Pharyngula

Another blithering apologist

I read these lame exercises in making excuses by theologians, and I don’t understand how anyone can be foolish enough to fall for them. The latest example is by Edward Tingley, who babbles on painfully about how believers are the true skeptics, the true scientists, while claiming that the believers have a deeper, stronger knowledge than mere atheists. Yet nowhere in his ramble does Tingley ever give any evidence or rational reason to believe in his god or any god — in fact, he triumphantly declares that there is no evidence — god exists, but (I can scarcely believe he makes this argument seriously) he’s hiding…hiding in such a way that only someone “muscled up with virtues” can see him. It’s the Emperor’s New Clothes argument all over again.

Even worse, how can we sense this evidence? We need to use a special instrument.

That instrument is the heart. “It is the heart which perceives God, and not the reason”. “The heart has its reasons, which reason does not know”. Pascal’s reasons of the heart are meant to take over from an intellect that operates on hard evidence but has run out of it. “The heart has its order, the mind has its own, which uses principles and demonstrations. The heart has a different one”.

It’s all fluff and nonsense. Tingley doesn’t have a skeptical or scientific neuron in his head, and it shows that he’s trying to think with a muscle.

Jeffrey Shallit takes this pretentious airhead down a few more notches. Somebody somewhere is going to have to someday point me to some intelligent arguments for gods, because I’ve sure never found them. And I know, someone is going to complain that I always pick on the weak arguments…while not bothering to tell me what the strong ones are.

Comments

  1. #1 dsmccoy
    June 3, 2008

    “Use your blood pump to perceive god”?

    Define “heart”.

  2. #2 Matt
    June 3, 2008

    It’s a little-known fact that the sinoatrial node not only initiates the heartbeat, but also acts as a receiver for communication with god. If you would just quit blocking god’s transmissions you would see.

  3. #3 dsmccoy
    June 3, 2008

    Actually, I know exactly what he means by heart:

    “It makes me feel bad to think god might not exist,
    it makes me feel good to think god exists,
    I like feeling good,
    therefore god exists.”

  4. #4 Deepsix
    June 3, 2008

    PZ~ “…someone is going to complain that I always pick on the weak arguments…while not bothering to tell me what the strong ones are.”

    There are no strong arguements. Ever. But the believers ALWAYS believe they have a strong arguement. And you’ve never heard it before. And if they can just tell you about their arguement, that surely you’ve never heard 1000x before, then you’ll convert on the spot.
    For instance, where do feelings come from? Where does our sense of right and wrong come from? Why are waterfalls pretty? Why are cute puppies so cute? SEE! HA! Checkmate, Atheists!

  5. #5 Pablo
    June 3, 2008

    It’s pretty obvious that, if you need some special “instrument” to detect God, then I don’t have that instrument. If God exists, then when he gets around to giving me that instrument, I will believe.

    I have said many times in the past that, if God exists, then he created me as a rational thinking person, one who does not believe in things without evidence, and for me to believe in God would mean that I would have to ignore my God-given ability of rational thought. Not using the abilities that God has given me would be an affront to him, and would be a sin. Therefore, it is very clear that, if God exists, it would be a sin for me to believe in him.

  6. #6 SC
    June 3, 2008

    Homoerotic theology at its best.

  7. #7 Owlmirror
    June 3, 2008

    He’s totally ripping off Stephen Colbert.

    “I don’t trust books. They’re all fact, no heart,”

  8. #8 Jason Failes
    June 3, 2008

    “It is the heart which perceives God, and not the reason.”

    Geez, God, send an e-mail. You’re more techno-phobic than my grandmother.

  9. #9 Dennis N
    June 3, 2008

    What if you get a heart transplant from a Muslim? Conversion time?

  10. #10 Matt
    June 3, 2008

    @#5

    Yet you will still be punished for not believing in him. You’re screwed either way!

  11. #11 Brain Hertz
    June 3, 2008

    A complete misunderstanding of Pascal, however, is crucial to the way that Dawkins and every one of his fellows (past and future) always think.

    That’s pretty impressive, I must say. I’ve heard people who claim to know what particular atheists are thinking before, but this is the first time I’ve seen one claim to know what every one of them is thinking, including the ones who don’t exist yet.

  12. #12 Zeno
    June 3, 2008

    And Pascal’s heart made him feel so secure in his belief in God that he then went and made up the argument we now refer to as “Pascal’s wager”: act as if you believe in God just in case he’s there. Really persuasive!

  13. #13 Nick Gotts
    June 3, 2008

    What a name-dropping, arrogant, posturing humbug! The whole article ignores the clear evidence, form the existence of suffering, that the Christian God does not exist.

  14. #14 namae ga nai nezumi
    June 3, 2008

    All he does is dance around how you can’t prove a negative, mixed in with lots of ad-homs towards specific and generalized atheists. I don’t understand wanting to read all of that, much less wanting to write all of that.

  15. #15 Dennis N
    June 3, 2008

    I always find these apologetics devilishly helpful in proving whatever I feel like believing too. Usually it’s Allah. I like to congratulate them for converting me to Islam. Sometimes, it’s leprechauns or the flying dog from The Neverending Story, though.

  16. #16 wazza
    June 3, 2008

    Actually, PZ, you obviously have never read the bible. If you did, you’d understand all the strong arguments for G-d’s existence…

    Oh, man, couldn’t say that with a straight face.

    Really, I got that earlier over at Unreasonable Faith. Several times. It was really directed at the FORMER THEOLOGY STUDENT whose blog I was commenting on, but A+ for inclusivity to that commenter.

  17. #17 Yoo
    June 3, 2008

    Having been exposed to multiple conflicting religions where the adherents all “feel the truth in their heart”, I’m not impressed by Tingley’s argument.

  18. #18 Ted D
    June 3, 2008

    Apart from trying to find arguments for the existence of gods, why is it a logical next step that if gods exist one should worship them? You might say I have a problem with authority, but why should I take more kindly to divine tyrants than earthly ones? If gods existed I suspect I might be even more anti-religion than I am in their absence.

  19. #19 Serena
    June 3, 2008

    “Skepticism and theism go well together. By a “skeptic” I mean a person who believes that in some particular arena of desired knowledge we just cannot have knowledge of the foursquare variety that we get elsewhere, and who sees no reason to bolster that lack with willful belief.”

    That seems to be stretching the definition of skeptic even in the philisophical sense. Again saying that we simply cannot understand. Why can’t we understand? Because it just doesn’t make sense. That works for quantum mechanics, maybe.

    side note: I wonder how it feels to “sense” god with ones heart?

    A bit “tingley” perhaps? He he

  20. #20 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    June 3, 2008

    He ceases to care about what is logically possible because he has flatly refused to accept that it is possible. And how has he done this? He has denied it in his heart. He has answered the question of God first–not by recourse to evidence but by consulting his heart, which has turned in on itself, which seeks no God. “He hath said in his heart, I shall not be moved” (Psalm 10). Because he simply “does not buy it,” he will not engage the logic by which it can be bought, and in that disordered posture he cannot unclench his heart and face the disturbing and painful logic that leaves the possibility of God open.

    ugh

  21. #21 Jeph
    June 3, 2008

    I’ve finally gotten around to reading Zimmer’s “Parasite Rex,” and it is becoming clear to me that the tapeworm is God’s favored child.

  22. #22 Pablo
    June 3, 2008

    Good point, Yoo. I bet the terrorists who piloted the planes into the WTC and Pentagon “felt the truth in their heart,” too.

  23. #23 sailor
    June 3, 2008

    Here is an argument in favor of believing in a god. Think of it this way – the human is an extremely complex machine that has some similarities to a computer, but with feelings as well. Something similar to programming can happen – learning language is a good example. Now say we add program (meme) that while not based on objective truth can be very useful in the health and well being of the person who accepts it. There could be a good argument for accepting such a meme even if it has no objective basis in reality. A good example of this is a placebo. Does religion qualify? Well the obvious benefits are not too clearly shown, but it is the best argument that I can come up with, and if it beneficial to the religious, the secondary reinforcement would explain its extreme resistance to extinction in the face of evidence.

  24. #24 NRT
    June 3, 2008

    Dennis N
    “What if you get a heart transplant from a Muslim? Conversion time?”

    I’m sure I read a few years back that pig heart transplants may be the way of the future? What/who do pigs believe in?

  25. #25 Mothra
    June 3, 2008

    Did PZ mean ‘blathering’ rather than ‘blithering’? To an outsider it makes no difference whether it’s The Church of the Blithering Idiot or The Church of the Blathering Idiot. Edward Tingley (Catholic priest?)is still one up on ‘shrub’- at least he is not thinking from the gut.

    What special instrument should I need to find god? I’ve got irony meters, neutronizers (hard-to-find surplus after ghost busters II), I’ve taken astronomy field trips and I know someone who knows someone who knows someone at CERN. Not to mention, I own a dissecting microscope. I think god is in seclusion trying to perfect his phlogistonic interferometer.

  26. #26 Dennis N
    June 3, 2008

    By a “skeptic” I mean a person who believes that in some particular arena of desired knowledge we just cannot have knowledge of the foursquare variety that we get elsewhere, and who sees no reason to bolster that lack with willful belief

    By that definition, a skeptic wouldn’t believe in god… some particular arena of desired knowledge (god)… who sees no reason to bolster that lack with willful belief (which is exactly what a theist is doing)… I’m so confused about his point.

    He has answered the question of God first–not by recourse to evidence but by consulting his heart, which has turned in on itself, which seeks no God.

    He presumes too much. Why not ask any atheist around? We’re generally the exact opposite. We look at the evidence, and then decide. We never shut up about that; all we ever talk about is evidence! This man is actually off his rocker.

  27. #27 Benjamin Franklin
    June 3, 2008

    I’ve always wondered why it’s called apologetics.

    Is it because those who do so feel the need to apologize for something so blatantly ridiculous that it has to be connived and twisted so it can be comprehended?

    Kind of like that trinity/godhead, but we’re still monotheists stuff?

    I don’t know, I’m just dancing on a pin, but I’m no angel!

  28. #28 windy
    June 3, 2008

    Wow, he really goes on and on and on about Pascal. Unfortunately for him, “lifelong seeker of truth” Pascal more or less gave up science and mathematics after his religious conversion:

    “When he was not yet twenty-four years old, Divine Providence induced him to read pious books, and God enlightened him so much by this reading of holy works that he saw clearly that the Christian religion requires us to live only for God and to have no other goal but Him. And this truth seemed to him so enlightening, so necessary and so useful, that it put an end to all his investigations.”

    Whoopsie!

  29. #29 Ted D
    June 3, 2008

    What/who do pigs believe in?

    Peter Porker, the Spectacular Spider-Ham?

  30. #30 Snitzels
    June 3, 2008

    Hahahaha! God is there because I feel it with my heart… so…um, what happens if you have a heart transplant? What if the heart transplant is from a Christian? Is that instant conversion? Or will atheist blood reject it?

  31. #31 unicow
    June 3, 2008

    @11

    I think even more impressive than reading the minds of future atheists is the way past atheists (including those who lived prior to Pascal’s birth) somehow managed to “misunderstand” Pascal.

    These phenomena of course are accomplished by the appendix. Which you’d recognize as being the time-traveling-thought-reading organ if you weren’t blinded by godless science.

  32. #32 Moggie
    June 3, 2008

    @ #25:

    What special instrument should I need to find god?

    Fender Stratocaster. Though it’s not so much “find” as “think you are”.

  33. #33 danley
    June 3, 2008

    More tepid twaddle from the hyper emotional gushers.

  34. #34 Brain Hertz
    June 3, 2008

    @32:

    Infidel! True gods have Telecasters.

  35. #35 Drew
    June 3, 2008

    So let me see here, what I believe this guy is saying is:

    1 I have no proof that god exists
    2 I have no reasonable reason to believe that god exists
    3 I feel that god exists
    4 I want god to exist
    5 You can not prove to me that god doesn’t exist
    6 Therefore god exists

    Did I sum it up correctly?

  36. #36 Fastlane
    June 3, 2008

    I can’t detect god because I have an aluminum foil vest.

    …it matches my hat… =)

    Cheers.

  37. #37 windy
    June 3, 2008

    #32: Will Staropramen do if I can’t find one of those?

  38. #38 SC
    June 3, 2008

    What special instrument should I need to find god?

    That one’s easy:

    http://www.amazon.com/Jesus-like-Scanning-Electron-Microscope/dp/0595492983

  39. #39 Dennis N
    June 3, 2008

    #35, you should switch 3 and 4. 4 leads directly to 3.

  40. #40 Matt
    June 3, 2008

    @#36

    Take off that vest and receive GAWD into your heart!

  41. #41 NinjaDebugger
    June 3, 2008

    #34

    I don’t remember if it was a Telecaster or a Stratocaster, but I do remember it had a heart of chrome and a voice like a horny angel.

  42. #42 ajani5
    June 3, 2008

    Could not finish. That was some very bad writing.

    It was like he plunked his cat down on the keyboard ten times and thought of words that began with the letters that appeared.

    It was like he bought one of those magnetic poetry kits, and dumped it on the table, and said the resulting arrangement was good.

    It was like he was a lone monkey when clearly a thousand were needed.

    No, could not finish, and I admire those of you who could divine his attempts at appearing divine.

  43. #43 Dennis N
    June 3, 2008

    #38, the tags on that books are hilarious:

    pseudoscience (43)
    absolute lunacy (36)
    cult (31)
    comic relief (30)
    fiction (30)
    humor (17)
    lol (16)
    self published (16)
    creation science (14)
    classic crackpot (13)

  44. #44 Carlie
    June 3, 2008

    Even worse than a transplant, what happens to the poor people who get artificial hearts?

  45. #45 H.H.
    June 3, 2008

    I love it whenever an apologist for religion comes right out and admits that his god is inaccessible to reason and can only be discovered by trying really, really hard to believe–because that’s pretty much what I try to tell them, too. I do find it amazing how few of them seem to realize that they’ve just admitted their faith boils down to self-deluded wishful thinking, however.

  46. #46 Andreas Johansson
    June 3, 2008

    Even worse than a transplant, what happens to the poor people who get artificial hearts?

    You start believing in synthetic gods. Duh!

  47. #47 Jason Failes
    June 3, 2008

    #41
    “I don’t remember if it was a Telecaster or a Stratocaster, but I do remember it had a heart of chrome and a voice like a horny angel.”

    “I don’t remember if it was Telecaster or Stratocaster
    But I do remember that it wasn’t at all easy

    It required the perfect combination of the right powerchords
    And the precise angle from which to strike!”

    Meat Loaf is even better left-over after 15 years.

  48. #48 Robert Estrada
    June 3, 2008

    I tried to read his spew but I am afraid of contacting CSE (Christian Spongiform Encephalopathy)

  49. #49 Quiet Desperation
    June 3, 2008

    I can’t detect god because I have an aluminum foil vest. …it matches my hat… =)

    Amateur! I have an aluminum foil codpiece. *Some* of us have our priorities straight!

  50. #50 Glen Davidson
    June 3, 2008

    And I know, someone is going to complain that I always pick on the weak arguments…while not bothering to tell me what the strong ones are.

    There are no strong ones, but there are difficult ones.

    It’s kind of like ID, they want to drag you into a lot of arguments over epistemology and the fact that science lacks “proof”, and a whole lot of other issues that are irrelevant to the usual understanding of practice and practical knowledge of science. That way they hope that one will forget that if evolution were accused in court of causing life’s variety, it would be found guilty beyond not only all reasonable, but also any lingering, doubts.

    Likewise with the god arguments. The point is simply to confuse people by discussing everything except the single most important fact, that we have no evidence for god. You don’t need strong, or even adequate, arguments, so long as you have difficult arguments that leave people thinking that one has to be “skeptical” about atheism–because the difficult arguments raised questions in their minds.

    Then they can say that they’re the “skeptical ones” (actually, in the ancient sense they’re close enough, since both seem to deny “intersubjective soundness”). It wouldn’t work if they left matters clear, so they don’t.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  51. #51 Barry Pearson
    June 3, 2008

    PZ, you say: “Somebody somewhere is going to have to someday point me to some intelligent arguments for gods, because I’ve sure never found them. And I know, someone is going to complain that I always pick on the weak arguments…while not bothering to tell me what the strong ones are.”

    A few days ago I wondered if I would ever see arguments for god that “experienced atheists” would see as challenging. I came to the conclusion that it may take an atheist to invent a god and a religion that other atheists would find credible. I wondered if I could do it ….!

    Would I? To my horror, I concluded that I would invent a new god and a new religion if it would earn me (say) a million dollars a year. That is how much I can be bought for! (I would make the excuse that it would divert from more destructive religions … but that is a pathetic excuse, isn’t it?)

  52. #52 wazza
    June 3, 2008

    Wow, we’ve got to nearly 50 comments, and still no Tin Woodcutter from Oz jokes…

  53. #53 Ouchimoo
    June 3, 2008

    My god detecting instrument is broken. :( All it can do is keep me in a living state. Stupid broken heart thingy.
    Anyways, I could only read about 25% of the article before braincells started dying off in mass quantities. Kudos to you people who CAN read it and still keep a high IQ level.

  54. #54 T. Bruce McNeely
    June 3, 2008

    The heart is mostly muscle – hence the term: “Muscular Christianity”.

    #32 and #34: I have a Squier Strat (fraud!) and a Yamaha Pacifica 12-string (loves teh jingle-jangle). Does that make me a polytheist?

  55. #55 Starbuck
    June 3, 2008

    Hmmm…

    You call a Christian foolish and deluded. Am I correct?

    And the Christian claims that God calls a person who say there is no God as a fool. And fools are usually deluded so that can be added as well.

    There is no common ground here. This is an arguement that you will never solve. You can’t convince a Christian to turn his back on God. (Atleast not very many anyways.)
    However, there have been many athiests who converted to Christianity.

    You point your fingers at Christians and mock them. From the comments I see on this blog, you hate them as well.

    One would think that you would critisize muslims, buddhist, and any other religion as well. You don’t. Perhaps it is because you don’t see very much of them in your little part of the world. But I do see a lack of this where there are much more muslims. But then if you insult Islam, they feel obligated to saw your head off. Be thankful that Christians don’t have that virtue.

    You can hate Christians all you want, that is your right. You can deny God all you want, that is also your right.
    But remember this, the majority of people in this country (atleast it is a close one) are Christians. Police, Doctors, Nurses, Firmen, Soldiers, Scientists (yes, some of them are!), Factory workers, Cashier workers, Salesmen, Managers, and all the other occupations and including people you meet in stores and in other public places, are Christians. They are all over the place. You meet some of them and actually like some of these people. You treat them with respect and they treat you with respect as well. Some you even might find attractive.

    They are normal people. I am not talking about the crazies who drive everyone nuts. (i.e. tv preachers begging for money to do God’s work)

    Would you disrespect people you like and are attracted to in order to furthur your ideology?

    Because on the athiest side of the arguement, you sometimes come off as the crazy Christians you rail against and mock.

  56. #56 colluvial
    June 3, 2008

    It is the heart which perceives God, and not the reason.

    I’d like to see him perceive with his heart something verifiable . . . like next week’s winning lottery number.

  57. #57 SC
    June 3, 2008

    Dennis N,

    The tags are great. Another wonderful element in the Mark Armitage story is found on the Creation Research Society’s Board of Directors page, where his profession is listed as…

    “Surgical Microscope Sales Rep. for Micro Specialist.”

  58. #58 Reginald Selkirk
    June 3, 2008

    #36: I can’t detect god because I have an aluminum foil vest.
    …it matches my hat… =)

    Time for an upgrade: New material absorbs all microwaves

  59. #59 Beth B.
    June 3, 2008

    The article could have been about half or a third as long; cut out some of the fluffy “atheists are smug meanies” paragraphs at the end of each section and the piece would have flowed a lot more nicely, I think.

  60. #60 jj
    June 3, 2008

    Barry (#51) wrote:

    A few days ago I wondered if I would ever see arguments for god that “experienced atheists” would see as challenging. I came to the conclusion that it may take an atheist to invent a god and a religion that other atheists would find credible. I wondered if I could do it

    It’s been done or at least attempted. See “I met god the other day” by the Ragged Trousered Philosopher.

    I’ve often thought a custom made religion that fit the evidence could eventually catch on and replace the insane, apocalyptic death-cults that currently dominate.

  61. #61 Andreas Johansson
    June 3, 2008

    Would I? To my horror, I concluded that I would invent a new god and a new religion if it would earn me (say) a million dollars a year. That is how much I can be bought for!

    Hubbard got rich, but he also died a crazy paranoiac. I think you should ask for all the money up front while you can still enjoy ‘em properly.

  62. #62 Jason J Brunet
    June 3, 2008

    The heart, Osborne!

  63. #63 Dennis N
    June 3, 2008

    Damnitt, Starbuck is gonna take up another 30 minutes of my time now.

  64. #64 Snitzels
    June 3, 2008

    You can’t convince a Christian to turn his back on God.

    Oh I don’t know, it was the behavior of christians and the sheer lack of evidence that unbrainwashed me, so I guess you can convince a christian to turn his/her back on god.

  65. #65 Nick Gotts
    June 3, 2008

    One would think that you would critisize muslims, buddhist, and any other religion as well. – Starbuck

    Liar.

  66. #66 woozy
    June 3, 2008

    For a Christian apologist, this is particularly weak and old and trite. You had a better apologist a few weaks ago; one who gave the ol’ religion as myth and metaphor argument.

    I don’t hate apologists as much as you do and *do* like the metaphors and myths that legends, folk tales, and religious stories give us. One question I’d like to pose to apologists though is what relevance is it to the metaphor and myth of religion that people think the story is somehow real?

    For example: Little Red Riding Hood is probably *the* quintesential story and the most universal metaphor about the presence of evil there is. For all Little Red Riding Hood can tell me about the nature of evil and corruption and the loss of innocence, I’d have to call myself a firm and devout “Little Red Riding Hood apologist”. And yet, if I were to expect anyone to believe that at any time in earth’s history there ever was a talking wolf who could dress himself in an old woman’s clothes I’d be totally *nuts*. Why is being a religious apologist any different?

  67. #67 Nick Gotts
    June 3, 2008

    Re #65: I omitted part of the quote from Starbuck. It should read:

    One would think that you would critisize muslims, buddhist, and any other religion as well. You don’t.

  68. #68 Betz
    June 3, 2008

    @#51 Barry Pearson

    I came to the conclusion that it may take an atheist to invent a god and a religion that other atheists would find credible. I wondered if I could do it ….!

    How about the First Church of Provisional Truth? Kinda catchy sounding. Our religious text would be the sum-total of all current scientific thought. I’d have a tough time working in a deity though. Ooo, maybe the Incredible Shrinking God! Not one you worship, maybe more like one you outgrow.

    How do I get this started?

  69. #69 Snitzels
    June 3, 2008

    But remember this, the majority of people in this country (atleast it is a close one) are Christians. Police, Doctors, Nurses, Firmen, Soldiers, Scientists (yes, some of them are!), Factory workers, Cashier workers, Salesmen, Managers, and all the other occupations and including people you meet in stores and in other public places, are Christians. They are all over the place.

    Can we add “Look, the people you are after are the people you depend on. We cook your meals, we haul your trash, we connect your calls, we drive your ambulances. We guard you while you sleep. Do not… fuck with us.” –Tyler Durden

  70. #70 MAJeff, OM
    June 3, 2008

    And I know, someone is going to complain that I always pick on the weak arguments…while not bothering to tell me what the strong ones are.

    Isn’t it obvious?

    Shorter starbuck:

    blah blah blah

  71. #71 Brownian, OM
    June 3, 2008

    Oof. I thought Tingley’s piece was the single dumbest thing I’d ever read, until Starbuck weighed in.

    Hmmm…

    You call a Christian foolish and deluded. Am I correct?

    The belief in the Christian (or any other) god without evidence is indeed foolish and deluded.

    And the Christian claims that God calls a person who say there is no God as a fool. And fools are usually deluded so that can be added as well.

    The bible claims that hares chew their cud. So what?

    There is no common ground here. This is an arguement that you will never solve.

    Sorry. There’s no common ground between those who claim the earth is flat and those who have evidence that it is spheroid. Not every problem can be solved by Kumbaya-ing your way to a fence and sitting on it.

    You can’t convince a Christian to turn his back on God. (Atleast not very many anyways.)

    FYI, you’re about to be flooded with comments by atheists who were once Christians.

    This one included.

    However, there have been many athiests who converted to Christianity.

    And lots of Christians have converted to Islam. And many Muslims converted to Buddhism. And so on….

    You point your fingers at Christians and mock them. From the comments I see on this blog, you hate them as well.

    No, we mostly hate their actions, and particularly the evil ones.

    One would think that you would critisize muslims, buddhist, and any other religion as well. You don’t. Perhaps it is because you don’t see very much of them in your little part of the world. But I do see a lack of this where there are much more muslims. But then if you insult Islam, they feel obligated to saw your head off. Be thankful that Christians don’t have that virtue.

    You must be willfully avoiding reading the posts about Islam. Either that, or lying.

    You can hate Christians all you want, that is your right.

    Well, the liars, anyway.

    You can deny God all you want, that is also your right.

    And why not? You deny Vishnu without a second thought.

    But remember this, the majority of people in this country (atleast it is a close one) are Christians. Police, Doctors, Nurses, Firmen, Soldiers, Scientists (yes, some of them are!), Factory workers, Cashier workers, Salesmen, Managers, and all the other occupations and including people you meet in stores and in other public places, are Christians. They are all over the place. You meet some of them and actually like some of these people. You treat them with respect and they treat you with respect as well. Some you even might find attractive.

    Thanks for telling us what we already know. Perhaps you might write a paragraph or two on the colour of the sky.

    They are normal people. I am not talking about the crazies who drive everyone nuts. (i.e. tv preachers begging for money to do God’s work)

    See the comments made by Walton on this thread for a much less stupid way of saying what you just did.

    Would you disrespect people you like and are attracted to in order to furthur your ideology?

    Because on the athiest side of the arguement, you sometimes come off as the crazy Christians you rail against and mock.

    Learn to spell ‘atheist’, ‘further’, and ‘argument’, and maybe we won’t be so up in arms about Christians fucking up education for all.

    Thanks for coming out, Starbuck. Now why don’t you go back to the bench and learn from watching the big kids play.

  72. #72 falterer
    June 3, 2008

    In the heart? The heart? The same heart Jeremiah 17:9 tells us is, above all things, “deceitful” and “desperately wicked”? Or is this an entirely different heart? Do Christians have multiple hearts? Maybe the Doctor Who analogy is more fitting than we thought.

  73. #73 Steve_C
    June 3, 2008

    Shorter Starbuck…

    Christians are NICE. You are MEAN! Watch out.

  74. #74 CJO
    June 3, 2008

    Starbuck, this talk about “hate” and “disrespect” for individual Christians is just a reflexive defense mechanism that lets you avoid dealing with the issues or considering what was actually written.

    The theologian’s argument is terrible: incoherent, loose with definitions, a plaint in place of any attempt at reasoning that could possibly sway the not already converted. This argument is what is being derided, and it deserves no respect. Nobody here hates the individual who wrote it. Unless I am wrong that hating an argument injures no one, no one has been harmed. Do religious ideas command respect, just because they’re religious?

  75. #75 amphiox
    June 3, 2008

    What about all the people with pacemakers? Will there be electrical interference with their connection to the almighty? Are they going to be damned to eternal hellfire as a result? Are they already in hell? (According to some theologies, “hell” is actually just the state of not having a connection with “god”)

  76. #76 jj
    June 3, 2008

    Hubbard got rich, but he also died a crazy paranoiac. I think you should ask for all the money up front while you can still enjoy ‘em properly.

    Sure, there’s always that motivation and Hubbard proved that the “there must be something more” meme can be grounded by the stupidiest shit imaginable (Thetans, space travel by customized Boeing 737′s, intergalatic evil space lords, etc) and there are people who will believe and follow it. What I propose is something like Machavellian inspired philanthropy. I don’t want to profit from it, I only want to see the current distructive bronze-age, goat herder based religions replaced and eliminated.

    There’s plenty of evidence some (maybe most) humans need “woo” and the desire to believe there is “something more” so might as well give it to them, but instead of a meme that is destructive and based on fear and injustice, we need to replace it with one that’s something along the lines of what the Ragged Trousered Philosopher wrote.

    I’m sure scientists with a creative writing flare could come up with something that is not contradicted by evidence and the “woo”-ist could be drawn to. We need to infect the population with a new viral meme.

  77. #77 Rick T
    June 3, 2008

    All of the people who say that they are “atheists through skepticism, because they see no evidence that God exists,” are patently unthinking people, since by virtue of turning skeptic, no one has ever done anything–employed any logic, gathered any evidence, found any way forward–to reach a conclusion about whether God exists. So these atheists have not reached a conclusion; they have made a commitment.

    Just another way to call atheists and skeptics a bunch of quitters. When the going gets tough the tough get going. Jeez, this guy sounds like a high school football coach.
    Hey, and you’re all lazy. And stupid.

    Oh, but we are very committed to being all of the above, so we have that going for us.

    Starbuck,
    You’ve made some false statements and I’m sure you will get those pointed out to you. But I will mention that there are more Christians who come to realize that there is no God than your claim of the reverse being true. You must be listening to the testimonies on TBN. Unbelievers are on the rise in this country which is an indication of the way this matter is trending. It just can’t come soon enough for some of us.
    Also, we don’t hate most Christians we despise the ideology and the damage it does to people and our society. Kind of like Christians who hate the sin but not the sinner. Get it?

  78. #78 Dennis N
    June 3, 2008

    You call a Christian foolish and deluded. Am I correct?

    Deluded, yes. Not all are foolish. Most just don’t think their religion over. They compartmentalize it from rational thought. They’re very good at analyzing other religions, so we know they’re not stupid, but not their own.

    And the Christian claims that God calls a person who say there is no God as a fool. And fools are usually deluded so that can be added as well.

    That means nothing to us, since we don’t use the bible as our guide to anything. Because the bible says atheists are fools does not make it true.

    There is no common ground here. This is an arguement that you will never solve. You can’t convince a Christian to turn his back on God. (Atleast not very many anyways.)
    However, there have been many athiests who converted to Christianity.

    You can convince a Christian to deconvert. Most atheists in America were raised Christian. That’s just statistics. If your point is: if they deconverted then they aren’t “True Christians”, well, if the atheist converts to Christianity, he wasn’t a “True Atheist”.

    You point your fingers at Christians and mock them. From the comments I see on this blog, you hate them as well.

    We don’t hate them. As you go on to say, most people we deal with are Christian. Most people are nice DESPITE their religion. They overcome it and disregard it. I’ve never been stoned for picking up sticks on a Sunday.

    One would think that you would critisize muslims, buddhist, and any other religion as well. You don’t. Perhaps it is because you don’t see very much of them in your little part of the world. But I do see a lack of this where there are much more muslims. But then if you insult Islam, they feel obligated to saw your head off. Be thankful that Christians don’t have that virtue.

    We don’t have that virtue either. Most people don’t. Christians don’t get a monopoly on morals or kindess. See this if you think we never discuss Islam. It just happens that, as you explain below, most of our time is spent amongst Christians. It’s only reasonable that we discuss them the most. We’re most familiar with them. They’re the ones evangelizing to us, coming to this blog (you), and trying to decide public policy based on their religion.

    You can hate Christians all you want, that is your right. You can deny God all you want, that is also your right.
    But remember this, the majority of people in this country (atleast it is a close one) are Christians. Police, Doctors, Nurses, Firmen, Soldiers, Scientists (yes, some of them are!), Factory workers, Cashier workers, Salesmen, Managers, and all the other occupations and including people you meet in stores and in other public places, are Christians. They are all over the place. You meet some of them and actually like some of these people. You treat them with respect and they treat you with respect as well. Some you even might find attractive.

    Yes most people I know are Christians. I like them. I don’t believe what they believe, but that’s not important. The people I know don’t let their religion run their lives. Like I said, they live their lives despite their Christianity. We do not “deny” god. You’re framing us. We see no reason to believe in a god. We require evidence, and we’ve been shown none. As for Yahweh, he is logically inconsistent. Also, the bible is rife with errors and contradictions.

    They are normal people. I am not talking about the crazies who drive everyone nuts. (i.e. tv preachers begging for money to do God’s work)

    But sadly, those people get the most airtime, and are not denounced by moderates.

    Would you disrespect people you like and are attracted to in order to furthur your ideology?

    We are not disrespecting normal people. We do 2 things: we attack IDEAS or fringe kooks. We don’t go around attacking normal folks. We do our best to reason with them.

    Because on the athiest side of the arguement, you sometimes come off as the crazy Christians you rail against and mock.

    That’s your opinion. There’s a variety of people in every movement. However, even at our most extreme, we are not denying gays’ rights, burning books, denying condoms to Africa, or cutting people’s heads off. We’re… talking. Are we really so bad?

  79. #79 Brenda von Ahsen
    June 3, 2008

    dsmccoy
    Define “heart”

    You all can’t be so willfully stupid that you take him literally can you? Oh, I see that you can be that stupid. This is why I repeatedly wonder if it is possible for there to be any discussion at all. It seems futile, especially given the juvenile behavior here.

    I thought the article by Tingley was dead on in it’s criticism of atheism. Where he goes off is he reverts to dated language like “The heart has it’s reasons” but the rest of it is very good. He also sums ups Pascal’s arguments very well also.

    But I truly find it hard to believe that no one here has any idea what is meant by the word “heart”. So, little boys, set aside your games and be honest. Do you truly not know what is the referent in the phrase “The heart has it’s reasons”? It should be obvious to anyone, I know what it means, do you?

  80. #80 Brownian, OM
    June 3, 2008

    Falterer, it is extremely rude to refer to the bible when criticising apologetics. The bible is only to be cherry-picked when constructing apologetics.

  81. #81 Citizen Z
    June 3, 2008

    One would think that you would critisize muslims, buddhist, and any other religion as well. You don’t. Perhaps it is because you don’t see very much of them in your little part of the world. But I do see a lack of this where there are much more muslims. But then if you insult Islam, they feel obligated to saw your head off. Be thankful that Christians don’t have that virtue.

    Would you disrespect people you like and are attracted to in order to furthur your ideology?

    “Please stop hating on Christians. Y’all should hate on those lousy Muslims instead.”

  82. #82 Louise Van Court
    June 3, 2008

    IANAT but I liked the essay PZ linked to by Tingley. In the “Refusing the Facts” section he says this:

    “We are told we should face the facts. Well here they are: The only world in which strictly empirical evidence is the road that we should take in our views about God is a world in which God either shows himself by such evidence or simply does not exist. Those are the options that the agnostic and the atheist like, and it is because they like them that they never pay any attention to the further fact that accompanies these: God might await us down another road. There are three options, not two.”

    In my mind he is telling us all to avoid rigid thinking and not be locked into a particular viewpoint. We shouldn’t limit our categories to either/or choices unnecessarily and be willing to examine other possibilities.
    I also liked the “Settled or Seeking” section of Tingley’s essay. He says.
    “We agree about the virtues of science. It is a virtue to be reasonable, but the person who flees the above logic is plainly not reasonable. On the question of the way in which the truth about God might be found he is openly illogical, and Pascal is aghast at him.
    There are only two kinds of people one can call reasonable: those who serve God with all their heart because they know him and those who seek him with all their heart because they do not know him. As for those who live without either knowing or seeking him . . . It takes all the charity of that religion they despise not to despise them to the point of abandoning them to their folly. (427)
    Those are better categories than the a-words I have employed because it is never clear whether a self-confessed “atheist” or “agnostic” is settled or seeking.”

    Again just my own opinion as an ordinary believer who is not a theologian, it seems that many on this site have put a great deal of thought into their stances and I respect that. I suspect that some are still seekers and are not settled in their own minds and hearts.

  83. #83 viggen
    June 3, 2008

    Talk about the strawman to outdo all others; Tingley sets up this huge argument by analogy about mountain-climbing and then hog-ties every facility of skepticism at tree-line such that the only way anybody can progress further up his mountain is by jumping ahead using a single imagined facility that is not even sufficiently defined such that it can be observed as a part of the world… by his own definition! By his argument, why would I not embrace Buddhism or Scientology (both living religions that are not Abrahamic) as the “one true way?” What makes his way any better than Atheism? If he is claiming to be a skeptic, he failed totally the instant he had to stretch reality to conform to a pre-confirmed hypothesis that there is even a mountain to climb or any defined progressive direction that knowledge should go.

  84. #84 Chili Pepper
    June 3, 2008

    From Comments #32 and #34:
    >Fender Stratocaster. Though it’s not so much “find” as “think you are”.

    >Infidel! True gods have Telecasters.

    As of June 2, 2008, God is dead: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bo_Diddley

  85. #85 Peter Barber
    June 3, 2008

    Tingley alleges that atheists’ desire for human comfort makes them uneasy at accepting non-material evidence (whatever that is) of God that is felt in the heart. Never mind that this is exactly the circular “accept God into your life and only then will you understand” argument that we hear over and over again. Never mind that such an argument is the antithesis of scepticism. Atheism is about as far from “human comfort” as could be conceived.

    When I reflect on the overwhelming likelihood that there is no deity in this universe; that if there is, it appears not to care about all the undeserved suffering experienced by the sentient life it allegedly created; that therefore my death will either be the definitive end of my existence, or merely the start of eternal torment for daring to exercise my allegedly deity-given mental faculties, I see very little “human comfort”. At times, “overwhelming bleakness” would be a better description. It is most certainly not the easy option that Tingley claims it to be.

  86. #86 Aquaria
    June 3, 2008

    For instance, where do feelings come from? Where does our sense of right and wrong come from? Why are waterfalls pretty? Why are cute puppies so cute?

    Heh. I always send christians here when they ask such questions.

    Now for poor deluded Starbuck:

    Guess what, apologist? Plenty of atheists are ex-christians–converted away from your Hebrew Fairy Tale. It’s really rather ridiculous to talk about conversions of atheists when conversions are going on all over the place, sect to sect, belief to non-belief or vice versa. Today’s Christian is tomorrow’s Buddhist is the next day’s Muslim and so forth. Really, you need to stay far, far away from this argument.

    Also, plenty of atheists are doctors, lawyers, factory workers, soldiers, cops, nurses, postal workers, bureaucrats, store clerks, bank managers–the whole spectrum. What exactly is your point by making an appeal to numbers/variety? Does that make your deity real? Does that prove its existence? Are you really trying to claim that if a whole bunch of people, form all walks of life, believed in pink unicorns with silver horns, that would make them real? If I really really really believed that Eliza Bennett and Mr. Darcy were real, and I got a whole bunch of people to agree with me, from all walks of life, would that make Pride and Prejudice a bible to follow?

    Please don’t assume that other religions don’t get attacked here. They do; however, he christianity is the largest and loudest religious sect for the majority of people visiting this web site, which means far more christians are going to draw attention to themselves for doing/saying something completely moronic. Fortunately for us, there is never a lack of such material. Maybe if you’d take off your deity blinders, you’d understand the validity of this. But I doubt it. You poor christians, what persecution it is that not everyone agrees with you, that not everybody will let you force your beliefs on us, like it or not!

    We have a name for this kind of behavior on teh Netz: WATB (Whiny-ass Titty Babies). Sums up christians in a nutshell.

    I have to agree with PZ: No decent arguments yet, even from the “best” theologians. A body could drive a mack truck through the holes in all of their arguments. But keep banging the rocks together, religious people. At least that will keep you entertained.

  87. #87 CJO
    June 3, 2008

    Do you truly not know what is the referent in the phrase “The heart has it’s reasons”?

    Can you truly define it in any way that even approaches rigorous? No? Then it’s just a vague appeal to what “everybody is supposed to know,” which is telling, you know, considering that ALL of these supposedly ‘sophisticated’ arguments for theism rest on some such airy nothing. It’s enough to reinforce the suspicion that your god is similarly nebulous, yet we’re supposed to believe it exists on your –or some theologian’s– say-so. After all, you whine, “it should be obvious to anyone.”

  88. #88 Dennis N
    June 3, 2008

    Thank you Brena for going on a long rant about how we should know what he means by “heart”, and then not explaining what he means by heart. The challenge still stands. Define heart.

    It should be obvious to anyone, I know what it means

    Stop blathering on and prove it.

  89. #89 Brownian, OM
    June 3, 2008

    Louise and Brenda:

    I’ve had far more mystical, meaningful, and externally-validated experiences as a practitioner of a Buddhist gong fu than I ever did as a Christian, despite half-assing it as the former and trying my ‘heart’ off as the latter.

    If you two are honestly committed to ‘feeling’ truth, I urge you to give up on god and begin practicing qigong immediately.

    You’ll begin to understand what I mean as soon as you start to practice, and you’ll realise that Pascal was a bigger theological moron than any close-minded, heart-denying atheist.

  90. #90 Peter Barber
    June 3, 2008

    You can hate Christians all you want, that is your right.

    Straw man: We don’t hate Christians. They just hold some beliefs which seem to fly in the face of all the evidence, and if it’s OK to for a Christian to accost us on the street and tell me to get right with God (and personally I don’t really mind, except that sometimes the ensuing discussion makes me late!), then it’s OK for us to question the validity of Christian beliefs.

    You can deny God all you want, that is also your right.

    Better. Though more accurately (and only speaking for myself), I would say that probability that your, or indeed, any deity exists is very small, and decreasing by the year.

    But remember this, the majority of people in this country (atleast it is a close one) are Christians.

    Oh dear… argumentum ad populum.

  91. #91 SteveM
    June 3, 2008

    I came to the conclusion that it may take an atheist to invent a god and a religion that other atheists would find credible. I wondered if I could do it.

    Insofar as I may be heard by anything, which may or may not care what I say, I ask, if it matters, that you be forgiven for anything you may have done or failed to do which requires forgiveness. Conversely, if not forgiveness but something else may be required to insure any possible benefit for which you may be eligible after the destruction of your body, I ask that this, whatever it may be, be granted or withheld, as the case may be, in such a manner as to insure your receiving said benefit. I ask this in my capacity as your elected intermediary between yourself and that which may not be yourself, but which may have an interest in the matter of your receiving as much as it is possible for you to receive of this thing, and which may in some way be influenced by this ceremony. Amen.
    The Agnostic’s Prayer
    (Roger Zelazny, Creatures of Light and Darkness, © 1969)

  92. #92 Jason Failes
    June 3, 2008

    “One would think that you would critisize muslims, buddhist, and any other religion as well. You don’t.”

    Yeah, you would have to rifle through the archives all the way back to, like, yesterday, to see a PZ critique of extremist islam…

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/06/a_barbaric_tragedy.php

    As for Buddhism, any “religion” that has no creator Gods and whose main tenet is basically “everything you know is wrong” isn’t exactly the kind of belief system that will mass produce a lot of Falwells, or even Comforts for that matter.

  93. #93 woozy
    June 3, 2008

    Brenda,

    Of course we know he is talking metaphorically about the heart. We just find that such a patently *stupid* and meaningless statement we can’t help but make utter mockery of it. “Listening to your heart” is the same as “feeling in your gut” yet had he said the later it wouldn’t have had the resonnance and pathos and would have implied unswaying stubbornness in the face of reason (a bad thing) whereas the former implies passion and bravery and moral fortitude against the practical odds (a good thing).

    To actually make his point without trappings of implication he shouldn’t have used a metaphor at all and said what he meant literally. The method for perceiving god isn’t the intellect but … but what? Intuition? Hope? Morality?

    Basically “the heart” is an utterly *meaningless* phrase and as such *deserves* the mocking we give it.

    And Starbuck, scroll down the page just a bit to see PZ criticize Muslim culture and it’s oppressiveness in the story of the barbaric murder of Leila Hussein.

  94. #94 Brownian, OM
    June 3, 2008

    Do you truly not know what is the referent in the phrase “The heart has it’s reasons”? It should be obvious to anyone, I know what it means, do you?

    Yeah, a divorce rate approaching 50%.

  95. #95 Osmium
    June 3, 2008

    The strongest arguments that I’ve encountered for the existence of god are from Alvin Plantinga. Most of them are extremely complicated, utilize modal logic, yet still smack of sophistry. Take, for example, his ontological argument:

    1. It is proposed that a being has maximal excellence in a given possible world W if and only if it is omnipotent, omniscient and wholly good in W; and
    2. It is proposed that a being has maximal greatness if it has maximal excellence in every possible world.
    3. Maximal greatness is possibly exemplified. That is, it is possible that there be a being that has maximal greatness. (Premise)
    4. Therefore, possibly it is necessarily true that an omniscient, omnipotent and perfectly good being exists.
    5. Therefore, it is necessarily true that an omniscient, omnipotent and perfectly good being exists. (By S5)
    6. Therefore, an omniscient, omnipotent and perfectly good being exists.

    There is a good discussion of it on

  96. #96 SteveN
    June 3, 2008

    …and it shows that he’s trying to think with a muscle.

    PZ, you owe me a keyboard and damages to compensate for beer sprayed through the nose.

  97. #97 Aquaria
    June 3, 2008

    I suspect that some are still seekers and are not settled in their own minds and hearts.

    Oh, look, the “you’re all actually Christian, down deep” argument.

    Would you people please–please–come up with some new material, not regurgitating the same lame arguments (most likely borrowed from some apologist) that we have heard 10^10^10 X before? I wish Christians would give us the courtesy of attributing us with enough intelligence to have seriously considered this matter and settled it in our own minds and hearts, once and for all, based on evidence, not wishful thinking.

    It seems that Christians cannot grasp at all that atheists have looked at all the evidence, read the holy books of a variety of faiths, studied them in probably far more depth than the average Christian ever will, and still found belief in an invisible cloud being, including their most cherished 3-in-1 fantasy hero, lacking, hence rejected them all.

    So they try to say we haven’t “really” read the bible (I guess I was just moving my eyes back and forth for show as I turned all 1500+ pages). They don’t even realize how insulting is it to presume we’re incapable of reading comprehension. They say we don’t “understand” the arguments, even though a 10 year old can pick them apart with ease–again an argument implying that atheists are just a bunch of morons.

    These people would give the Algonquin Round Table a fight for having the most airs of pseudo-intellectualism, pretentiousness, smugness, pettiness and viciousness.

  98. #98 Brain Hertz
    June 3, 2008

    @ #51:

    One word: Bokonon.

  99. #99 windy
    June 3, 2008

    I thought the article by Tingley was dead on in it’s criticism of atheism.

    Don’t you think that calling Pascal the consummate scientist and skeptic, and neglecting to mention that after his conversion he gave up science to read ‘pious books’, is dishonest?

    So, little boys

    Don’t be so sexist. I am neither.

  100. #100 kcrady
    June 3, 2008

    @Brenda von Ahsen #79:

    The heart is that which links the Ba and the Ka, which Anubis weighs upon the Scales of Ma’at at the Judgment. Are you prepared to stand before Osiris and recite the Negative Confession?

    What’s that? You don’t believe in Osiris, Isis, Anubis, and Thoth? Oh dear, how unfortunate. You are wrong to disbelieve in the Gods simply because there is no material evidence for them. They could be hiding, so that only those whose hearts are pure, and balance the Scales against the Feather of Ma’at, will find them.

    You have given up the climb to the summit, having settled for the tribal barbarian deity you were raised with, rather than continuing the ascent.

    Perhaps you would argue that the religion of Kemet is just so much primitive superstition, that we have advanced greatly since the days of the Pharaohs.

    Have you read the Instruction of Ptahotep? Google it, and you will find that it matches the best morality of your Bible, but without the genocides and threats of everlasting torture.

    You need only look into the timeless visage of any Egyptian statue to see that these were a people of great wisdom, who knew what they were about. They were able to raise great monuments that people still flock to behold in awe today. Their works are so impressive, that millions today believe they could not have been accomplished without supernatural assistance from extraterrestrials, crystal-wielding Atlanteans, or some other modern myth. These mythmakers, like you, deny the Gods without having sought them with a pure heart.

    If you think no sophisticated arguments can be raised in favor of the the Gods, then you are clearly unfamiliar with the works of R.A. Schwaller de Lubicz, in particular his two-volume magnum opus The Temple of Man.

    Will you make your keyboard an altar of Osiris, and open your heart to Him today?

    [/poe]

  101. #101 SteveM
    June 3, 2008

    You all can’t be so willfully stupid that you take him literally can you?

    You can’t be so willfully stupid that you think we really are taking him literally can you? Are you too willfully stupid to understand mockery? The point is that the article is just as stupid whether he refers to the heart realistically or metaphorically.

  102. #102 Nick Gotts
    June 3, 2008

    Re #95: First error is at step 3. Since there is a possible world in which nothing at all exists, and this possible world would have no beings, maximally excellent or otherwise, the premise is false.

  103. #103 Bishop Pontoppodan
    June 3, 2008

    “Strange, indeed, that you should not have suspected that your universe and its contents were only dreams, visions, fiction! Strange, because they are so frankly and hysterically insane – like all dreams: a God who could make good children as easily as bad, yet preferred to make bad ones; who could have made every one of them happy, yet never made a single happy one; who made them prize their bitter life, yet stingily cut it short; who gave his angels eternal happiness unearned, yet required his other children to earn it; who gave his angels painless lives, yet cursed his other children with biting miseries and maladies of mind and body; who mouths justice and invented hell – mouths mercy and invented hell – mouths Golden Rules, and forgiveness multiplied by seventy times seven, and invented hell; who mouths morals to other people and has none himself; who frowns upon crimes, yet commits them all; who created man without invitation, then tries to shuffle the responsibility for man’s acts upon man, instead of honorably placing it where it belongs, upon himself; and finally, with altogether divine obtuseness, invites this poor, abused slave to worship him! . . .

    “You perceive, now, that these things are all impossible except in a dream. You perceive that they are pure and puerile insanities, the silly creations of an imagination that is not conscious of its freaks – in a word, that they are a dream, and you the maker of it. The dream-marks are all present; you should have recognized them earlier.

    “It is true, that which I have revealed to you; there is no God, no universe, no human race, no earthly life, no heaven, no hell. It is all a dream – a grotesque and foolish dream. Nothing exists but you. And you are but a thought – a vagrant thought, a useless thought, a homeless thought, wandering forlorn among the empty eternities!”

    He vanished, and left me appalled; for I knew, and realized, that all he had said was true.”
    Mark Twain- “The Mysterious Stranger”

  104. #104 ornwen
    June 3, 2008

    I actually made it thru Tingley’s “essay”, and the gist of it is this- since logic and evidence can’t prove any god’s existence, you must acknowledge that logic and evidence are not enough to prove any god’s existence, and you must therefore look into your heart to determine whether you really really really want there to be a god. If you do, by some strange coincidence, you will realize there’s a god and that’s your reason to believe in one. If atheists and agnostics don’t realize that’s a perfectly acceptable way of perceiving a god’s existence, they’re just narrow-minded.
    Basically, Tingley acknowledges that once logic and evidence are exhausted, you have two options: that a god exists, but there is no evidence for it, or that no god exists. But Tingley wants to add an option: that a god exists, and the evidence is by deciding whether you really really wanted a god to exist in the first place.
    I can’t believe this guy teaches.

  105. #105 H.H.
    June 3, 2008

    Brownian makes a good point, and one that people like Tingley, Louise Van Court, and Brenda von Ahsen consistently fail to understand. And that’s if one dedicates enough effort in believing in the reality of some unevidenced metaphysical proposition, one will usually succeed. By “just letting go and believing,” it is possible to convince oneself of almost anything. Want to believe that god is real? In the healing powers of crystals? That ancient UFOs seeded all life here on Earth? That some psychics possess legitimate and scientifically-unexplainable powers? That a Jewish preacher walked on water and rose from the dead? Name it and you can believe it. All you need to do it try hard enough. That such belief is more than possible is no secret to atheists.

    That’s not skepticism, though, that’s the opposite of it. Skepticism means not trusting one’s own inclinations. It means not ignoring the lack of valid evidence and clinging to weak rationales. It means refusing to confuse what one wants to believe with what is. So following your heart is easy, it just isn’t any guide to truth whatsoever. Most atheists recognize this.

    By following one’s heart, it is possible to believe anything one desires. Being open to possibilities is one thing, but Tingley abuses the concept of doubt when he offers it as an excuse to justify belief. He essentially asserts we must be skeptical of our skepticism, since we may be wrong, and that somehow means faith is therefore justified. It’s a typical god-of-the-gaps argument with a “just intuit the nature of the Universe” thrown in as a solution. I pity anyone convinced by such poorly conceived excuses.

  106. #106 windy
    June 3, 2008

    Tingley blathered:

    What would we say to the pre-Darwinian who did not believe that biodiversity could be explained? (“It all had to be put here,” he insisted. “There is no material evidence for a mechanism of biodiversity.”) Was natural selection material evidence?

    No, there is material evidence for natural selection. Thanks for playing.

  107. #107 Aquaria
    June 3, 2008

    Atheism is about as far from “human comfort” as could be conceived.

    Yeah, it’s so comfortable to have my car’s windows smashed in for having a mildly anti-religious bumper sticker on my car (Moral Majority is Neither), to have people screaming in my face about my forthcoming damnation to hell and frothing at the mouth so badly that their spittle is flying all over the place after I reveal that I’m an atheist. Yeah, it’s so comfortable to be thrown out of a relative’s home for being an infidel, an apostate, a heathen. It’s so comfortable to lose a job because a boss asked me what church I attend, and I said none. Or to have another boss with a bible on his desk and the Jesus Loves You bumper sticker on his car who thought that being an atheist meant that I’d hike my skirt for him and let him do me, whenever, wherever nobody could see. And then fire me for not putting out. Yeah. SOoooo comfortable an existence.

  108. #108 woozy
    June 3, 2008

    What? Throw in enough steps and he thinks he can hide the question begging?

    1. It is proposed that a being has maximal easter bunniness in a given possible world W if and only if it is ultimate pink and wholy fictious in W; and

    Sure why not.

    2. It is proposed that a being has maximal Oesterness if it has maximal easter bunniness in every possible world.

    Again, why not.

    3. Maximal Oesterness is possibly exemplified. That is, it is possible that there be a being that has maximal Oesterness. (Premise)

    Well, anything’s possible.

    4. Therefore, possibly it is necessarily true that an ultimate pink and wholy fictious being exists.

    That doesn’t actually follow. What follows is that it is necessarily true that it is possibly that an up and wfb exists. After all it’s nescessary that everything is possible but it isn’t possible that everything is nescessary.

    Still, anything is possibly so it is possibly necessarily true. Actually we don’t know if its possibly necessarily true as disproving the easter bunny would show it *isn’t* possibly necessarily true, but I’m giving it to you for sake of argument.

    5. Therefore, it is necessarily true that an ultimate pink and wholy fictious being exists. (By S5)

    What the fuck! No, it’s nescessary that it *possibly* exists! (and that’s just me being generous.)

    6. Therefore, the easter bunny exists.

    No, you *can’t* get from step 4 to 5 and you can’t get from 3 to 4.

  109. #109 noncarborundum
    June 3, 2008

    Having been exposed to multiple conflicting religions where the adherents all “feel the truth in their heart”, I’m not impressed by Tingley’s argument.

    I read Tingley’s argument as one in favor of Mormonism. At least, I assume it’s the heart that produces burning in the bosom. Or is that excess stomach acid?

  110. #110 SteveM
    June 3, 2008

    Doesn’t this argument boil down to something like: “A perfect being must exist otherwise it wouldn’t be perfect. Therefore, God, being perfect, must exist”?

  111. #111 Kermit
    June 3, 2008

    Starbuck@55:
    “Hmmm… You call a Christian foolish and deluded. Am I correct?”

    Only if they think they have persuasive arguments to convince somebody that there are gods.

    “And the Christian claims that God calls a person who say there is no God as a fool. And fools are usually deluded so that can be added as well.

    There is no common ground here. This is an arguement that you will never solve.”

    Have you noticed that our arguments do not actually consist of calling theists idiots? My argument includes:
    1. No evidence for gods.
    2. The God of Abraham, if anything like the myths, was a moral monster, a typical Near Eastern monarch of 2500 years ago, IOW.

    “You can’t convince a Christian to turn his back on God. (Atleast not very many anyways.) However, there have been many athiests who converted to Christianity.”

    Really? I was raised on Hellfire and brimstone; had ‘em for breakfast. Knew all the apostles by their first names, went to Sunday School, Morning Church services, Sunday evening church services, and Wednesday Night Prayer Meetin’. I never saw any evidence for gods, nor any evidence that Christians were better people, nor that they were happier, nor more prosperous. I had strong evidence by the time I was 13 that all adults were insane. Turns out, with further data, that only *most adults are insane, and all the ones I knew as a kid.

    “You point your fingers at Christians and mock them. From the comments I see on this blog, you hate them as well.”

    My son, my cousins? Nope.

    “One would think that you would critisize muslims, buddhist, and any other religion as well. You don’t.”

    We do. But not as often. Here in the west most theists are Christian of some sort. (So *many different versions of revealed truth…)

    “…But then if you insult Islam, they feel obligated to saw your head off. Be thankful that Christians don’t have that virtue.”

    I *am thankful. But they had that virtue just a couple of lifetimes ago. To the extent that Western Christianity has been secularized, it has been civilized. I was raised Southern Baptist, and my preacher granddaddy lamented the end of slavery in this country. I can understand *people not realizing or admitting that slavery was wrong, but why didn’t your eternal god?

    “You can hate Christians all you want, that is your right.”

    Funny thing to say. Whether it’s my “right” or not, I have feelings that are responses to the world around me; I can’t help what I feel, not directly. May as well tell me I have a right to perceive the sky as blue on a sunny day.

    “You can deny God all you want, that is also your right.”

    Do you mean reject values, deny a request, or deny the existence of? This is – typically – ambiguously stated.

    “But remember this, the majority of people in this country (atleast it is a close one) are Christians. Police, Doctors, Nurses, Firmen, Soldiers, Scientists (yes, some of them are!), Factory workers, Cashier workers, Salesmen, Managers, and all the other occupations and including people you meet in stores and in other public places, are Christians. They are all over the place. You meet some of them and actually like some of these people. You treat them with respect and they treat you with respect as well. Some you even might find attractive.”

    What’s your point? Half of them or more have political beliefs you disagree with. Why would you be uncivil to them?

    “Would you disrespect people you like and are attracted to in order to furthur your ideology?”

    What ideology? If you mean would I try to convince others that there are no gods, I would only do that if they were doing active harm for their religious beliefs, or brought the subject up and insisted on talking about it. I am not prepared to disillusion people who are happy as they are; some of these folks are terrified of death and I am not going to hold their hand.

    I *have sometimes tried to convince folks that their religion doesn’t necessarily require a particular course of action, but those who are bent on destruction of some sort (e.g. not seeking medical treatment for their kids, or fighting against human rights for gays in the US) don’t typically respond to reason or evidence.

    The result is that I usually end up pointing out that their crazy behavior is founded on a crazy and indefensible world view. But that doesn’t seem to work, either :(

    “Because on the athiest side of the arguement, you sometimes come off as the crazy Christians you rail against and mock.”

    Yeah, not surprising. You guys drive us crazy sometimes.

  112. #112 Pablo
    June 3, 2008

    I’m trying to understand how someone can miss something blatently obvious as Tingley is doing here: this is not an argument for God, but is an argument for ANYTHING for which no evidence exists.

    Throw in the FSM or IPU (pbuh), or any random, nonsensical thing and you get the same answer.

    Alternatively, throw out the standard atheist canard, “I only believe in one fewer god than you. When you understand why you reject the rest, you will understand why I reject yours.”

    By Tingley’s thinking, we must believe in EVERYTHING that can be imagined or we are not adequately skeptical. The only way we can limit it to his God is by special pleading. Of course, that is all he is doing in the first place.

  113. #113 Efogoto
    June 3, 2008

    I found Tingley’s mountaineering metaphor to be just a little inaccurate, but correctable. Once above the tree-line, the atheist sees that he’s reached the summit and is standing at the edge of a precipice, so turns and goes home. The Christian desires that there be something further and steps off.

  114. #114 Louis
    June 3, 2008

    A related aside:

    I often hear/read one caricature of atheism/atheists from a subsection of our theistically inclined chums. It is that all atheists are despairing because they lack hope (or some word play on this theme) or that atheism is a “doctrine of hopelessness” or some such drivel.

    As usual this is totally wrong.

    The only occasions on which your average atheist truly despairs is when he or she encounters a theistically inclined chum who, in their state of wanton delusion, fails to present just one even minimally convincing argument/piece of evidence for their deity’s existance. The continual barrage of utterly asinine crapola from the credulous is enough to make even the most optimistic rationalist want to slit at least someone’s throat!
    ;-)

    Louis

  115. #115 Nick Gotts
    June 3, 2008

    Brenda von Ahsen@79

    I said earlier in another thread that I did not consider you a troll, but I’m rethinking that opinion: your most recent post clearly has no purpose other than to parade your own sense of superiority. You have claimed to be a “skeptic”, but I’m coming to the conclusion you are the same sort of “skeptic” as Tingley – that is, you’re no sort of skeptic at all, but want to appropriate the word for rhetorical purposes.

  116. #116 JStein
    June 3, 2008

    Why do people like this see the need to record their stupidity?

    Seriously, it’s not like they’re saying anything original.

  117. #117 themadlolscientist
    June 3, 2008

    I can’t hear the word “apologetics” without thinking “someone’s sorry and feels an overpowering need to explain.”

  118. #118 Starbuck
    June 3, 2008

    Thanks for coming out, Starbuck. Now why don’t you go back to the bench and learn from watching the big kids play.

    Coming out.. ok.. I spoke my piece, (forgive me for the spelling errors). As for more Christians becoming athiests, I guess you could be right. But being raised in a Christian home doesn’t make you a Christian.

    And as for watch the big kids play… That is a stupid metaphor and an even lousier insult.

    But I will leave you all alone and I will go back to lurking. Good Luck eh!

  119. #119 Aquaria
    June 3, 2008

    Louis #114: That reminds me of something I used to say to people who annoyed me, “Please, let me put you out of my misery.” ;)

    Of course there was also that time in my life when I regularly did things that annoyed and generally pissed off my mother (usually because i wasn’t doing what she wanted me to do, the way she wanted me to do it). When she’d really get frustrated or upset, she’d always say, “I wish the Lord would just let me die!”

    I finally told her, “I wish your Lord would do that, too, so that I wouldn’t have to hear you say stupid things like that anymore.”

    Hoo boy, vale of tears time, but my brothers thanked me when they realized why she’d stopped using that particular tactic of shameless emotional blackmail.

  120. #120 Cygnus Tygger
    June 3, 2008

    “But then if you insult Islam, they feel obligated to saw your head off. Be thankful that Christians don’t have that virtue”

    It really should be pointed out only the extremists feel obligated to saw my head off and they are the equivalent of the christians who feel obliged to burn me at the stake. And it is only a freak of history that a handful of infidel head sawers made it to the 21st century newspapers and the heretic burners (for the most part) did not.

    I mean it seriously when I say some of my best friends are Muslim. I mean it. All the Muslims I know are uber-cool. Just like catholic girls give the best head (and they really do!), Muslims have the most scathing ironic wit!

  121. #121 JJR
    June 3, 2008

    With a hat tip to Stephen Colbert, I propose the following re-translation of the biblical text:

    “Ye shall know the truthiness, and the truthiness shall set you free”.

    ;-D

  122. #122 Snitzels
    June 3, 2008

    Cygnus, I’ll second that one. All the Muslims I’ve known have been really cool people. This doesn’t mean they all are, but honestly, I’d love to see people stop painting entire cultures with one characteristic. People are far too diverse for that kind of insult.

    Of course, I only choose to include really cool people in my circle of friends. There will always be dirt when one looks for it, I suppose it’s how hard you want to look and how much you will put up with that matters.

    (sorry, convoluted thought, but just wanted to give kudos)

  123. #123 Brownian, OM
    June 3, 2008

    The Christian desires that there be something further and steps off.

    Careful, Efogoto, that’s the same kind of wishful thinking that Christians indulge in when they convince themselves that ‘warm fuzzies’ constitute evidence for their god.

    Still, one can only hope.

  124. #124 Glen Davidson
    June 3, 2008

    1. It is proposed that a being has maximal excellence in a given possible world W if and only if it is omnipotent, omniscient and wholly good in W; and
    2. It is proposed that a being has maximal greatness if it has maximal excellence in every possible world.
    3. Maximal greatness is possibly exemplified. That is, it is possible that there be a being that has maximal greatness. (Premise)
    4. Therefore, possibly it is necessarily true that an omniscient, omnipotent and perfectly good being exists.
    5. Therefore, it is necessarily true that an omniscient, omnipotent and perfectly good being exists. (By S5)
    6. Therefore, an omniscient, omnipotent and perfectly good being exists.

    The whole argument breaks down on the definitions. We don’t know what “maximal greatness” even means, except in definite matters (and even there it’s generally iffy). “Wholly good” is another meaningless term.

    “Omniscient” and “omnipotent” are more question-begging terms, which only fit in with the little circular logic that Plantinga is bringing up. They’re as meaningful as saying “God”, but he’s saying “omniscient” and “omnipotent” because he doesn’t want to just say “God exists”, he wants to say that God exists because God has to exist.

    The whole thing rests on the old Catholic belief that anything that is possible must exist at some point in time. That’s because in an infinity of time, everything that is possible must eventually exist. Still, maybe God only existed for a short while? But, following other claptrap metaphysics, an omniscient and omnipotent being couldn’t exist for only a short time, it must have always existed. God exists for all time, because if God is possible at any time he must exist, and he cannot exist for only a short time, hence he exists for all time.

    Which seems a little odd, of course, because we’re usually arguing with people, including Catholic Behe, about finite possibilities, with the theist claiming that there isn’t enough time for intelligence to evolve. That isn’t the old theistic tradition, however, rather the Catholics inherited an eternal universe from the Greeks, and argued that since “god is possible”, god must exist.

    Plantinga’s old school though. Many Catholic philosophers now admit that God might not be possible, in fact, and Plantinga gives us no reason (not in the six steps, and I’m sure nowhere else, not for real) to believe that he is possible. Nothing about the universe means that omnipotence or omniscience is possible, and indeed, scientific considerations suggest quite the opposite.

    Plantinga’s just playing word games, in fact. He’s not referring to anything we have truly found out about the world, he’s just operating off of his assumptions. His assumptions are only religious apologetics, however.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  125. #125 Vic
    June 3, 2008

    Osmium(#95) – is that you from the M-R board?

    Re: Brenda (#79)

    But I truly find it hard to believe that no one here has any idea what is meant by the word “heart”. So, little boys, set aside your games and be honest. Do you truly not know what is the referent in the phrase “The heart has it’s reasons”? It should be obvious to anyone, I know what it means, do you?

    You are really stupid if you think we don’t know what you are TRYING to say. The ‘heart’ you mean here is not the blood pump but rather the seat of emotion, irrationality, and everything else you mean that lets you carve out whatever intellectual space you need to believe in ‘god’. EVERYONE has emotions. Nobody is saying anything differently. I’d wager to say that, if by ‘heart’ you mean ‘emotion’, then EVERY atheist here would agree with you.

    BUT, they (and I) recognize what you do not: to wit – that ‘emotion’ is not EVIDENCE. Believe what makes you feel good all you want – that doesn’t make it REAL.

    Or, as woozy (#93) said:

    Basically “the heart” is an utterly *meaningless* phrase and as such *deserves* the mocking we give it.

  126. #126 Aquaria
    June 3, 2008

    But being raised in a Christian home doesn’t make you a Christian.

    And now the No True Scotsman argument, trotted out just for our amusement in the usual Christian robe of faux hurt feelings and smug self-righteousness, rather than a kilt.

    You still don’t get it, Starbuck. Plenty of people who have actually lived the Christian life as adults lose their religion. It happens all the time. Just off the top of my head, there are the folks over at Debunking Christianity (many of whom were ministers), Dan Bartlett over at the Freedom From Religion Foundation (an ex-Christian minister), or any of the many, many fine people here. I’m sure there are more. I just can’t remember them all. Before you say they weren’t real Christians, please go back to the link I provided above and read it very S L O W L Y and carefully before opening your mouth (or putting your fingers to keyboards).

    I do hope this encourages you not to use this ridiculous argument again.

    I also hope it encourages you to get out more, and meet some real people, which would include atheists. I promise not to eat your children if you’ll promise not to mention your imaginary sky friend every other sentence.

  127. #127 Owlmirror
    June 3, 2008

    But being raised in a Christian home doesn’t make you a Christian.

    Oddly enough, that sounds like one of Richard Dawkins’ points in The God Delusion. Ironic, isn’t it?

  128. #128 August West
    June 3, 2008

    Tingley is actually using the well-known Argument From Grateful Dead Lyrics:

    Wake up to find out
    that you are the eyes of the world
    but the heart has its beaches
    its homeland and thoughts of its own
    Wake now, discover that you
    are the song that the morning brings
    but the heart has its seasons
    its evenings and songs of its own

    uh, no, my bad…the heart has “seasons,” of its own, not “reasons.”

    Carry on.

  129. #129 E in MD
    June 3, 2008

    Define “heart”.

    Posted by: dsmccoy | June 3, 2008 10:32 AM

    Heart:

    A BS notion that somehow through wishing hard enough one can make a mountain jump six feet across the earth.

  130. #130 Aquaria
    June 3, 2008

    I mean it seriously when I say some of my best friends are Muslim. I mean it. All the Muslims I know are uber-cool. Just like catholic girls give the best head (and they really do!), Muslims have the most scathing ironic wit!

    Just about every Muslim I have known here has been fun and funny, very kind and thoughtful. I had a Muslim boyfriend in college, and he treated me like a human being, not a piece of meat. My GAWD–He would actually have deep, hours-long intellectual conversations with me! It was such a refreshing change that I was totally hooked on him.

    So don’t make assumptions about what some of us think of Muslims, Buddhists, Christians–anybody. My general philosophy is that I’m okay with whatever you believe, as long as you’re not a jerk about it. If you’re a jerk, I don’t hold back in saying so. I don’t make an exception to that policy for my husband, son or mother, so I definitely wouldn’t do it for someone less important to me.

  131. #131 Felstatsu
    June 3, 2008

    Congratulations to anyone who actually managed to read all that, I can’t really stomach much of any of it. What I did get seemed to boil down to “skeptic atheists aren’t really skeptic since they didn’t try to believe in my god the way I want them to before deciding the evidence wasn’t there” yet believing in a god blindly without evidence is truly the opposite of skepticism, as the true skeptic will believe nothing without evidence first pointing to it in some way.

    Given there’s no good explanation for how the universe came into existence I’ll hold onto my rather rationally thought out belief. In my own views on deity, if we were truly created by it (not talking about anti-evolution stuff here, just about what caused the big bang, creation of the very first life form on earth) then it cares and wants us to be happy. This is why I follow a personalized form of Norse heathenism (basically meaning, I took my favorite mythology from elementary school and made up my own religion cause I could, I’ll even let other people join for free, I have no dogma or things that require a believer to not accept things proven by science/ect, all you have to do is things that make you happy that don’t impede on other people being happy as much as you can, with an exception of when it’s trampling on crazy things like ID/bad science/snake oil salesmen/any disconnect with obvious reality), ritualized worship involves basically a small party, pretty much when ever I feel like it with a few times over the year specifically set aside for it regardless (though having the parties at those times is technically optional, who wouldn’t want to have time set aside every year for parties though?). This makes me happy, and therefore I think would be appropriate worship of whatever created life, regardless of what form it really has. Outside of the ritualized stuff there’s nothing else to be done. On the other hand, should there be no creator, all I’ve done is have a party with a fantasy theme to it, which was plenty fun and doesn’t harm anyone for me having it. The last possibility is that god does exist and is a real bastard, but then if this is the case, what does it matter what we do?

  132. #132 Aquaria
    June 3, 2008

    Oh crap. My blockquote close tag didn’t take for some reason…

  133. #133 Quentin Robert De Nameland
    June 3, 2008

    Plantinga’s … not referring to anything we have truly found out about the world

    That is, if I am not mistaken, the very definition of an “ontological argument.”
    It’s about as a-scientific as it’s possible to get.

  134. #134 Osmium
    June 3, 2008

    Sorry, for some reason the link didn’t post (I used (a href)). It was supposed to link to an IIDB discussion. http://iidb.infidels.org/vbb/showpost.php?p=5344746&postcount=11

    The argument begs the question. It also equivocates the epistemic and modal uses of “possibility.” Furthermore, the notion that a maximally excellent being exists in all possible worlds runs into a problem when the problem of evil is considered. Plantinga has been able to come up with only one possible world in which the existence of natural evil is compatible with such a deity.

  135. #135 extatyzoma
    June 3, 2008

    the ‘heart’ business.

    so if you have your heart replaced by an artificial one (god forbid!) that means you can no longer ‘feel’ god??? in that case god would probably make special provision for that person and magically allowsome other part of the anatomy to feel god, maybe the adenoids or appendix (if they are there!).

    once again a load of indefensible, unknowable, untestable fucking bollocks from the religious mind.

  136. #136 windy
    June 3, 2008

    Wait, I get it now! If you listen to Heart, you can learn about the Magic Man!

  137. #137 JJR
    June 3, 2008

    back to the text at hand:

    “He has answered the question of God first–not by recourse to evidence but by consulting his heart, which has turned in on itself, which seeks no God.”

    This is merely a more sophisticated way, perhaps, to state the standard (and erroneous) “angry atheist” hypothesis.

    I love the quote by Nietzsche “A stroll through the lunatic asylum will demonstrate that faith proves nothing”.

    Those so-called Mad-At-God “Atheists” (I’m willing to accept for sake of argument that such people exist and misappropriate “our” label) aren’t real Atheists, though they have a chance to become healthy, true Atheists. Sometimes such people careen into unhealthy nihilism. Some even act out violently against their former co-religionists (like that nut who shot up that Church in Colorado awhile back)–that is unfortunate, but you can’t blame those actions on atheism or atheists.

    I’ve known pleasant people who happen to be Christians, I’ve met/known some real asshole atheists. I’ve also met very nice atheists who came closer to actually living up to Christian “hype” vis a vis ethical conduct than plenty of asshole Christians I’ve met.

    I try to stick to ol’ Thomas Paine…”The World is my Country, to do Good my Religion.”

  138. #138 Numad
    June 3, 2008

    “Doesn’t this argument boil down to something like: ‘A perfect being must exist otherwise it wouldn’t be perfect. Therefore, God, being perfect, must exist’?”

    Isn’t that roughly Descartes’ argument for the existence of God?

  139. #139 CortxVortx
    June 3, 2008

    Re: #36

    I can’t detect god because I have an aluminum foil vest.

    …it matches my hat… =)

    How stylish! God of the GAP.

  140. #140 extatyzoma
    June 3, 2008

    so now I have heard that:

    atheists need more faith than theists (so faith is bad then??)

    atheism is just a religion (so religion is a ‘just’ then, ok)

    the religious are the true skeptics and scientists. Hmm, the 55th page of the bible is true right? even if you havent read it??

    i dont get what theists try to achieve when they say these types of reversal. Is it simply to confuse, annoy or prove they can say anything they want and expect to be taken seriously??

  141. #141 skyotter
    June 3, 2008

    “strong arguments for God” generally involve pliers and fingernails, so be thankful you see mostly the weak ones

  142. #142 deang
    June 3, 2008

    he triumphantly declares that there is no evidence

    Y’know, I was raised in a supposedly moderate Protestant denomination, Methodist, and one thing that was clear to me even as a child was that faith trumps all. Therefore, the less rational something is, the more virtue there is in maintaining it as a belief. Unquestioning belief can only thrive in the absence of evidence.

  143. #143 Matt
    June 3, 2008

    Brenda: “You all can’t be so willfully stupid that you take him literally can you?”

    You mean he didn’t literally mean the heart as in the blood pumping organ? Wow, thanks for pointing that out. I really am stupid for not getting that.

  144. #144 Ritchie Annand
    June 3, 2008

    Starbuck said: And as for watch the big kids play… That is a stupid metaphor and an even lousier insult.

    But I will leave you all alone and I will go back to lurking. Good Luck eh!

    There must be an Internet Law for this that I have somehow missed in my travels, for this pattern happened extensively on the Expelled blogs. I am not sure whether it is mostly the province of the clash of skeptics and believers, but it is certainly well-evidenced there.

    What do you call it, when out of all the various replies one receives, one responds only to the most insulting or crass, ignores every last one of the substantive replies, and alternately starts all over again, or takes the ball and goes home?

  145. #145 noncarborundum
    June 3, 2008

    It’s a bit of irony that Tingley insists that following the heart is the way to God, and then disparages atheists for “wanting” there to be no God — i.e., for following their hearts. Thus,

    Shorter Tingley:

    Ur hart. Ur usin it rong.

  146. #146 CJO
    June 3, 2008

    Maybe the Aztecs had it right after all.

    “He says he doesn’t believe in Huehueteotl!”

    “Must be his heart. Let’s have a look, shall we?”

  147. #147 Owlmirror
    June 3, 2008

    “Doesn’t this argument boil down to something like: ‘A perfect being must exist otherwise it wouldn’t be perfect. Therefore, God, being perfect, must exist’?”

    Isn’t that roughly Descartes’ argument for the existence of God?

    I think you mean this guy:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anselm_of_Canterbury#Proofs

    But otherwise, yes, that’s the essence of the ontological argument. Note that even during his lifetime someone pointed out that “humans cannot pass from intellect to reality”.

  148. #148 "Q" the Enchanter
    June 3, 2008

    On balance, a good reason to leave your heart in San Francisco.

  149. #149 scrabcake
    June 3, 2008

    Starbuck, I was going to at least sympathize with you on behalf of all of the intelligent religious people I know. Not empathize, because I just don’t get it, but sympathize.

    Then you had to bang the triangular disrespect peg into the square verb hole. No! “Disrespecting” is NOT a word! It betrays you as a total undereducated yokel.

  150. #150 woozy
    June 3, 2008

    The whole thing rests on the old Catholic belief that anything that is possible must exist at some point in time. That’s because in an infinity of time, everything that is possible must eventually exist. Still, maybe God only existed for a short while?

    That’s a catholic argument? Well, *if* we accept this then we *do* have to accept an eternal God. (Because a temporary God wouldn’t be omnipotent if he didn’t exist eternally and everywhere? However *if* we accept this we *also* have to accept that absolutely nothing exists. (Because a maximum annihilator can possibly exist so he had to exist at some time and to be a maximum annihilator he will have to have annihilated everything and everything at all times.) Thus using the anthropic principal that *something* exists and that’s just the way it is, we must conclude either: 1) it isn’t nescessary that maximum things exist (in fact I’d go so for to say it isn’t *possible* that maximum things exist) or 2) it isn’t nescessary that all possible things exist somewhere (I’d go so far as to say it’s *impossible* for all possible things to exist somewhere).

    Actually, if all possible things that can, must exist in some world then we can *prove* God doesn’t exist. It’s possible that God doesn’t exist (*yes* Catholics it *is* possible) thus God wouldn’t exist in that one world, hence the God that does exist in other worlds isn’t maximum and thus isn’t God. Hence God exists and doesn’t exist as do we and the maximum anihilitor.

    It *all* begs the question. You simply can not derive evidence (for *anything*) by bootstrapping from a foundation of nothing. If you *do* there is something wrong with your logic.

    Spinoza and others (did Descartes?) *all* made this argument (and truth to tell I don’t thing any of them liked it but felt compelled to make it) and they *all* beg the question.

    Really… it all does boil down to Godels incompletness theorem. I mean it *usually* boils down to Godels incompleteness theorem. If really on the definition of a God to “complete” things you ultimately include it’s inconsistancy. The ol’ “Can God make a burrito so awesome that he himself can’t finish it” canard. That’s *not* a prove against God but it is a proof against a *proof* of God by appealing to his completeness.

  151. #151 Cygnus Tygger
    June 3, 2008

    Schnitzy;

    To shoot my observation in my webbed feet: Of course, most of the Muslims I knew are secular or moderate. All cool people are secular or moderate. I know some *really* smart Christians as well. I don’t really get being secular and moderate and not going all the way but hey, they have their reasons (which I’d much rather hear then this apologist). Then again I‘m a figment of someone’s imagination and it’s really not that bad. It’s kind of fun actually. If I don’t mind being a figment of someone’s imagination, I don’t see why God should. After all, I’m supposedly much more arrogant than He is.

  152. #152 Brenda von Ahsen
    June 3, 2008

    Nick
    your most recent post clearly has no purpose other than to parade your own sense of superiority.

    No, I asked a question about a common word in a common phrase and no here can decipher it at all. That’s troubling because it means we can’t talk. And I held back giving my interpretation because, well, just scroll up and see. Why shouldn’t I do what you do? You judge Christians from their worst examples and claim you are right to do so. Well then why should I not so the same and judge you? By that measure you fail miserably.

    woozy
    Of course we know he is talking metaphorically about the heart. We just find that such a patently *stupid* and meaningless statement we can’t help but make utter mockery of it

    Then you should read your fellows up thread because they sure seem to be genuinely perplexed. They appear to honestly believe that the sentence refers to the human organ of the heart, or to the stomach (gut). You really cannot imagine what could possibly be meant by heart? That you are able to take one tiny step in the right direction is a good sign. You correctly identify that the words “heart” or “gut” are metaphors. But a metaphor for what you do not know.

    Now I understand how Deren Brown was able to play that group of atheists like a violin. You are totally unable to think abstractly, for you everything is concretized and literal. Bishop Pontoppodan is closer than any of you.

    CJO
    It’s enough to reinforce the suspicion that your god is similarly nebulous, yet we’re supposed to believe it exists on your –or some theologian’s– say-so. After all, you whine, “it should be obvious to anyone.”

    To begin with you are misquoting me. Secondly I don’t believe in god, I’m a non-christian, a skeptic and therefore an atheist in the old sense. I’m just not a member of your cult of scientism.

    When people talk about thinking with their gut or knowing something in their heart they are not speaking literally. Only fools would believe that. But what are they referring to? Well they are talking about a generalized ambiguous feeling that they are experiencing. Something non-rational, formless, chaotic that arises in the background of their minds and convinces them that some course of action or behavior is better than another. What do we know of today that would fit that description? Well that would be the unconscious wouldn’t it?

    Boys and girls, we are in Freudian territory here. A land you know absolutely nothing about.

    So both you and Tingley are correct in some ways, incorrect in others. Tingley’s criticism of atheism as un-serious and dishonest skepticism strikes me as valid. Your criticism of Tingley’s metaphor of the “heart” is equally valid. The unconscious is no source of rational thought.

    Why was Derren Brown able to convert the atheists in that room? One explanation would be that he was able to create a connection between their rational disbelief and their unconscious irrational motivations for their disbelief. In other words, the reason that some people disbelieve is due to the child’s struggle with separation anxiety. In order to become an adult, something few here have managed to achieve, you need to break with your parent objects. For many here that break is along religious lines. It could easily be around something else, but then you wouldn’t be here.

    When the young woman became an atheist she rejected her mother and cut herself off from her mother’s all enveloping love. Symbolized by the “inner hug”. Young women have to do this BTW, otherwise mom’s love becomes suffocating and you become enmeshed. Which can threaten the very existence of the ego.

    Brown was able somehow, I’ve no idea how he did it, to bridge that psychic interpersonal gap and help her to connect her ego with her repressed image of her mother. But she didn’t actually renounce her atheism so much as simply allow herself to accept her mother’s love for her. Something she had apparently denied herself for a long time. Once that was done her atheism softened and was less rigid and inflexible.

    All this goes to show that the structure of your scientism is not fundamentally different than any other belief system. You have unconscious motivations that under pin your social constructs just like anyone else. Your arrogance is that you believe you do not and that therefore you are superior to others. You believe that only you are able to judge others, that’s what makes you so dangerous. They don’t call it hubris for nothing.

  153. #153 Dennis N
    June 3, 2008

    A land you know absolutely nothing about.

    Excellent way to not look like an ass. /sarcasm

    unconscious irrational motivations for their disbelief

    Disbelief in fanciful ideas is irrational? The default position for anything is disbelief. Evidence convinces a person to believe in something.

    Translation of Brenda’s rant: Atheism is just another religion!

    We’ve totally never heard that one before. Anyway, I gotta go; gotta get back to my hobby of not collecting stamps.

  154. #154 Afreud I am no longer Jung
    June 3, 2008

    Because the Freudian “unconscious” is just ever-so-much-more sciency sounding than the metaphorical “heart.”

  155. #155 windy
    June 3, 2008

    Then you should read your fellows up thread because they sure seem to be genuinely perplexed. They appear to honestly believe that the sentence refers to the human organ of the heart, or to the stomach (gut).

    You appear to be utterly unable to comprehend sarcasm.

    PS. When Carl Sagan famously answered the question “What’s your gut feeling?” with “I try not to think with my gut”, was he being a literalist scientism-infected moron? Or was he making a point?

    PPS. Feel free to drop in on the previous thread to defend your claim that I’m a poo-flinging monkey who lacks integrity. Coward.

  156. #156 Pablo
    June 3, 2008

    “Disbelief in fanciful ideas is irrational?”

    See my comment above. If you take Tingley to the logical extreme, then the proper skeptical approach (in his mind) is that you have to believe in EVERYTHING. I will modify what I said above, it’s not just everything imaginable, but everything, including things you can’t even imagine.

  157. #157 SC
    June 3, 2008

    But what are they referring to? Well they are talking about a generalized ambiguous feeling that they are experiencing. Something non-rational, formless, chaotic that arises in the background of their minds and convinces them that some course of action or behavior is better than another. What do we know of today that would fit that description? Well that would be the unconscious wouldn’t it?

    Boys and girls, we are in Freudian territory here. A land you know absolutely nothing about.

    Well, we’re certainly in neurological territory. The human “heart,” however fuzzily you define it, is material – a biological product of evolution.

    Why don’t you go over to NeuroLogica and try to sell your argument there?:

    http://www.theness.com/neurologicablog/

  158. #158 Glen Davidson
    June 3, 2008

    @#150

    To be fair, Plantinga’s not formally using the notion that anything possible will have to exist, he’s using S5 of modal logic. But it comes out about the same anyhow.

    I looked up S5, and the claim is that anything that possibly necessary is also necessarily possible, and thus is necessary. IOW, more word games, since we really know of nothing that is “necessary” to exist. It’s not even science as we understand it, rather it’s another throwback to metaphysics, a fact that is true of much of ID as it formally exists as well.

    So I may have been somewhat misleading, since I hadn’t Googled Plantinga’s argument prior to responding to it. However, I do think that the various assumptions of metaphysics more or less collapse into each other anyway, so I wasn’t so very far off.

    Still, I should have checked the specific unevidenced assumptions Plantinga was using, just because it is a specific “argument”.

    Glen Davidson
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  159. #159 Psycho Atheist
    June 3, 2008

    Intelligent arguments for God?

    You Tube Fundy

    You certainly won’t find any there.

    Is it just me or is that guy a Kirk Cameron wannabe?

    (Don’t even try commenting on that video, the user gets his fundy mates to vote it up, deletes unwelcome comments and then disables ratings and comments – thus ensuring a 100% approval rating 100% of the time)

  160. #160 SteveM
    June 3, 2008

    Getting back to Tingely and away from ontology, am I correct in interpreting him as just presenting in flowery prose the argument that since atheists have decided there is no God, that they are no longer skeptics? And that it is only by remaining skeptical that one can possibly “find” God?

    The problem with this is, of course, that skeptics can reach conclusions, it is just that they are willing to abandon any conclusion in light of new evidence. The problem with the rest of his argument is that he acknowledges that all possible evidence has been presented and then chides the atheist for not remaining skeptical and open to some vague “non-physical” forms of “evidence”. Seems to me to be the Hamlet “There are more things in heaven and earth [i.e the universe] than are dreamt of in your [natural] philosophy” argument for God. (Which is no argument at all, just a simple assertion).

  161. #161 Glen Davidson
    June 3, 2008

    It’s not even science as we understand it…

    “It’s” refers to the use of the word “necessary”, which indeed is absolute in metaphysics, roughly contingent in science.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  162. #162 Brenda von Ahsen
    June 3, 2008

    The Christian desires that there be something further and steps off.

    Lets rephrase that shall we?

    Desire wishes that there be something further and steps off…

    And since we are all big and grown up now and we understand that this is not to be taken literally we can complete that metaphor.

    … and continues on it’s journey suspended over the nothingness of being.

  163. #163 Numad
    June 3, 2008

    Owlmirror,

    It seems I really meant Descartes:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ontological_argument#Descartes.27_ontological_arguments

    I guess I might have been mistaken when I recalled Descartes using ‘perfection’ in his version of the argument.

  164. #164 Jase
    June 3, 2008

    Jeebus Brenda. You’re just a trolling nutbag. FREUDIAN??!? for god’s sake. Rereading what you wrote @152, I am convinced you intellectually dishonest and a fraud.

  165. #165 TLP
    June 3, 2008

    Had a tough day with some dumbass on YouTube.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W2gqH19GkIE

    His main argument was this:

    “Current definition of God: A Creator who created and enforces the laws of nature, and is not subject to space-time or the laws of nature.

    It is testable, and still uncontradicted, that laws have lamakers/enforcers. Thus, existence of God is logical.”

    His spam message was this:

    “Most areas of modern science were started by Christians. Where’s the blind faith?!

    Fancis Bacon: scientific method
    Galileo Galilei: astronomy
    Descartes: philosophy
    Robert Boyle: chemistry
    Niels Seno: geology
    Isaac Newton: physics
    Leonhard Euler: mathematician
    John Dalton: atomic theory
    Gregor Mendel: genetics
    James Maxwell: physics
    Louis Pasteur: medicine
    Max Planck, Werner Heisenberg: Quantum Theory”

    His motto is this:

    “Let’s follow the testable facts: Every law requires a lawmaker; every process or machine requires a designer; un-intelligence can’t create intelligence. These are uncontradicted and ALWAYS useful for predictions. What predictions can come from atheist beliefs such as: our intelligence was created by un-intelligence; laws of nature don’t need an intelligent lawmaker; processes like evolution don’t need an intelligent designer? Atheist predictions: Scientists, designers, lawmakers can be dumb!”

    Can someone please enter that channel and own the guy?

  166. #166 Jase
    June 3, 2008

    dammit, I left out “are”.

  167. #167 woozy
    June 3, 2008

    Me: Of course we know he is talking metaphorically about the heart. We just find that such a patently *stupid* and meaningless statement we can’t help but make utter mockery of it

    Brenda: Then you should read your fellows up thread because they sure seem to be genuinely perplexed.

    I can only assume you are being purposely dense because it is *utterly* obvious to me the others are simply making fun of an absolutely *stooopid* metaphor which deserves *all* the mockery it can get.

    What is hear a metaphor for? Well, I have to assume “instinct” or “emotion” I guess as “head” is a metaphor for “intellect”. Of course all thought and emotion and instinct come from the brain so …

    “Listen to your heart; not your head” means … what exactly? I can only conclude it means “Don’t try to judge God’s existence by intellect; judge it by instinct and emotion”. If that’s what he meant why didn’t he say it. Because, “listen to your heart” sounds passionate and humane and moral against cruel odds (a good thing). “Judge by instinct and emotion” is just plain idiotic. The reason we are scoffing is because using the “metaphor” heart in a *serious* critiquing essay is so incrediably cliche and idiotic and self-evidently meaning of nothing but a cheap ploy to tug at pathos we are *amazed* he attempted to do something so inane. It works for a plea to social reform and in poetry but in a philosophical critique? It’s … idiotic.

    I do like the Leviticus and Dr. Who scoff. I laughed out loud at that one.

  168. #168 the Backpacker
    June 3, 2008

    So god exists becase there is no evedence for him?

  169. #169 ndt
    June 3, 2008

    But what are they referring to? Well they are talking about a generalized ambiguous feeling that they are experiencing. Something non-rational, formless, chaotic that arises in the background of their minds and convinces them that some course of action or behavior is better than another. What do we know of today that would fit that description? Well that would be the unconscious wouldn’t it?

    Brenda, are you looking for a commission as Captain Obvious? Every poster here already knows that this is what Tingley meant by heart. That’s what we’re making fun of.

  170. #170 Nick Gotts
    June 3, 2008

    What do we know of today that would fit that description? Well that would be the unconscious wouldn’t it?

    Boys and girls, we are in Freudian territory here.

    That there are mental processes of which we are not conscious is quite clear. That there is something it makes sense to call “the unconscious” is not. Freudian psychology has little if any connection with how the human mind actually works, and many of the characteristics of a religious cult: the revered founder, the sacred texts, the repeated schisms, the complex mythology which just has to be accepted as given. Why am I not surprised that self-proclaimed “skeptic” Brenda von Ahsen appeals to such an authority?

  171. #171 CJO
    June 3, 2008

    Well they are talking about a generalized ambiguous feeling that they are experiencing. Something non-rational, formless, chaotic that arises in the background of their minds and convinces them that some course of action or behavior is better than another. What do we know of today that would fit that description? Well that would be the unconscious wouldn’t it?

    Boys and girls, we are in Freudian territory here. A land you know absolutely nothing about.

    Sometimes a bullshit argument is just a bullshit argument. The unconscious? Please. It’s nothing but a folk category, no more rigorously defined than “heart” or “gut.” And you invoke Freud to give your nasal-gazing banality some veneer of intellectual depth. Pathetic. Freud is utterly, completely irrelevant to the modern fields of Cognitive Science and Neuroscience. Those, I should say, define “the territory” we’re in, and it’s you, I’m afraid, who is lost and alone here, peering myopically at your circa-1910 roadmap –oh, and you’re holding it upside down.

  172. #172 Owlmirror
    June 3, 2008

    Every law requires a lawmaker

    Even if this were true, then it would necessarily follow that there can be no first lawmaker, for a lawmaker itself would follow laws. And therefore “God”, the putative current lawmaker, must necessarily have some lawmaker that precedes it. Thus, “God” would not be ultimate; there would be an infinite regress of lawmakers.

    If a special exception is made for “God”, as being a lawmaker that needs no preceding laws, then obviously the premise is contradicted. If the the premise is contradicted, there is no reason to posit “God” in the first place: It is not the case that every law requires a lawmaker.

    And so on.

  173. #173 K. Signal Eingang
    June 3, 2008

    Long thread for such a flimsy thesis… Feynman rebuts this guy’s whole argument in one sentence, talking about science and skepticism in “Cargo Cult Science”:

    “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself — and you are the easiest person to fool.”

    When Tingley can clearly show the difference between knowing something in your heart of hearts, and just thinking you know it, well, then he’ll have an essay worth reading.

  174. #174 windy
    June 3, 2008

    Brenda:

    But what are they referring to? Well they are talking about a generalized ambiguous feeling that they are experiencing.

    Bzzzzt! Wrong.

    Tingley:

    We are not talking here about feelings, which love to cheat us. Pascal says that the heart convinces, makes us rightly sure. “Demonstration is not the only instrument for convincing us”

    Did you even read the essay you are defending?

  175. #175 Nick Gotts
    June 3, 2008

    I asked a question about a common word in a common phrase and no here can decipher it at all. That’s troubling because it means we can’t talk. – Brenda von Ahsen @159

    Unless you are really much stupider than you appear, your question was just a rhetorical sneer. Of course we all know that Tingley was not referring to the cardiac muscle, and you must surely know that too. You show definite trollish characteristics, notably an extremely condescending tone, and an unwillingness to state your own beliefs with any clarity – for example, calling yourself a “skeptic” without giving any content whatever to the word. What do you mean by “skeptic”? What are you “skeptical” about?

  176. #176 MAJeff, OM
    June 3, 2008

    What are you “skeptical” about??

    Kind of obvious, isn’t it? The phallocentric logos inhering in the scientistic grand narrative.

  177. #177 slang
    June 3, 2008

    #55, Starbuck

    You call a Christian foolish and deluded. Am I correct?

    If you’re correct than you’re not a christian, unless there’s some way of being foolish, deluded, and correct.

  178. #178 Leo Tarvi
    June 3, 2008

    This reminds me of an experiment I did a few weeks ago, you might find it interesting. See, I was raised pretty much without religion, and I decided to try it. I didn’t want to have any preconceptions from existing gods, though, so I made up my own. (Sheevah, Goddess of Warmth!) I felt silly as hell, but I gave it an honest try.

    I’d pray to her before bed. I’m not really sure how prayer is supposed to work, so I just sort of closed my eyes, cleared my mind, and talked to her in my head. I’d ask her to sooth my spirit and cliche stuff like that. The weird part is, she did. It really worked, I felt maybe a little more peaceful, a little more loved. By speaking in my mind’s voice to someone I invented. I actually felt a little sad when I put her back in the toybox of imagination.

    Just to make sure I hadn’t accidentally chosen a real goddess who’s been waiting in the wings, (Look Zeus, someone’s praying to me!), I tried a few more traditional deities. Thor, Jesus, and Joe Pesci. It always worked, even when I didn’t bother with a name and just talked to myself in a reverent tone.

    I have three possibilities here, but let me know if you see more.
    1) The supernatural world doesn’t care about names or mythologies.
    2) We have some psychological gizmo that gives us warm-fuzzies when we talk to imaginary friends.
    3) I am batshit insane. ;)

    Anyways, give it a try sometime. Just make something up and pray to it. Or hell, try a pencil or something. Who knows. Just let me know if you get absolutely nothing, seriously if I like really need therapy or such I’d better start right away.

  179. #179 woozy
    June 3, 2008

    “Every law requires a law-maker”

    I’ve absolute have never understood why so many seriously consider the “First Cause” argument as a proof of the existance of God than are persuaded as the unnescessariness of God. “Who made God” is such an obvious refutation. “First Cause” is such an obviously self-contradicting paradox (much as “the edges of the infinite” is) that it obviously requires some thought. Tossing in a super-uber-gizmo to patch the initial first cause is obviously not a satisfying answer any more than putting up a fence around infinity and saying “Okay, after *this* point there isn’t anything”.

    Not that that’s a proof against or a counter-example of anything. You can’t bootstrap something from a foundation of nothing. It just doesn’t work.

  180. #180 Brownian, OM
    June 3, 2008

    Continuing in a similar vein as earlier posts, we can conclude that even Tingley doesn’t believe his own bullshit. If he was truly skeptical and open in the way he claims to be, then he’d be spending nearly every waking moment studying the claims for the existence of Dievas; Au?rin?; Dalia; Gabija; Laima; M?nuo; Perk?nas; Saul?; A?vieniai; Vakarin?; Vytautus; ?emyna; the Deiv?s Valdytojos: Verpian?ioji, Metan?ioji, Aud?ja, Gadintoja, Serg?toja, Nukirp?ja, and I?skalb?ja; the ?vaig?d?s: besides Au?rin? and Vakarin?/Vakar?, these also include Indraja, S?lija, ?iezdr?, and Vaivora. And what about E?erinis; Upinis; Au?taras; Bangp?tys; Javin?; Jievaras; Kupol?; and the Lauk? dvasios: Nuogalis, Ki?kis, Me?ka, Lap?, Katinas, Bubis, Bubas, Bub?, Baubas, Babau?is, Bobas, Maumas, Raudongalvis, Raudongerklis, ?aliaakis, Papl??takis, Guda, Dizikas, Smauglys, Ruginis, Papiok?, Pypalas, ?ebris, Arklys, and Vilkas? And since he cannot say with any certainty that Kaukas, Laum?, and Nyk?tukas don’t live in his garden, then why isn’t he mobilising his heart to search for them? And no doubt any reasonable theist skeptic like Tingley would be on the lookout for Aitvaras, Baubas, Giltin?, Ragana, Slogutis, Velnias, ?iburinis, or the Maro deiv?s like Diedievait? (though she’s not been seen since the 14th century.) Perhaps when he dies, he’ll become one of the V?l?: can any say with certainty he won’t?

    If these names aren’t easily rolling off your tongue with familiarity, then you have no business asking anyone else to keep an open mind about your god.

  181. #181 Morgan-LynnGriggs Lamberth
    June 3, 2008

    This is the first time I’ve heard of this fool. Platinga with his warrant that God is a basic belief,Alister McGrath in his shallow comments on atheism and Dawkins , John Hick, who indeed shows that natural theology is nonsense but guesses about the future state and haughty John F.Haught, who chides us naturalists not for accepting faith, the I just say so of credulity in not accpeting that there are other venues of knowledge when the fool has not shown any are four more!
    Folks, P.Z. ‘S downright put down of theism is in place.Eugenie C. Scott can bray all she wants that creationists can have their god and evoution ,too, but the weight of evidence, as Paul Draper and Steven Schafersman so note, is that science indeed does not show any teleology- no pre-determined plans and thus probaly no agent with such plans. So, theistic evolution is moonshine!
    Natural selection, without Super Boss. makes new organisms. I t is not as though selection were some mere instrument that teleological God uses: selection contradicts with its non-purposefullness!
    This is the atelic argument , which with Hume’s atelic one that organisms show bad design if there were design, that there are no designs but patterns in nature.
    P.Z., thanks for calling rubbish rubbish!

  182. #182 CJO
    June 3, 2008

    Pfffft. I wrote “nasal gazing” LOL

    I almost like it better.

  183. #183 Morgan-LynnGriggs Lamberth
    June 3, 2008

    This is the first time I’ve heard of this fool. Platinga with his warrant that God is a basic belief,Alister McGrath in his shallow comments on atheism and Dawkins , John Hick, who indeed shows that natural theology is nonsense but guesses about the future state and haughty John F.Haught, who chides us naturalists not for accepting faith, the I just say so of credulity in not accpeting that there are other venues of knowledge when the fool has not shown any are four more!
    Folks, P.Z. ‘S downright put down of theism is in place.Eugenie C. Scott can bray all she wants that creationists can have their god and evoution ,too, but the weight of evidence, as Paul Draper and Steven Schafersman so note, is that science indeed does not show any teleology- no pre-determined plans and thus probaly no agent with such plans. So, theistic evolution is moonshine!
    Natural selection, without Super Boss. makes new organisms. I t is not as though selection were some mere instrument that teleological God uses: selection contradicts with its non-purposefullness!
    This is the atelic argument , which with Hume’s atelic one that organisms show bad design if there were design, that there are no designs but patterns in nature.
    P.Z., thanks for calling rubbish rubbish!
    Let the fools answer Jordan Howard Sobel [ "Logic and Theism] and Graham Oppy [ 'Arguments about Gods"]! These two and many others more than answer their lame arguments. Prometheus [ Paul Kurtz] publishes so many naturalist/atheist books.These faith-heads hace the temerity to chide us for not following thier stupidity!

  184. #184 Brownian, OM
    June 3, 2008

    Leo, that was awesome. Anyone who thinks you’re silly for praying to Sheevah is just closed-minded and illogical (and in all probability, a very sad and cold individual with no moral compass).

    After all, all heat requires a heat source; isn’t the fact that the temperature of the universe is not 0 K obvious proof of the existence of the Goddess of Warmth?

  185. #185 ndt
    June 3, 2008

    If I can be permitted to beat the “every law has a lawmaker” dead horse …

    No human lawmaker is capable of making laws anything like the laws of nature. The laws of nature need no enforcement because it is impossible to break them. A comet falling towards the sun cannot decide to rebel and go in another direction. A prism cannot become a criminal and split light into red, yellow, indigo, green, orange, and blue (in that order).

    Laws designed by intelligent humans can be broken. The “laws” of nature cannot. There is no reason to infer a similarity between a human writing laws and whatever lies behind the laws of nature (if anything); their products are in no way similar.

  186. #186 Brownian, OM
    June 3, 2008

    Further to Leo’s post #178, anybody wanna buy a “There are no aSheevahists during a blizzard!” bumper sticker?

  187. #187 T. Bruce McNeely
    June 3, 2008

    To Brenda:

    When I hear the word “scientism”, I reach for my gun.

  188. #188 Dennis N
    June 3, 2008

    Brownian wins the thread with that one.

  189. #189 Leo Tarvi
    June 3, 2008

    Of course not, during a blizzard is the best time to have a warm goddess!

  190. #190 Morgan-LynnGriggs Lamberth
    June 3, 2008

    Sorry for the typos! I post the world over under skeptic griggsy and skepticgriggsy; Google that to see that we naturalists do indeed make mince meat of those fool’s rubbish. accepting, have

  191. #191 heliobates
    June 3, 2008

    @162, Brenda jumps the shark:

    be taken literally we can complete that metaphor.

    … and continues on it’s journey suspended over the nothingness of being.

    Wow, that your invented metaphor should align so precisely with your preconceptions! Who needs empiricism or intellectual rigour? This just feels so right it has to be true.

  192. #192 jianying
    June 3, 2008

    I think the kind of religion that an atheist might at least find palatable, speaking as one myself, is the kind that Archimedes, or at least his father, believed. It is a Greek religion that emphasized the primacy of the mind. In fact Archimedes’s name means ‘the first mind’, which is an allusion to this idea of god.

    So I suppose in that religion to not to use one’s mind would be the greatest heresy.

  193. #193 woozy
    June 3, 2008

    1) The supernatural world doesn’t care about names or mythologies.

    I think most apologists would go with this “Whatever good is done in the name of Tash is done for Aslan, and whatever evil is done in the name of Aslan is done for Tash”. And they’d feel *magnamous* in this.

    The supernatural world doesn’t care about names or mythologies. When the Hindu prays to Vishnu or the American Indian to the great spirit they are both really praying to Jehovah and Jehovah is cool with that… except when he’s not.

  194. #194 Morgan-LynnGriggs Lamberth
    June 3, 2008

    fools’ I forgot that this site does not permit editing.

  195. #195 Morgan-LynnGriggs Lamberth
    June 3, 2008

    I overlooked the fools Paul Tillich and Francisco Jose Ayala[ Praise him and the other theistic evolutionists who fight against special creationism], who bray that we all have angst that only God can relieve. Rubbish! Get counseling ,poor fools! This Sally Field one life, human love and our own purposes suffice; we do not need a future state, divine love and purpose.

  196. #196 Nick Gotts
    June 3, 2008

    The phallocentric logos inhering in the scientistic grand narrative. – MAJeff OM

    Hey, I’d like one of them, what colours do they come in?

    OT: hang in there with the thesis!

  197. #197 dubiquiabs
    June 3, 2008

    Mr. Tingley verbosely reinforces a point made much more pithily by Dr. Dawkins:

    “We who doubt that “theology” is a subject at all, or who compare it with the study of leprechauns, are eagerly hoping to be proved wrong. Of course, university departments of theology house many excellent scholars of history, linguistics, literature, ecclesiastical art and music, archaeology, psychology, anthropology, sociology, iconology, and other worthwhile and important subjects. These academics would be welcomed into appropriate departments elsewhere in the university. But as for theology itself, defined as “the organised body of knowledge dealing with the nature, attributes, and governance of God”, a positive case now needs to be made that it has any real content at all, and that it has any place in today’s universities.”
    http://richarddawkins.net/article,1698,n,n

  198. #198 MandyDax
    June 3, 2008

    WARNING: Keep away from open flame. Strawman arguments are highly flammable.

    He almost had me for a while. I have a text-to-speech addon for my browser reading Tingley’s article to me while I work, and it’s almost hypnotic. I was watching more of the Darren Brown videos last night, so I recognized that his is an argument via repetition, an attempt to use suggestion to make the reader believe his point.

    His argument also doesn’t suggest that any god or gods would be any more provable or even likely than another, so I really do wonder why he hasn’t sought the FSM with the reason of his heart. What could be a better example of a Deus absconditus than a god that wasn’t even an idea in the minds of men until the last few years, unless it’s a god that hasn’t even been dreamt of yet?

  199. #199 Eleanor (undeadgoat)
    June 3, 2008

    Well I don’t have time to read through all 185 comments and fully participate in the discussion, because I am woefully behind on my homework and finals are next week (!), but we were just doing Kierkegaard in my philosophy class, and this is strongly reminiscent of his stuff, but without the piles and piles of obfuscation. But I remain firm in my belief that asserting God is beyond my reason is The Cheater Way Out.

  200. #200 Lurky
    June 3, 2008

    Starbuck said:

    And as for watch the big kids play… That is a stupid metaphor and an even lousier insult.

    But I will leave you all alone and I will go back to lurking. Good Luck eh!

    @#144
    There must be an Internet Law for this that I have somehow missed in my travels, for this pattern happened extensively on the Expelled blogs. I am not sure whether it is mostly the province of the clash of skeptics and believers, but it is certainly well-evidenced there.

    What do you call it, when out of all the various replies one receives, one responds only to the most insulting or crass, ignores every last one of the substantive replies, and alternately starts all over again, or takes the ball and goes home?

    Spot on. That really does need a law of it’s own -you see it all the time here and on richarddawkins.net.

  201. #201 Brenda von Ahsen
    June 3, 2008

    SC
    Well, we’re certainly in neurological territory. The human “heart,” however fuzzily you define it, is material – a biological product of evolution.

    Why don’t you go over to NeuroLogica and try to sell your argument there?:

    The unconscious has been experimentally shown to exist but it is hardly “material”. Though I agree that it is the product of evolution. So what about the psychological concept of repression? OH! Lookie lookie what have we here? Repressing Memories.

    “It turns out that the ability to repress emotionally negative memories is likely a normal and adaptive behavior (at least for some, if not most people). Now neuroscientists have been able to catch the brain in the act”

    What were you saying?

    Dennis
    “unconscious irrational motivations for their disbelief”

    Disbelief in fanciful ideas is irrational? The default position for anything is disbelief. Evidence convinces a person to believe in something.

    No, try again. The unconscious motivations are irrational, the beliefs themselves may (or may not) be rational. But I suspect this will throw you for a tizzy. I suggest deep breathing, try to relax.

    Vic
    You are really stupid if you think we don’t know what you are TRYING to say. The ‘heart’ you mean here is not the blood pump but rather the seat of emotion, irrationality, and everything else you mean that lets you carve out whatever intellectual space you need to believe in ‘god’.

    Then why did it take 125 comments and my pointing it out to get there? I was unaware that emotions had buttocks on which to sit. Sounds like more BS to me. The unconscious however, really does exist and it really does influence our behavior. “Emotions” on the other hands are not “things”, they are just behaviors. I’m discussing the unconscious, not emotions. And to repeat myself (because people here apparently cannot read) Tingley gets it wrong when he attempts to make knowledge claims based on unconscious desires. That is his point not mine, and I’ve already said as much.

    CJO
    you invoke Freud to give your nasal-gazing banality some veneer of intellectual depth. Pathetic. Freud is utterly, completely irrelevant to the modern fields of Cognitive Science and Neuroscience.

    Modern psychoanalytic theory has moved far beyond Freud and is in fact experiencing a resurgence. Of course it’s irrelevant to cognition and neurology. Those study something else entirely.

    windy
    You appear to be utterly unable to comprehend sarcasm.

    Yeah, who wouldda thunk that sarcasm might be misunderstood on the internet? Even now as I scroll up I do not see the sarcasm. I see assholes being assholes. You know what you all remind me of? Fanboys.

    PPS. Feel free to drop in on the previous thread to defend your claim that I’m a poo-flinging monkey who lacks integrity. Coward.

    I can’t be everywhere. PZ Meyers claims in that thread that he has the right to form judgments about Christians based on their worst behavior. If that is true then I and anyone else gets to do the same to you. Oh! What is that? Does it burn? The horror! Someone applied my own methods to me! How can this be?!?!?

    If you’re going to be an ass then be one and accept the consequences. If not then grow the fuck up.

  202. #202 windy
    June 3, 2008

    I can’t be everywhere. PZ Meyers claims in that thread that he has the right to form judgments about Christians based on their worst behavior. If that is true then I and anyone else gets to do the same to you. Oh! What is that? Does it burn? The horror! Someone applied my own methods to me! How can this be?!?!?

    Never mind what PZ claims. You said that all but Walton lack integrity and fling poo in that thread. Please, “apply my methods to me” and address the issue. Or tell me where I flung poo in that thread and I’ll apologise for it.

  203. #203 Matt
    June 3, 2008

    Alright, since I made a joke aimed at a literal interpretation of “heart”, I feel, for Brenda’s sake, that I have to clarify…

    START SARCASTIC RESPONSE NOW–You mean he didn’t literally mean the heart as in the blood pumping organ? Wow, thanks for pointing that out. I really am stupid for not getting that.–END SARCASTIC RESPONSE.

    Yes, we all get what this guy means by “heart”. As others have said, though, it’s stupid and worthy of mockery. Get a clue.

  204. #204 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    June 3, 2008

    @ windy:

    What would we say to the pre-Darwinian who did not believe that biodiversity could be explained? (“It all had to be put here,” he insisted. “There is no material evidence for a mechanism of biodiversity.”) Was natural selection material evidence?

    No, there is material evidence for natural selection. Thanks for playing.

    I think he gave his pompous ass up for a whopping when he didn’t realize that scientists are constantly reevaluating facts and theories by adhering to religionist belief in Truth?:

    Science is a virtue: a perfection of the human creature gifted with a mind, a use of the mind that, says Aquinas, “perfects the speculative intellect for the consideration of truth.” But to be “men of truth,” in the words of Exodus, is to be vulnerable to truth.

    But in fact he yielded the game completely here. He also wrote:

    It is a bad scientist who says that metal is not crystalline when the fact is that there is no microscope fit to show its structure (the light microscope being deficient).

    Of course you can trivially use TEM or AFM to observe atomic structure. Tingley is as ignorant on science as on skepticism and atheism.

    But there are also quite a few ways of detecting amorphous metals without a microscope:

    - Relative resistance to corrosion and wear.
    - Relative ductility.
    - Relative tensile strength.
    - Relative thermal conductivity.
    - Electrical resistivity low temperature behavior (very drastic difference, linear vs nonlinear for crystalline metals).

    I’m pretty sure one can look at electric, magnetic and phonon room temperature behavior and confidently state which metal bit is metallic and which is amorphous. But somehow I get the feeling Tingley doesn’t even know that one can produce amorphous metals by cooling (or some specific alloying, but when you give up the comparison).

  205. #205 Morgan-LynnGriggs Lamberth
    June 3, 2008

    Brenda, you are what you say we are. You just have faith, the I just say so of gullibility. You use pareidolia to see God [ pareidolia- like seeing Yeshua in a tortilla.].
    Yeshua states that if one calls others fools and such, one is in dread of Hell but he does that and more! Then there is the fool who says that the fool saith there is no god.
    The contradictions of the Buy-bull and the rationalizations of the fools who try to reconcile them! Selah.

  206. #206 CJO
    June 3, 2008

    Brenda tries to get her story straight. Notice how that’s easier if you just tell the truth as best you can and let reality be the judge.

    So what about the psychological concept of repression? OH! Lookie lookie what have we here? Repressing Memories.

    “It turns out that the ability to repress emotionally negative memories is likely a normal and adaptive behavior (at least for some, if not most people). Now neuroscientists have been able to catch the brain in the act”

    What were you saying?

    Modern psychoanalytic theory has moved far beyond Freud and is in fact experiencing a resurgence. Of course it’s irrelevant to cognition and neurology. Those study something else entirely.

    What were you saying? We are on Freud’s territory, or we’re beyond it? The “unconscious” is being studied by neurologists, or neurology studies something else entirely?

  207. #207 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    June 3, 2008

    Actually, rereading Tingley, I could have been all to nice. He is probably suggesting that we need optical microscopes to detect crystals, as in the usual creationist “where you there” fallacy.

    Never underestimate the level of ignorance that people can display. Or at least, that is what I think Brenda is trying to tell us.

    So, um, evidence for crystals without (optical) microscopes … Optical, electrical, magnetic behavior, phonon behavior, neutron scattering, … the list goes on and on.

  208. #208 Jase
    June 3, 2008

    /Modern psychoanalytic theory has moved far beyond Freud and is in fact experiencing a resurgence./ (YOU brought up Freud)
    /Boys and girls, we are in Freudian territory here. A land you know absolutely nothing about./

    Clear as mud, Brenda. You’re a troll.

    /If you’re going to be an ass then be one and accept the consequences. If not then grow the fuck up?/

    Back at ya, babe.

  209. #209 Owlmirror
    June 3, 2008

    Serendipitously enough, today’s New York Times has a piece on the neurobiology of sarcasm, and the inability to perceive same.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/03/health/research/03sarc.html

    Heh.

  210. #210 SC
    June 3, 2008

    Brenda,

    I generally give people the benefit of the doubt here, and really look for logic and substance in their comments before I dismiss them, even if my initial impression is negative. But you, to be honest, pose something of a challenge. I still haven’t the slightest clue what you meant by this (from a recent thread):

    What does interest me are questions surrounding the reality of the virtual. Real effects produced by something which does not yet fully exist. Something which is not yet fully actual. If you want to call that religion or spirituality (it is probably closer to psychology) I guess I don’t care. It is crucial to an understanding of what is going on today, of how we fit into the world of today. And understanding is always good.

    What you say above makes equally little sense. And did you actually read the post you linked to above? Or did you just search for the name “Freud,” find it, and think “Gotcha!”?

  211. #211 raven
    June 3, 2008

    starbucks Making Things Up:

    There is no common ground here. This is an arguement that you will never solve. You can’t convince a Christian to turn his back on God. (Atleast not very many anyways.)
    However, there have been many athiests who converted to Christianity.

    Nonsense. Happens all the time. Most denominations are stable at best or bleeding members in the USA. In western Europe it is even worse. Xians convert to other religions such as Moslem, Buddhist, Scientologist, and even Jewish as well as going apathetic, agnostic, or atheist.

    It is not uncommon for ministers, biblical scholars, or theologians to end up atheists. Who knows, maybe they think too much.

    The great atheist makers today are humanoid toads like Robertson, Falwell, Hagee, Haggard, Dobson, Hinn etc.. Dawkins et al. are just riding their bow wave. If xian becomes synonymous with ignorant, lying, violent, stupid, and sometimes murderous, why would anyone want to be one?

  212. #212 windy
    June 3, 2008

    Torbjörn, I think Tingley might be talking about the past. The appropriate measuring devices didn’t exist, and then some mean fictional scientists denied that there was anything to discover.

    Of course he ignores that the concept of God would have to be falsifiable, for this search for an “instrument” to find God to make any sense.

  213. #213 Dennis N
    June 3, 2008

    So tell me Brenda, what is my unconscious motivation for not assuming a God and what is irrational about it? Whats irrational with taking the default position? For not assuming something without evidence? No tizzy here. I’ve never called you names or disrespected you aside from calling you out when you claimed someone was ignorant without proof. This may surprise you, but calling people ignorant and immature does not make them so. Are you projecting? It was you who popped in a day or two ago and proceeded to tell everyone they are assholes and fanboys and ignorant, and generally being condescending without warrant. Good first impression. You have not impressed us with your intellect. You have not shown yourself to be an expert in any area. No one turns to you for your opinion on matters. You have failed to earn our respect. You are the one who needs to try again.

  214. #214 khan
    June 3, 2008

    Red Skelton had a comedy routine where he replaced the word ‘heart’ with ‘pump’ (the heart is a pump) in several clichéd phrases:

    “I love you with all my pump.”

    “You cad, you broke my daughter’s pump.”

  215. #215 Dennis N
    June 3, 2008

    Just so I’m clear, it isn’t necessary for you to be an expert or knowledgeable to post here and be respected. But it is necessary if you want to go around telling people that they know nothing about a topic and acting as if you have knowledge we couldn’t possibly have too.

  216. #216 Kseniya
    June 3, 2008

    Tingley didn’t literally mean the heart?!

    OMG!

  217. #217 Kseniya
    June 3, 2008

    *sniff*

    Hey.

    What’s that smell?

    Does anyone else smell that?

  218. #218 SC
    June 3, 2008

    Essentially, throw-pillow theology.

  219. #219 Kel
    June 3, 2008

    Of course atheists misinterpret Pascal. Pascal intended his argument for God to be bulletproof (well arrowproof), yet atheists keep shooting holes in it. So how can they see it the way Pascal indended?!? It’s just logic that if Pascal intended the wager to be perfect, it must be perfect. You stupid atheists just can’t see it…

    :P

  220. #220 Janine ID
    June 3, 2008

    *sniff*

    Hey.

    What’s that smell?

    Does anyone else smell that?

    Posted by: Kseniya

    Bash in my brain,
    And make me scream with pain,
    Then kick me once again,
    And say well never part.
    I know too well
    I’m underneath your spell,
    So, darling, if you smell
    Something burning, its my heart.
    Excuse me!

  221. #221 Kseniya
    June 3, 2008

    No, seriously… I recognize that smell, but I can’t put my finger on it… dang.

  222. #222 Pimientita
    June 3, 2008

    @Leo Tarvi #178

    Funny, I was also raised without religion, but I became utterly fascinated with the concept of a “Mother Goddess” when I was about 10 or 11 and I decided to try praying to the concept I had created in my head (I even made up a “special, sacred” language to pray in) and I got the same kind of “warm-fuzzies” when I did so. All I had to go on were a few books/articles I had read about the supposed “fertility cults” of pre-Christian Europe and pictures of the little statues found by archaeologists, but I tried it and it worked…well, in the sense that it made me feel all gooey inside.

    I abandoned all of that a short time later and settled down my current path of wanton destruction and baby-eating :)

    This may not be any comfort to you because it could mean that we’re both frackin nuts, but I find it interesting.

  223. #223 Kel
    June 3, 2008

    100% with you PZ on those who complain about taking down weak arguments while not providing strong ones. My conclusion is there is no strong argument, and even the ones that appear logically sound (note the word appear) the word God could be replaced with Odin, Brahman, FSM or simply the unknown. It’s an exercise in stretching the definition of God to encompass the logic, and then concluding from there that it proves that Jesus rose on the 3rd day.

    @Christians reading this: I would love to be shown otherwise. I have no problem with believing in anything provided there is evidence to do so. But you must understand that I take an inherent scepticism to every facet of belief so if the argument is poor and I shoot it down, it’s not that I want to believe God doesn’t exist, it’s because the argument is poor. So if you feel you have a strong argument, bring it. If not, quit complaining that athiests go after weak arguments.

  224. #224 Brenda von Ahsen
    June 3, 2008

    windy
    Never mind what PZ claims. You said that all but Walton lack integrity and fling poo in that thread. Please, “apply my methods to me” and address the issue. Or tell me where I flung poo in that thread and I’ll apologise for it.

    But I don’t have to. I look at the worst among you and apply that to you because that is how you treat everyone else. Why is that such a problem? Why is it not ok to treat you as all of you have treated others? PZ was very clear. He said it is ok to judge every Christian based on the behavior of the worst of them. Are you calling PZ Meyers a hypocrite? ‘Cause I sure am.

    SC
    Real effects produced by something which does not yet fully exist. Something which is not yet fully actual.

    That is the definition of the virtual. Something which although it does not yet fully exist that can none the less effect real changes in our conscious mind. This is the language of the unconscious, I am not making a supernatural claim. It is a structuralist concept. I hesitate to even mention modern philosophy because I see no intellectual maturity here at all.

    You all act like children and when he is not being a biologist that includes PZ Meyers too. You’re spoiled, arrogant asshats who cannot treat anyone who disagrees with you with even a modicum of respect. You disgust me.

    By continuing to behave collectively in such a childish manner all you are doing is undermining your own cause. And that is really sad. I’m a non-believer, a skeptic. I believe in evolution, the strong version. I believe climate change is a serious problem. I’m on the democratic-socialist end of the political spectrum and even I can’t stomach the likes of you people. I’m sorry that I get angry and I’m sorry that I curse but jesus fucking christ on a cracker please just grow the fuck up already ok?

  225. #225 Ichthyic
    June 3, 2008

    As The Kenny fades into the sunset…

    we get The Brenda to replace him.

    well, at lest she has a different spiel.

    …and she doesn’t appear to be overly fond of NDE’s.

  226. #226 windy
    June 3, 2008

    But I don’t have to. I look at the worst among you and apply that to you because that is how you treat everyone else. Why is that such a problem? Why is it not ok to treat you as all of you have treated others? PZ was very clear. He said it is ok to judge every Christian based on the behavior of the worst of them. Are you calling PZ Meyers a hypocrite? ‘Cause I sure am.

    As I said in the other thread, PZ says he judges an idea (Christianity) based on how the majority of adherents behave, not worst instances of behaviour. You misrepresent what PZ said and proceed to judge people based on group membership. Fail again!

  227. #227 Osmium
    June 3, 2008

    @Vic–yeah, it’s me.

  228. #228 Neil B.
    June 3, 2008

    But PZ, you have heard the strong (relatively speaking) arguments here, like the ones about why is there something like this and not otherwise in the context of pure logical possibility, what ought to exist as default given, etc;, all the sort of stuff that people like Aristotle and Plato talked about (which isn’t even “religion” anyway.) You just don’t engage them, much at least.

  229. #229 windy
    June 3, 2008

    I believe in evolution, the strong version.

    It’s a theory, not a breath mint.

  230. #230 Cygnus Tygger
    June 3, 2008

    Bash in my brain,
    And make me scream with pain,
    Then kick me once again,
    And say well never part.
    I know too well
    I’m underneath your spell,
    So, darling, if you smell
    Something burning, its my heart.

    Ah,

    that I missed her impressed her young sister named Esther. To pester this mister, she tried. Now a pestering sister’s a festering blister; “Tis best to resist her” says I. The mister resisted; the sister persisted. I kissed her & all loyalty slipped. Whe she said I could have her, her sister’s cadaver must surely have turned in her crypt.

    Ah, brings back memories… I can feel the pain yet every time I hear drums.

  231. #231 SC
    June 3, 2008

    You disgust me.

    Y’know, when I was first learning Spanish, I used to watch a telenovela called Isabella:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_FjTiExizy8

    It seemed at the time like the height of melodrama. After what I’ve seen here today, though, I may have to relegate it to second place.

  232. #232 Steve_C
    June 3, 2008

    Brenda,

    It’s Myers.

  233. #233 heliobates
    June 3, 2008

    @228

    But PZ, you have heard the strong (relatively speaking) arguments here

    You keep using that word. I don’t think it means what you think it means.

    …like the ones about why is there something like this and not otherwise in the context of pure logical possibility, what ought to exist as default given, etc…

    See what I mean?

  234. #234 Dennis N
    June 3, 2008

    Brenda, if you don’t like us (the feeling is mutual), then leave instead of trolling this site.

  235. #235 windy
    June 3, 2008

    Brenda:

    But I don’t have to. I look at the worst among you and apply that to you because that is how you treat everyone else

    You all act like children and when he is not being a biologist that includes PZ Meyers too. You’re spoiled, arrogant asshats who cannot treat anyone who disagrees with you with even a modicum of respect. You disgust me.

    You can’t say that you get to act childish because everyone else does, and simultaneously claim the moral high ground. Unless you want to look very silly. HTH

  236. #236 Neil B.
    June 3, 2008

    heliobates, I suppose you mean that arguments of that speculative sort aren’t “strong” in principle. Well, here’s something to think about: if logic is using principles to prove a point, then with what sort of inner intuition (maybe that’s an improvement on “heart” as “emotions”) do we see the axioms, the platonic structure of math and numbers, etc, to get off the ground with? You don’t really think we just guess at them and really expect they might turn out empirically to be wrong, do you? With what do we judge the very idea that arguments “should” involve what we can observe, etc? Do you believe in “falsifiability” because that is something itself (not what it is applied to) observed in a laboratory experiment?

    Try to falsify this: “Things continue to exist even while not being observed.” Or, “Things really existed years ago, and what we see isn’t just a seeming evidence of actual events of the past” etc. (The latter is actually very hard to get a handle on, if the critique of “real time” and promotion of the “block universe” is accepted – why not a “block” just existing that just doesn’t have “events” before a certain date of cosmic time? If you don’t have some a priori notion of “what ought to exist” – do you? – it is very hard to say what should or shouldn’t be the case.

    BTW, one of the most pitiful presentations I heard here on another thread, was from commenters (you know who you are) who denied consciousness itself, the very epistemic ground from which we could infer anything else (well, they’d say they weren’t, but it was clear they were.) Tell me, do you at least accept our sense-data as a ground from which we must infer the rest of the world (formally, to hell with what ordinary-language dolts think ordinary people do), or are you a pitiful naive realist? Just wondering.

  237. #237 Kel
    June 3, 2008

    @Brenda

    You all act like children and when he is not being a biologist that includes PZ Meyers too. You’re spoiled, arrogant asshats who cannot treat anyone who disagrees with you with even a modicum of respect. You disgust me.

    The kettle called, it said “No, you’re the one who is black”

  238. #238 eewolf
    June 3, 2008

    Brenda: Then why did it take 125 comments and my pointing it out to get there?

    It took you 125 comments to get there. Everyone else is up ahead, step to it.

  239. #239 Etha Williams
    June 3, 2008

    @# 201 Brenda von Ahsen –

    The unconscious has been experimentally shown to exist but it is hardly “material”. Though I agree that it is the product of evolution. So what about the psychological concept of repression? OH! Lookie lookie what have we here? Repressing Memories.

    “It turns out that the ability to repress emotionally negative memories is likely a normal and adaptive behavior (at least for some, if not most people). Now neuroscientists have been able to catch the brain in the act”

    WTF?! First you say the unconscious isn’t material. Then you say it’s the product of evolution. This two statements are in and of themselves rather contradictory since evolution acts via DNA, which is quite plainly material (and which encodes the information necessary for protein production, also a clearly material thing). How could evolution then produce something non-material?

    You then go on to utterly contradict yourself in the second paragraph, quoting a source that claims that the Freudian unconscious has been identified in the brain. The brain is physical, ergo….

    Either you haven’t a clear idea of what you’re trying to say or you’re a remarkably poor writer (or both; the two do often seem to go hand in hand).

  240. #240 efrique
    June 3, 2008

    Grnnhn… GAhhhH! (Struggles not to pop a blood vessel at teh stupid)

    I wrote recently on the topic of thinking with the wrong organ. Permit me to quote some of it:

    I often hear people say stuff like “I just know. I feel it in my gut.

    I have come to the conclusion that this is code for something like “I have no idea, but I really want this to be true.”

    Sometimes the feeling is in another organ not traditionally associated with thought, like the heart, or the liver. Or sometimes, it’s the mysterious “I feel it in my waters,” wherever the hell they are.

    Hearing this is an indication that the speaker is not in the possession of any facts.

    I find myself unimpressed by how strongly someone can believe something with no evidence. Stronger belief (“I really feel it to be true”) in the absence of evidence is, if anything, an indication of stronger willingness to fool yourself. That’s hardly compelling. I am not sure we should be convinced by how deeply gullible someone is willing to admit to being.

    I recommend thinking with the organ that is best fitted to the task. Use your brain. Give it some data. Examine the evidence and think about it. With your brain. You might even find out something about a little thing I like to call “reality”.

    The “gut feeling”/”I just know” shtick tends to come at the end of an argument (generally an argument the “I just know”-person started, what’s more), right about the point they realize that everything that they initially stated as if it were unquestionably true has been shown to be wrong, or at best irrelevant to whatever they were trying to argue for.

    It comes at this point because it’s the ultimate safe argument, since you can hardly argue with “feelings”, but it’s also the ultimate contentless argument – it’s an admission that they have no actual grounds for their position at all. How do we know? Because if they did, then we’d be discussing the grounds, not their mysterious “feelings”.

    {It then continues on about the double-impact of being certain in the absence of evidence purely on the basis of what you feel. And ends with a little whimsical doggerel:}

    Sure as crap rolls downhill,
    it will come to pass -
    if you think with your gut,
    you’ll talk out your ass.

  241. #241 JCF
    June 3, 2008

    Pablo, that is an awesome argument to use against theists. Just tell them, it’s a sin to believe in God if he exists. LOL.

  242. #242 jase
    June 3, 2008

    ” I don’t believe in god, I’m a non-christian, a skeptic and therefore an atheist in the old sense. I’m just not a member of your cult of scientism.”
    You intuit atheism without any scientific basis? You’re either an agnostic inflating yourself to atheism to gain credibility or you’re a theist in nontheist clothing.

    “Tingley’s criticism of atheism as un-serious and dishonest skepticism strikes me as valid.”
    How so, unless you aren’t an atheist?

    “When the young woman became an atheist she rejected her mother and cut herself off from her mother’s all enveloping love. Symbolized by the “inner hug”. Young women have to do this BTW, otherwise mom’s love becomes suffocating and you become enmeshed. Which can threaten the very existence of the ego.
    Brown was able somehow, I’ve no idea how he did it, to bridge that psychic interpersonal gap and help her to connect her ego with her repressed image of her mother. But she didn’t actually renounce her atheism so much as simply allow herself to accept her mother’s love for her. Something she had apparently denied herself for a long time. Once that was done her atheism softened and was less rigid and inflexible.
    All this goes to show that the structure of your scientism is not fundamentally different than any other belief system ”

    WTF? The anecdotal and embarassingly sentimental tripe you offer as evidence is worthless. AND for what it’s worth – a less rigid atheist is an agnostic. Your woo is pop psychology (and badly interpretted at that). You’re a fraud and a troll and it doesn’t matter what sex you are, go sell it somewhere else.

  243. #243 windy
    June 3, 2008

    BTW, one of the most pitiful presentations I heard here on another thread, was from commenters (you know who you are) who denied consciousness itself, the very epistemic ground from which we could infer anything else (well, they’d say they weren’t, but it was clear they were.)

    Oh, for crying out loud. I guess we are in for more “Victorian” discourse from the gentleman in the Nudge Nudge sketch. They’d say they weren’t, but they really were! Know whatahmean, know whatahmean, nudge nudge, know whatahmean, say no more!

  244. #244 heliobates
    June 3, 2008

    @ 236
    I don’t have to a priori assume anything, such as temporal persistence/block universality… I am a posteriori justified in presuming that it’s reasonable that the universe operates approximately the way our scientific models say that it does, because evidence to the contrary has not survived scrutiny. Yanno, induction.

    Falsifiability is only applicable to testable propositions. Parsimony is also a useful tool when trying to understand what’s going on around us. We can’t devise a direct test to establish that things that seem to have been around for a long time have in fact been around that time, but we have plenty of indirect evidence: isochronal radiometry, WMAP, rates of sea floor spreading, the apparent speed of light in a vacuum… plus the inconvenient fact that we cannot observe objects at the supra-atomic level suddenly materializing from “nothing”, looking as though they’d been here all along.

    Scientific materialism doesn’t need certainty to be a better bet than the alternatives.

    As for my senses: I’d be an idiot to trust them completely. I’ve personally experienced apophenia, hallucinations, constrained thinking due to confirmation bias, and memory as recreation rather than as recall. I’d much rather trust the collective efforts of tens of thousands who use explicit methods and test predictions in well-documented, repeatable ways and so approximate empirical “truth”.

    Tell me, which species of metaphysics can equal that quantity and scale of accomplishment?

    Time to stop dancing with your hand on my ass and make your move, Neil. How do any of the “connundrums” you’ve raised allow you to bootstrap the supernatural?

  245. #245 BionicHips
    June 3, 2008

    I have no clue as to how anybody actually read ET. I tried – I really tried – and got 1/3 the way through and realized he still had not said anything. I gave up.

  246. #246 windy
    June 3, 2008

    Heliobates – for the futility that is Neil, check out this legendary thread from a forgotten time, a time when long lost heroes like truth machine roamed the blog. Here is my favorite of the killer arguments for God:

    …maybe “God” which by philosophical definition, not per most religious believers (why should the least capable proponents tone the debate?) just means something/one that is the necessary being that all others are contingent on for existence and presumably their properties as well. If it contains purposive traits, then our universe is like it is so we or etc. can be here, because a bunch of dead stuff is just dumb.

    (sorry for rehashing this junk, but maybe this saves you 700 comments or so of trying to extract the arguments.)

  247. #247 Neil B.
    June 3, 2008

    Heliobates, you missed a lot of my point, but it’s been made by Bertrand Russell et al. If we don’t have the direct confirmation, then the existence of the past is supposed to be “meaningless” in principle. Talking about the universe working the way science says things works is a red herring because that can be interpreted as just an algorithm about appearances. It means you don’t understand the fundamental logical issues involved. I myself don’t believe in that sort of hard core positivism, I was making fun of it as a reductio.

    As for senses, of course they are misleading, again that isn’t the point. It’s that they are the ground from which everything else is inferred, and of course “data” can be false data, so what? Of course we have to “think around it” like we would “readings” of any kind, I just wondered if you at least believe we have the “readings” to begin with. (PS: a “naive realist” is someone who thinks the world is shown “directly” to us, whatever that means, simpletons like Gilbert Ryle and as a crypto example, even Dan Dennett.)

    As for whether I should have to use my “conundrums” to prove something out there, well you should know that it is totally valid to just pick on other people’s inconsistencies and not have to prove anything directly at all. But so you won’t claim I’m chickening out (even though anyone here who ever said, they just couldn’t be bothered or didn’t have time for whatever would be totally within their rights), I will link to some threads where I touched on those topics in other blogs, and I don’t really have time for HTML tags (Nnor is it fair to take up lots of space again, when I can link.) Just ctrl-f for Neil’ or Neil B. if you really care that much:

    http://cosmicvariance.com/2007/10/20/please-tell-me-what-god-means/

    http://cosmicvariance.com/2007/08/30/why-is-there-something-rather-than-nothing/#comments

    http://cosmicvariance.com/2007/08/23/the-best-arguments-for-things-i-dont-believe/#comments

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/01/paulos_summarizes_beyond_belie.php

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2007/11/faith_is_not_a_prerequisite_fo.php

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2007/12/the_atheist_marketing_failure.php

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2007/08/get_ready_to_become_a_christia.php?utm_source=mostactive&utm_medium=link

    See also http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2006/09/cool_a_new_argument_for_dualis.php, very interesting but I don’t find comments from myself there.

  248. #248 CortxVortx
    June 3, 2008

    Re: #79

    You all can’t be so willfully stupid that you take him literally can you? Oh, I see that you can be that stupid. This is why I repeatedly wonder if it is possible for there to be any discussion at all. It seems futile, especially given the juvenile behavior here.

    Re: #224

    You’re spoiled, arrogant asshats who cannot treat anyone who disagrees with you with even a modicum of respect.

    Brenda, you ignorant slut.

    You are a pompous liar, front to back. You have been soundly spanked.

  249. #249 Kel
    June 3, 2008

    No need to be misogynistic CortxVortx, one can easily destroy an argument or a person without the use of words that perpetuate negative gender stereotypes. It makes the rest of us men look bad.

  250. #250 Neil B.
    June 3, 2008

    Windy, just for fun, can you explain why that argument is silly/dumb/whatever (forget whether it’s well-phrased.) You may realize, you have to use metaphysics in effect, to critique metaphysics. That’s a lot of the point I make (and most of you don’t appreciate the “wink-wink-nudge-nudge” that I realize this subject isn’t something we can get a good handle on, so why not have fight and fun?) I know I can’t prove something like that anymore than you can disprove it, or even prove that it’s “meaningless.”

    Yes, that thread was legendary. So “truth machine” is gone? Sniff. I miss him like I would miss Ann Coulter.

    heliobates: I posted a bunch of links to my arguments (such as they are), not including the one already mentioned. Prepare to have lots of fun stewing over “modal realism.” The comment is being held because of all the links, that’s just moderation policy for understandable reasons. Well, you said you cared, and were tired of just getting an ass-rub.

  251. #251 windy
    June 3, 2008

    Windy, just for fun, can you explain why that argument is silly/dumb/whatever (forget whether it’s well-phrased.)

    Sleepy time for me now, sorry. But I’ll note that it’s not so much an argument as an assertion.

  252. #252 H.H.
    June 3, 2008

    Kel, I’m fairly certain CortxVortx wasn’t being misogynistic, but just referencing a classic SNL bit:

    A frequent feature of Weekend Update during this time was Point-Counterpoint, in which Curtin and Aykroyd made vicious and humorously inappropriate ad hominem attacks on each other’s positions on a variety of topics, in a parody of the 60 Minutes segment of the same name…Aykroyd regularly began his reply with “Jane, you ignorant slut,” which became another of the many SNL catch phrases. (Curtin frequently began her reply with, “Dan, you pompous ass”.)

    http://tinyurl.com/46gyho

  253. #253 heliobates
    June 3, 2008

    Frak!

    Thanks for the heads’ up, windy.

  254. #254 Kel
    June 3, 2008

    Thanks for that H.H, I’m not too big on SNL references so I can see how it could be. Even so, it seems a dangerous phrase to use because those unfamiliar with the show would see it as a sexist ad hominem.

    So many cultural references, so little time :P

  255. #255 Kagehi
    June 3, 2008

    Seems like an appropriate time to drop this link:

    http://www.livescience.com/strangenews/080602-foresee-future.html

    “Changizi now says it’s our visual system that has evolved to compensate for neural delays, generating images of what will occur one-tenth of a second into the future. That foresight keeps our view of the world in the present. It gives you enough heads up to catch a fly ball (instead of getting socked in the face) and maneuver smoothly through a crowd. …

    ‘Illusions occur when our brains attempt to perceive the future, and those perceptions don’t match reality,’ Changizi said.

    Here’s how the foresight theory could explain the most common visual illusions — geometric illusions that involve shapes: Something called the Hering illusion, for instance, looks like bike spokes around a central point, with vertical lines on either side of this central, so-called vanishing point. The illusion tricks us into thinking we are moving forward, and thus, switches on our future-seeing abilities. Since we aren’t actually moving and the figure is static, we misperceive the straight lines as curved ones.”

    So, in other words, we “predict” what “should” happen, one presumes, based on studies of baby cognitive development, at least in part on learned things, like, ‘objects don’t vanish, then reappear some place else when passing behind something.’, and “project” the real world result that “should” take place. We get fracked up with a) we have no clue what that real world thing “should be”, or b) the result looks like something that should have happened in a different case, or c) something happens that shouldn’t have, based on the same predictions. Worse, one can easily imagine “learning” to automatically substitute one explanation/event for another, in cases where our predictions don’t match. This could be a good thing, like seeing an impossibly large splash telling us that something happened “behind” the goldfish, in the distance, not “from” it, and bad, such as when we conclude that God must have moved the shopping cart into the path of someone escaping a crime scene, instead of a bird pecking at the wheel (despite “seeing” the bird fly from the same spot).

    How much do you want to bet that everything from auditory, to touch, taste and even thought are based, to one extent or another, on this same “predictive” system?

    I mean seriously, I find this article very interesting. And ***way*** more interesting than some badly mangled gibberish that has “no” ability to explain any modern discoveries in cognition or psychology, other than to provide pretzel shaped pseudo-defenses of positions people already have decided they “want” to be true, and no, “Wait, what? How does that work?”, type questions (or any other types, for that matter, other than maybe, “So, what do you do with you brain between apologetics, count how many rubber bands you have collected?”)

  256. #256 dave
    June 3, 2008

    If there is a God, he’s got no one to worship. Since He’s omniscient, He knows there cannot possibly be anyone above Himself, so therefore God must personally be an atheist. So where does Tingley get the gall to criticize God?

  257. #257 Ichthyic
    June 3, 2008

    “Most areas of modern science were started by Christians.

    *yawn* I think some religious troll was making the same argument around these parts just yesterday.

    It’s just like saying: “most areas of modern science were started by men.”

    so fucking what?

    someone had to start somewhere.

    it’s hardly relevant.

  258. #258 Kseniya
    June 3, 2008

    “Most areas of modern science were started by Christians.”

    Yeah. That’s a filled-in MadLibs template if I ever saw one.

  259. Most ______ of/in ______ were ________ by _________.

    “Most murders committed in 18th-century London were committed by members of the Anglican Church.”

    “Most baseball records set in the first half of the 20th century were set by white American men.”

    And so on.

  • #259 Kseniya
    June 3, 2008

    So…. Am I the only one who smells that smell?

    It smells like… sorta like… a cup of ammonia, plus a whiff of burning styrefoam.

  • #260 Ichthyic
    June 4, 2008

    It smells like… sorta like… a cup of ammonia, plus a whiff of burning styrefoam.

    *whoosh*

    OK, I’ll bite, what’s the reference?

  • #261 Dave Luckett
    June 4, 2008

    Arguments for God.

    Well, there aren’t any that I’ve seen for Him, as such. But…

    There’s the argument from first causes. I haven’t seen that one floated here yet. So here goes: Every event we know of has a cause, and we can investigate those causes only to finite depth. The general consensus is that the Universe – that is, time, space, matter, energy – had a beginning in an event. It is reasonable to posit that that event had a cause, but that the cause must necessarily be unobservable, since it must exist outside the Universe itself.

    And there is the argument that free will exists, even though definition is difficult. If God were manifest – that is, if there were empirically verifiable evidence of His existence, which would necessarily mean certain experience of His omnipotence – then free will could not exist, for such evidence would trump free will entirely. Therefore, we would expect that there would be no empirically verifiable evidence for God. Arguments from His not being verifiable are thus irrelevant.

    That is to say, there is both an agency for God and reason to suppose that He would not be manifest.

    I must admit that I find those arguments difficult to answer. That’s why I’m agnostic rather than atheist. I don’t know, and I know I don’t know. I don’t think it’s right, because it sounds strained, but I still don’t know. The world is full of things I don’t get. I mean, forget my reaction to quantum mechanics, plain ol’ general relativity has that effect on me, too.

    If anybody has a counter to those arguments, I would be delighted to hear it.

  • #262 Kagehi
    June 4, 2008

    Actually, I had an interesting statistical position on the “first cause” stuff on Greta’s site, though I will try to be clearer here. The guy argued that the “odds” where better for a god to cause the universe than it to just pop into being. So, I posited that you first have to define what the “odds” of *anything* just happening to exist, or popping into existence was, then suggested, Ok, lets make that 50%. Now, lets say, also for the sake of argument, that god creating the universe had an odds of 99.9%… Well..

    99.9% odds of god making the universe * 50% chance god just “happened” = 49.95%.
    50% chance of the universe just happening = 50%

    Oops!

    It only gets stupider if you do what some nimrods try to do and insert, “aliens made man, after being created by god, who also created the universe.” The only way you don’t get worse numbers than a pure “stuff can just pop into existence” odds, which much logically be equal for “every” first cause, whether than be god or the universe itself, is to posit that the odds of something popping into being at all is 100%, in which case.. well, you then have to also claim that it being god is 100%, at which point someone asks, “But, why do you “need” god if the odds of the universe just popping into being is also 100%?”, and your right back in a real pickle all over again. ;)

  • #263 Kel
    June 4, 2008

    Regarding first cause: [from my blog]
    “There are a few things wrong with this argument, firstly it’s anthropomorphising the unknown. We don’t know precisely what happened before the big bang, or that there even is a before. Time may indeed be a construct of this universe. We honestly don’t know. There are theoretical physicists trying to work this out. Hopefully the research at CERN will shed some light on the nature of atomic particles. To call it God is nebulous, we don’t know the exact cause. So calling it God is just putting an anthropomorphic view on the universe. Along that line, it’s also just pushing what we call a “god of the gaps” where it’s taking a gap in human knowledge and throwing God in there. There is no reason to put in God in a gap in knowledge, it’s an argument that is done for centuries and each time we discover more in science that God shrinks.

    The argument violates it’s own principles. A universe with no innate intelligence just can’t exist, but a supernatural entity of unlimited intelligence can? If you are going to make an argument that everything needs a cause, then you can’t put presuppositions in that violate that rule. Not to mention that it puts a deist or pantheistic type god and uses the labelling of a personal god to describe that. Even if the universe did need a creator, why the personal god who takes interest in the trivial affairs of one species? Why not a deist god? or a Pantheistic god? Why not a polytheistic order of gods who created the big bang by playing marbles with balls made from Higgs Bosons? There is just nothing to say in the argument that it was God, the creator of original sin, the redeemer, the judge of your eternal soul.”

    Who says that energy and matter are constructs of this universe? Why can’t they be infinite?

  • #264 Brenda von Ahsen
    June 4, 2008

    windy
    You can’t say that you get to act childish because everyone else does, and simultaneously claim the moral high ground. Unless you want to look very silly.

    Fair enough, so you admit it then? We are both pot and kettle calling each other black. Or do you claim the high road, you know, like this:

    Brenda, you ignorant slut.

    I consider what CortxVortx said to be sexual harassment. Maybe I should take my concerns to Seed. How would that reflect on PZ? You know what, I think that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

  • #265 Janine ID
    June 4, 2008

    I consider what CortxVortx said to be sexual harassment. Maybe I should take my concerns to Seed. How would that reflect on PZ? You know what, I think that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

    Posted by: Brenda von Ahsen

    Alright Brenda, right now I am going to insult you. Brenda, you ignorant asshole. This was not sexual harassment. But I am a lesbian, so, who knows. ‘wink wink’

    Now please inform Seed that I have called you a name.

  • #266 Kagehi
    June 4, 2008

    Because if you can’t do anything about the message, attack the messenger, either directly, or indirectly, via some random person that “happened” to also post of the subject. Yeah, that works “real” well Brenda. I am sure they do that all the time are places like CERN and or other science labs, when deciding who got things right and who got them wrong.

    Lab tech, “He said I have cooties!”.
    Lab head, “Ah, all right, this week *your* opinion will be accepted and we will just pretend that the other tech’s ideas are all silly. How is that?”
    Lab tech, “Yeah!! Can I have a cookie too?”

  • #267 Ichthyic
    June 4, 2008

    I think that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

    shorter Brendairhead:

    “Mercy me, I do believe I’m getting the vapors!”

  • #268 Kel
    June 4, 2008

    lol, I’d love to see what that letters looks like

    “Deer Seed,

    I regretfully would like to raise your awareness to the moral undergivings of PZ Meyers. On the comment section of the blog, someone called me “an ignorant slut”, and as the blog is PZ Meyers, by association it’s PZ Meyers calling my sexual promiscurity into question. I do not feel he is of sound moral character to be contributing to your fine publication and while he remains I’ll boycott your product and urge others to do the same. It’s unacceptible that other people on the internet use PZ Meyers as a vessel for such blatent sexual harassment and because he doesn’t moderate the comments (you should see the one where I called everyone arrogant asshats) as soon as they are posted, I feel that draconian censorship is the only option

    Not an ignorant slut,
    Brenda von Ahsen”

    Brenda, whatever your issue with being called a slut, doing anything which amounts to complaining about anyone other than the person who called you it is incredibly childish. It’s attempting to take a moral highground, one which you have no business trying to even claim after your behaviour in this thread. You want to talk about people acting like children, then stop doing so yourself. You are quite a hypocrite for doing so, and that should be far more insulting than any question about alleged ignorance or promiscuous behaviour. Grow up and start acting like you are preaching.

  • #269 Ichthyic
    June 4, 2008

    btw, Brendairhead, for future reference when someone says:

    “Brenda, you ignorant slut!”

    the pop-culturally correct response is:

    “[name], you pompous ass!”

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

  • #270 Janine ID
    June 4, 2008

    shorter Brendairhead:

    “Mercy me, I do believe I’m getting the vapors!”

    Posted by: Ichthyic

    Damn! I have just use the same vapors joke about Brenda in an other thread!

  • #271 Janine ID
    June 4, 2008

    Kel, thank you for using her IDiot spelling of PZ’s name.

  • #272 Ichthyic
    June 4, 2008

    Damn! I have just use the same vapors joke about Brenda in an other thread!

    heh, it just seemed to pop right out as the obvious response.

    actually, kind of like immediately knowing that “Brenda, you ignorant slut” was a takeoff on ad-hominems from the old SNL weekend update.

    I beat you to it by 5 minutes, though, nyaah, nyaah!

    oh, wait, we’re supposed to not be acting childish, right?

    :p

  • #273 Wowbagger
    June 4, 2008

    What is the appeal of misspelling PZ’s name as ‘Meyers’ anyway? I don’t get it. Is it some sort of antisemitic thing?

  • #274 dsmccoy
    June 4, 2008

    I thought about this a bit after my flip comments up at the top.
    It connected with the book I’m currently reading: “Strangers to Ourselves” by Wilson (recommended).
    It’s Social Psychology (a good scientific, evidence-based branch of psychology.)

    There are unconscious contents of our minds to which we have no access.
    Wilson calls this “the adaptive unconscious” (to distinguish it from any number of theories of the unconscious put forward by various schools of psychoanalysis and psychology.)
    No amount of introspection will reveal the contents of one’s adaptive unconscious to oneself, the door is just closed in that direction. But urges, desires, prejudices, and such can arise into our conscious mind from the adaptive unconscious.

    What people refer to as “the heart” or “the gut” are usually these urges, desires, prejudices, feelings which arise into our minds from a hidden place in the mind. There can often be a lot of good information processing which leads to these contents, but the processes by which our adaptive unconscious arrived at its conclusions are hidden to us, so we can’t easily tell what is perception and what is only prejudice.

    A good example of this operating in the scientific world is the confirmation bias. Data which confirms your pre-conceptions has an extra-special warm glow. It’s easy to feel in your “gut”, your “heart” that such data must be correct. Data which contradicts your pre-conceptions is so much easier to see as anomalies and faulty measurements. That’s the reason for peer review and reproduction of results. You have to get the raw data some distance away from your gut where someone else can pick it apart.
    That’s why science works; it has built-in mechanisms to overcome our human shortcomings.

    The entire field of religious apologetics, however, is just people playing press secretary for the feelings arising from their gut, heart, adaptive unconscious. “Messages from god” merely arise from the part of the human mind not open to introspection. These people look into their “hearts” and they don’t see the source of the contents, so they assume they’ve got a place inside them where “god” places messages for them.

    Religious apologists don’t seem to be the least bit curious about these inner processes.
    It’s like assuming that god magically places water into faucets, just because you’ve never examined the pipes in the wall.

    Atheists can be caught up in the sway of these unconscious thoughts just as well, but a good skeptic is always trying to haul those inner prejudices out onto the table and compare them to the real world.

    Tingley is just a press secretary for his unconscious prejudices.

  • #275 Janine ID
    June 4, 2008

    What is the appeal of misspelling PZ’s name as ‘Meyers’ anyway? I don’t get it. Is it some sort of antisemitic thing?

    Posted by: Wowbagger

    The joke is this, many of the IDiots who pop in here to argue against the theory of evolution tends to call PZ Myers “PZ Meyers”.

  • #276 Kel
    June 4, 2008

    I thought the joke is that the founder of the Discovery Institute was Stephen C. Meyer.

  • #277 Wowbagger
    June 4, 2008

    I was just wondering if there was a particular reason to use ‘Meyers’, as opposed to anything else.

  • #278 Kseniya
    June 4, 2008

    *sniff*

    Oh geez… *facepalm*

    Remember that odd, pungent smell? It’s not burning styrefoam, or anything of the sort.

    I think it’s the smell of a Cluster B Personality Disorder.

    Well, maybe. I dunno. What do you think?

    Am I hallucinating?

    O_o

  • #279 H.H.
    June 4, 2008

    Dave Luckett @ #260

    And there is the argument that free will exists, even though definition is difficult. If God were manifest – that is, if there were empirically verifiable evidence of His existence, which would necessarily mean certain experience of His omnipotence – then free will could not exist, for such evidence would trump free will entirely. Therefore, we would expect that there would be no empirically verifiable evidence for God. Arguments from His not being verifiable are thus irrelevant.

    This makes zero sense. If we had verifiable, empirical evidence of god’s existence, nothing about that would infringe upon our free will. Just like Adam and Eve of the bible, even if god gives you a personal directive, one still freely makes the choice whether to obey or not. What, Moses was suddenly a non-free agent because god spoke to him? Or Abraham? Or all of the apostles, who had direct knowledge of god through Jesus? Then the bible would be nothing but a puppet show put on with god’s marionettes, and perfectly useless as an instructional document for those of us who do possess free will.

    No, if we had empirical knowledge of god’s existence, nothing suggests we would somehow lose our free will. Oh, some things would change, certainly. There would be less guesswork about god’s intentions than there is now, for instance. And the consequences of transgression would be more clear, but people would still have their free will. Like smoking, there will always be those who do things they know are bad for them.

    Now, if you believe that god’s absolute omniscience rules out free will, then that applies whether we’re consciously aware of it or not. If god knows in advance every choice you’re going to make, then no choice can ever be said to be freely made, since you could never have chosen otherwise. God’s perfect foreknowledge, preceding the act of choice, precludes any concept of free will. It all becomes fate that that point. But like I said, that’s true whether anyone is aware of it or not. Knowledge of god’s existence wouldn’t affect that in the slightest.

  • #280 Kel
    June 4, 2008

    When people talk of God and free will, are they talking about what we would commonly call free will (decision making), talking about biblical free will (the choice between obeying or disobeying God), or using free will as a substitution for consciousness?

  • #281 clinteas
    June 4, 2008

    Being the first to having called evolved troll on The Brenda yesterday in some other threat,I would however like to come to her aid in the slut discussion: I had never heard of this Aykroyd routine before,and you just cant expect someone not to feel insulted by being called a slut in such a manner.
    We can easily take her stupid and repetitive and confused argumentation here apart without use of this sort of language.

  • #282 Ichthyic
    June 4, 2008

    We can easily take her stupid and repetitive and confused argumentation here apart without use of this sort of language.

    you mean NOT use pop culture references on a blog???

    Now I have the vapors!

  • #283 H.H.
    June 4, 2008

    Kel, I don’t think it really matters. People who make that argument are just trying to spin excuses for why their all-powerful god likes to exercise his awesome power by hiding from everyone. It’s an ad hoc explanation meant to excuse away the complete lack of god’s visible involvement in this world, and a really poor one at that.

    But it’s my understanding that free will is used in either the first or second senses you list; meaning our ability to choose, and further our ability to freely choose to obey god. I’ve never heard of free will being equated with consciousness.

  • #284 Ichthyic
    June 4, 2008

    btw, regarding Brenda and pop culture references… even wrt to the exact same SNL regular feature…

    doesn’t she kinda remind you of Roseanne Roseannadanna?

  • #285 Ichthyic
    June 4, 2008

    …that was sarcasm, btw.
    :P

  • #286 H.H.
    June 4, 2008

    I had never heard of this Aykroyd routine before, and you just cant expect someone not to feel insulted by being called a slut in such a manner.

    You can’t really expect us to care either. Brenda felt insulted? Well, I do believe that may have been the intention. She keeps suggesting that everyone grow up. Why doesn’t she follow her own advice? Since when do people have a right not to be insulted on the internet? She wants to make a sexual harassment complaint because someone called her a slut on the interwebs? LOLZ on getting anywhere with that.

  • #287 Kel
    June 4, 2008

    @H.H

    Kel, I don’t think it really matters. People who make that argument are just trying to spin excuses for why their all-powerful god likes to exercise his awesome power by hiding from everyone. It’s an ad hoc explanation meant to excuse away the complete lack of god’s visible involvement in this world, and a really poor one at that.

    Fair enough, I’m with you on that. To me it just seems like a loaded word, where they take a concept out of the bible then apply it in everyday use as a means of proving God. And to me that is just like the first cause argument where it’s using the word God to describe the unknown and from there concluding that Jesus rose on the 3rd day to atone for original sin.

    But it’s my understanding that free will is used in either the first or second senses you list; meaning our ability to choose, and further our ability to freely choose to obey god. I’ve never heard of free will being equated with consciousness.

    Then it’s quite a useless proof then given that free will in the first definition is all through nature and free will in the second definition is using circular logic. Explaining consciousness is a genuinely difficult thing to do and that would pose a challenge.

    Maybe I’m just overthinking all of this and the real idea is as the guy who wrote it implies: that feeling something is true is a higher form of tool than observable evidence. Of course this would mean that Xenu is real, as is the 5,000,000 Hindu gods, and Karma / reincarnation, and Bigfoot, and *insert belief here*, but that feels wrong in my gut so it must all be wrong ;)

  • #288 Wowbagger
    June 4, 2008

    But if god didn’t want us to be certain he existed, why are we given a book half-full of him actually interacting with humans? Surely the bible should have been re-written to exclude any mention of god doing anything other than wafting nebulously to and fro and avoiding all contact.

    Religionists seem confused. Half the time they want us to take any number of things (NDEs, tortillas with faces in them, bananas – which just goes to show none of them have worked picking the things) as proof for god’s existence; the other half they’re saying that if we could prove his existence then faith would be rendered irrelevant and so they can’t.

  • #289 Ichthyic
    June 4, 2008

    …or, you, uh, could decide for yourselves, I suppose…

    http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&VideoID=23764926

    do make sure to watch the clip all the way to the end.

  • #290 clinteas
    June 4, 2008

    H.H said:
    //Since when do people have a right not to be insulted on the internet? She wants to make a sexual harassment complaint because someone called her a slut on the interwebs? LOLZ on getting anywhere with that. //

    Not the point whether she gets anywhere with it,or how childish it is to try.
    And she,and you,and I should have a right not to be insulted,mate,however stupid or tiresome our claims or aguments might be,its called basic decency.
    Point is,this escalation of exchanges of insults in the last 100 posts or so doesnt reflect well on the otherwise usually outstanding quality of posts here,is my point.

    @Ichthyic : I got the sarcasm LOL….

  • #291 woozy
    June 4, 2008

    I must admit that I find those arguments difficult to answer.

    If anybody has a counter to those arguments, I would be delighted to hear it.

    Are you kidding me? I find those arguments difficult to consider as anything but the absurdity for a belief in God and so weak as to be almost incomprehensible.

    There’s the argument from first causes. I haven’t seen that one floated here yet. So here goes: Every event we know of has a cause, and we can investigate those causes only to finite depth. The general consensus is that the Universe – that is, time, space, matter, energy – had a beginning in an event. It is reasonable to posit that that event had a cause, but that the cause must necessarily be unobservable, since it must exist outside the Universe itself.

    Counter argument: what was the cause of the first cause?

    If everything has a cause then God is no more or less of a problem then tracing the cause back the finite observable event. If God can exist without a cause we can’t the universe itself? You throw in the twist that the first cause is unobservable so exist outside the universe and that’s a new one but a smoke screen. When you posit “It is reasonable to posit that that event had a cause” you might as well posit “”It is reasonable to posit that that event had a cause within the universe” both are equally reasonable.
    Who created God? Well, the answer has to be either 1) he created himself or 2) He is eternal or 3) Nothing; he’s beyond cause or 4) Something else. *ALL* of the first three break our assumption that everything has an external cause in or outside the universe, and 4) doesn’t answer the first cause question at all. Hence throwing in God as an answer simply doesn’t answer anything and this is a bootstrap argument founded on nothing and can only go nowhere.

    So how do I answer the first cause problem. Well, according to some physists have answered it in ways I don’t quite understand. But more to the point: I don’t *HAVE* to. As the first-cause paradox causes the exact same paradox with or without God, the person who must answer it is the person proposing it as a solution.
    So God (and his papa, and his papa’s papa) is now

    And there is the argument that free will exists, even though definition is difficult. If God were manifest – that is, if there were empirically verifiable evidence of His existence, which would necessarily mean certain experience of His omnipotence – then free will could not exist, for such evidence would trump free will entirely. Therefore, we would expect that there would be no empirically verifiable evidence for God. Arguments from His not being verifiable are thus irrelevant.

    Huh? Taking you on face value that “proof” leads to “no free will” then by nolo ponens this is an argument *against* God. Or at least against a proof of god.

    *Classic Nolo Ponens*

    Hypothesis1: Evidence => No Free will
    Hypothesis2: Free Will
    Conclussion: No Evidence

    To conclude that No Evidence is irrelevant *only* works if you *presuppose* God exists. And you *can’t* presuppose your conclussion.

    So at the very *best* this is an argument that there will never be evidence of God.
    At worst, this combined with a very reasonable and *highly* held Hypothesis: Every existing thing has evidence is a proof of that God doesn’t exist.

    H1: Evidence => No Free Will
    H2: Free Will
    C1: No Evidence (nolo ponens on H1 & H2)

    H3: Exist => Evidence
    C2: No Existence (nolo ponens on C1 & H3)

    Of course this all assumes H1: Evidence => No Free Will. As that seems to be pulled out of the blue I rate this argument utter gibberish.

  • #292 Peter Barber
    June 4, 2008

    @ Aquaria (#107):

    I feel for you. In comparison I have obviously had an easy life, existential crises notwithstanding. The most I ever had was an outburst from my grandmother one Easter when for the first time she noticed I didn’t go up for Communion. As you might expect, my line of reasoning when she confronted me about this (basically that I was having serious doubts about religion, and that if Communion really was the central part of the Mass and the literal sharing of the body of Christ, it would be disrespectful of me to go through the motions) didn’t wash. I was apparently being “too clever”.

  • #293 A
    June 4, 2008

    PZ,

    On numerous occasions you’ve asked why doesn’t God do certain things if He exists. I’ll tell you why.

    He wants to see the look on your face when you die. That’s right, God is a sarcastic bastard. (But a sucker for beetles.)

  • #294 woozy
    June 4, 2008

    And there is the argument that free will exists, even though definition is difficult. If God were manifest …

    Actually this isn’t a proof of the existence of God so much as a rationalisation that just because there is no evidence it doesn’t mean he doesn’t exist.

    For thousands of years people have been trying to prove God exists. No one has ever succeeded. No usually when one tries to prove the existence of something and consistantly fails it’s because …. wait for it …. it doesn’t exist. All attempts to find El Dorado failed. Why? It didn’t exist. All attempts to find the Northwest Passage failed. Why? didn’t exist. Unicorns? don’t exist. The planet in counter-orbit with earth on the other side of the sun that we never see because the sun is in the way? There isn’t any. God? Um… well…

    Actually there are two other good reasons why we can’t find God?
    1) We don’t really ever define what we’re looking for. We looked for the creater of the universe and found … the big bang. Well, that’s not God. We looked for the creator of human life and found evolution. Well, that’s not God. We looked to the heavens and found … a copernican universe in which we are unexceptional and obscure. That’s not God. Well, we looked and tried but every thing we found didn’t really seem right.
    2) Whatever we do find no longer seems godlike. If we look into a telescope and find Mr. Theo’s big hairy eyeball staring back and we say “God? Is that you?” and Mr. Theo says “YES, I’M GOD” and we say “Uh, gee, how big are you?” and he says “I’M PRECISELY 5,236,712 LIGHTYEARS FROM HEAD TO TOE” and we say “Uh, what’s your favorite meal” and he says “HUNAN LAMB; EXTRA CHRISPY… OH, AND OCCASIONALLY FIRST-BORN HUMAN MALE TARTAR” we usually respond yeah but that’s just Mr. Theo. We want to see God… you know that one who’s ineffiable.

    The reason we can’t prove God *doesn’t* exist are more than just not being able to disprove a negative. They include:
    1) Well, no matter what we prove, anyone can claim God can exist even after proven he can’t if he wants to ’cause he’s God and can do stuff like that.
    2) What don’t ever define God clearly so it’s unclear to disprove.
    —I looked for Mr. Theo’s hairy eyeball and it wasn’t there; sorry, no man in a white beard talking in all-caps.
    -Bah, God’s not a man in a white beard.
    —Okay, looked for conscious thought patterns in the background radiation; nada.
    -Well, that’s not God either.
    —Um, no intelligent designer in our mutations.
    -So? I asked for God; not a bunch of DNA goop!
    —Okay, give us a bone for pete’s sake! what exactly are we supposed to be looking for???
    -Oh, you’ll know when you find it.

  • #295 slang
    June 4, 2008

    #224, Brenda said:

    jesus fucking christ on a cracker please just grow the fuck up already

    You are going to hell!

  • #296 Barry Pearson
    June 4, 2008

    Morgan-LynnGriggs Lamberth #181 & #183 said: “Eugenie C. Scott can bray all she wants that creationists can have their god and evoution ,too, but the weight of evidence …”

    I have watched her talk for hours on YouTube and elsewhere, and she has never said anything resembling that. Her position is that creationists are simply wrong, because evolution by natural selection is overwhelmingly supported by the evidence. She makes it absolutely clear that these positions are incompatible.

    She lets religious scientists such as Ken Miller speak for themselves. I doubt if she is personally convinced by their arguments, but that is not the point. The clear mission of NCSE isn’t to reveal incompatibilities between religious beliefs and science. It is to secure good science education in US schools, and it would be improper to compromise that with distractions such as the god/no-god debate. That has to be for others to fight, not NCSE or Eugenie C. Scott.

  • #297 melior
    June 4, 2008

    Skepticism and theism go well together.

    Just like keen eyesight and hallucinations.

  • #298 Shaden Freud
    June 4, 2008

    #100

    Will you make your keyboard an altar of Osiris, and open your heart to Him today?
    [/poe]

    Somehow I’m reminded of Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

    “Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior?”
    “No, but I love his work.”

  • #299 Peter Ashby
    June 4, 2008

    @#37 Only if it is Staropramen Dark, draught drunk while sitting in the Old Square in Prague. Only then will you truly know you are in heaven…

  • #300 Nick Gotts
    June 4, 2008

    you mean NOT use pop culture references on a blog???
    - Icthyic

    Well, not if they are liable to be misinterpreted as sexist/racist/homophobic/etc. insults. I was taken aback by Brenda being called a “slut”, and even after the explanation, still think it inappropriate. Remember too, not everyone reading this blog is from the USA. I think I’ve seen Brenda spell “behaviour” thusly, indicating that she isn’t. I recently made a similar faux pas myself. Talking to a German colleague about Scottish politics, I referred to a recent split in a leftist party, and made a reference to “The Judean Peoples’ Front and the Peoples’ Front of Judea”. From the look on his face, the guy I was talking too had evidently never seen Life of Brian and apparently thought I was making an anti-semitic reference of some sort.

  • #301 Walton
    June 4, 2008

    What CortxVortx said to Brenda was absolutely inexcusable. That particular slur was, in this context, entirely unjustified and entirely vicious, not to mention redolent of misogyny.

    If I called one of you a sl*t, I would be banned – and quite rightly.

    I love the double standards here. You all criticise Ann Coulter for her remarks about Elizabeth Edwards and about the Jersey Girls (which were taken out of context, and did actually make a legitimate political point). But when one of your own makes an equally vicious remark, without any kind of justification or legitimate discursive purpose, very few rush to condemn him (with the exception of Nick Gotts, who is absolutely right in what he says above at #299).

    I will concede that it probably wasn’t meant the way it came over. But when one causes offence inadvertently through miscommunication, it is customary to retract the statement and apologise. I hope CortxVortx will do the decent thing and apologise to Brenda.

  • #302 Goatboy
    June 4, 2008

    You know, Walton, if you want to be called a pompous ass, you only have to ask.

  • #303 Cheezits
    June 4, 2008

    My god detecting instrument is broken.

    But your Bullshit Detector is probably just fine!

    If you detect God with your heart then so-called conservative so-called Christians are screwed – most of them have no heart.

  • #304 Just Al
    June 4, 2008

    But… but… I DID listen with my heart! That’s why I’m an atheist. Did I do it wrong?

  • #305 JeffreyD
    June 4, 2008

    Only made it to #224 before snapping. Brenda, to meet you polite for polite, get the fuck away and grow the fuck up and eat the fucking cracker with or without the fucking jesus on fucking top of it. I do fucking not care whether your are a troll or not, you are annoying and puerile, feckless without being winsome.

    To be slightly more polite, if you do not like it here and hate everyone here, then leave. You will not be missed and, if you take the K and the J with you, might actually be applauded. I feel this strongly deep within my cardiac pump.

    Need help finding the door? Just examine your heart.

  • #306 Cheezits
    June 4, 2008

    If I called one of you a sl*t, I would be banned – and quite rightly.

    No you wouldn’t.

  • #307 jase
    June 4, 2008

    The problem is not whether one is a theist, atheist or agnostic; the problem is misrepresentation. Brenda states that she doesn’t believe in god (noticed how this is framed: as a denial of a possible existing god rather than the argument against “a god or gods”) then her statements afterward reflect a strong theistic bias. She calls herself a skeptic but eschews scienctific evidence calling it “scientism”. She relies on intuition and wonders why people scoff. Her skepticsm is emotionally based which is why she jumps to Tingely’s defense. Her “skepticism” is based on gut feeling, no empirical evidence, or lack thereof, needed.

    She is patronising, condescending and boorish; pleaing for everyone else to acknowlege her superior intellectual skills (lol) yet her arguments aren’t much better than Kenny’s or any second (third?) rate xian apologist. If anyone counters her profane tirade with their own profane tirade she becomes a mewling indignant victim. ( I’m gonna te -ellll!!!)
    Brenda, obviously we can’t percieve the superior logic of your supremely intellectual heart. Skepticism through Heuristics? Critical Thinking/Logic – try it sometime.

  • #308 CosmicTeapot
    June 4, 2008

    wowBagger @ 287

    “Half the time they want us to take any number of things (NDEs, tortillas with faces in them, bananas – which just goes to show none of them have worked picking the things) as proof for god’s existence”

    Last week, I had a chocolate mousse with the face of Jabba the Hut. Obvious proof that being a Jedi is a true vocation for me (until Kenny´s secret proof shows me the error of my ways).

    And no, I do not have a photograph of the mousse. It was chocolate after all.

  • #309 Vic
    June 4, 2008

    Brendairhead:

    Then why did it take 125 comments and my pointing it out to get there?

    Yeah, I think my earlier assessment of you as ‘really stupid’ was right on. EVERYONE got that. That’s why all the joking started, because it’s silly. For you to not get that those were jokes instead of serious discussions marks you as intellectually deficient.

    I was unaware that emotions had buttocks on which to sit.

    … and just after you get done trying to chastise everyone for thinking ‘heart’ meant the literal organ, you take my ‘seat of emotions’ to mean literal seat, as in buttocks. Stupid AND intellectually dishonest.

    Or, you were just making a joke, and a very poor one, and very badly. Not that stupid and unfunny is much better than stupid and intellectually dishonest… but I suppose you have to take your positives where they come.

    (And please, no ejaculation jokes at that last line…)

    Sounds like more BS to me. The unconscious however, really does exist and it really does influence our behavior.

    Irrelevant. Thinking something still doesn’t make it true.

    “Emotions” on the other hands are not “things”, they are just behaviors. I’m discussing the unconscious, not emotions. And to repeat myself (because people here apparently cannot read) Tingley gets it wrong when he attempts to make knowledge claims based on unconscious desires. That is his point not mine, and I’ve already said as much.

    Then since EVERYONE is saying the same thing as you, what’s your beef here? Stupid, intellectually dishonest, unfunny, AND a shitstirrer.

    We’ve got a live one here!

  • #310 JeffreyD
    June 4, 2008

    Walton, re your #300, in another thread I suggested you should stay and should post. Well, I have had a change of heart. While I will not suggest that you leave, for the reasons I outlined in the other thread, I will try to contain my sadness if you do make the decision to withdraw.

    Further to the actual meat of your post, What CortxVortx said to Brenda was not repeat not absolutely inexcusable. You would have not made the comment nor would I, but so what? Had I made the same comment, my only apology would be that I used a cultural reference that could be misconstrued. I am neither CortxVrotx’s father nor his confessor, he will make the decision on how to proceed upon what he said. Personally, since others have explained the cultural reference, where I he, I would ignore it.

    Finally, your defense of Coulter’s comment is distasteful and contemptible. No, I will not explain that, you do not agree as evidenced by your post. That fact that you take her seriously in any fashion colours my view of you and makes me think you are a fool. Well, I will just have to live with that (dramatic and false sigh).

    Kseniya, I am not sure what you are smelling, but I get the hint of a cow pasture on a hot August day.

    Ciao y’all

  • #311 Kseniya
    June 4, 2008

    Emotions are behaviors? I thought they were states.

  • #312 Woozle
    June 4, 2008

    I’m not at all an advocate of compromise with religion, but I thought I might offer this as a possible answer to PZ in his Spiritual Quest: Reasons to believe in God

    Spoiler: It’s aimed at someone recovering from religion, and attempts to separate untestable yet harmless beliefs (e.g. that God created the universe and wants people to be happy) from items of dogma which cause harm (e.g. God hates gays. And abortion, and shrimp. But mostly gays. And abortion.).

    The message is something like “You can have your belief in a benevolent creator of the universe, if you like. But just because the word you use for that idea is the same as the word used by some people for this fictional being who behaves really badly doesn’t mean they’re the same thing.”

    The idea is to carefully wean theoholics off their dependence on god-dogma with some gentle emotional persuasion, install some substitute supports until they can build their own, and slowly reintroduce the idea of rational analysis of belief in much the same manner as one might reintroduce any endangered species to its original habitat.

    P.S. to the webmaster: the BBS code keeps adding “nofollow” attributes to my links every time I preview, leading to a long string of them if I happen to be a compulsive self-proofreader. Which of course I’m not. Nope.

  • #313 jase
    June 4, 2008

    Did I miss something or did CortxVrotx not reveal that “he” is a SHE? Shows our bias; we assume everyone without a femininely named alias is a he. Can she call another woman a slut? Can an African American call another African American a ni@@a without the NAACP stepping in? Can Brenda call everyone juvenile assholes and and then take offense at “slut” or any perjorative for that matter since she initiated the name calling? Perhaps a synonymn for slut; but “Jane -you misguided, ignorant slattern” doesn’t have much zing in the 21st century and isn’t true to the Akroyd character.
    You can’t call everyone else a fucking prick or dick and then get upset if someone calls you a cunt just because that particular noun is your own personal tabu word. Sexist? Juvenile? Of course, but you fling shit, some’s gonna be flung back at ya. (sometimes facetiously and sometimes with purile impotent rage, you never know).

  • #314 Benjamin Geiger
    June 4, 2008

    CosmicTeapot:

    A mousse once bit my sister…

  • #315 Carlie
    June 4, 2008

    Hey now, I’m the resident jump-on-everyone’s-ass-for-misogynist-slurs person around here. Interestingly, the one single pass I ever give for it is exactly the reference to that sketch. Brenda, you go right ahead and complain. With just a few clicks of the mouse in archival searching, it’s clear that every time sexist slurs are used here they are bashed down, by PZ and many commenters, every single time. And I’m sure “random commenter used a line on me from a sketch I didn’t recognize” is a real concern for the Seed overlords.

  • #316 Iain Walker
    June 4, 2008

    Well, I made it to the end of Tingley’s essay without bleeding too profusely from the eyes and ears, and I can safely say that it is one of the most vacuous pieces of self-satisfied, obscurantist rhetoric I’ve come across in a long time.

    Odd thing is, Tingley almost has a point when he speaks of going: “where their own skeptical-scientific questioning actually points: not back to concrete evidence but on to the question of whether there is another way to answer the question”.

    That’s an entirely reasonable point – provided that we do in fact have grounds for supposing that there is indeed another way of answering the question. But does Tingley attempt to make a case for this? Not in the slightest. Instead, we get a lot of vague Pascalian guff about the “reasoning of the heart” without any explanation of what this is meant to consist of (let alone mean). It’s the standard appeal to “other ways of knowing” one often hears from theists, post-modernists and New Agers, coupled with the standard refusal to even hint at just how these “other ways” yield knowledge.

    So for those who were actually impressed by Tingley’s essay (Louise? Brenda?), perhaps you can enlighten us as to how the “reasoning of the heart” (or whatever your prefered “other way of knowing” is) is actually supposed to work.

    For instance:

    On this “other way of knowing”, how are arguments evaluated for validity? How does one determine whether propositions are compatible or incompatible? To put it another way, what are the rules of inference of the “reasoning of the heart”?

    On this “other way of knowing”, what are the criteria by which we can distinguish true and false claims?

    On this “other way of knowing”, what are the criteria for the correct application of the method? If two people using the same method arrive at different conclusions, how is this to be resolved? Does it yield consistent, reliable results?

    Appeals to “other ways of knowing” usually boil down to “I want to believe this, but I can’t justify it on logical or evidential grounds, so I’m just going to call it another kind of knowledge and hope nobody calls me on my empty semantic manoeuvre.”

    Well, I’m calling Tingley and anyone who wants to defend him on just such a manoeuvre. You want non-believers to consider the possibility of other ways of answering the question “Does God exist?” Fine. Tell us how.

  • #317 jase
    June 4, 2008

    “A mousse once bit my sister…

    Was it chocolate or styling? Phyllis Diller once claimed she teased her hair so much it bit her. Perhaps she just had the wrong hair product…

  • #318 windy
    June 4, 2008

    Brenda:

    Fair enough, so you admit it then? We are both pot and kettle calling each other black.

    I admit that you have called people names and some people have called you names back. So? You said on the other thread that you “judge Pharyngula on the basis of the rudeness and childishness of the majority of it’s commenters”. Where does that get you? You’ll notice that while PZ says he judges Christianity, he has not stopped responding to all arguments coming from Christians. And neither have we.

    This indignation is just an excuse to get out of defending your arguments. Did you notice how we totally pwned your ass on the other thread?

  • #319 Pablo
    June 4, 2008

    Pablo, that is an awesome argument to use against theists. Just tell them, it’s a sin to believe in God if he exists. LOL.

    Doesn’t work. It could be that God created them irrational, hence they would not be failing to use the gift of reason God gave them.

    I only can apply it to me.

  • #320 kcrady
    June 4, 2008

    @ #300
    Walton, you ignorant slut! ;)
    ——

    Question: What’s the point of believing in a “hidden” god, anyway? If a god talks to snakes, parts seas, impregnates virgins, feeds stadium crowds out of lunchboxes, unleashes zombie plagues on 1st Century Jerusalem, etc., then it’s not a hidden god. If it can be presented rationally as the First Cause for everything that exists, it isn’t a hidden god. If it answers prayers more reliably than chance, or praying to a jug of milk, then it’s not a hidden god.

    So, if a god is hidden, then it is not the deity of the Abrahamic religions, or of any human religion. If there’s one thing that all theistic religions agree on, it is the claim that gods are powerful and respond to human communication (prayers, rituals, spells, etc.). Since a hidden god is doing its best to pretend it doesn’t exist (and does so on principle, so as not to eliminate our free will or lessen our need for faith), it could not be responsible for any of the miracle-claims of any religion, or ghost-write any books.

    It isn’t enough that the Hidden God just hide from reason and evidence, but reveal itself to some “other way of knowing.” If the “other way of knowing” is shown to be a valid way to get accurate information, and the god can be known by this means, then it ceases to be hidden. If, everywhere Christian missionaries had went, the local mystics and shamans had said, “Of course, we’ve been expecting you. Jesus told us you were coming,” this would provide evidence that mystical contemplation could arrive at a common picture of spiritual reality.

    A Chinese astronomer observing Jupiter with a telescope, and a European astronomer observing Jupiter with a telescope can see the same thing even if they’re unaware of each other. This is one of the reasons science works. The orbital periods of the moons of Jupiter are indifferent to the cultural presuppositions of China and Europe.

    If Chinese mystics and European mystics all saw Jesus in their contemplations even without having any contact with each other, this would indicate that their “other way of knowing” represented an accurate form of perception.

    Now, if this were the case, then the Hidden God would be no more hidden than if it were visible with a telescope. And so, in order to remain hidden, the Hidden God must also muddy the waters of “heart detection” so that heart-followers in Tehran would experiencce a different god than heart-followers in Texas or New Delhi.

    Which means, you can’t trust your heart either, because the Hidden God must mislead your heart-sense for the same reason it has to hide from telescopes.

    Since the Hidden God must, by definition, arrange things so that there can be no difference, even in principle, between its existence, and its nonexistence, what’s the point of believing in it? It can’t answer your prayers or promise you a nifty hereafter. To do that, it would have to come out of hiding.

    Since no gods have come out of hiding, either they don’t exist, or they’re acting like they don’t exist because of some Godly Prime Directive they can’t violate. Either way, the results are the same: a godless Universe.

    Since you must live in the same godless Universe we do anyway, why not save yourself all the mental gymnastics and become an atheist? I can understand the desire to believe in a non-hiddenn, intervening god that answers prayers, writes guidebooks, promises hereafters, etc.. What the heck is a hidden god that can’t do any of that good for?

  • #321 Nick Gotts
    June 4, 2008

    Since you must live in the same godless Universe we do anyway, why not save yourself all the mental gymnastics and become an atheist? – kcrady

    Can’t let this pass! Many of us say (rightly) that preferences, convenience etc. have nothing to do with the truth of a proposition. (Anyway, some people like mental gymnastics.) To justify atheism rather than agnosticism with respect to an infinitely shy god, we need epistemological grounds, and parsimony fits the bill.

  • #322 Kseniya
    June 4, 2008

    kcrady wins the thread.

  • #323 ali baba
    June 4, 2008

    yeawn, logical positivism is so fin de siecle

  • #324 Walton
    June 4, 2008

    Kcrady at #318: Nice try. But since I’m not a woman and have never, in fact, engaged in sexual intercourse (not that this is anyone’s business here), the insult doesn’t have enough truth to it to be offensive.

    I was, on the other hand, offended by being called an “ignorant child” on the other thread, and have made this very clear. An insult is only offensive when it contains a grain of truth. In my case, I confess to the heinous crime of being young. Whether I am ignorant is, of course, a matter of opinion, but I like to think not.

  • #325 windy
    June 4, 2008

    yeawn, logical positivism is so fin de siecle

    If you are referring to kcrady, his/her argument is a logical extension of the claim “God wants to remain hidden”. No positivism needed.

  • #326 MAJeff, OM
    June 4, 2008

    Whether I am ignorant is, of course, a matter of opinion, but I like to think not.

    Not it is not, and yes you are.

  • #327 clinteas
    June 4, 2008

    @kcrady:
    That was your second outstanding post on this thread,so I second Kseniya,you win !

    Where did this XXX wins the threat thingy come from btw??

    One thing I HAVE to say to Walton: If i was your age mate,I would love Ann Coulter too,at night,under the sheets,in my room alone with myself….Who could resist….LOL

  • #328 CrypticLife
    June 4, 2008

    I forget what wag it was who noted that Plato thought the heart was the seat of thinking, and that the brain was just used for cooling the blood.

    Plato clearly got it wrong; that’s only true for some people. Guess we know where Tingley falls.

  • #329 SteveM
    June 4, 2008

    that is, if there were empirically verifiable evidence of His existence, which would necessarily mean certain experience of His omnipotence – then free will could not exist, for such evidence would trump free will entirely.

    I think this is a misinterpretation of another argument. “woozy” explained it pretty well, that it is really part of the argument for why there is no evidence for God. As I understand it, it is not an argument that evidence would destroy free will in general, just that it would negate one’s free choice whether to believe in God or not. That is, you have free will, but you really don’t have any free will with respect to the existence of, say, the Earth. The argument is that man does have (was given by God) free will, the purpose of free will is to allow faith (i.e. belief without evidence). If there was evidence for God, there would be no need for faith and thus no need for free will. But none of this is a proof of God’s existence, that is assumed. This is just an argument why it is necessary for there to be no evidence of His existence. The problem is this is no “proof” of anything, just speculation about why God might want to be hidden.

  • #330 Kseniya
    June 4, 2008

    I don’t think kcrady was trying to offend you, Walton. I think it was more a poke of the “lighten up” variety.

    I’m with Carlie on this, by the way. If the jibe hadn’t been a well-known classic SNL catchphrase – intended not to promote misogyny, but rather to lampoon the faux gentility that thinly veils the contempt in which the ideological opponents on those debate shows sometimes hold one another – I’d be with you (and her) on the utter inappropriateness of it. I’m no fan of the word “slut”, but the context, along with the implications of the referent, does matter.

    If Brenda chooses to continue to be offended, even after learning of the reference and its subtext, she’s within her rights to do so. I personally wouldn’t presume to tell her how to feel about it, but I would be inclined to suggest that making a Federal Case out of it might be out of proportion to the actual event. But that’s just me.

  • #331 SteveM
    June 4, 2008

    Whether I am ignorant is, of course, a matter of opinion

    No it’s not. “ignorant” is not an insult nor a value judgement.

  • #332 Brownian, OM
    June 4, 2008

    I see we’re getting the same ol’, same ol’ from Brenda. No response to genuine comments or queries, but rather over-the-top indignation at the use of a few bad words. And of course, all of it’s a facade for thinly-veiled anger at PZ.

    Brenda, how exactly is ignoring the arguments made by kcrady and others and instead crying “atheists don’t give me no respect!” supposed to demonstrate the reasoned dialogue we’re to be having with these theists?

  • #333 jase
    June 4, 2008

    “Since you must live in the same godless Universe we do anyway, why not save yourself all the mental gymnastics and become an atheist? I can understand the desire to believe in a non-hiddenn, intervening god that answers prayers, writes guidebooks, promises hereafters, etc.. What the heck is a hidden god that can’t do any of that good for?”

    Captain Obvious here!,
    The belief in a mythical deity is a security blanket for those who find a godless universe unthinkable. Add the social conditioning of religion=goodness, plus the patriarchal/familial authority is negated if deity worship is pointless. Most theists assume atheism=nihilism and so they hold onto the notion of some mystical intelligent interfering force versus possibly surrending to an (unnecessary) sense of hopelessness because then purpose must be self-defined AND there is no blissful eternal reward.
    That delusion – a noncorporeal afterlife yet always described in very corporeal terms – is the saddest idea imaginable. Only the most pious and zealous get the rewards and everyone else gets eternal punishment for even trivial technical infractions? And -just how many of us could stand to spend an eternity with our families? I have problems even with short term visits…
    The problem for most theists in letting go of a conceptualized deity isn’t intellectual so much as an ideological and existential conundrum. If they reject a portion – really a foundation of their upbringing, will everything become unmoored? Mythos, ethos and reality havebecome adhered together, and there is no easy way to extricate one from the others when indoctrinated from infancy and from almost every societal aspect.
    It’s frustrating seeing very intellectual people hold on to theism, but many are too cowed or too superstitious to take that step. It chafes against the comfort of tradition and piety to abandon the idea of a deity. The paradox of sane, rational theists – predominantly reasonable people hanging on to that last bit of institutional irrationality.

  • #334 SC
    June 4, 2008

    …since I’m not a woman and have never, in fact, engaged in sexual intercourse (not that this is anyone’s business here),..

    No, but thanks for sharing. That might explain some things…

    An insult is only offensive when it contains a grain of truth.

    Are you calling Brenda a slut?

  • #335 kcrady
    June 4, 2008

    @ #319: Nick, you’re quite right that personal preferences, convenience, etc. have nothing to do with the truth of a proposition, but theists seem to think otherwise. “If there’s no God, my life won’t have any meaning! If there’s no God, my favorite cultural taboos won’t be Universal Moral Absolutes!” Etc..

    For the “Belief in Belief” crowd, the utility of a belief (it provides comfort to the grieving, provides a moral code and enhances societal cohesion, etc.) trumps its truth-status, as long as the belief can be compartmentalized away from conflicting aspects of reality.

    Christianity produces lovely cathedrals, symphonies, paintings on ceilings, lets people believe Grandma is waiting for them in “a better place,” and so forth. So as long as you don’t take it seriously enough to, for example, call the elders of the Church in a medical emergency (James 5:14-15) rather than calling for an ambulance, it’s a fine and useful thing, and who cares if it’s false?

    Within the context of this approach, the Hidden God is useless. The only sort of god that can provide the believers the comforting feeling that they’re loved, protected, and cared for is a non-hidden god that can love, protect, and care for them. The only sort of god that can provide hope of eternal life is one that can reveal itself enough to promise a hereafter.

    The theist is caught in a vise. The only sort of god worth bothering to believe in, worship, and order one’s life and society around is a non-hidden god that answers prayers and offers an afterlife. The claim that such a god exists is a testable, scientific claim. For the theist to retreat from testability undercuts their emotional “heart reasons” for believing in a god.

    I’m curious what “heart reasons” they’ve got left for believing in a god after surrendering the usual heartfelt needs for an escape from mortality, “meaning,” morality, a sense of superiority (we’re God’s Elect, and you’re not!) apocalypse fetishes and other “services” provided by belief in a non-hidden god.

    Another thing I’d like to know is, where do theists get their vast buckets of smug from? I can understand, say, Richard Dawkins being cocky about his knowledge of biology, or Gary Kasparov about his skill at chess. I’m not saying they are cocky, just that I could understand it if they were. They’d have a lot to back it up with.

    So many of these apologists, OTOH, are bubbling gushers of arrogance. Just watch a VenomFangX video. How do these guys get so self-satisfied and cocky, when they’ve got absolutely nothing in the holster? I know I couldn’t do it. Even if I knew I could make a million dollars a month preaching Creationism, there’s just no way I could sneer smugly in the face of somebody like Richard Dawkins like Ted Haggard does and act as if I knew a hundred times as much as he does about biology.

    I guess it’s a necessary con-artist skill, but it’s so alien to my cognition I can’t imagine how they manage it.

  • #336 SteveM
    June 4, 2008

    re “smell”

    I am not getting the reference either. My only guess would be from Lynyrd Skynyrd: “Ooooh that smell/Can’t you smell that smell/Ooooh that smell/The smell of death surrounds you”

    from:

    Lynyrd Skynyrd
    (Allen Collins – Ronnie VanZant)
    Whiskey bottles, and brand new cars

    Oak tree you’re in my way
    There’s too much coke and too much smoke

    Look what’s going on inside you

    Ooooh that smell
    Can’t you smell that smell
    Ooooh that smell
    The smell of death surrounds you
    Angel of darkness is upon you
    Stuck a needle in your arm
    So take another toke, have a blow for your nose
    One more drink fool, will drown you
    Ooooh that smell
    Can’t you smell that smell
    Ooooh that smell
    The smell of death surrounds you
    Now they call you Prince Charming
    Can’t speak a word when you’re full of ‘ludes
    Say you’ll be all right come tomorrow
    But tomorrow might not be here for you
    Ooooh that smell
    Can’t you smell that smell
    Ooooh that smell
    The smell of death surrounds you
    Hey, you’re a fool you
    Stick them needles in your arm
    I know I been there before
    One little problem that confronts you
    Got a monkey on your back
    Just one more fix, Lord might do the trick
    One hell of a price for you to get your kicks
    Ooooh that smell
    Can’t you smell that smell
    Ooooh that smell
    The smell of death surrounds you
    Ooooh that smell
    Can’t you smell that smell
    Ooooh that smell
    The smell of death surrounds you

  • #337 Tulse
    June 4, 2008

    man does have (was given by God) free will, the purpose of free will is to allow faith (i.e. belief without evidence). If there was evidence for God, there would be no need for faith and thus no need for free will.

    I just don’t get this. What is the big deal about free will with reference to belief in God? By the standard provided above, He certainly didn’t give us free will with regard to believing in gravity, or sheep, or chocolate, or pain — why is God so worried about free will regarding belief in Him?

    In any case, this whole argument about avoiding evidence of existence to support free will is relatively modern — I don’t see anyone in the Old Testament saying “Well, now that I’m watching the Red Sea part, there goes my free will!” I don’t see anyone in the New Testament saying, “Dammit, Jesus, I had free will before you went and fed all those folks — now I’m screwed! Thanks a lot!” The whole “God hides to let us have free will” argument is hugely ahistorical (in addition to being silly nonsense).

  • #338 Walton
    June 4, 2008

    To SC at #332: No, of course not! I’m really sorry it came over that way, I only just realised the potential ambiguity in my wording. I apologise profusely to Brenda for any misunderstanding. All I meant was that the term “slut” is generally offensive when directed at a woman. It isn’t so when directed at a man, especially not one who happens to be celibate.

  • #339 kcrady
    June 4, 2008

    Walton wrote:

    Kcrady at #318: Nice try. But since I’m not a woman and have never, in fact, engaged in sexual intercourse (not that this is anyone’s business here), the insult doesn’t have enough truth to it to be offensive.

    Thanks for the laughs, Walton! Can I call Poe’s Law now?

    BTW, why should it be that the term “slut” as an insult can only apply to women? That’s just another pernicious Abrahamic double-standard. If a man has lots of sexual parters, he’s admired as a “stud,” “pimp” or “playa.” If a woman has lots of sexual partners, she’s a “slut” or “whore.” What’s good (or bad) for the goose ought to be good (or bad) for the gander.

    We just can’t cure the Abrhamic mind-virus fast enough…

  • #340 Brownian, OM
    June 4, 2008

    have never, in fact, engaged in sexual intercourse

    Oh, you really must try it. It can be a natural and zesty enterprise.

  • #341 Walton
    June 4, 2008

    Kcrady at #337: I fully agree with you that double standards, as regards sexual morality, are a bad thing. I wasn’t expressing approval of the use of terms like “stud” and “playa”, believe me. I was only pointing out that, in our culture, the term “sl*t” is usually applied mainly to women.

    Most Christians would, in fact, agree with you, in the sense that they would condemn equally the behaviour of promiscuous men (not in the sense that they would approve the behaviour of promiscuous women). This particular concern (about double standards for men and women) in fact was raised as far back as the nineteenth century. In those days, men (particularly from the upper classes) could engage in promiscuous behaviour with very few consequences, while women who did so ran the risk of becoming impregnated and losing their livelihood and reputation. But this is a cultural problem (and was in the past a biological one; before condoms, women bore most of the risk of illicit intercourse), not really a religious one IMO. I certainly don’t think you can blame the “Abrahamic” mindset for it (is it really any different in, say, traditional Indian Hindu culture?)

  • #342 Kseniya
    June 4, 2008

    Hmmm. Hey. Is kcrady filling in for Sastra this week?

       *   *   *
    [whisper]
    
    (Psssst... Walton!)
    
    (Don't forget to point out that you weren't also implying that there's a grain of truth to the suggestion that Brenda is ignorant!)
    
    [/whisper]
  • #343 clinteas
    June 4, 2008

    Walton,
    are you trying to score points with this “havent put my sausage into any breadroll” story? Is that relevant to anything you argued?

    And mate,stop apologizing for every ambiguous and foolish comment we catch you making,im starting to think youre a nice guy,deluded but nice LOL

  • #344 Janine ID
    June 4, 2008

    I certainly don’t think you can blame the “Abrahamic” mindset for it (is it really any different in, say, traditional Indian Hindu culture?)

    Posted by: Walton

    I think Walton just might understand that we atheists are against all religions, not just christianity, because of how they may have a tendency to support atavistic practices.

  • #345 Nick Gotts
    June 4, 2008

    Oh, you really must try it [sexual intercourse]. – Brownian

    But it requires a willing party of the second part – not something which is automatically available in response to even the most fervent wish!

    By the way, I thought the primary meaning of “slut” was someone (usually a woman) who does not do the housework. Hence “slut’s wool” – the skeins of fluff you find under beds if no-one has hoovered there for a few weeks. The usual British insult implying (female) promiscuity would have been “slag” in my youth, but maybe that’s changed.

  • #346 Pablo
    June 4, 2008

    What is the big deal about free will with reference to belief in God?

    Shoot, someone will have to tell me what the big virtue in free will is in the first place? Who cares whether God gives us free will or not?

    So long as we have APPARENT free will, then I go about my business. Whether it is true free will or not matters not one lick. I don’t care whether my actions are completely controlled by God or physics. As long as it doesn’t appear that way, then my life is not affected.

  • #347 SC
    June 4, 2008

    Walton – Are you always this, how shall I put it, humor-free?

  • #348 H.H.
    June 4, 2008

    Regarding the smell thing, I think it’s just a “I love the smell of napalm in the morning” type reference, usually along the lines of “I love the smell of burning tard” or “troll.” References to specific scents may be as creative as you’d like, so long as the odor is appropriately acrid or offensive. It’s simply a facetious way of saying that bad behavior has been detected.

    I *think*, although this is the internet and misunderstandings have been known to occur.

  • #349 Brownian, OM
    June 4, 2008

    And mate, stop apologizing

    Yeah, what are you, Canadian?

    I certainly don’t think you can blame the “Abrahamic” mindset for it (is it really any different in, say, traditional Indian Hindu culture?)

    I’d say you’re partially right. The roots of misogyny and patriarchy are deep and twisted, and religion is just one many ways in which it is expressed in our culture and others. Such sexism generally predates any of the major religions.

    However, even if these religions were not the cause, they’ve certainly played a part in supporting and reinforcing sexual and gender inequality, and so it is not inappropriate that they should share some of the blame (all of ‘em, not just the Abrahamic ones.)

    As for me, I blame the banking industry.

  • #350 clinteas
    June 4, 2008

    Brownian,

    what makes you think Im Canadian LOL?
    And does sexism really predate religion? Probably in a “hunter-gatherer cultures had clearly defined gender roles” way,but I would venture to say that the perfection of instrumentalising sexism only happened in a religious context…But I might be wrong…

  • #351 Brownian, OM
    June 4, 2008

    Oh, you really must try it [sexual intercourse]. – Brownian

    But it requires a willing party of the second part – not something which is automatically available in response to even the most fervent wish!

    Yes, of course, Nick! I myself have suffered a similar lack of willing partners on occasion. Let me see, there were my teen years, then my twenties, now I’m in my early thirties, so that makes….

    Me so lonely.

  • #352 Emily Litella
    June 4, 2008

    As for me, I blame the banking industry.

    What’s all this talk about “doubloon standards”? Isn’t the gold standard good enough for y-

    -what? what’s that?

    “Double Standard”?

    *sheepish grin*

    Never mind!

  • #353 jase
    June 4, 2008

    Ah, Walton, the picture of callow, virginal youth mired in ideological pap. Banging the drum for religion, eh? (I did as well)
    First, get over your priggish relationship with the profane (boy you seem to have some repression issues), get laid and live a while in this world with your eyes open and your mouth shut. You seem to be very bright but you’ve been sold a bill of goods and it will be hell to pay for you to distinguish fact from fiction in the world of theology.( Hint: it’s ALL fiction) Good luck.

  • #354 Brownian, OM
    June 4, 2008

    Sorry Clinteas, the Canadian comment was a quip attached to your comment about Walton’s constant apologising (a very Canadian trait).

    As for gender roles, hunter gatherer societies are the only ones in which we do see egalitarianism (though gender roles still exist). The increase in gender inequality likely arose at the same time as intensive agriculture and large, permanent villages. While religion did exist at that time, the major religions we know now didn’t.

    It’s been a long time since I’ve done much reading about the anthropology of sex and gender, so I’d welcome input from anyone who can tell us more.

  • #355 jase
    June 4, 2008

    Wasn’t Windy offering some hot monkey-love to Kenny on another thread? I’m sure it was the monkey reference that ooged him out.
    Walton, you’ll get some noogie eventually. Who knows, you may like gals or guys or both…or neither.
    Poor, poor Brownian, I think I know why you type so well one-handedly…

  • #356 windy
    June 4, 2008

    I just don’t get this. What is the big deal about free will with reference to belief in God?

    Does God have free will, and if not, how come he gets to dole it out?

  • #357 clinteas
    June 4, 2008

    Paging David Marjanovic…..

    Yeah Brownian sorry,I got it after reading your post again…

  • #358 quork
    June 4, 2008

    And there is the argument that free will exists, even though definition is difficult. If God were manifest – that is, if there were empirically verifiable evidence of His existence, which would necessarily mean certain experience of His omnipotence – then free will could not exist, for such evidence would trump free will entirely. Therefore, we would expect that there would be no empirically verifiable evidence for God. Arguments from His not being verifiable are thus irrelevant.
    That is to say, there is both an agency for God and reason to suppose that He would not be manifest.
    I must admit that I find those arguments difficult to answer. That’s why I’m agnostic rather than atheist…

    You find that difficult? Well then, let me answer it for you. What you seem to mean by “free will” is the freedom to make bad decisions based on not having adequate information; in some cases not even being aware that we are making a decision at all. If that is what you mean, then “free will” is not something worth having. Here’s an example to consider:

    MC: Welcome to the show! Behind one of these three doors is a car, a house, and a truckload of designer furniture! Behind each of the other two doors is a goat.
    GUEST: Door number 2! Door number 2!
    MC: Your guess is door number 2. I’m going to open one of the doors you didn’t pick and see what’s behind it. Door number 3 was hiding: (door opens) a goat! Now, I’m going to offer you another chance to change your mind. Would you like to stick by your choice of door number 2, or change your selection?
    GUEST: Ha ha, I read about this. I’m gonna switch to door number 1, because I heard it improves my odds. Jason Rosenhouse told me about this.
    MC: Alright then, your selection is door number 1. First, let’s open door number 2 and see what’s back there: (door opens) it’s a goat!
    GUEST: Woo hoo! I’m gonna be rich!
    MC: Now let’s open door number 1: (door opens) it’s another goat!
    GUEST: WHAT THE @#^^?
    MC: That’s right, you just won a goat. The car, the house, the truckload of fabulous furniture are all hiding behind DOOR NUMBER 4! (door opens, music plays, audience gasps).
    GUEST: Door number 4? You never said anything about a door number 4. I’ve been watching this ***** show for ten years and there was never a door number 4. You @#$%@% @$%@$%, I’m gonna kill you!
    MC: (ducking and running) We’ll be back after this brief commercial break.

    That seems to align with your description of “free will.” Since in this case decision-making is shackled by a lack of information, I do not see how it qualifies as “free.”

    This brings us back to your decision to call yourself an agnostic rather than atheist. Since your stated reasons don’t hold up even under the most cursory examination, there must be another cause. Could it be that you really really want to believe? Because “wishful thinking” does not qualify as rational discourse in my book.

  • #359 clinteas
    June 4, 2008

    //Does God have free will, and if not, how come he gets to dole it out?//

    No dog is needed to explain free will,and since there is no dog to start with,theres no doling out happening either…

  • #360 Fatboy
    June 4, 2008

    I haven’t ready the last hundred or so comments, so maybe this thread has completely veered off the original subject of Tingley’s essay, but I think an old Onion article from a few years ago sums up his position quite nicely:
    http://www.theonion.com/content/node/27594

  • #361 Vic
    June 4, 2008

    I thought the smell thing was just smelling all the BS spewed by the theists/apologists and trolls infecting the thread.

  • #362 themadlolscientist
    June 4, 2008

    Since He’s omniscient, He knows there cannot possibly be anyone above Himself, so therefore God must personally be an atheist.

    dave wins teh intart00bz 2dai!

    (Oh, and the chocolate mousse biz isn’t bad either.)

  • #363 Iain Walker
    June 4, 2008

    kcrady (Comment #318):

    Which means, you can’t trust your heart either, because the Hidden God must mislead your heart-sense for the same reason it has to hide from telescopes.

    Nicely put.

    Although what Tingley says he actually means by “hiding”, is: “trying-to-be-found-only-by-the-free-man, the man who has muscled up with virtues and risen to the point of readiness for him, genuine readiness to know.”

    No, I don’t know what that means either, but it’s mildly intriguing that the way Tingley and other theists talk, there’s a blithe assumption that if one truly engages the “heart-sense”, then one will indeed find (or obtain knowledge of) God. The possibility that one might not never seems to occur to them (or to the extent that it does, their response boils down to “You’re not trying hard enough”). It takes a lot of gall to claim knowledge based on an approach in which all positive results are true and all negative results are false, when it doesn’t even have a method of distinguishing the two.

  • #364 clinteas
    June 4, 2008

    @madlol

    For an accurate lolspeak analysis of how to use variations of the word internet,also see Abbie’s table here…
    http://scienceblogs.com/erv/2008/06/blaaaaaaaaag_rollllllll.php

  • #365 dNorrisM
    June 4, 2008

    Walton @322.
    Here ya go:

    The atrocious crime of being a young man, which the honorable gentleman has with such spirit and decency charged upon me, I shall neither attempt to palliate nor deny; but content myself with wishing that I may be one of those whose follies may cease with their youth, and not that number who are ignorant in spite of experience.

    -William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham

    NOTE: This quote was also used by Dr. R.V. Jones during WWII

  • #366 Susan
    June 4, 2008

    god exists, but (I can scarcely believe he makes this argument seriously) he’s hiding

    363 comments and no one has mentioned Randy Newman’s brilliant song yet?! What’s wrong with you people? Written 40 years ago, and just as edgy today as then; he’s pure genius. His new album out in August has a song called “Harps and Angels” and it’s going to be goooood.

  • #367 quork
    June 4, 2008

    The atrocious crime of being a young man, which the honorable gentleman has with such spirit and decency charged upon me, I shall neither attempt to palliate nor deny; but content myself with wishing that I may be one of those whose follies may cease with their youth, and not that number who are ignorant in spite of experience.
    -William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham

    This would be a perfect quote for Obama to use.

  • #368 quork
    June 4, 2008

    Although what Tingley says he actually means by “hiding”, is: “trying-to-be-found-only-by-the-free-man, the man who has muscled up with virtues and risen to the point of readiness for him, genuine readiness to know.”

    All this talk of “muscling up” must be real appealing to the Ted Haggard type of Christian.

  • #369 windy
    June 4, 2008

    Although what Tingley says he actually means by “hiding”, is: “trying-to-be-found-only-by-the-free-man, the man who has muscled up with virtues and risen to the point of readiness for him, genuine readiness to know.”

    I think the Narnia movies do a great job unintentionally showing how absurd the “hiding God” idea is: it’s so much more ridiculous when the lion-Jesus is actually shown sneaking and hiding in the bushes while people need his help, since he must wait until the little girl with the pure heart finds him.

  • #370 SC
    June 4, 2008

    quork,

    See my comment at #6 :).

  • #371 David Marjanovi?, OM
    June 4, 2008

    I have only read to comment 121, so I expect that the following two comments have already been made — but they certainly bear repeating:

    ————–

    1. It is proposed that a being has maximal excellence in a given possible world W if and only if it is omnipotent, omniscient and wholly good in W; and
    2. It is proposed that a being has maximal greatness if it has maximal excellence in every possible world.
    3. Maximal greatness is possibly exemplified. That is, it is possible that there be a being that has maximal greatness. (Premise)
    4. Therefore, possibly it is necessarily true that an omniscient, omnipotent and perfectly good being exists.
    5. Therefore, it is necessarily true that an omniscient, omnipotent and perfectly good being exists. (By S5)
    6. Therefore, an omniscient, omnipotent and perfectly good being exists.

    Two words: Gaunilo’s Island.

    I mean, please.

    —————-

    kcrady (comment 100) for Molly.

  • #372 woozy
    June 4, 2008

    I think the Narnia movies do a great job unintentionally showing how absurd the “hiding God” idea is: it’s so much more ridiculous when the lion-Jesus is actually shown sneaking and hiding in the bushes while people need his help, since he must wait until the little girl with the pure heart finds him.

    I don’t think C.S. Lewis would have bought the God is hiding because he want you to be free in faith. I think he thought God *would* be evident if you looked. I got more of the feeling this scene in the book was Man must solve his own problems and come to God willingly and earnestly before God could/would intervene. The athiest/rationalist has every oppurtunity to see and find got but it’s entirely up to him if he *accepts* it. Which Trumpkin the dwarf-atheist was very scared and very unwilling to do but did but the dwarves in the stable (in The Last Battle) were not.

    In fact, seems to me Lewis would hate the idea of a “hiding God”. He believed atheists made their own disbelief (and their own hell) by actively refusing to accept God when God puts himself plainly in sight.

    Well, for what it’s worth I find that argument more pallettable and rational than hiding God. Of course, it isn’t a convincing “argument” of anything. I guess it means “no-one can make you believe anything; that’s entirely up to you; here is the world; make of it what you will.” To which I guess I respond “Okay, I will and I have”

  • #373 Ichthyic
    June 4, 2008

    You know, Walton, if you want to be called a pompous ass, you only have to ask.

    LOL

  • #374 Ichthyic
    June 4, 2008

    A mousse once bit my sister…

    Was she carving her initials on it at the time, with the sharpened end of an interspace toothbrush?

  • #375 flo
    June 4, 2008

    Hi ho jolly chaps,

    Wow, this comment will be a drop in the proverbial bucket. Anyway, I’m one of those sit-the-fencers everyone loves to hate – Christian, pretty sure prayer works, no great proof, believes in the process of evolution and all that, can’t figure out then where sin came from and therefore why we need a Savior, but believes in Jesus and the resurrection anyway. Rip me apart!

    I don’t know, maybe I’m logically challenged, but I can’t explain my experiences without invoking the supernatural or without the reality that having a relationship with God – yes that actually involves talking – makes me a better person than when I am not active in that relationship. Maybe faith in God really is some evolutionary joke, like love which is actually lust – something ordinary and “survival-of-the-fittest”ish cloaking itself as something transcendental. I don’t know. All I know is, I’m better off with my beliefs than without them. And I’m still working on the rational part. And I would never call myself and apologist – what a lame word!

    Cheers!

  • #376 Ichthyic
    June 4, 2008

    But since I’m not a woman and have never, in fact, engaged in sexual intercourse (not that this is anyone’s business here)

    LOL

    How can anyone take this guy seriously?

    dude, you should think about becoming a comedian when you grow up.

  • #377 Ichthyic
    June 4, 2008

    I’m better off with my beliefs than without them.

    and you would know that… how?

  • #378 CJO
    June 4, 2008

    I don’t know, maybe I’m logically challenged, but I can’t explain my experiences without invoking the supernatural or without the reality that having a relationship with God – yes that actually involves talking – makes me a better person than when I am not active in that relationship.
    I missed the supernatural in there. You talk to yourself, probably do some introspection, you work through some things, you feel better, you treat other people better. Perfectly natural.

  • #379 ndt
    June 4, 2008

    Maybe faith in God really is some evolutionary joke, like love which is actually lust – something ordinary and “survival-of-the-fittest”ish cloaking itself as something transcendental.

    Bingo, in my opinion.

    Like a previous commentor, I would like to know how you know that you are better off with faith than without it? How did you reach that conclusion?

    BTW, I don’t hate Christians like you, and I doubt many here do. You know who hates Christians like you? Fundamentalists. They think you’re “luke warm” or a “cafeteria Christian”. What baffles me is why this hatred from fundamentalists doesn’t seem to bother Christians like you.

  • #380 Jesse
    June 4, 2008

    @Walton, 324:

    But since I’m not a woman and have never, in fact, engaged in sexual intercourse

    NO WONDER YOU’RE SO FUCKED UP!

  • #381 ildi
    June 4, 2008

    I just had to pile on before I have to run catch the bus:

    Walton, not getting laid turns you into an ANGRY FEMINIST!

    (oh, maybe that’s just women…)

  • #382 Owlmirror
    June 4, 2008

    having a relationship with God – yes that actually involves talking

    Have you read comment #178 above?

    It might be that simply talking to yourself as if you were talking to another person makes you feel good.

  • #383 Ichthyic
    June 4, 2008

    Walton, not getting laid turns you into an ANGRY FEMINIST!

    No, Walton! don’t listen!

    all of us here have been laid, and just look what it’s done to us!

    never EVER have sex.

    seriously.

    besides…

    http://home.earthlink.net/~tjneal/stupid.wav

  • #384 heliobates
    June 4, 2008

    @ 375

    but I can’t explain my experiences without invoking the supernatural or without the reality that having a relationship with God

    Could that possibly be a problem with your explanatory models?

    Why do all Christians rampantly generalize about everything based on their personal experience? It’s like the anthropic principle run amok.

  • #385 Ichthyic
    June 4, 2008

    Why do all Christians rampantly generalize about everything based on their personal experience? It’s like the anthropic principle run amok.

    the term you are looking for is:

    projection

    you also will often find it paired with denial.

    …and will not find it in ALL xians, but most, and certainly in ALL creationists.

    they’re standard psychological defense mechanisms employed to maintain a disparate set of worldviews.

  • #386 Wowbagger
    June 4, 2008

    Brownian, OM at #340 wrote:

    It can be a natural and zesty enterprise.

    Well, I can guess what happens next – he fixes the cable.

    /lebowski>

  • #387 Matt
    June 4, 2008

    #375 “can’t figure out then where sin came from and therefore why we need a Savior, but believes in Jesus and the resurrection anyway.”

    Why do you believe then? Pascal’s Wager? Have you actually thought about where sin comes from (maybe it’s made up by the religious elite as a way to control subordinates, *insert other theories here*)? Why just accept it? I don’t understand how you can believe in something you don’t understand. Do you search for the answers to your questions?

    I am convinced if more people actually just sat and thought about this stuff, religious belief would disappear.

  • #388 Matt
    June 4, 2008

    BTW, I’m not trying to rip you apart, I genuinely want to know. “Because I think it makes me a better person” doesn’t cut it.

  • #389 windy
    June 4, 2008

    I don’t know, maybe I’m logically challenged, but I can’t explain my experiences without invoking the supernatural or without the reality that having a relationship with God – yes that actually involves talking – makes me a better person than when I am not active in that relationship

    flo, see comment #178

  • #390 Kel
    June 4, 2008

    My response to the aforementioned article:
    http://kelosophy.blogspot.com/2008/06/true-scepticism.html

  • #391 Carlie
    June 4, 2008

    Thought experiment for flo – if you had been raised in another culture, say, with Hindu gods, do you think you feel exactly the same way, but with invoking an entire other set of supernatural and having an entirely different type of relationship with that supernatural?

    And as for being a better person – I know this is a hard one (I used to be a hard-core fundamentalist), but go over the list of what you mean by “better person” when you’re active with God. I’d bet ten dollars that an awful lot of it is a catch-22 that goes right back to reinforcing the religion in the first place. List all of the actions and attitudes that prove you are a “better person” when you’re right with God. Now go through that list and cross out anything self-referential to religion; your church attendance goes up? Not a definition of a better person, just of a tighter relationship with that god. Tithing resumes? Same. Volunteering to teach Sunday School? Same again. Praying more? Same. Take off everything that relates to church or to talking to God more, and see what’s left. At best, I think you’d find that perhaps you’re more calm, less likely to start fights with other people, more open and empathetic towards others, less selfish. Those are all ways of being a ‘better person’ that can be achieved through other means than talking to God.

  • #392 Cheezits
    June 5, 2008

    All I know is, I’m better off with my beliefs than without them.

    How do you know?

    All *I* know is that I’m better off without them. Who’s right?

  • #393 MB
    June 5, 2008

    I don’t know who wins the thread, but Brownian in 186 and then Goatboy in 302 made my night!

  • #394 Scott Scheule
    June 5, 2008

    I’ve little respect for the new atheists, but nonetheless, that piece by Tingley is a load of purple nonsense.

    By the way, Vox charges P.Z. with being too cowardly to debate him on the existence of God, as opposed to weaker targets. I’m an atheist, so obviously Day doesn’t sway me, but I think it’s fairly clear he’s more intelligent than Tingley–at least he produces better arguments. So, so far as Myers has ignored Day and gone after Tingley, then Day’s correct that Myers is concentrating on the weak, and his denial of so doing is false.

  • #395 toothy
    June 5, 2008

    By all means, please let us see you debate Vox, Mr. Myers.

  • #396 Kagehi
    June 6, 2008

    The court system recognizes that its possible for someone to be “lucid” and still be “irrational”. Tingley can’t string coherent arguments together, so he is not lucid. Vox can, which make his lucid. Sadly for both, neither are not exactly dripping in logic and reason. PZ has torn apart Vox’s stuff on more than a few occasions, as have others. We should debate every fruit loop with a website that “sounds” like he can think and doesn’t drool when talking, even *after* debunking their arguments already? Afraid we would die of old age before we ever ran out of lucid, clear and well spoken delusional people, even if the majority seem to usually be neither.

  • #397 Scott Scheule
    June 6, 2008

    That does nothing to mitigate Vox’s charge that Myers picks the easy targets–what he denied.

  • #398 Dennis N
    June 6, 2008

    You have no respect for the new atheists? So you have to be a member for a certain amount of time before you get your decoder ring? God, I hate those nouveau riche. If only they’d gotten their money sooner, it’d be worth more! Perhaps you mean the authors and activists leading this new wave of atheism, Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, etc. Of course, we can’t assume that, because you didn’t say that.

  • #399 lostn
    June 8, 2008

    [quote]As for more Christians becoming athiests, I guess you could be right. But being raised in a Christian home doesn’t make you a Christian.[/quote]

    Ah, the no-true-scottsman fallacy flaring up again. Do tell us what a “christian” is exactly, and how you know that these atheists here were not true christians.

  • #400 Scott Scheule
    June 9, 2008

    I’m not sure what you’re trying to say, Dennis. But yes, Dennett, Hitchens, Dawkins, et al are who I meant by the new atheists.

    See for example, http://newatheists.org/, the first hit for a google search for “new atheists”.

  • #401 ndt
    June 9, 2008

    Vox Day is an extremely easy target. He’s also the guy who thinks women are not suited to be scientists, among other vile opinions.

  • #402 Kyrie Eleison
    June 11, 2008

    Mr. Myers, In your link, Tingley sites Pascal’s “Pensees”. Have you read the “Pensées”?

    If so, can you site a couple you find stronger or weaker?

  • #403 mustsee
    June 13, 2008

    his heart won over his head! fantastic

    http://vimeo.com/1104411

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