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Eliminating Randomness Reduces Need For God And Increases Belief In Evolution

Caution! The experiment I’m about to explain might increase your belief in God. It should only be attempted by academics who are immune to such deleterious effects.

Got a pair of dice? Before you throw them, guess what numbers will show. Obviously, what will happen is random, you have no control over the dice, and chances are you will guess wrongly. This is bad news. Because when you experience the dice’s randomness, you now are more likely to believe in God. Even worse, you might even toss your copy of The Descent of Man into the bin!

The result of this experiment really do appear to follow from the work of Bastiaan Rutjens, Joop van der Pligt, Frenk van Harreveld who wrote the paper “Deus or Darwin: Randomness and belief in theories about the origin of life” in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.

These eminences hope that, “belief in God and other supernatural agents can increase as a result of psychological threats such as existential uncertainty…and lack of control.” They “hypothesize that a threat to personal control (which poses a threat to perceiving the world as orderly and structured…) only increases belief in an external agent (i.e., God) when no notion of an orderly world is available.” [Citations are removed from all quotations.]

Even stronger:

[P]eople should be less in need of God when order in the world is affirmed, for example by offering an orderly perspective on evolution…[A] highly secular and scientific worldview …should be capable of protecting the person from the aversive experience of randomness, rendering belief in a controlling God superfluous.

See what I mean? If you had guessed what spots would show on your dice roll, your belief in a controlling God would be superfluous! But if you guessed wrongly and thus turn to God, you will find comfort because “Belief in God as a controlling agent thwarts notions of randomness in the universe and provides order.” No wonder gamblers pray.

To prove what they hoped would be true, Rutjens and his compatriots lassoed some undergraduates—the staple guinea pigs of academic psychologists—and asked them how religious they were. They then pestered them to recall “an unpleasant situation over which they had or lacked control” and to “provide three reasons supporting the notion that the future is (un-) controllable.”

Next, some kids were told about Intelligent Design (ID), others were whispered secrets about Darwinian Evolution (TE). ID has a controller, they said, and no randomness. TE was a mess, random from the get go. Our intelligent authors then designed an introduction to a third theory of evolution, one which is ordered and without randomness, but needing no controller (CMTE). And then just less than half the ID people heard of it, and just less than half the TE group heard of it. Finally, they asked the students to pretend they were biologists and to choose which theory (ID or TE; then ID or CMTE, or TE or CMTE) best explained all life as we know it.

Drum roll please, for the results are upon us. The kids who said they lacked control in their personally remembered “unpleasant situation” were more likely to believe in ID! These beset, twisting-in-the-wind kids were also more likely to choose CMTE over TE. It also appears (their graph displaying the results is sloppy—a mystery, since this article was peer reviewed) that ID just edged out CMTE.

Follow all that? Here are their conclusions:

[I]n the current study, affirming order provides in the same need as affirming belief in a supernatural agent, and consequentially nullifies increases in belief in such an agent.

And:

[F]raming Darwin’s Theory of Evolution as depicting an orderly and predictable process [CMTE] reduced the need to bolster belief in a supernatural agent. In other words, increases in religious belief under threat are nullified when other (even science-based) options to restore order are present. To conclude, because of its emphasis on random processes the theory of evolution in its original form will in all probability continue to spark controversy around the world, especially in uncertain times.

I don’t need to tell you, my loyal readers, that once you believe in evolution (and I do), all of life’s blessings are yours, so that naturally we must convince all living beings of its monumental importance and, once convinced, the world will be as one.

But perhaps you were not aware that the best way we can free people from belief in supernatural agents is to present the world’s operations as proceeding from a comforting, orderly process. Of course, this might only be so for Dutch undergraduates who were able to remember “unpleasant situations” over which they felt they had lack of control.

54 thoughts on “Eliminating Randomness Reduces Need For God And Increases Belief In Evolution Leave a comment

  1. It might all be true (well… “truish” at least?!?), but the clearly biased intentions will make the paper be taken as sheer propaganda.

    And I won’t blame them.

  2. I have to say I think this paper gets it wrong. “Randomness” is not the issue, it’s the issue of lack of control. The explanation for the forces one can’t control is the issue.

    To be more clear, the advent of “randomness” as an explanation for natural phenomena with quantum mechanics provided a new explanation for natural disasters, evolution and so on. Certainly one way to view it is that “randomness” could be a substitute for “God’s will” in determining how the Universe functions. This is essentially the source of Einstein’s statement “God does not play dice with the Universe”, as mentioned above. It is also the source of Hawking’s recent misguided analysis that since the origin of the Universe might be explained by brane theory, God doesn’t exist.

    Interestingly, though, since science throws up its hands (at least in the case of quantum mechanics), saying that there is no way to predict the basic uncertainty of things, it leaves that as a potential vehicle for “God’s will”. Also, since science depends on observation to accept anything, the simple fact that science has not observed God directly intervening is no proof that he doesn’t, or won’t.

  3. If you want to know how God handles “rolling dice”, all yuou have to do is read Esther 3:7 where Haman cast “pur” (the Persian version of dice) to establish the month and day the Jews would be slaughtered. God made sure the “pur” allotted the maximum time for the Jews to prepare.

    By the way; there are no less than 25 specific events and circumstances that had to occur before the Jews were saved from Haman’s plot. Each one had to occur or the outcome would not have been what God had predicted hundrends of years before. Maybe you can provide the mathematical odds of these events occuring without fail and in the right order?

    Let me help you out: The odds were 100%. Just like every other prophecy that was presented in the Bible and has already been fulfilled. (I’d be glad to cie even more stark examples of how God exists and controls history – to the exact day and hour.)

    But, in case you are not a Believer – and apprarently you are not – I can provide a logical argument for God that does not presupose that God exists at all or the Bible is His word.

    And the logical argument is as Formally True as “2 + 2 = 4”.

    Further, the force of the argument I can present will force you to either accept there is a Transendent Self-existent Causal Agent (I call God) or have to admit that you choose to suspend all logic and accept absurdity.

    Up to the challenge?

  4. What is the basis of the obsession that some people have with Evolution? Really, the theory can be well summarized in a paragraph or two. Random variations within a species mean some individuals are better adapted to their environment. Those individuals are more likely to pass on their genes to later generations. Isn’t that about it? Why do some people see this as a Big Deal? The greatest scientific achievement of all time? Darwin as the greatest scientist? I suspect it’s based on animosity toward religion, as if the more Evolution is touted, the less religious we will all be. Why else would our nation’s elites care if parents in Podunk Kansas want to teach their kids intelligent design?

  5. The only thing more strange than the idea that humans with intelligence resulted from slime in the sea is the idea that a creator outside of space/time/matter produced this world and then took credit for it by writing the Bible. Faith is required for both propositions.

  6. MD,

    I’m up for it. How about the exact day and hour the world ends. I don’t want to be caught unprepared.

    All,

    The point here is not to argue for against any particular evolutionary theory—some kind of descent with modification appears overwhelmingly likely to be true—but to ask why it is so important that people be forced to confess belief in this theory. Part of the answer is evidently that once a person believes in an evolutionary theory, they will cease believing in God. Which observations show is false and is, in any case, not logically necessary.

    Why not insist everybody understand the chemistry of electron shells? The theory for that is just as likely to be true as evolutionary theory. But you don’t hear protests, books written, snide and asinine remarks when somebody professes ignorance of this fine science.

  7. Because the world is chaotic, and I have no control over events, there must be a god? This strikes me as an odd concluson. It suggests a rather capricious god. I am more pursuaded by arguement that there is an underlying order to the word, and THAT is evidence that god exists.

  8. Funny, isn’t it, how undergraduates can’t predict the outcome of one roll of the dice, but casinos can predict the outcome of millions of rolls. Evolution seems to be based on the thesis that not only does God play dice, He plays everywhere, all the time, as fast as He can, with whatever dice are available. And I suspect He has the house advantage.

  9. Briggs & MD — I’d like to observe this discussion about the proof for God too!

    The Rutjens, et. al. paper is just one in a long line of such. One can get as much or more insight from an anthropology course that focues on this subject. Here’s the gist of what’s been noted:

    Agrarian (farming) societies tend to have multiple gods (tracking with the multiple issues that affect crop growth & survival).
    Agrarian socieities tend to have bloodly rituals with their gods (e.g. blood sacrifice, etc.), which suggests something about the human species.

    Herding/hunter gatherer socieities tend toward mono-theism, or very few deities (tracking with the shepard over the flock pattern). Their gods generally demand much less blood lust (presumably the hunting & slaughter intrinsic to daily life in such societies compensates for such a need).

    The early establishment of gods aligns with uncertainties associated with nature — where “science” or understanding fails a “god” is presumed as a cause.

    The more control a society has over its means of food production & survival the LESS need is built into rituals for appeasing a god associated with something in nature.

    Societies that grow from a family group to a larger city state have been [as far as anybody can tell, always havebeen] characterized by a human ruling authority that invokes a deity/ies that MUST be appeased on some way AND which gives the ruling authority the right to be the ruling authority. A relatively modern example is the so-called “divine right of kings” (that, incidentally, was part of a serious argument applied to try & have the young Queen Elizabeth resume English rule over Canada). The reason for this is that by invoking a deity the ruling authority can control the production of goods, mostly food, and most importantly surplus production — the right to tax and collectivise. This is crucial for a primitive socieity (in particular) to survive long term as a socieity. The Old Testament of the Bible has a classic illustration of this in which Joseph interprets the Pharoh’s dream indicating seven years of bountiful harvests that will be followed by seven years of drought/famine — which is used to collectivise & save production for the coming lean times. In practice, societies that grow large, requiring writing to ensure control, equitable taxation, etc. invariably have a ruling class supported by a religious class of priests — with the latter exercising considerable actual control, which may or may not be apparent to those ruled (perhaps “the” classic example of this priestly control being formally attacked by the ruling class was Pharoh Akhenaten (spelling?), father of “King Tut,” who tried to institute his own religion and move the capital — it worked only temporarily and his existance was almost stricken from the record as part of the backlash; while this is usually reported as a religious change, it was clearly a power play to marginalize if not eliminate the priestly class of ruling authority that didn’t work.”).

    The above basic patterns are observed throughout the world among all human societies with very rare exception (and in many cases those exceptions reflect carry-overs from the society when times were different).

    TO SUMMARIZE:
    Yes, religion clearly starts out as a) a means of explanation for things in nature (e.g. thunder is Thor beating his hammer), but invaribly becomes b) a means of & justification for social control. If anyone doubts the latter consider the endless number of psychologically toxic cults that exploit the members to enrich those at the top (Steven Hassan’s work, Combatting Cult Mind Control” is a classic). In modern sociiety, especially in the US, it has morphed into c) a re-definition of “god” to meet one’s particular likes & needs.

    If anyone doubts “c” consider the myriad of mutually-exclusive forms of “christianity” being practiced — so many that the meaning of “christian” is becoming almost meaningless. The Episcopal Church, for example, either does or does not find accomodation for gays, depending on the particular church. Many churches now endorse a so-called “personal relationship with Jesus” reflecting an innovative change in theological doctrine begun with with the pietist movement in the 1700s, and further modified by the anabaptist movement in Pennsylvania in the late 1700s; regardless of what one believes, a plain reading of the text shows Jesus neither endorsing or soliciting such a personal relationship (nor did the earliest writer, Paul, etc.). Which is but one of numerous examples of how people have created the god they want (parodied in a section of the book, Catch-22, in which a woman aethist argues for the particular type of god she doesn’t believe in).

  10. “Why not insist everybody understand the chemistry of electron shells?” That’s exactly right. You will never hear a Bill Maher or other “enlightened” personality ranting about the failure to teach about electron shells, or even Newton’s laws of motion. Thousands of kids are leaving public schools each year without the ability to read, write and do math. But I’m supposed to be profoundly concerned if Podunk Kansas wants to teach I.D.?

  11. Albert Eimstein – God does not play dice.
    Nils Bohr – Albert, stop telling God what to do.

    Why do ID proponents believe God is not smart enough to come up with a mechanism like evolution?

  12. Many ID proponents believe that evolution and design can coexist. Organisms evolve, but some systems are sufficiently complex, with interdependent components, that could not have arisen purely by an evolutionary process.

    I don’t think that ID passes the smell test of good science. That doesn’t mean that sceptics shouldn’t try to poke holes in the accepted theory.

  13. The problem with Evolution isn’t that it necessarily disproves the existence of God so much as it amounts to reality flying in the face of strict literal interpretation of the Bible — in particular, Genesis. For some, to acknowledge that any part may not be precisely literal is a shattering as it allows for questioning all other parts. It’s terrible to have one’s World Model shaken to the core.

    I don’t see the connection between God and Randomness. I don’t think either is required for the world to run as it does. I think I have to agree with the gist of Albert’s assessment of QM’s supposed foundation on Random Process. Too much voodoo, if you were to ask me, and hardly necessary. Just because something appears random doesn’t mean it really is.

  14. It would be interesting to know why some people turn to religion (God) while others don’t. Is it really the randomness/uncertainty of the human condition? If one turns to God when grappling with uncertainty, and when God doesn’t answer any prayers, wouldn’t it lead to more paranoia and more uncertainty?

  15. “It would be interesting to know why some people turn to religion (God) while others don’t. ”

    Many reasons. For example, I converted to Judaism (I was agnostic before) after years of study, considering arguments from all sides, and reasoning. Others were born into faith and that was it or did it for emotional reasons. Same thing for the non-religious, I find.

  16. I am surprised by some of the comments on this topic.
    Some are confused by the difference between randomness and chaos
    and between perception and “known knowns” or in old fashioned speak – knowledge.

    Randomness infers without pattern – by chance.
    Chaos is a particular type of complex mathematical pattern.
    It is seen every day in the shape of the coastline and in the way many plants and crustations grow.
    What happens in any situation at any given time, is due to the interaction of the various forces applying in that particualr situation.
    It is often so complex that we cannot see the pattern or the cause.
    But nothing happens by chance – how could it?

    Some people have a particular personality type that cannot bear uncertainty and cannot bear to know that their life is not only finite, but may in the future may bring them much pain and that things are not always fair and that good does not always wins out in the end.

    Faith in an all knowing, all wise all loving god may bring solace.
    As can faith in an all wrathful, vengful, angry god.
    Take you pick.

    Or just expect the unexpected and know that it could be good or bad or unexciting.
    And that prediction is a difficult art, particularly prediction of future events.
    (Will Rogers or somebody else).

  17. I thought evolution was when the creature transforms within its lifetime (a caterpiller ‘evolves’ into a butterfly) and natural selection is a slow process of minute variations that take place over a much longer period of time (generations). Darwin believed in natural selection, not evolution (at least for humans).

  18. Paraphrasing BHO in “Hollyweed” — In times of uncertainty they cling to their guns and their religion

  19. I don’t think people *should know* about evolution, heck too bad for them if they don’t, or otherwise, I couldn’t care. But I think people should *care* that unscientific religious ideological nonsense are being taught in schools. Because schools *should know better*.

  20. Creationism is something I never quite “got”. Now given: there are Atheistic Creationists (these usually come in the flavor of “humans placed on earth by aliens/humans did not evolve”), but in the case of religious Creationism I have to scratch my head because of the sheer number of religious individuals who embrace evolution without a problem (in fact, some of Darwin’s earliest supporters were, of all things, clergy). What exactly is the issue other than warping a text far out of its intended purpose, seeing literal readings in passages that were meant to teach lessons via metaphor? I just don’t get it.

    I also found these two comments interesting:

    “In times of uncertainty they cling to their guns and their religion”

    “Some people have a particular personality type that cannot bear uncertainty and cannot bear to know that their life is not only finite, but may in the future may bring them much pain and that things are not always fair and that good does not always wins out in the end.

    Faith in an all knowing, all wise all loving god may bring solace.”

    Speaking as an Agnostic myself, I always chuckle at this. After all, the same could be said of Atheism: the hope in the unseen and unproven and the belief that somehow, someway we will have certainty and closure. I suppose then there is not that much of a gulf between theist and atheist, after all.

    I’d say that people cling to whatever solace they can find. Some read Aquinas and some read Hume.

    Me? I read Pratchett. In an uncertain and unknowable future, the only guarantee is that you’ll need to smile.

  21. Also this notion that some people here espouse, the idea that why not compatibilize evolution with god? Well, You can do it. The church does it. It isn’t hard at all, you just need not to worry too much that both of those beliefs contradict each other in a deep level.

    In a sense, it’s like asking “but why can’t we just believe that is possible to square a circle?” Well, of course you can believe so, but that’s not the sign of intelligence or mathematical wisdom.

    Why do I say these things? Is evolution incompatible with the theory of God-driven-Earth? I believe so, and the reason why is simple. The basic premise of natural selection is that it is an unguided process, and the model only works if you assume that it is, in fact, unguided. And if we accept that evolution is unguided, this is clearly incompatible with the notion that God made earth just so humans could be discussing theological details 4.5 billion years later.

  22. I suppose then there is not that much of a gulf between theist and atheist, after all.

    This thought only stems from smug ignorance about the subject. Being an agnostic is perfectly fine, technically speaking we should all be agnostics about a lot of things, perhaps about everything. But one thing is to proclaim that god exists, his name is X, his son is Y, here are your duties to the divine, here are the rituals you should obey, and so on and so on, quite another is to say that this is “total bunk”, since you have simply no evidence whatsoever that this is, in fact, the case.

    Clearly, sanity resides not “outside” of this choice. There is no “Tertium Datur” where the “reasonable people” reside. Just think about this: by being an agnostic, you are also damned to hell. Either you accept Jesus in your life or you don’t, there’s no “but”. Either you go to church and pray or you don’t.

    That’s why I think agnostics are atheists in practice, condescending uncommitted in their voices.

  23. “This thought only stems from smug ignorance about the subject.”

    Given what you say later on, this sentence seems to speak more about you than me.

    “Clearly, sanity resides not “outside” of this choice. There is no “Tertium Datur” where the “reasonable people” reside. Just think about this: by being an agnostic, you are also damned to hell. Either you accept Jesus in your life or you don’t, there’s no “but”. Either you go to church and pray or you don’t.”

    …or I’m deluded or I’m not.

    ….or I’m a “intellectually dishonest fence sitter” or I’m not.

    ….or I’m “just a closet atheist who is uncommitted to the TRUTH!” or I’m not.

    Doesn’t sound there’s too much of a difference: you both deal in unproven absolutes, where one is either chosen or damned.

    “That’s why I think agnostics are atheists in practice, condescending uncommitted in their voices.”

    You couldn’t have written that with a straight face.

    Wow. It’s as if you wanted to prove my point for me. If so, thank you.

  24. JH,

    “…when God doesn’t answer any prayers, wouldn’t it lead to more paranoia and more uncertainty?”

    God helps him who helps himself, donchya know? If God isn’t answering your prayers you obviously aren’t doing enough.

    Aussie Dan,

    While chaotic math may generate curves similar to coastlines that doesn’t mean chaos actually exists in nature. In fact, how would you ever prove it? You certainly couldn’t use chaotic math to make predictions.How would you distinguish between chaotic output and random noise?

    Eric Dailey,

    If “random process” is synonymous with “unknown or incalculable process” then random exists by definition.

    Luis Diaz,

    Wow! By just being agnostic, i.e.,holding the position that God and Hell are unprovable/unfalsifiable concepts, one is automatically assigned to a place whose very existence is unprovable. Interesting logic. Let me say again: Wow!

  25. DAV,

    No, I had no clue! Now I know. “God helps him who helps himself.” I like it.

    My daughter once asked me why God hadn’t answered her prayers.
    “Maybe He speaks neither English nor Chinese,” said I.
    Though she laughed, she didn’t agree with me at all.

  26. Vocabulary

    Randomness, chaos and uncertainty —

    Mathematically, chaos is deterministic, sensitive to initial conditions, and unpredictable.
    Colloquially, chaos is without order, or where chance reigns.

    Random is without pattern. But often, things that are random are predictable. Quantum decay would be an excellent example.

    Uncertainty — it doesn’t really mater what the source of uncertainty is, you don’t know.

    Evolution vs. Natural Selection — Evolution can mean development, but in biology, evolution refers to changes in the genetic code over generations. Natural Selection is the mechanism.

    Belief and Religion — I don’t think these have to go together. Religion is the practice, the rites, the rituals and the traditions. If you believe in god, but don’t go to church, you are not religious in my book.

  27. Doug M

    Sounds good to me. You can also add that just because one stands in a church doesn’t make them a christian, any more that standing in your garage makes you a car.

  28. jjflash, you still don’t get it. Religion is not symmetric to atheism, and you are treating it like so. The lack of tertium datur does not come from the “atheist” side. I’m not damning you to hell because I’m an atheist, I’m saying that the religious creed and thesis is that, if you do not accept Jesus in your life, you are a de facto atheist.

    Now, you can say, “well, I’m undecided. I don’t know the truth, and I see it that it can go both ways”.

    Alright then, I can understand that. The problem is when agnostics behave as if they had the “moral high ground” on these issues, when in truth all you have is an uncommited “Dunno”. Well, if you “don’t know”, then have more respect for those who think they know. Because perhaps they have a point, they have thought this much more thoroughfully than you have.

    Imagine that someone is “agnostic” of whether Homeopathy works or not. Then some medic comes along and smacks your “dunno” smugness to smithereens. Is that because he’s shrill, strident, absolutist or just because he’s right and he knows it?

    Worse, in doing this, you misrepresent atheism. Atheism comes from the skeptic position, not the other way around. It starts from an agnostic point of view, and then asks theism for evidence. Heck, Alas, none whatsoever is ever provided. Is it so absolutist for one person to look at this lack of evidence, preposterous assertions, questionable morals, theocratic tendencies and utter “hey, this looks like horse excrement to me”.

    No, it’s called common sense.

    «You couldn’t have written that with a straight face.»

    Yes I can, since it’s my experience. I’m tired of these superiority smug people telling me that I shouldn’t have an opinion on these matters. Who are you to say such a thing?

  29. Wow! By just being agnostic, i.e.,holding the position that God and Hell are unprovable/unfalsifiable concepts, one is automatically assigned to a place whose very existence is unprovable. Interesting logic. Let me say again: Wow!

    Well if that’s the agnostic position, then I’m agnostic. You are missing out on something important: if something is “unprovable/unfalsifiable” by definition then it’s not really distinguishable from anything else that is unprovable/unfalsifiable”, i.e., crazy infinite possibilities.

    An agnostic that differentiates himself from an atheist is someone who will still believe that such a thing has a small but discernable chance of really existing, i.e., someone who is not capable of seeing the chance of such an unprovable/unfalsifiable” place is infinitesimal, almost by definition.

    Then you misunderstood me. You will go to Hell, if the Christian story is True, and you don’t accept Jesus before you are dead. This is why I mean that there’s no Tertium Datur. Either you accept this theory and accept Jesus or you don’t. If you say “perhaps”, and still not accepting Jesus, you will burn in hell. This isn’t my logic, it’s Christian logic. And the fact that you are berating me for it is ridiculous. I’m not the one making this up.

  30. “Religion is not symmetric to atheism, and you are treating it like so.”

    Why do I have a feeling you are about to prove the very opposite?

    “The lack of tertium datur does not come from the “atheist” side. I’m not damning you to hell because I’m an atheist, I’m saying that the religious creed and thesis is that, if you do not accept Jesus in your life, you are a de facto atheist.”

    Firstly, of course you’re not damning me to hell. You don’t believe in it and I doubt it too. You are however damning me to the world of “the deluded” or the “unawakened to THE TRUTH!” . The realm where anyone who is not committed to unwarranted leaps of faith and acts of exaggerated self-importance are damned. The things is, I don’t believe in that, either.

    So once again, I see no difference.

    Secondly, your “thesis” is not a universal doctrine across Christianity and certainly not across religions over all. Thus your thesis is more based a sub-section which you have generalized to an entire denomination. Thus, your argument, while no doubt effective against fundamentalists and certain creeds therein does NOT speak of the entire Christian spectrum.

    “Now, you can say, ‘well, I’m undecided. I don’t know the truth, and I see it that it can go both ways’. Alright then, I can understand that.”

    Oh good, I’m glad that you understand–

    “The problem is when agnostics behave as if they had the “moral high ground” on these issues, when in truth all you have is an uncommited “Dunno”. Well, if you “don’t know”, then have more respect for those who think they know. Because perhaps they have a point, they have thought this much more thoroughfully than you have.”

    –or not.

    “Moral High Ground”? No, just the “Logical High Ground”.

    So you want “respect”, do you? I respect you just fine. The same respect I afford religious people. But the truth is I (and many others like me) don’t see anything that warrants the kind of certainties either side has. I assure you, I am quite committed to that.

    Now if you have a problem with that. Well, c’est la vie.

    “Imagine that someone is “agnostic” of whether Homeopathy works or not. Then some medic comes along and smacks your “dunno” smugness to smithereens. Is that because he’s shrill, strident, absolutist or just because he’s right and he knows it?”

    Woah! Talk about a categorical error, sunny. Just because I don’t find rational cause to leap at an unproven reality, I’m suddenly a believer in Homeopathy (which HAS been proven to worse than worthless)?

    The difference between the medic and you? He has proof and warrant in his certainty. You don’t

    Sorry, but it looks like my “smugness” has rational cause.

    “Worse, in doing this, you misrepresent atheism. Atheism comes from the skeptic position, not the other way around. It starts from an agnostic point of view, and then asks theism for evidence. ”

    No. Atheism comes from a positive statement (“There is no god/gods”). It is absolutist certainty, no different from Theism which makes the positive statement (There is a god/gods).

    From your position than the same could be said of the theist asking the atheist: “Provide evidence that god/gods do not exist”.

    Both sides are unable to provide evidence for their claims and then blame each other.

    There’s semantic wrangling, finger pointing, and then the dance starts all over again.

    “Heck, Alas, none whatsoever is ever provided. Is it so absolutist for one person to look at this lack of evidence, preposterous assertions, questionable morals, theocratic tendencies and utter “hey, this looks like horse excrement to me”. ”

    I don’t know…is it so illogical for an agnostic to look at the lack of evidence, unfounded assertions, questionable morals and the oppressive tendencies of Atheist states throughout history and say “Hey wait a minute, you guys are both full of balloon juice”?

    See that? THAT is common sense.

    “Yes I can, since it’s my experience. I’m tired of these superiority smug people telling me that I shouldn’t have an opinion on these matters.”

    Oh you are free to have an opinion on this matter. Just as the religious are free to have an opinion on the matter. Just as I am free to point out how feeble your condescending attitude really is and how little the differences between you really are.

    “Who are you to say such a thing?”

    Who am I? A man who is tired of listening to the ranting and feet stamping of the ideologically myopic. That’s who I am.

  31. Well I’m with Ken…..so c’mon MD lets see it. Think I’ll make some popcorn.

    Luis, has anyone suggested that sometimes….just possibly…..maybe….you come across as
    somewhat…..slightly….abrasive??

  32. «Luis, has anyone suggested that sometimes….just possibly…..maybe….you come across as somewhat…..slightly….abrasive??»

    … therefore my arguments are wrong, and all atheists are absolutists. Perhaps it’s this kind of thinking that comes across so often that really irritates me. I don’t know, perhaps I’m wrong and politeness is the ultimate criteria for truth.

  33. jjflash,

    We are talking past each other, and I believe the problem here is one of definitions.

    I have accepted your definition of “agnosticism”, but that was a mistake of my part, I shouldn’t have done so. Agnosticism is here defined by you correctly as a technical uncommited position about stuff. And if God is “unprovable”, then we should all be agnostics about it. Quite correct. Technically, I *am* an agnostic, but that doesn’t deter me from having an opinion on that matter. Thus, it is quite possible indeed for an atheist *be* an agnostic, technically speaking.

    I’ll leave Russell’s teapot as a technical example of this. Imagine there’s this theory that states there is a floating teapot between Venus and Mercury. We cannot produce an image of it, because it’s technologically impossible (for our life time). This question is rendered towards a metaphysical question, it’s an unprovable assertion. Should we then be agnostics towards this issue? Well, yeah, technically speaking we should. But anyone with a right mind will be an “ateapotist”. Or “aWithCraftist”, “aFairyist”, “aUnicornist”, etc.

    I do agree that my example with Homeopathy wasn’t the best. As you gathered, the problem with “God” defined in the most vague way possible (so it won’t flunk any empirical or logical test) is one of an unprovable type, and so atheists won’t get any evidence of this. But are we then to entertain any silly possibilities that believers preach everyday, just because it is *possible* and I can’t prove them wrong?

    Surely that is ridiculous. And it is this unambiguous position that is called “atheism”. It’s not only about God, but mostly about the assertions made of him/it/her/whatever. Technically speaking, one could even invoke the notion of Ignosticism, but aren’t we arriving at a silly semantic debate now?

    « You are however damning me to the world of “the deluded” or the “unawakened to THE TRUTH!”»

    No, that’s completely untrue. What I am saying is that, apart from what you dare say about the god proposition itself, in all other respects, you are a de facto atheist. You don’t live your life as if God exists, in other words, and then pretend you are somehow a “fence sitter”. No, you’re not, you live as if you are not, and “if it quacks like a duck”… etc. “Agnosticism” was a 19th century invented term by a Darwin’s friend, and used by darwinists so that Evolution wouldn’t be charged of being “atheistic”.

    «No. Atheism comes from a positive statement»

    Atheism *is* a positive statement, but its justification *comes from* the agnostic skepticism about God not being answered satisfactorily.

    «From your position than the same could be said of the theist asking the atheist: “Provide evidence that god/gods do not exist”.»

    Sure, except that I do not tell you how you should live and what to expect irrespectively to any physical evidence, bringing as an argument “metaphysical truths”. This is what makes atheism different. I do not oblige you to give a tithe. I do not oblige you to pray, to confess, to absorve an ideology of original sin, that you should plead guilty to have been responsible to nail a man to a cross two thousand years ago, etc.

    At the most, I will tell you that evidence for an afterlife is wanting, that the brain is the real cause of conscience, that it mostly is a story to comfort people. And this is not without evidence!

    «I don’t know…is it so illogical for an agnostic to look at the lack of evidence, unfounded assertions, questionable morals and the oppressive tendencies of Atheist states throughout history and say “Hey wait a minute, you guys are both full of balloon juice”?

    See that? THAT is common sense.»

    What crackpottery. As if it was atheism that was the problem with communist states, as if you couldn’t crack its faults without mentioning the god issue at all. Play the guilt by association card, when I didn’t. Good job.

    «Secondly, your “thesis” is not a universal doctrine across Christianity and certainly not across religions over all.»

    It certainly is. Perhaps you do not know what these people actually profess and believe in, but I can assure you that 99% of christian religions out there (catholic, protestant, etc.) will demand from you acceptance of JC or else. Perhaps the priests themselves will not tell you so, for they lack the social blindness required to just telling people just that, but they will confirm it to you, albeit blushing while doing so. It is written in their playbooks, confirmed by their popes and bishops, etc.

  34. “Agnosticism is here defined by you correctly as a technical uncommited position about stuff.”

    Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. I believe Huxley said it best

    ‘Agnosticism is not a creed but a method, the essence of which lies in the vigorous application of a single principle… Positively the principle may be expressed as in matters of intellect, do not pretend conclusions are certain that are not demonstrated or demonstrable.’

    See that last part? “Do not pretend conclusions are certain that are not demonstrated or demonstrable”? That’s what an Agnostic is.

    “Technically, I *am* an agnostic, but that doesn’t deter me from having an opinion on that matter.”

    No, “Technically” you are an Atheist. You have already put your foot down and claimed that you know the “the TRUTH” and that god/gods do not exist.

    ” Thus, it is quite possible indeed for an atheist *be* an agnostic, technically speaking.”

    In the same way a square could be a circle, I suppose: by completely mangling the term.

    “Russell’s Teapot….”

    Really? You’re really going there? Alright, Here:

    http://maverickphilosopher.typepad.com/maverick_philosopher/2008/11/russells-teapot-does-it-hold-water.html

    I don’t think too highly Vallicella overall, but at least here he succinctly summarizes exactly why that entire paragraph was flawed from start to finish. Next time, leave the leaky tea cup in the cupboard or better yet, the trash.

    “But are we then to entertain any silly possibilities that believers preach everyday, just because it is *possible* and I can’t prove them wrong?”

    The same way I also have to entertain silly possibilities, unfounded conclusions, and soundbites that atheistic “believers” preach everyday.

    “And it is this unambiguous position that is called “atheism”.”

    Which is different from what I laid out before….how? You just reconfirmed what I said, sunny.

    “No, that’s completely untrue.”

    Oh really?

    “What I am saying is that, apart from what you dare say about the god proposition itself, in all other respects, you are a de facto atheist.”

    Atheism= the certainty in the belief that god’s/god do not exist

    Agnosticism= the position that one should not feign certainty on matters that are as of yet unproven.

    That’s it. That’s all there is to it. How in the blue hell am I an Atheist if you can clearly see that we do not have that commonality?

    A Deist, outside of matters of God, is a de-facto atheist then?

    “You don’t live your life as if God exists, in other words, and then pretend you are somehow a “fence sitter”. No, you’re not, you live as if you are not, and “if it quacks like a duck”… etc.”

    What…the….hell? I live my life not leaping to unproven conclusions and unverified nonsense.

    What the bunt cake were you trying to say with the rest of that paragraph? You kinda went off the rails a bit….

    ” ‘Agnosticism’ was a 19th century invented term by a Darwin’s friend, and used by darwinists so that Evolution wouldn’t be charged of being ‘atheistic’. ”

    No, it was a term invented to explain an intellectual position. As Darwin himself said,
    “The mystery of the beginning of all things is insoluble by us, and I for one must be content to remain an agnostic.”

    “Atheism *is* a positive statement, but its justification *comes from* the agnostic skepticism about God not being answered satisfactorily.”

    It’s “justification” (such as it is) comes from making an unsupported leap of faith. It is one thing to find the answers “unsatisfactory”, it is quite another to go into a position where you start producing unsatisfactory answers of your own.

    “Sure, except that I do not tell you how you should live and what to expect irrespectively to any physical evidence, bringing as an argument ‘metaphysical truths’. ”

    Except that you totally do.

    “This is what makes atheism different. I do not oblige you to give a tithe. I do not oblige you to pray, to confess, to absorve an ideology of original sin, that you should plead guilty to have been responsible to nail a man to a cross two thousand years ago, etc.”

    Right, but believing that most of the world is completely bonkers while you (and you alone) have “THE TRUTH”, that unproven conclusions are enough to demand obedience to your ideology, that anyone who doesn’t agree is “not in their right mind” or a “de-facto whatever”, and that the world will magically be all better if everyone only followed your ideology (and damn those who don’t)? That apparently is right as rain.

    See what I mean about Atheism and Theism being very much alike?

    “At the most, I will tell you that evidence for an afterlife is wanting, that the brain is the real cause of conscience, that it mostly is a story to comfort people. And this is not without evidence!”

    Yes, it is without evidence (solid, viable evidence anyway). Quit fooling yourself.

    “What crackpottery. As if it was atheism that was the problem with communist states, as if you couldn’t crack its faults without mentioning the god issue at all. Play the guilt by association card, when I didn’t. Good job.”

    Ah, so what’s good for the goose is not good for the gander eh, sunshine? Ah, the hypocrisy rains down like Chow Mein.

    “It certainly is. Perhaps you do not know what these people actually profess and believe in, but I can assure you that 99% of christian religions out there (catholic, protestant, etc.) will demand from you acceptance of JC or else. Perhaps the priests themselves will not tell you so, for they lack the social blindness required to just telling people just that, but they will confirm it to you, albeit blushing while doing so. It is written in their playbooks, confirmed by their popes and bishops, etc.”

    …which tells me that you really don’t know as much about the Christians as you say you do. You seem to view of their faith as a monolithic entity and attribute doctrines to all of them that they in fact have argued and divided into separate denominations over for thousands of years.

  35. «“Agnosticism is here defined by you correctly as a technical uncommited position about stuff.”

    Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. I believe Huxley said it best

    ‘Agnosticism is not a creed but a method, the essence of which lies in the vigorous application of a single principle… Positively the principle may be expressed as in matters of intellect, do not pretend conclusions are certain that are not demonstrated or demonstrable.’»

    Really, I can’t see any qualitative difference between what I said and what Huxley, the inventor of the word said about it. When I am agnostic about X, what I am saying is that I can’t commit myself to say something about X.

    «No, “Technically” you are an Atheist. You have already put your foot down and claimed that you know the “the TRUTH” and that god/gods do not exist.»

    I know nothing of the sort, since that’s not the dychotomy in which I work with, if there is or there isn’t a god. The dychotomy that I work with is this, are the Gods that are being positively portrayed around me True, and thus Man is the invention of these Gods, or are they the invention of Man?

    What I see around me is sheer evidence of the latter. About the Big Incognito, I say nothing, I can’t say anything about the “Absolute Truth”. I follow Wittgenstein on those metaphysical issues, perhaps even Rorty. But I say more than “saying nothing” about this, I say that not only do I not know anything about something inefable and untenable, but that I also do not recognise anyone else’s abilities to do just that. Thus one easily falsifies *every religion on the planet* that requires these kinds of metaphysical dogmas. When one person claims to know that God wants X or Y, he’s making stuff up, and I’ll call him on that.

    In the same way a square could be a circle, I suppose: by completely mangling the term.

    Ridiculous. Gnosticism/Agnosticism is a matter of placing ultimate certainty or not upon certain positions, while Atheism/Theism is about different positions. One can be an atheist with huge reservations. Or not many. Or one can be a theist full of doubts. All of these people are agnostics. They do not even pretend they *know* the truth, but they *believe* in a certain model of the universe.

    «I don’t think too highly Vallicella overall, but at least here he succinctly summarizes exactly why that entire paragraph was flawed from start to finish. Next time, leave the leaky tea cup in the cupboard or better yet, the trash.»

    Bah, you really think that argument “holds water”, respectively to what I was defending? Read better what I said, not what you think I’ve said, in a “ah, he made a reference to Russell’s teapot, I got that covered right here, there ya go”. The problem, evidently, is that I’m not claiming that the belief in a vaguish, unclear and undefinable term such as “God” really is, is tantamount to a belief in the Teapot.

    What I was doing was defending the case on how one can be an agnostic and an atheist at the same time, I was not really trying to disprove God. But please go on misreading me.

    «The same way I also have to entertain silly possibilities, unfounded conclusions, and soundbites that atheistic “believers” preach everyday.»

    Where are they? The dogmas atheists “preach” under some “atheistic dogma”? What nonsense are you talking about? This line of argument is the silliest thing you’ve done so far, but I really want you to elaborate on this, so I can understand where you come from a little better.

    «Atheism= the certainty in the belief that god’s/god do not exist»

    Please point me out what kind of lunatic dictionary you’ve brought out that silly definition.

    «A Deist, outside of matters of God, is a de-facto atheist then?»

    It depends on what he does with the notion of God in his everyday life. Of course that the difference between a Deist and myself is one thousand times less than between myself and a Christian or a Muslim.

    No, it was a term invented to explain an intellectual position. As Darwin himself said,“The mystery of the beginning of all things is insoluble by us, and I for one must be content to remain an agnostic.”

    To pretend that Darwin’s uncommited voice had nothing to do with his marital drama, with him drawing himself to be unable to believe in what her fervorous religious wife believed is not intelectually honest. His position is one more of like “I don’t want myself being dragged into this question, ask me not about it, I know nothing and want to know nothing about it”

    «It’s “justification” (such as it is) comes from making an unsupported leap of faith. It is one thing to find the answers “unsatisfactory”, it is quite another to go into a position where you start producing unsatisfactory answers of your own.»

    What kind of “unsatisfactory answers” are you referring to? When I don’t know the answer of something I will say “I don’t know”. When someone tells me that Goddidit, I’ll say bollocks, because I know how lacking those arguments are.

    «Except that you totally do.»

    You’ve been saying this throughout this conversation but as of yet, you have been unwilling or unable to produce said things. Tell me, where have I declared any morals stemming from my “faith” that god doesn’t exist, and where did I pretend that such Absolute Truth is argument enough for you to obey such morals? In Other Words, you are calling me a liar now, and I want you produce evidence of this.

    «Right, but believing that most of the world is completely bonkers while you (and you alone) have “THE TRUTH”, that unproven conclusions are enough to demand obedience to your ideology, that anyone who doesn’t agree is “not in their right mind” or a “de-facto whatever”, and that the world will magically be all better if everyone only followed your ideology (and damn those who don’t)? That apparently is right as rain.»

    Nonsense. Of course that I have my own views, how could I not?, and that I feel that some of those views should be more widely accepted than they are. But I have never pretended to know THE TRUTH. That’s ridiculous, specially in view of my truth relativistic position. What I do know is that any pretense to *know and preach* the Absolute Truth is an untenable one. And before you cry foul, remember, this obliterates *any* religion out there. Even before calling me an atheist, I reach this conclusion. Thus how can I call myself anything but an atheist? It may seem paradoxical, but it isn’t. Show me evidence that this being exists, and I’ll change my mind. Not before.

    «Yes, it is without evidence (solid, viable evidence anyway). Quit fooling yourself.»

    You think that the fact that the brain is what produces conscience is not scientifically established, through mountains of experiences with brain damages, and all neuro-science? You’re really stretching yourself out man. Get a grip.

    «Ah, so what’s good for the goose is not good for the gander eh, sunshine? Ah, the hypocrisy rains down like Chow Mein.»

    Not only calling me a liar, now an hypocrite. Where did I blame religion for the massacres, etc? Where did I do that? You basically said, look atheism caused communism, if that’s even minimally accurate, historically speaking. Do you even know Marx’s stance on religion, or do you only remember that decontextualized famous one-liner of his?

    «…which tells me that you really don’t know as much about the Christians as you say you do.»

    Then you are completely mistaken. I was a Christian catholic and I know its creeds. I am deeply inside its tradition. Despite your handwaving about my ignorance you have not provided any single evidence of me being wrong. As I am not. More clearly, over this entire discussion you have asserted many things without evidence whatsoever, called me a liar and hypocrite without justification, and then I’m the one to blame for not justifying my beliefs, when this is not even the venue I’ve chosen to do so. Don’t make me laugh.

  36. “When I am agnostic about X, what I am saying is that I can’t commit myself to say something about X.”

    …and yet YOU do. Many unfounded and unsupported things. I’m not sure who you think you’re fooling.

    “But I say more than “saying nothing” about this, I say that not only do I not know anything about something inefable and untenable, but that I also do not recognise anyone else’s abilities to do just that. Thus one easily falsifies *every religion on the planet* that requires these kinds of metaphysical dogmas. When one person claims to know that God wants X or Y, he’s making stuff up, and I’ll call him on that.”

    Which would mean then, you realize that your own statements concerning the proofs for your position are about as credible as any theist’s, right?

    “Ridiculous. Gnosticism/Agnosticism is a matter of placing ultimate certainty or not upon certain positions, while Atheism/Theism is about different positions. One can be an atheist with huge reservations. Or not many. Or one can be a theist full of doubts. All of these people are agnostics. They do not even pretend they *know* the truth, but they *believe* in a certain model of the universe.”

    Ok, I just answered my above question: no you don’t. Your semantic wrangling is adorable, but really has about as much to do with the actual term as Star Wars has to do with the works of Jane Austen.

    Though I am glad to see that you are starting to see the similarities between theism and atheism. Remember, the first step is acceptance, sunshine. =)

    “Bah, you really think that argument “holds water”, respectively to what I was defending? Read better what I said, not what you think I’ve said, in a “ah, he made a reference to Russell’s teapot, I got that covered right here, there ya go”. The problem, evidently, is that I’m not claiming that the belief in a vaguish, unclear and undefinable term such as “God” really is, is tantamount to a belief in the Teapot.”

    Oh really?

    “ateapotist”
    aWithCraftist”
    “aFairyist”
    “aUnicornist”

    Sound familiar, sunny? Sounds like you borrowed much your conceit from that line of argumentation and now you’re backpedaling faster than a unicyclist being chased by a moonwalking Tyrannosaurus .

    “What I was doing was defending the case on how one can be an agnostic and an atheist at the same time, I was not really trying to disprove God. But please go on misreading me.”

    Ah, you get caught on your nonsense and it’s me misreading you. If you bothered to read my link you’ll see that even in this second case, your argument still doesn’t hold. Forget that, if you’ve even been bothering to see the definitions laid out before you thus far in this discussion, you’d see that as well.

    Contrary to your statement, Luis. I read your argument quite well.

    “Where are they? The dogmas atheists “preach” under some “atheistic dogma”? What nonsense are you talking about? This line of argument is the silliest thing you’ve done so far, but I really want you to elaborate on this, so I can understand where you come from a little better.”

    A good example? Look in the mirror. You make conclusions that the science (or historical literature ) doesn’t back up, attempt to misrepresent universally agreed upon definitions, and then throw a fit when you are called out on it. Compare this to the works of Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and so on, and you’ll see why I said what I said.

    Silly? I think not.

    “To pretend that Darwin’s uncommited voice had nothing to do with his marital drama, with him drawing himself to be unable to believe in what her fervorous religious wife believed is not intelectually honest. His position is one more of like ‘I don’t want myself being dragged into this question, ask me not about it, I know nothing and want to know nothing about it’ ”

    Oh, so now he did it out of marital issues and little to do with intellectual honesty, following the data as far as it would go, and his own trust in the scientific method over ideology, or philosophical question that remained unanswered, did he?

    To quote George Pitcher:

    ” In later life, Darwin refrained from committing himself to atheism. He tended to have theistic moments, such as when contemplating how the universe came to be here at all. Darwin intuitively understood the pre-Enlightenment relationship between faith and reason, or the idea of a reasonable faith that is as old as Augustine. Unlike today’s posturing and positioning, he was a brave and honest explorer of all that makes us work. ”

    I’ll thank you to study the great man before you reduce him to a two-dimensional character.

    “I will say “I don’t know”. When someone tells me that Goddidit, I’ll say bollocks, because I know how lacking those arguments are.”

    …and yet you are unable to see how lacking YOUR arguments are. See what I mean about ideological myopia?

    “You’ve been saying this throughout this conversation but as of yet, you have been unwilling or unable to produce said things. Tell me, where have I declared any morals stemming from my “faith” that god doesn’t exist, and where did I pretend that such Absolute Truth is argument enough for you to obey such morals? In Other Words, you are calling me a liar now, and I want you produce evidence of this.”

    Really?

    So you DIDN’T claim that religions have “theocratic tendencies” (you did not say “some religions”, or “in certain situations, some governments have warped religious imagery and messages to serve a greedy purpose”, but rather left it as wide an accusation as you could), while reacting petulantly when that same wide net is thrown upon you?

    So you DIDN’T decry theistic morality (not a specific moral code or religion apparently, just some nebulous similarity which exists only in a fever dream) as “questionable”, ignoring the fact that the similarities between your mindsets means that anything you can claim of them can be also be directed to you or indeed any human?

    So I just IMAGINED that you were claiming the moral and intellectual high ground during that entire tirade(especially when you directed that same ‘fury’ towards agnostics with, “Well, if you “don’t know”, then have more respect for those who think they know. Because perhaps they have a point, they have thought this much more thoroughfully than you have.” )?

    No, Luis. I don’t think you’re a liar. I think you really believe this deep in your heart of hearts. No, you aren’t a liar. You are ideologically myopic. You are committed to this mindset to the point that you can’t see your own mirror image in the other side.

    “Nonsense. Of course that I have my own views, how could I not?, and that I feel that some of those views should be more widely accepted than they are. But I have never pretended to know THE TRUTH. That’s ridiculous, specially in view of my truth relativistic position.”

    …and yet you seem to have no problem claiming that others are completely wrong and you are right (in spite of the fact, that there is no data to warrant such a conclusion on your part). To quote Imago Montoya:

    “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

    ” What I do know is that any pretense to *know and preach* the Absolute Truth is an untenable one. And before you cry foul, remember, this obliterates *any* religion out there. Even before calling me an atheist, I reach this conclusion. Thus how can I call myself anything but an atheist? It may seem paradoxical, but it isn’t. Show me evidence that this being exists, and I’ll change my mind. Not before.”

    …and how is this different from the mindset of any theistic thinker since Aquinas or Alhazen (or heck even a deist like Voltaire or Flew) ? They have their reasons (or so the thought goes), which they would change if counter evidence appeared to disprove their view. You both have an a priori position which you claim will change with evidence.

    This ignores the fact that neither of you have sufficient empirical evidence to establish that a priori position as anything but a faith statement, but hey whatever floats your boat.

    “You think that the fact that the brain is what produces conscience is not scientifically established, through mountains of experiences with brain damages, and all neuro-science? You’re really stretching yourself out man. Get a grip.”

    Oh really?

    http://newhumanist.org.uk/2172/neurotrash

    http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php/site/printable/3893/

    Your “mountains of evidence” amount to interesting data that has been stretched far beyond what would be considered cold science and into the realm of populist nonsense.

    It is one thing to suggest that there is a correlation between lights on a board turning on and off and certain mental states being more observable. It is one heck of a jump to suggest that that implies causation insofar as human consciousness or free will.

    Now that would be nice, but so is the belief that we can concentrate mental energy to read minds. There is no data that has been produced, thus far which warrants such a leap.

    I suggest you get a grip. Preferably on a warm cup of Camomile tea. I think you’re a little high strung.

    “Not only calling me a liar, now an hypocrite. ”

    No, I don’t think you’re a liar.

    “Where did I blame religion for the massacres, etc? Where did I do that?”

    Massacres? I wasn’t even getting into those. I was matching your statement about “Theocratic Tendencies”.

    “You basically said, look atheism caused communism, if that’s even minimally accurate, historically speaking. ”

    I said no such thing.

    I was simply pointing out the flaw in your argument. To wit: no matter what argument you make about Theocracies, you could easily say the same thing about Atheistic states.

    Once again, there is little difference between theist and atheist, even when they are corrupted by a predatory government.

    “Do you even know Marx’s stance on religion, or do you only remember that decontextualized famous one-liner of his?”

    Funny, because:

    1. Most communist states only seem to focus on that “decontextualized one liner” .

    2. The French were doing that long before Karl was even born (see Terror, Reign of).

    “Then you are completely mistaken. I was a Christian catholic and I know its creeds. I am deeply inside its tradition. ”

    …which puts the recent Pew study into Christian beliefs into focus, doesn’t it? Short version: many Catholics and Protestants demonstrated a remarkable ignorance about the creeds of other Christian denominations and other faiths in general.

    A fact which you’re statement makes abundantly clear.

    Remember, sunny: Not all Christians are Catholic. =)

    “Despite your handwaving about my ignorance you have not provided any single evidence of me being wrong. As I am not.”

    Given that I have pointed out (REPEATEDLY) the fact that

    1. Your generalization about all Christians doesn’t hold water.

    2. Your semantic wrangling is unimpressive and does nothing but prove my point.

    3. Your certainties have no basis in fact (but rather “faith”).

    I’d say that statement (once again), speaks more about you than me

    “More clearly, over this entire discussion you have asserted many things without evidence whatsoever.”

    Pot? Meet Kettle.

    I’m starting to think you’re just pulling my leg….

    “….called me a liar and hypocrite without justification….”

    Not a liar. Just Ideologically Myopic.

    A point which you seem to reaffirm with every keystroke.

    “…..and then I’m the one to blame for not justifying my beliefs, when this is not even the venue I’ve chosen to do so. ”

    Huh?

    1. What the rice cake are you talking about? You HAVEN’T justified your beliefs. I’m waiting for you to do so. Where’s the beef, champ?

    2. What, were you hoping to take this act to the Apollo or Carnegie Hall?

    “Don’t make me laugh.”

    Well, one of us is laughing anyway. =)

  37. “When I am agnostic about X, what I am saying is that I can’t commit myself to say something about X.”

    …and yet YOU do. Many unfounded and unsupported things. I’m not sure who you think you’re fooling.

    Yes, you caught me on that, it was poorly written. What I mean to say is, even being an atheist, I do not suggest *certainty*, a 0% probability over the issue. What I mean is, I know my limits, even though being opinionated.

    Which would mean then, you realize that your own statements concerning the proofs for your position are about as credible as any theist’s, right?

    Wrong, for there are “no proofs” about the “non-existence of god”. You are still not getting it. What there are are multiple indirect evidence that “Gods” are made up entities by humans, like the antrophological findings of zillions of different gods with different powers, morals and reasons d’etre, psychological evidences of the superstitious nature of not only human beings but also [i]animals[/i], showing that they will prefer explanations of intent over simple random events anytime, moral relativism throughout history deflating proclamations of “True Moral Absoluteness” from any Religion, “magic” being refuted on and on and on, demons and angels being tossed to the bin where werewolves, vampires and ghosts already rot, evidence that the brain does create consciousness, thus putting to trouble all that stuff about “souls”, etc…. etc.. I can go on all evening.

    All these are indirect evidences that all this religious industry is an industry catering to some of our psychological needs with mental placebos, while justifying these with unfalsifiable narratives…

    Though I am glad to see that you are starting to see the similarities between theism and atheism. Remember, the first step is acceptance, sunshine. =)

    If that’s Jane Austen, gimme Star Wars anytime. At least I don’t get that sarcasm crap. If you have a point, write it out. So you ask yourself the question of whether my position is equal to a theists, and when I map to you the logical possibilities of these beliefs / knowledges, you conclude that I’m equal to a theist. Well, thanks for nothing really. Do you even understand the meaning of the word “logic”?

    Sound familiar, sunny? Sounds like you borrowed much your conceit from that line of argumentation and now you’re backpedaling faster than a unicyclist being chased by a moonwalking Tyrannosaurus .

    What’s the point of debating a so-called “agnostic” when he’s behaving like a true Believer-That-Atheism-Is-Equal-To-Theism? Yes, it sounds familiar because I borrowed a famous analogy, that was never intended to prove atheism right, but to proclaim that an agnostic can be, and in some situations ought to be an “a-something”.

    That you have failed to understand this single point from the beggining, still doing it now, and are now pretending that this “doesn’t matter” coz you can now resort to rethorical Bull is disappointing.

    Ah, you get caught on your nonsense and it’s me misreading you

    Yes, yes it is you misreading me. Go read what I wrote in the beggining. If you take your He’s-an-Absolutist glasses and make a sensible attempt at that incredible activity of “reading”, you’ll see it.

    If you bothered to read my link you’ll see that even in this second case, your argument still doesn’t hold.

    I bothered to read it. It holds a priori. Of course that a theist will say that his personal belief is “different” from anything else and that it doesn’t cater to someone’s critique. That this is seen as a “strenght” to the theist’s argument and not a fatal weakness is beyond me. When you posit something so outlandish, yet unfalsifiable, unobservable, etc., and then demand special pleading out of the obvious critique, how on earth is that position even worth of an atom of respect?

    A good example? Look in the mirror. You make conclusions that the science (or historical literature ) doesn’t back up, attempt to misrepresent universally agreed upon definitions, and then throw a fit when you are called out on it.

    You keep making vague accusations. It’s incredible. I’m starting to doubt your sincerity on this issue. Please make it concrete. Where exactly was I being “Dogmatic”? Quote me, for *something* sake.

    Oh, so now he did it out of marital issues and little to do with intellectual honesty, following the data as far as it would go, and his own trust in the scientific method over ideology, or philosophical question that remained unanswered, did he?

    I did not say those were not concerns of him. Everything needs a context, and I don’t know what would he have said had he married someone less … ahhh… sure of herself. But reading the letters is incredible enough. To her, “agnosticism” was just as bad as “atheism”.

    I’ll thank you to study the great man before you reduce him to a two-dimensional character.

    Isn’t that the natural consequence of a blog comment debate? It would be an even sillier accusation were we discussing this on tweeter.

    …and yet you are unable to see how lacking YOUR arguments are. See what I mean about ideological myopia?

    Bollocks, since my position is *precisely* one of confronting those who say “Goddidit” with “Bollocks”.

  38. So you DIDN’T claim that religions have “theocratic tendencies” (you did not say “some religions”, or “in certain situations, some governments have warped religious imagery and messages to serve a greedy purpose”, but rather left it as wide an accusation as you could), while reacting petulantly when that same wide net is thrown upon you?

    What the Heck has that ANYTHING to DO with me proclaiming moral statements from atheism?!?! Jeeesus! (ah!) When you make an accusation, STICK with it! I mean, hell!

    Now, to your point, yes, I did make a “wide” accusation, because it is what I think that stems directly from the teachings of Christianity, Islam and probably other religions that I don’t know enough about. It stems from the obvious fact that these religions dictate morals, behavior and even policy. A “True” Christian nation would be theocratic. I’m not passing judgement on religions because of this, it’s like a characteristic, just as saying that any socialistic idea put into practice can be thought of as a step “towards totalitarianism”.

    So you DIDN’T decry theistic morality (not a specific moral code or religion apparently, just some nebulous similarity which exists only in a fever dream) as “questionable”, ignoring the fact that the similarities between your mindsets means that anything you can claim of them can be also be directed to you or indeed any human?

    Now, I can’t question theistic morality, what the hell? The inherent problem with theistic morality is its proclaimed “Absoluteness”. Of course, if it is Absolute, it is Eternal, and if it is Eternal, then how on Earth is slavery being condoned in the Bible? Read the entire Leviticus and facepalm on it. Now the problem is, if it is both Eternal and clearly wrong, then how can we even discuss it, if we have a preacher pointing to the book saying that homossexuality is wrong, period, “coz Godsaidso”? The problem of Absolute Morality proclaimed by theists is that it would only worked if they got it “Right” in the moment that they wrote it.

    Clearly, they made the best job at the time, but it’s a very bad job in today’s reference. Shouldn’t we be able to question it? I mean, what kind of an “Agnostic” are you?

    So I just IMAGINED that you were claiming the moral and intellectual high ground during that entire tirade

    Irrelevant material with regards to the moral preachings I’ve ALLEDGEDLY proclaimed STEMMING from atheism. But go ahead with the strawman. It’s hilarious.

    You are ideologically myopic

    This from someone who makes accusations and then confuses them with completely different things. Well, if a confused person makes this charge, I’ll take it as a compliment.

    …and yet you seem to have no problem claiming that others are completely wrong and you are right

    If by “Completely” you mean “Absolutely”, then you are making a claim that I have never done. It doesn’t matter, I see, for you are hell bent, from moment ZERO, to show that I’m something I am not. Perhaps you confused assertiveness with absolute certainty. More confusions, I don’t doubt it much.

    …and how is this different from the mindset of any theistic thinker since Aquinas or Alhazen (or heck even a deist like Voltaire or Flew) ? They have their reasons (or so the thought goes), which they would change if counter evidence appeared to disprove their view. You both have an a priori position which you claim will change with evidence.

    Ah, so now am I to pay dividend to what I find to be lousy ideas just because “they’re out there”? What is this? Ultimate Relativism? Multiculturalism at its worst? Am I deprived of my own philosophy because “There are Others”? This is sheer contradictory nonsense. Aquinas logic about God is the silliest and funniest around, it cheers me up a bit, so I’ll excuse you on this one.

  39. Oh really?

    Yes, really. Perhaps you don’t believe it as much as I do. I view it in the same light as ghosts or phantoms. Once people thought they existed, now they are regarded as silly manifestations of human paranoia. Now please tell me what happens when you have brain damage. Or when you ingest certain chemicals. Or when you physically poke with the brain. Etc.,etc. All brain states are, if not “wholly” (I believe it so, but we can’t *still* say that scientifically) physical, at least they are fully dependent upon the physical.

    Now, the silly first text you link to is hand waving propaganda, pointing out major problems with regards to the social landscape of the scientific field as an argument against a basic fact of empirical truth: kill the brain, you have no conscience whatsoever. The second one lists all the things we do not yet know to counter that which we do know. It’s as silly as that.

    It is one thing to suggest that there is a correlation between lights on a board turning on and off and certain mental states being more observable. It is one heck of a jump to suggest that that implies causation insofar as human consciousness or free will.

    So please, enlighten me, what *else* could Consciousness be, rather than mental states?

    Now before we go on on this, I have to point out something. This is *not* an atheistic *creed*. This, for me, is basic empirical fact, *irrespectively* of the god issue.

    I was simply pointing out the flaw in your argument. To wit: no matter what argument you make about Theocracies, you could easily say the same thing about Atheistic states.

    Except that Atheism doesn’t have a kernel of moral “obligations”. When someone speaks of “Atheistic states” they should remind themselves that this denomination is only possible because religion has been obliterated in such states. So, atheism is *not the only thing going on here*, but active anti-theism and totalitarianism, forbidding anyone to be free to choose their inner beliefs. Atheism had little to do with these other two, specially the last one.

    «Funny, because:

    1. Most communist states only seem to focus on that “decontextualized one liner” .

    2. The French were doing that long before Karl was even born (see Terror, Reign of).»

    So people are stupid and dictatorial, therefore Atheism is Evil? Really. Here you have shown how dictatorships will censor any dissenting voice. I fail to see the relevance.

    «Short version: many Catholics and Protestants demonstrated a remarkable ignorance about the creeds of other Christian denominations and other faiths in general.»

    You are still entitled to enlighten me. You belabor the point too much and focus on belittling me, when you had the chance to shut me up and show how I was wrong. Porsuing this rethorical line, you do little in that direction, quite the contrary.

    «Remember, sunny: Not all Christians are Catholic. =)»

    Look, it’s a plane! No, it’s a rocket? No, its Captain Obvious!!

    «1. What the rice cake are you talking about? You HAVEN’T justified your beliefs.»

    Exactly. What part of “when this is not even the venue I’ve chosen to do so”. Jeeezzz.

    «2. What, were you hoping to take this act to the Apollo or Carnegie Hall?»

    Sigh…

  40. “Yes, you caught me on that, it was poorly written. What I mean to say is, even being an atheist, I do not suggest *certainty*, a 0% probability over the issue. What I mean is, I know my limits, even though being opinionated.”

    Well, that’s good to hear. Yet I have terrible feeling, a truly awful feeling that you will prove the opposite.

    “Wrong, for there are “no proofs” about the “non-existence of god”. You are still not getting it. ”

    Man alive…the basics of philosophical discourse: if you make an assertion you have to back it up. There is a god? Prove it. There is no god? You must prove it. Anything short of that is hand-waving.

    “What there are are multiple indirect evidence that “Gods” are made up entities by humans, like the antrophological findings of zillions of different gods with different powers, morals and reasons d’etre, psychological evidences of the superstitious nature of not only human beings but also [i]animals[/i] showing that they will prefer explanations of intent over simple random events anytime”

    1. …and how exactly does this prove that a god/gods do not exist? Wouldn’t the argument then be that some may be wrong, others have “part of the story right”, or that humans have screwed up the details? Just because one has proven that Brett Favre and Chad Ochocinco are obnoxious cry babies, does not mean that you have proven that all football players are obnoxious cry babies.

    2. Animals? Really? I never thought to ask my dog about his theological opinion (though I suspect he just really likes Joe Pesci and I’ll leave it at that). Seriously though, how does one confirm a “spiritual” experience? How does one quantify a “spiritual” or “supernatural” experience? How does one differentiate a “spiritual” event from any number of neurological events? I break my arm or someone breaks my heart, studies have shown the brain reacts very much the same in either case. How does one differentiate such feelings, especially when similar feelings are reported in “spiritual” experiences (The Milner/Miller study 2009; Van Lommel 2001; Sternberg, Richards, and Harrison, 2003, just to name a few) and the most important part: How does one find any of this within another species and how in the world does ANY of this prove what people prefer insofar as explanations (random vs. intentional)?

    ” ‘magic’ being refuted on and on and on, demons and angels being tossed to the bin where werewolves, vampires and ghosts already rot,”

    Which affects belief in gods/god…how exactly?

    “…evidence that the brain does create consciousness”

    Questionable and unproven.

  41. ” I can go on all evening.”

    Please do, so far you haven’t done much for your case, sunshine.

    “All these are indirect evidences that all this religious industry is an industry catering to some of our psychological needs with mental placebos, while justifying these with unfalsifiable narratives…”

    As apparently is the Atheistic literature industry, as you’ve so readily proven.

    “If that’s Jane Austen, gimme Star Wars anytime.”

    No she’s worse. To this day I get a rash every time I hear “Mr. Darcey” .

    “So you ask yourself the question of whether my position is equal to a theists, and when I map to you the logical possibilities of these beliefs / knowledges, you conclude that I’m equal to a theist. Well, thanks for nothing really. Do you even understand the meaning of the word “logic”? ”

    …because said “map” leads back to my same point. You’re the one doing this to yourself. I just wish you could see that.

    “What’s the point of debating a so-called “agnostic” when he’s behaving like a true Believer-That-Atheism-Is-Equal-To-Theism? Yes, it sounds familiar because I borrowed a famous analogy, that was never intended to prove atheism right, but to proclaim that an agnostic can be, and in some situations ought to be an “a-something”. ”

    A point which sank like the Lusitania before it even left harbor. There is only one “true believer” here….and it ain’t me, sunshine.

    “That you have failed to understand this single point from the beggining, still doing it now, and are now pretending that this “doesn’t matter” coz you can now resort to rethorical Bull is disappointing.”

    I’ve been playing straight with you, Luis. The only rhetorical bull that has been rattled off here, seems to come from you.

    I don’t understand why you are having such difficulty seeing that ultimately you make my point for me, that you are not different from the theist, after all.

    “I bothered to read it. It holds a priori.”

    As do you. Go on…follow the white rabbit.

    “Of course that a theist will say that his personal belief is “different” from anything else and that it doesn’t cater to someone’s critique. That this is seen as a “strenght” to the theist’s argument and not a fatal weakness is beyond me. When you posit something so outlandish, yet unfalsifiable, unobservable, etc., and then demand special pleading out of the obvious critique, how on earth is that position even worth of an atom of respect?”

    …and yet you don’t see this in your very own argumentation?

    le sigh….

  42. “You keep making vague accusations. It’s incredible. I’m starting to doubt your sincerity on this issue. Please make it concrete. Where exactly was I being “Dogmatic”? Quote me, for *something* sake.”

    Well you see….I. HAVE. BEEN. QUOTING. YOU!

    Good gravy, man! What have we been discussion or doing for the last three days?! I’ve repeatedly pointed out where the issues lie. Hell, the quotes above this one are just the latest!

    At every turn, I point out how close you are to the most dogmatic of believers, and yet you just seem to not care, handwaving it as you will.

    “Isn’t that the natural consequence of a blog comment debate? It would be an even sillier accusation were we discussing this on tweeter.”

    Hardly! I’d say it is our civil duty to elevate the discourse (besides, this is a respectable blog, run by a well respected blogger).

    ….and destroy Twitter. That thing is evil incarnate. 140 Character limits are for cavemen and Daleks.

    “Bollocks, since my position is *precisely* one of confronting those who say “Goddidit” with “Bollocks”. ”

    See what I mean? Since…well, MY position is precisely one of confronting those who don’t get the point with “See what I mean”?

    “What the Heck has that ANYTHING to DO with me proclaiming moral statements from atheism?!?! Jeeesus! (ah!) When you make an accusation, STICK with it! I mean, hell!”

    Right….so you just decried their morality as “questionable” just out of nowhere, then? Not a comparison of who is better or worse. Not a claim that you know better than they do. You just made a random statement? You could have just as easily turned around and said the same thing about an Atheistic philosophy, but chose not to?

  43. “Now, I can’t question theistic morality, what the hell?”

    Of course you can. So long as you see the problems on the other side of the street too. Which sadly you have not.

    “The inherent problem with theistic morality is its proclaimed “Absoluteness”. Of course, if it is Absolute, it is Eternal, and if it is Eternal, then how on Earth is slavery being condoned in the Bible? Read the entire Leviticus and facepalm on it. Now the problem is, if it is both Eternal and clearly wrong, then how can we even discuss it, if we have a preacher pointing to the book saying that homossexuality is wrong, period, “coz Godsaidso”? The problem of Absolute Morality proclaimed by theists is that it would only worked if they got it “Right” in the moment that they wrote it.”

    Given that many homosexual Christians and Jews looked at that passage and figured out that it was talking about cultic prostitution (as opposed to homosexuality) and have the linguistic data to back that statement up, and the fact that slavery in the ancient near east was very different than the institution of colonial slavery (a point which the abolitionists made clear in their argumentation) (See Dever, “Who were the Israelites?” ), I’d say there is definite room for disagreement there.

    Though I will say that I do indeed facepalm reading it. It’s not my cup o’ joe (and that’s just putting it mildly). But I also can see where various views on it, and how it can be used for good or ill.

  44. “Clearly, they made the best job at the time, but it’s a very bad job in today’s reference. Shouldn’t we be able to question it? I mean, what kind of an “Agnostic” are you?”

    Once again, I had no problem with you questioning it. I don’t dig it myself. However, such a view is useless if you ignore the problems or failings in your own viewpoint, in favor of pointing fingers.

    “Irrelevant material with regards to the moral preachings I’ve ALLEDGEDLY proclaimed STEMMING from atheism. But go ahead with the strawman. It’s hilarious.”

    Which I’ve pointed out repeatedly, thus the only strawmen I see being made come from your end.

    “This from someone who makes accusations and then confuses them with completely different things. Well, if a confused person makes this charge, I’ll take it as a compliment.”

    Once again (and again and again, it seems), this describes you more than me.

    “If by “Completely” you mean “Absolutely”, then you are making a claim that I have never done. It doesn’t matter, I see, for you are hell bent, from moment ZERO, to show that I’m something I am not.”

    I have given you many opportunities to prove otherwise, and yet not only do manage to come up short…you also manage to prove my point.

    “Perhaps you confused assertiveness with absolute certainty. More confusions, I don’t doubt it much.”

    You have proven otherwise, sunshine. Unless you’re backpedaling again? Which I do not doubt.

    “so now am I to pay dividend to what I find to be lousy ideas just because “they’re out there”? What is this? Ultimate Relativism? Multiculturalism at its worst? Am I deprived of my own philosophy because “There are Others”? ”

    No. You have to pay the piper insofar as me lighting your strawman on fire and pointing out that he appears to be stuffed with kerosene and horse droppings.

    “This is sheer contradictory nonsense. ”

    If you were referring to your own statement, I agree. I still don’t get the cognitive dissonance you are exhibiting here.

    “Now please tell me what happens when you have brain damage. Or when you ingest certain chemicals. Or when you physically poke with the brain. Etc.,etc. All brain states are, if not “wholly” (I believe it so, but we can’t *still* say that scientifically) physical, at least they are fully dependent upon the physical.”

    No. They are affected by the physical. This fails to demonstrate how (if it is so) the physical is the cause unto itself.

    “Now, the silly first text you link to is hand waving propaganda, pointing out major problems with regards to the social landscape of the scientific field as an argument against a basic fact of empirical truth: kill the brain, you have no conscience whatsoever.”

    You also would have no heartbeat, but that doesn’t prove cardiac muscles don’t exist. So score one for Raymond Tallis.

    Next!

  45. “The second one lists all the things we do not yet know to counter that which we do know. It’s as silly as that.”

    …and you just handwaved this one away, huh? No engagement, no argumentation, no nothing. Ah well. I’m trying not to be too surprised.

    “So please, enlighten me, what *else* could Consciousness be, rather than mental states?”

    An act of pure will, an immaterial “psycho-frame” shaped by a combination of social, behavioral, and physical processes, the list goes on.

    None of which have been proven. None of which I have certainty in. All of which I’m looking at, waiting and wondering for science to come up with the ultimate answer.

    “Except that Atheism doesn’t have a kernel of moral “obligations”. When someone speaks of “Atheistic states” they should remind themselves that this denomination is only possible because religion has been obliterated in such states. So, atheism is *not the only thing going on here*, but active anti-theism and totalitarianism, forbidding anyone to be free to choose their inner beliefs. Atheism had little to do with these other two, specially the last one.”

    The same can be then said of a Theocratic State: an extreme subset in a philosophy is twisted and then utilized by the corrupt and merciless to create a government which steps on personal freedoms.

    …and once again, the similarities keep piling up. =)

    “So people are stupid and dictatorial, therefore Atheism is Evil? Really. Here you have shown how dictatorships will censor any dissenting voice. I fail to see the relevance.”

    Now where did I say that? In fact, we’ve seem to have agreed on a point: it’s not the ideology, but rather people (very stupid, selfish people) that ultimately cause the problem. As with Atheism so with Theism.

    “You are still entitled to enlighten me.”

    Alright, listen up. Many denominations (the Quakers, the Christian Unitarians, The Ecumenical Catholic Church, the United Church of Canada, just to name a few), hold that damnation to hell is reserved only for those who consciously commit grave sins and harm others unrepentantly. They are believers in that is not one’s creed which determines your status in their afterworld/afterlife but rather one’s treatment and love of their fellow man. Thus in their theology, it is quite possible for a “righteous non-believer” be granted passage through the pearly gates, while a believer who went to church but brutalized his friends and family with glee will end up being spit roasted by Beelzebub.

    Thus your previous generalization is found wanting.

    Consider yourself enlightened. =)

    “Look, it’s a plane! No, it’s a rocket? No, its Captain Obvious!!”

    Don’t be so surprised. I’ve had to explain that one quite a few times.

    “Exactly. What part of “when this is not even the venue I’ve chosen to do so”. Jeeezzz. ”

    *facepalm*

  46. JJFLASH AND LUIS DIAS:

    WHAT DOES ANYTHING YOU GUYS HAVE BEEN ARGUING ABOUT HAVE TO DO WITH THE SUBJECT OF THE BLOG POST?

    YOUR POSTS KEEP GETTING LONGER AND LONGER, REVEALING THAT YOU BOTH HAVE GONE COMPLETELY OFF THE TRAIL AND ARE NOW JUST ENGAGED IN A FRUITLESS SCREAMING MATCH TRYING TO PROVE WHICH ONE OF YOU IS THE BIGGER JERK.

    I’M SORRY IF MY TONE IS HARSH, BUT I REALLY CANT STAND MUCH MORE OF THIS. THIS IS A PLEASANT BLOG, FULL OF RESPECTFUL AND WARM PEOPLE, FOR THE MOST PART, AND YOU HAVE BOTH HIJACKED THE COMMENTS SECTION FOR FOR YOUR OWN LITTLE UNRELATED WAR. SOMETHING WHICH WOULD BE BETTER ACHIEVED IN A FORUM OR VIA SMOKE SIGNALS OR ANYWHERE ELSE.

    I ASK YOU BOTH NOW, AS GENTLEMAN (LADIES?) AND AS FRIENDS OF THE ALWAYS GENEROUS MR. BRIGGS TO PLEASE MAKE YOUR FINAL STATEMENTS OR WHATEVER YOU HAVE TO DO AND PLEASE STOP THIS.

  47. Hey Sad, please don’t be mad. We’re just having some fun. If you want to contribute anything to the theme in question please do so, I’ll pay attention to that as well, I promise ;).

    Now, perhaps you are right and both me and jjflash have not been very respectful to both the author and audience. I apologize for that. But Mr Briggs knew, he “had it coming”, I mean he knows me enough for some time now that if he’s gonna put god into the title of his pieces, and people jump up on that, I’ll also jump in into that.

    I will abide to your suggestion of making a last “statement” and leave it at that, even if jjflash decides to respond in a provocative good fashion. I’ll number it so I can pretend to have some structure and sum up the whole position better.

    1. My “proofs” consist of indirect evidence, since direct is “impossible”. I cannot prove a negative. You then go on accusing me of not providing direct evidence, when I clearly stated why I did so, and have given instead indirect ones. I am sorry if that fails to convince you, that’s not my problem whatsoever. About being *able* to distinguish or not spiritual or supernatural experiences with normal experiences, it is my position that if you can’t distinguish between miracles and luck, it’s quite premature to call it a “miracle”. I’m with Hume on that point, he’s absolutely right on it.

    You make a reference to “atheistic” literature. I care of none. What I care are empirical studies of X and Y. If they are propagandistic, like the one that was exposed by mr Briggs, then they are poor science, if even that. Now it has not been scientists fault that a whole huge chunk of religious movements tried to hijack biology towards their silly inanities of Creationism, but I’ll admit that some of the least important responses, like this one, is a bit silly as well.

    2.

    …and yet you don’t see this in your very own argumentation?

    This was the kind of “comeback” that to me defined this conversation with you, jjflash. You do not bother to justify your accusations, you just like to spray the entire conversation with an infantile “you too! you too! you too!”, as if a tuo quoque was, one, a good argument and, two, minimally justified. Look, if I *saw* what you see as self-evident, that my position is *equal* to the theists’ one, then we wouldn’t have this conversation, and this point *is* self-evident. To try to convince me with the boring repetition of an unjustified accusation just didn’t do it.

    You continuously say “See? That proves my point”, and I just laugh at the silliness of that sentence. What am I to see? What am I to prove that I’m *not* something you unjustifiably accuse me of? What silliness is that?

    Further more, it is not enough to “quote me”, you have to point exactly in where my argumentation lies “dogmatism”. I see none of it. I see assertiveness and, sure, confidence. Why shouldn’t I be confident of my own worldview? I see that you are confident in yours, that Agnosticism *is the way to be*, so to speak, and I don’t read any dogmatism on that front.

    3.

    Right….so you just decried their morality as “questionable” just out of nowhere, then?

    Even a moderate christian will admit that the base line of christian “morals” are lacking. What they will not admit or know is that christian morals are supposed to be “Absolute”, and confirm the paradox I mentioned. It is a problem with Theism in general, for it pressuposes an Objective Observer, the only entity that can *ever* present an Absolut Truth, and provide Absolute Morals. Absolutism is, in essence, a religious phenomena, and this was established more than a century ago.

    So long as you see the problems on the other side of the street too.

    What particular “other street”? The “other street” you are referring to is a mish mash of different people, each one with their beliefs. Some are pretty darn strange, some are not. If I see stupid things I denounce it. Has nothing whatsoever to do with *atheism* though, since there’s no morality *driven out* of atheism (the nihilistic problem).

    Given that many homosexual …

    I’m sure they will rationalize it to smithereens. They will also be telling me that the Bible is not supportive of beating the crap out of kids, of mysogeny, genocide, etc. This is really whitewashing at its best, perhaps a signal of Stockholm’s syndrome. Couldn’t know. Perhaps next we will be told that the majority of christendom is quite supportive of homossexuality, and that they have not at all try to “heal” their nature, bash their practice, and condemn any legal attempt to recognise them. Well, if that makes someone feel better, who am I to say that’s nonsense? Probably better just to say that’s utter nonsense.

    4. Brain damage.

    You also would have no heartbeat

    Except in cases where your brain is dead while your body isn’t. I have no problems in saying that Consciousness has not been “proved” (silly word, proofs only exist in mathematics but I get your point) to be caused by physical beyond your doubts, but it surely has done so for me. Now, you might say, it can be caused *by something else*. What something? “Immaterial Pure Will”? How do you even begin to define something you are already describing as “immaterial”? Is that as “immaterial” as, say, software is? And if that is shaped by the physical, how could it survive the body’s death anyway?

    Usually, the knee-jerk reaction to the materialistic explanation stems from christian tradition of *souls* and what not, and the fear of loss of “Free Will”. We could discuss Free Will, but we won’t, I promised this would be my final statement. Just for the record, it’s not that I don’t *believe* in FW, it’s even worse than that, I don’t *get* FW. It’s an incoherent, inconsistent and contradictory concept that is widely accepted as a given. But how could you be Free from yourself? It’s silly. I’ll leave at that, perhaps you’ll be smart enough to fill in the gaps.

    5. Theocracy

    The same can be then said of a Theocratic State: an extreme subset in a philosophy is twisted

    No, it cannot. It is not the case that christendom or islam has to be twisted to be theocratic. It only has to act on its own tenets. The fact that nowadays christendom is not exactly *theocratic*, it is because of an intense and preserverant secularization process since the enlightenment. It is because it was told by the greater society to calm itself down, to tame itself, to twist itself to the point of almost irrelevancy as regards to state affairs.

    But do tell me that islam isn’t theocratic in nature.

    6. Hell

    Alright, listen up. Many denominations…

    Yes, I do know that. I like the quakers a lot. But do you see that these denominations present something like 3-5% of the entire christendom? If your point is that you have to dig out minority denominations to disprove my general point, then you are losing the argument.

    Thanks for your time.
    Luis

  48. *Hands Sad Panda some bamboo*

    I second Luis’s sentiment. We were just having fun. Now I admit that sometimes I can be a little rough around edges, but that’s because that’s how I play around. In reality, I like Luis and the people here.

    But you do have a point: This discussion has gone for too long and has gone off the rails.

    So I too will make my final statement and then be on my way.

    1. On Evidence

    My position is that while indirect evidence is important and should be considered, it also must be considered in light of other evidence which contradicts it. As of the time of this writing, it is my contention that neither side (Theist or Atheist) has produced sufficient evidence to justify their positions, let alone produce empirically viable data to support said position.

    As I see it, all we have on our hands is questionable evidence, unsound data and much of it contaminated further by propaganda and ideological concerns. Certainly not enough to make a claim of certainty.

    To paraphrase Inspector Clouseau : “Facts, Hercule, facts! Nothing matters but the facts. Without them science is nothing more than a guessing game.”

    2. On Dogmatism and Similarities

    It has been my observation that in this discussion, the similarities between the argumentation of the theist and atheist have become abundantly clear.

    A priori assumptions
    Broad generalizations
    Reliance on evidence that is questionable at best, propaganda, at worst
    Semantic mutilation

    …but being very quick to denounce the very same in the other side. This last point, I agree with: after all such nonsense should be called in on it’s face. However, when one fails to notice the same flaws in one’s own argument, then the issue becomes strained indeed.

    3. On Morals

    While I agree with Mr. Dias that Absolutism in its worst form can be an awful, awful thing. I would hardly call the morality of religious persons “lacking”. How many thousands of devout Muslims shelter and protect the sick, the abused, and the disabled, often times in spite of a local government’s brutal stance and as such often times at the risk of their own lives, not out of a fear of being condemned to some unpleasant eternal punishment or the quest for gaining servants and fame in the hereafter, but because they view all people as being equal in all things? How many millions of Christians dedicate their lives to aiding the homeless, the poverty stricken, and the addicted, not for fear of damnation or a quest for reward, but out of genuine love for their fellow human beings, seeing them as all being good creations of a gentle maker? How many countless others from other faiths fight a never ending struggle to make the world a better place for all people, dedicated to the belief that all humans are worthy and loved, and seek to bring that love to others?

    I do not call this lacking. I call it extraordinary and beautiful.

    4. On Homosexuality

    As I stated before, I don’t think too highly of the book as a whole. However, it would appear that textual analysis, anthropological data, and a study of pre-4th century texts suggests that the LGBT religious have sufficient warrant to believe as they do and this calls into question the behavior of some of their fellows.

    Far from simple rationalization, it would appear that LGBT Christian and Jewish persons have very good basis and reason to believe that their holy books do not condemn their lifestyle (noting that such condemnations refer to cultic prostitution and sexual slavery, not homosexuality). Given the increasing numbers of such individuals (and heterosexual religious who stand with them) it would seem the zeitgeist is with them.

    5. On Consciousness

    As I stated before, I would love to believe what some neurologists claim: that one could simply “cure” a sociopath. To give them a drug or treatment which would make them productive members of society. But in my line of work, I’ve seen psychotics and the violent mentally ill medicated and restrained. The chemicals inhibit them somewhat and slow them down, perhaps. But it doesn’t stop them. Something else, something beyond what we understand about the physical brain keeps them as they are.

    I would love to believe that consciousness begins and ends with the physical brain. But so far the data is highly unconvincing and once again, it runs the risk of being hijacked by the ideologically fanatic and being warped far beyond what it was intended to show even to the point of urinating on the scientific method (as the Persinger study disaster demonstrated).

    As before, it is my position that the data is insufficient.

    6. On Theocracy

    While I can see some interpretations and denominations would be more accepting of such a political state than others, I also see many more Abrahamic believers who find that their texts would actually be anathema to a Theocratic state. Many Christians who believe their religion must remain as far from the seats of power as possible (to avoid corruption). Many Muslims who believe that their belief thrives only in a democratic state (where one chooses to embrace the belief of their own free will or not). So on and so forth.

    It is my position that not one of these religious views can function as a government system unless they are warped and twisted into hideous parodies of themselves.

    As the words of a peaceful, life-affirming Jewish carpenter can be warped and twisted by the greedy and power hungry to excuse the death and war such individuals cause in their quest for material gain and power, so to can the ideas of Free Thought and Self-Direction Beyond Religious Institutions can be warped by the power mad and blood thirsty to excuse the oppression and ideological stranglehold such individuals cause in order to rule and control.

    7. On Denominations

    Given that the Church of Ireland’s growth in membership is starting to eclipse the growth rates of the RCC, given that the Christian Unitarians are slowly becoming one of the largest denominations in the world, given that many other denominations who hold the same belief have grown to the point where they influence other denominations, and given that such a belief (once again, this is the belief that it is one’s work’s that you are judged for) was reported by a Pew Study in 2008 as being one of the central beliefs of over 65% of Christians polled across four continents, it is my position that these numbers are significant enough to place the previous argumentation into question.

    It was pleasure speaking with you, Luis. I apologize to members of this board if I have disturbed the peace. I would also like to thank William Briggs for giving us this opportunity.

    Thank you.