Religious and anti-religious apps for dummies

It seems that some religious fundamentalists are so threatened by atheists, and so befuddled about what to say in reply, … Continued

It seems that some religious fundamentalists are so threatened by atheists, and so befuddled about what to say in reply, that they need special iPhone apps to provide snappy comebacks for the village or the campus atheist in their midst. And there is also an app, the “BibleThumper,” for combative atheists who want to keep a collection of silly Bible verses close at hand should they be needed to demolish the arguments of an app-dependent Christian fundamentalist.This is not a tale of atheism or religious fundamentalism but of the sorry state of a culture in which rhetorical and analytical skills have become so dumbed-down that people cannot even argue about big issues that people have been arguing about for millennia without digital prompts.

Want to convince a believer that the miracles depicted in the Bible never happened? “The Atheist Pocket Debater,” according to a roundup of supernatural and skeptical apps in The New York Times, advises atheists to argue that because events like Moses’s parting of the Red Sea aren’t happening today, it’s irrational to believe that they happened long ago. Any atheist who needs to fall back on an argument this stupid ought to go back to school. Any true believer (if he or she isn’t too tongue-tied to speak without consulting an app) would instantly answer, “But, Mr. or Ms. Atheist, miracles are happening today, all around us. You just don’t realize it.” Believers consider it a “miracle” if their house is spared by a tornado, and as for their neighbor’s house being destroyed–oh, never mind. It’s a “miracle”–certainly one more important than the parting of the Red Sea–if cancer chemotherapy has kept them alive for five years when their doctor said they’d be dead in five months, and never mind about the woman down the block who just died of breast cancer and left two little children behind. But of course, there’s probably an app that explains the theodicy problem too.

As for believers, a Christian publishing company’s app tells them just what to say if they are called “narrow-minded” for asserting that faith in Jesus is the only path to salvation. The believer’s immediate answer, the app suggests, should be a question: “What do you mean by narrow-minded?” Ah yes, the old answer-a-question-with-a-question gambit. This is also a tactic favored by adulterers. “Just tell me the truth, are you cheating on me?” “What do you mean by `cheating?’” Note to the incurably dense: if anyone asks you to define narrow-mindedness or cheating, he wants to evade your question.

I am not a fan, as close readers of this column will know, of arguments about religion or atheism. I don’t think that people “lose” their faith because they have read a convincing argument by Susan Jacoby. That so many fundamentalist Christian leaders think their flock will be destroyed by those wolves, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens, seems to me to attest only to a deep underlying insecurity beneath all of the aggressive biblical literalism in American society. I wouldn’t say–how could any writer like this maxim?–that no girl was ever ruined by a book, but most books that seem life-changing exert their effect by touching on needs and doubts that the reader has already experienced but has never before allowed to surface.

What is so demoralizing about these Christian and atheist apps is that they attest to a loss of cultural memory, and the capacity for sustained thought, that have invaded every aspect of our intellectual lives. In his recently published book The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing To Our Brains,” Nicholas Carr observes that “when we outsource our memory to a machine, we also outsource a very important part of our intellect and even identity.” I don’t know what to make of Christians who bolster their faith in an argument with an unbeliever by parroting the “anthropic principle,” which asserts that the complexity of the world is such that it is mathematically impossible for our surroundings to be an accident. This is, of course, the argument for “Intelligent Design” over evolution. On the contrary: the complexity of the universe, beginning with our bodies, is the strongest argument for evolution over design. The classic medical example is the body’s need for six different proteins to work properly in order for blood to clot. If just one is out of whack, you will bleed to death too rapidly to be helped. Only an incompetent designer could have thought this was a good idea.

The faith of the religious–and their knowledge of even their own religion–must be weak indeed if they need an app to defend their core beliefs. R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and an On Faith contributor, told the Times, “There is not one student on this campus who doesn’t have at least one person in his circle of family and friends voicing these (skeptical) ideas.” Mohler hopes that the new apps can give believers tools for answering the skeptics. “The app store is our new public commons,” he said. To which I say, God help us all.

The app offers nothing more than rote answers for people who are increasingly unable to think for themselves and who lack the base of knowledge that allows one to engage in intellectual and philosophical discourse on what used to be an adult level. I never thought I would be nostalgic for high-minded college sophomores excited by their first encounters with Plato, Neitzsche, Augustine, or that greatest philosopher of all, Groucho Marx. (“Now there sits a man with an open mind. You can feel the draft from here.”) But at least those philosophy-stuffed sophomores had actually read something and tried to think something through instead of consulting a $1.99 app.

Believers and atheists poring over their iPhones to “prove” or “disprove” the existence of God have one thing in common: if they’re driving, they’re more likely to cause an accident and kill you, thereby rendering all further theological argument moot. Or is that all part of God’s plan?

About

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    Susan! there is only one reply I can make to this esssay:”OUCH!”

  • WmarkW

    Ok, so the Jack Chick comic has been updated to the 21st century. A couple weeks ago, On Faith asked if Tweeting disrespected capital punishment. People have probably been asking analogous questions since chiseling news on stone walls stopped being common.As to the Internet “machine” costing us our identity; the Internet is a library in which authors contribute written work and readers select the material they want to view (or analogously for other types of media like videos). Whenever a driving tour takes me through the countryside, I often think of how great it would be to be farmer and drive a tractor all day. But farming has been a declining part of the labor market for over a century, and there’s hardly a more difficult way to make a living in the 21st century. I’m sure handling parchment scrolls used to give scholars quite a thrill. But debating secularism via the Internet while simultaneously getting paid to do my job works for me.

  • samsara15

    I have seldom seen anyone swayed seriously by arguments either for or against any religious beliefs, unless they were already ripe to be swayed. That non-believers and believers do not like each other goes without saying, and the less said, the better, unless what is said is intended to create harmony where harmony is lacking.

  • PSolus

    “The ap that bothers me is the one deeply embedded in our country’s biology curriculum, namely abiogenisis.”One can get abiogenisis for an iPhone?How much does it cost?What is it supposed to do, turn an iPhone into a living entity?

  • Jihadist

    Ahh…pre-selected, pre-packaged Q’s and A’s designed and marketed as soundbites to chew out and gnaw on points by the other. Discussions and arguments have been reduced to either sledgehammer phrases or are akin to, or gleaned from book titles.

  • WmarkW

    This is the same mistake made by many theists AND by many atheists, who assume that if gods exist they would be benevolent and loving, disregarding the other possibilities of gods being indifferent or malevolent.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    I do not believe that people choose to be born, do not choose their bodies, do not choose their minds, do not choose the experiences they encounter in life, do not choose their personalities, do not choose the thoughts that populate their minds. Neither do people choose doubt, nor can they dismiss doubt. But, if none of these aspects of our being are freely chosen, how then, out of thin air, do any of choose belief? What we believe is a definition of our very selves and experiences and few people would argue that we choose our very minds and our very personalities, which are expressions of our beliefs. Belief is part of experience; we no more choose our beliefs than we choose the mountain range which we view in the distance; it is simply there, and we experience that fact. As acting beings in the world, the things that we do, have influence over what we experience, which includes the formation of beliefs, but that is different than saying that “I freely choose my beliefs.” Suppose that you had never heard of Hinduism; how then could your choice to exclude it from belief really be said to be free?Therefore, no wonder that mere argument over the nature of religion and belief cannot cause people to simply change their beliefs, as easily as turning a light switch or a water faucet. When people fight over relgion and belief, what they are REALLY fighting over is power and control; what they are really fighting over is politics; people would not engage in violence and warfare merely to change how others think; they do these to control what other people do, and to acquire an increased status in the world or to maintain a position of dominance in the world that they already have.Any particular individual who actually knows his own mind, and knows his own beliefs, and feels secure and confident in his own thinking would not really care what others thought, if it were only that.

  • edbyronadams

    “I do not believe that people choose to be born, do not choose their bodies, do not choose their minds, do not choose the experiences they encounter in life, do not choose their personalities, do not choose the thoughts that populate their minds. Neither do people choose doubt, nor can they dismiss doubt.”Buddhists, on the other hand, think you choose where, when and under what circumstances you will be born, the better to learn the lessons you are supposed to learn.

  • timmy2

    I once believed in God. Now I do not. Guess what changed my belief? Awareness raising. Historical facts and figures. Information. My belief was changed by logical argument. And I have in turn changed other’s beliefs about God by logical argument and awareness raising. It happens all the time. It happened to me and I’ve seen it happen to others. I see people here trying to argue that this does not happen but they are flat wrong. It does. It happens all of the time. A lot of people profess belief in God without giving it much thought. They just go with their family faith or their community’s faith and they get a warm fuzzy feeling thinking about the God they have always heard about and they simply stick with it. Many of these people eventually become atheist/agnostics and it’s usually because they heard some very convincing arguments that make them embarrassed to continue to believe something so primitive and superstitious. Where do you think all of the atheists and agnostics are coming from these days? Are there more people being born with atheist beliefs in their blood? Or are more and more people having their eyes opened by education, logical argument and reason. Moreover these logical arguments and reasoning are no longer suppressed by a social taboo against speaking of such things and therefore can have a more influence in the marketplace of ideas. Harris, Hitchens, Dawkins, Dennett etc are all playing a huge roll in this regard. They are helping to break the social taboo that has aided the church in it’s stranglehold on the minds of people’s.I see nothing wrong with having good talking points at your disposal in this ever important debate. I was mostly convinced to question my God belief with the old “problem of infinite regression” argument. It’s a damn good awareness raiser. Jacoby makes the mistake of thinking that atheists are trying to disprove God with these arguments. They are not. This is Jacoby’s misread and it is a common one. I’ve never met an atheist who is trying to disprove the existence of God. That is not what Hitchens is doing, that is not what Harris is doing and that is not what Dawkins and Dennett are doing. I say hooray for the aps. The more we get this discussion going and the broader the audience it reaches the better. What a simple minded approach to see this debate as a never ending battle between “god exists” and “god does not exist.” That has never been all that this debate is about. This is about awareness raising and education. And if we can squeeze a little awareness raising into our hand held digital devices that God bless us everyone. ;)

  • areilly13

    This essay makes some very good points. While the idea of “canned” responses to religeous questions is nothing new these new apps embody a frightening increase in the market. Tracts have been used by many churches for similar purpose. Namely so that one who does not fully understand their own faith can “preach to the masses.” This is actually a terrible idea that does more damage to the proposed idea than good. I know that I myself make it a point not to really listen to anything said when a person hands me a tract, which happens fairly often as I take public transportation. I can’t immagine that my response would be any different if someone was talking about religeon and suddenly whipped out an i-phone with one of these apps.The idea that everybody should be able to teach on their own beliefs is an old idea. As far as christians go it dates back to the original writing of the new testement (the old testement mention it, God was for the nation of Israel in those days). But the theology also warns that those who teach will be held to a higher standard, as in they will be held responsible for those that they convert. Anyone who needs to rely on an app, or a tract for that matter, doesn’t make that cut.Any argument about religeon (or anything else) needs to be based on an understanding of the facts or beliefs. To attempt to persuade a person by any other means, especially prewritten arguements, insults the intelegence of the others involved and degrades the cause beyond repair in most cases. The fact that this country has come to the point where every debate needs a script explains our loss of standing with the rest of the world.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    It happened becausse of avenues of experience that were opened to you, that you did not necessarily choose.When we casually throw around the words “choose” and “choice,” I am taking these words to their literal extreme. Having a sense of choice, is not the same as literallly choosing. Choosing from a limited selection is very different from choosing from any imaginable possibility.You happened upon a chain of experience which lead to a transformation of your beliefs. I do not say that ones beliefs do not change, evolve, transform, or mutate; I am saying that the literal and very mechanisms by which these transformations are accomplished are, for the most part, beyond our capacity to control.The sense of controlling and of choosing is an illusion. Refusal to acknowledge this shows what a very strong illusion it is. Nevertheless, that is how it looks to me. And by the way, I can’t really control how it looks, or choose to make it look a different way than it looks. That is just how it looks to me.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    In my previous post, I was seeking to respond to Timmy when he said, “I once believed in God. Now I do not. Guess what changed my belief?”

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    Believing is a way of seeing. It is the mind’s sight. When you see something, you cannot see it any other way than the way that you see it, just as when you believe someting, you cannot believe it any other way than the way you believe it.If you think that your arguments are changing other people’s minds, think again, for what is changing inside of them, is the very way that their minds see, which comes from inside of them, which I call an inner will; your arguments might form a collective influence, among many influences, but it is an influence which you cannot control, and whose effect and result you cannot predict.The only reason to say your own beliefs to others, is so that others will know what your beliefs are, and not to change their beliefs into mirror images of your own.

  • timmy2

    DITLD”You happened upon a chain of experience which lead to a transformation of your beliefs”I was given awareness raising information that I was not previously aware of. Arguments were made to me that I had never heard before. They convinced me that my previous belief came from a place of ignorance and brainwashing to a certain extent. The arguments made to me were what changed my belief. Sorry, Daniel, you can not escape that. “I am saying that the literal and very mechanisms by which these transformations are accomplished are, for the most part, beyond our capacity to control”Others can provide us with information (arguments) of which we were not previously aware. Once we have been made aware, or new information is given to us, we can reason out a new belief all on our own. That is what I did with information (arguments) that were made to me. “The sense of controlling and of choosing is an illusion”You and I control what information gets to whom. On boards like this, we can spread information and change people’s beliefs. The concept of debating would have died out long ago if people did not have their beliefs changed by argument. “And by the way, I can’t really control how it looks, or choose to make it look a different way than it looks. That is just how it looks to me”You can change how it looks to others by providing them with new information that they were previously unaware of. “If you think that your arguments are changing other people’s minds, think again”Arguments changed my mind. So it is you who needs to think again. “for what is changing inside of them, is the very way that their minds see, which comes from inside of them, which I call an inner will”Call it whatever you want. What changes people’s minds is new information that they were previously unaware of. “your arguments might form a collective influence, among many influences, but it is an influence which you cannot control, and whose effect and result you cannot predict”I control it by keeping my mouth shut or open. I can either provide people with new information that they have not heard before, or I can keep my mouth shut. “The only reason to say your own beliefs to others, is so that others will know what your beliefs are, and not to change their beliefs into mirror images of your own”I never just give my beliefs without a detailed explanation of how and why I formed those beliefs. In that explanation is information that the person I am talking to might not have heard before and this new information might change what they believe. This happens everyday no matter how hard you try to deny it. People’s beliefs get changed by argument. It happens all day every day throughout the world.

  • schaeffz

    Darn!

  • timmy2

    Why do we have political debates if people’s beliefs are not changed by argument? Aren’t they pointless according to this theory that you can not change what a person believes with argument? Are you saying that religious beliefs are different than political beliefs? Religious beliefs are a special kind of belief that can not be changed by argument in the way that other beliefs can?

  • lufrank1

    Wish you were on the Supreme Court!

  • timmy2

    My intent is never to change someone’s belief with my words, but to get them to re-examine their beliefs with the new information that I give them. I want them to come to their own decisions, but I want them to hear my arguments first. DITLD said: “When people fight over relgion and belief, what they are REALLY fighting over is power and control”Fighting? maybe. But when people DEBATE over religion and belief, it is an exchange of ideas not a struggle for power and control. Debating does not = fighting. Not even when it’s heated. “people would not engage in violence and warfare merely to change how others think”We are talking about “argument and debate,” not “violence and warfare.”"Any particular individual who actually knows his own mind, and knows his own beliefs, and feels secure and confident in his own thinking would not really care what others thought, if it were only that”I am confident and secure in my thinking on religion. And yet I care what Sarah Palin thinks about God and global warming. That she thinks that it is just God hugging us closer is a real world problem for me. My concern over what she believes is not because I am unconfident in my own belief. It is because what people believe matters. It affects me. And so it is in my best interest to try and correct her foolish belief with information and argument that might make her see things more clearly. I doubt this will work on Sarah Palin. But it might work on many others. In fact, it has worked on many others. As a stand-up comedian, I make it embarrassing to believe in God if you are in my audience. I shame people into re-examining their superstitious beliefs. I am doing a good thing in my opinion. I am helping Hitchens and Dawkins and Harris change the climate. I am also helping those raised in religious households to free themselves from the grip of that indoctrination by making people laugh at the religulous. Good for me. Good for Hitchens. Good for Harris. Good for Dawkins. God bless us everyone.

  • lufrank1

    Posted by: PSolus:Abiogenesis, the origin of living matter from non-living matter is, in fact, and has been for at least 7 decades, THE UNIFYING GOAL of biochemical research.But to use a soundbite AP reply . . . Define “Life”!

  • Fabrisse

    From the article:Nicholas Carr observes that “when we outsource our memory to a machine, we also outsource a very important part of our intellect and even identity.” All books are “outsource memory.” We haven’t been a culture that solely relies on our own knowledge since the invention of writing. Mass literacy as promulgated from the Enlightenment onward has already promoted the change.

  • timmy2

    “You are shaming and embarrassing people. How is that good?”The same way it is good to shame and embarrass smokers out of smoking. It worked. People are smoking less, because it is now seen as a weakness as opposed to a strength. It is now gross, not glamourous. It is now seen as stupid and an addiction instead of sophisticated and worldly and cool. We send them outside to feed their habit or put them into glass booths on display like animals at a zoo. We put pictures of cancerous sores on their cigarette packs. Of course this depends on your view on smoking. If you think it is a good thing, then you do not agree with embarrassing and shaming people out of smoking.Same goes for God belief. If you think it is a good thing, you would be against embarrassing and shaming people out of believing in ancient superstitions. But I happen to think that these ancient superstitions are terribly bad for our society. Much worse than smoking. So I am in favor of making it embarrassing to believe in God. Just as I am in favor of making it embarrassing to believe in racial superiority. I assail all delusion as I see it in my act. And yes I do think it is a good thing.

  • timmy2

    And BTW, I am far from the first and only comic to work towards making it embarrassing to believe in God. I am just a copy cat. See Lenny Bruce, George Carlin, Bill Maher, Ricky Gervaise, Seth MacFarlane, Trey Parker and Matt Stone and on and on and on. I’m just carrying on where Carlin’s “religion is bullsh!t” routine left off. He made a difference and all of us who continue in his footsteps are making a difference. God bless us everyone.

  • areyousaying

    Reminds me of the low tech flannel boards Mormon missionaries used in the 70′ that were made up of a series of leading questions:Do you believe in God?Do you believe in the Bible?and so on.If one answered “no” to one of the questions, the poor young lads were beside themselves.

  • timmy2

    It is truly a wonderful thing, I think, the number of kids who have stopped believing what their parents believe about God because what their parents believe is embarrassing. Yes, it is a good thing.

  • areyousaying

    an app for Mormon missionaries:HOW BADLY DO YOU WANT TO TEACH A SECOND DISCUSSION?Sometimes, even after a beautifully spiritual First Discussion and an effective “I Care About You” call-back, we find people who refuse to hear the Second Discussion. This is because the Spirit has left them and they probably have been confronted by someone who has challenged their interest in hearing more. First of all, set the appointment no more than 48 hours after the First Discussion and sandwich your “I Care About You” call-back in between.

  • WmarkW

    So I am in favor of making it embarrassing to believe in God. Just as I am in favor of making it embarrassing to believe in racial superiority.

  • chatard

    You’re not a fan of religion versus atheism arguments….you’re just ‘THE SPIRITED ATHEIST”. And a liar.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    Timmy”Why do we have political debates if people’s beliefs are not changed by argument? Aren’t they pointless according to this theory that you can not change what a person believes with argument?”I have not said that people’s beliefs do not change; I said that people neither control nor choose their beliefs. It is not pointless to present your beliefs as an argument, no more pointless than it is to engage in any other aspect of life, that is.I am speaking aboutof fundamental mechanisms of thought, the foundation of consciousness; I am observing that there is no possible mechanism for determining free will, for isn’t that a contradiction, the determination of free will.You are taking this observation as a way to diminish you and your personal ability to freely choose your beliefs. But that is not how I am intending it. It is just how it is for everyone, myself included, even though, I too, live with my own illusions of free will, which I also cannot get rid of merely by choosing to “believe” them away.I am not trying to diminish you or any of your arguments. But by realizing this, I am not as hard as you are on people whose beliefs seem odd to me.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    To me, brainwashing is reprogramming of fully formed adult personalities, often with the assitance of physical torture. This term was first used during the Korean War when the Chinese used brainwashing techniques on prisoners-of-war. This is actually a radical corruption of psychiatry, and is what has helped give psychiatry a bad name.When parents teach their children what they know of their own culutres, including the religious aspects of that culture, I would not think that is the same as brainwashing. Children pop into existence, dropped into their parents’ laps, almost as quickly as if a stork had brought them, and then their minds are empty vessels; parents fill the vessels with what they have themselves. How else could they do it? How can you expect parents to teach their children things which they, themselves, do not believe? Even if you consider these beliefs to be silly, there is no other way to raise children than for their parents to teach what they have at hand to teach them.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    Seeking knowledge of the world which gives a valid image of existence is a specialized interest, that most people are not going to engage in, at least not in a very deep way.There are three words, knowledge, belief, and truth, which stand for three concepts; but none of them can be defined without using one of the other concepts; they are in fact, circular concepts, all depending on each other for meaning, but none having meaning without one of the other two.How a person feels about these three interlocing concepts and how a person relates them determines what we end up calling “belief.”Atheistic families produce relgious children and religious families produce atheistic children. It all depends on what a person means when he says he seeks knowledge, and it all depends on what a person expects and needs from what he may call belief. Alot of people encounter experience and without reflecton they call that truth; even the experience of religion, they would call truth. Many people attribute truth to a consensus of opinion; this can be a consensus of religious opinion or a consensus of scientific opinion. Many people may experience the utility of science, but otherwise, do not consider the consensus of science as being relevant to their concept of knowledge and consequent belief. Other people give credence to the consensus of science above all else.All I can say is what I think, and feel, and believe, and know. But I often cannot understand or explain why others think as they do.

  • timmy2

    Carstonio”You seem to be painting with way too large a brush, as if all Christians were like Tim LaHaye or James Dobson, as if all Muslims were clones of the Iranian mullahs”Where did I say any of that? This is complete fabrication on your part. “Religions and believers vary in their stances on “God”Yes I know. But all that I have encountered pretend to know things that they do not know about God.”some of them see that only as a concept, a way of looking at the universe instead of a being”Then why refer to it by the same name as a famous being named God? Isn’t that awfully confusing and misleading for no good reason? When I say that it is embarrassing to believe in God, I’m talking about Bible God. If someone wants to call some concept completely different from that “God”, then this confusion about who I am talking about is their problem to sort out, not mine. The bottom line is anyone who claims to know anything about God by any definition of that world is claiming to know things that they do not know. “I agree that superstitions in general are harmful, but not every religion has superstitions”Name one without superstitions. If you can, it is probably to obscure to count in a discussion about religion or God in general. All of the mainstream religions with mass followings are based in ancient and primitive superstition from times of ignorance. “I see the real problem as absolutism, which is not an ideology but a mindset that transcends ideology”Name some absolutists that you know of. Am I an absolutist? Is Hitchens an absolutist? The only absolutists I know are religious people. Most atheists these days are agnostic. “It’s not whether the person believes in gods, it’s whether the person believes in absolute exclusive truth with or without gods”Name a popular God who does not command absolute loyalty to him and only him. Keep in mind, the Hindu idea of God is nothing even remotely similar to the monotheistic God. This is one of those silly confusions that is caused only by the cross use of the same word to mean two different things. But make no mistake about it, the idea of the Hindu God is still about the absolute truth. Agnostics are the only true non absolutists. And most atheists are agnostics.

  • timmy2

    WMarkW”So how will you be walking the line that blacks are much more likely to believe in God and other traditional Christian superstitions than whites are?”Why would I need to walk any line here. It’s just a cultural thing, not a tangible racial difference or superiority of any kind. It’s all just upbringing from generations past. I’m not sure what you are suggesting but the difference here seems clearly cultural not racial. “Will you honestly deal with religious problems in their community”Yes. “or take Susan’s attitude that religion is only a problem when it results in conservative politics?”I don’t believe that this is Susan’s attitude. Nor is it mine.

  • timmy2

    DITLD”I am observing that there is no possible mechanism for determining free will, for isn’t that a contradiction, the determination of free will”We do not disagree here.”You are taking this observation as a way to diminish you and your personal ability to freely choose your beliefs. But that is not how I am intending it”That is not how I am taking it. I do not choose my beliefs. I know that. New information that raises awareness is the only thing that can change my beliefs. Input comes in, and my beliefs change through no intentional mechanism at my control. The only thing I control is how much new information I seek out and take in. And I probably don’t even control that. “It is just how it is for everyone, myself included”I know.”I am not trying to diminish you or any of your arguments. But by realizing this, I am not as hard as you are on people whose beliefs seem odd to me”I am not hard on people, I am hard on certain beliefs. The people are not bad to me, they are victims of bad beliefs from ancient times. I know this sounds pompous but I can not help that. Many people who are addicted to alcohol would be greatly offended to be told that, because they do not think that they are addicted. But the kind thing to do is not to ignore their addiction and leave them alone. The kind thing to do is to let them know that you think they are addicted.It seems wrong and rude to embarrass someone by telling them that they have a booger hanging from their nose, but it’s actually the polite thing to do. It’s what their friends would do. If you care about them, you tell them. Your mistake about me and others like me is that you think we are angry at religious people or that we are being cruel to religious people. I call it tough love because that is what it is. I love all of my fellow humans. And many of them need my help with their addiction whether they know it or not.

  • timmy2

    DITLD part two”To me, brainwashing is reprogramming of fully formed adult personalities, often with the assitance of physical torture”That is one kind. I find childhood indoctrination into religions also to be a form of brain washing due to the fact that it takes place while the brain is still forming and before any individual thought can even take place. I am well aware that it might not technically be “brainwashing” and I do not care one tiny bit. That world works for what I am saying and anyone who wants to get all technical about the world “brainwashing” obviously does not care about the true meaning of what I am saying and is irresponsibly deflecting the conversation away from what harm is being done to the lives of little children who have their religious beliefs pounded into their tiny not completely solid head before they ever get a chance to think for themselves. “When parents teach their children what they know of their own culutres, including the religious aspects of that culture, I would not think that is the same as brainwashing”When parents place the hands of babies into the praying position every night at the dinner table so that they have a child praying to God for it’s food before it even knows what the words mean, I call that a form of brainwashing. I know that is not the parent’s intention, because they themselves were brainwashed in the same way, but that is what they are doing and they need to have their awareness raised about this. Or at the very least, their children need to have this awareness raised to them as soon as possible if we are ever going to break this pointless cycle of brainwashing. “How can you expect parents to teach their children things which they, themselves, do not believe?”I don’t. When have I ever shown an expectation that parents could ever do that? I am just criticizing the whole practice so that both the parents and the children will hear my words and maybe just maybe second guess everything that they have been taught to do. That’s how we grow as a people. Through the exchange of ideas. Not by keeping our own personal beliefs to ourselves and not worrying about what others believe.

  • timmy2

    DITLD “Seeking knowledge of the world which gives a valid image of existence is a specialized interest, that most people are not going to engage in, at least not in a very deep way”This is what I mean when I say that most people who profess a mild belief in God do so without giving it much deep thought. They just have a warm fuzzy feeling about the concept of God that they have grown up with and see no good reason to challenge it. These are the people who can be swayed and pressed into giving it some deep enough thought that they might come out of it realizing the negative effects on our society of the God delusion.”How a person feels about these three interlocing concepts and how a person relates them determines what we end up calling “belief.”And how a person relates to these three interlocing concepts can be altered by awareness raising and by sound argument. “Atheistic families produce relgious children”Only anomalies. “and religious families produce atheistic children”Thank God. This can be summed up by an old advertising phrase. “Nothing kills a bad product faster than good advertising”. “It all depends on what a person means when he says he seeks knowledge, and it all depends on what a person expects and needs from what he may call belief”And people can deal with these things rationally or irrationally. And some people can be made to see the irrationality of certain beliefs they used to hold. It happens every day. But not without people pushing them to think deeper than they normally would. “Alot of people encounter experience and without reflecton they call that truth; even the experience of religion, they would call truth”No one today would ever come to the God conclusion without being influenced greatly by the well crafted ancient religions that have been designed to hijack the good spirit in people. Belief in God may have been natural for humans in times of ignorance but it is not natural to a human in possession of todays knowledge base. “Other people give credence to the consensus of science above all else”Science is just observation. And observation is our only means of gathering knowledge however you define knowledge. Don’t tell me you’ve bought into this idea that there are other ways of knowing things besides observation. What other ways? Science is just careful meticulous observation. There is nothing else to give any credence to, is there? I mean besides personal revelations from God of course. “All I can say is what I think, and feel, and believe, and know. But I often cannot understand or explain why others think as they do”You must not be trying very hard. The reasons why other people think as they do are pretty evident through a study of history and cultural studies and psychiatry. I see no mystery.

  • bpai_99

    Religious people by definition don’t want to think for themselves or accept responsibility – that’s what God is for. The apps for believers are no more than the Bible in a new medium.

  • Yankeesfan1

    “I don’t think that people “lose” their faith because they have read a convincing argument by Susan Jacoby” — have there been any convincing arguments by Susan Jacoby? I just read a lot of bitterness from her.

  • jontomus

    The preceding was pre-recorded for broadcasting at a later time.

  • Chops2

    no one should need these apps for debate answers, read books and formulate your own theories for christ sakes! These apps may be useful for citing biblical verses of death and destruction of a loving god however

  • good-bad-n-ugly

    Oooops.And Yea, There is something definately bigger or Larger than OUR SELVES than a simple Algorithm (Digi App for i-Pod etc..).

  • acebojangles

    I’m skeptical that there were actually good old days when everyone debated Plato knowledgeably. I suspect that people who rely on religious or anti-religious apps would always have been poor arguers, but now they have some information at their fingertips. I’ll grant that the quality of that information is suspect.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    Timmy said:”Science is just observation.”For scientists, science is observaton.For everyone else, who is not a scientist, it is hearsay; it is book-learn’n; it is reading stuff; it is listening to what other people tell you; it is understanding what science is, how science works, and what scienctific consensus is. (Apparently), it is quite complicated, and not just “observing” things.Have you ever tried to give a scientific explanation to someone who was not open to hearing it? Evolution is one very good example that we see on these blogs, all of the time. The very same people who deny evolution still readily accept all that the very same science has to offer, medical technology, telecommuincations, weather forcasting; they do not, seemingly cannot relate that the consensus of science is for all science, designed and worked out to describe all known phenomena; they live, as animals live, in a landscape of experience, where they injure their knee, and then go to the ER for an MRI, and do not even question or wonder where the MRI technology came from, anymore than a deer wonders where the tree comes from or the streams come from.That is what I call a landscape of experience. We, as animals with a greater intellectual capactiy than animals, are able to put together, with some great difficulty, an image of reality that describes where the tree comes from and where the stream comes from and which enables us to build the MRI; but that kind of “knowledge” is not for everyone; for the apathetic, who seek only the experiences of an animal landscape, a deeper knowledge of the world is hidden.I am not telling you that your ideas about reality are right or wrong; I am just telling you that religion is what goes into people’s minds when they do not trouble themselves to find out what else there is to know in the world, and I am afraid that you will not be able to cause them to care, if they do not, themselves, care.But it is not even caring or not caring; it is more like, ability to comprehend; the kind of intelligence that is required to master modern concepts of science does not seem to come easily to many people. I call this an the ability to know how to know. If a person does not know how to know something, how are you going to make him know how to know? Merely explaining things rationally will not work, unless you first teach such a person how to know. You need to go through the interlocking concept(s) of knowledge, belief, and truth with that person, and discuss, discuss, discuss what do these words mean to that person. I am telling you, from my own personal experience, for the average Joe-Schmo, it just isn’t going to happen.People are just too busy fiddling with their ipods, or typing on their laptops, or sitting in traffic, or working in offices and factories, or taking orders at McDonalds, or making speeches in Congress, or changing the baby’s dirty diapers … to care.

  • WmarkW

    BTW, the overall theme of Susan’s essay is that the existence of these apps is an indictment of the intellectuality of both the pro- and anti- theism camps.I think it’s more of an indictment of how many really lame phone apps there are.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    TimmyIf you want to challenge people in a way that will make them think, here are some questions that you might consider asking them, but remember, that when you ask these questions of others, you should also think about them yourself:1 What makes you think that your beliefs are true?2 How do you know these things that you believe are true, really ARE true?3 What is knowledge, and what is knowing?4 How does anyone know anything?5 What is truth?6 How does anyone know what is true and what is not true?7 Do you believe that your beliefs are true? If what you believe is true, then why doesn’t everybody else also believe it?8 If you believe that your religion is true, and someone else with a different religion believes that theirs is true, how can a third person who knows nothing of either, know which is true?9 If neither side can prove to the other that the other is wrong, what should be done?10 How is belief formed? Where does it come from? 11 Can people easily change beliefs from one to another, or is it more like a sensory experience that cannot be denied?12 Where do our thoughts come from? Do we make our own thoughts come to us? Where does doubt come from? Can we make it go away by free will?13 Does believing something make it true?14 Does knowing something make it true, or does something true cause you to know it is true? 15 What does it mean about knowledge, if you discover that something you knew was true, really was not true?Questions like that.

  • Jihadist

    Hence, the fruits of a theocentric world are contrasted against the tragedies of social despair wrought by the despots a.k.a. East Germany v. West Germany, N. Korea, v. S. Korea, China v. Singapore and Formosa.*******************************************- East Germany exist no more after being absorbed by West Germany. Now we have one Germany, playing excellent football, making Merkel, formerly from East Germany, beaming and striding juantily when Germany scored 4 goals against Argentina, Germans in the stands dancing like they are at Oktoberfest, Argentinians thinking the wrath of God is on them for Maradona’s claim that his dodgy goal score in another World Cup game was really the “hand of God”. – North Korea has nukes, starvation, and a Beloved Great Leader. South Korea is the most broadbanded country in the world and started Moonies. Both qualified for the World Cup 2010. Both were wiped out from hopes of reaching the finals. – China has the most foreign currency reserve and atheists. Formosa (Taiwan/Taipei, China/Republic of China) is recognised diplomatically by some small Pacific island states, iffy Central American countries, and aid-dependent African states. Nauru has more voting rights in international organisations than Formosa. Singapore is the richest of the so-called “Greater China” in term of GDP per capita and calls itself a Red Dot. Not PRC, not ROC not the Red Dot made it to the World Cup 2010 in South Africa. Nothing beats the social despair of seeing one’s national team not making it to the World Cup, or to see them lose at the World Cup be one living under despotic, theocratic, socialistic, communistic, semi-socialistic, authoritarian, semi-authoritarian regimes; or living in vibrant democracies, old democracies, new democracies, pseudo-democracies, practicing democracies, evolving democracies, developing democracies, guided democracies; or in failed states, competitive states, wired states, bankrupt states, created states, dissolved states, nascent state, burgeoning state, demented state, and nonsensical state due to football fever…

  • Jihadist

    And BTW, I am far from the first and only comic to work towards making it embarrassing to believe in God. I am just a copy cat. See Lenny Bruce, George Carlin, Bill Maher, Ricky Gervaise, Seth MacFarlane, Trey Parker and Matt Stone and on and on and on. *******************************************- Why go for the copycat when one can have the originals? – No mention of Eddie Izzard and his funny wacky takes and anecdotes on everything from religion to history to languages? – Extra points for Izzard to dare call himself a male tomboy and to tart it up in dress for his performances. – Never heard of Matt Stone, Seth MacFarlane, Trey Parker. What about Richard Pryor, Chris Rock? Or are “black folks” too “religious” and must be put in their place for their archaic belief in God and adherence to “foreign” religions and cultures? – Mr. Bean is the most universally recognised and loved, comic or comedian.

  • Jihadist

    As a stand-up comedian, I make it embarrassing to believe in God if you are in my audience. I shame people into re-examining their superstitious beliefs. I am doing a good thing in my opinion. *******************************************Where and when the next Lady Gaga concert going to be held? She’s more entertaingly embarassing in music, clothes and dance. I’ll pay whatever it cost to see her live. Oh, and to see that Great Goddess of Rock, Tina Turner, live before she or I die.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    CarstonioExperience happens. It happens to animals, the same as it happens to us. But knowledge does not just happen. To know something, you must want to know, and you must know how to know. Anything less than that is animal experience. You may be right, some people regard science as an authoritarian set of rules, to be resisted. Science is just one more explantion among many about the world, that other people tell you, that you believe or don’t believe.But the vision of the world that science reveals to us is not a set of rules, facts, data, not even laws of nature. But instead, it is a paradigm of a universe composed of pure order without reason or justification or law. Most religious people seem very uncomfortable acknowledging the speculative nature of their belief. But BROTHER, have I got news for them, and for Timmy, and for everyone, there is a lot more to this world that we inhabit that is speculative, than the mere question, “does God exist.”In fact, almost everything that we know or think about anything is speculative; only the most basic sensations of the world, what we share with the animals, are not speculaative, but all that our intelligence assumes, about the nature of existence, maybe is true, but maybe is not.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    Religion on a folk level, is cultural, and while there may be many human aspects of religion that are similar, the cultural variations are quite different, and this cultural variation is one of the main sources of conflict between religions, even religions that may seem very similar.On a theological level, where committees of Priests seek to codify and legalize a system of religious thought, there can be vast differences between religions, since it is the theologian’s job, to devise an answer and a reason for every single issue problem or question that anyone may ever think of or encounter in all of human existence, and since these theological legalities are mostly arbitrary, they can be very different from one religion to another, even if the religions may seem very similar.For people that muse about their own religious experience, from an intellectual or philosophical perspective, there may be many similarities and even agreement; I think that this is what people must mean when they say that religions are all the same, or that many paths lead to the summit of the mountain.The only problem is, that if someone feels this way about their own religion, they are cast out, and accused of heresy, apostasy and blasphemy. People who are really, really into the cultural and theological aspects of their religion, and unable to cope with the existence of other valid religious views, do not gladly identify themselves with these other groups, whom they see as competetors to be be beaten, vanguished, or destroyed, and whom they usually do not tolerate.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    I made a big mistake here; my most recent post was meant as a reply to Susan’s essay on the main blog.

  • persiflage

    DITLD,I admire your perspicacity and your general point of view. The universe appears to function on a fulcrum of chaos and order. Other universal laws/principles apparently operate within these confines. Nothing is predictable with absolute certainty. Circumstances that govern every aspect of human behavior are simply beyond knowing. We imagine that we have free will, but the limits to that largely imaginary faculty are also beyond knowing. As far as knowing something directly, without the intermediary of observed cause and effect, I would suggest the faculty of intuition. It’s real, and it seems to escape the limits of time and possibly space…..the Taoists had a word for it. regards, Persiflage

  • PSolus

    “WHAT IS THIS EVIDENCE FOR GOD’S EXISTENCE, APART FROM THE BIBLE?Oh, OK, that makes sense.

  • persiflage

    TTWSYSTY – as usual, you’re religious speculations are wrong on all counts. The universe can be it’s own cause – and in fact, can be a perpetually recurring phenomenon from endless time. Or maybe not…..but either way, it needs no creator. The familiar universe can also be one of an infinite number of universes, with each one giving birth to new progeny without end. Religion in all it’s forms is archaic and ultimately limited – it is founded on the mythical imaginings of the human mind.In that sense, all religion is exactly identical…..the variations are of course endless. Religion is fundamentally a confining force as regards human evolution, although a natural consequence of being human – a stop along the way. Harkening back to the pagan Aristotle and his papal clone Thomas Aquinas, doesn’t work in the 21st century. Neither one discovered the ‘timeless truth’. Getting to the foundation of our most elaborate imaginal creations is not possible with religion – it’s like putting the child before the mother, since religion and all of it’s artifacts and symbology are simply products of the primary force of imagination – conjured up by the magical mind of man. Or as the Zennists say, it’s like trying to put a head on a head.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    TTWSYFAMDGGAHJMJ1 Free will is more complicated than you imagine it to be. For you, it is a kindergarten concept; you want something, you reach for it, you get it, presto, free will.But there is more than just that. There is the way in which the physicalworld works, to cause things to happen as they do. Is everything pre-determined, existentially, or not? Then there is the human mind, and the way it works, thinks thoughts, and arrives at beliefs. And then there are the contingencies of life, in which we are born into a world and a setting not of our own choosing and dwell in a world of experiences that we do not do not choose and do not want.Do you control your own thoughts? Where do your thoughts come from? Do you make them come to you? How do you make them come to you? Do you choose your belief, freely, and can you choose to abandon your belief, and choose a different one at will, or do you instead, believe in what seems true to you? Wouldn’t other people also do the same? People are not going to believe what seems true to you, but what seems true to them. I do not say that we do not have free will; I just say that I cannot think of any mechanism which determines free will; even such a thought is a contradiction, isn’t it? And because we do not have free will, and do not necessarily choose what happens to us, that does not mean that everything is predestined, or even pre-figured. That is a simple-minded and superficial reaction to a serious question. If you cannot offer a serious reply to such a serious question, then why should anybody believe you about anything?

  • Jihadist

    Again, a society’s social order acts in harmony in direct proportion to its adherence to the Natural and Moral Laws. The purpose of these laws are to harmonized man, who is a social being, into society.When these laws are ignored or broken, the social order is disrupted; when the individual rejects them, his life becomes disjointed from the society in which he lives. The disorders may come silently, in stealth, or they may come uproariously quick, cataclysmically, and dramatically, but their devastative repercussions’ will inevitably come because the Natural Law can only be compromised by God.Posted by: TTWSYFAMDGGAHJMJ1 ******************************************Oh….you set me thinking on chaos theory and butterfly effect in what you wrote. And creative destruction, usually in economics, but can be something here. Thanks.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    As far as I am concerned, there is no natural law, no laws of nature or of science; there is not even any such thing as nature; these are all metaphorical comparisions to our animal experiences to which we impart a real existence. For if there is a natural law, then what is it? If there are laws of nature and laws of science what are these laws? They surely are not physical things, nor energy fields, nor forces of any discernable kind. They are just our assumptions about the motivating influences of the world. I do not even believe that there is such a thing as chaos, nor even of randomness.These, again, are our metaphorical characterizations of our own disordered sensations and thoughts, and of our own personal confusion, to which we impart some sort of concrete reality, but which, it seems, has no real aspect at all, except within the consciousness of man.What is left, but pure order, order which causes all to be as it is. This word “cause” is not really the right word, for it, again, is a metaphorical comparision to animal experiences of causation. This order does not cause anything but, rather defines all that is, and all, that is, reflects this order, a pure order, without purpose, justification, or laws; nothing causes anything else to be, but all things that exist define themselves by the fact of existence.There can be no intelligent designer, for that pre-supposes an intelligent design, and there is no reason to suppose that anything has been intelligently designed. All that we are and have become, our evolutionary ascent from the lower animals, was already defined by the nature of all that is and has always been. All that we humans create by our own intelligent design is in reality, merely our deciphering of a pure order which defines our being, and which we merely discover.I do not say there is no God, only that there is no such thing as an “Intelligent Designer” since nothing has been intelligently designed and therefore there is no basis for assuming an intelligent designer.If someone believes in God, it cannot be because of the wonders of nature and it cannot be by deduction of an intelligent designer. In fact, it cannot be for any scientifically provable reason. This is not to say that there is not God, only that trying to prove God’s existence by scientific methodolgy is a fruitless and pointless effort, a waste of time.

  • timmy2

    DITLD PArt Two”But it is not even caring or not caring; it is more like, ability to comprehend; the kind of intelligence that is required to master modern concepts of science does not seem to come easily to many people”No one needs to master modern concepts of science to think rationally. They just need to not be indoctrinated into primitive God belief before their head is even solid, and provided with a good and healthy education. “I call this an the ability to know how to know”I call that elitist. The only thing that stops people from knowing how to know is bad upbringing. Usually of the religious kind. Why do you think I need to make anyone know how to know?Like i said, knowing how to know is not rocket science. Any average human brain can handle it if not indoctrinated into a primitive cult before your head is even solid. “You need to go through the interlocking concept(s) of knowledge, belief, and truth with that person, and discuss, discuss, discuss what do these words mean to that person. I am telling you, from my own personal experience, for the average Joe-Schmo, it just isn’t going to happen”I have no doubt that you method does not work. I believe that I have a higher success rate with the “make it embarrassing” approach. Along with the help of people like George Carlin and Bill Maher and the New Atheist Authors ect. More people would get sucked into Scientology if it wasn’t so embarrassing to be a Scientologist.

  • farnaz_mansouri2

    “R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and an On Faith contributor, told the Times, “There is not one student on this campus who doesn’t have at least one person in his circle of family and friends voicing these (skeptical) ideas.” Mohler hopes that the new apps can give believers tools for answering the skeptics. “The app store is our new public commons,” he said. To which I say, God help us all.” Albert Mohler is one scary dude. LIked to comment on Tiller the killer, whose murder he did not much regret. I doubt his “students” need apps to recall their “arguments” such as they are. What they need is debriefing.

  • timmy2

    Jihadist Part two”No mention of Eddie Izzard and his funny wacky takes and anecdotes on everything from religion to history to languages?”It would have been too long a list if I tried to name them all. But good for you for bringing up another one. There are so many. “Never heard of Matt Stone, Seth MacFarlane, Trey Parker”Matt Stone and Trey Parker are the creators of the ultimate in irreverence television program “South Park.” Seth MacFarlane is the creator of “Family Guy” another great irreverence machine. All have employed cutting edge humor to make religious beliefs seem as ridiculous and primitive and irrational as they are. “What about Richard Pryor, Chris Rock?”Excellent examples, though I’ve not heard Chris Rock take on religion. “Or are “black folks” too “religious” and must be put in their place for their archaic belief in God and adherence to “foreign” religions and cultures?”This sounds like a racist comment to me. I suggest you keep these opinions to yourself, for your own good. “Mr. Bean is the most universally recognized and loved, comic or comedian”Mr. Bean is a character, not a comedian. The comedian’s name is Rowan Atckinson. And he is much funnier when he speaks. The Mr. Bean character is so popular world wide because he is all mime and can be understood in any language. Very smart play but the character is a little broad and pedestrian for my tastes. But Rowan Atkinson is much funnier when he speaks. Look up his sketch where he plays the devil welcoming new arrivals to Hell. Very funny stuff.

  • timmy2

    Jihadist Part One”Bertrand Russell has a more impressive body of work in range and intellectual depth than Dawkins, Harris and Hitchens combined”You know who turned me on to Bertrand Russell? Sam Harris. “Even this monotheist is impressed by and respect Bertrand Russell for his body of work”Impressive.”a Great God compared to the demi-gods and semi-devils of atheism worshipped by popcorn fare consuming atheists”Wow. Where to start? First of all Bertrand Russell would say that you missed all of his points if he heard you refer to him as a Great God. Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins would also be aghast and downright pissed to hear that anyone worshiped them. Nor do I think that anyone does worship them. This is just an empty accusation that is uttered by theists who want everyone else to seem as crazy as y’all. “Do one characterize an atheist who is militantly insistent and consistent that there is no god as a mono-atheist?”I know of no such people. Call them whatever you want if you encounter any. “Do one call an atheist who held Dawkins, Harris and Hitchens (that triad of demi-gods) as a poly-atheist due to their slight variations and representations on atheism and atheist manifestos too?”The men you listed above are just authors, not gods or demigods or beings of worship of any kind. Your characterization of them as such is, as I already stated, a pathetic attempt to make us seem as crazy as your God worshiping mindset. Most atheists I know are against such primitive behavior as “entity worship.” Also, there is really no such thing as “atheism” and there are no atheist manifestos. An atheist is just someone who holds no God beliefs. There is nothing else to it. And what does popcorn have to do with anything?

  • timmy2

    Carstonio part twoThough I am an atheist, I am not a militant atheist. I do not profess to know that there is no God or gods. But I do not believe that there are gods or God because I see no evidence of such. But I can not prove that the tooth fairy does not exists nor do I pretend to be able to prove that God does not exist. I do however hold a strong conviction that The monotheistic God from religions like Judaism, Christianity and Islam does not exist, and this belief, or conviction, comes from ample evidence that this particular God was created by man and not the other way around. I am often mistaken for a militant atheist, but if one reads my words carefully, they will see that what I really am is a militant agnostic. Persiflage once called me the “long lost archon of certain uncertainty.” I like it. I am certain that no one is certain. The militant agnostic says “I don’t know and neither do you”. If I have a faith, this is it. My conviction in the “neither do you” part comes from my belief that if anyone knew, we’d all know, because there would be evidence. If someone knew the answers to the mystery we’d all be living the perfect life now. Do not be fooled by this old snake oil salesman trickery of telling you that God will be evidence-less or that he will only speak to a few and expect us all to take their word for it. My faith is that this ploy is just what I called it. A snake oil salesman’s scam. It’s the same ploy as this idea that logic and reason will somehow incumber your ability to experience a revelation from God. This is the biggest load of mind warping bunk ever inflicted on the human psyche. So there you have it. I am an agnostic atheist. The most credible philosophical stance in my opinion. The most intellectually honest. And so I do get a little militant about it. I say “I don’t know and neither do you”

  • timmy2

    Carstonio, Part oneHere’s how it works. If one does not believe in God or gods, one is an atheist. I qualify here and so do you if you can not name any god that you believe in. One does not need to believe that no God of any kind exists to be an atheist. One simply needs to have a lack of belief in any God or gods. An agnostic is a person who answers “I don’t know” to the big questions at hand. Question: What is the origin of the universe?Question: How did life originate?Question: Is there a God?If one answers “I don’t know” to these questions, one is an agnostic. If this same person also holds no belief in any God or gods, they are also an atheist. Most atheists I have encountered are also agnostics. In fact, it is their agnosticism that makes them atheists. The way you describe agnostics, it sounds like they are people who are 50/50 on the God question. “Maybe he exists, and maybe he doesn’t.” I don’t think I know too many people like this. I think that most people who call themselves agnostics are also atheists but they are just really polite and politically correct about it.

  • timmy2

    Carstonio,”That includes skepticism of the atheist stance”What is the atheist stance? Disbelief in God. How can one be skeptical about a disbelief. It is already a skeptical position. What you are suggesting is something like a double negative only it’s a double skepticism. Skepticism about your skepticism. The atheist stance is not a positive posit. It is a lack of belief in someone else’s posit. That is skepticism. I agree with you that we should be skeptical about everything. That is what makes me and every other atheist an atheist.

  • timmy2

    Twisted one,”I wonder how you explain “observation” for solving mathematical problems”Math was created by observation. Or can you give another explanation?”or composing a concert”We observe that certain notes go well together to make pleasing sounds and then we follow through on that to create music. “or writting a book”We observe that certain tories capture people’s attention and give reading pleasure. And we pursue this interest based on our observations.Next?

  • timmy2

    DITLD,”But BROTHER, have I got news for them, and for Timmy, and for everyone, there is a lot more to this world that we inhabit that is speculative, than the mere question, “does God exist.”It is news to me that this is news to me.

  • timmy2

    Persiflage,”As far as knowing something directly, without the intermediary of observed cause and effect, I would suggest the faculty of intuition”Really? And how do you recognize your intuition? Um…… observation? Do you not observe your intuition? Is it unobservable to you? I think that intuition, like everything else, is something that you observe. Like love. It’s something that we observe. Everything we know and do comes from observation. And science is nothing more than observation. I repeat, science is NOTHING MORE than observation.

  • persiflage

    ‘Man knows he has free will because he can make choices. Animals and all other creatures in the Universe have no free will, they act on instinct in accord to their nature.’Humans imagine that they recognize ‘choices’ and then rationally select options according to their own best interest – this all happens without the chooser being remotely aware of the endless chain of causation that creates the moment of ‘choice’…..events going back to the Big Bang. And then, still not knowing all the facts and factors, we so often make the wrong choice! Is this free will, or something else? As DITLD says, free will is only a concept. Making the right choice here and now somehow involves attempting to predict the future, when you get down to it. We are hearing alot about the notable differences in IQ and general intellectual prowess between individuals, groups, and populations of people. By far the most important cogntive faculty that any of us has is an intact short-term memory. Without it, we are as helpless as a newborn baby….a malady often found with anyone suffering from advanced dementia, Korsakov’s syndrome, forms of global amnesia, etc. I wonder if Bobby Fischer could still play chess in his final days? Back in the 1970′s BF Skinner and his behaviorism was all the rage – he maintained that all behavior and all responses were conditioned. He did not believe that there was a cognitive dimension to decision-making. While this view has largely fallen out of favor, he did have a point as regards behavior and conditioning. For example, religious beliefs/behavior are conditioned – a form of learned family inheritance shaped and taught from an early age. One’s religious faith is a function of time, place and circumstance – an accident of nature. This recognition alone should cause one to question the validity of one’s religious ‘absolutism’…. when everything in the end is relative to circumstances beyond our control. It should be obvious why one religion is preferred over all others ….. we were raised to believe this. ______________’Is doing math intuitive? Is composing music intuitive? It’s reason from which we make judgments from ideas abstracted from reality.’In fact, for mathematical and musical prodigies it is indeed intuitive. They are simply born with extraordinary understanding and imposing calculating, composing and playing abilities from day one……..whether this is in the DNA or is a function of the human spirit, karmic propensities, and so forth can be debated – but immediately acquired knowledge that occurs outside of a cause and effect relationship and transcends the passage of time is said to be intuitive.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    TimmyA further explanation of science as hearsay:Many scientists do many experiments but all scientists do not do all experiments, and most scientists only do a few experiments. They then take the results, and together with other scientists form a consensus of opinion on the meaning of the experiments. Non-scientists, for the most part, do not do any scientific experiements at all. They read about the scientific experiments and they read about the consequent consensus of scientific opinion. The consensus of science competes with the consensus of Catholicism and with the consensus of Islam. All are hearsay, because all are what other people say, and not what you know from your own personal experience. All that we know of our own personal experience is what animals know, that the ground is solid, that eating food satisfies our hunger, that moving our legs transports our bodies. But we do not know from our own personal experience about atoms or distant planets nor even of evolution; we know of these things because the consensus of science tells us all about these things.In seeking valid knowledge of the world, we must get a handle on the meaning of these competing consensus of opinions, on the reason behind each consensus, and why one way of thinking may present more valid information than anther. This is what I mean by saying that people must learn how to know, before they can know.If all we need do is “observe” how the world works, and then everyone would know the truth, then how come people don’t do that? Is there anyway that I can persuade you that scientific knowledge is a consensus of opinion that you learn by reading and by hearing what other people say about it? Some people, who are truely and deeply intersted in the consensus of scientific opinion may themselves perform very simple scientific experiements, but for the most part, people don’t; they find out about it by hearing about it, and often they don’t believe it; they do not need to have a reason for not believing it; they simply dismiss scientific opinion because it conflicts with a consensus of opinion that they hold in higher regard.Although science is not a philosopyy, it is presented in educational settings and in books as though it were a philosophy, and people freely dismiss it, at their whim, in favor of what they consider a better or more satisfying philosophy.In knowing how to know, a person must hear more than the consensus of science; a person must realize what science is, and how it works, that it is not just someone, somewhere making things up to upset them. But if a person cannot or will not realize this, then a person has no basis for collecting valid knowledge about the world, and there is no argument that you can present them that will persuade them.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    TTWSYFAMDGGAHJMJ1Your reply should have been to me, not Timmy. You make flat statements about natural law and about free will. But you give no reason why any of these statements might be true, nor why anyone should believe them. That is fine, but there is nothing in anything you have said to argue with, other than to say, I do not believe your statements.

  • thebump

    Authoress: ‘I don’t think that people “lose” their faith because they have read a convincing argument by Susan Jacoby.’Indeed, a convincing argument by Susan Jacoby would be a miracle. Thank God for a (minor) point of agreement!The authoress does raise some valid concerns about technology’s unintended consequences. Still, there is something delicious about an atheist railing against modernity!

  • persiflage

    Hi Farnaz,And thanks for the link. I read through it, and continue to wonder how scientists such as Strobel, who show a lot of common sense when it comes to separating science and religion in the classroom, are still able to subscribe to a conventional monotheistic view of God – if that is the case of course. Mabye some moderate Christian scientists have an unconventional view of the supreme deity, but in the end, my contention is that religion overall gives it’s practitioners and followers a great, emotionally quenching sense of meaning that they don’t expect to find or cannot find, elsewhere. Religious affiliation may be a lifelong activity that presents little conflict with a scientific line of work – although it seems to me that modern cosmology is ripe for conflict with any brand of creationist oriented monotheism. Compartmentalization is an interesting phenomenon that defuses a great deal of potential conflict! I imagine that for the scientist as an educated, reflective person actively participating in religious activities, this state of mind might be hard to describe, and harder to explain. A sense of collective community sharing and belonging? I don’t underestimate this human need…..Personally I don’t understand how folks find God by reading the bible, but that’s just me :)

  • persiflage

    ‘Laws exist in a substance, and have no existence of their own, they are philosophically called “accidents” as opposed to “substance or substantial beings” in which the accidents exist. Theories are formulas that predicate change; change is not a substance, or being with an existing nature. Theories are measures of change.’The so-called ‘God outside time’ idea is simply monotheistic theology 101. There is no empirical basis whatsoever for ordinary mortals to believe that this theory is true other than by way of religious conditioning – especially where alternative theories provide a better explanation for phenomena. Since it can neither be proven nor disproven, science doesn’t bother with the God theory. The natural laws of physics exist as a function of relationships and are not autonomous. Immanent self-existing moral laws, despite Plato’s archetypes, are a feature of the religious imagination – we know of nothing that is immanent and self-existing outside the human mind – in fact, we know of nothing apart from the human mind, period. Morals and morality, among the most relative of all cultural values, evolved most likely as a function of human survival in groups, and the need for controlled, cohesive behavior among group members. Einstein had an exceedingly subtle understanding of relativity, but didn’t buy into quantum physics (even though he is considered by many to have opened this theoretical door).So far, our material reality seems to be an ever-fluctuating state of particles and waves…..although particles/quarks may simply be one configuration of the fundamental wave.An interesting link that discusses this and other possibilities below…

  • farnaz_mansouri2

    Mark:I think I agree about the Abrahamics being the most faith-based. The other Judaism(s) spend no time on “faith.” It is assumed that their is a deity; human’s job is to move on from there. Since there is no personal salvation in the Christian sense there is no “prayer anxiety.” Jews don’t know this phrase unless they have some familiarity with Christianity. Judaism is about how to live so as to maximize the good of the world, perfect it–tikkun olam. This is not to say that every Jew is in perfect harmony with tikkun olam, of course. However, human, in Judaism, is predisposed toward error. That is understood.There is no more gloppy, mushy, pointless term in current theological discussions than “Abrahamic,” which we are doomed to have with us courtesy of the former Pope.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    TTWSYFAMDGGAHJMJ1 You continue to make sweeping proclamations about the existence of God, about natural law, about free will, without giving any reasons why these proclamations are true, or why anyone should believe them. So what is your point in repeating over and over these things? There is no argument or reason to anything that you say. Your state of mind is a little worrisome to me.

  • farnaz_mansouri2

    There is no more gloppy, mushy, pointless term in current theological discussions than “Abrahamic,” which we are doomed to have with us courtesy of the former Pope.I use the term simply to designate that three religions have a common ancestry and claim to worship the same being. It’s not my intention to gloss over the dramatic theological differences between the three religions.”The three religions” differ radically (at the ROOT) in their conceptions of God. It is meaningless (produces no understanding or edification), at best, obfuscating, to speak of them as if they do not. That is why “Abrahamic” is pointless, meaningless, political gibberish.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    If someone believes in God, there is no God-theory. The existence of God has no scientifically provable basis. To say that you feel the presense of God is a better explanation than a scientific argument about the beauty of music and sunsets. To say that God calls to you is a better explantion than to say that God must exist, because how could he not exist. People who feel compelled to prove the existence of God are trying to prove it to themselves, because they do not feel his presence and do not hear his calling to them. But the existence of God cannot be proven. All the arguments that I ever hear to prove the existence of God have been offered and have failed to convince, many, many times before.

  • farnaz_mansouri2

    Jews recognize and accept Reconstructionist Judaism as JUdaism. HOwever, many Reconstructionists, including, I’m certain, the founder of this branch, were and are A-theists.Abrahamic?

  • persiflage

    ‘He is incomprehensible in His infinite perfection by all lesser intelligences, although knowable as to the fact of His existence as Living Creator and Lord of heaven and earth, almighty, eternal, immense, and distinct from all that He has created. That is what I mean by God.’And this is exactly where conventional monotheism falls apart, and plunges into the abyss of irrationality and magical thinking. The infinite by definition cannot be known, and particularly by finite creatures who do not, according to Christian theology, share this all-important characteristic of infinitude.It’s really a wonder that so many have bought into this virtually impossible, completely contradictory, and downright illogical schematic for so many centuries. However, Christianity proposed a solution for this enigma right from the start – the mangod Jesus became the god of the gaps. Presto, dilemma solved! Now if we could just find a good place for the Holy Spirit, an elusive, infinite manifestation of God that somehow manages to control the Catholic church and it’s doctrines via a very finite and often-fallible pope. I think not. Try again…….

  • farnaz_mansouri2

    DITLD:If all we need do is “observe” how the world works, and then everyone would know the truth, then how come people don’t do that? Most of us do not read much of science, do not understand it, and that includes atheists. Yet, we accept it. “Observation” is, as you say, also a much misused term. I think those of us who give priority to scientific explanations are probably generalizing from what they know, their own intellectual tendencies, and the fruits of science.But “science” is not observation. I cannot “observe” an atom splitting. DNA was a model, an endlessly productive model. Some scientists say that science is about models.

  • WmarkW

    There is no more gloppy, mushy, pointless term in current theological discussions than “Abrahamic,” which we are doomed to have with us courtesy of the former Pope.Abraham is mentioned prominently in the scriptures of all three faiths. Child sacrifice isn’t exactly my cup of tea, probably because I don’t value faith more than reason, but the three faiths all do in their most primitive forms.

  • WmarkW

    Christianity prizes child sacrifice; it is the great act of the Christian deity. Judaism ends human sacrifice to gods with Abraham. To say they have Abraham in common is as enlightening as to say they have trees in common.It’s not gibberish to trace their similar roots.

  • farnaz_mansouri2

    Ok, Judaism replaced children with sheep and Christianity replaced sheep with crackers.It’s not gibberish to trace their similar roots.Posted by: WmarkW

  • farnaz_mansouri2

    Mark:Btw, Judaism gave up the sheep. Christianity still has the crackers and wine.

  • farnaz_mansouri2

    Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism all have dietary restrictions. Therefore they are the Dietary religions.

  • Jihadist

    Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism all have dietary restrictions. Therefore they are the Dietary religions.Posted by: farnaz_mansouri2 *******************************************:)Exactly. I don’t smoke. I don’t drink. I don’t do drugs. I am healthier than Hitchens.

  • farnaz_mansouri2

    Exactly. I don’t smoke. I don’t drink. I don’t do drugs. I am healthier than Hitchens.Posted by: JihadistOften, I think he is very funny, albeit unintentionally. I don’t know….For contemporary atheists, I prefer Sam Harris, Dennett, Jen Hecht, Susan. But I like to read Hitch’s ravings about Israel, Islam, Whatever.Having discovered that his mother was Jewish, he now holds a seder every year. He is still an atheist, and I doubt he knows very much about Passover. A character. A parodist. If he’s not careful, though, he will become a parody of himself.

  • persiflage

    Farnaz,Thanks for the Singer, and also the link on Buddhism and Atheism. This is a lengthy video so will view when time allows. Interesting to see a Buddhist monk in full garb with an English accent! We apparently have pre-conceived notions that we are only vaguely aware of! Which reminds me, I recall seeing the Dalai Lama in person in Kalamazoo, Michigan at least 25 years ago. I believe his English has improved about 200% since those days…something is always lost in translation.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    TTWSYFAMDGGAHJMJ1Once again, you are replying to my comments, but addressing someone else.With regards to mathematics, and the meaning of adding things up, that is just silly nonsense. I know how to add, and I am not troubled by the meaning in it. So, again, do you have a point? If so, you are not making it very well.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    TTWSYFAMDGGAHJMJWhat do you think is truth/knowledge/belief?Belief is what seems true to the believer.Knowledge is what the knower believes is true. Truth is the object of knowledge and belief.None of thesse words represents a complete concept; they are an interlocking concept; they cannot be disentangled from each other. Say what you will; proclaim what you will about truth; belittle the beliefs of others; claim pure knowledge of divine truth; none of it is plausible or believable, at least not to me. What I believe is true, instead, is that pure order defines all that is, without justification or explanation. And that we are animals living in a sensory world of animal experience, but with some knowledge of the pure order that defines all that is knowable to us, and that enables us to be.”God’s natural law … ” is an invention of the human mind, which does not make any sense to me; just keep saying it over and over, without giving any reason or explanation, and will keep on not-understanding it.

  • PSolus

    “Exactly. I don’t smoke. I don’t drink. I don’t do drugs. I am healthier than Hitchens.”More importantly, you did not anger allah, or god, or mohammed, or jebus, or the bvm, or whoever retch down his throat and gave him cancer.Good on you.

  • timmy2

    Carstonio,The most common dictionary definition of “atheist” is the one that I use. By this definition, one who does not believe in god or Gods is an atheist. “We have no basis for determining the likelihood of any claims about gods, or determining the relative likelihood of some claims versus others”We don’t? How ridiculous. There is a known history to the development of religious ideas and looking at this history and the religions themselves I think it is quite easy to determine the relative likelihood of certain Gods. For example, the Christian God has impossible contradictions. He can not exist as described. These contradictions are well documented. I can never be 100% certain that the Christian God does not exist, but I can be 99.99999% certain. And that is enough for me to be vocal in my disbelief.”I cannot be certain that no one has testable evidence for the existence of gods”If they did, why would you not be able to test it and confirm?”My issue with any sort of belief or certainty about gods, even the position that they don’t exist, is that such certainty rejects the possibility that the position is incorrect”Like I said, i have no absolute certainty that any god does not exist just like I have no absolute certainty that the tooth fairy does not exist. But I can be close enough to certain on both accounts to discount their existence with confidence. We are the same here. But I do not give any credibility to God claims whose likelihood is infinitesimal and you seem think that an infinitesimal probability is enough to show respect for such beliefs and I do not show such claims any respect. “Skepticism about disbelief would entail a willingness to question the disbelief, an openness to testable evidence that would refute the disbelief”I am open an willing to question my disbelief. What makes you think that I am not?”I’m interested in what that evidence may be”Name a God, I will give you evidence that he was invented by humans.

  • timmy2

    DITLD”The consensus of science competes with the consensus of Catholicism and with the consensus of Islam. All are hearsay, because all are what other people say, and not what you know from your own personal experience”Wrong. Hearsay is a court term. It applies to cases where verification of the testimony is not possible because the person who’s claim is being put forth is unavailable to verify. Scientific evidence is always available for verification so it does not even remotely qualify as hearsay. “But we do not know from our own personal experience about atoms or distant planets nor even of evolution”This does not make them hearsay. I hope you understand this and drop this whole “hearsay” thing. “This is what I mean by saying that people must learn how to know, before they can know”No one can ever “know”. We can only have varying degrees of certainty. “If all we need do is “observe” how the world works, and then everyone would know the truth”What truth?”Is there anyway that I can persuade you that scientific knowledge is a consensus of opinion that you learn by reading and by hearing what other people say about it?”Is there anyway that I can persuade you that it is verifiable and therefore not hearsay. Perhaps you could find another term that is not as wrong as “hearsay”. “and there is no argument that you can present them that will persuade them”I know. That is why I make it embarrassing to be a believer. Embarrassment works. I’ve seen it first hand.

  • farnaz_mansouri2

    TTWSY and So Forth:Hold on, there, Charlemagne. My reply was to WMarKW and concerns my problems with the term Abrahamic. He raised the sheep, crackers and wine. Actually, I think wafer is the correct word.Ignoring it suggests that African American gays don’t exist, or worse, that they don’t count. THEY do. And they are not “perverted.” Pedophiles on the other hand….Btw., I did want to ask you–if the RCC holds that gayness is not a sin, is a symptom of our fallen world, why won’t the church endorse gay marriage?Or, maybe, I should ask in what class of imperfections would gayness fall, or how is it classified?

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    TTWSYFAMDGGAHJMJ1 It’s called “symbolic ritual;” LOOK IT UP!!

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    TTWSYFAMDGGAHJMJ1 ” And, the bread and wine are transubstantiated. Further, the transubstantiation changes the substance of both the bread and wine and they no longer exists, namely a miracle occurs by the sacred powers of the priesthood… “I don’t think that this happens.

  • timmy2

    Jihadist,Using the term “Great God” for Bertrand Russell is my personal compliment to him as one who contributed much in the field of philosophy and, er, logic”I know. It reveals your tendency to worship.”As for atheist manifesto, you can look them up yourself. Even Sam Harris has one”That would be a Sam Harris manifesto. If there is an atheist manifesto, please quote from it. If you can not, I guess there isn’t one. “As comedians, Richard Pryor and Chris Rock focus mostly on race, not religion”That is why your comment that omitted them from my list of comics who are famous for tackling religion because they are black and therefore more likely to be religious was so asinine. “Interesting that you should think I was “racist”"I didn’t call you a racist, I said that your comment sounded racist to me. “I was mocking what you said in your posts re Aghanistan and Aghans, the previous topic in the main thread”I know. It didn’t fly. I mocked you back. And that, like most things, flew right over your head. “For a stand up making his living bashing religions and religionists”I do not make my living bashing religions. I make my living making people laugh. In this way, religion is my friend. It helps me do my job by providing endless absurdity for great comedy material. But it’s not my bread and butter. If I do a 1 hour show, I’ll spend about 10 minutes talking about religion. 
”We’re not all fanatics. I am not a terrorist.”When did I ever say that you were either of these things. “Muslim jokes? Muslim comedy? Halal comedy? There is no such thing”Another good reason not to be a muslim I guess. Thanks for enlightening.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    Timmy”Hearsay” is something someone has heard but does not know to be true. I am not referring to legal procedings in a courtroom; I am talking about how people in the real world arrive at their beliefs and opinions.Why do you believe that science is true? It cannot be because you have personally seen and observed all of the findings of science yourself, because no one has done that.

  • timmy2

    The world “proof” is way overused here. No one can “prove” anything.There are propositions for which there is almost an insurmountable amount of evidence in favor of. And there are propositions for which there is almost an insurmountable amount of evidence against. And there are varying degrees in between. All of our knowledge is based on evidence. Observed evidence. Some things have lots of evidence. Some things have no evidence. Most popular concepts of God have virtually no evidence for them, and mountains of evidence pointing to them being inventions of primitive human minds.

  • timmy2

    That should say the WORD “proof” below, not the world proof.

  • farnaz_mansouri2

    TTWSY:I did not mean to offend you. And I would like you to answer my questions, if you can.There are branches of Judaism that are very confused about gayness. Traditional and Modern Orthodox, and Haredi. They, too, don’t want to call it a sin. Great. Now what? Live and let live. This is 2010.Violence brings violence. My gay student has brothers, one of whom I know. One of the thugs who brutalized my student is out on bail. He’s keeping a low profile, and that is good for all concerned. This criminal is a product of a culture that condemns gayness. Something is amiss, TTWSY.

  • Rongoklunk

    Timmy.

  • WmarkW

    Farnaz – your comments seem to be a breath of fresh air on an otherwise very stale blog. Citing iPhone apps to rail about critical thinking skills, is rather like bemoaning the state of book publishing because of the titles available at Wal-Mart.

  • timmy2

    Rongoklunk,Thank you for your comment. As for these “apps” that Susan brought up: If they bring more people into this conversation and debate, if they make people think or investigate further into this subject matter, then they are a good thing in my opinion. Sound bites are only a bad thing is that is all you ever get. As long as we have access to information which we all do, then sound bites that make you think are a plus, not a minus.

  • timmy2

    DITLD”I am not referring to legal procedings in a courtroom; I am talking about how people in the real world arrive at their beliefs and opinions”Then why are you using a courtroom term that does not apply.”Why do you believe that science is true?”Why do I believe that what science is true? Science is not something that is true or false. It is a method of discovery. It is the results of scientific experiments that are true or false. And I generally give them credibility because, unlike hearsay, they are verifiable. Why will you not name the other methods of discovery that are not scientific? Just name another method of discovering anything that is not observed.

  • thebump

    Timmy: “science is NOTHING MORE than observation”If that were the case, science would be stuck at square one.

  • timmy2

    Carstonio,”But we have no knowledge of anything that would support either the existence or non-existence of any gods”Correct that there is nothing in support of any Gods, but there is much evidence that Gods were invented by humans. This is not proof that God does not exist, but it is evidence towards that conclusion. And there are mountains of this kind of evidence.. “My point was that there may be testable evidence out there that we don’t know about”That is my point as well. But why wouldn’t we know about it if other people do know about it? That is my point. “I don’t know and neither do you” means just that. If you knew, I’d know too. “I avoid certainty in such matters because it seems like an absolute concept to me”Who said anything about certainty. I said with confidence. “To me, certainty implies an unwillingness to ever change one’s mind in the face of contrary evidence”Who ever said anything about certainty. Why do you put words into my mouth. I specifically said that I am not 100% certain. Just really confident in what I believe. And my confidence is evidence based. That is why you don’t have to worry about me being unwilling to change my mind in the face of contrary evidence. I am all about evidence. Show me contrary evidence and I change my mind. “The only respect I’m showing is for the difference between “impossible” and “almost impossible.”Nothing is impossible. The Christian God is about as close to impossible as one can get. Showing confidence that he is not real is quite rational and reasonable.

  • timmy2

    Bump,”If that were the case, science would be stuck at square one”Science is always at square one.

  • thebump

    Timmy: “A lot of people profess belief in God without giving it much thought.”True. And by the same token a lot of people who deny belief in God do so without giving it any serious thought.

  • thebump

    Science is always at square one? I’m sure that’s incredibly profound, but alas is about as opaque as anything I’ve ever read here.

  • Jihadist

    Ahhh….so now we know. Athiests have to rely on published atheists for the “thinking” and “material” to “work on”. Such an earnest, serious, save the world lot from the religionists and other idiots.Cheap shot apps:- Religionists poison everything.- Religionist worship god/s

  • timmy2

    Bump,”True. And by the same token a lot of people who deny belief in God do so without giving it any serious thought”Maybe. Not me though.

  • Jihadist

    “A lot of people profess belief in God without giving it much thought”******************************************There is a God. There is no God. Oh, the World Cup finals is Sunday!Oh, I got to get the dry cleaning and groceries from the store. I got to finish that bond offering the end of this month.

  • farnaz_mansouri2

    WmarkW:I posted to you awhile ago on Kessler’s thread. My comments are below JJ’s praying hands. I think you were right on the mark :)Did you see the post? Get to the link? It’s useful, I think. God, or Not, I rhymed.

  • Jihadist

    Farnaz, Sorry I missed your post.Didn’t know Hitch had cancer until you mentioned he has a serious illness. My I’m healthier than Hitch post was knowing he love to smoke and drink. So, a bit by you on your fave disbelievers and unbelievers eh. Hitch is an excellent and interesting in writer in his mother tongue. But what he wrote on politics and current affairs can be spectacular wrong. His verbals and written pieces on individuals can sometimes be just plain ……. I don’t know if wants to be the clown prince or queen bee of atheists. Harris is woozy on spiritualism, and rather off on history and sociology of societies he wrote on. As for some of his solutions and proposals on religous extremism and extremists, his very target surely understands, for they regard their enemies and threats to them in the same way. Dawkins wrote as if he is a born again atheist populist even though he’s a scientist. But of course, he is writing for a general audience. I only mentioned those three for are often mentioned and quoted by atheists in On Faith. Hitchens and Harris are globalisers and generalisers on religions the same way Armstrong is. These books are like those by Fukuyama and Huntington. Selling a lot but still, books focusing on specific aspects, groups or regions are much more illuminating and right in their analysis. What can I say. I love “small” fiction and non-fiction by less “popular” authors. Never mind Hitch, discovering his mother was Jewish, holding a seder every year, still remain an atheist. If he wants to celebrate Christmas too, so be it. I hope for his children he’s having the seder to acknowledge and remember their heritage. What do one say to God adverse, religion repulsed Hitch who’s with cancer? He won’t like – our thoughts and prayers are with you.

  • WmarkW

    Farnaz, is that article still on the front of the Main Page? They really need to rotate their content.What I’m trying to pin down is if the rules here are the same for religious organization as other ones. For any secular campus club, there’s almost always the doctrine of protected and dominant groups. The Women Engineer’s Club can exclude men, but not the reverse; The Black Legal Society can exclude whites, but not the reverse.Since gays are a protected group and Christians a dominant one, can a Christian club exclude gays? Can the Gay Club could exclude a Christian ex-gay who claimed the Lord turned his lifestyle around.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    TTWSYFAMDGGAHJMJ1I didn’t understand a word you said. I guess people as dumb as me just get thrown into the Lake of Fire.There is no qualification for truth, except that a truth be true. If the truth of a true thing does not conform to logic, then that does not matter. And there is no reason to refer to truth as something conceived in the mind of God; that is an irrelevancy. What you think is conceived in the mind of God is actually conceived in your own mind and then attributed to God; one could hardly expect a neutral observer to make any sense of such statements as yours.What you are really doing is parrotting the party line. All of the proofs that you give for God have been commonly stated before by many people, and likewise been commonly rejected by many others, as not plausible or believable. For these types of propositions, so far afield from any kind of normal experience or common sense about the world, there is no argument to be made.

  • farnaz_mansouri2

    Hi Mark,On gays as a “protected group,” the Court did not rule. Hastings was quite open in saying they didn’t want their name associated with the club, thought it was discriminatory, but the Court would not rule on discrimination.Here’s the link to Kessler’s thread. My post is just beneath JJ’s. Follow the link under my comments if you have time. The brief essay explains things well, I think.

  • jontomus

    try to imagine what kind of muslim TTWSYFAMDGGAHJMJ1 would be if he had been born is Saudi Arabia, or Pakistan.By a sheer geographical accident, he was born in a country infested with Christians.Let us hope there aren’t too many more TTWSYFAMDGGAHJMJ1′s in the muslim world.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    TTWSYFAMDGGAHJMJ1 Yes, but your description of transubstantion doesn’t really mean anything.If the bread and wine maintain the form of bread and wine, then they have not changed into anything else. So they change but reamin the same. A pronouncement of a Medieval legislative body is not necessarily true, is in fact, probably, untrue. The transubstantiation that you need is from a Medieval paradigm to a modern one. I have discussed this matter with many Catholics, and I have never met a single Catholic who believes in transubstantiantion, although I have met many Catholics who had never even heard of it, and learned about it from me, a Methodist.

  • farnaz_mansouri2

    TTWSY:I know you don’t want to reply to my posts, and that’s okay. For what it’s worth, although not a Christian, I understand that many Catholics see the Eucharist as a mystery (in the religious sense). I’m not ready to write off the varieties of religious experience quite yet, whether or not they emerge from institutionalized religions.All I ask is that they be kept separate from the state. We will not agree on that, I know.I would like to know if you were always religious or experienced something==what the Protestants call a conversion–out of which your religiosity grew.Also, do you ever read about other things. Play sports? See movies? Other?Farnaz

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    TimmyI wrote you a good response, but it vanished. I hate it when that happens. It is mystery. I guess it must have bypassed this forum and gone directly into the mind of God.I am too tired to re-write the whole thing, so I will say it more briefly, and porbably better, for being brief.There are only 2 ways to know anything:1 by personal experienceI call this the knowledge of the senses, and the knowledge of consensus.You, like many people, like myself, have so much confidence in the consensus of scientific opinion that you cannot imagine that anyone else would not.But some people do not understand science and even feel hostility towards it. These people hear the same consensus of scientific opinon that you and I hear, but they do not believe it. I put alot more in the original post, but that is the jist of it.

  • farnaz_mansouri2

    The first Christians certainly had perfectly Jewish conceptions of God, so to say theological differences are “at the root” is at least as problematic as you find the term “Abrahamic”.

  • farnaz_mansouri2

    DITLD:I posted to you on your science comments.

  • thebump

    And no offense taken or meant, but it simply absurd to say that two things with a common root differ “at the root”, or with a common foundation differ “foundationally”.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    FarnazI didn’t see your post, so I went back and looked. I’ve got it kind of clear in my head, what I mean, but I can’t get it out into words very well, or easily. I said that we only have two ways of knowing anything:1 by personal experienceBut since there is no good answer to the queston, “what is knowledge,” then any conversation about knowledge and knowing is provisional. For example, I have said that you can know something from personal experience, but personal experience does not always provide valid knowledge, but can be as misleading as second hand information.There is no good definition of knowledge, belief, or truth. Since there are no good defintions of these words, then I think the very concepts themselves must be suspect, as not particularly meaningful. It is better to say that we seek to form a valid image of the world. There is no methodical or organized way to form this valid image; we form it creatively, by gathering “chunks of knowledge” strewn throughout the landscape of experience, placed there through centuries of writing, study, experience, and science; and we take these chunks of knowledge and arrange them around in our minds, this way and that, like an interior designer, until one way seems better and more satisfying than all the rest. But we keep gathering more and more chunks of knowledge, as we go through our lives, and we have to fit them in somehow to our scheme of the world, sometimes, to modify and embellish, what we already know, sometimes to radically rearrange, and make something new the centerpeice of our thinking.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    Ttwsyf …Yes, I agree, I don’t understand you language. It seems to be a sort of quasi-Latin religio-babble. Why don’t you just try plain English, if you wish to get your message accross.I notice that you often seem to use a string of big, Latinized words, more to be impressive than to communicate a thought.”Consequently … ” I don’t understand your posts very well.Just what is it that you are getting at?

  • persiflage

    “I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.”And this is the Einstein quote on God, religion, and science that seems to be the summing up of his sentiments. An impersonal God is not in any sense the biblical and often vengeful creator God of our typcial religious upbringing in the West, but is indeed the God of Spinoza. People have referred to this impersonal pantheistic force by many names …..including God, Brahman, the Great Spirit, Ain Sof, the One Mind, etc. etc. etc. ‘However, beside human intelligence, we know that there exists other intelligences, and they are the intelligence of God, and the Angels.’Mythically speaking, the Hindu and Buddhist pantheon of gods, devas, asuras, deities, paradise and hell worlds, etc. is far more vast, as compared to Western theologies. Life is seen as permeating the universe and many other dimensions besides… All are viewed as limited and transient life forms that are simply manifestations of the great impersonal Tao/Brahman/Godhead/Ain Sof…..Form of any kind is temporary, regardless of life span. The primary goal with eastern religions is realization rather than salvation. Humans deliver themselves from ignorance (equivilant to spiriual sleep rather than spiritual death)- and admittedly this is a concept much harder to grapple with compared to a fantasy based on someone else doing it for you….

  • ThomasBaum

    persiflageYou wrote, ” this is a concept much harder to grapple with compared to a fantasy based on someone else doing it for you….”Seems as if you may be a little biased here where you compare one to a “concept” and another to a “fantasy”.This “fantasy” as you put it, is not that Someone did it for “you”, (meaning the individual person, right?), but for us, (as meaning ALL OF HUMANITY).And also in this “fantasy”, those that accept this “fantasy” are asked to “Come follow Me” and die for others.So as far as “Someone doing it for you”, this is very short-sighted and many seem to have this short-sightedness, this is the beginning, not the end.I do agree that it is simple but there is more to it than some seem to imply and I most definitely includes some of those that chose themself to speak in these matters.You also wrote, “(equivilant to spiriual sleep rather than spiritual death)-”There is most definitely a difference between spiritual sleep, which seems to be a condition that we are born into as human beings and spiritual death, which is what some will enter upon physical death but Jesus, God-Incarnate, won the keys to both hell and spiritual death and in due time, God’s Time, these “keys” shall be put to use.I know that at least one person has experienced both hell and spiritual death while still living, if there have been others, I do not know.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    ttwsyf xxx”Since all knowledge comes from God, who is Omniscient and Prescient, knowing the frailties of human intelligence and its subjugation to error, God informs man of His Natural Moral Laws through His Church of which He guards from error in its teachings and dogmatic beliefs.”This is your opionion which you state as a given truth. Why do you assume it is true? What is the reason? And why do you expect other people to take it as true, merely because you say it is?Your posts are tortured arguments for the Catholic Church. If you could ever give an explanation in a more straight-forward, thoughtful way, it would be a little easier to take you more seriously.As your posts now persist, I cannot help wondering that there may be something seriously wrong with you.

  • ThomasBaum

    persiflage Part IIIYou wrote, “One can determine for oneself which theological or philosophical framework will produce the desired results in the here and now”Really? Seems as if many have used many different “theological or philosophical frameworks” to produce “desired results” and did not even come close to the “desired results” that they were seeking.You then wrote, “I’m particularly skeptical of some glorious future in a divine paradise, or even in a greatly improved material world.”It can be good to be “skeptical” and it can be even better to be “skepticaler” of people’s versions of just what “divine paradise” is and just what constitutes “a greatly improved material world”.You then wrote, “I’ve said before that religion is largely futuristic, and for me, this is one of it’s biggest detractions.”If one believes that “religion” is only about the “future” and not the “here and now” than why did God give us a “here and now”?, this is what I would like to ask of those that believe the “here and now” is not important.You then wrote, “Religion is primarily mythological and allegorical, if those terms are to be preferred over fantasy.”Personally, I would not say “primarily” but I would say that “mythological and allegorical” and other ways, including literal, are employed to speak of that which language is not adequate to fully convey, even the “mythological and allegorical and other ways” comes up short in this aspect.You then asked, “PS. I don’t believe anyone can predict the future of mankind. Have you met anyone that does believe this, other than yourself??”Predicting the future to me, would be to “predict” specific concrete things in the future and this is not what I am or have been saying.If you mean me saying that God has a Plan and has had a Plan…, and you think of this as “predicting the future” fine but I don’t.Rather than “predicting”, it is more like I am “announcing” to the world, ahead of time.I am not sure if I have met anyone that wants God to win Total Victory, but I have met quite a few that want for themself and maybe their “loved ones” to go to the “good place”.It seems as if some do not realize that everyone is someone’s loved one.Hope you’re doing well.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • ThomasBaum

    persiflage Part IIYou also wrote, “The doctrinal beliefs of Catholicism are also something I also know quite well – I believe they are largely based on myths that have been in many cases purloined from other and earlier religions.”You probably know “doctrinal beliefs” better than I do, the same as there are others that know the bible better than me but I happen to “know” that God Is Love and Is a Trinity and a few other things and this is the “lens”, so to speak, that I view things thru.You then wrote, “Supernatural events are not possible in a natural world – but that’s just me (also this insight was the probable cause of the end of my Catholicism before the age of 18).”I could be wrong but I think that you do not believe in the “Supernatural” so of course you would believe that “Supernatural events are not possible in a natural world” but there is absolutely no reason for me to believe that, but I will say something here and that is God can and does use “natural events” to communicate.It was around the same age that I stopped going to Church and didn’t go except for short periods and things like weddings and funerals for about 30 years and looking back on it, I don’t think that God wanted me in Church, for a number of reasons, two of which are: 1. There were things I needed to learn out in the world and 2. It was becoming just a “religion”.You then wrote, “In my view, any kind of declared absolutism based on either personal beliefs or personal experience should be guarded against most diligently.”Do you place “other people’s experiences” as what should help you live your life or your own experiences?Do you think that “other people’s beliefs” should be the basis of your life or your “own beliefs”?You also wrote, ” With monotheism, salvation is always in the future, and always via the intercession of a deity.”Seems to me that we may look at “salvation” in a different manner, maybe,maybe not, but I look at “salvation” as being part of God’s Plan which is unfolding before our eyes and is ultimately not only for ALL OF HUMANITY but also for ALL OF CREATION.In some ways, I guess one could say that I do not believe that salvation comes about “via the intercession of a deity” but by the unfolding of a Plan which God has had since before creation, in other words “salvation” is not something “tacked on”.You then wrote, “I really don’t believe in the future, except in a very relativistic kind of way.”Actually, the future becomes the past before we even realize that it is the present.

  • ThomasBaum

    persiflage Part I You wrote, “Biased, probably. But certainly no more so than prominent Catholics here that insist on their own brand of truth….in fact, an insistence verging on a kind of absolutism.”Actually, I think that you a little bit too easy on the “fact” that there are some Catholics that think/believe that if one is not a Catholic and follow the “religion” to the “letter of the law” than one does not have a “snowball’s chance”, so to speak.You then wrote, “Having been raised a Catholic, I understand very well that practicing Catholics typically do not give other religions equal weight, not by any measure.”But not all “practicing” Catholics are typical, are they?There are some “practicing” Catholics that do not even look at “Catholicism” as a “religion”, at least I think so but I do know that there is at least one.You then wrote, “If one digs deep enough, one will discover that deeply instilled Catholic superiority and absolutism almost without fail.”And if one “digs a little deeper”, so to speak, one may find that buried within the Catholic “religion”, one may find a “Catholic Faith” that is catholic, notice the small c.You also wrote, “Catholics, among other devoutly pious religious practitioners, just need to be aware of why they may be viewed by non-religious folk with some suspicion and considerable skepticism.”I can not speak for others but I am quite aware that I am looked upon not with just “some suspicion and considerable skepticism” but as a total goofball, to put it in polite terms, but haven’t most, if not all, of God’s messengers been looked at that way?One thing that I point out here is that, irregardless of whether or not one believes in what is written in the bible, God’s messengers, mentioned in the bible, were not looked upon very nicely, at least while they were still living.Some, while spoken of highly now by some people, were not by their contemporaries.

  • persiflage

    ‘I am not sure if I have met anyone that wants God to win Total Victory, but I have met quite a few that want for themself and maybe their “loved ones” to go to the “good place”.’Since our (imagined) perceptions of an afterlife beyond our physical life is thoroughly conditioned by religious exposure, I think it’s pointless to engage in conjecture about this possible fate….and it is a possible fate in my mind. My extensive reading on the subject has left me with unformed opinions. The best way to live is to actively avoid harmfulness to other life forms (ahimsa in the Hindu philosophy). I personally feel better if I’m able to abide by this axiom consistently. The Golden Rule or The Great Law has an ancient history that preceeds the gospel of Matthew by many centuries. The ancients knew something that modern man has seemingly forgotten.Life is now, and death immediately follows without warning….the other Great Law. How we live now will determine how we live after death, should there be such a time in our future. Of course there are many that deny this possibility, but I am not one of those……in a way, we should still live as though there is no tomorrow. That’s just realistic, in my view.The origins of life will remain a mystery for a very long time, in my view. I wonder what other advanced life forms throughout the universe know about these matters! And surely there are many higher intelligences in this vast and perhaps infinite cosmos. Humans are at a point where the advances in knowledge within 50-100 years will make our current beliefs (scientific and otherwise) seem childlike….in that spirit, I don’t find that having set beliefs is any real advantage, so I don’t propose to have any. best wishes, Persiflage

  • mrbradwii

    Consulting the internet before using that large gelatinous tool perched atop your neck to build a working model of reality is tantamount trusting arguments from authority. Might as well just read the bible, or the quran or the talmud.HOWEVER–Access to data, vetted, and attributed quotations and writing excerpts is important. All debaters prepare notes, anticipate arguments and come “armed” to do intellectual battle. For us, fat, stupid, and lazy knuckledraggers, the internet offers a great way changing a conversation like “remember that one book by that one guy from canada about a guy who was a doctor and had a plethora of diverse friends” to “remember in Cunning Man, by Robertson Davies the unusual ways the doctor had of examining his patients and the strange group of friends he had, from the gay catholic to the ….”Information is a tool, the using of tools to build models, conversations, arguments is still the domain of structured study.This is what TTWSYF usually means when he says you don’t understand something… you cannot use terms defined by sources that you haven’t studied. Unfortunately, that seems to be his preferred method of presenting himself, so it is impossible to debate him, for those of us who live a world suffused by a completely common and vulgar way of self-expression. Pity.

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