Richard Dawkins on David Berlinski

DawkinsBerlinski

manicstreetpreacher presents the damning verdict on a pseudo-intellectual by a genuine one.

Further to my recent series of posts on the Intelligent Design creationist propaganda piece Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, Mike Godfrey over at God3’s Blog quotes one of the film’s participants, David Berlinski.  In his response to the New Atheism, The Devil’s Delusion, Berlinski, a supposedly secular Jew, writes on the crimes of so-called atheist totalitarianisms in the 20th century:

Dawkins is prepared to acknowledge the facts while denying their significance.  Neither the Nazis nor the Communists, he affirms, acted because of their atheism. They were simply keen to kill a great many people. Atheism had nothing to do with it.  They might well have been Christian Scientists.

In the early days of the German advance into Eastern Europe, before the possibility of Soviet retribution even entered their untroubled imagination, Nazi extermination squads would sweep into villages, and after forcing the villagers to dig their own graves, murder their victims with machine guns.  On one such occasion somewhere in Eastern Europe, an SS officer watched languidly, his machine gun cradled, as an elderly and bearded Hasidic Jew laboriously dug what he knew to be his grave.

Standing up straight, he addressed his executioner.  “God is watching what you are doing,” he said.

And then he was shot dead.

What Hitler did not believe and what Stalin did not believe and what Mao did not believe and what the SS did not believe and what the Gestapo did not believe and what the NKVD did not believe and what the commissars, functionaries, swaggering executioners, Nazi doctors, Communist Party theoreticians, intellectuals, Brown Shirts, Black Shirts, gauleiters, and a thousand party hacks did not believe was that God was watching what they were doing.

And as far as we can tell, very few of those carrying out the horrors of the twentieth century worried overmuch that God was watching what they were doing either.

That is, after all, the meaning of a secular society.

I can only assume that Berlinski had forgotten about the events of September 11, 2001 when he was writing this passage.  This was an outrage carried out by people who were thinking only too much of what heaven would think of them.  Hopefully, the more recent events on the Moscow tube will jog his memory.

Appealing to authority and credential inflation are common tactics of creationists and Intelligent Design proponents.  Expelled’s host, Ben Stein, went to great lengths to hold out Berlinski as an example of a smart guy who believed in Intelligent Design in order to give it some credibility.  However, all Berlinski succeeded in doing was to be a particularly obnoxious and unlikeable character, saying that Richard Dawkins is “a crummy philosopher” and “a little bit of a reptile”.

In an article reminiscing on an infamous book review for The New York Times in 1989 where he wrote, “It is absolutely safe to say that if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid or insane (or wicked, but I’d rather not consider that),” Dawkins had this to say about Berlinski:

Are there, then, any examples of anti-evolution poseurs who are not ignorant, stupid or insane, and who might be genuine candidates for the wicked category?  I once shared a platform with someone called David Berlinski, who is certainly not ignorant, stupid or insane.  He denies that he is a creationist, but claims strong scientific arguments against evolution (which disappointingly turn out to be the same old creationist arguments).  Together with the great John Maynard Smith and others, he and I were guest speakers at a debate organized by a prominent Oxford rabbi.  Maynard Smith spoke after Berlinski and, not surprisingly, he soon had the audience roaring with laughter as he lampooned Berlinski’s bad arguments.  But what amused me was Berlinski’s tactic for dealing with this mocking laughter.  He sprang to his feet, held up a reproachful open palm towards the audience, and said (approximately of course, I can’t remember the exact words): “No no!  Don’t laugh.  Let Maynard Smith have his say!  It’s only fair!”  Happily, the Oxford audience saw through this tactic of pretending to think the audience were laughing at Maynard Smith rather than with him.  And the rabbi, himself a devout creationist, afterwards told me he had been shocked at Berlinski’s duplicity.  By itself, this is too trivial an example to deserve the name wicked.  But it did make me wonder about Berlinski’s motives.  As I said, he is certainly not ignorant, stupid or insane.

After witnessing his performance in Expelled, Dawkins’ assessment of Berlinski is borne out all too well.

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117 Responses to “Richard Dawkins on David Berlinski”

  1. Stuart Says:

    Conclusion: With or without God, folks do shit things….

  2. PaulJ Says:

    Apropos of Berlinski’s sincerity, I assume you’re aware of this quote from a blog (“Goosing the Antithesis“) that was linked from RD.net in November 2008. Zachary Moore attended an event at which both Lawrence Krauss and David Berlinski spoke, and he relates the following learned from someone who mingled with the speakers during a break:

    Upon drawing close, he heard Krauss ask Berlinski why he wasted his intellect advocating for intelligent design. To which Berlinski replied that he doesn’t believe a word of it, but is happy to cash the checks the Discovery Institute writes him. Strangely enough, this would be consistent with Berlinski’s odd statement early on in which he admitted that his own ethical orientation was focused on living as contentedly and as selfishly as possible.

    This is of course anecdotal — overheard comments reported by a non-attributed source — but having seen Berlinski’s disreputable performance in Expelled I wouldn’t be surprised if it were true. (It’s interesting also that it was this same quote that Richard Dawkins himself picked up on.)

  3. Martin Says:

    The ID movement centered around the Discovery Institute (and friends) is creationism in disguise, and scientifically vacuous.

    However, here’s some food for thought for you. Some atheists reject the contention that “supernatural” means “untestable,” as was found in the Dover trial. Richard Carrier offers a long (but good) article on defining the supernatural. Essentially he says that if something is supernatural (for instance, Harry Potter’s magic wand) then we could indeed test it like anything else. Indeed, James Randi has a whole organization devoted to just that.

    So I do think there is room for philosophical debate on what science can and can’t touch, and I do think that ID can be a hypothesis in principle. It’s just that they waste their energy attacking evolution and trying to link it to Hitler rather than doing anything that might be productive.

  4. Hansen Says:

    And as far as we can tell, very few of those carrying out the horrors of the twentieth century worried overmuch that God was watching what they were doing either.

    That is, after all, the meaning of a secular society.

    Say what? Yet another attempt at redefining the word “secular” and trying to make it into something scary. You can have a secular society in which every single person is a strong believer – at least in principle.

  5. Stuart Says:

    @Hansen said – You can have a secular society in which every single person is a strong believer– at least in principle.

    Well said! This is so often overlooked. There are some of us who have a heartfelt belief system, that do not want to live under a man-instituted theonomy of any religion or denomination.

    As in any community we have our moronic extremists and I don’t want them getting their hands on the reigns of power of any institution frankly. Society should be run as best as poss for the benefit of all, not just a privileged religious sub set.

    In fact I go as far as to oppose the notion within my community, often:

    This paper is a brief overview of the three main dominionist movements operating inside evangelicaldom and examines how all three of these sects are now converging around a global “kingdom” agenda.

  6. manicstreetpreacher Says:

    Thanks for your comments, guys!

    Martin – Vic Stenger has criticised Judge Jones’ decision in Dover in that he said that science could not say anything at all about the supernatural. Plenty of scientists have tried to investigate supernatural forces (psycho kinesis, telekinesis) in the lab and have discovered them to be non-existent.

    PaulJ – I noticed on the article’s thread at RD.net Dawkins himself posted the first comment saying that his views on Berlinski expressed in the article I linked in the main post seem to have been vindicated.

    MSP

  7. Steven Carr Says:

    ‘What Hitler did not believe and what Stalin did not believe and what Mao did not believe and what the SS did not believe and what the Gestapo did not believe and what the NKVD did not believe and what the commissars, functionaries, swaggering executioners, Nazi doctors, Communist Party theoreticians, intellectuals, Brown Shirts, Black Shirts, gauleiters, and a thousand party hacks did not believe was that God was watching what they were doing…..’

    God was too busy watching priests rape boys.

    God can’t watch everything, you know. He has to choose his viewing selectively.

    You know what it’s like. You flick through channels on your remote control, looking for something good to watch, and you come across the Catholic Channel, where you can see priests sodomising altar-boys.

    Why should God watch people dig their own graves when the alternative viewing for him was much more interesting?

    • pearly48 Says:

      This argument follows like a elementary school argument. There is a problem of evil in the world, anyone who attempts to explain why must be without human frailty existent within it’s world view. You sir can therefore have no credible opinion either. The record of unbelief is riddled with horror as well.

      • manicstreetpreacher Says:

        Thank you for your comment, pearly48

        I have given fuller thoughts on the appalling branch of theological “thought” known as “theodicy” in this post.

        Since publishing that post, and upon further consideration of, for example, William Lane Craig’s explanation of evil, I have realised that if Berlinski is right in saying that God was watching what all those nasty SS officers etc. were doing but sat idly by and did nothing then he must have had a higher purpose in creating the wrong-doers, instilling them with the “free will” to carry out their appalling acts and in allowing them to go through with it by not intervening directly.

        Ergo, the acts of evil-doers in this World are never really wrong “on theism”, but they are simply agents for God’s will.

        And as Hitchens (God rest his immortal soul) would say, “You’re perfectly free to believe that if you wish…”

        MSP

  8. Steven Carr Says:

    And if you think what Hitler did to the Jews was bad, just wait until Jesus gets through with them after they rejected him.

    There will be Hell to pay!

  9. Stuart Says:

    Steven, what are you trying to say…..

    Only joking.

    You are to the blunt point as usual I see :)

  10. Edmund Standing Says:

    What Hitler did not believe …. was that God was watching what they were doing…

    Mein Kampf, Chapter Two:

    ‘And so I believe today that my conduct is in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator. In standing guard against the Jew I am defending the handiwork of the Lord’.

    what the SS did not believe … was that God was watching what they were doing…

    See the SS belt buckle with ‘Gott Mit Uns’ (‘God [is] with us’) slogan here.

  11. Stuart Says:

    Oh wow Edmund! Well I’ll be!

  12. tony d Says:

    Well, I read Berlinski’s “Devil’s Delusion.”

    Many interesting arguments were raised. I admit that I found it challenging, and I didn’t appreciate the anti-evolution stuff at the end, nor discovery institute association of the author, but you cannot resort to smear campaigns as a logical rebuttal. The point of the chapter was to address Dawkin’s “imagine” parody in TGD. This I have to admit he achieved. Dawkin’s is erronous in blaming the ills of society on religion. The ills of society do not need religous philosophy to murder, rape, pillage …

    Attacking a man’s argument because he is being paid, is a believer or even a liar is a poor rebuttal. You might as well rebutt dawkins’ argument on thye basis that he is an athiest!

    • manicstreetpreacher Says:

      Where exactly in The God Delusion does Dawkins write that without religion there would be no rape, murder and theft?

      In fact, Dawkins heavily opposed the title to his accompanying documentary, Root of All Evil? since no one thing can be said to be the root of all anything. The producers compromised by inserting the question mark.

      I think rebutting someone on the basis that he is being paid to tell lies is an excellent tactic. I think it was Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes who said, “A hold over a man’s subsistence amounts to a hold over his will.”

      My point was that Stein and the Discovery Institute hold out Berlinski as a smart guy who believes in ID. Such appeals to authority are utterly specious. Isaac Newton was a pretty smart guy and he believed in alchemy!

      But if Berlinski is being paid to promote something he doesn’t believe in, that pretty much destroys his credibility.

  13. Phillip Jones Says:

    First off Hitler was not an atheist. He spoke out against atheism several times and shut down all atheist groups in germany. In contrast he praised christianity constantly. He and his nazi cohorts were very concerned that god was watching their actions. secondly secular means seperating god from government and other public outlets. For berlinski to equate it with atheism and atheistic atrocities is dishonest and bigoted.

  14. Michael Says:

    But Dawkins is a crummy philosopher, as well as a bit of a reptile. What’s your point?

  15. JSL Says:

    Manic,

    While 9-11 is an undeniable atrocity, and religiously motivated, you aren’t seriously going to compare it with the Holocaust, the Killing Fields, or any number of the 20th century’s other atheistically inspired democidal bloodlettings are you? I mean, seriously. Come on. A few thousand to tens of millions? That is insane. A few religious rogue terrorists to murderous atheistic regimes, unrestricted and unfettered in their psychopathic internal policy because of national sovereignty? There is no comparison there at all. That is like saying grandmothers are as bad as wars because an old lady ran over a couple of joggers.

    You might benefit by looking at this matter objectively, outside the religious arguments. I do believe it was University of Hawaii political scientist R.J. Rummell who did the primary research on this (political science is my background, so I am relatively certain, but not positive). He had no religious dog in the fight. His research was strictly tied to an investigation of this specific avenue of the social sciences.

    Anyway…he coined this phrase: “democide.” The killing of civilians by their own governments, primarily for political and religious dissent. He said that oppressive atheistic regimes killed more of their own people during peacetime than all the wars of religion across the entire span of human history combined. His conclusion was that the atheistic mindset of oppressive communistic regimes made it the most dangerous and deadly philosophy the world has ever spawned.

    Berlinski’s argument is not a religious one. It is the conclusion of a secular social scientist.

    • manicstreetpreacher Says:

      JSL

      The death toll is important, but it is not the be all and end all. These supposedly “secular” regimes had access to modern technology which gave them the means to kill quickly en mass.

      What damage would the 19 hijackers have wrought if they had access to nuclear weaponry? We may well find out soon enough if the current president of Iran gets his way.

      The question is not whether individual atheist or believers do bad things, but whether their beliefs – or lack thereof – systematically influence them to do bad things.

      There is no evidence that simply rejecting the idea of a personal supernatural creator, the truth and verity of any one of our holy books or the prospect of eternal reward or torment in the afterlife will influence an otherwise sane or rational person to commit evils deeds. The same cannot be said for a person who does accept dogmatic religious ideas.

      And the so-called “atheistic” regimes of Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot were not bastions of secular reasoning. In fact, they were almost like religions unto themselves with the forced acceptance of presupposed dogma, leader worship and appalling punishment for thought crime.

      Are you seriously arguing that the gulags and the Killing Fields were the logical results of when a society becomes too reasonable, when people talk to each other too much and pursue an excessive level of sceptical enquiry?

      But if you want to do some kind of body-count balance sheet, I am digging you, I really am.

      For your consideration:

      1. The Christian Crusades: 3 million.

      2. The Muslim Ottoman Empire: 70 million throughout the centuries, including 2 million in the Armenian Genocide 1915 – 1923.

      3. The conquest of the South American indigenous people by Catholic Spanish and Portuguese invaders (“the Conquistadors”) with the full and open support of the Vatican who were, according to Pope Ratzinger “silently longing for the arrival of Christianity”: 100 million plus.

      4. Russian Imperialist Christian Orthodox Tsarism: untold millions who were murdered by the secret police, starved to death and died of general neglect, not to mention the untold misery and suffering visited on the Jews as a result of the secret police’s fabrication of The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion which alleged a Jewish conspiracy for world domination. A certain mad, supposedly atheist, Bohemian corporal was a big fan.

      Of course those are very loose estimates. It was before we bothered to dig up the mass graves or erect genocide memorial museums.

      In more recent times between 800,000 and 1 million perished at the blades of machetes in the Rwandan Genocide between Christian Hutus and Tutsis. Many priests and nuns are on trial for war crimes for inciting and/or taking part in the violence.

      The historical record clearly shows that Berlinski’s childish argument that humans will not engage in mass murder when they think that the creator of the universe is watching their every move is wrong.

      MSP

      • pbasch Says:

        Well put. I agree that Nazi Germany was emphatically not an atheistic regime. Religion was not discouraged, though religious leaders were expected to have the state as their primary allegiance. I’m no historian, but did have relatives (father and his parents) who lived in Germany until 1933. Germans at the time were loyal Catholics and Protestants, and felt that their religion supported their racist ideology. I also agree with you that Nazi Germany, like Stalinist Communist Russia, featured “forced acceptance of presupposed dogma.” In the Nazi case, the ideology of racial superiority, and in the Russian Communist case, the ideology of the New Communist Man. In both German and Russian cases, scientists (e.g., Lysenko) were recruited to lend scientific-sounding support to these claims, and scientists who argued were purged. These ideologies may not have involved a god, they were non-theistic, but they were, nevertheless, non-evidence-based, and thus required violence to maintain, since argument did not support them.

  16. Yes-man Says:

    Dawkins is Darwin’s poodle. Belinkski has given more objectivity to the theory in one interview than a yes-man could possibly grant it in an entire existence of blindly peddling it as some sort of pseudoscientific deity replacement. Berlinski should be thanked for his inquiry rather than being labeled “wicked” which only perpetuates the “fascist” implications even further. Are we doing science or Nuremberg rallies? He’s about as ‘wicked’ as Darwin was when he first thought, “hang on, I may have a few contentions to this popularized model myself”. But we overlook these things due to team colors and confirmation bias.

  17. Just the Facts Says:

    While all the emotion and descriptive language makes for interesting or offensive reading, it can not and does not change the facts. If we push aside all the emotion, all the insults, all the character attacks, all the credibility attacks and look for the facts, what do we find?

    In his book “The Deniable Darwin” Berlinski identifies a lot of issues the “theory” of evolution has not addressed and overcome to find the necessary supporting facts and become an actual and viable theory to qualify entering into the realm of fact and truth.

    At this late stage in its life the “theory” of evolution is still pathetically little more than a hypothesis that has been kicked around for over 100 years. Here are a few of Berlinski’s observations from an article All Those Darwinian Doubts:

    “Look — The suggestion that Darwin’s theory of evolution is like theories in the serious sciences — quantum electrodynamics, say — is grotesque. Quantum electrodynamics is accurate to thirteen unyielding decimal places. Darwin’s theory makes no tight quantitative predictions at all.

    “Look — Field studies attempting to measure natural selection inevitably report weak to non-existent selection effects.

    “Look — Darwin’s theory is open at one end since there are no plausible account for the origins of life.

    “Look — The astonishing and irreducible complexity of various cellular structures has not yet successfully been described, let alone explained.

    “Look — A great many species enter the fossil record trailing no obvious ancestors and depart for Valhalla leaving no obvious descendents.

    “Look — Where attempts to replicate Darwinian evolution on the computer have been successful, they have not used classical Darwinian principles, and where they have used such principles, they have not been successful.

    “Look — Tens of thousands of fruit flies have come and gone in laboratory experiments, and every last one of them has remained a fruit fly to the end, all efforts to see the miracle of speciation unavailing.

    “Look — The remarkable similarity in the genome of a great many organisms suggests that there is at bottom only one living system; but how then to account for the astonishing differences between human beings and their near relatives — differences that remain obvious to anyone who has visited a zoo?”

    Berlinski identifies more specific issues for scientists to address in his book “The Deniable Darwin”.

    It appears the “theory” of evolution is closer to a religion than a science, for it takes faith to believe a theory lacking a foundation of facts. A noted characteristic of devotees is their being dogmatic to the point of not being open minded enough to be led by the scientific method of observation, hypothesis, predict, testing, and corroboration. They have a strange tendency to skew any results to support their initial view that “God does not exist” instead of letting their work lead them to its inherent conclusion.

    Regarding Berlinski’s motives, he is not asking anyone to believe in God, rather he is quite clear in the book he wants the “theory” of evolution to undergo surgery to become a healthy, viable, actual scientific theory rather than the pseudo-scientific dogmatic religion it currently is. He wants scientists to face up to and tackle the many issues and get cracking on solving them.

    I found nothing in the book indicating Berlinski wants to believe in God, and in fact he made sure to establish in several places that he does not. He did make it seem the scientists are aware of most if not all of the issues and are either hiding them away, from public view and their own, or running into brick walls because their basic hypothesis is simply not working.

    Having read “The Deniable Darwin” I do find myself partly in Berlinski’s boat. The unwieldy name of the boat is “I wish there was a viable explanation for everything that did not require God; hurry up scientists, focus on the problems and produce it”. However I am, almost entirely, in another boat, named “On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.”

    Jesus claimed to be God and that He is the only way to heaven. Was He a liar, lunatic, or telling the truth? His close followers, mostly straightforward and smart men, believed He was telling the truth to the point of being tortured to death for their beliefs. I would not withstand being tortured to death for merely a liar or lunatic. That should give us pause and reason to consider Jesus’ claims.

    Oh, and if the scientists were able to provide a viable theory of evolution and sail that boat to heaven, they would find there is no heaven, no basis for morals or ethics, and no meaning in, of, or for our lives. I would thank them for their success with the ultimate quid pro quo of a torturous death, for there would be no reason not to, no reason to restrain myself.

    Fortunately for everyone, Jesus restrains me and re-trains my heart to kindness and compassion. And that is what I have for people who believe the “theory” of evolution: compassion. You know not what you do. You are ignoring the inviting cry of the Creator, “Come to Me all who are burdened and I will give you rest.”

    What do the facts support? When I set aside all emotion and desire of what I might want my universe to look like and look at what is actually there, I see my Creator smiling at me and inviting me to follow Him. How rude to ignore and deny Him. And eternally costly. Are you going to miss eternity in heaven and spend eternity in hell because of a faulty theory? Eternal peace vs eternal torment; that seems like an easy choice to me. Why are so many choosing eternal torment? Because they do not want to be accountable to God? He wants to make each of us into the best we can be and if we say yes He rewards us with peace now and for eternity. Why miss out on that?

  18. manicstreetpreacher Says:

    Berlinski’s “objections” to evolution can be found on any Young Earth website and refuted just as easily on websites like http://www.talkorigins.org.

    But even if Berlinski is right and Darwin is wrong how is that evidence for a designer, divine or otherwise?

    At least science is trying to find the answers, even though scientists know that they will never be able to answer them all. How is ID theory helping in the fight against cancer, for example?

    It appears the “theory” of evolution is closer to a religion than a science, for it takes faith to believe a theory lacking a foundation of facts.

    Wrong:

    [S]cience keeps its playing field level by the rather admirable system of anonymous peer-review. If you have evidence that evolution is false, you are entirely at liberty to submit a paper to the Editor of Nature, or Science, or the Journal of Theoretical Biology, or the American Naturalist, or Biological Reviews, or the Quarterly Review of Biology, or any of hundreds of other reputable journals in which ordinary working scientists publish their research. Do not fear that Editors will reject it simply because it opposes evolution. On the contrary, the journal that published a paper which really did discover a fallacy in evolution, or convincing evidence against it, would have the scoop of the century, in scientific terms. Editors would kill to get their hands on it

    Regarding Berlinski’s motives, he is not asking anyone to believe in God

    Sorry if this sounds like another ad hom, but according to the witness of his and Krauss’ conversation a few years ago, it’s because he likes the fat cheques The Discovery Institute keeps writing him.

    he is quite clear in the book he wants the “theory” of evolution to undergo surgery to become a healthy, viable, actual scientific theory rather than the pseudo-scientific dogmatic religion it currently is.

    Many of these calls for a re-examination of Darwinism are actually rather mild expressions of scepticism, always a reasonable scientific attitude, and a gratuitous call for careful examination of the evidence of Darwin’s theory.

    However, they are quite unnecessary because this has been the rule in evolution science since Darwin’s voyage on the Beagle. Indeed, Darwin’s work still serves as an exemplar of the best in empirical and theoretical science, and is one of the most strenuously tested.

    “On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.”

    How on Earth did we get from biology to evangelising?

    I take it ID does have religious connotations, even if Berlinski doesn’t always shout about it?

    Was He a liar, lunatic, or telling the truth?

    There are a number of other options. Maybe he was just a legend?

    His close followers, mostly straightforward and smart men, believed He was telling the truth to the point of being tortured to death for their beliefs

    If there is any evidence within the original NT manuscripts that the disciples did actually die for their faith, I have not seen it.

    Oh, and if the scientists were able to provide a viable theory of evolution and sail that boat to heaven, they would find there is no heaven, no basis for morals or ethics, and no meaning

    Sam Harris’ “diamond the size of a refrigerator buried in your back yard” gambit puts paid to the notion that theism provides any of these things either.

    Are you going to miss eternity in heaven and spend eternity in hell because of a faulty theory?

    So you go to hell for believing in evolution? Richard Harries, the former Bishop of Oxford might disagree with you there.

    He wants to make each of us into the best we can be and if we say yes He rewards us with peace now and for eternity. Why miss out on that?

    To paraphrase Mark Twain, I never could bear sitting in church for an hour on Christmas and Easter Day when I was too young to object to their attempts indoctrinate me. Living somewhere very similar to it for an eternity makes burning in Satan’s cookhouse an attractive proposition.

  19. Lorem Says:

    “..I can only assume that Berlinski had forgotten about the events of September 11..”

    It is a common misconception that any persons or group flying the banner of religion, makes them religious. This perception of the world and all that is in it goes no deeper than labels.

    • pbasch Says:

      Well, okay… but we can’t know a person’s heart. We can only know their claims and actions. I think, if they fly under a banner, I say give them the benefit of the doubt. Your reasoning leads to the peculiar notion that there can be no evil religious person, because, if they do evil things, regardless of their Sunday habits and claimed affiliation, they can not be religious. In other words, you would say that one can only know if a person is truly pious after the fact. That is circular, since the conclusion, “that person is pious,” depends on the claim you’re trying to prove, “pious people do good things.”

  20. Carmine Fragione Says:

    The Scientific Method is an approach to understanding Nature, but Science is not Nature. Religion is an approach to understanding God, but Religion is not God. And when it comes to the Free Marketplace of ideas, if people want a V-8 and you say Science says you should have a four cylinder to save the planet, people will say take your planet and go to hell, I want a V- 8 And so, people are not being forced to believe in God, they prefer to, and that is what the Atheists cannot believe. That it is actually the Naturalistic outcome of man to believe in God and have Religion. It is not normal to be an Atheist.

    • pbasch Says:

      A) I think you’re absolutely right, and B) I think you’re arguing a claim nobody is making. I guess that makes it a straw man argument. Even the stoniest Atheist believes that it is perfectly natural to believe in some kind of god, that it confers evolutionary advantage – perhaps by allowing coordination among larger groups than the immediate clan. While I think there have been many people ‘forced’ to exhibit religious behavior, under the threat of social opprobrium, I guess most people actually do believe it, whether they buy every tenet of their religion or not. My admittedly anecdotal experience is that a lot of people don’t believe in “organized” religion, but are still theists; I knew a very wonderful Catholic lady who believed it all, except she thought I would be exempt from the whole “Jews burn in hell” thing. You can call that cafeteria Catholicism, if you like, but I was always grateful for her good wishes (even though I doubt there is any kind of afterlife).

  21. PaulJ Says:

    Just because humans have evolved to believe in gods, that says nothing about whether gods exist. As for “preferring” to believe, personally I follow the evidence — my preference is entirely beside the point. (That, incidentally, is why Pascal’s Wager is such a crock.)

  22. Man in the Mirror Says:

    I love the open minded invidual. Unfortunately, they are hard to find as evidenced in many of the replies above. I’m a natural born skeptic and I still remain so, until it is confirmed to me. Then I am committed to an idea until it can be definitely proven otherwise. I thought that was an open mind. So, here is the result of my ‘research’. Studies have shown that 95% of the world believe in deity of some sort. So, to believe Dawkins and his supporter about 95% of the world’s population at any one time are ignorant, stupid or insane (or wicked)? Sometimes it seems many atheists would like to abort or destroy this group of ‘believers’. But if that were done, then it seems to me we are merely eliminating 95% of the world’s great thinkers, not the ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked. That includes people such as Isaac Newton, William Shakespeare, Abraham Lincoln, Francis Bacon, Robert Boyle, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, etc. – the list goes on and on. But if you had a truly open mind you would have not made those ridiculously foolish arguments against non-atheism. Now, 95% does not prove an idea is right or wrong, but it does imply at least one of two possibilities: 1) it is not unreasonable to believe in deity or 2) man is not evolving toward a better person because the religious seem to have so many of the smart ones. Sorry to sound insulting but it seems to be the preferred method in this blog.

    • manicstreetpreacher Says:

      Studies have shown that 95% of the world believe in deity of some sort.

      Are these the same kind of “studies” that William Lane Craig likes to quote without actually citing the source in order to sound authoritative to his gullible Christian audiences?

      It’s not all that long ago that a similar proportion of the World’s population thought that disease and earthquakes were the deity’s punishment for sin. Now, thanks to modern science we have the true miracles of seismology and germ theory.

      So, to believe Dawkins and his supporter about 95% of the world’s population at any one time are ignorant, stupid or insane (or wicked)?

      Are you sure you’re skeptical? You’ve just demonstrated a classic trait of the dishonest apologist: twisting atheists’ words around.

      Dawkins never said that all believers were ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked. He said that people who do not accept evolution are ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked.

      Sometimes it seems many atheists would like to abort or destroy this group of ‘believers’.

      More distortion and misrepresentation. The New Atheists are only out to destroy the ideas of religion, not to promote a state sponsored eugenics program on the religious.

      But if that were done, then it seems to me we are merely eliminating 95% of the world’s great thinkers, not the ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked. That includes people such as Isaac Newton, William Shakespeare, Abraham Lincoln, Francis Bacon, Robert Boyle, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, etc. – the list goes on and on.

      The usual suspects that creationists like to trot out. Most of those people lived at a time when it was a very risky business to pronounce anything other than devote faith, or were not alive far enough past the enlightenment when religious ideas had been removed from science.

      There are strong arguments that Lincoln and King were not really religious but adopted the language of scripture to inspire their followers.

      But you’re welcome to Gandhi. He was racist against black South Africans and wanted India to revert to a spinning wheel society after the British left, which would almost certainly have resulted in the deaths of millions

      But if you had a truly open mind you would have not made those ridiculously foolish arguments against non-atheism.

      “Non-atheism”?! Atheism is effectively “non-theism”.

      Judging by that last appalling double-negative and your post being littered with typos generally, you really could use some lessons in Basic English grammar.

      Now, 95% does not prove an idea is right or wrong

      Finally, you’ve said something with which I agree. What comes next is a real pity, however.

      but it does imply at least one of two possibilities: 1) it is not unreasonable to believe in deity or 2) man is not evolving toward a better person because the religious seem to have so many of the smart ones.

      1) Wrong. I refer you to my previous comments about earthquakes, sin and seismology.

      2) Increasing numbers of people believe in “alternative” medicine such as reiki. Personally, if I was diagnosed with cancer I would stick to the chemo.

      Do we still feel smarter?

      Sorry to sound insulting but it seems to be the preferred method in this blog.

      No apologies required. Ridicule and satire are important tools in rhetoric. Shame that you are so bad at them, Mirror Man.

      • Menezes Says:

        Your rebbutals are very good. I wish I could express my ideas so easily. Congrats.

  23. Murray Says:

    Just to approach your first paragraph alone – you do make some huge leaps of your own “faith”. That Christians are “gullible” is the obvious inference, some surely are, some are not. I used to be a non-believer until I was persuaded by a very smart English law graduate who himself had argued himself out of atheism. I can look back on my 40 odd years of non-belief as self delusion based on having never examined the actual facts surrounding the Christian Bible. Aided and abetted by a contemporary world view that says we don’t need “religion”, it only causes every war in human history. Sigh.

    The number of eminent scientists who strongly disagree that Darwin answered the big questions of life on earth and threw open the door for scientists to answer everything on it’s own, doesn’t mean the argument against macro-evolution is true. But it sure carries plenty of credibility. Some incidentally were at the forefront of evolutionary thinking until persuaded that life’s complexity and other factors presented huge issues for the theory. To say their point of view is ridiculous is just dragging the discussion into an obnoxious argument. Which kind of fits well with Richard Dawkins style of debate when I think about it. I guess the idea is to shut down debate by saying there is no argument.

  24. T H King Says:

    This is quite ironic, as an actual street preacher has stumbled upon a thread which is evidently hosted by a fellow street preacher.

    Berlinski is an intelligent man, a PhD in Philosophy from Princeton… Sorry, that was an appeal to the authority of a distinguished college. I’ve never heard of any evolutionist or rabid atheist such as the intellectually neotanised Dawkins creature appealling to authority.

    For the host to question the existence of the Christ is as ignorant as it comes; to ignore the Bible as a historical document alone is grand ignorance, let alone being willingly ignorant of historical records from Pliny, Tacitus etc.

    To deny that atheism and particularly the religion of neo-atheism – neo-darwinisim – does not preclude absolute or objective morality is preposterous. Again, one simply needs to look at the great bloody murderers of the 20th century. Hitler had a cross, but it was not the cross of Christ, it was one he held alongside a passionate love of darwinism and the hand of the Catholic church. The great ‘Christian’ murderers that are being referred to are most often Roman Catholic, and even a rudimentary knowledge of theology separates Catholicism from Christianity.

    I once did an objective study. I compared 500 folks in our born again, Bible-believing church against 500 atheists. I found that we were physically healthier, more emotionally balanced, happier, tended towards stable homes of married couples, had better control of our finances, were more helpful to the local community, had less anger management problems, less smokers, less drinkers, less drug takers.

    In fact I found that on all counts of things which are destructive to ourselves and others, the atheists were far worse of. I guess us dumb Christians have evolved a bit further…

  25. Murray Says:

    The story of the spread of Christianity and the Bible is a fantastic one which is so at odds by Dawkins crude and fallacious account of religion’s place in the world. Maybe we did evolve but the species of homo sapien evolved almost uniformly into a form which believed in a creator. I don’t know about 95% but it’s a huge majority of peoples and can’t even be subjugated out of existence by despots like Stalin.

    Us “dumb”, “evolved” Christians can be in good company with the world’s many cultures, and many people. Christianity has shown an uncanny (supernatural?) knack for being somewhat “in synch” with spiritual concepts held by cultures untouched by western culture and with no traceable connection to Christianity.

    Here in New Zealand the Maori people received the gospel and embraced it because it meshed with their sense of a creator, a deity, and the Bible just closed a few gaps in their understanding. This is far from unusual, in fact it’s typical of many native cultures exposed to the Bible.

    Even Muslims when allowed the choice of hearing the “gospel” and the underpinning old testament which has much shared history with their own, they often marvel and are transformed by God’s word. Even in the face of family ostracism or death threats many choose to believe and stand for the Christian account of who we are and what we were created for.

    And the charges against missionaries imposing their prejudices on naive and “primitive” races is largely ridiculous. Numerous of these have received not only the message, but a written form of their language not previously invented, courtesy of the Bible in yet another new language.

    Richard Dawkins’ simplistic and bombastic ravings are no longer painful because they are so ridiculous. He shows enormous gaps in his knowledge of plain facts and exhibits an arguing style which would not be out of place in a Monty Python sketch.

  26. Steven Carr Says:

    ‘ I don’t know about 95% but it’s a huge majority of peoples …;

    No wonder the world is such a mess when the huge majority of people believe in a creator.

    Atheists are such a small minority , aren’t they?

    And yet they get the blame for the evil in the world, when theists boast about the 95% of humanity that believe in a god.

  27. Murray Says:

    Nice twist Steven and I do see the irony.

    Actually I think the theists are simply refuting the attacks of religion being the cause of wars when atheism has had a big part in the wars of the last 100 years.

    I wouldn’t claim an absence of evil on either side. After all it’s one thing to “believe” in God, another altogether to “do God’s perfect will”. Mankind tends to be a rather contrary fellow….

  28. Steven Carr Says:

    ‘After all it’s one thing to “believe” in God, another altogether to “do God’s perfect will”.’

    No god has ever issued any commands to humanity, not even the imaginary one you worshipped who wanted cattle and sheep to be killed, along with the children and infants,

    1 Samuel 15
    ‘Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.’”

  29. Murray Says:

    Steven, it’s unwise to ever take a verse in isolation, let alone without understanding the grim history of those savage times. An analogy would be – for you to consider what you would want this “imaginary God” to do about a serial killer who marauded and terrorised your town over a period of time. I wouldn’t think it unreasonable for you to pray to your “imaginary god” to take this monster out.

    It is beyond the scope of claim/counterclaim forums to discuss the situation surrounding the Amalekites’ evil presence and why God wanted them wiped out. But perhaps we should give God the benefit of the doubt in judging them beyond redemption and wanting to rid the world of them. Sounds tough I know but we aren’t privy to all the evil practices conducted by these people – on not only their neighbours, but their own women and children.

    Are you absolutely 100% sure about your first sentence? This precludes any other person from having experienced God’s communicating and in essence says that your experience of not hearing God’s call is universal in mankind. I contend that it most definitely is not.

  30. Steven Carr Says:

    ‘An analogy would be – for you to consider what you would want this “imaginary God” to do about a serial killer who marauded and terrorised your town over a period of time.’

    I see.

    You think these children,infants, cattle and sheep were serial killers?

    And you want to kill people you regard as enemies. After you have forgiven them, of course. That is the Christian way. Forgive your enemies and then slaughter them.

    But kill them in a loving , Christian way – the way Jesus would…

  31. Steven Carr Says:

    ‘ But perhaps we should give God the benefit of the doubt in judging them beyond redemption and wanting to rid the world of them. Sounds tough I know but we aren’t privy to all the evil practices conducted by these people – on not only their neighbours, but their own women and children.’

    It’s amazing the number of Christians who read an Old Book and then claim that whole races of people were so evil even the children had to be gassed in liquidation camps.

  32. Murray Says:

    Not quite what I was saying Steven.

    Let’s just say we don’t know every detail of history. The Bible certainly gives us plenty of insights into civilisation 3000+ years ago that we wouldn’t have otherwise known – despite the sceptics dismissals. Decade by decade, archaeology and other sciences uncover evidence refuting biblical “impossibilities”.

    Some would say God (if he exists) must be evil to allow bad things to happen, whether they be holocausts or earthquakes. We can talk free will, or we can simply say we can’t judge God’s motives from our lowly thinking. Doesn’t necessarily help but we can’t know everything in the mind of a creator. Sometimes we simply have to trust and let science explain process.

  33. Neil Says:

    this blog is good at regurgitating atheist rhetoric.

    What a good little propagandist you are

  34. Adele Says:

    First of all, I’d like to say thanks for an interesting read (above).
    Richard Dawkins sounds like he harbours a lot of ‘Hate’, demonising anyone who chooses to believe in anything apart from what he does. Lighten up Richard, if people want to believe in a God – their choice. The contempt he has expressed towards his fellow man who may choose to do so, likens him to any religious ‘hypocrite’ who speaks or behaves in the same manner. A sad & wasted way to spend your existence.

    • manicstreetpreacher Says:

      The contempt he has expressed towards his fellow man who may choose to do so, likens him to any religious ‘hypocrite’ who speaks or behaves in the same manner. A sad & wasted way to spend your existence.

      Not quite as sad a waste as those who like to blow themselves up in crowded marketplace or fly planes into building to punish those who do not believe in the “right god”.

  35. Murray Says:

    Manicstreetpreacher – how very, very true. You will get no argument from me. Anyone who did the same in the name of Jesus of Nazareth wouldn’t have a leg to stand on in my book, the Holy Bible. I’m not sure whether the Quran exhorts this sort of behaviour or not but the world is full of PEOPLE who will use all manner of justifications for doing their evil deeds, and religion is just one of them.

    Coming back to Mr Dawkins, the subject of this blog – as Adele says, Richard comes across as some kind of angry religious nutcase, all fire and brimstone. He appears to exhort people to be intolerant of others based on their belief system (which just happens to be different to his own, strangely!) He talks about the God he claims to not believe in as though he were really the person of the front part of The Bible (Old Testament). Strange that he appears to be so angry with a God he doesn’t believe in that his cover is blown. So Richard actually hates God? Stranger the more you look at this guy.

    I wonder if Richard realises that God doesn’t believe in atheists.

    Interesting blog……

    • manicstreetpreacher Says:

      Thank you for your comment and vote of praise, Murray.

      However, most people (including many atheists) simply construe Dawkins’ attacks on religion as strident and fundamentalist because we have all been brought up to “respect” everyone’s religious and treat them as being beyond criticism in a way that social, economic and political views are not.

      Aside from the rather bizarre comments that Dawkins has been posted on his website in the last couple of years (noticeably turning full circle and attacking the Catholic Church for the peado-priest scandal in stark contrast to his comments in The God Delusion which gives the priests the benefit of the doubt and blames the creation of the scandal on opportunistic lawyers and the yellow press), his writings are no more severe than those that can be read in the editorial of any respectable broadsheet newspaper.

      Let’s suppose that Dawkins had written a screed attacking New Labour entitled “The Blair Delusion” and let’s suppose that David Robertson, John Cornwell and Alister McGrath were dyed-in-the-wall Blairites, what is the very worst they would have done in response?

      They would have posted a snotty review on Amazon, they would have trolled Dawkins’ website for a couple of weeks and they would have denounced him at their local Labour Party AGM.

      They most certainly would not have written angry book-length responses accusing Dawkins of wanting all Blair’s supporters to be placed in a gas chamber and embarked on lengthy speaking and debating tours (in reality sucking off Dawkins’ fame like fleas on a dog’s back) telling people not to read the book in the first place.

  36. Murray Says:

    Notwithstanding some difficulties I have with the technical aspects of your written word, I agree with much of what you say. Where Dawkins also falls down is he often takes on straw man arguments or simply attacks those who disagree with his views. He also fails consistently and persistently that not all Christians derive their “faith” from a cultural, inherited dogma. Many like myself have turned full circle from atheism to pretty strong belief. CS Lewis was a reluctant convert from agnosticism or even atheism.

    Christians, especially those ensconced in professional clerical life, make the mistake of, like you have illustrated, pouring scorn on the very notion of questioning their stance. This sadly closes the door on good reasoned dialogue. Christianity is, with better proponents rather than dogmatists, worth discussing, rather than pouring the afore-mentioned scorn upon or accepting without critical thought. The sad offshoot of this is non-believers discount biblical respectability let alone something which approaches “authority” and this has in turn led to the western cultures biblical illiteracy. Even among professing Christians, many don’t have much idea of what they suppose they stand for and the USA is a sad example of this.

    No mind, the speed with which the gospel is spreading is unprecedented in history as Christianity shows it has pan-ethnic relevance in the 21st century.

    Thanks for the place to communicate in a reasoned environment.

    • manicstreetpreacher Says:

      Where Dawkins also falls down is he often takes on straw man arguments

      Dawkins etc. are actually attacking the views held by millions of religious people around the World.

      Granted, six day creationism is not promoted by “learned theologians” such as McGrath and Cornwell but polls have regularly shown that up to 50% of the US electorate / adult population profess to believe in it.

      I asked a question in this very vein at Dawkins and Grayling’s debate against Richard Harries and Charles Moore at Wellington College a couple of years ago, to which Dawkins’ reply was that it would be wonderful if all religious people had the same “moderate” and “benign” views as his scholarly opponents.

      Alas, many of the religious public “are exactly the kind of religious people that you don’t want” and do subscribe to the “fundamentalist” views of Falwell, Haggard and Robertson.

      or simply attacks those who disagree with his views.

      Well, any verbal disagreement can be construed as an attack by one viewpoint holder upon the other.

      People generally think that they are right about all the views they hold, otherwise they would not hold them in the first place.

      “That’s your problem; you always think that you’re right” is the most vacuous criticism that can be made.

      Many like myself have turned full circle from atheism to pretty strong belief. CS Lewis was a reluctant convert from agnosticism or even atheism.

      Dawkins has responded to this with what he calls “I’m an atheist, BUT…”

      Notice, by the way, the distinction from another favourite genre: “I used to be an atheist, but . . .” That is one of the oldest tricks in the book, practised by, among many others, C S Lewis, Alister McGrath and Francis Collins. It is designed to gain street cred before the writer starts on about Jesus, and it is amazing how often it works. Look out for it, and be forewarned.

      Christians, especially those ensconced in professional clerical life, make the mistake of, like you have illustrated, pouring scorn on the very notion of questioning their stance

      I’ve made this point before in a slightly different way but we do not respect other people’s views and opinions.

      If this blog was dedicated to arguing my honest, sincere, faith-based claim that the Holocaust did not happen and / or that its effects had been greatly exaggerated, you would be under no obligation even to pretend to respect those beliefs.

      Scorn other people’s arguments all you like. Just make sure your counterarguments are good and your evidence is strong, otherwise you’ll be inviting scorn on yourself.

      Thanks for the place to communicate in a reasoned environment.

      A pleasure.

  37. Murray Says:

    Dawkins again makes an assumption, and a very shallow one when he concludes – “It is designed to gain street cred before the writer starts on about Jesus”. You appear to agree, or at least that is the impression I get when you quote him. I thought I clearly signposted the “changing one’s views” as demonstrating an absence of dogmatism, unlike many fundamental ranters who think it outrageous to have an anti religious view however polite and reasoned. Or Dawkins himself at his dogmatic worst.

    How about the argument of changed position on religion being an answer for just ONE of the many criticisms of the validity or worthiness of even considering Christianity, vis a vis, that you have to be stupid or mentally disturbed to believe such rubbish and that it is a blind faith handed down culturally to the gullible.

    MSP (if I may abbreviate your nom de plume that way) there is no single bullet argument for either side of this debate and the CS Lewis point is simply an argument against two points – one, that you have to be stupid to be a Christian (and I don’t even know why Dawkins would make such a, errr, stupid assertion), and two, that Christianity is simply some kind of cultural bias handed down to undiscerning minds from parents and peers. I simply relate to Lewis in this respect and leave the door open as to whether the faith we hold is misplaced.

    The argument of changed views cuts the same mustard in both directions, it is a test of OPEN MINDEDNESS. and REASONING. Neither side of the argument can be seen simply as stupid or devoid of rationality. Either argument can be true but they can’t both be true and they could both be untrue. This much we can be quite sure of.

    Interesting that a number of atheistic arguers now find the bombasticism of Dawkins rants to be embarassing and damaging to their case in the same way that religious nutters are somewhat an embarassment to my own stance.

  38. Murff Says:

    Dawkins just conceded he is now an Agnostic. He’s almost a believer now. As he gets older, he will come around to believe even more;-)

    • manicstreetpreacher Says:

      Dawkins’ comments in his live debate with the Archbishop of Canterbury that the certainty of his unbelief is 6.9 out of 7 are merely a repeat of what he wrote in The God Delusion five years ago.

      But I suppose that kind of hysterical distortion is only to be expected from The Daily Mail.

  39. mr perdition Says:

    flying plans into buildings may or may not be behaivour thats logically consistant with the beliefs of islam, i dont know enough about islam to say, but its certainly not consistant with Christianity, so you have to make a distinction, bad people can use religeon as a vehicle, they dont believe the stuff themselves but the can claim to, hitler did this, he was trying to get elected by a largly christian population at that time, so like a good politicion what does he say to them? “im just like you folks, a good believing christian!” however if his ACTIONS are veiwed and assessed by an none prejudice jury , some of dawkins aleins perhaps, they would conclude that hitler was a terrible believer in Christ but a logically consistant atheist! As Jesus said “you will know them by their fruit”
    no one is saying if ur atheist your like hitler, stalin etc all we say is that what ever you believe has consequences, if you believe man has no objective worth ie made in the moral, personal, intellectual image of God , then theres no objective reason not to if you got into that position of power, to cull millions of humans u deem subhuman, equally if you believe there is no final arbiter of moral justice ie no ones watching and will require jusstice from you regards ur actions, the theres nothing again to prevent mass dehumanization then slaughter,

    ideas matter because every action is origined by a thought, wrong ideas lead to bad shit, folks thoughts/ideas are spiritual, you have a choice, to seek and entertain the ones that are good and in plum with Gods will, or choose evil ones, choose, but there will be an accounting for them one day, Jesus said, ive come not to condem the world but to save it, we are eternal beings, we are already living an eternal life, when the body dies you remain, not in the physical dimension like here where u need a space suit (you body) there at the point of your own physical death God will hold you to account for what you chose, friend hate me laugh at me whatever, come to Christ with an open heart and in good faith, and see for youself what we Christians experiance (remember theres a church within the chirch we are not all nuts) metanoia

    • manicstreetpreacher Says:

      flying plans into buildings may or may not be behaivour thats logically consistant with the beliefs of islam,

      Trust me, as someone who has read the Koran all the way through, it is very consistent with Islamic teachings.

      but its certainly not consistant with Christianity, so you have to make a distinction

      May be Christians haven’t flown planes into buildings, but if you read the rest of this blog they are responsible for a fairly large syllabus of errors.

      bad people can use religeon as a vehicle, they dont believe the stuff themselves but the can claim to

      Yeah right.

      Then why did one of the 2007 Glasgow Airport Islamist bombers wrap his tackle up in plastic and tinfoil if it was not to protect it from the Earthly blast and leave it three pieces for when he reached paradise where the 72 virgins awaited?

      however if his ACTIONS are veiwed and assessed by an none prejudice jury , some of dawkins aleins perhaps, they would conclude that hitler was a terrible believer in Christ but a logically consistant atheist! As Jesus said “you will know them by their fruit”

      I see, so if you do bad things you are by definition not a Christian.

      That’s fair enough. Not an example of having your cake and eating it. No sireeeee.

      all we say is that what ever you believe has consequences

      So you accept that the Catholic belief that conception is sinful then that can logically lead to preaching against condom use and lying to people in AIDS ravaged African countries that condoms do not protect against STDs?

      if you believe man has no objective worth ie made in the moral, personal, intellectual image of God , then theres no objective reason not to if you got into that position of power, to cull millions of humans u deem subhuman

      You mean like the pious rulers of Rwanda in the mid 90’s?

      Jesus said, ive come not to condem the world but to save it

      He also said that he had come to bring not peace but a sword. That classic is one of my favourites.

      we are eternal beings, we are already living an eternal life, when the body dies you remain, not in the physical dimension like here where u need a space suit (you body) there at the point of your own physical death God will hold you to account for what you chose

      Is there any evidence whatsoever for this?

      What if you die of a stroke after years of being bedridden and vegetative? Does God repair your brain and your body in order for you to face his final judgement?

      • mr perdition Says:

        I will take your word for that about Koranic consistancy,

        if people have a problem with religion what is the charge, that it causes wars,fighting etc? Well there has clearly been more death and destruction wrought on mankind by non religious ideas/people, so for me that old cheatnut is weak,

        I think the main question here is about whether or not any religious belief in its self is a bad/dangerous thing when lived out in action, clearly its not, but and clearly SOME are. So yes its proper to question the ideas that religions promogate, after all we challenge other things we veiw as harmful to society, Christianity is open to questioning, and has responses to the questions,

        another charge is that religious belief is somehow holding mankind back with its antiquainted supersticions etc, hold back how , Nietzche was right GOD is dead to western man, God as his guiding notion/concensus is no more so how does a minority believing in God hold the unbelieving majority back?, its true some parts of the world are still throwing rocks at each other and the like, but those areas aint Christian, Europe and the west embraced the Gospel and became thw most advance civilization ever seen, pretty good fruit.

        im always amazed at Atheists anger at people who believe, or the venom they throw at anything Godish, WHY? I mean so what if a bunch of gulible morons are dumb enough to fall for fairy stories? So wot? Let them, I dont rant and ridicule people for not believing, thats up to them, yes there are nut jobs under the umbrwlla of believers, just as there are nut jobs under thw atheist umbrella,

        But there are some very good minds on both sides, remember that, I hope Atheists move away from people like R.Dawkins and co, why well not coz they are effective opponents but because they really do prevent serious attempts to bridge this gap between believers and non believers, theres way too much bad mouthing and hating going on all over this subject, carzy, the subject should be had at a more mature level and above the sneering, insulting, venomous level the new atheists pitch at,

        im always amazed that these brights foam at the mouth with fake moral outrage over faith issuses. But say nothing about huge actual eveils going on around them daily, effecting millions , anyway im off on a tangent sorry,

        btw look up that sword verse in a good commentry or concordance and you’ll understand what he was saying in context, no Christian believes your interpritation, thats something atheists have probs with, they oft quote verses and dont really understand the meaning, mind you there are Christians who do that too.

      • manicstreetpreacher Says:

        if people have a problem with religion what is the charge, that it causes wars,fighting etc?

        That and many other things. Such as the subversion of science, the abuse of and indoctrination of children, the denial of women to their right to contraception, the demonization of homosexuals and the diversion of valuable time, energy and resources away from solving the real problems of the World such as famine and climate change.

        Well there has clearly been more death and destruction wrought on mankind by non religious ideas/people

        I agree that religion is not the only poisonous ideology in the World and if people abandoned religion tomorrow they would plenty of other excuses to fight.

        But there is no evidence that the simple (non) act of disbelieving in a god or gods will turn you into a murderous despot. Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot may have been atheists in respect of Yahweh, Christ, Allah and Zeus but it took belief in lunatic political ideologies to carry out their horrendous crimes.

        It’s the argument from “Yeah, but what about…?” and amounts like saying that since car accidents cause far more deaths than murderers, so we should stop bothering to catch murderers and ensure that everyone wears their seat belts and drives no faster than 20mph.

        The body count is of course a relevant factor but it is not the deciding factor.

        I think the main question here is about whether or not any religious belief in its self is a bad/dangerous thing when lived out in action, clearly its not, but and clearly SOME are.

        Even apparently moderate teachings can lead to extremism. I repeat my arguments about the Catholic preaching in favour of abstinence and against contraception leading to the clergy in sub-Saharan Africa lying about the effectiveness of condoms and thereby adding to the spread of HIV and AIDS.

        Christianity is open to questioning, and has responses to the questions

        Unfortunately, I do not find any of these answers satisfactory.

        And if your faith is really open to questioning and falsification, you must provide examples of arguments, evidence and indeed lack of evidence that would change your mind and disprove your beliefs.

        its true some parts of the world are still throwing rocks at each other and the like, but those areas aint Christian, Europe and the west embraced the Gospel and became thw most advance civilization ever seen, pretty good fruit.

        It used to be fairly barbaric and what we see going on in countries ruled by Islamic fundamentalism was the norm in the Middles Ages before the Enlightenment.

        The only reason why anyone is a religious moderate today is because the scientific claims of religion have been beaten back by the last 500 years of progress and common sense since the enlightenment.

        If we imagine a great kingdom of reason emerging at the same time as monotheism, maybe we could have had nuclear physics by the 15th century.

        im always amazed at Atheists anger at people who believe, or the venom they throw at anything Godish, WHY? I mean so what if a bunch of gulible morons are dumb enough to fall for fairy stories? So wot?

        I can’t stop people from believing what they want to believe and I am not trying to. But unfortunately their beliefs have consequences for the rest of the World.

        The Muslim belief in martyrdom and the rewards in the afterlife lead to 9/11 and the Christian belief that fertilised embryos have souls denied state funding of potentially life-saving stem cell research at the federal level for 10 years under the Bush administration.

        But there are some very good minds on both sides, remember that, I hope Atheists move away from people like R.Dawkins and co, why well not coz they are effective opponents but because they really do prevent serious attempts to bridge this gap between believers and non believers

        The New Atheists have simply cried enough and have realised that all these years of politeness have got us nowhere.

        The appeasers spouting NOMA are just kidding themselves. No one today would argue that modern medicine and witchcraft occupy exclusive spheres and are not in conflict with each other.

        Hopefully, the same will apply to religion one day.

        I suggest you read Sam Harris’ damning review of Francis Collins’ book The Language of God as well as Harris’ other attacks on Collins and so-called other religious scientists for an incisive analyse of the fraud behind the claim that there is no conflict between religion and science.

        im always amazed that these brights foam at the mouth with fake moral outrage over faith issuses.

        Our outrage is not fake. We have genuine reasons to be angry.

        btw look up that sword verse in a good commentry or concordance and you’ll understand what he was saying in context, no Christian believes your interpretation

        And you should look up Non Stamp Collector’s YouTube video “OUT OF CONTEXT!!!”.

  40. Murray Says:

    So you want to use all the events that by mutual consent are “terrible” and “atrocities” that are committed under a banner of “islam” or any other religion while failing to make a connection with Stalin who was most definitely atheist and anti-religion to balance the books or more likely, tip the scales.

    You also want to ignore the great civilising acts which were done in the full light of Christian calling – Martin Luther King and William Wilberforce just two Christians who used the gospel to underpin their unpopular views and standing up for what was right.

    Christianity, far from consistently undermining sociological progress has made huge strides in civilising the world. We can sit on ivory towers in comfortably wealthy “European” culture without taking account of where hospitals, schools and “foreign aid” organisations came from and look at the annoyance of moral standards, unaware of the real history.

    It was not unbridled freedom which civilised us as if we were able to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. It was objective morality and law which took a very dark world to something not perfect by any means, but a safer place to live, and one with meaning.

    When people in power choose to ignore objective morality as laid down by the Gospel and it’s predecessor, the ten commandments you will get terrible consequences. You can ignore hypocritically under a Christian banner or from the outside as an unbeliever of this objective truth. Christian doctrine is not hidden in the area of “going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than going to MacDonalds makes you a hamburger”.

    Do you know where the expression “wolf in sheep’s clothing” comes from? Hitler was without doubt a wolf not a sheep and no amount of going to church would change that. His lack of following of those things which make a man “Christian” undoubtedly influenced his decisions in life – being a Christian can be determined to some degree by actions.

    On the Islam side I am not sure that there is a consistent admonishing of the use of violence. To be fair there has probably been some manipulation of the true Islamic faith by violent nutcases to condition young men to commit atrocities. Fortunately for Christianity we don’t see much of the same behaviour but it can never be ruled out.

    Atheisn on the other hand leaves a void in “objective morality”. Whatever society determines at the time to be OK, Civilised, Just, Fair is deemed to be the law of the day. And that will be different (progress!) tomorrow. Hey, didn’t a large part of “civilised” Germany in the 1940s believe the fuhrer’s version of what was right, or at least turn a blind eye to what they new to be happening?

    Atheism doesn’t determine bad stuff happens, it just permits that flow of personal preferences to be the rule of the day. We are already seeing the decline of standards in civilised countries turning their back on objective morality and secularism.

    Christianity will not eliminate evil any more than atheism ensures evil. We need to look with objective eyes at what shapes civilisation in the past, present and future. There is much more I could offer in areas like abortion to warn others of the dangers of rewriting history to villify religion and idolise atheism but I wilol leave it there. Sadly people tend to usually believe what they WANT to believe and their own personal freedom, unhindered by moral consequences tends to be paramount.

    • mr perdition Says:

      The history of scientific advancement serves to show that there is no conflict between relgious faith and scientific advancement, one only has to look at the long list of eminant scientists who contributed hugely to our understanding, most of them would have been starting their observations from a Judeo Christian mindset, if belief in a God negates or hinders scientific discovery, why did it not prevent these scientists from going on to discover so much? As C:S Lewis said ” men became scientific because they expected law in nature, they expected law in nature BECAUSE they believed in a legislator”

      So again we see that the old religious faith OR science choice is totally false.

      When you mention abuse of children I assume you are refering to male and female circumcison?, if so, again one has to be honest and recognise that this is not something done by all faiths, so cant be a function of ALL religious faith, its like someone saying, all Christians belive in transubstanciation, or all Muslims want to suicide bomb, or all atheist leaders would exterminate huge numbers of their own poputations,. If its parts of catholic or islamic doctrine or obervance you disagree with then disagee with it but be honest enough to make the distinction and not tar all faiths with the negative behaviour of a few, im interested to know if you classify the obesity levels of children in western countries as evidence of abuse too? Or is the only child abuse your alarmed at religious? Ive never found an organisation of Jewish adult males protesting about their circumsicion, obviously they prefer concerned atheists to male a stand against it on their behalf.

      i also never seem to hear atheisim condeming every other thing out there that diverts valuable time, energy and resources from solving the real problems out there, why just choose religious belief as your target why not western capitalisim, or atheistic communism? Both of those divert time energy and resouces, the charge applys to many world veiws not just religious ones.

      Its true being an atheist does not mean you will become or be like those atheistic mass murdering leaders you named there, it does not logically follow, but those same leaders were not acting illogically with atheism. if a “christian” commited those mass murders as a leader he WOULD be acting illogically with his beliefs. As said one belief if applied, prevents, another does true not produce those acts but neither does it prevent.

      There a consequences to any ideas not just religious ones!! again why do you protest more loudly at religious ideas than non religious ones?

      The atheistic belief that human beings are not of intrinsic worth because there is no God in whose image they are made lead to the deaths of tens of millions if not hundreds of millions. Yes the benifits of some science is curtailed or delayed because of moral concerns rightly so, it is a democracy afterall and it is legitimate for people to object if they have concerns even concerns that stem from what they believe, besides the issue of when human life begins is obviously when a sperm and egg meet, if its not then, when? Soul or no soul, the destruction of millions of human beings in the womb should be cause for moral objection.

      So the new atheists not getting anywhere, now have to revert to the only area they can to try and suceed winning the argument, by demeaning their opponents, insulting their intelligence, even insinuating child abuse if a parent brings a child up with faith in God bit purile dont you think? I mean if i was confident in my arguments, i wouldnt feel frustrated to the point of hurling insults, venom and spite around, i would just seek to make my case more persusive. See its not that we believers dont understand your points we do, its just that we do not agree with then because they have huge holes in them, so whatever way you express them they still have to float. What happens next when this new atheism gets more frustrated? Violence?

      Im in no rush to read Sam harris stuff, having watched most of his debates with theists, its obvious that particular empiror has no clothes.

      • a Martin Says:

        ”Im in no rush to read Sam harris stuff, having watched most of his debates with theists, its obvious that particular empiror has no clothes.”

        Wow… Reason has no clothes. That’s a new one. ;)

        Let’s instead give the supernatural being we call God attributes that we then think is objective and universal for all. Well, I bet every believer thinks they have found the somewhat right understanding of what god ”wants”. Are all of them right? I guess not. Who decides which interpretation of god’s will is right or wrong? There’s so many problems with theism. One is the total lack of consensus (if taking all religions and ideas about the supernatural into account).

  41. Murray Says:

    zwell said Mr Perdition. And regards your final paragraph I would bring the point back to Mr Dawkins whose arguments are so full of inconsistent reasoning that all that remains is the echoing tunder of his vitriol. For those of us who have endured the tedium of reading his arguments we are not frightened by the argument, only the persuasiveness of continual repeating of untrue conclusions on the weak-minded.

    Easy to see why numerous true “brights” like John Lennox are always happy to invite him to a repeat debate, and why the invitations are no longer accepted. Richard’s reasoning has even become s source of embarassment to his fellow new atheists.

    • a Martin Says:

      ”For those of us who have endured the tedium of reading his arguments we are not frightened by the argument, only the persuasiveness of continual repeating of untrue conclusions on the weak-minded.”

      That’s funny. I would say exactly the same about a theist such as William Lane Craig.

      The problem as I see it is that theists have an agenda. You have your god as a base and then you look at everything from that standpoint. The atheist’s stance is more ”clean” and don’t have an agenda in that sense. I’m an atheist and just like Dawkins says I’m interested in what is true. If god’s existence is what is true then fine. I don’t have a wish of how things should be. You on the other hand must confess you want god to be the truth. How is that having an open mind?

  42. foodforthought Says:

    My ideas about anti-Semitism changed also in the course of time, but that was the change which I found most difficult. It cost me a greater internal conflict with myself, and it was only after a struggle between reason and sentiment that victory began to be decided in favour of the former. Two years later sentiment rallied to the side of reasons and became a faithful guardian and counsellor.
    — Mein Kampf

    • manicstreetpreacher Says:

      Food, I don’t quite see the purpose of your post.

      Are you saying that Hitler had perfectly rational and secular reasons for his anti-Semitism or are you just cutting and pasting a particularly nasty quote from MK on lots of blogs to promulgate anti-Jewish hatred?

      Regardless of your motives, you should read the rest of Hitler’s diatribe (if you can bear it) and you will note that he refers to the Christian God in support of his views.

      MSP

  43. bradley Says:

    MSP- how does the theory of evolution account for the “Cambrian Explosion”? And what other alternative do you offer for how life began here on Earth? Thank you.

    • manicstreetpreacher Says:

      Bradley

      I’m not a palaeontologist, so I suggest you read up on the works of Richard Dawkins and Stephen Jay Gould for an account of out the Cambrian Explosion is accounted for by evolution.

      I cannot and do not offer an alternative of how life first arose on Earth. But just we don’t know doesn’t mean that it came from an intelligent designer / God, it just means that we don’t know.

      Happy Xmas.

      MSP

      • pbasch Says:

        Absolutely right. I have heard it said that the Anthropic principle implies an intelligent creator, though where that intelligent creator comes from is relegated to the ineffable.
        One can admit that there is much (very much! so, so much…) we don’t know, while doubting that an omniscient, omnipotent, eternal entity makes much sense.
        My feeling is that (based on my limited understanding of modern scientists’ limited knowledge!) consciousness is a computational process, and that computational processes require a material/energetic substrate of some kind, which takes a conscious god out of the ineffable, mystery and right into a causal, natural world. For all I know, our Universe is the creation of a person, but that person need not have the qualities associated with any god of our mythologies. Even if our Universe was created, that just makes the question of origins go one more (admittedly frustrating) step back.

  44. Russ Lynn Says:

    According to the Bible most people are “willfully” ignorant of God’s purpose for the earth and mankind! Some of this is shown to be true by their grasping at straws trying to make sense of things. They lack understanding, (the ability to seen the whole picture). Its like the blind man holding on to the tail of a elephant trying to describe what he looks like!

    • a Martin Says:

      To me giving attributes to an invisible being in another dimension sounds a lot like grasping at straws. Not that it makes any sense to me, but I guess some people think that.

      I guess you’ve figured out the purpose and interpret the Bible in he right way, right? ;)

      • Russ Lynn Says:

        I don’t wish to sound smug or arrogant, but to answer your question, that is exactly right. You see, if you know your right, you should be able to prove it. Ask me a question you would like to know the answer to!

    • a Martin Says:

      How can you know you’re right? When/how did you figure this out? What about all the others who think they’re right too, but believe in different things than you?

      • a Martin Says:

        For some reason there’s no reply button at your second post.

  45. a Martin Says:

    How can you know you’re right? When/how did you figure this out? What about all the others who think they’re right too, but believe in different things than you?

    • a Martin Says:

      Whoops, that ended up in the wrong place.

      • Russ Lynn Says:

        Glad to hear from you. Your question is logical to ask. Let me start by asking if you had a complex math problem you couldn’t figure out, would assume nobody could? The next question are you willing to spend some time to get the answer? And one more, are you willing to set aside some preconceived notions that many people have?

      • a Martin Says:

        Hi again. We’ll I’ve had a math problem that I couldn’t solve, but I’m sure someone else could. :) I’m not much of a mathematician. Have some good friends who are, though.

        Sure, I’m willing to spend some time to get the answer. Also I’m trying as much as I can to have an open mind, but that doesn’t mean I’ll buy into anything and become gullible.

        What notions do I have to set aside you mean?

      • Russ Lynn Says:

        Hi Martin; Let me say first of all, if you do have a open mind, you don’t have to set aside any previous notions. Those will go away by themselves as soon as you have good reason to question them. I don’t know much about how you think or what you believe so I’m not sure which subject you would be interested in discussing.
        The only thing I picked up on in one of your early remarks was you seem to question the existence of a creator. This in turn would cause one to question the value of the Bible. Let me just state what got me interested in it. When I found out that the religions that profess to follow it are actually condemned in it and despised by the creator for misrepresenting Him and his intention is to destroy all of them after first exposing their hypocrisy, which he is doing right now, I thought now that makes sense!
        Well, this should give us a starting place for a discussion. If this doesn’t interest you pick something that might.

      • a Martin Says:

        ”…if you do have a open mind, you don’t have to set aside any previous notions. Those will go away by themselves as soon as you have good reason to question them.”

        Exactly. The problem I see it is that some seem to think that what is logical and not is a subjective issue. I don’t agree with that. Logic – at its core – is (at least supposed to) be objective. I’m sure religious people think their conclusions about the existence of a god is logical, but that doesn’t make it so. To me it seems to be based mostly on ”argument from ignorance” and a stance of ”begging the question”.

        But I’m still listening to what people’s (your) thoughts are. :)

        ”When I found out that the religions that profess to follow it are actually condemned in it and despised by the creator for misrepresenting Him and his intention is to destroy all of them after first exposing their hypocrisy, which he is doing right now, I thought now that makes sense!”

        Okay… Which religions are these? What makes you think that this supposed creator is ”destroying all who is misrepresenting Him after first exposing their hypocrisy”? Is this happening right now you mean?

      • Russ Lynn Says:

        I agree with you Martin that it is common for people to explain away things simply by parroting “that god did it!” If you ever sense that I’m falling into that category let me know because there’s nothing to be learned by dumb comments. I dislike them as much as you.
        To answer your last question briefly, he’s not destroying any as of yet but they are being exposed for what they are, hypocritical, corrupt, money grabbers, sex deviants, etc. and more and more people are becoming aware of this. This is one reason many have become fed up with religion and because these Bible thumpers are connected with the Bible, people are not only losing faith it its value but in belief in God. The religions most reprehensible are those which make up Christendom. Because they don’t understand it themselves they make it very confusing to their flocks.
        Remember I said earlier that if someone really knows whats true, they should not only be able to explain it but prove it to a reasoning person. As your are probably starting to discern that I consider the Bible as a letter from our creator which answers questions which have stumped mankind in general for centuries. So, you seem willing to spend some time discussing this subject and long as you remain open minded it should prove at least informative. OK; I’ve rambled on longer then I intended to. Your turn.

  46. a Martin Says:

    Oh, we lost the flow… :)
    My focus was elsewere for some time.

    You sound very reasonable there in your last comment, but I’m still waiting for what objective proofs there are that the Bible is true in the sense that it actually is “a letter from our creator”. What in it is it that makes you think it is so? And why that particular religion (Christianity) when there are other religions and beleifs in this world which people follow, and they all seem to think they got it right. They can’t all be right, can they?

    To me it seems more likely that they’re all wrong and that they cling on whatever belief they might have because it feels uncomfortable to not have anything to “lean on”. I’m happy to say that I don’t know. I don’t want to give “I don’t know” attributes because it makes me feel better and I don’t want to cling onto thing without good (and as objective as possible) reason. The most objective tool we have is science, where a hypothesis is tested and questioned “from all angles” and discarded if it doesn’t pass the test. I can’t see how you can do this with religion and therefore it’s subjective and arbitrary.

    I guess we all know subjective things aren’t necessarily applicable to everyone else.

    • Russ Lynn Says:

      Happy to hear from you again Martin. You’ve brought up a couple of good points which I’m just going to generalize on to see what you think.
      First of all I agree science is a very useful tool for understanding HOW things work but its explanations are not exhaustive. That’s why they have to keep updating them. Also is has limitations on what it can explain. ( For example it can explain that if you put a certain poison in your grandmothers tea it WILL KILL HER! But, it can’t tell you if its ALRIGHT TO DO IT!) You’ll need to get that answer from another source. Just like when Newton discovered the Law of Gravity he didn’t feel he no longer was interested in whether there was a God or not. And remember, scientists can talk nonsense as well as the next person. And even though science can give some explanation of how gravity works, it can’t really explain what it even is, let alone where it came from!
      Also, science can’t even answer child like questions that are really more important then how things work. (Such as where did we come from? Or why are we here? Or why is there Something, rather then Nothing?) One other point is if science is so sure about its findings why do THEY disagree on such things as, is there a Creator or not.
      Briefly on the other point you had on why I believe the Bible in the face of so many other possibilities. To simply tell you the answer to that would take up a great deal of time & space and wouldn’t mean as much to you as if you conducted your own investigation.
      So, let me ask if you have a Bible. I won’t ask if you have read much of it because most people that say they have read it really mean that they have one, or maybe just seen one. So, if we’re going to pursue the thought that it actually is a letter from our Creator we’re going to have to look into it a little! Let me know if you have one and we’ll go from there.
      One last thought. You’re right! All religions can’t be right. The fact that you spend some time on these web sites you are probably familiar with books such as Hitchens book, “Religion Poisons Everything!” He needed to add one more word to the title. “FALSE Religion Poisons Everything!”

  47. a Martin Says:

    Sure science isn’t exhaustive, but that’s the nature of science. You’re exploring something that isn’t fully known. This with updating and revising is the whole point.

    The thing is, I don’t see the connection between “I don’t know or understand it” to “It must have been created by a being”. It seems to me that what you do is you replace ”I don’t know or understand where this comes from” with ”God”. That smells like ”argument from ignorance” (draws a conclusion based on lack of knowledge or evidence without accounting for all possibilities) to me.

    I see you’re bringing up the moral aspect. Are you saying that science can’t explain morality? While it seems it can (or at least it’s on it’s way) I won’t go into that now. I just want to say that I have understood the argument that morality must come ”from above” for it to be objective. Is it alright to kill someone? No. Why? Because that person most probably don’t want to be killed. Isn’t that enough? You don’t treat people around you like shit, because the don’t like to be treated like shit. As simple as that.

    It’s true that you can be a good scientist (Newton) and still believe in God, and therefore (like you say) a scientist can also talk nonsense. ;)
    But you can also be a good scientist without believing in God. Anyway, I think you should watch this: ”Jerry Coyne on the Odd Couple: Why Science and Religion Shouldn’t Cohabit” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ekc2Nn03IVM

    It’s true that science can’t currently answer questions like ”were did we come from” and ”why are we here”, but who says it won’t be able to one day? There’s been happening a lot science wise just in the last few hundred years.
    Why is there something rather than nothing? Well, here is a (non-theistic) video on that topic: ”Lawrence Krauss – A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather than Nothing” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VdUYw59ztyw

    You wrote:
    ”One other point is if science is so sure about its findings why do THEY disagree on such things as, is there a Creator or not.”

    Well, first of all most scientists aren’t religious (if looking at the National academy of Sciences). This is rather old now (latest data from 1998) but still: http://www.stephenjaygould.org/ctrl/news/file002.html

    Secondly, science doesn’t directly deal with that topic. Whatever you find you can always say ”but what created that?” and since God is defined (according to some at least) as ”metaphysical” (whatever the difference between metaphysical and a fantasy is) I guess it makes God immune to science? :)

    I do have a Bible (a Quoran too by the way).
    And yes, I know about Hitchens book. How do you prove that a religion is false without pointing to texts in the ”holy” book of which you subscribe to? Kind of hard to start an argument if what both you have is just ”this is the book I believe in, therefore it’s true”, no? ;)

    • Russ Lynn Says:

      A couple of questions Martin. If you were God and you were going to write a letter for your human creation what would put in it? You say you have a copy of the Bible so what do you think of the very first verse in it? Is it true or false?

      When I stare up into the heavens at its awesomeness and complete orderliness, that verse makes more sense then some fool telling me its the result of some blind, unguided force with no purpose whatsoever! If you have some evidence that proves that verse wrong, please help me out! And if that’s true, what would even be the point in studying it? Remember, that verse was written several thousand years ago and still seems to defy all efforts to prove it wrong.
      That’s just one reason I hold the Bible in high esteem. The more people try to discount it, the more they prove it right. Who would know more about the universe than the one who created it. That’s one reason the Bible doesn’t need updated every so often. Its just as true now as when it was written.
      Also, because you seem to put more confidence in what humans think they have figured out in their short lifespan then the One who has been here eternally, you may be interested in what astronomer
      Robert Jastrow wrote in his book (God and the Astronomers). “Now we see how the astronomical evidence leads to a biblical view of the origin of the world. The details differ, but the essential elements in the astronomical and biblical accounts of Genesis are the same: the chain of events leading to man commenced suddenly and sharply at a definite moment in time, in a flash of light and energy.”
      This could remind one of the “Big Bang Theory” The only difference is if you consider the Bible account you realize where all this power and control came from. Or you could go with scientists who say, ” Don’t be silly! We all know it came from nothing!!”

      • staraffinity Says:

        Long reply coming up (sorry…):

        You wrote:
        ”If you were God and you were going to write a letter for your human creation what would put in it?”

        If I were God I would write a lot more in detail about the universe in the letter to humanity. I would write about the planets in the solar system, that Earth revolves around the Sun, and not the opposite. I would tell about the galaxies and that there are planets around most stars in the galaxies.
        I would mention the asteroids that fly around (that must have been created too?) and I would mention that every now and then there will be asteroids that hit earth. I would tell about the explosions of stars (supernovae) and the violent collision of galaxies and so on.

        Within all this “order” you talk about there’s quite a lot of chaos and seemingly random events that doesn’t seem to show any care for the living. Earthquakes, volcanoes, storms and other natural disasters. We also have the way animals are killed by each other in nature (a lot of suffering), and of course the way we (some) humans behave to each other and animals (especially thinking about the meat industry) on this planet.

        I’d tell about the atoms, electrons and the bacteria and viruses. I’d write about (at least mention) DNA. I’d explain the idea behind the suffering and slaughter in nature. All the diseases such as cancer, schizophrenia, the idea behind the ”design” of miscarriage, cancer, chromosome faults and being born as a siamese twin.

        The thing is, there’s a lot of beautiful stuff on earth and in the universe, but there’s also a lot of nasty stuff. You can’t just say ”look at this, this is so beautiful” and give God credit to that without also involving all the nasty stuff, can you?

        You wrote:
        ”You say you have a copy of the Bible so what do you think of the very first verse in it? Is it true or false?”

        You mean the creation in Genesis 1?
        ”In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”?
        I don’t know. How would I know if it’s true or false. But I think it’s *most likely* that it is words made up by man.

        A few examples of why it seems to be made up by man – it is lacking any now known facts – it just brings up what was commonly known at the time it was written:

        -There is no mention that the stars are actually suns, but so much farther away
        -No mention about the planets in our solar system
        -No mention about the Earth revolving around the Sun
        -The text also seem to imply that the stars are fixed into the ”firmament” of (the sky). Modern astronomy know that the the stars are moving at high velocities and the stars in the night sky won’t look the same forever.
        -No mention about the creation of the galaxy (Milkyway)
        -When it comes to the creation of the animals only the kind know at that time are mentioned. Nothing about bacteria or viruses etc.

        And so on…

        The Genesis isn’t very specific about the creation if looking at how complex we now know the world is. It sounds to me what a man could come up with by looking at the world around him and using his imagination a little.

        You wrote:
        ”When I stare up into the heavens at its awesomeness and complete orderliness, that verse makes more sense then some fool telling me its the result of some blind, unguided force with no purpose whatsoever!”

        I’m also in awe when looking into the night sky. Not sure I’d call what I see ”complete orderliness” though. I also don’t think it makes any sense that it was created by a being. Rather I feel that I can’t fully grasp it with my mind. And that’s it. I don’t feel the need to get and idea of where it comes from. Well, I do, but I don’t settle with ”God did it”. That brings up even more questions in my mind, such as why create physical beings at all? Why not just let every human be metaphysical and do all the ”testing of souls” there.
        Etc.

        It’s very easy to cherry pick and draw conclusions based on how you feel. But is feelings really a good source something to draw conclusions from?

        Lawrence Krauss (I guess he’s the one you’re calling a fool?) has come up with his conclusions by studying physics. By studying the world around us. The world you claim God has created. He has studied it because of curiosity and wish to understand how things are, not what he wants them to be. You on the other hand seem to have come to your conclusions based on feelings and wishful thinking. You feel awe when you look up at the stars a clear night, therefore a being must be behind it all. If that makes sense to you, well…

        You dismiss Krauss’ findings because you don’t like it. You subscribe to the Bible because you like it. The difference is that there’s evidence for Krauss’s claims and the evidence for the Bible actually being the word of God nothing more than a wish.

        Seriously, if you we’re half as skeptical to the Bible as you seem to be to Krauss’ research I wonder where you’d be. It’s like people who question evolution, but believe the Bible (I don’t know your stance on evolution, but…). If they’d be anywhere nearly as skeptical to the Bible as they are to evolution (for which there’s a lot of evidence that is based on findings in the so supposed ”God created world”) I wonder what they’d believe. But it seems the Bible gets special treatment and don’t need questioning.

        You wrote:
        ”That’s just one reason I hold the Bible in high esteem. The more people try to discount it, the more they prove it right. Who would know more about the universe than the one who created it. That’s one reason the Bible doesn’t need updated every so often. Its just as true now as when it was written.”

        I’m sorry but that sounds like blind belief and gullibility to me.

        You wrote:
        ”Also, because you seem to put more confidence in what humans think they have figured out in their short lifespan then the One who has been here eternally…”

        Now you’re reasoning like you already have the answer (which of course is what you think). That’s called ”begging the question” (begging the question”, is committed “when a proposition which requires proof is assumed without proof)” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Begging_the_question

        You wrote:
        ”Robert Jastrow wrote in his book (God and the Astronomers). “Now we see how the astronomical evidence leads to a biblical view of the origin of the world. The details differ, but the essential elements in the astronomical and biblical accounts of Genesis are the same: the chain of events leading to man commenced suddenly and sharply at a definite moment in time, in a flash of light and energy.”
        This could remind one of the “Big Bang Theory” The only difference is if you consider the Bible account you realize where all this power and control came from.”

        Seriously. What in the Genesis is it that you think assembles the Big BangTheory? I sure can’t see it. Not without reading waaaaay to much into it and wishing for it to be true so much that I suddenly do, despite the incredible vagueness compare to what we know.

        You wrote:
        ” Don’t be silly! We all know it came from nothing!!”

        Well, you do understand that the finding is that ”nothing” isn’t really nothing? At least within this universe there seems to be no such thing, there’s always some energy. For a human mind it might sound silly, ”of course there’s something like nothing!” one might say. But that’s just because our ”used to earth life” brains aren’t really used to thinking about particle level stuff. What makes sense to us in our everyday life doesn’t really work to apply there. That’s why I don’t just buy into anything. Things are not what they seem! And I don’t feel that I can draw any conclusions about the universe by looking up in the sky, rather the opposite. What better way to try to understand the universe by studying physics. Lawrence Krauss does that. Science works independently of what you believe. Religion not so. There it’s all up to each and her own. And you can’t really argue because it’s not falsifiable stuff.

  48. Russ Lynn Says:

    Oh, by the way Martin. I watched that lecture by Lawrence Krauss you suggested just to see if there was something new in it. I was disappointed it was just another re-hash of someone trying desperately to explain that nothing is really something by a lot double talk. It amuses me that they at least have enough sense to realize they NEED to define something as nothing. If they admit that nothing is just that, NOTHING, they realize their argument is over before it begins. Then he goes on to explain that everything is basically meaningless and THAT is very exciting to him! What a fruitcake!! And everyone is sitting there with their mouth open at his vast wisdom.
    Just a side thought. Why did humans “evolve” a brain that is good for a million lifetimes, and yet they drop dead in a few decades? The Bible answers this very easily. What does science say? Its good you have a Bible but as far as the Quoran, you might want to replace that with Mother Goose.

    • staraffinity Says:

      You wrote:
      ”I watched that lecture by Lawrence Krauss you suggested just to see if there was something new in it. I was disappointed it was just another re-hash of someone trying desperately to explain that nothing is really something by a lot double talk.”

      And I was disappointed that you didn’t have anything new to bring to the table when it comes to reason behind your beliefs. You just have faith. Faith is not an argument, because faith can have all kinds of shapes and there is no way to disprove it. In my mind I can be 100% certain that the world was created by aliens and that all the dogs on earth are here watching us. This is a claim that could be true. It’s also extremely difficult (i.e. impossible) to falsify it. The same thing with religious faith. I don’t care what feels best, I wan’t to know what’s actually true. If God’s existence is shown to be be true I’d gladly accept that. I don’t have a wish for how things should be. You’re free to believe what you want, but I prefer an evidence (in the scientific way) based discussion. Everything else is arbitrary.

      You wrote:
      ”Its good you have a Bible but as far as the Quoran, you might want to replace that with Mother Goose.”

      I bet a muslim would say the exact same thing about the Bible. And you both have no way of disproving the other because faith isn’t falsifiable.

      • Russ Lynn Says:

        I’m not sure who I’m talking to right now. Anyway I have to leave for work but I wanted to respond to your response briefly for right now and then I’ll get back to some other points later. I’m still asking why we “evolved” a brain that we don’t begin to use most of its capacity and as one of the higher life forms on earth, we don’t live near as long as things that don’t care or think about anything, (trees, turtles, etc.) You keep referring to me having faith in the Bible. I believe it more based on its facts. I’ll go into this more when I get back. If you still want to that is.

  49. Russ Lynn Says:

    O.K. I’m back. I just want to mention a few more things right now because I don’t want this to get too long winded.
    You say if your were writing a letter to humans you would spend a great deal of time writing about HOW things work! Martin, that’s one of the reasons he gave US a brain. This would enable those who were interested in those things to have the pleasure of discovering these wonders on their own. (And for all practical purposes, what would people have done with this information when they were just figuring out how to start a fire?) Even today humans don’t live long enough to travel much past our own moon!
    No, we can be glad that he chose to inform us of things we couldn’t figure out on our own. For example, why we are here, how did things get so screwed up and how he’s going to make it right.
    Other reasons I like using the Bible to explain things instead of other SUPPOSEDLY holy books is that most of them ARE comparable to Mother Goose. You know, like the nonsense many of the ancients believed such as the earth is perched on the back of a elephant etc.
    Next, if the Bible really is God’s Word to benefit mankind you would expect it to be very old, which it is. You would also expect it to be available to most people. Oddly, its the most widely circulated book in existence. This in spite of the efforts of many to get rid of it! That means that when it indicates most people are “willfully” ignorant of God’s purposes for the earth and mankind they can’t deny it! Also, its the only book that claims to be written by God. (2 Tim. 3:16)
    One last thought! It wasn’t my idea to refer to Krauss as a fool. The creator himself views humans that try to understand his creation without him as (“The senseless one). (Ps. 14:1) In fact he laughs at their attempts to challenge his power. (Ps. 2:2-4).

    • a Martin Says:

      So, because we don’t live as long as things that presumably (what do you know of how it feels to be a turtle?) don’t think about things, you then do the connection that life goes on after death and must be design, or what are you saying? Again argument from ignorance it seems.

      Do you have any reference for this about humans only using a small part of our brain? I found this link upon searching for it on Google: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=people-only-use-10-percent-of-brain and it seems it’s only a myth.

      The facts of the Bible you say. How are those “facts” any different from the “facts” in the Qouran (for example)?

      So, earth being perched on the back of an elephant is nonsense, but an invisible, omniscient being isn’t? Well, I know earth being at the back of an elephant is nonsense, but it seems to me that so is the way God is defined in the Bible. Both are fantasies but for some reason you think one is real. And even if what you believe IS true, the definition of what you believe is indistinguishable from a fantasy as long as you don’t use science to prove it. Which leads on to this you said about using the brain that we have been “given”. Isn’t that exactly what Laurence Krauss (for example) is doing? He’s studying the objective physical world around us and then draws conclusions based on that. How else can you know that what you “find” is nothing else but but something that happens in your mind and is a product of your brain, i.e. subjective? I mean, just because someone think they are communicating with another dimension it doesn’t actually mean that they objectively do so, right?

      You wrote:
      “One last thought! It wasn’t my idea to refer to Krauss as a fool. The creator himself views humans that try to understand his creation without him as (“The senseless one). (Ps. 14:1) In fact he laughs at their attempts to challenge his power. (Ps. 2:2-4).””

      And this you think is a just and loving God? When a human uses his brain (just like you suggested) and by curiosity tries to figure out the world around him, God is laughing at him?! Allow me to laugh (or maybe I should cry…) how someone can think that is reasonable in the year 2013. You should immediately stop using the computer or whatever device you use to type your comments, because it is a product of trying to understand “Gods creation” (quantum mechanics).

      Something is not necessarily a fact nor is it true just because someone says it is. Therefore, I think you should stop quoting scripture. The quotes are not objective truths despite you thinking so. You’re free to believe it’s true of course, but as long as you don’t have any better reason for your believes than ”it seems credulous to me, therefore I believe” I’m not buying it. And in this case your scripture quotes in fact made me even more sceptic to the God of the Bible. :-/

      Well, it was nice discussing with you. I guess we’re done? Take care!

      • Russ Lynn Says:

        Sorry Martin, I posted my last response before I read you final one. I’ll quit bothering you! You too take care.

    • Russ Lynn Says:

      Well, I haven’t heard from you for a bit Martin so I figured I would comment on some other points you brought up about the Bible that seem to bother you. First of all, god wasn’t writing a science book. Like Lennox says, (and even though I think he makes some good points in his reasoning, he still lacks the complete picture, “understanding”), but he mentions you probably won’t get the point of the message by simply studying the chemical composition of the ink and paper!
      You seem to think god should have warned us about asteroids.
      You must be aware that he has given the earth a great deal of protection from them, (our atmosphere, other larger planets near by, etc.) I know you could argue that it is still possible for the earth to be hit, which it has, but how many of your friends have been killed by them?
      You also mention that he should have told us the earth revolves around the sun, or the stars are really not “fixed” in their positions. As I said, he wasn’t giving a science lesson! He was stating things as they “appear” to people from the earth. What difference would it make to a shepard if told the stars were moving very, very ,very fast, and that they were really suns but very, very, far away! We are well aware of this today but it doesn’t seem to effect our day to day activities. Also, how much have the constellations changed shape during the time you have been looking at them? And when a friend of your says he watched the sun come up, do you correct him and say, ” your so stupid.” We all know it just appears that way! And we can be greatful they do appear to be “fixed”. Thus we can use them for practical purposes, such as to tell time, location, etc.
      Before I quit for now I want to clarify that I wasn’t stating that Gen. 1:1 is discussing the Big Bang Theory. I just mentioned that because I thought that was a popular belief among scientists and that verse doesn’t rule it out!
      You also state there is alot of chaos in the visible universe that I felt was very orderly. I guess we have different views on that too. You see, I don’t care it its a collision of heavenly bodies or an exploding star, I feel its all part of a very orderly arrangement following exact laws that have been put in place. For example fire might seem chaotic if its burning down your house, but its following the same laws as when you use it to cook a meal or warm your feet! I’ll continue later about why there is such a contrast of Good & Bad on this planet. Waiting to hear from you:

      • a Martin Says:

        You weren’t bothering me! We’re having a conversation. :) I just asked if we’re done, since if you don’t have anything else than your scripture quotes and contradictory ”arguments” I don’t see that we will get anywhere. But I’d be happy to get any response from you on my previous post.

        You wrote:
        ”You seem to think god should have warned us about asteroids.”

        I brought it up as a strange thing to have asteroids flying around and eventually hitting earth if the universe was designed by an intelligent and all powerful being who can do whatever he wants. Also what I was arguing is not that God should have explained everything, rather that in the Genesis there’s no more info than what you would see if you simply looked around you.

        ”Also, how much have the constellations changed shape during the time you have been looking at them?”

        They have changed a lot, but not enough to be noticed by the human eye. That’s not the point. The point is (again) that there is nothing in the Genesis that says anything special.

        ”Before I quit for now I want to clarify that I wasn’t stating that Gen. 1:1 is discussing the Big Bang Theory. I just mentioned that because I thought that was a popular belief among scientists and that verse doesn’t rule it out!”

        No, how could it rule it out when it’s so incredibly vague and brings up nothing except the obvious? So saying basically nothing (and therefore not being wrong) you think it’s reasonable that it’s correct? What a strange way of reasoning…

        And Earth is protected on purpose? Sure if there would be no ”protection” at all from the UV rays, rocks etc. in space we wouldn’t be here talking about it. But why design a universe where Earth needs protection in the first place?

        I was also really baffled by your sentence about the asteroids where you wrote ”…how many of your friends have been killed by them?” My friends? What a narcissistic way of viewing things! And It’s like those who think it was a miracle that they survived a car accident when several others died. Well, what about those who died!?

        Maybe there were some friends lost in one ore more of these impacts: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impact_crater#Impact_craters_on_Earth

        Also, it makes me wonder. Do you think God controls all the asteroids? I wonder how he argues when steering one to hit Earth. Maybe he likes to see the splash?

        ”And when a friend of your says he watched the sun come up, do you correct him and say, ” your so stupid.” We all know it just appears that way!”

        Of course not. I don’t see what your arguing here.

        So, you’re saying that you don’t care about all the chaos, suffering and bad design decisions, because there’s some parts of it that are good. Way to go on the cherry picking…
        Sort of like ”how many of your friends have been killed by an asteroid?” ;)

        Can I ask you, how would a universe without a designer be in your eyes? You must admit that there are some thing that could be a lot better.

        ”I’ll continue later about why there is such a contrast of Good & Bad on this planet.”

        Please do. I’m sure I’ll find it amusing. :)

  50. Russ Lynn Says:

    Still glad to hear from you again. First of all I think we’re doing pretty good considering everything. That being said, I want to clarify a few things. (Seems we’re both doing that on occasion.) I don’t want to sound that I’m against science. I excelled in it in school simply because I loved it and still do. One problem I have is I don’t believe everything that’s put forth as pure, unbiased, research is really just that! I feel many of these guys start out with the idea (there is no god) and set out to “prove” just that regardless of what their research shows. They seem to bend things to fit what they what it to fit! Just to site one example presented by no other than Laurence Krauss that was on TV the other evening. He was stating the odds that would have to be beaten to end up with this livable earth. I was interested in that because that is one reason I believe that an intelligent outside power had to direct things. (He says that if you throw two dice wanting to get two sixes, the odds are against it! But, if you throw 1,000 dice the odds of getting numerous sixes are rather good!) That may be true, but what the heck does that prove? That doesn’t even begin to account for all the conditions necessary to come together for an earth filled with a variety of life.
    For that to happen you would have to have ALL 1,000 dice come up sixes and then do that 1,000 times in a row! Now your approaching the odds for such a thing to happen! That’s another reason I believe in the necessity of an outside intelligent force. For this earth etc. to come about purely by chance is not just improbable, its a MATHEMATICAL IMPOSSIBILITY!!
    I could go on and quote numerous very educated, intelligent people who feel the same but let me just mention one.
    Wernher von Braun who had much to do with sending American astronauts to the moon said as follows. “The natural laws of the universe are so precise that we have no difficulty building a spaceship to fly to the moon and can time the flight with the precision of a fraction of a second. These laws must have been set by somebody.” (Do you think he said this because he was dumb?)
    So, the point is, whether there is a God or not is far from proven either way!
    To answer another of your thoughts that Gen. 1:1 is very vague. It is only one short sentence and it certainly isn’t vague about WHERE everything came from! Remember, the Bible was written to inform us of things we WOULDN’T be able to figure out on our own. I believe one problem people have with belief in a creator is they have the tendency to simply view him as a impersonal force that just goes around building things for no particular reason. Now, I know you don’t like me quoting the Bible but bear with me for a bit. We’ve only discussed four verses out of more than 8,000 and your certainly able to disagree with any, or all of them if you choose. So, give me a chance!
    But, let me stop for now and see what your thoughts are. I know I haven’t covered all the points you brought up but I’m trying to make this more of a discussion then just trying to out talk each other.
    Just one more point about something you mentioned. When I asked why humans, who have a great desire to keep living, (look at the money they spend trying to extend their lives), live much shorter lives then other life forms who have no real concern with time, you said something about me thinking human life went on after death.
    I don’t re-call saying anything of the sort. That is another teaching of false religion, not the Bible. Please read (Eccl 9:4,5)
    and let me know what you think.

    • a Martin Says:

      In a way you are right. The default stance is (or should at least be) there is no god. Or it’s really not “no god” per se, but rather “there’s no anything” (in the sense of starting of with a clean mind) and then we let our observations discover what conclusions to make. I think you are incorrect that people such as Laurence Krauss have a preconceived idea that there is no god and then try to “prove just that regardless of what their research shows”. If things in Krauss’s work pointed to a supernatural being having to be involved I’m sure he’d be mentioning that! He seems like an honest guy.

      Which leads to the other thing. What the heck do you know of the odds for the Earth (or the universe) to be the way it is? Sixes on both dices 1000 times in a row. Really!? Compared to what? Do you know how many times the “dices” has been thrown? Eventually you *will* get sixes on both dices 1000 in a row. The Earth is about 4,5 billion years old (the universe about 13,7 billion years). That’s quite some time for things to happen. And mathemathically impossible compared to what? What do you know of the circumstances for our universe to come into existance? And why is so reasonable that it was created by an invisible omnipotent being that can get angry if things don’t go his way and kills innocent people just because others have behaved bad?

      You are (again) going for argument from ignorance, i.e. “it’s so incredible to me and/or I don’t understand it, therefore God did it”. The irony here is that no one really knows what God is, so saying “God did it” doesn’t really explain anything.

      It’s true that some scientist are religious (but they are relatively few). It is fully possible to be good at one thing and quite deluded on others. Newton (for example) I heard spent more time on alchemy than physics.

      Two quotes from Wernher von Braun:

      1. “What strange rationale makes some physicists accept the inconceivable electron as real while refusing to accept the reality of a Designer on the grounds that they cannot conceive Him”

      Not the same thing at all. There’s evidence for the existence of the electron. The designer is what you call the things you don’t (yet) know about. Why not just not leave it at “I don’t know”?

      2. “To be forced to believe only one conclusion–that everything in the universe happened by chance–would violate the very objectivity of science itself. What random process could produce the brains of a man or the system of the human eye?”

      Argument from ignorance galore.

      On this topic, check out this talk:
      Why Science and religion Shouldn’t Cohabit

      You wrote:
      “One problem I have is I don’t believe everything that’s put forth as pure, unbiased, research is really just that! I feel many of these guys start out with the idea (there is no god) and set out to “prove” just that regardless of what their research shows. They seem to bend things to fit what they what it to fit!”

      I think your totally off track here. Rather they start with the idea of “I don’t know, so lets do some research and see what the evidence leads to” and the evidence seems to show that there is nothing that makes a designer necessary. Nobody is set out to disprove any god, that’s quite hard since the idea of a god is indistinguishable from fantasy an thus non falsifiable. It’s all about finding out how things reallly are, not how you want them to be. I’d say it’s rather the other way around – the religious have the stance that God exists and the work from there. Like this: http://frankyvanherreweghe.files.wordpress.com/2008/03/ca230_1trever.gif

      “So, the point is, whether there is a God or not is far from proven either way!”

      True! That’s why we say we’re not sure that God doesn’t exist. But you must also agree that it is impossible to disprove something that don’t exist.

      The Genesis isn’t vague about where everything came from?Well, it is because you’re just pushing the question back one step saying “God did it”. Where did God come from and how do you know that it is true that he has always existed id that is what you’re about to say?

      And what this is it in the Bible that we wouldn’t figure out on our own? You’re sounding quite gullible in your reasoning now. No questioning or anything, just buying it “it’s true because it says so”.

      I didn’t mean you think human life goes on after death, but I do take it you believe the so called “spirit” or “soul” moves on. Or?

      I read Eccl 9:4,5 and that sounds quite atheistic and non-religious to me. :)
      What happened to heaven and the soul and all that? But I guess this verse is the opinion of the person or persons that wrote it and that it is contradicted elsewhere in the Bible. But you know about that better than me.

      Anyway, I don’t think something is meaningless just because it doesn’t last forever. During your lifetime you can have quite a lot of sense of meaning. That it all ends when you die doesn’t mean everything was meaningless at the time you enjoyed. Don’t you agree?

      • Bradley Says:

        Martin- Hello, while I dont want to hijack your conversation I feel compelled to respond to your comment regarding Krauss. You seem like quite the educated individual, yet naive when discussing Krauss. Let me give you an example.

        The following was taken from http://peterseanesq.blogspot.com

        Science writer John Horgan writes about Lawrence Krauss’s claim that everything came from nothing – and then interacts with Krauss in the comment section:
        I’m nonetheless going out on a limb and guessing that science will never, ever answer what I call “The Question”: Why is there something rather than nothing? You might think this prediction is safe to the point of triviality, but certain prominent scientists are claiming not merely that they can answer The Question but that they have already done so. Physicist Lawrence Krauss peddles this message in his new book A Universe From Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather Than Nothing (Free Press, 2012).

        Krauss’s answer is nothing new. Decades ago, physicists such as the legendary John Wheeler proposed that, according to the probabilistic dictates of quantum field theory, even an apparently perfect vacuum seethes with particles and antiparticles popping into and out of existence. In 1990, the Russian physicist Andrei Linde assured me that our entire cosmos—as well as an infinite number of other universes—might have sprung from a primordial “quantum fluctuation.”

        I took this notion—and I think Linde presented it—as a bit of mind-titillating whimsy. But Krauss asks us to take the quantum theory of creation seriously, and so does evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. “Even the last remaining trump card of the theologian, ‘Why is there something rather than nothing?,’ shrivels up before your eyes as you read these pages,” Dawkins writes in an afterword to Krauss’s book. “If On the Origin of Species was biology’s deadliest blow to supernaturalism, we may come to see A Universe From Nothing as the equivalent from cosmology.”

        Whaaaa…??!! Dawkins is comparing the most enduringly profound scientific treatise in history to a pop-science book that recycles a bunch of stale ideas from physics and cosmology. This absurd hyperbole says less about the merits of Krauss’s derivative book than it does about the judgment-impairing intensity of Dawkins’s hatred of religion.

        Philosopher David Albert, a specialist in quantum theory, offers a more balanced assessment of Krauss’s book in The New York Times Book Review. And by balanced assessment, I mean merciless smack down. Albert asks, “Where, for starters, are the laws of quantum mechanics themselves supposed to have come from?” Modern quantum field theories, Albert points out, “have nothing whatsoever to say on the subject of where those fields came from, or of why the world should have consisted of the particular kinds of fields it does, or of why it should have consisted of fields at all, or of why there should have been a world in the first place. Period. Case closed. End of story.”

        Krauss and Horgan “get it into it” in the comments:

        2. lawkrauss 9:38 am 04/23/2012

        Thank you Caleb.. I must say that this kind of silly piece from an author who also “went out on a limb” 20 years ago to say physics was over is rather telling… it is just about as cogent.. and demonstrates more an unwillingness to seriously consider the ideas I and others have raised than a desire to create some interest in his blog..
        Link to this

        3. jhorgan 10:43 am 04/23/2012

        Caleb and Lawrence, thanks for your comments. Larry, I’ll always be grateful to you for helping bring me up to speed on modern cosmology a dozen years ago when I was researching an article for Scientific American. And what’s disappointing is that, apart from the discovery of the acceleration of the cosmic expansion, which was certainly a big surprise, nothing has really changed since then. You and/or your popularizing colleagues–Hawking, Greene, Kaku, Susskind–are still marketing various unsubstantiated versions of inflation, multiverse theories, string theory, vacuum energy, anthropic principle, etc. What’s ironic is that, although you don’t have any more evidence for these speculations, your marketing of them has become more aggressive, a trend that I predicted in The End of Science. Even Caleb implicitly acknowledges that your book’s title oversells its actual content, and yet you accuse ME of hype. Come on Larry, face it, physics, at least in its grandest mode, is in big trouble.(emphasis added.)

        Which prompts a walk-back from Krauss:

        6. lawkrauss 11:09 am 04/23/2012

        John.. first, I didn’t make any definitive claims.. and I get offended when people claim I make such.. second I tried to indicate how much has changed in the last 22 years.. that is the purpose of the book.. things are dramatically different than they were then, and I went through a very careful analysis to describe these changes….. the analysis of fluctuations in the CMB, the discovery that the universe is flat.. these are REAL empirical discoveries that both impact upon and add credence to many of our ideas..
        Link to this

        7. jhorgan 5:37 pm 04/23/2012

        Larry, so you’re saying that you’re not claiming to have answered the question posed by your book’s title? You’re just tossing some ideas around, and you don’t expect anyone to take them too seriously? OK, that’s a useful clarification. It also means that things have not progressed in the last 22 years, in spite of what you just asserted. I think you better tell Dawkins, before he embarrasses himself further.(emphasis added.)

        At which point, Krauss apparently takes a powder and doesn’t respond.

        My point is this, while I dont believe that Krauss is as militant as Dawkins, I do believe that even if any evidence in Krauss’ work were to point to a Designer, Krauss would NOT be an “honest guy” about it. Many scientists are on record as saying they want to destroy faith/religion. I am not so sure many church and/or faith leaders are on record of saying the same thing. Many scientists loathe faith/religion. Is that not true? I only point this out because I seek to have a respectful AND intelligent discussion about faith and science.

      • Martin Bergström Says:

        @Bradley

        Sorry, this ended up quite long and scattered, (and I’m, repeating myself a few times) but I hope that’s okay. I have my mind focused on quite some other things at the moment, but here goes:

        I’m not naively clinging on to Krauss’ ideas with all I’ve got. Also, Krauss himself isn’t saying that his findings is a disproof of God. Dawkins is neither totally rejecting the existance of a deity. He doesn’t claim know everything.

        The thing is that you can keep asking the question “but where did that come from then?” for ever and ever in all eternity. But for some reason – without any evidence to support it – the theist thinks it’s reasonable that when it comes to God we don’t need to ask that question anymore because “God by definition has always existed”. Well, how do you know that? Because someone says so?

        To me it’s naive to not see that this idea of an omnipotent and eternal God is most probable a man made idea or “fantasy”. It’s hypothetical at best. And to me it doesn’t really answer any questions at all, but rather triggers more questions, such as why many things are the way they are if a loving and perfect being would have designed it all.

        I don’t think it’s unreasonable to have faith in some sense. Why? Because we don’t know (yet, if ever) the answer to everything. But you don’t make conclusions about what you don’t know. What I have a problem with is when people are defining this “unknown area” as God and giving him/her/it atributes and decides they have the right interpretation of how he wants humans to behave, why the world is the way it is, etc.

        Krauss himself is also in his book not saying that his ideas are for certain. That’s the whole idea with science– it’s open to change if you can show why it should change, whereas religion more is about personal interpretation, which isn’t falsifiable. One thing that points to this is Russ’ arguments about his religion being true and other’s being false. The only ”evidence” he has for his claim is his opinion “that I’m right” because my interpretation of this and that shows that I’m right. Well, what you think philosophically isn’t a good argument in the end. You have to be able to show *why* it is the way you think it is. And that’s where the science comes in. It’s the only somewhat objective tool we have when trying to explain the universe around us.

        Because of this, Krauss conclusions comes from studying the more or less objective physical world. The theist conclusions is more about philosophy and feelings. I think Krauss scientific approach – which is falsifiable and there for adaptable to change – is much more honest and open minded. The idea that he would not admit that some things would needed a designer if he find out it to be so I think is an insult without good ground. Of course you never know a persons intents to 100% and can therefore make all kinds of claims about what their actually agenda is, but there’s nothing that points to Krauss – or Dawknis for that matter – hiding findings. They (like me) want to know how things really are, and you don’t find that out by being gullible and thinking you’ve already figured it all out.

        The one who is truly naive is the one who thinks he – based on ignorance – can define what the unknown and not yet explainable is by calling it God and then have the right to decide that some religions are wrong, but the one he believes in is right. And it’s all based on no evidence at all but he’s own interpretation of things.

        Just the other day we had this singer Danny – who is quite well know here in Sweden – telling this story that to him was proof that God existed. When he was 16 he went to a Wyclef Jean concert with a friend and at some stage (no pun intended) they started inviting people up to the stage where the audience danced and joined the band. So Danny was very egoistic (his own words) said to himself ”God, if you exist I want to be on that stage”. And 10 minutes later he was up there playing and singing.
        Now, while I’m sure this was a big experience for him does this really prove anything? No! He might as well have replaced God with Santa Claus and still had gotten up on that stage. We don’t know that and therefore the kind of conclusion he made is not rational.

        I don’t think John Horgan is being very sympathetic there in that conversation. Just because what’s said in Krauss’ book isn’t an absolute certainty presenting those ideas (which empirical evidence points to) isn’t of value? John is also claiming that not much has happened in cosmology for the last 22 years. Comon! Just because the question of where the laws of quantum mechanics come from hasn’t been answered? And like I said above about the never ending question of ”where did this come from the”: if we would find the answer two where quantum mechanics came from you could just ask ”where did that come from then?” again. I don’t know about John Horgan, but to me it is baffling that for some people this question stops with ”God did it”. Why the question ”where did that come from then” ends with god doesn’t make any sense and it isn’t fair, because it implies that the base for everything can’t can’t be something natural, but it has to be supernatural. Why? You don’t know that.

        I’m not saying that there necessarily aren’t a god, but that there necessarily doesn’t have to be one. We don’t know. And the arguments people have for one is quite face palming, just cherry picking the ”good stuff” and then saying it must be designed by a supernatural being. Well., I don’t buy your ”indistinguishable from a fantasy, but you think it’s real” ideas. Not until you stop using feelings, gullabilty, argument from ignorance, arbitrary cherry picking and limited knowledge about science in general and physics in particular to support them.

        That is the problem with faith. It is belief without (proper) evidence. I can absolutely understand why Dawkins sees religion as a problem in society. That doesn’t mean that everyone who is religious is a problem and that everything about religion is bad for society. But in many ways it is. The basis for it isn’t rational and it gives room for all kinds of strange ideas basing it on ”God told me to…” or ”it says here in this verse”.

        It’s one thing to say that you ”believe in something” but to define what that something is (and wants) by choosing a particular religion (with all what that means) isn’t reasonable. It might be reasonable subjectively, but objectively it isn’t. I’m sorry.

        About the discussion about faith and science. I don’t see what kind of benefit science have from faith. Why do they need each other?

      • a Martin Says:

        I must say I do think religion can (or should if religious people are reasonable) learn a thing or two from science, but I’m not so sure about science learning from religion.

  51. Russ Lynn Says:

    Thought I had lost you Martin! Anyway, good to hear from you.
    Right now I have been trying to force myself to listen to the clip you sent me by Jerry Coyne. If a person looks into history it becomes quite obvious that MOST people always have been and still are wrong! Thus watching him show chart after chart to prove this seems at best a waste of time. I can’t believe he has spent so much of his time on something so obvious to any thinking person. Remember when I said “False Religion Poisons Everything” Well, he’s proving that very thing even though probably not entirely aware of it himself! (Just a side point that should encourage you to continue looking into the Bible. It shows that soon the governments will tire of religions constant meddling in their affairs and will join together to tear her apart!) To me this is more exciting than discussing how long before the sun burns out.

    To briefly cover your question about me possibly thinking we have some separate spirit or “soul” that continues on after we die. Again, another teaching of false religion, kind of a hand me down from Greek mythology. No, I believe what the Bible says at (Ezekiel 18:4). Also, during the creation of man as described at Gen. 2:7, note it doesn’t say man was GIVEN a soul, it states that that he BECAME a living soul. (One of the meanings for the Hebrew word translated soul means “breather”). Thus all breathing life can correctly be referred to as souls whether humans or animals.
    As you might be beginning to see, these religions are so ridiculous in their teachings its no wonder that most any rational thinking person would choose to believe ANYTHING as long as it wasn’t associated with some religion.
    One last thought about the Bible always being true while most people have always been wrong. Remember I said the Bible isn’t a science book, but interestingly when it touches on science it proves to be true regardless of the common thinking of the time!
    For a couple of examples; When the common thinking of the time was the earth was probably flat, the Bible indicated it was probably round, (Isa. 40:22). And when great thinkers of the time were trying to figure out what was holding the earth up, the Bible simply says God hung it upon nothing (as far as it would appear to a person from space), even though no person had observed it from space as of yet! (Job 26:7). Are all these just lucky guesses? We could go on but this is already longer then I intended. Let me know what you think.

  52. Russ Lynn Says:

    Didn’t mean to add more but I finally finished listening to that guy babble on and on about how stupid false religion is. I couldn’t agree more although I was probably aware of it long before he was. A couple of things caught my attention though. For one he said humans don’t really have free will.
    If this is true, how can they be held accountable by our judicial system for their actions. Whether they’re rapists, murderers or just plain jerks, they’re (as the saying goes) just dancing to their own DNA.
    Also you have fallen into the trap that ANYTHING is possible. You just need to add a good dose of INFINITY! If you think that you could eventually roll 1,000 sixes, I invite you to give it a try. If you rolled them till the end of time, it’s not going to happen! People from the scientific realm like to say nobody really knows anything for sure and I’m sure they don’t. Well, I know this for sure because it can be proven by the math. If you want to prove me wrong, give me some numbers.

    What made me think about this is that picture of a hand operated sausage grinder toward the end of his video. I knew of a person who worked in a factory that assembled these very things. This person said it consisted of 17 rather simple parts that it took the average person just a few minutes to assemble into a working meat grinder. He says he also knows that if you put those 17 parts in a box and shook it for the next 10 billion years, you would NEVER end up with a working meat grinder. Maybe a bunch of ball bearings, but no meat grinder. OK. I’m done again!

  53. Russ Lynn Says:

    Martin, I wasn’t intending to reply right now but when I read Bradley’s comment about you might be being “naive” by putting someone like Krauss up on a pedestal of unadulterated, pure unfailing HONESTY when you most likely never even met the guy, let alone know his most inward thoughts and feelings! Anyway, I just wondered how you felt about that? And remember, Krauss is kinda interested in selling books!

    But, while I’m back I might mention a few other things we were discussing. (Seems like we cover a whole lot of topics in a very short time but I still find it interesting.)
    I thought about your having a problem with god allowing the existence of asteroids. I don’t know if you have ever seen the documentary called “Meteor Men” but I found it interesting that these guys find great enjoyment searching for these things, finding them and then studying them. (They call it a “poor mans lab” because they don’t have to go into space to do this, these wonders come right to them! I wonder if they would agree with you that these cause a un-necessary threat to humans. Also, I must apologize because when I asked you how many of your friends have been killed by them, I was simply being sarcastic trying to show you could hardly consider them a threat to us. For example, compare deaths caused by asteroids to those caused by the automobile, or the machine gun, or the simple machete, or just plain smoking and asteroids don’t seem to be a huge problem.

    Two more points and I’ll quit for now. One is the Bible doesn’t refer to ones as fools for studying the wonders of creation. That is a good thing and as I said before, its one of the reasons he gave us the power of reason. Those he considers “fools” are those who do it to try and DISPROVE his existence because he knows they are destined to frustration and failure and basically make “fools” of themselves!
    One last point about you saying its possible to enjoy life even though its extremely brief. It seems to me that the only way anyone gets even a little enjoyment from things is because they try and block out the certainty of death, at least put it off into the distant future! This is somewhat possible because generally the exact moment of death is unknown and most would like to keep it this way. Then, there are a great deal of people who have hired others, (Churches), to convince them you don’t really die! You just migrate to another place! Well, I guess that’s not so bad! But tell me! How much do you think a person on death row ENJOYS his final meal?
    OK. I’m quitting before I think of something else.

    • a Martin Says:

      You wrote:
      ”If a person looks into history it becomes quite obvious that MOST people always have been and still are wrong!”

      You think that the message in Coyne’s talk?

      I think you’re (again) reading way to much into the phrases in the Bible – like you accused some of the scientific scientist of doing you adjust and do the interpretations as you see fit. What do you mean the earth hangs on nothing? Is the force of gravity nothing? The earth is not hanging in nothing!

      You wrote:
      ”Right now I have been trying to force myself to listen to the clip you sent me by Jerry Coyne. If a person looks into history it becomes quite obvious that MOST people always have been and still are wrong! Thus watching him show chart after chart to prove this seems at best a waste of time. I can’t believe he has spent so much of his time on something so obvious to any thinking person.”

      What are you talking about? He is showing points to why science and religion doesn’t really work well together and you take it as he’s trying to show that most persons through history has been wrong? What do you mean?

      ”Remember when I said “False Religion Poisons Everything” Well, he’s proving that very thing even though probably not entirely aware of it himself!”

      Again, what do you mean?
      You’re whimsical interpretations doesn’t make sense to me. ;)

      You wrote:
      ”(Just a side point that should encourage you to continue looking into the Bible. It shows that soon the governments will tire of religions constant meddling in their affairs and will join together to tear her apart!) To me this is more exciting than discussing how long before the sun burns out.”

      Again, the problem is your bias for the Bible. How can you think you have a clear mind when your clinging onto a book that you by personal interpretation has decided is the foundation for truth? I don’t get it, and I think it’s a bit scary.

      You wrote:
      ”To briefly cover your question about me possibly thinking we have some separate spirit or “soul” that continues on after we die. Again, another teaching of false religion…”

      Well, I’d say that a majority of the once I’ve talked to that call themselves Christian think that we have a soul and that it lives on after we die.

      ”Remember I said the Bible isn’t a science book, but interestingly when it touches on science it proves to be true regardless of the common thinking of the time!”

      The only thing the Bile is when it comes to scientific thing is VAGUE.

      It had been know long before the Bible that the Earth seemed to be round. Eratosthenes calculated the circumference of the earth: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eratosthenes

      You seem ignorant about how much was achieved before the Bible was written? It’s an old book, but not *that* old.

      So, you’re connecting ”God hung the earth upon nothing” to how it looks when seen out in space? Well, first of all gravity certainly isn’t nothing and it might have been that the person who wrote it just looked up at the sky and thought ”there is nothing the the earth hangs upon”.

      About the so call ”free will”. Even if your behavior depends on things you cannot control it doesn’t mean all kinds of behavior is okay. We still treat behavior as if it is that person is responsible, but should keep in mind that there are other things at play. It’s easy to say that a person always ”deep down” know when they do something bad just because *you* feel that way. It doesn’t mean other people’s brains work the same way. But of course that doesn’t mean we tolerate crime or abuse etc.
      Also, just because people are ”dancing to their DNA” (which is to simplify it a bit I think) doesn’t mean that they can’t be changed. Culture and the people around you affect behavior too.

      ”Also you have fallen into the trap that ANYTHING is possible.”

      Well, you have fallen into the trap that just because it’s not reasonable to your mind it’s not objectively reasonable. That’s not how it works. Some things are the way they are weather we like it or not. Now I’m bringing up Krauss again, but he said something I think is really good:

      ”Logic, derives from empirical reality, it doesn’t derive from your brain”

      So, you have to experiment and test things to be able to see if your so called logic works in the real world. Just because you think something sounds illogical i doesn’t have to be so. For example the finding that particles can be at more than one place at a time. Does that sound logical to the human ”down to earth” brain? No, but that’s still the way it is.

      Now on to this about the dices. Again, you are just showing that because you can’t comprehend it with your mind a some supernatural being must have been involved. And for some reason that makes sense to you.

      Let me make another quote, this time by zoologist George Gaylord (funny name) Simpson:

      ”An event that is not absolutely impossible becomes probable if enough time passes”

      So, this with the dices will happen eventually. I’ll see if I can get some numbers. I’m not that good at math, but have a few friends that are. Anyway, I don’t know why we are talking about this, because neither you nor I know about the circumstances of what and how the big bang was triggered.

      Which moves us on to the next topic where you seem to compare the circumstance s and chance of this universe coming into existence with a 17 piece meat grinder!?
      You think how things behave things on particle leves is
      Well, of course it’s true that putting these 17 pieces in a box and shaking them would most probably end up deforming all the parts and thus not producing any grinder, but if all parts would be stay intact, and there is the slightest change of it to happen it eventually will. Anyway, there’s no point in doing this kind of comparison. We’re talking about very different things.

      Like I wain my response to Bradley, I’m not naively putting up to Krauss. You’re the one who is naive who believe vague phrases from the Bible are explaining reality and giving them credit without any evidence at all. One of my favorites it that you simply by into the book being the word of God just because it says so in it.

      No, I don’t know Krauss’ ”most inward thoughts and feelings” but that’s true for every other person in the world, so I don’t know what you’re trying to say here. That Krauss ”knows” things are different than he says but he keeps lying to sell books?
      What a cheap accusation. We have to go by people’s actions and Krauss’ augments are evidence based. He can show and explains why he says what he says. That don’t mean his ideas are written in stone, but compared to the ”arguments” of the theologians which are more based on personal feeling I think it’s easy to see who is more honest and at least more open minded.

      Your arguments about the asteroids is also very wired. So, because many biologists find it fascinating to study and try to understand and prevent cancer, that’s why God created it? How thoughtful and kind of him! Hemorrhoid, why did God create them? Worms eating into the the eyeballs of a kid turning him blind before he’s five years old: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=D1-x1zGb6dM#t=411s

      And asteroids don’t impose a threat you say? What about the meteoroid that recently hit Russia and produced a shockwave that shattered glass in the faces of people standing by the window looking at its streaks in the sky? And what about the asteroid that just zipped by us that was so close it could even be seen with binoculars if looking at the right spot? Asteroids do impose a threat. Of course it’s not often that they do collide with Earth, but of course they impose a threat. And you start comparing the asteroids to automobiles and machine-guns… Well, like asteroids are the only nasty things that should make you think twice about everything being designed by an all loving and caring God? It was just one example that I brought up showing that the Earth and the universe isn’t at all that hospitable. What about all the natural catastrophes? Volcanos that spits lava, thunderstorms and moving tectonic plates that create earthquakes, etc.

      ”Those he considers “fools” are those who do it to try and DISPROVE his existence because he knows they are destined to frustration and failure and basically make “fools” of themselves!”

      Who is trying to disprove god? First of all It’s impossible to disprove something that don’t exist. Also science is (like I think you said) more about how things work, not why. And like I said in my reply to Bradley, you can keep asking the ”where tie that come from then” question forever. So now when science has shown things that points to universes being created without the need for a deity you can od course still ask ”but what’s behind that?”. And then when you get to no the answer to that you ask ”but what’s behind that?” again. And so on. But I guess you’re happy with ”God has always existed” and stop asking ”where did he come from then?” when you hear that. To me this is pure irrationality and inconsistent reasoning.

      Oh, my this is really getting to long. Maybe we should try to focus on one thing? Why not go with evolution. What’s your stance on evolution?

      • Russ Lynn Says:

        Martin, I was surprised to hear from you! I thought after all these jabs we’ve been throwing back and forth you would have given up talking with me. Anyway, I agree with you that we need to narrow down our discussion somewhat. I’m fine with discussing evolution. Only first I wanted to clear up a couple of things I gathered from your last response.
        Two questions: First do you believe (ANYTHING) is eternal?
        Next, Do you believe there may be an all-powerful creator,(god)?
        Just as a point of discussion. If you doubt the existence of god, you must by default believe that any religion is wrong. Thus as I said, (because most people have had in the past and still do have some religious belief), they must be WRONG! I think that’s in line with what I said previously! Also, the fact that most supposed Christians you have encountered believe in a separation of body & soul, does that in anyway make it true?
        Also, I wasn’t implying Coyne or Krauss were liars. I simply stated they were interested in selling books. (You know, “Buyer Beware)”.

      • a Martin Says:

        Okay, I’m back… :)
        Been doing some other things. Hope you’re fine.

        I don’t know if anything is eternal. Mathematics don’t seem to have a problem with infinites, so yet. Maybe there is something that is eternal.

        I know that I can’t be certain of anything. I’m not certain there aren’t an ”all-powerful creator, god”. But I think it’s unlikely. Like I’ve said previously I think many design decisions (and design flaws) that see on Earth and in the universe are questionable and I think it would be strange if this is something a loving and caring almighty creator would create if being good is the intent. Too much suffering and nasty stuff. What I find highly likely though is that humans has invented the concept of god and it is often used to replace things we don’t understand (which history has shown). For example god where used to ”explain” phenomena that couldn’t be explained, such as fire and earthquakes and the Sun etc.

        So, yes. I do think religious belief is wrong. It makes claims about things that are unknown and the objective evidence is zero. It’s all subjective experiences and ideas and there are so many different interpretations of what God is and what he/she/it likes. It is also quite arbitrary which religion you belong to, since where you’re born and your legacy affects what you think is true. There’s quite some different interpretations of what god is, wants and likes all over the world. Not much consensus except that he’s non-physical, just like all imaginary things. ;)

        ”Also, the fact that most supposed Christians you have encountered believe in a separation of body & soul, does that in anyway make it true?”

        Absolutely not. Nothing is necessarily true no matter how many thinks it is. Something is only objectively true ones you can show it to other people, and at this stage the best tool for this is the physical world we all share. The rest is arbitrary. Therefore the scientific and evidence based approach is the best way to determine if something is objectively true or not.

        I’m sure both Coyne and Krauss wants to sell books, but I’m just as sure that isn’t there main intention.

      • a Martin Says:

        Let me ask you two things back:

        1. Do you think it’s possible with a universe with conscious beings without a creator? If not, how can you know and aren’t you a bit biased since you’re one of these conscious beings in a universe? ;)

        2. Do you agree that just because you think something is certain in your head it doesn’t necessarily make it true? I absolutely agree. I know that I don’t know. I’m just rejecting your (rather specific) claim that there has to be a creator.

  54. Rule of Logic: Hitler Is Not A Valid Argument | saralinwilde Says:

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  55. Russ Lynn Says:

    Hi again Martin; To answer your two questions. The answer to question #1: No! And no doubt I am biased. Isn’t everybody about things they believe!
    Question #2: Yes! Just because a person believes something isn’t what makes it true.

    I liked your quote from Krauss that “Logic derives from emperial reality, it doesn’t derive from your brain”

    That is one reason I put my trust in the Bible. By comparing what it says to what I see in this world, EVERYTHING makes sense. On the other hand, by not believing it, NOTHING makes sense.

    Add to this that it is the only book that logically explains three big questions any reasoning person would want to know the answer to!
    Where did we come from? Why are we here? And where are we going? If you ask a evolutionary scientist these questions you get these answers. We don’t know, We don’t know, and we don’t know!
    So, because they don’t have a clue, its irritating to them that someone else may have!

    As far as my stand on evolution I don’t think I can put it any better then David Berlinski when he stated “Its a preposterous idea with little evidence!” I would only change one word. “NO” evidence!
    After all, how can you have evidence for something not true?
    Last of all. If it was remotely true, it would have quit being discussed years ago, just like we quit discussing if the earth is round or flat!

    • a Martin Says:

      Well, maybe everyone are bias, but some are more aware of their bias than others and can therefore look at themselves from a larger perspective. Anyway, my point was that since you are a conscious being it becomes easy for many to get the feeling that they are special. And that feeling in and of itself doesn’t necessarily have to mean anything. That was what I meant. And you didn’t answer the most important part of the question: *how* can you know that a universe with conscious beings can exist without a creator? Well, you can’t. And you don’t.

      Maybe a followup to question number two then. Do you agree that for something to be objectively true the best tool we have is science and the reason for it being the best tool is that when you have an idea you test it (rigorously) and try to falsify it. Your write a paper where you explain why you think something is true and then it is peer-review and looked at from many angles before it is considered to be true. And even then – after it’s considered true – it’s open for falsification.

      Now, how does religion and faith fit in to this way of determining what is true and not? I don’t think it does. When it comes to faith and religion the major things that shape your beliefs are about about legacy, interpretation and subjectivity.

      You think the Bible makes sense to you when you compare it to the world? Well, I don’t know what to say. Can you give a few specific examples? You do know that Adam and Eve has been shown to be incorrect? Humans did not descend from two common ancestors, there’s too much genetic diversity among human for that to be reasonable. Also, 6000 years in the bible has been falsified. I know that christians often twist themselves here and say that we don’t know what kind of years is being talked about in the Genesis on the Bible (c’mon…). Anyway, what non question-begging things are there in the Bible that makes you think it’s true? What is it that makes it logical? A few examples perhaps.

      ”Where did we come from? Why are we here? And where are we going? If you ask a evolutionary scientist these questions you get these answers. We don’t know, We don’t know, and we don’t know!”

      Yes, and that’s humble, humble and humble! Remember that you yourself agreed that just because you think something is true it necessary isn’t?

      ”So, because they don’t have a clue, its irritating to them that someone else may have!”

      So says the muslims too. There’s no difference between them and you. You think the Bible makes sense of the world and they think the Quran does the same for them. This is why religions is subjective! There’s no consensus. In science there is consens. Which leads to the last part…

      …evolution. There is no evidence for it!? You can’t be serious. You just… can’t. If there’s no evidence for evolution then the evidence for the Bible being true is, well. Less than zero. How you can say that there’s no evidence for evolution is just baffling. Berlinksi is baffling if he has that opinion.

      What kind of evidence do you want?

      I will quote the back of the book ”Why Evolution is True” by Jerry A. Coyne here: ”No-one would think of writing a book today on the evidence for atoms, or for the Earth going around the sun. So why, when evolution is being reconfirmed every day, and forms the backbone of modern biology, do we need a book entitled Why Evolutions is True? Because evolution is different. No other area of science has been subject of such angst, such misunderstanding, or such deliberate misinformation”.

      I mean, there’s A LOT of evidence for evolution. And it’s falsifiable. In fact, if you did falsify it you’d probably win the Nobel prize. Anyway, I think you should read that book ”Why Evolution is True”. Let me know if you wan’t me give you some evidence for evolution and I’ll do it. It’s getting too long…

      One question:

      1. What about the Epic of Gilgamesh and the influence on the Bible from that? Why don’t you think Enkidu was created by the gods? It says there that he was! That makes it true, right? ;)

  56. Russ Lynn Says:

    Hi again; Like you, I try to keep these replies somewhat short to keep from rambling and we can always add more later.

    I think I’ll work backwards through your last response.
    The Epic of Gilgamesh had no more influence on the Bible then the story of Peter Pan and Captain Hook! Probably the majority of stories written and told are based on the struggle between good and evil, whether fables from times of old or modern day novels of the continuing fight between cops & crime. It has been put into the same category as most other fairy tales and fables by those who read or write these things, (pure fiction). Please read (Eccl. 12:12) and tell me what you get from it.

    The point you make that someone is simply being humble by admitting they don’t know something could very well be true in some cases. I always liked Hitchen’s thought that he considered a persons intelligence based on their awareness of how ignorant they really were! That may have some merit, but to me what’s more important is WHY are they ignorant?

    To illustrate, it may at first seem to be a sign of humility for an adult to admit that they can’t read, (illiterate). But to me what’s more important is WHY can’t they read? If you found out it was simply because they were too lazy to put forth the necessary time and effort, or perhaps they felt people who could read and write were just arrogant snobs, or maybe they belonged to a club where it was a requirement to be illiterate, would you still feel they were just humble people, or maybe just stupid?

    Anyway, a couple of points that give me confidence in the Bible.
    Just about everyday you run across articles stating how the life span of humans is increasing. Today the life expectancy for humans is around 70 or 80 years. Well this life expectancy was
    stated in the Bible 3500 years ago. (Ps. 90:10) So today, after thousands of years of research and progress not to mention all the doctors, medicines and miracle drugs where are we at. About 70 or 80 years.
    Another prophecy stated that Cyrus a Persian leader would be used by God to overthrow the mighty nation of Babylon which held God’s people captive and allow them to return and rebuild their homes in Jerusalem to demonstrate some of His power. (This was recorded some 200 years before Cyrus was even born!)

    It also foretold the rise and fall of all the world powers and ends with the LAST ONE, the seventh world power, made up of the combination of the United States and its long time partner, Great Britain. It also foretold of the creation of the League of Nations after WWI by the nations to try and prevent anymore wars as horrible as it was. Well, twenty years later it collapsed during the beginning of WWII which as approximately ten times worse. It then foreseen the United Nations taking its place after the war ended, but likewise proving unable to achieve its lofty goals of world peace and many other noble ideas. (Its amusing the Bible refers to these promises by politicians as (“the mere croaking of frogs”).

    ( As you stated, you could give a lot of examples of evolution. Likewise I can give more examples of why I believe the Bible, but this is already longer then I intended.)
    So, tell me what you think so far and give me some of your examples of evolution.

  57. a Martin Says:

    Hmm.. I can’t seem to post what I want.

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  60. Christopher Hitchens Debate Reviews: The Good | manicstreetpreacher Says:

    […] (Video).  Post-cancer diagnosis, Hitchens debates New Atheism “flea” critic Berlinski, who Richard Dawkins had previously speculated could well fall into the “wicked” category (as opposed to the “ignorant”, “stupid” or […]

  61. I am complimented | manicstreetpreacher Says:

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  62. Gary Says:

    So what does wicked mean? Isn’t everything relative? Isn’t there moral relativity?

  63. Victor Says:

    For someone who exhibits such childish obsession over whether audiences are on his side or not (see dawkin’s petty and erratic behavior during his Q&A debate in Australia and his follow up rantings during his stage show with lawrence krauss in which he continued to wail about his delusional perceptions of audience bias against him), richard dawkins is exuding the height of hypocrisy in this critique of his over a clever, astute and funny act by Berlinski. Dawkins never seizes to amaze me with his hypocrisy and pettiness.

    • manicstreetpreacher Says:

      Thank you for your comments, Victor. Your points in order:

      This was posted when I was a more enthusiastic follower and defender of Richard Dawkins and the New Atheism. I have been blogging less frequently and have been rediscovering my love of cinema, cycling, the great outdoors and life away from a computer screen. Most of my recent posts on religion cover the works of Sam Harris and occasionally the late Christopher Hitchens.

      I still admire RD, but I haven’t read his last couple of books and find some of his comments and Tweets in the last few years rather bemusing. I won’t say a word in defence over his “Elevatorgate” comment on P Z Myers’ blog. I haven’t seen Dawkins’ recent discussions with Lawrence Krauss.

      According to this commenter above, Berlinski once told Krauss informally and off the record that he does not really believe in Intelligent Design; what he does believe in is the fat cheques that the Discovery Institute writes him.

      MSP

  64. Victor Says:

    [Quote] I can only assume that Berlinski had forgotten about the events of September 11, 2001 when he was writing this passage. This was an outrage carried out by people who were thinking only too much of what heaven would think of them. Hopefully, the more recent events on the Moscow tube will jog his memory.[Quote\]

    This is an extremely dishonest rebuttal that you have made. The fact that some people may be deluded enough to think that God is telling them to do evil things DOES NOT MEAN that the concept of a moral and righteous God (for those who hold to different conceptions of God) does not serve as an extra inhibitor against immoral behavior for many people. I’m always fascinated by the insistence of militant atheists like yourself to deny that religion or the belief in a moral God might have some forms of positive outcomes for (some) people.

    [Quote] Appealing to authority and credential inflation are common tactics of creationists and Intelligent Design proponents.[Quote\]

    Tearing down and spitting upon the impressive credentials of people who disagree with them is a common tactic of militant atheists like yourself.

    [Quote]Ben Stein, went to great lengths to hold out Berlinski as an example of a smart guy who believed in Intelligent Design in order to give it some credibility.[Quote\]

    Are you a mind reader? How do you know what Ben Stein intentions were? He seemed to me to be doing the sensible thing by asking for the opinions of the most intelligent and knowledgeable people he could find for BOTH SIDES. What else would you rather have him do… ask some bum on the street why he doesn’t believe in evolution?

    [Quote]However, all Berlinski succeeded in doing was to be a particularly obnoxious and unlikeable character.[Quote\]

    Perhaps in your eyes. He certainly didn’t come across that way to me and virtually every person who isn’t a militant-atheist I know of who saw the film. He really did come across as a very smart and well spoken guy. And…by the way…I’ll bet he came across that way to you yourself. So please quit this dishonest way of talking. I know it is difficult when you have such strong emotions over the issue. But at least try.

    • manicstreetpreacher Says:

      “This is an extremely dishonest rebuttal that you have made.”

      I don’t think so. I was simply rebutting Berlinski’s charge that thinking that God can see what you are doing will prevent you from committing mass murder.

      You only have to turn on your TV or open a newspaper to see the nonsense in Berlinski’s assertion.

      “Tearing down and spitting upon the impressive credentials of people who disagree with them is a common tactic of militant atheists like yourself.”

      I do not doubt that Berlinski is a smart guy. What I and many others have called into question is his asinine championing of ID.

      And please don’t label me as a “militant atheist”.

      “Passionate atheist”, “vocal critic of religion”, “committed secularist” I can live with, but there is nothing “militant” about my disbelief in your imaginary god.

      Militant Christians murder abortion doctors.

      Militant Muslims fly planes into buildings.

      Militant atheists write books and articles.

      Where’s militancy in that?

      “Are you a mind reader? How do you know what Ben Stein intentions were?”

      You claim to have seen Expelled for yourself. Have you seen any of the publicity that Stein did for the film? Stein’s motivations and intentions are abundantly clear. There is minimal of “connecting the dots” required from me.

      “Perhaps in your eyes. He certainly didn’t come across that way to me and virtually every person who isn’t a militant-atheist I know of who saw the film.”

      Yes, it is my opinion. I am entitled to it. And there’s nothing you can do about that.

      It was also the opinion my many of my other atheist friends who saw the film.

      None of them murder abortion doctors or fly planes into buildings either.

      Berlinski called Dawkins “a crummy philosopher” without saying a word by way of explanation as to why Dawkins’ philosophical arguments are bad. He also called Dawkins “a little bit of a reptile”.

      I don’t think I have ever heard any prominent atheist commentator engage in such petty schoolyard name calling.

      I won’t deny that they can be mocking, ridiculing and satirical towards their opponents, but only when they have been confronted with an absurd statement and even then they always explain why their opponent’s position is absurd.

      MSP

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