Pharyngula

Thank God for Evolution!

Why me, O Lord, why me?

One of the more recent books sent to me is Thank God for Evolution!: How the Marriage of Science and Religion Will Transform Your Life and Our World(amzn/b&n/abe/pwll) by Michael Dowd. I have read it, and I’m feeling biblical.

My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?
Psalm 22:1

I am so not the right person to review this book—it’s like asking Satan to review The Secret. The two aren’t even on the same wavelength, and the discombobulated reviewer is going to sit there wondering whether this thing serves his ends or not, but mainly he’s going to be confused and find it incomprehensible. Michael Dowd is an evangelical pentacostal preacher and he loves evolution. His purpose in writing this book is to convince his fellow Christians that they can serve Jesus by rejoicing in the wonders of biology. The whole idea makes my head hurt.

I can’t just trash the whole thing, though. There are some commendable aspects that I have to acknowledge, even while thinking the whole premise is wrong.

First of all, Dowd is just so danged happy about evolution. This is tent revival biology: not so much concern about the facts and details, but a lot of whoopin’ and stompin’ and hallelujahs and yee-haws, all for the idea of billions of years of the Creation. It’s charming, at first, but also a little wearing, and it’s not something to encourage questioning.

For another, Dowd is definitely sincere. There’s another book with a similar intent, E.O. Wilson’s The Creation: An Appeal to Save Life on Earth(amzn/b&n/abe/pwll), which is written to persuade evangelical Christians that biodiversity is compatible with religion and that good people of faith must work together to preserve our world. While I’m entirely in agreement with Wilson’s hope, what put me off that book is that it’s written by an unbeliever respectfully telling a believer what they should do, and I couldn’t help but wonder if his target audience would find the book a bit phony and condescending. Thank God for Evolution, however, is written by a fervent believer to other believers (again, I am not the target audience), and I think has to ring more truly in the minds of those believers. Where Wilson tried to appeal to the reason of the faithful in the cadences of his Southern Baptist upbringing, Dowd is making an appeal to the emotions of the more modern evangelical movement. He’s preaching a kind of evolutionary spirituality.

It’s an approach that I don’t particularly care for, and that I think subverts the science. The message is too often that we shouldn’t accept the conclusions drawn from evidence because they are verifiable, testable, objective pieces of reality, but because they will make you feel better, because they will justify your life, and because they glorify God. It’s all backwards; God and Christianity are assumed and unquestioned, and what the reader is asked to do is find the right rationalization to reconcile evolution with Jesus. This might be the right approach to take with people who will never, ever question the righteousness of the Lord, but to us post-theistic folks, it’s a little silly. Especially when it’s drawn out over 390 pages in an unrelentingly enthusiastic book.

At the same time that Dowd is appealing to his fellow believers, though, it’s also clear that he is the product of the frantic explosion of American Christian sects, where so many profess the unity of belief in the divinity of Jesus but have little else in common. There is a commonality of methods and ritual and rationale—at least to me, who can scarcely tell a Baptist from a Sunni Muslem—but at the same time, each individual seems to be an idiosyncratic splinter with amorphous jell-o for a creed. For example…

Occasionally, someone who has heard me speak asks in frustration, “What are you, anyway? A theist? Atheist? Pantheist? I can’t tell what you are!” My standard response goes something like this: “I’m all of those—and none of them. Actually my wife [the science writer Connie Barlow] and I had to coin our own term. I’m a creatheist (cree-uh-THEIST) and my wife, well, she’s a creatheist (cree-ATHEIST). We spell it the same way. We mean the same thing. We just pronounce it differently.” This response almost always evokes smiles or laughter.

Here is why this new word can bridge the theist-atheist divide: One need not believe in anything in order to be a creatheist. It’s not a belief system. It is based on what we know, not what we believe. I call creatheism a “meta-religious scientific worldview” and posit the following three points as a core to its understanding.

  1. The Whole is creative in a nested, emergent sense.
  2. Humanity is now an integral and increasingly conscious part of this process.
  3. There are many legitimate ways to interpret and speak about Ultimate Reality.

Sorry to say, that does not bridge this atheist’s separation from theistic belief—it’s glib and superficial, and the three points are awfully New Agey and fuzzy. You won’t be catching me calling myself a creatheist, however it’s pronounced.

Actually, the way Dowd attempts to unite the various splinters of belief is by this process of redefinition. God is just our experiential Reality, not necessarily an intelligent anthropoid magic maguffin … although it’s OK if you feel like personifying him, too. But whatever this god-thing is, it is the reason for reveling in your joy at evolution.

The book is a fascinating read in some ways, as a glimpse of a deeply alien culture. I just can’t get much of it, myself. For instance, this is the first pro-evolution book I’ve ever read that advocates speaking in tongues.

Speaking in tongues has been a significant part of my spiritual practice for half my life. Speaking in tongues has its detractors, but there are sound evolutionary reasons for its effectiveness. The following practice will REALize the act of speaking in tongues, because it doesn’t require you to believe in anything. It’s an experience available to anyone who tries it.

How I speak in tongues is simple. I pretend I can speak a foreign language; vocalizing nonsensical sounds in a gentle, melodic, or rhythmic way. I encourage you to try it, right now. Do it in whatever way comes naturally, for a few minutes or longer, until it becomes effortless. Now speak in tongues again, this time inaudibly, though perhaps still moving your lips. Then continue this “speech” without moving your lips; have it happen just internally. Whichever form suits you best, you should notice immediately that your awareness expands. You are more aware of what you see and hear and feel—without trying.

Speaking in tongues is immersion in the holiness of this moment, this time and place. I often do it intentionally, to quiet my mind while driving, for example.

I’m afraid I didn’t try the technique myself — I didn’t see the virtue in it. Anyone out there who wants to, though, report back and tell us how well it worked. I did use my imagination to conjure up an amusing picture of a speaker at a biology conference with his eyes rolled back and chanting nonsense syllables in front of his powerpoint slides (which, in some cases isn’t that much of a stretch of the imagination), and also wondered with some horror about how many of the drivers on the road are cruising down the interstate at 70mph blissed out on “ba na shu ra mo bal ka…”.

Bottom line: this is not a book for me, and it’s probably not a book for most of the readers here. It’s irritating, and it takes for granted a whole set of incredible premises that I find objectionable. It’s approach is glib and superficial on the biology side.

On the other hand, if you’ve got a devout Aunt Tillie who is not going to ever question her faith and is going to cut you out of her will because your acceptance of scientific fact means you’re going to hell, go ahead, send her a copy. It translates biology entirely into the terms of an evangelical faith-head, and might reconcile her to your ideas. I can also imagine this book finding an audience with the Oprah crowd — there’s nothing here to contradict evangelical Christianity, and instead it twists evolution (aargh, it burns) to match the expectations of the religious. That’s why I’m going to reject it altogether, but it might just appeal to those who dread getting their science straight.

Comments

  1. #1 lytefoot
    July 17, 2007

    I am so not the right person to review this book–it’s like asking Satan to review The Secret. The two aren’t even on the same wavelength, and the discombobulated reviewer is going to sit there wondering whether this thing serves his ends or not, but mainly he’s going to be confused and find it incomprehensible.

    I’m not sure what I love more about this image… whether it’s the idea of the devil scowling in consternation at a self-help book, or PZ with horns and goat legs (isn’t that a little too chordate? I would’ve expected a Cthulhu reference).

  2. #2 Hank Fox
    July 17, 2007

    I hear Paris Hilton is considering religion as a way to polish her tarnished image. She appeared with a number of her female friends recently at a Southern Baptist gathering and, in a slight misunderstanding of the concept, the lot of them doffed their outer clothing and began speaking in thongs.

  3. #3 daenku32
    July 17, 2007

    When began to explain how to speak in tongues, I was reminded of some chain email that said you cannot lick your elbow…Point here being I was at least slightly tempted to try it anyways on both occasions.

  4. #4 Shawn Wilkinson
    July 17, 2007

    So I tried that whole speaking in tongues bit described above. My “awareness” increased, alright…my self-awareness. People in the hallway began looking strangely at me. Creepy.

    But that whole experience, I think, fortified my original hypotheses concerning speaking in tongues: it’s fraudulent. No ghosty is compelling me to speak things; just my imagination.

    Now that I know the truth, it must be spread ala the Gospel, by sword and sweat.

  5. #5 No1Uno
    July 17, 2007

    There’s a difference between southern baptists and sunni muslims?

  6. #6 Tom at Thoughtsic.com
    July 17, 2007

    First Earth’s roundness, then germ theory, and now evolution. The objective of reality is doomed to hit to them eventually… right…?

  7. #7 PZ Myers
    July 17, 2007

    They say there is. I don’t think I believe them.

  8. #8 David
    July 17, 2007

    –They say there is. I don’t think I believe them.–

    That’s nice that you have opinions. For a guy who is supposed to be standing up for “truth” I would think you would go a little farther to find the “truth” of the matter.

  9. #9 Steve_C
    July 17, 2007

    Yeah. I don’t see what the difference is. They’re both fundamentalist sect who think their way is the only way.

    That TRUE enough for you David?

  10. #10 Tim Tesar
    July 17, 2007

    Mr. Dowd has appeared twice in my city in the last two years, most recently at the Unitarian Church. While I participate in some activities at that church (NOT including the Sunday Service, which is usually boring and filled with mushy spirituality), I decided I probably would not be able to stomach him. A friend of mine bought the video, though, so I’ll have a look at at that, with barf bag close at hand. I’m glad Mr Dowd appeared at the Church (my friend said there were about 50 people in attendance). However, I wish the nature of the church were such that they would have invited a biology professor from the local college instead.

  11. #11 Kaleberg
    July 17, 2007

    This reconciliation of evolution and religion is not as weird as you might think. At least one example I found was Darwinian, but it was Erasmus, not Charles who said:

    “The world itself might have been generated, rather than created; that is, it might have been gradually produced from very small beginnings, increasing by the activity of its inherent principles, rather than by a sudden evolution of the whole by the Almighty fiat. What a magnificent idea of the infinite power of THE GREAT ARCHITECT! THE CAUSE OF CAUSES! PARENT OF PARENTS! ENS ENTIUM! For if we may compare infinities, it would seem to require a greater infinity of power to cause the causes of effects, than to cause the effects themselves.”

    E. Darwin, Zoonomia; The Laws of Organic Life (J. Johnson, London 1794), vol. 1, p. 509

  12. #12 Christian Burnham
    July 17, 2007

    daenku32:

    I was reminded of some chain email that said you cannot lick your elbow…Point here being I was at least slightly tempted to try it anyways on both occasions.

    I just tried. Licking my elbow that is. It’s physiologically impossible for me unless I detach my arms out of their sockets. Is it immoral for those who can do it?

  13. #13 Tim Tesar
    July 17, 2007

    Dowd’s Web site is The Great Story. It includes recordings of his presentations.

  14. #14 Sastra
    July 17, 2007

    I once gave a short talk on Intelligent Design to a fellowship of Unitarian Universalists, which contains a liberal hodge-podge of beliefs running from humanism to neopagan to liberal Christian to “spiritual but not religious.” Afterwards, we sat in a large circle for a discussion, and I was surprised that many of the people who scorned Creationism as unscientific loved evolution because they think it speaks of a spiritual progression to higher levels of consciousness, ala Teilhard de Chardin. That is scientific, of course.

    I felt that they weren’t really accepting the theory because of the evidence, but because they could make it fit in well with their spiritual beliefs and their political liberalism. Backwards, as you say. That’s why I adopt the stance of secular humanism: method, method, method, and let the results come out where they do.

  15. #15 mikmik
    July 17, 2007

    Good, I can hardly wait to read the part about how after the flood, Noah got all the life forms back to their respective continents and secluded islands, fresh water lakes and rivers, etc.

  16. #16 Blake Stacey, OM
    July 17, 2007

    I could never be a creatheist — there’s no evidence that Creathe exists! And really, aren’t we all more than a little tired of the endless bickering (and, in the past, outright warfare) between the people who believe in Cre-ath and those who worship Creath-ee?

  17. #17 Berlzebub
    July 17, 2007

    How I speak in tongues is simple. I pretend I can speak a foreign language; vocalizing nonsensical sounds in a gentle, melodic, or rhythmic way. I encourage you to try it, right now. [Emphasis mine]

    1) I’ve actually heard people “speaking in tongues”, and it is in no way gentle, melodic or rhythmic. It reminds me more of an Arabic battle cry mixed with convulsions.

    2) As a former Pentecostal, I can say he may bring a few to accept evolution as a possibility, since he’s a “preacher”. However, a good number of them, especially in my extended family, will consider him fire and brimstone bound for not accepting the Bible as literal.

    I haven’t asked, because he hasn’t spoken to me in some time, but I’m pretty sure my uncle has basically disowned me for marrying a Roman Catholic. So, Mr. Dowd may win over a few of the fence sitters, but the more fervent members will automatically stop listening to him because of his beliefs.

  18. #18 Eamon Knight
    July 17, 2007

    …it’s glib and superficial, and the three points are awfully New Agey and fuzzy.

    That’s why many fundamentalists don’t like Pentecostalism: they tend to give ecstasy priority over orthodoxy.
    (Just a little info from someone to whom the culture is not alien).

  19. #19 CalGeorge
    July 17, 2007

    Does this mean that I am a product of evolution AND Jesus rose from the dead to sitteth at the right hand of God?

    Is this what Michael wants me to believe?

    Not going to happen!

  20. #20 David
    July 17, 2007

    –Yeah. I don’t see what the difference is. They’re both fundamentalist sect who think their way is the only way.

    That TRUE enough for you David?–

    Ah yes. Because two things are alike, they of course must be the same. Here we see the wonderful reasoning powers of the atheist in action.

  21. #21 Steve_C
    July 17, 2007

    They are alike in the most fundamental way.

    But go right ahead thinking your sect is extra special and super different.

  22. #22 katie
    July 17, 2007

    This kind of stuff really scares me. Trying to mix science with religion to make it more palatable to certain groups seems like it will eventually backfire.

    It’s like how certain conservation groups try to work with village holy men to preserve endangered species. Yes, you’re translating conservation biology into a language the people understand. But you’re also promoting a rather parochial worldview that says you have to listen to authority instead of critically examining what you’re hearing.

    I’ve had ecology profs try to convince me that the only chance conservationists have is to convince religious groups that god wants them to protect creation. It certainly would be easier than working against cranks on the evidence. But I’m not sure it’s morally right: it certainly goes against my beliefs.

    I think evolution is the same way. The whole point of the thing is that it’s the result of incredible amounts of painstaking evidence-gathering, not some sort of evangelical bolt of light.

  23. #23 kmarissa
    July 17, 2007

    1) I’ve actually heard people “speaking in tongues”, and it is in no way gentle, melodic or rhythmic. It reminds me more of an Arabic battle cry mixed with convulsions.

    As I recall, the sound was rather reminiscent of a turkey’s gobble. But maybe that’s just a variation of accent.

    More concerning to me is that the people I have observed speaking in tongues have always then been “overcome” by the holy spirit and passed out on the church floor for at least an hour. Always made me nervous to think that the woman unconscious on the floor was going to be my ride home later. But, WHILE driving…Anyone know Dowd’s plate number, car make and color, anything like that, just so as I can keep an eye out?

    Side note question: isn’t the biblical purpose of speaking in tongues to surmount the language barrier in order to spread the good news, or some such? If so, I’d love to see two tongue-speakers pop-quizzed on their ability to understand one another.

  24. #24 David
    July 17, 2007


    They are alike in the most fundamental way.

    But go right ahead thinking your sect is extra special and super different.

    Now we’ve gone from “no difference”, to “they are alike in the most fundamental way”. Do we have evidence that this is the “most fundamental way” in which two religions can be a like? No. Certainly it is the easiest commonality to find between them. It requires very little knowledge of either of the two religions. In fact, it basically requires no knowledge beyond the facts that they are religions. Which of course makes it an ideal statement for those who do not want to do any actual reading/studying on religion or theology but merely want to sound like they do.

    I find it amusing when atheists end up sounding like the worst fundamentalist Christians.

  25. #25 kmarissa
    July 17, 2007

    Re: #24

    Blake’s Law?

  26. #26 writerdd
    July 17, 2007

    You don’t need to pretend you can speak a foreign language to speak in tongues. That’s the weirdest description of the experience that I have ever heard. It does expand your consciousness in some strange way, akin to other forms of meditation, or perhaps even akin to drug use, I suppose. It is an especially consciousness-changing experience when combined with fasting. I have been an atheist for over 10 years now, but I can still speak in tongues at will, and it still feels the same as it did when I thought it was a supernatural experience. Now I am quite certain it is created by my unconscious mind, although I’m not sure how exactly (I’m not sure how I can speak in English, German, or Lithuanian either.) I have no idea what speaking in tongues has to do with evolution.

    The book is not scary to me at all however, and it is part of a long history of books about using science as a way to explore and experience God, the Bible being God’s written message and nature being God’s created message to humanity.

  27. #27 RamblinDude
    July 17, 2007

    I remember seeing people speak in tongues and then fall back in a swoon, when I was a kid. Scared the hell out of me…still does!

  28. #28 Berlzebub
    July 17, 2007

    Side note question: isn’t the biblical purpose of speaking in tongues to surmount the language barrier in order to spread the good news, or some such? If so, I’d love to see two tongue-speakers pop-quizzed on their ability to understand one another.

    I’ve never heard that, kmarissa, but it wouldn’t surprise me.

    Fortunately, I lived within walking distance of the church. So, I never had to worry about a drive home. My grandmother actually lived right behind it, and I didn’t have to worry about inclement weather, either.

    I never saw anyone pass out, but they were physically exhausted afterwards. Considering their health and physique, it wasn’t surprising though.

    By the way, has anyone ever published a book on the “tongues” translations? If someone took the time to make a Klingon to English, surely they would have done that. Especially since speaking in tongues is much older.

    @David
    Wow, less than twenty-five comments and you’ve already resorted to Blake’s Law? I’m disappointed.

    The common link between all religions is believing the unprovable. Whether for reasons of “spiritual” comfort, credulity, or even superiority, that is the common link. So, which reason do you believe, David? Judging by your seeming smugness, I’m putting my money on the last one.

  29. #29 Rey Fox
    July 17, 2007

    I yawn in David’s general direction.

  30. #30 RamblinDude
    July 17, 2007

    The common link between all religions is believing the unprovable.

    And a specific unprovable, no less–an invisible supernatural, all-powerful God.

  31. #31 Sastra
    July 17, 2007

    David, I think you’re reading too much into what was intended by PZ (and Steve_C) to be a casual, flippant remark. Fact is, from the point of view of an outsider, differences which seem critical from the inside become relatively unimportant. This doesn’t just hold for religion, it’s true for pretty much anything. An American watching a BBC show might not be able to tell if a character is supposed to be Welsh, Irish, Cornish, Scottish — and a Brit might not discern the difference between a Southern accent and a Midwestern twang. I don’t pay any attention to sports. If someone corrected me and said “The Cardinals are a baseball team, not football” I might jokingly say “same thing.” Yes, I know the difference. But if you’re not an insider, it’s fiddling around.

    Sunnis and Shiites will kill each other over doctrinal differences which a Southern Baptist can’t even describe. From the point of view of atheists, the sunni/southern baptist distinctions are likewise academic. Some of them are important, from a practical viewpoint, of course. Some sects are more benign and conducive to secular harmony than others. But the actual supernatural beliefs themselves? Whatever. Same stuff, different shovel.

  32. #32 sailor
    July 17, 2007

    From a reality perspective based only on the bit you presented, he may not be too bad:
    “God is just our experiential Reality, not necessarily an intelligent anthropoid magic maguffin”
    In other words maybe he exist entirely in your head. I see that as being reality based.

    “Now speak in tongues again, this time inaudibly, though perhaps still moving your lips. Then continue this “speech” without moving your lips; have it happen just internally. Whichever form suits you best, you should notice immediately that your awareness expands. You are more aware of what you see and hear and feel–without trying.”

    I am not going to try it but I can accept it might work. What might happen here is babbling may cause the babbler to swich off his internal dialogue (it is pobably hard to have a coherent thought and babble at the same time) thus allowing him a little more consiousness for present moment.

  33. #33 No1Uno
    July 17, 2007

    See, Davy, it was originally a bit of a joke, with a kernal of truth thrown in oh so subtly. Do sunnis and baptists share each and every one of their silly beliefs? OF COURSE there are petty differences, but at the end of the day it is their similarities that give a rational person pause: superstition, hatred for those who don’t believe their particular self-contradictory book isn’t inerrant, ignorance of reality, and strangely skewed moral values.

  34. #34 factlike
    July 17, 2007

    David,

    I understand your frustration. Just last week my friend and I were out and about, and we stopped to pick up some bottled water. My friend picked up some Aquafina, and I gasped in horror. “What are you doing?” I cried. “You shouldn’t drink that!” My friend asked why not, and I replied, “You should only drink Fiji water. Fiji water is very very different from Aquafina water. It has a pink label, and it’s bottle is square-ish instead of round-ish. Also, it comes from a real spring in Fiji, unlike Aquafina, which is purified tap water.”

    My friend was not to be swayed, however. She claimed that the two bottles were alike in the most fundamental way, being as how they were both plastic bottles full of water. Her statement is true, but only if you have very little knowledge of either of the two waters. In fact, it basically requires no knowledge beyond the facts that they are waters.

    I find it amusing when Aquafinists end up sounding like the worst fundamentalist Pepsi drinkers.

    Coke be with you,
    Factlike

  35. #35 Steve_C
    July 17, 2007

    Hehe. David. We’ve heard it all before.

    Your mythology isn’t special. I know you want to be considered different than Sunni’s, but why should you be? Because your version of the fiction has different characters and different mirarcles?

    All fundamentalist religions are the same.

  36. #36 RamblinDude
    July 17, 2007

    Speaking in tongues:

    It does expand your consciousness in some strange way, akin to other forms of meditation, or perhaps even akin to drug use, I suppose. It is an especially consciousness-changing experience when combined with fasting.

    I find myself not being as dismissive on this one. There are many things that can alter your consciousness-shut of your internal dialogue-exercise new neuronal pathways, etc.

    I’m not wise enough to say that any of them are invalid.

  37. #37 nate
    July 17, 2007

    Don’t argue with David. He is a moron. For David, what Prof. Myers obviously meant was that the two are exactly the same in every detail, and since Muslim’s believe that Muhammed was the most important prophet and therefore superbly and uniquely awesome, and Christians believe Jesus was the son of God and therefore superbly and uniquely awesome, they are not exactly the same. Prof. Myers was therefore “lying” or, because of his ignorance of this most important of details, overgeneralizing.

    Of course, educated, non-mendacious people recognize that implicit in Prof. Myers’s statement was that there is no relevant, or material, difference between the two.

    David is (sadly and most likely) incapable of understanding this distinction.

  38. #38 tony
    July 17, 2007

    RE: Speaking in tongues….

    I don’t know about speaking … but does anyone listen in tongues?

    anyone?
    :
    anyone?
    :
    ?

  39. #39 RamblinDude
    July 17, 2007

    If it’s all subjectively translated, would they know if they were?

  40. #40 Billy
    July 17, 2007

    Dowd is not an “evangelical pentecostal preacher.” He is a former pastor, yes, but was a pastor in the United Church of Christ. Having grown up in an evangelical denomination (Wesleyan), I can tell you that the UCC’s liberal, tree-hugging, Bible-snipping, inclusive tendencies are occasionally used as evidence for the influence of Satan.

    In this blog it may be a difference that makes no difference, but to evangelicals (in my experience, anyway) it’s the difference between Heaven and Hell.

    I can’t imagine that Dowd’s work would appeal to evangelicals; and if you check out his itinerary you’ll see that Dowd mostly welcome at Unitarian-Universalist and Unity venues. (For those who’ve been blessed with not having to know or care, UUs and Unity are not evangelical, pentecostal, or fundamentalist in any meaningful sense.)

  41. #41 Stacey C.
    July 17, 2007

    Billy has a bit of a point. I know someone who is at Harvard Divinity and is going to be a UCC pastor…and he basically says that they believe in God but they know that they might be wrong. They’re the sect that believes in Doubt. He’s related several anecdotes about meeting evangelicals who are reduced to sputtering when he tells them that the UCC embraces the idea that there might not be Truth in religion. I prefer my reality ‘straight up’ shall we say, but if I had to for some reason choose a religion to be a part of the UCC’s would probably be my bet. They are *definitely* as liberal and hippy and earthy-crunchy and inclusive as UU people if not more so in some cases.

  42. #42 Brownian
    July 17, 2007

    I’m skeptical of the whole idea that speaking in tongues expands one’s conciousness. If that were the case, we would expect those from religions that practice it on a regular basis to be generally less close-minded and idiotic than the general population.

    The pentacostals I’ve met sure as hell didn’t give me the impression that they were any more conscious than anyone else. If anything, they seemed a lot less so.

    And by the way PZ, Satan did review The Secret.

  43. #43 riddlerhet
    July 17, 2007

    “post-theist.”

    I’m going to use that one, if you don’t mind.

  44. #44 David
    July 17, 2007

    –Don’t argue with David. He is a moron.–

    Cutting response there. I mean, you’ve obviously done a fair bit of scientific research into this so its not like your just preaching here or anything. Of course not.

    Someone is a moron here, but its not me.

    –For David, what Prof. Myers obviously meant was that the two are exactly the same in every detail,–

    “No difference” does seem to imply that. But maybe in the atheist’s dictionary it means a little different.

    –they are not exactly the same.–

    While true, its a bit of an understatement.

    –Prof. Myers was therefore “lying” or, because of his ignorance of this most important of details, overgeneralizing.–

    PZ certainly strikes me as being rather ignorant of religion. Whether or not he is ignorant of this particular fact or that, I’m not too terribly concerned.

    –Of course, educated, non-mendacious people recognize that implicit in Prof. Myers’s statement was that there is no relevant, or material, difference between the two.–

    This is my favorite Christian-fundamentalist form of argument. “I’m right, and if you don’t understand it your stupid.” You are a pretty good impersonator.

    –Your mythology isn’t special.–

    My beliefs aren’t special. That’s for sure. They are just different than the beliefs of Muslims. Just as your beliefs aren’t “special”, but they are different than mine. But I suppose such things escape you.

    –Because your version of the fiction has different characters and different mirarcles?–

    Well, lets see. Those are differences yes? But, lets go on.

    Different Gods in nature (Christian God is trinitarian, Muslim is not).
    Different Gods in character.
    Different views on how to get to the afterlife.
    Different views on Jesus.
    Different views on Mohammed.
    Different “rituals”.

    But of course these are all meaningless little distinctions to you. Because all your intelligence is capable of grasping about religions is that they involve God, and that you disbelieve them.

    factlike–

    Though I did find the post amusing, you, like… well pretty much everyone else here does not seem to have the slightest knowledge about religion in general, and Christianity in particular.

    –But if you’re not an insider, it’s fiddling around.–

    To this, I agree. If you are ignorant about religion then the differences pretty much are trivial to you. Just like if you don’t know much about accents the differences between them can seem pretty trivial to you. And if you want to remain ignorant about accents, sports, or religion, I have no particular problem with that. Just as long as you realize that you are ignorant.

  45. #45 Shawn Wilkinson
    July 17, 2007

    You should only drink Fiji water (factlike, #34).

    Fiji water is disgusting.

  46. #46 Brownian
    July 17, 2007

    kmarissa, my interpretation of tongues is the same as yours. The relevant passages are in Acts 2:1-12.

    It states very clearly that the Apostles began to speak in tongues and that “6When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. 7Utterly amazed, they asked: ‘Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? 8Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? 9Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11(both Jews and converts to Judaism Cretans and Arabs–we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!'”

    Perhaps David, our resident theology expert, can explain why it is that Pentacostals and Charismatics are unable to read their own fucking holy book.

    Does that sound fundamentalist enough for you Dave?

  47. #47 rrt
    July 17, 2007

    Hm, first Blake’s Law, now Courtier’s Reply.

  48. #48 Brownian
    July 17, 2007

    Though I did find the post amusing, you, like… well pretty much everyone else here does not seem to have the slightest knowledge about religion in general, and Christianity in particular.

    By the way David, have you bothered to ask how many of us here came from religious backgrounds? Do you have any idea how many of us have studied theology?

    Want to go head-to-head with us on theology?

    Seriously?

    Would like to try me on?

    Wanna start of with Buddhism? It’s an easy one. I’ll let you pick Theravada or Mayahana, just to be fair.

    How about Zoroastrianism, if that’s more your flavour?

    Maybe you should explain Jainism to us theological idiots, Professor.

    That’s what I thought. Shut your damn mouth.

  49. #49 Andrew Wade
    July 17, 2007

    I’m afraid I didn’t try the technique myself — I didn’t see the virtue in it. Anyone out there who wants to, though, report back and tell us how well it worked.

    I’ve occasionally spoken in tongues, and sung too, for no religious reason whatsoever. The only virtue I’ve noticed is that it’s somewhat fun.

  50. #50 Blake Stacey, OM
    July 17, 2007

    Hmmm, now I just need Richard Dawkins to read my blog post aloud. . . .

  51. #51 Steve_C
    July 17, 2007

    Hehe. He hits em all in one day. Awesome!!!
    We’re not ignorant David. We’re dismissive.

  52. #52 David
    July 17, 2007

    –Perhaps David, our resident theology expert, can explain why it is that Pentacostals and Charismatics are unable to read their own fucking holy book.–

    Unable, or unwilling? There are stupid people that are Pentecostal, stupid people who are Charismatic and stupid people who are atheist. But I suppose to you it is a perfectly rational argument. Since there are Pentecostals who are wrong, and Charismatics who are wrong, then Pentecostals and Charismatics are somehow “unable” to read the Bible. Unwilling, or simply have not ever read the Bible does not seem to cross through your mind.

    –By the way David, have you bothered to ask how many of us here came from religious backgrounds? Do you have any idea how many of us have studied theology?–

    Should I care? Behe studied biochemistry. No, of course not. One can study a subject, and yet not end up learning a damn thing. I can only call things how I see them. If some of the posters who have responded to me have had intellectual backgrounds in theology, they sure haven’t shown them. They’ve shown about the same intelligence as someone who considers that there are no difference between baseball and football, because both involve teams, a ball, and scoring points. Its pretty much the same level of thought. The fact that they may have PH.D’s doesn’t really concern me. When any actual argument comes up that shows that these differences really are trivial, I’ll be more than happy to retract what I’ve said. But I’m hardly holding my breath.

  53. #53 David
    July 17, 2007

    Steve_C

    I can only call them like I see them. And what I see is the same level of intelligence in regards to religion as the person who thinks that baseball and football are fundamentally the same has in regards to sports.

    Now, are you totally ignorant? No, of course not. I am certain that there are a great many areas of which you are quite knowledgeable. Its even possible that you aren’t ignorant about religion, just merely not thinking too much about your responses period. Certainly possible.

  54. #54 David
    July 17, 2007

    I should have said “same thing”. Not “same has”.

  55. #55 Eamon Knight
    July 17, 2007

    David wrote (along with a whole lot of other crap): To this, I agree. If you are ignorant about religion then the differences pretty much are trivial to you.

    Well, David: I am an ex-fundamentalist Christian. I know a good deal about the different strands of Christianity — Catholic, Orthodox, fundamentalist, liberal (even obscurantia like the filioque) — and while I know rather less about Islam (and the difference between Sunni and Shia), I’m aware that there is a marked difference in content between, say, Baptist-ism and Sunni. So I don’t think I can reasonably be described as “ignorant about religion”. When I’m in the mood, I can even be persuaded to discuss some of those differences (esp. w.r.t. the likely socio-political effects of different religious beliefs — something with which I have to be concerned, whether I like it or not).

    But as far as truth value is concerned, all those theologies are equivalent: equally lacking in evidence, and equally unlikely to describe anything that really exists. IOW, the differences are, in one important aspect, “trivial”.

    Of course, someone without a chip on their shoulder would have just ignored the original remark as a throwaway piece of snide.

  56. #56 Steverino
    July 17, 2007

    “Different Gods in nature (Christian God is trinitarian, Muslim is not)”
    – Yes, but still no proof of being

    “Different Gods in character.”
    – Yawn

    “Different views on how to get to the afterlife.”
    – Please provide proof of Afterlife

    “Different views on Jesus.”
    – Please provide proof of Jesus

    “Different views on Mohammed.”
    – Great boxer fromt he 60’s and 70’s…oh wait, a different Mohammed?….ok….Yawn.

    “Different “rituals”
    – Yawn

    I’m good…anyone else?

  57. #57 David
    July 17, 2007

    –Well, David: I am an ex-fundamentalist Christian. —

    And I’m an ex-atheist. Big deal.

    –I’m aware that there is a marked difference in content between, say, Baptist-ism and Sunni. So I don’t think I can reasonably be described as “ignorant about religion”–

    Its nice that you are aware of a marked difference. If you are not ignorant about religion, great. Just show it.

    –But as far as truth value is concerned, all those theologies are equivalent: equally lacking in evidence, and equally unlikely to describe anything that really exists. IOW, the differences are, in one important aspect, “trivial”.–

    So now we’ve gone from “no difference”, to no fundamental difference, to no fundamental difference in terms of “truth value”. Also, as for “equally lacking in evidence” the idea that Mormonism is equally lacking of evidence as Christianity shows to me that you are ignorant about religion. Mormonism has several beliefs that have been actually disproved. The best people here can do for Christianity is to yell “No evidence! No evidence! No evidence!”

    I would think that people here would think that football and baseball are “fundamentally the same”.

    Both are sports.

    Both involve a ball.

    Both involve two teams.

    Both games involve getting the highest score.

    Both teams have “positions”.

    So football and baseball are really fundamentally the same thing, right?

  58. #58 kmarissa
    July 17, 2007

    David, if you really think that PZ’s comment meant that he was honestly and utterly unaware of any difference between the two religious beliefs and is unable to tell the two apart in any way, you may want to go back to Nuanced Conversation 101 and give up on ScienceBlogs for a bit.

    If, as I suspect, you are actually just offended that he jokingly referenced the similarities between the two, rant about THAT if you want (believe me, we’ll find it just as funny), but don’t pretend to have the reading comprehension of a seven year old as you are doing now.

    Maybe it would help if you grew a sense of humor.

  59. #59 Leon
    July 17, 2007

    Here is why this new word can bridge the theist-atheist divide: One need not believe in anything in order to be a creatheist.

    Not to be picky, but we already have a word for it: theistic evolution.

  60. #60 Berlzebub
    July 17, 2007

    Wow… Blake’s Law, Courtier’s Reply, and Shifting Goalposts, all in one thread. I’m impressed David. Do you do balloon animals, too?

  61. #61 David
    July 17, 2007

    –Maybe it would help if you grew a sense of humor.–

    I don’t find ignorance funny. I just find it sad.

  62. #62 Wrought
    July 17, 2007

    Hmm. “Post-theist”? There’s much mileage in that phrase, methinks.

  63. #63 David
    July 17, 2007

    Let’s see.

    PZ does remind me of a fundamentalist Christian. Its been the atheists that have been shifting the goalposts from “no difference” to “they just all aren’t true” and I will admit to not being familiar with Courtier’s Reply.

    So at best you get a one out of three accusation rating.

    Unfortunately I don’t do balloon animals. Do you?

  64. #64 kmarissa
    July 17, 2007

    Okay, so you’re going with the seven year-old then. Sigh.

  65. #65 David
    July 17, 2007

    Kmarissa, you might want to wait until I actually answer your comment before jumping to conclusions. I know you aren’t used to that… but I would suggest giving it a shot now and then.

  66. #66 wrg
    July 17, 2007

    Yeah, David must be pretty faithful. He’s had himself a top-notch humorectomy. That’s an even better sign of commitment than getting sprinkled with water, there.

    What I find surprising is how long people have been engaging this troll. His criticisms are about on the same level as Wells’ complaints about Haeckel in texts.

  67. #67 kmarissa
    July 17, 2007

    Kmarissa, you might want to wait until I actually answer your comment before jumping to conclusions. I know you aren’t used to that… but I would suggest giving it a shot now and then.

    Um, you did. See #61.

  68. #68 Bill Dauphin
    July 17, 2007

    I would think that people here would think that football and baseball are “fundamentally the same”.

    People who find sports meaningful would think football and baseball are significantly different (and could spend hours detailing all the differences); people who find all sports meaningless would think football and baseball are functionally identical (i.e., equally meaningless); people who like to whine about others’ opinions would whine either way.

    It’s not about “ignorance”; it’s about point of view. Figure it out!

  69. #69 Stephen Wells
    July 17, 2007

    David wrote: “Well, lets see. Those are differences yes? But, lets go on.

    Different Gods in nature (Christian God is trinitarian, Muslim is not).
    Different Gods in character.
    Different views on how to get to the afterlife.
    Different views on Jesus.
    Different views on Mohammed.
    Different “rituals”.

    But of course these are all meaningless little distinctions to you.”

    David, you are (unintentionally) right. These ARE all meaningless little distinctions, because they are all differences of opinions on fictitious/non-existent subjects. It’s like arguing about whether the Starship Enterprise could defeat the Death Star.

    We who aren’t in either of these little fan clubs can see the big similarities which you don’t seem to notice. And when we have a bunch of Sunni fundamentalists telling us to repent and join their religion or God will smite us, and a bunch of Baptist fundamentalists telling us the exact same thing, the differences really do seem terribly minor.

  70. #70 kmarissa
    July 17, 2007

    wrg, I know, I know. Bad me. But it’s just so funny. I’ve never seen anyone get so upset over so obviously a flippant and sarcastic comment, and actually WANT people to think he took it literally.

  71. #71 Berlzebub
    July 17, 2007

    Nope, I don’t, David. But they weren’t the ones shifting goal posts. Every time someone explained why they thought the two were the same, you came up with some excuse why the goalposts should be shifted.

    I even said:

    The common link between all religions is believing the unprovable. Whether for reasons of “spiritual” comfort, credulity, or even superiority, that is the common link. So, which reason do you believe, David? Judging by your seeming smugness, I’m putting my money on the last one.

    Which gives a perfectly logical explanation as to why the two are “the same”, and RamblinDude even backed me up by clarifying it further.

    And a specific unprovable, no less–an invisible supernatural, all-powerful God.

    Now, that is the only assertion I’ve made, and that you have ignored. Granted, the last part of my comment was a bit of a rant, and doesn’t require an answer, but it doesn’t take away from my statment. I’m even willing to bet that’s the reason PZ said they’re “the same”, until he says otherwise.

    When you strip Christianity, and the other theistic religions down, all it leaves is the same thing. Belief in one god who can’t be seen or proven, but still controls everything and gives you a reason to judge others, despite what your precious book says.

  72. #72 Jason
    July 17, 2007

    David,

    And I’m an ex-atheist.

    That explains a lot. Those mean old atheists are attacking your religious beliefs again. But instead of trying to actually defend your beliefs, you pretend to misunderstand what atheists mean when they say that religions are basically the same in an attempt to score juvenile debating points against people who irritate you. Yawn.

  73. #73 Shawn Wilkinson
    July 17, 2007

    They say there is. I don’t think I believe them (PZ, #7).

    That’s nice that you have opinions. For a guy who is supposed to be standing up for “truth” I would think you would go a little farther to find the “truth” of the matter (David, #8).

    I said it because it was true (PZ, linked post)

    /thread

  74. #74 Berlzebub
    July 17, 2007

    …and the other theistic religions down

    That should be “monotheistic”. Although, as David said, his is tritheistic(?). It’s still all unprovable when a deity is involved.

  75. #75 Brownian
    July 17, 2007

    David, the god of the Q’uran and the god of the Bible are the same god.

    If you have a reason for claiming that they aren’t, then I ask you to provide some doctrinal differences.

    Before you begin, I’m going to tell you what you’re going to need to do to demonstrate ‘difference.’ You are going to need to demonstrate that a) the god of the Bible is a relatively consistent entity with demonstrable qualities or attributes; b) the god of the Q’uran is a relatively consistent entity with demonstrable qualities or attributes; and c) the differences between the qualities or attributes of the Biblical god and the Q’uranic god are significantly greater than the differences or inconsistencies in the qualities or attributes of each god.

  76. #76 wrg
    July 17, 2007

    Bad me. But it’s just so funny.

    I know! It’s surprising, but funny! I certainly didn’t anticipate this when I decided not to bother several dozen posts ago.

    I don’t know whether he’s really thinking it or putting us on, but like the creationist he’s acting as if, by defeating a literal interpretation of PZ’s remark, he’s cut the underpinnings of our (lack of) belief. Now I guess I’ll have to join the rain dances, since our (a)spiritual leader has been proven wrong. At least we actually have rain today, so it’ll at least be socially appropriate to credit an imaginary friend with a natural event.

  77. #77 phat
    July 17, 2007

    David, please, just get to the damn point or shut up! Please!

    Oh wait, you probably don’t actually have a point.

    phat

  78. #78 David
    July 17, 2007

    –Every time someone explained why they thought the two were the same, you came up with some excuse why the goalposts should be shifted.–

    Evidence please? I mean, this is traditional for the fundamentalist to make unsupported assertions… but perhaps you can back this one up?

    –Which gives a perfectly logical explanation as to why the two are “the same”, and–

    If you believe it, it gives a perfectly logical explanation to why the two are alike. Same neq alike. Not even close. You can have big similarities, and you can have big differences. There is a difference between “basically the same” and “large similarities”.

    –I’m even willing to bet that’s the reason PZ said they’re “the same”, until he says otherwise.–

    I find it interesting that here you put quotes around “the same”. As if you wanted to communicate that they weren’t the same (as in identical) but wanted to use that phrase anyway. Going back up, did PZ use quotes? Did he say that there was “no difference”? Of course not.

    –When you strip Christianity, and the other theistic religions down, all it leaves is the same thing.–

    That’s not terribly surprising. When you strip a lot of stuff down all that’s left is the same thing. When you strip down football and baseball they are both sports. Does that mean that there are “no differences” between football and baseball? Of course not.

    Did PZ say that “in terms of truth value” there are no differences? Of course not. That’s only come along much later.

  79. #79 David
    July 17, 2007

    The God of the Bible is a trinity. Allah is not. Difference. Right there.

    As for the rest of your drek, I have no desire to jump through your little hoops. I am not the lap-dog of fundamentalists, whether they are atheist or Christians.

    phat–

    You missed my point. Sorry. Please back up and try again.

  80. #80 Oxytocin
    July 17, 2007

    Wow David. You are one surly Christian. There have been comments above authored by people who appeared to be attempting to make a point of connection with you and you’ve spit on it. Perhaps you should accept that there are a great number of atheists on this site who won’t be bullied into respecting religious beliefs. Also, just because people don’t agree with you doesn’t mean they’re not thinking. Just like we can’t assume that because you believe in fairies and paradoxes doesn’t mean that you’re not thinking. Do we need to learn about Leprechauns before we reject them? And even if someone is “ignorant” about something trivial they have no interest in, does it really matter [e.g., cricket vs. handball; bapitsts vs. pentacostals]? We all have to pick subjects that we learn about in this world.

    In regards to your Mormonism comment: yes, many points have been disproved. It would likely be the same for mainstream Christianity would it not have been for the many revisions it’s gone through [which will likely also happen with Mormonism] and also because it has the benefit of 2000 years to hide the flaws. Mormonism is at a disadvantage since it’s so new and it’s blemishes can be more readily exposed. It’s easier to find evidence that Joseph Smith was a fraud than Jesus. The crime scene is cold.

  81. #81 ScienceBreath
    July 17, 2007

    David said

    I don’t find ignorance funny. I just find it sad.

    You must have a wretched life then.

  82. #82 PZ Myers
    July 17, 2007

    By David’s ‘reasoning’, no one can ever compare anything in any way, because they will all have some difference. I can’t even say the me sitting in this chair 5 minutes ago is the same me sitting here now, because the 5 minutes of difference means they are no longer comparable.

    Let’s let poor David grumble away in his own stupid way and ignore him, OK? He’s an amateur sophist with a chip on his shoulder, nothing more.

  83. #83 phat
    July 17, 2007

    “You missed my point. Sorry. Please back up and try again.”

    You don’t have a point. You have an accusation based on flimsy, obtuse and humorless reasoning.

    You’re acting like a 9 year old.

    phat

  84. #84 Fatboy
    July 17, 2007

    It’s like arguing about whether the Starship Enterprise could defeat the Death Star.

    That’s just silly. Now maybe the Enterprise taking on an Imperial Star Destroyer, that makes a little more sense.

    The God of the Bible is a trinity. Allah is not. Difference. Right there.

    Right. And Jupiter is completely different from Zeus. No similarities at all.

  85. #85 Brownian
    July 17, 2007

    The God of the Bible is a trinity. Allah is not. Difference. Right there.

    As for the rest of your drek, I have no desire to jump through your little hoops. I am not the lap-dog of fundamentalists, whether they are atheist or Christians.

    David, I have met a great many people of a great many cultures and faiths, and I have met few who are as big an ass as you.

    All I asked you to do was to provide validation of your claim. Since you refuse, I have only to offer a refutation of your claim.

    The god of the New Testament is a trinity. Jesus is mentioned nowhere in the Old Testament. The god of the Old Testament is a monity, or a binity if you interpret the references in the books of Genesis, Numbers, Judges, Job, Samuel, David, and Job.

    God of the Old Testament is a binity. The god of the New Testament is a trinity. Difference. Right. There.

    Enjoy living in hell. Anyone who thinks as poorly as you is certainly there.

    I’m done with you.

  86. #86 forsen
    July 17, 2007

    The act of glossolalia can induce a trance-like state, much like rattling Hindu mantras or pondering Zen koans. I’m ashamed to have any experience of it at all, but it was certainly not inspiring…. although I guess I’m not very prone to that kind of extacy. If you want a truly mindblowing experience that badly, dimethyltryptamine would be a would be a more reliable path.

  87. #87 David
    July 17, 2007

    –There have been comments above authored by people who appeared to be attempting to make a point of connection with you and you’ve spit on it.–

    Please find one. I would welcome that.

    –Perhaps you should accept that there are a great number of atheists on this site who won’t be bullied into respecting religious beliefs.–

    Oh, I accept that. I have no desire to bully anyone here to respecting my beliefs. Just as I have little respect for theirs.

    –Also, just because people don’t agree with you doesn’t mean they’re not thinking. —

    Quite true. However, if you think that there basically no differences between Christianity and Islam you aren’t thinking. You are overgeneralizing to a rather large degree.

    –Just like we can’t assume that because you believe in fairies and paradoxes doesn’t mean that you’re not thinking.–

    Lets see here. People here:

    Assume I believe in fairies and paradoxes. (Which is false).
    Assume I’m not thinking.

    So as much as I would like to believe you on that, most people here seem to think its quite ok.

    –And even if someone is “ignorant” about something trivial they have no interest in, does it really matter [e.g., cricket vs. handball; bapitsts vs. pentacostals]?–

    It depends on what you mean by “matter”. It doesn’t matter if all they want to do is offer ignorant opinions. On the other hand if they want to believe that even though they are ignorant of a subject they are in fact knowledgeable about that subject, knowledgeable enough to judge the “largeness” of differences, then yes it does matter.

    –In regards to your Mormonism comment: yes, many points have been disproved. It would likely be the same for mainstream Christianity would it not have been for the many revisions it’s gone through [which will likely also happen with Mormonism] and also because it has the benefit of 2000 years to hide the flaws.–

    Its nice that you have opinions. I have some too. I just don’t confuse them with fact.

  88. #88 Brownian
    July 17, 2007

    For those of you who aren’t David, I meant to say “or a binity if you interpret the references in the books of Genesis, Numbers, Judges, Job, Samuel, David, and Job to the ‘Spirit of God’ as referring to the Holy Spirit.

    I mention this for those that might be interested in scripture on this point. David is not, since he has obviously never read the bible.

  89. #89 Mark Borok
    July 17, 2007

    Interesting thing about “speaking in tongues”. I have a habit sometimes of repeating nonsense words or phrases to myself when either my mind is empty or I’m trying to empty it of unpleasant thoughts. It’s a reflexive thing.

    The experience also reminds me of those Japanese Buddhists who chant “Na myo ho renge kyo” to “attune” themselves to the cosmos. It would be interesting to know if there is some neurological basis for associating nosense words with certain states of mind.

  90. #90 tony
    July 17, 2007

    I don’t like to feed the troll, but in this case I find that I must.

    If David were an intern at my firm, he’d have been on the exit ramp about 20 posts ago….
    The God of the Bible is a trinity. Allah is not

    Wow! IN which part of the bible does it happen to mention the trinity… other than as ‘aspects of a single god’ — there are *not* THREE gods, there is only ONE GOD (or have you been reading some different babble?

    So — no difference there.

    As for the other points ??? I don’t seem to see any.

    The similarity of *all* religions, from an athiest perspective, is that all religions believe in supernatural entities.

    I don’t particularly care what you call them: leprechauns, djinni, angels, ghosts, wood-nymphs, elves, pixies, or poltergeists.

    I.don’t.care!

    They are *not* real!

    You cannot demonstrate their reality, nor postulate experiments that would do so, nor eluciidate a theory whereby their actuality can be demonstrated or proven.

    From *my* perspective that means they are all the same, and the belief systems that hinge upon their presence are essentially the same too!

    p.s. I also don’t believe in the tooth fairy? Does that make you upset?

  91. #91 Tulse
    July 17, 2007

    From the point of view of Hinduism, or Shintoism, or the Norse religion, or Manicheanism, there really isn’t much difference between Baptists and Sunnis, and what differences do exist are minor doctrinal quibbles.

    And David, since you’re unfamiliar with the term: the origin of The Courtier’s Reply.

  92. #92 Jay Allen
    July 17, 2007

    Mormonism has several beliefs that have been actually disproved. The best people here can do for Christianity is to yell “No evidence! No evidence! No evidence!”

    Really? I thought science took care of that whole “the Earth is only 6,000 years old” thing pretty handily. In fact, all our available knowledge shows the Creation story of Genesis to be a big load of hooey.

    But hey – who needs reality when you have The Bible?

  93. #93 David
    July 17, 2007

    –Wow! IN which part of the bible does it happen to mention the trinity… other than as ‘aspects of a single god’ — there are *not* THREE gods, there is only ONE GOD (or have you been reading some different babble?–

    If you apply the same level of intelligence to work at your firm as you do to religion I would have left long ago. I don’t think that you are ignorant of religion because you disagree. Just as I don’t think that Dembski is ignorant of mathematics just because I disagree with him. I think that both you and Dembski are ignorant of religion and mathematics respectively because you say stupid things.

    –The similarity of *all* religions, from an athiest perspective, is that all religions believe in supernatural entities.–

    I agree. This is a similarity. A similarity between football and baseball is they are both sports involving a ball. This of course, makes them basically the same. At least according to the logic the atheists have shown on this thread so far.

    –From *my* perspective that means they are all the same,–

    I agree. From your perspective they are the same. Just as from the perspective of the person ignorant about sports, football and baseball are the same. Should that person cease being ignorant, he will realize that they contain major differences.

    –p.s. I also don’t believe in the tooth fairy? Does that make you upset?–

    It is not that you believe differently. It is that you think you are knowledgeable, when in fact you are ignorant. If you demonstrated knowledge about religion, and then were still an atheist I would have no problem with that.

  94. #94 Brownian
    July 17, 2007

    I find the linguistic aspects of glossolalia to be very interesting. I would expect that the utterences of speakers during glossolalia sessions to include only phonemes of languages known to the speakers.

    For those of you who have experienced it first hand, have you ever noted diffferences in the sounds made by someone whose first language is German versus someone whose first language is English?

  95. #95 Eamon Knight
    July 17, 2007

    Its nice that you are aware of a marked difference. If you are not ignorant about religion, great. Just show it.

    Argh, David you insufferably tendentious moron, get it through your thick head: our disdain has nothing to do with ignorance. It has to do with NOT GIVING A FLYING FUCK!

    –But as far as truth value is concerned, all those theologies are equivalent: equally lacking in evidence, and equally unlikely to describe anything that really exists. IOW, the differences are, in one important aspect, “trivial”.–

    So now we’ve gone from “no difference”, to no fundamental difference, to no fundamental difference in terms of “truth value”. Also, as for “equally lacking in evidence” the idea that Mormonism is equally lacking of evidence as Christianity shows to me that you are ignorant about religion. Mormonism has several beliefs that have been actually disproved.

    Um, and that would be different from Christianity in what way?

    But let’s compare a few details:
    Granted, Mormonism has a good deal of evidence specifically against it, in that we know exactly who invented it and when, whereas the origin of Christianity is harder to say, being farther back in history, and pre-mass media. So Christianity is ahead in that regard. However: “not as obviously a hoax” isn’t really much of a recommendation, is it?

    Mormonism’s holy book contains some obvious errors of history. But then, so does the Bible.

    There’s no evidence for the existence of either faith’s version of God, and some problems of coherence in the basic notion. Ditto the after-life.

    Hmm…I seemed to have missed this big difference in the evidential status between Christianity and Mormonism.

    The best people here can do for Christianity is to yell “No evidence! No evidence! No evidence!”

    …which is what I actually said: equally lacking in evidence. Which is a perfectly adequate response to any claim: show your evidence, or quit wasting our time.

    I would think that people here would think that football and baseball are “fundamentally the same”.
    [….deletia….]
    So football and baseball are really fundamentally the same thing, right?

    You missed the most important similarity, as far as I’m concerned: equally boring and pointless things that other people waste time watching on TV ;-). (Sort of like religion in some ways, except I find the latter actually more interesting for reasons of personal history and practicality)

  96. #96 chaos_engineer
    July 17, 2007

    From the book: Speaking in tongues has been a significant part of my spiritual practice for half my life. Speaking in tongues has its detractors, but there are sound evolutionary reasons for its effectiveness.

    I take this to mean that speaking in tongues has been linked to genetic factors, and that possessing those genes enhances reproductive success.

    Has anyone seen any literature on this? I can see that the Biblical form of speaking in tongues would be useful, because it allows you to communicate with people who speak foreign languages and widens your pool of potential mates. But those genes seem to have vanished somewhere along the line.

    The modern alleles seem a lot less useful. If you’re in a foreign country and don’t speak the language, then speaking in tongues makes more sense than staying silent. (There’s always the slim chance that you’ll randomly stumble across a combination of syllables that form a good pickup line.) But even so, it seems like trying to learn the local language would be an even better reproductive strategy.

    Also, the only bottled water that’s fit to drink is Dasani, and anyone who disagrees ought to be locked up someplace so that decent people won’t have to listen to their nonsense anymore.

  97. #97 David
    July 17, 2007

    –Really? I thought science took care of that whole “the Earth is only 6,000 years old” thing pretty handily. —

    Yup. Shame that that’s a misreading of the Bible.

  98. #98 forsen
    July 17, 2007

    #89: You might be interested in the wiki entry, for more info on the “god part” of the brain and the role of repetition in inducing ecstasy or trance-like states. The link collection at the bottom may serve as a good hub for further readings…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neurotheology

  99. #99 Steve_C
    July 17, 2007

    David. We do have knowledge of religion. Doesn’t mean we would look at them as being substantially different.

    They are all based on FICTION, MYTH and SUPERSTITION.

    End of story.

    And the death star would totally destroy the enterprise.

  100. #100 Djur
    July 17, 2007

    The experience also reminds me of those Japanese Buddhists who chant “Na myo ho renge kyo” to “attune” themselves to the cosmos.

    It’s also pretty similar to the practice of turning a TV to an empty channel or using a white-noise machine. Most meditation techniques use similar methods with mantras, controlled breathing, etc. Sufi whirling is another rather special example. Beyond that, there’s a near universal resort to rhythmic and repetitive music and dancing to cause a sense of euphoria and detachment — from Santeria rituals in the Caribbean to dance clubs.

    Drugs and alcohol help, too. I’m no expert, and everything I’ve read on the subject generally comes down to highly interesting conjecture, but there seems to be some aspect of the human brain which produces “spiritual,” euphoric responses to repetitive stimuli.

  101. #101 David
    July 17, 2007

    –Granted, Mormonism has a good deal of evidence specifically against it, in that we know exactly who invented it and when, whereas the origin of Christianity is harder to say, being farther back in history, and pre-mass media. So Christianity is ahead in that regard. However: “not as obviously a hoax” isn’t really much of a recommendation, is it?–

    True. Which is why the truly objective thing to say about Christianity is that you have no evidence against it, not “not obviously a hoax”.

    –Mormonism’s holy book contains some obvious errors of history. But then, so does the Bible.–

    Now we are getting somewhere. Please provide one such error. And show that the Bible in fact meant it as a historical point. Not as a metaphor, not as a story, but that the Bible meant it as a historical fact.

    –Hmm…I seemed to have missed this big difference in the evidential status between Christianity and Mormonism.–

    This is not surprising to me.

  102. #102 Kagehi
    July 17, 2007

    Gah!!! Look, I pick bad analogies all the time David, so lets nip this stupidity in the bud and replace the analogy you are whining about with two new ones, take your fracking pick as to which one you like more, “The difference between any two OT based religions is like the difference between Cricket and Baseball”, or, “The difference between any two OT based religions is like the difference between European Football and Soccer.” Is that better? Or are you going to whine and complain that those are bad too?

    I admit I am not as well versed in them as I could be, but from all I can tell, between fundamentalists and groups like Sunni at least, once you throw out name changes and some relatively minor plot points, is well… The name changes and minor plot points. You might as well argue that the rather bloody and dark versions of Camelot or Merlin, which ever they name them by, are 100% different than the nice child friendly versions. Or any other case I could name where the “basic” stories are shared, but a few extra where tacked on later, to change the feeling and direction of the plot. Islam is the Bible without Roman influences. That is just fact. Just as its also a fact that the OT ***does not*** advocate for Jesus, but a warrior kind, to lead his people to battle. If both are based on the same OT, which one has the false messiah?

    See, the problem with only reading “one” text at the exclusion of all others, is you actually think you know something about the subject, when you don’t. Its the equivalent of some brain dead twit who, at 70, is harping about all the other fools in physics from the next generation who are babbling about quantum physics, because obviously the 50 year old text book he has on his shelf says such things don’t happen, and the word is being unfair to him because he can’t get new jobs anyplace where they don’t refer to 50 year old text books for everything they know. You have just picked a fracking 6,000+ year old mythology and opt to ignore everything written prior or after it, except for the bits written 2,000 year ago, by people just as ignorant, which contradict, duplicate or alter its BS stories. And your offended when someone makes a sarcastic comment about how two roughly 2,000 year old versions of the same BS are basically the same BS. Gosh!! So sorry! Next time we will give a cataloged list of how much of the same BS they believe, so you only have to harp on the stuff that differs… lol

    Mind you, there wouldn’t be much. The NT doesn’t exactly promote freeing slaves or treating classes of people different than they where before, other than “believers”, and ironically, some later documents by Mohammed, which never made it into the official version “did” try to provide for a more democratic system and greater acceptance of even those that where “not” of the book. Can’t imagine why 100% of the Muslim nations ignore that document… The NT on the other hand makes **no** provisions of democratic rule, but basically supports kings and social castes, claiming that both categories are pre-ordained to occupy that position by God.

    So, since one rejects the later works if its prophet, and the other never says anything at all about freeing anyone from lower social status or slavery… How are they different in that respect then? Sorry, but the dogma is basically the same, half of the Bible is the same as half of the Quran, and its only **secular ideals** and interference from social systems like the Romans that changed Christianity. And there have been some suggestions that Jesus may have even been invented as a *replacement* for the warrior messiah in the OT, to convince those following the new faith to submit to Roman rule, instead of apposing it, but that it horribly backfired on them, by producing whole new generations of fools that didn’t want to join their military and fight, but where more interested in the supposed moral decay of society, while they hired “other” barbarian people the fight for them. That worked so well…

    Kind of ironic you are seeing the same BS proposed now. “Well, we don’t want *useless* illegal aliens in the country, but if we promote the idea of them entering the military we can replace all the people we are losing, while the rest of us can deal with the important issues, like curing the gays and fighting stem cell research.” I am just glad its Mexicans they are talking about, and its not Iran sitting on the other side of our fracking border…, like when the Romans tried this idiocy.

    Let me put it another way… “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” People like you don’t learn from history at all, they just assume its entirety is encapsulated in one bloody stupid book, and that everything else is irrelevant, including how the book got written and where its ideas came from. Then you get pissed off when people that are paying attention call it basically the same “kind” of BS as someone else’s tunnel visioned belief, and claim that they don’t know anything about what they are talking about. But the only way you can reach that conclusion is if you *only* read what you want to be true, then pull a, “hear no evil, see not evil, speak no evil”, every time someone suggests “looking” at other evidence. Guess what… Some people like Behe, who you bring up, as though its some great defence, *do precisely that when confronted with things they don’t want to hear or see*. He did it at the trial, declaring that thousands of papers on the subject, all of which he admits never reading, where all garbage, because *they contradicted him*. I just have to wonder how many arms he has. I personally find it damn hard to plug my ears with my fingers *and* cover my eyes at the same time… lol

  103. #103 phat
    July 17, 2007

    “You missed the most important similarity, as far as I’m concerned: equally boring and pointless things that other people waste time watching on TV ;-).”

    Anyone who finds baseball boring must be an atheist. πŸ™‚

    phat (atheist Cubs fan)

  104. #104 Tulse
    July 17, 2007

    from the perspective of the person ignorant about sports, football and baseball are the same. Should that person cease being ignorant, he will realize that they contain major differences.

    As compared to what? Cooking? Sex? The Treaty of Westphalia? What counts as “similar” (or “different”) depends on the purpose of the comparison, and the relevant qualities being compared. From most non-sports enthusiasts’ perspective, football and baseball are both big competitive team sports that involve hugely overpaid athletes running around while people watch, which makes them far more similar to each other than they are to, say, stamp collecting, or reciting poetry, or sneezing. Likewise, from most atheists’ perspectives, both Baptist and Sunni religions believe in a god (derived from the same basic source texts and same general region) for which there is no evidence. Sure there are differences (like one being called “Baptist” and the other “Sunni”), but none that are relevant when talking about evidence for the beliefs.

  105. #105 Oxytocin
    July 17, 2007

    David, you’re a little concrete in your thinking, which may be one of the reasons you’re having such a tough time understanding the comments on this site. Sometimes we make comments that aren’t meant to be taken literally, such as my comment on “fairies”. I was simply pointing out that, for a non-believer, fairies and “god” are equal in terms of value.

    You’re right: the uneducated opinion is worth next to nothing. They’re a dime a dozen. That being said, you’ve said yourself several times here that even if someone has been educated that they’re just wrong. Well, that might reflect your narcissism here. If someone is educated, disagrees with you, and is using their brain, chances are they’ve got a different interpretation of the data. You don’t have an exclusive right to reality, my friend.

    David, I never suggested that my comments on Mormonism and mainstream Christian faith is “fact”. This is all my opinion. I like to think it’s educated since I have a particular interest in the area, but I have not qualitatively declared my thoughts to be “gospel”. There are people who do that…happily it’s not me.

  106. #106 rrt
    July 17, 2007

    Fatboy: Although it might depend somewhat on which refit/incarnation we’re discussing (original Enterprise vs. an ISD-II might be a closer match), the Enterprise would generally kick an ISD’s butt. The Fed ship has an overwhelming technological advantage, with far more advanced weaponry, shielding and mobility. True, the Imperial has raw bulk on its side, but with their pathetic, apparently barely-first-generation shields, I can’t imagine it’d take more than a few torpedoes to cripple the thing. Nevermind that the ISD’s laser pop-guns have that legendary Imperial accuracy to deal with.

  107. #107 David
    July 17, 2007

    –That being said, you’ve said yourself several times here that even if someone has been educated that they’re just wrong.–

    Incorrect. I have said that if someone has studied the matter, that does not necessarily mean that they are right. Behe has studied biochemistry, Dembski mathematics. This does not mean that they are right. I do not believe that they are “just wrong”. Merely that they can be.

    –If someone is educated, disagrees with you, and is using their brain, chances are they’ve got a different interpretation of the data. You don’t have an exclusive right to reality, my friend.–

    What would you say if someone like Behe or Dembski said this to you? Would you agree that all they have was a different interpretation of the data? Of course not. You would say that they are wrong. I agree that I don’t have exclusive rights to reality.

  108. #108 DingoDave
    July 17, 2007

    No1Uno wrote in #5:
    “There’s a difference between southern baptists and sunni muslims?”

    You bet!
    Muslims have got nothing on Christians when it comes to creating sub-sect splinter groups because of some piddling doctrinal difference.
    This is just a sample of Baptist sub-sects.
    Who knows what the differences are, and who really cares. (apart from the Baptists themselves)

    Free and General Baptists:
    Free Will Baptist Church
    General Association of General Baptists
    General Conference of the Evangelical Baptist Church, Inc.
    General Six-Principle Baptists
    National Association of Free Will Baptists
    Old Baptist Union
    Original Free Will Baptist Convention
    Separate Baptists in Christ
    United American Free Will Baptist Church
    United American Free Will Baptist Conference

    Strict and Particular Baptists:
    American Baptist Association
    American Baptist Churches
    Association of Grace Baptist Churches
    Association of Independent Evangelical Baptists of Spain
    Association of Reformed Baptist Churches of America
    Association of Regular Baptist Churches
    Baptist Bible Fellowship International
    Baptist General Conference
    Baptist Missionary Association of America
    Baptist Union of Great Britain
    Central Baptist Association
    Continental Baptist Churches
    Conference On Evangelizing Black America
    Covenanted Baptist Church of Canada
    Fellowship of Evangelical Baptist Churches in Canada
    Grace Baptist Assembly
    Norwegian Baptist Union
    National Primitive Baptist Convention of the U.S.A.
    New England Evangelical Baptist Fellowship
    New Testament Association of Independent Baptist Churches
    North American Baptist Conference
    Old Regular Baptists
    Old Time Missionary Baptists
    Seventh Day Baptist General Conference
    Southern Baptist Convention
    Sovereign Grace Baptists
    Two-Seed-in-the-Spirit Predestinarian Baptists
    Strict Baptists
    World Baptist Fellowship

    Retrieved from
    “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Baptist_sub-denominations”

    Remind anyone of the ‘People’s Front of Judea’ or the ‘Judean People’s Front’?
    Splitters!

  109. #109 stogoe
    July 17, 2007

    So David’s already got Blake’s Law and the Courtier’s Reply. I wonder how we could make him try for the coveted ‘PYGMIES + DWARFS’…

    BTW, the Cardinals are both a football and a baseball team.

  110. #110 stogoe
    July 17, 2007

    This is just a sample of Baptist sub-sects…[snip]

    Splitters!

  111. #111 Brownian
    July 17, 2007

    Before anyone else spends any time jumping through the ittle hoops of a fundamentalist, I would ask if there is even one comment that suggests that said fundamentalist has any interest in understanding whatsoever. It is clear from the evidence that said fundamentalist equates disagreement with ignorance (despite the protestations of said fundamentalist.)

    Really? I thought science took care of that whole “the Earth is only 6,000 years old” thing pretty handily.
    Yup. Shame that that’s a misreading of the Bible.

    Wow! IN which part of the bible does it happen to mention the trinity…other than as ‘aspects of a single god’–there are *not* THREE gods, there is only ONE GOD (or have you been reading some different babble?

    If you apply the same level of intelligence to work at your firm as you do to religion I would have left long ago. I don’t think that you are ignorant of religion because you disagree. Just as I don’t think that Dembski is ignorant of mathematics just because I disagree with him. I think that both you and Dembski are ignorant of religion and mathematics respectively because you say stupid things.

    On a completely unrelated note, PZ, at what point does a troll who has refused to answer a single question or offer a single piece of evidence for his claims (not even scriptural evidence) but instead impugns the intelligence of his interlocuters get tossed in the dungeon or disemvowelled?

  112. #112 Stephen Wells
    July 17, 2007

    Shorter David: There are important and profound differences between my cosplaying a Klingon and that guy cosplaying a Jedi! Look, I’m carrying a bat’leth and he’s carrying a lightsaber! That’s a huge difference right there! You’re all just ignorant if you lump us together as “guys who like to dress up as sci-fi characters.”

    @106: I still find “Only Imperial Stormtroopers are so accurate” the funniest line in Episode IV.

  113. #113 David
    July 17, 2007

    I have to admit, I’m not up to date with all these little pet names you have. Are there any sites in which these are covered?

  114. #114 David
    July 17, 2007

    –On a completely unrelated note, PZ, at what point does a troll who has refused to answer a single question–

    I have answered a great many questions. I have answered the very questions you quote. Its not my fault you don’t like the answers.

  115. #115 Sastra
    July 17, 2007

    David wrote:

    So football and baseball are really fundamentally the same thing, right?

    From the point of view of someone deciding between going to a sports event, and going on an art tour? Yes. That was my point. It’s not a matter of being ignorant about real differences between football and baseball. It’s a matter of being in a situation or perspective where the differences become minor in context.
    And what Bill Dauphin (#68) says.

  116. #116 Josh
    July 17, 2007

    David, try this out. “The money and respect paid to professional athletes is ludicrous. Children are taught to idolize someone whose sole contribution to society is tossing a ball around. The seriousness with which adult fans regard their preferred sports would be laughable if it wasn’t outright frightening in extreme cases. Baseball is as bad as football, there is no difference to me.” Do you read this and conclude that the author (me) really is unable to distinguish baseball and football? I suspect you’re not actually so dumb that you don’t understand the point, i.e. it is irrelevant to the critique that the rules, uniforms, and ball shapes aren’t the same.

    Feel free to argue against the actual message (PZ’s, the sports rant is just an extemporaneous illustration) or to try and show differences which are relevant to his point, but don’t try to wrestle out an anal rhetorical victory like a middle school debate captain.

  117. #117 Brownian
    July 17, 2007

    Wow! IN which part of the bible does it happen to mention the trinity…other than as ‘aspects of a single god’–there are *not* THREE gods, there is only ONE GOD (or have you been reading some different babble?

    Refresh my memory, David. What was your answer to this question?

  118. #118 David
    July 17, 2007

    –From the point of view of someone deciding between going to a sports event, and going on an art tour?–

    And now the goalposts have shifted yet again. Before we were at least talking about objective properties of the religions. Now by “same” we are just referring to differences in regards to specfic decisions. Not objective differences.

  119. #119 Kagehi
    July 17, 2007

    Please provide one such error.

    Hmm. How about the whole “exodus” nonsense, if it happened at all, happening 500 years earlier than the Bible claims, under a far older Egyptian society, and **not** under Ramses?

    Not that this is “apparently” a major problem, since it seems, from a google on “exodus 500 years earlier”, that the Bible has been reworded multiple times to try to make it “fit” the supposed times and events things happened with regard to that event… lol None of which matters much, since like most stories in it, you can trace it back to an even earlier story, from Assyria, as this page describes:

    http://fontes.lstc.edu/~rklein/Documents/how_reliable_is_exodus.htm

    Which would place the whole, “left in a reed basket”, part happening to any one of three Assyrian kings who ruled either at 721 to 705 B.C., about 1920 B.C., or in the third case, some time around 2340 to 2284 B.C. or from 2296 to 2240 B.C. (they are not sure which of those dates is right).

    Do you really want me to point out how many other “events” in the Bible are either traceable to other people’s mythologies or didn’t happen when the Bible claims they did, or maybe even in the *same place* as it claims? And the NT is so much better.. Given that there isn’t one single work ever found, placing anyone in it, in any of the places claimed, from earlier than about 50-100 years *after the fact*. I mean, you would at least expect **something**, even if it was a name carved on a fracking cave wall one of them staid in over night while traveling, but there isn’t *anything* from the actual time of the events described, not even in Roman records, save for two obscure references that could easily have been added to the story as “proof” of the events after the fact. Its not like they didn’t have dozens of messiahs wandering about at the time and thousands of people being crucified to to pick from. And whose going to argue that 50 years earlier they **didn’t** see someone nailed to a cross? Heck, you can wait five minutes and ask a group of people if they saw the clown making balloon animals in the park that day, and half of them will say they did, even though the only person coming close to that description was a guy with a Hawaiian shirt and red pants, who jogged past them. Ask them again in 50 years, or even 50 minutes, especially if you asked them the first time where they had a chance to talk about it…

    That’s why we generally look for documentation from the people **at** the event, *during* the event, not 50 years later, when ever possible. Most of the Bible is stuff no one that wrote it witnessed at all, which was passed down to them by a dozen generations of people that never saw it themselves, many of whom stoled it from other religions and mythologies. That’s just simple reality.

  120. #120 tony
    July 17, 2007

    David: If you apply the same level of intelligence to work at your firm as you do to religion I would have left long ago. No- you would not have had the opportunity — you would have been ‘asked to leave’. You are obviously incapable of operating rationally and without delusion!

    w.r.t. religion, I am athiest after many years of thinking and ‘meditating’ on what religion means, on what ‘god’ means, and what it’s value is…. (to me and to others for whom I care)

    to me, and to almost every single person who has posted here (other than you) religions are ALL THE SAME. They are basically, without the insignificant trappings of ritual, obeisance to god. The god(s) may be plural, ‘natural’, or single. The god(s) may be all-powerful (YHWH), or limited (Odin).

    The thing you don’t seem to get – The one thing you cannot, and will not, hear – is that we don’t care. They are ALL SUPERNATURAL. As such, it’s your business whether you believe in purple froobers, or in some benevolent/retributional god. Just don’t project that onto us as a requirement for debate.

    It’s your delusion, not mine!

    You mention latterly that you don’t have exclusive rights to reality. AFAICS you don’t have ANY link to reality at all!

  121. #121 phat
    July 17, 2007

    I’m going to have to say I’m offended by the baseless attacks on sincerely held beliefs about sport.

    Football is not a real sport.

    Baseball is. I know. Because I have a Cubs cap and I’ve been to Wrigley Field. It is the only true American Pastime. Although those guys in the American League have got it wrong, with the designated hitter.

    phat

  122. #122 Oxytocin
    July 17, 2007

    David,
    Your use of Behe and Dembski is interesting. I think anytime educated people express dissenting views, it’s a curiosity. Now, the motivation of these gentleman is another story. They both have belief systems that supersede their utility of science and that color what they do. They start with assumptions that are unwarranted, such as “god exists”, and continue adding on from there. The question is: how ISN’T this the case for you? And why don’t you buy what they say?

  123. #123 phat
    July 17, 2007

    Oh, and when I say football, I’m talking about all the different “footballs”.

    phat

  124. #124 Billy
    July 17, 2007

    Baseball is the game for which I had neither talent nor interest which my parents nevertheless forced me to play in order instill in me a sense of something called “sportsmanship,” but which mostly bored me when it didn’t humiliate me.

    Football is the game for which I had neither talent nor interest which my parents nevertheless forced me to play in order instill in me a sense of something called “sportsmanship,” but which mostly bored me when it didn’t humiliate me.

    Trying to think of a difference … oh wait, baseball was Michael Jordan’s game, right?

  125. #125 Sastra
    July 17, 2007

    “–From the point of view of someone deciding between going to a sports event, and going on an art tour?”–

    And now the goalposts have shifted yet again. Before we were at least talking about objective properties of the religions. Now by “same” we are just referring to differences in regards to specfic decisions. Not objective differences.

    You can take the ‘decision’ part out. “From the point of view of someone comparing sports events to art tours …” football and baseball would be classified together, their distinctions irrelevant.

    You’re right : there are objective differences between Islam and Christianity. But our point is valid: the differences are less important, less significant, from far outside, than from someone involved on the inside.

    NoiUno asked (#5):

    There’s a difference between southern baptists and sunni muslims?

    PZ Myer replied (#7):

    They say there is. I don’t think I believe them.

    Since there are of course obvious differences, PZ is clearly joking — and yet making the serious point that from HIS perspective, from the point of view of an atheist — it’s really just quibbling. This has nothing to do with lack of scholarship or understanding. It does have to do, however, with lack of belief. If you believe one is true, and one is false, then there’s no comparison. And no objectivity.

  126. #126 Brownian
    July 17, 2007

    Nice one Billy, but your experiences growing up were nothing like mine. You see, hockey is the game for which I had neither talent nor interest which my parents nevertheless forced me to play in order instill in me a sense of something called “sportsmanship,” but which mostly bored me when it didn’t humiliate me.

    Of course, like Martin Luther, when I didn’t like the sports I was made to play, I made my own up.

  127. #127 tony
    July 17, 2007

    Phat: What do you mean by all the different “footballs”.

    There is only one football… and that is the beautiful game, as played by the majority of the world….

    Yes.

    Rugby!

    There’s that other proletarian rubbish, but honestly – how hard is it to reliably kick a *round* ball? A rugby ball, now, that’s a different matter. I hear the colonials have a number of games they play — of course they messed up the rules, but still basically rugby… can’t expect too much from colonials, after all! Good show!

  128. #128 tony
    July 17, 2007

    PZ; BTW – we’ve now apparently made Pharyngula into a sports blog, too! You get yet another blog trope!

  129. #129 David
    July 17, 2007

    –Now, the motivation of these gentleman is another story. They both have belief systems that supersede their utility of science and that color what they do.–

    I would agree to this.

    –They start with assumptions that are unwarranted, such as “god exists”, and continue adding on from there. The question is: how ISN’T this the case for you?–

    I didn’t start off with the assumption that God exists. If there is any assumption I started with, its that God does not exist. I ended up at the “assumption” that God exists.

    –And why don’t you buy what they say?–

    They have that unfortunate quality of being wrong. Dembski is wrong on a mathematical level. Behe on a biological level. Not only do I know that they are wrong, I can prove it. I can go to Dembski and show how he’s screwed up information theory. I have yet to meet the individual who has shown me that I’m wrong. Now, I’m not terribly surprised by this. I’m not exactly a conservative Christian. So most of the usual attacks don’t apply to what I believe.

  130. #130 Brownian
    July 17, 2007

    Isn’t rugby just another sect of football (soccer)?

  131. #131 Brownian
    July 17, 2007

    David, you still haven’t described how you answered the question “Wow! IN which part of the bible does it happen to mention the trinity…other than as ‘aspects of a single god’–there are *not* THREE gods, there is only ONE GOD (or have you been reading some different babble?” and therefore provided evidence for your claim that “[you] have answered the very questions [I] quote.”

    Were you lying?

  132. #132 Jason
    July 17, 2007

    David,

    If there is any assumption I started with, its that God does not exist. I ended up at the “assumption” that God exists.

    How did you “end up” there? Perhaps you could describe the path. Please tell me it doesn’t involve a frozen waterfall.

  133. #133 tony
    July 17, 2007

    Brownian:

    Isn’t rugby just another sect of football (soccer)?

    I’m aghast!

    How can you say such a thing!

    If anything, soccer is the bastard child of rugby, and some girl’s game (like skipping)!

    (nothing against girl’s games, mind — quite like to watch girls… at games…. mmmmmm)

  134. #134 phat
    July 17, 2007

    It doesn’t matter, none of the footballs are truly sports.

    phat

  135. #135 tony
    July 17, 2007

    Brownian: methinks David has

    that unfortunate quality of being wrong

    that he so readily pins on others…

    shamed by his own rhetoric, I see.

  136. #136 Oxytocin
    July 17, 2007

    Ok David. Well, again, though, what makes you think that god exists? It comes right down to that, doesn’t it? You see, it’s not up to us to prove that god doesn’t exist. It’s up to you to prove that he does. We would face a never-ending battle if we had to entertain every claim. You can imagine the waste if we took Astrology’s claims seriously. You seem to value evidence and reason; what’s your evidence for god? And remember the old adage that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Why are your claims right vs. the creationists? Why not Shiva? Why not Poseidon? Why not Buddha? If you could help us to understand this, it would likely make things a whole lot easier so that we can foster a common frame of reference.

  137. #137 phat
    July 17, 2007

    And lumping all fans of sports in with others, like football hooligans, isn’t fair to us well-behaved baseball fans.

    phat

  138. #138 Fatboy
    July 17, 2007

    #106 (Enterprise vs. ISD)
    I was going to try to come up with a clever response, so I did a little googling on Imperial Star Destroyers. I came across stardestroyer.net. It has full discussion board, with an entire section on Star Trek vs. Star Wars. After browsing through that, I kind of lost my desire to joke about it anymore.

    Anyway, the main reason I’m even posting this comment, is that third link on that home page is to Creationism vs. Science. Thought it was kinda a coincidence.

  139. #139 Fatboy
    July 17, 2007

    #127, I sure hope you’re talking about Union Rugby, not League.

  140. #140 tony
    July 17, 2007

    David…. BTW – still waiting for the revelation that documents the christians having THREE gods, not ONE.

    With regards to your ‘journey’ from athiest to Christian…. I’m interested in where you were before…. and when you made the transition in each case. It appears from your writing that you have some ‘fundamental’ issue with ‘rational thought’.

    perhaps you never truly stopped being Xian?

  141. #141 tony
    July 17, 2007

    Rugby [sputter incoherently]League[/sputter incoherently]

    Gah! The two words shouldn’t even be allowed in the same room together!

  142. #142 Brownian
    July 17, 2007

    Don’t wait too long, Tony. From the evidence here, it is a fact that David lies occasionally, and thus I wouldn’t attach any credibility to his claims of being an ex-athiest or even an Xian.

  143. #143 Brownian
    July 17, 2007

    Rugby [sputter incoherently]League[/sputter incoherently]

    Wow, did Fatboy just cause Tony to speak in tongues?

  144. #144 tony
    July 17, 2007

    Don’t wait too long, Tony. From the evidence here, it is a fact that David lies occasionally, and thus I wouldn’t attach any credibility to his claims of being an ex-athiest or even an Xian.

    there – fixed it for ya!

  145. #145 tony
    July 17, 2007

    Wow, did Fatboy just cause Tony to speak in tongues?

    does that mean I’m glossy?

  146. #146 Stephen Wells
    July 17, 2007

    Desperately trying not to make “speaking in tongues”/”glossy labia” joke. Oh darn, too late.

  147. #147 Brownian
    July 17, 2007

    I can’t tell from here. Are you better suited to being written on or run through an inkjet printer?

  148. #148 kagehi
    July 17, 2007

    Well David.. I honestly believe that some day I will win the lotto. Yes, its unlikely, but people do it all the time, so if I keep at it… Prove me wrong!

    Sorry, but just because we can’t “prove” that the god you believe in doesn’t exist doesn’t mean that:

    A) In its most probable form it is nothing more than claiming what some call infinite regression, where if X is unlikely, then you need Y, but since Y is even more unlikely, you need Z, but since that is even *more* unlikely…

    B) In all the other forms God comes in, you **can** prove often who invented the idea, where it was stolen from, that the claims made for what it looks like, does, can do, etc, simply don’t ever actually happen as described.

    Put simply, if you know enough to make a true qualitative examination of claims about Gods, the anthropomorphic version *can’t* be possible, there being to many examples where the evidence claimed for it being wrong, or contradicted by alternate claims of why its still not wrong, even when the evidence says it is. The more nebulous and indistinct version, on the other hand, is simply… redundant.

    Lets just say that I tend to suspect you started out an atheist in the same way I started out being a Californian, and got to where you are via the same level of thought and consideration as I used when getting to Arizona. Which is to say, you started there just because that is where you where, and got to where you are simply by following the most obvious path in front of you at the time. You had no foundation for your prior position, none of the knowledge needed to counter religious ideology and so it was real easy for you to fall for it, when it gave you something, maybe a sense of community, a sense of privilege, or a respite from the bad behavior, hate and anger of others *towards* you for not following the same group of sheep as they did, so it was real easy for you to just join the crowd and talk yourself into believing. After all, you get so much more respect, help, special treatment and acceptance for *believing*, how ever weak that belief is, than you ever got for saying God doesn’t exist, and you got there without ever having to ask any hard questions, or understand how and why atheist, that didn’t start out that way in the first place, got to their unbelief.

    Am I right? Or are you going to come up with some silly excuse for how you found one of the thousands of bits of supposed “evidence” believers always bring up, then have to back peddle from when people point out how its not proof of anything?

  149. #149 tony
    July 17, 2007

    If I to align with Stephen Wells’ suggestion, I’d obviously be better suited to being ‘run through”… although, I think that I’d rather be “stroked” by a nice, long, hard “stylus”

  150. #150 Dahan
    July 17, 2007

    David , About this strange obsession with the differences between these religeons. There are some. Just like there are differences in the following equations:

    3+2=6

    and

    4+1=4

    What matters to most of us here though is that they’re both wrong, and I for one DO have a problem respecting someone who would say that the differences in those equations matter. Who cares if one starts with a 3 and the other a 4? I know several others here have tried to drill this into your head but I thought maybe one more time couldn’t hurt.

  151. #151 tony
    July 17, 2007

    Re: I need to clarify ….

    My statement was, of course, *hypothetical*. In my current incarnation, I’d much prefer to be the “pen”!

  152. #152 Brachychiton
    July 17, 2007

    Rugby [sputter incoherently]League[/sputter incoherently]

    Gah! The two words shouldn’t even be allowed in the same room together!

    I’m with tony.

  153. #153 tony
    July 17, 2007

    I’ll need to check back later — dinner calls (or more likely — a very dry codka martini)

  154. #154 tony
    July 17, 2007

    WTF is ‘codka’? never try touch typing while tired and hungry and thinking of a martini!!

    caio!

  155. #155 kevinj
    July 17, 2007

    #96 – Dasani? coca cola tried launching that in Europe. Kinda collapsed after the trial in the uk. Problem one was the fact it came out they were just filtering tap water and problem b was they screwed up said filtering and made it less safe (to the point it had to be removed from shelves).

    as for talking in tongues – had some christians hire out the private room of a pub i worked in once and people were doing the talking in tongues. I found it pretty freaky (even after dealing with drunks and other assorted idiots) and if someone came near me doing that would have almost certainly triggered a violent response

  156. #156 slim
    July 17, 2007

    David –

    Not to beat a dead horse, but to an atheist, all religions are the same: belief in a supernatural being who has rules for humans to live by and depends on faith rather than proof to justify itself.

    It doesn’t matter whether your belief is in single entity or a trinity or the whole host of Norse, Roman and Greek gods – you’re believing in superhuman, eternal and omniscient actor(s), which we atheists see as pure fantasy.

    By that standard, there’s no difference between Islam, Christianity, Mormonism, pick your poison.

    And as a person of Jewish heritage who was baptized a Catholic, confirmed as an Episcopalian, and became an atheist shortly thereafter, I’m not entirely ignorant on the subject.

  157. #157 Brownian
    July 17, 2007

    Too late guys. David’s already stipulated that the bible is inerrant (er, when it’s not using metaphors or telling stories, that is.)

    I suspect (which is all I can do since he failed to ever actually say anything other than to accuse us of not knowing anything about theology) that to David, the salient difference between Xianity and all other religions is that he believes them to be false.

    So in effect, David is a fundamental atheist with regards to every religion on earth save his own.

    What a waste of time he was.

  158. #158 daudi
    July 17, 2007

    Thank God for Atheism!

  159. #159 Spooky
    July 17, 2007

    Brownian:

    It states very clearly that the Apostles began to speak in tongues and that “6When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. 7Utterly amazed, they asked: ‘Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? 8Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language?”

    Babel Fish.

    Had to be!

    And because Babel Fish are a dead giveaway, they prove the nonexistence of god!

    I miss D. Adams.

    Oh, and David?

    Abloo abloo abloo abloo. Poor thing!

  160. #160 coathangrrr
    July 17, 2007

    I admit I am not as well versed in them as I could be, but from all I can tell, between fundamentalists and groups like Sunni at least, once you throw out name changes and some relatively minor plot points, is well… The name changes and minor plot points. You might as well argue that the rather bloody and dark versions of Camelot or Merlin, which ever they name them by, are 100% different than the nice child friendly versions. Or any other case I could name where the “basic” stories are shared, but a few extra where tacked on later, to change the feeling and direction of the plot. Islam is the Bible without Roman influences. That is just fact. Just as its also a fact that the OT ***does not*** advocate for Jesus, but a warrior kind, to lead his people to battle. If both are based on the same OT, which one has the false messiah?

    A couple points. First, Sunnis are not fundamentalist. There are some Sunni groups which are fundamentalist, but the majority are not, thankfully, as they are by far the most populous sect of Muslims. Second, Islam still has some roman influence, Rome was a pretty big empire. Also, Christians accept the OT as gospel, Muslims do not, they do have it woth an altered plot in the Quran.

    Just some clarifications from an atheist who studies religion.

  161. #161 Damien
    July 17, 2007

    Yeah. I don’t see what the difference is. They’re both fundamentalist sect who think their way is the only way.

    That TRUE enough for you David?

    I’m as atheist as they come, and I think that’s a stupid thing to say. “I don’t see what the difference between birds and bats is. They both fly.”

    to an atheist, all religions are the same: belief in a supernatural being who has rules for humans to live by and depends on faith rather than proof to justify itself

    Yep, “they both fly”. Or maybe “they’re both beetles”, for another group of similar organisms. Or “they’re both squid”, “they’re both tentacled things.”

    Believing both religions are equally false in their metaphysical claims doesn’t prohibit, and shouldn’t get in the way of, studying them as real memetic entities, with similarities but also different properties, and quite possibly different effects on the behavior of their believers. Beetles, squid, bacteria, memes, they’re all replicating, evolving, patterns, which can be studied. And should be studied, or so Dan Dennett urged us. Remember him? Urging the scientific study of religion? Can’t happen if you piss on the facts and take pride in your ignorance of religion.

  162. #162 DingoDave
    July 17, 2007

    Heard any good Baptist jokes lately?
    If not, here’s one.

    I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump. I ran over and said: “Stop. Don’t do it.”
    “Why shouldn’t I?” he asked.
    “Well, there’s so much to live for!”
    “Like what?”
    “Are you religious?”
    He said, “Yes.”
    I said, “Me too. Are you Christian or Buddhist?”
    “Christian.”
    “Me too. Are you Catholic or Protestant?”
    “Protestant.”
    “Me too. Are you Episcopalian or Baptist?”
    “Baptist.”
    “Wow. Me too. Are you Baptist Church of God or Baptist Church of the Lord?”
    “Baptist Church of God.”
    “Me too. Are you original Baptist Church of God, or are you Reformed Baptist Church of God?”
    “Reformed Baptist Church of God.”
    “Me too. Are you Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1879, or Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1915?”
    He said: “Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1915.”
    I said: “Die, heretic scum,” and pushed him off.

    Splitter – Splatter!

  163. #163 cyan
    July 17, 2007

    OT
    These fruitless clashes between the critical thinking that leads to scientific discovery and the fact that humans in general have wanted & continue to want gods might be reduced significantly if public schools required a course in comparative religions as a requirement for graduation.

    We who think that science should be rationally presented to young people must insist that different religious views should also be presented to them; one certainly cannot trust that their church or any other venue will educate them about the current state of each belief and the history behind each.

  164. #164 eewolf
    July 17, 2007

    Kudos to phat and the sports gang for demonstrating exactly what david was missing and how he could have handled it.

    phat slays.

  165. #165 David
    July 17, 2007

    Gee… I’m gone for a bit and you guys jump all over me. Do you have no other life but posting comments?

    Briefly:

    Brownian, I gave you the only answer that question deserves. Its an incredibly stupid question that about 5 minutes on the internet would solve. The fact that you even asked it shows that you have a dismal understanding of the Bible.

    I have no idea about frozen waterfalls. I don’t know the reference. Nor does it apply to anything about my life.

    Its nice to see that there is at least one atheist with intelligence.

    Having a conversation about religion on this board is a pointless exercise. I could have more fruitful conversations with a brick wall.

    kagehi, its nice that you suspect things. I have opinions as well.

    I am not going to try to jump through hoops, whether they are atheist or fundamentalist Christian.

  166. #166 kmarissa
    July 17, 2007

    Damien, I seriously doubt anyone is “taking pride in [their] ignorance of religion.” Do YOU really think that PZ, in post #7, literally meant that he believed there was absolutely no articulable difference between the two religions, and that they were absolutely identical in all ways, just being called by two different names (as David has claimed to)? I found it hilarious that David has pretended to be unable to understand the context of PZ’s statement, but as someone who seems more coherent, you may want to review the posts (#7 and #8) that started this whole thing. This has nothing to do with a bunch of atheists sitting around believing that Sunnis revere the Bible and worship Jesus and participate in Southern Baptist revivals and whatnot. This has everything to do with a flippant and sarcastic comment highligting the similarities between the two religions, and the presumably willful misunderstanding of that comment.

  167. #167 Wolfhound
    July 17, 2007

    The Troll spaketh thusly: “Having a conversation about religion on this board is a pointless exercise. I could have more fruitful conversations with a brick wall.”

    Oh, goody! Does that mean you’ll piss off now?

  168. #168 Brownian
    July 17, 2007

    I could have more fruitful conversations with a brick wall.

    I don’t doubt that for a second. Well, hop to it then.

    Just a friendly reminder: walls can’t hear. They communicate by tapping messages on each other in Morse code with their foreheads. If the wall doesn’t respond, you just have to tap harder.

    To Brick Wall:

    Sorry, but it was either you or us.

    PS. Don’t be offended when he tells you that you know nothing about brickwalleology. He won’t give a single example that suggests he knows what he’s talking about, but he’ll tell you six ways from Sunday that you’re an idiot.

    Be gentle with the poor man. He’s not quite right.

  169. #169 Stogoe
    July 17, 2007

    As far as I’m concerned, there is only one sport, and the Americans call it soccer.

    Also, ‘codka’ is what the fishermen drink when the rum’s gone.

  170. #170 rrt
    July 17, 2007

    Why is the rum gone?!

  171. #171 Torbjφrn Larsson, OM
    July 17, 2007

    post-theistic

    Now, that is a take-home meme – it gets around those “religion is here to stay because it exists in all societies … um, like the tendency to get fat makes fat individuals a necessity” persons. Ever since the secular state was invented and became pretty much the standard political system, by definition we live in a post-theistic society. Let’s hope it proliferates.

    It requires very little knowledge of either of the two religions. In fact, it basically requires no knowledge beyond the facts that they are religions. Which of course makes it an ideal statement for those who do not want to do any actual reading/studying on religion or theology but merely want to sound like they do.

    Since we are into the law/meme thing on this thread – this suggests a Myers’ corollary to Goodwin’s law: “As the length of any discussion of analyzing religions grows, the probability that someone will use the Courtier’s Reply approaches one.” πŸ˜›

    One can’t deduce a lack of knowledge on a subject from the fact that a modicum of knowledge reveals that the philosophical aspects are easy to summarize and analyze. For a recent example, sports puts competitors against each other for entertainment value. πŸ˜›

  172. #172 Torbjφrn Larsson, OM
    July 17, 2007

    post-theistic

    Now, that is a take-home meme – it gets around those “religion is here to stay because it exists in all societies … um, like the tendency to get fat makes fat individuals a necessity” persons. Ever since the secular state was invented and became pretty much the standard political system, by definition we live in a post-theistic society. Let’s hope it proliferates.

    It requires very little knowledge of either of the two religions. In fact, it basically requires no knowledge beyond the facts that they are religions. Which of course makes it an ideal statement for those who do not want to do any actual reading/studying on religion or theology but merely want to sound like they do.

    Since we are into the law/meme thing on this thread – this suggests a Myers’ corollary to Goodwin’s law: “As the length of any discussion of analyzing religions grows, the probability that someone will use the Courtier’s Reply approaches one.” πŸ˜›

    One can’t deduce a lack of knowledge on a subject from the fact that a modicum of knowledge reveals that the philosophical aspects are easy to summarize and analyze. For a recent example, sports puts competitors against each other for entertainment value. πŸ˜›

  173. #173 Dahan
    July 17, 2007

    rrt,
    You made me LOL! Nice one!

    (said sipping on his rum and coke)

  174. #174 Jake
    July 17, 2007

    Two UW-Madison professors wrote a book called “Seeking Truth: Living with Doubt.” The core thesis is that fundamentalism and dogma (be it religious or, say, economic) is inherently an obstacle to truth seeking. Truth seeking is best accomplished, they argue, through a triad of techniques: science, the arts (which pursue meaningful lasting cultural truths), and what they call the ‘mystical’ religious practices of introspection and, perhaps, meditation.

    I mention this because I think the value of introspection and self-awareness is sometimes underplayed by those fighting in the name of science against dogma. And in particular, while I’m not familiar with speaking in tongues, at least one other religious faith that I know of (Hasidic Judaism) spawned a musical form (‘nigun,’ meaning melody) which is sung on nonsense syllables rather than real words. Jewish scholars from the relevant time period (middle of 19th century to WWII, when Hitler annihilated the culture and lifestyle of existing eastern european jews)are quoted as describing the value of singing a nigun significantly in terms of achieving self-awareness. As a biologist and an atheist myself, I have no use for the supernatural connotations of the practice, and would instead interpret values such as ‘connecting to god’ associated with singing nigunim in psychological and material terms.

    But I find it noteworthy that you (PZ) and many others were unwilling to even try the ‘instructions’ for speaking in tongues. To be sure, your (basically justified) anti-religious prejudices contributed to your premature scorn for the idea. But also, it’s a difficult thing to do! You feel silly! And to modernize and paraphrase a jewish scholar speaking about nigun, the specific extemporized sounds you create are as unique to you as your genome is, and the act of creating a nigun if you are Hasidic, or of speaking in tongues if you are Christian (or whatever), or of skatting if you are a jazz musician (hey louis armstrong), or of dropping a freestyle flow that makes use of non-words if you come from hip hop culture, or whatever cultural avenue leads you to a form of personalized self expression……that sort of thing can really be a tool for broadening self-awareness.

    There is so much to ridicule and disguise about religion both in theory and as it is practiced in the sick sad wonderful world we live in. But (someone smart and famous) said a wise man can learn more from a fool than a fool from a wise man — you’re only doing yourself a disservice, undermining your scientific search for means by which we may all be more happy when you put on blinders to the possible merits of various components of religion.

    All of which is to say…speaking in tongues is probably actually kind of cool and mind expanding, maybe even for atheists, even if *some* yaks credit those qualities to a big man in white who is his own son, or something.

  175. #175 BT Murtagh
    July 17, 2007

    Even if you can’t tell the difference in a blind taste test, there are differences between Fiji and either Dasani or Aquafina.

    No, not that Fiji is spring water – all water is dihydrogen monoxide, so if you match the dissolved minerals there’s no way to distinguish them.

    The difference I’m thinking of is that drinking Fiji is massively worse for the environment. Not only is the bottling plant itself notorious in the area for polluting locally, but the carbon footprint for shipping it all the way to the target market is enormous.

    Dasani and Aquafina are produced relatively locally, which means less transport-related pollution and also that they are produced in countries with some level of environmental regulation (not as much as might be wished, but far more than Fiji).

  176. #176 autumn
    July 18, 2007

    I’m banging my head against the wall for even attempting to do this, but the example used in post #116 was a little erroneous in that its narator was actually discussing sports in some way. The book, and the blog entry, were not about religion per se, but something else entirely. I believe a better metaphor is a sociologist trying to decide which of two cities were more poverty stricken, and having someone state that the existance in one city of an NFL team was relevant versus the existance in the other city of an NBA team. The sociologist would surely reply, corectly, that the teams are the same thing, and thus irrelevant to the subject at hand. And yes, David, irrelevance to the subject at hand is equal to “no difference”, unless you are functionally illiterate.

  177. #177 phat
    July 18, 2007

    “Kudos to phat and the sports gang for demonstrating exactly what david was missing and how he could have handled it.

    phat slays.”

    Thank-you thank-you.

    All will be revealed in a properly read scorecard.

    phat

  178. #178 weevil
    July 18, 2007

    Sheesh, what about the story of Noah and the Flood, if we want bible stories that have been ‘proven’ false?

    Modern Geology says “There was no worldwide flood anytime in the last 70,000,000 years at the least”. There is absolutely NO evidence for the flood, and quite a lot of it against. (How DID all those marsupials get over to Australia, anyway..?)

    Going to tell us that that was a misreading? Ohh, it was an allegory, right? And you can tell that because..? And you know that all the OTHER stories are -not- allegory because..?

    Bah. Lie, shift goalposts, refuse to see what’s being explained, flail all you like, David. It’s obvious to … Well, it looks like to just about everyone but you, (funny that!), that you’re wrong. Like many others here, I’ve read the bible from cover to cover on more than one occasion, and studied several religions besides the one I was raised in.

    Once I started comparing them together, I realized that they really WERE all the same. Barring minor details, they all had the same basic underpinnings, forced the same sort of logical fallacies on all members, existed for the same reasons. (Forming a community of like minds and keeping that community away from any competing religions while indoctrinating all children into the cult as they grew up within it, A.K.A.: Control of the hearts, minds, and pocketbooks of its followers.)

    Flail all you like, but all it goes to show us is that YOU have logical disconnects. Yeah, well.. Good luck with those! Go ahead and pray for us, we’ll continue to *think* for ourselves.

    The Lesser of TWO Weevils!

  179. #179 Henry Holland
    July 18, 2007

    Beyond that, there’s a near universal resort to rhythmic and repetitive music and dancing to cause a sense of euphoria and detachment — from Santeria rituals in the Caribbean to dance clubs. Drugs and alcohol help, too. I’m no expert

    Um, I am. πŸ™‚ Last New Year’s Eve, I went to hear the Dutch DJ Armin Van Buren spin here in Los Angeles. I smoked a huge amount of pot beforehand –I couldn’t lift the bong to my gob any more– took a bus to the event (whew!) and once there downed a gin & tonic, beer and Red Bull in about 45 seconds. And that was at 11:30 pm — I had many more drinks during the night. Needless to say, I was really wasted.

    Anywho, about 3:00 am I had *that* feeling. Van Burin spins trance, which is electronic music that is repetitive rhythmically but varies a lot sonically. I was dancing and my mind went There, that out of body experience where I’m totally relaxed mentally and the music just seems to flow through me. It lasted for about a minute, but that’s all it takes, the memory of that feeling is enough.

    My mind also went There during a performance of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde at the Disney Hall earlier this year, during Brangane’s Watch. There’s many different ways to access that feeling.

  180. #180 kai
    July 18, 2007

    Re #126:

    Of course, like Martin Luther, when I didn’t like the sports I was made to play, I made my own up.

    Luther? Don’t you mean Calvin? πŸ™‚

  181. #181 Herman Cummings
    July 18, 2007

    The Athentication of Genesis is Coming!!

    On or before August 15, 2007, a book is scheduled to be
    published. It’s title is “Moses Didn’t Write About
    Creation!!”, written by Ephraim. The “Big Bang” and
    evolution theories, plus the doctrines of current creationist
    factions, shall be exposed as being in error.

    After fifteen years, the truth of Genesis will finally be
    available to the public, blowing all previous attempts to
    explain Genesis “out of the water”. This book will be the
    most notable biblical authentication since the Dead Sea Scrolls.
    It is the first and only book written that explains the difference
    between the “six days of Moses” and the “seven days of
    Creation Week”.

    It is also the only book to completely explain the events that
    lead to the Extra-Celestial Civil War, also known as “the
    war in Heaven”. Comprehensive coverage of the war is given,
    when it ended, and how it affected the ancient history of our
    universe.

    Finally, it explains the Messiahship of Jesus, and reveals how He
    was really half Judean (for royalty) and half Levite (for priesthood).
    It also explains to non-believers the sanctity of God’s marriage to
    Israel, and why Jesus had to die first before the gospel could be
    preached to gentiles.

    The ISBN is 1-4241-8220-4.

    Herman Cummings
    PO Box 1745
    Fortson GA, 31808
    Ephraim7@aol.com
    (706) 662-2893

  182. #182 tony
    July 18, 2007

    David: You may not be a dead horse, but I have an urge to flog you…

    I gave you the only answer that question deserves. Its an incredibly stupid question that about 5 minutes on the internet would solve. The fact that you even asked it shows that you have a dismal understanding of the Bible.

    What.an.ass!

    I *have* read the bible, and many other ‘religious’ books…. I *do* understand the trinity in christianity, and I understand that from your posts that you *do not*.

    Cite the verse where it says that ‘GOD IS TRIPARTITE’. I can cite you many that say otherwise, such as…
    – “Thus said Jehovah, king of Israel, And his Redeemer, Jehovah of Hosts: `I [am] the first, and I the last, And besides Me there is no God.” Isa 44:6

    – “You are My witnesses, says Jehovah, and My servant whom I have chosen; that you may know and believe Me, and understand that I am He. Before Me no God was formed, nor shall there be after Me. I, I am Jehovah; and there is none to save besides Me.” Isa 43:10-11
    – “It was shown to you so that you might know that Jehovah is God, and no one else beside Him.” Deu 4:35

    We can all (with the help of the internet) quote scripture… So – please ‘enlighten’ me with your erudition and scholarship (since that is what you impugn in me) and provide citations for YOUR statement that christianity has THREE GODS (or will you now retract your earlier statement….)

    I *know* that christianity argues for the ‘equivalence’ of the three aspects of god as presented to man…. but they are not separate gods! You have ONE god. That god is three-faced! (Gods can do that, apparently). There is no direct evidence in your holy book that states – with the same lack of equivocation as ‘one true god’ verses – that there are three gods.

    three ‘aspects’ does not make christianity tri-theistic!

    Try again.

    I think yo god will get a mite angry if he thinks you’re preeching some heresy!

  183. #183 Keith Douglas
    July 18, 2007

    tony: I dunno, but these days people probably email and IM in tongues …

  184. #184 Steve_C
    July 18, 2007

    Athentication? Something to do with Greece?

    War in Heaven? Damn, god is a poor dictator/omnipotent being/all that is love…

    He lets war happen in his domain?

    Can’t these people get thier myths straight?

  185. #185 Rey Fox
    July 18, 2007

    “After fifteen years, the truth of Genesis will finally be available to the public”

    It’s been in peer review all this time, you see.

  186. #186 Bob
    July 18, 2007

    I have a friend who claims to be able to speak in tongues. I asked him what it sounded like, and he rattled off a bunch of gibberish syllables, sounding vaguely arabic-ish. I asked him if he knew what he was saying (because I certainly did not get any “Gloryhole of God” message in my native tongue). He told me NO. He vomits sounds, and they are good. He has no idea, like anyone else, WTF it means. So perhaps, like some people with prayer, all they get is a warm fuzzy – but that’s all they can get.

    New laws? When an atheist person* discusses the actual content of the babble with a True Believer, the probability that the TB will declare portions that undermine their position as allegory and portions that support their position as Literal God’s Word, approaches one.

    *I prefer this construct (‘atheist’ as an adjective vice noun) because it eliminates potential for the -ism aspect.

  187. #187 tony
    July 18, 2007

    New Rule: (Apologies to Bill Maher)

    Batshit supporters of woo may not use a book they or their co-followers have written as evidence in support of their woo.

    To paraphrase for the Davids of the world, and to be perfectly clear and unambiguous: The bible is *not evidence* – it is a collection of stories written by *lots* of people, and *edited* by lots more. Evidence of god may.not.be.of.human.origin! I can write any shite I want (see Scientology) and call it a religion. That does not make it the received word of god!

    He vomits sounds

    isn’t this what they do anyway?

  188. #188 tony
    July 18, 2007

    It is the first and only book written that explains the difference
    between the “six days of Moses” and the “seven days of
    Creation Week”.

    difference = 1 day.

    Extra-Celestial Civil War … [aka] …war in Heaven

    Wouldn’t that simply be the celestial war then?

    and if Jeebus was

    half Judean … and half Levite

    which half of that was god, then?

  189. #189 David
    July 18, 2007

    tony

    1. I do not believe in tri-theism. Try to deal with what I actually say, and not what you want me to say. Its a favorite trick of the fundamentalist I know, but it doesn’t mean you have to use it.

    2. Try actually reading a book on the trinity. And not just an atheistic book. One who actually approaches the subject with any degree of scholarship

  190. #190 Brownian
    July 18, 2007

    Having a conversation about religion on this board is a pointless exercise. I could have more fruitful conversations with a brick wall.

    David, why are you still here? Are you lonely?

    You’re not getting anything out of this conversation. You’ve stated time and time again that we don’t know anything. If the supermarket shelves are bare, why wouldn’t you find somewhere else to shop?

    Now please leave us be. You know we have an evil atheist evolution conspiracy to keep up in the face of overwhelming evidence of the one TRUE God of the Holy Bible, and that takes a lot of work. Besides, we’re scared of honest questioning, like all cowardly atheists.

    Have some Christian Compassion? for us, won’t you?

  191. #191 Rey Fox
    July 18, 2007

    “I do not believe in tri-theism.”

    Of course not. That would be crazy.

  192. #192 David
    July 18, 2007

    David, why are you still here? Are you lonely?

    No.

    You’re not getting anything out of this conversation. You’ve stated time and time again that we don’t know anything. If the supermarket shelves are bare, why wouldn’t you find somewhere else to shop?

    A Great fundamentalist argument. I can’t tell you how many fundamentalist Christians have used this. By the way, I have stated repeatedly that you may very well be quite intelligent in non-religious areas. But then again, mis-interpreting what people say is pretty much a hallmark of fundamentalism. The fact that you might derisively call me saying it a “law”, doesn’t make the fact that you are acting like a fundamentalist Christian any less true.

    Have some Christian Compassion? for us, won’t you?

    You have no understanding of Christian compassion. Which is even less surprising than your ignorance of religion.

  193. #193 Wolfhound
    July 18, 2007

    “On or before August 15, 2007, a book is scheduled to be
    published. It’s title is “Moses Didn’t Write About
    Creation!!”, written by Ephraim. The “Big Bang” and
    evolution theories, plus the doctrines of current creationist
    factions, shall be exposed as being in error. ”

    So, will that be in the “Humor” or the “Fiction” section of my local mega-book mart?

  194. #194 Brownian
    July 18, 2007

    David, I am going to ask you one (1) question, and I want you to answer the question. Please do not go into what I might or might not know about religion or anything else, because that is irrelevant. This question is about you.

    You said, “having a conversation about religion on this board is a pointless exercise.” If that is the case, then hat do you hope to achieve by continuing to post here?

  195. #195 tony
    July 18, 2007

    David

    1. I do not believe in tri-theism.

    I *do* apologise — I mis-represented – you said “trinitarian” not “tritheistic”…. (that was Berlzebub at 74)

    OK — but you do believe in the trinity…. so explain to me what the following means (which I *think* represents the Christian view of the Trinity):

    God the father.
    God the Son.
    God the Holy Spirit.

    Is that ONE god, or THREE gods, or three ASPECTS of one god, or….

    If it’s *aspects* – what does ‘Jesus sits at the right had of the father’ actually mean? How does god sit next to himself? Is this another one of those ‘allegories’?

    Was the seat always vacant (during OT) or was jeebus simply ‘on the bench’ waiting for his turn at bat? (The Holy Spirit had a great old time in the OT, but he didn’t appear to *do* much other than act as a messenger boy – not so much an aspect, as a PA. Same in the NT)

    Sorry — still seems like a lot of woo to me.

    2. Try actually reading a book on the trinity. And not just an atheistic book. One who actually approaches the subject with any degree of scholarship

    Ahh, yes – that would, of course, be theological scholarship (since you’ve arbitrarily denied any ‘athiestic books) – which (even for Jesuits) starts with the premise that god exists, and that the trinity exists. Arguing from a tautology does not make for a sound, or compelling argument.

    Sorry – not going to happen (again). Been there. Done that. Read the (multiple) books. declined to buy the t-shirt.

    Anything else we can interest you in, sir? We’re all out of beholden, but we have an excellent line in batshit-0and-woo detectors… not on sale, and you need to work for it, but it’s worth it, I can tell ya!

  196. #196 Bob
    July 18, 2007

    It’s very simple – cheeses was half-Levite, half-Judean, and half-god. See?

    And is David really Blake, trying to get his law into common usage? πŸ˜‰

  197. #197 Steve_C
    July 18, 2007

    He’s like an annoying rugby fan coming onto a american football forum and admonishing us for not knowing the rules of rugby.

    Do we care? Nope. Is it relevant? Nope.

    David. Religion is bogus regardless of it’s source, history or teachings.

    We just don’t care.

  198. #198 David
    July 18, 2007

    Why do I post here? I find it amusing that so many atheists who think that they are standing up for “reason”, “the truth”, or whatever, act like the worst fundamentalist Christians. I think that PZ, though perhaps knowledgeable about evolutionary biology, has a dismal ignorance of even the most basic aspects of Christianity, and that he doesn’t mind “twisting” the truth a bit to stand up for his version of the “truth”.

    And I suspect that like some, I simply have some free time.

    tony,

    Any book that does not automatically start out with the assumption that the Bible is “batshit” would be fine with me. Any book that starts off with the assumption that the Bible is false obviously will reject the trinity. But of course, to you, I bet that seems absolutely impartial and objective.

  199. #199 Oxytocin
    July 18, 2007

    David, back for round 2! You’re resilient, I’ll give you that.

    Ok, so, I’ll make my request a second time: can you please provide your rationale for believing that god exists in the first place? I think that might go a long way to helping all of us understand where you’re coming from. Again, since you state that you value reason and evidence, I would like to know how your belief in the supernatural fits into your worldview, and how you’ve progressed from atheist to theist. I know this isn’t an easy question to answer, but I think you might agree that it’s an important one. We need something to “bridge the gap”.

    With regard to your comment above that people on this site are generally ignorant about Christianity…I must say that I respectfully disagree. I would say that there is knowledge being displayed here that is above and beyond what I have found from the common Christian [in my experience]. And, at the end of the day, what is the larger problem in the United States: that atheists don’t know enough about Christianity, or that Christians don’t know enough about atheism?

  200. #200 PZ Myers
    July 18, 2007

    Umm, the trinity isn’t in the bible. Even if you assume the bible is 100% accurate, you can reject the trinity with impunity.

  201. #201 Bob
    July 18, 2007

    David, if you find the bible impartial and objective, I am sure you are willing to include the Q’ran, the various Vedas, Dianetics, et cetera et cetera into “scholarly discussion”, and let’s go and toss in every last oral tradition as well (that’s the origin of your chosen source book, you know).

    For a starter exercise, can you prove that the earth is NOT atop a giant turtle?

    Thanks, I eagerlty await your open-minded response.

    As my brother like to say, keep an open mind, just not so open your brains fall out.

  202. #202 Jason
    July 18, 2007

    David,

    I’d still like to know how you came to be a theist after previously being an atheist. What happened? Was it some personal “religious experience” that converted you? A rational argument for theism you found persuasive? Or what?

  203. #203 Brownian
    July 18, 2007

    Thank you very much for answering my question, David.

  204. #204 slim
    July 18, 2007

    I think that PZ, though perhaps knowledgeable about evolutionary biology, has a dismal ignorance of even the most basic aspects of Christianity…

    David,

    Why should PZ (or any atheist) need to know anything about Christianity to reject it all as false? It is helpful to know a bit about the Bible if you are challenging someone on its veracity/consistency/morality, but one doesn’t have to know the Seven Sacraments or the difference between a Cardinal and Venial sin to reject the whole of Catholicism outright (millions of protestants do it every day).

    Would a Christian have to study the Q’uran and the interpretive works of Islamic scholars, and perhaps even take a course in Islamic theology, in order to reject Islam?

    Arguing with a Christian about the finer points of theology to me makes about as much sense as arguing the motivations of a fictional character in a book; it might be interesting from a purely cultural/literary standpoint, but otherwise has no bearing on the real world. It’s not something anyone needs to know, and you don’t need much outside knowledge to discuss it because it’s all fantasy anyway.

  205. #205 David
    July 18, 2007

    Slim…

    Why should I need to know anything about biology to reject it all as false? Or physics? Why should I give any serious thought to anything before rejecting it?

    I am not saying that you have to know the details. I am saying you should know the basics before you reject it all. Things like, “the trinity isn’t in the Bible” fall under the definition of “basics” to me.

    I have had no “religious experience”.

    I do not believe that God can be scientifically proven, or even scientifically argued very well.

    I do think that there are good philosophical arguments. (Not proofs).

    If you want to discuss the Quran, Vedas, Dianetics and such, feel free. I ask only that when it comes to the Vedas and Dianetics you give me some time to do research.

    And to answer a question that was asked a long time ago, I am not entirely certain the Exodus was ever meant to be considered a historical accounting of events. (Yeah, yeah I know. Its one of your laws. Doesn’t make it any less possible).

    Oxtyocin,

    In regards to your comment about the amount of knowledge about Christianity possessed by the “common Christian”… you are unfortunately right.

  206. #206 David
    July 18, 2007

    As a piece of completely irrelevant information, I am currently pursuing my PH.D in computer science. My research is predominantly in cryptography, though I try to do some research in statistical learning/AI. No published papers yet though, unfortunately.

  207. #207 kmarissa
    July 18, 2007

    Why should I need to know anything about biology to reject it all as false? Or physics? Why should I give any serious thought to anything before rejecting it?

    If you want to discuss the Quran, Vedas, Dianetics and such, feel free. I ask only that when it comes to the Vedas and Dianetics you give me some time to do research.

    So can we assume that you DO accept the Vedas and Dianetics, if you haven’t studied them enough to reject them?

  208. #208 Oxytocin
    July 18, 2007

    David, first, you seem evasive on the evidence and reasons for belief in a supernatural force. Since you deny having had a religious experience [which might be deemed too personal to include in a forum such as this], I am somewhat puzzeled as to the reason you are choosing to dodge this important question. What philosophical proofs to you find convincing?

    What we have is this: you have acknowleged that you cannot “scientifically prove or argue” god’s existence, and you have torn a strip off Behe and Dembski for faulty evidence/reasoning…this seems to me to be inconsistent, would you agree or disagree? Should all of our beliefs not be held to the same standard? To be frank, I think we all have rubbish knocking about in our heads that simply hasn’t been challenged, and may never be. However, it appears that you, unlike many Christians, have done some thinking about your beliefs. Just wondering if you’re sufficiently critical of these beliefs? No doubt we’re all guity of that to some extent.

  209. #209 Oxytocin
    July 18, 2007

    Apologies, part of my comment was unclear:

    “What we have is this: you have acknowleged that you cannot “scientifically prove or argue” god’s existence, and you have torn a strip off Behe and Dembski for faulty evidence/reasoning…this seems to me to be inconsistent, would you agree or disagree?”

    I meant to say that belief in a deity that cannot be proved, coupled with intense criticism of other non-scientific ideas is inconsistent.

  210. #210 Jason
    July 18, 2007

    David,

    I do think that there are good philosophical arguments.

    Which philosophical arguments do you think are good? Are those arguments what converted you to theism, and more specifically to Christianity? Or was it something else (and if so, what)? Or a combination of philosophical argument and something else? Or what?

  211. #211 Steve_C
    July 18, 2007

    David is a fundamentalist atheist when it comes to Tor, Wotan or Zeus.

    Does he believe in Satan too?

  212. #212 T_U_T
    July 18, 2007

    I do think that there are good philosophical arguments. (Not proofs).

    Could you tell us one… just one … pleeeeaaaaseeee …
    ( Beware ! if it won’t be a good one, we will rip your head off, and play bastetball with it πŸ™‚ )

    Why should I need to know anything about biology to reject it all as false?

    This is a straw man par excellence. Nobody claims that no knowledge about religion is needed to refute it. We merely observe that all religions suffer the same basic errors, no matter how different mythologies they have. So you don’t need to know much of a particular myth to debunk it as a delusion it is.

  213. #213 David
    July 18, 2007

    kmarissa

    You may assume whatever you wish about me. I think you should assume that I have no particular opinion about them whatsoever.

    Oxytocin

    Partially it is a length issue. It is not just one argument.Nor is it as simple as many pop-apologists today often make it sound.

    It would be nice if everything was provable to the extent that science and mathematics allows. I do not believe that is the case.

    I would disagree that I am being inconsistent (surprised?).

    As for specific arguments you have probably heard many of them before… although probably not well argued.

  214. #214 Stephen Wells
    July 18, 2007

    I see David is resorting to the “You have to learn the whole Dungeons and Dragons Players’ Handbook before you can decide if kobolds are real” tactic.

  215. #215 David
    July 18, 2007

    I see you are resorting to limiting your intelligence to the point where all you can think about is your dismissive “tactics” and “laws”. Just like a fundamentalist.

  216. #216 kmarissa
    July 18, 2007

    I think you should assume that I have no particular opinion about them whatsoever.
    So you don’t reject them?

  217. #217 T_U_T
    July 18, 2007

    enough of your rhetorical contortionism, david.
    We want to see your “good arguments”. Do you have some ? Or are you just pulling our leg here ?

  218. #218 David
    July 18, 2007

    I do not know enough about either to make categorical rejections or acceptance.

    Now, if you want my opinions on them:

    1. If (as I think is true) Dianetics is the “science” behind Scientology, it is a bunch of bull.

    2. The Vedas more then likely contain a great many truths. What specifically they are, I do not know.

  219. #219 Scholar
    July 18, 2007

    Dammit, just dislocated my shoulder…

  220. #220 Oxytocin
    July 18, 2007

    David, if you believe that you can argue the philosophical points better than the authors we may have already encountered, I would encourage you to take the time to do so. In fact, if you believe you have such talents, and if you believe that a relationship with the deity is consequential, it might be argued that it is your moral imperative to do so. Maybe there’s a book waiting to be written. I would simply urge you to avoid making arguments like “it would take too long”, or “it’s not simple”. Imagine how much time you’ve spent here already…devote that to a coherent self-consistent statement on the reasons and etoloigy of your beliefs, and we’d be getting somewhere. This is, in my opinion, better than spending time putting out fires started by angry diatribes.

  221. #221 T_U_T
    July 18, 2007

    sorry for the flood of typos Im too tired to proofread

  222. #222 kmarissa
    July 18, 2007

    Now, if you want my opinions on them:

    1. If (as I think is true) Dianetics is the “science” behind Scientology, it is a bunch of bull.

    Based on your prior comment, I think it’s fair to assume that you haven’t read L. Ron Hubbard’s book on the subject. If not, then I don’t see how you can have the opinion that it is a “bunch of bull” without sounding like a hypocrite. After all, you’ve been calling everyone here “ignorant” about the Bible (although most of us have probably read more of the thing than your average Christian), and implying that this somehow means we are acting “like the worst fundamentalist Christians” when we say that, yes, the Bible is a bunch of bull.

  223. #223 David
    July 18, 2007

    Oxytocin

    It depends on which authors you have encountered. If you have gone no farther than Josh McDowell/Lee Strobel then most certainly yes (for instance). There are others which I do not think are often read nowadays, to which I do not hold a candle to.

    But I will say this. I have often thought about creating a blog, not only for issues of a theological/philosophical nature, but to talk about cryptography and security in general. I have stalled on that, due simply to time constraints. However, such a place would in my opinion be the best place for this. But overall, it will take time. I simply cannot avoid this fact, no matter how much you want immediate answers.

  224. #224 David
    July 18, 2007

    kmarissa, it is simply my opinion. That is it. You do know that an opinion is different from claiming knowledge on something, yes?

  225. #225 kmarissa
    July 18, 2007

    kmarissa, it is simply my opinion. That is it. You do know that an opinion is different from claiming knowledge on something, yes?

    Wow, David. It’s really interesting that you seem to have totally forgotten what you said to PZ way back at the beginning of the comment thread:

    –They say there is. I don’t think I believe them.–

    That’s nice that you have opinions. For a guy who is supposed to be standing up for “truth” I would think you would go a little farther to find the “truth” of the matter.

    Well David, it’s nice that YOU have opinions. For a guy who is so pedantically deaf to conversational nuance that you took the above statement literally, I would think that YOU would go a little further to find the “truth” of the matter and read the damned book before calling Scientology a “bunch of bull.”

    But it may put your mind at ease a bit to know that the reasons you call Scientology a “bunch of bull” are probably more or less the same as the reasons atheists find all of religion to be so. More of us have probably read the books, but really, we don’t need to.

  226. #226 Oxytocin
    July 18, 2007

    David, I think we can all agree that Lee Strobel is the worst sort of apologist [or near to it].

    Again, though, if you ask an evolutionary biologist to present his/her evidence for evolution, you can get a list of things that they find persuasive. Similarly for other fields. You need not write a book on each point to communicate with us. I think this constitutes a significant problem for people who believe in the supernatural…if the reasons for believing are so convoluted and complex that they cannot be adequately communicated [at least in cursory fashion], then we have to ask if Ockham’s Razor needs to be applied. There’s also the risk of simply stating that it’s too complex for non-believers to understand. Since I doubt that the intelligence of a believer is higher than the intelligence of a non-believer, I fail to find that argument compelling.

    All I’m asking is for you to put your neck out there and say something like:

    “I fancy the cosmological argument”, or “Pascal’s wager floats my boat”, etc.

    You must understand that by repeatedly failing to provide the basis for your beliefs, you risk giving the impression of vacuity. That may not be the case at all, but your arugments [without a firm foundation} will likely simply create a loud “thud” as they hit the ground, leaving the quiet chirping of crickets in their place.

  227. #227 arensb
    July 18, 2007

    daenku32:

    I was reminded of some chain email that said you cannot lick your elbow

    Unless, of course, you’re Gene Simmons.

  228. #228 David
    July 18, 2007

    Tell me kmarissa, do you think PZ was just giving his opinion there? Or do you think that he actually thinks that he’s done enough studying on Christianity that his opinion should be taken seriously?

    I think that he is taking his opinion, and confusing it with knowledge.

    I am not under that particular mistake in regards to dianetics. I know it is just my opinion. You are free to accept it or reject it as you wish, just as you are free to accept or reject my opinion that cookies and cream ice cream tastes good.

    You are right. I do need to go farther and do more investigation onto scientology. Just as you need to go and do more investigation into Christianity.

  229. #229 Ichthyic
    July 18, 2007

    I think that he is taking his opinion, and confusing it with knowledge.

    nice bit of projection on your part.

    nothing more.

  230. #230 tony
    July 18, 2007

    PZ; AFAIK the only place the trinity is mentioned/alluded_to is at the end of the lord’s prayer in the name of the father, the son, and the holy spirit/ghost. Nowhere is a specific entity known as ‘the trinity’ nor the concept ‘trinity’ specifically addressed.

    David; perhaps you’d like to enlighten us with a specific citation, to correct our erroneous thoughts.

    Also;
    1. if a book does not *start* with the premise that god exists, where does it get god from?
    2. If your bible never specifically mentions the trinity, and all else is hearsay, where should a scholar seek evidence to support a claim of ‘trinitarian godhood’?

    Thanks awfully. Been fun. Must do this again sometime.

  231. #231 kmarissa
    July 18, 2007

    David, first you tell ME, as you have refused to do for this entire thread, whether you actually believed that PZ thought that entirely all aspects of the two religions are identical: all the stories, religious texts, everything. Your behavior is akin to me overhearing some religious righter compare Planned Parenthood with the Nazis, and then jump up and down about how the Nazis were GERMAN, and PP is not. I’d look just as bad if I were to do that, because I would be wilfully misunderstanding their point, regardless of how much I might disagree with it.

    That said, of course it is his opinion. It is “a view, judgment, or appraisal formed in the mind about a particular matter.” Want a tip-off? It’s somewhere in the “I don’t think I believe them” part.

    And for someone who has screamed so much about other people making assumptions, you have absolutely no idea how much I know about Christianity. Again… hypocrite.

  232. #232 tony
    July 18, 2007

    David:

    Just re-read some of your later posts. Sorr. When I said earlier that you were an ass…. I was wrong.

    You are a horse’s ass.

    1. pedantry
    2. complaints about lack of ‘evidence’ for specific claims, yet never providing any for your own
    3. pedantry
    4. projection
    5. elitist pedantry (I have good arguments…. just too long to share — HAH)

    David – I offer you my *educated* opinion, along with specific quotations supporting a viewpoint but you offer none for yours. You state that I am obviously uneducated yet I fail to see where that is obvious. Is it that I disagree with a pedantic pseudo-scholar?

    I am not a Christian. I am not arguing *for* a theistic viewpoint. *you are*. Yet you seem unable to offer anything constructive to the dialog!

    I am an athiest. Many of the people who frequent this blog and post comments are athiest. Others are at least interested in understanding or challenging our athiest viewpoints.

    You, however, appear to be nothing more than a troll.

    you know it’s bad when you wish for The Physicist or Caledonian!

  233. #233 Kagehi
    July 18, 2007

    You know.. I have to wonder David, if you just entirely missed some comments. You know, from the people that **where** fundamentalist Christians at one time. See, these people **have** in the past described the long, difficult process that they went through from the restrictive, lie filled, hypocritical world they started in to where they are now. They make it quite clear that the first step is actually reading the Bible, the second is wondering if the one they read *is* correct and finding that in fact it isn’t, which leads them to reading the works of “real” scholars on the subject, who it turns out have yet another different interpretation of the Bible and God than any and all religious institutions seem to advocate or practice, then they read other works, realize how similar they are, then read histories behind them all, and realize that they liberally steal from each other, etc. Finally, they come to the conclusion that there is not one scrap of evidence to support the idea that any of it has been handed down from on high and are forced to stare out of the cave mouth, into the blinding sunlit world and conclude that there doesn’t in fact appear to be some figure outlined against the horizon waiting for them. **They, when they choose to do so, can and have given a clear and detailed story of how they came to be atheists, or in lesser cases, agnostic. Why the hell should I reject their stories in favor of yours, when all you are willing to come up with is, “Its too hard, complicated or time consuming, and you are all too stubborn to listen anyway!”? Or, was I too close to the mark? After all, you won’t even mention the names of any of these great scholarly works you have read. Strangely, by comparison, we have been dropping various names of books, which **many** of us *have* read, all through the thread.

    You might as well be the founder of Mormonism babbling about the magic tablets in his hat, for all that you have given us on scrap of information on how you got to your conclusions or proven that you are not just lying about having read anything yourself. You can’t even seem to quote parts of the Bible to support your own contentions about things like trinity, when we have no problem quoting things from it when necessary. Who should we conclude hasn’t “read” it then?

    As for the sub thread on speaking in tongues.. Been there, done that, never noticed it doing a damn thing for me. But then maybe that’s because I started doing it as a child to play act being a space alien, not to, “transcend to a higher mental state”, or what ever they claim it does… Guess I am just not doing it right or something. lol

  234. #234 tony
    July 18, 2007

    Kagahi

    you got me thinking seriously (again) about speaking in tongues…

    Perhaps someone (more scholarly) could answer this for me: If glossallia is actually, truly ‘pentecostal’ then shouldn’t it confer an actual, real ability to imbue understanding in the listeners (leastwise during the ‘performance’)? i.e. The speaker, while in mode, says whatever — everyone who listens would understand EXACTLY what was said, and in their own native language!

    I’m sure it would be fairly simple to set up trials to *prove* or *disprove* — it seems so widespread!

    However — I have a feeling that this is nothing more than the verbal equivalent of *jacking off* — anything for a quick buzz.

  235. #235 kmarissa
    July 18, 2007

    Tony,

    I was wondering that too. Having heard several people speak in tongues, I can report that I didn’t understand a thing. Perhaps they were only REALLY speaking in tongues when I didn’t realize it.

    But I think you can probably file that whole thing under the “Christians not reading the Bible” category. I doubt many of them connect their “speaking in tongues” with the Pentacostal speaking in tongues.

  236. #236 tony
    July 18, 2007

    [indignant splutter]but… kmarissa

    According to David it’s athiests who don’t read the Bible. Christians (like David) read and understand the Bible so thoroughly they don’t even need to provide citations for their statements
    [/indignant splutter]

    πŸ˜‰

  237. #237 kmarissa
    July 18, 2007

    I’m sorry Tony. You must not have realized that that was my opinion, which is just my point of view, not to be confused with my OPINION, which is a point of view that David doesn’t like.

  238. #238 DingoDave
    July 18, 2007

    I think the Bible scholar Robert Price neatly summed up the doctrine of the trinity with a few pithy and illuminating comments on the subject.

    -“What is the meaning of the trinity?
    Oh I can tell you very easily. The trinity means sit down and shutup! The idea is something you cannot understand. It is designed to provoke you into giving up on understanding and saying something like: Ok, Father So and So is right! The Grand Inquisitor is right! I’ll just mortgage my freedom of thought to them.”

    -“The trinity is like Cerberus with three heads.”

    -“Trinitarianism is a ‘have your cake and eat it too’ solution to the problem of having 3 gods, but wanting to be monotheists.”

    – “Trinitarianism? : Does God want us to believe six impossible things before breakfast like the Queen in ‘Alice in Wonderland’, or does he want repentance?”

    I’m not sure what more needs to be said about the matter.

  239. #239 tony
    July 18, 2007

    Thanks DingoDave!

    I am ever in your debt!

    (Non negotiable. Non transferable. No cash equivalent)
    πŸ˜‰

  240. #240 tony
    July 18, 2007

    kmarissa

    Thanks for clarifying. I’d *hate* for you to be compromised into a difficult position with David…. His rhetoric is so special

    πŸ˜‰

  241. #241 DingoDave
    July 18, 2007

    Dear Tony,
    Happy to have been of service.

  242. #242 D.Bheemeswar
    July 19, 2007

    We have to thank god for creating human beings like us. It is the humans brain that has to evolve more to be realistic and looking the things more and the other life including the other humans as humans. Whatever be the religion/region/place God is same one and one only for all. Only the names are different. We are actually misutilizing the natural elements for gaining more and more materialistic rather than just using the lements to the least possiblr requirements. Almost everybody is over utilizing the religious card and also racial card. Is this is evolution I do not think so. Nor any body who have brain can agree for such over utilization, and not only spoiling the atmosphere but also the minds of the humans. bringing disatsre to the whole life on this earth. Who is responsible for this, almost evrybody those who calls themselves as leaders of the world.

  243. #243 Kagehi
    July 19, 2007

    Sorry Bheemeswar, but the only people that can possibly argue that all gods are the same god are people that don’t know a damn thing about any other religions, and instead just *want* it to be true, so they can claim that somehow they found the one “truest” version of the magic man’s own words. I know the idea of popular among those that think it means something and can somehow *fix* all the problems, but its complete BS.

  244. #244 D.Bheemeswar
    July 20, 2007

    Dear Kagehi,

    Thanks for the message. If some body says truth this is what others call “BS”. Scientifically speaking there is no truth in the existence of GOD. But spiritually speaking as it is individual’s experience, and individuals instances there is GOD. First of all we are all human people, probably and why not mostly born at different places, if you have taken in my place that is India you also might have experienced the way I have. In other case If I have taken in your place I also might have behaved like you may experience like you. The philosophy of spirituality is built like that. One thing I am sure that we are all influenced by the surrounding personal or place or customs and traditions that are prevalent. That’s why I have said that the brain of the humans makes the difference. Since we think that we have brain that makes the difference. If you have read about gospel of Swami Vivekananda, he said that living for others happiness is the best service that one can render to the humanity. Jesus Christ was against the bonded labour, even he sacrificed his own life for others, in front of bulldozing people. If take Prophet Mohammad case he preached that the whore should be treated as human, he also sacrificed his life, others have beaten him with stones. It is the history. Mahatma Gandhi was killed for preaching for restraining the persons for killing each other’s on religious chord. Abraham Lincoln is also killed under such circumstances. There are a lot of number of examples for this inhuman activities whether it is racial or religion or region or sect or sub sect.
    It all shows only one thing that it is the brain of human which does not accept the truth, he has traveled far away from ground realities, that is every life is as important as ours to the Nature to continue the life on this EARTH.

    I once again thank you for your comments

  245. #245 Jim. Collins
    July 20, 2007

    Jesus did not say, believe in the Trinity and thou shalt be saved. He did mention a power from God that He called The Holy Spirit. Surely a God that made everything you see with your eyes and hear with your ears can provide a Spiritual aspect of Himself that ‘whispers’ to the mind, those things that can make a person a better Christian. Or, inspire the apostles to write their recollection of the events of Christ’s life while living here on earth. Commonly known as the Gospels. The Holy Spirit inspired this because a history of those events are very important for Christians today, about 2000 years after the Death of Christ.

    God is able to manifest Himself in MANY different ways. He chose to condense them into something that humans could more easily comprehend. Christians have made something simple into something complicated and food for arguments.

    God—Father
    Holy Spirit—an invisible manifestation of God
    Christ—A true human that was resurrected as a human manifestation of God

    PS: No one will be LOST if they don’t understand the full manifestations of God, so why waste time arguing over it. God would have us doing other VERY important things.

  246. #246 Hank
    August 22, 2007

    I hope I don’t step on too many toes, but you have been thoroughly trolled by “David”, who with hardly any claims except some lazy (and easily refuted) nitpicking has been able to milk comments out of you for days. It’s an excruciating read.

  247. #247 Daniel Pech
    February 13, 2008

    If humans were originally made to live unfallen lives in an Edenic environment (no death and no want of food, etc.), then the instinct of self-promotion in a fallen world is nothing but a desire to attain a forfeited Eden. The question is whether an individual has or gains the grace to forego becoming a tyrant (or to what degree and in regard to what things).

    Tyrany is a function of personal triashe, a willingness to force one’s own needs and wishes ahead of the needs and wishes of others.
    But, the true story of the leading men aboard the sinking Titanic proves that tyrany has no power over love.

  248. #248 Louise
    March 14, 2008

    Another New age attempt to water down Christianity and lead us away from the truth. EVERYONE BEWARE. Please do your own research and look into “evolution of consciousness” Search on the computer for Barbara Marx Hubbard, Marianne Williamson, and Eckhart Tolle who is getting so much publicity for his book “The New Earth”. This isn’t one or two people preaching individual messages but these people are all interconnected. Learn for yourself PLEASE and spread the word.

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