Pharyngula

I have encountered this pathetic rhetorical game so often…it’s one of Ray Comfort’s favorite tools. Christian goes up to a stranger, and says he’d like to play a “what if” game with you. What if there was a god, and the ten commandments were his rules? Do you agree that if they’re real, you’d deserve to go to hell? But look, Jesus says you don’t have to, if you believe in him! Isn’t that nice of him? It’s all a stupid con — they ask you to hypothetically accept their premises, then lead you through a script which they demand that you answer in agreement at every step, and then at the end of their absurd, comical series of weird demands, they tell you that you’ve agreed that Jesus is your savior. Every year at our county fair they have their “Are you going to heaven or hell” booth that tries to bamboozle kids with this spiel, and I thoroughly detest and despise them.

Todd Friel, one of those glassy-eyed glad-handing used-car-salesmen of the soul types, tried to pull this same routine on his radio show…on Christopher Hitchens. Listen as Hitchens simply refuses to follow the script, and keeps on bringing up objections to the sloppy logic of the radio show host. Friel can’t cope; he’s like a dumb robot who can’t comprehend anything outside the narrow scope of its programming, and keeps trying to shoo the Hitch back onto his preplanned track. Friel sounds like a fool, which is great, since he is one.

Part 1:

Part 2:

If you run into one of those “Heaven or Hell?” people, you now know what to do.

Comments

  1. #1 Justin
    April 11, 2009

    I usually give people like that the Look of Death, and they usually run away right quick! :)

  2. #2 Umair Rahat
    April 11, 2009

    NO NO, NO, NO, its not a robot but a creationist 3rd-rate standard nonfunctional script for winning arguments by false accusations for religion.

  3. #3 Daniel
    April 11, 2009

    This is hilarious! I’ve always been curious about how Hitchens would respond to the Ray Comfort Are-You-a-Good-Person game (or a variation of it)and it’s as amusing and satisfying as I always imagined it would be. Thanks for making my day,PZ.

  4. #4 Brownian
    April 11, 2009

    Me, to stranger at bus stop: “Hey, did you know talking to me is punishable by a punch to the mouth?”
    Stranger: “What? Why did you start talking to me then?”
    Me: “No worries though. I’ve come to save you from a punch to the mouth, for the low one-time cost of $5.”

    Now, is the above situation really any different then the bait and switch Christians claim God and Jesus are pulling?

  5. #5 Vasha
    April 11, 2009

    I’m with Daniel, this made my day.

  6. #6 Steven Carr
    April 11, 2009

    Why does Todd Friel keep talking, as though he wanted to make himself look as silly as possible?

  7. #7 Kobra
    April 11, 2009

    Why did they have 4 minutes of dead footage in that video? Like I want to stare at a picture of gloss-eyes and Hitchens for 4 minutes AFTER the recording is over.

  8. #8 Jay
    April 11, 2009

    Looks kind of like Dane Cook. Now I’m not sure who’s worse!

  9. #9 Lynna Howard
    April 11, 2009

    LOL. Hitchens is good with the quick comeback. He doesn’t hesitate on the lust question. Answer: “All the time.” On the adultery question: “None of your f**king business.”

    Friel thought he could make his points more logical by repeating them and by increasing the amount of conviction with which he delivered them. Nice to see that Hitchens paid attention to the content of the questions and remained completely unflustered by Friel’s hyper verbal stylings.

  10. #10 Cerberus
    April 11, 2009

    Ugh. I find it even worse in the pathetic trappings of game show that Todd kept trying to wrap it up in. No, you can’t answer honestly about the rights of parents and the upper class to own the people below them, it’s all just a game, you’re supposed to agree with me. WAHH! It’s rather obscene.

    I didn’t have anyone try this game until once when I was taking advantage of the sunny day to go reading on the grass and I found my method worked pretty well. I described all the good works and good personality of Douglas Adams and asked what God worth a hill of beans would send that man to Hell and no, he didn’t “secretly accept Christ”. I think I broke the poor kid with that one.

  11. #11 FierceGeekChick
    April 11, 2009

    Say what you will about his politics (I’m not a fan of his stand on the Iraq war), but there is no one who can put these smug, smarmy, self-righteous idiots in their place the way Hitchens does. I’d love to go out drinking with him.

  12. #12 Steven Carr
    April 11, 2009

    I finally figured out Todd’s message.

    Love Jesus, you scummy adulterous lying b***tard, or he’ll kill you.

  13. #13 Clinto
    April 11, 2009

    haha!

    “who gives a shit?”

    Hitchens wins all my internets for the week.

  14. #14 Burning Umbrella
    April 11, 2009

    The poor sap sounded so desperate by the end I could hear his teeth grinding together. Desperate and utterly lost.

  15. #15 Marc Abian
    April 11, 2009

    I’m not usually that impressed with Hitchens because he seems to forceful with his point and not willing to listen to others, but the same characteristic is just what’s called for in this instance. That made my day.

  16. #16 Jeff Lestina
    April 11, 2009

    Freil seems suprised that Hitchens thinks that ownership of people is a bad thing.

  17. #17 Wallace Finch
    April 11, 2009

    That was awesome. Not the biggest fan of Hitchens overall, but still the “none of your fucking business” line was priceless.

  18. #18 Doug Little
    April 11, 2009

    As Carl would say on ATHF,

    “That was friggin awesome”

  19. #19 Bren
    April 11, 2009

    I’ve been having a really good day and that *still* made it better.

    It was quite wonderful, particularly because Hitchens didn’t even seem to be trying especially hard.

  20. #20 arachnophilia
    April 11, 2009

    i’ve generally found hitchens a rather clueless twit when it comes to religion and his commentary on it. not out of support of religion, just… objectively. but it’s incredible how intelligent he sounds next to this clown.

    and i just love that he called him on “not if you believe in the god of the old testament.” what with eternal damnation simply not being a part of judaism, and never mentioned in the old testament. (“hell,” btw, is. so he’s technically wrong. but he’s right because it means something very different. so i’ll let it go.)

    but what i would have loved to see him call this guy on, even more than that, was god’s name. when he’s trying to charge him with taking god’s name in vain, he uses “G.D.” as an example, which i can only guess means “god damn.”

    this is neither god’s name, nor necessarily a vain use. the prophets of the old testament damned people all the time, in god’s name. it’s a curse, not a wasteful use. what friel is doing, of course, might be seen as vanity. i would have turned it right back on him. and second, nobody here is using god’s name: yahweh. god’s name is not “god.” you’d have to be incredibly unfamiliar with the bible, theology, hebrew, etc to even think that.

  21. #21 Giffy
    April 11, 2009

    I usually just say “I’m a Jew, we killed that fucker for a reason”. That generally shuts them up long enough for me to escape.

    But when I decide to engage them I am going to try and remember what he says here.

    The man is a genius.

  22. #22 Bob Kamper
    April 11, 2009

    Interesting. I just saw this Pew Research Poll on Christians’ belief in the second coming:
    http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1187/poll-christians-jesus-second-coming-timing

    Which poses the following “what if?” responses?
    What if Jesus comes back?
    Will He be arrested for the rape of his mother and for fathering himself?
    Counseled for having been a child born of incest and out of wedlock?
    Diagnosed as multiple personality disorder (Father Son and Holy Spirit)?
    Held for observation due to his apparent suicidal tendencies (suicide by cop – he could have avoided the death penalty by denying his claim to the throne)?
    Incarcerated in a detention center without contact due to his anti-oonstitutional views regarding separation of church and state and apparent aim to overthrow the government and replace it with a religious kingdom with him in charge?
    Will he honor a verbal contract made by a minor child under pressure from adults? Cause if he will, I’m already saved, thank you very much.
    And if not, will he be arrested by the bunko squad this time? And if not Him, why aren’t the evangelical churches under investigation by the bunko squads?
    Just a few what if questions…

  23. #23 Steven Carr
    April 11, 2009

    But God gives you lots of nice things, so naturally he is going to burn you in Hell, if you use his name wrongly.

    After all, God loves you, and doesn’t want you to use his name wrongly, so he will burn you in Hell for all eternity if you do.

    That is the very definition of love, and atheists can’t see that.

  24. #24 Daniel de Rauglaudre
    April 11, 2009

    What if x²+x+1=0 and x?R ?
    x(x+1)=-1 and x+1=-x²
    Therefore x³=1 and since x?R, x=1
    Puting x back to the initial equality gives 3=0

  25. #25 John C. Welch
    April 11, 2009

    “I’m not sure you actually know what you’re talking about”

    I love that he brings up *the bible* to refute this idiot.

  26. #26 Brownian
    April 11, 2009

    What Freil does here is a fantastic example of ‘begging the question.’ The conclusion is presupposed in every question.

    “What if Jesus knew you’d spend every calorie fighting against him, and he died for you anyway?”

    The thing is, the option of Jesus dying for only those who would relish it was never given (and really, any God worthy of the name would have a way of pulling that off). What many theists don’t seem to understand is that we understand the ‘deal’ they’re claiming very well. We don’t need it explained to us any more (especially those of us who once were theists). What they need to understand is that we’d opt out of the deal for moral and ethical reasons, even if we did believe it.

    You can spend all the time you want trying to convince everyone the Christian god exists, but you’ll never be able to successfully argue that he’s not an ass, unworthy of worship.

  27. #27 AnneH
    April 11, 2009

    I think that the ‘Jesus DIED to save you! He sacrificed himself for you’ argument is a very passive-aggressive, guilt-inducing, frakking manipulative way to assert ownership of someone’s choices.

  28. #28 Patricia, OM
    April 11, 2009

    We can expect this to get to a fever pitch with

    Keester Sunday

    right around the corner. I’ve already had one flier left on my door inviting me to let gawd into my heart.

  29. #29 Janine, Insulting Sinner
    April 11, 2009

    This gets back to one the things that bugs me most about religions that has the idea of eternal reward and eternal punishment. Why does the creator need to have underlings who are constantly praising (groveling) to it? Why would I desire to go through suffering and pain and following the arbitrary rules of an owner just so I may forever say how good the creator is. What do I get out of being a myna bird?

  30. #30 Brownian
    April 11, 2009

    Hmm, I hadn’t considered the proximity of Easter, Patricia. That would explain the recycle bin full of JW tracts below the mailboxes in my apartment.

  31. #31 co
    April 11, 2009

    #24: Why are you assuming that equation has any real roots? It doesn’t. You’ve introduced a parasitic solution to the cubic equation.

  32. #32 Buckeye70
    April 11, 2009

    That was brilliant. I agree with FierceGeekChick that a night of drinks would be great fun…

    This made my day.

  33. #33 Asemodeus
    April 11, 2009

    Hitchens missed a golden opportunity here. On the basis of the ten commandments when the theist had to revert over to the NT and jesus in order to make his argument about going to hell. Since when jesus mentions the ten commandments in the NT, he only lists the 6 secular ones. So if Todd was going to use jesus as a means to show off the ten commandments, it actually does us atheists better then to refer it in the OT.

    So Todd actually made our position better in the eyes of the lord without realizing it.

    Just look it up in Matthew 19:17-19.

    Also this is an excellent way to trick theists into disagreeing with the bible, since we all know that theists don’t actually read the book. Just ask them which commandments jesus took to be the most important, and then watch them make the critical mistake by listing all ten of them. Extreme funny will sure to follow as you correct them on this.

  34. #34 Bob O'H
    April 11, 2009

    It sounds like Friel says “This is Wretched Radio” at the end.

  35. #35 MZ
    April 11, 2009

    “So you’ve broken the commandment of Thou Shalt Not Murder” LOL

  36. #36 Atticus
    April 11, 2009

    I loved his answer on ‘what if Jesus died for you’.

    I always tell people I’ve taken ‘back’ my baptism, because I don’t but into the idea that people can make an eternally binding choice for me when I’m all of four months old. What, if any, eternal bindings there are, I would like to decide for myself, thank you very much.

  37. #37 Hammy
    April 11, 2009

    I think Hitchens missed an important point when talking about murder and adultery: if his being guilty of murder and adultery in his heart means he’s broken the 10 commandments and is going to hell, then God is guilty of prosecuting thoughtcrime.

  38. #38 Otto
    April 11, 2009

    Now that was fun!
    Just right for Easter.

  39. #39 JD
    April 11, 2009

    *What if* Friel drools on the easter eggs?

  40. #40 NewEnglandBob
    April 11, 2009

    A perfect example of the wastefulness of religious thought and activity. As Hichens says: Religion poisons everything”

  41. #41 Alan B
    April 11, 2009

    This mainly crops up in the UK from door-to-door religious “salesmen”, particluarly Jehovah’s Witnesses and, less often,Mormons.

    My ploy is to hand back immediately what they give me, ask them point blank who they are (usually it’s obvious but many of them don’t like to say) so it knocks them off their prepared script. That to me is the key. They have been trained word perfect in classes so anything that takes them out of the script makes it easier to close out in a friendly way.

    My current ploy is to smile in a friendly manner and say something like I know what you believe and I know what I believe. I suggest you move on because you’ll be wasteing your time. Goodbye.

    Works fine and everybody stays friendly.

  42. #42 Justin
    April 11, 2009

    I have an issue with Jesus “sacrificing” himself, it’s the biggest con ever (if it was true).

    Let’s just say that I’m going to torture you, and then my partner (Jesus IS God afterall), comes along and says “Listen, I’ll go talk to Justin so he won’t torture you but in return you gotta give me 50 bucks a week).

    That’s not kindness, that’s coercion, any agreement is made under duress!

  43. #43 Sastra
    April 11, 2009

    I suspect Friel was, on the whole, very pleased with the interview, and not the least bit flummoxed (though he should be.) Chances are he’s so steeped in the assumptions of his belief system that he (and his listeners) would only have seen Hitchens as confirming the stereotype of the angry atheist who doesn’t want to bow down to his loving Father. At the end, when Friel asks something like “would you say that the reason you reject God is because you don’t want to have to obey Him” and Hitchens confirms this, you can hear the jubilation in his voice. “That’s exactly the answer I was hoping and expecting! Thankee much!”

    All the talk about the immorality of one person owning another would have been blithely ignored for the paydirt: Hitchens admits that he doesn’t believe in God because he’s got a rebellious nature. You heard it here, folks.

    But that wasn’t what Hitchens was saying at all. That last question about God’s existence being “made plain” by observing nature is a clear departure from the whole “okay, just assume this is true for the sake of argument” premise of the game show. The not wanting to obey had to do with refusing to accept that God is Good, not that God exists in the first place. Bait ‘n switch.

  44. #44 Ryk
    April 11, 2009

    I once followed a very similar vein with an evangelist. I ended up stating that yes I would deserve to be sent to hell for failing to properly flatter his tyrannical deity, and would be happy to do so because no decent person would ever worship such an evil god.

    Since then I have had occasion to use that argument whenever the various “what ifs” or “pascals wager” arguments come up. I have in fact just used similar arguments on Comforts blog. I realize it is pointless to post on Comforts blog, but it is addictive and occasionally I get the pleasure of making a fundy foam at the mouth.

  45. #45 Greg Esres
    April 11, 2009

    Friel is definitely extremely obnoxious, but I don’t think that Hitchens handled him very well. To be fair, even entering into an agreement to play this game immediately put Hitchens into an difficult position, because he had to give away his trump card from the very get-go, which is that Friel’s suppositions are NOT true.

    The best strategy of the non-religious is NEVER grant the religious their suppositions; the moment you do, you agree to go to la-la land with them, where your “facts” aren’t any better than their “facts.” This is a common fault with Hitchens in debate, who seems to enjoy discussing theology.

  46. #46 Beth
    April 11, 2009

    That was probably the most hilarious thing I’ve ever heard.

  47. #47 Skeptico
    April 11, 2009


    ?If Jesus took the punishment that you deserve? wouldn?t that be the single greatest act of kindness..?

    ..to save me from an eternity of torture in hell that he (God) had decided to send me to ? based on rules he (God) had made up all by himself that he didn?t have to follow anyway if he didn?t want to?  I (God) suffered torture on the cross that I allowed and in fact planned, so now if you worship me I won?t torture you in the hell that I can freely choose to send you to (or not)? No, actually I?d say that was a disgusting piece of manipulative passive-aggressive bullying.

  48. #48 Hank Roberts
    April 11, 2009

    ” … God is Kim Jung Il … ”

    “… Ownership is a bad thing?”
    “Of people, yes.”

    “We’re just playing a little fantasy game here.”
    (That was the interviewer, losing it.)

  49. #49 MikeMa
    April 11, 2009

    Friel is quite a tool. Hitchens gets a gold start for even playing the stupid game. I could not even begin to play for fear of my violent reactions to such drivel.

    All through college I had a sign on the door: Hail Zeus. It confused the JWs and other zealots and kept them out of my way. They are a waste of oxygen.

  50. #50 John Swindle
    April 11, 2009

    Bob O’H – He did say “wretched radio”… I googled his name because I just could not be sure Hitchens hadn’t staged the whole thing – like the Harlem Globetrotters hiring a team of losers to help with their road show. This Friel person is really as he seems in the vids… perfect for Hitchens’ brand of dismemberment. When Hitchens is like this, it makes up for all the times he’s been a total jerk.

  51. #51 Asemodeus
    April 11, 2009

    I had mormons come to my door last year. The way I dealt with them is exactly how I deal with any other theist, I call them out on their bullshit. What then followed was the usual list of fallacious thinking and outright nonsense, as I easily refuted all of it right in front of them. It got so bad for them that they excused themselves and walked away from ME. Oh sure I know better to assume that refuting their entire world view didn’t do a lick of good, but at least it was fun for me!

  52. #52 Frank Oswalt
    April 11, 2009

    Damn, Christopher Hitchens is a smooth son of a bitch! I knew he was good, but that was spectacular…

  53. #53 Hank Roberts
    April 11, 2009

    Part 2 is “no longer available” –??

  54. #54 homostoicus
    April 11, 2009

    Arachnophilia, you said “i’ve generally found hitchens a rather clueless twit when it comes to religion and his commentary on it.” Yet, he recognized Paul’s words when Friel quoted him. How many godbots can do that? It’s kind of hard to argue that he is clueless about religion. In fact, from what I have seen and read, he tends to know more about the big three religions than the so-called religious scholars he debates.

  55. #55 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    April 11, 2009

    Why does Todd Friel keep talking, as though he wanted to make himself look as silly as possible?

    Why does Friel keep on using “Sir..Sir…Sir…Sir…Sir…”

    Makes me sirly listening to it. Hate the word sir used to obsession like that.

  56. #56 Standard curve
    April 11, 2009

    I had a hard time listening to this because the host’s voice and personality grate me too much, but it was worth it.

  57. #57 Dinah
    April 11, 2009

    Brilliant. It’s frightening how brainwashed people can be.

  58. #58 Rey Fox
    April 11, 2009

    Notice that Hitchens was gracious enough to give the poor floundering host an easy out at the end. Does he really just want to live his life however he wants to and not be accountable to his creator? Well, of course he does, and he sees nothing wrong with that. So he gives the flat “yes” answer and you could hear the palpable relief in Friel’s voice as he thinks he’s really nailed this guy as a puppy-kicking nihlist.

    I think that’s your jealousy right there. Christians are taught all their life that they’re accountable to the big Sky Daddy, so they think “Hey, if we’re under His thumb, then why shouldn’t YOU be?”

    (P.S.: Does Hitchens’ views on the Iraq war have to come up EVERY time he’s mentioned?)

  59. #59 gyokusai
    April 11, 2009

    ?Does that sound like you, Sir??
    ?No, it sounds like St. Paul.?

    Priceless.

    Thanks for posting this PZ, a great Easter present. It?s so much fun. For the whole family!

  60. #60 Hank Roberts
    April 11, 2009

    Part 2 is back now.

  61. #61 Skeptico
    April 11, 2009

    Let?s plan what if some more:

    What if god exists but he isn?t the Christian god?  What if this real god despises Christians for following the false Christian god and decides that all Christians are heretics who he will send to burn in hell for all eternity?  Wouldn?t you agree that all Christians will go to hell?

  62. #62 Clemens
    April 11, 2009

    Good arguing from Hitchens. Atheists don’t have to say “Religion might be good, but that doesn’t make it true”. This would be an argument strong enough. But “Religion is absolutely not good and I’m glad that it’s not true”.

  63. #63 Menyambal
    April 11, 2009

    I’ve often thought that whole “taking the Lord’s name in vain” business is crock. It sounds to me like it doesn’t mean swearing, but refers to false Christians. I compare it to a woman taking a man’s name, then cheating on him. Besides, when everybody that I know swears, we say “God”, which is a descriptor, not “Yahu-Wahu” or whatever the proper name is. And “Jesus” is the gay Greek version of “Yeshua” or whatever, so how could anybody be mis-using a name?

    Hitchens for the win, but not for the kill. He did real good for a live interview, especially considering that nothing was going to change the interviewer’s mind.

  64. #64 Jafafa Hots
    April 11, 2009

    I guess it wouldn’t work on me, because I’d never be agreeing that based on any standard whatsoever I would deserve to go to hell. Eternal torture? I can’t say I can think of ANYONE who deserves it. Eternity is a pretty long time.

  65. #65 KY Yellow Dog
    April 11, 2009

    I like to give ‘em a big smile, lean in close (preferably with bourbon on my breath), tell them my coven needs a human sacrifice for the next Thirteenth Day Satanic Sabbath, and proseletyzers are the BEST.

    Or if they’re your same sex, tell ‘em how much talkin’ jayzus TURNS YOU ON. If they persist, just reach for the cookies.

    Utterly despicable how they play on the natural human urge to be a good person to force others into their moral torture chamber.

  66. #66 bastion of sass
    April 11, 2009

    At #34, Bob O’H wrote:

    It sounds like Friel says “This is Wretched Radio” at the end.

    He probably did. “Wretched Radio” is the name of Friel’s radio show. He also apparently appears on Wretched TV. And you can shop at his Wretched Store, join his Wretched Club, submit a Wretched Vote in one of his polls, or even take a Wretched Vacation with him (one of his Wretched Events).

    Seldom have I seen a name so apropos.

  67. #67 hubris hurts
    April 11, 2009

    After listening to this, I want to have Christopher Hitchens’ baby…

  68. #68 Asemodeus
    April 11, 2009

    #65.

    You can do better then that. Just answer the door naked and ask them if they want to join in on the weekly orgy.

  69. #69 ChrisKG
    April 11, 2009

    Is there an MP3 of this?

  70. #70 Menyambal
    April 11, 2009

    Hitchens did let the guy off at the end, which may have been a good move as far as seeming to be a nice person. But I so much wanted him to point out how much the interviewer was projecting. When a Christian says, “You just want . . .”, something weird is going to come out–either what the Christian envies, or what he fears.

    Otherwise, massive stomp.

    “We are playing a fantasy game.”

  71. #71 Peter Mc
    April 11, 2009

    University: knock at the door. I glance through peephole. D2@ Christers. I prepare to give ‘em, the barrels. “No”, says flatmate, and strips off to naught but his pink briefs and dead grandmother’s amber necklace. He is very thin, pale and looks alien.

    Opens door. Look on Christers’ faces wonderful. They stammer out opening lines. “No thanks,” he says, “we’re Buddhists.”

    They flee.

  72. #72 Janeothejungle
    April 11, 2009

    Friel – Well I’m not sure that god is Kim Jong Il.
    Hitch – Well Ask Kim Jong Il, he has a different opinion.

    I laughed out loud at these clips. Thanks for brightening my day.

  73. #73 Jody
    April 11, 2009

    In answer to the whole But what if Jesus died for you… aren’t you obligated to him? question, I’ve always enjoyed saying

    “But what if I took a dump for you in the bathroom. Aren’t you now obligated to wipe my ass?”

    That usually works. I’m not sure if it’s because of the greatness of the argument or the image it invokes.

  74. #74 Capital Dan
    April 11, 2009

    How many times did that simpering host say “We’re playing a game here?” I lost count, but it was damn funny hearing him try to put his little nonsense back on the rails after Hitchen’s knocked them off with nothing more difficult than three or four words.

  75. #75 madrone
    April 11, 2009

    “We’re just playing a little fantasy game here.”

    With this, Mr Friel came extremely close to recognizing the central theme of his wretched life.

  76. #76 Screechy Monkey
    April 11, 2009

    “I finally figured out Todd’s message.

    Love Jesus, you scummy adulterous lying b***tard, or he’ll kill you.”

    It’s amazing how accurate a summary “Kissing Hank’s Ass” is.

  77. #77 Kate
    April 11, 2009

    “We’re just playing a little fantasy game here.”

    The perfect response to that:

    “Yes, of course you are, that’s the point I’ve been trying to make to *you*”

  78. #78 Sven DiMilo
    April 11, 2009

    “But what if I took a dump for you in the bathroom. Aren’t you now obligated to wipe my ass?”

    But(t)…I didn’t have to go!

  79. #79 Frank Voeth
    April 11, 2009

    For the person who asked, here is the mp3 Version of this talk

    Hitchens Radio Show MP3

  80. #80 scrabcake
    April 11, 2009

    Yeah. I didn’t even need the blog entry to look at the picture of that guy and conclude “fundie wanker.” It’s the toothy grin and the spiked hair.
    As an aside, when a Jesusy song comes on the radio, I like to pretend they’re referring to Sydney Carton. It gives the song more literary cred.

  81. #81 Kristine
    April 11, 2009

    I just say three things:

    “I don’t believe in something that is not true.”

    “Whether your fantasy character called God puts me in Heaven or Hell is irrelevant, because you’re describing an abusive relationship, one that I refuse.”

    “By who’s authority is God God?”

    The last one particularly freaks them out.

  82. #82 FatherNature
    April 11, 2009

    Bastion of Sass #66 -

    Thanks for clearing that up. I heard it as “ratshit radio”…which made perfect sense.

  83. #83 Dianne
    April 11, 2009

    I felt sorry for Friel by 2 minutes in. Hitchens needs to pick on someone closer to his own intellectual ability. That having been said, I loved it!

  84. #84 ChrisKG
    April 11, 2009

    Thank you Frank. It’s downloading now.

  85. #85 Owen
    April 11, 2009

    Please crash this poll, pretty please with sugar on it.

    Do you think Iowa legislators should allow voters to decide whether to amend the state Constitution regarding the right to same-sex marriage?

    http://www.gazetteonline.com/

  86. #86 Newfie
    April 11, 2009

    Friel brings his pea shooter to a howitzer fight. Too fucking dumb to learn his lesson though.

  87. #87 A.
    April 11, 2009

    I’ve not laughed this hard in a coon’s age. Hitchens is fantastic even when he’s sloppy but to hear him so sharp is the ultimate treat.

  88. #88 Sili
    April 11, 2009

    Jesus fucking christ, what a bore!

    (Amusingly Radio3 was just running the blurb for tomorrow’s performance of Händel’s Messiah as I was typing that.

    King of kings. Lord of lords. And he shall rein for ever and ever.)

  89. #89 Al Seever
    April 11, 2009

    Great stuff. Hitchens gave it to this guy really good.

  90. #90 Sastra
    April 11, 2009

    Kristine #81 wrote:

    “By who’s authority is God God?”
    The last one particularly freaks them out.

    Yes. This is similar to my question on “where does God get its authority?” — which also throws them off. Especially if you quote that “authority is derived from consent of the governed.” They end up having to argue against the foundations of constitutional democracy.

    I find it puzzling that Christians seem to think that a cosmic system built on blood feud, revenging honor, and parents “owning” their children is intuitively obvious, when, as products of the Enlightenment, they themselves are very quick to argue against all those things in real life.

    If I borrow one of your favorite cd’s and break it, then it’s fair for me to offer to get you a new one, or make it up to you in some comparable way. If you were to patiently explain that no, this will not work, because any action I did can’t be good enough to clean the wrongdoing away, this would be strange.

    If you then explained that one only expiates harmful actions by bleeding and ‘giving’ pain in exchange for pain, this would be alarming.

    Offering then to kindly avoid exacting this pain from me by torturing and killing your beloved cat, and calling the blood payment sufficient — and everything is now even between us — is terrifying. It does not reassure, nor does it inspire gratitude.

    Very few people in modern Western societies think this way in their ‘real life’ — certainly the happy, well-groomed Christian evangelical radio host would find this way of thinking bizarre. But put it into the familiar framework of Christianity, and suddenly of course that’s just the way it ought to be.

    They must be approaching it from a different part of the brain than the one they use in their actual relationships. If you are an outsider who has not already bought into this scenario from early childhood, it does not seem intuitively obvious: it strains credibility.

  91. #91 nothing's sacred
    April 11, 2009

    Final words: “What if this is wretched radio”

    No “what if” about it!

    @24
    That’s simply a proof by reductio ad adsurdum that x isn’t real.

  92. #92 Alex
    April 11, 2009

    They both looked like idiots.

  93. #93 Jay
    April 11, 2009

    Diggers should digg it:

    Radio Host Gets “HitchOWNED”

  94. #94 Owen
    April 11, 2009

    Ok, what the hell is wretched radio anyway? And what the hell was the point of that “What if” game?

  95. #95 DonRocko
    April 11, 2009

    Just look at Todd’s inane smile. It’s this dopey sad-looking grin I get from evangelicals all the time right when they think they’ve proven themselves right. It gets worse when they start swooning over Jesus.

  96. #96 Paulino
    April 11, 2009

    Gyokusai:

    ‘?Does that sound like you, Sir??
    ?No, it sounds like St. Paul.?
    Priceless.’

    ROFLMAO!!! I almost died breathless after that one!! oh man…

  97. #97 Citizen Z
    April 11, 2009

    Yes but we’re playing “What If”. What if… dead C’Thulhu really does wait dreaming in his house at R’yleh. What if… the Elder Gods do return?

    Wouldn’t you want to be eaten first?

  98. #98 Anonym
    April 11, 2009

    Hitchens book would be better titled simply ‘God is NOT!’ The statement ‘God is not good.’ invites the argument that ‘God’ is something else. ‘God is NOT!’ rightly closes such argument at the onset. Being atheist, I do not reject a purported real entity, ‘God’ (of which there is none) — I reject the idea, ‘God’ (which cannot be realized).

  99. #99 EnfantTerrible
    April 11, 2009

    I’m not a Hitch fan at all, but I really, really liked how he asked Friel if less fortunate people, people with debilitating illnesses, etc, were excused from thanking God.

  100. #100 nothing's sacred
    April 11, 2009

    “We’re just playing a little fantasy game here.”

    The perfect response to that:

    “Yes, of course you are, that’s the point I’ve been trying to make to *you*”

    CH did the equivalent by saying “I’m glad you agree it’s a game”.

    Friel, ever the arrogant ass, keeps reminding CH that it’s a game, but of course if CH weren’t playing along he would simply deny the antecedent of the conditional. It is Friel who repeatedly “forgets” to phrase his questions as conditionals.

    Here’s a simple “what if” for Friel: What if the creator of the universe hates above all else the propagation of the man-made myth of Christianity … should those who do so be tortured for all eternity?

  101. #101 Chris Richards
    April 11, 2009

    That was pretty amazing. It shows how many premises religious thinking rests on, and how crazy some of them are. Now, a good logician could admit that IF all these premises are true (and there’s a ton of them, all very controversial), then the argument is sound. But when those premises are obviously crazy or, better, obviously false, Hitchens comes out victorious.

  102. #102 chris
    April 11, 2009

    Let’s suppose his “death” had value to humanity, and we’ll call this
    value V. Further, since V is given to all humans, each person
    receives a fraction of V (their “fair share”.)

    If P people have been born after Jesus’ time (with some estimates
    being approximately 100 billion births), then each person’s fair share
    would be V/P. How much is this? The value today is approximately
    0.0000000001% what it used to be 2000 years ago, and dropping every
    second as new births occur.

    There is no such thing as a gift if it has an obligation, and so it
    was no gift at all. And why should we be grateful for him enslaving
    us with a worthless pseudo-gift, without even asking if we wanted it?

  103. #103 nothing's sacred
    April 11, 2009

    Hitchens book would be better titled simply ‘God is NOT!’

    Not given its content. You might want to read it to see what his point is.

    The statement ‘God is not good.’ invites the argument that ‘God’ is something else.

    Hitchens doesn’t make that statement. Didn’t you hear him correct Friel?

  104. #104 Phoenix Woman
    April 11, 2009

    Bob Kamper @ 22: Actually, when Jesus does the “Render unto Caesar” bit, that is actually his coming out in favor of separation of church and state. (Something to throw back at the Fundies who are rooting for a theocracy.) Jesus actually despised public displays of piety, for much the same reason: Religion was a private thing between you and the Lord, separate from the secular world. (That’s also why he drove the merchants from the temple. Yes, he’d take a very dim view of megachurches, the Vatican, and in fact most of the people who claim to be his biggest fans.)

    In fact, the Zealots were incredibly pissed at him precisely because he refused to get involved in secular politics; as he kept reminding them, his kingdom was not of this earth. (That’s also why Pontius Pilate didn’t want to execute him — he knew full well that Jesus was not in any way a direct threat to Rome’s authority.) They wanted him to be the figurehead at the front of their revolt against Rome, and he, for good or ill, refused the appointment. (A few decades after his death, the revolt occurred, the Romans crushed it with ease, and the Jews were sent on the Diaspora. Since many of them were also early Christians, this wound up turning both Judaism and Christianity into globe-spanning religions.)

  105. #105 tweetbirdie386sx
    April 11, 2009

    More new Hitchens…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8TKKBf–xR4

    He wasn’t quite so nice to that host as he was to Friel. (Dude tried justifying Biblical genocide. Hitchens wasn’t in the mood for it.)

  106. #106 Sastra
    April 11, 2009

    christ #102 wrote:

    There is no such thing as a gift if it has an obligation, and so it was no gift at all.

    Nor does it make any sense to say that God “allows us to choose” to disobey Him — and then exacts the just payment for this disobedience. Using that criteria, Genghis Khan was an enlightened ruler who regularly allowed his subjects their choice about bowing, or not, when he walked by. Of course, those who chose not to bow immediately got their heads chopped off by Imperial Guards, but you can’t say that Khan didn’t allow his subjects to remain standing when he walked by.

    Hitchens also pointed out that Jesus could not be said to have “died for our sins” if he’s still alive.

    It’s a game.

  107. #107 Rey Fox
    April 11, 2009

    Re: Wretched Radio

    Was rather surprised to find out that that’s really the name of his show. Perhaps they’re trying to claim the word for their own so that they don’t have to feel insulted when we call their moral system that. Sort of like how many of them are starting to refer to themselves proudly as “Jesus Freaks”. Perhaps it’s only a matter of time before we start hearing about “Idiot Radio” and “Weekly Grovelling”.

    Had to click through to that web site to check that name, and was also surprised to find that on their poll asking whether America is a “post-Christian” nation, the majority said yes. I’m sure they were sad about it, but I voted “yes” too, and happily. Check the archives for other amusing polls such as “Is Water Boarding a sin?” and “Should Christians watch American Idol?”.

  108. #108 slang
    April 11, 2009

    Whoa, talk about coming to a battle of wits unarmed! GG Hitch, pwnt!

  109. #109 Uncephalized
    April 11, 2009

    That guy is… wow. Incredibly annoying.

  110. #110 Mariana
    April 11, 2009

    @96

    +1

    That was the funniest moment in the whole thing. I’m still laughing at that.

  111. #111 Rodger T NZ
    April 11, 2009

    Magnificent, almost felt sorry for that xtian twat,totally pwned on every question.
    Must give Friel credit for not loosing his composure completely.

  112. #112 bfish
    April 11, 2009

    “Every year at our county fair they have their “Are you going to heaven or hell” booth that tries to bamboozle kids with this spiel”

    Really? They have this? That astounds me. Nothing like good clean fun at the County Fair. Can I get funnel cake with that?

  113. #113 Romeo Echo
    April 11, 2009

    I don’t know how anyone can listen to this complete jackass, Todd Friel, and not be immediately converted to atheism. Glad-handing car salesman hardly begins to describe it — he is so incredibly grating on so many levels…

    And can I just say, I’ve got a huge man-crush on Christopher Hitchens. I loved all of his answers, especially “none of your f***ing business” — classic!

  114. #114 MarkM
    April 11, 2009

    I love Hitchens:

    Friel: What if– We’re playing a game sir–
    Hitch: Well, I’m glad you think about it that way
    Friel: What if…

  115. #115 karen
    April 11, 2009

    It was all funny, but I spewed coffee when they got to this exchange:

    ?Does that sound like you, Sir??
    ?No, it sounds like St. Paul.?

    I see some others liked that one as well.

    Way to go, Hitch!

  116. #116 Rey Fox
    April 11, 2009

    “Must give Friel credit for not lOsing his composure completely.”

    I don’t think he has the self-awareness for that. He just doggedly sticks to the script, ’cause that’s his job.

    “Every year at our county fair they have their “Are you going to heaven or hell” booth that tries to bamboozle kids with this spiel”
    “Really? They have this? That astounds me.”

    I figure it’s at every fair. Lots of religious and political organizations have booths at my local fair. They’re pretty much all penned off in one of the exhibition buildings along with the infomercial stuff. Seems a decent arrangement.

    (By the way, does anyone know what button or button combination on Firefox 3 I keep hitting accidentally while posting to activate that damned MP3 plugin on this page?

  117. #117 blue
    April 11, 2009

    @96 That was a gem. Hitch got so many good digs in there I couldn’t help but laugh.

  118. #118 rnb
    April 11, 2009

    One argument I’ve always liked is why do we have to accept
    “Jesus’ sacrifice.” It didn’t work that way with the fall.

  119. #119 nothing's sacred
    April 11, 2009

    @104
    You left off the “what if”. The historical accuracy of biblical claims is not established.

  120. #120 Anonymous Coward
    April 11, 2009

    Couldn’t watch the second half, the interviewer is just to teeth-grindingly annoying. What strikes me most is that the interviewer refuses to play his own what-if game.

  121. #121 K.R.
    April 11, 2009

    “I’m not sure you know quite what you’re talking about.”

    Priceless.

  122. #122 nothing's sacred
    April 11, 2009

    Now, a good logician could admit that IF all these premises are true (and there’s a ton of them, all very controversial), then the argument is sound.

    No, a good logician couldn’t, because the argument isn’t valid.

    But when those premises are obviously crazy or, better, obviously false, Hitchens comes out victorious.

    Hitchens accepts the premises (plays the game) but points out that the conclusions don’t follow.

  123. #123 nothing's sacred
    April 11, 2009

    christ #102 wrote:

    Sastra, meet Freud.

  124. #124 Frank Voeth
    April 11, 2009

    You could hear in the tone of the “ah hu, yeah, uh, ok” reactions of the host, that he wasn`t really listening to Christopher`s answers. He was just following a script where it doesn`t matter what the other person says.

    The later “what ifs” couldn`t work, because Hitchens refuted the early ones (not wanting a human sacrifice, not thinking that this god would be good, saying that the 10 commandments are ridiculous,…).

    Most of Hitchens criticism and jokes weren`t noticed by the host and (that`s my guess) also not by most of his regular listeners (but I could be wrong).

  125. #125 nothing's sacred
    April 11, 2009

    They both looked like idiots.

    That comment makes you look like an idiot.

  126. #126 Reynold
    April 11, 2009

    The trouble I had with this, is while listening to that Friel idiot, I was almost too busy imagining my own take-downs of that clown to pay that much attention to what Hitchens was saying.

    For instance, every time Foolish Friel said that it was just a game, I was thinking:

    “Right, a ‘game’ that you seem to be taking awfully damned seriously…a game that stresses “sin” and “Jebus”, yet it’s just a “game”.

    If it was just a game, then why so serious? Why press Hitchens like that? Are you lying when you say it’s just a “game”? If so, you’re broken one of your god’s own commandments that you’re trying to hit Hitchens with”.

    Or something like that. I’ve had a little to drink earlier so I’m not sure what I said makes any sense. I’ll come back and read it later…

  127. #127 Silver Fox
    April 11, 2009

    PZ

    “I thoroughly detest and despise them.”

    Good heavens, miracles do happen. For the first time in the two years I’ve posted here, he’s said something I can completely agree with. Sadly, however, we have different reasons for that agreement.

    It’s not a “what-if” game as much as it is an “if-then” game. This is the standard structure of counterfactual mind games. These people do such a disservice to religion in general and Christianity in particular. Dealing in counterfactuals probably have a legitimate place in philosophy but not in evangelizing or proselytizing.

    These folks are amateurs and need to get out of the religion business. Philosophers who deal in counterfactuals and constructions like zombie people have a legitimate analytic purpose in mind. For example, the zombie people (people like us except for sentiency) might give some clearer insight into the structure of the mind with sentiency removed. At least that’s what they think. I don’t agree with them. When you remove the mind which is a property of the brain from nature, you’re asking for trouble, philosophically.

    Then too, it’s a question for evolutionary biology. If zombie people could exist, why didn’t natural selection take that course since the highly intelligent zombies would be more efficient agents for preservation of the species than us. However, while we have developed species controls like abortion and birth control methods, who’s to say that the zombies wouldn’t have developed more rigid species control. To me, that argument really doesn’t hold up very well. At any rate these counterfactuals and zombies are mind games which are not going to end up proving anything.

    At any rate, PZ got that one right. I would respond to them pretty much as I would to the Mormons who come ringing the doorbell. If I had the time I would chat with them because they can be entertaining but don’t expect any enlightenment.

  128. #128 Klank Kiki
    April 11, 2009

    Both the christians and the atheists exclaim: “What a moron!”
    Both are disgusted by one person speaking on that show, but by a different person.

    I don’t think it makes any difference. Just preaching to the choir. Each side digs deeper with their heels. No change.

    I hope I’m wrong and that Chris is more convincing.

  129. #129 xenithrys
    April 11, 2009

    I can’t get past the idea that fundie preachers don’t really believe what they say — it’s a con trick to get power over people, which translates directly into what they really want: either money or sex or both. For many of them, it’s clearly a strategy that works pretty well. And governments license them to do it tax-free.

  130. #130 jpf
    April 11, 2009

     

  131. #131 Menyambal
    April 11, 2009

    A ways up there, somebody did some of the math on Jesus’s death and our share of it. I once took that further by accounting for time, and since today is the day between Good Friday and Easter, I’m going to run it through again, fairly fast.

    Jesus died on Friday evening, remember, and was seen to be resurrected on Sunday morning, right? The Sabbath, Saturday, was in the middle, and folks had to work around that.

    So, at MOST, he spent 36 hours dead and in Hell. (It was no way the prophesied 3 days.) Divide that out among just one person spending an eternity in Hell. Go ahead, use your shortest estimate of eternity.

    Now fold in the rest the numbers of everyone who has ever lived a free life, and Jesus doesn’t amount to anything.

    And, since God made us and made the rules, no aspect of him is innocent of “our” sins.

    We crucified Jesus because that was the only aspect of God that we could get our hands on.

  132. #132 Susan
    April 11, 2009

    I like how Hitchens made it obvious the fundie thinks he owns his kids. I thought he did a most excellent job, and I’m not generally a Hitchens fan. He knows his God stuff, though, that’s for sure.

  133. #133 MrFire
    April 11, 2009

    Hitchens tore him a new asshole and he didn’t even notice it. Thirty-some years of religious diarrhea will do that to ya.

  134. #134 castletonsnob
    April 11, 2009

    Dear Pastor Fox,

    If you believe Jesus died, He couldn’t be God, because God is, by definition, immortal.

    Right?

  135. #135 Reynold
    April 11, 2009

    Menyambal @131:

    Exactly. Mathematically, jesus didn’t pay for the “sins” of a single person, much less everyone.

    It’s this odd type of religious arithmatic that makes them think that 3 days for him (so they say), is somehow equal to an eternity for us.

    I wonder what would have happened if Hitchens had thrown this at Friel:

    Matthew 5:48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

    That verse pretty much says that the standards that “god” has set for us is the same standards that he sets for himself. Therefore, that “thou shalt not kill” thing was broken by their own god many times, especially in the OT.

    There’s just so much stupidity to shoot down.

    I posted the above verse to a fundy blog who links to Friel’s show. Her reply is illucid to me, and to some of the other commentators there.

  136. #136 Don
    April 11, 2009

    Sometimes I got the impression that Hitchens was casually completing the Times crossword while toying with this twerp.

    We’re playing a game sir

    I think we know his safe-word.

  137. #137 brandon
    April 11, 2009

    It’s hard to match the power behind Hitchens’s punch, though. It’s a pity we can’t whip him out like McLuhan in Annie Hall when the occasion befits. At any rate, this is a great how-to.

    The whole idea of P-Zombies seems fine for the Philosophy lab. But we’ve all seen the movies. We know what happens when they escape.

  138. #138 Paul Lundgren
    April 11, 2009

    “Gentle Jesus, Meek and Mild”.

    I nearly had to go to the hospital after hearing that, I busted a gut.

    And as a former radio announcer, I can personally attest that this guy is one of the LEAST entertaining people I’ve ever heard on any format. The idea, sir, is NOT to sound like a DJ. FAIL!

  139. #139 Jeff
    April 11, 2009

    Entertaining.

  140. #140 Graculus
    April 11, 2009

    I’d love to go out drinking with him.

    Your liver has a death wish?

  141. #141 LivingWithMormons
    April 11, 2009

    I have to admit I fell prey to this game by a YEC neighbor of mine before I considered myself an atheist.

    I had really just begun to question my own faith (I’m an ex-Mormon) and I had many questions already at the time.

    I’m actually thankful he went through his little spiel with me. The whole thing only acted to reinforce the ridiculousness of the whole religion argument and as an exercise for me in rational thinking. It’s nice to see your own conclusions (ones I came to by my own feeble mind’s power) reinforced by someone of Hitchen’s caliber.

    Goes to show that logical thinking really works.

  142. #142 Richard Gadsden
    April 11, 2009

    My response to “Jesus died for you” is “so did Mohammed Atta, I don’t accept human sacrifices.”

  143. #143 pcrthis
    April 11, 2009

    Testing, testing *tap, tap* Is this thing on?

  144. #144 Jadehawk
    April 11, 2009

    well, that was awesome. I don’t like Hitchens much usually, but it was fun to watch him give the godbot mental hickups.

  145. #145 Jadehawk
    April 11, 2009

    or, I guess “hear him give the godbot mental hickups”. the imagery was only in my head, hehe

  146. #146 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 11, 2009

    I just got back from a friend’s child’s baptism.

    The Rector scolded me (that sounds dirty) for taking photos in the church. I need some religious smack down.

    This guy sounds like Glen Beck. In idiocy and actual sound of voice

    I’d love to go out drinking with him.

    Your liver has a death wish?

    that ship has sailed.

  147. #147 Nerdcore Steve
    April 11, 2009

    This was a little hard to listen to because I was so embarrassed for this Ray Comfort guy but it was great to hear Christopher Hitchens’s responses.

  148. #148 Alex Besogonov
    April 11, 2009

    When some proselytizer asks me if I’m a Christian I just answer that I’m a Satanist and expect to go to hell.

    Works like a charm.

  149. #149 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 11, 2009

    Good heavens, miracles do happen. For the first time in the two years I’ve posted here, he’s said something I can completely agree with. Sadly, however, we have different reasons for that agreement.

    SF did you finish your homework assignment?

  150. #150 raven
    April 11, 2009

    I’ve often thought that whole “taking the Lord’s name in vain” business is crock. It sounds to me like it doesn’t mean swearing, but refers to false Christians.

    The commandment about “taking the Lords name in vain” has nothing to do with swearing. It has to do with being a false prophet and pretending to speak in the lord’s name when you are just….making stuff up.

    Fundies do it often. At least once a day on this blog some clown tells everyone they are going to hell. Since god is the ultimate weapon of mass destruction, being omnipotent, it is a strong temptation to reach for the ultimate nuke.

    This was also a problem in the ancient world. So much so that there is a penalty for it. In deuteronomy, false prophets are to be stoned to death.

  151. #151 mikespeir
    April 11, 2009

    Odd for an atheist, I’ve never used foul language. But I’ve gotta say that after seeing this I’m mightily tempted.

  152. #152 bojangles
    April 11, 2009

    What an absolute fool.

  153. #153 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 11, 2009

    Odd for an atheist, I’ve never used foul language. But I’ve gotta say that after seeing this I’m mightily tempted.

    What the fuck?

  154. #154 K.R.
    April 11, 2009

    Odd for an atheist, I’ve never used foul language. But I’ve gotta say that after seeing this I’m mightily tempted.

    Hot damn! Give that shit a try; it’s bitchin’!

  155. #155 Buzz
    April 11, 2009
  156. #156 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 11, 2009

    How many times did he say sir?

    That may be the most smarmy insincere use of sir I’ve ever heard.

    Just like Glenn “Craybaby” Beck.

  157. #157 Muzz
    April 11, 2009

    I don’t know if I can watch this. The frame grabs the clips use are hysterical by themselves.

  158. #158 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 11, 2009

    that would be crybaby

  159. #159 Jon Erickson
    April 11, 2009

    P.Z.

    Is there a transcript of this one could download? It is wonderful. I think the responses are a hoot and having the transcript would be useful for future encounters with the fundys. (They call them fundy’s because they supply such fun.)

    Although I don’t think I would like Hitchens personally, I have nothing but admiration and respect for the way he dismantled this fundy. Amazing.

    Jon

  160. #160 AdamK
    April 11, 2009

    If Jesus had existed, and if he were the god represented in the bibblebooks, and if he had been tortured to death, he would have deserved every bit of it. No need to die for my “sins” — die for your own.

  161. #161 Newfie
    April 11, 2009

    Jim Dunlop Craybaby? Wha?

    / Slight Return

  162. #162 b. j. edwards
    April 11, 2009

    I see this joker’s site is all about “witnessing.” One site on “how to witness” states right out:

    “Look below the surface and see that the person you are witnessing to is basically Adam, naked and running for cover.”

    I’m laughing trying to imagine Todd Friel freaking out when he sees Chris Hitchins ain’t Adam, ain’t naked, and ain’t running for cover.

  163. #163 Alex Besogonov
    April 11, 2009

    When some proselytizer asks me if I’m a Christian I just answer that I’m a Satanist and expect to go to hell.

    Works like a charm.

  164. #164 GMacs
    April 11, 2009

    One thing that’s gone through my mind since dropping my faith, it’s very similar to this:

    If there were a god, who were anything like Yahweh, and he were revealed to me, saying “follow me, and you will be saved”, I would have to wonder about other people.

    I have an inborn complex for guilt and sympathy, I can barely hate anyone. So if I were to think of all the good people who would burn in hell, I would, by my nature, be obliged to tell Yahweh:

    “Shove it up your almighty cosmic asshole”

    Go Hitchens!

  165. #165 EnfantTerrible
    April 11, 2009

    I just remembered something about Todd Friel! He used to accost people at the Minnesota State Fair during his radio show and lay some fundie guilt trips on them. My favorite was when he got tripped up by a cop about absolute right and wrong. The cop said something like, “We drive on the right side of the road. That’s the right thing to do, right?” Todd said, “Yeah…”. The cop continued, “Well, they drive on the left in England, Japan and Australia. Are they absolutely wrong?” Todd: “We’ll be right back after these messages!”

  166. #166 cousinavi
    April 11, 2009

    Posted by: Dianne | April 11, 2009 3:27 PM
    I felt sorry for Friel by 2 minutes in. Hitchens needs to pick on someone closer to his own intellectual ability. That having been said, I loved it!

    Generally speaking, those in Hitchens’ intellectual peer group don’t require picking on. Those that do (if one allows that argument constitutes bullying by virtue of disagreement), are capable of defending themselves.
    In any event, were CH restricted to how own weight class, he’d have a rather difficult time finding opponents. One might think of him as some sort of Shaolin kungfu master of debate – there really isn’t anyone who can fairly challenge him…but he’s willing to teach all comers and it’s entertaining as hell to watch.
    “Your Sinful Praying Monkey kungfu is very strong but it is no match for my Accept the Premise One Finger Conclusion Death Touch.”

  167. #167 Michael Goff
    April 11, 2009

    I wish Hitchens didn’t always look like he just woke up. He could be much more effective. I LOVE him! Thanks PZ!

  168. #168 Troublesome Frog
    April 11, 2009

    What was the point of the “what if” game, exactly? Doesn’t it simply boil down to, “What if I’m 100% correct? Would you not acknowledge that in that case, I’m 100% correct?” Well, I suppose so. Well done.

  169. #169 GMacs
    April 11, 2009

    @chris
    There is no such thing as a gift if it has an obligation, and so it was no gift at all. And why should we be grateful for him enslaving us with a worthless pseudo-gift, without even asking if we wanted it?

    That reminds me, in the religion class I’m taking, they told us ancient Irish culture stipulated that you were in someone’s debt if they gave you a gift. Kind of a cynical way to look at gifts, but the upshot is that if you won a battle, you gave the conquered a gift.

    So I guess the question would be: What fucking battle did Iesu win?

  170. #170 rickflick
    April 11, 2009

    Thank god for Christopher Hitchens.

  171. #171 Strangest brew
    April 11, 2009

    Standing up and splatting these jeebus retards down should happen every time…they get confused and derailed because they are not used to it…maybe it might teach them to be a little less proselytising in public…the dirty little perverts!

  172. #172 Cerberus
    April 11, 2009

    You know what’s extra-funny?

    Each one of these people is made, carried and created in a far more real way by their mothers, but they don’t view their mothers as having life-long control and say in everything they do and owe absolute fealty to their mothers. So the idea he made you, he owns you is absurd and broken by their own behavior in regards to the person who actually made them.

    It’s amazing how much of it is really connected to the idea that children and women are property owned by a man extra-Christiany.

  173. #173 Raiko
    April 11, 2009

    Todd Friel is such a clown.

  174. #174 ChrisKG
    April 11, 2009

    I just want to ask a Todd Friel this:

    Ok, so is God dead or alive? (Follow up: how the F*#k do you know?) Did he die for me or not? What is his current state? (Ditto: follow up) Moreover, if he is alive, then he can be killed (again), right? If he is dead, then why worry about him?

    Another note to Fundies, stop using the terms “righteousness” and “righteous” because they absolutely no water with Atheists. They are empty, vacuous terms used to describe absolutely nothing except the degree to which you are brainwashed, and that is ?completely?.

  175. #175 Joshua Zelinsky
    April 11, 2009

    I’m really not a fan of Hitchens but that was freaking awesome. I particularly enjoyed the part where Hitchens pointed out that it was only the “gentle Jesus” in the New Testament who demanded eternal torment for those who displeased God. That just made my day. The radio host was clearly put off by that.

  176. #176 Strangest brew
    April 11, 2009

    168#

    What was the point of the “what if” game, exactly?

    Seems to be the latest scam jeebus creeps use to way lay targets in the street…
    Most folks think they have to agree with the pre formulated conclusions….it is a way to hook them for the jeebus trawler.

    Seemingly if you agree with the ‘what if’ scenarios you are primed to become a clone…apparently…no idea how that works though…but folks feel they have to toe the line to the innocuousness of the premise…next thing they are sunk into delusion!

  177. #177 ChrisKG
    April 11, 2009

    Correction: I meant to say “…they hold absolutely no water…”

    Damn typos…

  178. #178 C. M. Baxter
    April 11, 2009

    I counted 19 Sirs.

  179. #179 Daniel de Rauglaudre
    April 11, 2009

    To co #31 and nothing’s sacred #91 for my #24:

    You are right, of course. I just wanted to proof that if you
    start a reasoning by something absurd (“What if…”), you can
    conclude something absurd.

    The assumption “What if there was a God…” leads to stupid
    conclusions. This just proves that God does not exist, not
    that the conclusion they give is true.

  180. #180 Jorge Velez-Juarbe
    April 11, 2009

    This was very entertaining!! Thanks for sharing it PZ!! It is a very good example on how to answer if someone comes up to me with this kind of stupidity!

  181. #181 jpf
    April 11, 2009

    I just realized where I heard Todd Friel’s smarmy voice before. He wasthe host of “Way of the Master radio” (now apparently renamed Wretched), which was an arm of Ray Comfort’s ministry. He isn’t just using Comfort’s methods, he’s one of Comfort’s lackeys.

    Anyway, I remember him from hearing a WotM radio segment where Ray and Kirk Cameron snuck into a druid ritual under false pretenses to secretly recorded their interactions with the attendees so they could play it back on Friel’s show while Friel and Kirk made fun of their beliefs. I’d post a link, but the WotM site redirects to the Wretched site now, so apparently past episodes have gone down the memory hole. As I fondly remember, there was also a segment on that episode where Friel was disgusted at the thought of shaking hands with a Hindu. Very classy guy.

  182. #182 cliff
    April 11, 2009

    jesus was just some con man who got given some drug that made him seem dead after he was hung on the cross, thats why they had to go watch the ‘tomb’ so they would know when he woke up and/or gave him the antidote to wake him up.

    seems plain as day to me ..

  183. #183 Sastra
    April 11, 2009

    Chris KG #174 wrote:

    Ok, so is God dead or alive?

    Neither: he is in a quantum superposition of the “dead” and “alive” states, collapsing the wave function every time he’s prayed to.

    This is theology, so it’s technical.

  184. #184 ChrisKG
    April 11, 2009

    Sastra,

    Is that akin to the Heisenberg uncertainty principle?

  185. #185 Desert Son
    April 11, 2009

    Sastra at #183:

    Neither: he is in a quantum superposition of the “dead” and “alive” states, collapsing the wave function every time he’s prayed to.

    Now I want a t-shirt that reads: Jesus: talk about your Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle.

    No kings,

    Robert

  186. #186 Desert Son
    April 11, 2009

    ChrisKG at #184:

    Is that akin to the Heisenberg uncertainty principle?

    “Curse my metal body, I wasn’t fast enough!” [/C3PO]

    No kings,

    Robert

  187. #187 ChrisKG
    April 11, 2009

    :)

    I want a T-shirt that says, “Too many Christians, too few lions”

    ChrisKG

  188. #188 castletonsnob
    April 11, 2009

    Dear Pastor Fox,

    Again, I ask:

    If you believe Jesus died, He couldn’t be God, because God is, by definition, immortal.

    Right?

  189. #189 ChrisKG
    April 11, 2009

    That’s strange. I had an error message and it still posted, twice!

  190. #190 castletonsnob
    April 11, 2009

    Dear Pastor Fox,

    Again, I ask:

    If you believe Jesus died, He couldn’t be God, because God is, by definition, immortal.

    Right?

  191. #191 castletonsnob
    April 11, 2009

    Seems I double posted, too, sorry.

  192. #192 mothra
    April 11, 2009

    Fundy:”Friend, have you found Christ?”
    Me: “Is that bastard lost again!”

  193. #193 Marc Hansson
    April 11, 2009

    That was nothing short of excellent.
    I wonder if Mr. Friel is enjoying the new hole Hitch tore for him?

  194. #194 deep
    April 11, 2009

    Oh, Hitchens. *sigh* He’s been all over the place lately for his book, and man is it making me happy. I recently got an email pulling the same question thing (the guy assumed my answers, because we are ALL sinners) and I’ve been trying to think of the best way to respond (after founding out how he got my school email of course, I swear I’m suing if an administrator gave out my email address to this quack).

  195. #195 Somnolent Aphid
    April 11, 2009

    I wonder what a christian would have heard listening to that same 15 minutes of radio? Certainly not what I heard I imagine. This aphid wishes that he had just 1% of Hitchens’ power and intellect. I love this man’s ability to stick to his guns. I’m afraid that if you played “what if” with me, you’d have me eating out of your hands within 30 seconds. Oy.

  196. #196 Janine Of The Fixed Identity
    April 11, 2009

    Somnolent Aphid, I think that Sastra gave an accurate account about how a fundamentalist believer would view that line of questioning. They think that Freil won that exchange.

  197. #197 Monimonika
    April 11, 2009

    Friel:

    “What if it’s true that God exists. He came to this earth, Jesus Christ, the God-Man, the Savior of Souls. And He took the punishment that you deserve for breaking God’s moral laws. He died on a cross for you, He rose from the dead and defeated death.

    Let’s say that it’s true, sir. He died knowing that you, Christopher Hitchens, would spend all of your calories and energy on fighting against Him but He died for you anyway. Would that not be the single greatest act of kindness in the history of your life, if not in the world?”

    I’m going to repeat a bit of what Brownian said earlier, but in my own way.

    The implication that Friel is making is that Hitchens ought to be grateful for the service that Jesus has done for him*. However, Jesus already knew (according to Friel) that Hitchens would be ungrateful anyway. Since Jesus already accepted that premise (in fact, omnisciently expects no thanks) and “saved” Hitchens, Hitchens owes Jesus nothing whatsoever in return.

    Now, if the follow-up to that is that Hitchens would have to give “thanks” to Jesus in order to complete the “saving” process, again, Hitchens is within his rights to use his Free Will in choosing to not give his thanks, especially for a service he did not ask for (and was not expected to appreciate in the first place!). If that’s the case, Jesus then knowingly did not die for Hitchens afterall (since He knew Hitchens would refuse to accept the service)! And thus Hitchens owes Jesus nothing at all.

    *Let’s put aside the whole God = Jesus, God sacrifices Himself (but then reverses it) to save mankind from being punished by God for breaking unreasonable rules made by God, as well as for the Original Sin that everyone carries anyway, and which was placed there by God.

  198. #198 Tony Sidaway
    April 11, 2009

    This whole “script” thing is very silly. I’m constantly amazed that somebody as bright as Christopher Hitchens–and he does seem to be rather clever, from what little I’ve seen of him–would waste his time with idiots like this.

    I managed to cringe my way through the first question and Hitchens’ response. Then I had to turn it off. I think I’m privilege to live in a country where people who would put that kind of reasoning are widely regarded as weirdoes unworthy of indulgence.

  199. #199 Brian Rossman
    April 11, 2009

    Few things in this world can make my day like Christopher Hitchens skewering a fundie like he does here. This was frakking priceless!

  200. #200 Somnolent Aphid
    April 11, 2009

    It would appear that loving Jesus requires beer goggles.

  201. #201 bastion of sass
    April 11, 2009

    This “What if…” game used to be played by one of my kids–when he was about two or three years old.

    “What if I could fly? Would you let me fly by myself to the candy store?”

    “What if I could catch a ghost? Where would I keep him?”

    “What if leprechauns were real? And I found one. And he gave me some of his gold. Could I buy a new bike?”

    My son and I would have fun answering his “what ifs” as though they were true, exercising our imaginations. That kid was–and still is–a wonderfully divergent thinker. But as young as he was, he knew he was asking “what if…” because his questions relied on fantasy, not facts.

    Christians who play the “what if” game: not even as rational as my toddler.

  202. #202 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 11, 2009

    It would appear that loving Jesus requires beer fear goggles.

    fixed

  203. #203 jackdaw
    April 11, 2009

    Wow…you’ll have to excuse me that I always thought Hitchens was sort of an ass. But after the last two posted items on him, I think I should read his book.

    He handles himself with an amazing amount of tack when dealing with idiots of that caliber.

  204. #204 Charlie N.
    April 11, 2009

    Hahaha, Hitchens does a fantastic job here, I’ve always wanted to see someone set this all too common line of questioning straight.

  205. #205 Russell Blackford
    April 11, 2009

    Hitchens was in good form here. The whole set-up that Friel was trying to get Hitchens to work with makes no sense unless you have a barbaric worldview in which sacrificial scapegoating is efficacious and all the rest of it. Hitchens did a great job of showing just how horrible the scheme of sin and sacrificial redemption would be if it were true. I guess these nut-job fundies just don’t get how this looks from outside.

  206. #206 Douglas McClean
    April 11, 2009

    Silver Fox manages to slide right past the point, yet again:

    “If zombie people could exist, why didn’t natural selection take that course since the highly intelligent zombies would be more efficient agents for preservation of the species than us.”

    The *entire* point of the zombie argument is that a zombie is (presumed for argumentative purposes, or argued-from-intuition to be) exactly like, and externally indistinguishable from, a normal person except for their subjective phenomenal experiences, or what are called qualia. This is (as far as I know) entirely uncontroversial, and is a central part of both physicalist and dualist accounts of the zombie argument. It is the first premise of Chalmers’ formulation of the zombie argument against physicalism.

    If such a zombie were to exist, it would of course be indistinguishable to “natural selection” (misconceived as a force) from a normal person. Alternatively, and without the misconception, the physical world and the zombie would necessarily interact identically to the manner in which the physical world and the normal person would interact; thus the zombie would have the same children as the non-zombie.

    (This reveals an additional problem with Silver Fox’s argument; namely that unless a “soul” form of dualism is true, there’s no reason to think that zombie-ism would be heritable.)

    Yet another unrecoverable problem for this argument is that, of course, Silver Fox can’t know that the people he sees every day (excepting himself) *aren’t* zombies.

    Congratulations, Silver Fox, on yet another foray into your own stupid form of solipsism.

  207. #207 nothing's sacred
    April 11, 2009

    The cop said something like, “We drive on the right side of the road. That’s the right thing to do, right?” Todd said, “Yeah…”. The cop continued, “Well, they drive on the left in England, Japan and Australia. Are they absolutely wrong?”

    I am so going to use that in my smackdowns of proponents of absolute morality.

  208. #208 papa zita
    April 11, 2009

    I agree with FierceGeekChick that a night of drinks would be great fun…

    Not if Hitchens left you with the tab.

  209. #209 Kel
    April 11, 2009

    Oh good, this is painful. Hitchens is ripping this guy apart and he’s too stupid to realise it. Apologetics is so fucking pathetic!

  210. #210 Pierce R. Butler
    April 11, 2009

    Rey Fox @ # 58: Does [sic] Hitchens’ views on the Iraq war have to come up EVERY time he’s mentioned?

    Oh no, of course not: cheerleading for the gratuitous deaths of over a million people based on lies and fear-mongering hardly merits mentioning even once in polite company.

    The man is a thoroughly mixed bag.

  211. #211 nothing's sacred
    April 11, 2009

    externally indistinguishable

    Externally and internally — they are physically indistinguishable (if they weren’t, they would be no challenge to physicalism).

    from, a normal person except for their subjective phenomenal experiences, or what are called qualia.

    Which, for the physicalist, is either incoherent, since two physically identical things cannot have different characteristics, or asserts no difference at all because “normal” people also lack any sort of “experience” that is separable from their physical states — whatever they have, they don’t have “qualia” as characterized by philosophers (this is Daniel Dennett’s position, and is quite widespread among physicalists these days).

    It is the first premise of Chalmers’ formulation of the zombie argument against physicalism.

    Chalmers himself has acknowledged to me that the zombie argument doesn’t defeat physicalism because the very formulation of zombies requires a priori rejection of physicalism — that it’s just an intuition pump. I was a bit stunned when he admitted such a thing.

  212. #212 nothing's sacred
    April 11, 2009

    I had an error message and it still posted.

    And what did the error message say about whether it posted?

  213. #213 senecasam
    April 11, 2009

    I’m going to listen to an hour of Freethought Radio, plus a double shot of Skeptically to wash 15 minutes of Todd Friel out of my head.

    Wretched Radio, indeed.

  214. #214 Kel
    April 11, 2009

    I wonder if that preacher would play the game with the Cycle of Samsara. I wonder how he would feel about that?

  215. #215 senecasam
    April 11, 2009

    Er, ah, that’s Skepticality.

    Bottle of wine, fruit of the vine, when ya gonna let me get sober?

  216. #216 The Atheist Missionary
    April 11, 2009

    I haven’t read the 200+ comments which preclude this one so I apologize if I am repeating what has been said earlier. God may not be great but Christopher Hitchens certainly is. Hitchens’ intellect is a thing to behold and I can’t think of anyone I would rather have a beer with. In my book, that’s the greatest compliment I can hand out.

  217. #217 nothing's sacred
    April 11, 2009

    To co #31 and nothing’s sacred #91 for my #24:

    You are right, of course.

    But we said very different things. co misconstrues the nature of assumption in mathematics. It’s perfectly reasonable to assume that the equation has real roots; in fact, it’s perfectly reasonable to assume anything. He says “It doesn’t” … and how do we know that? The fact is that you proved it by assuming it and deriving a contradiction.

    I just wanted to proof that if you
    start a reasoning by something absurd (“What if…”), you can
    conclude something absurd.

    What you actually did was assume something false (but not absurd — many similar-looking polynomials have real roots) and concluded something false (and arguably absurd because the falsity is obvious).

    The assumption “What if there was a God…” leads to stupid
    conclusions.

    Not necessarily. Freil’s particular conclusions are stupid, in their own right and because his reasoning is horribly flawed.

    This just proves that God does not exist, not
    that the conclusion they give is true.

    No, it doesn’t prove any such thing. If you can offer a valid argument that starts from the premise “God exists” and concludes something clearly false, you will have quite an achievement. I don’t believe that there is a God, but I also don’t believe that there is such a proof.

  218. #218 L
    April 11, 2009

    Ratshit radio?

  219. #219 sayhey
    April 11, 2009

    Tod Friel, condescending SOB. Hitchens shines in this one.

  220. #220 papa zita
    April 11, 2009

    For a second when first I heard Friel speak, I flashed onto Firesign Theater and Beat The Reaper. Hitchens made him look like an idiot, which was not a hard job. I was especially irritated when Hitchens would answer his question (usually in a word or two) then expand on what he meant, and the fool would say “that wasn’t the question”.

  221. #221 Sophie Lagacé
    April 11, 2009

    Wow. Hitchens really spanks Friel.

  222. #222 Daniel de Rauglaudre
    April 11, 2009

    nothing’s sacred

    I don’t believe that there is a God, but I also don’t believe that there is such a proof.

    There are a lot of proofs. They are not accepted by the believers, because it is impossible to discuss with them, because of their tendencies to change the meaning of the words (like “reality”, for example, or “truth”, or “love”).

    With honest people, it is very easy to prove that God does not exist.

  223. #223 Tom Foss
    April 11, 2009

    PZ (#0):

    Every year at our county fair they have their “Are you going to heaven or hell” booth that tries to bamboozle kids with this spiel, and I thoroughly detest and despise them.

    Wait, this is a Minnesota fair, right? Why aren’t they selling Jesus on a stick?

    Oh, right. Well, why aren’t they selling Jesus on a stick breaded and deep-fried?

    Citizen Z (#97):

    Yes but we’re playing “What If”. What if… dead C’Thulhu really does wait dreaming in his house at R’yleh. What if… the Elder Gods do return

    When Friel started in about Jesus and the Resurrection, he said that Jesus “defeated death,” and I couldn’t help but think “And with strange aeons even death may die.” Ia! Ia!

    Menyambal (#131):

    So, at MOST, he spent 36 hours dead and in Hell.

    I’m pretty sure it’s Denis Loubet of the Non-Prophets who I first heard say “Jesus had a bad weekend for your sins,” which is the most apt description I’ve yet heard. At least when Prometheus suffered and died for my sins, he stayed dead (and suffering!). Jesus is a wuss.

    cliff (#182):

    jesus was just some con man who got given some drug that made him seem dead after he was hung on the cross, thats why they had to go watch the ‘tomb’ so they would know when he woke up and/or gave him the antidote to wake him up.

    I think you’re confusing Jesus Christ with Juliet Capulet. I know, I know, it’s an easy mistake to make–same hair, same tendency toward melodrama.

    In seriousness, there’s no more evidence for the “Jesus: con-man” hypothesis than there is for the “Jesus: son of God” hypothesis; while the latter is certainly more plausible, there’s no need to invoke it until there’s some evidence that Jesus actually lived and that the stories told about his life and the circumstances of his death are even remotely accurate.

    It’s like those movies and “history” specials where people try to come up with “rational” explanations for the Flood or the Ten Plagues or crossing the Red Sea. There’s no reason to invoke windy days on the Reed Sea or red algae when it’s more likely that the stories are just made up.

  224. #224 Steve Schlicht
    April 11, 2009

    Hey, on Monday, April 20th at 7:30 PM, Christopher Hitchens will debate Dinesh D’Souza at a debated entitled:

    God is Great, God is Not Great.

    This will take place at Jones County Junior College in Ellisville, Mississippi.

    Find out more here: http://www.jcjc.edu/honorsinstitute/speakerseries/speakerseries.php

    We have our tickets (free online) and this video link was the finest appetizer!

    Steve

  225. #225 gdlchmst
    April 11, 2009

    Goddamn. I have committed murder.

  226. #226 Tony Sidaway
    April 11, 2009

    #207

    The more I read about qualia, the more convinced I become that I do not experience them and that my experience is best described by that philosophical concept known as a zombie. Whatever they might be, they seem to be indistinguishable from the signals that I receive from the outside world, which I would expect to receive if I am a physical being.

    In particular, the phrase “the redness of red” does not seem to me to capture anything to which I can assign a significant meaning.

  227. #227 ConcernedJoe
    April 11, 2009

    Being objective here – CH creamed this dolt.

    I understand when I was below the age of being able impregnant I believed in this god .. but even excusing the naivity of childhood I feel such intellectual embarrassment.

    God gosh .. wake up people – you believe because you really really really want to believe (like a 10 year old re: Santa) — or you are terrorified of the insane pyscho they call god. CH labors under neither and isn’t that well oh so refreshing.. and don’t you want to grow up too?

  228. #228 Notkieran
    April 11, 2009

    Chris @#102:

    >…each person’s fair share would be V/P… approximately 0.0000000001% what it used to be 2000 years ago, and dropping every second as new births occur.

    Homeopathic salvation?

  229. #229 Chem
    April 11, 2009

    OMG the beat-down here was EPIC! My favorite part was where Friel asked him if he was concerned about being hellbound, and Hitchens’ reply: “Who gives a sh*t?”

  230. #230 John Marley
    April 11, 2009

    @Menyambal(131):

    Yeah, that “Friday night to Sunday morning = 3 days” always reminds me of a Simpsons eposode. Mickey Rooney says that he was Hollywood’s biggest box-office draw from 1939 to 1940. To which Bart replies “Wow, spanning two decades!”

    Same reasoning.

  231. #231 defective robot
    April 11, 2009

    The fact is, you could answer each of those questions in the affirmative, essentially play right into their hands, and still not give them the satisfaction of a win because their intended outcome still requires you to believe it all in the first place! What part of “what if” erases that presupposition? That was the joke of the Left Behind books: creating a “what if” fiction doesn’t make it a probability; for it to be effective, you’d have to believe in the eventuality of the Revelations scenarios in the first place.

    Why do they think that game works?

  232. #232 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 11, 2009

    “Friday night to Sunday morning = 3 days”

    I’ve had that same time period span a few weeks in NOLA one October.

  233. #233 Douglas McClean
    April 12, 2009

    nothing’s sacred, @212

    You’re absolutely correct of course. I used “externally indistinguishable” in the sense of “indistinguishable to observers,” not “indistinguishable at autopsy/biopsy/etc.” Of course they are “physically indistinguishable” in every way.

    I also agree about the (inescapable? — if it seems so to Chalmers himself, I’m inclined to drop the question mark, that’s a very interesting story) question-begging of the zombie argument.

    I guess I took a slight shortcut in knocking down the absolutely non-sensical argument that “ZOMG! evilution should have made teh Z0MB1E$!!!1!!”

    Honestly, nothing makes me feel stupider than when I dangle my feet into commenting on philosophy with only a few semesters of formal training. If this is the biggest mistake I managed to make, I’m going to count that as a success. ;)

    Thanks for the corrections.

  234. #234 Cheezits
    April 12, 2009

    Sort of like how many of them are starting to refer to themselves proudly as “Jesus Freaks”.

    What do you mean “starting”, they were doing that about 35 years ago.

    What if God hates silly “what if” games? Do you agree that Friel will burn in hell for eternity? :-D

  235. #235 Pikemann Urge
    April 12, 2009

    cousinavi #166, that last bit made me LOL!

    I think the best bit was when Hitchens made the distinction between OT God and NT God: the former did not threaten eternal damnation (and the latter maybe didn’t either, it depends on interpretation). How can these idiots – and they are, truly, idiots – not know their own religion?

    And it’s obvious to any thinking person that the Ten Commandments are unimpressive. And how *negative* are they!?

  236. #236 Liberal Atheist
    April 12, 2009

    I would much rather go to hell, where all the scientists, atheists and strippers are likely to hang out. Heaven, meanwhile would be populated by selfrighteous believers, Jehova’s, fanatics, Crusaders, Jihadists and suicide bombers. According to them, anyway.

  237. #237 Benjamin Geiger
    April 12, 2009

    Cheezits @ #235:

    Yeah. That’s something that really pisses me off: that DC Talk song is so catchy, yet so wrong.

    Mr. Mister’s “Kyrie” is something of a guilty pleasure for me; I know what it means but I like the song anyway.

  238. #238 Douglas McClean
    April 12, 2009

    Tony,

    Could you elaborate on this?

    “In particular, the phrase ‘the redness of red’ does not seem to me to capture anything to which I can assign a significant meaning.”

    It seems to me that the inverted spectrum argument is (intuitively) convincing that there is something that needs to be explained (even though there are sophisticated analyses showing that, at least in principle, at least nearly all such inversions might be detectable). Are you unpersuaded? Or is your experience such that you don’t see a “colorness” of color at all?

    What would it be like to see UV? To have an echolocation ability? To have an electroceptive or magnetoceptive sense?

    If synesthesia cases show that the (self-reported) phenomenal experience of sensation need not have the association with sensing that they “normally” do (and I understand if you don’t wish to accept this premise, because there are arguments for why they may not), then why should we “see” “sights” and “hear” “sounds” at all? Why not shouldn’t I be tasting this blog post right now?

    I certainly don’t mean to suggest that any of this requires a non-physical explanation, just that I feel there is something to explain.

    I am sincerely curious as to why you disagree.

  239. #239 jomega
    April 12, 2009

    Absolutely stellar takedown. Here’s one that has me scrathing my head, though: Paul (As quoted by this Wretched Wretard) wrote, “For his invisible attributes… have been clearly perceived”

    How is that supposed to work, exactly? are they LOUD attributes, perhaps? Or are they just really smelly? What should I be looking out for here?

  240. #240 Tom
    April 12, 2009

    this is absolutelly brilliant. the christian guy stepped right into the path of a hitchens beat down. the questions, after watching a lot of clips of hitchens, seemed directly designed for him. these are almost the exact same points that hitch always argues on, i almost couldnt believe the christian asked them and expected anything less than humiliation.

    a joy to listen to

  241. #241 Steve P
    April 12, 2009

    Ha! Apparently the words “what if” to Friel really mean: “stop using my own format to make me look asinine!”

    Which must by why he said “we’re playing a game of ‘what if’ here” every time Hitchens answered him.

  242. #242 Militant Agnostic
    April 12, 2009

    Friel got HITCH SLAPPED.

  243. #243 Menyambal
    April 12, 2009

    The “Jesus died for you” bit reminds me of an incident from my own long-ago days. As it’s Easter . . .

    It happened in a military training school on a base with hundreds of young men, and without many women. In the random room-mates jumble, a big bear of a crude country farmer wound up rooming with a quiet, gentlemanly scholar. They managed to get along, and even to be friends. The farmer went out prowling for women as best he could, leaving the scholar alone to study. One of the few women on the base was an instructress of uncertain age and dubious appearance. The farmer tried his luck with her, and evidently succeeded. For kindness’s sake, he decided to dedicate his success to his room-mate, the scholar. He came roaring into the room they shared, bellowing, “I fucked her for you, buddy! I fucked her for you!”

  244. #244 Denis Loubet
    April 12, 2009

    One of my favorite hypothetical scenarios to present to Christians is this one: If you could go back in time and successfully rescue Jesus from the crucifixion, would you do it?

    Boy, the hemming and hawing that this question elicits is a sight to behold. In the unlikely event you can corner them into an actual answer, they’ll be forced to say “No.” But you can hear their teeth grinding because they know that it somehow sounds bad, but are unequipped to understand why.

    My follow up question would have to be: If you went back in time and discovered that Judas had had second thoughts and wasn’t going to turn Jesus in, would it take the full 30 pieces of silver for you to do it yourself?

    Here’s a slogan for the Christians: The Jews killed Jesus so the Christians wouldn’t have to.

    I mean, after all, which group has the vested interest in Jesus’s death?

  245. #245 tweetbirdie386sx
    April 12, 2009

    Which must by why he said “we’re playing a game of ‘what if’ here” every time Hitchens answered him.

    Obviously Friel thought it would be a way to get Hitchens to concede things that he otherwise never would have conceded. The plan didn’t quite work out very well though.

    If Friel were more familiar with Hitchens he would have known that Hitchens concedes that crap for the sake of argument all the time.

  246. #246 Steven Dunlap
    April 12, 2009

    A few random thoughts:

    My favorite one-liner scrawled on a bathroom wall: “Cancel Easter, they found the body.”

    Posted by: Sastra #183

    Neither: he is in a quantum superposition of the “dead” and “alive” states, collapsing the wave function every time he’s prayed to.
    This is theology, so it’s technical.

    This is a very convincing argument that God/Jesus is actually Schroedinger’s cat. In terms of arguments about the nature/existence of God, this is about as good as it gets.

    Cerberus #172

    Each one of these people is made, carried and created in a far more real way by their mothers, but they don’t view their mothers as having life-long control and say in everything they do and owe absolute fealty to their mothers. So the idea he made you, he owns you is absurd and broken by their own behavior in regards to the person who actually made them.
    It’s amazing how much of it is really connected to the idea that children and women are property owned by a man extra-Christiany.

    I recall someone somewhere in the distant backwaters of time someone (maybe Gloria Steinmen when she visited my college on a speaking tour?) explained how the design of a church is similar to the female reproductive organs: (the Narthex, a kind of ante-room before the Nave) is the vagina, the Nave with all the pews is the uterus, the Solea is the fallopian tubes. The Solea usually has two pulpits (or sometimes transepts) on each side. These are the ovaries (in one of these is where the priest/minister stands). I realize not all modern (last 300 years or so) churches follow this design, but the old, traditional ones nearly always do. Not only does the design mimic the female reproductive system, but they have a ceremony in which the child’s birth has to be done over in the church with the holy man sprinkling symbolic “birth fluid” on the baby’s head. Without that ceremony the birth doesn’t count, somehow. The whole “born again” branch of fundamentalism also constitutes an attempt to upstage the role that women play in the creation of people.

  247. #247 Patricia, OM
    April 12, 2009

    Denis Loubet – Thanks for the radio show.

    I get to hear it all jumbled up and weeks apart from when you do it, on Free Thought Radio Network, but THANKS!

    We in the wilderness of freak land salute you.

  248. #248 Adam C.
    April 12, 2009

    One of my great-grandfathers was a POW in WWI. One of my great-grandmothers was a suffragette. My great aunt dedicated her life to helping people. My grandfather served in WWII. My aunts and uncles on my mother’s side worked incredibly hard to raise large families, despite poverty – some of them have no choice but to hunt for food to make sure food’s on the table. I’ve had friends and family help me through severe depression. I’ve had people with no reason to help me do so anyway so that I could escape a bad situation. Many people have fought and gave their lives in the struggle to allow me and my family, descended from thoroughly lower-class roots, the power to better ourselves. And yet a symbolic gesture of which I get maybe a one-trillionth part, given all the people who have lived since that time, and will live in future, is meant to be the greatest kindness ever done?

    I actually find that actively offensive.

  249. #249 Menyambal
    April 12, 2009

    One more for Easter:

    Religious conservatives crucified Christ.

  250. #250 RamblinDude
    April 12, 2009

    That was great.

    Guy Smiley there is the perfect christian announcer. There’s a reason he looks so happy: born-again Christians spend all there time perfecting the art of looking happy. It’s like a contest among themselves. The end result is as one-dimensional as their thinking. Very odd and very creepy.

    Big. Damn. Insane asylum.

  251. #251 Cactus Wren
    April 12, 2009

    Friel, with his “Well, if that’s true, then what if this is true? And if both of those are true, then what if this other thing is true too?”, reminded me of Argument #73. And with a less able debater than Hitchens, the exchange would have read something like the canonical version:

    ARGUMENT FROM EXHAUSTION (abridged)

    (1) Do you agree with the utterly trivial proposition X?

    (2) Atheist: of course.

    (3) How about the slightly modified proposition X’?

    (4) Atheist: Um, no, not really.

    (5) Good. Since we agree, how about Y? Is that true?

    (6) Atheist: No! And I didn’t agree with X’!

    (7) With the truths of these clearly established, surely you agree that Z is true as well?

    (8) Atheist: No. So far I have only agreed with X! Where is this going, anyway?

    (9) I’m glad we all agree…..

    ….

    (37) So now we have used propositions X, X’, Y, Y’, Z, Z’, P, P’, Q and Q’ to arrive at the obviously valid point R. Agreed?

    (38) Atheist: Like I said, so far I’ve only agreed with X. Where is this going?

    ….

    (81) So we now conclude from this that propositions L”, L”’ and J” are true. Agreed?

    (82) I HAVEN’T AGREED WITH ANYTHING YOU’VE SAID SINCE X! WHERE IS THIS GOING?

    ….

    (177) …and it follows that proposition HRV, SHQ” and BTU’ are all obviously valid. Agreed?

    (178) [Atheist either faints from overwork or leaves in disgust.]

    (179) Therefore, God exists.

  252. #252 WannabeTesla
    April 12, 2009

    I’m so sick of this tired script. It’s refreshing to see Hitchens absolutely tear the rhetoric a new one. This should be required viewing for anyone who’s ever supported Way of the Master.

  253. #253 Hellsau
    April 12, 2009

    “What if–”
    “Sigh”

    That makes me giggle every time.

  254. #254 clinteas
    April 12, 2009

    The host of that show is a creep.
    Hitch appeared to be solving the problem of the question to “42″ while casually tearing the freak a new one.Very funny.

    And noone has ever played “what if” with me,not even at a fair !! I feel left out.

  255. #255 Andyo
    April 12, 2009

    I reverse-what-ifed a couple of JW. Something like: “You have based your whole life, all those years, all your actions and your achievements, around ONE assumption, that the bible is inerrant. WHAT IF that’s not true?” I don’t think they’re getting back to me though they said so.

  256. #256 nothing's sacred
    April 12, 2009

    There are a lot of proofs.

    Then provide one.

    They are not accepted by the believers

    I’m not a believer.

    With honest people, it is very easy to prove that God does not exist.

    Don’t be an ass. Most honest atheists believe that it isn’t possible to prove that God does not exist.

  257. #257 Emmet, OM
    April 12, 2009

    Thus spake Screechy Monkey:

    It’s amazing how accurate a summary “Kissing Hank’s Ass” is.

    For the benefit of those who haven’t seen the priceless parody in question:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fDp7pkEcJVQ

  258. #258 chanson
    April 12, 2009

    Hahahaha!

    During that part where he gets into all the personal questions about whether you were naughty as a child, I think I would have asked the following:

    When you were a kid did you ever make fun of someone or call someone names? Well, what if — hypothetically speaking — the God of the Bible did exist, and sent some bears to maul you to death for for doing that?

  259. #259 Snoof
    April 12, 2009

    He rose from the dead and defeated death.

    You know who else did that? VOLDEMORT.

  260. #260 nothing's sacred
    April 12, 2009

    @Douglas McClean

    It seems to me that the inverted spectrum argument is (intuitively) convincing that there is something that needs to be explained (even though there are sophisticated analyses showing that, at least in principle, at least nearly all such inversions might be detectable).

    Spectrum inversion is, like zombiehood, ex hypothesi undetectable, otherwise it can’t do its work in undermining functionalism. And just as we cannot remove consciousness without making some physical changes, we cannot interchange the perception of red and green without making physical changes. But if physical changes are made to the subject, that explains a change in perception, and functionalism remains untouched. (The point of the spectrum inversion thought experiment is to defeat functionalism, just as the point of the zombie thought experiment is to defeat physicalism.)

    Are you unpersuaded? Or is your experience such that you don’t see a “colorness” of color at all?

    You seem to be unfamiliar with the extensive work in this area by Daniel Dennett — “Quining Qualia”, “Consciousness Explained” etc. — and other defenders of functionalism. Regardless of how it seems to the experiencer, redness is not a freestanding thing, it only exists within our cognitive space; it is entirely relative, a matter of the structure of the sensory space and links to emotional reactions and memories. In a true inversion, one that actually satisfies the undetectability hypothesis, all of those elements must be inverted — but since our perception of red is nothing above and beyond those elements, nothing changes. Think about red and green — red is alarming and bloody, green is not. Could you look at something that both appears green and appears alarming and bloody? The thought experiment tries to induce you to think you could, but green things simply aren’t alarming and bloody — not the way red things are; if they are like that, then they aren’t green. Greenness and redness consist of nothing above and beyond these associations — or in Dennett’s more mechanical terms, behavioral dispositions.

    It’s hard for us to get this, because we are the very cognitive process we’re considering, and so the tokens of experience — redness, high pitch, the smell of coffee, etc. — of course seem to us like independent, free standing things — how else could they seem? Coffee molecules enter our nostrils, lots of very complex reactions occur, associated past memories are accessed, and we say “hey, smells like coffee“. Regardless of how it seems, there isn’t actually any coffeesmellness, there are just the links to memory emotion that bring forth the word “coffee” rather than some other word. The same is true of redness, but it’s considerably harder to grasp that because we are so immersed in a visual sensorium; it largely makes up our consciousness, rather than being something incidental like a smell or sound. Which is why redness is a particularly poor example to use for understanding these issues but a very good one for qualiaphiles to befuddle us with their intuition pumps.

  261. #261 Aquaria
    April 12, 2009

    But after the last two posted items on him, I think I should read his book.

    Do read it. From the way theotards reacted to it, I expected flames to leap out and burn alive the nearest theist, just from the vitriol, but he was cogent and placid by my estimation. His articles in various magazines were always very well-written, even when I didn’t agree with him, but his talent really shines in book form.

  262. #262 Dark Jaguar
    April 12, 2009

    He did a really good job there, though at the end the host was fishing and caught the only part he and his listeners will focus on, the part where he asks if “maybe he’s only denying it so he can live as he wants” (to paraphrase).

    I think that’s where Hitchens dropped the ball. He should have said that while he does value his freedom, that’s besides the point, it’s all about the evidence. Nearly “admitting” that he may be motivated by his desire to live as he want to and not as a slave just makes it sound like that’s his ONLY argument against not believing in god. I myself used to think such idiotic things at one time, so I’m familiar with the mindset personally.

    It’s really Hitchen’s only weakness, that libertarian tendancy of his.

  263. #263 melior
    April 12, 2009

    What if? You want to know what if?
    Well son, if my aunt had balls, she’d be my uncle.

    Q: How many legs does a cow have, if you call a tail a leg?
    A: 4. Just cause you call a tail a leg, doesn’t mean a tail is a leg.

  264. #264 CosmicTeapot
    April 12, 2009

    Denis Loubet @245

    Here’s a slogan for the Christians: The Jews killed Jesus so the Christians wouldn’t have to.

    If Jesus lived, then being crucified means that the Romans killed him.

    The fact that the Jews were blamed is probably due to the rising in 70AD of the Jews.

    The early Christian church with a Jewish Messiah would want to distance themselves from anything Jewish as much as possible.

    Hence the lie is born of the trial of Jesus. If you read the bible, you will notice how nice the Romans appear, and the Jews not so nice.

    Roman centurion – “Truly he was the king of kings”.

    Jew before Pilate – “Let his blood be on our hands”.

    The bible is a good indication of the politics and propaganda of the early church. The historical Jesus, if he existed, remains an elusive and shadowy figure in the background.

  265. #265 Ryan
    April 12, 2009

    “But, sir – we’re playing a little fantasy game.”

  266. #266 ryan
    April 12, 2009

    “I think that’s highly probable, yes.”

    Lmao, well done hitchens.

    Who’s up for murdering this radio presenter? Apparently, we’ve already commited the sin, just be thinking about it, so whats to lose?

  267. #267 Strangest brew
    April 12, 2009

    266#

    “But, sir – we’re playing a little fantasy game.”

    ‘And you is not playing by the rules’…stomp footsies…
    ‘Please play by the rules’
    ‘You are still not playing by the rules’
    ‘He is not playing by the rules’
    ‘The game won’t work if he does not play by the rules’
    ‘Nasty atheist is gonna make me cry!’
    ‘He is breaking my game’ stomps footsies and pouts.

    ‘Nursey! nursey! ‘bitty’? …

  268. #268 DLC
    April 12, 2009

    I liked Hitchens’ takedown of the religious zealot.
    As for door-to-door or other public encounter god-bots, I liked the one Hugh Laurie’s Dr House pulled.
    “Oh, you’re selling religion… no thanks, I bought some Islam yesterday. ”
    Recently I was stopped in a parking lot by one of these proselytizers. She put herself in my path and asked me If I minded if she talked to me for a minute. I replied: “Yes, actually I do mind, now kindly leave me be.” She didn’t like my reply so I slid around her and continued on into the shop. She talked at my back the whole way.
    Although there is one part of the bible I like, when taken for my own meaning : (1 cor. 13:11) “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”
    I consider religion to be a childish thing, to be put away upon reaching adulthood.

  269. #269 daveau
    April 12, 2009

    My favorite song:

    Satan loves me, this I know,
    for the voices tell me so…

    Works every time.

  270. #270 Citizen Z
    April 12, 2009

    168#

    What was the point of the “what if” game, exactly?

    Seems to be the latest scam jeebus creeps use to way lay targets in the street…
    Most folks think they have to agree with the pre formulated conclusions….it is a way to hook them for the jeebus trawler.

    It’s a cheap psychological trick. Break them down (get them to agree that they’re a “sinner”/”murderer”/bad person) then build them back up (“God loves you”). And all the agreeing is an attempt to put them in a receptive mood.

    Normal people will be inclined to agree just out of a misguided sense of politeness. They really misjudge Hitchens on that point.

  271. #271 tigtog
    April 12, 2009

    A few people up-thread have taken issue with the claim of 3 days for the alleged resurrection, because according to our modern calendar Friday afternoon to Sunday morning is less than 2 days. While I don’t accept the various religious claims about the crucifixion, I also don’t think that the ancients were too stupid to count days. Please don’t make the mistake of thinking that the ancients kept their calendar the way that we do.

    According to the ancient calendar, the alleged crucifixion took place on the afternoon of Friday, this being the first day. The second day started at sundown on Friday and went to sundown on Saturday. The third day began at sundown on Saturday. Thus the idea that Jesus/Yeshua allegedly rose on the third day and that day was Sunday is counted correctly from the ancient perspective.

    There’s plenty of other elements to quibble with in the crucifixion/resurrection legend. You don’t have to make the ancients into idiots who can’t count to deduce that, just like today, a lot of them preferred to accept comforting answers (about the non-recognition/abandonment of the Promised Redeemer being the cause of the destruction of Jerusalem) rather than uncomfortable truths (that their supposedly omnipotent God just wasn’t powerful enough to save them from the Roman Empire).

  272. #272 red rabbit
    April 12, 2009

    Loved it!

    My own version of “what if?” was what sent me scurrying to teh evil atheists in the first place.

    Premise: You love your parents. With all your heart. The honouring your father and mother bit, to wit.

    You are a really good kid, trying to make it into heaven. No thinking bad things, even, because the big guy sees them. Lots of repentance and praying.

    However, your parents sleep around, fight, steal, whatever.

    What if you go to heaven? Can you really have bliss while knowing your beloved parents are sizzling away for all eternity?

    I was a very pathetic child. But even I could see there was no out here.

  273. #273 Chris H
    April 12, 2009

    “Wretched Radio”?

    Lol, this made my Easter :) And the chocolate Jesus, of course.

  274. #274 Monimonika
    April 12, 2009

    red rabbit,

    There’s an “out” for this case, actually. It’s the “God will allow you to not care once you are by His side.” Yeah, you lose all human empathy once you transcend to heaven.

  275. #275 John the Skeptic
    April 12, 2009

    “All glory and praise to you, Almighty God!”
    “All glory and praise to you, Almighty God!”
    “All glory and praise to you, Almighty God!”
    “All glory and praise to you, Almighty God!”
    “All glory and praise to you, Almighty God!”
    “All glory and praise to you, Almighty God!”

    Shit, I’m bored with that already. I hope to fuck I don’t end up in Heaven. Can you imagine how bad it would suck having to constantly repeat that for all eternity?

  276. #276 red rabbit
    April 12, 2009

    I found that clause even more unacceptable, when I thought of it. In fact that made me really distrustful of religion, as I think it well should.

  277. #277 ChrisKG
    April 12, 2009

    Daveau,

    “My favorite song:

    Satan loves me, this I know,
    for the voices ‘in my head’ tell me so…”

    fixed

  278. #278 mattb
    April 12, 2009

    LMAO! Put it in the vault. That is a classic. Great way to spend my Easter morning.

  279. #279 Medusa
    April 12, 2009

    LMAO! Thanks, PZ, just what I needed to survive Easter.

    Hitchens is awesome!

    And, #130, that was great!

  280. #280 Cory
    April 12, 2009

    Hitchens’ look is like “I’m gonna pwn the F**K out of you!”

  281. #281 Fernando
    April 12, 2009

    It would be great that someone provided some subtitles for those of us which are not native english speakers.

  282. #282 Steven
    April 12, 2009

    Todd Friel is a cartoon of a man.

  283. #283 ryogam@hotmail.com
    April 12, 2009

    test

  284. #284 Karl Withakay
    April 12, 2009

    What if:

    What if I had a cat? What if that cat rid my house of any mice that infested it? What if that cat was friendly to all my friends and family; what if it played with them, and laid in their laps when they came over to to my house? What if my friends and family loved that cat and my cat loved them in return? What if this cat always used the litter box and never caused trouble; what if it never scratched the furniture, and never destroyed the plants? What if this cat also didn’t love me and didn’t honor me? What if, despite the way it responded to all my family, friends, and guests in my house, it was indifferent to me? What if it never came to me when I called it, it wouldn’t play with me, and never laid in my lap? What if I thus decided not just to get rid of the cat, not just put the cat to sleep, but to subject the cat to constant agony and torment as punishment? What if I merely decided to withdraw the food and water I supplied to the cat and let it slowly starve and die of thirst?

    Would I be a kind and merciful pet owner?

    http://www.ebonmusings.org/atheism/guestessays/religion101.html

  285. #285 beanjavert
    April 12, 2009

    @24: That is completely brilliant. I salute and applaud you.

  286. #286 Pierce R. Butler
    April 12, 2009

    CosmicTeapot @ # 265: The fact that the Jews were blamed is probably due to the rising in 70AD of the Jews.

    I beg to differ. Xianism began as a heresy within Judaism, immediately reacting against the dominant factions of the Sadducees & Pharisees (hence the repeated denunciations of both in earlier xian writings). Compare with, say, the rudeness of Greens & Libertarians regarding Democrats & Republicans respectively.

    That early phase, btw, is what was originally meant by the term “Judeo-Xian” (first coined circa 1899 – the American “founders” never encountered it, never mind building the country on same).

    The Sadducees, a Temple-centered group, fell with their HQ in Tiberias’s urban renewal of Jerusalem in 70. The more flexible Pharisees, emphasizing various scriptures, lasted longer, which earned them extra dissing as the xian testament was being written & compiled. (Some would say they are now called rabbis.)

    After a few generations as an urban underground within the Roman Empire, the xians were sufficiently distinct from their ethnic/ideological roots to set about badmouthing “the Jews” as a whole.

    This meme has flourished for almost two millennia, and has spread beyond even nominal xianism in the last few centuries. It’s probably most often found at present as a co-infection accompanying Islamic memes, but has spread in that population for primarily non-theological reasons since 1948.

  287. #287 jay smith
    April 12, 2009

    YOU CAN USUALLY TELL WHO THESE PEOPLE ARE BEFORE THEY EVEN GET TO THE DOOR.. ONE TIME I SAW THEM WANDERING THE NEIGHBORHOOD, SO WHEN THEY CAME TO MY DOOR AND STARTED OFF WITH ” MAY WE COME IN AND TALK TO YOU ABOUT “MY” SALVATION” I OPENED MY DOOR AND THEY SAW ME IN MY TOWEL AND I TOLD THEM “I’M NOT INTERESTED”. THEY STILL KEPT TALKING THEIR TALK. SO I OPENED THE DOOR FURTHER AND SAID “YOU KNOW WHAT, I WOULD LOVE TO CHAT LONGER BUT I HAVE 3 OTHER GUYS WAITING FOR ME IN THE BEDROOM.” YOU SHOULD HAVE SEEN THEIR FACES AS THEY RAN AS FAST AS THEY COULD TO THEIR CAR.. IT WAS HILARIOUS… THEY’VE NEVER BEEN BACK SINCE. I GUESS I’M ON SOME “DO NOT SAVE LIST” NOW. LOL

  288. #288 LeeLeeOne
    April 12, 2009

    no caps lock here…

    wtf!

    caps lock is not only a disgrace but it emphasizes ignorance on so many levels.

    if you are angry, state such and state your reasons why.

    do not use caps lock in the process, no matter what your position, as it make you look like a jackass shouting.

  289. #289 Sven DiMilo
    April 12, 2009

    On the other hand, the Shift key is OK…even recommended!

  290. #290 Nanu Nanu
    April 12, 2009

    It would be great that someone provided some subtitles for those of us which are not native english speakers.

    I made on for the first video

    I don’t know if I should post it cause it would make the comments section huge so I uploaded it to a file thingy. If you’re paranoid about files I can email it to you.

    http://www.mediafire.com/?sharekey=98ef8f1d357fdbe636df4e8dca141969e04e75f6e8ebb871

  291. #291 LeeLeeOne
    April 12, 2009

    wtf – ignorance is obviously a prerequisite for this type of literacy, it celebrates ignorance. But to actually celebrate ignorance? wtf?

  292. #292 maddogdelta
    April 12, 2009

    This is so amazingly full of win!

    Friel is engaging in a battle of wits…and he’s unarmed.

  293. #293 jay
    April 12, 2009

    So sorry about the CAPS. I didn’t realize they were on at the time… But wtf were you thinking when you posted your comment about my CAPS? You only show that you are ignorant as well by not capitalizing the first word of each of your sentences. Sounds like YOU have “anger issues… Have a wonderful HOLIDAY!!!

  294. #294 nothing's sacred
    April 12, 2009

    I didn’t realize they were on at the time…

    You only show that you are ignorant as well by not capitalizing the first word of each of your sentences.

    Clueless much?

  295. #295 nothing's sacred
    April 12, 2009

    @24: That is completely brilliant.

    Hardly. See #91 and #218.

  296. #296 toth
    April 12, 2009

    This was beautiful. Hitchens was in control the whole time. Never without a witty response. I especially loved his response to the thetard probing into his sexual practices.

  297. #297 Menyambal
    April 12, 2009

    tigtog defends:

    A few people up-thread have taken issue with the claim of 3 days for the alleged resurrection, because according to our modern calendar Friday afternoon to Sunday morning is less than 2 days. While I don’t accept the various religious claims about the crucifixion, I also don’t think that the ancients were too stupid to count days. Please don’t make the mistake of thinking that the ancients kept their calendar the way that we do.

    The Bible, in Matthew 12:40, says:

    For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

    And I say:

    I’m not an atheist because I have read less of the Bible than you have. I’m an atheist because I have read the entire Bible.

  298. #298 Nephi
    April 12, 2009

    Todd Friel is a delusional, blind and a self righteous zealot. He is no different then FARMS-Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies in his logic and thinking. I can?t believe that I used to think like that.

  299. #299 RSG
    April 12, 2009

    I’ve never been a fan of Hitchens, considering him to be mostly a conservative windbag, but this raised my estimation of him.

  300. #300 bonze
    April 12, 2009

    Daniel de Rauglaudre #223

    With honest people, it is very easy to prove that God does not exist.

    Ah, I hate to go all empirical on you, but “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.”

    Alas, this means that the tedious business of rebutting false evidence will probably never cease.

    “What if… I owned this fantastic bridge, an absolutely amazing bridge, going right into Manhattan? You’d want to buy it, right?”

  301. #301 nothing's sacred
    April 12, 2009

    Ah, I hate to go all empirical on you, but “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.”

    Absence of evidence is not proof of absence, but it is evidence of it, especially if evidence for presence has been sought long and hard. (Sorry, but even Carl Sagan can be wrong.)

  302. #302 nothing's sacred
    April 12, 2009

    considering him to be mostly a conservative windbag

    It’s odd that people think that, considerng that, before 9/11, he was considered very leftist and associated with people like Noam Chomsky an Ed Herman, and other than in regard to “the clash of civilizations” he is still very much a leftist.

  303. #303 Denis Loubet
    April 12, 2009

    Cosmic Teapot: I don’t really believe that the Jews killed Jesus, in fact there’s no certainty that the Jesus character existed at all. But since I find the idea that the Jews Killed Jesus so commonplace, I felt justified in usurping the concept for the sake of sloganistic brevity. (Boy! My prose is florid today!)

    Patricia: ***BLUSH!!!!*** :-)

    I thought Hitchens was great. You could hear the host’s eyes widen every time Hitch flatly said “No.” I do think Hitchens should have stressed the word slavery even more than he did, but he got a lot of great digs in.

  304. #304 jdg
    April 12, 2009

    Todd Friel got owned… man… really badlly!!!

  305. #305 «bønez_brigade»
    April 12, 2009

    Here’s alternate link to the mp3 Buzz posted in comment #155:
    http://www.savefile.com/files/2075311

    I increased the volume a little (w/ mp3gain) and put it on Savefile b/c YouSendIt sucks for long-term storage.

  306. #306 godfrey
    April 12, 2009

    I dig Hitchen’s take. I’ll have to remember some of the better posts on the reparte. Sadly, the host will have, as many people noticed, completely missed the point.

    On another note, Damn! I left a perfectly good post here yesterday, and it seems to have gotten pulled out of the digital ground. Well, the spam is gone, too, so it’s a fair trade…

    btw, in the rcc tradition of keeping the church “the one true religion”, the concept of confession surfaced only about 900 years ago. Further, the concept of purgatory seems to be going away, and iirc, Limbo for babies as well. Hard to nail those papists down when they keep squirming. What will those crazies invent/delete next? Hitchens is correct on the OT/NT disparities. I think that that conversation would be best spent on hard-core biblical literalists.

  307. #307 Alex Deam
    April 12, 2009
    nothing’s sacred

    I don’t believe that there is a God, but I also don’t believe that there is such a proof.

    There are a lot of proofs. They are not accepted by the believers, because it is impossible to discuss with them, because of their tendencies to change the meaning of the words (like “reality”, for example, or “truth”, or “love”).

    With honest people, it is very easy to prove that God does not exist.

    What “proofs” are these? I’m an atheist, and as far as I’m aware, even Richard Dawkins acknowledges that you can’t prove there’s no God, he (and most other atheists) just says there’s absolutely no reason to believe in God.

    It’s odd that people think that, considerng that, before 9/11, he was considered very leftist and associated with people like Noam Chomsky an Ed Herman, and other than in regard to “the clash of civilizations” he is still very much a leftist.

    Wikipedia seems to think he’s now a libertarian:

    In the 1960s Hitchens threw in his lot with the left, drawn by his anger over the Vietnam war, nuclear weapons, racism and “oligarchy”, including that of “the unaccountable corporation”. He became a socialist “largely [as] the outcome of a study of history, taking sides … in the battles over industrialism and war and empire”. In 2001, however, he told Rhys Southan of Reason magazine that he could no longer say “I am a socialist”. Socialists, he claimed, had ceased to offer a positive alternative to the capitalist system. Capitalism had become the more revolutionary economic system, and he welcomed globalisation as “innovative and internationalist”. He suggested that he had returned to his early, pre-socialist libertarianism, having come to attach great value to the freedom of the individual from the state and moral authoritarians.

    If true, that’s a bit of a jump: socialist to libertarian. In fact, one part of the article has him (in a spat with George Galloway) saying that he used to be a Trotskyist. In light of his comments about capitalism there, it would be interesting to hear what he had to say about the current crisis.

    To be honest, I think that Hitchens, being an intellectual, is probably beyond the political spectrum, in the sense that he’s a free spirit, and is no ideologue (except against religion, but that’s a bit different to politics) about matters perhaps. If he is on the right, then he’s one of the few that I can stand anyway.

    Oh and that Todd Friel pwnage he did was just epic! (Though I didn’t get why he said there is was no commandment against genocide. Surely the murder one covers that?)

  308. #308 Mark
    April 12, 2009

    Todd Friel..what an imbecile..if for nothing else he should have sat his stupid arse in front of Youtube for a half hour and watched Hitchen eviscerate religious wingnuts..at least he might have prepared a little better (to the extant that would be possible without requisitioning some reinforcements on the brain cell front)

  309. #309 Alex Deam
    April 12, 2009

    When some proselytizer asks me if I’m a Christian I just answer that I’m a Satanist and expect to go to hell.

    Works like a charm.

    This remind me of an almost-too-good-to-be-true-but-apparently-not story. I was listening to the local radio station, and a woman told a story of how some Jehovah’s Witnesses turned up on her doorstep. She wanted to get rid of them so she tried to tell them that she was an atheist, but instead of saying atheist, it came out as, “I’m sorry but I’m the anti-Christ!”

    I hope I get Jehovah’s Witnesses just so I can see the reaction first hand!

  310. #310 arachnophilia
    April 13, 2009

    @homostoicus: (#54)

    Arachnophilia, you said “i’ve generally found hitchens a rather clueless twit when it comes to religion and his commentary on it.” Yet, he recognized Paul’s words when Friel quoted him. How many godbots can do that?

    paul? lots. but try any other book, and not so much. no, uh, he sorta knows what he’s talking about when it comes to just judeo-christian mythology. but in comparitive religions, he’s failed rather gloriously in the past. on bill maher’s show, he once started referencing the kind of drivel found in that zeitgeist movie. the sort of thing 30 seconds and wikipedia could correct.

    In fact, from what I have seen and read, he tends to know more about the big three religions than the so-called religious scholars he debates.

    of the big three? maybe. but most of those people seem to be the god-bot type, as you say. and it’s sorta hard to NOT know more than those guys. they go to very great lengths to make sure they’re not exposed to certain information. incredibly, they even seem to read the bible with the same blinders on.

    anyways, my intention was to say that i was sort of impressed with his knowledge on the subject here, given my previous impression.

    @Menyambal: (#63)

    not “Yahu-Wahu” or whatever the proper name is

    “yahweh.”

    And “Jesus” is the gay Greek version of “Yeshua” or whatever,

    which is the fruity aramaic version of “yehoshuah” which is the original hebrew version of “joshua.”

    @Sastra: (#90)

    I find it puzzling that Christians seem to think that a cosmic system built on blood feud, revenging honor, and parents “owning” their children is intuitively obvious, when, as products of the Enlightenment, they themselves are very quick to argue against all those things in real life.

    the sad thing is that even the bible, while finding these things intuitively obvious, does not agree that this is best. one could argue that it is precisely kind of mentality that establishes the need for a formal system of law. and even before that point, the book of genesis would not agree that yahweh “owns” humans. the law established in the torah is far from perfect, of course. but it does set forth principles of equality in retribution you speak of: that the punishment must match the crime, and not exceed it.

    it curious that the christian philosophy actually seems like a step BACK from this idea: that we’re damned to an eternity of torment for the smallest little thing (or nothing at all), and that only death can save us. yeah, what? no. i’ve read the torah. i don’t remember that part.

    @Menyambal: (#131)

    Jesus died on Friday evening, remember, and was seen to be resurrected on Sunday morning, right? The Sabbath, Saturday, was in the middle, and folks had to work around that.

    depends on how you count and which gospel you’re looking at, and what things actually mean.

    the synoptics have jesus serving the last supper as a pesach seder, making that friday night, and having him crucified on saturday (still shabbat). he rises again apparently on “the first day” which would be sunday (yom raishon in hebrew, sunday, is literally “first day”), and towards the dawn. meaning, we’re looking at overnight here.

    john moves it back a day, having the crucifixion taking place on the friday night (with christ as the passover lamb), and him rising on the sunday. “3 days” if you count inclusively. neither adds up very well.

  311. #311 sav
    April 13, 2009

    That was a thing of beauty.

  312. #312 Denis Loubet
    April 13, 2009

    Dammit. I hate that “can’t prove a negative” crap. Of COURSE you can prove a god does not exist as long as the god is described as exhibiting a testable property. For instance, if a god is described as one who’s followers can drink any poison without ill effect, and you test them and find they die from Drano cocktails, then that particular god does not exist. Another different god may still exist, but the immune to poison one doesn’t.

  313. #313 ConcernedJoe
    April 13, 2009

    Denis # 313 — I understand your frustration but in my humble opinion in your scenario I’d say the only thing “proved” is the description (characterization of assumed action given by followers) of the god is “wrong” or actually not always reliable. It does not prove or disprove existence anymore then if I said my secret friend in Alaska would never let my mortgage lapse and lo and behold it does lapse proves there isn’t said person in Alaska that I call a friend.

    My point: you cannot PROVE existence of an entity indirectly through actions assumed for that entity by others. You can only test if the assumptions about that assumed entity (that remains hidden from all direct perception) are safe bets for all practical purposes. And thus by definition you cannot prove non-existence the same indirect way.

    Watch the logic. Godiots will always have recourse to some apologetic that logically speaking is really valid to invalidate your proof of a negative.

    More correct to say: “your god always seems unwilling or unable to protect you from poison, and all tests for certain and unequivocally show this god for all advertised purposes might as well not exist, and I see no reason to assume it does exist as advertised.” To me this is not proving a negative but rather simply establishing validity of operable positive assumptions. That is what science does — again in my humble opinion.

    And it do understand your very human frustration – hey such lack of performance screams out to my human intuition — FAIRYTALE!! But science is science, and it has fair and just and right rules.

  314. #314 elitistb
    April 13, 2009

    Okay, the questions about the 10 commandments, using the lord’s name in vain.

    I can’t do this. At all. Ever. I don’t know his name. Does anyone know his name? What is his name?

  315. #315 FP
    April 13, 2009

    This is an excellent discussion on Hitchens belief and how he denies God because he does not want to serve his creator.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8iMDNGXO88I&feature=channel_page

  316. #316 Wowbagger, OM
    April 13, 2009

    This is an excellent discussion on Hitchens belief and how he denies God because he does not want to serve his creator.

    That’s funny, facilis; Sideshow Bob and I often say the same thing about you.

  317. #317 shonny
    April 13, 2009

    Talk about being interviewed by the most idiotic of all village idiots!
    Insufferable, had to give up after a couple of minutes, the futility was just overwhelming.
    Fuck, I am glad I live in a place where religion isn’t a pre-requisite for lots within social life and public offices!

  318. #318 Lilly de Lure
    April 13, 2009

    I’ve never been a fan of Hitchens, considering him to be mostly a conservative windbag, but this raised my estimation of him.

    It was a masterly performance I agree, although he was very much engaging in battle of wits with a man who was not only unarmed but had voluntarily donned a blindfold and tied one hand behind his back!

  319. #319 xenolith
    April 13, 2009

    “This is Wretched Radio.”

    Never have truer words been spoken.

  320. #320 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 13, 2009

    Facilis, your god doesn’t exist despite your repeated claims. Atheism is the default position until you show physical evidence for your god. So far, total fail on your part.

  321. #321 Patricia, OM
    April 13, 2009

    Yaweh.

  322. #322 Patricia, OM
    April 13, 2009

    Denis Loubet @313 – That is a good reply, until you run into one of the members of my old sect.

    It isn’t that gawd failed to save pastor from the rattlesnake venom (or poison). It was the fact that pastor didn’t have enough faith.

    It’s always the victims fault, not gawds.

  323. #323 blf
    April 13, 2009

    Unless, of course, the victim survives. Then the sky dog did some magica miracle.

  324. #324 Sili
    April 13, 2009

    Speaking of Zeitgeist – yes, was taken in – is there a good summary somewhere of what part of the Jesus mythos is stolen from elsewhere? I know a bit about the Mithras cultus with it’s rebirth and baptism in the blood of an ox, but I’d like to see a … ‘synoptic’ Jesus.

    Is the deal about going from the age of Aries to the age of Pisces and the subsequent associations of the lamb with Judaism and the fish with Christianity true?

  325. #325 Patricia, OM
    April 13, 2009

    The Jesus Mysteries by Timothy Freke & Peter Gandy gives a pretty good over view of what was taken from other religions to make up christianity.
    A small and simple book, The Witches Sabbats by Mike Nicols goes through a year of holidays and explains how they were absorbed by christians.

  326. #326 astrounit
    April 13, 2009

    PZ, please, there is no single formula for dealing with shmucks, as you well know, and please stop trying to answer those who keep asking if there is.

    AS you well know, it’s all about being able to think on your feet.

    Christopher Hitchens in this case? As a model? Are you serious? I think maybe you may be kidding.

    I would have thought you would have lambasted him as an example of how NOT to conduct such an “interview”.

    Of course, Hitch has his own personal well-being to take care of, and we may be sure that he did so – to the tune of a number of shots of brandy.

    Jolly good for him. He got suitably comfortable and was able to pull off another confrontation with such effortless ease.

    And some think he actually “won”. Good for him, he was able to warm up to his interrogator…without any positive effect whatsoever FROM THE POINT OF VIEW OF THE SHMUCK’S REGULAR LISTENERS.

    ASTOUNDING.

    ["So, specifically sir, have you ever taken God's name in vain?"]

    It’s gigantically obvious that this so-called “interview” of Hitchens by the shmuck Todd Friel is conducted with the latter fully aware that the former “sounds cheesy” on a phone connection while Friel does everything he can to capitalize on the fact he’s on a mic well fortified with a decent dynamic range, really showing off his commanding voice, with the bass-end of his vocalizations (sound people who are familiar with microphones and recording would immediately recognize the advantage: On NEARLY EVERY important exchange, Friel leans in closer or cups his hand on a headset set-up in order to overpower what a listener is trying to discern from a thin voiced Hitchens on a friggin’ phone hook-up).

    Hmmm…what does that mean? Well, besides the fact that the shmuck can overpower any response made by the phone-in interviewie as soon as the shmuck doesn’t like what the shmuck is hearing, it also means that the guest can’t very well express himself (or herself) if every time they answer a “question” or attempt to make a valid point, it is summarily shot down by the voice of the shmuck.

    ["But you WERE naughty as a child?"]

    Let’s remember that Todd Friel IS a consummate shmuck. We know this because of what we COULD hear, as PZ says, doing the “routine”.

    Who listens to this shmuck’s show? People who have a knack for considering the possibility that their religion is full of hooey? That they may listen to this shmuck’s show BECAUSE they might be introduced to novel ideas that might include a refutation of their most cherished examples of hooey?

    Uh uh.

    Hitchens made a mistake in taking on an “interview” by phone by a concern he either knew was a shmuck or because he didn’t know it. Maybe he didn’t know the shmuckery behind the solicitaton. But once he got on, while he put on a valiant effort (boose notwithstanding…actually, I tend to think it assists him handsomely) it had absolutely no effect whatsoever. Zero.

    Yes, everyone of us who understands rational thinking might have appreciated what he said, but we’re only listeners after the fact. NOTHING he said actually really put that “dumb robot” shmuck out of order…and nobody is going to follow up to talk with that dumb shmuck robot to show him (and his listeners) how full of shmuck they really are.

    Hitchens managed to persuade nobody (and I expect he fully realizes that…have a shot, Hitch). I think it was a bust, and I expect he thinks so too.

    I think it was a better lesson (as if anybody needed one) of how NOT to get caught in a situation like that.

    If it’s a venue that speaks to over 95% already committed to horseshit shmuckery, and that venue is hosted by a shmuck, the general rule would be this: leave it alone.

    Change, I think, is inevitable, but it won’t come through that kind of worthless exercise. From the viewpoint of his shmuck-followers, I guarantee that the shmuck prevailed.

  327. #327 JSug
    April 13, 2009

    Does he play this game a lot? And sound good doing it? If so, he must be used to dealing with intellectual lightweights. Talking to Hitchens, he just sounds like a tool. Frankly, I’m pretty sure I could have run circles around him myself. He didn’t come up with any arguments that would be difficult to counter. This whole “what if” thing is just another version of Pascal’s Wager. “What if I’m right about everything? Doesn’t that mean you’re totally screwed?” Well, sure, but what if you’re wrong? What if that guy over there is right? Doesn’t that mean *you’re* totally screwed?

    If this was a one-time thing, it’s entirely possible he was just trying to trick Hitchens into giving him a sound-byte:

    Friel: “…Would you agree that Jesus’ made the ultimate gesture of kindness and love?”
    Hitchens: “Sure”
    Friel: “You heard it here first, folks. Christopher Hitchens acknowledged Jesus’ sacrifice!”

  328. #328 Denis Loubet
    April 13, 2009

    ConcernedJoe:

    It does not prove or disprove existence anymore then if I said my secret friend in Alaska would never let my mortgage lapse and lo and behold it does lapse proves there isn’t said person in Alaska that I call a friend.

    No, but it DOES prove that you do not have a secret friend in Alaska that would never let your mortgage lapse. That friend does not exist. Another different friend in Alaska, that WOULD let your mortgage lapse might still exist, but not a friend that wouldn’t.

    Patricia: Yes, the follower can say that, but then he’s talking about a different god. He’s talking about a god that factors in the piety of the follower, instead of just issuing a blanket immunity to all followers as given in the description. Plus, you can insist that he take the Drano cocktail before you’ll believe what he has to say about the god, because if he has no faith in his god then why listen to him.

    I like this test!

  329. #329 Alex Deam
    April 13, 2009

    Dammit. I hate that “can’t prove a negative” crap. Of COURSE you can prove a god does not exist as long as the god is described as exhibiting a testable property. For instance, if a god is described as one who’s followers can drink any poison without ill effect, and you test them and find they die from Drano cocktails, then that particular god does not exist. Another different god may still exist, but the immune to poison one doesn’t.

    No, all you’ve “proven” is that the believer wasn’t one of that God’s followers. Your test, lovable though it may be, doesn’t stop there being someone else out there who actually is immune to poison.

    Besides, your “proof” is an empirical test. An actual proof is a logical argument. An empirical test (which is essentially what science is about) doesn’t prove anything. It only provides evidence about something. Most people on here are atheists because there’s no evidence for a god (and in terms of the Christian God, because there’s evidence actually against parts of their religion), not because the very concept of theism has been “disproved”.

  330. #330 Alex Deam
    April 13, 2009

    Hitchens made a mistake in taking on an “interview” by phone by a concern he either knew was a shmuck or because he didn’t know it. Maybe he didn’t know the shmuckery behind the solicitaton. But once he got on, while he put on a valiant effort (boose notwithstanding…actually, I tend to think it assists him handsomely) it had absolutely no effect whatsoever. Zero.

    It had the effect of making the other guy look stupid. That’s good enough for me.

    Hitchens managed to persuade nobody (and I expect he fully realizes that…have a shot, Hitch).

    And you conducted a poll of the show’s listeners when exactly? Or are you just claiming it had no effect because that’s your “belief”?

  331. #331 Alex Deam
    April 13, 2009

    PZ, please, there is no single formula for dealing with shmucks, as you well know, and please stop trying to answer those who keep asking if there is.

    AS you well know, it’s all about being able to think on your feet.

    Yes, no single formula at all…

  332. #332 Kel
    April 13, 2009

    This is an excellent discussion on Hitchens belief and how he denies God because he does not want to serve his creator.

    I’m pretty sure Hitchens would argue that his parents created him… unless you have evidence to the contrary, in which case break it out [sic]fail

  333. #333 Alex Deam
    April 13, 2009

    arachnophilia said:

    paul? lots. but try any other book, and not so much. no, uh, he sorta knows what he’s talking about when it comes to just judeo-christian mythology. but in comparitive religions, he’s failed rather gloriously in the past. on bill maher’s show, he once started referencing the kind of drivel found in that zeitgeist movie. the sort of thing 30 seconds and wikipedia could correct.

    Oh. My. God. So Hitchens knows more about the three main religions than most people including their practitioners, and yet because he has less knowledge than Wikipedia, all of a sudden he’s a “clueless twit”?!

    the sad thing is that even the bible, while finding these things intuitively obvious, does not agree that this is best. one could argue that it is precisely kind of mentality that establishes the need for a formal system of law. and even before that point, the book of genesis would not agree that yahweh “owns” humans. the law established in the torah is far from perfect, of course. but it does set forth principles of equality in retribution you speak of: that the punishment must match the crime, and not exceed it.

    Bullshit. The morality of the flood, to name one of many examples, is appalling.

  334. #334 Feynmaniac
    April 13, 2009

    Facilis/Facilis SP/ Facile Princeps/ FP/ whatever you are going by,

    Some of us have decided not to waste anymore time reading
    your posts and have killfiled you. Can you therefore
    please pick a pseudonym and stick with it?

  335. #335 PZ Myers
    April 13, 2009

    Seconded. Morphing with intent to evade people’s killfiles is discourteous, and grounds for banning.

  336. #336 FP
    April 13, 2009

    The Jesus Mysteries by Timothy Freke & Peter Gandy gives a pretty good over view of what was taken from other religions to make up christianity.

    @Patricia,
    Freke and Gandy’s historical scholarship is comparable to the scholarship of Kent Hovind in evolutionary biology.
    The artifact on the cover on their book is recognised by mainstream archeologists as a fraud and many of the myths they try to connect Christianity only use data from long after Christianity started. A lot is also based on equivocation and intellectual dishonesty.
    @Feymanic
    I just wanted to change my name. I was not intentionally morphing. I will stick with facile princeps
    @Sili
    “I know a bit about the Mithras cultus with it’s rebirth and baptism in the blood of an ox, but I’d like to see a … ‘synoptic’ Jesus.”
    The trouble is that we have data from a Persian Mithras and a Roman Mithras. (from what I read most Mithraic scholars believe the 2 are unrelated). Persian Mithras did not have any of the things you described. All the data we have from Roman Mithraism comes from the 2nd century after the gospels had been written and published.
    All Roman Mithras did was slay a bull. Noting abouit the blood of an ox or rebirth or baptism.

  337. #337 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 13, 2009

    Facilis, no matter what you call yourself, you are still a godbotting liar and bullshitter in our eyes. The only way to change that is to go away for a long period of time, say a minimum of six months, and actually learn some logic and reason, including the weakness of the evidence for the existence of god. You have too much stupid foo on you at the moment for us to take you seriously.

  338. #338 Wowbagger, OM
    April 13, 2009

    Freke and Gandy’s historical scholarship is comparable to the scholarship of Kent Hovind in evolutionary biology.

    Isn’t that description applicable to all bible scholarship? At least that done by Christians, who have a vested interest in ensuring it matches their beliefs.

  339. #339 arachnophilia
    April 14, 2009

    @Alex Deam: (#334)

    Oh. My. God. So Hitchens knows more about the three main religions than most people including their practitioners,

    no no, read carefully now. we were discussing god-bots, not mainstream religious practitioners. and god-bots of the especially christian variety. it’s not very hard to know more than those people. what hitchens said, in specific, sounds like something just about every jewish person knows.

    and yet because he has less knowledge than Wikipedia, all of a sudden he’s a “clueless twit”?!

    err, no. because he parroted a source without bothering to do any research of his own. when i hear remarkable claims, i tend to try to find a secondary source confirming (or disproving) said remarkable claims. don’t you? so if i heard that krishna was born of a virgin, had 12 disciples, and was nailed to a cross… i’d at the very least go look up the story of krishna. turns out, none of those claims are even remotely true.

    Bullshit. The morality of the flood, to name one of many examples, is appalling.

    yes, it is. and it is appalling for precisely the reason that abraham gives several chapters later — that it would be profane to punish the innocent along with the guilty. that argument neither agrees that god owns humans, nor does it agree that mass punishment (in this case sodom) is just. several chapters before the flood, god lets a murderer go free, and even protects him from harm. is that justice? morality? the flood (and many other stories in genesis) seem to establish the need for a formal system of law, because the whim of an authoritative god simply does not do. he either seems to completely overshoot, or let murderers walk. abraham’s coversation with god is actually sort of interesting because the two then haggle about what degree of error is okay in the legal process. the law established isn’t perfect either. but it’s certainly a step in the right direction, and a step away from authoritarian slavery under god.

    and seriously, if evilbible.com is your source for exegesis, you fail right there. if you’d like, i could point out some examples it missed — like the rest of the onan story. or the rape of dinah and the response to it. it’s not even right in half its examples: god doesn’t burn down sodom (and gomorah, and three other cities) because they were homosexual. he destroys the city because the citizens raped guests. gender does not seem to have been a factor. and onan wasn’t killed for refusing to commit “incest.” tamar was of no relation to him, but it was his duty to fulfill a levirate marriage and give his brother offspring. he has sex with her and pulls out, denying his brother of offspring, securing his birthright, and getting off in the process. he’s killed for deception, greed, lust, and theft.

    but as i said, the whole reason these stories seem to have been included in the torah — a book of law — was not for example, but counter-example. the reasons a formal system was needed. and there, even god is capable or error, if you’re reading closely enough.

    @Sili: (#325)

    Speaking of Zeitgeist – yes, was taken in – is there a good summary somewhere of what part of the Jesus mythos is stolen from elsewhere? I know a bit about the Mithras cultus with it’s rebirth and baptism in the blood of an ox, but I’d like to see a … ‘synoptic’ Jesus.

    i’m not sure i could give you one good source. i’m aware that the jesus story was almost certainly influenced by surrounding mythology, but… zeitgeist is paranoid, anti-semitic conspiracy-theorist claptrap. especially when they start just making shit up, and bending dates, and supposing that jesus was influenced by people with whom the authors would have little or no cultural contact.

    mithras may or may not be valid. one may have influenced the other, or the two could have a common influence.

    Is the deal about going from the age of Aries to the age of Pisces and the subsequent associations of the lamb with Judaism and the fish with Christianity true?

    no, not at all. the lamb is a recurring symbol, even in christianity. surely you have heard the phrase “lamb of god?” the fish became a symbol used in secret by the early christian church, thanks to a greek acronym for “jesus christ, god’s son, saviour” which spells “ichthys” the greek word for “fish.” it’s really just another example of paranoid thinking in that movie, wanting to draw associations that are often anachronistic and very stretched.

    @Patricia, OM: (#326)

    The Jesus Mysteries by Timothy Freke & Peter Gandy gives a pretty good over view of what was taken from other religions to make up christianity.

    no. that’s the source most of the christianity portion of zeitgeist plagiarizes from. i have not actually read it, but from an overview of the basic claims (and their representation in zeitgeist) it seems like very shoddy academics. like i said, 30 seconds on wikipedia. when you actually match the stories of jesus and horus/osiris and dionysus, they are nothing alike. you can see where they’re trying to draw the connections some of the time, and they’re very, very stretched. some even come from creative conflation of two myths — taking the earlier separate mythologies when convenient, and the later combined mythologies when convenient.

    it actually sort of saddens me that skeptically minded people fall for this kind of BS, just because they want to agree with it. sure, religion might be a load of crap, and the story might be fictional (and influenced by external sources) but these kind of things should really raise some red flags.

  340. #340 Kel
    April 14, 2009

    I wonder why facilis doesn’t go after Hector Avalos, Richard Elliott Friedman or Bart D. Ehrman.

  341. #341 arachnophilia
    April 14, 2009

    @Facilis: (#337)

    @Patricia, Freke and Gandy’s historical scholarship is comparable to the scholarship of Kent Hovind in evolutionary biology. The artifact on the cover on their book is recognised by mainstream archeologists as a fraud and many of the myths they try to connect Christianity only use data from long after Christianity started. A lot is also based on equivocation and intellectual dishonesty.

    i am also saddened that you agree with me. but you seem to be correct here. and i advise anyone who disagrees to please do some real research into the subject, and not just assume the godbot is lying for jesus. i have no real interest in defending the authenticity of the bible, and will freely point out the areas where it contradicts history or science (archaeology, biology, astronomy, geology, etc). i take no position on the historicity of christ. but some claims are still BS, even if they trash religion. if i were to disprove creationism by invoking perpetual motion machines, wouldn’t you all call me on it? i sure hope so.

    @Wowbagger, OM: (#339)

    Isn’t that description [comparable to the scholarship of Kent Hovind in evolutionary biology] applicable to all bible scholarship? At least that done by Christians, who have a vested interest in ensuring it matches their beliefs.

    no. what a horrendous generalization, completely ignorant of a whole field of academic study. not every person who studies the bible (or even every christian who studies the bible) is a lying charlatan, with a jesus-driven agenda. some are college professors, who teach classes on literature and history and language. and most who study it academically would have quite a lot to say about anyone who tries to affirm that the text is even remotely historically accurate.

    if you’d like an example, i also read this blog, which i believe is a link i gathered from PZ.

  342. #342 Wowbagger, OM
    April 14, 2009

    no. what a horrendous generalization, completely ignorant of a whole field of academic study.

    Actually, I wouldn’t say I was ignorant of it, just obnoxiously dismissive – though that’s still unfair, inaccurate and uncalled for. I do recognise there is academic/scholarly value to biblical studies, and it’s not all an exercise in convenient sophistry.

  343. #343 Patricia, OM
    April 14, 2009

    Oh, shit. Now I gotta catch up.

  344. #344 FP
    April 14, 2009

    I wonder why facilis doesn’t go after Hector Avalos, Richard Elliott Friedman or Bart D. Ehrman.

    I went after Freke and Gandy for using sloppy scholarship and making fraudulent claims. If I saw anyone else doing the same thing I would go after them too.

  345. #345 Patricia, OM
    April 14, 2009

    Wait – Facillis is correcting me? Haw! Ha, ha. That’s rich.

    And then I get corrected again by someone that hasn’t read the book. (Kwok anyone?)

    Would you like it better if I recommended The Counter-Creationism Handbook by Isaak or The End of Biblical Studies by Avalos?

    Not everyone wants to read the heaviest studies. Why didn’t you jump on my recommendation of Nichols The Witchs’ Sabbats And ya know what? I don’t give a fiddler’s fuck what you think of the cover art on the Jesus Mysteries. I don’t care for the current cover of Playboy so what.

  346. #346 arachnophilia
    April 14, 2009

    @Wowbagger, OM: (#343)

    Actually, I wouldn’t say I was ignorant of it, just obnoxiously dismissive – though that’s still unfair, inaccurate and uncalled for. I do recognise there is academic/scholarly value to biblical studies, and it’s not all an exercise in convenient sophistry.

    oh. i see. well, in that case, carry on.

    @Patricia, OM: (#346)

    And then I get corrected again by someone that hasn’t read the book. (Kwok anyone?)

    have you read any of kent hovind or ray comfort’s many publications? do you need to? if the whole point is to make hackneyed comparisons that anyone who has studied the slightest bit of the subject academically would immediately dismiss as fringe, crazy, and not at all founded in legitimate scholarship, do you really need to read the book to know it’s wrong?

    let me rephrase with a different example people here may appreciate a bit more. how much of the bible do you need to read before you realize it’s probably not right?

    Would you like it better if I recommended The Counter-Creationism Handbook by Isaak or The End of Biblical Studies by Avalos?

    i certainly would, yes. i can’t speak for facilis, of course. but i’ll throw it on my reading list after dershowitz and friedman and the quran. (i got bored of spong…) but, from what i’ve heard, avalos is generally regarded a bit more highly by both the scientific and biblical academic communities than freke and gandy.

  347. #347 Patricia, OM
    April 14, 2009

    I’ve read the whole bible, time after time. I’ve read the forbidden texts, the gnostic gospels, the book of mormon, and am poking around in a bit of the koran.

    We don’t all agree on favorite authors. I have grave misgivings over the opinions of Margaret Starbird and Acharya S., but I have still read their books.

    I prefer the Oxford English Dictionary over the Websters or American Heritage, does this concern you as much?

  348. #348 Patricia, OM
    April 14, 2009

    er…Wowbagger, the main point of Hector Avalos’s book The End of Biblical Studies is to show that the whole practice is bullshit and has far, by many times over reached it’s end. (Biblical Studies)

    I’ve been struggling with reading this book since 28 July 2008.

    Sometimes I’m a 40 watt bulb. *grin*

  349. #349 arachnophilia
    April 14, 2009

    no, should it?

    however, my question was a hypothetical. another “what if” i guess. i think you have missed my point.

    if i know creationism is bunk because i’ve taken a bio class or two, and a paleo class, do i need to read dr. dino to know he’s wrong about the earth being created 6k years ago? or will the external knowledge suffice? similarly, if i know the story of horus/osiris, and i know the story of jesus, do need to read the book comparing them to know the comparison is invalid? or would simply having the external knowledge be good enough? not everything deserves a fair shake. some stuff we can ignore because we know better.

    i don’t agree with everything i read, either. but i won’t waste my time on books i know to be wrong, academically shoddy, or intellectually dishonest. mostly because unless they are really well written, or historically significant, they just frustrate me. the bible itself is the exception here — i know it to be wrong, academically shoddy, and intellectually dishonest, yet i still find it interesting for its historical and cultural significance and its language.

    books i agree with can also frustrate me. as i mentioned above, i gave up on spong. mostly because i already knew everything he was writing, and generally more, and was frustrated at all the points he didn’t add. wasn’t nearly in depth enough. i rather enjoyed dershowitz (so far), but i hear he plagiarizes or something, and he’s not the greatest writer. and i spotted more than a few exegetical analyses that friedman and the documentary hypothesis would have something to say about.

  350. #350 Wowbagger, OM
    April 14, 2009

    er…Wowbagger, the main point of Hector Avalos’s book The End of Biblical Studies is to show that the whole practice is bullshit and has far, by many times over reached it’s end. (Biblical Studies)

    I guess, but that’s a charge that could be raised against a few academic disciplines (or topics within disciplines) – and we’ve already had one wall-to-wall shit-fight on that topic in the last couple of months; I don’t want to start another.

    Plus I think that at least a few of the people who are Christians when they start studying it will be atheists once they’re done…

  351. #351 Denis Loubet
    April 14, 2009

    Alex Deam:

    No, all you’ve “proven” is that the believer wasn’t one of that God’s followers. Your test, lovable though it may be, doesn’t stop there being someone else out there who actually is immune to poison.

    Well, no. What the test does prove is that the god that the poisoned follower believed in does not exist. Sure, there may be another god with another follower that is immune to poison, but that’s irrelevant. We have disproved one “possible” god.
    That’s why we need to test all those who believe their god would never allow them to suffer a poisoning. That way we can determine the real god. Let’s get cracking!

    And as to your problems with empirical evidence used in proofs, what are geometric proofs based on if not empirical evidence? The relationship of the angles in a right triangle were determined by experimentation.

    And I’m perfectly aware of of the difference between strong and weak atheism. I’m a weak atheist myself. (I hate the word “weak”, and would prefer the word “default”, but I doubt I’ll have much effect on common vernacular.)

  352. #352 Patricia, OM
    April 14, 2009

    Arachnophilia – Not everyone is at the same level of study as you, in your chosen subjects or I. My level of christian studies is not allowed by my chosen sect of christianity for women.

    While I despise St. Paul for his sexist views it hasn’t stopped me from reading In Search of Paul by John Dominic Crossan and Johnathan L. Reed.

    Don’t take book recommendations so seriously, they are personal opinions, I like Julia Childs recipes, you might think they suck.

  353. #353 Patricia, OM
    April 14, 2009

    Wowbagger – Of course you are right. How the hell could anyone actually read or study the bible and not come out the other side an atheist? It’s such utter bullshit.

  354. #354 ConcernedJoe
    April 14, 2009

    Denis (e.g., #352) your heart is in the right place and again I feel your frustration with the radical believers.

    But all you’ve proven in your scenario is the believers’ assumptions about the actions of an entity are not reliable. Proving the assumptions are not reliable is not proving the entity does not exist.

    If my secret friend in Alaska is Bob — a unique and real individual – and I wrongly assumed stuff about him does my wrongness once exposed vanquish Bob? Would it constitute proof in Court that Bob per se is fictional? I do not think so. It may be evidence that I am naive or foolish or delusional or misinformed but it says nothing as to the existence of the entity Bob. In this case I am accurate in saying Bob exists but wholly wrong in my assumptions about what he’ll do for me. Bob is still Bob – just not as I described him in my own mind.

    And by the way – on the other hand – if my mortgage was paid in some way that was hidden from view every month that does not prove that Bob exists – not without many many more facts of the matter exposed and cross examined. And I dare say a Court may require actual Bob giving actual testimony as to his role in the payment.

    Proving stuff scientifically or even legally is never easy.. and proving negatives – well that is way out of my league no matter how right it feels intellectually and viscerally to draw conclusions about stuff I “know” is all fairy tales.

    I am atheist and not agnostic. I have no doubt there is no god but I have no proof of this. I just have no positive evidence or motivation whatsoever to make me a god exists believer.

  355. #355 Alex Deam
    April 14, 2009

    And as to your problems with empirical evidence used in proofs, what are geometric proofs based on if not empirical evidence? The relationship of the angles in a right triangle were determined by experimentation.

    Er, no. Geometry is a type of mathematics, and is thus a priori knowledge i.e. things deduced outside of experience with the outside world and via thought instead. If we then want to apply geometry to the outside world, we then must do experiments to determine what sort of geometry our universe obeys (Euclidean or some sort of non-Euclidean). However, even if we determine via experiment that our universe obeys Euclidean geometry (note: it doesn’t), that doesn’t mean we’ve proved that our universe obeys Euclidean geometry, only that we’ve got (a lot of) evidence that it does.

    Well, no. What the test does prove is that the god that the poisoned follower believed in does not exist. Sure, there may be another god with another follower that is immune to poison, but that’s irrelevant. We have disproved one “possible” god.

    No, because you haven’t proven that the person you killed actually was a believer. They said they were. Since when do people not lie? It might be very very very very very very unlikely that they are lying, there might be only a 0.00000000000001% chance that they are lying, but it’s still possible that they are lying, so you haven’t proven everything. That’s what proof is! A proven concept is a concept that can’t be wrong, ever. If they never were a believer when you gave them the poison, then you haven’t killed one of that god’s believers, and therefore it’s still possible there’s a god whose believers can’t be harmed by poison.

    Proof is something known deductively, through reasoning alone. Scientific evidence is empirical. It is studying the world using our senses and measuring equipment. If you think senses are infallible, think again. There are numerous reasons why empirical evidence is not proof, the least of which is that you might be drunk (you may think you haven’t touched a drop, but if you’re drunk you might be mistaken). So even if the person you killed wasn’t lying and actually was a believer (not that you could prove that), you still couldn’t trust that they even took the poison or that they’d actually died.

    Any reasonable person, which most of us here are, would accept that there’s no reason to believe in that person’s god. But that’s not the same as proof. Proof is a logical deduction. Think about it. Has anyone ever proven the existence of gravity? There’s a myriad of scientific evidence for it, but no one’s ever proved that “Every mass attracts every other mass”, such a statement is an induction from the available evidence. There’s absolutely no logical reason preventing me dropping a ball right now and watching it be suspended it mid-air.

  356. #356 nothing's sacred
    April 14, 2009

    And as to your problems with empirical evidence used in proofs, what are geometric proofs based on if not empirical evidence?

    Perhaps you should take the first math class of your life and find out.

  357. #357 nothing's sacred
    April 14, 2009

    That’s what proof is! A proven concept is a concept that can’t be wrong, ever.

    If that were really what a proof is, then there are no proofs, because all alleged proofs can conceivably contain errors. A pragmatic epistemology must be far more sophisticated. And when referring to empirical matters, deductive proofs are simply the wrong standard.

  358. #358 nothing's sacred
    April 14, 2009

    Proof is a logical deduction. Think about it. Has anyone ever proven the existence of gravity? There’s a myriad of scientific evidence for it, but no one’s ever proved that “Every mass attracts every other mass”, such a statement is an induction from the available evidence. There’s absolutely no logical reason preventing me dropping a ball right now and watching it be suspended it mid-air.

    You say “think about it” but you clearly haven’t thought much about it. In order to test your concepts, you need to challenge them, not provide examples crafted to fit them, such as your universal statement about gravity. Here’s a harder case: Has a dropped ball ever hit the ground? Prove it by logical deduction.

  359. #359 arachnophilia
    April 14, 2009

    @Wowbagger, OM: (#351)

    I guess, but that’s a charge that could be raised against a few academic disciplines (or topics within disciplines)

    yes, and possibly a legitimate charge. this is the sort of thing i would have to read the argument and the basis, and examine in depth. i might agree; i might not. i certainly have seen a lot of BS in discipline, but rarely from the legitimate and mainstream academic side.

    @Patricia, OM: (#353)

    Arachnophilia – Not everyone is at the same level of study as you, in your chosen subjects or I. My level of christian studies is not allowed by my chosen sect of christianity for women.

    i know this. i’m not even particularly that well-read. i’ve just had a class or two, and learned to spot the BS from a distance. as one, i hope, should be able to do with creationism after only a few bio/geo/paleo classes.

    While I despise St. Paul for his sexist views it hasn’t stopped me from reading In Search of Paul by John Dominic Crossan and Johnathan L. Reed.

    of course i agree that liking the views of a source shouldn’t be a prerequisite for further study. i don’t especially like paul either, but i would certainly be interested in understanding him and his influences more. in more extreme examples, one need not support genocide to study deuteronomy (or mien kampf).

    Wowbagger – Of course you are right. How the hell could anyone actually read or study the bible and not come out the other side an atheist? It’s such utter bullshit.

    i heard someone talking on the radio (npr) about this once. i forget the name of the author, but he wrote a book on the history of redaction of the new testament. he mentioned that academic biblical study is the surest path to atheism. not so much because it’s utter bullshit, really. but because it’s hard to come away with any impression other than the idea it was written by a bunch of rather clueless humans fumbling in the dark trying to define their god in their own image. when you really examine the text, it’s really incredibly difficult to try and see anything even remotely divine in it. combine this with the basic fundagelical pretense of “god’s word” and we know it’s true because god said so, etc, and you have a rather faith-shattering realization.

    i do think it’s important, in biblical studies, to represent the human voices in the texts. that’s the bit i find most interesting, and it’s the bit most frequently neglected. it’s important to look at the text in cultural context, even in relation to other levantine (and mesopotamian) religions, and how history and surrounding cultures helped shape the evolution of judaism and christianity. but “they copied jesus!” is such a gross over simplification, and not at all an accurate representation of any of the religions in question. there are tons of background influences because of exchanged ideas, yes, but no direct plagiarism.

  360. #360 Alex Deam
    April 14, 2009

    no no, read carefully now. we were discussing god-bots, not mainstream religious practitioners. and god-bots of the especially christian variety. it’s not very hard to know more than those people. what hitchens said, in specific, sounds like something just about every jewish person knows.

    No, you read carefully.

    You said:

    In fact, from what I have seen and read, he tends to know more about the big three religions than the so-called religious scholars he debates.

    of the big three? maybe. but most of those people seem to be the god-bot type, as you say. and it’s sorta hard to NOT know more than those guys. they go to very great lengths to make sure they’re not exposed to certain information. incredibly, they even seem to read the bible with the same blinders on.

    That paragraph, that you typed, specifically says that in your opinion, most scholars of the main three religions are “god-bots”. And it specifically has you saying that Hitchens “maybe” knows more about those religions than those scholars do. Now, forgive me if I’m wrong, but surely a scholar of a religion knows more about it than “mainstream religious practitioners” do. Therefore, Hitchens knows more about the three main religions than most of their practitioners.

    Now just to be clear, I’m not actually saying he does know more than most of those religions’ practitioners (though I wouldn’t argue against that proposition), but that what you’ve said implies that he does. If you want to argue against yourself, then go right ahead.

    err, no. because he parroted a source without bothering to do any research of his own. when i hear remarkable claims, i tend to try to find a secondary source confirming (or disproving) said remarkable claims. don’t you?

    Well he parroted a source once according to you. Such a thing does not make him “generally…a rather clueless twit when it comes to religion and his commentary on it”. That means he was wrong. Once. That is not my understanding of the word “generally”, and he’s certainly not clueless if he knows more about three Abrahamic religions than their practitioners. Sure, those aren’t the only religions, but then using the fact that he might not know much about other religions as a justification for calling him “clueless” would make even the greatest religious scholar clueless, since there are thousands of religions to know about.

    By the way, Wikipedia is a tertiary source, not a secondary one.

    so if i heard that krishna was born of a virgin, had 12 disciples, and was nailed to a cross… i’d at the very least go look up the story of krishna. turns out, none of those claims are even remotely true.

    I assume this is what he claimed. Well, maybe you should spend 30 seconds on Wikipedia (like I did), and you would realise that “some believe that Krishna was born without a sexual union”. Now, it’s possible that his mother wasn’t a virgin when he was conceived, but it’s not much of a jump to say that someone born without sexual union, and someone else born of a virgin, are very similar concepts, and that’s all is needed, since I presume the reason Hitchens said that about Krishna, was to establish that not much of the Jesus story is original. This shows that. It’s still wrong to say “Krishna was a virgin birth”, but not that wrong (could’ve been a slip of the tongue). The other stuff is still wrong of course, but I’m just saying here that “none of those claims are even remotely true” isn’t right, since one claim is almost true.

    Incidentally, Wikipedia says, “Vyasa’s Mah?bh?rata says that Shri Krishna ascended to heaven”, so there is at least two similarities between the stories. Did Hitchens mention that part?

    yes, it is. and it is appalling for precisely the reason that abraham gives several chapters later — that it would be profane to punish the innocent along with the guilty. that argument neither agrees that god owns humans, nor does it agree that mass punishment (in this case sodom) is just. several chapters before the flood, god lets a murderer go free, and even protects him from harm. is that justice? morality? the flood (and many other stories in genesis) seem to establish the need for a formal system of law, because the whim of an authoritative god simply does not do. he either seems to completely overshoot, or let murderers walk. abraham’s coversation with god is actually sort of interesting because the two then haggle about what degree of error is okay in the legal process. the law established isn’t perfect either. but it’s certainly a step in the right direction, and a step away from authoritarian slavery under god.

    Well you said that the Torah “does set forth principles of equality in retribution you speak of: that the punishment must match the crime, and not exceed it”. Whether Abraham goes on later to say the flood was wrong or not is irrelevant, when the god of this religion arbitrarily breaks those principles. If Abraham sticks to these principles, then they are the principles of Abraham, not the God of Christianity, and therefore not the principles of that religion.

    and seriously, if evilbible.com is your source for exegesis, you fail right there.

    Well firstly, it was the first site that I could find that gave a list of immoral actions in the bible. I don’t have a source for exegesis of the Bible, because it’s not something I’m interested in.

    if you’d like, i could point out some examples it missed — like the rest of the onan story. or the rape of dinah and the response to it.

    Pointing out things it missed that prove its point further, isn’t a reason it fails.

    it’s not even right in half its examples: god doesn’t burn down sodom (and gomorah, and three other cities) because they were homosexual. he destroys the city because the citizens raped guests. gender does not seem to have been a factor.

    The interpretation of that passage as being not against homosexuality, but against rape, is certainly an interpretation of some Christians, but the majority see it as against homosexuality. The people ask to see the male angels that Lot has at his house, to “let us know them”. “Know them” can be interpreted innocently (which makes God even more immoral), but if it is innuendo, you’re saying it means “rape”. That’s fine, though it could mean just “have sex with”, but let’s take the rape meaning. But the idea that he destroys the city because of rape, rather than homosexuality, is false in the eyes of most Christians, and makes the most sense to me compared to what I know of that part of the Bible. Lot offers up his two virgin daughters to the crowd, so that they’d leave the angels alone. So basically Lot is saying, “Here rape my daughters instead”. Now remember, God destroys the city, but he spares Lot. In other words, God deems the actions of the people in the rest of the city immoral, but not the actions of Lot. So he deems that the city’s homosexuality is cause enough to destroy it, not the fact that they are rapists, since he doesn’t seem to care if they’d raped Lot’s daughters (certainly Lot doesn’t). And don’t forget the name of the city: Sodom. As in where the word “sodomy” comes from.

    and onan wasn’t killed for refusing to commit “incest.” tamar was of no relation to him, but it was his duty to fulfill a levirate marriage and give his brother offspring. he has sex with her and pulls out, denying his brother of offspring, securing his birthright, and getting off in the process. he’s killed for deception, greed, lust, and theft.

    Er, some definitions of incest include sex with in-laws as incest. In fact, according to Wikipedia, in the US, “Many states also apply incest laws to non-blood relations including stepparents, step-siblings, and in-laws.”

    You really should follow your own advice about Wikipedia you know.

    but as i said, the whole reason these stories seem to have been included in the torah — a book of law — was not for example, but counter-example. the reasons a formal system was needed. and there, even god is capable or error, if you’re reading closely enough.

    I’m not sure what you’re trying to say here, but the only interpretation of this I can get is that you’re suggesting that the immoral actions of God were only put in the Bible because they are counter-examples of what not to do. Seems a bit convenient doesn’t it? A Christian or a Jew can claim that their religion isn’t immoral, because tales of their God’s immorality are just in the Bible/Torah because they are “counter-examples”, and not examples to be followed.

  361. #361 Alex Deam
    April 14, 2009

    You say “think about it” but you clearly haven’t thought much about it. In order to test your concepts, you need to challenge them, not provide examples crafted to fit them, such as your universal statement about gravity. Here’s a harder case: Has a dropped ball ever hit the ground? Prove it by logical deduction.

    Sorry, but I don’t see what I’ve said wrong about gravity here. Is it not part of the current scientific knowledge that “Every mass attracts every other mass” (granted GR would rephrase that expression considerably, but you get what I’m saying)? And is it not also the case that that idea about gravity is quite a common thought among most people? So I was providing a simple scientific statement that basically everyone accepts (apart from I guess the Flat-Earthers) to illustrate simply that even the most simple thing we think we “know” about the Universe hasn’t be proven, let alone something like the existence of God. Yes, your example is probably better, but I fail to see why my example isn’t usable.

  362. #362 Alex Deam
    April 14, 2009

    If that were really what a proof is, then there are no proofs, because all alleged proofs can conceivably contain errors. A pragmatic epistemology must be far more sophisticated. And when referring to empirical matters, deductive proofs are simply the wrong standard.

    Yeah sorry, that bit in bold was hyperbole, with me trying to get my point across. In a technical sense, even logical deductions only provide a validation of a concept. The actual objective truth of the concept is never shown even then, as you say. I mean our reasoning capabilities could be in doubt, and of course Descartes showed that we need not be correct when it comes to mathematics either if we’re being deceived. There’s other stuff too I think, the things that stick out to me are the ideas of Godel and Lewis Carroll, and the Munchhausen trilemma (though I’m not sure if all the three of those things are really reducible to the same concept). Other than that the premises might be false of course.

  363. #363 Denis Loubet
    April 15, 2009

    ConcernedJoe:

    But all you’ve proven in your scenario is the believers’ assumptions about the actions of an entity are not reliable. Proving the assumptions are not reliable is not proving the entity does not exist.

    I understand that, but what that means is that the god of their assumptions DOES NOT EXIST. Because their assumptions are wrong, they are describing something that DOES NOT EXIST. If I say that my car travels at a million miles an hour, I am describing something that does not exist. It doesn’t matter that other cars exist, it only matters that the one I’m describing doesn’t.

    In fact your incorrect assumptions about Bob WOULD make the Bob of your assumptions vanish, hopefully to be replaced with a Bob of more realistic assumptions. The Bob of your incorrect assumptions never existed. He was disproved when he failed to meet your assumptions.

    Alex Deam:

    Er, no. Geometry is a type of mathematics, and is thus a priori knowledge i.e. things deduced outside of experience with the outside world and via thought instead.

    No. Math, and logic itself, are based on observations of the way the universe appears to work. The very relationship of the angles of a triangle are based on the curvature of space. If the universe is curved one way, the totals would be greater than they are, if curved another, they’d be less. How we arrived at the total we have is that someone noticed what the total was. It was an act of Empirical Observation.

    And yes, the poisoned person could have lied. Thank you for pushing my rhetorical tactic to such pedantic heights that it finally collapsed. Job well done.

  364. #364 Alex Deam
    April 15, 2009

    No. Math, and logic itself, are based on observations of the way the universe appears to work. The very relationship of the angles of a triangle are based on the curvature of space. If the universe is curved one way, the totals would be greater than they are, if curved another, they’d be less. How we arrived at the total we have is that someone noticed what the total was. It was an act of Empirical Observation.

    No, that’s not entirely true at all. If you read past the part I quoted, you will find I said, “If we then want to apply geometry to the outside world, we then must do experiments to determine what sort of geometry our universe obeys”. The theorems of Euclidean geometry, and elliptic and hyperbolic geometry, are known regardless of their empirical application. The fact that real world geometry near masses follows non-Euclidean geometry was only found out at least a century after the existence of non-Euclidean geometry was known about by mathematicians. Do you really think I need to observe the outside world in order to deduce that the total angles of a triangle in elliptical geometry is greater than 180 degrees? No, of course not. The facts of the different geometry systems can all be deduced through mathematical reasoning regardless of whether they actually apply to the real world. If we then want to see which of the different geometrical systems does actually apply to the real world, then and only then, do we need to do empirical observation to find out which it is. But the actual truths of that geometrical system are worked out through mathematical deduction.

    Otherwise, your argument that “Math, and logic itself, are based on observations of the way the universe appears to work” is akin to arguing that we know that 3+4=7 because we observed it was the case. Which is obviously false.

    And yes, the poisoned person could have lied. Thank you for pushing my rhetorical tactic to such pedantic heights that it finally collapsed. Job well done.

    If you want to prove something, you have to be pedantic. That’s just the way it is.

  365. #365 Denis Loubet
    April 15, 2009

    Look up the word AXIOM.

  366. #366 Alex Deam
    April 17, 2009

    Look up the word AXIOM.

    Why? I don’t see how it helps your case.

  367. #367 L
    April 18, 2009

    “…Does that sound like you, sir?”

    “No. It sounds like Saint Paul.”

    Touche!

    I love that man.

  368. #368 doodles
    April 18, 2009

    about this. “died for ur sins” thing: correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe the human-sacrifice of jesus is to cleanse “original sin” which is transmitted to each generation like a venereal disease.

  369. #369 Bridget Mermikides
    April 19, 2009

    Absolutely brilliant performance by Hitchins… he completely annihilated that twat Friel. Oh to be so knowledgeable and articulate!

  370. #370 DingoDave
    April 19, 2009

    ‘Wretched Radio’ is a very apt description of Friel’s pathetic performance during this exchange with Hitchens.

    In response to Friel’s 1st question concerning ‘God’, I wish Hitchens had retorted with something like; “Which god?”
    Zeus? Baal? Brahma? Vishnu? Allah? Ahura Mazda? Osiris?

  371. #371 DingoDave
    April 19, 2009

    Michael Scott Earl, in his excellent monologue entitled ‘The God Game’ has a more accurate take on the phrase ‘Using the lord’s name in vain’.

    He argues that to use something in vain, means to use something without any good effect or avail, and to no discernable purpose.

    Every time you hear a preacher pray for something (like a healing) in Jesus’ name, and then that thing doesn’t come to pass, then that preacher has ‘used the lord’s name in vain’.

    Todd Friel would do well to understand this if he wishes to avoid the fires of Hell himself. I wonder how often he has prayed for something ‘in Jesus’ name’ and then discovered that nothing whatsoever happened in response to his plaintive plea?

  372. #372 DingoDave
    April 19, 2009

    Friel’s repeated use of the word ‘Sir’ when addressing Hitchens was in itself a passive-agressive tactic used to demean and insult Hitchens in the minds his godbot listners.

    It was a totaly phony and transparent display of false respect. It was nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to display his utter contempt for Hitchens and everything he stands for.

    This is a very annoying habit which I have discovered many Americans adopt when they find themselves in similar circumstances.

  373. #373 DingoDave
    April 19, 2009

    It’s a toss-up which is the most apt name for a right wing Christian radio show. Friel’s ‘Wretched Radio’, or Gene Cooke’s ‘The Narrow Mind’.

  374. #374 Ian Pulsford
    April 20, 2009

    Hitchen’s should have demanded a turn as the whatif asker. It would have been fun to hear the answer to “whatif god doesn’t exist”.

  375. #375 waldo
    April 20, 2009

    Fuck Hitchens. Creaming some numb-nuts small-brained Jeebo-fellator is simple. As #1 said it only takes ” … the Look of Death, and they usually run away right quick!”
    But buttsuck Hitchens said unforgivable shit about anyone who didn’t validate the chimp’s war and made up some Jeebus rated BS to back himself up and deride anyone who disagreed.
    Fuck Hitchens. I wish he’d go back to the Mid East and get his ass well fucking kicked again. Fucking well-educated drunken lying war apologist intellectual misanthropist.

  376. #376 eviltwit
    April 20, 2009

    “God is invisible…therefore easily perceived” (paraphrasing, of course)- he quotes this? – does he even know what he’s reading? – that doesn’t even make sense!!!

    slap
    the
    godbot

  377. #377 rgz
    April 20, 2009

    @Sastra

    If I could mod you up! Hitchens slipped there, he could just say that would still reject God because he is evil, Dawkings would have gotten that one right for sure!

  378. #378 Callif
    April 21, 2009

    Who is foolish enough to ask Hitchens to do something like this?

  379. #379 Flavius
    May 5, 2010

    So entertaining to read hateful comments about people that are showing nothing but love. It is clear to see who are operating on emotions only as they defend their unscientific religion of evolution.

    You embrace things you cannot see, call it science and think it isn’t religion. LOL

    Sure, life started from aliens. Rocks evolved into life. DNA is a myth. Historical facts never happened. What nonsense you embrace to defend your religion.

    The only reason you spend so much time attacking people is that you know they speak the truth. I wouldn’t spend any time on the Spaghetti Monster website because I know there is no Spaghetti Monster. You on the other hand exert so much effort on something you claim is not true. Wow. Your actions contradict your words. The more you propagate your hatred, the more you make Todd look like the loving gentleman he is. Keep digging …

    You need to learn not only science, but you also need to learn history, logic, laws, and ethics. It all fits together perfectly. Only when you pervert science can you embrace the religion of evolution.

    God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.

    There’s no humility here! And it is always sad when someone chooses not only to turn their backs on God’s grace, but when they work so hard to take other people down with them … Their pride blinds them to the truth, and their arrogance tries to defend their baseless ignorance.

    You have to wonder, what is the point of a life spent on hatred and pride? What purpose is there in refuting that which you claim not to believe? Is this the life of someone who evolved from a rock? Pride, arrogance, and hatred? What rock did you learn those qualities from?

    Repent Rock.

    If you spent more time understanding real science, historical facts, and logic – you could spend your short time here in a positive way. You could speak the truth instead of lies.

    You can believe whatever illogical, unscientific things you want. It doesn’t matter. What matters is what is true. Hating someone who speaks the truth will not change the truth. It just says something very sad about you.

    Shalom.

  380. #380 stevieinthecity#9dac9
    May 5, 2010

    Blah blah blah. Take it to the endless thread. This hadn’t been commented on since the December 9th.

    What rock did you crawl out from under?

    There is no god to turn a back on, you goofball.