11/18/08

Michael Shermer - Moral Argument from Embarrassment

FYI: this post has been moved here.

30 comments:

  1. Hurrah! The Argument from Personal Experience!
    Now let me tell you about the man I know who used to be really bad until he found Allah, or turned to Buddhism, or tantric sex, or just gave up drinking, or the other guy who also used to be really good, but found one or more of those things and then voted for Prop 8, or kicked his son out of the house for deconverting, or blew himself up, all because it's what his God wanted, or any number of other people with any number of other lunacies.

    Anecdotes can prove anything.

    That's why they're anecdotal.

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  2. I must admit, Mariano, I have no idea what you're driving at here. That it's a bad idea to challenge a meth addict to kill you? I don't think you'll find much disagreement about that, from either atheists or believers.

    Yet you say:

    What would Michael Shermer’s attempts to embarrass him have accomplished? What would the void which atheism offers have done?

    What in the ever-lovin' brown-eyed world does Michael Shermer's atheism have to do with the potential for triggering a psycho to commit murder? I'm nonplussed.

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  3. "Yet, thanks be to God... [the bible] turned [my friend] into one of the nicest guys you would ever hope to meet."

    And clearly, there were no other factors. This is why rehab clinics and prisons bare a striking similarity in function and appearance to sunday schools.

    Your story causes me to speculate on many factors that I won't elaborate on, if only not to offend.

    Shermer's point remains the same -- someone who doesn't know if killing is ok or not without an external authority, is themselves NOT moral. It would be no different if, say, you had a friend who said that killing was wrong because that's what his father told him. If you remove his father from the scenario and ask him if he would kill you if his father hadn't barred it, you end up with the same scenario.

    Someone who has no internal rules of conduct and relies on an external authority for their morality is themselves not moral. At best, they imitate morality.


    Here's a hypothetical for you -- it's tangential, but perhaps interesting. Say there is someone in a universe where there is only a white, empty room, with him and one other person in it. Neither man has any prior knowledge of spirituality at all -- they are not theist or athiest, but rather a null set. (For sake of argument, that is.)

    They are then told, by indirect means -- a radio or something -- that there MIGHT be a god, who wishes them to kill the other man, and that as a decree of god is a moral choice. There is no certainty of this god, however.

    In this scenario, which is the moral act; to kill (for god) or to not kill (defying god)?

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  4. “If there is no God, what would you do morally? Would you kill me?”

    As usual, they miss the point. The question is not whether I would kill him. The questions is, if I did, what would be wrong with it?

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  5. "The questions is, if I did, what would be wrong with it?"

    Well it would be against the law in this country, plus you would be exposing yourself to the scorn and alienation of most of society. Plus I think it will affect your credit rating.

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  6. So scary, you think killing someone would affect your credit rating? But you don't say which way: positively, or negatively. Why the coyness?

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  7. Well it would be against the law in this country, plus you would be exposing yourself to the scorn and alienation of most of society.

    That doesn't make it immoral, just counter-cultural.

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  8. Modusoperandi;
    Anecdote is as anecdote does.
    I think that you missed that point that it is atheist that has nothing to offer in this regard.
    As for your anecdotes, please do regale us.
    aDios,
    Mariano

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  9. AGS, morality is and always will be a cultural expedient, no matter how you slice it. Even among Christianity and Biblical morality within its narrative timeframe.

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  10. Mariano "I think that you missed that point that it is atheist that has nothing to offer in this regard."
    And I think you miss the point that Mister X going from bad to good or good to bad after experiencing Y has nothing to do with the truth or untruth of Y.
    That's why resorting to anecdotes does nothing for the case for your God (or anybody else's, for that matter).
    The Argument from Personal Experience only works for the one who experienced it, and different Arguments from Personal Experience work equally well for all of the other people with similar, different, or incompatible personal experiences.
    In other words, this argument for your God works just as well for everybody else and their gods (or lack of them).
    Apologetics that "prove" their experiences are really of/from your God, or Satan, or their "fallen" state and whatnot aside, this argument doesn't strengthen the case for your God. It weakens it.

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  11. Mariano "As for your anecdotes, please do regale us."
    I have two Arguments from Personal Experience:
    1) Once, I woke up in the middle of the night. My room was virtually pitch black, with just that mild glow from the television (which was off), and the power LED from my computer as light sources (I lived in one room at the time).
    Sitting on the chair beside my bed was Death, in the flesh, as it were, watching my remote control and watching my TV. Two blinks later, it was gone, but I spent the rest of the night wide awake and shivering, with the cold sweats and Scooby Doo'ish chattering teeth.
    2) I was outside, after getting home from work at O'dark thirty in the morning, having a smoke before bed and mulling over the day's events. On the concrete retaining wall beside me I noticed a millipede, which is a rare sight in my part of the world. Watching it's multitude of legs move rhythmically, in remarkably coordinated manner, as it meandered almost randomly across the top of the barrier, I temporarily lost the sense of "I". For a second or a minute or ten minutes, "I" ceased to "be", and the "me without I" saw, for lack of a better term, the transcendent connectedness of all things. All things, from the sub-atomic scale of electrons and neutrons and such to the grand scale of the entire universe swept around the "me without I". More than that, the "me without I" was everything. Stars forming, stars dying, stars going super nova, their matter forming worlds, those worlds forming life, life growing, life dying, the matter of the dead becoming the stuff of the next generation; the "me without I" saw it all, or as much a finite mind can capture of a, on the human scale, practically infinite universe. It was magnificent, humbling and terrifying...and then I thought "Wow. I'm a part of all this", and with that single "I", "I" returned and the universe was as it was before, but coloured, brighter, in higher contrast than it was before. It happened years ago, and, while the experience still scares me, "I" miss the joy of catching a glimse of, well, everything.

    The first is easily and rationally dismissed as a hypnopomic hallucination. I would have been just as likely to have seen someone I know who's dead, someone I've heard of who's dead, or I could have had the alien abduction experience. Someone in earlier times would've been likely to see pixies or spirits or even the devil.
    The latter is far harder to get my meat-filled head around and, to this day, is the reason that I'm occasionally deist. Words simply cannot adequately describe that experience. Language isn't made to fit everything.

    And those are my anecdotes.

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  12. Modusoperandi;
    I think that you missed that point in thinking that I missed the point when I thought that you missed the point :o)

    The point is that atheist that has nothing to offer in this regard.
    Moreover, since an anecdote is an anecdote you misrepresent my post as being a case for God.

    As for your anecdote, I appreciate you sharing it and it was very interesting. It reminded me of a likewise millipedic experience that I once had—yet, I later discounted it as unrelated to reality.

    Although if you could point an astronomer to where “those worlds” formed life, that would be something else.

    aDios,
    Mariano

    PS: thanks for your participation on AiD.

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  13. Mariano:

    Let me give you an anecdote here, then.

    I once knew this guy; he went to church twice a week, always on sunday mornings. He was upstanding in the church and was well liked by his peers, in general -- smart, charming and confident. He had everything.

    Except at home he was a right bastard. He treated his wife like property and beat his kids, as a biblical literalist can infer from their texts. After a year or two, the home violence got worse, and his wife got the nerve to take the kids and run.

    He told me he didn't really realize at the time that his treatment of his family was so poor. But when he found out they left, he took to his car in a rage induced attempt to chase them down. Drove around, distraught for hours. Emotional and tired, it was only a matter of time until a mistake snuck in, and he almost cut off another driver. Realizing his mistake, he overcorrected and spun out, crashing in to a ditch off the highway and totalled his car.

    He always told me that was his turning point. He crawled out of the car and realized he was bleeding. To quote him, he told me, "It was right then I realized just how fragile life is, and there's nothing we can rely on to protect it except ourselves."

    He moved shortly after and sent his wife most of the money from the house; asked for forgiveness and left it to her to contact him if she ever could forgive him. Now he works for a non-profit company producing solar cells. He's more relaxed and says he's happier. And he's the nicest guy you could ever hope to know -- and he attributes that to his atheism.

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  14. Mariano "Moreover, since an anecdote is an anecdote you misrepresent my post as being a case for God."
    "Yet, thanks be to God it was the Gospel of the Messiah Jesus which took him from being a very tough, dangerous, malicious, gang-banger and drug addict/dealer and turned him into one of the nicest guys you would ever hope to meet."
    Am I confused, or is it just me?

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  15. mariano "As for your anecdote, I appreciate you sharing it and it was very interesting. It reminded me of a likewise millipedic experience that I once had—yet, I later discounted it as unrelated to reality."
    Now apply that to the works that were historically credited to Moses.

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  16. Etchainer;
    Two point to make:

    1) Happiness does not make atheism a cogent concept (which I am sure was your point in reverse).

    2) You wrote, “He treated his wife like property and beat his kids, as a biblical literalist can infer from their texts.”
    Sir, I appreciate your presence on AiD but am embarrassed for you for even imagining making such a fallacious statement much more so for posting it on the WORLD WIDE web for all to see.

    Modusoperandi;
    I took your advice, applied it to the works that were historically credited to Moses.
    Then to my parent’s claim to be my parents.
    Then to what historians tell us occurred in 1257 AD.
    Then to what my wife told me she did yesterday while I was at work.
    Then to what my friend told me he ate for lunch.
    Then to what biologists say.
    Then to what the news papers says.
    Then to……….

    Incidentally, as for the works that were historically credited to Moses:
    Arno Penzias, the co-discoverer of the microwave background radiation and 1978 Nobel Prize recipient in physics wrote,
    “The best data we have (concerning the big bang) are exactly what I would have predicted, had I nothing to go on but the five books of Moses, the Psalms, the Bible as a whole.”

    aDios,
    Mariano

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  17. Mariano "I took your advice, applied it to the works that were historically credited to Moses."
    Did you come up with a universe in six days, whales being magic'd up before bugs, a literal Adam (with an identical twin sister), a literal Fall (after eating a fruit that teaches), a literal, worldwide flood lasting 10 months (give or take)? Notice anything wrong with those?

    "Then to my parent’s claim to be my parents.
    Then to what historians tell us occurred in 1257 AD.
    Then to what my wife told me she did yesterday while I was at work.
    Then to what my friend told me he ate for lunch.
    Then to what biologists say.
    Then to what the news papers says.
    Then to………."

    All of which they might honestly believe, but be wrong. Most of those are confirmable using converging lines of evidence (some of them you can confirm directly youself, via a blood test or a microscope). "Moses'" word is just that: Moses'. It's also wrong (or, ahem, poetic or metaphor).

    "Incidentally, as for the works that were historically credited to Moses:
    Arno Penzias, the co-discoverer of the microwave background radiation and 1978 Nobel Prize recipient in physics wrote,
    “The best data we have (concerning the big bang) are exactly what I would have predicted, had I nothing to go on but the five books of Moses, the Psalms, the Bible as a whole.”"

    Incidentally, that proves nothing except that "Let there be light" can be interpreted as "Big Bang". Does that mean that the passages right after that "prove" that heaven is literally up there?
    Are there any biologists who credit the Bible for proving that crickets have four legs? What about zoologists and Job 9's unicorn? What about Ussher's math? What about other people (with other religions) and their "proofs" that science proves their book True?

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  18. Mouseoperandi, here's some info about genesis cosmology. I have also another excellent article, unfortunetly not in English. It states, that first description of creation has a form of hexamaeron. In first 3 days it describes creation of nonmoving things, in other 3 days - moving. Hence this strange order and appearence of plants before sun and moon.
    Yes, it's a kind of literature and yes, you can't read any single phrase literally with modern man mentality.
    Mariano already wrote about unicorn on one of his blogs.
    Some claim that Bible scientific foreknowledge is impressive, also here.
    I'm calm with Big Bang theory. Now scientists concetrate on data that fits it, sooner or later they'll find some evidence that contradicts it (maybe they already did).

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  19. @Etchainer: your friend was far away from anything you can name 'biblical literalism'. There's hundrets of places in the Bible where what he had been doing to his family is condemned, I bet you can come with couple yourself. Going to church twice a day every day doesn't make you Christian, Judas was with Jesus most of the time in three years.
    You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe - and shudder! - Jam 2:19

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  20. "Sir, I appreciate your presence on AiD but am embarrassed for you for even imagining making such a fallacious statement much more so for posting it on the WORLD WIDE web for all to see."

    Yeah, that sure is a shame. Except biblical definitions of marriage are about the man's property rights over a woman and the bible does tell you to discipline (if not KILL) your disobedient children. Disobedient can be subjective. I can look up the verses if you want. Or am I being fallacious in some other way?

    My intent is not to show that people who follow the bible are evil, just to prove a point about anecdotes.

    And I AM aware that the world can see what I'm writing -- though I don't have much expectation that they will see it.


    You continually say that 'atheism is not a cogent concept', and yet, you just sort of... leave it there, like it's a self explanatory concept.

    You're going to have to explain to ME what makes religion of ANY kind -- you can choose! -- cogent where atheism is not. Because ultimately, there is exactly one thing that tells me otherwise (that atheism is cogent where religion is not): the burden of proof.

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  21. Tremor:
    Yes, but people hunt and peck the bible all the time to make points. It's a ridiculous mess of mythical and philosophical writings that contradicts itself so many times, it's up in metaphorical knots.

    Perhaps the most perplexing thing about Christianity to me is how they can claim that their god will judge the good from the evil, and yet feel the need to judge everyone themselves. The lunatics who condemn all percieved non-believers to hell, and the holier than thou morality police. Not to mention those who believe strictly in the idea that all you have to do to be 'redeemed' is to believe in Jesus, regardless of how horrible, hateful and malicious you may be.

    The book is insane -- basing your life off of it is equally crazy. Even if you JUST take the tamer new testament; seriously, can anyone actually explain to me why Jesus kills a tree for not baring fruit out of season? Is there any point to that? It just seems like selfish vandalism to me.

    You also call out Judas -- but is Judas really a bad guy in the story? What about the controversial Gospel of Judas they discovered a while back that says he was the MOST trusted of the disciples, and was the only one Jesus could trust to have betray him? Sort of makes him an important guy, taking on 2000 years of mindless hate as an emotional martyr.

    But really, to pull this tight; are you actually going to tell me that you don't cherry pick your 'favorite' bits from the bible? If you do, then where are the limits?

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  22. Etchainer (and Modusoperandi further below);
    I hope that you do not mind but I am going to butt in to your discussion with Tremor and also respond to your statements to me.
    People “peck the bible all the time to make points” and they peck history, the news, AiD, et al. Just because one pecks does not mean that one is coming to cogent conclusions. The limits are within the Bible itself.

    I do not want to comment on your anecdote/friend too much because I do not know the particulars but it seemed to me that what you said is that he was a Christian who was violating the very tenets of Christianity. You actually claimed that a biblical literalist can infer treating his wife like property and beating their kids from the texts without substantiating the claim. Then he became an atheist and abandoned his wife and children.
    So first he was not living a Christian life and now he is happy but broke his wedding vows and either abandoned his children or forces them to live out of a suitcase. I do not know because I am happily married, but maybe he is happy now because he has shrugged of his responsibilities and having done away with wife and kids can spend his days doing as he pleases.
    Jesus said that we could know His follows by the fruit that they produce. Thus, it is questionable whether your friend was a follower of Jesus, he may have simply been “religious.” This also corrects your mistaken notion about “all you have to do to be ‘redeemed’ is to believe in Jesus, regardless of how horrible, hateful and malicious you may be.”

    It is biblical and logical to judge people and ideas—within parameters. For example you just finished judging the Bible as “a ridiculous mess” contradictory and “insane.” Moreover, while you do not think of those who follow it as “evil” you do refer to them as being “lunatics…holier than thou morality police…crazy…mindless hate[rs].” Who appointed you as a moral police personage? Certainly there are Christians who go too far.
    Yet, your initial question was a logical one, “how they can claim that their god will judge the good from the evil, and yet feel the need to judge everyone themselves” by basing their judgments on God’s.
    For instance, if it is the law of the state where you live that drunk driving is illegal you may take it upon yourself to call the police if you see someone whom you suspect to be driving drunk even though the actual determination and judgment under the law is not yours to make.
    As for contradictions, I am ever curious about this and ask that you provide one. I am asking for “one” because when Christians and atheists generally discuss this I find that the atheist merely types in hyperlinks to search engine results for bible contradictions and the Christian is left to actually do the work of research. So how about one?

    As far as the Gospel of Judas you appear to be making a very common, yet fallacious, move. Anything that contradicts the Bible is more reliable than the Bible. For example, counting the New Testament alone vs. the Gospel of Judas we have 1 manuscript vs. 24,000. Yet, surely the one wins.
    I would ask whether when you learned of the Gospel of Judas you:
    Asked: who wrote it?
    Asked: when it was written?
    Asked: why it was written?
    Asked: to whom it was written?
    Asked: how long between the time of the event to the time of the writing?
    Asked: how long between the time of the writing to the earliest manuscript?
    Asked: how many manuscripts do we have and how do they compare?
    Asked: anything at all along the skeptical lines?
    The Gospel of Judas actually verifies many New Testament claims. But if you are interested you should look over my blog that is strictly Regarding the Gospel of Judas.

    To state that “biblical definitions of marriage are about the man's property rights over a woman” is an atheist myth and indicative of the very pecking/cherry picking of which you accuse Christians.
    Yes, the Bible tells us to discipline our disobedient children. What is wrong with disciplining disobedient children?
    As for “KILL[ing]” children, this is another atheist myth which I dealt with here .

    As to cogency, I suppose that the we both have a burden to bare since you claim that “atheism is cogent where religion is not” and I claim “religion is cogent where atheism is not” (although I would not defend “religion” in any way except for the New Testament definition of “Pure religion and undefiled before our God and Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world” James 1:27).

    Atheism is not a cogent concept because the very best knowledge we have thus far about the universe infers a creator who exhibits certain characteristics and we call this creator God.

    As for your question “can anyone actually explain to me why Jesus kills a tree for not baring fruit out of season? Is there any point to that? It just seems like selfish vandalism to me.”
    Good question and I will be more than happy to actually explain. But first, let me ask: you heard or read that Jesus kills a tree for not baring fruit out of season. You wonder if there is any point to that? And conclude that it just seems like selfish vandalism.
    Did you open the Bible and read the text?
    Did you read just before and after the text in order to ascertain context?
    Did you read the parallel version to the text?
    Did you read the Bible for greater context?
    Did you do any etymological work?
    Did you do any lexicographical work?
    Did you consult various translations?
    Did you consult various commentaries?
    Did you consider any interpretations?


    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


    Modusoperandi;
    Thanks for checking back
    Yes, I did notice something wrong with those:
    Whales being magic'd up before bugs—which I am sure you also believe. I love the term “magic'd up,” by the way :o).
    Eve was not Adam’s identical twin sister.
    The fruit did not teach.

    How do you know that Moses’ words are wrong? Also, they are not only his words but there was a line of witnesses for much of what he wrote.

    Arno Penzias (co-discoverer of the microwave background radiation and 1978 Nobel Prize recipient in physics) referenced “the five books of Moses, the Psalms, the Bible as a whole” but you inferred that he merely referred to half of one verse.
    As for “heaven” being “literally up there” – not sure if you mean heaven as in God’s abode or the heavens meaning atmosphere, outer space, etc.
    From the point of view of a person reading a text whilst sitting on earth yes, the heavens are literally up.
    I am not aware of “biologists who credit the Bible for proving that crickets have four legs” nor how that is the least bit relevant.
    That there are unicorns mentioned in Job is an atheist myth.
    Usher’s math was just that, Usher’s math.
    As for “other people (with other religions) and their ‘proofs’ that science proves their book True” – some claims are correct and others are not. Judeo-Christianity does not claim that God does not reveal truth to anyone outside the fold, in fact the very opposite it true.

    aDios,
    Mariano

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  23. Mariano "Whales being magic'd up before bugs—which I am sure you also believe."
    No. The opposite happened, and by a considerable margin. Quite probably without the bamphing, as well.

    "I love the term “magic'd up,” by the way :o)."
    I'm pretty sure that's from Anthony's Zanth novels, though I haven't read them since I was little and can't confirm it.

    "Eve was not Adam’s identical twin sister."
    Gen2:21-2 "And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;
    And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man."
    ...that sounds like cloning to me. How He got an XX from an XY must be one of them divine mysteries. Maybe He cut the rib in half, discarded one piece, then cut the remaining half in half and duct-taped them together.

    "The fruit did not teach."
    Was it the tree? If so, then God should've told them not to lick the bark.
    And what happened when the animals ate from it, anyway? Were there possum philosophers, hanging around around discussing the big questions, like Plato et al, but with fur and adorable marsupialness?

    "How do you know that Moses’ words are wrong?"
    Gen1. Wrong. Gen2. Wrong. Gen6. Wrong.
    Astro-everything, fossil record, comparative genetics, geology, and more.

    "Also, they are not only his words but there was a line of witnesses for much of what he wrote."
    Like the line of begets that helps put the first Man firmly making his entrance in 4004BC?

    "Arno Penzias (co-discoverer of the microwave background radiation and 1978 Nobel Prize recipient in physics) referenced “the five books of Moses, the Psalms, the Bible as a whole” but you inferred that he merely referred to half of one verse."
    Well, now that you mention it, I can see how the 613 mitzvahs (give or take) and the Parable of the Wedding Feast would have been quite helpful to him.

    "I am not aware of “biologists who credit the Bible for proving that crickets have four legs” nor how that is the least bit relevant."
    Well, the real world confirmed the Bible for that microwave guy. I'm assuming that it would have done the same for entomologists.

    "Usher’s math was just that, Usher’s math."
    Um. The Bible has both Jesus to David and David to Adam. Since Adam is supposed to be the very first human (oddly descending from dust and breath rather than our nearer relatives, which must make the family reunions awkward), total up their ages (and some other Bible math) and poof; first Man 4004BC and start of universe slightly before that (depending, of course, on how literally it's read). It's not just Ussher. He did back himself up with Bible math. Others did, too, and came to similar conclusions.

    "Judeo-Christianity does not claim that God does not reveal truth to anyone outside the fold, in fact the very opposite it true."
    Does it claim that He decided to lead most of them to the wrong God (or, more commonly, gods)?

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  24. "Arno Penzias (co-discoverer of the microwave background radiation and 1978 Nobel Prize recipient in physics) referenced “the five books of Moses, the Psalms, the Bible as a whole”"

    Yeah yeah - and what's the significance of it? You tout it as if you are now willing to take some random statement from a Nobel laureate at face value. Should you then not also accept what Steven Weinberg has to say? I do believe he has a lot more to say on the subject than Penzias.

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  25. Echainer, Modusoperandi and adonais in turn;
    I hope you, if in the USA, enjoyed the holiday. I an enjoying a 4 day weekend which is extremely rare for me.

    Echainer;
    I think that you misunderstood me. I was not asking for one hyperlink but for one contradiction. So just for now, I am not publishing your comment. Just add the contradiction to the comment, remove the hyperlink and I get it right through.
    While I am at it, I am curious to see if something that I suspect is true:
    I ask for a contradiction and you send a hyperlink. Fine, but:
    In your studying of the Bible what contradictions have you uncovered?
    When you replace actual research with search engine results did you actually read that website and double checked what they said?
    Did you open the Bible and look up the texts?
    Did you read just before and after the text in order to ascertain context?
    Did you read the parallel version to the text?
    Did you do any etymological work?
    Did you do any lexicographical work?
    Did you consult various translations?
    Did you consult various commentaries?
    Did you consider any interpretations?
    Did you do anything except take the 3 seconds to type into a search engine and then just copy and paste the URL?

    Modusoperandi;
    I thought that sea creatures changed their minds and went on a walkabout.

    I was just ensuring that we were not referring to identical twins that came from the same mother.

    I do not know about possum philosophers but did you hear about the agnostic, dyslexic philosopher? He sits around contemplating the existence of dog.
    Anyhow, neither fruit nor tree taught. When they ate it they came to “know good and evil” because they chose rebellion.

    Ok, let us consider Genesis 1. You say “Wrong” and your erudite elucidation is “Astro-everything.” Care to elucidate?

    Arriving at 4004BC from the line of begets is based on an inference that all the begets are there and that their purpose was to present a neat chronological clock.

    “The 613 mitzvahs…” argument from ridicule.

    Adam being referred to as “from dust” is a scientific prediction that we are made of the same substance of the earth. I think that the Jesus to David and David to Adam thing is faulty because, and here we see the importance of historical/cultural/grammatical context, Jewish genealogies were written for various purposes and were not necessarily interested in “family tree” style linear, include everyone in order listing but where often written so as to make a point or in order to point out particular events or important personages.

    “Does it claim that He decided to lead most of them to the wrong God (or, more commonly, gods)?”
    No.

    adonais
    Thanks you, finally the point is made!
    Science, scientists, their proclamations, their theories, even the peer reviewed science journals are ripe for cherry picking—pluck away, pluck away.

    aDios,
    Mariano

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  26. Mariano "Arriving at 4004BC from the line of begets is based on an inference that all the begets are there..."
    Gen 5's begets look awfully exact to me. Granted, we atheists tend to read the Bible too literally. This isn't a problem for the literal bits (like that). Stuff like that would lead to people believing that God created Man in his present form no more that 10,000 years ago. That would be silly.

    "...and that their purpose was to present a neat chronological clock."
    ...which is why those begets are A to B, B to C, etc, complete with ages...because it's not meant to be a neat chronological clock. That would be silly.

    "'The 613 mitzvahs…' argument from ridicule."
    No. It's more the argument from WTF. For him to say that "The best data we have (concerning the big bang) are exactly what I would have predicted, had I nothing to go on but the five books of Moses, the Psalms, the Bible as a whole." would be silly, as most of it has nothing to do with that, as my helpful examples clearly illustrated.

    “Does it claim that He decided to lead most of them to the wrong God (or, more commonly, gods)?”
    "No."

    Then what does it claim? Is it like General Revelation, where the answer is invariably wrong? Special Revelation is no better, as it leads everybody to conflicting gods, but with the added force of the official backing of those wrong gods (and/or wrong versions thereof) behind them.

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  27. @Etchainer.

    Yes, but people hunt and peck the bible all the time to make points.

    Which rather tells us more about those people than Bible itself.
    It's a ridiculous mess of mythical and philosophical writings that contradicts itself so many times, it's up in metaphorical knots.
    I'm not aware of any major contradictions that couldn't be reasonable explained (eg. first vs second description of creation in Genesis). Old Testament is much harder to comprehend and interpret for modern man with its variaties of forms, styles, authors and deep involvment of Jewish tradition.

    The book is insane --
    You know how some critics of the Bible work? They take some quote of context, for example "The book is insane" and say: "How can a book be insane? This is ridiculous."

    Even if you JUST take the tamer new testament; seriously, can anyone actually explain to me why Jesus kills a tree for not baring fruit out of season? Is there any point to that? It just seems like selfish vandalism to me.

    If that's all you have against New Testament, you're probably Christian ;). I think that part is self explanatory, you only need to read 4 verses:
    Mt 21:18-21 esv (18) In the morning, as he was returning to the city, he became hungry. (19) And seeing a fig tree by the wayside, he went to it and found nothing on it but only leaves. And he said to it, "May no fruit ever come from you again!" And the fig tree withered at once. (20) When the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, "How did the fig tree wither at once?" (21) And Jesus answered them, "Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, 'Be taken up and thrown into the sea,' it will happen.
    I'm 99% positive, that you already know it wasn't vandalism.


    You also call out Judas -- but is Judas really a bad guy in the story? What about the controversial Gospel of Judas they discovered a while back that says he was the MOST trusted of the disciples, and was the only one Jesus could trust to have betray him? Sort of makes him an important guy, taking on 2000 years of mindless hate as an emotional martyr.

    To explain this let me quote one of my favorite books:
    « Dreadful, but not useless. Too many people think that Judas did something of little importance. Some
    even go to the extent of saying that he is well deserving, because Redemption would not have taken
    place without him, and that 'he is therefore justified in the eyes of God.
    I solemnly tell you that, if Hell did not already exist and was not perfect in its torments, it would have
    been created even more dreadful and eternal for Judas, because of all sinners and damned souls, he is
    the most damned and the biggest sinner, and throughout eternity there will be no mitigation of his
    sentence.
    Remorse could have also saved him, if he had turned remorse into repentance. But he would not repent
    and, to the first crime of betrayal, still compatible because of the great mercy that is My loving
    weakness, he added blasphemy, resistance to the voices of Grace, that still wanted to speak to him
    through recollections, through terrors, through My Blood and My mantle, through My glances, through
    the traces of the institution of the Eucharist, through the words of My Mother. He resisted everything.
    He wanted to resist. As he had wanted to betray. As he wanted to curse. As he wanted to commit
    suicide.


    But really, to pull this tight; are you actually going to tell me that you don't cherry pick your 'favorite' bits from the bible? If you do, then where are the limits?
    Yes, I do. Gospels and John's letters are my favourites. I do cherry pick. Bounds? My reason and my church teachings, I guess. I've spent some time reading the Bible, reading about Bible, other Christian sources, debating. I have a view on the scripture and a follow it when interpreting.

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  28. "adonais
    Thanks you, finally the point is made!
    Science, scientists, their proclamations, their theories, even the peer reviewed science journals are ripe for cherry picking—pluck away, pluck away."


    My mind is boggled at your cleverness Mariano. So you mean to tell us now that by quoting Penzias your point all along was just to demonstrate (when someone called you on it) that your cherry-picking was worthless?

    For future discussions, maybe something novel you could try would be to just leave out all the worthless stuff from the beginning?

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  29. Modusoperandi (followed by Adonais);
    Actually, I think that one of the greatest problems that atheist have in reading the Bible is that you do not take it literally when we understand what is meant by literal: taking the text as it is intended.
    Thus, you, and many people, read a text and count up genealogies completely disregarding the cultural/historical context regarding the variety of methods and purposes behind Jewish genealogies.

    Penzias was correlating cosmological/astronomical data with the Bible as a whole. Thus, what is silly is to make specific reference to the mitzvahs which have “nothing to do with that” and then claim that the mitzvahs have “nothing to do with that.” Why not treat it fairly? While the Bible is not a set of books about cosmological/astronomical to what could Penzias have been referring? I am not sure (as I could only find the article on the New York Times website and they want you to pay for it) but could venture a guess off the top of my head:
    The universe had a beginning (Genesis 1:1).
    The universe consists of time, space, and matter (Genesis 1:1).
    The earth hangs on nothing (Job 26:7).
    The earth is spherical (Isaiah 40:22).
    The universe expands (Job 9:8; Psalm 104:2; Isaiah 40:22; 42:5; 42:44; 45:12; 51:13; Jeremiah 10:12; 51:15; Zechariah 12:1).
    The Pleiadian star system is bound together by mutual gravitational attraction (Job 38:31).
    The Orion system has a belt (Job 38:31).
    The prediction of the 1st law of thermodynamics (Genesis 2:2).

    There is certainly a lot to be said about General Revelation and Special Revelation.
    Succinctly, General Revelation leads us in a certain direction. It implies a creator and we can infer certain characteristics about the creator: uncaused, personal/personhood/volitional, timeless, immaterial, non-spatial, necessary, etc.
    God balances His desire that all be saved with free-will. Thus, He reveals enough of Himself to be found but not enough to force you to find Him. He states, “you will seek me and find me, when you search for me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13). For example, if someone is a Dawkinsian-99%-atheist what are they doing about the 1%?
    By Special Revelation the Bible is meant and I am not sure how that “leads everybody to conflicting gods.”
    Moreover, while God draws us to Him, He also respects our free-will choice to pull away. Thus, eventually when a person pulls away often enough and far enough they make it clear that they want nothing to do with God and so he respects their free-will choice and even gives them over to whatever they are pleased with believing and doing.
    It is fascinating to think of the balance.

    Adonais;
    I was merely correlating the fallacious notion about cherry picking the Bible with atheist who cherry pick their personally preferred scientific statements.

    aDios,
    Mariano

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  30. Mariano "Actually, I think that one of the greatest problems that atheist have in reading the Bible is that you do not take it literally when we understand what is meant by literal: taking the text as it is intended."
    Scientologists say the same thing about X. Muslims say the same thing about Y. Hindus say the same thing about Z.
    Why do you think your version is so special?

    "Thus, you, and many people, read a text and count up genealogies completely disregarding the cultural/historical context regarding the variety of methods and purposes behind Jewish genealogies."
    Ah. I see now. It's everyone else that's doing it wrong. And they say the same thing about you.

    "Succinctly, General Revelation leads us in a certain direction. It implies a creator and we can infer certain characteristics about the creator: uncaused, personal/personhood/volitional, timeless, immaterial, non-spatial, necessary, etc."
    Actually...historically General Revelation leads to stories about Turtles, Eggs, and the occasional Dog-Headed god, animism and the like.

    "For example, if someone is a Dawkinsian-99%-atheist what are they doing about the 1%?"
    Probably scratching their chin and looking up. That's what I'd do.

    "By Special Revelation the Bible is meant and I am not sure how that 'leads everybody to conflicting gods.'"
    By "special revelation" I meant "everybody's special revelation". Do you think Mohammad wasn't special? Joseph Smith? Any number of other cultists? That guy on the corner with "the end is nigh!" sign?

    "It is fascinating to think of the balance."
    It's even more fascinating to ponder the lack of interventionalist gods in our universe, as well as the anecdotal and conflicting nature of these purported interventions. Taken farther, it's fascinatingness, if possible, gets even more fascinating when you realize that man is a problem-solving, social animal, and that our problem-solving occasionally solves wrong (particularly with vague but big questions like "Why?").

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