters in their earliest form were Marcionite fabrications or redactions (of some other literature not then attributed to Paul) and so there would have been no such canon for the author of Luke-Acts to be aware of in the early 2nd century (Marcion's Pauline collection is attested c. 140s); Paul existed and indeed wrote letters, but they weren't significant for very many Christians until Marcion compiled them and then proto-orthodox Catholic redactors altered the collection significantly; or, simply that the author of Luke-Acts just wasn't interested in forming an accurate picture of the Pauline mission by modern critical standards of historiography, and so saw no value in consulting the epistles that were floating around, in whatever form they existed at that time.

#376

Posted by: Owlmirror Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 4:10 PM

For example, the flood could simply represent God's wrath, his grace and ultimately his forgiveness in terms that fully convey how disproportionate those attributes are to the mortal equivalent.

So... God's wrath is insanely disproportionate and world-killing; his grace is barely minimal (two/seven of every animal out of however large the population might have been, eight humans out of however many humans); his forgiveness is grudging?

#377

Posted by: https://me.yahoo.com/a/O.jullMj0I2VvJaxMMVeNKSfOPf73voLSxJAe9PdlOWwi8Y-#258ec Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 4:18 PM

here according to he.
The supernatural event is regeneration (being born again.) It is not "being suddenly equipped with a working knowledge of the bible and the teachings of Jesus Christ." Missionaries could very well have encountered those who were already regenerated--personally I would view it as a certainty. Such people would have no knowledge of Jesus. They then, assuming they were competent missionaries, provided the framework in which the already regenerated person could come to understand what had transpired.
-------------------
this I think is the primary the first big error that is made by all godbots.
it is the interpretation of what i suspect is a normal but possibly uncommon natural phenomena. it is not analyzed or examined rationally it is interpreted as "a supernatural event" of divine origin with deep implications. "God has spoken to me, now I believe!"
If we take it as true that some experience has occurred why should we take the word of who experienced it or some superstitious priest as to what it means or even what has occurred?
he brain is not the simple receiver of true images of the world alone. it seems to be heavily involved in understanding in two ways a "rational mind " and a "emotional mind" in the two halves of the brain.
the various practices of yoga and meditation and other practices like Sufi practice are all in the end designed to break that boundary in our awareness and combine into an awareness of "god".
if you look at some of the descriptions of that experience you see similarities some even sound similar with the effects of some drugs and mental illness.
here is a link to very interesting talk from the TED conferences that illustrates the point

http://www.ted.com/talks/jill_bolte_taylor_s_powerful_stroke_of_insight.html

so without any knowledge of what they experience they, I think out of fear, decide that it is from god and they are now blessed and born again so god is real and so forth. they are then easy prey for con-men, frauds demagogues and other power hungry madmen.


uncle frogy

#378

Posted by: Brownian, Most Vicious & Petty of Pharyngulites Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 4:27 PM

It just got me thinking about the likelihood of anyone believing in a Calvinist god, but believing they were not chosen.

I remember, back in my altarboy days or soon thereafter, thinking that I was unlikely that I were to be saved: I took the whole "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." thing seriously.

To me it was like trying to get earn an elite scholarship: you could do well, even exceptionally well, but you had to be in the top nth percentile, and everything hinged upon how big n was and where the cutoff lay. No matter how hard you tried, there was always going to be that kid who never went out and stayed home all weekend every weekend to cram and yet still played in the band and on the starting line.

It was a strange thing to be so young and convinced I was likely going to hell as much as any mass murderer because I'd fibbed or fought with my sisters one too many times. Then, when puberty and sexuality reared its double entendre, I was even more wracked with guilt, at least until my pragmatism kicked in and I realised that, if I was doomed anyway, what further harm could looking at a Hustler* do?

I can't have been the only one who thought this way.

*I hated Hustler, even as a desperately horny kid. I liked the slightly higher class porn. But I do credit Hustler with teaching me that anti-Semitism still existed, as they seemed to be full of anti-Jew cartoons.

#379

Posted by: Sastra Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 4:42 PM

Tulse #357 wrote:

To be fair, Calvinists don't make covenants with their god, either, as there would literally be no point -- their final destiny is already determined, and there is not a thing they can do to change that. And there are no "rights" or "duties" either, at least as I understand it.

But the stories and language in the Bible --as well as in their churches -- deals with covenants, promises, gratitude, and so forth. Even heddle can't avoid it -- he talks about blasphemy being comparable to crudely insulting one's mother and a sin that cannot be pardoned. This is way we talk about fair human relationships.

I rather doubt that heddle would agree that he has no duty to God, even if he would admit that we, the damned, do not. Nor do I think that Calvinists don't believe God has the "right" to do what He wants. He does -- and there are no scare quotes.

Owlmirror #367 wrote:

"I wonder if there are any Calvinists who believe they are not one of God's chosen." .. Sastra wrote at one time that she did know such a Calvinist... I found this fascinating. Sastra -- does he still think this way?

As far as I know, yes. I knew him back in the chatrooms, and he's still on one of my debate listservs. An interesting person, with a rather oddly admirable kind of integrity. He used to defend Biblical Inerrancy on Ferril Till's list and was argued out of the position on the basis of the evidence -- admitted he was wrong. Still believes the Bible divinely inspired, though.

He thinks that the Calvinist interpretation of Scripture is the correct one. And when it was successfully pointed out that this particular interpretation of God makes God a monster, instead of changing his theology or waving his hands, he accepted his fate. He could not worship or admire such a God and was thus perforce one of the unregenerated. He scorns the happy-clappy sort of liberal Christianity that gladly reforms God into a benevolent humanist image.

Was raised in the Salvation Army -- in Scotland. That combination was apparently not grim enough. Calvinism without election is pretty hard core. I respect him, though. Not his views, but him.

#380

Posted by: Dhorvath, OM Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 4:53 PM

Hustler figured that offending everyone would make them not racist or sexist. Sort of like saying everyone else is damned so I get to go to heaven.

#381

Posted by: nigelTheBold, Minister of Spankings Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 5:00 PM

Sastra,

Was raised in the Salvation Army -- in Scotland. That combination was apparently not grim enough. Calvinism without election is pretty hard core. I respect him, though. Not his views, but him.

Wow. That's just … wow.

That is an interesting character, though. I will have to keep your description in mind as a potential secondary character.

#382

Posted by: MrFire Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 5:00 PM

heddle @343:

Why? Is it your habit to do something you find repulsive just to show you can do it?

As mikerattlesnake succinctly pointed out @351, this comparison is false, since there is no outstanding, analogous assertion to be addressed, that stipulates that insulting my mother will have no effect on her opinion of me.

Moreover, your response didn't address the substance of my comment. My issue is that I cannot distinguish between your apologetics and those of O' Brien in 1984, who provided the quote above when explaining why he didn't have to provide any demonstration of his assertion that The Party controlled reality.

#383

Posted by: Owlmirror Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 5:08 PM

heddle@#276:

And a parent can do what he pleases with his child, right?

No, but a parent can do more to a child than a random adult can. So even among humans--even horizontally--we cannot all do the "same things" to one another. There are different rules for spouses, children, siblings, parents, strangers.

True... but this is a false analogy, I think. The relationships you mention have greater or lesser amounts of responsibility and trust, but the "rules" are not so arbitrary that someone with power in a relationship can do anything they want to the weaker member(s) in the relationship -- which is pretty much what you're arguing for god.

So it is not at all surprising, when we look at a much bigger vertical disparity, between god and man, that god can do many things that are forbidden for men.

The "much bigger vertical disparity" doesn't work in your arguments' favor. Would you honestly argue that someone with greater physical or political power is allowed to act with fewer restrictions, and violate general ethical principles that only hold for weaker and less powerful people? For what reason?

Whether those things that god claims as his exclusive privilege are reasonable or whether they make him a monster is debatable

I don't think there's any room for debate here at all. If god exists, and the only rule that god follows is the "potter can do what he pleases with the pot" rule, then god is an ethical-principle-violating monster.

--but the fact that a different set of rules applies to god should not be surprising.

Actually, it is surprising, or should be surprising, for a Christian.

Jesus spends a lot of time castigating those in power for being hypocrites; for having a set of rules for others that they themselves do not follow. If the general principle is supposed to hold, then being a powerful hypocrite is a bad thing; if the general principle is not supposed to hold to god, then god is not just a powerful hypocrite, but a powerful hypocritical meta-hypocrite.

#384

Posted by: azumahazuki Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 5:16 PM

So how does one fight presuppositionalism? I've seen a lot of good responses here to specific points Heddle's making but this whole thing still spooks me a bit, mostly because the logical endpoint is that God is a Lovecraftian eldritch abomination.

We need to figure out where the presupper's chokepoint is and attack there. Properly done, one should be able to break the presupper's logic and force them back into a evidentialist debate, which is where most of them tend to be weak.

#385

Posted by: Dhorvath, OM Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 5:23 PM

Azuma,
You can't win. Not against the presuppositionalist, but the argument is read by more than those who participate.

#386

Posted by: SC OM Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 5:25 PM

How do we decide which part of a revealed text to read literally

It is not necessary to decide. You only have to read and ask: does that sound like the writer is making a cold-hard scientific claim? Or is it at least plausible that it is a figure of speech?

Did heddle ever make a stab at answering this? I mean, this response was totally heddle* - the question itself clearly included the possibility that it was plausible; it asked how he distinguished the portions to be read literally from those not to be. Everything could be metaphorical or a figure of speech: "Jesus," "God," all of it. Leaving aside the crazines of the Chicago Statement, heddle has said or suggested that at least two things should be taken literally in some sense. He's said (disingenuously) that he would lose (or be profoundly challenged in) his faith by the finding of a steady-state universe, which suggest a literal reading of Genesis in some way. He's responded to arguments about the horrific genocide of the OT with (sickening) claims about "God's redemptive plan," which suggests that he finds tales of these genocides to be historical fact claims. So the question remains.

*By which I mean evasive, but I consider this an acceptable synonym.

#387

Posted by: azumahazuki Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 5:28 PM

@385

So I really shouldn't be so upset that I've never managed to defeat one conclusively? I ask because it seems like the only kind of apologetics that has any teeth left in it at all is presuppositionalism.

#388

Posted by: Dhorvath, OM Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 5:35 PM

Azumahazuki,
Don't be upset, you are unlikely to do so. Once a person assumes divine forces, they aren't using reason, logic, or evidence to do so. Sadly it follows that they won't be swayed by those avenues.
Not everyone knows they have started from a deity, so the argument is worth having, if only to ascertain if they are aware of their presupposition.
As for having teeth, I would more suggest that they think they have food in their mouth. They won't chew or swallow because it's the only food they have. You can't put new food in until they realize their mouth is empty and they won't act to test for contents.

#389

Posted by: azumahazuki Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 5:39 PM

@388

Thanks...I hate OCD sometimes. I still haven't totally accepted that people can be utterly, completely, dead wrong and still sound perfectly sincere and (mostly) sane. I keep going what if, what if, what if...the Calvinist mentioned above who thought he was damned? That could be me iin the recent past if you s/Calvinist/Catholic/. It's really not fun.

I just can't help but wonder if I'm missing something...

#390

Posted by: Brownian, Most Vicious & Petty of Pharyngulites Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 5:49 PM

So I really shouldn't be so upset that I've never managed to defeat one conclusively? I ask because it seems like the only kind of apologetics that has any teeth left in it at all is presuppositionalism.

I wouldn't. Consider this claim: "Free choice/free moral agency is either an illusion, albeit a very good one, or supernatural." When 'supernatural' can be used as an escape clause to wiggle out of any difficult discussion the idea of winning a discussion is rendered meaningless.

You might as well run a footrace against someone who stipulates "the winner will be the fastest runner though we can't discount the possibility that from a supernatural perspective, the winner can also be the other guy, because, hey: supernatural."

#391

Posted by: MrFire Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 5:53 PM

@385:

You can't win.

Please permit me to embellish that:

You can't win, Dhorvath. If you strike heddle's logic down, he shall become more presuppositionalistic than you can possibly imagine.

Ok, ok, I'll show myself out.

#392

Posted by: mikeyB Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 6:01 PM

I attempted to interact with Heddle over 150 posts ago. Interesting that he never got beyond "supernatural dragging" as the sole reason for his "predestined faith in Christ" -Calvinism tulip 101. I'd hate to think what it might have been like if I had lived a few hunded years ago in Geneva, when this kind of nonsense was written into law.

All you'll ever hear from him is 1001 contortions of this basic point. You might as well argue with your dog or a brick wall. But it is instructive anyway- if you ever have doubts about your atheism all you have to do is either read the bible or ask a believer what and/or why he/she believes and you'll realize there is nothing of tangible substance that I can tell to believe in anyway - gotten strait from the believers slogans themselves - even if we knew nothing of science to begin with.

#393

Posted by: SC OM Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 6:04 PM

"God" is a figure of speech, heddle!

#394

Posted by: Dhorvath, OM Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 6:11 PM

MrFire,
I love me some Kenobi.

#395

Posted by: John Morales Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 6:13 PM

mikeyB,

I'd hate to think what it might have been like if I had lived a few hunded years ago in Geneva, when this kind of nonsense was written into law.

We atheists are in a better position than the religious cultists: we can easily pretend to be religious if we consider it necessary.

#396

Posted by: Sastra Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 6:24 PM

azumahazuki #387 wrote:

So I really shouldn't be so upset that I've never managed to defeat one conclusively? I ask because it seems like the only kind of apologetics that has any teeth left in it at all is presuppositionalism.

Philosopher Keith Parsons recently divided religious apologetic into two categories: soft apologetic and hard apologetic. Soft apologetic "endeavors to reassure the faithful that their beliefs are, for them, reasonable. Thus if a Sam Harris or Richard Dawkins type says that religious believers are all fools or knaves, a soft apologist would show that believers need be neither."

Hard apologetic attempts to convince the skeptic. It tries to give them good reasons to believe that God exists and/or that a certain religion is true.

Heddle, as you can see, is pretty much limiting himself to soft apologetic. He's trying to show us (and maybe himself) that he's not as unreasonable as he might be. Maybe.

The problem with presuppositionalism, though, is that it's not really a rational argument and it's not an attempt to persuade. It's a soft apologetic masquerading as a hard one -- a "sophisticated" defense of the faith. There are presupps which look like rational arguments: TAG or the Argument from Reason tries to show that reason itself implodes unless it all rests on a basis that "cannot be questioned." But the "cannot be questioned" part is grounded in the absolute kind of certainty you can have in a Special Revelation. That's not going to be supportable on rational secular ground.

Upon which it turns out that it doesn't have to be. Presuppositionalist apologetic is an extended sneer, and not an apologetic. They're not assuming that we are starting from the same common ground. The believers think either we already know deep down that they are right -- in which case they are trying to bludgeon away our resistance -- or we are incapable of understanding they are right, sort of like dogs who can't comprehend calculus. Thus they are only performing a demonstration of obedience to God, for God. We might as well not be there.

As for how to argue effectively against this, I'm not sure. How do you defeat a complicated version of "neener neener neener?" Some people try to break the back of The Certainties. Others try to appeal to a desire for consistency. I have noticed that presuppers really hate to be compared to New Agers and pomos -- even though there's an eerie resemblance beneath the surface. So if they are going to be annoying, we can match them. Heh.

#397

Posted by: 'Tis Himself, Quel Dommage Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 7:01 PM

Out of all the possible gods to worship, heddle's has got to be close to the bottom of the list if ranked by desirability. Only gods demanding human sacrifice, like Huitzilopochtli, would rank lower. The calvinist god is a psychopathic bully who sends people to Hell simply because he can. Some bullies will leave victims alone if placated but not the calvinist god. No matter how good a life a person's lived and no matter how hard that person sucked god's dick, chances are the person's going to Hell just because. The calvinists talk about Total Depravity but their god is totally depraved. Such a god isn't worthy of worship. One shouldn't encourage terrorists and that's what heddle's god is.

"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." -Lord Acton

According to the propaganda, god is all powerful.

#398

Posted by: Robert H Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 7:09 PM

Azuma @384 So how does one fight presuppositionalism?

Drugs and electroshock, and if that doesn't work, probably involuntary committal. Sorry.

One doesn't fight presuppositionalism; there is no fight. It's an intellectual snare that invalidates beforehand any argument a non-Christian might have (at least to the eyes of the presupper). However, the presuppositionalist doesn't state that at the beginning of the argument; otherwise any rational person would walk away before the "debate" began. Think of it as having an argument with Monty Python, lacking the graces of humor and commercial breaks. But you might try the drugs and the electroshock.

#399

Posted by: 'Tis Himself, Quel Dommage Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 7:15 PM

Sastra #396

So if they are going to be annoying, we can match them. Heh.

This is a tactic which appeals to many Pharynguloids.

#400

Posted by: John Morales Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 7:38 PM

Anselm: "Nor do I seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe that I may understand. For this, too, I believe, that, unless I first believe, I shall not understand."

#401

Posted by: Mandrellian Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 7:42 PM

One cannot, in my view, arrive at Christianity through reason.

I agree. Christianity (and most organised faith-based religions) is the antithesis of reasonable thought. It's nice to see a Christian admit this; it's what atheists have been saying since the ancient Hebrews invented Christianity (and have continued to say since the Romans imposed it on as much of the rest of the world as they could reach) and it's always pleasant to find common ground.

The question remains, though: if a person can't reason their way into being a Christian, how can that person presume to use reason to defend or justify Christianity and/or their allegiance to it? And how can that person presume to disagree - on ANY level - with people who DO use their reason to reject or leave Christianity or argue against it?

One has to be supernaturally dragged into Christianity. Once in Christianity, one can use reason apologetically.

Ah, I see. So, once you've accepted the 'truth' of the Christian universe - or, rather, been "supernaturally" (whatever that means - "supernaturally" needs to be defined here) dragged to the point of acceptance - you may then use reason apologetically. But every single piece of apologetics I've read has not "used" reason at all, it's abused it, redefined it and twisted it into a shape that fits the adopted presuppositions of the apologiser. Indeed, to state the obvious: inflicting such damage on the very concept of reason seems to be the core of apologetics as a field of - I won't say 'inquiry' - justification.

This curious, specific use of "reason" actually reeks of fan-fiction: as long as the scenarios you invent or the justifications you make comport with the established rules of the universe you're writing within, it will be acceptable.

In short: I fail to see how this style of thought can even be labelled "reason" when it's hemmed in by a presupposition that's not only unapologetically unreasonable, but not even freely chosen by the person concerned. If you've been dragged into a particular point of view and can only make arguments that comport with that point of view, it's impossible to view any of those arguments as "reasonable" - not in the regularly accepted sense of the word.

Even shorter: once you've accepted (been dragged into accepting) that we have always been at war with Oceania, the thought cannot & will not cross your mind that we were ever at war with Eurasia.

#402

Posted by: heddle Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 7:46 PM

CJO,

No such person as Paul ever existed, the letters in their earliest form were Marcionite fabrications or redactions (of some other literature not then attributed to Paul) and so there would have been no such canon for the author of Luke-Acts to be aware of in the early 2nd century (Marcion's Pauline collection is attested c. 140s);

That's trivially wrong. By ~AD 95, the “Vatican Library” of the time held Paul’s letter to the Romans, his first epistle to the Corinthians and possibly one or two others letters of Paul. It also contained the letter to the Hebrews, and First Peter, some of the gospels, and the Septuagint.

An incontrovertible piece of evidence is the letter written to the Corinthian church in A.D. 95 by the bishop of Rome (Pope) Clement, in which he wrote:

Take up the epistle of the blessed Paul the Apostle. What wrote he first unto you in the beginning of the Gospel? Of a truth he charged you in the Spirit concerning himself and Cephas [Peter] and Apollos, because that even then ye had made parties. (1 Clement, 47)

KG,

Nonsense. If the material world is unable to support free choice (it isn't - see Dennett's Freedom Evolves),

Have you actually read it--it's utter woo. Now my version of the free will is also woo (supernatural), but Dennett's version, the old fraud, is woo masquerading as science--i.e., psuedo-science.

Tulse,

In other words, could neuroscience prove Calvinism wrong?

I'm not sure what you mean, but if you mean what I think then I would say: maybe. That is, if neuroscience demonstrated that all Calvinists shared the same brain abnormality--that would be fairly convicting.

#403

Posted by: Mandrellian Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 7:56 PM

It's the old the potter can do what he pleases with the pot argument. - heddle

Ah, so we're in thrall to a psychotic despot and, if he so chooses, he can throw us against a wall and break us to shards and all we can do is accept it? And this is the god you worship - or, even sadder, have been dragged into worshipping?

And you wonder why some people in this thread think you're not entirely compos mentis.

#404

Posted by: Janine, The Little Top Of Venom, OM Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 8:02 PM

Ah, so we're in thrall to a psychotic despot and, if he so chooses, he can throw us against a wall and break us to shards and all we can do is accept it? And this is the god you worship - or, even sadder, have been dragged into worshipping?

Living in an universe where nature does not care one way or an other what happens to us verses living in a universe where a creator grants eternal bliss or eternal torment on a whim. I know which one I choose.

#405

Posted by: SC OM Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 8:02 PM

Paul’s letter to the Romans

Figure of speech, heddle.

#406

Posted by: heddle Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 8:03 PM

Mandrellian

whatever that means - "supernaturally" needs to be defined here

Why--is the standard definition not sufficient? Or you don't know it? It is not a mystery word. A working definition is: phenomena that cannot be explained by science, ever. That is, even in principle. What's the big deal?

I fail to see how this style of thought can even be labelled "reason"

Any reasonable person could (and usually does--even many Christians who prefer Thomic proofs of God and the reliability of scripture) violently disagree with my presuppositions, that God exists and the bible is is word. But most of these same reasonable people (e.g., on here: owlmirror, Tulse, sastra, cjo, some others) seem to operate on the basis that one can accept, for arguments sake, these presuppositions--and then argue what conclusions are derivable from those presuppositions.

#407

Posted by: Nerd of Redhead, OM Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 8:06 PM

*quick peeks*Yep, Heddle remains in the killfile. Still refuses to look at his religion with his scientist mind, not his religious mind. Talk about compartmentalization. But that does keep his science pure...

#408

Posted by: dexitroboper Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 8:24 PM

Think of it as having an argument with Monty Python, lacking the graces of humor and commercial breaks.

Monty Python was made by the BBC. There are no ad breaks, blasphemer!

#409

Posted by: Wowbagger, Man-Hating Man of Pharyngula Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 8:52 PM

Mandrellian wrote:

The question remains, though: if a person can't reason their way into being a Christian, how can that person presume to use reason to defend or justify Christianity and/or their allegiance to it?

I've encountered Christians who go one step further than heddle and say that you are not only made a Christian by their god's magic wand, but that the bible itself is only made intelligible if you've had the spell cast upon you - i.e. the bible sans glamour isn't supposed to make sense to non-Christians.

That kind of closes on the door on any chance for argument, though; heddle, however, enjoys arguing, and I strongly suspect this is the major factor in his post-magical transformation choice of sect - that which (as I've noted before) appeals to those with the mindsets of lawyers and high school debate team captains.

Or, alternatively, those smart enough to see flaws and suffer cognitive dissonance (which they attempt to alleviate through argument - since, as heddle admits, the only person who benefits from doing this is him), but without the character to dismiss it all as the load of utter wank that it is.

#410

Posted by: Mandrellian Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 8:52 PM

Heddle, 406

Why--is the standard definition [of supernatural] not sufficient? Or you don't know it? It is not a mystery word. A working definition is: phenomena that cannot be explained by science, ever. That is, even in principle. What's the big deal?

"What's the big deal," he asks, as if the context a word is used in doesn't matter in the slightest.

The big deal is that while "supernatural" obviously has a dictionary definition, the concept of being "supernaturally dragged" is not clear and needs further explanation. Are you saying you were coerced, forced, press-ganged, shanghai'd into worshipping the Hebrew god by something that can NEVER be explained, EVER, even in principle? Then how the hell do you even know it happened or if the position you've arrived at is correct or reasonable? Is it not possible, for the sake of argument, that you were merely psychologically predisposed to adopt an authoritarian faith or just liked the sound of it when you heard it?

Out of interest: another working definition of supernatural is "that which cannot be investigated by science or perceived by "natural" entities (e.g. us)". Yet you claim a supernatural agent or entity dragged you into a presupposition. Are you able to perceive the supernatural, or are you claiming the supernatural can interact with the natural universe in such a way that it can be perceived by you, a natural entity?

Out of further interest: if science can never, ever, even in principle, explain the supernatural, how is it that YOU can explain your "dragging" - even in principle? You might not even completely understand it, but you nonehteless maintain it happened - this supernatural dragging is YOUR explanation for your worship of this hell-creating sci-fi monster of a god.

Interestingly, there's absolutely no guarantee that, even if this supernatural dragging occurred, that it was done by the Hebrew god, or even by a nice god who will reward you for your mindless supplication. Open the door to getting dragged around by ghosts and you open the door to all possible gods, even the forgotten ones. Who's to say Loki isn't just yanking your chain? It's entirely reasonable within Viking apologetics.

#411

Posted by: Mandrellian Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 8:59 PM

Wowbagger @ 409:

I've encountered Christians who go one step further than heddle and say that you are not only made a Christian by their god's magic wand, but that the bible itself is only made intelligible if you've had the spell cast upon you - i.e. the bible sans glamour isn't supposed to make sense to non-Christians.

And I can only imagine that going any further than that would involve wearing underpants on your head, jamming two pencils up your nose and saying "wibble".

#412

Posted by: Wowbagger, Man-Hating Man of Pharyngula Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 9:09 PM

Mandrellian wrote:

Are you saying you were coerced, forced, press-ganged, shanghai'd into worshipping the Hebrew god...

No no no no no no no. You've got it all wrong. His god just making people do something they didn't want to do (i.e. love Jebus) would contravene free will; instead, his god changes you in such a way that you now want to do what you didn't want to do before (i.e. love Jebus), which doesn't contravene free will at all. Not one bit.

#413

Posted by: Tulse Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 9:14 PM

Heddle, you've misunderstood my point, which was with reference to free will. As I understand it, free will is central to your theology. What I was asking is that, if it can be demonstrated that human behaviour is solely the result of material causes, and not supernatural ones, i.e., that free will as you conceptualize it does not exist, would that invalidate your theology? Would that constitute an empirical test of Calvinism?

#414

Posted by: Kagato Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 9:16 PM

Living in an universe where nature does not care one way or an other what happens to us verses living in a universe where a creator grants eternal bliss or eternal torment on a whim. I know which one I choose.

As Calvin put it, "It's either or it's arbitrary, and either way I've got the heebie-jeebies."

Minus the heebie-jeebies, anyway. Definitely arbitrary.

I'll take cold indifference over active malevolence every time. Regardless, that's where the evidence points.

#415

Posted by: azumahazuki Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 9:16 PM

Everyone, thanks for those responses! Sastra especially; that was eye-opening. I always thought there was something a bit masturbatory about it (and all of Calvinism honestly), but the soft/hard distinction is interesting.

You mention the transcendental arguments, especially the argument from logic/reason; the quick way to short-circuit THAT one is to claim that logic is a brute fact of existence itself. And that actually is much more parsimonious, because unlike the Calvinist worldview, you don't ALSO need to pull in "transworld depravity" (i.e., "God's not only a jerk, he's incompetent") to explain why the world sucks.

#410 also makes a good point: all heddle knows is that a dragging of some sort occurred. Absent any other proof (and it ALL comes back to empirical evidence eventually), we would just as well be justified saying an evil God that wants him to be damned is dragging him in the wrong direction.

Sometimes I think my problem is that these arguments are SO weak that it causes a conflict between "this is espoused by brilliant philosophers" and "that's retarded."

#416

Posted by: Owlmirror Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 9:23 PM

Why--is the standard definition not sufficient? Or you don't know it? It is not a mystery word. A working definition is: phenomena that cannot be explained by science, ever. That is, even in principle. What's the big deal?

That doesn't seem like a very good definition, though -- if you can't explain something now, how do you know what that it can never be explained in the future? If you don't know what it is now, how do you know that it will never be known in principle?

Really, it seems like an arbitrary bit of handwaving in order to basically argue from ignorance.

Now, Richard Carrier has offered this essay about defining the supernatural. I thought Sastra or myself might have pointed you at it before, but perhaps not.

http://richardcarrier.blogspot.com/2007/01/defining-supernatural.html

Do you have any problems with it?

#417

Posted by: Mandrellian Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 9:30 PM

Wowbags:

No no no no no no no. You've got it all wrong. His god just making people do something they didn't want to do (i.e. love Jebus) would contravene free will; instead, his god changes you in such a way that you now want to do what you didn't want to do before (i.e. love Jebus), which doesn't contravene free will at all. Not one bit.

Sweet flaming crikey, you're right. Just like Kim Jong Il winning 100% of the vote every single fucking time ISN'T the result of there being only one political party.

#418

Posted by: Nerd of Redhead, OM Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 9:32 PM

I suspect Heddle is bored with his day job. Hence his lengthy stints here when he thinks he can proselytize. PZ is getting irritated though. I also suspect Heddle's days are numbered, unless he learns to leave when demanded.

#419

Posted by: Kagato Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 9:37 PM

Argh.
That is, of course,
"It's either mean or it's arbitrary, and either way I've got the heebie-jeebies."

And only after the fact do I notice with amusement I'm quoting Calvin in reference to a Calvinist... :)

#420

Posted by: Mandrellian Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 9:47 PM

Nerd:

I suspect Heddle is bored with his day job. Hence his lengthy stints here when he thinks he can proselytize. PZ is getting irritated though. I also suspect Heddle's days are numbered, unless he learns to leave when demanded.

I don't think he's here to proselytize - not to us, anyway. Clearly noone here is or could be convinced or even particularly intrigued by Heddle's apologetics, semantic clownery and compartmentalisation; the only person accepting his arguments at all, on any level, is himself.

Personally I'm engaging his arguments out of curiosity and my main point remains: if you can arrive at a position without reason - especially if you're dragged into it by means that you state cannot be comprehended or EVER explained - you do not get to call what you then engage in to defend or support that position "reason". Attempting to then qualify and validate that "reasoning" via "apologetics" is trying to build a castle on quicksand.

#421

Posted by: Tulse Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 10:05 PM

Heddle never explicitly proselytizes, he always engages the arguments, and he's generally quite civil. His god may be a monster, but otherwise he's actually a decent guy, and I really don't think there's any call at all for talk of banning.

#422

Posted by: Wowbagger, Man-Hating Man of Pharyngula Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 10:14 PM

Tulse wrote:

Heddle never explicitly proselytizes, he always engages the arguments, and he's generally quite civil. His god may be a monster, but otherwise he's actually a decent guy, and I really don't think there's any call at all for talk of banning.

Well, he engages some of the arguments - but, given how many questions he's asked, that's not always unreasonable.

I don't think he should be banned either. When I first started coming here I'd never encountered anyone like heddle before, and as a result I think it's important for people to be exposed to as many of the different arguments that apologists will present to justify their woo; seeing us arguing with him is a valuable learning experience.

Plus there's always the impact on fence-sitting believers who might be lurking. When they see the kind of convoluted rationalising that 'knowledgable' Christians have to use in order to justify the more insane aspects of their belief systems, the greater the chance they're going to see it for what it is: desperate sophistry.

Sure it's boring for those who've seen/heard it all before, but I don't think that necessitates banning.

#423

Posted by: Ichthyic Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 10:34 PM

Heddle is fine, so long as you keep in mind that this, as stated by Tis very early on:

heddle apparently thinks there's few doctrinal differences between various flavors of Christians.

is not exactly accurate.

what's really going on is that Heddle thinks there's few doctrinal differences between all claiming the mantle of xian and HIMSELF.

IOW, keep in mind that he basically can't discuss this issue without constantly projecting his own belief structures on to all xians, and you'll get along fine.

Just assume he basically is mentally incapable of differentiating other xians from himself. Seriously, don't even bother trying to point out the glaring differences to him; you won't get anywhere.

If you can manage to be OK with that as a caveat, you'll pull out much less of your hair when trying to converse with him.

#424

Posted by: Nerd of Redhead, OM Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 10:34 PM

Mandrellian, Heddle is a presuppositionalist and predeterminationalist. There is no logical reason for his religious beliefs. Just I believe, end of story. Which I figured out a while back, hence my cynicism. Then I wondered by he would bother to spend his time here. I can only conclude, in his fashion, he is proselytizing for his imaginary deity. Otherwise, he has no point to his continued interaction here. Nothing but mental masturbation on his part. Which he hasn't denied. And a great way to kill a boring afternoon with nothing to do.

#425

Posted by: Nerd of Redhead, OM Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 10:41 PM

Oh, and if PZ decides to apply the banhammer, it is because Heddle hasn't said anything new since I have been posting here, which was just prior to Crackergate. And Heddle was around prior to that. Boring and insipid, even though he pretends to engage. Until that scientific mind of his looks at his religion with scientific scrutiny, he fails to engage fully, and he just can't do that, as his mind will 'splode.

#426

Posted by: azumahazuki Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 10:51 PM

You know, it's all well and good to commend him for being polite, but he's still advocating the most evil thing since evil was invented (the author of evil, actually). Isn't it a little like praising one of Pol Pot's envoys for being well-spoken?

#427

Posted by: Ichthyic Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 10:52 PM

That's trivially wrong. By ~AD 95, the "Vatican Library" of the time held Paul's letter to the Romans, his first epistle to the Corinthians and possibly one or two others letters of Paul

frankly, that could support either contention:

CJO's that the letters are forgeries, or your own that Paul did exist.

so, no, what's trivially wrong is your logic here.

as usual.

#428

Posted by: Tulse Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 11:11 PM

You know, it's all well and good to commend him for being polite, but he's still advocating the most evil thing since evil was invented (the author of evil, actually). Isn't it a little like praising one of Pol Pot's envoys for being well-spoken?
If we applied that criterion, we wouldn't allow any Christian to post here, since in all Christian sects their god is pretty much a psychopathic asshole. (That's one thing I find refreshing about Calvinism -- it at least admits that fact, and then tries to work out the implications. Those implications aren't pretty, but given the starting point, they're at least fairly consistent.)
#429

Posted by: Ichthyic Author Profile Page | February 9, 2011 11:20 PM

We were dead in our sin, not just gravely ill, but were made alive. I had no more to do with my second birth than I did my first.

sounds like schizophrenia.

#430

Posted by: Ing: PhD Trollologist Author Profile Page | February 10, 2011 12:08 AM

Out of all the possible gods to worship, heddle's has got to be close to the bottom of the list if ranked by desirability. Only gods demanding human sacrifice, like Huitzilopochtli, would rank lower. The calvinist god is a psychopathic bully who sends people to Hell simply because he can. Some bullies will leave victims alone if placated but not the calvinist god.

Actually Huitzilopochtli is preferable for the reasons you stated. Huitilopochtli and other blood gods can be appeased and typically they will tell you their crtiera for worship and what they expect. The Calivinist God is the director of the Vicious Cabaret.

#431

Posted by: Mandrellian Author Profile Page | February 10, 2011 12:12 AM

Nerd O'R, if Heddle is actually proselytising, he's rubbish at it :)

And if he's a pre-sup pre-determinationalismist, he's engaging in utterly pointless dialogue, regardless of whether he converts us. Basically, we're all doomed and after he's dead he gets to drive a Lamborghini full of virgins into a pool of Dom Perignon and chocolate fucking sharks. Or whatever the payoff is for being roped into

If that is what Heddle's doing, I can't actually think of anything more pointless than proselytising for a predeterminist religion which says "You're all fucked and there's nowt that can be done about it." It smells remarkably like worshipping the Old Ones; once they awaken, we are all, in fact, doomed to be food.

Ia! Ia! Cthulhu f'taghn!

#432

Posted by: Mandrellian Author Profile Page | February 10, 2011 12:18 AM

"Or whatever the payoff is for being roped into something by some trickster god who couldn't be arsed letting him make up his own mind."

... is what it should have said in 431!

Ia!

#433

Posted by: Ing: PhD Trollologist Author Profile Page | February 10, 2011 12:18 AM

Heddle isn't a troll. But I agree that praising him for being polite is quaint. He's a fascinating specimen though. Rarely do people dedicate so much intellect to remaining stupid.

#434

Posted by: Ing: PhD Trollologist Author Profile Page | February 10, 2011 12:22 AM

@Mandrellian

Yer he knows it's pointless. If he's doing it he's doing it only because God said so. The point is to glorify god by fullfilling his will, regardless of inanity or pointlessness.

#435

Posted by: Jadehawk, cascadeuse féministe Author Profile Page | February 10, 2011 12:24 AM

Actually Huitzilopochtli is preferable for the reasons you stated. Huitilopochtli and other blood gods can be appeased and typically they will tell you their crtiera for worship and what they expect. The Calivinist God is the director of the Vicious Cabaret.
plus, from the perspective of which gods would be less desirable to exist, keep in mind that a death, no matter how torturous, cruel, painful, and premature, can only last so long.

Peanuts compared to eternal suffering in hell.

There's really not much worse than the latest versions of the Abrahamic God (at least, with the (ancient?) jews, it was mere death and nothingness)

#436

Posted by: Ing: PhD Trollologist Author Profile Page | February 10, 2011 12:31 AM

Heddle actually is a great illustration. MY So has started reading Lovecraft and expressed bemused wonderment of why/how anyone would actually worship a Great Old One or be in any Cthulhu cult knowing that Cthulhu and kin are just going to scorch the earth to cinders when they awaken. Heddle proves that mindset is not so far off from reality.

#437

Posted by: mikeyB Author Profile Page | February 10, 2011 12:54 AM

fascinating, captain....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cFods1KSWsQ

#438

Posted by: Kenbo Author Profile Page | February 10, 2011 2:16 AM

The Heddle is a Poe. Elaborate, but still a Poe. The sad thing is, I don't believe the heddle knows it's a Poe.

When discussing rhetoric, the heddle employs reason and logic. However, when discussing religion and faith, the heddle retreats behind belief and Calvinism...where logic and reason have no meaning.

The heddle trolls for victims by making a blanket, generic statements, then arguing semantics or rhetoric. Notice in this thread, the heddle attempts to argue with someone over the date particular texts were authored...which is irrelevant to the subject of the thread.

If the heddle truly is a Calvinist, then I apologize and take everything back...but I pity the heddle. Such a cold, arbitrary outlook on life would drive me to insanity as well. Believing in such a cruel, cold god as the Calvinists do would certainly make me a bitter, insufferable lout, so my heart goes out to the heddle if this is the case.

#439

Posted by: coughlanbrianm Author Profile Page | February 10, 2011 3:06 AM

Heddle proves that mindset is not so far off from reality.

Oh I'd say the Lovecraftian impulse to worship a powerful, pitiless monster is pretty common in both Christianity and Islam. All that talk of the end of the world, rivers of blood, a noahic fragment of humanity saved from the conflagration, it's all so ... fascinating.

*shudders deliciously*

I could never get enough of that crap when I was a christian. Nowdays I just make do with fiction ... which of course is what I was doing all along:-)

#440

Posted by: John Morales Author Profile Page | February 10, 2011 3:50 AM

Ing,

Heddle proves that mindset is not so far off from reality.

You're not the first to note this.

#441

Posted by: MacTurk Author Profile Page | February 10, 2011 5:42 AM

Getting away from Heddle and his endless gyring/spiralling up his own fundament, why does Mohler, like most American xtian fundies, ignore the planet outside the USA?

I mean, the ringing charge that "Darwin replaces the Bible as the great explainer of the existence of life in all of its forms" is just so limited and parochial.

It also replaces the Koran, Torah, Guru Granth Sahib, the texts of the Olmecs, Maya, Incas and Aztecs, not to forget the Bhagavad Gita and the Scandinavian Eddas. And how can one maintain belief in the Graeco-Roman and Carthaginian pantheon, when faced with Darwinism? I fear for my faith in Lugh Lamh Fada and the rest of my Celtic gods!

It's NOT FAIR! Society will collapse! There will be anarchy in the streets/caves/pyramids!

And the rest of the usual tiresome tripe which the Dog-botherers bring up when their silly myths are exposed for the power-grubbing fantasies they really are.

The man is a limited fool, living in a 2D universe. And he is scared, because he knows his scam has a limited life span, and is losing its appeal.

#442

Posted by: heddle Author Profile Page | February 10, 2011 6:33 AM

Ichthyic,

I am responding to the suggestion that Marcion is responsible for Paul's epistles. Since, for example, Marcion was ~10 when Clement wrote not only a reference to Paul's letter to the Corinthians--but referred to the recognizable theme of that letter (factions claiming to follow Paul, Peter, or Appolos) it seemed relevant. Not sure why you failed to grasp the point except that, as usual, your reasoning is nonexistent.

owlmirror,

That doesn't seem like a very good definition, though -- if you can't explain something now, how do you know what that it can never be explained in the future? If you don't know what it is now, how do you know that it will never be known in principle?

True, you can never prove that something is supernatural. Still the definition is solid. You have to add "even in principle" otherwise supernatural includes things that we cannot explain at the moment--clearly not the intent of the word. Something doesn't have to exist or be detectable to receive a precise definition, and something that can not be explained by science, even in principle is a precise definition of supernatural. As far as I can tell.

#443

Posted by: John Morales Author Profile Page | February 10, 2011 6:41 AM

Heddle:

Something doesn't have to exist or be detectable to receive a precise definition, and something that can not be explained by science, even in principle is a precise definition of supernatural.

Nope. It presumes that science can in principle explain everything natural.

Such presuppositions are the province of the religious, not of science.

#444

Posted by: heddle Author Profile Page | February 10, 2011 6:46 AM

John Morales,

Nope. It presumes that science can in principle explain everything natural.

Such presuppositions are the province of the religious, not of science.

Fair enough.

Can you give me an example of something natural that science cannot explain, even in principle?

#445

Posted by: Kel, The Privileged View From Nowhere Author Profile Page | February 10, 2011 6:54 AM

Can you give me an example of something natural that science cannot explain, even in principle?
2+2=4
#446

Posted by: John Morales Author Profile Page | February 10, 2011 7:04 AM

Heddle, no, I can't.

I do note that we don't have access to all of nature, but only to events within our light cone.

#447

Posted by: Forbidden Snowflake Author Profile Page | February 10, 2011 7:04 AM

Something doesn't have to exist or be detectable to receive a precise definition, and something that can not be explained by science, even in principle is a precise definition of supernatural. As far as I can tell.

A driver who got lost asks a pedestrian:
- Pardon me, sir, where am I?

Your definition of "supernatural" is precise in the same sense that "in a car" would be a precise answer for the pedestrian to give, or in the same sense that "Something That Could Not Be" is a precise definition. It's self-defeating.

Whether supernatural phenomena exist or not, your definition leaves us unable to confidently call anything supernatural, ever. And, as mentioned above, it undermines your own claim that you were "supernaturally dragged" to your faith.

#448

Posted by: heddle Author Profile Page | February 10, 2011 7:07 AM

Kel, OM,

OK, my mistake. Let's up the ante a bit to match my original definition in #406:

Supernatural: phenomena that cannot be explained by science, ever. That is, even in principle.

Yes, I got sloppy in reposting the definition in #442 I carelessly substituted something for phenomena.

So (John Morales) does your objection still stand? If so, what natural phenomenon cannot be explained by science, even in principle?

I'm not saying there isn't. The closest I can come up with is: why did that particular nucleus decay at that time? I honestly don't know if that fits. It presupposes that QM will never be replaced by a deterministic theory--which I believe to be true--but even in principle is a very tough requirement.

#449

Posted by: heddle Author Profile Page | February 10, 2011 7:20 AM

Forbidden Snowflake

Whether supernatural phenomena exist or not, your definition leaves us unable to confidently call anything supernatural, ever.

No it doesn't. If god appeared and parted the Atlantic ocean for the purposes of holding a London to New York drag race--and for good measure turned everyone but the winner into a pillar of salt, I think think many people would be confident (your word) in calling it supernatural. There is of course a small chance that it was a high tech parlor trick.

John Morales's objection is potentially valid. Your objection is not.

#450

Posted by: John Morales Author Profile Page | February 10, 2011 7:29 AM

Heddle:

So (John Morales) does your objection still stand? If so, what natural phenomenon cannot be explained by science, even in principle?

I figured you were speaking of phenomena, and responded accordingly.

I think it imprudent to assume the cardinality of the set of as yet unknown phenomena is zero.

#451

Posted by: Forbidden Snowflake Author Profile Page | February 10, 2011 7:48 AM

I think think many people would be confident (your word) in calling it supernatural.
Many people are confident that the Earth is 6,000 years old. I concede that my use of the word "confidently" was blurry, but I don't think that destroys the entire point.
There is of course a small chance that it was a high tech parlor trick.
Small chance? How would you go about estimating the probability, if one of the possibilities is "something we do not know whether and how exists"?

Also, what is the foundation of your (apparent) confidence that your conversion experience is something that science cannot explain even in principle?

#452

Posted by: heddle Author Profile Page | February 10, 2011 7:56 AM

OK, the 1st definition on dictionary.com for supernatural reads:

of, pertaining to, or being above or beyond what is natural; unexplainable by natural law or phenomena; abnormal.

Do you have the same objection?

Do you have an alternative definition for supernatural?

You are working, in seems to me, on the premise that definitions must air-tight and loophole free. It is not so. They have to convey meaning, not pass rigorous testing.

#453

Posted by: Forbidden Snowflake Author Profile Page | February 10, 2011 8:24 AM

heddle, I don't have an alternative definition.
I do, however, have difficulty understanding it when you define the supernatural in a way that is based on a universal negative (not explainable, ever, even in principle) and proceed (or preceed, since you did that first?) to call an experience that happened to you supernatural.

Why do you reckon it was supernatural?

#454

Posted by: MrFire Author Profile Page | February 10, 2011 9:37 AM

heddle, I noticed you made a concession above (of sorts), with respect to neuroscience, that there may conditions under which you might agree that you have been misguided after all. At least, I think that's what you meant.

My admittedly poor understanding of your position stumbled at this point: is not the essence of your worldview that all physical evidence and logic is subordinate to the fact that He is, and that at no time at all, by definition, can it supercede this? Does not God have a veto not only on the fabric of reality, but on all possible meta-realities above it?

Once more, apologies in advance for any possible strawmanning contained above. I'm really not trying to use you as some kind of rhetorical dartboard or something.

#455

Posted by: Sastra Author Profile Page | February 10, 2011 9:48 AM

heddle #452 wrote:

OK, the 1st definition on dictionary.com for supernatural reads:
of, pertaining to, or being above or beyond what is natural; unexplainable by natural law or phenomena; abnormal.
Do you have the same objection?

My objection is that it's vacuous and tells us nothing interesting. Nature therefore is what -- that which can be explained by natural law? The line on what is and what is not "Nature" is too fluid.

If someone defines Nature as "whatever exists" now where the hell are we? What do we point to to show them that this definition is too broad? I've encountered far too many People of Faith who've told me God is Natural, but don't seem to have changed anything about God but a word in the definition.

Do you have an alternative definition for supernatural?

Let's try the definitions from the Carrier essay Owlmirror linked to in #416:

... "naturalism" means, in the simplest terms, that every mental thing is entirely caused by fundamentally nonmental things, and is entirely dependent on nonmental things for its existence. Therefore, "supernaturalism" means that at least some mental things cannot be reduced to nonmental things.

Or, as he clarifies:

If [naturalism] is true, then all minds, and all the contents and powers and effects of minds, are entirely caused by natural [i.e. fundamentally nonmental] phenomena. But if naturalism is false, then some minds, or some of the contents or powers or effects of minds, are causally independent of nature. In other words, such things would then be partly or wholly caused by themselves, or exist or operate directly or fundamentally on their own.

What do you think of this?

#456

Posted by: Ing: PhD Trollologist Author Profile Page | February 10, 2011 10:08 AM

You are working, in seems to me, on the premise that definitions must air-tight and loophole free. It is not so. They have to convey meaning, not pass rigorous testing.

That depends on what you mean...
Define 'air-tight' and 'rigorous'

#457

Posted by: a_ray_in_dilbert_space, OM, A little FUCKING ray of sunshine Author Profile Page | February 10, 2011 10:12 AM

Heddle on Miracles: " There is of course a small chance that it was a high tech parlor trick."

Oh, so close. I'm curious Heddle, how you would define the probability (or chance as you put it) to be small. In particular--how would you define the probability of high-tech, which we know exists, and which can produce effects that even a few decades ago would have seemed miraculous--versus the probability of a supernatural being--which we have no experience of--performing a miracle.

It seems to me that we could explain parting of the ocean if we were able to localize a high-enough energy density along the boundary. That would be natural, would it not? Failing that, an invisible fabric of carbon nanotubes might be holding the water back. And on and on. It seems to me that we could go on trying naturalistic explanations until the end of time. What characteistic would a supernatural explanation have that would distinguish it other than our having exhausted all possible natural explanation (and not just the ones we can think of off the top of our heads on the spur of the moment)?

#458

Posted by: Markita Lynda: Healthcare is a damn right Author Profile Page | February 10, 2011 11:08 AM

Carovee said,

Darwin based his ideas on a) existing theories, and b) his own careful observations. If he hadn't come up with the theory of evolution, someone else eventually would have figured it out.

This is correct. A number of scientists were groping towards the theory. Not only did Wallace come up with the identical theory twenty years later, based on his years of collecting zoological specimens in South America and the Pacific, while Darwin was still assembling the air-tight arguments for his book, but the whole idea was in the air based on scientifically proven observations such as "New forms of organisms arise where there was a similar population in the same geographic area just before them." Indeed, Patrick "the Scots Invented it First" Matthew tossed off the theory of natural selection, clearly stated but not elaborated, in an appendix to his book about growing timber for naval ships in 1831.

In spite of the prevailing Creationist myth that scientists are driven by an evil desire to deny the existence of their god, anyone observing scientists or reading their accounts with an open mind receives the overwhelming impression of curiosity, joy, and wonder in discovering how the world works.

#459

Posted by: Markita Lynda: Healthcare is a damn right Author Profile Page | February 10, 2011 11:20 AM

I'd define supernatural as "breaking the known laws of science" and "without an explanation within the laws of nature." But that's just me. According to everything we know about physics, supernatural things are either impossible or without any plausible mechanism. Crystals sooth your emotions, align your chakras? How? What's a chakra? Oh, it's an imaginary focus of imaginary energy inside your body. Riiigghht.

#460

Posted by: azumahazuki Author Profile Page | February 10, 2011 11:26 AM

Anyone else notice that Heddle never really answers the philosophical and moral problems with his worldview?

Folks, don't challenge the presupper on trivia. who CARES when Paul wrote his heretical crap? (Heretical because, as you know, Jesus said explicitly to KEEP the Mosaic law, and if you know what you're reading, you can see the doctrinal split between him and the 12).

No matter what anyone writes about it, the issues raised at rock bottom (free will, omni-everything God who deliberately created not one but two sets of fallible creatures and the second worse than the first, etc) are still there. Until those are solved, an apologist arguing about the actual scripture is rearranging the proverbial deckchairs.

But no, such questions are "childish." :) Funny, I thought Jesus TOLD us to be as little children.

#461

Posted by: Tulse Author Profile Page | February 10, 2011 11:50 AM

I'd define supernatural as "breaking the known laws of science" and "without an explanation within the laws of nature.
That's a very problematic definition, as it potentially makes any major new discovery supernatural. For example, under that definition, quantum phenomena would have been supernatural prior to the development of quantum theory.
#462

Posted by: CJO Author Profile Page | February 10, 2011 12:35 PM

Folks, don't challenge the presupper on trivia. who CARES when Paul wrote his heretical crap?

KG asked a question independently of the heddle discussion. Heddle addressed part of my answer. And anyway, why does it matter if we have some kind of doctrinal unity on how we "challenge the presupper"? You discuss what you're interested in, others may have other interests. It's not a forum; it's a blog, and multiple, parallel conversations will take place on the same thread.

Pursuant to heddle's rejoinder, 1 Clement shows that there was at least one epistle attributed to a figure named Paul by the end of the first century, that it addressed controversy or competition among apostles, and that a church leader at Rome expected Christians at Corinth to be in possession of a copy. It does not demonstrate that this Paul even existed, or that he had a career answering to the description of that of Saul of Tarsus in Acts, or that this epistle was substantially the same as 1 Cor as we know it today, or that Marcion wasn't responsible for pseudepigraphically composing everything else in the Marcionite "Pauline" canon.

I personally don't consider it all that likely (the bit you quoted, heddle, was a conditional that you took out of its context in a list of possibilities; that one was admittedly extreme).

A Paul probably did write several letters to various Christian communities in the mid 1st c. But given all the pseudepigraphical material that was written in his name or later attributed to him by the mid-2nd c. in the interest of establishing apostolic succession, it's perfectly reasonable to wonder how much of the so-called genuine Pauline epitolatory literature is the result of a competition between Marcionite and proto-Catholic factions using the framework of a few short letters by this figure of authority to retroject their favored theology into the apostolic age.

#463

Posted by: Dhorvath, OM Author Profile Page | February 10, 2011 1:19 PM

I do appreciate the distinction suggested by the Carrier essay, but I am uncertain I ascribe. If something is capable of interfacing with our universe, there is a mechanism by which it does so and as such I would class it as part and parcel with nature. If it is not capable of interfacing with our universe, why does it matter?
_

I am also not too sure I am concerned about how free my will is, rather I am more concerned that it is mine. The decisions made by the interaction of my brain's processing network, memories, and sensory inputs, are made there, not somewhere else. I am not horrified by the idea that they are not mine to 'control' so long as I am somewhat aware of being involved in the decisions and their repercussions. In a similar fashion I am unconcerned that how fast I run is a wholly physical process, I can't will my feet to move faster, or in a different fashion than is allowed by my joints and muscles, yet I can still enjoy moving them and it is certainly me who does so.

#464

Posted by: Owlmirror Author Profile Page | February 10, 2011 3:33 PM

I do appreciate the distinction suggested by the Carrier essay, but I am uncertain I ascribe. If something is capable of interfacing with our universe, there is a mechanism by which it does so and as such I would class it as part and parcel with nature. If it is not capable of interfacing with our universe, why does it matter?

I would generally agree with this. I think that if there were actual psychic powers, they could be studied, and would be part of the natural world; they would be part of the nature of the universe and how it works.

But ... there are 20 definitions of the term "nature" on dictionary.com; there are 30 definitions of "natural". A word with that many definitions and shades of meaning can -- naturally -- lead to confusion and both deliberate and inadvertent equivocation when people use the term.


As Carrier notes, his definition helps clarify what people mean when they vaguely refer to something that is supernatural. When people say that Uri Geller has supernatural powers, they mean that his mind is able to reach out and have an effect on some external part of the universe; "action at a distance". Or maybe they mean that the universe is mindlike, and Geller's mind "tells" the universe what to do, for very near and very small instances, and it "obeys", because the universe itself is, in some otherwise indescribable and fundamental way, mindlike.

The same even works for heddle's one-sentence story @#449. He's implying that basically, the mind of god can reach out and act on the universe, or "tell" the universe what to do, and the universe "listens"; the ocean splits because the mind of god wills it to be so; the people who are not the winning drag racer become pillars of salt because that's what the mind of god wants their bodies to become.

Or in other words, there is some thing mindlike that cannot be reduced to the actions of physical things.

Yes? No?

#465

Posted by: heddle Author Profile Page | February 10, 2011 3:46 PM

Sastra/Owlmirror/others

I am missing the boat on this definition--why tie the definition of natural and supernatural to the mind?

a_ray_in_dilbert_space,

Oh, so close. I'm curious Heddle, how you would define the probability (or chance as you put it) to be small. In particular--how would you define the probability of high-tech, which we know exists, and which can produce effects that even a few decades ago would have seemed miraculous--versus the probability of a supernatural being--which we have no experience of--performing a miracle.

Criticism accepted--that was a lousy example I gave (about parting the Atlantic) and I knew it sucked as soon as i gave it. How about the classic "Copyright Yahweh" in 100 languages encoded in our DNA? Some people have suggested that would make them believe in god--though in principle it could have been placed there by a high-tech universe-creating prankster (other than god.)

#466

Posted by: Tulse Author Profile Page | February 10, 2011 3:48 PM

When people say that Uri Geller has supernatural powers, they mean that his mind is able to reach out and have an effect on some external part of the universe
Mine can too, when it's in an fMRI...
#467

Posted by: a_ray_in_dilbert_space, OM, A little FUCKING ray of sunshine Author Profile Page | February 10, 2011 3:55 PM

Heddle: "How about the classic "Copyright Yahweh" in 100 languages encoded in our DNA?"

How would this prove anything other than that somebody a very long time ago could do sophisticated genetic manipulation? Again, technology. How do we exhaust the natural possibilities, and what is it that would make it specifically supernatural.

#468

Posted by: Tulse Author Profile Page | February 10, 2011 4:06 PM

In PZ's posting on the issue of evidence for god(s), it was pointed out that there is in principle no finite evidence that one can provide for an infinitely powerful being. Any evidence that a being can do X is only a demonstration that the being is sufficiently powerful to do X, and there will always be the potential for naturalistic explanations of any such demonstrations of finite power. One can no more have evidence for an omnipotent god than one can demonstrate infinity by counting M&Ms.

#469

Posted by: Dhorvath, OM Author Profile Page | February 10, 2011 4:16 PM

Owlmirror,
Were we to find something like that happening, the universe responding in ways that defy description with current laws, what would we do? We would explore the phenomena and through that learn about whatever is causing it.
I know that natural is a pretty vague term and as a result supernatural as well. That is why a appreciate the distinction made, but I think saying that something is mental versus physical is equally vague and is why I am not keen to start using the definition. What makes me most nervous is that it implicitly allows dualism into an argument and I don't really want to have to fight that battle while using terminology that contradicts my position.

#470

Posted by: heddle Author Profile Page | February 10, 2011 4:17 PM

a_ray_in_dilbert_space,

I already agreed you could never prove the supernatural. This is a question as what event would create confidence in the supernatural. The event I describe would no doubt exceed the threshold of some--but not all. At least I guess it would.

Tulse,

Agreed. Again, my bad wording. We are discussing (at least I was) what is supernatural--which would include god, but could be something less than god.

#471

Posted by: Anri Author Profile Page | February 10, 2011 5:26 PM

That is, if neuroscience demonstrated that all Calvinists shared the same brain abnormality--that would be fairly convicting.

Quick question about this, heddle, if you don't mind.

I hate to put this this way, but isn't accepting Calvinism an abnormal reaction to the world that, by definition, all Calvinists share?
To put it another way, why do you find your story of having your mind altered by an alien being so that you can ascend to a higher plane of existence convincing, while you would (I presume) dismiss the same story told to you at a UFO convention?

#472

Posted by: Owlmirror Author Profile Page | February 10, 2011 5:28 PM

I am missing the boat on this definition--why tie the definition of natural and supernatural to the mind?

Isn't that what people are doing, by implication, when they think of something as supernatural? Do you disagree with what I wrote about what I think you're implying, in my #464?

Carrier's essay goes into more detail about distinguishing between the matter of explicability -- the paranormal -- and the supernatural.

How about the classic "Copyright Yahweh" in 100 languages encoded in our DNA?

When you think about the message getting into the DNA, do you envision Yahweh with a gene synthesizer and petri dishes? Or do you think of it as resulting from Yahweh simply willing the amino acids into position; matterless mind acting on matter?

Also, I am reminded of this, which is amusing.

#473

Posted by: Sastra Author Profile Page | February 10, 2011 5:39 PM

heddle #465 wrote:

I am missing the boat on this definition--why tie the definition of natural and supernatural to the mind?

Because how we view mind is THE critical element in how we distinguish what we categorize as natural from what we categorize as supernatural. The supernatural is supposed to be metaphysically different than the natural, a different type of thing. Whether we can learn about it through objective means or not is really of secondary importance.

Consider Carrier's example of quantum mechanics:

The underlying mechanics of quantum phenomena might be physically beyond all observation and therefore untestable, but no one would then conclude that quantum mechanics is supernatural.

What if you add in the phrase "in principle" so that the underlying mechanism of QM (or String Theory or what have you) is posited to be untestable in principle? Are scientists now obviously talking about something supernatural just because science can never study it?

I don't think so.

Now try binding it up with something about the mind instead:

"The underlying mechanics of quantum phenomenon is now both observable and testable -- and has turned out to be Love." (Or creativity. Or intention. Or Pure Consciousness.)

Which of those two assertions sounds more supernatural to you? The theory with the untestable mechanism or the one where the mechanism is love?

And another relevant question:

Can you give me an example of a (presumed) supernatural phenomenon which is NOT somehow related to the content, powers, products, or effects of Mind?

#474

Posted by: Ing: PhD Trollologist Author Profile Page | February 10, 2011 5:48 PM

@Sastra

Hmmmm Someone who believes in magic and the supernatural but seemingly has no understanding of literary/metaphysical 'magic' versus someone who is rational and beleive in the real world but has a good working knowledge of the concepts of magic.

Interesting.

#475

Posted by: Sastra Author Profile Page | February 10, 2011 5:51 PM

Heddle wrote:

That is, if neuroscience demonstrated that all Calvinists shared the same brain abnormality--that would be fairly convicting.

I don't see this. Everything we think is going to be reflected in the brain anyway. Everybody's brain is different, but will resemble the brains of other people "like them."

Abnormnality. What's normal, exactly?

Hey, what if neuroscience demonstrated that all Calvinists shared the same brain enhancement -- would you find that makes a fairly convincing case for atheism now? Or the opposite?

Too much assumptions loaded into the terms, I think.

#476

Posted by: Owlmirror Author Profile Page | February 10, 2011 5:54 PM

Were we to find something like that happening, the universe responding in ways that defy description with current laws, what would we do? We would explore the phenomena and through that learn about whatever is causing it.

I entirely agree.

I know that natural is a pretty vague term and as a result supernatural as well. That is why a appreciate the distinction made, but I think saying that something is mental versus physical is equally vague and is why I am not keen to start using the definition.

It's less vague, at least. And it covers something that I am pretty sure many people do -- project unconscious assumptions of what minds are and how they work, out into some aspect of the universe at large; assume that intention can somehow -- supernaturally -- become reality.

What makes me most nervous is that it implicitly allows dualism into an argument and I don't really want to have to fight that battle while using terminology that contradicts my position.

It offers a model of dualism as something falsifiable, but unconfirmed despite continuous investigation into brains and minds.

Again, I think the point is to see if the supernaturalist agrees with that conception of the supernatural -- and point out that our current understanding of what minds are does not support the supernaturalist model.

This might not convince them that they are wrong, but it will, perhaps, allow those on both sides of the argument to have a better grasp of what they are disagreeing about.

#477

Posted by: Sastra Author Profile Page | February 10, 2011 5:58 PM

Oops. That is not the normal spelling of abnormality.

#478

Posted by: Dhorvath, OM Author Profile Page | February 10, 2011 6:04 PM

Owlmirror,
Okay, I think I get it. I am trying to find a use for supernatural that is meaningful to me, as opposed to finding a meaning for supernatural that is useful to me. Pin a definition down so that conversation can take place around the definition, yes?

I think that works and will see how it goes down the road. Thanks.

(Oh, the first paragraph in my last reply was an accident, I knew it was ground we had covered, but neglected to omit before I hit submit.)

#479

Posted by: heddle Author Profile Page | February 10, 2011 7:04 PM

et. al.,

I disagree with the supernatural being tied to the mind. I think it depends entirely and only on the laws of physics (including those yet discovered.) If it is explicable by perfect knowledge of the laws of physics then it is natural. If not, it is supernatural--even if there is no mind present to observe or comprehend.

As for the brain abnormality--I meant simply that my conversion experience could have been supernatural, as I contend--or natural/psychological--or due to a brain abnormality such as a lesion or tumor. I can't really distinguish among the three, but maybe someday neuroscience can.

#480

Posted by: Kagato Author Profile Page | February 10, 2011 7:08 PM

Heddle@465

I am missing the boat on this definition--why tie the definition of natural and supernatural to the mind?

Can you think of any examples of typical usage of the term "supernatural", that do not depend on either minds existing independent of physical basis, or minds interacting remotely through no known mechanism?


(Note that even though I'd call things fitting this description "supernatural" -- ghosts, psychics, souls, reincarnation -- I still don't consider them outside the realm of scientific examination. But they would clearly be operating via a mechanism that is disconnected from the rest of the natural world. "Supernatural" is still a reasonable label for such phenomena, even if they are detectable with PKE meters.)

#481

Posted by: Sastra Author Profile Page | February 10, 2011 7:11 PM

heddle #479 wrote:

I disagree with the supernatural being tied to the mind. I think it depends entirely and only on the laws of physics (including those yet discovered.)

Can you then give me some examples of purported supernatural phenomenon which are NOT tied to the mind? Describe one.

Also ... are there no regularities in the supernatural? Is God chaos?

#482

Posted by: Dhorvath, OM Author Profile Page | February 10, 2011 7:29 PM

Heddle,
How do we notice a supernatural event if it doesn't affect the physical universe? If it does, then how is it not part of the knowable laws of physics? Note, I am not saying that we can repeat it, or even accurately predict, but that something has happened physically.

#483

Posted by: Owlmirror Author Profile Page | February 10, 2011 7:31 PM

I disagree with the supernatural being tied to the mind. I think it depends entirely and only on the laws of physics (including those yet discovered.) If it is explicable by perfect knowledge of the laws of physics then it is natural. If not, it is supernatural--even if there is no mind present to observe or comprehend.

Heh. Are you saying that god lacks self-knowledge; indeed, cannot have self-knowledge?

#484

Posted by: Kagato Author Profile Page | February 10, 2011 7:31 PM

Sorry Heddle, you posted while I was writing my reply to your earlier comment. I might have worded it a little differently if I'd seen your post first, but I stand by it.

If it is explicable by perfect knowledge of the laws of physics then it is natural. If not, it is supernatural--even if there is no mind present to observe or comprehend.

While your natural/supernatural division provides two conceptual categories, you can never have sufficient information to definitively put anything in the latter category.

So it's either a meaningless theoretical, or it's fluid dependent on current knowledge, and therefore not a definition at all.

By defining the supernatural as relating to "mind/body dualism and mental action at a distance", you have a category that concepts can definitively be placed into, and includes pretty much every commonly-described supernatural concept (at least as far as I can think of right now).


his mind is able to reach out and have an effect on some external part of the universe
Mine can too, when it's in an fMRI...

No, the fMRI reaches into your mind, does some data analysis and reflects that externally.
Any technological "mind controlled" devices operate by scanning the brain for instructions then taking action themselves.

#485

Posted by: heddle Author Profile Page | February 10, 2011 7:45 PM

I think you are mixing up proving it was supernatural with it being supernatural. The latter is not beholden to our ability. If Jesus came down and walked on water by commanding the water molecules to support him--well we may never be able to prove it was supernatural, but it would be supernatural nonetheless.

#486

Posted by: Tulse Author Profile Page | February 10, 2011 7:53 PM

the fMRI reaches into your mind, does some data analysis and reflects that externally
That is the mental affecting the external, material world -- the fMRI results change (at least in theory) depending upon mental states.

Of course, this doesn't involve supernatural effects at all, since such mental states are grounded in a physical substrate, and do not act independently of the physical world.

#487

Posted by: Dhorvath, OM Author Profile Page | February 10, 2011 7:55 PM

And I think you are saying that if we can't learn how to do something that it is supernatural. Our abilities don't define what is natural, just what is human.

#488

Posted by: Kagato Author Profile Page | February 10, 2011 7:57 PM

But again, it's definitional.

If Jesus was instead focussing his mind to produce beta waves that manipulated an as-yet undiscovered psychokinetic field that permeates the universe, would you then consider that a natural effect? This hypothetic field is there and real; some day we could build an electronic device that could manipulate it.

What if this field is also the mechanism by which God interacts with the universe (and people's minds, such as yours)? Does God cease to be supernatural, now that we've discovered the process through which it works?

#489

Posted by: Owlmirror Author Profile Page | February 10, 2011 8:12 PM

If Jesus came down and walked on water by commanding the water molecules to support him--well we may never be able to prove it was supernatural, but it would be supernatural nonetheless.

Or in other words, Jesus's mind has the ability to affect the water, right? It's not the words of the "command" (sound is just vibration in the air); it's not just the intention (the intention is inside his own head); it's the power of Jesus's mind/intention to reach outside of his head -- by whatever supernatural mechanism -- and affect the water.

Yes?

#490

Posted by: a_ray_in_dilbert_space, OM, A little FUCKING ray of sunshine Author Profile Page | February 10, 2011 8:15 PM

heddle: "If Jesus came down and walked on water by commanding the water molecules to support him--well we may never be able to prove it was supernatural, but it would be supernatural nonetheless."

And if Marvin the Martian came down to Earth wearing a beard and sandles and used his ray gun to get the water molecules to support him and claimed to be Jesus, would that be supernatural? How would you know?

#491

Posted by: Kagato Author Profile Page | February 10, 2011 8:17 PM

That is the mental affecting the external, material world -- the fMRI results change (at least in theory) depending upon mental states.

By that reasoning, so is any time you pick up something with your hands; you're lifting it with the power of your mind! That's not a semantic game I feel like playing.

The only material thing the mind directly affects "externally" is its body, through chemical and electrical impulses. And that's not strictly external, as it is directly connected and there are complex feedback loops.

Even if you implanted some electrodes into the brain, the brain is really only affecting the circuit immediately connected to that; after that, the circuit is driving any further functionality.

#492

Posted by: Anri Author Profile Page | February 10, 2011 8:34 PM

As for the brain abnormality--I meant simply that my conversion experience could have been supernatural, as I contend--or natural/psychological--or due to a brain abnormality such as a lesion or tumor. I can't really distinguish among the three, but maybe someday neuroscience can.

Or, presumably, it could simply be a delusion - an incorrect idea, yes?

I think it's pretty clear that those exist.

Since, as I understand it, you say that you cannot distinguish between brain functions (I don't think being mistaken is a brain malfunction per se), and a 'supernatural' conversion experience, why would you prefer the latter, much less parsimonious explanation?
Do you believe that science stops at the border of your skull, that it has nothing useful to tell you about your thoughts, even when your brain is free of melodramatic lesions and tumors?

To put it another way, if a researcher working in your lab came to you with two explanations, both of which fitted the observed facts, one of which is a known and fairly common phenomena, while the other was not only unobserved but unverifiable, which would you suggest he assume?
And if he steadfastly refused, what might you assume about his ability for critical thinking?

#493

Posted by: Sastra Author Profile Page | February 10, 2011 8:55 PM

heddle #485 wrote:

I think you are mixing up proving it was supernatural with it being supernatural. The latter is not beholden to our ability. If Jesus came down and walked on water by commanding the water molecules to support him--well we may never be able to prove it was supernatural, but it would be supernatural nonetheless.

Ok, I read this a couple times, and I think you've got it backwards: we're the ones trying to define the supernatural by its content, and you're the one trying to define it epistemologically. If it can never be proven, then it's supernatural.

But this way of looking at it leads to the problem you're talking about right now -- whether something is supernatural or not depends not on what the phenomenon is or what actually happened, but on our abilities. It comes down to what we can know, discover, prove, etc. But, as you point out, even if nobody else existed but God, God is still supernatural.

Why? By virtue of the fact that God is mind-like, but not dependent on or reducible to mindless components. Jesus commands the water to support him and physical matter is moved directly through his intention alone. Will as a force in itself. This is psychokensis. A supernatural ability -- though not in theory beyond our ability to test (as Uri Geller has discovered to his chagrin)

#494

Posted by: https://me.yahoo.com/a/O.jullMj0I2VvJaxMMVeNKSfOPf73voLSxJAe9PdlOWwi8Y-#258ec Author Profile Page | February 10, 2011 9:13 PM

fuck supernatural if it exists and we can detect it then it is in nature so therefor natural. if it can not be detected or exist in nature then it must be supernatural. The only things I know that can not exist in nature are the products of our human imagination. supernatural is just another word for "god" make believe is not real. no harry potter no sauron, magic talking toad queen living in a magic hole/cave under the garden. no ghosts of the dead living in heaven across the river Styx no walking on the water by no son of god.
no hulk transformed by Gama radiation
no thousand angles dancing on the head of a pin.

the only things that can be supernatural are those things or events that can not take place or exist. all the speculation is BS.
the only thing that could convince me that god exists that the supernatural exists is for me to be the supernatural god which ain't bloody likely

uncle frogy

#495

Posted by: strange gods before me ॐ homintern radfem Author Profile Page | February 10, 2011 9:16 PM

heddle do you need to have words for it?

#496

Posted by: azumahazuki Author Profile Page | February 10, 2011 9:18 PM

@492

Ahh, but the one thing the presupper can't accept is that he may be deluded. Oh, he can pay lip service to it, but he can't really accept the idea because hs invoked his God, and if he's deluded, why, his God may not exist. Or may exist differently than he wants said God to.

No, the problem isn't the presuppositionalist; it's every other speck of matter in existence. Curse that transworld depravity! But bless it too, because it's another essential presupposition else the entire worldview collapses...

#497

Posted by: Owlmirror Author Profile Page | February 10, 2011 9:51 PM

Hm.

This semantic argument over the term "supernatural" started pretty much from here:

heddle @#203:

One cannot, in my view, arrive at Christianity through reason. One has to be supernaturally dragged into Christianity.

... which was questioned by Mandrellian @#401, responded to by heddle @#406.

Yet, consider. The action presumed to occur is the mind of god acting on the mind of the human. This fits with Carrier's definition for "supernatural" very well.

A sophistimacted Calvinist neuroscientist might even argue that some putative brain-effect -- like temporal lobe epilepsy, or a lesion, or whatever -- is the physical remnant of god acting on the person involved, but the ultimate cause was still, nevertheless, god's mind, bringing about the intended ultimate effect of belief in the mind of the person who now believes.

Hm.

Of course, #203 seems to be in conflict with heddle @#336:

Free choice/free moral agency is either an illusion, albeit a very good one, or supernatural.

While I suppose one could also argue that again, mental effects are involved here, "being dragged" seems to me to be the opposite of "free choice".

#498

Posted by: Sastra Author Profile Page | February 10, 2011 11:24 PM

Owlmirror #497 wrote:

Yet, consider. The action presumed to occur is the mind of god acting on the mind of the human. This fits with Carrier's definition for "supernatural" very well.

I agree. If you take substance dualism, ESP, and PK away from the concept of God, you just don't have anything that resembles the concept of God any more. Even the less personal forms of supernaturalism like Karma and astrology (or whatever the hell God is in process theology) still seem to involve mental-dependent phenomena like "justice" acting down on the material level from a higher mind-like non-material level by exerting its subtle 'influence.' Supernaturalism.

That's one reason I think a rational case for the existence of God would be supported if we had good, solid, testable evidence for substance dualism, ESP, and PK. We might not be able to explain them using the known laws of natural physics, but we could at least scientifically establish that they exist. In theory. And that would be a major shift in how we understand reality.

#499

Posted by: Sastra Author Profile Page | February 10, 2011 11:42 PM

Owlmirror wrote:

While I suppose one could also argue that again, mental effects are involved here, "being dragged" seems to me to be the opposite of "free choice".

It's always seemed to me that a lot of the ideas surrounding God and its relationship to humans rests on an implicit belief that some people have an invisible underlying essence which is similar to God's essence. Like then draws like.

In which case, the saved only make the 'choice' they do -- or need make no choice at all -- because they happen to possess a divine essence which recognizes God as its source or 'parent.' The damned do not have this essence.

And if only the divine is supposed to have value (because it is perfect), then that explains why there would be little or no theological concern for the damned. They are not made of a worthy essence. Or, perhaps, God has not activated the worthy aspect of their essence. So they don't count. They're "dead."

Either way, it's elitism on an untestable, unfalsifiable scale. With some rather unpleasant ethical implications.

#500

Posted by: Anri Author Profile Page | February 10, 2011 11:55 PM

Also, heddle, waaaay back up at #266, you said:

As for justice--what is dispensed instead of justice (for some) is mercy--which is indeed a form of non-justice. The argument there is that some receive justice, some receive mercy, but nobody receives injustice.

Now, of course that's just silly. "What happened to you wasn't just, but it wasn't unjust, either, because... well, because."
If you did not receive what you rightly deserve, you did not receive justice. It might be for any number of reasons, including clemency or escaping from punishment, or refusing reward, but the outcome is the same: justice was not done.

If all humans justly deserve hell, than some humans not going to hell have not been treated justly. And the bible makes a point of saying that god is always just.
Of course, it also makes a point of saying that god is perfectly merciful, which contradicts the 'always just' bit, but hey, I'm not the one assuming the bible is always correct here.

#501

Posted by: Kel, The Privileged View From Nowhere Author Profile Page | February 10, 2011 11:56 PM

Who is an essentialist these days, really?

#502

Posted by: Wowbagger, Man-Hating Man of Pharyngula Author Profile Page | February 11, 2011 12:21 AM

Owlmirror wrote:

While I suppose one could also argue that again, mental effects are involved here, "being dragged" seems to me to be the opposite of "free choice".

I addressed that, albeit facetiously, back at #412; here it is again:

No no no no no no no. You've got it all wrong. His god just making people do something they didn't want to do (i.e. love Jebus) would contravene free will; instead, his god changes you in such a way that you now want to do what you didn't want to do before (i.e. love Jebus), which doesn't contravene free will at all. Not one bit.

That's the substance - if not the tone - of how I've seen heddle respond to that charge in the past, probably somewhere on Dispatches.

And no, I don't believe it makes even a lick of sense.

#503

Posted by: Caine, ghetto féministe Author Profile Page | February 11, 2011 12:35 AM

Wowbagger:

And no, I don't believe it makes even a lick of sense.

No, it doesn't. Of all the things the various flavours of christianity attempt to sell, the whole notion of free will is the one I find the most absurd.

Yes, yes, you have free will! You have a choice! Of course, if you choose wrong, you'll be punished in the most horrible ways for eternity, so it's very important you make the right choice. Of your own free will, of course.

#504

Posted by: azumahazuki Author Profile Page | February 11, 2011 1:21 AM

#499 hit it RIGHT on the head. It took me a while to understand how some of these people were so callous, bordering on psychopathy, but that's the obvious answer.

It's dehumanization on the deepest level possible. It's bad enough to think you can kill someone else because they're a "gook" or a "spic" or a "cracker," but imagine how much LESS regard you'd have for someone you firmly believe was created to be fuel for an eternal fire. The only reason, I think, these Calvinists don't go on Inquisition-style heresy hunts is that they don't believe an unelect can become elect no matter how much torture they're put through.

Very few things produce this mixture of nausea and cold deadness inside, but this is one of them.

#505

Posted by: coughlanbrianm Author Profile Page | February 11, 2011 4:21 AM

@Azumahazuki.

Good call. Though it still strikes me as a kind of mental illness.

The level of detachment, the lack of empathy for other human beings that it must require to consider this ok, or even just resign yourself to it, must be substantial. To then take it to the level of relentlessly - and with some skill - promoting the arguments to support this Über-depressing view reality ... that takes a special kind of deranged.

Although thus far, Narcissistic Asshole has served us well to describe the sufferers of this condition, I suggest we need to coin a more clinical term for the pathology.

I offer the following for consideration :

Cuthulu Adaption Syndrome.
Lovecraftian Narcissistic Personality.
Cuthulian Anxiety Disorder.

I'd be interested in other suggestions.

#506

Posted by: Ing: PhD Trollologist Author Profile Page | February 11, 2011 10:26 AM

In which case, the saved only make the 'choice' they do -- or need make no choice at all -- because they happen to possess a divine essence which recognizes God as its source or 'parent.' The damned do not have this essence.

And if only the divine is supposed to have value (because it is perfect), then that explains why there would be little or no theological concern for the damned. They are not made of a worthy essence. Or, perhaps, God has not activated the worthy aspect of their essence. So they don't count. They're "dead."

Either way, it's elitism on an untestable, unfalsifiable scale. With some rather unpleasant ethical implications.

Which means that salvation has about as much free will involved as a magnet and iron.

The only reason, I think, these Calvinists don't go on Inquisition-style heresy hunts is that they don't believe an unelect can become elect no matter how much torture they're put through.

Actually Calvin DID go that route. Big surprise there. Heddle apparently doesn't see the problem with someone coming up with a presupasitionist claim and when challenged resorts to violence.

Heddle has previously said he WOULD kill, torture, main unbelievers etc if God told him to.

He has also said there's no discernible difference between mental illness and true believing in this regard.

This is the reason why I call him a genocidal shit. Taking him at face value if ordered to he would skin his kid alive, throw him in a tub full of lemon juice, dry him out on a sandbox full of salt and then set him on fire. And he thinks that would be good.

#507

Posted by: Ing: PhD Trollologist Author Profile Page | February 11, 2011 10:28 AM

Narcissistic Nihilist Personality Disorder

#508

Posted by: co Author Profile Page | February 11, 2011 10:45 AM

This is the reason why I call him a genocidal shit. Taking him at face value if ordered to he would skin his kid alive, throw him in a tub full of lemon juice, dry him out on a sandbox full of salt and then set him on fire. And he thinks that would be good.

Damn. That DOES sound good! /homer_simpson_drool

#509

Posted by: Tulse Author Profile Page | February 11, 2011 10:56 AM

Taking him at face value if ordered to he would skin his kid alive, throw him in a tub full of lemon juice, dry him out on a sandbox full of salt and then set him on fire. And he thinks that would be good.
There was this guy called Abraham...
#510

Posted by: Sastra Author Profile Page | February 11, 2011 11:00 AM

coughlanbrianm #505 wrote:

The level of detachment, the lack of empathy for other human beings that it must require to consider this ok, or even just resign yourself to it, must be substantial.

From the ethical standpoint, there may be a saving grace here coming from an unlikely source: the Christian's attachment to the level of detachment we call "compartmentalization." It allows them to keep some empathy and pretend there is still a common ground between Us and Them on a lower level -- the lower level we actually all live on together.

Just as Christians will separate how they think about religion from how they think about everything else, they'll often separate the Divine Truth about how God ought to treat the Damned from how they ought to treat the Damned. There's different rules for this world, and different rules for Humans. Yes, the Damned are, in the ultimate sense, unworthy scum. BUT:

1.) They can't know who is Damned and who is not.
2.) This higher level of separation is God's concern, not theirs.
3.) They have been commanded to be kind and fair to everyone, regardless.
4.) The kind of person someone "really" is will not necessarily show up on the worldly plane, so questions of a person's spiritual worth -- while it is the only REAL way of having value -- can and should be ignored in practice in this life.

This way of dividing the fact that someone is technically less than human from all worldly considerations of the question is inconsistent, sure -- but good thing it's there. Or, rather, there in patches. It can be hard to hold two conflicting opinions at once, and "leaving justice up to God" is tricky when you also think that it is in your ability to understand why some are saved and some are damned AND it is also your obligation to carry out God's will on earth.

Even the belief that salvation is due to no prior merit is tied to the belief that the saved are perforce closer to God than the damned -- and there are some reasonable ways to infer who is who. Keeping up the insistence that this will have no implications in how you treat people is a bit strained.

But at least this compartmentalized approach passes as a good intention from our humanist point of view. Given the unpredictable and divisive system they're using, I think it's the better option.

#511

Posted by: Brownian, Most Vicious & Petty of Pharyngulites Author Profile Page | February 11, 2011 11:07 AM

Actually Calvin DID go that route.

Indeed.

This is the reason why I call him a genocidal shit. Taking him at face value if ordered to he would skin his kid alive, throw him in a tub full of lemon juice, dry him out on a sandbox full of salt and then set him on fire. And he thinks that would be good.

I don't think that Heddle would claim that it is good, in the sense you mean it. (It'd be God's sort of good, and he'd state it in such a way as to make it sound novelly Christian, rather than simply a facile acceptance of one horn of Euthyphro's dilemma.)

I rather suspect he'd claim that it was something he simply had to do because of his relationship with God. And free will.

#512

Posted by: heddle Author Profile Page | February 11, 2011 11:15 AM

Owlmirror,

I don't question that you can discuss "supernatural" as it relates to the mind. You can. But that is but a subset. The broader definition is in relationship to the laws of physics.

yahooer,

fuck supernatural if it exists and we can detect it then it is in nature so therefor natural. if it can not be detected or exist in nature then it must be supernatural

No, that makes no sense at all.

Dhorvath

And I think you are saying that if we can't learn how to do something that it is supernatural.

I never said any such thing. We may never learn how to do quantum gravity--but somehow, in nature, QM and gravity are happily wed. It is not supernatural. What is supernatural, if it exists at all, has nothing to do with us or our abilities. Or our minds.

#513

Posted by: Sastra Author Profile Page | February 11, 2011 11:27 AM

Two major ethical drawbacks to religious reasoning:

From the standpoint of those in the world, it can be used to justify the religious doing a good thing -- but for a bad reason.

From the standpoint of those who have been enlightened above this world, it can be used to justify them doing a bad thing -- but for a good reason.

Being willing to kill on the command of God is an example I think of the second. As long as it really IS God's command, then it's the right thing to do. Being sure you're right isn't enough, though: you have to be sure you're right because you're right to be sure. You get to borrow just a little of God's omniscience, to get you off this hook.

#514

Posted by: Tulse Author Profile Page | February 11, 2011 11:34 AM

As long as it really IS God's command, then it's the right thing to do.
Only if one accepts the Divine Command Theory of ethics (or, in other words, takes the one horn of the Euthyphro Dilemma).
#515

Posted by: coughlanbrianm Author Profile Page | February 11, 2011 11:35 AM

Being sure you're right isn't enough, though: you have to be sure you're right because you're right to be sure.

... and this is the wellspring of all religious conflict and intolerance; the overwhelming sense that one is right. It's also the reason the whole thing has to go and the sooner the better.

Even moderate sects exist in an uneasy state of tolerance with their fellow christians and other religions, the potential for violence and savagery is always lurking just below the veneer of piety.

#516

Posted by: Sastra Author Profile Page | February 11, 2011 11:48 AM

heddle #512 wrote:

I don't question that you can discuss "supernatural" as it relates to the mind. You can. But that is but a subset. The broader definition is in relationship to the laws of physics.

The broader definition has to do with the distinction between a view of reality which believes that some things are irreducibly mental and cannot be described by reductionist laws of physics, and the view that everything mental is ultimately caused by or dependent on the non-mental, and at that level can be described by the laws of physics. In theory.

What is supernatural, if it exists at all, has nothing to do with us or our abilities. Or our minds.

Not OUR minds. The mind-like characteristics of the supernatural. God's mind. It needs one.

Would you be willing to allow someone to take intention, will, emotion, and values out of the definition of God, and call the mindless thing that was left "God?" If you eliminate the possibility of substance dualism, ESP, and PK-- what happens to God?

And, again -- give an example of something supernatural which LACKS a mind-like or mind-dependent component. I don't think you can.

But I can give an example of something supernatural which could be tested and described well-enough by science to be accepted into the descriptive model of reality.

#517

Posted by: Sastra Author Profile Page | February 11, 2011 11:59 AM

coughlanbrianm #515:

... and this is the wellspring of all religious conflict and intolerance; the overwhelming sense that one is right.

No: the believer doesn't count, he's too lowly. God is right, not him. The overwhelming sense of God has taken the believer right out of the picture. From his viewpoint.

#518

Posted by: Brownian, Most Vicious & Petty of Pharyngulites Author Profile Page | February 11, 2011 12:05 PM

The broader definition is in relationship to the laws of physics. ...We may never learn how to do quantum gravity--but somehow, in nature, QM and gravity are happily wed. It is not supernatural. What is supernatural, if it exists at all, has nothing to do with us or our abilities. Or our minds.

I'd like to go with you on this sort of definition of supernatural, Heddle, but I can't seem to get around Sastra's objections.

I'm trying to consider an event that is a possible candidate for being supernatural in an atheistic universe by applying your litmus of explicability by perfect knowledge of the laws of physics. Without the concept of underlying intent (and thus a mind), how is such an event at all distinguishable from a natural, if exceptional event?

Consider, for instance, an asteroid that acts immune to the force of gravity. This asteroid would have to be made of material that is no different in composition or structure from regular, gravity-obeying asteroids, even at the quantum level, as would the space it occupies.

So far, would this be an example of what you're talking about? Sastra, Owlmirror, et al.?

(Note: this is not a loaded question. I've found this discussion of supernatural interesting, and I'd like to see if it's possible for us to hammer out a functional definition, so I'm playing build-a-mental-model-for-testing, because I'm not clever enough to work these out any other way and have read too much Feynman.)

#519

Posted by: Sastra Author Profile Page | February 11, 2011 12:19 PM

Brownian, OM #518 wrote:

Consider, for instance, an asteroid that acts immune to the force of gravity. This asteroid would have to be made of material that is no different in composition or structure from regular, gravity-obeying asteroids, even at the quantum level, as would the space it occupies.
So far, would this be an example of what you're talking about? Sastra, Owlmirror, et al.?

Not yet. All we've got is something which, for some unknown reason, does not seem to behaving in accordance with the known laws of physics. Scientists would be puzzled, but excited. They might consider it an exception to the rest of nature, but they would not consider the asteroid supernatural.

I'll make a guess as to who would consider the asteroid supernatural, though -- and why. Ordinary folks. Because they would assume that asteroid is behaving the way it does for a reason: meaning, a human-centric, mind-related psychological kind of reason. It is trying to tell us something, or show us something about our behaviors or values or place in the universal hierarchy or meaning. It has intention or is being moved by an Intention. It has a goal or is being moved by a Goal. It is intimately connected to love, hate, progress, disapproval, approval.

And then they would look for a way to connect their 'hypothesis' to the movements of the asteroid and what's going on with people. And, like astrologers, discover that they were right! It's all connected!

They'll think scientists aren't looking at this thing the right way.

#520

Posted by: Owlmirror Author Profile Page | February 11, 2011 12:24 PM

I don't question that you can discuss "supernatural" as it relates to the mind. You can. But that is but a subset. The broader definition is in relationship to the laws of physics.

The laws of physics are what describe the actions of the physical universe, right?

But the actions of a putative god also affect the actions of the physical universe, right?

So aren't the actions of the putative god part of the laws of physics -- even if we cannot, by our own efforts, discover what those actions are or how they work?

As Sastra asked @#481 -- are you saying that god is chaos and does not have any aspect of law about his actions?

What is supernatural, if it exists at all, has nothing to do with us or our abilities. Or our minds.

As Sastra points out, supernatural doesn't necessarily mean "our minds". The point is the effect of "something mindlike that isn't physical".

As a Christian, are you not also a substance dualist?

#521

Posted by: Brownian, Most Vicious & Petty of Pharyngulites Author Profile Page | February 11, 2011 12:31 PM

Not yet. All we've got is something which, for some unknown reason, does not seem to behaving in accordance with the known laws of physics. Scientists would be puzzled, but excited. They might consider it an exception to the rest of nature, but they would not consider the asteroid supernatural.

That's, of course, what I'm trying to puzzle out. We can posit a theoretically perfect knowledge of physics that somehow rules this event as supernatural, but can we actually determine how this event would be ruled in violation of the natural laws? Especially when we know the laws of physics in the universe do allow for single, unusual events?

What distinguishes the event that happens according to new, hitherto undetected rules of nature from one that violates the rules of nature? Simply saying we'd know if we were omniscient physicists doesn't cut it.

#522

Posted by: Brownian, Most Vicious & Petty of Pharyngulites Author Profile Page | February 11, 2011 12:42 PM

Part of my reason for understanding these laws, and how they can be violated relates to Sastra's concept of the chaos god, and of course, any god who is truly omnipotent must be chaotic, as if any form of causality is allowed, then causality effectively doesn't exist, and there is no reason to do anything as opposed to anything else. So a god that isn't chaotic must obey laws.

The only way (that I can see) out of this trap is note that intent is what matters, and that invokes mind.

But without mind/intent, I can't see any meaningful definition of supernatural.

#523

Posted by: Owlmirror Author Profile Page | February 11, 2011 12:45 PM

Consider, for instance, an asteroid that acts immune to the force of gravity. This asteroid would have to be made of material that is no different in composition or structure from regular, gravity-obeying asteroids, even at the quantum level, as would the space it occupies.

So far, would this be an example of what you're talking about? Sastra, Owlmirror, et al.?

Carrier, in his essay, makes a distinction between the what I think you're describing in this example, which I think he would call paranormal, and what he calls supernatural.

The point isn't that a thing acts like something that no-one has ever seen before. The point is that people infer that something is acting in a certain way because of something that is mindlike that is not physical. And it's useful to describe this way that people think of the matter as "supernatural"; if the way they thought of things were actually the case, and show that this view of the world isn't supported by what we know of how the world actually works.

I think Dhorvath got it @#478.

#524

Posted by: mikerattlesnake Author Profile Page | February 11, 2011 12:58 PM

I don't think we'll ever have an acceptable definition for "supernatural" as it relates to our world, because the supernatural simply doesn't exist. We can't square it with the real world because it's just not compatible. Trying to postulate a plausible supernatural event is the same as imagining an impossible thing happening: once the impossible happens, it's no longer impossible. The occurance of an impossible or supernatural event is, in and of itself, a contradiction.

Heddle's "supernatural event" is better explained by natural phenomena in his brain, and there's no reason anyone with any sense would postulate otherwise... unless they have an insatiable need to feel special.

#525

Posted by: Sastra Author Profile Page | February 11, 2011 12:59 PM

Brownian, OM #521 wrote:

What distinguishes the event that happens according to new, hitherto undetected rules of nature from one that violates the rules of nature?

A very good question -- but I'm taking the approach that it doesn't matter. Not in the specific context of what it means for something to be "supernatural" as opposed to "natural."

It's moot. Even if there was some way to tell that this asteroid isn't just operating through new laws of nature but is instead actually violating them, my contention is that it wouldn't even be loosely classified as "proof that the supernatural exists" -- not as long as it appears to lack any mental, intentional or experiential qualities.

heddle's definition (which to be fair is not just 'his' definition, but a popular one) doesn't really track with how the concept is actually used in practice. You got a rock that's just going around here and there for no apparent reason, either physical or psychological? People might then say that the asteroid is "outside of Nature." Or they might just extend the boundaries of Nature to different types of nature. You can play around with lines because we draw them.

But it's not "super" unless it's "better." Higher. Morals, meaning, thoughts, desires, values, goals -- the realm of Mind. The important stuff we relate to. That's the boundary that matters. Everything else is "just" matter-in-motion.

#526

Posted by: Brownian, Most Vicious & Petty of Pharyngulites Author Profile Page | February 11, 2011 1:00 PM

The point isn't that a thing acts like something that no-one has ever seen before. The point is that people infer that something is acting in a certain way because of something that is mindlike that is not physical.

Yes, but Heddle clearly disagrees, and I'm trying to go with him on his definition to see if it works. So far, to me it doesn't, but I'll allow he may have some thoughts that fix this.

#527

Posted by: https://me.yahoo.com/a/O.jullMj0I2VvJaxMMVeNKSfOPf73voLSxJAe9PdlOWwi8Y-#258ec Author Profile Page | February 11, 2011 1:10 PM

heddle you said that what I said about the supernatural makes no sense. That is because the idea of the supernatural makes no sense. There has been exactly the same evidence for the supernatural as there has been for gods. in fact supernatural implies god. all discussions of what these terms or ideas what ever they are always go off into hopeless abstraction, terms like supernatural, mystical, and my personal least favorite spiritual, soul when not referring to music all of them only exist in the human mind in the human imagination as language words that are tied up deeply with emotional experience. this whole subject religion faith is the result of trying to describe or define what it is to be alive to experience being alive. It tries to do that with out the benefit of any objective evidence it is based only on emotional experience and emotional interpretation of the experience of being alive. Then making up words and ideas to try and explain it. the discussions always just go around and around because what the discussion is about are things that do not and by definition can not exist in nature. if they do then where is the evidence, if they do then they are natural and must follow "natural laws"

if what I am saying makes no sense it is because the subject makes no sense.
existence has not been seen to be the result of "spells" or magic.

uncle frogy

#528

Posted by: Sastra Author Profile Page | February 11, 2011 1:16 PM

Brownian, OM #522 wrote:

So a god that isn't chaotic must obey laws.

Yes -- and, as you note, those "laws" -- described regularities -- are all mental or moral. God may be the "source" of moral law, but moral law is also supposed to be its very nature or essence. God could not be different than it is.

God can't lie. God can't be less than perfect. God can't do wrong. God can't be unfair. Category violations run amok as the need for regular consistency requires not only that God is good, but that God is Goodness itself.

The supernatural can violate physical laws because it either sets or follows mental laws. It's not chaos: its regularities can be described. So why wouldn't we call it another part of Nature? Because the assumption of mind-vs.-matter duality is built into the way we distinguish nature from super-nature.

Hence, I propose a general rule that covers all and thus distinguishes naturalism from supernaturalism: If naturalism is true, everything mental is caused by the nonmental, whereas if supernaturalism is true, at least one thing is not. (Carrier)
#529

Posted by: https://me.yahoo.com/a/O.jullMj0I2VvJaxMMVeNKSfOPf73voLSxJAe9PdlOWwi8Y-#258ec Author Profile Page | February 11, 2011 2:02 PM

sastra said "The supernatural can violate physical laws because it either sets or follows mental laws. It's not chaos: its regularities can be described. So why wouldn't we call it another part of Nature? Because the assumption of mind-vs.-matter duality is built into the way we distinguish nature from super-nature. "

why should we assume that when we have no objective evidence that anything we could describe as supernatural has ANY existence outside of our minds and language?

uncle frogy

#530

Posted by: Brownian, Most Vicious & Petty of Pharyngulites Author Profile Page | February 11, 2011 2:08 PM

Yes -- and, as you note, those "laws" -- described regularities -- are all mental or moral. God may be the "source" of moral law, but moral law is also supposed to be its very nature or essence. God could not be different than it is.

God can't lie. God can't be less than perfect. God can't do wrong. God can't be unfair. Category violations run amok as the need for regular consistency requires not only that God is good, but that God is Goodness itself.

Well, I'll allow for a god that isn't Goodness itself, or if it is, a Goodness we can't comprehend and wouldn't call Goodness. But, what I meant by a chaotic god without intent is the nonsensicality of the mechanisms by which things happen. Causality means nothing to a truly omnipotent god (and anything less than a truly omnipotent god is simply a being operating according to physical laws we don't yet comprehend, unless you want to posit a god who can break some physical laws with impunity but not others, and how are those constraints codified?): any outcome that god desires can be achieved by any action: want to smash two planets together? Plant a flower in a different universe. Or make a sandwich. Or create a race of sentient sandwiches. There is no relationship between cause and effect. You're omnipotent—the rules of physics need not apply.

Unless you're willing to invoke intent. Then, at least, it makes sense to say "God wanted those two planets to collide, and somehow achieved it." The mechanism is still irrelevant; but now the outcome is worth considering.

But even this runs into problems: how do we measure outcomes and claim they're the object of god's intent? Why regularities of apparent causality at all, if not for an observer with a mind to find regularity in the universe, which god itself has no need for?

No, there's no way to escape the concept of mind, if supernaturalism exists.

But, what are these laws of mind?

#531

Posted by: Sastra Author Profile Page | February 11, 2011 2:21 PM

uncle frogy #529 wrote:

why should we assume that when we have no objective evidence that anything we could describe as supernatural has ANY existence outside of our minds and language?

Maybe for the same reason we can describe what a unicorn is supposed to be, if a unicorn existed ... which it doesn't but if it did this is what it's supposed to be.

Feel free to sprinkle frequent scare quotes and disclaimer words (like 'presumably,' 'as they say,' 'supposedly,' 'according to its supporters,' 'purportedly') throughout my descriptions of the hypothetical so-called "supernatural." There is objective evidence for both unicorns and God: it's just that it's BAD objective evidence which fails to support.

#532

Posted by: Sastra Author Profile Page | February 11, 2011 2:42 PM

Brownian, OM #530 wrote:

There is no relationship between cause and effect. You're omnipotent—the rules of physics need not apply.
Unless you're willing to invoke intent. Then, at least, it makes sense to say "God wanted those two planets to collide, and somehow achieved it." The mechanism is still irrelevant; but now the outcome is worth considering.

Yes, which is why I agree that you've got to have some concept of mind or intention or fairness driving the supernatural in reasonable directions which make sense, or it's just unconnected randomness.

But even this runs into problems: how do we measure outcomes and claim they're the object of god's intent?

A big problem, but one that might start out as a smaller problem: how would we measure the outcomes and form a testable hypothesis/reasonable conclusion that those bent spoons were the object of Uri Geller's spoon-bending intentions alone? Assuming, per uncle frogy, that such was the case, which it wasn't.

Why regularities of apparent causality at all, if not for an observer with a mind to find regularity in the universe, which god itself has no need for?

I think God needs to be formed in our image, and we need regularities, so it does too. For all its presumed super-specialness, God is pretty pedestrian. Every time some lofty theologian tries to explain how God is so very different from us, they sound like they've been chewing on Thesaurus entries for "mystery" and "excitement" after getting drunk.

#533

Posted by: a_ray_in_dilbert_space, OM, A little FUCKING ray of sunshine Author Profile Page | February 11, 2011 3:00 PM

Sastra,
It is one thing to form a picture of a unicorn in my head as I read a fairy tale. However, if I am to ascertain if there is a unicorn in the real world, I had better know how to tell the difference between a unicorn and a horse with a narwhal tusk superglued to its head...or treated with some sort of biotech that causes a horn to grow...

It just seems to me that trying to define "supernatural" as whatever is not natural is begging the question. In practice, we would never run out of hypotheses to test that were natural, or if we did, shame on our imagination.

#534

Posted by: https://me.yahoo.com/a/O.jullMj0I2VvJaxMMVeNKSfOPf73voLSxJAe9PdlOWwi8Y-#258ec Author Profile Page | February 11, 2011 3:04 PM

OK I thought it was supposed to make sense and I did not see the quotes and disclaimers and found myself giving in to the irritation of talking about things that do not exist or at least have no credible evidence for existing as being real in some sense.

uncle frogy

#535

Posted by: Owlmirror Author Profile Page | February 11, 2011 3:30 PM

why should we assume that when we have no objective evidence that anything we could describe as supernatural has ANY existence outside of our minds and language?

Technically, we shouldn't. Keep in mind that what we're discussing here only makes sense as a way of understanding a category mistake.

Maybe putting it this way would help: I've seen it suggested that there's a distinction between philosophical concepts, and anthropological ones. The distinction is psychological, semantic, and linguistic, not "real". Going by a strict philosophical reasoning from basic axioms, monism is the only perspective that is actually coherent. But humans don't necessarily argue from basic axioms, and do commit category mistakes that revolve around the intentional stance, resulting in more or less incoherent dualism.

Using Carrier's definition, as "wrong" as it may be from a philosophical perspective, does work from an anthropological perspective; from the type of general category mistake that people tend to make. And it does allow us to claim the philosophical high ground from there: "OK, this is what you think might be true. There's no evidence for it, but that's what you claim is, in some way, true. We reject it, but if you can come up with something that supports it beyond your bare assertions and contradictory logic, then you'll have justified it, and falsified naturalism."

There is objective evidence for both unicorns and God: it's just that it's BAD objective evidence which fails to support.

I think this is going too far. There are claims and concepts out there. There isn't evidence. I think. Hm.

Maybe putting it this way:

There is evidence of unicorns -- for the weakest definition of "unicorn"; an animal with a single horn.

There is evidence of God -- for the weakest definition of "God"; "everything that exists". But for stronger definitions -- anything involving a person; a mind; an intelligence ... there is no evidence.

#536

Posted by: Sastra Author Profile Page | February 11, 2011 4:38 PM

A-ray_in_dilbert_space, OM #533 wrote:

It just seems to me that trying to define "supernatural" as whatever is not natural is begging the question. In practice, we would never run out of hypotheses to test that were natural, or if we did, shame on our imagination.

Exactly. If we're to make any sense whatsoever of what the "supernatural" is supposed to be -- and why we don't think it exists -- we have to come up with actual characteristics which make it metaphysically distinct from what's "natural." For a while I was playing around with eliminating the terms altogether -- and instead just talking about mind/body dualism or vitalism, and why and how they were thrown out of the common assumptions held by the Educated Intellectual, and relegated to the ghettos of religion and spirituality.

#537

Posted by: Dhorvath, OM Author Profile Page | February 11, 2011 4:38 PM

heddle

I never said any such thing. We may never learn how to do quantum gravity--but somehow, in nature, QM and gravity are happily wed. It is not supernatural. What is supernatural, if it exists at all, has nothing to do with us or our abilities. Or our minds.

Yes, what you said was this:

I think you are mixing up proving it was supernatural with it being supernatural. The latter is not beholden to our ability. If Jesus came down and walked on water by commanding the water molecules to support him--well we may never be able to prove it was supernatural, but it would be supernatural nonetheless.

Clearly indicates something happening, Jesus supported by water, as a result of a cause, Jesus has willed it to be so. My objection is that just because we are not capable of affecting nature in the same way as Jesus doesn't make how he does so supernatural. I guess my fundamental problem is that I would consider Jesus to be natural, even were he walking around with a skillset that no other being in the cosmos has, he still operates within nature. You on the other hand seem to make a distinction that because we can't learn to replicate his actions they become supernatural and I don't follow that.
Your quantum gravity example is an example of how I view things like this, I know that something happens and as near as I can figure it doesn't make sense, but that doesn't mean it is supernatural because it is happening. If we have no way of showing that something is supernatural, but we can show that it has happened, then to my mind it is natural, which is where you make a distinction that I cannot understand how you justify.

#538

Posted by: Ing: PhD Trollologist Author Profile Page | February 11, 2011 4:44 PM

Only if one accepts the Divine Command Theory of ethics (or, in other words, takes the one horn of the Euthyphro Dilemma).

He confirmed this in previous comments he had made on science blogs.

#539

Posted by: Tulse Author Profile Page | February 11, 2011 4:58 PM

Perhaps I've read too much science fiction, but my intuitions are that various mental phenomena, if demonstrated, wouldn't necessarily be considered "supernatural". There is a long history in "hard" SF of psionics, telepathy, telekinesis, etc. etc. etc. These are not presented as "magic", but merely as capabilities that arise in a physical universe.

Now, this doesn't mean that such capabilities would be possible in a purely natural universe, any more than, say, faster-than-light travel may be. But just as we don't consider FTL, or the Star Trek transporter, to be "magic" in that context, in many fictional settings we don't consider mental states that impact on the external physical world to be magic either. I think this is just another example of the incoherence of the concept of "supernatural" as a whole.

He confirmed this in previous comments he had made on science blogs.
Heddle certainly believes in Divine Command Theory, but my comment was directed to Sastra's characterization, which seemed to imply this was the only interpretation of a god's orders.
#540

Posted by: Owlmirror Author Profile Page | February 11, 2011 5:38 PM

Perhaps I've read too much science fiction, but my intuitions are that various mental phenomena, if demonstrated, wouldn't necessarily be considered "supernatural". There is a long history in "hard" SF of psionics, telepathy, telekinesis, etc. etc. etc. These are not presented as "magic", but merely as capabilities that arise in a physical universe.

Now, this doesn't mean that such capabilities would be possible in a purely natural universe, any more than, say, faster-than-light travel may be. But just as we don't consider FTL, or the Star Trek transporter, to be "magic" in that context, in many fictional settings we don't consider mental states that impact on the external physical world to be magic either. I think this is just another example of the incoherence of the concept of "supernatural" as a whole.

Sigh. Yes --- and also, no.

Once again, here is the point that I've been trying to make: If that which Carrier is distinguishing and defining as "supernatural" were actually real, it wouldn't really make sense, from a philosophical perspective, to distinguish between it and the natural. From a philosophical perspective, all real things have a nature; hence all things are natural.

But we don't have reason to think that Carrier's "supernatural" is real. We do have reason to think that it's a common category mistake made by humans -- and giving that category mistake a label of "supernatural" makes sense from the anthropological perspective of discussing the issue with humans who are making the category mistake.

Does that help, or have I confused things even more?

#541

Posted by: Tulse Author Profile Page | February 11, 2011 6:09 PM

Owlmirror, your point makes sense, but I think the issues is that we're discussing what to do with folks who do believe in the reality of the supernatural. In such cases, I don't think it's helpful to just tell them that it is a category error without making clear how, or at least trying to parse the notion in some way that exposes the philosophical problems.

But perhaps I'm missing your deeper argument here.

#542

Posted by: Dhorvath, OM Author Profile Page | February 11, 2011 7:21 PM

The problem that I am having is that Heddle seems to be assuming something exists which is not explicable via natural laws and that is what he terms supernatural. He has rejected the mind distinction so I am now trying to understand how we would ever come to the conclusion that something is supernatural as he is using the term.

#543

Posted by: Owlmirror Author Profile Page | February 13, 2011 11:58 PM

Owlmirror, your point makes sense, but I think the issues is that we're discussing what to do with folks who do believe in the reality of the supernatural. In such cases, I don't think it's helpful to just tell them that it is a category error without making clear how, or at least trying to parse the notion in some way that exposes the philosophical problems.

Well...

The sort of discussion we're having (or were trying to have) with heddle is the point. Someone brings up the term "supernatural", and we try and figure out what that even means. Or if it can mean anything.

I try and offer both perspectives [Carrier definition/philosophical incoherence of the general term] when discussing just to clarify the possible stances on the various meanings of the term. Calling the supernatural a category error is really more for the philosophical benefit of those who are already not dualists.

It's interesting that heddle didn't want to accept the Carrier definition, but offered examples that really only made sense in light of that very definition. And then didn't want to discuss the matter further, leaving the definitional incoherence just hanging there.

*shrug*

#544

Posted by: Brownian, Most Vicious & Petty of Pharyngulites Author Profile Page | February 14, 2011 11:32 AM

It's interesting that heddle didn't want to accept the Carrier definition, but offered examples that really only made sense in light of that very definition. And then didn't want to discuss the matter further, leaving the definitional incoherence just hanging there.
*shrug*

I'm tempted to find it telling given his frequent denouncements of atheist positions as theologically and metaphysically unsound. What are we to make of someone who criticises us as philosophically unsophisticated while at the same time admitting that his belief system is irrational (apparently made so on purpose by his deity, in fact) and bailing on any conversation in which metaphysical assertions are actually examined in depth?

#545

Posted by: heddle Author Profile Page | February 14, 2011 2:39 PM

Owlmirror,

It's interesting that heddle didn't want to accept the Carrier definition, but offered examples that really only made sense in light of that very definition.

Again, I disagree. I am offering a definition of supernatural (not originating with me of course--in fact just take the first dictionary.com definition--that works for me) that has nothing to do with philosophy or the mind. It is entirely physics based. So why does it only make sense in light of the Carrier definition? I don't get it.

#546

Posted by: Owlmirror Author Profile Page | February 14, 2011 5:12 PM

I am offering a definition of supernatural (not originating with me of course--in fact just take the first dictionary.com definition--that works for me) that has nothing to do with philosophy or the mind. It is entirely physics based.

You mean, it is not-physics-based; it is a negative concept based on the negation of the science of physics. Anything that can be known about physical laws in principle is not supernatural -- yes?

The problem is that this definition is both vague, and implicitly contradictory when it comes to the (putative) positive "thing" that is supernatural -- god.

Does god not know what it is that god does? Would god describe itself as supernatural, by that definition? Does god not operate by some thing that can be described as lawful -- even if only god knows what those laws are?


So why does it only make sense in light of the Carrier definition?

Not the definition per se, but the examples you gave certainly seemed to imply that god is a mind-like being that is non-physical, and can operate on and in the physical world by using mind-like powers.

See my #464, #472, and #489, at the very least. Or some of Sastra's clarifications, especially #516.

Do you disagree with that?

As a Christian, do you not agree that you are also a substance dualist? Even if you don't think it applies to human minds (why not?) -- would you disagree that god is more like a non-physical mind than like a mind that can be described as physical, or arising from the physical?

#547

Posted by: Uglyhip Author Profile Page | February 16, 2011 9:04 PM

I certainly don't take "scientism" to be a slur, not if it's synonymous with "empiricism".

Even the assertion "Blue Oyster Cult is a good band" can be answered scientifically — just as soon as it is phrased scientifically. For example, it usually means something like "I like Blue Oyster Cult", which can, if one were sufficiently curious, be empirically evidenced, if perhaps not proven. Other meanings are more problematic…

It's a Deep Thought problem — when your question is not empirical, neither science nor anything else can help give its "real" answer.

"What is the meaning of life, the universe, and everything?"

"Life: An object with the ability to perform self-sustaining biological processes…"

In any case, the cake people can't have and eat too is the claim that something (say, homeopathy, or artistic achievements) is "true for me, whatever your rationalism might say, I'm only taking about a personal experience"… and that anyone disputing it is objectively wrong or "close-minded". That's not consistent.

Most of the times "scientism" is brought up, it's when people desire the laxity we reasonably grant to aesthetic and emotional preferences — coupled with the privilege of being right.

#548

Posted by: Brownian, Most Vicious & Petty of Pharyngulites Author Profile Page | February 22, 2011 11:13 AM

Really? This half-literate fuck, this rip-off artist, this airport paperback hack writes some tawdry 'judgment porn' with all the depth of a Reader's Digest "Drama in Real Life" feature, and WE'RE the ones accused of not treating theology seriously enough?

Dear Christianity: get fucked.

#549

Posted by: Brownian, Most Vicious & Petty of Pharyngulites Author Profile Page | February 22, 2011 11:19 AM

Ugh, wrong post.

Just dropped in to see if Heddle bothered to engage with those posters he found 'worthy'.

I see the only discourse he finds 'worthy' is that in which he gets to laugh and play Courtier's Reply.

Looks like Owlmirror's and Sastra's questions were too hard for religion to answer.

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