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3/4/09

Expelled from Religulous

Inevitably, whenever I point out the most fascinating portions of the movie “Expelled” I receive the same response.

If for no other reason, Expelled is worth seeing because time and time again we see the same thing:
When the atheists are given the floor they sound so very erudite and self-assured yet, when they are simply asked one little question, “How do you know?” they fall apart and the façade of scientific respectability and or logical viability gives way to a stumbling, fumbling person who is forced to admit “I don’t know.”

Inevitably, the response is that these heroes of science and atheism cannot possibly be as lacking in evidence and logic as they appear. Thus, these instances are always brushed off as selecting editing of the interviews, purposeful manipulation of the videos in order to make it appear as if their proclamations are as unfounded as they appear.

Firstly, when someone asks “How do you know?” and the person admits that they do not, it is pretty clear and not edited. Secondly, this argument from erudite-elite-stunned-silent-embarrassment is a concoction that is meant to excuse ignorance since no one has produced the original interviews and demonstrated how they were self-servingly parsed.

Expelled has been criticized from every possible vantage point from claims of misrepresentation, to selective editing, to whether the use of John Lennon’s atheist anthem Image constituted copyright infringement.



I wrote an article about Bill Maher’s movie Religulous before it even opened. Since the readers of Atheism is Dead seemed privy to Expelled’s every sin I asked them for the dirt, the dirty laundry, on Religulous, I wanted to know it all.
The response?
You guessed it, pure silence, not one single particle of dirt. Thus, either Bill Maher and Religulous are pure as the wind driven snow or some of my atheist friends are precisely what I perceived them to be: mere pseudo-skeptics (I requested info at this post Bill Maher’s Cinematic Endeavor).

In this regard, it may be of interest to note what Nathan Schneider reported in his article Agnostic Machinery:
Dean Hamer of American University stated that Bill Maher,
“‘really kept on pushing me to say that science proves religion is wrong,’ Hamer recalls. ‘And I kept on trying to push back and say, ‘Science proves that people have an innate desire for religion.’’ The interview lasted about an hour and a half, Hamer tells us, yet only a two-second clip from their conversation made the final cut…

Andrew Newberg, the University of Pennsylvania neurologist known for his research on religious experience. In the film he and Maher walk and talk at New York City's Grand Central Station. Most of their conversation is muted to make way for Maher's voiceovers, but we do hear Newberg trying to tone Maher down a bit. ‘How we define what is crazy or not crazy about religions is ultimately up to how we define ‘crazy,’’ Newberg explains…

Although Newberg does not regret being in the film, he admits he's disappointed that Maher didn't take his findings more to heart. ‘I think it's a little difficult to write off everybody who has ever been religious as being delusional or psychotic,’ he says. ‘I don't think the data really supports that’…

But in order to keep the battle lines between believers and nonbelievers clear, Bill Maher's Religulous chose to ignore, as Hamer puts it, ‘the basic human biology of why religion is important.’”

Does this seem relevant to anyone? Will anyone make anything of it or look further into the issue involved, anyone? Will a website crop up picking apart every detail related to Religulous, anyone? Anyone?

92 comments:

  1. He's already been criticized, mariano. Can't you google? Can't you be bothered to check things out for yourself before whining on the web?

    here, here, and more from the same blog.

    As for website devoted to picking off every mistake, there's not much of a need as it's knows that it's a comedy movie, done by a comedian, whereas "Expelled" was supposed to be "serious".

    Of course, the dishonesty inherent in the making of, and the editing of "Expelled" is all public record.


    As for: When the atheists are given the floor they sound so very erudite and self-assured yet, when they are simply asked one little question, “How do you know?” they fall apart and the façade of scientific respectability and or logical viability gives way to a stumbling, fumbling person who is forced to admit “I don’t know.”

    You've never hung around any atheist sites then. Do some homework.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Really, every single time you ask an atheist how they know, they go from erudite to sputtering? Really? Keep in mind "I don't know how the universe started" isn't sputtering, it's a simple admission of fact.

    Religion claims to have all the answers, atheism does not. That's not a bug, it's a feature.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Mariano, you must be unraveling if you are honestly defending Expelled again.

    ReplyDelete
  4. PersonalFailure said it: admitting you don't know something is a sign of strength, not of weakness. I'll say it too: I don't know how the Universe started. The thing is, Mariano, you don't know either, but you claim you do. Who is being more honest here?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Reynold said- " . . . it's a comedy movie, done by a comedian, whereas "Expelled" was supposed to be "serious"."

    First, if you are saying that Bill Maher's preachy sermon tacked on to the end of "Religulous" was comedy and not to be taken serious, I would wholeheartedly agree.

    Secondly, although I don't agree with everything in "Expelled", I will at least give Ben Stein credit giving screen time to some of the most articulate atheists of today (Richard Dawkins, P.Z. Meyers, etc.). Bill Maher, on the other hand, seemed deathly afraid of giving screen time to any of the highly intelligent Christians who would have strongly challenged his convictions (try N.T. Wright, Stephen Barr, Alister McGrath to name a few).

    ReplyDelete
  6. "Really, every single time you ask an atheist how they know, they go from erudite to sputtering? Really?"

    I believe he was referring to what was happening in the movie, and why it was worth seeing - not every atheist he's personally queried. Really.

    "before whining on the web"
    I'm sure he's trying to get people to be introspective... on this site.

    "Religion claims to have all the answers, atheism does not. That's not a bug, it's a feature."

    No, religion (and I take it you mean Christianity) claims everything has an answer, not that they are known. Atheism, of course, does, and can, not. That's not a feature, it's anemic.

    "I'll say it too: I don't know how the Universe started. The thing is, Mariano, you don't know either, but you claim you do. Who is being more honest here?"

    This is about understanding where you have faith. Guess who doesn't claim to 'know everything' but that they do have faith. Guess who doesn't claim to have faith, but does.

    ReplyDelete
  7. In fact I'll go one step further. Most intelligent theists have the common sense to NOT bring up Expelled as it is certainly a HUGE embarrasment. Kind of like how intelligent theists don't reference Ken Hamm, or Kent Hovind. Or the time cube guy, or the Quest for Right guy.

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  8. Scary Jesus said...
    In fact I'll go one step further. Most intelligent theists have the common sense to NOT bring up Expelled as it is certainly a HUGE embarrasment. Kind of like how intelligent theists don't reference Ken Hamm, or Kent Hovind. Or the time cube guy, or the Quest for Right guy.
    ----------------------

    I definitely agree with that.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Reynold said:

    "As for website devoted to picking off every mistake, there's not much of a need as it's knows that it's a comedy movie, done by a comedian, whereas "Expelled" was supposed to be "serious".

    And Ben Stein is not a comedian?

    ReplyDelete
  10. Religulous should be an embarrassment for serious, reasonable atheists. Flippancy and ridicule are not logical arguments.

    But Religulous is not geared toward those serious and respectable individuals. It is geared toward the "popular culturites" whose thinking goes about as deep as the evening news and sway with the hot air of the trend du jour.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Saint said...
    Religulous should be an embarrassment for serious, reasonable atheists. Flippancy and ridicule are not logical arguments.
    -----------------------

    I agree. I have not seen Religulous and probably never will.
    I dismiss this type of hyperbole on both ends of the scale.
    Neither have I watched "Expelled."

    ReplyDelete
  12. The thing is, Saint, is even though Ben Stein is himself a part-time comedian, he's done more serious roles than Mahr has, and besides: "Expelled" was allegedly a "serious" movie.

    ReplyDelete
  13. As for website devoted to picking off every mistake, there's not much of a need as it's knows that it's a comedy movie, done by a comedian, whereas "Expelled" was supposed to be "serious".

    I'm sorry but that doesn't fly with me. The little punk coward Maher hides behind that every time he says something embarrassing (which is often) and then gets away with it. The dishonesty is mind blowing.

    Maher's intent with Religulous was clear from the laughable ending. He can't get by with the "I'm a comedian" schtick on this one. If people weren't so willfully ignorant this piece of garbage would have ended his career.

    One could spend a LOT of time pointing out the ignorant stuff in the film but I addressed some of the more blatant mishaps in a blog post:

    Link

    ReplyDelete
  14. Religulous at rotten tomatoes at 71 percent
    Expelled at rotten tomatoes at 10 percent.

    I think the numbers speak for themselves.

    And in a time where atheism is supposedly dead. Who'd have guessed?

    ReplyDelete
  15. Derek, now you know how scientists feel about "Expelled". Oh, a reference to JP Holding...

    ReplyDelete
  16. * Mentions Expelled (again) w/o being derogative about it? Check
    * Mentions that atheists/scientists ("heroes of science and atheism") are so sure about everything (again), ignoring that live interviews are far different than, say, books (and that cramming for an interview on one subject is practically useless when the interview subject turns out to be tangental...in effect, an ambush interview)? Check
    * Mentions the Imagine controversy (again), ignoring that Fair Use generally protects clips taken for commentary? Check
    * Mentions Bill Maher on a blog called "Atheismisdead" (again), ignoring that he's some vague kind of deist? Check
    * Looking for dirt on Religulous, ignoring that he's hardly considered by anyone except Mariano as a "hero of science" (see antivaccine stance) and "atheism" (see deism)? Check

    Wow. Two more checks and I get a free 6" sub. I'm leaning toward meatball, but the others look so good!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Expelled was for those who find terms like "methodological naturalism" to be wordy and confusing and who already believe that Big Science is dead set against Jesus (it's not) and that Big Atheism has pushed theists out of science (it hasn't, as science and religion get along just find as long as the theistic scientists keep philosophical supernaturalism out of methodological naturalism. Those that do tend to actually figure out how things work. Those that don't go to Ham's "museum" to ride the Triceratops and bitch about how no one believes in the Vapor Canopy anymore. Granted, I've grossly overstated that last one. This is because I've got a whole bottle of Civil Conversation, but it's not a twist-off and I forgot my churchkey. I'm really quite insufferable, especially when the callous of my curmudgeonly and malodorous exterior is chafed by your repetition).

    Religulous was for those who find The Daily Show wordy and confusing and who already believe that Big Jesus is populated with mouth-breathing, YEC, Apocalypse-lovin' boobs (it's not, but they form a disturbing percentage in some areas), and that religion in general has no positive attributes (it does. The built-in sense of community and support network, for examples).

    In short, neither qualifies as a good film.

    Just because you feel the need to defend the fair & balanced™ Expelled, don't expect us (and, as usual, I speak for all atheists) to defend the equally fair & balanced™ Religulous or Bill Maher (atheist or no). We have to defend Maher (again, whether atheist or not) and his filmery about as much as a Protestant has to defend the Pope and his popery.

    ReplyDelete
  18. "In short, neither qualifies as a good film."

    I agree, but at least Religulous was funny as hell.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Modus said:

    (and, as usual, I speak for all atheists)

    For whatever reason, I found this joke hilarious.

    I have been confused why I keep returning to this wasteland. Now I realize it is for the deft and subtle dissection by the atheists in the comments section. And the jokes.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Modusoperandi:
    * Mentions Bill Maher on a blog called "Atheismisdead" (again), ignoring that he's some vague kind of deist? Check
    * Looking for dirt on Religulous, ignoring that he's hardly considered by anyone except Mariano as a "hero of science" (see antivaccine stance) and "atheism" (see deism)? Check

    Thanks, I forgot that the man was apparently a deist, and as for his anti-vaccination stance which justifiably pisses off the scientific and medical communities, check out this, here, and he's made some other odd remarks here.

    ReplyDelete
  21. unouroboros:
    No, religion (and I take it you mean Christianity) claims everything has an answer, not that they are known.
    That's more of a description of science's view of reality to me, though scientists realize they'll never have all the answers to everything.

    Neither science nor atheism claims to currently have all the answers. Scientists don't expect to learn absolutely everything about reality and atheists don't pretend to know everything either.

    Atheism, of course, does, and can, not. That's not a feature, it's anemic.
    So you're against atheism because it doesn't even pretend, unlike religion, to have all the "answers"?

    I prefer to go with that which most matches up with reality and provides accurate answers for the things it is able to answer.

    To mariano's comment about atheists "falling apart" when asked "how do you know", I took that to mean that "how do you know there is no god", as opposed to knowing everything about the universe.

    For the refutations of the existences of gods, just look at atheist web sites.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Unbeguiled said:

    I have been confused why I keep returning to this wasteland. Now I realize it is for the deft and subtle dissection by the atheists in the comments section. And the jokes.

    That applies to me 100%.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Derek, now you know how scientists feel about "Expelled". Oh, a reference to JP Holding...

    Touche.

    I poked around that link and wasn't impressed but I don't go to JP for theology anyway. I use his work for historical issues and the copious footnotes are a welcome change to the crap that usually floods the internet.

    Plus he does genuine polemical writing and is very amusing, two things he shares with Mariano.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Reynold:
    That's more of a description of science's view of reality to me, though scientists realize they'll never have all the answers to everything.

    Then we are at an impasse, right?
    Though are you thinking 'everything has a causal antecedent' when you say 'everything has an answer'?

    Neither science nor atheism claims to currently have all the answers. Scientists don't expect to learn absolutely everything about reality and atheists don't pretend to know everything either.

    I never said science or atheism (not sure why you grouped those) have all the answers. So, what's next on the list of things to do?

    So you're against atheism because it doesn't even pretend, unlike religion, to have all the "answers"?
    You're repeating what I initially argued against. In any case, Christianity has better answers, not all the answers (as if humans were omnipotent...), but that doesn't mean that there aren't answers to everything, nor that they can't be known, nor that they aren't known... by Someone.
    So, like I said, I'm against atheism because, for one, it is anemic to the human being (contrary to the opinions of some).

    I prefer to go with that which most matches up with reality and provides accurate answers for the things it is able to answer.

    Good. Why's that?
    By the way, did you know that science isn't atheism? So guess what, Christians and atheists can use the scientific method equally well.

    To mariano's comment about atheists "falling apart" when asked "how do you know", I took that to mean that "how do you know there is no god", as opposed to knowing everything about the universe.

    And? In any case, I was addressing PersonalFailure's comment.

    For the refutations of the existences of gods, just look at atheist web sites.
    At last, atheist web sites, the source of all true knowledge. Thanks!
    But, I'll (continue to) look for well-reasoned arguments, probably find some, and will probably not find a refutation.

    ReplyDelete
  25. "In any case, Christianity has better answers, not all the answers"

    Better answers to what, unouroboros?

    ReplyDelete
  26. "In any case, Christianity has better answers, not all the answers"

    Better answers to what, unouroboros?

    How to properly treat a woman who is discovered to not be a virgin on her wedding night?

    How to address fig trees which have the audacity to not bear figs out of season?

    How to properly beat our slaves?

    How to properly carry out a human sacrifice, since the smell of burning flesh is "pleasing to the Lord"?

    The answers to these questions are quite clear for the Christian who has read his bible.

    ReplyDelete
  27. alert unouroboros!

    Christianity has better answers? Did you really open yourself to that one?

    I doubt you even noticed you fell into that trap and I'm confident we'll hear no response, that's a shame being that you're a real aficionado of "well-reasoned arguments".

    ReplyDelete
  28. Guess who doesn't claim to have faith, but does.

    Define 'faith', and tell me what I have faith in?

    ReplyDelete
  29. Scary Jesus,

    No reason to kick a man while he's down, Christianity does provide better answers to why women suffer and die during childbirth and why Judah could not drive out the people of the valley.

    I'm sure eventually some sophisticated exegete will explain the recurrent laryngeal nerve and the vermiform appendix.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Better answers to what, unouroboros?
    To quote a great agnostic: Life, The Universe, and Everything.
    In general, the human condition as a whole, not just the measurable parts.
    And I suppose that depends on the questions right?
    Do you care what those are?

    [various non-sequiturs]...
    The answers to these questions are quite clear for the Christian who has read his bible.

    Good one unBeguiled. I have seldom seen more ignorance of the Christian faith, what Christians profess, and why. But with such amazing research into the actual practices and beliefs of Christians, I doubt you'll want to learn more.

    Christianity has better answers? Did you really open yourself to that one?

    I doubt you even noticed you fell into that trap and I'm confident we'll hear no response, that's a shame being that you're a real aficionado of "well-reasoned arguments".


    Ha, yeah, Scary Jesus, kind of crazy eh? Wow, how could I have written that in a place people look for the smallest jot or tittle to tear apart so long as it makes them feel good? I must not have been serious.
    Guess what? Atheism is bankrupt as a worldview. You probably care about that comment... why? Do you actually think you're important?

    Define 'faith', and tell me what I have faith in?
    Broadly, trust in what you know and hope that what you want will turn out to be the case. I don't know you of course, unBeguiled, but you probably have some kind of vague hope that future scientific discoveries will somehow prove something about the futility of human life (from an atheistic perspective).

    No reason to kick a man while he's down, Christianity does provide better answers to why women suffer and die during childbirth and why Judah could not drive out the people of the valley.

    See, this is my point. Nothing is wrong with the world, right? No need for Justice or Mercy, right? Pretend that atheism says anything about human dignity, right?

    Don't worry guys, I can take your frothings. Tell me why, arguing from your worldview, I should care. Tell me the better answers boys. Alternatively, grab hold of something you don't like about the world (or, say, what I write) and whine that God isn't your whipping boy.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Good one unBeguiled. I have seldom seen more ignorance of the Christian faith, what Christians profess, and why.

    One thing you can count on: A Christian is unable to avoid the no true Scotsman fallacy.

    I will expose the rest of your errors later.

    ReplyDelete
  32. One thing you can count on: A Christian is unable to avoid the no true Scotsman fallacy.

    Uh-uh-uh. A true Christian is unable to avoid the no true Scotsman fallacy... :P

    Still, I suppose it would be a fallacy if you provided proof of Christians who practice, say, human sacrifice.
    You're the one attempting to redefine who a Scotsman is.

    I will expose the rest of your errors later.
    That's a relief. Thank you.
    I doubt I'll stick around too much longer though. Leave the hens to the pecking and all.

    ReplyDelete
  33. unouroboros said, quoting me:

    Reynold:
    That's more of a description of science's view of reality to me, though scientists realize they'll never have all the answers to everything.

    Then we are at an impasse, right?
    Though are you thinking 'everything has a causal antecedent' when you say 'everything has an answer'?

    Are you saying that I think there's a reason for all the physical things that happen, then yes. We just may not find all the answers.

    Neither science nor atheism claims to currently have all the answers. Scientists don't expect to learn absolutely everything about reality and atheists don't pretend to know everything either.
    I never said science or atheism (not sure why you grouped those) have all the answers.
    That's something they have in common, in my view. That seems to be why you reject atheism: it doesn't have all the answers you want. In my opinion, atheism does give the best description of reality, though.


    So you're against atheism because it doesn't even pretend, unlike religion, to have all the "answers"?
    You're repeating what I initially argued against. In any case, Christianity has better answers, not all the answers (as if humans were omnipotent...),
    Uh, isn't that your complaint against atheism? Now you've changed that, to going which has the "better" answers as opposed to having all the answers?

    but that doesn't mean that there aren't answers to everything, nor that they can't be known, nor that they aren't known... by Someone.
    The capitalization of "someone"...hmmm.

    What's your justification for saying that christianity has "better answers"? For instance, which does a better, more detailed and accurate, job of describing outer space, astronomy or the bible?


    So, like I said, I'm against atheism because, for one, it is anemic to the human being (contrary to the opinions of some).
    "anemic", right...based on your severely misplaced idea that christianity has the "better" answers. I'll stick with science...it's more accurate, more up to date, and scientists are more willing to admit errors when they're found.

    To me, the physical sciences better describes reality than your religion does.

    Are you looking for a security blanket; the philosophy which gives you the answers you want to hear (the "better" answers)?

    I prefer to go with that which most matches up with reality and provides accurate answers for the things it is able to answer.

    Good. Why's that?
    Are you saying you'd rather live in a fantasy world? As to why: by knowing reality it gives us a better chance of surviving in that reality.


    By the way, did you know that science isn't atheism?
    Duh, yes. Though a lot, if not most of scientists are atheists, due to them having seen supernaturalistic "explanation" be defeated.

    So guess what, Christians and atheists can use the scientific method equally well.
    Only if the results of the scientific method don't contradict what the bible says. Then, things get interesting.

    To mariano's comment about atheists "falling apart" when asked "how do you know", I took that to mean that "how do you know there is no god", as opposed to knowing everything about the universe.
    And?
    And what? Do I have to explain something to you here?


    For the refutations of the existences of gods, just look at atheist web sites.
    At last, atheist web sites, the source of all true knowledge. Thanks!
    Just the source of the reasons why some people don't believe in gods. Thanks for the sarcasm!


    But, I'll (continue to) look for well-reasoned arguments, probably find some, and will probably not find a refutation.
    Whatever.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Figured I could goad unouroboros to come back and take his beatings.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Reynold:

    I'll briefly respond, but don't expect an ongoing series, as I doubt we'll get anywhere...

    Neither science nor atheism claims to currently have all the answers...
    That's something they have in common, in my view.

    That's something Christianity has in common with science and atheism then too.

    What's your justification for saying that christianity has "better answers"? For instance, which does a better, more detailed and accurate, job of describing outer space, astronomy or the bible?
    Neither Christianity or atheism. Science does - used by everyone.

    To me, the physical sciences better describes reality than your religion does.
    The physical sciences describe what can be measured quite well. Yes.
    Einstein: "Not everything that counts... can be counted"

    Are you saying you'd rather live in a fantasy world? As to why: by knowing reality it gives us a better chance of surviving in that reality.
    I'm not saying I'd rather live in a fantasy world.
    Why is surviving good?

    Though a lot, if not most of scientists are atheists, due to them having seen supernaturalistic "explanation" be defeated.
    That most are atheists is irrelevant to truth.
    If by "explanations" you mean "answers", I disagree. We better understand how the world works, thanks to science. True.

    Only if the results of the scientific method don't contradict what the bible says. Then, things get interesting.
    I would agree that science has helped make Christians less dogmatic. It has forced them to study the text in context and for what purpose.

    Just the source of the reasons why some people don't believe in gods. Thanks for the sarcasm!
    I was making fun of your use of the word "refutations". Truly I agree some people don't believe in God/gods.

    In any event, try to see that you're making metaphysical judgment calls unsupported by atheism.

    ReplyDelete
  36. unouroboros said:
    "Atheism is bankrupt as a worldview."

    unouroboros, do you believe that atheism is bankrupt as a world view because athiests don't believe in YOUR version of God. Or that atheism is bankrupt because atheists don't believe in any Gods?

    In other words do you feel that the Islamic faith is bankrupt?

    Or in other words, is your worldview NOT bankrupt as long as you believe in SOME God, be he exist or not.

    ReplyDelete
  37. unouroboros,

    To quote a great agnostic: Life, The Universe, and Everything.

    Blasphemy! How dare you mislabel a fine atheist.

    But with such amazing research into the actual practices and beliefs of Christians

    Antipelagian wants to reinstate slavery, for example. But because he really believes the bible, does that mean he's not a true Christian?

    Atheism is bankrupt as a worldview.

    Yes, but only because atheism is not a worldview.

    [Faith is] trust in what you know and hope that what you want will turn out to be the case.

    By that definition then yes I have faith. I'm skeptical that that is the usage you had in mind earlier.

    Pretend that atheism says anything about human dignity, right?

    It doesn't. Nor does my lack of belief in fairies inform my opinion about human rights or what I value.

    Tell me why, arguing from your worldview, I should care.

    Because we share the same planet and beliefs cause actions.

    If you care, my worldview is called Naturalism. Naturalism is supported by all the findings of science, is consistent with shared human experience, is verified by the lessons of history, and is arrived at by the use of reason.

    Christianity fails on all counts.

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  38. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  39. alert unouroboros!

    Andrew said:

    unouroboros said:
    "Atheism is bankrupt as a worldview."

    unouroboros, do you believe that atheism is bankrupt as a world view because athiests[sic] don't believe in YOUR version of God. Or that atheism is bankrupt because atheists don't believe in any Gods?

    In other words do you feel that the Islamic faith is bankrupt?

    Or in other words, is your worldview NOT bankrupt as long as you believe in SOME God, be he exist or not."


    Did you really open yourself to that one?

    I doubt you even noticed you fell into that trap and I'm confident we'll hear no response, that's a shame being that you're a real aficionado of "well-reasoned arguments".

    I just had to! I'd be interested in your answer though.

    (probably won't though cause I'm sure you'll just run off and hide or just pretend nobody asked you that question, it's two or three above me, by Anthony, take a look and tell me what you think, I know you don't care what I think, which is sad, but I am very keen on hearing what you think)

    But hey you had the courage to come back and defend that last one, so kudos. Believe it or not there is quite a shortage of theists on this site to beat on so, carry on!

    *gives unouroboros a big snuggle and a tummy scratchin'!*

    (I decided to take the stuff about your mom out of the last post that's why it got deleted.)

    ReplyDelete
  40. Hey unbeguiled, good points! Maybe they'll someday make an incredible breakthrough in ancient languages or archaeology that will give us an answer to why the genealogies in the gospels don't match. One that is credible I mean.

    ....Naw, probably not.

    ReplyDelete
  41. unouroboros, quoting me:

    Only if the results of the scientific method don't contradict what the bible says. Then, things get interesting.

    I would agree that science has helped make Christians less dogmatic. It has forced them to study the text in context and for what purpose.
    More like it's forced them to reinterpret various passages in the bible from being literl to being "poetic" or "metaphor". Too bad the YECs haven't been able to do that yet.


    As for the other stuff: Science has helped make many people become atheistic simply because the "god of the gaps" keeps getting filled, and at some point, for many people, there is just so much "reinterpreting" of scripture that one can do to accomodate scientific fact before one's view of scripture is compromised.

    What's your justification for saying that christianity has "better answers"? For instance, which does a better, more detailed and accurate, job of describing outer space, astronomy or the bible?
    Neither Christianity or atheism.
    You said in your previous post that xianity has the better answers. For a demonstration of such, I asked you which is more accurate in describing space: the bible or astronomical science?

    Science does - used by everyone.
    Yes, it's science that describes space better, not the bible. That goes against your claim, does it not, that christianity has the "better answers"?

    Besides, at least atheists generally don't just use science when it suits them,then distorts it or disregards it when it goes against their beliefs as some theists have a habit of doing; apologists, IDers and YECers.

    I'm not saying I'd rather live in a fantasy world.
    When you asked why I preferred to go with that which most matches up with reality and provides accurate answers for the things it is able to answer, that's one way it could be interpreted. What did you mean then when you asked me that?


    Also, you asked: Why is surviving good?
    Do you need a "god" to tell you not to kill yourself? To any non-believer it's obvious why survival is good: it beat the hell out of the alternative. Let me guess: you'll keep asking "why" until you get to the one answer you will accept: god wills it, right?

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  42. Jesus,

    Did you see this on PBS?

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/bible/

    Archeology, like all science, continues to expose the falseness of all the Abrahamic religions. Yahweh was once just one god among many in ancient Judea. Of course, an honest reading of Genesis makes this clear already:

    "in the beginning the gods created the heaven and earth."

    "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness."

    Unfortunately for the creduloids, reality ruthlessly imposes itself on these fraudulently redacted myths.

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  43. unBeguiled "How to address fig trees which have the audacity to not bear figs out of season?"
    That was all over the news. Seriously!

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  44. Good stuff Modus. That's my favorite idiotic bible story.

    If Jesus was God, why not just miracle up all the freaking figs he wants? If he's God, he made the damn tree unable to bear fruit out of season, why get pissed off at the tree?

    The cursing of the Gadarene swine runs a close second at revealing Jesus to be somewhat of a douche-bag.

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  45. Jesus,

    Did you see this on PBS?

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/bible/

    Archeology, like all science, continues to expose the falseness of all the Abrahamic religions. Yahweh was once just one god among many in ancient Judea. Of course, an honest reading of Genesis makes this clear already:

    "in the beginning the gods created the heaven and earth."

    "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness."

    Unfortunately for the creduloids, reality ruthlessly imposes itself on these fraudulently redacted myths.


    Your exegesis is severely wanting.

    I truly pity Western Scholastic minds and the model of reality that they live in.

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  46. Good stuff Modus. That's my favorite idiotic bible story.

    If Jesus was God, why not just miracle up all the freaking figs he wants? If he's God, he made the damn tree unable to bear fruit out of season, why get pissed off at the tree?

    The cursing of the Gadarene swine runs a close second at revealing Jesus to be somewhat of a douche-bag.


    I'm typing my other post and this gem pops up in the interim.

    Crass literalism really is the sad end game of the Western Scholastic.

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  47. unbeguiled said:
    Jesus,
    Did you see this on PBS?
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/bible/


    unbeguiled, NICE! thanks for the link, I know what I'm doing tonight!

    (why am I such a sucker for Bible stuff, could it be I was a Christian minister for 13 years? ehh? maybe, of course now as an atheist I have no right to discuss the Bible cause I don't understand christianity, *sigh*)

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  48. Derek_M could use a little less scholastic training, and little more sense of humor. This ain't the Harvard Law Review blog ya'know.

    (yay me! I didn't say anything about his hair!)

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  49. I truly pity Western Scholastic minds and the model of reality that they live in.

    Don't lose any sleep over it Derek, I'm quite comfortable in the reality based community.

    Exegete your magic book to mean whatever you want it to. Everybody else does.

    And your "model of reality" involves worshiping Jewish zombies and believing that the creator of the universe gets annoyed when you masturbate. Yeah, that's probably true.

    What's all this opaque Western Scholastic stuff? Heaven forbid you don't think me a Thomist.

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  50. "http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/bible/"

    That's a great show, I've watched it several times. For the sections with Bill Dever and Solomon's gates (chapter 9), this talk by Avalos has some additional commentary that might be of interest, with some opinions that deviate from Dever's. Unsurprisingly, Avalos gets no mention in the NOVA documentary (the narrator does concede that "...a minority of arheologists continue to disagree...")

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  51. unBeguiled "If Jesus was God, why not just miracle up all the freaking figs he wants? If he's God, he made the damn tree unable to bear fruit out of season, why get pissed off at the tree?"
    It's worse than that. The tree is the Sadducees and the lack of figs is their lack of fruit, or the tree is Jerusalem (which turned out, surprisingly to not be as pro-Jesus as Jesus was expecting) and the withering is its doom (or both. Or neither, depending on who you ask). Oddly, the parable indicates that it's Jesus causing the withering after He comes at a time when they couldn't possibly bear fruit, making it not really their fault, and in the process painting JC as kind of a prick. Of course, as a parable, it's just a story to illustrate a point. God wouldn't actually do that. That would make Him a prick.

    "The cursing of the Gadarene swine runs a close second at revealing Jesus to be somewhat of a douche-bag."
    I see that more as Jesus punishing bad Jews that, being Jews, probably shouldn't have been raising pigs, by running of the herd of the pigs that they shouldn't have had in the first place. The supernatural baggage probably came later. But that can't possibly be right, as it almost sounds like something that could happen. I'm nutty like that. Woo! Go me!

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  52. Don't lose any sleep over it Derek, I'm quite comfortable in the reality based community.

    Reality based...nope...model of reality based.

    Exegete your magic book to mean whatever you want it to. Everybody else does.

    Magic book? I assume you are referring to the Christian Scriptures. What magic has to do with it I'm not sure and as you know it isn't a book but a collection of writings.

    The Sacred Tradition handed to the Apostolic Succession has the right to interpret their Scriptures. What everybody else does is irrelevant to me.

    And your "model of reality" involves worshiping Jewish zombies and believing that the creator of the universe gets annoyed when you masturbate. Yeah, that's probably true.

    I love when people unwittingly prove my point. Your crass literalism is sad.

    I don't worship a Jewish zombie. Assuming I did, what would the bit about being Jewish have to do with it. I hear that bit of ridicule all the time and it reeks of anti-semitism. A zombie is a re-animated corpse in the Voodoo tradition and has basically no similarities with the Christian myth (true myth, mind you).

    As for God getting irritated over masturbation, that is a strange concept. Assigning human emotions to God such as irritation and a fetish against masturbation are true signs of ignorance of Christianity.

    What's all this opaque Western Scholastic stuff? Heaven forbid you don't think me a Thomist.

    It is opaque to the scholastic mind.

    Open your mind and meditate on the Theanthropos. Perhaps you will get a glimmer of what you are missing.

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  53. Open your mind and meditate on the Theanthropos.

    Sure thing Derek. As soon as I finish my exegesis of The Secret.

    It is opaque to the scholastic mind.

    This response is analogous to the woo-meister psi-researcher claiming the presence of a skeptic interferes with the "energy" flow or whatever.

    If you can't cogently express what you are trying to get across, then why are you writing? Your response is just as bad as a hyper-Calvinist telling me I don't believe in God because I'm a reprobate.

    Christianity + new-age nonsense = Eastern Orthodox Apophatic Theology.

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  54. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  55. OK, I know no one pays attention to me around here, but c'mon Derek_M is not where this blog needs to go, how about some silly quips, some jestfull banter and some acknowledgment when a guy gets a good one. Jeez, Derek_M you sound like they wheel you out of a closet each morning and can't wait to you put to back after you've had your dinner. Lighten up, we're discussing a lifestyle and a philosophy based on a book.
    Jeez

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  56. This response is analogous to the woo-meister psi-researcher claiming the presence of a skeptic interferes with the "energy" flow or whatever.

    If you can't cogently express what you are trying to get across, then why are you writing? Your response is just as bad as a hyper-Calvinist telling me I don't believe in God because I'm a reprobate.


    My expressions may not be to your liking but that doesn't make them lacking in cogency.

    Your hyper-Calvinist comment is a bit baffling since I have not made any statement about your moral condition.

    Christianity + new-age nonsense = Eastern Orthodox Apophatic Theology.

    Apophaticism has been a part of Christianity since day one and therefore predates the new age movement by a few thousand years. It also isn't mixed with Christianity since it is Christianity.

    From your point of view, I follow a faith that came from a mystic in the desert who claimed to be the Son of God. This is inherently foreign to the Scholastic box that atheists (and a lot of Christians) try to put it in. It is an experiential faith which uses the faulty medium of language to convey some of it's concepts.

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  57. Assigning human emotions to God such as irritation [is a]. . . true sign of ignorance of Christianity.

    No true Scotsman redux.

    Silly me, and here all along I thought Christians learned about the nature God by reading the scriptures. Oh, I see. It has to be a proper exegesis of the scripture.

    So Derek, you seem to have some True knowledge of the True God. By what method did you acquire this knowledge? Have your methods been verified as reliable? How would you go about convincing Pat Robertson that you are a true Christian, while he is not?

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  58. It is an experiential faith which uses the faulty medium of language to convey some of it's concepts.

    OK, this is getting interesting. Anything remotely Wittgenstein-ian makes me stop and pay attention.

    So in your view, is your practice more like Buddhism?

    Do you believe in anything supernatural?

    My snark generator is officially off for the evening.

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  59. No true Scotsman redux.

    Nope. You are very liberal with that fallacy and I have not given you enough information to reach that conclusion. You need to show evidence of equivocation in my referring to Christians.

    Silly me, and here all along I thought Christians learned about the nature God by reading the scriptures. Oh, I see. It has to be a proper exegesis of the scripture.

    Now you are getting it. The writing of the Scriptures by disciples of Christ (yes I include St. Paul in that) began after they had been teaching for a few decades. The interpretation of the Scriptures was passed through Apostolic Succession and was gradually written down by the Church Fathers. Scripture is part of the Tradition but it is like a manual without a teacher when you go it alone and that was never the intention. The interpretation is not open to the relativistic concept that skeptics cling to for their petty ridicule.

    So Derek, you seem to have some True knowledge of the True God. By what method did you acquire this knowledge? Have your methods been verified as reliable? How would you go about convincing Pat Robertson that you are a true Christian, while he is not?

    There is no knowledge of God. My knowledge is that I don't know. What we know about God comes through Jesus Christ and is a mere glimmer of His disposition toward man (perfect love), which we confirm through participation with His uncreated Energies (grace). The Essence of God was always completely unknowable before Christianity was hijacked. To quote St. John Chrysostom, "A comprehended god is no god."

    I never said who was or wasn't a true Christian. You are projecting that.

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  60. For what it's worth, and with full realization that my comments may subject me to scorn by my fellow empiricists, I think Sam Harris's final chapter in The End of Faith is the most important thing he has written.

    Most westerners, and I think Derek would agree, are so entrenched in our habits of thought that we dismiss Harris rashly.

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  61. "Mysticism is a rational enterprise. Religion is not. The mystic has recognized something about the nature of consciousness prior to thought, and this recognition is susceptible to rational discussion. The mystic has reasons for what he believes, and these reasons are empirical. The roiling mystery of the world can be analyzed with concepts (this is science), or it can be experienced free of concepts (this is myticism). Religion is nothing more than bad concepts held in place of good ones for all time. It is the denial--at once full of hope and full of fear-of the vastitude of human ignorance.

    A kernel of truth lurks at the heart of religion, because spiritual experience, ethical behavior, and strong communities are essential for human happiness. And yet our religious traditions are intellectually defunct and politically ruinous. While spiritual experience is clearly a natural propensity for the human mind, we need not believe anything on insufficient evidence to actualize it. Clearly, it must be possible to bring reason, spirituality, and ethics together in our thinking about the world. This would be the beginning of a rational approach to our deepest personal concerns. It would also be the end of faith."

    Amen, Sam.

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  62. OK, this is getting interesting. Anything remotely Wittgenstein-ian makes me stop and pay attention.

    So in your view, is your practice more like Buddhism?

    Do you believe in anything supernatural?

    My snark generator is officially off for the evening.


    Father John Romanides titled one of his works "Religion is a neurobiological illness and Orthodoxy is it's cure."

    Obviously that is a rhetorical device to perk the ears but what he is saying is that Christianity is a way of life, not a religion. It consists in acquiring the likeness of Christ which is unselfish love. Part of this is through the Resurrection which having faith in helps us to conquer the self-centeredness caused by the fear of death.

    When Christianity becomes a set of rules and a rational philosophy it becomes an idolatry.

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  63. it becomes an idolatry.

    Word. The vast majority of self-identified Christians are really rank bibliolators.

    Part of this is through the Resurrection which having faith in helps us to conquer the self-centeredness caused by the fear of death.

    Clarify your usage of 'faith' here.

    The worldview of Naturalism also conquers self-centeredness and fear of death, but without the supernatural baggage.

    If you understand what you really are (See Metzinger's Being No One), then selfishness dissolves. Likewise, when you know that death is the same as how it was prior to your birth, what is there to fear?

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  64. Metzinger:

    "No such things as selves exist in the world: nobody ever was or had a self. A self could never be something you have like a bicycle or book by Dostoyevsky. You could only be one.

    All that ever existed were conscious self-models that could not be recognized as models. The phenomenal self is not a thing, but a process and the subjective experience of being someone emerges if a conscious information-processing system operates under a transparent self-model.

    You are such a system right now, as you read these sentences. Because you cannot recognize your self-model as a model, it is transparent: you look right through it.

    This is not your fault. Evolution has made you this way."

    And the Buddha says, "I knew that first."

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  65. Clarify your usage of 'faith' here.

    "Trusting in" would be a good way of describing it. But faith is not without evidence (to use a controversial term). When one examines the teachings of Christianity closely it becomes obvious that it is panentheistic. When the Essence and Energies distinction is made, I find it easy to understand. God is beyond and unknowable in His very being (Essence) but His Energies are in everything. Participation with these Energies is evidence (not in the scientific sense obviously).

    The worldview of Naturalism also conquers self-centeredness and fear of death, but without the supernatural baggage.

    If you understand what you really are (See Metzinger's Being No One), then selfishness dissolves. Likewise, when you know that death is the same as how it was prior to your birth, what is there to fear?


    Any view that promotes the animalistic instinct of self-preservation over the selfless orientation that comes from unselfish love can't conquer selfishness. From my pov, if someone achieves this orientation of the soul outside of Christianity they are participating in the Energies of God, rather they are aware of it or not.

    These statements might seem strange but from someone who rejects original sin and believes man is inherently good, it is easy for me.

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  66. *Sigh*, apologies for the length of this, and don't know how much longer I can commit to this... but, hey, someone's mind might be changed on the internet... right? (Honestly, I don't know how Mariano outputs so much).

    Andrew,
    Or in other words, is your worldview NOT bankrupt as long as you believe in SOME God, be he exist or not.

    I say that a worldview that doesn't borrow all its merits from another worldview (atheism, at least the popular form, from Christianity) is bankrupt. Islam does have a better chance than atheism at not being bankrupt.

    unBeguiled,
    Antipelagian wants to reinstate slavery
    Never heard of him/her. Can't really comment other than : you should understand what Christians since the dawn of the sect mean by heresy, and when it is used, and how it is determined.

    Yes, but only because atheism is not a worldview
    What is it then? It has no impact on the one who holds that view to the real world?

    I'm skeptical that that is the usage you had in mind earlier.
    Let me assure you that's the usage I had in mind.

    Pretend that atheism says anything about human dignity, right?
    It doesn't. Nor does my lack of belief in fairies inform my opinion about human rights or what I value.
    Tell me why, arguing from your worldview, I should care.
    Because we share the same planet and beliefs cause actions.
    That of course doesn't answer anything.
    Nothing from Naturalism/atheism provides any basis for "gettin' along", or why some beliefs should or shouldn't outrank others. You'll of course want to respond with something about 'survival'. There is no reason to accept my survival over yours, or your group over mine, or the human race over no human race - from Naturalism.

    If you care, my worldview is called Naturalism. Naturalism is supported by all the findings of science, is consistent with shared human experience, is verified by the lessons of history, and is arrived at by the use of reason.

    Christianity fails on all counts.

    Science supports facts about the physical world. Intersubjectivity is true in the sense that we share the physical world. What lessons from history? The ones that disprove miracles? I'd say it's arrived by the inconsistent use of reason (but use your 'mind' to reason it out).

    More on that later.

    Scary Jesus,
    *gives unouroboros a big snuggle and a tummy scratchin'!*
    *gives a tickle-me-Elmo giggle*... Thanks SJ, I needed that.
    I see that there aren't many theists... I probably could have made better use of my time than wading into these shark-infested waters.

    Reynold,

    More like it's forced them to reinterpret various passages in the bible from being literl to being "poetic" or "metaphor". Too bad the YECs haven't been able to do that yet.
    I'd only say that the ability to admit you were wrong is a great strength. Scientists take note!

    As for "god of the gaps", I don't know if it really means much. Gaining a better understanding of the physical world, doesn't really tell us any more about why or how anything happens. The intricacy of the world is not so easy to dismiss. Also, I'd like to know (seriously) what you consider all the "re-interpreting" (outside of the first chapters of Genesis)? Other than holding that God created the world for a purpose, what does the mode have to do with it?

    Yes, it's science that describes space better, not the bible. That goes against your claim, does it not, that christianity has the "better answers"?
    If I believed all the answers were physical (Naturalistic) and the Bible was not a book relating to spiritual matters, then I would admit that Christianity does not have the "better answers".

    Besides, at least atheists generally don't just use science when it suits them,then distorts it or disregards it when it goes against their beliefs as some theists have a habit of doing; apologists, IDers and YECers.
    Dishonesty is not limited to one set of humans. But no one uses science as the only means of knowledge... atheists try to limit knowledge to that, but fail.

    When you asked why I preferred to go with that which most matches up with reality and provides accurate answers for the things it is able to answer, that's one way it could be interpreted. What did you mean then when you asked me that?
    I was wondering why you had that belief, and, for that matter, why you think it's better than living in a fantasy world. Millions of children dying from hunger or the flapping of a butterfly wing are both accurate answers of what matches up to reality. Your belief that reality is important (which is limited to the physical world for you) makes no judgment call on what in reality is important.

    Do you need a "god" to tell you not to kill yourself? To any non-believer it's obvious why survival is good: it beat the hell out of the alternative. Let me guess: you'll keep asking "why" until you get to the one answer you will accept: god wills it, right?
    I don't need a "god" to tell me that survival is good or not to kill myself. Are you saying killing myself is wrong? Where would you get that idea? Nature? Evolution? Death (to the atheist) is oblivion, and a necessary step for the survival of the species - so it can not really be considered a bad alternative... unless you somehow think that humans have significance when they're alive, or that life is better than never existenting (though for you death will be the same as never existing). Or, how can you say that some humans don't deserve to survive over the destruction of others? There is no "law" of Nature that says this (to the atheist).

    But, I'll end there and try and summarize some things.
    My main point is that the 'better answers' Christianity supplies are in the spiritual realm. Most sounded surprised that a Christian would think Christianity answers the questions of life (that humans ask) best. You may not believe in a spiritual/non-physical realm. More power to ya. Please start defining your day by the interaction of your quarks/vibrating strings, and see if you can stick to the physical.

    Does the world have a purpose? Do I have significance? Does Reason itself make sense? Does the Self and is it even real? Is your mind? Is anything really Good? Really Evil? Could there possibly be a correct response? Is Justice not imaginary? Is Love not a delusion? Is existence good? Is there real beauty in the world?

    These are just a few of the basic questions that atheism/Naturalism answer in the negative. Try to get from merely what is to what ought to be, and you can't.

    Better answers? Much better than "You and everything else are a complete fluke and Nothing is ultimate reality." Wishful thinking? Does it really matter?

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  67. OK, Derek,

    you are a panentheist. You are free to call yourself a Christian of course, but you should realize that that label will lead to confusion.

    It is quite obvious that there is no such thing as "Christianity". Rather, there are a bunch of different people with vastly different beliefs who all call themselves "Christian".

    Any view that promotes the animalistic instinct of self-preservation over the selfless orientation that

    Do you think that's what Metaphysical Naturalism is about? Hardly. Please visit naturalism.org

    In a nutshell:

    "Naturalism is the understanding that there is a single, natural world as shown by science, and that we are completely included in it. Naturalism holds that everything we are and do is connected to the rest of the world and derived from conditions that precede us and surround us. Each of us is an unfolding natural process, and every aspect of that process is caused, and is a cause itself. So we are fully caused creatures, and seeing just how we are caused gives us power and control, while encouraging compassion and humility. By understanding consciousness, choice, and even our highest capacities as materially based, naturalism re-enchants the physical world, allowing us to be at home in the universe. Naturalism shows our full connection to the world and others, it leads to an ethics of compassion, and it gives us far greater control over our circumstances."

    Sounds a lot like panentheism to me, but I'm no expert. What you call 'God' I call 'Nature'. Let us use a new term between us: The Ultimate.

    Is The Ultimate conscious? Only through us and other living beings. Does The Ultimate have a purpose? Only through us and other living beings. Does The Ultimate have values? Only through us and other living beings.

    Tell me how your view differs from mine, Deek.

    You might find you have more in common with those who call themselves "athesit" than those who call themselves "Christian". These words just get in the way, but unfortunately we must use them until we find a better way.

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  68. I like you unouroboros, if we could all lighten up here a bit and not be so afraid of making some little honest statement that everyone is going to jump on, we probably could have more fun. And have a better dialogue. (sorry anthony I was kind of doing a performance piece with your questions, the last one which didn't get answered by the way, probably because of me goofing around, sorry dude.)

    Nice post Boros (I'm going to call you that from now on, Boros, that sounds pretty cool.) take care man.

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  69. Wishful thinking? Does it really matter?

    Most atheists are atheists because they value truth more than comfort. In my experience anyway, I have not polled the whole lot of us.

    Try to get from merely what is to what ought to be, and you can't.

    This meme is so tiresome.

    unouroboros, if you, me, Derek, Jesus, and MLK were the only people in the universe - don't you think we could reason together and get from an is to an ought? This is not "relativism". It's inter-subjective ethics, which is the closest we will ever get to "objective", whether or not an "objective" ought exists.

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  70. if you, me, Derek, Jesus, and MLK were the only people in the universe - don't you think we could reason together and get from an is to an ought? I'm game! I'll cook a bunch of the time, I make the best scrambled eggs, I'm not kidding they rock!

    But please call me scary, I'm not worthy of being called jesus, yet.

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  71. Scary,

    Your enthusiasm is a little scary. Not that there is anything wrong it, but my hypothetical sausage fest is not my idea of ideal, regardless of your skills with a spatula.

    This man does not live by bread alone.

    But like I said, not that there's anything wrong with it.

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  72. unBeguiled wrote:

    "It is quite obvious that there is no such thing as "Christianity". Rather, there are a bunch of different people with vastly different beliefs who all call themselves "Christian"."

    Word. Everybody engaged in the debate, theists and atheists alike, should read cultural anthropologist David Eller's "Atheism Advanced" on what religion really is, and realize that there's no such thing as "Christianity." Until something better comes along, I view this book as the definite one to read. Some months ago I was trying to get Mariano to read it, and hopefully review it, but it looks like there were no takers, and Mariano is still busy penning his bile at Dawkins...maybe he'll get around to this book in 2012 or so.

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  73. OK, Derek,

    you are a panentheist. You are free to call yourself a Christian of course, but you should realize that that label will lead to confusion.

    It is quite obvious that there is no such thing as "Christianity". Rather, there are a bunch of different people with vastly different beliefs who all call themselves "Christian".


    I am a Christian because I hold to the Nicene Creed. I believe Christ was born of a virgin, was crucified and resurrected. I believe He is the Incarnate Son of God. I believe that He performed miracles.

    When I refer to God's Energies I mean that, for instance, healings take place through participation with these Energies.

    Sounds a lot like panentheism to me, but I'm no expert. What you call 'God' I call 'Nature'. Let us use a new term between us: The Ultimate.

    Is The Ultimate conscious? Only through us and other living beings. Does The Ultimate have a purpose? Only through us and other living beings. Does The Ultimate have values? Only through us and other living beings.

    Tell me how your view differs from mine, Deek.


    If you had not already guessed, we differ greatly. To say that God is conscious is awkward for me because consciousness is a human term. He is beyond any such term. God's purpose (I don't like that word but language fails) would be for us to share in His unselfish love and participate in His Energies and to achieve theosis (deification). As for God having values, I'm not sure what you mean by that.



    You might find you have more in common with those who call themselves "athesit" than those who call themselves "Christian". These words just get in the way, but unfortunately we must use them until we find a better way.

    I have a lot of things in common with atheists, just as any other human being. I can sympathize with the rejection of schizophrenic Western view of God but I am fundamentally opposed to the atheistic worldview since I see no grounding in it for respecting the dignity of being human.

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  74. Adonais,

    Just read that and his other one too. It's good, although I think he's dead wrong about "belief".

    Have you read Atheism Explained by David Ramsay Steele? In my view it's the best thing out there.

    Currently reading The Miracle of Theism by J.L. Makie which is quite dense but thorough. He handles Plantinga quite deftly.

    After that I plan on reading the new book By J.P. Moreland and William Lane Craig.

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  75. Does the world have a purpose?
    We make up our own purposes. So what?


    Do I have significance?
    Each person has significance to themselves and to their loved ones. So what?

    Does Reason itself make sense?
    How could it not?

    Does the Self and is it even real?
    It obviously is...as is the mind. Read a neurophysiology text sometime.

    Is anything really Good? Really Evil? Could there possibly be a correct response? Is Justice not imaginary? Is Love not a delusion? Is existence good? Is there real beauty in the world?
    The causes of love are the same no matter if we have a naturalistic or supernaturalistic view.

    It's obvious that you're just looking for "answers" that make you feel good as opposed to answers that best describe reality. Do you really need a "god" to tell you how to be "good", or to give your life "significance"?

    I'd only say that the ability to admit you were wrong is a great strength. Scientists take note!
    "Scientists take note"? Hah! Theologians and apologists take note is more like it! Apologists spend their careers "defending the faith". Scientists spend their careers investigating and researching facts and experimenting and rooting out inaccuracies. Scientists are far better at admitting mistakes than religous figures. That's how science advances. That's how peer-review works, that's why when something new is discovered through experimentation others try to replicate that experiment before it's accepted.

    For a theist to say what you did is not only ignorant, but it's the height of self-righteousness.

    These are just a few of the basic questions that atheism/Naturalism answer in the negative. Try to get from merely what is to what ought to be, and you can't.
    Why should we? Humans are smart enough to decide whether we want to just follow are base instincts or to strive for something better.


    Better answers? Much better than "You and everything else are a complete fluke and Nothing is ultimate reality." Wishful thinking? Does it really matter?
    Sounds like someone needs a security blanket. So what if the facts are unpleasant? That has no bearing on whether they're true or not. That's the kind of emotionalism that religion uses to drag people in.

    Besides, non-theists generally have no problem dealing with the issues that you're bringing up; they just don't rely on some "god" to hand them the answers on a silver platter.

    I'm referring to better answers in that science comes up with more accurate answers than the bible does about the physical world itself. If the bible can't be counted on to accurately describe the physical world that we can test out, how can it be counted on to describe things that we can't test out (ie. the so-called "spiritual realm" for which there's not a shred of evidence)?

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  76. Derek ain't cooking eggs on our trip, that's for sure. I hate my eggs over-serious.

    Yeah, I hear what your saying Unbeguiled, I'm just having fun at this point. This blog is like watching a bunch of 40 year olds at a Comic-con convention arguing over the particulars of the 1993 Action Comics June release of Death of Superman.

    I'm goofy, but don't underestimate my understanding of Christianity or think I take take the matter lightly.

    I'm just goofy.

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  77. but I am fundamentally opposed to the atheistic worldview since I see no grounding in it for respecting the dignity of being human.

    Atheism is not a worldview!

    The following are worldviews that incidentally are also atheistic:

    Objectivism
    Marxism
    Buddhism
    Post-modernism
    Naturalism
    Raelism
    Secular Humanism

    Please to not conflate these. An atheist simply does not believe in any gods. It is not a worldview. It has no content.

    I don't collect stamps. Is that my hobby?

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  78. You are describing an agnostic with that terminology.

    Perhaps I should re-phrase. I've seen no worldview, in which atheism was inherent, that could account for the value of human life over that of an ant. One can delude themselves into believing that mankind has value but that doesn't fly with me.

    The description you gave for naturalism, though it sounds good, is not coherent. The jumps to humility and compassion come out of nowhere.

    I can find nothing that fits the world better than the Christian concept of God taking His evolved animal and breathing the spirit into him.

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  79. "Just read that and his other one too. It's good, although I think he's dead wrong about "belief"."

    What part do you object to? I don't recall what he said in particular (I'll have to look it up), except that "belief" is a polysemous word with many different concrete meanings, and we have to be careful to not equivocate (I have been arguing this point on several occasions here at AiD). I guess this is the wrong thread, but I haven't had a chance to discuss this book with anyone at all, and there are almost no reviews of it to be found.

    I remember that there were some things in the book that I took issue with (I didn't agree with some of his view on morality, for instance), but on the whole I found it to be a solid and well-researched book, much more so in an overall sense than any of the horsemen books, which are also good, but much narrower in scope and with definite flaws in certain areas. In particular the anthropological perspective is one that none of the horsemen have (to this degree). I didn't find many weaknesses in Eller's latest.

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  80. Addendum: After posting the above comment, I had a look and discovered that John Loftus has written a nice review of "Atheism Advanced" on Amazon.

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  81. By the way, unBeguiled, what do you think of his attempt to coin a new -ism; is "discredism" something we should try to incorporate into our arguments, in order to help the concept on its way, or is it destined for the historical archive of valiant but failed attempts?

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  82. Adonais,

    Page 65 in Atheism Advanced he mentions it briefly. I was referring to a 20 page chapter in Natural Atheism.

    Basically, he seems to think that that the word "belief" is the same as "blind faith". That's just silly. He wants to make a strong distinction between knowledge and belief. I think that's artificial and impossible. My beliefs are on a continuum, like every one else. Some things I believe are almost certainly true, like external objects and other minds, and some things that are very likely but less than certain like whether my parents are my biological parents.

    He makes a huge deal out of it. It's almost like he wants to dogmatically declare the proper usage of a word. Also, I don't remember him ever acknowledging that we can believe things on a sliding scale.

    Other than that, he had some great things to say:

    People don't get argued out of religion because they don't get argued into religion in the first place.

    That is usually true, but not always. All these ex-preachers obviously got argued out of their religion.

    I think his advice about the language games we should play are right on. 'The Christian religion' instead of 'Christianity', 'Christian writings' instead of 'scripture' and so forth. I doubt 'discredism' will catch on, and that's a good thing.

    Just saw your post about 'discredism'!

    We are stuck with atheism, and that's fine with me. 'Brights' likewise to me is just seems rude and juvenile. The theists want 'atheist' to be pejorative. I'm fine with the word, and will just show them they are wrong about atheists, as they are about so much else.

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  83. Derek,

    You are describing an agnostic with that terminology

    I am using the word 'atheist' as the overwhelming majority of self-described atheists use it. As you know, words acquire meaning by how they are used.

    The description you gave for naturalism, though it sounds good, is not coherent. The jumps to humility and compassion come out of nowhere.

    Perhaps in the snapshot I gave you it seems that way. If you have any interest in learning about Naturalism as a worldview read Richard Carrier's Sense and Goodness Without God.

    Not that I expect it would be corrosive to your faith, but just to learn where people like me are coming from.

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  84. "Page 65 in Atheism Advanced he mentions it briefly. I was referring to a 20 page chapter in Natural Atheism."

    Ah. Ok I see what you mean. I haven't read his first book, but he goes into somewhat more detail on his view of belief in chapter 11 in AA, in particular pp. 404-408. I agree he may be hardballing it a bit, but I'm not sure I recognize your description. If you read the paragraph in the middle of page 408 (before the section "The Evolution of Belief in Christianity"), he is basically giving the word "belief" the same treatment as religion and language, i.e. there is no such thing as generic religion or belief, only specific religions and beliefs. It seemed to me that on pp. 404-405 he did go to the trouble to establish that "belief" is indeed a concept that comes in different categories. Aside from this (which to my mind is good enough), I don't know if he explicitly acknowledges somewhere that beliefs exist on a continuum, but does he explicitly or implicitly deny it somewhere? Maybe his views have changed somewhat from his first book, but since I haven't read that one I can't say.

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  85. Well fellas, I've enjoyed the 'dialogue'. I shall not be around again soon.
    Closing remarks:

    Scary J, you are indeed gracious. I also like my new nickname. I sound like some kind of cool chemical or superhero. :P

    Reynold,
    I'm merely pointing out that atheism has no answers to some aspects of reality (not just the physical ones).
    Your "So whats" break down when you come into conflict with someone elses "purposes" or what they consider "significant". Can you see what I'm saying?

    Also, I was just having fun with you about "Scientists take note!" Of course scientists have great ways of improving our knowledge of facts. I just found it humorous that you can't accept in theologians what you accept in scientists : admitting mistakes.

    Whether we want to "just follow are [sic] base instincts or ... strive for something better" has no independent value. Your dreams and aspirations are no better or worse than Genghis Khan's.

    The facts are not unpleasant (in my worldview).
    Not having a problem about these issues I raise has no bearing on the rationalism of atheism. People fail to see inconsistencies all the time. That you don't see that there really isn't any basis for anything you or anyone else does doesn't mean there is one (from your worldview).

    If the bible can't be counted on to accurately describe the physical world that we can test out, how can it be counted on to describe things that we can't test out (ie. the so-called "spiritual realm" for which there's not a shred of evidence)?
    The Bible doesn't pretend to be a physical sciences textbook. It is a book on what God has done for us and how we are to live. You're under no obligation to accept it. Either you (your mind [a good example of our spiritual side], your self) are immortal or you are not. If not, live as you please - it makes no difference. If yes, consider deeply the consequences of a laissez-faire attitude.

    Peace,
    Boros :)

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  86. Adonais,

    Those 4 pages in AA are much better and more clear than what he was trying to do in the first book. I think indeed his position has become somewhat less dogmatic. He is right that when we converse we need to be clear what we mean by the word 'belief', just as I have tried to do with these guys about the word 'faith'.

    In a recent conversation on youtube, a member of a Christian religion said this: "the fact is a lot of catholics do not even know THEIR own catholic view".

    I jumped all over him:

    This statement sums up the problem with the religious mind. What could it possibly mean to not know your own view? If it is your view, then you know it.

    Of course what he means is most Catholics don't know what the church COMMANDS them to believe.

    But , then it's really not his own view, is it?

    So read more theology and learn what a good pliable Catholic is supposed to believe. By all means, don't think for yourself.


    I also notice in that thread I make heavy use of Eller's language game. Funny, I don't remember doing that at all.

    I also saw this book title recently: The Apologetics Study Bible: Understand Why You Believe. I believe humans and dogs share a common ancestor. I also know 'why' I believe that. If I didn't, I would not believe it.

    I think you would really like Atheism Explained. It's philosophical, and also very funny. Steele has a unique approach to Cosmological Arguments involving a clarification of the word 'universe'. I'll blog about that eventually.

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  87. Also, I was just having fun with you about "Scientists take note!" Of course scientists have great ways of improving our knowledge of facts. I just found it humorous that you can't accept in theologians what you accept in scientists : admitting mistakes.
    Just a quick one, then. Compared to scientists, theologians rarely admit mistakes. If they did, I daresay they'd not be theologians anymore. Given how many times the bible's been shown to be wrong on factual matters of the world around us, one would think that there'd be no "biblical literalists" out there anymore. Instead, all they do is move the goalposts. That's not the same as admitting that they were wrong.

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  88. Whether we want to "just follow are [sic] base instincts or ... strive for something better" has no independent value. Your dreams and aspirations are no better or worse than Genghis Khan's.
    Except that mine wouldn't involve killing a whole bunch of people. Sounds like it may have some "independent value" after all.

    We just don't have any outside "authority" telling us that. So what? It seems to me that's what you want. You seem to want there to be these "feel-good" answers that only the god of the religion of your choice can provide.


    The Bible doesn't pretend to be a physical sciences textbook. It is a book on what God has done for us and how we are to live. You're under no obligation to accept it. Either you (your mind [a good example of our spiritual side], your self) are immortal or you are not.
    Does the bible not talk about the physical world to some extent? If it does, then it's open to scrutiny regardless of whether it claims to be a "science text" or not, since christians claim it's "gods word"


    As for the mind, there is no evidence that it exists outside of the physical brain. If it did exist, even to some extent, outside of the physical brain, then damage to the brain, and diseases which affect the physical structure of the brain wouldn't have the effects that they do.

    Think: If just damaging the brain impairs thinking ability, then why assume that the complete shutdown of the brain, as in death, will NOT prevent a person from thinking? (the religous belief in life and consciousness after death)?

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  89. Mariano has you guys riled up.

    I didn't read this whole column, nor all the comments, and I have not seen Expelled. But, "Religulous" was a piece of garbage. It wasn't in the least bit enlightening. And, I'm not attacking Maher's belief-system, just his methodology which was hideously dominated with hate and misplaced arrogant condescension.

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  90. unBeguiled wrote:

    "I doubt 'discredism' will catch on, and that's a good thing.

    Just saw your post about 'discredism'!

    We are stuck with atheism, and that's fine with me. 'Brights' likewise to me is just seems rude and juvenile. The theists want 'atheist' to be pejorative. I'm fine with the word, and will just show them they are wrong about atheists, as they are about so much else."


    Well, I agree that atheism isn't going to be replaced now, but I see that as being solely for historical reasons rather than logical ones. Discredism is a broader notion that subsumes atheism, and could be seen as a sort of methodological cousin to naturalism. I think it is probably true that most atheists are also discredists, in the sense that they are a-fairyists, a-astrologists, a-ghostists, etc. I think it could be a useful term, if people started using it, to denote the skeptical approach that is fostered by naturalism and becomes the parent of atheism. The New Atheism is so démodé, you know :-)

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  91. Just because an atheist doesn't defer to an unproven and imaginary being when asked "How do you know" does not automatically constitute an incorrect stance on part of the atheist. The “logic” applied in this line of reasoning is the same logic that has allowed creationist nonsense to manifest in spite of the overwhelming evidence for evolution and the force behind twisting all of sciences’ findings on the topic in a manner that erroneously discredits scientists and bolsters religious claims.

    And that “stumbling and fumbling” that you speak of; That is what happens when you ask a person who thinks for themselves tries to answer a question based on their own (possibly limited) knowledge and experience instead of regurgitating canned answers fed from the religious hierarchy that hold no real weight, but sound good when they back up what you already “feel” is the right answer.

    The religious masses of the world do not know if they are correct either. Now you may say that you "know" that you are right because you feel it in your heart when you jump around the floor at your church on Sunday, but that feeling you have is just that, a feeling. And what your emotions tell you is the "truth" doesn't mean that we are wrong when the same feeling isn't found in our "hearts", regardless of what some man-made, patched together book says.

    There was a time when everything in the world that was unexplained revolved around a God or God’s, but as science continued to find the real reasons for specific phenomena over the centuries the need for God as an explanation slowly disappeared. The last refuge for the dying belief in superstition and imaginary gods is the ultimate question of “Where did we come from.” The question isn’t really that hard to fathom if you truly study the sciences, but studying science is really hard and confusing, right? I mean, who has the time or even needs to when I can just ask someone else at church on Sunday what I should think? And who are we to question God’s almighty plan?

    I know that the main tenet in my (rational) view is logic and I know that the religious people of the world do not want to hear about logic. Logic is what started the secular humanist movement that got us into the horrible, Godless mess that we’re in right now. It’s what has made church attendance in Europe drop below 5% and given the atheists of the United States a 16% share of the population.

    But it is also what got us to the moon and found the cure for smallpox. Given the choice between praying for a miracle regeneration to an amputees missing leg (which we all know will never happen no matter how much we pray) and helping fund scientific research to find better ways to make prosthetics, the smart money is clearly on science. Otherwise we’d have a whole lot more completely incapacitated amputees’ waiting around for an answer that will never come.

    I find this website and entire project laughable because atheism is only going to continue to grow in years to come because the religious fanatics of the world are no longer allowed to label us as witches or heretics and burn, behead or stone us. Make sure you properly brainwash your children because that is the only way your charade will continue into the future. Oh, and have fun fighting a losing battle, atheism will never die….

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  92. I didn't read this whole column, nor all the comments, and I have not seen Expelled. But, "Religulous" was a piece of garbage. It wasn't in the least bit enlightening. And, I'm not attacking Maher's belief-system, just his methodology which was hideously dominated with hate and misplaced arrogant condescension.
    From the accounts I've posted before here, it seems that you're right about "Religulous", though it was not as bad as "Expelled" for outright demonizing people.

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