Rapture rubbish and apocalyptic asininity

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

For some Christians this means laying the groundwork for Armageddon.

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

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

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

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

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

Jews and others who don't accept Jesus, he added matter-of-factly, "are toast."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

YOU ARE A DEMENTED FUCKWIT.

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

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

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

THEY ARE DEMENTED FUCKWITS.

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

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

YOU ARE DEMENTED FUCKWITS.

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


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

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

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

"Do you believe we're approaching or are in the End Times? Or Is the messiah soon to return?"

Wonder if anyone would even ask Mel GIbson that.

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

Ann Coulter needs to be asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jews and others who don't accept Jesus, he added matter-of-factly, "are toast."

I find this a disgusting sentiment that I simply am not sure I can honestly stomach. I find people to be generally good. We all have made mistakes, hurt and been hurt by others but that is part and parcel of being human. I don't even think a person like Hitler deserves eternal suffering. In fact I think that would say more about me for allowing than it is a reference on his action.

Why Jesus would care about whether a building is built on one tiny scrap of land on a tiny dot of his creation is beyond me.

And it should be mentioned if they seek the end so bad they can instantly transport themselves to heaven using means that will affect only themselves.

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

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

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

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

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

By DragonScholar (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

www.bugMeNot.com will help those who don't feel the need to divulge personal information just to read an article..

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

Yep. People like this are entirely wrong about their beliefs. God isn't beholden to their actions and they can't force Him to "end the world" with their plans. Yes, Christians are called to spread the Gospel to the world, but our goal is not to make God bring about the Rapture and End Times. Such thinking is ridiculously un-Christian, but thankfully it's not commonplace.

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

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

By Humbert Dingle… (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

Steve_c - I think that's a heartwarming money-making enterprise, no more. The multiplayer version lets you choose whose team you want to be on - jesus or antijesus. Sort of like Counterstrike or Axis and Allies. In fact, I shouldn't be surprised if one of the more successful mods for this game were to "unlock" this functionality in singleplayer mode as well.

PZ was very clear about who to call DEMENTED FUCKWITS...

Those who believe we are nearing the rapture, first coming/second coming return of Mohammed. Or that they should do ANYTHING to bring it about.

Jason will you call them demented fuckwits? Or your softer more compassionate christian version? Whatever that is.

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

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

A lot of the earth's problems could be immediately solved if all of the world's demented fuckwits were taken away in a rapture. Unfortunately, it's not gonna happen... drats.

By Natasha Coureaux (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

Chance said:

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

There is no such thing as eternal suffering.

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

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

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

Besides... the game just looks lousy.

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

I've been doing that basically all my life. I doubt it has helped. They seem to have achieved a self-sustaining population.

"You are Demented Fuckwits"

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

For all those joining our program already in progress:

Back in April, a Pharyngula reader provided an antitroll killfile. If you use Firefox with the Greasemonkey plugin, this script will put a little "kill" link beside the signature line of each blog comment. Clicking "kill" will screen out the chosen individual forevermore. You still get to see the pieces of their comments quoted by those who reply to them, of course, but in general the replies to a troll are more thoughtful and humane than the original.

I find this little tool raises the average level of discourse visible to me and reduces my inevitable temptation to feed the trolls. As indicated, it only works for Firefox.

By Blake Stacey (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

I say this with sincerity. I am a Christian man who is seriously rethinking my thoughts on my religion.
Jews and others who don't accept Jesus, he added matter-of-factly, "are toast."
I find this a disgusting sentiment that I simply am not sure I can honestly stomach.

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

By Steve Watson (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

BATSHIT INSANE DEMENTED FUCKWITS

From the Game FAQ.

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

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

Does the violence depicted in the game run contrary to Jesus' message on "love your enemy"?

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

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

By Alexander Vargas (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

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

Then Solomon says later of Christianity...

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

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

Demented Fuckwits.

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

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

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

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

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

You have a big misunderstanding on how to deal with people, PZ. You seem to think that however "is right" has the RIGHT to insult. You don't care if you are insulted if the person insulting you is right, and you don't care if you insult anyone as long as you feel you are right.
It just makes for the innecessary accumulation of stupidity, polarization and extremism. No intelligent person feels the need to adorn his views with a string of obscenities. Moreover, he will realize that insulting is invalidating those who oppose him, and can only expect to be invalidated in turn, thrown away along with his message. If you think you have ever turned someone in with that startegy, you haven't. You won't "shock" anyone who was not ALREADY open to doubt.

By Alexander Vargas (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

AV obviously didn't bother to read it.

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

By Alexander Vargas (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

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

By Mark Paris (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scott

By Scott Hatfield (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

well it is kind of funny they believe in this speeding up the process thing, or in converting the jews (HA!!). Just let them! It will wear them out, just like every blatantly stupid word from Rovertson, every hate-intoxicated rant by Coulter. Extremists debilitate and wear their own causes out. And you guys don't want to do that.

The true thing is the despair rapturists live on, that is being reaped and collected. And all you good chaps will just feed into it shouting to rapture believers that they are "demented fuckwits". Try compassion, cause that is what they deserve.

By Alexander Vargas (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

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

By Alexander Vargas (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

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

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

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

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

From 2 Peter 3: 3-13

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

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

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

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

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

From 1 Corinthians 3: 4-13

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

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

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

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

Sorry for the long post ...

By M Petersen (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

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

By Alexander Vargas (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

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

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

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

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

By boojieboy (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

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

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

You don't get it do you Scot? While I appreciate your comments I don't think there is an indication whatsoever that such a thing as 'good' theology exists. Just different theologies. Any theology that ends with people suffering here or later is simply objectionable. I would never lose my faith based on these retards but if the underlying premise is what supports the religion than perhaps the premise is flawed.

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

By Alexander Vargas (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

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

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

Rule number One: "Don't rock the boat."

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

The question is..why is there so much despair in American Society? There is always a fair dose, but why has it increased?

I'm curious to know what evidence you have that suggests that "despair" is in fact increasing?

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

"Jews and others who don't accept Jesus, he added matter-of-factly, 'are toast.'"

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

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

By Alexander Vargas (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

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

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

By M Petersen (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

so quit yer whining:-)

he's venting at some idiots.

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

Look at it this way: they are clearly getting very very desperate. Their beliefs have failed to bear any fruit whatsoever for millenia, and they are getting quite worried.

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

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

By John M. Price (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

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

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

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

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

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

The essence of christianity is the idea that this world is hopeless, and the other world, the TRUE world. Only god can save. There is nothing we can do. The more despaired people feel , the more christianity rocks.
Of course, alternatively, man can feel more confident about his relationship with the world, "at home" within it, and find it more interesting and lovable. They do not turn their back to it, looking forward only to the afterlife. They WANT to take matters in their own hands.

By Alexander Vargas (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

I wrote:

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

M Peterson delivers a long altar call beginning with:

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

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

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

By Steve Watson (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

Ditto that, Max and Scott. Hey, I 've been known to get hot under the collar when confronting the fundie "mindset" (just ask my wife), but shouting "fuckwit" at people doesn't exactly identify one as a intellectually superior lifeform. That, and it will (a) certainly not change the addressee's beliefs, (b) likely engender sympathy for them by observers, and (c) if done at the wrong time or place (Thanksgiving dinner/church social/Iranian marketplace) get you in either alot of trouble with your friends and family, or killed.

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

By Keith Wolter (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

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

By Alexander Vargas (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By M Petersen (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

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

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

Is intellectual fascism intolerance of ignorance and myth?

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

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

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

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

Verifiable proof that "Armageddon" has begun...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Remember, "I come as a thief..." ?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is Wisdom...

Verifiable proof that Armageddon has begun...

Understanding the End Game of Armageddon

Peace...

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

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

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

By CanuckRob (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

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

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

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

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

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

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

Calling them names, telling them that they're wrong, etc. doesn't work on these people. To them, you would simply be viewed as an "unbeliever" who has yet to be "saved". They'll say that you're infected with demons who are blinding you to their "truth".

The really sad part is that the more powerful and organized "stupid fuckwits" (e.g. Pat Robertson, et al) use their fearmongering to prey on some of the more vulnerable groups of citizens (e.g. the elderly, the uneducated, the economically disadvantaged, etc.)

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

hey Seven Star Hand,

Your a DEMENTED FUCKWIT.

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

Umm... that's it.

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

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

I don't want to change their mind.

I WANT them to be scoffed and ridiculed.

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

After reading all that nonsense, I'm glad I'm an atheist. Those 'Christians' and the like must be the saddest and angriest people in the world. Who needs to insult them? Their lives are full of misery. They're in their own little Hell already, wasting their lives on a bullshit mythology that does nothing but make them feel worse.

I agree with PZ, however. We should insult them. They gain power through people just nodding and not giving a damn. Nobody cares about this fatalistic nonsense. Not really, except these losers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By M Petersen (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

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

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

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

M. Petersen wrote:

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

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

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

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

By Jeff Matzke (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

Hey everybody, I REST MY CASE.

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

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

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

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

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

By M Petersen (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

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

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

Hey gumbo,

You have kids? If you do, take them and get out now!

Then maybe try an intervention.

No, none. She's a really nice person, but I thought she was a moderate Xtian when I married her. She's been getting progressively more evangelical recently though.

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

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

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

By M Petersen (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

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

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

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

M Peterson wrote:

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

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

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

Classic abused-child syndrome.

By Steve Watson (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

Hey MPETE,

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

You're rationlizing doesn't mean anything.

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

I don't think it's that God is out to get you. God wants to be with you and has provided a way for that to happen, out of love. But if you say "No thanks", then God must respect your decision because he has given you the right to choose. Where you end up is where everyone else will end up, because there is no difference with sin and God.

God loves you just as you are, lumps and all -- I do believe this. So that is why Jesus came, so you could be with God even though you are flawed. God is loving but he is also just, and sin carries a penalty.

By M Petersen (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"The Rapture was last Tuesday." I like it.

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

By Jeff Matzke (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

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

Gumbo,

Who's she been talking to (she needs new friends)? Or is her church getting freakier?

You either have to educate yourself and talk her back off the platform before she boards the crazy train or give her some new books to read.

OR quit pulling my leg. :)

Re: 4:53pm comment

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

By ThomasHobbes (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

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

By ThomasHobbes (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Alexander Vargas (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

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

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

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

By M Petersen (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

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

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

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

Hard not to just call them suckers too.

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

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

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

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

I am thorougly disgusted.

By commisarjs (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

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

Duh.

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

Maybe the fastest growing thread ever huh?

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

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

Way to much LSD is suspect.

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

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

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

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

M

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Fernando Magyar (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

M Peterson,

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

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

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

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

It's the same tactics used during war when soldiers refer to their enemies as "Krauts" or "Wops"--a dehumanizing tactic.

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

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

I do.

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

I don't care if you're offended.

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

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

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

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

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

Petersen, untold billions have died. Barring medical resuscitations, do you have any evidence that any single one of them has ever come back from the dead?

I have lots of time. But I don't need to spend it trying to decide what happens after you die.
I know you STAY dead.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By M Petersen (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

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

Sorry, html encoding ...

By M Petersen (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

Ah, yes. The End Times.
Apropos of yesterday's discussion of how irony cannot be driven into a fundamentalist Christian's head with a baseball bat[1], I had the following exchange over at Orac's place, just after 6/6/06, with someone who had just posted an adoring comment about GWB:

[H]e is the best representative of American mind and ideals.

Why, on this of all days, when I'd just come around to believing that it is all idle scaremongering, did you choose to offer a convincing argument that we are in fact living in the End of Days?

Posted by: jre | June 7, 2006 12:05 AM
__________________________________________________________
jre,

for you, my claim might stand out more on this particular date. For me though, living in one of the bible belt states, I see the evidence every day, 666 or not.

Posted by: Hans | June 7, 2006 12:54 PM
________________________________________________________

[1] That's merely a statement of skull quality and not an incitement to violence, mind you!

" it's not the loons that PZ cares about, they are a lost cause"

Define "loon". 40% of america?

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

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

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

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

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

By Alexander Vargas (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

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

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

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

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

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

That's pretty much it.

By M Petersen (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No, I do not believe in the Hindu gods.

By M Petersen (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

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

They think they are right, unquestionable and invincible.

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

They' are wrong.

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

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

That's pretty much it.

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

M

Why not?

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

Perhaps this conversation is your sign.

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

By M Petersen (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

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

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

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

Not too different than the holy trinity.

Seems like a more inclusive and "loving" religion too.

You should try it. You could always go back.

Steve: "You could always go back" LOL.

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

By M Petersen (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

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

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

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

The evidence of reality is clear and points to God

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

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

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

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

By Interrobang (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

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

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

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

Define "loon". 40% of america?

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

By Ted Powell (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By M Petersen (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

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

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

"I may be religious but I'm not crazy." syndrome.

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

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

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

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

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

By M Petersen (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

Only if the earth stops spinning.

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

I KNOW the sun will rise tomorrow.

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

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

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

Sorry to be a party pooper.

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

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

RE: Tipping points and 40%

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

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

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

RE: Fuckwits

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

Apologies for length-of-post.

By TheBrummell (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

M. Petersen,

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

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

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

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

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

Time for disengagement.

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

Take the crazy elsewhere.

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

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

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

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

By M Petersen (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

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

M Peterson, you are batshit insane.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By M Petersen (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

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

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

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

By M Petersen (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

A couple random thoughts after skimming the comments...

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

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

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

M. Peterson,

YOU ARE A DEMENTED FUCKWIT!

By Zohn Smith (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

M Petersen,

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

By Jeff Matzke (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

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

M. Peterson,

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

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

Good luck. YADF.

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

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

By M Petersen (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

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

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

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

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

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

"Eternal suffering awaits anyone who questions god's infinite love...Thank you, forgiving lord, for all those options."

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

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

"I'm god. I'm all-powerful."

"I will decide that certain things are bad."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh why not - I'll join this thread that's almost a rope...

What squeaky said (Erasmus too).

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

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

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

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

And your verse:

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

Talks about that gift thing again.

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

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

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

lt.kizhe: Sure, 2 is enough.

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

Paul: Well then, disproven by a comedian.

By M Petersen (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

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

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

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

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

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

By M Petersen (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

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

By M Petersen (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

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

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

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

But before I go.....

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

By commisarjs (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By M Petersen (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

I like you M Petersen.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By M Petersen (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By M Petersen (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

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

By Gentlewoman (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

Petersen,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No, they will not.

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

...and then they spread.

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

By Jormungandr (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

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

Demented Fuckwits. Sheesh.

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

thwaitte:

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

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

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

By M Petersen (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

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

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

M Petersen,

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

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

I'm out.

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

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

By Jormungandr (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

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

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

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

By M Petersen (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

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

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

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

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

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

By M Petersen (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

The name is 'thwaite'.

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

And I'm out - done my bit for exposure.

Christianity is a religion of love because God is love.

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

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

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

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

I would never claim anyone is an idiot.

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

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

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

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

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

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

MPetersen wrote

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

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

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

Ezekiel could have been smoking something, too.

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

Kinda like astrology and fortune cookies...

By Jormungandr (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

I don't think we should descend to their level...

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

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

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

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

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

By Keith Wolter (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By impatientpatient (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

From the Same site...

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

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

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

http://www.thechurchreport.com/component/option,com_simpleboard/Itemid,…

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

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

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

By impatientpatient (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

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

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

Well, i'll just say if again ....

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

By G. Tingey (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

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

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

This is of course also applicable to global warming deniers.

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

M Peterson:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matthew 23:36 - Jesus' second coming did not happen within a generation.

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

roger wrote.....

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Because that would be difficult.

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

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

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

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

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

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

PS - Do you ever sleep?

By Keith Wolter (not verified) on 12 Jul 2006 #permalink

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

"Are you nuts?" Would be appropriate?

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

Of course publicly disresepecting them is acceptable.

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

paleotn, thanks very much!

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

By Steve LaBonne (not verified) on 12 Jul 2006 #permalink

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1 Kings 7:23 - Ï does not equal three.

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

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

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

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

The real value: PI=3.1415926...

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matthew 23:36 - Jesus' second coming did not happen within a generation.

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

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

By M Petersen (not verified) on 12 Jul 2006 #permalink

M

Do you believe the Rapture will happen?

And if yes... soon?

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

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

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

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

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

By M Petersen (not verified) on 12 Jul 2006 #permalink

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

Hehe. Or a Parrot.

Bwak! Jesus loves me! Bwak!

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

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

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

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

Do you hope that you get to witness the Rapture?

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

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

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

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

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

MYOB'
.

Just carry DF repellent.

Where can I buy some?

Most pet supply stores.

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

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

Do you hope that you get to witness the Rapture?

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

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

By M Petersen (not verified) on 12 Jul 2006 #permalink

"Witness the Rapture? It'd be cool to see"

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

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

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

By M Petersen (not verified) on 12 Jul 2006 #permalink

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It's about marginalizing not converting.

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

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

By M Petersen (not verified) on 12 Jul 2006 #permalink

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

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

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

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

By speedwell (not verified) on 12 Jul 2006 #permalink

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other resources include:

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

By M Petersen (not verified) on 12 Jul 2006 #permalink

"Paul: Well then, disproven by a comedian."

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

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

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

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

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

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

As you've been peppering us with links - why don't you read this one:

http://whydoesgodhateamputees.com/

and come back with a coherent answer to that question?

"Some of the facts"

The only place those are "facts" is in the bible.

Cue Josephus quote.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1 Kings 7:23 - Ï does not equal three.

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

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

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

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

The real value: PI=3.1415926...

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

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

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

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

I'll grant you this one.

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

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

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

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

Matthew 23:36 - Jesus' second coming did not happen within a generation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brisance. I love learning a new cool word.

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

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

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

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

By monstruoso (not verified) on 12 Jul 2006 #permalink

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

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

"or Mexicans, or Moroccans?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Alexander Vargas (not verified) on 12 Jul 2006 #permalink

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Alexander Vargas (not verified) on 12 Jul 2006 #permalink

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By M Petersen (not verified) on 12 Jul 2006 #permalink

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

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

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

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

By Alexander Vargas (not verified) on 12 Jul 2006 #permalink

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

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

By Judy L., Toronto (not verified) on 12 Jul 2006 #permalink

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

"outside the universe" of course means "God did it".

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Alexander Vargas (not verified) on 12 Jul 2006 #permalink

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

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

That won't work at all.

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

By speedwell (not verified) on 12 Jul 2006 #permalink

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Indeed.

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

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

By M Petersen (not verified) on 12 Jul 2006 #permalink

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

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

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

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

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

Oh, shit. Now you've done it.

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

As presumably morally responsible individuals we have the moral responsibilty to call bullshit on God.

I simply can't understand how you can stand there and argue that the Christian God is in any way worthy of anything but our contempt. Maybe it's kinder and more compassionate if we just say He doesn't exist. Because if he did exist, any virtuous and decent man would automatically be his enemy just by reason of his virtue and decency.

By speedwell (not verified) on 12 Jul 2006 #permalink

The contradictions absolutely destroy it and for good reason. It has absolutely no basis in reality. Its all just spooky fairy tales. The vast majority of the folks I knew in the faith were good, honest people who simply don't know any better or don't WANT to know any better. Sad really. But the facts remain. Jesus is dead if he ever existed at all. If he did, he was likely a bastard son to who knows who. A 1st century death cult grew up based upon rumors and wild tales of his supposed life.

Ok, so now I get to say ... You make the assertion, now prove it.

By M Petersen (not verified) on 12 Jul 2006 #permalink

The "humiliation" idea is rotten at the root. Totally naïve. Where is the public? and who cares?
And if there IS an unbiased public, who says they should take the side of the insulter and make the insulted feel laughed at? That's juts crazy.
In fact most people will take sides with the calm, even if he is wrong.

See, Stevie, people KNOW that they can be wrong, but they do not want to be insulted for it if caught in error. Anyone has the right to make mistakes and not be insulted for it. This is why RESPECT COMES FIRST. Even if you are absolutelty right. This is what PZ and several don't understand. They think "being right" comes first, and respect is not important. But all you achieve with insulting is tainting what is true in your message with sadistic agressivenes and irrational contamination.

Insulting is comfortable, self righteous and totally useless. I do not ignore them if I talk to them. If I insult them, then I truly ignore them, cause I just shoo them away and think that doing so they actually evaporate into thin air.

By Alexander Vargas (not verified) on 12 Jul 2006 #permalink

Peterson scribbled....

"But reason can most certainly point you to God. And since His existence cannot be proven, that's where the faith choice comes in."

Faith in WHICH farking god, man? Shiva, Allah, Zeus, Oden? There's literally thousands upon thousands to chose from. Reason, without evidence can point you to any one of them. Since you dragged mathmatics into this, given the number of eligible gods, the odds of your god being the real god are......not terribly good. You would probably do better to ditch this religious stuff and head for Las Vegas.

MPETE:

Why do zebras have stripes?

Why do giraffes have long necks?

Why do dolphins have blow holes?

How old (approximately) is the earth?

M Petersen wrote:

"So, the amputee may pray for God to grow His limbs back, and He may pray, "Not my will but Thine". The Will of God will answer this prayer, and the answer will be "Yes, No, or Not Now", but ALL prayer is answered."

It never ceases to amaze me how we're told to expect the results of prayer to look exactly the same as if there were no entity on the other end paying attention, yet it somehow serves a purpose and works!

Vargas, some things are simply not worthy of respect, don't you see? The proper response to stepping in poo is a cry of disgust. The proper response to someone hitting you in the face is to scream in pain. The proper response to someone spouting demeted fuckwadness to you is to reject them in no uncertain terms, communicating to them exactly how you feel about their dangerous nonsense.

By speedwell (not verified) on 12 Jul 2006 #permalink

"Ok, so now I get to say ... You make the assertion, now prove it."

That's not the assertion. That's our answer to *your* assertions.

The ancient world is full of stories virgin births, sons of gods, dying & resurrected gods, fathers and sons, floods and wise men and prophets and doom-saying. The point is, there is not one reason why we should accept the Xian (or Jewish or Muslim or Zoroastrian) version over any other. Can we *prove* that those things didn't happen? Not exactly. But it's a reasonable conclusion to an unreasonable set of claims.

Vargas is right--it is entirely possible to tell someone they are absolutely wrong without also calling them names. This DF solution is a school yard bully tactic. I can't even believe intelligent people are trying to defend it. You may not realize it, but your tactics are the mirror image of religious fundamentalists. The only difference I see between you and them is the rhetoric. If you want to be like them, fine. I'm astonished you don't prefer to take the intellectual high road.

I don't buy all this "it's time to express our anger" business. Fine. Express your anger. But can't you express it without resorting to insults? Martin Luther King expressed his anger in a decidedly peaceful manner against all manner of irrationality.

As for the discussion with MPete. Most of you disagree with him. But note this--he has always been respectful, never called anyone a name, never insulted anyone's intelligence. Now look at the responses to his posts. Look at Chance and Vargas--they were able to express their disagreement without insulting. Many others, however, resorted to calling him names. Again, what, are you 5? I have said this before in other threads--if you have to resort to insults, you look very much like you are the one who is backed into the corner. It looks like that is all you have left to offer. And it looks like you are wrong. If you were watching a debate, and instead of addressing a point, one of the debaters lets loose a string of insults at their opponent, wouldn't you think "this person has no intelligent response." Who would you think won the debate?

You can argue "we can't reason with unreasonable people." So what? It's the people observing the exchange that need to hear reasoned responses. Who cares if you don't convince the converted? But don't turn off those people who actually want to hear REASON. It's for them that you don't want to resort to this "insult the idiots" campaign, It may be satisfying to fling such vitriol, but to the observer, you look like the loser in the argument.

Sheesh, people. Again, I can't believe intelligent people are advocating this as a reasonable way to refute someone's irrational opinion.

Peterson retorted.....

"Ok, so now I get to say ... You make the assertion, now prove it."

My assertions are simply based upon the tangible facts at hand. Outside of Josephus, no contemporary writer even mentions Jesus. And even Josephus only repeats the rumors on which the death cult is based. Slaughter of the innocents in Bethlehem and no record to support the biblical tale. Surely, someone somewhere would have recorded such an atrocity. Those long dead rose again to life at the time of Jesus actual death and no one else in Jerusalem at the time bothered to record such a momentous occasion. A man feeds thousands with a few loaves and fishes. No supporting evidence anywhere to be found outside of the bible. Shall I go on?

Steve_C: To be honest, I really haven't given much thought as to the answers of your animal questions. Is there some profound reason that would make me need to know the answers?

How old (approximately) is the earth? I'm not sure. As R.H. Brown said in a young-Earth creationist journal Origins ( Brown 1992 ) while critiquing "The Age of the Earth" by Dalrymple, G. Brent, 1991:

"Dalrymple makes a good case for an age of about 4.5 billion years for the material of which the Earth, Moon, and meteorites are composed. [...] His treatment in The Age of the Earth has made it much more difficult to plausibly explain radiometric data on the basis of a creation of the entire Solar System, or the physical matter in planet Earth, within the last few thousand years. In my opinion, the defense of such a position is a losing battle."

It could be young, it could be old. Some interpretations of Genesis allow the Earth to be old. Either way, it has little affect on my belief.

By M Petersen (not verified) on 12 Jul 2006 #permalink

Squeaky, if you really can't tell the difference between us and the dangerous delusionals, I strongly suggest you examine the arguments and the evidence. You're arguing ad hominem, trying to conflate the behavior of the arguer with the substance of the argument. Doesn't work that way; ad hominem is the best-known of the well-known fallacies.

By speedwell (not verified) on 12 Jul 2006 #permalink

Peterson wrote...."In much the same way some claim Christians are unwilling to support their beliefs with actual fact, some of you seem unwilling to bother looking into it for yourselves."
Bother looking into it? Good freaking god man, I was born deep in the heart of southern baptistism.

Likewise, here. Not born into it -- teenage convert, born again, baptized, Bible studies, prayer meetings, Scripture memorization, even briefly considered going into the ministry. Did dorm evangelism with the Navigators during Uni years. Could quote all the usual apologetics -- C.S.Lewis, the Trilemma, etc, backwards and forwards. 30 years ago I would be the one making some of MP's arguments, not trashing them (never did swallow Creationism, though. I wasn't that stupid).

Then I graduated, settled down in the Real World -- and had time to think. Within a few years, I'd joined a liberal church where all that crap wasn't so important. Eventually, I became an atheist.

paleotn: folks like you and I are MP's worst nightmare -- fundies who threw the whole thing over, and found that, hey, the water's fine!

Is there some profound reason that would make me need to know the answers?

There's a little thing called Truth that it would pay you to make the acquaintance of someday, when you're quite finished waving your hand at all that irrelevant nonsense. Some of us are active seekers of it out there in the reality you're rejected when you stuck your nose deep in the pages of a "holy" book written by strangers with bones to pick.

Either way, it has little affect [sic] on my belief.

To hear that the truth has little effect on your belief comes as positively no surprise to most of us.

By speedwell (not verified) on 12 Jul 2006 #permalink

My assertions are simply based upon the tangible facts at hand. Outside of Josephus, no contemporary writer even mentions Jesus. And even Josephus only repeats the rumors on which the death cult is based. Slaughter of the innocents in Bethlehem and no record to support the biblical tale. Surely, someone somewhere would have recorded such an atrocity. Those long dead rose again to life at the time of Jesus actual death and no one else in Jerusalem at the time bothered to record such a momentous occasion. A man feeds thousands with a few loaves and fishes. No supporting evidence anywhere to be found outside of the bible. Shall I go on?

In case you forgot, your assertions were:

But the facts remain. Jesus is dead if he ever existed at all. If he did, he was likely a bastard son to who knows who. A 1st century death cult grew up based upon rumors and wild tales of his supposed life

I would assume these "facts" have proof somewhere? I only think it fair to use the same criteria that have been used on my statements. Or is there some "get out of proof free" card I don't know about?

By M Petersen (not verified) on 12 Jul 2006 #permalink

We know why MPETE.

Evolution and natural selection over hundreds of thousands if not millions of years.

The universe is billions of years old.

If you can't accept any of that... why bother even talking.

This isn't about philosophy. It's about reality.

Personally, I'm looking forward to some Fafblog style End Times:

" "I always used to figure God would show up at the end a the world an beam me up to Raptureland in his magical funk-powered mothership," says me. "But that was before he got eaten by Supergod."
"Serves him right!" says Giblets. "If God wanted to go to heaven he should've accepted Metajesus as his personal lord and savior." "

Besides, I can't think of many people who'd be in Raptureland that I'd feel like talking with. What's the point of getting beamed up on the Jesus ship if I can't meet Wittgenstein while I'm there?

What I cannot understand about Christians is the leap from belief in this Yahweh of theirs to the desire to get other people to believe the same thing. It seems to demonstrate an alarming lack of confidence in their own product, shouldn't god be able to sell himself? Pardon my snark, but I'm serious. There's nothing wrong with someone like M. Petersen believing Jesus dies for his sins, but can't believers be satisfied with settling their own question of salvation, and leave it to Jehovah to gather up the rest?

Many people are simply not interested in the question of gods, and I wish that more religious people could have the restraint to respect that. Evangelists could learn a great deal from the religions which are forbidden to do so.

Steve Watson: Hey, you are your own person with the freedom to choose whatever you wish. It's sad to hear, but not entirely surprising.
As you probably already know, I Timothy 4:1-3 "But the spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons. By means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth."

speedwell: Thanks for catching my typo. I am quite aware of the fact that there is Truth. Truth has a huge impact on my life. My question was what effect does knowing the answer to why zebras have stripes have on my life whatsoever. It's really not a pressing issue for me right now. If the earth is old (which it most likely is), I will still believe in God and the Bible remains true -- and the same goes if it is young.

Steve_C: I can accept either premise, old or young, I just haven't yet. As I've said before, I like to consider all the evidence I can to make my decision. My current feeling is that it's probably old. It seems that you're looking for a fight that doesn't exist.

By M Petersen (not verified) on 12 Jul 2006 #permalink

Robyn, I can testify to you from my own 35 years of Christianity that Chistians are scared stiff that, if they do not infect the entire world with thir nonsense, they will be punished. Horribly. Forever.

Make sense now? No, not to me either. That's one reason why I'm not a Christian anymore.

By speedwell (not verified) on 12 Jul 2006 #permalink

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

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

And that is the way it should be according to your own words, which I share too: Science cannot prove or disprove the existence of God.

"But reason can most certainly point you to God. And since His existence cannot be proven, that's where the faith choice comes in"

I would say that reason can be used to argue a god, but it is false to say that to believe in god is an unavoidable conclusion according to reason. We agree that the existence of God cannot be proven.

I said
"So what if some line of evidence seemed to disprove just one aspect of the bible, as you have (quite incautiously) demanded. Would you really consider it? Or would it just "have" to be wrong??? Be sincere, do not be fake to yourself on this question"
You said
"Well there's a big difference between seeming to disprove and actually disproving. I would consider all evidence for and against. I understand the underlying bias you're getting at here".

It simply follows from what we said before: Science cannot prove or disprove the existence of God.

"Kurt Gödel showed in 1931 that no system of mathematical logic was complete in the sense that it could be self-contained, consistent, and complete. The statement of his theorem, taken from Wikipedia, is: For any formal theory in which basic arithmetical facts are provable, it is possible to construct an arithmetical statement which, if the theory is consistent, is true but not provable or refutable in the theory."

Certainly. But despite being incomplete there are self-contained domains of mathematics where things can be proven in completeness, beyond a doubt and with beautiful, crystal clear coherence. The fact that mathematics itself is used to prove its incompleteness is quite impressive, huh?

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

This is a bit paradoxical, isn't it? If you acknowledge that all these beliefs are rational, and that your choice is not the only rational choice, when you jump to saying your belief is nothing less but the ABSOLUTE TRUTH, you cannot expect others to do the same at face value. Right?

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

Let me correct you here, MP. You are thinking within a narrow, lab-bench definition of science. The difference in the hypothetic-deductive method between the more experimental sciences and the comparative and historical are only superficial. Hypotheses are contrasted against actual observations. Careful observation and comparison are valid too and can prove things beyond reasonable doubt.
Would you say I need faith to believe Franklin existed, or that continental drift is true? If so, you have convinced yourself into underestimating what we can truly KNOW for wrong epistemological reasons.
Let me ask you this question. Science is all bout How, about mechansism , explaining experiences through other previously known experiences. What scientific alternative is there for interpreting the history of life on earth, if you exclude common descent?

By Alexander Vargas (not verified) on 12 Jul 2006 #permalink

Many people are simply not interested in the question of gods, and I wish that more religious people could have the restraint to respect that.

I respect that people may not be interested. However, this entire thread including the original subject matter has been centered around the Rapture and the apocalypse. Does that not warrant some sort of response?

By M Petersen (not verified) on 12 Jul 2006 #permalink

How old (approximately) is the earth? I'm not sure.

So, your point of last contact with reality is somewhere just before 'age of earth issue', isn't it ?

If the Bible was a straight forward narrative, why do we argue about what it is saying? The Bible was written by man who is fallible and anything done by man is considered to be fallible.

M. Petersen: Therefore, the Bible can be fallible.It could be young, it could be old. Some interpretations of Genesis allow the Earth to be old. Either way, it has little affect on my belief.

Then you are saying that the Bible can be fallible and is open to interpretations.

Shorter xtian god:
Believe in my wacky, implausible, evidence-free fables, even though they're contradicted by common sense, history, and science, and have parallels in dozens of other dying savior god myths ( I'm the real one; all those others are impostors! Accept no imitations!), or else I'll torture you for all eternity for unavoidable mistakes made during your little Augenblick of existence. Be sure you don't get born into the wrong faith community. Oh, and I love you!

Your god is a sadistic practical joker, if he/she/it exists! At least the Hindus and Buddhists allow for a multitude of lifetimes to get it right.

By Maitre Alcofribas (not verified) on 12 Jul 2006 #permalink

"He said for us to pray that God's will be done. ... The Will of God will answer this prayer, and the answer will be "Yes, No, or Not Now", but ALL prayer is answered."

Yes, about that - why should we bother to pray that god's will be done, and then consider it an "answer" when he does whatever he wants? That's very much the same as claiming that your dog is trained, and proving it by saying "sit if you want to", and then the dog does... whatever. Sits, stands, pees on your leg. You told him to do whatever he wanted, he did, so he was listening to you!

And I am also a former fundie - born and raised Southern Baptist, church three times a week, church camp every year, Baptist Student Association in college four times a week. It's not that we don't understand the "arguments" for God. It's not that we haven't read the Bible or haven't heard of CS Lewis or haven't memorized the Romans Road and the ABCs of Salvation and the FAITH tract. It's not that we simply "haven't heard the message". We've heard, we understood, and we found it lacking. Quoting the Bible as authority doesn't work.

"Not my will but Thine"

That biblical phrase pretty much sums it up. It has mind control written all over it. Subjugation of your free will. I'm sure some televanglist will be happy to tell you what God's will is. And if the lord is your shephard, what does that make you? Baaaahhh....

Peterson spouted.....

"I would assume these "facts" have proof somewhere? I only think it fair to use the same criteria that have been used on my statements. Or is there some "get out of proof free" card I don't know about?"

Ooooo...Just feeeeeel the love of christ in that little retort. Isn't anger a sin there Peterson? Shame on you.

The facts are, no supporting evidence, outside of your dusty book of fables gives any corroborating evidence that Jesus did in fact exist and do all the things listed in the gospels. Josephus merely repeats the rumors. One would expect that some independent source, somewhere would have written down at least some of the real highlights of Jesus' supposed life. Heck, the Romans wrote down nearly everything. Yet, we have zero, zilch, nada, not one single solitary independent source to corroborate the claims of the gospel writers.

I mean, seriously, if someone were put to death this day and age and at the exact time of their death graves and tombs opened up and those long dead came back to life, it's probably safe to assume that someone, somewhere would have written down such a momentous occasion. Yet, for Jesus, there is nothing. If decades later someone told me such a wild tale, depending upon who they were, I would review the available evidence. Since the claims would be so far outside any ordianry human experience and finding no written or oral claims to support said tale independent of the teller, much less any tangible evidence to corroborate the teller's assertions, any reasonable person would conclude the teller was simply wrong.

Given the evidence available and lack there of, I am more than confident in my statements as facts and I add to them the fact that you are full of beans.

This is a bit paradoxical, isn't it? If you acknowledge that all these beliefs are rational, and that your choice is not the only rational choice, when you jump to saying your belief is nothing less but the ABSOLUTE TRUTH, you cannot expect others to do the same at face value. Right?

Not really paradoxical, no. Certain circumstances can contribute to people believing in whatever. People thought the Earth was flat, but it wasn't irrational given the information available. It wasn't true, but could have been rational. So it comes down to either lack of information or an unwillingness to accept it as true. Does unwillingness make someone irrational? Perhaps, it would depend on the circumstances. I don't expect everyone to come to the same conclusion I did, because again people make their own decisions.

What scientific alternative is there for interpreting the history of life on earth, if you exclude common descent?

Creation and a global flood. What is important is not the source of the idea, but whether the scientific evidence supports it better than any other explanation. Given a starting condition that matter, energy, time, space, and the laws of chemistry and physics exist, creation can still be scientific. Outside that, both evolution and creation could not be considered in the realm of science.

Biblical creation offers God as an explanation for what was before my aforementioned starting point. What does evolution offer before the Big Bang?

By M Petersen (not verified) on 12 Jul 2006 #permalink

Robyn, I can testify to you from my own 35 years of Christianity that Chistians are scared stiff that, if they do not infect the entire world with thir nonsense, they will be punished. Horribly. Forever.

Make sense now? No, not to me either. That's one reason why I'm not a Christian anymore.

Who ever said that? That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that.

By M Petersen (not verified) on 12 Jul 2006 #permalink

Steve Watson wrote....

"folks like you and I are MP's worst nightmare -- fundies who threw the whole thing over, and found that, hey, the water's fine!"

Exactly. Gives them a real twist when some of their own come to the obvious conclusion that the whole thing makes no sense. Christianity to me was like having a case of small pox. I survived and now thank goodness I'm inmmune to their tricks and delusions for life.

"Not really paradoxical, no. Certain circumstances can contribute to people believing in whatever. People thought the Earth was flat, but it wasn't irrational given the information available. It wasn't true, but could have been rational. So it comes down to either lack of information or an unwillingness to accept it as true. "

There IS NO EVIDENCE for your claims, beyond the assertions in the bible. How could any all-loving deity condemn his creatures for not buying wild stories on such flimsy (non)-evidence? I repeat, if it exists, the bastard is a cruel practical joker. The free of my hand to him, and both middle fingers to the (empty) sky. Fuck him.

By Maitre Alcofribas (not verified) on 12 Jul 2006 #permalink

Well steve, your interviewed philosopher went farther than I did, he said that shouting insults and calling name should be illegal, you know, stopped by the police and penalized.

Another thing he said is that reason is not only present in "science", and that morality can be rational. Which I have already said before too. In line with this I argued that rational advances in humanistic thinking have been achieved within religious contexts.

And these humanistic teachings, M Petersen, is what is best about religion. The good samaritan. "he who is without sin.." "do unto others..."
Not so insisting you have found "absolute truth" as justification. Love is all good, but it is of little use to say "we MUST love" as a mere imperative. We need rational formulas as to HOW. Without this kind of rational progress, religion eventually wears out, a mere insistence on being the absolute truth (if it does not become something straightforwardly negative!!!)

Think about the good samaritan. Despite his "wrong" religion, the samaritan was the only one that did good. His belief was not the one of the "absolute truth", wasn't it.
This story is meant to respect good people beyond their beliefs. It is a RELATIVISTIC story.

But should not someone pull a donkey out of apit on saturday, or rather resign to "god's will"?? Are we really that helpless and only can live by absolute imperatives?
As an islamic saying says "Trust Allah, but don't forget to tie your camel"

By Alexander Vargas (not verified) on 12 Jul 2006 #permalink

Creation and a global flood.

that should be a scientific alternative ?

Given a starting condition that matter, energy, time, space, and the laws of chemistry and physics exist, creation can still be scientific.

Go on - write down for us at least a hypothesis of creation( aka Poof! ), but really a scientific one...

Outside that, both evolution and creation could not be considered in the realm of science.

And, you should also explain what you mean with that ;-)

Oh, and any heaven that would contain cobags like Shrub, Pat Robertson and that hateful little shitweasel, Tim LaHaye, is not any place that I or any decent person would want to go to.

By Maitre Alcofribas (not verified) on 12 Jul 2006 #permalink

So, what are you doing here? Masochistic, a bit?

I seriously doubt it's the most ridiculous thing you've ever heard. And your Jesus would be a little surprised, I think, if he heard you say he does not threaten to punish those who fail to "bear fruit," as the phrase has it.

One more instance of Divine psychopathy:

Seeing from afar a fig tree having leaves, He went to see if perhaps He would find something on it. When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. In response Jesus said to it, "Let no one eat fruit from you ever again." And His disciples heard it.... Now in the morning, as they passed by they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. (Matthew, Chapter 11)

And this:

He spoke this parable. "A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it, and found none. He said to the vine dresser, 'Behold, these three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and found none. Cut it down. Why does it waste the soil?' He answered, 'Lord, leave it alone this year also, until I dig around it, and fertilize it. If it bears fruit, fine; but if not, after that, you can cut it down.'" (Luke, Chapter 13)

If you bear no fruit (make no converts), you get cursed, cut down. Seems pretty obvious to me, just as it did to the preachers when I heard them preach on these two passages in church.

By speedwell (not verified) on 12 Jul 2006 #permalink

"Who ever said that? That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that."

I'll take that one!
Great Commission, Matthew 28:19-20. 19 being the appropriate part for here, obviously. Perhaps you aren't in an evangelical denomination, but that's a huge part of the ones that are. It's usually paired with James 2, regarding faith without works being dead. If one has faith, one will do what has been commanded, which is preach the good news to all the infidels. If they do not, it is a sure sign that their faith is not true, and therefore they are still going to hell. For not all that say Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of Heaven and all, ya know.

Trust me, I spent waaaayyy too much time forcing myself to go up and knock on the doors of the unsuspecting (yeah, I did it, I was a teenager, it was the pressure of GOD and the church, people) and bother them because it was "What God wants you to do", and if I didn't, I was letting him down and would then have all the guilt associated with the possibility that I wasn't REALLY saved, because if I was then of course I wouldn't mind doing like he said and sharing how happy he made me!

Speedwell simplified and cut corners a bit, but was pretty much spot-on.

Oh, thanks, speedwell - I forgot the fruit parables. There's also the one with the weeds, Matthew 13. Only the one that bears fruit and creates hundredsfold of harvest is kept.

It's all fine, if you want, to say that god is behind biology, orbiting planets, snowflakes and the atom. But it does not help us to understand any of these phenomena in terms of mechanisms. And science is about this. When you explain these phenomenon to fellow scientitst, you mut do it in terms of mechanism and observations that all of them can analize and discuss, regardless of whether they accept your own ideas about whether god is, or is not, behind it.

So just saying god creates is not very scientifically useful. HOW does he create? Does he follow a recipe step by step, in compliance with physicochemical laws? Then we want to see that recipe becasue there is the REAL scientific explanation.

Now then, M Petersen, if you say creationby God, it is worse, becasue you have involved
as part of your "scientific" explanation something we have agreed cannot be proved or disproved by science. Can you expect creation to be considered a "scientific" alternative, then?

If we know that descent with modification, that organic chnge and variation occurs all the time in biology, and we have the transitional fossils showing how a type of primate became human, as scientists we simply CANNOT chose to ignore descent with modification and introduce several events of special creation of full blown organisms by an unkown mechanism... and assum ethe fossil record only "looks" like evolution!!!

You ask us to abdicate from the true spirit of science, and to see evidence for the supernatural where there isn't any, as if jesus just walking on land, rather than water, required for supernatural explanation.

And then again, M Petersen, would you HAVE to lose your faith if evolution is true? Is that all that it takes?

Unfortunatley, many creationsist base their faith in denying evolution in favor of creation. A bad practice, that has brought a lot of frustration to honest, hard-working scientists.

By Alexander Vargas (not verified) on 12 Jul 2006 #permalink

Squeaky wrote:

"I can't believe intelligent people are advocating this as a reasonable way to refute someone's irrational opinion."

As a way of marginalizing someone in the eyes of another, I suppose it is possible that it might work in selected circumstances, but I see no real evidence that the DF approach actually works with the sorts of people that might be motivated by other techniques.

paleton: I apologize if my comments sounded angry, that was not the intent.

You may wish to read the following for evidence of Jesus' existence. There is more evidence Jesus existed than Aristotle, Plato, Odysseus, or Alexander the Great. No serious historian who refute the existence of Jesus of Nazareth.

1. Meier, John P. - A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus. New York: Doubleday, 1991.

2. Harris, Murray. "References to Jesus in Early Classical Authors." Gospel Perspectives: The Jesus Tradition Outside the Gospels. Sheffield: JSOT, 1985.

3. Harris, Murray. 3 Crucial Questions About Jesus. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1994

4. Grant, Michale. Jesus: An Historian's Review of the Gospels. Scribner, 1995.

4.

By M Petersen (not verified) on 12 Jul 2006 #permalink

If Jesus Christ, identified as identical with the God who created the universe (including fig trees), didn't know any better than to violently abuse a fig tree for not having fruit when it wasn't even fig season, it's no wonder many of his followers exhibit the same sort of biological ignorance. And the same sort of evil violence, too, come to think of it.

By speedwell (not verified) on 12 Jul 2006 #permalink

AV: Not quite.

BILL MOYERS: What brought this festival of writers together on faith and reason is the growing chorus of voices that are calling for the protection of religious sensibilities and sensitivities against offense, against the insult. There's something going on here. How do you see it?

COLIN MCGINN: Well, the notion of insult is a slippery one, isn't it? And does it include criticism? I mean, are you insulting somebody's religious beliefs if you criticize them?

BILL MOYERS: Well, the people think that you are.

COLIN MCGINN: They do think that you are.

BILL MOYERS: And they want protection for their beliefs.

COLIN MCGINN: Yeah, that, I think, is wrong. Nobody can have their beliefs protected from rational criticism. If insulting people includes shouting at them and calling them names, that's very bad behavior. But should it be prohibited by law? Maybe, if it's very extreme. But if people just want to have their belief system protected from every form of rational scrutiny, I don't have any sympathy for that. I think there's got to be a very firm distinction between criticism and persecution. And I think people misunderstand the idea of tolerance often. They think that tolerance is the same thing as lack of criticism. But to me, tolerating somebody else's beliefs is not failing to criticize them. It's not persecuting them for having those beliefs. That is absolutely important. You should not persecute people for their beliefs. It doesn't mean you can't criticize their beliefs. Those are not the same thing. I think people have tended to sort of run these two things together, and they perceive criticism as if it was persecution. But it isn't.

AV:
These very same people that I would die for to protect their freedom of speech would love to have my godless ass kicked out of the country or worse because they see this country fulfilling a prophecy of the rapture. They can say whatever they want in public, but I'm not going to supress my freedom to criticize it however harshly.

In other words, they think we're persecuting them anyway just because we disagree with them. Might as well insult them for real, eh? Then they can get their masochistic thrill?

By speedwell (not verified) on 12 Jul 2006 #permalink

Carrying on 5 different topics at once it proving to be a little much for me. I apologize if I miss responding to anyone.

By M Petersen (not verified) on 12 Jul 2006 #permalink

Alexander and T_U_T: I'm going to have to refrain from the evolution debating right now - it's way too much.

By M Petersen (not verified) on 12 Jul 2006 #permalink

OK, which ever one of you was complaining a few comments back about how we're being so ruuuude to poor M Peterson, while he's being sooo polite, you can read his last reply to me, and then you can retract:

Steve Watson: Hey, you are your own person with the freedom to choose whatever you wish. It's sad to hear, but not entirely surprising.
As you probably already know, I Timothy 4:1-3 "But the spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons. By means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth."

Note that, despite all the "God Is Love" talk, when push comes to shove the venom comes out. Apparently, in MP's world "evidence" is equivalent to "deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons", and I'm a liar and a hypocrite for following where it leads. The possibility that MP is just plain wrong is something he cannot even consider -- doubt is not an intellectual condition, but a grave moral fault.

Of course, like any true proof-texter he ignores the second sentence, which clearly indicates St. Paul was probably directing his comments at heretics and Judaizers -- ie. not at atheists, but at other religious nutters who happened to be nutty about different things than he was.

Did I not say -- way back in my first comment on this now over-blown thread -- that the doctrine of damnation was morally corrupting? Could we ask for a clearer demonstration?

By Steve Watson (not verified) on 12 Jul 2006 #permalink

"There is more evidence Jesus existed than Aristotle, Plato, Odysseus, or Alexander the Great. No serious historian who refute the existence of Jesus of Nazareth."
Wha??? Aristotle and Plato wrote extensive works, which survive! Jesus did not write his own Gospel, the Jesus stories were committed to papyrus at a minimum half a century after his supposed existence!
Odysseus was a legendary character; no serious ancient historian that I know of claims the fictional being in the Iliad and Odyssey actually existed as described in those works. There may have been a Bronze Age chieftain of that name who became associated with the much later legends, but that is pure speculation. As for Alexander, there are coins, contemporary inscriptions, independent references in literary works, cities founded by him (Alexandria in Egypt being only the most famous), and copious historical accounts such as that of Arrian, who depended upon contemporary historians (now unfortunately lost). Puh-LEEEZE!

By Maitre Alcofribas (not verified) on 12 Jul 2006 #permalink

M Petersen is willing to look at anti-science... the dishonest who say they have proof that's
alternative to evolution or even the age of the universe itself.

That he hasn't decided one way or another. But he has. He can only accept what supports his worldview that the bible is FACT and infallible. Science and reason are not part of his philisophical make up. He can't even see where he's wrong.

He probably believes that god creates life the moment that a sperm reaches an egg.

There's no point. He probably thinks he's doing something noble by being here.

Harsh is still OK, Steve, though not very useful. But "Demented fuckwit" actually turns things AGAINST us. Quite plainly. If someone says something demented, the adequate response is not an insult. If you think the person is truly mentally ill (which he might be, emotionally) insulting is not what you do, man. The crazy, the ill ? lets insult them yeah. You guys are great chaps.
You always tlak like a manic street preacher is the opponent. This is straw man. In real life, you will be in conversation. And you can calmly lift up an eyebrow and say "do you REALLY believe that?"

An insult is an understandble response only to another insult, and even then it is better to stay quiet. Cause like that, Steve, you WIN. You take the higher ground.

By Alexander Vargas (not verified) on 12 Jul 2006 #permalink

Bearing "fruit" is the natural evidence of belief. It comes out of faith and love. But bearing fruit is not necessarily saving lives.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit." -- Galatians 5:22-25

Christians are commissioned to share with others, right. But it is not a sin to refrain from going door-to-door, and shouting at perfect strangers. God is personal, it's about relationships, not cold-calling and selling on the street.

By M Petersen (not verified) on 12 Jul 2006 #permalink

"...deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons. By means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created...

I thought he was talking about Republican anti-gay politicians on the latest low-carb trend diet, myself.

By speedwell (not verified) on 12 Jul 2006 #permalink

Note that, despite all the "God Is Love" talk, when push comes to shove the venom comes out. Apparently, in MP's world "evidence" is equivalent to "deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons", and I'm a liar and a hypocrite for following where it leads. The possibility that MP is just plain wrong is something he cannot even consider -- doubt is not an intellectual condition, but a grave moral fault.

Of course, like any true proof-texter he ignores the second sentence, which clearly indicates St. Paul was probably directing his comments at heretics and Judaizers -- ie. not at atheists, but at other religious nutters who happened to be nutty about different things than he was.

Did I not say -- way back in my first comment on this now over-blown thread -- that the doctrine of damnation was morally corrupting? Could we ask for a clearer demonstration?

These are not my words Steve, they are God's. Nor did I claim that you were a liar or a hypocrite. In the context of our topic, end times, people will stop believing. That's all I was trying to demonstrate and I apologize for including those other parts in my quote.

I've considered that I am wrong several times on this thread alone - if I am wrong, I'm still a better person than I was for it.

By M Petersen (not verified) on 12 Jul 2006 #permalink

So if you pray, pray for something that's likely to happen anyway, because that's what god was planning for you all along? That's a nice con racket god's got going there, you gotta admit.

Why pray then, if everything is predestined? If it's god's will for you to be healed, then you'll be healed. Or does does he just want to hear suffering people pleading to him before he does what he was going to do anyway?

And don't you think it's somewhat cruel for the god of love to make suffering a requirement for compassion? He has compassion, right? Did he suffer to learn it?

The god of love lets the vale of tears bandwagon roll on, allowing his creations to suffer so that some of them might struggle over the obstacle course he's created and beg him for forgiveness (thus earning a ticket on the rapture express). In his infinate wisdom, he decided that this was the best way to order things? As well as a communications director, I think the god of love needs a stategy advisor (not to mention a good shrink).

I don't believe in the miracle of Jesus Christ. For the record, I also don't believe Elvis is still alive, that lightning bolts are flung from the heavens by Zeus, Thor or Indra or that Santa delivers toys to all the good children in the world in one night.

Simialrly, I'm sure you don't believe the Hindu who claims that Harati protected her children of smallpox or that Krishna miraculously restored sight to their father. You either discount those "miracles" (as I would) or see the hand of your god in them. But how can you be sure it wasn't Harati or Vishnu? The recipients of the miracle seem pretty adament. But they're just blinded by their false belief, right?

Thgough I don't believe in miracles, I do believe in things that are supported by sound evidence (which alas, the bible, though terribly entertaining, is not). And further, if I or the other scientists here could observe a human limb regrowing, if we could study it and rule out all other posible explanations (as opposed to leaping straight to "god did it"), then your god would gains some serious credibility (though we'd be having words with him about showing due diligence in reining in his more extreme so-called followers).

But herein lies the problem - if god does interfere with the physical world by answering prayers, sending floods and performing impressive feats of catering by the Sea of Gallilee, then he falls within the remit of science to investigate, since science is the study of the physical universe. The fact that science has come up with no credible proof of his existance is therefore a big problem for your lurking god. God's only safe from the men in white coats if he stays outside the physical universe (where/what ever that is). But since we can't observe or interact with him there, that makes him pretty irrelevent.

Ironically, it's the bible, by claiming that an interventionist god exists and has intervened, that puts him in the crosshairs of science.

On the DF topic: Yes, people who act to bring about the end of the world because god told them to are demented fuckwits. However, AV and MU do have a point. As a representative of rational thinking, you'll do better sounding rational than sounding emotional and angry. Doesn't mean you have to be any less critical or lend any credibility to their crazy dogma. People who wish for the end of the world are clearly mad. Tell them so, but do it in a way that doesn't make you look as crazy and unhinged as they do to the waverers and moderates your resistance is aimed at swaying in the first place.

Being nice doesn't cost anything. Case in point MP here. I believe that he's deeply, deeply misguided. I'll never agree with his point of view (nor he with mine, I suspect). However, though he's espoused some plain wrong beliefs, he's been polite throughout. It doesn't make him any less wrong, but it does set him apart from the hatemongering pharasees you usually get. That's worth a little respect and courtesy, I think.

Of course, if he's right, no matter how polite I am, I'm still going to hell, which just goes to show that courtesy will only get you so far. :)

(Apologies for the length of the post, BTW).

M Petersen, I'm not here to tell you that religion is nonsense, that you are irrational, or that atheism is the only rational conclusion. You and I know All of that would be simply FALSE.

All I want you to know is that evolution is a scientific fact. This is an EVOLUTION blog, where the menace to the practice of evolutionary science concerns us all gravely.

We are sick and tired of people wanting to justify their religious beliefs by spreading the absolutley false message that what we KNOW, is unscientific hogwash. Yeah, with plenty a lie included on the basic facts, and flagrant dishonesty ain ackowledging whether religion is or not their true motivation.

And now you chose not to talk about this problem which is most distressful to us.

By doing so, all you do is let our insulting buddies here to snicker and repeat to us how we waste our time in trying to expose evolution to religious people as the beatiful fact of nature that it truly is. And therefore we all are remmited to hopelessness.

I think you are an Ok person, but you have just shown us an unwillingness to provide the bridges we need so much. I have no intention other than religion and science can coexist. I don't wnat you to be an atheist or anything like that. But if you refuse to talk about evolution, we avoid an issue that is central to all the people that read you at this blog. How then will you convince them that religion does not turn its back on science?

By Alexander Vargas (not verified) on 12 Jul 2006 #permalink

Actually, if there were one one-thousandth of the evidence for the existence of Jesus (say, an independent account by a contemporary Roman), I would be willing to give this foolishness some provisional credence, as deserving of further investigation. But there is more evidence for the existence of Santa Claus or Mickey Mouse that for Jesus.

By Maitre Alcofribas (not verified) on 12 Jul 2006 #permalink

AV: I really don't think calling someone a Demented Fuckwit is a big deal. At all.
These people have thousands of followers and they are constantly trying to convert more. I have no problem making it clear to someone on the fence that in no way do I think that view is in anyway acceptable. There will be no rapture and there is nothing to get ready for. Period. It should be scorned ridiculed and mocked. ENDLESSLY.

These aren't metaphysical debates or just philisophical points of view. They believe the world will end soon. AND THEY WANT TO SPEED IT UP.

http://www.thegodmovie.com/clip-JesusBeginMyth.php

Jesus is a myth.

Well, one last thought before I go home. Vargas, PZ touched a nerve here.

Dangerous irrational people plotting to take over the world and then destroy it.

We're letting our frustration out, I guess, in a safe place.

By speedwell (not verified) on 12 Jul 2006 #permalink

Speedwell says:

"Squeaky, if you really can't tell the difference between us and the dangerous delusionals, I strongly suggest you examine the arguments and the evidence. You're arguing ad hominem, trying to conflate the behavior of the arguer with the substance of the argument. Doesn't work that way; ad hominem is the best-known of the well-known fallacies."

I don't think you understood my point. My point is that name calling and insults has been a tactic of religious fundamentalists. Inasmuch as PZ and many here are advocating the same tactic, both sides look very similar to me. The point is, if that is a useless and hurtful tactic on their side (and many here have complained about the nasty things they have been called, so clearly they see it as a useless and hurtful tactic), it is a useful and hurtful tactic on your side as well...and not a very intelligent or effective one, either.

This is pertinent too...

BILL MOYERS: You said a moment ago that when you let slip the bonds or the tether of religion, you anticipated that you might find a big hole in your heart.

COLIN MCGINN: Yeah.

BILL MOYERS: Or, in your soul.

COLIN MCGINN: Yeah, yeah.

BILL MOYERS: But you didn't.

COLIN MCGINN: I didn't, yeah.

BILL MOYERS: What filled it?

COLIN MCGINN: In fact, I felt the contrary. It felt to me a better world I was living in without God. I mean one of the things about God is everything you as a moral being do is under the scrutiny of this being who's gonna reward you or not as the case may be. I think it compromises people's moral sense, because they feel as if everything they do which is good, they're doing it because God will approve of them and reward them for it. And once you jettison that idea, you do what you should, because you should, because it's the right thing to do and that you don't feel that there's always some sense of self-interest involved in any moral action that you perform.

I think it's an oppressive idea that God is always looking into your soul at every moment of the day and weighing you up. It makes people too introspective. So, I found it was sort of liberating to not have that oppressive, Big Brother surveillance from God all the time. And I found the universe more interesting and more stimulating without gods. I thought, you know, investigating the universe without a religious impulse or religious perspective on it was to me a more interesting and stimulating thing to do.

Typo in my post above--I meant to say "it is a useLESS and hurtful tactic on your side as well."

"My point is that name calling and insults has been a tactic of religious fundamentalists. Inasmuch as PZ and many here are advocating the same tactic, both sides look very similar to me."

Squeaky,
In normal circumstances, I'd say you have a point. But these particular powerful, influential fuckwits are trying their damndest to destroy the only planet we have, in the service of a ridiculous delusion. I'd say a little righteous anger is in order. If they all lived on the planet Jeebus Prime, then they could fuck it up all they wanted to, and then gape in slack-jawed befuddlement when God's Great Varmint Vac failed to suck them up into the aether to escape the mess they made. But we live here too, dammit!

By Maitre Alcofribas (not verified) on 12 Jul 2006 #permalink

Seems to work for the Ann Coulters of the world pretty well.

Hurtful yes. Useless and ineffective? Debateable.

The right wing has managed to get the public to believe that being a liberal is a bad thing.
Has even managed to convince alot of democrats too. It's been effective for the right.

I get the whole don't stoop to their level thing. But showing lack of passion and conviction in your beliefs doesn't convince anyone of anything.

M.Petersen said:There are certain things that are just true whether you believe it, like it, or even know about it. I believe the Biblical account of Jesus and God to be true. That truth is further validated by my own experience.

You have to decide whether you should go through life thinking things are "just true" because you like the idea of them, or whether you want to make a more honest, open-minded effort to understand the world around you.

You are giving up an awful lot of autonomy and wasting the wonderful brain evolution gave you so that you can experience the feelings you get when you think about the story of Jesus. Do you really want to do that?

The great thing about us as a species is that we move on, we adapt, and we learn when we discover that things don't quite work the way we thought they did. That's the beauty of science.

Don't stop learning.

MA, I will have to remember to use the term God's Great Varmint Vac the next time I have to deal with someone regarding the rapture.

What a perfect description of it for the layman.

By Christian (not verified) on 12 Jul 2006 #permalink

Try demented fuckwit.

Christian,
Feel free to use it as often as you like. (I am rather proud of coming up with it!) Sleepless nights have to be good for something... ;-)
Anything for the cause, to heap further scorn and ridicule on these dangerous lunatics and discredit their murderous program!

By Maitre Alcofribas (not verified) on 12 Jul 2006 #permalink

Ugh, bad math makes me weep bitter tears of rage.

First some definitions.

C=D*pi

pi = C/D

pi = 3.14159~

Next we have 1 Kings 7:23

23 He made the Sea of cast metal, circular in shape, measuring ten cubits [a] from rim to rim and five cubits high. It took a line of thirty cubits [b] to measure around it.

So we have:

D = 10 cubits
C = 30 cubits

gives C/D = 3

pi =/= 3

So there is a choice of

C = 30 and D = 9.55

or

C = 31.41 and D = 10

But then M. Peterson goes on to say:

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

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

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

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

The real value: PI=3.1415926...

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

Which makes absolutely no sense. A circle with C = 111 and D = 106 is impossible. I don't know what you are trying to describe but it is not a circle. The diameter and circumference of a circle have a specific ratio and that is pi. Why are you dividing by 3 at that point? What is the basis for that? Why are you picking the ratio of the numbers translated into English while using some sort of numerical derivation in Hebrew?

Your math makes no sense at all. You are plucking numbers out of thin air. You would have been better off to say "The contractors didn't build the remaining 1.42 cubits of retaining wall or possibly just rounded it off and called it good."

By commisarjs (not verified) on 12 Jul 2006 #permalink

Steve_C "I get the whole don't stoop to their level thing. But showing lack of passion and conviction in your beliefs doesn't convince anyone of anything."

Yes, I get that. But are you really saying you can't show passion and conviction for your beliefs without spouting horrendous insults? Children do that because it is the only language they can resort to. Don't you have a more developed vocabulary than that?

Imagine--someone goes on a news show--say he or she is being interviewed by Jimmy Jimmy Bo-Bo (Jim Lehrer--hopefully somone out there will get the Jimmy Jimmy Bo Bo reference). Jimmy asks, "so, why do you disagree with religious fundamentalists?" and the answer is "because they are just a bunch of demented fuckwits." How is that a better response than a well-reasoned and literate answer? Who is going to be won over when that is all you have to offer as well thought out, insightful evidence?

This ain't rocket science people. Maybe it is an illustration of the gaping hole of understanding between science and the humanities. I don't know...

I disagree with all of what M Petersen says, but the only bit that makes me so angry I want to curse God is the following:

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

It's the "Suffering...makes us strong" part that I cannot accept.

God created everything. God created sin. God created murderers. God created rapists. God created child abusers. God created malaria. God created famine. God created genocide. God created war. God created demented fuckwits.

Consider a hypothetical situation. If you were brutally abused physically and sexually, forced to do things that no one should have to do against his or her will, made to believe twisted things and forced to obey twisted rules, would you "learn" and "grow"? Would you learn "compassion" and become "strong"? Or would you learn that humans are not to be trusted, that you are an inherently dirty and disgusting person, that you deserve whatever happens to you?

Perhaps you would turn to the Bible to comfort you and help you overcome your suffering. And of course you would find so much comfort from Deuteronomy 22:28-29.

I am not a compassionate person by any definition of the word, but even I would not allow any of my creations to be hurt in this depraved way if I were God. I would find some other way to carry out that devine plan of mine, and I would succeed because I would be omnipotent.

That an omnibenevolent God would allow such immense suffering to befall His creations is unjustifiable. There is always another way if you are omnipotent. He just chooses not to use that other way. Meanwhile, children die of AIDS in Africa.

If I'm being interviewed by Jimmy Bobo is wouldn't just call anyone a demented fuckwit.

If I was on the Daily Show. I would. And I suspect the crowd would cheer too. It would be funny.

But on the Newshour I would say something like..."Do I disagree with the fundamentalist belief that we are in the end times? Are you kidding Jim? Don't you? It's completely nuts. You have to be gullible or just stupid to believe it."

Steve_C,

I will use that after I get bored with sarcasm. God's Great Varmint Vac is a good start for sarcasm. Then I can finish off with DF.

I usually skip the reasoning with them part, because most of my encounters with the apocolyptic type have only had a short trip through some sort of "reasoning" straight into delusions.

By Christian (not verified) on 12 Jul 2006 #permalink

Again, why couldn't an all powerful god simply create us in a state of blissful eternal awareness? Why go to all the trouble of making us fallible, corporeal creatures w/ large brains and brittle bones? Why do we have to "learn" anything, or "suffer" or "grow" or "have faith"? Theism and theology are just after-the-fact theorizing, a top-down approach to understanding who we are and why we're here and why we are the way we are. No thanks to all that.

Because we're meant to suffer for original sin.

Duh. Oh and we have free will. Or something.

"I am not a compassionate person by any definition of the word, but even I would not allow any of my creations to be hurt in this depraved way if I were God."

Especially when you could just say "fiat" , and [poof!] everybody would be born with a Compassion Organ (I visualize it as somewhere between the belly button and the naughty bits.)

By Maitre Alcofribas (not verified) on 12 Jul 2006 #permalink

Thanks Steve LeBonne. ;)
Snow in winter, its against god i tell you.
America is a great place and i'm looking forward to it. After reading all these very interesting posts I know I should be able to find at least a if not soul mates, then same thinking folk.
Which brightens my day.

Seen a bumper sticker here in Sydney
"In case of Rapture, this car will be unoccupied".
These people should not be allowed to drive or operate heavy machinary...bloody dangerous that is.

"Again, why couldn't an all powerful god simply create us in a state of blissful eternal awareness? Why go to all the trouble of making us fallible, corporeal creatures w/ large brains and brittle bones? Why do we have to "learn" anything, or "suffer" or "grow" or "have faith"?"

Because he felt like it. Based on his previous actions, I imagine he's pretty pissed by now, with all these people not showing any respect and second-guessing him. He doesn't have to explain a damn thing, and he isn't going to either. Sure he may be psychotic, but he's the dude with the power, remember? Who told you life was fair? I'd hoof it to church, if I were you, and start kissin' some divine ass.

Whew! What a thread!

I agree with PZ that a reaction is needed everytime lunatic ideas of armageddon or creationism is voiced - either dismissal or discussion.

MP,
"Given a starting condition that matter, energy, time, space, and the laws of chemistry and physics exist, creation can still be scientific. Outside that, both evolution and creation could not be considered in the realm of science."

You are confusing the biological theory of evolution (common descent with modification) with the physical theory of cosmology. Spacetime breaks down at bigbang, and its starting condition is presently unknown.

"Biblical creation offers God as an explanation for what was before my aforementioned starting point. What does evolution offer before the Big Bang?"

Evolution offers nothing outside biology. Back in the real world, we don't have enough evidence to choose definitely yet. So today the answer is "we don't know", which is a respectable scientific position.

But there are answers offered by various proposed cosmologies.

One type is Hawking's no-boundary proposal. That type of cosmology has no definitive boundary, so while it means universes continually forming, they are forming from nothing - no first cause, no origin. (As Hawking asks, how does one go south of the south pole?) The times in the different universas are not related, only the possible physics.

Another type is endless inflation. Here too universes are continually forming, wormholing from old ones possibly indefinitely back - no first cause, no origin. The times in the different universas are related.

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

Some of the facts:
[...}
I believe the only plausible explanation for these facts is that Jesus did rise from the dead."

You want to show us convincing evidence to accept that christian beliefs are correct. There are text evidence from several sources that a person "Jesus" existed. That is all.

The only text that mentions remaining "facts" are biblical. That is as much worth as anecdotal evidence, ie not reliable. Here you must present evidence worthy of the science you are judged against (as in correct above). Science doesn't accept anecdotal evidence.

By Torbjörn Larsson (not verified) on 12 Jul 2006 #permalink

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

I call bullshit-----

You need to look up the new series on these african prairie dog things that is like a mini soap opera. It is one of the hottest new shows this summer I read somewhere yesterday, and I will be damned if I can find it.

Anyway, in one of the articles it talked about these animals caring for one of their numbers that was injured. Bringing food, coming in to check on him etc....

Does that not look like human compassion??? Maybe, just maybe, somewhere in our genetic code it is hardwired into us to look after those who are injured???

And don't even start on who made that like that OR I WILL SCREAM!!

Let me tell you- until you have lived with someone for fucking twenty four hours a day 7 days a week for five years in constant unremitting pain, with no end in sight you have NO right to talk about the goodness and usefulness and value of suffering. You and whoever you worship can go shove it....

I look forward to reading the post on the spine that PZ wrote today, and following the link to the paper. That sir, is real hope and real value and real medicine that may pertain to what I live through with someone on a day to day basis.

"Fuckers" is starting to sound like a good word.....

By impatientpatient (not verified) on 12 Jul 2006 #permalink

roger says:

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

"Information Theory and Logic. If the universe is incapable of generating the required information, then it must come from outside the universe."

This is the ID bogus information argument. ("Information is constant. The universe/evolution can't create information. Only intelligent design does that.")

Information is created by various processes. If they are physical, entropy measures that. The second law of thermodynamics says entropy can't decrease. That means the entropy of the universe, ie the information content, raises all the time. That is what we measure. One high-entropy source is randomness in quantum mechanics. (Randomness *is* informationrich - it takes more information to describe pure noise than simpler signals.)

Evolution creates information too. There are random events in evolutionary mechanisms - information is generated. (Mutations in DNA, for example.) The properties of new functions that evolves in an organism means information gained from the environment. Coevolution (between genes within an organism or between species) also generates new information where none existed before. The environment changes - yet more information. This is measurable too in various ways.

So you can tell your creationist friend that physics and biology tells us he is wrong by observations.

By Torbjörn Larsson (not verified) on 12 Jul 2006 #permalink

Torbjörn Larsson, Thanks!

Oh, and roger,

The reason the answer may be a little confusing is that it is creationist thinking to discuss information. Biologists does that too, but rarer - to discuss information instead of function ("what does this new thingy on that there species do?") is not getting them much information. ;-)

By Torbjörn Larsson (not verified) on 12 Jul 2006 #permalink

Delurking for two quick points:

1) Christianity is and always has been a death cult. It was good to see a couple people use that exact phrase. I find that not many people understand what it means.

2) M Petersen doesn't think we can "see into the future" even enough just to know that the sun will rise tomorrow, yet he thinks that the Bible provides a valid peek into the future via prophecy. He thinks the latter, of course, because he thinks God is "outside time" and the Bible is the "word of God". I'd just like to inform him that I know the sun will rise tomorrow because God told me it will.

It's a death cult, and it's also an Eastern Mystery Religion. They hate it when you point that out, even if it is an accurate taxonomical classification of their faith.

impatientpatient,

RAmen.

M Petersen, I'm not here to tell you that religion is nonsense, that you are irrational, or that atheism is the only rational conclusion. You and I know All of that would be simply FALSE.

All I want you to know is that evolution is a scientific fact. This is an EVOLUTION blog, where the menace to the practice of evolutionary science concerns us all gravely.

We are sick and tired of people wanting to justify their religious beliefs by spreading the absolutley false message that what we KNOW, is unscientific hogwash. Yeah, with plenty a lie included on the basic facts, and flagrant dishonesty ain ackowledging whether religion is or not their true motivation.

And now you chose not to talk about this problem which is most distressful to us.

By doing so, all you do is let our insulting buddies here to snicker and repeat to us how we waste our time in trying to expose evolution to religious people as the beatiful fact of nature that it truly is. And therefore we all are remmited to hopelessness.

I think you are an Ok person, but you have just shown us an unwillingness to provide the bridges we need so much. I have no intention other than religion and science can coexist. I don't wnat you to be an atheist or anything like that. But if you refuse to talk about evolution, we avoid an issue that is central to all the people that read you at this blog. How then will you convince them that religion does not turn its back on science?

I am not refusing to talk about evolution indefinitely. There's just soooo many topics here, and out of respect for PZ (given this is his blog), I was attempting to remain on the original topic. Furthermore, the origin of the universe is an enormous topic, one which I imagine will be quite the undertaking.

By M Petersen (not verified) on 12 Jul 2006 #permalink

You have to decide whether you should go through life thinking things are "just true" because you like the idea of them, or whether you want to make a more honest, open-minded effort to understand the world around you.

You are giving up an awful lot of autonomy and wasting the wonderful brain evolution gave you so that you can experience the feelings you get when you think about the story of Jesus. Do you really want to do that?

The great thing about us as a species is that we move on, we adapt, and we learn when we discover that things don't quite work the way we thought they did. That's the beauty of science.

It's not about liking the idea of it. I am convinced it is true. I believe God's way is better for me. The beauty of science is quite evident to me, even as I look at the genius in the periodic table. But then I look at, say, Helium and I wonder "Where did Helium come from? How did it get here". You have to start with something.... shoot there I go into the origin of the universe.

By M Petersen (not verified) on 12 Jul 2006 #permalink

Helium came from hydrogen, no?

Science does not speculate about why the universe came into existence. That's a philosophical debate.

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

This passage seems to be metaphorical rather than literal to me.

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

The whole reason for God calling some animals unclean was to keep people healthy - they didn't have the antibiotics we have today. Pigs do not have sweat glands, so impurities remain in the the fat, and they will eat anything including disease-laden refuse.

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

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

Thanks for the link, interesting article. I would come back with: http://www.tektonics.org/uz/zeketyre.html

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

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

How widespread was the farming of marijuana in that particular area? Maybe there weren't any marijuana farmers present. It's a stretch, but I honestly don't have a concrete answer for this.

OK. Did that happen? Which "wise men and teachers" were "killed and crucified" within 25 years of Jesus' death? Who was flogged in the synagogues? Why did no-one notice that they were covered with "all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth"? You'd think that the dry cleaners, at least, would have commented on that.
In short, even if this is not about the end of the world (and I remain convinced that it is - cf Matt 16:28, Matt 26:64, Mark 9:1, Mark 13:30, Mark 14:62, Luke 9:27, Luke 21:32, John 5:25, John 21:22), then it's still clearly a failed prophecy.

I'm not sure. I don't know of evidence available to support the event. The passages you mention concern entirely different subjects and contexts, though they are about the end of the world - this passage is not.

By M Petersen (not verified) on 12 Jul 2006 #permalink

The past ninety minutes I've been absorbed in this thread has been the best entertainment I've had in a while. Thank you all, especially you DEMENTED FUCKWITS. BBB

By B. B.Breece (not verified) on 12 Jul 2006 #permalink

It's the "Suffering...makes us strong" part that I cannot accept.

God created everything. God created sin. God created murderers. God created rapists. God created child abusers. God created malaria. God created famine. God created genocide. God created war. God created demented fuckwits.

Consider a hypothetical situation. If you were brutally abused physically and sexually, forced to do things that no one should have to do against his or her will, made to believe twisted things and forced to obey twisted rules, would you "learn" and "grow"? Would you learn "compassion" and become "strong"? Or would you learn that humans are not to be trusted, that you are an inherently dirty and disgusting person, that you deserve whatever happens to you?

Perhaps you would turn to the Bible to comfort you and help you overcome your suffering. And of course you would find so much comfort from Deuteronomy 22:28-29.

I am not a compassionate person by any definition of the word, but even I would not allow any of my creations to be hurt in this depraved way if I were God. I would find some other way to carry out that devine plan of mine, and I would succeed because I would be omnipotent.

That an omnibenevolent God would allow such immense suffering to befall His creations is unjustifiable. There is always another way if you are omnipotent. He just chooses not to use that other way. Meanwhile, children die of AIDS in Africa.

God created the person, not the murderer, child abuser, rapist -- the choice to perform such horrible acts is up to the person created.

In your hypothetical situation, I do not know how I would feel, hasn't happened to me. And I cannot presume to know why and how God can use this "hurt in this depraved way" to the ultimate benefit of those who love Him. As you said we're not God and we can only guess at His reasoning behind certain events occurring.

This brings me to a question for you - What is it in you that tells you this evil is particularly depraved? There seems to be few examples of conscience in the animal world, so where does it come from?

By M Petersen (not verified) on 12 Jul 2006 #permalink

J
"Helium came from hydrogen, no?"

Wait a sec, let me think about it...
The sun is a mass of incandescent gas
A gigantic nuclear furnace
Where hydrogen is fused into helium
At temperatures of millions of degrees

Ummm...yeah. At least that's what "They Might Be Giants" tells me.

Remember:

You're older than you were before

And now you're even older

And now you're even older

And now you're even older

You're older than you were before

And now you're even older

And now you're older still

Let me tell you- until you have lived with someone for fucking twenty four hours a day 7 days a week for five years in constant unremitting pain, with no end in sight you have NO right to talk about the goodness and usefulness and value of suffering. You and whoever you worship can go shove it....

I cannot pretend to know what you are going through. If you have the patience, there is a fairly honest discussion of the subject here: http://www.leaderu.com/common/terror/lynch.html

By M Petersen (not verified) on 12 Jul 2006 #permalink

M Petersen, if you'd like to take some time out from insulting everyone's intelligence, why don't you pray and ask your "god" if this Chimp is really playing Ms. Pac Man. Inquiring minds want to know. Good luck!

Squeaky, thanks. I kind of intended for it to be a rhetorical question, but it didn't work out right.

M Petersen: "This brings me to a question for you - What is it in you that tells you this evil is particularly depraved? There seems to be few examples of conscience in the animal world, so where does it come from?

From my sensory neurons.

Shoot, I forgot an end quote. I hate it when that happens.

M Petersen, I did not read everything from your latest link, but I see some extensive quoting from Job. I cried after reading Job.

Reading the Bible astounds me because it makes me wonder how even I, a sinner and cynic, could be more compassionate than the Christian God who turns people into salt pillars on a whim or asks them to kill their own children.

How do those who suffer know that it is all for "the ultimate benefit of those who love Him"? (Don't tell me it's because the Bible says so. Psalms is happy and pretty and repetitive, but Deuteronomy 22:23-24 is not as comforting.) If I were God, I would not leave my suffering creations to "guess at [my] reasoning behind certain events occurring"; I would make sure they knew exactly why their suffering was absolutely unavoidable, so unavoidable that even an omnipotent God could not figure out how to achieve an important end without that suffering.

It's a death cult, and it's also an Eastern Mystery Religion. They hate it when you point that out, even if it is an accurate taxonomical classification of their faith.

Oh, please... Stick to biology, PZ. I don't know why you think you're so qualified to speak on Christianity when you repeatedly claim you're not qualified to speak of sciences outside your chosen field. Maybe you should get a masters in theology, religious studies or whatever before you embarrass yourself further by spouting off nonsense.

I don't know why you think you're so qualified to speak on Christianity when you repeatedly claim you're not qualified to speak of sciences outside your chosen field. Maybe you should get a masters in theology, religious studies or whatever before you embarrass yourself further by spouting off nonsense.

I'm just curious Jason are going to refute what he says or just throw stones?

Why is a 'theologian' more qualified to speak on religion than any other individual. his particular religious dogma perhaps but does getting a degree in whatever theology they choose somehow change what the religion is?

PZ was raised in Christianity and has as much or more knowledge about it as you do unless of course you are clearly stating with the above that since your not a theologian you ought not be posting on the topic either.

I guess that means you basically accept as true whatever some dude in a funny hat says about the supernatural then huh? The credulous.

I love it when ignorant skeptics trot out the old "the Bible says pi equals 3!" line. I know it's one of their favorites. It's one of mine, too, because it is simple to refute. No math or number massaging is necessary. Look at the text of 1 Kings 7:23:

He made the Sea of cast metal, circular in shape, measuring ten cubits from rim to rim and five cubits high. It took a line of thirty cubits to measure around it.

Let's break this down bit by bit:

"He made the Sea of cast metal"

Who is "he." It's Solomon, not God. Actually, Solomon himself probably wasn't making this object himself, but he was ordering this object be made by his servants. Solomon and his servants are humans, and thus imperfect in thought and action.

"circular in shape"

Lots of objects are "circular in shape," but aren't perfect circles. In fact, there's no such thing as a perfect circle. No circle can ever be drawn or made with the exact value of pi because there is no exact value of pi.

"measuring ten cubits from rim to rim and five cubits high."

On these rims, if you look at verse 26, you read that the thickness was about the width of a hand and shaped "like a lily blossom" - i.e. curved outward. So the diameter measurement could very well be larger because of the thickness and shape of the rim.

"It took a line of thirty cubits to measure around it."

These measurements of diameter and circumference could easily be accurate with an object that is circular, but not a perfect circle. Also, the measuring "devices" of the day were limited and also not perfect. Finally, the passage refers to the usual unit of measurement: the cubit. When cubits are mentioned in the Bible, they are referred to in terms of full or half-cubits. There's never anything in between one cubit and a half-cubit and nothing any smaller than a half-cubit.

Ultimately, though, the verse in question is not a matter of mathematical or scientific record. It's a matter of historical record. For historical records, exact mathematical and scientific measurements are not necessary. Think about it. What time did you get up this morning? 7 o'clock? 7:30? Exactly? Of course not. But that's how we refer to the event. No one questions it when we're not being accurate.

1 Kings 7:23 records an event about imperfect people making an imperfect object and measuring it with imperfect methods. That the measurements don't calculate to "exactly" pi has absolutely no impact on the validity and inerrancy of the Bible.

Jason the question must be asked who do you think wrote the bible? Here you say it's Solomon and not God. So which parts exactly can you say God meant to be his words and which are the words of an uninspired individual.

The bible is essentially replete with narratives written by men but that is a given. How do you discern and which method of discernment are you using?

I mean here we can ignore Solomon, why him and not Moses? That wasn't God speaking either. Nor was Paul God, and Jesus never wrote anything that we know of. So what methodology are you using to discern?

Sounds like the apologetic two step which of course is necessary to maintain your innerant belief. A belief not shared by rational people.

ignorant skeptics

That has got to be the funniest thing in the entire thread. It only takes a quick perusal of skeptic sites, books, and articles to see ignorance of logic and knowledge is not found there. Especially when one then goes to the same from religious sources. Between men living with dinosaurs, illogical dogma, and superstition I don't think it's the skeptics could rightfully be called ignorant in this round.

And I am a Christian. But the skeptics are very honest, educated individuals. I just don't see alot of ignorance on that side.

That the measurements don't calculate to "exactly" pi has absolutely no impact on the validity and inerrancy of the Bible.

Good observation. Case in point: People often wonder why those pesky Midianites kept coming back every time the LORD told His "chosen" people to butcher them. Well, maybe they didn't "exactly" slaughter every single last one of them. Maybe they missed a couple here and there. I think we can all agree that there is no point in holding the Bible up to a higher standard than what one might expect from yer average stone age goat herder.

M Petersen,

On the topic of the rapture: are you doing anything yourself to try and delay it? That is, have you ever prayed that it be delayed as long as possible, or asked other people to pray for it to be delayed, or done whatever else you can to delay it? Why not?

Because if a person is saved, there's no harm from the rapture being delayed, is there- a few decades delay shouldn't mean anything in the face of eternity.

On the other hand, the sooner the rapture the smaller the chance for any other particular person to get saved. After the rapture it's nothing but horror and pestilence, fire and earthquakes: not as good of a place to be saved as, say, the ordinary 21st century.

(Even if you're a posttribulationalist, wouldn't you want the rapture delayed- not so much for your own sake, but for the sake of the 5 billion people who aren't yet saved?)

"I love it when ignorant skeptics trot out the old "the Bible says pi equals 3!" line. I know it's one of their favorites. It's one of mine, too, because it is simple to refute. No math or number massaging is necessary."

I don't think any skeptic uses that as an argument against the Bible's historical accuracy. A good joke, maybe (about a school board blindly throwing irrelevant dogma into the curriculum), and an example of why you shouldn't take the Bible literally, perhaps, but not in itself a reason to call events described into question.

By Alexander Whiteside (not verified) on 12 Jul 2006 #permalink

@Alexander Vargas: I think you missed my point about the relationship between despair and religiousness. Despair, extremism or poverty may or may not be increasing in the countries I mentioned, but is there any correlation to religiousness or religious fundamentalism á la US at all? Real wages in Germany have actually decreased, but I don't have to ask myself how best to deal with insane people who believe they can forward the end of the world - because there are none. There's actually a self-pronounced preacher and saviour of humanity in my city who proclaims that protestantism is a false religion, that (the catholic) god hates homosexuals, that the Jews should be paying reparations to the Christians and so on, but there's no need calling him a demented fuckwit because no-one would think otherwise anyway. Maybe he's in an asylum, haven't seen him in a while.

"The real issue is you need a well-defined "entity" to keep the money and weapons together that are necessary to attempt the control of the world."

What do you mean by this? That some entity capable of controlling the world has to exist?

"True Christianity in fact is all about the NON importance, the helplessnes of man. You see, true conversion is in first place to acknowledge that you are helpless, and therefore accept that only Jesus can save."

Any belief in a greater being and in afterlife assumes that human life is special, that some god cares about the wellbeing of humans and observes what they do in their lives, that human souls are eternal and worth saving. Religions continue in this tradition of deluded self-overestimation by demanding that non-believers need to be converted for their own good, in order to be saved. There's only presumption and megalomania as far as I can see. People live and die and then they're gone just like any other living organism, get over it! Our ability to fear death and invent delusions to cope with that doesn't change the fact that we will die eventually and that there's only mortals left to care about our lives and deaths.

@MP, so the gates of the heavens are metaphorical?
So some of the bible is metaphor rather than literal truth?
So mightn't the resurrection of Jesus be a metaphor too?
If it isn't, how can you be sure?

@Jason: So theologians are the only ones who should comment on theology?
By the same logic, surely non-expert mooks like Phillip Johnson and Dembski aren't qualified to criticise evolution?

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

This passage seems to be metaphorical rather than literal to me.

So why does it matter that they're called "gates" rather than "windows"? Does the metaphore change that much?

And doesn't "metaphorical mean "not actually true"? You said "Maybe you could try to succeed where Lewis failed, and give us a proof of how the Bible isn't true. All you'd have to do is prove one fact didn't happen or isn't true -- shouldn't be that hard should it?" - Well, it's pretty hard if you're allowed to redefine anything that's not true as "metaphorical" and therefore true in a special, magical sense. What deeper truth are these gates a metaphore for?

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

The whole reason for God calling some animals unclean was to keep people healthy - they didn't have the antibiotics we have today. Pigs do not have sweat glands, so impurities remain in the the fat, and they will eat anything including disease-laden refuse.

OK. Sweat glands don't filter out impurities. The liver and kidneys do that, and I'm pretty sure that pigs have both of those. Pork is not any more dangerous than any other type of meat. Pigs have as many sweat glands as most other mammals - Humans are pretty much unique in using sweat as a cooling mechanism, rather than simply as a method of spreading pheromones.

My point, however, was: Why define pigs as being "animals with cloven hooves that don't chew the cud" and say that category is forbidden, and then define "chewing the cud" as copraphagy? Why doesn't this also cover sheep, goats, cows, and all other ungulates? Might it possibly make more sense to say that "chewing the cud" actually means "chewing the cud"?

Another thing that occured to me, after my last response was that the author of the document you linked to translated tzaddith as "rabbit", when the word actually refers to a coney, AKA hyrax AKA rock badger. Coneys do not chew the cud, either by the actual definition, or by that article's.

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

Thanks for the link, interesting article. I would come back with: http://www.tektonics.org/uz/zeketyre.html

I've tried reading through that article, and all I can get out of it is: Tyre never actually fell, and there's still a thriving city there. But the prophecy still came true, because if it hadn't, it wouldn't have been a prophesy.

Can you sum it up for me in a way that makes sense?

OK. Did that happen? Which "wise men and teachers" were "killed and crucified" within 25 years of Jesus' death? Who was flogged in the synagogues? Why did no-one notice that they were covered with "all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth"? You'd think that the dry cleaners, at least, would have commented on that. In short, even if this is not about the end of the world (and I remain convinced that it is - cf Matt 16:28, Matt 26:64, Mark 9:1, Mark 13:30, Mark 14:62, Luke 9:27, Luke 21:32, John 5:25, John 21:22), then it's still clearly a failed prophecy.

I'm not sure. I don't know of evidence available to support the event. The passages you mention concern entirely different subjects and contexts, though they are about the end of the world - this passage is not.

So, the other passages I mention say "the world will end within [let's be generous with the meaning of 'generation'] one hundred years", yes? This is clearly an important enough prophesy, to get repeated multiple times by every single gospel author. All four agree that Jesus (which is to say, God) said that. And God ought to know, what with that whole "omnipotence" and "being outside time" thing. So, the question is: Did that prophecy come true? If so, why didn't I get the memo? If not, doesn't that mean that Jesus was wrong?

I maintain the verse I originally quoted is also about the end of the world. The fact that it's couched in the same terms, and uses clearly apocalyptic language like "all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth". But I can understand why you might disagree.

I did not read everything from your latest link, but I see some extensive quoting from Job. I cried after reading Job.

Reading the Bible astounds me because it makes me wonder how even I, a sinner and cynic, could be more compassionate than the Christian God who turns people into salt pillars on a whim or asks them to kill their own children.

How do those who suffer know that it is all for "the ultimate benefit of those who love Him"? (Don't tell me it's because the Bible says so. Psalms is happy and pretty and repetitive, but Deuteronomy 22:23-24 is not as comforting.) If I were God, I would not leave my suffering creations to "guess at [my] reasoning behind certain events occurring"; I would make sure they knew exactly why their suffering was absolutely unavoidable, so unavoidable that even an omnipotent God could not figure out how to achieve an important end without that suffering.

I do not think we could even begin to understand the complete reasoning of an infinite omnipotent God as to why certain people suffer and others do not. To do that, I imagine we would have to know everything past, present and future, including any scientific factors that may come into play (physical laws, genetics, etc). The only thing we have available to us is faith and that God says He works for the good of those who love Him. Now Job was a very good person (much better than I), and yet God allowed everything to be taken from him. Even so, Job believed God even when everyone around him said that God had forsaken him. And in the end, Job got much more back.

By M Petersen (not verified) on 13 Jul 2006 #permalink

On the topic of the rapture: are you doing anything yourself to try and delay it? That is, have you ever prayed that it be delayed as long as possible, or asked other people to pray for it to be delayed, or done whatever else you can to delay it? Why not?

Because if a person is saved, there's no harm from the rapture being delayed, is there- a few decades delay shouldn't mean anything in the face of eternity.

On the other hand, the sooner the rapture the smaller the chance for any other particular person to get saved. After the rapture it's nothing but horror and pestilence, fire and earthquakes: not as good of a place to be saved as, say, the ordinary 21st century.

(Even if you're a posttribulationalist, wouldn't you want the rapture delayed- not so much for your own sake, but for the sake of the 5 billion people who aren't yet saved?)

Good question Helen. I have not prayed for it to be delayed, I pray for people to be saved. It's not a question of time, a key requirement before the end of the world, is that the message will be preached throughout the world. If people will believe, and God knows whether and when they will, they will have plenty of time to accept Him because God has already delayed it to save more people. That being said, the rapture may not even be the final point of acceptance... others may come to believe even after the first set of believers leave. After the rapture it's very bad, and God said He shortened those days for the sake of those who would come to believe during that time.

By M Petersen (not verified) on 13 Jul 2006 #permalink

"It's a death cult, and it's also an Eastern Mystery Religion."

That's a fair assessment. Years ago I studied early Xianity as a religion major and found that in its inceptions, it wasn't that different from other "cults" of the Mid East, such as Mithraism and Zoroastrianism and various Egyptian mythologies. That's not a value judgment; it's an anthropological fact.

I've said this before: I think the key to losing faith & deunking religion is not in hard science, but in comparative religion. More Joseph Campbell and Mircea Eliade than Dawkins and Hawking.

Paul:
I don't know for sure what these floodgates actually are. I'll try to look into it more. How would you explain to the people of that time where the rain came from?

By M Petersen (not verified) on 13 Jul 2006 #permalink

Again--why didn't god, in all his infinite wisdom and ability, just create a people with all knowledge of the universe, the earth, and its natural wonders?

"I do not think we could even begin to understand the complete reasoning of an infinite omnipotent God as to why certain people suffer and others do not."

Because it's not reasonable. It's irrational.

"The only thing we have available to us is faith and that God says He works for the good of those who love Him."

No, we have more than faith. We have reason.

And no, God doesn't say He works for the good of those who love Him. The Bible says that. There's a difference. Now, if the Christian God were to appear to me today and demonstrate to me that all the suffering in the world is justified, then perhaps I would cease complaining.

"And in the end, Job got much more back."

Funny that. For all that God admonishes us not to love material possessions and mundane things more than His glory, He rewards His devout followers with material possessions and mundane things.

Jesus, it's annoying to have to capitalize so many male pronouns and proper nouns.

How would you explain to the people of that time where the rain came from?

Well, if I was omnipotent, it would probably be quite easy. As I'm not, I'd start with the idea that "the sky" is no more solid that the air around us. I would demonstrate that a bowl of water left in the sun will evaporate, and explain that the water has to go somewhere. I'd point out that this is true, even if the bowl is an entire ocean. I'd demonstrate that rain never falls unless there are cloud around, and maybe even lead a hiking expedition in the mountains - after all, you can climb to the lowest cloud levels wthout any technological help - and demonstrate that clouds feel distinctly wet.

None of this is beyond the grasp of a nomadic goat farmer, though it may not be obvious if it hasn't been pointed out. There's no reason why a God with no more powers than a 20th Century human couldn't have clearly explained the hydrological cycle to the original audience of Genesis. Instead, Genesis deliberately lies about the sky being solid and having windows (sorry, gates) in it that let the waters of heaven through.

It's all very well saying that this is a metaphore, but what what is it a metaphore for? What deep truth does it reveal?

That nomadic goat herders and their god(s) knew fuck-all.

"I do not think we could even begin to understand the complete reasoning of an infinite omnipotent God as to why certain people suffer and others do not."

This is in exactly the same class as the DA saying to the defense attorney, "I don't understand why the sleazebag molested one daughter and not the other one, and I'm not sure I want to know."

By speedwell (not verified) on 13 Jul 2006 #permalink

M Petersen,

I find it bizarre that you defend ancient Hebrew taboos, etc., on the grounds that they're something like good rules of thumb expressed with approximate ideas that were all that bronze-age nomads and iron-age farmers could understand.

It is very striking that the Bible contains nothing that couldn't have been known or guessed by human beings at the time. For example, when it comes to food safety, it neglects to mention the germ theory of disease, or tips on lens-grinding so that people could see germs for themselves.

Those things would have been understandable to the people of the time, and useful to them. It doesn't take a lot of modern knowledge to get the basic idea that extremely tiny animals can cause disease, or that light change course when it passes through glass, or that the Earth goes around the sun. (Or that slavery is bad, or that genocide is uncool.)

Instead we get detailed rules about when and how to sacrifice innocent animals, remove foreskins, avoid menstruating women, enslave foreigners, brand your slaves, get a fair price for selling your daughter, etc.

How much more obvious could it be that the Bible was written by a bunch of backward, ignorant, superstitious people?

"And the LORD was with Judah; and he drave out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron."
-- Judges 1:19

Couldn't God at least have told his Chosen bronze-agers how to smelt iron? Other humans had already figured that out.

The ancient Hebrews were a bunch of feuding hillbillies, less advanced than many of their neighbors; that shows in the scriptures. Later-written parts of the Bible are somewhat better, but only because they absorbed more advanced ideas from the pagans they traded with, were conquered by, etc. There is no sign that an actual god revealed anything true to these people.

And before any bogus lamer starts accusing Paul W. of anti-Semitism, I'm Jewish by birth and my whole family would say exactly what Paul just said about the Hebrews of the Bible being ignorant inferior tribesmen. Of course, we'll follow it up by pointing out how far we've come since... lol. Still, it feels a little like how you feel when you look at a picture of Early Man and realize you descended from somthing like that. :)

By speedwell (not verified) on 13 Jul 2006 #permalink

I'm just curious Jason are going to refute what he says or just throw stones?

The only people throwing stones around here are PZ and his merry band of "me-too-ers." "You're a troll!" I find it quite laughable that you would accuse me of throwing stones in the comments for this thread in particular: "You're a demented f***wit!"

Why is a 'theologian' more qualified to speak on religion than any other individual. his particular religious dogma perhaps but does getting a degree in whatever theology they choose somehow change what the religion is?

Why is a "scientist" more qualified to speak on science than any other individual? Why is a "biologist" more qualified to speak on biology than astronomy?

PZ was raised in Christianity and has as much or more knowledge about it as you do

His posts on the topic indicate the complete opposite. Either that or he's lying.

unless of course you are clearly stating with the above that since your not a theologian you ought not be posting on the topic either.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying PZ or anyone else absolutely has to be a theologian or what have you to be able to speak on religion. Once again, I'm just pointing out his hypocrisy. He holds others to standards that he does not hold to himself.

I guess that means you basically accept as true whatever some dude in a funny hat says about the supernatural then huh? The credulous.

No, actually, I don't listen to people in funny hats very much.

Peterson wrote...

"You may wish to read the following for evidence of Jesus' existence. There is more evidence Jesus existed than Aristotle, Plato, Odysseus, or Alexander the Great. No serious historian who refute the existence of Jesus of Nazareth."

Thanks for the sources, but your statement above is still absolute hogwash. There is a huge array of corroboration evidence from different cultures that prove the existence of Aristotle, Plato and Alexander. I'm surprised you've trotted out that old apologetic tactic.

For Alexander, we have a wake of conquest and destruction. Cities built in his name during his lifetime. Written records from several different cultures, scribed during his life, which describe his exploits. Even a letter, chiseled in stone, from Alexander to the people of Chios. Aristotle and Plato's existence is well documented. The corroborating evidence for their existence is overwhelming.

The evidence of historical Odysseus is spotty at best since he more than likely was a mythical Greek hero. Then again, no one, even the Greeks, claimed he was the incarnate son of god.

Not only the Romans, but also the Jews wrote extensive narratives of the goings on in Jerusalem during the supposed life of Christ. There were scribes everywhere in Jerusalem, supposedly many who followed Jesus if the gospels are to be believed. Yet not one single account mentioning Jesus during his lifetime has ever been found. Not one.

One of the greatest Jewish philosophers and historians, Philo Judaeus, lived in Jerusalem during all these supposed gospel accounts and yet not once does he mention any of it. No contemporary Roman or Greek accounts. Nothing. Only some wild tales, written down many decades after the supposed events by those who had already sold out to the death cult or those who repeated the same rumors well after the supposed facts.

The closest you people have ever come were the supposed letters of Pontius Pilate to his friend Seneca the Younger. That whole urban legend is based on a novel written in the 1920's by W. P Crozier and has absolutely no basis in fact. It was a fictional account for crying out loud. Yet, occasionally we see some reference to it by apologists to this day. There are no surviving letters from Pilate to Seneca. In all of his writings, Seneca not once mentions Jesus or his supposed miracles.

Thus, in the wake of overwhelming evidence and lack of evidence I stand by my statements.

wintermute:
I don't really know for sure what the floodgates of the heavens actually represent. I'll try to do some further research into the subject.

Sure, I'll give you the sweat glands thing.

However, the poisonous substances contained in pork, called sutoxins, cause most of the illnesses which are chronic and difficult to treat. According to Reckeweg's homotoxicology, these specific stress substances are found to be intercellular, that is:
- as cholesterol-loaded macromolecules in the blood in cases of hypertonia, arteriosclerosis. plethora and in the walls of the cancer cells (so-called neoplasma phases);
- as histamine and as imidazole bodies in cases of urticaria, herpes, dermatitis, eczema (causing itching), initiating inflammatory processes with furuncles, carbuncles, fluor albus, appendicitis, cholangitis, cholecystitiS, thrombophlebitiS and phlegmonS;
- as growth hormone in promoting inflammatory and growth tendencies in cases of adipositas, acromegaly, neoplasma phases and hyperplasia;
- as fatty acids in cases of hypotonia, polycythemia;
- as mesenchymal, mucous substances rich in sulfur (amino sugars, hyaluronic acid, glucosamine, and others) in cases of myogelosis, arthrosis, osteochondrosis, rheumatism and arthritis;
- as oncogenic agent;
- as influenza virus.

On the Tyre thing:
The article I mentioned is quite extensive and kind of difficult to summarize.

There's a decent summary here: http://www.trinitysem.edu/journal/prophesy.html

Here's another one:

1. Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon shall destroy the mainland ("field" KJV) portion of Tyre (Ezekiel 26:7-8).
Nebuchadnezzar II laid siege to Tyre for thirteen years beginning in 585-586 B.C. During this time, the inhabitants transferred most of their valuables to the island. The king seized Tyre's mainland territories but returned to Babylon, finding himself unable to subdue the island fortress militarily (cf. 29:18). Tyre, weakened by the conflict, soon recognized Babylonian authority, which effectively ended the city's autonomy and any aspirations for a greater Phoenicia.

2. Other nations are to participate in the fulfillment of the prophecy (vs. 3).
Following the Babylonian period, Tyre remained in subjection to Persia from 538-332 B.C. Alexander the Great besieged and captured the port in 332 B.C., and Ptolemies, Seleucids, Romans, and Muslim Arabs all had their turn at rule. After passing briefly into the hands of the Crusaders, the city was destroyed completely by the Mamluks (former Muslim soldier-slaves) in A.D. 1291.

3. The city is to be flattened, like the top of a rock (vss. 4,14).
Like Nebuchadnezzar, Alexander was stymied by Tyre's natural moat. The brilliant Macedonian was not so quick to give up, however. He used the building materials of the mainland city, and any other rocks and soil in the immediate vicinity, to build a causeway to the island. His complete conquest of Tyre took only seven months.

4. It is to become a place for the spreading of nets (vss. 5,14).
The waters around Tyre were renowned in ancient times for their fishing (Liverani, 1988, 5:932). This was all the fame the city could claim after its complete decimation by Alexander.

5. Its stones and timbers are to be laid in the sea (vs. 12).
As noted in item 3 above, the building of the causeway came from the remains of the mainland city. Sands carried by currents have built up a spit or tombolo around the causeway, forming a permanent connection between the island and the mainland.

6. Other cities are to fear greatly at the fall of Tyre (vss. 15-18).
Many fortified cities in the region capitulated to Alexander after they saw the genius and relative ease with which he captured Tyre.

7. The city will not be inhabited or rebuilt (vss. 20-21).
Alexander sold almost all of Tyre's inhabitants into slavery, and the city forever lost its importance on the world stage. Any vestiges of strength and power disappeared with the destruction of the Crusader fortress. Soûr, as it is known by Arabs today, is a small town in southern Lebanon with a population of about 14,000 (1990 estimate; refugees have inflated that number significantly in the last several years).

Even so, the fact that pieces of the city are even in the water at all and that the mainland remains as bare rock is pretty amazing.

On the world will end in a generation:

Matt 16:27-28 (Mark 9:1; Luke 9:26-27). As Jesus continued to instruct His disciples, He spoke prophetically of His second coming when He, the Son of Man, would return in His Father's glory with His angels (cf. Matt. 24:30-31; 2 Thes. 1:7). As "the Son of . . . God" (Matt. 16:16) He possesses a divine nature, and as "the Son of Man" He possesses a human nature (cf. comments on 8:20). At that time the Lord will reward His servants for their faithfulness. Speaking of His return led Him to state that some disciples standing there with Him would be permitted to view His coming kingdom before they experienced death. This statement has caused many to misunderstand the kingdom program, for they wonder how the disciples saw the Lord coming in His kingdom. The explanation is found in the following event, the transfiguration (17:1-8). [Walvoord, John F., and Zuck, Roy B., The Bible Knowledge Commentary, (Wheaton, Illinois: Scripture Press Publications, Inc.) 1983, 1985.]

28. To stress the reality of his coming and kingdom as an incentive to men to follow him, even in suffering, Christ gave the promise of verse 28. This coming of the Son of man in his kingdom is explained by some as the destruction of Jerusalem and by others as the beginning of the Church. But referring it to the Transfiguration meets the requirements of the context (all Synoptists follow this statement with the Transfiguration, Mk 9:1; Lk 9:27). Furthermore, Peter, who was one of those standing here, referred to the Transfiguration in the same words (II Pet 1:16-18). Chafer calls the Transfiguration a "preview of the coming kingdom on earth" (L. S. Chafer, Systematic Theology, V, 85).

Matt 17:1-13. The Transfiguration. At this strategic moment in the ministry of Jesus, when he had evoked from Peter the true designation of himself (16:16), and had announced his coming death and resurrection, there was granted to three disciples this most remarkable experience. [Everett F. Harrison, The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, New Testament, (Chicago: Moody Press) 1962.]

By M Petersen (not verified) on 13 Jul 2006 #permalink

For all that God admonishes us not to love material possessions and mundane things more than His glory, He rewards His devout followers with material possessions and mundane things.

Not necessarily. There are many, many devout followers that are not rewarded with material possessions at all. One the reasons for material possessions being granted to followers is to use them bring glory to God - but it is more of a responsibility than a reward.

By M Petersen (not verified) on 13 Jul 2006 #permalink

"One the reasons for material possessions being granted to followers is to use them bring glory to God..."

God really, really needs to get the fuck over Himself.

One of the greatest Jewish philosophers and historians, Philo Judaeus, lived in Jerusalem during all these supposed gospel accounts and yet not once does he mention any of it.

Philo may not have lived long enough to see Christianity become a threat, and make Jesus worthy of note; to report nothing about someone in your history was a typical means of oblique insult; and we know Philo at least never mentions Christianity either, so the silence about Jesus is hardly problematic.

Try these taken from http://www.tektonics.org/jesusexist/jesusexisthub.html:

We conclude that we find three levels of source material:

  • Highly reliable sources. There are two of these: Tacitus and Josephus.
  • Moderately reliable sources. We find three: Thallus, Pliny, and Lucian. For the matter of Thallus, please see also our link in our essay to Glenn Miller's essay on that subject, linked in our essay. (We will look at some objections to the Thallus cite.)
  • Marginally reliable or unreliable sources. Three are in this class: Suetonius, the letter of Mara Bar-Serapion, and the Talmud.
By M Petersen (not verified) on 13 Jul 2006 #permalink

Jason the question must be asked who do you think wrote the bible?

People inspired by God.

Here you say it's Solomon and not God.

No, I didn't say Solomon wrote the Bible. I didn't even say Solomon wrote 1 Kings.

So which parts exactly can you say God meant to be his words and which are the words of an uninspired individual.

The parts that are God's words are the parts that say things like "God said __________." Anything else are the words of men inspired by God.

The bible is essentially replete with narratives written by men but that is a given. How do you discern and which method of discernment are you using?

How do you discern anything you read? How do you discern that "Saving Private Ryan" is a work of fiction and a biography is not? How do you discern that "reality TV" shows - while based on real events - are highly fictionalized through editting?

I mean here we can ignore Solomon, why him and not Moses? That wasn't God speaking either. Nor was Paul God, and Jesus never wrote anything that we know of. So what methodology are you using to discern?

Who said anything about ignoring one part of the Bible or another? Ignore 1 Kings 7:23? Why? Because "it says pi equals 3?" It says no such thing. It records the construction and measurements of an object that not only is likely not a perfect circle, but also has a description in following verses that show it has an unusual shape.

Sounds like the apologetic two step which of course is necessary to maintain your innerant belief.

Hardly. No apologetics necessary. Just read the entire passage. It's perfectly clear that (a) it's a historical account, (b) the object is described as "circular," a word which can describe objects that aren't perfect circles, (c) the object has a larger description than just what's in verse 23 - a description that can account for the measurements described and (d) the verse makes absolutely no reference to pi. All you skeptics like to criticize Christians for using an "apologetic two step" to add things to the Bible in order to explain away "errors" and "contradictions," when it really turns out that it is you who are doing a "two step" to add and subtract things in order to create "errors" and "contradictions."

A belief not shared by rational people.

Oh, let me guess. "Rational people" = "only atheists," right? If you're a Christian, you can't be "rational." Ironic...

No, not ironic.

It's not rational to believe something without evidence.

Again--why didn't god, in all his infinite wisdom and ability, just create a people with all knowledge of the universe, the earth, and its natural wonders?

In other words, why didn't God just create us to be gods, too?

Good question.

Why not?

This is in exactly the same class as the DA saying to the defense attorney, "I don't understand why the sleazebag molested one daughter and not the other one, and I'm not sure I want to know."

This example is not even close at all. There's a difference between not WANTING to know and not BEING ABLE to know.

By M Petersen (not verified) on 13 Jul 2006 #permalink

God really, really needs to get the fuck over Himself.

So a God who:
- created the universe
- knows everything
- is infinite
- is all powerful
- created us
- even though we choose to rebel against him, has provided a way for us to be reconciled
is not worthy of glory?

By M Petersen (not verified) on 13 Jul 2006 #permalink

"There's a difference between not WANTING to know and not BEING ABLE to know."

Oh? A healthy, normal man can't understand what motivates a psychopath. And that's enough of an explanation for why a healthy, normal man can't understand the caprices and malfeasances of a psychopathic God.

By speedwell (not verified) on 13 Jul 2006 #permalink

No, not ironic.

It's not rational to believe something without evidence.

Then everyone is irrational because everyone - even scientists and atheists - believes at least one thing without evidence.

Of course, what makes you think I believe in God without evidence? Because faith is the opposite of evidence? Hardly. I can't say that I have all the evidence there is that God exists anymore than a scientist or historian can say that we have all the evidence for things that have happened in the past. But I have seen enough evidence for me to put my faith in God instead of atheism.

"So a God who: - created the universe - knows everything - is infinite - is all powerful - created us - even though we choose to rebel against him, has provided a way for us to be reconciled is not worthy of glory?"

Demonic psychopaths are not worthy of glory, retard.

By speedwell (not verified) on 13 Jul 2006 #permalink

Good question.

Why not?

It went right over your head, didn't it? "Why didn't God create other gods?" Just think about that question for a minute or two. I mean, really think about it before you post again.

"So a God who: - created the universe"

And all the problems that happen in that universe

"- knows everything - is infinite - is all powerful"

Yet can't figure out a way to solve the problems in that universe

"created us - even though we choose to rebel against him, has provided a way for us to be reconciled"

And created us as sinners because of some stupid mistake Adam and Eve made a few thousand years ago

"is not worthy of glory?"

I won't answer that.

His vast and unending egomania is truly offensive.

Demonic psychopaths are not worthy of glory, retard.

Indeed, but what does that have to do with God?

And you're quite quick with the ad homs, I noticed. Most atheist skeptics are.

Jason, I have to go eat lunch now.

But if I can get to a computer this afternoon, I will respond to you.

Bye.

MP,
I take it from your non-response to my post yesterday about the abundance of historical evidence for Aristotle, Plato and Alexander that you have nothing to offer in evidence for the existence of Jesus besides the self-serving and self-referential testimony of the Gospels. (And one brief mention in Josephus that adds nothing new to the record.)

How can you possibly claim with a straight face that there is far more evidence for Santa (oops, I mean Jesus) than these well-attested historical figures? Where are the books written by the man, the coins, the contemporary inscriptions, the histories compiled from primary sources, etc.? (BTW, the wide peninsula that formed from Alexander's causeway at Tyre is yet another proof of his having lived, if any more were needed.) And the Gospels clearly were not intended as historical accounts or biography, but as aide-memoirs for new members of the burgeoning Jesus movement, and recruiting propaganda for potential suckers (erm, I mean members.)

I will take your continued silence on this subject as confirmation that you can't answer my challenge. You have nothing but tautological reasoning on your side, no independent evidence.

By Maitre Alcofribas (not verified) on 13 Jul 2006 #permalink

It's as if this god needs constant reassurance of how great and mighty he is, despite the fact he created reality and everything in it. If I knew a person this needy and insecure, I'd run far, far away.

His vast and unending egomania is truly offensive.

It's as if this god needs constant reassurance of how great and mighty he is, despite the fact he created reality and everything in it. If I knew a person this needy and insecure, I'd run far, far away.

Keep burning straw men, Will. Tell me, which one of us is supposed to be the troll again? Is it that since you are in agreement with this blog's author about religion and the religious, that automatically means you not a troll?

I'm just calling it like I see it. I don't see what's "straw man" about my comments, nor do I consider myself to be trolling. I don't know where that came from.

I see that while I was composing my latest post, paleotn addressed many of the same objections I did yesterday re historical evidence for Plato el al. versus Jesus. But MP's answer still provides no new evidence other than Josephus, there are no independent, objective references to the man Jesus having acutally lived. Tacitus, Pliny, et al. mention an annoying bunch of Jesus-wallopers who were bothering the Romans with their insistence that only their god was real, and were written long after the events (if any) of his life. No one denies, of course, that a Jesus movement existed in the First Century CE. If that were proof of his existence, it would equally well prove that Vishnu and Ganesha are real, because Hindus exist! That does nothing, however, to corroborate independently the extraordinary claims that the Gospels make concerning his life and alleged afterlife. Sorry, dude, you'll have to do better than that.

By Maitre Alcofribas (not verified) on 13 Jul 2006 #permalink

"Why didn't God create other gods?" Just think about that question for a minute or two. I mean, really think about it before you post again.

Does this mean you know something about what motivates the Great Psychopath? Better talk to MP over there; he believes you can't know anything about God's reasons for doing things.

I'm interested in hearing your answer to the question you posed as well, since you seem to think it's so obvious.

Oh, and MP, it's not an ad hom if it's true. Though since I'm a kind woman I'll add "brainwashed" before "retard." Honestly, you're acting like an abused wife who "loves" the sumbitch who beats her.

By speedwell (not verified) on 13 Jul 2006 #permalink

Speedwell writes:

And before any bogus lamer starts accusing Paul W. of anti-Semitism, I'm Jewish by birth and my whole family would say exactly what Paul just said about the Hebrews of the Bible being ignorant inferior tribesmen. Of course, we'll follow it up by pointing out how far we've come since... lol.

Yeah. I think it's a pretty good sign that I learned that stuff from rabbis and other Jews.

What's appalling is the fundie Christians who trot out ancient Hebrew scriptures as the inerrant Word of God, to the complete dismay of my rabbi friends.

M Petersen, I strongly suggest that you read Who Wrote the Bible? by Richard E. (sp?) Friedman. You're apparently ignorant of 200 years of serious non-fundie scholarship about the history of the Hebrew scriptures, and Friedman's book is a nice, highly readable intro. (It's an interesting, well-written book I recommend to anyone, whether they "need" to read it or not. The first half, especially.)

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0060630353/103-2494378-3970252?v=glanc…

"So a God who: - created the universe - knows everything - is infinite - is all powerful - created us - even though we choose to rebel against him, has provided a way for us to be reconciled is not worthy of glory?"

We didn't choose to rebel against him. Original sin is total bullshit (surprise!) It makes absolutely no goddamn sense for this deity to punish in perpetuity the progeny of the original couple, for their mistake. It just proves that he is a petulant, immature pissant, who does what he wants just because he can. That, sir, is not my definition of a "just god". Sorry. A three-year-old has a more developed sense of justice.

By Maitre Alcofribas (not verified) on 13 Jul 2006 #permalink

I just want to know if Jason thinks we're are nearing Armageddon and if he's getting ready for and/or doing things or hoping things will speed it's arrival?

And God said: (to the man hearing voices in his head or from a talking bush that's on fire)

J answers MPete (I think) (by the way, J, if you are the same J who made the hydrogen comment, I know it was a rhetorical question. I just couldn't resist quoting some TMBGiants):
'"So a God who: - created the universe"

And all the problems that happen in that universe

"- knows everything - is infinite - is all powerful"

Yet can't figure out a way to solve the problems in that universe

"created us - even though we choose to rebel against him, has provided a way for us to be reconciled"

And created us as sinners because of some stupid mistake Adam and Eve made a few thousand years ago'

This gets back to the question of why is there suffering? I've read many posts here that point fingers at God accusing Him of not caring about His creation. If He cared, wouldn't He have created a perfect world without even the possibility of suffering? However, isn't it possible that blaming God for our suffering is just a way of excusing yourself from responsibility? Yes, there is suffering in the world. And we shake our fist at God and say, "Why don't you do something about this?" when perhaps it is God's intent that WE do something about it. We ask, "Why won't God do anything about suffering if he is so all powerful and loving?" I would say He did. He created YOU with brains and intellect and gave you the ability to have compassion and love and empathy for the people around you. Yes, there is suffering in the world, but is it more the result of a God who isn't doing His job, or a people He created who aren't doing the job He gave them?

M Petersen:

On pork:
Once again, you miss the point. It is not important that none of the diseases of pigs are more dangerous than those of sheep or cows. It is not important that these diseases can all be destroyed by proper cooking. It's not important than pigs were a common foodsource acress Europe even before the invention of penecillin. What is important is this:

The reason given for pigs being unclean is that they have cloven hooves but don't chew the cud.

You linked to an article that stated that when the Bible said "chewing the cud", it actually meant "eating their own fæces". I argued that if this definition was accurate, then sheep, cows, goats and all other ungulates would also be unclean, yet they're not. Therefore, it only makes sense to interpret "chewing the cud" as "chewing the cud".

And even that doesn't matter, as coneys (which are NOT rabbits) do neither. You'd think an omnipotent God who created all these animals would have noticed that.

On Tyre:
*sigh* So now it's the mainland portoin of Tyre that was destroyed and remains uninhabited, and not the island?

Neither part of Tyre has ever been "flattened". Not by Nebuchadnezzar, nor Alexander, nor by the Mamluks.

I can't find a census for the city of Tyre, but it's repeatedly described as a major city (Wikipedia says it's the 4th largest in Lebanon). But, even if your 14,000 population was right, that means that vs 20-21 are clearly false. There *are* people living in Tyre, and there was never a time when there weren't.

Even so, the fact that pieces of the city are even in the water at all and that the mainland remains as bare rock is pretty amazing.

The mainland remains part of a vibrant, modern city, visited by tens of thousands of tourists every year. The fact that people can believe that it's nothing more than "bare rock" sis pretty amazing.

The sources you cite all agree that the prophecy wasn't that Nebuchadnezzar would destroy Tyre, but that some un-named army would do so, thousands of years hence. And when the human race goes extinct, and our cities crumble to dust and slide into the sea, God will be able to look back and say "There. Prophecy fulfilled", right?

How does it differ from the following prophecy: Eventually, everything east of the San Andreas fault will slide into the sea.

On the Second Coming:
A moment ago, you said that those verses were about the end of the world, and now they're about Jesus rising from the dead? If this is true, the "Kingdom of Heaven" has been upon us for the last two thousand years. So where do you go when you die? And why are there so amny wars and murders? I though Heavan was supposed to be all-good?

ahhhh squeaky... now you've come to a good reason to BE an atheist.

if we only have this world and one life... why not make it better?
it should be made better and cared for because this is it.

there is no test. there is no reward. there is no punishment waiting.

Oh, and MP, it's not an ad hom if it's true. Though since I'm a kind woman I'll add "brainwashed" before "retard." Honestly, you're acting like an abused wife who "loves" the sumbitch who beats her.

I never said it was ad hom, that was Jason.

By M Petersen (not verified) on 13 Jul 2006 #permalink

Steve_C

Hmm...but you can also make the opposite argument. If there is no test, no reward, and no punishment waiting...well, then, eat, drink, and be merry! Why should you even care about what happens to anyone else? Atheism has been used to make that argument, too.

And it seems to me this is exactly what Jesus asked us to do:

"if we only have this world and one life... why not make it better?
it should be made better and cared for because this is it."

That certainly was the example He set, afterall. Christianity is supposed to be a group of people who are Christ to the rest of the world. The motivation behind doing His work should NOT be eternal reward or avoidance of eternal punishment. I understand that is the motivation for many people, but it shouldn't be.

Still waiting, MP.

By Maitre Alcofribas (not verified) on 13 Jul 2006 #permalink

Maitre: I am only human here, so please do not a lack of response as having no answer.

I do not question the existence of Aristotle, Plato, or Alexander. But also, neither does any serious historian question the existence of Jesus of Nazareth. You obviously did not read the articles I posted.

By M Petersen (not verified) on 13 Jul 2006 #permalink

Peterson replied....

"Philo may not have lived long enough to see Christianity become a threat, and make Jesus worthy of note"

What?.....

I guy who walks on water,
Heals hundreds all over Palestine.
Is thronged by huge mobs every where he goes
Kicks the crap out of the sellers in the temple
Claims repeatedly in public to be the son of god
Pisses off the Jewish religious leaders to the point that
they arrest him and convince the Romans to crucify him,
At his death, long since departed people are raised to life

....this guy is not worthy of note regardless of whether the death cult had become a threat or not? Are you seriously suggesting that?

Josephus is the earliest non-christian to mention Jesus, but Antiquities was written in 93 CE. Well after the gospels were supposedly written. He's simply repeating rumors of the day, that is if the Jesus blurb were even his words. There is evidence that it was inserted later by early christian leader Eusebius.

Tacitus wasn't even born until 64 CE and gives only a brief mention in his Annals, with no sources given for his information. Repeated rumors again.

Pliny the Younger wasn't born until 62 CE. He got his info, like Tacitus, most likely from rumors or the christians themselves. His father Pliny the Elder was alive during Jesus supposed lifetime and mentions not one single, solitary word about any Jewish messiah.

Lucian wasn't born until 120 CE. Coming on the scene that late discounts his words as merely repeating the same old rumors and wild tales of the death cult long after the events supposedly took place.

The only information anyone has about Thallus first appeared in apologetics from the 2nd century CE. Precious little is known about him or his authenticity. For all we know he could be an apologetic invention. http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/thallus.html

Suetonius mentions a Chrestus, but that's merely a common name at the time. The claim that he meant Jesus is purely an assumption based on zero evidence. Again, he was born well after Jesus supposed lifetime, so even if he meant Jesus its still a repeat common rumors.

Mar Bar-Serapion wasn't born until 73 CE. AGAIN well after the supposed events took place.

The Talmud? Are you kidding me? There is zero evidence the Yeshu mentioned is this particular Jesus.

Do you see a pattern here? Every single source you gave me wrote long after the supposed events. Nothing written corroborating these earth shattering events, during the period they supposedly happened, has ever been found. How hard is that to understand?

This gets back to the question of why is there suffering? I've read many posts here that point fingers at God accusing Him of not caring about His creation. If He cared, wouldn't He have created a perfect world without even the possibility of suffering? However, isn't it possible that blaming God for our suffering is just a way of excusing yourself from responsibility? Yes, there is suffering in the world. And we shake our fist at God and say, "Why don't you do something about this?" when perhaps it is God's intent that WE do something about it. We ask, "Why won't God do anything about suffering if he is so all powerful and loving?" I would say He did. He created YOU with brains and intellect and gave you the ability to have compassion and love and empathy for the people around you. Yes, there is suffering in the world, but is it more the result of a God who isn't doing His job, or a people He created who aren't doing the job He gave them?

Very good point.

By M Petersen (not verified) on 13 Jul 2006 #permalink

Ahhh. Then I am more moral than you?

I believe in freedom and justice and taking
care of my fellow man and the planet we live in
with no other intention of knowing that it's right.

You have to be told. And you have to live in fear or
are expecting to be rewarded AFTER you've died.
And if you think that's not your motivation, then
what's the point of having religion?

I think this life is the reward. I was just lucky that my
parents go it on and the right egg and sperm joined up.

And by all means I intend to eat drink and be merry.

paleton:
It's great how you spout off that they're "repeating rumours" with no basis.

I suppose you don't have proof of this.

By M Petersen (not verified) on 13 Jul 2006 #permalink

Good point what? Which of us humans created disease? Which of us created hurricanes and floods? Who is responsible for anencephalic babies?

If you're going to blame it all on created beings (including "Satan"), you still have to ask yourself who created the created beings, and why he did so knowing full well what would happen to them and what they would do?

That's so easy to refute I'm tempted to call you a fuckwit again, but I have been persuaded that's counterproductive, however true.

By speedwell (not verified) on 13 Jul 2006 #permalink

So a God who: - created the universe - knows everything - is infinite - is all powerful - created us - even though we choose to rebel against him, has provided a way for us to be reconciled is not worthy of glory?

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

No M he is not. Not if he KNOWS how to cure disease, how to end your precious suffering and why we have schizophrenia, spina bifida and alzheimers....... but lets us figure it out on our own.

Fuck that. That would be akin to me allowing my kid with cancer (figment here) to heal themselves without intervention by me- for their own good. No rides to the doc, no helping with anything- just deal with it- it will make you stronger. Just BELIEVE that I am doing the best that I can for you, honey.

THe more I think about this the more I am reminded about how I was taught at a private religious school how laughable every other faith was.... and how "OUR faith" had the answers.

Ummm.... not so much. People of THAT faith have told me that we could cure what ails us with our mind and by acquiring faith. WTF????? I remember the psychosocial "circle" being drawn and how each segment of the circle was dependant on the other. More time was spent on that bullshit and trying to convert us to that mindset than the anatomy of the body part involved. And when they did get to that part they fucked it all up. I, a layperson, had to correct them.

Yeah- god deserves all the glory all right. Basically for "creating" a brain that was apparently never meant to be used for much more than parroting idiocies.

By impatientpatient (not verified) on 13 Jul 2006 #permalink

Well, Steve_C
"Ahhh. Then I am more moral than you?"

Um, what?

"I believe in freedom and justice and taking
care of my fellow man and the planet we live in
with no other intention of knowing that it's right."

But wouldn't you agree that there are others who say "I'm going to live for myself regardless of how it may negatively affect another human being because it just doesn't matter."

If you disagree, check out the news tonight.

"You have to be told. And you have to live in fear or
are expecting to be rewarded AFTER you've died.
And if you think that's not your motivation, then
what's the point of having religion?"

Have we met? It's like you've known me for...never. Don't assume anything about me or my motivations. I agree some people's motivation for doing good is because they expect eternal reward. Others' are motivated because they simply love Christ and want to be like Him. For them, that's the point of religion.

But wouldn't you agree that there are others who say "I'm going to live for myself regardless of how it may negatively affect another human being because it just doesn't matter."
**********************************************************

Appaerently Kenneth Lay lived like this and they compared HIM to Jesus.

Whatever!!!

Wh

By impatientpatient (not verified) on 13 Jul 2006 #permalink

Well you all seem bent on blaming God for creating us the way He did. I can't claim to know all those reasons either. I don't blame God, I thankful I was created at all and that He loves me so much.

According to the census here of non-believers, God is bad because we're not perfect and the world is not perfect. We will be perfect and the world will be perfect when God creates a new heaven and a new earth. Why didn't he do it the first time? I have no idea.

For some reason, God gave us free will and the ability to choose Him or not. Those that don't will have their way and those that do will be with Him forever.

Ok, I must get some actual work done now. I wish you all the best.

By M Petersen (not verified) on 13 Jul 2006 #permalink

And every time people do use their brains, m, people of your persuasion have a funny habit of denying the truth of their findings. Remember what happened to the guy who figured out that the Earth was not the center of the Universe???

Oh yeah----- the church had a downright piss party all over his head for a few hundred years.

Now about this new fangled evolution stuff--- what has your side had to say on that particular subject that adds to the scientific discussion and evidence?

Funny thing- oh- by the way did you read the paper about the EVOLUTION of the shoulder and neck and all that real hard stuff. I have two siblings with SB and one has AC syndrome. It is relevant, current, and evolution based - and something that may HELP people in the future.

By impatientpatient (not verified) on 13 Jul 2006 #permalink

I turn on the news and I see christians hoping for armageddon and the end of the world.
I see them bombing health clinics and killing doctors. I see them protesting at soldiers funerals. I see them denying science and demanding control of the government.

I don't look at the world and think... if only more people were religious the world would be a better place.

I get that you go with the Jesus that most suits your personality. And maybe you don't need him to be moral.

How come? my latest post showed up only for a moment and then disappeared...
pretty frustrating!! hahah

By Alexander Vargas (not verified) on 13 Jul 2006 #permalink

Oh, I see.. I mistakenly posted it on another thread, haha
M Petersen
I guess the big bang does not convince you either, huh?
See science is all about HOW. HOW did the universe come to be?
And the fact is that the entire universe is moving and expanding from what seems to have been nothing less than the starting point of some huge explosion.
I think that is super cool.
Even a child can ask who made god and it is no silly question. Scientists used to think the question of the origin of the universe is pointless since philosophically, even a "beggining" would have originated from something preexistent
However the big bang has led philosopers to reflect on whether there could actually be something as a true starting point, a true origin without precursors...a fair question, I'd say.

You still have a deep confusion about what science is about. And you still believe you can justify your beliefs by means other than faith. Basically, you have placed science under suspicion. You don't believe man can figure things out. Therefore you have postponed diligently and honestly considering its evidence, and you'd rather read more and more religious texts that, of course, also preach distrust from "man and his knowledge'

You should know better. I'm letting you know that you wrongly believe that what is fact is speculation, and that man cannot figure out thingsthat he can.

Anyway, M petersen, I know you are preaching unto us and thus fulfilling the mission god has given you. By all means, be happy with yourself. But you delude yourself if you think you are being effective by avoiding the science topic. You suspect evolution to be untrue. You will never win our hearts since you cannot hide the unfairness unto yourself with which you have underanalized this topic.

Other religions know better. The catholic curch has accepted common descent and said "truth cannot contradict truth". They are smarter. Period.

And much less will you get us to belive in the rapture. M Petersen, we have a looong, long time to go here together on earth, the end of times has ALWAYS been near, if you know what I mean. And we must learn to truly understand how other people thinks, and learn to get along. Bringing into question weel established and mighty cool scientific knowledge does not help anyone. You have not tried to understand how we think, to walk in our shoes. You are preaching, "delivering the message" cause that is what you are supposed to do; But until you show some greater responsibilty with knowing this crowd, you will truly be preaching in the desert.

By Alexander Vargas (not verified) on 13 Jul 2006 #permalink

MP, what paleotn said.

It's not "spouting off" to say that they were only repeating rumors, it's a fact. Absolutely nothing new was added to the information about Jesus by these authors (as I pointed out in a post, above.) What I (and paleotn) are asking for is independent, objective corroborative evidence that the extraordinary claims made of your god are true. (And the Christians say that their god did such and such does not qualify as independent evidence.)

That would mean new information, from a different perspective, that could be used to evaluate those claims. As paleotn pointed out, if Jesus really did those amazing things, don't you think someone else would have noticed? I mean come on, now!

BTW, have you ever heard of Apollonius of Tyre? He lived about a century before Jesus, and was reputed to have done many of the same things: walk on water, heal the blind and lame, raise the dead, etc. Why believe the Jesus stories, but dismiss Apollonius as fiction? It seems like special pleading to me.

You reallly should look into how fantastic legends get attached to real people (Alexander the Great for example, the romances of late antiquity and the middle ages.) Or Robin Hood, or King Arthur, etc. I have no problem with believing that a man by the name of Jesus son of Joseph may have lived in first century Palestine, just the fantastic fables with their clearly folkloric elements (with so many parallels in so many cultures), are a tad hard to swallow.

By Maitre Alcofribas (not verified) on 13 Jul 2006 #permalink

"According to the census here of non-believers, God is bad because we're not perfect and the world is not perfect."

Not quite: god(s) are neither bad nor good; god(s) do not exist. The idea is flawed because flawed men made it up. We are pointing out the flaws of the idea, because that is what all god(s) are: ideas. I have no fear of this statement. It is simple and honest and direct.

The world is neither perfect nor imperfect; it simply is, and we accept the reality we see before us and have no reason to think invisible things control us or the world. We are not created entities forced to live in a cosmic drama; we are creators of myths and drama and the time to think that those things are anything but created is long past.

MP, what paleotn said.

It's not "spouting off" to say that they were only repeating rumors, it's a fact. Absolutely nothing new was added to the information about Jesus by these authors (as I pointed out in a post, above.) What I (and paleotn) are asking for is independent, objective corroborative evidence that the extraordinary claims made of your god are true. (And the Christians say that their god did such and such does not qualify as independent evidence.)

That would mean new information, from a different perspective, that could be used to evaluate those claims. As paleotn pointed out, if Jesus really did those amazing things, don't you think someone else would have noticed? I mean come on, now!

BTW, have you ever heard of Apollonius of Tyana? He lived about a century before Jesus, and was reputed to have done many of the same things: walk on water, heal the blind and lame, raise the dead, etc. Why believe the Jesus stories, but dismiss Apollonius as fiction? It seems like special pleading to me.

You reallly should look into how fantastic legends get attached to real people (Alexander the Great for example, the romances of late antiquity and the middle ages.) Or Robin Hood, or King Arthur, etc. I have no problem with believing that a man by the name of Jesus son of Joseph may have lived in first century Palestine, just the fantastic fables with their clearly folkloric elements (with so many parallels in so many cultures), are a tad hard to swallow.

By Maitre Alcofribas (not verified) on 13 Jul 2006 #permalink

Now then many preachers are not really interested in changing peoples minds for good. They just want to give "the warning" so they can count them as "warned" and thus move closer to the rapture.

It is interesting that all these end of times talking are built on the pretense that the will of god in the bible could be studied scientifically. Good old fashion, XIXth century american "dispensationalism". They calculated the end of times from exequiel, daniel, revelation and stated that scientific proof of the bible was available in the prophecies that had become fulfilled, and thus the ones to come were reliable. Several new american religions latched onto the concept of such bible calculations, providing not only dates but the sequences of events leading up to them.
Modern dispensationalims has learnt not to provide dates anymore but still insists on sequences of events an e are ALWAYS at the border itself of the abyss, two steps away from the rapture. I know people who have believed that since 1975. 31 years and the world seemed to them as bad and hopeless as it seems to them now. Is this not a matter of how we choose to view the world?

All american, XIXth century dispensationalism. In the century of enlightment, of light bulbs, dinosaurs, daguerrotypes and phonographs, religion did not fail in presenting its approach to the bible as "scientific".

Which all has to do with our little problem with faith and science

By Alexander Vargas (not verified) on 13 Jul 2006 #permalink

Peterson again...

"It's great how you spout off that they're "repeating rumours" with no basis.

I suppose you don't have proof of this."

Jesus H. Christus man, they weren't ALIVE during Jesus' supposed lifetime! Therefore, they must be repeating what they had heard! Their acknowledgments are just quick blurbs recognizing a new cult based upon some guy named Jesus. Like there weren't hundreds of mystery cults floating around the empire at the time. Many mention other cults, but does that mean those cults are true as well? No.

Philo was alive and IN JERUSALEM, along with hundreds of other scribes and scholars, Jewish, Greek, etc. etc., and yet not one, single, solitary first hand account about those spectacular events has ever been found. Events that would have absolutely amazed the most jaded of 1st century human beings. Why? Occams simple answer is those events never happened or did not happen as they are portrayed in the gospels. Why can you not get that through your head?

Steve_C
"I turn on the news and I see christians hoping for armageddon and the end of the world.
I see them bombing health clinics and killing doctors. I see them protesting at soldiers funerals. I see them denying science and demanding control of the government."

So you are saying all of the evil in the world is the result of the actions of Christians. I don't deny Christians have done the things you list above. That wasn't my point, anyway. I made no attempt at trying to convey that Christianity is perfect because I know full well it isn't. The point I was trying to make is that some people do evil because they don't believe in an afterlife, they believe this is all there is, and have decided to do whatever they please regardless of how it hurts others. I was pointing out that people can take the same assessment you have made about life, and instead of using our little time here to do good, they choose to do bad. It's pretty easy to fall back on the old standard "religion is the root of all evil" rather than own up to the fact that religion isn't the only motivator for evil.

Impatientimpatient:
"Appaerently Kenneth Lay lived like this and they compared HIM to Jesus. "

I would never compare that man to Jesus. I'm astounded by any Christian or anyone else who would. Clearly, they love money and power above justice and fairness.

"Now about this new fangled evolution stuff--- what has your side had to say on that particular subject that adds to the scientific discussion and evidence? "

I don't know--I guess you would have to check with the Christian biologists at Wheaton College, or read some stuff by Kenneth Miller. Not every Christian rejects evolution, nor does every evolutionary biologist reject religion.

I must return to the land of no internet, so I will not be able to participate in this discussion any longer, unless it is still going strong tomorrow...which it just may be--longest thread I've ever seen here!

Cheers, y'all

I'm just calling it like I see it. I don't see what's "straw man" about my comments,

Look up what the straw man fallacy is sometime. Your portrayl of God as an "egomania[c]" who "needs constant reassurance of how great and mighty he is" and is "needy and insecure" falls under the fallacy. Those are your false inventions to make "my side" look bad.

nor do I consider myself to be trolling. I don't know where that came from.

Easy. You're simply posting those things to get a rise out of myself and other Christians here. That's trolling. I'm not trying to get a rise out of anyone with my posts, but that doesn't stop all of you from condemning me as a troll.

Does this mean you know something about what motivates the Great Psychopath? Better talk to MP over there; he believes you can't know anything about God's reasons for doing things.

I'm interested in hearing your answer to the question you posed as well, since you seem to think it's so obvious.

Try thinking about the Ten Commandments.

Oh, and MP, it's not an ad hom if it's true.

"True" according to whom? You? Do you have some proof that this person is retarded? I assume you either know them personally or are privy to his medical and social files, which would be the only way you could have proof.

Though since I'm a kind woman I'll add "brainwashed" before "retard." Honestly, you're acting like an abused wife who "loves" the sumbitch who beats her.

Actually, you're not kind at all. You're a bigot. Hey, it's not ad hominem because it's true (and it actually is true and not just me saying so).

Why is a "scientist" more qualified to speak on science than any other individual? Why is a "biologist" more qualified to speak on biology than astronomy?

You can't compare the study of experimental and provable ideas to that of theology which is quite literally based on nothing. You may compare it to various forms of philosophy of which a structure can be mounted and you missed the point of me saying 'past their own particular denominations'.

The bible is essentially replete with narratives written by men but that is a given. How do you discern and which method of discernment are you using?
How do you discern anything you read? How do you discern that "Saving Private Ryan" is a work of fiction and a biography is not? How do you discern that "reality TV" shows - while based on real events - are highly fictionalized through editting?

So you don't have a method then?

The parts that are God's words are the parts that say things like "God said __________." Anything else are the words of men inspired by God.

Do you not realize the banality of this statement? The utter stupidity of it. When you say it says 'God said who do you think wrote it down? Do you think an invisible finger did it? So how is that any different than the words of inspired men? And if they are inspired how is that different than God speaking? Is he not speaking through them?

Your argument is completely incoherent.

Technically, that's not a straw man argument--that is honestly how I see this conception of a god that needs constant worship, as an egomaniac. Straw man would be if I was just saying that *you* felt that way and then condemned you for it. I know you don't think that of God that way--of course you don't. I do, and I said so.

I never really thought of you as a troll, even though I disagree with everything you've posted here and on other threads. To me, trolling is saying something purposefully offensive that isn't germane to the topic, such as a racist comment, for example. All I'm trying to do is engage in debate with some folks, some who I agree with and some I don't.

Actually, you're not kind at all. You're a bigot. Hey, it's not ad hominem because it's true

How can she be a bigot jsut because she thinks your irrational which you are? She is not seeking to take anything from you, not actively doing anything other than saying your full of baloney. If she is a bigot what does that make those opposing gays and a variety of other social issues.

All she did was call BS.

Book of Ezekiel (ch. 26) re: Tyre (emphases added):

7 "For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: From the north I am going to bring against Tyre Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, king of kings, with horses and chariots, with horsemen and a great army. 8 He will ravage your settlements on the mainland with the sword; he will set up siege works against you, build a ramp up to your walls and raise his shields against you. 9 He will direct the blows of his battering rams against your walls and demolish your towers with his weapons. 10 His horses will be so many that they will cover you with dust. Your walls will tremble at the noise of the war horses, wagons and chariots when he enters your gates as men enter a city whose walls have been broken through. 11 The hoofs of his horses will trample all your streets; he will kill your people with the sword, and your strong pillars will fall to the ground. 12 They will plunder your wealth and loot your merchandise; they will break down your walls and demolish your fine houses and throw your stones, timber and rubble into the sea. 13 I will put an end to your noisy songs, and the music of your harps will be heard no more. 14 I will make you a bare rock, and you will become a place to spread fishnets. You will never be rebuilt, for I the LORD have spoken, declares the Sovereign LORD.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that this part of Ezekiel was written while Tyre was under siege by Nebuchadnezzar. (Estimates of Ezekiel's life make him contemporaneous with Nebuchadnezzar's reign.) This makes one of the most apparently salient parts of the prediction 20/20 hindsight, and also gives the prediction immediate psychological impact: God says Tyre is going to lose! 8-9 are ordinary descriptions of armies and tactics of the period, with perhaps a little hyperbole about Babylonian might. 10-14 specifically predict Nebuchadnezzar breaking the gates, sacking the city and destroying it, and that it will never be rebuilt. The entire passage is clearly talking about one event, the attack by Nebuchadnezzar.

What actually happened (via Wikipedia article on Nebuchadnezzar II) (emphasis added):

After the destruction of Jerusalem, Nebuchadrezzar engaged in a 13 year long siege of Tyre (585-572 BC), which ended in a compromise, with the Tyrians accepting Babylonian authority.

Nebuchadnezzar didn't break the gates and didn't sack the city. He may have exacted tribute, but that is a far cry from plunder, let alone demolishing houses and throwing their stones and timber into the sea.

Centuries later, Alexander *did* sack (parts of) the city, but it was rebuilt; even if you allow a passage that specifically names Nebuchadnezzar and was probably written during his reign to refer to Alexander about 250 years later, the prophecy specifically states that Tyre won't be rebuilt.

Here's what Tyre looks like today. Bare rock? Place to spread fishnets? Not exactly. The ancient island fortress is now the end of a peninsula, and most of the peninsula appears heavily urbanized.

*IF* the passage was written before Nebuchadnezzar's intention to attack Tyre was clear, then that part is an accurate prediction; otherwise it's an observation of an ongoing attack. The rest is simply wrong. It's wrong in great and vivid detail, but it's still wrong.

I just want to know if Jason thinks we're are nearing Armageddon

We're always nearing the so-called "last days." Did you mean to ask, "Is Armageddon going to happen soon?" My answer to that question is, "I don't know and I don't have to know."

and if he's getting ready for and/or doing things or hoping things will speed it's arrival?

No. I'm just watching, waiting and helping to spread the Gospel. There's nothing I or any other Christian can do to "speed it's [sic] arrival." God is not beholden to our actions and our actions will not speed up or slow down the timeline for His plans.

Using Children as 'God's Army'
Alternet

http://shogo.gnn.tv/headlines/9598/_End_Times_Religious_Groups_Want_Apo…

A new documentary chronicles a summer camp where children, as young as six, are trained to become devout Christian soldiers.

Gandhi once said if Christians lived according to their faith, there would be no Hindus left in India. He knew how powerful the fundamental tenets of Christianity--fighting poverty, caring for the least among us, loving your enemies, eschewing materialism and embracing humility--could be if everyone who called themselves a Christian truly followed them.

The new documentary, Jesus Camp, which chronicles a North Dakota summer camp where kids as young as 6 are taught to become dedicated Christian soldiers in "God's army," is an illustration of this sentiment in the extreme.

The film, by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, the duo who also directed the critically-acclaimed The Boys of Baraka, opened to an appreciative and flabbergasted audience at the 2006 TriBeca Film Festival, where it received the Special Jury Award. The directors skillfully captured the daily interactions of a world that would be foreign to most viewers: children speaking in tongues and talking of being "born again" at age 5.

The star of the film is Pastor Becky Fischer, who explains the startling mission of her "Kids on Fire" camp: "I want young people to be as committed to laying down their lives for the Gospel as they are in Pakistan." At the camp, the children are asked: "How many of you want to be those who will give up your life for Jesus?" Little hands shoot up from every direction. They are told: "We have to break the power of the enemy over the government." At one point, Becky yells: "This means war! Are you a part of it or not?" More little hands.

The directors take us into the homes of the children, where we see them "pledge allegiance to the Christian flag" and play a video game called "Creation Adventure" that debunks evolution. A mother helps her children with homework and informs them that, "Global warming is not going to happen. Science doesn't prove anything."

The film takes us back to the camp, where the children are gathered for their daily teaching. Suddenly, a camp counselor places a life-size cardboard cutout before the group. No, it's not Jesus. It's George Bush. Clapping erupts and Becky encourages them to "say hello to the President." Becky claims that "President Bush has added credibility to being a Christian."

Statistics about the spectacular number of "evangelicals" in the United States are ominously flashed onscreen throughout the movie, implicitly suggesting that Becky and her assembled camp are giving us a peek into the inner workings of the "evangelical movement." But it might be worth questioning the conventional wisdom that the 100 million Americans who call themselves evangelicals all march to the same beat. Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, and James Dobson have a vested interest in presenting this group as a conservative monolith under their exclusive and unquestioned control. And while there is no denying the electoral power of the Religious Right, Democrats should not assume that all, or even a majority, of evangelicals naturally hew to the Republican line.

While it's never disclosed in the movie, Jesus Camp is in fact a Pentecostal camp, which puts it far to the right theologically and politically, even within the evangelical movement. The directors explained that they didn't want to confuse audiences by disclosing this and instead referred to the camp only as "evangelical." Unfortunately, they unwittingly added to the enormous confusion that people like Jim Wallis, author of God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It, has been trying to clear up for years.

Wallis, who is the founder and editor of Sojourners, a progressive Christian magazine, spends much of his time traveling the country talking to students and meeting with evangelical leaders. Wallis believes the future of the country is in the hands of moderate evangelical voters. He estimates, based on polls and personal experience, that about half of evangelicals are the immovable Religious Right but the other half are open to, if not hungry for, progressive leadership.

"The facts on the ground are changing," says Wallis. He reports a marked increase in attendance of his speeches on Christian campuses and the issues he gets asked about the most are not gay marriage or abortion. Wallis says abortion will naturally remain important issue to the moderate evangelical voter, but it is not a litmus test. They want leaders who will acknowledge their moral concerns about this issue and who are committed to decreasing the number of abortions, a position that puts them well within the mainstream of Democratic voters.

And it's no different if Wallis is meeting with the leader of an evangelical mega-church. One such leader recently told Wallis, "I'm a conservative on Jesus, the Bible and the Resurrection, but I'm becoming a social liberal." When Wallis asked why, he heard what has become a familiar refrain: evangelicals are increasingly despairing over the neglect of the poor, the environment, and the U.S. inaction on fighting the genocide in Darfur.

White evangelicals make up close to 25 percent of the electorate and, in 2004, a whopping 78 percent of them voted for George Bush. But evangelicals didn't always line up behind the Republican candidate. According to Pew Research, in 1987, white evangelicals were almost evenly divided between the two parties. And today, many evangelical leaders believe that a growing number of these voters are prepared to return to the Democratic fold, but only if Democrats stop misunderstanding, neglecting, and even intentionally ignoring what was and should be a natural constituency.

Meanwhile, evangelical groups are finding their voice on many progressive issues. U2 front man Bono has talked extensively of the unlikely partnership he has forged with evangelical leaders in fighting the AIDS crisis. One of those leaders is Ted Haggard, a staunch Republican who founded the now 12,000-person New Life Church and heads the National Association of Evangelicals. Haggard personally counseled British Prime Minister Blair on how to persuade President