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What’s So Bad About Religion?

23 Jan

I’ve been debating with myself for several days about whether I should write this post. Since some other bloggers have dealt with this question quite effectively recently, I haven’t felt that I would have anything useful to add to the conversation. I changed my mind when I read Brian’s recent heart wrenching post. For the religious folks who wonder why nonbelievers care at all about religion and why we can’t we just respect believers’ beliefs and leave them alone, I offer the following thoughts.

The first problem that I have with religious beliefs is that, as Greta Christina pointed out recently, acting on the basis of false beliefs can lead to ill-conceived, even harmful, behavior and decisions. Take, for example, cases of snake handlers who die from snakebites, or Jehovah’s Witnesses who die for want of blood transfusions – both of which have occurred in the USA within the past several months. One may argue that such beliefs are misunderstandings of scriptural injunctions, but to so argue merely cedes my point. Yes, I agree, such beliefs are misunderstandings, but those misunderstandings are founded upon what believers have read in scriptures and they are founded upon traditions that have been passed down to successive generations for millennia. Quite simply, the misunderstood scriptures would not be taken so seriously, and the errant teachings that have been transmitted through the ages would not exist, were it not for the religious contexts that gave birth to them and continue to nourish them.

Consider the subject of Brian’s post that I alluded to in the opening paragraph of this post. In this case, a man who was suffering from mental illness heard the voice of god telling him to slaughter his family. He responded by killing his teen aged daughter. Fortunately, his wife was not home at the time of the murder so she was spared. Prior to that event, the man had told members of his church that he was haunted by demons, was hearing voices and so on. The church people believed that the man was extraordinarily blessed to have such experiences! The tragedies of this man’s delusional beliefs and his resultant behaviors are highlighted by the inconceivable (to me) failure of the man’s religious community to distinguish between mental illness and the leading of god’s holy spirit! Remove the shroud of religious superstition from the community’s thought processes and the man’s derangement would have been clearly evident.

I can already hear several of the faithful protesting that I’m painting all believers with the same broad, tainted brush. Most believers are not deranged, most believers do not handle poisonous snakes as part of their worship rituals, and only a few believers eschew modern medicine…. All of that is true, but it doesn’t change the underlying fact that theistic belief in any form is mistaken. Even if those mistaken beliefs don’t cause believers to make such egregious errors in judgment as those noted above, they can lead to other errors, such as susceptibility to swindling televangelists, or refusal to believe that one’s pastor is molesting Sunday school children, or the notion that abstinence-only sex education is sufficient, or the conviction that gays are evil…. Even though the vast majority of believers apply rational thought processes in most areas of their lives, there is a corner of their minds, especially for religious conservatives, in which they refuse to shine the light of reason. Every scrap of information they process is run through religious filters. If it does not threaten to undermine the religious scaffold around which they’ve built their lives, then normal reasoning processes can be applied safely. If a bit of information contradicts the scaffold, then it must be rejected. Religious liberals, on the other hand, frequently bend the scaffold so that it will accommodate new information. Whatever process one applies, the fact remains that there are points at which reason and religion conflict. How one handles those conflicts determines the extent to which religious belief is harmful. Sometimes the harm is confined to believers. Other times, however, that harm spills over and affects others, believers and nonbelievers alike. This brings me to my second problem with religious belief.

The second problem I have with religious belief is that believers do not live in vacuums. Their religious beliefs are not always private and those beliefs do affect others, including me, in numerous ways. Billy wrote a great post about this recently. To cite one example, when creationists and Intelligent Design proponents advocate for the inclusion of their non-scientific theories in school science curricula, in addition to hurting their own children, they threaten to undermine my children’s education, they threaten to undermine American progress in scientific and medical research and they threaten to dilute the American education system and thereby weaken our nation’s economy. In short, when they bring their religious beliefs into the public square and seek to impose those beliefs on others, they threaten our livelihoods and our well-being. Another example: when a fundamentalist presidential candidate advocates amending the Constitution so that it conforms to an ancient book of fables, he threatens my liberty of conscience. Cases like these and countless others lead me to conclude that the only way I can adopt a philosophy of “live and let live” is if religious believers will pledge to do the same. The moment they open their church doors and let their ideas drip all over the pavement is the moment they invite me, regardless of whether they intend to do so, to examine those ideas. This leads to my third problem with religious belief.

The third problem I have with religious beliefs is the persistent entreaty that I respect religious beliefs simply because they are religious. My response to this demand is that I’ll extend to religious beliefs the same degree of respect that I extend to astrology or phrenology or alchemy and not a speck more or less than that. Nevertheless, I will always strive to respect believers, regardless of what I think about their beliefs. If believers want their beliefs to be considered as plausible foundations of social, economic, international, educational, or any other public policies, then I will critique those beliefs just as scrupulously as I would critique the beliefs of a Marxist, a Maoist, or a monarchist. Religious beliefs are simply one class of ideas among many that have the potential to do real damage to individuals, societies and nations (though it seems self-evident to me that false beliefs will seldom pass muster as suitable foundations for good policy decisions). All ideas, religious and otherwise, should be scrutinized ruthlessly before one renders judgments regarding their soundness. Religious ideas are no more special than any others, they are simply more widespread and more deeply ingrained than most.

Setting aside, momentarily, the fact that religious beliefs are detrimental to believers and nonbelievers alike, it is true that all of us hold many values, interests and aspirations in common. These are bases upon which we can all agree to work together for our common good. If we can agree to do so, then maybe one day I’ll be able to revise my view of religion and concede that, perhaps, it is good for some people, though certainly not for all. Until that happens, however, I will continue to maintain that, given current conditions, religion’s bad effects far outweigh its good ones.

– the chaplain

 
139 Comments

Posted by on January 23, 2008 in atheism, humanism, politics, rationalism, religion

 

139 responses to “What’s So Bad About Religion?

  1. Jaimi

    January 23, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    Brilliant post.

     
  2. Greta Christina

    January 23, 2008 at 6:54 pm

    Damn.

    Just… damn.

    I am in awe. Thank you.

     
  3. Sarge

    January 23, 2008 at 7:03 pm

    Brilliant!

    I try to take the Jeffersonian tack, I don’t care if my neighbor believes in no gods, one god, or twenty as long as it neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.

    Problem with people who have castles in the air is that they always want you to help with the rent and repairs with real money.

    Not long ago I heard a guest minister at a church I was playing at opine that what would do religion the most good would be a repeat of the St. Bartholomew’s Day activities as celebrated in France in the 1600’s. Very benevolent, this christianity.

     
  4. Brian

    January 23, 2008 at 8:00 pm

    Looking back on it now I just shake my head and wonder how I didn’t see it at the time. My whole worldview was structured to make that type of behaviour seem normal.

    As Sacred Slut pointed out in the comments on my post, if these were still Old Testament times, how would we know that god didn’t tell Blair to kill his family? It wouldn’t be any worse than a lot of his other commands.

     
  5. PhillyChief

    January 23, 2008 at 8:40 pm

    Fabulous post.

    As I said at Brian’s blog, once you allow yourself to think there’s anything other than the reality based community, anything is possible. That doesn’t mean you’ll kill your child, but certainly if someone starts talking crazy they’ll get the help they need which could help all of us if that crazy talk could lead to violence.

    As to respect, I will not respect religious beliefs. I can respect a person, but not the belief. I can distinguish between the two, even if the person in question can’t distinguish themselves from their beliefs.

    Screw OT times, if he was in Nigeria he’d be just another farmer, wouldn’t he? She was probably a witch. I mean, why else would god tell him to kill her then?

     
  6. John P

    January 23, 2008 at 9:26 pm

    Chaps

    I’ve read these sentiments before, in multiple and various places, but I don’t think I’ve seen them all put together so well, so cohesively, so forcefully, so logically. Absolute must reading for any theist.

    Perhaps we should consider that the authors of the Bible were themselves mentally ill. Religion, 3000 years ago, was just a way to understand and explain those disassociations from reality caused by mental illness without our present understanding of the workings of the brain. It may have started out as a means to explain natural mysteries, like lightning or drought, but once the priests got involved, and saw the advantages of exploiting the gullible, it was the mentally ill who’s oddball reality became canonized. How else to explain god setting a bear to kill children for making fun of a man’s baldness, or killing whole populations except the virgins girls, who should be saved for gang rape? Those types of stories can only come from a scrambled brain.

     
  7. natzgal

    January 23, 2008 at 9:36 pm

    Hi! I am new to your blog and just want to say what an AWESOME post this is. Thank you for so eloquently detailing my issues with religion. And, I have added you to my reader list :-)

     
  8. The Exterminator

    January 23, 2008 at 10:29 pm

    Chappy:

    Nice summation for the prosecution.

    I think your third point needs further amplification, though. Given that religious beliefs are not worthy of respect merely because they’re religious, then how do we express our disrespect for them within the context of public discourse?

    How, for instance, should those of us who do not respect religious beliefs react when all our presidential candidates spout pablum about faith and prayer and god? How should those of us in the electorate who think those concepts are bullshit express our disapproval? Shall we disrespect ourselves by tacitly showing respect to unrespectable nonsense? Shall we compound the unwarranted veneration that religion already has in American society? Or shall we challenge that garbage. Surely, given your first two points, we’ll want to do everything possible before the harmful effects of religion get a further toehold into our national ethos AND our legal system. If so, what should we do, and when, and where, and how?

    This is a trap question, chappy. Your words in this post are quite eloquent, but I’m asking how you’d put them into practice.

     
  9. Efrique

    January 23, 2008 at 10:53 pm

    Thank you.

     
  10. athinkingman

    January 24, 2008 at 2:50 am

    A very well-argued posting. Thanks for summarizing the case so clearly.

    It is easy to see from history how religion has got it wrong about science – astronomy in C16th, biology in C19th, and I suspect psychology and sexuality in C20th & C21st. I keep coming back to a wonderful phrase by Christopher Brookmyre who said that religion just “clogs up cognitive evolution”. In a sense it is impeding the progress of the whole of humanity.

     
  11. Sarge

    January 24, 2008 at 7:27 am

    I often wonder at the mechanisms which move religion and belief, and how it gets complex when it’s tied up with personalies.

    We all remember the Heaven’s Gate group that took off for the mother ship in such a singular fashion, and other things. For most that was the first they’d heard of such a group.

    I heard Marshal Applewhite in the late 1970’s, I was stationed in Germany and for some reason he appeared very briefly on the public radar. What called attention to him I can’t remember, but there was less than an inch in the Stars & Stripes.

    I remember one of our warrent officers got a very odd look on his face and said, “That guy…”

    He told us that he had been in college and Applewhite had given some sort of seminar which he attended. This officer said that he sat through this, and it was the silliest, most incoherent, absurd thing he’d ever heard come out of anyone’s mouth, even since he’d been in the army.

    But he wanted to stay, to hear more, to even go with this man, and he didn’t know why. He said he literally had to force himself to get up and leave and wondered for days if he had done the right thing even though he rationally knew he had. He said he wasn’t alone in this.

    I wonder what that X factor really was? I didn’t know this man back when this happened, but I knew him to be a very rational, show-me, self confident person. The encounter had really frightened him.

     
  12. PhillyChief

    January 24, 2008 at 8:43 am

    I think charisma goes a long way, but certainly success speaks volumes. If someone is successful, you’ll be more inclined to listen to whatever crazy shit they’ll say and sadly too, more inclined to take their advice. Ok, not you the one reading this probably, but the majority of people who aren’t so skeptical. Anyway, this is how shit like Scientology gets along, with celebrity members.

     
  13. Billy

    January 24, 2008 at 9:04 am

    Wonderful post. I would, for myself, add one more (and if it is already included, and I just missed it while reading, I humbly apologize):

    Religion abrogates personal responsibility. In the medical cases cited above (and another regarding a child with apendicitis) the parents have absolved themselves of responsibility for abuse. If my son broke his leg (he did, playing tetherball (no, not kidding)), and I refused to take him to see a doctor (I did take him to the ER) because, though I knew he was injured, I didn’t think doctors could or should help, I would be open for prosecution under state child abuse laws. But if I am a member of the right church, no prosecution.

    My point is that if a religious (or political) ideology says that something is not just acceptable but recommended or mandatory, the individuals personal conscience is removed from the equation and a mob mentality is substituted. Would an individual burn his neighbor’s house, with the neighbor inside, in normal circumstances? What if god says its okay (Germany, mid-11th century) and all your like-minded friends are doing the same thing?

    This is not to say that mob mentality does not exist separate from the religious experience — it does. But the group-think authoritarianism of organized religion pulls subsumes personal feelings and conscience and brings damaging behaviour by an individual or group closer to the realm of the possible.

     
  14. Lifeguard

    January 24, 2008 at 9:09 am

    Chappy, you have truly outdone yourself. One of the best posts I’ve read in a while. Clearly reasoned, eloquent, and right on the money. I don’t see how anyone other than the most close-minded fundamentalist in the world could fault your argument. Could they muster together a defense? Maybe. But the beautiful thing about this post is that every point DEMANDS a serious answer and cannot be dismissed or ignored.

    Sarge wrote: “Problem with people who have castles in the air is that they always want you to help with the rent and repairs with real money.”

    Not only that… they want you to freaking move in with them!!

     
  15. Carol

    January 24, 2008 at 10:29 am

    You guys are way off track. Try taking a good course in analytic philosophy and then try posting again.

     
  16. Billy

    January 24, 2008 at 10:41 am

    Carol: Can you give specifics?

     
  17. The Exterminator

    January 24, 2008 at 1:42 pm

    Carol: It may be that on the blogs where you usually hang out, unsupported flaming like your comment is considered smart. Here, though, you really do need to back up what you said, at least a little bit.

    So: Which guys are you addressing? How are they “way off track,” and what might put them back on? Can you explain what the difference is between “analytic philosophy” and just plain old “philosophy”? If you can, do you have a “good course” to recommend?

     
  18. Spanish Inquisitor

    January 24, 2008 at 3:57 pm

    Good money says Carol won’t be back, and if he/she does, it will be without anything of substance.

     
  19. plonkee @ the religious atheist

    January 24, 2008 at 3:58 pm

    I’m going to join in with the near unanimous praise here.

    I’ve never got the whole *religion in a special box* thing. If it’s true it should stand up to reason and the facts. End of story.

     
  20. Wildwing

    January 24, 2008 at 5:11 pm

    Awesome post. You said it for me.

     
  21. CL

    January 24, 2008 at 5:27 pm

    From one writer to another may I say I dig your style and approach, and that the truths contained in this post are of the utmost importance to the advancement of humanity.

    However, this is my first visit to your blog, and while I find most of this post to be in accord with logic, science and reason, it is not without due travesty.

    I agree wholeheartedly with Carol in post #15, who says, “You guys are way off track. Try taking a good course in analytic philosophy and then try posting again.”

    I would also recommend more objective study in science as well, particularly biology, chemistry, paleontology, and physics.

    I cannot give you a BRIEF (as in under 2-hour’s worth of thought) response to my charges, but will happily provide two brief examples that support Carol’s:

    Chap states it is an “underlying fact that theistic belief in any form is mistaken.” This is not a fact; it’s Chap’s opinion and completely subjective.

    Chap also states “religious beliefs are detrimental to believers and nonbelievers alike…” Which religious beliefs? All of them? Some of them? Just those that don’t conform to yours or mine? Or only the ones that tell us to get naked and wait for the spaceships?? You don’t clarify. You don’t define. You don’t articulate. You make blanket statements.

    The correct statement is, “FALSE beliefs are detrimental to HUMANITY,” (*notice the omission of the believer/nonbeliever dichotomy, as we all share carbon-based bodies headed inexorably towards entropic demise) and this is true whether the false belief emanates from religion, science, philosophy, metaphysics or gangster rap for crying out loud.

    We each act on false beliefs and worldviews that are not supported by science every day, each and every one of us, myself, yourself and the reader included.

    Touting opinions as facts and making broad, all-inclusive statements is neither reason nor science, and does not bring even a modicum of the synthesis this debate so badly needs if humanity is to survive.

    And to think I really wanted to just mouse-click outta here and leave it well alone, but I was disappointed at the comments from (minus Carol) ostensibly freethinking supporters, none of which seemed to be bothered by these travesties.

    Are we to assume this means that they, too, need more objective study in analytic philosophy and science?

    Only the thread will tell.

     
  22. PMP

    January 24, 2008 at 5:35 pm

    Very well put. Awesome. Outstanding.

    Thanks to Greta Christina’s post for sending me here.

     
  23. Cyn

    January 24, 2008 at 5:47 pm

    excellent post!
    looks like i’ve found another fine read. grabbed your feed. thanx.

     
  24. the chaplain

    January 24, 2008 at 7:04 pm

    CL:
    Thanks for filling in the blanks that Carol left. I’ll just respond briefly to a couple of points.

    First, you and Carol both assume that my background in analytic philosophy is faulty. My philosophical background is quite sound, thank you, but it may be the case that I did not put my best foot forward in this post. I’ll keep that in mind the next time around.

    Second, you said, “I would also recommend more objective study in science as well, particularly biology, chemistry, paleontology, and physics.” Could you please explain what principles or findings in any of those fields have any bearing on the claims made in this post?

    Third, my contention that theistic belief is false is not merely subjective opinion. Theistic conceptions of god as they are currently articulated are incoherent and logically impossible. That is objective fact, not subjective opinion. Now, if you want to discuss deism, that’s a whole different realm of possibilities. A deistic deity is not logically impossible and is also more probable than any of the theistic conceptions that have been proposed. Moreover, the probability that a creative entity exists is not equal to the probability that such a being does not exist, it’s not a 50/50, either/or proposition. Therefore, my assertion that a god does not exist is more likely to be correct than the opposite claim. Consequently, given that a) all knowledge claims are probabilistic and provisional, b) the probabilities favor my claim, and c) the theistic claims make no sense, my assertion is more objective than you presume to be the case.

    Fourth, your claim that I should have said that “false beliefs are detrimental to humanity” is your stylistic preference, not a grammatical or linguistic or logical correction. There is nothing wrong with my statement as I wrote it other than the fact that you don’t like it. I specifically wanted to emphasize the believer/nonbeliever dichotomy. It’s my post, my choice, my style. Since both of our statements are logically equivalent, neither is more correct than the other.

    Finally, you take me to task for saying that religious beliefs are detrimental, stating, “You don’t clarify. You don’t define. You don’t articulate. You make blanket statements.” I’ll concede that I could have stated clearly that theistic beliefs are detrimental and left non-theistic religions out of the mix. However, in the context of the entire piece, by the time the reader reached that point he or she should have understood quite clearly the sorts of theistic beliefs I had in mind. After all, I spent the whole post spelling out several of them.

    Bear in mind that this is a blog, a personal one at that, not a graduate research seminar. Therefore, in the interests of not lulling readers to sleep with hair-splitting minutia, I will generally assume a less rigorous stance than I would in a professional forum. Having said that, in the future, I will keep in mind that it may be appropriate at times to be more rigorous than I was in this post.

     
  25. CL

    January 24, 2008 at 7:18 pm

    Sure, thanks and nice to meet you.

    I would be more than happy to “…explain what principles or findings in any of those fields (biology, chemistry, paleontology, and physics) have any bearing on the claims made in this post.”

    In the meantime, may I warmly invite you to support (with findings from either biology, chemistry, paleontology, and physics) your statement that “Theistic conceptions of god as they are currently articulated are incoherent and logically impossible.” It does seem to be unsupported as relayed in your response to my comment.

    If you are confident you have sufficiently addressed this in a previous or subsequent entry please point me in the right direction.

    If we’re going to discourse let’s be professional and begin on the same page :)

     
  26. CL

    January 24, 2008 at 7:21 pm

    ADDENDUM:

    I am also interested in hearing your philosophical support for your statement that “Theistic conceptions of god as they are currently articulated are incoherent and logically impossible.”

    That way we need not limit the conversation unnecessarily to the hard sciences.

     
  27. the chaplain

    January 24, 2008 at 7:27 pm

    CL:

    I’m sorry but this request, “In the meantime, may I warmly invite you to support (with findings from either biology, chemistry, paleontology, and physics) your statement that “Theistic conceptions of god as they are currently articulated are incoherent and logically impossible.” It does seem to be unsupported as relayed in your response to my comment,” makes no sense to me.

    My statement about the incoherence and logical impossibility of theism is not based upon biology, chemistry, or any other hard science. It is based on theology, philosophy and logic. Why should I look to the hard sciences to support a claim based in the humanities?

     
  28. CL

    January 24, 2008 at 7:47 pm

    @ Chaplain:

    I know, you are correct indeed. I realized that about 3 seconds after sending post 26. That’s the reason for the ADDENDUM contained in post 27.

    So, to correct, I’m asking for reasoning from the humanities which supports your statement that “Theistic conceptions of god as they are currently articulated are incoherent and logically impossible.”

    In pursuit of clarity -

     
  29. Kagehi

    January 24, 2008 at 8:47 pm

    One would hardly need to do so, since its been gone over quite often why gods tend to be inconsistent, starting with the certain discussions on just how you define what good and evil are, or pious and impious, more specifically, in the works of, I think it was Plato.. But, to be succinct, one need to have logical consistency within the theology and descriptions of the gods themselves, and there generally isn’t any. In fact, often the descriptions given in one case will contradict another, to such an extent that any such described entity cannot a) be called good, as supposedly described, and/or b) be sane, by the standard of mankind. And if your god isn’t sane from *your* perspective, its damn hard to act sane according it *its* perspective.

    As for hard sciences, which you brought up the first pass, the problem isn’t that some obscure form of god isn’t possible, the problem is that the attributes given are either unprovable and unnecessary to explain anything in those sciences, or worse, contradictory. One cannot for example claim that God can poof things about, when no evidence exists that he ever did do such things, or, worse imho, that if he did any poofing, he spent millions of years rigging the natural world to poof it for him, so he didn’t have to actually do **anything** that would contradict natural laws, upset geologic or other physical systems in unexplainable ways, or otherwise do anything that **couldn’t** be better explained as some group of people claiming God made the volcano rain fire on Egypt, because a) they didn’t have a better explanation, and b) they where too far away from the volcano to *see* where all the rain of fire came from.

    Or, to put it more simply, noticing that a rope is about to break and drop a piano in the path of someone running away, after stealing a purse, and **pretending** to psychically make it drop on him isn’t a miracle. Arranging it so that it will happen that way might be, but its a damn stupid ability, since it only means you can “predict” that something would happen and what to do about it, not that you control *anything* other than rigging the rope. And worse, anyone examining the rope is bound to point out it was already breaking, and make your miracle, real or not, rather pointless and useless. Yet, oddly, no ones God’s *ever* seem to do anything that is *literally* impossible, or couldn’t be rigged by a good magician, with some reasonable idea what people are going to do, so they can plan the whole thing. Maybe that is why fake psychics, that rely entirely one statistical and innate senses of how people will react and what things are likely to happen, are so well privileged with respect and money, they are the same sort of con artists as the gods? lol

    Seriously though, those are just the “basic” logical inconsistencies. I am not a scientist, not an expert on the subject of what people claim gods are/do, and I am often rather bad at remembering sources to quote (as with the Plato thing, which might still be the wrong philosopher I was thinking of having written about the subject). I am sure others, including the blog owner can illustrate in far more detail why the very concept of the sort of active, miracle working, “he comes over to visit on Sundays to have a smoke”, type god is idiocy.

     
  30. the chaplain

    January 24, 2008 at 8:51 pm

    CL:
    Thanks for clarifying your question. I’ll offer just a few conceptions of God that are logically incoherent.

    First, the reformed, Calvinist tradition holds that god rules in complete sovereignty over his creation. In other words, he’s omnipotent. This premise leads to the conclusion that, by God’s decree, and on the basis of criteria known only to him, humankind is predestined for either salvation or damnation. This belief co-exists alongside of the notion that God is love and that he completely, graciously loves all individual humans. Why would a loving creator make creatures that he knows will be damned and are helpless to do anything to change their destinies? How can such cruel judgment be exercised by a loving god?

    The Wesleyan response to the Calvinist conundrum is that god is thoroughly loving and humankind is free to accept or reject his offer of salvation. The emphasis here is on omnibenevolence rather than omnipotence. But that raises a new dilemma. If humankind has free will, which includes the power to thwart god’s will, then god is not sovereign over his creation. Therefore, omnipotence is not compatible with omnibenevolence; they are contradictory, and therefore an incoherent, impossible combination of traits.

    Moreover, notwithstanding the difficulties within and across their traditions, Calvinists and Wesleyans alike try to have the best of all possible worlds by holding that God is, somehow, completely omnipotent, omnibenevolent and omniscient (a trait I’ll discuss next).

    Second, God is believed to be omnniscient. Does he know everything that will happen before it happens? If so, how does that comport with human free will? Omniscience is consistent with absolute sovereignty, but not with a thoroughly loving God (who would nevertheless allow humans to be born so that most them may be condemned for eternity). Does God only know all the possible outcomes but not which choices will be made? That is not omniscience, but it is compatible with free will. It seems that omniscience is compatible with omnipotence but incompatible with omnibenevolence.

    Third, God is also believed to be transcendent, i.e., set apart from, the universe and simultaneously immanent, i.e., involved with the goings on in the universe. How can one being be both completely separate from, yet thoroughly immersed in, to the point of living within individual believers’ souls, the universe? Again, these two traits are contradictory and cannot coexist coherently within one being.

    Okay, so far, we can see that there are serious difficulties reconciling, omnipotence (i.e., sovereignty), omnibenevolence and omniscience. We’ve also seen that transcendence and immanence are contradictory.

    Moving on, how does one reconcile the Christian doctrine of the trinity with monotheism? God is either three persons or one, but he cannot be both. 1 does not equal 3 and vice versa. Yet, most Christians claim to be both trinitarians and monotheists.

    Finally, how does one reconcile an omnibenevolent, omnipotent, omniscient deity with the existence of evil? Did God create evil? If so, then one can’t logically claim omnibenevolence. Is God unable to quell evil? If so, then one can’t claim omnipotence. Did God know in advance that evil would occur? If not, then he’s not omniscient. One could go on and on with examples like these. I’ll spare you and others, however, and stop here.

     
  31. Jeff Hebert

    January 24, 2008 at 9:31 pm

    Quite simply, the misunderstood scriptures would not be taken so seriously, and the errant teachings that have been transmitted through the ages would not exist, were it not for the religious contexts that gave birth to them and continue to nourish them.

    My concern with this kind of approach is that you seem to be saying “Since some religious beliefs are dangerous, and such beliefs can only exist because religion exists, then all religion is dangerous.” But this would be like saying that because some forms of government are horrible, and yet bad governments can only exist in a world where governments are tolerated, the concept of government should be abolished.

    To put it yet another way, it would be like saying that because some acts by the United States have been evil, and such acts can only take place in a world where the United States exists to nourish them, the United States should not exist.

    Disastrous consequences as a result of specific uses to which a social tool is turned do not necessarily mean that the tool itself is fundamentally flawed. Sometimes the tool is just put to really poor uses.

    If it matters, I’m an atheist, who believes that on balance religion has probably done more harm than good. But I don’t think the argument you’re laying out in that first section necessarily follows.

     
  32. the chaplain

    January 24, 2008 at 9:46 pm

    Jeff,
    Thanks for your comment. My objections apply primarily, if not exclusively, to theistic religions. With regard to non-theistic religions, I don’t know enough about them to evaluate them. Any objections I might raise would have to do with whether they are coercive, oppressive, dehumanizing, etc. In the interest of clarity, perhaps I should have used the term “theism” instead of religion throughout this piece. Oh well, Live, Write and Learn.

    I do object to currently prevailing theisms because they are rooted in false beliefs. Therefore, they are likely, more often than not, to lead to bad consequences.

     
  33. CL

    January 25, 2008 at 4:54 am

    @ Chaplain
    re: Comment #31

    Hi, Chap…back for a bit. Late night muse I suppose.

    Regarding your statements in Comment #31, I feel safe in saying your arguments are that: 1) Omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent and omnipresent conceptions of God are logically incoherent; 2) Omnipotence and omnibenevolence are contradictory; 3) Transcendence and immanence are contradictory; 4) “God is either three persons or one, but he cannot be both,” and 5) One cannot logically reconcile “an omnibenevolent, omnipotent, omniscient deity with the existence of evil.”

    On a hangover from our previous exchange, you also claim as “objective fact” that, 6) “Theistic conceptions of god as they are currently articulated are incoherent and logically impossible,” which relates to another claim you made in Comment #33 to Jeff Hebert, that 7) You “object to currently prevailing theisms because they are rooted in false beliefs.”

    If I have misinterpreted any of your arguments please correct me. I will do my best to politely respond to all points, although not necessarily in order, at the same time, or even in a timely manner. :)

    First, a partial response to Points 1, 2, and 6:

    A) You said, “…the reformed, Calvinist tradition holds that god rules in complete sovereignty over his creation. In other words, he’s omnipotent. This premise leads to the conclusion that, by God’s decree, and on the basis of criteria known only to him, humankind is predestined for either salvation or damnation.”

    While I realize you are paraphrasing the reformed Calvinist position, I do not think the conclusion “…humankind is predestined for either salvation or damnation” flows logically from (or even has anything to do with) the premise that “…god rules in complete sovereignty over his creation.” But I did understand where you were going with it, which was…

    B) “Why would a loving creator make creatures that he knows will be damned and are helpless to do anything to change their destinies? How can such cruel judgment be exercised by a loving god?” This is a great question loaded with presupposition and I promise to return to it later.

    In response to your paragraph beginning, “The Wesleyan response…”

    C) The Bible states explicitly that God’s will is for all to “…come to a knowledge of the truth and so be saved,” yet also states explicitly that although “many are called, few are chosen.” Thinking critically, if the Bible says God is omnipotent, and that God’s will is for all to be saved, and then clearly says that not all will be saved, has God’s will been thwarted? Or is the Bible just inconsistent with itself? From a logical standpoint, neither conclusion is correct, and other conclusions exist.

    In the context of an omnipotent God, which I believe we are discoursing under, you said, “If humankind has free will, which includes the power to thwart god’s will, then god is not sovereign over his creation.” This is logically incorrect for several reasons, but primarily because the moment you posit that an omnipotent being’s will can be thwarted by anything other than that omnipotent being’s own volition, you are no longer discussing an omnipotent being.

    Your statement is also logically incorrect because it omits at least one potential reality: that humankind could in fact possess free will, that God could in fact be omnipotently sovereign, and that God could in fact allow his, her or its will to be “thwarted” by his, her or its own volition.

    Tolerance is not synonymous with weakness or inability.

    If I may indulge in pertinent digress, this is all highly reminiscent of a particular Greek discourse which has so many logical holes its dairy-world counterpart is Swiss cheese.

    A presupposition occurs when we make an exclusive statement that depends on a questionable assumption as opposed to a genuine fact. Take the popular saying attributed to Greek philospher Epicurus (340 – 270 b.c.e.) as an example: “Either God wants to abolish evil, and cannot; or he can, but does not want to; or he cannot and does not want to.”

    This statement contains several logical errors in the form of presuppositions, chiefly, 1) that God wants to, has to, or should abolish evil RIGHT NOW; 2) that God is not actually in the process of abolishing evil right now; 3) that God may not temporarily tolerate evil for a greater purpose of which we humans may or may not be aware, and 4) that God may not in fact do things to offset the effects of human evil. Even a sideline philosopher like myself can see that Epicurus omits at least six other possibilities. Is that logic?

    Especially in matters of the utmost importance to society, highly talented and persuasive writers, a caste from which you most certainly originate, have a greater responsibility towards sound logic, objectivity and reason. Be sure to stay within context, avoid presupposition and be wary of the either-or fallacy, which manifests in many forms but always forces the observer to make a choice based on limited options. These fallacies appear in Epicurus’ arguments (excepting breach of context), and they appear in yours.

    In regards to your Points 1, 2, and 6 as spelled out at the top of this comment, I feel you have not successfully supported your claim that “omnipotence and omnibenevolence are contradictory,” or that “omnipotent and/or omnibenevolent conceptions of God are logically incoherent.”

    It is on these grounds that I find your preliminary arguments for the contradictory nature of God’s omnipotence and omnibenevolence to be in need of revision, and it is also on these grounds that I feel one cannot simultaneously defend logic while presenting as “objective fact” one’s own opinion that “theistic conceptions of god as they are currently articulated are impossible and logically incoherent.”

    In regards to my Point C, unfortunately you HAVE presented conceptions of God’s omnipotence that ARE logically incoherent.

    In pursuit of clarity…

     
  34. CL

    January 25, 2008 at 4:59 am

    @ Jeff Hebert
    re: comment #32

    I cannot thank you enough for your elucidation:

    “Disastrous consequences as a result of specific uses to which a social tool is turned do not necessarily mean that the tool itself is fundamentally flawed.”

     
  35. the chaplain

    January 25, 2008 at 10:06 am

    CL:
    Thanks for your close examination of my comment. Since I do not intend to devote huge chunks of my life to deconstructing theism (I have far better things to do with my time), I will note that numerous writers have examined and explained, far more eloquently than I, the inconsistencies in current theistic conceptions of God. Rather than rehashing their arguments, I’ll direct you to a handful of sources. These are basic, quick-and-dirty introductions to the issue, as I do not want to waste your time by directing you to lengthy journal articles, book chapters, debates, etc., all of which you can find for yourself if you’re interested in doing so.

    Andrew Moroz

    Contradictory Characteristics

    Contrary Religions

    Ted Drange

    If you are interested in following deeper, frequently heated, theological arguments, you may want to head over to Debunking Christianity.

    I’m guessing that you are committed to the position that some sort of theism is a coherent, reasonable position. I am familiar with an array of theistic propositions and I have simply found them unpersuasive. I do not intend to offend you, but you are not going to persuade me otherwise.

    I am convinced that current theistic propositions are wrong. I am open to the possibility that some sort of creative or alternative other-than-natural being(s) may exist. I have no reason to believe, however, that such a being a) has revealed itself to humankind and b) has any of the characteristics that humans have attributed to it, let alone all of them. My view, which is not merely subjective and unique to me, although it is based on probabilistic reasoning, is that current forms of theism have been constructed by human beings rather than revealed by God.

    I will close this comment by noting (although you already know this) that, if you hold that one of the current theisms is correct and all of the others are wrong, then you bear the burden of proof to demonstrate why your view is correct and theirs are not. Such demonstration would, of course, eliminate atheistic and agnostic positions as well.

     
  36. trinity

    January 25, 2008 at 1:06 pm

    CL.,

    sorry but im not as smart as most poeple here. it sounds like you might be the onely Christian writing and if you are im on you’re side. (im sorry if your athiest but then im not on you’re side. so forget i wrot this).

    how come you dont tell chaplin just to just read the Bible??? isnt every thing about God and Jesus RIGHT IN THE BIBLE????? i dont under stand why you make it so compelcated. its all right there in black and white. (my Bible is actualy red but you know what i mean, right)? Jesus Christ was our lord and savor who came to Earth and was born of Mary a virgo and was crossfied for are sins. right? thats not so hard is it? if you beleive that then what ELSE is their to say????

     
  37. Kagehi

    January 25, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    Actually, his arguments have one more problem that needing to be proved. They are what some call “goal post moving”. I.e., when ever you present arguments for why the belief in what god *is*, according to some group, or even arguably according to the people that wrote the book on the subject (figuratively or literally), one simply argues that, “Well, maybe there is some “other” (often, from our perspective, even more useless, untestable and impossible to conform to) configuration for a deity that can exist. The key issue being that the more you are forced to move the goal posts, the more *impossible* it becomes to follow what everything claims is that God’s intent, detect when we have gotten it wrong, or determine whose version of it makes sense.

     
  38. Lilja

    January 25, 2008 at 1:30 pm

    Good argument!
    Things are never simple and wheather you believe in religious or not, the respect for the religious is good. Just as respect for one’s opinion or belief is necessary to create a peaceful community.

     
  39. CL

    January 25, 2008 at 1:45 pm

    @ Chappy,

    I agree.

    I, too, have alot of other things I could do with my time, and I would never have typed even a single word on your comments had it not been for the mislabeling of an opinion as an “objective fact.”

    In spite of time constraints, I do think pointing out errors in logic, especially when they are presented as “objective fact,” ranks pretty high on the cosmic importance scale. At least for people who are concerned about the integrity of religio-scientific or philosophical debate, which I assume we both are.

    At any rate, you have still opted NOT to defend your own argument, nor have you provided myself or your readership an appropriate response to Sub-Point C:

    “In the context of an omnipotent God, which I believe we are discoursing under, you said, If humankind has free will, which includes the power to thwart god’s will, then god is not sovereign over his creation.

    I replied to that by countering, “This is logically incorrect for several reasons, but primarily because the moment you posit that an omnipotent being’s will can be thwarted by anything other than that omnipotent being’s own volition, you are no longer discussing an omnipotent being.”

    That’s the initial extent of my argument, and I stand by it.

    On a side note,

    1) I didn’t think we were analyzing the work of other writers…(ie Drange whose arguments are redundant); I thought we were having a discourse based on charges I leveled against statements you made.

    2) Your suggestion to read these writers contains another presupposition: that I haven’t.

    3) Seeking to “persuade you of the coherency of theism” was never my intent. Demonstrating that your logic was faulty in at least 3 points was the intent. I believe I half-decently made that case.

    4) Which really all goes to prove a time-honored tradition. The whole world is pink through rose-colored glasses, and orthodoxy colors interpretation of facts.

    This principle manifests in atheists and theists, and none of this has anything to do with religious persuasion or endorsement of theism.

    It has everything to do with illuminating misuse of logic.

    So, it was nice playing, and feel free to discover and illuminate errors on my blog if you wish. I’m sure there are many, and I have no problem humbly admitting my own peculiar ability to error; just the other day I found a sentence where I said there were 80 amino acids!

    **And rest assured, I won’t sidestep a single of your arguments by pointing you to Henry Morris, William Dembski, Michael Behe, Michael Denton, etc.

    In pursuit of clarity…

     
  40. Felicia Gilljam

    January 25, 2008 at 1:48 pm

    trinity, I suspect the reason CL doesn’t tell Chap to read the bible is because the bible is where a lot of people find out that God and Jesus are massively implausible, and that even if they WERE plausible, you wouldn’t want to worship them. I’d quote verses at you but I kind of doubt it would make a difference. The fact that the first chapters of Genesis blatantly contradict each other is a nice clue in to why the bible is a bad argument, though.

    Also, don’t you realise pointing to the bible is circular reasoning? The argument goes:
    “Why do you believe in God?”
    “Because it says so in the bible.”
    “Why do you believe in the bible?”
    “Because it was written by god.”
    This is entirely pointless and the worst sort of argument, especially since the last statement is demonstrably false (the bible was cobbled together by men who didn’t even live when Jesus presumably existed).

     
  41. CL

    January 25, 2008 at 1:59 pm

    @ Trinity;

    I typically don’t disclose my religious beliefs (or lack thereof) lightly. The minute you call yourself a “Christian” or an “Atheist” you automatically get trapped by other people’s interpretations of those words, which are almost always different and almost always distorted.

    I don’t “just tell Chaplain to read the Bible” for many reasons. Primarily because we weren’t arguing about the Bible or religion. Also because to do so would contain the presupposition that she hasn’t read the Bible, and I can’t possibly know that because I’m not that acquainted with her.

    Best…. :)

     
  42. CL

    January 25, 2008 at 3:52 pm

    @ Felicia,

    Hello…nice to meet you.

    I’m sorry, but your “suspicion” as expressed in Comment #41 is your opinion. Although I respect your opinion, it is incorrect as regards my motives.

    I actually articulate why I “don’t just tell Chaplain to read the Bible” in Comment #42, but I couldn’t logically expect you to know that, because you chose to speculate on my motives before I posted Comment #42.

    And my motives are clearly expressed in Comment #34, Sub-Point C in particular. If you or anyone else can sufficiently address that point without calling for big brothers, I’m all ears, and quite willing to learn about logic and philosophy.

    On a side note, I am, however, gleeful that you correctly articulate the fallacy of circular reasoning.

    Thanks for playing…

     
  43. Lifeguard

    January 25, 2008 at 4:16 pm

    @CL:

    I’ll make a modest attempt at Comment #34, Sub-Point C. I say modest, because I am not as familiar with philosophy and the bible as you clearly are.

    In any event, here goes:

    You wrote:
    “The Bible states explicitly that God’s will is for all to “…come to a knowledge of the truth and so be saved,” yet also states explicitly that although “many are called, few are chosen.” Thinking critically, if the Bible says God is omnipotent, and that God’s will is for all to be saved, and then clearly says that not all will be saved, has God’s will been thwarted? Or is the Bible just inconsistent with itself? From a logical standpoint, neither conclusion is correct, and other conclusions exist.”

    My question is, if “many” are called, then doesn’t that mean that God doesn’t call everybody? And, even of those many called, only few “are chosen.” Who does the choosing other than God? That sounds to me like God decides he’s not going to call everybody, and then he’s going to thin out the heard even further.

    You also wrote: “Your statement is also logically incorrect because it omits at least one potential reality: that humankind could in fact possess free will, that God could in fact be omnipotently sovereign, and that God could in fact allow his, her or its will to be “thwarted” by his, her or its own volition.

    Tolerance is not synonymous with weakness or inability”

    I agree 110%. But that doesn’t strike me as particularly fair if, again, god calls many instead of everybody and then chooses fewer still. True, you said God’s will is that “all” be saved, but I noticed that the word “all” falls outside of the bible passage you quoted in Sub-section C, so I just don’t know if the bible includes that exact word in the original text.

    Then again, even if that quote is accurate, I see it as pretty contradictory with the idea that God would call many and choose few, instead of calling everybody and allowing us to choose whether to heed the call.

     
  44. trinity

    January 25, 2008 at 4:23 pm

    CL.,

    you said to me, “Thanks for playing…”

    do you think that beleiving in Jesus is some sort of a game????? im sorry but to me it is sirius busness.

    why does any body argueing about the Bible have to say #34, Sub-Point C. I think thats a lot of words. You onely need 1 word. it says in ST. John 1,1 (im coping so axcuse any mistakes thanks) “In the beginnng was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Wrod was God”.

    so i dont under stand why you need so many words and points and sub-points and mabye even sub-sub-sub-points???? one word = one Jesus! for you, 8 million words still = one Jesus! right?

     
  45. CL

    January 25, 2008 at 4:40 pm

    @ Lifeguard:

    Nice to meet you.

    I wholeheartedly agree with your contention in Comment #14 that “the beautiful thing about this post is that every point DEMANDS a serious answer and cannot be dismissed or ignored.”

    However, let me say this with all due respect – you only address the setup of my point – not the point itself. The second half of the point follows:

    “In the context of an omnipotent God, which I believe [Chap and I] are discoursing under, [Chap] said, ‘If humankind has free will, which includes the power to thwart god’s will, then god is not sovereign over his creation.'”

    I then argued, “This is logically incorrect for several reasons, but primarily because the moment you posit that an omnipotent being’s will can be thwarted by anything other than that omnipotent being’s own volition, you are no longer discussing an omnipotent being.”

    You also said, “I noticed that the word ‘all’ falls outside of the bible passage you quoted in Sub-section C, so I just don’t know if the bible includes that exact word in the original text.”

    This is a great observation and an indication that some people on this thread can suspend their beliefs and emotions enough to pursue authentic logic. I did in fact make that mistake. The word “all” does in fact appear in the passage.

    You have also brought up some interesting linguistic points that I’d be foolish to comment on without first checking the Greek.

    Thank you for a proper engagement, and best…

     
  46. CL

    January 25, 2008 at 5:04 pm

    @ Trinity;

    Hi, nice to meet you.

    You accuse me of saying, “Thanks for playing…” when I in fact ended my comment to you (#42) with the signature of “Best…” followed by a smiley face.

    As a side note, I use the lightly sarcastic signature “Thanks for playing…” when I feel somebody has treated the debate unprofessionally or unfairly.

    It is written in Solomon’s Proverbs that “He who speaks before listening does so at his own folly and shame,” and that “zeal without knowledge is foolishness.” (both paraphrased by me)

    I feel both may apply here. You are obviously zealous. I have no problem with that. I do, as I stated 10 minutes ago to Lifeguard, feel a logical problem exists when somebody can’t suspend their emotions or beliefs long enough to take the time to carefully read someone’s words and rationally consider them before responding.

    You (seemingly angrily) ask, “do you think that beleiving in Jesus is some sort of a game?????”

    I reply: If in fact the Bible is CORRECT with its assertions about Jesus, then, no, believing in Jesus is not some sort of game. Contrarily, it becomes the most important question a person could ever ponder.

    However, if the Bible is INCORRECT with its assertions about Jesus, then, yes, believing in Jesus could be compared to any sort of game you wish.

    Thanks for playing…

     
  47. the chaplain

    January 25, 2008 at 5:08 pm

    CL:
    You said: Your statement is also logically incorrect because it omits at least one potential reality: that humankind could in fact possess free will, that God could in fact be omnipotently sovereign, and that God could in fact allow his, her or its will to be “thwarted” by his, her or its own volition.

    If God is willing to suspend his/her/its will for fellowship with humankind and allow humankind to make that choice, then why does God punish humankind for making the choice he/she/it doesn’t like? God is either willing to suspend his/her/its will completely and accept all of the consequences of humankind’s choices, or not. Since there are heavy penalties for making the choice that God does not prefer, the alleged suspension of his/her/its will is superficial. Does this not strike you as contradictory? What God really is saying is, “I’ll let you have free will as long as you use it the way I want you to use it. But you have to do it my way, or else.”

    It seems that God exercises sovereignty in some cases but not in others. How can humans truly have free will under such capricious conditions? Moreover, how does such capriciousness square up with a thoroughly loving God?

     
  48. the chaplain

    January 25, 2008 at 5:12 pm

    CL:
    You said: “In the context of an omnipotent God, which I believe we are discoursing under, you said, If humankind has free will, which includes the power to thwart god’s will, then god is not sovereign over his creation.”

    I replied to that by countering, “This is logically incorrect for several reasons, but primarily because the moment you posit that an omnipotent being’s will can be thwarted by anything other than that omnipotent being’s own volition, you are no longer discussing an omnipotent being.”

    My statement was a refutation of the Wesleyan claim. Therefore, your “correction” is not necessary since we apparently agree that the claim is incoherent. Wesleyans hold that God is omnipotent, but that humankind has the power to thwart his will. I’m saying, as you appear to be, that such cannot be the case.

     
  49. Lifeguard

    January 25, 2008 at 5:25 pm

    @CL

    Nice to meet you too, and, with equally due respect, I’m not convinced you addressed my point other than to point out that it only addressed the set up. If your set up is completely unrelated to your point, then I’ll admit I didn’t address your point. I’ll also admit that I find it a curious set up if it isn’t in some sense foundational to your point! Why the set up then? If it is related, then I think my point about the inconsistency between the two passages needs to be addressed.

    Now, for your point, as you laid it out in #46. I’ll do what I can with it, but keep in mind I’m an amateur. For that matter, I’m more sincerely interested in your response than I am just prattling an opinion.

    Your position, as I read it, is that: If God is omnipotent, then his will cannot be thwarted unless he himself allows for that by creating free agents whom he wills to be free to choose other than what He knows is best for them and their salvation. Otherwise, if humans can truly thwart God’s will (contrary to his will), then we are no longer talking about God.

    I guess I’m simply wondering what, exactly, your point is. If you only mean to point out that the Chaplain didn’t consider this conception of God or to take to task for not being rigorous enough in her language or logic, then I think we could probably agree on that, although, in her defense, I think the Chaplain is writing personal reflections on a personal blog. Blogs are like open letters in a lot of ways, and I, for one, wouldn’t want to be in the position of having to make every letter or post I write into an airtight exposition of my personal views.

    Is that your point though? To point out what you perceived as fuzzy writing, because you’re personally committed to the ruthlessly logical pursuit of truth? If you’re here playing devil’s advocate, then, hey, you do a great job at it, it’s a service, keep us sharp, and “thanks for playing”

    [great line by the way]

    If, however, your intention is also to defend that conception of god summarized above, then (1) are you standing by those bible quotes as indicative of God’s true nature and (2) are you prepared to defend them against the arguments I made in Comment 44 which, up until now, you have simply characterized as a set up, rather than integral to your point?

    Earlier you stated “I typically don’t disclose my religious beliefs (or lack thereof) lightly. The minute you call yourself a “Christian” or an “Atheist” you automatically get trapped by other people’s interpretations of those words, which are almost always different and almost always distorted.”

    Fair enough. I am not trying to out you one way or the other. It’s just that until I know the answer, I’m not entirely sure what the point is, and, in that case, I’m not really sure whether we’re talking about god or the rules of logic.

    Which game are you thanking us for playing?

    -Lifeguard

    p.s. You’re a smart guy, but those are exactly the ones who give the worst headaches!

     
  50. PhillyChief

    January 25, 2008 at 5:33 pm

    CL,

    Concerning #34 subset C:

    It’s not that neither conclusion is correct, it’s that neither conclusion, in fact any conclusion, is impossible to determine to be correct since the entire discourse is theoretical. God is an idea and the bible is a collection of ideas about the idea of god.

    Ignoring that the discourse is theoretical and simply judging correctness based on the soundness of the logic by which one arrives at a conclusion, one could “correctly” come to a conclusion that god’s will has been thwarted or that the bible is inconsistent with itself by reading the passages mentioned from the bible.

    The rest of your dissection of “If humankind has free will, which includes the power to thwart god’s will, then god is not sovereign over his creation” appears sound if all one assigns to god is omnipotence; however, the context from which that quote was lifted from was questioning if god could be omnipotent and omnibenevolent so your primary logical objection is mistaken within that context. What was being questioned was the compatibility of omnipotence and omnibenevolence. Your response completely ignores that and the issue of omnibenevolence by your answer that god could simply tolerate his will thwarted. If thwarting his will leads to eternal damnation, allowing his will to be thwarted is not omnibenevolent.

    Since you seem to want to be helpful and give the Chaplain advice, I’m sure you would also be open to receiving advice and so I’ll say this – please try to keep in mind the context in which someone’s phrases you dissect are made.

    When I find myself with more time I’ll try to respond to more of the intriguing comments made here, but unfortunately I’m not on strike so I have to work.

     
  51. the chaplain

    January 25, 2008 at 6:25 pm

    Phillychief:
    You said to CL: What was being questioned was the compatibility of omnipotence and omnibenevolence. Your response completely ignores that and the issue of omnibenevolence…

    Thanks for reminding us/me of the original context, as I neglected to raise that point in my two latest comments. Pathetic on my part, really, as the whole point of the discussion was to examine the compatibility of traits in combination with each other, not as individual characteristics. Thanks for getting me back on track. :)

     
  52. CL

    January 25, 2008 at 6:46 pm

    @ all:

    Whoa, slow down, okay this is great…lemme get a handle on it all and post up later.

     
  53. CL

    January 25, 2008 at 7:14 pm

    Yo Philly,

    Pleasure to meet you.

    I’ll address your argument later.

    It’s okay if you lack and/or are unable to materialize the time to address these posts in full, as they come up. I agree; it’s difficult, and now that I have like 6 new comments to address, I too must shrink back for a few.

    However, your comment about me being on strike was unnecessary, borderline ad hominem, and possibly contains the presupposition that 1) I don’t have a day job or life so that’s why I can post all these long posts, and 2) That I’m not in fact posting these comments in brief, 5-10 minute breaks in my downtime.

    Ah, the lottery of genetics…

     
  54. the chaplain

    January 25, 2008 at 7:26 pm

    CL:
    You said, “While I realize you are paraphrasing the reformed Calvinist position, I do not think the conclusion “…humankind is predestined for either salvation or damnation” flows logically from (or even has anything to do with) the premise that “…god rules in complete sovereignty over his creation.””

    Yes, I was paraphrasing, but Calvin and his followers, most notably Zwingli, composed arguments that led from the initial premise that God is sovereign to the conclusion of double pre-destination. To be more precise, Calvin only extended his logic to the point of single-predestination (salvation). His disciple, Zwingli, went all the way to double-predestination (salvation and damnation). As these are the arguments developed by the Calvinists themselves, I’m pleased to see that you agree with my contention that the view is illogical.

    You also said, “In regards to your Points 1, 2, and 6 as spelled out at the top of this comment, I feel you have not successfully supported your claim that “omnipotence and omnibenevolence are contradictory,” or that “omnipotent and/or omnibenevolent conceptions of God are logically incoherent.””

    What you feel is immaterial. I made the case in comment 31 and responded to your counterclaims in comments 48 and 49. Moreover, I noted in #49 that one of your counterclaims was based on a misrepresentation of what I actually said. In fact, not only is it not a valid counterclaim, it is actually an agreement with my point. I’m glad to see that you agree with me that the Wesleyan position is illogical.

    You also went into a long digression of Epicurus’ argument and noted that he only exhausted 3 of at least 9 possible arguments. Well, until the first three arguments were countered successfully, there was no need for him to go any further. He only had to make one claim successfully to make his point. Moreover, Drange, whom you dismiss as “redundant,” did extend Epicurus’ argument. Since you find the arguments redundant, perhaps we can cut Epicurus some slack for not beating a dead horse. You’re displeased because, in your view, Epicurus cut the argument short, and you’re equally displeased that Drange drew it out to the point of what you perceive as redundancy. Your standards of argument appear to be inconsistent.

    Now, we can go on ad infitum with every claim I made regarding transcendence/immanence, trinitarianism/monotheism, etc., but frankly, I’m not interested in doing so. I have demonstrated that omnibenevolence and omnipotence are incompatible and you have not successfully countered that claim. Moreover, you have agreed that I demonstrated the illogical nature of two theist positions. I assert that I have offered sufficient grounds for concluding that theism as it is currently articulated is incoherent and, consequently, false. Moreover, the fact that theists cannot agree among themselves about God’s nature, about the means by which he intercedes in the world, about what his will for the world is, about what his criteria are for determining salvation, about the means by which salvation is attained, about whether there is an afterlife, about whether resurrection is bodily or spiritual, etc., is another basis for a claim of incoherence. If they can agree to, and support, a coherent claim then I will re-examine the situation. In the meantime, I assert that I have met my burden of proof to support the claim I made initially in the post, that it is a fact, not a subjective opinion, that theism is false.

    One final note: You may think that “thanks for playing” is a cute tag. I think it’s rude and since this is my blog, I will ask that you refrain from directing it to anyone who comments here. As Lifeguard noted earlier, you’re a very smart guy – you don’t need to demean yourself by resorting to such a snide tag. Thanks.

     
  55. Spanish Inquisitor

    January 25, 2008 at 7:34 pm

    Jeez. I go away for a day or so, and I come back to what sounds like a tax appeal argument. #34, subpart C. Is it April 15th already? So soon…

    Ah, the lottery of genetics…

    Speaking of borderline ad hominem…

     
  56. Lifeguard

    January 25, 2008 at 8:04 pm

    @ CL:

    Do you believe that the idea of an omnipotent, all loving god is a logically coherent? Or do you simply object to the Chaplain’s making a blanket statement without logically demolishing all possible conceptions of that god?

    If the former, then I’m going to ask that you give us you state your logically coherent formulation. Should you decline, like I said, I won’t hold it against you since you’re as entitled to your privacy as anyone else around here.

    If the latter, however, then I assume you’re asking for someone to refute the idea that an all loving, all knowing god makes perfectly logical sense insofar as an omnipotent god is perfectly compatible with free will. As I said earlier, I agree that your formulation of omnipotence and free will is logically coherent, but I also agree with Philly that you have not yet addressed how that omnipotence can be logically consistent with benevolence.

    If god truly loves me, then why would he create me with free will knowing that I will freely make all of the wrong choices and end up in hell? The only answer I can think of (and please point out other possibilities if you have any) is that it is better for me to live my life with freedom, make all the wrong choices, and burn in hell than to have never lived at all. But how could I have benefited from not existing if I never existed to receive the benefit?

    I have no choice to live once I am created. There is no alternative once god chooses to create me. Whether my existence benefits me or not is a non-issue, because costs and benefits are predicated upon my existing in the first place.

    So I think you’re right with regards to the logical coherence of god and free will, but I still don’t see how the idea of a god who is both omnipotent and benevelent has logical coherence.

    Again, I’m not saying it DOESN’T, but I am not convinced of that.

    I’ll be patient, I know we’re keeping you busy!

    SI: Welcome back… jump into the fray, why don’t you?

     
  57. The Exterminator

    January 25, 2008 at 8:11 pm

    chappy,

    You’ve fallen into the trap and have had a very nice post hijacked by someone who just wants to blow wind up your ass.

    I don’t see how Calvin and Zwingli and Wesley and Epicurus and subpoint C and sub-subpoint Q and whether or not some blowhard is or is not on strike have anything whatsoever to do with the three problems you stated in the body of the post itself.

    So in a way, when he says “thanks for playing …” that’s exactly what he means. He’s toying with you.

    But you know, for all his seeming erudition, really — he’s not saying anything. Underneath all the irrelevant references and prolix phrases, there’s nothing there. He’s just writing another skateboarding movie with a better vocabulary.

    C.L, thanks for playing.

     
  58. the chaplain

    January 25, 2008 at 8:16 pm

    Exterminator:
    Yeah, I knew he was toying with me when I initially tried to politely break off my interaction by directing him to some other sources. At this point, I’ll let my final comment, #55, in conjunction with the others I’ve made plus the original post stand for themselves.

    If anyone else wants to play with CL, you’re welcome to do so. The playground (located at the rear of the chapel) is open.

     
  59. Kagehi

    January 25, 2008 at 8:36 pm

    “Things are never simple and wheather you believe in religious or not, the respect for the religious is good. Just as respect for one’s opinion or belief is necessary to create a peaceful community.”

    ??? So, you respect alchemists, astrologists, heaven’s gate people, those people that followed Jim Jones to death, scientologists, and ***any other*** wacky idea that once claimed it was based on divine wisdom Lilja? Just wondering, because there is ****nothing**** that demands that higher respect be payed to religious thinking, ideas or artifact, above all others, save that religious people have claimed, insist on, and gnash teeth at you when you don’t automatically respect their ideas more than that of any other person presenting some concept that makes no sense.

    I respect people. I give them the benefit of the doubt as to how rational they are, and while I give them a few negative marks if they make *obvious* implications that they value unfounded concepts over ones that can be tested. They however only **lose** all of my respect when they a) insist that something they can’t describe coherently might be an ultimate truth of the universe, b) insist that its not enough to respect their right be believe it, but the idea itself, and then c) invariably insist that the only way I can “prove” that respect, and thus that I respect them at all, for anything, is by immediately injecting large quantities of the stuff they are selling into my own life.

    In my experience you find three types of religious people. Those that suffer a cognitive dissonance that allows them to avoid pushing their views on me, while still thinking I am wrong, those that function within the bounds of logic and testability in **everything** from how they pay their bill, to how they decide which stereo to buy, but insist that I *must* recognize the fundamental elegance of the illogical and inconsistent thinking they use with religion, and those that lack any cognitive dissonance, because, in their world, everything that isn’t part of some elaborate irrational, illogical mish mash of excuses, double speak and pretzel twisting explanations for why they *must be* right, is automatically wrong, evil and should be replaced with **their personal** nutjob description of how the world and their religion work.

    The first set I have very little problem with. 90% of the time they *can* be convinced that there is a problem in their views, and they can find ways to wedge religion into the world in which they where wrong. The second group… for them, there are some things that almost nothing short of the sort of lightning bolt revelation that led a lot of them to accept the nonsense in the first place, will shake their certainty that there is some hidden intrinsic value in their religion, which, to be clear what I mean by that, doesn’t exist in any other religion and/or institution that doesn’t accept God as the arbiter of those “hidden” things. Those people irritate the hell out of me, when their unshakable certainties land square in the middle of something that isn’t best explained by their religion, explained by it at all, or contradicted by it. The third group… By Brell, the FSM, Shiva, Inari, or what ever fictional entity you follow, or pretend to, those people have to either suffer the equivalent of a high speed train wreck between *their* interpretation of reality and the real thing, before they will even “start” to question if they might be wrong, or the people around them might have intentionally or unintentionally lied to them about the world to make them believe it. Those people I flip flop between being completely scared to death of and feeling extreme frustration, despair and pity for the fact that they are stuck in that strange world. I can still respect their drive, but **not** their ideas, which are completely insane.

    Only a fool, or something that has not **really** thought about what they mean by such a statement, would claim to either a) respect any old idea that comes along, or b) insist that religious ideas should be in some special untouchable category, which must be respected. Even the founders didn’t go that far, being anything but fools. Respecting everyone’s opinion only works if *they* plan to reciprocate. I could just off one hand and half of the other one and still have enough fingers to count the number of world religions that are not **specifically** written to tell their followers to disrespect everyone else’s views, as a matter of both basic dogma and their God’s specific commandments to wipe out competing belief systems.

    How do you respect that which is *designed* to deny even the most basic respect towards any ideas but those it claims for its own, and which its adherents have been stealing, then claiming to have invented from the first day, up to today, where the crazier members are trying to rewrite everything from US history to science to *reclaim it* for their religions? And its not just Christianity doing that. Jews have their orthodoxy movement, which denies science it doesn’t like, and redefines the stuff it does, to fit their views. Some Hindus claim to reject Western Science in favor of Vedic Science, while really only renaming the former and claiming its “derived” solely from Hinduism. Scientology goes so far over the edge with redefinitions of such things that they have their entire own sci-fi world, complete with alien ghosts, to explain why their *version* of science makes more sense than the real one. And, Islam.. Islam is just Christianity with a different prophet, who liked to kill people, instead of raising them from the dead. Like Christians, if they don’t like some science, its automatically a lie, if it *is* something they like, then their Koran predicted it on page 44, sub section 92, where it only looks like it was talking about camel hair, but actually meant Kevlar, or some BS like that.

    What is their to respect in those extreme forms that isn’t in the less extreme forms, or which exists *entirely without* any form of religion?

     
  60. the chaplain

    January 25, 2008 at 8:48 pm

    Kagehi – welcome! I know you’ve posted several comments in this thread and I apologize for not welcoming you earlier. Thanks for your input. I hope I will continue to see you around here and at some other blogs too.

     
  61. Kagehi

    January 25, 2008 at 9:08 pm

    Well, if you go to PZ’s Pharyngula, or Denialism, or Greta Christina’s, then maybe. Got to add yours to my list I guess. Got here from PZ’s. lol Too many dang things I read every day, from blogs to comics. Wish I didn’t have to work, so I had actual time to read these more, and still play online games. lol

     
  62. the chaplain

    January 25, 2008 at 9:12 pm

    Kagehi:
    I read Pharyngula and Greta Christina just about every day.

     
  63. Altoona Atheist (Disgustipated)

    January 25, 2008 at 9:24 pm

    I love this post! You have addressed every issue personal to me as well and explained it with complete rationale! Bravo!

    Nice dig on Huckabee too! Is that guy still in it! HOLY CRAP!

     
  64. the chaplain

    January 25, 2008 at 9:40 pm

    Disgustipated – thanks for joining us. Also, a belated welcome to Felicia, who posted much earlier. And welcome to anyone else I have not mentioned. I appreciate your input.

     
  65. the chaplain

    January 25, 2008 at 11:56 pm

    Correction to comment #55: The double-predestinarian was Theodore Beza, not Ulrich Zwingli. Sorry for the error.

     
  66. The Exterminator

    January 26, 2008 at 1:19 am

    Correction to comment #55:
    Yeah, a lot of us were wondering when you’d catch that.

     
  67. debbyo

    January 26, 2008 at 2:24 am

    I must say, (have been lurking for a while), you were all very patient with the CL provocateur. I was on the edge of my ergo dynamic chair. Especially when he (well you all say “he”, but I thought he was a she) started with the useful advice – how did you stand it? You all did a wonderful job – a very subtle beginning, building momentum until the wonderful post by Kagehi blew the fish (on a fishing expedition) out of the water. Bravo – enjoyed it immensely.

     
  68. Spanish Inquisitor

    January 26, 2008 at 10:32 am

    And I must say (echoing debbyo) that I’m going to print this out for future consultation.

    I particlarly loved this:

    Islam is just Christianity with a different prophet, who liked to kill people, instead of raising them from the dead.

    I LOL!

     
  69. PhillyChief

    January 26, 2008 at 10:48 am

    CL,

    First, did I say you were on strike CL? I don’t remember that. Could you show me where I said that?

    Second, even if I did, where’s the ad hominem? Is it derogatory to refer to striker’s strike status? I think the media should be notified then, since such ad hominems are being flung around on a daily basis.

    Third, if in fact you’re basing an ad hominem charge on suppositions of my possible presuppositions, all I can ask is how about we just stick with the facts and what people are ACTUALLY writing?

    Fourth, if there are things going on in your personal life that are currently upsetting you, I must ask that you not bring such baggage with you here. One can’t faithfully engage in a logical discourse with such irrational baggage, can they?

    I just find it disconcerting to show up and simultaneously dispense advice on properly using logic as well as being dismissive of other’s attempts at logical arguments with snarky lines like “thanks for playing” while exhibiting sloppy logic and clear mistakes yourself.

    I will await your next 5-10 minute break in your downtime and hope that if it involves commenting here that you’ll raise your game or at least play nice.

    PS – I have no idea how “Ah, the lottery of genetics” fits into your comment so if you don’t mind, please explain that to me. Thanks.

     
  70. the chaplain

    January 26, 2008 at 11:14 am

    Debbyo – thanks for joining us. I wondered who was lurking behind the curtain. :)

    Spanish – welcome back.

    Philly – welcome back to you, too. I agree with you about the snarky tags, especially from someone who insists that he’s trying (unlike the rest of us) to keep the discourse fair and professional.

     
  71. vjack

    January 26, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    This is a thoughtful, well-written post that I am bookmarking right now to share with others. You’ve given us all much to consider, and this will be one I’m sure to re-read.

     
  72. Pingback: PostOnFire.com
  73. the chaplain

    January 26, 2008 at 4:23 pm

    vjack:
    Thanks for the acknowledgment.

     
  74. Doug

    January 26, 2008 at 7:23 pm

    PostOnFire, did you not read the article or just not comprehend it?
    If it’s the first instance, why did you post? Just being malicious for the hell of it?
    If it’s the second, you need some basic education in reading/comprehension skills.
    If there’s a third alternative I’d like to hear it.

     
  75. the chaplain

    January 26, 2008 at 7:31 pm

    Doug:
    Would you mind citing some specific objections to the post?

     
  76. Doug

    January 26, 2008 at 8:04 pm

    Chaplain, I thought that the answers to the questions that PostOnFire asked were quite obvious in your essay.
    Did I miss something here?

     
  77. the chaplain

    January 26, 2008 at 8:29 pm

    Doug:
    Okay, I think I see where the misunderstanding was. PostOnFire’s name leads to a link from this post to another site. The questions posed in his comment, #73, are the same ones that are posted over there. I read the questions, in the context of the other site, as a discussion starter, not a criticism. Was my interpretation wrong? Do you see them as a criticism? I agree that they would be if they didn’t link to another site.

     
  78. Eric

    January 26, 2008 at 9:24 pm

    Fantastic. Just fantastic. I will be referncing this in my debates and diatribes with the religious idiots.

     
  79. Doug

    January 26, 2008 at 9:33 pm

    Chaplain, PostOnFire:
    Ah… I didn’t pick up that it was a link, unfamiliar with this board.
    My tail is tucked between my hind legs… I will skulk in the corner over here for a while.
    Nobody look at me, please?

     
  80. the chaplain

    January 26, 2008 at 10:10 pm

    Doug:
    No apology is necessary. If anything, I am the one responsible for any misunderstanding. Please come out of the corner and shake hands with everybody else. We’re glad you’ve joined the conversation. I hope to see you around more often.

     
  81. vjack

    January 27, 2008 at 9:04 am

    The Post on Fire comment wasn’t a comment; it was a trackback (hence the title). I should know because I submitted this post to Post on Fire so it would get more of the attention it deserves.

     
  82. the chaplain

    January 27, 2008 at 10:04 am

    Vjack:
    Thanks for explaining the link clearly for everyone who reads the thread. As Doug pointed out, it may be confusing for readers unfamiliar with some of the blogging platforms.

    I also thank you for linking to this post at both PostOnFire and at Atheist Revolution.

     
  83. vjack

    January 27, 2008 at 10:07 am

    No problem – it deserves to be read. I also submitted it to Digg and Reddit.

     
  84. NAND Gate Fetishist

    January 27, 2008 at 11:30 am

    Wow, what an incredible thread of discussion I have witnessed here this early morning, running back and forth through my eyes. Kind of makes me want to be a lawyer or something. My heartiest thanks to both CL and Chaplain (and all those other participants (minus the initial back-patters and intellectually dismissable nay-sayers)). The both of you, together, have taken me back down the path of meta-philosophy. That is: the philosophy of philosophy, the philosophy of thought, the philosophy of language and argument (itself). Of course, any such discipline is almost immediately self-defeating as it innately refutes itself as it is written (in my experience). Perhaps this is why it is so largely ignored within academia. Nevertheless, this passion has been reignited in me, and I thank the both of you heartily.

    It does however, seem pertinent to chime in that CL seems to have shrunk away with her/his vestigial tail between her/his legs… But prove me wrong, CL…

    But, imagine if you gals/guys teamed up… not for Good (which you could collectively never agree on), but for Awesome.

    On a more humorous note: Trinity’s “and the Wrod was God” line reminded me of The Simpsons’ episode Bart Star Radio “Rod… Tod… This is God…”

     
  85. Delta

    January 27, 2008 at 2:04 pm

    Very well-written post. Thanks to vjack for pointing me here.

     
  86. CL

    January 27, 2008 at 3:11 pm

    @ NAND Gate Fetishist:
    RE: Comment #87

    Hi, Nice to meet you..honestly.

    I’m glad at least one person can glean order out of chaos.

    I, and surely Chaplain as well, appreciate your words, “…incredible thread of discussion…My heartiest thanks to both CL and Chaplain (and all those other participants (minus the initial back-patters and intellectually dismissable nay-sayers)).

    I’m pretty revolted by the emotionally-controlled back-patters and naysayers too, on both sides of the line.

    However,

    Your following conclusion is speculative: “It does however, seem pertinent to chime in that CL seems to have shrunk away with his vestigial tail between his legs…”

    CL step back for a few while the emotionally controlled get their befuddled logic and denigrating comments out? Of necessity…

    CL shrink back from healthy intellectual discourse in defense of reason and freethought? Never…

    CL would buy Charles Taze Russell’s (ow WatchTower acclaim) infamous “Miracle Wheat” in bulk before that happened..

     
  87. PhillyChief

    January 27, 2008 at 5:15 pm

    “Of course, any such discipline is almost immediately self-defeating as it innately refutes itself as it is written (in my experience)”

    I’d be interested in hearing about these experiences of yours.

    “Perhaps this is why it is so largely ignored within academia.”

    I’m not sure I follow. Are you talking about the subject matter or the tools? Certainly the tools aren’t ignored.

    “CL step back for a few while the emotionally controlled get their befuddled logic and denigrating comments out? Of necessity…”

    LOL

     
  88. oceallaigh

    January 27, 2008 at 10:06 pm

    Your post has made me reflect on an issue that’s been near or at the top of my mind for years now.

    If religions (theistic or otherwise) are as perniciously inconsistent and potentially debilitating as all rigorous contemporary non-faith-based analyses (including yours, which is a good one) indicate, why do they still exist? Why could Voltaire write:

    Si Dieu n’existait pas, il faudra l’inventer? (If God didn’t exist, humankind would have to invent him?)

    I have a scientist’s perspective on this, one that says “a trait (physical or behavioral) that serves no purpose, to say nothing of one that is debilitating, should disappear from the population”. So, if the consequences of theistic belief are predominantly bad, why do these beliefs persist?

    I do not profess to have an answer to this question. The closest I have been able to come is this:

    Religious beliefs represent the most effective mechanism we have for promoting the maintenance and growth of human community – the social aspect of our social species.

    Since, in all social species, it costs an individual something, often a lot of something(s), to join a community, the payback of membership had better be greater than that cost, or the community will dissolve.

    In the case of humanity, that benefit, I understand (and please forgive me for not citing references), is our existence into the present – as humans lack the physical armament (teeth, claws, size, etc.) to have survived prehistory without banding together.

    The power of religion to mediate (dare I write “enforce”?) community is, perhaps, attested to by ancient societies, which, for the most part, did not know religious freedom. The religion was the state, and vice versa. To worship some other god than your own was to commit treason – or, adultery, Jeremiah. Indeed, one can interpret Jeremiah’s message to the kings and people of 600 BCE Judah, “Your society is too broken, too fragmented, too individualistic, to stand effectively against a foreign invader” – which proved to be the case.

    I think, therefore, that the manifest inconsistencies of religious faiths are, in practical terms, of far less moment than the uniting images, metaphors, etc., that spring from them. I can think of no other explanation for how (to pick one) the Book of Mormon, a bad early-19th century fantasy and Biblical pastiche, can be the basis of a faith whose practitioners are, on the whole, solid citizens – and show a remarkable social unity.

    I would like to see those who see the flaws of religious faith spend less time restating those flaws, and more time investigating how come faiths seem to work despite those flaws – and whether there are ways other than religious faiths or personality cults (Hitler, Stalin, Jim Jones, etc.) to capture the social positives of faith systems for the good of humanity as a whole.

     
  89. NAND Gate Fetishist

    January 27, 2008 at 11:16 pm

    The “conclusion” you refer to was, in fact, a contention – and therefore entitled to be an entirely speculative enterprise, if I should so choose. It was not written as a conclusion, therefore should not be taken or such (or labeled as such!).

    But! Thankyou for playing! :-)

     
  90. RBH

    January 28, 2008 at 12:04 am

    oceallaigh wrote

    I have a scientist’s perspective on this, one that says “a trait (physical or behavioral) that serves no purpose, to say nothing of one that is debilitating, should disappear from the population”. So, if the consequences of theistic belief are predominantly bad, why do these beliefs persist?

    I too have a scientist’s perspective on this, the perspective of a scientist who has worked in evolutionary modeling for nearly 20 years. Know that both neutral and mildly deleterious traits can go to fixation in populations by purely naturalistic processes. All is not adaptive.

    oceallaigh also wrote

    Religious beliefs represent the most effective mechanism we have for promoting the maintenance and growth of human community – the social aspect of our social species.

    I’m sure the Sunnis and Shi’ites of Iraw would agree.

    It may be the case that in prehistory, religion was a group-unifying variable, but that by no means establishes that extant theism has a net positive effect in current times, and there is considerable evidence that it doesn’t. (I purposely used “religion” and “theism” as I did in that sentence. Conflating the two is problematic. The animism of prehistory is in no way equivalent to the Abrahamic monotheisms of today.)

    The main objection I have to theism is that it values belief in the absence of (indeed, in the teeth of) evidence. In a world where we now have the technical means to kill large numbers of people through malice or inadvertence, where the teaching of one church (Roman Catholic) about contraception is directly responsible for uncounted deaths from AIDS in Africa, where the deep division in Islam is killing thousands of people a year, and where a born-again president thinks that he can look into the eyes of an ex-KGB operative and “see his soul,” the irrationality of belief in the absence of evidence is potentially lethal.

    It might be, as oceallaigh claims, that “… faiths seem to work despite those flaws …”, but that is by no means established as the general case. Any social utility that the Abrahamic “faiths” may have must be weighed against the irrationality that they universally value.

    And anyone who would suggest referring people to Johnson, Behe, Dembski, and Denton as authorities on anything is in deep intellectual trouble from the get-go.

    RBH

     
  91. RBH

    January 28, 2008 at 12:07 am

    I should add that the last remark, about Johnson, et al., is directed to CL, not oceallaigh.

     
  92. oceallaigh

    January 28, 2008 at 12:46 am

    RBH –

    Thanks, good points.

    both neutral and mildly deleterious traits can go to fixation in populations by purely naturalistic processes.

    True, of course. And I do microbial taxonomy/phylogeny, not modeling, so I’ll likely miss points that you know well. The gist of the argument on this page, however, as I read it, is that “theism” as a trait is neither neutral nor “mildly” deleterious (of which more anon). Nor is the growth of especially the more fundamentalist theisms in the United States, I propose, consistent with a “neutral” model.

    It may be the case that in prehistory, religion was a group-unifying variable, but that by no means establishes that extant theism has a net positive effect in current times, and there is considerable evidence that it doesn’t.

    Well, that’s my question. What is the net effect, really? In the public-sphere debates on this topic, anecdotes for and against abound. If the tales represented the totality, I think, no way GWB would have been elected President once, never mind twice. I wonder if more rigorous studies might discover differently. After all, so many of the various calamities now facing the planet could be interpreted as what happens when two locally successful social groups butt heads.

    What really worries me is the prospect of intellectuals misreading the issue and contenting themselves with sitting around the campfire and telling tales about how bad theisms are, while the fundamentalists go about replacing Bush with Nehemiah Scudder Huckabee.

     
  93. bbk

    January 28, 2008 at 2:05 am

    Wow – the comments on this post! Chaplain, it looks to me like CL has been trying to take you for a ride. To where, who knows? My first suspicions arose when I saw no clearly stated intent and no identifiable position in any of CL’s posts. We do not know if CL is an atheist or an apologist. All we are told is that Chaplain is wrong.

    And then we’re drawn into a debate against “no one” in which anything of substantive value is deconstructed to abstract minutiae. Any response is further deconstructed into more minutiae. Finally, there is no meaning left in the debate against this no one.

    It is as if someone walked into the room and said “oh yeah? well here is the null set! Argue against that!”

    I have had this used against me in person. The difference is that in real life, most of the time I have prior knowledge that I’m talking to a Christian. This usually happens when someone with a phd makes appeals to their own authority, utterly fail to defend Christianity, and try to save face by turning post-modernist on me and diverting the discussion into a debate about the philosophy of philosophy and how we cannot know nothing about anything.

     
  94. CL

    January 28, 2008 at 2:05 am

    @ RBH
    Re: Comment #94

    Hi, Nice To Meet You. Nice piece.

    Text-based electronic correspondence often obscures perceptions of body language and vocal intonation used by the other speakers.

    I’ve confirmed you attributed words to me that I did not say, and I suspect you took my words out of context, but since I’m not sure, I’ll go straight to the authority.

    You said, “And anyone who would suggest referring people to Johnson, Behe, Dembski, and Denton as authorities on anything is in deep intellectual trouble from the get-go.”

    I actually DID NOT suggest referring anybody anywhere, but cautioned against it.

    Let’s explore the context.

    Chaplain and I had agreed to some debate over 3 statements she made that I took issue with.

    After my initial rebuttal, she eschewed my argument by breaking the discourse and referring me to Drange, Andrew Moroz, and the others.

    I replied that if she desired further discourse, that I wouldn’t “…sidestep a single of [Chaplain’s] arguments by pointing [her] to Henry Morris, William Dembski, Michael Behe, Michael Denton, etc,” opting instead to hold my own intellectually.

    It was essentially a pre-emptive promise to address her argument – not a reading suggestion.

    I do, however, appreciate your deep concern for my intellectual safety. I also remain puzzled as to how you got Johnson in the mix, but this isn’t the first time somebody in this post has put words in my mouth I did not actually say.

    Best,

    CL

     
  95. Scott Thong

    January 28, 2008 at 2:33 am

    I would not restrict the vagaries of belief to just religion. Any unthinking, dogmatic belief can lead to extreme results.

    For example, a die-hard belief in anthropogenic global warming (whether genuine or based on the fact that you own a carbon-credits company) has already led to billions of Euros in losses for no worthwhile gain whatsoever.

    And over the past century, the unbending conviction of the Communist leaders led to massive loss of human life, on the scale of 100 million, due to the firm belief of men like Stalin (holodomor), Mao (Great Leap Forward) and Pol Pot (Year Zero) in their utopian ideals, as well as the unquestioning faith the people had in them.

    After all, if the religious edicts not to commit murder are discounted as myth, humanity is free to forge their own morality and ethics – i.e. relative morality. Thus, in the atheistic Communist philosophy, the death of a million people can be considered justified if such social experiments/purges eventually lead to a better life for a million and one people.

    Therefore, taken in the context of the avowed anti-religious atheism of the Communists (where man is his own god), I would say that, given current conditions, religion’s good effects far outweigh its bad ones – by the mere fact that it precludes the acceptance of relative morality.

    http://scottthong.wordpress.com/2007/06/26/communism-atheism-relative-morality/

     
  96. CL

    January 28, 2008 at 2:37 am

    @ BBK
    Re: Comment #96

    Nice to meet you.

    One of my lifelong homies has MY WAR tatted across his entire breastplate, in black and red. We both lived that scene growing up; he made it permanent.

    At any rate, your concern for my potential faith (or lack thereof) is reminiscent of Trinity’s, who says that if I’m Christian she’s on my side, but if I’m atheist, then she’s not. (to paraphrase Comment #37)

    Truth is truth regardless of it’s source and we all share carbon-based bodies headed inexorably towards entropic demise. If humanity is to peacefully exist, unedifying divisiveness can not.

    If you go to my blog, you’ll notice no endorsements of any “isms” – whatsoever – except maybe skateboard-ism.

    I typically don’t disclose my potential faith (or lack thereof). The minute you call yourself a “Christian” or an “Atheist” or whatever the heck else, you automatically get painted by other people’s interpretations of those words, which are almost always different and almost always distorted.

    By omitting to disclose my potential faith (or lack thereof), I invite the reader to assess the argument on the argument’s own merit – not the perceived merit of the person delivering the argument – which would be misuse of logic.

    Secondly…

    After first deeply complimenting Chaplain on her piece, which I stated I overwhelmingly agreed with in the balance, I took issue to 3 claims she makes.

    In case you missed it, though technically against “no one” as you claim, my argument has been against the same 3 statements for over 75 comments now:

    1. It is an “…underlying fact that theistic belief in any form is mistaken.” (WSBAR?, 4th paragraph)

    2. “Theistic conceptions of god as they are currently articulated are incoherent and logically impossible. That is objective fact, not subjective opinion.” (Comment #25)

    3. “[R]eligious beliefs are detrimental to believers and nonbelievers alike…” (WSBAR?, closing paragraph)

    My claim is that it is irresponsible to present subjective opinions as objective facts, and my claim stands.

    This can hardly be considered “abstract minutiae.”

    There seems to be a recurring premature conclusion on this thread that since I took issue with 3 statements Chaplain made, that I am somehow trying to convert, toy with, or blow smoke up the a** of this ostensibly freethinking circle.

    Afraid not.

    Best,

    CL

     
  97. CL

    January 28, 2008 at 2:39 am

    @ Scott Thong
    Re: Comment #98

    You said, “Any unthinking, dogmatic belief can lead to extreme results.”

    THANK YOU

     
  98. Bobaloo

    January 28, 2008 at 3:34 am

    @ Everyone

    I have been reading through your arguments and trying really hard to find any real corollary evidence between posts. I have tried to put aside the obvious logical fallacies committed in many posts, and found little reason to say much, until I read CL’s post #99. CL says; “I typically don’t disclose my potential faith (or lack thereof). The minute you call yourself a “Christian” or an “Atheist” or whatever the heck else, you automatically get painted by other people’s interpretations of those words, which are almost always different and almost always distorted”

    CL’s point couldn’t be more on. When you use a word in any context of a logical statement you are committed to its existence. If a physicists writes a paper on particulate acceleration of subatomic particles and he uses the word “electrons” he has committed himself to the existence of electrons, and all that is defined by the word electrons. The American philosopher W.V. Quine postulates in his paper, Ontological Relativity, about the presupposition of language.

    Quine gives the example of the savage native that has an unknown language. He proposes the idea that there is more than one meaning by all words, as when the word “rabbit” is said it also entails the existence of a “un-detached rabbit part” (rabbit ear, nose, ect.) and “the temporal stage of a rabbit in a specific time slice.” Quine wants to show with the native language that there is a way of querying the native with and temporal example of a living rabbit and simply asking, “Gavagai?” He shows that there is an indeterminacy of definition that presupposes the existence of the un-detached rabbit part and the rabbit stage also exist. So if in the native’s mind “Gavagai” means “U.R.P.” or “rabbit stage.” So there is no perfect definition of any real translation, and for that matter even transliteration.

    As CL points out there is an important reason for not claiming any real religious (or lack thereof) belief. It puts logical constraints on one arguments due directly to the bias of the individual that is translating the english to mind ideas of what it means to be religious.

    Noted atheist and philosopher Sam Harris proposes eloquently in the 2007 AAI meeting in Washington DC, that the problem with atheism is that it is a pointless word. He goes to explain that there is simply no reason to have the term “atheism” because it presupposes its own non-existence. Harris writes “the same way that we don’t need a word for someone who rejects astrology. We simply do not call people “non-astrologers.” All we need are words like “reason” and “evidence” and “common sense” and “bullshit” to put astrologers in their place, and so it could be with religion.”

    I simply cant to notice the amount of translation error in the previous posts. However as philosopher Rudolf Carnap writes about Empiricism and Ontology, he admits to Quines relativity but requires that there be some mode of empirical communication. I feel that we should embrace both Quine and Carnaps ideals of Empiricism and Relativity to allow this conversation to actually get somewhere other than a “cartisian circle” and end up inevitably prove ourselves wrong!

    from ________, with love!

     
  99. Bobaloo

    January 28, 2008 at 3:37 am

    @ Chaplain

    Well thought paper and it is important but it seems to have some logical inconstancies, think about running through it again and re-checking the sequencing.

    Great work!

    from ________, with love!

     
  100. CL

    January 28, 2008 at 6:27 am

    @ PhillyChief

    Nice to meet you…honestly.

    Poked around your blog for a few and even left a comment about your snake oil post that had me laughing out loud. It’s cool you’re an artist. Artists and skateboarders usually get along.

    Noticed your from Philly. I’ve never made it to Philadelphia, but I wanted to before Mayor Street had LOVE Park all rearranged and kicked the skaters out. 92-year-old Edmund Bacon, (father of actor Kevin Bacon and designer of the park), actually protested Mayor Street’s ban by strapping on a helmet and riding a skateboard through LOVE, saying “Instead of treating children like criminals we should be welcoming them with lemonade and Tasty-Kakes.”

    How that fits into anything, I don’t know. At any rate, seems you took issue with me on some points that I think you might want to reconsider. You’ve actually leveled a solid dozen arguments against me in your Comments #51 & #70. The thread got pretty busy so I dipped for a few, but I must catch up. #51 is your most recent so I’ll address it first.

    First:

    Among other things, Webster’s defines the word theoretical as, “lacking verification or practical application; restricted to theory…”

    The original discourse initiated between Chaplain and myself did not address any theory, so it is not theoretical as you claim.

    Discourse about God and the Bible CAN at times be theoretical; it can also be critical or historical. If Chaplain and I were having a casual discourse about, say, the color of God’s pants or possibilities concerning whether or not God exists, then sure, that would be correctly labeled theoretical discourse.

    Your inference seems to be that BECAUSE Chaplain and I are discussing ideas that reference God and the Bible, and BECAUSE SOME FORMS of discourse about God and the Bible are theoretical, that Chaplain and I are somehow embarking upon theoretical discourse.

    Me smells circular reasoning.

    The original discourse initiated between Chaplain and myself had to do with the logical coherence (or lack thereof) of certain theistic conceptions, not theory.

    Second:

    It’s not that I, “…IGNORE that the discourse is theoretical” (caps mine) as you falsely charge me with; it’s just that there’s a difference between discourse that is theoretical (hard sciences) and discourse that examines an argument for its logical coherency (humanities).

    Third:

    You say, “The rest of [CL’s] dissection of [The Calvinist position as stated by Chaplain], ‘If humankind has free will, which includes the power to thwart god’s will, then god is not sovereign over his creation’ appears sound if all one assigns to god is omnipotence…” (brackets mine)

    I agree.

    You then continue, “…however, the context from which [the above] quote was lifted from was questioning if god could be omnipotent and omnibenevolent so your primary logical objection is mistaken within that context. What was being questioned was the compatibility of omnipotence and omnibenevolence.” (brackets mine)

    Sorry, but that’s simply not true. You assume I did not know the context I was quoting from. This is interesting, as from the outset of my second Comment #34, I clearly articulated that among other things, I was prepared to address Chaplain’s argument concerning the compatibility of omnipotence and omnibenevolence. (See Comment #34, at the top, Point 2, where I reference Chaplain’s stated claim that, “omnipotence and omnibenevolence are contradictory” as a claim I object to.)

    *As a side note, I was never able to address the issue, so don’t hold that against me. It’s coming.

    Fourth:

    In response to your above charge of me being out of context, you said, “Your response completely ignores that…” (‘that’ being the omnipotence / omnibenevolence issue Chaplain and I were originally discussing.)

    You are correct.

    My response ignored the context of our initial discourse because the Chaplain and I were both well aware of it.

    I’m sorry it appears you were not.

    You then close by saying, “When I find myself with more time I’ll try to respond to more of the intriguing comments made here, but unfortunately I’m not on strike so I have to work.”

    Moving along to your Comment #70:

    First:

    You ask, “…did I say you were on strike CL? I don’t remember that. Could you show me where I said that?”

    We just touched on that above, in Comment #51 where you wrote, “When I find myself with more time I’ll try to respond to more of the intriguing comments made here, but unfortunately I’m not on strike so I have to work.”

    I feel justified in my assertion that there is reference to my strike status. Given that I’ve linked several of my comments to my own blog, the headline of which currently reads, “On the WGA Strike,” I feel fairly safe in making the assumption you hopped over to my site to check me out. From where else might such a comment spring? Was that just an amazing staggering improbability, much like the kind needed to argue unguided abiogenesis?

    Second:

    You say, “…even if I did, where’s the ad hominem? Is it derogatory to refer to striker’s strike status?” (ital. mine)

    I reply that whether or not it is derogatory to refer to a writer’s strike status depends on the context in which that status is referred to. Text-based electronic correspondence often obscures vital perception of body language and vocal intonation that would usually signify a speaker’s context in a face-to-face conversation.

    As such, I was unable to discern your context, and contrary to what you said I used, the words I ACTUALLY used to describe your comment were “borderline ad hominem.” I chose to speak subjectively out of respect for you and the general principle of objectivity, because although my gut told me you were trying to roast me, I had no means of detecting that empirically.

    Third:

    Let’s reread your words: “…even if I did, where’s the ad hominem? Is it derogatory to refer to a striker’s strike status?”

    You then wrote “…all I can ask is how about we just stick with the facts and what people are ACTUALLY writing?”

    My sentiments exactly. Consider above where you suggested I charged you with making an ad hominem attack when in fact I said it was borderline. Also, a first cause cannot require any of the things that depend on it for their existence. A “Striker’s” strike status implies a striker; it is a “free lunch.” Make sure not to make a mistake like that in an important debate over theism.

    Fourth:

    You say, “…if there are things going on in your personal life that are currently upsetting you, I must ask that you not bring such baggage with you here. One can’t faithfully engage in a logical discourse with such irrational baggage, can they?”

    That contains several assumptions.

    The strike actually sucks and I’m 100% emotionally detached from it. You should’ve seen the look on this 5-year-old’s face when his activist grandmother refused to let him enter the Disney store, then made me try to explain the dynamics of the labor strike to him. At any rate, I shouldn’t of returned a borderline ad hominem attack with another one. My bad. Sorry PhillyChief. Honestly.

    In fact, I have been happier, healthier and wealthier lately than I have in a long time. I do, however, agree thoroughly with you when you posit, “One can’t faithfully engage in a logical discourse with such irrational baggage, can they?” That is a really great line, and if you re-read my posts, I don’t think you’ll find much emotion.

    **By the way, your snarky attempt at psychoanalyzing me fits into a debate over my objections to the logic of Chaplain’s 3 statements how??

    Fifth:

    “I just find it disconcerting to show up and simultaneously dispense advice on properly using logic as well as being dismissive of other’s attempts at logical arguments with snarky lines like “thanks for playing” while exhibiting sloppy logic and clear mistakes yourself.”

    Interesting. Could you please show me the “sloppy logic” and clear mistakes from my comment thread?

    Now for a serious note about the infamous moniker, “Thanks For Playing…”

    The reason I don’t think I owe much if any apology to the two people I said “Thanks for playing…” to will soon be explained in detail. However, in an upcoming post I am going to apologize to Chaplain, out of respect for her, her blog, her discourse with myself and also her readership. I do find it interesting how nobody says anything about the snarky comment regarding my strike status I just reminded the readers that you directed towards me, or your snarky psychoanalytic psycho-babble, or of the DIRECT insult by The Exterminator, who kicked it up a notch by calling me “some blowhard on strike.” (Comment #58) It’s a double-standard made even more interesting by the fact that both you and The Exterminator seem to belong to this particular little atheist e-circle, while I do not.

    If you go to my blog, you’ll hopefully notice no endorsements of any “isms.” As I recently noted to BBK in my Comment #99, there seems to be a recurring premature conclusion on this thread that since I took issue with 3 statements Chaplain made (after complimenting her on a well-written piece that I overwhelmingly agreed with), that I am somehow trying to convert, toy with, or blow smoke up the a** of this ostensibly freethinking circle. (“He’s questioning us; he’s probably some dumb believer”)

    As a side note, I typically don’t disclose my potential faith (or lack thereof). The minute you call yourself a “Christian” or an “Atheist” or whatever else, you automatically get painted by other people’s interpretations of those words, which are almost always different and almost always distorted. By omitting to disclose my potential faith (or lack thereof), I invite the reader to assess the argument on the argument’s own merit – not the perceived intellectual merit of the person delivering the argument – which would be misuse of logic.

    But for those who think it matters I offer a partial description of my sentiments towards organized theism:

    The early colonists were most definitely a religious lot. Prior to 1787, many of the colonies and early states required pledges of allegiance to particular sects of Christianity in order to vote or hold public office. The founding fathers revolted against this and other expressions of tyranny. They fled from England, and at that time the nation had declared the Church of England the official religion. The possibilities for unfairness are evident, and they have always played out in history: subscribers to the state-sponsored religion enjoy special benefits and privileges, while adherents to less popular faiths become national scapegoats whenever the furor of the church gets whipped up. This is precisely the scenario that led to the execution of Friar Giordano Bruno in 1600 and the banning of Galileo’s Dialogues on Two World Systems shortly thereafter. Coming off the heels of political tyranny and religious oppression under the monarchy of England, the founding fathers sought through reason and logic to prevent these atrocities from ever happening again.

     
  101. PhillyChief

    January 28, 2008 at 10:47 am

    God is an idea.
    The bible is a book about that idea.
    Any discussion therefore about god, via bible passages or not, therefore is purely theoretical. With that said, I will concede that a discussion about the belief in god may not be because a belief in god can be observed and therefore real, but god has not been adequately advanced beyond being merely an idea.

    CL’s response to Chaplain, the one where he made a point of saying no one was addressing, I addressed by pointing out his response to the Chaplain’s comment clearly ignored the context in which it was made. I’m sorry to see CL is the only one having trouble realizing that.

    The remainder of his 5-10 minute break from the hustle and bustle of his life where he graces us with prattling on about his justifications for lobbing ad hominem charges and patronizing remarks, details of his personal life, pleadings to visit his blog, and other tangental irrelevances I don’t feel warrant a response.

     
  102. CL

    January 28, 2008 at 2:12 pm

    @ Philly
    Re: Comment #103

    Hi,

    You say, “The bible is a book about that idea. Any discussion therefore about god, via bible passages or not, therefore is purely theoretical.”

    I agree. Chaplain and I were never discussing God. A discussion about God is NOT the same thing as a discussion about the logical coherency of 3 statements that reference theism.

    I invite you to reread my thread carefully. Aside “Thanks for playing…” and a third remark I made to you, that I apologized for, the patronizing remarks around here are all at me, most notably from The Exterminator but also from you.

    Again, I was able to recognize and admit my error, pay you some valid compliments, and extend an honest apology towards you.

    I’m sorry you’re unable or unwilling to do the same with me, especially after denying you made a denigrating reference towards my strike status when it was in fact right there in your Comment #51.

     
  103. PhillyChief

    January 28, 2008 at 3:03 pm

    :roll:

     
  104. Kagehi

    January 28, 2008 at 4:51 pm

    Going to post my thoughts on Oceallaigh’s commentary. One can argue that a) what is neither deleterious, nor beneficial in one environment can become a serious disaster, when/if the environment changes and b) most forms of religion are based on the vague sense that some entity exists, which has some rules, but where the believers tend to attribute their **own** interpretation of right and wrong as being reflected in and defined by those rules. This is why you can get Christian nudists who use one part of the Bible to “correctly” quote that their “God” correctly stated to someone that nudity in humility is not dangerous, while those that consider nudity to *be* dangerous can also be right, in that *their* environment has been built on different interpretations, which emphasize personal shame and abhorrence, which invariably leads people to seeking what has been forbidden and obsessing over them. They are both partly right. If your environment doesn’t *create* the artificial shame and fear that the anti-nudity people have, then you don’t get the wide range of aberrant behaviors that go with it. But if you *are* in that environment, its safer *personally* to conform to the standard, and skirt the edges of what is allowed, where possible. If you are lucky, and for *most* of the US, people have been lucky, the exaggerated standards slide and become more liberal. Unfortunately, in such a system, that simultaneously provides *both* benefits and dangers, kind of like how growing webbed feet would both a) make it easier to swim away from danger, but b) harder to run from it, on land. You get a trade off, when the conditions are not optimal to begin with, and some get the shaft, while others gain.

    Religion however doesn’t entirely fit in this model at all, in some ways. Religion is, for some unimaginably stupid reason, set in some special category by even people that *should* know better. The question is never, “What benefit do we gain by the ability to derive rule sets and explanations for events we can’t adequately describe otherwise?”, its always, “What evolutionary benefit does belief in God’s give us?” Your question is wrong from the start, and creates and artificial category, which wrongly separates it from all other methods of deriving answers. When you word it right to start with, the question is a major, “Duh!” Religion is a construct invented to try to describe things for which we didn’t have adequate knowledge, tools or skill to derive empirical explanations for. It benefited us by providing socially useful rules and answers, even if they where wrong. As others have pointed out, this *works* quite well within an environment where *any* answer is valuable, even if wrong, and social cohesion must be derived from some relatively consistent set of rules, even if the rules are barbaric, insane, dangerous and/or detrimental to progress in the larger scheme. What matters, evolution wise, is only if it doesn’t immediately kill “this” generation.

    The problem of course being that once you have the knowledge, tools, skill and understanding to wipe out “this” generation, systems that are based on ignorance, non-functional tools, lack of skill and blind faith **can** become an evolutionary dead end. In that respect, many religions are like a deleterious gene in the social context, which previously either a) let you run faster, but not swim real well, or b) didn’t do anything particularly horrible, one way or the other, kind of like a lizard, which benefited from heating via sunlight, suddenly finding itself in an ice age. It wasn’t the “best” system available, but it wasn’t lethal either, until the environment changed to make it so.

     
  105. the chaplain

    January 28, 2008 at 6:11 pm

    Kagehi:
    Nice analysis. Religion may have served useful, even necessary functions in the past. The question is, will enough people wake up and realize that religion is no longer useful before we blow ourselves up? I have no use for 72 heavenly virgins.

     
  106. bbk

    January 28, 2008 at 6:35 pm

    CL Re: Comment #99

    It’s called a conflict of interest. Period. This isn’t about what wording a physicist chooses to use given a context. That might be a valid choice for that situation. But you are already out of context. This is an atheist forum. This forum is rife with conflicts of interest and so it’s customary to state those for everyone to know.

    In this situation, and given your style of argument thus far, the greatest similarity is to an Intelligent Design proponent claiming to be “above” labels such as Creationism or Christianity. We know that it’s laughable to think that they can claim no conflict of interest because 10 minutes into the discussion they bring out Bible quotes as supporting evidence.

    This isn’t about being “bigger” than labels. This is about honest debate. There is a reason why in debate there are 2 sides and the position of both sides is known prior to starting it. This common rule is exactly what ID proponents violate when they disguise their position as something else than what it is. And because this is an atheist forum, you have to earn a very high level of trust before you can waltz in and claim to be objective and everyone just swallows it whole.

    I will say this – if you have any point at all, it is NOT applicable to 99.9999% of religious adherents. That puts it completely out of context of the original post, which is soundly founded on the basis of inductive logic. Also, you started off severely on the wrong foot. You’ve made unsubstantiated appeals to authority from your very first post on, among other things. We do not know you from Mickey Mouse. This is not well-liked on an atheist forum. It’s a surefire way to immediately relegate yourself to the camp of those with severe conflicts of interest.

     
  107. bbk

    January 28, 2008 at 7:24 pm

    When I say that the atheist position is solidly based on inductive logic, I want to make this very clear: it’s founded peer-reviewed, time-tested skeptical inquiry and experiment. The same way as the theory of evolution. The scientific method itself falls apart if you don’t allow for inductive reasoning.

    If you were to go onto a forum of biologists and insinuate that their claim that mammals come from a common ancestor is worthless because they need to study some more analytical philosophy, you would simply get laughed at. Simply, nobody really cares at that point. You’re making some sort of obfuscated philosophical argument about truth and knowledge while at the same time you seem to fail to understand simple induction. I’ll use my own inductive reasoning: you are wrong.

     
  108. CL

    January 28, 2008 at 9:11 pm

    @ BBK
    Re: Comments #109 & 110

    This is a really nice line, “The scientific method itself falls apart if you don’t allow for inductive reasoning.”

    I agree with that wholeheartedly.

    You say, “If you were to go onto a forum of biologists and insinuate that their claim that mammals come from a common ancestor is worthless because they need to study some more analytical philosophy, you would simply get laughed at.”

    I would sure hope so!

    As for the second half of that paragraph, “You’re making some sort of obfuscated philosophical argument about truth and knowledge while at the same time you seem to fail to understand simple induction. I’ll use my own inductive reasoning: you are wrong.”

    While I value your opinion, can you support it with the use of a specific argument or statement I actually made? For example, can you articulate exactly which principle of induction you seem to think I misunderstand? As my customary behavior in these posts is to admit mistakes upon their elucidation, I will do the same for you should you succeed.

    As for your other objections, my religious position doesn’t matter and changes often. By omitting to disclose my potential faith (or lack thereof), I invite the reader to assess the argument on the argument’s own merit – not the perceived merit of the person delivering the argument – which would be misuse of logic.

    I think you’re partially misled when you insinuate that I “…brought out Bible quotes as supporting evidence.” Trinity, however, DID bring out biblical dogma and threw it in everyone’s face on this thread in Comment #37. I’m remain perplexed as to why that goes perfectly unnoticed in this particular corner of the Atheoshpere, while a guy who appeals only to logic gets crucified.

    My reason for stating the quotes was to provide to Chaplain the Bible’s alleged reasoning for God’s omnipotence, in the context of the difficult-to-explain biblical admission that in fact not all are being saved. I quoted the Bible to provide the Bible’s definition of a term that Chap and I are trying to dissect, to further clarify the Calvinist / Wesleyan positions as expressed by Chaplain.

    To misconstrue this as support of Intelligent Design, as you do, is premature.

    To recapitulate, after first deeply complimenting Chaplain on her piece, which I stated I overwhelmingly agreed with in the balance, I took issue to the logical validity of 3, and only 3 claims she makes.

    In case you missed it, my logic-based argument has been against those same 3 statements for over 75 comments now:

    1. It is an “…underlying fact that theistic belief in any form is mistaken.” (WSBAR?, 4th paragraph)

    2. “Theistic conceptions of god as they are currently articulated are incoherent and logically impossible. That is objective fact, not subjective opinion.” (Comment #25)

    3. “[R]eligious beliefs are detrimental to believers and nonbelievers alike…” (WSBAR?, closing paragraph)

    My SOLE claim is that it is irresponsible to present subjective opinions as objective facts, and my claim stands. Being a scientist, surely you can appreciate the wisdom of not saying more than the results of a given experiment reasonably suggest. That logic extends to other systems based on inductive reasoning, humanities included. If you feel otherwise, I would love to hear your case.

    As for your “conflict of interest” concern, to repeat, I AM NOT attacking the atheist position. Reread my comments carefully and you’ll see.

    The only reason I even spoke to you at all was because you first took a shot at me, saying, “…anyone who would suggest referring people to Johnson, Behe, Dembski, and Denton as authorities on anything is in deep intellectual trouble from the get-go.”

    Although I may even agree with you, I actually DID NOT suggest referring anybody anywhere, but cautioned against it, opting instead that we all hold our own intellectually. After my initial rebuttal, Chaplain eschewed my argument by breaking the discourse and referring me to Drange, Andrew Moroz, and the others. I then replied that if she desired further discourse, that I wouldn’t “…sidestep a single of [Chaplain’s] arguments by pointing [her] to Henry Morris, William Dembski, Michael Behe, Michael Denton, etc.”

    So I CLEARLY did not REFER or even SUGGEST REFERRING anyone to anyone. I was speaking allegorically and it was essentially a pre-emptive promise to address her argument – not a reading suggestion. See the difference?

    CL

     
  109. the chaplain

    January 28, 2008 at 9:39 pm

    CL said in #111:
    In case you missed it, my logic-based argument has been against those same 3 statements for over 75 comments now:

    1. It is an “…underlying fact that theistic belief in any form is mistaken.” (WSBAR?, 4th paragraph)

    2. “Theistic conceptions of god as they are currently articulated are incoherent and logically impossible. That is objective fact, not subjective opinion.” (Comment #25)

    3. “[R]eligious beliefs are detrimental to believers and nonbelievers alike…” (WSBAR?, closing paragraph)

    I’ll take this really slowly because it appears that you neglected to read quite a few comments.

    I responded to #3 in the fifth paragraph of comment #25. Since you’ve invited me to revisit the question again, I’ll amend my response by replacing the word “religious” with the word “theistic.” The remainder of the comment stands as is.

    I responded to #1 & 2 in comments 31, 48, 49 and 55. Since they are lengthy comments, I suggest that that you scroll back up and read them this time around. Please note that, in comment #66, I corrected the references to Zwingli in #55. Simply replace Zwingli with Beza.

    Thus ends my contribution to this dialog. Have a nice evening.

     
  110. the chaplain

    January 28, 2008 at 9:57 pm

    Note to all my regular readers:

    Since An Apostate’s Chapel is a free-speech zone, I don’t censor conversations. Moreover, I don’t delete comments unless they’re spam or blatant ads.

    As it appears that CL is a troll, please note that I will not be responding to him any longer. I ask that you refrain from doing so, as well.

    Please don’t feed the Troll!

     
  111. CL

    January 28, 2008 at 9:57 pm

    @ Chaplain
    Re: Comment 112

    Thank you, sincerely, for not banning me from this dialog. I’m learning alot from it. I’ve been meaning to get back to you, but have spent much time addressing others.

    I’m not sure if you thought my Comment #112 was directed at you?? It wasn’t. I was speaking to BBK only in that one. Sorry if I was unclear.

    And I apologize for not noting the amended “theistic” to your Point #3. My forthcoming rebuttal takes that into consideration, for it IS a very important difference, as you note.

    Again, sorry about that.

    And I’m unsure why you mention Zwingli – when to my knowledge I never once objected to any reference of yours that contained that person’s name..?

    Best,

    CL

     
  112. CL

    January 28, 2008 at 10:01 pm

    @ Everyone
    Re: Comments #113 & #114

    If the progression seems odd, I actually wrote my Comment #114 and posted it before Chaplain’s Comment #113 went live.

    CL

     
  113. debbyo

    January 29, 2008 at 4:42 am

    If someone won’t state their position, is this a sign of deception or confusion? I work at a university and no one says, I’m a postmodernist or I’m a Marxist (although you can tell pretty quickly – the Marxists can write). Science doesn’t have major theoretical divisions like in the social sciences. You don’t have scientists at universities teaching astrology or distrusting each others’ methods for being too “positivistic”? So spare a thought for those of us who work in the social sciences. And, while it might not be significant to scientists what social scientists think of them, those views have had an enormous impact on people’s views of science – i.e. that it is just another dogma (like Scientology). From one field of study to another, for this – I extend my apologies, but at least you don’t have to work with woos every day.

     
  114. CL

    January 29, 2008 at 5:05 pm

    The Troll’s Last Hurrah.

    @ Chaplain:

    Thank you for cutting me off and asking the others to do the same, honestly. At last, I can explain without being interrupted by red herrings what was originally a minor disagreement with the logical validity of 3 statements, for anyone who really cares. (Probably no one, because many here seem interested in “defeating theism” as opposed to thinking reasonably and rationally)

    On a precursory note, I understand and appreciate that this is your personal blog, not a “graduate seminar” as you state in Comment #25. I appreciate the thoughtfulness of your latest responses. Since we’ve all endured this far, and as I have not had a chance yet to address your Comment #55 along with a few of the less-scholarly comments made by the others, please allow me only one rebut. Unfortunately, I’ll have to do it from the beginning, thoroughly, and at ad-nauseum length, to purge our initial discourse from the many red herrings introduced since my ill-fated Comment #22.

    First and foremost:

    A not-so-quick note about the now-infamous moniker, “Thanks for playing…”

    The first person I said, “Thanks for playing…” to, whom I suspect was speaking authentically, was Felicia Gilljam, in Comment #43, because in Felicia’s Comment #41 to “Trinity,” of whom I am suspicious of, Felicia spoke about me, not to me, and that without even introducing herself first.

    As for me, I try to treat the blogoshpere like an e-version of an actual, physical encounter in a closed room. Blogging can get heated; I tried to begin each comment to a new writer with the salutation of “Nice to meet you,” followed by some form of compliment if applicable. (On a side note, it’s sometimes thought of as rude to talk about or take cheapshots at someone who is in the room as if they are not, as I’ve noticed many people here seem to be perfectly okay with doing)

    But that’s the least part of the reason I said, “Thanks for playing…” to Felicia.

    As stated in Comment #47, I use the mildly sarcastic signature, “Thanks for playing…” when I feel somebody has treated the debate unprofessionally or unfairly. This also applies when someone makes a statement that is so blatantly incorrect, it makes you wonder if they in fact even take the debate seriously at all.

    I normally don’t care much when somebody violates a subjective social convention which considers it rude to talk about somebody in a room as if they are not there; but Felicia, aside from being borderline rude in the complete absence of even a “Hello,” showed total disregard for the professional nature of our initial discourse by introducing a red herring to yours-and-my already heated, complex discourse.

    Worse, by claiming that, “the bible was cobbled together by men who didn’t even live when Jesus presumably existed,” Felicia exposes possibly 1) her ignorance of history in general; or 2) her unfamiliarity with the time frames in which qualified scholars generally place the writing of the New Testament; or maybe even 3) her unfamiliarity with the time frames in which qualified scholars generally place Jesus’ presumed lifespan; or most likely, 4) her own lack of diligence in preparing a coherent argument relevant to the issue at hand, followed by one or both of possibilities 2 & 3.

    So given my stated motivation of saying, “Thanks for playing…” I really don’t feel saying it to Felicia was at all that rude considering the complete lack of seriousness with which Felicia treated what was supposed to be a serious discourse.

    Then, suddenly, mysteriously and erroneously, “Trinity,” who was previously non-existent on the thread, jumped down my throat, with a suspicious amount of spelling mistakes and Fundamentalist caricatures, “mistaking” my signature to Felicia as my signature to “Trinity,” when in fact my signature to “Trinity” was, “Best…” with a smiley face.

    Also perplexing is that “Trinity” can engage in blatant faulty reasoning while simultaneously waving the Bible in all of your faces, and aside from Felicia, not one of you takes issue with it. Then I come along, not waving the Bible, arguing that the Calvinist and Wesleyan conceptions of God are logically incoherent, raising a legitimate debate and speaking in defense of logic, and I’m the one that’s getting crucified. And you call yourselves atheists?

    Or is there something more childish going on that I don’t know about?? I see at least two possibilities regarding “Trinity” – some emotionally controlled Fundamentalist got served logically, or, more likely, folk(s) were dishonestly seeking to engage CL and divert the argument, which, technically IS a troll.

    Let’s all be adults here.

    Moving along:

    Here’s how this whole thing started. Let’s also try to visualize the physical-world equivalent of this exchange as it progresses.

    You were holding valid and persuasive discourse when I walked by. I introduced myself to you (and only you) as a first-time visitor with a heartfelt compliment, and said that in the balance I agreed with your discourse, even to the extent of saying the truths it contains were “…of the utmost importance to the advancement of humanity.”

    I meant that, and I still do.

    However, I took you to task on a few points and then supported Carol, who in Comment #15 suggested, “…a good course in analytic philosophy.” I then interjected a similar comment about the hard sciences, because I testify that I am in fact ready, willing and able to cite reasoning and evidence from the hard sciences that challenges, not the logic of your 3 statements, but one or more of your subsidiary claims made, particularly long-emerging evidence from quantum physics that suggests the very fabric of our universe operates almost identically to the principle of omnipresence.

    You ask, “How can one being be both completely separate from, yet thoroughly immersed in, to the point of living within individual believers’ souls, the universe? Again, these two traits are contradictory and cannot coexist coherently within one being.”

    The subatomic particles that result when atoms and atomic nuclei get fissioned display a peculiar characteristic known as “nonlocality,” and the strange ability to be at once corpuscle and wave. The original EPR experiment (Einstein, Boris Podolski, Nathan Rosen) shows conclusively that particles which at one time shared the same system of coordinates remain instantly and enduringly correlated.” (*Note the scientific use of the word correlated, NOT the general use) This nonlocality is completely irreverent of space-time, and it exists whether the time that separates the particles is measured in fractions of a second or billions of years of time, and it exists whether the particles are separated by millimeters or light-years of space.

    When you presuppose a First Cause, you are correct by saying that First Cause must exist outside the universe, because a First Cause cannot require any of the things that depend on it for their existence. Since science now generally claims the universe was at once a singularity, does it not stand to reason that every particle in our universe once shared the same system of coordinates and are thus correlated? (*Note the scientific use of the word correlated, NOT the general use)

    Does it not then stand to reason that IF some Intelligence created the universe, and since by default such an Intelligence MUST exist OUTSIDE the universe, that the Intelligence might remain correlated to the particles it created, i.e., that Intelligence would exhibit genuine principles of omnipresence?

    But science at this point is a peripheral issue, and I mean only to defend my original position.

    Now for the logic part:

    I then proceeded to cite a mere3 statements that I felt if given clarification or revision could strengthen your particular argument against religion:

    1. It is an “…underlying fact that theistic belief in any form is mistaken.” (WSBAR?, 4th paragraph)

    2. “Theistic conceptions of god as they are currently articulated are incoherent and logically impossible. That is objective fact, not subjective opinion.” (Comment #25)

    3. “[T]heistic beliefs are detrimental to believers and nonbelievers alike…” (WSBAR?, closing paragraph, as edited by you after my Comment #22)

    To which you responded, “Thanks for clarifying your question. I’ll offer just a few conceptions of God that are logically incoherent.”

    Thus the discourse commenced, and it is at this point I must re-assert:

    This is not a discussion about God!

    It is, however, a discussion about the logical validity of 3 statements that reference both religion and the idea of God.

    After my initial rebuttal (Comment #34), you replied, “Thanks for your close examination of my comment. Since I do not intend to devote huge chunks of my life to deconstructing theism, I will note that numerous writers have examined and explained, far more eloquently than I, the inconsistencies in current theistic conceptions of God. Rather than rehashing their arguments, I’ll direct you to a handful of sources.” (Comment #36)

    In doing so you eschewed my rebuttal. In the real-world setting, you basically told me, “Oh, I don’t really want to get into this…so please, excuse yourself, and go look at what these folks think.”

    You then said, “I’m guessing that you are committed to the position that some sort of theism is a coherent, reasonable position. I am familiar with an array of theistic propositions and I have simply found them unpersuasive. I do not intend to offend you, but you are not going to persuade me otherwise.”

    Aside from revealing both a pre-arrived conclusion and a partially closed mind, this is a red herring and diverts attention away from the logical cogency of your 3 statements as challenged. However, I’m glad you chose to return with thoughtful response in Comments #48, #49 and #55.

    Now, to address your redress:

    In the second paragraph of WSBAR? you said, “…acting on the basis of false beliefs can lead to ill-conceived, even harmful, behavior and decisions.”

    I, Socrates and anyone else in their right mind would likely agree.

    After supporting that claim rather eloquently, followed by the second and third problems you have with religious beliefs (which I also found to be persuasive and compelling; remember, I’ve already stated that I’m a fan of your writing and that I primarily agree with your piece, which could be interpreted as evidence suggesting the possibility I could possibly be like the rest of the folks here) you begin your closing statement by mentioning the “…fact that theistic beliefs are detrimental to believers and nonbelievers alike…”

    On the basis of your own words in WSBAR? and Comment #25, your reasoning follows:

    Theism as it is currently articulated is incoherent. As such, theistic belief in any form is mistaken. Because acting on the basis of false [or mistaken] beliefs can lead to ill-conceived, even harmful, behavior and decisions, theistic beliefs are detrimental to believers and non-believers alike. (brackets mine)

    Regarding your original premises as stated by you, you HAVE NOT in fact “offered sufficient grounds” that “theistic beliefs are detrimental to believers and non-believers alike” or for concluding that “theistic belief in any form is mistaken.”

    You HAVE in fact “offered sufficient grounds that theism as it is currently articulated, further specifically in the Calvinist / Wesleyan positions (ital. mine) is logically incoherent,” a point I readily agreed with in my Comment #34.

    Unfortunately, any logical incoherence in the Calvinist / Wesleyan position DOES NOT by default support the BROAD, FAR-REACHING conclusion that “theistic beliefs are detrimental to believers and nonbelievers alike,” or the BROAD, FAR-REACHING conclusion that “theistic belief in any form is mistaken.”

    Theistic conceptions of omnipotence, omnibenevolence, omniscience and omnipresence are expressed in many more ways than just the Calvinist / Wesleyan positions, and regarding the very first point of your initial defense, are you not clearly painting ALL conceptions of omnipotence and omnibenevolence with the already-pre-established false, Calvinist / Wesleyan conceptions? A better question is, Why did you choose to argue against a position you already determined to be logically incoherent? When you begin with false premises, can anything but falsehood result? Is it not possible that truer conceptions of omnipotence and omnibenevolence could exist than the ones stated in the Calvinist / Wesleyan traditions?

    Lifeguard picks up on this at the top of Comment #57, where he or she asks if I object to “…the Chaplain’s making a blanket statement without logically demolishing all possible conceptions…”

    That’s EXACTLY it.

    Since this all occurred in your “personal blog,” in Comment #25 you say, “…in the interests of not lulling readers to sleep with hair-splitting minutia, I will generally assume a less rigorous stance than I would in a professional forum.”

    That’s fine.

    Blatantly misinforming the (generally non-thinking) masses by presenting subjective opinions and false conclusions as objective fact is not.

    No offense intended, but your 3 statements to which I disagreed ARE in fact subjective opinions – not objective fact as you claim. They all contain presupposition and the either-or fallacy, which manifests in many forms but always forces the observer to make a choice based on limited options.

    And I’m glad you for you that I’ve been cut from the dialog. That absolves you of trying to refute a truly objective fact; that presenting subjective opinions and premature conclusions as objective fact is logically incorrect.

    Now I would certainly feel justified to leave it well alone here, but there are a few other important points you raise, most notably points from Comment #55.

    In Comment #55, you claim I was unaware that you were paraphrasing Calvinism / Wesleyanism from the outset of your defense, contending that you “…noted in #49 that one of [CL’s] counterclaims was based on a misrepresentation of what [Chaplain] actually said. In fact, not only is it not a valid counterclaim, it is actually an agreement with [Chaplain’s] point.” (brackets mine)

    This is simply untrue. See Comment #34, my response to your initial rebuttal, where I CLEARLY state, “While I realize you are PARAPHRASING the reformed Calvinist position, I do not think the conclusion…flows logically.” (emph. mine)

    So we see I actually began my reply to your rebuttal by, 1) Recognizing you were in fact paraphrasing the Calvinist position; and, 2) Affirming that I thought the Calvinist position was in fact bunk. As regards this point, I’ve been in agreement with you from the outset, and I even attempted to clarify the logical incoherence of the Calvinist position further by explaining that, “…the moment one posits that an omnipotent being’s will can be thwarted by anything other than that omnipotent being’s own volition, one is no longer discussing an omnipotent being.” (Comment #34)

    So you inaccurately perceive my defense of your own argument as a “counterclaim.” I apologize if I was unclear.

    Also in Comment #55 you say that I “…went into a long digression [did you mean dissection?] of Epicurus’ argument and noted that he only exhausted 3 of at least 9 possible arguments.”

    That’s true.

    You continue, “Well, until the first three arguments were countered successfully, there was no need for him to go any further.”

    It is here you are perhaps most badly misled about the nature of analytic logic. The quintessential fact that other valid options exist at all in the first place at least temporarily counters Epicurus’ position, which contains the either-or fallacy, which manifests in different forms but always forces the observer to make a choice based on limited options.

    Continuing in that same paragraph, you say that I am “…displeased because…Epicurus cut the argument short.” That’s correct. To cut an argument short by stacking the deck with a limited number of valid options when it can be demonstrated that other valid options exist is to limit the ability of another human being to effectively apprehend truth. I’m pretty sure that’s big logical, ethical and philosophical no-no.

    Then you speculate that I am “…equally displeased that Drange drew [the Epicurean argument] out to the point of what [CL] perceives as redundancy.”

    Sorry, but that’s absolutely baseless. You never asked me to explain where I felt Drange to be redundant, and in fact what I perceive as redundancy in some of Drange’s work has absolutely nothing to do with the manner in which Drange approaches the Epicurean dilemma. Interestingly, you then conclude this line of reasoning by saying MY standards of argument “…appear to be inconsistent,” after YOU took the liberty of stating my problem with Drange for me.

    May I ask politely, do you think it’s fair to accuse me of inconsistency in my standards of argument when it was in fact YOU who introduced an inconsistent argument on my behalf?

    Next in Comment #55, you posit, “that theists cannot agree among themselves about God’s nature, about the means by which he intercedes in the world, about what his will for the world is, about what his criteria are for determining salvation, about the means by which salvation is attained, about whether there is an afterlife, about whether resurrection is bodily or spiritual, etc., is sufficient grounds to claim incoherence.” (ital. mine)

    That’s incorrect.

    No matter what the premise, disagreement is NEVER sufficient grounds to claim incoherence. Disagreement IS, however, sufficient grounds to claim that, exactly as you do, “…theists cannot agree among themselves about God’s nature, about the means by which he intercedes in the world, about what his will for the world is, about what his criteria are for determining salvation, about the means by which salvation is attained, about whether there is an afterlife, about whether resurrection is bodily or spiritual, etc.”

    See the difference? That people disagree about the dynamics of some premise is not sufficient grounds to dismiss the premise itself as incoherent by default.

    A real world coincidence:

    Ironically, seconds after my first post here, the ill-fated Comment #22, I happened to run into a guy I admire who’s also a published writer, and a musician, a guy we’ll call “J.” I happened to catch J in mid-conversation with a girl we work with, whose also a published writer. Together they asked me if I had any comments about their conversation.

    “No…” I said. “I was just reading and posting comments to some blog. So I’m all out of comment power for now…” I continued.

    “What about?” the girl asked.

    I didn’t want to answer.

    She demanded I explain more.

    I briefly explained my stance, told them what the blog was all about, and that I really only disagreed with Chaplain’s stating as objective fact her subjective opinion that “…theistic beliefs are detrimental to believers and non-believers.”

    That’s when J, a non-believer, whom I wasn’t even addressing, interrupted me.

    “Whoa, that’s some weird synchronicity…” he said. “A friend and I were just talking about another friend who recently had a massive stroke and heart attack, who told us his religious belief helped him through it.”

    J noted that his religious friend derived strength and the will to survive from his faith, and that he made a faster than usual recovery. J then stated that his friend’s faith inspired J further along the search for “something,” as he put it.

    I know it is standard in atheist circles to discount such stories, and it is not my intent to argue for or against the placebo effect, the alleged scientific evidence for the power of prayer, etc., but in real life where we all live, not the laboratory, that can hardly be called detrimental. What’s interesting about this is that we find a bona fide example of theistic belief simultaneously benefitting both an somebody with no prior commitment to anything (which is very close to the standard atheist position), and a theist.

    Getting closer to the end:

    Earlier in the thread you took aim with me for suggesting the more logically valid way to state your claim might be, “FALSE beliefs, theistic or not, are detrimental to believers and non-believers alike.” A few other commenters supported this notion, notably Scott Thong.

    In WSBAR? I really like your line of reasoning about how “…believers do not live in vacuums” and that “…their beliefs are not always private and those beliefs do affect others.”

    I couldn’t agree more with this. I ask you to extend your line of reasoning further, to lines of belief that are not necessarily religious. Can a scientist’s beliefs also affect others? What if those beliefs are not only false, but state-sanctioned? Have you considered the fact that real damage can be done to science and the children in our public education system when teachers and professors are allowed and even encouraged to promote atheism, when in fact an objective delivery of facts and observations is the essential thrust of science?

    For example, when two esteemed biology textbook writers blatantly misinform American schoolchildren about the veriform appendix in the face of contradictory evidence from the study of nutrition, for no other reason than their own biased, prior commitment to classical Darwinian gradualism, (not PE) which evidence from nearly every field of science including biology, genetics and paleontology has utterly demolished?

    For another example, how would you feel if you were a believer of some religion or deism or whatever, and your child’s high school biology teacher mistakenly told your child that conclusive evidence exists showing that life can arise spontaneously under the right conditions, and that the Miller experiment proved it? How would you feel if you knew that everything the teacher told your child about the Miller experiment, solely on account of his prior commitment to atheism, was wrong?

    You said, “…[CL’s] claim that [Chaplain] should have said that “false beliefs are detrimental to humanity” is [CL’s] stylistic preference, not a grammatical or linguistic or logical correction.”

    And to this I rebut, with the above bona fide support, your claim that “…there is nothing wrong with [Chaplain’s] statement as [Chaplain] wrote it other than the fact that [CL] doesn’t like it,” or that “…both of our statements are logically equivalent.”

    Hence my skepticism and “annoying” attention to detail, both in life in general and the context of this thread.

    For further thought:

    The level of selective emphasis in this thread worries me because it is the same selective emphasis religious extremists continually use in their refusals of fact. It’s ironic that I’ve illuminated upwards of THREE DOZEN (count them) legitimate errors on this thread, errors that nobody else even bothered to address because they were too focused on me.

    Chaplain – it’s also an example of selective emphasis that you take me to task for my questionable use of “Thanks for playing…”, yet utter not a single word when The Exterminator, with no cordial introduction or provocation from myself, insults me both indirectly and outright, referring to me in the third person as if I was not there, as “some blowhard on strike.”

    Although I disagree with your troll comment, I do think it applies a bit more fairly to the mysterious (un?)holy “Trinity.”

    The 85 or so essays historians refer to as The Federalist Papers were written primarily by Alexander Hamilton in the late eighteenth century, and the importance of the opening quote for this work cannot be overstated:

    “[W]e, upon many occasions, see wise and good men on the wrong as well as on the right side of questions of the first magnitude to society. This circumstance, if duly attended to, would furnish a lesson of moderation to those who are ever so persuaded of their being right in any controversy…”

    No isms.
    Think Freely.

    C. Charles Long
    Author, Screenwriter, Publisher
    Member, Writers Guild of America, West.

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

    ADDENDUM** I initially came here, supportive of your essay which I liked and stated I agreed with immensely, a bit argumentative of course, but paying genuine compliments with valid ideas and legitimate discourse – and the common decency to introduce myself to someone before spouting off my two cents at them.

    And this applies mainly to PhillyChief who leveled a borderline ad hominem and then tried to lie and cover it up instead of manning up and admitting it like I did for my similar blunder, to The Exterminator for plain talking smack about me even on his own website, to RBH who took me out of context, put words in my mouth and then took a cheapshot on top of that, and to Felicia who put words in my mouth…if you so-called “freethinkers” wanna cling around in some pseudo-atheist, quasi-intellectual, closed-minded little huddle, writing posts replete with faulty logic and unforgivable ignorance of history, the Hebrew scriptures you allegedly oppose, analytic philosophy, science and who knows what else, and THEN have the audacity to denigrate me because I’m on strike, or because I skateboard, or by calling me a “blowhard” or a “provocateur,” or a troll, or because I didn’t wear some silly little badge that says, I’m an Atheist!…albeit pretty amateur and kindergarten-ish, that’s all perfectly fine with me.

    After all, it’s all in good fun, right?

    Just don’t say that facts or logic support it, because as pertaining to the 3 original qualms I stated – I have successfully demonstrated that they don’t.

    Oh, and by the way, I wasn’t writing “another movie about skateboarding with a better vocabulary,” as childishly charged by The Exterminator. If one looks at my blog for something noteworthy or constructive (as opposed to mere fodder for inflammatory remarks like The Exterminator did with this skateboard-movie crack), you’ll notice mention of WGA West.

    Part of the reason I visited your blog at all had to do with preliminary research I’m doing for an interesting, non-Guild project some industry colleagues and I happen to be currently developing in conjunction with representation from academia. In essence, we’ve been surveying An Apostate’s Chapel to see if it fit the premise of the show, not to be a “provocateur” as I was labeled by debbyo in Comment #68, or “…to blow wind up your ass” as I was accused by The Exterminator in Comment #58, nor was my intent to “…toy with you” or anyone else as you posit in your subsequent response, Comment #59. Anybody in here who wanted it was potentially on payroll for the purpose of simple interviews lasting a duration of 13-weeks for an experimental television / internet project funded through a legitimate 501(c)3 organization.

    If anyone feels it to be unfair that part of my motivation in engaging the blog contained a veiled, ulterior motive, please consider the nature of the project. The show “Candid Camera” could not be candid if people knew they were being filmed. Similarly, this discourse could not have been truly organic had everybody known the backstory from the getgo. For example, PhillyChief and The Exterminator may have acted more maturely.

    The premise of the show, which is to be educational, seeks to showcase among other things, “Interesting and compelling electronic sources of cogent philosophical, logical and societal debate…”

    Since with a few excepting comments we did not find that here in An Apostate’s Chapel, it’s time to move on, but we may definitely consider showcasing the poor logic we found here. (with all names and sources changed to protect the guilty of course)

    To paraphrase you one last time, Chaplain, “Thus ends my contribution to [The Atheist’s Sandbox]. Have a nice [afternoon].” (Comment #112, brackets mine)

    The show, coincidentally, is tentatively titled, “Thanks For Playing.”

    CL

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

    Let this be our mastiff: “Sagan quote”

    Any decent parent knows that the true test of a child’s moral character is what that child does while under the impression that no one is watching.

    At BBK:

    I only wish you could see that all origin of life theories have significant flaws and none are as scientifically robust as their proponents claim, especially unguided, orthodox, atheistic evolution.

    **********

    On a random note:

    A few paragraphs ago I asked, “Is it not possible that truer conceptions of omnipotence and omnibenevolence could exist?” I believe they can be delivered, but like Chazz Palminteri’s character Sonny tells C in A Bronx Tale, “Nobody cares…”

    *Note that in this brief example, the intent is not to persuade you, only to justify my claim to whoever might actually care, again, a good chance no one. I heard you loud and clear when you stated, “I am familiar with an array of theistic propositions and I have simply found them unpersuasive. I do not intend to offend you, but you are not going to persuade me otherwise.” Only fools and proselytizers embark on such errors.

    The short and sweet version that violates no logic is this:

    The word benevolent translates linguistically to denoting characteristics “of benefit…” An omnibenevolent being is one that always acts “of benefit,” and we can assume by logic such an omnibenevolent being would extend its omnibenevolence to its creation if it had one.

    The word omnipotent, for all intents and purposes, is probably best defined by the good ‘ole standard, “all powerful,” as in able to do anything.

    The argument is, if

    In Comment #48 you ask, (paraphrasing my Comment #??????? “If God is willing to suspend his/her/its will for fellowship with humankind and allow humankind to make that choice, then why does God punish humankind for making the choice he/she/it doesn’t like?”

    First allow me to begin with a true premise about omnibenevolence.

    Reasoning from logic would contend that genuine omnibenevolence cannot originate any action that is not benevolent.

    Though Webster’s also defines benevolent as “kindly,” any good parent can testify that that behavior that is “of benefit” is not always pleasant or comfortable.

    Furthermore, I’m unsure as to whether I feel this would apply in the temporal. I don’t see much of a problem with the idea that an omnibenevolent God could (cause or allow?) another organism to feel p

    Here again lies another error of logic, or possibly the dictionary definition of punish as, “. To punish means to take a proactive stance. I believe if any form of omnibenevolent God does exist, the moment that God proactively undertakes an action that will cause pain to another form of life, we are no longer discussing an omnibenevolent God.

    Hoever to allow does not.

    You then say, “Since there are heavy penalties for making the choice that God does not prefer, the alleged suspension of his/her/its will is superficial. Does this not strike you as contradictory? What God really is saying is, “I’ll let you have free will as long as you use it the way I want you to use it. But you have to do it my way, or else.”

    The God in the Bible says, “Damn it you hardheads, please…the only way we can have the Kingdom is people comply. So

    Refusing an offer

    In Comment #48, still paraphrasing premises we’ve already agreed to be false, you state that “What God really is saying is, I’ll let you have free will as long as you use it the way I want you to use it. But you have to do it my way, or else.” The minute you put a conditional demand on free will, we are no longer discussing free will.

    What God says in the Bible is, “I’ll give people free will. WhiI want people to use it the way I want

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

     
  115. CL

    January 29, 2008 at 5:39 pm

    Seems I made yet one final mistake – my undeveloped arguments about what the Bible actually says about God’s qualities, as expressed by my poorly spelled and unarticulate ramblings in everything under,

    “The show, coincidentally, is tentatively titled, “Thanks For Playing, CL”

    somehow made their way onto the thread…damn “select all” command

     
  116. CL

    January 29, 2008 at 7:14 pm

    ADDENDUM to the religious –

    I apologize for being so stupid as to post notes as Commentary (the last paragraphs of post 118) I realize no one probably cares, but I feel obligated to state publicly I didn’t mean to degrade anyone’s holy book by stating, “The God in the Bible says, ‘Damn it you hardheads, please…the only way we can have the Kingdom is people comply. So”

    That was really, really an unprofessional and stupid mistake on my behalf, and I warmly invite anyone to roast me eternally for it – it’s deserved.

    Best to all.
    CL

     
  117. Kagehi

    January 29, 2008 at 10:33 pm

    Ok, while obviously a troll, I can’t let this stand:

    “Worse, by claiming that, “the bible was cobbled together by men who didn’t even live when Jesus presumably existed,” Felicia exposes possibly 1) her ignorance of history in general; or 2) her unfamiliarity with the time frames in which qualified scholars generally place the writing of the New Testament; or maybe even 3) her unfamiliarity with the time frames in which qualified scholars generally place Jesus’ presumed lifespan; or most likely, 4) her own lack of diligence in preparing a coherent argument relevant to the issue at hand, followed by one or both of possibilities 2 & 3.”

    1. I rather doubt this is her “problem”.
    2. You seem more likely to have problems with this than she does. The reason it simply this. When you place a time frame on when certain parts where written you get:

    50+ year *after* the fact, someone named John writes the *first* section of the NT, then claims in a letter that he *actually* wrote it all years prior, so it is actually a direct statement of events. There is no record of his writing *prior* to this time frame, at all, despite them looking *everyplace* for some sign of it, and there is no proof that he told the truth in the letter about when he *did* write it.

    Second problem is, the other people who wrote parts of it where *known* to be in their twenties, so couldn’t have been alive 20-30 years prior, unless they where like 6 years old, or something. Basically, they couldn’t have known him, or if they had, they wouldn’t have been old enough to a) remember or b) been disciples. At least one of them *admits* he didn’t personally know Jesus, but instead claims to have received all of *his* writings via telepathy, or some BS. Most *modern* scholars think it was mostly made up, that it was cobbled together from multiple sources, that if a real Jesus existed at all, his deeds had to be drastically inflated, and that there isn’t really any good evidence, despite nearly 300 or more years of archeology, to imply that he was real at all.

    The only way you possible get, the implication that “qualified scholars” would disagree with any of that is by defining “qualified” as, “People that insist it had to have happened, ignore the lack of evidence, and focus on the bits and pieces of carefully hand picked bits of stuff that *would* support the idea that it was written about a real person, once you get rid of, sweep under the carpet, deny, or just flat out ignore the stuff that implies the opposite”. Or, to put it another way, “qualified”, in this case is the equivalent of finding, “qualified experts on UFO phenomena”, by talking to people that sit at the edge of area 51 trying to take pictures of alien landings, while ignoring photograph experts, weather experts, aircraft experts, physics experts, etc.

    No, your unprofessional and stupid mistake was in assuming that you could drop in, make blind assertions about how someone made errors, then presumed that **you** didn’t have to provide support for what those errors where. You then proceeded to do what we always see from people who don’t have facts to support their positions. You just went on to repeat the same accusations, over and over, without providing any actually factual basis for supporting your own complaints.

    If you had shown up and insisted that our definition of “warm” was wrong, but failed to mention that you lived at the north pole, but simply ***insisted*** that our definitions *had to be* wrong, because they didn’t fit yours, it would be the same thing. In that case, all you would have had to do is state *why* you thought that 20 degrees F was “warm”. You couldn’t even manage the equivalent of that. And, when you finally did come up with something, it was to accuse people that have, in my experience, often read more bibles, more histories “on” the bible, and just history in general, and more other religious texts from around the world, than you ever will in your life time, that one of them, “didn’t have a clue about history, never mind biblical history”. That’s not even ironic, its just a flat out insult to most of the people here.

    This however “will be” the last thing I post to him. Unless, by some miracle, he acknowledges that he has been an ass, hasn’t bothered to support his assertions, didn’t read/comprehend the explanations given for why those three issues he had where not issues, and/or can provide some grounds for supporting any of those contentions. I am not going to be holding my breath in anticipation.

     
  118. bbk

    January 29, 2008 at 11:57 pm

    debbyo RE: 116

    I presume your comment was in response to mine. I tried to make it abundantly clear that I draw a distinction between refraining from stating one’s position in the sciences when it is not relevant to the presentation of one’s work – and here, where we are having a debate.

    I also made no requirement for anyone to pigeon-hole themselves into a particular inflexible dogma. First off, let me say up front that atheism is far from anything so ideological as Marxism or post-modernism that one should feel inhibited by identifying themselves as such. But that’s neither here nor there. My point was that within the context of debate, your position is what you are trying to prove. Even within the confines of any scientific findings, it’s common courtesy to state your hypothesis. It is a ridiculously simple courtesy to help both sides to get their footing.

    CL failed to meet this basic courtesy in his posts. In fact, judging from some what some of the responses to his posts have picked up on, CL has revealed a lot of Christian apologetics in his comments. That gives us an idea of what he is trying to prove by posting here and gives us further evidence that he is a troll trying his very best to muddle the conversation for those of us who want to move on with it.

     
  119. bbk

    January 30, 2008 at 12:22 am

    Let me put it another way – constructive criticism.

    The problem with saying “you suck” is that we can’t tell if it implies “if you’re going to be a figure skater, you have to practice more” or if it implies “you should give up on being a figure skater altogether.”

    Here, the courtesy is for the critic to reveal his position so that the ballerina can make an informed decision on how to respond. This doesn’t mean her critic has to identify himself as a hockey fan. Chances are, though, that if the figure skater is performing at a hockey game, some people would just yell “You suck!” The figure skater would have to infer on her own what the position of her critics are by identifying them as drunken hockey fans.

    For CL, this would mean that he should have provided us with enough of his position to let us determine what he wants – does he want to help us attain a more robust understanding of atheism, or does he want to refute atheism altogether? It turns out that we had to infer from his posts that he’s largely interested in defending religion – not by helping us build a more robust atheist view, but by inserting long pointless diatribes that can be perceived as trolling.

     
  120. bbk

    January 30, 2008 at 12:34 am

    debbyo – By the way, I think I came of sounding like a lecture. I didn’t mean to. I just meant to tone down my earlier comments by giving better examples, instead. Lecture only applies to our troll :)

    (And I realize I dropped ballerina instead of figure skater in there by accident.)

    I think by giving a better example of what I meant, I made enough of an allotment to cover your concern?

     
  121. debbyo

    January 30, 2008 at 1:23 am

    CL, sometime you just have to admit when you’re out of your league. I’m often out of my league – when I sing along with my more musical friends; when I try any sport that has equipment (can’t bat, can’t bowl), when I discuss anything about computers with my 16 year old son (or about science, for that matter), when I discuss history with my Marxists mate, the list is endless. What I think I do well (at least, I hope) is: knowing my limitations. I would no more argue quantum physics with anyone (let alone a scientist!) than step into a boxing ring with Mohammed Ali (even now). Sometimes a long-held belief of mine is blown out of the water by information I didn’t know before. These are my favourite moments. When people better-informed than me challenge my preconceptions I become smarter. I learn. That’s why I love blogs like this. If you haven’t recognised the quality of the debate here or haven’t grabbed the opportunity to have one of those moments, then it’s sadly your loss.

     
  122. debbyo

    January 30, 2008 at 1:49 am

    Bbk,

    Yes, I agree, that it seemed ridiculous for CL not to state his position (and I think whoever thought he sounded ID was on the money). I just wondered whether this was motivated by deception – or confusion (CL admits to changing his beliefs often). I also never meant to imply that atheism is a dogma like Marxism or post-modernism, but rather that these kinds of dogmas (particularly post-modernism) may have been partly responsible for the low esteem in which some of your visitors hold scientific thinking. If one view is as good as another, then why can’t my crazy little idea be just as good as Einstein’s (after all, everyone thought he was crazy, too). I couldn’t agree with you more on C.L. I think I congratulated you earlier on your patience

     
  123. debbyo

    January 30, 2008 at 2:03 am

    Bbk,

    Also, thank you for your considered response to my post – which was partly a lame joke about how lucky you are to work with scientists, while (poor me) has to work with social scientists. I won’t give up my day job.

     
  124. bbk

    January 30, 2008 at 10:14 am

    There’s really just 1 reason why I bothered to respond to CL. I’ve seen lots of Christian tracts make references to obscure Christian intellectuals whose arguments are so ship tight that no atheist is willing to confront them. I realize that CL’s approach is actually just a less common style of apologetics, and as atheists we need to make sure that someone like CL and any Christian readers of this blog don’t come away from here with the perception that the atheists caved in or were incapable of responding.

    I’m sure that a lot of Christians who find CL incomprehensible at times and don’t even bother reading him themselves will come away with an assumption that CL is that sort of rare intellectual theist who can prove that gods exist. And that’s how those inane rumors about the feared xian intellectuals start… I want to make sure that he himself knows that I see through his strategy, so he doesn’t come away from here thinking that we relented to him.

     
  125. the chaplain

    January 30, 2008 at 11:16 am

    BBK – thanks for your comments, all of which were helpful.

    Your reference to “obscure Christian intellectuals whose arguments are so ship tight that no atheist is willing to confront them” is intriguing.

    Why are the arguments ship tight? Are they based on presuppositions and enthymemes that are difficult to uncover, let alone counter? In that case, the tightness would be illusionary rather than real. Nevertheless, the illusion may be all that’s needed to squelch arguments before they begin.

    Or, are the arguments ship tight within a closed system of thought (but susceptible to out-of-system propositions that don’t stay within the boundaries that theists will naturally want to impose)? I’ve noticed that some apologists’ arguments look nice and tidy as long as one accepts, without question, their proposed premises. The arguments often fall apart, however, if one either introduces a premise that does not fit into the framework of the initial syllogism or opposes one or more of their premises.

    I’m interested in any insights you can share about this.

     
  126. bbk

    January 30, 2008 at 11:39 am

    I’m just saying – it’s a legend. The ship tight Christian apology. Kind of like the Wandering Jew.

     
  127. ildi

    January 30, 2008 at 6:24 pm

    I’m brand-spanking new here, and I know you said not to feed the troll, and I know I’m a day late and a $ short, but I just couldn’t wade through CL’s “War and Peas” response last night.

    So, I read as much as I could tonight, and my BS meter first went off when I saw references to quantum physics as possible proof of a god. Then I got to the point about how this whole thing is a send-up for some cool punked show on societal debate. But, oh, nos! People are just not logical or mature enough here!

    Then I cut to the chase and went to Cl’s web site. You may or may not find it amusing that CL uncritically reports the 1907 research of Duncan MacDougall’s “21 gram” experiment proving the existence of a soul.

    nuff said.

     
  128. the chaplain

    January 30, 2008 at 6:49 pm

    Ildi:
    Thanks for dropping in. Many kudos to you for wading through the dissertation. ;)

     
  129. Kagehi

    January 30, 2008 at 11:04 pm

    Personally, I think someone needs to smack the people that came up with terminology in quantum physics in the head *hard*. I just came from another post where some clown was making a similar argument about uncertainty and our observations changing the results. The moron that opted for “observer” as a description of what causes the change must have suffered and stroke just before suggesting it. In reality, it means *any* particle, object, etc. that bumps the quantum particle hard enough to cause its state to collapse. It has jack to do with “conscious” observation. When we “observe” the result, the state has already changed because we turned on the damn light switch to look, not because something like the reverse path vision thing the Greeks thought worked causes some psychic thought “force” to jump across the room from your head, hit the particle, and cause it to change state. By the time we *see* it, or our instruments *measure* it, all we are doing is forensics on the crime scene. That you can stage a crime scene, such that the particle reaches the state you *want*, doesn’t change the fact that its was Prof. Plum in the Lab with a Flashlight (or possible the fly he swung it at, thus cause the beam to go some place he didn’t plan), not Ms. White with an Electron Microscope in the Observation Room which *caused* it.

    I get real tired of people that barely have a clue what quantum physics “is”, let alone how it works, getting this basic thing wrong, and thinking the God is hiding some place in between particles going, “oooh! oooh! There, someone just observed it! Now I need to change its state!”, or the even more idiotic idea that some universal consciousness “makes” the state change the moment some human decides to “see” what the state is.

    Sigh…

     
  130. the chaplain

    January 31, 2008 at 12:42 am

    I don’t know anything about quantum physics and its terminology. I know Dawkins gets frustrated when scientists use careless metaphors that refer to spirituality, god’s mind, etc. He’s got a point. Religionists jump on the metaphors like flies on fruit and then use the scientists’ words to bolster their metaphysics.

     
  131. Tom White

    February 11, 2008 at 2:16 pm

    I don’t want to apologize for religious extremists in any way, but not all religionists are either believers or extremists. I agree completely with your three criticism, but please realize that there are religions, such as Taoism and Buddhism, that agree with you as well. To take an extremist standpoint in criticizing extremism does not resolve anything, it just makes it worse, in my experience.

     
    • Frustrated

      September 26, 2010 at 6:44 pm

      Wow, it always amazes me that when I find a site where people are discussing religion there are those who have college degrees in everything and get out the big guns (words) that the average person cannot even begin to understand. So I’ll just say that I know that there are things wrong with religious beliefs and I typed, “What is wrong with religion” into Google, so, here I am.

      I am not saying that big guns are bad. It’s just so over my head.

      I have been quite frustrated with society lately and my family’s beliefs in religion. I have searched for answers as to why any person can pick up a book and say, “This is God’s word.” It inevitabely turns out that if you are a doubter, then you are either shunned, or asked to leave the table before you get to eat.

      The truth may be that we simply don’t exist and that we are all figments of our own imagination. I’d like to hear Chaplain’s words on how we can exist.

      My personal belief is not of some Big Man in the Sky who’s going to reach down and take us to heaven nor some Evil Man with horns and a tail who’s going to take us down to hell in the earth.

      That said, I’m not a complete atheist. I just can’t help but believe that “something” causes us to exist. But I don’t know what. And I feel that if we exist once, we can exist again, in some other form. We are energy, correct? And energy cannot be destroyed or can it?

      Lately, watching the politicians with their religious leaders at their sides has become very annoying. Accidentally turning on the Christian channel on television, I see a huge conference of people from all over the world, watching. A woman in pink/purple hair is leading the conference. She is Dolly Parton on steroids and her drug of choice is this thing called, “God.” There is a group of people standing behind her and they are all just as strange as she is. The whole event is quite a display, like something I once saw in a scary movie. I change the channel to watch history and again, more religion.

      Why are people so illogical? Why can’t they see that religion has mainly been a bad thing over time and that it is man-made not God-made? And that those who claim to be tortured Christians are actually the torturers?

      ARGH!! A person can go on and on and on and on. I just needed to get it out of my system. I may be back. This is an interesting place. :)

       

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