Pharyngula

Dysfunctional family circus

And I do mean dys. What a horrible scene to come upon, and even worse, what evil chaos to have lived it:

A bed had been pushed up against the door; the officers pushed it open a few inches and saw Marquez choking his bloodied [three year old] granddaughter, who was crying in pain and gasping, Tranter said.

A bloody, naked 19-year-old woman who police later determined to be Marquez’s daughter and the girl’s mother was in the room, chanting “something that was religious in nature,” Tranter said.

The elder Marquez was tasered to stop him from strangling the child, and later died of unknown causes (although tasers are dangerous, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the cause of death).

And what, exactly, were these people trying to do to the kid? It was an exorcism. They were trying to purge the poor little girl of nonexistent malign spirits, when what she was probably afflicted with is an insane family.

What’s saddest about this story isn’t that the lunatic grandfather died; it’s that the bloody, naked fanatic who had the privilege to have this child was not arrested, and may still have custody. If she had anything to do with this crazy ritual, I hope someone gets the kid away from her soon.

Comments

  1. #1 Blake Stacey, OM
    July 30, 2007

    As Hector Avalos says, “Religious belief X, therefore act of violence Y.”

  2. #2 Mike O'Risal
    July 30, 2007

    What’s saddest about this story isn’t that the lunatic grandfather died; it’s that the bloody, naked fanatic who had the privilege to have this child was not arrested…

    I’ve gotta quibble with you just a little bit here. The saddest part of the story is that we’re into the 21st century and there are still people in this world who so believe in fairy tales that they’re willing to crush the ribs of three year olds based on their beliefs. Second saddest is that this kid is very likely screwed for life, first by likely lingering emotional trauma and second by the likelihood that she’ll either find herself with equally insane relatives or some series of foster homes until she reaches the age of majority. I’d go with third place for the mother not being arrested. It appears her mental health is being looked into now; that it would take an incident like this one for that to happen says something about the state of mental health care, too.

    I shouldn’t read stuff like this first thing in the morning. It makes me want to crawl back into bed sometimes. I wish I could believe that this kind of thing would just stop happening within my own lifetime…

  3. #3 Bill Dauphin
    July 30, 2007

    Hah! The commenters got out ahead of you on this one, PZ… though the instant I saw this story, I knew it would be a topic here.

    What’s saddest about this story isn’t that the lunatic grandfather died; it’s that the bloody, naked fanatic who had the privilege to have this child was not arrested…

    As I’ve already noted, she may yet be, and in any case, despite being a mother, she was still a 19 year old girl living with her 42 year old father: I’m betting she wasn’t sensibly in charge of what went on in that household.

    That doesn’t mean, of course, that she should retain custody — you don’t have to be a criminal to be an unfit parent — but I think it’s at least possible that she’s a victim of the “old” man’s religious obsession, as much as (if not more than) she is a perp.

  4. #4 forsen
    July 30, 2007

    Ironically, it seems perfectly clear to me how people can believe in metaphysical evil when confronted with atrocities like this one. It indeed seems implausible that anything in this world could make someone do that to a three-year old, or any other child.

  5. #5 MAJeff
    July 30, 2007

    It indeed seems implausible that anything in this world could make someone do that to a three-year old, or any other child.

    One look at the past couple centuries of human history should knock that sense of implausibility right out of your head. We’re a cruel species.

  6. #6 dr.filbert
    July 30, 2007

    every time i read one of these stories i think the problem isn’t that we have too many abortions in this country; it’s that we don’t have enough.

  7. #7 Graculus
    July 30, 2007

    We’re a cruel species.

    Compared to what?

  8. #8 LM
    July 30, 2007

    I want to know why they thought a three year old was infested by demons in the first place.

  9. #9 Bill Dauphin
    July 30, 2007

    Re dr.filbert @#6:

    Yeah, that or at least rational sex education. Either way, it’s hard to imagine a (presumably single) 16 year old would choose to become a mother if she had adequate information and a sense that she actually had choices in the matter.

  10. #10 Janine
    July 30, 2007

    Kristine posted this story last night at her site. I made a crack that she will be called intolerant for being against ‘exorcism’. Sure enough, someone started the argument the ‘exorcisms’ should be allowed if it is consensual.

    Now lets see if the same kind of argument rages here and if it will go past one hundred statements.

  11. #11 forsen
    July 30, 2007

    One look at the past couple centuries of human history should knock that sense of implausibility right out of your head. We’re a cruel species.

    That is, of course, true…. and infanticide is by no means unusual in the animal kingdom. Still, this kind of cruelty towards children isn’t exactly standard behaviour A1 for most of mankind… most people do, after all, react with shock and disgust towards events like this one. It’s an anomaly, not the norm.

  12. #12 Tom @Thoughtsic.com
    July 30, 2007

    Perhaps even more oddly, the grandfather here actually thought he had the means of performing an exorcism. Maybe the spirit of Caucasian Christ compelled him!

    What I find most interesting about these stories is how quickly religious organizations denounce the actions. Sadist Catholics think they’re eating Caucasian Jesus. Evangelicals believe in these very demonic spirits. But Jesus’ communication is only real if it happens to them.

  13. #13 bernarda
    July 30, 2007

    The story doesn’t say who the father is. It couldn’t be the grandfather by any chance, could it? Like in “Chinatown”.

  14. #14 jlm II
    July 30, 2007

    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro:

    Fr. Gabriele Amorth (born May 1, 1925) is an Italian Roman Catholic priest and the senior exorcist of Vatican City.
    Amorth was born in Modena, Italy in 1925. He was ordained a Roman Catholic Priest in 1954 and became an official Vatican exorcist in June 1986 under the tutelage of Father Candido Amantini.[1] He is a member of the Society of St. Paul, the Congregation founded by James Alberione in 1914.[2]

    In 1990, he founded the International Association of Exorcists and was president until he retired, at 75, in the year 2000. He is now honorary president for life of the association.[3]

    Amorth authored two books specifically on exorcism. The publications marked a defining moment in literary history, being the first public documents to treat this subject. The two books An Exorcist Tells His Story and An Exorcist: More Stories are not official Roman Catholic documents, rather personal accounts of his office, as Exorcist. The books use witness accounts and personal experience as evidence.

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

  15. #15 LM
    July 30, 2007

    I wonder how many of the “exorcised” were actually just epileptic…

    (LM = epileptic)

  16. #16 craig
    July 30, 2007

    “It indeed seems implausible that anything in this world could make someone do that to a three-year old, or any other child.”

    That’s the kind of comment that always gets me. When people characterize behavior as “inhuman” or violent criminals as “monsters>”

    Violence is very human. Extreme violence is one of the things we’re best at.

    The top five most common human behaviors are breathing, eating & drinking, sleeping, fucking, and killing each other.

  17. #17 DaveX
    July 30, 2007

    “I want to know why they thought a three year old was infested by demons in the first place.”

    Clearly, you’ve never had a three-year-old. Only demons could enjoy Teletubbies quite that much.

  18. #18 LM
    July 30, 2007

    “Clearly, you’ve never had a three-year-old. Only demons could enjoy Teletubbies quite that much.”

    Pshaw. Everyone knows that BARNEY is the anti-christ…

  19. #19 Mike O'Risal
    July 30, 2007

    The top five most common human behaviors are breathing, eating & drinking, sleeping, fucking, and killing each other.

    Oddly enough, almost everyone I know has engaged in the first four and not once in the fifth. I’d hazard a guess that most people in the world have never killed anyone and have no desire to do so, whereas their desire for the other four functions you list is a daily occurrence.

  20. #20 jlm II
    July 30, 2007

    Apparently, little girls are particularly tough. This is a fascinating interview:
    http://www.thecatholiclibrary.org/Documents/orders/ssp/article1.php

    What is the most difficult case [of exorcism that] you have ever met?

    Fr. Amorth: It is one I am “treating” at this moment, and that for two years now. It is the young girl who was blessed – it was not a true exorcism – by the Pope in October, at the Vatican, and whose case caused a great stir in the press. She is buffeted twenty-four hours a day and is the victim of unspeakable torments. The doctors and psychiatrists can make nothing of this. She is completely lucid and very intelligent. A truly sad case.

    It gets better:

    Don’t you ever feel afraid of the demon [PZ]?

    Fr. Amorth: Me, for that animal? It is he who should be afraid of me; I act in the name of the Lord of the world. But as for him, he is nothing but God’s monkey.

  21. #21 procyon
    July 30, 2007

    “(although tasers are dangerous, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the cause of death).”

    This just shows how much an atheist knows. The death was obviously caused by The Demon. This is what happens when non-believers meddle with the Lords’ work.

  22. #22 Bob
    July 30, 2007

    “She is buffeted twenty-four hours a day and is the victim of unspeakable torments.”

    Well if those catlicks would just back off, she could maybe get some peace.

  23. #23 Kseniya
    July 30, 2007
    We’re a cruel species.

    Compared to what?

    Ummm… Danaus plexippus?

    Bernarda (#13) I confess the same thought occurred to me almost at once. There’s quite a bit of ?ncest in my own family history, so the thought does not require any great leaps of imagination.

  24. #24 Kseniya
    July 30, 2007

    Oh. LM (#18) ye must not mention his name, lest ye summon him! Tis safer to refer to him by one of his many other names, such as B’harne.

  25. #25 Bob
    July 30, 2007

    So the demon is god’s monkey? Then isn’t exorcising said monkey o’god going against god’s will? Acting in mysterious ways and all that. Why oh why don’t their heads explode?

  26. #26 forsen
    July 30, 2007

    Of course the demon is god’s monkey… the bible is perfectly clear as to where demons come from in the first place.

    And the evil spirit from the LORD was upon Saul, as he sat in his house with his javelin in his hand: and David played with his hand. (1 Sam 19:9)

    http://bible.cc/1_samuel/19-9.htm

  27. #27 Mark
    July 30, 2007

    It’s so frustrating to see so many of the reports put the word “exorcism” in quotations. Oh, ok. It wasn’t a real exorcism. Real exorcisms are performed by professionals with extensive training.

  28. #28 Graculus
    July 30, 2007

    Ummm… Danaus plexippus?

    Obviously you aren’t a milkweed…. 😉

    We often hear about how “violent” we are as a species, but we manage to get through days, weeks, months and years of our lives without getting into physical altercations. How many people do you interact with every day without blows being exchanged?

  29. #29 atlliberal
    July 30, 2007

    For a bit of historical perspective take a look at the National Geographic site.

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/07/070726-devil-england.html

  30. #30 obscurifer
    July 30, 2007

    A little pruning of the family tree may help this girl achieve her potential.

  31. #31 Bob
    July 30, 2007

    Just imagine if the god botherers didn’t believe in repercussions from on high. That appears to be the only motivation they have for not killing and raping and looting and on and on…

  32. #32 Debbie
    July 30, 2007

    From #10:

    Kristine posted this story last night at her site. I made a crack that she will be called intolerant for being against ‘exorcism’. Sure enough, someone started the argument the ‘exorcisms’ should be allowed if it is consensual.

    “Consensual”? How would that work? Would the demon need to agree to be exorcised? Presumably, he’s a part of the process, too. Does he have to sign a form? Does he need to be over 18? Can he sue if the process goes wrong?

  33. #33 Ed Darrell
    July 30, 2007

    Here’s an exorcism where the cops got there on time, and so far has a bit happier ending (except the city council member is still practicing her woo in office, I suppose . . .):
    http://www.wftv.com/news/13681617/detail.html

    The death of the supermarket tabloids may keep us from ever knowing the facts.

  34. #34 Scotty B
    July 30, 2007

    On a lighter and mostly unrelated note:

    The Nietzsche Family Circus
    http://www.losanjealous.com/nfc/

  35. #35 Dan
    July 30, 2007

    The scary thing is that, in these twisted people’s lives, it makes perfect sense to strangle a three year old girl. A dead child is a demonless child in their screwed up heads.

  36. #36 Ed Darrell
    July 30, 2007

    P.Z.: “scene”

  37. #37 Kseniya
    July 30, 2007

    Dan, they weren’t trying to kill the child – they were trying to save her, by choking out the demon.

    I’m sure the man would have stopped short of killing or even injuring her. </mordancy>

  38. #38 The Pacifier
    July 30, 2007

    Call it an ‘exorcism’ if you must… of course this term invokes feelings of pride in the brighty brights as this story will no doubt validate a sense of self superiority while lending conformation to a held belief that religion or more precisely, a ‘faith’ or ‘belief’ in ‘God’ is at the very root of all the violence and atrocities that humans bestow upon each other… or call it attempted murder via strangulation. Let’s get real, remember the lady who drown her (5) kinds in the bath tub? Oh sure she went off her meds….. but I’m pretty sure she heard ‘voices’ telling her to do it. Same with the woman who drove her car full of children into a lake…. Or what about the father who threw his 4 year old daughter into a t.v. subsequently killing her because…. ‘she wouldn’t stop crying’…. I’m sure if we dig deep enough…. Wade threw all the ‘postpartum blues syndrome’ bullshit what we will find are people killing children because they believe in ‘God’.

    Am I right brighty brights……?

    Of course I’m right…..

  39. #39 Steve_C
    July 30, 2007

    Religion is at the root of delusion and irrationality.
    Which can lead to violence… with the right justification
    all violence seems permissable.

    Do you deny that christians believe in possessions, demons and the devil?

  40. #40 Kseniya
    July 30, 2007

    Pacifier:

    I’m not quite sure what you’re getting at.

    Officers responding to a report of an exorcism on a young girl found her grandfather choking her and used stun guns to subdue the man, who later died, authorities said Sunday.

    The relative who called police said an exorcism had also been attempted Thursday.

    “The purpose was to release demons from this very young child,” said Sgt. Joel Tranter.

  41. #41 LM
    July 30, 2007

    “Postpartum blues syndrome” BULLSHIT?

    Who are you, Tom Cruise?

  42. #42 Spanish Inquisitor
    July 30, 2007

    The odds are pretty good that the 19 year old mother experienced her own exorcisms at an earlier age, which probably explains her state of mind. The 3 year old got out early, and alive. Her future actually bodes well.

    And I understand that B’Harne comes as a dinosaur of peace.

  43. #43 One Eyed Jack
    July 30, 2007

    Oh come on, let’s be fair. Every good Christian knows these people weren’t ‘real’ Christians. ‘Real’ Christians know the Bible doesn’t say anything about literal, body possessing demons. What’s that? It does? Hmmm, OK scratch that.

    Well, a ‘real’ Christian wouldn’t harm a child and certainly wouldn’t try to kill… oh wait, forgot about the Old Testament.

    Well, I’m not sure how, but this definitely wasn’t the work of a ‘real’ Christian. ‘Real’ Christians don’t do those sorts of things. He was probably some sort of godless atheist pretending to be Christian.

    We can always pray that he had time to ask forgiveness before he died so he can receive his heavenly reward. That will certainly make everything right again. If we just sit on our asses and pray enough, everything will be alright.

    On a serious note, this is a sad sad story, with or without the religious overtones. Just thought I would get a jump on the apologists.

    OEJ

  44. #44 Kristine
    July 30, 2007

    Kristine posted this story last night at her site. I made a crack that she will be called intolerant for being against ‘exorcism’. Sure enough, someone started the argument the ‘exorcisms’ should be allowed if it is consensual.

    He didn’t call me intolerant, though. Crandaddy and I have some interesting and respectful discussions.

    To whit, I don’t believe that the state should be figuring out if an exorcism is “consentual,” but preventing the behavior. I don’t see exorcism as merely a “religious ritual,” in the same manner as praying or taking communion. Besides, it’s my understanding that most exorcisms are nonconsentual anyway (because the person is “possessed,” you know).

    It could be that mental illness is involved here – however, since they didn’t take the woman into custody, they can’t evaluate her. If she’s sane she should be prosecuted, and lose custody of the kid, no doubt about it. We can’t tolerate this kind of crap.

    I really hate stun guns – they’re terribly dangerous, and it seems like they don’t stop those who are mentally ill and/or out of control, anyway. This is the latest of many deaths – including a Somali man in Mpls who had mental problems and some mixed-up kid yelling “I want Jesus!” at officers. As far as I’m concerned there’s no difference between the police having stunned these people and having shot them with a regular gun. I’m not sure that the cops had much choice in this situation, but let’s stop pretending that stun guns are “nonlethal means.”

  45. #45 Sarcastro
    July 30, 2007

    Right? You’re not even lucid Pacifier.

    Anyways, when I was a kid I met Father William Bowdern (there’s an Alexian’s monastary/hospital near my home) who was the senior priest present at the exorcism that The Exorcist was based on. Alas, I was far too young to talk to him about it.

  46. #46 Kseniya
    July 30, 2007

    LM, I believe Pacifier is saying quite the opposite.

    Pacifier is not advocating those positions. He is sarcastically implying that most commenters here will ignore obvious mental-health explanations for many of these atrocities IF it the incident offers an opportunity to bash religion and the religious (therefore we are all hypocrites, I guess.)

    However, there’s no indication (yet) that this guy was mentally ill. Oops, I meant to say “mentally disordered.” There is no indication that this was anything more than an attempted exorcism. Why Pac is calling anyone to task for referring to it as such, I can only speculate. Could it be that he’s trolling for emotional responses?

    Naaaah.

  47. #47 One Eyed Jack
    July 30, 2007

    I guess I wasn’t fast enough. Pacifier beat me to the apologetics bandwagon.

    It’s always interesting when “religious” people do bad things. The apologists are quick to point out that what they did had nothing to do with their religion. However, when someone who is religious does something good, the same people claim they did it because they are good (Christians/Muslims/Hindus/Pastafarians).

    Why is it that the religious association only works in one direction? Very convenient, isn’t it?

    OEJ

  48. #48 The Pacifier
    July 30, 2007

    What I’m getting at is….. out of all the stories of children being abused, hurt or murdered… this one makes it to this blog ‘obviously’ because it includes an element of ‘religion’; after all this act of intentional harm was (presumably) committed in the name of ‘God’. So this story caters to the audience (here) who would have you believe that ‘religion and or the belief in ‘God’ are at the root of all things “evil”…. (yeah I know…. we can debate if there is really such a thing as “evil” at some other time). So when I read the story I’m saddened that such an innocent child would be subject to this horrible act of violence. But I’m equally disturbed that those who comment here can’t see the forest through the trees…. this has little to do about religion and or the belief in ‘God’ and everything to do with an obvious mental disorder, biological in nature and no doubt treatable through medication. Like I’ve said before; if the concept of ‘God’ was non-existent, I do wonder in whose name the killing would be taking place…. Perhaps Money… Love… Power… Greed… Oh wait a minute….?

    Bottom line…. This site as well as many others on both sides of the ‘God’ debate serve only as fuel to the fire for what is already, a bloody war over ideology. I see no benefit in pointing out others ‘so called’ delusions’.

  49. #49 raven
    July 30, 2007

    A bloody, naked 19-year-old woman who police later determined to be Marquez’s daughter and the girl’s mother was in the room, chanting “something that was religious in nature,” Tranter said.

    Gee, I didn’t know that you had to get naked and cover yourself in blood to do an exorcism. My childhood mainstream protestant church never told us that.

    Come to think of it, they didn’t seem to believe in the demon theory of mental illness or exorcisms anyway.

  50. #50 Kseniya
    July 30, 2007

    I should add that it might behoove us all to contemplate, in the safety and privacy of our own heads, the extent to which Pacifier’s intended point has any validity.

    Likewise, I should add that it might behoove Pacifier to contemplate, in the safety and privacy of his own head, the extent to which religion feeds the delusions and drives the behaviors of the mentally ill, and whether or not that suggests that embracing religious beliefs and engaging in religous activites are behaviors whose risks are prohibitively high.

  51. #51 commissarjs
    July 30, 2007

    It’s so frustrating to see so many of the reports put the word “exorcism” in quotations. Oh, ok. It wasn’t a real exorcism. Real exorcisms are performed by professionals with extensive training.

    There’s no profession, no matter how vapid, that the proper uniform and licenses cannot make respectable.

    I’m always amazed that in the 21st century people still believe in magic. Reciting the proper words in conjunction with the proper material components will force the evil spirt out! Or signify that you are bat-shit insane, whichever comes first.

  52. #52 Kseniya
    July 30, 2007

    Geez, Pacifier, why didn’t you start with #48 instead of laying out the sarcasm as an opening argument?

    this has little to do about religion and or the belief in ‘God’ and everything to do with an obvious mental disorder, biological in nature and no doubt treatable through medication.

    You don’t know this. You could be right, and if it was you or me choking the demons out of a little girl I’d hope that we’d be restrained and airlifted straight to Bedlam without a moment’s hesitation. Still, I repeat: We don’t know this. Heinous acts beyond number have been committed in the name of God (or Allah – need I say more?) by otherwise clear-headed individuals. This is undeniable.

  53. #53 Bob
    July 30, 2007

    pac, this story made it to this blog because the snooze media chose to pipe it around. I read this literally moments before opening pharyngula, on my ISP home page. It’s of interest because it is a symptom of the greater problem that religon justifies anything.

    There is as yet no established explanation of who has what mental disorder in this tragedy. But there are people practicing crazy ass religious ceremonies all over this country. Will you say all the snake handling christers have mental illnesses when one of them dies from a rattlesnake bite? How about all the self-flagellating religios? Would they really do that if they weren’t kissing Hank’s ass?

  54. #54 Chaoswes
    July 30, 2007

    Insane is insane. Religion merely allows insane people to indulge in their fantasies without people criticizing them for being batty. These people would be insane without religion.

  55. #55 llewelly
    July 30, 2007

    I really hate stun guns – they’re terribly dangerous …

    It’s not stun guns we should hate – it’s people who think they’re a harmless way of subduing someone. (Of course, if such people are overwhelmingly the majority of users, further stun gun restrictions, or even a ban, may be the only useful policy responses – but I’d prefer to see further efforts at education before giving up on stun guns entirely.) At this point, stun guns appear to place the subdued at greater risk of injury or death than manual subdual, but less risk than firearms. In the context above, the situation is complicated by the presence of the 3-year-old, who is at risk by either manual or stun gun subdual. I don’t know which is the greater risk, so I don’t see any lessons about stun-gun to be drawn from this isolated incident (aside from the obvious ‘sometimes they don’t work’ which is of little use without knowing the frequency of failures).

  56. #56 Kseniya
    July 30, 2007

    Like I’ve said before; if the concept of ‘God’ was non-existent, I do wonder in whose name the killing would be taking place…. Perhaps Money… Love… Power… Greed… Oh wait a minute….?

    Yes, yes – we’re a cruel species. We all know full well that our distant ancestors were smashing helpless tyrannosaurs over the heads with heavy rocks and clubs just so they could then pry the coconuts from their cold, dead reptilian jaws. But is recognizing that there are multiple motivating factors behind selfish and violent behaviors a reason to decline to address any of them?

  57. #57 LM
    July 30, 2007

    Re: stun guns…

    I don’t know if this matters to anyone, but my father in law is a retired cop and told me that all police officers are required to be tazered (is that a word? No matter…) before they are allowed to carry the thing on the job – I suppose this is so they can experience for themselves how much it sucks to be zapped with the thing, and give them pause before using it.

  58. #58 Chris
    July 30, 2007

    However, there’s no indication (yet) that this guy was mentally ill.

    You mean other than his belief in the reality of demons, the effectiveness of exorcisms, and his willingness to injure a child based on those beliefs?

    Yeah, I have no idea why someone might consider him mentally ill.

  59. #59 Chaoswes
    July 30, 2007

    One of my friends is an animal control officer and he had the option to get zapped, which he did. Others did not and they still got the guns. He did say that he would never use the damn thing because no man or animal deserved that kind of treatment. He went from excited about the prospect of using it to never using at all. It takes is a simple heart defect for the shock to kill. This was never discussed in his stun gun training class. Many police officers are told that “it will do no lasting harm.”
    In essence, they lied about its possible dangers because then the officers would not use them.

  60. #60 Bob
    July 30, 2007

    I think there is tasered and there is tasered. One zap versus several would probably make a big difference to your CNS, as well as precisely where contact was made. Being tased by two tasers at once would surely be another significant factor, as well as any possible meds the victim is on.

    When I’ve seen video of taserings, it’s one zap in a controlled setting with cushions and spotters, if it’s cops in training, and it’s zap zap zap zap zap if it’s real world. And zap zap again for good measure. Not so controlled, not so non-lethal.

    The trade is, do I want to physically wrestle this dude (where he might win, or my gun might discharge, or maybe he has a knife), taser him (which might not subdue him and might kill him), or open fire with my peacemaker (which could easily miss or go through him and harm someone uninvolved). I for one am glad I don’t have to make that choice, but someone made the excellent point that it isn’t really non-lethal. Hell, a fist isn’t always non-lethal, It’s just that the cops are in less danger that way.

  61. #61 Bill Dauphin
    July 30, 2007

    It could be that mental illness is involved here – however, since they didn’t take the woman into custody, they can’t evaluate her.

    I wouldn’t be so sure. Though I couldn’t find it in the story PZ linked to, the version of the story I read (apparently the same wire service story, but edited differently) said that mother and daughter had both been hospitalized. I don’t know what injuries they might have had (neither version of the story said much about where all that blood had come from), but presumably if the mother was hospitalized, some sort of mental status examination would be part of the drill… especially since the cops are still considering charges against her.

  62. #62 The Pacifier
    July 30, 2007

    But is recognizing that there are multiple motivating factors behind selfish and violent behaviors a reason to decline to address any of them?

    Posted by: Kseniya | July 30, 2007 01:07 PM

    No… where would be the entertainment value in that? Listen, we will agree that ‘belief’ is indeed the # 1 culprit behind a countless number of heinous acts. Which ‘belief’ takes the lion’s share…? I don’t know… but I think I can safely say that the overwhelming motivating factor behind the violent things people do is that which they ‘believe’ is in their own self-interest. Unless you’re a ‘suicide bomber’ I don’t think the belief in ‘God’ is the main motivating factor. And of course the ‘suicide bombers’ do garner a lot of media attention… (to their credit… it’s working) but they’re still a relative minority when compared to violence on a global level.

  63. #63 Kseniya
    July 30, 2007

    Chris (#58) You win! I knew someone would cough that one up within a few minutes of my post. 😉

    You’ve touched the kernel of the debate… at least, the one that rages here. Religion=Delusion. It’s just a question of degree, then, isn’t it? Is it only a matter of time before “Holds Religious Beliefs” shows up in the DSM?

    1. Jesus died for our sins, et cetera.

    Mostly harmless.

    2. Jesus died for our sins, etc. and anyone who doesn’t believe that will burn in hell for eternity.

    Mostly harmless, but… ouch!

    3. Jesus died for our sins, etc. and anyone who doesn’t believe it will either come to believe, or be put to death.

    Not quite so harmless.

    Same belief, though, eh? More or less? What defines the illness: the underlying belief, or the willingness to act?

  64. #64 David
    July 30, 2007

    –You’ve touched the kernel of the debate… at least, the one that rages here. Religion=Delusion.–

    Just out of curiosity, do you realize that if you are right, and Relgion = Delusion, how many people you have just called deluded?

    You know, I get annoyed when a Christian fundamentalist claims any sort of special knowledge/special mental ability. But fundamentalism is fundamentalism even if its atheistic. “Everyone else is deluded… except for us. We get it. We’re the smart ones”.

    But that’s all right. I know you view me as just another deluded theist. Just as I view you as just another deluded fundie.

  65. #65 Seamus Ruah
    July 30, 2007

    “Marquez was placed in handcuffs after a struggle with officers and initially appeared normal, but then stopped breathing, Tranter said. He could not be revived and was pronounced dead at a hospital.”

    Clearly it was the work of the demon…good demon, yer getting a cookie for that one.

  66. #66 Steve_C
    July 30, 2007

    Anyone who believes in a deity or an afterlife is deluded.

    They are accepting something based on absolutely no evidence whatsoever.

    They may be mildly deluded. But deluded none the less.

    That they may be offended by that reality isn’t my problem.

  67. #67 LM
    July 30, 2007

    David, I believe that discussion has been had here before. I think you are assuming that the word “deluded” carries with it a negative connotation… I think all that Kseniya is saying is that a person is deluded if s/he believes something for which there is no sound, scientific evidence (and isn’t that the definition of faith?). So in that context, yes, anyone who believes in a god would be, in fact, deluded.

  68. #68 The Pacifier
    July 30, 2007

    Anyone who believes in a deity or an afterlife is deluded.

    They are accepting something based on absolutely no evidence whatsoever.

    They may be mildly deluded. But deluded none the less.

    That they may be offended by that reality isn’t my problem.

    Posted by: Steve_C | July 30, 2007 02:04 PM

    Oh come on steve C… That might be all fine and dandy but, ask yourself what you ‘believe’ but cannot prove. For example; do you believe the universe is infinite? Or do you believe that ‘life’ may exist elsewhere in the universe or multiple universes (if there are multiple universes). You see… belief in a creative force underpinning our existence a.k.a God is a belief by choice…. just as any other ‘belief’ is a ‘belief’. Get it? So you can say that people who choose (for whatever reason) to believe in that which is unknown are delusional… sure, but I think that would be inclusive of our entire species.

    You see to believe in anything requires well….. ‘belief’. Otherwise you simply “know” it. So, I do ‘believe’ it’s safe to say that you…. don’t ‘believe’ in anything…. Ya know, cause obviously you’re not “delusional”.

  69. #69 Steve_C
    July 30, 2007

    Some beliefs require FAITH.

    Some evidence or common sense.

    Numbers are infinite… so why could space be? Can I prove it? Nope. But common sense kind of leads you to the concept doesn’t it.

    Life elsewhere in the universe? Considering there are more stars in the universe than grains of sand… it’s VERY likely that life exists elsewhere. That it has knowledge of us… I’ve seen no evidence for that.

    Deities and afterlife require FAITH. FAITH=DELUSION. You have to really work hard to believe something for which there is absolutely no evidence.

    There’s a gigantic difference.

  70. #70 LM
    July 30, 2007

    Pacman,
    Even atheists aren’t immune to delusion! And I don’t think anyone is suggesting that. I for one firmly believe that there is a sock monster residing in my dryer. I have no evidence to support its existence other than the fact that I always seem to come up one sock short whenever I do laundry.

  71. #71 The Pacifier
    July 30, 2007

    And kseniya…… you would be better to ask if someday simply ‘holds belief’ will make it to the DSM.

    Let me ask you a simple question. If belief in God is delusional, is belief without God equally delusional? I’m not saying “belief that there is no God” I’m saying ‘belief’ in anything or anyone in general….. believing, to the best of your knowledge… taking into consideration the evidence and holding that belief even though you cannot prove what it is you’re subscribing to. The funny thing is…. I know atheists who claim there is no evidence of ‘God’ in nature…. and of course theists who claim (yep you guessed it) the evidence IS nature.

  72. #72 Bill Dauphin
    July 30, 2007

    Just out of curiosity, do you realize that if you are right, and Relgion = Delusion, how many people you have just called deluded?

    Billions. Worse yet, it would mean billions more are deluded than are not. But it’s not as bleak as it sounds, because we have to make a distinction between deluded and mentally ill. Stipulating that religious belief truly is a delusion, it’s a collective delusion, part of folk’s received culture. Most people who hold religious beliefs (or other popular superstitions, for that matter) do so because that’s what they’ve been taught, and not because they suffer from some mental disease that renders them incapable of reason.

    Thus, it’s possible to say “Religion = Delusion” without meaning “Religion = Crazy.” Which is not to say, of course, that some religious people aren’t really crazy.

  73. #73 Steve_C
    July 30, 2007

    No.

    Beliefs are not all the same. Their origins matter.

  74. #74 David
    July 30, 2007

    It seems that foundational to the idea that belief in God is “delusional” is the idea that belief in God is completely without evidence.

    It is one thing to say that belief in God is completely without scientific evidence. I would actually agree with this. Of course, if one believes that the only evidence which ever matters is scientific evidence then that’s one thing.

    But is that the only type of evidence out there?

    No.

    Yes, DEITIES and AFTERLIFE do require FAITH, as Steve posted. But its about the same amount of faith that Steve evidently has about life on other planets. In fact, I would go as far as to say that it takes more faith to buy into Steve’s argument, than it does to believe in a God.

  75. #75 Steve_C
    July 30, 2007

    Well, you’re wrong.

  76. #76 Bob
    July 30, 2007

    Oh right, forgot about all that completely unverifiable, yet way solid, evidence for your magic sky captain.
    /eyeroll

  77. #77 The Pacifier
    July 30, 2007

    No steve… you are wrong. You just stated that some beliefs require faith. I strongly disagree. All belief requires faith. We could perhaps argue as to how much of a ‘leap’ it’s going to take to solidify a belief but, nevertheless a degree of faith accompanies any and all beliefs.

    So now we can get into the evidence for justifying a particular leap of faith. As I mentioned above; you see no evidence in your own existence of a creator God…. others will see their own existence as the evidence of a creator God. Indeed…. Maybe perception really is reality… as quantum physics would suggest. What does it mean….? It means we don’t know much of anything….. we haven’t even made it out of our little bitty solar system yet and we have these fools who claim to “know” with certainly whether or not a “God” exists…..

    Phhht….

  78. #78 frog
    July 30, 2007

    Pac is obviously delusional. He seems to be unable to differentiate between a well-founded belief and ill-founded or unnecessary beliefs. You have two classes of well-founded beliefs, as per Wittgenstein: 1) normal beliefs based on a preponderance of good, logical evidence, and 2) fundamental beliefs (beliefs necessary for reason to work). The former includes such things as believing that the earth goes around the sun. The second includes such beliefs as I have a body – they are necessary for well-formed statements.

    Now, many (but not all) religious beliefs fall into neither category. It is not logically necessary to believe in a kosmokrater to make meaningful statements, and it has little supporting evidence. Evidence from aesthetics (look at nature!) are only valid within the realm of aesthetics, or to differentiate between two otherwise equally supported beliefs; it is not valid as a basic empirical support.

    But since we will always have a portion of the population who are unable to make those fine judgments (or don’t care to try), what should we do? Maybe the Euro’s have the right idea – stop trying to educate them, and just give it to them. Create some bland state religion under control of random civil servants, but dominated by the country’s business class. Give it a few centuries, and voila – basically dead religion. I bet even Iran will end up looking like Denmark if business goes well for 100-200 years!

  79. #79 Julie Stahlhut
    July 30, 2007

    Ummm… Danaus plexippus?

    Don’t underestimate their ferocity. I’ve seen ’em cannibalize their own siblings. Of course, they were under nutritional stress on an artificial diet, so it wasn’t anything personal.

    Now, Vanessa atalanta is another story. I’ve had them attack me in the woods, and they go right for the throat.

  80. #80 frog
    July 30, 2007

    And here we see how the “Pacman” is a dilettante who prefers radical subjectivism rather than hard thinking: “Maybe perception really is reality… as quantum physics would suggest.”

    Quantum physics suggests nothing of the kind. It describes an objective, external reality which depends, to a certain degree, on the observer. That degree can be calculated and formulated. On top of that, it does not depend on the subjective nature of the observer, but on the clear objective nature of the observer.

    It is no different in kind from relativity’s description of observation: it is relative to the observer, but OBJECTIVE. The quantum version adds in uncertainty, and works at different scales.

    I really, really hate it when people try to support fuzzy, subjectivist ideas by giving a half-digested and incorrect interpretation of physics. I won’t mutter about what Jesus meant by Eli Eli Sabacthani, if you stay out of science, OK pacman?

  81. #81 tony
    July 30, 2007

    David:

    We have evidence that life has occured atr least once in this universe…. We see a LOT of otyher p[laces in the universe that look awfully like this little corner that we personally inhabit… THerefore it is REASONABLE to assume that life exists elsewhere.

    Can you make the same argument for belief in deity or afterlife? All you have is what people have collectively decided is true… no different that any other ‘recieved wisdom’ it’s very often wrong, and occasionally dangerous.

    Steve_C’s argument is sound. your’s is non-existant (like your deity)

  82. #82 Steve_C
    July 30, 2007

    There’s a big difference in “faith” that the scientists are checking each others work and are basing their theories and evidence on solid data; and the faith required to believe that there’s a great super being that created the universe, knows everything and will judge you after you die.

    What makes sense.

    The other is quite absurd.

  83. #83 Tlazolteotl
    July 30, 2007

    Reading about this made me think immediately of Marcus Wesson.

    The mother would have been only 15 when she was impregnated; by whom? It seems plausible that she is a victim here as well.

  84. #84 Bill Dauphin
    July 30, 2007

    is belief without God equally delusional? ….. believing, to the best of your knowledge

    You’ve answered your own question, with what comes after the comma: “To the best of your knowledge” implies a rational, informally scientific thought process. Your “knowledge” is presumably evidence… maybe insufficient evidence for a rigorously scientific conclusion, but in any case believing something “to the best of your knowledge” is NOT the same thing as believing something because Magical Sky Father told you so.

  85. #85 Bob
    July 30, 2007

    Julie, you are completely justified in shooting vanessa atalanta, just make sure you say “It was coming right for me” just before you shoot.

  86. #86 Moses
    July 30, 2007

    Oh come on steve C… That might be all fine and dandy but, ask yourself what you ‘believe’ but cannot prove. For example; do you believe the universe is infinite? Or do you believe that ‘life’ may exist elsewhere in the universe or multiple universes (if there are multiple universes). You see… belief in a creative force underpinning our existence a.k.a God is a belief by choice…. just as any other ‘belief’ is a ‘belief’. Get it? So you can say that people who choose (for whatever reason) to believe in that which is unknown are delusional… sure, but I think that would be inclusive of our entire species.

    You see to believe in anything requires well….. ‘belief’. Otherwise you simply “know” it. So, I do ‘believe’ it’s safe to say that you…. don’t ‘believe’ in anything…. Ya know, cause obviously you’re not “delusional”.

    Posted by: The Pacifier | July 30, 2007 02:21 PM

    I would say it’s interesting how you co-mingle unsupported, untestable “belief” (i.e. your favorite god delusion – Christianity, Hinduism, etc.) with beliefs supported by evidence and scientific processes. But it’s not interesting. It’s lame and obvious how you conflate the differences by stretching the underlying concepts into a sophomoric (and moronic) argument.

  87. #87 Steve_C
    July 30, 2007

    One makes sense…

  88. #88 frog
    July 30, 2007

    Moses: “would say it’s interesting how you co-mingle unsupported, untestable “belief” (i.e. your favorite god delusion – Christianity, Hinduism, etc.) with beliefs supported by evidence and scientific processes. But it’s not interesting.”

    Ah, I disagree! The Pacman is interesting, in the same way as any simple organism: as part of an ecosystem.

    His sophomoric epistemology (and I mean sophomoric – I believe I was a sophomore the last time I took it seriously, between drinking bouts) is an example of the classes of epistemologies. Radical subjectivism is very popular in the developed world – it’s a great excuse for narcissism and a bland, meaningless tolerance.

    Then there’s the traditional epistemology by tradition: whatever the ancestors believed is true. That one at least has time behind it, and it made sense when we all spent most of our time tending garden – in that case, it’s better to conserve accumulated knowledge than to risk it in refinement.

    But worst of all is the combo – when you have the upper hand, I get to believe whatever I want because it’s all in your head anyway, but when I have the upper hand, I’m going to cram my tradition down your throat! Put the two together, and you start to verge on fascism.

  89. #89 The Pacifier
    July 30, 2007

    Oh goody…. A true brighty bright chimes in. Yes frog…. You are correct, I am delusional but…. I do have a well-founded belief that you’re an idiot. Let’s break it down:

    You claim that I cannot differentiate between well-founded belief and ill-informed or ‘unnecessary’ belief. So I will assume that you are an self proclaimed authority on what beliefs should be considered “necessary” (or you bought and paid for that idea somewhere). Of course having the freedom to deem what beliefs are ‘necessary’ for ones own personal happiness and social prosperity… well, that’s not really ‘necessary’ either…..

    snoring…

    Oh and Denmark…..? Don’t make me laugh.

  90. #90 madjon
    July 30, 2007

    From the news report:

    The officers forced open the door enough for one to enter, leading to a struggle in which an officer used a stun gun on Marquez, Tranter said.

    After the initial stun had no visible effect, another officer squeezed into the room and stunned him. The girl was freed and passed through the door to the relative, Tranter said.

    If the attacker was strangling the victim, wouldn’t both be electrocuted? At least if the victim was earthed, like hanging on to a radiator or bare feet on a wet floor. I hope the cops chose an opportune moment.

  91. #91 David
    July 30, 2007

    –We have evidence that life has occured atr least once in this universe…. We see a LOT of otyher p[laces in the universe that look awfully like this little corner that we personally inhabit… THerefore it is REASONABLE to assume that life exists elsewhere.

    Can you make the same argument for belief in deity or afterlife? All you have is what people have collectively decided is true… no different that any other ‘recieved wisdom’ it’s very often wrong, and occasionally dangerous.

    Steve_C’s argument is sound. your’s is non-existant (like your deity)–

    Let’s see. Here. Poor grammar aside, do you make any real argument? You say it is reasonable to assume that life exists elsewhere because we know life exists here, and we see lots of other places that are similar to here. Ok… but its not the development of life here was a certainty. If it wasn’t certain, then it was only probable. Do you know the probability of life developing here? No… I don’t think you do. So your argument is not based on probability… really. Your argument is based on the fact that you, personally, find it reasonable. Well, I find it reasonable to believe that life does not exist on other planets. Why do I find it reasonable? Well, I find it reasonable for two reasons. 1 is the complete lack of evidence for such a claim. We have not seen any other life, we have not heard from any other life, we have no empirical evidence that any other life exists. Second, I regard the probability of life’s occurrence to be so low, that while I believe it might happen once, twice can be safely discounted to me.

    We both have faith here. You that life is probable enough, and I have faith that it is not that probable. Moreover, this is the same type of faith that I have in the existence of God. Not something that is completely proven by evidence, no. But not something for which there is no evidence either.

    Now, let’s go to your second paragraph. You say “all I have is what people have collectively decided is true”. In a way, any piece of knowledge can be described like that. The question is, “why did they decide that”?

  92. #92 Kseniya
    July 30, 2007

    David,

    Just out of curiosity, do you realize that if you are right, and Relgion = Delusion, how many people you have just called deluded?

    I have called anybody anything – I have only cited a prominent theme in the ongoing debate about religion that takes place on this site.

    If I am right? About what I said? Yes, I think I am right. If you follow the discussions here, you will see that “religion=delusion” is a commonly-made claim, and in that sense, I am correct.

    Do I realize….? Why, yes – yes, I do.

    As for what you think of me personally, I can’t honestly claim that I don’t care. However, don’t make the mistake of believing that you know enough about me to form a meaningful or accurate opinion. You’re welcome to your impressions, though, and feel free to adjust them as needed, and the more accurate your comprehension of my comments, the more accurate your impressions are be likely to be.

  93. #93 The Pacifier
    July 30, 2007

    Oh…. the brighty bright is on a roll. Yeah, o.k. froggy. Sorry for the poor analogy comparing the idea that ‘perception is reality’ to that of the particle wave duality. My bad smart guy….

    Oh… and BTW, I have no desire to occupy your ‘hallowed halls of institutionalized mental masturbation’.

    “I really, really hate it when people try to support fuzzy, subjective ideas by giving a half-digested and incorrect interpretation of physics”
    -frog-

    I hate it…. just hate it….. I mean I really, really, really, really hate it.

    Good God you’re a moron.

  94. #94 frog
    July 30, 2007

    Oh goody… an anti-intellectual! Big words scare you off Pac-man? You know, I didn’t insult you for not using big words, but I guess my assumption that you could understand them was way off. You know, if you want to say complicated things, you need to use big words — you can’t talk quantum physics in the same language you describe opening a pickle jar.

    And why is it that you find this reaction to big words among the same people you find the idea “I have the right to my opinion, and no one has the right to tell me it’s as dumb as a doornail?” A little intellectual insecurity perhaps?

    Now, pacman says: “You claim that I cannot differentiate between well-founded belief and ill-informed or ‘unnecessary’ belief. So I will assume that you are an self proclaimed authority on what beliefs should be considered “necessary” (or you bought and paid for that idea somewhere). Of course having the freedom to deem what beliefs are ‘necessary’ for ones own personal happiness and social prosperity… well, that’s not really ‘necessary’ either…..”

    You see the radical subjectivism? Pacman can’t tell the difference between beliefs that are needed to make sense of your statements, and just any old belief that makes you feel better — those are “necessary” by pacman’s lights. As dull as a rusty needle used as a nail, that pacman. And he can’t tell the difference between having a right to a belief, as in I’m not going to go over to pacman’s house and beat the crap out of pacman for peddling nonsense, and the right to have her belief respected. You have the right to mutter incoherently all you want — and I have the right to point out how inane and intellectually bankrupt it is, you dumwit!

    And you finally have to love the “So I will assume that you are an self proclaimed authority on what beliefs should be considered “necessary” (or you bought and paid for that idea somewhere).” How can you miss the point more completely? We’ve had smart guys thinking about this for centuries. We have an entire literature on this, we’ve worked out the mathematics of postulates and theorems, and all pacman can do is reduce it to “authority”. That’s all pacman can understand: the tension between self-ownership and authoritarianism. There’s no logic but solely power.

    See how quickly we descend into the fascist dynamic when we are reduced to radical subjectivism? That is, beside it being the refuge of college sophomores trying to piss off their professors.

  95. #95 Steve_C
    July 30, 2007

    Dare I use the D word again?

    Do we have evidence of life elsewhere? Nope. Do we say there IS life elswhere? Nope.

    Just that it is very likely. Given the number of stars in the universe and the evidence that planets have formed around other stars. That life exists outside out planet in at LEAST one other solar system is probable. In fact we might find it evidence of it in our own solar system.

    Life exists! It’s proven by our own existence.

    Gods however… are not just highly unlikely… they are infact highly improbable considering that they have never give us reason to believe in them.

    Only a deluded person believes there’s evidence of any kind for gods.

  96. #96 Kseniya
    July 30, 2007

    Julie, the Red Admiral does look ferocious! 🙂

  97. #97 Steve_C
    July 30, 2007

    And…

    Our ancestors were superstitious tribal barbarians, I wouldn’t put much validity in anything they believed or “witnessed”.

  98. #98 Brownian
    July 30, 2007

    Oh…. the brighty bright is on a roll.

    And previously, I thought it was only in junior high that to call someone intelligent is an insult.

  99. #99 tony
    July 30, 2007

    David:

    Based on your arguments I find it reasonable to believe that you arte truly delusional and have very few functioning neurons – it’s astonishing that you can operate a keyboard…

    regarding grammar: this is a blog, not a writing test. I should care to write perfectly well were the the desire and need to arise, but in circumstances such as these, a lesser form of language generally suffices.

    Or were you being pedantic.

    In any case: I have faith based on evidence. We’ve already seen evidence of organics in other stellar halos, and in ‘interplanetary’ debris falling to earth (although there are certainly cases of contamination in many).

    We have evidence of life occuring here on earth.

    Are you waiting for science to create self-replicating life in the lab? Then simply wait 30 years, give or take.

    Otherwise, stop conflating your ‘belief’ in a completely non-evidential sky-daddy with my ‘belief’ in the potential for extra-solar life, which at least has some evidence for it, and so far none against.

    To complete your last thought — “Why did they decide that?”. In the case of religion — mostly because their ‘betters’ told them to do so (cf 30 years war and the flip-flop of peasant religious affiliation according to the dictat of their current lord). I’m sure if you do some reading you will find plenty of ‘evidence’ that will demonstrate that religion, for the most part, is a traditional meme – in that is is inculcated in the young by parents and community.

    So my simply answer to your question: Because their momma done tol’ ’em to!

    OIther similar memes include political affiliation, sport affiliation, etc….

  100. #100 Brownian
    July 30, 2007

    To add to your argument, Steve, life is not exclusive to other life. The fact that life exists somewhere increases the possibility that it exists elsewhere.

    Unlike gods, of course, who tend to be jealous and exclusive.

    I’ve never met a believer in one god who is a believer in them all.

  101. #101 frog
    July 30, 2007

    Pacman: “Oh…. the brighty bright is on a roll. Yeah, o.k. froggy. Sorry for the poor analogy comparing the idea that ‘perception is reality’ to that of the particle wave duality. My bad smart guy….

    Oh… and BTW, I have no desire to occupy your ‘hallowed halls of institutionalized mental masturbation’.”

    Oh my God! What a brainless, scared child our little pacman is! Yes, your analogy between particle wave duality and perception is reality is stupid and incorrect. There is no such analogy. In the first case,
    you are proposing that there is no external reality apart from your perceptions – that only subjective reality exists. In the second case, your observations affect your measurements in an objective manner. There’s equations and everything! Completely different, even a college sophomore after hitting the beer bong could get it.

    Now what is more mental masturbation? Taking the ideas of other people seriously, applying well-tested systems of developing knowledge to them and comparing them with the external reality (even using BIG words when needed to describe them), or just saying “It’s all just how you feel,” like some kind of self-help book written by an ex-used car salesman? Yup, just keep touching yourself pacman, instead of actually grappling with big ideas that come in big words. Keep on reading your dime-store pop-novels on the Tao & Physics, rather than reading the serious works on either.

    Yup, just shout “Freedom!” and think that will get you anywhere but slavery, you tool.

  102. #102 Kseniya
    July 30, 2007

    For Iran to look like Denmark, they’re going to need a lot more than state religion and a good economy. I’m thinking L’Oreal.

    ThePacifier, FIWI I pretty much agree with Steve_C.

    Whichonedoesntbelongandwhy:

    1. I believe the sun will come up in the east tomorrow morning.

    2. I believe there is a reasonable likelihood of life-as-we-know-it elsewhere in the universe.

    3. I believe in a Supreme Being.

    4. I believe invisible fairies live in the blossoms of the irises under the kitchen window. They spread the dew on the grass each morning just before sunrise.

    Not all beliefs are created equal. Some are based on easily observed facts. Others are speculative extrapolations from existing bodies of knowledge. Others are… well, not so much.

    At least the fairy thing has the morning dew going for it. Heh.

  103. #103 David
    July 30, 2007

    –regarding grammar: this is a blog, not a writing test. I should care to write perfectly well were the the desire and need to arise, but in circumstances such as these, a lesser form of language generally suffices.–

    I mentioned your poor grammar because of another individual who writes for scienceblogs. It was a bit of a cheap shot, as it was unreasonable for me to expect that you had read that post. So I do apologize for that.

    –Otherwise, stop conflating your ‘belief’ in a completely non-evidential sky-daddy with my ‘belief’ in the potential for extra-solar life, which at least has some evidence for it, and so far none against.–

    You say your belief in extra-solar, (I like how you call it extra-solar. Wouldn’t want t be confused with extra-terrestial and end up like a UFO nut now would you?), life has “at least some evidence”. What evidence? A series of random facts does not evidence make. It’s the fact that some logically valid chain of reasoning exists that makes something evidence. Your reasoning… is non-existent. You simply find it reasonable to believe. Well, I find it reasonable to disbelieve. Am I not being reasonable for disbelieving in extra-terrestial life?

    –I’m sure if you do some reading you will find plenty of ‘evidence’ that will demonstrate that religion, for the most part, is a traditional meme – in that is is inculcated in the young by parents and community.–

    Ah, two of my favorite fundie tactics. First off, there’s the “If you really had the “knowledge” that I have, you’d agree with me”. Second, there is the atheist fundie tactic which basically says that people are religious only because they were brought up that way… which totally discounts all the later conversions to religious belief. Even from your vaunted, “rational”, atheism. For those, “of course”, the fact is that they were just too stupid, or didn’t really consider their atheism, or… whatever excuse you need.

    When in doubt, don’t bother fitting the theory to the facts, just fit the facts to your favorite theory. That’s the fundie way. You’re doing a good job.

    My belief in God has just as much evidence as your belief in extra-terrestial life. It is reasonable to believe, and to disbelieve.

  104. #104 David
    July 30, 2007

    Do you know the probability of life developing here? No…I don’t think you do.

    Are you claiming that you do? If so, please tell us what you think it is.

    Otherwise, no one here is interested in your claims of intellectual superiority.

  105. #105 Brownian
    July 30, 2007

    Whoops, I meant to address my comment to David, not to spoof him.

    Sorry about that David, and everyone else. That was unintentional.

  106. #106 LM
    July 30, 2007

    Can we please get back to the really pressing matter here? WHERE HAVE ALL OF MY SOCKS GONE???

  107. #107 David
    July 30, 2007

    Ah, I see the atheists have taken to the rather amusing tactic of using my own name. Perhaps you think people will believe that it’s me? Or are you just being childish?

    Anyway, Brownian (as that’s who I think you are), no. I don’t. And if you had the brain power of a rock, and the reading comprehension of a small child, you would realize that that was my point. I don’t, and neither does Steve. So his argument isn’t based on probability. Its based on the fact that he finds it “reasonable”.

  108. #108 David
    July 30, 2007

    Gee…

    Now I feel sheepish.

    Though I’m certain you won’t believe me, I didn’t see your last post.

  109. #109 frog
    July 30, 2007

    Kseniya: “For Iran to look like Denmark, they’re going to need a lot more than state religion and a good economy. I’m thinking L’Oreal.”

    Plus playboy channel, Captain Crunch cereal and PlayStation.

    I think the business guys can do it, if you give them time: a recent Newsweek was all up on make-up sales for both men and women in the “Islamic Republic”. The theocrats had to even give an edict against men wearing blush! Give ’em time – international business when given enough rein will turn any country into jabbering idiots glued to Law’N’Order and Skinamax. I have faith!

  110. #110 Brownian
    July 30, 2007

    LM, there is absolutely no evidence that Shiva hasn’t destroyed them, so that must be what the Pacifier and David believe.

  111. #111 raiko
    July 30, 2007

    David:

    Moreover, this is the same type of faith that I have in the existence of God. Not something that is completely proven by evidence, no. But not something for which there is no evidence either.

    I would really like to see this evidence.

  112. #112 David
    July 30, 2007

    Brownian, do you only accept scientific evidence as a reason for believing in something?

    Does it have to be empirical evidence for you?

  113. #113 David
    July 30, 2007

    Raiko, the same question I asked brownian.

  114. #114 Brownian
    July 30, 2007

    I’m tired of continually having to quote you theists to keep you from lying.

    David, the following quote clearly demonstrates your claim that you feel you have an idea of the possibility of life arising while you feel Steve doesn’t.

    Do you know the probability of life developing here? No… I don’t think you do. So your argument is not based on probability… really. Your argument is based on the fact that you, personally, find it reasonable. Well, I find it reasonable to believe that life does not exist on other planets. Why do I find it reasonable? Well, I find it reasonable for two reasons. 1…. Second, I regard the probability of life’s occurrence to be so low, that while I believe it might happen once, twice can be safely discounted to me.

  115. #115 LM
    July 30, 2007

    Great. Shiva is living in my dryer. Anybody know a good exorcist?

  116. #116 The Pacifier
    July 30, 2007

    Froggy….. what are these ‘big words’ you keep referring to….?

    Let’s get back on track. You keep throwing out ‘radical subjectivism’ (I’m guessing that this is one of the “big words” that you mention)…. But the discussion I was engaged in (before you so rudely interrupted) was centered on ‘belief’. What we believe and why.

    You see, truth and belief are uncomfortable words in scholarship. It is possible to define as true only those things that can be proved by certain agreed criteria. In general, science does not believe in truth or, more precisely, science does not believe in belief. Understanding is understood as the best fit to the data under the current limits (both instrumental and philosophical) of observation. If science fetishized truth, it would be religion, which it is not. However, it is clear that under the conditions that Thomas Kuhn designated as “normal science” (as opposed to the intellectual ferment of paradigm shifts) most scholars are involved in supporting what is, in effect, a religion. Their best guesses become fossilized as a status quo, and the status quo becomes an item of faith. So when a scientist tells you that “the truth is . . .”, it is time to walk away. Better to find a priest.

  117. #117 LM
    July 30, 2007

    David, I’m not speaking on their behalf, but yes, generally I am skeptical of something that isn’t supported by empirical evidence.

    Hell, I’m skeptical of some stuff that IS supported by empirical evidence! I like my hypotheses to be rigorously tested. 😉

  118. #118 Brownian
    July 30, 2007

    Not at all, David. There are other reasons to believe. I think empiricism is superior to many others, because it allows for some neat ways to reduce the influence of bias.

  119. #119 Steve_C
    July 30, 2007

    We could argue about what constitues life… single celled orgnaisms that can replicate?
    Plants or anyting organic? I wasn’t arguing highly advanced space travelling life… just life.

    We’ve seen life living in some very in hospitable places on our own planet. That lends credence to life existing elsewhere. It’s not even a stretch, to think there MIGHT be life.

    Yet here you are telling me that the concept requires faith.

    But there you are believing in the christian god that only exists in a bronze age mythology plagarized from egyptians.

    He’s more real to you than the possibility of mere life existing elsewhere.

    That’s delusion.

  120. #120 Brownian
    July 30, 2007

    Gee…

    Now I feel sheepish.

    Though I’m certain you won’t believe me, I didn’t see your last post.

    See, here’s a claim for which I have no empirical evidence, but I still feel inclined to accept as truthful.

  121. #121 raiko
    July 30, 2007

    To David:

    Hmm…certainly, empirical evidence is vastly superior to, say, personal experience. I can’t honestly say that I accept only empirical evidence all the time. So, what kind of evidence will you be showing?

  122. #122 tony
    July 30, 2007

    David:

    1. Thanks for the apology.

    2. Extra-Solar means not of this solar system. We can hypothesise about (extra-terrestrial) life elsewhere in this solar system (such as under europa’s ice) but the odds are long – since our only examples of life require a fairly narrow range of conditions which don’t readily exist elsewhere in this system – but in all likelihood do in other systems (not simply water/carbon/oxygen-reducing atmosphere-respiration cycle, but also life in every other nook and cranny of the earth).

    3. I am not a raving UFOlogist – don’t conflate!

    4. Regarding chain of evidence: Do you realy want me to post so much? Go to ‘space.com’ or even to other blogs here at scienceblogs — this is not a new topic and the evidence is plausible enough to make the following a reasonable statement: life exists elsewhere.

    5. Regarding memetic heredity: perhaps you should read some more…. You & I are examples of the (very small and limited) exception to this general rule: I became athiest through reading and learning; you became christian though … personal revelation? But we are in the definite minority — sociological factors continue to make it difficult to break from your current ‘meme-group’ unless you are the recipient of some very specific pressure to initiate change in your personal dynamic with your group.

    If you want to argue evidence, then ante up. I simply cannot be bothered to spare the time to provide you with evidence that is so easily obtainable (simply google extra-solar organics to start).

    You, on the other hand, will never provide me with evidence since yours is entirely non-existent (or ‘personal’).

  123. #123 bernarda
    July 30, 2007

    one eyed jack, “Well, a ‘real’ Christian wouldn’t harm a child and certainly wouldn’t try to kill… oh wait, forgot about the Old Testament.”

    Read Revelations verse 2 where Jesus says he is going to kill the children of Jezebel.

  124. #124 Rey Fox
    July 30, 2007

    I thought Pacman’s last comment seemed a little fishy, the way he suddenly lapsed into lucidity. I also thought it sounded a lot like something he posted a month or two ago. So I did a little Googling, and came up with this:

    http://www.edge.org/q2005/q05_print.html#taylor

    Shame shame.

  125. #125 Kseniya
    July 30, 2007

    a recent Newsweek was all up on make-up sales for both men and women in the “Islamic Republic”. The theocrats had to even give an edict against men wearing blush!

    Oooooooh, who’ll love Aladdin Sane….

  126. #126 frog
    July 30, 2007

    Ah, much better, pacman. “Let’s get back on track. You keep throwing out ‘radical subjectivism’ (I’m guessing that this is one of the “big words” that you mention)…. But the discussion I was engaged in (before you so rudely interrupted) was centered on ‘belief’. What we believe and why.”

    The point is that well-founded belief is not the same thing as any old thing you want to believe. There are things we have to believe, or were insane: “I have a head”, “Tomorrow comes after today”. It’s pretty easy to identify those statements. Then there are other beliefs that come out of our epistemology: “The earth goes around the Sun”, “There is an invisible man who guides my actions”. The former comes from a modern epistemology, where empirical evidence is given first rank. The latter is simply repeating what Momma told me when I was four, or “I believe it because it makes me feel good”.

    Now, we can dismiss those latter two epistemologies as wanking off. The “tradition” epistemology made sense when we were gardeners who didn’t have the luxury to test everything out — we were safest by just following what had worked before. The “I wanna believe” epistemology is simple narcissism – rather than grappling with the world and others, some prefer to simply look in the mirror and declare themselves beautiful. Both are dangerous – the former leads to simple authoritarianism in a large society and the latter leaves us all just staring at ourselves while we get robbed blind.

    Pacman: “You see, truth and belief are uncomfortable words in scholarship. It is possible to define as true only those things that can be proved by certain agreed criteria. In general, science does not believe in truth or, more precisely, science does not believe in belief. Understanding is understood as the best fit to the data under the current limits (both instrumental and philosophical) of observation. If science fetishized truth, it would be religion, which it is not.”

    Not so uncomfortable, except in it’s political implications and as an excuse for lousy scholarship. What science believes in is provisory truth. You don’t have to throw out the baby with the bath-water. There are things that are clearly false, given the current state of knowledge, and other things that are more-or-less true. Neither science nor mathematics throws out truth in any radical way — science understands that current truths may be overthrown someday, and math understands that truth can not be absolute, but falseness actually can be.

    Kuhn didn’t say that normal science was some kind of religion. Normal science is just a process of refinement, until a major theoretical shift occurs. Normal science is absolutely essential — all the “normal science” done with Newtonian physics didn’t go to waste, and wasn’t a religious episode. It both laid the ground-work for modern physics, and in-and-of-itself was useful. You don’t need relativity to calculate the orbit of the earth to a high-degree of accuracy, or to do the ballistics of missiles, so for practical work in those regimes, it’s the refinement of Newtonian physics developed through normal science that’s used.

    That’s completely different from religious beliefs that claim universal truth, that ignore the provisory nature of truth, or that are exercises in navel-gazing. It’s only lazy po-mo scholars that can’t tell the difference, who read Nietzche and then missed the point but stole the language.

  127. #127 madjon
    July 30, 2007

    If truly alien life exists elsewhere, would we necessarily recognize it? If their timescales tick in centuries or they have little effect on their planet’s atmosphere we could be oblivious for a long time.

  128. #128 The Pacifier
    July 30, 2007

    http://www.edge.org/q2005/q05_print.html#taylor

    Shame shame.

    Posted by: Rey Fox | July 30, 2007 04:43 PM

    You are correct. I did post that paragraph a few weeks ago, but I also credited Mr. Taylor. Nevertheless, the statement fits and supports my argument.

  129. #129 tony
    July 30, 2007

    madjon: we’re not looking at micro-changes in atmposphere – at least not this year! we’re looking at broad overall proportions which won’t change appreciably over short or medium timeframes (e.g. the earth has had ice ages with mean temperatures close to 273K, and semi tropical with mean temps close to 300K… also had oxygen proportions ranging from practically zero to near 30%). The fact that a solar system exhibits the right ‘mix’ of compounds in it’s signature is all the evidence we have right now…

    Everything else is hypothesis and conjecture – but that’s science, isn’t it?

  130. #130 windy
    July 30, 2007

    My belief in God has just as much evidence as your belief in extra-terrestial life.

    Wrong. We know that life is possible and has originated at least once. We have no such information on gods.

    And besides: God, if he existed, should also be classified as “extra-terrestrial life”. That makes you the actual ET-believer here, not Steve.

  131. #131 frog
    July 30, 2007

    So, do we see where ‘I believe whatever I want’ takes us to? Pacman is a liar and a cheat. But it doesn’t matter who’s words he’s using, because it’s all “whatever you want to believe”, anyhow. There is no external reality, like authorship.

    On top of that, he misses the point in context. T. Taylor is overstating a case becaused he’s pissed at the idea that the default state is to disbelieve in cannibalism rather than to believe in it. He’s appealing to objective reality, and making an a claim that Ockam’s razor is being misused by “The Establishment”. He uses po-mo language because of his anthro background, which has been thoroughly infested by the vermin: you can tell by referencing of Marx and Engels’ theory of family, which first posits a radical materialism, but then got inverted by the po-mo’s. Which means that his claim on Marx and then usage of a po-mo argument is pretty damn fishy.

    But pacman seems to miss all those subtleties of what’s going on, and instead grabs a quote out of context and uses it for a “fight”. Because if it’s all subjective, then all that matters is that you win, by any means necessary. Besides making him a scum-bag, it also acts as a wonderful examplar of where that kind of thinking leads.

    Without some notion of truth, you are reduced to simply power. A society based on simple power is unreservedly fascist. So there’s two reasons to hate our religionists wandering the country now-a-days: we have one class of traditionalist authoritarians, and another class of proto-fascists. That’s why you get guys like Bush, who on the one hand appeals to traditionalist authoritarians, and on the other hand appeal to guys who say “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality,” as Susskind reports.

    Just a piece-o-crap. A craptalicious pile of steaming feces that will drag us all to their little fantasy world S&M fun!

  132. #132 The Pacifier
    July 30, 2007

    Froggy,

    You keep equating a ‘creative force’ or ‘intelligent creator’ with “an invisible man who guides my actions” or a belief because “my mommy told me so”.

    As Doug Adams once said: (I’m paraphrasing) “what happens just happens and no further explanation is required” is a deprived way of contemplating and ultimately making a decision to believe or not. It deprives us humans to ask the kind of questions that we can ask. So what…. you take into account the evidence…. which of course the evidence obviously can lead to different conclusions.

  133. #133 bernarda
    July 30, 2007

    Why don’t all these god groupies just wear a t-shirt saying “I’m with stupid”. Of course god could wear the same t-shirt.

  134. #134 Brownian
    July 30, 2007

    Not all anthropologists are post-modernist relativists (in fact, relativism was a necessary step in legitimising anthropology and distancing it from its fairly bigoted roots).

    Many do use actual science to inform their analyses.

  135. #135 frog
    July 30, 2007

    Brownian,

    The relativism of good anthropologists, from Franz Boaz on, is a completely different animal from the po-mo crap. One thing is to: a) recognize your effects as an observer b) analyze a system on it’s own terms. That depends on, is justified and legitimized by, a call to objectivity that recognizes subjectivity. Po-mo crap throws away cultural relativism and replaces it with “everything is text,” 2+2=5 if you want it to, nonsense that dismisses objective reality and replaces it with radical subjectivity. The latter’s not only brain dead, but dangerous.

    There are still a lot of good anthropologists. But for the last thirty years or so there have been a whole lot of navel gazers who believe that political “truth” is the only kind of truth that exists; not that our perception of truth is deformed by political needs, but that only the political truths exists. You know, the Marxo-femeno-race theorists who haven’t produced anything of value, because you know what they’re going to find before they do the research. That’s always a sign that something stinks…

  136. #136 madjon
    July 30, 2007

    When I was a youngster (1960s, rural Northern England) Vanessa atalanta was as common as muck. But I was about 12yo before I saw Inachis io – now that was a mindblower…

    These days we get many more Nymphalis urticae.

  137. #137 The Pacifier
    July 30, 2007

    What the fuck are you talking about froggy? Some notion of truth? Like what…. If I drop a bowling ball on your head from the second story of my office it’ll kill you? Is that the kind of truth you’re talking about? And when you say ‘win’ what is the prize? It seems your desire to have an objective truth outside of sticks and stones that can be applied as some form of ‘morality’ has got you a little loopy.

  138. #138 Brownian
    July 30, 2007

    Yeah, fortunately most of the navel-gazers at my Uni seemed to be confined to the Poli Sci department. I left Poli Sci for Anthro because the former seemed too much like theology (theorisation without facts).

  139. #139 frog
    July 30, 2007

    Brownian,

    At least you weren’t in Law! Or economics, where they have facts – they just make them up. Talk about theology (not that there aren’t some economic theorists who know what they’re doing).

    I studied anthro in the way back — my mentor suggested that if I really loved anthro, and wanted to do it, I was better off getting into travel writing. He was an old-school liberal anthropologist (student of Gregory Bateson), who had had it with the gender/race wars. He had the bad luck of wrong gender and skin tone — I beat him in at least one.

    Good luck! The world needs some good anthro’s to balance off the neuroscientists who think you can stick some college students in an MRI, torture them a bit and then think that they understand “empathy”.

  140. #140 tony
    July 30, 2007

    RE: Windy @ 129…

    David – Meet Windy — he’s much less windy than either of us, but uses simple terse language to make the argument clear.

  141. #141 Brownian
    July 30, 2007

    Too late, frog. I’m too much the dilletante (hoo-boy, David’s going to give it to me for that) for any one study.

    I went through biology and earth/atmospheric sciences and eventually to human geography, which I think marries these fields all quite nicely.

    Anthropology will always be my first love, though. Sigh. I remember when she and I would take on all comers at the pub in between classes. I’ve still got her back.

  142. #142 mothworm
    July 30, 2007

    Without some notion of truth, you are reduced to simply power. A society based on simple power is unreservedly fascist. So there’s two reasons to hate our religionists wandering the country now-a-days: we have one class of traditionalist authoritarians, and another class of proto-fascists. That’s why you get guys like Bush, who on the one hand appeals to traditionalist authoritarians, and on the other hand appeal to guys who say “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality,” as Susskind reports.

    Just a piece-o-crap. A craptalicious pile of steaming feces that will drag us all to their little fantasy world S&M fun!

    Is there a safe-word? Because we could really use one.

  143. #143 mothworm
    July 30, 2007

    Well, I find it reasonable to disbelieve. Am I not being reasonable for disbelieving in extra-terrestial life?

    My belief in God has just as much evidence as your belief in extra-terrestial life. It is reasonable to believe, and to disbelieve.

    You’re not getting it, but I’m not surprised. Perhaps we could do a little spreadsheet and compare.

    Possibility of Existence of Extraterrestrial Life:
    1. We have evidence that life exists somewhere – Yes
    2. We have a pretty good, if rough, idea of how that life originates in environments such as ours – Yes
    3. Given the number of stars and star systems in our universe, it is possible, and probable, that environments like our own exist elsewhere – Yes

    Given that, it is reasonable to conclude that life could exist elsewhere in the universe. Considering what we already know about self-organizing principles, it’s also probable that if the right elements are in place, “life” will probably give it a try. However, considering we, as yet, have no way of finding or testing for extraterrestrial life, it is still reasonable (though perhaps on the low probability side) to think that life doesn’t exist elsewhere, although this is one instance where agnosticism actually seems appropriate.

    Possibility of Existence of God
    1. We have evidence that God exists – No
    2. We have a good, working definition of what “God” means that can be agreed upon by anyone looking for it – No
    3. We have made a coherent claim when we say “God Exists” – No

    As you should be able to see, these are quite different. In one instance, you are making a judgement on the location of something for which you already have evidence. In the other, you are making a claim about the existence of something for which you have no evidence.

  144. #144 madjon
    July 30, 2007

    ‘Is there a safe-word?’ – Vanessa atalanta

  145. #145 frog
    July 30, 2007

    Mothworm:

    You can go further than that. If you take NASA number of stars, 10^21 (# of Stars) and then calculate the probability of life in the Universe (since with such large numbers the probability of life occurring once is about the same as life occuring twice), you get one with any probability above 10^-17. Yup, if life is at least as likely as one in a billion billion around any star, you’re going to get life multiple times. And remember, the solar life span has already been cycled three times, so the total number of stars like the sun that have lived and died should be much larger than their current ratio.

    Of course, the probability of life is an empirical number. But given that life arose on the earth in under 300 million years, the odds that over the 8 billion year life span of a planet, and with the large number of planets being found in the galaxy, the odds of a billion billion are more than reasonable.

    Hard numbers. Pr(L) = 1 – (1 – Pr(Ls))^(10^21). Once you get around the problem of rounding errors, you’re no longer talking “beliefs” and fuzzy “I feel this way,” but clear probabilities. It is extremely likely, if we don’t get any big surprises (like rocky worlds being rarer than gas giants, or some unusual chemical signature of the early earth, unlikely since it matches massive interstellar clouds of organics).

  146. #146 The Pacifier
    July 30, 2007

    I agree. But what about the circumstances that led to the ‘big bang’? What was the ‘condition’ that created our universe? Perhaps ‘God’ exists as the possibility that there is something rather than nothing? Whether or not life exists elsewhere within our universe has no bearing on the concept of an eternal creative force. In fact, I would argue that some would find life on other planets as affirmation to their held belief in a creator ‘God’.

  147. #147 tony
    July 30, 2007

    PacMan: if so – would they too be ‘children of god’? If god created man ‘in his image’ then are those other ‘creatures’ simply also under man’s dominion? Makes a good basis for interstellar was right there (and damn the cost!)

    Seriously: As mentioned almost infinite times before, if you start requiring a creator for the big bang, then you need a creator for that creator… ad infinitum.

    Again – where is the evidence for a creator god – either at the start or sometime since? None! So you are talking out of your ass! Show me some evidence that at least alludes to the possibility, and I’ll go with it. Otherwise? Neh!

  148. #148 Rich
    July 30, 2007

    Then what created god?

  149. #149 tony
    July 30, 2007

    Rich: ditto
    PacMan: new rule: you may not posit a creator god in a thread demanding evidence.

  150. #150 Justin Moretti
    July 30, 2007

    I’d like to know what the kid’s mother was chanting. “Please God, make it stop, let her go!”, for instance, could be interpreted either of two ways, especially if her nakedness and bespatteredness with blood were the result of having already unsuccessfully tried to wrest the child from her insane father.

    Don’t know about you, but the God I believe in wouldn’t stand for this sort of bullshit. I can picture Satan welcoming this man into Hell and saying “Look, you got it all wrong with the kid; let me show you first hand what demonic possession is really like.”

    As well as being a tragedy for the child (and possibly its mother), this is a warning to the devoutly religious against untrained people performing an exorcism. The first thing to decide is whether someone is really possessed, and the second, if the priest decides this, is to perform the expulsive ritual – but at least in my cultural context (Catholic), this does NOT involve shaking and throttling a three year old child to within an inch of her life.

    It is not the fact of the exorcism but the method which is truly insane. It sounds like the sort of exorcism a fundamentalist/pentecostalist might attempt; IIRC they have a long history of physically violent exorcisms that kill the person they’re trying to help.

    Will be interesting to see what comes out in the next few days/weeks about this.

  151. #151 tony
    July 30, 2007

    The first thing to decide is whether someone is really possessed

    So which part of this strikes you as not being delusional? posession? WTF? I thought I lived in the 21st century, not the 15th!

  152. #152 The Pacifier
    July 30, 2007

    What created the creator…..? Well, that’s why I used the term ‘eternal’. And speaking of ‘eternity’; that’s what lies at the heart of the ‘God’ debate. Oh sure we can conceptually get our heads around what ‘infinity’ means….. we can even do our best science and come up with cute little names like ‘force’ or ‘gravity’ or ‘energy’. But what are possibilities and probabilities in the context of infinity? Are not all things possible when you have eternity to work them out?

  153. #153 Ben Abbott
    July 30, 2007

    Anyone seen this story

    Exorcisms become big business in Arizona

    Both atheist and theist alike can see the perversion in this … not?

  154. #154 Stogoe
    July 30, 2007

    Pacifier, what I’m hearing from you is “perhaps the possibility of our existence at all is God, and therefore Jebus died on a cross for your sins.” You’re deliberately muddling a Spinozan deity with a Jebus-bowing death-cult, and it’s dishonest as fuck.

  155. #155 frog
    July 30, 2007

    Stogoe: See #128. Confusing Spinoza and Jeebus is the least of pacifiers sins.

  156. #156 Steve_C
    July 30, 2007

    Who created the creator?

    Ancient man.

    Was that so hard?

  157. #157 JimC
    July 31, 2007

    man alot of ignorance in this thread. Where to start?

    Just out of curiosity, do you realize that if you are right, and Relgion = Delusion, how many people you have just called deluded?

    Who cares? Since when would the number make the claim more or less true?

    You know, I get annoyed when a Christian fundamentalist claims any sort of special knowledge/special mental ability. But fundamentalism is fundamentalism even if its atheistic. “Everyone else is deluded… except for us. We get it. We’re the smart ones”.

    You are a profoundly stupid individual. There is no ‘atheist fundamentalist’ nor do they think they are smarter. As a matter of fact belief appears to have little correlation to intelligence. Smart people defend ideasarrived at through non smart methods.

    But that’s all right. I know you view me as just another deluded theist. Just as I view you as just another deluded fundie.

    Think as you will but this just showcases how poor a thinker you actually are.

    #148 I hope this was sarcastic because if it isn’t you are beyond being a moron into a whole other sphere of stupid.

    this is a warning to the devoutly religious against untrained people performing an exorcism.

    UG!

    The first thing to decide is whether someone is really possessed,

    Dipshit, do you think? Are you even capable of thought? This is 2007 of people in the USA are writing bullshit like this.

    and the second, if the priest decides this, is to perform the expulsive ritual – but at least in my cultural context (Catholic), this does NOT involve shaking and throttling a three year old child to within an inch of her life.

    Well it’s good to know the priest knows enough not to shake a child to run off an invisible spirit. How well reasoned of him. Of course if they had performed some other BS ritual in your f***ed up cultural context that would have been ok? Moron.

    Whats worse is that you think Jimmy the priest who sat around picking his nose and farting before becoming a ‘priest’ has some bizarre power to even remotely do as you say. This of course you accept as truth.

  158. #158 Kagehi
    July 31, 2007

    I am sure I-need-a-Pacifier that I am one of the few, if there are any others, who actually have an account on the Brights website. I am also sure that you are showing a lack of logic that only someone who believes in this BS and is offended by other people not believing, would or could use to accuse someone of thinking the way you suggest. I have no doubt what so ever that medical problems, brain damage, etc. can ***cause*** abnormal behavior and that those people can and will invent excuses, other than religion, to do the crap they do to each other. For people that are not already mentally ill though, a form of organized belief, in which questioning the dogma is discouraged, some ideas must be taken *solely* on the basis of faith that they are true, and some untouchable authority, which can also never be wrong, or be questioned, is supposedly running things, is needed to make people do stupid ass shit, like wars, mass murder, etc.

    There are two ways to get people to commit insane acts. 1. Find someone that is insane, then hand them some lunatic ideology to follow that they can use to justify it, stir, then wait. 2. Get a lot of people together into a big group, promise them lots of things that sound reasonable, but which you can never give them, then blame the fact that you can’t on someone else, promising them that if they just kill/convert those people, everything they where falsely promised will just drop into their lap.

    The former is stupidity on the grandest scale. The later is often either megolamania or self delusion (on the part of the nut that thinks/claims its true and tells the flock what to do to get there), herd mentality and ignorance (on the part of the gullible masses who are just happy they belong to something). Often its nearly impossible to tell the difference, which is why the insane people don’t get caught too often. Its also why a lot of insane people propagate the later version, since unless it becomes obvious they are insane, their crazy ideas just get added to the list of things the later group thinks are real.

    Point being.. No, no one here thinks **every** problem is caused by belief in god. We don’t however see one scrap of evidence to suggest that **anyone** believing in your imaginary god has any impact what so ever on the number of insane people there are, or the number of people committing everything from minor petty crimes (against the same god), like lying about things, to actual cases of murder, justified “solely” on the basis of their belief, and not traceable to *any* recognized mental disorder. And that is the problem. You don’t have to have a mental disorder to act like a lunatic, just belief that doing so will a) save you, b) save someone else, c) save the world, d) please god, or what ever other BS standard you are using to make your choices.

    We also recognize quite clearly that this is the **same** thing that leads people to a) save themselves from the **wrong** type of government, b) save someone else (who never asked for the help) from the wrong type of government, c) save the world from communism, capitalism, democracy, etc. or d) please the president, fuhrer, pope or what ever. A cult is a cult, and two of its basic definitions are a) it denies reason, in favor of dogma, and b) the leader, whether god, president or priest is **never** wrong. Hell, we don’t even hold ourselves to that sort delusionally irrational standard, how the hell do you dare accuse any of us of holding anyone else to it? Because that is the only grounds you would have of claiming that there is something wrong with being an atheist, or a bright, or anything else we might call ourselves, or accusing us of being like any of the fools who have followed self styled “secular” dictatorships (or more accurately, religions). And, from where I am standing, you are the only person that can be accused to belonging to a group that does such a thing. Fancy that…

  159. #159 Kseniya
    July 31, 2007
    But that’s all right. I know you view me as just another deluded theist. Just as I view you as just another deluded fundie.

    Think as you will but this just showcases how poor a thinker you actually are.

    JimC, the passage you quoted from Dave’s comment (#64) was a response to the comment that immediately preceded it, which was one of mine. You may not have realized (as Dave apparently has not) that his comment shows he misunderstood mine to a degree that would be difficult to exceed, and has completely ignored me since I posted a reply in which I hinted that that might be the case. (Not that I much care, but it’s notable.)

    Misunderstanding me is not exactly a mortal sin. It happens every day (usually because I am a dimmy-dim instead of a brighty-bright), and it’s an easy mistake, especially for someone of his opinions, to make on a blog like this one – but it’s still a mistake, one that follows from a salient aspect of his posting style.

    You see, he has a penchant for playing a particular kind of victim role that depends heavily on creating strawmen not out of his opponents’ arguments, but out of his opponents themselves. He’s become so adept at this, he sometimes does it without even realizing it himself.

  160. #160 Brownian
    July 31, 2007

    You see, he has a penchant for playing a particular kind of victim role that depends heavily on creating strawmen not out of his opponents’ arguments, but out of his opponents themselves. He’s become so adept at this, he sometimes does it without even realizing it himself.

    Ooh, snap!

  161. #161 BT Murtagh
    July 31, 2007

    LM, I think you’ve overlooked a possibility concerning that odd sock.

    Are you completely sure that you aren’t getting one extra sock?

    Perhaps this is how socks reproduce!

  162. #162 One Eyed Jack
    July 31, 2007

    ET Murtagh writes:

    “LM, I think you’ve overlooked a possibility concerning that odd sock.

    Are you completely sure that you aren’t getting one extra sock?”

    Now that’s thinking outside the box… or the laundry basket as the case may be.

    OEJ

  163. #163 David
    July 31, 2007

    Unlike some of you, (apparently), I actually have a life, and do not sit at my computer 24/7, waiting for yet another atheist insult. I have better things to do. So for those of you who think I am “ignoring” you, I’m not. But if it makes you feel better to think that, go right ahead.

    That being said,

    –mothworm–

    1. We have evidence that life exists somewhere – Yes
    2. We have a pretty good, if rough, idea of how that life originates in environments such as ours – Yes

    I would agree.

    3. Given the number of stars and star systems in our universe, it is possible, and probable, that environments like our own exist elsewhere – Yes

    Wrong. It is possible, but it is only probable if you have some knowledge of the probability of life’s occurrence. Sure, there are lots and lots of star systems in the universe. But what’s the probability that all needed factors are present in a star system, and that with that life evolves? If you can’t answer that, then you can’t argue that it’s “probable”. You can find it “reasonable” sure. But not probable.

    1. We have evidence that God exists – No

    Wrong. We have evidence that you do not except.

    2. We have a good, working definition of what “God” means that can be agreed upon by anyone looking for it – No

    What do you mean by “good” working definition?

    3. We have made a coherent claim when we say “God Exists” – No

    Again, wrong. But its because of your bias that you are wrong, so I forgive you.

    Yup, if life is at least as likely as one in a billion billion around any star, you’re going to get life multiple times.

    Yes, its not terribly surprising that if you allow the probability of life to be whatever you need it to be, you get the results you want. Good for you for realizing this. Do you have any evidence that the probability IS that?

    Who cares? Since when would the number make the claim more or less true?

    What’s the probability that a person is delusional? What’s the probability that two people have the same delusion? Numbers have meaning.

    You are a profoundly stupid individual.

    Ooh, I’m so scared. The big bad atheist told me I’m a profoundly stupid individual. Ooh… I guess I better believe him. He’s an atheist, he’s soo smart.

    Get real.

    There is no ‘atheist fundamentalist’ nor do they think they are smarter

    Let’s see:

    1. Yes, there are atheist fundamentalists, and:
    2. If you think of everyone who doesn’t believe as you, as suffering from some mental defect (deluded) then yes, you do think you are smarter. Sorry.

    Kseniya, if I’m creating “strawmen”, why do they describe you, and most everyone else here, so well?

    Brownian, if you can’t tell when I am talking about a hypothetical situation, and when I am not, well… I can’t help you with your reading comprehension.

    Going on from that, I do agree that empiricism is superior to many other forms of evidence. But, one must work with whatever one has.

    Raiko, I would agree, empirical evidence is vastly superior to personal experience. But does this invalidate personal experience? Do you disbelieve any experience that anyone has, on the grounds that it was a personal experience?

    Eyewitness testimony and personal experience are certainly not wonderful forms of evidence. However, they are not absolutely deficient. If someone says that he saw someone else reading the 7th Harry Potter book, would you automatically disbelieve him? I would think not.

  164. #164 Steve_C
    July 31, 2007

    Dying to hear the troll’s evidence of a God.

    I bet I know where he thinks that evidence is.

  165. #165 David
    July 31, 2007

    Well Steve_C, since you’ve got me all figured out, why not save me all the time of posting?

  166. #166 Brownian
    July 31, 2007

    From comment #91

    Let’s see. Here. Poor grammar aside, do you make any real argument? You say it is reasonable to assume that life exists elsewhere because we know life exists here, and we see lots of other places that are similar to here. Ok… but its not the development of life here was a certainty. If it wasn’t certain, then it was only probable. Do you know the probability of life developing here? No… I don’t think you do. So your argument is not based on probability… really. Your argument is based on the fact that you, personally, find it reasonable. Well, I find it reasonable to believe that life does not exist on other planets. Why do I find it reasonable? Well, I find it reasonable for two reasons. 1 is the complete lack of evidence for such a claim. We have not seen any other life, we have not heard from any other life, we have no empirical evidence that any other life exists. Second, I regard the probability of life’s occurrence to be so low, that while I believe it might happen once, twice can be safely discounted to me.

    At which point are you segueing into the hypothetical?

    From comment #163

    3. Given the number of stars and star systems in our universe, it is possible, and probable, that environments like our own exist elsewhere – Yes

    Wrong. It is possible, but it is only probable if you have some knowledge of the probability of life’s occurrence. Sure, there are lots and lots of star systems in the universe. But what’s the probability that all needed factors are present in a star system, and that with that life evolves? If you can’t answer that, then you can’t argue that it’s “probable”. You can find it “reasonable” sure. But not probable.

    Oh, now we can’t talk about probability, because no one knows conclusively what factors are needed for the formation of life.

    But wait. Didn’t you write in comment #91 “I regard the probability of life’s occurrence to be so low, that while I believe it might happen once, twice can be safely discounted to me.“?

    Since you’re so knowledgeable about these probabilities that you can make teh above claim, why don’t you fill us in? Or, at the very least, learn to write so that I, and everyone else here, might know that you’re only writing ‘hypothetically’.

    Wait, don’t tell me: “I don’t jump through fundie hoops.”

    Nice work, weasel. Work with the Boston Archdiocese hiding pedophiles much?

  167. #167 David
    July 31, 2007

    Brownian, you’ve answered your own question. If you don’t see it, that’s not my problem.

    I do like the accusation that I help hide pedophiles. I once was accused by a fundamentalist Christian of using drugs. When in doubt, fundies will always make such accusations I suppose.

    For people who aren’t “fundamentalists” why do you talk and act exactly like them?

  168. #168 Brownian
    July 31, 2007

    Answer my question, David. At what part of the paragraph I cited, do you begin writing hypothetically?

  169. #169 David
    July 31, 2007

    You already know the answer.

  170. #170 Brownian
    July 31, 2007

    No, I don’t.

    It’s a simple question.

    Answer it.

  171. #171 David
    July 31, 2007

    It’s not my job to increase your intelligence. If you read your own post, my answer will stare you in the face. It’s really not that hard Brownian.

    Actually, scratch that. It is hard, as long as you hold on to your delusion that I am a stupid theist. If you drop that, you may see it.

  172. #172 David
    July 31, 2007

    If you need a hint to help your superior atheist intelligence from poor deluded me Brownian… well that’s just sad.

  173. #173 Brownian
    July 31, 2007

    David, you may question my intelligence or my reading comprehension all you like. Call me a fundamentalist all you like too, if being a fundamentalist means I’m happy to allow you to explain yourself in your own words rather than risking misinterpretation.

    For the last time, I am going to ask you to point out exactly where in the following paragraph you begin to write hypothetically. Because otherwise, you are pretty clearly stating that you believe Steve does not know the probability of life developing while you do, a claim you deny clearly in comment #107.

    Let’s see. Here. Poor grammar aside, do you make any real argument? You say it is reasonable to assume that life exists elsewhere because we know life exists here, and we see lots of other places that are similar to here. Ok… but its not the development of life here was a certainty. If it wasn’t certain, then it was only probable. Do you know the probability of life developing here? No… I don’t think you do. So your argument is not based on probability… really. Your argument is based on the fact that you, personally, find it reasonable. Well, I find it reasonable to believe that life does not exist on other planets. Why do I find it reasonable? Well, I find it reasonable for two reasons. 1 is the complete lack of evidence for such a claim. We have not seen any other life, we have not heard from any other life, we have no empirical evidence that any other life exists. Second, I regard the probability of life’s occurrence to be so low, that while I believe it might happen once, twice can be safely discounted to me.

    [Emphasis mine.]

  174. #174 David
    July 31, 2007

    Brownian, there’s no point.

    You want to believe I’m a liar. Fine.

    You want to believe I’m stupid. Fine.

    Another fundie wants to believe I have taken drugs. Fine.

    Fundies believe what they have to believe to get by.

    Like most fundie atheists, it seems that the idea of an intelligent theist is completely anathema to you. Whenever it stops being that way, I wouldn’t be surprised if my answer to this question boldly jumps out at you.

  175. #175 Kagehi
    July 31, 2007

    Hmm. Lets see.. We know that the elements that form life are **literally** the most common elements in the entire fracking universe. We know that there are no physical laws that could possibly preclude the formation of water bearing planets in the rest of the universe. And we have several competing theories on what might have resulting in the formation of early life, not one of which is *improbable*. Oh, and we have found other planets at this point, in other star systems, so we know that we are right about them being a common thing to have form.

    The only grounds you have for claiming the improbability of life forming more than once in billions of star systems is what? Oh, I know, “Science doesn’t have an absolute answer yet and, worse, hasn’t managed to produce in a less than 10 or so years what might have taken those physical laws closer to several billion years to stumble on.” Damn stupid argument, since all it does is make your projection contingent on the quite questionable idea that life “can’t” form without help, for which you have no more evidence for than you do for your supposed god, both of which contradict everything we do know about the subject or how likely it might be.

  176. #176 tony
    July 31, 2007

    David — you are one ignorant fuckwit.

    You’ve stated that you have evidence for your god… You’ve been repeatedly asked if you would care to share that evidence. Instead of doing so you simply engage in sophomoric semantic games with everyone…

    I’d be surprised if your evidence were anything other than ‘personal’. As such, it can be discounted as evidence. Delusions do not count as evidence.

    When I was a kid, I was certain that Superman and Spiderman really existed – in America. They just never got round to visiting my little corner of Scotland. I had books and everything! So.it.was.true!

    Since you deign not to share your so compelling evidence with use, I can only conclude that your evidence is actually flimsier than that for those comic book superheroes!

    Ante up, big boy, or hold your tongue.

  177. #177 David
    July 31, 2007

    If the lack of intelligence on this board wasn’t so sad, it would be funny.

    Some highlights.

    We know that there are no physical laws that could possibly preclude the formation of water bearing planets in the rest of the universe.

    So what? When does lack of evidence, suddenly become evidence of anything?

    And we have several competing theories on what might have resulting in the formation of early life, not one of which is *improbable*.

    Now, we are getting somewhere. So the formation of life is not improbable?

  178. #178 David
    July 31, 2007

    You’ve stated that you have evidence for your god… You’ve been repeatedly asked if you would care to share that evidence.

    I have started to. But as per usual, whenever that happens any civil conversation usually ends, and the insults start flying. At least here. But I’m not surprised.

  179. #179 Brownian
    July 31, 2007

    David, I don’t believe you’re stupid. I don’t want to believe that you’re a liar. I gave you three chances to clear up some confusion about a particular series of claims so that I don’t have to conclude that you’ve lied. You’ve refused on every occasion by trying to change the subject, blaming me, or accusing me of being ‘fundamentalist’ (whatever you think that means).

    Why do you tease us if you’re unwilling to demonstrate why you think we’re so wrong?

  180. #180 tony
    July 31, 2007

    David:

    You’ve stated that you have evidence for your god… You’ve been repeatedly asked if you would care to share that evidence.

    I have started to. But as per usual, whenever that happens any civil conversation usually ends

    Please show me *where* you started to provide evidence. So far all I’ve seen is your statement about ‘personal’ evidence. Nothing else.

    If you want us to take you, and your evidence, seriously – then treat with us seriously. Stop sidestepping.

  181. #181 mothworm
    July 31, 2007

    David,

    Wrong. We have evidence that you do not except.

    So, what is it? I grew up as a Christian, and I’ve heard a lot of stuff that believers think is evidence, but which, from my experience, never actually rises to that level. I’m more than willing to hear what you think constitutes evidence of a god.

    What do you mean by “good” working definition?

    I mean, in contrast to how we look for extraterrestrial life. Thanks to organic chemistry, anybody searching for life knows what to look for and how to evaluate it. We all work from the same definition because it can be reasonably arrived at and logically demonstrated.

    “God”, on the other hand, has as many definitions as there are believers in the supernatural. What is it that you think makes god god, that is a better definition than what anyone else thinks defines that being?

    We have made a coherent claim when we say “God Exists” – No

    Again, wrong. But its because of your bias that you are wrong, so I forgive you.

    Following on what I was saying above, what do you mean when you say “god”? What are its attributes? How do you know? How do you test it? What makes it different from any other random claim about god?

  182. #182 David
    July 31, 2007

    David, I don’t believe you’re stupid. I don’t want to believe that you’re a liar .

    Could have fooled me.

    I gave you three chances to clear up some confusion about a particular series of claims so that I don’t have to conclude that you’ve lied.

    Each time, I’ve told you that you know the answer, and that you’ve posted the answer.

    I’ve already implied that I believe the evidence for intelligent life to be reasonable. I’ve also said that its reasonable to disbelieve the evidence. Put that together with where you think I’ve “lied”.

    You certainly don’t have to conclude that I’ve lied. But I’m fairly certain you will anyway.

    Why do you tease us if you’re unwilling to demonstrate why you think we’re so wrong?

    Of what are you speaking? If it has to do with the whole “show us the evidence” bit, then I’ve answered that already. If it refers to something else, then I will have a different answer perhaps.

  183. #183 David
    July 31, 2007

    A reasonable question. Allow me to answer it, partially, with another question:

    “God”, on the other hand, has as many definitions as there are believers in the supernatural. What is it that you think makes god god, that is a better definition than what anyone else thinks defines that being?

    I agree that there are a great many definitions of God. However, are all these definitions entirely distinct? Possessing no similar qualities? Do you believe that?

  184. #184 Steve_C
    July 31, 2007

    It’s obvious that he believes his evidence is in holy books.

    I say he’s ignorant… because he obviously hasn’t bothered to come to understand what the theory of evolution is before deciding it’s false.

    Ignorant is not the same as stupid. You’re not stupid. Just ignorant.

    And you are really freaking annoying.

  185. #185 David
    July 31, 2007

    1. No, I don’t believe the evidence is in holy books. So the fact that you find it obvious, only tells me that I am dealing with someone who has a flawed perception of reality. (Like I didn’t know that already).

    2. I believe the theory of evolution is true, so that’s another thing you’ve gotten wrong.

    As for me being annoying? Well, that I’ll accept.

  186. #186 Steve_C
    July 31, 2007

    Yes they al possess similar qualities. The ones that define them as gods.

    They don’t exist is one of the things they share. Besides being creators, having supernatural powers and generally are a big pain in the ass when it comes to obedience.

  187. #187 Steve_C
    July 31, 2007

    I must be confusing you with Roger, or P-W.

    Ok. I assumed too much. Doesn’t mean I’ve lost touch with reality. I’ve you’ve spent much time here you would see that it’s the common argument. “The bible exists therefor god exists.”

    So David. Evidence. Fork it over.

  188. #188 Brownian
    July 31, 2007

    David, I don’t believe you’re stupid. I don’t want to believe that you’re a liar.

    Could have fooled me.

    I wouldn’t have asked you to clarify yourself if I wanted to believe you are a liar. I wouldn’t spend so much time trying to understand whether you’re lying or not if I thought you were stupid. If you feel persecuted here, then leave.

    I gave you three chances to clear up some confusion about a particular series of claims so that I don’t have to conclude that you’ve lied.

    Each time, I’ve told you that you know the answer, and that you’ve posted the answer.

    I reposted your paragraph and asked you to point out specifically where you begin to write hypothetically. The answer to that question would be, “Here,” followed by a sentence or series of words that demonstrate your claim, or “No, you misunderstood. This is in fact what I mean.” Repeating “You know the answer” is evasive and untrue, since I’ve told you I don’t.

    I’ve already implied that I believe the evidence for intelligent life to be reasonable. I’ve also said that its reasonable to disbelieve the evidence. Put that together with where you think I’ve “lied”.

    If that’s your claim, then fine. The paragraph I cited does not at all state that unequivocably.

    You could have saved us both a lot of trouble if you weren’t so busy trying to be pedantic.

    You certainly don’t have to conclude that I’ve lied. But I’m fairly certain you will anyway.

    Good for you and certainty. For the record, I think you’re disingenous, evasive, and inexplicably smarmy. Now that you’ve explained your position, I see that you weren’t lying about your original position, but that it was poorly stated.

    Why do you tease us if you’re unwilling to demonstrate why you think we’re so wrong?

    Of what are you speaking? If it has to do with the whole “show us the evidence” bit, then I’ve answered that already. If it refers to something else, then I will have a different answer perhaps.

    It took me asking you at least three times before you clarified your point. That’s unwillingness. It’s a habit of yours. It is of what I’m speaking.

  189. #189 David
    July 31, 2007

    For the record, I think you’re disingenous, evasive, and inexplicably smarmy.

    I call it not sticking my neck out, but you are entitled to you opinion.

  190. #190 Brownian
    July 31, 2007

    I call it not sticking my neck out, but you are entitled to you opinion.

    Well, that certainly accounts for the disingenuity and the evasiveness.

    Anyways, I’m satisfied with the answers you (finally) gave, and if you’re satisfied with what I wrote and why I wrote it, perhaps we can move on to something more mutually interesting.

  191. #191 Steve_C
    July 31, 2007

    David has shhhh… secret evidence.

    He doesn’t want to subject it to scrutiny.

    It’s not scientific and it’s not in a holy book.

    Maybe he has a portrait of god on a potato chip.

  192. #192 mothworm
    July 31, 2007

    Well, I, at least, am stil unclear on what David thinks is evidence of there being a god. Unless he’s referring to his equivocation between the possibility of extraterrestrial life and the probability of god, which, as I’ve said, are two vastly different things and definately doesn’t qualify as evidence.

    David, it’s a core principle of most religions that I am aware of, that for them to be true all others must be false, unless you adhere to a nebulous sort of deism. “Lots of people think so” still doesn’t constitute proof.

  193. #193 David
    July 31, 2007

    It’s fun playing the “How many stupid statements can Steve_C” make game. Let’s see…

    My evidence is not “secret”, and in fact I have tried to give it. But as per usual, all I get is insults from people here. Biblically speaking, I should probably just “shake the dust off my sandals” and not bother. I may very well do that.

    I will agree that its not scientific evidence, and its not in a holy book. Now, to Steve_C this disqualifies it as evidence. That’s stupid, but I don’t expect any better.

    And as for his last statement, well that’s the usual atheist screed I expect out of him, so stupid… but sad.

  194. #194 David
    July 31, 2007

    David, it’s a core principle of most religions that I am aware of, that for them to be true all others must be false,

    I need to clarify this, because you are mistaken, but only partially. It is not, “If religion X is true, all other religions are false”. It is, “If religion X is completely true, all other religions must be false, in so much as they disagree with X”.

    “Lots of people think so” still doesn’t constitute proof.

    This is why I don’t stick my neck out. Did you not understand that I was not, nor will I ever give “proof”? Or did you understand, and just want to imply differently?

  195. #195 Brownian
    July 31, 2007

    But as per usual, all I get is insults from people here.

    I’ve noticed you’re more than ready to toss ’em out yourself, often preemptively.

    Try turning the other cheek.

    Or else quit whining.

  196. #196 Steve_C
    July 31, 2007

    Boohoo. You didn’t like my joke.

    You’re kinda sensitive. Need a hankie?

    When someone says they’ve tried to give up evidence but never actually say what the evidence is… only what it is not. You start to question the person’s faith in that evidence.

  197. #197 David
    July 31, 2007

    Brownian, I am not “whining”. I just find it interesting for people who talk about being fair, rational, free-thinkers and whatever else, most of the time what I get is emotional, insult laden responses.

    I find that interesting.

  198. #198 mothworm
    July 31, 2007

    This is why I don’t stick my neck out. Did you not understand that I was not, nor will I ever give “proof”? Or did you understand, and just want to imply differently?

    Then why all the previous messages where you stated that you’d already given your proof, but weren’t going to point out where, or repeat it?

    Seriously, what on earth are you afraid of? What danger is there in “sticking your neck out”? If you really think you have proof, let’s hear it. Maybe you’ll win some converts, or at least start a good discussion.

  199. #199 Brownian
    July 31, 2007

    You’ve stated that you have evidence for your god… You’ve been repeatedly asked if you would care to share that evidence.

    I have started to. But as per usual, whenever that happens any civil conversation usually ends, and the insults start flying.

    and

    It’s fun playing the “How many stupid statements can Steve_C” make game. Let’s see…

    My evidence is not “secret”, and in fact I have tried to give it. But as per usual, all I get is insults from people here

    Yes, you’re whining. It’s not like this is a conversation where you’re being interrupted by people out-shouting you. The internet is not in real-time. If you’ve got the goods, spill ’em. Write a whole fucking essay if you like. Why let the insults stop you?

    You suggested that I had not the brain power of a rock, nor the reading comprehension of a five-year-old. I didn’t let that stop me.

  200. #200 Kseniya
    July 31, 2007

    David. You just don’t get it, do you? I realize that’s a rude and dismissive thing to say, but you refuse to even TRY to understand what I’m getting at. I also realize that it’s not the most important thing in the world to you. I realize that you you “have a life”. (Oh, the old “I have a life” defense/attack.) Isn’t it ironic, then, that here you were, back blasting away again for half the afternoon, while this is my first visit back to the thread in almost 20 hours?

    When I said you were ignoring me, I meant that you declined to address my remarks to you while you were here, posting many comments. That’s all. I’m not talking about the many hours you would naturally, and wisely, spend away from this. I should think that would be obvious. You’re not stupid. I can only conlude that you are being willfully obtuse on that point. Tsk.

    Anyway, I repeat: You misunderstood my “delusion” comment rather badly, because you didn’t bother to try to understand the larger context in which is was made. And yet you sit there and claim that the “Kseniya” to which you have responded is not entirely of your own construction. How do you justify this claim?

  201. #201 nick
    July 31, 2007

    Hey, where is all that fastidiousness about “Correlation is not causation” when it comes to a story like this? The strong implication is that “because” the old dude, and/or someone (else) was “religious”, therefore, “religions cause nutty things to happen”. I’m no defender of the faith, any faith, but it seems just too facile to argue anything from a meager news account of such a sensational story, weird behavior, etc. Kind of like Dr. Frist making pronouncements about Tony Schiavo. Maybe not wrong but definitely unwise.

  202. #202 David
    August 1, 2007

    Then why all the previous messages where you stated that you’d already given your proof

    Did I state that I’ve already given “proof” that God exists? Can you show me where I said that? Or are you just lying?

    Seriously, what on earth are you afraid of? What danger is there in “sticking your neck out”?

    Beyond a waste of my time… not too much really. But as I’m certain that I will be wasting my time, I see no reason to role the dice with you.

    The internet is not in real-time. If you’ve got the goods, spill ’em. Write a whole fucking essay if you like.

    Let me tell you what would happen if I did that. By the time I did that, there would be at least 3 comments saying that I’ve “run away” or something like that. Too afraid to stand up to the high and mighty atheists. Should I post anything, the response would be something along the lines of “It’s rubbish. Its not evidence. You’re stupid.” (I admit, conceivably more words would be used).

    I realize that you you “have a life”. (Oh, the old “I have a life” defense/attack.) Isn’t it ironic, then, that here you were, back blasting away again for half the afternoon

    Not really. The afternoon is one of the few times I have to make comments.

    Anyway, I repeat: You misunderstood my “delusion” comment rather badly, because you didn’t bother to try to understand the larger context in which is was made. And yet you sit there and claim that the “Kseniya” to which you have responded is not entirely of your own construction.

    Excuse me, but…what? If you’re “delusion” comment was another atheist insult, I probably just gave it the attention it deserves. As for me constructing you, at all, in any way shape or form… what?

  203. #203 Kseniya
    August 1, 2007

    David,

    Surely you are not so obtuse.

    This is how you construct your strawmen:

    You claim to have an opinion, some compelling evidence, or a salient bit of communicable something-or-other that you’ve chosen to withhold from the discussion. You withhold it because you “know” exactly what “everyone” – all those nasty atheists, all of them – will do with your precious and fragile offering: They will mock it and dismiss it, they will mock and dismiss you and call you a liar, deluded, or worse.

    You do this with some frequency.

    ? “Though I’m certain you won’t believe me, I […]”

    ? “The anecdotal evidence I have is my own life. Of course, you will deny this without knowing a thing about my life. I am curious what fundie tactic you will use to deny it.”

    ? “Carlie, there is no point in talking about the details of my life with you, as you will just deny the details.”

    ? “You of course, will deny all of this. Just as I expect you to.”

    ? “You won’t deny what I have to say about my life, but you will scorn, deride, mock and deny that the decisions I made were ‘rational’.”

    ? But as I’m certain that I will be wasting my time, I see no reason to role the dice with you.

    ? Let me tell you what would happen if I did that. By the time I did that, there would be at least 3 comments saying that I’ve “run away” or something like that.

    ? Should I post anything, the response would be something along the lines of “It’s rubbish. Its not evidence. You’re stupid.”

    With the exception of the first example (which I admit is a bit of a different thing), in not one of these cases did you offer ANY information that could be evaluated in any way, positively or negatively, fairly or unfairly. Each time you do this, you create strawmen. I don’t mean strawman arguments in the conventional sense – what you’ve done is reduce those who’ve engaged you on the blog to strawmen.

    You surround yourself with these strawmen who, according to some unfalsifiable prescience you apparently possess, will inevitably wrong you and dismiss your allegedly persuasive (but invariably withheld) information. You hide behind a wall of imagined future wrongs which will be perpetrated by the very people who you’ve ensured will NOT be able to offer you a meaningful or informed response. As if that weren’t enough, you claim (non-scientific) evidence for God but never get any closer to describing it than suggesting that it is analogous to an estimation of the likelihood of extra-terrestrial life. That sounds to me like a track worth pursuing, but you decline to elucidate (see: “imagined future wrongs”).

    Furthermore, you derail threads by refusing to answer simple questions asked for the sake of clarification. Eventually the other people get frustrated, and to a limited degree your self-fulfilling prophesies begin to come true. It’s pointlessly exasperating for all involved – surely even for you. No?

    Or is that your game? Is that the payoff? You get to be the sole brave soul, one armed only with The Truth and his own intransigence, awash in the turbulent baying of atheist fundies?

    If so, the game is largely of your own devising. It’s all in your head. Many of the wrongs you attribute to your opponents have not actually occurred – you have not allowed them to occur. Yet you can’t even begin to acknowledge that this even might be happening. Either your self-awareness approaches that of a geranium, or you really are (in a sense quite apart from the nature of the accusations that you not only expect, but invite) a lying dog. Oh, I’m sorry. Let me rephrase that: This behavior is either disingenuous or pathological. There are no other possible explanations. Other than demonic possession, of course. (See? I’m staying on-topic.)

    So. Which is it? Disingenuous troll? Or some kind of personality disorder? Is there a third option I’m missing? (Yes, that is an open door. Wide open. Go for it.)

    As for “atheist insults” – putting aside the fact that you completely misunderstood my comment, why do you assume I’m an atheist? Have I ever self-identified as an atheist? Have you combed through the last year of Pharyngulan posts to arrived at this conclusion? No? Why? Oh, I think I know: What possible purpose can I serve you if you discover I’m not, or if you come to realize that I may have been arguing against equating religious belief with delusion? I do realize how inconvenient that would be for you. After all, in your world, my actual beliefs mean nothing, for I’m not a person at all: I exist only in the form assigned to me when you created me, a form against which you effortlessly bounce your solipsistic persecution fantasies.

    What can I conclude but this: You have limited interest in real dialogue or even in honestly presenting and representing your own viewpoints. Am I wrong? If so, it will not be enough for you to simply claim it. You must demonstrate it, for the evidence thus far does seem to favor my conclusion.

  204. #204 windy
    August 1, 2007

    Dialogue with David seems to be leading nowhere, so how about doing one of those Daily Show things and have him argue with himself? None of us is a match for his superior theist intelligence, anyway!

    David 1:

    …I regard the probability of life’s occurrence to be so low, that while I believe it might happen once, twice can be safely discounted to me.

    David 2:

    Yes, its not terribly surprising that if you allow the probability of life to be whatever you need it to be, you get the results you want. Good for you for realizing this. Do you have any evidence that the probability IS that?

    Ooh, what a comeback! What do you say to that, David 1?

  205. #205 Kseniya
    August 1, 2007

    We have a fascinating guest today, Windy. The debate is off to a coruscating start. I guess nothing can be “safely discounted” when David 2 is around!

  206. #206 Steve_C
    August 1, 2007

    Either A. David is a coward. or B. He has no credible evidence

    and of course there is C. He is a coward and has no evidence.

  207. #207 David
    August 1, 2007

    I don’t mean strawman arguments in the conventional sense – what you’ve done is reduce those who’ve engaged you on the blog to strawmen.

    You surround yourself with these strawmen who, according to some unfalsifiable prescience you apparently possess, will inevitably wrong you and dismiss your allegedly persuasive (but invariably withheld) information.

    Well, if the shoe fits… hardly seems wrong in pointing that out, now does it?

    But anyway, its not like the atheists here are the first I’ve ever met. It’s not like this is the first time I’ve ever had these types of conversations before. I have. With fundie atheists, and fundie Christians. After awhile, you get to notice a pattern. (Just as the atheists here notice a pattern in fundie Christians). So what you call prescience, I just call good sense, and the ability to realize that there’s no point in going down the road. I already know where it will lead. In short, been there, done that, got the t-shirt.

    You ask what “game” I’m playing? I’m leaving comments. That’s my game. I’m not going to try and evangelize, apologize or do anything like that here. There is no point in doing so. You’ve heard the Gospel, and you’ve rejected it. No point in evangelism. It’s not like what arguments I have are revolutionary in nature. They are probably better formed then some, but that’s about it.

  208. #208 tony
    August 1, 2007

    David: You have failed to answer any questions. You continue to obfuscate behind a wall of impenetrable babble.

    If you think we’re being ‘fundie’… in what sense? We’re asking you to enlighten us. When we do so, you respond (as Kseniya and others showed above) with nothing. Simply empty words and whining.

    I[m not going to repeat Kseniya’s post – it covered ALL of the open issues, and the issue we all have with you…

    If your arguments are indeed probably better formed then some then tell us what they are.

    We’ve provided you (consistently) with the reasoning for our position. You continue to refuse to do us the same courtesy.

  209. #209 kmarissa
    August 1, 2007

    Either your self-awareness approaches that of a geranium, or you really are (in a sense quite apart from the nature of the accusations that you not only expect, but invite) a lying dog. Oh, I’m sorry. Let me rephrase that…

    Kseniya, I haven’t even been following this thread, but my first thought on reading your post was, “Wow, if David got Kseniya, of all people, to say something like THAT, he must really be a jack-ass.” And then I laughed for a while 😉

  210. #210 David
    August 1, 2007

    If you think we’re being ‘fundie’… in what sense? We’re asking you to enlighten us.

    Beyond the fact that you act like one, and you talk like one, you aren’t fundamentalist at all.

    Why do I know that you act like a fundamentalist? I’ve been stating time and time again, times in which some atheist has acted like a fundamentalist Christian. Try looking some of that up.

  211. #211 David
    August 1, 2007

    The few times I have engaged in serious discussion on scienceblogs, (with one exception), I’ve been met with some of the worst Biblical interpretation I personally have seen, insults, and magic atheist psychic powers.

    Why should I bother doing it again?

  212. #212 Steve_C
    August 1, 2007

    He basically came on here to defend religion and did a piss poor job of it.

    Then said that he had evidence that god exists, and when we jumped the gun and made guesses he got all pouty and wouldn’t give it up.

    So he got what you would expect… a bunch of skeptics saying “yeah, prove it.” and the religous man saying… “i would but you wouldn’t listen to me anyway. you atheists are such fundamentalists when it comes to ‘evidence’.”

  213. #213 Steve_C
    August 1, 2007

    That’s because the bible is goofy, silly stuff.

    I really don’t need a degree in theology to get that.

  214. #214 tony
    August 1, 2007

    David: If asking for evidence when it is continually ‘alluded to’ is being a fundamentalist athiest then I’m happy to wear that moniker with pride.

    You however are simply a dumnfuck who cannot comprehend simple english, defends himself against imaginary attacks, and hides behind delusion while espousing a psuedo-intellectual rationality.

    I’ve been met with some of the worst Biblical interpretation I personally have seen, insults, and magic atheist psychic powers

    worst interpretation? I presume according to your interpretation? i.e. we disagree with your cherished beliefs so we’re incompetent

    insults? The only insults have been due to YOUR behaviour and intransigence. (see my comment above) The insults are secondary/tertiary responses – unlike yours.

    magic athiest psychic powers? I was under the impression we all ridicule you for believing in magic… strange you should think that *we* indulge in such… projection?

  215. #215 tony
    August 1, 2007

    Sorry: that’s dumbfuck

  216. #216 David
    August 1, 2007

    He basically came on here to defend religion and did a piss poor job of it.

    This is a PERFECT explanation of why I think people here act like fundies. This is a wonderful fundie tactic. Despite the fact that I’ve already stated why I am here, Steve_C, with his magic powers of atheist reasoning, pierced my veil of deception and concluded that what I said about myself is in fact false. Steve_C, with his powers of atheist thinking ends up (apparently) knowing more about myself than I do.

    Thanks Steve_C. You’ve saved me a lot of time.

  217. #217 Brownian
    August 1, 2007

    Beyond the fact that you act like one, and you talk like one, you aren’t fundamentalist at all.

    Someone flip the tape over. We’ve heard this side already.

  218. #218 tony
    August 1, 2007

    Oh! that’s right! David is merely here to comment.

    But in commenting, can we presume that you have a position? Or is this simply a wank?

  219. #219 David
    August 1, 2007

    David: If asking for evidence when it is continually ‘alluded to’ is being a fundamentalist athiest then I’m happy to wear that moniker with pride.

    I wouldn’t put it on quite yet tony. Its not the fact that you ask for evidence. Its the fact the second I start to give it, you basically ignore the questions that I ask, the points that I make, and start hurling insults. THAT’s what makes you a fundie. (That, and your ability to misinterpret what I say). Not the fact that you ask for evidence.

    You however are simply a dumnfuck who cannot comprehend simple english,

    Yes, I obviously don’t understand English. Here I am, talking to you in English, responding to your insults in English but no… I don’t understand English. Good job.

    worst interpretation? I presume according to your interpretation?

    No. According to the fact that his interpretation was rebutted by the very first verse of the passages he was supposed to be interpreting. I tend to find that rather bad form.

    I was under the impression we all ridicule you for believing in magic… strange you should think that *we* indulge in such… projection?

    I’m not sure what else to call Steve_C’s ability to apparently, despite the fact that I’ve stated the reasons why I’ve come here, without a shred of evidence, jump to the conclusion that I’m wrong, he’s right, and here is what I’ve really been thinking. If you know another word for such psychic abilities, let me know.

  220. #220 David
    August 1, 2007

    Oh! that’s right! David is merely here to comment.

    But in commenting, can we presume that you have a position?

    Oh yes, I do have a position.

    My position is that for people supposedly dedicated to standing up for concepts like “truth”, “critical thinking”, and so on, you act exactly like the people you accuse of not demonstrating the qualities you claim to defend.

    Personally I alternate from finding it hilarious, to finding it rather sad. Depends on the insanity of it all.

  221. #221 Steve_C
    August 1, 2007

    In your “comments” you’ve criticized atheists and claim to have evidence of god.
    You also said that religion was not equal to delusion.

    When clearly it is. Because it’s based on faith and lack of evidence.

    That’s defending religion. Whether you think it is or not. You’ve critcized people for their critcism of religion and how it makes them do and say stupid and or violent things.

    Other than that you just “comment” on the comments about you.

    If you actually had something worthwhile to say we would read it and the decide how to respond. And we have when you’ve managed to actually defend yourself.

    I feel like David has been a commenter before… maybe with a different nic.
    His form of commeting I’ve seen before.

    And here we are 2 days later and still no “evidence”.

  222. #222 tony
    August 1, 2007

    Excuse me if I demur, b ut I don;t see a ‘position’ here…

    My position is that for people supposedly dedicated to standing up for concepts like “truth”, “critical thinking”, and so on, you act exactly like the people you accuse of not demonstrating the qualities you claim to defend.

    You make a statement about the posters here, and our supposed “values”… but nothing about *your* position.

    You also inform us our your reaction to the posts… but again no position is stated.

    Would you like to try again? Do you have a position?

  223. #223 kmarissa
    August 1, 2007

    My position is that for people supposedly dedicated to standing up for concepts like “truth”, “critical thinking”, and so on, you act exactly like the people you accuse of not demonstrating the qualities you claim to defend.

    You know, this is actually a brilliant tactic! After all, atheists are concerned with evidence, right? So how do you deal with the fact that you have no evidence? Well, you SAY you have some, and then refuse to show it! For more than 200 comments, you refuse to present ANY evidence! But of COURSE you have some. Obviously. Otherwise you’d just look foolish. And if anyone jumps the gun and claims that, actually you have no evidence, you accuse them of not caring about truth or critical thinking. A perfect plan…

  224. #224 Brownian
    August 1, 2007

    My position is that for people supposedly dedicated to standing up for concepts like “truth”, “critical thinking”, and so on, you act exactly like the people you accuse of not demonstrating the qualities you claim to defend.

    We heard you the first time.

    Its the fact the second I start to give it, you basically ignore the questions that I ask, the points that I make, and start hurling insults.

    So, the insults stop you from typing somehow? You can’t finish your thoughts?

    Try not refreshing the page until you’re ready to post. Easy. Simple. Done and done. Problem solved.

    Now show us the money.

    Let me tell you what would happen if I did that. By the time I did that, there would be at least 3 comments saying that I’ve “run away” or something like that. Too afraid to stand up to the high and mighty atheists. Should I post anything, the response would be something along the lines of “It’s rubbish. Its not evidence. You’re stupid.” (I admit, conceivably more words would be used).

    So what? You continually evade our questions and keep chanting “you act just like fundamentalists” like it’s the Kyrie eleison. Never stopped us.

    Grow a pair and quit whining. Nobody here’s gonna buy you an ice cream for your skinned knee.

  225. #225 David
    August 1, 2007

    In your “comments” you’ve criticized atheists and claim to have evidence of god.

    True.

    You also said that religion was not equal to delusion.

    True.

    When clearly it is. Because it’s based on faith and lack of evidence.

    Wow. “clearly it is”. “It’s based on faith and lack of evidence”. I’m bowled over by your rational argumentation. Truly, all my base do indeed belong to you.

    If you actually had something worthwhile to say we would read it and the decide how to respond.

    As I already know how you will respond, why should I bother waiting for you to respond?

    I feel like David has been a commenter before… maybe with a different nic.

    Ah, yet another fundie tactic, though one unique to discussion boards. When in doubt, imply that the other is being duplicitous. If not in what I say, in who I purport to be. Didn’t you once do this by claiming that I was an ID?

    Excuse me if I demur, b ut I don;t see a ‘position’ here…

    This is not my fault. That is the position I’ve taken on this board, and about the people on it.

  226. #226 David
    August 1, 2007

    So what? You continually evade our questions and keep chanting “you act just like fundamentalists” like it’s the Kyrie eleison.

    As that’s the only point I’ve wanted to make, its not surprising that I’ve repeated it.

  227. #227 tony
    August 1, 2007

    WTF?

    Excuse me if I demur, b ut I don;t see a ‘position’ here…

    This is not my fault. That is the position I’ve taken on this board, and about the people on it.

    So your position is…. that you have no position?

    If you actually had something worthwhile to say we would read it and the decide how to respond.

    As I already know how you will respond, why should I bother waiting for you to respond?

    So… you can read our minds? An accusation you made against Steve_C proves to be a positive for you?

    WTF?

  228. #228 Rey Fox
    August 1, 2007

    And now that you’ve made it, you can fuck off, right?

  229. #229 True Bob
    August 1, 2007

    Uh oh, he’s on to us! I knew that the huge assemblies, the numerous TV programs, atheist evangelists, bought politicians, marching in the streets, all the Zero Commandments monuments, all the laws and all that not praying in public would give us away!

    David, go and boil your bottom, son of a silly person. I blow my nose at you, so-called David, you and all your silly strawmen!

  230. #230 Steve_C
    August 1, 2007

    Didn’t he say his “evidence” was even original and that we’ve probably heard it all before?

    Maybe he just doesn’t want to be laughed at. Maybe his argument is that only Fundie Atheists laugh at religion.

  231. #231 Brownian
    August 1, 2007

    Fundiesfundiesfundiesfundiesfundiesfundiesfundiesfundiesfundiesfundiesfundiesfundiesfundiesfundiesfundiesfundiesfundiesfundiesfundiesfundiesfundiesfundiesfundiesfundiesfundiesfundiesfundiesfundies.

    Anything else I can do for you in the name of Christian Charity?, David?

  232. #232 Kagehi
    August 1, 2007

    Maybe his “evidence” is the old magic math formula thing. You know, the one where you get to plug in your own numbers for how likely something is, so if you are a believer and think the odds of some element is like 50%, then you get a result of 80% chance of God existing, but if you think the odds are like 0%, you get 0%…

    Probabilities have to be based on known facts though for them to mean anything. If you have no other evidence to support the assertion that something *could* or *may* exist in the first place, the logical conclusion is that the odds for it must be 0%, not, “What ever odds I decide to insert for personal reasons.” Then again, since he doesn’t want to give us “any” of this evidence, I am only making a wild guess. Wait, no… Its a mid probability guess, since its the most common non-science, but also non-personal/psychic/spiritual, method used to make arguments about the issue, and his statement that the possibility of god being *similarly* defined as the possibility of extra terrestrials would seem to imply the use of statistics to get there. But see, I can say is mid-probability because *I* have strong evidence of it being used before, while he has… Hmm, what was the *primary* evidence he has again that he might use to *derive* the probability of a god existing in the first place?

  233. #233 Brownian
    August 1, 2007

    Sorry Kagehi, but your post was in vain. David only wanted to make one point, and he did so at least a few weeks back if I remember correctly.

    I don’t know why he keeps repeating himself, though. Some kind of verbal tic?

  234. #234 David
    August 1, 2007

    You know, this is kinda fun. If I had a prize to offer, I’d try to make it into a game. “Guess the evidence!” or something like that.

  235. #235 Steve_C
    August 1, 2007

    If you’re an atheist and you laugh at religion and think religion = delusion you’re a fundamentalist.

    That’s his sole point. He didn’t even show that religious people aren’t deluded.
    In fact he pretty much showed us he himself has been deluded into thinking he has evidence of God’s existence.

    Maybe he doesn’t want that under scrutiny because we would prove him wrong.

    Once people realize they are in fact deluded… they often snap out of it and are no longer religious.

  236. #236 Kagehi
    August 1, 2007

    Unless they are also at least marginally insane, in which case, by definition, its not possible for them to recognize that they are deluded. But lets not go there, since we hardly have sufficient justification (or for most of us sufficient qualifications) to make such an assessment.

  237. #237 David
    August 1, 2007

    If you’re an atheist and you laugh at religion and think religion = delusion you’re a fundamentalist.

    That’s his sole point.

    As per usual, wrong. That’s not my sole point at all.

    That’s his sole point. He didn’t even show that religious people aren’t deluded.

    Nor do I need to. It’s your claim, not mine. If you want to show me evidence that all religious people are deluded, go right ahead. Usually though its more of:

    1. Some religious people are deluded.
    2. I think religion is crazy.
    3. I’m an atheist, therefore I’m scientific and smart.
    4. Therefore all relgious people are crazy.

    Not the best of arguments, but… well you know.

    Once people realize they are in fact deluded… they often snap out of it and are no longer religious.

    Of course. And all the people who were atheists, realized they were deluded about that, and became Christians, really, really just argued themselves into delusion. You know this of course, because of your magic atheist powers of deduction.

    Now I’m just starting to enjoy this.

    Just for fun, if you’re up for it, let’s go tit for tat. For every piece of evidence that shows that no God exists, I’ll offer a piece of evidence that I feel shows that either God, or the supernatural exists. Anyone up for that? Probably not, as I’ll get the usual atheistic line that atheists don’t have the burden of proof, so they don’t need evidence.

  238. #238 kmarissa
    August 1, 2007

    So then you also believe in Zeus, Hera, and the rest of the Greek pantheon? After all, you have no evidence that they don’t exist, so it would be irrational for you to think that they don’t.

  239. #239 Brownian
    August 1, 2007

    Of course you’re joking, because a negation cannot be proved.

    I do know that you’ll counter any polemic I offer against the Abrahamic God with “You’re misinterpreting scripture”, a common fundamentalist cop-out. You’ve already claimed (on whose authority I have no idea) that we know nothing about religion.

    Some game.

    I see no need to jump through your fundie hoops.

  240. #240 David
    August 1, 2007

    Of course you’re joking, because a negation cannot be proved.

    First of all, that’s not true. Negations be proven. Its not that hard to prove that there is no largest prime (for instance). Secondly, when did I ask for proof? I didn’t. I asked for evidence. Something. Anything.

    I do know that you’ll counter any polemic I offer against the Abrahamic God with “You’re misinterpreting scripture”, a common fundamentalist cop-out.

    It depends. Given the other times I’ve had people quote scripture to me on atheistblogs, they’ve shown that they have put little to no time into understanding it. Perhaps you will be different. I doubt it, but hey, its possible. On the otherhand, if all you offer is screeds about how much you dislike the Christian God, I won’t say much more than, “That’s not evidence of anything”. Or something to that effect.

    I see no need to jump through your fundie hoops.

    All right. Well, my offer is still out there, in case you ever become interested.

    I’ll tell you what though, I’ll even go first. Since you’ve probably heard the basics of this argument before, I’ll just give an overview. That way I don’t have to waste too much time, you all get your chance to throw your usual insults, everyone’s happy.

    There are only two option in regards to the existence of the supernatural. It exists, or it doesn’t. If one option cannot be logically held, then we must go with the other option. Naturalism cannot be logically held. Therefore, I believe in the supernatural.

    Why can’t Naturalism be logically held? Because to be sure of a naturalistic worldview, one must necessarily undercut reason. Reason can discover what is useful in such a worldview, not what is true. As Naturalism (like any worldview) is a product of reason it undercuts itself.

    Now, let the insults begin.

    By the way, I’ve heard the whole, “This is ridiculous, its obvious that science and reason work, you’re typing on a computer which is a product, and so on”. Computer’s are useful. Does that make theories behind electricity true?

  241. #241 True Bob
    August 1, 2007

    delude [di-lood]
    -verb (used with object), -luded, -luding.
    1. to mislead the mind or judgment of; deceive.
    2. Obsolete. to mock or frustrate the hopes or aims of.
    3. Obsolete. to elude; evade.

    So current usage is only definition 1, above. Religious people are deluded = Religious people have been misled or deceived.

    Real world 1
    Troll 0

  242. #242 True Bob
    August 1, 2007

    David,

    Please define Naturalism and supernatural.

  243. #243 Steve_C
    August 1, 2007

    Someone is confused about the difference between being deluded and crazy.

    I never said religion=crazy.

    I never said religious were not smart.

    I never said atheists base their world view on science.

    Sounds like someone else is jumping to assumptions about all atheists.

  244. #244 kmarissa
    August 1, 2007

    All right. Well, my offer is still out there, in case you ever become interested.

    How about this offer instead: show us evidence for God or the supernatural.

    That’s it! That’s all you have to do! And you’d win! And we’d all hide our heads in shame.

    Just one little thing you have to do to make all us evil atheists go away… So why is it so hard for you to do?

  245. #245 Brownian
    August 1, 2007

    Since you offered your argument in good faith, David, I’m happy to entertain it, but others with a stronger background in philosophy might be better suited to this discussion.

    First of all, we might need to define natural and supernatural before we get into that. For instance, a god who operates outside as well as inside what we hold to be ‘true’ (I’m using a positivist definition of ‘true,’ that being that if we can predict how the electron cloud behaves, that’s good enough, even if we cannot actually observe it) would not be solely supernatural. Thus a god who talks to us, sets bushes alight and so on would not be strictly supernatural. A deist deity who set the universe in motion and then left to attend other business, never to return, would be.

    But we can leave that until later.

    To examine your argument:

    Because to be sure of a naturalistic worldview, one must necessarily undercut reason.

    I don’t understand why you claim this. Could you elaborate?

    Reason can discover what is useful in such a worldview, not what is true.

    I think this goes to an epistemological definition of Truth, which as far as I know, is true.

    As Naturalism (like any worldview) is a product of reason it undercuts itself.

    Again, this depends on your first premise, but you must elaborate some of these terms to tighten your argument.

  246. #246 Kseniya
    August 1, 2007

    * blink *

  247. #247 tony
    August 1, 2007

    David: You appear to be using an argument similar to Godel’s incompleteness theorem to suggest that reason is insufficient to determine all truth in nature.

    However that argument is fundamentally flawed.

    To begin: the theorem (IIRC) states that every *formal* system contains a stetement that cannot be determined to be true or false within the terms of that formal system. i.e. every formal system is incomplete.

    As Brownian stated earlier: we are not seeking ‘perfection’ or ‘completion’ in our reason – merely ‘best approximation’. To continue and generalize his example: If we can predict with appropriate and necessary resolution the behaviour of the natural world — then we need not also be able to directly observe, nor need we be able to predict, *every* element simultaneouosly – per Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle.

    This means that science does not in any way negate or challenge the terms of such ‘incompleteness’.

    You seem to see a need to conflate some desire for ‘perfect knowledge’ with the definition of ‘rationality’ and ‘science’ — from the above you may be able to conclude that I do not see any such need of requirement.

    If you indeed posit a requirement for ‘perfection’ then, of course, the only place that you can attain such is external to the system – i.e. something supernatural.

    I do not see the need for such perfection, or knowledge of perfection, so do not need to posit suchg a requirement.

  248. #248 Steve_C
    August 1, 2007

    *wink*

  249. #249 MESchlum
    August 1, 2007

    A number of problems in this argument. My first difficulty was that I wasn’t sure how the argument was connected to the discussion. But never mind that, and let’s see what there is to it.

    There are only two option in regards to the existence of the supernatural. It exists, or it doesn’t.

    Fallacy of the excluded middle. Some forms of supernatural things could exist, while others did not. A poor beginning.

    If one option cannot be logically held, then we must go with the other option.

    See above. As an example, consider a universe where two potential supernatural forces might exist: ‘magic’, used by underground dwelling elves, and ‘telepathy’, used by advanced humans living in the Himalayas.

    Proving that there are no underground elven cities does not indicate that there are no mountain dwelling gurus. Thus, proving that ‘magic’ does not exist in this universe does not prove that ‘telepathy’ does not exist.

    The moral? Please specify what the supernatural is. And naturalism too, for that matter. Also, be very careful about binary statements – they can work, but then the elves cast intangibility spells and you’re back to square one.

    Naturalism cannot be logically held. Therefore, I believe in the supernatural.

    Not necessarily valid, as shown above. Do you believe in ‘magic’ and ‘telepathy’? Only one? Neither?

    I’ll be generous, and try to restate your claim in a way that is less open to (mis)interpretation. If you disagree with my restatement, feel free to clarify.

    Revised claim: “I have a logical argument showing that naturalism is invalid. Therefore, some form of supernatural (non-naturalist) force exists.”

    As stated, you still need to be clear on what you mean by naturalism, and it helps to have some notion of what supernatural forces are logically supportable. Otherwise the gurus will mentally dominate the elves into creating cities out of rainbows.

    Why can’t Naturalism be logically held?

    Coming to the meat of the actual argument here.

    Because to be sure of a naturalistic worldview, one must necessarily undercut reason.

    Why? Where is this proven? This is, to me, a middling way to start a logical proof. I prefer mine to be better docuemnted, so I know where I’m coming from and where I’m going.

    May I rephrase this?

    “Theorem: A naturalistic worldview must undercut reason.”

    The rephrasing sets down your statement, as I understand it, and claims that you will prove this – which I hope is the intent.

    Also, defining ‘reason’ and ‘undercut’ at some point could be convenient.

    Reason can discover what is useful in such a worldview, not what is true.

    Ah. An indication that definitions are important here.

    To me, reason (and number theory) can show that 1+1=2 is true (in the proper setting). So our definitions do not match.

    From the context, I take it to mean that you are using ‘reason’ to mean ‘the scientific method’, since this is a method that is used to describe the world, and it explicitly acknowledges that absolute truth is beyond its means. If this interpretation is incorrect, please provide a clearer definition of reason.

    Also, I’ll put this down in my terms, trying for the logical argument.

    “Axiom 1: in a naturalistic worldview, the scientific method is the only means of obtaining knowledge about the world.”

    Note that this is not stated in your argument, but seems to me to be necessary, since you suggest that reason works in different ways in different worldviews.

    “Axiom 2: the scientific method works by extrapolating patterns from observed data.”

    Again, not stated, but a bare bones version of the scientific method. This is probably not correct in many ways, but I hope it provides the context.

    “Lemma 1: An event that does not match observed patterns will not be predicted by the scientific method.”

    Not stated, but agreed on by scientists: if something is observed that we didn’t predict… we didn’t predict it.

    “Lemma 2: The scientific method can never be sure that its model of the world is complete and correct for all cases.”

    This is how, by logic, I reach the conclusion you state above, albeit using my terms rather than yours. I have skipped a few steps, but the process is there.

    As Naturalism (like any worldview) is a product of reason it undercuts itself.

    Bwah? I am sorry, I cannot see how this conclusion was reached.

    I suspect there are a number of definitions that have issues here.

    My redefinition of reason as ‘the scientific method’ is an obvious difficulty here, since, to my knowledge, worldviews are not the product of the scientific method, nor is naturalism.

    However, this means that you need to restate your intermediate claim (about reason), since other definitions of reason may not give the same final lemma.

    A possible restatement, which is not supported by the prior claims, is as follows.

    “Lemma 3: A naturalistic worldview relies on the scientific method for knowledge, and can therefore never be certain that the models it uses to describe the world are completely accurate.”

    “Lemma 4: If a worldview in which the models used to describe the world are completely accurate and known to be such exists, this worldview is non-naturalistic.”

    “Claim: such a non-naturalistic worldview exists, denoted W.”

    “Lemma 5: The superior descriptive powers of worldview W make it preferable to the naturalistic worldview, by the premises of the scientific method.”

    The issue I have with the logic above is that the Claim is not proven. Furthermore, even if it were proven, the issue of determining which worldview is W remains a complicated issue, albeit one that does not relate to the argument.

    So why is the claim not proven?

    Well, I’d toss Godel into the ring to come from the existence aspect: worldview W needs to be complete and consistent, which is not possible as soon as the system studied is complex enough.

    And from the logic perspective, the claim also fails. Let’s use teleportation.

    “Lemma 3: We don’t know if there are discontinuities in space, we only know we have never found any.”

    “Lemma 4: In order to teleport, space must be discontinuous.”

    “Claim: Therefore, we can teleport.”

    Seems a bit lacking.

  250. #250 tony
    August 1, 2007

    Whoa!

    MESchlum: very cool post! I swoon with jealousy

  251. #251 Steve_C
    August 1, 2007

    Wow. That’s some cold hard eviscerating.

  252. #252 tony
    August 1, 2007

    mmmmm…. viscera!

    tasty — especially when exposed into a glistening mass and pulled ever so gently into un-natural forms!

  253. #253 tony
    August 2, 2007

    I wonder if David will be able to respond to the latest round… waiting with bated breath (not)

  254. #254 Kseniya
    August 2, 2007

    Oh come on, Tony. David knew MESchlum was going to say all that. It was nothing more or less than the usual atheist spew, what with all that fundy “logic” and the thinly-veiled insults! You seriously think David won’t be prepared, as he always is, with a devastating rebuttal? Well think again, mister smarty-pants!

    I’m not a mind-reader like David, but I confess that do have some predictions. However, I’m not going to share them with you, because I know you’ll only use them against me, you godless mocking bastard sons of dogmatic communist nazis yankee fans. And if you think I haven’t run into godless mocking bastard sons of dogmatic communist nazis yankee fans before today, you’re sadly mistaken.

  255. #255 Steve_C
    August 2, 2007

    Maybe he just recognized the beat down he received and decided to throw in the towel.

    But I doubt it.

    God is on his side. He can’t lose.

  256. #256 Kseniya
    August 2, 2007

    Right, Steve, I think David will be back, if only so he can try to claim how he predicted that everyone would accuse him of “running away”.

    Anyways, to be fair, I don’t think he would run away. Furthermore, I think he’s in the UK and his window of bloggortunity is in the evening BST, which corresponds mid-to-late afternoon US-EDT, so patience is indicated. 🙂

  257. #257 tony
    August 2, 2007

    Kseniya, Steve_C

    I wonder if David will respond to the Godel argument… Or if his response will (again) be incomplete

  258. #258 tony
    August 2, 2007

    Kseniya: how did you know I was a bastard?

    Whoa! You *must* be a mind-reader!

    One minor correction. My dad was a Glasgow Celtic fan (not Yankees) – close, though!

  259. #259 Steve_C
    August 2, 2007

    Most, if not all, of his arguments are incomplete.

    His usual tactic is to say “see?, you proved my point, thanks.”

    And then he leaves it at that.

  260. #260 tony
    August 2, 2007

    Steve_C: your statement was also incomplete…. you missed the bits where he says “you’re wrong” or “you’re lying” or “you’re engaging in fundamentalism”

    If *only* he left it at that…

  261. #261 Steve_C
    August 2, 2007

    hehe.

    He breaks them up a bit. They don’t all appear in the same comment.

  262. #262 David
    August 2, 2007

    Furthermore, I think he’s in the UK and his window of bloggortunity is in the evening BST, which corresponds mid-to-late afternoon US-EDT, so patience is indicated. 🙂

    Nope. Not in the UK. I sometimes wish I was, but I am not.

    David: You appear to be using an argument similar to Godel’s incompleteness theorem to suggest that reason is insufficient to determine all truth in nature.

    Not in the slightest. I don’t care (for now) whether it can determine all truth, I’m curious if a naturalist can trust that reason determines ANY truth. So re-roll and try again.

    Going on,

    1. No, I am not committing that fallacy. If some supernatural things exists, and others do not, then the supernatural exists. In some form. If no supernatural thing exists, then no supernatural thing exists (unsurprisingly). Either something which could be correctly identified as supernatural (for instance I would exclude things like psychics, elves, fairies and what not) exists, or no such thing exists.

    Why? Where is this proven?

    As I already stated, what I wrote was an overview. Not the argument in full.

    To me, reason (and number theory) can show that 1+1=2 is true (in the proper setting).

    You have a number theoretical proof that 1 + 1 =2? This I would like to see.

    “Axiom 2: the scientific method works by extrapolating patterns from observed data.”

    Let me form a slightly alternative version: “The scientific method works by logical reasoning from observed data”. Do you find that acceptable? It’s a more general statement.

    Going on. The atheists here, do not believe that I have arrived my theism through some sort of rational process. Perhaps I have had a personal experience, perhaps I just grew up in a religious home… lots of possibilities, perhaps I have some mental problem… so on and so forth. The basic idea though, is that I cannot be, honestly, rationally, thinking about theism. (Because if I did, I would be an atheist). To some extent, my beliefs must be (to some extent), influenced by non-rational processes.

    Am I wrong on this?

  263. #263 Graculus
    August 2, 2007

    The basic idea though, is that I cannot be, honestly, rationally, thinking about theism. (Because if I did, I would be an atheist). To some extent, my beliefs must be (to some extent), influenced by non-rational processes.

    Am I wrong on this?

    From mmy PoV (atheist, yues), you are not wrong.

    1) “Non-rational” and “irrational” are not, to me synonyms.

    2) This only becomes a problem if you a) claim that your theism is based on rational processes or b) try to inflict your theism on the rest of us.

    Clear?

  264. #264 Kseniya
    August 2, 2007

    One of my ex-boyfriend’s dad is a Glasgow native, and a very charming man indeed. Okay, I take back the “dogmatic” part. And the “yankee fan” part. Oh heck, I take it all back, I didn’t really mean it anyway. I’m such a loozer.

    Nope. Not in the UK. I sometimes wish I was, but I am not.

    Ah well, it seemed a reasonable guess. Sometimes I wish I was elsewhere, too. Someday: Kiev, and beyond.

  265. #265 tony
    August 2, 2007

    but, Kseniya… I want to be a godless mocking bastard son of a dogmatic communist nazi glagow celtic fan

    And david: I’ll get back to you when I have an opportunity to type on a larger keyboard (my berry is ok for short text but my fingers are too large for typing anything long)

  266. #266 Kseniya
    August 2, 2007

    Ok Tony. (Geez, and here I was letting you off the hook entirely!)

  267. #267 tony
    August 2, 2007

    OK David – back in the fray…

    I don’t care (for now) whether it can determine all truth, I’m curious if a naturalist can trust that reason determines ANY truth.

    You seem to misunderstand *our* position. We are not *seekers after Truth*. We are simply looking for some ability to predict that which we observe. Science is the *methodology* by which we do so. As we’ve stated it is not and is never expected to be *perfect*, nor do we ever expect to find *truth* – merely workable hypotheses and theories that reasonably predict what we observe.

    Maybe you should be posting on a philosophy blog?

    If some supernatural things exists, and others do not, then the supernatural exists. In some form. If no supernatural thing exists, then no supernatural thing exists (unsurprisingly).

    Ok I get that you can write a tautology… but I don’t have a clue what your intention is here? Can you maybe re-do this in less confusing terms? Are you professing belief in something ‘supernatural’ or not? You stated earlier a belief in ‘,god’, so I presume from that you believe in something supernatural. We got that already. Not sure what your tautology was supposed to illustrate, then.

    The atheists here, do not believe that I have arrived my theism through some sort of rational process. Perhaps […], perhaps […] lots of possibilities, perhaps […] so on and so forth. The basic idea though, is that I cannot be, honestly, rationally, thinking about theism. […] To some extent, my beliefs must be […]influenced by non-rational processes.

    here we get to the crux of the matter. You keep stating that *we* are ignoring your personal reasons for belief, and ascribe other ‘non-rational’ or ‘delusional’ bases for your belief. However you fail to provide us with *any* rationale or reason, and as many have stated before our experience has provided us many observed examples where the professed rationale for belief was verifiably delusional or non-rational. You fail to provide any counter to this ‘observed pattern’ – so, appropriately, our response is to use our observations to generate a hypothesis that guides our prediction about *your* rationale — i.e. we predict that you too are deluded.

    next

  268. #268 tony
    August 2, 2007

    Kseniya

    If it makes you feel better, then I’ll pretend to be off the hook… (but may I still be a bastard? It’s so *much* fun!)

  269. #269 mothworm
    August 2, 2007

    I don’t care (for now) whether it can determine all truth, I’m curious if a naturalist can trust that reason determines ANY truth.

    Maybe there’s something deeper to this than I’m seeing, but this seems to be on the level of a late night Freshman drunken-philosophy bull session, and deserves an appropriate response.

    But, dude, aren’t you, like, using reason to say that reason doesn’t work?

    Also, if you don’t trust in reason and logic, why should we think you used them to arrive at your theistic position? Aren’t you just saying “I believe because I believe”? I mean, that’s fine, but it’s not something anyone here is going to find too compelling.

    Even if you find reason lacking, I think it’s a non-sequiter to then say that the supernatural must exist.

    And what do you mean by “truth”?

  270. #270 True Bob
    August 2, 2007

    I had to ask my mom if she made me a bastard. I was maybe 30 when, about 13 years post-divorce, she got her marriage annulled. 😉

    Maybe I’m only a papist bastard?

  271. #271 tony
    August 2, 2007

    True Bob: As a child of a catholic union…. you should of course know that you are, by definition, a papist bastard (as am I).

    Be proud.

  272. #272 Kagehi
    August 2, 2007

    Given that you have provided no rational argument, evidence or explanation of the “rational” process you used to get to your conclusion, its hardly an unreasonable implication. And, just to be clear, you still have an additional hurdle to cross, in that simply proving that, “the supernatural exists in some form”, which you have yet to show any evidence for, you still have to explain why it makes more sense for what ever god you follow to make more sense than say… Mercedes Lackey’s version of “heaven”, which would be described with these attributes:

    1. In between all visible dimensions is set of dimensions with no clear space time, but which is *reactive* to thought.

    2. Discontinuities in our space time let some energy (supernatural forces) *leak* through.

    3. Gods, not just one, but all of them, are just beings who either formed in this place, or got there by accident, then, since time doesn’t quite work the same way there, but is a product of thought, discover they are now immortal and start setting up kingdoms.

    4. The reason we don’t see all these “other” gods around is that the ones *still* around where far more competent at this, while the others got attacked and destroyed by rivals, or by other creatures that exist in this place.

    5. Due to the nature of space time in such a place, multiple “realms” could exist, in near infinite variation, without them being aware of each other, or any easy means existing to get from one to the other.

    The consequence of this would of course be that its unlikely that any of these beings created us, or that nearly all of them are lying, with no clear way to determine which one, or even if *that on* still exists. Nor does it do a damn thing to imply that worshiping the right one will get you anything in the real world, though it *might* mean, assuming you could prove that a) spirits are real and b) so is this, as yet, non-tangible energy type, that people who believe in them enough *do* go to them after they die. But it also would mean that you go where you believe, and not to hell, like all the people whining about sin insist, just because you followed the wrong one.

    Frankly, its all quite silly, but it her stories have elves in them, and I am somewhat partial to elves. lol It does however provide a far more consistent, complete and reasoned description of what, how and *why* such places could exist at all. That’s what you need to come up with David. A reasoned explanation for what any of it is, how it actually works and why it make more fracking sense than any alternative. As of yet, all we have gotten from you is whining about how we can’t seem to peel back the veil from your statements and just somehow have a revelation of what your brilliant evidence consists of.

    And frankly, if a fantasy novelist can come up with a more consistent and complete concept of the after life and the supernatural than someone supposedly talking about the supposedly **real** one you are on about, its a bit hard to take seriously the idea that any such thing exists. And to be clear, 90% of the so called *evidence* people have tried to present for the supernatural in modern times is a *direct* product of modern times, starting during the industrial revolution with spiritualism. Prior to that, we have also no evidence of the supernatural, but lots of evidence of very clever engineers using everything from magnetics, to hydrolics, to just plain building *huge* statues, with speaking tubes in them, as evidence that they didn’t have a scrap of real supernatural evidence either. Its quite odd that the only people science can prove to be lying, mistaken or mislead by modern *evidence* for it are the ones that refuse to have their claims tested at all, yet want everyone, including the people that would have tested their “evidence” to respect their belief and acknowledge that they have some great ‘way of knowing’ that surpasses the evidence based world view. Kind of like you.

    The new Vedic Science (I really wish people would stop gluing religious concepts on a word that doesn’t apply to them…) departments in India think that they have one too. One can assume that, if they are right, we should see Edward Elric arrive at the next war zone with his alchemy kit and a magic spear that can cast lighting… I am not holding my breath, since *real* scientists have been finding the remains of *real* weapons for years, and while we can find the ones that did exist, or blueprints of them, or wall carvings that give hints how to build them, etc., there are some that its damned obvious where either made up, or where misinterpreted as something entirely different, which isn’t hard when the people who build them won’t say how they worked, and the people writing about them never got close enough to make accurate drawings.

    Point being.. You are making an extraordinary claim. We have yet to see **any** evidence from you, never mind extraordinary evidence.

  273. #273 tony
    August 2, 2007

    Ah. but Kagehi, David’s claims are only ‘extraordinary’ to we fundie atheists….

    BTW: when reading your post – esp damned obvious where either made up, or where misinterpreted I had a von daeniken moment…. (ooh it’s a Mayan nuclear powercell!)

    LOL

  274. #274 MESchlum
    August 2, 2007

    I am sorry to say that I find the response more than a little incomplete. Still, one does what one can with what one gets.

    Skipping to what seems to be adressed to my earlier post.

    Fallacy of the excluded middle

    1. No, I am not committing that fallacy. If some supernatural things exists, and others do not, then the supernatural exists. In some form. If no supernatural thing exists, then no supernatural thing exists (unsurprisingly). Either something which could be correctly identified as supernatural (for instance I would exclude things like psychics, elves, fairies and what not) exists, or no such thing exists.

    The issue here is definitions: I was using a positive definition of the supernatural (‘magic’, ‘telepathy’), whereas you are using a negative one (‘not natural’).

    Given that A and not-A is the full set, then by defining ‘supernatural’ as ‘non-naturalistic’, the fallacy of the excluded middle is avoided.

    However, this gives us a precise definition for ‘supernatural’, which may not be compatible with your arguments.

    The naturalistic worldview undercuts reason

    Why? Where is this proven?

    As I already stated, what I wrote was an overview. Not the argument in full.

    But, by my reading, no overview is provided – you give three sentences, which I have tried to break down into claims and axioms, and do not provide a proof.

    I acknowledge that I skip some steps in exposing my claims, but I try to do so where the steps are obvious (to me) and in ways that i can support them. Since you do not appear to dispute any of my Lemmas, I believe you find the reasoning I use clear enough?

    Therefore, since I have stated the point at which I have trouble with your reasoning, I would appreciate it if you could clarify that aspect.

    To me, reason (and number theory) can show that 1+1=2 is true (in the proper setting).

    You have a number theoretical proof that 1 + 1 =2? This I would like to see.

    Sure. Rather strongly off topic, but hey.

    Using set theory, I can construct the integers. (sample steps: start with the null set. Then you can create the set containing the null set. Then, you can create the set containing the set containing the null set, and other sets… Then you start to order them, and begin to count). These integers include ‘1’, which is the first after the null set, and ‘2’ which is the second. The specific combination involved depends on the ordering scheme.

    From the integers, I can define addition (the integers are ordered, so addition involves going forwards a number of steps from a specific point).

    Hence ‘1 + 1’ has a precise meaning, given that addition and integers are defined. It’s the number that comes after 1, since 1 is the first number to come after the null set (0). By definition, the number coming after ‘1’ is ‘2’. Therefore, ‘1 + 1 =2’ is true.

    Happy?

    “Axiom 2: the scientific method works by extrapolating patterns from observed data.”

    Let me form a slightly alternative version: “The scientific method works by logical reasoning from observed data”. Do you find that acceptable? It’s a more general statement.

    On a word level, I am fine with this statement. However, from the logic perspective, I am a bit worried, as I initially introduced the term ‘the scientific method’ as a substitute for ‘reason’ in your set of claims.

    If you define ‘the scientific method’ as depending on ‘reason’ (as in ‘reasoning’), you risk circularity.

    So is there any way in which my definition (admittedly incomplete) is incomplete that makes it impossible to use for your logic? If so, please I’d like to see where this happens.

    I’ll also note that both of our definitions fail to explicitly acknowledge that self correction is part of the process in the scientific method, but that important aspect appears to be an aside in your logic.

    Overall, unless you can provide a good reason (hah!) for your revised statement, I would prefer to use mine. If you have one, I’ll be happy to check it.

    One more note: it appears that you have no more statements about my chain of logic here. I’ll therefore extrapolate (scientifically?) a few points.

    * You appear to agree that you meant ‘the scientific method’ where you write ‘reason’ initially.

    * You have defined ‘supernatural’ as exactly equivalent to ‘non-naturalistic’.

    * You have not provided a logical path to go from ‘a model of the world that is known to be true must be non-naturalistic’ to ‘there is a model of the world that is known to be true’.

    I would very much like to see how you perform that third step, and I’m happy to have helped you clarify what you meant.

    Going on.

    This may be relevant to the discussion, so I’m going over it as well.

    The atheists here, do not believe that I have arrived my theism through some sort of rational process.

    Hm. ‘Theism’. A new term, not used before. This may not relate to earlier arguments.

    Also, is there a reason (hah!) that theists here must believe you reached your theism through a rational process?

    If not, I’ll note a minor ad hominem fallacy and move on.

    If so, I’d like to know the reason.

    In any case, a less distracting statement might use ‘some people’ instead of ‘the atheists’, since we are (I hope) trying to get the core of the problem, not add side issues.

    Perhaps I have had a personal experience, perhaps I just grew up in a religious home… lots of possibilities, perhaps I have some mental problem… so on and so forth.

    I take it this is your statement of the position of some of the people (the atheists?) here. I’m not sure how this relates to matters at hand, but carry on.

    The basic idea though, is that I cannot be, honestly, rationally, thinking about theism. (Because if I did, I would be an atheist). To some extent, my beliefs must be (to some extent), influenced by non-rational processes.

    I had to read that over to work it out. So this is more of what others (the atheists?) are stating?

    Am I wrong on this?

    Am I making this type of statement? I do not believe so, and it seems to me it would be hard to do only two posts into the matter. I think I have been trying to work out what your logic is, and doing my best to clarify it, so I can see wher eit works, and and where it fails.

    Currently, it fails, due to the Claim discussed above.

    If I am making this type of statement, please let me know, as my interest is in your logic, not in your antecedents.

    A few more minor logic issues here:

    Are you assuming that theism is equivalent to supernaturalism? This is a problematic approach, given the way you have defined supernaturalism. If not, and if you wish to use your logic on theism, I would like some definitions / statements so I know what is being discussed.

    Does my theism or atheism affect the quality of my logic? If not, then the final discussion of what other people may claim is irrelevant to the logic at hand, and I suggest we move on. If so, I would like to know why.

    If relevant, any mockery I may have inserted is not intended to be taken personally. I *like* to play with logic, and I like to think it’s playful too, at times.

  275. #275 tony
    August 2, 2007

    MESchlum: I had a flashback to college when you dived into set theory…. long time gone, indeed (but I still think in sets). I loved Lisp for it’s set-purist approach to problem definition and resolution (but it still took me absolutely forever to work out what the heck a given statement *meant*)

    great post.

    aside: are you sure you’re not related to Mr Spock?

  276. #276 tony (fundie athiest)
    August 2, 2007

    MESchlum: I think you may have scared David away….

  277. #277 MESchlum
    August 3, 2007

    tony: Thanks for the compliments. Just trying to make sure that any logic going on is clear.

    I don’t think I’m related to Mr. Spock. For one, I’m pretty sure I have a sense of humor. Now if I can just convince someone else that I do…

    David: one more, possibly minor point on your statements.

    Either something which could be correctly identified as supernatural (for instance I would exclude things like psychics, elves, fairies and what not) exists, or no such thing exists.

    Given the formulation you are using for supernaturalism (anything that is non-naturalism), I don’t see how you can exclude psychics, elves, and so forth.

    If these are not supernatural, then they are by definition naturalistic (since A or not A fully describe all options). And, to the best of my knowledge, there is no naturalistic claim for ‘magic’ using elves living underground.

    I believe the issue may be, once more, a matter of definitions, which I shall, once more, try to clarify.

    “Axiom 3: the supernatural is everything that is non-naturalistic”

    This is the definition you provided.

    “Axiom 4: theism is strictly included in the supernatural.”

    This appears to be what you are aiming for. Note that I specified inclusion, since it is possible for non-theistic yet supernatural things to exist, such as elves.

    Axiom 4 could be expressed in a simpler form (theism is supernatural), but this would induce confusion in the current logic chain, so I have made it clear.

    You appear to use supernatural and theism, as I have defined them, interchangeably, which is poor logic, as the inclusion of Axiom 4 is strict, and there is no axiom or proof stating that the supernatural is included in theism.

    I have used the term theism, because it appears that using it this way makes later statements simpler to express, without loss of meaning.

    “Axiom 5: a worldview that completely describes the world and is known to be accurate is theistic.”

    I have set this down as an axiom, as it conveniently excludes elves, psychics, and so forth from being relevant to the matter at hand.

    Note however that this is a definition, not a proof. There could be incomplete worldviews that are theistic – the axiom simply states that IF there is a complete worldview, it MUST be theistic. Since elves are not theistic (barring the Norse, and Potterites), it is a given that a worldview with such is not complete.

    I’ll also note that the way theism is used in this logic chain may not mesh properly with traditional views of theism, so Axiom 5 could be rejected. I have used it because it makes the steps you use clearer later on.

    “Claim: A worldview that completely describes the world and is known to be accurate exists.”

    The same problem as before – this needs to be proven.

    “Theorem: Given the Claim, there is a theistic worldview that is superior to the naturalistic worldview.”

    This follows from the claim, and from the axioms.

    Thus, all you need to do, assuming you accept my axioms, is demonstrate the Claim.

    I would also recommend using logic to determine which theistic worldview provides a completely accurate model of the world which is known to be accurate. This is because knowing a solution exists is good for mathematicians, but not that great for people who have to actually find the solution. This, however, is a secondary matter in the current discussion.

    Now that, I hope, matters have been even further clarified, I would appreciate it if I could see your proof of the Claim. Preferably with axioms, lemmas, and reasoning, as converting another’s words into logical statements is difficult, prone to error, and often confusing.

  278. #278 Brownian
    August 3, 2007

    Are you typing hard, little assface David?

    Type, type, type!

    God’s proud of you. He told me so Himself.

  279. #279 Kseniya
    August 3, 2007

    Brownian: Tsk.

  280. #280 Kseniya
    August 3, 2007

    Oh, my. I was wrong. He did run away.

  281. #281 Caledonian
    August 3, 2007

    Nope, just an IP block.

  282. #282 David
    August 3, 2007

    In the world of Harry Potter, magic is not seen as “supernatural”. It is simply seen as an aspect of that world. Just as there exists science, (which allows the Muggles to function), there exists magic, which allows witches and wizards to do various things.

    Similarly, psychic powers, elves, griffons and what not, are thought to be part of this world. Perhaps they function on different rules than cars, airplanes, lasers and what not. We exclude these things because we believe that nature excludes them. We’ve never seen any elves, there is no medium that we know of in which psychic powers operate, and so on.

    On the other hand, the idea of the supernatural is the idea that nature does not work in a certain way, yet it has been caused to work in that way by an outside force. Something that must exist “outside of the system”.

    Going on, remember two things:

    1. I am not giving a proof.
    2. I am not attempting to give evidence for theism, merely the existence of the supernatural.

    I would rephase Axiom 5 to state:

    “Axiom 5: a worldview that completely describes the world and is known to be accurate involves supernatural elements”.

    But, by my reading, no overview is provided – you give three sentences, which I have tried to break down into claims and axioms, and do not provide a proof.

    We have different definitions of what constitutes an “overview”.

    So is there any way in which my definition (admittedly incomplete) is incomplete that makes it impossible to use for your logic? If so, please I’d like to see where this happens.

    The difficulty that I have with your statement is that it does not go far enough. Yes, certain there is extrapolation of patterns. But at a point, it people believe that these “patterns” start to describe certain real events. We see (to use a simple example), objects behaving in a “pattern”, and we describe forces that we believe makes them so. Electricity is not just a mathematical abstraction, it is thought to be a real thing, which behaves in certain real ways.

    Moreover, I would not like to talk specifically about the scientific method, but to speak of deductive reasoning in general.

    I’ll also note that both of our definitions fail to explicitly acknowledge that self correction is part of the process in the scientific method, but that important aspect appears to be an aside in your logic.

    As I wish to focus on the deductive reasoning aspect of the scientific method, and not the pattern extrapolation aspect, I do not find this as important. Yes, one can certainly gain “better” patterns. (Better obviously depending on the situation). There still has to be that step from “pattern” to “law”. From the empirical data to the “reality” that is believed to cause that data.

    * You appear to agree that you meant ‘the scientific method’ where you write ‘reason’ initially

    With what I’ve said above, I would have to disagree.

    * You have defined ‘supernatural’ as exactly equivalent to ‘non-naturalistic’.

    I would say that ‘non-naturalistic’ is a necessary quality. I do not know if I would say it is sufficient, but neither do I know why it should not be, so all in all I’ll accept the definition.

    * You have not provided a logical path to go from ‘a model of the world that is known to be true must be non-naturalistic’ to ‘there is a model of the world that is known to be true’.

    That is quite true, and I will not take that step. It is for that reason that I am only providing an argument, and not a proof. (Remember, I am only providing an argument). One can say that we do not know any truth. As I’ve said, we “know” a great many useful things. You can say that though the things we know are useful, that they may or may not be true.

    Are you assuming that theism is equivalent to supernaturalism?

    No.


    Does my theism or atheism affect the quality of my logic?

    No. Remember, I am not arguing that atheists are somehow stupid, or logically deficient, due to the fact that they are atheists. Some atheists are undoubtedly stupid, just as some Christians. I’m certain most people here would consider me as being a stupid Christian. What I am saying is that under a purely naturalistic worldview, we have no reason to trust that we know “truth” and that we merely can generate useful illusions.

    Finally, about:

    The basic idea though, is that I cannot be, honestly, rationally, thinking about theism. (Because if I did, I would be an atheist). To some extent, my beliefs must be (to some extent), influenced by non-rational processes.

    This was not meant as a side issue, rather it was meant to illustrate a point. If believe something X, and it turns out that I believe that, not through a rational process of deduction, but rather because this belief was caused by non-rational, even physical processes, it is not correct to continue in believing that this belief is “true”. For instance, if I was an atheist simply because I “fell into” atheism, that is I was an atheist because it was popular, or because I had nothing else better to do, or many other possibilities, then I should not believe in atheism. I should check to see if my atheistic beliefs could be the result of a rational argument. If not, I should chuck them.

    Moreover, if a believe is actually caused by phyiscal processes we go a little farther. (By we here, I am just making a general claim about people in general). If I think that everyone is out to get me, and if it is discovered that I have a chemical imbalance in my brain, no one tries to find out whether or not everyone really is out to get me. Since the belief is explained through a physical cause (namely a certain brain-state), we don’t trust this belief.

    The point is that to the extent that a belief which should be reached through rationality can be explained by non-rational or physical causes, we no longer trust this belief as being true. (I am excluding things that are immediate statements of sensory experience, such as “I have a headache”).

    I am not sure, but I think I covered everything.

  283. #283 David
    August 3, 2007

    Apparently I’ve been banned. As I usually operate on 3-4 computers the IP block must have been on a different one than this.

    So anyway MESchlum, I won’t be responding after this. If you want, post a rebuttal and have a good laugh with the rest of your atheist friends about how you got rid of the “troll”.

    It was actually turning out to be an interesting discussion though.

  284. #284 David
    August 3, 2007

    I have no desire to have PZ ban all the IP addresses that I work from.

  285. #285 MESchlum
    August 4, 2007

    Thnkas for the invitaiton to reply. Again, I’d like to point out a minor case of logical fallacy here… probably poisoning the well.

    So anyway MESchlum, I won’t be responding after this. If you want, post a rebuttal and have a good laugh with the rest of your atheist friends about how you got rid of the “troll”.

    It was actually turning out to be an interesting discussion though.

    This statement is built so that if I reply, as I am doing, I commit the crime of ‘laughing at getting rid of the troll’ by default, no matter what I say.

    Furthermore, I would like to state once more that my theism, or lack thereof, has not, to my knowledge, been an issue I raised in my posts, not one that is relevant to the matters at hand.

    Finally, and dismissing the entire matter, I would like (tongue firmly in cheek) to express my awe at the fact that merely making three posts on this blog is enough to obtain an undefined but apparently large number of friends, all of whom share my mindset to the point that we’ll behave in the same way. Though looking at neat rocks is much more to my taste than mocking trolls, maybe we can do that instead?

    There. Side rant expunged, let’s get back to the matters at hand. As this will likely be my last post on the subject, my approach may differ to some extent – I’ll be trying for a retrospective, to clarify what, to me, was said, rather than try to go further.

    Definitions of the supernatural and other terms

    I would say that ‘non-naturalistic’ is a necessary quality. I do not know if I would say it is sufficient, but neither do I know why it should not be, so all in all I’ll accept the definition.

    This definition is essential if you want to avoid the fallacy of the excluded middle – you can only be sure of covering all possible cases if you have (A and not-A).

    Thus, I’m happy to see that you accept the definition.

    On the other hand, the idea of the supernatural is the idea that nature does not work in a certain way, yet it has been caused to work in that way by an outside force. Something that must exist “outside of the system”.

    This idea meshes very poorly with the definition of the supernatural we are using. There are other ways to be non-naturalistic (for instance by having a model of the world that does not update if it is incorrect). Thus, if you use this form of supernaturalism, you are in dnager of falling back into the fallacy of the excluded middle.

    An issue I have with this definition of supernaturalism is that it is essentially random.

    Suppose gravity is negated for two hours in a 1 meter radius from my left toe when I smack my head with a herring at 7:26 am (Greenwich time) on a Tuesday.

    Since this phenomenon is reproducible (given Tuesdays, watches, and herrings), the definition you have given of the supernatural does not apply, and my version of anti-gravity is naturalistic.

    Similarly, if praying for something makes it more likely to happen, this can be measured, and prayer is naturalistic.

    All you have left is along the lines of something completely random happening, once and never again. I’m fairly sure you don’t mean this, but it is the consequence of refusing every possible pattern.

    And we have quantum physics, chaos theory, and thermodynamics to extract patterns from randomness…

    Again, I will assume that the issue comes from a confusion of terms, and that you mean ‘theism’ here, with some patterns allowed, rather than the supernatural as a whole.

    * You appear to agree that you meant ‘the scientific method’ where you write ‘reason’ initially

    With what I’ve said above, I would have to disagree.

    I dislike the use of the term reasoning, since it is used elsewhere, and I prefer to avoid infinite recursion in logic. However, I am fully amenable to replacing ‘the scientific method’ with ‘the deductive process’, which appears to cover both our issues.

    One can say that we do not know any truth. As I’ve said, we “know” a great many useful things. You can say that though the things we know are useful, that they may or may not be true.

    Number theory to the rescue! In mathematics, given clean definitions, we can know that things are true or not (though this is not always possible, there are certainly plently of true statements on hand).

    Once more, definitions may be your friend.

    On proofs

    Naturalism cannot be logically held. Therefore, I believe in the supernatural.

    1. I am not giving a proof.

    And that’s where we have an issue. If you are using logic as a tool in your process, then a proof is essential. If you are not, then we have been communicating at cross purposes for quite a few words now.

    2. I am not attempting to give evidence for theism, merely the existence of the supernatural.

    If your focus is on evidence, rather than logic, we have been discussing different topics, which may explain the lack of progress. My purpose in this was to try to understand your logic – not to set out to analyze any possible evidence.

    That said, definitions (yes, I repeat myself) remain important – if you use the ‘non-naturalistic’ definition of the supernatural, you have a much higher chance of finding something, since it covers so many possibilities. If you use a narrower definition, akin to what I am calling theism (NOT necessarily what you mean by theism, but you only gave two levels of non-naturalism, the supernatural and theism, so I’m making do), then the chances are lower, since you have smaller study space.

    * You have not provided a logical path to go from ‘a model of the world that is known to be true must be non-naturalistic’ to ‘there is a model of the world that is known to be true’.

    That is quite true, and I will not take that step.

    This pretty much ends the discussion for me, then. As I said, what I wanted to know was how you logically showed that naturalism did not work. And you won’t.

    It is for that reason that I am only providing an argument, and not a proof. (Remember, I am only providing an argument).

    I can provide an argument whereby cows can fly, so long as I don’t need to give any proof. I can spend lots of time making sure I’m clear (‘cows’ are the milk producing mammals you’d expect, not toys, ‘can’ mans that they have the ability to do this without outside agency, such as an airplane, and so on), but without a proof people have a right, or even an obligation, to remain skeptical.

    On the final point

    This last point is fairly long, so I’ll be paraphrasing it instead, to the best of my understanding.

    It goes as follows:

    * A position shuould only be held if it is rational.

    On a purely human level, I must disagree – I have a completely irrational aversion to varied foodstuffs, know it is irrational, and I stick to it anyway. We are human, irrationality is part of the cards we get (and it can be useful at times – see game theory).

    That said, if you are looking at logic, then it would be best if your positions followed from your axioms. And making your axioms clear would help a lot.

    * Beliefs can have sources other than rationality, including physical alterations in the brain.

    This is true. In fact, in some interpretations, it is self-evidently true, since the brain is a big physical process. Thus (chorus) watch your definitions, as you could be interpreted as stating that the totality of human thought (or any thought, insofar as it occurs in the material world) is irrational.

    * Non-rational beliefs are not to be trusted.

    If you operate by the brain being a physical process, you have just dismissed the totality of human thought.

    If you are operating from the logical perspective, then this is correct: a conclusion that does not derive from your axioms indicates that you have either made a mistake, or have hidden axioms.

    However, the realm of pure logic and the realm of physical mental processes do not overlap significantly for your purposes (it is possible that some physical alteration in the brain structure would give its recipients remarkable skills in pure logic, but that is germane to the topic at hand).

    To summarize: if you want to operate from logic, in a realm where irrational beliefs are discarded, then you need to use logic, and logic only.

    If you want to stick to the fascinating matter of being human and fallible, then pure logic will not get you very far.

    In either case, I am not sure how this advances the discussion of the logic for supernaturalism.

    Final Recap

    I came into this hoping for a logical analysis of why naturalism should fail. I expected to have to spend some time expressing and clarifying the concepts used, as the topic is rather thorny, with many possible interpretations.

    David came into this looking for evidence of the supernatural, and with a logical argument for its existence.

    On the logic front, David appears to be unwilling to provide his proof, prefering to operate by argument. The underlying claim in his argument can be paraphrased as:

    “There exists a supernatural model of the world which describes the world perfectly, and this model is known to be perfect.”

    Insofar as this claim has not been proven, it can be used as an axiom – but if so, I would strongly recommend stating up front that it is an axiom. If another logician does not accept the claim as an axiom, the proofs derived by both parties will be very different.

    So, to me, there was no progress in understanding David’s logic. I would like to believe, however, that I provided a useful service in helping him clarify his axioms and terminology, both of which were rather obscure at times.

    For final comments, I would like to say that I find it unlikely that I would be willing to continue this effort with David, or start another discussion on logic with him.

    This is not because of the arguments he makes (and I have, to the best of my knowledge, not indicated whether I agree or disagree with him on the importance of theism), but because I found myself doing most of the work. Writing up my interpretations of his statements, converting them to logical processes, makinng sure I could follow each step and providing intermediary stages when needed… required a lot of work.

    Furthermore, a number of his definitions were unclear, which is inevitable, but were not significantly clarified for the logical process. It is possible that his experience with logic was limited (mine certainly is), so I’ll just say one word: definitions. Where my terms were unclear or liable to confusion, I tried to make this apparent, to revise them at need, and to make sure they were well understood. I do not feel that David was entirely successful in doing the same.

    Finally, on a purely personal level, I found it mildly irritating to be repeatedly grouped with ‘my friends the atheists’, rather than having my points discussed. When the discussion happened (see the last section above), interesting things could happen. Sadly, it was necessary to get past the initial layer of unpleasantness to get there.

    I am quite willing to be convinced otherwise, and, were the opportunity to present itself, to jump into the logic ring again, but I would want to be sure that the person on the other side of the screen was going to put in a fair share of the effort.

  286. #286 tony
    August 4, 2007

    MESchlum:

    Welcome to the world according to David.

    I had hopes that ypur approach being entirely devoid of ‘personality’ and focused only on the logic of david’s argument would bear fruit. At times it seems it might.

    However – even you have been beaten down by his unwillingness to define ‘where he is coming from’ and ‘how he got there’ – 300 posts and growing.

    We all should simply stop feeding this troll.

    His signature approach is burned into my brain – so I (for one) will have little difficulty in identifying him in future, even if psuedonym’d

    Rgds
    Tony

  287. #287 Steve_C
    August 4, 2007

    I think I was trying to point out that David was using very circular tactics and always laying onous on the commenters to prove him wrong, but then never providing answers, past vague stances on the commenters and where they had gotten things wrong.

    I’m not surprised to find out he’s in graduate law school.

  288. #288 True Bob
    August 4, 2007

    MESchlum, it has been a pleasure reading your posts. I never knew a herring could be used for antigravity effects, as my experiences with herring have been limited to chopping down large trees.

  289. #289 tony
    August 4, 2007

    MESchlum: Does the effect hold for kippers, too? That would explain the difficulty I have keeping them down at breakfast after a heavy drinking session 😉

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