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Scientists have located the oldest known human grave site, located in the Middle East.  (Source: PLoS One/University of Toronto)

Multiple human remains were found at the site, dating back 16,500 years ago.  (Source: PLoS One/University of Toronto)

Some of the graves also contained tools, likely used in hunting or starting fires.  (Source: PLoS One/University of Toronto)

A fox was also buried with one of the humans. Researchers speculate it might have been a pet, killed and buried when its master died.  (Source: PLoS One/University of Toronto)
Discovery marks the oldest discovered cemetery yet

Debate is still raging about when exactly modern man diverged from its hominid ancestors and where exactly the first humans arose, but archaeologists have made significant progress at the other end, filling in the blanks about human settlements.

A significant discovery was made in the Middle East by an international team of researchers, which included professors from Canada's University of Toronto and England's University of Cambridge.  The discovery was a burial site that dates back to 16,500 years ago and marks the oldest example of ceremonial burial, a hallmark of human behavior and culture that persists to this day.

The dig site is dubbed "Uyun al-Hammam" and is located in Northern Jordan's Al Koura district.  For those who don't have a map handy, Jordan lies at the center of the Middle East, to the west of Iraq, to the north of Saudia Arabia, to the east of Israel, and to the south of Syria.

It was discovered by University of Toronto professor Edward (Ted) Banning [profile] and Lisa Maher [profile], an assistant professor of anthropology at U of T and research associate at the University of Cambridge back in 2000.  Previously, several gravesites had been found dating back to the slightly more recent Natufian period, ca. 15,000-12,000 years ago.  Those burials showed intriguing findings, including burials of humans with dogs (presumably pets) and with tortoise shells.

The graves at the new, older site (from the period often referred to as Kebaran -- ca. 21,000 to 12,000 years ago) reveal the placement of "grave goods" -- symbolic items -- with the deceased.  Among the items found buried include stone tools, a bone spoon, animal parts, and red ochre (an iron mineral).

The researchers also found a fox skull and leg bone buried with one of the humans.  The bones had red ochre on them.  As the rest of the fox was found in the other grave, it was speculated that the body was moved after burial and that part of the fox was transplanted to the new site.

Describes Professor Maher [press release], "What we appear to have found is a case where a fox was killed and buried with its owner. Later, the grave was reopened for some reason and the human's body was moved. But because the link between the fox and the human had been significant, the fox was moved as well."

The special attachment to the fox might mean that it was a pet according to the researchers.  Some have suggested that there were efforts to domesticate foxes, and the researchers believe this could be one of those attempts.  

However, researchers aren't entirely sure if the fox was a pet hunter, or the hunted.  States Professor Banning, "[I]t is also noteworthy that the graves contain other animal remains, so we can only take the fox-dog analogy so far. "We should remember that some more recent hunter-gatherers consider themselves to have social relationships with a wide range of wild animals, including ones they hunt, and that this sometimes led to prescribed ways to treat the remains of animals, as well as to represent relationships between particular humans and particular animals."

A study on the findings was published [abstract] in the online, peer-reviewed journal PLoS ONE.  The dig was partially funded by Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and a National Geographic Research Exploration Grant.



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What!?
By fic2 on 2/3/2011 6:07:35 PM , Rating: 2
But, wait - I thought the bible said the earth is only 6,000 years old. Did god plant this graveyard there as a joke? Are there any bones from their pet dinosaurs?




RE: What!?
By mamisano on 2/3/11, Rating: 0
RE: What!?
By Amedean on 2/3/2011 6:16:11 PM , Rating: 3
Geeze, if you criticize the Bible them please do it correctly. The Bible is not perfect time record but it does not say the earth is exactly 6000 years old.


RE: What!?
By headbox on 2/3/11, Rating: 0
RE: What!?
By Mclendo06 on 2/3/11, Rating: 0
RE: What!?
By ereavis on 2/3/2011 7:28:51 PM , Rating: 1
See below reply, the historical portions of the bible and science rarely actually conflict. It's only the zealots on either side that insist they do. Genesis is the history of a lineage of man, not the history of Earth. Having read all of Moses' books and beyond, I've certainly seen time gaps in what you call "methodically."


RE: What!?
By headbox on 2/3/2011 8:15:27 PM , Rating: 1
rarely conflict? LOL!


RE: What!?
By MrBlastman on 2/3/2011 8:51:18 PM , Rating: 2
I'm so sick of this, not every religious person (Christian, Jew etc.) takes things LITERALLY out of the bible and they actually believe in science as well.

Proof? This guy theorized the Big Bang... Ever hear of Georges Lemaitre?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georges_Lema%C3%AEtre


RE: What!?
By Solandri on 2/3/2011 9:33:10 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, this guy is a better example:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaac_Newton%27s_reli...


RE: What!?
By MrBlastman on 2/3/2011 10:35:17 PM , Rating: 4
Good example. :)

What I find hard to understand is why the Atheists (the thick-headed ones at least) can not co-exist with the religious folk (including the fanatics).

It is quite possible... if people open their minds. It would do wonders... like end the stupid, incessant, never-ending bantering back and forth pissing in each other's faces about who is right and who is wrong.

Seriously, isn't this world big enough for everyone to just scoot around and live their lives while science flourishes? It is, after all, the only thing that will allow man to get off of this rock, out of our solar system and around the galaxy.


RE: What!?
By bigboxes on 2/4/2011 4:32:08 AM , Rating: 5
You mean like liberals and conservatives?


RE: What!?
By rikulus on 2/4/2011 8:42:20 AM , Rating: 2
Whoa, are you really suggesting that there is a big problem with atheists disagreeing with religious folks? Sure, they disagree with each other, but I'd say it stays fairly civil for the most part, at least on the atheist's side. Certainly in comparison to the conflicts between religious folk. If we could get religious folk to co-exist with religious folk by opening their minds, that could really make a difference in the world.


RE: What!?
By nafhan on 2/4/2011 11:22:09 AM , Rating: 3
What about Stalin?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stalin#Religion

Or the French revolution?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_revolution#Rev...

Not trying to say I have something against atheists. I'm more trying to point out that some people are willing to do drastic things for there beliefs - religious, political, scientific, or other.


RE: What!?
By mcnabney on 2/4/11, Rating: 0
RE: What!?
By Solandri on 2/4/2011 1:40:20 PM , Rating: 3
Bigoted? Which side of this argument is the one having their posts downrated here simply for expressing their opinion?

I know lots of religious people and lots of atheists. The vast majority don't care about the religious/atheist views of the businesses they patronize, whom they vote for*, or whom they consider Americans. Most of the religious folks see the value in separation of church and state. And most of the atheists agree that completely cutting off all religious organizations from involvement in any government program would be discriminatory.

In truth, it's a small minority of extremists in both groups who are pointing fingers at each other to unfairly characterize the mostly indifferent majority as unreasonable, uncompromising bigots. Most of us get along just fine. But there always seems to be a few religious nutjosb who feel they need to convert everyone, or some atheists who feel any statement even open to the possibility of religion must be disproven and discredited.

*The voting accusation is particularly troubling since it characterizes a problem I've been seeing more and more in political discourse online. People are creating more and more strawmen. A person may vote for a candidate for a dozen or more reasons; none of which alone would've been enough to get their vote, but together they're enough. Someone opposed to the person or candidate will pick out the one reason which is least defensible, and try to characterize that as the sole reason for the decision. That's why we have common memes like the Iraq war was all about oil, or that everyone who buys hybrids is a smug tree hugger.

This isn't about religious or atheist, conservative or liberal, pc or mac, nor even Star Wars or Star Trek. This is about respecting your fellow man. The first step in the propaganda machine of war is to dehumanize your opponent. It's easy to insult, denigrate, and yes even kill someone if you don't think of them as a person, as something so despicable it's ok to hate them. Don't let that happen. Find some people with wildly different opinions from yours and make friends with them. I think you'll find that except for the few things you disagree on, they are people with similar concerns and worries about life just like you, and that you have a lot more in common than you have differences.


RE: What!?
By lecanard on 2/4/2011 7:52:07 PM , Rating: 2
Well put!

I think most people are reasonable and trying to do what's right. People who go around insulting and misrepresenting the motives of those with whom they disagree are only helping to perpetuate bigotry and intolerance.


RE: What!?
By lecanard on 2/4/2011 7:54:18 PM , Rating: 2
I was replying to Solandri, not mcnabney, but I think DT is displaying it wrong.


RE: What!?
By William Gaatjes on 2/10/2011 1:49:18 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, but you forget that the big bang theory he theorized fitted with a universe created by a god. The god he believed in. His way to reconcile the data found from observation of space at that time and the research into the atom(around 1930) and his belief in the existence of god and his view of the bible. Later on, the pope at that time was very interested but the roman catholic church wanted to push it to far, which Lemaître opposed.


RE: What!?
By retrospooty on 2/7/2011 7:33:07 AM , Rating: 2
"Genesis is the history of a lineage of man, not the history of Earth"

I am quite positive it starts where there was nothing, and God created light, then all the rest etc etc. Then he created man. To say it doesnt conflict it obsurd.

The bible was not written by some divine entity... It was written by primitive humans that had zero understanding of hte world they lived in. It was a way to describe the indescribable. The fact that billions follow it word for word in the face of undeniable fact is what boggles my mind.


RE: What!?
By Breathless on 2/4/2011 9:18:52 AM , Rating: 3
Amazing how some people seem to regard dating as infallible, or even remotely accurate past a few thousand years.


RE: What!?
By walmartshopper on 2/4/2011 12:25:18 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly, radioactive dating doesn't give an age, it gives an amount of carbon (or whatever element you test for), and that number is interpreted into an age based on our assumptions about what happened in the past. For example, if you assumed there really was a global flood as described in genesis, you would arrive at a dramatically different age. When interpreting dating results, we are assuming that we are correct about the earth's history. I'm not trying to start an argument about young earth vs old earth. Just pointing out, as Breathless said, that people regard dating results as infallible, yet those results are tied to our current understanding of earth's past, which continues to change.

It's a different type of science. We can't directly observe what happened that long ago, so we look at the bits and pieces left over and try to interpret what happened. That's why two people can look at the same fossil record and come up with completely different interpretations. One person might see a huge fossil graveyard and come to the conclusion that a large meteorite caused a mass extinction. Another person could see the same fossil graveyard and conclude that a large flood buried a bunch of animals together (I realize that the article is about an organized human graveyard). The way we interpret the evidence is based on what we already believe to be true.


RE: What!?
By wgbutler on 2/4/11, Rating: -1
RE: What!?
By MrBungle123 on 2/5/2011 1:50:07 PM , Rating: 2
I just guessing here, but i've always thought that most of the flood myths from around the world were probably a result of the sea level coming up something like 300 feet at the end of the last Ice Age... I would bet that there are numerous under water valleys all over the world where people used to live, I'm sure that for anyone living at that time having the ocean pour over that last ridge and bury their home and way of life under a couple hundered feet of water it would have been like the whole world flooded. The story gets passed down 30 or 40 generations and we get what we have today... a bunch of legends and no one really knows for sure what started them all.


RE: What!?
By YashBudini on 2/3/11, Rating: 0
RE: What!?
By Belard on 2/4/2011 8:47:56 AM , Rating: 5
Who cares, that bimbo is a Russian spy.

- She doesn't know American history (typical spy failure)
- Red is her favorite color
- Bear = Russian mascot
- Said she can see Russia outside her window.

Proof, she's a commie spy.


RE: What!?
By rika13 on 2/4/2011 9:59:52 AM , Rating: 1
Obama claimed he visited 57 states during campaigning, and despite being a Constitutional law professor, supports the Affordable Care Act which openly violates the Constitution of both the Federal, and many State governments (requirement to purchase violates the 13th amendment, exemptions for unions and certain states violates due process, etc.).

Most Americans believe the Civil War was about slavery, instead of secession and were probably never taught that Lincoln heavily abused his power by suspending habeas corpus, dispersing funds before Congress appropriated them, and imprisoned thousands of "Confederate sympathizers" without warrant or trial. Further, most Americans were never taught that Lincoln was the first GOP president, that the GOP's birthplace was Illinois, and that his Democrat opponent supported slavery if the people allowed it, which the South was reliant upon.

By such logic, this means that most Americans secretly have a hammer and sickle secretly woven inside the American flag they put out on their porch.


RE: What!?
By Joz on 2/3/11, Rating: 0
RE: What!?
By snakeInTheGrass on 2/4/2011 12:42:16 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
I will say this as a jew:


OK, now I can't read the rest of your post without imagining the rest spoken with a thick Yiddish accent... Oy! ;)


RE: What!?
By rikulus on 2/4/2011 8:44:41 AM , Rating: 2
Um, yeah, Jewish people never mix religion and politics...


RE: What!?
By wgbutler on 2/4/11, Rating: -1
RE: What!?
By rikulus on 2/4/2011 8:54:09 AM , Rating: 2
I would honestly be interested in hearing what the "cutting edge philosophy, science and ideas which support Christianity tremendously" are. I'm not sure what that refers to, so presumably others don't either, and therefore can't have discussions to those points.


RE: What!?
By wgbutler on 2/4/11, Rating: -1
RE: What!?
By B3an on 2/4/2011 4:11:30 PM , Rating: 2
Science that supports Christianity/Bible = a handful of things. Half of which has been twisted to somewhat support it in a vague way, the other half simply made up or opinion... "we exist so some magical being must have brought us into existence" ? Thats evidence and science?

Now science that does not support Christianity/Bible = about 50 bajillion things.

But you're clearly religious so arguing with you is a complete waste of time, nothing will get through, logic is wasted, reality has no bearing, and truth and facts are irrelevant.


RE: What!?
By wgbutler on 2/4/2011 4:57:35 PM , Rating: 2
quote:

But you're clearly religious so arguing with you is a complete waste of time, nothing will get through, logic is wasted, reality has no bearing, and truth and facts are irrelevant


I'm also a former atheist who became a Christian in large part because of the science. In my view the Christian worldview explains the most about where we came from and why we are here.

If you want to make a postive case for atheism, I am willing to hear your arguments. You have to explain how it is more likely that the Universe exploded into being from nothing, was somehow exquisitely fine-tuned to allow stars and life, and then much later a self-replicating life form formed out of mud, and then evolved into a human being.

You also have to explain how a bunch of sheep herders someone got it all right and why all of the commands and precepts in the Bible lead to the healthiest results for an individual and society. For example, we are now seeing in society the catastrophic consequences that result from fatherless homes and promiscuity. We also see amazing things like medical benefits from circumcision, etc, things that these ancient simpletons could have never even grasped.

So stop with the histrionics and make your case.


RE: What!?
By MrBungle123 on 2/5/2011 2:02:21 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I am willing to hear your arguments. You have to explain how it is more likely that the Universe exploded into being from nothing, was somehow exquisitely fine-tuned to allow stars and life, and then much later a self-replicating life form formed out of mud, and then evolved into a human being.


I guess I'll give this a shot...

Ok, so you're essentially saying that it is impossible that the universe self orgainzed into its current form because it is mathematically highly unlikely that it would do so. However you are forgetting that in order for something to create something else it MUST be more complicated than the creation because it must contain all the information to create the creation... Therefore, arguing that the universe is too complicated to have created itself and that it is more likely that an even MORE COMPLICATED god created it is illogical. It is less likely that a being capible of creating the universe would exist from nothing then it is that the universe would exist from nothing.


RE: What!?
By Celestion on 2/5/11, Rating: -1
RE: What!?
By PaterPelligrino on 2/6/2011 12:28:02 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
No. The complexity of God is irrelevant. If the Christian concept of God is true then God has always existed. Nothing created God, thus his complexity is irrelevant.


A more perfect example of the empty circular-reasoning that characterizes all religious thinking could not be had. All that statement says is that if it's true then it's true and there's no need to doubt the dogma.

Tho it is true that science can't explain everything, the more relevant observation here is that religion can't explain anything. Unlike scientific knowledge, religious dogma has no predictive force whatsoever, and while some of it's tenants are not presently disprovable, neither are they provable; i.e., they are both unfalsifiable and unverifiable, which means they are wholly without practical utility other than that of satisfying the emotional need to give life some kind of human sense.

The true believer will never change his mind no matter what he experiences; no matter what he is told he will never seriously entertain the idea that his tradition-derived deity doesn't exist. That is because his need-driven beliefs precede and determine what he knows, and since those beliefs cannot be falsified, his knowledge is safely sheltered from all doubt. It's a perfectly closed system, immune from any challenge. All religious knowledge is at heart just this kind of self-referential circular reasoning: it's true because I deeply believe it, I believe it because it's self-evidently true. He lives his life in a feel-good logical bubble. Everything is all right, the cosmic daddy will take care of him. If you buy into the narrative, it all makes sense, if you haven't drunk the Koolaid, you feel as if you've followed Alice down the rabbit hole.

Doesn't the existence of all these mutually-contradictory religions give the game away? Despite radically conflicting claims, none of them can ever win the argument against the others because each is nothing more than an unverifiable imaginary narrative. The Hindu, Inca, Buddhist, Muslim, Shaman, Christian, Pantheist - feel free to invent your own - all have equal claim to the truth. Anubis, Viracocha, Ganesha, Anansi, Jehovah, the Easter Bunny - whatever gets you through the night. The fact that not all of these creeds can be correct tells you all you need to know about human psychology and religious belief.

Well, the believer has one advantage over the atheist: if he is wrong, he will never know it. It's a great racket, you get to tell yourself feel-good, irrefutable bedtime stories for the rest of your life, all for the modest price of sacrificing your intellectual integrity.


RE: What!?
By Celestion on 2/6/2011 3:32:29 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
A more perfect example of the empty circular-reasoning that characterizes all religious thinking could not be had. All that statement says is that if it's true then it's true and there's no need to doubt the dogma.
I completely agree with you. My intent is not to prove that God exists. This is impossible hence the concept of "blind faith". My intent is communicate that Christianity is "unfalsifiable" which you seem to have already understood.

quote:
...which means [religions] are wholly without practical utility other than that of satisfying the emotional need to give life some kind of human sense.
Other than maintaining social order their utility exclusively circular in nature. You're going to hate this... If particular religion is true than its utility is infinite i.e. you won't won't go to hell if you believe in it.

quote:
Despite radically conflicting claims, none of them can ever win the argument against the others because each is nothing more than an unverifiable imaginary narrative.
Empirical historical evidence supports much of Biblical narrative. Secondly the Bible contains several verifiable fulfilled prophecies. No other religion has successfully predicted the future and most have not attempted to. Because of this Christianity is differs from every other religion. For example, In Ezekiel 26:21, it is said that the Phoenician city of Tyre would be brought to an end and would never again be found. When Alexander the Great destroyed the city in 332 BC, he brought the Phoenician Empire to an end. The Empire was never revived or "found" again. As for the city itself, it has been torn down and built upon by a succession of foreign powers. Today, finding artifacts from the original Phoenician Tyre is difficult at best. According to the Columbia Encyclopedia, Fifth Edition: "The principal ruins of the city today are those of buildings erected by the Crusaders. There are some Greco-Roman remains, but any left by the Phoenicians lie underneath the present town."

The are many many other fulfilled prophesies like this in the Bible.


RE: What!?
By Celestion on 2/6/2011 3:34:24 AM , Rating: 2
I'm tired hence the plethora of grammatical errors.


RE: What!?
By MrBungle123 on 2/6/2011 5:36:08 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
For example, In Ezekiel 26:21, it is said that the Phoenician city of Tyre would be brought to an end and would never again be found.


I could say the same thing about New York, if we wait long enough I'll be right... that doesn't make me a supernaturally inspired prophet. I have a hard time accepting any prophecy that doesn't include a specific date and time because human civilization has a bad habbit of making the same mistakes generation after generation, if you're vague enough and don't give specifics you'll be right every time by pulling parallels from the past.


RE: What!?
By PaterPelligrino on 2/6/2011 2:47:06 AM , Rating: 5
quote:
If you want to make a postive case for atheism, I am willing to hear your arguments. You have to explain how it is more likely that the Universe exploded into being from nothing, was somehow exquisitely fine-tuned to allow stars and life, and then much later a self-replicating life form formed out of mud, and then evolved into a human being.


So let me get this straight - you reject the non-deity driven big bang because it doesn't make sense to you that something could "explode into existence from nothing", yet have no problem accepting all the logical drivel of eternally-existing supernatural beings, burning bushes that talk, some dude cramming two of all exiting species of animal and insect onto his wooden boat, water into wine, etc.etc. You pounce of every tiny ambiguity in the very elegant and convincing theory of evolution so as to wave away it's threat to your core beliefs, yet unquestioningly accept all the absurdities written in your holy book. You really don't see the contradiction in that?

If you held your own beliefs to the same exacting standards you inflexibly apply to those elements of science that threaten your beliefs, you would stop at agnosticism. Yet you go on to espouse the most unthinking and radically conservative, dogma-bound version of Christianity - the belief that everything written in the Old Testament is literally true. Clearly - clear to anyone who hasn't drunk the Koolaid, that is - what drives your religious beliefs is psychological need, not reason.

In fact the only science you seem to reject is that with threatens your god-centric world-view. You're not here to argue science, your here to defend the Bible. That's why the only articles you post to are those that concern science's threat to Biblical dogma. If it said somewhere in the OT that Jehovah directed the rise of new species on earth via natural selection, hey presto, you would become the forum president of the Darwin Fan Club. Skepticism doesn't stop at your front door babe; anyone can play the skeptic when it concerns ideas you find emotionally disagreeable.


RE: What!?
By Celestion on 2/6/2011 3:48:24 AM , Rating: 2
Koolaid = Christianity

Pelligrino = Atheism or Agnosticism

Did you do this on purpose? You probably did. It is funny.

Anyway Koolaid tastes way better than pretentious Pelligrino. Actually if I had to drink either Koolaid or Pelligrino for the rest of my life I would choose Pelligrino. Koolaid would get old fast.


RE: What!?
By wgbutler on 2/7/2011 4:47:04 PM , Rating: 2
PaterPelligrino,

Thanks for your latest reply. My response follows:

quote:

you reject the non-deity driven big bang because it doesn't make sense to you that something could "explode into existence from nothing"


No it really doesn't make sense to me that something could pop into existence from nothing. Does it make sense to you? Even if I grant that some unknown materialistic process created the singularity that led to the Big Bang, you would still have some major problems:

1) What caused THAT unknown materialistic process to come into being?
2) Why is the Universe so amazingly fine-tuned to allow stars and life? Did we just get really lucky?

The God hypothesis is a much simpler explanation to these problems rather than coming up with some convoluted materialistic scheme to explain why we are here.

And if you really don't know what caused the singularity, how can you be so sure that it WASN'T an intelligent Being?

quote:

yet have no problem accepting all the logical drivel of eternally-existing supernatural beings


Something has to have eternally existed. Even if you don't want to grant the possibility of God, you have to say that some mindless, materialistic Universe creating mechanism has always existed. I don't buy that things just pop into existence from nothing.

quote:

burning bushes that talk, some dude cramming two of all exiting species of animal and insect onto his wooden boat, water into wine, etc.etc.


Once you grant the possibility of a Being who can create a Universe and design life, all of these supposedly ridiculous things you mention become trivial.

quote:

You pounce of every tiny ambiguity in the very elegant and convincing theory of evolution so as to wave away it's threat to your core beliefs, yet unquestioningly accept all the absurdities written in your holy book.


Well for one thing I have no problem with the concept of micro-evolution. I have a very hard time accepting Darwinism, however, as morphing a simple bacteria-like organism through billions of generations into a eventual human being requires a massive input of new information that blind, mechanistic processes just can't deliver.

We don't see these blind processes creating new information now. It is true that species do evolve and adapt. The vast majority of the time this involves deactivating a gene or destroying existing information.

To be honest with you the Bible doesn't specifically say that God did NOT use evolution to make human beings. It's possible that God did make humans that way. There are plenty of theistic evolutionists out there.

I object to Darwinism mostly because I don't see the scientific evidence backing it up, either what we do in the labs or what we see in the fossil record, with new species suddenly coming onto the scene with no biological precursors.

quote:

Skepticism doesn't stop at your front door babe; anyone can play the skeptic when it concerns ideas you find emotionally disagreeable.


Well I've changed my views on ideas that I was emotionally beholden to before and I'm sure I'll do it again. I have yet to see an atheist make a good case for atheism. Most of the time atheists defend their point of view by attacking other ideas. Sometimes they have a point but it still doesn't make the case for atheism.


RE: What!?
By Calindar on 2/7/2011 10:28:20 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
No it really doesn't make sense to me that something could pop into existence from nothing. Does it make sense to you?

No, and the Big Bang theory doesn't make this claim, only religion claims that something came from nothing. The Big Bang Theory claims the known universe was in a hot dense state and underwent an expansion. Religion claims that the universe was poofed into existence from nothing by a supernatural being.

quote:
What caused THAT unknown materialistic process to come into being?
You are invoking a god of the gaps. Just because we can't fully explain something, doesn't mean a magical deity is responsible.

quote:
Why is the Universe so amazingly fine-tuned to allow stars and life? Did we just get really lucky?

I have already addressed this with you. The fine-tuned argument is ridiculous because you are looking at the causality the wrong way. You are looking at our existence and then assuming the universe is perfect for us. In reality, if the universe wasn't proper for us to exist, we wouldn't exist at all. We are a product of the way the universe is, not the other way around.

quote:
The God hypothesis is a much simpler explanation to these problems rather than coming up with some convoluted materialistic scheme to explain why we are here.

Of course it is. "God did it" is always the simpler explanation. Why? Because it requires no critical thinking, no observation, no problem solving, and provides no predictive capabilities. It is an intellectually bankrupt position that has only been proven wrong and never been proven right. It was a simpler explanation to say that a god caused lightning, the sun to rise, the tides to move, and animals to exist as they are. Through critical thinking and "convoluted materialistic schemes", all have been proven wrong.

quote:
And if you really don't know what caused the singularity, how can you be so sure that it WASN'T an intelligent Being?

Another logical fallacy. You are asking for proof of a negative. You can't be SURE is wasn't the judeo-christian god, just as you can't be SURE it wasn't a flying pink unicorn, or a flying spaghetti monster.

quote:
Something has to have eternally existed. Even if you don't want to grant the possibility of God, you have to say that some mindless, materialistic Universe creating mechanism has always existed. I don't buy that things just pop into existence from nothing.
And yet, you are professing that you "buy" a magical deity popping the entire universe into existence from nothing.

quote:
Well for one thing I have no problem with the concept of micro-evolution. I have a very hard time accepting Darwinism, however, as morphing a simple bacteria-like organism through billions of generations into a eventual human being requires a massive input of new information that blind, mechanistic processes just can't deliver.

"Micro-evolution" is just a semantic division of evolution so that the religious can admit that the mechanics of evolution make sense without "macro-evolution" disrupting their world view. In reality, there is no difference, "macro-evolution" is just an extrapolation of "micro-evolution".


RE: What!?
By wgbutler on 2/8/2011 10:51:21 AM , Rating: 2
Calindar,

quote:

The Big Bang Theory claims the known universe was in a hot dense state and underwent an expansion. Religion claims that the universe was poofed into existence from nothing by a supernatural being.


Not true. See this link:

http://www.allaboutscience.org/cosmological-argume...

quote:

In a series of papers culminating in 2003, Arvind Borde, Alan Guth, and Alexander Vilenkin were able to prove that any universe which is, on average, in a state of cosmic expansion cannot be eternal in the past but must have an absolute beginning. This includes all universe models that honestly assess the available data. Regarding this, Vilenkin states: “It is said that an argument is what convinces reasonable men and a proof is what it takes to convince even an unreasonable man. With the proof now in place, cosmologists can no longer hide behind the possibility of a past-eternal universe. There is no escape, they have to face the problem of a cosmic beginning...


--------------------------

quote:

Just because we can't fully explain something, doesn't mean a magical deity is responsible.


And just because you can't explain something, that doesn't mean that random, non-intelligent natural processes are responsible.

--------------------------

quote:

I have already addressed this with you. The fine-tuned argument is ridiculous because you are looking at the causality the wrong way. You are looking at our existence and then assuming the universe is perfect for us. In reality, if the universe wasn't proper for us to exist, we wouldn't exist at all. We are a product of the way the universe is, not the other way around.


This is a complete cop-out and non-response to a legitimate point. Theodore M. Drange shot down this line of reasoning by comparing it to a prisoner to be executed by a squad of 100 sharpshooters. They all aim at the prisoner and shoot their rifles. Somehow, miraculously, the sharpshooter is unharmed. And then, if the sharpshooter used this logic, would explain away the miracle by saying, "well...OBVIOUSLY the sharpshooters all missed or I wouldn't be here!"

--------------------------

quote:

"Micro-evolution" is just a semantic division of evolution so that the religious can admit that the mechanics of evolution make sense without "macro-evolution" disrupting their world view. In reality, there is no difference, "macro-evolution" is just an extrapolation of "micro-evolution".


In a recent peer-reviewed scientific paper entitled "EXPERIMENTAL EVOLUTION, LOSS-OF-FUNCTION MUTATIONS,
AND THE FIRST RULE OF ADAPTIVE EVOLUTION”

http://www.lehigh.edu/~inbios/pdf/Behe/QRB_paper.p...

Michael Behe found that the vast majority of mutations in observed in the lab involved a loss of function and deletion of information, rather than new information being generated. This is pretty typical of what we see in micro-evolution, and this process is completely incapable of creating anywhere near the amount of information necessary to create more complex organisms.


RE: What!?
By Calindar on 2/9/2011 10:50:11 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Not true. See this link: http://www.allaboutscience.org/cosmological-argume...


Find a real source. Their article about evolution claims the theory is "in crisis" and there are "thousands of irreducibly complex systems", both are complete rubbish. This is a fundamentalist religious website.

quote:
And just because you can't explain something, that doesn't mean that random, non-intelligent natural processes are responsible.
You are completely correct. But, there hasn't been any evidence of any intelligent, supernaturally being as being responsible for anything. We have found, over and over again, that something with a "claimed" supernatural cause, in reality had a very natural cause. It's never gone the other way, and that trend will undoubtedly continue.

quote:
This is a complete cop-out and non-response to a legitimate point. Theodore M. Drange shot down this line of reasoning by comparing it to a prisoner to be executed by a squad of 100 sharpshooters. They all aim at the prisoner and shoot their rifles. Somehow, miraculously, the sharpshooter is unharmed. And then, if the sharpshooter used this logic, would explain away the miracle by saying, "well...OBVIOUSLY the sharpshooters all missed or I wouldn't be here!"

And the other explanation would be ...? Magic? I'm missing the point of this statement. And, again, you are completely missing your flawed view on the causality of the world around us. Your view is akin to dropping a giant rock in the mud, then pulling the rock out and examining the crater that it left. "What are the chances that this crater would perfectly fit around the rock? It must have been intelligently created, fine tuned, and magically blessed to fit that rock so perfectly."

quote:
In a recent peer-reviewed scientific paper entitled "EXPERIMENTAL EVOLUTION, LOSS-OF-FUNCTION MUTATIONS, AND THE FIRST RULE OF ADAPTIVE EVOLUTION” http://www.lehigh.edu/~inbios/pdf/Behe/QRB_paper.p... Michael Behe found that the vast majority of mutations in observed in the lab involved a loss of function and deletion of information, rather than new information being generated. This is pretty typical of what we see in micro-evolution, and this process is completely incapable of creating anywhere near the amount of information necessary to create more complex organisms.

The paper says that in prokaryotes, adaptation is more likely through loss of functionality compared to gaining functionality, not the mutations themselves. Behe admits that the time span of the study was too short to see substantial gain of functionality. The sterile lab setting also prevented the prokaryotes from gaining genetic information in ways they are known to, like absorbing DNA from their surroundings.

So, it's an interesting article, but really doesn't help your case against "macro-evolution" much.


RE: What!?
By wgbutler on 2/10/2011 10:58:21 PM , Rating: 2
I see there have been quite a few replies to this thread since I last responded. I'm interested in continuing the discussion, but tonight time is short. Let me at least respond to this message, and if I can fit it in I might respond to a few others tonight also:

quote:

Find a real source. Their article about evolution claims the theory is "in crisis" and there are "thousands of irreducibly complex systems", both are complete rubbish. This is a fundamentalist religious website.


Nice way to completely dodge the main point there. When I made that last post I was at work, which greatly limits the websites I have access to. It's basically a shot in the dark as to which websites I will be allowed to access and which ones will be blocked.

If you had taken the time to actually READ THE POINT, I was quoting some of the latest research from the leading Cosmologists in the field! These guys are not creationists, nor are they religiously motivated.

But to again reiterate, the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem which I (and the creationist website which you so casually dismissed) quoted from proves that ANY universe, (or multiverse to which it may belong) which on average has been in a state of cosmic expansion MUST have had an absolute beginning point!

Here is a website which discusses this issue in great detail:

http://www.reasonablefaith.org/site/News2?page=New...

quote:

With respect to the alternative of Eternal Inflation, it was suggested by some theorists during the 1980s that perhaps the inflationary expansion of the universe was not confined to a brief period early in the history of the universe but is eternal in the past, each inflating region being the product of a prior inflating region. Although such models were hotly debated, something of a watershed appears to have been reached in 2003, when three leading cosmologists, Arvin Borde, Alan Guth, and Alexander Vilenkin, were able to prove that any universe which has, on average, been expanding throughout its history cannot be infinite in the past but must have a past space-time boundary.

What makes their proof so powerful is that it holds regardless of the physical description of the universe prior to the Planck time. Because we can’t yet provide a physical description of the very early universe, this brief moment has been fertile ground for speculations. (One scientist has compared it to the regions on ancient maps labeled “Here there be dragons!”—it can be filled with all sorts of fantasies.) But the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem is independent of any physical description of that moment. Their theorem implies that even if our universe is just a tiny part of a so-called “multiverse” composed of many universes, the multiverse must have an absolute beginning.

Vilenkin is blunt about the implications:

It is said that an argument is what convinces reasonable men and a proof is what it takes to convince even an unreasonable man. With the proof now in place, cosmologists can no longer hide behind the possibility of a past-eternal universe. There is no escape, they have to face the problem of a cosmic beginning (Many Worlds in One [New York: Hill and Wang, 2006], p.176).


quote:

that something with a "claimed" supernatural cause, in reality had a very natural cause. It's never gone the other way, and that trend will undoubtedly continue.


This is a convenient, vague generalization that makes no logical sense and just exposes you for the ideologue that you are. Darwinists and atheistic scientists make faulty claims and predictions all the time.

In fact, their predictions are so bad that it amazes me that anyone takes them seriously. Just off the top of my head, there is Darwin's "warm little pond" statement about the first life, Piltdown man, Haeckel's Embryos, the steady state model of the Universe (which took DECADES to finally get rid of after we had ample scientific evidence that it was false because the atheists were so set against the Big Bang theory), and more recently the "junk DNA" hypothesis, primordial soup theory, the imaginary dinosaur-bird link, and all the hype over the Ida fossil.

For a good list of the many many things Darwinists have gotten wrong I recommend checking out

http://www.darwinspredictions.com/

quote:

And the other explanation would be ...? Magic? I'm missing the point of this statement. And, again, you are completely missing your flawed view on the causality of the world around us. Your view is akin to dropping a giant rock in the mud, then pulling the rock out and examining the crater that it left. "What are the chances that this crater would perfectly fit around the rock? It must have been intelligently created, fine tuned, and magically blessed to fit that rock so perfectly."


Here is more nonsense from you. Notice that you never make a positive case for atheism. All you can do is attack and ridicule other viewpoints. This is a sign of extreme intellectual weakness.

quote:

The paper says that in prokaryotes, adaptation is more likely through loss of functionality compared to gaining functionality, not the mutations themselves. Behe admits that the time span of the study was too short to see substantial gain of functionality. The sterile lab setting also prevented the prokaryotes from gaining genetic information in ways they are known to, like absorbing DNA from their surroundings.


I think its pretty clear from what we have observed in the labs, that for the most part, these organisms are not gaining any new information. They are evolving and mutating, to be sure, but this largely is accomplished by deactivating genes and losing function.

You can make all the claims you like about why things aren't happening like neo-Darwinism predicts, but its all hoopla and wishful thinking that I can't take seriously. The results don't back you up.


RE: What!?
By Calindar on 2/7/2011 10:28:51 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
We don't see these blind processes creating new information now. It is true that species do evolve and adapt. The vast majority of the time this involves deactivating a gene or destroying existing information.

This is completely false. It is sad that you will spout these claims without even doing the basic research to back it up. http://lmgtfy.com/?q=adding+genetic+information

quote:
To be honest with you the Bible doesn't specifically say that God did NOT use evolution to make human beings.
Of course it doesn't. The theory wasn't formulated until thousands of years after the bible was written. Why would you seek knowledge from such an outdated source?

quote:
I object to Darwinism mostly because I don't see the scientific evidence backing it up, either what we do in the labs or what we see in the fossil record, with new species suddenly coming onto the scene with no biological precursors.
Then you are willfully ignoring the evidence. Everything from biology, genetics, paleontology, etc, etc supports evolution. The fossil record is incomplete and always will be due to the nature of fossilization, but there are no species that have no biological precursors, as there are no fossils that disprove evolution.

quote:
I have yet to see an atheist make a good case for atheism.
Again, logical fallacy. Atheists don't need to prove their position because they are the default position, the null hypothesis. The burden of proof lies on those making the claims.


RE: What!?
By wgbutler on 2/8/2011 11:02:18 AM , Rating: 2
quote:

Again, logical fallacy. Atheists don't need to prove their position because they are the default position, the null hypothesis. The burden of proof lies on those making the claims.


We'll have to agree to disagree. But thanks for matching my previous description of a typical atheist argument perfectly.

You see your position as the default position and see no real need to defend it.

Rather than stating a positive case for why it is more reasonable to think that something pops into existence from nothing, and address why the cosmos is so miraculously fine-tuned to support life, how the first life developed and how it acquired the massive amounts of information necessary to evolve into eventual human beings, and a valid explanation of the Cambrian fossil record, you have instead sanctimoniously attacked other people's ideas and made a lot of bald assertions.

You are obviously emotionally invested in atheism being true, and see a theistic reality as some kind of threat that must be neutralized at all costs.


RE: What!?
By Calindar on 2/9/2011 11:45:16 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
We'll have to agree to disagree. But thanks for matching my previous description of a typical atheist argument perfectly. You see your position as the default position and see no real need to defend it.

It's clear you don't understand what a default position, or null hypothesis actually is.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Null_hypothesis

Atheism IS the default position because it makes no claims. You claim that the Christian mythology is true. It is your burden to provide evidence to support your claim. I cannot provide evidence that a god or gods don't exist just as I can't provide evidence that unicorns don't exist. The only evidence is the lack of evidence. And while unicorns, or gods, may exist somewhere, in some form, I won't believe either exist until substantial evidence is presented that supports that claim.

quote:
Rather than stating a positive case for why it is more reasonable to think that something pops into existence from nothing
Like I said (and you ignored) before, only theologians make this claim. The universe as we know it came into existence with the Big Bang. What existed before that, and in what form, is simply an unknown. The idea that a magical deity can pop the entire universe into existence IS believing something popped into existence from nothing.

Where did this god come from? Did he just pop into existence?

quote:
and address why the cosmos is so miraculously fine-tuned to support life

Seriously? Beyond everything you already ignored about the ridiculous idea of "fine tuning", you really believe the universe is fine tuned for life? The Keplar telescope has discovered 1200 planets in a small vicinity near earth, 5 of which are the right size and in the right orbit around their star to be candidates for Earth like life. 5/1200, or 0.0041% is "fine tuned to support life" to you?

quote:
how the first life developed and how it acquired the massive amounts of information necessary to evolve into eventual human beings, and a valid explanation of the Cambrian fossil record, you have instead sanctimoniously attacked other people's ideas and made a lot of bald assertions.
I am not your personal Google. The answers to these ill-conceived and too often repeated arguments are available for you if you just look.

quote:
You are obviously emotionally invested in atheism being true, and see a theistic reality as some kind of threat that must be neutralized at all costs.

This is painfully ironic. Emotionally invested in atheism? How could you even do that? It's even funnier considering religion thrives on and requires emotional investment. Your objections to evolution, abiogenesis, and the Big Bang are based entirely on your pre-conceived, religious based world view, and not on actual contradicting scientific evidence. The reason those scientific fields are objected to by the religious, and other fields aren't, is because these fields show the religious dogma is wrong, and many are incapable of admitting that they are wrong, or of changing their viewpoint.

And no, I don't find a "theistic reality" threatening. I simply find theists threatening to our scientific and social progress.


RE: What!?
By wgbutler on 2/10/2011 11:10:04 PM , Rating: 2
quote:

Atheism IS the default position because it makes no claims.


That's not true. Atheism DOES make a claim that God does not exist. And at any rate a "default position" depends on your point of view, and has no bearing on whether or not something is true.

quote:

And while unicorns, or gods, may exist somewhere, in some form, I won't believe either exist until substantial evidence is presented that supports that claim.


Somehow I suspect that this hyper-skepticism you have pertains only to the question of God existing. I would wonder if you are equally dubious that alien life exists elsewhere in the Universe. And at any rate, there is plenty of evidence for God's existence, if one does not willfully blind themselves to it.

quote:

Where did this god come from? Did he just pop into existence?


God didn't come from anywhere, nor did he pop into existence. God was always there and exists as the prime reality from which everything else comes.

quote:

Seriously? Beyond everything you already ignored about the ridiculous idea of "fine tuning", you really believe the universe is fine tuned for life? The Keplar telescope has discovered 1200 planets in a small vicinity near earth, 5 of which are the right size and in the right orbit around their star to be candidates for Earth like life. 5/1200, or 0.0041% is "fine tuned to support life" to you?


You are completely dodging the point and misstating my position. I never claimed that the Universe contained a multitude of life supporting planets. Quite frankly, I think that the Earth is probably the only life supporting planet there is.

My assertion is that the laws of nature and constants in physics are remarkably fine-tuned to allow the existence of chemistry, stars, and life.

quote:

I am not your personal Google. The answers to these ill-conceived and too often repeated arguments are available for you if you just look.


There are no good materialistic answers to these questions. You really are the master at dodging and weaving, aren't you?

quote:

This is painfully ironic. Emotionally invested in atheism? How could you even do that? It's even funnier considering religion thrives on and requires emotional investment. Your objections to evolution, abiogenesis, and the Big Bang are based entirely on your pre-conceived, religious based world view, and not on actual contradicting scientific evidence.


I am a former atheist, raised in a non-religious family who became a Christian in large part due to the scientific evidence.

I was emotionally invested in atheism being true, and used to be quite hostile to Christianity. Thank God I was able to overcome my emotional bias and look at the evidence with a clear and rational mind.


RE: What!?
By PaterPelligrino on 2/11/2011 1:17:12 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
And at any rate, there is plenty of evidence for God's existence, if one does not willfully blind themselves to it.


That's pretty insulting wgb. There are plenty of people far more intelligent than either of us who do not see any evidence for god's existence. Who, in his right mind, wouldn't believe in god if he were convinced he existed? Do you really think I would willfully reject eternal bliss and risk never-ending pain simply out of petty spite or pride or whatever it is you mistakenly think motivates the skeptic? My only desire is to face the truth of my existence, and if god were the truth, that'd be fine with me, but I just don't see it.

But yet again, I must point out that you only use the generic term 'god' when in argument with atheists. What you really mean is Jehovah, and not only do atheists not see any evidence for the existence of Jehovah, billions of people who subscribe to other religions don't see it either. Most of those people - even many Christians - have no problem whatsoever with macro-evolution. The factions and in-fighting between differing versions of Christianity should raise some doubt in your mind about whether even Christians can claim reliable knowledge of the truth.

Frankly, given your slavish devotion to a literal interpretation of the OT, I remain very skeptical about your claim that you were a former atheist. It seems an odd leap indeed to go from "just show me a little proof" to "yah, it does make sense after all that Noah got all those millions of animals and insects onto his wooden boat."

quote:
Thank God I was able to overcome my emotional bias and look at the evidence with a clear and rational mind.


So it was your clear and rational mind that led you to believe that burning bushes talk? Now that you mention it, sounds perfectly reasonable to me. I really don't see how I could ever have doubted it.


RE: What!?
By PaterPelligrino on 2/10/2011 12:08:07 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
wgbutler: I have yet to see an atheist make a good case for atheism.

quote:
Calindar: Again, logical fallacy. Atheists don't need to prove their position because they are the default position, the null hypothesis. The burden of proof lies on those making the claims.

quote:
wgbutler: You see your position as the default position and see no real need to defend it.

Rather than stating a positive case for why it is more reasonable to think that something pops into existence from nothing, and address why the cosmos is so miraculously fine-tuned to support life, how the first life developed and how it acquired the massive amounts of information necessary to evolve into eventual human beings, and a valid explanation of the Cambrian fossil record, you have instead sanctimoniously attacked other people's ideas and made a lot of bald assertions.

You are obviously emotionally invested in atheism being true, and see a theistic reality as some kind of threat that must be neutralized at all costs.


Calidar's assertion is correct. His above quote was in response to your comment - "I have yet to see an atheist make a good case for atheism." - and only concerned your demand that the atheist prove the nonexistence of god; his comment did not state, as you have implied, that the atheist has no need to defend the no-god Big Bang or macro-evolution.

The atheist no more needs to prove the non-existence of Jehovah than he needs to prove the nonexistence of Leprechauns. Before we consider your boosterism for Jehovah, should we demand that you disprove the existence of each and every one of the deities from all the historical religions? You may start with Anubis.


RE: What!?
By gstrickler on 2/10/2011 12:20:11 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Calidar's assertion is correct.
...
The atheist no more needs to prove the non-existence of Jehovah than he needs to prove the nonexistence of Leprechauns.

Calindar's assertion was not correct, and as I pointed out in my other post, it's impossible to prove the non-existence of anything. The best you can hope for is to prove it extremely unlikely, and that's only within the limits of current test methods. See my response to Calindar for more information.


RE: What!?
By PaterPelligrino on 2/10/2011 12:49:52 AM , Rating: 2
Calindar's assertion is correct, you have misunderstood the meaning of the null hypothesis. See my post.


RE: What!?
By gstrickler on 2/10/2011 1:18:29 AM , Rating: 2
Calindar's assertion is not correct.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statistical_hypothesi...

The only unbiased null hypothesis in this instance is be agnostic. Using either God exists, or God does not exist as the null hypothesis is only used to lead to an unsupported conclusion that the null hypothesis is valid/not valid, i.e., a straw man argument.

If you do use one of those as your null hypothesis, all you can conclude from a failed result is that the null hypothesis is not supported, and you can make no stronger conclusion about the converse being true or false. Therefore, neither of those is useful as a null hypothesis, and the only reason for using one of them is to make an unsupported straw man argument out of the results.

Those who fail to learn the logical fallacies are doomed to repeat them.


RE: What!?
By PaterPelligrino on 2/10/2011 2:07:17 AM , Rating: 3
Whether god exists or not, the problem here is that you don't understand the null hypothesis.

The function of the null hypothesis is to serve as a useful logical challenge to any hypothesis that makes a statement about the existence of some thing or process or fact. That hypothesis must overcome the null hypothesis which claims that the assertion made in the hypothesis does not exist. It is incumbent on the hypothesis to, at the very least, demonstrate that the phenomenon being proposed does in fact exist.

The null hypothesis does not need to disprove the existence of anything, it is the task of the hypothesis to overcome the null hypothesis.


RE: What!?
By gstrickler on 2/10/2011 2:15:46 AM , Rating: 2
You have mis-understood and mis-applied the null hypothesis. Statistical hypothesis testing does not apply. See my other reply to you for a detailed explanation.


RE: What!?
By gstrickler on 2/10/2011 12:00:16 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
Again, logical fallacy. Atheists don't need to prove their position because they are the default position, the null hypothesis. The burden of proof lies on those making the claims.

Actually, that's not the null hypothesis. Atheism (assertion that "God" does not exist) is as much a belief as in deism (assertion that "God" does exist). It's a logical fallacy to think that you can prove the non-existance of something, even in a confined space, much less within a universe that is more vast than we can imagine, see, or explore.

Atheism and deism/theism are both beliefs. Atheism can't be proven, it can only be disproven, and only by proving the existence of God. Deism can't be disproven, it can only be proven, only by proving the existence of God. So, ultimately, atheism and deism are both contingent upon the same thing, the lack of proof that God exists.

Agnosticism is taking no position on whether or not God exists. Agnosticism is the null hypothesis. It is the only position that adheres to the scientific method. That doesn't mean that all scientists are agnostic. Many, possibly most, scientists believe there is a God, others are atheists. Neither is inconsistent with being a scientist, but neither is supported by science, so many others are agnostic.

Atheism can't be tested by science (refer back to proving the non-existence of something), and deism doesn't require science or proof as it's basis. Science can look for evidence of God, even if science never proves there is a God, and it's not inconsistent with having faith that "God" exists.

Given that atheism can't be proven, only disproven (e.g. it's a no win scenario, it's remains a uncertain until it's proven wrong), I would venture a guess that there are very few logicians who are atheists.

P.S. Sorry to join the discussion so late, but I didn't see the post until today.


RE: What!?
By PaterPelligrino on 2/10/2011 12:45:18 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Actually, that's not the null hypothesis.


No, that is not correct. A hypothesis, as used in the discussion of the 'null hypothesis', always concerns the existence of something, not it's non-existence. There are an infinite number of things that cannot be disproved. It is no more incumbent on the atheist to disprove the existence of Thor than it is the responsibility of the biologist to disprove the existence of Griffins or Minotaurs.

However, I note your concern to shield all religious belief from critical assault, and you are correct that science will never, can never, disprove the existence of anyone's favorite deity. Tho frankly, I don't think it says much about a person's intellectual integrity that he should find that comforting.


RE: What!?
By gstrickler on 2/10/2011 1:23:58 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
However, I note your concern to shield all religious belief from critical assault, and you are correct that science will never, can never, disprove the existence of anyone's favorite deity.


I have no such concern, as I'm not religious, I'm agnostic. Mostly I agree with what you and Calindar have written, but the specific assertions I addressed that the two of you made are flawed for the reasons I have pointed out.


RE: What!?
By gstrickler on 2/10/2011 1:56:45 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
No, that is not correct. A hypothesis, as used in the discussion of the 'null hypothesis', always concerns the existence of something, not it's non-existence.


That is also incorrect; "this drug does not reduce the chances of having a heart attack" is cited as one possible null hypothesis in the Wikipedia article you referenced. That is a hypothesis that a connection between the drug and heart attacks does not exist. Calindar and you have asserted the "God does not exist" is the null hypothesis, again, an assertion that the non-existence of something.

In fact, as noted in that article, there are multiple possible null hypotheses for any given scenario, not just one. However, choosing a null hypothesis that creates bias, or for which the possibilities are too high produces a meaningless result. Therefore, using "God does not exist" (unprovable) can only either prove that God does exist, or that the test is inconclusive. So that's a terrible hypothesis.

Further, using any null hypothesis with this question is flawed. This type of statistical hypothesis testing assumes that you can quantify the probability of the results with a significant degree of reliability. What is the probability that any test you construct will prove or disprove the existence of God? As I've shown in my other posts, the probability of disproving the existence of God is 0, it's logically impossible. Once again highlighting the flaw of using "God doesn't exist" as a null hypothesis. Therefore, you must construct tests that will prove that "God does exist" and calculate the probabilities of results for those results before you can do any statistical hypothesis testing. When you figure out that test and calculate probabilities for those results, then we can have a serious discussion about using statistical probability testing to prove that God does or does not exist.

Until that time, your assertions about a null hypothesis are invalid.


RE: What!?
By PaterPelligrino on 2/10/2011 4:22:16 AM , Rating: 3
I've tried to understand your reasoning on the null hypothesis, but to be honest with you gs, in this series of posts, you make leaps that I don't follow.

I didn't reference Wikipedia btw, what I know of the null hypothesis comes from a college biology prof; and frankly, Calindar's understanding of the null hypothesis is consistent with how it is commonly used. You do have the gift of gab tho, I'll give that to you.

quote:
as I pointed out in my other post, it's impossible to prove the non-existence of anything.

It's a logical fallacy to think that you can prove the non-existance of something


And, in fact, it is not the responsibility of the atheist to prove that god doesn't exist - which was Calindar's original point.

quote:
The only unbiased null hypothesis in this instance is be agnostic. Using either God exists, or God does not exist as the null hypothesis is only used to lead to an unsupported conclusion that the null hypothesis is valid/not valid, i.e., a straw man argument.


You accuse me of not understanding the null hypothesis, yet you claim that using a statement that says god might or might not exist can serve as a useful null - a null to what, that god might not or might exist? Keep in mind that a null takes its form as the negative of the original hypothesis

I'm curious gs, beyond it's ability to shield feel-good creeds from logical rebuttal, of just what practical utility is your statement that "it's impossible to prove the non-existence of anything." I find it difficult to believe that anyone could live a coherent life while remaining agnostic about a infinitude of silly, even mutually-contradictory, but non-falsifiable things. Sounds like a recipe for intellectual paralysis to me. (Am I a butterfly dreaming I'm a man?) If you are a father, do you refuse to tell your children that the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny don't actually exist. One can imagine the conversation: "Dad, I'm 32, you can level with me, is there a Santa? I'd like to give you a straight answer on that son, but who can really say one way or the other?"

In any case, I have also stated in many previous posts in this thread that the existence of god can't be disproved. However, my point is that since the same is true of any supernatural being, religious dogma hardly constitutes a firm basis on which to construct a credible world view. The unfalsifiability of any deity explains the logical absurdity of simultaneously existing mutually-contradictory religions - logic may say that none can be disproved, but obviously someone's got his head up his butt.


RE: What!?
By gstrickler on 2/10/2011 12:57:12 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
I didn't reference Wikipedia

Sorry, it was Calindar who posted the link to Wikipedia on the null hypothesis.

quote:
And, in fact, it is not the responsibility of the atheist to prove that god doesn't exist - which was Calindar's original point.

I never said it was, I simply stated that since it can't be proven, it's a belief, not science. Atheism has no more substance to it that deism. The weakness of atheism is that even if there is no god, atheism can never be proven correct. Deism has at least a logical potential of being proven correct (I won't argue whether that chance is near 0 or near 1, that's a theological/scientific argument that isn't useful).

Your claim that the burden of proof is not on you is accurate, but irrelevant, since your view is unprovable, it relies entirely upon the faith that the lack of proof that god exists is evidence that he doesn't exist. That's one version of the "burden of proof" fallacy. Lack of proof is simply lack of proof, it does not imply the opposite.

quote:
You accuse me of not understanding the null hypothesis, yet you claim that using a statement that says god might or might not exist can serve as a useful null - a null to what, that god might not or might exist? Keep in mind that a null takes its form as the negative of the original hypothesis


A null hypothesis can ONLY be used with falsifiable hypotheses for which you can construct a test or tests and reliably determine a probability of outcomes, then perform the test(s) and if the results are outside are outside a given range, then the null hypothesis is probably false (or probably true). It's statistical hypothesis testing and it's only useful for determining whether something is likely, not whether it's absolutely true/false. To attempt to apply it to a situation for which you haven't shown any way to calculate the probabilities is a misuse of that method. In short, you can't use a null hypothesis, or even assert that a null hypothesis applies in this situation because you can't calculate reliable probabilities for any test yet conceived to prove that god exists. Since you keep attempting to assert that a null hypothesis does apply, you clearly do not understand the limits of statistical hypothesis testing, and consequently don't really understand the null hypothesis.

quote:
I'm curious gs, beyond it's ability to shield feel-good creeds from logical rebuttal, of just what practical utility is your statement that "it's impossible to prove the non-existence of anything." I find it difficult to believe that anyone could live a coherent life while remaining agnostic about a infinitude of silly, even mutually-contradictory, but non-falsifiable things. Sounds like a recipe for intellectual paralysis to me. (Am I a butterfly dreaming I'm a man?)

You fail to understand it because you fail to comprehend the logical fallacies. Lack of proof, and lack of provability do not imply the opposite is true. Just because we can't prove that god doesn't exist, doesn't mean he does exist. Nor does it mean you can or should believe god exists, it only means you can't prove god doesn't exist. Likewise, the lack of proof that god does exist doesn't mean that he doesn't/can't exist, it only means there isn't proof. Since neither position has been proven, both are beliefs.

You're free to choose atheism, deism, or agnosticism, whichever works best for you. Just don't delude yourself into believing that atheism isn't a belief system. Atheism is not based in science since it's very basis is unprovable. Therefore, it can never be more than a belief, even if god ultimately doesn't exist. It's one of the great ironies that even if atheism is correct, you'll never know it, it'll still only a belief.

My personal recommendation to atheists, become a skeptical agnostic. Then you don't have to spend so much time trying to defend your unprovable belief that god doesn't exist. You can still doubt god exists, you don't have to believe either way. And you won't have to spend so much time trying to convince all the deists that they're wrong, even when you think they are wrong. It's only a suggestion.

For reference, here are some places you can learn about logical fallacies, the null hypothesis, and statistical hypothesis testing.
http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/index.htm...
http://www.nobeliefs.com/fallacies.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Null_hypothesis
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statistical_hypothesi...


RE: What!?
By PaterPelligrino on 2/10/2011 2:02:14 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
me: And, in fact, it is not the responsibility of the atheist to prove that god doesn't exist - which was Calindar's original point.

quote:
you: I never said it was, I simply stated that since it can't be proven, it's a belief, not science. Atheism has no more substance to it that deism. The weakness of atheism is that even if there is no god, atheism can never be proven correct. Deism has at least a logical potential of being proven correct.


Since your above conclusion follows from your statement that "it's impossible to prove the non-existence of anything", it should then be possible to apply your reasoning to anything whose non-existence cannot be proven (which according to you is everything).

So let me restate your above conclusion substituting another creature whose non-existence cannot be proven - here's the altered quote:

The denial of the Easter Bunny's existence (abunnyism) has no more substance to it than belief in his existence (bunnyism). The weakness of abunnyism is that even if there is no Easter Bunny, abunnyism can never be proven correct. Bunnyism has at least a logical potential of being proven correct (I won't argue whether that chance is near 0 or near 1, that's a theological/scientific argument that isn't useful).

Have I understood you correctly?

Is it, therefore, also your personal recommendation to deniers of the Easter Bunny's existence that they become skeptical agnostics vis a vis Mr Bunny?


RE: What!?
By gstrickler on 2/10/11, Rating: 0
RE: What!?
By PaterPelligrino on 2/10/2011 4:49:54 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Have I understood you correctly?

quote:
Yes, your altered quote is a consequence of that.

quote:
Is it, therefore, also your personal recommendation to deniers of the Easter Bunny's existence that they become skeptical agnostics vis a vis Mr Bunny?

quote:
Now you're just being argumentative. Do you spend time arguing for/against the existence of the Easter Bunny?

I started this off by agreeing with Calindar's common-sense observation that in an argument with theists it is not the responsibility of the atheist to disproof the existence of every supernatural being, rather it is the theist who must offer a convincing argument for the existence of the god that underlies his uncritical acceptance of a favorite religious dogma - that is, if he wishes to prevail in an argument with non-believers.

While not explicitly disagreeing with that, you went off into this whole logical riff on how the atheist is in an impossible position because the non-existence of anything cannot be proven. My point is that however valid that assumption, it is of no practical use. But you're a stickler for logic, and this null hypothesis thing is obviously dear to your heart, so you won't be put off by appeals to practicality or common sense.

However, when I point out the silly consequences of your reasoning, suddenly you accuse me of being argumentative. Sorry gs, but you can't have it both ways, either the logic holds or it doesn't. And if, as an inevitable result of your reasoning, one must remain agnostic about the existence of the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy, then reductio ad absurdum babe.

Logic can sometimes do that to you. There was an 18th century Irish theologian named Bishop Berkeley who maintained - I'm simplifying somewhat here - that we are all just thoughts in god's mind. Dr Johnson, who attended one of Berkeley's lectures, commented that it was a very convenient theory, as it had the obvious advantage of being unfalsifiable. However, I doubt even the good Bishop lived his life as if his unassailable theory was correct - just as I doubt you remain faithful to your logic and refuse to deny the existence of Santa Claus. (After all, the argument that Santa is a less serious concept that Jehovah is an appeal to arbitrary tradition and custom - certainly not something you logicians attach any importance to.)

(And having read all of your comments, forgive me if I doubt your assertion that you are not religious; you seem too eager to cut the theist exemptions from common sense. Also, your previous comment that "many, possibly most, scientists believe there is a God" was a dead giveaway.)


RE: What!?
By gstrickler on 2/10/2011 5:34:09 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I started this off by agreeing with Calindar's common-sense observation that in an argument with theists it is not the responsibility of the atheist to disproof the existence of every supernatural being, rather it is the theist who must offer a convincing argument for the existence of the god that underlies his uncritical acceptance of a favorite religious dogma - that is, if he wishes to prevail in an argument with non-believers.

On that point Calindar, You, and I are in agreement.

quote:
null hypothesis thing is obviously dear to your heart,

I'm not the one who raised the null hypothesis argument, Calindar did and you agreed with him. My objection was to your mutual misuse of the null hypothesis to an area where it can not be applied. Atheists misusing science and logic is no better than deists misusing it. In either case, it's still a misuse of science and logic.

quote:
(And having read all of your comments, forgive me if I doubt your assertion that you are not religious; you seem too eager to cut the theist exemptions from common sense. Also, your previous comment that "many, possibly most, scientists believe there is a God" was a dead giveaway.)

Doubt all you want, it makes no difference to me. As for the "dead giveaway", perhaps you should try googling for some surveys of scientists about their beliefs. That would be far more valuable and more reliable than trying to infer that I believe something other than what I've stated based upon your belief that I have some other motive.

I have no idea what you mean "cut theist exemptions from common sense", but I've actually given the theists nothing, nor removed their burden of proof. If anything, I've strengthened the case for agnosticism buy pointing out that atheism is based upon a belief just like deism, and that both are dependent upon the lack of proof that god exists. Two sides of the same coin so to speak. The only position I've advocated is the use of logic, the scientific method, and I made one recommendation of "skeptical agnosticism" to a specific group that mistakenly asserts that atheism is based in science, not belief. How you twist that into me being religious is quite bizarre.


RE: What!?
By PaterPelligrino on 2/10/2011 11:41:39 PM , Rating: 2
If you read the posts I made to this thread prior to your first appearance, you will see that I have also stated that not only can't one disprove the existence of Jehovah, one can't disprove the existence of any of historical humanities many gods and folkloric creatures - essentially making the same point as you.

But while I take that as strong indication that none of these beings exist, you draw the curious conclusion that the atheist's position is, if anything, weaker than that of the theist. You base that deduction on strict fidelity to the logical argument with which you approach the question of god's existence - which I'll not bother to summarize yet another time. Your argument is purely formal. However, it also results from your logic - is intrinsic to it - that the case for any god (or anything that can't be disproved) is necessarily stronger than the atheist's position.

So let me make a counter-argument also based strictly on logic - and I'm particularly proud of this as it's entirely my own, tho I would never have come up with it had it not been for our discussion. Here we go:

One can never prove the nonexistence of any supernatural being, either already noted in the historical record or conceived as one pleases on the spot. That means there are an infinite number of possible gods, all of which can be formulated in such a way that the existence of any one would rule out the existence of the others, as logic gives us no means of attributing priority to one over the others - certainly tradition has no logical force. Therefore, the probability that any one of those gods actually exists is 1/8 , which as you will remember from introductory calculus, is an excellent approximation of 0.

And frankly, all pride of paternity aside, I think my argument has far more persuasive force than yours, for my common-sense atheism let's me say without fear of embarrassment that the Bunny Rabbit, Tooth Fairy, trolls, and that family of omnipotent trans-dimensional newts living in the center of the sun who control my fashion sense, don't exist - a statement you cannot make.


RE: What!?
By PaterPelligrino on 2/10/2011 11:52:54 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Therefore, the probability that any one of those gods actually exists is 1/8 , which as you will remember from introductory calculus, is an excellent approximation of 0.


That "1/8" should have read 1/infinity, which is how I entered it into the post. Even tho it correctly appeared as the infinity symbol in the preview panel, for some reason it become 8 in my completed post.


RE: What!?
By gstrickler on 2/11/2011 12:09:37 AM , Rating: 1
Your argument is flawed (and not original, go study statistics). Even if it were valid, a 1/infinity chance of being proven correct, is still greater than 0, and 0 is exactly the chance that you will be proven correct.

quote:
And frankly, all pride of paternity aside, I think my argument has far more persuasive force than yours, for my common-sense atheism let's me say without fear of embarrassment that the Bunny Rabbit, Tooth Fairy, trolls, and that family of omnipotent trans-dimensional newts living in the center of the sun who control my fashion sense, don't exist - a statement you cannot make.

Once again you demonstrate your failure to grasp logic. That I can't prove something doesn't exist in no way limits asserting or believing that it doesn't exist, it only means I can't prove it doesn't exist. There is a fundamental difference between what is provable, and what is probable. You apparently fail to grasp that difference and try to live in a world of absolutes. Good luck with that.

Simple question: Which is less sound, to believe in that which cannot be proven correct, but may be proven incorrect, or to believe in that which can't be proven incorrect, but may be proven correct?
The answer is really less important than understanding that both are based entirely upon belief until one is proven, and only one of them can be proven.


RE: What!?
By PaterPelligrino on 2/11/2011 1:33:08 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
That I can't prove something doesn't exist in no way limits asserting or believing that it doesn't exist, it only means I can't prove it doesn't exist. There is a fundamental difference between what is provable, and what is probable. etc.


That and all the rest is a very good summary of everything that I have said in my many posts in this thread.

And to think that I manged that in spite of the fact that I lack your superior understanding of logic and statistics!


RE: What!?
By gstrickler on 2/11/2011 10:10:59 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
And to think that I manged that in spite of the fact that I lack your superior understanding of logic and statistics!

Actually, if you understood it, you wouldn't be trying to convince those who believe god exists that they are wrong because you wouldn't be determined to convince others that your unprovable belief is the right one. When you really get that, all there is to do is state your belief and let it stand on it's own, as a belief.

So, no, you didn't manage that. You've managed only to demonstrate that you are so convinced that your unprovable belief is correct that you are willing to spend time trying to convince everyone with a different belief that they are wrong. If you simply admitted that you are operating from faith, then there would be nothing to argue, yours would just be a different faith than those who believe god does exist.


RE: What!?
By PaterPelligrino on 2/11/2011 2:26:16 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Actually, if you understood it, you wouldn't be trying to convince those who believe god exists that they are wrong because you wouldn't be determined to convince others that your unprovable belief is the right one. When you really get that, all there is to do is state your belief and let it stand on it's own, as a belief.

That is particularly obtuse of you gs. I'm not trying to convince anyone of anything. No one who has ever argued religion in online forums is under any illusion that he will ever change a believer's mind about god. I argue for the hell of it. (It might also be that I believe in holding up human stupidity to ridicule.) In any case, not only have I repeatedly affirmed that which you accuse me of not understanding, I've also explicitly stated that nothing anyone can ever say to a theist, no argument or appeal to reason, will ever shake his faith in his favorite deity. Have you actually read any of my other posts?
quote:
You've managed only to demonstrate that you are so convinced that your unprovable belief is correct that you are willing to spend time trying to convince everyone with a different belief that they are wrong. If you simply admitted that you are operating from faith, then there would be nothing to argue, yours would just be a different faith than those who believe god does exist.

So you really do think belief in the existence of the Easter Bunny is deserving of respect. You're a confused guy, you contradict what you just said in a previous post. Let me quote you:
quote:
That I can't prove something doesn't exist in no way limits asserting or believing that it doesn't exist, it only means I can't prove it doesn't exist. There is a fundamental difference between what is provable, and what is probable.

In other words, tho the existence and non-existence of some mythical creature are both unprovable, they are not equally probable. You acknowledged as much concerning the Easter Bunny. Therefore, that I can't prove Anubis doesn't exist in no way limits asserting he doesn't exist. There is a fundamental difference between what is provable and what is probable gs. You apparently fail to grasp that difference..

Not even the most devout Christian - certainly no monotheist - would claim that the existence and non-existence of every god are equally probable. They are not, and I merely argue the improbability of all supernatural beings. It seems a perfectly defensible position to me. (That mutually-contradictory deities can't all exist proves that most, in fact, don't. So tho I can't say for certain that a particular god doesn't exist, I can be confident that most don't. It has always amused me to see how, in onine disussions with non-believers, Christians speak in conveniently hazy terms about the impossibility of proving the non-existence of a generic god, when, in fact, they most emphatically deny the existence of every god but Jehova)

You're getting nasty big guy. I get the impression that you're not used to dealing with people who don't immediately genuflect before your vaunted logical rigor.

In spite of all the verbiage, I can't help but notice that you haven't really contributed anything new to the debate, that you appear content to limit your participation to nitpicking technical definitions.

Seeing that, after all is said and done, it turns out that you actually agree with the substance of Calindar's comment, I'm left with the suspicion that what motivated your original objection was merely the desire to impress everyone with your fine mind and vast learning.

Style-wise, btw, you might want to do a little remedial work on your utter lack of humor.

(The 2nd paragraph in your post really does make you sound like a closet theist!)


RE: What!?
By gstrickler on 2/11/2011 6:19:41 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
That is particularly obtuse of you gs. ...

You're getting nasty big guy.

??? I've said absolutely nothing that can be construed as nasty. I've called no names, used no insults, and used no yelling or cursing.

quote:
I'm not trying to convince anyone of anything. No one who has ever argued religion in online forums is under any illusion that he will ever change a believer's mind....
quote:
So let me get this straight - you reject the non-deity driven big bang because it doesn't make sense to you that something could "explode into existence from nothing", yet have no problem accepting all the logical drivel of eternally-existing supernatural beings, burning bushes that talk, some dude cramming two of all exiting species of animal and insect onto his wooden boat, water into wine, etc.etc. You pounce of every tiny ambiguity in the very elegant and convincing theory of evolution so as to wave away it's threat to your core beliefs, yet unquestioningly accept all the absurdities written in your holy book. You really don't see the contradiction in that?

If you held your own beliefs to the same exacting standards you inflexibly apply to those elements of science that threaten your beliefs, you would stop at agnosticism. Yet you go on to espouse the most unthinking and radically conservative, dogma-bound version of Christianity - the belief that everything written in the Old Testament is literally true. Clearly - clear to anyone who hasn't drunk the Koolaid, that is - what drives your religious beliefs is psychological need, not reason.

So, what was the intent of the second quoted item (your response to wgbutler)?

quote:
The 2nd paragraph in your post really does make you sound like a closet theist!
quote:
(And having read all of your comments, forgive me if I doubt your assertion that you are not religious...
quote:
Seeing that, after all is said and done, it turns out that you actually agree with the substance of Calindar's comment, I'm left with the suspicion that what motivated your original objection was merely the desire to impress everyone with your fine mind and vast learning.

You keep making unsupported (and incorrect) assertions about my intent and my beliefs. Those comments are yours, not mine.

If you go read my first posts to Calindar and to you, I only objected to the misuse of the null hypothesis. You then repeatedly contested that I was incorrect and misunderstood the null hypothesis, when in fact Calindar was misusing it, and you were defending his misuse. The only two things I have done are point out that flaw, and point out that atheism, which wgbutler and Calindar were discussing, is also a belief.

quote:
Style-wise, btw, you might want to do a little remedial work on your utter lack of humor.

This discussion was not the place for my sense of humor. If you read my first comment on this article (late on 2/9/2011), not part of this thread, you'll find it was strictly humor.

quote:
If you read the posts I made to this thread prior to your first appearance, you will see that I have also stated that not only can't one disprove the existence of Jehovah, one can't disprove the existence of any of historical humanities many gods and folkloric creatures - essentially making the same point as you.

Yes you did, and while I hadn't read all of those posts. But then, I wasn't responding to those posts, only to the misuse of the null hypothesis.


RE: What!?
By PaterPelligrino on 2/12/2011 2:52:49 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
I've said absolutely nothing that can be construed as nasty. I've called no names, used no insults, and used no yelling or cursing.


Your assertions that not only do I fail to understand logic, but statistics as well - setting yourself up as the superior mind - was a tad insulting don't you think? But perhaps I'm guilty of that as well - never said I wasn't - but it was your calling me an idiot that I was responding to.

quote:
So, what was the intent of the second quoted item (your response to wgbutler)?


It's an important topic: belief in the supernatural, even if safely sheltered from logical assault, has important consequences in real life, and I enjoy arguing the topic. However, I'm too experienced in these debates to think for a moment that anything I could say would convince the devout to question their beliefs. The one invariable trait of the True Believer is that his beliefs take precedence over everything else and therefore are impregnable - not only logically unfalsifiable, but far more importantly, emotionally unfalsifiable. The psychology underlying religious belief is fascinating, and as much as the believer would prefer to evade all discussion of the topic, tells you a great deal about the human animal.

Once the devout believer steps outside his unthinking allegiance to his own dogma, he has no qualms about denying the gods of all the other existing religions, in fact, his own faith requires it. So if the Christian, Muslim, Hindu is allowed a free pass to both affirm the existence of a god(s) - his own - and deny the existence of everyone else's, why should it be my lot as an atheist to sit quietly in a corner minding my own business because it's impolite or futile to question someone else's superstitions? Homo Sap, in spite of the null hypothesis, is one crazy animal, and I believe in holding up human nuttiness to the light of reason. You can call that my religion if you want.

In any case, the outrage against the atheist comes from the idea that "my beliefs should be the one exception." That's a tradition-based argument that only someone who is already a believer would find convincing. No one would get bent out of shape if I were to accuse the Incas or Voodoo guys of being nutters.

I respond to wgb because he's here to respond to, and he's a curious guy: he seems to have no problem asserting the irrational, convinced that he's being entirely rational. He really doesn't see the absurdity of someone who believes that every word of the Old Testament is literally true, also saying, and I quote, "Thank God I was able to overcome my emotional bias and look at the evidence with a clear and rational mind." He really believes the possession of a "clear and rational mind" forces one to think that not only are all the other religions wrong, but that all the fantastical things in the Bible really happened - water into wine, talking bushes, Noah's Ark. If the saucer-folk ever get their tentacles on the guy, they'll want to dissect his brain to discover how that's possible.

And tho you objected to Calindar's citing the null hypothesis by name, you have stated that you agree with his point. And to be frank, I remain unconvinced by your argument. I now note there is much online dispute about the appropriateness of applying the null hypothesis to god's existence. It's not something that I paid any attention to earlier, understanding the null hypothesis as stating simply that it is up to whoever asserts the existence of something to prove it - disprove the null - which is the common-sense understanding of the concept. Tho the atheist also fails the null hypothesis doesn't really bother me, and frankly it seems a lot of pointless logical nitpicking to claim it matters. I have always conceded that the atheist is not capable of proving the non-existence of any particular god, but so what? As you yourself point out, it's impossible to prove the non-existence of anything, yet belief in many things is patently absurd, so that logical nicety hardly has much practical utility in real life.

(However, once again, that these mutually-contradictory deities can't all exist proves that most, in fact, don't. So tho I can't say for certain that a particular god doesn't exist, I can be confident that most don't.)

Humor: it is the impossibility of disproving the existence of all these ghosts and goblins that leads me to point out the humorous and ridiculous consequences inherent in religious beliefs and dogmas. Humor is a very effective tool against human belief in the unfalsifiable. Reductio ad absurdum rules.

Anyway, perhaps we should end the discussion here. I don't think anyone else finds our comments on each others' motives to be particularly interesting.


RE: What!?
By gstrickler on 2/12/2011 8:24:00 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
but it was your calling me an idiot that I was responding to

Your words, not mine. I simply asserted that you fail to understand logic and statistics because you were making claims that are incorrect, and not supportable using those tools. If that offends you, it's your issue. After reading your other posts, you clearly have a decent grasp of logic, just not enough to know when you're misapplying it.


RE: What!?
By PaterPelligrino on 2/12/2011 10:57:44 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
I simply asserted that you fail to understand logic and statistics


Don't give up on me. Now that you've shown me the way, given me a model worth emulating, I'm sure I can do better.


RE: What!?
By gstrickler on 2/12/2011 8:07:15 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Don't give up on me. Now that you've shown me the way, given me a model worth emulating, I'm sure I can do better.


:)

I'm sure you can, but I don't claim to be a role model. Too much pressure... :)


RE: What!?
By wgbutler on 2/12/2011 9:49:25 PM , Rating: 2
PaterPelligrino,

You've directed quite a few posts to me these few days, and I simply haven't had time to respond. Please allow me to respond to a few of your recent points, even though I know that nothing I say will persuade you.

Here is part 1.

quote:

...yet have no problem accepting all the logical drivel of eternally-existing supernatural beings, burning bushes that talk, some dude cramming two of all exiting species of animal and insect onto his wooden boat, water into wine, etc.etc...


Your assertion seems to be, how can I believe in supposedly crazy things like burning bushes and arks after stating that I believe in a Divine Being that creates a universe and forms human beings out of dust?

I repeat my earlier point, why would a Being who could make a Universe and design the laws of nature, and then create a human being out of dust, have such a hard time making a burning bush talk (even we can do that with our existing technology) or ordering a guy to build a boat to protect himself from a catastrophic flood?

Furthermore, the flood idea is not as crazy as you make it out to be. The fact of the matter is that cultures all over the world have flood stories that mirror in great detail the account we read about in Genesis. Let me just give you a few examples:

Southwest Tanzania
Once upon a time the rivers began to flood. The god told two people to get into a ship. He told them to take lots of seed and to take lots of animals. The water of the flood eventually covered the mountains. Finally the flood stopped. Then one of the men, wanting to know if the water had dried up let a dove loose. The dove returned. Later he let loose a hawk which did not return. Then the men left the boat and took the animals and the seeds with them.
.....

China
The Chinese classic called the Hihking tells about "the family of Fuhi," that was saved from a great flood. This ancient story tells that the entire land was flooded; the mountains and everything, however one family survived in a boat. The Chinese consider this man the father of their civilization. This record indicates that Fuhi, his wife, three sons, and three daughters were the only people that escaped the great flood. It is claimed, that he and his family were the only people alive on earth, and repopulated the world.
........
Babylon
Gilgamesh met an old man named Utnapishtim, who told him the following story. The gods came to Utnapishtim to warn him about a terrible flood that was coming. They instructed Utnapishtim to destroy his house and build a large ship. The ship was to be 10 dozen cubits high, wide and long. Utnapishtim was to cover the ship with pitch. He was supposed to take male and female animals of all kinds, his wife and family, provisions, etc. into the ship. Once ship was completed the rain began falling intensely. The rain fell for six days and nights. Finally things calmed and the ship settled on the top of Mount Nisir. After the ship had rested for seven days Utnapishtim let loose a dove. Since the land had not dried the dove returned. Next he sent a swallow which also returned. Later he let loose a raven which never returned since the ground had dried. Utnapishtim then left the ship.
.............
Mexico
Aztec- A man named Tapi lived a long time ago. Tapi was a very pious man. The creator told Tapi to build a boat that he would live in. He was told that he should take his wife, a pair of every animal that was alive into this boat. Naturally everyone thought he was crazy. Then the rain started and the flood came. The men and animals tried to climb the mountains but the mountains became flooded as well. Finally the rain ended. Tapi decided that the water had dried up when he let a dove loose that did not return.
..............
United States

Delaware Indians - In the pristine age, the world lived at peace; but an evil spirit came and caused a great flood. The earth was submerged. A few persons had taken refuge on the back of a turtle, so old that his shell had collected moss. A loon flew over their heads and was entreated to dive beneath the water and bring up land. It found only a bottomless sea. Then the bird flew far away, came back with a small portion of earth in its bill, and guided the tortoise to a place where there was a spot of dry land.
..................
Chaldeans
According to accounts attributed to Berosus, the antediluvians were giants who became impious and depraved, except one among them that reverenced the gods and was wise and prudent. His name was Noa, and he dwelt in Syria with his three sons Sem, Japet, Chem, and their wives Tidea, Pandora, Noela, and Noegla. From the stars, he foresaw destruction, and he began building an ark. 78 years after he began building, the oceans, inland seas, and rivers burst forth from beneath, attended by many days of violent rain. The waters overflowed all the mountains, and the human race was drowned except Noa and his family who survived on his ship. The ship came to rest at last on the top of the Gendyae or Mountain. Parts of it still remain, which men take bitumen from to make charms against evil. [H. Miller, pp. 291-292]
...............
Hawaii
Nuu was of the thirteenth generation from the first man. The gods commanded Nuu to build an ark and carry on it his wife, three sons, and males and females of all breathing things. Waters came and covered the earth. They subsided to leave the ark on a mountain overlooking a beautiful valley. The gods entered the ark and told Nuu to go forth with all the life it carried. In gratitude for his deliverance, Nuu offered a sacrifice of pig, coconuts, and awa to the moon, which he thought was the god Kane. Kane descended on a rainbow to reproach Nuu for his mistake but left the rainbow as a perpetual sign of his forgiveness. [Kalakaua, p. 37; Barrère, pp. 21-22]
......................
I'm going to stop here for brevity's sake...
--------------------------------------

Many of these stories have very similar details to the Biblical account, even though these cultures had no Judeo-Christian influences! It's not unreasonable to assume that some type of catastrophic flood occurred in the distant past, which wiped out all of humanity except for one small group of people which ended up repopulating the earth.

Furthermore, we also have the scientific evidence of Y-chromosomal Adam and mitochondrial Eve which corroborates the flood story. We now know scientifically that all women on the planet got their X chromosome from one single woman in the past, referred to as mitochondrial Eve. We also know that all men on their planet inherited their Y-Chromosome from one man, referred to as Y-chromosomal Adam, who incidentally lived much later than mitochondrial Eve.

At first glance this makes no sense. However, if one postulates a population clearing event, like a great flood, that wipes out most of humanity this fits the bill perfectly. When the flood occurred, Noah became the common male ancestor. But because Noah's wife and three daughter-laws were unrelated to one another, the common female ancestor would have been lived much earlier. So we have scientific genetic evidence corroborating the flood story. Although they should have called Y-chromosomal Adam Y-chromosomal NOAH instead.


RE: What!?
By PaterPelligrino on 2/13/2011 2:45:59 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Your assertion seems to be, how can I believe in supposedly crazy things like burning bushes and arks after stating that I believe in a Divine Being that creates a universe and forms human beings out of dust?

No, that's not what I said. I realize only too well that the believer inhabits an unassailable logical bubble. I accuse you of inconsistency; that you hold atheists to a logical standard you don't apply to yourself.
quote:
I repeat my earlier point, why would a Being who could make a Universe and design the laws of nature, and then create a human being out of dust, have such a hard time making a burning bush talk (even we can do that with our existing technology) or ordering a guy to build a boat to protect himself from a catastrophic flood?

And I repeat my counter-argument: you really don't understand the fallacy of circular reasoning, do you? Don't you see that with that logic you could justify any absurdity? That statement reduces down to "it's true because it's true". Every believer in every religion implicitly uses that argument.

Given that Jehovah created man and the universe, it makes perfectly good sense that he speaks through burning bushes. Given that Zeus is a lustful god, it makes perfectly good sense that he would take the form of a swan and rape Leda. Given that the soul is immortal and only a perfect soul can attain Nirvana, it makes perfectly good sense that those who have proven themselves particularly unworthy are reincarnated as animals. Ditto for the Incas, Ancient Egyptians and the Voodoo worshipers.

It's all castles in the air stuff, every part depending on uncritical acceptance of every other part, but the entire edifice rests on nothing but itself. Again, how else to explain the existence of all these mutually-contradictory religions, none of which can win the argument with the others. You first accept the OT narrative and then reason that for the god described therein, nothing is impossible. Accept the narrative and there's no reason to doubt anything, no reason to think.

It reminds me of a conversation I once had with an Italian Catholic priest. I asked him why he believed in the Christian god, and he answered because the Bible tells us so. A half-hour later, I asked him why he thought the Bible was credible, he replied it had to be because it was inspired, if not directly dictated, by god. He was totally unaware of just how empty his reasoning was: he believes in Jehovah because the Bible says so, and he believed the Bible because it was dictated by Jehovah - the wheels on the bus go round and round.

quote:
Furthermore, the flood idea is not as crazy as you make it out to be. The fact of the matter is that cultures all over the world have flood stories that mirror in great detail the account we read about in Genesis. Let me just give you a few examples: etc etc


Flood? When did I ever say anything about a flood? Nobody doubts there have been floods. Floods happen all the time. Just in my lifetime, there have been record-breaking floods on almost every continent. I don't need god to explain floods. Tsunamis like the one a few years ago must have seemed like the end of the world to primitive coastal peoples. I once read something about how fossils of sea shells found in mountain ranges were explicitly given by many ancient peoples as reason for flood myths. I also read something about a land barrier between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean collapsing and flooding an important inhabited area where many middle-eastern progenitor races lived.

I mentioned Noah building a wooden boat capable containing two exemplars from every species of animal, insect, flightless bird, etc. The largest steel-hulled cruise liner ever constructed wouldn't contain even a fraction of those creatures.

You ignore the most damaging accusations in my posts and choose to respond to something I never said.


RE: What!?
By wgbutler on 2/13/2011 4:52:02 PM , Rating: 2
I'm fast forwarding through your initial commentary to address the insinuation that the flood stories only have large amounts of water in common.

quote:

Flood? When did I ever say anything about a flood? Nobody doubts there have been floods. Floods happen all the time. Just in my lifetime, there have been record-breaking floods on almost every continent. I don't need god to explain floods. Tsunamis like the one a few years ago must have seemed like the end of the world to primitive coastal peoples. I once read something about how fossils of sea shells found in mountain ranges were explicitly given by many ancient peoples as reason for flood myths. I also read something about a land barrier between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean collapsing and flooding an important inhabited area where many middle-eastern progenitor races lived.


There's a lot more commonality going on between the various flood legends found in various ancient civilizations around the world and the Genesis account besides "a giant flood occurred".

Many of these legends mention someone who is warned by the god(s), who is/are angry with humanity, before a catastrophic flood occurs to build a giant boat, populate it with animals, and protect himself and his family. Often it is mentioned that he has three sons and their wives, and it also often mentioned that while the ark is floating around he sends out 1 or 2 birds to see if there is any dry land anywhere, and then the ark ends up resting on a tall mountain.

Here is an excellent link which discusses many of these stories:

http://www.nwcreation.net/noahlegends.html

quote:

* a . “It has long been known that legends of a great flood, in which almost all men perished, are widely diffused over the world ...” James George Frazer, Folk-Lore in the Old Testament, Vol. 1, (London: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1919), p. 105.
* Byron C. Nelson, The Deluge Story in Stone (Minneapolis, Minnesota: Bethany Fellowship, Inc., 1968), pp. 169–190.
* “... there are many descriptions of the remarkable event [the Genesis Flood]. Some of these have come from Greek historians, some from the Babylonian records; others from the cuneiform tablets, and still others from the mythology and traditions of different nations, so that we may say that no event has occurred either in ancient or modern times about which there is better evidence or more numerous records, than this very one which is so beautifully but briefly described in the sacred Scriptures. It is one of the events which seems to be familiar to the most distant nations—in Australia, in India, in China, in Scandinavia, and in the various parts of America. It is true that many look upon the story as it is repeated in these distant regions, as either referring to local floods, or as the result of contact with civilized people, who have brought it from historic countries, and yet the similarity of the story is such as to make even this explanation unsatisfactory.” Stephen D. Peet, “The Story of the Deluge,” American Antiquarian, Vol. 27, No. 4, July–August 1905, p. 203.
* C. H. Kang and Ethel R. Nelson, The Discovery of Genesis (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1979). [This excellent book shows that the classical Chinese pictographs contain many stories and details found in the early chapters of Genesis. The earliest people of China, 4,000–5,000 years ago, brought with them stories of past events that became imbedded in their language. (See Figure 37 on page 45.)]


As for the actual details of the event, I wasn't there and I don't have all the answers. Personally, I do not believe that it was necessary to populate every type of non-water breathing animal into the ship.

I think its perfectly plausible that God could have used a combination of heavy rains, comet strikes in the oceans, and earthquakes to have wiped out all the human populated parts of the world, leaving many of the non-human populated areas untouched. The reason why God would have ordered Noah to put animals in the ark would have been so that Noah and his family would have had readily available food sources as soon as the ark landed and human civilization restarted.

At any rate, simply by looking at the various historical records and their details, it is crystal clear that some type of ancient cataclysmic flood occurred. The similarity in the details of the various legends is quite startling, and cannot be easily explained away by appealing to generic floods occurring at different places and different times.

And as I mentioned in my earlier post, there is also the genetic evidence from mitochondrial Eve and y-Chromosomal Adam (really y-Chromosomal Noah) that corroborates this history.


RE: What!?
By PaterPelligrino on 2/15/2011 1:21:45 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I'm fast forwarding through your initial commentary to address the insinuation that the flood stories only have large amounts of water in common.


Translation: I'll skip the points I can’t rebut, and get back to the flood.

quote:
It is true that many look upon the story as it is repeated in these distant regions, as either referring to local floods, or as the result of contact with civilized people, who have brought it from historic countries...”


I rather like that part.

Creation myths that make no reference to a Bible-type flood far outnumber those that do. Biblical Literalists just cherry-pick evidence to prop up a story in which they are “extremely emotionally invested”. If scientists resorted to that kind of reasoning, Creationists would be outraged. And again, there is no indication that those mythical floods you cite all occurred at the same time.

Your explanations of what god meant to do and how he must have done it are another example of believers inventing scenarios to support pre-existing beliefs.

Even if there was a devastating series of floods that wiped out much of mankind, say from a meteor strike to one of the oceans, how does that prove that Jehovah did it? As long as we're talking plausibility here, seems much more likely that if such floods occurred, they were the result of natural causes which were then given a supernatural spin - the usual thing all primitive peoples do when faced with a devastating natural calamity.

quote:
And as I mentioned in my earlier post, there is also the genetic evidence from mitochondrial Eve and y-Chromosomal Adam (really y-Chromosomal Noah) that corroborates this history.


Yes, we are all descended from a common ancestor. It could hardly have been otherwise. How does that prove the biblical account?

btw, I note that the case for a y-Chromosomal Adam puts his existence 50,000+ years later than mitochondrial Eve – Ooooops!


RE: What!?
By wgbutler on 2/16/2011 7:36:31 AM , Rating: 2
Pelligrino!

I thought this thread was over. I'm glad that you have decided to respond one more time. I have to get ready for work but let me see what I can answer in the next few minutes:

quote:

Translation: I'll skip the points I can’t rebut, and get back to the flood.


Not at all Peilligrino. When you say things like "its all castles in the air", or "it makes perfectly good sense..." you are expressing a personal opinion, which I respect and you are certainly entitled to. On the other hand, if you say 2+2=5, that is a falsifiable statement that I can address.

And I'd love to comment on your opinions, but time doesn't always permit, for example right now.

quote:

Even if there was a devastating series of floods that wiped out much of mankind, say from a meteor strike to one of the oceans, how does that prove that Jehovah did it? As long as we're talking plausibility here, seems much more likely that if such floods occurred, they were the result of natural causes which were then given a supernatural spin - the usual thing all primitive peoples do when faced with a devastating natural calamity.


Fair point. One could make the case that the story of Noah was invented after a population eliminating flood occurred and was then spread all over the earth by the survivors of the flood. It's a bit of a reach, but if you are beholden to your materialistic worldview that is as good an explanation as any.

quote:

btw, I note that the case for a y-Chromosomal Adam puts his existence 50,000+ years later than mitochondrial Eve – Ooooops!


Pelligrino, sometimes I wonder if you read what I am writing. In my first post on this topic I mentioned that y-Chromosomal Adam lived much later than mitochondrial Eve, and used that as evidence of the great flood, stating that y-chromosomal Adam should have been named y-Chromosomal Noah instead.


RE: What!?
By PaterPelligrino on 2/17/2011 10:40:18 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Pelligrino, sometimes I wonder if you read what I am writing. In my first post on this topic I mentioned that y-Chromosomal Adam lived much later than mitochondrial Eve, and used that as evidence of the great flood, stating that y-chromosomal Adam should have been named y-Chromosomal Noah instead.


Sorry, in that particular post, I only got as far as the Delaware Indians taking refuge on the back of a turtle.

Frankly, I had forgotten who was reputed to be on the ark.

But that's very clever. If the ark story were true, then yes, the mitochondrial genetic material would have been more diverse and thus point further back than the identical Y's of the father and his three sons. Chalk one up for the Bible.

But then any bottle-neck event could have produced similar results, so nothing in the DNA evidence confirms the ark, just that a bottle-neck situation not inconsistent with the flood might have occurred.

The DNA evidence only states that every male alive today got his Y from a man who lived 50K years ago, and all women got their mitochondria from a woman who lived 150~200K years ago. It does not say that a bottle-neck event happened to both men and women at the same time.

It also doesn't say that only one Y-chromosome subset was present at any one time, only that that particular male succeeded in passing down his Y while the other males didn't. He could have been the head honcho in a small tribe, or perhaps the descendants of the other men all died out over the course of time for some reason.

See http://scienceblogs.com/authority/2007/07/adam_eve... which does a good analysis of these results, and includes this comment:

quote:
I would like to point out that a creationist organization called Reasons to Believe exploits the Y-chromosome "Adam" and mitochondrial "Eve" concept to claim that we descended from Noah's family, and further back, Adam & Eve, respectively. They are wrong for the same reasons that it would be wrong to say you had only two grandparents because you only got one gene from each of two for eye color. Because they leave out everything except for Y-chromosome and mitochondrial DNA, they mislead their followers into thinking that no one else existed at the time.


RE: What!?
By wgbutler on 2/17/2011 11:42:07 PM , Rating: 2
Pelligrino,

quote:

But that's very clever. If the ark story were true, then yes, the mitochondrial genetic material would have been more diverse and thus point further back than the identical Y's of the father and his three sons. Chalk one up for the Bible.


Thanks for your latest reply. With regards to the comment from the blog, the commenter doesn't really give a reason why Reasons to Believe is wrong.

RTB could certainly be right, and the Noah's Ark story fits the evidence perfectly. If someone else wants to dream up an alternative scenario to explain Y-Chromosomal Adam (Noah) and mitochondrial Eve they are certainly welcome to do that, but doing so doesn't prove the Noah story "wrong", it only demonstrates that there could be more than one explanation for the genetic evidence.

At any rate, I believe that I've shown that it is certainly reasonable to conclude from the various cultural legends and genetic evidence that a great flood happened at some time in the past which created a population bottleneck.


RE: What!?
By wgbutler on 2/12/2011 10:14:41 PM , Rating: 2
part 2

quote:

Frankly, given your slavish devotion to a literal interpretation of the OT, I remain very skeptical about your claim that you were a former atheist. It seems an odd leap indeed to go from "just show me a little proof" to "yah, it does make sense after all that Noah got all those millions of animals and insects onto his wooden boat."


Frankly, its pretty annoying reading you openly doubting things that I say about myself. I've noticed that you done this with gstrickler as well, calling him a closet theist, even though he says he is an agnostic. Insinuating that I am lying doesn't move the conversation forward. If you think I am a liar, then why are you wasting your time talking to me?

Furthermore, there are well known atheists who have renounced their atheism after examining the scientific evidence. For one notable example, read the story of Antony Flew. He was a world famous atheist who became a deist after looking at the fine-tuning evidence from physics.

And in part one I presented a reasonable defense of the concept of a great flood wiping out most of humanity in the ancient past, with one family surviving to repopulate the earth. It's not a crazy idea. It has plenty of cultural and scientific evidence to support it.

Instead of throwing the concept around like its a crazy idea, you should state a case as to WHY it is not plausible. I've listed some very good reasons to think that a great flood really did happen in the past. What is your rebuttal to that evidence?

quote:

we demand that you disprove the existence of each and every one of the deities from all the historical religions? You may start with Anubis.


It is not my job to debunk each and every possibility that exists as an alternative to my belief system. This is an unreasonable standard and if you enforced this type of standard on other topics, no one would ever be able to reach any kind of conclusion on anything.

I present a case for why I think my particular belief system is the most likely to be correct. If someone else has a competing belief system, be it Anubis, atheism, or Buddhism, they can present a case as to why THAT belief system fits the evidence better than my belief system (evangelical Christianity). Over a process of time, as various belief systems are put forth, the most likely candidates will distinguish themselves and rise to the top.

The atheists here don't seem interested in defending their belief system, only in attacking other belief systems. Most of these attacks and emotional and immature.

When I ask hard questions like "how did the first life come into existence?" or "why are the constants in physics so amazingly fine-tuned to support life, stars, and chemistry?" I get alot of dancing around, but no straight answers. This is an admission that your belief system has no answers to these questions. MY belief system HAS the answers to these questions. Until you can present a superior belief system that explains these situations better than my belief system does, I will be sticking to what I believe.

quote:

Supernatural beings have no basis in observable reality, so the god-theory is not “simpler”, it’s lazier.


It's possible that some non-intelligent process created the works of Shakespeare or Mozart, but I highly doubt it. How much more complex are the laws and constants of physics?

An intelligent supernatural Being, in my view, is the more likely hypothesis to explain the origin of information and the mind bogglingly exquisite fine tuning of the laws and constants and physics, which seems to have a clear purpose and directive, rather than random processes.

There's a lot more I could say, but I think I'm going to call it a day. I hope to converse with you again in the future.


RE: What!?
By PaterPelligrino on 2/13/2011 3:43:47 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Furthermore, there are well known atheists who have renounced their atheism after examining the scientific evidence.


I have no problem with anyone moving from atheism to agnosticism. The problem is the leap from a denial of god's existence - a denial which, despite your accusations, is not the result of flawed character or a stubborn refusal to see THE TRUTH, but a simple inability to see any credible evidence - to the embrace of a particular dogma, not to mention moving to the extreme position of accepting word for word everything written in the OT; i.e., going from denying there even is a god to claiming to know not only which god exists, but what he wants of us.

I also find it very odd that tho you claim to be a former atheist, you seem to have no understanding whatsoever of what motivates the atheist. I don't buy the biblical account for the exact same reason I don't believe what's written in the Bhagavad Gita.
quote:
Instead of throwing the concept around like its a crazy idea, you should state a case as to WHY (the flood) it is not plausible.


Again, I never said floods were implausible. I said getting all those animals in a wooden boat was implausible. How did animals from Australia make it to the Middle East? I said that talk-and-burn shrubbery was implausible, that raising the dead and turning water into wine was implausible.

In any case, you're not an OT fanatic because there exist historical references to floods - how many talking bushes are mentioned in the historical record? - you've just cherry-picked historical references to floods to support your pre-existing religious beliefs. Just as you demand that scientists explain away every remaining unanswered question in the not-surprisingly incomplete scientific record before you will accept macro-evolution, I demand that you provide evidence in the historical record that such a flood occurred simultaneously everywhere on earth. You might also want to explain where all that extra water came from, seeing that even if all the glaciers and polar ice caps melted that would raise sea levels by only a few hundred meters leaving most land unsubmerged. But of course, all Jehovah would have to do is snap his omnipotent fingers. How silly of me.

quote:
It is not my job to debunk each and every possibility that exists as an alternative to my belief system. This is an unreasonable standard and if you enforced this type of standard on other topics


And yet you demand that atheists give a satisfactory answer to all of life's mysteries, while you refuse to even question your beliefs. But neither should the atheist have to disprove the existence of your god. Tho gs objected to Calindar's appeal to the null hypothesis, he did agree that the burden is on the theist to make a plausible case for the existence of his god. Something that you have failed to do.

quote:
The atheists here don't seem interested in defending their belief system, only in attacking other belief systems.


Everything I've written is in defense of the case against the existence of gods. Your idea that the affirmation and denial of mankind's many gods are equivalent belief systems is risible and hypocritical. You yourself deny the existence of every god but your own. So it's perfectly all right for you to say that all the other theists are mistaken, but not for me to make the same claim about those same gods, plus just one other? Yet again let me bring it to your attention that you guys pass back and forth from a more easily defensible generic god to the OT Jehovah whenever it suits your argument.

Besides, atheism isn't a belief system, it's merely a statement that gods don't exist - that may not be strictly provable and therefore technically a belief, but it's not a belief system in that same way that the very specific religious dogmas are. (You OT guys even think you know what the creator of the universe wants me to do with my dick.) Is the denial of the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairly a belief system?

quote:
Most of these attacks and emotional and immature.


Rubbish. I have made many valid logical arguments against the case for the existence of gods - none of which you have dealt with in Parts 1 or 2, devoting almost all of that response to something I never mentioned - a flood. I've already explained that I use humor and sarcasm because nothing else gets to you guys - reductio ad absurdum is a useful tool to examine the plausibility of any assertion that can't be falsified. As gs pointed out, strictly speaking, it's impossible to proof the non-existence of anything.


RE: What!?
By wgbutler on 2/13/2011 4:57:03 PM , Rating: 2
I don't really have any interest in getting into a tit for tat argument with you. You've unloaded a lot of material on me, most of it is commentary that is unfalsifiable.

I am an extremely busy person and I don't have the time to respond to every single comment in as much detail as I would like to. But if there is something in particular that you want me to address I'll be happy to do that.


RE: What!?
By PaterPelligrino on 2/15/2011 12:30:30 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I don't really have any interest in getting into a tit for tat argument with you. You've unloaded a lot of material on me, most of it is commentary that is unfalsifiable.


One comment on your use of the word “unfalsifiable”. I have used the word repeatedly to make the logical point that one cannot disprove the existence of any supernatural being, and to point out that much of religious reasoning is circular. You on the other hand, are merely saying that I have raised many points for which you can’t find a convincing reply.

quote:
I am an extremely busy person and I don't have the time to respond to every single comment in as much detail as I would like to. But if there is something in particular that you want me to address I'll be happy to do that.


I can't say that I'm conversant with the default position of the Biblical Literalist on every question, but there is one thing about which I'd like your input.

You say your god loves us. You people also believe that if we don't accept Jehovah/Christ as our savior, and live as he commands, we go to hell - yes?

(Again, I think that was a brilliant propaganda ploy by the early Christian strategists to secure victory in the religious war for the hearts and minds of the citizens of the Roman Empire: repent and become a good Christian, and all your sins are forgiven and it's straight to heaven, or continue with the false gods, in which case you rot in hell forever. I’ve got to admire the tactical genius behind that strategy. Curiously, the ancient Roman gods didn't automatically send the non-believer to hell did they? But I digress.)

Anyway, Jehovah loves us. Yet every single human being born before Christ's appearance on the scene, is now, at this very moment, enduring unimaginable pain and torment in a place so vile and evil that it is beyond our ability to imagine. So some 12-yr-old girl, born in Indonesia in 50 BC who lived a perfectly innocent life, and was killed by tuberculosis - another of god's creations - that child must endure unbelievable pain forever, for hundreds of billions of trillions of years because a remote ancestor - yet another of god's creations - disobeyed an order not to eat an apple. Perhaps you guys don't all think that - perhaps it's even a malicious caricature, I really don't know - but, if it is true, I'd like you to explain how this god who loves us could possibly do that to an innocent child - not that I think anything a flawed human could do would justify such sadism.

And not only those who lived before Christ, but every child now born in parts of the world where parents and culture espouse a different religion – Tibetans and Saudis, for instance – children who will never even hear a coherent version of the Biblical narrative – those children will also suffer horrendous torment for all eternity. And yet you say Jehovah loves us?

I’m certainly a flawed individual, but I fail to understand why I deserve indescribable eternal torment because I find the Christian narrative far fetched and implausible. That seems particularly unfair when you consider that it was god who designed this skeptical brain of mine.


RE: What!?
By wgbutler on 2/16/2011 7:57:00 AM , Rating: 2
quote:

Yet every single human being born before Christ's appearance on the scene, is now, at this very moment, enduring unimaginable pain and torment in a place so vile and evil that it is beyond our ability to imagine. So some 12-yr-old girl, born in Indonesia in 50 BC who lived a perfectly innocent life, and was killed by tuberculosis - another of god's creations - that child must endure unbelievable pain forever, for hundreds of billions of trillions of years because a remote ancestor - yet another of god's creations - disobeyed an order not to eat an apple. Perhaps you guys don't all think that - perhaps it's even a malicious caricature, I really don't know - but, if it is true, I'd like you to explain how this god who loves us could possibly do that to an innocent child - not that I think anything a flawed human could do would justify such sadism.


This is a great question. In fact, I've read that it was this exact issue that prevented Antony Flew from becoming a Christian and instead became a Deist when he gave up on atheism.

Maybe I'm not the best one to answer this, as my reply would be viewed as unorthodox by many.

But in a nutshell I believe that God is not calling everyone to salvation in this day and age and is allowing mankind to go his own way, for the most part primarily to allow history to record once and for all whether it is better to live in rebellion against God, or in harmony with God's will. That is why Christ will only return when mankind is on the brink of annihilation, to stop humanity from wiping itself out. As Christ said, "unless those days are cut short, no flesh will be saved alive" (Matt 24:22).

Then humanity will never be able to make the claim that we were getting along just fine without God's intervention and would have gotten it all figured out on our own without His help.

But God is calling a subset of human beings out of the world now, through the power of the Holy Spirit. These people are in the minority, and are charged with witnessing to the world and preaching the gospel. For the most part, God chooses the lowly and despised of the world. Paul describes this in I Corinthians 1:26-31:

quote:

26Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29so that no one may boast before him. 30It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”


But what about those God has not called to salvation in this day and age? I believe that they will be brought back to life in a future resurrection, where they will then have the benefit of looking at the totality of human history and will have the option of deciding whether or not to submit to God's will, or to reject Him completely. Those who reject God will be completely destroyed, wiped out from existence, in a permanent death, not eternally tormented. Those who accept God will be granted eternal life in the new Universe that God is going to make after the great judgment.

Ezekiel 37:1-14, describes this event, in my opinion:

quote:

The hand of the LORD was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the LORD and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. 2 He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. 3 He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”

I said, “Sovereign LORD, you alone know.”

4 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! 5 This is what the Sovereign LORD says to these bones: I will make breath[a] enter you, and you will come to life. 6 I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the LORD.’”

7 So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. 8 I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.

9 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’” 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army.

11 Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the people of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ 12 Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 Then you, my people, will know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. 14 I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the LORD have spoken, and I have done it, declares the LORD.’”


But be advised that the ones that God has called now are being judged now. If they reject God in this life, that is the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, and there is no more forgiveness of sins for them at that point.

I think this view of eschatology explains most of the complaints you have in your post. More than anything, God respects free will and gives us the power to make our own decisions. God does not force Himself on anyone. That is why God put two trees in the garden of Eden and gave the first humans a free choice on which path to take.

When you think about it, this makes perfect sense. Who would want to spend infinity with someone else that hated them? Also, what would be the benefit of forcing someone else to love you? There would be no joy or fulfillment in such a relationship.


RE: What!?
By PaterPelligrino on 2/17/2011 3:57:02 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
But in a nutshell I believe that God is not calling everyone to salvation in this day and age and is allowing mankind to go his own way, for the most part primarily to allow history to record once and for all whether it is better to live in rebellion against God, or in harmony with God's will.

Please, wgb, most atheists are not in rebellion against god. We simply don't find the argument for his existence to be convincing. As I have said many times before, I do not believe in Jehovah for the exact same reason that I do not believe in the existence of Shiva or Anubis or Leprechauns - that and nothing more. If god wants me to live in harmony with his will, at the very least, he has to provide me with evidence of his existence - the kind of evidence that would convince someone not already a believer. As it is, all I have is the counter-example of a human race that worships a plethora of highly unlikely, mutually-contradictory supernatural beings; belief in any one of which is tied to a particular time, place, and tradition. I see examples of human craziness everywhere. Parables written in a 3000(?) year old book from an age where superstition governed all of human life are not convincing. He is god, if he loves me and if my fate rests on capitulating to his will, why can't he just show himself? The argument that he is there to be seen if we only open our minds and look have no logical force. Plenty of intelligent, good people look and see nothing, or see the god of their own traditions.

quote:
But what about those God has not called to salvation in this day and age? I believe that they will be brought back to life in a future resurrection, where they will then have the benefit of looking at the totality of human history and will have the option of deciding whether or not to submit to God's will, or to reject Him completely. Those who reject God will be completely destroyed, wiped out from existence, in a permanent death, not eternally tormented.


Who, in his right mind, would reject god if he believed he existed?

quote:
More than anything, God respects free will and gives us the power to make our own decisions. God does not force Himself on anyone.


Having free will requires that we must judge things for ourselves based on the available evidence. If god gave me free will, and wishes me to judge for myself, then it is imperative that I have the necessarily data to reach the right conclusions. Deliberating hiding himself and constructing a world that supports a naturalistic explanation for life that is much more convincing than the biblical narrative, far from his standing back and allowing me to reach my own conclusion, would be a positive act of deception. If god is intent on deceiving me, what chance do I have of discerning the truth?

You imply that your take on Hell is not the orthodox position. Does that mean that my understanding of the fate of non-believers is what the Bible states? (I am no Bible scholar.) Does your interpretation contradict the Bible, or is the Bible sufficiently vague on Hell and the fate of non-believers that what you've written above doesn't explicitly repudiate the official version? I bring this up because yours seems a rather novel interpretation of Christian theology, and if it is not supported by a literal reading of the text, I wonder how, given your strict adherence to The Word in all other matters, you can justify diverging from the Party Line. One can't claim the Bible as ultimate authority in all matters, and then turn around and counter an argument based on the Bible by inventing a more emotionally acceptable alternate explanation for what happens to those who don't believe.

My logical argument against the existence of god is evidence based. However, one can also make a moral argument against Jehovah. Frankly, I can't believe that any omnipotent, omniscient being - certainly not a god who loves us - would be so sadistic, vengeful and cruel as to create an obscenity like Hell. (Clearly you are also uncomfortable with the idea of Hell.) If Hell exists, Jehovah must be considered evil.

It is much more plausible to conclude that it was not god who created Hell, it was man. The priests require it to back up their religious authority. The rabble needs the whip. Hell is a propaganda requirement of a creed informed by human psychology. That hell plays such a prominent part in the Bible and in Christianity is, to me, further proof that the Bible was written by man for man.


RE: What!?
By wgbutler on 2/17/2011 7:28:47 AM , Rating: 2
Pelligrino,

Thanks for replying to me once again! I find it refreshing to discuss these topics with you as the typical internet atheist is usually a lot more hostile and condescending.

quote:

Please, wgb, most atheists are not in rebellion against god. We simply don't find the argument for his existence to be convincing.


If that were true, most atheists wouldn't be trolling Internet websites constantly taking pot shots at the Judeo-Christian belief system. Think about it. How many times do you read an atheist saying something nasty on the Internet about Buddhism or Islam? Perhaps every once in awhile but for the most part atheists fixate on the Christian religion. This in itself is a great testament to the power of Christianity.

I don't believe in all the other things you mentioned too. Yet I do not feel a compulsive impulse to hang out on Buddhist websites and constantly tell everyone how ridiculous and idiotic they are for believing what they do. Nor do I feel a need to constantly trumpet how scientifically inaccurate Buddhist beliefs are.

In fact, a recent study found that atheists were more angry at God, a Being whom they supposedly didn't believe existed, than believers were!

http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/2011/01/whe...

quote:

A new set of studies in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology finds that atheists and agnostics report anger toward God either in the past or anger focused on a hypothetical image of what they imagine God must be like. Julie Exline, a psychologist at Case Western Reserve University and the lead author of this recent study, has examined other data on this subject with identical results. Exline explains that her interest was first piqued when an early study of anger toward God revealed a counterintuitive finding: Those who reported no belief in God reported more grudges toward him than believers.

At first glance, this finding seemed to reflect an error. How could people be angry with God if they did not believe in God? Reanalyses of a second dataset revealed similar patterns: Those who endorsed their religious beliefs as “atheist/agnostic” or “none/unsure” reported more anger toward God than those who reported a religious affiliation.


quote:

If god wants me to live in harmony with his will, at the very least, he has to provide me with evidence of his existence - the kind of evidence that would convince someone not already a believer.


What about the Shroud of Turin? This is a remarkable artifact that science has yet to explain. Several scientists who have studied it have ended up converting to Christianity!

quote:

Who, in his right mind, would reject god if he believed he existed?


Exactly!

quote:

Having free will requires that we must judge things for ourselves based on the available evidence. If god gave me free will, and wishes me to judge for myself, then it is imperative that I have the necessarily data to reach the right conclusions. Deliberating hiding himself and constructing a world that supports a naturalistic explanation for life that is much more convincing than the biblical narrative, far from his standing back and allowing me to reach my own conclusion, would be a positive act of deception. If god is intent on deceiving me, what chance do I have of discerning the truth?


God says in His word that those who truly seek Him with their whole heart will find him (Jeremiah 29:13). I believe that the desire to seek God and truly know Him is itself a gift from God.

God is making His existence less obvious so that those who desire to live in rebellion to Him can easily do so. If God were up in the sky, constantly flinging lightning bolts at every rebellious human being, or giving gifts to His devoted followers, people would follow Him simply out of a desire for self-preservation or personal gain.

On the other hand, there is more than enough evidence out there so that those who are truly interested in a relationship with God can see it and know that God really does exist.

quote:

You imply that your take on Hell is not the orthodox position. Does that mean that my understanding of the fate of non-believers is what the Bible states? (I am no Bible scholar.) Does your interpretation contradict the Bible, or is the Bible sufficiently vague on Hell and the fate of non-believers that what you've written above doesn't explicitly repudiate the official version? I bring this up because yours seems a rather novel interpretation of Christian theology, and if it is not supported by a literal reading of the text, I wonder how, given your strict adherence to The Word in all other matters, you can justify diverging from the Party Line. One can't claim the Bible as ultimate authority in all matters, and then turn around and counter an argument based on the Bible by inventing a more emotionally acceptable alternate explanation for what happens to those who don't believe.


What an awesome question! There are a pretty big subset of Christians who believe in the doctrine of annihilationism which basically states that the incorruptible wicked are permanently destroyed, rather than eternally tormented.

I believe that this is what the Bible truly teaches. There are plenty of passages in the Bible which categorically state this, in my opinion. For example Mathew 10:28:

quote:

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.


To be fair, there are also some verses which imply a state of torment, especially in the book of Revelation. But in my opinion (and I've studied this ALOT) the scriptures seem to teach that eternal life is a gift from God to the righteous only, and destruction by fire, aka the second death, is the ultimate punishment of the wicked.

quote:

It is much more plausible to conclude that it was not god who created Hell, it was man. The priests require it to back up their religious authority. The rabble needs the whip. Hell is a propaganda requirement of a creed informed by human psychology. That hell plays such a prominent part in the Bible and in Christianity is, to me, further proof that the Bible was written by man for man.


I agree with 90% of what you just said. I think that the modern concept of Hell was introduced to Christianity largely through the Catholic church from paganistic influences and was used to control the masses. However, many of the early Christian leaders, like Justin Martyr, Ignatius of Antioch, and Irenaeus were annihilationists, and in my humble opinion this is the doctrine that is taught in the Bible.


RE: What!?
By PaterPelligrino on 2/18/2011 7:27:52 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
.......for the most part atheists fixate on the Christian religion. This in itself is a great testament to the power of Christianity.


No. It's a testament to the omnipresence of Christianity in the societies in which atheists that post to the websites you frequent live. How many Buddhists and Muslims show up on DailyTech to deny macro-evolution? Creationists and ID'ers are all Biblical Literalists.

quote:
Yet I do not feel a compulsive impulse to hang out on Buddhist websites and constantly tell everyone how ridiculous and idiotic they are for believing what they do. Nor do I feel a need to constantly trumpet how scientifically inaccurate Buddhist beliefs are.


I don't troll websites looking to pick fights with theists. In fact, I've never visited a website devoted to religious discussion. I only occasionally encounter theists here on DT when they try to discredit evolution, or on the websites of the papers I habitually read like The Guardian or The NY Times. Militant Biblical Literalism is almost exclusively restricted to English speaking countries. On the foreign language websites I read (Chinese, Japanese, Italian) I have never encountered anyone arguing any religion one way or the other. In years of occasional religious debate on English-language websites, I have never encountered a Buddhist or a Muslim. No doubt atheist trolls exist, but for the most part we don't seek out those whom we know won't even hear what we're saying. In any case, it shouldn't surprise you that posts to a tech site denouncing macro-evolution are met with scorn.

Atheists attack OT literalists because those are the people we encounter. They are the ones who are ascendant in all English speaking countries - though they are particularly politically/culturally insistent in America where it is becoming increasingly difficult to escape Evangelical Christianity. One can't get elected in the US without at least pretending to be a devout Christian. The atheist feels himself - feels civilization, the enlightenment, scientific neutrality - under siege by the particularly intolerant and self-righteous version of Christianity that has taken over the English-speaking world.

quote:
In fact, a recent study found that atheists were more angry at God, a Being whom they supposedly didn't believe existed, than believers were!


That is hardly surprising: I doubt ANY True Believer is angry at his god. A far higher percentage of liberals hated Bush than conservatives. In any case, atheists can hardly dislike something that doesn't exist, they dislike the idea of god, and Jehovah in particular because he's always in our face over here. I don't particularly like Anubis, but he isn't being preached at me from every corner, he isn't telling politicians to pass laws I don't agree with, no one is attempting to influence school curriculum in his name.

quote:
What about the Shroud of Turin? This is a remarkable artifact that science has yet to explain. Several scientists who have studied it have ended up converting to Christianity!


I thought carbon dating gave the Shroud of Turin a medieval provenance? It certainly is intriguing. But even if it were genuine, what would it prove beyond the fact that someone was crucified in the 1st century? Don't we already know that?

quote:
God says in His word that those who truly seek Him with their whole heart will find him (Jeremiah 29:13). I believe that the desire to seek God and truly know Him is itself a gift from God.


To me, that is dangerously close to the statement, "those who want to see god, will see him whether he exists or not." Given mankind's demonstrated tendency to believe in the supernatural - and you cannot deny that - it is most likely the case that if anyone wanted to believe strongly enough, he would succeed in convincing himslef, no matter which god it was. Again, Saudis are Muslims, Italians Christians, Tibetans Buddhists, Indians mostly Hindus: many of them devout believers who wholeheartedly sought god.

quote:
God is making His existence less obvious so that those who desire to live in rebellion to Him can easily do so. If God were up in the sky, constantly flinging lightning bolts at every rebellious human being, or giving gifts to His devoted followers, people would follow Him simply out of a desire for self-preservation or personal gain.


Well, I have no desire to live in rebellion, I doubt many atheists do, so where do I fit in that description?

Your problem here is that you are so convinced of the obviousness of Jehovah's existence that the only way you can get your head around atheism is to see it as willful denial. If you persist in passing everything through the cognitive filter of that self-serving, logical bubble, you will never understand us. (Again, if you were ever an atheist, you weren't anything I would recognize by the word.) Listen carefully to me wgb, I do not believe in Jehovah for the exact same reason that I do not believe in the Tooth Fairy. I see your god as nothing more than a more elaborate version of every other god, ghost, and goblin that every society since the birth of mankind has invented out of thin air to make life more comprehensible/acceptable to his imperfect mind. You accept that about every other of man's religions, but think your god is the one exception. Am I also in rebellion against the Inca gods, the Norse gods, or Santa Claus? That is not a snide attempt to wound your feelings, it is the literal truth of how I see all theists. Discussing the motives of Jehovah, is to me like discussing the reason why Superman has decided to stay on earth and fight for truth, justice and the American way. Sure it all makes sense if you uncritically accept the creed , but so does every myth. Given that you approach Hinduism with the same skepticism that I approach Christianity, you persist in this rebellion myth because it supports your belief system: you prefer to attribute atheism to a rebellion against god because that indicates that even we secretly recognize his existence. We don't.

quote:
On the other hand, there is more than enough evidence out there so that those who are truly interested in a relationship with God can see it and know that God really does exist.


I'm sorry, but there isn't, and what evidence does exist is contingent and suspect. And there exists all the counter-evidence that I have brought up again and again. If there is a god, he is not just being coy, he is deliberating laying a false trail.

quote:
To be fair, there are also some verses which imply a state of torment, especially in the book of Revelation. But in my opinion (and I've studied this ALOT) the scriptures seem to teach that eternal life is a gift from God to the righteous only, and destruction by fire, aka the second death, is the ultimate punishment of the wicked.


quote:
I agree with 90% of what you just said. I think that the modern concept of Hell was introduced to Christianity largely through the Catholic church from paganistic influences and was used to control the masses. However, many of the early Christian leaders, like Justin Martyr, Ignatius of Antioch, and Irenaeus were annihilationists, and in my humble opinion this is the doctrine that is taught in the Bible.


That's very interesting. I never knew that what you call 'annihilationism' existed in Christian doctrine. But again, I think that anyone convinced of gods existence would do whatever god thought we should, not from fear, but because god would be the truth. Only a vanishingly small minority of people would deny an evident god.


RE: What!?
By wgbutler on 2/22/2011 11:01:31 AM , Rating: 2
quote:

I thought carbon dating gave the Shroud of Turin a medieval provenance? It certainly is intriguing. But even if it were genuine, what would it prove beyond the fact that someone was crucified in the 1st century? Don't we already know that?


Pelligrino, we have good scientific reason to believe that the carbon dating test that put the Shroud of Turin in the middle ages was flawed. Essentially, it was discovered by a world leading expert in the textile industry that the Shroud was repaired in the middle ages and the threads from that repair were the ones that were tested in the carbon dating process. All this has been recently documented in peer reviewed scientific papers.

There is also a mountain of evidence that places the date of the Shroud much earlier. For example, the blood patterns on the Shroud perfectly match the blood patterns on the Sudarium of Oviedo, which dates to at least the 7th century. It is also the same type of blood, and both pieces of cloth have pollen on them that only grows in a region within 50 miles of Jerusalem.

Furthermore, the Shroud doesn't just demonstrate that someone was crucified. It describes a crucifixion process that perfectly matches the New Testament description of the crucifixion of Jesus, with the thorny crown, impaling on the side, lashings, and beatings. This was in all likelihood a unique crucifixion event.

Finally, no scientist has been able to explain how the three dimensional image that is in the photographic negative got on the Shroud. Nothing in our current technology other than an intense burst of light (for example, the light from a nuclear explosion) can create this type of imprint on a cloth. No paint was used, and the image only covers the very surface of the cloth.

The history channel and youtube have quite a bit of material on this. I recommend looking into it, as its quite a fascinating topic.


RE: What!?
By PaterPelligrino on 2/20/2011 10:37:11 AM , Rating: 2
I dreamt last night that I was an alien visitor from a planet whose dominant species lacks the god gene. I'm on a sight-seeing train-journey across Earth traveling through a succession of countries each with its own unique supernatural belief system. Day 1 finds me in Shivaland with its elaborate mythology and temples and dogma and people prostrating themselves in total submission to their gods. Everyone tells stories of visitations and sitings and miracles. Day 2, I cross the border into Buddhaland whose inhabitants exhibit the same behavior seen in Shivaland, only directed towards different gods. Day 3, the train pulls into Allahland - ditto for the worship and devotion of its people; Day 4, I'm in Jehovahland, itself, like all the others, divided into conflicting subsets of the parent dogma. Here too tales of sightings and visitations and miracles instill joy and awe in the devout.

During my journey, I fill the empty moments with a little historical research of planet Earth. I read about the Norse, Greek, Roman, Inca, Mayan, Egyptian, Amerindian, Australian Aboriginal, Voodoo, Persian, Chinese, etc., ad infinitum belief systems. I next delve into vast indexes of the mythological creatures Homo Sap has peopled his world with - the ghosts, goblins, leprechauns, peskies, Abada, Abatwa, Acheri, sprites, elves, trolls, a list truly astounding in its breadth and fancy. (These latter are not considered gods in the religious sense, tho I find it difficult to understand where the distinction lies.)

On my journey, I share my compartment with many native people crossing borders in the pursuit of profit. My travel companions appear embarrassed by the "superstitious nonsense" of their "primitive neighbors". They are worried that I will think all Earthlings fools, and are at pains to point out how THEIR religion is the one exception, that THEIR beliefs are really quite rational, that THEIR god(s) is/are supported by the evidence, is/are, in fact, the only rational explanation for the existence of life and the universe. They claim that I too will see the truth of THEIR religion if only I would cease my willful rejection of Allah/Shiva/Jehovah/Buddha and truly believe. Supposedly, one will see unequivocal evidence for the existence of the longed-for god if only one believes strongly enough that that god exists??!!

I'm careful not to make disparaging comments, to point out the empty, circular nature of their reasoning. (Oddly, it seems the Earthlings do not teach their young how to reason logically.) My travel book warns that Earthlings do not take kindly to outsiders questioning their faith. I send a postcard back to my wife describing all these contradictory beliefs. She laughs and accuses me of exaggeration; she protests that no one could be that irrational.


RE: What!?
By wgbutler on 2/22/2011 10:31:49 AM , Rating: 2
quote:

I next delve into vast indexes of the mythological creatures Homo Sap has peopled his world with - the ghosts, goblins, leprechauns, peskies, Abada, Abatwa, Acheri, sprites, elves, trolls...

I'm careful not to make disparaging comments, to point out the empty, circular nature of their reasoning. (Oddly, it seems the Earthlings do not teach their young how to reason logically.)


Pelligrino,

Sorry it has taken me so long to respond. My schedule is absolutely insane.

It seems to me like you are trying to have it both ways. On the one hand, you present as a reasonable, nice person who just wants to get to the truth. But in the next sentence, you compare theists to people who believe in leprechauns and trolls.

Surely you can see how condescending this is? There is no logical basis to compare theists to people who believe in trolls. Quite frankly, I could make the same exact accusation about you.

I could say, with real authority, that people who think Universes that create themselves out of nothing and that cells arise out of mud after its been zapped by a lightning bolt are like little children who believe in fairies.

This type of dialog gets you nowhere, nor does it make a sound case for atheism. It may score points with your fellow atheists who will cheer any disparaging remark against God or people who believe in Him, but in the end that is all it does.


RE: What!?
By PaterPelligrino on 2/23/2011 4:36:47 AM , Rating: 2
You really don't want to deal with the issues I raised in that post do you?

I have offered irrefutable proof that it is inherent in human nature to invent gods, religions, and mythical creatures. We are psychologically constructed - perhaps, even at the genetic level - to do this. No other conclusion is possible. I have repeatedly pointed this out in countless posts, yet you have always refused to address it head on. When the entire human race, irrespective of time and place, demonstrates a unfailing bias toward error in the invention of these supernatural belief systems, it is logical to assume that no such belief is free from that bias.

Tho you stubbornly refuse to admit it, the existence of all those mutually-contradictory religions - many of which predate and/or arose independently of OT Judaism - proves that man does, in fact, create gods, he does invent religions out of thin air. The invented gods meet the needs of the societies that invent them. Because those societies differ, the religions based on those contingent social circumstances also differ. Different social needs, different gods. First needs, then gods. Every society that has ever existed has had its gods. That it is largely tradition and geography that determine religion (Saudis are Muslim, Tibetans Buddhists, Irish Catholic, etc., etc..) is yet another indicator of how contingent religious belief is. That is what the myth-making, social animal Homo Sap does.

Once a belief system takes root, the True Believer of every religion acts as you act, says what you say, argues as you argue. Like you, they all claim that all competing gods and religions are fictions; like you, they all want us to believe that theirs is the only exception. The single most defining characteristic of every True Believer is the total incapability/unwillingness to question the rationality of his cherished beliefs.

To a non-believer, that is a devastating indictment of all supernatural belief systems. My religious skepticism is not only motivated by the absurdity of supernatural beings and holy-book miracles, it is also firmly rooted in an unsentimental appraisal of human nature as it really is. It is undeniable that people do this kind of s**t.

I merely apply to all supernatural beliefs the very same skepticism that you also apply to every religion save your own. Every fallacy you think I commit when refuting your god, you are guilty of vis-a-vis the others. I don't see how that cannot be considered hypocrisy.


RE: What!?
By PaterPelligrino on 2/13/2011 4:21:25 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
When I ask hard questions like "how did the first life come into existence?" or "why are the constants in physics so amazingly fine-tuned to support life, stars, and chemistry?" I get a lot of dancing around, but no straight answers.


I gave you a straight answer, I said I don't know the answer to all of life's mysteries - another thing that distinguishes my position from yours is humility, I don't pretend to know the answers. However, I stop at that, you go from "I don't know" to "everything in the OT is literally true." You tell me who's being most honest here.

So the burden of proof is on me, and you will continue living in your logical bubble until I'm able to provide a satisfactory answer to each and every one of the ultimate mysteries of existence. Seems to me you should be grateful that there are questions science can't yet answer.

You do this with your arguments against macro-evolution as well, choosing to ignore all the evidence for the theory, demanding that scientists explain every last detail. You ignore all the fossil evidence but think floods mentioned in a few historical documents definitively proves the reliability of the biblical account.

quote:
I present a case for why I think my particular belief system is the most likely to be correct. If someone else has a competing belief system, be it Anubis, atheism, or Buddhism, they can present a case as to why THAT belief system fits the evidence better than my belief system (evangelical Christianity). Over a process of time, as various belief systems are put forth, the most likely candidates will distinguish themselves and rise to the top.


So, your religion is the result of Biblical Literalism having won the Miss Most Plausible Religion Beauty Pageant? Do I understand you correctly? You're now saying that as soon as something more plausible comes along, your autographed copy of the Bible goes into the trash? Somehow I doubt that. In any case, that seems a pretty contingent reason to uncritically embrace the whole Burning Bush Road Show.

However, I'm happy to see we've made some progress here; at least you now admit that you don't really know that the Biblical account is the real deal, you merely choose to believe in it because it seems to you to offer the most reasonable explanation. That's not the kind of reasoning I'd want to base my worldview on, but I can understand why many would. As I've pointed out before, the major difference between the believer and the atheist/agnostic is personality. You give a guy a strong dose of the god gene and he becomes a devout believer in the religion of his time and place. How else can you explain the almost perfect correspondence between era, geography and god(s). You tell me where and when a guy was born and I can tell you with almost unfailing accuracy which god he worships. I can even tell you with significant accuracy what brand of Christian he is. Coincidence?


RE: What!?
By wgbutler on 2/13/2011 5:06:17 PM , Rating: 2
quote:

So, your religion is the result of Biblical Literalism having won the Miss Most Plausible Religion Beauty Pageant? Do I understand you correctly? You're now saying that as soon as something more plausible comes along, your autographed copy of the Bible goes into the trash? Somehow I doubt that. In any case, that seems a pretty contingent reason to uncritically embrace the whole Burning Bush Road Show.


I consider myself an open minded person, and even though I am extremely emotionally invested in my worldview, given enough evidence I could change the way I think. I've done it before. I used to be emotionally invested in atheism being true, as I saw religion, and Christianity in particular, as a burdensome system that would take away my ability to have fun and enjoy life. I saw Christians as hypocrites and religious nuts, and had an extreme hostility towards them, especially the political ones.

But to clarify your assertion, my beliefs are based upon other things than what is the most plausible scenario. Christianity meets that criteria with evidence to spare, but I have also had some very intense spiritual experiences since converting to Christianity that have been very confirmatory of my belief system. Some really cool miraculous things have happened in my life that have the fingerprints of God all over them.


RE: What!?
By PaterPelligrino on 2/15/2011 11:47:53 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
I used to be emotionally invested in atheism being true, as I saw religion, and Christianity in particular, as a burdensome system that would take away my ability to have fun and enjoy life.


If that is a sly attempt to delegitimize the atheist’s position by suggesting that what motivates the denial of god’s existence is a selfish fixation on personal pleasure, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, considering that the True Believer sees this life as little more than a short wait in the ticket line for Jehovah’s Eternal Bliss Fest, anyone not convinced of Yahweh's non-existence and intent on furthering his own interests would become a devout, by-the-book, OT Christian; would become someone like you wgb. Certainly Pascal’s Wager is motivated by self-interest.

So when Christians pretend to be taking the difficult path, when they claim not to be motivated by concern for number one, I take that with a grain of salt the size of an iceberg. All one has to do is listen to ranting televangelists threaten us to believe or go to hell, to know what motivates most converts. Honestly, how many Christians would there be in the world today if it were not for the promise of Heaven?

After Christianity upped the ante, no new religion can possibly compete without offering eternal bliss. That was a propaganda tool of real genius don’t you think?: come over to our side and it’s chocolates and orgasms for ever.

Given that, I’ve never understood why so many True Believer’s always seem so angry and unhappy. If I were convinced I was going to heaven, anything this life could throw at me would appear no more than a trivial distraction.

quote:
But to clarify your assertion, my beliefs are based upon other things than what is the most plausible scenario. Christianity meets that criteria with evidence to spare, but I have also had some very intense spiritual experiences since converting to Christianity that have been very confirmatory of my belief system. Some really cool miraculous things have happened in my life that have the fingerprints of God all over them.


If the evidence were convincing, there would be no atheists, or Muslims or Hindus, for that matter. And in spite of your convincing evidence, there are even priests who become disillusioned with Christianity and give it up. I know someone who dropped out of seminary school.

I don't find it surprising that someone who sees evidence of Jehovah's existence everywhere also has very intense spiritual experiences. So those confirming experiences only came after your conversion - makes sense, you gotta first drink the Koolaid if you wanna feel the buzz.


RE: What!?
By wgbutler on 2/16/2011 8:18:46 AM , Rating: 2
quote:

If that is a sly attempt to delegitimize the atheist’s position by suggesting that what motivates the denial of god’s existence is a selfish fixation on personal pleasure, nothing could be further from the truth.


There was no sly attempt. That was my true way of thinking back then. But many atheists are atheists because they like the idea of not being morally accountable to a higher power. In the book, "I Don't Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist", Frank Turek writes:

quote:

In fact, the late Julian Huxley, once a leader among Darwinists, admitted that sexual freedom is a popular motivation behind evolutionary dogma. When he was asked by talk show host Merv Griffon, "Why do people believe in evolution?" Huxley honestly answered, "The reason we accepted Darwinism even without proof, is because we didn't want God to interfere with our sexual mores." Notice he didn't cite evidence for spontaneous generation or evidence from the fossil record. The motivation he observed to be prevalent among evolutionists was based on moral preferences, not scientific evidence.


I realize, of course that people are atheists for other reasons too. I was just describing my particular perspective to you.

quote:

Given that, I’ve never understood why so many True Believer’s always seem so angry and unhappy. If I were convinced I was going to heaven, anything this life could throw at me would appear no more than a trivial distraction.


Its a weakness of people to focus on what's going on at the moment and lose perspective on the big picture. It's the reason why so many people abuse drugs, become obese, and go into debt.

quote:

I don't find it surprising that someone who sees evidence of Jehovah's existence everywhere also has very intense spiritual experiences. So those confirming experiences only came after your conversion - makes sense, you gotta first drink the Koolaid if you wanna feel the buzz.


I realize that subjective emotional experiences can be anything. I don't put alot of stock into those, from an apologetics point of view, as people have emotional experiences for all sorts of reasons.

When I say some miraculous things have happened, I'm talking about much more hard core stuff. I'll go ahead and share the most prominent example with you, even though you'll use this in the future to call me a nutcase.

Several years ago, I was at work, doing my computer programming thing, when I fell into a trance, around 2:00PM. I saw, in my mind, a dazzling being of pure light, which was completely awe-inspiring, and heard the sound of crystal bells loudly ringing, but in a good way. The being (I think it was angel) warned me that something terrible was getting ready to happen to my family. Then, in a moment, the vision was gone. For some reason, the first thing I did was look at my wedding ring, which had 5 diamonds in it, the center diamond being the biggest of the 5. The center diamond was completely gone. It just disappeared, and no matter where I looked, I never found it. Until that vision happened, I had never noticed that it was missing.

As the afternoon wore on, I began to feel more and more panicky. I felt that something terrible was happening. I ended up leaving work about 20 minutes early and I literally raced to my car to pick up my daughter at the day care, who wasn't there. In a panic, I called my wife, who to my great shock informed me that she had taken the daughter, cleared out the bank accounts, filed for a divorce, and skipped town. Even though I have never been able to get my ex-wife to tell me the exact time she filed the papers in court, I have good reason to think it was around 2:00PM.

I had no idea that she was thinking about doing something like this and was completely taken by surprise. Over the next year I had to depend on God every day to get through one ordeal after another. In the end, I make it through all of that, with lots of access to my child. It was a very spiritually enriching time for me, and my relationship with God became much closer than before this all happened. To this day, I still have my old wedding ring, with the big hole in the middle. It's a piece of hard physical evidence to me that angelical beings really exist.


RE: What!?
By PaterPelligrino on 2/17/2011 10:26:30 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
But many atheists are atheists because they like the idea of not being morally accountable to a higher power.


That and the interference in our sex lives thing is just putting the cart before the horse. At most, it implies that a desire not to be subject to restrictive Church moral doctrine might predispose someone not to look for god. But anyone convinced of god's existence would joyfully convert. God would be the truth, and really, what would be a few orgasms compared to the prospect of eternal bliss. The theist does the atheist a disservice, and exposes himself to the counter-argument of being unwilling to confront legitimate objection to religious belief, when he reduces our arguments down to childish temper tantrums. It's also presumptuous in that it implies atheism is just the result of flawed character.

quote:
I'll go ahead and share the most prominent example with you, even though you'll use this in the future to call me a nutcase.


Look wgb, I argue this god thing not because I want to change anyone's mind - that would be very arrogant - but rather as a topic of discussion divorced from anyone's individual situation. I have never pretended to know the ultimate truth about anything, I reject the idea of god because it doesn't make sense to me, and I refuse to live my life in thrall to an implausible superstition. As long as someone's individual beliefs help him deal with his life and don't lead him to harm others, I really have no complaint with that. So everything I've said in this blog is an attack on an idea, not on a person.

I have no doubt that what you experienced meant a great deal to you, but I'm sure you will understand that tho those events may have confirmed you in your belief in god, they say nothing to me. I will naturally explain it away as just your subconscious mind telling you something that you noticed without noticing you noticed it. When we sleep, our minds do not stop working. Everyone has had the experience of going to bed with an unresolved problem and waking up with the answer. Einstein used to say that solutions to math problems would often just pop into his mind - obviously, while he was occupied with other issues, his subconscious was still plugging away at the math. Science has proven that we are not just our conscious minds.

You can't very well have spent years with a women who was so unhappy with you that she plotted to kidnap your daughter and disappear, without noticing that something was wrong with your relationship. I've had a dozen or so close relationships with women and in my experience it's impossible to mask discontent - the other party picks up on it immediately. We have very sensitive emotional antennae for such things. Therefore, I have to see your experience as just your subconscious mind telling you something was wrong at the moment of your wife's maximum discontent.

Furthermore, I have to ask myself, why you? Many devout Christians lost loved ones or even their own lives in the 2004 Tsunami or 911 or any number of disasters or individual tragedies without any warning from above. So if I'm to credit your experience, not only do I have to take it on faith that it was god speaking to you, I'd have to believe that you are somehow special to god. There's just too much magical thinking in all that for me to take seriously.


RE: What!?
By wgbutler on 2/18/2011 12:00:04 AM , Rating: 2
Pelligrino,

Thanks for another thoughtful reply. I agree with you that theists shouldn't dismiss atheistic objections to God's existence by concluding that the atheists are just throwing childish temper tantrums, etc.

With regards to the experience I described, at the end of the day I agree that I can't really use it as an argument to prove that a spiritual reality really exists. It was certainly real to me, but for all you know I could be lying through my teeth, or just plain crazy.

I'm about as skeptical as they come, and if it weren't for the diamond missing from the ring and the wife running off and bailing out on the marriage the same exact day, I'd probably dismiss it as just some kind of hallucination or daydream too.

quote:

Furthermore, I have to ask myself, why you? Many devout Christians lost loved ones or even their own lives in the 2004 Tsunami or 911 or any number of disasters or individual tragedies without any warning from above. So if I'm to credit your experience, not only do I have to take it on faith that it was god speaking to you, I'd have to believe that you are somehow special to god. There's just too much magical thinking in all that for me to take seriously.


Quite frankly, what happened to me is pretty trivial compared to some other stories that I've heard. If you research the topic of Muslims converting to Christianity, amazing things happen all over the place because it is illegal to proselytize Muslims in most Islamic countries. So God causes many of the Muslims to have dreams and other intense spiritual experiences to evangelize them directly.

Just a few weeks ago, a missionary in my church was talking about a lady in Egypt who had been a devout Muslim her entire life. She was going blind in one eye, and had read in the Quran where Jesus had the ability to heal. So she started praying to Jesus for healing, with her husband in the room. Jesus apparently did just that! He manifested in the room and reached out and touched her eye, and then disappeared. Her husband also saw the whole thing. Needless to say, the woman's eye was completely healed (verified by the doctor) and they both immediately converted to Christianity.

With regards to other Christians, there is a movie on Netflix that you can stream, called "Untold Stories of Columbine" where God warned the family of the girl who was killed in the shootings that she was going to die, and even arranged for the father to find a message describing this after her death. It's quite awesome, and if you have an hour to spare I'd recommend checking it out.

Also, I'd like to thank you for listening to my arguments and researching what I've been saying. I realize that your time is valuable and you could be doing other things. It's greatly appreciated and noted, and I couldn't ask any more of you.


RE: What!?
By PaterPelligrino on 2/18/2011 7:28:11 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
I'm about as skeptical as they come

Quite frankly, what happened to me is pretty trivial compared to some other stories that I've heard.


No wgb, you are not as skeptical as they come. Whenever anyone takes a close look at these claims, they all evaporate into rumors and stories of someone being told something by someone who knew someone who said something.... There is never any unequivocal proof; at most, either someone relates a dream or visitation, or there is the occurrence of a highly improbable event. Most people don't realize that the laws of probability require that improbable things sometimes happen.

Often, it's just deliberate propaganda. When presented with these unverifiable accounts, I'm always reminded of the Jesuit doctrine that anything, even deception, is permissible when in the service of god.

The web is the perfect tool for the instant propagation of rumor, and passing from site to site these stories gain authenticity and detail. If these things really happened with any frequency, they would attract serious consideration. There is no conspiracy to deny Christ's divinity - just the opposite.

I have real problems with the idea that your god only reveals himself to someone who already believes, desperately wants to believe, in his existence.


RE: What!?
By wgbutler on 2/22/2011 10:52:03 AM , Rating: 2
quote:

I'm always reminded of the Jesuit doctrine that anything, even deception, is permissible when in the service of god.


I'm not an apologist for the Catholic church, nor would I agree with the concept that deception is permissible in the service of God.

quote:

The web is the perfect tool for the instant propagation of rumor, and passing from site to site these stories gain authenticity and detail. If these things really happened with any frequency, they would attract serious consideration. There is no conspiracy to deny Christ's divinity - just the opposite.


I agree that many of these stories might be fabricated or exaggerated.

Regarding the dreams and other supernatural experiences in the Middle Eastern countries, there are many of them and I would have a hard time believing that each and every one is a fabrication.

Quite frankly, there is absolutely no incentive for a Muslim to become a Christian convert in these predominantly Islamic countries. Christian converts from Islam are treated quite brutally, persecuted, have diminished legal rights, and often killed.

The fact that so many put their lives and welfare at stake by converting to Christianity tells me that they really believe in what they are doing.

quote:

I have real problems with the idea that your god only reveals himself to someone who already believes, desperately wants to believe, in his existence.


I'm not entirely sure that's true. I think God reveals Himself to whoever He wants to. Sometimes its someone who is actively seeking Him out and other times its not. For example, the apostle Paul was on a mission to persecute Christians when Jesus revealed Himself on the road to Damascus.


RE: What!?
By PaterPelligrino on 2/23/2011 4:43:07 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
I think God reveals Himself to whoever He wants to. Sometimes its someone who is actively seeking Him out and other times its not.


That certainly covers all the bases.


RE: What!?
By PaterPelligrino on 2/9/2011 1:50:43 PM , Rating: 3
wgbutler

quote:
No it really doesn't make sense to me that something could pop into existence from nothing. Does it make sense to you?

It's hardly surprising that there are things in this world beyond our limited powers of comprehension. Our minds, like our eyes, were shaped by natural selection, and the ability to intuitively grasp the ultimate nature of reality would no more have increased our chances of survival than the ability to see radio-waves. Richard Feynman stated that the human mind can never really grasp the paradoxes of quantum mechanics – and he was one of QM's formulators. Leaping from the inability to provide a satisfactory explanation to all of life’s unknowns to god is silly. One might as well argue that human ignorance proves the existence of god.

An eternally existing omnipotent being makes even less sense then eternally existing physical processes capable of giving rise to matter and energy. You only find god the more plausible explanation because you want to. It is adolescent hubris to think that some god built the universe just for us.
quote:
Why is the Universe so amazingly fine-tuned to allow stars and life? Did we just get really lucky?

I have no idea. It could be that the physical constants prevailing in this universe are not arbitrary but necessarily follow from the originating event. I think Calindar’s argument is not as empty as you imply. I also remember an article by some physicist that theorized that ours is just one of an infinite number of multiverses. I admit that isn’t very satisfying, but I find it no more improbable than your god hypothesis.

But while I merely point out the possibility of multiverses, you go much further: not only do you assert that a god cannot be ruled out as the originator, you also claim to know which of man’s many gods it was. You even think you know what the creator of the universe considers acceptable human sexual behavior.
quote:
The God hypothesis is a much simpler explanation to these problems rather than coming up with some convoluted materialistic scheme to explain why we are here.

And Thor hurling lightning bolts across the sky was a much simpler explanation for the existence of thunder. (Even now, what percentage of the population really understands the physics underlying lightning?) The simple explanation for disease and insanity used to be demonic possession.

Why not then attribute all intractable scientific unknowns to god? Can’t explain gravity or the expansion of the universe? Why search for the Higgs Boson, dark matter or dark energy when it’s much simpler to just attribute it all to the wondrous workings of god.

Supernatural beings have no basis in observable reality, so the god-theory is not “simpler”, it’s lazier. Jehovah, like Thor, is just a convenient deus ex machina wheeled out to provide easy answers to difficult questions. The ‘simpler is better argument’ only works with known possibilities. Sherlock Holmes would not have said that once you've eliminated the improbable, a supernatural being must have done it.

This type of argument is nothing more than classical god of the gaps reasoning . I don’t understand it, so it must have been god.
quote:
And if you really don't know what caused the singularity, how can you be so sure that it WASN'T an intelligent Being?

I cannot be 100% certain that an intelligent being wasn’t involved in the initial creation of the universe. But then I cannot be absolutely certain that Zeus doesn’t exist, or leprechauns for that matter. There are an infinite number of non-disprovable theoretically possible beings that fall into this category that we don’t dignify with agnosticism.

But you are not just arguing for the theoretical possibility of a divine hand in the creation of the universe, you want the whole burning-bush OT narrative. It is the leap from neutral agnosticism to championing the existence of a particular deity and a particular dogma that I cannot accept.
quote:
Something has to have eternally existed. Even if you don't want to grant the possibility of God, you have to say that some mindless, materialistic Universe creating mechanism has always existed. I don't buy that things just pop into existence from nothing.

It seems far less a leap to assume eternally existing physical processes – physical reality is something we have experience of – than to accept the existence of eternally existing supernatural beings that are nowhere to be seen in observable reality. And we have seen this type of reasoning so often in human history.
quote:
Once you grant the possibility of a Being who can create a Universe and design life, all of these supposedly ridiculous things you mention become trivial.

Sorry, but that is just another example of circular reasoning. (I do harp on this fallacy of circular reasoning, but it’s the central weakness of all religious argument.) You’ve arbitrarily decided that god is the most plausible explanation for the existence of the universe and then you justify all the illogical and fanciful things in the Bible by appealing to the very god whose existence is being debated.

It's a perfectly closed system, immune from any challenge. All religious knowledge is at heart just this kind of self-referential circular reasoning: it's true because I deeply believe it, I believe it because it's self-evidently true. (What does it say about humans that we think this way?) It’s a hermetically sealed logical bubble. If you buy into the narrative, it all makes sense, otherwise you feel as if you've followed Alice down the rabbit hole.


RE: What!?
By PaterPelligrino on 2/9/2011 1:52:35 PM , Rating: 3
wgbutler

quote:
Well for one thing I have no problem with the concept of micro-evolution. I have a very hard time accepting Darwinism, however, as morphing a simple bacteria-like organism through billions of generations into a eventual human being requires a massive input of new information that blind, mechanistic processes just can't deliver. I object to Darwinism mostly because I don't see the scientific evidence backing it up, either what we do in the labs or what we see in the fossil record, with new species suddenly coming onto the scene with no biological precursors.

You have no problem with the idea of micro-evolution because it doesn't threaten biblical dogma, whereas macro-evolution does. Stop pretending otherwise. Even the Catholic Church draws no distinction between macro and micro evolution.

I read an article the other day about single-cell organisms that given the right environmental conditions form into co-operative colonies that function like proto-sponges. So there you have single-celled bacteria(?) to multicelled sponge. Mitochondria taking up residence in larger cells to supply energy to the host cell in a symbiotic relationship enabling larger multicellular organisms. There's an ancestral connection between land animals and whales, evidenced by residual ankle bones in modern whales. The evolution of horses from an earlier dog-like herbivore. Archeology has discovered the fossil remains of hominids that lie between Homo Sap and it's ape-like ancestor. Why no fossil record of Homo Sap prior to a couple hundred thousand years ago? The fossil evidence for the evolution of dinosaurs into modern birds is very convincing. With advances in DNA analysis, we’re seeing genetic evidence of the evolutionary relationship between distinct but related species.

The creationist will, of course, never find any of this convincing; but then it's only biblical literalists who sweepingly reject all evidence of macro-evolution out of blind allegiance to ancient myth. It hasn’t escaped anyone's attention that the only science biblical literalists reject is that which threatens a literal interpretation of the biblical narrative. Coincidence?

I’m reminded here of the observation that the scientific evidence for the evolution of species is so overwhelming that if the theory is incorrect, and the biblical account is true, then the only conclusion is that god is deliberately deceiving us.

You pounce on gaps in the evolutionary record to discredit it, yet positively embrace the ambiguities in the OT account - a day wasn’t really a day - to wave away it’s conflict with observable reality. You're a hyper-critical stickler for logic when demanding irrefutable proof from the materialist camp, yet bend over backwards to explain away contradictions in biblical mythology. Clearly it is only your pre-existing attachment to the biblical narrative that motivates your rejection of macro-evolution.


RE: What!?
By PaterPelligrino on 2/9/2011 3:26:44 PM , Rating: 3
wgbutler

quote:
Well I've changed my views on ideas that I was emotionally beholden to before and I'm sure I'll do it again. I have yet to see an atheist make a good case for atheism. Most of the time atheists defend their point of view by attacking other ideas. Sometimes they have a point but it still doesn't make the case for atheism.


About this attack thing: the problem is that gods are always defined in such a way - and this holds true for any supernatural being, god or not - that they are forever beyond the reach of logic. When faced with counter-argument the theist will always say "well it's more convincing to me that ----" or "given the existence of god, it makes perfectly good sense when the Bible says that …”

Therefore, arguing facts is pointless. Believers and non-believers don't even share a common definition of the word "know" - the devout believer often claims knowledge of something that he cannot possibly know - at least, not as I understand the term.

The true believer will never change his mind no matter what he experiences, no matter what he is told he will never seriously entertain the idea that his preferred deity doesn't exist. It’s the ultimate brand loyalty. That is because his need-driven beliefs precede and determine what he knows, and since those beliefs cannot be falsified, his faith is safely sheltered from all doubt. It's a perfectly closed system, immune from any challenge.

Because one can never disprove the existence of any supernatural being, the only way to get the attention of theists, to understand the curious persistence of belief in supernatural beings, is to examine why people believe what they believe, to take an objective look at the human animal, to approach religious belief as a psychological phenomenon. Why do people willingly leap from strict agnosticism to uncritically embracing all the frankly absurd detail of the OT or the Bhagavad Gita or the Tibetan Book of the Dead?

If I had the slightest bit of proof there was a god, I would instantly convert - it would be irrational to do otherwise. But I just don't see it. Instead, I look at human history and see that there is nothing, no matter how absurd, that some group of people, somewhere, at some time, hasn't believed with unshakable certainty. Clearly strength of belief is no guarantee of truth. It is universally acknowledged - about others at least - that people are prone to deceive themselves, to uncritically accept what confirms their cherished beliefs and filter out anything that threatens their pet theories. That is the human animal, Homo Sap in all his bug-eyed, raving glory. Why should the Christian be the only exception?

We encounter people every day who claim to know bizarre things, whether it's the conspiracy theory of the month, or just the lone nutter who thinks his dog told him to kill his neighbor. If those beliefs are benign we laugh them off as eccentrics; not benign, we lock them up. But for some reason, when those beliefs involve a supernatural deity, when the object of delusion is dignified with the term 'god', suddenly we're supposed to respect those no less odd beliefs.

Every human society throughout recorded history has had its gods, ghosts and leprechauns. There has been very convincing work done on the evolutionary origins of religious belief – pointing out that shared religious values strengthened the chances of survival. Again, the human mind is not a tool designed to discover ultimate truth; shaped by the same forces that determined all aspects of our nature, human intelligence is what it is because it enhanced our chances of survival. 9 times out of 10, the rustle behind a bush was just wind, but the individual who always ran away thinking it was a tiger survived to pass on his genes when it really was a tiger. We see things that aren't there, bogymen under the bed or in the closet. More sophisticated societies created more sophisticated belief systems, but underlying all these gods is the psychological compulsion to attribute the unknown to some transcendent being, to people the dark with ghosts and goblins.

When faced with the unknown, we make up myths and stories to give life sense, to make life meaningful on a human level, and soothe away our fears of death. Different societies, having different needs and traditions, have different gods. The proliferation of all these mutually-contradictory supernatural beings - sprite and elves and demiurges - throughout all of human history tells me that rather than god creating man, it is man who created the gods. Even you must admit that man invented all but one of those gods. What about all those pre-OT deities – where those just starter religions, religious trainer-wheels for the revealed truth to come?

Christianity is just a more sophisticated version of more primitive belief systems. However laudable the Christian moral system, its metaphysics is no more credible than that of Buddhism. Saudis are Muslims, Indians are mostly Hindus, Tibetans are Buddhists, Europeans predominantly Christian. It is history and tradition and geography that determine what god(s) people believe in, not divine revelation, not opening one's soul to Allah or Shiva or Buddha.

Recognizing the frailty of human reasoning, the main concern of western philosophy has always been epistemology: the study of what is knowable, how do we know things, what constitutes reliable knowledge. The scientific method is a product of this quest for verifiable truth and has produced remarkable things, contributed more to liberating us from the merciless dictates of nature and disease than any other human endeavor. Science produces useful knowledge, religion provides a comforting narrative. The real universe of polio and hookworm doesn’t give a damn about our psychological needs.

Your position is logically defensible only up to the point where you claim that it cannot be definitively ruled out that some intelligent being was involved in the birth of this universe, everything you say beyond that point is mere wishful thinking.


RE: What!?
By Celestion on 2/5/11, Rating: 0
About chronologies
By Dtprodromos on 2/6/2011 6:50:16 AM , Rating: 2
It is proven that the universe is not 6000 years old.It may not be proven that it is 13.5 billion years old but it's the best estimate we have right now.
It is also proven that homo sapiens is not 4000 years old, our species is at least 50000 and maybe 150000 years old and the latter is the best estimate we have currently.
True science does not pretend to know the absolute truth, it searches in humility and tries to always be as accurate as possible.

On the other hand, believers of the major world religions, true believers(I don't include charlatans that use religion for their own profit)claim they know or participate in the absolute truth as a revelation of their God.The same people say that you should not read their religious texts(related to cosmogenesis) literally but symbolically. This may in the end be proven to be true, but it is not acceptable.

The notion that the biblical story of creation should be read like some kind of parable is a result of the scientific discoveries of the last centuries. No religious father made such claims before science proves that the religious chronologies are erroneous. Everyone believed that the biblical account was literally true.

The parables of Christ were parables from the very beginning. The idea that the biblical creation should be read like a parable was born when religious people didn't want to admit they don't actually know the absolute divine truth.

Is this discrepancy so serious for us to reject Christianity,Judaism,Hinduism,Islam in general? I don't think so, because they actually say a lot of useful things
related to our code of conduct to others, no matter how they justify this code.In addition, no one really proved or disproved the divine or the metaphysical world, but to insist on maintaining such beliefs because it makes us happy or soothes the fear of the unknown, is just absurd.

It is just as absurd as categorizing people to Christians, Muslims,Jews,atheists,creationists or evolutionists. For a passion to be useful it should be directed towards constuctive goals. It is of no use being passionate about how right you are and how stupid the other person is.While boosting our ego is a pleasing job, it doesnt differ much from onanism.




RE: About chronologies
By rs2 on 2/6/2011 5:26:51 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Is this discrepancy so serious for us to reject Christianity,Judaism,Hinduism,Islam in general? I don't think so, because they actually say a lot of useful things
related to our code of conduct to others, no matter how they justify this code.


But there is where I disagree. You don't cling to an archaic world-view just because its enclosing philosophy says "a lot of useful things". The ends don't justify the means, particularly when most of those "useful things" are entirely capable of standing on their own. The threat of eternal damnation is not necessary in order to assert that it's wrong to murder, rape, and steal.

Would it be so terrible to distill the truly useful messages that religion has to offer and keep them separate from its core mythology? And would it be so terrible to also keep them separate from the less useful messages which encourage people to hate, distrust, segregate, and even kill members of other religions for committing that heinous crime of disbelief? I think not.


RE: About chronologies
By Spivonious on 2/6/2011 11:06:22 PM , Rating: 2
You should read "Why Religion Matters" by Huston Smith. It might change your opinion. At the least it will give you some food for thought.


"For those who don't have a map handy..."
By Queonda on 2/3/2011 7:24:42 PM , Rating: 2
Would have been easier just to put up a map of Jordan




By jkostans on 2/4/2011 12:41:31 PM , Rating: 2
Graaaaaave Diigger is doing it......in the air!


Grandma
By Zingam on 2/7/2011 11:01:03 AM , Rating: 2
Grandma, Grandma, why have you died? ;(




What about the headstones?
By gstrickler on 2/9/2011 11:22:30 PM , Rating: 2
What dates were written on them?

;)




The Bible...LOL!
By Dean364 on 2/3/11, Rating: -1
Radiometric Carbon dating is flawed
By pwnsweet on 2/3/11, Rating: -1
RE: Radiometric Carbon dating is flawed
By WheelsCSM on 2/3/2011 7:27:08 PM , Rating: 4
From link referenced above:
quote:
When a scientist’s interpretation of data does not match the clear meaning of the text in the Bible, we should never reinterpret the Bible.

That's when I stopped trying to read it with an open mind. I like this part too:
quote:
God knows just what He meant to say, and His understanding of science is infallible, whereas ours is fallible. So we should never think it necessary to modify His Word.

Of course they ignore the fact that the bible was written by man, and there are several places where it contradicts itself, including the order of creation in Genesis.

I was really looking forward to learning about how carbon dating is wrong too.


RE: Radiometric Carbon dating is flawed
By ereavis on 2/3/11, Rating: 0
By WheelsCSM on 2/3/2011 7:42:40 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed, I did go ahead and finish the article just to see what it said, but it's obvious the author has an agenda so I'm not going to belive what it says just on their world.

Interestingly enough, they don't dispute that the radioactive decay is known and constant. What they dispute is the assumption of how much radioactive material started in the specimen when it died. Supposedly the method is based on an (assumed) constant ratio of C-12 to C-14 thoughout history, which I'm willing to admit may or may not be the case.

I thought your analogy to global warming/cooling was perfect, as it was exactly the same as my thoughts as I read the article.


RE: Radiometric Carbon dating is flawed
By ereavis on 2/3/2011 7:48:12 PM , Rating: 2
I recant my attempt to use logic.. the link is filled with science yet you honed in on one religious assumption and ignored the rest.


By ereavis on 2/3/2011 7:58:45 PM , Rating: 1
Ok you did read it so good news. Sorry for the slight.

quote:
the author has an agenda
yes, but he points out so did the original theory had an agenda too. Truth be told everyone starts on a certain foundation so you can't avoid that. Take the mix of the carbon dating theory based on one agenda and the article based on the other agenda and compile your own thoughts based on your own unintended agenda. My personal belief takes this all with a grain of salt. Discovery channel viewers run with this phrase "we know." I think we're a little vain with that phrase.


By rs2 on 2/3/2011 8:24:41 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
I guess as an engineer I'd say it's when they try to date the lifespan of something we've never seen born or die like an atom.


Except that we have seen atoms die. It happens all the time; it's called radioactive decay. It is detectable, measurable, and pretty well understood. Apart from carbon dating the principle is also used in many other areas with a very high precision and reliability. The conceit that "we can't understand an object because we weren't there to observe its instantiation" is false. It's false in any programming language that supports reflection, and it's false in real-life, as well.

Furthermore, carbon dating can only be effectively attacked in a vacuum; but carbon dating does not exist in a vacuum. We have other techniques which we can use to estimate long spans of time. Both locally, from looking at ice-core samples to geological sedimentation and erosion rates to counting the rings on really old trees, and universally, from measuring the distance of stars and galaxies and computing the amount of time it took their EM radiation to reach us. And when all of these methods give results that are consistent with what carbon dating tells us, it gives us a pretty good indication that carbon dating is in fact a valid technique.

Of course, there is a margin of uncertainty with any approach that attempts to infer a date from circumstantial evidence, but that margin of uncertainty is nowhere near large enough to make the Biblical timescale plausible. And if you cannot or will not see that, then you are a fool.


RE: Radiometric Carbon dating is flawed
By zozzlhandler on 2/3/2011 8:05:59 PM , Rating: 2
The different order of creation in two parts of Genesis is because a different history is being related. First is the history of creation (with species listed in the same order as evolutionary theory!). Second is the story of man becoming a spiritual being.

Of course, the zealots on both sides will devour me for saying this.


RE: Radiometric Carbon dating is flawed
By Lanister on 2/3/2011 10:31:27 PM , Rating: 2
Just some interesting reading,

http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/


RE: Radiometric Carbon dating is flawed
By ThePooBurner on 2/4/2011 2:37:01 AM , Rating: 2
Yes, lets try and prove God doesn't exist when He refuses to show us a sign. Since, you know, He loves showing people signs so much.

Besides, miracles of healing are not shown off the way that TV "preachers" would make you think. They never have been. They are a personal gift given to those who have the faith to receive them. And those who have the faith to receive them won't go about flaunting them, but will simply humbly give thanks to God and move on, testifying when moved to by the Spirit. Those who make a giant fuss about it are generally liars. I could get into the "why" of why it operates this way, but i don't think that many here would care for a discourse on Faith and it's role in our lives.

Suffice it to say that the website above is basically using the same logic as trying to convince people that salt doesn't actually exist because they have never tasted it, and the descriptions of how salt tastes from those that have had it don't make sense to them. (in a a circumstance where you only get salt for your food if you believe it exists).


RE: Radiometric Carbon dating is flawed
By snakeInTheGrass on 2/4/2011 9:50:02 AM , Rating: 3
The good news is that if I say salt doesn't exist, someone can bring out salt and let me or others try it - the basis of science/fact is that you're free to go replicate the results if you don't believe them - and maybe you can even disprove it. Or maybe you discover something else in the process.

Every religion works on saying that salt will only exist if you can believe in salt hard enough - at which point it's pretty logical to call bullsh*t. No, really, He told me it's all bull - and there's no way for you to disprove, therefore it's true! Q.E.D.


RE: Radiometric Carbon dating is flawed
By wgbutler on 2/4/11, Rating: -1
RE: Radiometric Carbon dating is flawed
By Iaiken on 2/4/2011 1:26:21 PM , Rating: 2
The existence of god and the assumption that god is good is logical fallacy.

God is good... because he told us so and that by extension his word is good because he is good because he told us so. We should follow the words he told the prophets because they are good because he is good because he told us so.

It's circular logic and because nobody can disprove the existence of god, you can't prove he is either good, or bad, or that he ever said anything to anyone.

It's just as patently ridiculous as me arguing that God told me he doesn't exist.

Personally, I think that any god who requires my unfettering love and obedience under threat of eternal damnation is not worth my love in the first place. It's the "or else" part of the love-god-clause that reeks of humanities failings and indicates that it is simply a fabrication. It reminds me of mob tactics. "That's an awfully nice soul you've got there. It'd be a shame if something bad were to happen to it. If you pay me some "protection love", I can make sure that doesn't come to that."


RE: Radiometric Carbon dating is flawed
By wgbutler on 2/4/11, Rating: -1
By pwnsweet on 2/4/2011 8:24:50 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
As for those who reject him, I believe that it is eternal destruction that awaits them, and not eternal torment.


You're a SDA. Kudos.


RE: Radiometric Carbon dating is flawed
By Lanister on 2/4/2011 1:27:40 PM , Rating: 2
I would love to hear the evidence you have that God exists. I admit that a possibility does exist that there is a God that created everything. What I have seen no evidence of is that he/she/it is some all knowing, all loving being that cares about the human race. I believe if there is a god its more along the lines of a human being vs ants. But please provide your evidence, it would be comforting to know that their is some greater being that is watching over us and cares.


RE: Radiometric Carbon dating is flawed
By wgbutler on 2/4/11, Rating: -1
RE: Radiometric Carbon dating is flawed
By ThePooBurner on 2/4/2011 5:46:00 PM , Rating: 2
A book about Christ that i like is Jesus The Christ by James Talmage.


By Ghost42 on 2/4/2011 9:58:37 PM , Rating: 2
I like the book called, Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore.

About the closest thing to a religious theme book that you'd get me near. Books like the bible I view as something like a moral guideline that should be restricted to those who can handle reading it with an open mind... Because you can't restrict it.. I have no use for religion.. You can thank the Zealots and Fanatics for that.


RE: Radiometric Carbon dating is flawed
By Suntan on 2/4/2011 10:04:17 AM , Rating: 2
If you’re looking for a sign from God, you probably need to spend some time toasting a lot of bread.

Eventually, He will appear to you.

-Suntan


By chagrinnin on 2/4/2011 11:19:03 AM , Rating: 3
To see Jesus or his Mom,...use tortillas. :p


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