What do you imagine Rick Warren thinks about evolution?

Go ahead, guess. Would you be surprised to learn that Warren is a creationist?

I believed that evolution and the account of the Bible about creation could exist along side of each other very well. I just didn't see what the big argument was all about. I had some friends who had been studying the Bible much longer than I had who saw it differently...Eventually, I came to the conclusion, through my study of the Bible and science, that the two positions of evolution and creation just could not fit together. There are some real problems with the idea that God created through evolution... My prayer is that you will have this same experience!

The Bible's picture is that dinosaurs and man lived together on the earth, an earth that was filled with
vegetation and beauty...man and dinosaurs lived at the same time...From the very beginning of creation, God gave man dominion over all that was made, even over the dinosaurs.

Isn't it nice of Obama to grant this clown a prominent place on the national stage?

More like this

By way of Michael Tomasky, I stumbled across this site hosted by presidential debate moderator Rev. Rick Warren (?!?). Here's what the good reverend has to say about evolution: What about dinosaurs?Question: How do they fit in with the idea that God created the world rather than the world evolving…
Salon has an interview with Elaine Pagels on the Gospel of Judas. I'm really not much interested in yet another quaint twist on Christian dogma — I can understand how historians may differ, of course — but in the course of the interview she pulls this stunt … this ridiculous, absurd, cowardly claim…
The conventional wisdom is that it was Vladimir Lenin, but officers in our military have access to secret knowledge, thanks to Rick Warren: it was actually Charles Darwin. We learn this from one of those ghastly power point presentations the military churns up, this one from Air Force Chaplain…
Apparently, humanism is selfish. That would have been news to Albert Camus, Nobel Laureate and resistance fighter. This is from a military chaplain's presentation about suicide prevention that apparently is cribbed directly from evangelical preacher Rick Warren: In March 2008, this presentation,…

Eventually, I came to the conclusion, through my study of the Bible and science, that the two positions of evolution and creation just could not fit together. There are some real problems with the idea that God created through evolution

Well, at least he got this part right.

i can't seem to find the book of tyrannosaurus in my bible.

Eventually, I came to the conclusion, through my study of the Bible and science, that the two positions of evolution and creation just could not fit together

if somebody's right for the all reasons, do we still put it in fundie-font?

By arachnophilia (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

The Bible's picture is that dinosaurs and man lived together on the earth

First it was adding dinosaurs to Noah's Ark. How long until we start seeing nativity scenes being sold with dino figures included?

No Raptors!

There are some real problems with the idea that God created through evolution...

And some real problems with people who believe in a sky fairy who is omnipotent and all powerful but the very same people get to decide that he/she/it can't do evolution.

As for the people and dinosaurs, I blame the Flintstones (among others) and lack of a disclaimer for the benefit of morons "This is not a Documentary."

[Creationism--in flagrante delicto...caveat emptor]

By Peter Kemp (Au… (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

I guess this proves Obama really is a christian. I had hopes he was just hiding the good sense his mother had on religion.

There are already lots of clowns on the national stage. I suspect President-elect Obama is simply making an effort to be gracious and build bridges instead of walls. IIRC the other prayer at the inaugration is being given by a more progressive person. I don't think either an IQ or credulity test is required to participate in rituals like the inauguration.

Warren's ideas on creationism/evolution are wrong. That happens.

Also valid: What do you think Rick Warren imagines about evolution?

By Sven DiMilo (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

Hey, this didn't start with the Flintstones.

Am I the only one here old enough to remember Alley Oop? He was a comic strip caveman who rode around, cowboy style, on the back of a sauropod, presumably a brontasaurus (oops, apatasaurus).

Also, despite all the talk (by creationists) about dinosaurs in the Bible and on the Ark, I've read that vile book several times and I can't find any reference to them.

Maybe it's because Bronze Age mythmakers hadn't heard of them.

By littlejohn (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

"Eventually, I came to the conclusion, through my study of the Bible and science, that the two positions of evolution and creation just could not fit together."

What a moron! When I was nine or ten, I read Darwin's "The Descent of Man". It took me another couple of years to realize the same thing as the idiot Warren, except that I understood that the bible was merely a load of old crap.

By Richard Harris (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

How long until we start seeing nativity scenes being sold with dino figures included?

I would have that nativity scene. Baby Jesus warmed by the breath of the iguanodon and the triceratops. The Magi riding on the back of parasaurolophuses. The shephers being told by a pteranodon about the birth. And, instead of the star, an asteroid blazing through the upper layers of the atmosphere. I want it now!

And god said unto adam i give you domain over all the beasts of the earth, save the smallest, in an ironic twist of fate, ive decided that the smallest beasts of the earth, the bacteria and virus, are going to kick your ass all through the ages! it will be an epic battle that will result in much human death, and to make it even more amusing, i wont tell you what is going on-that way you will blame your women and burn them at the stake...Cause im pimp like that

By rightssssss (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

If dinosaurs were brought onto the Ark, how did they keep the tyrannosaurs, allosaurs, and other big theropods from breaking out and eating the other animals? Gopher wood is not exactly the material I would use to contain very large, very savage beasts.

By Brandon P. (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

The Bible's picture is that dinosaurs and man lived together on the earth

Warren must not be reading the same bible that I did. I find no reference to dinosaurs at all, (not surprising, since they were still unknown when the bible was written.)

-jcr

By John C. Randolph (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

It's so easy to make fun of this whole stupid "humans and dinosaurs lived together" notion, but seriously, why don't the creationists realize what a loser argument this is? Is it really more like "We believe this *nudge nudge wink wink*" or do they truly think people rode around on triceratops or hitched them to wagons?

who gives a sh*t? people/idiots and crap like this piss me off; i really need to just learn to not give a f**k

Hey, this didn't start with the Flintstones.

You're right Littlejohn, but the "Flintstones" was most likely exported to more places around the world than other conflations of the homo sapiens/dino genre.

(Actually I'm a little surprised that the creationists/Discovery Institute/Ham et al aren't promoting it for education of children to combat "teh evilutionists".)

By Peter Kemp (Au… (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

Yeah, I kinda concur with dave. There's so much other great things to do.

I mean, as much as the neocon-esque Sarah Palin crowd want to drink their kerosene-laced urine and expect us to believe in the Visions they thereby derive, That Establishment pretty much screwed the pooch on the economy even if plenty of "liberal minded politicians" helped them. And the Cheney-Bush "there have been no attacks" claim to evidence of absence is plausibly absence of evidence.

Oh fuck off and die. Religious wacko disbelieves evolution, still gets his tetanus shots. News at eleven.

You've got Joseph Lowery - outspoken civil rights leader, outspoken gay advocate, and outspoken anti-war advocate, and the common sense to stay clear of the evolution debate - giving the benediction. Warren gets 3 minutes on a stage during an inauguration that spans hours and every blog on the internet gives Warren full attention while leaving the poster child of positive roll models at the back of the bus.

This was eye-rolling two weeks ago. Now its pathological and somewhat revolting. Give it a fucking rest.

It seems to me that Mr. Warren must have spent much more time studying the bible than science as he is so wrong.

Why doesn't any of these interviewers ever just confront Warren about biblical marriage? As in multiple wives? Buying and selling wives. Beating wives. This is the true traditional christian marriage.
I'm really hoping that the fool will just talk too much and turn 80% of the country off. At some point, one has to use one's inner sense of justice and honesty...atheists seem to have more than christians do.

SC, OM - Thanks for that link to the Democracy Now interview. Rick Warren gave a very plain clue as to where we'll find his scandal - "I'm naturally disposed to want to have sex with all the beautiful women...", to paraphrase him. Niiiice.

You all are spelling biblical dinosaurs wrong. It's actually dragons. There you go.

By Patricia, OM (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

I personally am very happy with such people. By segregating science and religion, they are helping out the cause of positive atheism as... well the evolution side of the debate is winning, heck you may say it already won, while the creationism side is a sinking ship. The more religion we can attach to the sinking ship the better!

I was quite infuriated by the Rick Warren invocation selection because of his blatant homophobia. I was not mollifed by the selection of a gay friendly person to do the benediction either. I have heard some credible sources say that Obama did not pick Warren himself; he was selected by the inaugural committee. Now how much of an excuse this is I do not know.

I do know that Warren is much more liberal on poverty issues than many evangelicals and if those idiots can be influenced to actually follow the supposed teachings of Jebus to help the poor and sick that is a good thing. This is, in fact, how Obama came to be acquainted with Warren. I think that Warren is also accepting of global warming, although I'm not certain of this and can't be arsed to look it up.

In short, I went from outrage to my usual eye-rolling acceptance of Warren's presence at the inaugural ceremony. Like it or not, if we are to make progress in this country on some very important issues which affect everyone, some compromises have to be made. I just hate that it's always we who are doing the outreach to these bible thumping cretins.

Of course, from a first amendment standpoint, no person of the cloth - any cloth - should be praying on the public's property for a public official.

The fundies think that when the Bible mentions "behemoths" and "leviathans," it's describing dinosaurs. Sane people think the Biblical authors are most likely giving a confused account of stories they've heard about elephants and whales.

Here's Job 40: 15-18 (King James Version)

15 Behold now behemoth, which I made with thee;
he eateth grass as an ox.

16 Lo now, his strength is in his loins,
and his force is in the navel of his belly.

17 He moveth his tail like a cedar:
the sinews of his stones are wrapped together.

18 His bones are as strong pieces of brass;
his bones are like bars of iron.

And here's Job 41:1-2

1 Canst thou draw out leviathan with a hook?
or his tongue with a cord which thou lettest down?

2 Canst thou put a hook into his nose?
or bore his jaw through with a thorn?

(Leviathans are also mentioned in Psalms 74.14 and 104.26; and in Isaiah 27.1)

Bottom line is that Warren is getting all weak kneed and gooey eyed for creationism, and he realises that Evolution and Creationism does not fit, so he makes the logical leap of ignorance and concludes that creationism has it spot on thus undermining many from the creationist camp that espouse the opposite view that both views can co exist, albeit against the evidence and the dogma, trying to win souls knows no boundaries apparently!

Dinosaurs and Man living together ala Flintstones...'bout sums up these cretins...

But it is seemingly easier in America to hold looney ideas as sacred to the constitution...okay.....but let us hope the Obama is aware of the insanity inherent in this fool and takes that in to account in future choices for a governmental position...

Claiming it makes no difference to capability is stretching the credibility envelope...who actually could take this idiot seriously...only other creationists..and if they are in governmental positions already then Yankeeland is well and truly goosed after the turkey!

By strangest brew (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

Re jpf @ #8 - Thanks for that link and

Mary! Shave that beard! You're putting joseph to shame.

Also; Prayers at the inauguration!? What's up with that? Where's the establishment (sanity) clause when you need it?

Rick Warren went with the irrational and superstitious nonsense.

Why is anyone surprised?

Bottom feeders like him are so predictable.

By NewEnglandBob (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

Isn't it nice of Obama to grant this clown a prominent place on the national stage?

Rick Warren, and anybody like Rick Warren, will never be a part of Obama's administration. Obama is just temporarily sucking up to the millions of Americans who believe the Flintstones cartoons are real.

Certainly Obama knows Warren is a retard, but Obama is just doing what an American politician has to do, which is to make the vast population of American idiots happy. He's doing it in such a way that will have no effect on government policy, so it's harmless.

My take on this, is that even the craziest young earth creationists are, in the end, following their own interpretation of the Bible, not the Bible itself. After all, things he is saying are not in the Bible-he is making them up.

By Insightful Ape (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

@#36 and what's new about that? That's been standard practive since day one. If the bibel doesn't say what you want it to quote mine, take out of context and reinterpritate it to mean what ever you want it to.

By Gold Dragon 1968 (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

Just for grins and chuckles I threw in a 'bible' story at Christmas dinner at my kids/granddaughter's house (after the seven year old finished saying grace).

I told her never to make fun of bald people because I had just read in the bible where God had sent two bears to kill forty children for that offense.

The rest of the table was like "WTF? That's in the bible?" I said I couldn't quote chapter and verse but google should help.

I remember Alley Oop. I guess that makes me a pretty old bastard?

Enjoy.

2 Kings 2:23-24 The prophet Elisha, was being picked on by some young boys from the city because of his bald head. The prophet turned around and cursed them in the Lords name. Then, two female bears came out of the woods and killed forty-two of them. You would think that God could understand that sometimes the youthful make childish jokes

Gold Dragon 1968, WOW, that site and some of its posters are just so so sad in their anger at anything atheist.

By John Phillips, FCD (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

People like Rick Warren feed on the confused and feeble minded.
By targeting religious groups they find right away an elevated
concentration of those targets.

And, how many "we the people" religions will be represented at the inauguration? Many beliefs about the supernatural are being disregarded by the invocation and the benediction. How about some equal time for those of us who believe in the natural world. You could say something like, "See that tree over there?" "So do I."

By talking snake (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

#40. You can just feel the terror of anyone different vibrating out of the screen. Amazing how cowardly so many of them are.

By Gold Dragon 1968 (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

Word on the street is that Warren is a closeted homosexual (thing Ted Haggard).

In my lifetime, it has been my experience that those who take greatest offense to homosexuality IN A PUBLIC way, are often the biggest nancy boys on the planet.

It is still my hope that the religulous people will pause from gay bashing just long enough to focus on condemning and prosecuting the administration officials responsible for torturing the testicles of toddlers. Jeebus loves him some little children...

Enjoy.

What do I imagine Rick Warren thinks about evolution? Well, that's it's something to be feared - and, more importantly, suppressed, lest it undermine his religion even further. Sadly (for him) the understanding of evolution will continue to grow while the acceptance of the lies of religion will shrink.

It probably won't ever die completely, but when Christianity becomes as rare (and, more importantly, as politically insignificant) in Western countries as, say, Zoroastrianism, then I'll be content.

By Wowbagger (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

"I came to the conclusion, through my study of the Bible and science, that the two positions of evolution and creation just could not fit together."

Got that part right, at least.

By CalGeorge (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

I kind of figured that out when he was going on about how the definition of marriage hasn't changed in the last 5000 years and that all religions treat it the same. Apparently he never read the bible, since a mere 3000 or so years ago polygamy was the way to go with the kings of Israel. He also doesn't seem to have ever found out that muslims are allowed to have four wives in some places, as many as they can afford in others. Today, as well as in the history of that religion. Oh what false witness they won't bear for their paycheck!

Am I the only one here old enough to remember Alley Oop

I used to read Alley Oop as a kid, and then in my teens I dreamt a series of bizarre adventures about him and the time-traveling professor (and the force field dome, I think).

Now whenever I think about the character, it invokes this weird psychological angst in me that makes the comic strip hard to remember, because it's all mixed up with dream stuff.

Just thought I'd share. : )

Happy Monkey!

By RamblinDude (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

Obama is smarter (and more cynical) than the rest of us. Obama's choice of a vacuous, fluff-ball, snake-oil salesman is his way of subtly "dissing" evangelical knuckleheads. He is not "reaching out" but,rather, showing his contempt. The air-headed Joel Osteen would be even better.

By Ken from Oregon (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

In the Bible, they'd have you believe
That the serpent taught Man to deceive.
It 'twas no bitten apple
But a dinosaur's grapple--
Leviathan did it with Eve!

Yes, Eve, the original madam
Was cheating on poorly hung Adam
When it comes to good sex,
A Tyrannosaur's Rex
As she found out the moment she had 'im!

Though it cast them from Eden to Earth, it
Made Eve full of unending mirth--It
Spawned giggles and sighs,
And her faraway eyes
Had the look that just said "It was worth it."

Cuttlefish, thank you, thank you, thank you. Absolutely Brilliant. I'll never be able to hear a godbot talking about the fall again without that image in my mind :)

By John Phillips, FCD (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

Warren's working on taking over for Falwell -- it's a shoo-in; he's already got the jowls down pat!

I'm wondering about what this revolting development tells us about Obama's religion strategy. I note that Warren isn't just any nutter; he takes some positions similar to Obama's and quite different from the other evangelicals. Really, I doubt that this is some temporary sucking up to religion. For example, I don't see much cost to Obama if he were to support all the 10 commandment resolutions now dead in congress. Trouble is, they constitute a Declaration of Theocracy. (As I recall, Obama also supports Bush's Faith Based Initiative.) Anyway, I'm concerned that the temporary reprieve from the Christian Nation onslaught my be a lot more temporary than I'd hoped. Obama may succeed in making pets of these alligators but one must not forget that the 'gators must be fed. Let's face it, dedicated supporters of secularism are not a big voting block. We'd make good 'gator food though.

Merry Gravmas!

I wondered what a "Purpose driven life" was all about. You can read the first part of it on the website. Total mindless factually incorrect drivel.

It's all about God.

I don't quite see God's purpose in a women giving birth to a child from a rapist.

Why do people believe this rubbish.

I've read the first 60 or so pages of that clown's book "The Purposefully Sniveling Life." My intelligence has never been so insulted. Not only is the content a vacuous rubbish pile of logical gaffes, ignorant assertions, and all around knavery, the writing style uses maddeningly simple syntax apparently tailored for befuddled buffoons.

By InTheImageOfDNA (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

I'm shocked... well not really. It's to be expected. When you are a professional in talking out of your arse, saying stupid shit like man walked with dinosaurs comes naturally.

I'm sure one of the bible studies at Warren's SaddleSore church is a course on creation, and the Flintstones are its primary source material.

Yabba Dabba Fuckin' Doo!

By senecasam (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

2 Kings 2:23-24 The prophet Elisha, was being picked on by some young boys from the city because of his bald head. The prophet turned around and cursed them in the Lords name. Then, two female bears came out of the woods and killed forty-two of them. You would think that God could understand that sometimes the youthful make childish jokes

I just went to check this verse out, and found some ridiculous, speculative 'explanation' for it. It is really pathetic, how much twisting and squirming a Christian will go through to whitewash the bible.

http://www.christian-thinktank.com/qmeanelisha.html

The point about the mistranslation of 'little boy' is hilarious. They certainly seem quite happy to use a mistranslation of 'virgin'....

By Matt, Sexual J… (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

My youngest brother came up to me yesterday (he's 13) and asked about people who believe that humans and dinosaurs lived at the same time. He was referring to Sarah Palin, and he was wondering how anyone could believe something that silly. He was shocked when I informed him that around 150 million Americans believe that man walked with dinosaurs. Now he's not the most scientifically-minded child, yet even he could see the absurdity in all of that. That adults could believe such nonsense astounds me.

I don't know if anyone is familiar with Ogden Nash (20th century light verse poet) but Cuttlefish's poems are eye to eye with his. Good stuff.

Kel wrote:

That adults could believe such nonsense astounds me.

It's important to note there's a difference between an adult and a intellectually honest adult. Unfortunately, the US seems richer in the former than in the latter.

By Wowbagger (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

you obama defenders will never give an objective eye to things like this - always so ready to defend your guy- just admit it, this choice sucks

By robotaholic (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

Oh I'm sure this extensive knowledge in evolutionary science will come in handy when he's fighting the AIDS virus.

"IIRC the other prayer at the inaugration is being given by a more progressive person. "

Yeah funny how the other pastor at the inaugration namely the important person whose speech goes into the history books and considered far more important then what Warren is there for is a gay pastor who is black, outspoken about giving gays the right of marriage.

Tell me if news of Warren didn't get out could you imagine the shitstorm from the conservative media and the reactions of the fundies like Rush Limbaugh to this black pastor.

Funny how mention of Warren has neglected that important fact. Warren was a bone thrown at the fundies to distract them from the real pastor who is going to speak at the inaugration. Sadly some of the left fell for the distraction as well.

The thing is Warren has a lot of fundies on his side and when mentioned that Warren was picked by Obama to be at the inaugration the response is that they were shocked by Obama and responded they are more likely to support what Obama wants.

Obama might be keeping his enemies closer to him then his friends. Keep that in mind people.

By tootiredoftheright (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

I just went to check this verse out, and found some ridiculous, speculative 'explanation' for it.

There's actually a discussion going on here about that very verse.

By Feynmaniac (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

Obama said:

During the course of the entire inaugural festivities, there are going to be a wide range of viewpoints that are presented. And that's how it should be, because that's what America's about. That's part of the magic of this country . . . we are diverse and noisy and opinionated

I like tolerant people.

The nutters use "faith" to block themselves from any rational examination of their views. It's quite clever really; teach kids a stinking pile of barking mad nonsense then teach them the virtue of faith to keep them from smelling or even seeing how disgusting it all is. Teach them to combat doubt (their suppressed rationality's attempt to protect them) with faith. Instead, they lie, they invent a fantacy "spirit world" and create hack after hack to cover the glitches in the fantacy.

Personally, I'm not at all happy that the New Atheism has failed to come straight out and say Faith is a vice! Although I don't recall the last time I wore a button (except for my "A" lapel pin), yesterday, I actually took the step of seeing how much it would cost to have such a button made for myself (not a whole lot, as it turns out). I'll have to decide whether I'm ready to handle the direct personal animosity this could generate. I think I'll be ok and besides, there's a real need for some intellectual silver bullets; something MUST attack the endless sappy prattle about faith. "Faith" is the worst enemy of reason. It's faith that's behind all the bullshit.

robotaholic @ 63:

What are you talking about? 99% of those here say "this choice sucks". It is you who does not have an objective eye, just a blind one.

By NewEnglandBob (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

MelM @ 69:

Faith is not a vice. It is ignorance coupled with superstition and sometimes mixed with fear.

By NewEnglandBob (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

Intelligent Designer #67,

A visit from the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come to his Senses

By Feynmaniac (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

Intelligent Designer = Randy Stimpson = Stupid piece of shit.

Cuttlefish must publish a collection of his works. Simply wonderful, every single one that I've read.

All we need now is a visit from the Ghost of Christmas Clear and Present Danger, Pete "disgusting analogies" Rooke.

By Feynmaniac (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

" Obama doesn't consider people who disagree with him to be enemies."

So what does he consider them then?

By tootiredoftheright (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

I like tolerant people. - Unintelligent Designer

Me too. That's why I'm outraged that Obama has invited a homophobic bigot like Warren to give the invocation at his inauguration. The fact that Warren turns out also to be a creobot is just the vomit icing on the shit-cake.

By Nick Gotts, OM (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

@#69
Maximilien Robespierre said "The secret of freedom lies in educating people, whereas the secret of tyranny is keeping them ignorant."

Sounds like a pretty good discription of the intentions of the religious wrong.

By Gold Dragon 1968 (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

It's important to note there's a difference between an adult and a intellectually honest adult. Unfortunately, the US seems richer in the former than in the latter.

I'm coming more to the conclusion that almost all adults believe in nonsense, and to an extent that's fine. What the problem as I see it is, it's that people are unwilling to challenge their own beliefs and as a result we see obvious falsehoods like a belief that Dinosaurs walked on the earth at the same time as man propagate unchecked by the ignorant masses. It doesn't have to do with intellectual honesty for most, they simply do not know better and have been misled by those who are acting in an intellectually dishonest way.

Gold Dragon 1968 - Thank You for the link to that fundie nutter's column.
I'm a member of FFRF and it's good to see we're making an impact. I don't think for one moment Rick Warren would debate Dan Barker.

OT - Religulous is up on YouTube.

By Patricia, OM (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

NewEnglandBob,

Indeed, "this choice sucks".

Selecting Warren is a big deal. It seems to me like anointing him as drivelmeister of the nation. As I've posted already, I really suspect that there's a lot more that will suck about this choice that just a few minutes of extreme discomfort on Jan 20. I don't buy the "wide range of viewpoints" stuff at all. All kinds of people would satisfy THAT criteria. Why not Dawkins? Or, why not Pat Robertson? Or why not that Hagee prick that became to stinky even for McCain. Or, why not Franklin Graham (he's a big deal). The "wide range of viewpoints" prattle looks like nothing more than spin; IT DOESN'T EXPLAIN RICK WARREN.

Randy, have you ever seen the Dawkins documentary "Nice Guys Finish First"? In there he talked about what would happen in a cooperation / defection situation. If people were cooperative unconditionally, then those who are defective would screw over those who are cooperative. If people were defective unconditionally, then there would be no-one to take advantage of and the system would break down. What was found as the best strategy was one of reciprocal altruism - where those would cooperate with other cooperative people and defect with those who were defective.Now move this game theory to the idea of tolerance. If we tolerate the intolerant, then those who do not afford that same tolerance would marginalise the tolerant. To be completely intolerant on the same grounds would be disastrous too on the same merit, it would break down the cooperative nature of society. Rather a situation of reciprocal tolerance needs to work, we can't tolerate the intolerant, just as we can't give unconditionally to those who are trying to screw us over. Sure it's being intolerant, but only to those who are intolerant in the first place.

er, Cuttlefish is published.

By Patricia, OM (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

So, has anyone seen the "angel" from Charlotte, NC that they've been playing the hell out of all day on the news???

Merry Christmas!

er, Cuttlefish is published.

Ah! I see that he is indeed published, now that I had the common sense to click on his nym link. I blame too much time devoted to cheap beer. Mea culpa.

Perhaps when (if ever again) I have two dimes to rub together I'll purchase both volumes.

Kel wrote:

It doesn't have to do with intellectual honesty for most, they simply do not know better and have been misled by those who are acting in an intellectually dishonest way.

Do you think that the people being misled are that ignorant? I can't imagine they've somehow missed the concept that dinosaurs lived millions of years ago - heck, Jurassic Park was a very successful film, and spawned a few sequels. Ross, in Friends was a paleontologist, and the characters discussed dinosaur-related topics from time to time, IIRC.

This isn't something like the small (but significant) movement supporting the possibility there was no historical Jesus; that's still more at the 'conspiracy theory' stage by the standards of the general public. You might get some very surprised looks if you told people that there was doubt about not only his divinity but his very existence. I know it freaked me out the first time I heard it, and I've never been a christian.

I suspect if you ask most Ham-esque creationists about dinosaurs and they'll tell you that 'some people' think they died out 65 million years ago; I doubt too many are not going to have at least heard that explanation before. And if they have heard it and choose to believe otherwise then they're being intellectually dishonest rather than ignorant.

By Wowbagger (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

"My prayer is that you will have this same experience!"

As long as all he does is pray, we're safe.

By mikespeir (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

"Eventually, I came to the conclusion, through my study of the Bible and science. . . ."

Now, really, does this sound like the kind of guy who's spent so much as a hot second (373°K) studying science?

By ShadowWalkyr (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

Warren gave a very plain clue as to where we'll find his scandal - "I'm naturally disposed to want to have sex with all the beautiful women...", to paraphrase him.

I love her face when he says that. The only thing funnier would have been if she had suddenly looked over at security. Maybe she did, and they just edited it out.

So, has anyone seen the "angel" from Charlotte, NC that they've been playing the hell out of all day on the news???

You mean the light artifact in someone's digital camera? If you point a digital camera at almost any light source or reflected light source, you can get the same thing.

By 'Tis Himself (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

I wondered what a "Purpose driven life" was all about.

Nothing at all, essentially.

I realize that many in this forum may see little of value in religious writing, but one has to acknowledge that there is a difference between the heartfelt apologetics of C.S. Lewis and...well...I'll let Warren speak for himself:

Do we really have free will?

Question: How could God know and plan everything that will happen and yet also give us a free choice?

Aren't these two ideas mutually exclusive?

Answer: One of the great truths of the Bible is that God is able to know and be in control of all that happens (the Bible calls this predestination), and yet still give us free will and individual choice within that plan. Of course, it looks to us as if that were impossible. But that's why God is God and we're not!

One picture that has always helped me to understand these twin truths of God's sovereignty and our free will is that of two ropes hanging before you and extending through the ceiling above your head. One is marked predestination" and the other free will." If you were able to look through the ceiling you could see that the two ropes are actually one, hanging on a pulley above the ceiling. God can see, in ways that we cannot see, the ways that these seemingly contradictory facts are actually one powerful truth. Our free choice cannot violate God's sovereignty and God's sovereignty cannot violate our free choice.

The other way that the rope picture helps me is as a reminder that I can't lean more heavily on one of these two truths - God's will and our choice - than the other. Be sure to keep these truths in balance. If you lean too far toward God's being in control, you come down on the side of fatalism: it doesn't matter what we do. If you lean too far towards man's free will, you come down on the side of humanism: we are in control of our fate.

How do you reconcile those two? If God gives us choice, doesn't that put us in control rather than him? Our God is an awesome God! He is able to give us, as a part his creation, a free will to decide, and yet still remain in complete control of his creation. How does he do that? He is God!

Struggling to understand truths such as this reminds me of how great God really is. If I were able to completely understand him, he wouldn't be God!

"For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified." Romans 8:29-30

SC, OM - This will get me burned at the stake (seeress/witch) but I predict *evil Bush smirk* that we will see much more of Warren than we want to.
Ewwww!

By Patricia, OM (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

Dextrose #93:

Wow, I think Warren is trying the Chewbacca Defense of God.

What's really surprising is that this is the first time it's occurred to me that apologetics is the formal version of the Chewbacca Defense for God.

By chancelikely (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

I would have actually watch the Inauguration if Obama had picked Ole Anthony for Warren's spot instead, if only to watch all the televangelist head explosions that would accompany it.

Ugh. I understand Obama wanting to build bridges and all, but not a bridge that will take us straight to crazytown. I've had it with the faux-PC "let's tolerate intolerant assholes." I'll tolerate evangelicals when evangelicals tolerate gays and non-servile women.

Warren is a man who believes that half of the American population deserves to be little better than slaves to the whims of the other half. He believes that dinosaurs and human beings co-existed. These are not mere differences in opinion; these ideas are wrong and dangerously stupid. Stupid, bigoted ideas do not deserve respect. The belief that I am somehow less worthwhile than a man because he has a small chunk of meat dangling between his legs and I don't is not worthy of respect. The belief that a book thrown together from old folklore is more worthy of admiration and belief than science or reason is not worthy of respect. The belief that dinosaurs and humans co-existed is not worthy of respect. And the man who holds these ideas does not deserve respect.

Compare me to him all you want, but all I'm doing is criticizing him. This man fights for laws that actually hurt other peoples' lives. I wouldn't pass a law forbidding him to marry.

"the poster child of positive roll models"

What?! This guy is going to speak at the inauguration?

That makes two proud lard-asses (the PDB and Warren) to counterbalance the man who may be the fittest-looking president of all time. Damn!

By Cracking Wise (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

Sven - Is that you?

I agree its the wrong signal to have Warren invited to this inauguration thing,but I also agree with those that point out that the man Obama still has not served one single day as President ,and that we should all give him some time to find his way,and pick and drop people along the way.And Im convinced that Warren will fade into the ether pretty quickly.

I see this as an attempt to pacify and put a bit at ease the religiously deluded who fear any kind of change in the status quo as an existential threat to their wasteful existencies.
Give the guy a chance !

Do you think that the people being misled are that ignorant?

Yes I do. When they are being told by those who are in close command with God that the world is 6000 years old and that this belief is tightly coupled with God, of course they are going to reject any science that says otherwise. For the case of dinosaurs it means either ignoring their existence or rationalising it away by bringing the time frame of their existence into reality.It's not intellectual dishonesty, they are appealing to the authority that they know best - the bible. If it's the source of all truth in the world and those who have devoted their lives to studying the book say that dinosaurs lived with men, then surely you can see how someone can believe and still be honest with themselves. The ones who are intellectually dishonest are the believers who have studied the science and push doubt where there is none. People like Ken Ham, Kent Hovind, Stephen Meyer, etc. These are the people who have studied and have learnt better, yet they are the ones who push dishonesty where there is none. They side with the Ray Comforts and Kirk Camerons of the world because they all have that one ultimate goal: bring people to Jesus. If that means lying and misrepresenting the science in order to do so, then Lying for Jesus™ is an acceptable means of obtaining their ultimate goal. That's where intellectual dishonesty comes in it for me, when those who do know better act like they don't to deceive the ignorant. How many people really get fooled by the SLoT argument?

Kel, you left out one thing - they are lying for money. Jesus = money.

By Patricia, OM (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

It's intereting how frequently the most closed minded people on both (all?) sides of the (every?) issue share some of the same premises, e.g. 'evolution and the Bible are incompatible.' The narrow minded 'religious' types say, "Yes, so the heck with evolution!" while the narrow minded 'science' types say, "Yes, so the heck with the Bible!" Note, both begin with an emphatic "Yes!" to the same silly premise. However, once we see that it's a false alternative (as, I think, most fair minded people have), the simple minded conclusions on both sides collpase.

How Obama can pick a respectable scientist to be in his cabinet and then this guy for his religion. Oh well, at least its better than what we would have gotten with McCain!

By timebender13 (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

Sven - Is that you?

No, it wasn't. I prefer to leave the 'g' off of "crackin'."

By Sven DiMilo (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

seriously - how long does it take to study the creation story in the Bible? It's all right there in the first page! To study everything the bible has to say about creation will take you literally 3 minutes. Just read it, and see if you agree or not. What's to study?

Jesus = money.

Nice one !!

But he loves you !

BTW,where are Emmet and Walton,has anyone seen them? Or are they sitting drunk in some british whorehouse with a girl on each arm??Inquiring minds want to know !

Kel, you left out one thing - they are lying for money. Jesus = money.

true, though I'd contend that they feel their idea is winning out in the free-marketplace of ideas, so in a way paying for them to say evolution violates thermodynamics feeds their delusion that it must be so.

while the narrow minded 'science' types say, "Yes, so the heck with the Bible!"

The story of genesis is just one of so many many many reasons to reject the bible as just another religion. What in there could not have been written by a first century author?

Joe, when you're talking about modern translations of ancient texts written in complex languages with diverse manuscript traditions, a dissertation can be (and often is) written *on a single verse*.

I wonder if eric realised he simply built up a straw-man of sorts when complaining about narrow-minded people. That he's played up a straw-man of rejecting the bible purely based on evolution, when in reality there's just so many reason to reject Christianity and the bible itself. Mainly because the concept of God being a downright absurdity and the tales in the bible are no more special than any other "holy" book out there. There's nothing significant about the words of the bible, genesis being so badly wrong is just a microcosm of the symptomatic ignorance that starts in Genesis and finishes in Revelations.

Yes I do. When they are being told by those who are in close command with God that the world is 6000 years old and that this belief is tightly coupled with God, of course they are going to reject any science that says otherwise. For the case of dinosaurs it means either ignoring their existence or rationalising it away by bringing the time frame of their existence into reality.

I guess it comes down to us having differing opinions on the information available to these people, and the likelihood of them encountering it.

When it comes down to it, though, I hope you're right - since that would mean that all we've got to do is work harder at educating people. My more cynical approach is one with far less light at the end of its tunnel.

SLoT? I'm not familiar with that term - I must have missed something. What's it refer to?

By Wowbagger (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

Kel, Genesis isn't exactly a first century text -- it dates a little bit earlier than that -- but that's not important. It's rare to find sources at or before the first century that posit *both* a finite universe, i.e. a universe with a beginning, and a universe with a beginning ex nihilo. Most so-called creation stories posit some preexisting, chaotic 'stuff' that a 'demiurge' gives order and form to. Now, sure, the biblical version could've been 'made up' at the time (i.e. we can conceive of ancient people coming up with such a story), but it is at least much more sophisticated than the other sorts of creation myths.

When it comes down to it, though, I hope you're right - since that would mean that all we've got to do is work harder at educating people. My more cynical approach is one with far less light at the end of its tunnel.

Education can only do so much, I guess the reward system of religion is one that is hard to beat. If you are promised an afterlife with an alleviation of suffering and all you have to do in return is reject the notion that species evolved over billions of years, I could see why people would reject science. God saves and it's heresy to question that.

SLoT? I'm not familiar with that term - I must have missed something. What's it refer to?

Second Law of Thermodynamics, entropy in the universe.

Dextrose @ 93:

Did you actually read that stuff written by Warren? Do you not see that it is drivel that has no meaning whatsoever?

It is all double talk and obfuscation. There is not one fact in there, not one piece of evidence, not one substantial philosophical argument that has logic or critical thinking.

There is more information on a bottle of Heinz Ketchup than in what Warren wrote.

By NewEnglandBob (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

eric wrote:

Joe, when you're talking about modern translations of ancient texts written in complex languages with diverse manuscript traditions, a dissertation can be (and often is) written on a single verse.

Obviously, when your omnimax creator being is handing out the instruction manual for how to inform you exactly how to live your life in such a way that you'll avoid eternal torment he's not going to do it in such a way that anyone can understand it without the aid of at least 17,000 pages of explanations*.

Are you trying to put all those apologists out of work? You heartless bastard!

*By which I mean endless circular arguments that don't explain anything at all but might make you stop asking the sort questions religious people don't like being asked.

By Wowbagger (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

Kel, let me get this straight: you're arguing that there aren't any narrow minded people who either reject evolution because of the bible, or who reject the bible because of evolution? If that's your contention, then you need to get out more -- I've met plenty of both.

Now, sure, some people don't reject evolution only because of the bible, and some don't reject the bible only because of evolution, but that isn't whom I was referring to. I was explicitly referring to the people who say, "Either the bible or evolution."

It appears that the only straw man is the one you just knocked down when you misrepresented my point.

I came to the conclusion, through my study of the Bible and science,....

I seriously would like to know what "science" he was looking at that allowed him to come to this conclusion. Could we have a list of science books that he actually read.

It makes me laugh, well cry when i read that someone has used "science" to come to a conclusion that god exists. when someone says that, you can assume that they're lying what they're really saying is science is hard and i don't understand it, therefore god exists.

How this type of person is in a position of power and influence is a disgrace.

Wowbagger, a few points.

First, there are *plenty* of secular scholars who conduct such studies of biblical (and related) texts.

Second, no theologically informed Christian thinks about the Bible as 'an instruction manual' of *any* sort.

Third, the question I was responding to was one of what the texts *mean*, which can be studied entirely independently of any theological suppositions (e.g. see point one; that aside, see how many scholars come to change their theological positions *as a result* of complex exegesis).

but it is at least much more sophisticated than the other sorts of creation myths.

Bullshit it's more sophisticated, it posits that man was handcrafted by clay and that woman is made out of a spare rib. If you are going to take the "in the beginning" as a validation of the big bang, are you going to take the earth as being the beginning of the universe? The bible is dead wrong in the two chapters, and it still offers no insight at all into reality.Hinduism is much older than the jewish myth and offers a much more plausible and in-tune story of creation. That the god Brahman became the universe and the universe will grow and shrink in cycles. Now this sounds much more like big bang theory than anything in genesis. And this myth is now around 6000 years old, about twice as old as the Jewish creation myth and is still the only story of creation and version of a deity that fits in with our reality.

Now, sure, the biblical version could've been 'made up' at the time (i.e. we can conceive of ancient people coming up with such a story), but it is at least much more sophisticated than the other sorts of creation myths.

Of course it's made up.

And as for "sophisticated"; good grief, a God mucking about with water and earth and mud is "sophisticated"?

You know what would have been sophisticated? A story that described the earth and the universe in simple yet detailed terms that would be in accord with what was later discovered empirically.

By Owlmirror (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

Kel, thank you for providing me with another example of a narrow minded premise that 'fundamentalists' on both sides of the debate begin with: "Either the bible is to be read literally in toto, or it's to be rejected in toto."

"You know what would have been sophisticated? A story that described the earth and the universe in simple yet detailed terms that would be in accord with what was later discovered empirically."

This is like calling Shakespeare unsophisticated because he didn't provide us with any details about Hamlet's indecision in terms of neurological functions that the Churchlands would accept.

This is like calling Shakespeare unsophisticated because he didn't provide us with any details about Hamlet's indecision in terms of neurological functions that the Churchlands would accept.

False analogy. Newsflash: Shakespeare was not God, and was not attributed with omniscience.

By Owlmirror (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

eric, one point.

I was being facetious. Sheesh.

By Wowbagger (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

Second, no theologically informed Christian thinks about the Bible as 'an instruction manual' of *any* sort.

Your Bible is 100% pure bullshit.

Theologically informed = informed about nothing.

eric, if you think your Bible is worth more than a piece of shit, you're a moron.

Warren and his fellow Evangelist Hucksters are always an exposé away from a mortifying confession in front of a MegaChurch pulpit. Remember when Swaggart told his congregation, after his second revealed offense, that it was none of their business if he preferred to look an ugly hooker's pudenda rather than his wife's. Antigay Haggard was busted by his male escort and is the subject of a new documentary. Sexual scandals, racism, fraud and embezzlement all part and parcel of the pulpit that denounces such behavior as evil and sinful. Universally beloved Billy Graham's rabid anti-semitism has been recorded for posterity on the Nixon tapes. Brotherly love, my ass.

There are scores of the grace-fallen, and usually the evangelical sheep turn the other cheek - unless it's a gay scandal. It's the biggest taboo, even more than murder or attempted murder. (Walker Railey, anyone?)
So if you wait long enough, your schadenfreude will be rewarded.

Good grief, eric, put down your false equivalencies club. It's really quite unattractive to state that two opposing side are equally wrong, with an ugly, smug, self-serving implication that the middle is the only "sensible" solution.
There's a difference between fact and opinion. Or as we like to say around here, "Everyone's entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts." The problem for religion is that it doesn't have facts. It has a lot of opinions. And science is the opposite.

Acting as if opinion remotely carries the same validity of opinion is, quite frankly, moronic. Anyone who thinks there's a possibility of a middle of the road solution giving unequal sides equal merit make me think of that saying by Jim Hightower: "There's nothing in the middle of the road but yellow stripes and dead armadillos."

Owlmirror, you missed the point(s), the first of which is about what an author means to convey, or how a text should be reasonably read. So, anyone looking at the bible as a science text is going to be as disappointed as someone looking at Hamlet for information on neurology. However, this brings us to the second point: it doesn't follow from the fact that if a text fails to provide what it never intended to that it's therefore unsophisticated with respect just what the authors are trying to convey (which may be obliquely related to what you're looking for).

Kel, thank you for providing me with another example of a narrow minded premise that 'fundamentalists' on both sides of the debate begin with: "Either the bible is to be read literally in toto, or it's to be rejected in toto."

Fuck you for misinterpreting me. It's not to be rejected outright, I'm saying there is nothing in there that could only be explained by a divine influence. Show me something in there that can only be explained by divine influence, I'm calling it the work of men - a mythology comparable to any other religion. That's not a bad thing, there's much to be learnt from those texts. I'm just saying that the bible is no better than greek mythology in terms of having a theistic influence.You can say something profound without being of divine origin, I'm saying there's no reason to assume from anything written in the bible that it is divine. Bloated, contradictory, poorly written. What is in the bible that is redeemable?

The Bible's picture is that dinosaurs and man lived together on the earth, an earth that was filled with vegetation and beauty...man and dinosaurs lived at the same time...From the very beginning of creation, God gave man dominion over all that was made, even over the dinosaurs.

This statement should have been immediately followed with:

Now, since we know from multiple lines of evidence that none of the above is true, I guess I'm going to have to find a real job.

This is like calling Shakespeare unsophisticated because he didn't provide us with any details about Hamlet's indecision in terms of neurological functions that the Churchlands would accept.

If shakespeare tried to describe reality and failed, I wouldn't call shakespeare a god.

Wowbagger - It's christmas... so I'm just gonna shashay up to you and give your bottom a pinch.
You smart alec!

By Patricia, OM (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

eric wrote:

Second, no theologically informed Christian thinks about the Bible as 'an instruction manual' of *any* sort.

Two questions:

One - if the bible isn't, as you say, an 'instruction manual' of *any* sort, why are anti-gay-marriage Christians constantly referring to it as an authority on the issue? Why are court-battles being fought over statues to the ten commandments on government property?

Two - what do you think is the proportion of theologically informed to theologically ignorant Christians?

By Wowbagger (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

Wowbagger, sorry! I thought you were being serious.

Aquaria, if you think that the propositions "The bible is to be read literally in toto, or rejected in toto" and "It's either evolution or the bible" do not, in both cases, present false alternatives, then you simply have no idea what you're talking about.

BobC, if you had at least a modicum of education, you'd realize how blatantly absurd it is to say that anyone who thinks 'the bible is worth more than a piece of shit' is a moron. Try understanding Western history, philosophy, art, music, literature, poetry, architecture, or even *science* without knowing a thing about the bible. You're a perfectly exemplify the sort of narrow minded buffoon I was referring to earlier. Thanks for the simple, convenient real-world illustration.

Owlmirror, you missed the point(s), the first of which is about what an author means to convey, or how a text should be reasonably read. So, anyone looking at the bible as a science text is going to be as disappointed as someone looking at Hamlet for information on neurology.

That's only true if the writers of Genesis were as ignorant of science as Shakespeare was of neurology.

So it looks like you are indeed saying that there is no science in Genesis, which is exactly what atheists say in the first place.

However, this brings us to the second point: it doesn't follow from the fact that if a text fails to provide what it never intended to that it's therefore unsophisticated with respect just what the authors are trying to convey (which may be obliquely related to what you're looking for).

Since there is no science in Genesis, then what the text conveys is something that is, however you might want to spin it, not true.

By Owlmirror (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

The bible is to be read literally, it is to be believed wholly, every word is correct and without error.

Genesis 1 is correct. Genesis 2 is correct. Unicorns and dragons are real.

Owlmirror rarely misses a point eric. You are a dip shit.

By Patricia, OM (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

Wowbagger, for the same reasons some people foolishly tried to use the authority of science to promote racism -- give bigots anything to get a hold of to support their position, especially something that has a lot of cachet, and they'll grab onto it.

And of course there are far more theologically uninformed Christians than there are theologically infromed ones, just as there are far more scientifically ignorant atheists than there are scientifically informed ones.

eric,

There are many religious texts that describe creation stories, morals, deities, etc. Why should we hold the Bible to be held in greater regard than the Poetic Edda, Ramayana, the Koran, etc.?

By Feynmaniac (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

I actually see this as a very savvy political move, something which Obama is certainly not new to. This is a highly symbolic gesture; nothing about it suggests that Obama will pursue creationist curriculum or imposing stricter limits on homosexual freedom. The amount of political "capital" he will gain from this with those on the other side far outweighs what they are getting for it: a symbol. Thankfully that's all the credulous require to be silenced.

I miss your point eric?

There is no error in the scriptures.
Mark 16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

By Patricia, OM (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

"And of course there are far more theologically uninformed Christians than there are theologically infromed ones"

One more time, eric. Theology = nothing. All theologians in history are worth less than one garbage man. To be theologically informed is to be informed about bullshit.

Feynmaniac, it depends on what you mean by 'greater regard.' If you only mean, 'Why should we regard it as more important than the Koran, etc.' then I think the answer is obvious: if you're a Westerner, you should hold it in greater regard because it informs every aspect of your culture. However, if you mean how can we say that it is in some sense closer to the truth than the others, then I certainly couldn't do that argument justice in a blog post. For example, Christian theology begins with abstract philosophical arguments that demonstrate the rationality of believing in a certain kind of god, move on to historical arguments for Christianity in particular, and finish by showing how none of what has previously been argued for is contradicted by what we do know (e.g. through science, philosophy, history, etc.).

"Christian theology begins with abstract philosophical arguments"

No, Christian theology begins with bullshit. It's all shit, eric. Why don't you grow up?

And of course there are far more theologically uninformed Christians than there are theologically infromed ones, just as there are far more scientifically ignorant atheists than there are scientifically informed ones.

The problem with that, eric, is the fundamental difference between Christianity (or any other belief system) and atheism. A person doesn't need to know anything or believe anything to be an atheist; they simply need to lack belief in god/s. Otherwise a person, by default, retains belief in every god there's ever been.

Science can often have nothing to do with it - something to which I can attest since I was raised without religion and was therefore an atheist well before I'd ever heard the word 'science'.

Christianity, on the other hand, requires one to believe in something - and to believe in something you first have to have an idea of what it is.

You can't compare the two.

By Wowbagger (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

"One more time, eric. Theology = nothing. All theologians in history are worth less than one garbage man."

Right. And how many, exactly, have you read? (Quick, google some names, get some wiki quotes, and get back to me).

Why do you insist on speaking about a subject you so obviously know nothing about?

For example, Christian theology begins with abstract philosophical arguments that demonstrate the rationality of believing in a certain kind of god

Which are either (a) fallacious and/or (b) Deistic at best.

move on to historical arguments for Christianity in particular

Which are entirely fallacious.

and finish by showing how none of what has previously been argued for is contradicted by what we do know (e.g. through science, philosophy, history, etc.).

Except, of course, when it is thereby contradicted.

By Owlmirror (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

"Why do you insist on speaking about a subject you so obviously know nothing about?"

What's there to know, eric? Your magic fairy doesn't exist. Your Christian religion was invented by idiots, people who were as insane as you are.

You're a fucking idiot, eric. There's no magic in the universe. Stop acting like a 3 year old who believes in the Easter Bunny.

Wowbagger, of course you can compare the two. A person can be an atheist for no reason, for bad reasons, for good reasons, or for some combination of good and bad reasons. Its the same with being a Christian, a Muslim, etc.

"No, Christian theology begins with bullshit. It's all shit, eric. Why don't you grow up?"

I'll tell you what: when you finally pass the eighth grade (how many times have you tried so far?) and make it into high school, we'll talk about my growing up. Sound fair?

Isn't it nice of Obama to grant this clown a prominent place on the national stage?
*************
What worries me more is that he said during the primary that he wanted to increase funding to "Faith Based Organization." Just what we need is more money for anti-science Homophobes and Misogynists.

Eric, you fucking asshole, give me evidence for your invisible friend. Tell me why your magic fairy is more likely to exist than a magic bunny rabbit. You Christian retards are all the same, you think your knowledge about nothing is worth something. Grow up shithead.

Wowbagger - Do you believe there are more biblically ignorant christians than bible knownin', bible thumpin' christians?
That's just naughty!
Jesus loves me, this I know, cause the bible tells me so.
See.
President Bush believes it too.

By Patricia, OM (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

Okay, I think that Owlmirror already dealt with this effectively, but I think it bears repeating.

you said:

Owlmirror, you missed the point(s), the first of which is about what an author means to convey, or how a text should be reasonably read. So, anyone looking at the bible as a science text is going to be as disappointed as someone looking at Hamlet for information on neurology.

Which is all fine and well, except that you presumably believe that the main character in this text is real, and lets be honest, your only source for this assumption is....the book you just said is unqualified to inform us on science.(which is what we use to quantify and explain reality).

So yes, the bible may very well be simply a literary treasure(though I certainly never cared for it), akin to a novel, with no information pertaining to reality at all. But then you cant use it to claim the main character of the story really exists.

By Matt, Sexual J… (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

Come on eric, can you show one thing that has been learnt from theology that shows the disciple is anything more than middle-earth scholarship? Can you show one thing in the bible that could not have been written without divine influence? What is there about the bible that separates it from any of the sacred texts of other religions? Come on, anything on these fronts would do.

Owlmirror, intelligent people can of course disagree about the strength of the arguments (on all levels), but at least by the time they get to that point, they're engaged in a discussion in which it is taken for granted that arguments and evidence are the standards according to which the conclusions are to be evaluated. In other words, just by getting to this point you've conceded that much of what the 'closed minded' types I was referring to earlier (which, I'll say it again, doesn't include everybody) is false.

Why do you insist on speaking about a subject you so obviously know nothing about?

eric, I suspect BobC's point is that, no matter how long a tradition has lasted, how many books have been written on the subject, how much rationalising has been done to support the belief, how strongly people feel about it, or how socially impactful a belief system might have been, when it's based on nothing more than the scientifically illiterate, pseudohistorical folk tales concocted by bronze-age goatherders to try and make sense of a world they didn't understand, and codify morals and ethics they could't establish a more sophisticated reason for having, there's no reason for us to take them as anything more than the result of years of misguided thinking.

Sorry for the long sentence. Too much Proust before bedtime.

By Wowbagger (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

Still waiting for your evidence for your fairy, eric. Come on shithead, let's have it.

I'm going to take BobC's side on this, just what is it about the bible that demands a look beyond any other mythological text? Surely that question is one that not only deserves to be addressed but needs to be addressed. What makes a Christian theologian any more credible in opinion than a muslim theologian, or a hindu theologian, or a Jain theologian, or an ancient greek theologian?

I disagree that Christianity was created by idiots. Far from it. The original manufacturers of the religion had a deep understanding of the many other faiths around them at the time and stole most of the best bits for themselves. Much of xtian mythology traces to much earlier believes. For instance some versions of the Bacchus myths involved him having been crucified and reborn, also the Bacchinal included the tradition of eating the flesh and drinking the blood, they just took it somewhat more literally.

Just because many of the people involved since have been stupid doesn't mean those origanators, about 17-18 centuries ago were.

By Gold Dragon 1968 (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

eric,

I meant the latter case. Apologies if I wasn't clear.

For example, Christian theology begins with abstract philosophical arguments that demonstrate the rationality of believing in a certain kind of god

The problem with "abstract philosophical arguments" is your making a claim about the universe. You need empirical evidence to show your arguments are consistent with reality.

move on to historical arguments for Christianity in particular

What historical arguments are speaking about? All the ones I've seen were of the form "there existed a man named Jesus....". Well, there existed a king named Macbeth that doesn't mean the play with the same name can be considered a historically accurate. Plus there are many stories of supernatural occurrences based on real places and real people. They are usually taken as myths. Why should the Jesus story not be considered one?

finish by showing how none of what has previously been argued for is contradicted by what we do know (e.g. through science, philosophy, history, etc.).

The problem here is that frequently things are taken to be literal until there's a contradiction and then it's taken to be metaphor or simply forgotten. There was a reason the Catholic church opposed Galileo. Psalm 93:1, Psalm 96:10, and I Chronicles 16:30 state that "the world is firmly established, it cannot be moved." The same thing with the Genesis story. Using this method of "literal until proven wrong" can work with any texts.

By Feynmaniac (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

eric, you are an idiot. You have leaped into the pool without looking for fins.

We eat children like you for light snacks.

It's christmas - we atheists are busy roasting toddlers and drinking the blood of babies. We have very little time between the gluttony and orgies to mess about with you.

By Patricia, OM (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

In other words, just by getting to this point you've conceded that much of what the 'closed minded' types I was referring to earlier (which, I'll say it again, doesn't include everybody) is false.

Well, since you conceded that Genesis is false, I am not even sure what you think the argument is.

By Owlmirror (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

1: Theologically ignorant Christian-Believes in god, thinks bible is moral instruction booklet.

Source of authority---->Bible

2: High minded theologian, given to deep thought about these matters-Believes in a much more sophisticated, realistic deity, and that the bible has to be interpreted(a lot) to make it mean what it really meant to mean.

Source of authority-->Theologian 1--->Theologian 2--->Theologian 3---.....---->Theologian n-1----Theologian n --->Bible

In either case, if the ultimate source of the myth is false, the entire premise is gone. Lets face it, no matter how much fan fiction is written about star wars, the source material is no more true. When we accept that the original story has no basis in fact, no amount of 'interpretation' can make it correspond to reality.

By Matt, Sexual J… (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

I think eric just wants us to concede that there are people who can take a point of view of intelligent theism, and that you shouldn't throw the baby out with the bathwater. That statement is all well and good except he is picking and choosing what elements of the bible to take literally and what to take metaphorically without so much as a justification of why any of it should be held in any more regard than the previous religious mythology that has fallen by the wayside.BobC may take an entirely antagonistic view, but the way he presents his argument should not detract from the point he's trying to make. And to me the point is that there's no holy book that really is holy, that those who take it has holy misrepresent both the way the books were written and what the content was meant to do. To take the books as insight into the divine demands a rationalisation of why any content is indeed divine, and that rationalisation cannot apply to any other sacred text.

Since it is late, and I see many typos creeping into my posts, I'll end with a short answer -- a reference -- to the question of what 'theology' has ever contributed. See Rodney Stark's "The Victory of Reason," which traces much of the progress of the West to the fact that it is in the West that theology proper (understood as 'formal reasoning about god') began, and why there were no ancient Greek, Jain, or Hindu 'theologians' (keep in mind the reference to *formal* reasoning about god, which means strictly logical reasoning; you don't see this in the East, and you don't see it among the ancient Greeks, though you do see something of it in Islam; there is a big difference, however, between how theology among Christians and Muslims is done, since Muslims necessarily begin with the premise that the Qu'ran was dictated from god, while most Christian theologians take factors like the sitz im leben into account when thinking about their scriptures).

Now I know that some of you will just read the Amazon review for the book that gave it the fewest stars and form a conclusion from there (or do something similar; I've seen it done too many times), but if that's how you proceed in these matters, there's little to gain from continuing the discussion.

Wowbagger, of course you can compare the two. A person can be an atheist for no reason, for bad reasons, for good reasons, or for some combination of good and bad reasons. Its the same with being a Christian, a Muslim, etc.

Er, no. As I said, a person can be an atheist without knowing anything. The same cannot be said for a christian, or a muslim - any other religion for that matter. Religions must be taught; atheism need not be.

Or do you recall, prior to your birth, choosing the geographic and/or sociocultural specifics of the family you were to be born to?

A christian can become a muslim if they encounter christianity and embrace it; the converse can also occur - well, as long as they don't get caught doing it in one of the countries where that's frowned upon*; otherwise it's a very brief experience - but the adherent of any religion can become atheist without ever even knowing the word for it in the language they speak. All it takes is to not believe in the gods they are aware of - if they're even aware of any.

If you wiped out all christians and all christian texts and there'd be no more christianity. You wipe out all the atheists and all the atheistic texts and within a generation you'd have to do it again - and keep doing it, ad infinitum.

*Of course, by 'frowned upon' I mean 'punishable by a particularly gruesome death'.

By Wowbagger (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

Since it is late, and I see many typos creeping into my posts, I'll end with a short answer -- a reference -- to the question of what 'theology' has ever contributed.

This is where the asshole runs away, without admitting he doesn't have a shred of evidence for his magic fairy and his bullshit theology.

Just remember BobC that people have postulated on the nature of Sauron, what his motivations where and what role he played throughout the history of middle earth. Those middle-earth scholars may have contributed to the understanding of the concepts in the Tolkien universe. Doesn't mean it has any worth outside the scholarship of Tolkien, but yeah. eric needs to show that the concept of God as described in the bible has worth in this universe to begin with before theological musings can contribute to the world knowledge base.

This is where the asshole runs away, without admitting he doesn't have a shred of evidence for his magic fairy and his bullshit theology.

BobC, you're never going to get any kind of response regarding 'evidence' from someone like eric. He's not saying there's any evidence, and his argument doesn't depend on it.

eric, I (for one) won't argue that religion (and, to an extent, theology) hasn't contributed anything. It was an essential aspect of human social development, and the sheer volume of learning and philosophy required to create and maintain complicated theological arguments (like those you have presented) have provided much of the underlying aspects of modern philosophy and culture.

The problem is that none of that makes it true. It certainly doesn't mean we can't admit that we're able to see it for what it is and take away from it those things which have benefited us while abandoning those which are holding humanity back.

Consign the study of religion to where it belongs - history.

By Wowbagger (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

BobC...the way he presents his argument should not detract from the point he's trying to make

Except that it does.

"Your view is shit" is not making a point, except one that suggests that the author of the "point" lacks the skills to be any more coherent.

By spinetingler (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

How long until we start seeing nativity scenes being sold with dino figures included?

Well there are plenty of nativity scenes out there just waiting! Why don't you get yourself some dinosaur figures and go to work?
Yabba-dabba-do!

Randy, have you ever seen the Dawkins documentary "Nice Guys Finish First"? In there he talked about what would happen in a cooperation / defection situation. If people were cooperative unconditionally, then those who are defective would screw over those who are cooperative.

I think I just saw that movie ... but it was called "Yes" and it stared Jim Carry. Actually I am not much into Richard Dawkins.

We can't tolerate the intolerant

Yes we can ... But that doesn't mean we have to leave intolerance unchallenged.

One does not have to be well studied in imaginary fabrics to see the emperor has no clothes, no matter how much a theologian rationalises God it does not make the concept any more real. I see a penis, I say the emperor is naked.

My point was theology is a bunch of words about nothing. My other point was if somebody claims a theologian has any value, he's nuts.

Actually I am not much into Richard Dawkins.

What a surprise there! An atheist biologist who actually understand how evolution works... would be worried if you actually did like his writings.

Change we can believe in.

The evidence for magic is in the bible BobC.

Mark 16:17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;

18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.

By Patricia, OM (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

See Rodney Stark's "The Victory of Reason," which traces much of the progress of the West to the fact that it is in the West that theology proper (understood as 'formal reasoning about god') began...
keep in mind the reference to *formal* reasoning about god, which means strictly logical reasoning; you don't see this in the East, and you don't see it among the ancient Greeks

Are you being serious?

Now I know that some of you will just read the Amazon review for the book that gave it the fewest stars and form a conclusion from there (or do something similar; I've seen it done too many times), but if that's how you proceed in these matters, there's little to gain from continuing the discussion.

Why read Amazon reviews when we have scienceblogs? Rodney Stark's idiotic history

But what does that guy know, he's only a historian of science.

I still see the glass as being more than half full.

Steven Chu won't "leave the stage" after 5 minutes.

Maybe this POV makes me a hopeless optimist, but I don't think it does. Man, I just haven't seen the celebration this choice is clearly due.

See Rodney Stark's "The Victory of Reason," which traces much of the progress of the West to the fact that it is in the West that theology proper (understood as 'formal reasoning about god') began, and why there were no ancient Greek, Jain, or Hindu 'theologians' (keep in mind the reference to *formal* reasoning about god, which means strictly logical reasoning; you don't see this in the East, and you don't see it among the ancient Greeks, though you do see something of it in Islam; there is a big difference, however, between how theology among Christians and Muslims is done, since Muslims necessarily begin with the premise that the Qu'ran was dictated from god, while most Christian theologians take factors like the sitz im leben into account when thinking about their scriptures).

Your description of Rodney Stark's book certainly makes it sound like he is lying by omission. Christian theologians borrowed from Muslim, Jewish, and pre-Christian Greek, Roman, and Persian philosophers. To say that those, and the similar philosophers in the far East, such as the Carvaka, the more analytical of the Buddhist sutras, the naturalistic Confucianism of Hsun Tzu (and so on and so forth; I'm just glancing through my reference here) are not formal reasoning is special pleading at its worst.

I also note the distortion you give of Muslim philosophy. Not all Muslims were (or are) fundamentalists of the Salafi (or similar) school, any more than all Christians are the fundamentalists you condemn.

What reason is there to consult a work whose author arrogantly uses such fallacious reasoning, distortion, and lying by omission?

By Owlmirror (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

Consign the study of religion to where it belongs - history.

Considering it's often-malign influence on current events, that seems ill-advised.

By spinetingler (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

I'm always amazed how similar YECs and many atheists are - absolutely certain that Genesis should be scientific, and that their interpretation is the most natural one. And, more often than not, this is based on a very street-level approach to the text - as if a manuscript written that long ago to an audience with a culture so far removed from our own can be read "off the shelf" - no interpretation required.

And, if Bob's ranting is any indication, their counterarguments to those presenting a more nuanced view is "your view is crap."

La plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose, non?

Mark 16:17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;

18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.

Patricia, I just don't think you're grasping the sitz im leben of those verses. If you studied Aquinas, Augustine, and Pascal, you might understand it a little better.

Sorry. I'll stop channeling Eric now.

By Matt, Sexual J… (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

Sorry PZ, you lost me at Rick Warren Thinks, guess i have no imagination.
/obvious joke

"Consign the study of religion to where it belongs - history."

The only problem with that is what we learn from history- that is, we don't learn from it at all.

Since I've seen no one say it yet...

Rick Warren may be a dumbass evangelical moron (and his views on evolution and homosexuality clearly show that), but I think people aren't realizing what Obama is trying to do here.

When he was campaigning all he did was talk about how he would reach "across the aisle" and work with conservatives. Giving Warren the invocation is kinda a gesture towards conservative evangelicals.

Of course, I don't think there should be an invocation, or a swearing in on a bible. But given the political climate I can understand why Obama did it. Really, working with the other side doesn't mean you are supporting their views. Perhaps he should have chosen a less.... moronic moron to do the chant.

gabriel, please tell me why "a more nuanced view" of fiction would be better than any other view of fiction?

See Rodney Stark's "The Victory of Reason," which traces much of the progress of the West to the fact that it is in the West that theology proper....began

As the West progressed theology became less and less important. During medieval times it reigned. In the Enlightenment it became less important and in modern times it's basically become the black sheep of university departments.

Even if theology played an important role, then so what? That doesn't mean it's true. Alchemy paved the way for chemistry and astrology helped the development of astronomy.

there were no ancient Greek, Jain, or Hindu 'theologians' (keep in mind the reference to *formal* reasoning about god, which means strictly logical reasoning....)

The ancient Greeks certainly used logical reasoning when talking about god. The Epicurean paradox is an example. Also, many theologians were inspired by Aristotle, who certainly tried to reason about God through logic. As for Jainism and Hinduism, I find this claim hard to believe. Please provide a source.

By Feynmaniac (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

"I'm always amazed how similar YECs and many atheists are - absolutely certain that Genesis should be scientific, and that their interpretation is the most natural one."-Gabriel

"Wrong, sir, wrong!"- Willy Wonka

It is archetypal, duh; besides, we all know it to be a bunch of borrowed stories from persian and Canaanite religions of the era.

And why isn't it natural to read things literally? Even in fiction, you read events as literal. Recongnise that it's fiction, but don't doubt the coherance of the story simply because it isn't realistic. Like how the journey to Mt. Doom is a literal event in fiction. Sorry man.

I'm always amazed how similar YECs and many atheists are - absolutely certain that Genesis should be scientific, and that their interpretation is the most natural one. And, more often than not, this is based on a very street-level approach to the text - as if a manuscript written that long ago to an audience with a culture so far removed from our own can be read "off the shelf" - no interpretation required.

The argument is not whether Genesis is scientific, it's whether it is anything more than another mythology story of an ignorant population. The fact that it's wrong on the history of the planet doesn't matter, it's the fact that it's a poorly written justification of human behaviour that precludes it from being anything more than the ignorant musings of a tribe who put the weather into the hands of the supernatural.Way to miss the point and create a straw-man attack on atheists. God existing doesn't rest on evolution, it rests on the absurdity of the concept.

My point was theology is a bunch of words about nothing. My other point was if somebody claims a theologian has any value, he's nuts.

Yeah, but just because something is about nothing doesn't mean that it has to be worthless. If nothing else, the sophistry with which theologians attempt to justify their evidence-free belief system provide a fascinating insight into human psychology - well, if you like that sort of thing (which I do).

Plus, if you ever want to learn about how to use sophistry, rhetoric and other, similar weaseling skills there's no better place than at the feet of a religious apologist. These guys make that Michael 'Lord of the Dance' Flatley look like an amateur when it comes to tapdancing.

So there's value in it, even if it's just tangential. But for providing any justification for belief in the existence of gods - not one iota.

By Wowbagger (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

I'm always amazed how similar YECs and many atheists are - absolutely certain that Genesis should be scientific, and that their interpretation is the most natural one.

Either Genesis is intended to be a true description of the world, or it isn't.

If it isn't so intended, then it's fiction. Atheists would have no problem with Genesis being taught as fiction.

If it is intended to be a true description of the world, it is provably false, and is thus a lie. That also means the atheists are correct. Atheists would have no problem with Genesis being taught as a disproved model of reality, just like any other false model.

What other possibilities are there? Is there something between false intent, or true intent falsified, that I have missed?

By Owlmirror (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

gabriel wrote: this is based on a very street-level approach to the text - as if a manuscript written that long ago to an audience with a culture so far removed from our own can be read "off the shelf" - no interpretation required.

Just think how lucky we are, in this modern age, to have so many self appointed interpreters willing to explain the Divine Word to us (and don't the do well for themselves in the process). And how did they come by this secret knowledge, one wonders. By revelation, perhaps? Or, more likely, by invention.

Bob, with all due respect, how do you know it's a fiction (whatever that means for a text like Genesis, anyway)? Most likely your answer will be "because we know it didn't happen that way scientifically" - in which case we're back to my original point, aren't we?

Hi gabriel. Are you eric? Your post looks strangely similar to his first post. If not, maybe we can refer you to his failure and subsequent flight, at post #167. Because I have the weirdest feeling I'm going to be reading the same stuff over again.

La plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose, non?

That's cute. Really though, if you want to go up and read the argument that was just made for Eric's benefit, maybe we can save some time on this.

By Matt, Sexual J… (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

gabriel, what makes the bible any different from any other ancient or modern mythology? What part of the story cannot be attributed to mortal men?

MelM, #69:

Personally, I'm not at all happy that the New Atheism has failed to come straight out and say Faith is a vice!

How about Faith Is A Hole In Your Brain ?

gabriel,

I'm always amazed how similar YECs and many atheists are - absolutely certain that Genesis should be scientific, and that their interpretation is the most natural one. And, more often than not, this is based on a very street-level approach to the text - as if a manuscript written that long ago to an audience with a culture so far removed from our own can be read "off the shelf" - no interpretation required.

You'll find atheist tend to know the bible better than creationist and even liberal Christians. I don't think anyone here thinks that the bible can read with no interpretation. You could just as well say the same thing about any other old holy text, for example the Koran, the Upanishads, the Poetic Edda, etc. Why aren't you arguing that those texts shouldn't be regarded divinely inspired?

And, if Bob's ranting is any indication, their counterarguments to those presenting a more nuanced view is "your view is crap."

BobC doesn't speak for everyone here. In fact, many here have called for him to be banned.

La plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose, non?

It's: Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose, non?

By Feynmaniac (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

gabriel, the point is if some of the bible is allegorical, then how are we to know that all of it isn't? Which parts are we supposed to take literally and which can we safely ignore? If there was only one 'truth', why are there different sects of not only Judaism but Christianity (38,000 is the number that tends to get thrown around)?

By Wowbagger (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

gabriel: "how do you know it's a fiction (whatever that means for a text like Genesis, anyway)? Most likely your answer will be 'because we know it didn't happen that way scientifically' - in which case we're back to my original point, aren't we?"

Any (unbrainwashed) child could figure out Genesis is a made up story. Are you suggesting the magic fairy of Genesis might be real? Do you also believe in the Easter Bunny?

gabriel #195

Bob, with all due respect, how do you know it's a fiction (whatever that means for a text like Genesis, anyway)? Most likely your answer will be "because we know it didn't happen that way scientifically" - in which case we're back to my original point, aren't we?

So what was your original point then? That you can ignore parts that are obviously wrong and take up the reigns of untestable parts instead, and claim you have a 'nuanced' understanding? That you can pick and choose the parts you like and pretend the inconvenient parts don't matter?

If it is intended to be a true description of the world, it is provably false, and is thus a lie. That also means the atheists are correct. Atheists would have no problem with Genesis being taught as a disproved model of reality, just like any other false model.
What other possibilities are there? Is there something between false intent, or true intent falsified, that I have missed?

Uh, how about a genre so far removed from modern experience that it takes a bit of work to get into the skin of those who wrote it? I'm not talking about anything "spooky" here - just the basic scholarship one would have to do for any ancient near-eastern text. You seem to have decided "it's false" based on very modern categories - which is as much a category mistake for the Enuma elish as much as for Genesis.

For the record, no, I'm not eric.

Copying and pasting from windy's link @#180 (thanks windy!)

[citing Rodney Stark:] The ancient Greeks achieved, in the end, only "nonempirical, even antiempirical, speculative philosophies; atheoretical collections of facts; and isolated crafts and technologies--never breaking through to real science. (P. 18.)

This statement is historical twaddle of the highest order. Usually people make the mistake of over emphasising the achievements of Greek science and attributing them with more than they deserve but Stark goes to the other extreme with a vengeance. I will just list a small number of Greek empirical, theoretical real scientists; Aristotle, Eudoxos, Galen, Euclid, Ptolemaeus, Hero, Archimedes... I am sure that regular readers of this blog can continue the list for themselves.

I knew Stark was full of shit; I didn't realize quite how much.

I should read Wilkins' blog more often...

By Owlmirror (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

What reason is there to consult a work whose author arrogantly uses such fallacious reasoning, distortion, and lying by omission?

eric is rapidly approaching Neil B-like levels of unwarranted smugness and delusions of superiority.

BobC doesn't speak for everyone here. In fact, many here have called for him to be banned.

Feynmaniac, what's your problem? Why do you think I should be a wimp like you?

BobC,

Feynmaniac, what's your problem?

My problem with you is that you have advocated every man, woman and child in Iraq to be killed for 9/11.

By Feynmaniac (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

Uh, how about a genre so far removed from modern experience that it takes a bit of work to get into the skin of those who wrote it?

It's like, far out, man....

Honestly, what are you even trying to say here? Was the account given in Genesis fiction, or a failed attempt at describing the world?

You seem to have decided "it's false" based on very modern categories

What is a modern category of falsehood, and how is it different from an ancient one?

And please be honest, did you just make up that explanation right now? Because it reeks of being pulled from someone's nether regions.

By Matt, Sexual J… (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

gabriel wrote: with all due respect, how do you know it's a fiction (whatever that means for a text like Genesis, anyway)?

It means the same thing that it does for any other body of written words. If it's not fiction then there has to be some evidence that it is non-fiction. Can you point to even the tiniest bit of evidence that anything in the Bible is non-fiction? If not, then it has to be considered fiction.

To take BobC as that simplistic seems an easy way to dismiss the point he's making without actually trying to reason why it's wrong. I really don't think many people here see the bible as anything more than yet another mythology, but to take the way he dismisses it as simplistic and not well thought out looks like an ad hominem attack. "the bible is crap" and "the bible was a socially-constructed human-edited volume" aren't really that separate in content, only in presentation.

"Feynmaniac, what's your problem? Why do you think I should be a wimp like you?"

OH FUCK, not this again! Why do you go out of your way to prove his point? UGH.

ok, there are a lot of people responding to me, so I might not respond to everything, sorry.

That you can ignore parts that are obviously wrong and take up the reigns of untestable parts instead, and claim you have a 'nuanced' understanding? That you can pick and choose the parts you like and pretend the inconvenient parts don't matter?

My point is, mainly, that you are deciding that "parts are obviously wrong" based on your read of what you think a text like Genesis should say based on modern understanding. Once you relax and just let Genesis be what it is, an ancient near-east creation story, are you so sure you know what bits are "wrong?" Do you know how Genesis is interacting with other ANE stories? etc.

gabriel, the point is if some of the bible is allegorical, then how are we to know that all of it isn't? Which parts are we supposed to take literally and which can we safely ignore?

Seriously, you sound like my YEC friends here (which was one of my points above). You make it sound like the whole Hebrew scriptures are written in the same genre - that's obviously not the case. Your argument might hold if the whole thing was one genre - but it's not; thus a cut-and-dried approach is very simplistic (and again, very like a YEC approach).

The same methods used to examine other ancient texts work just fine on the Hebrew scriptures - textual criticism, redaction criticism, etc. These approaches shed light on what the intent of the original authors was.

Feynmaniac, that's not exactly what I said, and in any case, your love for censorship makes you an asshole.

Uh, how about a genre so far removed from modern experience that it takes a bit of work to get into the skin of those who wrote it?

Meaningless quibble. Either the author did or did not intend to tell a true story. Genre is irrelevant.

I'm not talking about anything "spooky" here - just the basic scholarship one would have to do for any ancient near-eastern text. You seem to have decided "it's false" based on very modern categories - which is as much a category mistake for the Enuma elish as much as for Genesis.

Oh. You mean "myth". Well, myth, too, either describes the real world or it does not (or, I acknowledge, it might have a mixture).

In the case of Genesis, it mostly does not, and thus it is indeed false.

And atheists would have no problem with Genesis being taught as myth.

Are we done yet?

By Owlmirror (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

Gabriel, you are missing the point. What part of the bible is anything more than the ignorant musings of a tribe 2000 years ago? What makes the bible any more of a guide to the divine than any other mythology out there? Just how should we interpret the bible if not literally?

Are we doing that trick again where we pretend to fight with each other and the troll escapes back to his lair with the tracking device we've inserted?

Okay, but it's someone else's turn to slip the microchip in--I'm totally out of those rubber gloves that go up to the elbow.

By Brownian, OM (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

gabriel wrote: These approaches shed light on what the intent of the original authors was.

And do these approaches lead you to the conclusion that this collection of stories that we know as the Bible was not fiction?

regardless of Genre- drama, allegorical childrens' stories, or science fiction -the thing they all have in common is the word fiction. Gabriel, you aren't even answering a simple yes or no question.

Give up.

gabriel wrote:

Uh, how about a genre so far removed from modern experience that it takes a bit of work to get into the skin of those who wrote it? I'm not talking about anything "spooky" here - just the basic scholarship one would have to do for any ancient near-eastern text. You seem to have decided "it's false" based on very modern categories - which is as much a category mistake for the Enuma elish as much as for Genesis.

gabriel, does everyone who wishes to call themselves a Christian possess the requisite scholastic skills to understand it on the level you have described?

If not then the point you've made is useless. Christians are making decisions - for themselves, their children and others - based on their understanding of the bible, which is doesn't even approach the understanding you seem to think it requires. A recent survey found that a disturbing number of them think Sodom was married to Gomorrah. These people do not view the bible through any lenses of subtlety or nuance; what's written down in front of them is what is, as far as they're concerned. And they're the vast majority.

BobC - actually, the story of Genesis on its own could be considered to have happened; only, what it would mean is that, because all the scientific evidence we have proves otherwise, it would mean that the God of the bible is a liar for creating the evidence we found. This, of course, conflicts with later accounts of him being 'kind and loving'. So, to understand why Genesis is a pound of pig-shit in a half-pound bag, one needs the context of some of the rest of the bible.

It's actually quite hilarious that the christians themselves - when they put the bible together - didn't realise that this problem would, hundreds of years later, end up being one of the most significant nails in their ideological coffin.

By Wowbagger (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

What is a modern category of falsehood, and how is it different from an ancient one?
And please be honest, did you just make up that explanation right now? Because it reeks of being pulled from someone's nether regions.

I'm trying to make the point that genre matters (aren't there any literary types around here?). When you pick up a novel, you have certain assumptions of genre. If you don't understand the genre of what you're reading, you're not going to understand the text in front of you.

I'll try illustrate. Did you ever read Orwell's Animal Farm in high school? It's flat out wrong, man- its completely bonkers. Animals don't talk - we have very good scientific evidence that they don't. There has never been a documented case of animals running a collective farm, ever. Obviously, this is a work of complete fantasy that says nothing about reality whatsoever.

Now do you get my point (assuming you've read Animal Farm )? Did you know that it was rejected by an American publisher because they "weren't interested in animal stories? Now, if it's that easy to misunderstand AF (and just put it in front of a teenager today and you'll see what I mean) - do you really think you've got enough of a handle on the ANE context and genre of Genesis to decide if it's "wrong"?

eric,
You have done a lot of talking without really saying anything of substance. Instead, you have chosen to intimidate by sounding is if you understand the true meaning and intent of the scriptures and suggested that most of us are fools, and/or uneducated in the nuances of scriptural interpretation.

Nice try. While you have been yammering about nothing there have been attempts to get you to take the bait and respond with something tangible enough to shoot down. You are indeed a chicken heart and haven't the nerve to commit anything to print that reveals an opinion.

Here asshole. Let's see if this will at least get you to say why you are here and what's your fucking point.

"Posted by: eric | December 25, 2008 11:39 PM
Wowbagger, for the same reasons some people foolishly tried to use the authority of science to promote racism -- give bigots anything to get a hold of to support their position, especially something that has a lot of cachet, and they'll grab onto it."

Just like they grabbed onto the Bible to support racism, sexism, slavery, and genocide? Good thing it is a book that can instill moral behavior if followed, huh.

"Christian theology begins with abstract philosophical arguments that demonstrate the rationality of believing in a certain kind of god"

You don't think we don't know that there was no consistent Christian theology, abstract or not, in at least the first 350 years after Christ supposedly died? Make that "never has been a consistent theology". The gospels are contradictory and portray a series of different figures. The philosophy differs from book to book. Jesus is the Christ, Jesus is the Son of God, no the son of man. He's the creator, no he's a sin sacrifice, no he is left for dead in Mark with no resurrection mentioned (until the interpolation about the snake handling, etc.). Please spare us the nonsense about any consistent thread that runs throughout these many writings by many unknown authors.

"move on to historical arguments for Christianity in particular"

Don't get me started on the lack of any historical mention of a man named Jesus. Even Paul doesn't seem to know that there was a real live Jesus since he spoke only in spiritual terms that were more Gnostic than orthodox. We all know that there is no evidence and you know very well that there should be if he was real.
Something that is this important shouldn't be fucked up so poorly by a God who gives a shit about mankind.

"finish by showing how none of what has previously been argued for is contradicted by what we do know (e.g. through science, philosophy, history, etc.)."

This is complete and utter horse shit. First, you haven't argued for much of anything because you are too scared to commit yourself to anything other than smug vagueness. But science contradicts the shit out of the Bible. Archaeology refutes the shit out of the Bible. Nazareth for one wasn't in existence when Jesus "lived" there. Jericho? King Solomon's temple?
Come on. Almost all of the "historical life" of Jesus was plagiarized from earlier Sun gods. The miracles were borrowed. The sayings were stolen. Not much is left that is original to Christianity.
So, eric, what is it that you intend to do here? I suggest put up or shut up. Your condescension doesn't hide the fact that you have nothing to offer by way of substance. But it might be fun if you at least tried to offer up something other than pseudo intellectual gibberish.

BobC, you're right that's not exactly what you said. This is;

A resident of Afghanistan had something to do with it. His name was Osama bin Laden. The government of that country refused to turn him over to us, so we bombed them. Personally I wish we would have bombed every square inch of that country, killing the entire population, just to teach the rest of the Muslim world it's not nice to fly airplanes into buildings. Then we wouldn't have had to invade them and waste more American lives. A million Muslims are worth less than one American soldier in my opinion. Anyone who disagrees can volunteer to go there and get killed by a suicide bomber.

I'm sorry I suggested that you wanted every person in Iraq killed when in fact you said it about Afghanistan.

By Feynmaniac (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

Feynmaniac, I later suggested other alternatives, and my main concern was saving the lives of American soldiers.

Even if I suggested axe murderers are nice people, your idea that I should be censored makes you a fucking asshole.

@gabriel:

"Once you relax and just let Genesis be what it is, an ancient near-east creation story, are you so sure you know what bits are "wrong?""

The most obvious DEAD WRONG part of Genesis is the claim that on the fifth day of creation, god created sea creatures and birds. On the sixth day, he created land creatures and human beings (we aren't land creatures?). We know as a scientific fact that land creatures appear in the fossil record long before we see any birds or creatures that fly or glide. That's just plain wrong no matter what "context" you use.

I'm still not sure why an all powerful and all knowing god would need to create the entire universe over the course of 6 days, and not all at once (as you would expect from something "all powerful"). And I also wasn't aware that all powerful and all knowing gods needed to "rest".

Gabriel, I answered your statement about Genre. Don't even go there with the "Message is still true" bull.
---------+-------
Now i turn it over to David Marjanović, OM:

Here goes. The originals, which I've stitched together and slightly modified, are in this thread from March[ http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/03/miseducation_by_the_creation… ], comments 325, 329 and 340 (though you should read the rest of the thread anyway... :^) ).

============================================================

First of all, there are insane amounts of contradictions in the Bible, but most of them can simply be brushed aside by believers. For example, this contradiction won't make anyone lose sleep, except maybe people who try very hard to be literalists: (emphasis added)

-2 Samuel 6:6
-And when they came to Nachon's threshingfloor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah, and God smote him.

-1 Chronicles 13:9
-And when they came unto the threshingfloor of Childon, Uzza put forth his hand to hold the ark, for the oxen stumbled. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzza, and he smote him.

People who don't believe they are literalists can simply brush this difference aside as meaningless in the grand scheme of things, as in "the Bible teaches the way to go to heaven, not the way the heavens go". And besides, in this case it's very easy to make up a completely untestable story on how Nachon and Childon might actually be the same, and so on.

Or take this:

-Exodus 34:1
-And the LORD said unto Moses, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first: and I will write upon these tables the words that were in the first tables, which thou brakest.

-Exodus 34:27-28
-And the LORD said unto Moses, Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel. And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.

Well, whether God writes the second set of 10 commandments himself or dictates them to Moses, what difference does that really make?

But even on important things, even on the most important issue of all -- eternal bliss vs eternal damnation -, the Bible contradicts itself, and that not just once, and not even just between different books. To live with these contradictions you have to get very far from a literalist, so far that it probably becomes indistinguishable from picking & choosing.

Almost all readers will be familiar with the idea of salvation by faith alone. Let's ignore the Old Testament, which obviously never says faith in Jesus is required for anything. The New Testament says salvation is by faith alone 10 times, but apart from this it also proclaims...

Righteousness as a necessary condition:

-Matthew 5:20
-Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

So perhaps salvation by faith, but not by faith alone.

Words as necessary and sufficient:

-Matthew 12:37
-For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.

Note that Matthew (if not Jesus himself, whose words Matthew claims to record) contradicts himself here: first righteousness exceeding that of the scribes and Pharisees is necessary, then words alone suffice.

This quote might be construed as explaining which words are the right ones:

-Acts 2:21
-Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Endurance all the way to the end of the world as necessary and sufficient condition:

-Matthew 10:22
-And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.

-Matthew 24:13
-But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

-Mark 13:13
-And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

Matthew contradicting himself again. And just wait for Mark...

Not judging as a sufficient and forgiving as a necessary condition:

-Matthew 7:1-2
-Judge not, and ye shall not be judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

-Luke 6:37-38
-Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

OK, maybe that's not about salvation, but about life on Earth... so maybe I can spare Matthew yet another accusation of contradiction...

Works as necessary and sufficient:

-Matthew 16:27
-For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.

-Matthew 19:17
-If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.

-Matthew 25:21-46
-Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

Matthew contradicting himself some more, for real this time.

(Luke does not contradict himself, if we kindly ignore 6:37-38, though perhaps that's because he touches the question only once:

-Luke 10:26-28
-He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.

Love may or may not be a work, though it sure isn't faith.)

Then let's skip the Gospel of John (see below) and turn straight to Paul. The Letter to the Romans preaches salvation by faith alone no less than four times, and contains two additional verses (3:20, 4:2) that tell us that whatever is necessary or sufficient for salvation, it isn't works -- but it nevertheless contradicts itself by containing this passage:

-Romans 2:5-13
-But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; Who will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: For there is no respect of persons with God. For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.

The Second Letter to the Corinthians is entirely on the side of salvation by works alone:

-2 Corinthians 5:10
-For we must all appear before the jugment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

-2 Corinthians 11:13-15
-For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

Same for the Letter to the Philippians:

-Philippians 2:12
-Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

And for the First Letter to Timothy, although only a single work alone is sufficient here -- for women:

-1 Timothy 2:14-15
-And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing.

Peter agrees on salvation by works alone:

-1 Peter 1:17
-[...] the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work [...]

And so does the Revelation to John:

-Revelation 2:23
-I will give unto every one of you according to your works.

-Revelation 20:12-13
-And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

-Revelation 22:14
-Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life.

Pretty unambiguous. (Well. Revelation 14:12 does mention explicitly that the saints have faith: "Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus." But perhaps the faith wasn't necessary and is just a nice addition -- who knows... Doesn't really sound like it was optional, though. But then, Revelation 14:3-5 mentions that the saints are virgin males: "And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth. These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God." Is that necessary after all? Or is it just a very, very strange coincidence -- people are saved for whatever other reasons, and then it later turns out they all happen to be virgin males? ~:-| Either way, it contradicts salvation by childbirth -- 1 Timothy 2:14-15, see above. It does, however, fit nicely with predestination, see below. Har, har.)

Lack of bad works as necessary:

-1 Corinthians 6:9-10
-Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

Keep in mind that having done good works and not having done bad works is not the same; it's possible to do both or neither.

Faith and works as necessary conditions each and as sufficient together, though it's only implied, not made explicit, that faith is necessary:

-Matthew 7:21
-Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

Note how almost explicitly this contradicts Acts 2:21, see above. Oops: "the name of the Lord" (Acts) isn't "Lord" (Matthew). I guess that resolves the apparent contradiction, then.

Apologists who believe in salvation by faith alone often claim that James 2:17 ("Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.") means that works are a symptom of faith, a rather inevitable consequence (the exact opposite, interestingly, of John 3:19-21 and 5:24, see below); but let's read the context, which does not support the silent assumption that faith automatically lives and is never alone -- instead, it basically restates Matthew 7:21 (see above) in more words:

-James 2:14-19
-What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

Got that? James openly mocks the idea of salvation by faith alone: the devils believe and are not saved, so that alone can't be it. And James isn't even done yet:

-James 2:20-26
-But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

This needs no comment.

(Which shall not stop me from commenting anyway upon the fact that James contradicts Paul here, who answers James's question "Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?" quite literally by "hell, no":

-Romans 4:2-5
-For if Abraham were justified by works he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

BTW, Paul also ascribes more wordly blessings upon Abraham as being due to faith alone:

-Romans 4:13
-For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.

I'd call for a celebrity deathmatch if Paul hadn't already contradicted himself in that very same letter, see above.)

Faith and baptism as necessary each and sufficient together:

-Mark 16:16
-He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.

Mark contradicting himself (see above).

Mercy and what seems to be baptism as necessary each and sufficient together, though one might speculate on causal connections between the two:

-Titus 3:5
-Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.

Words and faith as necessary each and sufficient together:

The Letter to the Romans already contradicts itself -- here's a third opinion in the same letter:

-Romans 10:9
-If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

Mind you: it's not enough if you believe, you also have to say it.

Predestination as necessary and sufficient:

Calvin, too, had a Biblical basis for his abhorrent doctrine:

-Matthew 22:14
-For many are called, but few are chosen.

-Romans 8:30
-Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

Yep, Matthew and Romans yet again.

Poverty as necessary:

-Matthew 19:23-24
-Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

Matthew, unsurprisingly.

The utter mess that is the Gospel of John:

To be fair, I haven't counted if John contradicts himself more often than Matthew or the Letter to the Romans, but be that as it may, John contradicts himself all the time:

-John 3:3-7
-Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

-John 3:16-18
-For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

-John 3:19-21
-And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

-John 3:36
-He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

-John 5:24
-But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

-John 5:29
-And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.

-John 6:37
-All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.

Salvation by being born again (which Southern Baptists seem to believe means "telling everyone who wants to hear it, and then some, that you are born again", but that seems to be ignoring 3:4 and 3:5), faith alone, faith which is a symptom of works, faith alone, faith which is a symptom of works, works alone, and what seems to be a combination of predestination and faith (perhaps faith due to predestination, or the other way around, who knows), in this order. Neat. Note especially the switch from 3:18 to 3:19.

Verily, verily, I say unto you: There is no Biblical literalist, no, not one.

============================================================
Well, what do you have to say for yourself, Gabriel?

I'll try illustrate. Did you ever read Orwell's Animal Farm in high school? It's flat out wrong, man- its completely bonkers. Animals don't talk - we have very good scientific evidence that they don't. There has never been a documented case of animals running a collective farm, ever. Obviously, this is a work of complete fantasy that says nothing about reality whatsoever.

No-one is claiming George Orwell is a god. I agree that the point of the bible is the allegory of the story rather than the story itself, but I will contend that those allegories are all man-made.

Sorry about the long post everyone. But it seemed the best thing that could be stated at the time. Seriously, i ought to print out pamphlets of these things! And this was @ Gabriel #222, by the by.

So Gabriel's interpretation is that god cares about our eternal souls only enough to hinge their salvation on our interpretation of a collection of books written so long ago that any meaningful exegesis would require a PhD in ancient Hebrew?

So, are modern Christians using a similarly archaic and indecipherable script that only sounds like English when they refer to the "love" of God and Jesus for us humans that don't have legacy admissions to Harvard's Classics department? Those of us waiting for the go-ahead to Molotov an abortion clinic want to know.

By Brownian, OM (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

gabriel, does everyone who wishes to call themselves a Christian possess the requisite scholastic skills to understand it on the level you have described?
If not then the point you've made is useless. Christians are making decisions - for themselves, their children and others - based on their understanding of the bible, which is doesn't even approach the understanding you seem to think it requires. A recent survey found that a disturbing number of them think Sodom was married to Gomorrah. These people do not view the bible through any lenses of subtlety or nuance; what's written down in front of them is what is, as far as they're concerned. And they're the vast majority.

No, of course not. But that is like saying that only those with PhDs in biology should be talking about evolution. In both cases what is needed is more education. What, just because average Christians are as dumb as posts, that should disqualify a nuanced reading of Genesis, or an attempt to have such a view advanced among them? I don't see the logic. I agree that they're inconvenient to more knowledgeable Christians, but c'est la vie (and for the French grammar N*zi up above, putting a "la" in front of the phrase is a perfectly acceptable variant where I come from - and my apologies for not having a keyboard to put in the accents).

gabriel,

You are aware that there are people who live by what the bible says as if it were literal truth, don't you? People who don't see it as an interesting near-east creation myth? People who probably think genre is the name a French man and an Egyptian woman might name the child they had together*?

*Jean-Ra, in case any of you didn't get it - sorry, couldn't resist.

By Wowbagger (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

I'm trying to make the point that genre matters (aren't there any literary types around here?). When you pick up a novel, you have certain assumptions of genre. If you don't understand the genre of what you're reading, you're not going to understand the text in front of you.

Yet a novel is still a work of fiction.

I agree that a work of fiction can have a mixture of interpreted levels — but that does not make it any less a work of fiction.

Allegory is actually a fairly sophisticated type of fiction, but in the end, it does have an additional level of intent. And just as you cannot discuss Animal Farm without discussing the intent of George Orwell to explicitly add the additional layer of an allegory of Soviet Russia (which I note you avoided mentioning — why?), you cannot claim that there is another intended layer to Genesis without making it explicit what that layer is — so that that layer of meaning can be evaluated for its truth or false value.

By Owlmirror (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

Scholarship in the bible is like scholarship in Lord Of The Rings, it's understanding storytelling. In terms of whether God exists or not and the bible is the word of God, archaeology, history, anthropology, psychology, sociology, literature and comparative mythology would be the disciplines to judge on that. Reading from a theological perspective makes the assumption that the book has had some divine influence, and really whether or not the bible does have some divine inspiration. Theology makes an assumption that really needs to be tested before the discipline has any worth. Without satisfying that assumption, you might as well be appealing to those theologians who studied greek mythology.

Owlmirror, i brought that up already, Lord of the Rings and all. Sorry bud.

All the same, Gabriel will only ignore the point an blather on about his worthless credentials. Never once making a truth claim about the Bible. The opposite of Nance, i suppose.

BobC,

I think my quote in #224 speaks for itself and will not argue with you anymore. I only brought your name up because gabriel said "if Bob's ranting is any indication" and I wanted to let him/her know that it isn't.

gabriel,

c'est la vie (and for the French grammar N*zi up above, putting a "la" in front of the phrase is a perfectly acceptable variant where I come from - and my apologies for not having a keyboard to put in the accents).

hehe...I'm not so much a grammar Nazi as a pedant, probably from spending too much time on this blog.

By Feynmaniac (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

gabriel wrote:

No, of course not. But that is like saying that only those with PhDs in biology should be talking about evolution.

Except that millions of people don't make moral or ethical decisions based on their lack of understanding of evolution. No-one's attempting to justify something like not allowing gay people to marry because of their poor understanding of why DNA falls apart in water. Or that we should erect statues of Mendel in schoolrooms because they're of the uninformed opinion that everything we know about science comes from him.

If Christianity can only be defended by arguing it needs to be looked at through a nuanced lens then everyone who depends on it as a moral/ethical guide needs to use that same lens. Otherwise it's only as good as its poorest interpretation.

By Wowbagger (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

Scholarship in the bible is like scholarship in Lord Of The Rings, it's understanding storytelling. In terms of whether God exists or not and the bible is the word of God, archaeology, history, anthropology, psychology, sociology, literature and comparative mythology would be the disciplines to judge on that. Reading from a theological perspective makes the assumption that the book has had some divine influence, and really whether or not the bible does have some divine inspiration.

Kel, Kel, Kel, such an unnuanced view. You call Lord of the Rings storytelling, but without even a cursory fluency in Quenya or Sindarin, can you say Ents never existed?

By Brownian, OM (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

Gabriel: Do you recognize that many people in the United States and elsewhere believe that the first few chapters of Genesis are not an allegory, or anything to be approached with anything resembling nuance, but is rather Literal Truth From God Himself?

Do you understand that there is a large group of people who feel that it is the sort of thing that ought to be taught as such in schools?

What do you have to say to those people?

By chancelikely (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

Jesus Christ people,

I unleash on eric only to find that we have someone here who is making some sense and you act as if he is farting the star spangled banner.

Hey, he's right if I understand him.

The Bible is like an ordinary book, only more poorly written and a compilation of texts by different authors who are unknown, probably even by the compilers who we also don't know. They have been translated, copied and edited so much that there is no way of knowing what an original autograph would say. There are more discrepancies from text to text in the New Testament than there are words in the New Testament.
So, if I understand it, gabriel wants us to treat this mess like any other ancient writing and study it for clues as to what made these people tick.

My only problem with this is that there are too many religious scholars that have read into it shit that bears no resemblance to what it was originally intended for. Even those in 600 BC who compiled the Old Testament compromised the intent of the writings they were editing and made them into political tools to influence society in their day. It is an enormous hodge podge.

Hector Avalos has written on this subject. He thinks that we have studied the crap out of this book and we need to move on to the many thousands of untranslated ancient texts and learn something interesting instead of feed this self perpetuating, myopic, self reinforcing group of religious scholars that are making a living out of propping up a book that doesn't deserve it.

Not Owlmirror- Kel. Eyes/brain dis-coordination. Apologies. Though i did bring up Owlmirror's point as well. back at 190 and 220 i believe; it might not all be completely covered though.

Feynmaniac, you really should apologize for suggesting I should be banned. If you think censorship is a good thing you are no better than the Christian retards.

No-one is claiming George Orwell is a god.

Are you sure? I've often wondered if GO approached omnipotence at times :)

Still, the point was genre - when so many people (including several on this list tonight) reject Genesis in toto because it doesn't conform to what they think it should say.

I agree that the point of the bible is the allegory of the story rather than the story itself, but I will contend that those allegories are all man-made.

Many have done so over the years, so you're in good company there. Others see more.

Wow, RickRoll, Wall of Text much? I see you keep it handy in case a theist comes wandering about. Maybe save that ammo for someone who is arguing for a very conservative view of biblical inerrancy or something.

"can you say Ents never existed?"

Don't talk shit about Ents! Besides, i know they are real because the talking pig showed me where they lived after he dug up those delicious mushrooms ;)

Wall of Text, is that long for "I can't be bothered?"

And you obviously didn't read very much of it. It's about Beliefs, not events. Like i said though, skating around the issue. And you have our other resident Bible scholar David M to thank for it. Not me.

Speaking of textual criticism, are you at all familiar with the Document Hypothesis and its implications, Gabriel?

Kel, Kel, Kel, such an unnuanced view. You call Lord of the Rings storytelling, but without even a cursory fluency in Quenya or Sindarin, can you say Ents never existed?

I can't say they never existed, I just have no reason to believe they do. Oh and Rockr0ll, I've been using that lord of the rings example for close to a decade, I even made a blog post all about middle-earth scholarship in relation to the bible.

Rick T, a moderate viewpoint is not a 'Get Out of Having Your Arguments Challenged Free' card, although I certainly understand how the legion of godbots we usually get here have lowered the bar so much that even knowing of the existence of the Enûma Eliš makes you want to hug him.

By Brownian, OM (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

It really is sad that Obama courts people who are so clearly and outspokenly delusional. It's really a sad commentary when supposed leaders lean on highly delusional people like Warren to perform their snake oil snowman ship on the Public Stage. It's also shocking that Obama hasn't followed in his father's reputed atheistic footsteps. It's sad when a man who is clearly of high intelligence lowers himself to the base level of faith based delusions that can be proven by school kid level science experiments in your own home!

Let's try one experiment that proves beyond any doubt that a bible story is false: Without cheating fill your bath tub with water and then step into it, do your best to walk on top of the water! No holding onto anything with your hands. Of course you'll sink unless you've cheated. No human being can walk on water thus no one named jesus could in the past, present or in the future. Unless he cheated that is. But if Jesus cheated that would mean ... that those promoting the bible are promoting a fraud. Wow.

It's too bad that Obama would lower himself to the level of ignoring reality in favor of bogus nonsense faith based drivel. It's just as shocking if he believes it or if he doesn't, for if he does he's lowered his intelligence, and if he doesn't it means that he's pretending. Either way it's a no win for him... oh wait it worked to get him elected, which ever it was so it was a win for him. Darn, there goes honesty and the truth.

Don't get me wrong, it's very possible that Obama will be better for the country than the horrific mass murderers known as Bush and Cheney. Can they be charged after they leave office with crimes against humanity? It's about time the US Electorate punished their leaders for their murderous crimes by putting them on trial.

May you have a Wholly Rational Enlightenment as the Days Get Brighter after the Natural Winter Solstice.

@Kel:

Ah, the meme thief gets caught red handed again! lol sorry. But i meant on this thread.

You know what they say, "mimicry [even inadvertent] is the sincerest form of flattery."

Gabriel: Do you recognize that many people in the United States and elsewhere believe that the first few chapters of Genesis are not an allegory, or anything to be approached with anything resembling nuance, but is rather Literal Truth From God Himself?
Do you understand that there is a large group of people who feel that it is the sort of thing that ought to be taught as such in schools?
What do you have to say to those people?

How about to shut up and learn some science - and then, once you've actually understood it, then we can enter a discussion on your assumptions that it's in conflict with your faith?

All the same, Gabriel will only ignore the point an [sic] blather on about his worthless credentials.

Dude, are you on drugs or something? I haven't said anything about "my credentials."

gabriel wrote:

Still, the point was genre - when so many people (including several on this list tonight) reject Genesis in toto because it doesn't conform to what they think it should say.

Well, if it's meant to be the story told by the actual creator god to a human beings then we expect that it should conform to our findings about the natural world. Like I explained to BobC, Genesis in and of itself doesn't need to be untrue; God could have faked the scientific evidence we've discovered to make us think it's untrue, for his own ineffable, inscrutable reasons.

But then he'd be revealed as a lying sack of shit, and I don't know any Christian who believes in a god matching that description. Now, the Gnostics, on the other hand...

By Wowbagger (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

Still, the point was genre - when so many people (including several on this list tonight) reject Genesis in toto because it doesn't conform to what they think it should say.

I'd expect a book of divine influence to get the basic facts right about the origins of the earth, but that's besides the point. There's nothing in genesis, or in any of the rest of the bible that needs divine influence in order for the bible to make sense. The book is a socially-constructed human-edited volume.I wonder how familiar you are with other mythologies, for instance have you looked into The Dreamtime stories of the Australian aboriginals? They tell allegorical tales as well and their stories have messages of morality and conduct much like those found in genesis. Now does knowing that they are allegorical mean that bunyips and the giant rainbow serpent were true or that they had a hand in it? People here understand the meaning, there's just no reason to suggest that there's anything divine about the tales of Genesis allegorical or otherwise.

I can't say they never existed, I just have no reason to believe they do.

You will when the Entwives come back, but you'll be sorry, because then it'll be too late.

In Tom Bombadil's name I pray for you.

By Brownian, OM (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

I haven't said anything about "my credentials."

Then why the constant allusion? You have consistently stated that you have a "nuanced" or maybe even Revealed insight into the meaning of Scripture- though you never reveal what.

Once again, thank you for choosing Flippant Dodgemeister as your tactic of choice in today's online forum. may it grant you killfile status in the eyes of your enemies. Praise be to Deo!

It's a Weird, bad joke. But oh well.

are you at all familiar with the Document Hypothesis and its implications, Gabriel?

Some, but I'll admit to not being in biblical studies, so I probably don't know everything you do. Do you mean for Genesis (various sources, redacted together- priestly source, Yahwist source, etc)?

Many have done so over the years, so you're in good company there. Others see more.

Which brings me precisely back to my question. Why is there anything more there? What makes Genesis a work of the divine? Surely that question needs to be answered before you muse on the meanings contained within because there's a very big different between a divine mandate and the word of man.

gabriel,

You could just as well say all you have said above about any other old holy text, for example the Koran, the Upanishads, the Poetic Edda, etc. Why are you defending the Bible and not those books?

By Feynmaniac (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

yes, animal farm is technically incorrect while still being a repudiation of Communism. The analogy works simply because this work is a veiled description of other REAL events at the time. Perhaps the god of the old testament is a clever description of some other patriarchal dick, okay, but back in the real world, there is not an all- powerful deity.

It would be like reading Animal Farm, and claiming that Napoleon the communist pig tyrant really existed, instead of seeing that he was a reference to Stalin.

And the biggest problem is that these supposed contexts were not noticed upon the creation of the bible, but rather, were conveniently discovered whenever some egregious error was pointed out. Then all a theologian had to do was interpret it in a new context to make the error go away. Which of course means assuming the book is the absolute truth in the first place.

By Matt, Sexual J… (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

You will when the Entwives come back, but you'll be sorry, because then it'll be too late.

In Tom Bombadil's name I pray for you.

I've got a big goofy grin on my face now

Brownian,
I know. They don't know whether we're high jumping or doing the limbo and sometimes I wonder myself.
I had never heard of the Enûma Eliš as a born again fundie. But my literature/writing professor got me thinking when he mentioned the Code of Hammurabi. It was information that eventually lead to my atheism. How fortunate to be free of that crap.

Happy day after Monkey everyone.

Good night.

While I worry I'm going to get called a concern troll for this, I'm going to say it anyway - gabriel's being pretty reasonable in presenting his argument, and I'm kind of enjoying the back-and-forth. He's not a disturbing analogist like Pete Rooke, nor a fancy-footwork duck-and-weaver like Piltdown Man; can we stop with the unnecessary harshness?

By Wowbagger (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

I thought dinosaurs were extinct because they were too big to fit in the ark!

thank you for choosing Flippant Dodgemeister as your tactic of choice in today's online forum. may it grant you killfile status in the eyes of your enemies.

Dude, there are like 20 people responding to me all at once. Forgive me if I don't find your responses, shall we say, nuanced? Other people are saying more interesting things. If there is a question buried in your stuff you need answered then by all means, make it stand out.

Which brings me precisely back to my question. Why is there anything more there? What makes Genesis a work of the divine? Surely that question needs to be answered before you muse on the meanings contained within because there's a very big different between a divine mandate and the word of man.

I agree that that is the important question. Of course, the reasons are not based on reason (there, I said it, you can all shoot me now). You have to remember (despite what the YECs say), Christianity is not based on reason - it never makes that claim for itself. It was seen as bonkers by helenist and Hebrew alike back in the day. Same thing goes now - we're not in the realm of proof; nor in the realm of easily-verified history (some 2000 years on).

Yet some, myself included (**ducks**) choose to believe. My reasons are personal, and it'll be a cold day in Hades before I'd put them out on a forum such as this, of course, but I find them compelling - not scientific, not evidence-based in a testable way, but compelling nonetheless.

Feynmaniac @ 258,

You could just as well say all you have said above about any other old holy text, for example the Koran, the Upanishads, the Poetic Edda, etc. Why are you defending the Bible and not those books?

Im interested in this aspect of the religious delusion.To me this seems even more a leap than the cognitive dissonance required to keep up your belief against overwhelming evidence to the contrary,and lack of conformation of those beliefs.
There are literally thousands of religious creation myths out there,and they are all true for the members of the culture that teaches them,whether its Aboriginals or Inuit or Pacific Islanders,or Jews,or Buddhists etc.
Surely people should be able to tell that these are just variations of mystical/mythical thinking of primitive cultures trying to figure out where they came from and who made them,and that they cant all be true.
But no such luck.

I see your point Wowbagger, but i can't agree with you since i can't see Gabriel's point at all. Does he simply want textual analysis? I can see that that would prove a stepping stone for many to move to our side of the fence on the God issue, but our contention- unless i'm mistaken as usual- is that this isn't possible for the worst of the worst, the true fundies and wackaloons. It is really frustrating to see someone so close, but hanging on to religion like that when only one small technicality (or a sentimentality) is keeping them from seeing things rationally.

It's not concern trolling, but i think you're wrong here. He hasn't answered the one basic question we have all asked: Is it true? And, Barring a simple answer to that: is the meaning behind Genesis true?

He hasn't made any steps to answer these questions. This is just the needling that comes with the territory in Pharyngula. But that's some brass balls, twice in only a few days to stick your neck out like that. I can't get mad when i see that kind of behavior.

I thought dinosaurs were extinct because they were too big to fit in the ark!

But Ken Ham made a sweet little model of the ark with baby dinosaurs walking on two-by-two! Surely such a God-fearing man must be telling the truth exactly how it happened!

By Owlmirror (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

While I worry I'm going to get called a concern troll for this, I'm going to say it anyway - gabriel's being pretty reasonable in presenting his argument, and I'm kind of enjoying the back-and-forth.

I don't think you're a concern troll at all. Though, I'm not sure there is much difference between his argument and eric's. The main difference, as far as I can tell, is that gabriel is getting a little closer to answering the key question: why is he willing to undertake the twists of phrase necessary to preserve the accuracy of one book, but not another?

gabriel-

If you find contexts through which to interpret, you can make any book say anything through allegory or metaphor. But why this one? In order to do this, theologians must have some confidence in an underlying truth behind the words? Why?

By Matt, Sexual J… (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

Wowbagger #263,

Agreed. Some theists who come here deserve nothing more than to be mocked. However, some, like gabriel, are somewhat reasonable and are interested in a honest debate. While these exchanges aren't as fun as batting the creationist piñata they are more intellectually satisfying.

By Feynmaniac (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

"I will contend that those allegories are all man-made.
Many have done so over the years, so you're in good company there. Others see more. "

Why?

I agree that that is the important question. Of course, the reasons are not based on reason

That and not the tales of genesis is the precise reason why most people reject the bible as anything more than another mythology.

"But Ken Ham made a sweet little model of the ark with baby dinosaurs walking on two-by-two! Surely such a God-fearing man must be telling the truth exactly how it happened!"

Why not just have eggs? after all, the Ark certainly has temperature control as well. It didn't? then just how did all those temperature sensitive critters survive then? I'm confused.

But my literature/writing professor got me thinking when he mentioned the Code of Hammurabi. It was information that eventually lead to my atheism.

It's easy to avoid such a pitfall by remembering that texts written by ancients detailing supernatural events that can only be correlated with actual history by the loosest of interpretations are merely fiction, unless such a text is the Holy Text of your religion, in which case it's evidence of Divine Existence. Further, you can easily illustrate this vital difference to non-believers by describing features of your text that apply to nearly ever other text from the Diamond Sutra through Harold Robbins' entire corpus and appearing puzzled when they don't immediately prostrate themselves in fealty to your deity.

Me, I don't read any text, holy or otherwise, that doesn't recognise Max as the King of all Wild Things. I once read a theology text that examined the likely meaning of "gnashing their terrible teeth" to the average children's book author and illustrator in the 1960s, but I thought it preferable to keep my faith pure and so I stopped reading six pages in and instead cut myself in penance.

By Brownian, OM (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

And Gabriel, Note: priorities man. Just chill out, and answer the most important questions first. Ramble if you have to. Ignore comments for a while, but answer:
How is Genesis an example of truth?
What is that truth?
How do we know that it is actually true?

I think these were the main questions posed. Nuance the hell out of them- i don't care. I have a Study Bible ready and waiting for your answers. May the Force be with you ;)

While I worry I'm going to get called a concern troll for this, I'm going to say it anyway - gabriel's being pretty reasonable in presenting his argument, and I'm kind of enjoying the back-and-forth. He's not a disturbing analogist like Pete Rooke, nor a fancy-footwork duck-and-weaver like Piltdown Man; can we stop with the unnecessary harshness?

Okay Wowbagger, but then he's your responsibility; I don't want to see him floating belly up at the top of blog because you lost interest again, okay?

By Brownian, OM (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

That and not the tales of genesis is the precise reason why most people reject the bible as anything more than another mythology.

I agree, and I understand. Still, I think the YECs are making a mistake when they respond to this by saying "ok, then. Let's cook some evidence so we don't have to admit we need faith!"

Uh, last time I checked, it was called the Christian faith. Either you have it or you don't - either the message strangely appeals to you or it doesn't. Same deal back in the apostle Paul's day.

No, the Enuma Elish doesn't move me the same way - if it did, perhaps I would think differently.

gabriel hasn't told any of us we're going to hell, that he hates gays, that he wants creationism intelligent design taught in schools, that near-death experiences prove the bible is true, that he thinks the catholic church should govern us or that PZ may have, at one point been possessed by demons.

And he definitely hasn't made reference to cankerous milkmen, miniskirts above the knee-roll or books covered in human skin.

I don't agree with him, but I'd much rather hear about his reasons for believing than many of the others we see from time to time.

By Wowbagger (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

I think it would be real neat if Twin Skies and Gabriel worked as a tag-team in defending their faith. Am i the only person who thinks that would be something really cool to see?

Flippant Dodgemeister was a hyperbole Gabriel, relax lol.

Hey Owlmirror (276), don't jinx my fish by saying that! Ha ha ha.

*** Oh no, I've defended gabriel, a theist, and said something bad about BobC, atheist. My cover will be blown....err.....Quick say something only a pharyngulite would say...***

There is no God and squid-on-squid sex is hot!

***Whew.....I don't think they suspect a thing***

By Feynmaniac (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

gabriel (#265):

Yet some, myself included (**ducks**) choose to believe.

As far as I know, nobody has asked you what I was wondering. What is it that you beleive? God? The Resurrection? Heaven? Hell? Talking snakes?

I was just wondering if you could be more specific than "choose to believe". No need to duck. Thanks.

I agree, and I understand. Still, I think the YECs are making a mistake when they respond to this by saying "ok, then. Let's cook some evidence so we don't have to admit we need faith!"

Uh, last time I checked, it was called the Christian faith.

As former preacher Dan Barker once noted: "Faith is a cop-out. It is intellectual bankruptcy. If the only way you can accept an assertion is by faith, then you are conceding that it can't be taken on its own merits."While I like the zeal on which you attack creationists, you are on thin ice on your attacks on atheists because you simply do not understand where they are coming from as evidenced by the straw-man arguments listed above. If you believe of faith, that's your prerogative. But don't think that any dismissal of the stories is down to a rejection of the interpretation that you don't have, rather it's the absence of faith in the interpretation that you do.

You have to remember (despite what the YECs say), Christianity is not based on reason

Then why does theology exist? And why do you think it is useful? From what I have read so far, you think that a logical examination of the situation/context is important, yet when it comes down to it, you say that the entire premise is illogical, yet you believe it. So how exactly can you claim that those unschooled in theology have less nuanced views of god than you do?

I mean, YEC's believing in something patently ridiculous, in spite of all the evidence, seem to be following the spirit of Christianity perfectly, if what you said above is true. At least, if you don't feel the need to critically examine your own faith, then you cant claim that anyone else's interpretation of Christianity is wrong.

By Matt, Sexual J… (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

"And he definitely hasn't made reference to cankerous milkmen, miniskirts above the knee-roll or books covered in human skin."

"I don't agree with him, but I'd much rather hear about his reasons for believing than many of the others we see from time to time."

Wah ha ha Ha. Oh that's good. I don't agree with Gabriel, but i didn't agree with Zacharias either, and it went swell (i think): http://suddenlyatheist.wordpress.com/2008/09/17/what-sacrifice/

If only we could coax him out here... He's a great read. Much fun to discuss.

#278

PZ may have, at one point been possessed by demons.

I recognized every reference you made except this. Did anyone actually do that?

By Feynmaniac (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

Okay Wowbagger, but then he's your responsibility; I don't want to see him floating belly up at the top of blog because you lost interest again, okay?

Darn good thing I wasn't drinking when I read that one. Those little turns of phrase are what makes reading Pharyngula so much fun...

My main point was the point about genre, and how easily many people toss out a text like Genesis based on simple assumptions that it's "wrong." I wasn't really intending to get into the whole Why I Think God Exists thing or whatnot. Yes, I am a Christian, yes, I enjoy reading this blog, yes, I comment from time to time (rarely) - no, I didn't come here tonight to hold a revival meeting - but some of y'all get your knickers in a twist in a hurry if there is a theist about.

RickrOll, you asked:

How is Genesis an example of truth?

It is a an ancient story of beginnings, common to many cultures, that sets out (primarily) that there is purpose behind humanity and a special connection between one's ancestors and a deity. One either accepts such a premise or not - there is no argument in Genesis that this is the case, it is assumed from the opening phrases.

What is that truth?

See above. Note that the original authors typically hold this as the highest truth for their culture.

How do we know that it is actually true?

Well, you either accept it or you don't. It's not provable in any scientific way - and despite what a YEC will tell you, I wouldn't expect it to be.

"You have to remember (despite what the YECs say), Christianity is not based on reason."- Gabriel

OK, read Sprool. He begs to differ. (Calvinist). I really do think that Calvinism is the most honest of all the different denominations in regard to their view of God. That makes them rather good as Christians go. Not that Sprool isn't without fault, but he takes a lot of the steps that you take.

Okay Wowbagger, but then he's your responsibility; I don't want to see him floating belly up at the top of blog because you lost interest again, okay?

Er, on that - it's a warm evening in Adelaide and I've just been invited by Friends with Pool to come over for a swim and some beers. So, sorry to be a drive-by-not-quite-concern-troll but that's an offer too good to pass up. And if you decide to go all Holbach/Truth Machine on gabriel then so be it.

I'll be back in a few hours to see what's happened.

By Wowbagger (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

[Rookeian analogies]

Great. Now I have to bleach my brain again.

By Owlmirror (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

Yes, I am a Christian

I have been told that the minimum requirement to be called a Christian is a belief in the Resurrection story. You think that happened? Thanks.

Uh, last time I checked, it was called the Christian faith. Either you have it or you don't - either the message strangely appeals to you or it doesn't. Same deal back in the apostle Paul's day.

I agree with the others that gabriel is responding in a measured and reasonable way so I'll drop some of the snark, but not only is this a unsupportable assertion about the nature of faith (even Jesus goes so far as to claim faith isn't an all or nothing quality but appears in smaller amounts), but it only leads one further into the theological morass, i.e.: who decides whether an individual has sufficient faith to buy the story: God or that person? If it's God, as in unconditional election, then God's a prick who picked favourites long before light and dark decided to see other people for awhile; if it's the individual, then god's gotta come up with a more believable ad campaign, a patch to upgrade the Bible to v1.03, or whatever it takes to make it sound at least a modicum more plausible than every other creation myth out there if he's really interested in winning the war against Satan for our eternal souls (or was it the Titans he fights against? I forget: the true one is the one with goat's feet and red skin, right?)

Claiming one can achieve any kind of satisfaction from theology, either intellectual or spiritual, is like claiming that one can commute to and from work by riding a carousel: sure, if you squint sideways it looks like you're getting somewhere fast, but if you open your eyes a little wider you'll notice you keep passing the same damn tree.

By Brownian, OM (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

Gabriel (2686), well, i can't say i'm happy, but i'm not mad. It's pretty wishy-washy for faith, isn't it?

Which now takes us to the other statements- How is Genesis truly differentiated from other cultures and why would these heathen cultures not only be sharing but also predate the same truths as Judaism? You made mention that it is common, but now the onus is on you to explain why your God is special.

If you can't logically prove something, then it isn't truth. It's conjecture- at best. That's just how it is.

I appreciate your live and let live mentality- though it's irritatingly disarming. And it doesn't really make any sort of sense. You seem to be "Meh" about the whole God business.

OK, read Sprool.

If you mean RC Sproul, I'd rather not, thanks. He just veered into YEC-land, I've heard. Shame, really - one more high-profile evolution denier in the ranks (like the person this thread was about, once).

I have been told that the minimum requirement to be called a Christian is a belief in the Resurrection story. You think that happened? Thanks.

I would agree that accepting the Resurrection is probably a baseline for Christian faith. Yes, I think it happened. Does that cover your question?

Gabriel (286), well, i can't say i'm happy, but i'm not mad. It's prtty wishy-washy for faith, isn't it?

Which now takes us to the other statements- How is Genesis truly differentiated from other cultures and why would these heathen cultures not only be sharing but also predate the same truths as Judaism? You made mention that it is common, but now the onus is on you to explain why your God is special.

If you can't logically prove something, then it isn't truth. It's conjecture- at best. That's just how it is.

I appreciate your live and let live mentality- though it's irritatingly disarming. And it doesn't really make any sort of sense. You seem to be "Meh" about the whole God business.

If by creationist you mean prostitute for the prevailing nonsense of the day, well yes, I would believe that bonehead to be a creationist.

By Andy James (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

"He just veered into YEC-land"

No, but he's stupid about Micro-Macro evolution. Like i said, faults. But his scripture interpretations seem rather sound to me, if not disturbing. And since evolution is never brought up in scripture, i wouldn't Really count that against him. Nothing a few cdk007 videos wouldn't cure.
http://www.the-highway.com/DoublePredestination_Sproul.html

And if you decide to go all Holbach/Truth Machine on gabriel then so be it.

I was only joking. It is nice to be reminded that there are very reasonable theists that hang around here, even if it doesn't get you off the hook, argument-wise).

Unfortunately it's getting to be the wee hours here on the frigid prairies, so I've gotta shoot the sled dogs and block off the igloo entrance for the night.

Sorry I started in and am now taking off, Gabriel, but that soporific tea just kicked in. Talk with/at you later, and I hope you had a Merry Christmas.

By Brownian, OM (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

You made mention that it is common, but now the onus is on you to explain why your God is special.

That would be assuming it was my intent to argue for my faith here on Pharyngula - which it is not. There are times and places for that, and doing so here is not "on", as it were.

But, to your point, I agree. The ironic thing is that Christianity is based on an outlandish story - I mean, c'mon - ancient crucified Jew as maker and supreme lord of the whole cosmos? If anything, Christianity distinguishes itself by its incredible nature. It appealed to some then, and it appeals to some now.

If you can't logically prove something, then it isn't truth. It's conjecture- at best. That's just how it is.

I would say that if one can't "prove" something, then it isn't science - although science doesn't typically deal in absolutes, but you know what I mean. I think things can be "true" and not "provable" by scientific standards.

I appreciate your live and let live mentality- though it's irritatingly disarming. And it doesn't really make any sort of sense. You seem to be "Meh" about the whole God business.

Well, my faith is important to me, and sure, I'd love others to think the same, but this is a science blog - not my personal soap box for apologetics. So, not "meh" about God, just aware of where I am. I appreciate Pharyngula and its commenters, so I'm not about to spew theology everywhere.

gabriel (#293):

I would agree that accepting the Resurrection is probably a baseline for Christian faith. Yes, I think it happened. Does that cover your question?

Yes, you answered my question. Thanks. I was a bit surprised by your "Yes, I think it happened" but I appreciate your honest reply.

Unfortunately it's getting to be the wee hours here on the frigid prairies, so I've gotta shoot the sled dogs and block off the igloo entrance for the night.
Sorry I started in and am now taking off, Gabriel, but that soporific tea just kicked in. Talk with/at you later, and I hope you had a Merry Christmas.

Indeed - it's even late here on the unusually snowy west coast. Sleep warm, and thanks for the conversation.

Goodnight all - my apologies if I didn't get to everyone's questions. Another night, another thread, I guess.

Happy monkey, solstice and/or merry Christmas as the case may be!

I was completely surprised by the pick, because Obama is pretty liberal in my opinion. Maybe President-elect Obama was trying to make up for spending 20 years in an assembly where he claimed he didn't know Rev. Jeremiah Wright too well.

"I would say that if one can't "prove" something, then it isn't science - although science doesn't typically deal in absolutes, but you know what I mean."- Gabriel

Maybe, but truth and reality aren't the same. Reality is what science attempts to find, whereas truth is making statements about reality that are absolutes. If they aren't absolutes, they may merely be observations, and are subject to change. Science also has a methodology that i'm not sure logic shares as well.

Logic defines necessary truths. Truths are statements about reality. The universe is a subset of reality- though what's left may be nothing at all when you subtract one from the other- debatable. Science finds models that explain how the universe works. Logic is the thing which underlies even science. Without it, we have nothing i would suspect but intuition. It's a good thing our human intuition is logic, in pragmatic scenarios. All inventions and processes follow logically dictated pathways. To assume that some things do not is to assume magic, the supernatural.

Illogical things simply do not exist. They may be created from reality, through the imagination, but do not have any impact on the physical reality other than the effort that it takes to create and sustain them. Everything we make up is based upon what we know already about reality. So, other than the ability to create fiction, what you see is what you get.

And i deeply appreciate your stance on "no-theology" zones, but weren't we the ones that asked you to elaborate? At any rate, i'll talk to you later. It was rather nice.

Thanks for the pointer to the Enûma_Eliš.

I found the article for it on Wikipedia to be an eye opener. Definitely ammunition in any debate with Christians over the origins of the OT and its claims to be the only word of the only god. Also cool that something that as ancient as these tablets has survived the millennia. I noticed that there are claims that ruins in Iraq near where these were found have been heavily damaged by the US army.

Begin with the Wikipedia entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enûma_Eliš

By JohnnieCanuck (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

"Eventually, I came to the conclusion, through my study of the Bible and science, that the two positions of evolution and creation just could not fit together. There are some real problems with the idea that God created through evolution."

At least that part's correct - but I suppose every dog has his day.

I think that with the proper application of analysis, you could actually measure the stupid in his statements.

I think that with the proper application of analysis, you could actually measure the stupid in his statements.

The SI units of stupid are Hams (Hm).

By Feynmaniac (not verified) on 25 Dec 2008 #permalink

MelM: "Faith is a vice!"

I for one would buy your pin. Faith is certainly a vice: faithheads indulge in it and turn to it, just as alcoholics turn to the bottle in order to "solve" their problems. It makes you feel all warm and rightous inside, you just can't get enough... It's addictive: the more you take, the more you need to keep the cumulating bullshit at bay. It's even contagious, especially on young inexperienced minds, and it is definitely a habit you can pick up by keeping bad companies...

I'm sure the evidence is pretty strong that suggests how difficult it is to quit, for many long-time abusers.

As for the "New Atheists" failing to condemn faith as a vice, I think you're wrong. Even if they might not have used the exact word, at least Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins and Dan Dennet have said very close things in their writings. What they have in common is precisely their singling out religious faith as the worst kind of irrationality, precisely because it has built-in mechanisms for getting away with eschewing public criticisms, and for exploiting the natural self-delusional tendencies in our minds. Like a very well designed and merchandised vice.

By The Swiss (not verified) on 26 Dec 2008 #permalink

I've never seen a dinosaur in a nativity, but in Catalonian nativities there is always a 'caganer' - a character taking a dump - somewhere in the manger. I think that sums up Mr Warren nicely.

#307 - having noticed how often in other forums Christianists claim to have 'found Jesus' or whatever after a history of drink and/or drug abuse I concluded they were effectively swapping one addiction for another . . .

This is Juan Cole's impression of Rick Warren. The two were at a Muslim Public Affairs Council conference. Excerpt:

But then he began thinking bigger. He has identified 5 major problems he wants to address:
Spiritual emptiness, corrupt leadership, disease pandemics, dire poverty, and illiteracy. He wants to do job creation and job training. He wants to wipe out malaria in the areas where it is still active. He is convinced that religious congregations are the only set of organizations on earth that can successfully combat these ills. And he is entirely willing actively and directly to cooperate with mosques to get the job done.

Speaking of T-Rexes and biblical figures in a way not utterly. laughably stupid, is my memory correct about the spectacular Mr. Bean Xmas episode that has him toying with the department store's nativity scene, building to an attack by a T-Rex beaten off by a squad of Royal Army tanks, with the Baby Jesus being flown to safety by helicopter?

It was a T-Rex, wasn't it?

About the ignorant, deceiving chump being tastelessly shoved before our so-damned-tired-of-assholes eyes at the Inauguration - I didn't plan to watch those parts anyway, but I hope this is some super-secret plan by Obama, given that this guy would gladly, even gleefully, stab the new President in the back given the opportunity.

By Sioux Laris (not verified) on 26 Dec 2008 #permalink

windy@180,
Thanks for the link to Thorny Christie's post on john Wilkins' blog. Oh dear, eric's intellectual pretensions just collapsed into a little brown puddle!

By Nick Gotts, OM (not verified) on 26 Dec 2008 #permalink

Speaking of T-Rexes and biblical figures in a way not utterly. laughably stupid, is my memory correct about the spectacular Mr. Bean Xmas episode that has him toying with the department store's nativity scene, building to an attack by a T-Rex beaten off by a squad of Royal Army tanks, with the Baby Jesus being flown to safety by helicopter?

I don't remember the scene but PEDANTRY TIME!
The UK has the Royal Air Force, the Royal Navy, the Royal Marines and the Army (not a Royal Army). Various regiments are "royal" but the army as a whole never has been. I think it goes pretty deep into history with the army having coalesced from various militias owing allegiance to local barons rather than directly to the crown.

If anything, Christianity distinguishes itself by its incredible nature. It appealed to some then, and it appeals to some now. - gabriel

That's hardly the whole story, is it? There was a long period (roughly speaking, 4th to 17th century, but continuing longer in some places and not quite over even today), where saying it didn't appeal to you - or that the "wrong" version appealed to you - could lead to you becoming seriously dead. Christianity cannot be judged solely on whether its myths (I use the word non-pejoratively) are appealing or not: "By their fruits shall ye know them" (Matthew 7:20). For the most part, those fruits stink.

By Nick Gotts, OM (not verified) on 26 Dec 2008 #permalink

I think it goes pretty deep into history with the army having coalesced from various militias owing allegiance to local barons rather than directly to the crown.

The modern British Army is a direct descendant of Cromwell's New Model Army, the first professional army in England since Roman times and largely made from whole cloth, that fought for Parliament against King.

Cromwell's New Model Army

I think that calls for a song:

Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of England (PURITAN!) Born in 1599 and died in 1658 (SEPTEMBER!)...

By Wowbagger (not verified) on 26 Dec 2008 #permalink

eric (#113):

It's rare to find sources at or before the first century that posit *both* a finite universe, i.e. a universe with a beginning, and a universe with a beginning ex nihilo. Most so-called creation stories posit some preexisting, chaotic 'stuff' that a 'demiurge' gives order and form to.

Actually, Genesis doesn't claim that creation was ex nihilo. All it says is:

"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters." (Genesis 1:1-2, KJV)

The formless watery void appears to be a variant on the notion of pre-existing chaos typical of other Middle-Eastern creations myths (e.g., Babylonian, Egyptian etc), and there's no reason to suppose that the ancient Hebrews envisaged creation as involving anything different.

You don't get explicit references to creation ex nihilo until much, much later in the Old Testament, e.g:

"I beseech thee, my son, look upon heaven and earth, and all that is in them, and consider that God made them out of nothing, and mankind also" (2 Maccabees 7:28, one of the Deuterocanonical Books in the Douay-Rheims version)

suggesting that this was a much later tradition dating from the 2nd or 3rd century BC.

The nearest you get to the notion of creation ex nihilo in the ancient Middle-Eastern world is in the alternative Memphite theology of the ancient Egyptians, in which Ptah "speaks" the world into existence.

By Iain Walker (not verified) on 26 Dec 2008 #permalink

BobC,
I don't normally think you worth addressing, but as another of those who would like to see you banned here, because your genocidal hatred gives succour to godbots, and stinks the place out, I'll just say that your cries of "censorship" are crap. You can start your own blog and spew your poisons there. This is PZ's blog, so I respect his decision not to ban you, but you have no right to comment here, any more than any of the current inhabitants of the dungeon.

By Nick Gotts, OM (not verified) on 26 Dec 2008 #permalink

I saw a link coming to my blog from this site and came to check it out. You guys are like a self parody. I can't imagine anyone reading over 300 comments of back-slapping and mindless recitation of quotes from your Big Book O' Atheist Soundbites.

Remember, if If the universe really came into being from nothing and life came from non-life and "evolved" to what we see today, then those processes led to the Bible and our religious beliefs.

So your beloved materialistic Darwinism is responsible for my faith! What irony. It also led to virtually all historians agreeing that Jesus really lived and died on a Roman cross, that his followers believed He rose from the dead and that the Apostle Paul really lived and went from persecuting Christianianity to spreading it, and that he wrote most of the books attributed to him (and lots more).

The process of materialistic Darwinism also resulted in me "imagining" the cosmological, teleological, moral, historical, archeological, etc. evidence for Christianity. What an amazing coincidence!

We are just bags of chemicals who don't have any real free will. People like you have no reason for pride and they are being illogical in thinking they are being logical, because there would be no such thing. Your "reason" and "morality" would not be grounded in anything. (Such is the thinking of those in rebellion to God.)

But of course, you can't go two sentences without making moral claims, even though your worldview requires that morality is relative. You guys are the preachiest and most judgmental people I know.

Please try to live a little more consistently with your worldview. As it is you are just a kicking, screaming poster kids for Romans 1:

Romans 1:18-20 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

The Good News for you is that there is still hope.

There's some red meat for you! Have fun. Talk amongst yourselves.

Shorter Neil, babble, babble babble, so there you stupid atheists.

By John Phillips, FCD (not verified) on 26 Dec 2008 #permalink

amk@315,
Indeed, it's arguable that not just the army but the UK itself and the British Empire are/were Cromwell's creations. Although the Union of Crowns took place in 1603, and the Act of Union between England and Scotland not until 1707, it was the defeat of the Scottish "Engagers" by the New Model Army in 1648 that effectively ended Scottish independence. Cromwell's brutal conquest of Ireland is better known. His expansion of the navy laid the basis for British supremacy at sea. His defeat of the royalists entrenched the position of Parliament and the power of the "gentry" (which the Restoration did not reverse, as shown in 1688). His suppression of the Levellers ensured that Britain remained a highly class-divided society.

By Nick Gotts, OM (not verified) on 26 Dec 2008 #permalink

The SI units of stupid are Hams (Hm). Feynmaniac

The Hm is too large for everyday use: the milliham or even the microham are more convenient for most purposes.

(I'm reminded of the millihelen, the intensity of pulchritude sufficient to launch a single ship.)

By Nick Gotts, OM (not verified) on 26 Dec 2008 #permalink

Debate between Rick Warren and Sam Harris

[To Warren] Is the Bible inerrant?
WARREN: I believe it's inerrant in what it claims to be. The Bible does not claim to be a scientific book in many areas.
.
Do you believe Creation happened in the way Genesis describes it?
.
WARREN: If you're asking me do I believe in evolution, the answer is no, I don't. I believe that God, at a moment, created man. I do believe Genesis is literal, but I do also know metaphorical terms are used. Did God come down and blow in man's nose? If you believe in God, you don't have a problem accepting miracles. So if God wants to do it that way, it's fine with me.
.
HARRIS: I'm doing my Ph.D. in neuroscience; I'm very close to the literature on evolutionary biology. And the basic point is that evolution by natural selection is random genetic mutation over millions of years in the context of environmental pressure that selects for fitness.
.
WARREN: Who's doing the selecting?
.
HARRIS: The environment. You don't have to invoke an intelligent designer to explain the complexity we see.
.
WARREN: Sam makes all kinds of assertions based on his presuppositions. I'm willing to admit my presuppositions: there are clues to God. I talk to God every day. He talks to me.
...
HARRIS: It is quite possible for most people to be wrong--as are most Americans who think that evolution didn't occur.
.
WARREN: That's an arrogant statement.

Warren converses on a daily basis with the creator of the universe, and yet someone is arrogant for believing in a sound scientific theory which many god-botherers do not accept.

By Reginald Selkirk (not verified) on 26 Dec 2008 #permalink

Remember, if If the universe really came into being from nothing and life came from non-life and "evolved" to what we see today, then those processes led to the Bible and our religious beliefs. - Neil the moronic godbot

So what? They also led to the Koran and Islam, the Bhagavad Gita and Hinduism, the Lotus Sutra and Buddhism, "The God Delusion" and atheism, "Das Kapital" and Marxism, "Mein Kampf" and Nazism...

I'd assess Neil's nonsense at between 200 and 300 millihams. What do others think?

Neil, your ludicrous claims about the incompatibility of atheism with morality and logic have been dealt with here more times than I remember. The fact that there is no universal standard of morality does not mean it is arbitrary, because the norms we adopt have consequences for others. The fact that our brains are electrochemical in nature does not prevent some inferences being valid (truth-preserving) and others invalid; just as the fact that your thoughts were brought to us by electrical impulses and electromagnetic waves means the marks that appear on our screens are meaningless (well, OK, in your case they approach pretty near to that condition, but that's simply a result of your stupidity).

I'd tell you to go away and learn about complex systems and levels of explanation, but since you're a halfwit, I'm pretty sure you would be incapable of understanding.

By Nick Gotts, OM (not verified) on 26 Dec 2008 #permalink

Nick Gotts,

I agree BobC is an embarassment with his homicidal rants most of the time,but he has just as much right to comment here as you or me.

Neil,

ah,never mind,its just pointless anyway...
Good to have half-decent xtians like gabriel here every now and then,to see theyre not all totally retarded.

I talk to God every day. He talks to me.

That would indeed indicate a level of either wilful lying and obfuscation,or just plain mental disturbance that is a tad worrisome even for US public figures' standards.

it was the defeat of the Scottish "Engagers" by the New Model Army in 1648 that effectively ended Scottish independence.

Really? I had the impression that Scotland retained the potential to be a successful independent nation right up until the Scottish government gambled the entire country's wealth on a colonial adventure in Panama (the Darian adventure, sold by a conman that said a thriving empire existed there for them to trade with).

After that (and with King Billy's support) the English leaders pretty much bought Scotland, offering to take on the Scots debts in exchange for governing the whole island from London.

I agree BobC is an embarassment with his homicidal rants most of the time,but he has just as much right to comment here as you or me.

No-one has a right to comment here except the owners. We may have a right to free speech, but PZ and scienceblogs.com have no obligation to give us a soap box.

It may be worth pointing out that BobC appears to advocate terrorism as well as genocide. Indiscriminate violence for the purpose of producing political/social/religions change through intimidation and coercion. Kinda like flinging rockets into Israel to teach the Jews that stealing other people's land isn't acceptable behaviour, only BobC thinks bigger.

And it may also be worth pointing out that if "Muslim", "Afghanistan", and "flying planes into buildings" were replaced with "Jew", "Israel", and "stealing land" in BobC's rant quoted above, then BobC might be visited by Homeland Security.

Muslims are the Jews of the 21st century.

Kinda like flinging rockets into Israel to teach the Jews that stealing other people's land isn't acceptable behaviour, only BobC thinks bigger.

Ahem,Im way too tired to start this now,but that would have to be one of the silliest comparisons ive heard in a long time.

Cuttlefish, I love your stuff, but this is a blemish:

It 'twas no bitten apple

"'Twas" is a contraction of "it was".

By noncarborundum (not verified) on 26 Dec 2008 #permalink

Matt Heath@326,
Well, it's arguable. 1648 showed that the English army could do what it liked in Scotland: indeed, once England raised a professional army, Scottish independence was always going to be at the mercy of decisions made in London - at least until the advent of democracy and the decline of the UK as a world power (which enabled most of Ireland to break away in the early 20th century and could soon allow Scotland to do so). The Darien scheme can be seen as a last desperate attempt to re-establish some sort of parity. Angus Calder, in Revolutionary Empire, says:

"To Paterson it was 'this great and noble Undertaking.' to others it seemed no more than a squalid fiddle by certain people aiming to break the EIC [East India Company] monopoly who, when they failed in that aim, went on to deceive the Scottish people with impossible promises."

By Nick Gotts, OM (not verified) on 26 Dec 2008 #permalink

But of course, you can't go two sentences without making moral claims, even though your worldview requires that morality is relative. You guys are the preachiest and most judgmental people I know.

Maybe it's because most of what we percieve as "right" and "wrong" is relative. TO use a recent reference - would throwing a shoe in the U.S. amount to as much a brouhaha as it did in the Iraq? I doubt it, and some will probably see it as more of a comedic spectacle than a serious protest. Even "flipping the bird" is subjective to the culture you belong to - for some it's a literal middle finger, for some it's otherwise.

I do believe that certain moral norms exist (murder, rape, and genocide are generally agreed upon as atrocities for example). The problem is when one religion takes the moral high ground, and begins claiming that it alone has the right to carry us to "salvation," unabashed about preaching of stories of punishment and of using slander and/or baseless accusations against its (perceived) enemies.

By Twin-Skies (not verified) on 26 Dec 2008 #permalink

@eric #113

Well, Lord of the Rings and Cinderella may have been worlds apart when it comes to imagery and poetic metaphore, but in the end, they're just that: Fairy Tales

By Twin-Skies (not verified) on 26 Dec 2008 #permalink

OT,

I really hope that a whole torrent of people will watch "Religulous" when it becomes available on DVD !

*blink*

Twin-Skies,

I doubt it, and some will probably see it as more of a comedic spectacle than a serious protest

Well,Americans didnt take it as a comedic spectacle for sure,the journalist seems to have been beaten severely and is threatened with 15 years in jail.
Like your posts mate,welcome to the place !

@noncarb 331

(that's what I get for proofreading--I had changed an earlier draft, which had a slightly different phrase. As soon as I hit "post", I saw and regretted. It should, of course, be "it was")

@ Jeeves 61

(that's close to blasphemy--I appreciate the thought, but my best days are only able to look at his worst days and wish.)

@robotaholic

I remember somebody a couple of topics ago stating that it wasn't obama himself per se that chose Rick Warren for the invocation, and that it has more to do with his planning committee. Anybody have a link to that?

By Twin-Skies (not verified) on 26 Dec 2008 #permalink

To me, believing it was possible that dinosaurs roamed the earth with humans is a bellweather test of intelligence. If you fail this test, no other test matters. You are a complete and utter moron, and have no standing whatsoever on any subject matter. You are a defective human being, period.

The fact that Rick Warren is a rich celebrity changes this not at all. He fails the test, he is a defective human being, and no one should give anything he says the slightest attention.

It really is that simple.

Fergy, tell us what you really think :)

By John Phillips, FCD (not verified) on 26 Dec 2008 #permalink

Oh, assuming, amusing Neil! He's set up a new post "welcoming" us to his website. It invites us to yell and scream about the Muslims in 2009. Thanks, Neil! I wasn't thinking of a New Year's Resolution so soon and the funny thing is, if I don't do it, apparently I'm a big hypocrite or meanie or something. Maybe the reason why this forum isn't about Muslims is because Muslims don't have any legislative power in the U.S. Nobody is saying we are a "Muslim" Nation. People don't pick random passages out of the Koran and tell people they have to live their lives according to the randomness. But sweet Neil wants us to do his dirty work for him. It's uncouth for one religion to openly despise the other, so us atheists can do it then. Here's a New Year's Resolution for you, Neil: be a good Christian and start your own holy war, leave us out of it.

Catching up on .

Since the earlier thread about science-related positions turned into a Warren debate, I figure I can post a link about the other appointments on this one:

http://www.democracynow.org/2008/12/18/obama_picks_pro_ethanol_former_i…

Also, this interview about SA's "failed revolution" and its relevance to the election of Obama is interesting in light of my discussion with brokensoldier on that thread:

http://www.democracynow.org/2008/11/26/a_conversation_with_south_africa…

So your beloved materialistic Darwinism is responsible for my faith!

No, your indoctrination into metaphysical beliefs and willful ignorance is responsible for for faith, idiot.

To me, believing it was possible that dinosaurs roamed the earth with humans is a bellweather test of intelligence.

This is incorrect I believe.
Brainwashing has nothing to do with intelligence.

Intelligent people,when faced with a personal crisis or tragedy,might become susceptible to religious garbage,children that are otherwise intelligent might be influenced and abused by their parents into a particular religious cult,its about susceptability and vulnerability,not intelligence.
A lot of fundie morons will be members of lower social classes,and subsequently have had less chances to receive a proper education,but not having been given an opportunity to a proper education does not equal lesser intelligence,as measured by the available IQ tests.

To me, believing it was possible that dinosaurs roamed the earth with humans is a bellweather test of intelligence. If you fail this test, no other test matters.

Yes, the "Alley-Oop/Flintstones Test" of intelligence.
I set the bar a bit higher; my test of intelligence is the ability to correctly spell the word "bellwether." [insert little smiley-face thing to indicate good-natured ribbing]

By Sven DiMilo (not verified) on 26 Dec 2008 #permalink

Nick Gotts wrote "as another of those who would like to see you banned here"

Nick Gotts also wrote "This is PZ's blog"

That's correct, this is not your blog. So go fuck yourself you stupid piece of shit.

Gotts, you're not any better than the Christians who love censorship. Also, since when did the topic of this thread become "BobC"? That's another thing Christians like to do. They don't have anything meaningful to say, so they talk about people they don't like.

SC:

That was a great interview - thanks for the link! I found one statement Breytenbach made to be particularly illuminating:

When one sees the way the new administration is being constructed, it seems like Washington is just continuing the way it always has and that he will be locked in or spun in a particular web of people who probably may even be very, very concerned, may even be very honest and very serious, but do have vastly different interests from the people who put him in power, who voted for him.

It is impossible not to see the reason and logic behind his statement, but another side of me sees why Obama might - and I agree, it isn't anything more than might until he does - defy pragmatic expectation on this front.

In the military, heavy emphasis is placed on unitary responsibility in positions of leadership. (Or at least it used to be, which is one reason I was happy to be scuttled from service...) As a commander, it mattered not whether I was fully aware of what was happening with my unit, only that I was its commander. As such, I had an obligation to know, and a responsibility to accept whatever consequences that resulted from my unit's actions.

This is why Obama's message resonates with me to the degree it has so far. He has constantly stated that regardless of the similarity in appearance to Washington politics of administrations past that his current team may display, he will be the one driving the agenda, and he will expect his team to carry that agenda out. To me, this implies that he takes it upon himself to ensure that he is as fully informed as possible, and that should anything arise that suggests impropriety within his cabinet or team of advisors, he will be the one to both accept responsibility and deal with the problem. In short, he is saying to me that he will not continue the days of Bush-Cheney 'plausible deniability' that had high-level discussions about such pivotal issues as torture or rendition taking place without the Commander-in-Chief present. The only reason to do such a thing is to insulate the leader from decisions made fully in light of the fact that they would be embarrassing if connected to the Oval Office.

I do realize that this may not come to be the case, but that is precisely the reason for my personal insistence on waiting until he kicks off his administration. It will not take long to see whether or not he actually embodies this idea, and should he prove my notions wrong, he will prove himself to me to be another typical politician.

PZ may have, at one point been possessed by demons.

I recognized every reference you made except this. Did anyone actually do that?

I didn't see a response to this above. Yes - Piltdown Man.

My favorite wild-card prayer for all things religious:
May ignorance preserve us.

People like this are the same ones that accept at face value a bag of mini-marshmallows as being authentic snowman poop.

So go fuck yourself you stupid piece of shit. - BobC

Thanks! I'd be ashamed if something like that was not the response I got from genocidal racist scum like you.

By Nick Gotts, OM (not verified) on 26 Dec 2008 #permalink

#44:

...are often the biggest nancy boys on the planet.It is still my hope that the religulous people will pause from gay bashing just long enough...

Irony meter explode!

By Guy Incognito (not verified) on 26 Dec 2008 #permalink

And before it all deteriorates from here,I'll duck down the road to the casino,its 0440am and ive run out of cigarettes,I wish SC a great day,and see y'all tomorrow..:-)

Nick Gotts, just for the record I have in the past exaggerated what I might be in favor of. You are incorrect to assume I'm in favor of genocide. But even if you think some of my views are extreme, even if I'm not the wimp you are, you got a lot of nerve to want me banned from a blog that doesn't belong to you. You really are an asshole Gotts, but of course you already knew that.

You are incorrect to assume I'm in favor of genocide. - BobC

Then you were a fucking idiot to say you were, weren't you? How do I know you're not lying now, rather than then?

By Nick Gotts, OM (not verified) on 26 Dec 2008 #permalink

My point, Mr. Gotts, is it's not your business to decide who is allowed to comment here. My other point is you are acting like a Christian retard when you write about people you don't like instead of staying on topic.

BobC,
Who the hell are you to decide what the topic of a thread should be?

By Nick Gotts, OM (not verified) on 26 Dec 2008 #permalink

The topic of this thread: "What do you imagine Rick Warren thinks about evolution?"

I don't see "BobC" in there anywhere, do you?

Well, I posted a reply to Neil's blog. It's a friendly greeting, but I've hidden a double meaning - see if you can catch it XD

Greetings Neil. I see you've also stumbled into the strange, wild world of Pharyngula. Nothing much else for me to say, except to wish you well, and do hope you keep to the scriptures - there's much enlightenment we can all learn from them, if only we're willing to study them to their fullest depths.

By Twin-Skies (not verified) on 26 Dec 2008 #permalink

#339 - I remember somebody a couple of topics ago stating that it wasn't obama himself per se that chose Rick Warren for the invocation, and that it has more to do with his planning committee. Anybody have a link to that?

Well, I'd heard that too from various people who usually know what they're talking about, but after doing a little googling - and not coming up with anything perfectly definitive, I found an article on Salon that seems to confirm that it was indeed Obama himself who selected Warren:

Frome Salon At least initially, aides for Obama's inaugural committee said the decision had come from Congress, not Obama. In fact, that wasn't the case at all. "That was solely the choice of the president-elect," said Gil Duran, a spokesman for Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who chairs the congressional committee. Obama's staff sent explicit orders for whom to include in the inaugural ceremony up to Capitol Hill, since Congress is, technically, in charge of that part of the day. "Sen. Feinstein obviously disagrees with the views of Rev. Warren on issues that affect the gay and lesbian community," Duran said. "However, Sen. Feinstein respects the president-elect's prerogative to select a cleric to deliver the invocation." (That one doesn't need any translation -- Feinstein's office was politely, respectfully, throwing Obama under the bus.)

Sad if true, and, I think, the first real political misstep of this incredibly savvy politician.

Hmmm . . . looking at preview it looks like embedded linkies don't work here. Try this: http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2008/12/19/rick_warren/

In the military, heavy emphasis is placed on unitary responsibility in positions of leadership.

Amazingly coincidental that you should put it in those terms. It so happens that I was just watching this talk by Noam Chomsky*:

http://www.democracynow.org/2008/11/24/noam_chomsky_what_next_the_elect…

*Why I'm working my way backwards through the shows, I have no idea. Funnily enough, I had hoped to help organize this talk, but in the end wasn't even able to attend, and didn't get around to seeing it until now. Turns out I could've just linked to it a few days ago and saved myself some time and energy, as he's saying a lot of the same things I was. Eh, who am I kidding? I like to argue.

:)

I'll close with this thought: "Democracy - It's not the military."

See ya, clinteas!

Of course he's a creationist! I suppose we just have to be happy that Obama is not, at least I sure as hell hope not. Now that he picked Warren, I'm really not sure what to think.

Of course he's a creationist! I suppose we just have to be happy that Obama is not, at least I sure as hell hope not. Now that he picked Warren, I'm really not sure what to think.

From what I have heard so far, Obama is looking like the most pro-science American president in history, and he most definitely accepts the facts of evolution. His choice to have Rick Warren at his inauguration can be called dumb or a smart political move, but Warren and people like Warren will have absolutely no say about Obama's policies, especially not science and science education.

It's fair to say it's too early to judge Obama, but I'm betting he will be the best president in my lifetime.

Waaay up the conversation somefolks said this:

"But Ken Ham made a sweet little model of the ark with baby dinosaurs walking on two-by-two! Surely such a God-fearing man must be telling the truth exactly how it happened!"

Why not just have eggs? after all, the Ark certainly has temperature control as well. It didn't? then just how did all those temperature sensitive critters survive then? I'm confused.

There's an old saying in the US Army: Amateurs talk tactics, professionals talk logistics.

The Ark story is long on tactics and short on logistics.

By Apprentice to … (not verified) on 26 Dec 2008 #permalink

Of course genesis is mythology. Even the bronze age compilers knew that. There are two creation stories and 2 Noahs Arks stories and they differ noticeably. They've had 4,000 years (or 2500 according to scholars) to edit the book and add some internal consistency. They never bothered for the same reason no one has revised the Greek and Norse mythologies to make them more consistent with modern knowledge.

Creationism is mostly driven by politics and tribal identity building. We believe the same mythology in the face of overwhelming evidence. We hate the same groups of demons; commies, gays, moslems, and nonwhites. Therefore we belong to the same tribe.

Rick Warren is just pandering to his base. Obama is just pandering to Rick Warren and his base. This is also just politics and will probably work. Not all evangelicals are creationists, 26% even voted for Obama. It is dawning on the smarter of them that just because some evil moron says some magic words, "prolife, hate gays, 6,000 year old earth" that they aren't necessarily going to either mean them, have the US people's interests at heart, or provide competent honest government.

When it comes down to it, most fundies really don't want to sit in a trash heap, skinning a rat for dinner and singing "jesus loves our tribe and hates everyone else."

A group of nuts on an obscure message boards are proposing that atheists are making all of this Warren-related noise out of (hold your snickers and siggers) jealousy.

PLEASE crash this poll!

I'll close with this thought: "Democracy - It's not the military."

No it's not, and certainly for good reason, but the idea of placing responsibility upon a leader for the actions of his or her subordinates, regardless of actual knowledge of their actions, is not solely a military idea, either. Any person in a position of power or influence that delegates portions of his or her power to subordinates must be held to this standard, or the whole system - as we have seen in the past eight years - can be circumvented simply by claiming specific ignorance.

llewelly @ 363: I did exactly that, and mine didn't go live, or at least I can't click on it, although it looks just like it should in the text, blue and underlined. I wonder why. I typed it in twice in fact. I embed links on other sites - Sadly,No! for instance - all the time and they work fine, but for some reason they don't seem to work for me here or on World-o-Crap. Oh, well. I don't really care, except that they look neater.

Well when those deluded goofballs learn the difference between jealousy and envy, I'll still not give a damn. Never try to tach a pig to sing...

Brother Rick Warren is out to make buttloads of money. We all know MegaChurches are about profit not prophets, and acknowledging evolution is bad for the dumbed down God Bidness. "Keep It Simple (&) Stupid" is the mantra of Evangelicalism.

Warren knows that complicated and dissonant concepts can lead to doubt which can lead to rejection and therefore the loss of power/money. When con artists scam credulous targets, they make every outrageous claim their mark is willing to believe even in the face of overwhelming contradictory evidence.
Yeah, Rick"talks to God every day." 3 guesses what his god really is.

Raven:
Creationism is mostly driven by politics and tribal identity building.

If you want to get votes and as big a tribe as possible you should advocate the idea that evolution and God are not mutually exclusive. I'm not sure if hardcore Creationism makes you more or less attractive politically (in general, that is).

If Obama is doing this to reach across the aisle, then it's bad. Does he really think he needs the approval of a bunch of lunatics who should be treated with nothing but contempt anyway?

Mikko,

Yes, but if you want a really cohesive tribe that is likely to last for a long time the evidence tends to indicate that you want to go with something with a very real cost like creationism. That and most people who care enough to vote based on these issues understand that evolution and god can work with each other canard to be just that.

http://rifters.com/real/2008/10/understanding-sarah-palin-or-god-is-in…

Does he really think he needs the approval of a bunch of lunatics who should be treated with nothing but contempt anyway?

Mikko, perhaps you're not acquainted with the overwhelming insipidness of American constituents. The number of people in the US who believe in creationism is not insignificant.
I agree that Obama screwed the pooch on this one - his gesture to offer an olive branch to fundgelicals is either naively noble or poorly Machiavelian. Let's hope he gets over trying to be everything to everyone.

Let's hope he gets over trying to be everything to everyone.

Well, he's already abandoned the one initiative I had hoped he would take.

-jcr

By John C. Randolph (not verified) on 26 Dec 2008 #permalink

Rachel Maddow just nailed Warren on hypocrisy, lies and general ill will. Only in the Dem party elites' febrile minds is having Warren at the inaugural a "unifying" theme.

Will the Democratic party elites ever realize why they are despised? The spit at their base and try to appease the most extreme.

By Bubba Sixpack (not verified) on 26 Dec 2008 #permalink

Dang it, why aren't these links working?

Anyhow, from Reason.com:

A couple of weeks ago, the Obama-Biden transition team's website solicited policy questions from the public. Over two days, the site "processed over 600,000 votes from more than 10,000 people on more than 7,300 questions," and this was the top question:

Will you consider legalizing marijuana so that the government can regulate it, tax it, put age limits on it, and create millions of new jobs and create a billion dollar industry right here in the U.S.?

Obama's terse answer:

President-elect Obama is not in favor of the legalization of marijuana.

http://www.reason.com/blog/show/130757.html

-jcr

By John C. Randolph (not verified) on 26 Dec 2008 #permalink

Oops, Mikko, read your blog. Wow. You need to... Wow, where to start. Your grasp of economics and US History is tenuous with straw man arguments and false dichotomies filling in for actual content. Just for starters, you need to re-evaluate your Hoover & FDR Depression history, though you're probably close enough with Hoover.
Just a little friendly advice: providing personal clickbacks can bite you on the ass.

No it's not, and certainly for good reason, but the idea of placing responsibility upon a leader for the actions of his or her subordinates, regardless of actual knowledge of their actions, is not solely a military idea, either. Any person in a position of power or influence that delegates portions of his or her power to subordinates must be held to this standard, or the whole system - as we have seen in the past eight years - can be circumvented simply by claiming specific ignorance.

I was speaking in a broader societal sense. Honestly, I don't see what your comments here about administrative responsibility have to do with the larger discussion I thought we were having, or really how they relate to the point being made by Breyten Breytenbach to which you seemed to be responding. The context of his remark was a comparison between Mandela and Obama, in which he's warning that he sees a similar pattern or dynamic in the US to that which occurred in SA at that time. He makes the point that the failure of deep change in SA wasn't due to Mandela personally or his character or leadership style, but to the fact that hopes were placed in an emblematic politician who could not undertake the sorts of efforts necessary even if he wanted to. The comments surrounding that quote help, I think:

BREYTEN BREYTENBACH:...And then, when we come to the moment when we actually get to that power, I can quite understand why we needed to have a transitory period of preventing civil war from happening, of neutralizing the South African armed forces, of having something like the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that would serve as a kind of a mechanism to pacify the people and to avoid extremes from taking place, extreme action. But that we should have strategically fallen into lockstep with the North, or with the Western world, when it comes to economic policies and, to some extent, when it comes to political policies, as well, I find that utterly unacceptable.

I'm not holding Mandela responsible for that. I don't think that was--I don't think at the time when he came to power he had the leeway or perhaps even internally the power to make it different. I think that, strangely enough, Mandela, perhaps because he's such an adulated figure and because he had become such an emblematic symbol, the real political power, in terms of his own party and in terms probably of the country, was leached from him. And I'm somewhat concerned that maybe something similar may be happening to Obama, that--of course, we're talking of vastly different moments in history, but it seems to me very interesting and very intriguing parallels between these two men. I sometimes--

AMY GOODMAN: That there's tremendous opportunity actually for change, but they're not going that road.

BREYTEN BREYTENBACH: These are two people, first of all, in their personal histories, who have obviously had to work very deeply upon themselves...

But they come to power carried on a huge wave of popular expectation. You know, what I find painful at the moment, it seems to me, but, of course, one doesn't know, because these things are very--it's a very early stage--it's that it seems to be a kind of a discarding of what this national mandate actually means that brought Obama to power here. When one sees the way the new administration is being constructed, it seems like Washington is just continuing the way it always has and that he will be locked in or spun in a particular web of people who probably may even be very, very concerned, may even be very honest and very serious, but do have vastly different interests from the people who put him in power, who voted for him.

And I think this happened to some extent with Mandela, as well. It is nearly as if having achieved that kind of historical, emblematic capacity of being able to bring such vastly different components of a society together then somehow seems to incapacitate you to be able to carry further that which really historically needs to be done.

Chomsky says it more strongly in the case of Obama. Whether the opportunity for change is siezed or not depends on people continuing to fight. To say "Well, we elected this guy so he could create 'change', so let's sit back and give him a chance to go to work" is, in my opinion, not only to shoot ourselves in the foot but to misundertand fundamentally what democracy is, or should be, about.

The comparative case of Bolivia which Chomsky raises (and I have here in the past) is enlightening. An election is one event in the course of ongoing struggles for change. The people who make up these movements, who develop and debate agendas, and who sometimes elect politicians to implement changes, are the real political actors there(there's more adulation of Morales personally than I care for, but it's sometimes difficult to separate this from support for the movements and policies he represents).

I would like to see something like the phenomenon of the New Left in the '60s which grew and radicalized during and after Kennedy's candidacy and presidency - despite the fact that he was no radical himself - (continue to?) emerge during Obama's. But this won't happen if people see the election itself as the definitive moment and look to him for fundamental change, and certainly not if people view elected politicians as military-type figures.

(Not to mention that the changes Obama has in mind to begin with fall far short of those I'd like to see...)

BobC@358,
Right, and all the threads on this blog stick to the topic, don't they? How dare you try to censor me? You're no better than a christard!

By Nick Gotts, OM (not verified) on 26 Dec 2008 #permalink

ok, i just lost any and all respect for warren

ANYONE who espouses ignorance over scientific reality gets put in the circular file as not worthy of any further attention

By brightmoon (not verified) on 26 Dec 2008 #permalink

Lordy Lordy (...so to speak...) I do so very much LOVE it when a prominent religionist so clearly shoots his own scientific credibility in the foot -- don't you?

----------------------------------------
Religion Is Myth-information
----------------------------------------

FIghting, name calling, pedantry, blather, poor stabs at humor and a few inebriated souls -it's a heartwarming traditional Christmas! Happy Monkey!

How dare you try to censor me?

Nick,

Do you understand the difference between criticism and censorship? BobC criticized you. AFAICT, he's made no move to censor you.

-jcr

By John C. Randolph (not verified) on 26 Dec 2008 #permalink

Nick was joking, Randolph. Read their whole exchange on this thread.

If you want to get votes and as big a tribe as possible you should advocate the idea that evolution and God are not mutually exclusive. I'm not sure if hardcore Creationism makes you more or less attractive politically (in general, that is).

Sure that is a great idea. But there is more than one tribe. The problem is that a tribe has already adopted that strategy. Both the Dems and GOP at one time were in the reality based community camp. God invented evolution and the ancient Jews did not keep dinosaurs as pets.

The tribe of fundie morons has to differentiate themselves from the other tribes. So they go creo, prolife, hate a bunch of demons and so on.

It would help a lot if the meme your tribe chooses is:
1. True
2. Useful. Evolutionary biology is critical in agriculture and medicine which only matters to people who eat and want to live a long, healthy life.

The fundies are holding a losing meme. That is why they resort to lies often and violence occasionally.

At least most of them have given up on faith healing instead of modern medicine. The smaller tribes into that haven't gone very far.

Oh, argh. There is nothing I like about this guy. I understand Obama wanting to reach out and try to work with the other side, but there was probably a better way than picking this guy (and again I point out, why do we need a religious invocation at a secular ceremony for someone elected to a secular office?).

SC, OM@381,
Can't see anything there to diagree with!

Thanks for the links to the Chomsky and Breytenbach interviews - both sobering. Actually I think Breytenbach overestimates the Mandela/Obama parallels, in two important ways: Obama, even in this crisis, has much more room for manoeuvre than Mandela in just-post-apartheid South Africa; and the liberation movement from below in South Africa was (and to some extent probably still is), much more deep-rooted and vibrant than anything in current US politics. (I was in South Africa for 2 months in 1991, unsuccessfully attempting a career switch to journalism, and saw some of it close up, although of course Breytenbach must know it almost infinitely better.) After the trip I wrote an article saying the ANC had three choices: knuckling under to international capital, the Leninist approach of much of the ANC leadership, or building on the popular movements - and correctly predicted they would choose the first :-(.

By Nick Gotts, OM (not verified) on 26 Dec 2008 #permalink

The tribe of fundie morons has to differentiate themselves from the other tribes. So they go creo, prolife, hate a bunch of demons and so on.

Sorry Raven, but that's a false premise. Fundies never worry about how fashionable or passe their thinking is.

The inability to engage reason and logic and instead default to supernatural explanations when professing ones faith and belief in a deity has nothing to do with intentional differentiation. A tendency for fundamentalism is dependent on a strict indoctrination, starting at childhood, with severe penalties for dissidents. Most fundies stay within a social network that reinforces like-thinking. Even our general culture stresses a bias for vague belief in God, which reinforces all religious sects. Most fundamentalists do not know or understand thinking outside their paradigm. Any religion with different concepts is anathema and is avoided.

The compartmentalization of superstitious and magical thinking in an ideological context and common sense thinking in non-ideological situation is maddening to those who employ reason and rationality towards everyday life, but indoctrination into religious ideas is so interwoven into the fabric of family, authority, and self identity and also reinforced culturally, that separating the tripe from the truth comes at a great effort and the threat of personal identity crisis and the realization that many cherished authority figures are wrong by delusion or deceit.
Scholastic science instruction can be compartmentalized into a rejection of the validity of what is being taught and able to regurgitate the information for grades as a means to an end. I knew a few Valedictorians and Salutatorians whose practical knowledge, specifically regarding biology and sex was laughable. If a strict adherence to a belief in God, even with the accompanying ludicrous tales of creation and miracles, is instilled at an early enough age and the cost for rejecting these beliefs is made clear, then there will always exist a dichotomy between reason/delusion and science /dogma.
It's all atavistic thinking.

Actually I think Breytenbach overestimates the Mandela/Obama parallels, in two important ways: Obama, even in this crisis, has much more room for manoeuvre than Mandela in just-post-apartheid South Africa; and the liberation movement from below in South Africa was (and to some extent probably still is), much more deep-rooted and vibrant than anything in current US politics.

I completely agree with this.

(I know - everyone must be shocked :).)

E.V.:
The number of people in the US who believe in creationism is not insignificant

Certainly not; the nut vote has been a significant factor for the past eight years. If you're a Republican and you can get these people to vote for you (McCain wasn't particularly successful in this respect) then making friends with the nuts may be good politics but it makes no sense for a Democrat, especially Obama, to reach across the aisle.

If anything, now is the time to try to turn these creationists into a completely isolated and ridiculed tribe, unable to affect politics. Obama is heading the wrong way.

Short version: The more magical and unnatural God is, the more powerful He seems; therefore, we (the fundies) have the best version of God since he defies all natural laws and offers an eternal paradise for the faithful who only believe in our specific dogma.

Remember, if If the universe really came into being from nothing and life came from non-life and "evolved" to what we see today, then those processes led to the Bible and our religious beliefs.

Have you not read The God Delusion, Dawkins postulates the same thing. Just remember that Christianity is not the only religion, over time there have been thousands upon thousands of religions, and denominations of those crazy ideas. Man may have created God in his own image, but also created Odin, Zeus, Brahman, The Flying Spaghetti Monster, Xenu, the Giant Rainbow Serpent, Zoroaster, Mardurk, Ra, and thousands of other deities too. The only readon that Yahweh is special is because you were brought up in a society where Yahweh was the way.

So your beloved materialistic Darwinism is responsible for my faith! What irony.

I think you need to look up the definitions of responsible and irony, you are way off the mark in both.

It also led to virtually all historians agreeing that Jesus really lived and died on a Roman cross, that his followers believed He rose from the dead and that the Apostle Paul really lived and went from persecuting Christianianity to spreading it, and that he wrote most of the books attributed to him (and lots more).

Virtually all historians believe in the resurrection? Now I find that hard to believe. Got a citation for that?

If you want to get votes and as big a tribe as possible you should advocate the idea that evolution and God are not mutually exclusive.

Most of those who say evolution and God are incompatible are creationists, there are only a few atheists (notably Dawkins and Dennett) who maintain that evolution and God do not mix. When there are people like Ken Miller, Francis Collins and Robert T. Bakker as spokesmen for science who are also classical believers, then really there should be no issue.

@Neil:

The process of materialistic Darwinism also resulted in me "imagining" the cosmological, teleological, moral, historical, archeological, etc. evidence for Christianity.

Pardon my lack of education, but aren't the first three merely arguments, and not evidence? And while the last two may be evidence that Christianity as a religion has been around for awhile, I don't think they really do anything to confirm its supernatural claims. I mean, if you have either historical or archeological evidence that actually confirms the resurrection, vice simple belief in it, I would certainly love to hear it.

By Guy Incognito (not verified) on 26 Dec 2008 #permalink

Obama is heading the wrong way.

Since he hasn't even been sworn into office yet, I can't presume to know his future foibles. Many of his appointees are promising but any prognostication is sheer conjecture at this point.
McCain's presidency would also have been difficult to outguess. Palin, however - well that would/will be a disaster of epic proportions.

t makes no sense for a Democrat, especially Obama, to reach across the aisle.

Ummm, how so? Republicans are not a unified block and don't represent a unified ideology (neither do Dems, for that matter). As Bush has proven, you cannot simply disregard those who do not share your political goals without consequence (in this case, it wasn't the opposing party, it was the economic collapse from war spending, de-regulation and Constitutional abuses.)

If anything, now is the time to try to turn these creationists into a completely isolated and ridiculed tribe, unable to affect politics.

You are describing the majority of my neighbors, my family and a huge margin of my state. Our Family Doctor is a creationist (and a fucking Palin supporter), our family Vet, too. In fact, I know many people who have degrees from UT, A&M, Rice, SMU, TCU (Undergrad, Masters and a few PhDs) who are creationists. There are many Blue Dog Dems who are creationists.

These aren't just backwoods, Heritage USA, Dollywood & Branson visiting hicks, these are people who operate in the real world just as you or I until creation stories are mentioned, then the all logic and reason is sequestered until the moment has passed. (Some of these people live in $500,000 -$3,000,000+++ houses). Chuck Norris, for god's sake. Chuck Norris is not an anomaly if you don't live in the isolated world of Scientific Academia or a Country which prides itself on Free Thought and secularism.

Every goddamned Singer/ Rap Star and actor who thanks Jesus as his/her lord and personal savior on the podium is undoubtedly a creationist. Mormons, Church of Christ, Baptists, Assembly of God, Pentecostals, Lutherans, many Methodists, shitloads of American Catholics, - it goes on and on.

I live in a State with 23,500,000 people, and roughly less than half believe in the literal version of biblical creation. Add Kansas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Missouri, Georgia, Alabama, Florida,Colorado, The Carolinas and The Virginias to that Bible Belt hot zone of biblical literalism concerning the creation of the world. Ridiculing them into abandoning their irrational beliefs is not a practical or a wise option.

    Cosmological genesis:
  • heaven
  • earth
  • light
  • firmament
  • plants
  • sun
  • moon
  • stars
  • birds
  • tetrapods
  • man
    Cosmological science:
  • big bang
  • light
  • stars
  • sun
  • earth
  • moon
  • plants
  • tetrapods
  • birds
  • man

My god, they are identical!

Kel,

Don't forget that there are two different accounts of creation in Genesis. The second one states:

Genesis 2: 18-19

18 The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him."
19 Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air.....

So in this account the birds and the tetrapods came after humans.

These sort of redundancies and contradictions make sense if you view the Bible of a hodgepodge of documents thrown together. Why would an omniscient being repeat the same stories with different details over and over again?

Some stories come from folk tales of farmers, some are from different factions with political motives and some are from theologians. And this is just the Torah. That's why the God of the bible appears to be so mysterious. He served a different purpose for the different authors.

By Feynmaniac (not verified) on 26 Dec 2008 #permalink

SC #361,

Thanks for the link! Chomsky is always interesting. Also, I should have known that Pilty was the one who would suggest PZ had been possessed by demons.

By Feynmaniac (not verified) on 26 Dec 2008 #permalink

Kel @397, you've misrepresented Neil here:

It also led to virtually all historians agreeing that Jesus really lived and died on a Roman cross, that his followers believed He rose from the dead and that the Apostle Paul really lived and went from persecuting Christianianity to spreading it, and that he wrote most of the books attributed to him (and lots more).

Virtually all historians believe in the resurrection? Now I find that hard to believe. Got a citation for that?

That's not "historians believe in the resurrection", it's "historians believe that Jesus' followers believed in the resurrection".
I do like the typo in "Christianianity", however. It's only missing an "n" for perfection ;)

By John Morales (not verified) on 26 Dec 2008 #permalink

Me #402,

So in this account the birds and the tetrapods came after humans.

I made a mistake here. The birds and tetrapods AFTER man but BEFORE woman.

Hmm, I wonder if I can make a woman out of my rib.......wow, I really need a girlfriend.

By Feynmaniac (not verified) on 26 Dec 2008 #permalink

John Morales,
Hmm, "Christianianity" is presumably the belief that there was once a religion called "Christianity". Perhaps I could work that into the post-global-warming SF novel I'm planning to write when I retire!

By Nick Gotts, OM (not verified) on 26 Dec 2008 #permalink

Sadly, no, I'm not shocked. What is shocking is that Obama tapped this idiot to give some silly incantation at some event or other that most of the world will be watching. So, on an international stage, we're parading around fools with our leader. Haven't we already been down this road?

Isn't it a given that some nitwit clergyman has going to speak at the inauguration? I mean, it would be great to have an atheist President who says, "screw that," but isn't this just how it's done?

Sure, he could have picked a more "progressive" religious leader, but that concept is an oxymoron. They're all crazy. The only way to get something out of it is to appoint someone who will win him some political capital with the right-wing wackos for when he wants their votes on his stimulus plan or something. Might as well use one of their darlings for that, and not pretend there is such a thing as a progressive pastor.

Sure, he could have picked a more "progressive" religious leader, but that concept is an oxymoron. They're all crazy.

As is Obama, he picked Warren because they are of a like mind.

The biggest reaction from Warrens invitation seems to be the GLBT community who feel Obama made an "I'll appease the Evangelical/Conservatives now and ride out the anti-homophobe backlash" choice, followed by the subset of Liberals/Progressives/Non-theists who are discomfitted by his obvious pandering specifically to a Fundamentalist, and a probable charlatan. Obama's camp must be wagering that the easily slighted Evangelicals outnumber the other groups, and that these groups will be come around once he throws them a bone or two.
Was it a major tactical error to invite Warren, or is this just a tempest in a teacup that will have little lasting impact to his tenure beyond the legacy of those grudge-holding supporters who will always feel double-crossed?
Meh. It's all theater at this point, a miscalculated gesture. Nothing substantial will come from it and life will continue on. Obama-haters will kvetch and mewl, and the Obama-lovers will rationalize every misstep.
And we will all wait (with breath unbated) for Warren to screw up big time.
"One more starry-eyed messiah meets his final farewell."

Speaking of kvetching and mewling Obama-haters - here's Joel.

If you're wondering what the Australian elected leader (Prime Minister for us) does in his spare time, at the moment he's commentating the cricket match between Australia and South Africa - and doing a pretty decent job.

Now, if he'd just shut down the stupid internet-filtering scheme, and get a bit more serious about emission targets...

By Wowbagger (not verified) on 26 Dec 2008 #permalink

They play cricket just a few blocks from here at a very nice tree filled park with a large grassy field for sports. Friends from New Castle go to watch the matches when they visit every couple of years. (I still haven't figured it all out). You know our out-going president was a co-owner of a pro baseball team. If he only had stayed out of politics...

E.V.:
As Bush has proven, you cannot simply disregard those who do not share your political goals without consequence

Of course not but there are certain groups that don't deserve your attention. The evangelical hardcore creationist camp is something Obama should ignore. Obama can work with Republicans without having to please the kind of people who think ID should be a part of curriculum.

Ridiculing them into abandoning their irrational beliefs is not a practical or a wise option.

Again, I was not talking of religious people in general but merely of those hardcore creationists whose political ventures have been the subject of this blog many times.

(in this case, it wasn't the opposing party, it was the economic collapse from war spending

This makes no sense. You might as well argue "the economic collapse from health spending" since public health care expenditures in the US equal defense spending. In fact, American wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are relatively tiny in terms of economic burden compared to Medicare, Medicaid and so on.

Feynmaniac @#405

>Hmm, I wonder if I can make a woman out of my rib.......wow, I really need a girlfriend.

You do realise that the result would be sleeping with your twin sister, who is furthermore genetically male?

Although I suppose you could simply remove the Y and replace it with an identical X.

In fact, American wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are relatively tiny in terms of economic burden compared to Medicare, Medicaid and so on. - Mikko Sandt

Figures? And what about the incremental amounts under Bush? Spending on Afghanistan, and more especially Iraq, was additional and discretionary; to reduce spending on "Medicare, Medicaid and so on" would have required attacking a large segment of the population, and/or attacking the profits of health corporations - which would have required congressional support he must have known was not available (and he didn't try). Proposed US military spending for FY 2008 is larger than military spending by all of the other nations in the world combined; the same cannot be said of US medical or social spending - despite the gross overpayment for medical care which the US system involves.

By Nick Gotts, OM (not verified) on 26 Dec 2008 #permalink

(in this case, it wasn't the opposing party, it was the economic collapse from war spending
This makes no sense. You might as well argue "the economic collapse from health spending" since public health care expenditures in the US equal defense spending. In fact, American wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are relatively tiny in terms of economic burden compared to Medicare, Medicaid and so on.

I made an error as I was haphazardly editing. Mea Culpa. You are right, it makes no sense in that context. The point goes to you.

It should have read: "economic collapse resulting from unbridled greed, and unprecedented war spendingexpenditures..."
I believe I also cut out something about fuel costs and maimed soldiers. It can be boiled down to Cheney/Bush & Co bad. Bank loans bad. Fuel prices driven to ridiculous prices by speculators bad. War Bad. Financial crisis bad. -and all on the Bush Administration's watch. Dems didn't blow whistles or call them out on it, The populace got hit where they are most vulnerable - patriotism and economy.
In my defense, I've been nursing a dram or three of Drambuie & single malt Scotch.

The tribe of fundie morons has to differentiate themselves from the other tribes. So they go creo, prolife, hate a bunch of demons and so on.

Sorry Raven, but that's a false premise. Fundies never worry about how fashionable or passe their thinking is.

Aha! Of course they worry a lot about their sort of thinking. You pointed it out yourself. What matters to fundies is....what other fundies think! For the hardcore, their eternal afterlife is also on the line. What the fake people of the pretend tribes think about their mythology or whether it is true or not is not important.

You need to brush up on your politics and sociology. And realize that your Fake Tribe opinion is valueless to Real Xian Morons(tm). Within the fundie tribe, cohesion and conformity is maintained by shared mythology backed up by punishment of heretics and blashemers, and reinforced by in group out group dynamics. These days, heretics, apostates, and blashemers are no long allowed by the state to be hung or burned at the stake. There are still sanction available, loss of family, inability to find mates, ostracism in the community, excommunication, and so on. Since the USA is a big diverse place, many of them defect and live normal lives. And they can and still do hate the right out group Demons.

The average fundie isn't going to figure this out, being raised to not think or question with ignorance as a virtue. They really aren't even that engaged with questions of truth or lies. Some of the leadership knows it but they don't care either. Tribes have to have a few chiefs and a lot of indians. How much money does Warren make by spouting lies and how much would it cost him to tell the truth?

Posted by: Notkieran | December 26, 2008

Feynmaniac @#405

>Hmm, I wonder if I can make a woman out of my rib.......wow, I really need a girlfriend.

You do realise that the result would be sleeping with your twin sister, who is furthermore genetically male?

Worked for Adam, somehow. Damn, I guess the big sky daddy is a miracle worker after all.

By Janine, Vile Bitch (not verified) on 26 Dec 2008 #permalink

Over four hours ago I wrote a post for Niel's blog explaining how he's suffering from fatwah envy and why few European, American or Australian atheists would be taking up his challenge to be nasty to Muslims. I was polite and non-confrontational in my post. Since then another post has be posted but not mine. Just now I wrote another post basically calling him a coward for feeling the need to moderate posts and for not posting my post.

By 'Tis Himself (not verified) on 26 Dec 2008 #permalink

The inclusion of mainstream Judeo-Christian perspective on the national US stage at a time of ceremony, like the inaugural, is not new, it is not surprising, it is deeply rooted in US history, it is intended to provide a traditional moral/ethical context to certain challenges the country may be facing. That's it. What the pastor idiotically thinks of evolution, dinosaurs and man is totally irrelevant, and I don't know why so many people waste so much time responding to PZ's quotes from Rick Warren. So what? Who cares? The truth of science will continue to prevail. The people from the science community that Obama is bringing into the administration will make a huge difference in national policy on research priorities, scientific honesty in policy development, science education and rational thinking, hopefully by example. All these blog responses make for a good bunch of entertaining rants and mutual masturbation, PZ, but it is truly a tempest in a teapot. The facts of true progress that will be made with an intelligent new administration, ongoing "culture wars" notwithstanding, are more important for on-the-ground change. This will last for the next 8 years and beyond. Rick Warren's invocation will last for 5 minutes - and I'll bet he won't say anything about dinosaurs.

By Vernantar (not verified) on 26 Dec 2008 #permalink

I made a mistake here. The birds and tetrapods AFTER man but BEFORE woman.

Birds ARE tetrapods.

I'm glad neil got slapped around a bit :) He was annoying me lol.

"You do realise that the result would be sleeping with your twin sister, who is furthermore genetically male?"

Wow, Super incest! And yet we all aren't Jews- or amusingly, white peopele according to the illistrations; i guess that's where Lillith comes into the story huh?
/opens can of worms

I can't help but think of Charlie Wilson's War in reading all about this political pander talk.

Sorry OT all of it. ;)

E.V. said:

In my defense, I've been nursing a dram or three of Drambuie & single malt Scotch.

Wow! You use single-malt Scotch to make a Rusty Nail? Uh...can I borrow some money?

Let me just echo Vernantar: what a freakin' tempest in a teapot. Two words: Jane Lubchenco. The world will not long remember what Rick Warren says or does in a few weeks, but the world's ecosystems WILL remember what Dr. Lubchenco does for them.

There's show-biz, and there's substance. I care not a whit for the former, and we've all been begging for the latter. Don't get your knickers in a twist about Warren: he's irrelevant.

By Josh Hayes (not verified) on 26 Dec 2008 #permalink

Thank You Mr. Hayes. I third the opinion of a TiT- puns sure to follow. I still think that this was a move to the center- or was meant to be interpreted as such. Politics, remember, isn't about destroying your enemy- it is about Using them.

Even If Warren says some monumentally stupid things, the one who will come off far the worse for it is Warren and his base. Perhaps that's the idea? He is just a red herring at best, or a fake mouthpiece at worst.

The facts of true progress that will be made with an intelligent new administration, ongoing "culture wars" notwithstanding,

Yeah, those silly little culture wars on the sidelines of real political history, which is made in a few government departments. Oh, wait. Those "culture wars" feature a powerful religious right led by people like Warren which has been successful in shaping policy denying fundamental human rights to women and the LGBT community and continues its organized efforts on these fronts. A religious right that fights tooth and nail against the secular agenda Obama claimed to be promoting. In other words, the people whose influence in US politics his base opposes and sought to curtail by electing him.

Eric,

Thank you for the informed and sensible posts. I appreciate one who attempts to present a well-informed and well-reasoned perspective. I find it rather disappointing that so many here are bound by their prejudices against religion that they are unwilling or unable to actually engage another in a civil discussion on the matter. Strange how discussing religion can at times turn both theists and non-theists into babbling idiots who express their opinions with the maturity of an 4 year old child, isn't it?

By William Hilbright (not verified) on 26 Dec 2008 #permalink

@ 431,

Strange how discussing religion can at times turn both theists and non-theists into babbling idiots who express their opinions with the maturity of an 4 year old child, isn't it?

No it isnt.
Debating deluded brainwashed reason-resistant christians again and again will drive the bravest sanest most patient and polite person up a tree at some point.

But you didnt mean it that way,did you.

Yes, strange how discussing religion can make such pompous asses out of people.

ill-informed and arrogant posts

Fixed.

Strange how discussing religion can at times turn both theists and non-theists into babbling idiots who express their opinions with the maturity of an 4 year old child, isn't it?

Strange how some people can't be bothered to read an entire thread, in this case including a link to the analysis of a historian of science destroying eric's substantive arguments and a conversation with gabriel which concluded when he signed off with "Sleep warm, and thanks for the conversation," isn't it? Someone has his troll-vision goggles on, I see.

@SC, 434

I have read a number of Eric's posts, and these are from which I have drawn my conclusions. I will not speculate as to why he has chosen not to respond. That said, I want to look at your conclusion about Thony Christie 'destroying' Stark's argument.

First, consider the material. Christie is responding to three short citations from the book which were posted as the "foundational tenets" of the work. They were posted by someone who admittedly was unable to "read [Stark] critically." So, how does Christie know these are the foundational tenets of the work? He never mentions having read the work, and seems to assume the person who posted them was correct. If Christie is critiquing the entire book on the basis of three citations and never having read the book, woe is such a bad historian.

Second, consider your response. How do you know Christie destroyed the arguments? Have you read Stark's work? Sure, you have seen a few brief quotes from the work, but how do you know these quotes were not taken from a larger context? Thus, unless you have actually read, woe is your for being a lemming. You have not engaged in critical thought, but rather have merely accepted that which confirms your preconceptions and with authority.

By William Hilbright (not verified) on 26 Dec 2008 #permalink

@435, myself

Tsk, tsk. "woe is your" = "woe are you"

By William Hilbright (not verified) on 26 Dec 2008 #permalink

The facts of true progress that will be made with an intelligent new administration,

I predict many grievous disappointments for you over the next four years.

-jcr

By John C. Randolph (not verified) on 26 Dec 2008 #permalink

Ok,Im tempted,but Im watching Carlin's last HBO special...

I let SC deal with this hillbilly fellow.....

@438

Tempted to what? Show me how it's acceptable to judge an entire book which one has not read based on a few brief citations?

By William Hilbright (not verified) on 26 Dec 2008 #permalink

You've said eric has made informed and sensible posts. From that I can tell you are already full of shit, given the weeks of eric avoiding questions and making false analogies to prove his point. His posts after a time read as nothing more than mental masturbation, and he's unwilling to concede on anything even when he's called out on speaking absolute nonsense.

Have you read Stark's work? Sure, you have seen a few brief quotes from the work, but how do you know these quotes were not taken from a larger context? Thus, unless you have actually read, woe is your for being a lemming.

I wrote 1000 page book. Here's a passage: 1+1=3. Now you may argue with that statement, but unless you read the entire book you're just being a lemming.

So, how does Christie know these are the foundational tenets of the work? He never mentions having read the work, and seems to assume the person who posted them was correct. If Christie is critiquing the entire book on the basis of three citations and never having read the book, woe is such a bad historian.

Where did Christie say he/she is critiquing the entire book? It seems quite clear from the post it's just a critique of the 3 passages provided.

Tempted to what?

To this .

By Feynmaniac (not verified) on 26 Dec 2008 #permalink

Feyny,

LOL

William Hilbright @435:

[1] I want to look at your conclusion about Thony Christie 'destroying' Stark's argument.
[2] First, consider the material. Christie is responding to three short citations from the book which were posted as the "foundational tenets" of the work. They were posted by someone who admittedly was unable to "read [Stark] critically." So, how does Christie know these are the foundational tenets of the work? He never mentions having read the work, and seems to assume the person who posted them was correct. If Christie is critiquing the entire book on the basis of three citations and never having read the book, woe is such a bad historian. [...]
[3] Second, consider your response. How do you know Christie destroyed the arguments? Have you read Stark's work?

1. The quote is "[reading] an entire thread, in this case including a link to the analysis of a historian of science destroying eric's substantive arguments", inasmuch as eric referred to the author of said quotes as authoritative, and the topic is similar. But the argument she considers vitiated thereby is eric's, not Stark's.
2. Nothing was said about foundational, the quote is "He then produced three short quotes from the book as representative of Stark's thesis." Representative, not foundational. Also, the critique is limited to those specific quotes, so Thony makes no assumption about the book, nor is he critiquing the book - only those quotes from it.
3. She knows because she can read and understand what she reads, something that your comment indicates is beyond you.

By John Morales (not verified) on 26 Dec 2008 #permalink

Um, I see Feynmaniac beat me to it. Ah well.

By John Morales (not verified) on 27 Dec 2008 #permalink

Here's eric's argument, in the form of a reference.

See Rodney Stark's "The Victory of Reason," which traces much of the progress of the West to the fact that it is in the West that theology proper (understood as 'formal reasoning about god') began, and why there were no ancient Greek, Jain, or Hindu 'theologians' (keep in mind the reference to *formal* reasoning about god, which means strictly logical reasoning; you don't see this in the East, and you don't see it among the ancient Greeks, though you do see something of it in Islam; there is a big difference, however, between how theology among Christians and Muslims is done, since Muslims necessarily begin with the premise that the Qu'ran was dictated from god, while most Christian theologians take factors like the sitz im leben into account when thinking about their scriptures).

This claim was successfully countered in that post and in its comments. If you have specific, substantive arguments to the points Thony C. made, you should post them in the comments there. If you believe that he or the commenters there were misrepresenting Stark's work in a fundamental way or failing to engage with its evidence, same thing.

Certainly, eric, as you note, hasn't done so. He behaved in his characteristic manner, as described by Kel. Then you appear to compliment him on his thoughtful and well-argued posts while snidely commenting that you "find it rather disappointing that so many here are bound by their prejudices against religion that they are unwilling or unable to actually engage another in a civil discussion on the matter." Your snotty meta-analysis of these exchanges is a transparent dodge. If you have something of substance to say, then fucking say it. Your concern is noted.

Morales,

Nothing was said about foundational

Adam, the guy providing citations, does call them foundational tenets . Hillbright should have been clearer because he does make it sound like Christie is calling them the "foundational tenets", where in fact he/she calls them "representative", as you noted.

P.S. Can you do that thing where you make the entire thread go in italics again?

By Feynmaniac (not verified) on 27 Dec 2008 #permalink

Um, I see Feynmaniac beat me to it. Ah well.

And you both beat me!

Short, snarky remarks will always beat the well thought out ones!

By Feynmaniac (not verified) on 27 Dec 2008 #permalink

I wonder if William Hilbright would have come to the same conclusion with erics (paraphrased argument) God is immaterial, thoughts are immaterial, you don't need to measure thoughts to know they exist, therefore you don't need to measure God, and I won't provide any evidence because I can rationalise God purely through thoughts! Would he still call eric informed and sensible? I'd say yes.

Obama is building a pretty impresive and progressive team wich should have a lasting impact on the USA and beyond. Appointing Warren for this one time event,seems to be just another shrewd move,by this gifted politician.

By foreign observer (not verified) on 27 Dec 2008 #permalink

@440

Well, you're entitled to your opinion.

@441

Sigh. The quotes, provided an admittedly uninformed individual, are being presented as the "foundational tenets" and "representative of Stark's thesis." How does we know this? How does the historian know this? Without reading the book, no one can. Christie takes the uninformed individual's word (see the representative remark), and proceeds to attack these quotes without any other knowledge about them. That is bad scholarship.

@443

1. Eric's "argument" is providing a reference which contains material about the contributions of theology. Christie's argument does not address this.
2. "Stark's thesis" is pretty clearly the central argument of the book.
3. Yawn.

@445

Eric's point was not about the side comments. It was about providing a reference for the contributions of theology. Of course, if I have misunderstood Eric, he can feel free to correct me.

My point of contention with Christie is he/she attacked another's work without due diligence necessary of a scholar. If Christie is, indeed, a professional or qualified historian of science, then he/she should not have engaged the quotations without verifying that they were indeed being presented properly. That is bad scholarship. Whether Christie misrepresented the work of Stark, I do not know. I have never read the work.

By William Hilbright (not verified) on 27 Dec 2008 #permalink

Brandon P #17, that question was very effectively answered by the deluded folks at the creation museum in my wonderfully backward state of Kentucky. Ken Ham and his psychotic friends simply said that the reason the dinosaurs didn't eat everything they came in contact with was because, and you'll love this, the Lion (The King of the Beast's) "protected the people and animals from them". I can barely type this without wanting to vomit all over my keyboard.

@449

Yes, I would still considered him informed and sensible. Why? Because being informed and sensible does not mean one will always make good arguments. However, he has routinely shown himself to be better read than most of those responding to his comments.

By William Hilbright (not verified) on 27 Dec 2008 #permalink

back to the original story, if the Dino's were really wiped out via the asteroid impact, what happened to the people. Did A&A have a go all over again? If so why didn't they get it right the second go-round? The tree of knowledge, hah!

Well, you're entitled to your opinion.

I am, just as you are yours. But if you are going to call a polished turd an art masterpiece, then I'm going to tell you why you are full of shit. eric is a manipulator of words with a long track record of speaking nonsense. To take the few posts he's made and our reaction to them as us being childish, then it shows how much of a hypocrite you are. Especially when you complain about us not reading the book cover to cover when you are effectively doing the same here.Go fuck yourself you self-righteous hypocritical arsehole!Yes, I would still considered him informed and sensible. Why? Because being informed and sensible does not mean one will always make good arguments. However, he has routinely shown himself to be better read than most of those responding to his comments.Your opinion is noted, and eric is still nothing more than a mental masturbator. Go fuck yourself you self-righteous hypocritical arsehole!

Hilbright,

The quotes, provided an admittedly uninformed individual, are being presented as the "foundational tenets" and "representative of Stark's thesis."

Christie never calls them "foundational tenets" in the post.

How does we know this? How does the historian know this?

You can read the Product Description and see the quotes provided are consistent with the description of the book.

My point of contention with Christie is he/she attacked another's work without due diligence necessary of a scholar.

He/she didn't attack the book, just those statements provided. Furthermore, the post was written on a blog, not a journal. That doesn't require the same level of diligence.

If you still believe Christie did something wrong respond to him/her here .

By Feynmaniac (not verified) on 27 Dec 2008 #permalink

Eric's "argument" is providing a reference which contains material about the contributions of theology. Christie's argument does not address this.

Read that post and the comments again, and try using your brain this time.

My point of contention with Christie is he/she attacked another's work without due diligence necessary of a scholar. If Christie is, indeed, a professional or qualified historian of science, then he/she should not have engaged the quotations without verifying that they were indeed being presented properly. That is bad scholarship. Whether Christie misrepresented the work of Stark, I do not know. I have never read the work.

Christie is a man. He never claims to be responding to anything other than those quotations. Nor does he state that he has not read the entire book; that's your assumption, though it's of course possible as well as entirely irrelevant.

Whether Christie misrepresented the work of Stark, I do not know. I have never read the work.

Lame!

Yes, I would still considered him informed and sensible. Why? Because being informed and sensible does not mean one will always make good arguments. However, he has routinely shown himself to be better read than most of those responding to his comments.

FFS, it doesn't matter how much you've read if you haven't read intelligently and critically and if the knowledge you've thereby gleaned cannot be marshalled in the service of good, solid, defensible arguments. You don't read for a fucking internet merit badge. Eric's comments are chock full of logical fallacies and weak analogies, presented with a sneering tone of false superiority. Others here are capable of making arguments without resorting to a string of citations, though in my experience if someone does cite a source she's generally ready to back it up in her own words. Eric, in contrast, flung out a reference as he exited the thread and didn't return to address the arguments made against it. That is extremely poor form, and there's nothing civil about it.

I'll note also that you never addressed my point about the discussion with gabriel, which - despite the fact that his own opening post was a bit belligerent and he's rather confused about atheism - was for the most part civil, as he acknowledged in his parting comment. You made a claim about the discussion here and then when called on it you acted just like eric, tapdancing away to try to make another unsubstantiated and irrelevant point. Your purpose here is clear.

Lovely. Now even the liberal Dems are pandering to the idiot anti-rationalists.

Just waking up and I see Kseniya's and JeffreyD's names in the comments - that is lovely! Hope you're both doing well.

:)

Oh hiya JeffreyD and Kseniya,2 voices I havent heard here for a while !!!

SC,
i just watched Religulous,its quite funny...
Off to bed...

clinteas,

I saw it at the theater with MAJeff the day it opened. I found it entertaining, too. Can someone provide a link to the full film on YouTube? I was only able to find the trailer.

Wow! You use single-malt Scotch to make a Rusty Nail? Uh...can I borrow some money?

Don't get too excited Lurkbot. The Single Malt is an old Xmas gift from a friend and I'm all out of blended scotch. (and now out of Drambuie, dammit)

William Hilbright: All you're missing is a "harrumph!" You and Eric deserve one another.

SC: Wow, you are especially formidable lately. Remind me to stay on your good side.

SC: Wow, you are especially formidable lately. Remind me to stay on your good side.

Wow (sticking with the theme)! That's quite a compliment. I'm truly flattered - thanks!

K! Stick around!

By Sven DiMilo (not verified) on 27 Dec 2008 #permalink

@451, William Hilbright:

Whether Christie misrepresented the work of Stark, I do not know. I have never read the work.

Previously:

Sigh. The quotes, provided an admittedly uninformed individual, are being presented as the "foundational tenets" and "representative of Stark's thesis." How does we know this? How does the historian know this? Without reading the book, no one can. Christie takes the uninformed individual's word (see the representative remark), and proceeds to attack these quotes without any other knowledge about them. That is bad scholarship.

Adam is not "an admittedly uninformed individual", the only thing he admits he doesn't "know enough to read him critically, yet". He means he doesn't know enough about the background of the subject Stark is discussing, he isn't "admitting" his ignorance of Stark's work, quite the opposite, he says he's currently reading Stark's work. You, on the other hand, have fully admitted your ignorance of Stark's work.

By Citizen Z (not verified) on 27 Dec 2008 #permalink

You, on the other hand, have fully admitted your ignorance of Stark's work.

Of course, he was only droning on about Thony C. as a means of evading my larger point, which was that people had responded to eric's substantive arguments and it was he who had scurried off rather than engage them. That point would have been made even if I had said "addressed" rather than "destroyed," and indeed even if Thony C.'s post had been totally weak (which it was not).

To say "Well, we elected this guy so he could create 'change', so let's sit back and give him a chance to go to work" is, in my opinion, not only to shoot ourselves in the foot but to misundertand fundamentally what democracy is, or should be, about.

That would definitely be a destructive sort of wishful thinking - I was merely trying to enumerate my own personal reasons for holding off on the scathing criticisms and predictions of the directions he will take until Jan 20th, when he actually has a chance to take his first steps in those directions as President.

If I came across seeming to suggest that we should all - as a collective citizenry - lay off and leave the onus on Obama to do as he has promised, I certainly see the problems you have with that idea. We're on the same page in the sense that I believe a democracy starts to die the minute its citizens tune out and allow their voice to be drowned out or co-opted by politicians, and I also believe that we're long past the first signs of that sort of death in our democracy, though not so far as to be unsalvageable.

On a side note, Chomsky is - IMHO - the most credible and intelligent mind when it comes to American foreign policy and global conduct that there is today. I've recently read two books from his American Empire Project (Hegemony or Survival and What We Say Goes), and each one moved my political viewpoint significantly over the three years since I returned from overseas.

An election is one event in the course of ongoing struggles for change. The people who make up these movements, who develop and debate agendas, and who sometimes elect politicians to implement changes, are the real political actors there...

No disagreement at all there. My personal opinion is that politicians should be extensions of the citizens they represent, though they usually are not. Another reason I favored Obama in this election was the fact that he amassed and maintained a huge ground campaign in almost every state that was oriented on direct connection to the citizenry. (Also on that note, if he discards that connection now that he is elected, he will lose my favor, because one of the major reasons I voted for him was his proposal to use the internet to both revamp governmental access to the citizenry and ensure transparency in his administration and the government as a whole.)

(there's more adulation of Morales personally than I care for, but it's sometimes difficult to separate this from support for the movements and policies he represents)

I agree, and I can also see that same thing possibly happening here with Obama, especially if this tendency of immediate, reflexive defense of the man continues even after he takes office and sets his agenda in motion. IMO, even if I agree with the direction a politician is taking with his policies, there is always room for criticism - and thus improvement - even if (and to me, especially if) I like the politician and the overall direction he or she is taking.

I would like to see something like the phenomenon of the New Left in the '60s which grew and radicalized during and after Kennedy's candidacy and presidency - despite the fact that he was no radical himself - (continue to?) emerge during Obama's. But this won't happen if people see the election itself as the definitive moment and look to him for fundamental change, and certainly not if people view elected politicians as military-type figures.

I agree, and I certainly disagree with the notion that a politician should necessarily have military experience, or even that military experience qualifies a politician for an office in a democratically elected civilian government - one of the main reasons I abhorred McCain's campaign. The military reference I made was simply an observation on my part as to why I identified with Obama's message of personal responsibility in the chief executive - the majority of my experience has been in the military, and as such, concepts of leadership that I learned while there tend to color my worldview. I certainly did not mean to imply that he was in any way a military-style leader. Having been in the military for ten years, all at the level of line units (as opposed to high or even mid-level command), I saw what the high command's preferred leadership style was, and I did not like it one bit. (Which was one reason I never even wanted to be promoted past Captain...) In my mind, Obama's lack of military service was a positive attribute when considering his qualifications for the office, because I believe it is essential to a democracy to have a chief executive with a largely civilian bank of experience. This is because, in my opinion, the armed forces should have the military expperience area covered, and to have a President who spent a great deal of time in the military is to neglect the necessary civilian input that must exist for the balance to work correctly.

brokensoldier,

I think we've reached something very close to agreement!* Probably what put me in argumentative mode were your remarks on the previous thread about "rallying behind" him and showing a "modicum of restraint" in our criticism. But it would be (was?) unfair of me to pull those phrases from the larger context of your comments and suggest that they meant something they didn't. I appreciate that you've taken the time to explain your views, especially after my "willingly participated" crack, which was unwarranted and about which I still feel terrible.

On a side note, Chomsky is - IMHO - the most credible and intelligent mind when it comes to American foreign policy and global conduct that there is today.I've recently read two books...and each one moved my political viewpoint significantly over the three years since I returned from overseas.

Yes, we anarchists can be quite convincing. :P

*Just to be clear, my remark about the possible evidence of possible adulation of Morales was intended to provide a bit of nuance to Chomsky's presentation of that case as a total contrast to the US case. I agree with his characterization of the situation there and that it offers a very real contrast with electoral politics in the US.

Probably what put me in argumentative mode were your remarks on the previous thread about "rallying behind" him and showing a "modicum of restraint" in our criticism.

Noted, and I agree those were both poor choices of wording - at least in the sense that they suggested others should follow my own notions in those respects.

I appreciate that you've taken the time to explain your views, especially after my "willingly participated" crack, which was unwarranted and about which I still feel terrible.

You shouldn't feel terrible - I understand where that comes from, and I don't hold it against you or anyone else, provided I'm given a chance to explain my feelings on that particular subject. I tend to get testy when someone continues to insist upon the idea that I actually wanted to go to war.

And conversely, I apologize for the idealist cracks - they were ill-advised and quite snarky. It is a mistake I won't make again, I promise. ;)

Yes, we anarchists can be quite convincing. :P

Indeed - I told my father once a few months ago that if I read many more of his works (which I'm fully planning to do), I just might be pulled in myself!

@455

I am not defending Stark, thus it is unnecessary for me to read his work.

@456

"representative of Stark's thesis" - Enough said.

@457

Read that post and the comments again, and try using your brain this time.

I did. Eric's point was providing a reference on the contributions of theology. The parenthetical comments were minor and irrelevant to his major point.

Christie is a man. He never claims to be responding to anything other than those quotations. Nor does he state that he has not read the entire book; that's your assumption, though it's of course possible as well as entirely irrelevant.

Does Christie rely on a third party to summarize Stark's work? Yes. Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude Christie has never read the book.

Eric's comments are chock full of logical fallacies and weak analogies, presented with a sneering tone of false superiority.

I have not found Eric's comments to be 'chocked full' of logical fallacies and weak analogies. I have found most of them to be well-reasoned and well-informed. I would agree not all of his posts have been, but a significant portion of what has been read.

Sneering tone of false superiority? Pot meet kettle.

I'll note also that you never addressed my point about the discussion with gabriel.

I did not address it because it wasn't relevant to my comments. Of course, it seems you're jumping to conclusions about the nature of eric, gabriel, and myself. And, strangely, you're doing this with no evidence whatsoever. How ironic.

@465

Adam is not "an admittedly uninformed individual", the only thing he admits he doesn't "know enough to read him critically, yet". He means he doesn't know enough about the background of the subject Stark is discussing, he isn't "admitting" his ignorance of Stark's work, quite the opposite, he says he's currently reading Stark's work. You, on the other hand, have fully admitted your ignorance of Stark's work.

My statement was unclear. My apologies. And yes, I do admit my ignorance of Stark. Of course, it doesn't matter because I am not defending Stark.

By William Hilbright (not verified) on 27 Dec 2008 #permalink

Does Christie rely on a third party to summarize Stark's work? Yes. Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude Christie has never read the book.

No (or at least you have no way of knowing this from the evidence provided). He responds to the specific quotations that were presented to him. It is reasonable to conclude that he hasn't read it, but you can't assume this. Nor can you assume he hasn't read anything else about it. And again, it's entirely irrelevant.

I did. Eric's point was providing a reference on the contributions of theology. The parenthetical comments were minor and irrelevant to his major point.

The parenthetical comments were not at all minor, as they formed the basis for the argument about the mechanism through which theology allegedly promoted logical reasoning and a desire to understand empirical reality in a way that didn't exist in other cultural contexts and was conducive to the growth of science or "progress." This was addressed in that post and in the comments.

I have not found Eric's comments to be 'chocked full' of logical fallacies and weak analogies. I have found most of them to be well-reasoned and well-informed. I would agree not all of his posts have been, but a significant portion of what has been read.

I left out the hyphen, but "chock-full" is the expression. It's unwise to try to correct someone if you don't know what you're talking about, especially if you're trying to show that you're not a pompous ass. People have been debating with eric for weeks, and making strong and well-informed arguments in the process. And then you show up to say how much you appreciate his well-informed and thoughtful contributions, while calling his interlocutors childish. Who are you, his big brother? In any case, in order for you to recognize his arguments as well-informed, or as better-informed than those of the other participants in the debate, you would have to be at least equally well-informed as all involved. If you are, then you can fucking jump in with a substantive contribution at any time. I'm still waiting.

Sneering tone of false superiority? Pot meet kettle.

I'll leave it to everyone else to judge the accuracy of that.

I did not address it because it wasn't relevant to my comments.

Of course it was. Your opening salvo:

Eric,

Thank you for the informed and sensible posts. I appreciate one who attempts to present a well-informed and well-reasoned perspective. I find it rather disappointing that so many here are bound by their prejudices against religion that they are unwilling or unable to actually engage another in a civil discussion on the matter. Strange how discussing religion can at times turn both theists and non-theists into babbling idiots who express their opinions with the maturity of an 4 year old child, isn't it?

The fact that a civil discussion on the matter of religion had just taken place with gabriel is evidence against your condescending claim about how "so many here are bound by their prejudices against religion that they are unwilling or unable to actually engage another in a civil discussion on the matter." (And please don't insult anyone's intelligence by suggesting that you weren't seeking to characterize the commenters here in contrast to eric.) Both that and my comment about windy's post (which, it should be noted, followed a snarky jab by eric about Amazon comments at which she didn't snark back) were directly in response to your post.

Of course, it seems you're jumping to conclusions about the nature of eric, gabriel, and myself. And, strangely, you're doing this with no evidence whatsoever. How ironic.

I have no idea what you mean by this. My only conclusion about you, which is based entirely on your comments thus far, is that you posted originally to insult people here and put up eric as a praiseworthy contrast and you weren't going to let the evidence of anyone's actual behavior stand in the way of your presentation of it. I also conclude that you've added nothing of substance or value to the discussion. I sincerely hope that at some point you are able and see fit to do so, because so far you've just been a content-free asshole.

Indeed - I told my father once a few months ago that if I read many more of his works (which I'm fully planning to do), I just might be pulled in myself!

wOOt!

In any case, in order for you to recognize his arguments as well-informed, or as better-informed than those of the other participants in the debate, you would have to be at least equally well-informed as all involved.

Well, this might have been stated too strongly. But what I'm getting at is that anyone can make a claim to greater expertise in a field, and anyone can simply refer to a book. That shouldn't impress anyone as being well-informed. Citing ideologically-driven work by someone in my discipline (though not my subfield) and then not sticking around to defend it when others point you to criticisms from scholars in other disciplines is not very impressive, as far as I'm concerned. I don't know why it would impress you.

[Apologies for the rapid-fire posts.]

But what I'm getting at is that anyone can make a claim to greater expertise in a field,

And I'll add that formal study in a field is not necessary to make or substantiate a compelling argument. All the time here I see people who aren't scholars in the social sciences make really interesting and convincing sociohistorical arguments that make me think. And they do so without insulting those with whom they are arguing.

Too bad the prize for "How-Far-Can-You-Go-As-A-Pandering-Dunderhead" was already claimed by Palin.

Argh, look what I started. I didn't intend the link to Thony C's post as a end-all refutation, but at the very least it should make you very wary of accepting eric's arguments at face value.

William Hilbright:

Yes, I would still considered him informed and sensible. Why? Because being informed and sensible does not mean one will always make good arguments.

And being well read does not automatically make you informed and sensible.

However, he has routinely shown himself to be better read than most of those responding to his comments.

Better read than BobC or Katharine, but most people? Please show your work.

For example, I am interested in what you made of this:
*formal* reasoning about god, which means strictly logical reasoning; you don't see this in the East, and you don't see it among the ancient Greeks

Would you argue that this remark shows that eric is well informed about ancient Greeks? Why or why not?

I doubt gabriel's going to check back in, but in case he does, I thought he might be interested in this interview from last month with the author of Inerrant the Wind, Robert Price:

http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/11/radio_reminder_37.php

(I really didn't expect to be recommending it so often, but it does seem relevant to a number of discussions and I keep hoping someone will respond.)

When I show the episode, I don't know if my students realize how precious Mr. Bean's nativity scene-scene is in Merry Christmas Mr. Bean. T-rex and Jebus together!

I don't see what's the big problem here.Rick Warren happens to reject some scientific theory that PZ happend to accept.
Would anyone be angry if he rejected the theory of relativity or quantum mechanics.

Would anyone be angry if he rejected the theory of relativity or quantum mechanics.

As a staunch Einsteinian, I would!

facilis - Look $2 troll, lying about scientific facts in favor of an imaginary sky fairy makes quite a lot of people angry.

So does using the same fairy to extort money, sex and mind control.

I looked at your blog facilis, what does jezus's brother converting to christianity have to do with anything? Don't you have a problem with jezus even having a brother?

By Patricia, OM (not verified) on 27 Dec 2008 #permalink

lying about scientific facts in favor of an imaginary sky fairy makes quite a lot of people angry.

Where have I lied about scientific facts?

I looked at your blog facilis, what does jezus's brother converting to christianity have to do with anything?

That's because he was a hostile eyewitness.

Don't you have a problem with jezus even having a brother?

No

Where have I lied about scientific facts?

Rick Warren has, he's taking one of the strongest theories in science and telling people it didn't happen. And why?

I've been contemplating this, and I think I see the source of some of gabriel's (and perhaps eric's) confusion. Some people, perhaps, see the number of posts here related to fundamentalists/creationists and assume, incorrectly, that they are my (I'll speak only for myself here) key intellectual opponents. They're not. Whatever the reason for their astonishing delusions - and I do think it's important to try to understand how and why people come to hold and maintain them, as only by doing so can we hope to change them - their beliefs are ridiculous. I would be content to ignore, mock, or try to educate them as the circumstances warranted if they were not a political threat. But they are. Their views in action have real policy implications - they're denying or trying to deny me and others our basic human rights, and they've been very successful.

That doesn't mean that I don't recognize that there are less literal interpretations of the Bible or more "moderate" forms of Christianity, or that rejecting fundamentalism is at the root of my atheism. I'm an atheist because there is no evidence of any deities. The clinging to ever-shrinking gaps in our knowledge of natural processes to try to squeeze in some supernatural explanation I find simply sad if interesting). The specific mythology that is Christianity is only important to me insofar as it has a corrosive social impact and insofar as it, along with a number of other irrational beliefs, hinders the progress of the reason/evidence-based approach that is desperately needed if the planet and we as a species are to survive and thrive.

Most excellent SC - that's why you deserve that Molly!

OK facilis, kudo's to you for being a $2 troll. Please cite the scripture for jezus's brother being a hostile witness. I'm having a memory failure on that topic.

Why don't you have a problem with jezus having brothers and sisters? We are supposed to believe Mary was a virgin - before and after the supposed birth of jezus.

By Patricia, OM (not verified) on 27 Dec 2008 #permalink

SC, OM; I have just finsihed watching religulous (if you read this, thanks for the heads up clinteas :) ) and while it is a bit hit and miss, the ending where Bill is just talking to the camera is quite powerful and mirrors your last sentence perfectly.

By John Phillips, FCD (not verified) on 27 Dec 2008 #permalink

facilis #478 wrote:

I don't see what's the big problem here.Rick Warren happens to reject some scientific theory that PZ happend to accept. Would anyone be angry if he rejected the theory of relativity or quantum mechanics.

Yes. Ditto for the germ theory of disease, or the second law of thermodynamics. When an "informed layman" decides to reject major, well-established scientific theories because they conflict with his religion -- or because they conflict with his politics, his patriotism, or his self-esteem -- he is advocating a very dangerous approach to deciding truth.

Don't you agree?

"I wrote 1000 page book. Here's a passage: 1+1=3."-Feynmaniac

And that's why i hate zero. It's so inaccurate. I can see what you mean, but 1000 pages? Wow. In this case, wouldn't 2-0=3 as well? Anyway, i guess that's rather off topic...

Additionally, this is the case with biological beings isn't it? different maths for different situations. Quantum mechanics applies the unusual branch of matrices. Chemistry uses unusual math when you consider electron exchange and orbits. And genetically, 1 doesn't always even equal 1. Certainly with single celled critters, 1 divided by 2 equals 2. Anatomically in animals, 2=0, and 3=1, and 1+0=0/2,1/3; but now i'm just being silly :P

But still interesting to me is that numbers are just ways to show proofs in mathematics- and not actually integral to mathematics, which deals in the Transformations of these imaginary concepts through symbols with no inherent numerical value- the only exception is 0, and perhaps infinity- though that is no number at all. Even worse is that these symbols aren't even static, as the case could be made.

/Off topic

SC, OM #483

Amen, brother.

I work with a Hindu who has some different ideas about the world and the cosmos. I discuss them with him because it's a completely different philosophical and theological view than I'm used to. He realizes I don't accept his views and he isn't trying to convert me. In return I don't mock his beliefs. Nor is he trying to get his religion's particular ideas encoded into law and societal mores.

If the fundamentalists were minding their own business, taking a live and let live attitude towards the rest of us, I wouldn't give them a second thought. I'd treat them much as I do my Hindu friend, people with beliefs that I don't agree with. However, the difference between American Christian fundamentalists and this Hindu is that they are trying to force the rest of us to live by their ideas and ideals. Guess what, fundies, it's my country too. A country with separation of church and state. If you want to make creationism and the rest of your mythology part of American life, I'll fight you all the way. You leave me and mine alone and I'll be happy to reciprocate. You try to mess with me and mine, I mess right back.

By 'Tis Himself (not verified) on 27 Dec 2008 #permalink

That doesn't mean that I don't recognize that there are less literal interpretations of the Bible or more "moderate" forms of Christianity, or that rejecting fundamentalism is at the root of my atheism. I'm an atheist because there is no evidence of any deities. The clinging to ever-shrinking gaps in our knowledge of natural processes to try to squeeze in some supernatural explanation I find simply sad if interesting). The specific mythology that is Christianity is only important to me insofar as it has a corrosive social impact and insofar as it, along with a number of other irrational beliefs, hinders the progress of the reason/evidence-based approach that is desperately needed if the planet and we as a species are to survive and thrive.

Well said, fully agree with this. It seems such an obvious point too.

Ah, now I remember... facilis, if you cite St. Matthew 13:54-58 you will be digging your troll hole even deeper.

If you come up with something else, I will be happy to dig out the old 10 pounder (family bible) and look it up.

By Patricia, OM (not verified) on 27 Dec 2008 #permalink

@423 The inclusion of mainstream Judeo-Christian perspective on the national US stage at a time of ceremony, like the inaugural, is not new, it is not surprising, it is deeply rooted in US history,

Only if you consider 1933 to be deeply rooted in history, since that's when the tradition of religious prayers at the inauguration began. Indeed, there is no requirement that a Bible or any holy book be used to swear the new president in. In fact, he does not need to be "sworn in" at all and several presidents have "affirmed" rather than "swear" their oath of office. John Quincy Adams deserves our undying respect for choosing to affirm his oath on a book of U.S. Law, rather than a Bible. So let's not get too carried away with this, "deeply rooted in US history" nonsense.

We are supposed to believe Mary was a virgin - before and after the supposed birth of jezus.

No I'm protestant. That's a Catholic and Eastern orthodox doctrine. (I reject it because there seem to be evidence to the contrary- case in point James).
There are accounts of Jesus brother not believing in him (John 7:5).(this fits under critwerion of embarrasment as it would have been embarrasing to the Christians).
Josephus also recounts James' death

Tis Himself #488 wrote:

However, the difference between American Christian fundamentalists and this Hindu is that they are trying to force the rest of us to live by their ideas and ideals.

Well, in India ... not so much difference, perhaps. Off and on, I've been following the rise of Hindu political fundamentalism, and it's no better -- and arguably worse -- than what's happening in the US. Meera Nanda has had some excellent books and articles on how many Hindus are falsely claiming that their religious beliefs have "scientific" backing, and then throwing around the worst kind of pseudoscientific nonsense as authority. Sounds familiar.

Here's an essay written by an atheist in India, defending a very familiar question, only it's "why do you always criticize Hinduism so much?" Why not go after Islam, or Christianity, or some other religion? Why pick on us?

http://nirmukta.com/2008/09/30/why-i-criticize-hinduism-the-most/

The writer complains that India "... still has a highly conservative, semi-feudal setup with a significant presence of religio-fascist elements intolerant of any kind of criticism."

Given power, any religion is likely to get dangerous. It cannot persuade on common ground.

Yes. Ditto for the germ theory of disease, or the second law of thermodynamics. When an "informed layman" decides to reject major, well-established scientific theories because they conflict with his religion -- or because they conflict with his politics, his patriotism, or his self-esteem -- he is advocating a very dangerous approach to deciding truth.

Don't you agree?

I guess I do agree.
But Warren has his beliefs and I think while denying germ theory might cause harm to people I really can't think of what denying common descent could do.2wHis response seems honest to me though.
What puzzles me is that I've read a good deal of the bible and I've never seen anything that implies dinosaurs were living with Adam and Eve. (I think Rick Warren watched too many episodes of the Flintstones)

Posted by: facilis | December 27, 2008

Would anyone be angry if he rejected the theory of relativity or quantum mechanics.

I will speak as someone that is not a scientist nor a student. The answer is yes for that person is embracing and celebrating their ignorance. That person is taking their faith and using it to trump the knowledge that numerous people have worked very hard to gain. That is arrogance of the basest sort.

By Janine, Vile Bitch (not verified) on 27 Dec 2008 #permalink

Let me clarify. Mary was a virgin before Jesus' birth but not after. I think the bible plainly says that Joseph "knew' Mary after Jesus was born. catholics tend to ignore that verse

But Warren has his beliefs and I think while denying germ theory might cause harm to people I really can't think of what denying common descent could do.

Apart from teaching students to be ignorant, doctors creating drug-resistant bacteria because they over-prescribe anti-biotics, the treatment of animals as lower forms of life that man has dominion over, and destroying the foundation of the scientific method as the means of progress in our society... nothing at all.What's the harm? The harm is propagating ignorance for the sake of mythology. I can understand why people like Sam Harris go after the moderates, they are enablers of ignorance masquerading under the guise of tolerance.

SC, OM; I have just finsihed watching religulous (if you read this, thanks for the heads up clinteas :) ) and while it is a bit hit and miss, the ending where Bill is just talking to the camera is quite powerful and mirrors your last sentence perfectly.

Hee - I was just responding to clinteas' post about it earlier. Must have had the closing scene in the back of my head when I wrote that last sentence. :)

Since more people are around, I'll ask again: Can someone provide the link to it on YouTube? I can only find the trailer there, and don't think my computer could handle anything else. (And thanks for mentioning it elarier, Patricia.)

Amen, sister.

:)

Posted by: 'Tis Himself | December 27, 2008

SC, OM #483

Amen, brother.

Psst1 Not a brother, she is a sister.

By Janine, Vile Bitch (not verified) on 27 Dec 2008 #permalink