William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

The Crybaby Fallacy (Which Atheists Often Use)

Possibly Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennet, that Pharnguligula fellow, Bill Maher, and a certain reader.

Possibly Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennet, that Pharnguligula fellow, Bill Maher, and a certain reader.

Many atheists are notorious for arguing from desire. (Be ever careful of the So’s-Yer-Old-Man Fallacy.) God doesn’t exist, they say or imply, because He’s a big meanie, because His demands are onerous, or because the atheist would rather not follow some “ancient” or “medieval” rule.

Take as a mild for instance this snippet from a review of the book Battling the Gods: Atheism in the Ancient World by Tim Whitmarsh, penned by Rebecca Newberger Goldstein:

The philosopher Sydney Morgenbesser, beloved by generations of Columbia University students (including me), was known for lines of wit that yielded nuggets of insight. He kept up his instructive shtick until the end, remarking to a colleague shortly before he died: ‘Why is God making me suffer so much? Just because I don’t believe in him?’ For Morgenbesser, nothing worth pondering, including disbelief, could be entirely de-­paradoxed.

A more common form is this: “Why would I want to believe in a God that would send me to Hell for not believing in him?” Comedian Gilbert Gottfried built a (let us call it) joke which conforms to it which he calls “Jesus’s Theory”, and which goes like this: “I was talking to Jesus, and I said, ‘Jesus, I feel like no one will ever accept me.’ And Jesus looked at me and said, ‘You know what my theory is? Accept me or go to hell.'” I have seen him deliver a variant of this jest where he received not so much laughter, but a sturdy approving round of hoots and applause. This quip resonates—with just whom and why, we’ll see in a moment.

Another popular thrust is to directly disparage the notion of Hell. It’s easy to find examples. Hell, says one atheist, is one of the “cruelest of all concentration camps” and that it is “Certainly far worse than the ones created by the Nazis.” Conclusion? “[T]he existence of hell paints the Christian God as not fit for worshiping.”

Many know of atheism’s chief proselytizer Richard Dawkins’s antipathy. In the The God Delusion he said:

The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

Therefore, implies Dawkins, God doesn’t exist.

The most popular version of all, used by non-serious atheists (agnostics, the uneducated, etc.), comprising the largest group of all, are variations on “I am a nice person.” Are you indeed. To the quarter- or non-trained atheist that he or she is “generally good” or kind or (the treacly) nice is proof enough that God doesn’t exist; or rather, is not worth thinking or worrying about.

Another name for this general argument for atheism is adolescent petulance, or, more formally, the Crybaby Fallacy. If God does not exist, there is no point—it is irrational—to (endlessly) say you don’t believe in Him because of what He does or doesn’t do or because of what He does or doesn’t require of His followers. Why? Because He doesn’t exist and therefore cannot require anything, least of all obedience! Nothing can demand nothing. And if God does exist, it is not merely silly, but asinine to go on and on about how aggrieved or burdened you are over the minimal, really the most trivial, and eminently rational, requirement to acknowledge His existence. It is rational because He exists. To not acknowledge His existence when He exists is the height (or really depth) of irrationality.

The Crybaby Fallacy is the same found in children the world over who rail and rant after being told “Because I said so” by their fathers. Many children think this reason insufficient justification for their tasks and therefore grumble, to themselves more than to anybody else, that the requirement is cruel or unnecessary because they cannot comprehend its necessity. They disbelieve in their fathers’ authority because they would prefer not to shoulder their burden. But even children don’t fall into the folly of saying, “My dad doesn’t exist because he wants me to take out the trash.” Or rather, only a minority of children think this way, wandering in the trenches of misery whether they were adopted.

The voracious god Quetzalcoatl, the Aztecs said, demanded human bodies for his supper. His priests saw to it that he was not stinted in his meals. The god Huitzilopochtli enjoyed having the beating hearts ripped out of his victims. And there are many more examples of such brutality from the world over and through history. Funny thing about these examples are their similarities. The Aztecs, for instance, “Before and during the killing, priests and audience (who gathered in the plaza below) stabbed, pierced and bled themselves as autosacrifice”. The bled their sacrificial victims, too, in the most gruesome manner. And we recall the story of how Elijah teased the priests of Baal, the god who could not, in the presence of Elijah, start a simple fire: “When it was noon, Elijah taunted them: `Call louder, for he is a god; he may be busy doing his business, or may be on a journey. Perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.’ They called out louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears according to their ritual until blood gushed over them.” Curious, no? Let that pass for now. These days, few people believe in the Aztec gods or Baal (those who do the systematic killing at Planned Parenthood may be an exception in the latter case). Why?

The reason is complex and beyond this small article, but basically it’s this: those that have abandoned the old gods believe in something else. They do this not because they have any proof of the non-existence of these minor deities, such proof being impossible in most cases to get, but because they have discovered their new belief to be superior and better supported. For instance, Our Lady of Guadalupe accounts for the flight from the gods to God in the case of the Aztecs, a move which did not so much take leave of the old gods, but gave them new explanations. Others more recently mistakenly worship (in the loosest possible sense of this word) Science, a system so weak that it can’t even explain itself.

It is not a conclusive argument against the existence of any god that he requires human sacrifice, nor is it sound argument against God that He requires acknowledgement (He actually only requires accepting a free, no-strings-attached, eternally rewarding gift). It is not a conclusive argument against the existence of any deity that what the deity requires is repugnant, strange, or even illogical or impossible. If the god does not exist, it cannot ask for anything. But if the god really does exist, what it asks for is what it asks for. If it asks for the illogical or impossible, it could just be that that this simple god has a poor sense of humor. He is a god, after all, and can do what he likes. The Greeks knew this well. And consider we do not say modern university professors do not exist because what many of them say or require is absurd (right, JH?).

How is the Crybaby normall rebutted? Well, it’s an obvious fallacy, so it doesn’t need rebutting, but words of a certain sort are usually found. In children, it’s the father telling the kid to suck it up, that life’s not fair, to do what they’re told and like it; that when the kid grows up, if it pays attention, it might understand. With God Himself, something stronger is called for. What do you say to a bratty adult who doesn’t want to believe because the adult can’t understand God’s simple rules? How about words like this, spoken by God to a man who suffered a hell of a lot more than any in our increasingly decadent, effeminate society?

Who is this who darkens counsel with words of ignorance? [Asked God to the man Job.] Gird up your loins now, like a man; I will question you, and you tell me the answers!

Where were you when I founded the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding.

Who determined its size? Surely you know? Who stretched out the measuring line for it? Into what were its pedestals sunk, and who laid its cornerstone, while the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

Who shut within doors the sea, when it burst forth from the womb, when I made the clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling bands? When I set limits for it and fastened the bar of its door, and said: Thus far shall you come but no farther, and here shall your proud waves stop?

Have you ever in your lifetime commanded the morning and shown the dawn its place for taking hold of the ends of the earth, till the wicked are shaken from it?

The earth is changed as clay by the seal, and dyed like a garment; but from the wicked their light is withheld, and the arm of pride is shattered. Have you entered into the sources of the sea, or walked about on the bottom of the deep? Have the gates of death been shown to you, or have you seen the gates of darkness?

Have you comprehended the breadth of the earth? Tell me, if you know it all…

Will one who argues with the Almighty be corrected? Let him who would instruct God give answer!

It’s at that point you either stop sniveling, act like a man, and take out the damned trash—or you descend into a narcissistic pit.

Stay tuned. So if the god truly doesn’t exist, who’s making the requests? That can’t be known unless you first have proof of the existence and the nature of the deity. More to come…

127 Comments

  1. “Nothing can demand nothing”

    (I’m having a deja vu moment)

    http://wmbriggs.com/post/17327

  2. By the way (in case anyone cares), I use Job 38 to question my fundamentalist friends’ insistence on the literal interpretation of the Genesis story. Concern over the story of Genesis is a rabbit trail.

  3. Oh my. Some of your readers are going to have a field day with this one.

    I like your summary of Job: “It’s at that point you either stop sniveling, act like a man, and take out the damned trash—or you descend into a narcissistic pit.” That’s the truth. You can whine about how life isn’t fair all you want to, and get mad at God while saying He doesn’t exist. But in the end you’re left with reality. Reject God because of unfairness and evil, and all you have left is the unfairness and evil. No amount of planning and system design will ever get rid of it. Like it or not, that IS the human condition. So go ahead, reject the source of goodness because you think it’s the source of badness (but also doesn’t exist — no one really expects you to be consistent) and think you are superior. You want to deny the universal experience of the sacred in the elitist fantasy that you and your few, noble friends are the enlightened ones who have risen above the common fray and know all, go ahead. Just shut up about how smart and great you are. It’s unbecoming to the nobility to constantly ridicule and belittle everyone else. If you’re really so enlightened, try a little humility. We know you don’t think you need it, but it makes you sound better to everyone else.

  4. He actually only requires accepting a free, no-strings-attached, eternally rewarding gift.
    Dietrich Bonhoeffer (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dietrich_Bonhoeffer) disagrees with that “no-strings-attached” idea. Jesus, too (Luke 14:25-35).

    God and Job facing off in a courtroom setting does seem like badgering the witness until we realize that Job is not cowed by the threat of vast superiority, but instead is completely awed by it.
    You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. (Job 42:3)

  5. Briggs

    November 23, 2015 at 9:13 am

    Gary,

    Fair point. There are consequences for every decision we make. I of course do not want to imply otherwise.

  6. Using virtually the same “logic” of not behaving as required by the potential believer, believers in global warming routinely dismiss skeptics—look, they work/worked for Exxon (unless they are the chairman of the IPCC, then it doesn’t matter), if they CARED about the future, you can’t ignore the experts on the subject (though you can ignore religious experts), consensus (most of the people on earth do believe there is a God—it’s the descriptions that vary), all are ignored at the convenience of the speaker. If you don’t believe your own logic and don’t use it except where it benefits you, no one else need listen. It’s apparent there’s no logic and nothing but emotion involved in arguments such as these, whether to prove God does not exist or to prove global warming does.

    Christians have gotten rid of Hell to make themselves look better, so I’m not sure disparaging Hell can be held against atheists.

    As far as no-strings-attached and Job, there are no strings. There are no protections from the reality of evil and bad things can and do happen to believers here on Earth. One can fail at points and still receive the gift. It is only belief, but the belief will translate into actions such as Job in awe of God.

    Gail: According to progressives, if we just “make nice” all the evil in the world will disappear. If there was no religion, there would be no unpleasantness, no mean people, nothing. Religion CAUSED this. Evil comes from religion.

  7. Sheri:

    Exactly, that whole “knowledge of Good and Evil” thing.

    If we didn’t know what was evil, obviously, we wouldn’t practice it.

    The “Noble Savage” thing, right?

  8. Well. I am a believer and a Christian. That said, I also acknowledge that that Bible was written by humans, translated endlessly, and is full of metaphor. While I cannot know, I certainly hope that hell is such a metaphor. Comparing it with a Nazi concentration camp doesn’t even make sense. It’s like saying infinity is like one, they’re both numbers. Taken literally, when one is so condemned, one suffers continual torment beyond human understanding. Having done so for, say, a trillion years, and having done that a trillion times, one’s sentence is …. 0% complete and there is no (as in not any) hope that it will end. As you mentioned in some previous post, infinity is a tough concept upon which to get a handle (though, in that essay, I was surprised to see no mention of non-computable functions, the busy beaver function, etc.). So, I submit, is eternity.

    There are those who say “I choose to believe in a God who [has some characteristics]. This is farcical. Either God exists or God does not exist. If God exists, he has certain attributes and does not have others. My (or anyone’s) belief has no effect on these and my opinion that a literal hell seems a bit harsh for having misused my three score and ten (and I’ve already used my three score) in His eyes has no effect on whether it’s my fate. But I do hope that it’s a metaphor, despite the fact that I accept the gift of salvation.

  9. John B(): Exactly. If no one ever said things were evil and we didn’t know what was good and evil, we couldn’t do evil things. Technically, had Adam and Eve not behaved against the will of God, we wouldn’t know good and evil, so in a sense we did start out naive. It wasn’t God who introduced the knowledge, so blaming Him is rather foolish. I suppose one could argue God never should have put the tree in the garden in the first place, but as Briggs notes, that would presuppose God actually does exist. It’s all problematic. Arguing we would be utopian in the absence of religion is absolute nonsense.

  10. One point that hasn’t been made: it is my belief that most evangelical atheists (Dawkins and the rest) reject God, because they don’t completely understand God. But what we know of God is only a very small piece of what He actually may be. The intellectually arrogant atheist will refuse to believe that there is anything that is beyond his comprehension.

  11. Again, Science-fiction explains all. In one of Heinlein’s Methusaleh series, those on the interstellar ship encounter a humanoid species who worship a strange being. The voyagers go into the building where the worship is conducted and come out completely shaken–they have encountered God. The analogy Heinlein made was the humanoid species encountered were the “dogs” and the humans escaping from earth were the “wolves”–untamed, and not able to worship a master.

  12. Those poor, damned atheists! Devoid of all logic and common sense! Like Dawkins, I am a 99% atheist – if you can show Him to me, I might believe – but then, no belief or blind faith will be required, I will KNOW.

    If He was not so well hidden, there would not be so many of Them Gods nor so many sects worshipping the One God.

  13. And consider we do not say modern university professors do not exist because what many of them say or require is absurd (right, JH?).

    Riiight, Briggs! Just like those professors, you do exist, even though making a blanket statement and name-calling used to be a habit of yours, and sometimes your reasoning and speculations can be strange to a person who grew up in a different culture. But… I am glad that the existence of God and the one of you are not of the same nature.

  14. Briggs

    November 23, 2015 at 11:52 am

    Vuurklip,

    Interesting comment. Of course, the burden does not lie with me, but with you. Just for the sake of curiosity, how would you imagine yourself believing?

  15. If He was not so well hidden, there would not be so many of Them Gods nor so many sects worshipping the One God.

    OTOH, if He was not so obvious, there would not be so many people groups acknowledging something of the Divine. C.S. Lewis called that thing the numinous — a supernatural presence, an inspirer of awe.

  16. The dance of the conversation is there to entertain. The truth hides in the folds of the gown taunting us to greater insight. We never quite get the insight because the truth dances away when we open the fold.

    If we don’t try to dance we do not learn. The end is the dance. It attempts to define the edge of the truth than cannot be seen.

    The dance is still worth doing. Without it, we could not, in any way, see the truth.

  17. Vuurklip, there is a necessary ambiguity in the evidence for God. What moral choice would there be if in the sky there would be flashing lights saying, “I made this. God”? If the evidence for God was so overwhelming that only a fool or crazy person would not believe, what good would redound to those who do believe?

  18. Gary: Amen

    The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows his handiwork … Psalm 19:1

    I have a feeling Vuurklip might be more open to eastern Mysticism
    (the ever skeptical Sam Harris is)

    Graeme Edge
    ——————————————————————————–
    This garden universe vibrates complete
    Some, we get a sound so sweet
    Vibrations reach on up to become light
    And then through gamma, out of sight

    Between the eyes and ears there lie
    The sounds of colour and the light of a sigh
    And to hear the sun, what a thing to believe
    But it’s all around if we could but perceive

    To know ultraviolet, infrared and X-rays
    Beauty to find in so many ways
    Two notes of the chord, that’s our full scope
    But to reach the chord is our life’s hope
    And to name the chord is important to some
    So they give it a word, and the word is…

  19. Hmmm. The only thing obvious is that many people believe. He is not at all obvious.

  20. Wrong. I make no claims other than that I cannot see evidence that a god or gods exist. This I do not have to prove. You on the other hand claim that a god exists – so the burden of proof is with you. However, I cannot imagine what I would be able to accept as proof – you would have to come up with something pretty amazing…

  21. Bob Kurland: This is above my pay grade. All I can say is that I see no evidence for a god or gods. No one has shown evidence that is remotely plausible. So I find his/their existence very unlikely.

  22. John B(): No, I’m not open to any kind of mysticism or to any kind of new age twaddle.

  23. Vuurklip:

    I took a little liberty with your original quote:

    “no belief or blind faith will be required, I will KNOW(,) If He was not so well hidden”

    That was why I went to the lyric from The Moody Blues – The Word
    “what a thing to believe(,) But it’s all around if we could but perceive”

    From the Question by the same:
    “Why do we never get an answer(,) when we’re knocking at the door …”
    Are you knocking, Vuurklip?
    “…because the truth is hard to swallow…”
    I personally stayed away from that diner for thirty years
    “…I’m looking for a miracle in my life…”
    Are you looking and are you looking… (looking in order to perceive – see first verse)

    Vuurklip: I’m not telling you to believe or what to believe, I’m asking if you’ve exhausted your search for this imperceptible god of yours?

  24. We don’t need God, we stole knowledge of good and evil from paradise.

  25. John B(): I would not know where to start looking for the invisible, the undetectable. Is seems that it is very easy to imagine that a god or gods exist – why else do so many people believe in so many different gods? If there were unequivocal evidence that Yahweh is the true god rather than Shiva, wouldn’t everybody believe in Yahweh? No one whatever their faith, nationality, skin colour, whatever argues about the value of pi, or about the atomic weight of oxygen – because there is hard evidence.

  26. Hans:
    That’s right
    You are absolutely correct
    God does exist but we don’t need him – we’ve got science, now
    God is like one of those organs in our bodies for which science can’t figure why it was ever needed in the first place.
    But, is that the final word?

  27. I think there are some atheists who have been exposed to a lot of a particular flavor of religion when they were young who found they hated it for whatever reason, became atheists and decry God as mean, vain, and/or aloof. I think that’s probably quite common. When you study the Bible, you can see where they’d get that from, even if you see them as misunderstanding.

    Then there are people like me, who grew up in a secular family environment, was exposed to a lot of religion as a matter of extended family, education and personal development, enjoyed it, was active in it, and simply have always been personally irreligious simply because I don’t believe it.

    For me, it’s a joke I heard years ago that goes something like this…

    There’s a atheist fishing on a boat in the middle of the Loch Ness. All of a sudden, the water starts to roil and bubble and rush around him. Out of the water rises the Loch Ness monster, it’s angry and staring down it’s long snaky neck from twenty feet above. He cries, “Oh my God! The Loch Ness Monster! God help me!” At that moment, the clouds about part, the light shines down, and God Himself appears above, and says, “Oh! So now you call for Me! Now you believe in Me! Huh?!” And the atheist says, “Well, up until about 10 seconds ago, I didn’t believe in the Loch Ness monster either.”

    I’m that guy on the boat. I keep an open mind, but few things have ever really surprised me. God would surprise me.

    JMJ

  28. JMJ:

    Thanks for that!

    You are loved

  29. Vuurklip:

    You should read about John Michael Talbot
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Michael_Talbot
    (Check on youtube for Two Hangman which Mason Proffit performed prior to his conversion.

    I’m an unusual Christian, who actually believes in Universalism. I’m truly not worried about your soul as I am about your mind.

    I’m currently reading GK Chesterton’s Orthodoxy and you and Hans remind me of his opening chapter(s)

    “If there were unequivocal evidence that Yahweh is the true god rather than Shiva, wouldn’t everybody believe in Yahweh?”

    To me, that really isn’t as important as you think of it. In CS Lewis’ The Last Battle, Lewis describes a young man who searching for a “false god”, and actually despised the “true God” (Aslan). The young searcher was welcomed into the “country” of the “true God”. Because of his truthful search, the young man was acceptable. This idea is against the grain of many Christian fundamentalists.

    In the Great Divorce, Lewis also goes against the grain by suggesting a “Last Chance” to accept or reject God in the afterlife.

    CS Lewis presents an interesting account of his own conversion

  30. Sarah Ann Dippity:

    This GK Chesterton nugget is very a propos for Briggs’ site:

    Chesterton, as a political thinker, cast aspersions on both Progressivism and Conservatism, saying, “The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected.”[

  31. Rob Ryan:
    That said, I also acknowledge that that Bible was written by humans, translated endlessly,

    Translation-wise: The Bible is not as in tough a shape as you might think.

    An interesting exercise is to (go to the library) get as many versions of the Bible as you can find and check out 2 Samuel 14:14. Many translations will acknowledge that the Hebrew is uncertain or confusing. Some translation will provide alternatives to the verse.

    But since the story at hand deals with two different people (David and Absalom), one translation of the adage in question could be applied to David; the alternative translation of the adage could be applied to Absalom!

    It is an extremely interesting exercise for the open-minded

  32. Dawkins doesn’t believe, it is asserted above, because the God of the OT is essentially a psychotic tyrant … indistinguishable from a human despot.
    Certainly a mix of documented qualities unlike what we’ve been seeing parroted from Augustine…a kind, true, wise, loving, etc., etc., wonderful God.

    It is being said atheists don’t believe a God because of hell (““Why would I want to believe in a God that would send me to Hell for not believing in him?””), as if that’s a reason TO believe…it’s certainly a reason nearly every single Christian apologist & missionary presents —

    — believe, to get to heaven,
    — believe, to avoid hell.

    Those are not reasons to believe anything, those are divinely-asserted veiled threats — believe…or else!

    No different than a Mafia Don demanding one believe he’s not responsible for someone’s murder (‘believe me or I’ll kill you’). You’ll likely say you’ll believe, but you really won’t. Self-preservation.

    No different than Kim Jong-il, or his minions, demanding North Korean citizens to express their love for him & their attestations of belief that he is whatever he wants them to say he is, including (sometimes) he or his father was a deity. From that comes compliance, but actual BELIEF in the deity of the figure or love as attested for him, no way.

    Coercion is not a basis from which one actually believes anything.

    But, if one says something enough, fear-based repetition & familiarity, one invariably comes round to actually believing it. But only on some level.

    Watch a typical preacher on YouTube giving some sermon or other–with the sound off. Stop the video thru-out…note the blatant anger in the expressions.
    The more evangelical, the more unmistakable anger one cannot avoid seeing. This is observable time & time again. Unmistakable anger…all from sermonizing for the Prince of Peace. Anger is the foremost emotion cults tap.

  33. Ye Olde Statistician

    November 23, 2015 at 3:46 pm

    vuurklip: I would not know where to start looking for the invisible, the undetectable.

    Mathematics would be a good place to start. What are the “hard evidences” for conjoining and splitting topologies on function spaces? You will actually have much more solid evidence (evidentia potissima) than in the natural sciences, where you must rely on material inferences (evidentia naturalis). The latter are always falsifiable; the former never are.

    vuurklip: Is seems that it is very easy to imagine that a god or gods exist – why else do so many people believe in so many different gods?

    This has come up before. The nine blind men believed in many different elephants, but this had no bearing on whether the elephant exists. But the existence of many different perspectives on God may actually illustrate what you deny; viz., that the evidence for God really is obvious, so much so that nearly all peoples in history have gotten a glimpse. If the details differ, what of it? Off the top of my head, I know of four different interpretations of quantum mechanics; and my cosmologist friend sometimes gives a talk which he titles “47 Cosmologies.” He tells me that to this day there is no experimental way to distinguish between Einstein’s relativity and Milne’s relativity.

  34. JMJ,
    God surprised C.S. Lewis too (Surprised by Joy). Atheists will find his books readable, even if they disagree with him. If you’re familiar only with the children’s stories you’re missing out on some thought provoking stuff.

    I find the lives of the apostles, and particularly Paul, one of the more convincing evidences of God’s existence and intentions. People don’t positively change like they did unless under an extraordinary influence.

  35. I have no direct familiarity with this sort mind set, but I’ve observed that there is a certain character type in the skeptical community who are atheist activists because they’ve had bad experiences with religious family and friends. These individuals tend to be vehemently anti-religious. They also tend to have the need to replace their prior religiosity with some sort of secular dogma, which may turn out more absurd than the religiosity they replaced.

    Other than that, secularists are only pointing out the absurdities of those religions, especially the Christian, that insist that their God is pure and good and beyond evil, yet created the entire universe with evil in it. Babies and other innocents die every day in horrific ways presumably so that we can all enjoy Free Will, according to this mind set. It’s all ludicrous of course and there is no way the religious can dance around the problem of evil. It’s more comforting to live a fantasy existence then face some rather cruel truths about the world. Hence absurd mental gymnastics such as bad events being only the absence of good events. Hence a terrible car crash is merely the absence of a pleasant country drive. Some of us grow up, but most will in one form or another, wish to remain mental children.

  36. my cosmologist friend […] tells me that to this day there is no experimental way to distinguish between Einstein’s relativity and Milne’s relativity.

    Sounds like someone’s “cosmologist friend” is having as much fun with him as he’s having with the more gullible people here.

  37. swordfishtrombone

    November 23, 2015 at 5:02 pm

    “Therefore, implies Dawkins, God doesn’t exist.”

    Therefore, implies Briggs, God does exist.

    What is the name of the fallacy where stating that an argument against the existence of something is a fallacy means that that thing therefore exists?

  38. Ken you nailed it. God is Orwell’s Big Brother.

  39. Looking for evidence is like looking for footprint marks left in the sand after someone has walked by and now has no presence in that place. You don’t look for evidence to discover whether trees exist – you just look directly at trees. Looking for “evidence” entails a presumption that the thing to be discovered can’t be directly detected, but leaves traces that fit neatly into something you already know.

    PS – It’s more like when you can’t find your glasses where you usually leave them on the desk, because you’re wearing them.

  40. Ken misses the point, I think, because nobody believes in the God of the Old Testament anymore. So if you want to criticize one’s beliefs at least criticize what they actually believe.

  41. Now Will, if the god of the old testamant dies not exist, why the need to believe in a god of the new testament? Convieniently absent, so not testable? If there was no paradise fall then what came to do on earth jesus to repair?

    The orthodox make it very clear: not adam makes jesus a liar. Or perhaps jesus is also made up? Sounds probable.

  42. Hans we all live in ignorance. It is not so easy to say “this is true” and “this is not”. As to what makes logical sense to you and not someone else, that is a very interesting topic. As I’ve often pointed out in the past, a fundamentalist Christian can immediately detect all the ‘absurdities’ in the Koran and a fundamentalist Muslin can immediately detect all the ‘absurdities’ in the New Testament. So the explanation cannot be that some people are critical thinkers and some people are not.

  43. I think the confusion with “no strings attached” comes from misunderstanding the nature of the problem and the solution.

    To be “completely cured” of my stomach ulcer doesn’t mean I don’t need to eat any more; rather, it means I can eat normally, as I was intended to be.

    What is man’s “intended” state? Relevant to this discussion, it is to be in full obedience to his Creator God. What it sin? It is the rejection of this state. What is the consequences of sin? Death, in all its forms.

    God does not require us to earn our cure from Death. We’ve got nothing to pay him with anyway; anything we might have offered him was his in the first place, all we added to it was corruption. As such, the cure is offered freely, as an unearned and unmerited gift.

    But what is the cure? It’s not just freedom from Death (which is the consequence of Sin), but from Sin itself. And what is Sin? Disobedience to and rejection of God. God’s gift is that we are freed from our rebellion, and are returned to right relationship with him as our Master and Creator (* actually, it’s an improvement on the original, but that’s not relevant to this point). Those who want to be freed from Death but retain Sin actually don’t want the cure at all; they want God to roll over and surrender to them instead. For obvious reasons, God the Eternal Creator isn’t going to do that.

    At some point, God is going to purify his creation. You either go along with God’s plan of removing the impurity from you (and all that involves), or you get removed to the trash heap along with your impurity. “Bargaining” isn’t an option; the cure is free and total, or not at all.

  44. Feser’s response to the argument from evil in the “Last Superstition” seems to be that we know that God exists from independent arguments and it must thereby fail in someway.
    For the sake of argument, suppose that the argument from evil succeeds. Either the argument from motion implies an all good Unmoved Mover or it does not. If it does not, then we would still be consistent in saying there is an Unmoved Mover, perhaps one that is not evil, but transcends good and evil. Perhaps Voluntarism’s God.
    If the argument does imply an all good Unmoved Mover, as Aquinas, then the argument proceeds from some false premise, since it is logically valid. Which premise should be denied if the argument from evil succeeds: there is motion, essentially ordered causes cannot proceed infinitely or everything moved is moved by another?

  45. “The most popular version of all, used by non-serious atheists (agnostics, the uneducated, etc.), comprising the largest group of all…” – W. Briggs

    Since when have agnostics ever been atheists, serious or otherwise? Atheism is the belief (yes, it’s a belief, in spite of what most modern-day atheists say about this) that God/god/the gods don’t exist. An agnostic is simply one who is mature enough to admit to not having all the answers regarding the existence/non-existence of the aforementioned gods, and who remains open to the possibility even though he/she is not yet convinced of their reality.

    How on Earth could you confuse the two? I myself am an agnostic, and to call me an atheist is an insult. I know enough about the modern-day adherents of S. Harris, R. Dawkins, C. Hitchens and the rest to be sure to keep my distance from them, for I have seen more than enough of their ‘arguments’ to be convinced they simply have no idea, no clue what they are talking about. They come across as being whiny, ignorant and petulant, they don’t care about what is true if it conflicts in any way with what they already believe to be true, and they tend to be very, very nasty, thinking that expletives and ‘ad hominem’ attacks can somehow be an appropriate substitute to actually having a case to make.

  46. I must admit to not having yet read all of the comments here, so it’s possible someone has already made this point, but quite apart from the A. Plantinga free will defence for the existence of evil, there is also the (with hindsight, rather obvious) point that the complaint that atheists often make that “if God exists, why does He (or She, It) allow the existence of evil if He/She/It is perfectly omnipotent and omniscient” is an admission, even if at the time they don’t recognise it, that the atheist in question at least accepts the concept of, and believes in, the reality of absolute morality and transcendent justice, even if they like to make the (patently absurd, in my view) claim that absent the existence of an objective and independent standard of morality we can still distinguish right from wrong and make moral progress. I don’t see how they could possibly be right, but maybe that’s just me.

    Anyway, I hope my comment here wasn’t too ‘off topic’; it was just something that occurred to me now as I was reading your article about cry babies, and I just thought I should mention it.

  47. until vuurklip understands that there is no solid place to stand and that ALL of our understandings (or knowledge) are based on belief. he can make no progress. Briggs hinted at this the other day.

  48. Correct me if I’m wrong, but does an agnostic generally not believe in the divinity of Jesus? The agnostic generally has more in common with the atheist than the Christian—but the agnostic may have more sympathy for Christian thought and practice than the garden-variety atheist does.

  49. Anon, the short answer is ‘no, we don’t believe in the divinity of Jesus’. Agnosticism refers to one’s inability to reach a definitive conclusion regarding the existence of God/god/gods, and if one is uncertain about whether the idea of god is even logically coherent to begin with, then it will automatically follow that belief in the divinity of some obscure historical character will simply be absent. To have the view that Jesus wasn’t who others (like Paul) thought he was at the time does not make one an atheist. Are Moslems atheists as well? They claim that Jesus was merely a prophet, that he wasn’t divine. What about Hindus? Or Jews? Going by your ‘logic’, they must be atheists as well.

  50. As a member of a persecuted minority (agnostic) I can certainly sympathetic to the view that we are trapped between two groups of idiots. The atheists, who don’t know where the universe came from but are absolutely certain it wasn’t created, and the theist, who not only knows where it came from, by whom and when it was made, but has an instructional manual to boot.

    I write all this tongue in cheek…

  51. Say, Peter A., in regard to Russel’s Teapot: are you an agnostic, or an atheist?

  52. Oh no, not the lame old ‘Russell’s Teapot’ objection. It was meant, by Russell who was usually quite bright in his better moments, as an example of something that could not be shown to not exist, but it just doesn’t work – at all. At the moment I am thinking of one of W. L. Craig’s responses to this very issue, and he said something along the lines of, ‘not only do we have no evidence for the existence of this particular piece of china orbiting Jupiter (or Saturn, Uranus…), but we have no reason whatsoever to even consider the possibility of the existence of such an object, because at no point in time have any of the spacefaring nations launched such an object into orbit, nor have aliens placed it there’.

    Atheists often use Russell’s Teapot to (in their mind) demonstrate the impossibility of trying to prove that something doesn’t exist, but we actually CAN prove that certain things don’t exist, for example if the entity or abstract concept in question has self-contradictory qualities (ex. square circles, invisible purple cars, married bachelors and honest, incorruptible politicians).

    So Lee, no I don’t believe in Russell’s Teapot, and I don’t believe in unicorns, fairies, Father Christmas, Superman, or any of the other silly comparisons that die-hard atheists often make with the concept of God. The fact they do this is evidence enough, in my mind, that they simply have no idea what they are talking about.

  53. W. Nitschke, you are absolutely right. How do these people KNOW what they claim to know? What was their methodology? How did they go about establishing what they believe to be true to actually be so? What were their underlying assumptions? If they have anything truly substantive, why do they consistently refuse to present it to others? Why do they usually just preach to the converted on their websites? What would it take for them to simply consider the possibility that maybe – just maybe – they were wrong?

  54. Peter A.: so, an atheist, then, in regard to the teapot. You *know* that it doesn’t exist, that means.

    But very firmly not an atheist in regard to the omniscient, omnipotent, creator God. About that, you’re open to evidence or persuasion.

    But one of the several ways that teapot could have been placed in orbit is by that God, you must admit. Why would He? Who knows? His mysterious ways are part of the deal. (Craig’s lack of imagination notwithstanding.)

    Therefore, if you know the teapot can’t exist, you must know the God can not exist. Oops.

  55. Ye Olde Statistician

    November 23, 2015 at 11:06 pm

    in regard to Russel’s Teapot: are you an agnostic, or an atheist?

    Don’t know about Peter, but I am an eye-roller. Russell never claimed his imaginary teapot was a god; so to disbelieve it is out there orbiting the sun is not atheism. It is only atsagiérism.

  56. Lee, don’t take this personally, but that is really, REALLY bad reasoning on your part. A-theism means ‘a’ (without) ‘theism’ (God, gods). It has nothing at all to do with teapots, so the fact that I don’t believe in one in orbit around Jupiter only means that I have no reason whatsoever to accept that one is actually there to begin with. If someone could present a convincing argument for why I should believe one to be there, I would consider it, and perhaps even change my mind (which is something that theists and atheists very rarely even consider doing). “His mysterious ways” are NOT “part of the deal”, unless you happen to be a committed theist who genuinely believes such a response to perfectly adequate when it comes to questions you simply can’t answer.

  57. A few comments bundled together.

    The topic of the post reminds me of youngsters who cover their eyes with their hands and then say, “You can’t see me.”

    Fray Nelson Medina, OP, says that the rejection of faith, hope, and charity is incredulity, despair, and… not hate, not indifference, but instead, idolatry.

    P. Jaime Balmes, El Criterio, 21.1
    Life is short, death is certain. Hence within a few years even a man who enjoys the most robust and youthful health will have descended into the grave, and will know from experience what truth there is in what religion says about the destinies of the other life. If I do not believe, then my disbelief, my doubts, my insults, my mockery, my indifference, my insane pride will not destroy the reality of the facts.

    If there exists another world where rewards are reserved for the good and punishments for the evil, it will certainly not cease to exist simply because it pleases me to deny it.

    La vida es breve, la muerte cierta: de aquí á pocos años el hombre que disfruta de la salud mas robusta y lozana, habrá descendido al sepulcro, y sabrá por experiencia lo que hay de verdad en lo que dice la religion sobre los destinos de la otra vida. Si no creo, mi incredulidad, mis dudas, mis invectivas, mis sátiras, mi indiferencia, mi orgullo insensato, no destruyen la realidad de los hechos: si existe otro mundo donde se reservan premios al bueno, y castigos al malo, no dejará ciertamente de existir porque á mí me plazca el negarlo.

  58. I actually found the title of this article morally repugnant. If an atheist or agnostic pointed out that an innocent (such as a child) dying some horrific death in a car accident or a fire or due to some atrocity that happened in Syria today, then to raise such a concern is to be a “cry baby”. God is just a “big meanie”, ha ha… It’s all nasty stuff which is why I’ve observed that there is a certain flavour of religious conservative who is nothing more than the flip side of the progressive fascist. Of course they all think the way they do for the best possible reasons, guided of course, by their moral superiority.

  59. Ye Olde Statistician

    November 24, 2015 at 1:01 am

    If an atheist or agnostic pointed out that an innocent (such as a child) dying some horrific death in a car accident …, then to raise such a concern…

    It isn’t the raising of concern that is mocked. They may coast on the fumes of Christendom as long as they wish. It lies in replacing reason with sentiment in the objection from evil. Aquinas made the same argument in far better form than Late Moderns have. He had no need to play emotional gamesmanship by proposing dead children in meaningless accidents. Is not the fact that all men die, sufficient? Or that we fall sick from time to time? Or that the father may also have dies in that car accident? But Romanticism has rather muddled our thinking replacing reasoned arguments with gushes of sentiment. “I feel that…” has replaced “I think that…” in our expressions. Perhaps there is a colored ribbon that can be worn for this, so that others may admire how much we care.

  60. YOS, you sound like you’re beginning to understand why “evil” is a relative term.

    JMJ

  61. YOS: “Mathematics would be a good place to start”. Never, in any of the many books on mathematics, have I seen any attempt to find evidence of any god or gods. So I am still at a loss of where to start.

    YOS: “… that the evidence for God really is obvious, so much so that nearly all peoples in history have gotten a glimpse …”. Well, I have not had even a glimpse yet. It also seems odd to me that various cultures seem to get the same glimpse within a given culture, but each culture gets a different glimpse – hence Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, etc.

    YOS: ” … there is no experimental way to distinguish between Einstein’s relativity and Milne’s relativity …”. The fact that we do not understand everything does not justify invoking some invented supernatural force.

  62. swordfishtrombone: “What is the name of the fallacy where stating that an argument against the existence of something is a fallacy means that that thing therefore exists?”. The God Delusion or Wishful Thinking?

  63. Mysterian: “until vuurklip understands that there is no solid place to stand and that ALL of our understandings (or knowledge) are based on belief. he can make no progress”. Oh! But I do understand. A simple example: Euclidian geometry is built upon a few simple axioms which are not proven. However, the edifice built upon these axioms is consistent and coherent. So we have some confidence that he underlying assumptions are valid. We can have the same level of confidence that the beliefs underpinning modern science and technology is sufficiently valid so that we have been able to place men on the Moon and send spacecraft to the outer limits of the Solar System. So, yes, I do have beliefs but beliefs in which I can have some confidence. The beliefs underlying religions or faith in some god or gods, do not remotely inspire the same level of confidence in their validity.

  64. Vuurklip,
    ” Never, in any of the many books on mathematics, have I seen any attempt to find evidence of any god or gods. So I am still at a loss of where…”
    I gather you’re not familiar with Goedel’s proof of the existence of God…
    Google “Goedel’s proof of the existence of God” (an ontological proof) and you’ll find quite a few sites.

  65. Bob Kurland: “Goedel’s proof of the existence of God”. This “proof” is an interesting excersize in logic where an edifice is built upon a set of axioms. If the axioms are false, the edifice can lead to conclusions that diverge from observed reality. Euclidian geometry is also built upon axioms and its conclusions match our experience of reality (as experienced in a flat plane). Gödel’s proof results in the “existence of God” – however, His existence has not been detected in the real world as we perceive it. So the axioms appear to be unreliable. I admit that God may exist but I have not found Him.

  66. A parent wants a self reliant confident child, but doesn’t need to torture or burn to death that child when the child goes astray. God can’t manage that. If you want Free Will, innocents will suffer and although it’s all part of God’s plan, he takes no responsibility. There is no way to reason your way out of the problem of evil. A problem that the Zoroastrians don’t share. And much less of a problem for Hinus perhaps. (I’m thinking Vishnu here, where creation and destruction are part of the same wheel.) I’ve thought about this for a very long time and I grant the Catholic “solution” is probably the best possible, although not satisfactory.

  67. “that is really, REALLY bad reasoning on your part. ”

    Actually, that was a direct application of modus tollens. But if the simplest, classical rules of logic are unfamiliar to you, I don’t think I can help you.

  68. Regarding Job, most miss the point of the entire story. Job was very religious, but that isn’t what God seeks from us. Job knew about God he just didn’t know God. Job followed the rules,and did what he believed to be right . His problem iwas that God wants us to be in a personal relationship with Him, not merely be in awe of Him.
    Regarding evil, Adam knew good from the beginning, but found out about evil when he disobeyed God’s command and warning. Now we, after we sin live with the results, a severed relationship with God, which results in Hell as the eternal destination. No wonder why God warned us.
    Only a compassionate God would do everything within the constraints of His holiness to restore our relationship. God, by the sacrifice of his Son, Yeshua (Jesus) has done that but the choice to accept His pardon is each of ours to make. Gilbert Gottfried got it wrong. Gottfried , like all humans who refuse God’s provision, is going to hell all on his own.. He is not being sent there.

  69. “God seeks […] God wants”

    God has desires?

    I used to take the line of the comedian who said that he didn’t want to go to heaven — none of his friends would be there! But if I can avoid Gilbert Gottfried….

  70. Ye Olde Statistician

    November 24, 2015 at 9:26 am

    JMJ: you sound like you’re beginning to understand why “evil” is a relative term.

    ?? Because I decry the Late Modern replacement of reason with sentiment? How so?

    Evil is of course relative to nature. The nature of the gazelle differs from the nature of a lioness, so what is a privation of the good of existence for the gazelle may be a fulfillment of the good of nutrition for the lioness. Also, what makes a bad archer is not the same as what makes a bad surgeon. However, these latter two are accidents, not essentials. We believe all human beings possess the same human nature, and so the good is the same for all. Perhaps you do not believe we are all descended from a common ancestor?

  71. Bert Walker: It amazes me how you – and others – seem to KNOW what God thinks or wants with such absolute certainty. Even Adam’s thoughts are open to you. Astounding!

  72. Ye Olde Statistician

    November 24, 2015 at 9:37 am

    vuurklip:
    YOS: “Mathematics would be a good place to start [ looking for the invisible, the undetectable.]”.
    Never, in any of the many books on mathematics, have I seen any attempt to find evidence of any god or gods. So I am still at a loss of where to start.

    Who’s talking gods? Baby steps first, friend: “the invisible, the undetectable.” Unless you have some meter or gauge that will detect whether a function-space topology is conjoining or splitting? Or suppose you have this apple, that apple, and the other apple. Where is “three”? If you arrange them on the table in the form of a triangle, do you now have four things on the table, the apples and a triangle? Once you get accustomed to the idea that not everything is visible and detectable, you can move on to the next level.

    vuurklip:
    YOS: “… that the evidence for God really is obvious, so much so that nearly all peoples in history have gotten a glimpse …”.
    Well, I have not had even a glimpse yet.

    You have not noticed that nature is arranged in a rational order? That some things in the world are in motion?

    vuurklip: It also seems odd to me that various cultures seem to get the same glimpse within a given culture, but each culture gets a different glimpse – hence Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, etc.

    Doesn’t seem odd to me. Different cultures have different ways of looking at things, different categories of thought, different tropes of expression. “A child born into the village is taught the ways of his ancestors.” It’s no more mysterious than that one blind man thinks an elephant is much like a rope while another thinks it much like a banana leaf. (Based, be it noted, on empirical evidence!)

    vuurklip: The fact that we do not understand everything does not justify invoking some invented supernatural force.

    There is no supernatural “force” involved in the distinction between Milne and Einstein, or in that Copenhagen advocates can explain the Afshar experiment in ways that support the Copenhagen model while transactionalists can show that it supports the transactional model. The point did not regard a supernatural “force” [note the implicit scientism] but rather the bogus reasoning that takes disagreement over X as evidence that X does not exist.

    vuurklip: Euclidian geometry is built upon a few simple axioms which are not proven. …We can have the same level of confidence that the beliefs underpinning modern science and technology is sufficiently valid … to place men on the Moon etc.

    a) You may be confusing Euclidean axioms with the five Euclidean postulates.
    b) [Natural] Science is not constructed by deduction from “axioms” but by induction from observations. Induction does not inspire the same level of confidence as deduction, and the scientific edifice is overturned from time to time as yet another blind man touches a different part of the elephant. The Pythagorean Theorem will never be falsified in plane geometry.
    c) Technology is not the same thing as science. A civilization like China could have a high technology without having anything like an organized science. Quite often, advances in technology have come about before the scientists know there is anything needing explanation.

    vuurklip: The beliefs underlying religions or faith in some god or gods, do not remotely inspire the same level of confidence in their validity.

    a) Beliefs are not valid or invalid; arguments are. “Be-lief” is cognate with the German “ge-liebt,” lief being an archaic form of “love.” If you have fallen in love with Mary Sue, do we ask if your love is “valid”?
    b) Aquinas’ arguments [which were by modus tollens] were based on a) the existence of change in the world, b) the order of efficient causes, c) that some things come into and pass out of existence, d) that there are grades of excellence in transcendentals, e) and that there are regularities [laws] in nature. I’m actually kinda condident in four of these.

  73. YOS: There are just too many misunderstandings and irrelevant arguments about my position for me to try to respond in this forum.

    PS: It was Bob Kurland who dragged God into mathematics by way of Gödel.

  74. Vuurklip:

    There are just too many misunderstandings and irrelevant arguments about my position for me to try to respond in this forum

    I agree

    Communication is the problem to the answer

  75. At the end of the movie, Saving Private Ryan, there is a remarkable bit of dialogue of which I suspect only a few would understand its full import. The now elderly Ryan turns to his wife and asks for assurance that he has been a good man during his life. Likely, the elder Ryan likely went through the following either while in combat or shortly afterwards.
    1. Combat is exciting. One’s animal nature comes to the fore immediately. One’s morality and one’s rational nature are quickly subjugated. There is an animalistic enjoyment.
    2. Likely due to Christian religious beliefs, at some point Ryan recognized that he could not moralize his actions. He recognized the evil in which he was a participant.
    3. Despite theologian support that it is okay to kill in war, at best he was only able to rationalize his actions, i.e. him or the other guy. He recognized that evil could reside in him. His succumbing to his animal nature and evil was antithetical to His belief in God and Christ’s words.
    4. Thus he had long talks with his God asking forgiveness and vowing to be as morally the best he could be the rest of his life.
    5. It is a gut wrenching scene in the movie for anyone who has experienced combat and who went through this kind of transformation: learning about one’s animal nature and evil, then reversing it by striving to be highly moral and honorable. The question of being a good man for the rest of one’s life is always, always right under the surface. I speak from experience.

    How does this apply to the topic at hand – atheists? Unlikely the phrase, “there are no atheists in a foxhole” is 100% true, for there are those who will hold on to their animal nature and those who will embrace anger – anger with God (in which case they are not an atheist) – for what they have experienced. However, it is not God who perpetrated the evil, it was man. Someone who wanted to experience the excitement of killing and inflicting suffering convinced others to do the same. It can be infectious because our animal nature can quickly overrule our rational nature.

    Atheists have a bad habit of conflating death with evil. Death occurs every microsecond whether it is the one cell amoeba or a human being. Death is not evil, it just is. Evil is the enjoyment of death and the enjoyment of inflicting pain and suffering. Item #1 above embodies this enjoyment. Combat has a way of making this crystal clear to one with a moral persuasion. The best way to a moral bent is via a religion that reinforces the moral bent. Atheism has no reinforcement beyond the here and now, which easily denigrates when immoral actions become “acceptable”.

    Of course “moral/immoral actions” have a broad interpretation across religions, but there are plenty that are universally recognized. The Ten Commandments iterate a fairly universal acknowledgement of what is moral and what is not. However, these morals have been denigrated in no small part by atheists, agnostics, and secularists.

    PS: Anecdotally, every combat veteran I know (and I seek them out) has a deep belief in God.

  76. aGrimm:

    “there are no atheists in a foxhole”

    While there may truth in this; what happens outside of the foxhole

    According to Joseph LoConte in :
    A Hobbit, a Wardrobe and a Great War – How J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis Rediscovered Faith, Friendship, and Heroism in the Cataclysm of 1914-1918 – LoConte because of how “the Church” backed the war, encouraging participation and the rightness of the war (this occurred on both sides). AT THE SAME TIME, Joe LoConte also marked the turn of the Century as the BEGINNINGS of Materialism and Scientism, and because of “Science”, all the leaders and planners of the war on both sides EXPECTED the war to be finished and won in 4 MONTHS.

    However, there was a huge backlash ONLY against “the Church”. NOT against “the SCIENCE” that promised a speedy end to the war.

    LoConte follows Tolkien’s retention of his faith and Lewis coming to faith, while most writers out of the war, turned to a Pessimism wrought in such experience (a more “natural” response).

  77. “every combat veteran I know (and I seek them out) has a deep belief in God.”

    Like these guys?

    http://cdn.ebaumsworld.com/mediaFiles/picture/148444/1069962.jpg

  78. God is an assumption, assuptions without proof can be rejected without proof. There is absolutely no need to introduce an eternal creator as cause for an eternal universe.

  79. Ye Olde Statistician

    November 24, 2015 at 3:42 pm

    Like these guys?

    The ancient battle cry of the Late Roman Empire (nobiscum deus) and the Byzantine Empire (??? ???? ? ????) entered German usage with the Teutonic Order, although it was also used by the Swedes and (in Old Slavonic) the Russians. It became incorporated into the arms of the Prince-Elector of Brandenburg and with the establishment of the Second Reich appeared on the coinage of the Empire. It appeared on the helmet plates of the Imperial German Army. Its use continued through the Weimar Republic, the Third Reich (except for Waffen SS units, which as Party formations did not acknowledge God), and by the West German Bundeswehr down to 1962 and police until 1970. The equivalent phrase in America is “In God We Trust.”

  80. Ye Olde Statistician

    November 24, 2015 at 3:46 pm

    Hmm. Greek letters not recognized….

  81. Lee Philips: “Like these guys?” Is there a discussion in that statement/link somewhere?
    YOS: Good points.
    John B: I am not up on John LoConte, so I did a quick Bing on him to try to follow your discussion. I’m not a big fan of Tolkien’s and Lewis’ genre of writing, so I am at a disadvantage to discuss what you are saying. However, I attribute my retention of faith and a positive attitude about the combat experience to the solid theological and philosophical studies I got in (Catholic) high school. You may be right that most go pessimistic, but is that due to a lack of early religious upbringing or something else?

  82. “Actually, that was a direct application of modus tollens. But if the simplest, classical rules of logic are unfamiliar to you, I don’t think I can help you.” – L. Phillips

    Let’s see now.

    “So, an atheist, then, in regard to the teapot. You *know* that it doesn’t exist, that means. But very firmly not an atheist in regard to the omniscient, omnipotent, creator God. About that, you’re open to evidence or persuasion.
    But one of the several ways that teapot could have been placed in orbit is by that God, you must admit. Why would He? Who knows? His mysterious ways are part of the deal. (Craig’s lack of imagination notwithstanding.)

    Therefore, if you know the teapot can’t exist, you must know the God can not exist. Oops.” – L. Phillips

    No, this isn’t modus tollens, because I did not claim to know for sure there was no teapot, but I did point out that I had no reason to believe there was one there, which is not the same thing. There may – possibly – be one there after all, but I don’t believe there to be one because I at this point in time have no reason to consider the possibility. See the difference?

    I gave an example of something that could be proven to not exist (i.e. entities with self-contradictory qualities), but a teapot is not logically impossible, and I brought up this issue because many atheists use Russell’s Teapot to try to give credence to their belief that we cannot really prove the non-existence of something, which is simply not true. If we were eventually to develop the ability to track objects in orbit around Jupiter in the manner we now can for objects in Earth’s orbit, we could finally establish whether or not the teapot was there, and then we could work out why it is there.

    So yes, your reasoning really is bad. Oops 🙂

  83. “God is an assumption, assuptions without proof can be rejected without proof. There is absolutely no need to introduce an eternal creator as cause for an eternal universe.” – Hans Erren

    Hans, can you prove to me that you yourself exist? I don’t mean present evidence that you do, I mean prove it to me. I see your comments appear here, and that certainly constitutes evidence, but it’s not proof, not by a long shot.

    Then of course there is the claim itself, that “assumptions without proof can be rejected without proof”. Where is the proof for this particular assumption of yours? I don’t suppose you have any.

    Point number three – the universe isn’t eternal. Ever hear of the following: the Big Bang theory, the CMB, redshift, the Second Law of Thermodynamics, and the impossibility of actually crossing an infinite number of moments in time? No, I guess you haven’t.

    I really, really – REALLY – do wish internet atheists would actually make more of an effort to promote their belief in the non-existence of God than just spout the silly old cliché’s they picked up from their heroes R. Dawkins, S. Harris, C. Hitchens, B. Russell… et cetera. Their arguments are always SO lame and pathetic, and they keep parroting the same old, long ago discredited, arguments (ex. “If God created everything, then what created God?” – sigh).

  84. Add Olbers’ Paradox to the list I give above of evidence the universe isn’t eternal. How could I have forgotten that one?

  85. Peter A.: If you like, we can all pretend that you never said that you didn’t believe that Russel’s teapot exists (rather than that you didn’t know), if that rescues your honor for you. Hooray!

  86. aGrimm

    I think my point was that any tenuous “coming to faith” in the “fox-hole”, may be easily lost.

    While I appreciated the book (I am a Tolkien/Lewis fan – if you’re not, I wouldn’t recommend it), Loconte implied that WWI, by dint of church’s preaching it’s morality, became a watershed event for “the church” losing its sway on returning soldiers (leastwise in Europe) and a slide into materialism.

    I had problems with this specific conclusion since Loconte discussed the emergence of the industrial revolution, bookmarked by the World Exposition of 1951. He continues to discuss how technical marvel after technical marvel created an optimism about the future. He even referred to the idea of “Scientism”.

    He talked about the mechanization of war and how war was supposed to be changed and that leaders and planners predicted a quick outcome of the war. Yet, somehow all these returning soldiers only blamed God and “the church”.

  87. That was the first World Exposition held in LONDON and in 1851 (NOT 1951)

  88. Peter, debating theists is cumbersome, one first has to find out which god they believe in because they will never tell you. Atheism is dead simple: God is made up. Period. If you tell a theist that the God of the bible is self-contradictory, then the theist starts to explain that some parts of the bible are to be interpreted as allegorical, without revealing which parts. God started as a straightforward almighty King in the sky who you could climb up to using a ladder and who would decend to earth in person from time to time. As astronomy evolved, God conveniently moved into another dimension. The question of the wheareabouts of the ascended body of Jesus is considered an embarrassing frivolous question. The Big Bang only proves that there was a singularity, there is also the theory of the eternally oscillation universe, or the quantum soap bubble multiverse. I do not need a God to explain e^i*pi+1=0 or the existence of the natural numbers.

    I think therefore I exist, but I this is only proof for myself for my own existence, for you these are only bright and dark photons emanating from your screen. Or perhaps God testing your faith.

    Not everyting that is imaginable exists: next to ALL gods I reject also mythology, afterlife (“Jenseits”), resurrection, virgin birth, final judgment, reincarnation, spririts, elfs, gnomes, clairvoyance, telepathy, homeopathy, aliens visting earth, and of course catastrophic global warming. Peter, which of the above unproven assumptions do you reject without proof?

    Atheism is simple, theism was invented to explain the universe and to help coping with death.

  89. Ye Olde Statistician

    November 25, 2015 at 4:51 pm

    the theist starts to explain that some parts of the bible are to be interpreted as allegorical, without revealing which parts.

    See http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1202.htm for instruction.

    I have heard it said that atheism was also invented to help cope with death by denying that there was any reward or punishment involved. Of course, there are also a great many religions whose afterlife is not very attractive. Recall what the ghost of Achilles told Odysseus when the latter visited Hades: he would rather slop the swine on his father’s farm than be king of all the dead. And the Christians famously believe in the possibility of eternal punishment, surely not something to look forward to.

  90. Then there are the gods of H P Lovecraft

  91. Hans,

    So debating theists is ‘tiresome’; well, you are not compelled to debate them. You seem familiar. Have I seen you at either the ‘Why Evolution is True’ (Jerry Coyne) website, or the one that Edward Feser runs?

    Anyway, your first claim – that theists will never tell you which god specifically they believe in – usually isn’t true, because most theists who engage in these internet debates happen to be Christians, so that narrows down the field quite a bit. The Big Bang doesn’t ‘prove’ anything, because a) proofs are not found within physics or cosmology, only mathematics, and b) whether or not there actually was a singularity ‘prior’ to the ‘bang’ remains unknown. It’s entirely possible that 20 or so years from now the very idea of a singularity having started it all will have been discarded in favour of some other idea, and the oscillating universe idea has a number of problems, and may be discarded entirely – http://www.universetoday.com/38195/oscillating-universe-theory/

    Quote: “The probability of a Big Bounce, or even a Big Crunch for that matter, is however becoming negligible. The most recent measurements of the CMBR or cosmic microwave background radiation shows that the Universe will continue on expanding and will most likely end in what is known as a Big Freeze or Heat Death.
    CMBR readings are currently being gathered by a very accurate measuring device known as the WMAP or Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe. It is the same device that has measured with sharp precision the age of our universe. It is therefore highly unlikely that future findings will deviate largely from what has been discovered regarding the Universe’s expansion now.
    There is however one mysterious entity whose deeper understanding of may change the possibilities. This entity, known as dark energy, is believed to be responsible for pushing the galaxies farther apart and subsequently the universe’s accelerated expansion. Unless its actual properties are very dissimilar from what it is showing now, we may have to shelve the Oscillating Universe Theory.”

    So the evidence is pointing away from oscillation, therefore the universe is almost certainly NOT eternal, and if so then all I stated earlier on was perfectly valid.

  92. “I think therefore I exist, but I this is only proof for myself for my own existence, for you these are only bright and dark photons emanating from your screen. Or perhaps God testing your faith.” – Hans

    Um, no. ‘God’ is not ‘testing my faith’, because I don’t have faith in God to begin with. I’m an agnostic, remember? You obviously didn’t read my comments properly if you somehow got the impression I was a theist of some kind.

  93. “Atheism is simple, theism was invented to explain the universe and to help coping with death.” – Hans

    Hans, I don’t suppose you’ve heard of either Buddhism or Judaism. Neither of these two major religions postulate the existence of a G/god in order to mitigate the fears believers face when they are about to die. Neither religion has an afterlife, and as for ‘explaining the universe’, I would seriously suggest you re-read the Old Testament, for once you have reached the end of it you will finally realize that this collection of texts isn’t about science or cosmic origins. The Genesis account is purely allegorical, and this is obvious to anyone who is at all familiar with it. After all, how could God have created the sun and moon on the fourth ‘day’? It’s not meant to be taken literally, and as for the rest of it, it deals mainly with the special relationship that G/god has with the tribes of Israel.

  94. “And the Christians famously believe in the possibility of eternal punishment, surely not something to look forward to.” – Ye Olde Statistician

    This is one of the many things about Christianity that I have never been able to understand. Why would an infinitely compassionate and loving God deliberately torture people for a span of time without end, for simply being what this God made them out to be in the first place? God may be perfect (assuming such exists to begin with, of course), but people clearly are not, and quite often they will make mistakes that, due to who they are, they could not help.
    Then of course there is the – utterly odious – notion that just because someone didn’t accept Christ into their lives, they will go to Hell. So people are punished, for an ETERNITY, for simply being sceptical about a dubious resurrection story from approximately 2,000 years ago. Where is the justice here? The punishment is grossly disproportionate to the ‘crime’ committed. Would you – or anyone on Earth, really – sentence someone to 50 years of hard labour for simply driving 3 kms over the speed limit? This is far worse! God is supposed to be just, but I’m quite sure that this (thankfully, fictional) one isn’t.

  95. Peter A.

    Why would an infinitely compassionate and loving God … etc., etc., …

    At some time or another, I’ve felt the same way…
    One compelling argument is God gave us free will and is not going to compel us to believe in him (let alone compel us to worship him).
    Not perfect? That’s where grace comes into play. I dare say grace is stronger than many people accede (those who are worried about “cheap grace”).
    But we all have our “gods” that we worship (we usually start with ourselves).
    Constantly worshiping ourselves is tough to keep up. (That perfection thing).
    (Enter money, drugs, religion,… whatever makes it easier to continue worshiping ourselves, until it becomes easier to worship money, drugs or religion)

    As to the result of our imperfection and inability to come to grips with God, read CS Lewis’ the Great Divorce, and you’ll get a decidedly non-evangelical viewpoint about the afterlife and hell and a “non-Catholic purgatory if you will”

    In the final CS Lewis Narnia book, “The Last Battle”, there’s a character called Emeth who worshiped the “wrong god” and in fact despised the “true god”, but he was nonetheless acceptable to the “true god”.

  96. Ye Olde Statistician

    November 25, 2015 at 10:58 pm

    Why would an infinitely compassionate and loving God deliberately torture people for a span of time without end

    Joe had built a house in a cold, dark wasteland and invited everyone to come in. He even posted messages telling people how to find the house. Zeke, wandering in that wasteland, was cold and tired when he spied the lights of the house from a distance. As he approached, he could hear music playing and could see through the windows people laughing and dancing and a fat goose roasting on a spit in the fireplace. Joe came to the door and said, “Come on in, Zeke! Good to see you!”
    But Zeke saw that there were three steps up to the door and he did not feel like the exertion. Also, many of the people he could see were not his kind of people, and the music was not to his taste. Besides, he did not like goose.
    “No,” he said and turned away. Joe pleaded with him and begged him to join the party, but Zeke was adamant. He walked away into the darkness and the cold settled into his bones and he hugged himself and shivered.
    Later he crossed paths with Max, who had likewise rejected the party invitation and they both agreed that Joe was a terrible person to have condemned them to this endless wilderness.
    +++++

    Eternity is not a “span of time without end.” It may be spoken of allegorically in this manner, but time is the measure of change in changeable things. It has “before” and “after.” Eternity, otoh, is a measure of being (rather than becoming) in things that do not change. It has no before or after. Eternity is not a very long stretch of time, nor is time some segment of eternity.

    In the gospel, Jesus says every sin against the Son will be forgiven, but sins against the Spirit will not be forgiven. You do not deprive yourself of heaven because you didn’t dot an i or cross a t. You deprive yourself because you did not forgive your neighbor, or you saw him hungry and did not feed him.

    Obviously, if there is a destination city and a broad, straight highway leading to it, it is sensible to follow the Way. But it might be possible also to reach the destination by taking a twisting path through the forest or by cutting out across country. You’re more likely to get lost that way, of course; and even on the Way, it might be a good idea to have a guide. That’s why the Christians developed the doctrine of the “naturally Christian man,” citing Socrates as an example. St. Paul wrote that even “those without the Law” were a “law unto themselves” that was “written on their hearts,” and they would be judged in the end by their own law. Hence, Paul would say that a heathen could be saved (even if with difficulty) while atheist philosophers like Nietzsche, Rorty, Sartre, Rosenberg, et al. declare that they cannot devise a morality without placing themselves on the slippery slope to theism. (And in Nietzsche’s case, gladly so.)

  97. “But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

    Can’t see how there can be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you’re in a timeless state. But maybe it’s meant to be allegorical.

    Mark 16:16 “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”

    But maybe that’s allegorical too. Hold on, I’m starting to see a pattern. 😉

    I much prefer those Christians who believe Dogma and don’t apologize for it, over those who apologize for it publicly, while secretly having a very different view.

  98. Yos, first and foremost I am an a-Jenseits-ist. Existence of God does not automatically imply existence of souls, spirits or the rest of the christian mythology. That’s the problem with Pascals wager.

    If there would exist a soul, then eternal second chances is more just than one single eternal punishment for a failed life. At least that is what pedagogy tells us. But again, I do not believe in the existence of souls.

  99. Ye Olde Statistician

    November 26, 2015 at 8:03 am

    But maybe that’s allegorical too.

    You must have been hell on wheels in poetry class.
    See also: http://humanities.byu.edu/rhetoric/silva.htm
    Who knows how you would take a statement about Gen. Thomas being the “Rock of Chickamauga.” Or that the “hands” rounded up a hundred “head” of cattle.

    Existence of God does not automatically imply existence of souls

    You’re right. The existence of souls would stand regardless whether there were God — unless all life were to perish. “Soul” (anima) is simply what a living body possesses that its corpse does not, and as such is cognate with “life.” Certainly, Aristotle did not make a connection. “Soul” (energeia) means being-at-work. “For Aristotle, to be a thing in the world is to be at work, to belong to a particular species, to act for an end and to form material into enduring organized wholes. Actuality, for Aristotle, is therefore close in meaning to what it is to be alive, except it does not carry the implication of mortality.” (Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
    Certainly for some, there is a belief that energeia is conserved and cannot be destroyed.

  100. Briggs

    November 26, 2015 at 8:29 am

    YOS,

    “Sometimes it is difficult to see the forest (the big picture) of rhetoric because of the trees (the hundreds of Greek and Latin terms naming figures of speech, etc.) within rhetoric.”

    HA HA HA!

  101. Yos don’t know why you bring up aristotle, i was referring to those immortal entities in purgatory that catholics pray for.

  102. Hans Erren: “Yos don’t know why you bring up aristotle”

    YOS likes to throw in spurious arguments and if you try to address them, he just throws in some more leading you away from the original issue. In the end the whole thing grows like branches in a tree …

  103. When YOS gets confused or lost in his own ‘intellectualism’ he starts talking about things he does know, rather than stay on topic. The rationale being it’s better to say thing anything rather than nothing. That’s why having a discussion with YOS is a lot like wrestling jelly.

  104. “Eternity is not a “span of time without end.” It may be spoken of allegorically in this manner, but time is the measure of change in changeable things. It has “before” and “after.” Eternity, otoh, is a measure of being (rather than becoming) in things that do not change. It has no before or after. Eternity is not a very long stretch of time, nor is time some segment of eternity.” – YOS

    Yes, but… absent the existence of time, can anything (or anyone) be truly said to be capable of experiencing anything at all? Absent the possibility for change, which requires time, a sentient entity like a lost soul in Hell, or God, isn’t capable of having a functioning mind to begin with, because all that we associate with the mind (ex. thoughts, desires, emotional states, a will) requires the ability for this mind to actually alter its current state.
    You make a distinction between something that is (being) and something that is undergoing a process of change (becoming), but apart from abstract concepts and realities (like mathematical truths) which are truly eternal, everything else we could list here is subject to the passage of time. Change is what dominates our reality, but if there is an alternative, higher reality elsewhere that we are not aware of, and if this reality is as you claim (i.e. eternal, which is a measure of being, and therefore timeless) then this alternative reality is also uninhabitable for entities like us.

    One other thing, how do you place the emphasis on the text you quote here? You know, how it’s got the grey box around it. How do you do that? I always just copy and paste.

  105. “One compelling argument is God gave us free will and is not going to compel us to believe in him (let alone compel us to worship him).” – John B.

    How can there be free will if one is under the constant threat of eternal damnation for making ‘wrong’ decisions? In order for us to truly have free will, there would have to be a complete absence of coercion; in other words, ‘God’ would have to accept our complete and utter rejection of ‘Him’, and totally refrain from petulant, emotional and egotistical threats to torture us in the afterlife for simply having the sense to question ‘His’ existence. “Believe, and follow me – or else!” That’s not free will at all, that’s blackmail.

    “Not perfect? That’s where grace comes into play. I dare say grace is stronger than many people accede (those who are worried about “cheap grace”).
    But we all have our “gods” that we worship (we usually start with ourselves).
    Constantly worshiping ourselves is tough to keep up. (That perfection thing).
    (Enter money, drugs, religion,… whatever makes it easier to continue worshiping ourselves, until it becomes easier to worship money, drugs or religion)” – John B.

    Is grace one of those things that some just have, but others don’t (like charisma)? I still don’t understand the idea. Just for the record, I do not, and never have, worshipped myself.

  106. Peter A.: By your definition, which is in some dictionaries, there is no way possible for humans to have free will unless they live 100% alone. Otherwise, as soon as you add any other being, coercion comes into play. Some religious sects don’t believe in Hell—the Jehovah Witnesses believe those who not believe simply die, while those who do believe receive eternal reward. No “punishment”. Actually, nature is pretty nasty when it comes to beliefs and actions. Jump off a cliff and nature kills you—that gravity thing. Stand out in a blizzard and nature freezes you. Mean little darling, isn’t she? The world is not a kind place—should you argue that nature should be kinder?

    Grace is accepting God and trying to live a Godly life. Some people choose to accept it, some do not. It’s not whether or not you “have” it, it’s whether or not you want it. You don’t have to accept it, you don’t even have to believe in it. However, just like not believing in gravity, there are consequences for not accepting God’s grace. (You would love the Heinlein book “Job”.)

  107. Will:

    Mark 16:16 “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”

    Please do not create a theology around a single passage.

    Believe ? Believe what ? What is the context ?

    Mark 16 : 9-20 was not found in the earliest manuscripts.

    Peter refer to “Grace in Christianity” to maybe begin to understand the concept of grace

  108. Peter A:

    I meant begin your understanding of “Grace in Christianity” through Wikipedia

  109. Ye Olde Statistician

    November 26, 2015 at 9:39 pm

    don’t know why you bring up aristotle

    I believe you had said that you don’t believe in souls. I pointed out that, despite some borderline cases, souls can be empirically verified: a thing is either alive or not. The definition of a soul as the substantial form of a living being is originally Aristotle (if not Plato) and is used by the Catholic Church. See here, http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P1B.HTM, clauses 363-365
    If triangles were alive, ‘three-sidedness’ would be their souls.

    You may be thinking of the Cartesian soul, the res cogitans, which is a sort of ‘ghost in the machine.’ This colors the discussion somewhat since the Late Modern world is full of folks who buy into the Scientific Revolution concept of soul.

    There is a discussion here: https://thomism.wordpress.com/2008/08/10/the-mode-of-analysis-proper-to-the-discussion-of-the-soul/

    And as far as that goes this simplistic notion may be suitable for those who lack the time, skill, or interest to delve more deeply into the matter. (Consider as a parallel the popular concept of the atom as a miniature Newtonian solar system!) However, you do not defeat (or save) atomic theory by attacking (orsupporting) the comic-book atom. This point seems to disappoint those who would rather deal with the simple imagery of the untutored.
    +++
    Now, as to whether a portion of the rational soul may survive corporeal death is another issue, and one may disagree with this while acknowledging that souls (lives) are natural. There is an argument for why it might be so, but it is not the sort of one-liner favored on internet comm boxes.

  110. Ye Olde Statistician

    November 26, 2015 at 9:51 pm

    absent the existence of time, can anything (or anyone) be truly said to be capable of experiencing anything at all?

    Beats me. We’re at the point where imagination fails and we must rely entirely on the intellect. You cannot imaging a conjoining topology on a function space either, but you can conceive of it.

    Recall that Aquinas argued that a rational soul, after death, is no longer an complete human being, largely on the grounds that you have specified. “On the one hand he says the separated soul is not a person, on the other hand he says it gets access to higher objects and attains certain higher rational perfections.” However, many of the difficulties can be dealt with by coffee:
    https://thomism.wordpress.com/2014/07/28/coffee-and-the-separated-soul/

    +++++
    The blockquote command on this site will create a shaded block of text. On other sites it creates a vertical line or a big quotation mark. To start the blockquote, write the word “blockquote” between two angle brackets. To end the quote, write /blockquote between the angle brackets.

  111. write the word “blockquote” between two angle brackets. To end the quote, write /blockquote between the angle brackets.

    Did it work? Awesome?
    Thanks YOS
    Thanks Peter for asking

  112. Peter A:

    Just for the record, I do not, and never have, worshipped (sic) myself.

    Apologies, I’m using worship rather loosely. I mean when we put ourselves first. My wife (rightly or wrongly) accuses me of “it’s all about Johnny” or “living in Johnny’s world” (probably true of most of us on the Autism spectrum).
    True “Charlie Harper” narcissists are big into self idolatry. Oh yeah – sex worship.

  113. “Please do not create a theology around a single passage.”

    I don’t create the theology, I merely cite it. Single passages in the Old and New Testaments are extremely important in Christian Dogma, and this can be understood also historically. When the apostle Paul groups adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexuals, thieves, drunkards, slanderers and swindlers as those damned for eternity, that’s merely what the Dogma states. I’m not inventing it. (Convenient that female prostitutes, apparently, were redeemable…) Anyway, this *is* the Dogma. Accept it or reject it, but do not pretend it is not there. That only makes one a hypocrite. Aquinas was inspired by the Apostle Paul to turn his homophobia into a moral philosophy. Dr Brigg’s probably isn’t daring enough to compare homosexuals to thieves or drunkards directly, but at least he is honest enough to acknowledge it is what is it.

  114. Will Nitschke: “… why having a discussion with YOS is a lot like wrestling jelly”

    Exactly!! 🙂

  115. Ye Olde Statistician

    November 27, 2015 at 9:13 am

    Single passages in the Old and New Testaments are extremely important in Christian Dogma

    Except in the Orthodox and Catholic churches, which account for two-thirds of all Christians. The matter there is more complex.

    Paul groups adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexuals, thieves, drunkards, slanderers and swindlers as those damned for eternity, that’s merely what the Dogma states.

    I take it you approve of some of those. Swindlers, perhaps? Or boy prostitutes?
    The full passage is:

    Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers nor boy prostitutes nor sodomites nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God. That is what some of you used to be; but now you have had yourselves washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

    “Everything is lawful for me,” but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is lawful for me,” but I will not let myself be dominated by anything.
    (1 Cor. 6:9-12)

    This is part of a discourse directed at the rowdy, squabbling gang in Corinth in which he takes them to task for dragging one another into the civil courts before Roman praetors, rather than settling arguments peacefully among themselves. The items he lists were crimes under Roman law, too. Nor is the list intended to be exhaustive. That something is not listed, however portentious that might seem to a Late Modern, means nothing about either its criminal or sinful nature. (This is true of all Paul’s lists.) He uses the list to shame the Corinthians by reminding them that some of them used to be themselves thieves, swindlers, catamites, and so on; so where do they get off accusing their fellows of the same crimes?

    * The Greek word translated as “boy prostitutes” may refer to catamites. These were boys or young men who were kept for purposes of sexual relief, a common practice in the Greco-Roman world. (There were in classical times “boy brothels.”) In late 19th/early 20th century hobo slang, these young men were referred to as “gay boys,” which is how the word “gay” entered English with the homosexual connotation. In Greek mythology this was the function of Ganymede, the “cupbearer” of the gods, whose Latin name was Catamitus.
    The Greek term translated as “sodomites” refers to adult males who indulged in homosexual practices with such boys.

    That’s why a naive literalism is not encouraged. We cannot help but read these things with the modern meanings attached to older English translations of a text written in the koine of the first century.

    After this, Paul turns to the opinion of some Corinthians that sexuality is a morally indifferent area.

    “Everything is lawful for me…” The Corinthians may have derived this slogan from Paul’s own preaching about Christian freedom, but they mean something different by it. They consider sexual satisfaction a matter as indifferent as food, and they attribute no lasting significance to bodily functions. Paul begins to deal with the slogan by two qualifications, which suggest principles for judging sexual activity:
    Not everything is beneficial… Something may be pleasurable, yet be harmful in the long run. Ask a smoker.
    Not let myself be dominated. Seemingly free actions may in fact be mere enslavement to habits. Paul is warning them against operant conditioning of “if it feels good, do it.” They might start salivating just because they hear a bell ring and think they are satisfying the pleasure of eating.

  116. YOS
    [blockquote]Now, as to whether a portion of the rational soul may survive corporeal death is another issue, and one may disagree with this while acknowledging that souls (lives) are natural.[/blockquote]
    The centerpiece of christian faith is the eternally living soul. Your sidetrack about the Aristotle soul does not contribute in any way. Indeed I should have been more specific: “I do not believe in the resurrection of the body,
    and the life everlasting.”

  117. /blockquote/Just for the record, I do not, and never have, worshipped (sic) myself./blockquote/ – John B.

    “sic”? No John, that is the way non-United Statesians spell the word ‘worshipped’ – two p’s. No ‘sic’ needed.

  118. The blockquote didn’t work. Oh well.

    (blockquote)Blah, blah, blah(blockquote)

    I wonder if this will work.

  119. “Except in the Orthodox and Catholic churches, which account for two-thirds of all Christians. The matter there is more complex.”

    Of course it’s “more complex”. If you have a dogmatic text that clearly states something idiotic, your only have two options. Disown the Dogma, or jump through intellectual hoops to try to rationalize the idiocy. If there weren’t idiocies in dogmatic texts, there would no need for the process (industry?) of exegesis, obviously.

  120. Ye Olde Statistician

    November 27, 2015 at 9:51 pm

    Hans: Indeed I should have been more specific: “I do not believe in the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.”

    And you are perfectly free to do so, unless you deny free will, in which case you could not help it. Anyhow, if the separated soul is not a complete person, you should now see why the resurrection of the body is thought important.

    Peter: The blockquote didn’t work.

    You have to use the angle brackets for format commands on this system. The . (Let’s see if the system allows the independent use of the angle brackets.) Hmmm… “less than” and “greater than” signs. Above the comma and period (on my keyboard).

    Will: If you have a dogmatic text that clearly states something idiotic

    You seem to constantly confuse the Catholic and Orthodox with fundamentalists and atheists. The traditional churches (and I’m thinking the Oriental Orthodox and Eastern churches fall into this, as well) do not get their faith from the texts. They got their texts from their faith. For the Latin tradition, Augustine’s “On Christian doctrine” is a decent intro to how they used their texts a millennium and a half ago. It’s a good starting place.

  121. NOW I understand. The ‘greater than’ and ‘less than’ signs. I was wondering what you mean’t by ‘angle brackets’.

    Grace is accepting God and trying to live a Godly life. Some people choose to accept it, some do not. It’s not whether or not you “have” it, it’s whether or not you want it. You don’t have to accept it, you don’t even have to believe in it. However, just like not believing in gravity, there are consequences for not accepting God’s grace.

    Now I’m even more confused. Gravity has consequences because we all know it is real; the same cannot be said for God. Even if for argument’s sake we make the assumption that God exists, from this bare fact alone how would we determine what living the ‘Godly life’ actually entails?

  122. Oops, forgot to close the quote.

  123. Yos you are confusing free will with rational thinking. Resurrection of the body has grave complications as the molecules of the deceased are recycled. This would imply a complete recreation ex nihilo or an huge mass transfer. I don’t consider that remotely plausible.

  124. Hans: But you’re not a God. It would be easy for a God.

  125. “You seem to constantly confuse the Catholic and Orthodox with fundamentalists and atheists. The traditional churches (and I’m thinking the Oriental Orthodox and Eastern churches fall into this, as well) do not get their faith from the texts.”

    Complete and utter nonsense. Catholicism, or indeed, any branch of Christianity is not based on a textual interpretation of the New Testament? Really, you’re going to attempt that argument? Unless of course you define “faith” idiosyncratically as separaty from “dogma” or “teachings”. Which given your general sneakiness, I expect you would attempt.

  126. Yes sheri, it would be easy for a god, but then, I am an atheist as well. Eternal life is wishful thinking.

    Alice laughed. ‘There’s no use trying,’ she said. ‘One can’t believe impossible things.’

    I daresay you haven’t had much practice,’ said the Queen. ‘When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.

  127. Hans: I do remember that you are an atheist. However, the fact that you don’t believe does not prove or disprove anything. Believe is separate from reality.

    As for impossible things, consider:
    I go to the deep jungle of South America with my digital camera, tablet and printer. I find people who have barely seen anyone outside the village, let alone the magic boxes. IF, and that’s actually a big IF, the villagers don’t kill me as a demon, it is logical to assume they will find my ability to take a small box, push a button, take a “picture” of them, that picture show up on the tablet screen and then come out of the third box on a piece of paper magical and terrifying. It is IMPOSSIBLE for one’s image to appear on a box, then another, then paper. Yet it is not impossible. Impossible is a very fluid term. (I do love Alice in Wonderland, however, so the quote was cute.)

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