A Reply to Robert Asher

Back in February, paleontologist Robert Asher wrote this essay for HuffPo. The essay was called, “Why I am an Accommodationist,” and it defended the compatibility of science and religion. As regular readers of this blog are aware, I don’t much care for that view. So I wrote this reply. After a long break, Asher has now replied to my reply, over at The Panda’s Thumb. I thank him for taking the time to have to done so. However, I am not moved by his remarks to revise anything I said in my original post. So let’s go one more round, and have a look at what he has to say.

After a brief introduction Asher gets down to business with this:

Consider the argument that anti-theists and creationists have something in common, for example when I wrote in my Huffington Post blog

For many theists, even if they would phrase it differently, “religion” requires a deity who leaves behind evidence in a similar fashion as a human being might do, like Santa Claus not finishing his cookies or a toga-clad Charlton Heston dispensing rules on stone tablets, capriciously ignoring his own natural laws. Many anti-theists agree: if God exists, “he” has to leave behind evidence in a human-like fashion. Notably, such a perspective is at the core of the so-called “intelligent design” movement, which claims to find evidence for clever intervention in biology, relegating what its adherents call “natural” and “random” to the profane.

He referred to the above paragraph as “complete caricature”, arguing that in the case of atheists,

absolutely no one is saying that God has to do anything. We simply observe that a God who works entirely through natural forces is hard to distinguish from no God at all. We ask for the evidence that God exists, and since nature fails so completely to provide that evidence we begin to suspect that maybe there is no God.

This complaint is less about the point I was making and more a result of ignoring it. He falsely attributes to me an oxymoron, as if I had said that an atheist’s god “has to do anything” since they are, after all, atheists. Rather, I was addressing his expectation about the category of evidence that he, as an atheist, thinks a deity should leave behind in order to be credible. Does being “religious” demand that you think that God works like a human with superpowers, regularly sticking his hand into nature? Many think it does, others don’t. Agreeing with the former, Rosenhouse has “asked for evidence that god exists” and found that “nature fails so completely” in providing this evidence. On the other hand, maybe God doesn’t work like a human with superpowers, in which case the existence of nature in the first place might comprise evidence.

Asher has simply misunderstood my point. I was not attributing to him an oxymoron. Nor was I making any assertion about what sorts of evidence must exist for belief in God to be credible or rational. My charge was that Asher misrepresented the logic of the most common atheist arguments. We do not argue by modus tollens, asserting, “If God exists then we must find evidence of that in nature, we don’t find such evidence, therefore God does not exist.” Instead we argue (again, most commonly, I’m sure you can find individual atheist writers who commit various logical fallacies) that for belief in God to be credible there must be some evidence for his existence, and as it happens nature fails completely to provide that evidence. We have not overlooked the possibility that God may choose to work through entirely natural means, leaving no overt trace behind. We simply view that possibility as comparable to arguing that we don’t see elephants hiding in trees because they hide very skillfully. That is, it seems a bit desperate. Nor do we overlook the possibility of forms of evidence that would not generally be considered scientific, such as the prevalence of claimed religious experiences among the faithful. We simply think there are good reasons for being skeptical of such non-scientific forms of evidence.

Asher continues:

Rosenhouse is right to point out that “no God at all” is a possibility that has to be dealt with by believers. I do so by arguing that his suspicion that “maybe there is no god” is no more justified than my suspicion that maybe God acts through nature. Furthermore, my view has the advantage that the consistency across, and existence of, natural laws follows reasonably from positing an agency behind them. While such an assertion isn’t necessary to understand the mechanism(s) by which a given natural law functions, it does lead to the expectation that such laws should not only exist, but also make sense.

Now we are getting into murkier philosophical waters, since we are essentially arguing about who bears the burden of proof. I would argue on grounds of parsimony and Occam’s Razor that the suspicion that “Entity X does not exist” should always be regarded as better justified than the suspicion that, “Entity X exists but it has attributes it deliberately acts in ways that make it impossible for us to detect its presence.” To borrow a famous example from Carl Sagan, by Asher’s argument you would have to agree that your suspicion that there is no dragon in my garage is no more justified than my suspicion that there is an invisible, incorporeal, floating dragon living there.

I strongly disagree that the mere existence of natural laws is any evidence at all for the presumption of an agency behind those laws. Not, at any rate, unless Asher can provide an argument for concluding that a universe not superintended by such an agency should not be expected to be governed by natural laws.

Skipping ahead a bit:

Getting back to what Rosenhouse said of my “caricature” of others’ views, my worst infraction was not about the atheists, but about Intelligent Design itself:

Asher has also badly misstated the ID position. There, too, there are no assumptions being made about what God must have done. I am not aware of any ID proponents who say that if God exists it simply must be the case that He has left behind, tangible, scientific evidence of His presence. Instead the claim is simply that, as it happens, there are, indeed, certain biological facts whose only plausible explanation involves the intentions of an intelligent designer.

This is an odd accusation, possibly based on how he sees an inductive chronology in the mind of an Intelligent-Design advocate. He seems to think observation of “certain biological facts whose only plausible explanation” leads to an “intelligent designer”, and only then does the ID advocate dutifully proceed to a conclusion about “what God must have done”. This objection reminds me a bit of Darwin’s aged mentor Adam Sedgwick, who upon reading Origin of Species complained that Darwin had “deserted … the true method of induction”, meaning that Sedgwick expected Darwin to refrain from theorizing until he had crossed some undefined Rubicon of fact-collecting. In reality, it was Sedgwick who didn’t realize that testing an already-existing theory against repeated data-collection is not only OK, but reflects the way the human mind generally works.

My argument had nothing to do with the “inductive chronology” of the beliefs of an ID proponent. I was simply pointing out that, once again, Asher has misrepresented the logic of the argument the ID folks are making. They, also, do not argue by modus tollens. In their role as ID proponents, their argument is simply that certain aspects of nature possess characteristics that can only be plausibly explained by the action of an intelligent designer. One of the points about which they are most adamant, for heaven’s sake, is that the intelligence they claim to have discovered cannot be identified as the Christian God, at least as far as their science is concerned. Plainly, then, when they are arguing as ID proponents, they are not pointing to the facts of nature as the sole basis for the credibility of the Christian faith.

Of course many of them come to the subject with prior faith commitments, but so what? That is completely irrelevant to the point I was making. Asher’s argument can be paraphrased as, “Both ID proponents and certain atheists argue that we must find clear evidence of God in nature for belief in God to be credible, but both have overlooked the possibility that God might choose to work through entirely natural means.” The reality is that neither ID proponents nor atheists argue as Asher suggests and neither has overlooked his alternative possibility. That’s the point.

Continuing from where the last quote left off:

All of us—creationists, theistic evolutionists, and anti-theists—start with some idea of how the world should operate given the presence of a god, and it’s just wrong to claim, as Rosenhouse does, that in ID

there are no assumptions being made about what God must have done. I am not aware of any ID proponents who say that if God exists it simply must be the case that He has left behind, tangible, scientific evidence of His presence.

Really? Isn’t the whole point of the Intelligent Design movement to distinguish biological complexity as a product of “design” vs. chance or regularity, based on our experience of “design” in its human context? I’d agree that design inferences per se don’t have to be about a deity. However, such “design” has been promulgated for about three decades now by ID-advocates who have left a substantial paper trail linking them to previous iterations of creationism. When applied to the origin of life, and biological evolution thereafter, by individuals who have been eagerly attacking Darwin’s theory since the 1980s, “design” clearly does entail expectations of how the “designer” of the anti-Darwin movement operates— like a superhuman would.

Yes, obviously, most ID proponents believe that the intelligence they have detected is the Christian God. But that belief goes beyond what they think their science can support. And yes, again obviously, we can reasonably suspect that there are political motivations lying behind their insistence that they are not arguing for any form of creationism. This is all true, but totally irrelevant.

That God behaves in some sense like a super-engineer is the conclusion of their argument, not the premise. Their argument is that the natural world features attributes (like “specified complexity”) which, when they are found in human artifacts, are immediately recognized as signs of intelligent design. Neither Asher nor myself has any sympathy for that argument, but it is what it is. They then argue that those same features found in the natural world should also be attributed to intelligent design. This is not at all the view that Asher originally attributed to them. They don’t start from the premise that God, if He exists, must act like a super-engineer, and then go dutifully out into nature and look for that evidence.

In the comments following Rosenhouse’s essay, consider this response by veteran ID-critic and biologist Nick Matzke to Rosenhouse’s statement that in ID, there are “no assumptions being made about what God must have done”:

Actually, IDists do make that argument pretty regularly, in response to theistic evolutionists and deist-like arguments against an interventionist God. IDists will say something like, well, if you believe the Bible, we have an interventionist God on our hands, one who likes to work miracles, so there is no reason we shouldn’t see this in biological history.

Rosenhouse responds to Matzke as follows:

But that’s not the argument Asher put in the mouths of his hypothetical ID folks. There is a big difference between saying that if God exists then he must leave evidence behind, which was Asher’s formulation, and saying that there is no reason why we shouldn’t see evidence of God’s action in biological history, which was your formulation.

It’s revealing to deconstruct the key sentence of Rosenhouse’s response by redacting the double negative:

1) “if God exists then he must leave evidence behind” (Rosenhouse paraphrasing Asher)

2) “there is no reason why we shouldn’t see evidence of God’s action in biological history” (Matzke)

See any major differences here? Me neither. Both represent the argument that “Asher put in the mouths of his hypothetical ID folks”, i.e., that the god of Intelligent Design is indeed expected (explicitly or not) to leave behind evidence in a more or less similar fashion as a human-like intelligence would.

The difference looks pretty stark to me. Formulation (i), which Asher does not reject as an accurate presentation of his view, is a blunt conditional statement. It says that if God exists, then a certain sort of evidence must also exist. That statement is not an accurate presentation of ID thinking. Formulation (ii), proffered by Matzke, suggests simply that in doing science we may or may not find direct evidence of God’s activity in nature. We don’t know until we look. ID proponents would go on to argue that, as it happens, we do find evidence of design in nature, and while we cannot be certain we have detected the Christian God, this is nonetheless a boost to faith. They would probably go further and argue that even in the absence of such evidence there would still be good reasons to believe in God.

I’m puzzled by Asher’s inability to see the difference. But perhaps we can settle this. William Dembski’s blog “Uncommon Descent” is probably the main repository of ID thinking on the internet. I happen to know that several contributors to that blog read my blog regularly. So perhaps one of them would like to weigh in on whether they think Asher or myself has presented the more accurate picture of their thinking.

Rosenhouse is correct to note that creationists object to the notion of a weak Imago Dei; that is, a remote, apparently distant god, is repellent to many ID-friendly theists:

Since God is commonly said to love His creatures, we are certainly entitled to wonder why He would create through a process as cruel and savage as Darwinian natural selection. It is not plausible to suggest evolution as God’s means of creation, since the mechanics of evolution are at odds with the attributes God is believed to possess.

So Rosenhouse actually does think ID (and creationism generally) makes “assumptions about what God must have done”, but objects to my interpretation that such assumptions can be material—whereas he prefers the theological or emotional ones. Henry Morris made such objections to theistic evolution in the 1970s, and they led him to believe in a young Earth. If all suffering and death were precipitated by the Genesis fall, the argument goes, an evolutionary mechanism involving differential survival could not have pre-dated Adam & Eve by eons of geological time. Most Christians do not buy this argument, whether or not they sympathize with ID. Rosenhouse was peeved that I did not provide great detail on these theological objections in my 800-word essay, so I hereby agree that they exist (and never denied them in the first place). Rebuttals of them from a Christian perspective have been made regularly, for example by authors I cited in my February post, among others.

No, the assumptions are not about what God must have done. The assumptions are about the attributes that God is said to possess, and the obvious conflict they pose with the actions Asher is suggesting God might have taken.

This is the reason I reacted so strongly to Asher’s essay. If the only problems were that he misrepresented the logic of atheist and ID arguments I might have let it slide. The problem is that those theological objections Asher couldn’t be bothered to address are precisely where the debate is actually raging. The title of Asher’s post suggested he was going to show us why science and religion (and specifically evolution and Christianity) could live in harmony, but then his essay never even addressed any of the real reasons so many of us think they can’t live in harmony. There is a debate raging over here about the relation of the problem of evil to evolution, and the effect that the demise of the design argument has for Christian faith, and other weighty matters, and Asher is standing over there talking to himself about banalities that do not address the real issues. It is a very weak argument to say that evolution and religion are compatible because God might have acted through natural means, when the natural means being proposed are directly at odds with the character God is believed to have.

But Asher’s point about 800 word blog posts is well-taken. So in the interests of offering a constructive note let me offer a trade. I see he has written a book, where he no doubt provides the details that had to be left out of his blog post. I also have written a book explaining my views in more detail. So, Robert, how about a trade? I’ll send you a copy of my book if you send me a copy of yours!

Asher concludes with:

Rosenhouse then asked me a question:

I’d also like to know more about the agency in which Asher believes. This agency, did it create the world through an act of its will or not? If it did, then I fail to see how it is importantly different from the anthropomorphic God he criticizes. If it did not, then whatever it is, it surely is not the God who lies at the heart of the world’s religions.

I don’t know how the agency behind the laws of the universe did its creating. Obviously on that scale we’re not really close to anything remotely human-like, so probably it didn’t have a “will” like you and I have. What I do know is that we seem to be inside of its creation, the laws of which exist whether or not us humans are around to notice. But not only do we notice, we can actually understand some of them. I also know that Judeo-Christian scripture tells us to love our neighbor, not to lie, and that we can accomplish more together than on our own. Despite its human imperfections, the global infrastructure that we have to promote these ideas, including religion, is a good thing. Good writers who are science-literate (like Jason Rosenhouse) should strive to improve this infrastructure, not trash it.

Let me close with a question for you, Jason: Why did Charles Darwin include the following quote by Francis Bacon on the title pages of every edition of Origin of Species?

To conclude, therefore, let no man out of a weak conceit of sobriety, or an ill-applied moderation, think or maintain, that a man can search too far or be too well studied in the book of God’s word, or in the book of God’s works; divinity or philosophy; but rather let men endeavour an endless progress or proficience in both.

Asher is certainly within his rights to say nothing at all about the agency in which he believes. But then he has not really made any contribution to the discussion about “accommodationism,” which at least in these sorts of internet arguments is generally taken to refer to accommodating science with Christianity.

I’m afraid I simply disagree that that portion of the global infrastructure that includes religion is a good thing. It’s harmful aspects seem far more obvious to me than its benefits, and so I think we should be dismantling large chunks of it with all possible speed. I’m sure Asher would agree, for example, that the almost completely secular countries of Scandinavia are far more pleasant places to live than the theocracies of the Middle East, just to pick one obvious data point. So I think Asher will need to provide a bit more nuance before he convinces me that religion’s contribution to human discourse is, on balance, positive. But that is definitely a topic for a different day.

As for the Darwin quote, I’m not sure what I’m being challenged to address. When I think of Darwin and religion, I think of how he was driven to agnosticism in large part because of the cruelty that was so manifest to him in his studies of nature. I don’t understand how Asher can be so cavalier about lauding the mystical agency he sees behind nature while ignoring all of that savagery.

Well, so much for that. But two final points. The first is that posts like this tend to attract a lot of comments, so please keep things civil and on point. The second is that normally I would be happy to participate actively in such a comment thread. Sadly, while my back is slowly healing, it is still very uncomfortable for me to sit up for than a few minutes at a time. So I will not be participating actively in the comments. Please do not interpret that as lack of interest, though.

Comments

  1. #1 harold
    November 29, 2012

    As usual, disputants about “religion” are arguing at cross purposes.

    Here Rosenhouse makes the valid point that non-religious people have good reasons for not finding any particular current religion convincing. That’s a valid point. I don’t find any religion convincing either.

    This is completely separate from the point that many people do find some culturally accepted religious claims convincing, unlike me, yet are completely capable of understanding and contributing to science at the highest level.

    If you tell me that Ken Miller’s religious beliefs aren’t convincing , I personally agree. Obviously, if I didn’t agree, I’d have converted to Catholicism already. (Of course if Ken Miller ascribed to a religion with dogma that actively contradicted his scientific work that would be compromising, but he doesn’t.)

    If you (hypothetical “you”, not any actual individual) tell me that people with religious beliefs by necessity lack a rigorous approach in science and can’t do good scientific work, you’re wrong and Ken Miller is one of the many counter-examples that immediately prove that idea wrong. Of course his religious beliefs don’t stand up to scientific scrutiny, but his scientific work and opinions do.

  2. #2 Mathew Goldstein
    November 29, 2012

    Asher says: “the existence of nature in the first place might comprise evidence [for god]“. If nature operates entirely within a sel-contained material context then nature is evidence AGAINST a non-material, willful agent. Since all of the evidence we have favors exactly this self-contained materialistic context as being true, Asher is creating his god from nothing, with nothing, for nothing, by nothing more than declaration and then mis-labeling his declaration to be “evidence” as if by this effortless legerdemain he has actually done some work of substance towards achieving some conclusion.

    Then he says: “i do so by arguing that his suspicion that “maybe there is no god” is no more justified than my suspicion that maybe God acts through nature.” But a belief is justified by evidence, not by declarations of symetrical equality between opposing beliefs. The former position is better supported by the evidence than the latter belief because the latter belief introduces a non-material willful agent which is contrary to all of the evidence that all willful agents are material.

    Asher fails to show that there is any evidence for an immaterial willful agent, instead he asserts that presuming such an entity provides value added in the form of explanatory utility. But it is the explanatory utility of a catch-all declaration that could be deployed to explain anything and everything under any possible context while itself being unexplainable (merely transferring all the missing explanation onto god instead of explaining anything that is otherwise unexplained) and is thus vacuous.

  3. #3 J. Quinton
    November 29, 2012

    I’m always amused when theists think that any anthropomorphication of god by atheists is a strawman or caricature. The most egregious anthropomorphication of god is a god with emotions.

    All emotions have evolved, and they evolved due to natural selection. And because all emotions have evolved, all emotions are physical. There’s no such thing as an immaterial emotion. A god with emotions makes as much sense as a god with a penis, and any defense you make for a god with emotions could easily be applied to a god with a penis.

  4. #4 Ichthyic
    November 30, 2012

    ” But then he has not really made any contribution to the discussion about “accommodationism,” which at least in these sorts of internet arguments is generally taken to refer to accommodating science with Christianity.”

    the problem is that Asher, as well as matzke and many others, confuse compartmentalization with accommodation and conclude thus that religion is epistemologically compatible with science, when it simply isn’t.

    just because humans are able to compartmentalize and function while maintaining two entirely disparate ideas in their heads at the same time, does NOT mean that those ideas are logically compatible.

    I cannot fathom why it is that so many accomodationists simply fail to understand such a simple point, and continue to refer to Ken Miller as if that was an example that “proved” science and religion are compatible!

    I have a dent in my forehead over these folks, as they are even harder to understand than creationists.

  5. #5 MNb
    November 30, 2012

    The compatibility of science and religion doesn’t interest me very much. Suppose believers succeed. I’ll still be an atheist. In other words, it’s not my problem. It’s the problem of believers and their solutions, whether they are satisfactory or not, will not change one bit of my convictions.

    “We simply observe that a God who works entirely through natural forces is hard to distinguish from no God at all.”
    I can think of a simple test to determine the first. If the victims of the Japanese tsunami 1

  6. #6 MNb
    November 30, 2012

    If the victims of the Japanese tsunami 1½ years ago had been collectively warned by a nightmare a week before a divine intervention would have been quite credible. He still would have worked entirely through natural forces.
    But yeah, absence of evidence is no evidence of absence. I can imagine a god who doesn’t mess with natural forces at all. I still don’t see any reason to believe in such a god.

    As far as the Problem of Evil is concerned we atheists should realize that religions like Hinduism and Pastafarianism don’t have an issue with it at all.

  7. #7 David L
    November 30, 2012

    “..we don’t see elephants hiding in trees because they hide very skillfully.”

    I would push that analogy further and say nor should we avoid walking under trees out of fear of being crushed by a falling elephant

  8. #8 G
    November 30, 2012

    First, re. J. Quinton: I would argue that emotions are physical not because they evolved, but because they are produced by the repeatable (under controlled conditions, double-blind) interactions of physical neurochemicals with physical neurons. The fact that neurons, and the chemicals that tickle them to produce the sensations we know as emotions, both evolved, can reasonably be inferred (though strictly speaking we don’t know the subjective sensations of other animals), but is not the most proximate premise for the conclusion.

    Onward to accommodationism:

    Ultimately, the causes of religious belief are neurophysiological and in particular emotional (whether via social factors or deep personal experiences). Those who wish to argue strict logic to emotions are welcome to try doing so with any artists or musicians they know, or with their partners during sex.

    The roots of the present debate between theists and atheists (“animosity” would not be too strong a word) are in the history of theocratic regimes’ treatment of science, and the re-emergence of theocratic ideology in the form of Dominionism (look up Rousas J. Rushdoony). Simply put, a highly influential plurality is attempting to impose relentless obscurantism and a long list of arbitrary cruelties upon society at-large, this group has scored a number of successes (keywords “abortion” and “marriage”), and it has also made science one of its chief targets. Since we have seen similar instances in other times and places, from the Inquisition to the Taliban and more, we react by mobilizing as if for war.

    That much, by itself, is a rational and understandable response to a real and tangible threat. But let’s not fool ourselves into thinking we are acting purely rationally here: tribal self-preservation instincts and emotional reactions are the common ground of humanity, rationalists included.

    Thus we draw the circle of enemies far wider than any objective assessment warrants, and in doing so, we sharpen the polarization and alienate (or at minimum, demotivate) potential allies. Who among us would argue that Martin Luther King, Desmond Tutu, the Dalai Lama, et. al., have ever been antagonistic to science?

    Let’s be clear about this: if people want to believe in deities, or believe that X music is better than Y music, or Q food is more delicious than R food, or that sex with men or with women is more fulfilling, etc., then in a pluralistic society we should support their rights to do so. Where we should draw the hard line is against anyone seeking to impose religious ideologies upon society at-large, and we should insist upon the use of scientific facts and supported hypotheses & theories as the basis of public policy.

    Arguing militant atheism against militant theism just leads to a permanent stalemate, makes atheists appear as just another flavor of strident dogmatists seeking to dominate others, and gives theocrats more ammunition to use in their appeals to the public. The use of deprecatory humor against theists gives theocrats not only ammo, but recruitment propaganda.

    The way forward for rationalists to promote rationalism to the public, is by appealing to emotions that are inherently attractive to the public. Having a bit of humility, taking ourselves less seriously, building a strong sense of inclusive community, demonstrating ethical behavior solidly grounded in principles that can be explained clearly, and demonstrating qualities that others would wish to emulate, are among the paths to successfully changing the culture.

  9. #9 eric
    November 30, 2012

    Formulation (i), which Asher does not reject as an accurate presentation of his view, is a blunt conditional statement. It says that if God exists, then a certain sort of evidence must also exist. That statement is not an accurate presentation of ID thinking. Formulation (ii), proffered by Matzke, suggests simply that in doing science we may or may not find direct evidence of God’s activity in nature.

    I agree that Asher’s characterization is not accurate, but there is a good point to be pulled from his argument. Well-crafted hypotheses ought to lead to clear predictions of the sort of evidence or tests that would confirm or refute them. If an hypothesis leaves you scratching your head about how to test it, even in principle, then its not a very good one.

    So, I would say that you are right in that Asher is mischaracterizing IDers as they currently describe ID. They do not start with a hypothetical Designer with certain hypothesized properties, and then logically infer that if it exists, some bit of evidence or experiment result must also occurr. Instead, they look out at the world and infer an intelligent cause.

    However, if they want the ID hypothesis taken seriously by science, they probably should do what Asher proposes. To use a simple and somewhat facetious example, if you’re going to hypothesize an ancient alien genetics lab, you’d better be willing to tell me where (or at least in what strata) I should dig to find it.

    Short version: the current ID position is not “If [hypothesis] then [bit o evidence].” You are right, Asher is wrong. Its currently “[evidence], infer [hypothesis]. But the former would actually be an improvement.

  10. #10 MNb
    November 30, 2012

    @G: ” we react by mobilizing as if for war.”
    “militant atheism against militant theism”
    How many divisions do General Dawkins and Marshall Dennett command?

    “we sharpen the polarization and alienate (or at minimum, demotivate) potential allies”
    How do you mean we? As I wrote above, I’m quite indifferent. There a few things I am not going to compromize on though.
    1. Non Credo.
    2. Jesus is not the perfect embodiment of agape.
    3. The Bible is not divinely inspired.

    And I’m not going to be silent about it. If anyone disagree, fine. I don’t expect that anyone to be silent either.

    @Eric:
    ebonmusings.org/evolution/twoquestions.html

    I tried the same on a Dutch site. Didn’t get an answer either.

  11. #11 Kevin Dowd
    November 30, 2012

    “and any defense you make for a god with emotions could easily be applied to a god with a penis.”

    yes well all my gods have carefully displayed peni. Check out this collection of Renaissance Baby Jesus pics…

    http://kittywampus.wordpress.com/2010/04/18/when-is-a-penis-just-a-penis-jesus-sexuality-and-the-incarnation/

  12. #13 CJColucci
    November 30, 2012

    It’s not that difficult to come up with a religion that isn’t directly incompatible with science. There’s no scientific problem with the idea that some key mutation that lead to the evolution of humans was directly introduced by a deity, rather than random, and that the natural process of evolution then worked in its normal fashion, or that this same deity made a one-off intervention in the natural order to restore life to a dead person. Of course, from a scientific point of view, there’s no reason to think any of this is true, and the balance of evidence appears to be against it, but that’s a different question. Of course, if something like MNb’s hypothetical were to happen, that might change that balance some.

  13. #14 H.H.
    November 30, 2012

    Let me close with a question for you, Jason: Why did Charles Darwin include the following quote by Francis Bacon on the title pages of every edition of Origin of Species?

    Um, because he was pandering to the superstitious? Why else?

  14. #15 Blaine
    November 30, 2012

    One of the reasons Darwin gave for becoming an agnostic was that he could not use his internal religious feelings as evidence for the divine because he recognized that he may have evolved to have those feelings for adaptive reasons and that they did not necessarily reveal the existence of anything ( cited in Adrian Desmond’s biography ).
    Darwin realized that it is a trivial exercise to establish that the feeling of certainty is a psychological state and not a truth condition.
    Science may not be the only way to know something, but it is the only way we’ve found to be pretty sure that we in fact know something when we think we do.
    If it is legitimate to base ANY belief on faith, then all faith based beliefs are equal from a legitimation point of view. As we know, all manner of evils can then be justified thereby.
    I don’t think our society is well served when we allow religious teachers in religious ‘schools’ to teach millions of people things that we know to be false.
    Of course, here too, societies cannot evade the iron law of natural selection. Stupidity is its own punishment. I just don’t want to be taken down with it.

  15. #16 eric
    November 30, 2012

    H.H.,
    What Asher doesn’t say is that this quote is the third quote listed on the page. The first one (by Whewell) is a blatant rejection of supernaturalism. The second one (by Butler) is more mixed; it seems to argue that any agent would be responsible for natural laws as much as one-shot miracles.

    Taking the three together, I would say that Darwin is definitely pandering to the religious but not supernaturalism. He IS implying the same argument Asher is – that, hey, all these natural laws and mechanisms don’t technically rule out some type of God. But he is also very clearly laying out a defense of naturalism up front: the proximate cause of species is not divine miracle.

    I also suspect that the Bacon quote Asher is fond of does not mean exactly what he thinks it means. Given that the word ‘science’ hadn’t really been invented in Bacon’s time, Bacon’s quote could easily be read as: “look folk, you can’t just study the bible (the book of God’s words) and expect to learn everything. You have to study nature (the book of God’s works) as well.” Thus, even just considered alone, I do not think the Bacon quote is a defense of theism the way Asher seems to think it is.

  16. #17 eric
    November 30, 2012

    Ah, forgot to cite my source. I looked at the OOS 6th Edition, as duplicated by Project Gutenberg. I do not know if earlier editions had all three quotes on the opening page.

  17. #18 H.H.
    November 30, 2012

    There are some great comments in this thread, but imo Ichthyic nails it:

    “the problem is that Asher, as well as matzke and many others, confuse compartmentalization with accommodation and conclude thus that religion is epistemologically compatible with science, when it simply isn’t.

    just because humans are able to compartmentalize and function while maintaining two entirely disparate ideas in their heads at the same time, does NOT mean that those ideas are logically compatible.”

    Exactly! A thousand times, this. Just ONCE I’d like to see an accommodationist capable of making this distinction.

  18. #19 RBH
    pandasthumb.org
    November 30, 2012

    In the first edition of OoS Darwin included only the Whewell and Bacon quotes. Here’s more context for the Bacon quote:

    For certain it is that God worketh nothing in Nature but by second causes; and if they would have it otherwise believed, it is mere imposture, as it were in favour towards God, and nothing else but to offer to the Author of truth the unclean sacrifice of a lie. But further, it is an assured truth, and a conclusion of experience, that a little or superficial knowledge of philosophy may incline the mind of men to atheism, but a further proceeding therein doth bring the mind back again to religion. For in the entrance of philosophy, when the second causes, which are next unto the senses, do offer themselves to the mind of man, if it dwell and stay there it may induce some oblivion of the highest cause; but when a man passeth on further and seeth the dependence of causes and the works of Providence; then, according to the allegory of the poets, he will easily believe that the highest link of Nature’s chain must needs he tied to the foot of Jupiter’s chair. To conclude, therefore, let no man upon a weak conceit of sobriety or an ill-applied moderation think or maintain that a man can search too far, or be too well studied in the book of God’s word, or in the book of God’s works, divinity or philosophy; but rather let men endeavour an endless progress or proficience in both; only let men beware that they apply both to charity, and not to swelling; to use, and not to ostentation; and again, that they do not unwisely mingle or confound these learnings together.

    Reading that context, Darwin’s inclusion of the Bacon quotation seems to me to be signaling that

    In this book I [Darwin] describe the secondary causes of the phenomena of interest. I say nothing about the first cause.

    The last clause of Bacon’s advice–“that they do not unwisely mingle or confound these learnings together”–is basically a plea for the religious to stay the hell out of Darwin’s science.

  19. #20 RBH
    pandasthumb.org
    November 30, 2012

    That last paragraph is clumsy. What I meant to say was that Darwin included the Bacon quotation, and especially the last clause, to fend off religious religious objections by appealing to Bacon’s argument for separation of consideration of secondary causes (the way God works in the world through natural processes, according to Bacon) from primary causes–consideration of the deity. Further, IMO Darwin is slyly suggesting that knowing more about the natural world could lead to greater religiosity, again defending against anticipated religious opposition to his theories.

  20. #21 Flint
    November 30, 2012

    My understanding of the ID reasoning seems very different from what Rosenhouse presents. As I read it, they START with their non-negotiable Christian God, and the entire creationist baggage inherent in their flavor of this faith. OK, GIVEN that their God created life, how can this be preached without running afoul of a serious of legal decisions?

    Well, they’ve identified certain keywords, things like “god” and “creation” and “bible” and “faith” and the like, as being indicators of religious basis. So the task is to present the tenets of the creationist faith while neither using these keywords, nor losing sight of the creationist doctrine.

    So the argument that natural systems possess characteristics impossible without intelligent input (as we understand human intelligence) is what remains after legal and political pruning of biblical creationism.

    I personally can’t reconcile Rosenhouse’s presentation of the ID argument with Johnson’s wedge document.

  21. #22 Deepak Shetty
    November 30, 2012

    . I do so by arguing that his suspicion that “maybe there is no god” is no more justified than my suspicion that maybe God acts through nature.
    Perhaps more accurate framed maybe God acts through nature now.
    Guiding evolution? God works through nature!
    Impregnating virgins? Ah that needs God to be more hands on.

  22. #23 Explicit Atheist
    December 1, 2012

    Flint, no one is claiming that ID advocates are not motivated by their religious beliefs in the sequence that you outline. The point here is that the ID argument itself is presented in the form of conclusion second following from the evidence first. Don’t confuse their motives, which are ultimately for they themselves to describe or mis-describe, with their argument. We don’t need to second guess their motives to evaluate their argument.

  23. #24 harold
    December 1, 2012

    H. H. said

    “the problem is that Asher, as well as matzke and many others, confuse compartmentalization with accommodation and conclude thus that religion is epistemologically compatible with science, when it simply isn’t.

    just because humans are able to compartmentalize and function while maintaining two entirely disparate ideas in their heads at the same time, does NOT mean that those ideas are logically compatible.”

    Exactly! A thousand times, this. Just ONCE I’d like to see an accommodationist capable of making this distinction.

    Actually, I am someone you might label as an “accommodationist” – a term I strongly reject for reasons I will make clear below – and I expressed the same point.

    In fact, here is the quote from my comment, which you don’t quote but may be alluding to, in a way which distorts the meaning (I have added new emphasis) –

    If you (hypothetical “you”, not any actual individual) tell me that people with religious beliefs by necessity lack a rigorous approach in science and can’t do good scientific work, (implied:thenyou’re wrong and Ken Miller is one of the many counter-examples that immediately prove that idea wrong. Of course his religious beliefs don’t stand up to scientific scrutiny, but his scientific work and opinions do.

    Every word in this paragraph is logically correct, and the final sentence explains that Ken Miller “compartmentalizes”.

    I don’t personally follow a religion. I have always agreed that all religious claims I am personally aware of either directly deny science, or are assertions which can’t be directly tested by science. I would always agree to that, even if I did choose to accept some untestable religious assertions for cultural or personal reasons, which I don’t.

    I have always noted that ID/creationism is a load of BS. “ID” proper isn’t even internally logically coherent.

    The term “accommodationist” reeks of authoritarian purity-testing (and authoritarian purity-testing reeks of sadistic dominance obsession).

    The only prominent person I can think of who has a public track record of simultaneously seeming to endorse both evolutionary and creationist ideas – i.e. of attempting to “accommodate” one with the other – is George W. Bush

    Since no other person I am aware of – with the possible exception of Bobby Jindal – is prone to simultaneously claim that evolution and creationism “is both true”, and since people are nevertheless labeled “accommodationist”, it must imply something more. What makes someone an “accommodationist”? Admitting that some religious beliefs don’t directly contradict science in a concrete way (even while admitting that this doesn’t remotely make them credible)? Believing that scientists, and all other people, have a right to their own private beliefs, and should be judged by their work and behavior? What is the minimum standard someone has to meet before they should be labeled an “accomodationist”?

    There is no preview function here, so apologies in advance for any typos or html screwups which may be present.

  24. #25 Robert Asher
    Cambridge, UK
    December 1, 2012

    Hi Jason, I’d love a copy of your book, and i’d be happy to send you a copy of mine. To what address should I send it? For mine please use my name plus the dept. address at zoo.cam.ac.uk (where you can also find my email to let me know your correct mailing address).

    In regards to your response to my response to your response, here are some very brief thoughts:
    1) Your objections are about form, not substance, and I think you’re closer to Sedgwick than you’re willing to admit.
    2) I’m not saying there are invisible elephants in trees. I’m saying there are trees (or more precisely laws by which trees can evolve) in the first place—and quit looking for elephants.
    3) I’m not hugely interested in how UD-subscribers portray the link between ID and their human-like god, any more than you’re hugely interested in their arguments for God as a first cause.
    4) The Bacon quote (among Darwin’s letters & texts) is interesting in part because it reflects Darwin’s humility: he knew he was (and we are) little fish in a little pond and speculating about what’s beyond the pond was not a definitive affair that led to atheism. I go farther than he does in my willingness to embrace religion, in part because I really do find scripture inspiring (yes I do pick-n-choose, which is not a bad thing), and science non-contradictory. Jerry Coyne disagreed with, but nevertheless graciously posted, Elliot Sober’s views on this issue:
    http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2012/05/16/elliott-sober-responds-to-my-challenge/
    I’ve never seen an adequate anti-theist response to this, or to a related, 2009 Ken Miller post for that matter:
    http://www.millerandlevine.com/evolution/Coyne-Accommodation.htm
    My book is mostly about evidence in favor of evolution, less so about philosophy and theology, and on the latter points I don’t pretend to make a stronger case for compatibility than Sober or Miller (among others) have done.
    I don’t expect any of this is going to change your mind but it’s nice to have the conversation anyway.
    Sincerely, Robert Asher

  25. #26 Flint
    December 1, 2012

    “We don’t need to second guess their motives to evaluate their argument.” Well, the problem here is that their argument isn’t based on evidence, though I admit the FORM of the argument is. So I suppose if I were to say “The moon is up there, I can’t accept any proposed natural means for this, therefore I conclude it was intelligently placed there” I’d be basing conclusions on evidence, according to the necessary form. The fact that my conclusion is not based on evidence, and indeed is in defiance of the evidence, doesn’t affect the FORM of the argument. Or something like that.

    Now, why would I make a claim not based on any evidence, but phrase it in a FORM making it look that way? Well, we simply won’t address that (core, essential) question. That strikes me as unhelpful, but YMMV.

  26. #27 harold
    December 1, 2012

    Flint said

    “We don’t need to second guess their motives to evaluate their argument.” Well, the problem here is that their argument isn’t based on evidence, though I admit the FORM of the argument is

    Flint and Explicit Atheist are both equally correct.

    They are both correct because ID is deceptive.

    The true immediate motives of ID proper, i.e. the works of DI-associated figures such as Dembski, Behe, Wells, are legal, political, and pecuniary. Direct teaching of YEC dogma as “science” in taxpayer-funded schools was found to be illegal, and ID immediately popped up, as a “plausible deniability” strategy to deny evolution (and thus imply post-modern Evangelical fundamentalist creation mythology) in public schools. It generated a lot of attention until if failed in Dover in 2005.

    ID figures pretended to “discover” that “evolution could’t explain the bacterial flagellum” (or whatever), of course.

    The true motive was “say anything to deny evolution”. But it is deceptively presented.

  27. #28 proximity1
    December 1, 2012

    This issue is much more complicated than the comments suggest. There is no easy accomodation available, claims to the contrary notwithstanding. Moreover, _many_ accredited scientists are, whether wittingly or not, profoundly achored in a material essentialism, a finalist view of nature and of evolution which stands everything Darwin wrote and argued on its head and places genetics and evolutionary biology in a ridiculous posture which creationists have not failed to recognize as being a mere 1/2 step from outright Deism or another orthodox religion. EB, ENS, make of the gene a substitute for all the agency once attributed to a creative God–in that, they simply move the problem back one step rather than actually explain evolutionary processes at their source.

    As incredible as it may seem and sound, much of conventional science has ignored or forgotten or misunderstood the most important insights of Darwin’s work and theories–if they ever had them in the first place.

    In reply to CJColucci’s — “It’s not that difficult to come up with a religion that isn’t directly incompatible with science. There’s no scientific problem with the idea that some key mutation that lead to the evolution of humans was directly introduced by a deity, rather than random, and that the natural process of evolution then worked in its normal fashion, or that this same deity made a one-off intervention in the natural order to restore life to a dead person. Of course, from a scientific point of view, there’s no reason to think any of this is true, and the balance of evidence appears to be against it, but that’s a different question.” —

    no– it isn’t a different question. As soon as a theory posits that something, anything, “was directly introduced by a deity, rather than random”, the whole edifice of scientific reason goes by the boards. There is no such thing as being “a little bit” : pregnant, or religious or scientific.

    Science and the supernatural are inherently irreconcilable and the fact that there can be many accredited scientists who simply do not understand that or why it is so testifies to the very deplorable state of science education and contemporary reasoning abilities–across the board, scientists and non-scientists alike.

    Read Darwin. the journal of the voyage of the Beagle, The Origin, his corresponence, and his Descent of Man and The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals. Because nearly everyone gets from his schooling only a puny and much too simplified view of Darwin’s work an d theories, we find ourselves today in the midst of a slew of sheer nonsense in ehtics and morals, in politics, in economics, in education and in business and finance theory and practice which persists only because a profound ignorance of Darwin’s ingenious insights are lost on most of us.

  28. #29 proximity1
    December 1, 2012

    that is, to amend and correct,

    …” Read Darwin. the journal of the voyage of the Beagle, The Origin, his corresponence, and his Descent of Man and The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals. Because nearly everyone gets from his schooling only a puny and much too simplified view of Darwin’s work an d theories, we find ourselves today in the midst of a slew of sheer nonsense in ehtics and morals, in politics, in economics, in education and in business and finance theory and practice which persists only because there is such a widespread and profound ignorance of Darwin’s ingenious insights.

    Darwin’s understanding and its profound implications are lost on most of us.

  29. #30 Jason Rosenhouse
    December 1, 2012

    Hi Robert. You can have the last word in our discussion (for now!) but I look forward to reading your book. You can use my office address: Jason Rosenhouse, Dept. of Math and Stat., James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA, 22807, USA. Thanks for the food for thought!

  30. #31 Explicit Atheist
    December 1, 2012

    Proximity1 disagrees with CJColucci’s defense of religion being compatible with science on the grounds that science is rooted in materialism. However, science is about discovering what is true by following the evidence wherever it leads utilizing any method that has been shown to be reliably productive. The materialism that is favored by modern science in the conclusions and methodologies is a result of the fact that all of the evidence takes us towards materialistic conclusions and methods. The materialistic worldview is a result of science, and it is for that reason that adopting non-materialistic conclusions and methods flouts science. It is not true that a materialistic worldview is intrinsic to science. Instead, a materialistic worldview is intrinsic to our universe, it is the best fit with the evidence. ID could have been correct, in which case it would be true that, for example, biological mechanisms are irreducible complex. But biological mechanisms are not irreducible complex, contrary to what ID advocates assert. It is because, over and over again, all of the time, the supernatural worldview fails and the materialistic worldview succeeds, that science stringly disfavors supernatural conclusions and methods. This is a result of science, not a property intrinsic to science.

  31. #32 harold
    December 1, 2012

    Science and the supernatural are inherently irreconcilable and the fact that there can be many accredited scientists who simply do not understand that or why it is so testifies to the very deplorable state of science education and contemporary reasoning abilities–across the board, scientists and non-scientists alike.

    I disagree.

    One of the most fundamental characteristics of science is that it is a method which allows resolution of disputes to a mutually respectful consensus, by making use of objective observations and logical inferences that reasonable people across diverse cultures find intuitively credible.

    Science can and does address supernatural questions when they are presented in this format. Does distant prayer, which patients are unaware of, affect patient medical outcome? Apparently not. That supernatural but testable claim has not stood up to testing. (On the other hand, supportive visits, including those involving prayer, have been shown to improve outcomes in some clinical settings.)

    Science also tested, initially quite unintentionally, the claims that the God of Christianity created the universe about 6000 years ago, created each species on earth independently at that time, etc. That doesn’t seem to be what happened.

    However, it is typical of advocates of supernatural claims to construct them, seemingly deliberately, in a manner that defies testing, and/or to deny the logical interpretation of testing.

  32. #33 Explicit Atheist
    December 1, 2012

    Harold wrote “Flint and Explicit Atheist are both equally correct. They are both correct because ID is deceptive.”

    But how do we know that it is deceptive? We know because the evidence demonstrates that they persist in utilizing falsified assertions for their evidence. It is because their arguments are seriously flawed, yet they persist in making those arguments, that we conclude that they are matching their arguments to their pre-existing beliefs, rather than forming their beliefs from the evidence. Ultimately, what counts is the evidences, their veracity, their logical connection to the conclusion, that we rely on to evaluate their argument, in whatever form that argument is presented by them. Our assessment of their motive follows after our evaluation of their argument. We will properly question their motive only AFTER we conclude their argument, in the form that they present it, is untenable.

  33. #34 Explicit Atheist
    December 1, 2012

    Harold: “Science can and does address supernatural questions when they are presented in this format.”

    Yes. One reason that “god directed the gene mutations via undetectable quantum mechanics” is not scientific is that this god conjecture is completely unnecessary, we have no justification to make such conjectures in the evidence, such conjectures don’t explain anything that is not already explained, nor does it fit comfortably with anything else we know about how our world works (why would a god operate in such a deceitful, hidden, manner?). Another reason is that all of our evidence favors materialistic mechanisms over non-materialistic mechanisms, a non-material god thus resides outside of, and contrary to, the framework of what we are justified to believe on the evidence. Science requires adhering to the discipline of following the evidence, which entails BOTH going wherever the evidence takes and not going where the evidence doesn’t take us.

  34. #35 G
    December 1, 2012

    Thought experiment:

    Ask yourself, “how would the observable universe differ, if my belief in the existence or nonexistence of a deity was incorrect?”

    Then ask yourself, “how would the observable universe differ, if the belief that is the opposite of my belief in the existence or nonexistence of a deity was incorrect?”

  35. #36 eric
    December 2, 2012

    Robert Asher:

    I really do find scripture inspiring (yes I do pick-n-choose, which is not a bad thing), and science non-contradictory. Jerry Coyne disagreed with, but nevertheless graciously posted, Elliot Sober’s views on this issue:
    http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2012/05/16/elliott-sober-responds-to-my-challenge/
    I’ve never seen an adequate anti-theist response to this…

    Sober is defending logical possibility. Is that what you’re defending? Its a pretty weak claim. Santa Claus is logically possible. Aliens who abduct farmers to anally probe them is logically possible.

    “Logical possibility” as an argument has the same problem as Pascal’s wager: it provides equal support for an infinite number of contradictory conclusions.

  36. #37 MNb
    December 2, 2012

    “Does distant prayer, which patients are unaware of, affect patient medical outcome?”
    Praying is not supernatural; neither are those medical outcomes. Such experiments indeed confirm materialism, but do not disprove supernaturalisms. Like Jerry Coyne likes to say: you can’t disprove that your computer is run by little demons.

    “this god conjecture is completely unnecessary”
    Yes, but it still doesn’t prove anything. Those little demons running your computer are completely unnecessary, hence materialism assumes they don’t exist, hence they are completely unnecessary.

    “all of our evidence favors materialistic mechanisms”
    Yes, obviously. This is an open door. All that evidence is drawn form the materialistic universe. Doesn’t prove anything either.
    I agree completely with you, but in the end all you manage to prove is NOMA. Believing is having faith; knowing is founded on science. That way too many intelligent believers mix the two is no justification for atheists to do the same.
    This is why I basically don’t care. I only get interested when said intelligent believers begin to produce nonsense about science due to their wish to combine it with their religious convictions.

  37. #38 harold
    December 2, 2012

    “Does distant prayer, which patients are unaware of, affect patient medical outcome?”
    Praying is not supernatural; neither are those medical outcomes.

    The hypothesis that distant prayer, of which patients had no knowledge, would impact clinical outcome, was being tested.

    That is a test of a supernatural claim. There is no known natural mechanism by which prayer can effect physical outcomes at distant sites. Of course, someone might decide to play asinine semantic games with the definition of “supernatural”. But any reasonable English-speaking person would agree that if prayer does cause physical outcomes at distant sites, that would qualify as supernatural.

    A positive result would not have demonstrated that God answers this type of prayer. But it would have demonstrated a seemingly supernatural event.

    Such experiments indeed confirm materialism,

    I have no idea what you mean by “such” experiments. The experiment I described made use of methodological materialism, but had nothing to do with philosophical materialism. It was a highly specific experiment.

    but do not disprove supernaturalisms. Like Jerry Coyne likes to say: you can’t disprove that your computer is run by little demons.

    I alluded to that trivially obvious point when I said –

    However, it is typical of advocates of supernatural claims to construct them, seemingly deliberately, in a manner that defies testing, and/or to deny the logical interpretation of testing.

    At this point, I’m going to guess something, and I’d like you to tell me whether my guess is correct.

    My guess is that you have motivation for distorting the meaning of my comment. I noted the trivial fact that some supernatural claims are testable. My guess is that you mistook that for “saying something good about religion/the supernatural”. My guess is that you feel that in order for someone to “be atheist enough” and pass all atheism related purity tests, they must always state that all supernatural claims are untestable.

    This is just a guess though. May I ask if I am correct?

  38. #39 harold
    December 2, 2012

    eric said –

    Sober is defending logical possibility. Is that what you’re defending? Its a pretty weak claim. Santa Claus is logically possible. Aliens who abduct farmers to anally probe them is logically possible.

    “Logical possibility” as an argument has the same problem as Pascal’s wager: it provides equal support for an infinite number of contradictory conclusions.

    There is a historical reason for these frequent defenses of “logical possibility”.

    Today, if self-identification as an “atheist” is associated with anything, it’s mainly associated with a pro-science, politically progressive attitude.

    Young contemporary atheists tend to insist, sometimes with undue rage, that atheism means “lack of belief in gods”. By that standard, I’m clearly an atheist. (I personally consider myself a Christian atheist and apatheist.)

    However, I’m old enough to remember when the most common association with atheism was communism.

    Now that communism has largely disappeared as a system, it’s easy to forget how prominent it was in conversation as recently as thirty years ago.

    In the sixties and seventies, atheism often did imply a dogmatic denial of the possible existence of any god (in the service of another dogma). People like me called themselves “agnostics”, which at that time meant exactly what “atheist” is usually said to mean now.

    I’m not sure when or why the word “atheist” shifted in meaning. There certainly seems to be a temporal relationship to the collapse of Soviet communism. You can now call yourself an “atheist” without implying that you think that Soviet communism is a pretty cool system.

  39. #40 harold
    December 2, 2012

    Today, if self-identification as an “atheist” is associated with anything, it’s mainly associated with a pro-science, politically progressive attitude.

    Although sometimes with mildly authoritarian overtones, I should add.

  40. #41 Explicit Atheist
    December 2, 2012

    Yesterday, I published my response to Robert Asher, http://secularhumanist.blogspot.com/2012/12/is-nature-by-itself-sufficient-evidence.html, Is nature by itself sufficient evidence for god?

  41. #42 Walt
    December 2, 2012

    A good way to test atheism is for atheist to prove life has a natural origin … What we see from atheist is their version of an immaculate conception myth. Another test of atheism is cultural. Europe is far more secular than American and thus going down the toilet plus the Europeans are vanishing as a race of people. Americanis vastly superior to Europe and thus evidence (not proof) that God is real and atheists have no clue.

  42. #43 Explicit Atheist
    December 2, 2012

    MNb, I think you are confused.

    You say things like “such experiments indeed confirm materialism, but do not disprove supernaturalisms.”

    We are not talking about proof/dispoof in some impossible to achieve sense (we are not omniscient!), we are talking about which conclusion we are properly justified to believe based on the evidence. Naturalism says that everything is bosons and fermions and quantum wave functions while supernaturalism says the opposite, so all evidence for naturalism is ipso facto evidence against supernaturalism because they are conflicting conclusions.

    You say “Like Jerry Coyne likes to say: you can’t disprove that your computer is run by little demons.”

    Yes, and Jerry’s point is that it is wrong, a mistake, to believe in little demons, just like it is wrong, a mistake, to believe in gods, on the basis of this “you cannot disprove” assertion. Again, proof/disproof is for omniscient beings, we are just humans, so the standard here is proper justification.

    You say “Those little demons running your computer are completely unnecessary, hence materialism assumes they don’t exist, hence they are completely unnecessary.”

    No. It isn’t “materialism assumes they don’t exist”, it is that the cumulative direction of the available EVIDENCE is unfavorable to the existence of those little demons. Belief in those little demons is unjustified. We need to start with evidence and go wherever the evidence takes us. If the evidence doesn’t takes us to little demons, then we are obligated to believe that little demons don’t exist.

    You say “All that evidence is drawn form the materialistic universe. Doesn’t prove anything either.”

    You appear to be agreeing that all of the evidence leads us to conclude that our universe is entirely materialistic. Given that conclusion it necessarily follows that we are unjustified in being theists. If you are insisting that conclusions that contradict the evidence remain justified then you are not being rational, that is no different than insisting that it is justified to believe that demons are running around inside some computers.

    “I agree completely with you, but in the end all you manage to prove is NOMA.”

    Huh? How did I prove NOMA. I cannot possibly prove NOMA. .NOMA.is wrong. Theism is an assertion about what exists and as such is subject to the same standards of true/false verification from the evidence as any other assertion about what exists, including little demons running around inside computers.

    “Believing is having faith; knowing is founded on science. That way too many intelligent believers mix the two is no justification for atheists to do the same.”

    Believing in the existence of something can only be justified on evidence, never on faith. You seem to think that faith is a valid alternative method of claiming to know that something exists, which is what people who say the believe in god on the basis of faith are claiming. Theism is a knowledge claim. You are the one who is confusing faith as a method with knowledge as a conclusion. The issue is not faith versus knowledge, that is an apples (up front method) versus oranges (down back conclusion) comparison. The issue is faith versus evidence as the proper method for acquiring knowledge.

  43. #44 Explicit Atheist
    December 2, 2012

    Walt: the test for any conclusion is the direction of the overall evidence. This means that it is rarely the case that any one, individual, isolated piece of evidence suffices. So we wolud need a science fiction writer to conjure up an alternative universe where theism would be a properly justified belief. But we can give examples of peices of evidence favorable to theism. Astro-physicist Lawrence Krauss puts it this way:

    Now, it would be easy to have evidence for God. If the stars rearrange themselves tonight and I looked up tonight—well not here, but in a place where you could see the stars, in Arizona, say,—and I looked up tonight and I saw the stars rearrange themselves say, “I am here.” Gee, that’s pretty interesting evidence! And, in fact, when we talk about evidence, the only evidence you can have for God is really miraculous evidence because the existence of God implies something that is supernatural, something beyond that which can be explained by physical theory. So if you’re going to have evidence for God, it has to be miraculous evidence.

    Biologists would cite the possibilities for evidence of a young earth, for sudden creation of species, etc.

  44. #45 Explicit Atheist
    December 2, 2012

    MNb, please consider the difference between a method of reaching a conclusion and a conclusion. Which is which?

    Knowledge: method of reaching a conclusion or conclusion?
    The materialistic universe: method of reaching a conclusion or conclusion?
    Faith: method of reaching a conclusion or conclusion?
    Evidence: method of reaching a conclusion or conclusion?

    Then go back and re-organize your thoughts with this distinction in mind to avoid placing category errors in your arguments and to avoid pitting apples against oranges.

  45. #46 harold
    December 2, 2012

    Walt said (possibly joking) –

    A good way to test atheism is for atheist to prove life has a natural origin …

    Although I certainly don’t speak for “atheists”, and overall I am an apatheist, I will note that this would not test atheism at all. It would test whether or not we can come up with a good scientific model of how life might have originated. The absence of such a model would not prove the existence of any particular deity, and the development of such a model would not disprove every possible deity.

    I think that someday we will have such a model (there is further to go than some may realize, though), unless we destroy ourselves, or at least our ability to do science, first.

    As a related note, he idea that life is somehow chemically different from the rest of the universe has been disproven since 1828.

    What we see from atheist is their version of an immaculate conception myth.

    Your comment is so profoundly wrong and ill-reasoned on so many levels that it is difficult to address all the errors.

    Here you resort to the post-modern “I arbitrarily choose my own ridiculous belief over your ridiculous belief” logical structure. In order to defend your belief in the immaculate conception, you imply that it is ridiculous, but that others hold equally ridiculous ideas. Do you seriously think that this is a strong way to defend your belief?

    Furthermore, your assertion about “atheists” is incorrect.

    It would, of course, be irrelevant if some atheists believed as you suggest. It is scientists, some of whom are probably not atheists (although many admittedly are), who build and test origin-of-life models.

    Another test of atheism is cultural.

    So much stupidity packed into every sentence…

    First of all, this is trivially illogical, and borders on being an anti-Christian statement, since traditional Christianity holds that the most sincere faith is often found among the poorest and most disadvantaged people. The idea that something is true if richer people believe in it is exquisitely moronic.

    But what’s really amusing is that if this were true, it would disprove your own claims.

    Europe is far more secular than American and thus going down the toilet

    I actually disagree with the contention that Americans are less secular than Europeans in any serious way, but they are ostensibly more religious than some Euorpean societies. On the other hand, there are places in Europe with high rates of religious practice.

    The United States is currently ranked something like sixteenth in terms of standard of living among countries in the world. Most of the countries that do better are in Europe. Even the more troubled European countries, like France, have superior health statistics, lower crime rate, more leisure time, etc.

    In addition, although the US can be argued to be less secular than some parts of Western Europe, almost all of the poorest and most troubled nations on earth are far less secular than EITHER the US or Europe. By your own illogical standard, your own claim is disproven. If the validity of “religion” is to be measured by the state of the “culture” in places that are highly religious, than “religion” must be false. But of course, that’s a stupid way to try to measure religion.

    plus the Europeans are vanishing as a race of people.

    So much idiocy…so many layers…

    First of all, you seem to be implying that Europeans are of a different “race” than white Americans.

    Second of all, it is true that fertility inversely correlates with child mortality. That’s true everywhere. No-one knows exactly why, but the idea that “many people choose to have less children when they are confident that the children they do have will survive” is intuitively credible. That’s true everywhere, not just Europe, and is true in the US.

    Americanis vastly superior to Europe

    The irony here is that this person probably despises Americans who are not of European descent.

    and thus evidence (not proof) that God is real and atheists have no clue.

    The only thing that this statement is evidence of, is that you can’t understand basic logic.

    I’m not personally “against religion”, nor interested in disproving religion, but I can say with confidence that YOUR religious claims are probably stupid.

  46. #47 Walt
    December 2, 2012

    Harold,

    You are entitledntonyour own opinion but not your own set of facts. People who voted for Obama are both more secular than those who voted for Romney but they are also vastly more dis functional. Check out the single mother vote to back my POV. They got that way by living by impulse where Christians tend to have a much longer view because they expect to meet their maker some day and be held accountable.

    Ain and Italy are depopulating not for a mysterious reason but because men are single at 37 and their mothers still do their laundry.

    Rather than be called a racist Charles Murray documented exactly my POV in a very excellent book called “Comimg Apart …” where he documents exactly why a lower class has blossomed into existence in the last thirty or so years here in America. Obama appeals to dis functional people like the woman who got her Obama phone and want freebies from the government.
    Let’s just say this woman has no idea of something called the Protestant work ethic. Catholic countries also tend to be the poorer part of the Christian world community … Martin Luther had the goods on their misdeeds even as he had his own issues he wasnanstep up. Christianity is self correcting because there is an external standard that works …. Note most of us just celebrated Thanksgiving which was the Pilgrims (they didn’t call themselves pilgrims) throwing off a trial with socialism.

    Note that the Irish voted leftist and took a long time to integrate into American and we have the same thing with illegal
    Mexicans.

    Ask yourself why Creativity is greatest in America and the iPad was not invented in China.

    Well over 150 years ago Alexis d Tocqueville documented why America’snrevolution succeeded and the French one was a total disaster and failed. Atheist tend to think history began when they were born and have no clue why things are as they are. … And that includes guessing life has a natural origin when there is ZERO EVIDENCE to support that POV.

    Try getting a clue by reading Schroedinger’s “what is life”. Good wake up call to the uneducated in physics and chemistry. And Shannon equally applies. Materialists have no clue and they just guess If they were honest they would admit that they don’t know how life began. But every biology book starts with the idea life got started somehow and then evolution took over.

    Lenski’s LTEE SHOWS EVOLUTION ISNA HOAX.

  47. #48 eric
    December 2, 2012

    [eric] “Logical possibility” as an argument has the same problem as Pascal’s wager: it provides equal support for an infinite number of contradictory conclusions.

    [Harold] There is a historical reason for these frequent defenses of “logical possibility”…

    I doubt it has much to do with some leftover association of atheism with communism. I expect it has more to do with the people who pose it recognizing they have no empirical evidence for their belief, so “well, you can’t definitively rule my belief out” is the best they accept they can do.

  48. #49 Flint
    December 2, 2012

    I think Jason is presenting what I consider the default position – that if the notion of gods adds no explanatory power to any understanding of anything, it’s foolish to multiply such notions. There’s an infinity of things for which no evidence exists, and only in a very few special cases to people feel it necessary to Make Stuff Up anyway. Which is more in the realm of psychology than philosophy or theology.

    I think I should keep repeating that conclusions about (or even hypotheses about) the “contributions” any gods have made to anything are nugatory when there is no evidence of any such thing — and therefore ID can not in any way flow from the evidence, there being none. IS is nothing but a specific way to misrepresent observations in an attempt to frame them as “supporting” the unsupported-but-psychologically-non-negotiable.

    I’m not at all surprised by the attempt to associate atheism with the usual grab-bag of political conservatism, origin of life, racism, and contempt for knowledge. For some people “atheism” is a codeword encompassing everything they hate without understanding it. Atheists are handy targets to blame for one’s own shortcomings, I guess.

  49. #50 Walt
    December 2, 2012

    Flint,

    Just as you don’t see a need for God there is zero evidence natural causes create something from nothing … Origin of the universe. Instead of trying to figure that you know what God is supposed to be why not realize your belief system has more holes than Swiss cheese.

  50. #51 Explicit Atheist
    December 3, 2012

    Harold wrote:

    “Although I certainly don’t speak for “atheists”, and overall I am an apatheist, I will note that this would not test atheism at all. It would test whether or not we can come up with a good scientific model of how life might have originated. The absence of such a model would not prove the existence of any particular deity, and the development of such a model would not disprove every possible deity.”

    When you say “this would not test atheism at all”, you are overstating the disconnection. The fact is that there is a connection been gradual, step by step, chemical origin of life under conditions that were true in early earth history and atheism versus theism. Evidence for a miraculous, instant, creation of life would be evidence favoring theism, while evidence for a purely chemical sequence of events leading naturally to life that in principle could be repeated and demonstrated by scientists would favor atheism. This is not about proof/disproof, it is about evidence, and the cumulative direction of the overall evidence. Atheists are invariably of the opinion that life originated from self-replicating chemical reactions which occurred either early in earth history on earth or occurred elsewhere in the vicinity of earth and traveled to earth on comets or meteors, or some combination of the two. Another possibility is that life originated elsewhere in the universe and space traveling intelligent aliens seeded early earth with life, in which case the chemical origins occurred somewhere else before earth was formed which eventually led to the first intelligent life that eventually traveled to earth early in earth history, but that is a fringe view.

  51. #52 Explicit Atheist
    December 3, 2012

    Walt wrote:

    “Just as you don’t see a need for God there is zero evidence natural causes create something from nothing … Origin of the universe. Instead of trying to figure that you know what God is supposed to be why not realize your belief system has more holes than Swiss cheese.”

    Because the first priority is not to claim to have an explanation for origin of the universe when we don’t. We can manage fine without claiming to know what we don’t know. Why not just say “we don’t know” instead of saying “god did it”? The latter god did it assertion claims something that is not only non- evidenced, it is counter- evidenced because the supernatural resides outside the laws of physics as we currently understand those laws. The fact is that the laws of physics are more flexible and capable than theists often recognize, there is a lot more potential for a lot more to happen within the context of the laws of physics than most non-scientists appear to appreciate. That is probably one reason why cosmologists and physicists are more likely to be atheists than the general public.

  52. #53 Walt
    December 3, 2012

    Explicit,

    Why not admit you don’t know if there is a God while you are in the admitting business?

    The USA, according to Honest Abe (subtract 87 from 1863 l the year he gave the Gettysburg Address) was founded on the Declaration of Independence. In it the right of man come from the Creator as opposed to a bunch of atheists or Government. the consequence of that is that we have freedom because government can’t supply life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness.

    Thus this is clear evidence (not proof) that belief in the Creator creates a positive outcome and atheists are mostly rather nasty people who try to take way the freedom of others … Like sanctioning the killing of unborn people.

    As to the laws of physicsc… Each effect has a cause. Thus the effect of freedom in America is a consequence of a collective belief for the most part in a Creator.

  53. #54 Walt
    December 3, 2012

    Explicit,

    There is ZERO EVIDENCE of any step by step chemical process that goes from molecules to life. as a matter of fact it just so happens that an atheist friend of mine recently got his doctorate in trying to formulate such a process. He is honest enough and smart enough to see the weakness in trying to lay out the steps via computer simulation.

    So his solution is to create a super low cost chip that can be mass manufactured that remotely reports results to a central server and in each chip we run chemical reactions to see if life can be duplicated and created again. Kind of a SETI idea of Saga’s applied to origins.

    A friend of mine wrote to James Shapiro who has a blog over on Huffington Post about this project. Since Shapiro has a wide viewership my friend figured thus would help popularize the project and thus put lots more chips on the task.

    Shapiro wrote back to my friend and declined to get involved. The ideal place for the experiment is every high school. Many high school biology text books begin with the Miller-Urey experiment In declining Shapiro cited as his reason for not supporting the project was because no results leading to the formulation of the chemicals to create life would result. And that in turn would cause these students to “lose faith” in evolution. So Shapiro accurately makes the atheist/materialist point that belief in natural causes is faith based and not based on evidence.

    Note how people like Shapiro and the people at the NCSE act as gatekeepers and can’t tolerate evidence against their faith … And they are supposed to support science where beliefs are driven by the evidence to support that belief.

    Note that the NCSE Has as much faith that global warming is caused by man as it does in evolution. So what is really annoying to people who believe in a Creator is that evolution from natural causesmismfaith based and the government has chosen one faith over another.

  54. #55 G
    December 3, 2012

    Walt:

    The language used in the Declaration of Independence refers to “creator”, which Jefferson & Franklin elsewhere said meant “Nature or Nature’s God.” The apostrophe before the “s” was not unintentional. They were recognizing a shift that was occurring in their times, in the understanding of the origins of humans. They were also speaking from the position of Deism, which essentially holds that a deity may have brought the universe into existence, but that said deity does not take an intimate interest in the details of our daily lives. So if you want to go with Jefferson & Franklin, you’ll have to dump a whole range of beliefs that are unrelated to Deism.

    Deism does not claim to be science, but Deism supports science as the means to understand the physical universe. Deist theological beliefs (as with other religious beliefs pertaining to deities) are not testable from within science and don’t claim to be. Individual scientists may or may not hold religious beliefs as a personal matter.

    But speaking as an engineer who hangs out with other engineers and scientists, I can tell you one thing that drives many of us away from religion altogether: the insistence by some of the most vocal proponents of religion today, on things that are not issues of faith unrelated to science (such as the existence of a deity), but are issues of settled fact.

    The age of the universe and the age of the Earth: Did you know that the whole “young Earth” belief is not intrinsic to the Bible but was dreamed up by a preacher in the early 20th century? He counted all the “begets and begats,” did some very questionable math, and came up with 6,000 years.

    Conception and “life.” The existence of the mind during an individual’s lifetime (before and after, science makes no claims about this) depends absolutely on the functioning of their brain. No brain, no mind, no person, period. If you don’t believe that, then you’re welcome to sign up to have a surgeon remove your brain, and then tell us how it went. Or at least put money where mouth is and sign a medical directive called a “DNR” or “do not resuscitate.” Thus when your heart stops beating, you die, game over, no worries about brains. Otherwise your protestations about abortion are meaningless.

    Climate change: There’s nothing in the Bible about that either, so why do you even mention it? Big Oil and Big Coal have been giving huge sums of money to right-wing megachurches to promote their propaganda that climate change isn’t real. The money changers took over the temple and turned the altar toward the worship of Mammon. Millions of people fell for it because they didn’t ask questions.

    Let’s be clear about this: Scientists had no major problems with religion until religious extremists started using political means to attack science.

    As recently as the 1970s, 40% of scientists were Republicans. Today that number is down to 5%. The direct cause of that shift has been the Republican party’s identification with the anti-science agenda of religious extremists. Now we see that Republicans are hurting after the election and are talking about immigration. But they haven’t changed their tune about science, and as long as they don’t budge on that, they will lose.

    As for all those assertions about race: that kind of stuff forfeits your credibility, and also betrays Jefferson & Franklin. The moment you start talking about superior races, you lose your audience.

  55. #56 Lenoxus
    December 3, 2012

    My SIWOTI syndrome compels me to point out that there’s no obvious comparison to be drawn between abiogenesis and the Immaculate Conception; atheists don’t think that life sinlessly arose from sinful non-life, the way Catholics believe Mary was concieved. I assume Walt meant the “virgin birth” of Jesus.

    Either way, of course, the comparison is absurd. We have a solid, repeatable record of the means by which humans are conceieved, and we know that it’s physically impossible without a Y chromosome, raising all sorts of issues when it comes to figuring out a supposed virgin birth. On the other hand, we have no record of deities supernaturally creating life on a regular basis – the theistic claim is that it just happened once, and supernaturally. No mechanism is, well, no mechanism. uou can yell about divine creation as long as you want, but by definition, you will get no results.

    Is the supernatural testable? I feel like that’s the wrong sort of question because supernatural ideas arise with nothing like testability in mind. “Supernaturalism” is basically the intuitively obvious (but actually wrong) idea that minds can never be formed from non-mindful parts, and hence minds might exist all on their lonesome (as ghosts or deities) or might inhabit objects (like a demon possessing a doll). I’m not sure what could prove it because it’s ultimately a negative assertion, that no matter how deeply you analyze the thing you will never find non-mindful components.

    That said, I’d be quite happy to accept rearranged stars as near-proof of God, but that’s because I’m lowering the bar. Sictoy speaking, the notion that God exists and is not some kind of alien or a programmer of the Matrix is, at some level, incoherent to me.

  56. #57 Lenoxus
    December 3, 2012

    Arrgh, now I’m the one who was WOTI. Of course conception can happen without a Y chromosome; it happens half the time! I meant conception of a male. Oops.

  57. #58 Walt
    December 3, 2012

    G,

    Sorry, The Creator referred to in the DOI is the Christian God of people like John Locke. Jefferson lifted life, liberty and pursuit of happiness from locke’s summation of what man’s relation is with the Creator as it applies to Civil Government, a book by Locke. Natural Law formed the basis of our legal system. that is why Judge abort is not a justice, Biden hates Christian values and totally didn’t and doesn’t understand Natural Law. atheists never get the point. Similar to Judge Bork, Justice Clarence Thomas values come from Natural and that is why he makes rulings as he does.

    Jefferson was trying to capture our cultures values as opposed to what you claim …so the Reference to the Creator is the widest possible referreal to a Supreme Being so everyone would be included under the umbrella.. The Christian God is why we have freedom.

    Virtually 100% of minority women voted for a democrat for president because they are takers rather than makers. Democrats appeal to people who want something without working for it and most atheists vote in lock step with unmarked women. Christians don’t worry about a Jewish symbol in public. Atheists worry about death and possibly being judges when they die so they hate Christian values and don’t want symbols of the values of most of the people for others to see. Very intolerant are atheists. And there is no evidence for their beliefs.

  58. #59 Walt
    December 3, 2012

    Leno,

    Stay focused. There is zero evidence life has a natural origin. The issue is whether or not the views of atheists are right. If I was the Creator I would create man in my image and not leave a trace of how I did it less man would not have free will. The Declaration of Independence is a recognition of the role of the Creator in our culture. Some Unitarians at the time figured Jesus was right about everything but not the son of God. This group is the historical source of atheism and our progressively secular society where freedom is banishing from their efforts.

  59. #60 eric
    December 3, 2012

    Walt:

    Democrats appeal to people who want something without working for it and most atheists vote in lock step with unmarked women.

    I gotta ask, “unmarked women?” What does that mean?

    If I was the Creator I would create man in my image and not leave a trace of how I did it less man would not have free will

    God talks to people in the bible all the time. Adam. Eve. Abraham. Moses. Christians claim that Jesus worked miracles in front of thousands of eyewitnesses. Did all those people keep their free will after having direct evidence of the divine?

  60. #61 MNb
    December 3, 2012

    @Walt: “Each effect has a cause.”
    No. The exact moment of adioactive decay doesn’t have a cause. Any given radioactive atom could decay now or after a million years. The only thing we have is a probability curve.

    “There is zero evidence life has a natural origin.”
    Actually there is. Study abiogenesis. What you mean is that the evidence is not to your satisfaction and thát may very well be caused by your religious preoccupations.
    In short you are pulling a god of the gaps and as such you are no better than the first creationist around.

  61. #62 Walt
    December 3, 2012

    Eric,

    Spell correction … Unmarked should actually be UNMARRIED.
    Atheist and women who have kids but no husbands tend to oppose freedom.

    Since we are all guessing about whether or not God is real is proof we all have free will. The women with kids and no husband will take away freedom for everyone else.

    And mnb, there is a cause why an atom has an odds of decaying. Go to las Vegas … Also and study a guy named Bayes.

  62. #63 Walt
    December 3, 2012

    Mnb,

    There is ZERO EVIDENCE life has a natural origin. guessing it does is as much to do with science as astrology. That is why I want to see a massive attempt to recreate life in high school biology class rooms all over America. famed huffpo blogger says this will cause all kids including those of UNMARRIED women and atheists to lose faith in evolution. Ask him yoursel if you want proof that this experiment will shatter your faith in something you think is real for which there is ZERO EVIDENCE.

    Fun to poke holes in the faith system of atheists.

  63. #64 Flint
    December 3, 2012

    I think we’re seeing an excellent illustration of the “religious method of knowledge” – just SAY something is true, and poof it’s true. SAY there’s no evidence, and POOF there’s no evidence. SAY evolution is a faith, and poof it’s a faith. SAY atheism is associated with perceived social evils, and poof it’s associated. Say it twice, and it’s twice as true.

    When reality is deemed irrelevant, what other method of knowledge is there?

  64. #65 Walt
    December 3, 2012

    Flint,

    Atheists will try to claim founders were deistats rather than Christians and hide the Declaration of I dependence. Go to Monticelloa and you won’t see the Jefferson Bible. Too popular. They couldn’t clear people out who found it so interesting. Atheist live in an information bubble and figure NBR AND MSNBC tell the truth without spin.

    The reality is that you have zero evidence for your beliefs. None. And not my fault.

  65. #66 Walt
    December 3, 2012

    Sorry for the typos. Writing on an iPad on a vibration machine.

  66. #67 Walt
    December 3, 2012

    Lenski’s LTEE is storng evidence evolution is a hoax.

  67. #68 eric
    December 3, 2012

    Go to Monticelloa and you won’t see the Jefferson Bible. Too popular.

    Have you read the Jefferson Bible? There are no miracles in it; he omitted them. It ends before the resurrection, because Jefferson didn’t think it happened.

    And you didn’t answer my question about free will: you claim that God providing evidence of his existence would somehow compromise our free will. But God did provide evidence of his existence for many thousands of people. So, was their will compromised?

  68. #69 Walt
    December 3, 2012

    After Jesus was gone, Thomas came back to the room where everyone was hiding. When he entered, the disciples told him, “Thomas, oh Thomas, it is true! We’ve seen Jesus! He’s alive! “He said to them, “No. I won’t believe it unless I see the nail marks in His hands. I have to put my finger where the nails were. If I can put my hand into His side, then I’ll believe you.”
    Eight days later, Jesus visited the disciples again. This time Thomas was with them. Jesus walked right through the locked doors. “Peace be with you,” He said. Then He said, “Thomas, come here with your finger and see My hands. Touch the wounds in My hand. Put your hand into My side. Stop doubting now and believe.”
    Thomas felt very ashamed for not believing. He hung his head, “My Lord and my God!”
    Jesus answered him, “Is it because you have seen Me, that you now believe? There will be many who do not see and are still willing to believe. Those people are special to Me.”
    Jesus was talking about people like you and me.
    Do you believe or are you like doubting Thomas?

    Copied .. It is an answer about free will.

  69. #70 Walt
    December 3, 2012

    As to the Jefferson bible. Tom believed that Christianity offered the best bassis for a society that he knew of. He also figured that people put words in the mouth of Jesus to get control over there fellow man … All after the fact. Tom was trying to figure out why the ideas of Jesus work best to form the basis for culture and government. Common law descends from irish Christians. Every calf has a cow. First case … Intellectual property …theft of a sermon by one christian from another So our new government used a law system based on Christtian principles and christian people applying those principles. Luther had a similar take on the catholic church and it’s practices as Jefferson did … Figured they were misusing Jesus to raise dollars etc. so Luther came up with the idea of Sola Scriptural … Meaning strip away what the church says Jesus was all about and stick to the actual text. Secularists stand our law system on its head. Atheists and communists formed the ACLU alter our culture … And by the last election it finally worked. Guys like roger Baldwin and Clarence Darrow. Darrow is famous for scopes and he also was a very crooked attorney. Caught bribing a jury trying to defend communists who blew up the LA TIMES and killed a lot of workers there in the process. Atheists tend to be nasty.

  70. #71 eric
    December 4, 2012

    Do you believe or are you like doubting Thomas?

    Copied .. It is an answer about free will.

    No, it really isn’t. Those who do not doubt may be special to the Lord, but that doesn’t answer the question of whether seeing evidence of God prevents free will belief and thus salvation. Was the free will of Adam, Eve, Abraham, Moses, the thousands of Israelites seeing the pillar of fire, the thousands of people gathered to see Jesus who saw him work miracles, etc… compromised? Could they still believe and go to heaven? If yes, then theer is no need for God to stay hidden now. If no, then it appears God sentenced some of his favorite people to hell merely to send messages to others.

  71. #72 Walt
    December 4, 2012

    Thomas appears to be overwhelmed when seeing Jesus, holes and all. I would say that he wasn’t going to think or act normally so the impact was to take away his free will to be fully functioning. Even after Moses lead his people out of Israel there was a lot of back sliding so there free will lead them to act in a way that got them in trouble. The takeaway point is that a guy like Bill Clinton can live for the moment with no connection to the truth and a true Christian will have a conscious and not not to act that way, If a culture is basically dishonest and lives for the moment then contracts arent possible and the legal system wont work either … Like justice Roberts saying something is a tax and not a tax at the same time. The Christian, if they actually believe that there is life after death, will exhibit self control in part for fear of judgment.

    Atheist really don’t like the idea of being judged so they tend to be very hostile to people of faith who haven’t even bothered them. Atheists have yet to come up with a system of values or government that works. communism killed over 100 million people in the last century and we are still buying into socialism today with all the proof that it doesn’t work. Gallup just did a poll of democrats vs republicans on whether or not socialism is a positive and over 50% of Democrats have a positive feeling about socialism. And you can equate secular humanism as the ethic of the Democrat party and most atheists and agnostics are democrats. On the republican side something like 3/4th of evangelicals voted for Romney, a Mormon.

  72. #73 Richard Wein
    December 4, 2012

    I thought Asher’s reply evaded the central issue. I haven’t paid much attention to the question of whether he or you (Jason) correctly characterised the arguments of IDers. That’s a side issue. The central issue is whether Asher believes there is any evidence for his God, and if so what sort of evidence. You directly posed that question to him in your earlier reply, and he ignored it.

  73. #74 MNb
    December 4, 2012

    “Atheists have yet to come up with a system of values or government that works.”
    Try Sweden.

  74. #75 Lenoxus
    December 4, 2012

    Walt:

    Atheists worry about death and possibly being judges when they die

    I can safely say that I have never once worried that after I die I’ll become a judge. Not really sure why that would bother me.

    If you mean “judged”, then here’s something I don’t get. Christians often act like God tallies up all our good and bad actions and then, in the afterlife, we are punished/rewarded accordingly. Except that’s not how the Christian afterlife works at all, because it’s binary! Either you formed a relationship with Jesus before you died or you didn’t, and based on that sole criterion, you are either rewarded with eternal bliss or punished with eternal torment.

    Now, if this is really how things work, then the vast majority of people who ever lived are in Hell. This suggests to me that God has a very strong incentive to send people there (he likes the smell of burning flesh?), which in turn makes me wonder, why trust someone so violent-minded? Maybe he just tells Christians they’ll go to Heaven to mess with their heads, and in the end we all god to Hell. (Or, we would if the afterlife concept made any sense or had any evidence in its favor.)

  75. #76 eric
    December 4, 2012

    Thomas appears to be overwhelmed when seeing Jesus, holes and all. I would say that he wasn’t going to think or act normally so the impact was to take away his free will to be fully functioning.

    Of course he responded to the data provided him. But you are still evading the question. did he lose his chance of salvation because he had that information? Did Adam? Did Moses? Did the people watching Jesus perform miracles? If not them, then why would I? “Free will” cannot provide a reason for God’s decision to stay hidden, because God has blatantly shown his presence many times to people in the past. Your claim would mean that God chose to damn those people by appearing before them in an obvious manner.

    Even after Moses lead his people out of Israel there was a lot of back sliding so there free will lead them to act in a way that got them in trouble.

    That supports my point, you goof. You are agreeing with me that people can be given obvious, clear physical evidence of God, and it doesn’t compromise their free will choice about whether to believe and follow God’s teachings or not.

  76. #77 Deepak Shetty
    December 4, 2012

    @Walt
    and a true Christian
    Ha ha ha.

  77. #78 Walt
    December 4, 2012

    Sola ride – by faith alone is the means to salvation. You seem interested in Christian apologetics where most atheists fear Christian Reconstruction. ID is a hammer against evolution. The key is to test abiogenesis to see if we can recreate life. Can’t then naturalism fails. Sorry. Can then you guys win.

    Free will is indeed why God won’t do more than supply guidelines of how to live. Check out the movie Time Bandits. explains why the Supreme Being allows Evil. Doubting Thomas believed after he saw the nail holes and put yourself in his shoes and tell me if you would feel squished if you were him then or if you would have the freedom you feel right now. Every week the Obama emp
    Oyees at various agencies are cranking out hundreds and hundreds of new rules for us to comply with and his security people can wiretap you without a warrant. Obama can execute Americans without going through the judicial process.

    Tell me if this is resulting in more or less freedom for Americans. Freedom is what caused most evangelicals voted for a Mormon.

    Jefferson saw that following god’s plan leads to a free and fair society .. Even as he owned slaves …. That bothered him. Maybe why he altered the Christian philosopher John Locke’s summation of what God has to say about man’s relationship withh Civil government from the Creator endowing man with life, liberty and property to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

    This idea means private property is a gift from God and thus property rights do not descend from the state or a bunch of atheist statists. Taken to the extreme property rights resulted in the Dred Scott ruling. So if Jefferson were a bit more committed to Christian values than just viewing Jesus as the number philosopher of all time then he would have freed his slaves based on an internal moral compass he was lacking. That might have lead to freedom for all slaves and no Civil War and no talk show for Rev Al.

  78. #79 Walt
    December 4, 2012

    Sola fide not sola ride by faith alone.

  79. #80 Walt
    December 4, 2012

    Lenox,

    Rewards and punishments tend to shape human behavior. If your wife is unhappy about something she let’s you know. If you aren’t concerned about death then you are the first person I have heard of with that belief system.

  80. #81 Walt
    December 4, 2012

    Mnb,

    Sweden is dysfunctional. I have some Swedish blood in me because a while back the Swedes use to come down to Ireland for a round of rape and pillage. Then they became Christian and stopped doing that. Then they went secular, raised taxes and now no one works. Then they invited in a bunch of Muslims to do the work that they refuse to do and the Muslims stated raping their women for not wearing head coverings. I wouldn’t want to live in Sweden and have my daughter raped by a Muslim.

  81. #82 Blaine
    December 4, 2012

    Athena to Diomedes
    ‘I have taken away the mist from your eyes, that before now
    was there, so that you may well recognize the god and the mortal.
    Therefore now, if a god making trial of you comes hither
    do you not do battle head on with the gods immortal,
    not with the rest; but only if Aphrodite, Zeus’ daughter,
    comes to the fighting, her at least you may stab with the sharp bronze.’ (Illiad 5.127-132)

    I think this verse clearly establishes that we need not fear every god.

  82. #83 Flint
    December 4, 2012

    “The central issue is whether Asher believes there is any evidence for his God, and if so what sort of evidence. You directly posed that question to him in your earlier reply, and he ignored it.”

    Maybe because that question simply brings any useful discussion to a halt.

  83. #84 eric
    December 5, 2012

    Doubting Thomas believed after he saw the nail holes

    Okay, so was he denied salvation because he was no longer believing based on faith alone?

    Same question for Adam. For Eve. For Abraham. For Moses. For all of the Israelites who saw the pillar of fire/smoke and ate the mana. For the other 11 disciples, and for the supposed thousands of people who witnessed Jesus performing miracles and converted, in part, because of what they witnessed. They did not believe based on faith alone. They saw empirical evidence of the divine, and believed in part becaus of that. So, do they go to heaven or hell?

  84. #85 Walt
    December 5, 2012

    Eric,

    Say you were God and your system is to maximize the chance to have a person rewarded in eternity … How would you deal with the people you created. My guess is God got bored so he invented the universe and we are sort or reality TV for him. In a multiverse in my universe he offers a pass whenever possible and offers clues how we should live and then gives people a chance to exert free will to see what they will do with it. Death. Is the means to keep shuffling the deck of players. Play the game well and you win a prize. Not so well and your worst teacher scolds you on your screw ups for eternity. Your impact on other people is a way of keeping score. Whatever you think is cool around you … You can’t take it with you when you die.

  85. #86 eric
    December 5, 2012

    Say you were God and your system is to maximize the chance to have a person rewarded in eternity … How would you deal with the people you created.

    Give them credible evidence for how the system works and what they need to go to heaven.

    The rest of your response (along with the Time Bandits thing) really makes me think you’re a poe. But I’ll persist for a couple more messages:

    You still haven’t answered my question. The disciple Thomas did not believe by sola fides. He believed, in part, because Jesus gave him evidence. Did Thomas go to heaven or hell?

  86. #87 Walt
    December 5, 2012

    From time Bandirs:
    Kevin: Yes, why does there have to be evil?
    Supreme Being: I think it has something to do with free will.
    And
    Supreme Being: Is it all ready? Right. Come on then. Back to creation. We mustn’t waste any more time. They’ll think I’ve lost control again and put it all down to evolution. That tops anything ever said by atheists who have zero evidence that natural causes create the universe or life.

    About Doubting Thomas … My guess is that the supreme Being selected him as a set up for all those who doubt. Their story. So he got a special pass to heaven based on his ACT. Sole fide is what Luther said was the path and may or may not be true but it does trim away the Cathlic churches ability to raise $s from selling indulgences to get the dead out of purgatory.

    Note that Catholic countries tend to al have adopted the napoleonic code as law and that system is vastly inferior to the protest law system of common law. But at least napoleonic Law is superior to the law system of atheists which is the law of the jungle.

    Do you suppose you are lacking in any way of instruction in what it takes to go to heaven? If Jefferson had wanted to go to heaven he may have freed his slaves instead of putting a fence around his vegetable garden to keep his slaves from stealing food. That might have prevented the civil war and Blacks voting so heavily for Obama. Even Jefferson had an internal moral compass that was influenced in its creation by Christianity. He was troubled by the institution of slavery as well as owning slaves himself. As the father of the democrat party he was not troubled enough by his morals to change his behavior. Dug the personal power from owning them. Democrats love power for themselves but don’t extend that to allowing others their freedom. And freedom is the essence of Christianity.

  87. #88 eric
    December 6, 2012

    Walt:

    About Doubting Thomas … My guess is that the supreme Being selected him as a set up for all those who doubt. Their story. So he got a special pass to heaven based on his ACT

    What about Adam? Eve? Abraham? Moses? The thousands of jews who saw the pillar of fire and mana from heaven? The thousands of people convinced by the miracle of the fish and loaves? The other disciples who also saw Jesus after the ressurection?

    All those people were given empirical or observational evidence of God’s existence. Did they all get a special pass? Or are they in hell?

    (Let’s ignore the fact that giving a “special pass” seems somewhat inconsistent with the notion of a just God.)

  88. #89 Blaine
    December 6, 2012

    Given the causal closure of scientific explaination, free will is an illusion. The barbaric notion of retributive justice is based on the faulty notion of moral responsibility.

    It is obvious to me ( no so much to others apparently ) that the big bang was god’s suicide.

  89. #90 MNb
    December 7, 2012

    “Given the causal closure of scientific explanation, free will is an illusion.”
    It’s an entirely other discussion, but I wouldn’t call that given since Heisenberg’s Principle.

  90. #91 Dan L.
    December 7, 2012

    @Walt:

    Check out the single mother vote to back my POV.

    As a fairly high-functioning child of a high-functioning single mother, I cordially invite you to get bent.

  91. #92 Walt
    December 7, 2012

    Dan l

    The average payment to welfare recipients is higher than the per capita income of producers. We have indeed gotten ripped off by the takers.

  92. #93 Walt
    December 7, 2012

    The Heisenberg uncertainty principle assumes Gaussian distribution which may or may not be warranted.

  93. #94 Walt
    December 7, 2012

    As to who goes to Heaven Eric, my take is that there is some ambiguity … So figure that gives you a lot of frredom and leeway and be ready with good arguments when you meet the Supreme Being … Afterall he is not entirely dim, he is the Supreme Being.

  94. #95 eric
    December 7, 2012

    Walt:

    As to who goes to Heaven Eric, my take is that there is some ambiguity

    I brought up these people in reference to the question of whether God must remain hidden (not provide evidence) in order to protect our free will.

    It now appears you agree with me: he doesn’t. If there is ambiguity, that means he can provide evidence of his existence and it doesn’t necessarily damn them.

    So, why doesn’t he just provide evidence of his existence? Your earlier “free will” answer is now off the table, since you agree that can’t be it.

  95. #96 Walt
    December 7, 2012

    Eric,

    It is easier to answer your question when I can see what you are driving at. There is something called Judeo-Christian values for a reason …Ryan points out Obama policies are attacking them … By growing government , restricting freedom Obama is compromising Judeo Christian and the values of western civilization. Plus ending American exceptionalism.

    In answer to your question … The Supreme Being revealed himself to the Israelites and gave them ten rules. Then over time they got too legalistic as a consequence so he revealed himself once more and created a path for all since living in strict adherence to his law was not having the right consequence plus the Jewish religious leaders got very much taken by their own power. Jesus said that he was not doing away with the law but grace gives a doorway to the “many mansions”.

    Thus people have freedom and free will in the USA vs anywhere because we have grace and forgiveness of sin where the Jewish system is a lot more judgemental and harsh. Plopped Jews like Spielberg and Streisand reject the harshness of the Orthodox Jewish tradition but that just turns them into hardened leftists and totally without a moral compass. The point of the Supreme Being Jesus was to maximize our freedom and most of us would be paralyzed by guilt for all the mistakes we make even when Jesus clearly makes the case for forgiveness of sin … Like the woman at the well caught in adultery. Ordinary practicing Jews at the time were ready to stone her to death. And forgiving others who harm you has a great freeing effect on the person doing the forgiveness. So the whole point of having free will is to have and internal moral compass and self control where ideally you need as few as rules as possible from a government. jefferson saw that Christians made up the best citizenry. Honest Abe made the point that we should listen to the better angels of our nature. Obama cranks out hundreds of new rules from his government employees every week all of which take away our freedom. His childhood mentor was frank Marshall Davis who was a Marxist and so was his mommy and her parents – Dunhams. She went to the little RED SCHOOL HOUSE. And his pastor was buddies with qaddafi and Farrakhan.

  96. #97 Verbose Stoic
    December 8, 2012

    eric,

    Sober is defending logical possibility. Is that what you’re defending? Its a pretty weak claim. Santa Claus is logically possible. Aliens who abduct farmers to anally probe them is logically possible.

    “Logical possibility” as an argument has the same problem as Pascal’s wager: it provides equal support for an infinite number of contradictory conclusions.

    The problem is that in the accomodationist debate — which is what this is about — logical possibility is all they actually need. To make an incompatibility claim stick, it has to be the case that people who either hold both scientific and religious worldviews or, more reasonably, people who have a worldview that includes both science and religion have to be believing things that are mutually and logically incompatible, in that if one of them is true the other must be false. In that sense, all that accomodationists have to do is demonstrate that logically the two worldviews can be reconciled and their work is done.

    Note that they don’t have to show that you can do both at the same time, or that both have the same standards. They just have to show, at most, that if they are not the same method then one can delineate between when you use science and when you use religion, or what questions you use each for.

    You and Jason both like to talk about plausibility, but that’s irrelevant to the accomodationist debate … and runs into issues if they have a worldview that doesn’t calculate plausibility the same way yours does.

  97. #98 Walt
    December 8, 2012

    Verbose,

    What about atheists who believe in naturalism when there is zero evidence life has a natural cause or does the universe? Correlation is not causation so all of genetics is just guessing too. The usual excuse is that it all happened so long ago we can’t know what happened but we know evolution is true. And the ID folks are doing an excellent job as well as James Shapiro in proving evolution is a hoax. The problem with atheists and materialism is that Darwin’s never got to examining if their POV is right … Just that they don’t like being judged by the Supreme Being so Christianity is wrong … Even as it creates the best society and elevates mankind. And check out David Ussery on James Shapiro. David wrote a criticism of Behe’s Darwin’s Black Box that appeared in the Journal of Theoretical BIOLOGY. And David figures there is something to Shapiro’s thinking. When you look for evidence of evolution at the molecular level it vanishes …why Lenski’s LTEE is strong evidence evolution is a fraud. Atheists start with an outcome in mind and avoid evidence at all costs that deny their POV.

    Beyond protecting evolution from examination the atheist NCSE names calls anyone who disagrees with global warming … Even as there has been none in the last 16 years. Lord Mockton just got thrown out of the UN camp meeting for the global warming religion for having the timidity of doubting the true faith.

  98. #99 SLC
    December 8, 2012

    Re Walt

    Viscount Moncton, this the same clown who falsely claims to be a member of the House of Lords? The same clown who claims to have a cure for AIDS? I am afraid that Mr. Walt is going to have to do better then that.

  99. #100 Walt
    December 8, 2012

    The same lord moncton who won the global warning debate at Oxford.
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/05/24/lord-monckton-wins-global-warming-debate-at-oxford-union/

    Old Saul alinsky tactic to attack the person rather than examine the facts. Same tactic of the atheist NCSE. We have read your handbook. We know how,the patten of your thought and evidence is not on your side.

  100. #101 SLC
    December 8, 2012

    Re Walt

    Mr. Walt claims that only stupid people voted for Obama. Well let’s see, Obama carried Santa Clara County, home of silicon valley by 42 points. Some pretty smart people live there.

    Government records show that employees of Google contributed som 60 times as much money to the Obama campaign as they did to Rmoney. The employees of Apple contributed some 10 time as much to Obama as they did to Rmoney. Employees of EBAY contributed 9 times as much to Obama as they did to Rmoney. Going outside silicon valley, employees of Microsoft contributed 4 times as much to Obama as they did to Rmoney. Employees of IBM contributed 3 times as much to Obama as they did to Rmoney. Sounds like at least a couple of pretty smart folks preferred Obama.

    http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/28/in-silicon-valley-technology-talent-gap-threatens-g-o-p-campaigns/

  101. #102 SLC
    December 8, 2012

    Re Walt

    Gee, Anthony Watts thinks that Viscount Moncton won a debate. What a surprise. This the same Anthony Watts who informed us before the Berkeley Climate Change Study that he would accept any conclusion that the study’s PI, Richard Muller, who he had great confidence in, arrived at.

    After Muller and company found that the climate change folks were right on the money, surprise, surprise, Mr. Watts did a 180 and proceeded to bad mouth Muller.

    By the way, one of the team members of the study was Berkeley Physics Prof. Arthur Rosenfeld. He taught the first physics course I took as an undergraduate at Berkeley a million years ago.

    However, better then 90% of the membership of the American National Academy of Sciences profess no religious beliefs. Some pretty smart folks in that outfit too.

  102. #103 SLC
    December 8, 2012

    Re Walt

    Incidentally, the highest rates of out of wedlock births and divorces occur in the red states, the lowest in the blue states. Sounds like some of those born again folks are hypocrites.

  103. #104 SLC
    December 8, 2012

    Re Walt

    Oh, one more tidbit of information for Mr. Walt, my PhD thesis adviser in elementary particle physics was a devout born again Christian.

  104. #105 SLC
    December 8, 2012

    Re Walt

    Since Mr. Walt cited Thomas Jefferson, I wonder if he considers him a believing Christian. Jefferson rejected the Virgin Birth, the miracle stories in both the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures, the divinity of Yeshua of Nazareth, the Resurrection, and the Trinity. Doesn’t sound like much of a believing Christian to me.

  105. #106 Walt
    December 9, 2012

    SLC,

    The highest % of mothers without husbands also voted almost 100% for Obama. Leftists sure have issues with linking cause to effect. Darwinist Margaret Sanger thought their race should be wiped off the face of the earth via a final solution..

  106. #107 Walt
    December 9, 2012

    SLC,

    Jefferson saw where Christians made for the ideal citizen of a state. If he had been a believer himself he might have freed his own slaves. Jefferson lifted life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness from devout Christian John Locke, property rather than pursuit of happiness is what Locke said for rights given by the Creator to man. Since these rights come from the Creator is also means these rights did not come from a group of atheists or from government.

  107. #108 Walt
    December 9, 2012

    SLC

    Solar insolation changes, resulting from long-term oscillations of orbital configurations1, are an important driver of Holocene climate2, 3. The forcing is substantial over the past 2,000 years, up to four times as large as the 1.6 W m−2 net anthropogenic forcing since 1750 (ref. 4), but the trend varies considerably over time, space and with season5. Using numerous high-latitude proxy records, slow orbital changes have recently been shown6 to gradually force boreal summer temperature cooling over the common era. Here, we present new evidence based on maximum latewood density data from northern Scandinavia, indicating that this cooling trend was stronger (−0.31 °C per 1,000 years, ±0.03 °C) than previously reported, and demonstrate that this signature is missing in published tree-ring proxy records. The long-term trend now revealed in maximum latewood density data is in line with coupled general circulation models7, 8 indicating albedo-driven feedback mechanisms and substantial summer cooling over the past two millennia in northern boreal and Arctic latitudes. These findings, together with the missing orbital signature in published dendrochronological records, suggest that large-scale near-surface air-temperature reconstructions9, 10, 11, 12, 13 relying on tree-ring data may underestimate pre-instrumental temperatures including warmth during Medieval and Roman times.

    Subject terms:
    Detection and Attribution Earth sciences Meteorology Palaeoclimate
    At a glance
    Figures
    left

    http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v2/n12/full/nclimate1589.html

    right

  108. #109 Walt
    December 9, 2012

    SLC

    people in no cal hate people and so cal and don’t want water flowing south. You can be smart and very dumb at the same time. No one doubts obama’s IQ and he has to have the dumbest economic policy any president ever had.

    No cal people want fresh water flowing int SF bay in order to protect a fish that did not live where it lives now earlier than 1849. Hydraulic mining of the Sierras brought a massive amount of mud to form the Delta. The delta is a creation of humans, mostly Chinese laborers who had finished working on building the railroad. So no cal people tend to be idiots in politics and uninformed as voters. No cal voters account for the passage of Prop 30. And people who make big dollars are leaving so Calif just had a billion dollar shortfall against expected revenue. Or as Gomer Pyle might say, surprise, surprise, surprise. Tac the rich didnt pan out as expected. Another leftist scheme run amok.

  109. #110 SLC
    December 9, 2012

    Jefferson saw where Christians made for the ideal citizen of a state. If he had been a believer himself he might have freed his own slaves.

    Slave owners in the South quoted the scriptures to support their peculiar institution. Furthermore, Jefferson’s comrade in arms, Patrick Henry, who was a devout Christian also owned slaves. All the slave owners in the South professed to be devout Christians who cited the scriptures to support their position.

  110. #111 SLC
    December 9, 2012

    people in no cal hate people and so cal and don’t want water flowing south.

    As someone who grew up in Los Angeles and attended U. C. Berkeley, that is somewhat of an overstatement. The issue of water goes back to the water diversion plane proposed by Governor Brown pere in the 1950s which was opposed by the folks in the SF bay area and north because they were concerned about possible water shortages in Northern California.

  111. #112 SLC
    December 9, 2012

    Re Walt

    Relative to the paper in Nature linked to above, here’s a link to a discussion of the tree ring problem. It would appear that Esper et al are in a distinct minority and that the issues he and his colleagues have raised have been disputed by other climate scientists. Not being a climate scientist, I am in no position to contribute anything to the discussion and, I suspect, neither is Mr. Walt. Since Mr. Walt is also an evolution denier, his credibility is dubious at best.

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2012/11/responses-to-volcanoes-in-tree-rings-and-models/

  112. #113 Walt
    December 9, 2012

    SLC

    Esper published peer reviewed results in a credible journal. Leftists attack the person rather than admit they are wrong plus totalitarians (aka leftists) also operate as gatekeepers Recall that Hillary asked for a gatekeeper on the Internet and the idea that her husband’s sperm was actually deposited on the party dress of a pudgy girl was a consequence of a “vast right wing conspiracy”.

  113. #114 Walt
    December 9, 2012

    Water goes a lot further back than the first governor brown. The Hetch Hetchy dam is the source of San Francisco’s water. And most people in SF are extreme leftist, left of Karl Marx. So they aren’t just stupid in politics they are also highly hypocritical with zero moral compass.

  114. #115 Walt
    December 9, 2012

    SLC,

    the ancestors of the slaves in the South also owned slaves. Every culture has owned them. Totalitarians like stalin, hitler and the modern democrat party divide people into groups to manipulate them. For Hitler it was the Jews. For Obama it is the top 2% who are evil and the source of all problems in society … Even if we took all their assets and income it would not cover the debt very long. For radical Iran it is Jews and America who are the great Satans. For feminists it’s is men who are all evil. FDR set old against the young via Social Security. All the group identity manipulation is 100% AGAINST the credo America was founded upon .. We are (each one of us) endowed (as individuals) with the right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness from the Creator rather than from the government or a bunch of atheists.

  115. #116 Walt
    December 9, 2012

    The second richest man in s Carolina prior to the a civil War was a freed Black man who owned slaves and sharpened blades of the cotton gin. In the Amistad case Christians worked hard to free the slaves and the ancestors of these people have largely lost influence as well as their Christian faith. Cinque, who was freed may have become a Christian later in his life and may also have owned slaves. The left has an agenda and lives inside an information bubble where anthromorpic global warming is a proven fact (in order to tax and control others and take away freedom) and evolution is fact even as James Shapiro and others are showing how many holes there are in the theory. The left excludes from thinking all views that don’t comply with their world view thus there is no discussion in the media about Obama watching 4 Americans die in a fire fight that lasted eight hours in Benghazi alibya The CIA guys voluntarily placed themselves in harms way to save the lifves of fellow and Obama watched them die even as they begged for support and support was readily available.

  116. #117 eric
    December 10, 2012

    Walt (on 12/7)

    In answer to your question … The Supreme Being revealed himself to the Israelites and gave them ten rules. Then over time they got too legalistic as a consequence so he revealed himself once more …

    This is even more evidence that ‘revealing himself’ does not cost anyone their free will. You are providing support for my argument.

    Verbose Stoic:

    The problem is that in the accomodationist debate — which is what this is about — logical possibility is all they actually need.

    I disagree, but I also think we may be arguing different definitions of ‘consistent with [science].’ I think most of the time when people argue Christianity or theism is consistent with science, they mean to imply more than just logical possibility of the claims. They are implying that their religious belief should be considered scientifically rational or reasonable. But science does not treat a belief in the merely logically possible as a rational or reasonable conclusion. ‘Bigfoot exists’ is not a scientifically reasonable belief. ‘Joe Bob was taken up into a spaceship last night’ is not a scientifically reasonable belief. ‘My aunt Sophie ressurreted herself three days after she died’ is not a scientifically reasonable belief. Not everything which is possible is reasonable to believe. The scientific response to such claims is that the totality of evidence provides more support for an alternative hypothesis than what is claimed. Its an animal or fraud; hallucinations and sleep paralysis during hypnopompic states, and; she was in a deep coma or maybe I’m just lying.

    Maybe there are some academic theologians who are willing to set such a low bar for ‘consistent with science’ and apply that bar consistently to all other claims. With them, I merely have a terminology disagreement. But for the most part, believers are NOT going to set that low bar for any unsubstantiated claims other than their own. That exceptionalism is unwarranted, and in such cases I have a substantial, not just lexical, disagreement with the claim that their beliefs are consistent with science.

  117. #118 Dan L.
    December 10, 2012

    The average payment to welfare recipients is higher than the per capita income of producers. We have indeed gotten ripped off by the takers.

    I don’t suppose you could cite some evidence for this? Of course not.

    Anyway, I didn’t say I wanted to talk to you. You’re a closed-minded, judgmental moron. I wanted you to get bent. Go screw.

  118. #119 Dan L.
    December 10, 2012

    @Walt:

    I forgot arrogant. You’re a closed-minded, judgmental, arrogant moron.

  119. #120 Verbose Stoic
    December 10, 2012

    Eric,

    “I think most of the time when people argue Christianity or theism is consistent with science, they mean to imply more than just logical possibility of the claims. They are implying that their religious belief should be considered scientifically rational or reasonable.”

    Perhaps in other discussions, but in the debate against incompatibilists, they are simply arguing against the claims of the incompatibilists that science and religion are, in fact, incompatible, meaning as I said that you cannot hold both and have a consistent worldview. All you need to disprove that sort of claim is, in fact, logical possibility. That other debates may want to give religion more credibility is not relevant to that debate.

  120. #121 Dan L.
    December 10, 2012

    All you need to disprove that sort of claim is, in fact, logical possibility.

    That’s not what I mean by incompatibility. “Logical possibility” is an incredibly low hurdle. In fact, it’s satisfied by any version of Last Thursdayism. Are you satisfied with Last Thursdayism? (Assume no.) Then you probably shouldn’t be satisfied with “logical possibility” as a criterion.

  121. #122 Walt
    December 10, 2012

    Eric,

    Atheists have the free will to accept or reject the existence of The Supreme Being. Why do you think if necessary that he not have free will too? When you choose to follow his ideas on how you live that may be from free will or other reasons. Protestants tend to do so as a free will choice where Cathlics tend to do so out of top down rules imposed from the top. Thus catholic countries tend to be more corrupt and poorer as a consequence but still a lot lot better than the bad old Soviet Union where atheists ruled. By living out the experience of Marx it might be that a culture learns over time. Ours hasn’t. Atheists live in an information bubble and so do many believers.

    And some atheists can even have partial abilities to contribute to society like Steve Jobs who managed Apple employees by fear, terror and intimidation. Typing away on my iPad.

  122. #123 Dan L.
    December 10, 2012

    When I say that religious belief and scientific knowledge are incompatible, what I am saying is that the epistemological basis of each is incompatible with the other. That is, religious beliefs are not believed for the same reason that scientific knowledge is believed. In fact, these bases seem to be pretty much orthogonal to each other — which is exactly what NOMA says.

    So my problem is that under NOMA we have two systems for justifying belief but the systems don’t seem related in any direct way; moreover, under NOMA the beliefs derived from the respective systems hypothetically should not overlap (though in reality they too frequently do, see every post by Walt in this thread).

    From my perspective, knowledge should be unified, at least in the absence of any justification why it should be so neatly bifurcated as by NOMA. If God exists, I don’t see why God’s existence should only be ascertained through religious or spiritual means. I don’t see why the spiritual and physical should be assumed to be distinct the way required for compatibility to be a reasonable thesis.

    In other words, I feel that assuming there is a religious or spiritual domain to life or the universe, it should be consilient with the physical domain the way chemistry is consilient with quantum mechanics or evolution is consilient with genetics. They should fit together harmoniously instead of being separated by a landmine-strewn DMZ.

    Compatibilism insists that the physical and spiritual cannot be part of the same whole, and that is why I reject it (in the absence of any reasons for thinking the universe really is dualistic).

  123. #124 Dan L.
    December 10, 2012

    @Walt:

    You’re the one living in an information bubble. The fact that you can’t see that you’re susceptible to all the same foible of which you accuse atheists, etc. is hilarious. You are the poster child for Dunning Kruger effect.

  124. #125 Walt
    December 10, 2012

    Dal l,

    The cool thing I predict is even after you see the chart where welfare spending is $168 dollars per day and the rest of us have a median income of $137 dollars per day that you will still vote to steal money from “the rich”. Evidence doesn’t matter to leftists. Immune from thinking they are.

    http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/welfare-spending-equates-168-day-every-household-poverty_665160.html. A medieval serf only paid 25% of his income in taxes. Your information bubble system makes you justify theft, taking from others things that don’t belong to you. It use to be getting relief was shameful, now people like you feel that stealing from others is a civil,right.

  125. #126 Dan L.
    December 10, 2012

    @Walt:

    First of all, you don’t know the first thing about me or my political beliefs. Even whether they’re leftist. You’re assuming all of that. I challenged you on this point because I knew you didn’t really have an argument here. This comparison of “welfare spending” to “median income” looks pretty suspicious. Can you tell me whether the “welfare spending” includes social security? (Social security is, of course, not a welfare program; you spend your entire working life paying social security taxes to earn the benefits; whether this is a good idea — and I’m not entirely sure it is — is beside the point.) Can you tell me whether this “welfare spending” includes administrative costs? (If it does, the $168 per family is incredibly dishonest.)

    My objection to your opinion was NOT about the subject of welfare, but about calling single-parent families “dysfunctional.” You presume to judge people you’ve never met and who are likely smarter, more moral, and contribute more to society than you ever will. This is because you’re a small-minded fool who cannot even begin to imagine the world as it is. In fact, it would frighten you to do so. So you need to suppress information about the world that would contradict what you already know

    It’s so blindingly clear that you’re not willing to re-examine any of your beliefs or prejudices that I can’t stop laughing seeing how quick you are to accuse others of an unwillingness or inability to do likewise. Why don’t you share with us a single belief or tenet that you think you might be wrong about? I’ll happily do the same.

  126. #127 Dan L.
    December 10, 2012

    @Walt:

    Hey, this “welfare spending” includes medicare. What do you think of medicare, Walt? I know your republican heroes in congress and Mitt Romney LOVE medicare — they were SO angry when Obama started discussing reforming medicare spending. And I know a lot of republican voters are medicare recipients and huge supporters of medicare. But what do YOU think about it?

    If you’re against it could you do me a favor and go explain to all your pro-medicare republican buddies how harmful it is to our society? I really don’t understand why the steely-eyed pragmatists in the republican party think medicare is so great when it’s pretty obviously a handout for lazy leeches. Could you get your side of the political divide into some state of consistency about this before waging war against the evil liberals?

  127. #128 phhht
    December 10, 2012

    Walt says;

    Atheists have the free will to accept or reject the existence of The Supreme Being.

    I’m an atheist, and not only do I reject the existence of gods, I also reject the Christian salvation scam.

    I call it a scam because it is presented as an either-or choice between heaven and hell. That presentation omits the free-will rejection of eternal life. I choose to die.

    And if Walt’s gods don’t permit that, well, so much for free will, huh Walt.

  128. #129 eric
    December 10, 2012

    VS;

    Perhaps in other discussions, but in the debate against incompatibilists, they are simply arguing against the claims of the incompatibilists that science and religion are, in fact, incompatible, meaning as I said that you cannot hold both and have a consistent worldview. All you need to disprove that sort of claim is, in fact, logical possibility.

    No, because if there are multiply, unevidenced, logically compatible hypotheses, it is not compatible with science to arbitrarly believe one of them and no the others.

    It is also not compatible with science to believe a merely logically compatible hypotheses when an extensive amount of relevant evidence strongly supports a different explanation for the same claim. I.e., for bigfoot, fraud or mistaken identify of an animal. Just like with bigfoot, for a claim of human ressurrection, it is not consistent with science to believe it because fraud and error are both more strongly supported by all our observations of billions of other humans.

  129. #130 eric
    December 10, 2012

    walt:

    Atheists have the free will to accept or reject the existence of The Supreme Being.

    Sure. But we seem to have reached agreement that humans would still have that free will (at least in terms of accepting/rejecting his commands) if the supreme being revealed himself empirically. So, why doesn’t he do that?

  130. #131 Walt
    December 10, 2012

    When you take offense at the voting pattern of unwed mothers being that of atheists is it evidence of a mindset. Not a whole lot of guessing does it take to see you have ZERO REGARD to the property rights of others and place yourself above them. As I predicted you did not conssider evidence and remain as bigoted as before you got the evidence. If you were actually as smart as you think you are rather than a legend in your own mind you would write to Senator Jeff Sessions about your outstanding questions. Fun poking holes in leftists, they have no tools to defend themselves since they live in an information buble sealed off from reality.

    One part of Obamacare I have heard of if true I really like. Gives all the rest of us the means to tax the poor. What was told to me that Obamacare premiums may in part be priced on BMI. Huge numbers of the poor eat way too much and create healthcare costs of their own making. Like that woman who voted for Obama because he gave her a free cell phone … She was very fat. So it would be cool if she picked up a major portion of her health expenses that are under her own control rather than passing those costs to others and stealing their money to pay for her bad behavior.

    The socialist part divides people into groups … Women against men, old vs young, 98vs 2 etc. same as Hitler did and Iran does today. Rather transparent and Obama has people believing stealing from others is a civil right. Right out of his Marxist play book.

  131. #132 phhht
    December 10, 2012

    So Walt, why don’t you explain to us how you know Harry Potter is fiction, but God isn’t.

  132. #133 Walt
    December 10, 2012

    Phhht,

    Just because salvation is a scam in your mind does not mean what you believe is real. Christianity produces the best societies like the USA and atheists run places like the ISSR AND Red china. Atheists killed over 100,000,000 people in the last century.

    How would you like to live in red china and work for Foxconn? A friend of mine calls on them to calibrate equipment in a big plant they have near Hong Kong. They have a net that sticks out to catch people who try to commit suicide. And the people have figured out how to bypass it and still kill themselves. Typing this on my iPad made by Foxconn employees. Waiting for thre Chinese people to accept Christainity and throw off their atheist masters. Judging things by the fruits is right out of the Bible and a message from Jesus to you whether or not you accept the lesson. Free will to accept or reject. Our country was founded on the idea that our rights come from the Creator and not a group of atheists or desists or government.

  133. #134 Dan L.
    December 10, 2012

    @Walt:

    1. It was not the voting patterns of single parents that I objected to, but your judgement that single-parent families are inherently dysfunctional. As I said, you’re a closed-minded, judgmental, arrogant moron.
    2. There are plenty of conservative atheists.
    3. I did consider the evidence for your assertion; you did not. The Weekly Standard piece is sheer propaganda which is easily seen by reviewing the document on which it’s based: http://www.scribd.com/doc/110413572/CRS-Report-on-Welfare-Spending There we find more than half of this “welfare spending” — almost none of it on the TANF program, which is traditionally the only program called “welfare” — goes to medical care subsidies. More than half. So while the article implies that the government is just cutting checks to these lazy freeloaders, the truth is that this spending is done on a variety of programs with a variety of purposes and outcomes and that it does not amount to a direct cash giveaway to the poor. Moreover, it includes administration costs as part of the $168, making the comparison to median income incredibly ludicrous.

    I say this as someone who believes that direct government assistance is a bad thing and agrees with you that a culture in which taking government handouts is shameful is a healthier culture. (See what happens when you make assumptions? When you decide you know what’s true before actually looking at the evidence? You end up being wrong most of the time.) However, I don’t like being a sucker. I don’t like being lied to and I hate propaganda, even if it’s used to back up a proposition with which I would otherwise agree.

    You, apparently, don’t care if you’re being lied to as long as those lies support your prejudices. You’re a partisan hack. You have no mind of your own, you only believe what Fox News pumps into your head. Good luck with that.

    Fun poking holes in leftists, they have no tools to defend themselves since they live in an information buble sealed off from reality.

    The funny part about this is that you say it without bothering to defend your own arguments. You act as though if you keep saying stuff like this the fact that it’s so much more obviously true of you than it is of “leftists” won’t be so clear.

    I can’t help but notice you couldn’t think of a single belief or tenet you believe you could be mistaken about. It really puts the lie to the idea that you’re a clear-headed, independent thinker. Of course, that’s obvious since all you’ve done on this thread is wheezed out right wing propaganda. Oh well, I guess we can’t all think for ourselves.

  134. #135 Walt
    December 10, 2012

    Eric, if the Supreme Being got involved with every action of man it would be like an over protective parent and have a bad impact on humanity in general. I see that at soccer games my kids played in. When kids can develop to their fullest extent it is not with parents telling them what to do every second. What works best is a kid getting a principle and then working out the point on their own.

    Dolphins have a more developed frontal cortex than we do but they have no culture because parents don’t have the means to pass down much from one generation to the next. The Supreme Being gave us the tools to create culture and the ability to develop kids. Note that socialists run the education system in America so it sucks. No doubt the % of atheists in education is higher than the population in general. So atheism sucks as a belief system and Christainity permits people to be atheist or accept Jeus or Budda or whatever. Atheist suck in that they have invented a new right called the right not to be offended so Christmas is under attack and we have PC speech codes on colleges etc. can’t say this or can’t say that but minorities and bill Mahr can say anything

  135. #136 Dan L.
    December 10, 2012

    Anyway, let’s get back to the medicare question. Why are you so hateful towards leftists when so many people on the right support medicare? Shouldn’t you acknowledge that they’re also trying to steal your hard-earned property? Doesn’t it seem a little blindly partisan to focus so much on the evils of the left and ignore those of the right?

  136. #137 phhht
    December 10, 2012

    Just because salvation is a scam in your mind does not mean what you believe is real.

    What a non sequitur!

    What I believe is based on evidence. You know, like the evidence for apples, or zebras.

    But there is no such evidence for gods, Walt. Not a single, solitary scrap.

    Why should I believe gods are any more real than Harry Potter?

  137. #138 Walt
    December 10, 2012

    Harry potter created revenue for Jk Rowling. God created the universe, life and people who believed in him created the USA which is the freest country on earth. Atheists have tried to create ideal sociteties like the USSR, New Harmony, IN, and Red China.

    Judge things by results, old lesson taught by Jesus.

  138. #139 Dan L.
    December 10, 2012

    Also, others have pointed out that other demographics who voted for Obama are some of the wealthiest and best-educated demographics in the US. You haven’t bothered to address those arguments, but they seriously challenge the inference you’re trying to make about single mothers and atheists.

  139. #140 phhht
    December 10, 2012

    Oh and Walt, I notice you don’t dispute that salvation IS a scam. It’s a scam because it is based on the tacit assumption that there is no alternative to heaven or hell.

    But there IS an alternative. If I have free will, all I have to do to vitiate the afterlife extortion which underlies Christianity is to make a free will choice to do neither. Instead, I choose to die.

    And your gods, being such big free willies and all, let me make that choice.

    Right, Walt?

  140. #141 Dan L.
    December 10, 2012

    For the record, I didn’t vote for Obama and I’m not a socialist. Try using your brain instead of your spleen for once, Walt.

  141. #142 phhht
    December 10, 2012

    But God and Jesus are just stories, Walt. They are every bit as fictional as Harry Potter.

    Or do you have evidence to the contrary?

    No, I thought not.

  142. #143 Walt
    December 10, 2012

    Dan l,

    Perhaps you just play the role of a socialist in social media … Like I am not a doctor but I play one onTV.

  143. #144 Dan L.
    December 10, 2012

    @Walt:

    You’re really having trouble with the fact that someone might not be a socialist or leftist but still think you’re a raving idiot, aren’t you?

    Don’t tell me what I believe. I have a much better handle on it than you do.

  144. #145 Walt
    December 10, 2012

    Phhht ttt,

    There is evidence that Pontus Pilate really was roman authority at the time of Jesus etc. I once saw a casket that was placed in a vault and not intended to ever be seen again. On it was several historical refences that related to people found in the New Testament and also said the person in the casket died four years after the death of Jesus and they went on to say “who has arisen”.

    So regardless of what you believe the person making the inscription on the casket believed that Jesus existed and also arose from the dead. I don’t expect any evidence would alter your thinking, even poking your finger in the hole in the side of Jesus.

  145. #146 Walt
    December 10, 2012

    Dan l

    When smothering waddles like a duck,quacks like a duck and looks like a duck what is a person suppose to believe? It is not a duck? Name calling is a socialist tactic. Watch more MSNBC FOR EXAMPLES.

  146. #147 MNb
    December 10, 2012

    “same as Hitler did”
    Hitler was a christian.

    http://www.nobeliefs.com/speeches.htm

    Hitler was even a creationist.

    http://coelsblog.wordpress.com/2011/11/08/nazi-racial-ideology-was-religious-creationist-and-opposed-to-darwinism/

    “Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung are revered for their embodiment of national virtues”
    Sounds quite religious to me.

    http://juchegirl.blogspot.com/
    “Dear Leader make the handicap walk and the blind see. Dear Leader is always full of loving care for the people.”

    http://www1.korea-np.co.jp/pk/062nd_issue/98092410.htm
    “Our Party and people who have traversed the glorious path of struggle and victory over half a century following the banner of the Juche idea under the guidance of the great leader, should hold high this banner in future, too, and fight on energetically.”
    North Korea is a religious country, albeit not a christian one. Something similar can be shown for Maoist China and Stalinist Soviet-Russia.

  147. #148 phhht
    December 10, 2012

    Walt,

    And there is evidence that there really is a city called London, just like the Harry Potter stories say.

    All you’ve got is hot air, Walt. You can repeat your stories over and over like a five-year-old with his favorite bedtime stories, but you have not a scrap of empirical evidence for the existence of gods. Your zombie demigod is no more real than The Walking Dead. Nobody rises from the dead, except in fiction.

    Unless you have evidence to the contrary? I need to put my fingers in the wounds, Walt. I insist on something tangible and touchable, like the evidence for apples or zebras. Something a great deal more plausible than the myths of goatherds from the dawn of the Iron Age, which is all you’ve got.

  148. #149 Dan L.
    December 10, 2012

    If name-calling is a socialist tactic, then surely you must be a socialist. You’re calling me “socialist” after all. Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, and Rush Limbaugh –your heroes, I”m sure — all engage in a fair amount of name-calling as well. Socialists?

    I don’t own a TV so watching MSNBC is going to be a little difficult. Besides, that channel sucks.

    The Weekly Standard article is really interesting because it’s a perfect example of what you say about “information bubbles,” but for the right instead of the left. You took a look at the article and it confirmed your prejudices so you didn’t bother to look any further into the details — to see whether the article may be misleading or fudging things for propaganda purposes. Of course, the article didn’t provide any links or notes on sources or methodology so it would have required doing a google search or something, and I know that’s really taxing for *ahem* intellects such as yours.

    So you provide a perfect picture of mindless partisan thinking, the same sin of which you keep accusing “leftists”. It seems somewhat hypocritical to me that you would spend so much time and energy lambasting “leftists” for this sort of thing only to fall prey to it yourself in the very same discussion.

    On the other hand, you’re clearly not a thinking person. Your “arguments” are really poorly-disguised personal attacks. God* has given you the whole earth and all the heavens but you choose to sit in darkened rooms ranting and railing about demons and enemies that exist only in your own imagination. I really feel sorry for you.

    *I’m speaking figuratively, but feel free to take it literally.

  149. #150 MNb
    December 10, 2012

    http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2012/05/29/491443/un-report-child-poverty/?mobile=nc

    “Christianity produces the best societies like the USA”
    Yeah – that’s why USA is so low on the list given above while several of the most secular countries in the world – Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and The Netherlands – are ranked so much higher.

  150. #151 Dan L.
    December 10, 2012

    @Walt:

    What actual evidence do you have that I’m a socialist. Put it all on the table, big guy. Don’t be coy.

    When someone tells you “I believe A” and you’re arguing with them that no, no, they believe B, that’s a pretty good sign that your connection to reality is tenuous at best. You’re inventing enemies to fight. That’s really sad, and as before I feel sorry for you.

  151. #152 phhht
    December 10, 2012

    Walt, you’re a real hoot! I especially like this:

    When smothering</i[sic] waddles like a duck,quacks like a duck and looks like a duck what is a person suppose to believe? It is not a duck? Name calling is a socialist tactic.

    Really barmy stuff!

  152. #153 Dan L.
    December 10, 2012

    What does it say about Christianity that an atheist like me is almost certainly a happier, less fearful, and more spiritually-fulfilled person than someone like Walt?

    It says a lot, and none of it good.

  153. #154 Walt
    December 10, 2012

    Danl,

    Says to me you are living in an information bubble.

  154. #155 Walt
    December 10, 2012

    Pitt

    “Really barmy stuff!”

    QED, which was to be proven.

  155. #156 phhht
    December 10, 2012

    Walt you got me rollin’ in the aisles buddy! I could never make this shit up:

    “Really barmy stuff!”

    QED, which was to be proven.

    QED, Walt, means roughly “thus it is shown”, so barmy? QED!

  156. #157 Dan L.
    December 10, 2012

    @Walt:

    You’re a caricature. You’re almost too ridiculous to be believed. I can’t help but notice that you haven’t been able to defend yourself on even a single substantial point, preferring to rely on ad hominem fallacies to make your “points”. While we’re saying QED, I’d say that nicely demonstrates my point that you’re an unthinking partisan ideologue.

    But tell me something: is there a single thought, idea, or belief in your head that is not conservative Christian dogma? Have you ever had a single thought that was new or unique to your, or do you just religiously parrot everything repeated to you in your information bubble?

  157. #158 Dan L.
    December 10, 2012

    By the way, people like you are the reason that, although I’ve rejected liberalism, I will probably never identify as a conservative. People might judge me by the company I keep.

  158. #159 Walt
    December 10, 2012

    Danl,

    People like you are why liberalism won the last election.

  159. #160 Walt
    December 10, 2012

    Danl,

    I form my beliefs in proportion to the evidence that supports them.. I wasmsecularmleaving college and spent a year in Thailand …Thailand means free land. So they have been mostly free for two thousand years but not really free, but very silimar to Americans in many ways. So I saw, likemjefferson before me, that it was Christian beliefs that make all the difference. If a person follows the evidence and pays attention they see that Christian values are what works and thus inspired by God. Not much into faith but it still takes a bit to figure something remains after you die. And you are going to die.

  160. #161 Walt
    December 10, 2012

    Phhht,

    Proved what you are … Why QED fits you like a glove.

  161. #162 phhht
    December 10, 2012

    So Walt, I missed your answers.

    How do you know your bible stories are true, but Harry Potter stories are fiction?

    Will your free-willie gods permit me to return the “gift” of eternal life, unopened and unused? If so, that means I don’t have to worry about threats of hell and hopes of paradise. Your gods have no way to coerce me. If not, it means your gods are monstrous slave masters who offer anything but free will. Which is it?

  162. #163 phhht
    December 10, 2012

    And oh yeah, Walt, when will zombie Jesus be doing a cameo on The Walking Dead? Because he sure isn’t gonna show up here in reality, is he?

  163. #164 Dan L.
    December 10, 2012

    I form my beliefs in proportion to the evidence that supports them.

    Maybe you tell yourself that, maybe you even believe it. But it is quite clear from the picture of yourself painted by your comments that it is simply not true. You seem incapable of really grappling with ideas and opinions that do not conform to your expectations; your worldview determines what counts as “evidence” to you. And so despite your rabid denouncements of the liberal “information bubble” you cannot see the “information bubble” you have put yourself into.

    Quite simply, you cannot admit that you could possibly be wrong about anything. I’ve asked you several times to prove otherwise — to name aspects of your worldview about which you think you could conceivably be wrong. A very simple question to answer but you have consistently failed to do so. I think that’s the most convincing symptom of your dogmatism so far.

  164. #165 Walt
    December 10, 2012

    Phhht,

    There ismevidencenof stories from the Bible is how to tell …or as Martin might say if he were still with us … Sola scriptural.

  165. #166 Walt
    December 10, 2012

    Phhht, one thing is certain … In the not too distant future you will be dead. Me … Maybe not.

  166. #167 Walt
    December 10, 2012

    Danl,

    I went to thailand as a secularist and came back figuring Christainity holds the answer for civilizations. Evidence guides my beliefs. Chem and liberal arts majors. Math and physics minors. As to where I might be wrong … I thought Obama of doing positive things for America and when he applauded and cheered Psy (gandnam style) and Psy called for the murder of American soldiers that is what I expected since Obama was raised by Marxists to hate America. But Obama has also whacked maybe 2,000 al Qaeda leaders so their bench is getting thin and that is pretty good. Excellent move by BO and not what I expected of him. Very good plan to make the military smaller and have our robots kill their terrorists. Such a good plan that Marxists like Amy Goodman don’t like it and she won’t be happy until al of Hezbolah and al Qaeda are on food stamps.

  167. #168 phhht
    December 10, 2012

    Walt, you strike me as the kind of guy who has to unzip to count past ten, so I’m gonna give up on you. I’ll just read your posts and guffaw. Thanks for the laughs!

  168. #169 jrosenhouse
    December 11, 2012

    OK, folks. I think this charming conversation has run its course.

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