Pharyngula

Unbelievable. Whenever I read about these End Times kooks, I wonder what is wrong with people.

For some Christians this means laying the groundwork for Armageddon.

With that goal in mind, mega-church pastors recently met in Inglewood to polish strategies for using global communications and aircraft to transport missionaries to fulfill the Great Commission: to make every person on Earth aware of Jesus’ message. Doing so, they believe, will bring about the end, perhaps within two decades.

The article is full of red heifers and rebuilt temples and urgent conversions to satisfy prophecy and lunatics anxious to usher in the apocalypse. These people are insane.

…Bill McCartney, a former University of Colorado football coach and co-founder of the evangelical Promise Keepers movement for men, which became huge in the 1990s, has had a devil of a time getting his own apocalyptic campaign off the ground.

It’s called The Road to Jerusalem, and its mission is to convert Jews to Christianity—while there is still time.

“Our whole purpose is to hasten the end times,” he said. “The Bible says Jews will be brought to jealousy when they see Christians and Jewish believers together as one—they’ll want to be a part of that. That’s going to signal Jesus’ return.”

Jews and others who don’t accept Jesus, he added matter-of-factly, “are toast.”

Sizzle, sizzle. Ha ha, if you don’t accept my kooky beliefs, my Impossible Space Monster will destroy you. And it’s not just Christians…all the children of Abraham get in the act of mutual hatred.

…in what has become a spectacular annual routine, Jews—hoping to rebuild the Holy Temple destroyed by the Romans in AD 70—attempt to haul the 6 1/2 -ton cornerstones by truck up to the Temple Mount, the site now occupied by the Dome of the Rock shrine. Each year, they are turned back by police.

Among those turned away is Gershon Solomon, spokesman for Jerusalem’s Temple Institute. When the temple is built, he said, “Islam is over.”

Oh, and Ahmadinejad is in there with his own delusions of an all-conquering Muslim messiah. They’re nuts, too.

There’s the usual roster of American evangelical dorkwads…and an appalling statistic.

According to various polls, an estimated 40% of Americans believe that a sequence of events presaging the end times is already underway. Among the believers are pastors of some of the largest evangelical churches in America, who converged at Faith Central Bible Church in Inglewood in February to finalize plans to start 5 million new churches worldwide in 10 years.

“Jesus Christ commissioned his disciples to go to the ends of the Earth and tell everyone how they could achieve eternal life,” said James Davis, president of the Global Pastors Network’s “Billion Souls Initiative,” one of an estimated 2,000 initiatives worldwide designed to boost the Christian population.

“As we advance around the world,” Davis said, “we’ll be shortening the time needed to fulfill that Great Commission. Then, the Bible says, the end will come.”

Hasn’t this gone far enough? Where are all the rational people who look aghast at this nonsense and tell these people that there is something wrong with them? I keep hearing about these good Christians who practice a sensible and healthy religion—what do you do when your neighbors or friends or family or minister starts babbling about Armageddon? Do you sit quietly and hold your tongue, for politeness’ sake? Is that how this kind of absurdity is allowed to grow?

Do me a favor. It’s a big favor, and we need everyone to join in. Next time your brother, or your sister-in-law, or your grandmother, or some guy in the booth next to you at the coffeeshop, starts talking about the Rapture or the End Times or the Second Coming or whatever crap they want to call it, just stand up, turn to them, and say loudly and clearly so everyone around you can hear it,

YOU ARE A DEMENTED FUCKWIT.

And walk away. Treat them as the pariahs they should be.

This will be especially effective if you do it in your church.

Don’t argue with them. Don’t waste any effort on them. Just make your contempt loud and clear. It’s not hard. And when the conversation with others turns to those nitwits, don’t wrestle with their mental problems at all. Just say,

THEY ARE DEMENTED FUCKWITS.

It’s a message we need to get out there more.

Hey, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Clyde Lott, James Davis, John C. Hagee, Bill McCartney, Gershon Solomon, Ted Haggard, and all you other hucksters, con artists, televangelists, delusional wackos, self-styled prophets, and agents of ignorance and doom:

YOU ARE DEMENTED FUCKWITS.

You can also start singing this song if they go off on one of their other obsessions.


I’m actually getting people in the comments telling me that this brusque dismissal is inappropriate: I’m supposed to engage these loons in serious debate. Look, people, I’ve met a few of them. You have to realize that you are proposing a rational discussion with a guy who believes that the all-powerful god of the cosmos is waiting for him to butcher the exactly right cow, and then this deity will come to earth and engage in a holy war against the people who eat bacon and clams. That is, he is a demented fuckwit.

I can tell you exactly what will happen if you engage him. He will quote Bible verses at you with absolute certainty. He will recite well-practiced dogma over and over again. He won’t falter, he won’t doubt, he won’t think. And your audience will be impressed at his unwavering command of the “facts,” and that you, O Wise and Rational Science Guy, think his story is worth arguing about, as equals.

Comments

  1. #1 Steve_C
    July 11, 2006

    I think anyone questioning science and espousing their superior christian/jewish/muslim beliefs should be asked right off…

    “Do you believe we’re approaching or are in the End Times? Or Is the messiah soon to return?”

    Wonder if anyone would even ask Mel GIbson that.

    And if they dance around the answer… call them on it.

    Ann Coulter needs to be asked.

  2. #2 JakeB
    July 11, 2006

    All I can say is Armageddon sick of all the End Times talk.

  3. #3 c
    July 11, 2006

    There so much stupidity out there, the end of the world will show all those people that I’m right and they are wrong. It’s a matter of winning an argument, you know. What if I want the world to come to an end so all this craziness will stop and I’ll be able to continue with my life? Where do I sign for the conversions??

    Oh, wait a minute, you said END of the world..??

  4. #4 flame821
    July 11, 2006

    To be honest, I would answer that yes, the end of human time is probaly in the offing. Do I believe that a messiah or invisible sky daddy is the cause. Hell no, I think morons with horrible weapons and LOTS of delusions are the reason we humans have a rather bleak outlook for long-term survival.

  5. #5 Steve_C
    July 11, 2006

    http://www.leftbehindgames.com/pages/the_games.htm

    This really pisses me off.

    I live in NYC. They’re promoting walking around Manhattan during armageddon and offing those who fail to convert.

    THEY ARE DEMENTED FUCKWITS.

  6. #6 Blake Stacey
    July 11, 2006

    The article requires a “free registration” (I assume that’s as in free beer, not free speech) with which I don’t feel like bothering today. However, I have to note that my baloney-detection warning flags went up when I saw the line “According to various polls, an estimated 40% of Americans believe that a sequence of events presaging the end times is already underway.” How do we know this isn’t a number like the “one in ten people have been abducted by aliens” (or whatever the exact figure was) which the pollsters derived by asking unrelated questions — have you ever had a nosebleed, found unexpected bruises on your body, etc. — and counted all those who answered more than one with “yes”.

    This example comes from Sagan’s The Demon-Haunted World, which I left at home today because I foolishly thought I’d be doing actual work instead of commenting on blogs.

    I can easily imagine a poll along the same lines in which the pollsters ask leading questions and then (intentionally or not) misinterpret the results. For example, if you ask people straight-up, “Are we living in the time the Book of Revelations predicted as the last generation before the Apocalypse?” I bet you’ll get fewer yes replies than if you asked, “Are you concerned about the threat of international terrorism?” Ask ten questions of the latter kind and you could easily fabricate a 40% proportion of apocalyptically-inclined respondents.

    It’s not an impossible figure, but it does require validation. There’s gotta be a better source for that number than an offhand mention. . . After all, the easiest way to lie with statistics is just to make them up.

  7. #7 zwa
    July 11, 2006

    I remember hearing someone ask Bush something along the lines of ‘a lot of your support comes from the religous conservatives who beleive that the rapture is coming soon, do you share their beleifs’. He gave some lame non-answer, but i think he, and all those milking the religeous right for votes should be repeatedly questioned on this point. I think this is an obvious way to cut people off from a support base of nut-jobs.

  8. #8 DragonScholar
    July 11, 2006

    These people remind me of some of the survivalist-types I knew. They’re literally more invested in the world ending than in making the world better. I don’t care what money they spend on hospitals and charity when they poison our culture with this malarkey and write off the future.

    There’s something hideously Lovecraftian about all this – people trying to conduction religious rituals to bring about the end of the world, and looking forward to the slaughter of much of humanity. What a terrible, sadistic, psychopathic false god they must worship.

    (And if you haven’t followed the debacle of the Left Behind Video Game, you should. Shooting nurses for Christ!)

    I maintain hope in humanity simply because I know we can do better. If I give up on that – then I become a bit more like these buggers.

  9. #9 Humbert Dinglepencker
    July 11, 2006

    Isn’t it interesting? All these xtians working for the second coming, all of them with the deep unspoken fear in their guts that Jesus, when he appears to them, will look just like Schmule Boteach.

  10. #10 mjfgates
    July 11, 2006

    My wife politely asks if we are allowed to call them “batshit insane” instead.

    When little old ladies are about, it does help slightly to drop the profanity, but you can still get the core message through.

  11. #11 George
    July 11, 2006

    Chance said:

    I don’t even think a person like Hitler deserves eternal suffering. … Why Jesus would care … transport themselves to heaven …

    There is no such thing as eternal suffering.

    Jesus, if the figure described in the New Testament and elsewhere, doesn’t care about anyone anymore. He’s dead and long, long gone.

    There is no heaven transport. If people stopped believing in this figment of their imaginations, the world might be a safer place.

  12. #12 Steve_C
    July 11, 2006

    I bet if you play as the anti-christ they make it impossible for you to win.

    Besides… the game just looks lousy.

  13. #13 MReap
    July 11, 2006

    “You are Demented Fuckwits”

    I believe this is a hymn in one of the alternative hymnals of the Episcopal Church. We need to dust it off for our own demented fuckwits first, however. ;-)

  14. #14 cp
    July 11, 2006

    @ mjfgates

    Now that’s a realistic plan

  15. #15 Steve Watson
    July 11, 2006

    I say this with sincerity. I am a Christian man who is seriously rethinking my thoughts on my religion.

    Jews and others who don’t accept Jesus, he added matter-of-factly, “are toast.”
    I find this a disgusting sentiment that I simply am not sure I can honestly stomach.

    The “everyone except us will be tortured for eternity” thing was the first bit of my theology to crumble, back in the day. I don’t see how anyone can actually live for an extended period with that belief and remain both humane and sane. ISTM that one either has to suppress it and mention it only rarely (many evangelicals, who manage to be decent people most of the time), become a frenetic in-your-face evangelist (and we meet lots of those), or start to think that tormenting the infidel is a good thing — maybe even to giving them a head-start on the process (and we’ve run across a few of those, too). It is a evil, morally corrupting doctrine.

  16. #16 Steve_C
    July 11, 2006

    BATSHIT INSANE DEMENTED FUCKWITS

    From the Game FAQ.

    Are guns used by Christians against non-Christians? Why or why not?

    The storyline in the game begins just after the Rapture has occurred – when all adult Christians, all infants, and many children were instantly swept home to Heaven and off the Earth by God. The remaining population – those who were left behind – are then poised to make a decision at some point. They cannot remain neutral. Their choice is to either join the AntiChrist – which is an imposturous one world government seeking peace for all of mankind, or they may join the Tribulation Force – which seeks to expose the truth and defend themselves against the forces of the AntiChrist.

    Does the violence depicted in the game run contrary to Jesus’ message on “love your enemy”?

    Absolutely not. Christians are quite clearly taught to turn the other cheek and to love their enemies. It is equally true that no one should forfeit their lives to an aggressor who is bent on inflicting death. Forgiveness does not require absolute defenselessness. Apparent contradictions on behalf of Christians are often the result of them placing greater importance on the message, than in caring for others. LEFT BEHIND: Eternal Forces is a game which provides great entertainment while encouraging fascinating discussions about matters of eternal importance.

  17. #17 Alexander Vargas
    July 11, 2006

    I don’t know if I’m interested in reading another of PZ religion posts in detail, it’s a bit long. All I can say is that the proposed “demented fuckwit” strategy is really, really stupid and worthless. What;s happening, PZ? Forgot your pills, your anger management sessions? Showing yourself really really angry is not going to impress anyone, you know.
    Why not instead of flinging yourself into the corner of easy extremism and shouting insults from there don’t you take two seconds to analize why people are despaired? It is despair that makes them give up on control of their lives and believe only the big G can save them. They are anxiously waiting for a “rapture” that will never come. Some asshole shouting obsceneties and insults to them doesn’t help, you know. It just confirms to them that the world is the hopeless shithole they think it is.

  18. #18 Phil
    July 11, 2006

    Among those turned away is Gershon Solomon, spokesman for Jerusalem’s Temple Institute. When the temple is built, he said, “Islam is over.”

    Then Solomon says later of Christianity…

    “What kind of religion is it that expects another religion will be destroyed?”

    So destroying Islam is fine, yet the destruction of YOUR inane belief structure is unthinkable? Another critical eye that has never seen a mirror.

    Demented Fuckwits.

  19. #19 BMurray
    July 11, 2006

    So, Vargas, basically “TOO LONG DIDNT READ LOL”? Thanks for your participation.

  20. #20 George
    July 11, 2006

    Religious kooks in the hands of an angry PZ. A joy to behold.

    How about some idiotic-fantasy-god-thought management? Is there a pill to control that?

  21. #21 JW Tan
    July 11, 2006

    How much of this belief that the Rapture is imminent comes from those ghastly Left Behind books?

    I am reminded of how some people believe in the Cthulhu mythos, assert that Abdul Alhazred is a real person, and are looking for a bootleg copy of the Necronomicon.

  22. #22 Wally Whateley
    July 11, 2006

    I see nothing wrong with calling people “demented fuckwits” when they are, objectively, demented fuckwits.

  23. #23 Steve_C
    July 11, 2006

    AV obviously didn’t bother to read it.

  24. #24 Alexander Vargas
    July 11, 2006

    Nobody, my friends, is a purebred, irreversible “demented fuckwit”. Not even you!

  25. #25 Mark Paris
    July 11, 2006

    These loonies were around back in the Reagan days, too. Remember Interior Scty James Watt? He thought we should use up all our natural resources because the world would be ending shortly, and why save them? He was forced to resign after referring to a group of people on some kind of Senate committee as “a black, a woman, two Jews and a cripple.” Good christian sentiment, right?

  26. #26 Scott Hatfield
    July 11, 2006

    Well. I hate to quibble, because I often experience the exact same emotional reaction to these people: “they must be crazy!”

    And yet, the eschatologically-minded Christians aren’t insane, demented, etc. It would be so much easier if they were, because the demented don’t as a rule vote much, pay taxes or hang together enough to be politically effective.

    The Religious Right, however, does. Calling them names is not an effective response. This reinforces their conviction that they are a persecuted minority, and that those ‘left behind’ will suffer even greater persecution in the ‘Great Tribulation’.

    I agree with SteveC and zwa that putting political candidates on the spot with where they stand on ‘end times’ foolishness is absolutely essential.

    I would suggest to Chance that his faith should not turn on whether or not this or that ‘Christian’ seems eager to condemn non-believers. I reject creationism not because creationists are venal; I reject creationism because it is poor theology and poor science.

    And, with respect to what a fella should call such people, I prefer to call them ‘brother’…as in ‘brother, you’ve got some pretty strange ideas, let’s look at the actual historical basis for these claims, and why Lindsey, LaHaye and others are just bad for Christianity, etc.’

    I recognize that many on this blog feel no obligation to engaging anyone espousing ‘end times’ theology, much less ‘talk nice.’ But the old adage that you get more flies with honey than with vinegar definitely applies when you’re dealing with the churched, and I think it is a mistake to assume that real Christians aren’t challenging these views in the churches.

    There are candles out there in the dark, to use Sagan’s metaphor, and some of them are in the churches. Be encouraged.

    Scott

  27. #27 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    July 11, 2006

    Nobody, my friends, is a purebred, irreversible “demented fuckwit”. Not even you!

    Humm. Really.

  28. #28 Alexander Vargas
    July 11, 2006

    say the statistic is right, and 40% of the population is despaired enough to believe in rapture like scenarios. Is the “demented fuckwit” strategy the way to go about this? Hey, you guys have alredy lost quite a lot of sympathy because of your intellectualoid bigotry. You already were unable to keep the war mongering christain friendly president from re conquering the white house. Will you even be able to stand up to a third republican president? I don’t care what you say, you are loosing and you should stop insulting and blame YOURSELVES. Unless you prefer to despair rather than take things in your hands. like good christians!!! hahaha
    Could it be that its time you stop insulting (oh, yeah. I know it feels so good) and start some serious AUTO-CRITICISM before you lose AGAIN???

  29. #29 Bronze Dog
    July 11, 2006

    I don’t know how, but we need to get belief in the rapture, Hell, and a deity who cares about what you do with your naughty bits shoved into the same category as belief in eugenics, racial supremacy, and all that sort of nastiness. The former and the latter really aren’t all that different from where I stand.

  30. #30 Kristine
    July 11, 2006

    What I don’t get is why everything we’ve learned about abusive relationships, being autonomous versus being co-dependent, democracy, and equality goes right out the window when people start talking about their relationship to God. Whenever they speak about a deity they drag out the “we’re not supposed to question,” and the grand old “God’s punshing them/him/her/me out of love.” This whole supposed cosmic purpose of the End Times and the Crapture is the most meaningless paradigm I have ever encountered. The sterile utilitarian view of having some “purpose” for one’s life kills our greatest talent–the ability to create our own purpose. The End Times sounds like the biggest abortion in the world to me–I don’t suppose this would make believers think.

  31. #31 M Petersen
    July 11, 2006

    The “everyone except us will be tortured for eternity” thing was the first bit of my theology to crumble, back in the day. I don’t see how anyone can actually live for an extended period with that belief and remain both humane and sane. ISTM that one either has to suppress it and mention it only rarely (many evangelicals, who manage to be decent people most of the time), become a frenetic in-your-face evangelist (and we meet lots of those), or start to think that tormenting the infidel is a good thing — maybe even to giving them a head-start on the process (and we’ve run across a few of those, too). It is a evil, morally corrupting doctrine.

    I disagree with this assessment. You don’t have to suppress it, mention it rarely, or become some freak. The simple truth is that God cannot be around sin. The result of committing a sin is separation from God, and everyone has sinned. To where is God going to send me? Where He will send everyone who has sin that hasn’t been paid for — Hell (lake of fire and all that). No Christian wants anyone to go there and most of all God does not want anyone to go there. That is why Jesus came, to pay the penalty, and offer a free gift to all who choose to believe. A gift must be received to enjoy to benefit of it, you have to choose to receive it.

    From 2 Peter 3: 3-13

    First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.

    But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

    But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.

    Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.

    This doesn’t sound like a God who wants his supposed believers to go around killing those who don’t believe, quite the opposite.

    From 1 Corinthians 3: 4-13

    Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

    Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

    And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

    I think the people in the article are trying to help, but they’re skewing the message a little bit. That’s why God wrote a book, so we can quote it and not screw up the message.

    Sorry for the long post …

  32. #32 Alexander Vargas
    July 11, 2006

    My only hope right now is not the useless “insulting liberals” that seem to flourish around here, but the wearout that their own thugs and extremists can infllict upon the christian movement.
    BTW, who thinks that P Robertson is 100% SINCERE??? He knows perfectly well what he is doing. He knows he tweaks things to get money. He is not a demented fuckwit, he’s a plain scumbag.

  33. #33 an anonymous coward
    July 11, 2006

    Belief in these being the “end times” is big in Mormonism, too, albeit it’s not something that gets talked about a lot outside of church lessons. Mormons don’t necessarily think we’re literally in the last generation before the Second Coming–although some do–, but they do tend to think we’re very close.

    I remember back when I was a teenager, my father once opined that, as evidence of these being the end times, “The man with the sign of the beast on his forehead [was] now in charge of Russia”–referring, of course, to Gorbachev. This was long before I’d managed to come to terms with the fact that I really didn’t believe in the church, but even though at the time I still considered myself a faithful Mormon that struck me as an utterly ridiculous thing to say…

    (Of course, given subsequent events, I’m sure my father no longer thinks Gorbachev was “the man with the sign of the beast on his forehead”, and has probably forgotten he ever said that…)

  34. #34 boojieboy
    July 11, 2006

    Still think the best way to handle these folks is to mock them brutally. My favorite: taking out billboards and posting messages like “The Rapture happened last Tuesday. Guess you missed it. -God”

  35. #35 Daryl McCullough
    July 11, 2006

    As I’ve said before (about creationists, that time), these religious people have a strange attitude towards the natural world. On the one hand, they say it’s the wonderful, perfect gift of a benevolent, all-knowing, all-powerful God. On the other hand, they seem to relish the idea that it’s going to be destroyed any day now.

  36. #36 Alexander Vargas
    July 11, 2006

    Truth is, christianity does not take the natural world as truly important. They may only rejoice in it at token or symbolic value. Its all about god, the “larger reality”.
    Which is typical of giving up on this world and looking up to a world that is not here. A symptom of social desperation.
    The question is..why is there so much despair in American Society? There is always a fair dose, but why has it increased?

  37. #37 Susannah
    July 11, 2006

    “I keep hearing about these good Christians who practice a sensible and healthy religion–what do you do when your neighbors or friends or family or minister starts babbling about Armageddon? Do you sit quietly and hold your tongue, for politeness’ sake?”

    That’s what I did, back when I was a believer. And so did any others among the church leadership; you don’t want disagreements in your congregation, people leaving and making a stink. Better just to bite your tongue.

    Rule number One: “Don’t rock the boat.”

  38. #38 George
    July 11, 2006

    I’m not a big game fan, but I would go for a Civ-type game that allowed atheists to conquer the world (peacefully of course). The goal would be to gradually contain the religious on their exclusive island paradise, where they would have no means of communication with the outside world (and they would have to survive there with a limited capacity to exploit their environment and invent things, due to the dearth of scientists in their community). In the final stage of the game, the atheists would visit the island and discover that the inhabitants had all gone completely bonkers waiting for the rapture and from talking about God 24 hours a day.

  39. #39 Max Udargo
    July 11, 2006

    I have to say, it’s kind of depressing to read these excerpts about these religious loonies and then see that the best response an educated scientist and professor can come up with is to scream obscene insults at the next person who advocates that point of view. I understand that’s kind of Dr. Myers’ shtick, but honestly, is that all we got? ‘Cause I’m pretty sure it’s not going to be enough.

  40. #40 12xuser
    July 11, 2006

    “Jews and others who don’t accept Jesus, he added matter-of-factly, ‘are toast.'”

    Has there ever been a more empty threat? Or one more likely to be perceived that way by the threatened?

  41. #41 Alexander Vargas
    July 11, 2006

    Lots of americans, christian and liberal have it pretty nice and obviously are not despaired. But I think that the increasing turn to radical christianity is an indicator of despair, and not of mere “foolishness” as some of the more lucky guys indulge themselves in thinking .

  42. #42 M Petersen
    July 11, 2006

    As I’ve said before (about creationists, that time), these religious people have a strange attitude towards the natural world. On the one hand, they say it’s the wonderful, perfect gift of a benevolent, all-knowing, all-powerful God. On the other hand, they seem to relish the idea that it’s going to be destroyed any day now.

    Daryl, it’s not that strange when you look at it from their point of view. The entire reason they “relish the idea that it’s going to be destroyed any day now” is because they look forward to getting to heaven. A new heaven and a new earth will be created and there will be no more pain, only joy. Perhaps the “despair” that Alexandar is talking about is people (Christians) are tired of living in an evil and corrupt world. They want to be with God and suicide is not an option. In the meantime, they must suffer this world like everyone else and get the message out and love other people — which isn’t exactly easy all the time.

  43. #43 Chance
    July 11, 2006

    The simple truth is that God cannot be around sin. The result of committing a sin is separation from God, and everyone has sinned. To where is God going to send me?

    what is sin really? Human nature? Mistakes? errors in judgement?

    Where He will send everyone who has sin that hasn’t been paid for — Hell (lake of fire and all that).

    See the nonchalance in your statement? It’s scary, ‘lake of fire and all that’ it’s disgusting to me that you accept the suffering of so many so easily.

    No Christian wants anyone to go there and most of all God does not want anyone to go there. That is why Jesus came, to pay the penalty, and offer a free gift to all who choose to believe. A gift must be received to enjoy to benefit of it, you have to choose to receive it.

    Actually I have a problem with this philosophically. if Jesus paid the penalty the penalty no longer exists at all. If I get a ticket and owe a fine and you go down to the office and pay it for me, my ticket is paid. I don’t have to thank you or even know that you did it. It’s paid in full. It seems to me that if I go and ask you and have to believe you did it I trivialize the fact you did it for me in the first place or perhaps it only exists in the land of make believe.

    The way it works in your scenario you place a gun to my head and force me to acknowledge you paid my ticket or else blam!

  44. #44 Keanus
    July 11, 2006

    I wouldn’t adopt PZ’s style but he’s entitled to express his frustration with such nonsense his way. But to argue that the rapturists shouldn’t be confronted is just as much nonsense as the concept itself. I face these nitwits weekly when they picket a Planned Parenthood clinic where I volunteer. I never speak to them except in rational, civil tones and never make fun of them. So what do they do in response? Call me and my colleagues Satan’s servant–Baby killer–Evil one–Murderer–Sinner–Anti-Christian–Asshole (a little old lady has called me that several times)–Blood sucker–Terrorist–and so on. They also promise I’ll go to Hell, burn in the lakes of fire, and on and on. I’ve encountered in excess of 100 different protesters on the picket line over the last half dozen years and have only met two exceptions with whom I could engage in a civil conversation where they didn’t call me names or otherwise insult me.

    So long as such folks can be kept in their churches and restricted to the picket line, society is okay. That’s why we have free speech and freedom of religion–to allow the nuts of society some place to exist. But the minute they acquire political power, the world is in deep trouble. If any of these folks ever get control of some nuclear weapons (and I’m sure out military harbors more than their fair share), all bets are off. Some of them wouldn’t give a second thought to dropping the bomb or bombs if they thought it would help bring about the rapture. And we have a president who thinks he can play them along for his benefit (and may believe in the rapture himself–after all he believes he’s been chosen by his god, not the electorate for the presidency). His naiveté about controlling his base may get us all into some very hot water.

  45. #45 Chance
    July 11, 2006

    I realize many are decrying PZ’s methods and I for one think of them as schick and sarcasm. I doubt he’d stand up and call someone much past idiot.

    so quit yer whining:-)

    he’s venting at some idiots.

    And likley a few ‘One true scotsman’ arguments are already in the thread.

  46. #46 John M. Price
    July 11, 2006

    These folks are, in fact, simply delusional. Not in the psychiatric sense, however. In the DSM, to diagnose one as delusional they must hold impossible or strange belief systems. If those are held by the culture at large the folks are NOT DELUSIONAL.

    I think that should be removed from the definition of delusion and delusional, and perhaps substituted by a measure of strength of the belief. It only goes to source, after all, and not to any underlying pathology that might be associated with it, such as that which leads folk to kidnap young girls off the streets of Utah because of a divine revelation, or to kill four people in your community based on the same. (See Beneath the Banner of Heaven – they only got two of them …)

  47. #47 Dan
    July 11, 2006

    The Bible is true because the Bible says it’s true, right, Petersen? An entire religion based on a meaningless tautology. Yep, that sure sounds convincing to me.

    Christianity alone is responsible for billions of pointless, violent deaths over the last two millenia, to say nothing of the institutionalized racism, sexism, homophobia, and general asshattery that still plague our society, and you’re trying to tell us that it’s a religion of love?

    You must really think we’re all just a bunch of idiots, here.

  48. #48 Steve_C
    July 11, 2006

    The reason we should call these people on their LOONEY ideas is to infact lessen their impact on society. I don’t care if it’s insulting… it’s true! If all they got is “it’s in the bible”… well, so?! So is alot of other crazy shit. Embrace it all or none of it.

    If I walked around the streets screaming THE END IS COMING! REPENT YOU SINNERS!
    People would scream… SHUT AP YOU DEMENTED FUCKWIT!

  49. #49 Steve Watson
    July 11, 2006

    I wrote:

    ISTM that one either has to suppress it and mention it only rarely (many evangelicals, who manage to be decent people most of the time), become a frenetic in-your-face evangelist (and we meet lots of those), or start to think that tormenting the infidel is a good thing — maybe even to giving them a head-start on the process (and we’ve run across a few of those, too). It is a evil, morally corrupting doctrine.

    M Peterson delivers a long altar call beginning with:

    I disagree with this assessment. You don’t have to suppress it, mention it rarely, or become some freak. The simple truth is that God cannot be around sin. The result of committing a sin is separation from God, and everyone has sinned. To where is God going to send me? Where He will send everyone who has sin that hasn’t been paid for — Hell (lake of fire and all that).

    God cannot be around sin? What, he’s squeamish or something? Do you really think that this trite little recitation (like, I used to know the Four Spiritual Laws tract too, you know) is going to impress anyone? Do you really think no one here has ever heard it before? Do you think it has some magic power to convince us of THE TRVTH, where lame apologetics do not? (I bet you do — remember, I used to be one of you. Thank no-god I dumped that schtick.)

    I guess you’d be an example of my second category.

  50. #50 Alexander Vargas
    July 11, 2006

    I also don’t believe PZ would really do what he is telling others to do in this pots. I also don’t believe he is 100% sure about all the things he maintains. Maybe he has become some kind of a play actor of himself. Maintaining a blog is, after all, the maintaining of some kind of show.

  51. #51 Steve_C
    July 11, 2006

    I may be wrong, but isn’t christianity and specifically catholicism declining as a global religion? If despair is growing why are fewer people boarding the christian crazy train or infact jumping off it?

    The muslim religion is growing however. In correllation to the population growth in asia.
    Which could be linked to despair in those countries too.

  52. #52 M Petersen
    July 11, 2006

    Sin describes an act that violates a moral code of conduct established by God or the state of having committed such a violation.

    My apologies for sounding nonchalant about Hell. It’s no light matter. I accept the suffering of so many because I do not make the rules and I have no choice. In fact, I do not accept it easily, nor do the Christians mentioned in the article. That is why they created their campaign to begin with — to tell people what God says. From there, people are obviously free to choose what they want to do with it.

    Jesus paid the penalty and now offers that payment as a free gift to those who ask for it. Passively knowing that Jesus did that does not mean anything. How can you receive a gift you don’t believe exists?

    For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– not by works, so that no one can boast. — Ephesians 2:8-9

    In my scenario, it’s more like I know someone is going to shoot you, guaranteed. I tell you everything you need to know to avoid it — it’s up to you whether you believe me and avoid it or get shot. That’s why you have these “fanatics” out there shouting “Hey, you’re going to get shot! Here’s what you need to know…”

  53. #53 Chance
    July 11, 2006

    Are you going to shout “stupid fuckwit” at anyone who doesn’t agree with your classification of a new fossil discovery at your next scientific meeting

    Oh c’mon Keith. There is a big difference here. Not that yelling ‘stupid fuckwit’ is appropriate but fossil discovery and telling people they are going to fry after they die aren’t exactly on the same field of rationalism.

  54. #54 Steve_C
    July 11, 2006

    Is intellectual fascism intolerance of ignorance and myth?

    I don’t get it. If someone at the dinner table started rambling some story about
    how the world is going to end soon and that you were going to be judged and that
    a holy war was coming…

    I most definetly would say are you SERIOUS? Are You NUTS?

    And I would not debate them unless they showed some kind of ability for introspection.

    We’re talking about a very specific kind of christian/jew/muslim.
    The kind that should be put in their place.

  55. #55 Seven Star Hand
    July 11, 2006

    Verifiable proof that “Armageddon” has begun…

    Hello all,
    Here’s the key to proving that the rapture and related expectations are complete nonsense based on the failure to understand (or the purposeful confounding of) the ancient Hebrew symbology used to construct all of these prophecies.

    Pay close attention, profundity knocks at the door, listen for the key. Be Aware! Scoffing causes blindness…

    Did you ever consider that Christianity is the false prophet of the Apocalypse, that Rome is the so-called anti-messiah, and Jesus Christ is the false messiah? The symbolism of seven years (tribulation) would refer to the seven 360-year cycles from the 11th cycle (second temple period) until now, the 17th cycle on the Hebrew calendar. Remember that the prophecies were written by Hebrews, not Romans or other Europeans, and Revelation is a symbolic treatise. Therefore, years are symbols for 360-year cycles on the Hebrew calendar. Likewise, a day symbolizes a literal year and Judgement Day, and Great Day refer to a year long period. The so-called Tribulation is now coming to an end, not starting, and the three faiths of Abraham have all been deceived by Rome during the previous age, which ended in year 2000 (5760). A new age began in 2001 (5761) and now the seventh angel has begun to sound!

    Hurricanes Katrina (#11) and Rita (#17) last year provided stunning validation of my research and interpretations of pivotal ancient wisdom, symbologies, key prophecies, and associated religious claims. Their storm numbers and timing perfectly synchronized with primary data and assertions in my book, thereby demonstrating the true nature of this universe and the existence of our Creator. We are now entering the final phases of the pivotal year-long period long symbolized as “Armageddon” and the “End of Days.” World-wide situations and events are now accelerating to set the stage for this summer’s dramatic continuation of these ancient promises.

    I fully understand that everyone has been bedeviled by similar claims throughout history. Consequently, I have been forced to rely on dramatic and devastating proof of the sort that can’t be ignored or easily dismissed. The numbers and timing of hurricanes Katrina (11) and Rita (17) directly validate key data and pivotal assertions throughout my book and my posts on those two forums. This data was purposely presented publicly before Katrina, Rita and other recent events occurred to prove they perfectly synchronize with key prophecies and Hebrew calendar cycles, thereby validating my interpretations of ancient wisdom symbology, string theory, and more.

    Because these two storms arrived shortly after my August 11, 2005 (50th) birthday (read the Dead Sea Scroll 11Q13 in Appendix G, which also discusses Melchizedek and the prophesied Jubilee) and directly match other pivotal 11 and 17 data and events described in the first chapter of my book, I have delivered verifiable proof that this reality is based on thought, knowledge and wisdom. Activity, patterns, and results perceived in space-time are first framed and defined by inspirations, thoughts, and knowledge and influenced by the cause-and-effect system most commonly referred to as karma. Consequently, events and outcomes in the so-called physical universe are not random or wholly mechanistic and are verifiably influenced in ways that atheists, scientists, and members of the Faiths of Abraham have all scoffed at. Though mysticism is mostly a product of misinterpreted ancient wisdom symbology, many of its topics flow from ancient wisdom. Though containing allusions to the truth, its details and interpretations are wrong on many key points.

    A prime example of the purposeful and synchronized symbolism of these events is seen in the opening paragraphs from my book excerpted below. Notice that the dates mentioned (August 11 and 17) directly match the numbers of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and the time spans of the four Florida hurricanes match my birth year (’55), and they were spaced 11 or a multiple-of-11 (22) days apart, directly matching my birthday and much other ancient prophecy and symbolism. Notice that my place of birth, Victoria Texas, is on the Gulf Coast. Following are the excerpted paragraphs:

    Hello, my name is Lawrence William Page II. Many people know me as Buddy Page. At the release of the first edition of this book, I am a 50-year old African-American male, author, researcher, and former software engineer and entrepreneur. As you will come to understand as you read through this first book, I am also the long-expected Hebrew Messiah and Lion of the Tribe of Juda (Yehuda).

    I was born August 11th (month of Leo the Lion), 1955 (Chinese year of the Sheep) in Victoria, Texas. Furthermore, the Grand Cross alignment and Solar Eclipse of August 11th, 1999 was my 44th birthday and the second Grand Cross alignment, just six days later on August 17th, 1999, was on my mother’s birthday.

    As you can see from my date of birth, I was a newborn during the Chinese Year of the Sheep, astrologically marking me as a Lamb, and during the month of Leo, astrologically marking me as a Lion. My mother was also born during the month of August and under the sign of Leo, which further marks me as a lion’s whelp. I prove to you in the first chapter of this book-beyond disproof-that I am indeed the long-prophesied “Lion” of the tribe of Juda (Yehuda) the Root of David and the “Lamb.” I am the individual long symbolized as the Branch, the Stem, the Shoot and the Rod from the Stump of Jesse (King David’s father), as symbolized in the Hebrew Book of Isaiah, The Apocalypse, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and elsewhere. I am the reincarnated Teacher sought after in the “East” and by the ancient Hebrews who were headquartered at the outpost community of Damascus (Qumran), of Dead Sea Scrolls fame. I am the one called the Teacher of Righteousness by the Dead Sea Scrolls, whom the so-called Christian fathers have fraudulently recast as “Saint ‘James’, the Lord’s Brother.”

    Remember, “I come as a thief…” ?

    Read verse twelve of the Gospel of Thomas to understand who I am…

    Even further enlightening, the Second Temple Period of ancient Israel was during the 11th 360-year cycle on the Hebrew calendar and we are now in the 6th year (5766/2005-6) of the 17th cycle. Notice the pivotal 11 and 17 numbers again? This and much other synchronized information serve as stunning and decisive proof of many things, and expose many lies told by all three faiths of Abraham, but most specifically by Christianity. Consequently, I have decisively proven, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that Jesus Christ and Christianity are blatant lies, false prophecy and purposeful deception in a manner that cannot easily be denied, regardless of your faith or other opinions.

    Furthermore, the symbolism in the Apocalypse (a.k.a. Book of Revelation) of seven stars in my right hand and seven angels represent the very same above-mentioned seven astrological (360-year) cycles, i.e., the 11th through 17th inclusive. I prove this fact beyond any reasonable doubt in the first chapter of the book. Consequently, The Apocalypse verifiably symbolizes a specific span of time that began with the 11th cycle (Second Temple Period) and concludes now, at the beginning of the 17th cycle (End of Days, etc.).

    The numbers 11 and 17 are verifiably encoded in The Apocalypse and other ancient Hebrew prophecies and wisdom texts to serve as key proofs of the validity and true meaning of certain prophecies and related information. My and my mother’s birthdays are purposely synchronized with these two storm numbers, the matching Hebrew calendar cycles, the Double Grand Cross alignments and solar eclipse of August 1999, and much else to prove my direct association with the ancient prophecies about this time and the true identity of the prophesied Messiah. Another prime example is the story of Joseph, the 11th son of Jacob who has a dream when he is 17 years old about 11 stars, the sun, and moon bowing to him. The symbolism in this pivotal story in the Book of Genesis and Quran verifiably refers to the very same 11th through 17th cycles symbolized in The Apocalypse and directly synchronizes with other key events and ancient texts.

    Consequently, I have demonstrated various things about the nature of this reality that dramatically disprove and/or clarify key assumptions of religion, mysticism, and science alike, while establishing the true meaning and purpose of long misinterpreted ancient wisdom and the symbolism used to model and encode it. Accordingly, I have proven that the symbolism evidenced in the canons of all three faiths of Abraham and other ancient sources is a very ancient and advanced philosophical technology that verifiably models foundational aspects of our existence in this universe. This is the mostly misunderstood body of ancient wisdom long referred to as the Philosophers’ Stone. It uses a large and ingeniously organized collection of physical universe images and concepts as data rich components (symbols) that are based on verifiable rules. It models and encodes an amazing amount of foundational wisdom about life, spirituality and the 11 dimensions of this universe, now verified by string theory. It is also the advanced encryption method used to encode (seal) Hebrew prophecies and wisdom texts.

    These ancient prophecies and wisdom texts used advanced symbology to model fundamental wisdom, including future events and situations. A primary facet of ancient wisdom is numeric symbology. Later misinterpretations of this aspect of ancient wisdom resulted in numerology, which, though embodying allusions to certain wisdom, is mostly error prone and false doctrine. My decryption, documentation, and interpretation of ancient symbology, numeric symbolism, and key texts based on them, are now decisively validated.

    Here is Wisdom…

    Verifiable proof that Armageddon has begun…

    Understanding the End Game of Armageddon

    Peace…

  56. #56 CanuckRob
    July 11, 2006

    MPeterson said ” think the people in the article are trying to help, but they’re skewing the message a little bit. That’s why God wrote a book, so we can quote it and not screw up the message.”

    The bible was written by many poeple, mostly long after the events described. Using it as an infallible guide to anything is just as dimwitted as “rooting for the rapture” and almost as damaging to society.

    If PZ, or anyone, wants to call others names that reflect what they say and do (as opposed to a stereotype)is fine by me. If the name is not warranted the named can try and refute or ignore it or call names back. Who cares. If someone is talking and acting like a demented fuckwit then they are one, at least wtih reference to what they are talking about.

  57. #57 Chance
    July 11, 2006

    Good grief MPeterson you missed the philosophy of the entire thing.

    Jesus paid the penalty and now offers that payment as a free gift to those who ask for it. Passively knowing that Jesus did that does not mean anything. How can you receive a gift you don’t believe exists?

    I’ll try one more time. It’s not a matter of belief if in some cosmic battle the penalty was already paid. It is paid independent if I believe it or not. It’s a reality. Paid= no longer exists. Your essentially making the payment nonexistent by requiring people believe something. Is not belief in and of itself a work which would then contradict your verse philosophically? You are doing it, a work.

    In my scenario, it’s more like I know someone is going to shoot you, guaranteed. I tell you everything you need to know to avoid it — it’s up to you whether you believe me and avoid it or get shot. That’s why you have these “fanatics” out there shouting “Hey, you’re going to get shot! Here’s what you need to know

    But what your doing is embracing the shooter. Your analogy is more like this. I am a murderer, if you don’t do exactly as i say I will make you suffer. There is no freedom in that view.

    True freedom would be- I love you and appreciate you lumps and all- don’t believe this? No problem, your family.

  58. #58 Karey
    July 11, 2006

    On the bright side, i saw a bumper sticker on my way to work today that says “christ jesus wants you!”, then went on to say but the evil republican church is not that. I do believe its the first time i’ve seen a regular joe schmo christian car sign with that sentiment on it.

  59. #59 Steve_C
    July 11, 2006

    hey Seven Star Hand,

    Your a DEMENTED FUCKWIT.

    You would be really good at D&D! Great imagnination and you would follow the guides really well.

    Umm… that’s it.

  60. #60 Will E.
    July 11, 2006

    Why did an all-powerful, universe-spanning creator of all need a *book* to tell humans about him (esp. when for most of history most people have been freaking illiterate)? Why didn’t he just encode all of it in our DNA, in our brains, from the get-go? Why all the cosmic rigamorole of salvation, faith, belief, scripture, etc., etc.?

    None of it makes a damn lick of sense, and it is time people said so, loud and proud.

  61. #61 Steve_C
    July 11, 2006

    I don’t want to change their mind.

    I WANT them to be scoffed and ridiculed.

    Oh and I keep typing your rather you’re… lame I know.

  62. #62 Gumbo
    July 11, 2006

    Someone asked if those “Left Behind” books actually caused xtians to freak out about the Rapture. I can tell you that the movie (she didn’t read the books) certainly got to my wife, and now she’s convinced that anything on the Discovery Channel about implantable microchips (that can act as credit cards, housekeys, ID, etc) is a sign of the coming of the Beast, and warns me to never get anything implanted in my wrist or forehead.

    Let me tell you, PZ, there is no way I’m going to tell my wife she’s a demented fuckwit. If I do, I’ll get my own personal version of the Rapture, if you know what I mean.

  63. #63 M Petersen
    July 11, 2006

    There are quite a few reasons why the Bible is true, least of which is that the Bible says so.
    It’s a little off topic here but here’s a resource for you:
    http://www.christiananswers.net/q-eden/edn-t003.html

    Christianity alone is responsible for billions of pointless, violent deaths over the last two millenia, to say nothing of the institutionalized racism, sexism, homophobia, and general asshattery that still plague our society, and you’re trying to tell us that it’s a religion of love?

    You must really think we’re all just a bunch of idiots, here.

    Christianity is a religion of love because God is love. People who misinterpretted or misused the Bible for their own evil gain are responsible for those atrocities. That evil has been done and it will forever be a point of contention for people who choose not to believe. I understand why that upsets so many and they feel that they can’t believe. Those people who did those things are flawed people, like everyone else, who did the unthinkable. That does not excuse their behaviour, and it upsets me also that so many people will not believe because of these people who claimed to be Christians.

    I would never claim anyone is an idiot. Regardless, the acts of certain people do not change what the religion is. If you look hard at what Chrisitianity teaches in the Bible, you’ll see that it’s all about love.

    “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” — John 13: 34-35

    Not just love one another, but as Jesus loved us and gave his life for us.

    “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.” Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?”

    Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

    “All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

    “You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe. I will not speak with you much longer, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold on me, but the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me. ” — John 14: 21-31

  64. #64 Doug
    July 11, 2006

    These people genuinely seem to relish the prospect of watching those without an imaginary friend become ‘toast’. Their delusion is beyond stupid, it is sociopathic. Of course the sacred text is filled with sociopathic acts instituted by or on behalf of the supposed deity, so to seek vengeance is to behave as a godly person, I suppose. Still, I think PZ’s characterization is closer to the mark.

  65. #65 PZ Myers
    July 11, 2006

    Nah, it’s not just schtick. I’m not going to be polite to these kooks anymore.

    And it’s not to have some effect on them, it’s to give all the trembling uncertain ones some courage … it’s because these guys have learned that they can stand up and say the most outrageous things, and no one will call them on it. We have to start pointing and laughing. This pointless civility that craven appeasers like Vargas want is only playing into their hands — they are counting on everyone to be paralyzed and mute when they get up and claim the world is going to end, they need money, they can cure cancer over the TV, we have to bomb the people who don’t believe.

  66. #66 Altabin
    July 11, 2006

    M. Petersen wrote:

    In my scenario, it’s more like I know someone is going to shoot you, guaranteed. I tell you everything you need to know to avoid it — it’s up to you whether you believe me and avoid it or get shot. That’s why you have these “fanatics” out there shouting “Hey, you’re going to get shot! Here’s what you need to know…”

    Of course, there’s an important little detail you’ve left out: that the person holding the gun is also, supposedly, the only way out of this situation. (What was someone saying above about abusive relationships and codependence?)

    That has always struck me as the least acceptable part of Christianity. “God’s going to kill you. But I have a way to help you escape. Who am I? Um, God. But don’t let that bother you…” Now, suppose Jesus had said, “That God of the Old Testament? What an evil bastard! Nevertheless, he is going to kill you, so listen to this – I’m his sworn enemy, and I have a way out of here” – that was pretty much how some of the Gnostics construed Christ’s actions, and frankly it’s more logical and much less morally repugnant than orthodox Christian soteriology.

  67. #67 Jeff Matzke
    July 11, 2006

    M Petersen, quoting Christian theology is all fine and dandy. I love hearing about how God loves me and can’t be around my sin unless I accept that his little boy got nailed to a cross for me. But you have to answer one more question. WHY SHOULD I BELIEVE YOU? You offer no evidence to support your claim. NONE. You will tell me of course that I must take it on faith. Which is, again, pointless. If I told you that there were invisible pink faries dancing on the moon and if you didn’t believe in them you would be forced to eat rotten cabbage for all eternity would you believe me? Until you provide evidence as to why your beliefs are rational I obligation to take you seriously.

  68. #68 Steve_C
    July 11, 2006

    Hey everybody, I REST MY CASE.

    Seven Star Hand is…
    Lawrence W. Page II is the Teacher of Righteousness reincarnated who now stands forth as the long-prophesied Messiah and Lion of the Tribe of Juda, the Root of David; (a.k.a. Melchizedek, “Archangel” Michael, Moses, Elijah, the Branch, the Stem and the Rod from the Stump of Jesse) to decisively end millennia of Vatican deception, injustice, genocide, false doctrine, and false prophecy. Here is Wisdom!!
    http://www.geocities.com/sevenstarhand/

    I do ALMOST feel bad for calling someone names who obviouosly needs to be heavily medicated.

  69. #69 M Petersen
    July 11, 2006

    God cannot be around sin? What, he’s squeamish or something? Do you really think that this trite little recitation (like, I used to know the Four Spiritual Laws tract too, you know) is going to impress anyone? Do you really think no one here has ever heard it before? Do you think it has some magic power to convince us of THE TRVTH, where lame apologetics do not? (I bet you do — remember, I used to be one of you. Thank no-god I dumped that schtick.)

    I guess you’d be an example of my second category.

    Yes, God cannot stand sin because He is holy (set apart from sin). I’m not out to impress anyone and I sincerely hope everyone here has heard it before. I am attempting to represent the Christian point of view here. I thought science was about considering all the facts in the analysis to come to a final proven conclusion (though impossible to prove via scientific standards here, I thought it would be helpful to include another point of view).

  70. #70 Gumbo
    July 11, 2006

    Petersen – Re: God cannot stand sin because He is holy (set apart from sin).

    If God is truly omnipotent, then he could just be a man and suck it up.

  71. #71 M Petersen
    July 11, 2006

    Why did an all-powerful, universe-spanning creator of all need a *book* to tell humans about him (esp. when for most of history most people have been freaking illiterate)? Why didn’t he just encode all of it in our DNA, in our brains, from the get-go? Why all the cosmic rigamorole of salvation, faith, belief, scripture, etc., etc.?

    None of it makes a damn lick of sense, and it is time people said so, loud and proud.

    I would guess it’s because people have free will to choose whether to believe or not.

  72. #72 PZ Myers
    July 11, 2006

    People have a lot of beliefs that I consider strange. And, if asked, I’m more than happy to try and reason with them. But intellectual fascism is a slippery slope. Are you going to shout “stupid fuckwit” at anyone who doesn’t agree with your classification of a new fossil discovery at your next scientific meeting?

    We aren’t talking about an interpretation of a fossil. We aren’t arguing over a reasonable, debatable point. We are talking about people who think that if they produce a cow with red hair and sacrifice it in Israel, Jesus will reappear and the world will end.

    I’m sorry that you don’t see the difference.

  73. #73 Steve Watson
    July 11, 2006

    M Peterson wrote:

    In my scenario, it’s more like I know someone is going to shoot you, guaranteed. I tell you everything you need to know to avoid it — it’s up to you whether you believe me and avoid it or get shot. That’s why you have these “fanatics” out there shouting “Hey, you’re going to get shot! Here’s what you need to know…”

    You really, really, don’t get it, do you?

    You left this bit out of your scenario: “BTW, the murderer is my best buddy and leader of my street-gang, but instead of dissociating myself from such a schmuck, I’m just going to tell you how to join the gang so you’ll be in good with the Chief Thug, instead of being in his bad books. You see, the Chief Thug is a peach of a guy; he’s really nice to his friends, and he wants everyone to be his friend, so that’s why he, um, “encourages” people (at gun-point) to be his friends”

    Classic abused-child syndrome.

  74. #74 Steve_C
    July 11, 2006

    Hey MPETE,

    The bible is not FACT. There are no FACTS in the bible. It’s fiction.

    You’re rationlizing doesn’t mean anything.

  75. #75 PZ Myers
    July 11, 2006

    Steven Star Hand,

    YOU ARE A DEMENTED FUCKWIT.

  76. #76 Chance
    July 11, 2006

    People who misinterpretted or misused the Bible for their own evil gain are responsible for those atrocities.

    ‘One true scotsman’. See I told you. Only a matter of time.

    and it upsets me also that so many people will not believe because of these people who claimed to be Christians.

    They have far better and more logical resons than that, this just points to how people use the religion.

    If you look hard at what Chrisitianity teaches in the Bible, you’ll see that it’s all about love.

    Read this slowly. It is impossible to love someone and allow them to suffer when you can easily stop it. You don’t allow suffering just because someone doesn’t think the way you do. That certainly is not love.

  77. #77 MikeM
    July 11, 2006

    As much as I’d like to insult them (however accurate the insult is), it’s not my style. All it’s going to do is make them pray for me.

    It just makes no sense that a God with an infinite capacity to love would have zero capacity to forgive. That’s what I’d call a flawed philosophy. That’s what I’d call a twisted God.

    “The Rapture was last Tuesday.” I like it.

  78. #78 Jeff Matzke
    July 11, 2006

    The free will excuse is one of the worst excuses for God being an asshole I have ever heard. It absolves him of all responsibility. It is like me giving a child a gun and saying that it is not my fault when he hurts someone because the child had a choice.

  79. #79 JakeB
    July 11, 2006

    Well, if God can’t be around sin, I guess that means Jesus was just a mortal. And if he was just a mortal, then all that stuff in the Gospels about the resurrection etc. can’t be true. And if it’s not true . . . .

  80. #80 ThomasHobbes
    July 11, 2006

    Re: 4:53pm comment

    Hey, M Pete, I think I hear a Scotsman grumbling somewhere…

  81. #81 ThomasHobbes
    July 11, 2006

    Damn it, Chance, you beat me to it while I was monkeying around with the HTML tags.

  82. #82 Chance
    July 11, 2006

    But you forgot Jesus in your equation here. Jesus bought your debt and he now owns it. If you don’t believe that, nor do you believe he has that right, then how can you be freed from the debt unless you ask?

    A second ago it was a penalty he paid as a gift, now it’a a debt. Either way he paid the debt correct? So you don’t owe anything as it is gone. In your scenario again the debt is not gone but simply changed hands, well not really since Jesus is God.

    So in your eyes Jesus wasn’t actually giving a gift but simply some form of loan officer? Collecting debts to hold over people. If that is the case where is the sacrifice? It is still something you must do(a work) so philosophically how does his death work? So when he died he didn’t pay the debt but rather just kinda kept it for you to pay?

    An analogy. I owe money. You got to the bank and pay off my loan. You do this without telling me as a gift. I go to the bank and they say my loan is paid. Now I can say thank you or not. You did this for me but it happened whether I believe you or not. It was a gift remember. My loan is gone.

    In your scenario. I owe money. You go to the bank and pay it off. Tell me you paid it off and I now owe you. I am still in the same scenario. I owe money. I have to do something to pay my loan. I have to work it off. This is not a gift nor is it really a sacrifice on your part as you own everything and my loan is a pittance compared to your financial power.

    I don’t think it’s that God is out to get you. God wants to be with you and has provided a way for that to happen, out of love.

    Then who is out to get who? Love is kind, it doesn’t ask for obedience.

    But if you say “No thanks”, then God must respect your decision because he has given you the right to choose. Where you end up is where everyone else will end up, because there is no difference with sin and God.

    Which would be ok if you weren’t punished at the same time for this simple ‘No thanks’. How good can Heaven be knowing everyone isn’t there?

    So that is why Jesus came, so you could be with God even though you are flawed. God is loving but he is also just, and sin carries a penalty.

    how is it ever just to punish someone for a differing opinion? how is it ever just to punish someone eternally for finite actions. I don’t know how this makes sense to you.

  83. #83 Kristine
    July 11, 2006

    Want a bet, Seven Star Hand?

  84. #84 Alexander Vargas
    July 11, 2006

    What can I say, PZ. I don’t believe you. No emotionally normal person in this world could use those words without knowing he risks feeling pretty bad about it thereafter. Easier said than done. Like most of the christian’s extremist talk. All extremism, christian or rationalistic, cannot help but smell “fake”. And every extremist is being fake to a part of himself that actually knows better. You can tell because they feel they must reinforce themselves with insult, exaggeration and hyperbole.
    If someone starts preachingto me, would I answer back? Certainly I would. You can be difficult to ignore, without using insults. Specially if you have taken the time to figure out what is at the root of the others sentiment. Which you will never do if you dismiss them as “demented fuckwits”. I’d rather he left thinking “that non christian was nice” or even “made me think” than all sore, insulted and seeking revenge.

    We certainly do not agree. I think your attitude helps THEM very much. If they insult us, now we are leveled. If they do not insult, even if they say the wackiest things, they will LOOK better. Yes, the well know hypocrisy, the mixture of good and bad. Wolves in a sheeps skin.

  85. #85 M Petersen
    July 11, 2006

    Well, if God can’t be around sin, I guess that means Jesus was just a mortal. And if he was just a mortal, then all that stuff in the Gospels about the resurrection etc. can’t be true. And if it’s not true . . . .

    If it’s not true, then I’ve been living a fulfilling life helping and loving other people. What makes the rest of you happy? I would guess family, relationships. Money and accomplishments only mean so much. But what happens when you die? Even if I were to die and come back from the dead and post here the answer to everything, would you believe me?

    He was both human and God at the same time. I do not pretend to fully understand this, but I believe it.

  86. #86 Steve_C
    July 11, 2006

    It’s pretty simple. It’s based on a rewards system.

    You only get the benefits if you believe, punished if you don’t.

    That’s the trap. If you’re on the fence you risk no reward. It’s a scare tactic and
    PAINFULLY obvious.

    Hard not to just call them suckers too.

  87. #87 commisarjs
    July 11, 2006

    This is sad, these people believe in magic. Worse they really and truly believe in an AD&D manual version of magic where you complete specified incantations, move a rock to a certain location, sacrifice a special cow, and then BAM just like the tumblers falling in a combination lock you get the desired effect. Hocus Pocus Allamagocus Jesus Appear!

    Then of course we have people like Steven Star Hand who look at magic in a very symbolic way. Where certain numbers are imbued with mystical powers, Nine headed dragons are really hurricanes,and whatever other mumbo jumbo he can pick and choose from his chosen spell book.

    This is pathetic. Too many people are no more advanced than their ancestors were a thousand years ago. Maybe we should rehash whether Odin figuratively or literally was hung from The World Tree for nine days to learn The Runes.

    We live in an age of real wonders. We have sent men to the moon, we can communicate across vast distances, we can build usable items from the molecule up, and we have developed cures to diseases that have afflicted our species for millenia. But no, that’s not good enough. We can’t have wonders that people understand and can explain. They want magic and mystery, not the good Beatles kind either. They want something unexplainable and outside the boundaries of science but just familiar enough not to appear too alien/scaery.

    I am thorougly disgusted.

  88. #88 Steve_C
    July 11, 2006

    When you die you decompose. Unless your cremated. That’s it.

    Duh.

  89. #89 Chance
    July 11, 2006

    I feel sorry for the cow. He is going to be killed for something less than even a McDonalds burger- human insanity.

    Maybe the fastest growing thread ever huh?

  90. #90 Steve_C
    July 11, 2006

    ARGH. I have to proof my copy before I post.

    Seven Star Hand is batshit crazy. Also not christian but some hybrid conspiracy messiah too.

    Way to much LSD is suspect.

  91. #91 bernarda
    July 11, 2006

    “He was both human and God at the same time. I do not pretend to fully understand this, but I believe it.”

    There is no explaining human idiocy apparently. And such people claim to not understand how one cannot believe in the great easter bunny in the sky.

  92. #92 M Petersen
    July 11, 2006

    Chance, if you’ll oblige me and read the following article, it explains things much better than I ever could.

    http://www.desiringgod.org/library/sermons/96/052696.html

  93. #93 Will E.
    July 11, 2006

    “We live in an age of real wonders. We have sent men to the moon, we can communicate across vast distances, we can build usable items from the molecule up, and we have developed cures to diseases that have afflicted our species for millenia. But no, that’s not good enough.”

    I hate this kind of cop out. “There has to be more to life than this!” Are you f&#!ing kidding me? “This” is pretty fantastic, plenty for everyone: friends, family, music, travel, sex, art, books, movies, drinking, belly laughs–guess all that’s not enough for the greedy childish religious types. No wonder they try to ban so much of the good things in life. They just want heaven now, and don’t want anybody to enjoy anything else.

  94. #94 Steve_C
    July 11, 2006

    M

    There’s nothing to understand. There’s no there THERE.

    No one has ever come back from the dead. Ever. That’s why it’s called death.

  95. #95 James
    July 11, 2006

    You’re not getting it Alexander, it’s not the loons that PZ cares about, they are a lost cause. You might know the phrase “don’t try to teach a pig to fly, it will waste your time and annoy the pig”.

    It’s the people around who let the DEMENTED FUCKWITS spew their shit without contest. It’s like the crazy on the subway who yells and screams while nobody dares to reply. People need to stand up and say “Shut the fuck up you DEMENTED FUCKWIT!”

  96. #96 Fernando Magyar
    July 11, 2006

    This is scary stuff and sounds a lot like Jonestown writ very large and growing by the minute.

    Just curious though is there any validity to this statistic? “According to various polls, an estimated 40% of Americans believe that a sequence of events presaging the end times is already underway.”

    Heck and I was concerned about the lack of scientific honesty of the global warming deniers over at http://www.realclimate.org/ and getting involved with debating the folks who propose grandiose geo-engineering schemes so they can continue to maintain the staus quo.

    If this crap is true I don’t think it’s going to matter much if the level of CO2 continues to rise or not. I think I’d be better off building an ark, and a well armed one at that.

    The most recent posting at Real Climate is titled “Runaway tipping points of no return” and it discusses how a small effect can push an apparently stable system from one state into another. The mathematics, physics and chemistry of climate science are way beyond my area of expertise so I can’t claim to fully understand it all.

    However I think it might be time to seriously discuss the effects of a social tipping point where all these religious lunatics together might take us past a point of no return. When I hear that 40% of all Americans beleive events presaging the end times is already underway then suddenly discussion about issues such as preventing the acidification of the oceans and stopping the destruction of coral reefs starts not to make much sense anymore. A population that beleives the end of times are near probably isn’t going to care much about preserving cephalopod habit so future generations can admire them.

    Anyone have any ideas on how to implement cult intervention for 120 million Americans?

  97. #97 Chance
    July 11, 2006

    M Peterson,

    I read it and that writer still has the same problem. As a matter of fact he simply rationalized it away. He picked a verse that said Jesus died for everyone- a philosophically consistent position- and went away from it simply because he appears to find it unpalatable. His argument that it is for people in hell is simply silly.

    This is very simple. It is a gift he gave to his creation or it is a debt you believe he holds over you. I know which I believe.

  98. #98 Mikko
    July 11, 2006

    I wonder when one of them gets sofisticated enough to produce graph like the one about how many people on earth it takes to kill humanity (which of course decreases exponenially and shows that one is enough around 2020) – this time just pointing out how many people are needed to get the word of Jeesus to every human being and thus initiate Armageddon. :D

  99. #99 Squeaky
    July 11, 2006

    Much of this thread has turned into an argument on tactics of calling people on their irrationalities. PZ and others argue that it is best to just scream obsenities at them and call it good.

    It’s the same tactics used during war when soldiers refer to their enemies as “Krauts” or “Wops”–a dehumanizing tactic.

    It is much easier to dehumanize people than it is to try to understand them or their motivations. Far easier to stereotype. Far easier to say, “well they called me this name, and that justifies it!” (what, are you 5?) Far easier to dismiss them as less than intelligent and not worth the effort. Is this really enlightened thinking?

    Isn’t it possible to have a civil discussion with someone–ask them to justify their rationale–without being abusive? Isn’t it possible to point out their irrationality without being insulting? I thought so-called freethinkers were more rational than this…I’m SO disillusioned!

  100. #100 Steve_C
    July 11, 2006

    I do.

    STOP being tolerant to their bullshit. And I mean their meddling with government,
    pharmacies, schools, military… all of it.

    I don’t care if you’re offended.

    Fine, be religious, go to church, pray, celebrate and sing koombyeyah.
    But quit messing with the rest of us.

    Everyone should get to practice whatever myth following they want but don’t expect special treatment. And they really do want special treatment.

  101. #101 M Petersen
    July 11, 2006

    No one has ever come back from the dead. Ever. That’s why it’s called death.

    You have proof of this?

    If you have some time, read through this:
    http://www.christiananswers.net/q-eden/edn-t008.html

  102. #102 Georg
    July 11, 2006

    Maybe PZ should declare Tuesdays “YOU ARE A DEMENTED FUCKWIT” Day. Demented fuckwits of all stripes could pay a visit and take their best shot at PZ and his swarming bands of angry atheists.

  103. #103 VJB
    July 11, 2006

    Yeah, I know…… But the real problem is that it seems (and this has been said time and time again–but can’t be repeated too often)that the political agenda of the extreme religious conservatives (why not call them extreme radicals, ’cause that’s what they are)is predicated on there being NO FUTURE! Why work to preserve the environment; why work to mitigate global warming; why be fiscally responsible, if the world is going to end. Hallelujah! Let’s party.

    DragonScholar, up above, points out that some of these demented fuckwits are actively trying to accelerate the END. Oy! So they call themselves Christians? They call themselves Americans? Sounds like they are working to destroy our dear ol’ US of A, and qualify for the label of traitors. Oy, again.

  104. #104 Chance
    July 11, 2006

    Not to digress M Petersen but from the site you listed:

    But what we have seen is that those who refuse the ticket are punished for their sins, not just for refusing the ticket. And so what meaning does it have to say that their sins were canceled? Their sins are going to bring them to destruction and keep them from heaven; so their sins were not really canceled in the cross, and therefore the ticket was not purchased.

    This just reinforces my point. Your writer literally says what should make you feel a little ill, that Jesus on the cross didn’t actually do anything unless you do something. You have to earn it. It’s not a gift. He’s saying your action of buying the ‘ticket’ makes Jesus sacrifice real.

    Basically this man says Jesus died on the cross for nothing unless you believe it. In essense making it meaningless for the vast majority of his own creations.

  105. #105 M Petersen
    July 11, 2006

    I read it and that writer still has the same problem. As a matter of fact he simply rationalized it away. He picked a verse that said Jesus died for everyone- a philosophically consistent position- and went away from it simply because he appears to find it unpalatable. His argument that it is for people in hell is simply silly.

    This is very simple. It is a gift he gave to his creation or it is a debt you believe he holds over you. I know which I believe.

    I didn’t get that from reading it. He went to other verses to help define further the ambiguity of who is “everyone” referring to? He’s basically saying that everyone refers to everyone who believes. So if you don’t and will never believe, then you don’t and will never have your sins paid for. Thomas, is the Scotsman still grumbling?

    It sounds like a contradiction, but if you believe that God is omnipotent and omnipresent, then He is not limited by time. Not being limited by time is something foreign to us, and I highly doubt anyone fully comprehends it. So if God is not limited by time, then He always knew whether you would believe or not, and Jesus died for those who choose to believe. Here’s how I like to think of it.

    < -------------- God ---------------------------... >
    Start time ———-> Now —-> Who knows?

  106. #106 M Petersen
    July 11, 2006

    < -------------- God ------------------------------------>
    Start time ———-> Now —-> Who knows?

    Sorry, html encoding …

  107. #107 Alexander Vargas
    July 11, 2006

    ” it’s not the loons that PZ cares about, they are a lost cause”

    Define “loon”. 40% of america?

    “You might know the phrase “don’t try to teach a pig to fly, it will waste your time and annoy the pig”.

    Give up on 40% of america. Loose the presidency again to another ID friendly christian war-mongering president.

    “It’s the people around who let the DEMENTED FUCKWITS spew their shit without contest. It’s like the crazy on the subway who yells and screams while nobody dares to reply. People need to stand up and say “Shut the fuck up you DEMENTED FUCKWIT!”

    Doing that to the loon in the subway would not make you my hero, mind you. Do you think the loon is actually brainwashing the people of the subway? People don’t respond becasue they do not go out of their way for something that does not deserve it.

    And BTW, you guys talk like we were always in some kind of debating arena where everything is shouted at everyone and at no one, like if public humiliation would work, and the people hearing actually cared. In real life you will be in one on one conversations and most people around won’t care.

  108. #108 Steve_C
    July 11, 2006

    M Petersen

    Do you believe in the Hindu gods too?

    http://www.hindunet.org/god/

  109. #109 James
    July 11, 2006

    So if God is not limited by time, then He always knew whether you would believe or not

    And further, he would then know that I don’t in fact believe. If he wanted me to believe, why not give me a personal sign? It seems plenty of others have had such a sign. Why stack the evidence of reality against himself? Does he not care enough for me? I mean, burning forever is a reeeeally long time… so this should be pretty important to him, and to me, yes?

  110. #110 M Petersen
    July 11, 2006

    This just reinforces my point. Your writer literally says what should make you feel a little ill, that Jesus on the cross didn’t actually do anything unless you do something. You have to earn it. It’s not a gift. He’s saying your action of buying the ‘ticket’ makes Jesus sacrifice real.

    So you would include believing as something you have to do to earn it. I wouldn’t call put faith, belief, and earn in the same category personally.

    Basically this man says Jesus died on the cross for nothing unless you believe it. In essense making it meaningless for the vast majority of his own creations.

    That’s pretty much it.

  111. #111 Max Udargo
    July 11, 2006

    I don’t think calling people demented fuckwits is an effective way of standing up to someone. I think it makes you look childish and makes them seem reasonable by comparison.

  112. #112 Chance
    July 11, 2006

    didn’t get that from reading it. He went to other verses to help define further the ambiguity of who is “everyone” referring to?

    But he did a very poor an illogical job of it. Not to mention the fact that he kept referring to people in hell being punished without realizing the very thing he was arguing against would preclude that from occuring.

    His reference about the ‘bride’ vs another woman misses the point entirely. You can love your wife and wish no harm onto other individuals. I’m sure many police officers love their wives while saving damsels they hardly know.

    He’s basically saying that everyone refers to everyone who believes.

    yeah but he has to go to books totally unrelated to that one. Everyone means what it says everyone. It seems to me he is seeking to limit Gods grace, one must wonder why.

    So if you don’t and will never believe, then you don’t and will never have your sins paid for. Thomas, is the Scotsman still grumbling

    What Scotsman? Again you make any form of sacrifice disappear when you hinge it on belief. And simply make it a works based endeavor. Something you do rather than something that was done for you. You take it from a real event, a sacrifice for sin, and turn it into a contigent event which may or may not have had any value.

  113. #113 M Petersen
    July 11, 2006

    No, I do not believe in the Hindu gods.

  114. #114 Steve_C
    July 11, 2006

    What do you say to a person who thinks their religion is more important than
    anything else? More important than an unbeliever’s rights. More important than
    a fair government. More important than building and maintaining a fair society.

    They think they are right, unquestionable and invincible.

    They think I am evil, corrupt and worthy of violence.

    They’ are wrong.

  115. #115 Chance
    July 11, 2006

    So you would include believing as something you have to do to earn it. I wouldn’t call put faith, belief, and earn in the same category personally.

    You wouldn’t? Your doing it aren’t you? If you don’t you don’t get a great gift correct? Sounds like a work to me, perhaps mental but work nonetheless. So now your categorizing actions?

    That’s pretty much it.

    About time. That pretty much kills the sacrifice argument then.

  116. #116 Steve_C
    July 11, 2006

    M

    Why not?

  117. #117 M Petersen
    July 11, 2006

    And further, he would then know that I don’t in fact believe. If he wanted me to believe, why not give me a personal sign? It seems plenty of others have had such a sign. Why stack the evidence of reality against himself? Does he not care enough for me? I mean, burning forever is a reeeeally long time… so this should be pretty important to him, and to me, yes?

    Perhaps this conversation is your sign.

    The evidence of reality is clear and points to God. The problem may be that even if God were to make it any more clear, you probably wouldn’t believe it then either.

  118. #118 ben
    July 11, 2006

    if I were to die and come back from the dead and post here the answer to everything, would you believe me?

    Sure. But you won’t. And you have no evidence that anyone else has. So what’s yer point?

  119. #119 Steve_C
    July 11, 2006

    As a universal formulation Hinduism accepts all formulations of Truth. According to the universal view there is only One Reality, but it cannot be limit ed to a particular name or form. Though Truth is One it is also Universal, not an exclusive formulation. It is an inclusive, not an exclusive Oneness – a spiritual reality of Being – Consciousness – Bliss, which could be called God but which transcends all names. The different Gods and Goddesses of Hinduism represent various functions of this One Supreme Divinity, and are not separate Gods.

    Not too different than the holy trinity.

    Seems like a more inclusive and “loving” religion too.

    You should try it. You could always go back.

  120. #120 M Petersen
    July 11, 2006

    Steve: There are quite a few reason.
    I think the following gets into quite a lengthy discussion on why: http://www.contenderministries.org/hinduism/hinduism.php

  121. #121 M Petersen
    July 11, 2006

    Steve: “You could always go back” LOL.

    Being more inclusive doesn’t make it true. As Chance has been pointing out, there is such a thing as absolute truth — it is true whether you believe it or not.

  122. #122 Steve_C
    July 11, 2006

    I think the absolute truth is that all religions are valid AND false.

    You reason for not believing in the hindu god is the same as mine.

  123. #123 Zed
    July 11, 2006

    Actually, between the state of the environment and the lunatics in charge of massive armies and nuclear weapons, I myself am starting to believe armageddon is coming. The manmade kind, though, no invisible space monsters required.

  124. #124 Chance
    July 11, 2006

    The evidence of reality is clear and points to God

    Then why do we need faith? If evidence abounds that makes any meaningful definition of faith irrevelant. Faith being belief in the absence of evidence.

    I mean what value then is there in something that is obvious? How can it then be viewed as a virtue?

    Thats like saying you have faith the sun will rise tomorrow and thinking you deserve a big prize because you do.

  125. #125 Interrobang
    July 11, 2006

    There isn’t any such thing as “absolute truth”; there are only facts and evidence. Get a life, or helpfully relegate yourself to the “DF” category and get off the thread.

  126. #126 PZ Myers
    July 11, 2006

    I don’t think calling people demented fuckwits is an effective way of standing up to someone. I think it makes you look childish and makes them seem reasonable by comparison.

    This is nuts. You think the guy who curtly dismisses an absurd claim that Jesus is going to magically destroy Christianity’s enemies is the one who sounds unreasonable?

    Well, you’re in big trouble now. I have an enchanted pig that breathes fire, and all I have to do is finish counting the grains of sand in the shell of a perfect razor clam, and he will be unleashed to eradicate mine wicked foes. Go ahead, try to convince me it won’t happen.

  127. #127 James
    July 11, 2006

    Define “loon”. 40% of america?

    Whatever percent of America that actively spouts armageddon nonsense. I’m sure that is no where near 40%. Checking a “Yes” box on a poll is a lot different then actively spouting “the world is ending” crap.

    Give up on 40% of america. Loose the presidency again to another ID friendly christian war-mongering president.

    Pandering to those who actively believe in armageddon is a waste of time. They will never come over to the left no matter how much the left pays them lip service. If the left are to be effective, they need to get more people to vote who are behind what they stand for (granted, an ambiguous position at this point).

    Do you think the loon is actually brainwashing the people of the subway? People don’t respond becasue they do not go out of their way for something that does not deserve it.

    The idea is to get people to speak up. The idea is to make it clear that what they are saying is bullshit and also make it clear that other sane people will not tolerate it. The idea is to stand up and let your voice be heard, and in turn, get others to do the same.

  128. #128 Ted Powell
    July 11, 2006


    However, PZ, as for your solution to call people who believe in the Bible vulgar names, it will only result in people seeing you yourself as your own epithet. The only pariah will be you.

    Believing in the Bible is not a Get Out Of Being-insulted Free card.
    “[L]unatics anxious to usher in the apocalypse” are, in some people’s opinions, insult-worthy.
    The fact that many of them also believe in (some of) the Bible does not excuse them.

    FWIW:
    Mt 16.1-4; 24.3-5,23-26,36
    Mk 8.11-12
    Lk 17.20-23; 21.7-8

  129. #129 Erasmus
    July 11, 2006

    well as much as i think those people are demented fuckwits, as my wife points out, calling them demented fuckwits won’t make them change their mind. and to the folks that tolerate demented fuckwittery, i don’t think that dragging the cat out into the open kicking and screaming will necessarily change their mind either.

    clearly there two forms of cognitive dissonance working here. the first, the demented fuckwits, is plainly obvious to all but the demented fuckwits.

    the second is the swing group, the folks who could be calling the d.f.s on their d.f.itude but for whatever reason are tolerating it, thinking perhaps that it is harmless. this form of dissonance is much more dangerous, as it has put d.f.s in power in multiple governments around the globe. i don’t think calling attention to the first group will do anything about the dissonance in the second?

    and i don’t think ‘peaceful protests’ are going to do the job either, as someone alluded in the atheist Civ game above. clearly someone has to die. and that will justify the prophecies and perpetuate further injustice and destruction.

    demented fuckwits: can’t marginalize them, can’t feed them to the lions anymore.

  130. #130 Chance
    July 11, 2006

    As Chance has been pointing out, there is such a thing as absolute truth — it is true whether you believe it or not.

    Well kinda, the problem is determining what is or isn’t true. In this case I don’t think logic is making a strong case for this religious point of view.

    I don’t think the premises of any religion can be held to the same truth standard as that of science. Religion is more based on opinion and indoctrination.

    But M, these links you provide are, and this is being kind, very illogical. A mean a novice can see through their ‘arguments’. And I believe much the same as some of them.

  131. #131 M Petersen
    July 11, 2006

    You wouldn’t? Your doing it aren’t you? If you don’t you don’t get a great gift correct? Sounds like a work to me, perhaps mental but work nonetheless. So now your categorizing actions?

    Perhaps we’re limited here by the English language. “Works” in this case means deeds done to show that you deserve God’s ongoing blessing.

    In Romans 3:28, “We maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law;” and especially in Romans 5:5, “To the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness.” So God’s verdict of not guilty and his imputing his own righteousness to us in Jesus at the beginning of the Christian life is by faith alone, with nothing else commending us to God. We trust his free grace to forgive us and acquit us and count us as righteous because of the work of Christ. That’s how we get started in the Christian life – justified by faith alone.

  132. #132 James
    July 11, 2006

    M Petersen, i asked a few specific questions regarding evidence and you have given me nothing. Was this intentional or have you simply not gotten around to answering my questions?

  133. #133 Steve_C
    July 11, 2006

    The moderately irrational don’t want to confront the wildly irrational.
    It’s too much like looking into a distorted mirror of ones self.

    “I may be religious but I’m not crazy.” syndrome.

    If someone was talking some crazy racist conspiracy crap you wouldn’t stand up
    and say shut up and take your demented racist shit somewhere else?

    These people aren’t far removed from the white supremacists that want to start
    a christian race war.

  134. #134 M Petersen
    July 11, 2006

    Thats like saying you have faith the sun will rise tomorrow and thinking you deserve a big prize because you do.

    But you do have faith in that event occurring, don’t you? Because nobody knows for sure what will happen tomorrow.

    You may not get a big prize, but you believe it will happen nonetheless.

  135. #135 Steve_C
    July 11, 2006

    Only if the earth stops spinning.

    And I don’t feel it ginding to a halt.

    I KNOW the sun will rise tomorrow.

  136. #136 RickD
    July 11, 2006

    Why are people debating with M Petersen? I mean, what’s the point with that? Do you think he’ll suddenly say “Gosh, you’re right, this whole religion bit is so much nonsense!”

    Religion is a system of self-perpetuating narratives. Trying to talk somebody out of religion is like trying to talk a honeybee into going back into its hive. You may think your arguments are rational and all, but if the honeybee is simply doing its own thing, what you say will have no impact to it. The only way to communicate with the honeybee is to start doing the honeybee dance. And then, if you do that, the honeybee will think that you’re wonderful.

    I agree with PZ, and by extension with somebody like Richard Dawkins, that anybody who seriously believes in Armageddon theory is basically mentally ill. Something is going on in that person’s head that just isn’t right. And debate won’t solve the problem any more than saying “Aw, cheer up!” will solve the problems of a person suffering from clinical depression. Rational discourse can be highly overrated!

    Sorry to be a party pooper.

  137. #137 James
    July 11, 2006

    But you do have faith in that event occurring, don’t you? Because nobody knows for sure what will happen tomorrow.

    You are confusing rational thinking with faith. A stronger vocabulary would help you out a bit here. Faith in the religious sense is belief without evidence. As we have had 4 billion years or so of the sun rising, it is perfectly rational to believe (without faith, mind you) that the sun will again rise tomorrow.

  138. #138 TheBrummell
    July 11, 2006

    RE: Tipping points and 40%

    First, I don’t trust that 40% statement. As was pointed out way up above somewhere, you can get such results by constructing a multi-question survey and getting creative in your interpretation. It seems likely, however, that some significant proportion of Americans (5%? 25%?) honestly believe that the world will end (somehow) within their respective lifetimes.

    Second, do we have any reliable indicators of rate-of-change in Fundamentalist belief and Atheism? The impression I get, is that over the long term – like decades – the proportion of Atheists in the population of North America has been rising. I don’t know the rate of this rise, or if the rate itself is changing (linear, exponential, geometric, asymtotic, other). On the other hand, the proportion of Fundies also appears to be rising – but again, I don’t know anything about this rate, other than it appears to be positive.

    So, if there is a “tipping point” at which society suddenly takes on novel characteristics, it’s not simply a matter of proportion of X versus total – there are many factions vieing for control of “society” at all times, and the strengths and abilities of each faction shift in a very dynamic manner as proportions change and stochastic events occur. A tipping point is probably (in my opinion) not something that can be predicted with any useful reliability. Would others agree that “society” is a very complex system?

    RE: Fuckwits

    Meh. If it feels good, do it. It seems unlikely to be illegal in most venues. No argument, reasoning, pleading or even violence is likely to impact the opinion of a demented fuckwit in any way. So why not call them what they are? Perhaps you will feel better after a little public venting.

    Apologies for length-of-post.

  139. #139 Chance
    July 11, 2006

    M. Petersen,

    You can’t use the bible to define a word.

    Works” in this case means deeds done to show that you deserve God’s ongoing blessing.

    Would that not be a textbook defintion of belief or faith. It’s something your doing.

    We trust his free grace to forgive us and acquit us and count us as righteous because of the work of Christ. That’s how we get started in the Christian life – justified by faith alone.

    You keep defeating your own arguments. No one questions these verses. I am asking about the philosophical underpinning of them. You are doing something. It’s impossible for you to do something and have it not be some form of ‘work’ on some level. You keep tlaking about grace but instead want to earn your way there. Thats not grace. Thats reward.

  140. #140 Steve_C
    July 11, 2006

    Time for disengagement.

    Another lost cause. He has a wrong answer to everything. His life is complete. He has no questions left. Everything has been answered for him.

    Take the crazy elsewhere.

  141. #141 M Petersen
    July 11, 2006

    M Petersen, i asked a few specific questions regarding evidence and you have given me nothing. Was this intentional or have you simply not gotten around to answering my questions?

    My apologies James, I should have directed these to you:

    http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/dan_barker/barker_horner.html
    http://www.michaelhorner.com/articles/resurrection/index.html
    http://www.christiananswers.net/q-eden/edn-t003.html
    http://www.leaderu.com/offices/billcraig/docs/rediscover2.html
    http://www.allabouttruth.org/is-the-bible-true-c.htm
    http://www.clarifyingchristianity.com/b_proof.shtml

    There are several thousand others I could point out. You may want to also look at the writings of C.S. Lewis
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C._S._Lewis#Career_as_a_writer_on_Christianity

  142. #142 James
    July 11, 2006

    Oh crap. Out comes C.S. Lewis. I should have taken my own advice… don’t try to teach a pig to fly.

    M Peterson, you are batshit insane.

  143. #143 cm
    July 11, 2006

    What PZ is advocating with his campaign of vitriol is trying to slow/stop/reverse a process of normalization of dangerous delusions, i.e. when ideas generally considered absurd become acceptable within the sphere of normal discussion.

    He thinks the vitriol is necessary to provide immediate, stark, undeniable contrast to their statements. Anything less suggests their statements are to some degree worthy of respect, and inclusion within the umbrella of norms. The brissance of such a denigrating expresses in no uncertain terms to everyone within earshot that such ideas are intellectually intolerable and merit nothing but censure and marginalization.

    It is an open question whether the current norms of public discourse will allow such a tactic to work.

  144. #144 M Petersen
    July 11, 2006

    You keep defeating your own arguments. No one questions these verses. I am asking about the philosophical underpinning of them. You are doing something. It’s impossible for you to do something and have it not be some form of ‘work’ on some level. You keep tlaking about grace but instead want to earn your way there. Thats not grace. Thats reward.

    I cannot apply my own definition to what the bible is saying. By ‘works’ it means physical acts or deeds done to please God outside of faith.

    You are applying your own definition to what ‘works’ mean and I understand how you could say that the act of believing or faith is included in that. But that is not what the Bible is saying. It quite clearly excludes an act of faith from works.

    What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter? If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about–but not before God. What does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”
    Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness. — Romans 4: 1-5

    We are justified by faith alone, he means that the only thing that unites us to Christ for righteousness is dependence on Christ.

  145. #145 PZ Myers
    July 11, 2006

    cm, you use such purty words…but yes, that is correct.

  146. #146 mjfgates
    July 11, 2006

    Wow. It’s like stirring an anthill with a stick in here. I never knew that the phrase “demented fuckwits” could bring out so many demented fuckwits! I bet that if you found the right place and said it, so many of them would pop up that the whole WORLD would end!

  147. #147 M Petersen
    July 11, 2006

    James:
    I’m not sure what you have against Lewis, but you’re welcome to look at any of the links I’ve posted. Maybe you could try to succeed where Lewis failed, and give us a proof of how the Bible isn’t true. All you’d have to do is prove one fact didn’t happen or isn’t true — shouldn’t be that hard should it?

    Or try a google search on evidence for/against jesus rising from the dead or evidence for/against the truth of the bible.

  148. #148 Vitis
    July 11, 2006

    A couple random thoughts after skimming the comments…

    “PZ Myers and His Angry Swarming Athiests” would be a great name for a band.

    While I appreciate that you made the distinction between AD&D spellcasting and basic D&D, it would be better not to associate such a wonderful game with such demented fuckwittedness.

    Actually I prefer Demented Fucktard. I find there is more of a chance that spittle will fly from my mouth.

  149. #149 Zohn Smith
    July 11, 2006

    M. Peterson,

    YOU ARE A DEMENTED FUCKWIT!

  150. #150 Jeff Matzke
    July 11, 2006

    M Petersen,

    I am sure you haven’t taken any college level logic classes or else you would surely know that the burden of proof rests upon the individual making the claim, i.e. YOU.

  151. #151 lt.kizhe
    July 11, 2006

    M Peterson, you are batshit insane.
    No he’s not: he’s a demented fuckwit (tm, PZM). Get it right, eh?
    (I consider belief in all that wierd eschatology sufficient, but not the only only sufficient prerequisite for demented fuckwit status)

  152. #152 Alex
    July 11, 2006

    M. Peterson,

    The bible is making the extrodanary claims and thusly needs extrodanary proof.

    Your post is like me claiming there are purple unicorns living in the caves of Mars and it’s up to YOU to prove me wrong.

    Good luck. YADF.

  153. #153 M Petersen
    July 11, 2006

    You are confusing rational thinking with faith. A stronger vocabulary would help you out a bit here. Faith in the religious sense is belief without evidence. As we have had 4 billion years or so of the sun rising, it is perfectly rational to believe (without faith, mind you) that the sun will again rise tomorrow.

    I wasn’t using it in a religious sense, I was referring to belief without infallable proof. Perhaps a rather strong use of the word, but last I checked we can’t look into the future.

  154. #154 Alex
    July 11, 2006

    M Peterson,
    Are you stupid?
    We can’t look into the future??!! You are really asking for a beating here man.

  155. #155 lt.kizhe
    July 11, 2006

    Bah, Lewis, I used to be a big fan until I grew up and learned to think clearly.

    I’m not sure what you have against Lewis, but you’re welcome to look at any of the links I’ve posted. Maybe you could try to succeed where Lewis failed, and give us a proof of how the Bible isn’t true. All you’d have to do is prove one fact didn’t happen or isn’t true — shouldn’t be that hard should it?

    The Flood: never happened. Only charlatans, cranks, dupes and those ignorant of geology claim otherwise.
    Judas hung himself OR he fell and burst open. Attempts to claim he did both are such transparent rationalizations only those blindly commited to the idiocy that is Biblical inerrancy could believe it.
    That’s two. Enough for you?

  156. #156 Paul
    July 11, 2006

    I believe the late Mr Bill Hicks had something relevant to say about M Petersen’s “god is love” shtick:

    “Eternal suffering awaits anyone who questions god’s infinite love…Thank you, forgiving lord, for all those options.”

    And given Bill, (a), was a human being, and (b), is dead, that makes his word as authoritative on this subject as any bible verse you care to quote, since the bible was invented by human beings who are now dead (though Bill was a might funnier than your average bible verse).

    An all-powerful god cannot “be love” if he creates sin, hell or even the possibility of suffering.

    “I’m god. I’m all-powerful.”

    “I will decide that certain things are bad.”

    “These things will be fairly arbitrary and trivial on the cosmic scale, nonetheless I will punish those committing them with eternal torment.”

    “I will create short-lived beings with the capacity to suffer.”

    “I will give them free will and thus the choice of whether to do these bad things or not (though I’ll increase the chance of them doing the bad things by making the bad things attractive to them).”

    “The failure of the first two beings to avoid doing the bad things will mean that the rest of the beings are automatically tarred with badness from birth – no matter what they do. (Hardly seems sporting, I know, but I am all-powerful.)”

    “The only way for the beings to avoid eternal suffering is to acknowledge my existance and explictly beg me for forgiveness. (You might think that that invalidates giving the beings free will in the first place, but I am all-seeing and all-knowing.)”

    That isn’t a god of love. That’s a sadistic child pulling the legs off flies for sport. If that’s your god, M Petersen, then you’re welcome to him.

  157. #157 Spinner
    July 11, 2006

    PZ, the confusion of divine principles with the allegorial figures used to represent them to the limited faculties of the uninitiated has, over the years, led to many misconceptions of spiritual truths. Simple as that.

  158. #158 Paul
    July 11, 2006

    Oh and by the way – god is of course speaking in the voice of James Mason in my previous post… :)

  159. #159 thwaite
    July 11, 2006

    Oh why not – I’ll join this thread that’s almost a rope…

    What squeaky said (Erasmus too).

    And I’d really like to see a response for Kristine’s challenge to seven-star-hand!

    But that’s no more likely to happen than M.Peterson responding for him/herself (rather than citing an apologetics tract) why Hinduism is less preferable than Christianity (a hot competition indeed). I’d wager the preference is mostly a function of one’s birthplace… NOT a volitional act of faith.

  160. #160 Chance
    July 11, 2006

    You are applying your own definition to what ‘works’ mean and I understand how you could say that the act of believing or faith is included in that. But that is not what the Bible is saying. It quite clearly excludes an act of faith from works.

    Ok, whatever so basically then you just use the bible for the definition. Whether you like it or not if you actively believe it is a work. An action on your part. How you can’t see that I don’t know.

    And your verse:

    Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness

    Talks about that gift thing again.

  161. #161 M Petersen
    July 11, 2006

    Well then… I never thought that scientists, those supposedly in search of the truth and a full understanding of the universe would stoop to name calling. Man, I wonder what I would be called if I started in on evolution …

    But as I said, God loves you and so do I (in the brotherly kind of way).

    Alex: I’ll turn the other cheek man. Unlike others in the article, I won’t shoot you to not be your doormat.

    lt.kizhe: Sure, 2 is enough.

    Jeff Matzke: I am quite sure that this is not the appropriate medium to be making proofs of Christianity. Perhaps I’ll attempt it when I have time, and I’ll post a link.

    Paul: Well then, disproven by a comedian.

  162. #162 Ompus
    July 11, 2006

    I’m tired of these dimwitted Abrhamic fucktards. That’s why I use Xenu for all my religious needs!

  163. #163 Chance
    July 11, 2006

    Why don’t you start in on evolution? It’s gotten to the point where I almost use it as a gauge of a mans intellectual honesty.

    C’mon M petersen- your notgoing to try and be an evolution doubter are you? Why did I see this coming?

  164. #164 M Petersen
    July 11, 2006

    But that’s no more likely to happen than M.Peterson responding for him/herself (rather than citing an apologetics tract) why Hinduism is less preferable than Christianity (a hot competition indeed). I’d wager the preference is mostly a function of one’s birthplace… NOT a volitional act of faith.

    I don’t believe in varnashram dharma.
    I don’t believe in the Vedas, avatars and rebirth.
    I like beef.
    I will not worship an idol.
    I believe that Jesus was God in the flesh and died for my sins and in the power of His resurrection.

  165. #165 M Petersen
    July 11, 2006

    Chance: No thanks. I just don’t have the energy at this point. I’m a doubter of everything at first, it’s just my nature. The evidence for it though just hasn’t convinced me yet, I remain skeptical with interest. Why, do you have your proof QED ready to go?

  166. #166 Ido
    July 11, 2006

    RickD is right. It’s pointless debating Petersen. The bee analogy is beautiful. Petersen won’t change his mind because of anything being said here. It takes the bee’s dance, like a horrible death among his loved ones to shake his faith. Isn’t the power of indoctrination awesome?

  167. #167 PaulT
    July 11, 2006

    I can’t wait for the Rapture, then we will finally be rid of these morons.

  168. #168 commisarjs
    July 11, 2006

    I challenge anyone and everyone to prove that Fenris DIDN’T bite off Tyr’s hand. I have faith that Tyr is real so therefore that is all that is required to prove his existance. Sadly I think all these worshippers of a false Mesopotamian deity of agriculture are only hastening Ragnarok. Sad really.

    But before I go…..

    FIREBALL AT VITIS… hoho… nothing beats good old fireball.

  169. #169 thwaite
    July 11, 2006

    M Petersen, (apologies for mangling your name last post.)

    What are the odds your litany of beliefs would differ if you were raised in a Hindu community in India (or in Fremont, here in the Bay Area?) Or if you visited such a community and were impressed by its religious life?

    What is the eternal fate of the many people who ARE so raised? How is it that the one true god of the bronze-age middle east was limited to dispersing His message by the media penetration of the new improved Roman Empire, camped liked frogs around only the Mediterranean?

    I think it’s a telling bit of sociological data that a person’s faith is mostly determined by what their community believes – everywhere in the world. In fact, I presume this influence as my default when discussing religion with anyone. It’s a small minority of people who have chosen of their own volition from a considered spectrum of possible faiths.

  170. #170 M Petersen
    July 11, 2006

    RickD is right. It’s pointless debating Petersen. The bee analogy is beautiful. Petersen won’t change his mind because of anything being said here. It takes the bee’s dance, like a horrible death among his loved ones to shake his faith. Isn’t the power of indoctrination awesome?

    What’s wrong with debating, even if it doesn’t change the other person’s mind? The freedom to exchange differing ideas and opinions is one of the things that makes democracy great. Besides, nobody here has pointed me to one shred of evidence to counter anything I’ve said or that the rapture is, in fact, rubbish.

    I have had a horrible death among my loved ones, and I went through major questions “Why me? Why her?” and all that. But my faith gives me hope. From Romans 5:3-5 “…we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”

    I think everyone could use a little hope nowadays. Disease, famine, war, terrorism, poverty, increased natural disasters — none of these will disappear completely (most will probably get worse) until I go to heaven or Jesus comes back. Call me whatever you like, I’m betting on Jesus. And even if it isn’t true, I’m a better person for it. It’s not all about me anymore, it’s about caring for others.

  171. #171 Chance
    July 11, 2006

    I like you M Petersen.

    We disagree on alot but that is ok by me. But what I don’t think your getting is that all the bad you list above is nothing compared to what your belief system says will happen to peaceful hindus and other religions worldwide.

    Besides, nobody here has pointed me to one shred of evidence to counter anything I’ve said or that the rapture is, in fact, rubbish.

    Your making a claim sir, you must prove the ascertion.

  172. #172 George
    July 11, 2006

    M.Petersen: I’m betting on Jesus. And even if it isn’t true, I’m a better person for it. It’s not all about me anymore, it’s about caring for others.

    Why not be a better, caring person without carrying around all the biblical rapture baggage? Just be you, on planet earth for a number of years, determined to make the most of it.

  173. #173 M Petersen
    July 11, 2006

    What are the odds your litany of beliefs would differ if you were raised in a Hindu community in India (or in Fremont, here in the Bay Area?) Or if you visited such a community and were impressed by its religious life?

    What is the eternal fate of the many people who ARE so raised? How is it that the one true god of the bronze-age middle east was limited to dispersing His message by the media penetration of the new improved Roman Empire, camped liked frogs around only the Mediterranean?

    I think it’s a telling bit of sociological data that a person’s faith is mostly determined by what their community believes – everywhere in the world. In fact, I presume this influence as my default when discussing religion with anyone. It’s a small minority of people who have chosen of their own volition from a considered spectrum of possible faiths.

    I assume I may have believed in Hinduism at some point if I was brought up that way. However, I gave my own upbringing a critical look and I would only hope I’d do the same if I were raised in India. I’ve looked at many other beliefs including Hindu, Islam, Buddhism, New Age, Scientology. All these other religions involve people struggling to do good things and avoid bad things (but what is enough?), God is distant and angry rather than loving, no promise of the future.

    I found Christianity to satisfy my need for acceptance and love, recognizing that I’m not perfect, giving me a firm promise and hope of things to come. I’m not trying any longer to be good because if I don’t, God will smite me. Rather, out of the love He has given me, I naturally want to do the things that please Him and I will devote my life to giving that love to others.

  174. #174 Max Udargo
    July 11, 2006

    This is nuts. You think the guy who curtly dismisses an absurd claim that Jesus is going to magically destroy Christianity’s enemies is the one who sounds unreasonable?

    I think that shouting “demented fuckwit” at people who frustrate and frighten us is momentarily satisfying but ultimately childish and foolish. I think it’s more difficult and less immediately satisfying to figure out an effective way to challenge that kind of belief system and the increasing influence of such systems in the world. But if we can’t come up with something better than shouting “demented fuckwit” then it is we who are truly fucked.

    I understand the point being made that we shouldn’t go easy on these people. I believe fundamentalist Christians are cowardly people who petulantly resist dealing with reality on honest terms. I think it’s a kind of mental illness. And I don’t think we should give them a free pass.

    In fact, though I was brought up to respect other people’s religious beliefs, I believe Christians have allowed their religion to become so politicized that it is foolish to show traditional dererence toward them. I drive down the street and I don’t see churches, I see Republican recruitment centers.

    I don’t give to Christian charities anymore. When they ask me at the grocery store if I want to contribute money to send a sick child to camp, I make sure it’s not a Christian camp. Every dollar I give a Christian organization is a contribution to the Republican party, as far as I’m concerned.

    So I agree we have to take a stand against the stupidity and evil of fundamentalism, even if social mores inhibit us. I just believe there’s more effective ways of doing it than cussing people out and storming off.

    What if you respond in a level, no-nonsense voice, “You know what? I don’t want to listen to this childish nonsense. People like you are a real problem for those of us who want to live responsible lives in a healthy world, and want the same for our kids. You need to learn to deal with the realities of your existence in an honest and dignified way, for the sake of us all.”

    That may not be much better, and it’s sure less cathartic. But at least you’re articulating some sort of argument, and the argument doesn’t pull any punches. The only thing you’re going to communicate with “demented fuckwit” is that you’re angry. And people aren’t as impressed with anger as some would like to think. Anger’s pretty cheap where I come from.

  175. #175 Corey Schlueter
    July 11, 2006

    When the rapture does not happen, will those who believed in it renounce their faith?

    I need some fine wine, and all of you, you need to be nicer.

  176. #176 Narc
    July 11, 2006

    I believe that Jesus was God in the flesh and died for my sins and in the power of His resurrection.

    No matter how many times you say this, and no matter how many ways you say it, you’re not answering the fundamental question.

    Why are your beliefs correct, and the beliefs of the Hindus incorrect?

  177. #177 Chance
    July 11, 2006

    God is distant and angry rather than loving, no promise of the future.

    I simply don’t know how you can think all those hindus going to suffering squares with that unless one is thinking only of themselves.

  178. #178 thwaite
    July 11, 2006

    Nice warm fuzzy response all about love, on a personal abstract level.

    This thread is about the Christian belief (delusion) of the apocalypse. Not so much love there, and inquiring minds including several billion non-Christians are wondering what would happen if, for example, fundamentalist Christians succeeded in controlling West Point and the White House long enough to control the tools which could implement the apocalypse? (I mention West Point specifically because of the somewhat recent publicity about just such Christian cadres there – only not yet explicitly apocalyptic.)

    And not so much love in:
    * the old testament (e.g. Leviticus, Joshua)
    * the gospel per Paul
    * the history of the Church once it had to live in the world for longer than a single generation expecting the Rapture. Pretty uneven history at best even (especially!) with the tools of the Roman administration at its disposal.

    So Christians are a matter of public concern (like other religious fundamentalists).

    Getting back to my previous post about Hindus (or any other large established community of faith): What do you see as the eternal fate of the many people who are so raised?

  179. #179 M Petersen
    July 11, 2006

    Why are your beliefs correct, and the beliefs of the Hindus incorrect?

    There is no hope in Hinduism — you are dependent on your own good deeds and enlightenment to escape from samsara. I cannot believe that there are millions of impersonal gods out there, there is no absolute morality (nothing is false; everything is true in a way), and I have no self-worth (just some part of Brahman).

  180. #180 Gentlewoman
    July 11, 2006

    Wow. It’s like PZ turned on a Giant Demented Fuckwit Magnet or something.

  181. #181 PZ Myers
    July 11, 2006

    Wow. It’s like PZ turned on a Giant Demented Fuckwit Magnet or something.

    It’s the Pharyngula Flypaper strategy.

  182. #182 Mandolin
    July 11, 2006

    Petersen,

    The fact you find no hope in those principles is a function of your upbringing.

    You could instead say it was joyful for the divine to live in millions of incarnations; for there to be a million different truths and facets to existence, like turning a jewel; that your self-worth is granted by your existence as part of a framework, a sparkling strand in the web of life.

    I think many people would find no hope in the ideas that your g*d condemns his children for choosing wisdom (eating the apple), curses all people with badness for being born (original sin), reduces all reality to a single set of questionable precepts (an absolute truth defined by biblical literalists), and can only figure out how to save one set of his children by murdering another child (nailing his only son to a cross).

  183. #183 Baruch Grazer
    July 11, 2006

    This probably goes without saying, but in addition to the demented-fuckwit program, a sound response to such nonsense is…

    …to vote against the Republican party. I mean, it’s no secret why these guys say they want to abolish the Department of Education, is it? It’s to get to the remaining 60%.

  184. #184 lt.kizhe
    July 11, 2006

    I found Christianity to satisfy my need for acceptance and love, recognizing that I’m not perfect, giving me a firm promise and hope of things to come.
    Well, there we have it folks: MP’s admitted reason for being an Evangelical Christian as opposed to being (say) a Hindu.
    I don’t begrudge you your warm fuzzies MP, but they don’t seem to have much to do with attempting to describe the way the universe actually is. I prefer to believe things because there is evidence that they are objectively true (and remember, I tried it your way for a good 10 years, when I was rather younger). Enjoy your faith — just don’t be under the illusion that it has any probative power outside the confines of your own cranium.

  185. #185 Jormungandr
    July 11, 2006

    “When the rapture does not happen, will those who believed in it renounce their faith?”

    No, they will not.

    The 2nd coming of Jesus was, as the early Christians believed, supposed to happen almost 2000 years ago (it was supposed to happen in the apostle’s lifetimes, IIRC). When it didn’t happen, those early Christians just modified what they believed in…

    …and then they spread.

    I remember some sort of NPR broadcast recently where this guy was talking about early Christianity. He said that something to the fact that it was more akin to a death cult compared to today’s Christianity. Perhaps we are coming full circle.

  186. #186 Stogoe
    July 11, 2006

    Jesus loves me this I know
    For the Bible Tells Me So
    Those non-Christians, they are Wrong
    They Burn in Hell while I Sing this Song!!

    Demented Fuckwits. Sheesh.

  187. #187 Boko999
    July 11, 2006

    I knew Christianity wasn’t for me when I heard that when I die I would join the Heavenly Host. I like neither heights nor crowds and I can’t sing a note

  188. #188 M Petersen
    July 11, 2006

    thwaitte:

    As far as I remember, I don’t think that West Point nor the White House will be fully in control of the apocolypse.

    I’m not entirely sure of the order of events, because it’s pretty cryptic, but I believe it starts with the rapture of the church (so Bush may be a non-issue). Then the Islamic invasion of Israel (Central Asia, Turkey, Iran, Sudan, Libya, and possibly Iraq, Syria, Jordan and Egypt). Saudi Arabia and Western Europe put up a minor protest. God causes an earthquake, and in the chaos nations begin to turn on each other (I assume this is where your worry comes in – apparently many deaths caused by this) and the invaders are destroyed by plagues, torrents of rain, hailstones, and burning sulfur. Then comes the Antichrist’s military rule over the world and his demand that everyone worship him as god.

    There are some pretty decent articles on the subject at:
    http://www.contenderministries.org/prophecy.php

  189. #189 PZ Myers
    July 11, 2006

    Max, I laud your sentiments and encourage you to say that to them many, many times.

    I’m going to stick with mine. I think a little anger is a valuable thing, and it is long past due. In fact, when I look at the state of the country right now, I think it would be sadly inappropriate for me to hold back that well-deserved fury.

  190. #190 Chance
    July 11, 2006

    M Petersen,

    Pretty decent articles? Your becoming a parody now. we have had a reasonable, well a discussion. But that last post was simply, ahem, wierd.

    Burning sulfur-haven’t you ever wondered why that is used as a device? Could it be that is all they knew?

    I’m out.

  191. #191 Jormungandr
    July 11, 2006

    “I’m not entirely sure of the order of events, because it’s pretty cryptic, but I believe it starts with the rapture of the church (so Bush may be a non-issue). Then the Islamic invasion of Israel (Central Asia, Turkey, Iran, Sudan, Libya, and possibly Iraq, Syria, Jordan and Egypt). Saudi Arabia and Western Europe put up a minor protest. God causes an earthquake, and in the chaos nations begin to turn on each other (I assume this is where your worry comes in – apparently many deaths caused by this) and the invaders are destroyed by plagues, torrents of rain, hailstones, and burning sulfur. Then comes the Antichrist’s military rule over the world and his demand that everyone worship him as god.

    Is this from the Bible? Seriously. Is Western Europe mentioned in the Bible?

  192. #192 M Petersen
    July 11, 2006

    In my own search for the truth, I found the evidence for Jesus not only existing but being God incarnate and the credibility of the Bible to be quite solid. Have you looked at some of the links I mentioned earlier? It’s not just about warm fuzzies here. I didn’t check my brain at the door when I became a Christian.

    I wish all of you the very best in your endeavours. I hope you might come across Jesus again in your search for the truth.

    PZ: Might be best not to call your students DF’s if they believe in this stuff.

  193. #193 M Petersen
    July 11, 2006

    Jormungandr: Well, yeah. Spain specifically, but may include others.

    Ezekiel 38:13 “Sheba and Dedan and the merchants of Tarshish with all its villages will say to you, ‘Have you come to capture spoil? Have you assembled your company to seize plunder, to carry away silver and gold, to take away cattle and goods, to capture great spoil?'”

    As this invasion develops, a few countries will make a lame protest. This isn’t hard to believe when you look at the indifference most nations display as Israel is repeatedly attacked by terrorists.

    The specific nations who question Gog’s actions are “Sheba and Dedan and the merchants of Tarshish”. Sheba and Dedan are not hard to identify. These were ancient names for what is known today as Saudi Arabia.

    Tarshish is most commonly agreed to be ancient Tartessus or the area of present day Spain in Western Europe. In Ezekiels day, Tarshish was in the farthest west regions of the known world. By referring to Tarshish and all her merchants, Ezekiel could have been indicating that Western Europe will join with Saudi Arabia in denouncing the invasion.

  194. #194 thwaite
    July 11, 2006

    The name is ‘thwaite’.

    I’m with Chance – that was weird (though not entirely unfamiliar to me).

    And I’m out – done my bit for exposure.

  195. #195 Dan
    July 11, 2006

    Christianity is a religion of love because God is love.

    I don’t accept your premise, and your conclusion is demonstrably false on its own merits.

    At any rate, if you’re defining Christianity as anything other than an activity that real people engage in, you’re defining it into meaninglessness.

    People who misinterpretted or misused the Bible for their own evil gain are responsible for those atrocities. That evil has been done and it will forever be a point of contention for people who choose not to believe. I understand why that upsets so many and they feel that they can’t believe. Those people who did those things are flawed people, like everyone else, who did the unthinkable. That does not excuse their behaviour, and it upsets me also that so many people will not believe because of these people who claimed to be Christians.

    So you’re saying that no true Christian would ever slaughter innocent people for fun?

    I would never claim anyone is an idiot.

    That’s part of your problem, right there. The existence of idiots is an objective truth, and they should be called out for their idiocy at every opportunity.

    Regardless, the acts of certain people do not change what the religion is.

    So what you’re saying is that your religion is not defined by what the self-declared adherents of that religion do, say, or think. In that case, your religion is a meaningless construct entirely divorced from reality.

    Religion, like language, is defined by how people actually use it, not by abstract prescriptive principles. People who gleefully kill for Jesus, prey on old people, and agitate for misogyny, racism, sexism, homophobia, and general asshattery are just as Christian as you are, whatever you think.

    If you look hard at what Chrisitianity teaches in the Bible, you’ll see that it’s all about love.

    If you look hard at how Christianity has actually been practiced by the people who claim to adhere to it, you’ll see that it’s about anything but love.

  196. #196 RBH
    July 11, 2006

    MPetersen wrote

    People who misinterpretted or misused the Bible for their own evil gain are responsible for those atrocities.

    Y’know, I was going to ask some Midianites about that very topic, but they were all slaughtered on your God’s orders. All, that is, except the certifiable virgins, who were handed over to be the property — sex slaves — of the army of your God’s chosen people, also on your God’s orders.

  197. #197 Jormungandr
    July 11, 2006

    Ezekiel could have been indicating that Western Europe will join with Saudi Arabia in denouncing the invasion.

    Ezekiel could have been smoking something, too.

    Make these predictions sufficiently vague and hide their mundaneness in mumbo jumbo, and you can make twist them and make them apply to ANY humdrum event (and thus get to say “I told you so”).

    Kinda like astrology and fortune cookies…

  198. #198 James G
    July 11, 2006

    I don’t think we should descend to their level…

  199. #199 Keith Wolter
    July 12, 2006

    “We aren’t talking about an interpretation of a fossil. We aren’t arguing over a reasonable, debatable point. We are talking about people who think that if they produce a cow with red hair and sacrifice it in Israel, Jesus will reappear and the world will end.
    I’m sorry that you don’t see the difference.”

    Easy, PZ. Of course I see the difference. Look, I happen to share your incredulousness that any non-demented, ahem, person, could really believe this crap. But swearing at them, without provocation? Has Ann Coulter really succeeded in bringing the social discourse down to this level?

    What is calling someone a demented fuckwit accomplishing? Other than smug self-satisfaction and a “whoo-wha” from your cheering section, nothing. NOTHING. It does, however, make you look like a jerk. “But how can I be the jerk, when their beliefs are so crazy?” you reply. Well, screaming “fuckwit” at someone in a coffee shop will do that. People who aren’t as interested in the “debate” as you are will dismiss you out of hand as a rude, innappropriate fuckwit.

    How about not talking to them at all? Or, if forced to engage, just tell them you’ve got nothing to talk about, because you find them irrational? Less ego, more id, but also less debasing then shouting vulgarities.

    I think you need a vacation from all this crap. Max’s approach is far more likely to bear fruit in the long run, and convince the semi-sane of how crazy the crazies are. After a sedative and a long nap, I think you’ll agree. Look, our side needs standard-bearers, too. I fear that from now on, your post-script is going to be “the atheist scientist who screams DEMENTED FUCKWIT at all Evangelical Christians”… Congrats, you’ve just fired up the fundie base.

  200. #200 Matt T.
    July 12, 2006

    Jesus, what a muddle. Ya know, one of the first things that turned me against religion in general and Christianity in particular was hearing as a young boy about different interpretations of what was written in the Bible. That thing were people shoe-horn the U.S. or modern geopolitical concepts into texts written two thousand years ago, or taking some parable or tale and relating it to some modern problem. It always struck me as Mankind saying “No, here’s what God really meant.”

    Then I heard how the Bible had been subtly (often not so) altered in the past, either for political purposes or for readability’s sake or for whatever reason. Then I heard about how certain early mistranslations of certain words and concepts were carried on for years and years, some still today (like Mary being a “young girl” rather than a full-on “virgin”). Then I read about all the different disputes that lead to early schisms in the church, the Protestant Reformation, where Baptists came from as opposed to Methodists, and why Southern Baptists split from other American Baptists groups. And somewhere along the line, I learned the modern “Left Behind” concept of Revelations – which, as a Southern Baptist survivor, I’d been taught all my youth – was barely two centuries old, made up pretty much from whole cloth by a demented German woman.

    It occurs to me that, God’s existence or not, humanity really has done all that good a job getting across anything but disagreements and misinterpretations. God’s word is easily changed by those who want to change it. I’d go as far as to argue that whether or not God exists and there’s any truth (capital T or small t) to Jesus’s word (if he even existed, and as far as I know, there’s still very little non-Bibical evidence for such an important figure in Western civilization), Christianity has nothing to do with it. It and religion in general are nothing but differing forms and degrees of social control, another way for the elites to keep the sweating masses in line.

    And OT, I wouldn’t call a believer in Armageddon a “demented fuckwit”. I’d call him/her a “deluded jackass”, same thing I’d call some poor bastard that’s convinced NASA’s covering up “the truth” about the Face On Mars. Believe whatever you want to believe; reality doesn’t give a damn one way or another.

  201. #201 roger
    July 12, 2006

    Could I please interrupt this conversation about DEMENTED FUCKWITS? I’m a non-scientist, an atheist, and I love evolution. I am having a discussion with a creationist who said this: “The universe is incapable of generating the DNA information required for the most trivial of lifeforms. Therefore, that information must have come from outside the universe.”

    The creationist is invoking his make-believe god to explain the origin of DNA. How should I respond? Thanks!

  202. #202 Don Culberson
    July 12, 2006

    Wow! 227 comments on a title as seemingly obvious as “Rapture rubbish and apocalyptic asininity”. Caught someone’s attention, do you think? I am just hopeful that there is a broad and growing(?) spectrum of critical response to this stuff. I LIKE PZ’s fuckyouinyourface approach as well as Udargo’s “you are entitled to your notion but don’t try to shove it up my ass” perspective. The nutcases need to hear this repeatedly, however it is couched. More importantly the folks who aren’t nutcases need to hear us saying it. And the rational religious need to grow some gonads and step up to the plate as well… they are not doing their jobs at all. Don’t tell us you are on the side of rationality if you tolerate for a second this kind of crap from your brethren in faith…
    Uncle Don

  203. #203 Stanton
    July 12, 2006

    Mr Peterson, I don’t really believe you when you claim you didn’t park your brain at the door, in that, when you claim that Jordan and Egypt, which are among the handful of Islamic nations that recognize Israel, and Israel’s right to exist, will participate in the “Islamic Invasion” of Israel, plus, then there’s Libya’s softening of its stance towards Israel within the last year or so.
    Parroting prophecies made by fatalistic lunatics and not noticing recent history do not denote a sane mind, you must realize.

  204. #204 PZ Myers
    July 12, 2006

    Congrats, you’ve just fired up the fundie base.

    Oh, no. So now they’re going to start talkin’ stupid crazy stuff all the time…and it’s my fault?

  205. #205 Matt T.
    July 12, 2006

    Oh, no. So now they’re going to start talkin’ stupid crazy stuff all the time…and it’s my fault?

    Yes. Darn you for causing all that whack-job religious fundamentalism! If you would’ve just kept quiet, the fundies who think the world’s gonna end in a rain of fire and blood, everyone who doesn’t think like they do is gonna burn for eternity, and we deserve it would eventually come around to your way of thinking all by their lonesome. That’s obviously the only answer, not that they’re deluded dingbats with a general mad-on for life who look for reasons to scream “Help, I’m being oppressed” and ponder longingly for upcoming days of massive hurt and pain and burny things for everyone that says otherwise.

    No, seriously. It’s all your fault, they bear no responsibility for their words or deeds whatsoever.

  206. #206 Craig
    July 12, 2006

    I found Christianity to satisfy my need for acceptance and love, recognizing that I’m not perfect, giving me a firm promise and hope of things to come.

    It must be nice to be able to choose your own reality based on what feels good.

    I was asked once if as an atheist I didn’t consider it scary to think that all there would be after dying was complete nothingness, and how could I face that…
    My response was “what does how I feel about it have to do with anything?”

    When people ask that kind of question, I’m always amazed that they don’t realize that they just admitted that their beliefs are completely baseless.

  207. #207 impatientpatient
    July 12, 2006

    http://www.thechurchreport.com/content/view/478/32/

    Read it and weep- Explore the site and weep, and then remember that the ONLY reason I know about this is because the FAITH AND VALUES segment on CNN with Paula Zahn had the Christy guy on.

    I dunno…. I really don’t. This is a link to an article on Intelligent design. I believe in the same issue is a link about how Islam wants to conquer us with holy wars , then preach to us and then build mosques (a presence) to take us over. And on their front page they have an article about how Harry Potter is leading kids to Satan.

    As an X Xtian I am horrified. I really have no words. Last night I read Jimmy Carters newest book from 2005, and even HE castigated the religious right for their wish to bring forth the end times. There are moderate religious people out there who are speaking against the extreme weirdos- but unfortunately their message is not appearing on CNN .

    I really did not want to comment on here, as I have told my story before- these people are exactly why I left Xtianity the first time, and the second time. I am not going to go back and make it a third time.

    Demented fuckwits made me laugh, but it probably will not come out of my mouth, as the only time I meet these people anymore is through my kids friends (sigh) or at work (my second job) where I have to serve them their eggs over easy and listen to them babble on about their religious point of the day. I highly doubt that I would make any tips if I said that out loud. (cuz I would be fired!!) Oh- and my family is religious, but thankfully they have a more Catholic view of the end times scenario. That is something to be grateful for, I guess. That said, they would love the article on ID……

    PZ, the link to that song made me and a good buddy cry. It was a good laugh.

    Just remember, and I have said this before- these folks truly truly truly believe in this stuff and unless you have been a part of this particular brand of xtianity, you have absolutely NO idea about how seriously they think that the end is near and that is a great thing. It has not changed in 25 years, this enthusiasm for the destruction of anyone who does not believe, and if anything it has become more fervent. The rise of the Moral Majority in the 80’s gave unprecedented strength to their cause, and even while “underground” during the Clinton years, they worked hard to get their message across and capitalized on September 11th’s fears. The rise of the mega church, the rise of Xtian fundamentalism in North America and the denial of science is because these people networked, kept in touch with their base and responded to the fears of a nation—– like a lion on its prey. They were ready.

    Anyone who wants to read about how the Southern Baptists took over the US ought to take a look at Carter’s book. It is a good synopsis, even IF you do not agree with the author……

  208. #208 impatientpatient
    July 12, 2006

    From the Same site…

    Kep Your Jesus Off My Penis…. Comes to mind…

    That, and why the hell did he click on the links if he KNEW they were escorts….

    ******************************************************

    http://www.thechurchreport.com/component/option,com_simpleboard/Itemid,78/func,view/id,78/catid,2/

    After surfing the site for just two minutes I quickly discovered the issue. Much to my disgust, Craigslist, 25 percent of which is owned by online auctioneer Ebay, has its very own erotic section, touting the services or escorts!” With a click of my mouse, I was viewing a selection of ads much too lewd and tawdry to publish in my column. I read ad after ad for women offering illicit sexual services for fees and incredibly, most of them posted pictures that would make even their own mothers blush!

    ***************************************************

    He then goes on and outlines his attempts at being the morality police.

  209. #209 coz
    July 12, 2006

    I’m Australian, and we just don’t seem to get that level of madness here. I know there are people here that believe in The End Times and all that goes with it, but you just never hear about it. Partly from sheer population numbers and mostly we would rather have a beer.
    When i wish to bang my head against the keyboard i read the Rapture Ready forum. There are people aching for it, dying to die, wondering if their pets will go with them and how to write letters to the unsaved explaining whats happened. Its never ceases to stun me. What happened to living,loving and enjoying your life here and now?
    I’m married to a American and thinking of moving there next year. I’m getting slightly worried, but hoping my accent will confuse the fundies ;)

  210. #210 G. Tingey
    July 12, 2006

    Yet again we have postings (including from “Jason” ! ) saying oh, but I’m a christian and these people aren’t and they are not representative, and all the usual whingeing …

    Well, i’ll just say if again ….

    All religions are blackmail, and are based on fear and superstition. [ and ] Marxism is a religion.
    2. All religions kill, or enslave, or torture. [ and ] The bigots are the true believers.

  211. #211 bad Jim
    July 12, 2006

    Look, can’t we just get along? I personally tend to reserve profanity for occasions when it is effective (getting my elderly mother out of the way) or innocuous (most other family or work settings).

    I’d suggest instead calmly informing the demented fuckwit in the following terms: “Dear sir or madam, you appear to be the victim of a delusion which threatens great harm to yourself, your friends and family, your country and your planet.”

    This is of course also applicable to global warming deniers.

  212. #212 Carlie
    July 12, 2006

    It probably wouldn’t be exactly my tactic, but how is calling someone a demented fuckwit any worse than calling someone a sinner who is going to hell? People not raised in a conservative religious home might not see the severity of it, but saying someone is going to hell is a very serious and bad statement – much worse than using a little naughty language.

  213. #213 wintermute
    July 12, 2006

    M Peterson:

    Maybe you could try to succeed where Lewis failed, and give us a proof of how the Bible isn’t true. All you’d have to do is prove one fact didn’t happen or isn’t true — shouldn’t be that hard should it?

    Genesis 7:11 – There are no windows in the (solid) sky though which rain falls.

    Leviticus 11:5-6 – Coneys do not chew the cud.

    Leviticus 11:13-19 – The bat is not a type of bird.

    Ezekiel 26 – Tyre has been continuously occupied since before the OT was written, and is currently the fourth largest city in the Middle East.

    1 Kings 7:23 – π does not equal three.

    Job 39:13-16 – Ostriches are very attentive parents.

    Mark 4:31-32 – Mustard is neither the largest plant, nor has the smallest seeds.

    Matthew 23:36 – Jesus’ second coming did not happen within a generation.

    Is that enough to be getting on with, or should I dig out the dozens of references that say the world is flat, and rests on immovable pillars (except when God sneezes and causes earthquakes)?

  214. #214 paleotn
    July 12, 2006

    roger wrote…..

    “The creationist is invoking his make-believe god to explain the origin of DNA. How should I respond? Thanks!”

    Inserting “it happened by magic!” because you don’t know the real, natural world answer is no answer at all. Its like Night of the Living Dead! These same, tired arguments get slapped down time after time after time, only to be ressurected by still more fundie DEMENTED FUCKWITS!

    Here’s a good resource for the questions being posed by your little friend.

    http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CF/CF003.html

    If you go back to the index, there is a wealth of information for just about any argument DEMENTED FUCKWIT, uh, I mean individual may bring up.

  215. #215 j
    July 12, 2006

    I haven’t read the whole comment thread, but I believe this post brings up a good question. I live in the Bible Belt, and the majority of the people here are, well, demented fuckwits.

    Do I have a personal, moral, legal, political, or scientific obligation not to associate with demented fuckwits?

    Because that would be difficult.

  216. #216 Frost
    July 12, 2006

    @Alexander Vargas: Your claim that an increase in dispair is the reason for increased religiousness in America has no grounds. Why should Americans be getting more desperate and therefore more religious, but not the French or the Germans, or Mexicans, or Moroccans?

    Let me tell you my view as a European: I think the increase in religious fundamentalism in the US has something to do with the fact that Americans have a tendency to megalomania, what with being “God’s chosen country”, playing the world sheriff and so on. Religious belief is a type of megalomania itself. The necessity to believe in a greater power and an afterlife results from an absurd overestimation of one’s own importance for the world.

  217. #217 Keith Wolter
    July 12, 2006

    “Oh, no. So now they’re going to start talkin’ stupid crazy stuff all the time…and it’s my fault?”

    Oh, geez. Yes, YES; the crazy views of religious wackos everywhere are all your fault, PZ. A balding, bespectacled professor, shouting invectives in the coffee shops and church socials of Minnesota, single-handedly caused a Fundamentalist religious revival in the US. Yes, that was my point, exactly.

    Boy, making snarky sarcastic remarks is almost as much fun as screaming obscenties at strangers! Aren’t I clever? And yet, my question remains: what does it accomplish? It might feel good, lashing out in anger; but then that is the same reason people give for kicking their kids, or head-buttting opposing players. While it may relieve the tension, and the targets may deserve it, it doesn’t really lead to respect.

    Look, neither you, nor anyone else, has an obilgation to hold your tongue, and if you are so frustrated that you need to do this, so be it. But my point is that these people are irrational, and firing them up more doesn’t help. When they all come out and vote for some fundie nutjob Congressman, and he cuts off all your government research funding, we all lose. I’m not saying you have to respect them. But publicly disrespecting them doesn’t accomplish anything. I just think we need more reasonable, level-headed leaders who can confront them and point out their flawed logic, and until now, I put you squarely in that camp.

    PS – Do you ever sleep?

  218. #218 Steve_C
    July 12, 2006

    Nope. But when they start talking about the End Times…

    “Are you nuts?” Would be appropriate?

    I know they hate to be questioned, but if they bring it up call ‘em on it.

  219. #219 Steve_C
    July 12, 2006

    Of course publicly disresepecting them is acceptable.

    They need to be marginalized not respected and that can only happen in PUBLIC.

  220. #220 roger
    July 12, 2006

    paleotn, thanks very much!

  221. #221 Steve LaBonne
    July 12, 2006

    coz, just think of the experience of living in the US amidst all these wackos as, umm, umm, bracing. Like our Midwestern winters. It will be good for you- stimulating. Or anyway, you can keep telling yourself that. ;)

  222. #222 M Petersen
    July 12, 2006

    Genesis 7:11 – There are no windows in the (solid) sky though which rain falls.

    More accurately translated as the floodgates of the heavens (or sky) were opened.

    Leviticus 11:5-6 – Coneys do not chew the cud.

    http://www.tektonics.org/af/cudchewers.html

    Leviticus 11:13-19 – The bat is not a type of bird.

    First, linean classification was not available when Leviticus and Deuteronomy were written, nor did a specific scientific definition for what a bird was exist. The classification of animals was made by function and form. This can be seen in the definition of words used to describe animals in the Old Testament. For example, the word here that we render “fowl” comes from the Hebrew word owph which means flying creatures, to include birds, winged insects, and any animal that owns a wing. It comes from a root word that means to cover or to fly. This verse could rightly be interpreted, “And these are they which ye shall have in abomination among flying creatures….”. The King James Version seems to call the bat a fowl, but when you understand the times in which it was written, and the meaning of the original Hebrew, it’s obvious there is no error here.

    Ezekiel 26 – Tyre has been continuously occupied since before the OT was written, and is currently the fourth largest city in the Middle East.

    In 586 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon besieged the city of Tyre. For thirteen years, Nebuchadnezzar held Tyre captive. Then the Phoenicians, using their seafaring skills, moved their city to a small island one half mile out in the Mediterranean Sea and escaping Nebuchadnezzar. The city of Tyre was abandoned.

    In 322 B.C. Alexander the Great conquered the coastal cities of the Mediterranean Sea. He forced his captives to wage war against the new city of Tyre in constant waves from the sea. Alexander grew tired of the slow progress the war making, and ordered that the old city of Tyre, the original city abandoned by the Phoenicians, to be torn down, and thrown into the sea to make a causeway, or road, wide enough for two chariots, so the war could progress. Every building was torn down and thrown into the sea to build this road. When the entire city was torn down, the causeway was still unable to reach the new city of Tyre, so Alexander ordered that the ground be scraped to the bedrock to provide the material needed to finish the road. He then marched his army over the new road and defeated the Phoenicians, and then destroyed their new city.

    Today the city that Ezekiel prophesied against is a large bare rock. For hundreds of years it has been a place where fishermen spread their nets. The building materials from the ancient city of Tyre are clearly seen in the water off the cost. Part of the causeway can be seen to this day.

    1 Kings 7:23 – π does not equal three.

    Sorry I can’t include the actual Hebrew here, so I’ll just use English letters in brackets.
    In this case the word for circumference=”line” (IP in Hebrew)
    But in this verse “line” is written with an extra letter. (nIP)

    Since Hebrew has no digits, all letters are also numbers, we can take the ratio of (the gematriacal value of) the unusual word form (nIP) to the regular word form (IP). Given that the gematrial letter values are P=100, I=6, and n=5 we find that:

    n + I + P = 5 + 6 + 100 = 111
    I + P = 6 + 100 = 106
    111/106 = 1.0471698

    3 (False number for PI) multiplied by 1.0471698 (Ratio) = 3.14150943…

    The real value: PI=3.1415926…

    The difference between 3 x 111/106 and PI is 0.0000832 which is only an error of 0.00026%.

    Job 39:13-16 – Ostriches are very attentive parents.

    http://www.tektonics.org/lp/ostrich.html

    Mark 4:31-32 – Mustard is neither the largest plant, nor has the smallest seeds.

    Jesus was not comparing the mustard seed to all other seeds in the world, but to seeds that a local, Palestinian farmer might have “sowed in his field,” i.e., a key qualifying phrase in verse 31. And it’s absolutely true that the black mustard seed (Brassica nigra = Sinapis nigra) was the smallest seed ever sown by a first-century farmer in that part of the world.

    It’s also true, as many modern-day encyclopedias will tell you, that the black mustard seed in Israel will typically grow to heights of 3.7 meters, or twelve (12) feet) — plenty large enough to hold a bird nest.

    Matthew 23:36 – Jesus’ second coming did not happen within a generation.

    This verse is not referring at all to the second coming of Jesus.

    Matthew 23:33-36
    “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? Therefore I am sending you prophets and wise men and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town. And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. I tell you the truth, all this will come upon this generation.”

  223. #223 Steve_C
    July 12, 2006

    M

    Do you believe the Rapture will happen?

    And if yes… soon?

    And don’t quote the bible. Just answer the question.

  224. #224 M Petersen
    July 12, 2006

    It must be nice to be able to choose your own reality based on what feels good.

    I was asked once if as an atheist I didn’t consider it scary to think that all there would be after dying was complete nothingness, and how could I face that…
    My response was “what does how I feel about it have to do with anything?”

    When people ask that kind of question, I’m always amazed that they don’t realize that they just admitted that their beliefs are completely baseless.

    If you will take some time to read all that I’ve said here and the links I’ve provided, you will see that it’s not based on a feeling I get, though it does provide that as well. There are certain things that are just true whether you believe it, like it, or even know about it. I believe the Biblical account of Jesus and God to be true. That truth is further validated by my own experience.

  225. #225 T_U_T
    July 12, 2006

    I see, debating with M Petersen is like arguing against a DVDplayer…

  226. #226 Steve_C
    July 12, 2006

    Hehe. Or a Parrot.

    Bwak! Jesus loves me! Bwak!

  227. #227 M Petersen
    July 12, 2006

    Steve_C: Yes I believe the rapture will happen. Soon? I have no idea. But there are several circumstances and events that seem to aline with the prophecies outlined in the Bible. Please see http://contenderministries.org/prophecy/endtimes.php for a list.

  228. #228 j
    July 12, 2006

    I will not believe the Biblical account of Jesus and God to be true until there is empirical evidence that it is true. I do not consider anyone’s personal experience as sufficient evidence.

    It is irresponsible to make outlandish claims without evidence. Please prove the existence of the Christian God and of Jesus, and prove it without reference to the Bible or anecdote. Thank you.

  229. #229 Steve_C
    July 12, 2006

    I’m not going to some nutbag link signaling the End Times are near.

    Just wanted so see how close to the Demented Fuckwits you were.

    Do you hope that you get to witness the Rapture?

  230. #230 j
    July 12, 2006

    With all due respect, Mr. Petersen, your latest link reads like a horoscope.

  231. #231 Will E.
    July 12, 2006

    What do you say when someone within earshot drops a racist slur? A homophobic insult? A sexist remark? It’s best to let that person know that is seriously not okay, and in public, they will be called on it. Same goes for religious nuttery. These folks need to know that their beliefs are not acceptable in a civilized society. You don’t have to scream “demented fuckwit” at them. In fact, a dispassionate tone of icy derision and meaningful eye contact might shame them even more effectively.

    Ignore, of course, if offending person could seriously kick your ass.

  232. #232 MYOB
    July 12, 2006

    1. Forcing the endtimes is, according to the bible, is a blasphemy since it tempst the lord and tries to force his hand.
    2. If god is all knowing and all seeing and has a timetable then your actions mean nothing. It will happen when he wants it and youre actions will only follow along with what he wants and do exactly the opposite.
    3. In partnership with #2, the end times are fortold in the bible to come like a thief in the night. Nobody can see it coming. This is why the churches have always preached preparation, so that you are prepared for when it actually happens. Your soul is ready cause you don’t know when it’s going to happen and waiting til the last minute is impossible. Anyone who thinks they know when it is going to happn or thinks they can hasten it are not only poorly versed in the bible’s obvious intent but arrogant and like #1, are trying to force god’s hand. Again, it’s a sin against god to think this way.

    I am in total agreement with PZ on this. We have the evidence and all they have are circular logic bible verses written by a bunch of desert roaming nomads thousands of years ago. It’s time to stand up to these people and FORCE THEM to stand to prove it. Most of them won’t bother trying but you can make sure they look weak and ineffective in front of others. Call their bluff.
    As for the good ones, other than family members there are none. Eventually they will fall back to trusting their own rather than anyone else. Afterall, who are they going to trust? What their eyes see or what they’ve been told to do all their lives which is trust what their eyes cannot see?

    MYOB’
    .

  233. #233 Steve_C
    July 12, 2006

    Just carry DF repellent.

  234. #234 j
    July 12, 2006

    Where can I buy some?

  235. #235 Steve_C
    July 12, 2006

    Most pet supply stores.

  236. #236 M Petersen
    July 12, 2006

    I’m not going to some nutbag link signaling the End Times are near.

    Just wanted so see how close to the Demented Fuckwits you were.

    Do you hope that you get to witness the Rapture?

    So you’re playing some sort of game with me then, is that it? If you’re not interested in the answers I give, that’s fine, hopefully someone who reads this is.

    Witness the Rapture? It’d be cool to see, but I’m not that pre-occupied with it. I’m watching for it, but it will happen when I least expect it, and only God knows when that will be.

  237. #237 Will E.
    July 12, 2006

    “Witness the Rapture? It’d be cool to see”

    Give us an idea–will it be Cecil B. DeMille style, or more Michael Bay?

  238. #238 M Petersen
    July 12, 2006

    With all due respect, Mr. Petersen, your latest link reads like a horoscope.

    Ok well, I didn’t write it so I’m sorry the style is not to your liking. However, the content makes a decent case for at least looking into how the current events and state of the world *may* fit the criteria for the end of the world predicted in the Bible.

  239. #239 Lee
    July 12, 2006

    James wrote: You’re not getting it Alexander, it’s not the loons that PZ cares about, they are a lost cause. You might know the phrase “don’t try to teach a pig to fly, it will waste your time and annoy the pig”.

    It’s the people around who let the DEMENTED FUCKWITS spew their shit without contest. It’s like the crazy on the subway who yells and screams while nobody dares to reply. People need to stand up and say “Shut the fuck up you DEMENTED FUCKWIT!”

    I am curious whether anyone is aware of controlled studies where you (1) take an audience that you wish to persuade of a position, (2) subject them to various methods of persuasion, from swearing at them/others, to rhetorical tricks, to calm logic, and (3) measure the effectiveness of each method. I suspect there would be differences depending on the personal beliefs of the audience.

    What is interesting to me is that many here appear to assume that marginalizing a group you see as “demented fuckwits’ is going to persuade some other group of your position.

    Perhaps it will. But I’d like to see some empirical data supporting this approach.

  240. #240 Steve_C
    July 12, 2006

    Why would I go to a site that shows how current events corellate
    with fiction stated in the bible? The bible is just a bunch of stories.

    I’m not playing a game with you. Just wanted to know.

    I’ll make a prophecy. There will be several hurricanes, tornadoes
    and earthquakes this year. People will commit horrible acts of violence.
    Many things will blow up, burn, crumble and crash.

    You are more likely to be struck by lightening than to witness the Rapture.

    And no that wouldn’t be a sign from god.

  241. #241 Steve_C
    July 12, 2006

    Lee, I don’t think the point is to convince anyone of anything other than the DF’s
    should be ridiculed and laughed at.

    It’s about marginalizing not converting.

  242. #242 M Petersen
    July 12, 2006

    Give us an idea–will it be Cecil B. DeMille style, or more Michael Bay?

    Neither. I would go more with a mix of John Woo meets Phil Alden Robinson. Physically impossible stuff followed by confusion and serious distruction.

  243. #243 PZ Myers
    July 12, 2006

    But I’d like to see some empirical data supporting this approach.

    Look at the US government. It’s the product of years of right-wing radio, right-wing think-tanks, and right-wing demonization of everything with a hint of liberalism, opposed by a left-wing that gets the vapors at any hint of incivility and faints. It’s not a controlled study, but it works.

  244. #244 speedwell
    July 12, 2006

    You know, according to the Christian doctrine, God created the universe and everything in it. God had and has full knowledge of everything that would happen in that universe even before he created it. God had the ability not to create the universe the way He did. But he went ahead anyway. That means He set us up. He invented death and temptation and “sin.” He made it so millions of people would be born only to wind up in unspeakable torment in Hell. He wanted it to be that way and so it was that way.

    If you could prove the Christian God existed, I’d still turn my nose up at him.

  245. #245 Will E.
    July 12, 2006

    What I always get when I raise my voice against religion and/or fundamentalism is “You’re as bad as they are, criticizing and getting upset!” How is that possible? I do not have a coast-to-coast radio program listened to by millions, nor run a megachurch w/ thousands of congregants, nor publish best-selling books, nor produce block-busting movies about religious figures. How, then, am I just like the fundies I criticize? Can anyone answer that? Fuck.

  246. #246 Steve_C
    July 12, 2006

    Ever watch the Countdown with Olbermann?
    Ever see him rip apart Ann Coulter or O’Reily?
    This is no different. He’s just required by law to use nicer language.
    Oh and he’s really funny.

  247. #247 M Petersen
    July 12, 2006

    By far the best evidence or proof I have for Christianity is Jesus.

    Some of the facts:
    1. Jesus was an actual person who lived on the Earth.
    2. Jesus died due to the rigors of crucifixion.
    3. Jesus was buried.
    4. Jesus’ death caused the disciples to despair and lose hope.
    5. Many scholars hold that Jesus’ tomb was discovered to be empty just a few days later.
    6. At this time, the disciples had real experiences that they believed to be literal experiences of the risen Jesus.
    7. The disciples were transformed from doubters who were afraid to identify with Jesus, to bold proclaimers of his death and resurrection, even being willing to die for this belief.
    8. The resurrection was central to their message.
    9. The resurrection was proclaimed in Jerusalem where the empty tomb was.
    10. James, Jesus’ skeptical brother, was converted by the resurrection.
    11. Paul, the great persecutor of Christianity, was converted by the resurrection.

    I believe the only plausible explanation for these facts is that Jesus did rise from the dead.

    I suppose I’ll now have to go into an exhaustive proof of each one of these points I claim as facts. Though one thing confuses me about some of you. Being scientists, I assume, do you really want me to provide you with an exhausite textbook called “Proof of God, Jesus, and the Bible” QED? In much the same way some claim Christians are unwilling to support their beliefs with actual fact, some of you seem unwilling to bother looking into it for yourselves. This is a very personal decision and I would think it’s important enough to warrant a very personal search of the facts. What you decide to do with those facts, or whether you believe there is or is not enough evidence to support them, is entirely up to you.

    Other resources include:

    Against: http://ffrf.org/about/bybarker/rise.php
    For: http://www.michaelhorner.com/articles/resurrection/index.html
    Good debate here: http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/dan_barker/barker_horner.html

  248. #248 Paul
    July 12, 2006

    “Paul: Well then, disproven by a comedian.”

    My recently dead comedian makes a whole lot more sense that your long-dead Levantine zealots.

    And don’t you think it’s a little…presumptuous for these rapturists to assume that they know god’s will so well that they think they can bring about the end of the world? I mean if Paul of Tarsus was wrong about when the end-times were, then why are these guys so sure they’re right?
    Isn’t pride a mortal sin?

    Then again the rapture as a concept isn’t even universally accepted among christians. It was invented in 1831 by a (non-porridge sweetening) Scotswoman who said god told her about it (I was having a beer with god last night and he denied the whole thing).

    Are those christians who don’t accept the rapture off the love list too? What about the catholics? Does a penchent for revering the virgin, believing in transubstantiation and discrete self-flagellation void their citizenship of the new Jerusalem? What about the orthodox or the methodists or the nestorians?

    Never mind the hindus, the jews and all the other religions that are apparently hell-bound – there are so many christian sects that you have to be sure you’re backing the right horse.

    You’d think that your all-knowing god of love would have made his revealed truth a little more user-friendly, especially since eternal toment awaits anyone who either hasn’t heard it or hasn’t heard the correct version. Next time round, big g, try communicating through flashcards or perhaps a powerpoint presentation instead of ancient Semitic hermits.

    As you’ve been peppering us with links – why don’t you read this one:

    http://whydoesgodhateamputees.com/

    and come back with a coherent answer to that question?

  249. #249 Will E.
    July 12, 2006

    “Some of the facts”

    The only place those are “facts” is in the bible.

    Cue Josephus quote.

  250. #250 thwaite
    July 12, 2006

    Lee:
    It’s about political rather than religious persuasion, but this cognitive scientist’s blog includes links which are probably pertinent:
    Hot Cognition Is Back in the Blogosophere

  251. #251 Lee
    July 12, 2006

    Look at the US government. It’s the product of years of right-wing radio, right-wing think-tanks, and right-wing demonization of everything with a hint of liberalism, opposed by a left-wing that gets the vapors at any hint of incivility and faints. It’s not a controlled study, but it works.

    I don’t follow your reasoning. I suppose if you assume that the US was, at some mythical, Camelot sort of time, a rational, non-dogmatic, liberal population that was only later duped by the right-wing agenda solely through swearing and the marginalization of the opposition, then you have your “argument” such as it is.

    But it may be as likely that the reason that the rhetorical tricks and nastiness of the right worked for other reasons, such as the repeated failures of elected Democrats to articulate the positive impacts of liberalism and science or the pre-existing stupidity and dogmatism of a significant portion of the population that was previously not politically engaged.

    I do like cm’s idea that you are “advocating with his campaign of vitriol is trying to slow/stop/reverse a process of normalization of dangerous delusions, i.e. when ideas generally considered absurd become acceptable within the sphere of normal discussion.”

    Preventing the normalization of delusional thinking seems like a noble goal – even if it skirts with its own form of delusion. In any event, my question remains as to whether there are controlled studies regarding the effectiveness of varied argumentative techniques.

  252. #252 wintermute
    July 12, 2006
    Genesis 7:11 – There are no windows in the (solid) sky though which rain falls.

    More accurately translated as the floodgates of the heavens (or sky) were opened.

    Oh, they’re gates, rather than windows? My mistake. Clearly the Bible is 100% accurate about the presence of these gates.

    Leviticus 11:5-6 – Coneys do not chew the cud.

    http://www.tektonics.org/af/cudchewers.html

    So, when the Bible is invariably “chews the cud”, it literally means “swallows its fæces whole”, and is therefore literally true? Why are coneys unclean because they “chew the cud” but don’t have cloven hooves? What animal with cloven hooves “chews the cud” (by this definition)? How does it make sense to contrast it with pigs being unclean because they have cloven hooves but don’t “chew the cud”?

    Ezekiel 26 – Tyre has been continuously occupied since before the OT was written, and is currently the fourth largest city in the Middle East.

    In 586 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon besieged the city of Tyre. For thirteen years, Nebuchadnezzar held Tyre captive. Then the Phoenicians, using their seafaring skills, moved their city to a small island one half mile out in the Mediterranean Sea and escaping Nebuchadnezzar. The city of Tyre was abandoned.

    In 322 B.C. Alexander the Great conquered the coastal cities of the Mediterranean Sea. He forced his captives to wage war against the new city of Tyre in constant waves from the sea. Alexander grew tired of the slow progress the war making, and ordered that the old city of Tyre, the original city abandoned by the Phoenicians, to be torn down, and thrown into the sea to make a causeway, or road, wide enough for two chariots, so the war could progress. Every building was torn down and thrown into the sea to build this road. When the entire city was torn down, the causeway was still unable to reach the new city of Tyre, so Alexander ordered that the ground be scraped to the bedrock to provide the material needed to finish the road. He then marched his army over the new road and defeated the Phoenicians, and then destroyed their new city.

    Today the city that Ezekiel prophesied against is a large bare rock. For hundreds of years it has been a place where fishermen spread their nets. The building materials from the ancient city of Tyre are clearly seen in the water off the cost. Part of the causeway can be seen to this day.

    This is what we call a “lie”. The city that Ezekiel prohesised against consisted of a mainland area and an island later linked to it by a narrow causeway. Today, that causeway has grown so wide that it’s very difficult to tell where the old coast used to be. The island has been (part of) a thriving city continuously since this prophecy was written. Any attempts to claim otherwise are mendacious. Wikipedia tells us that “The location of the city of Tyre is not in doubt, for it exists to this day on the same spot and is known as Sur.” and “Josephus even records [the mainland and island parts of the city] fighting against each other, although most of the time they supported one another due to the island city’s wealth from maritime trade and the mainland area’s source of timber, water and burial grounds.” Josephus was after Ezekiel, right?

    How the history of Tyre doesn’t match the prophecies.

    1 Kings 7:23 – π does not equal three.

    Sorry I can’t include the actual Hebrew here, so I’ll just use English letters in brackets.
    In this case the word for circumference=”line” (IP in Hebrew)
    But in this verse “line” is written with an extra letter. (nIP)

    Since Hebrew has no digits, all letters are also numbers, we can take the ratio of (the gematriacal value of) the unusual word form (nIP) to the regular word form (IP). Given that the gematrial letter values are P=100, I=6, and n=5 we find that:

    n + I + P = 5 + 6 + 100 = 111
    I + P = 6 + 100 = 106
    111/106 = 1.0471698

    3 (False number for PI) multiplied by 1.0471698 (Ratio) = 3.14150943…

    The real value: PI=3.1415926…

    The difference between 3 x 111/106 and PI is 0.0000832 which is only an error of 0.00026%.

    Ah, you need to use the super-secret Bible decoding ring to turn 3 into π. Unfortunately, I never got issured one of those. You may want to have a look at the links here, though, if you want to find π encoded there without having to resort to misspellings which may or may not have been in the original (and non-surviving) Hebrew text.

    Job 39:13-16 – Ostriches are very attentive parents.

    http://www.tektonics.org/lp/ostrich.html

    I’ll grant you this one.

    Mark 4:31-32 – Mustard is neither the largest plant, nor has the smallest seeds.

    Jesus was not comparing the mustard seed to all other seeds in the world, but to seeds that a local, Palestinian farmer might have “sowed in his field,” i.e., a key qualifying phrase in verse 31. And it’s absolutely true that the black mustard seed (Brassica nigra = Sinapis nigra) was the smallest seed ever sown by a first-century farmer in that part of the world.

    It’s also true, as many modern-day encyclopedias will tell you, that the black mustard seed in Israel will typically grow to heights of 3.7 meters, or twelve (12) feet) — plenty large enough to hold a bird nest.

    No, marijuana has smaller seeds, and is known to have been farmed in the area for at least a thousand years before Jesus.

    Matthew 23:36 – Jesus’ second coming did not happen within a generation.

    This verse is not referring at all to the second coming of Jesus.

    Matthew 23:33-36
    “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? Therefore I am sending you prophets and wise men and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town. And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. I tell you the truth, all this will come upon this generation.”

    OK. Did that happen? Which “wise men and teachers” were “killed and crucified” within 25 years of Jesus’ death? Who was flogged in the synagogues? Why did no-one notice that they were covered with “all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth“? You’d think that the dry cleaners, at least, would have commented on that.

    In short, even if this is not about the end of the world (and I remain convinced that it is – cf Matt 16:28, Matt 26:64, Mark 9:1, Mark 13:30, Mark 14:62, Luke 9:27, Luke 21:32, John 5:25, John 21:22), then it’s still clearly a failed prophecy.

  253. #254 Lee
    July 12, 2006

    It’s about political rather than religious persuasion, but this cognitive scientist’s blog includes links which are probably pertinent:
    Hot Cognition Is Back in the Blogosophere

    Thanks thwaite. I think this starts down the road I was after.

  254. #255 PZ Myers
    July 12, 2006

    I’ll have you know that I am not balding. Not that there’s anything wrong with losing one’s hair, or that I might not someday be bald, but there’s no sign of it yet.

  255. #256 Steve_C
    July 12, 2006

    It’s the Demented Fuckwit Network

    http://www.worldviewweekend.com/secure/cwnetwork/

  256. #257 monstruoso
    July 12, 2006

    Brisance. I love learning a new cool word.

    The trouble with debating an irrational issue is that it is a waste of effort and time.. someone who believes he is Napoleon, with some native intelligence, makes perfect sense within the rubric of his dementia. All holes are covered, all ends are neatly tied, there is always some screed or pamphlet to hand out, and the insane one has had all the time in the world to perfect the armor clothing his argument.

    It is the person attempting to debate the erstwhile Emperor who is in danger of feeling creeping dementia in pure despairing frustration.

    Nah, better to say, “ya know, you are in fact a demented fuckwit”.

    Being polite and ladylike will only give the discussion a validation it does not deserve. A good anglo saxon epithet does wonders, like a bracing shot of cold clear water to the face.

  257. #258 Alexander Vargas
    July 12, 2006

    “Why should Americans be getting more desperate and therefore more religious, but not the French or the Germans”

    Europe has its share of social crisis, despair, and therefore, extremism. Racism and neonazism has become increasingly conspicuous and unapologetic.

    “or Mexicans, or Moroccans?”

    Their problem right now is to overcome poverty. Their crisis is real, but it is entirely different from yours. Their curent despair would stop in fulfilling some basic human needs. The goal is clear, and as they make progress, they will feel increasingly satisfied and confident in the world an their own human capacities. The contrary to despair. Alas, times like that don’t last forever, either.

    “I think the increase in religious fundamentalism in the US has something to do with the fact that Americans have a tendency to megalomania what with being “God’s chosen country”, playing the world sheriff and so on.”

    Certainly so. But Europeans latch onto that too. Plenty greatly admire the unity and ambition of this megalomany. They try to be part of the same thing. Therefore they send troops to Irak. UK, Italy, Netherlands. Religion is used as a banner, much like democracy, freedom, etc. to provide glue and momentum.The real issue is you need a well-defined “entity” to keep the money and weapons together that are necessary to attempt the control of the world.

    “Religious belief is a type of megalomania itself. The necessity to believe in a greater power and an afterlife results from an absurd overestimation of one’s own importance for the world.”

    Very debatable. There are lots of ways of ego tripping, not “specially religion”. True Christianity in fact is all about the NON importance, the helplessnes of man. You see, true conversion is in first place to acknowledge that you are helpless, and therefore accept that only Jesus can save. Isn’t this so, M Petersen?

    Now, about you, M Petersen, I won’t send you to check links, and you won’t either, OK? Let’s talk, its way better than handing out pamphlets.
    I think it is plain that you did NOT give Chance a satisfactory answer to his sun rising question. I think he was right on the money when he told you you’re expectin a big prize for nothing.

    Do you need science and reason to believe in god? This is to admit that science and reason COULD disprove god. So what if some line of evidence seemed to disprove just one aspect of the bible, as you have (quite uncautiously) demanded. Would you really consider it? Or would it just “have” to be wrong??? Be sincere, do not be fake to yourself on this question.

    Its kind of funny. Like all this bible ode thing. The claim is the “mathematic result” is god exists. So if that wasn’t the result, you would cease to belive? What kind of faith is this? None to be rewarded, for sure.

    I’d much rather you acknowledged that faith is a profound personal choice and that other people are not forced to have faith. If you say faith is the only “rational” thing or “scientifically proven” you imply we are forced to have faith or be irrational. And I’m sure that choice is involved, and that this choice is only true and virtuous if you acknowlege you were not forced into it.

    Let’s say everything in the bible is true. That’s fine. It still does not hold the key to developing modern physics, and it provides us with no means whatsoever to understand the evolution of life on earth. Its just not scientifically intended.

    I’m a historian of life on earth, MP. I’m a paleobiologist. I live close to the fossil , the embryo, and the mutant. When you tell me you are not convinced of evolution, its just like you telling a biographer of Franklin that you are not convinced the man existed. Only worse, because lots of christians try to make evolution look absurd so that they may say “there is no rational choice” but supernatural intervention, an thus “rationally justify ” well….”faith”. And expect a big prize.

    Which is simply not to understand well neither science, nor faith.

  258. #259 Keith Douglas
    July 12, 2006

    About the stuff about despair, it is important to realize that religious fervor and fundamentalism seems to increase in times of increasing socioeconomic misery, which is certainly true of much of the US at the present time. (Real wages have at best stagnated for working class Americans, at least, for the past 30 or so years.) There’s a reason Marx spoke about the opium of the people.

    Steve_C: See above – Catholicism is in decline, at least in Europe and North America, but the fundies are not. Note also that the Catholic church, at least at the top, has also become more fundy, or so it appears, with Ratzinger being elected pope and all.

    roger: Ask him to justify his assertion, or alternatively (and probably worse to begin with), ask him what “outside the universe” means.

    T_U_T: At least a DVD player can provide many hours of intelligent or at least humourous entertainment … this guy … I don’t know …

  259. #260 Steve_C
    July 12, 2006

    http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_prac2.htm

    I found this site with statistics on religion in the U.S.

    A USA Today/Gallup Poll in 2002-JAN showed that almost half of American adults appear to be alienated from organized religion. If current trends continue, most adults will not call themselves religious within a few years. Results include:

    About 50% consider themselves religious (down from 54% in 1999-DEC)
    About 33% consider themselves “spiritual but not religious” (up from 30%)
    About 10% regard themselves as neither spiritual or religious.

    From 1972 to 1993, the General Social Survey of the National Opinion Research Center found that Protestants constituted about 63% of the population. This declined to 52% in 2002. Protestants are expected to slip to a minority position between 2004 and 2006. 11 “Respondents were defined as Protestant if they said they were members of a Protestant denomination, such as Episcopal Church or Southern Baptist Convention. The category included members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and members of independent Protestant churches.” However, the data may be deceiving. Some subjects simply reported themselves as “Christians” and were not counted as Protestants since they were not affiliated with a Protestant denomination.

  260. #261 T_U_T
    July 12, 2006

    it depends on the DVD… This player got a crappy one, and the eject button seems to be malfunctioning too..

  261. #262 Alexander Vargas
    July 12, 2006

    Yeah, well, Stevie, I will be more impressed when you get yourself a president that is not a christian-banner imperialist. Until then, up and downs in faith or Bush’s popularity is no reassurance that the christian revolution will fade away. And if it takes true hold, we will have it around for a long, long, time…
    Remember, in other transitional times of crisis in history, things have temprarily swayed to and for before settling on this way or the other.

  262. #263 M Petersen
    July 12, 2006

    Steve_C: Thanks for the links. I’ll look into them.

    Paul: I hope you’re not looking for me to write a book in response to this guy.

    How do we know, for sure, that God does not answer prayers? As described in section 1, we simply pray and watch what happens. What we find is that nothing happens. No matter how many people pray, no matter how often they pray, no matter how sincerely they pray, no matter how worthy the prayer, nothing ever happens. If we pray for anything that is impossible — for example, regenerating an amputated limb or moving Mt. Everest to Newark, NJ — it never happens. We all know that. If we pray for anything that is possible, the results of the prayer will unfold in exact accord with the normal laws of probability. In every situation where we statistically analyze the effects of prayers, looking at both the success AND the failure of prayer, we find that prayer has zero effect. Prayers for amputees never work. Medical prayers never work. Prayers for “good people” never work. Battlefield prayers never work. That happens, always, because God is imaginary. Every time a Christian says, “The Lord answered my prayer,” what we are seeing instead is a simple coincidence or the natural effects of self-talk. Christians never discuss failed prayers, but if we look at all the prayers that fail as well as the prayers that work, a statistical analysis proves that God does not answer prayers. See section 1 for details.

    The author leaves out the most important part of prayer which is to pray in God’s will. Jesus did not say that we would get anything that we asked for as the site implies. He said for us to pray that God’s will be done. In the garden, Jesus prayed to be released from His hour of suffering, but only if it was the Father’s will. “Not my will but Thine”, Jesus prayed. So, the amputee may pray for God to grow His limbs back, and He may pray, “Not my will but Thine”. The Will of God will answer this prayer, and the answer will be “Yes, No, or Not Now”, but ALL prayer is answered.

    Suffering serves a purpose. Without suffering, we would not know compassion. God could end suffering in a nano second if He chose. However, in order to end suffering, God would have to bring order to the chaos. To bring order, God would have to judge the world. God delays His judgement, and allows suffering to continue so that more of us might be brought back to Him. In God’s infinite wisdom, He chooses to allow some to suffer, even ALL to suffer rather than end it while souls still may be saved. It will end. There is an appointed hour and when that day comes, God will right every wrong, and suffering and evil will not come again.

    As for miracles, the greatest miracle has already been performed. If you do not believe in the miracle of Jesus Christ, why would you believe in a leg that is grown back?

    With eyes of faith, you will see miracles on a daily basis. Without faith, you wouldn’t recognize a miracle if it hit you over the head. You would think, “There must be a logical explanation!”

    For example, Joni Ericson Estrada (I think this is her name. I didn’t look it up) is a pretty famous quad. She was a young woman who had her entire life before her. She was in a serious diving accident and became paralysed from the neck down. At first she was very bitter, and she prayed to be healed. God did not heal her. His purpose for her included this tragedy, and through her suffering, many others have been helped. This woman has spent her entire life helping others, telling them about God, and helping other victims of accidents like this to overcome the depression and dispair that they all share.

    If God healed everyone from every bad circumstance, both physical and mental, how would we learn, how would we grow? Suffering teaches us compassion and above all, it makes us strong. Can you imagine a world in which no one had to care about anyone else because God would “fix” every situation and every problem?

  263. #264 Narc
    July 12, 2006

    I cannot believe that there are millions of impersonal gods out there…

    I don’t see how your inability to believe places any constraints on the universe to exist in a way that is consistent with what you do believe.

    I’m sure there are plenty of others that cannot believe that this huge and wonderous and complicated universe was created by just a single deity. Why are you right and they wrong?

  264. #265 Alexander Vargas
    July 12, 2006

    I’m hoping you won’t deny me a answer, M Peterson, because the problem is indeed very serious.

  265. #266 Judy L., Toronto
    July 12, 2006

    I for one am looking foward to being “left behind”. Nothing like a nice little rapture to sweep the planet clean of demented fuckwits. In my fantasy post-rapture world, fundies of all varieties have disappeared quietly, and those of us who’ve been left behind are finally able to get on with the task of trying to repair the destruction to the world’s environment and climate, switching to more viable forms of energy, forging ahead with stem cell research to better understand and find treatments for disease, and promoting education, human rights, fair trade, and sexual and intellectual freedom for all [and multiple husbands for me – remember, it’s my fantasy].

    The biggest part of the fantasy is where all the remaining athiest and secular folk realize they have to put aside their own petty squabbles and endless bickering and get organized in order to get things done and create communities — perhaps if we could do this now we would have a better, healthier defence against the rising tide of fanatacism and extremism.

  266. #267 roger
    July 12, 2006

    From Keith Douglas: Ask him to justify his assertion, or alternatively (and probably worse to begin with), ask him what “outside the universe” means.

    “outside the universe” of course means “God did it”.

    I asked him why does he think DNA came from outside the universe. The creationist replied:

    “Information Theory and Logic. If the universe is incapable of generating the required information, then it must come from outside the universe. If I were to win the lottery, people would be envious but not begrudge me my winnings. However, if I were to win the lottery 50 weeks in a row, they would rightfully suspect something really fishy going on. No one would be doing the hard work of science to demonstrate my innocence. On the contrary, science would condemn me. Likewise, for the universe to produce the information required to build a single enzyme is the Information Theory equivalent of me winning the lottery 50 weeks in a row. The science has been done. It can’t happen. To say that it did because we’re obviously here is circular logic.”

    I asked him where he got all this nonsense, but I got no reply, but he did thank me for the talkorigins link paleotn provided.

    Earlier, when I told the creationist his miracle beliefs require throwing reality out the window, he replied “No, but it does require you expand your concept of reality; one must think outside the universe.”

    So this creationist wants to change the definition of reality to accommodate his “God did it” beliefs.

  267. #268 Alexander Vargas
    July 12, 2006

    All of you “Demented Fuckwit” strategists: You are no better than rapturists, because you propose no true solution. You just want to take the comfortable self righteous corner and insult from there. Veeery helpful , guys. I know you like to feel you are just right, but that won’t make the world adjust to you.
    Time to start thinking on some REAL solution, guys. Insulting is no strategy at all, it is just comfortable and veeery, veeery stupid.

  268. #269 Steve_C
    July 12, 2006

    You can’t SOLVE ignorance.
    You can call it out and ridicule it.

    AV: They talk crazy and you want to debate, coddle or ignore them.

    That won’t work at all.

  269. #270 speedwell
    July 12, 2006

    The probability of something happening that can, in fact, be shown to have happened is, um, 1, right? And all those arguments that whine about the “astronomically low” probability of this or that existing thing in the universe are bogus? Thought so.

  270. #271 M Petersen
    July 12, 2006

    I think it is plain that you did NOT give Chance a satisfactory answer to his sun rising question. I think he was right on the money when he told you you’re expectin a big prize for nothing.

    The problem is that even though it is obvious, people choose not to believe. People will always find ways to not believe if that’s what they decide – even if there was an infallable scientific or mathematical proof out there.

    Do you need science and reason to believe in god? This is to admit that science and reason COULD disprove god.

    You need faith to believe in God. Science cannot prove or disprove the existence of God. But reason can most certainly point you to God. And since His existence cannot be proven, that’s where the faith choice comes in. Are we not saying the same thing here?

    So what if some line of evidence seemed to disprove just one aspect of the bible, as you have (quite uncautiously) demanded. Would you really consider it? Or would it just “have” to be wrong??? Be sincere, do not be fake to yourself on this question.

    Well there’s a big difference between seeming to disprove and actually disproving. I would consider all evidence for and against. I understand the underlying bias you’re getting at here.

    Its kind of funny. Like all this bible ode thing. The claim is the “mathematic result” is god exists. So if that wasn’t the result, you would cease to belive? What kind of faith is this? None to be rewarded, for sure.

    Um, I don’t believe I ever claimed that math could prove god exists. We already know that in a very real sense mathematics is “incomplete.” Kurt Gödel showed in 1931 that no system of mathematical logic was complete in the sense that it could be self-contained, consistent, and complete. The statement of his theorem, taken from Wikipedia, is:

    For any formal theory in which basic arithmetical facts are provable, it is possible to construct an arithmetical statement which, if the theory is consistent, is true but not provable or refutable in the theory.

    I’d much rather you acknowledged that faith is a profound personal choice and that other people are not forced to have faith. If you say faith is the only “rational” thing or “scientifically proven” you imply we are forced to have faith or be irrational. And I’m sure that choice is involved, and that this choice is only true and virtuous if you acknowlege you were not forced into it.

    I do acknowledge that faith is a choice. It is not the ONLY rational thing, but it is rational along with other beliefs. Other beliefs (not just religion) being rational however, does not make it true, and truth is not relative.

    Let’s say everything in the bible is true. That’s fine. It still does not hold the key to developing modern physics, and it provides us with no means whatsoever to understand the evolution of life on earth. Its just not scientifically intended.

    Indeed.

    I’m a historian of life on earth, MP. I’m a paleobiologist. I live close to the fossil , the embryo, and the mutant. When you tell me you are not convinced of evolution, its just like you telling a biographer of Franklin that you are not convinced the man existed. Only worse, because lots of christians try to make evolution look absurd so that they may say “there is no rational choice” but supernatural intervention, an thus “rationally justify ” well….”faith”. And expect a big prize.

    I would say it takes faith to believe in evolution as well. I do not try to make evolution look absurd, I follow it with interest, and I consider the evidence, but I’m not convinced. All knowledge is provisional and subject to experimental test. Experiments can only find defects in theories and never “prove” them correct. Theories become “laws” through an accumulation of evidence. There are known limitations to what is provable and evolution does not fall in the provable category.

  271. #272 paleotn
    July 12, 2006

    Peterson wrote….”In much the same way some claim Christians are unwilling to support their beliefs with actual fact, some of you seem unwilling to bother looking into it for yourselves.”

    Bother looking into it? Good freaking god man, I was born deep in the heart of southern baptistism. Taken to church every time the door opened from the time I was an infant. “Saved” and baptized at 7. Brother to an ex-southern baptist pastor, who left the church entirely after the moderates verses DEMENTED FUCKWITS fights in the 80’s and 90’s. Uncle to a current southern baptist minister who fits into the DEMENTED FUCKWIT mold and knows well my feelings on that subject.

    Churched twice every Sunday and every Wednesday night. RA’s and youth groups. Discipleship training. As a teen, mission trips in the summer and visitation on Tuesday nights to con others into our own spiritual delusions.

    Take it on good authority, outside of the dogma, the whole house of cards falls apart. The contradictions absolutely destroy it and for good reason. It has absolutely no basis in reality. Its all just spooky fairy tales. The vast majority of the folks I knew in the faith were good, honest people who simply don’t know any better or don’t WANT to know any better. Sad really. But the facts remain. Jesus is dead if he ever existed at all. If he did, he was likely a bastard son to who knows who. A 1st century death cult grew up based upon rumors and wild tales of his supposed life. How original is that? It is a death cult meant simply to appease a genocidal god who makes Hitler, Stalin and Slobodan Milosevic look like the three blind mice. He’s an evil bastard I’d not serve even if he were real.

  272. #273 Will E.
    July 12, 2006

    “Experiments can only find defects in theories and never “prove” them correct. Theories become “laws” through an accumulation of evidence. There are known limitations to what is provable and evolution does not fall in the provable category.”

    Oh, shit. Now you’ve done it.

  273. #274 speedwell
    July 12, 2006

    Petersen, you halfwit, if the Christian God didn’t invent suffering and weakness in the first place… if He didn’t plan for it in his Grand Design… if he didn’t know from Day Minus Infinity what we were going to do with our so-called “free will” and then go ahead and set things up that way anyway… if he didn’t create Satan… we would presumably have no sin, no death, and no Hell.

    As presumably morally responsible individuals we have the moral responsibilty to call bullshit on God.

    I simply can’t understand how you can stand there and argue that the Christian God is in any way worthy of anything but our contempt. Maybe it’s kinder and more compassionate if we just say He doesn’t exist. Because if he did exist, any virtuous and decent man would automatically be his enemy just by reason of his virtue and decency.

  274. #275 M Petersen
    July 12, 2006

    The contradictions absolutely destroy it and for good reason. It has absolutely no basis in reality. Its all just spooky fairy tales. The vast majority of the folks I knew in the faith were good, honest people who simply don’t know any better or don’t WANT to know any better. Sad really. But the facts remain. Jesus is dead if he ever existed at all. If he did, he was likely a bastard son to who knows who. A 1st century death cult grew up based upon rumors and wild tales of his supposed life.

    Ok, so now I get to say … You make the assertion, now prove it.

  275. #276 Alexander Vargas
    July 12, 2006

    The “humiliation” idea is rotten at the root. Totally naïve. Where is the public? and who cares?
    And if there IS an unbiased public, who says they should take the side of the insulter and make the insulted feel laughed at? That’s juts crazy.
    In fact most people will take sides with the calm, even if he is wrong.

    See, Stevie, people KNOW that they can be wrong, but they do not want to be insulted for it if caught in error. Anyone has the right to make mistakes and not be insulted for it. This is why RESPECT COMES FIRST. Even if you are absolutelty right. This is what PZ and several don’t understand. They think “being right” comes first, and respect is not important. But all you achieve with insulting is tainting what is true in your message with sadistic agressivenes and irrational contamination.

    Insulting is comfortable, self righteous and totally useless. I do not ignore them if I talk to them. If I insult them, then I truly ignore them, cause I just shoo them away and think that doing so they actually evaporate into thin air.

  276. #277 paleotn
    July 12, 2006

    Peterson scribbled….

    “But reason can most certainly point you to God. And since His existence cannot be proven, that’s where the faith choice comes in.”

    Faith in WHICH farking god, man? Shiva, Allah, Zeus, Oden? There’s literally thousands upon thousands to chose from. Reason, without evidence can point you to any one of them. Since you dragged mathmatics into this, given the number of eligible gods, the odds of your god being the real god are……not terribly good. You would probably do better to ditch this religious stuff and head for Las Vegas.

  277. #278 Steve_C
    July 12, 2006

    MPETE:

    Why do zebras have stripes?

    Why do giraffes have long necks?

    Why do dolphins have blow holes?

    How old (approximately) is the earth?

  278. #279 ifriit
    July 12, 2006

    M Petersen wrote:

    So, the amputee may pray for God to grow His limbs back, and He may pray, “Not my will but Thine”. The Will of God will answer this prayer, and the answer will be “Yes, No, or Not Now”, but ALL prayer is answered.

    It never ceases to amaze me how we’re told to expect the results of prayer to look exactly the same as if there were no entity on the other end paying attention, yet it somehow serves a purpose and works!

  279. #280 speedwell
    July 12, 2006

    Vargas, some things are simply not worthy of respect, don’t you see? The proper response to stepping in poo is a cry of disgust. The proper response to someone hitting you in the face is to scream in pain. The proper response to someone spouting demeted fuckwadness to you is to reject them in no uncertain terms, communicating to them exactly how you feel about their dangerous nonsense.

  280. #281 Will E.
    July 12, 2006

    “Ok, so now I get to say … You make the assertion, now prove it.”

    That’s not the assertion. That’s our answer to *your* assertions.

    The ancient world is full of stories virgin births, sons of gods, dying & resurrected gods, fathers and sons, floods and wise men and prophets and doom-saying. The point is, there is not one reason why we should accept the Xian (or Jewish or Muslim or Zoroastrian) version over any other. Can we *prove* that those things didn’t happen? Not exactly. But it’s a reasonable conclusion to an unreasonable set of claims.

  281. #282 Steve_C
    July 12, 2006

    I wish we could all be this rational and clear.

    http://onegoodmove.org/1gm/1gmarchive/2006/07/faith_and_reaso.html

    But if he was sitting next to Ann Coulter in an on air interview…
    would he even get a word in? I don’t think he would even get worked up.

  282. #283 Squeaky
    July 12, 2006

    Vargas is right–it is entirely possible to tell someone they are absolutely wrong without also calling them names. This DF solution is a school yard bully tactic. I can’t even believe intelligent people are trying to defend it. You may not realize it, but your tactics are the mirror image of religious fundamentalists. The only difference I see between you and them is the rhetoric. If you want to be like them, fine. I’m astonished you don’t prefer to take the intellectual high road.

    I don’t buy all this “it’s time to express our anger” business. Fine. Express your anger. But can’t you express it without resorting to insults? Martin Luther King expressed his anger in a decidedly peaceful manner against all manner of irrationality.

    As for the discussion with MPete. Most of you disagree with him. But note this–he has always been respectful, never called anyone a name, never insulted anyone’s intelligence. Now look at the responses to his posts. Look at Chance and Vargas–they were able to express their disagreement without insulting. Many others, however, resorted to calling him names. Again, what, are you 5? I have said this before in other threads–if you have to resort to insults, you look very much like you are the one who is backed into the corner. It looks like that is all you have left to offer. And it looks like you are wrong. If you were watching a debate, and instead of addressing a point, one of the debaters lets loose a string of insults at their opponent, wouldn’t you think “this person has no intelligent response.” Who would you think won the debate?

    You can argue “we can’t reason with unreasonable people.” So what? It’s the people observing the exchange that need to hear reasoned responses. Who cares if you don’t convince the converted? But don’t turn off those people who actually want to hear REASON. It’s for them that you don’t want to resort to this “insult the idiots” campaign, It may be satisfying to fling such vitriol, but to the observer, you look like the loser in the argument.

    Sheesh, people. Again, I can’t believe intelligent people are advocating this as a reasonable way to refute someone’s irrational opinion.

  283. #284 paleotn
    July 12, 2006

    Peterson retorted…..

    “Ok, so now I get to say … You make the assertion, now prove it.”

    My assertions are simply based upon the tangible facts at hand. Outside of Josephus, no contemporary writer even mentions Jesus. And even Josephus only repeats the rumors on which the death cult is based. Slaughter of the innocents in Bethlehem and no record to support the biblical tale. Surely, someone somewhere would have recorded such an atrocity. Those long dead rose again to life at the time of Jesus actual death and no one else in Jerusalem at the time bothered to record such a momentous occasion. A man feeds thousands with a few loaves and fishes. No supporting evidence anywhere to be found outside of the bible. Shall I go on?

  284. #285 M Petersen
    July 12, 2006

    Steve_C: To be honest, I really haven’t given much thought as to the answers of your animal questions. Is there some profound reason that would make me need to know the answers?

    How old (approximately) is the earth? I’m not sure. As R.H. Brown said in a young-Earth creationist journal Origins ( Brown 1992 ) while critiquing “The Age of the Earth” by Dalrymple, G. Brent, 1991:

    “Dalrymple makes a good case for an age of about 4.5 billion years for the material of which the Earth, Moon, and meteorites are composed. […] His treatment in The Age of the Earth has made it much more difficult to plausibly explain radiometric data on the basis of a creation of the entire Solar System, or the physical matter in planet Earth, within the last few thousand years. In my opinion, the defense of such a position is a losing battle.”

    It could be young, it could be old. Some interpretations of Genesis allow the Earth to be old. Either way, it has little affect on my belief.

  285. #286 speedwell
    July 12, 2006

    Squeaky, if you really can’t tell the difference between us and the dangerous delusionals, I strongly suggest you examine the arguments and the evidence. You’re arguing ad hominem, trying to conflate the behavior of the arguer with the substance of the argument. Doesn’t work that way; ad hominem is the best-known of the well-known fallacies.

  286. #287 Steve Watson
    July 12, 2006

    Peterson wrote….”In much the same way some claim Christians are unwilling to support their beliefs with actual fact, some of you seem unwilling to bother looking into it for yourselves.”
    Bother looking into it? Good freaking god man, I was born deep in the heart of southern baptistism.

    Likewise, here. Not born into it — teenage convert, born again, baptized, Bible studies, prayer meetings, Scripture memorization, even briefly considered going into the ministry. Did dorm evangelism with the Navigators during Uni years. Could quote all the usual apologetics — C.S.Lewis, the Trilemma, etc, backwards and forwards. 30 years ago I would be the one making some of MP’s arguments, not trashing them (never did swallow Creationism, though. I wasn’t that stupid).

    Then I graduated, settled down in the Real World — and had time to think. Within a few years, I’d joined a liberal church where all that crap wasn’t so important. Eventually, I became an atheist.

    paleotn: folks like you and I are MP’s worst nightmare — fundies who threw the whole thing over, and found that, hey, the water’s fine!

  287. #288 speedwell
    July 12, 2006

    Is there some profound reason that would make me need to know the answers?

    There’s a little thing called Truth that it would pay you to make the acquaintance of someday, when you’re quite finished waving your hand at all that irrelevant nonsense. Some of us are active seekers of it out there in the reality you’re rejected when you stuck your nose deep in the pages of a “holy” book written by strangers with bones to pick.

    Either way, it has little affect [sic] on my belief.

    To hear that the truth has little effect on your belief comes as positively no surprise to most of us.

  288. #289 M Petersen
    July 12, 2006

    My assertions are simply based upon the tangible facts at hand. Outside of Josephus, no contemporary writer even mentions Jesus. And even Josephus only repeats the rumors on which the death cult is based. Slaughter of the innocents in Bethlehem and no record to support the biblical tale. Surely, someone somewhere would have recorded such an atrocity. Those long dead rose again to life at the time of Jesus actual death and no one else in Jerusalem at the time bothered to record such a momentous occasion. A man feeds thousands with a few loaves and fishes. No supporting evidence anywhere to be found outside of the bible. Shall I go on?

    In case you forgot, your assertions were:

    But the facts remain. Jesus is dead if he ever existed at all. If he did, he was likely a bastard son to who knows who. A 1st century death cult grew up based upon rumors and wild tales of his supposed life

    I would assume these “facts” have proof somewhere? I only think it fair to use the same criteria that have been used on my statements. Or is there some “get out of proof free” card I don’t know about?

  289. #290 Steve_C
    July 12, 2006

    We know why MPETE.

    Evolution and natural selection over hundreds of thousands if not millions of years.

    The universe is billions of years old.

    If you can’t accept any of that… why bother even talking.

    This isn’t about philosophy. It’s about reality.

  290. #291 Robyn B.
    July 12, 2006

    Personally, I’m looking forward to some Fafblog style End Times:

    ” “I always used to figure God would show up at the end a the world an beam me up to Raptureland in his magical funk-powered mothership,” says me. “But that was before he got eaten by Supergod.”
    “Serves him right!” says Giblets. “If God wanted to go to heaven he should’ve accepted Metajesus as his personal lord and savior.” ”

    Besides, I can’t think of many people who’d be in Raptureland that I’d feel like talking with. What’s the point of getting beamed up on the Jesus ship if I can’t meet Wittgenstein while I’m there?

    What I cannot understand about Christians is the leap from belief in this Yahweh of theirs to the desire to get other people to believe the same thing. It seems to demonstrate an alarming lack of confidence in their own product, shouldn’t god be able to sell himself? Pardon my snark, but I’m serious. There’s nothing wrong with someone like M. Petersen believing Jesus dies for his sins, but can’t believers be satisfied with settling their own question of salvation, and leave it to Jehovah to gather up the rest?

    Many people are simply not interested in the question of gods, and I wish that more religious people could have the restraint to respect that. Evangelists could learn a great deal from the religions which are forbidden to do so.

  291. #292 M Petersen
    July 12, 2006

    Steve Watson: Hey, you are your own person with the freedom to choose whatever you wish. It’s sad to hear, but not entirely surprising.
    As you probably already know, I Timothy 4:1-3 “But the spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons. By means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth.”

    speedwell: Thanks for catching my typo. I am quite aware of the fact that there is Truth. Truth has a huge impact on my life. My question was what effect does knowing the answer to why zebras have stripes have on my life whatsoever. It’s really not a pressing issue for me right now. If the earth is old (which it most likely is), I will still believe in God and the Bible remains true — and the same goes if it is young.

    Steve_C: I can accept either premise, old or young, I just haven’t yet. As I’ve said before, I like to consider all the evidence I can to make my decision. My current feeling is that it’s probably old. It seems that you’re looking for a fight that doesn’t exist.

  292. #293 speedwell
    July 12, 2006

    Robyn, I can testify to you from my own 35 years of Christianity that Chistians are scared stiff that, if they do not infect the entire world with thir nonsense, they will be punished. Horribly. Forever.

    Make sense now? No, not to me either. That’s one reason why I’m not a Christian anymore.

  293. #294 Alexander Vargas
    July 12, 2006

    I think it is plain that you did NOT give Chance a satisfactory answer to his sun rising question. I think he was right on the money when he told you you’re expectin a big prize for nothing.

    “The problem is that even though it is obvious, people choose not to believe. People will always find ways to not believe if that’s what they decide – even if there was an infallable scientific or mathematical proof out there.”

    And that is the way it should be according to your own words, which I share too: Science cannot prove or disprove the existence of God.

    “But reason can most certainly point you to God. And since His existence cannot be proven, that’s where the faith choice comes in”

    I would say that reason can be used to argue a god, but it is false to say that to believe in god is an unavoidable conclusion according to reason. We agree that the existence of God cannot be proven.

    I said
    “So what if some line of evidence seemed to disprove just one aspect of the bible, as you have (quite incautiously) demanded. Would you really consider it? Or would it just “have” to be wrong??? Be sincere, do not be fake to yourself on this question”
    You said
    “Well there’s a big difference between seeming to disprove and actually disproving. I would consider all evidence for and against. I understand the underlying bias you’re getting at here”.

    It simply follows from what we said before: Science cannot prove or disprove the existence of God.

    “Kurt Gödel showed in 1931 that no system of mathematical logic was complete in the sense that it could be self-contained, consistent, and complete. The statement of his theorem, taken from Wikipedia, is: For any formal theory in which basic arithmetical facts are provable, it is possible to construct an arithmetical statement which, if the theory is consistent, is true but not provable or refutable in the theory.”

    Certainly. But despite being incomplete there are self-contained domains of mathematics where things can be proven in completeness, beyond a doubt and with beautiful, crystal clear coherence. The fact that mathematics itself is used to prove its incompleteness is quite impressive, huh?

    “I do acknowledge that faith is a choice. It is not the ONLY rational thing, but it is rational along with other beliefs. Other beliefs (not just religion) being rational however, does not make it true, and truth is not relative”

    This is a bit paradoxical, isn’t it? If you acknowledge that all these beliefs are rational, and that your choice is not the only rational choice, when you jump to saying your belief is nothing less but the ABSOLUTE TRUTH, you cannot expect others to do the same at face value. Right?

    “I would say it takes faith to believe in evolution as well. I do not try to make evolution look absurd, I follow it with interest, and I consider the evidence, but I’m not convinced. All knowledge is provisional and subject to experimental test. Experiments can only find defects in theories and never “prove” them correct. Theories become “laws” through an accumulation of evidence. There are known limitations to what is provable and evolution does not fall in the provable category”

    Let me correct you here, MP. You are thinking within a narrow, lab-bench definition of science. The difference in the hypothetic-deductive method between the more experimental sciences and the comparative and historical are only superficial. Hypotheses are contrasted against actual observations. Careful observation and comparison are valid too and can prove things beyond reasonable doubt.
    Would you say I need faith to believe Franklin existed, or that continental drift is true? If so, you have convinced yourself into underestimating what we can truly KNOW for wrong epistemological reasons.
    Let me ask you this question. Science is all bout How, about mechansism , explaining experiences through other previously known experiences. What scientific alternative is there for interpreting the history of life on earth, if you exclude common descent?

  294. #295 M Petersen
    July 12, 2006

    Many people are simply not interested in the question of gods, and I wish that more religious people could have the restraint to respect that.

    I respect that people may not be interested. However, this entire thread including the original subject matter has been centered around the Rapture and the apocalypse. Does that not warrant some sort of response?

  295. #296 T_U_T
    July 12, 2006

    How old (approximately) is the earth? I’m not sure.

    So, your point of last contact with reality is somewhere just before ‘age of earth issue’, isn’t it ?

  296. #297 Corey Schlueter
    July 12, 2006

    If the Bible was a straight forward narrative, why do we argue about what it is saying? The Bible was written by man who is fallible and anything done by man is considered to be fallible.

    M. Petersen: Therefore, the Bible can be fallible.It could be young, it could be old. Some interpretations of Genesis allow the Earth to be old. Either way, it has little affect on my belief.

    Then you are saying that the Bible can be fallible and is open to interpretations.

  297. #298 Maitre Alcofribas
    July 12, 2006

    Shorter xtian god:
    Believe in my wacky, implausible, evidence-free fables, even though they’re contradicted by common sense, history, and science, and have parallels in dozens of other dying savior god myths ( I’m the real one; all those others are impostors! Accept no imitations!), or else I’ll torture you for all eternity for unavoidable mistakes made during your little Augenblick of existence. Be sure you don’t get born into the wrong faith community. Oh, and I love you!

    Your god is a sadistic practical joker, if he/she/it exists! At least the Hindus and Buddhists allow for a multitude of lifetimes to get it right.

  298. #299 Carlie
    July 12, 2006

    “He said for us to pray that God’s will be done. … The Will of God will answer this prayer, and the answer will be “Yes, No, or Not Now”, but ALL prayer is answered.”

    Yes, about that – why should we bother to pray that god’s will be done, and then consider it an “answer” when he does whatever he wants? That’s very much the same as claiming that your dog is trained, and proving it by saying “sit if you want to”, and then the dog does… whatever. Sits, stands, pees on your leg. You told him to do whatever he wanted, he did, so he was listening to you!

    And I am also a former fundie – born and raised Southern Baptist, church three times a week, church camp every year, Baptist Student Association in college four times a week. It’s not that we don’t understand the “arguments” for God. It’s not that we haven’t read the Bible or haven’t heard of CS Lewis or haven’t memorized the Romans Road and the ABCs of Salvation and the FAITH tract. It’s not that we simply “haven’t heard the message”. We’ve heard, we understood, and we found it lacking. Quoting the Bible as authority doesn’t work.

  299. #300 jeffw
    July 12, 2006

    “Not my will but Thine”

    That biblical phrase pretty much sums it up. It has mind control written all over it. Subjugation of your free will. I’m sure some televanglist will be happy to tell you what God’s will is. And if the lord is your shephard, what does that make you? Baaaahhh….

  300. #301 paleotn
    July 12, 2006

    Peterson spouted…..

    “I would assume these “facts” have proof somewhere? I only think it fair to use the same criteria that have been used on my statements. Or is there some “get out of proof free” card I don’t know about?”

    Ooooo…Just feeeeeel the love of christ in that little retort. Isn’t anger a sin there Peterson? Shame on you.

    The facts are, no supporting evidence, outside of your dusty book of fables gives any corroborating evidence that Jesus did in fact exist and do all the things listed in the gospels. Josephus merely repeats the rumors. One would expect that some independent source, somewhere would have written down at least some of the real highlights of Jesus’ supposed life. Heck, the Romans wrote down nearly everything. Yet, we have zero, zilch, nada, not one single solitary independent source to corroborate the claims of the gospel writers.

    I mean, seriously, if someone were put to death this day and age and at the exact time of their death graves and tombs opened up and those long dead came back to life, it’s probably safe to assume that someone, somewhere would have written down such a momentous occasion. Yet, for Jesus, there is nothing. If decades later someone told me such a wild tale, depending upon who they were, I would review the available evidence. Since the claims would be so far outside any ordianry human experience and finding no written or oral claims to support said tale independent of the teller, much less any tangible evidence to corroborate the teller’s assertions, any reasonable person would conclude the teller was simply wrong.

    Given the evidence available and lack there of, I am more than confident in my statements as facts and I add to them the fact that you are full of beans.

  301. #302 M Petersen
    July 12, 2006

    This is a bit paradoxical, isn’t it? If you acknowledge that all these beliefs are rational, and that your choice is not the only rational choice, when you jump to saying your belief is nothing less but the ABSOLUTE TRUTH, you cannot expect others to do the same at face value. Right?

    Not really paradoxical, no. Certain circumstances can contribute to people believing in whatever. People thought the Earth was flat, but it wasn’t irrational given the information available. It wasn’t true, but could have been rational. So it comes down to either lack of information or an unwillingness to accept it as true. Does unwillingness make someone irrational? Perhaps, it would depend on the circumstances. I don’t expect everyone to come to the same conclusion I did, because again people make their own decisions.

    What scientific alternative is there for interpreting the history of life on earth, if you exclude common descent?

    Creation and a global flood. What is important is not the source of the idea, but whether the scientific evidence supports it better than any other explanation. Given a starting condition that matter, energy, time, space, and the laws of chemistry and physics exist, creation can still be scientific. Outside that, both evolution and creation could not be considered in the realm of science.

    Biblical creation offers God as an explanation for what was before my aforementioned starting point. What does evolution offer before the Big Bang?

  302. #303 M Petersen
    July 12, 2006

    Robyn, I can testify to you from my own 35 years of Christianity that Chistians are scared stiff that, if they do not infect the entire world with thir nonsense, they will be punished. Horribly. Forever.

    Make sense now? No, not to me either. That’s one reason why I’m not a Christian anymore.

    Who ever said that? That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that.

  303. #304 paleotn
    July 12, 2006

    Steve Watson wrote….

    “folks like you and I are MP’s worst nightmare — fundies who threw the whole thing over, and found that, hey, the water’s fine!”

    Exactly. Gives them a real twist when some of their own come to the obvious conclusion that the whole thing makes no sense. Christianity to me was like having a case of small pox. I survived and now thank goodness I’m inmmune to their tricks and delusions for life.

  304. #305 Maitre Alcofribas
    July 12, 2006

    “Not really paradoxical, no. Certain circumstances can contribute to people believing in whatever. People thought the Earth was flat, but it wasn’t irrational given the information available. It wasn’t true, but could have been rational. So it comes down to either lack of information or an unwillingness to accept it as true. ”

    There IS NO EVIDENCE for your claims, beyond the assertions in the bible. How could any all-loving deity condemn his creatures for not buying wild stories on such flimsy (non)-evidence? I repeat, if it exists, the bastard is a cruel practical joker. The free of my hand to him, and both middle fingers to the (empty) sky. Fuck him.

  305. #306 Alexander Vargas
    July 12, 2006

    Well steve, your interviewed philosopher went farther than I did, he said that shouting insults and calling name should be illegal, you know, stopped by the police and penalized.

    Another thing he said is that reason is not only present in “science”, and that morality can be rational. Which I have already said before too. In line with this I argued that rational advances in humanistic thinking have been achieved within religious contexts.

    And these humanistic teachings, M Petersen, is what is best about religion. The good samaritan. “he who is without sin..” “do unto others…”
    Not so insisting you have found “absolute truth” as justification. Love is all good, but it is of little use to say “we MUST love” as a mere imperative. We need rational formulas as to HOW. Without this kind of rational progress, religion eventually wears out, a mere insistence on being the absolute truth (if it does not become something straightforwardly negative!!!)

    Think about the good samaritan. Despite his “wrong” religion, the samaritan was the only one that did good. His belief was not the one of the “absolute truth”, wasn’t it.
    This story is meant to respect good people beyond their beliefs. It is a RELATIVISTIC story.

    But should not someone pull a donkey out of apit on saturday, or rather resign to “god’s will”?? Are we really that helpless and only can live by absolute imperatives?
    As an islamic saying says “Trust Allah, but don’t forget to tie your camel”

  306. #307 T_U_T
    July 12, 2006

    Creation and a global flood.

    that should be a scientific alternative ?

    Given a starting condition that matter, energy, time, space, and the laws of chemistry and physics exist, creation can still be scientific.

    Go on – write down for us at least a hypothesis of creation( aka Poof! ), but really a scientific one…

    Outside that, both evolution and creation could not be considered in the realm of science.

    And, you should also explain what you mean with that ;-)

  307. #308 Maitre Alcofribas
    July 12, 2006

    Oh, and any heaven that would contain cobags like Shrub, Pat Robertson and that hateful little shitweasel, Tim LaHaye, is not any place that I or any decent person would want to go to.

  308. #309 speedwell
    July 12, 2006

    So, what are you doing here? Masochistic, a bit?

    I seriously doubt it’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever heard. And your Jesus would be a little surprised, I think, if he heard you say he does not threaten to punish those who fail to “bear fruit,” as the phrase has it.

    One more instance of Divine psychopathy:

    Seeing from afar a fig tree having leaves, He went to see if perhaps He would find something on it. When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. In response Jesus said to it, “Let no one eat fruit from you ever again.” And His disciples heard it…. Now in the morning, as they passed by they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. (Matthew, Chapter 11)

    And this:

    He spoke this parable. “A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it, and found none. He said to the vine dresser, ‘Behold, these three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and found none. Cut it down. Why does it waste the soil?’ He answered, ‘Lord, leave it alone this year also, until I dig around it, and fertilize it. If it bears fruit, fine; but if not, after that, you can cut it down.'” (Luke, Chapter 13)

    If you bear no fruit (make no converts), you get cursed, cut down. Seems pretty obvious to me, just as it did to the preachers when I heard them preach on these two passages in church.

  309. #310 Carlie
    July 12, 2006

    “Who ever said that? That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that.”

    I’ll take that one!
    Great Commission, Matthew 28:19-20. 19 being the appropriate part for here, obviously. Perhaps you aren’t in an evangelical denomination, but that’s a huge part of the ones that are. It’s usually paired with James 2, regarding faith without works being dead. If one has faith, one will do what has been commanded, which is preach the good news to all the infidels. If they do not, it is a sure sign that their faith is not true, and therefore they are still going to hell. For not all that say Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of Heaven and all, ya know.

    Trust me, I spent waaaayyy too much time forcing myself to go up and knock on the doors of the unsuspecting (yeah, I did it, I was a teenager, it was the pressure of GOD and the church, people) and bother them because it was “What God wants you to do”, and if I didn’t, I was letting him down and would then have all the guilt associated with the possibility that I wasn’t REALLY saved, because if I was then of course I wouldn’t mind doing like he said and sharing how happy he made me!

    Speedwell simplified and cut corners a bit, but was pretty much spot-on.

  310. #311 Carlie
    July 12, 2006

    Oh, thanks, speedwell – I forgot the fruit parables. There’s also the one with the weeds, Matthew 13. Only the one that bears fruit and creates hundredsfold of harvest is kept.

  311. #312 Alexander Vargas
    July 12, 2006

    It’s all fine, if you want, to say that god is behind biology, orbiting planets, snowflakes and the atom. But it does not help us to understand any of these phenomena in terms of mechanisms. And science is about this. When you explain these phenomenon to fellow scientitst, you mut do it in terms of mechanism and observations that all of them can analize and discuss, regardless of whether they accept your own ideas about whether god is, or is not, behind it.

    So just saying god creates is not very scientifically useful. HOW does he create? Does he follow a recipe step by step, in compliance with physicochemical laws? Then we want to see that recipe becasue there is the REAL scientific explanation.

    Now then, M Petersen, if you say creationby God, it is worse, becasue you have involved
    as part of your “scientific” explanation something we have agreed cannot be proved or disproved by science. Can you expect creation to be considered a “scientific” alternative, then?

    If we know that descent with modification, that organic chnge and variation occurs all the time in biology, and we have the transitional fossils showing how a type of primate became human, as scientists we simply CANNOT chose to ignore descent with modification and introduce several events of special creation of full blown organisms by an unkown mechanism… and assum ethe fossil record only “looks” like evolution!!!

    You ask us to abdicate from the true spirit of science, and to see evidence for the supernatural where there isn’t any, as if jesus just walking on land, rather than water, required for supernatural explanation.

    And then again, M Petersen, would you HAVE to lose your faith if evolution is true? Is that all that it takes?

    Unfortunatley, many creationsist base their faith in denying evolution in favor of creation. A bad practice, that has brought a lot of frustration to honest, hard-working scientists.

  312. #313 Lee
    July 12, 2006

    Squeaky wrote:

    “I can’t believe intelligent people are advocating this as a reasonable way to refute someone’s irrational opinion.”

    As a way of marginalizing someone in the eyes of another, I suppose it is possible that it might work in selected circumstances, but I see no real evidence that the DF approach actually works with the sorts of people that might be motivated by other techniques.

  313. #314 M Petersen
    July 12, 2006

    paleton: I apologize if my comments sounded angry, that was not the intent.

    You may wish to read the following for evidence of Jesus’ existence. There is more evidence Jesus existed than Aristotle, Plato, Odysseus, or Alexander the Great. No serious historian who refute the existence of Jesus of Nazareth.

    1. Meier, John P. – A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus. New York: Doubleday, 1991.

    2. Harris, Murray. “References to Jesus in Early Classical Authors.” Gospel Perspectives: The Jesus Tradition Outside the Gospels. Sheffield: JSOT, 1985.

    3. Harris, Murray. 3 Crucial Questions About Jesus. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1994

    4. Grant, Michale. Jesus: An Historian’s Review of the Gospels. Scribner, 1995.

    4.

  314. #315 speedwell
    July 12, 2006

    If Jesus Christ, identified as identical with the God who created the universe (including fig trees), didn’t know any better than to violently abuse a fig tree for not having fruit when it wasn’t even fig season, it’s no wonder many of his followers exhibit the same sort of biological ignorance. And the same sort of evil violence, too, come to think of it.

  315. #316 Steve_C
    July 12, 2006

    AV: Not quite.

    BILL MOYERS: What brought this festival of writers together on faith and reason is the growing chorus of voices that are calling for the protection of religious sensibilities and sensitivities against offense, against the insult. There’s something going on here. How do you see it?

    COLIN MCGINN: Well, the notion of insult is a slippery one, isn’t it? And does it include criticism? I mean, are you insulting somebody’s religious beliefs if you criticize them?

    BILL MOYERS: Well, the people think that you are.

    COLIN MCGINN: They do think that you are.

    BILL MOYERS: And they want protection for their beliefs.

    COLIN MCGINN: Yeah, that, I think, is wrong. Nobody can have their beliefs protected from rational criticism. If insulting people includes shouting at them and calling them names, that’s very bad behavior. But should it be prohibited by law? Maybe, if it’s very extreme. But if people just want to have their belief system protected from every form of rational scrutiny, I don’t have any sympathy for that. I think there’s got to be a very firm distinction between criticism and persecution. And I think people misunderstand the idea of tolerance often. They think that tolerance is the same thing as lack of criticism. But to me, tolerating somebody else’s beliefs is not failing to criticize them. It’s not persecuting them for having those beliefs. That is absolutely important. You should not persecute people for their beliefs. It doesn’t mean you can’t criticize their beliefs. Those are not the same thing. I think people have tended to sort of run these two things together, and they perceive criticism as if it was persecution. But it isn’t.

    AV:
    These very same people that I would die for to protect their freedom of speech would love to have my godless ass kicked out of the country or worse because they see this country fulfilling a prophecy of the rapture. They can say whatever they want in public, but I’m not going to supress my freedom to criticize it however harshly.

  316. #317 speedwell
    July 12, 2006

    In other words, they think we’re persecuting them anyway just because we disagree with them. Might as well insult them for real, eh? Then they can get their masochistic thrill?

  317. #318 M Petersen
    July 12, 2006

    Carrying on 5 different topics at once it proving to be a little much for me. I apologize if I miss responding to anyone.

  318. #319 M Petersen
    July 12, 2006

    Alexander and T_U_T: I’m going to have to refrain from the evolution debating right now – it’s way too much.

  319. #320 Steve Watson
    July 12, 2006

    OK, which ever one of you was complaining a few comments back about how we’re being so ruuuude to poor M Peterson, while he’s being sooo polite, you can read his last reply to me, and then you can retract:

    Steve Watson: Hey, you are your own person with the freedom to choose whatever you wish. It’s sad to hear, but not entirely surprising.
    As you probably already know, I Timothy 4:1-3 “But the spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons. By means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth.”

    Note that, despite all the “God Is Love” talk, when push comes to shove the venom comes out. Apparently, in MP’s world “evidence” is equivalent to “deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons”, and I’m a liar and a hypocrite for following where it leads. The possibility that MP is just plain wrong is something he cannot even consider — doubt is not an intellectual condition, but a grave moral fault.

    Of course, like any true proof-texter he ignores the second sentence, which clearly indicates St. Paul was probably directing his comments at heretics and Judaizers — ie. not at atheists, but at other religious nutters who happened to be nutty about different things than he was.

    Did I not say — way back in my first comment on this now over-blown thread — that the doctrine of damnation was morally corrupting? Could we ask for a clearer demonstration?

  320. #321 Maitre Alcofribas
    July 12, 2006

    “There is more evidence Jesus existed than Aristotle, Plato, Odysseus, or Alexander the Great. No serious historian who refute the existence of Jesus of Nazareth.”
    Wha??? Aristotle and Plato wrote extensive works, which survive! Jesus did not write his own Gospel, the Jesus stories were committed to papyrus at a minimum half a century after his supposed existence!
    Odysseus was a legendary character; no serious ancient historian that I know of claims the fictional being in the Iliad and Odyssey actually existed as described in those works. There may have been a Bronze Age chieftain of that name who became associated with the much later legends, but that is pure speculation. As for Alexander, there are coins, contemporary inscriptions, independent references in literary works, cities founded by him (Alexandria in Egypt being only the most famous), and copious historical accounts such as that of Arrian, who depended upon contemporary historians (now unfortunately lost). Puh-LEEEZE!

  321. #322 Steve_C
    July 12, 2006

    M Petersen is willing to look at anti-science… the dishonest who say they have proof that’s
    alternative to evolution or even the age of the universe itself.

    That he hasn’t decided one way or another. But he has. He can only accept what supports his worldview that the bible is FACT and infallible. Science and reason are not part of his philisophical make up. He can’t even see where he’s wrong.

    He probably believes that god creates life the moment that a sperm reaches an egg.

    There’s no point. He probably thinks he’s doing something noble by being here.

  322. #323 Alexander Vargas
    July 12, 2006

    Harsh is still OK, Steve, though not very useful. But “Demented fuckwit” actually turns things AGAINST us. Quite plainly. If someone says something demented, the adequate response is not an insult. If you think the person is truly mentally ill (which he might be, emotionally) insulting is not what you do, man. The crazy, the ill ? lets insult them yeah. You guys are great chaps.
    You always tlak like a manic street preacher is the opponent. This is straw man. In real life, you will be in conversation. And you can calmly lift up an eyebrow and say “do you REALLY believe that?”

    An insult is an understandble response only to another insult, and even then it is better to stay quiet. Cause like that, Steve, you WIN. You take the higher ground.

  323. #324 M Petersen
    July 12, 2006

    Bearing “fruit” is the natural evidence of belief. It comes out of faith and love. But bearing fruit is not necessarily saving lives.

    “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” — Galatians 5:22-25

    Christians are commissioned to share with others, right. But it is not a sin to refrain from going door-to-door, and shouting at perfect strangers. God is personal, it’s about relationships, not cold-calling and selling on the street.

  324. #325 speedwell
    July 12, 2006

    “…deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons. By means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created…

    I thought he was talking about Republican anti-gay politicians on the latest low-carb trend diet, myself.

  325. #326 M Petersen
    July 12, 2006

    Note that, despite all the “God Is Love” talk, when push comes to shove the venom comes out. Apparently, in MP’s world “evidence” is equivalent to “deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons”, and I’m a liar and a hypocrite for following where it leads. The possibility that MP is just plain wrong is something he cannot even consider — doubt is not an intellectual condition, but a grave moral fault.

    Of course, like any true proof-texter he ignores the second sentence, which clearly indicates St. Paul was probably directing his comments at heretics and Judaizers — ie. not at atheists, but at other religious nutters who happened to be nutty about different things than he was.

    Did I not say — way back in my first comment on this now over-blown thread — that the doctrine of damnation was morally corrupting? Could we ask for a clearer demonstration?

    These are not my words Steve, they are God’s. Nor did I claim that you were a liar or a hypocrite. In the context of our topic, end times, people will stop believing. That’s all I was trying to demonstrate and I apologize for including those other parts in my quote.

    I’ve considered that I am wrong several times on this thread alone – if I am wrong, I’m still a better person than I was for it.

  326. #327 Paul
    July 12, 2006

    So if you pray, pray for something that’s likely to happen anyway, because that’s what god was planning for you all along? That’s a nice con racket god’s got going there, you gotta admit.

    Why pray then, if everything is predestined? If it’s god’s will for you to be healed, then you’ll be healed. Or does does he just want to hear suffering people pleading to him before he does what he was going to do anyway?

    And don’t you think it’s somewhat cruel for the god of love to make suffering a requirement for compassion? He has compassion, right? Did he suffer to learn it?

    The god of love lets the vale of tears bandwagon roll on, allowing his creations to suffer so that some of them might struggle over the obstacle course he’s created and beg him for forgiveness (thus earning a ticket on the rapture express). In his infinate wisdom, he decided that this was the best way to order things? As well as a communications director, I think the god of love needs a stategy advisor (not to mention a good shrink).

    I don’t believe in the miracle of Jesus Christ. For the record, I also don’t believe Elvis is still alive, that lightning bolts are flung from the heavens by Zeus, Thor or Indra or that Santa delivers toys to all the good children in the world in one night.

    Simialrly, I’m sure you don’t believe the Hindu who claims that Harati protected her children of smallpox or that Krishna miraculously restored sight to their father. You either discount those “miracles” (as I would) or see the hand of your god in them. But how can you be sure it wasn’t Harati or Vishnu? The recipients of the miracle seem pretty adament. But they’re just blinded by their false belief, right?

    Thgough I don’t believe in miracles, I do believe in things that are supported by sound evidence (which alas, the bible, though terribly entertaining, is not). And further, if I or the other scientists here could observe a human limb regrowing, if we could study it and rule out all other posible explanations (as opposed to leaping straight to “god did it”), then your god would gains some serious credibility (though we’d be having words with him about showing due diligence in reining in his more extreme so-called followers).

    But herein lies the problem – if god does interfere with the physical world by answering prayers, sending floods and performing impressive feats of catering by the Sea of Gallilee, then he falls within the remit of science to investigate, since science is the study of the physical universe. The fact that science has come up with no credible proof of his existance is therefore a big problem for your lurking god. God’s only safe from the men in white coats if he stays outside the physical universe (where/what ever that is). But since we can’t observe or interact with him there, that makes him pretty irrelevent.

    Ironically, it’s the bible, by claiming that an interventionist god exists and has intervened, that puts him in the crosshairs of science.

    On the DF topic: Yes, people who act to bring about the end of the world because god told them to are demented fuckwits. However, AV and MU do have a point. As a representative of rational thinking, you’ll do better sounding rational than sounding emotional and angry. Doesn’t mean you have to be any less critical or lend any credibility to their crazy dogma. People who wish for the end of the world are clearly mad. Tell them so, but do it in a way that doesn’t make you look as crazy and unhinged as they do to the waverers and moderates your resistance is aimed at swaying in the first place.

    Being nice doesn’t cost anything. Case in point MP here. I believe that he’s deeply, deeply misguided. I’ll never agree with his point of view (nor he with mine, I suspect). However, though he’s espoused some plain wrong beliefs, he’s been polite throughout. It doesn’t make him any less wrong, but it does set him apart from the hatemongering pharasees you usually get. That’s worth a little respect and courtesy, I think.

    Of course, if he’s right, no matter how polite I am, I’m still going to hell, which just goes to show that courtesy will only get you so far. :)

    (Apologies for the length of the post, BTW).

  327. #328 Alexander Vargas
    July 12, 2006

    M Petersen, I’m not here to tell you that religion is nonsense, that you are irrational, or that atheism is the only rational conclusion. You and I know All of that would be simply FALSE.

    All I want you to know is that evolution is a scientific fact. This is an EVOLUTION blog, where the menace to the practice of evolutionary science concerns us all gravely.

    We are sick and tired of people wanting to justify their religious beliefs by spreading the absolutley false message that what we KNOW, is unscientific hogwash. Yeah, with plenty a lie included on the basic facts, and flagrant dishonesty ain ackowledging whether religion is or not their true motivation.

    And now you chose not to talk about this problem which is most distressful to us.

    By doing so, all you do is let our insulting buddies here to snicker and repeat to us how we waste our time in trying to expose evolution to religious people as the beatiful fact of nature that it truly is. And therefore we all are remmited to hopelessness.

    I think you are an Ok person, but you have just shown us an unwillingness to provide the bridges we need so much. I have no intention other than religion and science can coexist. I don’t wnat you to be an atheist or anything like that. But if you refuse to talk about evolution, we avoid an issue that is central to all the people that read you at this blog. How then will you convince them that religion does not turn its back on science?

  328. #329 Maitre Alcofribas
    July 12, 2006

    Actually, if there were one one-thousandth of the evidence for the existence of Jesus (say, an independent account by a contemporary Roman), I would be willing to give this foolishness some provisional credence, as deserving of further investigation. But there is more evidence for the existence of Santa Claus or Mickey Mouse that for Jesus.

  329. #330 Steve_C
    July 12, 2006

    AV: I really don’t think calling someone a Demented Fuckwit is a big deal. At all.
    These people have thousands of followers and they are constantly trying to convert more. I have no problem making it clear to someone on the fence that in no way do I think that view is in anyway acceptable. There will be no rapture and there is nothing to get ready for. Period. It should be scorned ridiculed and mocked. ENDLESSLY.

    These aren’t metaphysical debates or just philisophical points of view. They believe the world will end soon. AND THEY WANT TO SPEED IT UP.

    http://www.thegodmovie.com/clip-JesusBeginMyth.php

    Jesus is a myth.

  330. #331 speedwell
    July 12, 2006

    Well, one last thought before I go home. Vargas, PZ touched a nerve here.

    Dangerous irrational people plotting to take over the world and then destroy it.

    We’re letting our frustration out, I guess, in a safe place.

  331. #332 Squeaky
    July 12, 2006

    Speedwell says:

    “Squeaky, if you really can’t tell the difference between us and the dangerous delusionals, I strongly suggest you examine the arguments and the evidence. You’re arguing ad hominem, trying to conflate the behavior of the arguer with the substance of the argument. Doesn’t work that way; ad hominem is the best-known of the well-known fallacies.”

    I don’t think you understood my point. My point is that name calling and insults has been a tactic of religious fundamentalists. Inasmuch as PZ and many here are advocating the same tactic, both sides look very similar to me. The point is, if that is a useless and hurtful tactic on their side (and many here have complained about the nasty things they have been called, so clearly they see it as a useless and hurtful tactic), it is a useful and hurtful tactic on your side as well…and not a very intelligent or effective one, either.

  332. #333 Steve_C
    July 12, 2006

    This is pertinent too…

    BILL MOYERS: You said a moment ago that when you let slip the bonds or the tether of religion, you anticipated that you might find a big hole in your heart.

    COLIN MCGINN: Yeah.

    BILL MOYERS: Or, in your soul.

    COLIN MCGINN: Yeah, yeah.

    BILL MOYERS: But you didn’t.

    COLIN MCGINN: I didn’t, yeah.

    BILL MOYERS: What filled it?

    COLIN MCGINN: In fact, I felt the contrary. It felt to me a better world I was living in without God. I mean one of the things about God is everything you as a moral being do is under the scrutiny of this being who’s gonna reward you or not as the case may be. I think it compromises people’s moral sense, because they feel as if everything they do which is good, they’re doing it because God will approve of them and reward them for it. And once you jettison that idea, you do what you should, because you should, because it’s the right thing to do and that you don’t feel that there’s always some sense of self-interest involved in any moral action that you perform.

    I think it’s an oppressive idea that God is always looking into your soul at every moment of the day and weighing you up. It makes people too introspective. So, I found it was sort of liberating to not have that oppressive, Big Brother surveillance from God all the time. And I found the universe more interesting and more stimulating without gods. I thought, you know, investigating the universe without a religious impulse or religious perspective on it was to me a more interesting and stimulating thing to do.

  333. #334 Squeaky
    July 12, 2006

    Typo in my post above–I meant to say “it is a useLESS and hurtful tactic on your side as well.”

  334. #335 Maitre Alcofribas
    July 12, 2006

    “My point is that name calling and insults has been a tactic of religious fundamentalists. Inasmuch as PZ and many here are advocating the same tactic, both sides look very similar to me.”

    Squeaky,
    In normal circumstances, I’d say you have a point. But these particular powerful, influential fuckwits are trying their damndest to destroy the only planet we have, in the service of a ridiculous delusion. I’d say a little righteous anger is in order. If they all lived on the planet Jeebus Prime, then they could fuck it up all they wanted to, and then gape in slack-jawed befuddlement when God’s Great Varmint Vac failed to suck them up into the aether to escape the mess they made. But we live here too, dammit!

  335. #336 Steve_C
    July 12, 2006

    Seems to work for the Ann Coulters of the world pretty well.

    Hurtful yes. Useless and ineffective? Debateable.

    The right wing has managed to get the public to believe that being a liberal is a bad thing.
    Has even managed to convince alot of democrats too. It’s been effective for the right.

    I get the whole don’t stoop to their level thing. But showing lack of passion and conviction in your beliefs doesn’t convince anyone of anything.

  336. #337 Fernando Magyar
    July 12, 2006

    It isn’t possible to make this stuff up!

    http://money.cnn.com/2006/07/12/news/newsmakers/lay.reut/index.htm?cnn=yes

    Ken Lay’s memorial attracts power elite
    George H.W. Bush, James Baker among attendees at packed church for the Enron founder; reverend compares fallen energy titan to Jesus.

    I am at a complete loss for words.

  337. #338 George
    July 12, 2006

    M.Petersen said:There are certain things that are just true whether you believe it, like it, or even know about it. I believe the Biblical account of Jesus and God to be true. That truth is further validated by my own experience.

    You have to decide whether you should go through life thinking things are “just true” because you like the idea of them, or whether you want to make a more honest, open-minded effort to understand the world around you.

    You are giving up an awful lot of autonomy and wasting the wonderful brain evolution gave you so that you can experience the feelings you get when you think about the story of Jesus. Do you really want to do that?

    The great thing about us as a species is that we move on, we adapt, and we learn when we discover that things don’t quite work the way we thought they did. That’s the beauty of science.

    Don’t stop learning.

  338. #339 Christian
    July 12, 2006

    MA, I will have to remember to use the term God’s Great Varmint Vac the next time I have to deal with someone regarding the rapture.

    What a perfect description of it for the layman.

  339. #340 Steve_C
    July 12, 2006

    Try demented fuckwit.

  340. #341 Maitre Alcofribas
    July 12, 2006

    Christian,
    Feel free to use it as often as you like. (I am rather proud of coming up with it!) Sleepless nights have to be good for something… ;-)
    Anything for the cause, to heap further scorn and ridicule on these dangerous lunatics and discredit their murderous program!

  341. #342 commisarjs
    July 12, 2006

    Ugh, bad math makes me weep bitter tears of rage.

    First some definitions.

    C=D*pi

    pi = C/D

    pi = 3.14159~

    Next we have 1 Kings 7:23

    23 He made the Sea of cast metal, circular in shape, measuring ten cubits [a] from rim to rim and five cubits high. It took a line of thirty cubits [b] to measure around it.

    So we have:

    D = 10 cubits
    C = 30 cubits

    gives C/D = 3

    pi =/= 3

    So there is a choice of

    C = 30 and D = 9.55

    or

    C = 31.41 and D = 10

    But then M. Peterson goes on to say:

    Sorry I can’t include the actual Hebrew here, so I’ll just use English letters in brackets.
    In this case the word for circumference=”line” (IP in Hebrew)
    But in this verse “line” is written with an extra letter. (nIP)

    Since Hebrew has no digits, all letters are also numbers, we can take the ratio of (the gematriacal value of) the unusual word form (nIP) to the regular word form (IP). Given that the gematrial letter values are P=100, I=6, and n=5 we find that:

    n + I + P = 5 + 6 + 100 = 111
    I + P = 6 + 100 = 106
    111/106 = 1.0471698

    3 (False number for PI) multiplied by 1.0471698 (Ratio) = 3.14150943…

    The real value: PI=3.1415926…

    The difference between 3 x 111/106 and PI is 0.0000832 which is only an error of 0.00026%.

    Which makes absolutely no sense. A circle with C = 111 and D = 106 is impossible. I don’t know what you are trying to describe but it is not a circle. The diameter and circumference of a circle have a specific ratio and that is pi. Why are you dividing by 3 at that point? What is the basis for that? Why are you picking the ratio of the numbers translated into English while using some sort of numerical derivation in Hebrew?

    Your math makes no sense at all. You are plucking numbers out of thin air. You would have been better off to say “The contractors didn’t build the remaining 1.42 cubits of retaining wall or possibly just rounded it off and called it good.”

  342. #343 Squeaky
    July 12, 2006

    Steve_C “I get the whole don’t stoop to their level thing. But showing lack of passion and conviction in your beliefs doesn’t convince anyone of anything.”

    Yes, I get that. But are you really saying you can’t show passion and conviction for your beliefs without spouting horrendous insults? Children do that because it is the only language they can resort to. Don’t you have a more developed vocabulary than that?

    Imagine–someone goes on a news show–say he or she is being interviewed by Jimmy Jimmy Bo-Bo (Jim Lehrer–hopefully somone out there will get the Jimmy Jimmy Bo Bo reference). Jimmy asks, “so, why do you disagree with religious fundamentalists?” and the answer is “because they are just a bunch of demented fuckwits.” How is that a better response than a well-reasoned and literate answer? Who is going to be won over when that is all you have to offer as well thought out, insightful evidence?

    This ain’t rocket science people. Maybe it is an illustration of the gaping hole of understanding between science and the humanities. I don’t know…

  343. #344 j
    July 12, 2006

    I disagree with all of what M Petersen says, but the only bit that makes me so angry I want to curse God is the following:

    If God healed everyone from every bad circumstance, both physical and mental, how would we learn, how would we grow? Suffering teaches us compassion and above all, it makes us strong. Can you imagine a world in which no one had to care about anyone else because God would “fix” every situation and every problem?

    It’s the “Suffering…makes us strong” part that I cannot accept.

    God created everything. God created sin. God created murderers. God created rapists. God created child abusers. God created malaria. God created famine. God created genocide. God created war. God created demented fuckwits.

    Consider a hypothetical situation. If you were brutally abused physically and sexually, forced to do things that no one should have to do against his or her will, made to believe twisted things and forced to obey twisted rules, would you “learn” and “grow”? Would you learn “compassion” and become “strong”? Or would you learn that humans are not to be trusted, that you are an inherently dirty and disgusting person, that you deserve whatever happens to you?

    Perhaps you would turn to the Bible to comfort you and help you overcome your suffering. And of course you would find so much comfort from Deuteronomy 22:28-29.

    I am not a compassionate person by any definition of the word, but even I would not allow any of my creations to be hurt in this depraved way if I were God. I would find some other way to carry out that devine plan of mine, and I would succeed because I would be omnipotent.

    That an omnibenevolent God would allow such immense suffering to befall His creations is unjustifiable. There is always another way if you are omnipotent. He just chooses not to use that other way. Meanwhile, children die of AIDS in Africa.

  344. #345 Steve_C
    July 12, 2006

    If I’m being interviewed by Jimmy Bobo is wouldn’t just call anyone a demented fuckwit.

    If I was on the Daily Show. I would. And I suspect the crowd would cheer too. It would be funny.

    But on the Newshour I would say something like…”Do I disagree with the fundamentalist belief that we are in the end times? Are you kidding Jim? Don’t you? It’s completely nuts. You have to be gullible or just stupid to believe it.”

  345. #346 Christian
    July 12, 2006

    Steve_C,

    I will use that after I get bored with sarcasm. God’s Great Varmint Vac is a good start for sarcasm. Then I can finish off with DF.

    I usually skip the reasoning with them part, because most of my encounters with the apocolyptic type have only had a short trip through some sort of “reasoning” straight into delusions.

  346. #347 Will E.
    July 12, 2006

    Again, why couldn’t an all powerful god simply create us in a state of blissful eternal awareness? Why go to all the trouble of making us fallible, corporeal creatures w/ large brains and brittle bones? Why do we have to “learn” anything, or “suffer” or “grow” or “have faith”? Theism and theology are just after-the-fact theorizing, a top-down approach to understanding who we are and why we’re here and why we are the way we are. No thanks to all that.

  347. #348 Steve_C
    July 12, 2006

    Because we’re meant to suffer for original sin.

    Duh. Oh and we have free will. Or something.

  348. #349 Maitre Alcofribas
    July 12, 2006

    “I am not a compassionate person by any definition of the word, but even I would not allow any of my creations to be hurt in this depraved way if I were God.”

    Especially when you could just say “fiat” , and [poof!] everybody would be born with a Compassion Organ (I visualize it as somewhere between the belly button and the naughty bits.)

  349. #350 coz
    July 12, 2006

    Thanks Steve LeBonne. ;)
    Snow in winter, its against god i tell you.
    America is a great place and i’m looking forward to it. After reading all these very interesting posts I know I should be able to find at least a if not soul mates, then same thinking folk.
    Which brightens my day.

    Seen a bumper sticker here in Sydney
    “In case of Rapture, this car will be unoccupied”.
    These people should not be allowed to drive or operate heavy machinary…bloody dangerous that is.

  350. #351 GW
    July 12, 2006

    “Again, why couldn’t an all powerful god simply create us in a state of blissful eternal awareness? Why go to all the trouble of making us fallible, corporeal creatures w/ large brains and brittle bones? Why do we have to “learn” anything, or “suffer” or “grow” or “have faith”?”

    Because he felt like it. Based on his previous actions, I imagine he’s pretty pissed by now, with all these people not showing any respect and second-guessing him. He doesn’t have to explain a damn thing, and he isn’t going to either. Sure he may be psychotic, but he’s the dude with the power, remember? Who told you life was fair? I’d hoof it to church, if I were you, and start kissin’ some divine ass.

  351. #352 Torbjörn Larsson
    July 12, 2006

    Whew! What a thread!

    I agree with PZ that a reaction is needed everytime lunatic ideas of armageddon or creationism is voiced – either dismissal or discussion.

    MP,
    “Given a starting condition that matter, energy, time, space, and the laws of chemistry and physics exist, creation can still be scientific. Outside that, both evolution and creation could not be considered in the realm of science.”

    You are confusing the biological theory of evolution (common descent with modification) with the physical theory of cosmology. Spacetime breaks down at bigbang, and its starting condition is presently unknown.

    “Biblical creation offers God as an explanation for what was before my aforementioned starting point. What does evolution offer before the Big Bang?”

    Evolution offers nothing outside biology. Back in the real world, we don’t have enough evidence to choose definitely yet. So today the answer is “we don’t know”, which is a respectable scientific position.

    But there are answers offered by various proposed cosmologies.

    One type is Hawking’s no-boundary proposal. That type of cosmology has no definitive boundary, so while it means universes continually forming, they are forming from nothing – no first cause, no origin. (As Hawking asks, how does one go south of the south pole?) The times in the different universas are not related, only the possible physics.

    Another type is endless inflation. Here too universes are continually forming, wormholing from old ones possibly indefinitely back – no first cause, no origin. The times in the different universas are related.

    “By far the best evidence or proof I have for Christianity is Jesus.

    Some of the facts:
    […}
    I believe the only plausible explanation for these facts is that Jesus did rise from the dead.”

    You want to show us convincing evidence to accept that christian beliefs are correct. There are text evidence from several sources that a person “Jesus” existed. That is all.

    The only text that mentions remaining “facts” are biblical. That is as much worth as anecdotal evidence, ie not reliable. Here you must present evidence worthy of the science you are judged against (as in correct above). Science doesn’t accept anecdotal evidence.

  352. #353 impatientpatient
    July 12, 2006

    If God healed everyone from every bad circumstance, both physical and mental, how would we learn, how would we grow? Suffering teaches us compassion and above all, it makes us strong. Can you imagine a world in which no one had to care about anyone else because God would “fix” every situation and every problem?

    I call bullshit—–

    You need to look up the new series on these african prairie dog things that is like a mini soap opera. It is one of the hottest new shows this summer I read somewhere yesterday, and I will be damned if I can find it.

    Anyway, in one of the articles it talked about these animals caring for one of their numbers that was injured. Bringing food, coming in to check on him etc….

    Does that not look like human compassion??? Maybe, just maybe, somewhere in our genetic code it is hardwired into us to look after those who are injured???

    And don’t even start on who made that like that OR I WILL SCREAM!!

    Let me tell you- until you have lived with someone for fucking twenty four hours a day 7 days a week for five years in constant unremitting pain, with no end in sight you have NO right to talk about the goodness and usefulness and value of suffering. You and whoever you worship can go shove it….

    I look forward to reading the post on the spine that PZ wrote today, and following the link to the paper. That sir, is real hope and real value and real medicine that may pertain to what I live through with someone on a day to day basis.

    “Fuckers” is starting to sound like a good word…..

  353. #354 Torbjörn Larsson
    July 12, 2006

    roger says:

    “I asked him why does he think DNA came from outside the universe. The creationist replied:

    “Information Theory and Logic. If the universe is incapable of generating the required information, then it must come from outside the universe.”

    This is the ID bogus information argument. (“Information is constant. The universe/evolution can’t create information. Only intelligent design does that.”)

    Information is created by various processes. If they are physical, entropy measures that. The second law of thermodynamics says entropy can’t decrease. That means the entropy of the universe, ie the information content, raises all the time. That is what we measure. One high-entropy source is randomness in quantum mechanics. (Randomness *is* informationrich – it takes more information to describe pure noise than simpler signals.)

    Evolution creates information too. There are random events in evolutionary mechanisms – information is generated. (Mutations in DNA, for example.) The properties of new functions that evolves in an organism means information gained from the environment. Coevolution (between genes within an organism or between species) also generates new information where none existed before. The environment changes – yet more information. This is measurable too in various ways.

    So you can tell your creationist friend that physics and biology tells us he is wrong by observations.

  354. #355 roger
    July 12, 2006

    Torbjörn Larsson, Thanks!

  355. #356 Torbjörn Larsson
    July 12, 2006

    Oh, and roger,

    The reason the answer may be a little confusing is that it is creationist thinking to discuss information. Biologists does that too, but rarer – to discuss information instead of function (“what does this new thingy on that there species do?”) is not getting them much information. ;-)

  356. #357 wintermute
    July 12, 2006

    M Peterson:

    No response to this?

    Thought not.

  357. #358 AC
    July 12, 2006

    Delurking for two quick points:

    1) Christianity is and always has been a death cult. It was good to see a couple people use that exact phrase. I find that not many people understand what it means.

    2) M Petersen doesn’t think we can “see into the future” even enough just to know that the sun will rise tomorrow, yet he thinks that the Bible provides a valid peek into the future via prophecy. He thinks the latter, of course, because he thinks God is “outside time” and the Bible is the “word of God”. I’d just like to inform him that I know the sun will rise tomorrow because God told me it will.

  358. #359 PZ Myers
    July 12, 2006

    It’s a death cult, and it’s also an Eastern Mystery Religion. They hate it when you point that out, even if it is an accurate taxonomical classification of their faith.

  359. #360 j
    July 12, 2006

    impatientpatient,

    RAmen.

  360. #361 M Petersen
    July 12, 2006

    M Petersen, I’m not here to tell you that religion is nonsense, that you are irrational, or that atheism is the only rational conclusion. You and I know All of that would be simply FALSE.

    All I want you to know is that evolution is a scientific fact. This is an EVOLUTION blog, where the menace to the practice of evolutionary science concerns us all gravely.

    We are sick and tired of people wanting to justify their religious beliefs by spreading the absolutley false message that what we KNOW, is unscientific hogwash. Yeah, with plenty a lie included on the basic facts, and flagrant dishonesty ain ackowledging whether religion is or not their true motivation.

    And now you chose not to talk about this problem which is most distressful to us.

    By doing so, all you do is let our insulting buddies here to snicker and repeat to us how we waste our time in trying to expose evolution to religious people as the beatiful fact of nature that it truly is. And therefore we all are remmited to hopelessness.

    I think you are an Ok person, but you have just shown us an unwillingness to provide the bridges we need so much. I have no intention other than religion and science can coexist. I don’t wnat you to be an atheist or anything like that. But if you refuse to talk about evolution, we avoid an issue that is central to all the people that read you at this blog. How then will you convince them that religion does not turn its back on science?

    I am not refusing to talk about evolution indefinitely. There’s just soooo many topics here, and out of respect for PZ (given this is his blog), I was attempting to remain on the original topic. Furthermore, the origin of the universe is an enormous topic, one which I imagine will be quite the undertaking.

  361. #362 M Petersen
    July 12, 2006

    You have to decide whether you should go through life thinking things are “just true” because you like the idea of them, or whether you want to make a more honest, open-minded effort to understand the world around you.

    You are giving up an awful lot of autonomy and wasting the wonderful brain evolution gave you so that you can experience the feelings you get when you think about the story of Jesus. Do you really want to do that?

    The great thing about us as a species is that we move on, we adapt, and we learn when we discover that things don’t quite work the way we thought they did. That’s the beauty of science.

    It’s not about liking the idea of it. I am convinced it is true. I believe God’s way is better for me. The beauty of science is quite evident to me, even as I look at the genius in the periodic table. But then I look at, say, Helium and I wonder “Where did Helium come from? How did it get here”. You have to start with something…. shoot there I go into the origin of the universe.

  362. #363 j
    July 12, 2006

    Helium came from hydrogen, no?

    Science does not speculate about why the universe came into existence. That’s a philosophical debate.

  363. #364 M Petersen
    July 12, 2006

    Oh, they’re gates, rather than windows? My mistake. Clearly the Bible is 100% accurate about the presence of these gates.

    This passage seems to be metaphorical rather than literal to me.

    So, when the Bible is invariably “chews the cud”, it literally means “swallows its fæces whole”, and is therefore literally true? Why are coneys unclean because they “chew the cud” but don’t have cloven hooves? What animal with cloven hooves “chews the cud” (by this definition)? How does it make sense to contrast it with pigs being unclean because they have cloven hooves but don’t “chew the cud”?

    The whole reason for God calling some animals unclean was to keep people healthy – they didn’t have the antibiotics we have today. Pigs do not have sweat glands, so impurities remain in the the fat, and they will eat anything including disease-laden refuse.

    This is what we call a “lie”. The city that Ezekiel prohesised against consisted of a mainland area and an island later linked to it by a narrow causeway. Today, that causeway has grown so wide that it’s very difficult to tell where the old coast used to be. The island has been (part of) a thriving city continuously since this prophecy was written. Any attempts to claim otherwise are mendacious. Wikipedia tells us that “The location of the city of Tyre is not in doubt, for it exists to this day on the same spot and is known as Sur.” and “Josephus even records [the mainland and island parts of the city] fighting against each other, although most of the time they supported one another due to the island city’s wealth from maritime trade and the mainland area’s source of timber, water and burial grounds.” Josephus was after Ezekiel, right?

    How the history of Tyre doesn’t match the prophecies.

    Thanks for the link, interesting article. I would come back with: http://www.tektonics.org/uz/zeketyre.html

    Ah, you need to use the super-secret Bible decoding ring to turn 3 into π. Unfortunately, I never got issured one of those. You may want to have a look at the links here, though, if you want to find π encoded there without having to resort to misspellings which may or may not have been in the original (and non-surviving) Hebrew text.
    It’s not a decoder ring, it’s there in the original Hebrew text. Hebrews reading it would pay attention to the extra character in the text.

    No, marijuana has smaller seeds, and is known to have been farmed in the area for at least a thousand years before Jesus.

    How widespread was the farming of marijuana in that particular area? Maybe there weren’t any marijuana farmers present. It’s a stretch, but I honestly don’t have a concrete answer for this.

    OK. Did that happen? Which “wise men and teachers” were “killed and crucified” within 25 years of Jesus’ death? Who was flogged in the synagogues? Why did no-one notice that they were covered with “all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth”? You’d think that the dry cleaners, at least, would have commented on that.
    In short, even if this is not about the end of the world (and I remain convinced that it is – cf Matt 16:28, Matt 26:64, Mark 9:1, Mark 13:30, Mark 14:62, Luke 9:27, Luke 21:32, John 5:25, John 21:22), then it’s still clearly a failed prophecy.

    I’m not sure. I don’t know of evidence available to support the event. The passages you mention concern entirely different subjects and contexts, though they are about the end of the world – this passage is not.

  364. #365 B. B.Breece
    July 12, 2006

    The past ninety minutes I’ve been absorbed in this thread has been the best entertainment I’ve had in a while. Thank you all, especially you DEMENTED FUCKWITS. BBB

  365. #366 M Petersen
    July 12, 2006

    It’s the “Suffering…makes us strong” part that I cannot accept.

    God created everything. God created sin. God created murderers. God created rapists. God created child abusers. God created malaria. God created famine. God created genocide. God created war. God created demented fuckwits.

    Consider a hypothetical situation. If you were brutally abused physically and sexually, forced to do things that no one should have to do against his or her will, made to believe twisted things and forced to obey twisted rules, would you “learn” and “grow”? Would you learn “compassion” and become “strong”? Or would you learn that humans are not to be trusted, that you are an inherently dirty and disgusting person, that you deserve whatever happens to you?

    Perhaps you would turn to the Bible to comfort you and help you overcome your suffering. And of course you would find so much comfort from Deuteronomy 22:28-29.

    I am not a compassionate person by any definition of the word, but even I would not allow any of my creations to be hurt in this depraved way if I were God. I would find some other way to carry out that devine plan of mine, and I would succeed because I would be omnipotent.

    That an omnibenevolent God would allow such immense suffering to befall His creations is unjustifiable. There is always another way if you are omnipotent. He just chooses not to use that other way. Meanwhile, children die of AIDS in Africa.

    God created the person, not the murderer, child abuser, rapist — the choice to perform such horrible acts is up to the person created.

    In your hypothetical situation, I do not know how I would feel, hasn’t happened to me. And I cannot presume to know why and how God can use this “hurt in this depraved way” to the ultimate benefit of those who love Him. As you said we’re not God and we can only guess at His reasoning behind certain events occurring.

    This brings me to a question for you – What is it in you that tells you this evil is particularly depraved? There seems to be few examples of conscience in the animal world, so where does it come from?

  366. #367 squeaky
    July 12, 2006

    J
    “Helium came from hydrogen, no?”

    Wait a sec, let me think about it…
    The sun is a mass of incandescent gas
    A gigantic nuclear furnace
    Where hydrogen is fused into helium
    At temperatures of millions of degrees

    Ummm…yeah. At least that’s what “They Might Be Giants” tells me.

    Remember:

    You’re older than you were before

    And now you’re even older

    And now you’re even older

    And now you’re even older

    You’re older than you were before

    And now you’re even older

    And now you’re older still

  367. #368 M Petersen
    July 12, 2006

    Let me tell you- until you have lived with someone for fucking twenty four hours a day 7 days a week for five years in constant unremitting pain, with no end in sight you have NO right to talk about the goodness and usefulness and value of suffering. You and whoever you worship can go shove it….

    I cannot pretend to know what you are going through. If you have the patience, there is a fairly honest discussion of the subject here: http://www.leaderu.com/common/terror/lynch.html

  368. #369 386sx
    July 12, 2006

    M Petersen, if you’d like to take some time out from insulting everyone’s intelligence, why don’t you pray and ask your “god” if this Chimp is really playing Ms. Pac Man. Inquiring minds want to know. Good luck!

  369. #370 j
    July 12, 2006

    Squeaky, thanks. I kind of intended for it to be a rhetorical question, but it didn’t work out right.

    M Petersen: “This brings me to a question for you – What is it in you that tells you this evil is particularly depraved? There seems to be few examples of conscience in the animal world, so where does it come from?

    From my sensory neurons.

  370. #371 j
    July 12, 2006

    Shoot, I forgot an end quote. I hate it when that happens.

  371. #372 j
    July 12, 2006

    M Petersen, I did not read everything from your latest link, but I see some extensive quoting from Job. I cried after reading Job.

    Reading the Bible astounds me because it makes me wonder how even I, a sinner and cynic, could be more compassionate than the Christian God who turns people into salt pillars on a whim or asks them to kill their own children.

    How do those who suffer know that it is all for “the ultimate benefit of those who love Him”? (Don’t tell me it’s because the Bible says so. Psalms is happy and pretty and repetitive, but Deuteronomy 22:23-24 is not as comforting.) If I were God, I would not leave my suffering creations to “guess at [my] reasoning behind certain events occurring”; I would make sure they knew exactly why their suffering was absolutely unavoidable, so unavoidable that even an omnipotent God could not figure out how to achieve an important end without that suffering.

  372. #373 Jason
    July 12, 2006

    It’s a death cult, and it’s also an Eastern Mystery Religion. They hate it when you point that out, even if it is an accurate taxonomical classification of their faith.

    Oh, please… Stick to biology, PZ. I don’t know why you think you’re so qualified to speak on Christianity when you repeatedly claim you’re not qualified to speak of sciences outside your chosen field. Maybe you should get a masters in theology, religious studies or whatever before you embarrass yourself further by spouting off nonsense.

  373. #374 Uber
    July 13, 2006

    I don’t know why you think you’re so qualified to speak on Christianity when you repeatedly claim you’re not qualified to speak of sciences outside your chosen field. Maybe you should get a masters in theology, religious studies or whatever before you embarrass yourself further by spouting off nonsense.

    I’m just curious Jason are going to refute what he says or just throw stones?

    Why is a ‘theologian’ more qualified to speak on religion than any other individual. his particular religious dogma perhaps but does getting a degree in whatever theology they choose somehow change what the religion is?

    PZ was raised in Christianity and has as much or more knowledge about it as you do unless of course you are clearly stating with the above that since your not a theologian you ought not be posting on the topic either.

    I guess that means you basically accept as true whatever some dude in a funny hat says about the supernatural then huh? The credulous.

  374. #375 Jason
    July 13, 2006

    I love it when ignorant skeptics trot out the old “the Bible says pi equals 3!” line. I know it’s one of their favorites. It’s one of mine, too, because it is simple to refute. No math or number massaging is necessary. Look at the text of 1 Kings 7:23:

    He made the Sea of cast metal, circular in shape, measuring ten cubits from rim to rim and five cubits high. It took a line of thirty cubits to measure around it.

    Let’s break this down bit by bit:

    “He made the Sea of cast metal”

    Who is “he.” It’s Solomon, not God. Actually, Solomon himself probably wasn’t making this object himself, but he was ordering this object be made by his servants. Solomon and his servants are humans, and thus imperfect in thought and action.

    “circular in shape”

    Lots of objects are “circular in shape,” but aren’t perfect circles. In fact, there’s no such thing as a perfect circle. No circle can ever be drawn or made with the exact value of pi because there is no exact value of pi.

    “measuring ten cubits from rim to rim and five cubits high.”

    On these rims, if you look at verse 26, you read that the thickness was about the width of a hand and shaped “like a lily blossom” – i.e. curved outward. So the diameter measurement could very well be larger because of the thickness and shape of the rim.

    “It took a line of thirty cubits to measure around it.”

    These measurements of diameter and circumference could easily be accurate with an object that is circular, but not a perfect circle. Also, the measuring “devices” of the day were limited and also not perfect. Finally, the passage refers to the usual unit of measurement: the cubit. When cubits are mentioned in the Bible, they are referred to in terms of full or half-cubits. There’s never anything in between one cubit and a half-cubit and nothing any smaller than a half-cubit.

    Ultimately, though, the verse in question is not a matter of mathematical or scientific record. It’s a matter of historical record. For historical records, exact mathematical and scientific measurements are not necessary. Think about it. What time did you get up this morning? 7 o’clock? 7:30? Exactly? Of course not. But that’s how we refer to the event. No one questions it when we’re not being accurate.

    1 Kings 7:23 records an event about imperfect people making an imperfect object and measuring it with imperfect methods. That the measurements don’t calculate to “exactly” pi has absolutely no impact on the validity and inerrancy of the Bible.

  375. #376 Uber
    July 13, 2006

    Jason the question must be asked who do you think wrote the bible? Here you say it’s Solomon and not God. So which parts exactly can you say God meant to be his words and which are the words of an uninspired individual.

    The bible is essentially replete with narratives written by men but that is a given. How do you discern and which method of discernment are you using?

    I mean here we can ignore Solomon, why him and not Moses? That wasn’t God speaking either. Nor was Paul God, and Jesus never wrote anything that we know of. So what methodology are you using to discern?

    Sounds like the apologetic two step which of course is necessary to maintain your innerant belief. A belief not shared by rational people.

  376. #377 Gh
    July 13, 2006

    ignorant skeptics

    That has got to be the funniest thing in the entire thread. It only takes a quick perusal of skeptic sites, books, and articles to see ignorance of logic and knowledge is not found there. Especially when one then goes to the same from religious sources. Between men living with dinosaurs, illogical dogma, and superstition I don’t think it’s the skeptics could rightfully be called ignorant in this round.

    And I am a Christian. But the skeptics are very honest, educated individuals. I just don’t see alot of ignorance on that side.

  377. #378 386sx
    July 13, 2006

    That the measurements don’t calculate to “exactly” pi has absolutely no impact on the validity and inerrancy of the Bible.

    Good observation. Case in point: People often wonder why those pesky Midianites kept coming back every time the LORD told His “chosen” people to butcher them. Well, maybe they didn’t “exactly” slaughter every single last one of them. Maybe they missed a couple here and there. I think we can all agree that there is no point in holding the Bible up to a higher standard than what one might expect from yer average stone age goat herder.

  378. #379 Helen T.
    July 13, 2006

    M Petersen,

    On the topic of the rapture: are you doing anything yourself to try and delay it? That is, have you ever prayed that it be delayed as long as possible, or asked other people to pray for it to be delayed, or done whatever else you can to delay it? Why not?

    Because if a person is saved, there’s no harm from the rapture being delayed, is there- a few decades delay shouldn’t mean anything in the face of eternity.

    On the other hand, the sooner the rapture the smaller the chance for any other particular person to get saved. After the rapture it’s nothing but horror and pestilence, fire and earthquakes: not as good of a place to be saved as, say, the ordinary 21st century.

    (Even if you’re a posttribulationalist, wouldn’t you want the rapture delayed- not so much for your own sake, but for the sake of the 5 billion people who aren’t yet saved?)

  379. #380 Alexander Whiteside
    July 13, 2006

    “I love it when ignorant skeptics trot out the old “the Bible says pi equals 3!” line. I know it’s one of their favorites. It’s one of mine, too, because it is simple to refute. No math or number massaging is necessary.”

    I don’t think any skeptic uses that as an argument against the Bible’s historical accuracy. A good joke, maybe (about a school board blindly throwing irrelevant dogma into the curriculum), and an example of why you shouldn’t take the Bible literally, perhaps, but not in itself a reason to call events described into question.

  380. #381 Frost
    July 13, 2006

    @Alexander Vargas: I think you missed my point about the relationship between despair and religiousness. Despair, extremism or poverty may or may not be increasing in the countries I mentioned, but is there any correlation to religiousness or religious fundamentalism á la US at all? Real wages in Germany have actually decreased, but I don’t have to ask myself how best to deal with insane people who believe they can forward the end of the world – because there are none. There’s actually a self-pronounced preacher and saviour of humanity in my city who proclaims that protestantism is a false religion, that (the catholic) god hates homosexuals, that the Jews should be paying reparations to the Christians and so on, but there’s no need calling him a demented fuckwit because no-one would think otherwise anyway. Maybe he’s in an asylum, haven’t seen him in a while.

    “The real issue is you need a well-defined “entity” to keep the money and weapons together that are necessary to attempt the control of the world.”

    What do you mean by this? That some entity capable of controlling the world has to exist?

    “True Christianity in fact is all about the NON importance, the helplessnes of man. You see, true conversion is in first place to acknowledge that you are helpless, and therefore accept that only Jesus can save.”

    Any belief in a greater being and in afterlife assumes that human life is special, that some god cares about the wellbeing of humans and observes what they do in their lives, that human souls are eternal and worth saving. Religions continue in this tradition of deluded self-overestimation by demanding that non-believers need to be converted for their own good, in order to be saved. There’s only presumption and megalomania as far as I can see. People live and die and then they’re gone just like any other living organism, get over it! Our ability to fear death and invent delusions to cope with that doesn’t change the fact that we will die eventually and that there’s only mortals left to care about our lives and deaths.

  381. #382 Paul
    July 13, 2006

    @MP, so the gates of the heavens are metaphorical?
    So some of the bible is metaphor rather than literal truth?
    So mightn’t the resurrection of Jesus be a metaphor too?
    If it isn’t, how can you be sure?

    @Jason: So theologians are the only ones who should comment on theology?
    By the same logic, surely non-expert mooks like Phillip Johnson and Dembski aren’t qualified to criticise evolution?

  382. #383 wintermute
    July 13, 2006
    Oh, they’re gates, rather than windows? My mistake. Clearly the Bible is 100% accurate about the presence of these gates.

    This passage seems to be metaphorical rather than literal to me.

    So why does it matter that they’re called “gates” rather than “windows”? Does the metaphore change that much?

    And doesn’t “metaphorical mean “not actually true”? You said “Maybe you could try to succeed where Lewis failed, and give us a proof of how the Bible isn’t true. All you’d have to do is prove one fact didn’t happen or isn’t true — shouldn’t be that hard should it?” – Well, it’s pretty hard if you’re allowed to redefine anything that’s not true as “metaphorical” and therefore true in a special, magical sense. What deeper truth are these gates a metaphore for?

    So, when the Bible is invariably “chews the cud”, it literally means “swallows its fæces whole”, and is therefore literally true? Why are coneys unclean because they “chew the cud” but don’t have cloven hooves? What animal with cloven hooves “chews the cud” (by this definition)? How does it make sense to contrast it with pigs being unclean because they have cloven hooves but don’t “chew the cud”?

    The whole reason for God calling some animals unclean was to keep people healthy – they didn’t have the antibiotics we have today. Pigs do not have sweat glands, so impurities remain in the the fat, and they will eat anything including disease-laden refuse.

    OK. Sweat glands don’t filter out impurities. The liver and kidneys do that, and I’m pretty sure that pigs have both of those. Pork is not any more dangerous than any other type of meat. Pigs have as many sweat glands as most other mammals – Humans are pretty much unique in using sweat as a cooling mechanism, rather than simply as a method of spreading pheromones.

    My point, however, was: Why define pigs as being “animals with cloven hooves that don’t chew the cud” and say that category is forbidden, and then define “chewing the cud” as copraphagy? Why doesn’t this also cover sheep, goats, cows, and all other ungulates? Might it possibly make more sense to say that “chewing the cud” actually means “chewing the cud”?

    Another thing that occured to me, after my last response was that the author of the document you linked to translated tzaddith as “rabbit”, when the word actually refers to a coney, AKA hyrax AKA rock badger. Coneys do not chew the cud, either by the actual definition, or by that article’s.

    This is what we call a “lie”. The city that Ezekiel prohesised against consisted of a mainland area and an island later linked to it by a narrow causeway. Today, that causeway has grown so wide that it’s very difficult to tell where the old coast used to be. The island has been (part of) a thriving city continuously since this prophecy was written. Any attempts to claim otherwise are mendacious. Wikipedia tells us that “The location of the city of Tyre is not in doubt, for it exists to this day on the same spot and is known as Sur.” and “Josephus even records [the mainland and island parts of the city] fighting against each other, although most of the time they supported one another due to the island city’s wealth from maritime trade and the mainland area’s source of timber, water and burial grounds.” Josephus was after Ezekiel, right?

    Thanks for the link, interesting article. I would come back with: http://www.tektonics.org/uz/zeketyre.html

    I’ve tried reading through that article, and all I can get out of it is: Tyre never actually fell, and there’s still a thriving city there. But the prophecy still came true, because if it hadn’t, it wouldn’t have been a prophesy.

    Can you sum it up for me in a way that makes sense?

    OK. Did that happen? Which “wise men and teachers” were “killed and crucified” within 25 years of Jesus’ death? Who was flogged in the synagogues? Why did no-one notice that they were covered with “all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth”? You’d think that the dry cleaners, at least, would have commented on that. In short, even if this is not about the end of the world (and I remain convinced that it is – cf Matt 16:28, Matt 26:64, Mark 9:1, Mark 13:30, Mark 14:62, Luke 9:27, Luke 21:32, John 5:25, John 21:22), then it’s still clearly a failed prophecy.

    I’m not sure. I don’t know of evidence available to support the event. The passages you mention concern entirely different subjects and contexts, though they are about the end of the world – this passage is not.

    So, the other passages I mention say “the world will end within [let’s be generous with the meaning of ‘generation’] one hundred years”, yes? This is clearly an important enough prophesy, to get repeated multiple times by every single gospel author. All four agree that Jesus (which is to say, God) said that. And God ought to know, what with that whole “omnipotence” and “being outside time” thing. So, the question is: Did that prophecy come true? If so, why didn’t I get the memo? If not, doesn’t that mean that Jesus was wrong?

    I maintain the verse I originally quoted is also about the end of the world. The fact that it’s couched in the same terms, and uses clearly apocalyptic language like “all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth”. But I can understand why you might disagree.

  383. #384 M Petersen
    July 13, 2006

    I did not read everything from your latest link, but I see some extensive quoting from Job. I cried after reading Job.

    Reading the Bible astounds me because it makes me wonder how even I, a sinner and cynic, could be more compassionate than the Christian God who turns people into salt pillars on a whim or asks them to kill their own children.

    How do those who suffer know that it is all for “the ultimate benefit of those who love Him”? (Don’t tell me it’s because the Bible says so. Psalms is happy and pretty and repetitive, but Deuteronomy 22:23-24 is not as comforting.) If I were God, I would not leave my suffering creations to “guess at [my] reasoning behind certain events occurring”; I would make sure they knew exactly why their suffering was absolutely unavoidable, so unavoidable that even an omnipotent God could not figure out how to achieve an important end without that suffering.

    I do not think we could even begin to understand the complete reasoning of an infinite omnipotent God as to why certain people suffer and others do not. To do that, I imagine we would have to know everything past, present and future, including any scientific factors that may come into play (physical laws, genetics, etc). The only thing we have available to us is faith and that God says He works for the good of those who love Him. Now Job was a very good person (much better than I), and yet God allowed everything to be taken from him. Even so, Job believed God even when everyone around him said that God had forsaken him. And in the end, Job got much more back.

  384. #385 M Petersen
    July 13, 2006

    On the topic of the rapture: are you doing anything yourself to try and delay it? That is, have you ever prayed that it be delayed as long as possible, or asked other people to pray for it to be delayed, or done whatever else you can to delay it? Why not?

    Because if a person is saved, there’s no harm from the rapture being delayed, is there- a few decades delay shouldn’t mean anything in the face of eternity.

    On the other hand, the sooner the rapture the smaller the chance for any other particular person to get saved. After the rapture it’s nothing but horror and pestilence, fire and earthquakes: not as good of a place to be saved as, say, the ordinary 21st century.

    (Even if you’re a posttribulationalist, wouldn’t you want the rapture delayed- not so much for your own sake, but for the sake of the 5 billion people who aren’t yet saved?)

    Good question Helen. I have not prayed for it to be delayed, I pray for people to be saved. It’s not a question of time, a key requirement before the end of the world, is that the message will be preached throughout the world. If people will believe, and God knows whether and when they will, they will have plenty of time to accept Him because God has already delayed it to save more people. That being said, the rapture may not even be the final point of acceptance… others may come to believe even after the first set of believers leave. After the rapture it’s very bad, and God said He shortened those days for the sake of those who would come to believe during that time.

  385. #386 Will E.
    July 13, 2006

    “It’s a death cult, and it’s also an Eastern Mystery Religion.”

    That’s a fair assessment. Years ago I studied early Xianity as a religion major and found that in its inceptions, it wasn’t that different from other “cults” of the Mid East, such as Mithraism and Zoroastrianism and various Egyptian mythologies. That’s not a value judgment; it’s an anthropological fact.

    I’ve said this before: I think the key to losing faith & deunking religion is not in hard science, but in comparative religion. More Joseph Campbell and Mircea Eliade than Dawkins and Hawking.

  386. #387 M Petersen
    July 13, 2006

    Paul:
    I don’t know for sure what these floodgates actually are. I’ll try to look into it more. How would you explain to the people of that time where the rain came from?

  387. #388 Will E.
    July 13, 2006

    Again–why didn’t god, in all his infinite wisdom and ability, just create a people with all knowledge of the universe, the earth, and its natural wonders?

  388. #389 j
    July 13, 2006

    “I do not think we could even begin to understand the complete reasoning of an infinite omnipotent God as to why certain people suffer and others do not.”

    Because it’s not reasonable. It’s irrational.

    “The only thing we have available to us is faith and that God says He works for the good of those who love Him.”

    No, we have more than faith. We have reason.

    And no, God doesn’t say He works for the good of those who love Him. The Bible says that. There’s a difference. Now, if the Christian God were to appear to me today and demonstrate to me that all the suffering in the world is justified, then perhaps I would cease complaining.

    “And in the end, Job got much more back.”

    Funny that. For all that God admonishes us not to love material possessions and mundane things more than His glory, He rewards His devout followers with material possessions and mundane things.

    Jesus, it’s annoying to have to capitalize so many male pronouns and proper nouns.

  389. #390 wintermute
    July 13, 2006

    How would you explain to the people of that time where the rain came from?

    Well, if I was omnipotent, it would probably be quite easy. As I’m not, I’d start with the idea that “the sky” is no more solid that the air around us. I would demonstrate that a bowl of water left in the sun will evaporate, and explain that the water has to go somewhere. I’d point out that this is true, even if the bowl is an entire ocean. I’d demonstrate that rain never falls unless there are cloud around, and maybe even lead a hiking expedition in the mountains – after all, you can climb to the lowest cloud levels wthout any technological help – and demonstrate that clouds feel distinctly wet.

    None of this is beyond the grasp of a nomadic goat farmer, though it may not be obvious if it hasn’t been pointed out. There’s no reason why a God with no more powers than a 20th Century human couldn’t have clearly explained the hydrological cycle to the original audience of Genesis. Instead, Genesis deliberately lies about the sky being solid and having windows (sorry, gates) in it that let the waters of heaven through.

    It’s all very well saying that this is a metaphore, but what what is it a metaphore for? What deep truth does it reveal?

  390. #391 Will E.
    July 13, 2006

    That nomadic goat herders and their god(s) knew fuck-all.

  391. #392 speedwell
    July 13, 2006

    “I do not think we could even begin to understand the complete reasoning of an infinite omnipotent God as to why certain people suffer and others do not.”

    This is in exactly the same class as the DA saying to the defense attorney, “I don’t understand why the sleazebag molested one daughter and not the other one, and I’m not sure I want to know.”

  392. #393 Paul W.
    July 13, 2006

    M Petersen,

    I find it bizarre that you defend ancient Hebrew taboos, etc., on the grounds that they’re something like good rules of thumb expressed with approximate ideas that were all that bronze-age nomads and iron-age farmers could understand.

    It is very striking that the Bible contains nothing that couldn’t have been known or guessed by human beings at the time. For example, when it comes to food safety, it neglects to mention the germ theory of disease, or tips on lens-grinding so that people could see germs for themselves.

    Those things would have been understandable to the people of the time, and useful to them. It doesn’t take a lot of modern knowledge to get the basic idea that extremely tiny animals can cause disease, or that light change course when it passes through glass, or that the Earth goes around the sun. (Or that slavery is bad, or that genocide is uncool.)

    Instead we get detailed rules about when and how to sacrifice innocent animals, remove foreskins, avoid menstruating women, enslave foreigners, brand your slaves, get a fair price for selling your daughter, etc.

    How much more obvious could it be that the Bible was written by a bunch of backward, ignorant, superstitious people?

    “And the LORD was with Judah; and he drave out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron.”
    — Judges 1:19

    Couldn’t God at least have told his Chosen bronze-agers how to smelt iron? Other humans had already figured that out.

    The ancient Hebrews were a bunch of feuding hillbillies, less advanced than many of their neighbors; that shows in the scriptures. Later-written parts of the Bible are somewhat better, but only because they absorbed more advanced ideas from the pagans they traded with, were conquered by, etc. There is no sign that an actual god revealed anything true to these people.

  393. #394 speedwell
    July 13, 2006

    And before any bogus lamer starts accusing Paul W. of anti-Semitism, I’m Jewish by birth and my whole family would say exactly what Paul just said about the Hebrews of the Bible being ignorant inferior tribesmen. Of course, we’ll follow it up by pointing out how far we’ve come since… lol. Still, it feels a little like how you feel when you look at a picture of Early Man and realize you descended from somthing like that. :)

  394. #395 Jason
    July 13, 2006

    I’m just curious Jason are going to refute what he says or just throw stones?

    The only people throwing stones around here are PZ and his merry band of “me-too-ers.” “You’re a troll!” I find it quite laughable that you would accuse me of throwing stones in the comments for this thread in particular: “You’re a demented f***wit!”

    Why is a ‘theologian’ more qualified to speak on religion than any other individual. his particular religious dogma perhaps but does getting a degree in whatever theology they choose somehow change what the religion is?

    Why is a “scientist” more qualified to speak on science than any other individual? Why is a “biologist” more qualified to speak on biology than astronomy?

    PZ was raised in Christianity and has as much or more knowledge about it as you do

    His posts on the topic indicate the complete opposite. Either that or he’s lying.

    unless of course you are clearly stating with the above that since your not a theologian you ought not be posting on the topic either.

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying PZ or anyone else absolutely has to be a theologian or what have you to be able to speak on religion. Once again, I’m just pointing out his hypocrisy. He holds others to standards that he does not hold to himself.

    I guess that means you basically accept as true whatever some dude in a funny hat says about the supernatural then huh? The credulous.

    No, actually, I don’t listen to people in funny hats very much.

  395. #396 paleotn
    July 13, 2006

    Peterson wrote…

    “You may wish to read the following for evidence of Jesus’ existence. There is more evidence Jesus existed than Aristotle, Plato, Odysseus, or Alexander the Great. No serious historian who refute the existence of Jesus of Nazareth.”

    Thanks for the sources, but your statement above is still absolute hogwash. There is a huge array of corroboration evidence from different cultures that prove the existence of Aristotle, Plato and Alexander. I’m surprised you’ve trotted out that old apologetic tactic.

    For Alexander, we have a wake of conquest and destruction. Cities built in his name during his lifetime. Written records from several different cultures, scribed during his life, which describe his exploits. Even a letter, chiseled in stone, from Alexander to the people of Chios. Aristotle and Plato’s existence is well documented. The corroborating evidence for their existence is overwhelming.

    The evidence of historical Odysseus is spotty at best since he more than likely was a mythical Greek hero. Then again, no one, even the Greeks, claimed he was the incarnate son of god.

    Not only the Romans, but also the Jews wrote extensive narratives of the goings on in Jerusalem during the supposed life of Christ. There were scribes everywhere in Jerusalem, supposedly many who followed Jesus if the gospels are to be believed. Yet not one single account mentioning Jesus during his lifetime has ever been found. Not one.

    One of the greatest Jewish philosophers and historians, Philo Judaeus, lived in Jerusalem during all these supposed gospel accounts and yet not once does he mention any of it. No contemporary Roman or Greek accounts. Nothing. Only some wild tales, written down many decades after the supposed events by those who had already sold out to the death cult or those who repeated the same rumors well after the supposed facts.

    The closest you people have ever come were the supposed letters of Pontius Pilate to his friend Seneca the Younger. That whole urban legend is based on a novel written in the 1920’s by W. P Crozier and has absolutely no basis in fact. It was a fictional account for crying out loud. Yet, occasionally we see some reference to it by apologists to this day. There are no surviving letters from Pilate to Seneca. In all of his writings, Seneca not once mentions Jesus or his supposed miracles.

    Thus, in the wake of overwhelming evidence and lack of evidence I stand by my statements.

  396. #397 M Petersen
    July 13, 2006

    wintermute:
    I don’t really know for sure what the floodgates of the heavens actually represent. I’ll try to do some further research into the subject.

    Sure, I’ll give you the sweat glands thing.

    However, the poisonous substances contained in pork, called sutoxins, cause most of the illnesses which are chronic and difficult to treat. According to Reckeweg’s homotoxicology, these specific stress substances are found to be intercellular, that is:
    – as cholesterol-loaded macromolecules in the blood in cases of hypertonia, arteriosclerosis. plethora and in the walls of the cancer cells (so-called neoplasma phases);
    – as histamine and as imidazole bodies in cases of urticaria, herpes, dermatitis, eczema (causing itching), initiating inflammatory processes with furuncles, carbuncles, fluor albus, appendicitis, cholangitis, cholecystitiS, thrombophlebitiS and phlegmonS;
    – as growth hormone in promoting inflammatory and growth tendencies in cases of adipositas, acromegaly, neoplasma phases and hyperplasia;
    – as fatty acids in cases of hypotonia, polycythemia;
    – as mesenchymal, mucous substances rich in sulfur (amino sugars, hyaluronic acid, glucosamine, and others) in cases of myogelosis, arthrosis, osteochondrosis, rheumatism and arthritis;
    – as oncogenic agent;
    – as influenza virus.

    On the Tyre thing:
    The article I mentioned is quite extensive and kind of difficult to summarize.

    There’s a decent summary here: http://www.trinitysem.edu/journal/prophesy.html

    Here’s another one:

    1. Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon shall destroy the mainland (“field” KJV) portion of Tyre (Ezekiel 26:7-8).
    Nebuchadnezzar II laid siege to Tyre for thirteen years beginning in 585-586 B.C. During this time, the inhabitants transferred most of their valuables to the island. The king seized Tyre’s mainland territories but returned to Babylon, finding himself unable to subdue the island fortress militarily (cf. 29:18). Tyre, weakened by the conflict, soon recognized Babylonian authority, which effectively ended the city’s autonomy and any aspirations for a greater Phoenicia.

    2. Other nations are to participate in the fulfillment of the prophecy (vs. 3).
    Following the Babylonian period, Tyre remained in subjection to Persia from 538-332 B.C. Alexander the Great besieged and captured the port in 332 B.C., and Ptolemies, Seleucids, Romans, and Muslim Arabs all had their turn at rule. After passing briefly into the hands of the Crusaders, the city was destroyed completely by the Mamluks (former Muslim soldier-slaves) in A.D. 1291.

    3. The city is to be flattened, like the top of a rock (vss. 4,14).
    Like Nebuchadnezzar, Alexander was stymied by Tyre’s natural moat. The brilliant Macedonian was not so quick to give up, however. He used the building materials of the mainland city, and any other rocks and soil in the immediate vicinity, to build a causeway to the island. His complete conquest of Tyre took only seven months.

    4. It is to become a place for the spreading of nets (vss. 5,14).
    The waters around Tyre were renowned in ancient times for their fishing (Liverani, 1988, 5:932). This was all the fame the city could claim after its complete decimation by Alexander.

    5. Its stones and timbers are to be laid in the sea (vs. 12).
    As noted in item 3 above, the building of the causeway came from the remains of the mainland city. Sands carried by currents have built up a spit or tombolo around the causeway, forming a permanent connection between the island and the mainland.

    6. Other cities are to fear greatly at the fall of Tyre (vss. 15-18).
    Many fortified cities in the region capitulated to Alexander after they saw the genius and relative ease with which he captured Tyre.

    7. The city will not be inhabited or rebuilt (vss. 20-21).
    Alexander sold almost all of Tyre’s inhabitants into slavery, and the city forever lost its importance on the world stage. Any vestiges of strength and power disappeared with the destruction of the Crusader fortress. Soûr, as it is known by Arabs today, is a small town in southern Lebanon with a population of about 14,000 (1990 estimate; refugees have inflated that number significantly in the last several years).

    Even so, the fact that pieces of the city are even in the water at all and that the mainland remains as bare rock is pretty amazing.

    On the world will end in a generation:

    Matt 16:27-28 (Mark 9:1; Luke 9:26-27). As Jesus continued to instruct His disciples, He spoke prophetically of His second coming when He, the Son of Man, would return in His Father’s glory with His angels (cf. Matt. 24:30-31; 2 Thes. 1:7). As “the Son of . . . God” (Matt. 16:16) He possesses a divine nature, and as “the Son of Man” He possesses a human nature (cf. comments on 8:20). At that time the Lord will reward His servants for their faithfulness. Speaking of His return led Him to state that some disciples standing there with Him would be permitted to view His coming kingdom before they experienced death. This statement has caused many to misunderstand the kingdom program, for they wonder how the disciples saw the Lord coming in His kingdom. The explanation is found in the following event, the transfiguration (17:1-8). [Walvoord, John F., and Zuck, Roy B., The Bible Knowledge Commentary, (Wheaton, Illinois: Scripture Press Publications, Inc.) 1983, 1985.]

    28. To stress the reality of his coming and kingdom as an incentive to men to follow him, even in suffering, Christ gave the promise of verse 28. This coming of the Son of man in his kingdom is explained by some as the destruction of Jerusalem and by others as the beginning of the Church. But referring it to the Transfiguration meets the requirements of the context (all Synoptists follow this statement with the Transfiguration, Mk 9:1; Lk 9:27). Furthermore, Peter, who was one of those standing here, referred to the Transfiguration in the same words (II Pet 1:16-18). Chafer calls the Transfiguration a “preview of the coming kingdom on earth” (L. S. Chafer, Systematic Theology, V, 85).

    Matt 17:1-13. The Transfiguration. At this strategic moment in the ministry of Jesus, when he had evoked from Peter the true designation of himself (16:16), and had announced his coming death and resurrection, there was granted to three disciples this most remarkable experience. [Everett F. Harrison, The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, New Testament, (Chicago: Moody Press) 1962.]

  397. #398 M Petersen
    July 13, 2006

    For all that God admonishes us not to love material possessions and mundane things more than His glory, He rewards His devout followers with material possessions and mundane things.

    Not necessarily. There are many, many devout followers that are not rewarded with material possessions at all. One the reasons for material possessions being granted to followers is to use them bring glory to God – but it is more of a responsibility than a reward.

  398. #399 Will E.
    July 13, 2006

    “One the reasons for material possessions being granted to followers is to use them bring glory to God…”

    God really, really needs to get the fuck over Himself.

  399. #400 M Petersen
    July 13, 2006

    One of the greatest Jewish philosophers and historians, Philo Judaeus, lived in Jerusalem during all these supposed gospel accounts and yet not once does he mention any of it.

    Philo may not have lived long enough to see Christianity become a threat, and make Jesus worthy of note; to report nothing about someone in your history was a typical means of oblique insult; and we know Philo at least never mentions Christianity either, so the silence about Jesus is hardly problematic.

    Try these taken from http://www.tektonics.org/jesusexist/jesusexisthub.html:

    We conclude that we find three levels of source material:

    • Highly reliable sources. There are two of these: Tacitus and Josephus.
    • Moderately reliable sources. We find three: Thallus, Pliny, and Lucian. For the matter of Thallus, please see also our link in our essay to Glenn Miller’s essay on that subject, linked in our essay. (We will look at some objections to the Thallus cite.)
    • Marginally reliable or unreliable sources. Three are in this class: Suetonius, the letter of Mara Bar-Serapion, and the Talmud.
  400. #401 Jason
    July 13, 2006

    Jason the question must be asked who do you think wrote the bible?

    People inspired by God.

    Here you say it’s Solomon and not God.

    No, I didn’t say Solomon wrote the Bible. I didn’t even say Solomon wrote 1 Kings.

    So which parts exactly can you say God meant to be his words and which are the words of an uninspired individual.

    The parts that are God’s words are the parts that say things like “God said __________.” Anything else are the words of men inspired by God.

    The bible is essentially replete with narratives written by men but that is a given. How do you discern and which method of discernment are you using?

    How do you discern anything you read? How do you discern that “Saving Private Ryan” is a work of fiction and a biography is not? How do you discern that “reality TV” shows – while based on real events – are highly fictionalized through editting?

    I mean here we can ignore Solomon, why him and not Moses? That wasn’t God speaking either. Nor was Paul God, and Jesus never wrote anything that we know of. So what methodology are you using to discern?

    Who said anything about ignoring one part of the Bible or another? Ignore 1 Kings 7:23? Why? Because “it says pi equals 3?” It says no such thing. It records the construction and measurements of an object that not only is likely not a perfect circle, but also has a description in following verses that show it has an unusual shape.

    Sounds like the apologetic two step which of course is necessary to maintain your innerant belief.

    Hardly. No apologetics necessary. Just read the entire passage. It’s perfectly clear that (a) it’s a historical account, (b) the object is described as “circular,” a word which can describe objects that aren’t perfect circles, (c) the object has a larger description than just what’s in verse 23 – a description that can account for the measurements described and (d) the verse makes absolutely no reference to pi. All you skeptics like to criticize Christians for using an “apologetic two step” to add things to the Bible in order to explain away “errors” and “contradictions,” when it really turns out that it is you who are doing a “two step” to add and subtract things in order to create “errors” and “contradictions.”

    A belief not shared by rational people.

    Oh, let me guess. “Rational people” = “only atheists,” right? If you’re a Christian, you can’t be “rational.” Ironic…

  401. #402 j
    July 13, 2006

    No, not ironic.

    It’s not rational to believe something without evidence.

  402. #403 Jason
    July 13, 2006

    Again–why didn’t god, in all his infinite wisdom and ability, just create a people with all knowledge of the universe, the earth, and its natural wonders?

    In other words, why didn’t God just create us to be gods, too?

  403. #404 j
    July 13, 2006

    Good question.

    Why not?

  404. #405 M Petersen
    July 13, 2006

    This is in exactly the same class as the DA saying to the defense attorney, “I don’t understand why the sleazebag molested one daughter and not the other one, and I’m not sure I want to know.”

    This example is not even close at all. There’s a difference between not WANTING to know and not BEING ABLE to know.

  405. #406 M Petersen
    July 13, 2006

    God really, really needs to get the fuck over Himself.

    So a God who:
    – created the universe
    – knows everything
    – is infinite
    – is all powerful
    – created us
    – even though we choose to rebel against him, has provided a way for us to be reconciled
    is not worthy of glory?

  406. #407 speedwell
    July 13, 2006

    “There’s a difference between not WANTING to know and not BEING ABLE to know.”

    Oh? A healthy, normal man can’t understand what motivates a psychopath. And that’s enough of an explanation for why a healthy, normal man can’t understand the caprices and malfeasances of a psychopathic God.

  407. #408 Jason
    July 13, 2006

    No, not ironic.

    It’s not rational to believe something without evidence.

    Then everyone is irrational because everyone – even scientists and atheists – believes at least one thing without evidence.

    Of course, what makes you think I believe in God without evidence? Because faith is the opposite of evidence? Hardly. I can’t say that I have all the evidence there is that God exists anymore than a scientist or historian can say that we have all the evidence for things that have happened in the past. But I have seen enough evidence for me to put my faith in God instead of atheism.

  408. #409 speedwell
    July 13, 2006

    “So a God who: – created the universe – knows everything – is infinite – is all powerful – created us – even though we choose to rebel against him, has provided a way for us to be reconciled is not worthy of glory?”

    Demonic psychopaths are not worthy of glory, retard.

  409. #410 Jason
    July 13, 2006

    Good question.

    Why not?

    It went right over your head, didn’t it? “Why didn’t God create other gods?” Just think about that question for a minute or two. I mean, really think about it before you post again.

  410. #411 j
    July 13, 2006

    “So a God who: – created the universe”

    And all the problems that happen in that universe

    “- knows everything – is infinite – is all powerful”

    Yet can’t figure out a way to solve the problems in that universe

    “created us – even though we choose to rebel against him, has provided a way for us to be reconciled”

    And created us as sinners because of some stupid mistake Adam and Eve made a few thousand years ago

    “is not worthy of glory?”

    I won’t answer that.

  411. #412 Will E.
    July 13, 2006

    His vast and unending egomania is truly offensive.

  412. #413 Jason
    July 13, 2006

    Demonic psychopaths are not worthy of glory, retard.

    Indeed, but what does that have to do with God?

    And you’re quite quick with the ad homs, I noticed. Most atheist skeptics are.

  413. #414 j
    July 13, 2006

    Jason, I have to go eat lunch now.

    But if I can get to a computer this afternoon, I will respond to you.

    Bye.

  414. #415 Maitre Alcofribas
    July 13, 2006

    MP,
    I take it from your non-response to my post yesterday about the abundance of historical evidence for Aristotle, Plato and Alexander that you have nothing to offer in evidence for the existence of Jesus besides the self-serving and self-referential testimony of the Gospels. (And one brief mention in Josephus that adds nothing new to the record.)

    How can you possibly claim with a straight face that there is far more evidence for Santa (oops, I mean Jesus) than these well-attested historical figures? Where are the books written by the man, the coins, the contemporary inscriptions, the histories compiled from primary sources, etc.? (BTW, the wide peninsula that formed from Alexander’s causeway at Tyre is yet another proof of his having lived, if any more were needed.) And the Gospels clearly were not intended as historical accounts or biography, but as aide-memoirs for new members of the burgeoning Jesus movement, and recruiting propaganda for potential suckers (erm, I mean members.)

    I will take your continued silence on this subject as confirmation that you can’t answer my challenge. You have nothing but tautological reasoning on your side, no independent evidence.

  415. #416 Will E.
    July 13, 2006

    It’s as if this god needs constant reassurance of how great and mighty he is, despite the fact he created reality and everything in it. If I knew a person this needy and insecure, I’d run far, far away.

  416. #417 Jason
    July 13, 2006

    His vast and unending egomania is truly offensive.

    It’s as if this god needs constant reassurance of how great and mighty he is, despite the fact he created reality and everything in it. If I knew a person this needy and insecure, I’d run far, far away.

    Keep burning straw men, Will. Tell me, which one of us is supposed to be the troll again? Is it that since you are in agreement with this blog’s author about religion and the religious, that automatically means you not a troll?

  417. #418 Will E.
    July 13, 2006

    I’m just calling it like I see it. I don’t see what’s “straw man” about my comments, nor do I consider myself to be trolling. I don’t know where that came from.

  418. #419 Maitre Alcofribas
    July 13, 2006

    I see that while I was composing my latest post, paleotn addressed many of the same objections I did yesterday re historical evidence for Plato el al. versus Jesus. But MP’s answer still provides no new evidence other than Josephus, there are no independent, objective references to the man Jesus having acutally lived. Tacitus, Pliny, et al. mention an annoying bunch of Jesus-wallopers who were bothering the Romans with their insistence that only their god was real, and were written long after the events (if any) of his life. No one denies, of course, that a Jesus movement existed in the First Century CE. If that were proof of his existence, it would equally well prove that Vishnu and Ganesha are real, because Hindus exist! That does nothing, however, to corroborate independently the extraordinary claims that the Gospels make concerning his life and alleged afterlife. Sorry, dude, you’ll have to do better than that.

  419. #420 speedwell
    July 13, 2006

    “Why didn’t God create other gods?” Just think about that question for a minute or two. I mean, really think about it before you post again.

    Does this mean you know something about what motivates the Great Psychopath? Better talk to MP over there; he believes you can’t know anything about God’s reasons for doing things.

    I’m interested in hearing your answer to the question you posed as well, since you seem to think it’s so obvious.

    Oh, and MP, it’s not an ad hom if it’s true. Though since I’m a kind woman I’ll add “brainwashed” before “retard.” Honestly, you’re acting like an abused wife who “loves” the sumbitch who beats her.

  420. #421 Paul W.
    July 13, 2006

    Speedwell writes:

    And before any bogus lamer starts accusing Paul W. of anti-Semitism, I’m Jewish by birth and my whole family would say exactly what Paul just said about the Hebrews of the Bible being ignorant inferior tribesmen. Of course, we’ll follow it up by pointing out how far we’ve come since… lol.

    Yeah. I think it’s a pretty good sign that I learned that stuff from rabbis and other Jews.

    What’s appalling is the fundie Christians who trot out ancient Hebrew scriptures as the inerrant Word of God, to the complete dismay of my rabbi friends.

    M Petersen, I strongly suggest that you read Who Wrote the Bible? by Richard E. (sp?) Friedman. You’re apparently ignorant of 200 years of serious non-fundie scholarship about the history of the Hebrew scriptures, and Friedman’s book is a nice, highly readable intro. (It’s an interesting, well-written book I recommend to anyone, whether they “need” to read it or not. The first half, especially.)

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0060630353/103-2494378-3970252?v=glance&n=283155

  421. #422 Maitre Alcofribas
    July 13, 2006

    “So a God who: – created the universe – knows everything – is infinite – is all powerful – created us – even though we choose to rebel against him, has provided a way for us to be reconciled is not worthy of glory?”

    We didn’t choose to rebel against him. Original sin is total bullshit (surprise!) It makes absolutely no goddamn sense for this deity to punish in perpetuity the progeny of the original couple, for their mistake. It just proves that he is a petulant, immature pissant, who does what he wants just because he can. That, sir, is not my definition of a “just god”. Sorry. A three-year-old has a more developed sense of justice.

  422. #423 Steve_C
    July 13, 2006

    I just want to know if Jason thinks we’re are nearing Armageddon and if he’s getting ready for and/or doing things or hoping things will speed it’s arrival?

    And God said: (to the man hearing voices in his head or from a talking bush that’s on fire)

  423. #424 Squeaky
    July 13, 2006

    J answers MPete (I think) (by the way, J, if you are the same J who made the hydrogen comment, I know it was a rhetorical question. I just couldn’t resist quoting some TMBGiants):
    ‘”So a God who: – created the universe”

    And all the problems that happen in that universe

    “- knows everything – is infinite – is all powerful”

    Yet can’t figure out a way to solve the problems in that universe

    “created us – even though we choose to rebel against him, has provided a way for us to be reconciled”

    And created us as sinners because of some stupid mistake Adam and Eve made a few thousand years ago’

    This gets back to the question of why is there suffering? I’ve read many posts here that point fingers at God accusing Him of not caring about His creation. If He cared, wouldn’t He have created a perfect world without even the possibility of suffering? However, isn’t it possible that blaming God for our suffering is just a way of excusing yourself from responsibility? Yes, there is suffering in the world. And we shake our fist at God and say, “Why don’t you do something about this?” when perhaps it is God’s intent that WE do something about it. We ask, “Why won’t God do anything about suffering if he is so all powerful and loving?” I would say He did. He created YOU with brains and intellect and gave you the ability to have compassion and love and empathy for the people around you. Yes, there is suffering in the world, but is it more the result of a God who isn’t doing His job, or a people He created who aren’t doing the job He gave them?

  424. #425 wintermute
    July 13, 2006

    M Petersen:

    On pork:
    Once again, you miss the point. It is not important that none of the diseases of pigs are more dangerous than those of sheep or cows. It is not important that these diseases can all be destroyed by proper cooking. It’s not important than pigs were a common foodsource acress Europe even before the invention of penecillin. What is important is this:

    The reason given for pigs being unclean is that they have cloven hooves but don’t chew the cud.

    You linked to an article that stated that when the Bible said “chewing the cud”, it actually meant “eating their own fæces”. I argued that if this definition was accurate, then sheep, cows, goats and all other ungulates would also be unclean, yet they’re not. Therefore, it only makes sense to interpret “chewing the cud” as “chewing the cud”.

    And even that doesn’t matter, as coneys (which are NOT rabbits) do neither. You’d think an omnipotent God who created all these animals would have noticed that.

    On Tyre:
    *sigh* So now it’s the mainland portoin of Tyre that was destroyed and remains uninhabited, and not the island?

    Neither part of Tyre has ever been “flattened”. Not by Nebuchadnezzar, nor Alexander, nor by the Mamluks.

    I can’t find a census for the city of Tyre, but it’s repeatedly described as a major city (Wikipedia says it’s the 4th largest in Lebanon). But, even if your 14,000 population was right, that means that vs 20-21 are clearly false. There *are* people living in Tyre, and there was never a time when there weren’t.

    Even so, the fact that pieces of the city are even in the water at all and that the mainland remains as bare rock is pretty amazing.

    The mainland remains part of a vibrant, modern city, visited by tens of thousands of tourists every year. The fact that people can believe that it’s nothing more than “bare rock” sis pretty amazing.

    The sources you cite all agree that the prophecy wasn’t that Nebuchadnezzar would destroy Tyre, but that some un-named army would do so, thousands of years hence. And when the human race goes extinct, and our cities crumble to dust and slide into the sea, God will be able to look back and say “There. Prophecy fulfilled”, right?

    How does it differ from the following prophecy: Eventually, everything east of the San Andreas fault will slide into the sea.

    On the Second Coming:
    A moment ago, you said that those verses were about the end of the world, and now they’re about Jesus rising from the dead? If this is true, the “Kingdom of Heaven” has been upon us for the last two thousand years. So where do you go when you die? And why are there so amny wars and murders? I though Heavan was supposed to be all-good?

  425. #426 Steve_C
    July 13, 2006

    ahhhh squeaky… now you’ve come to a good reason to BE an atheist.

    if we only have this world and one life… why not make it better?
    it should be made better and cared for because this is it.

    there is no test. there is no reward. there is no punishment waiting.

  426. #427 M Petersen
    July 13, 2006

    Oh, and MP, it’s not an ad hom if it’s true. Though since I’m a kind woman I’ll add “brainwashed” before “retard.” Honestly, you’re acting like an abused wife who “loves” the sumbitch who beats her.

    I never said it was ad hom, that was Jason.

  427. #428 squeaky
    July 13, 2006

    Steve_C

    Hmm…but you can also make the opposite argument. If there is no test, no reward, and no punishment waiting…well, then, eat, drink, and be merry! Why should you even care about what happens to anyone else? Atheism has been used to make that argument, too.

    And it seems to me this is exactly what Jesus asked us to do:

    “if we only have this world and one life… why not make it better?
    it should be made better and cared for because this is it.”

    That certainly was the example He set, afterall. Christianity is supposed to be a group of people who are Christ to the rest of the world. The motivation behind doing His work should NOT be eternal reward or avoidance of eternal punishment. I understand that is the motivation for many people, but it shouldn’t be.

  428. #429 Maitre Alcofribas
    July 13, 2006

    Still waiting, MP.

  429. #430 M Petersen
    July 13, 2006

    Maitre: I am only human here, so please do not a lack of response as having no answer.

    I do not question the existence of Aristotle, Plato, or Alexander. But also, neither does any serious historian question the existence of Jesus of Nazareth. You obviously did not read the articles I posted.

  430. #431 paleotn
    July 13, 2006

    Peterson replied….

    “Philo may not have lived long enough to see Christianity become a threat, and make Jesus worthy of note”

    What?…..

    I guy who walks on water,
    Heals hundreds all over Palestine.
    Is thronged by huge mobs every where he goes
    Kicks the crap out of the sellers in the temple
    Claims repeatedly in public to be the son of god
    Pisses off the Jewish religious leaders to the point that
    they arrest him and convince the Romans to crucify him,
    At his death, long since departed people are raised to life

    ….this guy is not worthy of note regardless of whether the death cult had become a threat or not? Are you seriously suggesting that?

    Josephus is the earliest non-christian to mention Jesus, but Antiquities was written in 93 CE. Well after the gospels were supposedly written. He’s simply repeating rumors of the day, that is if the Jesus blurb were even his words. There is evidence that it was inserted later by early christian leader Eusebius.

    Tacitus wasn’t even born until 64 CE and gives only a brief mention in his Annals, with no sources given for his information. Repeated rumors again.

    Pliny the Younger wasn’t born until 62 CE. He got his info, like Tacitus, most likely from rumors or the christians themselves. His father Pliny the Elder was alive during Jesus supposed lifetime and mentions not one single, solitary word about any Jewish messiah.

    Lucian wasn’t born until 120 CE. Coming on the scene that late discounts his words as merely repeating the same old rumors and wild tales of the death cult long after the events supposedly took place.

    The only information anyone has about Thallus first appeared in apologetics from the 2nd century CE. Precious little is known about him or his authenticity. For all we know he could be an apologetic invention. http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/thallus.html

    Suetonius mentions a Chrestus, but that’s merely a common name at the time. The claim that he meant Jesus is purely an assumption based on zero evidence. Again, he was born well after Jesus supposed lifetime, so even if he meant Jesus its still a repeat common rumors.

    Mar Bar-Serapion wasn’t born until 73 CE. AGAIN well after the supposed events took place.

    The Talmud? Are you kidding me? There is zero evidence the Yeshu mentioned is this particular Jesus.

    Do you see a pattern here? Every single source you gave me wrote long after the supposed events. Nothing written corroborating these earth shattering events, during the period they supposedly happened, has ever been found. How hard is that to understand?

  431. #432 M Petersen
    July 13, 2006

    This gets back to the question of why is there suffering? I’ve read many posts here that point fingers at God accusing Him of not caring about His creation. If He cared, wouldn’t He have created a perfect world without even the possibility of suffering? However, isn’t it possible that blaming God for our suffering is just a way of excusing yourself from responsibility? Yes, there is suffering in the world. And we shake our fist at God and say, “Why don’t you do something about this?” when perhaps it is God’s intent that WE do something about it. We ask, “Why won’t God do anything about suffering if he is so all powerful and loving?” I would say He did. He created YOU with brains and intellect and gave you the ability to have compassion and love and empathy for the people around you. Yes, there is suffering in the world, but is it more the result of a God who isn’t doing His job, or a people He created who aren’t doing the job He gave them?

    Very good point.

  432. #433 Steve_C
    July 13, 2006

    Ahhh. Then I am more moral than you?

    I believe in freedom and justice and taking
    care of my fellow man and the planet we live in
    with no other intention of knowing that it’s right.

    You have to be told. And you have to live in fear or
    are expecting to be rewarded AFTER you’ve died.
    And if you think that’s not your motivation, then
    what’s the point of having religion?

    I think this life is the reward. I was just lucky that my
    parents go it on and the right egg and sperm joined up.

    And by all means I intend to eat drink and be merry.

  433. #434 M Petersen
    July 13, 2006

    paleton:
    It’s great how you spout off that they’re “repeating rumours” with no basis.

    I suppose you don’t have proof of this.

  434. #435 speedwell
    July 13, 2006

    Good point what? Which of us humans created disease? Which of us created hurricanes and floods? Who is responsible for anencephalic babies?

    If you’re going to blame it all on created beings (including “Satan”), you still have to ask yourself who created the created beings, and why he did so knowing full well what would happen to them and what they would do?

    That’s so easy to refute I’m tempted to call you a fuckwit again, but I have been persuaded that’s counterproductive, however true.

  435. #436 impatientpatient
    July 13, 2006

    So a God who: – created the universe – knows everything – is infinite – is all powerful – created us – even though we choose to rebel against him, has provided a way for us to be reconciled is not worthy of glory?

    *********************************************

    No M he is not. Not if he KNOWS how to cure disease, how to end your precious suffering and why we have schizophrenia, spina bifida and alzheimers……. but lets us figure it out on our own.

    Fuck that. That would be akin to me allowing my kid with cancer (figment here) to heal themselves without intervention by me- for their own good. No rides to the doc, no helping with anything- just deal with it- it will make you stronger. Just BELIEVE that I am doing the best that I can for you, honey.

    THe more I think about this the more I am reminded about how I was taught at a private religious school how laughable every other faith was…. and how “OUR faith” had the answers.

    Ummm…. not so much. People of THAT faith have told me that we could cure what ails us with our mind and by acquiring faith. WTF????? I remember the psychosocial “circle” being drawn and how each segment of the circle was dependant on the other. More time was spent on that bullshit and trying to convert us to that mindset than the anatomy of the body part involved. And when they did get to that part they fucked it all up. I, a layperson, had to correct them.

    Yeah- god deserves all the glory all right. Basically for “creating” a brain that was apparently never meant to be used for much more than parroting idiocies.

  436. #437 Squeaky
    July 13, 2006

    Well, Steve_C
    “Ahhh. Then I am more moral than you?”

    Um, what?

    “I believe in freedom and justice and taking
    care of my fellow man and the planet we live in
    with no other intention of knowing that it’s right.”

    But wouldn’t you agree that there are others who say “I’m going to live for myself regardless of how it may negatively affect another human being because it just doesn’t matter.”

    If you disagree, check out the news tonight.

    “You have to be told. And you have to live in fear or
    are expecting to be rewarded AFTER you’ve died.
    And if you think that’s not your motivation, then
    what’s the point of having religion?”

    Have we met? It’s like you’ve known me for…never. Don’t assume anything about me or my motivations. I agree some people’s motivation for doing good is because they expect eternal reward. Others’ are motivated because they simply love Christ and want to be like Him. For them, that’s the point of religion.

  437. #438 impatientpatient
    July 13, 2006

    But wouldn’t you agree that there are others who say “I’m going to live for myself regardless of how it may negatively affect another human being because it just doesn’t matter.”
    **********************************************************

    Appaerently Kenneth Lay lived like this and they compared HIM to Jesus.

    Whatever!!!

    Wh

  438. #439 M Petersen
    July 13, 2006

    Well you all seem bent on blaming God for creating us the way He did. I can’t claim to know all those reasons either. I don’t blame God, I thankful I was created at all and that He loves me so much.

    According to the census here of non-believers, God is bad because we’re not perfect and the world is not perfect. We will be perfect and the world will be perfect when God creates a new heaven and a new earth. Why didn’t he do it the first time? I have no idea.

    For some reason, God gave us free will and the ability to choose Him or not. Those that don’t will have their way and those that do will be with Him forever.

    Ok, I must get some actual work done now. I wish you all the best.

  439. #440 impatientpatient
    July 13, 2006

    And every time people do use their brains, m, people of your persuasion have a funny habit of denying the truth of their findings. Remember what happened to the guy who figured out that the Earth was not the center of the Universe???

    Oh yeah—– the church had a downright piss party all over his head for a few hundred years.

    Now about this new fangled evolution stuff— what has your side had to say on that particular subject that adds to the scientific discussion and evidence?

    Funny thing- oh- by the way did you read the paper about the EVOLUTION of the shoulder and neck and all that real hard stuff. I have two siblings with SB and one has AC syndrome. It is relevant, current, and evolution based – and something that may HELP people in the future.

  440. #441 Steve_C
    July 13, 2006

    I turn on the news and I see christians hoping for armageddon and the end of the world.
    I see them bombing health clinics and killing doctors. I see them protesting at soldiers funerals. I see them denying science and demanding control of the government.

    I don’t look at the world and think… if only more people were religious the world would be a better place.

    I get that you go with the Jesus that most suits your personality. And maybe you don’t need him to be moral.

  441. #442 Alexander Vargas
    July 13, 2006

    How come? my latest post showed up only for a moment and then disappeared…
    pretty frustrating!! hahah

  442. #443 Alexander Vargas
    July 13, 2006

    Oh, I see.. I mistakenly posted it on another thread, haha
    M Petersen
    I guess the big bang does not convince you either, huh?
    See science is all about HOW. HOW did the universe come to be?
    And the fact is that the entire universe is moving and expanding from what seems to have been nothing less than the starting point of some huge explosion.
    I think that is super cool.
    Even a child can ask who made god and it is no silly question. Scientists used to think the question of the origin of the universe is pointless since philosophically, even a “beggining” would have originated from something preexistent
    However the big bang has led philosopers to reflect on whether there could actually be something as a true starting point, a true origin without precursors…a fair question, I’d say.

    You still have a deep confusion about what science is about. And you still believe you can justify your beliefs by means other than faith. Basically, you have placed science under suspicion. You don’t believe man can figure things out. Therefore you have postponed diligently and honestly considering its evidence, and you’d rather read more and more religious texts that, of course, also preach distrust from “man and his knowledge’

    You should know better. I’m letting you know that you wrongly believe that what is fact is speculation, and that man cannot figure out thingsthat he can.

    Anyway, M petersen, I know you are preaching unto us and thus fulfilling the mission god has given you. By all means, be happy with yourself. But you delude yourself if you think you are being effective by avoiding the science topic. You suspect evolution to be untrue. You will never win our hearts since you cannot hide the unfairness unto yourself with which you have underanalized this topic.

    Other religions know better. The catholic curch has accepted common descent and said “truth cannot contradict truth”. They are smarter. Period.

    And much less will you get us to belive in the rapture. M Petersen, we have a looong, long time to go here together on earth, the end of times has ALWAYS been near, if you know what I mean. And we must learn to truly understand how other people thinks, and learn to get along. Bringing into question weel established and mighty cool scientific knowledge does not help anyone. You have not tried to understand how we think, to walk in our shoes. You are preaching, “delivering the message” cause that is what you are supposed to do; But until you show some greater responsibilty with knowing this crowd, you will truly be preaching in the desert.

  443. #444 Maitre Alcofribas
    July 13, 2006

    MP, what paleotn said.

    It’s not “spouting off” to say that they were only repeating rumors, it’s a fact. Absolutely nothing new was added to the information about Jesus by these authors (as I pointed out in a post, above.) What I (and paleotn) are asking for is independent, objective corroborative evidence that the extraordinary claims made of your god are true. (And the Christians say that their god did such and such does not qualify as independent evidence.)

    That would mean new information, from a different perspective, that could be used to evaluate those claims. As paleotn pointed out, if Jesus really did those amazing things, don’t you think someone else would have noticed? I mean come on, now!

    BTW, have you ever heard of Apollonius of Tyre? He lived about a century before Jesus, and was reputed to have done many of the same things: walk on water, heal the blind and lame, raise the dead, etc. Why believe the Jesus stories, but dismiss Apollonius as fiction? It seems like special pleading to me.

    You reallly should look into how fantastic legends get attached to real people (Alexander the Great for example, the romances of late antiquity and the middle ages.) Or Robin Hood, or King Arthur, etc. I have no problem with believing that a man by the name of Jesus son of Joseph may have lived in first century Palestine, just the fantastic fables with their clearly folkloric elements (with so many parallels in so many cultures), are a tad hard to swallow.

  444. #445 Will E.
    July 13, 2006

    “According to the census here of non-believers, God is bad because we’re not perfect and the world is not perfect.”

    Not quite: god(s) are neither bad nor good; god(s) do not exist. The idea is flawed because flawed men made it up. We are pointing out the flaws of the idea, because that is what all god(s) are: ideas. I have no fear of this statement. It is simple and honest and direct.

    The world is neither perfect nor imperfect; it simply is, and we accept the reality we see before us and have no reason to think invisible things control us or the world. We are not created entities forced to live in a cosmic drama; we are creators of myths and drama and the time to think that those things are anything but created is long past.

  445. #446 Maitre Alcofribas
    July 13, 2006

    MP, what paleotn said.

    It’s not “spouting off” to say that they were only repeating rumors, it’s a fact. Absolutely nothing new was added to the information about Jesus by these authors (as I pointed out in a post, above.) What I (and paleotn) are asking for is independent, objective corroborative evidence that the extraordinary claims made of your god are true. (And the Christians say that their god did such and such does not qualify as independent evidence.)

    That would mean new information, from a different perspective, that could be used to evaluate those claims. As paleotn pointed out, if Jesus really did those amazing things, don’t you think someone else would have noticed? I mean come on, now!

    BTW, have you ever heard of Apollonius of Tyana? He lived about a century before Jesus, and was reputed to have done many of the same things: walk on water, heal the blind and lame, raise the dead, etc. Why believe the Jesus stories, but dismiss Apollonius as fiction? It seems like special pleading to me.

    You reallly should look into how fantastic legends get attached to real people (Alexander the Great for example, the romances of late antiquity and the middle ages.) Or Robin Hood, or King Arthur, etc. I have no problem with believing that a man by the name of Jesus son of Joseph may have lived in first century Palestine, just the fantastic fables with their clearly folkloric elements (with so many parallels in so many cultures), are a tad hard to swallow.

  446. #447 Steve_C
    July 13, 2006

    http://www.deism.com/biblevotes.htm

    The bible was compiled by a pagan to consildate power.

  447. #448 Alexander Vargas
    July 13, 2006

    Now then many preachers are not really interested in changing peoples minds for good. They just want to give “the warning” so they can count them as “warned” and thus move closer to the rapture.

    It is interesting that all these end of times talking are built on the pretense that the will of god in the bible could be studied scientifically. Good old fashion, XIXth century american “dispensationalism”. They calculated the end of times from exequiel, daniel, revelation and stated that scientific proof of the bible was available in the prophecies that had become fulfilled, and thus the ones to come were reliable. Several new american religions latched onto the concept of such bible calculations, providing not only dates but the sequences of events leading up to them.
    Modern dispensationalims has learnt not to provide dates anymore but still insists on sequences of events an e are ALWAYS at the border itself of the abyss, two steps away from the rapture. I know people who have believed that since 1975. 31 years and the world seemed to them as bad and hopeless as it seems to them now. Is this not a matter of how we choose to view the world?

    All american, XIXth century dispensationalism. In the century of enlightment, of light bulbs, dinosaurs, daguerrotypes and phonographs, religion did not fail in presenting its approach to the bible as “scientific”.

    Which all has to do with our little problem with faith and science

  448. #449 paleotn
    July 13, 2006

    Peterson again…

    “It’s great how you spout off that they’re “repeating rumours” with no basis.

    I suppose you don’t have proof of this.”

    Jesus H. Christus man, they weren’t ALIVE during Jesus’ supposed lifetime! Therefore, they must be repeating what they had heard! Their acknowledgments are just quick blurbs recognizing a new cult based upon some guy named Jesus. Like there weren’t hundreds of mystery cults floating around the empire at the time. Many mention other cults, but does that mean those cults are true as well? No.

    Philo was alive and IN JERUSALEM, along with hundreds of other scribes and scholars, Jewish, Greek, etc. etc., and yet not one, single, solitary first hand account about those spectacular events has ever been found. Events that would have absolutely amazed the most jaded of 1st century human beings. Why? Occams simple answer is those events never happened or did not happen as they are portrayed in the gospels. Why can you not get that through your head?

  449. #450 Squeaky
    July 13, 2006

    Steve_C
    “I turn on the news and I see christians hoping for armageddon and the end of the world.
    I see them bombing health clinics and killing doctors. I see them protesting at soldiers funerals. I see them denying science and demanding control of the government.”

    So you are saying all of the evil in the world is the result of the actions of Christians. I don’t deny Christians have done the things you list above. That wasn’t my point, anyway. I made no attempt at trying to convey that Christianity is perfect because I know full well it isn’t. The point I was trying to make is that some people do evil because they don’t believe in an afterlife, they believe this is all there is, and have decided to do whatever they please regardless of how it hurts others. I was pointing out that people can take the same assessment you have made about life, and instead of using our little time here to do good, they choose to do bad. It’s pretty easy to fall back on the old standard “religion is the root of all evil” rather than own up to the fact that religion isn’t the only motivator for evil.

    Impatientimpatient:
    “Appaerently Kenneth Lay lived like this and they compared HIM to Jesus. ”

    I would never compare that man to Jesus. I’m astounded by any Christian or anyone else who would. Clearly, they love money and power above justice and fairness.

    “Now about this new fangled evolution stuff— what has your side had to say on that particular subject that adds to the scientific discussion and evidence? ”

    I don’t know–I guess you would have to check with the Christian biologists at Wheaton College, or read some stuff by Kenneth Miller. Not every Christian rejects evolution, nor does every evolutionary biologist reject religion.

    I must return to the land of no internet, so I will not be able to participate in this discussion any longer, unless it is still going strong tomorrow…which it just may be–longest thread I’ve ever seen here!

    Cheers, y’all

  450. #451 Jason
    July 13, 2006

    I’m just calling it like I see it. I don’t see what’s “straw man” about my comments,

    Look up what the straw man fallacy is sometime. Your portrayl of God as an “egomania[c]” who “needs constant reassurance of how great and mighty he is” and is “needy and insecure” falls under the fallacy. Those are your false inventions to make “my side” look bad.

    nor do I consider myself to be trolling. I don’t know where that came from.

    Easy. You’re simply posting those things to get a rise out of myself and other Christians here. That’s trolling. I’m not trying to get a rise out of anyone with my posts, but that doesn’t stop all of you from condemning me as a troll.

  451. #452 Jason
    July 13, 2006

    Does this mean you know something about what motivates the Great Psychopath? Better talk to MP over there; he believes you can’t know anything about God’s reasons for doing things.

    I’m interested in hearing your answer to the question you posed as well, since you seem to think it’s so obvious.

    Try thinking about the Ten Commandments.

    Oh, and MP, it’s not an ad hom if it’s true.

    “True” according to whom? You? Do you have some proof that this person is retarded? I assume you either know them personally or are privy to his medical and social files, which would be the only way you could have proof.

    Though since I’m a kind woman I’ll add “brainwashed” before “retard.” Honestly, you’re acting like an abused wife who “loves” the sumbitch who beats her.

    Actually, you’re not kind at all. You’re a bigot. Hey, it’s not ad hominem because it’s true (and it actually is true and not just me saying so).

  452. #453 Uber
    July 13, 2006

    Why is a “scientist” more qualified to speak on science than any other individual? Why is a “biologist” more qualified to speak on biology than astronomy?

    You can’t compare the study of experimental and provable ideas to that of theology which is quite literally based on nothing. You may compare it to various forms of philosophy of which a structure can be mounted and you missed the point of me saying ‘past their own particular denominations’.

    The bible is essentially replete with narratives written by men but that is a given. How do you discern and which method of discernment are you using?
    How do you discern anything you read? How do you discern that “Saving Private Ryan” is a work of fiction and a biography is not? How do you discern that “reality TV” shows – while based on real events – are highly fictionalized through editting?

    So you don’t have a method then?

    The parts that are God’s words are the parts that say things like “God said __________.” Anything else are the words of men inspired by God.

    Do you not realize the banality of this statement? The utter stupidity of it. When you say it says ‘God said who do you think wrote it down? Do you think an invisible finger did it? So how is that any different than the words of inspired men? And if they are inspired how is that different than God speaking? Is he not speaking through them?

    Your argument is completely incoherent.

  453. #454 Will E.
    July 13, 2006

    Technically, that’s not a straw man argument–that is honestly how I see this conception of a god that needs constant worship, as an egomaniac. Straw man would be if I was just saying that *you* felt that way and then condemned you for it. I know you don’t think that of God that way–of course you don’t. I do, and I said so.

    I never really thought of you as a troll, even though I disagree with everything you’ve posted here and on other threads. To me, trolling is saying something purposefully offensive that isn’t germane to the topic, such as a racist comment, for example. All I’m trying to do is engage in debate with some folks, some who I agree with and some I don’t.

  454. #455 Chance
    July 13, 2006

    Actually, you’re not kind at all. You’re a bigot. Hey, it’s not ad hominem because it’s true

    How can she be a bigot jsut because she thinks your irrational which you are? She is not seeking to take anything from you, not actively doing anything other than saying your full of baloney. If she is a bigot what does that make those opposing gays and a variety of other social issues.

    All she did was call BS.

  455. #456 Chris
    July 13, 2006

    Book of Ezekiel (ch. 26) re: Tyre (emphases added):

    7 “For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: From the north I am going to bring against Tyre Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, king of kings, with horses and chariots, with horsemen and a great army. 8 He will ravage your settlements on the mainland with the sword; he will set up siege works against you, build a ramp up to your walls and raise his shields against you. 9 He will direct the blows of his battering rams against your walls and demolish your towers with his weapons. 10 His horses will be so many that they will cover you with dust. Your walls will tremble at the noise of the war horses, wagons and chariots when he enters your gates as men enter a city whose walls have been broken through. 11 The hoofs of his horses will trample all your streets; he will kill your people with the sword, and your strong pillars will fall to the ground. 12 They will plunder your wealth and loot your merchandise; they will break down your walls and demolish your fine houses and throw your stones, timber and rubble into the sea. 13 I will put an end to your noisy songs, and the music of your harps will be heard no more. 14 I will make you a bare rock, and you will become a place to spread fishnets. You will never be rebuilt, for I the LORD have spoken, declares the Sovereign LORD.

    I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that this part of Ezekiel was written while Tyre was under siege by Nebuchadnezzar. (Estimates of Ezekiel’s life make him contemporaneous with Nebuchadnezzar’s reign.) This makes one of the most apparently salient parts of the prediction 20/20 hindsight, and also gives the prediction immediate psychological impact: God says Tyre is going to lose! 8-9 are ordinary descriptions of armies and tactics of the period, with perhaps a little hyperbole about Babylonian might. 10-14 specifically predict Nebuchadnezzar breaking the gates, sacking the city and destroying it, and that it will never be rebuilt. The entire passage is clearly talking about one event, the attack by Nebuchadnezzar.

    What actually happened (via Wikipedia article on Nebuchadnezzar II) (emphasis added):

    After the destruction of Jerusalem, Nebuchadrezzar engaged in a 13 year long siege of Tyre (585-572 BC), which ended in a compromise, with the Tyrians accepting Babylonian authority.

    Nebuchadnezzar didn’t break the gates and didn’t sack the city. He may have exacted tribute, but that is a far cry from plunder, let alone demolishing houses and throwing their stones and timber into the sea.

    Centuries later, Alexander *did* sack (parts of) the city, but it was rebuilt; even if you allow a passage that specifically names Nebuchadnezzar and was probably written during his reign to refer to Alexander about 250 years later, the prophecy specifically states that Tyre won’t be rebuilt.

    Here’s what Tyre looks like today. Bare rock? Place to spread fishnets? Not exactly. The ancient island fortress is now the end of a peninsula, and most of the peninsula appears heavily urbanized.

    *IF* the passage was written before Nebuchadnezzar’s intention to attack Tyre was clear, then that part is an accurate prediction; otherwise it’s an observation of an ongoing attack. The rest is simply wrong. It’s wrong in great and vivid detail, but it’s still wrong.

  456. #457 Jason
    July 13, 2006

    I just want to know if Jason thinks we’re are nearing Armageddon

    We’re always nearing the so-called “last days.” Did you mean to ask, “Is Armageddon going to happen soon?” My answer to that question is, “I don’t know and I don’t have to know.”

    and if he’s getting ready for and/or doing things or hoping things will speed it’s arrival?

    No. I’m just watching, waiting and helping to spread the Gospel. There’s nothing I or any other Christian can do to “speed it’s [sic] arrival.” God is not beholden to our actions and our actions will not speed up or slow down the timeline for His plans.

  457. #458 impatientpatient
    July 13, 2006

    Using Children as ‘God’s Army’
    Alternet

    http://shogo.gnn.tv/headlines/9598/_End_Times_Religious_Groups_Want_Apocalypse_Soon

    A new documentary chronicles a summer camp where children, as young as six, are trained to become devout Christian soldiers.

    Gandhi once said if Christians lived according to their faith, there would be no Hindus left in India. He knew how powerful the fundamental tenets of Christianity–fighting poverty, caring for the least among us, loving your enemies, eschewing materialism and embracing humility–could be if everyone who called themselves a Christian truly followed them.

    The new documentary, Jesus Camp, which chronicles a North Dakota summer camp where kids as young as 6 are taught to become dedicated Christian soldiers in “God’s army,” is an illustration of this sentiment in the extreme.

    The film, by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, the duo who also directed the critically-acclaimed The Boys of Baraka, opened to an appreciative and flabbergasted audience at the 2006 TriBeca Film Festival, where it received the Special Jury Award. The directors skillfully captured the daily interactions of a world that would be foreign to most viewers: children speaking in tongues and talking of being “born again” at age 5.

    The star of the film is Pastor Becky Fischer, who explains the startling mission of her “Kids on Fire” camp: “I want young people to be as committed to laying down their lives for the Gospel as they are in Pakistan.” At the camp, the children are asked: “How many of you want to be those who will give up your life for Jesus?” Little hands shoot up from every direction. They are told: “We have to break the power of the enemy over the government.” At one point, Becky yells: “This means war! Are you a part of it or not?” More little hands.

    The directors take us into the homes of the children, where we see them “pledge allegiance to the Christian flag” and play a video game called “Creation Adventure” that debunks evolution. A mother helps her children with homework and informs them that, “Global warming is not going to happen. Science doesn’t prove anything.”

    The film takes us back to the camp, where the children are gathered for their daily teaching. Suddenly, a camp counselor places a life-size cardboard cutout before the group. No, it’s not Jesus. It’s George Bush. Clapping erupts and Becky encourages them to “say hello to the President.” Becky claims that “President Bush has added credibility to being a Christian.”

    Statistics about the spectacular number of “evangelicals” in the United States are ominously flashed onscreen throughout the movie, implicitly suggesting that Becky and her assembled camp are giving us a peek into the inner workings of the “evangelical movement.” But it might be worth questioning the conventional wisdom that the 100 million Americans who call themselves evangelicals all march to the same beat. Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, and James Dobson have a vested interest in presenting this group as a conservative monolith under their exclusive and unquestioned control. And while there is no denying the electoral power of the Religious Right, Democrats should not assume that all, or even a majority, of evangelicals naturally hew to the Republican line.

    While it’s never disclosed in the movie, Jesus Camp is in fact a Pentecostal camp, which puts it far to the right theologically and politically, even within the evangelical movement. The directors explained that they didn’t want to confuse audiences by disclosing this and instead referred to the camp only as “evangelical.” Unfortunately, they unwittingly added to the enormous confusion that people like Jim Wallis, author of God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It, has been trying to clear up for years.

    Wallis, who is the founder and editor of Sojourners, a progressive Christian magazine, spends much of his time traveling the country talking to students and meeting with evangelical leaders. Wallis believes the future of the country is in the hands of moderate evangelical voters. He estimates, based on polls and personal experience, that about half of evangelicals are the immovable Religious Right but the other half are open to, if not hungry for, progressive leadership.

    “The facts on the ground are changing,” says Wallis. He reports a marked increase in attendance of his speeches on Christian campuses and the issues he gets asked about the most are not gay marriage or abortion. Wallis says abortion will naturally remain important issue to the moderate evangelical voter, but it is not a litmus test. They want leaders who will acknowledge their moral concerns about this issue and who are committed to decreasing the number of abortions, a position that puts them well within the mainstream of Democratic voters.

    And it’s no different if Wallis is meeting with the leader of an evangelical mega-church. One such leader recently told Wallis, “I’m a conservative on Jesus, the Bible and the Resurrection, but I’m becoming a social liberal.” When Wallis asked why, he heard what has become a familiar refrain: evangelicals are increasingly despairing over the neglect of the poor, the environment, and the U.S. inaction on fighting the genocide in Darfur.

    White evangelicals make up close to 25 percent of the electorate and, in 2004, a whopping 78 percent of them voted for George Bush. But evangelicals didn’t always line up behind the Republican candidate. According to Pew Research, in 1987, white evangelicals were almost evenly divided between the two parties. And today, many evangelical leaders believe that a growing number of these voters are prepared to return to the Democratic fold, but only if Democrats stop misunderstanding, neglecting, and even intentionally ignoring what was and should be a natural constituency.

    Meanwhile, evangelical groups are finding their voice on many progressive issues. U2 front man Bono has talked extensively of the unlikely partnership he has forged with evangelical leaders in fighting the AIDS crisis. One of those leaders is Ted Haggard, a staunch Republican who founded the now 12,000-person New Life Church and heads the National Association of Evangelicals. Haggard personally counseled British Prime Minister Blair on how to persuade President Bush to support Third World debt relief and has made protecting the environment a central issue of concern for his church.

    In February, Christianity Today’s cover blasted “Why Torture is Always Wrong.” Joining with the Catholic Church, more than 50 evangelical Christian leaders and organizations recently voiced their support for an immigration bill that would allow illegal immigrants to become U.S. citizens without returning to their native countries. And earlier this year, a group of 86 evangelical Christian leaders launched a campaign to educate Christians about climate change and urged the U.S. Congress to enact legislation to curb global warming. The campaign calls on Christians to battle global warming, “which will hit the poor the hardest because those areas likely to be significantly affected first are the poorest regions of the world.”

    These concerns sounds pretty progressive. So, why are so few white evangelicals voting Democratic? Wallis believes Democrats have ceded the territory of religion to the Republican side, allowing them to use it to divide the electorate. Or, as Wallis has said, “I think this idea that all the Christians, all the religious people are jammed in the red states and the blue states are full of agnostics is a bit overblown in the media. It’s more complicated than that.”

  458. #459 Jason
    July 13, 2006

    Question: why is it that atheist skeptics/critics are the only ones who refer to Christianity as a “death cult” and an “Eastern Mystery Religion?” Why do no serious, educated, intelligent, rational scholars refer to it as such? Oh, that’s right. Because they are serious, educated, intelligent and rational.

  459. #460 Steve_C
    July 13, 2006

    Squeaky You said :
    But wouldn’t you agree that there are others who say “I’m going to live for myself regardless of how it may negatively affect another human being because it just doesn’t matter.”

    If you disagree, check out the news tonight.

    You were essentially blaming the bad things that happen on those who don’t follow christianity. My statement is that religion is NOT the answer because the religious commit the exact same crimes as the non-religious and some crimes that are specific to the religious. I may even argue that the religious commit MORE crimes because they believe they are doing what god wants them to do or that the laws in the bible supercede the laws of government.

  460. #461 speedwell
    July 13, 2006

    I also cannot be accused of bigotry on the grounds of what I said, becuase the simple fact is that I was both a Christian and an abused wife, and therefore I have intimate firsthand knowledge of what I’m talking about.

    Whereas anyone who says God talks to them is either a liar or delusional (try to prove different, just try).

  461. #462 Steve_C
    July 13, 2006

    Hey Jason…

    It’s REALLY simple. What’s the sing most important event that happens in the new testament?

  462. #463 Uber
    July 13, 2006

    No. I’m just watching, waiting and helping to spread the Gospel.

    You are definetly not spreading the gospel with the anti intellectual rubish you spread and the manner in which you do it. Your spreading YOUR form of religion which has precious little to do with any God.

    oh and this is something I’d like to see in context-

    Gandhi once said if Christians lived according to their faith, there would be no Hindus left in India. He knew how powerful the fundamental tenets of Christianity–fighting poverty, caring for the least among us, loving your enemies, eschewing materialism and embracing humility–could be if everyone who called themselves a Christian truly followed them

    Or did he know that they would have to kill the infidels or convert them all to their religion. Is he saying that by being humble, fighting poverty, and caring the tenets of his religion would cease to matter to the 1.3 billion hindus in the world. Perhaps Gandi was very ecumenical. But by default would he not be saying his religion is none of these things? Count me a skeptic.

  463. #464 Steve_C
    July 13, 2006

    Single most. Two guesses. You can only pick one.

  464. #465 wintermute
    July 13, 2006

    Chris: Thanks. I’d been looking for a good map / photo of Tyre that would show the non-barrenness of it. I should have thought of Google Maps.

  465. #466 Jason
    July 13, 2006

    How can she be a bigot jsut because she thinks your irrational

    Did her use of the words “brainwashed” and “retard” escape you?

    which you are?

    According to whom? I’m not the one calling people “brainwashed,” “retards” or “demented f***wits.” Anyone using or supporting the use of those epithets are the irrational ones. Rational people don’t stoop to such base levels of discourse.

    She is not seeking to take anything from you, not actively doing anything other than saying your full of baloney.

    Oh, so name-calling isn’t included in the definition of what makes someone a bigot. Okay. Gotcha.

    If she is a bigot what does that make those opposing gays and a variety of other social issues.

    Define “opposing gays.” Is it opposing their entire existence or opposing their attempt to force everyone to accept their homosexuality as “normal” and “moral?”

    All she did was call BS.

    Oh, that’s all she did, eh? So you’re partially blind, then?

  466. #467 GH
    July 13, 2006

    why is it that atheist skeptics/critics are the only ones who refer to Christianity as a “death cult” and an “Eastern Mystery Religion?” Why do no serious, educated, intelligent, rational scholars refer to it as such? Oh, that’s right. Because they are serious, educated, intelligent and rational.

    How many scholars do you know or have you read? So essentially saying no one can be serious or intelligent who thinks these things.

    But if one believes it is not a religion based on the death of a man and the mystery’s of spirituality they are by default intelligent and educated.

    Don’t you see you’ve set yourself up a nice dicotomy there Jason. Those that conform to your confirmation bias are all the good and those who don’t you trash without even considering the merit of the argument.

    Debunk it if you must but at least take a stab at a legitimate argument.

  467. #468 speedwell
    July 13, 2006

    Sure, OK, I’m a bigot, if you want. I do not tolerate you. Tolerance is not always a virtue.

    I’m as intolerant of religious maniacs as I am of any other kind of maniac. There are just some things decent people cannot tolerate.

  468. #469 Maitre Alcofribas
    July 13, 2006

    “Philo was alive and IN JERUSALEM, along with hundreds of other scribes and scholars, Jewish, Greek, etc. etc., and yet not one, single, solitary first hand account about those spectacular events has ever been found. Events that would have absolutely amazed the most jaded of 1st century human beings. Why? Occams simple answer is those events never happened or did not happen as they are portrayed in the gospels. Why can you not get that through your head?”

    paleotn,
    Those folks just didn’t see with the eyes of faith, doncha know? You had to be toking on a big ol’ Jeebus spliff to notice little things like three-days-dead guys jumping up and doing the Macarena. ;-)

  469. #470 Jason
    July 13, 2006

    Hey Jason…

    It’s REALLY simple. What’s the sing most important event that happens in the new testament?

    Jesus’ resurrection.

    Ah, so if you’re basing your “nickname” for Christianity on “the sing[sic] most important event that happens in the new testament[sic],” wouldn’t that make Christianity a “life cult?” I would actually not mind that phrase so much (“cult” isn’t entirely appropriate).

    See, the single most important event in the New Testament isn’t Jesus’ death. If it were, then Christianity would be just another religion with a dead leader. But Jesus didn’t stay dead. His resurrection was the proof that he conquered death and brought us eternal life through him.

  470. #471 thwaite
    July 13, 2006

    Lee,
    The blog cites I gave you yesterday on partisan persuasion and emotionality seem tangential now that I’ve perused them. Though one slightly cynical but useful observation was made: ‘the only people who ever really persuade each other are neighbors’ – i.e. it takes an enduring neutral relationship for such discussion. Not clear if blog postings suffice as virtual neighbors.

    I’m vaguely aware there’s lots of social science research here. Was reminded of it while catching up on recent issues of Science magazine – the June 30th issue includes a survey of social sciences (abstracts online free):

    Book Review of
    Campaigning for Hearts and Minds: How Emotional Appeals in Political Ads Work
    by Ted Brader
    Science 30 June 2006: Vol. 312. no. 5782, pp. 1878 – 1879

    Perspective
    Politics and the Life Cycle – Donald R. Kinder
    I take up the early emergence of partisanship and essentialism, the formation of generations, politically consequential transitions in adulthood, and the rising of politics and its final decline.
    Science 30 June 2006: Vol. 312. no. 5782, pp. 1905 – 1908

  471. #472 Uber
    July 13, 2006

    Did her use of the words “brainwashed” and “retard” escape you?

    No, they don’t make you a bigot. Brainwashing is an event. What is wrong with thinking people brainwashed? How does that make one a bigot? So every kid who calls another a name is really a bigot for using said language then? Going by your defintion of bigotry everyone is a bigot so no one is.

    Is it opposing their entire existence or opposing their attempt to force everyone to accept their homosexuality as “normal” and “moral?”

    You don’t have to do anything with them. Just pretend they don’t exist. But the bigots campaign to ensure they don’t have the same options as others. Following up their name calling with actions that matter.

    So you’re partially blind, then?

    Perhaps but I don’t see bigotry in her. I think you see it because you need to see it.

  472. #473 Steve_C
    July 13, 2006

    Jason you do qualify as a troll.

    1. You attack the host of this blog because of his views.
    2. You attack the commenters who share his views.
    3. You are here to spread religion on a site with MANY non-religious and or atheist.
    4. You don’t even have any interest in the topics.

    What it comes down to is that you would never call the people trying to bring the End TImes anything… you’re too close to being exactly like them. You don’t think they’re irrational at all.

  473. #474 wintermute
    July 13, 2006

    Jason:

    Is there no overlap between “atheist skeptics/critics” and “serious, educated, intelligent, rational scholars”, or is this a black-and-white dichotomy?

    It’s certainly true that many “serious, educated, intelligent, rational scholars” (even Christian ones) accept that there are amazing similarities between Christianity and the Mysteries. Some go so far as to suggest that some parts of the Gospels may have been based on the story of Mithras, and others take the route of Justin Martyr in the 2nd Century, and declare that the story of Jesus was plagarised in advance by Satan so that people would be unsure as to which was Truth.

    If you’ve studied the Mystery religions, you’ll know it’s nearly impossible to find a single point in which Jesus differs from Mithras. The similarities between them and Attis, Osiris, Thoth, Turana, and a dozen other godmen of the near east are also very striking.

    Any serious, educated, intelligent, rational scholar would have a great deal of difficulty denying this.

  474. #475 Chance
    July 13, 2006

    cult” isn’t entirely appropriate

    Why not? That is what it was called by the early commenters of the day. It has grown since but it started out as all movements of the like do.

    This has nothing to do with the claims contained therein but it is an accurate usage of the word, especially at the origin point.

  475. #476 thwaite
    July 13, 2006

    to M Petersen,
    Kudos on your stamina, as well as your even-tempered responses.

    Of the 3-4 books you mentioned for the ‘historical’ Jesus, I have at hand only Michael Grant’s JESUS: an Historian’s Review of the Gospels (It’s not ‘Michale’ as you wrote, and my copy is dated 1977). Grant is a generally credible author for Classical history (he died in ’04; his obit in the London Times, linked to from his wikipedia entry, is fascinating).

    In JESUS, he generally supports evidence of such an historical figure but is adamantly ambivalent about any supernatural claims.

    For this thread though I emphasize Grant’s carefully chosen theme for his opening chapter: the pervasive zeitgeist of that generation of Jews and early Christians that they were then living in end times. The destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem was certainly supportive.

    But they were wrong, as Grant emphasizes, although their belief shaped the core nature of Christianity – it explains its lack of interest in social justice issues, for example.

    And there’s been two thousand years of wrong prophecies since. I’m surprised no one except wintermute has brought this history into the thread. It’s easily found via a Google on ‘failed prophecy end times’


    64 FAILED END-OF-THE-WORLD PREDICTIONS BEFORE 1990


    Unfulfilled historical predictions by Christians


    End times
    — Part of a series on Christian theology

    Several historical/psychological studies have been made of groups which bet their farms on rapture, whether from Christian logic or the arrival of UFO’s. Both are discussed here:
    End-Time Prophesy
    –discusses 1950’s book WHEN PROPHESY FAILS, whose authors (Festinger et al) then developed notion of ‘cognitive dissonance’. This is part of a large museum exhibit about American Milllenial movements – shown in 1999, naturally enough.

    I see M. Petersen had to go off to do real work. Come visit again after some sleep and reflection. And/or have a nice apocalypse – whichever comes first.

  476. #477 Jason
    July 13, 2006

    I turn on the news and I see christians hoping for armageddon and the end of the world.

    You see that on the news??? Must be some channel I don’t get.

    I see them bombing health clinics and killing doctors.

    This is a real news channel you’re talking about, right?

    I see them protesting at soldiers funerals.

    Ah, Fred Phelps and his merry band of fools. Yep, they really represent the entirety of Christianity, don’t they? I mean, they represent it better than the Christians who are the family, friends, and others who pay their last respects to the soldiers, right?

    I see them denying science

    No, you don’t see them denying science. You see them denying people’s ideas and beliefs.

    and demanding control of the government.

    Hardly. They may want fair participation in the government, but “participation” does not equal “control.”

    I don’t look at the world and think… if only more people were religious the world would be a better place.

    I don’t either, because religion isn’t what will make the world a better place. People having their hearts changed will make the world a better place.

    I get that you go with the Jesus that most suits your personality.

    This comment makes no sense. There is only one Jesus.

    And maybe you don’t need him to be moral.

    “Moral” by whose standards?

  477. #478 Steve_C
    July 13, 2006

    but he is dead. you can’t have the ghost without the death.
    and you can’t have heaven or hell without dying.

    Death Cult.

  478. #479 Steve_C
    July 13, 2006

    I have seen news pieces and documentaries on demented fuckwits that think the End TImes are near. Health clinics and doctors have been attacked in order to stop abortions.
    Fred phelps is a christian. And I’m not saying any of these things are what MOST christians do or feel. But they are done in the name of christianity. And they claim that the bible gives them moral guidance.

    So apparently these people see a different Jesus and God than you do.

    Moral by my standards. I’m a moral person and I don’t need Jesus to be moral. No one does.

  479. #480 Uber
    July 13, 2006

    You see them denying people’s ideas and beliefs.

    Evolution is science. They are denying science. What a bunch of silliness you spew. A science that is used everyday by thousands of biologists is just ideas and beliefs to you. Wasn’t it you some time up in the thread was arguing about how only theologians should talk about theology but here you dismiss science done by scientists. Ahh the dicotomous mind.

    I get that you go with the Jesus that most suits your personality.

    This comment makes no sense. There is only one Jesus.

    Actually it makes alot of sense and if you read more you would know this has been a staple of pyschology and, egads, theology for some time. People tend to gravitate towards the views they find most comfortable. Caring people relate and find Jesus caring, authoritarian types find in him that and so forth. So the comment makes sense to those that are informed.

    “Moral” by whose standards?

    Exactly, since most of the world is non-Christian and remain moral even the largesly atheistic and secular nations one may even begin to think our morality exists independently of any supernatural belief but rather is a product of the primate group dynamic we evolved from still present in a varianated form.

  480. #481 Steve_C
    July 13, 2006

    http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2056.html

    The Japanese seem very moral to me. Not alot of christians there.

  481. #482 Alexander Vargas
    July 13, 2006

    Frost:
    Christianity is the classic American way of dealing with fear and despair. Notice I did not say that all despair must lead to Christianity. But I would not be surprised if Christianity becomes increasingly attractive to anti-muslim racists and extremisms in Europe.
    The REAL phenomenon is despair, and Christianity is just the tool that canalizes it. It could be something else. Communism, Nazism?
    Last time I looked there was a legal nazi rally going on in germany. I’m told that if you are a “dark head” you must keep clear from several places unless you are looking to get killed.

    “What do you mean by this? That some entity capable of controlling the world has to exist?”
    Well of course, man, good grief. Any state as powerful as the US will want to make sure it dominates, that it is at the front, the best, the superior. To have their interests well-protected. Every leader of a big country knowns it is his obligation to somwhow bring it up another notch. And I’m not talking about silly secret conspiration groups meeting in dungeons and making funky rituals. No, what I’m talking about is quite plain to see. Its public, collective. But you need believable excuses, banners. You know, God, democracy, freedom and why not? Scientific superiority. We’re the best, no? The kind of arrogance and self-righteousness that allows us to run over the inferior at the slightest excuse and without too much remorse.

    “There’s only presumption and megalomana as far as I can see.”
    You are wrong. Religiosity increases when man feels unsatisfied with his world, such that it cannot be the “real” world. He therefore seeks refuge in the other world, and lives this world as a bad and temporary trial, a non-authentic, fake existence. The other world is the REAL world, the good one.
    Rather, presumption and megalomania are hardly a brand of religion. In fact, if you analize history, presumption and megalomania of the “establishment” always precedes and kindles rebellions and revolutions. The emergence of Christianity in the 1st century is in part a response to the arrogance and megalomania of the Romans. And Christianity, as I said, is all about belittling man and his knowledge, a basic distrust from all that is established (just look at M Petersen) such that only god, and not man, can be trusted.

  482. #483 Maitre Alcofribas
    July 13, 2006

    “The Japanese seem very moral to me. Not alot of christians there”

    Bible belt states like Texas have far more murders, rapes, divorces, and other social pathologies than places like Librul Gay-Marriage Massachusetts.

  483. #484 impatientpatient
    July 13, 2006

    *****************************************************

    The film takes us back to the camp, where the children are gathered for their daily teaching. Suddenly, a camp counselor places a life-size cardboard cutout before the group. No, it’s not Jesus. It’s George Bush. Clapping erupts and Becky encourages them to “say hello to the President.” Becky claims that “President Bush has added credibility to being a Christian.”
    **********************************************

    Squeaky:
    Clearly, they love money and power above justice and fairness.
    ***********************************************************Impatientpatient:

    YUP!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  484. #485 Helen T.
    July 13, 2006

    Jason and MP,

    Why aren’t you praying for the rapture to be delayed? The longer the delay the larger the probability that people will hear the gospel more than once, isn’t it? (or is it enough that they simply hear it once, regardless of source?).

    After the rapture the 5 *billion* people left will be in a horrifying situation, where *billions* will be killed by the events of the tribulation.

    Why aren’t you actively trying to stop the people who want to speed up the rapture- the people wanting to rebuild the temple, have a red heifer, etc.? Are none of these things necessary for the rapture to happen?

    As I asked MP earlier, it should make no difference at all to the saved when the rapture happens- what difference does a few decades delay make when even 10,000 years is like nothing in the face of eternity? But since it has an overwhelming effect on 5 billion people, the saved should be wanting to delay the rapture and to do nothing to make it happen sooner.

    “No. I’m just watching, waiting and helping to spread the Gospel.”

    “I have not prayed for it to be delayed, I pray for people to be saved. It’s not a question of time, a key requirement before the end of the world, is that the message will be preached throughout the world. If people will believe, and God knows whether and when they will, they will have plenty of time to accept Him because God has already delayed it to save more people.”

  485. #486 Maitre Alcofribas
    July 13, 2006

    ‘”President Bush has added credibility to being a Christian.”‘

    Hah! If there were ever and credibility to this most fradulent and destructive of all religions (as Mencken said) this vignette alone would destroy it.

    Any religion that regards Bush as a decent, godly man is a priori a steaming pile of horse pucky.

  486. #487 Alexander Vargas
    July 13, 2006

    And to those who think insulting is the way, you don’t have much capacity of analysis, huh? In the human sciences, squeaky is right, your “brilliant proposal” would make you the dunces, the whipping boys and laughstock.
    Only you guys wouldn’t know. What else can we expect for people whose greatest achievement of “human rationalism” for confronting religion is to call them “demented fuckwits”?
    It is just plain INHUMAN. But no suprise. PZ has already said “I’m proud of being non human” You know, JUST the kind of guy the evolution movement needed, yeah. The petulant scientist that is proud of being inhuman, right. Just what we want them to think of scientists.

    Rather than taking a higher perspective and analizing the problem in social terms to find a solution, the “insulters’ are quite happy with just being part of the problem, wearing the stripes of the team and making lots of noise and insults. Who cares if another christian president comes along? Who cares if the supreme court of the US becomes packed with more christians wanting to unite church and state? Who cares if evolutionary science must pay for the broken plates? Right now, they are just having a HELLUVA time insulting and scaring christians!!!!!! And they dont care about the consequences,cause they are sooooo right.
    But you guys are not, you are dead wrong on maaany points. Insulting is just one of them. Thats why you guys hurt the cause. Badly. And though you don’t know, I’m telling all ya childish bullies: You are NOT entitled to any of the inhuman behaviour you think you are. You just ain’t so wonderfully smart. You are just arrogant.

  487. #488 Maitre Alcofribas
    July 13, 2006

    “And to those who think insulting is the way, you don’t have much capacity of analysis, huh? In the human sciences, squeaky is right, your “brilliant proposal” would make you the dunces, the whipping boys and laughstock.”

    One more time. [Takes a deep breath]. We do not think insulting people who can be reached is a good tactic. The DFs are beyond redemption, no matter how much you would wish otherwise, and they are bent on repealing the Enlightenment, retarding science, shredding the Constitution, wrecking the environment, and killing innocent people for their imaginary sky buddy of choice’s delectation. The proper response to them is saeva indignatio, scorn, and and unsparing satire. Calling them DF is shorthand for all that. We do use reason and facts to try to reach the reachable, as multiple posts here amply demonstrate. The viciousness of the Right cannot be countered with wussified make-nice politesse, however. We’ve tried that. No more Mr./Ms. Nice Liberal, thank you.

  488. #489 Steve_C
    July 13, 2006

    AV. You’re such a baby. Sounds like your blaming the non-christians for the problems the U.S. has. And then you start insulting us. Who’s the righteous arrogant one now?

    Childish bullies. Inhuman. Not smart. Arrogant.

    How uncouth.

    You fail to acknowledge that we’re talking about the extremist in the public praying for armageddon…

    ( jews and others who don’t accept Jesus, he added matter-of-factly, “are toast.”)

    And you have no proof that it wouldn’t have a positive effect.
    You just assume it would hurt the cause. I think George Carlin might disagree.

  489. #490 Steve_C
    July 13, 2006

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4bZJ1TvBqLE&eurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Erawstory%2Ecom%2Fnews%2F2006%2FCNN%5FLewis%5FBlack%5Fdemands%5FCNN%5Fbanner%5F0712%2Ehtml

    I could see him saying “These people are DEMENTED FUCKWITS! Are they serious? IS anyone listening to them?”

  490. #491 Steve_C
    July 13, 2006
  491. #492 j
    July 13, 2006

    Jesus. I’m away for a few hours, and I have a hundred comments to read.

    This gets back to the question of why is there suffering? I’ve read many posts here that point fingers at God accusing Him of not caring about His creation. If He cared, wouldn’t He have created a perfect world without even the possibility of suffering? However, isn’t it possible that blaming God for our suffering is just a way of excusing yourself from responsibility? Yes, there is suffering in the world. And we shake our fist at God and say, “Why don’t you do something about this?” when perhaps it is God’s intent that WE do something about it. We ask, “Why won’t God do anything about suffering if he is so all powerful and loving?” I would say He did. He created YOU with brains and intellect and gave you the ability to have compassion and love and empathy for the people around you. Yes, there is suffering in the world, but is it more the result of a God who isn’t doing His job, or a people He created who aren’t doing the job He gave them?

    I don’t acknowledge a god, and I have no idea how to comprehend the reasoning behind a god who condones stoning raped virgins. The benchmark I use is my own morality. If I were God, would I allow these things to happen?

    I am not excusing myself from responsibility. Look, I don’t actually blame things on God. I am atheist. I am simply pointing out that if you believe in a god like the Christian God, then it is only logical that your god is the cause of all suffering on Earth. My reaction to suffering is much like that which you recommend. I use my brains, intellect, compassion, love, and empathy to combat suffering. I do this not because of what God promises or threatens, but because of my own morals. (Insert some point about Kohlberg’s stages of moral development here.)

    Squeaky, I completely agree with you that we should use the brains and intellect that millions of years of evolution (or God) gave us. This is why I feel it is my duty to be skeptical and to question contradictions and fallacies inherent in all religions.

  492. #494 Maitre Alcofribas
    July 13, 2006

    And, AV, if a little harsh language is what it takes to wake people up to the danger posed by these people, then so be it.
    (If you think posters here are “unseemly”, go check out the Rude Pundit.) Moi, I think we need more of that, not less!

  493. #495 M Petersen
    July 13, 2006

    As I asked MP earlier, it should make no difference at all to the saved when the rapture happens- what difference does a few decades delay make when even 10,000 years is like nothing in the face of eternity? But since it has an overwhelming effect on 5 billion people, the saved should be wanting to delay the rapture and to do nothing to make it happen sooner.

    Shoot, got sucked in again. I think the problem may be that those few decades will make no difference in who accepts and who does not, but I cannot say for sure. The making it sooner part only affects the time Christians must spend here. Though I’m not sure that we could even speed it up, all of these events will happen when God has foreseen them to happen and the rapture will happen when God has determined it will happen.

    Why does the speeding up or slowing down concern you though if there is no God?

    If you wish to call the rapture rubbish, that’s your choice, and I understand where you are coming from — but why do you care?
    Some here say:
    – there is no God
    – the Bible is a fable written by men for their own evil gain
    – Jesus never existed, never claimed to be God, never died, or most certainly never rose from the dead

    That’s your assessment. I highly doubt any authentic Christian will do anything stupid just to speed up the end of the world (i.e. launching a nuke) that would hurt others. Some crazy person might, but not a Christian. The Bible has been used numerous times to support craziness, I agree. But the message of the Bible, taken in context, does not support it. The Bible itself is not to blame here, but rather those who take it out of context and use it for evil.

  494. #496 j
    July 13, 2006

    It went right over your head, didn’t it? “Why didn’t God create other gods?” Just think about that question for a minute or two. I mean, really think about it before you post again.

    Why didn’t God create other gods? Maybe because He didn’t know how or wasn’t able to. No, that’s not an option.

    Maybe because then His creations wouldn’t obey all those instructions He put into that book and worship Him at the expense of facing reality? Because then He’d have to share all the glory? Because then His creations wouldn’t possess the ignorance to explain everything unknown with “It was He”? Because then He wouldn’t be able to exert complete control over people’s lives and afterlives?

    I find all of these explanations unsatisfactory.

    Then again, nothing about an omnipotent, omnibenevolent, omniscient god was ever plausible to me.

    So I’ve thought long and hard, and since you seem to understand God’s motives, I’d like to know your answer, Jason.

  495. #497 Alexander Vargas
    July 13, 2006

    Well I realize that if I called you names, Its the language you understand. You would respecte me because I would be one of you. And belive me, I do feel like doing so. I do think you guys ruin everything, and you piss me off. I nevertheless try to bite my tongue, with more or less success. Plainly giving into that garbage is just too easy.

    You guys think you are valiant princes off to fight an inquestionable, unmistakable horrible monster. Yeah, you fight the good fight, you knights of reason. All you need to do is insult and all your problems will go away, right.
    Its a little more complex than that. The folks that reelected Bush do not have horns and fangs. Wake up, kids.

    Actually I think it would be pretty simple to make a historical sociological argument that arrogant and confused guys who thought were defending evolution have played a major role in conflating this whole mess. It takes two to tango.

    A few pieces of information for you guys to chew on:

    1) The neodarwinian synthesis, towards the impecable and modernist times of the postwar 50’s, had become a triumphalist and frivolous bunch that underwent a dogmatic hardening of its ideas around Darwinism. Read Gould’s fat book.

    2) Starting in the 60’s (along with social revolution, what a coincidence) the stubborness of the synthesis began to be resented as a result of data of the new molecular biology and a true renaissance of paleontology and evolutionary developmentla biology. It became plain the completeness of the scheme the darwinians were congratulating themselves about was not real. Enough to mention its total neglect of development, discarded as “non-evolutionary proximal mechanism” or ” Typological thinking”
    Though we still don’t recover totally from the synthesis, the falsehood of its previous self-assurance did not go unnoticed, by scientists and creationists

    3) The most adamant cultural warriors, like Dawkins, Dennet, Wilson stuff their mouths with rationality and put the citizen between the sword and the wall: Either you believe in god, or you believe in evolution. Despite the pride with which they speak of rationality, all of these guys are known to be extremist ultradarwininians and their ideas are not only controversial, but to many evolutionary biologists, juts pure BS. They are the true heirs of the bleak ultradarwinism of the synthesis. Specially dawkins and dennet have done very little for science and more abut selling paperbacks anbd picking the flag of reson to fight religion. Thtat is, placing unnecesary mixture and burden of evolution with religion.

    4) you guys LOVE Dawkins, don’t ya?

  496. #498 Lee
    July 13, 2006

    thwaite wrote:

    The blog cites I gave you yesterday on partisan persuasion and emotionality seem tangential now that I’ve perused them. Though one slightly cynical but useful observation was made: ‘the only people who ever really persuade each other are neighbors’ – i.e. it takes an enduring neutral relationship for such discussion. Not clear if blog postings suffice as virtual neighbors.

    Yeah, after reviewing them, I don’t think they get to what I was asking for either. My own sense of the situation is that the DF strategy (1) works to energize the committed base, (2) doesn’t do much positive to change the minds of the uncommitted middle, and (3) may even harden the contrary opinion of the committed opposition.

    This is all rather speculative on my part, though it is derived from my experience of arguing a Pyrrhonian skeptical position on various religious forums. And from reviewing the comments above.

  497. #499 M Petersen
    July 13, 2006

    Perhaps a more effective strategy would be:
    – Come up with better cures for mental disorders and diseases
    – Work to clarify what the Bible actually says

    Rather than attempting to prove it’s not true, this may prove easier in working to help your DFs.

  498. #500 Steve_C
    July 13, 2006

    They are not my DF’s they are yours.

    AV. What are you going on about? I don’t get it. PZ has never said the only way to deal with christians or religion is to call them all Demented Fuckwits.

    Watch the 2nd and 3rd Lewis Black clips I posted and then come back and we can have a conversation. He illustrates EXACTLY the attitude we would like to take.

    Dawkins does support confrontation. But if you watch some of his clips you will see he is very civil. But he’s unflinching.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mGLPViVW5ms&search=Richard%20Dawkins

  499. #501 Helen T.
    July 13, 2006

    M Peterson-

    Did you confuse me with another commenter?

    You asked “Why does the speeding up or slowing down concern you though if there is no God?”

    I’ve only posted questions to you about your thoughts on the rapture. I’ve not written about the other things you seem to think I have.

    Let me put this into the form of a story:
    I live in a company town with about 6,000 residents, where 1,000 residents are employed by that company. Part of the employment contract is to get as many of the other residents to join the company and become employees of it.

    After certain buildings in the town are rebuilt, and after everyone in the town has been told the news of how they too can join the company, then the CEO is going to destroy the town and rebuilt it in a new land.

    The CEO will be using fire, floods, and other methods to tear away the old town, and many of the 5,000 remaining residents will die in its destruction. Almost all of those 5,000 remaining residents will suffer greatly during the destruction time, and their suffering might make it difficult for them to accept employment from the company.

    If you’re an employee, you’ll get bused out before the CEO starts.

    Given what’s going to happen to the 5,000 people, what should I ask of the CEO the next time I talk with him?

  500. #502 Alexander Vargas
    July 13, 2006

    Dawkins may be civil, but he is wrong. He has presented a dichotomy: irrational religion, vs. atheism, the only rational conclusion. In the name of science, and specially, evolution.

    Is Dawkins just “plain right” about his? What it does is it pitches us unnecessarily against religious people with an arguent for atheism that is rotten at the root. That science and reason have disproven god. As if they COULD have proven god!

  501. #503 Steve_C
    July 13, 2006

    Nice metaphor.

    That Root of All Evil clip is more about morals. I like it alot.

    This looks at the other side.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qPBdz-TXlaI&mode=related&search=Richard%20Dawkins

  502. #504 Steve_C
    July 13, 2006

    Why is he wrong?

    I highly doubt he has said science has proven that god does not exist.

  503. #505 Maitre Alcofribas
    July 13, 2006

    “Though we still don’t recover totally from the synthesis, the falsehood of its previous self-assurance did not go unnoticed, by scientists and creationists”

    Oh, pleeeze. All your history lesson has demonstrated is that science is, after all, self-correcting (unlike religion!)
    The fundies would be touting creationism regardless of what attitudes scientists took in the fifies; they did before the grand synthesis “hardened” as you say, and they did after.
    They still do, because their whole world-view stands or falls on whether or not the bible is the inerrant, literal word of god. Other sciences, such as geology, astronomy and physics also falsify their beliefs, but they have traditionally fixated on “Darwinism” as the battlefield for their last stand. Don’t blame the victim.
    We reason with those who can use their brains, and dismiss the fanatics as the dumbasses (or DFs) that they are. No point in arguing with nutcases; I know, I’ve tried it.

  504. #506 Steve_C
    July 13, 2006
  505. #507 PZ Myers
    July 13, 2006

    Yes, Dawkins is just plain right. He does not claim to have disproven God; how often are you going to continue to make that completely bogus objection?

  506. #508 Alexander Vargas
    July 13, 2006

    Well of course you never have had any resukts from arguing with a nutcase becasue you yourself are a nutcase too. One that believes in insults, and uses them shamelessly.

    Dawkins says faith and reason are incompatible. And he says things and then “unsays” them. Or he lays the whole thing out but hasn’t got the balls to ignite the match, to draw the ultimate conclusion. He expects you to do that on your own. He is an extremist hiding behind disclaimers and unfinished arguments. Although he does say some pretty silly things straightforwardly too.
    I think not one of us has not stopped at some phrase and said “well, I can’t agree with dawkins on that one”. Unless you are totally lost in his cunning-poser grin.

    My point is we have quite a bunch of bad scientists, ultradarwinian and smug, who have found sense in their lives by swiniging to battle aginst religion in the name of reson (barf) Our own darling extremists.
    People like this insist so much on natural selection and reson, that when many a poor biologist or layman thereafter finds something selection cannot explain, he believes he is witnessing something as incredible as jesus walking on water, “mechanisticaly unexplainable”, rolls his eyes to heaven and goes on to be an ID supporter.
    If you think you know more than what you know, and procalimit to be the flower of reason and science, you invite people to intepret that which escapes from your framework as something science “can’t” explain. And most atheists a la dawkins feel they only have to point with the finger to whatever organic phenomenon and say in a grave voice “it is the result of natural selection!”. That is Ultradarwinism. Selection as mushy, all-purpose ideology. Even creationists can see something wrong is going on.

    This thing of only science correcting itself is baloney. If you were just a little bit more respectful for history or social sciences you would know that not all religion is a short lived marginal sect that succumbs rather than change. Specially not so for those with massive followings, which are the ones that concern us. On the contrary, history documents quite striking changes and corrections that religion undergo according with the times. Are you uninformed enough that you need me to list a few?

  507. #509 j
    July 13, 2006

    “Ultradarwinism.”

    That’s a funny word.

  508. #510 Alexander Vargas
    July 13, 2006

    Why did dawkins talk almost exclusively to a long list of purebred religious crackpots for his video? Why didn’t he interview the dalai lama, the vaticans astronomer?

    Cause to prove something as silly as “the root of all evil” you need to make a strawman, you build a teeny tiny small fence that you know you can jump.

  509. #511 Alexander Vargas
    July 13, 2006

    J, you obviously know nothing aboutthe term Just can’t be such a thing as too much darwin, huh? The term is by Gould. Read him.

  510. #512 Alexander Vargas
    July 13, 2006

    The other thing is that these guys obsessed with bad cultural war inevitably let their debates with creationists affect the way they think about science, as in response to their questions. However unconsciously, they are letting the creationsist establish their agenda of scientific topics.

  511. #513 Doug
    July 13, 2006

    In addition to being persuasive I find Dawkins remarkably consistent in his arguments. I would very much like to know what AV believes Dawkins says and later “unsays”.

  512. #514 Keith Douglas
    July 13, 2006

    roger: That was just restating the assertion. But thanks anyway, I didn’t expect more. The problem, of course, with “outside the universe” is that it is either radically false or out and out incoherent, depending on whether you take it “universe” to mean “outside our hubble volume” (the sloppy use of some physicists) or “everything that is”.

    paleotn: Actually it is worse than that. Not only is it pretty obvious that the Josephus passage is a rather bad forgery, there are actual statements in the NT that go against Jesus having been on earth. (See Hebrews 8.) For more see also the work of Earl Doherty and others.

    Steve_C: Ahem. One’s philosophy should be about reality … :)

    M Petersen: More evidence for Jesus than Plato and Aristotle? You have got to be joking. And what makes you think that everything came from somewhere? (This, as a moments reflection should suggest, is self contradictory.)

    PZ Myers: And an bastardization of Judaism, Neoplatonism and Stoicism.

  513. #515 Torbjörn Larsson
    July 13, 2006

    MP,
    “I do not question the existence of Aristotle, Plato, or Alexander. But also, neither does any serious historian question the existence of Jesus of Nazareth.”

    Others here has expounded more on this. I will merely repeat the relevant part of my earlier comment on your reasoning:

    You want to show us convincing evidence to accept that christian beliefs are correct. There are text evidence from several sources that a person “Jesus” existed. That is all.

    The only text that mentions remaining “facts” are biblical. That is as much worth as anecdotal evidence, ie not reliable. Here you must present evidence worthy of the science you are judged against (as in correct above). Science doesn’t accept anecdotal evidence.

    Alexander,
    “Well of course you never have had any resukts from arguing with a nutcase becasue you yourself are a nutcase too. One that believes in insults, and uses them shamelessly.”

    ??? Are you refering to PZ or Dawkins? Either way, using insults doesn’t make a nutcase.

    “Dawkins says faith and reason are incompatible.”

    That is a fair statement. How do you make the naturalism (observations) of science compatible with the dualisms of religion (supernaturalism, soul) or its reliance on authority?

    “And he says things and then “unsays” them.”

    You make some remarks on Dawkins that doesn’t really comes to much, except this one Can you give examples?

    “And most atheists a la dawkins feel they only have to point with the finger to whatever organic phenomenon and say in a grave voice “it is the result of natural selection!”. That is Ultradarwinism. Selection as mushy, all-purpose ideology.”

    It isnt an ideology, it is a scientific theory of evolution. The theory purports to be able to explain everything organic. (“Common descent with modification”.) Naturally we try that theory until it is proved to fail.

    You are ultraconflating here. There are a lot of scientists outside biology that are atheists too, and there are a lot of extremist atheists that aren’t scientists.

    “This thing of only science correcting itself is baloney.”

    Science, and to a certain degree technology relying on science, has this ability since it relies heavily on observations, all the time iterating theory and practices against them.

    Of course other practices does so too, but in a haphasard and nonverifiable manner. What exactly does it mean by religious “corrections”? How does one measure them and see that they are improvements? Improvements in which sense?

  514. #516 Alexander Vargas
    July 13, 2006

    Dawkins, wishy washy? Youbetcha. You have to be if you want to say extremist stuff yet still expect to be taken at least half-seriously.

    He makes a whole case for genes rather than organisms as units of selection but he then says both points of view are equally valid, like watching a necker cube. And after hanging the disclaimer he just goes on as if it were all about genes (Gould and Mayr don’t play into his fake postmodern appeasement proposal. To them Dawkins is quite plainly wrong)

    Or he uses quite an arsenal of, to my taste, cheesy metaphors…then in a brief instant of lucidity he gives us a lecture on how deceitful and false metaphors can be… and then goes right back to using the metaphors.

    And then he titles his video “the root of all evil..” but adds a question mark. Just to remind you it may all be BS, but he wants to say it anyway.

    That’s the Dawkins style.

    You may think dawkins is very persuasive. Try reading his best phrases, but instead of genes, substitute for the word “zoltron”

    “The zoltrons have created us, body and mind…”

    “we are but lumbering robots controlled by the zoltrons”

  515. #517 j
    July 13, 2006

    Hi, Alexander Vargas.

    I was just commenting on how funny the word “ultradarwinism” was. It looks funny. It’s a funny word.

    Don’t shoot! I beg you!

    Good Lord.

  516. #518 Doug
    July 13, 2006

    Dawkins is persuasive in the way that AV is not. The former uses carefully constructed arguments supported by evidence. Like most detractors the latter merely rants about Dawkins’ faulty logic and so forth, but does not provide evidence. So what are the examples of Dawkins reversing his position (“unsaying” things) as was claimed?

    And in what way does substituting funny words weaken the selfish gene argument? Easier than coming up with a genuine rebuttal, but again, hardly persuasive.

  517. #519 Torbjörn Larsson
    July 13, 2006

    The term “ultradarwinism” doesn’t get many hits.

    First use seems to be Ernst Haeckel 1909. He used it, as Gould later, to attack orthodox neodarwinism for its reliance on natural selection, a mistake Darwin himself didn’t do. ( http://www.stephenjaygould.org/library/modern-science/chapter08.html ).

    Modern evolution with sexual selection, evodevo et cetera is more than this.

  518. #520 Alexander Vargas
    July 13, 2006

    Well of course you never have had any resukts from arguing with a nutcase becasue you yourself are a nutcase too. One that believes in insults, and uses them shamelessly.

    ??? Are you refering to PZ or Dawkins? Either way, using insults doesn’t make a nutcase.”

    No, I was answering to Maitre Alcofriba’s last post where he said “No point in arguing with nutcases; I know, I’ve tried it”.
    Of course saying an insult is not unforgivable and many times comprehensible, but you will soon discover it helps you in nothing, and is nothing to be proud of. It is a weakness indulged.
    (I feel like I’m talking to eight year olds having to explain such things about insulting).

    “Dawkins says faith and reason are incompatible.That is a fair statement. How do you make the naturalism (observations) of science compatible with the dualisms of religion (supernaturalism, soul) or its reliance on authority?”

    Cause they have nothing to do with each other. Religion has no business telling science what to do, nor science has any business telling religion what to do. As human endeavors neither science or religion are entirely rational or irrational. And they deal with quite different purposes. They may steal society’s thunder from each other every now and then, society turns more to one, and when it gets tired, it turns to the other. It’s pretty easy to observe in history, though sometimes the turnover may take a while… What Dawkins does is that he misrepresents and underestimates religion gravely. It’s a human-oriented enterprise like any other and as such cannot be “mere superstition” and “irrationality”. Cause humans whether they like it or not are forced to use reason. Think about it.

    ” You make some remarks on Dawkins that doesn’t really comes to much, except this one Can you give examples?”

    See the post above.

    “It isnt an ideology, it is a scientific theory of evolution. The theory purports to be able to explain everything organic. (“Common descent with modification”.) ”

    I said selection, not common descent with modification. Very different things. And many had already realized common descent with modification before Darwin. Darwinism is the idea that selection is the main force directing organic evolution. Natural selection is not an ideology, it’s a quite plainthing in examples like the peppered moth and darwins finches. But it can be ideologically invoked, in a mushy and imprecise fashion. For example, you can look at the mammalian middle ear and say “aaah such perfect adaptation. The result of the perfecting competition of natural selection”. So? Is it just plainly explained by that? Will you get pissed if a creationist tells you that is not enough? Many would. But you still have not explained how the jaw bones ended in the ear while keeping a functional jaw. You would have to look at fossils to understand that, and understand the role of exaptation. In any complex adaptation, from the bacterial flagellum to the eye, you will find that exaptation is a crucial part of understanding how it came to be.

    “Naturally we try that theory until it is proved to fail”
    Nonsense. Please let me know what kind of evidence you think would make common descent and modification to be discarded. You will always have to invoke something supernatural or unscientific. I would reach out for a stool to wait for that kind of evidence, and evidence against continental drift, round earth… you know, well established scientific facts.

    “You are ultraconflating here. There are a lot of scientists outside biology that are atheists too, and there are a lot of extremist atheists that aren’t scientists”

    So? I don’t get why that invalidates my criticism

    “Of course other practices does so too, but in a haphasard and nonverifiable manner. What exactly does it mean by religious “corrections”? How does one measure them and see that they are improvements? Improvements in which sense?”

    Easy. Toward the XVth century the church recognized the importance of woman and included her importantly. Virgin Mary has realunched in great style, along with several female saints. Just so happens many queens were showing up around the time. Church was moving alongside society.

    And then we have the recognition by the church of the fact of evolution. Which helps scientists in many catholic countries breathe more easily as they know they wont have as much problems as in you popeless evangelical countries. They also stay away from a lot of trouble that way.

  519. #521 George
    July 14, 2006

    People are not inclined to believe the arguments put forward by religious people because:

    They argue from ignorance (“you can’t prove he doesn’t exist”). Example:

    “Maybe you could try to succeed where Lewis failed, and give us a proof of how the Bible isn’t true.” M.Petersen.

    They use circular reaoning (“He/It exists because the Bible says so”). Example:

    “There are quite a few reasons why the Bible is true, least of which is that the Bible says so.” M.Petersen.

    They shift the burden of proof (“your science fails to answer all my questions”). Example:

    “Biblical creation offers God as an explanation for what was before my aforementioned starting point. What does evolution offer before the Big Bang?” A.Vargas.

    All of these and more have been repeated on this blog over and over and over again. They don’t convince people of anything and they never will.

  520. #522 Torbjörn Larsson
    July 14, 2006

    You lack evidence. See Doug’s comment above.

    “I said selection, not common descent with modification.”

    I had to back up a comment of yours. It seems you are saying that Dawkins et al aren’t supporting usual evolution, merely orthodox neodarwinism. What is the evidence for that?

    “But it can be ideologically invoked, in a mushy and imprecise fashion.”

    It is the default explanation. After it is proven invalid, another explanation is attempted. There is nothing special with default hypotheses in biology as opposed to other sciences.

    “Please let me know what kind of evidence you think would make common descent and modification to be discarded.”

    A rabbit fossil from the Cambrian.

    “So? I don’t get why that invalidates my criticism”

    A faulty assumption invalidates any argument. Here it means that the atheism of Dawkins is beside the point, obviously.

    “Easy.”

    You present examples that you say are “corrections”. The first, recognizing “the importance of woman” is indeed a change in the practice and theory of religion. It was a somewhat random reaction to changes in society, not a proactive measure due to a development program within the church (for example reviewing the different groups of society) somewhat similar to working on new theories in science. How much of an improvement it was (measurability) isn’t clear. What rights did women get formally and how much did they get in reality? It exemplifies what I said about “a haphasard and nonverifiable manner”.

    The second, recognizing “the fact of evolution” didn’t affect the religion as such. On the contrary you say that it “helps scientists in many catholic countries breathe more easily as they know they wont have as much problems as in you popeless evangelical countries”. This means that also the inappropriate power of the religion didn’t change.

  521. #523 Torbjörn Larsson
    July 14, 2006

    Ooops. My cut and paste was faulty. I repeat:

    “It is a weakness indulged.”

    I don’t see where you support that an insult makes Maitre a nutcase. Or don’t you believe he had valid reasons for his statement so you think you are replying in kind?

    “Religion has no business telling science what to do, nor science has any business telling religion what to do.”

    That is a fine wish, but it has nothing to do with reality. I remarked that as both being world views they have several incompatibilities. So a successful science says that other world views have different and questionable tools and practices for no good reason.

    Moreover, science is an unconstrained tool to research reality with. It is hard (impossible really) to predict what it can or cannot say. Currently it says that supernatural explanations, souls, origins, vitalism, animism and other dualisms are bad or invalid concepts. That is incompatible with the core of religions.

    “It’s a human-oriented enterprise like any other and as such cannot be “mere superstition” and “irrationality”.”

    Superstition *is* a very human-oriented enterprise. Religions that incorporates such bad ideas as sin are internally irrational, and such bad ideas as rapture, creationism (all forms) or the above breaks with good practices (science) are externally irrational. Of course there is a rationale behind; that doesn’t make it rational.

    “See the post above.”

    You lack evidence. See Doug’s comment above.

    “I said selection, not common descent with modification.”

    I had to back up a comment of yours. It seems you are saying that Dawkins et al aren’t supporting usual evolution, merely orthodox neodarwinism. What is the evidence for that?

    “But it can be ideologically invoked, in a mushy and imprecise fashion.”

    It is the default explanation. After it is proven invalid, another explanation is attempted. There is nothing special with default hypotheses in biology as opposed to other sciences.

    “Please let me know what kind of evidence you think would make common descent and modification to be discarded.”

    A rabbit fossil from the Cambrian.

    “So? I don’t get why that invalidates my criticism”

    A faulty assumption invalidates any argument. Here it means that the atheism of Dawkins is beside the point, obviously.

    “Easy.”

    You present examples that you say are “corrections”. The first, recognizing “the importance of woman” is indeed a change in the practice and theory of religion. It was a somewhat random reaction to changes in society, not a proactive measure due to a development program within the church (for example reviewing the different groups of society) somewhat similar to working on new theories in science. How much of an improvement it was (measurability) isn’t clear. What rights did women get formally and how much did they get in reality? It exemplifies what I said about “a haphasard and nonverifiable manner”.

    The second, recognizing “the fact of evolution” didn’t affect the religion as such. On the contrary you say that it “helps scientists in many catholic countries breathe more easily as they know they wont have as much problems as in you popeless evangelical countries”. This means that also the inappropriate power of the religion didn’t change.

  522. #524 Torbjörn Larsson
    July 14, 2006

    BTW, what does “evangelical countries” countries mean here? Evangelical for what?

  523. #525 M Petersen
    July 14, 2006

    Did you confuse me with another commenter?

    You asked “Why does the speeding up or slowing down concern you though if there is no God?”

    I’ve only posted questions to you about your thoughts on the rapture. I’ve not written about the other things you seem to think I have.

    Let me put this into the form of a story:
    I live in a company town with about 6,000 residents, where 1,000 residents are employed by that company. Part of the employment contract is to get as many of the other residents to join the company and become employees of it.

    After certain buildings in the town are rebuilt, and after everyone in the town has been told the news of how they too can join the company, then the CEO is going to destroy the town and rebuilt it in a new land.

    The CEO will be using fire, floods, and other methods to tear away the old town, and many of the 5,000 remaining residents will die in its destruction. Almost all of those 5,000 remaining residents will suffer greatly during the destruction time, and their suffering might make it difficult for them to accept employment from the company.

    If you’re an employee, you’ll get bused out before the CEO starts.

    Given what’s going to happen to the 5,000 people, what should I ask of the CEO the next time I talk with him?

    My apologies for attributing a particular belief to you that you did not claim.
    I understand the premise of the story and I believe I have demonstrated that I understand your point. However, I disagree with it and have stated the reasons why, yet I get no response to what I’ve said.

    Let me just recap here:
    – Only God knows and controls when the rapture will happen
    – God also knows who and when all people will accept or deny Him
    – God is patient, not wanting anyone to come to destruction
    – The rapture will happen at a certain time such that number of people who accept or deny God is larger than if it were moved either forward or backward in time
    – The point at which the rapture will happen is not necessarily the point of no return. It may actually contribute to more people believing after it occurs.

    Am I being unclear in explaining my point of view?

  524. #526 wintermute
    July 14, 2006

    Please let me know what kind of evidence you think would make common descent and modification to be discarded.

    A mammal whose genetic information is not coded in DNA.

    A given protein (eg hæmoglobin A) in rabbits being more similar to the same protein in chickens than in hares.

    Human hands growning out of a completely different embrionic structure than a horse’s foreleg.

    A goat giving birth to a cow.

    In short, if two creatures appear to be closely related but turn out not to be, then that would be a serious blow for common descent.

  525. #527 M Petersen
    July 14, 2006

    And what makes you think that everything came from somewhere? (This, as a moments reflection should suggest, is self contradictory.)

    Huh? I fail to see how it is self-contradictory — can you explain this further?

    Is there not such a thing as causality, The Principle of Cause and Effect? Matter, time, energy don’t just *appear*. Are you trying to say that these things just existed infinitely before the universe began? Is this a serious scientific hypothesis considered by anyone here? Any quantum theorists in the house?

  526. #528 M Petersen
    July 14, 2006

    Others here has expounded more on this. I will merely repeat the relevant part of my earlier comment on your reasoning:

    You want to show us convincing evidence to accept that christian beliefs are correct. There are text evidence from several sources that a person “Jesus” existed. That is all.

    The only text that mentions remaining “facts” are biblical. That is as much worth as anecdotal evidence, ie not reliable. Here you must present evidence worthy of the science you are judged against (as in correct above). Science doesn’t accept anecdotal evidence.

    You claim the biblical evidence is anecdotal, why?

    From http://www.michaelhorner.com/articles/resurrection/appearances.html:

    Professor A.N. Sherwin-White, an eminent historian of Roman and Greek history, has studied the rate at which myths were formed in the ancient Near East. He chides New Testament critics for not recognizing the quality of the New Testament documents compared to the sources he must work with in Roman and Greek history. Those sources are usually removed from the events they describe by generations or even centuries. Despite when they were written though and the typically biased approach of the writers, he says historians can confidently reconstruct what actually happened.

    In stark contrast, Professor Sherwin-White tells us that for the gospels to be legendary, more generations would have been needed between the events and their compilation. He has found that even the span of two full generations (50-80 years) is not long enough for legend to wipe out the hard core of historical fact.7 Even the late dating of the gospels meets that criteria, let alone the early dating! In addition, there is no example in history where legendary stories supplanted the historical core in the same geographical location in less than two generations. The legends about Jesus the critics are looking for do exist, but they arose in the second century – consistent with the two-generation time frame discovered by Professor Sherwin-White – when all the eyewitnesses had died off. Thus, the trust-worthiness of the gospel accounts is highly probable because there just wasn’t enough time for mythical tendencies to creep in and prevail over historical fact.

    If you don’t like Sherwin-White, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Robinson_(1919-1983):
    John A.T. Robinson

    Robinson concluded that New Testament was written before AD 64, partly based on his judgement there is little textual evidence that the New Testament reflects knowledge of the Temple’s AD 70 destruction. C. H. Dodd, in a frank letter to Robinson wrote: “I should agree with you that much of the late dating is quite arbitrary, even wanton, the offspring not of any argument that can be presented, but rather of the critic’s prejudice that, if he appears to assent to the traditional position of the early church, he will be thought no better than a stick-in-the-mud.” [1] Robinson’s call for redating the New Testament was echoed by subsequent scholarship such as John Wenham’s work Redating Matthew, Mark and Luke: A Fresh Assault on the Synoptic Problem. Other subsequent works calling for redating of some or all of the gospels were written by such scholars as Claude Tresmontant, Gunther Zuntz, Carsten Peter Thiede, Eta Linneman, Harold Riley, Bernard Orchard. [2]

    In relation to the four gospels dates of authorship, according to Norman Geisler, “Robinson places Matthew at 40 to after 60, Mark at about 45 to 60, Luke at before 57 to after 60, and John at from 40 to after 65.” [3] Robinson went on to state that the book of James was penned by a brother of the Jesus Christ within twenty years of Jesus’ death, that Paul authored all the books that bear his name, and that John, the apostle, wrote the fourth Gospel. Dr. Robinson believed the result of his investigations argued for the rewriting of many theologies of the New Testament.[4] [5]

  527. #530 wintermute
    July 14, 2006

    M Petersen:
    He means that there must have been a “first thing” that existed without a cause, or you never have anything that can cause the “first thign” to exist, and thus, nothing can ever be caused to exist.

    Many Christians state that it’s completely illogical to imagine the Universe existing without a cause, thus God must exist, without ever explaining why it’s any more logical for God to be the “first thing” than the Universe.

  528. #531 Maitre Alcofribas
    July 14, 2006

    Dear Alexander Vargas,
    I left right after my last post last evening, so I didn’t get to see your reasoned and temperate response until this morning. [/snark/]
    It wasn’t I who called you names or impugned your ability to think in any of my posts; it was you, sir, who said, “[w]ell of course you never have had any resukts [sic] from arguing with a nutcase becasue [sic] you yourself are a nutcase too”.

    Let the record reflect that I did not reply in kind.

    You persist in missing the point; we do not start out insulting people and fighting on their own gutter level–it is when and only when they prove themselves to be unable to engage in a reasoned back-and-forth, that we throw up our hands and say, “well, thou art a Demented Fuckwit; begone, sirrah, from my presence, for thou art a waste of time!”

    Got it? Good. Allrighty then.

  529. #532 Steve_C
    July 14, 2006

    M Petersen:

    You may as well believe you are invisible.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DCSgYTKfnzQ&search=Monty%20Python

  530. #533 George
    July 14, 2006

    Thanks for the recap, M.Petersen:

    Let me just recap here:
    – Only God knows and controls when the rapture will happen
    – God also knows who and when all people will accept or deny Him
    – God is patient, not wanting anyone to come to destruction
    – The rapture will happen at a certain time such that number of people who accept or deny God is larger than if it were moved either forward or backward in time
    – The point at which the rapture will happen is not necessarily the point of no return. It may actually contribute to more people believing after it occurs.

    Am I being unclear in explaining my point of view?

    Take a break. Come back in a week, a month, a year. Reread your words. Ask yourself if you really, really want to live in a world where anything goes, where beliefs held without any evidence are okay. Do you really want to be in the same camp as the terrorists who think they are going to have lots of virgins in heaven after they blow themselves up? ‘Cause that’s where you are right now. On the fringe. In the fantasy. Lost. WAKE UP!

  531. #534 Alexander Vargas
    July 14, 2006

    “I don’t see where you support that an insult makes Maitre a nutcase. Or don’t you believe he had valid reasons for his statement so you think you are replying in kind?”

    What is nutty about Maitre is not that he may not be able refrain from insult now and then, but that he BELIEVES in insulting. Which is an extremist crackpot proposal devoid of any realism as far as human relationships go.

    “Religion has no business telling science what to do, nor science has any business telling religion what to do.
    -That is a fine wish, but it has nothing to do with reality.”

    I’m talking about philosophy and logic. You are intrinsically wrong when you go into religious matters and say there is no god, because science nor reason will ever prove or disprove god. The whole “God” issue is none of science’s concern.

    “So a successful science says that other world views have different and questionable tools and practices for no good reason.”

    Not at all. It just has to display its results. Man does not need to kill religion in order to become more interested in the natural world. Again, you ignore history. The renaissance did not question religion. Actually the relaunching of the greeks occurred first in the heart of the church (specially St Thomas)

    “Moreover, science is an unconstrained tool to research reality with. It is hard (impossible really) to predict what it can or cannot say. Currently it says that supernatural explanations, souls, origins, vitalism, animism and other dualisms are bad or invalid concepts. That is incompatible with the core of religions.”

    Those are non though-out assertions. Science cannot say anything about the supernatural and does not want to say anything about the supernatural: or it ceases to be science. And why on earth did you include the word ORIGINS along with the ghosts? It seems to me you hide some aberrant self-argument.

    “Superstition *is* a very human-oriented enterprise. Religions that incorporates such bad ideas as sin are internally irrational, and such bad ideas as rapture, creationism (all forms) or the above breaks with good practices (science) are externally irrational. Of course there is a rationale behind; that doesn’t make it rational.”

    Walking under the ladder is just not comparable with the rationalizations of religion on several moral subjects. Religion is a whole complex social and existential machinery. Superstition is anecdotal.If you underestimate religion you will never see it coming. Some still don’t.

    “You lack evidence. See Doug’s comment above”.
    Not at all. If you know Dawkins you know what I said is true. With such unsincerity it is hard to keep a discussion.

    “I had to back up a comment of yours. It seems you are saying that Dawkins et al aren’t supporting usual evolution, merely orthodox neodarwinism. What is the evidence for that?”

    What do you mean by “usual” evolution???. To Dawkins and to most that’s darwinism.

    “It is the default explanation. After it is proven invalid, another explanation is attempted. There is nothing special with default hypotheses in biology as opposed to other sciences.”

    No. In the example I gave seletion alone simply COULDN’t explin the mammalian middle ear. You need exapatation. So the “default” was in fact incomplete from the beginning. Its not like it was a perfectly good explanation but it just happened to be something else. Because it was an ideological use of selection.

    “Please let me know what kind of evidence you think would make common descent and modification to be discarded.”
    -A rabbit fossil from the Cambrian.”

    How would this refute common descent in favor of some unknown process of sudden appearance of complex organisms? It would show a grave incoherence in the narration of the evolutionary , but science would not suddenly be concerned with the supernatural. Science would still be science.

    The old Cambrian rabbit chestnut is like saying that geometry would be refuted by a square circle. Because we know what a circle is and a square is, we can see that would be absurd. Because we know what the Cambrian is, and what rabbits are, we can fabricate an absurd statement. Ultimately it is an unsincere argument. Nobody is expecting a square circle or a cambrian rabbit COULD show up. This is what I the Vargas call “Fake eclectic chap empiricism” and it’s the reason why we have creationists, as I hope you will come to understand.

    Think about this. Show an extraterrestrial the Cambrian fauna and slip a rabbit into it. Would he see evidence against common descent? Would he feel the need to invoke the supernatural?
    Ok I’m leaving it here for you, but please follow up my next post….

  532. #535 Alexander Vargas
    July 14, 2006

    “A mammal whose genetic information is not coded in DNA.
    A given protein (eg hæmoglobin A) in rabbits being more similar to the same protein in chickens than in hares.
    Human hands growning out of a completely different embrionic structure than a horse’s foreleg.
    A goat giving birth to a cow.
    In short, if two creatures appear to be closely related but turn out not to be, then that would be a serious blow for common descent.”

    Not at all. It means the phyloegenetic tree was wrong, but it by no means implies evidence for any alternative of common descent (the supernatural phenomenon of creation, for instance). It just means that the closest relative of that organism may be another than was previously thought. The two first example shappen, but singletraits do not disprove relatedness. Th goat giving birth to a cow has not ahppend but it would obviously not refute common descent either. It simply does not logically follow.

    ALL YA FAKE ECLECTIC EMPIRICISTS!!!! THIS is what you get when you don’t acknowledge that all alternatives to common descent are non scientific, like if evidence “could” refute common descent. You get people thinking they have FOUND such evidence and that it can be scientific to say that common descent is not true. Creationism is the consequence of the sloppy epistemology you yourselves have promoted.

  533. #536 Keith Wolter
    July 14, 2006

    MP wrote:
    “This gets back to the question of why is there suffering? I’ve read many posts here that point fingers at God accusing Him of not caring about His creation. If He cared, wouldn’t He have created a perfect world without even the possibility of suffering? However, isn’t it possible that blaming God for our suffering is just a way of excusing yourself from responsibility? Yes, there is suffering in the world. And we shake our fist at God and say, “Why don’t you do something about this?” when perhaps it is God’s intent that WE do something about it. We ask, “Why won’t God do anything about suffering if he is so all powerful and loving?” I would say He did. He created YOU with brains and intellect and gave you the ability to have compassion and love and empathy for the people around you. Yes, there is suffering in the world, but is it more the result of a God who isn’t doing His job, or a people He created who aren’t doing the job He gave them?
    Very good point.”

    Huh? It is NOT a good point. It is an evasive escape clause that allows you to heap all the praise on your “God,” and place all the blame on people who “are not doing the job He gave them, ” i.e. worshipping your God, in the way you think is right.

    Look, I work in a hospital. And I have respect for the positive aspects of a strong faith. I’ve seen religion act as a powerful crutch for families going through very tough times. But I personally “lost” my religion in medical school, when I saw kids with cancer, and kids with other horrible illnesses, suffer, suffer, suffer. Explain to me how that is part of “God’s” plan? Oh, and don’t you dare tell me it is because of something their parents did or didn’t do. Those kids are from every race, religion, and group in the world. Why is it that every time something “miraculous” happens, you people all yell “praise Jesus,” but when something positive fails to happen, Jesus is off the hook? What “job” are people not doing that causes kids to get cancer?

    Please notice I refrained from calling you a Demented Fuckwit. (I may have thought it, though.)

  534. #537 Maitre Alcofribas
    July 14, 2006

    Dear Alexander Vargas,
    It only dawned on me after fininshing my first cup of coffee this morning that you might have taken my comment about arguing with nutcases as referring to you, personally.

    Good Goober, Man, nothing of the kind. I was talking about a certain class of indiduals (let us stipulate that there are actually Demented Fuckwits out there, for the sake of this argument) who are utterly impervious to any fact or argument which contradicts their cherished Weltanschauung.

    I speak from bitter experience when I say that arguing with such people is a waste of time which could be better spent plaiting one’s nose hairs or watching reruns of the Dukes of Hazzard. I have always been polite on this thread to M Petersen the person, whom I respect, although I have savaged his beliefs. There’s a big a difference.

    Now, having clarified things, I repeat my question: which one of us on this thread has used the very same insulting language which you vociferously condemn, you or I? In a later post, you again referred to me as “nutty”. Well?

  535. #538 M Petersen
    July 14, 2006

    He means that there must have been a “first thing” that existed without a cause, or you never have anything that can cause the “first thign” to exist, and thus, nothing can ever be caused to exist.

    Thank you for clarifying that. I would agree here then.

    Many Christians state that it’s completely illogical to imagine the Universe existing without a cause, thus God must exist, without ever explaining why it’s any more logical for God to be the “first thing” than the Universe.

    Seems more logical to me.
    So what you’re saying is that the universe didn’t actually come into existence a few billion years ago, it was much longer. I guess it was a very dull boring universe before then, and all of the sudden it decided to explode. So it had infinity to distribute matter evenly before it went boom. I have a tough time believing string theory, loop quantum theory, or inflationary cosmology.

    A more probable explanation to me is that there exists a creator, who had the power to cause the universe to come into existence and designed all matter, time, and energy.

    We all have exactly the same evidence available to us to support either way of thinking. The problem is when we argue about the evidence, we are arguing about our interpretations based on our presuppositions (i.e. starting beliefs). Of course it is sometimes possible just by presenting the evidence, a person could be convinced that a particular scientific argument makes sense for evolution “on the facts”.

    My presupposition is that the Bible is true, and that is the basis by which I understand the universe and interpret the facts. Natural selection, genetic drift, etc can be explained just fine and make sense based on the Bible.

    What are your presuppositions?

  536. #539 M Petersen
    July 14, 2006

    George:
    I don’t appreciate being put in the same category as terrorists — and I do not think it’s warranted given my comments.

    I am hardly lost at all. I’ve found everything I need in Jesus. Have you found everything you need?

  537. #540 Paul
    July 14, 2006

    Anyone want to open a book on whether this thread will break 1,000 posts? ;)

    Couple of points:

    @AVargas: A point of information: Dawkins didn’t actually want to call his series the Root of All Evil. That decision was made by executives at UK’s Channel 4. If you want me to find the citation for that, I can.

    Further – The point of Dawkins’ arguments (as I understand them ) that I agree with is that if you use scientific thinking to examine the phenomenon of organised religion, the answer you get is religious belief rests on a foundation that is not based on verifiable evidence. If you want to be scientifically rigourous, then you can’t also be religious. Religion exists, therefore it is open to study by science. Hence the conflict between the two.

    @M Petersen: You are very clear in explaining your point of view. The problem I think a lot of people have is with the logic of that point of view.

    You say:
    “- God also knows who and when all people will accept or deny Him”

    Does this count infants or those mentally incapable of understanding the concept and precepts of Christanity?

    You also say:
    “- God is patient, not wanting anyone to come to destruction”

    If he doesn’t want anyone to come to destruction, then why destroy anything? If he can make the perfect world that old mad Apocolypse John tells us about, why not do that in the first place?

    This connects with the point that Jason seems to find so laughable – wouldn’t an all-powerful god of love want everyone to have the same advantages as he does – no death, no suffering, infinate compassion? If he can do anything, and is all wise, why the convoluted obstacle course?

    Further:
    “- The rapture will happen at a certain time such that number of people who accept or deny God is larger than if it were moved either forward or backward in time.”

    So it won’t happen until human beings stop being born? Every human that’s born adds to the number of people who can possibly accept or deny god. I mean, doesn’t pulling the plug, say tomorrow, deny all those potential unborn souls a crack at paradise?

    Also – it admit I’ve only skimmed the bible, but where is all this in depth rapture information included? Wasn’t there something about not knowing the day or the hour (which contradicts your largest number statement above).

    And let me say – I don’t believe in or care about the rapture. What I do care about is that some dangerous people do beleive it to the point where they’re prepared to destroy everyone else on the planet in the misguided attempt to bring about the New Jerusalem. The purpose of debating you here is to attempt (vainly, I think) to point out the logical holes in your belief.

    As to Professor Sherwin-White finding that: “even the span of two full generations (50-80 years) is not long enough for legend to wipe out the hard core of historical fact.”

    I point to the myths that have grown up around Elvis Presley’s death, the Kennedy Assassination and 9/11. All of these events happened less than 50 years ago and even in this highly literate age, outlandish myths have grown up around them that small groups of people really, honestly believe (see also UFOs, alien abductions, big-foot etcetc). Think of how these myths would have grown and blossomed in a credulous, and largely illiterate world being swept by the conviction that the end times were nigh and that a messiah was coming?

    If you don’t think religions can rapidly spring up from little or nothing, then explain Scientology.

    And finally:
    “The Bible has been used numerous times to support craziness, I agree. But the message of the Bible, taken in context, does not support it. The Bible itself is not to blame here, but rather those who take it out of context and use it for evil.”

    Ok – so what context should the good Christian interpret this verse in (from Numbers 31, I beleive):

    “Moses said to them, “Have you let all the women live? Behold, these caused the people of Israel, by the counsel of Balaam, to act treacherously against the LORD in the matter of Pe’or, and so the plague came among the congregation of the LORD. Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known man by lying with him. But all the young girls who have not known man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.”

    My questions are
    (a): Should Christians kill the male children of idolators (say for example Hindus – not that I have anything against Hindus, I hasten to add), kill all non-virigin women, and keep the virgins as slaves?
    (b): If not, then why did the god of love allow this into the book of his word?
    (c): As he didn’t exercise due diligence in editorial control, aren’t Christians justified in citing this as the word of god to go and commit similar atrocities.

    Here’s another verse – same questions:

    “So the LORD our God also gave into our hands Og king of Bashan and all his army. We struck them down, leaving no survivors. At that time we took all his cities. There was not one of the sixty cities that we did not take from them–the whole region of Argob, Og’s kingdom in Bashan. All these cities were fortified with high walls and with gates and bars, and there were also a great many unwalled villages. We completely destroyed them, as we had done with Sihon king of Heshbon, destroying every city–men, women and children. But all the livestock and the plunder from their cities we carried off for ourselves.”

    And why does a god of love condone slavery:

    Exodus Chapter 21, verse 20:

    “If a man beats his male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies as a direct result, he must be punished, but he is not to be punished if the slave gets up after a day or two, since the slave is his property.”

    Should Christians keep slaves?
    If not, why not, since your god seems to be quite tolerant of slavekeeping (and beating)?

    These are not the actions or the opinions of a god of love.

  538. #541 M Petersen
    July 14, 2006

    Keith: The good point part was merely referring to the need for us to do better at curing disease, that’s all. Isn’t that a common goal for us all to strive?

    Please read all of my comments on suffering (also regarding how things work together for the ultimate good) – you should find my answer there.

  539. #543 Alexander Vargas
    July 14, 2006

    Maitre, let’s not obssess. I’m glad you have at least moved to saying that first we talk to them, try and reason; but I still think that when you find the person along this process to to be unassailable, to decide to top it off by shouting “well, you are you demented fuckwit!!” is not only childish, silly, and unnecesary but inhuman and an invitation to complete future mutual exclusion.

  540. #544 Paul
    July 14, 2006

    This thread is like an itch, you shouldn’t scratch it, but you just can’t help it…

    Anyhoo: MP, my good man – if have a problem with the big bang “just happening”, then where did god come from? Was he always “just there”? If you need cause and effect, what’s the cause of god?

    When it comes to ultimate beginnings, both science and christianity have a blind spot. The thing that makes the scientific view more convincing to me is that it’s based on observation and evidence, not on a book written by men thousands of years ago.

    And though you directed the question at George – I’ll answer by saying that having an atheistic view of the universe based on science does satisfy and fulfil me personally. I know that in a few decades I will cease to be. In the meantime, I hope to spend the time I have well, to try to see things as they truely are, to try to be good to people, not because I expect any reward for it, but because I have empathy with my fellow man. I don’t believe that biological life has any purpose beyond the perpetuation of itself and I don’t think my life has any inherent meaning beyond what I give it. It satisfies me that though what science has discovered I can grasp something of what the world and the universe is. While I don’t have everything I need (a raise and a house in southern Italy would be nice), I don’t feel any need to resort to religion to fulfil the needs I have. Only the real world can provide that.

  541. #545 M Petersen
    July 14, 2006

    Paul, this is a long one:

    Does this count infants or those mentally incapable of understanding the concept and precepts of Christanity?

    I believe God has mercy on infants, though I do not know the answer to this – it is not mentioned in the Bible.

    If he doesn’t want anyone to come to destruction, then why destroy anything? If he can make the perfect world that old mad Apocolypse John tells us about, why not do that in the first place?

    This connects with the point that Jason seems to find so laughable – wouldn’t an all-powerful god of love want everyone to have the same advantages as he does – no death, no suffering, infinate compassion? If he can do anything, and is all wise, why the convoluted obstacle course?

    I believe I answered this question already. I offerred some guesses, but the short version is I don’t know.

    So it won’t happen until human beings stop being born? Every human that’s born adds to the number of people who can possibly accept or deny god. I mean, doesn’t pulling the plug, say tomorrow, deny all those potential unborn souls a crack at paradise?

    Perhaps, again I don’t know.

    Also – it admit I’ve only skimmed the bible, but where is all this in depth rapture information included? Wasn’t there something about not knowing the day or the hour (which contradicts your largest number statement above).

    If you have some time, please look at:
    http://contenderministries.org/prophecy/rapturetrib.php
    The information is all over the place.

    The other thing you’re referring to I think is Matthew 24:36-44
    “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.
    “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

    I point to the myths that have grown up around Elvis Presley’s death, the Kennedy Assassination and 9/11.

    I would hardly put these myths in the same category as when some claim the Bible is myth.

    Numbers 31 and other verse answers:
    (a): No.
    (b): Under the old Law, this was the punishment dictated by God. But we are under a new Law, where we must love our neighbour as Jesus loved us and gave His life for us.
    (c): No.

    Christians should not keep slaves. Please refer to the following article:
    http://www.christian-thinktank.com/qnoslave.html

  542. #546 impatientpatient
    July 14, 2006

    http://www.seedmagazine.com/news/2006/07/mice_can_feel_cagemates_pain.php?utm_source=SB-rightcol&utm_medium=linklist&utm_campaign=internal%2Blinkshare

    Peterson- Read this link. It explains suffereing- mouse suffering- and how even MICE can feel another mouse’s pain.

    As for suffering- please, please please, once again, tell me HOW EXACTLY unremitting 24/7 non-curable pain is meant to help anyone.

    Please.

    Because I refuse to believe or accept that.

    There is nothing noble in that kind of pain.

    There has been nothing noble in my response to it. I have done what I can to help, I have been involved in the whole process, and that is all I can do.

    It has not made me a better person. It has not made me a worse person. It has just made it so that life is all fucked up. Completely. Tell me the VALUE of losing one’s job please, because I would like ANOTHER Christian perspective on this. Tell me the value of financial instability please. All the “Christians” I have met during this whole fucking mess have essentially seen it as a judgement from god, or an indication of personal weakness that this happened. The non-theists are the ones in there offering help on a consistent basis. What can I do? What do you need? vs I am praying for you. Hmmm….
    What would you say is the value of Christianity here????

    Yeah. Please – I am extremely curious as to what the fuck lesson I am supposed to learn through all of this. Please M- you seem to have a hell of a lot of answers- I would like to see one more pertaining specifically to my situation.

    Quick question- have you EVER suffered in your life?? I mean like the kind of physical suffering that makes you want to rip off a body part? Have you lived with someone who has?? Cuz, personally, I figure you are a little tiny thing, still wet behind the ears and full of piss and vinegar. Idealistic and all that jazz. Not knowing n awful lot about how fucked up REAL life can get despite the best laid plans of mice and men.

  543. #547 M Petersen
    July 14, 2006

    Paul:
    Yes, God was just there. He is not limited by time because He created time in the beginning. I need a cause for matter, energy, and time.

    Well, then I guess your brain, and your thought processes, are just the product of randomness. So you don’t know whether it evolved the right way, or even what right would mean in that context. You don’t even know if you’re making correct statements.

    I cannot accept that life has no meaning. I don’t understand why you would care about anything other than yourself, if the only reason we’re here is to perpetuate life.

  544. #548 Steve_C
    July 14, 2006

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Npnh5c8P80s&search=%22Lewis%20Black%22

    They seem to like his message AV. And oh no he calls them PSYCHOTIC!!!!
    Those people there on the fence are going to be annoyed that he’s being offensive.

    More Lewis. His anger and wit make him GREAT.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SqpYsV53dqU&search=%22Lewis%20Black%22

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZMZa4M81Hw&search=%22Lewis%20Black%22

  545. #549 Steve_C
    July 14, 2006

    Maybe you should read Dawkins.

    He thinks that Altruism is a trait that is genetically passed down through evolution.
    People with a lack of empathy are not desireable to the survival of species.
    Maybe we’re just “moral” because we’ve developed that way.

  546. #550 impatientpatient
    July 14, 2006

    Sometimes people say things way better than I can…..

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sam-harris/there-is-no-god-and-you-_b_8459.html

    Somewhere in the world a man has abducted a little girl. Soon he will rape, torture, and kill her. If an atrocity of this kind not occurring at precisely this moment, it will happen in a few hours, or days at most. Such is the confidence we can draw from the statistical laws that govern the lives of six billion human beings.

    The same statistics also suggest that this girl’s parents believe — at this very moment — that an all-powerful and all-loving God is watching over them and their family. Are they right to believe this? Is it good that they believe this?

    No.

    The entirety of atheism is contained in this response. Atheism is not a philosophy; it is not even a view of the world; it is simply a refusal to deny the obvious. Unfortunately, we live in a world in which the obvious is overlooked as a matter of principle. The obvious must be observed and re-observed and argued for. This is a thankless job. It carries with it an aura of petulance and insensitivity. It is, moreover, a job that the atheist does not want.

    It is worth noting that no one ever need identify himself as a non-astrologer or a non-alchemist. Consequently, we do not have words for people who deny the validity of these pseudo-disciplines. Likewise, “atheism” is a term that should not even exist. Atheism is nothing more than the noises reasonable people make when in the presence of religious dogma. The atheist is merely a person who believes that the 260 million Americans (eighty-seven percent of the population) who claim to “never doubt the existence of God” should be obliged to present evidence for his existence — and, indeed, for his benevolence, given the relentless destruction of innocent human beings we witness in the world each day. Only the atheist appreciates just how uncanny our situation is: most of us believe in a God that is every bit as specious as the gods of Mount Olympus; no person, whatever his or her qualifications, can seek public office in the United States without pretending to be certain that such a God exists; and much of what passes for public policy in our country conforms to religious taboos and superstitions appropriate to a medieval theocracy. Our circumstance is abject, indefensible, and terrifying. It would be hilarious if the stakes were not so high.

    Consider: the city of New Orleans was recently destroyed by hurricane Katrina. At least a thousand people died, tens of thousands lost all their earthly possessions, and over a million have been displaced. It is safe to say that almost every person living in New Orleans at the moment Katrina struck believed in an omnipotent, omniscient, and compassionate God. But what was God doing while a hurricane laid waste to their city? Surely He heard the prayers of those elderly men and women who fled the rising waters for the safety of their attics, only to be slowly drowned there. These were people of faith. These were good men and women who had prayed throughout their lives. Only the atheist has the courage to admit the obvious: these poor people spent their lives in the company of an imaginary friend.

    Of course, there had been ample warning that a storm “of biblical proportions” would strike New Orleans, and the human response to the ensuing disaster was tragically inept. But it was inept only by the light of science. Advance warning of Katrina’s path was wrested from mute Nature by meteorological calculations and satellite imagery. God told no one of his plans. Had the residents of New Orleans been content to rely on the beneficence of the Lord, they wouldn’t have known that a killer hurricane was bearing down upon them until they felt the first gusts of wind on their faces. And yet, a poll conducted by The Washington Post found that eighty percent of Katrina’s survivors claim that the event has only strengthened their faith in God.

    As hurricane Katrina was devouring New Orleans, nearly a thousand Shiite pilgrims were trampled to death on a bridge in Iraq. There can be no doubt that these pilgrims believed mightily in the God of the Koran. Indeed, their lives were organized around the indisputable fact of his existence: their women walked veiled before him; their men regularly murdered one another over rival interpretations of his word. It would be remarkable if a single survivor of this tragedy lost his faith. More likely, the survivors imagine that they were spared through God’s grace.

    Only the atheist recognizes the boundless narcissism and self-deceit of the saved. Only the atheist realizes how morally objectionable it is for survivors of a catastrophe to believe themselves spared by a loving God, while this same God drowned infants in their cribs. Because he refuses to cloak the reality of the world’s suffering in a cloying fantasy of eternal life, the atheist feels in his bones just how precious life is — and, indeed, how unfortunate it is that millions of human beings suffer the most harrowing abridgements of their happiness for no good reason at all.

    Of course, people of faith regularly assure one another that God is not responsible for human suffering. But how else can we understand the claim that God is both omniscient and omnipotent? There is no other way, and it is time for sane human beings to own up to this. This is the age-old problem of theodicy, of course, and we should consider it solved. If God exists, either He can do nothing to stop the most egregious calamities, or He does not care to. God, therefore, is either impotent or evil. Pious readers will now execute the following pirouette: God cannot be judged by merely human standards of morality. But, of course, human standards of morality are precisely what the faithful use to establish God’s goodness in the first place. And any God who could concern himself with something as trivial as gay marriage, or the name by which he is addressed in prayer, is not as inscrutable as all that. If He exists, the God of Abraham is not merely unworthy of the immensity of creation; he is unworthy even of man.

    There is another possibility, of course, and it is both the most reasonable and least odious: the biblical God is a fiction. As Richard Dawkins has observed, we are all atheists with respect to Zeus and Thor. Only the atheist has realized that the biblical god is no different. Consequently, only the atheist is compassionate enough to take the profundity of the world’s suffering at face value. It is terrible that we all die and lose everything we love; it is doubly terrible that so many human beings suffer needlessly while alive. That so much of this suffering can be directly attributed to religion — to religious hatreds, religious wars, religious delusions, and religious diversions of scarce resources — is what makes atheism a moral and intellectual necessity. It is a necessity, however, that places the atheist at the margins of society. The atheist, by merely being in touch with reality, appears shamefully out of touch with the fantasy life of his neighbors.

  547. #551 Steve_C
    July 14, 2006

    AV: One last piece on Lewis Black. Have you bothered to watch any?
    He’s uses the EXACT atittude we want. And he is MAINTSTREAM.
    PZ nor any of us are extremists.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jkIyldarKwI&search=%22Lewis%20Black%22

  548. #552 Alexander Vargas
    July 14, 2006

    Lewis Black? man he ain’t that funny. He is just predictable and partisan hyperbole. Gimme Steve Colbert anyday, much more funny and subtle. He’s hilarious!!
    I can’t belive you chose a humorist as your philosophical emblen. A funnier one at least, Steve.

  549. #553 Maitre Alcofribas
    July 14, 2006

    AV,
    At the risk of “obsessing”: a close reading of my posts will reveal that all along I’ve advocated reason and respect, with the “nucular option” only as a last resort. At some point, even the best-intentioned debater must realize that some folks are simply not arguing in good faith. An obscenity at that juncture will not make things any worse.
    I’m glad you didn’t insult me in your last reply!

  550. #554 wintermute
    July 14, 2006

    So what you’re saying is that the universe didn’t actually come into existence a few billion years ago, it was much longer. I guess it was a very dull boring universe before then, and all of the sudden it decided to explode.

    Time as we know it has only existed since the Big Bang. Anything that happened before that, happened outside time as we know it, and outside any laws of nature that we can even begin to understand. I’m not suggesting that the Universe exsted before the Big Bang; quite the opposite. I’m suggesting that the Big Bang did not have a cause. Counterintuitive, I know, but hardly forbidden by modern cosmology.

    A more probable explanation to me is that there exists a creator, who had the power to cause the universe to come into existence and designed all matter, time, and energy.

    So, if the Universe must have a cause and a creator, why doesn’t the same logic apply to God?

  551. #555 Steve_C
    July 14, 2006

    He’s an example of someone who is quite POPULAR for his attitude.
    The attitude you claim will hurt the cause.

    I don’t care if you find him funny. He proves PZ’s point. Disproves yours.

    So quit giving us shit for being CRAZY and EXTREME. We’re not.

    Stop being such a pussie.

  552. #556 wintermute
    July 14, 2006
    A mammal whose genetic information is not coded in DNA.
    A given protein (eg hæmoglobin A) in rabbits being more similar to the same protein in chickens than in hares.
    Human hands growning out of a completely different embrionic structure than a horse’s foreleg.
    A goat giving birth to a cow.
    In short, if two creatures appear to be closely related but turn out not to be, then that would be a serious blow for common descent.

    Not at all. It means the phyloegenetic tree was wrong, but it by no means implies evidence for any alternative of common descent (the supernatural phenomenon of creation, for instance). It just means that the closest relative of that organism may be another than was previously thought. The two first examples happen, but single traits do not disprove relatedness. Th goat giving birth to a cow has not ahppend but it would obviously not refute common descent either. It simply does not logically follow.

    You’re seriously claiming that the first two points I listed actually exist in nature? That is to say, 1) a major order life form that doesn’t use DNA, and yet otherwise appears to fit neatly into our taxonomy, and 2) an organism such that a given protein is more closely shared with wildly different organisms than with very similar ones.

    What are they, and can you provide references? Because I’m 100% sure that such a thing has never been found, and would destroy common descent if they did, simply by proving that there are no relationships between given organisms.

    And as for goats giving birth to cows (a known, pre-existing species not especially closely related to goats) not being a disproof of evolution: Evolution clearly states that major changes don’t happen in a single genration, and that a given species won’t evolve again. If this was observed to happen, it would be pretty much a slam-dunk proof of special creation.

    As a hint, if someone tells you “this is what would convince me I’m wrong”, it’s mroe productive to see if you can demonstrate the evidence they’re asking for than to simply tell them that they’re lying. If you can show that any of the things I listed exist, then I’ll happily renounce common descent. And I don’t think I’ll be in a minority, either.

  553. #557 George
    July 14, 2006

    M.Petersen said:Yes, God was just there. He is not limited by time because He created time in the beginning. I need a cause for matter, energy, and time.

    This is more of the same: everything “just is” the way I say it is. At least be intellectually honest and admit that you are making this up and that you could be wrong.

  554. #558 M Petersen
    July 14, 2006

    All the “Christians” I have met during this whole fucking mess have essentially seen it as a judgement from god, or an indication of personal weakness that this happened. The non-theists are the ones in there offering help on a consistent basis. What can I do? What do you need? vs I am praying for you. Hmmm….
    What would you say is the value of Christianity here????

    There is no value in that kind of “Christianity”. In fact, they are treating you exactly as Job’s supposed friends did. Words, and prayer, are cheap.
    To those “Christians” I would quote James 2:14-26:

    What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
    But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”
    Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.

    You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that–and shudder.

    You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.

    In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

    Seriously though, is there anything I can do to help in a tangible way? I am quite serious, if you don’t believe me, put me to the test.

    I have suffered myself and personally, it helps me to know that God experiences human suffering also. When you look at a lonely, tortured man on a cross, nails through his hands and feet, back lacerated, limbs wrenched, brow bleeding, mouth dry, stuck in darkness, you see the suffering of God. Jesus doesn’t just sympathize with human suffering, he knows it first hand.

    From John Stott’s book The Cross of Christ:
    “I could never myself believe in God if it were not for the cross. In the real world of pain, how could one worship a God who was immune to it? The only God I believe in is the one Nietzsche ridiculed as “God on the cross”. That is the God for me!”

    Everybody is going to suffer in some way. We have no choice about that. The choice we do have is whether we suffer alone or in the hands of a God who is all-powerful and all-loving and whose hands are forever scarred by his own suffering.

    So the “answer” to the problem of suffering is not a formula or an intellectual argument, but a relationship with God who is all-powerful yet has suffered and still does suffer with his creatures. But that’s not the end of it, because he not only knows about suffering and death. The Christian God knows about victory over suffering and death, because he conquered it in rising from the dead. One day, death and suffering will come to an end and everything will be made right. (Perhaps that is why some are trying to speed it up, if they could).

  555. #559 M Petersen
    July 14, 2006

    This is more of the same: everything “just is” the way I say it is. At least be intellectually honest and admit that you are making this up and that you could be wrong.

    I cannot claim credit for God existing. Once again, I will repeat that I could be wrong – I don’t think I am obviously. I haven’t heard one of you say that phrase about the stance that God doesn’t exist.

  556. #560 George
    July 14, 2006

    M.Petersen:

    Do you believe in a God who is going to destroy all unbelievers at the Battle of Armaggedon?

    If so, I don’t quite know why you should not be lumped in with the Islamic terrorists who believe in the destruction of Western society.

    Do you look forward to all the bad stuff that the Bible predicts?

  557. #561 Steve_C
    July 14, 2006

    You don’t get it.

    You have to make a leap of faith to consider that God even MIGHT exist.

    Nost of us are willing to do that. You seem to make that leap willy nilly and almost without thought.

    Why not say there’s a Zeus or a Flying Spaghetti Monster? The only requirement is
    FAITH. There is no evidence of them either. The bible is not evidence. It’s not that you could be wrong… you ARE wrong.

  558. #562 George
    July 14, 2006

    Unicorns could exist but there is no evidence for them, therefore I am not going to waste my time investing them with a lot of significance. Same with God.

  559. #563 Alexander Vargas
    July 14, 2006

    Sorry, I meant your proposals 2 and 3. Obviously a mammal without DNA does not exist. But it would not disprove common descent. Just no logical connection there.

    Your proposals 2 and 3 were

    “A given protein (eg hæmoglobin A) in rabbits being more similar to the same protein in chickens than in hares”

    Birds are closer to retiles than to ammlas, yet birds and ammlas can share similarities of their haemoglobins that are absent in reptiles because both are warm-blooded and carry plenty of oxigen. The point being that molecular convergence can exist and has been documented. And what you seem to miss entirely: One trait does not make a phylogeny. That is, birds are STILL closer to reptiles.

    “Human hands growning out of a completely different embrionic structure than a horse’s foreleg”

    This kind of stuff happens all the time. Anterior somites of amphioxus, for example, develop as evaginations of the endodermal foregut, but they condense from mesenchyme in other chordates.

    Didin;t you mention the same species cannot occur twice? Well , the same evolutionary cahnge can be undergone in parallel. For example species of drosophila with hairless larvae have evolved from hairy ancestors more than once. Of you looked only at the larvae you wid think the hairless species to be more closely related. Not true when you look at the molecular phylogeny.

    It’s all within the evolutionary possibilites of change.

    What are you going to do now, wintermute? Happily renounce common descent to embrace supernatural or unscientific explanations of sudden appearance?
    And why on earth would you do something so silly???? You know perfectky well all those happenstances do not exclude common descent. At most they will indicate a wrinkle in the theory, by no chance a total invalidation of common descent.

    If you exclude common descent, all you have left is the supernatural. So when you say you would happily abandon common descent what you are actually saying is that you would happily abandon being scientific, just “given the evidence”. HA!!
    What an ugly mess.

  560. #564 Alexander Vargas
    July 14, 2006

    If I manage to piss you off so nicely, I cannot be so lame, huh, Steve? Learn from the master.
    I don’t care if Lewis, Bush or swingin butt to the macarena are the most popular. See, I don’t believe we still are living in a huge high school like you insulters who quite plainly think its all about bullying, humilation and popularity *Barf*

  561. #565 wintermute
    July 14, 2006

    Obviously a mammal without DNA does not exist. But it would not disprove common descent. Just no logical connection there.

    It would prove that that species did not share descent with the rest of the mammals, despite being “related enough” to e classified amongst them. It would strongly indicate that there was no reason to assume that any other two mammals were related to each other.

    A given protein (eg hæmoglobin A) in rabbits being more similar to the same protein in chickens than in hares

    Birds are closer to retiles than to ammlas, yet birds and ammlas can share similarities of their haemoglobins that are absent in reptiles because both are warm-blooded and carry plenty of oxigen. The point being that molecular convergence can exist and has been documented. And what you seem to miss entirely: One trait does not make a phylogeny. That is, birds are STILL closer to reptiles.

    No, sorry. Bird hæmoglobins are more similar to their equivilent in reptiles than in mammals. The changes that occured in the evolution of birds are dinstinct from those that occured in the mammalian lineage, and hæmoglobin demonstrates as well as anything else that birds and mammals are both distantly related to reptles, via different paths.

    Once again, I’m not looking for convergent evolution of some feature of a given protein, but actual similarity of the proteins themselves. There is a difference.

    Human hands growning out of a completely different embrionic structure than a horse’s foreleg

    This kind of stuff happens all the time. Anterior somites of amphioxus, for example, develop as evaginations of the endodermal foregut, but they condense from mesenchyme in other chordates.

    I have to admit, I’m not a biologist, and this is over my head, but a few minutes looking up terms on Wikipedia leads me to believe that you have a common embryolical structure (the somites) that go on to become different features. Is that correct, or am I misunderstanding?

  562. #566 Steve_C
    July 14, 2006

    I just disproved your statements about incivility being unpopular. You keep claiming we’re the extremists… the mean ones that will lose face. I showed you that statement… true? Not so much. Lewis Black is wildly popular because he’s calling BULLSHIT when he sees it and mocking those spouting it.

    I’m not going to wussify my arguments or stance in order to not offend. It’s not about bullying. Humiliation perhaps. They should be humiliated, they are spouting CRAZY SHIT. Racists deserve it. Homophobes deserve it. Misogynists deserve it. And weak religious people trying to spread the “word” in order to hasten armageddon deserve it.

    Learn from the master? huh? Barf?

  563. #567 Alexander Vargas
    July 14, 2006

    Your mammal without DNA is like the round circle or the cambrian rabbit. To absurd to count as honest evidence. And no, it owuld STILL not be at odds with common descent, though it would cetainly be challenging and bring uo lots if different answers. Truth is, just like the cambrian rabbit, people juts would not know what to make of it. But its not going to happen you know. Cause its internally absurd, self incoherent strawmen. Dishonest, fake “empiricism”

    Wintermute, I’m pretty sure endothermy has produced convergences in the haemoglobins. For example, I believe affinity of oxigen binding in both is reduced delivering oxigen more quickly to the tissue, whereas affinity to binding oxygen in reptiles is greater.

    Yeah, somites are just that, and they develop from previous embryonic strucutres. You know: ectoderm, mesoderm and endoderm. And what we find is that somites may develop from endoderm in one chordate, from mesoderm in the other.

    Not enough?

    The collumnella of birds may develop from mesenchyme or from ectomesenchyme.

    Lenses in salamanders can develop from the ectoderm but also from the iris

    Digits 1,2 and 3 develop from embryonic condensations 1,2 and 3 in lizard forelimbs but 2,3 and 4 in the bird wing.

    So, wintermute? Did you actually offer evidence that refuted common descent? I still can’t get WHY you thought these things were at odds with common descent.

  564. #568 Carlie
    July 14, 2006

    Sheesh. Took awhile to catch up, and this is from a couple hundred back or so, but I thought deserved comment.

    “Yes, there is suffering in the world, but is it more the result of a God who isn’t doing His job, or a people He created who aren’t doing the job He gave them?”

    From the point of view of the sufferer, it doesn’t make any damned bit of difference. “Sorry, sweetie, you have to die horribly of malnutrition because all those other people around you aren’t helping. What, me? No, I’m only God, I can’t do anything, I’m relying on all those people down there to do the job.”

    By that reasoning, he would be even more of a bastard.

  565. #569 Alexander Vargas
    July 14, 2006

    When I say learn from the master, I expect a minimum of sense of humor.
    And Lewis Black has been around for some while calling bullshit by its name (what a genius), but he did not stop Bush. I guess you cynic “geniuses” will just have to work a liiiittle harder, huh? Before the supreme court looks like a church, please.

  566. #570 Steve_C
    July 14, 2006

    Are you even from the U.S.? Do you have any idea how it works over here? Apparently not.
    We’ve been TOO nice to the fundies… and trying not to offend them for decades.
    Get a grip.

  567. #571 Alexander Vargas
    July 14, 2006

    Think about this Steve. I’m acting harsh, but not even close to the demented fuckwit level. A llitle bit of your own recipe, yeah, only veeery diluted. And there you are, you and maitre, complaining.

  568. #572 M Petersen
    July 14, 2006

    George:

    Yes. But we are a loooong way off from the Battle of Armageddon.

    Rather lengthy, but an excellent explanation nonetheless:
    http://contenderministries.org/prophecy/blessedhope.php

    Let me attempt to summarize it:
    Rapture of the Church
    1. Church is raptured.
    2. Church is judged.
    3. Church receives a special celebration at the marriage supper of the Lamb.
    4. Sun and moon darkened, stars will fall, heavenly bodies shaken.
    5. Rise of the antichrist, war of gog and magog.
    6. Jesus comes to Earth to establish his kingdom, everyone will see Him, everyone will mourn who is not prepared (because it’s too late to believe now).
    7. Second rapture of those who believe after the first rapture.

    Battles (more than one, but will occur in one day)
    8.
    a) The Battle of Armageddon – The armies of the world will be gathered against Jesus in the Valley of Megiddo where He will destroy them. Revelation 16:12-16; Ezekiel 39:17-22; Revelation 19:15
    b) The Battle of the Valley of Jehoshaphat – More armies of the nations will battle Christ. He will reap a judgment harvest on the nations of the earth for their persecution of the nation of Israel. Joel 3:1-2; 9-17, Revelation 14:14-20
    c) The Battle of Jerusalem – The final battle in the war of the Great Day of the Lord. Satan will make one final attempt to destroy Jerusalem. In this final battle Satan, the Antichrist, and his armies are defeated. Zechariah 12:1-9, Revelation 16:17-21.

    9. The antichrist and the false prophet are judged and condemned.
    10. Separation of those who did or did not believe during the tribulation, those who didn’t are cast into the lake of fire and die.
    11. Earth is destroyed and renovated by fire.
    12. Jesus will reign on Earth for 1000 years. Satan is bound and nobody will be tempted or deceived.
    13. Those believers who lived through the tribulation are still alive in the flesh and will populate the millenial kingdom.
    14. Those born during this time will be free to choose to follow Jesus or not, proving that people are not inherently good and it’s their environment that makes them bad.
    15. At the end of the 1000 years, Satan is released and some will side with him in his final battle and defeat.
    16. Great white throne of judgment. All non-believers are resurrected, body reunited with soul from its place in torment, and judged. Why the 2nd judgement? All the condemned will have to make account for what they have done.

    17. New heaven and earth created.
    18. Believers spend eternity with God in their new glorified bodies (given to them at the two raptures).

    I would encourage you to also read what the new heaven and earth will be like at the end of the article. Not nearly as “boring” as some of my aethist friends seem to think.

  569. #573 Alexander Vargas
    July 14, 2006

    And don’t give me that foreignizing BS, Steve. Anyone can realize how its working out here. You are a sorely divided country. Each little self righteous sect makes no effort to make bridges, but just wishes they had a paradise of their own, and pretend the rest don’t exist.
    Which is at the root of the problem. Yet you propose nothing but to perpetuate this. AND, you may lose. It takes much less than what you think. You guys feel so lucky, so sure that things will eventually go your way, that you will dodge the christians. I sincerely hope so, but I would no count on it. At the very least they will still be lurking, ready for the next chance. Or they wiull take control and end the separation of church an state. And then they are going to be around for a looooong, loooong time, Stevie, oh you will love it.

  570. #574 Steve_C
    July 14, 2006

    Have you ever been in an argument?

    Is there a third party standing on the sidelines of this discussion I don’t know about?

    You’re NOT acting harsh just dense.

  571. #575 Steve_C
    July 14, 2006

    eh… you start to get all… he went red dinnit…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JLdjp_j5eHk&search=%22Lewis%20Black%22

    Very funny.

  572. #576 Alexander Vargas
    July 14, 2006

    It’s edited..the whole floater thing made me burst my ribs the first time I saw it … I could not stop laughing
    Ali G is cooler than Lewis too haha

  573. #577 Maitre Alcofribas
    July 14, 2006

    Steve_C,
    Careful, or he’ll tell you not to obsess! ;-)(Pot…kettle…black.)

  574. #578 Alexander Vargas
    July 14, 2006

    Now there Maitre, don’t obsess on the don’t obsess thing… I know perfectly well when I’m putting firecrackers in someone’s pants. Sorry about that heeheee

  575. #579 Steve_C
    July 14, 2006

    You’re wrong. You don’t get it. We’re not the ones causing the divisions.
    Plus you think we’ve distilled our entire argument on everything to
    YOU ARE A DEMENTED FUCKWIT. You’re being dense.

    This country is actually (when polled) in agreement on most things. The opportunists
    manage to prey upon the fears and hatreds of a pretty distinct minority that will go
    vote on single issues such as gay marriage. All it takes is 4-6 percent of the populatuon to say “you know what I’m not going to let these demented fuckwits elect another dimwit, who can’t govern, into office.”

    And if you haven’t noticed I’m already pretty pissed off how things are going already.

  576. #580 Alexander Vargas
    July 14, 2006

    Its the whole package that screams extremism, steve.

    1) You guys follow Dawkins, Dennet: the ultradarwinists. They are extremists in biology. This, totally regardles of what anyone has to say about the god debate.

    2) As dawkins, you guys favor a view of science and reason at war with faith and religion. That again is quite an easy, simplistic and comfortable corner, that is, extremism.

    3) And, oh, what a coincidence. You guys favor using insults. I do not care how murky you are about WHEN it is good to use insults (cause you have gone to and fro without risking anything much too clear) but to any reasonable person that is silly, always. Insulting, however, always enjoys a cozy corner in the heart of the extremist.

    4) Extremists never acknowledge they are extremists. This is why they are willing to make great spectacles of themselves, with hyperbole, extreme words, extreme actions. Because they want to show they are just SO sure of what they think. But of course, such actions tell them off right away as extremists. Funny, though. they are alienated and can’t realize how they look from the outside.

    Any normal person readings PZ post sees “You are a demented fuckwit” in big bold letters repeated thrice in perfect propangada style. Goebbels could not have done it better.

    And then you all pat each other’s shoulders and wink at each other on just how reasonable and non extremists you guys are. Pleeeeze!!!!!!

  577. #581 George
    July 14, 2006

    M.Petersen, thanks for the summary. It’s quite the opposite of boring. Question:

    4. Sun and moon darkened, stars will fall, heavenly bodies shaken.
    5. Rise of the antichrist, war of gog and magog.
    6. Jesus comes to Earth to establish his kingdom, everyone will see Him, everyone will mourn who is not prepared (because it’s too late to believe now).

    Ummm, how is anyone going to see Him (6) if there is no light (4). Are the wars taking place in complete darkness? Also, when the fighting starts, how will people know who to smite in the dark? Do they distribute special night-vision goggles or something?

    I’m sure you have an easy answer. Please clarify. This would make a great movie.

  578. #582 Steve_C
    July 14, 2006

    AND you failed to see that a wildly popular mainstream comedian that’s on TV every week has a popular new book called “Nothing’s Sacred” has the same attitude we do.

    We’re not extreme.

    What the fuck is an ultradarwinist? Is that something like and UltraBigBangamist?

  579. #583 j
    July 14, 2006

    Someone mentioned this thread is like an itch.

    I think it’s more like a Hydra.

    A few things I wished to comment on:

    I am hardly lost at all. I’ve found everything I need in Jesus. Have you found everything you need?

    Let’s see. I have my ability to reason and to question. I have freedom and responsibility. I have the promise of eternal death that awaits me. Yes, I have found everything I need.

    I cannot accept that life has no meaning. I don’t understand why you would care about anything other than yourself, if the only reason we’re here is to perpetuate life.

    And yet somehow, I do care about things other than myself. I wonder how I do it.

    The comment about not accepting that life has no meaning is intriguing to me. I suggest to anyone who’s still following this thread to read Ernest Becker’s Denial of Death. Terror management theory and existential anguish are so interesting. The extent to which people are willing to go to deny their own mortality is amazing to me.

  580. #584 Alexander Vargas
    July 14, 2006

    Read Gould. You know, someone who has actually contributed to evolutionary biology. Jeeez how naïve! No such thing as ultradarwinsim, hahahaha yeah, right.

    Remember, evolution was already a major topic on the table because of Lamarck, who was popular and influential before Darwin. Darwinism = evolution is simply not true. Darwinism = natural selection is the main force behind evolution. That is true.
    Which turned out to be mostly wishful thinking.

  581. #585 Steve_C
    July 14, 2006

    I still don’t know what you’re talking about.
    What constitutes and Ultradarwinist?

  582. #586 PZ Myers
    July 14, 2006

    Yes, read Gould. The term is not “ultradarwinism,” but “ultradarwinian.” It refers to someone who is not a pluralist, who insists that all evolutionary explanations must be in terms of selection. You will less often see it referred to as an “ism” in science…creationists prefer to make that association with ideology.

    I disagree with some significant specifics of Dawkins’ ideas about evolution. I agree with his rejection of religion. I’m much more in line with Gould’s ideas about evolution, but I disagree completely with his NOMA nonsense. That’s OK — this is not an ideological debate where we all have to line up on one side of every argument.

  583. #587 PZ Myers
    July 14, 2006

    A good overview of the faults of the ultra-darwinian paradigm can be found in Gould’s “The Pleasures of Pluralism”.

  584. #588 Steve_C
    July 14, 2006

    I’ve just started reading the Selfish Gene so I don’t know how I could be an “Ultradarwinian”. I’m not even in the sciences. I went to art school.

  585. #589 Alexander Vargas
    July 14, 2006

    I can understand why you feel you have been too nice to the fundies. And you have. You have let them do basically whatever they wanted. You tolerated them. But you did not respect them, and you continue not to.

    Let me stop to expalin what tolerance and respect mean to me, which is not the usual thing (I lifted it off from biophilosopher Humberto Maturana).

    You can tolerate what youthin is no menace. It does not matter how much you disagree. Yo see it as ridiculous and demented, and you can’t see how it could go anywhere. Therefore, you let it be, and you do nothing against it. You tolerate it. It requires no action.

    In turn, you respect that which may bring you trouble. Interestingly, you respect even if you don’t like it or look upward to it. I would not try pulling a wedgy on stone cold, if you know what I mean. I would not dart into a neonazi rally and call them fartheads, even if they are. See, respect and admiration are totally different things, and they truly do not always go together.

    Now by this I obviously o not mean that you should bow your head to the crazy powerful. No, I mean that you KNOW that unless you DO something, they WILL walk over you. You cannot tolerate it. You cannot remain indifferent.

    And you guys never had any respect for the fundies and creationists. So you tolerated them. But they have grown. They have accumulated power. The lack of respect and therefore the inaction of tolerance was clearly a big mistake. Basically, you underestimated them.

    Much like the UK authorities did not respect Hitler, and they tolerated and tolerated him until it was too late. Only Churchill, who respected Hitler, dealed with the true situation (anybody going to pull the godwin law on me now?)

    But the funny thing is, you guys STILL have no respect for them!!! You still underestimate them, and your purported strategy right now, is to go pull a wedgy on the monster to provoke him. Its really, really stupid. What he will do is rip your head off. You need to get real, guys. Start respecting the monster.

    They have traction. Enough traction to have a president that is condescending. So analize this. Analize why do they have this traction. Cause one thing I can tell ya: It is not going to be easy. Do not continue underestamating them.

  586. #590 George
    July 14, 2006

    Vargas, remember, you are the one who came here to post comments for three days straight. We are a community of godless liberals. Go post somewhere else if you want respect and toleration. No one is underestimating the nutcases. That is why we are here – to show our opposition and to make some pretty good arguments for why people should not listen to the likes of you.

  587. #591 Steve_C
    July 14, 2006

    Vargas. I just think you’re failing to see strategy.
    Of course we fight them on the facts and the science and the lack of coherent morals or consistency. But we also call them on their bullshit when they are being Batshit crazy.

    It’s NOT tolerating the bullshit relentlessly and PART of that is saying “The apocalypse? Creationism? Are you out of your fucking gourd?! Take your nonsense somewhere else we’re going to talk about something that matters like helathcare and our fucked energy policy.”

  588. #592 George
    July 14, 2006

    It’s Friday, How about a song to lighten things up:

    UltraBigBangalanga,
    Beebop shabooty
    BigaBangalanga ding dong!

    I say “darwinism,”!
    You say “darwinian”!

    ‘ism, ‘ian,
    ‘nism, ‘nian,
    Oh, let’s call the whole thing off!

    We haven’t made it to comment 666 yet. Don’t stop commenting. We can make it!

  589. #593 Steve_C
    July 14, 2006

    WiTH POST 666 THE RAPTURE WILL BEGIN!

  590. #594 Alexander Vargas
    July 14, 2006

    Now that is interesting. The sorest responses, for what I thought was quite an inoccuous post in comparison to others. Stevie, all it takes is one dissenting voice and you’ll join the riot? You are quite ready to label and throw me away, ain’t ya.

    Just trying to help here!! Good grief. If you can’t take some opposition, and want to hear only comforting reasurance on your certainties, go build yourselves your own kind of church.

    I’m not saying you have to like the monster, my dear extremy’os. I’m only saying that if you are smart, you will not be content with just insulting the monster in the face. Rather, you will move before IT does. Because you guys failed to acknowledge there was monster. And the monster moved first, and it was ahead of you, not because it was smarter. Out of pure will and affirmation. It gained precious ground.

    The dover trial was a great thing. And it was NOT based on insult. Scientists cared. We had cool guys like Padian there to show the fossils. We had the historical social proof of what the ID movement really was: Creationism, the questioning of nothing less than the fact of common descent. It was a beautiful victory. The ID has lost a huge amount of thunder, you can truly tell. THAT was action. Filing lawsuits. Not stupid insulting tactics.

    But beware!!! Evolution is a bit safer, but for how long? christians still want their revolution and they may still get yet another presidency, more power. Yeah and democrats can “christianize” themselves too.

  591. #595 Alexander Vargas
    July 14, 2006

    M Petersen, you obviously have a very specific religious belief.
    I would like to know: If I belonged to your religion and came to realize that evolution is a fact, would I be able to be outspoken about it in your specific religious community? Would I be able to talk to the elders or whatever to make my case and try to make the religion as a whole aware of this?

    Or would I be expelled, shunned by all including my very own family, cut off from all my friends within the religion and never spoken to again? Would I be declared apostate?

  592. #596 Alexander Vargas
    July 14, 2006

    Ooops ok Steve, I misread your post… you don’t hate me… yet!!!!!

  593. #597 PZ Myers
    July 14, 2006

    Mr Vargas, you are the one who has been doing a frantic desperate monkey dance here, expressing your personal affront. And yes, you definitely do seem to have taken everything personally.

    No, filing lawsuits is not the way to win. I think our side’s commitment to constantly fighting a defensive action, using the courts to brush back outbreaks of stupidity, is disastrous. It is not science, either. We can take comfort in our current string of victories, but the problem is that for this strategy to work, we have to win them all. The creationists only have to win one. What are you going to do if, for example, the Kansas state supreme court endorses teaching ID in the classroom, and our right-leaning Supreme Court denies an appeal? It could happen, you know.

    Filing lawsuits to enforce reason is simply idiotic. It’s the rearguard action of the losing side…and the creationists know it.

  594. #598 Steve_C
    July 14, 2006

    Nope. Just ignorance. There’s nothing extreme about me or my views.

    I think you just don’t understand the strategy of marginlization.

  595. #599 Steve_C
    July 14, 2006

    uhg. marginalization. And it works. Look at Rick Santorum. He needs a M Petersen miracle in order to win his election.

  596. #600 Squeaky
    July 14, 2006

    Yes Vargas–
    “Filing lawsuits to enforce reason is simply idiotic.”

    It is far more rational to just scream “you demented fuckwit!” instead.

  597. #601 Alexander Vargas
    July 14, 2006

    Filing lawsuit in a situation like that in Dover seems to be much more precise and effective than thetruky silly idea of the insulting lifestyle. And no, by no means have I said we must act defensively, on the contrary what I said is that we have to move first. We are being defensive because we sunderestimated and tolerated them too much. Notice I say we do not tolerate them, that we respect them; that is take action. Real action, not this insulting nonsense which only warns them and makes them even more pro-active

    They always take the first step. So that is a modus operandi they have worked, to their advantage. And what I am saying is that WE should move first.

    If you guys are hinging on Kansas, and then we lose, what can I say. It would be the most evident testimony to your failure. And you just would’nt be able to understand why, huh? All you could do is shake your fist at the skies and convince yourself, there was nothing you could have done, and it was never your fault. It was all those darn demented fuckwits, yeah.

  598. #602 George
    July 14, 2006

    Vargas, put down the beer. You aren’t making sense anymore.

    Let me help you: everything that happens is part of God’s design, so if the atheists lose, we win, and if the atheists win, we win. Keep it simple.

  599. #603 Alexander Vargas
    July 14, 2006

    Whats up with you Georgy? Come sit on Vargas’s knee and tell him what did he say that made you so so angry

  600. #604 PZ Myers
    July 14, 2006

    Do not be so condescending, Vargas. This is a long thread, and I notice that almost 10% of the comments here are from just you…while you’ve troubled yourself to make a grand total of 2 comments elsewhere on the site.

    We ought to be asking you what has made you so angry and obsessed.

  601. #605 George
    July 14, 2006

    One of the things that makes me angry, Alexander Vargas, is your original post from 3 days ago. In it, you said:

    It is despair that makes them give up on control of their lives and believe only the big G can save them.

    People have been giving up control of their lives for centuries, throwing themselves into the hands of God and committing the worst atrocities it is possible to conceive, from the St. Bartholemew’s Day Massacre to the Inquisition to the positively idiotic, senseless mayhem we see in the Middle East today.

    Giving up control is stupid, it is counter-productive, it turns people into pawns of the powerful, it is an excuse to say and do terrible, terrible things in the name of some made-up higher power. People who give up control don’t have to care about the destruction of the planet due to overpopulation and global warming.

    We get a precious gift at birth, a brain that can be used to explore the universe and make positive contributions to knowledge and to society. You have decided to waste yours researching a bunch of 2,000 year-old bunk. That makes me angry.

  602. #606 Squeaky
    July 14, 2006

    Sorry Vargas–My comment above was meant to be sarcastic–Reading it again, I’m not sure you could tell that. PZ says filing lawsuits is irrational. As if it is more irrational to do that than it is to fling insults. Maybe both are, but I still can’t support any rationality that says flinging insults is a way for educated, intelligent adults to express outrage about any situation.

  603. #607 George
    July 14, 2006

    Vargas, consider my beer comment retracted. That was unfair.

  604. #608 Alexander Vargas
    July 14, 2006

    I truly wonder what happens with george. Does he think I’m a theist? Or he could not deal with my criticism to the insulting silliness? I wonder. Not much hopes aon the answer though. Probably he will just continue to disapprove without adding any content. he may just be, you know, “marginalizing” hahaha
    And yes of course PZ. I AM angry. Insulting is, for good reason, a no-no to most people, they are brought up with it. You dont even aknowledge it is aprickly point you should back off from, reason has endowed you superiorly you are absolutley right and proud of being non human. What a load of crap, please.
    See you promote insulting, but your proposed limits are unclear. In other blogs I have been insulted right away for questioning the omnipotence of natural selection, something you understand is wrong (at least from the mouth outwards). Yeah, there are those who will insult you on the spot if you say pointing to the eye and saying “natural selection” is not good enough. What can I say if the creationists stumble mostly upon this kind of assholes to argue with? They don’t even know science, all they need is to have read a single dawkins book to walk around the world calling names to anyone who does not think like them.

    The point being, PZ, that tnayone can tell that there istoo much insulting going by suquareheaded, ignorant people who don’t even know crucial stuff, and all you do condescend and encourage it!! It’s justified!!!!

    I’ve seriously never seen someon so wrong, peeing against the wind and fundamnetally misled as you PZ onthis topic. It is so blatantly wrong, you really have to wonder: Why? It seems so cardborad, so fake in a scientist. Is it to get more popularity with the customers, a crowd of typical internet masters of insult ? Is this an internet guy kind of thing, to “epraise the insult as virtue ???
    How easy to see the screen is thicker than air, that you can write down what you would not never be able to say to someone in the face.
    Yeah, it’s all fake I guess.

  605. #609 Alexander Vargas
    July 14, 2006

    Squeaky, I could tell right away, don’t worry. I know you well enough, oh squeaky one!

  606. #610 Alexander Vargas
    July 14, 2006

    George, I just read your comment. I agree with you. I hate it that people wont even TRY taking control. But insulting them does not work.
    The thing is, WHY is there so much despair in the first place. Becasue not all times have been desperate like this. Bring back the greeks, the reanaissance, the sixties!!! What happened in THOSE times? What is the key, the secret to more enlightening and positive times, times with man confident in himself and with his eyes open to nature??

  607. #611 Squeaky
    July 14, 2006

    Hey–we’re only at 632. Why slow down now?

    Vargas–you make a lot of sense to me. I really don’t know why people don’t seem to understand what you are saying. Maybe it’s getting filtered through their biases or something.

    You are absolutely right, though–I believe Gould outlined the history of Creationism in Rocks of Ages, and said basically the same thing. Scientists didn’t take creationists seriously, and by the time they realized they were a force to be reckoned with, it was all out of control.

    Look, as far as the insulting thing…I don’t have kids, but I know when I was a kid, I was taught if you don’t have anything nice to say to someone, don’t say anything at all. And I would protest “but Mom! My mean brother called me such and such!” Never once did she say, “well, in that case, calling him that name was completely justified.” I’m sure most of you who are parents teach your own kids this same principal. You teach them that calling people names for any reason is not acceptable. You don’t qualify that statement for your children. Why do you qualify it for yourself? Sheesh, I don’t believe I have to resort to Robert Fulghum psychology to try to make this point!

    I’ve said this before, but children resort to name calling because they do not have the maturity and vocabulary to express their emotions (now I’m resorting to Dr. Phil psychology). Are you telling me you have not developed beyond that?

  608. #612 Squeaky
    July 14, 2006

    Well, Vargas–I wonder if we’re the last ones here…Perhaps 666 was just a pipe dream…

    I started visiting this site in January, and I quickly began to notice how very similar the rhetoric here is when compared to Answersingenesis or that Dr. Dino site of Hovind’s. I was a little surprised because rumor had it that atheists and agnostics are more…enlightened, and intelligent, and humanistic, and tolerant…huh…

    Some of the similarities I have found are that both sides are condescending to the other side, both sides resort to insults to get their point across, and both sides present an ultimatum to us poor schmucks who have our feet firmly planted in the middle ground: either you believe in God, or you believe in science.

    I noticed that PZ and others kept making the claim that, in essence, science disproves God.

    So, I suggested NOMA with the rationality that it makes so much more sense to promote the fact that the Bible has very little to say about science, and that, really, science doesn’t necessarily contradict the Bible, anyway (if people would read their Bibles, they might actually notice that). Both can live side by side in perfect harmony (I resorted to the “Can’t we all just get along?” psychology).

    And also, hey, doesn’t it make sense to stop saying things like “Science disproves God” when, first of all, religion is outside the realm of science (you can just as well say “science disproves love” and it makes about as much sense”), and second of all, and more importantly, all you are doing when you say stuff like that is perpetuating the very fears that motivate the Christian right. In essence, you are shooting yourself in the foot. You are making things worse. You are confirming the fears of your adversary, which only causes them to become further entrenched in their beliefs. Walls go up, and they will never listen when you say that.

    Wouldn’t the NOMA approach cut down on the fear and suspicion between the groups? Wouldn’t it make sense to recruit scientists who are Christians to the cause of educating people on this totally unecessary culture war?

    I was shot down. “We’ve tried that” I was told. “It didn’t work, so no more Mr. Nice Guy.” Forget that whole “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” psychology…

    Look, I don’t know what the best answer is here. I suspect education would be a pretty major step. But I do know that insults don’t get anyone very far, and if you think people who are in the middle ground on this debate will see things your way when you lob verbal grenades at the other side, think again.

  609. #613 Alexander Vargas
    July 14, 2006

    I am pissed as a scientist. If you are throwing the message, camouflaged or not, that science disproves god, you imply that science COULD prove god. So it actually feeds into the core logic of creationism, as I explained above.

  610. #614 Torbjörn Larsson
    July 14, 2006

    MP,
    “Is there not such a thing as causality, The Principle of Cause and Effect? Matter, time, energy don’t just *appear*. Are you trying to say that these things just existed infinitely before the universe began? Is this a serious scientific hypothesis considered by anyone here?”

    Causality is a large subject. The usual causality is tied up with spacetime. (The Lorentz invariance of relativity.) Spacetime certainly appears during a bigbang. It is unclear which physical principles works in such a singularity. Time and its ordering principle is a strong candidate.

    But yes, there are a couple of noncaused cosmologies. (The sane ones are, since they must.) One type is indeed infinite time variants of endless inflation multiverses. Another type is no-boundary cosmology multiverses. Such universas can literally pop out of nothing since they lack boundary, ie no first cause. (“What is south of the south pole?”) Yet another type is symmetrical-time cosmology multiverses, where there are endless inflation multiversas from a preuniverse that is situated in the middle and again uncaused, by the symmetry.

    All these contenders for observable cosmologies has at time or other been described over at the Cosmic Variance group blog by cosmologists and others. Inflation has been verified, and they hope that the coming Planck probe will restrict cosmologies better. (Some not mentioned above have been eliminated already.)

    Since there are no First Causator that science can use as a hypotheses many “serious scientific hypothesis considered” for cosmologies are noncaused in some manner.

  611. #615 Squeaky
    July 14, 2006

    Hey Torbhorn,
    How’s it going? Just wanted to say hi.

    Cheers

  612. #616 Carlie
    July 14, 2006

    “I started visiting this site in January, and I quickly began to notice how very similar the rhetoric here is when compared to Answersingenesis or that Dr. Dino site of Hovind’s. I was a little surprised because rumor had it that atheists and agnostics are more…enlightened, and intelligent, and humanistic, and tolerant…huh…”

    You have to also keep in mind that this is a godless science blog. I might feel obligated to smile and stay pleasant when my grandmother spouts off about Jesus to me, but I know that I can come here and complain about all the demented fuckwits and know other people will understand. Don’t forget the nature of this environment; people are often more strident than they are in meatworld, especially among their peers.

    And the “tolerance” you are referring to is that of people with valid, different opinions. There is no call, nor any good use, in tolerating sheer stupidity or self-delusion. I would not “tolerate” a friend who thinks it’s ok to play tag on the freeway at rush hour. I would not “tolerate” a student who keeps writing on tests that 2+2=5. Some things are just wrong, and should be called so.

  613. #617 Alexander Vargas
    July 14, 2006

    This is exactly my point. You DONT tolerate them. Tolerance is inaction. You must DO something. But don’t insult, that shows you have nothing to say. You can speak your mind and thats it. You dont need to get him to ackowledge anything. But something may linger in their mind whether they like it or not. Humans can’t ignore reason, even when they do their best to do so. And on the least they will realize that not everyone bys, and specially, that not anyone who does not buy it acts like a goddam asshole.
    I understand you let your anger out here, but not everyone that gets insulted here deserves it, really. M peterson did not deserve the load of insults. Even if MP can’t avoid being dismissive on such great things as science and the humanities (liking the bible so much).

  614. #618 Torbjörn Larsson
    July 14, 2006

    “What is nutty about Maitre is not that he may not be able refrain from insult now and then, but that he BELIEVES in insulting. Which is an extremist crackpot proposal devoid of any realism as far as human relationships go.”

    I see, That makes PZ and me nutcases and extremist crackpots. Maitre explained one problem with that view.

    “You are intrinsically wrong when you go into religious matters and say there is no god, because science nor reason will ever prove or disprove god. The whole “God” issue is none of science’s concern.”

    If science is successful as a world view explaining observations, and religion isn’t, it implicitly says that religions tools and ideas are inferior. Since those tools are in conflict (testing vs authority) it also implicitly says that religions tools and ideas should be dropped. That isn’t science fault or intention, it is religion that doesn’t measure up anymore.

    Science is an unconstrained tool to understand observations whose results are hard to describe a priori. But as such its increased knowledge on natural phenomena increasingly constrain the dualisms of religion. The unobservable soul is replaced by the observable mind, for example. I have said, and I will continue to say until proven wrong, that effects that eventual supernatural causes have on the causal, massenergy constrained universe is observable and describable. That may one day mean that we can verify a theory for or against nonnatural agents. Again, that isn’t the fault or intention of science, it is religion that doesn’t measure up anymore.

    “”So a successful science says that other world views have different and questionable tools and practices for no good reason.”

    Not at all. It just has to display its results. Man does not need to kill religion in order to become more interested in the natural world. Again, you ignore history. The renaissance did not question religion.”

    You are dismissing the incompatibilities and conflicts I describe. Modern science is young, the knowledge expanding exponentially, and the questions change over time.

    “Those are non though-out assertions. Science cannot say anything about the supernatural and does not want to say anything about the supernatural: or it ceases to be science.”

    I have discussed these ideas for quite some time now, here and elsewhere. See above on science and the supernatural for a short overview.

    “And why on earth did you include the word ORIGINS along with the ghosts? It seems to me you hide some aberrant self-argument.”

    Origins (first causes) are examples of a dualistic religious explanation (creationism), as much as the other dualisms.

    “Walking under the ladder is just not comparable with the rationalizations of religion on several moral subjects.”

    Many concepts of large religions started out as superstition. To name a few remaining as superstitions: miracles, prayer, transubstantiation, absolution, healing, demonology.

    “Not at all. If you know Dawkins you know what I said is true. With such unsincerity it is hard to keep a discussion.”

    That isn’t evidence. BTW, I haven’t read Dawkins at all. Why did you assume that?

    “What do you mean by “usual” evolution???. To Dawkins and to most that’s darwinism.”

    Are you a creationist, mentioning darwinism? Darwinism is the theory before neodarwinism AFAIK. Evolution today is natural selection, sexual selection, mutations, neutral drift, evodevo, coevolution, …. The problem that you relate with ortodox neodarwinism is that they seem to have assumed that natural selection was the essential mechanism. (A mistake Darwin didn’t make.)

    “”It is the default explanation. After it is proven invalid, another explanation is attempted. There is nothing special with default hypotheses in biology as opposed to other sciences.”

    No. In the example I gave seletion alone simply COULDN’t explin the mammalian middle ear. You need exapatation. So the “default” was in fact incomplete from the beginning. Its not like it was a perfectly good explanation but it just happened to be something else. Because it was an ideological use of selection.”

    You are in effect saying what I was saying. The difference is that you don’t understand the meaning of a default or null hypotheses.

    “”Please let me know what kind of evidence you think would make common descent and modification to be discarded.”
    -A rabbit fossil from the Cambrian.”

    How would this refute common descent in favor of some unknown process of sudden appearance of complex organisms? It would show a grave incoherence in the narration of the evolutionary , but science would not suddenly be concerned with the supernatural. Science would still be science.”

    You are moving the goal posts from discarding evolution to proving creationism. Where did that come from? Again, are you a creationist? You sure reason like one. But the fact is that disproving one theory doesn’t prove another. As you somehow *also* manage to say.

    “The old Cambrian rabbit chestnut is like saying that geometry would be refuted by a square circle.”

    We aren’t discussing math here, but observationable theories. The only way that common descent and modification can be discarded is an observation that invalidates it. (Assuming such a verified theory doesn’t have a large fault in it.) I mentioned one, new fossils that are inconsistent with the theory. wintermute mentioned a bunt of others.

    “Show an extraterrestrial the Cambrian fauna and slip a rabbit into it. Would he see evidence against common descent?”

    This part of your comment makes no sense. Obviously he observes that no similar creature existed in that strata – too many new structures. So no common descent. Similarly with wintermute’s examples.

    Again I note a complete misunderstanding of what science is. In principle observations shouldn’t depend on whether we do them or extraterrestrials. The fossil record is such an observation.

  615. #619 j
    July 14, 2006

    Some of the similarities I have found are that both sides are condescending to the other side, both sides resort to insults to get their point across, and both sides present an ultimatum to us poor schmucks who have our feet firmly planted in the middle ground: either you believe in God, or you believe in science.

    And sometimes both sides, as well as those in the middle, make generalizations that don’t fit everyone in any group. I would certainly hope that I have not been condescending, insulting, or threatening.

    I know biologists who are Christian. I know scientists who do good research while believing in God. I don’t know how they resolve their cognitive dissonance, but I’m not about to call them demented fuckwits.

  616. #620 Torbjörn Larsson
    July 14, 2006

    “Ok I’m leaving it here for you, but please follow up my next post….”

    “Not at all. It means the phyloegenetic tree was wrong, but it by no means implies evidence for any alternative of common descent (the supernatural phenomenon of creation, for instance).”

    Again you are moving goalposts and assuming disproof of a theory mean proof of another, as a pure creationist. I’m sure this argument and behaviour makes some sense for you. Unfortunately it doesn’t for others.

    Stop with “the phyloegenetic tree was wrong” and you see that you have agreed with what was to be demonstrated, a method of disproving common descent with modification.

  617. #621 Steve_C
    July 14, 2006

    I thought we were very tolerant of MP.

    No one asked him to be banned. But we did ridicule and criticize his beliefs, as they should be. But he isn’t even a fence sitter, so it is kind of pointless. He has found all he needs to know or wants to know. He wlll not become enlightened here. He’s here to prove his faith among the godless. Which is kind of pointless. Ask him a question and he quotes the bible. A book most of us see as fiction.

    You’re whole point seems to be one of politeness as if all the discourse is maintained at a nice cocktail party or in a college seminar course.

    Was MP insulted? I don’t think so.

  618. #622 PZ Myers
    July 14, 2006

    If you are throwing the message, camouflaged or not, that science disproves god, you imply that science COULD prove god.

    Anyone who thinks that I have claimed that science disproves gods when I have repeatedly and plainly stated otherwise is a dishonest and ignorant fool. Continue whining by all means, but you have amply demonstrated that you simply are not listening, and therefore can be ignored.

  619. #623 Alexander Vargas
    July 14, 2006

    Not at all. The particular structure of phylogenetic trees has been corrected several times, If you find out that hipopotamus was actually more related to pig than to elephant, it does not refute common descent. It does not mean a tree does not exist, only that this branch was actually closer to that other.
    And if you think common decent could be refuted, please give us the scientific explanation for the mechansism that brings full blown complex organism like humans into existence, since they would not have descended from other organisms, specifically primates.

  620. #624 Torbjörn Larsson
    July 14, 2006

    “ALL YA FAKE ECLECTIC EMPIRICISTS!!!! THIS is what you get when you don’t acknowledge that all alternatives to common descent are non scientific, like if evidence “could” refute common descent. You get people thinking they have FOUND such evidence and that it can be scientific to say that common descent is not true. Creationism is the consequence of the sloppy epistemology you yourselves have promoted.”

    Ah, I see! So since evolution is an ideology according to you, you are disappointed when it behaves as the science it is. So on one hand you are complaining since you (falsely) thinks it behaves as an ideology. But on the other you are complaining since it doesn’t behave as an ideology.

    This confusion makes about as much sense as the other arguments you do.

    That evolution is such a verified theory and we can’t see any realistic alternatives doesn’t mean that we don’t know how it could still be falsified. This is a property it shares with other wellestablished theories like QM and relativity. It is actually an interesting discussion. Similar difficulties have been discussed on physics blogs, but I haven’t kept those references.

  621. #625 Alexander Vargas
    July 15, 2006

    PZ, everyone knows you think ALL religion is irrational and basically silly. Its one of your great sources of popularity. You sneer at evolution supporting religious people and treat them like idiots. You don’t need to spell it out. You may even mouth the words to the contrary. But you can’t hide what you really think.
    Dawkins is also fake, it takes a TV producer the balls to write down the title that really reflects what his documentary wants to say.
    I’d say you have pretty much ignored me all the time PZ. And you will continue to ignore me, and live “the life” you know, the godless liberal warrior. No extremes, no fun.

  622. #626 Torbjörn Larsson
    July 15, 2006

    “So what you’re saying is that the universe didn’t actually come into existence a few billion years ago, it was much longer. I guess it was a very dull boring universe before then, and all of the sudden it decided to explode. So it had infinity to distribute matter evenly before it went boom.”

    Matterenergy wouldn’t exist in a preuniverse. But anyway, such a universe wouldn’t work.

    Let us look at one working proposal instead: endless inflation multiversas. The model is that new universas wormholes away (as small wormholes) from old ones with a small probability. After wormholing, inflation blows them up exactly as we know it did for our universe. So there is action all the time.

  623. #627 Alexander Vargas
    July 15, 2006

    That I don’t support naïve empiricism does not mean evolution is ideology, good grief. Denying common descent is unscientific, period. It leaves no scientific alternatives.

    If you’re such an empiricial chap you should ponder the question: What is evidence? Do please let me know when you’ve figured out what would be, indeed, evidence to deny common descent, continental drift, or such well established facts.

    At least, you have ackoweldged the subject is not simple. We´re not just sitting there absorbing the facts, ya know. Experience does not baby-feed scientifci theories into the brain with a spoon. We have to be creative and inspired to understand. You may want to read some discussion about this we had in the in the thread “a quick reply…”

  624. #628 PZ Myers
    July 15, 2006

    I know biologists who are Christian. I know scientists who do good research while believing in God. I don’t know how they resolve their cognitive dissonance, but I’m not about to call them demented fuckwits.

    I know religious scientists, too, and agree that many of them are very good scientists. “God” does not come into play in any way in their research, however, and I can’t imagine how it would.

    I am not suggesting that you call them demented fuckwits. Read the post. Here are some examples that might help.

    Ken Miller: NOT a demented fuckwit.
    Pat Robertson: Demented fuckwit.
    Simon Conway Morris: NOT a demented fuckwit.
    Carl Baugh: Demented fuckwit.
    My mom: NOT a demented fuckwit.

    We have people running around who think the end is nigh and want to hasten it with all kinds of flaky magical behaviors. THEY are demented fuckwits. We are not helping to end their too-great influence by pretending that they’re just nice people with some odd but interesting ideas. They are dangerous loons who have acquired an astonishing amount of power…and we’ve got a lot of people here who want to close their eyes to their extremism and be nice to them.

  625. #629 George
    July 15, 2006

    Alexander Vargas, just curious – do you also post on religious blogs, telling people to be less nasty to one another?

  626. #630 Torbjörn Larsson
    July 15, 2006

    Squeky,
    Hi! Unfortunately I read the thread a bit at a time today.

  627. #631 Torbjörn Larsson
    July 15, 2006

    Alexander,
    I have now read enough later post to see that you say [those] creationists. So you can forget my confused questions about that specifically above.

  628. #632 Alexander Vargas
    July 15, 2006

    Larsson, we are talking about common descent. Its a very, very basic fact. If we cannot bring in any alternative without invoking the fantastic, without implying irrational things, does this mean evolution is ideology? Of course not. Evolutionary mechanisms, phylogenetic trees, fossils are being resolved in increasing detail and data continues to accumulate. And we continue to move forward. We find new certainties, facts that under the new data could only be questioned if you suspend reason. But of course it is not all about accumulating data, but tying it together. Great ideas, like the mathematization of phylogenic analysis by Willi Hennig, have helped enormously.

    People don’t waste time figuring what evidence could refute continental drif. Its just silly, you would need extremely weird things to explain data without it. People continue to reconstruct the details of paleobiogeography and tectonics. Same thing with evolution. Ee don’t waste time like if it were a knowledge on the brink of disproof, you know. But if you are ignorant enough about data and theory, you may delude yourself into thinking that is the situation.

  629. #633 Alexander Vargas
    July 15, 2006

    I wouldn’t say Simon Conway Morris is a DF but he sure has not been able to avoid a bad mixture of religion and science going on that pisses me off much like Dawkins own associations between evolution and atheism.
    You know what george maybe I should, but I would miss the flavor of science in the air

  630. #634 Alexander Vargas
    July 15, 2006

    If I had an opportunity to talk to Pat Robertson, I would not be satisfied with shouting to him “demented fuckwit”. I would certainly not try to convert him either. I’think I’d try to see what story does he turn out about how he deals with all that money, or get him to make some wacky predictions or interpretations, play him into saying some really cuckoo things. Should be fun, and informative.
    And if it were in public I would ask hima a well-thought out question. No DF’s for me.

  631. #635 Torbjörn Larsson
    July 15, 2006

    “That I don’t support naïve empiricism does not mean evolution is ideology, good grief.”

    So are we discussing philosophy instead of science now? I’m sorry, my expertice is in science. I don’t know what naive empiricism is. I do know how to do science and make theories, but not in biology.

    Null hypotheses in biology are as null hypotheses in other sciences. You call that ideology, without reason.

    “Denying common descent is unscientific, period. It leaves no scientific alternatives.”

    No one is denying a verified theory. You wanted to know what observations that could possibly falsify evolution, early on or now. (The difficulty here is what is easily accepted as a falsifying observation for a new theory isn’t so for a welltested one, and there are fewer predictions left to be tested. Thus the discussion.)

    “If you’re such an empiricial chap you should ponder the question: What is evidence? Do please let me know when you’ve figured out what would be, indeed, evidence to deny common descent, continental drift, or such well established facts.”

    This has been rehashed over and over on blogs such as these. You are demanding much for nothing, and throw in philosophy, which is never here nor there when discussing theory. The fact that you don’t see a problem with a fossil rabbit in the Cambrium doesn’t mean that biologists doesn’t. It is suggested at talkorigins.

    “At least, you have ackoweldged the subject is not simple.”

    I never say so. Science is hard to describe and its result even more so. Which is why I don’t see much use of philosophy here. What is evidence at specific places in specific theories are one such contingent question. But specific questions in science are easier. The status of a null hypotheses, or what falsifies evolution, are among those.

  632. #636 Torbjörn Larsson
    July 15, 2006

    “People don’t waste time figuring what evidence could refute continental drif. Its just silly, you would need extremely weird things to explain data without it. People continue to reconstruct the details of paleobiogeography and tectonics. Same thing with evolution. Ee don’t waste time like if it were a knowledge on the brink of disproof, you know. But if you are ignorant enough about data and theory, you may delude yourself into thinking that is the situation.”

    You are conflating the question about what could invalidate a theory when, what could invalidate it now, how established it is, and especially what theory could possibly replace it. Of course no other theory can explain the old or even worse the new hypothesed data.

    Yes, no one waste time on these hypothetical questions, except creationists and philosophers that makes special pleadings to try to problematise a theory as you did. My mistake for trying.

  633. #637 Alexander Vargas
    July 15, 2006

    So you look down your nose on Philosophy. Pure fluff, nothing to do with science. You don’t need that, the scientific method delivers truth to you on a silver plater. You are rational, objective. All you need is the data. Hahaha. Yet your view in itself a philosophicval assertion, an epistemological posture. A greatly eroded one. Man has found himself many a time in a swarm of data without knowing what to make out of it.

    It’s because you are dismissive of philosophy and therefore mediocre at it, that you think simplistically of science and have not known how to handle the creationist problem, but actually fueled it.

    There is obviously a great problem with a rabbit in the cambrian. I would not know what to make of it anymore than a pepsi can in the mesozoic or square circle. It certainly does not refute common descent in any straight forward, mechanistic way. I think you did not read all posts where I discussed how easy it is to porpose things that we know would be absurd.

    Anyway, read my following post about continental drift and other facts which we don’t spend a second questioninig. It becomes silly and unscientific.

    When one of you guys says “just show me the evidence and I’ll discard common descent” It’s juts l