Insular Beliefs

At the risk of overgeneralizing, I have found that one of the hallmarks of some of the more fervent religions is a tendency to become very insular in their beliefs. By insular, I mean that once they have reached the point where they feel that their beliefs are correct, where there is no going back and re-examining them, and where there is nothing that could be presented to them to change their beliefs, they seem to fall into a certain insular mode where they metaphorically stick their fingers in their ears and sing “la-la-la-la-la” in order to drown out anything that contradicts them. It’s the intellectual equivalent of an armadillo rolling into a ball, or a turtle tucking its body into its shell. They effectively pull down the shutters, turn on the white noise, and block out all dissent. The odd thing is that they would gladly admit this. It’s a defensive measure to prevent the loss of belief.

I saw this recently over at a Christian blog called Defending Contending (they like to shorten it to DefCon, which has a particularly melodramatic militaristic ring to it, don’t you think?). Some of us in the comments to the last post alluded to it a little. One of the “editors” is a guy calling himself the Desert Pastor, though there are others. I have not read the entire blog, but instead got involved with Philly on this particular post. At one point I even left a comment supporting him, which was “moderated” out of existence, most likely because I violated their Rules Of Engagement.  For anyone who values reason, intelligence and a free exchange of ideas, #6 just has to make you laugh.

6). We will not tolerate your intolerance of our intolerance.

As you can see, the members of this little circle jerk are very insular, and the blog is designed to be self-insulating. They have no use whatsoever for constructive criticism, most likely because they don’t believe any criticism is constructive. They seem to have assumed that if one criticizes their beliefs, it’s automatically destructive. They have turned off the ebb and flow, give and take of ideas, preferring all ebb and give. Ideas are allowed to flow one way only.

The sole purpose of the blog, so it seems, is to simply reinforce their beliefs. They have no need for any ideas counter to those in their Super Book. If anyone happens to pop in and question their beliefs in a way that might actually cause a person with a brain to question them, they are summarily ushered from the blog. The Desert Pastor as much as admits this:

I banned PhillyChief’s last comment because it did not add to the conversation and was clearly a blatant attempt to spread what he believes and not designed to gain an understanding of what we believe.

I’m sure they couldn’t care less about what I think (their moderation of my comment being Exhibit A) but this just offends my sensibilities, and is particularly insulting to my intelligence. As I’ve said ever since I started writing this blog, I want to know whether I am right. I offer my somewhat mediocre musings to test my thinking. The way to test whether your thinking is right is to open it up to everyone, and allow it to be bashed, pulled, stretched, poked and prodded to see if it survives. If it does, then it can be provisionally accepted as somewhat valid. If not, then it should be discarded.  Either way it is the free exchange of ideas that leads to truth, not the blind adherence to a book written thousands of years ago, that contradicts itself more than it agrees with itself, and that can only be adhered to with the help of a relentless application of pretzel logic.

So, it’s all about preaching, and nothing about learning.  The whole point of attracting readers to their blog is to maintain rigid belief, and if you go there with a contrary belief, you are banned. They even had a problem with accepting criticism from other Christians, specifically our buddy cl. You can’t get more insular than that.

If you read the Garrido post, and all the comments, the only conclusion you can justify is that the lemmings who follow the blog look to have their beliefs reinforced. The blog, therefore, is a excellent example of the defensive, insular nature of Christian belief.

Even the name of the blog confirms that.

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102 thoughts on “Insular Beliefs

  1. I have known of many xtian sites like that. Heck, I am on a music site that is so tightly moderated that you can not express an opinion about another type of music. It is one of the most vanilla groups, no spark, no discussion. They allow nothing more than back-patting, often with themselves. And they are usually quick to cut off the cancer of any outside idea!! So sad.

  2. A perfect example of this insulation is currently on display over at Pharyngula regarding the necessity of accepting as fact every part of the Mormon doctrine in order to understand the history of the church (cult?). The last paragraph quoted

    . . . regardless of what other training an individual possesses, he cannot comprehend and write or teach the true history of this church. The things of God are understood only by one who possesses the Spirit of God.

    Sounds like the same philosophy. Unless you believe exactly what we believe, you cannot understand us. If you cannot understand us, you cannot criticize us. If you do understand us, you will not be able to criticize us because you will agree with us. And even if you agree with us, if you don’t believe exactly the same thing, and thus cannot understand us, then, even though you think you agree, you really don’t because agreement comes through strict orthodoxy. Heterodoxy is not allowed. Or (most likely) even understood.

    You use the term ‘insular.’ I’d say incestuous.

  3. The irony is the excuse given for banning was incorrect. All I kept doing was ask questions, and the comment that didn’t get published was again asking a question regarding how it’s possible to reconcile two previous answers that were given. How is that not trying to understand them?

    Of course if your attempts to understand them inadvertently reveals inconsistencies and/or if you ask too may questions and don’t jump on board the crazy train singing “halleluia” fast enough, then clearly you’re either a troublemaker or an idiot, for it should be quickly evident how incredibly awesome and correct their beliefs are.

    Comment moderation and bannings are signs of weakness.

  4. Unfortunately, that’s extremely common and I’ve learned that it’s utterly pointless to try to debate religion in the religionist’s domain. When they’re in charge, they are going to turn it into a circle jerk most of the time, simply because they can. That’s why I don’t post on any theist blogs at all, ever. If they want to debate, they can come to a neutral site where everyone has to follow the same rules. Otherwise, they can sit in their mutual masturbation society all day and sing praises all by their lonesomes, I don’t care.

    I agree with Philly that comment moderation, at least for things other than spam and outright insult, is a sign of weakness, but theists are weak and they don’t even know it.

  5. Or maybe they do know it. For as long as that jackass thought he had an answer for me, he had no trouble publishing my comments. Once he was without an answer, then that was that.

  6. On Atheists & Censorship

    SI,

    Bravo for that first paragraph. I was nodding and saying “Yep” the entire time. But,

    ..where they feel that their beliefs are correct, where there is no going back and re-examining them, and where there is nothing that could be presented to them to change their beliefs,

    No offense, but that’s exactly the perception I got from you in your “On the Existence of God” post. You say the way to test our thinking is to allow it to be bashed, pulled and prodded, yet when people do, you recoil defensively. I pointed out legitimate flaws with your definition of evidence – which you eventually admitted – but then you refused to go any farther. I think those ideas of yours need to be tested further.

    As far as DefCon goes, I’m taken some licks over there myself. I didn’t realize they’d deleted your comment as well. I remember seeing it when I first went over there. Still, don’t get too carried away in criticizing DefCon for their censorship-leanings, as just last week found yourself in similar shoes.

    I offer my somewhat mediocre musings to test my thinking. The way to test whether your thinking is right is to open it up to everyone, and allow it to be bashed, pulled, stretched, poked and prodded to see if it survives.

    Your musings are better than that, SI, but you’re right – that is the way to test our thinking, and if cold logic is the goal, it’s always best when we cast emotions aside.

    They even had a problem with accepting criticism from other Christians, specifically our buddy cl. You can’t get more insular than that.

    There you go throwing labels around again. How many there do you think accept the Holy Eightfold path? As a famous skeptic once asked, what’s a Christian? (bonus points if you can tell me the famous skeptic) Lastly, whatever I “am” aside, they don’t think I’m Christian. After all, I got an award from an atheist website [Gasp!]. I think that’s why they’re having trouble accepting my criticism – because there’s an imaginary wall – the “us-and-them” thing.

    Philly,

    Comment moderation and bannings are signs of weakness.

    I could not agree more [chuckles at the irony..]

    Cephus,

    I agree with Philly that comment moderation, at least for things other than spam and outright insult, is a sign of weakness, but theists are weak and they don’t even know it.

    I agree that many theists enable moderation and banning. However, if what you’re saying is true, then many atheists are also weak and apparently not aware of the fact.

  7. Darn. I was going to say “In before cl posts and says ‘LOL SOUNDS FAMILIAR’,” but I seem to be too late.

  8. Lastly, whatever I “am” aside, they don’t think I’m Christian.

    No, they know you are a Christian. They don’t think you’re a “true Christian”. Big distinction. That’s important to them. The problem is, they are the sole arbiter of the definition.

    That was the substance of my comment they deleted. They don’t realize that their entire existence is just one big fallacy.

  9. There’s a difference between wanting to kick someone out because they’re making you look bad versus because they’re being a douche, but it’s still a sign of weakness if you can’t handle either, albeit they’re different kinds of weaknesses. One is a weakness of position or ability to argue, whereas the other is a weakness in creativity or patience. In my experience, the majority of the former are Christians and the majority of the latter are atheists.

    In other words TOG, what sounds familiar isn’t. 🙂

  10. I would add that consistent descent into ad hominem argumentation is also a great way to mask weakness of position and inability to argue, and that you yourself are indeed the “Chief” in this regard!

  11. ..they know you are a Christian.

    SI, how can they know if I sometimes wonder myself? No person can know whether or not another person is saved – period. The best we can do is evaluate their behavior and see how closely it matches our expectations of what a “Christian” is.

  12. SI, how can they know if I sometimes wonder myself?(cl)

    If you are a follower of Christ you are a Christian. Its a title you give yourself. Its not like you can follow any of the teachings perfectly because as a Christian you realize you are imperfect.
    I, on the other hand am perfect. Perfectly imperfect that is. 😉

  13. Here‘s another, enlightening quote from that same thread, from the Pastors Wife:

    I also was wondering how true believers (people after God’s own heart) could leave the gospel. Hmmmmmm… NOT POSSIBLE! The Holy Spirit is the one that keeps a believer…we don’t keep ourselves!

    Explicitly, they feel that they don’t have control over their own beliefs. It’s the Holy Spirit’s responsibility. So they don’t really have to think about what they beleive – just beleive, and the Holy Spirit will take care of everything.

    Of course, that prevents them from even contemplating the very existence of the Holy Spirit.

    I believe in the Holy Spirit because the Holy Spirit makes me believe in the Holy Spirit.

    No circular reasoning there.

  14. “So they don’t really have to think about what they beleive – just beleive, and the Holy Spirit will take care of everything.”

    Well, you’re finally growing a brain, eh, Shyster? That’s about it, in a nutshell. And, here, I thought this stuff was just to far advanced for your simian mind!

    The Spirit is what makes a Christian. The Spirit enables a flawed human being to obey the dictates of a holy God, as no human is able, on their own, to obey Someone Who is inherently perfect.

    The Spirit empowers us after the initial justification afforded us by Christ, Who paid the debt humanity owed for disobedience, and, now, it is His Spirit that lives in us, initially obeying for us. When Christ returns, all will receive new life and bodies… they will achieve glorification, having already been justified through Christ.

    Until then, the righteous are “justified by faith”, as the apostle Paul stated. Until glorification, there can be no other state for a believer.

    I realize a worldly, hard-bitten infidel like you, simply cannot fathom releasing control to an ‘unseen’ deity, but, if you want to live eternally, that is the price you must pay. Despite what you think of me, I tell you the truth. Your worldly reasoning will never fathom the Almighty or His ways. Never!

    It is only through the Spirit and it’s controlling and revitalizing influence, that anyone can be freed from the power of sin.

  15. Sorry, I just don’t see many atheists censoring posts. I see them deleting abusive, insulting posts, I see them deleting spam, but intelligent, well-written posts from theists asking questions? I can’t say I’ve seen that. Most of us atheists would kill for an intelligent theist commenting on our blogs.

  16. I would only delete spam. I allow abusive, insulting posts because if that’s all they’ve got, then they’re positions are weak and they’re essentially broadcasting to the world that fact, and I”m happy to oblige them. 🙂

    Now of course I indulge in abuse, but here’s why it’s not the same. An ad hominem is an argument which links the validity of your opponent’s argument to their character. I, on the other hand, see insults as icing on the cake. Let’s see some examples:

    Everything you say is bullshit because you’re an ignorant fuck. – ad hominem

    Arguing that when comparative religions are taught in school that your preferred religion should be presented as superior to the others is not religious freedom, but rather an infringement of the freedom of religion of everyone who doesn’t subscribe to your religion, you ignorant fuck. – icing on the cake

    If the insult is all you’ve got, then you’re committing an ad hominem. If the insult is warranted by your argument, then it’s icing.

    Have a nice day, fuckers! 🙂

  17. I have to agree with Cephus (pussy that I am, lol!) and say – I really can’t believe this. cl – you get around to a lot of blogs (I take it). Are you honestly contending that your experience is that atheist blogs are every bit as unconcerned with free-speech as Christian (or other theist) blogs?

    Let’s just take this DefCon as one example. Even the atheist blogs you’ve had problems at certainly did not shut you out of the conversation as quickly or with such little reason as what was done to Philly. Honestly (and I think you’ll agree with me on this) Philly was being about as non-abrasive as he ever gets! LOL! Sorry, Philly. But you get what I’m asking you, cl? Please think about it.

  18. “Most of us atheists would kill for an intelligent theist commenting on our blogs.”

    *Laugh out fucking loud!*

    That’s another good one, Cephus! Man, you ought to go into comedy, full-time!

    You guys aren’t interested in reading anything other than what you’ve already approved, so don’t try and sell me that line of bullshit! You have had plenty of intelligent rebuttal on your blogs, and the response was anything but! You just love hearing yourselves talk and text… you’re an ‘atheists-only’ club, is all.

    Read that last comment of mine – read it a thousand times, if you have to. What is so unreasonable about it? Is that not the Christian creed summed up?

    Hey, you don’t HAVE to accept it, boy! But, that’s how it is, and how it works. It doesn’t agree with your worldly outlook, no, but, it’s not supposed to. The two will never jive, they are inherently and permanently opposite to each other.

    Your version of reason is what you deem acceptable. Until you rid yourself of that kind of thought, you’ll be stuck with each other.

  19. “Philly was being about as non-abrasive as he ever gets!”

    Oh, I get it, Johnny… it’s OKAY if the pseudo-Indian is “abrasive”, but, Christians can’t be? LOL!

    Gee, thanks for enlightening me, pal, I’m sure that will help our relations in the future, me knowing how the game works!

    😉

  20. TFT,

    If you are a follower of Christ you are a Christian. Its a title you give yourself.

    I realize that’s what most do. The Bible writers did not do this. I can see good reasons both to label oneself and to not. Like evolution, the word Christian is loaded and heavily convoluted. OTOH, some people need to see examples of Christians who really do reflect something worth emulating.

    Cephus,

    Sorry, I just don’t see many atheists censoring posts. I see them deleting abusive, insulting posts, I see them deleting spam, but intelligent, well-written posts from theists asking questions? I can’t say I’ve seen that.

    I’m not talking about spam or abuse or insult. I’m talking about valid criticism. I’m talking about being banned and labeled a “troll” for strong but reasoned and persistent disagreement. In the post I linked to above, I’ve provided evidence of just that. When an atheist claims the Bible doesn’t support the idea that accordance with God’s will is a prerequisite of prayer requests, and I respond that he’s overlooked verses that challenge his position, there’s no need to delete such a comment.

    I’m not saying you’re wrong or anything, just that everyone’s experience in this regard is different. Although you might not see it, it sure does happen. I know you’ll object to the term, but the “fundamentalist atheist” really is an accurate archetype or classification.

    Most of us atheists would kill for an intelligent theist commenting on our blogs.

    You know, that’s what I thought going into this whole Aetheosphere charade. All the entertainment aside, there really is some truth to what Gideon said – there’s been plenty of intelligent rebuttal here and on other blogs in our little network. But I think most people just pay lip service to wanting their ideas critically considered, and it turns out most of the atheists I’ve met online have beliefs that are just as insular as those they criticize.

    For example, our host, who so far has stated that he is only willing to accept a videotaped limb regeneration as evidence of God.

    Philly,

    I would only delete spam. I allow abusive, insulting posts because if that’s all they’ve got, then they’re positions are weak and they’re essentially broadcasting to the world that fact, and I”m happy to oblige them.

    I think that’s a great policy, though I go a step further: I put the most complimentary and the most abusive and insulting ones right on my sidebar for all to see! 😉

    Gideon,

    You guys aren’t interested in reading anything other than what you’ve already approved, so don’t try and sell me that line of bullshit! You have had plenty of intelligent rebuttal on your blogs, and the response was anything but!

    Right on Gideon. Wherever we disagree aside this could not be more spot-on. I’ve been around two years now, and the only regular member of this crew I ever met that did not have this attitude was Lifeguard – and we’ve all driven him away.

  21. Gideon:

    I realize a worldly, hard-bitten infidel like you, simply cannot fathom releasing control to an ‘unseen’ deity, but, if you want to live eternally, that is the price you must pay.

    That’s why you are a Christian, so you can live eternally? That’s a hell of a bribe. Without that bribe, would you still be Christian?

    If the price of eternal life is having to spend my short time on Earth thinking like you, it’s just not worth it.

  22. I am a Christian for the same reason you’re an infidel, nal. We both see no other alternative.

    I didn’t have to be bribed, but, like any atheist, I like being alive, and, the thought that I might live forever as a bonus for doing what’s right, is one hell (no pun intended!) of an incentive, I won’t deny that!

    Even if I don’t receive eternal life, through some act or decision of my own, I will still do what is right, and, that would be thanks to the Spirit, not me, for without the Spirit, none can do good. Don’t you, as an atheist, believe in doing right for the benefit of all? You don’t know that it is the restraining power of God that influences you.

    However, eternal life is one of the supporting columns for the Christian faith. Without that promise, Christianity is a moot proposal. Indeed, it is the reason for the cross… so that all may live, and not perish.

    I just left John Evo’s blog, where I stated that I tried to look at reality from the atheist perspective, and found it to be most dreary and depressing. Three score and ten… then nothing. An entire existence comes to naught. And, how about those that experience only a short time on Earth? How are they shortchanged by a theory based on the lunacy of madmen?

    Now, I’m waiting for the cold, lifeless, response: “That’s just the way it is.”

    Well, son, Christianity is just the way it is, for me.

  23. Gideon:

    An entire existence comes to naught.

    I wouldn’t say that Albert Einstein’s existence came to naught. Most everyone else’s existence, on the other hand, will come pretty close to naught. Most of us will only live on in the memories of family and friends who survive us. That is a depressing belief, but it engenders a degree of preciousness to life that is unmatched without it.

  24. Most of us will only live on in the memories of family and friends who survive us.

    So naturally if you have neither of those, then you end up with the “existence comes to naught” idea. Sad.

    The thing is, if I was a lonely old hermit with no friends or family I still couldn’t bring myself to give in to lie for the sake of some comfort because I don’t see how it could be a comfort. Instead, buying into a lie like that would be a constant reminder of personal failure and, I think, would rouse more of a feeling of being pathetic than simply being a lonely hermit with no friends ever could come close to. I suppose I could keep that feeling at bay by going online and berating those better than me for having friends and family or not, but still able to resist the temptation of false comfort which I couldn’t, but then that would only be a temporary reprieve. The moment you log off, it’s right back to your pathetic existence. Massively sad.

  25. There is one problem I see with both a Theist and Atheist outlook. They both seem to be absolute. I propose a third. The logical possibility of a continuous existence that we cant(at this time) quantify. I actually find that outlook much more life affirming than the other two.

  26. cl:

    I’ve got no problem with valid criticism, I’ve never deleted a single comment except for spam and outright insults, valid criticism is completely welcome! Too bad so few theists actually bother posting anything resembling valid criticism.

    Like I said, and stand by it completely, most atheists would love to get some intelligent theist postings. We just never see any.

  27. “Like I said, and stand by it completely, most atheists would love to get some intelligent theist postings. We just never see any.”

    And, you never will, because you don’t want to.

  28. PhillyChief,

    I allow abusive, insulting posts because if that’s all they’ve got, then they’re positions are weak and they’re essentially broadcasting to the world that fact, and I’m happy to oblige them.

    On second thought, evidence shows this might be false: how do you reconcile this with Gideon claiming you’ve deleted comments he’s left at your blog?

    Cephus,

    I’ve got no problem with valid criticism,

    Too bad not all atheists think like you.

    ..most atheists would love to get some intelligent theist postings. We just never see any.

    I do think you’re speaking rhetorically there, but I’ll make a note to drop by your site now and again to see if any of your posts prompt an “intelligent response” on my behalf.

  29. “So naturally if you have neither of those, then you end up with the “existence comes to naught” idea. Sad.”

    Yeah, Chief, I guess it’s better having no hope at all. Fortunately, I do have hope. And, I reasoned myself there based upon logical and practical analysis of all of the available information.

    Anyway, I leave you with your grand future as worm food, whilst I intend to spend the ages the way God intended the entire race to live – free from sin, death, and the strife that sinful men jostling one against the other for pole position in a mad dash to the top of some imaginary empire, have polluted this old world with.

    There’s a new world coming… and, I intend to be a citizen, there!

  30. There’s a new world coming… and, I intend to be a citizen, there!(Gideon)

    So if you are sure of this and happy in your decision, why not go out and enjoy your life instead of trying to make the atheist’s on here miserable. Me thinks you just are just as sad as those you claim are.

  31. The problem isn’t that there isn’t enough baseless outlooks to choose from, nor is it to find a solution to make everyone feel the best(Philly)

    Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.(Albert Einstein) 😉

  32. Gideon

    You guys aren’t interested in reading anything other than what you’ve already approved, so don’t try and sell me that line of bullshit!

    Don’t you think if that was true I’d delete your comments? Have I ever done that, as inane and insulting as some of them have been? Freedom of speech, indeed all learning, rests of a free exchange of ideas, without any “quality control” whatsoever. That means everything goes up and stays up.

    It’s the ideas that win or lose, not the people who espouse them. In order for them to be freely evaluated, they have to be read and disseminated.

    Surely, Gideon, I doubt there’s anyone that objects to you being happy with your beliefs. Of course, you understand that we see your beliefs as simple self-delusion, and hence not something that makes us happy. Humans delude themselves about lots of things in the process of making themselves happy. Such as

    Even if I don’t receive eternal life, through some act or decision of my own, I will still do what is right, and, that would be thanks to the Spirit, not me, for without the Spirit, none can do good.

    This whole Spirit thing is something you know exists, but couldn’t in any way prove exists to another person. You’ve got yourself convinced. You honestly feel sure of its existence, and that makes you comfortable with your life. In fact, it’s what guides you to be a good person, (doing things like haranguing atheists 8) ). That’s fine. Not for us, but fine for you.

    You realize that we don’t care what you believe, as long as you don’t expect us to believe the same thing, just as we would hope that you couldn’t care less what we (don’t) believe, as long as we don’t expect you to (not) believe the same thing.

    Don’t you, as an atheist, believe in doing right for the benefit of all?

    Absolutely.

    You don’t know that it is the restraining power of God that influences you.

    No, I don’t. And neither do you. Know, that is. You “hope”, you “feel”, but you don’t know.

    See, I do believe in doing right for the benefit of all, but simply because it’s self-evident, because it’s right. Not because some unseen, unknowable, and ultimately non-existent Spirit make me.

    Turn it around. Why don’t you think the Golden Rule is enough? Do unto others because you’d want them to do unto you the same. Why add a supernatural element to this perfect reasoning? And if you can’t be good for goodness sake (Santa allusion intended) instead needing some force to make you good, what does that say about you?

  33. I repeat… you guys aren’t interested in anything that you haven’t said or approved of, yourselves. I and others patronize your blogs, and we’re told to get lost. You really are an atheists-only organization, aren’t you?

    Now, you’re whining because I harangue you? I’m only one individual, against all of you!

    Alright, enough of the name-calling. SI, in all honesty, I really couldn’t find any of my comments, or the last half of that thread. I’m now thinking that there was a technical problem, either on your blog or on my end. If so, I apologize, here, before all. Nevertheless, I don’t go around making these things up, no matter how I might “harangue” you, otherwise. The Chief DID and DOES delete my comments, and he knows it. But, like I said, I’m no stranger to banishment, and it doesn’t keep me awake at night.

    But, to suggest that I am the only guilty party, here, where haranguing is concerned, is pure folly. And, I’m insulting? You plaster anti-Christian comments all over your blog, defame and ridicule the Lord in text and video, ridicule Christian commenters… and I’m insulting? You don’t imagine even for a second that some might take offense with that? What cave are you living in?

    You can believe what you want. Nevertheless, I see it as my duty and privilege to give witness for God. That is the Christian mandate, to go and tell what you know. Oh, so I play a little rough, at times… don’t you? I think some of you even get a kick out of it, if you’re honest. Yeah, things get a little raunchy at times, but, that’s life.

    I know you don’t acknowledge God or His Spirit. You can’t hear or see Him, so He’s fiction. Shallow reasoning, but, it’s your privilege to limit yourselves. So, I should just say to each his own, and skip merrily away? Do you do that, with anti-Christian/God posts? Do you refrain from vitriolic attacks against God and His people, in your writings? Do you hesitate to proselytize any new and aspiring infidel that comes around?

    You don’t hear the contradictions in your appeals to me. On one hand, you say want alternative views, and, on the other, you’re saying get lost!

    As for the Spirit’s power being the driving force for good, it is because any Christian will tell you that man is inherently flawed. Even to believe takes some prodding from God… we naturally do not take to righteousness. One must possess God’s Spirit in order to receive salvation, that is biblical.

    The Golden Rule does not exempt witnessing, or debating. After all, it is for everyone’s good to have someone witness to them. You won’t get truth anywhere else. Governments lie, politicians lie, bureaucrats lie, and they do it a lot. Teachers and professionals preach humanist lies… society is built upon a lie, that man is the ultimate authority.

    Man is always searching for answers, and when God tries to provide them, He and His witnesses are scorned and ridiculed. Hypocritical, really. But, that’s the way it’s been for 6000 years, and it will never change. Salvation through science, they say. Well, good luck with that.

    Anyway, it’s late. Good evening.

  34. Gideon said: “I see it as my duty and privilege
    to give witness for God.

    I appreciate your testimony, Gideon. We sometimes forget what godly people are like and it’s good to have a reminder for all to see and hear.

  35. Gideon:

    … free from sin, death, and the strife that sinful men jostling one against the other for pole position in a mad dash to the top of some imaginary empire, have polluted this old world with.

    Wow! That tastes of bitterness. But you’ll have your revenge when all those sinful pole strivers end up as worm food.

  36. Gideon

    See? I knew there was a real person behind that gruff, abrasive exterior. 8)

    You don’t hear the contradictions in your appeals to me. On one hand, you say want alternative views, and, on the other, you’re saying get lost!

    Well, I don’t say “get lost”, but I hear what you say. I think we’re getting a little closer to understanding each other. Cl once said that I want evidence that I will accept, which is sort of circular, but may have a little truth in it. Actually I do want alternative views, but I want alternative views that I can process. With my brain. Using reason. I can’t process Biblical quotes, or scriptural “truth”, or ancient admonitions, because the Bible is inherently contradictory, and, being only one book, inherently unreliable. Not to mention outdated. Sure, I can pick out things that, out of context, make a lot of sense, and I doubt you’ll get any objection from Team Scarlet A on that point. The Bible has some good stuff in it. But so does Shakespeare and The Joy of Sex. But the stuff that is in the Bible is capable of being reached without the Bible. It’s something humans can figure out on their own. The Golden Rule, for instance, was around long before the Bible was written, and you don’t see the author of the Bible giving, say, Confucius any credit for it. So in short, the Bible is not, to me, “an alterntive view”. Don’t forget I was raised on the Bible.

    The same can be said for any claims that you feel are true, because you’ve come to the conclusion they are. Revelations of your religion are an example. They haven’t been revealed to me. I’m sure, you and countless others have said them, have proselytized them, but you didn’t “get it” by having someone say it. You felt it was true, a completely subjective experience on your part, something I cannot share, by definition. So telling me that, for instance

    The Spirit enables a flawed human being to obey the dictates of a holy God, as no human is able, on their own, to obey Someone Who is inherently perfect.

    just doesn’t cut it for me. My brain cannot reason that, because it’s not a “reasonable” process one has to go through to accept it. If I’m making myself clear. I need to see some kind of evidence for this Spirit, not your witness to it. Verstehen?

    As for the Spirit’s power being the driving force for good, it is because any Christian will tell you that man is inherently flawed.

    See, I can’t accept this on it’s face without evidence. Why is man inherently flawed? I thought God, when he created us, did so in his image? If so, inherently, we’re godlike. But I’m not interested in really going there, because that get’s into basic theological assumptions I don’t accept, like sin, the Fall, Adam and Eve, and ultimately god himself.

    I see humans as imperfect also, but only because the whole concept of perfection is unattainable. Everything is imperfect. Everything has flaws. Including humans. If you accept the scientific explanation of evolution, (and most Christians do, when they think about it and not react to their pastor’s admonitions) we don’t evolve towards perfection. We evolve to survive in a harsh world. But we also have the ability to overcome our imperfections. History shows that. And we can do it on our own without some appeal to the supernatural (which by definition doesn’t exist – it’s beyond the natural world, and that’s all there is. See? I need evidence of even the supernatural, which by definition you cannot provide. It’s the old rock and hard place.)

    Man is always searching for answers, and when God tries to provide them, He and His witnesses are scorned and ridiculed. Hypocritical, really. But, that’s the way it’s been for 6000 years, and it will never change. Salvation through science, they say. Well, good luck with that.

    Yes, good point. I disagree with your inherent conclusion, but good point to address.

    Man is an answer searching animal. We are constantly looking for answers. And science, which you scorn, is designed to always look for answers, and to not rest until answers are found. It’s also self-correcting, so that all “answers” are provisional, meaning that the answers are never considered final, because if a better answer comes along, then it’s discarded and replaced with the better explanation. This happens constantly in science.

    Religion, on the other hand, assumes that all the answers reside in god, and therefore if you have a question, assume god is responsible and stop looking, because you’ve found the answer.

    You prefer the answers from the latter process, I prefer the answers from the former. I like the former, because it results in things like the internet you and I communicate through, medical breakthroughs, the drugs I take to keep my cholesterol and my blood pressure low and my life expectancy doubled. The latter just stops looking and allows people to let their 11 year old daughter die of diabetes (diabetes?) insisting that god will cure her, and when he fails to do so, claim it’s their constitutional right to let her die.

    You accept the latter because it provides comfort and a hope for eternal life, yet you accept the benefits of the former without any compunction whatsoever.

    To me a “True Christian” should be living the life of Christ. That includes eschewing modern creature comforts, living in an adobe dwelling, pulling water out of a well, raising goats, and wearing sandals, walking everywhere you go. To not do so makes you a hypocrite, in some weird pre-modern way.

    That is clearly the main distinction between you and me. Verstehen, again?

    Anyway, it’s late. Good evening.

    And now it’s a New Morning. Thank you for your thoughtful reply. It was a refreshing change from being called the Spanish Inqueridator. Or a shyster.

  37. “…defame and ridicule the Lord in text and video…”

    “Do you refrain from vitriolic attacks against God…”

    From what christians say, I get the picture that your god’s a big boy, I think he can handle it.

    “Man is always searching for answers, and when God tries to provide them, He and His witnesses are scorned and ridiculed.”

    Uh, dude? Have you BEEN to America?

  38. SI,

    I knew there was a real person behind that gruff, abrasive exterior… Thank you for your thoughtful reply. It was a refreshing change from being called the Spanish Inqueridator. (to Gideon)

    I thought so too, and I like what I see, but don’t get me wrong – I love listening to Gideon go off, too. If blogging wasn’t also entertaining I probably wouldn’t be able to hang, because things can get to be no fun when they’re too serious.

    Well, I don’t say “get lost”, but I hear what you say.

    No, you haven’t, but others have [ie John Evo “get the f–k out of here”]. Still, it’s what the other person feels that tends to determine where these things go. In that month-long “evidence” soiree, what I felt over and over again was “get lost cl you loser, we don’t want your evidence” when the whole time I was simply trying to provide exactly what you ask for – evidence.

    [cl] once said that I want evidence that I will accept, which is sort of circular, but may have a little truth in it.

    “Sort of” circular? How about 100% round? Take this on the chin SI – in a very real way, you have insulated your atheism just as badly as the folks at DefCon have insulated their faith. I’m not saying this to troll or get a boner, but I do hope it bothers you somewhat, because it should. Conflating evidence and proof, refusing to look at evidence, stating in advance that you’re only willing to consider one very specific type of evidence… all those are trademarks of an insulated belief. You used to be a religious guy, right? Is it possible maybe some of that religious insulation could be lingering, and at work here?

    ..you didn’t “get it” by having someone say it. You felt it was true, a completely subjective experience on your part, something I cannot share, by definition.

    I completely understand this, and I think your position here is reasonable. “The Spirit moved me” stories are about as effective for making believers as ghost stories.

    ..I need evidence of even the supernatural, which by definition you cannot provide.

    SI, I want to pull my hair out when I hear you say this sort of stuff! When we provide such evidence, every single person here just tries to handwave it away. Evidence of the supernatural can most certainly be provided. We just can’t trap a ghost in a bottle for science to get at. If you really want evidence and you’re really open-minded about this stuff, let’s continue July’s discussion. Now that it seems most everybody finally figured out that running their mouths about me does no good, maybe we can have a productive discussion this time.

  39. Yes, TOG, my God’s plenty big. He certainly doesn’t need me to fight His battles… and, I’m not. I’m merely responding to criticism and commentary, period. His Spirit strives with everyone, as it did with me. I wasn’t always a believer, in fact, I was pretty heavy into science and technology. To refute SI’s statement that I hate science, I do not. I think you infidels simply misinterpret science, as science is simply another means of interpreting God’s creation.

    SI, there has always been a “real person” behind the text, and that person is always ready for decent debate… when allowed to. Otherwise, well… you know, don’t you? 😎

    And, I don’t care if you wish to not believe. That’s not the point. You guys make a statement, and I respond. You know I’m going to disagree, because your views are naturally contradictory to my faith, and how you perceive it. You tend to lump all religions into one, especially with Protestantism. You call Catholics Christian, for example. Well, that’s not true. Catholicism, fundamentally, is pagan. There may be Catholics that call themselves Christian, and they may be good folk, but, the history doesn’t support that. Yet, you still mock real Christians when you point out the failings of the Catholic Church!

    And, REAL Christians don’t do the whack-job things that some professed Christians do… like molest kids, kill people, etc. It’s a contradiction of terms! They don’t live in Adobe huts, either, and, while we’re on that subject, what is so outdated about not harming your neighbor, i.e. killing him, or stealing his wife, (adultery) or refraining from lying, cheating, worshiping idols… (money, power, self-aggrandizement, etc.) The Bible is not only a moral guide book, it is an historical document. You should give it credit for not, as many more modern works do, glossing over the failings of it’s principal characters. The scriptures faithfully record the failings of God’s people (and those of their enemies) as well as their successes and virtues. God is no respecter of persons – everyone is judged by their works, by Him.

    You call man an animal, he is not. See, that’s why there is so much strife in the world, with specious theories like Evolution to tell us that we’re really no better than animals, where is the incentive to behave any differently than animals?

    What, because we share the same matter as animals, we, therefore, are animals? Potatoes have the same matter in them… they even have eyes… are we legumes, too? Maybe the genes are similar… so what? God added something EXTRA in His creation of man, the power of reason, something animals don’t have. We must LEARN everything we need to know to survive, whereas a young gazelle can run at top speed only MINUTES after it’s born! It’s born knowing how to swim, reproduce, etc. We have to be taught pretty much everything. The difference is that our lives are generally longer, and that we have superior intelligence, and we have been given the gift of actually comprehending and getting to know our Creator. Animals don’t have that! They simply live, reproduce, and die. You would have that for humans, too… how cheaply you sell yourselves!

    I don’t scorn science. I simply put it in it’s place. I was into all of the evolutionary shit, once. I’ll tell you the exact reason I’m where I am, today, and that is the closer I studied science and the natural world, the more it screamed at me… THIS IS HERE BY DESIGN!” You seem to be able to explain it all away as a product of dumb-fuck chance, but, I can’t. Maybe you need to see what I have in life, I don’t know. All I know is the closer I studied science, physics, etc, the more I questioned the status quo. Also, when I see the failings of society, culturally, politically, and yes… religiously, I know there has to be a reason beyond some evolutionary struggle toward perfection.

    Right, there is no perfection, not in this world… none that you can see. That doesn’t mean there isn’t perfection. I see perfection in imperfection, rather, the potential for perfection… not through continued evolution, but, through a knowledge and understanding of truth as revealed by God, Who is perfection. Ultimately, it is our minds that need overhauling, so that we can, once again, rejoin the unfallen in our original estate. We can’t do that with our carnal minds, they need to be transformed, and that is what the gospel is designed to do… reprogram, if you will, a defective understanding.

    Science is a guide. Philosophy is a guide. Logic is a tool to using and interpreting both. Christianity, properly defined and practiced, is merely a public testimony of one’s transformation from the idea of simply being the product of chance; a random occurrence of really no significance, to a deliberate and thoughtful design, undertaken by an omnipotent Creator, Whom, simply wanted to give special attention to one part of His creation, as is His prerogative to do.

  40. Before I get jumped on over the Catholic thing, I recognize that there are many Catholics that are probably better Christians than me, the same as in the various Protestant denominations. I belong to a particular Protestant denomination, but I recognize believers in all walks.

    The history of the hierarchy of the RC Church deals with the result of an amalgamation of half-baked Christianity with paganism. In other words, while there may, indeed, be Catholic Christians, the overall system is pagan, hence the idol-worship, pagan-style festive seasons, etc.

    Protestantism has embraced many of them, too, so we can’t talk.

  41. Gideon,

    Good comments.

    ..that person is always ready for decent debate…

    I second that.

    You seem to be able to explain it all away as a product of dumb-fuck chance, but, I can’t.

    That’s another thing I don’t understand about atheists – “Occam’s Razor” they cry whenever it behooves their arguments – apparently never realizing it shaves away their own existence.

  42. cl

    Still, it’s what the other person feels that tends to determine where these things go. In that month-long “evidence” soiree, what I felt over and over again was “get lost cl you loser, we don’t want your evidence” when the whole time I was simply trying to provide exactly what you ask for – evidence.

    Well, as long as we’re going to delve into feelings, here’s what I felt during that month long soiree:

    Avoidance.

    Me asking for evidence, and you avoiding the request.

    There. Glad I got that off my chest.

    I, long ago, came to the conclusion that the English language is not always adequate to communication. I’ll chalk it up to that.

    Conflating evidence and proof, refusing to look at evidence, stating in advance that you’re only willing to consider one very specific type of evidence… all those are trademarks of an insulated belief. You used to be a religious guy, right? Is it possible maybe some of that religious insulation could be lingering, and at work here?

    No. I’m going to chalk it up to language limitations, again. I’m not getting you, and you’re not getting me. Maybe we need a Spockian mind meld?

    Evidence of the supernatural can most certainly be provided

    And I’m still waiting for it. So far I’ve seen videotapes falling over in a pattern and a little girl cured of a tumor. Evidence, but certainly not overwhelming, and hence not convincing. Proof of the supernatural, I would hope, would be convincing.

    We just can’t trap a ghost in a bottle for science to get at.

    That’s what I meant by the definitional limitation. Rock and a hard place. Get it?

    Now that it seems most everybody finally figured out that running their mouths about me does no good, maybe we can have a productive discussion this time.

    It’s not about you, cl. You need to get past that.

  43. SI,

    Me asking for evidence, and you avoiding the request.

    Do you really, honestly believe that I was avoiding your requests for evidence? Then, why was I there at all? To hear the word “douche” 83 times?

    Honestly, don’t you remember that when it got down to it, you were asking for laboratory proof? After you realized this, didn’t you repeatedly tell me that no further clarification of “acceptable evidence” would be forthcoming?

    You say you want evidence? I’m willing to give you whatever I’ve got, but don’t you think we need some sort of fixed goalposts so we can objectively say, “Yes, that’s actually acceptable evidence because,” or “No, I’m afraid that’s not acceptable evidence because.” Otherwise, you can simply dismiss whatever I bring to the table for no other reason than that you don’t find it compelling. We both know that’s neither fun nor productive, and that’s why I asked (and am still asking) for you to have a reasoned discussion with me about what is and is not “acceptable evidence” for the supernatural, or God, or whatever. Other atheists agreed that such was a reasonable request; I would have thought it would have meant something that other atheists were coming on and agreeing with me. Instead, all you did was tell me to “get lost” until I can bring a videotaped limb regeneration.

    If you really believe that’s a reasoned, rational, or open-minded position, maybe we’re just very different people.

    And I’m still waiting for it. So far I’ve seen videotapes falling over in a pattern and a little girl cured of a tumor.

    You’re still waiting for it, but you refuse to accept anything besides a limb regeneration? You’re so rational and reasoned, but you’ve completely refused to even attempt a reasoned explanation of the video game thing that accounts for all the data.

    I cannot for the life of me see how any of that entails respect for rational inquiry.

    It’s not about you, cl. You need to get past that.

    Certain people made it about me. Have you noticed that for the most part they’ve stopped, and how the discussions have changed?

  44. SI – I’ve kept up with this blog for quite some time and enjoy reading the discussion some of the time. Though, I get irritated by some of the responses that I read.

    Cl – That limb regeneration fiasco didn’t happen until long after the fact. You requested a very, very specific definition of evidence. Parameters to be set up so you can put things within the box. No one can do that, or should do that and I’m surprised they entertained you. No one can foresee what you’re going to give and say, “Well, that can’t be considered evidence,” or, “Yes, that’s evidence,” and develop a list for you. The people reading this blog must SEE the evidence first and come to a consensus of whether or not that ‘evidence’ leads directly to the possibility of the supernatural or is even credible. And it does really have to have no other possibility.

    Generally, evidence is something that can be tested and retested by various people and the results will always lead to the same conclusion. I should probably note that it takes many experimental trials to finally get the conclusion narrowed down enough to have it lead to the same conclusion every time. Philosophical arguments do not count as evidence. Neither do emotions or the amount of people who believe a certain thing.

    Now, provide evidence.

    An additional note and warning: most things that are sent to peer review are rejected as evidence of anything. In science, it’s extremely difficult to actually prove something. Which is as it should be.

  45. Gideon:

    Christianity, properly defined and practiced, is merely a public testimony of one’s transformation from the idea of simply being the product of chance; a random occurrence of really no significance, to a deliberate and thoughtful design, undertaken by an omnipotent Creator, Whom, simply wanted to give special attention to one part of His creation, as is His prerogative to do.

    So, Christianity takes you from a person of no real significance to a person who is given special attention by the Creator. That’s one hell of an ego boost. I can see the attraction. I certainly don’t get an ego boost from atheism. Atheism doesn’t satisfy any of my emotional needs, which is why I think it’s true.

  46. Do you really, honestly believe that I was avoiding your requests for evidence? Then, why was I there at all? To hear the word “douche” 83 times?

    We were sharing feelings here, cl. Not analysis. That’s what it felt like. Let’s get over it. 8)

    You say you want evidence? I’m willing to give you whatever I’ve got, but don’t you think we need some sort of fixed goalposts so we can objectively say, “Yes, that’s actually acceptable evidence because,” or “No, I’m afraid that’s not acceptable evidence because.”

    I prefer the term “convincing evidence”. “Acceptable” implies some pre-qualification, and also allows one to be arbitrary. Show me evidence that’s convincing, in light of the claim you’re offering evidence for.

    As an example, if your contention is that grass is green, show me photos of green grass. A simple contention needs only simple evidence to convince. If your contention is that there is such a thing as a supernatural existence, show me something that convinces me that it does exist. A grandiose, non-intuitive contention (supernatural – outside the natural world) needs grandiose evidence that smacks you in the face, to the point of being obvious. I can then tell you if it’s convincing, and why or why not. You’ll be free to disagree or agree, and others can weigh in.

    And if you want fixed goalposts, then something along the lines of spontaneous human limb regeneration fits that bill. I’ve already said that evidence for the same would cross the goal line. If you want to offer something less than that, feel free, and we’ll discuss why you haven’t achieved a touchdown. But if you’re going to quibble about how we’re going to discuss it, and try to force me to pre-accept your evidence without knowing what it is, then we’ll be in for another month long soiree.

    Frankly, I don’t understand why that is so difficult to do?

    Let’s start with your falling games. I don’t find that anecdote convincing, because {insert reasons here}.

    The laws of chance do not preclude the games falling in a pattern, once. The laws of chance reduce the possibility of it happening repeatedly in a controlled environment. That is why I didn’t find that anecdote convincing.

    Your turn.

    Certain people made it about me. Have you noticed that for the most part they’ve stopped, and how the discussions have changed?

    Maybe. But I’ve also noticed that you’ve been a bit more reasonable, and less knee jerk contentious too.

  47. Shad B

    Thanks for that. I’ve been trying to say that, and I think I’ve actually been saying that, but … I don’t know. It’s the language thing. Two people speaking English shouldn’t have this much problem.

  48. SI – I basically rehashed what you gave everyone else into more simplistic terms. Hopefully they’re more simplistic anyway. Although, I do think you were quite clear in all of your previous posts, but then I’ve always been decent at critical reading and analyzing. It’s not most peoples cup of tea.

  49. “So, Christianity takes you from a person of no real significance to a person who is given special attention by the Creator.”

    I said that all of humanity is a result of the special attention given it by God. The original model was perfect, before the fall. True, God’s people are special to Him, but, all of His creation is His concern. The parable of the lost lamb signifies His concern over even one left out of the fold, so to speak.

    And, SI, the fall is nothing magical or ethereal, yet it’s inexplicable at the same time. The only way I can explain it is that man, initially, was set up so finely and delicately balanced, that even a simple (by our standards) act of disobedience was enough to create havoc in the mechanism – even at the molecular level – so that man’s posterity would turn out like it is.

    Science doesn’t know all there is to know about the human body, and to say that God doesn’t know His own creation is foolish. What, is it impossible on the grounds that we haven’t yet discovered it? Perhaps the scriptures would have been more explicit and relevant if the people of the time had been more sophisticated. I’d say they did pretty well, all things considered.

    “Generally, evidence is something that can be tested and retested by various people and the results will always lead to the same conclusion.”

    “Philosophical arguments do not count as evidence.”

    Then how come there are so many different results that come from so-called direct observation? Is there no individual bias involved? Or, as in the case of radiocarbon dating, any two results that match? I haven’t seen any.

    While I don’t lean on philosophical reasoning, it does represent a higher ‘mathematics’, if you will, in the realm of analysis. Kind of like Algebra and conventional math. Algebra is a more abstract way of deducing answers from a problem, yet, in some cases, it is the only way to solve a problem – especially where the various components are unknowns. Where science fails in providing the absolutes that some demand in deduction, philosophy and similarly deductive processes fill in the blanks. To say that these are not viable processes, is narrow, in my thinking.

    Even Christ, in Mark 8:10-12, states how futile it is to seek after a sign. In most cases, it wouldn’t convince anyone, anyway. Even a limb regeneration… if one cannot see the evidence of the glory of God in His works of nature, man, and the complex forces that shape the universe, a limb regeneration would hardly impress them. God isn’t into magic acts, plus, He has already promised that all will be healed and glorified with Him in Heaven and the New Earth. Beside this, what is being whole for a few measly years on a sin-ridden planet worth?

    Not much, in my view.

  50. “That’s making an assumption on the intent of the parties involved, SI.”

    Still the snide little Indian, eh, Chief? Wanna go for it, again?

    😈

  51. The Chief’s still practicing his brand of democracy over at The Little Big Horn, right, Chief?

    Where’d my last comment go, huh?

    Wuss.

  52. Gideon – you can’t have different results from direct observation. You can have different observations. Tests produce results. Observations produce notes and hypotheses. And in the case of radiocarbon dating… there are different types of testing, each being more or less precise than others, which is the same for any type of measurement.

    For the matter of Radiocarbon Dating, I refer you to this website for further explanation. Pay attention to the limitations of such testing (as there are limitations to every sort of test, and that much be clearly stated in a proposal for a dissertation, I believe).

    So, the differences in the dating can be explained by the sample size, among other factors. And single dates should not be trusted. The accuracy of radiocarbon dating isn’t so precise.

  53. Shad B,

    I’m sorry you’re irritated. Welcome to the club. I’ve been in quite a few of these types of discussions, and I’ve noticed a pattern: atheist demands evidence for God or theism or whatever, theist provides example after example, atheist dismisses them, often without any counter-explanation whatsoever, repeat 300 comments. Surely you can agree that spinning our wheels doesn’t do any good for anybody, right? If so, that’s the way I see it, too. I don’t want to sit here and offer data point after data point like I have been, all in the hopes that SI might just find one of them convincing. Would you say it’s good science to attempt to please some self-appointed arbiter of persuasiveness? If our only criteria for acceptance of a data point is that it’s convincing, how in the world can we possibly protect against bias? That the Sun circled the Earth seemed convincing; did that make it right?

    Now, provide evidence.

    To date I’ve offered 5 data points. One was actually accepted as “weak evidence” for a miracle. The video game incident was rejected. The other three were ignored entirely. What would you do at this point in the discussion?

    SI,

    Why would the limb regeneration cross the goalpost for you? That’s the most important thing for me at this point – understanding that.

    Show me evidence that’s convincing, in light of the claim you’re offering evidence for. (ital. mine)

    [Sigh…]

    SI, do you honestly not see the problem with this approach? What’s “convincing” or not is entirely a matter of our own subjective whim. No matter what I present, all you have to do is say, “I don’t find that convincing,” and who am I to argue subjective opinion? How silly would it sound if one scientist in a panel of 6 suddenly accepted a certain conclusion, just because he or she felt it was convincing? That the Sun circled the Earth seemed convincing. We know how that went.

    ..if you’re going to quibble about how we’re going to discuss it, and try to force me to pre-accept your evidence without knowing what it is, then we’ll be in for another month long soiree.

    Please listen – I’m not trying to force you to pre-accept anything. I’m trying to understand why a human limb regeneration would be convincing. You should be able to respond with a list of reasons why such an event “crosses the goal line,” right?

    Frankly, I don’t understand why that is so difficult to do?

    Simply offering data points is not difficult at all. What is difficult is tolerating endless exchanges of, “Well, what about this SI?” followed by “Nope cl, I’m not convinced.” That’s exactly what I don’t want to do.

    I’ve been trying to say that, and I think I’ve actually been saying that, but … I don’t know. (to Shad B)

    You have been saying that SI, and I’ve been understanding just fine. Why do you think I’m not understanding you here?

    The laws of chance do not preclude the games falling in a pattern, once.

    So, you’re saying that the laws of physics as we understand them today allow 4 or 5 resting video game cases to suddenly embark on 45-degree angle trajectory to the middle of the room and land stacked?

    I’ve also noticed that you’ve been a bit more reasonable, and less knee jerk contentious too.

    Amazing how reason increases as irrationality decreases, isn’t it?

  54. Yes, but you guys are the ones demanding perfection, not me! I’ve always said that faith is a primary component in Christianity – the belief of those things not seen.

    So, using your own reasoning against you, you shouldn’t be relying on C-14 dating at all. Yet, according to that site, it is still the most popular method of dating.

    The Earth’s environment has changed radically over the centuries. (Thought I was going to say millions of years, eh?) Plus, there has been volcanic and tectonic activity… not to mention man’s activities, like nuclear testing, etc. The environment HAS to have been affected by this, and the level of carbon and other elements, as well.

    Actually, what you’re telling me is there are many ways to arrive at the same conclusion. Well, I’m telling you that Theology can be considered yet one more way of getting at and understanding truth.

    It’s possible that science has stumbled onto various means and ways that God used to create matter and the universe. I can’t refute it all. How I arrived at my conclusion there is intelligence behind it all, is, as I’ve already stated, it’s complexity and self-sustaining properties. Even if it needed millions of years to develop it, it is still so complex and efficient in it’s operation, life simply couldn’t have ‘evolved’ beyond it’s initial stages in such a proposed hostile environment. It would have perished long before it developed a means to overcome it’s immediate threats.

    Foresight is something not left to chance, but, careful and deliberate planning… such as is the case with a benevolent Creator.

  55. Gideon – It’s the best known method, and considered the most accurate, despite its limitations and is therefore relied upon to determine the age of things. I’m assuming that you are not an expert in this particular field, nor am I, so attempting to explain why the method shouldn’t be used (when we have no advanced knowledge of the topic whereas most experts do) is foolish.

    As for the many ways at arriving to the same conclusion, nowhere did I state that. I stated that there are various methods of testing for the age of things, each with DIFFERING precision, and therefore, differing results.

    When attempting to garner the same results from an experiment, you must use the same exact method that you used before. If you don’t use the same method, it is highly likely you’re going to find different results, obviously, because you’re using different methods to test it.

    As for the rest of your post about how you came to your conclusion: I see no need to add a complex variable to an equation. I move towards the best, and simplest, explanation there is. Do I know the origin of everything? No. Do I ever propose that I do? No. Do I think any God is the best and simplest explanation for it all? No. God, as a concept proposed by religions, is a complex being and muddies the waters. I’m very willing to say “I don’t know,” to the question of the origin of everything. I have my opinions, my thoughts, but those are just that.

  56. atheist demands evidence for God or theism or whatever, theist provides example after example, atheist dismisses them, often without any counter-explanation whatsoever, repeat 300 comments.

    Hyperbole alert!

    If our only criteria for acceptance of a data point is that it’s convincing, how in the world can we possibly protect against bias?

    Science does quite nicely with it. What’s your problem?

    That the Sun circled the Earth seemed convincing; did that make it right?

    No, but it was accepted until better science proved it otherwise. Why don’t you tell us what you find convincing?

    No one is asking for proof, here, cl (despite my previous conflation. Deja vu is setting in again, and I’m about to pull the plug on this.)

    To date I’ve offered 5 data points

    You’ll really have to excuse this 55 year old brain. I remember the first two, but not the other three. Honestly. Care to repeat them?

    Why would the limb regeneration cross the goalpost for you? That’s the most important thing for me at this point – understanding that.

    Jesus Christ, we’ve been over that a {hyperbole alert!} million times. Isn’t it obvious. It’s something we’ve never seen in humans in the natural world. Ever. It would be pretty good evidence of a supernatural phenomena, wouldn’t you think? Especially if it was coupled with a prayer service that specifically asked god to do it. Even more especially if it could be done whenever a religious person asked. I would find that pretty convincing. Nothing is ever absolute, but that would be pretty fucking convincing.

    What is so hard to understand about that? I’m not suddenly typing in Swahili, am I? Shad. Help me out here. You understand that, don’t you?

    [Sigh…] SI, do you honestly not see the problem with this approach?

    [Sigh…] No. I don’t.

    What’s “convincing” or not is entirely a matter of our own subjective whim.

    No fucking kidding. Really? I never realized that. /sarcasm

    No matter what I present, all you have to do is say, “I don’t find that convincing,” and who am I to argue subjective opinion?

    But let’s just surmise that I “subjectively” reject your proffered evidence. And upon inspection, it appears to be arbitrary. We’re doing this out here in the open, for all to see. Do you not think someone will call me on it? Do you think I’ll honestly get away with arbitrarily rejecting your otherwise convincing evidence of the supernatural? Get real.

    C’mon. Pony up. I’m not interested in dancing with you again.

    So, you’re saying that the laws of physics as we understand them today allow 4 or 5 resting video game cases to suddenly embark on 45-degree angle trajectory to the middle of the room and land stacked?

    Yes. Now, if the stack of 4-5 resting games suddenly embarked on a fall that left it hanging in the air on a 45 degree angle, that might get my interest, because that would defy all natural laws we know of. What you described doesn’t. That’s the nature (if you will) of the supernatural. It should defy all the laws of the natural world. If it complies with some and defies some, that could be explained by something else, and would need further investigation.

    For instance, an airplane ostensibly defies the law of gravity, but is explained by the laws of aerodynamics. An airplane that stops in mid air and just sits there defies all known laws of nature.

    So, there, I just gave you a standard. Give me a data point that defies all known natural laws.

  57. Okay CL, here’s another possible way of convincing me besides limb regeneration immediately after a Christian calls on Christ to regenerate the limb:

    One Christian volunteers to douse himself (or herself) in gasoline and be willing to have a flamethrower fired at him (or her) by another Christian volunteer after certified experts in the use and maintenance of the flamethrower confirm it is in operable condition, while a million Christians simultaneously pray that the brave Christian volunteer not be harmed by the flamethrower. The experiment should take place in a sheltered and enclosed area so no contrary gust of wind can come along and direct the flames away from the volunteer to be incinerated. The second Christian volunteer has to envlope the first volunteer in flames, otherwise, he (or she) is conceding a lack of faith in the power of god to deflect the flames.

    If the flames from the flame thrower make direct contact with the volunteer and do not cause him the slightest physical harm, then I will accept that as evidence as Christianity is true.

    Do you wish to volunteer, and if so, which one do you want to be, the one to be flamed or the one to operate the flame thrower? Personally, I would not want anyone to volunteer for the experiment, because I have not the slightest bit of doubt that the first volunteer is going to suffer a horrific death, or at the very least, permanent agonizing pain and scars.

    Oh, that just made me think of another possibility. If prayer resulted in the immediate healing of a person who has suffered third degree burns over a large portion of his or her body would also be convincing evidence to me.

  58. SI,

    Earlier you said,

    ..if your contention is that grass is green, show me photos of green grass.

    I don’t think that would help anything. For example, one of my contentions is that spirits exist, and there are countless photos that show phenomena consistent with what we might reasonably expect if spirits did exist, yet none of those photos are convincing to you, so hy should I think that one more would do the trick?

    Science does quite nicely with it.

    Is accepting or rejecting evidence based on whether or not the scientist feels it’s convincing good science? I say no, but apparently you say yes.

    Do you not think someone will call me on it?

    Honestly, I really don’t, because here you are claiming that chance can account for 4 or 5 resting video game cases suddenly embarking on 45-degree angle trajectory to the middle of the room and landing stacked, and that such can be accounted for by traditional understandings of physics – and nobody’s called you on that.

    It should defy all the laws of the natural world.

    SI, what natural law did the video games obey?

    Give me a data point that defies all known natural laws.

    So, is anything that "defies all known natural laws" acceptable and convincing evidence for God and/or the supernatural? Is that what you're saying, and are there any caveats?

    Tommykey,

    Thanks for participating, I always enjoy your input, but I’m not looking for specific examples as much as general criteria we can use to objectively judge any specific examples offered. As for your test, I wouldn’t be involved in such an experiment. This is the same angle Satan used when he told Jesus to jump off a cliff: “Prove that you’re God by saving yourself from death.”

    What I want to know is, why would those things convince you? Simply because they violate natural law? If yes, then is any violation of natural law acceptable as evidence for God? If no, when are violations of natural law acceptable as evidence for God and/or the supernatural? That sort of thing.

  59. “Oh, that just made me think of another possibility. If prayer resulted in the immediate healing of a person who has suffered third degree burns over a large portion of his or her body would also be convincing evidence to me.”

    As I’ve already stated, miracle-working is not the preferred way the Lord works. The reason for that is, that God considers faith in His Word as a prime virtue. remember, it was over faith that this whole controversy started. Satan convinced Adam and Eve that God was holding something back, and they chose to believe Satan. Now, God asks for our trust, again, over any performances of magic or other evidences.

    Even Christ was tempted to perform miracles, against His will. “IF you are who you say you are… do this…” (paraphrasing) was the devil’s taunt. You’re echoing his very accusations when you demand proof.

    Another reason that God doesn’t sit up on command, is that in the future, when Satan returns masquerading as Christ, he WILL be performing ‘miracles’ “… so that even the elect are deceived.” (Matt. 24:24) He is not willing that people become accustomed to having their every frivolous whim satisfied just when they want it, like some spoiled kid. True, God does work miracles, from time to time, but it isn’t the norm. The miracle of life, itself, should be enough for man, but, as is the case with some infidels, it isn’t.

    There is a measure of faith involved in having questions answered. A give and take. If you’re not willing to sacrifice a little self-assurance, and step out in faith, you’re not going to get the answers you want. God isn’t mocked, and has nothing to lose over your disrespect. You’re the only one’s going to lose.

  60. Gideon:

    The story of Jesus’ temptations by Satan just seems like another bit of fiction, used to reinforce the idea of belief without evidence. Same with the doubting Thomas story. Why should trust based on second-hand accounts be considered virtuous? Why would God want us to ‘step out on faith’, when we could just as easily step out on evidence? This is the modus operandi of a huckster, one who has nothing to back up his claims but more words.

    As far as your last sentence is concerned, empty threats are just that- empty. And nobody’s asking God to perform magic tricks. Magic tricks are simply what one expects when confronted with a real magician, and not simply another fakir. Scratch that. We’re actually confronted by spokesmen for a supposed Magician who never shows up, much less performs any tricks distinguishable from everyday occurrences. You say the ‘miracle of life’ should be enough to convince us. Convince us of what? The veracity of your stories? Close your eyes, spin around, open them, and whatever you see is self-evident proof that a Hebrew thunder god plopped down a third of his essence in Galilee so that a few of us would be saved from eternal judgment for acting out on the sin nature we were born with? Such a God deserves to be mocked, Gideon. Christianity is a cowardly religion. People playing suck-ass to an imaginary beast who would gladly condemn their own children to infinite torture because some ancient ancestors ate some fruit from an evil tree that their Dad was too stupid to even put a fence around. You worship this God, and threaten in His name while pissing in your shoes, wringing your hands and praying that you’ve made the right choice. All the while justifying actions that you’d find monstrous in anyone else but your Everlasting Meal Ticket.

    What a fucking tough guy you are. Threatening the other kids in your neighborhood with the old man’s .45. What a chickenshit religion Christianity is.

  61. “What a fucking tough guy you are. Threatening the other kids in your neighborhood with the old man’s .45. What a chickenshit religion Christianity is.”

    Well, SI, so much for the intelligent debate.

    Jimmy-boy, you’re just another in a long line of assholes that never listens to anything but your own big mouth. I’ve already covered most of what you’re blathering about, so I won’t even bother with you. You’re a dumb-fuck shithead with a pea-sized brain and dick, to boot.

    Rednecks like you are a dime a dozen. Doesn’t take a lot of brains to ridicule something you know nothing about, which about sums up your case, here.

    You’re laughable, boy. Always remember that.

  62. The only thing you know is where your little sister’s bra unhooks, Cledus.

    Now, be a good boy, and go kick the dog around, or beat your wife. Or, just get drunk and let your chin fall onto your beer-belly. You know, the things your type excels at?

  63. cl – Honestly, none of those things would convince me of a supernatural being. Not unless I were able to eliminate ALL other possibilities. I stand by the definition of evidence that I’ve provided. And if I have to say, “I don’t know…” to something until there are ways to explain it, then I’ll do that.

    That is essentially, I think (and they can correct me if I’m wrong on this), what SI and the others are alluding to. There is no ‘evidence’ for supernatural beings. Only phenomena that we haven’t yet been able to explain. I could be wrong but most scientists could find explanations that are more logical, far simpler, and definitely more reasonable than any supernatural beings (including spirits) being involved in the ‘freak occurrences’.

    Spontaneous limb regeneration would convince them (as they’ve said before) because it has NEVER happened naturally in a human being and there has NEVER been any hint of it happening.

  64. Gideon,

    Another reason that God doesn’t sit up on command, is that in the future, when Satan returns masquerading as Christ, he WILL be performing ‘miracles’ “… so that even the elect are deceived.” (Matt. 24:24) He is not willing that people become accustomed to having their every frivolous whim satisfied just when they want it, like some spoiled kid.

    Very good point, one I forget all too often.

    Well, SI, so much for the intelligent debate.

    Exactly. Let the record show that whatever else aside, there was definitely respect and reason in this thread – until jim just had to interject with profanity and insult. Who knows where it’s going now.

  65. cl

    Earlier you said,

    ..if your contention is that grass is green, show me photos of green grass.

    I don’t think that would help anything. For example, one of my contentions is that spirits exist, and there are countless photos that show phenomena consistent with what we might reasonably expect if spirits did exist, yet none of those photos are convincing to you, so why should I think that one more would do the trick?

    NO. You’re doing it again, cl. Avoiding. That was a peripheral issue, yet you need to challenge me on it. I’m not doing it. Keep it up, and I stop responding to you.

    I can prove the grass is green with more than a simple photo, and you know what I’m asking for. One should be able to substantiate any photo by going directly to the subject photographed, and allow you to compare it with the photo. I can do that with grass. You cannot do that with the spirit. If you have a photo of a spirit, then you should be able to produce the spirit. I can produce the grass. So where’s the spirit?

    This is why all those photos of Bigfoot were never accepted as proof of Bigfoot. And it turns out that the most famous one was a hoax. It’s very easy to create a hoax with a photo.

    If I bring you a photograph of a leprechaun, and refuse to produce the actual leprechaun, and you say “I don’t believe it”, would it be fair to call you unreasonable?

    Again, get real, and stop playing. Pony up, or I stop this nonsense.

    Is accepting or rejecting evidence based on whether or not the scientist feels it’s convincing good science? I say no, but apparently you say yes.

    I say no too. I already said that the evidence, and my acceptance or rejection of it, is subject to the consensus of everyone here. Not just me. Not just one scientist.

    Next.

    because here you are claiming that chance can account for 4 or 5 resting video game cases suddenly embarking on 45-degree angle trajectory to the middle of the room and landing stacked

    You’re going to have to describe that in more detail. I don’t remember it from your past description. I thought they simply fell over. Are you saying that they actually shot across the room, as if thrown?

    So, is anything that “defies all known natural laws” acceptable and convincing evidence for God and/or the supernatural? Is that what you’re saying, and are there any caveats?

    I can’t think of any offhand, but don’t hold me to that. I’m not a prognosticator. I gave you an example of one (airplane hanging in midair). Tommy gave you one. Let’s work off those.

    Gideon

    As I’ve already stated, miracle-working is not the preferred way the Lord works.

    cl, correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t this special pleading? God seems to have all sorts of exemptions that I don’t get.

    Satan convinced Adam and Eve that God was holding something back, and they chose to believe Satan.

    Do people still really believe this Adam and Eve stuff? Do you believe it, Gideon? Seriously?

    Even Christ was tempted to perform miracles, against His will.

    From what I understand, depending on the Gospel you choose to read, Jesus either was reluctant to perform miracles, or was extremely eager to perform them to prove his divinity. I think the latter was true in John, and the former in the other three. But again, I’m no scriptural expert.

    There is a measure of faith involved in having questions answered.

    For some Christians, that’s all there is.

    If you’re not willing to sacrifice a little self-assurance, and step out in faith, you’re not going to get the answers you want.

    Why does it matter whether it’s an answer you want? I thought answers were intent neutral.

    Well, SI, so much for the intelligent debate.

    Gideon, with all due respect, what was unintelligent about Jim’s comment? What he said was perfectly valid. You may take umbrage at the tone of his comment, because it’s not very respectful of your god, but we’re not here to kow-tow to your god, and you admit that he doesn’t care either (“God isn’t mocked, and has nothing to lose over your disrespect”). He simply compared your understanding of your god to a neighborhood bully. There’s a lot of merit to that metaphor. Think about it.

    Your response, on the other hand (…just another in a long line of assholes…You’re a dumb-fuck shithead with a pea-sized brain and dick…Rednecks like you are a dime a dozen…) is the one that seems to be…ummm…lacking much in the way of thought or substance.

    Try thinking about what you’re saying before shooting from the hip.

  66. You mean the pic of you and your main squeeze, Jehovah? Actually, I was looking for a pic with a sheep in it. That’s what God calls His sycophants, isn’t it? Sheep? Whatever.

    Either way, looks like an eternity of brown-nosing for you and yours, eh? How does it make you feel, knowing most of humanity will be suffering an eternity of torture while you’re up there mowing Yahweh’s backyard? You got any children, Gideon? Best be praying heavily that they don’t become Buddhists, or sumpin’. Perhaps your Everlovin’ Lover will fill you in on the exquisite extremity of their neverending pain, while you’re roto-rooting His pipes and telling Him how THANKFUL you are that it was them, instead of you.

    “O Lord, ooh, You are so big, so absolutely huge. Gosh, we’re all really impressed down here, I can tell you. Forgive us, O Lord, for this, our dreadful toadying and bare-faced flattery, but You are so strong, and, well, just so super fantastic. Amen.”

    Monty Python, ‘Meaning of Life’

    Guess I’d rather be a redneck, than a brown nose. Oh, and my sis doesn’t wear a bra, so no probs!

    *Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Gideon was heard to say…”baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa…!” Yea, and the angels rejoiced.*

  67. cl:

    As far as you’re concerned, that was one of your weaker attempts at taking shots while pretending not to (not that any of them are very impressive). At least Gideon is somewhat authentic in his backward way. You, on the other hand…well, you know what you are, and what I think of you.

    There, you’ve had your shot, and I’ve responded. Let’s see if you can leave it there.

  68. cl

    Exactly. Let the record show that whatever else aside, there was definitely respect and reason in this thread – until jim just had to interject with profanity and insult. Who knows where it’s going now.

    Give us a break, cl. Gideon wasn’t complaining about the profanity (like that would bother him) but the lack of intelligence in the debate. I fail to see that the intelligence level was reduced by Jim and enhanced by Gideon. If you disagree, my estimation of you drops a few notches. You’re smarter than that.

  69. “Do people still really believe this Adam and Eve stuff? Do you believe it, Gideon? Seriously?”

    No, SI. Not really. I just had nothing better to do, the last 28 years, so, I thought maybe religion would do it for me. I really love it when I’m assailed by redneck idiots with penchants for livestock, and having people look sideways at me when I tell them I believe in Jesus.

    “Gideon, with all due respect, what was unintelligent about Jim’s comment?”

    Depends what part of the Ozarks you hail from, I guess. Or, how drunk/stupid you are?

    cl, let the cretin talk… this is what SI wants, quality entertainment.

    Go for it, Cledus! Show us how stupid it’s possible for a human being to get!

    You the king, baby!

  70. “I fail to see that the intelligence level was reduced by Jim and enhanced by Gideon. If you disagree, my estimation of you drops a few notches.”

    I’ll bet you’re wondering, like I am, about SI about now, eh, cl?

    Remember where you are.

  71. Gideon:

    “Show us how stupid it’s possible for a human being to get!”

    I thought I already had. Do I need to elicit more responses from you to make it clearer?

    You the king, baby!”

    Yes. Yes I am. However, recognizing your predilections, I believe I shall remain up here on my throne with my back to the wall, TYVM. Say hello to Jebus for me, IF he ever allows you any breathing room.

  72. Clear now, cl?

    Jimbo… thanks for clarifying that you do know your sister’s anatomy in ways that a man shouldn’t. And, for admitting you’re the king of assholes. We’d NEVER of guessed!

    It’s always been a wonder around Hooterville why your asshole is so clean. That pic shows why.

    I’ll be sure to put in a good word for you, like you want. One thing: the town council wants me to ask you to not leave the gate open on the corral, the next full moon. The heifer keeps getting out. Raises hell with the gardens, you know.

  73. SI,

    Give us a break, cl. Gideon wasn’t complaining about the profanity (like that would bother him) but the lack of intelligence in the debate. I fail to see that the intelligence level was reduced by Jim and enhanced by Gideon. If you disagree, my estimation of you drops a few notches. You’re smarter than that.

    What I was saying is that things were going along respectfully until jim popped in with his technique. If you disagree, my estimation of you won’t change one bit.

    If you have a photo of a spirit, then you should be able to produce the spirit.

    So, anything a human can photograph can be produced by a human? Absolutely not. What kind of befuddled logic is that? If I’ve photographed an earthquake, does that mean I should be able to produce earthquakes? Maybe you’re just irritated with Gideon or something, I don’t know, but this doesn’t make sense at all.

    Are you saying that they actually shot across the room, as if thrown?

    [cl pulls hair out of head…] My bad. I shouldn’t have assumed you’d carefully considered, or even read, my arguments you dismiss. At this point, I really have no idea why I’m here if you’re not even going to read my arguments and give them an honest consideration. To think, after all this, hundreds of comments later, and it becomes painfully obvious that you have not even taken the time to read the argument you vehemently dismiss. I keep trying to give you the benefit of the doubt, but if you won’t actually read my arguments, I see no reason to continue.

    Anyways, YES, SI, the games actually shot across the room, as if thrown. Take care.

    Shad B.,

    Honestly, none of those things would convince me of a supernatural being.

    I look at it the same way. I’ve got two goals in all this persistence: the first is to demonstrate that the claim “there is no evidence for God” is false; what the skeptic is really saying there is that there is no evidence they’re willing to accept, and there’s a huge difference between those two statements. The second goal is to show that skeptics and so-called rationalists who would believe on the types of evidence we’ve discussed have abandoned both skepticism and rationalism. IMO, people like SI who say, “I would believe if a limb regenerated” are essentially embarking upon a superstitious and irrational course, in that they’re perfectly willing to take an unexplained event and rely on that as justification for their beliefs.

    Spontaneous limb regeneration would convince them (as they’ve said before) because it has NEVER happened naturally in a human being and there has NEVER been any hint of it happening.

    I understand that. What I wonder is if they (or you) understand the danger of using this as our criteria? By this logic, anything “new” can be declared evidence for God. I don’t see how that’s rational or veridically useful at all. Anyways, thanks for the input, I’m sorry I irritated you, but it doesn’t really matter to me anymore, as I’ve realized SI isn’t even reading what he dismisses out-of-hand.

  74. cl – Maybe you mistook what I said for something I didn’t say. I said I’m sticking to the definition of evidence. That is, going through the rigors of peer review and testable hypotheses. So, there is evidence that I would gladly accept. But those things you mentioned are hearsay, number one, and two, can be explained by other things if analyzed properly or the situation replicated (as you should know, we can replicate circumstances).

    As for the second point, I saw that and it’s why I distinctly avoided grouping myself in that statement. It’s tempting to do so but I wouldn’t dare do it.

  75. Nothing new in 2000 years. Men still need ‘proof’ in some form of miracle or another.

    They’ll have it… soon enough.

  76. What I was saying is that things were going along respectfully until jim popped in with his technique.

    Well, actually, that may be what you said, but not what Gideon was talking about. Now you’re talking about respect; he was talking about intelligence.

    I frankly don’t care about respect. Ideas don’t have feelings, but they can be stupid. And we’re all adults here. If your feelings are hurt, don’t participate. It’s that easy. Gideon gives as good as he gets, and I don’t hear him complaining about lack of respect.

    Finally, any disrespect is towards the ideas espoused, not the person. Except Gideon’s “You’re a dumb-fuck shithead with a pea-sized brain and dick”. That’s a clear ad hominem. 8)

    So, anything a human can photograph can be produced by a human? Absolutely not. What kind of befuddled logic is that? If I’ve photographed an earthquake, does that mean I should be able to produce earthquakes?

    You’re going to have to explain to me how you would photograph an earthquake. Because, if I would photograph one, the only images I could capture, would be the physical results, not the happening itself. Cracked pavement, crumbled buildings, fallen overpasses, shifted fault lines. All photographs of the results of an earthquake. Videotape could actually document an earthquake, but again, either way, I could take you there, after the fact, and show you what was photographed or videotaped, and you could compare the actual results to the photograph or videotape, and confirm them.

    Am I missing something here? Are you trying to say that if I photograph an earthquake in progress, after the fact I have to reproduce the earthquake. In effect, cause tectonic plates to shift and make the ground shake again?

    [cl pulls hair out of head…] My bad. I shouldn’t have assumed you’d carefully considered, or even read, my arguments you dismiss.

    Careful, male pattern baldness needs no help.

    Apparently, neither of us reads what the other writes. I very clearly stated in that never-ending comment thread you call a soiree, that I was asking for evidence on my blog. I refused to go elsewhere for your evidence. Since it’s been awhile, I’ll reiterate it. This is not a multi-blog endeavor on my part. If you’re not willing to present your evidence, here, then I’d normally assume you have none.

    I’ll work off what you’ve given me so far, and this one time I did read that part of your blog post relating to the games falling.

    Now, if the games shot across the room, and landed farther than gravity would have placed them, then there must have been another force that was responsible. The evidence so far presented doesn’t rise to the level of supernatural, but I’ll concede that if no other natural force can be accounted for, it remains a theoretical possibility. Of course, you can guess the problems before we come to any conclusions. There are any number of explanations that could account for it, from someone playing a practical joke on you, to an actual earthquake, and anything in between, but I don’t think it’s possible on a blog comment to reconcile them. Two many possibilities, between the fact that there were two other people in the room, who you assume were impartial, to the presence of mind altering chemicals (alcohol). Which leaves us actually nowhere.

    There is so much anecdotal evidence out there for paranormal happenings, that who knows where to begin? None has ever been confirmed, as afar as I know. Anecdotal evidence is worthless.

    OK. Here is where I get accused of waiving my hands and dismissing your evidence. Rest assured, that’s not what I’m doing. But frankly short of saying “Wow! that must have been weird”, there’s not much more one can do with your tale. It cannot be reproduced. It cannot be tested. It cannot be confirmed. It can, however, be easily dismissed. That’s just the nature of your anecdote, not a bias on my part.

    I know a family that lives up the street, who swears their house is haunted. Things move all over the house, they claim. I like them. I don’t disbelieve them because their name is cl. But I just don’t buy it.

    So what is your other evidence?

  77. “[cl pulls hair out of head…] My bad. I shouldn’t have assumed you’d carefully considered, or even read, my arguments you dismiss. At this point, I really have no idea why I’m here if you’re not even going to read my arguments and give them an honest consideration.”

    I’ve told you before, cl, they don’t give a shit what you have to show them. This is an atheists-only club. Around here, they talk and laugh about Christians and God, and stroke each other’s egos. (And, maybe other things, too!) {{{{Shudder}}}}

    It’s all entertainment, to them. Your only hope is that a thinking person will happen by and read your stuff. They won’t.

    I’m getting bored with them, myself. Time for new blood.

  78. I hear a lot of mooing, baa-a-a-aing and clucking going on down at the corral, so it must be Jim-bob’s bedtime. Guess I’ll retire, too.

    Nite, cl. You too, infidels…

  79. cl

    I’ve got two goals in all this persistence: the first is to demonstrate that the claim “there is no evidence for God” is false; what the skeptic is really saying there is that there is no evidence they’re willing to accept, and there’s a huge difference between those two statements.

    Well, d’oh! As I think I’ve clarified in the comments to this post (although, maybe not – clarification does not always seem to be my forte’), what a skeptic says is “Everything is, in it’s own way, evidence for the existence of god, but none of it is convincing”. That’s partially what I was doing in that original post where I asked for evidence, and we discussed it over and over, ad infinitum, ad nauseum. I wanted you, or anyone else to say “here’s my evidence for the existence of god”, to which I could predict within a 99.9999% certainty that it would not be convincing, and not convincing for perfectly supportable, rational reasons. Not to me, not to any other skeptic. Not to anybody, except perhaps the most deluded Christian. The reason is because, so far, I have seen evidence put forth constantly by theists, and none has been convincing, hence my percentage.

    But really, cl, getting a concession like the claim “there is no evidence for God” is false is a Pyrrhic victory at best. I even said it in that original post. The boogers in my nose are evidence for god, but what does that get the theist? Absolutely nothing. In the end, there is still no god, or anything remotely resembling proof of one.

    The second goal is to show that skeptics and so-called rationalists who would believe on the types of evidence we’ve discussed have abandoned both skepticism and rationalism. IMO, people like SI who say, “I would believe if a limb regenerated” are essentially embarking upon a superstitious and irrational course, in that they’re perfectly willing to take an unexplained event and rely on that as justification for their beliefs.

    This substantiates my contention that you are just playing semantic games, for the pure fun of it. You ask us to tell you what would make us stop and reassess our lack of belief, we humor you with something we know will never happen, something impossible in the natural world, and then you turn around and say if we would abandon our atheism on that basis, then we’re not true rationalists.

    You really think we’re that stupid? Do you really think we believe human limb regeneration could be accomplished without some genetic (read scientific) manipulation? How about an airplane hanging in midair? Or a human surviving a flamethrower? How disingenuous can you get?

    You, cl, are a complete waste of time.

  80. This thread is simultaneously the funniest and most depressing thing I’ve seen in the past year.

  81. when are violations of natural law acceptable as evidence for God?

    I’ve told you already, when the violation is in conjunction with the request for it. If I call on god to cause a fig tree to wither and it instantly does so, that’s good evidence in my book. If I call on god to cause a fig tree to wither and it doesn’t wither or die until 20 or so years later, it would not count, because one could reasonably expect that it would wither and die eventually.

  82. SI,

    I’ll address your most recent comment first.

    You ask us to tell you what would make us stop and reassess our lack of belief, we humor you with something we know will never happen,

    You might want to plead the fifth here, SI – you’ve just confessed to insulating your atheism! Instead of reacting, think about it: if A asks B “what would it take to believe,” and B offers A something they know would never happen, B has effectively insulated their belief against all possible cross-examination. Intellectually honest debaters don’t offer counterfactuals as criteria “to humor” their opponents.

    ..which I could predict within a 99.9999% certainty that it would not be convincing, and not convincing for perfectly supportable, rational reasons.

    Yet, not only have you utterly failed to offer a supportable, rational counter-argument against the video game incident, you’ve actually dismissed it for literally hundreds of comments without ever once fully understanding the pertinent facts! Why should I offer more evidence if – just as I predicted in my very first comment – you’ll simply allow yourself to dismiss it without explaining – or in this case – even reading it?

    You, cl, are a complete waste of time.

    You, SI, are a fellow member of the human family, just like me. If I saw you in the gutter I would give you the shirt off my back, get you some water and put you in a taxi. The only time I would consider our discussions a waste of time is when it becomes evident that you’re just glossing over the data.

    Well, actually, that may be what you said, but not what Gideon was talking about. Now you’re talking about respect; he was talking about intelligence.

    Yes, so connect the dots: in scholarly discussions, when disrespect increases, intelligence tends to plummet, right?

    I frankly don’t care about respect.

    I know this from firsthand experience!

    Am I missing something here? Are you trying to say that if I photograph an earthquake in progress, after the fact I have to reproduce the earthquake.

    You told me that if we can photograph a spirit, we should be able to produce the spirit. I think that’s poor logic, so I introduced the earthquake example. IOW, ability to photograph X does not entail the ability to produce X at will.

    Apparently, neither of us reads what the other writes. I very clearly stated in that never-ending comment thread you call a soiree, that I was asking for evidence on my blog. I refused to go elsewhere for your evidence.

    Speak for yourself, SI. I obviously read your “on my blog” requirement, else how could I have criticized it in previous threads? Did you gloss right over those comments, too?

    This is not a multi-blog endeavor on my part. If you’re not willing to present your evidence, here, then I’d normally assume you have none.

    On 7 September 2009 at 5:46 PM, in this thread, I asked you, “..you’re saying that the laws of physics as we understand them today allow 4 or 5 resting video game cases to suddenly embark on 45-degree angle trajectory to the middle of the room and land stacked?”

    On 7 September 2009 at 7:19 PM, you replied, “Yes. Now, if the stack of 4-5 resting games suddenly embarked on a fall that left it hanging in the air on a 45 degree angle, that might get my interest, because that would defy all natural laws we know of. What you described doesn’t.”

    So, what’s your excuse now? How is that not disingenuous when I put the pertinent facts not only in past threads on your blog, but also right here, in this thread? That’s all the indication I needed that you’re not really reading me at all, just making knee-jerk reactions. Honestly – don’t you think that might be part of the reason this thing dragged on so long? I read, and often re-read your arguments to be sure I understand them. Apparently you’re unable or unwilling to pay the same courtesy.

    Earlier you said,

    The way to test whether your thinking is right is to open it up to everyone, and allow it to be bashed, pulled, stretched, poked and prodded to see if it survives.

    More than anything, I do want my claims “bashed, pulled, stretched, poked and prodded to see if [they] survive;” what I don’t want is somebody who talks big on rationalism and the testing of ideas – who then shirks their responsibilities as interlocuter by simply glossing over their opponent’s arguments – then has the nerve to tell me that I didn’t put the pertinent facts in the right place. That’s ruder (more rude?) than any insult leveled against me by anybody thus far.

    Insults I can withstand, but if you’re not going to read the arguments you dismiss, then that is a waste of time. Seriously SI, take care.

    Tommykey,

    I’ve told you already, when the violation is in conjunction with the request for it.

    I know, I heard you the first time, I’m not ignoring you or being disingenuous. If you recall, I asked then as I’ll ask now: how is that not post hoc reasoning? If you did answer that question last time I asked, I apologize for being unaware of your response, and would like to read it.

  83. cl, reprimanding SI yet again, said: “ think about it: if A asks B “what would it take to believe,” and B offers A something they know would never happen, B has
    effectively insulated their belief against all possible cross-examination.

    cl, you would be right in any, *any* other discussion but this one.

    You see, buddy, we are discussing “god”. Read Tommy Key’s last comment and think on it. A god that can (and supposedly has/does) violate natural laws, and those violations are trotted out as supposed “data points”, then how is SI closing himself off in his little atheistic corner by asking you to provide something he *knows* you can’t? Man, if you think he’s wrong and that your omnipotent god *can* provide it – let’s see it.

    By the way re: “data points”…. you needn’t say you’ve provided just 5. By your evaluation of what consists of a “data point” you could honestly say millions have been provided. In that context, your case should be a slam dunk. In fact, your “data points” are particularly weak compared to some of the ones I’ve already been provided with in the past 50+ years. I must really be insulating myself not to have accepted the cumulative evidence by this point and, if so, what good are your 5? If these things are data, and given the massive amounts of it available, I must be hopeless.

    Or you could regenerate an arm or two. But I *know* you can’t. Makes me insulated, right?

    OK, I let you folks have your fun here and at my place for the past couple of days without comment. I’ve tossed in all I’ve got to say and, whatever cl comes back with, that’s the last word for now from me.

    Kudos to The Other Guy on his previous comment. Full concurrence.

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