Haggstrom States it Plain

Continuing my perusal of the new Notices of the American Mathematical Society, I came across this review (PDF format) of John Allen Paulos recent book Irreligion: A Mathematician Explains Why the Arguments for God Just Don’t Add Up. The review is by mathematician Olle Haggstrom. Paulos’ book has been sitting on my shelf for a while, but I have not yet gotten around to reading it. My impression from flipping through it is that it will provide nothing new to people familiar with these arguments, but provides a decent overview for people only vaguely familiar with them.

Haggstrom’s review is mostly positive. I especially liked this:

I like Paulos’ method, which in most cases makes it evident not only that the stripped-down versions of the arguments fail, but also that no refinement or elaboration will save them from their central shortcomings. Not everyone agrees, however. In a negative review of Irreligion in the New York Times, Jim Holt dismises Paulos as attacking straw men and failing to consider the much more sophisticated arguments embraced by contemporary theologians and philosophers of religion. H. Allen Orr, in the New York Review of Books, files the same complaint against Richard Dawkins’ best-selling The God Delusion. Neither Holt nor Orr provide any specific references, however, so readers are left to search the theological literature on their own. But are the alleged so-much-better arguments anywhere to be found? Frankly I suspect that Holt and Orr simply mistake verbosity for profundity.

My kind of guy! Alas, he spoils the effect somewhat by closing his review with some gratuitous, and deeply silly, slaps at Richard Dawkins. But I want this to be a happy post, so I won’t get into that.

Incidentally, Jim Holt’s review is available here. I had to laugh when I read this:

The classic arguments for the existence of God have few friends these days. Theologians scorn them, insisting that they “objectify” a Supreme Being that can be known only through self-revelation. Philosophers make a parlor game of dissecting their logic.

Someone should tell that to the editors of Christianity Today, who recently devoted a cover story to those very arguments. Looks like they have some friends, wouldn’t you say?

Comments

  1. #1 Blake Stacey
    July 29, 2008

    Paulos had some material on cellular automata and such which might be new to a fair number of people.

  2. #2 fongooly
    July 29, 2008

    Leni would like this part of Holt’s book review:
    “Paulos misses most of that. Just when the going ought to get good, intellectually speaking, he bales out with a jokey allusion to self-fellating yogis.”

  3. #3 Collin Brendemuehl
    July 29, 2008

    I’ve requested the book from our interlibrary loan. Might be interesting. Jason’s remarks seem to indicate that he is dealing with evidentialism. Does he interact with presuppositionalism or reformed epistemology?

    Collin

  4. #4 Kalia's little brother
    July 29, 2008

    I read Paulos’ book, and you are right, there’s not much new in it. For the most part he avoided including much math, which is the one thing that would have given it a novel angle. One exception is commentary on the probabilities involved in the Bible Code nonsense.

  5. #5 fongooly
    July 29, 2008

    Collin,
    Presumptivism is the putative standard of proof evoked.

  6. #6 Pseudonym
    July 29, 2008

    OK, I can’t leave it alone. What was “deeply silly” about the closing comments about Dawkins’ book?

    I agree with “gratuitous”; there was no need to dissect all of the counter-objections from TGD in a review about Irreligion. It would have made an interesting article (or, Haggstrom argues, an interesting chapter in Irreligion), but it’s glaringly out of place here.

    On the other hand, Haggstrom was entirely correct to point out that Irreligion skims over (“paying lip service to” is the phrase used) bad mathematical arguments against the existence of a deity, such as can be found in TGD. That would indeed have been a valuable addition to the book.

  7. #7 AL
    July 30, 2008

    Somehow, I doubt that modern theologians scorn arguments for God in favor of the idea God can only be known through personal revelation. This would put theologians out of business and would cast guys like Pat Robertson (who claims to have personal revealed conversations with the Lord) as the sophisticated defenders of the faith.

  8. #8 Josh
    July 30, 2008

    Man, Orr is a great biologist but a misguided religionist :(

  9. #9 Collin Brendemuehl
    July 30, 2008

    Al,
    Pat Robertson is hardly considered one of the “sophisticated” apologists of today or even a really good theologian. He is popular, and that’s all.

  10. #10 SLC
    July 30, 2008

    Re Richard Dawkins

    One cannot understand Prof. Dawkins position relative to the existence of a supreme being or intelligence without discussing his premises.

    1. Prof. Dawkins considers the existence of an intelligence in the universe to be a scientific proposition.

    2. Like fundamentalists such as Mr. Jon S who used to post comments on this blog, Prof. Dawkins takes the position that the Christian and Hebrew bibles are to be taken literally. Thus, when these volumes make scientific claims, these claims are subject to verification/falsification, just like any other scientific claims.

    With regards to proposition 1 above, Prof. Dawkins claims that there is no reproducible scientific evidence of the existence of a supreme intelligence in the universe. Thus far, the best scientific argument that has been raised is the notion of fine tuning. However, physicist Victor Stenger has shown that the proponents of this notion have failed to recognize that the set of fundamental constants constitutes a multivariate system such that a change in one of them could be compensated for by changes in others. Another objection that the critics of this notion have raised is the possibility that there is a multiverse of many universes, each with its own set of fundamental constants and that we happen to live in the one with a set consistent with the arising of organic life.

    With regard to proposition 2 above, there are numerous claims made in the scriptures that are in conflict with the laws of physics. The most obvious example is the claim that the prophet Joshua caused the sun to stand still in the sky for a day.

    a. The wording indicates that the writers believed that the sun revolved around the earth, which is known to be erroneous.

    b. If such a thing happened, the earths rotation would have ceased causing any number of calamities, no evidence for which is observed. I addition, in order to accommodate the claim that the Sun stood still, the earths’ revolution around the Sun would also have to be arrested for a day. Since this would have caused the earth to immediately fall into the sun due to the loss of centrifugal force to compensate for the suns’ gravity, we know this didn’t happen either.

    Thus, Dawkins states that the fact that the scriptures make scientifically invalid claims proves that they could not have been the result of revelations from a supreme intelligence and as such constitute a falsification of that premise.

  11. #11 Pseudonym
    July 30, 2008

    SLC, I agree with you that this is one of Dawkins’ arguments, and it is a valid conclusion from debatable premises, albeit ones that most fundamentalists would accept. I don’t propose to debate those premises here, though I do agree that the argument effectively proves that fundamentalist Judeo-Christian-Islamic religion (or, indeed, any religion whose sacred texts describe unscientific events) is not intellectually defensible.

    Incidentally, if that’s what you’re trying to prove, then first fundamentalist premise that the existence of God is a scientific question (which is, after all, pretty much what the Discovery Institute is trying to argue) is not necessary. It’s sufficient (and not hard) to show that the sacred texts in question are self-contradictory when interpreted literally, or that later texts in the collection don’t always interpret earlier texts literally.

    But I digress. This is not the specific argument that Haggstrom talks about in the review. He instead deals with the “Why the Judeo-Christian god almost certainly does not exist” argument which, he points out, is also based on “shaky” premises, some of which are essentially identical to those that Dembski relies on in The Design Inference.

    Yes, I thought that going into the detail that he did was unnecessary. He probably felt in a bind there: If you don’t give enough detail, you’re making assertions with out evidence, and if you do, you’re going off-topic.

    Nonetheless, I thought that the point was well-made that if you’re going to smack down sloppy reasoning for God, you might as well point out that there’s also sloppy reasoning against God.

  12. #12 Josh
    July 30, 2008

    To people who question the 747 argument, I want to say some things…

    1)It certainly does seem like increasing complexity brings about lower probability of occurrence; in fact, that is one of Dawkins’ main points in many of his books. He argues, as he does in TGD, that the only known explanation for high levels of improbable complexity is Darwinian evolution. I’m open to this assertion being wrong, but I don’t see where it is false.

    2)The Judeo Christian god is not a god that “evolved in an other universe” as Haggstrom puts it. It is a god that has always been and always will be, and has always had all the power that it has now. To say anything else is so fargone from anything resembling scripture that you might as well make up your own religion. When Dawkins talks about the Judeo-Christian god, he means just that! Where do we get off saying “Well, it doesn’t apply to this or that alteration”? Those simply tend to no longer be recognizable as the Judeo-Christian god.

    3)On a similar note, the statement that Dawkins’ argument only applies to fundamentalist religion is ludicrous. I think this has been well addressed in atheologica: if you are going to say that some parts of the bible are true, and some parts aren’t (and are instead fairy tales or fables or morals), you better be able to provide me with some objective criterion for determining which parts are true and false. If that objective criterion is “Oh, well we found out that this part is false through science”, then that doesn’t count. Why doesn’t that count? Because it is, essentially, a god of the gaps type of argument, in which the bits of truth in the bible hide in between the glaring holes and huge deficiencies. I can’t possibly imagine that we should take the word of such a book that Jesus is Lord simply because we did not live 2000 years ago to empirical document his Lordship.

    I think any atheist would still happily consider themselves an atheist if it came to pass that there were some huge intelligence in the universe that evolved naturalistically. Unfortunately, that is no one’s conception of the Judeo-Christian god and is no one’s conception of any omnigod.

  13. #13 Blake Stacey
    July 31, 2008

    josh:

    I think any atheist would still happily consider themselves an atheist if it came to pass that there were some huge intelligence in the universe that evolved naturalistically.

    I suppose that depends on where you draw the line between gods and “sufficiently advanced aliens” (cue William Shatner asking, “What does God need with a starship?”). Of course, per His Dark Materials, we might have to kill that naturalistically evolved god, anyway.

  14. #14 Pseudonym
    July 31, 2008

    Josh:

    On a similar note, the statement that Dawkins’ argument only applies to fundamentalist religion is ludicrous.

    Hold on, there. I didn’t say that it only applies to fundamentalist religion.

    When it comes to religion, there are so many different things called “Judaism” and “Christianity” that it’s difficult to generalise. For example:

    if you are going to say that some parts of the bible are true, and some parts aren’t (and are instead fairy tales or fables or morals)

    So this is an interesting variation of the 747 argument, but already, religion which is of the opinion that “true” vs “false” is a false dichotomy when it comes to understanding sacred texts (as it is for any other work of literature; Animal Farm is true, despite the historical absence of talking animals) is no longer covered by it. This would include just about every mystical or narrative group (e.g. Quakers, Bretheren, Kabbalah, the “emerging church” movement and so on), and would apply in part to more mainstream groups.

    In addition, even to groups that it applies to, it only applies to the degree to which they believe in sola scriptura or Torah Umadda. So in that sense, the argument would only fully apply to Lutherans, Calvinists and anything stricter than Modern Orthodox Judaism.

  15. #15 Tyler DiPietro
    July 31, 2008

    “So this is an interesting variation of the 747 argument, but already, religion which is of the opinion that “true” vs “false” is a false dichotomy when it comes to understanding sacred texts (as it is for any other work of literature; Animal Farm is true, despite the historical absence of talking animals) is no longer covered by it.”

    While one could argue that Animal Farm is “true” in the sense that it alludes metaphorically to harsh political realities, to argue similarly for the Bible’s validity one would still have to argue that it alludes metaphorically to something objectively true. If what you mean is that the Bible is merely a lot of pretty sound prose and poetry*, then you’ve reduced its status to the level of literature. That’s something I think the majority of the devoutly religious would find rather insulting, as their is little if anything left to differentiate them from an atheist who simply enjoys poring through ancient texts.

    “In addition, even to groups that it applies to, it only applies to the degree to which they believe in sola scriptura or Torah Umadda. So in that sense, the argument would only fully apply to Lutherans, Calvinists and anything stricter than Modern Orthodox Judaism.”

    This misses the point by a mile, Pseudo. What is in question here is not the degree to which people actually subscribe to any among the varied synonyms for the inerrancy doctrine, but whether their beliefs are internally coherent for doing so. Joshua’s contention, as far as I understand it is that the partition of Bible stories into “believe” and “don’t believe” (which would include “not taken literally”) constitutes a “God in the gaps” style argument from ignorance. I happen to find that a fair assessment.

    Consider the viewpoint of the liberal clergyman interviewed by Dawkins on Root of all Evil?. His opinion was that the virgin birth was not an important belief in comparison to the resurrection. Obviously, he believes in a literal resurrection of some form or another, as do most Christians. But why is that particular belief among the most crucial to Christian doctrine? What intellectually compelling standard is there for favoring belief in it?

    (* – For the record, I’d have to disagree. The Bible, with the notable exceptions of The Song of Solomon and The Gospel of John, is by and large composed of execrable writing. But to each their own.)

  16. #16 Pseudonym
    July 31, 2008

    Tyler:

    While one could argue that Animal Farm is “true” in the sense that it alludes metaphorically to harsh political realities, to argue similarly for the Bible’s validity one would still have to argue that it alludes metaphorically to something objectively true. If what you mean is that the Bible is merely a lot of pretty sound prose and poetry, then you’ve reduced its status to the level of literature.

    I haven’t said in this thread what I personally believe, but if I must, I believe it to be mythology. For the full details, one needs to consult Jung and Campbell, but mythology actually occupies a point somewhere between history and fiction.

    As for where the objective truth lies: Religious experiences are objectively true, in the sense that they undeniably happen. Precisely what they are is a separate question.

    What is in question here is not the degree to which people actually subscribe to any among the varied synonyms for the inerrancy doctrine, but whether their beliefs are internally coherent for doing so.

    I agree, but for some reason, some people (have the idea that how internally coherent ones beliefs are is positively related to how innerant their position is. This makes no logical sense, because, as previously established, the Judeo-Christian sacred texts are not 100% internally coherent. It logically follows that the more literal your interpretation is, the less coherent it is.

    As to the question of “partitioning” (a term which I dispute, because it suggests a false dichotomy), that’s an interesting question, and this is where the scholarship comes in. Some bits are easy: Poems and sagas (e.g. Genesis 1) are clearly not meant to be “literal”. Lists of names and dates and deeds of rulers (e.g. the Chronicles) probably are accurate history, if written by the victors. Archaic literary forms that don’t exist today (e.g. apocalypses, such as found in Revelation) require a bit more care. Examining cultural contexts, looking at how contemporary writers dealt with texts… there’s a lot you can do, and mainstream theologians spend an awful lot of time doing it.

    The point is that there seems to be some feeling out there that the choice of what is more likely to be closer to history and what is more likely to be allegorical is not arbitrary. It can sometimes seem that way to a casual observer because sometimes interpretation changes in response to a cultural shift.

    The general acknowledgement of homosexuality as a sexual orientation, for example, caused a lot of people to go back and find out exactly what the relevant bits of the Bible were actually referring to. A casual observer might see that as picking and choosing to fit with modern biasses. A more scholarly observer is more likely to see it as a bunch of assumptions breaking, and so what we thought we knew needs to be revisited.

    Yes, I do concede that some of the devout religious might be offended by this. That’s hard to avoid. Some of the devout religious are offended by lots of things.

  17. #17 AL
    July 31, 2008

    Al,
    Pat Robertson is hardly considered one of the “sophisticated” apologists of today or even a really good theologian. He is popular, and that’s all.

    I never said he was considered a sophisticated apologist or a good theologian.

  18. #18 Tyler DiPietro
    July 31, 2008

    I haven’t said in this thread what I personally believe, but if I must, I believe it to be mythology. For the full details, one needs to consult Jung and Campbell, but mythology actually occupies a point somewhere between history and fiction.

    If I’m not mistaken, Jung and Campbell’s position is roughly is that both the Bible and other inter-testamental volumes are metaphorical ruminations on human psychology. My own assessment is that is, like most modern recasting of ancient texts, largely arbitrary retrofitting. Though I don’t know the details of what you do and do not find convincing so I will not comment further.

    As for where the objective truth lies: Religious experiences are objectively true, in the sense that they undeniably happen. Precisely what they are is a separate question.

    One has to be careful with what one implies with the term “religious experiences”. If you mean the trance-like feelings of disembodiment, union with some nebulous godhead, etc. then the interpretation of the phenomenon is hardly as opaque an issue as you seem to let on. There is little reason to assume that these experiences are anything more than neurological peculiarities, no matter how profound they may seem for their subjects. Chiefly among the reasons for this is that what can be attained through heyschasm and meditation can be replicated through ingesting psilocybin mushrooms.

    One can also mean something as mundane as the fact that religious people feel highly emotionally stimulated during prayer…which is hardly remarkable.

    “I agree, but for some reason, some people (have the idea that how internally coherent ones beliefs are is positively related to how innerant their position is. This makes no logical sense, because, as previously established, the Judeo-Christian sacred texts are not 100% internally coherent. It logically follows that the more literal your interpretation is, the less coherent it is.”

    I think you’re conflating religion as a body of beliefs in and of itself with religion as a method for determining which of those beliefs is valid. Before one can even get to the level of sorting out a coherent set of beliefs, one has to first get their methodology in marching order. Fundamentalists, while believing a mass of nonsense, at least have the latter task completed.

    “As to the question of “partitioning” (a term which I dispute, because it suggests a false dichotomy), that’s an interesting question, and this is where the scholarship comes in. Some bits are easy: Poems and sagas (e.g. Genesis 1) are clearly not meant to be “literal”. Lists of names and dates and deeds of rulers (e.g. the Chronicles) probably are accurate history, if written by the victors. Archaic literary forms that don’t exist today (e.g. apocalypses, such as found in Revelation) require a bit more care. Examining cultural contexts, looking at how contemporary writers dealt with texts… there’s a lot you can do, and mainstream theologians spend an awful lot of time doing it.”

    I think you’re erecting a few false dichotomies yourself here. For instance, even if one can establish through textual analysis that Genesis 1 (and 2) are not meant to perfect representations of the events that transpired during creation, they can still purport to describe what their authors (and cultural adherents) believed happened. Our own Star Spangled Banner is a song, which carries heavy symbolic meaning for many Americans, but still purports to describe a real event.

    “The point is that there seems to be some feeling out there that the choice of what is more likely to be closer to history and what is more likely to be allegorical is not arbitrary. It can sometimes seem that way to a casual observer because sometimes interpretation changes in response to a cultural shift.”

    “Arbitrary” is the wrong word to use, really. “Circular” fits the bill much more nicely. That is, the criteria for what will believe and not believe within the belief system is based on their preconceived assent to said system in the first place.

    “The general acknowledgement of homosexuality as a sexual orientation, for example, caused a lot of people to go back and find out exactly what the relevant bits of the Bible were actually referring to. A casual observer might see that as picking and choosing to fit with modern biasses. A more scholarly observer is more likely to see it as a bunch of assumptions breaking, and so what we thought we knew needs to be revisited.”

    The atheist would mostly agree, except he would go farther and state that the horrid track record of religion is deciding such questions strong calls any extant assumptions based on it into question.

  19. #19 Pseudonym
    July 31, 2008

    One has to be careful with what one implies with the term “religious experiences”.

    I meant this sort of thing. Yeah, I know, I keep bringing that one up. Though I personally don’t like the guy, and have some problems with it, I think it’s one of the more insightful things I’ve ever read on the topic of mysticism.

    I think you’re conflating religion as a body of beliefs in and of itself with religion as a method for determining which of those beliefs is valid.

    Ah, I was referring to the former, you were referring to the latter.

    This is a whole other topic that we’ve already been through, and I don’t propose to do it again. I’ll just state again for the record that I don’t accept that religion is primarily a “body of beliefs”. Historically, it has been more about identity than belief, and even today, most religions in the world don’t primarily rely on “belief”.

    But before we leave this topic…

    Before one can even get to the level of sorting out a coherent set of beliefs, one has to first get their methodology in marching order. Fundamentalists, while believing a mass of nonsense, at least have the latter task completed.

    Yes, the fundamentalist approach to sorting out beliefs is “whatever my pastor tells me”. Essentially, this is the same as the Roman Catholic system as well, except that the Catholics have had a bit more time to filter out some of the loopier bits.

    I’m not certain, by the way, why validity, methodology and consistency are virtues in a religion. In religious scholarship, sure. If you’re claiming absolute truth, I can see that. But in a practice-based religion, or a narrative-based religion, there’s no reason to expect or demand consistency.

    It’s kind of like how it’s perfectly possible (and extremely common) to be both “pro-life” and also be in favour of safe, legal abortion. Fundies think that’s inconsistent, and maybe it technically is by some measure, but why is that important? People are allowed to formulate beliefs and opinions on a case-by-case basis.

    I think that part of it is that in a world without absolute morality, there’s less scope to throw mud at someone by claiming that they are immoral, so the best you can do is catch them in an inconsistency (or, even better, a hypocrisy) instead. This is why “flip-flopping” is the worst sin that a policymaker can commit.

    The atheist would mostly agree, except he would go farther and state that the horrid track record of religion is deciding such questions strong calls any extant assumptions based on it into question.

    The track record of religion is the sort of thing that atheists tend to disagree on. Atheist forums on the net are a biassed sample.

    Incidentally, scientists were still classifying homosexuality as a mental disorder quite recently. In that respect, religion didn’t really misdecide this question any worse than anyone else did until not very long ago at all.

  20. #20 SLC
    July 31, 2008

    Re Pseudonym

    I didn’t say that I agreed with Prof. Dawkins arguments. I was stating them, as I understand them, for the purposes of explaining where he is coming from.

    I think it should be pointed out that I was referring to biblical literalists in describing Prof. Dawkins approach to the Hebrew and Christian scriptures. Not all fundamentalists are necessarily biblical literalists (for instance, William Jennings Bryan was an old earth creationist, a position rejected by biblical literalists).

    As an example of a biblical literalist, there was an individual calling himself Jon S who has posted on this blog in the past. Mr. Jon S is a 6000 year old earth, literal six 24 hour day creationist. His position is very simple. If what purports to be scientific evidence in any way, shape, form, or regard is in conflict with a literal interpretation of the Hebrew and Christian bibles, that evidence is wrong. Period, end of discussion.

    As an example of the type of mentality demonstrated by Mr. Jon S, he makes the claim that Tyrannosaurs were originally vegetarians before the fall. This, is of course, utter nonsense because the dentition of that animal is totally unfit for a vegetarian diet and he presents no evidence that it had a different dentition before the fall (e.g. fossilized Tyrannosaurs with teeth like Brontosaurs).

    One can only understand such individuals as Mr. Jon S by realizing that their minds are made up, the facts are irrelevant and no amount of evidence will cause them to change their minds.

  21. #21 Tyler DiPietro
    July 31, 2008

    “I’ll just state again for the record that I don’t accept that religion is primarily a “body of beliefs”. Historically, it has been more about identity than belief, and even today, most religions in the world don’t primarily rely on “belief”.”

    Perhaps “religions”, if you include every one in existence. If you include “religious adherents”, it’s a completely different story. Christianity and Islam, the two purest doctrinal religions, currently constitute almost half the world’s population. And while doctrinal purity is not as much a priority in other religions, e.g. Hinduism, to claim that it doesn’t “primarily” derive it’s ontological relevance from “belief” is somewhat disingenuous. The Hindus have all kinds of scripture laying out their beliefs about the godhead, the assortment of deities, the cosmos, the cycle of life and death, etc. The same goes for Judaism, even tho many professed adherents in modern times are not believers at all.

    “Yes, the fundamentalist approach to sorting out beliefs is “whatever my pastor tells me”. Essentially, this is the same as the Roman Catholic system as well, except that the Catholics have had a bit more time to filter out some of the loopier bits.”

    Well, fundamentalists would say that their ultimate authority is the scripture, their fidelity as individuals to such a criteria notwithstanding. The Catholic doctrine, being dictated by an ecclesiastical hierarchy, is considerably more arbitrary.

    “I’m not certain, by the way, why validity, methodology and consistency are virtues in a religion. In religious scholarship, sure. If you’re claiming absolute truth, I can see that. But in a practice-based religion, or a narrative-based religion, there’s no reason to expect or demand consistency.”

    I have no idea what practice-based religion or narrative-based religion are, but I’m pretty certain that I’m not talking about them. I am talking about religions making explicit metaphysical and ontological claims, which as I have pointed out, include at points many of the religions supposedly disavow the requirement that one give their assent to a belief system.

    “It’s kind of like how it’s perfectly possible (and extremely common) to be both “pro-life” and also be in favour of safe, legal abortion. Fundies think that’s inconsistent, and maybe it technically is by some measure, but why is that important? People are allowed to formulate beliefs and opinions on a case-by-case basis.”

    I think that would be because one has to explicitly formulate what they mean by “pro-life” before we can decide the implications. In my own opinion, the supposed “pro-life” position, as it’s been explained to me, is inherently incoherent and self-defeating. But that’s a topic for another time.

    “Incidentally, scientists were still classifying homosexuality as a mental disorder quite recently. In that respect, religion didn’t really misdecide this question any worse than anyone else did until not very long ago at all.”

    Well yes, but this illustrates the difference between science and religion quite clearly. As the evidence shifted away from homosexuality being a mental disorder and into sexuality itself being a much more complex phenomenon, a large part of it genetically heritable, science was quick to abandon such a position. Christianity and Islam are still in the process of shoring up a preexisting belief system, with varied outcomes.

  22. #22 Jud
    July 31, 2008

    Tyler DiPietro wrote: As the evidence shifted away from homosexuality being a mental disorder and into sexuality itself being a much more complex phenomenon, a large part of it genetically heritable, science was quick to abandon such a position.

    It’s debatable just how “scientific” are issues such as whether particular types of sexuality ought to be considered aberrant. “Ought to” denotes an issue much more moral/social/sociological than anything to do with the harder sciences, and “aberrant” (beyond the trivial meaning of “not the usual thing”) also involves moral/social/sociological judgments. Thus I’d say Pseudo’s example isn’t a particularly well-formed one, though it still has something to teach us about how social judgments can be given a veneer of objectivity if they come from the mouths of “scientists.”

    I’d say a far better example to contrast the two ways of thinking would be to consider the reaction to Galileo’s (perhaps legendary) ball-dropping experiment by the scientific community, and that of the Catholic Church to his telescopic observations of the Solar System. The former took science about 5 minutes to accept as fact, the latter took the Catholic Church just a touch less than 400 years (as a matter of official doctrine, anyway), by which time science had moved on to matters such as quantum gravity.

    Regarding Dawkins’ criticisms of religion, the Bible, etc., by far the most appealing to me has always been the complete opposite of his criticisms of fundamentalism. Dawkins is of course completely aware that virtually no one uses the entire Bible as a literal moral guidepost, not even the supposed literalists – they tend to leave out bits such as all the stuff about animal sacrifice that account for a fair amount of the volume of the sacred texts. And then there’s the stuff about freeing slaves every seven years or so, implying that for six years it’s morally all right.

    What does this tell us? That we impose our morality on the Bible (or $SACRED_TEXT), not the other way round. It is a cogent criticism that applies to 99.9% of the adherents of major religions in the U.S. today. (Those who’d disagree are welcome to produce evidence of the hordes supporting and practicing animal sacrifice and slavery.)

    When I so often read arguments like some in this thread, saying Dawkins’ criticisms are only applicable to fundamentalists, I find myself wishing that more people who discuss Dawkins’ arguments had actually bothered to read them.

  23. #23 Robert O'Brien
    August 4, 2008

    A book by a mathematician re: classical theism that eschews mathematics/formal logic. I could not care less. We’ve had enough of these pedestrian arguments from the other members of the new atheist clown car.

  24. #24 SLC
    August 4, 2008

    Re Robert O’Brien

    It should be noted that Ed Brayton has named a monthly award after Mr. O’Brien to be given to the dumbest comment or article published in that month. Of course, the recipients of the award would be hard put to be more moronic then Mr. O’Brien himself.

  25. #25 Robert O'Brien
    August 7, 2008

    “It should be noted that Ed Brayton has named a monthly award after Mr. O’Brien…”

    Ed is a failure several times over, and he tends to attract low-watt bulbs to his blog. Like you, for example, who claimed Werner Heisenberg was an atheist/agnostic. (He was, in fact, a Christian theist, dumb ass.)

  26. #26 Leni
    August 7, 2008

    Robert O’Brien. That singular beacon of light and hope that shines down on this dark night of… darkness. A candle in the wind, as it were.

    Perhaps even the wind beneath our wings. An American hero. The true kind. The kind that uses the same joke about the atheist clown car over and over, yes, but a repetitive, reliable hero is simply the best kind of hero. Look at Batman!

    We need you Robert. We need a hero. If only for those brief glimpses into unknowable super-smartness that your one-liners afford us. That we, the hopeless dim bulbs that we are, should be so close greatness is more than we should dare dream. The closest we can come to touching it is to pass a mere monthly blog award to others who strive to your great, lofty, luminescent heights.

    Thank you, Robert. Thank you.

    (fongooly! This is your cue! C’mon, motherfucker! Say it!)

  27. #27 Collin Brendemuehl
    August 7, 2008

    I read and have reviewed the book Irreligious.
    http://evangelicalperspective.blogspot.com/2008/08/book-review-irreligious.html

    It is one of the most laughable efforts I’ve ever seen. Ever. Poor logic. Silly analogies. Little or know knowledge of his subject matter.

  28. #28 SLC
    August 7, 2008

    Re Robert O’Brien

    1. Would Mr. O’Brien care to provide a reference to the alleged Christian theism of Werner Heisenberg. According to a colleague of his who I met many years ago, Prof. Heisenberg had no religious beliefs.

    2. Would Mr. O’Brien care to provide some evidence that Mr. Brayton is a “failure several times over.”

    3. Mr. O’Brien claims that Mr. Braytons’ blog attracts “dim bulbs.” Well, given that Mr. O’Brien posts here, apparently Prof. Rosenhouses’ blog also attracts dim bulbs.

  29. #29 JimCH
    August 7, 2008

    Perhaps even the wind beneath our wings.
    I think of Mr. O’Brien more as the wind between our cheeks.

    It is one of the most laughable efforts I’ve ever seen. Ever. Poor logic. Silly analogies. Little or know [sic] knowledge of his subject matter.
    I am shocked, I tell you, SHOCKED.
    This is a powerful rebut indeed. Perhaps though Mr. Brendemuehl you would like to share your insights to a little more depth.

  30. #30 Robert O'Brien
    August 7, 2008

    On Werner Heisenberg’s Christianity:

    http://www.asa3.org/aSA/PSCF/1985/JASA12-85Seeger.html

    http://www.asa3.org/aSA/PSCF/1988/PSCF3-88Herrmann.html

    http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/heisenberg07/heisenberg07_index.html

    As for Ed Brayton, he is a college drop out, a failed comedian, and possibly a failed business owner. With your lack of native intelligence, you make a fine hanger-on at his blog.

  31. #31 fongooly
    August 7, 2008

    Leni, I don’t have to say motherfucker because I made you say it again for me. You didn’t seem to have the guts to apply the appellation to a true motherfucker, however. You simply babble on as if you had some gift for rhetoric. Your talents lie more in the area of the vulgar. Yet O’Btien comes here and farts, and you come back with a whimper. Pitiful.

  32. #32 fongooly
    August 7, 2008

    Or perhaps Leni, it was that O’Brien showed you his member and you knew not what to do except instinctively suck on it.

  33. #33 Collin Brendemuehl
    August 7, 2008

    JimCH,

    Don’t be so shallow. I cited specific page numbers in the review, as well as one lengthy quote with its associated logical failure. It’s what happens when mathematicians venture into the world of philosophy.

    Enjoy.

    Collin

  34. #34 Anonymous
    August 8, 2008

    If you flip 1000000 coins, and observe the sequence of heads and tails, you will observe a sequence that had only a 1/ 2^{1000000} (a priori) probability of occuring, which is a really small number. You could then remark, “why, what a freak occurrence! How improbable! Therefore, God.”

    Then we would call you an ID theorist, because you would be an idiot.

    Which, by the way Collin, you are. To educate yourself on this sort of thing, please begin by reading the following wikipedia article on “overfitting”: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overfitting

    So, Collin, this is the best you have? Pathetic.

  35. #35 Collin Brendemuehl
    August 8, 2008

    Anonymous,
    The best I have? Straw man. It’s just your own shallow misrepresentation, much like the book. Actually very similar.
    You might look up the subject of “taugology” becuase that’s what his argument amounted to.

  36. #36 Anonymous
    August 9, 2008

    Collin,

    Thanks for clearly not understanding the point. Your response speaks for itself.

    Better luck next time.

    Love,

    Anon

  37. #37 Collin Brendemuehl
    August 9, 2008

    Not understanding the point?
    Quit trolling with such nonsense.
    You did just what Paulos did — you assigned a position to the apologist that no apologist holds. None of them employs any of the historical nonsense that you suppose. None. Do you know who the apologists are? I’ll suggest that you’ve read none of them or your argument would not be built as it is. But then you’re at Berkeley where academic honesty is apparently of little consequence. ;)

  38. #38 JimCH
    August 9, 2008

    Collin…
    Yes, I read your review which is why I didn’t give your comment serious consideration. You gave no serious counter to the arguments in the book; just some vague insults that highlight a possible fundamental misunderstanding on your part. For example, from your glancing critique:

    In dealing with probability and the argument from design he says:

    This line of argument, however, is deeply flawed. Note that there are always a fantastically huge number of evolutionary paths that might be taken by an organism (or a process), but there is only one that will actually be taken. So if, after the fact, we observe the particular evolutionary path actually taken and then calculate the a priori probability of its having been taken, we will get the miniscule probability that creationists mistakenly attach to the process as a whole.

    But what� isn’t that precisely the point? His position is an -after the fact- argument that requires him to beg the question regarding the end result of the process. Recursion may be acceptable in mathematics (and my field, software development), but has no place in this type of logic.

    Anyone who would make such a statement should not be lecturing others about false erudition.

  39. #39 Collin Brendemuehl
    August 9, 2008

    JImCH,
    Vague insults? Hardly.
    No, I didn’t counter his points but for the sake of brevity simply expressed the point that Paulos doesn’t know what he is talking about. One reviewer @ Amazon did a more thorough job.
    So you think I have a fundamental misunderstanding of his positions? How so? Or is that just a vague insult and you’re merely trolling. On the other hand, if you find his lack of appropriate logical construct to be adequate, perhaps a philosophy or logic course would be helpful to you. His recursion (of a sort) is disappointing but not unexpected from a comedian of his calibre.
    What is clear is that Paulos did not cover the full scope of apologetics. I stated that explicitly, no vagueness at all. Nobody, I repeat, nobody, couples numerology with any *serious* apologetic. “Straw man” branding is generous. An outright lie by misrepresentation is more reasonable.
    As a critique of Christian apologetis his book is still laughable. What the field is can be studied more throughly in material like this:
    http://www.amazon.com/Five-Views-Apologetics-Steven-Cowan/dp/0310224764/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1218308937&sr=8-1
    http://www.amazon.com/Christian-Apologetics-Cornelius-Van-Til/dp/0875525113/ref=pd_bbs_sr_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1218308966&sr=1-2
    http://www.amazon.com/Warrant-Proper-Function-Alvin-Plantinga/dp/0195078640/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1218309001&sr=1-6

  40. #40 Anonymous
    August 9, 2008

    Collin,

    You are very confused. Let me try to sort some of it out.

    1. I didn’t assign a position or anything else to anyone. I just pointed out that Paulos said something uncontroversially correct, and only someone really confused could confuse it with a logical error– as JimCH pointed out.

    2. You did not, in fact, understand the point. This is evident by the fact that you did not even come close to addressing it. Usually, in an argument, one must address his opponents arguments, or it gets very boring for everyone.

    3. A tautology is not a logical error. It is simple a statement that is self-evidently true, and thus perhaps a bit boring. Please do not use the word tautology as you are using it, because no one else uses it this way, and it is confusing for everyone involved.

    4. Repeating ones argument is not a tautology. Nor is it a logical error. Sometimes, it is important for clarity.

    5. Yes, I am a mathematics PhD at Berkeley. I must confess. Usually, this is not considered to be a lack of credentials for these sorts of discussions.

    Love,

    Anon

  41. #41 fongooly
    August 10, 2008

    A tautology is not a self-evident truth. It’s a logical form of inference that only has one possible inference. Example: “If Collin is an idiot, it’s because he fits the definition of an idiot.”

    Now, virtually all of us know that Collin’s remarks fit those that would define an idiot. So it’s highly probable by whatever formula available that he’s an idiot. But merely putting that in tautological form did not establish the truth of the proposition.

    There is a tendency to confuse mathematical “tautology” with philosophical versions. But while mathematical inference can be self-evidently true, it’s not all that simple or certain in the philosophical realm. Ask Searle there in Berkeley to explain the difference.

    If Collin thinks however that this in any way is confirming his opinion of Berkeleyites, he truly is an idiot. Which we then confirm by reading almost anything he has written.

  42. #42 Leni
    August 10, 2008

    You simply babble on as if you had some gift for rhetoric.

    As if I had a gift for rhetoric? Rhetoric? Seriously?

    After posting endlessly lame scrambles and puns on the word “motherfucker”, you’re accusing me of babbling on as if I think I have a gift for rhetoric? And vulgarity?

    Good christ but you are an insufferable, humorless ass. And I mean that in the self-evident way, of course.

    (P.S. And just so we’re clear, you didn’t make me say anything. I was calling both you and Robert O’Brien motherfuckers and was quite happy to do so. And probably will again many times, knowing me.)

    Last, Collin’s problem isn’t that he misunderstands the meaning of the word “tautology” or that he misapplies logic, or even that he’s an idiot. It’s that he’s so busy looking for excuses to worship Jesus that nothing else matters. He doesn’t need reasons or sensible arguments, he has page numbers and a venerable cause backed up with several centuries worth of bullshit and tradition that will never be sufficiently repudiated.

    No one will ever produce a viable argument against it because it simply can’t be done. No one will ever understand it deeply enough and so on and so forth will the goalposts move. His use of the word “tautology” is just icing on the big word cake. It has less meaning, and probably even a more vulgar one when you get right down to it, than does “motherfucker” on even my best day.

  43. #43 Collin Brendemuehl
    August 10, 2008

    Anon,
    It’s too bad that my additional explanation got lost somewhere in the ether else we might make some progress. I don’t know if it was censored or not, but that’s for Jason to live with.
    (1.) I didn’t assign a position or anything else to anyone. Liar.
    I am not ID. But because I reject Paulos’ simplicity does not mean that I take your predicted alternative. Such B&W thinking is quite juvenile. Perhapes even quite Berkeley.

    … but again to Paulos’ point … It was not a repetition for epmhasis. Though I did employ tautology perhaps loosely it is more than abundantly clear the Paulos confused and equated the past with the present and that begs the question quite seriously. (Unless, of course, that, too, is acceptable at Berkeley.)

    (3 & 4.) Really? I found two definitions in Wikipedia. Don’t like the one I chose? Get over it. Learn to argue from the other person’s position and you’ll get further.

    (5) Declaring the other person an idiot might be suitable for a Berkeley PhD but not anywhere else.

    JimCH,
    Let’s get clearer on Paulos: NONE of the framing of apologetics that he presented can be found in ANY major apologetic work. None. You might find one or two of them in minor works but there is no substantive indictment of Christian apologetics in that book. I know of NOBODY who, using ELS says that it proves God. (And I read the apologetics field.) For that matter, does he cite anyone? Or does he cite anyone who employs his construction of the ontological argument? No. Straw men every one. Complete with lack of references.

    It is that simple.

    If you care to read some books on the subject, check out material (in the fields he addresses) by evidentialists like Norman Geisler and William Lane Craig. For material that he failed to address, enjoy reading material by Alvin Plantinga and Cornelius Van Til. That is, if you’re not scared, and if you feel you can handle it.

    Paulos’ book is a rant and nothing more.

    Leni,

    What can I say? ;)

    Collin

  44. #44 fongooly
    August 10, 2008

    Collin is amused by Leni’s sputterings. As are we all.
    And of course I’ve made her say motherfucker when she didn’t want to have to say it again – made even to claim it now as her favorite appellation.

    “You didn’t make me, you didn’t make me, you didn’t make me.” cried little Leni, rhetorically, as she silently sought redemption from the great motherfucker in the sky.

  45. #45 sagopa
    August 10, 2008

    Leni is good liking for us

  46. #47 JimCH
    August 10, 2008

    Mr Brendemuehl…

    You simply can not drop the name Alvin Plantinga as a source & expect to be taken seriously. However, I appreciate your warning lest I may not be able to withstand the crushing weight of their rhetoric. You are mistaken about whom should be afraid though. If their arguments were somehow to convince me then fine, what’s to be afraid of; I’ll of seen the light & I would go down that path. However, if you ever realized what utter crap this all is then you’ve realized that you’ve wasted your intellectual life up to that point. Scary indeed.

  47. #48 Collin Brendemuehl
    August 10, 2008

    JimCH,

    Despite your condescension, not doing your homework is inexcusable. Feel free to read those evolutionists who resond to Plantinga’s argument in Naturalism Defeated?. Read what they say and take note of their arguments. These are people on YOUR side. Learn the failures and weaknesses of your own position. Learn. That’s all I ask.

    Collin

  48. #49 Tyler DiPietro
    August 10, 2008

    This might not be the most tactful way to gain the info but, can someone please fill me in on why Leni and fongooly are so full of hate juice on each other?

  49. #50 fongooly
    August 10, 2008

    She simply called me a motherfucker without the slightest excuse or legitimate provocation – apparently she was bored with monitoring a discussion that was about the proper use of analogy (as best I recall). My guess is she was either drunk or stoned at the time, although it has appeared since then this could be her usual state or mental aspect. I am in the process of educating her as to the consequences of not only such indiscretion but the lack of any sign of repentance to boot.
    Although to be singled out as the first poster on this blog to have ever been so designated could be deemed a singular honor, I just feel that I hadn’t earned that award and would wish that it were somehow rescinded. On the other hand, you know what they say about giving a dog a bad name.

  50. #51 JimCH
    August 11, 2008

    Mr Brendemuehl…
    If that’s all you ask then consider it done (obviously not all, but enough). I’m not sure why you assume differently; because I don’t see it your way? Odd. By the way, you’re a fine one to criticize for condescension.
    fongooly…
    It looks to me like Leni was just being playful.

  51. #52 fongooly
    August 12, 2008

    Playful? Are we having any motherfucking fun yet?
    You don’t call someone a motherfucker where I come from, except to insult or anger, and especially not a stranger, and not on a public forum if they know where to find you. Why, in any case, use such a word at all? Would Leni call me that in her mother’s presence? Does the image of somene fucking her mother give her pleasure?
    Or can I playfully call her a fathersucker, for example? Or call her father a daughterfucker? Even though I’m smiling?

  52. #53 JimCH
    August 12, 2008

    Fine. It’s none of my concern; don’t know what I was thinking. Consider my nose sufficiently swatted with a rolled-up newspaper.

  53. #54 Robert O'Brien
    August 12, 2008

    Fongooly and Leni hate each other because they are antithetical personalities residing in the same head.

  54. #55 Leni
    August 15, 2008

    Actually, Tyler, I made a joke about the annoying tendency of some people to get hung up metaphors. I unwisely described such people using the colorful term “stupid motherfuckers” and fongooly took it personally and has subsequently decided to freak out about it.

    (For the record, I was neither drunk nor stoned. Just irate. It was crackergate-related. I hate the crackergate and I’d reached critical metaphor-debate mass.)

    Anyway… ever since then, he’s had a serious bee in his bonnet about it, even after I told him it wasn’t directed at him and that I was just fed up with metaphor debates and wished sincerely that everyone would just shut the f*&% up with the metaphors and the faux metaphor debates. So now (“Fortuna, you vicious slut!“), he posts really lame word plays on and puns on the word “motherfucker” pretty much every time I post here. Yay. The end.

    And now I just like to call him a motherfucker for fun :D

    PS Shut up, O’Brien.

    PPS Go ahead fongooly, say my father is a daughter-fucker while smiling if it makes you feel better. I will not misconstrue your meaning in order to pretend that I am a victim of a terrible, terrible slander. I’ll shrug it off and get over it, which is exactly what you should be doing.

    Collin- I won’t argue with that. What can you say? You’ve pretty much already said it all. If my memory serves me, there was a “devastating” post with some page numbers, accusations of posters having the dubious distinction of being employed at Berkeley, fist-pounding about straw-men and an admonishment against not doing homework. Gee, no. I can’t imagine what more you could have said.

  55. #56 fongooly
    August 16, 2008

    Motherfucker included me but wasn’t directed at me? A fine distinction since only my moniker was singled out for such inclusion.

    How does one misconstrue the meaning of motherfucker in any case? It’s not exactly a complement, except perhaps in places where you can’t spell and name all your kids Lenny.

    Oh and Leni, since you asked, your father is a daughter-fucker while both of you are smiling.

    Shrug it off and get over it.

  56. #57 Leni
    August 16, 2008

    I didn’t actually ask you for anything. I said I didn’t mind if you did. Not surprisingly, I don’t.

    *shrug*

    Over it.

    Now it’s your turn, Miss Manners.

  57. #58 fongooly
    August 16, 2008

    Manners? When is motherfucker a term of manners?

  58. #59 Leni
    August 16, 2008

    It’s almost as if you want to be angry. That’s fine, but you’re going to have to seek your outrage elsewhere. You won’t be getting any more help from me. I imagine you’ll continue baiting me. Hard as it will be, I will just have to resist the urge to mock you.

    I’d just encourage you to get a grip on yourself because you’ve now escalated your little quest for outrage from simply annoying me to chewing out polite bystanders. I’ve extended several olive branches to you and you’ve been nothing but an asshole about it. Whatever pathological need you have for whipping yourself up into an emotional frenzy is your own problem. It’s not mine, and it’s certainly not any of the other posters here.

  59. #60 fongooly
    August 16, 2008

    What olive branch did you ever extend? And don’t act as if other posters are really on your side in your desperate need to justify your use of the most classless, obscene and even racist term used here so far. You instead are saying you now use it just for fun. Olive branch? Used as a poking device? Something similar to the tool used for motherfucking?

    You will now resist the urge to mock me? Mockery is your specialty, inept as you are at its execution. I’ve been waiting to see if you could learn from your mistakes. Clearly you have not and perhaps cannot. Although I note that having once called O’Brien a motherfucker, you feared to repeat it in your recent mild rebuke for his own ineptness at mockery.

  60. #61 Leni
    August 17, 2008

    I extended an olive branch to you in the first response I had to you. I told you it wasn’t personal, that it was a joke, and that it stemmed from my irritation with the general commentary on SBs at the time (commentary I normally find intelligent and worth reading), not necessarily you in particular. You chose to ignore that and launch yourself into several fits of self-indulgent indignation.

    And I am not pretending other people are siding with me, I simply suggested that you cool it, and refrain from unnecessarily chewing out other posters. Behaving like a rabid dog isn’t helping you, or anyone.

    Also, FYI, motherfucker is not a racist term (so far as I have heard it used). It’s a stronger version of “jerk”, like “asshole” or “prick” or any of the other terms that don’t convey their literal meaning when used to describe a person. I wasn’t actually accusing you, or anyone, of having an incestuous relationship with your mother. Is English not your first language? (I ask that sincerely, and that is yet another olive branch in case you are too busy indulging your anger to notice.)

  61. #62 fongooly
    August 17, 2008

    After remarking it wasn’t personal, you then singled me out as an exception to that general assessment. And proceeded, as you have conceded, to have fun with it. Evidently the fun part is over for you, but the nastiness is still there.

    Motherfucker was originally a self-denigrating term used in the American black culture.
    Whites then were quick to find it useful as a substitute for the n—– word

    And it’s not simply a stronger version of jerk – check out this quote from Wikipedia:
    ‘Many consider “Motherfucker” to be one of the most offensive profanities in the English language. A study published in 2000 found that British people consider it second only to “cunt” in severity[1].’
    English not my first language? It seems it may have been more kin to my people than to yours, at least in its ken.
    And you can’t bring yourself to any real admission of fault here, can you. Your so called olive branches always come with thorns, it seems. This one first slyly insults my literacy, and even less slyly questions my temperance.
    So as the motherfucker said to the cunt, what goes around sometimes comes full circle.

  62. #63 Leni
    August 17, 2008

    You aren’t going to get an admission of fault because I didn’t actually do anything wrong. Baiting me like a passive aggressive, inordinately verbose ghost isn’t going to get you one, either. (Although I would be more than happy to revise my initial assessment from stupid motherfucker to stupid asshole, if it would make you feel better.)

    And fortunately for all of us, word usage changes over time. If you say “hysteria” or ““fundamental”, I promise not to hold you to every out-dated connotation available if I can manage to figure out (without the aid of Wikipedia) what else you might possibly be trying to say.

    I’m done. Good luck with your blood pressure, fongooly.

  63. #64 fongooly
    August 18, 2008

    Leni, it’s your blood pressure I’ve been having fun with. It shouldn’t take Wikipedia to point out why certain words have certain effects, and of course in this instance it didn’t “take” anyway – proving, I guess, the possible point you may have had in what barely passes for a mind. I’ve had a bit of extra satisfaction demonstrating you aren’t nearly as smart as you are vociferous. Passive aggressive? Jesus, you’re dumb. People like you were the role models for that somewhat controversial behavioral category. There’s nothing covert about my efforts here – they were and are intended to shine light into the darkness of your own bleatlike persona. Or perhaps I should say cuntlike.

    Of course you’re not done. I’ll let you know when you’re done.

  64. #65 fongooly
    August 18, 2008

    Leni,
    Did I forget to add, from good old Wiki, that: ‘The Compact Oxford English Dictionary defines “cunt” as “an unpleasant or stupid person”, whereas Merriam-Webster defines the term as “a disparaging term for a woman” and “a woman regarded as a sexual object”; the Macquarie Dictionary of Australian English defines it as “a despicable man.’

    So the least of those is what I “might possibly” be trying to label you with.
    So please don’t take offense at the more probable inference. I could just be “jerk”ing you around.

  65. #66 wtf
    August 18, 2008

    Note to self:
    Back away slowly from crazy person at the bus-stop.

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