My Fall from Grace

Something’s not right.

That was what I thought as I read about hypnosis on the Skeptic’s Dictionary (SD). Wasn’t hypnosis putting somebody under a spell, a trance? It might have appeared fun when I was quite young watching Paul McKenna, but since then it had been explained to me that hypnosis was wrong, an unholy use of power, and ultimately could open a window to demons.

But the SD explained what hypnosis was and what it wasn’t, and how it worked by purely natural explanations. It didn’t reference anything supernatural. It just explained in common sense terms what was going on. After reading a lot of convoluted far-fetched explanations of hypnosis and coming across offers of “Buy this book and you will be hypnotising someone to forget their own name in 5 minutes!”, this explanation was quite refreshing.

I was raised a Jehovah’s Witness (JW). The view of hypnosis as dangerous and wrong was just one of the things I was told. But, if the SD was correct, and it certainly presented a better explanation that literally putting someone into a trance, didn’t the organisation know this?! Couldn’t they have really done the research themselves?! Wasn’t it a bit close-minded to give their own explanation, when, surely they weren’t actually scientists themselves? It just smacked of propaganda to me.

But then, I was raised to see people outside the belief as wicked and destined for destruction. Having strong friends outside the group was actively discouraged. I couldn’t quite reconcile the 5 million Jehovah’s Witnesses (at the time, now over 6 million), with the 6 billion people on the planet. How on earth would everyone get the chance to be saved or not? The organisation had existed for over 100 years, and still less than 1/1000th of the population was to be saved? That’s a lot of death if Armageddon comes tomorrow, I thought. It was a puzzle, but I had faith so I let this discomfort pass me by.

I have never been comfortable with censorship. I could never understand why it was wrong to see what other people had to say, because if I had the truth (which I honestly believed I had), what did I have to fear? If anything, looking at the counter-arguments of others would only strength my conviction because, surely, there was nothing they could say that I couldn’t answer? That’s not arrogant really if you believe you have the truth. But the JW society frowns on that. You are not encouraged to read material that contradicts what the Governing Body says. And you are explicitly told not to read apostate material. (An apostate is someone who was part of the JW faith but now has left and expressly opposes it).

Still, I couldn’t understand this. It seemed like the Governing Body wanted to treat members like kids; not able or intelligent enough to make their own minds up and defend themselves from external attack. I’ve never shied away from a fight if I think I’m right. I will argue with anyone because my interest is the truth. So there is no fear of losing because if you lose, well you weren’t right to begin with. This seemed like common sense to me; why didn’t JWs view it the same way?

JW doctrine is that ghosts and clairvoyants and many supposedly supernatural things, are supernatural, but not caused by genuine ghosts or genuinely clairvoyant people, but through demons deceiving and being evil. But, SD explained ghosts, psychics, and clairvoyants all very well without needing to invoke a supernatural explanation. Now, this didn’t make the JW beliefs wrong of course, but it did seem to me that the Society could explain to its members the truth behind charlatanism and “supernatural” events. But it seemed like they wanted to fit demons into the explanation. Again, this is an organisation that is responsible for feeding information to millions of people, so shouldn’t they be extremely careful about what they produce as fact?

Finally, I came across a link at the bottom of this page:

http://skepdic.com/cults.html

Called the Watchtower Indoctrination process.

I also happened across a link (I spent 20 minutes trying to find the original but can’t anymore) linking to Bible contradictions. I was very hesitant at first to even click the link; afraid that Jehovah himself was watching me and I would be committing a grievous sin by looking at apostate material. But, I plucked up the courage to do it, and rationalised the action to myself by thinking that I would find the contradictions laughable, false, and easily refutable. Ultimately, I believed that my belief would win out.

For me, the bible is either the perfect inerrant word of God, or it isn’t. It’s as simple as that. I don’t accept that the bible is the word of god but also contains errors. I know liberal Christians might accept that, but that doesn’t make sense to me. Because, how can the bible be god’s message to man, whilst he allows it to be mistranslated, erroneous, or confusing. No, I’m sorry, that doesn’t work. Either the bible is god’s perfect word, or it is a lie; a myth; a collection of old primitive stories. This isn’t a false dichotomy, it is simply the only rational way to view the bible.

I always believed, and of course was brought up to believe, that the bible contained no errors and no contradictions. I knew unfortunately, that if I could find even one, that would destroy my beliefs of inerrancy. This was the very first contradiction I remember seeing:

http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/contra/ahaziah_age.html

The second book of Kings says that Ahaziah was 22 years old when he became king. The second book of Chronicles says he was 42 years old. Alarms bells went off in my head. ‘How can that be?!’, I thought. I immediately went downstairs to retrieve a copy of the New World Translation, which is the bible translation Jehovah’s Witnesses use. I looked up both passages: they both said 22! I felt a cold shiver – as one might feel when they discover themselves being watched, or part of a huge conspiracy. Had the Society re-edited their version of the bible to remove this contradiction?! (The bible isn’t talking about two different persons by the way – Ahaziah’s mother’s name is shown in the verses and it’s the same in both accounts).

I read more and more contradictions and I could not rationalise them away. I could understand faith in tough times, or believing in god even though I couldn’t see him; but I believed the evidence for god was good anyway. But I couldn’t use faith to ignore blatant contradictions. That was dishonest as far as I was concerned. I was afraid. Genuinely. The possibility of beliefs I’d held my entire life being false was dawning on me. It was a feeling of being thrown out in the cold; like the world is collapsing around you. The closest I can describe it for those who haven’t been through this, is by using a scene from the first Matrix film: Neo is strapped into a chair and Morpheus asks him: “have you ever had a dream that you were so sure was real? What if you were unable to wake from that dream? How would you know the difference between the dream world and the real world?”

Whilst this is happening, Neo is incredibly disorientated, as the mirror in front of him seems to dissolve; as the very world around him fades and become unreal; his sense of reality breaks down.

He awakens, in the real world. It is nothing like he thought! It is cold; harsh; alien; bleak. It is frightening, and there is real danger, real death, and there are no happy endings.

This is what it’s like to de-convert. It is like waking up from a comforting dream. It is like realising it’s Monday morning when you were convinced just for a moment that it was Saturday all over again. It is not pleasant. Ignorance at this point, seems like bliss.

At the time I was a fan of a popular collectible card game which led me to a fan site for it. The creator of the site was a devout Christian and had a forum for discussing Christianity and the bible. This was about two months after my first SD experience above. I had read a lot more since then about the lies of the Watchtower Society. Sheer time prevents me from listing everything I read and all my experiences in that time, so I hope you, the reader, will forgive me. Suffice it to say that reading many “apostate” sites that I was forbidden to, exposed the contradictions, turnarounds, and lies that the Governing Body had made in its past, and continued to make. Re-writing its own history, changing new editions of old books to cover errors and failed predictions, blatantly lying about what it said in the past, changing its mind on the issue of organ transplants and blood transfusions – because of which people died…are just some of the things the organisation was guilty of. It could not be the truth. I was sure of that now.

But, I was also sure that if the JW belief couldn’t be the truth, nothing else could. And the reasons for this are that the problems with the Jehovah’s Witness organisation are applicable to ALL religions. If I reject the bible as the word of god, then bangs goes all bible-based belief. Having come across the counter-arguments for the existence of god during this short time, I learned about logical fallacies; how to spot them in others’ arguments; what made a good argument; the difference between a valid and a sound argument; circular reasoning etc. I saw the argument from intelligent design destroyed. The ontological argument was also easily refuted. The popular cosmological argument or arguments from morality that I had been raised to believe as genuine hard proof of god, had in fact been debunked by sceptics and atheists decades, even centuries ago. I felt like I was catching up on an age of philosophy. So because of this, I rejected all religion. It would have been very easy to turn to another form of faith; another belief system, to keep my mind comforted and happy. But that’s not me – I am proud to say I am intellectually honest, or at least I like to think I am and try to be wherever possible. I am proud of myself now for that, because that’s something I have achieved. But I’m also proud that that’s the person I was before, because otherwise, I would never have had the guts and courage to challenge my beliefs and face the facts, however unpleasant.

On this website forum, I argued with theists and used my new powers of critical thinking to debunk their beliefs. Imagine going your entire life trying to convert people and preach to them what you believe, to in a few short months destroying these very same arguments in others! Because I used to be a theist I thought (and I still do) that this gives me a very good way of arguing with theists, because I know how they think and their arguments. It was a liberating experience, and I suppose inasmuch as I was arguing with theists and debunking their beliefs, I was destroying the remaining walls of belief in my own mind too. One day when the website was down, I searched out other forums for discussion and argument, and came across the Internet Infidels. I posted here for a long time and was even a moderator in two forums. I made many friends and enjoyed my stay there. I don’t post there anymore, but not because I don’t want to, but because I do! I don’t want to flit in and out; I would want to spend far more time there. But because I simply can’t, it’s something I’ve had to leave off altogether. I remember Rowland98 there, an Administrator. I made good friends with Alliey and Doug (I know they won’t mind me mentioning them – if you ever read this: hi!) I also remember Magus55: you will never meet a more fundamentalist fundie than him! I also made friends with Plognark on the MTG fanatic site, and he came across to IIDB later as well.

It was also on IIDB I came across the poster Ebonmuse and visited his website called Ebon Musings. I have said elsewhere that in my opinion this is the best atheist/evolutionist website on the internet (next to mine of course). I read all his essays. This was a massive help in learning more about atheism and why it made so much sense. His essays brilliantly destroyed religious belief and explained that not only was it wrong, it was unnecessary and caused more harm than good. Since then I have actively encouraged people to read his material, and at least one good friend of mine is in constant touch with Ebonmuse. He also created and maintains the blog Daylight Atheism.

I have skipped over the blackest part of my life though. I came home from a night out one evening. It was not a good night and I was upset over something, admittedly. (What it was isn’t important.) I remember just breaking down crying on my bedroom floor. Desolate. Destroyed. Inconsolable. I had lost the will to live. There was nothing. There was no god. No future. No happiness. I would die. Facing your own mortality when you’ve believed your entire life in a potential everlasting life is hard. I would see my own parents grow old and die. There was no point to life. To call my worldview nihilistic at this point would have been an understatement. I remember my dad trying to console me and being replaced with my mum, who unfortunately attributed my state to the fact that I had rejected my faith. She was right, but she didn’t understand why! In the end she spent hours regurgitating the same old tired religious bullshit that was exactly what I had rejected. How embracing Jehovah etc and committing to his way of life was the only way to find happiness. But it was exactly that which I didn’t believe anymore. I remember sitting there tuned out, quiet for ages, just wishing she would leave. I love her very much, and she was just trying to help. But she couldn’t see beyond her own worldview and as such, she was useless in helping with mine. She could not help with my doubts about belief, because to her there were no doubts!

I was off work for two weeks after this. I was very depressed but because of taking time off, my doctor’s note for work stated “stress”. I didn’t like the idea of being signed off with stress, because I felt like I was taking the piss; and I knew some people in work would think that. At the time I didn’t care, but the truth is of course I wasn’t stressed – I was severely depressed. I unashamedly admit I considered suicide. But my depression wasn’t chemical or hormonal, or the result of a mental disorder. It was simply the destruction of an entire worldview in a short space of time, resulting in total nihilism.

Some may say that this is why de-converting people is not good. And indeed, I would never wish what I went through on anyone, except perhaps bigots like Pat Robertson, or the deceased Jerry Falwell who is now very much not burning in hell. But remember, the belief system was to blame. Do I blame the facts for putting me through that living nightmare? No! I blame the belief system for a lifetime of lies and indoctrination. We should never be afraid to de-convert people! It should be done with care if possible, but never should a lie take precedence over the truth where lives are concerned.

I relapsed into depression several times after that, for reasons other than just my de-conversion.

But when I started to get over that spell, which lasted a few months, I was glad in the end to have the facts. When I asked myself: “would I go back in time and change anything, given the pain of what I went through?” the answer was ‘no’.

I wrote a few essays myself on old websites I had. The desire to write and debunk was always strong with me since then. I spent most time on IIDB during 2004. For those who are wondering, I don’t attribute any real depression during that time to England going out of Euro 2004 to Portugal. At that time I still cared about the England football team. I remember having my head on a stool as the last penalty was taken (I didn’t look) and leaving it there for about 20 minutes afterwards.

But I digress. Towards the autumn of 2004 something happened that was good for me personally. It is irrelevant to religion or anything I’ve mentioned here, and I guess you, the reader, will just have to wonder forever what it was! It doesn’t matter really. What matters is that it was a positive change in life for me. I could talk about seeing a lovely girl not long after this for a few months if you will forgive me for wandering once more. I fell in love with her (at least I think I did), and we had some beautiful times. It never really worked for other reasons. By the spring of 2005 there was not really anything of us in that way to speak of. By the summer we were good friends but didn’t keep in touch much. I still say to this day that one evening I spent just sitting outside with her rivals all my memories as one of the greatest nights of my life. Of course, there is one night in particular back in May 2005 that also ranks up there. And I’ve had two nights since just spending time with an amazing girl that I will also cherish forever.

I’ve digressed again haven’t I? Sorry.

The point is that since my de-conversion I’ve learned things about life. Everyone does, I guess. Maybe it’s called growing up. Or maybe it’s just experience, and if it’s experience then it doesn’t matter how old you are; wisdom isn’t necessarily about age. It’s about knowledge and what you’ve learned – so anyone can be wise!

I adopted a rational worldview. I don’t believe in god because I’m an atheist. I’m an atheist because I don’t believe in god. My worldview doesn’t stem from my beliefs; my beliefs stem from my worldview. My worldview is rationalism; evidence-based; logic-based; nature-based. I believe everything in the world can be explained naturally. I believe that only through evidence and study can we come to know anything. Although I’ve always loved science, this rational worldview is best expressed by science. In a choice between the dogmatic traditionalistic absolutism of religious faith and the testable repeatable evidence-based logical theories of the sciences, there is only one winner.

Rationalism for me means a life of pure freedom. A life where your mind is free from superstitions as great as god(s) and karma, to idiosyncrasies such as believing you are unlucky or fated. Atheism means that there is no one watching over you. There is no Big Brother in the sky, no one to see your secret deeds whether good or bad. This means that there is no eternal reward or punishment for anything you do. It also means that everything you do, ultimately over time, will fade. But this means that this life that you’re living now is the most precious thing you’ll ever have. Every day, every week that goes by will never come again. The friendships and relationships you have are of the utmost importance. Because there is no Big Daddy to appease or suck up to, or be afraid of, you should be nice to people because it’s nice! You should treat people like you want to be treated! You should not steal or murder because it hurts people, and hurting people is wrong. Always. No one needs a god to tell them this, and if you do need a god to tell you this then you belong in a mental institution.

To quote one of Joss Whedon’s popular TV shows:

“If this life is all there is and in the end nothing we do matters, then all that matters is what we do; the smallest act of compassion, can be the greatest thing in the word.”

Being a rationalist, and being able to think critically is very empowering. It gives you confidence in yourself, your ability to think, your ability to talk, and your interactions with other people. It makes you sure of yourself, but humbles you to realise all the ways in which you can be wrong. It serves as a constant mental checkpoint at what leaves your mouth and what enters your mind. If you say something irrational or realise the error in your own thoughts, a red flag immediately raises. It also comes in handy as a nonsense detector when someone starts talking to you about crystal healing, reiki, chi, takionics, ghosts, psychic energy, pyramid schemes, chain-letters, George Bush, and the like.

In short, rationalism is a worldview with no drawbacks, and only positives. It encourages honesty and truth. It encourages knowledge and science. It promotes interest in the common good, and cultivates respect and tolerance for other people, especially those you might not personally agree with. It makes you appreciate the evanescence of life; which demonstrates how valuable it is, and why humans should work together and live together in peace. It demands that we respect the environment and other animals, and leave a legacy for our descendants. It means that we must each give our own lives meaning, and not get given a purpose from someone else.

Some say that life is short. Well it is. But this is rather paradoxical, as a funny chain e-mail I came across once said: “Life is short. What the hell?! Life is the longest thing anyone can ever do! What can you do that’s longer?!”

There’s probably no point making sweeping statements about your life when you’re in the middle of it or in my case, still young (and virile, with the torso of a swimmer and the legs of a footballer). But what I can say with certainty is that de-converting is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me, and will be, no matter what else happens in my life. Because I’m convinced that whatever good happens in my future, will be founded on the worldview of rationalism I developed once I shed the dark superstitious mental baggage I was carrying for years.

The irony is that whilst de-converting, it was like leaving somewhere warm and bright for somewhere cold and dark. But really, religion and theism belong to the darkness and the night. And the night tends to get its coldest…right before dawn. Right before the sun finally comes up. As religion and faith are the stifling oppressive night, so rationalism, atheism, and also science, are the liberating piercing light. And without light, life would be impossible.

I’ve hope I’ve given you a glimpse of that light, or at least what it meant to me. Thanks for reading.

80 Responses to “My Fall from Grace”

  1. Pedro Timóteo Says:

    Hello,

    I’ve looked. I’ve really looked. But I can’t find an email address, anyhere. :) I really don’t like using the top post to contact a blogger through a comment, when it should be done in private, but your blog is too good not to contact you.

    I’m the author of Way of the Mind and the maintainer of Planet Atheism, an aggregator of atheism-related blogs (currently more than 90). Reading the latter, today, I found out about your blog through a post in A Load of Bright (who’s also a member of PA), and would like to invite you to join PA yourself.

    For more details, please take a look at the Planet Atheism FAQ. You don’t need to do anything; if you say yes, I’ll just add your feed. But I won’t do it without permission, of course.

    Thanks,
    Pedro

    P.S. – it’s really a good idea to provide readers with some way to contact you. ;)

  2. John P Says:

    Reading the trauma that you underwent from a short term conversion, I find myself thanking my lucky stars * that my deconversion was relatively uneventful, and I surmise that part of the reason was it took me 30 years to do it. In the end, it was a lot of the same sources for me. Internet Infidels was a big one, I posted there a good bit, but books like George Smiths “Atheism: A Case Against God” and Sagan’s “A Demon Haunted World” along with a bunch of others, really pushed it along. And I agree with your take on Ebon Musings. I’ve said the same thing a few times.

    What stands out though is that in the end, we come to the same place, and with much the same enthusiasm. It’s rationalism, science, clear critical thinking that rules the day. And the confidence those disciplines bring to the table is palpably enervating, but never evanescent.

    *I read today that Christopher Hitchens said “When people say ‘There but for the grace of God go I’ they really are saying ‘There but for the grace of God goes another fucker’”. He can be SO right sometimes. :)

  3. SteveC Says:

    > I also remember Magus55: you will never meet a more
    > fundamentalist fundie than him!

    Guess again!

    (requires digging through google cache, but:)

    http://209.85.165.104/search?q=cache:JhsTF7gp1-0J:www.iidb.org/vbb/archive/index.php/t-34588….%253C/t-184096.html+magus55+deconverted+site:iidb.org+2007&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=36&gl=us

    “Nialler
    October 26, 2006, 07:46 AM
    Ther have been a couple of enormous changes of mind on this board.

    Magus55 is probably the biggest.

    An enormously committed, and articulate and prolific poster of Creationist policies, he has since become quite the Evolution-supporter.”

    http://www.iidb.org/vbb/showthread.php?t=174262&highlight=nested+hierarchies

    Posted by Magus55:

    “Well, in another RR discussion on Evolution, I believe I found the most incomprehensible argument against evolution and a true sign of the warped mind of the fundamentalist.

    ‘I would not worship a God who created evolution as the means to bring about life as we know it. It is cruelty of the highest order.’

    I of course replied, and eternal torture isn’t?

    I’m so glad I’m no longer a fundamentalist. Theistic evolutionists have really saved my sanity. I just have no words for how eternal torture is fine, but evolution is the cruelest thing ever.”

    Who’d a ever thunkit?

  4. Lynet Says:

    That’s an incredible story. I have no deconversion of my own; I’ve been an atheist all my life.

    I don’t believe in god because I’m an atheist. I’m an atheist because I don’t believe in god.

    Do you mean “I don’t disbelieve…”? Actually, that sentence is going to be ambiguous if you put it like that, isn’t it? Oh, never mind, the meaning comes across.

  5. woodpigeon Says:

    I deconverted from Catholicism about 17 years ago, and I understand the trauma it can cause, when you have believed fervently in a particular set of beliefs all your life. Fortunately, I adjusted pretty quickly to being a non-believer. I still look back on the day it happened as one of the most significant moments of my life.

  6. cragar Says:

    Good post and thanks for sharing. I don’t know if you have had a chance to read my blog yet, but I am starting to have issues with my children being raised in The Truth, which is why I was interested in hearing your story.

    How has your relationship with your parents and other family members progresses since you left. When my wife and I first dated she was disfellowshipped and it destroyed her at the time. She eventually got back in, but now she is kind of losing interest, but her mom and siblings keep after her to stay involved. She rarely goes to meetings any more, but “sisters” keep coming over to see how she is doing and they study at our house.

    Let me know your thoughts-your blog is on my regular read now.

  7. evanescent Says:

    Hi John P, cheers for the comment. Very well said, and very nicely phrased too!

  8. evanescent Says:

    Cragar said:
    “Good post and thanks for sharing. I don’t know if you have had a chance to read my blog yet, but I am starting to have issues with my children being raised in The Truth, which is why I was interested in hearing your story.”

    I’ve not the chance yet my friend but I promise I will.

    My humble opinion, if you want it, is that indoctrinating children is a form of child abuse. I believe parents have an enormous responsibility to raise their children to think, but not WHAT TO THINK. Religion teaches ignorance, superstition, and intolerance. It’s not my place to tell YOU what to do, but my general opinion is that bringing children up to believe a faith is wrong.

    Cragar said:
    “How has your relationship with your parents and other family members progresses since you left. When my wife and I first dated she was disfellowshipped and it destroyed her at the time. She eventually got back in, but now she is kind of losing interest, but her mom and siblings keep after her to stay involved. She rarely goes to meetings any more, but “sisters” keep coming over to see how she is doing and they study at our house.”

    My dad hadn’t been going the meetings for years anyway, although he still harboured some belief. I’m not sure how much he does now. He is fairly open-minded and very switched on, but I think he has inklings of theistic bias, and I think many decades of “The Truth” have blinded him to important issues, like evolution.

    I still talk with all my family of course. My mum and I still talk as much as ever I suppose but we’ve also had the occasional very long debate too. There is no doubt that every time, I win these arguments hands down. That’s not because I’m anything special, but because the theistic position is ultimately indefensible. If you have logic on your side and they have no evidence, there is only one winner!

    Unfortunately, she will not see reason. Faith blinds, and whenever the cracks start to appear in her belief, I see her put up the mental shutters again and not want to argue. Usually she’ll end it by something like “whatever I say you’ll just find fault with!” Yes! That’s the point!

    My sister and I used to be very close but we’re not anymore. That is, undoubtedly, because she is in the faith and I’m not. It’s a shame, but that’s the way it goes unfortunately.

    Cragar said: “Let me know your thoughts-your blog is on my regular read now.”

    Thank you very much! I intend to return the favour.

  9. evanescent Says:

    Woodpigeon said:
    “I deconverted from Catholicism about 17 years ago, and I understand the trauma it can cause, when you have believed fervently in a particular set of beliefs all your life. Fortunately, I adjusted pretty quickly to being a non-believer. I still look back on the day it happened as one of the most significant moments of my life.”

    Absolutely. I couldn’t agree more. Cheers for the comment.

  10. cragar Says:

    “My humble opinion, if you want it, is that indoctrinating children is a form of child abuse. I believe parents have an enormous responsibility to raise their children to think, but not WHAT TO THINK.”

    I agree to some extent. But I am in the marriage now, and I love my wife and kids. My children are not and will not be totally immersed in the Truth. They already get some flack from their cousins, but so be it. My son is very analytical and reads a lot, and is only 10. Within a few years I bet he really studies the Bible, much as I did, and I think he will be much like me. My eldest daughter (8) is her mother all the way, so she may stay in, we will see. The main thing my kids have over other Witness children is they are not prejudicial towards other religions or persons, as many Witnesses can be toward the “worldly”

    “I win these arguments hands down. That’s not because I’m anything special, but because the theistic position is ultimately indefensible”

    My wife won’t even argue any longer, as her religion (all religions really) gets exposed. She still lives life a little blindly as far as faith goes.

  11. Sean Says:

    Angel Rules!!

  12. evanescent Says:

    To Cragar: Happiness is the most important thing at the end of the day. It is good to hear you say though that they will have the chance to question and think for themselves.

    To Sean: Agreed!

  13. BlackSun Says:

    Very moving story, and very well put. Congratulations on your freedom.

  14. Geno Says:

    I see no deconversions here – only conversions to a differing world view – one that puts “me” at the center of everything. (which you all are free to do, just be careful with your words or someone may assume you are being dishonest.)

    As to indoctrination I find that laughable. Everyone raises their kids to believe what they believe. I was raised by atheist parents to be an atheist. By watching their actions, listening to their words and observing their rage reactions to the mention of religion, we were indoctrinated. (I guess I went through a deconversion, or was that a conversion?)

    So, do you abuse your children through indoctrination to be good citizens or do you allow them “freethink” to choose when they are adults? Do you force them to go to school to be educated and socialized in a certain way or do you wait for them to be grow up and choose if they want to be educated or socialized?

  15. evanescent Says:

    Geno said:
    “I see no deconversions here – only conversions to a differing world view – one that puts “me” at the center of everything. (which you all are free to do, just be careful with your words or someone may assume you are being dishonest.)”

    I think you’re being disingenuous; it is not possible to indoctrinate someone to have a lack of belief. Every human is born an atheist.

    Parents should encourage children how to think, but not what to think.

    It is possible that parents force certain ideas on their children, so in this respect atheism could be forced on children just like theism is. But in both cases it is wrong.

    Atheism isn’t a belief system though, it is just lack of belief. It is not indoctrinated the way religion is.

    You’re correct about a differing world-view though: mine is rationalism; the only world-view that makes sense.

    Geno said:
    “As to indoctrination I find that laughable. Everyone raises their kids to believe what they believe.”

    YEAH! That’s the point! It’s wrong. Children should be raised how to think and learn for themselves, not WHAT to think.

    If I was to raise my children to believe in a religion, which of the millions do you suggest, and why?? Atheism is just the obvious starting point.

    Geno said:
    “I was raised by atheist parents to be an atheist. By watching their actions, listening to their words and observing their rage reactions to the mention of religion, we were indoctrinated. (I guess I went through a deconversion, or was that a conversion?)”

    That doesn’t sound like indoctrination to me. Children are very suggestible, so they will generally follow their parents attitudes. Religion encourages blind obedience and belief in the belief of your parents.

    Since humans are born atheists, that you grew up one was just the natural state. There are millions of different god beliefs on earth, none of which are better than any others. Atheism, which is disbelief, is the only position that makes sense until evidence is provided.

    Geno said:
    “So, do you abuse your children through indoctrination to be good citizens or do you allow them “freethink” to choose when they are adults?”

    I don’t understand this question. It’s probably a false dichotomy anyway.

    I believe all children should be raised to think freely. Don’t you??

    Geno said:
    “Do you force them to go to school to be educated and socialized in a certain way or do you wait for them to be grow up and choose if they want to be educated or socialized?”

    I would instill children with values and morals that are directly related to their own well-being and that of others. (Not based on the whims of a character in a book).

    I would teach them to listen and question, and think critically.

    Hopefully this will be enough for them to choose their own way, which ultimately should also be the right way.

    For example, I wouldn’t teach my children that homosexuality is evil and a sin. I wouldn’t teach them that a man in the sky watches them all the time. I wouldn’t teach them that only MY opinions are valid and right. I would teach them tolerance and science. I would teach them the value of evidence and reason, and never to accept something on faith (and why).

    But none of that is indoctrination. It is not faith or a belief system. It is good common sense.

  16. Geno Says:

    evanescent,
    Interesting that you don’t consider any of what you do as indoctrination, just good thinking.

    So, if your child came home (let’s say a 12 yr old) and says “Pops, I have been talking to my friends and giving some thought to this as you raised me to do, and I think I am going to join the Baptist Church.” My question, do you give him a ride to church next week?

    (out of curiosity, I am assuming you are in England, what time is it there? I am on the west coast of the US and it is 10:40am.)

  17. evanescent Says:

    Geno said:
    “Interesting that you don’t consider any of what you do as indoctrination, just good thinking.”

    Did you read what I said? Did you understand it?

    It’s not “interesting” it’s a fact! Atheism isn’t a belief system. Religion, by definition, is! Religion has no evidence to support its claims. To teach children, (who cannot evaluation truth claims but will generally just believe), a religion is a mental injustice.

    Do we have children democrats, or children democratic socialists? Do we have children ultra-liberals? No, because these words mean nothing to them. To pin religious labels on children is even worse.

    Geno said:
    “So, if your child came home (let’s say a 12 yr old) and says “Pops, I have been talking to my friends and giving some thought to this as you raised me to do, and I think I am going to join the Baptist Church.” My question, do you give him a ride to church next week?”

    I’d probably go with him actually. Then when we got home I’d go through everything that was said, and we talk about the problems with it. Assuming my child understands logic and proper argumentation, I’m confident he would see through the fantasies and impossible promises.

    Geno said:
    “out of curiosity, I am assuming you are in England, what time is it there? I am on the west coast of the US and it is 10:40am.)”

    It’s now 6:47pm here!

  18. Geno Says:

    evanescent,
    Here is where the indoctrination comes in. You said “Then when we got home I’d go through everything that was said, and we talk about the problems with it.”
    What if he had not yet identified any “problems” to you? What if when he walked out of the church service he said “thanks Dad, that was great!” Do you start the indoctrination process by pointing out the “problems” (as you put it?)

    See, I think as soon as you say anything without being asked (especially if it comes after he said it was great)you are indeed starting an indoctrination process.

  19. evanescent Says:

    Geno said:
    “Here is where the indoctrination comes in. You said “Then when we got home I’d go through everything that was said, and we talk about the problems with it.”
    What if he had not yet identified any “problems” to you? What if when he walked out of the church service he said “thanks Dad, that was great!” Do you start the indoctrination process by pointing out the “problems” (as you put it?)”

    No. If there were no problems I’d start attending the churches myself and bring him along, secure in the knowledge that we’d found the truth; the one true religion!

    Unfortunately, NO religion on earth has ever provided evidence to support its claims. No one has ever proved God.

    The entire world does not make sense if one assumes theism, so a religion would have a long way to go to overcome these problems.

    But I’m not saying it will never happen, although I’d rate the chances at a billion to one.

    It is not indoctrination to subject something to critical analysis. Is this not how you analyse things??

    The problems with religion, like Christianity, are self-contradiction, absurdities, repression, ignorance, rejection of evidence, and total lack of proof. I cannot possibly see them ever being reconciled. I cannot possibly believe that the TRUE religion would have these qualities.

    But if there was such a thing:

    http://ebonmusings.org/atheism/onetrue.html

    …Then I would be happy to believe.

    You seem to imply criticism is indoctrination, when you know full well that it isn’t.

    How is pointing out problems indoctrination? Has it ever occurred to you that these problems are real and demand answers, and if there are no answers perhaps the religion is just plain wrong?

  20. Geno Says:

    evanescent,
    Parents have a way of squashing the “freethink” of their children. This is exactly what you would be doing. Instead of letting your child continue in what he perceived as “good” (the visit to the Baptist Church) and allowing him to follow his own path and let his own mind decide what he thinks about his experience, you would feel compelled to step in and set him straight, by imposing your “beliefs” about disbelief.

    Again, I don’t know why atheist can’t admit that they work just as hard to raise their children to think like they do, as any religious person does.

    If you were true to your statements, you would let him go along unhindered to discover for himself. Once he said “thanks Dad that was great” I would think that is his free will and free mind speaking. What say you? I will let you have the last word as I know it is getting late at your home.

  21. Geno Says:

    One last thing before I give you the last word. You guys all follow “Ebon’s” writings like they were scripture. I have read this one before – all he is saying is “If I were God this is how I would set things up.”
    Perhaps if I were God, I would set them up different than what he would and you the same.
    So, what’s the big deal, it’s view. And as far as opinions go, yes that is one.

  22. Geno Says:

    correction – “it’s his view.”

  23. evanescent Says:

    Geno:
    “Parents have a way of squashing the “freethink” of their children. This is exactly what you would be doing. Instead of letting your child continue in what he perceived as “good” (the visit to the Baptist Church) and allowing him to follow his own path and let his own mind decide what he thinks about his experience, you would feel compelled to step in and set him straight, by imposing your “beliefs” about disbelief.”

    I would feel compelled to step in and examine the belief with him. Religious belief requires faith, and faith is dangerous and irrational. I would not be a loving father if I taught my children faith.

    Saying that I have “belief about disbelief” is blatantly dishonest and I am disappointed in you; you have been debating with atheists long enough to know that atheism is lack of belief. How can you have belief in a lack of belief?? You should know better. I think this just shows that for all our talk, you really just don’t listen. Do you believe in your disbelief of Santa Claus? No, didn’t think so.

    Geno said:
    “Again, I don’t know why atheist can’t admit that they work just as hard to raise their children to think like they do, as any religious person does.”

    But THEY DON’T though, which is what I’ve just been trying to tell you. You don’t listen to anything I say. You just come back and repeat yourself as though I said nothing.

    Geno said:
    “If you were true to your statements, you would let him go along unhindered to discover for himself. Once he said “thanks Dad that was great” I would think that is his free will and free mind speaking. What say you? I will let you have the last word as I know it is getting late at your home.”

    If you had listened to anything I said you wouldn’t have asked that question.

    Seriously Geno this is very disappointing my friend. You pay no attention to the comments of others and just repeat yourself. I mean no offence at all, but this is exactly what it’s like to argue with a child. You are an experienced, intelligent, educated man – but when it comes to your beliefs you are like a child stuck in a fantasy world.

    What makes me question the point in debating with you is simply that you don’t listen to anything anyone says.

    Please, read my last post again about faith, and requiring evidence. Did you not see what I said about the problems with religion? Did you just blank that out and allow your mind to gloss over it? Well don’t. Go back and read what i said. Think about it.

    I’m not interested in having the last word (it’s 7:54 here, don’t worry well before my bedtime!), and please don’t take this the wrong way, but if you keep repeating yourself and ignoring what I write then I just won’t reply.

  24. Geno Says:

    When I said;
    “Here is where the indoctrination comes in. You said “Then when we got home I’d go through everything that was said, and we talk about the problems with it.”
    What if he had not yet identified any “problems” to you? What if when he walked out of the church service he said “thanks Dad, that was great!” Do you start the indoctrination process by pointing out the “problems” (as you put it?)”

    You followed up and said;
    No. If there were no problems I’d start attending the churches myself and bring him along, secure in the knowledge that we’d found the truth; the one true religion!

    Now here may be where we talk past each other – you said “if there were no problems.” Your son (hypothetical) had already told you that from his point of view that there are “no problems” once he said it was great. What I am saying, is that you do not trust his opinion nor his own rational thought. Therefore, you will now impose on him “your” problems. (I don’t know how old you are or if you have any children – but parents do exert great influence on their children in giving an opposing position.)

    I read your posts very clearly, but you have framed the discussion to not allow opposition to your view. You state off hand that what I do is indoctrination but what you do isn’t. That somehow you cannot indoctrinate to “lack of belief.” But you do, as soon as your son says I want to be a Baptist, you are going to start the indoctrination process to bring him back into the fold. (I don’t think that indoctrination has to be a bad word. We “indoctrinate” everyone as to the rules of driving – I never figured out how you guys ended up on the wrong side of the road.)

  25. evanescent Says:

    Geno said:
    “Now here may be where we talk past each other – you said “if there were no problems.” Your son (hypothetical) had already told you that from his point of view that there are “no problems” once he said it was great. What I am saying, is that you do not trust his opinion nor his own rational thought. Therefore, you will now impose on him “your” problems. (I don’t know how old you are or if you have any children – but parents do exert great influence on their children in giving an opposing position.)”

    You are right I think; this is where we talk past each other. Remember that he is my child and as such I have to take care of him, without doing his thinking for him.

    Like I said, religious belief requires faith, which is irrational. So yes, if someone (anyone) has faith they are being irrational! So how could I think otherwise?

    The problems with religion are not MY problems, they are objective real problems and I listed them earlier, and I don’t think even a religious person like yourself could disagree with them. They may not be problems in your eyes, but they are still very real issues that I could not in good conscience not warn my child of.

    Perhaps a good way to let you see where I’m coming from is if your child joined a Muslim fundamentalist camp, which you knew had affiliations to terrorism. Would you respect his choice then?? Or would you think that maybe he was being deluded and didn’t have all the facts?

    I’m not saying for a second that you would be a terrorist Geno and I’m not putting you in that camp. But, your beliefs are in essence no different because both Muslims and Christians believe absurd things based on faith. There is no objective difference between you. So if you understand why you reject other religions and would more than gladly point out to your child the problem with them, you can see why I would point out the problems with ALL of them, including your religion.

    You cannot possibly believe this is imposition, or indoctrination. No more so than explaining to a child why he should look both ways before he crosses the street is indoctrination! And if he says “oh it’s ok dad I really like just crossing without looking” would you accept that as an answer?? Faith is just as dangerous.

  26. cragar Says:

    Geno, this is a very interesting debate and I can appreciate your persistance, but your logic has one complete flaw.

    The Bible. Or Koran. But I know little to nothing of the Koran so I can’t comment on it. On tobe’s site you seemed to try to be ambiguous about what you believe. But bottom line is if you are religious, you have to use a book, whether it’s the Bible, Koran or something else, because there is no other evidence. Most theists, when argued against, try to refer to the Bible. You, until your hypothetical question about what happens if your child goes to a Baptist church, have thankfully stayed away from going that route.

    The bottom line is the Baptist church is going to use the Bible and say this is your proof and what you base your FAITH in. Yet, the Bible has all kinds of contradictions, flaws and problems. In the same book, you have a flood that covered the entire earth for 6+ months and there is no evidence it ever happened, a talking donkey, Lot’s wife turned into a pillar of salt, Jonah being eaten by a whale, and Jesus being resurrected from the dead–not to mention numerous others, just trying to be brief. So if we know parts of the book are untrue, can we not deduce, especially without any evidence, that the rest is untrue also? Especially when the evidence points in other directions.

    Would I like to believe there is a God? Of course. And maybe there is some divine being after this life. I just know it’s not the one portrayed in the Bible and taught by religions today.

  27. Geno Says:

    You said – “Perhaps a good way to let you see where I’m coming from is if your child joined a Muslim fundamentalist camp, which you knew had affiliations to terrorism. Would you respect his choice then?? Or would you think that maybe he was being deluded and didn’t have all the facts?”

    That is exactly the point. You and I would have the exact same reaction to this and the same remedy. We would each sit the child down and tell him why “WE” think it is incorrect to join the Muslim fundamentalist group and “WE” would inform him as to what reaction “WE” would like him to have. We both would do the exact same – but you want to apply (for this discussion) a pejorative term to what I do and some “rational” nice guy term to what you do. But in the end, we both think “WE” know what is right and wrong for the child and “WE” don’t mind telling him. My question is would you force him to obey you and not join? I would! (remember, 12 yrs old)

    A summary of what you had said previous is “my child can believe whatever he wants as long as it meets my standards for logic and reason. That my friend is indoctrination.

    As to the point in your next post; I am not “ambiguous about what I believe” as you stated. However, what I believe in specific is unimportant to any of these discussions. And trust me, I do not want to convert you. Again, as I said yesterday, you narrow the frame of discussion to saying “no evidence” – but if I offer it you reject it as “no evidence.” I will give you an example (an I am sure that you’ve heard it before)
    I have never seen the wind, but I can give you evidence that there is wind or a wind storm by the evidence of moving leaves on a tree, debris flying in the air and trees bent over. Before modern day technology, if a tornado blew through town what was the requirement to evidence such a happening to collect on the insurance? All the houses are blown down! I know that it is simple but it is acceptable evidence – just as we may not see God, but we see the results of God’s presence. (and I don’t even care if people want to point to evil acts to prove god – our discussion is god vs no god.)
    As I said yesterday, all of the jurors chose to ignore the evidence in the OJ Simpson trial and let him go. Their world view (oppression of the black man) was more important to them than any evidence before them to allow justice to be served.
    It is my personal feeling that that is how atheist automatically react to anything presented to them about God – that doesn’t matter, it gets in the way of my world view. It takes away from “me” being at the center.

    (In the end, I hope you do not take anything I say as personal, I am sure you are a fine person and would always do what is best for your family.)

  28. Geno Says:

    OOPS, sorry, I missed that the last post was from cragar. My comments are to both, and my apologies to both.

  29. Geno Says:

    cragar,
    You said – “But bottom line is if you are religious, you have to use a book, whether it’s the Bible, Koran or something else, because there is no other evidence.”

    This is false, I don’t think Native Americans had a Book, I think it was passed down orally. What did your Druid ancestors use? I don’t think they had a Book.

  30. evanescent Says:

    Geno said:
    “That is exactly the point. You and I would have the exact same reaction to this and the same remedy. We would each sit the child down and tell him why “WE” think it is incorrect to join the Muslim fundamentalist group and “WE” would inform him as to what reaction “WE” would like him to have. We both would do the exact same – but you want to apply (for this discussion) a pejorative term to what I do and some “rational” nice guy term to what you do. But in the end, we both think “WE” know what is right and wrong for the child and “WE” don’t mind telling him. My question is would you force him to obey you and not join? I would! (remember, 12 yrs old)
    A summary of what you had said previous is “my child can believe whatever he wants as long as it meets my standards for logic and reason. That my friend is indoctrination.”

    No, you don’t get it. The standards are: logic and reason. They aren’t MY standards. They are objective, unchanging, necessary truths – such as the law of non-contradiction, and requiring evidence before one believes.

    X cannot be X and also Y at the same time. Geno cannot be in New York and also California at the same time. Something cannot be true and also self-contradictory. Believing when there is no reason to is not logical.

    If you cannot see this then that is very worrying indeed. I don’t really know what else to say to you on this because if you can’t see the difference between evidence and faith there is no point.

    Geno said:
    “I know that it is simple but it is acceptable evidence – just as we may not see God, but we see the results of God’s presence. (and I don’t even care if people want to point to evil acts to prove god – our discussion is god vs no god.)”

    The problem with your analogy Geno is that we know what causes the wind and it is unmistakable, explainable, testable, repeatable, and totally understandable. In fact, it is virtually impossible for the wind to be explained any other way.

    Unfortunately, what you call the “results of God’s presence” whether good or bad, are not really proof at all.

    Now now, hear me out! :) They MIGHT be God, but they MIGHT be something else, and the split is not 50/50 because god is such an extraordinary claim, it requires extraordinary evidence. The non-god explanation is generally always better than the god explanation, (simply because we CAN explain it, whereas we can’t explain god).

    Now, I don’t think I’m being unfair here, because throughout history (as I’m sure you’re well aware) humans have always tried to explain what they didn’t understand with God. But unfortunately they got it wrong every time. e.g.: the sun, where rain comes from, what is thunder?, where did we come from?, explaining comets and acts of nature. But when we did research we explained these things better with a natural explanation.

    I don’t think you can give me one instance in history where the god explanation won over the non-god one. And there is nothing wrong with that – it’s a matter of history.

    Now, that doesn’t prove that your god doesn’t exist. At this moment I am not interested in trying to disprove it to you. I am just trying to show you, that, even IF your god DOES exist, what you’re trying to show as evidence isn’t really evidence, because it doesn’t actually prove anything.

    I hope you understand this Geno, and this isn’t being close-minded or me shutting the door on you: what MIGHT be evidence of God just MIGHT be evidence of something else. But the “something else” explanation always seems to make more sense, and if we look back through history, let’s face it every time someone claimed that “such an such” what god’s presence it turned out to be something else.
    Don’t you think the same could be happening here?

    Let me say again: this isn’t me setting the goalposts. I am not saying “oh well your god doesn’t exist”. In fact, let’s forget for a second whether he does or doesn’t. What matters is whether there is PROOF. And so far nothing you’ve mentioned really counts as proof. In other words, if it were a court of law on earth for instance, nothing would be accepted as good evidence. Does that make sense?

  31. evanescent Says:

    Geno said:
    “(In the end, I hope you do not take anything I say as personal, I am sure you are a fine person and would always do what is best for your family.)”

    Thank you very much. I’m sure you’re the same.

    It’s hard to express emotion over text, and I admit that sometimes my exasperation manifests itself as sarcasm. Perhaps also things can be mis-interpreted too easily.

    I am leaving for the night very soon now, so if I don’t reply, I will tomorrow.

  32. Geno Says:

    You said – “Geno cannot be in New York and also California at the same time.” Of course I could. Cut me in half and send each section to LA and NY. (and I can show evidence for that.) So perhaps logic isn’t so clear. (having fun with you)

    You break your own rule here! “IF your god DOES exist, what you’re trying to show as evidence isn’t really evidence, because it doesn’t actually prove anything.” If my God exists, there is no requirement for proof. Existence is proof in itself! Therefore, you really can’t even allow for the possibility of a god and no atheist says that.

  33. Geno Says:

    clicked off before I could say, have a good night

  34. evanescent Says:

    Geno said:
    “You said – “Geno cannot be in New York and also California at the same time.” Of course I could. Cut me in half and send each section to LA and NY. (and I can show evidence for that.) So perhaps logic isn’t so clear. (having fun with you)”

    You’d be dead! So “you” wouldn’t be in either place!

    Geno said:
    “You break your own rule here! “IF your god DOES exist, what you’re trying to show as evidence isn’t really evidence, because it doesn’t actually prove anything.” If my God exists, there is no requirement for proof. Existence is proof in itself!”

    Wrong. Existence is not proof in itself. There might be a teapot orbiting the moon. It’s existence is either a fact or not, there is no inbetween. If there is no evidence for its existence it is not logical to believe that there is a teapot.

    Correspondingly, there may very well be a teapot there all along, and you might just so happen to be right. But you’d only be right by sheer luck. It could just as easily be a kettle.

    When you stop talking about proof, you cease to have any meaning in terms of reality. Anything goes. And I don’t think you want to go down that route with god.

    Geno said:
    “Therefore, you really can’t even allow for the possibility of a god and no atheist says that.”

    Now, I’m not entirely sure what you’re saying here.

    What I have said is that whether or not god exists, proof is required for belief. You can’t just say “god exists, even though there is no proof”. He MIGHT exist, but your belief still isn’t rational, because it isn’t based on anything. To explain further: Aliens MIGHT exist. But there is no proof of them. Whether or not aliens actually exist does not make a belief valid. What makes a belief valid is the evidence for it.

    Everyone can allow for the possibility of god. But then everyone can allow for the possibility of anything! “god” is just one of countless things that could or couldn’t exist (depending on what “god” means). Instead of god, I could believe in Zorg. Now, Zorg MIGHT ACTUALLY exist, whatever that means. But do I have evidence of Zorg? No.

    It’s the same with God. We need objective definitive testable proof; the kind that would hold up in a court of law, or better yet, a science experiment (the most rigorous and best way of testing we have). Or a logical argument that proves his existence. Nothing of the sort exists at the moment though.

  35. Geno Says:

    You said – “You’d be dead! So “you” wouldn’t be in either place!”
    Now you sound like a theist! Are you saying that when I die that there is some immaterial part of me that is gone, has left me? As a physical being aren’t I just the same (material wise) as when I was living? Isn’t “me” still there? Where did I go? Was it heaven or hell?

    You said – “There might be a teapot orbiting the moon. It’s existence is either a fact or not, there is no inbetween. If there is no evidence for its existence it is not logical to believe that there is a teapot.” You said it, the teapots existence is fact whether we believe it or not. And so is the existence of God. The America’s were in fact real long before the Europeans made the discovery – it didn’t change a single aspect about America’s existence just because some fat Italians showed up!
    So you would agree with me that Carl Sagan was full of irrational thoughts up until his death as he tried to communicate with beings from other far distant places? He had no evidence at all to even think that there are other beings in the universe (in fact he had to make up the concept), but he lived his life everyday as if there were – that must sound pretty wacky to you.
    Go to bed, you won’t be able to get up for work tomorrow.

  36. Darren Says:

    Geno, you’re being disingenuous and deflecting from the argument at hand. The New York/California analogy was poor.

    “X cannot be X and also Y at the same time. Geno cannot be in New York and also California at the same time.”

    Geographical location is not the same as being. A better example would have been “You cannot be you and me at the same time”

    While the existence of a thing is entirely unaffected by whether you believe it or not, it is also true that the burden of proof lies with the claimant. If someone told you that your house was on fire, would you believe them without proof? If someone told you that they believe that the earth is flat because it appears to be so, would you believe them unquestioningly, or correct them? If I told you I was the President of the United States, would you require proof?

    Please tell me why the god hypothesis does not require evidence.

  37. Geno Says:

    Darren,
    2 points.
    1.) The logic actually goes this way “X cannot be non X at the same time AND in the same manner. So as you see, I did answer evanescent properly. (but you didn’t read deep enough – I told him I was having fun at his expense.) But you didn’t address that he brought up the immaterial part of me.

    2.) to the issue of the President. I am 58 yrs old, I have never met the president nor seen him in person and I don’t personally know a single person who has. Therefore, I use as evidence for his existence things that he has affected and left his mark (whether it be damage in Iraq or spending too much public money papers he has signed etc.)
    I make the claim that those evidences are also available to show the existence of God. (you can deny them, but I could also deny the existence of Napoleon.)

    See what you miss is that we do look at evidences (and they have all been laid out before, but your side just says “no evidence” and moves on.) I have read enough of Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, Brian Sapien etc. to know that they all use the same “talking points” and will not move off script. So, we continue to talk past each other.

  38. Darren Says:

    Geno, you have not met the President, but it is quite simple to do so, and nobody doubts his existence because the evidence is plain and the claim that the President exists is not extraordinary.

    You claim there is evidence for the existence of a god, and I suspect that you only make that claim because you wish it to be so, but I contend that the evidence is nothing more than hearsay, superstition and fabrication. I invite you to prove otherwise.

    You are correct on one thing: Napoleon does not exist.

  39. RBH Says:

    Evanescent, just so you know, you’re welcome on Infidels any time. We even have your mod’s jackboots stashed in a closet somewhere. :)

    RBH

  40. Arte Seducao Segredos Says:

    Well done, great blog and great posts!!!

  41. Corrina Eudora Says:

    see it’s very define,your one of a kin. Corrina Eudora.

  42. psiloiordinary Says:

    Great post.

    You have achieved something wonderful by breaking out into the real world.

    Ultimately its the people out here that make it worthwhile.

    Kudos to you.

    - – -

    A Liverpool fan as well – is there an end to your talents?

  43. evanescent Says:

    Hi Psi, thank you very much!

    As for being a red, well, I guess at least the Kop is divine!

  44. Oxysmoron Says:

    Stopped by (for some reason) and read several issues on your blog. You come across clear and I did enjoy reading what your heart has laid out. I have been interested in the last months to read heart stories of them who have similar experiences… de-converting, and many who not only de-convert, but also take the extreme route of tossing “The Lie” into the trash. Seems you were on a mission with challenging others who believe ‘no one can shake their faith’.

    I have said recently (many times), for the very first time in my 52 yrs have I been challenged severely about what I stand firm on and in the way I believe. The more we reason, the more knowledge we obtain, the more likely we may come away from what was a Solid Belief. Although I have been open to listening to others and their views (outside of my own), I have found there are some things to which no one has been able to submit to me,whereby the argument/debate would diminish the simpler Truths set forth by Jesus. The first one is: God is of no religion, yet man continues to make Him apart of their religion. Religion doesn’t indicate what God says, has said, or will say. We obtain lies from religion; not God. Just as man creates religion, man creates a world filled with knowledge that has cracks filled with manipulative lies. What has been proven will thus be disproved and a new fact will fill the gap for the present generation… whereby this generation will stand on it’s belief system of what is Truth.

    We try so desperately to reason in our own minds what is meaningful truth to us and the strange part of it all is that we want others to follow in our newfound territory of Realization. I too visited many boards of debating. Bottom line for me was in the end as I lay my head upon pillow I would think to myself: why do they try so hard to convince me I am wrong? I don’t impose religion on them. I do not try to convert. I only answer the questions they propose to me with sincerity and yet it is as if they are never satisfied with the answer… the debate could be ever exhausting, because they themselves want to be Righted. It isn’t about being righted as far as I am concerned… it is about standing Firm on something you believe. You see why God hates religion? You see why I hate religion? Because it all is filled with lies in order to Rule over people and they Manufacture it for profit. God has never lied to you… people and religion lied to you. He hasn’t ever lied to me and everything He has put forth to me has come to pass. And that doesn’t make me a psychic, or one with very good intuition. In the face of science I have seen evidences that should have put me into a wheelchair, but oh no I am walking just fine. This wasn’t the will to live; for I thought of suicide daily. Science was startled, and so was I. This is something unexplainable to me and to others. Who is keeping me daily and who is it who keeps my legs strong; even tho the evidence proves otherwise? Could be somewhere in the back of my mind something I am not aware of that drives me forward… who knows? Yet that would seem to diminish what is in my heart… knowing I am kept by someone greater than I. My daughter wasn’t brought up with religion, but she has another story and I don’t have to prove anything to her… for she sees with her own eyes the depths of something she is unable to understand. For we never have to prove God… He proves Himself. He is the One who is teaching; not me.

    Again tho, I appreciate your open heart. I will check out your other pages… you write well.

  45. evanescent Says:

    Oxysmoron, the thing to grasp, indeed one of the most important things to grasp, is this: our emotions are the results of our cognitive process. The things we believe and think dictate our emotions, at least, if we are rational they do.

    That is why it is irrational and foolish to use emotions are a guide to truth. If we are rational, we can train our subconscious and conscious reactions to respond correctly. But our guide to making decisions is reason, which is integrated with logic by reference to reality. Now, our consciousness and our emotions do not affect reality – it is the other way around! You can feel whatever you want about something, but unless your emotion has been guided by reason, you are placing emotion with primacy over reality – you are in effect wishing for a state of affairs; you’re asking reality to submit to YOUR desires, your emotion.

    But existence has primacy – always. We live by acknowledging this fact and acting accordingly. Those who put emotion, or gut feeling, or hope, or FAITH over reason are contradicting the nature of reality, and are asking for trouble – and are lying to themselves.

    Oxysmoron, you’re welcome to believe whatever you want, and you’re welcome to kid yourself that god exists – but you cannot make it true by an act of will. No matter how comforting that belief might be, it is false. No matter how convinced you are, and how happy you think this wishful-thinking makes you, it is still false.

    You need to take some responsibility for your own actions – realise that you are a living rational volitional being with a mind and consciousness and morality. You cannot and should not fob this off into the hands of a magical being. You can create your own purpose in life and pursue it by achieving your values – this is what results in true happiness – the joy that comes from realising your non-contradictory values. And the only person you have to thank is YOURSELF. You are not a being made for the servile worship and bootlicking of a magical dictator – you are a rational human being that is privileged to be alive. To live like a human is to live like a rational being and by YOUR OWN arbiter. Give yourself some credit!

  46. Michelle Says:

    I came over to check your post. I really enjoyed reading this one. I had a “feeling” you were British. I lived in Manchester back in 1986-87 and worked at a Christian bookstore. The time there changed my belief system. I came from a false teaching and was surrounded by authors I was told not to read. Well, it’s too long a story, if you are at all interested it’s on my blog considerjesus.wordpress.com under the post “In Him, Alone.”

    Now that the “crazy nut-job” has come over, you may have wished you’d never invited me.

    Blessings to you ~Michelle ;)

  47. The Ancient Says:

    Where do you think awareness goes when it abandons the structure that housed it?

  48. evanescent Says:

    A better question is: where does a house go after it burns to the ground?

  49. Allisteria Says:

    Evanescent you said,
    “For me, the bible is either the perfect inerrant word of God, or it isn’t. It’s as simple as that. I don’t accept that the bible is the word of god but also contains errors. I know liberal Christians might accept that, but that doesn’t make sense to me. Because, how can the bible be god’s message to man, whilst he allows it to be mistranslated, erroneous, or confusing. No, I’m sorry, that doesn’t work. Either the bible is god’s perfect word, or it is a lie; a myth; a collection of old primitive stories. This isn’t a false dichotomy, it is simply the only rational way to view the bible.”

    I don’t see how it isn’t a false dichotomy. I’m sure you know the game telephone. One person whispers a message to another, then in turn that person whispers the message to the next, until the last person in the line hears what is said. Without almost fail the message is somehow skewed. How can you rule out the possibility of God telling people one thing and the people saying something else? Jesus talks about false prophets so it is shown in the Bible that God allows for some misunderstandings of God’s word. How can you not even allow for this possibility to exist?

  50. evanescent Says:

    Allisteria, that’s a good question – but I believe I really addressed it in the article itself. Think about it: what is the purpose of the bible? I think the only sensible way to view the bible is as communication from God to human beings. Therefore, since nothing is beyond God’s power, and he can employ anything comprehensible (or even incomprehensible to our minds) no matter how great or small to bring his will to pass, it makes no sense for him to provide vital information for us, but allow that information to be warped and twisted by time, interpretation, ambiguity etc. The idea of an errant bible is inconsistent with the entire premise of the bible. If God is so flippant to offer the bible as a book of suggestions, i.e. “it’s mostly just poetic prose and metaphor – take what you will from it” – why shouldn’t we be so equally capricious and ignore it?

    I don’t buy, and I never have, the idea that God’s word can so easily be twisted. The bible is so widely open to interpretation, and yet so blatantly clear in other respects, that God clearly put so little effort into making sure it reached us in one piece. Furthermore, that “piece” we have today is a product of Catholic interpretation and cherry picking millenia ago.

    Finally, your last few questions are not really a logical rebuttal of what I said. I don’t deny that even the greatest philosophers can be misquoted and taken out of context by people. But the source itself is what it is. The possibilities are either: God wrote something so archaic, contradictory, anti-human, and bafflingly ambiguous originally (which contradicts the idea that the bible is a message from God), or God wrote something perfect, harmonious, pro-human, and crystal clear, yet allowed it to simply decay into the aforementioned state due to time and/or corruption (which contradicts the idea that the bible is a message from God). If you had important information to pass onto people you cared about, and you had eternity and omnipotence to do so, would you be so sloppy and callous?

    You either take the bible as the inerrant word of God, or as an historical text written by ancient humans. Every single scrap of evidence and reason points to the latter.

  51. Allisteria Says:

    You are thinking God must think the way you think and are not allowing God to be different from what you imagine God to be. What is the premise of the Bible? Is it only to communicate God’s message? God communicates to man in many different ways, so why is it so important that this one way God communicates be flawless?

    God is not controlling, God has given us free will, and with that free will God allows for the message of God to be skewed. I am sure you are aware of the story of the garden of Eden where the serpent convinces Eve to eat the fruit of knowledge of good and evil. There God allowed the serpent to skew what had been said to test Adam and Eve. If God would not have allowed this to happen God would have removed free will, because free will allows us to think separate from God. My point is this if God corrected the Bible every time someone skewed what was written in it then no one would be allowed to deny the existence of God which in effect removes free will. God wants us to believe in God without all the evidence, it’s called faith.

    Thanks for replying so quickly:)

  52. evanescent Says:

    Alli, the garden of Eden myth is rather obviously contradictory. Before they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and bad, Adam and Eve did not have knowledge of good and bad, therefore they could not make an informed moral choice between “good” and “bad”, i.e. obeying God or not obeying him – since they didn’t know which was which. You might say “but obeying god is good” – but what is good?? Adam and Eve didn’t know until AFTER they ate, by which time it too late.

    You are thinking God must think the way you think and are not allowing God to be different from what you imagine God to be. What is the premise of the Bible? Is it only to communicate God’s message? God communicates to man in many different ways, so why is it so important that this one way God communicates be flawless?

    That’s all well and good, Alli – but then what makes you think that you can speak on behalf of god? What knowledge do you have (presumably from the bible) that I missed? How did you get this information about the mind of god?

    And are you suggesting that God could communicate in a way that is flawed? I.e. imperfect? Can God be imperfect? Even if he can, why would he be? Isn’t that rather convenient? How come the god of the bible appears no different than any of god humans have invented throughout history?

    Maybe there’s something wrong with my “imagination” of what god is supposed to be. But then, maybe there’s something wrong with *your* image of god? Isn’t it rather convenient that you can say my interpretation of god and the bible might be flawed since I can’t understand the mind of god…yet *you* do seem to be able to understand the mind of god and what he intended?

    And even if you’re right – the obvious question which you cannot answer is: why? Why would god be so sloppy with the bible? Why would he be flawed? Why would he let his communication become twisted? Why not simply get it right? Why not use his power to ensure accuracy? You see – it just doesn’t make any sense if you believe that the bible is god’s word. If, however – the bible is just a book written by men, like the Koran and all other religious books – it suddenly makes total sense! There is no longer any contradiction to resolve.

    Finally, if god wants us to believe without evidence, but rather faith – then why aren’t you a Muslim? They have just as much (or little) evidence for their god as you do – but since evidence is irrelevant, all that matters is faith. Why is their blind belief in their god different to your blind belief in yours? Does evidence matter or doesn’t it? Does reason matter or not? If belief is belief, whose belief is right? And how do you decide?

  53. Allisteria Says:

    You are right to say that Adam and Eve could not have made an informed moral choice. The choice of Adam and Eve is not a moral one, it is a choice of priority. Do I value God above myself? Do I trust God? They answered no. It being right or wrong did not matter because they were not choosing between what was right and wrong they were choosing between God and themselves.

    In response to:
    “And are you suggesting that God could communicate in a way that is flawed? I.e. imperfect? Can God be imperfect? Even if he can, why would he be? Isn’t that rather convenient? How come the god of the bible appears no different than any of god humans have invented throughout history?”
    I guess I wasn’t clear. I don’t think God is flawed, but God’s message can be skewed by man. these other things are tangents. I’d rather stick with the question I started with. Why can’t you accept the possibility of a perfect god sending a perfect message that gets skewed by man? I don’t think you have answered that yet. I think you are forcing things into a dichotomy so you can deny the possibility of the existence of a god.

  54. evanescent Says:

    Alli, you said: “It being right or wrong did not matter because they were not choosing between what was right and wrong they were choosing between God and themselves.”

    I think you missed the point, and it’s rather obvious: why should they have chosen god over themselves? Are you saying that would be *right*?? Would it be *wrong* to choose themselves over god? If so – then you concede it is a matter of right and wrong – the very thing they didn’t know at the time. If you deny this, then your only alternative is to say that their choice *wasn’t* right or wrong, which defeats the notion of condemning them for their actions – which is certainly what you and the bible do. You can’t dress it up any other way: you say they chose themselves, which was wrong – but they didn’t know right from wrong according to the bible. So the whole punishment is a contradiction and a miscarriage of justice.

    As for your second paragraph, can God’s message be skewed by man? Again, why would god let his message be skewed in the first place? Imagine writing a love letter to the person of your dreams, and standing by whilst it got re-written and re-translated with parts crossed out, parts lost, and in the end your love can’t even decide what the letter is supposed to say, or even if you’re alive anymore – worse still, there are hundreds of other people defaming you and lying about you. And despite all this, you have unlimited power to ensure accuracy at any step of the way… But instead you stand behind the curtain, quietly, letting this all happen.

    It makes no sense.

    I don’t need to force this into a dichotomy to deny anything; the situation is just clearly absurd. This is exactly the same as every single other religion in human history, the story is always the same: there is a magical being who lives in the sky, but he never talks, never does anything, never communicates in a direct obvious provable way. You must believe on faith, and ignore the need for evidence. But every single other faith demands belief without evidence, so you have absolutely no reason to choose christianity over islam or hinduism, or anything else. If faith is needed, anything goes. You say I didn’t answer your question, although I did, but you didn’t answer mine, here it is again:

    “if god wants us to believe without evidence, but rather faith – then why aren’t you a Muslim? They have just as much (or little) evidence for their god as you do – but since evidence is irrelevant, all that matters is faith. Why is their blind belief in their god different to your blind belief in yours? Does evidence matter or doesn’t it? Does reason matter or not? If belief is belief, whose belief is right? And how do you decide?”

    And none of this is why I deny the existence of god. “God” is a false concept that has no meaning in the universe. I flatly reject the existence of god as a contradiction of reality, with 100% certainty, just as I reject the existence of square circles.

  55. Allisteria Says:

    Let me expand, choosing to eat the fruit was wrong, they could not have known that as you said, yet God told them not to eat the fruit. They knew to obey God, they understood this is what they should do because they were told. They knew God knew right from wrong and because God told them it was right they knew it was. They were not able to decide right from wrong for themselves. They wanted to decide right from wrong for themselves so they ate the fruit. Thus they were not choosing between right and wrong they were choosing between following what God said, or being able to decide for themselves what was right and wrong. It was an issue of values not morals. They chose to eat the fruit and suffered the consequence of death, which they knew would happen because they were told.
    Anyway, the reason I brought up this example was to say that God’s word has been skewed from the very beginning. That this idea is nothing new, and it isn’t in contradiction with God. You are saying that God cannot exist because God allows for God’s message to be skewed, but God’s message being skewed is found throughout the Bible. You haven’t sought out why God would allow God’s word to be skewed.

    The ones skewing God’s message are the ones God wrote it to. So it’s not like someone is skewing God’s love letter before it gets to God’s love. God’s love is skewing the letter they received. You might argue that the serpent skewed God’s message, and this is true, but the serpent skewed God’s message after the message had been received. So it is not like the message was given to them messed up. Besides that, the ultimate message has been received, that God loves mankind and wants a relationship with them. I know you understand this or you would not have called the Bible a love letter. So what does it matter if some king way back when took power when he was 22 or 24? In addition when God’s people had skewed what was written God sent Jesus to correct their misunderstandings and show them the heart of God’s message. God is not sitting by idly in the sky, God is bridging the gap we have created between us and God.
    Having faith does not mean ignoring evidence. Never ignore evidence. When you do that you become close-minded. When you are close-minded you cut yourself off from God and you cut yourself off from the world.

    There is plenty of evidence that works in favor of God. Evidence science gives us. Take the first law of thermodynamics for instance. Mater cannot be created or destroyed, and yet you are here. How did you get here if nothing created you? Let me rephrase that, how did you get here if by all human understanding you could not have come from nothing? If you lead it back to the Big Bang you will find the theorist who developed it believed in a creation moment. Without that the theory doesn’t follow the first law of thermodynamics. So tell me, with your rational thinking, how do you exist? How can anything exist for that matter if it came from nowhere?

    This undeniable evidence that you are seeking doesn’t exist. I’m sorry. Scientifically God cannot exist, because God cannot be tested. But just because something cannot be tested does not mean it does not exist. You want proof, I get that. You want to be certain, I understand. It’s nice being sure of what we see. But if you’ve ever read Plato you know you cannot be sure of what you see. And if you are smart you will know that you are not that smart, that you make logical errors and cannot trust with 100% accuracy that everything you think is correct. So your certainty is just as uncertain as my certainty.

    Do you want God to talk to you? God will talk to you if you really want God to. If you seek after God with all your heart and mind and soul you will find God. If you demand a sign nothing will happen.

    I apologize, I only answered the first part of what you commented. I read the whole thing but then got hasty and posted before answering everything. I never said evidence is irrelevant, and if I did I was wrong and apologize. I do not have a blind belief, just a firm one. You asked why aren’t I a Muslim? That is easy, Muslims believe Jesus was a prophet, therefore they must believe what Jesus said was the word of God. Jesus said he is the son of God and came to die for our sins that we might be with God, this is what we call a messiah. However Muslims do not believe Jesus is the messiah, therefore their religion is incongruent. In similar ways, using reason I have or believe I can find a way to prove to other world religions as incongruent. Similarly you will be able to find Christianity as incongruity if you would like. So as you asked, “If belief is belief, whose belief is right? And how do you decide?” This is a genuinely good question. If we believe that God is benevolent, which all the major world religions do, then we must believe that God will not want us to think of God as something different from what God is. If we seek out the truth earnestly we must believe God will guide us to the truth about God. If you really want the truth you will find it. If you want some happy story, you will find it. If you want a lie, you will convince yourself of it. So how do we decide who’s belief is right? I do not claim to be all knowing, but I do claim a little knowledge. With that knowledge I claim some things false, this narrows down the possibilities, then I find in the remaining possibilities something untrue and narrow down the possibilities further. You must understand, at any point all of my beliefs are up for trial. If I find anything I belief untrue I do not mind parting with it. Do you feel the same way?

    You said,”
    And none of this is why I deny the existence of god. “God” is a false concept that has no meaning in the universe. I flatly reject the existence of god as a contradiction of reality, with 100% certainty, just as I reject the existence of square circles.”
    Interesting statement. So you don’t believe in god because god cannot exist? Circular reasoning isn’t it? Look, I don’t mind if you don’t believe in a god, but have a good reason for it. I mean you call yourself a rationalist.

  56. evanescent Says:

    Let me expand, choosing to eat the fruit was wrong, they could not have known that as you said, yet God told them not to eat the fruit. They knew to obey God, they understood this is what they should do because they were told.

    This is circular reasoning. Why should they have obeyed God? Who says that obeying God was right or wrong? This might work for a trained monkey, but for human beings? If Adam and Eve were really unthinking automatons they should have obeyed God automatically, but they clearly weren’t since they chose not to. But they didn’t *know* what they were choosing, so there was just as much reason to obey god as disobey him.

    Are you saying that disobeying god was “wrong”??

    They knew God knew right from wrong and because God told them it was right they knew it was.

    Again, that doesn’t make sense. You can know that scientists are working on a Grand Unified Theory, you might even someday know that they know it, but YOU don’t know the Grand Unified Theory.

    The concepts “right” and “wrong” were meaningless to Adam and Eve before they ate. To illustrate, let me ask you: is it true that 12 gumjees equals a zooblah? How would you possibly know that this is right or wrong, true or false, without understanding what the concepts gumjee and zooblah represent?

    Surely you believe that god knows far far far more about the universe than humans, right? So god understood the nature of the space-time continuum way back in Adam and Eve’s day, right? So if god started using expressions like “graviton flux” and “event horizon” and “spin-2 virtual particles”, Adam and Eve should be expected to know what these concepts meant, right? The concepts “right” and “wrong” would be just as meaningless to them.

    They were not able to decide right from wrong for themselves. They wanted to decide right from wrong for themselves so they ate the fruit. Thus they were not choosing between right and wrong they were choosing between following what God said, or being able to decide for themselves what was right and wrong.

    Are you saying they made the “wrong” choice?? And if so, they didn’t know the difference between a right choice and a wrong choice anyway, so the contradiction remains.

    It was an issue of values not morals.

    I don’t see how you can separate values from morals. The entire purpose of morality is to guide our behaviour in the pursuit of values. It’s the job of philosophy to identify whether those values should be based on man’s reason, or divine decree – but always morality arises because values exist. This would require a fuller more philosophical elaboration, but values cannot be separated from morality.

    They chose to eat the fruit and suffered the consequence of death, which they knew would happen because they were told.

    For all they knew, God was lying. God told them one thing, a serpent told them another. How could they choose? How were they to make an informed decision between the two? How could they tell who was *right* and who was *wrong*? They didn’t have the capacity to make a proper choice. Again, the contradiction remains.

    Incidentally, god told them that in the day they ate from the tree they would positively die. They ate, and they died centuries later. The serpent told them that their eyes would be opened and they would become like god, in that they’d know good from bad. They ate, and this is what happened. So, the serpent was far more open and honest with the humans than god was.

    Anyway, the reason I brought up this example was to say that God’s word has been skewed from the very beginning. That this idea is nothing new, and it isn’t in contradiction with God. You are saying that God cannot exist because God allows for God’s message to be skewed, but God’s message being skewed is found throughout the Bible. You haven’t sought out why God would allow God’s word to be skewed.

    One very good reason for god allowing god’s word to be skewed is if he never existed in the first place, and the whole thing was written by man. Anything else appears like desperate clutching at straws.

    The ones skewing God’s message are the ones God wrote it to. So it’s not like someone is skewing God’s love letter before it gets to God’s love. God’s love is skewing the letter they received.

    I don’t think I understand this, and I don’t think you do either. Let me tell you, if I was standing over someone dictating a letter, the most important letter I’ve ever written to someone I deeply cared about, I would make damn sure that it was written accurately and properly, and in the correct style, with no room for error or doubt. The person I love would deserve nothing less, and I couldn’t care about them all that much if I just stood there getting stoned whilst the writer got it wrong.

    I’m also going to call you on your claim that “god’s love skewed the letter they received.” I’d like some biblical backing for this, or how you can possibly know this is true. A bible quote along the lines of “and god did instruct man to write his word, but because god loves man so much, his words got distorted…somehow” should do nicely. Please include the scriptural proof in your reply.

    You might argue that the serpent skewed God’s message, and this is true, but the serpent skewed God’s message after the message had been received.

    Let me get this straight: you’re claiming that the bible is flawed and contains errors, but this doesn’t disprove an inerrant god because god’s love skewed the message. For a start, how? Why does god’s love skew a message? How does this happen, and how can you know this? I know the bible pretty well and it doesn’t sound like this is based on any verse I know. Secondly, god is all-powerful, so if his chosen method of communication results in error, why not choose another method? He can do anything. The only conclusion is that he deliberately messed up his own word, for reasons unknown.

    So it is not like the message was given to them messed up. Besides that, the ultimate message has been received, that God loves mankind and wants a relationship with them.

    If I want a relationship with someone, I e-mail them, phone them, or meet them in person – tell them all about myself and ask them about themselves. I try to be honest and very clear about what I’m saying. If god, despite being all-powerful, of limitless energy, and ageless and tireless, can’t be bothered to communicate effectively, and worse, deliberately skew his own words – why should I care about getting to know him? A relationship takes two equal people, not a lazy aloof master and a slave.

    I know you understand this or you would not have called the Bible a love letter.

    I know how christians want the bible to be seen, hence the analogy to a love letter. In many parts, the bible reads more like vitriolic hate mail. The god of the bible no more loves human beings than Hitler was just trying to control an “overpopulation problem” with the Jews.

    So what does it matter if some king way back when took power when he was 22 or 24?

    It matters because even the poorest stories written today by human authors are checked for consistency and accuracy. These sorts of errors occur throughout the bible, which is exactly what you’d expect from a book of myths written by men. I wonder, are you also just as apologetic for the Koran despite all its contradictions?? Why the double standard?

    In addition when God’s people had skewed what was written…

    Woah, hang on a second – earlier you said that “god’s love” skewed what was written. Now you’re saying it was the writers’ fault. Which is it?

    …God sent Jesus to correct their misunderstandings and show them the heart of God’s message. God is not sitting by idly in the sky, God is bridging the gap we have created between us and God.

    Their misunderstandings? Just how difficult was god’s message to understand in the first place? Maybe he should’ve been clearer – he can do anything after all can’t he?

    If god is all-knowing, God knew that his original message would get skewed (by himself, apparently). Why did he then decide to clean up after himself, knowing that Jesus would correct misunderstandings? Wouldn’t it have made much more sense to send Jesus in the first place?? Problem solved. That way, there’d have been no chance for error. God could’ve saved thousands of years and millions of human lives by getting his message across properly in the first place. Why didn’t he? I guess he didn’t care enough.

    Having faith does not mean ignoring evidence. Never ignore evidence. When you do that you become close-minded. When you are close-minded you cut yourself off from God and you cut yourself off from the world.

    But in an earlier reply, you said: “God wants us to believe in God without all the evidence, it’s called faith.” So according to you, god wants us to believe in him on faith, not evidence. So which is it? How can faith (believing without evidence) be harmonious with evidence (believing due to reason and proof, regardless of personal belief)? The two are surely contradictory.

    But even if you can live with this glaring contradiction, and want to have faith AND evidence, what happens when the evidence contradicts your faith? Do you ignore it?? But you just said “never ignore evidence”.

    There is plenty of evidence that works in favor of God. Evidence science gives us. Take the first law of thermodynamics for instance. Mater cannot be created or destroyed, and yet you are here. How did you get here if nothing created you? Let me rephrase that, how did you get here if by all human understanding you could not have come from nothing? If you lead it back to the Big Bang you will find the theorist who developed it believed in a creation moment. Without that the theory doesn’t follow the first law of thermodynamics. So tell me, with your rational thinking, how do you exist? How can anything exist for that matter if it came from nowhere?

    The FLoT actually states energy, not matter. For a start, I suggest you read Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time. Secondly, what you’re using here is God of the Gaps reasoning – most atheists have seen it all before. What happens is: you take on area of uncertainty in science and declare that “god did it”. Of course, all throughout history there was someone somewhere saying “god did it”, like lightning, thunder, sunrise, eclipses, earthquakes, evolution etc. And we pulled back the curtain and….there was no god. Every time we pull back a curtain…there’s no god. Ever. Thirdly, the laws of our universe are a result of the current state of the universe. There are exceptions in space-time where these laws break down because the state of the universe is “abnormal” – such as singularities. General Relativity breaks down at the Big Bang, whereas Quantum Mechanics doesn’t have so much of a problem. Again, read Stephen Hawking. We have not yet unified Gravity into quantum mechanics, but when we do – a great deal more will be understood about the Big Bang.

    Finally, even if the birth of the universe in its current state is forever a mystery, why is this any less of a mystery than explaining where god came from? The whole Cosmological Argument for god rests on a contradictory premise: such extreme power and order must have a cause. Therefore, god being the most powerful and orderly thing in existence must also have a cause. If god doesn’t need a cause, neither does the universe. You cannot define “god” to be whatever you want. Well you can, but JK Rowling can define Harry Potter however she wants.

    This undeniable evidence that you are seeking doesn’t exist. I’m sorry. Scientifically God cannot exist, because God cannot be tested.

    Then why the pointless appeal to the First Law of Thermodynamics? Is there evidence for god or not?

    But just because something cannot be tested does not mean it does not exist. You want proof, I get that. You want to be certain, I understand. It’s nice being sure of what we see.

    Can you make up your mind please? Is there evidence or not?

    But if you’ve ever read Plato you know you cannot be sure of what you see.

    And if you’d ever read Ayn Rand you’d know that this denial of the senses is self-contradictory.

    If I can’t be sure of what I see, then I can’t be sure of Plato telling me I can’t be sure. Therefore I should be sure.

    Also, why do you invoke an ancient human philosopher to promote skepticism? Don’t you believe that your god would create you with the ability to perceive the world? If not, why not? Why did god give you such limited senses – and then expect you to live by means of them?

    And if you are smart you will know that you are not that smart, that you make logical errors and cannot trust with 100% accuracy that everything you think is correct. So your certainty is just as uncertain as my certainty.

    Well actually, the capacity for error implies a deviation from a norm, a standard – a standard of accuracy that we presumably *can* meet. If accuracy was impossible, then “error” would be a meaningless concept. It’s precisely because we perceive the world that the interpretation of our perception can be inaccurate. If you see a magician pulling a rabbit out of hat, you don’t conclude that your eyes are worthless and rip them out – you conclude that you have been deceived.

    I find it strange that you point out that I can make logical errors. Logic implies the ability to identify a standard – this and that – by reference to reality. But this is how we decide between *evidence*… but since you prefer faith to evidence, I assume that you can never ever be wrong? How convenient.

    Do you want God to talk to you? God will talk to you if you really want God to. If you seek after God with all your heart and mind and soul you will find God. If you demand a sign nothing will happen.

    How is “demanding a sign” different to seeking God? Why is god so petty and arrogant that an honest person demanding proof is given nothing, whilst a blind sheep who is prepared to obey like a pet is rewarded? What kind of parent would reward this behaviour?

    And, how do you rationalise the fact that as a Christian for 20 years, genuinely following the bible with all my heart and soul – he never spoke to me? Was I doing something wrong? Isn’t it rather convenient that all those people who spent their entire lives following god but seeing nothing just so happened to be doing wrong, and those who claim to know god just so happen to have all the answers and manage to get it just right?

    I apologize, I only answered the first part of what you commented. I read the whole thing but then got hasty and posted before answering everything. I never said evidence is irrelevant, and if I did I was wrong and apologize. I do not have a blind belief, just a firm one. You asked why aren’t I a Muslim? That is easy, Muslims believe Jesus was a prophet, therefore they must believe what Jesus said was the word of God. Jesus said he is the son of God and came to die for our sins that we might be with God, this is what we call a messiah. However Muslims do not believe Jesus is the messiah, therefore their religion is incongruent.

    This is circular reasoning. All you’ve shown is that Islam is contradictory. The question is: what makes you think Jesus was a prophet at all? What makes you think we can believe the bible when it talks of supernatural powers and incredible stories? Why is the bible different from Lord of the Rings? (Except that LOTR is better written and self-consistent.)

    In similar ways, using reason I have or believe I can find a way to prove to other world religions as incongruent. Similarly you will be able to find Christianity as incongruity if you would like.

    But if Christianity was true, why would it be incongruent?

    So as you asked, “If belief is belief, whose belief is right? And how do you decide?” This is a genuinely good question. If we believe that God is benevolent, which all the major world religions do, then we must believe that God will not want us to think of God as something different from what God is.

    Take a step back: why should anyone believe in god in the first place? Don’t you see that all your ideas and arguments start with an assumption: my particular version of god exists. You ask that I accept that, so everything else will follow. But why should I accept it in the first place? This isn’t like gravity or electromagnetism or evolution; you want me to believe in a particular version of a mythical sky god – and there are thousands of them throughout history – you want me to believe that every single person got it wrong about this invisible friend who lives in the sky, but *your* version is correct? Why should I accept that, and not all the others? Why not just reject them all?

    If you want some happy story, you will find it. If you want a lie, you will convince yourself of it.

    Indeed.

    You must understand, at any point all of my beliefs are up for trial. If I find anything I belief untrue I do not mind parting with it. Do you feel the same way?

    Well, given that we’re posting in the comments on my deconversion story, I think it’s clear that I can change my opinion and give up beliefs when necessary.

    Let me throw the question back at you: would you really give up a false belief? I mean, really really really? Because so far I’ve exposed every single flaw and contradiction with your beliefs and how they cannot make sense. I haven’t appealed to faith or magic once. Yet, I predict that you will keep coming up with mental contortions to preserve your beliefs, even in the face of opposing evidence.

    Interesting statement. So you don’t believe in god because god cannot exist? Circular reasoning isn’t it? Look, I don’t mind if you don’t believe in a god, but have a good reason for it. I mean you call yourself a rationalist.

    No, circular reasoning would be defining god in such a way to suit me, then declaring he doesn’t exist. I don’t need to define god, theists do it for me. God’s own spokesmen define him as self-contradictory, therefore I can dismiss him as a figment of their imagination, just like unicorns and the Easter Bunny.

  57. Allisteria Says:

    “No, circular reasoning would be defining god in such a way to suit me, then declaring he doesn’t exist. I don’t need to define god, theists do it for me. God’s own spokesmen define him as self-contradictory, therefore I can dismiss him as a figment of their imagination, just like unicorns and the Easter Bunny.”

    Lots of scientists disagree, yet you seem to believe in science. How is that different?

    Have you ever heard of a paradox? Can you conceive of one? Or must I take your hand and lead you step by step through every little thing I say you disagree with? Look I don’t have all day to do that. I wish I did, but I don’t. Besides I am not getting the impression you want to understand anyway. I wanted to understand your “false dichotomy” that is why I posted. If you want to understand, ask questions where you truly don’t understand. But please don’t be nitpicky.

    You said, “You can know that scientists are working on a Grand Unified Theory, you might even someday know that they know it, but YOU don’t know the Grand Unified Theory.”
    That is right. If I know scientist who knows the Grand Unified Theory, it doesn’t mean I know it. But the scientist I know can tell me the things they learn from the Grand Unified Theory that I can understand without knowing the Grand Unified Theory. Let me use math as an example. If God knows how to work the function y=2x, then God can tell man what the results of the function are without man having to know how to work the function y=2x.

    You said the serpent was more honest than God because Adam and Eve did not die immediately after eating the fruit. God never said when they would die. Yet the serpent said they surely would not die. Yet Adam and Eve did die. So the serpent was a liar, and God was honest. You have a good point saying that Adam and Eve could not have known for themselves if the serpent or God was right before they ate the fruit. In this situation they needed to have faith.

    Because we are finite, we will always have a finite amount of evidence. Therefore we will never have all the evidence. Where we do not have evidence we have faith.

    “I’m also going to call you on your claim that “god’s love skewed the letter they received.” I’d like some biblical backing for this, or how you can possibly know this is true”
    I will not give you biblical backing. You do not accept the Bible as a foundation and therefore I cannot use it in this argument. I know a lot of things are true without the Bible. For instance I exist, and I am nowhere in the Bible. You know a lot of things without the Bible:

    “The second book of Kings says that Ahaziah was 22 years old when he became king. The second book of Chronicles says he was 42 years old. Alarms bells went off in my head. ‘How can that be?!’, I thought. I immediately went downstairs to retrieve a copy of the New World Translation, which is the bible translation Jehovah’s Witnesses use. I looked up both passages: they both said 22! I felt a cold shiver – as one might feel when they discover themselves being watched, or part of a huge conspiracy. Had the Society re-edited their version of the bible to remove this contradiction?!”

    You have seen with your own eyes how people can skew the Bible. Why do I need biblical backing for this?

    God’s love is God’s people. I am surprised you didn’t get that. I thought you said you use to be a Christian? What was the point of saying this?

    I have never made an argument of why you should believe in God. I don’t think I should force you to believe in God. I don’t have undeniable evidence that says you should believe in God. I have my belief and you have yours. I would like to know why you believe what you do, that is all. I am open to tell you why I believe in God, but only if you ask.

    I wasn’t you for the 20 years you were a Christian, so I can’t tell you the ways God communicated to you in that time. How would you expect me to answer something only you could answer?

    I have stated that the point of the Bible was to tell humanity, God’s people, God’s love, that God loves them and wants a relationship with them. The age of some person doesn’t change that message. It isn’t a double standard.

    You said, “Wouldn’t it have made much more sense to send Jesus in the first place?” To you and I yes that makes more sense. I don’t claim to understand the mind of God. I don’t know why God does what God does all the time. You are still thinking that God must think the way you think and do things the way you would do them. You are not allowing God to be God’s own person. God has to fit in with your views or God just must not exist. I know you have stated that you are not creating a vision of what God is, but when I read what you wrote I see that you do have a vision of what God is.

    Yep, I’m still open for change. You’ve been spending so much time refuting all my claims you haven’t been building an argument against the existence of God. You claim, correctly or incorrectly, that if my thoughts on God are incorrect then God must not exist. Other than that I haven’t a reason to believe that God must not exist. If you give a reason, a real one, not just uncertainty, then I will think about it. If I think you are right I will not believe in God.

    This is turning out to be a good conversation. Thank you. :)

  58. Allisteria Says:

    Thank you for your correction on my understanding of the first law of thermodynamics. You are right, the law talks about the conservation of energy not mass. I should have said, the law of conservation of mass. I have yet to read “A Brief History of Time”, by Stephen Hawkings, thank you for the reference.

  59. evanescent Says:

    Have you ever heard of a paradox? Can you conceive of one?

    Surely a paradox is inconceivable, by definition?

    Or must I take your hand and lead you step by step through every little thing I say you disagree with?

    If you cannot defend your beliefs in detail against rigorous scrutiny, that’s a problem with your beliefs, not my questions.

    You said the serpent was more honest than God because Adam and Eve did not die immediately after eating the fruit. God never said when they would die.

    Genesis 2:17: “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” (Bold mine)

    You have a good point saying that Adam and Eve could not have known for themselves if the serpent or God was right before they ate the fruit. In this situation they needed to have faith.

    Why? Is faith “good”? Why not have faith in the serpent? Was it “bad” to not have faith? They didn’t know good or bad…

    Because we are finite, we will always have a finite amount of evidence. Therefore we will never have all the evidence.

    This is a non-sequitor. This is like saying because one can never eat all the food in the world, one can never satisfy hunger. By definition, evidence must be limited and specific. To paraphrase Leonard Peikoff, no about of reasoning will get you from this world to some another. There is no epistemological connection between man’s mind and some supernatural realm.

    I said: “I’m also going to call you on your claim that “god’s love skewed the letter they received.” I’d like some biblical backing for this, or how you can possibly know this is true.”
    I will not give you biblical backing. You do not accept the Bible as a foundation and therefore I cannot use it in this argument.

    You won’t give me a biblical backing, because you made this up off the top of your head and didn’t expect to get called on it. When having a proper debate, it is good form to only make substantiated claims and then support your words when called on, like I did above with the bible quote. It seems I know the bible better than you.

    I wasn’t you for the 20 years you were a Christian, so I can’t tell you the ways God communicated to you in that time. How would you expect me to answer something only you could answer?

    Wait, you said: “Do you want God to talk to you? God will talk to you if you really want God to. If you seek after God with all your heart and mind and soul you will find God.” Are you saying God *was* talking to me, but I missed it? That’s convenient. It also reminds me of what I said to you in my last reply. Look at what you said and see if it’s freakishly familiar how I described it: “Was I doing something wrong? Isn’t it rather convenient that all those people who spent their entire lives following god but seeing nothing just so happened to be doing wrong, and those who claim to know god just so happen to have all the answers and manage to get it just right?”

    To you and I yes that makes more sense.

    So, whatever god does or says, no matter how ridiculous – we must assume he is right and forsake our own reason? So, why bother using our minds at all? Just accept whatever God says, whether it makes sense or not. But then, how you can then claim to “make sense” of *anything* in the bible? And how do you reconcile this with your purported evidence? Surely the evidence for god makes sense, no? Does your faith make sense?

    You seem to believe that a Big Bang without a creator doesn’t make sense. I believe that god wasting millions of lives and thousands of years telling a message he knew was wrong and he knew would get distorted, even though he knew he was going to correct it (eventually) anyway, when he could’ve just done it all perfectly in the first place, doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t make sense to you either, but you pick and choose when “sense” matters – convenient isn’t it?

    I don’t claim to understand the mind of God.

    Clearly you do, since you make claims on his behalf with no biblical backing.

    You’ve been spending so much time refuting all my claims you haven’t been building an argument against the existence of God.

    To be honest, I didn’t think that was the topic of debate. You asked why I couldn’t allow for the possibility of an inerrant bible, and I believe I’ve thoroughly explained that.

    There are absolute philosophical arguments I could give to refute the idea called god, but that wouldn’t necessarily do you any good since you could always say “I have faith”. The irony is lost on you, that billions of humans throughout history have always claimed faith for their particular version of god. What are the odds that of all these billions of humans and thousands of “gods”, you just so happen to get it right?

    I return to a question in my previous post: “Don’t you see that all your ideas and arguments start with an assumption: my particular version of god exists. You ask that I accept that, so everything else will follow. But why should I accept it in the first place? This isn’t like gravity or electromagnetism or evolution; you want me to believe in a particular version of a mythical sky god – and there are thousands of them throughout history – you want me to believe that every single person got it wrong about this invisible friend who lives in the sky, but *your* version is correct? Why should I accept that, and not all the others? Why not just reject them all?”

    (ps: there is a Law of Conversation of Mass too, but mass and energy are equivalent anyway according to e=mc^2, so I understood the point you were making.)

  60. Allisteria Says:

    You asked if by definition a paradox was inconceivable. In Wikipedia under the entry for paradox it says, “The term is also used for an apparent contradiction that actually expresses a non-dual truth such as two true sentences which put together seem incompatible as both being true” This was the manner of the word that I was using, so no a paradox is not inconceivable.

    You said, “If you cannot defend your beliefs in detail against rigorous scrutiny, that’s a problem with your beliefs, not my questions.” Fine.

    You said, “Genesis 2:17: “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” “ The version of the Bible I typically read from does not use the word day in this passage. I do not know why it does not use the word day. I do not know Hebrew, nor the Hebrew word in this passage that has been translated to day, nor if there is even a word being translated or if the idea is paraphrased. I do not know. I will seek out what this all means and get back to you. In the mean time, why does any of this have to be literal? It could be literal, but who says it has to be? The death God is speaking of could be a spiritual death, that is separation from God. And the day that God is speaking of could be a set time period, and not 24 hours. If either one of those possibilities is true then God did not lie at all.

    You said, “Why? Is faith “good”? Why not have faith in the serpent? Was it “bad” to not have faith?“ If they had faith then they would have lived. Is it good to live? You seem to value knowledge very much, so you might argue that it would be better to know than to live. I think it is better to live than to know. This is a value judgment. You also said, “They didn’t know good or bad” You are confusing good and bad with right and wrong. In the former it is a case of value judgment, in the latter it is a moral judgment. “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.” The women saw that the fruit was good. Eve was capable of making a value judgment, but not a moral one. So she could have said it was good to have faith and trust in God, or she could have said it is good to trust the serpent. She chose to trust the serpent. She suffered the consequences. Death sounds bad. Faith in the serpent reaps death. Faith in God reaps life. Or so we draw from this passage. To me it is very clear that having faith in God is good.

    Let me make a side note on values and morals. Here is the distinction between them. Values precede morals. Morals and values can both influence one another. You can value something without having any moral connection with it, however you cannot have any morals without values.

    You said, “This is a non-sequitor. This is like saying because one can never eat all the food in the world, one can never satisfy hunger. By definition, evidence must be limited and specific.” Interesting you use food as a metaphor, because it will work very well in this case. If you hunger for knowledge then you will always be searching for evidence, but you will never have so much evidence that that hunger for knowledge goes away. It might be temporally satisfied, as physical huger is right after we have eaten, but it will not sustain you forever. You become hungry again. But what happens after you have eaten all your food and are still hungry? That is where faith comes in. Faith is not the denying of evidence, it is trust without evidence. Faith satisfies the hunger when evidence ceases.

    You said, “To paraphrase Leonard Peikoff, no about of reasoning will get you from this world to some another. There is no epistemological connection between man’s mind and some supernatural realm.”
    So then do you admit to the possibility of some supernatural realm, one you cannot conceive of? Are you saying that there is no undeniable evidence for or against the existence of God? If you say this then you concede to the possibility of the existence of God and what you had previously claimed to have not been a false dichotomy turns out to be a false dichotomy.

    You said, “You won’t give me a biblical backing, because you made this up off the top of your head and didn’t expect to get called on it. When having a proper debate, it is good form to only make substantiated claims and then support your words when called on, like I did above with the bible quote. It seems I know the bible better than you.”

    Excuse me, I am new to debates and do not know good form. I apologies for my ignorance. So, because you asked a second time, I will give you biblical backing. You original inquiry was, “I’m also going to call you on your claim that “god’s love skewed the letter they received.” I’d like some biblical backing for this, or how you can possibly know this is true.” First let me remind you that the god’s love that I am referring to here is God’s people, not his act of benevolence, that would be a ridiculous claim.

    This is Eve speaking to the serpent. “But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.”
    This is what God had said in the chapter before, “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”
    From these two passages you can clearly see that Eve added in, “neither shall e touch it,”.

    Matthew 5-7 Commonly referred to as the Sermon on the Mount. Here Jesus gives corrections to the Pharisees interpretation of the word of God. The common theme is “you have heard it said…”, “but I tell you…”
    Matthew 15:1-9 Jesus refutes the Pharisees because they had skewed the word of God to get them out of having to take care of their parents.
    “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
    And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.“- Revelation 22:18-19
    Why would you tell someone not to add or take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, if there was no fear that someone would skew them? So we see that God warns us not to skew the word of God, and we have seen how from the beginning with Eve to the time of Jesus with the Pharisees how people have skewed the word of God. There is more about this, I haven’t even begun to talk about false prophets. In addition I have pointed out how the word of God was skewed in your own life as you described. So let me ask again, why do I need biblical backing for this? Or can you not distinguish truth even in your won life?

    You said, “Wait, you said: “Do you want God to talk to you? God will talk to you if you really want God to. If you seek after God with all your heart and mind and soul you will find God.” Are you saying God *was* talking to me, but I missed it? That’s convenient. It also reminds me of what I said to you in my last reply. Look at what you said and see if it’s freakishly familiar how I described it: “Was I doing something wrong? Isn’t it rather convenient that all those people who spent their entire lives following god but seeing nothing just so happened to be doing wrong, and those who claim to know god just so happen to have all the answers and manage to get it just right?”

    I don’t know about “all those people” that you’re talking about, who are they?

    I want to make something clear, I do NOT have all the answers, and I NEVER will. One of the ways Christians believe God communicates to them is through the Bible. Some Christians believe God still communicates through prophets, visions, dreams, and tongues. Most Christians I have talked to believe that God communicates to God’s people through other people. My guess, if I might make one, is that God was trying to communicate to you through one of these ways.

    You said, “To be honest, I didn’t think that was the topic of debate. You asked why I couldn’t allow for the possibility of an inerrant bible, and I believe I’ve thoroughly explained that.”

    Let me be more clear on what exactly I am asking. I do not understand how there can be no possibility of God existing. I do not understand how you can derive this impossibility from an inerrant Bible. I can understand the possibility of an errant Bible. If the Bible is errant I don’t see how this suddenly makes God nonexistent. It is as if your only proof for the existence of God is an inerrant Bible. You have cast doubts you have not given an explanation.
    You said, “Don’t you see that all your ideas and arguments start with an assumption: my particular version of god exists. You ask that I accept that, so everything else will follow. But why should I accept it in the first place? This isn’t like gravity or electromagnetism or evolution; you want me to believe in a particular version of a mythical sky god – and there are thousands of them throughout history – you want me to believe that every single person got it wrong about this invisible friend who lives in the sky, but *your* version is correct? Why should I accept that, and not all the others? Why not just reject them all?”
    My first assumption is this: there is a possibility that a god exists. My particular version of God is most likely wrong as you pointed out, does that mean no god can exist?

    Lots of scientist disagree, just like lots of theologians disagree. You believe what the scientists have told you. I don’t think you have conducted all the necessary experiments to prove our current theories of gravity, electromagnetism, or evolution. How is believing in those things different from faith in a god? Is it because you can test them? Is it because you feel like you have more control?

    You said, “Why not just reject them all?” You shouldn’t just reject them all because one of them could be right. Rejecting them all because most of them are probably wrong is in my opinion a poor reason to reject the possibility of a god.
    You said, “there are absolute philosophical arguments I could give to refute the idea called god, but that wouldn’t necessarily do you any good since you could always say “I have faith”.
    Are you denying me an explanation because I can refute it? Are you afraid it won’t stand? I would like to hear why YOU do not believe in the possibility of a god, not one of those other ideas attached to some other guy. Tell me why you think there is no possibility for a god to exist.

  61. Allisteria Says:

    I want to say I am sorry. I have been rude and arrogant. I have been telling you what I think instead of listening to you. I was wrong to do that.

    Your first comment does explain the dichotomy. One thing I don’t understand, “The idea of an errant bible is inconsistent with the entire premise of the bible.” This part I do not get.

    I don’t know how to take down comments so I couldn’t remove the previous post.

  62. evanescent Says:

    I will seek out what this all means and get back to you. In the mean time, why does any of this have to be literal? It could be literal, but who says it has to be? The death God is speaking of could be a spiritual death, that is separation from God. And the day that God is speaking of could be a set time period, and not 24 hours. If either one of those possibilities is true then God did not lie at all.

    Yes that is a possibility, but then which parts of the Genesis account are metaphor and which should be taken literally? How do you tell? What is your objective criterion for deciding that one passage is literal and the other just poetic prose? What happens when the alleged metaphorical verses follow right after supposedly literal ones? Should we accept that god created the earth, then afterwards created the sun and stars – which is clearly contradictory to cosmological fact? Should we accept the fact that god specially created the animals in the order described by Genesis, when every piece of evolutionary and biological evidence denies this? You can evade the fact that the bible was just written by men thousands of years ago, by using the “metaphor” card on any verse that doesn’t make sense, but if you’re going to dismiss every incongruent verse in the bible this way, you might as well dismiss the whole thing. To an outsider, it just looks like clutching at straws.

    Of course there’s another possibility, one that is accepted by most scholars and historians – that the creation account is actually several myths rolled into one, hence the two different (and contradictory) accounts in the first few chapters; and the simplistic and archaic portrayal of the world as described by primitives.

    If they had faith then they would have lived. Is it good to live? You seem to value knowledge very much, so you might argue that it would be better to know than to live. I think it is better to live than to know. This is a value judgment.

    How do you *know* it is better to live than to know? Any attempt to separate human life from knowledge is contradictory, as shown by your glaring contradiction here. It is impossible for human beings to live without knowledge, since every action we consciously perform is based on knowledge. What does it even mean to live rather than to know? To live without knowledge would be to live like a programmed unthinking computer. Why does god want his followers to be mindless thoughtless dull automatons? What is god threatened by? Why does a perfect god capable of anything give humans the nonsensical choice: live like a dumb sheep and avoid knowledge, versus die as a free-thinking knowledgeable human?

    You are confusing good and bad with right and wrong. In the former it is a case of value judgment, in the latter it is a moral judgment.

    Am I confusing good and bad and right and wrong?? Even if this wasn’t just a sneaky attempt at word play which I am calling you on, let’s take your twisting of words literally and take it a step further: is being “right” good or bad?? Is “wrong” good or bad? You can use as many words as you want but I will always reduce it to good and bad, which was the only choice facing Adam and Eve.

    I think you are very confused on the use of the expression “value judgement”; I don’t think you know what this really means. Value judgement presupposes two concepts: that one can value, and that one can judge. In order to value, one must be a lifeform that pursues values in order to survive. One must also have the ability to judge between a positive and negative value, being that which aids or degrades one’s life, that is: what is *good* or *bad*. Value judgements are made by rational beings who can identify good from bad in furtherance of their lives. A value judgement *is* a moral judgment, it can mean nothing else! What you said just further proves that Adam and Eve had the knowledge to make value/moral judgments – a fact that Genesis denies. Again, the contradiction stands.

    So she could have said it was good to have faith and trust in God, or she could have said it is good to trust the serpent. She chose to trust the serpent

    But she couldn’t – because she didn’t know good from bad at the time!

    Death sounds bad. Faith in the serpent reaps death. Faith in God reaps life.

    Death sounds bad?? Adam and Eve didn’t know what death was. And even if death does sound “bad”, Adam and Eve didn’t know what “bad” was!

    To me it is very clear that having faith in God is good.

    But since Adam and Eve didn’t know what “good” was, they couldn’t have known that having faith was good.

    Let me make a side note on values and morals. Here is the distinction between them. Values precede morals. Morals and values can both influence one another. You can value something without having any moral connection with it, however you cannot have any morals without values.

    You are not actually far off here. It is the concept of values that gives rise to the concept of morality for human beings, because only human beings can rationally identify values consonant with their lives and pursue them. Morality is that code or guide that helps one to choose values. However, it is not true that a person can value independently of morality; all values have their place in a human life which either aid it or detract from it; the pursuit of values, however trivial, is a moral course of action. To speak of values (or judgments of choices) independently of morality is a contradiction in terms.

    Interesting you use food as a metaphor, because it will work very well in this case. If you hunger for knowledge then you will always be searching for evidence, but you will never have so much evidence that that hunger for knowledge goes away. It might be temporally satisfied, as physical huger is right after we have eaten, but it will not sustain you forever. You become hungry again. But what happens after you have eaten all your food and are still hungry? That is where faith comes in. Faith is not the denying of evidence, it is trust without evidence. Faith satisfies the hunger when evidence ceases.

    Your analogy is flawed: evidence is a limited and specific existent(s); it pertains to a particular field of knowledge. Once something has been evidentially established, for example – the inverse square law of gravitation, or the heliocentric solar system, or the evolution of man, one doesn’t continue hungering for more evidence for the proven.

    You equivocate on the words knowledge and evidence but they are not conceptually the same thing. One has knowledge once something has been logically integrated into one’s mind – something which requires evidence (in whatever form). If there is no epistemological connection between a proposition and mental integration, that proposition cannot be “known”; for example, whether there is a teapot orbiting Saturn (which we could detect) or whether Governor Zooblah of the Andromeda galaxy likes tea in the morning. Even this proposition could in theory be known, by someone, someday. The supernatural however is a step beyond the universe, beyond existence, and since it makes no sense to “know” something that doesn’t exist, not only can we never *know* the supernatural, the supernatural is non-existent. This is where theists invoke the word “faith” – which is a false pretence of “knowledge” about that which they cannot possibly know. It is a cheat word. It’s a way for them to kid themselves; to appeal to some form of special or higher “knowledge” that has nothing to do with real knowledge.

    So then do you admit to the possibility of some supernatural realm, one you cannot conceive of? Are you saying that there is no undeniable evidence for or against the existence of God? If you say this then you concede to the possibility of the existence of God and what you had previously claimed to have not been a false dichotomy turns out to be a false dichotomy.

    No, there is absolutely no god. Existence exists, but only existence exists. If existence exists, everything in existence has an identity; itself and nothing else. Everything in existence is limited, finite, of a particular order, acting in accord with its particular nature. Since this is necessarily true, god, a supposedly infinite being of infinite energy, infinite knowledge, infinite power, capable of changing any attribute of existence, even his own – cannot exist. God is a “concept” that contradicts the entire basis on which concepts and knowledge are formed. If human beings are to know anything, we must first accept that existence is what it is, which leaves no room for god.

    First let me remind you that the god’s love that I am referring to here is God’s people, not his act of benevolence, that would be a ridiculous claim.

    You then offered a quote showing that Eve apparently misunderstood god’s message and added in a bit of her own. What you haven’t addressed is 1. why is god’s message so hard to get right in the first place? 2. Why does god *allow* his message to get skewed? 3. Why does god never bother to correct the mistake? 4. Why can’t he get it right in the first place? Remember, god can do *anything* – surely getting a message across to human beings is child’s play compared to creating the universe?

    Why would you tell someone not to add or take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, if there was no fear that someone would skew them? So we see that God warns us not to skew the word of God, and we have seen how from the beginning with Eve to the time of Jesus with the Pharisees how people have skewed the word of God.

    The warning, even assuming an inerrant bible, makes perfect sense either way. God is warning people not to twist his words or lie about them. This doesn’t rule out the fact he could have made the writers write what he wanted properly and clearly and without contradiction or ambiguity. Why didn’t he? Making stuff up and lying is one thing after that fact, but he could’ve done a better job with the writers?

    Another more critical way of looking at it is: god could magically make the bible tamper-proof throughout history. He can do *anything* remember – and no task is too much for him. If I was god and wanted to make sure someone I cared about received my message, this is exactly what I’d have done.

    Some Christians believe God still communicates through prophets, visions, dreams, and tongues. Most Christians I have talked to believe that God communicates to God’s people through other people. My guess, if I might make one, is that God was trying to communicate to you through one of these ways.

    The pattern with believers is that they claim that god wants to talk to you and wants a relationship with you, all you have to do is ask. But if you ask and get nothing, you’re the one who did something wrong – and he *did* answer you, but you missed it. It’s funny, god always seems to do non-obvious subtle things that just so happen to appear to be something else and which are usually dismissed as something else. It’s the same coincidence that occurs when “aliens” only abduct those who already believe in them. Ghosts only appear to those who accept the supernatural. Demons only torment those who believe in god. Clairvoyants only convince those who already believe in them. Allah only speaks to Muslims. Jesus only speaks to Christians.

    There is at least one other more likely possibility: none of these things exist, and the human capacity for self-delusion is immense.

    I do not understand how there can be no possibility of God existing. I do not understand how you can derive this impossibility from an inerrant Bible. I can understand the possibility of an errant Bible. If the Bible is errant I don’t see how this suddenly makes God nonexistent. It is as if your only proof for the existence of God is an inerrant Bible. You have cast doubts you have not given an explanation.

    My reasons for rejecting god are strong philosophical convictions. It is true that every single argument for god fails, and there are many strong arguments against the probability of god – but I reject the concept of god from the get-go – because it contradicts the most fundamental axiom a human being can make: existence exists. I elaborated on this above.

    As for the bible, leaving aside all the reasons why god can’t exist, the fact that the bible itself is so obviously a work of fiction, full of errors and contradictions and nonsensical stories, just cries out “I was written by primitive men!”, proves that the god it points to doesn’t exist. It is so glaringly and painfully obvious. Not that I expect you to just see it; I believed it all myself for many many years – but I was largely ignorant of just how much of a mess the bible was, and this was despite studying it in detail! Like I said, this is the “beauty” of faith; you can make anything seem ok in your mind; that’s why it’s so dangerous and foolish.

    My first assumption is this: there is a possibility that a god exists. My particular version of God is most likely wrong as you pointed out, does that mean no god can exist?

    Assuming god could exist, for the sake of this hypothetical scenario – no, the fact that your god doesn’t exist doesn’t mean NO god exists, in and of itself… but what if it’s a god that takes no interest in mankind at all? What if it’s a god that started the Big Bang but did absolutely nothing from that point? Does that make you feel better; does that fit in with your idea of god? How is this being indistinguishable from no god at all? You can bargain “god” down to as invisible and inactive as you want, if you want to accept that it *might* exist – but what are you left with? In the end, a version of “god” that might as well not exist.

    I don’t think you have conducted all the necessary experiments to prove our current theories of gravity, electromagnetism, or evolution. How is believing in those things different from faith in a god? Is it because you can test them? Is it because you feel like you have more control?

    In a limited way, I have conducted many necessary experiments to prove our current theories about the universe. (Most of them in school). But I do the same every single day; so do you. Flick a light switch: you are seeing electromagnetism in action. Look at bacteria building up resistances to antibiotics; you are seeing evolution in action. Look at zebras and horses and notice the similar phenotypes and genotypes, compared to horses and monkey, compare chimps and humans – same thing; you are seeing evolution in action. Drop an object from a height and note its acceleration and speed; you are seeing Newtonian gravity in action. Use your mobile phone; you are witnessing General Relativity in action; it would be impossible to synchronise orbiting satellites without it. Not only can I have excellent confidence in scientists by researching the material myself (if I am smart enough), but I can test our theories on the universe in action every day.

    You clearly cannot do the same for god.

  63. Allisteria Says:

    Again, I must apologies for my previous rudeness, and misunderstanding.

    I think to understand Genesis you have to understand the first five books of the Bible. I think Genesis was written as a prequel to Exodus. With that in mind, I think the majority of the book, if not the whole book, is just background knowledge to place Exodus. It is what the Israelites believed, as it was written to the future generations of Israel. I don’t have a specific criteria to say what is metaphorical and what isn’t. I don’t know if one can be created. The other possibility you listed seems likely, however I don’t think that is correct, at least not entirely.

    You said, “It is impossible for human beings to live without knowledge, since every action we consciously perform is based on knowledge.” You can live without knowledge as the definition of life has nothing to do with knowledge. I am not talking about all-knowledge anyway, I am talking about Adam and Eve’s desire to acquire the knowledge of good and evil. You and I have this knowledge, we can make moral decisions. Adam and Eve had not yet obtained the ability to do this. Because they did not have the ability to distinguish good from evil they could seek that knowledge. It is hard for us to understand life different from our own. It is hard to know what an Ape thinks because they are on a lower cognitive level than we are. I wonder if they are able to make moral decisions, I know they can make value decisions.

    You said, “it is not true that a person can value independently of morality; all values have their place in a human life which either aid it or detract from it; the pursuit of values, however trivial, is a moral course of action.” I agree that humanity in it’s current state cannot separate values from morality because we understand morality. If we had no notion of morality that doesn’t remove our ability to make value judgments. Animals can value one thing over another, yet it has no moral ramifications to them because they do not know morality. Surely if you believe Evolution is true, you must believe at some point “humans” changed from not having morals to having them as higher brain functions developed. I think this story is explaining that change.

    Faith is more like trust and less like knowledge. Faith is also action, but not action by itself. Faith is acting on trust. Let’s say you are trying to disarm a bomb. Someone on a radio is giving you the deactivation code. Beside you there is a manual that will tell you how to disarm the bomb. Entering the deactivation code would be faith, reading the manual would be the pursuit of knowledge.

    You said, “Everything in existence is limited, finite, of a particular order, acting in accord with its particular nature.” We haven’t found the end to the universe, how do we know it is finite? And what about time it seems to be infinite?

    1. why is god’s message so hard to get right in the first place?
    I don’t know, I think it was and is pretty simple, with the exception of the Law of Moses. I think people complicate things. I think it is the problem with the receiver.

    2. Why does god *allow* his message to get skewed?
    I believe God allows the message of God to be skewed because God love’s the people skewing it. Part of God loving the people is God allowing them to be seprate from God. To be separate from God one must have the ability to chose something other than God. Destroying anyone who disagrees with you doesn’t sound very loving. Instead of destroying them God tries to correct them.

    3. Why does god never bother to correct the mistake?
    Part of correction is discipline. Being cast from the garden was part of the correction to the mistake. God also sent prophets to tell the people where they went wrong. Then after God sent Jesus he sent the Spirit. God has been trying to correct the mistake from the beginning, but God’s people are slow to get it.

    4. Why can’t he get it right in the first place? Remember, god can do *anything* – surely getting a message across to human beings is child’s play compared to creating the universe?
    Surely God can make us understand, but then would we be who we are? If God made sure you never got anything wrong, would you still be the same person? I don’t think we would be. I think God loves us as we are, and if God were to change us by creating us with complete understanding God would change a part of us that makes us who we are.

    You said, “This doesn’t rule out the fact he could have made the writers write what he wanted properly and clearly and without contradiction or ambiguity. Why didn’t he? Making stuff up and lying is one thing after that fact, but he could’ve done a better job with the writers?” where did God mess up with the writers?

    True, God could have made the Bible tamper proof, but in doing so God would remove our ability to reject God. Imagine you sat down at a table with a Bible and started ripping out pages and then a few seconds later all the pages you just ripped out magically returned to where you ripped them out. There would be no way for you to say that God did not do that, especially if you could do it again and again, which a tamper-proof Bible certainly would do. God wants us to choose God. If you lose the ability to reject God you also lose the ability to chose God.

    You said, “I reject the concept of god from the get-go – because it contradicts the most fundamental axiom a human being can make: existence exists.” Then you assume that existence must be finite, but I do not accept that existence must be finite. So I don’t see how this contradicts the possibility of a god.

    Believing in the possibility of a god is just the starting point. The next thing is asking why would a god create, or allow for the creation of me?

    I see now how science is different from theology thank you for your clarification.

  64. evanescent Says:

    It is what the Israelites believed, as it was written to the future generations of Israel. I don’t have a specific criteria to say what is metaphorical and what isn’t. I don’t know if one can be created. The other possibility you listed seems likely, however I don’t think that is correct, at least not entirely.

    Then it seems we both accept that the bible is simply what it appears: a book written by ancient Israelites, who invented a creation myth like any other based on their beliefs and views of the world at the time. Just like their views on animal sacrifice, scape-goating, rituals for cleanliness, circumcision etc, their creation myth was a myth part-invented, part-copied from other cultures, and passed down through the generations. Since cosmology does a pretty good job explaining the formation of the universe from moments after the Big Bang until now, we can’t blame the ancient Jews for getting it wrong. Since evolution does a stunningly accurate job of describing the evolution of all life on earth from a common ancestor, we can dispense with the absurd and primitive creation story of Genesis.

    The ancient Jews could be forgiven for being so ignorant, but 21st century humans living in the Western world?

    You can live without knowledge as the definition of life has nothing to do with knowledge.

    That’s why I said human life, not just life in general. Because humans don’t live on instinct, but primarily on consciousness; we make informed decisions, from the most trivial choice of ice-cream to constructing a skyscraper. For humans, knowledge is essential to life. Without being able to think, and lacking the instinct and brute strength of animals, and without any guide, we would certainly perish in a very short time.

    You and I have this knowledge, we can make moral decisions. Adam and Eve had not yet obtained the ability to do this. Because they did not have the ability to distinguish good from evil they could seek that knowledge.

    …And because Adam and Eve had no idea what good or bad was, none of their actions can be morally condemned, and none of their actions can be reduced to anything that can be morally condemned. The words were totally and utterly *meaningless* to them – any action would be all the same to them. Love, hate, kill, create, obey, disobey, think, evade – it’s all the same to them. Even human law makes a distinction between a criminal who deliberately and consciously violates the rights of another, and a demented or brain-damaged vegetable who thoughtlessly acts in anger. Surely god’s standard of justice is greater than mans?

    I believe you are running out of excuses for the bible and are finally starting to see the absurdity of the creation myth. Of course, it was made up and passed on over a long time, so it’s bound to not make much sense when examined in detail. This is just what we find in every culture’s creation myth, and it’s the same for the ancient Jews which Christianity likewise adopted and claimed as its own.

    It is hard to know what an Ape thinks because they are on a lower cognitive level than we are. I wonder if they are able to make moral decisions, I know they can make value decisions

    All lifeforms pursue values, that is true. But only humans do so volitionally in the face of real alternatives. For example, only humans can pursue death; an animal will necessarily not; even acts of “sacrifice” are instinctively programmed. It’s this capacity of free will that gives rise to morality. For humans, morality is a code of values.

    If we had no notion of morality that doesn’t remove our ability to make value judgments.

    But if we had no sense of morality, i.e. no code in which to guide our value judgments, how would we make them?? Should we choose life or death? Should we get a job or feed off others? Should we think for ourselves or be a zombie? Should we love a friend or a stranger? Should we enjoy the fleeting bliss of drugs or stay clean? Animals make their very limited decisions based on instinct; humans simply do not and cannot. It is a code of morality that helps us make these decisions. All humans, whether they realise it or not, have some conceptual framework that enables them to make decisions in life.

    Animals can value one thing over another, yet it has no moral ramifications to them because they do not know morality.

    That is true, but an animal pursues its values automatically. An animal can never stop and evaluate a negative course of action and then consciously pursue that. Humans can.

    Surely if you believe Evolution is true, you must believe at some point “humans” changed from not having morals to having them as higher brain functions developed. I think this story is explaining that change.

    Well, if morality is a code of values, it can’t be hardwired into us, although some behaviour can be. Morality wasn’t an organ that grew over time, like the brain, it is a concept that became ever more necessary as human minds evolved. Just as there is no specific individual that one can point at and say “this was the first human”, we can’t point at that individual and say “this was the first person to have a moral code.” Morality is a guide for rational beings; the degree of rationality is the degree to which morality is needed.

    Faith is more like trust and less like knowledge. Faith is also action, but not action by itself. Faith is acting on trust. Let’s say you are trying to disarm a bomb. Someone on a radio is giving you the deactivation code. Beside you there is a manual that will tell you how to disarm the bomb. Entering the deactivation code would be faith, reading the manual would be the pursuit of knowledge.

    You are changing your story and back-peddling; you specifically said earlier that faith is needed when there is no evidence. In other words, where there is no proof, you need faith. Faith does not mean trust, and to pretend it does is to *misrepresent your own position*. I know the bomb exists. I know the manual exists. I know the radio exists. I know the person on the other end of the radio exists. If you want to assert that your faith in god is the same as me trusting in all these things, you are plain kidding yourself.

    One way your bomb analogy would be correct, is if you can get god on the phone to me, or point him out in the sky, and get him to answer very specific questions about the life of any human that only they would know, and give us answers to scientific mysteries that we haven’t yet solved. Can you do this? If not, please don’t use the word trust. This is blind hopeful faith, nothing more.

    You said, “Everything in existence is limited, finite, of a particular order, acting in accord with its particular nature.” We haven’t found the end to the universe, how do we know it is finite? And what about time it seems to be infinite?

    Our best model of the universe suggests that it has no boundary, but it still finite. To imagine this, picture the surface of the earth. It is finite, of limited volume, but has no boundaries. There is nothing beyond the universe.

    Time is a property of the universe; the fabric of the universe is called space-time. One of the hardest concepts for humans to get their head around is that time is not absolute; it is a relational aspect of the universe and requires a reference frame (or more). For example, time moves more slowly closer to a gravity well; orbiting satellites’ clocks run faster than on earth. So time is not infinite anymore than space is. Space-time (in its current form) almost definitely had a beginning.

    Everything in existence exists as itself and nothing more or less. This is an axiom. Before one can know anything, one must accept this. If one accepts this, one cannot then deny it later. If one accepts this, one rejects the supernatural. There is nothing more to be said. God doesn’t exist.
    <blockquote?1.why is god’s message so hard to get right in the first place?
    I don’t know, I think it was and is pretty simple, with the exception of the Law of Moses. I think people complicate things. I think it is the problem with the receiver.
    All followers of a particular god claim that they understand it just fine, and the problem is with the ones who “don’t get it”. That’s rather convenient.

    2. Why does god *allow* his message to get skewed?
    I believe God allows the message of God to be skewed because God love’s the people skewing it. Part of God loving the people is God allowing them to be seprate from God. To be separate from God one must have the ability to chose something other than God. Destroying anyone who disagrees with you doesn’t sound very loving. Instead of destroying them God tries to correct them.

    So: god loves people. God wants to write them a message. God knows that the writers of his message will get it wrong but doesn’t stop them. God can at any time correct this or have it done properly (he can do anything remember), but doesn’t. God lets his message get skewed and distorted by those he loves, for those he loves, to the point it doesn’t even seem that he loves anyone, even though his entire purpose in writing the letter was to communicate something to those he loves, i.e. that he loves them. So although most of the world doesn’t believe in him, he reckons that this shows they love him, because they chose not to, even though they didn’t know him because the message never received them, or gave them false information. He then tries to correct the misinformation, after billions of deaths and thousands of years, even though he could’ve got it right in the first place. But despite the correction, his word hasn’t been corrected, because the same situation exists, with most people not even knowing god or believing in him, because the bible is such a mess because god made it look like a flawed work of fiction. Why can’t god get anything right??

    You believe this?

    3.Why does god never bother to correct the mistake?
    Part of correction is discipline. Being cast from the garden was part of the correction to the mistake. God also sent prophets to tell the people where they went wrong. Then after God sent Jesus he sent the Spirit. God has been trying to correct the mistake from the beginning, but God’s people are slow to get it.

    You can only discipline someone if they know that they did wrong, as discussed above.

    You’re blaming the misunderstanding on people? Why are god’s people so stupid when it comes to their own god? Why is god so incompetent that he creates people who can’t understand his message, even though he wants them to? He gives them a message to understand, even though he knows they won’t be able to. He tries to correct his/their mistake, even though he should’ve done it right in the first place, knowing that the correction won’t work, and will require another correction eventually, which he knows in advance won’t work.

    God sounds more and more like a bumbling inept drunk leaving voicemail messages on his ex’s voicemail: “Hi darl- hick – ling! I’m shho sorrry about that flood I sent. When I shed that I thought you was eeevil and needed to be wiped out – hick – what I actually meant was I loooove you sooo mush.”

    4.Why can’t he get it right in the first place? Remember, god can do *anything* – surely getting a message across to human beings is child’s play compared to creating the universe?
    Surely God can make us understand, but then would we be who we are? If God made sure you never got anything wrong, would you still be the same person? I don’t think we would be. I think God loves us as we are, and if God were to change us by creating us with complete understanding God would change a part of us that makes us who we are.

    You are twisting the words to make it appear reasonable. That’s not what I’m saying. I never said for one second that god should make us understand everything. You replaced those words. I said why can’t god get it right in the first place? Why can’t he do something properly, accurately, perfectly, the first time – and save us all the hassle?

    It’s not forcing someone to be different to simply give them *all* the facts and let them decide. God gives us no facts, no reliable information, a distorted message, lets the message get distorted, can’t get the correction right, can’t do *anything* right – then says “well I gave you the chance…”

    Also, your suggestion that god just accepts us for who we are, is blatantly false. In the bible, God repeatedly annihilates animals, babies, children, women and men for any action that displeases him, from the smallest to the greatest. He commits worldwide genocide on one occasion, and ethnic cleansing on several nations on many occasions. He allows the mass-murder of civilians, and the sexual enslavement of female children and women. He inflicts plagues and suffering on enemies and even his own people. He promises to wipe out those who don’t obey him numerous times, and that for finite “crimes” the ones who don’t accept him will burn forever and ever in Hell.

    And during all this, he *knows* that people don’t understand him properly because he *knows* they can’t help but get it wrong. Even though he knew this would happen before he even created the earth, and could have done *anything* to fix it.

    You believe all this?

    True, God could have made the Bible tamper proof, but in doing so God would remove our ability to reject God…If you lose the ability to reject God you also lose the ability to chose God.

    This is all false. Why does our ability to choose god disappear with not getting a clear accurate message in the first place? Ensuring that someone gets a clear message doesn’t remove the chance of them rejecting you! They still have to make a conscious decision based on the information they’ve received.

    This is like saying to a jury “Mr. Jones is standing trial on the crime of murder in the first degree. But, in order for you to have the *ability* to decide his innocence, we’re not going to show you any evidence!”

    You said, “I reject the concept of god from the get-go – because it contradicts the most fundamental axiom a human being can make: existence exists.” Then you assume that existence must be finite, but I do not accept that existence must be finite. So I don’t see how this contradicts the possibility of a god.

    See above.

    Believing in the possibility of a god is just the starting point.

    And as I have shown, your concept of god simply cannot exist. It is a contradiction of the wildest kind. In short, the only place “god” can exist is in the imaginations of people. And just as there are many imaginations, there are many versions of “god”. They are all make-believe.

  65. Allisteria Says:

    You said “Then it seems we both accept that the bible is simply what it appears: a book written by ancient Israelites, who invented a creation myth like any other based on their beliefs and views of the world at the time.”

    It seems like I am conceding, but I am not. Sorry for the false impression. Not the whole of the Bible is the word of God. We have said that the Bible is the word of God, but God did not say this. We can be sure that anything that God directly says in the Bible must be true, if God’s words have contradictions then we can be sure that it is not the word of God. I realize I am changing my stance a bit, but I think I am coming in to a better understanding.

    Okay, back to our discussion on Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve knew God, they walked with God in the garden. Adam and Eve knew to obey God, they knew this was right even though they could not distinguish good from evil. Therefore, because they knew that eating the fruit was against what God had told them, being aware of the consequences, how could a just God not punish them? If God did not punish them God would go against God’s own word. They chose something other than God, they got something other than God, sounds just to me.

    You said, “You are changing your story and back-peddling; you specifically said earlier that faith is needed when there is no evidence. In other words, where there is no proof, you need faith. Faith does not mean trust, and to pretend it does is to *misrepresent your own position*. I know the bomb exists. I know the manual exists. I know the radio exists. I know the person on the other end of the radio exists. If you want to assert that your faith in god is the same as me trusting in all these things, you are plain kidding yourself.”

    If it seems I am changing my definition of faith, I am not. I am just trying to explain it. When there is no proof you must have faith. People who claim faith are satisfied with their faith in absence of proof. In this bomb scenario you have no proof what the guy on the radio is telling you is true. Trusting what the guy is telling you is true is having faith in the truthfulness of what he says. I trust what the Bible is telling me is true, the Bible is like the guy on the radio.

    You said, “I said why can’t god get it right in the first place? Why can’t he do something properly, accurately, perfectly, the first time – and save us all the hassle?”
    And I’m saying in order to do that we would have to be fundamentally different, and thus we would not be who we are. “saving us all the hassle” would mean for us to not exist.

    You said, “Also, your suggestion that god just accepts us for who we are, is blatantly false.”

    God loving us as we are is not the same as God accepting us as we are. God does not accept our sin, we have to give that up before God will accept us. When we chose sin over God, God respects our decision.

  66. evanescent Says:

    Not the whole of the Bible is the word of God. We have said that the Bible is the word of God, but God did not say this. We can be sure that anything that God directly says in the Bible must be true, if God’s words have contradictions then we can be sure that it is not the word of God. I realize I am changing my stance a bit, but I think I am coming in to a better understanding.

    Well it’s lucky for you that an atheist can help correct your understanding of the bible :)

    I wonder how long you’d have gone on with your previous errors about god and the bible? Isn’t it ironic that after all this time, god let you have all these false impressions and erroneous opinions? Was it his plan for you to discover new truths from an atheist on a blog?

    However, even your assertion that some of the bible isn’t god’s word is false, because the bible says: All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.” 2 Tim 3:16. Note: ALL scripture is inspired by God. You can’t have it both ways; either the bible is God’s word, all of it, or none of it is. This is yet another reason why an errant bible makes no sense.

    Finally, you’re ‘if the bible gets is right, we can be sure it’s god. If the bible gets it wrong, then god didn’t say it’ is such a cheap and transparent attempt at self-delusion.

    I fear you are running out of space to backtrack.

    Adam and Eve knew to obey God, they knew this was right even though they could not distinguish good from evil.

    Contradiction. As explained earlier, right and wrong and good and bad are obviously synonymous. They didn’t know anything was “right” because they couldn’t make moral evaluations.

    They chose something other than God, they got something other than God, sounds just to me.

    I covered all this earlier. This is not a rebuttal of what I said, you are just repeating yourself but phrasing it differently each time to rationalise it. *How* could they make a *choice* without knowing right from wrong? It doesn’t matter if something “sounds good” to you – it wouldn’t have sounded good or bad to Adam and Eve because they didn’t know what good and bad were. You simply cannot evade this contradiction, however hard you try.

    When there is no proof you must have faith.

    But why??And faith in what? There is no proof for Allah, should we have faith in him? There is no proof for Santa, should we have in him? There is no proof for your god, should we have faith in him? Oh yes of course – it’s *your* god so it must be true… how convenient. What about Unicorns, goblins, orcs, dragons, mind-reading, reincarnation, astrology etc etc…

    People who claim faith are satisfied with their faith in absence of proof.

    So are the clinically insane.

    In this bomb scenario you have no proof what the guy on the radio is telling you is true.

    Apart from the fact…that he is a bomb expert, has made a living and a career out of defusing bombs, has a job and reputation to maintain, couldn’t have gotten his job without being an expert in his field, has zero reason to lie to me, has every reason to help me, I can speak to him directly, I do not assume every other highly trained professional officer is some psychopath out of blow me up for a laugh, despite being in the presence of hundreds of other officers….

    Trusting what the guy is telling you is true is having faith in the truthfulness of what he says. I trust what the Bible is telling me is true, the Bible is like the guy on the radio.

    If the guy on the other end of the radio was garbled and distorted, spoke in an ancient foreign language requiring lengthy and often vague translation, contradicted himself, spoke literally one moment then in riddles the next, made claims about your surroundings that were patently false, had a track record of lying, had a track record of murdering human beings, made no reliable predictions about the future, got the past incredibly wrong, and refused to confirm himself to you or anyone else, then yes – the bible would be like this guy.

    God loving us as we are is not the same as God accepting us as we are.

    Wait – what? Are you actually saying these words? How can you love someone without accepting who they are??

    When we chose sin over God, God respects our decision.

    Gen 7:4: “every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth.”

    Ex 22:20: “He who sacrificeth unto any god, save unto the Lord only, he shall be utterly destroyed.”

    Lev 20:13: “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death;”

    Lev 24:16: “And he that blasphemeth the name of the LORD, he shall surely be put to death,”

    Num 21:34-35: “And the LORD said unto Moses, Fear him not: for I have delivered him into thy hand, and all his people, and his land…So they smote him, and his sons, and all his people, until there was none left him alive: and they possessed his land.”

    Num 31: “Have you saved all the women alive? Kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.”

    Matt 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

    Matt 25:41: “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.”

    God respects our decisions about as much as a rapist respects the cries of “no” from his victim.

    I think you need to seriously have a think about what you believe, as everything you say is riddled with contradictions and rationalisations.

  67. Allisteria Says:

    Well first off the passage in 2 Timithy you pulled up was written before there was such a thing as the Bible, and what Paul is talking about is the Law of Moses and the prophets, the words God gave the Israelites as an instruction to them. So, no saying that not all of the Bible is the word of God is not in contradiction. Paul also writes in 1 Corinthians 7:12, “But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away.” Clearly this is the word of Paul and not God. Besides that, to say that the entire Bible is the word of God is to suggest that when Satan is speaking that this too is the word of God.

    You said, “Contradiction. As explained earlier, right and wrong and good and bad are obviously synonymous. They didn’t know anything was “right” because they couldn’t make moral evaluations.”
    I have already explained that being able to distinguish right from wrong is not the same as knowing right and wrong. Remember the math function analogy?

    You said, “Apart from the fact…that he is a bomb expert, has made a living and a career out of defusing bombs, has a job and reputation to maintain, couldn’t have gotten his job without being an expert in his field, has zero reason to lie to me, has every reason to help me, I can speak to him directly, I do not assume every other highly trained professional officer is some psychopath out of blow me up for a laugh, despite being in the presence of hundreds of other officers…”
    Now you are adding things I never said to make it seem like believing the guy on the radio is easy. I never said he was a professional or he even knew anything about bombs in the first place, you added that.

    The best way I can explain the love of God is by saying it is like a priority. God makes us a priority. Acceptance is being happy with the way something is. If you see a child who has fallen and broken their arm, it is likely you will have compassion on them and rush them to a hospital. It is unlikely you would just accept that they have a broken arm and take them out for ice cream. God wants to be with us, but God can’t be with us until we let God take us to the hospital.

    When I say God respects our decision I mean God lets us make the wrong decision. God doesn’t force us to chose God. I am not saying that God just leaves us alone after that. Obviously there are consequences to every action, Christians believe the consequence for rejecting God is hell. But is that so much God punishing them as it is God just leaving them alone? But then if God is the source of all life how can they live in absence of God? Look, I don’t know these things.

    You said, “God respects our decisions about as much as a rapist respects the cries of “no” from his victim.” Is God raping you? Is God forcing you to believe in God? This vision of God you have isn’t founded, you are just being vulgar.

  68. evanescent Says:

    Is God raping you? Is God forcing you to believe in God? This vision of God you have isn’t founded, you are just being vulgar.

    Num 31: “Have you saved all the women alive? Kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.”

    In this bible story, Moses, God’s chosen representative, who God repeatedly chastised and punished on many occasions for stepping out of line, orders the murder of all male children, and all non-virgin girls and women. The virgins were taken for the men of Israel as sex-slaves. So, yes, God hasn’t literally raped me. The same can’t be said for the victims of this god and his servants.

    The only redeeming aspect of this horrific bible story is that it is totally fictitious.

    This vision of God you have isn’t founded

    I noticed that you didn’t acknowledge the very small sample of evil passages from the bible. The imaginary “god” you believe in was written as a vicious evil psychopath. Hannibal Lector couldn’t compete with the bumbling incompetent lunatic that is the biblical god.

    God doesn’t force us to chose God. I am not saying that God just leaves us alone after that. Obviously there are consequences to every action, Christians believe the consequence for rejecting God is hell.

    A choice made under duress is no choice at all. You cannot claim that someone can freely choose when the alternative is death. Does a rape victim have a choice not be raped? Does a mugged man *choose* to hand over his wallet to the man with the gun?

    Clearly this is the word of Paul and not God. Besides that, to say that the entire Bible is the word of God is to suggest that when Satan is speaking that this too is the word of God.

    Urm…no, I didn’t say that every verse in the bible is god speaking…this is so obvious a lapse in your mental process. Remember, ALL scripture is *inspired* of god, which means – it was included in the bible for a reason. God deliberately put it in there as part of the story.

    Well first off the passage in 2 Timithy you pulled up was written before there was such a thing as the Bible, and what Paul is talking about is the Law of Moses and the prophets, the words God gave the Israelites as an instruction to them.

    But every part of the bible was written before there was such a thing as the bible?? So with this mental contortion, you can nicely evade anything that sounds unpleasant to you and dimiss it as “not really” part of the bible. The leaps of irrationality you go to to keep this fantasy alive is staggering.

    I have already explained that being able to distinguish right from wrong is not the same as knowing right and wrong. Remember the math function analogy?

    Hang on, the ability to distinguish between right and wrong is what a moral code provides. Are you suggesting Adam and Eve had a moral code but didn’t have knowledge of good and bad?? What does it mean to know something is right? How can one know that one knows that such a thing is right? One must be able to identify what right and wrong are.

    Being able to distinguish right from wrong leads to moral knowledge. Knowing right from wrong presupposes the ability to distinguish. What you’re effectively saying is: Adam and Eve could tell right from wrong, but they didn’t know what right and wrong were. But if they didn’t know what right and wrong are, how could they draw up a moral framework to distinguish between the two?

  69. Allisteria Says:

    In numbers 31 I don’t think they were raping the women. If you look elsewhere in the Law of Moses, specifically in Deuteronomy 22:23-29 there are laws against raping someone. In addition if the men had taken them to be sex slaves then they would likely have already had sex with them and would have had to kill them as Moses commanded every women who wasn’t a virgin. I have just read a commentary on this passage and it says they were destroyed because of the idol worship they practiced, which included shrine prostitutes.

    I see what you are saying about the power of God and if you don’t choose God then you will be destroyed and if this is true then there really isn’t any choice at all. What I have been saying is that that is exactly why there is no undeniable evidence of the existence of God, because who would defy such power? If God made Godself known then everyone would be forced to chose God. God removing evidence of Godself gives you the ability to deny God which allows you to chose something other than God. This is one of the ways God respects your individuality, and subsequently your decision to deny or accept God.

    You said, “I noticed that you didn’t acknowledge the very small sample of evil passages from the bible.”
    Yet I did acknowledge them when I said I do not know about these things. In addition where are your grounds for calling anything good or evil if you do not believe in a god? Are you going to be so subjective and think it is whatever you feel like?

    Well I don’t know what you were saying about not all of the bible being God’s word, but none of it made since. You said, “Urm…no, I didn’t say that every verse in the bible is god speaking…this is so obvious a lapse in your mental process. Remember, ALL scripture is *inspired* of god, which means – it was included in the bible for a reason. God deliberately put it in there as part of the story.”
    First you are assuming that the Bible is exactly the way God intended it to be in a perfect state, which I don’t believe. Also I have pointed out that the “ALL scripture” that Paul was talking about in that passage was the Law of Moses and the prophets, not about his own writings.

    You said, “But every part of the bible was written before there was such a thing as the bible?? So with this mental contortion, you can nicely evade anything that sounds unpleasant to you and dimiss it as “not really” part of the bible. The leaps of irrationality you go to to keep this fantasy alive is staggering.”
    Here let me make it black and white,When God is speaking that is the word of God, when God is not speaking that is not the word of God.
    The Law God gave to Moses and the words God gave the prophets are the word of God. Anything else is commentary or stories placed in there so that we can understand what is going on. I accept it as part of the bible, but I do not accept all of the bible as the word of God. I don’t think that that is irrational. We know that people wrote the books of the Bible, when even know, for the most part, who wrote what book. We understand humans are fallible, so seeing a few mistakes with translation or with the age of some king is not entirely unexpected.

    Finally, about Adam and Eve. If a mathematician comes to you and shows you a complex problem you don’t know how to solve and tells you that 3 is the right answer then you will believe him, even though you do not know how to do the problem. You believe him because he was right on every other problem you ever checked his correctness with, the problems you could understand or the answers he explained. Adam and Eve were told what was right. They knew it was right because the person who created right told them it was right. They knew that God had the ability to distinguish good and evil, so they could trust God. They wanted to be like God so they disobeyed God. There disobedience resulted in the consequence they knew would come. I don’t know how to make it any clearer than that. It works, I see how it works. You might be trying to fit this in with the state of human awareness as we are today, this will not work, Adam and Eve were not like us before they ate the fruit. You cannot judge Adam and Eve by our understanding of human morals today because it was different before they ate the fruit.

  70. evanescent Says:

    If you look elsewhere in the Law of Moses, specifically in Deuteronomy 22:23-29 there are laws against raping someone.

    There were also laws against murder, but that didn’t seem to stop the Israelites from wiping out whole cities of men, women, children, and animals. It seems the laws against murder and rape only applied to the Israelites. Non-Israelites, as the bible repeatedly shows, apparently have no protection at all against such acts.

    In addition if the men had taken them to be sex slaves then they would likely have already had sex with them and would have had to kill them as Moses commanded every women who wasn’t a virgin.

    This doesn’t make sense. They WERE virgins which is why they were spared, so that the men could “take them for themselves”, i.e. use them for sex. If the females didn’t consent, it is rape.

    I have just read a commentary on this passage and it says they were destroyed because of the idol worship they practiced, which included shrine prostitutes.

    And were the children just as guilty of idolatry as the adults, since they were also wiped out? In any event, the male children were killed all the same since the Israelite men (the straight ones, since gay ones would be put to death) only had a vested sexual interest in keeping the virgin girls alive. Interestingly, of all the hundreds of tedious and ridiculous commands that Yahweh puts on the Israelites, there isn’t a single verse establishing an age of consent… That is, once a man gives away his property (his daughter) to another man, she is fair game.

    If God made Godself known then everyone would be forced to chose God. God removing evidence of Godself gives you the ability to deny God which allows you to chose something other than God. This is one of the ways God respects your individuality, and subsequently your decision to deny or accept God.

    So god is just playing a rather horrid and sick game with us? What you are saying doesn’t make any sense. It is a fact that if you jump of a high cliff you will die. This knowledge in no way curtails your freedom; you simply CHOOSE not to kill yourself. What I don’t understand, and what you cannot explain is: if God is so wonderful and loving, who in their right mind wouldn’t want to get to know him?? Why does god insist on these ridiculously complex and overly-elaborate games where he plays hard to get, to see if we really want him? See what I mean about god sounding like a jealous psychopath stalking his ex?

    If human beings KNEW with 100% certainty that god existed, we would STILL have the choice to accept him or not (‘accept’ being a euphemism for slavery and sickening worship, as if god’s ego really needs stroking). Also, god hiding himself or making the entire universe look like he doesn’t exist (!) doesn’t change the fact that he’ll still kill us anyway if we don’t accept him. So the reality doesn’t change – all that changes is that now we have EVEN LESS knowledge on which to make a fair decision. You honestly believe all this? A bad science fiction writer could make up a more consistent story.

    Yet I did acknowledge them when I said I do not know about these things. In addition where are your grounds for calling anything good or evil if you do not believe in a god? Are you going to be so subjective and think it is whatever you feel like?

    Ha, you really shouldn’t call an Objectivist on moral philosophy. Ayn Rand laid the grounds for an objective ethical code that is based on reality itself and the nature of man.

    “God” does not exist, and as we’ve clearly seen – the bible isn’t exactly the best example of primitive human reasoning on the issue of ethics. I most certainly have an objective standard of morality that I can use to condemn evil actions: the life of a rational being. It is beyond the scope of this discussion and beyond the limits of my nearly-expired patience to get into this though.

    If you “do not know” about the evil acts committed by god or by his people with his consent, how can you continue to call yourself a Christian? Doesn’t it bother you that such huge events are a mystery to you? How do you rationalise this to yourself? Isn’t it odd that an atheist with a better understanding of the bible than you has to explain this and present new puzzles for you? Do you believe in god because it really makes total sense to you, or because you were brought up to believe in him and it makes you feel good?

    First you are assuming that the Bible is exactly the way God intended it to be in a perfect state, which I don’t believe.

    Well actually I assume the bible was written by bronze age cattle herders in the middle east who told stories about impossible global floods and the earth’s rotation around the sun coming to a complete halt for hours. But IF the bible was the word of god, and IF god wanted to communicate something to humans, and IF he is all-powerful and all-knowing, I think perfect clarity isn’t too much to expect. Sure, god could make the bible *look* like it was a ludicrous work of fiction, but then he shouldn’t throw people into hell for believing that it is a ludicrous work of fiction. I mean, just how bored is god to play these silly games? (Almost makes you think that some humans are spinning a story and cashing in on the ignorance and gullibility of others eh?)

    Also I have pointed out that the “ALL scripture” that Paul was talking about in that passage was the Law of Moses and the prophets

    Oh ok, then I guess we can just forget the entire New Testament then?

    When God is speaking that is the word of God, when God is not speaking that is not the word of God.

    We know that people wrote the books of the Bible, when even know, for the most part, who wrote what book. We understand humans are fallible, so seeing a few mistakes with translation or with the age of some king is not entirely unexpected.

    You’re right; it is totally expectable that the bible would contain errors given that it was written by humans. However, if the bible is claimed to be a message from god, we should not expect serious and extraordinary contradictions about fundamental doctrines. Here is a list of them, some of them trivial, many of them crucial: http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/contra/by_name.html

    There are 456 listed, now even I looking through them all, don’t accept that they are all valid objections; some can be explained away through metaphor or irrelevant nit-picking, but there are more than enough to prove that if god is trying to tell us something, he is more confused than any of us.

    If a mathematician comes to you and shows you a complex problem you don’t know how to solve and tells you that 3 is the right answer then you will believe him, even though you do not know how to do the problem. You believe him because he was right on every other problem you ever checked his correctness with

    Let me stop you there; if you’re casting god in the role of this mathematician, I think you’re being rather generous with the “he was right on every other problem” line. For a start, Adam and Eve were the FIRST humans, and no other interaction between them and god is recorded. Even as readers at this point, we have absolutely no idea what god is like or his track record. Did Adam and Eve? Maybe, but that’s an awfully big assumption and circular reasoning. Also, just by reading the creation account, we can tell that it’s wrong. For a start, the earth wasn’t created before the sun and moon; the order of the animals is wrong; the earth is not 6 days old, let alone 6000 years, unless you take this metaphorically. Life was not specially created all at once, but evolved slowly over millions of years. So as a reader, the alarm bells are going off in my head after a few verses and I’m thinking “hmm, I think this god chap is pulling my leg here.” Sure, Adam and Eve didn’t know any better, so they might’ve believed god, in which case he was lying to them.

    They knew it was right because the person who created right told them it was right.

    BANG! That was the sound of my logical fallacy meter exploding. This is the sort of logic that battered housewives use to apologise for their husbands, or prisoners with Stockholm syndrome display.
    How did they know that what god was saying was right? Because he said so. That doesn’t really answer the question does is? Maybe God was lying? How do you know god wasn’t lying? Because he said so. But if he was lying, he’d lie about telling the truth too wouldn’t he? He lied about creating the earth and the animals, so why not this? He made a talking snake that deceives people for crying out loud!

    Without a way to distinguish right from wrong, they’d have been unable to verify anything they were told. This casts Adam and Eve as dumb ignorant idiots who had to be spoon-fed every piece of information because they couldn’t figure out anything themselves. If they were to just blindly obey god because “god said so” why bother giving them free will at all? And why punish them for using their free will, even though they didn’t understand the consequences of their actions? And why not give them knowledge of good and bad in the first place? What was so bad with eating from the tree? We don’t know. We aren’t told. Why? Because this is a fantasy story invented and copied by ancient humans thousands of years ago. The only amazing thing is that these myths are believed by 21st century humans.

    They knew that God had the ability to distinguish good and evil, so they could trust God.

    But WHY should they have trusted god? Because god said so. This is circular reasoning. Why is trust good? Why should one trust god? Why not trust the serpent? Why choose one over the other? How do you make a choice? How do you evaluate what to do? It is simply impossible to make a choice without evaluating it in the context of your life and your knowledge. According to the bible they had no KNOWLEDGE of good and bad, and therefore no framework to make decisions. “Trust” in god might have been good, but it might have been bad – how were they to know? You can’t just say “they should have trusted god” – the answer is always WHY? And you cannot explain that without assuming that trust in god is good – which is precisely what they didn’t know.

    In short, you want to have your cake and eat it. You want to give Adam and Eve free will, yet demand that they should have blindly obeyed god for no good reason, simply because he said so. Following orders without thinking is the very opposite of using free will. You want to claim they should have obeyed him, without question – just because he said so – which is what a pet or robot would do. Pets and robots follow commands because they don’t KNOW any better. Adam and Eve didn’t know any better either, but somehow you want to claim that they did. The most basic concept an adult human must grasp is right from wrong; it forms the basis for ALL decisions in life. Yet this most basic concept was alien to Adam and Eve, because god didn’t bother to give them it.

    This story is a badly written myth, and I have thoroughly exposed this to you time and again. Yet you keep kidding yourself. Every time I lay one irrational argument to rest, you ignore it and drag up a new one. This isn’t how logic works. When you have been logically defeated on an issue the game is up. You lose. You can’t keep invented new excuses. This might be acceptable in church meetings where everyone already buys into the same story, but not in the real world.

    To recap, here are the main points we covered:

    Accuracy of the bible. I pointed out that if the bible is a message from god, it makes no sense for god to let that message become so warped and distorted that it’s virtually meaningless, since it contradicts itself and every fact we know about the world. You were unable to dispute this.

    The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics: this was one you quickly backed out on; if the law of causality applies to the amazingly complex and energetic universe, it applies to god. If it doesn’t apply to god, it doesn’t have to apply to the universe.

    Existence of god: I buried the god concept long ago which you never seemed interested in following up on: if humans can know anything, we must first know that existence exists and everything in existence has an identity. This precludes the existence of the omnimax God. God cannot exist, by definition.

    Faith. You said that faith was needed to go beyond evidence. I pointed out that this means faith is irrational and cannot be defended, since you can have faith in ANYTHING. You then changed your tune and said faith was like trust, until I pointed out that this was a sneaky attempt to twist its meaning. Your entire bomb disposal analogy was flawed because all the things in it we could KNOW. By definition, we cannot KNOW anything through faith. So faith is basically wishful thinking, like a child believing his imaginary friend exists; only kids eventually grow out of this.

    Right and wrong vs good and bad. You tried to play words with this, pretending that right and wrong meant something different to good and bad. However, after I pointed out that this was just a mental contortion, you stopped doing it, and in your latest reply you even used the words interchangeably, so presumably you now agree with me.

    Value judgments. You threw this one out there, to assert that value judgments are somehow different to moral decisions. However as I pointed out, values are things pursued by human beings in order to further their lives. Values are either positive or negative for humans, i.e. good or bad. To make a moral decision implies the conscious pursuit of values. You went quiet on this too, so I assume you concede the point.

    Adam and Eve. They had no knowledge or even concept of right and wrong, so they had no framework to make ANY moral decision. Blindly following orders is NOT a moral act for a thinking being, so simply obeying god because “god said so” would not be right. They would have to UNDERSTAND WHY it was right to obey him. If a computer shuts down when you press the off button, you don’t reward it! Similarly, you don’t punish the computer when it crashes. They were either blind sheep, in which case punishing them was silly, or they were free individuals who were ignorant, in which case punishing them was silly, or they were free individuals who should’ve known better, only they didn’t because the bible says they didn’t *know*. So whatever way you dress it up the story is silly and doesn’t make sense.

    Bible knowledge. You made assertions from the bible that weren’t true. When asked to back it up, you couldn’t, until I pressed you and even then the bible didn’t back up what you said. I have repeatedly used the bible to contradict you. I have repeatedly had to broaden your understanding of it and show you things you didn’t know or hadn’t seen. By your own admission, you have no answer to the horrors committed by god and his people. I’ve demonstrated many contradictions with the bible on major doctrinal issues. You have no answer.

    Now, after all this, let me take you back to our discussion earlier on. You said:

    Allisteria: “You must understand, at any point all of my beliefs are up for trial. If I find anything I belief untrue I do not mind parting with it. Do you feel the same way?”

    Do you remember what I said in reply? I said:

    “Well, given that we’re posting in the comments on my deconversion story, I think it’s clear that I can change my opinion and give up beliefs when necessary.

    Let me throw the question back at you: would you really give up a false belief? I mean, really really really? Because so far I’ve exposed every single flaw and contradiction with your beliefs and how they cannot make sense. I haven’t appealed to faith or magic once. Yet, I predict that you will keep coming up with mental contortions to preserve your beliefs, even in the face of opposing evidence.

    Now, if those words don’t send alarm bells ringing in your head I think you are beyond help.

    I mean this in the nicest way, but I’ve seen your kind before. I know, because I used to be it. Every believer says “I will always change my beliefs if you can prove me wrong!” It sounds reassuring and rational, but what the Believer knows in his heart is NOTHING will ever change his mind because he’s already committed to faith. Your belief in god is so much a part of who you are that no rational argument will ever get through to you, and every contradiction and lost argument will be soothed with “well, I have faith in god…I know he exists, even if the atheist doesn’t.”

    This discussion has gone on long enough for me to see this in you, which is why I don’t believe there is any purpose in continuing this. Clearly you can see the enormous lengths I have gone to to compose detailed and exhaustive posts to you, but I feel I am now wasting my time. You see, I don’t care if you believe in god or not, but I do care about defending my own articles, which I have evidently done, with resounding success. Unless you are prepared to forget your faith totally, i.e. accept ONLY reason and evidence, we have absolutely no common ground to continue this discussion.

  71. Allisteria Says:

    Well thank you for you time. The reason I did not continue on some of the issues you mentioned was because I wanted to stick to what I thought more important. You obviously don’t want to hear my reasons why because just as much as I believe there is a God you believe there isn’t. Here is the dividing line: you believe all existence must be finite, I believe some existence can be infinite. You trust only your senses and reason. Sorry for annoying you, that was not my intention. Again, thank you for your conversation.

  72. evanescent Says:

    Here is the dividing line: you believe all existence must be finite, I believe some existence can be infinite. You trust only your senses and reason.

    I couldn’t have summed it up better myself. This is, as you astutely observe, the crucial difference between us. I bid you farewell and can only wonder if the real essence of these quoted words might someday dawn on you. My deconversion story above proves that it can happen (and I was a much more hardcore fundamentalist Christian than you are).

  73. e.s. kohen Says:

    I ran into another of your posts! :) One of the most frustrating things I have encountered are ill-informed debates, and challenges to theism. Every year, Jews for Jesus has an Evangelical outreach called “Behold your God”, and goes out and tries to convert Jews to Christianity. Well, Jews for Judaism, (an anti-christian missionary organization), waits a bit, and then when Jews for Jesus is done and encouraged the local converts to go find a local Church, Jews for Judaism comes in and converts them back to Judaism.

    “sheep tossed to and fro by every wave of doctrine crafted in cunning deceit”. Or however it is that Paul described it.

    The point is, just because someone finds a flaw or error in your argument or belief, it doesn’t mean that your belief is wrong. It just means that their argument is more sound and its up to you to dig in and find what the truth is, because people will deliberately deceive you. I remember a debate where a Jewish Rabbi showed that one of Jesus’ great grandfathers was cursed by God, (Jeconiah), and was told that “none of your descendents will EVER inherit the throne of David.” To which the Christian replied, “but Jesus’ ancestory was through his mother AND father.” (This is based off of the notion that the two conflicting geneologies in the NT are because they reflect both Joseph and Mary’s ancestory, but whatever. Anyhoo. The Rabbi didn’t even bother and just lept to, “what part of NONE of your descendents don’t you understand? Jesus would have still been a descendent of any one of Joseph’s ancestors and the curse would still have applied.”

    It was a pretty strong argument of course. The Christian was flustered. I was furious. Not because I cared about who was right or wrong–far from it. I love the maturation process of knowledge. No, I was ticked off because the individual, (from Jews for Judaism), had made this argument before–and I had confronted him. See, the curse was reversed in Zerrubabel, Jeconiah’s grandson, and Jesus’ grandfather. BUT, the Rabbi knew about this. He had just wanted to craft strong argument, regardless of the truth of it.

    Stronger arguments don’t necessarily imply truth. Just because someone showed you a few contradictions in Scripture and you couldn’t find a resolution, doesn’t mean there are no resolutions. More than likely they DO know, and are avoiding obvious counter-arguments, (like in the case of Ahaziah’s age being resolved in several ways in view of Jewish script and/or Taamim). But then again, its kind of a strawman in the first place–when did God ever say that the Bible was inspired or infallible? When did any prophet, apostle, or even Jesus say such a thing? The closest you really ever get is Jesus saying that Pslams represented “law” and it could not be broken, and again, all /prophecy/ OF scripture is inspired by God.

    However, the reason I found this post was I was trying to understand your argument “existence exists, and only existence exists”. The first part, I can see why you would argue this, (many many others have tried, though usually failing miserably at defining what existence IS), but the second part doesn’t follow. If existence exists, and you assume that everything else derives from existence, then everything else also exists too since it shares that nature of existing. This gets back into the thread of “transcendence”. But now this conversation is in two of your blog posts. Wee. We really got to consolidate. Oh, and I was trying to find out how you were making this inference, I found some video of a knucklehead dude on a black backdrop trying to make the argument that non-existence doesn’t exist, (kinda disproving his own assertion that everything exists). And since he laid out an indirect proof, he would have proved that existence doesn’t exist–thankfully, his argument doesn’t follow–at all. I really, really hope my coffee will exist for a moment longer. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zdzx7g50HvE). I am going to comment on his video for fun. :)

  74. evanescent Says:

    The point is, just because someone finds a flaw or error in your argument or belief, it doesn’t mean that your belief is wrong. It just means that their argument is more sound and its up to you to dig in and find what the truth is, because people will deliberately deceive you.

    Which is exactly what I did, which led to my deconversion. The essence of my story wasn’t that “I found a few things didn’t add up, so I abandoned my whole belief system”. The point was that I was led to believe that things should *always* add up, and I was being told the truth. When one “truth” is exposed as a lie, one should feel doubt and question more. Indeed, I was very receptive to the idea that I could be wrong and would’ve liked to have been convinced back to theism again, at the time. However, in a very short time I’d learned to debunk all the flawed arguments and reasonings I’d been brought up to believe, and after that I found that there was actually nothing more of substance in the entire JW faith left; their arguments were as hollow and easy to deconstruct as any others. I didn’t just abandon one belief system because it didn’t make sense; the entire concept of faith and belief was debunked in my eyes, so theism of any god was no longer an option.

    If existence exists, and you assume that everything else derives from existence, then everything else also exists too since it shares that nature of existing.

    Nothing “derives” from existence. Everything that exists, exists. “Existence” is everything that exists. “Existence” isn’t a quality or attributes of certain objects. If an object exists, if it is present in reality, it exists, regardless of its particular attributes. The fact that “existence exists” that is, that *some* things exist, is a metaphysical axiom and the most fundamental one possible.

  75. e.s. kohen Says:

    Evanescent said:
    ——————————-
    Nothing “derives” from existence. Everything that exists, exists. “Existence” is everything that exists. “Existence” isn’t a quality or attributes of certain objects. If an object exists, if it is present in reality, it exists, regardless of its particular attributes. The fact that “existence exists” that is, that *some* things exist, is a metaphysical axiom and the most fundamental one possible.

    Okay, I cannot argue with this. The reason is, you are essentially defining what “derivation” means, and proving that things “derive” from existence. Then you say that this isn’t derivation. So, I guess it just boils down to a difference of opinion on what derivation means, and what existence means.

    And this is totally cool. This fundamental, (not very commonplace), idea is what gets people like me, (left handed ontologists), into a lot of endless conversations trying posit how ideas and entities can be defined in many different abstractions, derivation patterns and whatever. My first gut reaction is to draw up an Entity Diagram in UML.

    But the end will always be in some logical analysis, metaphysical theorems, and speculative quantum theory. When it comes down to it, its all “a wash”. Does someone need to be left handed to infer that there is a God? Does God require folks to understand quantum mechanics in order to find “Him”?

    Well, not according to Jewish/Christian Scriptures. But then again, if /I/ were God, and I were trying to persuade a rational, ethical, mature society, this might be the way I would tackle such a problem. Allow them to mature and grow as a society so that they didn’t really need to have anyone convince them what was right or wrong, allow them to learn that for themselves over time, knowing that when they accomplish this, they will poke their minds into more substantial things. They might even take a look behind the “veil” and find “God”.

    In any case, no thought process along these lines, physics, quantum mechanics, whatever, could ever disprove the existence of God. Nor can these thought processes ever confirm the “God” of Scripture.

    What these thought process do in fact accomplish is lay out a toolset, the intelligence, the know-how, the technology, the ability, for /us/ to take on the roles of “gods”. This is a scary thing. And its a comforting idea to know that our messed up society doesn’t have access to “God” being as immature as we are. Can you imagine the conflict that would follow when someone quantifiably proved the existence of God, and everyone claimed to be on “God’s” side? Oh wait, this supposedly happened before. And, it resulted in genocide after genocide. Conquests, the discrimination of others, etc. And ironically, people dogmatically asserting that there is no God (without evidence), is causing the same sort of alienation of people. All people are willing to do is assert one thing or the other. But how often do you find an Atheist and a Theist in a /real/ /honest/ life time dialogue, looking for reasonable evidence? This kind of collaboration would take this innanely idiotic argument out of the dark ages.

    Anyhoo. As I said before, it was never my intent to convince you there is a God, only to expose the irrationality of an argument. However, if you ever do post a blog citing your evidence that there is no God, and why others should believe so; or even better, if you would post why /you/ personally have been convinced this way, I would love to read. I am a pretty reasonable fellow, (I think). And would love the dialogue.

  76. evanescent Says:

    E.S, unfortunately, and sadly, I think you have missed the essence of everything I said.

    And ironically, people dogmatically asserting that there is no God (without evidence), is causing the same sort of alienation of people. All people are willing to do is assert one thing or the other. But how often do you find an Atheist and a Theist in a /real/ /honest/ life time dialogue, looking for reasonable evidence?

    And:

    if you ever do post a blog citing your evidence that there is no God, and why others should believe so; or even better, if you would post why /you/ personally have been convinced this way, I would love to read

    You seem to be throwing the ball back in my court and leaving the burden of proof with me. If you had understood anything I’d said regarding “Existence exists” being a necessary first axiom, you wouldn’t have said any of this. I don’t have any “evidence” against God. I never said I did. What I said is that the entire concept of using evidence and logic and integrating them into our knowledge using the process of reason *presupposes* an orderly universe of identity. Therefore, one *must* make exactly that assumption at the starting point of any philosophical system: “existence exists” is the most fundamental axiom since all other statements and claims to knowledge are (knowingly or unknowingly) predicated on it. The notion of “god” is a blatant contradiction to our most basic and fundamental axiom and is therefore by definition irrational, just like square circles. If we can know anything, we must not live in a universe where the supernatural exists. If the supernatural exists, nothing we think or say or anything really matters. In such a universe, god might exist, but I could be a flying elephant and square circles could eat concrete bananas for breakfast in the middle of the night.

    “God”, by definition, *cannot* exist.

  77. e.s. kohen Says:

    Evanescent Said:
    ——————————–
    The notion of “god” is a blatant contradiction to our most basic and fundamental axiom and is therefore by definition irrational, just like square circles. If we can know anything, we must not live in a universe where the supernatural exists. If the supernatural exists, nothing we think or say or anything really matters. In such a universe, god might exist, but I could be a flying elephant and square circles could eat concrete bananas for breakfast in the middle of the night.

    e.s. response:
    ——————————–
    I interpet this previous quote as your essential “argument” that you are making, (the existence of God means that everything we think we know really significant or meaningful, and because this can’t be true, there is therefore no God). You seem to keep saying that somehow this argument follows logically from the beginning premise, “existence exists”. What I am trying to point out is that logically, (syllagistically), this does not follow. You would have to connect the dots for me. And you are more than correct, I may be misunderstanding completely, (this is why I use reflective phrases like this, to reflect what I think you mean–please don’t misinterpret this as me trying to put words into your mouth that you didn’t say).

    Okay, trying to put this in different way:

    … If we can know anything

    Knowledge of anything is not contingent on whether or not the supernatural exists. For example, the notion of self existence doesn’t change whether or not Harry Potter is real or not. I am still existent, (*I hope). Coming to “know” anything is a concept I noodle on a lot. How does “information” become “knowledge”? Does this transition occur through a rational/logical reaffirmation? Is the transition from a “guess” to inner conviction of knowledge occur through “empiric” observation? Does this transformation occur after the idea has touched an organ in our psyche that is tuned to “higher truth”? Is this transformation brought about through a more cynergetic and organic process building on the level of confidence we have in said knowledge utilizing all of these?

    If you are familiar with epistemology, you will notice that I essentially just pointed to four different philosophies, (rationalism, empiricism, idealism, constructivism), and in the end essentially take a neutral stance on the value of all four, (there are more to be sure).

    /None/ of these methodologies are dependent on the “truth value” concerning the existence of God. Idealism cuts it quote close, though. Though, basic idealism does not necessitate an existence of God, and only some forms of Idealism claim to necessitate this–but even those, at some point, reduce down to the essential thesis that there is an inward “subconscious” connection with truth.

    Another blob of words to try to express the same objection differently:
    God’s existence doesn’t not necessarily mean flying elephants exist, (not so sure what is ludicrous about this idea since the even more ludicrous “ignorant politician” exists in more abundance than is healthy).

    The existence of God doesn’t mean that absurdities will suddenly begin to appear in our existence, (if God were suddenly to come into existence). A more fundamental axion is “existence is absurd”. The existence of “existence” doesn’t logically follow from anything. (i.e. 2 + 2 does not equal existence.) Does “existence” come into existence by any conceivable action we can take? Is it something the universe can create? All of these arguments lead to circularity and absurdity.

    Therefore, the existence of absurdity, (or its non-existence), has no real positive wieght or impact in an argument that God does not exist. Quite the contrary really–absurdity, circular proofs, etc would point towards the necessity of a more transcendent realm of existence, not necessarily affected by this realm of existence, (this causal domain).

    If something doesn’t make sense /to us/, it does not mean that God exists or not. However, it is benefical to take mysteries we encounter and at least, (temporarily), put these ideas in a “black box”, ascribe it to transcendent behavior, and keep moving along until we have the time to open up that black box and figure out exactly what is happening. Usually, we find the contents of that box, mysteries, are not that transcendent after all, and they need to be resolved so we can progress further. However, we have progressed fairly far as a society, 2300-ish years to know that as much as we have tried to open that box and theorize that certain mysteries are bound by this causal domain, we have yet to come close to describing any abstract, (and certainly not a concrete), model of how this could be true. One of those mysteries is “existence” itself. Even children know that in order to place a toy car on a race track, the race track must be placed first–and in the same way, existence must be placed first in order for the universe to be placed within, (an argument from “Set Theory”). If existence itself is not bound by this causal domain, then existence itself must be contained within in another “domain”, whether that domain is causal, acausal, or some other wildly abstract concept.

  78. e.s. kohen Says:

    eek. “the existence of God means that everything we think we know is not really significant or meaningful, and because this can’t be true, there is therefore no God”.

    Sorry, should have edited more.

  79. Allisteria Says:

    Evanescent,

    You told me once, that when I figured out what I believe to let you know.
    I believe that I cannot say much of anything with any kind of certainty that you would probably like to have. I cannot say with certainty that the Bible is or is not metaphorical. It makes more since for some parts to be metaphorical, such as the story of the garden of Eden, then it makes more since for some parts to be literal, where archeological evidence is there to back it up.

    The truth of the Bible does not depend on the literal or metaphorical interpretation, but on the life that it gives when you put to practice what the Bible instructs for moral living. When I live the way the Bible tells us to live, I feel better, I make others feel better, and I improve the quality of my life, and the lives around me. All the phycobable in the world could never disprove that. Inconsistencies about dates? what does it matter? I can see though, how if you are looking for God how that would confuse you. How that would make you lose your foundation. Who can you trust?

    I read this this morning and thought of you, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity.[b] I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” (Jeremiah 29:11-14 NIV)

    I don’t know your heart, and only have a glimpse at your experiences, but I know that when I seek God I always find him. I guess it just perplexes me that you do not.

  80. evanescent Says:

    Allisteria, if you have found something which makes you feel good in life and gives you a sense of direction or a framework for the pursuit of your values – I wish you all the best, I really do. I have no desire to change your mind or convince you otherwise unless you ask me why I don’t believe as you do or why I don’t think what you believe is truly ethical.

    But if you accept that simply making you feel good and having a good effect on others is all it takes, that is no different to the claims made by most religious people out there, who believe very different things to you. In other words, the positive experiences you have aren’t proof of anything, which is precisely my point. So then the question is whether we’re looking for something that gives a nice feeling, or is actually true. But I see no reason why the truth can’t also provide a proper moral code and happiness. In fact, if everything we do relates to the world *as it really is* and not how a myth tells us it is, then our best bet for happiness is a worldview which sees no clash between happiness and reality, between reason and ethics – one that simply can’t collapse around us or blow up in our faces when we discover it was a myth or lies all along.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 68 other followers

%d bloggers like this: