Conversation with James about God, the Big Bang, and the Foundation of Science

I received this comment from James in the thread under my post called Context Rules: The Inextricable Sexism of the Bible Confirmed.

I wonder if you are still there Richard.

Hey there James,

I was out of town for a full week. I had to fly to Ohio to handle a family emergency. I’m happy to report that everything worked out very well.

I also wonder what is your foundation for performing science. Based on a worldview of our universe coming from a big bang and from consequently unguided natural causes, what is your basis for assuming science works at all? You observe the laws of science, yes. But your understanding of the big bang does not allow you the right to assume there to be laws and order in our universe.

Many Christians think the Big Bang is how God created, so there is no necessary connection between it and “unguided natural causes.” But even if there were, it would not give me reason to doubt that “science works” since that is a demonstrable fact. The only question is one of philosophic justification which is interesting but ultimately irrelevant given that science works.

The Big Bang is a consequence of General Relativity coupled with observed facts like the microwave background radiation and the expansion of the universe. It is a scientific theory based on logic and facts. As such, it has nothing more to do with the unsolved philosophical problems relating to the foundation of science than any other theory. Read More »

Posted in Christianity, Philosophy | 75 Responses

Is Equality Anti-Biblical?

I received this very strange response to my article Context Rules: The Inextricable Sexism of the Bible Confirmed by someone using the handle “primitive futurist”. He began by dismissing equality as “over-rated”:

Big deal. Equality is so over-rated. Bible has it right, moderns have it wrong. Get over it.

I responded:

Actually, it is a very big deal. Equality is the foundation of justice and morality. The Bible is wrong on this point. We moderns are beginning to get it right, after thousands of years of error. As Dr. Martin Luther King said “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”

I referenced the “moral arc” because it is the title of Michael Shermer’s recent book The Moral Arc: How Science and Reason Lead Humanity toward Truth, Justice, and Freedom. It explains morality from an atheist perspective. Steven Pinker referred to it as a “sequel” to his book The Better Angels of Our Nature saying it “explores all our spheres of moral progress, not just the decline of violence.” Here is a snippet of his review found on (link):

Shermer has engaged the full mantle of moral progress and considered how far we have come and how much farther that arc can be bent toward truth, justice, and freedom. The Moral Arc is a thrilling book, one which could change your view of human history and human destiny. Through copious data and compelling examples Shermer shows how the arc of the moral universe, seen from a historical vantage point, bends toward civil rights and civil liberties, the spread of liberal democracy and market economies, and the expansion of women’s rights, gay rights, and even animal rights. Never in history has such a large percentage of the world’s population enjoyed so much freedom, autonomy, and prosperity.

Moral progress driven by the advancement of science and reason was my main point, but there were other ramifications echoing from that rich phrase. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would never have had to fight, let alone die, for equality if it were something that was effectively taught in the Bible. There is no way a whole nation of Bible believing Christians could have instituted slavery and racism if it were not somehow endorsed, or at a least allowed, in their “holy book.” The moral arc of the Bible is “justice” in the form of retribution rather than reconciliation. The narrative is a bloodbath orchestrated by God himself from Genesis to Revelation, where he finally finds satisfaction by watching his enemies tormented forever in the Lake of Fire:

And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. … And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:12, 15)

Getting back to our interlocutor’s comments, he responded by ignoring everything I wrote except the reference to Dr. King:

Dr King would be the first to reject your anti-biblical so-called justice.

I responded:

So you say that Dr. King would reject equality as the foundation of justice and morality? Seriously?

It appears your devotion to the Bible has blinded you to the nature of justice and morality. If equality is “anti-biblical” then the Bible is fundamentally immoral.

This apparently encouraged him to tell us what he really thinks about anyone who doesn’t posit the existence of some sort of god, whether it be Allah, Yahweh, or Zeus doesn’t appear to matter. If you don’t posit a supernatural whatsit, you are lost in a world consisting of nothing but atoms colliding in the void with no meaning or morality possible. Here is how he explained his view:

Blah blah blah. White middle class first-world dilettante posturing. Go down to Mexico and have this discussion with the cocaine cartels who will machine gun a family without thinking twice. There’s your atheism.

First he rejects equality as “anti-biblical” and now he is casting my reference to Dr. King’s call for equal rights as a “white middle class first-world dilettante posturing”? What’s he trying to say? That middle class first-world Caucasians cannot authentically promote equality? That would rather ironic in light of our primary gift to the world being freedom and equality and justice for all. Whether we fall short matters not; it is what America is all about! They are our highest ideals.

His leap to atheism is equally absurd and non sequitur. Indiscriminate killing is a common feature of ignorant, primitive  humanity driven by fears and superstitions, such as we find in the Bible. Theirs were the tormented minds that created the God of eternal punishment we see in the Abrahamic religions.

And this brings us to his most densely packed sequence of non sequiturs, unjustified assertions, and ignorant caricatures of what atheism entails:

There’s your evolution. Survival of the fittest is the only law in the jungle. Shit happens as Richard Dawkins says. Get over it. The gazelle doesn’t whine and whinge about equality when the lion takes it down. Eat or be eaten. Might is right. The rest, if you are an atheist, is just posturing. There is no equality. DNA doesn’t care.

Beginning at the top: Survival of the fittest, or natural selection, is simply a fact that is abundantly confirmed. It would be true whether or not there is a god. It does not imply that “might is right.” That would a category error that contradicts what we mean by the word “right”.

A gazelle does not “whine and whinge about equality when the lion takes it down” because gazelles do not possess the faculty of language and reason, which are prerequisites to moral philosophy. This error probably has its roots in the arguments of William Lane Craig, as I explained in my article Why Most Animals are not Philosophers: Fatal Flaws in Dr. Craig’s Moral Argument for God. The fact that Craig has been repeating these elementary errors for many years shows that he is truly incorrigible, and is a corrupting influence on the mind of believers who repeat his errors without thinking.

Now we come to his central assertion: “The rest, if you are an atheist, is just posturing. There is no equality. DNA doesn’t care.” The fact that DNA “doesn’t care” is no more relevant than saying that the software that made his comments possible “doesn’t care.” We are not our DNA simpliciter. Our DNA is a critical part of us, but we are much more. We have form, and our form is involved in a dynamic biological process that makes us what we are. His assertion is no less fallacious than saying that a pile of bricks is identical to a building. It is the fallacy of composition.

His main error is to assume that atheism implies materialism. Nothing could be further from the truth. Atheism entails nothing but the absence of theism. An atheist could be as “spiritual” or “mystical” as anyone. But all of that is irrelevant, because morality and meaning is based on what we are and has nothing to do with any god. The God On/God Off game makes this pretty clear. Clap your hands, there is no God. Clap your hands, there is a God. Did you notice the difference? Me neither. There is nothing about any god that would make an otherwise meaningless universe meaningful. If a future life makes this life meaningful, what makes the future life meaningful? If not another future-future life, then it must be an end in itself. If the future life could be an end in itself, why not this life?

Throw out the bible, and all you have left is Do What Thou Wilt Shall be the Whole of the Law. Everything else is just trendy fashionable this-year’s-model. Women’s rights, gay rights, children’s rights. What about the rights of the tuberculosis bacteria? When are you going to stand up for its equality? The only morality outside the Bible is self-justifying attempts to placate the conscience, but if evolution is all there is, your conscience is nothing but illusion. Get over it, head down to Mexico, and start making a killing. What have you got to lose? Your eternal soul? Ha Ha. Not if it doesn’t exist.

The assertion that the Bible creates meaning is quite absurd, given that it says countless people will be tormented forever in hell. What would be the meaning of their lives? Unfortunately, Christians have an answer for that. They say those suffering in hell have meaning because they are glorifying God by showing his “justice.” And so we reach the bottom of the abyss of Christian apologetics where “divine justice” is revealed to entail an eternal evil of infinite injustice.

And now we come to the crowing incoherence of the Christian dogma that there would be no morality without the God of the Bible. If that were true there would be no morality, for they are saying that nothing is actually right or wrong, but only because their God said so. This error has been understood for about 2400 years since Plato wrote Euthyphro. Dr. Craig’s attempts to avoid it by positing “God’s nature” as the definition of “fair, good, and just” is utterly ludicrous, because it would imply that the meaning of those words does not depend on objective reality. I explain this in my  article Morality is Objective, Like a Pair of Scales: Another Fatal Flaw in Dr. Craig’s Moral Argument for God.

Posted in Biblical Issues, Losing My Religion, Why Christianity is False | 34 Responses

Context Rules: The Inextricable Sexism of the Bible Confirmed

I received this interesting challenge to my article The Inextricable Sexism of the Bible. I will respond line by line:

I missed your point in your article. You make the assertion and give support for why the Bible is sexist against women. What was your point? Was there a point? If not, it is okay. If you were just trying to enlighten people who maybe previously had no idea, then that is fine, but I may challenge it.

I stated my point in the first sentence. Here it is again: “The Bible is an ancient book written by primitive men with primitive morals, chief amongst them being a thoroughly sexist view of women.” The implication, of course, being that the Bible is not the “Word of God” in any meaningful sense of the word. It is the product of primitive men with primitive morals and should be understood as such. It should never be used as a “moral guide” or interpreted as the “Word of God.”

How do you define sexism or being sexist (and in your context against/ towards women)? If you compare standards found in Bible times compared to today’s standards of how we are told to treat women, anyone could make the argument that the Bible is sexist toward women. But if you compare the Bible’s standard toward women against the cultural background of the time that the Bible was written in, do you get the same results?

Sexism is discrimination based on sex. I don’t see how it would be relevant if the “standards” in the Bible happened to be better than other primitive societies of that time and local. It’s still primitive and therefore not the “inspired Word” of any God.  Riane Eisler in The Chalice and the Blade argues that egalitarian societies once flourished until they were destroyed by the tribes of warrior barbarians not dissimilar to the description of the Hebrews in the Bible. In any case, there is no sign of any divine guidance in the Bible. The modern social progress for the liberation of blacks, women, and gays is driven primarily by the evolution of secular morality, and typically opposed by Christians. Remember, the fight for abolition was fought against the ruling Christians.

You say early on that there is an order of hierarchy in the Bible. Male: God, Male: Christ, Male: man, and woman: is the subject. I would first challenge the notion that God is male. While the male pronoun like He is often used to refer to God, that does not make God male. The male pronoun is the main, default pronoun to use if no gender is known or is not important to context. Only more recently with feminine movements and people being over sensitive have people been more careful to say his or her (for instance) when writing. God is also called our heavenly father. This is more a comparison of God’s role in our lives in relation to us. It is not to assign God gender. This is arguable I am sure. Moving on…

While I agree that Scripture may not define God as “male” per se, he is definitely modeled on the concept of masculinity. He is a warrior, a king, a priest, a husband. He is called “Father” by Jesus throughout the NT. There are only a few tangential references that could be construed as feminine, and they are notable for their rarity. Far and away, the “God” of the Bible is masculine through and through.

As for the use of male pronouns – if God wanted to present himself as female, what was stopping him? The closest we see is the feminine “Wisdom” of the OT, but that is best identified with the literally male “son” of the NT, so that doesn’t work. And even the Spirit, which is a feminine noun in both Hebrew and Greek, is referred to with the masculine noun parakletos (comforter) and pronoun ho (he) (John 15:26).

As for God’s role, that is decidedly masculine, as many commentators have elaborated. The church is “feminine” (passive) and God is masculine (active)

You also quote Ephesians 5 where it says that women are to submit to their husbands. I may add that you lack balance in quoting from the Bible. You missed the verse Ephesians 5:21 “submitting yourselves to one another in the fear of God”

I didn’t miss that verse at all. It is referring to Christian men submitting to other Christian men. This is made explicit in context. It is not teaching that Christian women should submit to Christian men other than their husbands and certainly not that any Christian men should submit to any Christian women. That would be quite absurd. Here is what is says. It begins with a general admonition to Christian men to submit themselves to one another, and then immediately clarifies that the women should not submit themselves to other men, but to their own husbands only. I highlight the admonition to men in italics:

Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;  20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;  21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.  22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.  23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.  24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.  25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; (Ephesians 5:19-25)

Note the strong distinction. “Wives” are spoken to directly, as distinct from the general discourse that preceded. Would it make any sense to admonish everyone to submit themselves to each other, and then immediately follow that with an admonition to the wives to specifically submit themselves to their own husbands? And then to repeat that the man is the head and the woman the subject? Is there anything in that passage that would have been read by a first century Jew as teaching that men should submit themselves to their wives? Is there any other verse in the entire Bible that would support such an interpretation?

You quote the Bible and select passages like the Bible is teaching that man can use women like doormats or as objects. Correct me if I am wrong to infer this from you. I do not think one can read Ephesians chapter 5 and can properly infer that from the context of Ephesians 5.

I did not draw that specific conclusion from Ephesians 5. It is implied most strongly in this passage from the OT in which Yahweh tells soldiers that they can take a captured woman, have sex with her, and dispose her like a filthy rag if he finds no “delight” in her:

And it shall be, if thou have no delight in her, then thou shalt let her go whither she will; but thou shalt not sell her at all for money, thou shalt not make merchandise of her, because thou hast humbled her. (Deuteronomy 21:14)

In the OT, the term “humbled” (anah) in this context means he “screwed” her.

In Luke’s gospel account, he tells more stories of Jesus taking His time to help women and children showing Jesus’ human, compassionate nature and how Jesus cared for what society called “the least of these.” At the very least, Jesus spent time trying to teach His disciples what is true greatness. He said being a servant is what makes you great. So, think about that as you may. Women, who were often treated as the least, these are the ones who Jesus said would be the greatest. Again, think about it some more.

I agree that the third Gospel has that character. I wrote a lot about it. I even wrote a section of my Bible Wheel book called Luke: The Gospel of Women. So I know what you are talking about. And that is a very good thing. But it does not undo the sexism found throughout the rest of the Bible. On the contrary, it shows how inconsistent the book really is.

When the men dragged the woman sinner (prostitute) to Jesus to condemn her, Jesus didn’t get in on the bandwagon and slap the “good ol’ boys on the back.” No, He saw the sin in the hearts of the men, and He saw the heart of the woman who was “caught in sin.” He said who is without sin, cast the first stone. One by one, the accusers walked away. Jesus forgave the woman and told her to sin no more.

And where was the man? The text says that they were “caught in the very act.” Why didn’t Jesus point out their hypocrisy in condemning the woman but not the man? In any case, I don’t see how his kindness to this sinner was any different than any other, or now it contradicts anything in my article. To reflect your question to me, what is your point?

The Pericope de Adultera in John 8 is a very strange passage. It is not found in the earliest manuscripts and it is found misplaced in later manuscripts, such as at various places near the end of Luke.

I think you have stumbled on an interesting topic in the Bible that many fundamentals do not bring up for the sake of becoming uncomfortable. How do men who revere the Bible teach such passages that do not look at women as favorably as men? Is the Bible wrong? Is today’s society wrong? Is everybody wrong? Are we all nut jobs seeking to make our position look better than everybody else’ position?

I don’t think we are all nutjobs. If we are open to correction and reality and other points of view, who knows what we will learn. My main point is that taking the Bible as the “Word of God” is obviously wrong.

I would be careful about quoting passages from 1 Corinthians and Timothy that assert certain women protocol and behaviors. 1 Corinthians was written to a church in a context that had multiple problems. Back then, women who didn’t wear head coverings were considered to be not properly dressed. It would be like women showing up in church dressed like a hooker. Cultural times do not let us catch these things as easily. Civil laws change over time. Think about how that passage might have been written if to today’s church. Moving on… And when it says that women should not have authority over the man and should not speak out, we have to look at the problem of the original context. Church services were getting out of hand. There was no order. The famous line of “let the women keep silence in the church” comes from a context that did not seek out to degrade women. It is in the context of keeping an orderly service. It would be no different than for me to say that this meeting is only so long, we will only have so much time for questions and comments, so I would ask that only the leaders ask questions. This is not to degrade against everyone who is not a leader. It is just a needed solution to the chaos that was erupting in the church services back then. Back then, the leaders of the home were the “men.” The context is not implying that the women do not matter as much or are not important. The context is just establishing a rule of conduct.

Yes, context is exceedingly important. So let’s look once again at the context, as explained in my original article. The creation myth blames the woman for all the sin in the world and says God himself placed two curses upon her: 1) the pain of childbirth and 2) male domination:

To the woman he said, “I will greatly multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” (Gen 3:16)

This verse cannot be explained away because its plain meaning is confirmed and applied in the New Testament where it is used as a justification for why women are not allowed to teach or have authority over men in Christian churches:

Let a woman learn in silence with all submissiveness. 12 I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over men; she is to keep silent. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. 15 Yet woman will be saved through bearing children, if she continues in faith and love and holiness, with modesty. (1 Tim 2:11-15)

Women are not allowed to teach because 1) males have primacy because Adam was created first and 2) women are not reliable teachers because they are easily deceived, like Eve. And it completes the picture of the creation myth when it says “woman will be saved through childbearing” (which is the only value they had according to some church fathers, see below). That women must be silent and in submission to men is confirmed and explained as being “in the law” in 1 Corinthians:

Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. (1 Corinthians 14:34)

As far as I  know, you did not deal with any of this contextual information that makes Paul’s intent quite clear, or so it seems to me.

I hope this is making sense. It is important to quote within context.

Indeed. Context is Queen.


Posted in Biblical Issues, Losing My Religion | 270 Responses

Ping Pong with a Bible Believer

As most readers of this blog have noticed, there is a user who goes by the names “bibelverse” and/or “Gnade” who is not interested in rational discourse, but rather robotically repeating Bible verses and dogmatically asserting the truth of his personal beliefs without the support of reason. Most of his comments have nothing to do with the thread in which they are found so I am creating this thread so he and his primary adversary Michael Free can freely carry on without interrupting the other conversations.

Posted in Bible Wheel | 119 Responses

Flipping Fundamentalism Off

Is there such a thing as a “former fundamentalist” or do fundamentalists simply switch sides? Is fundamentalism more about the psychology of belief than its content? Can the “fundamentalism bit” be flipped off? Former Conservatives become radical Liberals. Former alcoholics become strict teetotalers who oppose all drinking. Have I fallen into that trap? I don’t think so, but apparently some do, or perhaps they just think it is an easy way to attack my conclusions without addressing my arguments. I received this critique in the thread under my article Debunking Myself: What A Long Strange Trip It’s Been. I will respond to James line by line:

You claim that, because of limited understanding or information, you were once certain that those things you once believed were air-tight, but now are wrong- and WHY? Because you claim you later re-thought and re-examined your former conclusions with a new insight which brought you to a different and unbiased conclusion.

That’s not what I claim at all. It appears you did not read my article before commenting on it. The certainty I felt did not come from a “limited understanding or information.” It came from years of magical thinking (taking coincidences as evidence) reinforced by cognitive biases like confirmation bias and selection bias (cherry picking). In effect, I hypnotized myself by fixating my attention on the pattern of the Bible Wheel for many years. That was the basis of my illusion of certainty, as explained at length in the article you are supposedly responding to.

My point is, you may still be lacking in information (no one has all knowledge) that may yet prove that your present conclusions, which you now seem to be certain are air-tight, may equally be just as flawed. If, as you seem to be offering here, the opportunity for someone to introduce logic, reason, or information to the contrary, then would you be objective enough to accept it? If so, then I assume you would equally be objective enough and willing to change your present conclusions, right?

I have always been open to new information. My fundamentalism was not based on closing my eyes to evidence (like creationists who deny evolution and the age of the earth), but rather focusing on The Pattern I thought “trumped” all the contrary evidence. I freely admitted that there were problems in the Bible I could not explain, but felt they were nothing compared to the evidence of the Bible Wheel. My confidence was amplified by the lack of qualified critics. Almost all the criticism I received consisted of nothing but empty assertions and mindless mockery. I rarely met anyone who even tried to rationally challenge my claims. And so I had to fulfill the old saying, “If you want a job done right, do it yourself.” I recorded the process in this series of articles:

Contrary to your assertion, I did not reject my old beliefs because of “new information” but rather because of blatant cognitive errors and biases as explained in those articles.

Also, if you are equally admitting that it IS possible that such new information may be out there somewhere to cause you to change your present conclusions, then why the insults hurled at a God that may yet be proven to exist?

I’m not “hurling insults” at a God I don’t believe exists. I am exposing the absurdities and moral abominations attributed to him in the Bible, and how the attempt to justify them tends to corrupt the minds and morals of believers (as explained in my article The Art of Rationalization: A Case Study of Christian Apologist Rich Deem). If we begin by assuming that any real God must be rational and just then what is there to fear? I am confident that a real God would be big enough to handle the misdirected insults of one of his puny little creatures, and sufficiently intelligent to understand that my disdain for the behavior attributed to him in the Bible is fully justified. The Bible says he commanded genocide, established sexism, instituted slavery, and treated people with great cruelty, irrationality, and injustice. If you want to challenge these assertions a good place to start would be The Inextricable Sexism of the Bible and the “Art of Rationalization” linked above.

IF, however, you are CERTAIN that such logic, facts or reason cannot possibly exist, then is that not also supremely irrational?

Why do you write “CERTAIN” in all caps? Rational people know the limits of certainty, that it’s always a matter of probability based on logic, facts, experience, intuition,interaction with others, etc. Very few things are “certain” in a way implied by all caps, and certainly not any claim about the existence of an undetectable god invented by primitive superstitious men. You appear to be asserting an extreme form of skepticism that says it would be “supremely irrational” to be “CERTAIN” about anything. Do you really believe that Allah is as likely as Yahweh? Or that the Tooth Fairy could be the True God? If not, is your certainty on those questions “supremely irrational?”

Why even continue your threads of discussion here, to be so elitist in your thinking as to believe that no one could possibly produce such facts or information? Wasn’t that also your position long ago when you were so certain the facts behind your Bible-Wheel were indisputable?

Elitist? Where did that come from? If it is “elitist” to base arguments on logic and facts, then I guess I am that.

Your comment is an empty generalization. There is nothing for me to answer. If you think you have some evidence, then please present it. If you think I have failed to adequately answer any “facts or information” supporting Christianity, then please expose my error. Empty assertions mean nothing.

Why continue discussion? Because I find it fascinating. Because I value criticism and enjoy a challenge. I learn a lot and it helps keep my mind sharp.  Because I spent nearly two decades on this topic, and so it is a part of me. Because I want to help other people find freedom from the bondage of self-delusion. Because I am trying to help clean up a mess I helped create. Many people think that the Bible Wheel confirms their religious delusions.

Your complaint seems to be that I am an “elitist” because religious people can’t support their assertions with logic and facts.

It seems, however, that your conclusions are an admission that you now think you have enough knowledge and have finally “ARRIVED” so that NO new facts or information could EVER be produced by anyone to bring you to a change of mind.

I think no such thing. Your entire argument is based on a ludicrous straw man caricature of my position. Not one word you wrote relates to anything in my articles about why I reject my former beliefs. Not. One. Word. You are simply asserting that any certainty is “closed minded.” By your logic, you must believe that Allah is as likely as Yahweh or the Tooth Fairy. Fine logic you got there James.

I fear for you. If you are so certain that nothing can be presented to change your mind, then what is the purpose of these discussions? Is it to prove to your readers, or to yourself, that there aren’t any facts left out there to change your mind? Who, really, are you trying to convince? Are you trying to convince people that the Bible is flawed, or are you really trying to convince everyone that YOU have the FINAL ANSWERS??? Your logic, to me, is illogical. Yes, it is ILLOGICAL to think that you can possibly know all things in this life to the point of absolute certainty about anything – and, if that is true, then there is reason enough never to stop investigating! Not everyone who believes in the existence of God is ignorant of the facts, and there are enough respected scientists and critical thinkers out there who have come to just the opposite conclusion than you came to, for they conclude that there IS a God, and that there HAS TO BE a Creator, and that it is the One we read about in the Bible!

Well there you go. The Full Monty Straw Man. I have never claimed to “know all things.” It is not illogical to have a measure of certainty based on logic and facts. If you want to challenge my arguments, then challenge my arguments! Don’t just spew out generalities with no content. I dare ya.

It is particularly ironic that you end your attack on certainty with an all caps assertion that there are some “respected scientists and critical thinkers” who claim “there HAS TO BE a Creator.” How could you fail to see that the all caps “HAS TO BE” represents a “CERTAINTY” that is, by your logic, “supremely irrational?”

And of course, your fallacious appeal to the authority of “respected scientists and critical thinkers” adds nothing to your argument. There are plenty of nutty professors out there. Here are a few examples:

If you want to actually challenge something I’ve actually written, you know where to start.

Posted in Bible Wheel, Debunking Bullshit, Losing My Religion, Why Christianity is False | 4 Responses

Is there Evidence for God? Conversations with Wesley Steinbrink

The comment stream under my article Debunking Myself: What A Long Strange Trip Its Been diverged to the question of “evidence for God” presented by Wesley Steinbrink so I moved his comments to this new thread (link) and will be answering here.

Where is the evidence for God?

There is evidence in creation…
Kinesin – found in animal, plant, and fungus cells.
How can you explain that micro machine?
How can you explain all the newly found micro machines?

The fact that science cannot explain all facts is not evidence for any God. This is nothing but the long refuted “God of the Gaps” argument.

There is evidence in the Big Bang…
How was order to come out of such a chaotic event?
How did we end up on a co-rotational radius
(steady for millions of years) of a spiral galaxy
in between the less safe radial arms?

The Big Bang directly contradicts the creation myth in the Bible. There is, therefore, nothing more ironic (or absurd) than Bible believing Christians appealing to it as evidence for their God. The first verse is false because the earth was formed about nine billion years after the Big Bang not “in the beginning” at the same time as the “heavens.” Likewise, it is ludicrous to assert that the sun and stars were created on the “fourth day” after the supposedly simultaneous creation of the “heaven and earth” in the “beginning.” There is no concordance between science and the Biblical creation myth.

This again is nothing but a “God of the Gaps” argument. The “order” of nature is explained by the existence of natural laws. We do not need to invoke God to explain how raindrops refract light to create a rainbow. We do not need to invoke God to explain the existence of thunder and lightning. More sophisticated believers try to argue that the laws themselves are in need of explanation, but that fails because the laws can be accepted as eternal and necessary, just like the God proposed by the believers. This is a much simpler hypothesis that accounts for all the evidence so it is to be preferred over the extravagant and insufficiently motivated assumption of an anthropomorphic magic man in the sky.

There is evidence in the Big Bang…
Logical inference concerning what kind of Being
is behind / beyond the Universe and its making
see “Show Me God” by Fred Heeren

Fred Heeren asserts that “the Being must be outside of time and space” (source). He simply ignores the fact that his assertion is logically incoherent and hence impossible to believe. The problem is that any act, such as the act of creating, necessarily entails time. If God were timeless and chose to create the universe, he would have to go from a state of “not having created a universe” to a state of “having created a universe.” That implies he was not timeless and we see that Heeren’s assertion is self-contradictory and necessarily false. And even if such a God were logically possible, it would irrelevant since it is nothing like the anthropomorphic God described in the Bible.

Fred Heeren is a fascinating fellow.He is a legitimate science journalist who has had articles published in Scientific American, Nature, the Smithsonian, and other prominent publications. He is an old earth creationist firmly convinced by the evidence for evolution. He the president of (Day Star Research). He wrote a booklet called Ending the War on Science and Culture: When Christians Act Childish, Everyone Loses.

My work on science news stories has given me the opportunity to become acquainted with the work of cosmologists, paleontologists, and biologists around the world. It’s also helped me see the way their discoveries are misunderstood by those who view them as a threat to their faith. Having seen the fossils coming out of the ground for myself (seeing, for example, hominids demonstrating increasing cranial capacities over time), I have firsthand knowledge of how we know what we know about hominid evolution. At the same time, having once been “grounded,” first in young earth creationism and later in Intelligent Design thinking myself, I also have firsthand knowledge of the struggles of religious conservatives. But I’ve learned how unnecessary those struggles are. Now I’m excited about getting the word out about what I’ve learned—from God’s world, from God’s Word, and even from God’s atheists.

It is quite ironic that anyone would cite Fred Heeren in support of the idea that science provides “evidence for God” since Fred Heeren says exactly the opposite. Here is the description of his beliefs (source):

Heeren believes that people of faith should not try to scientifically prove God. After all, if science had such a power, what worth would faith have? Heeren says that science is powerless to coerce either belief or unbelief. But the sense of wonder it excites in people of all beliefs may inspire them to further investigations beyond science, in philosophical or religious realms.

Returning to Wesley’s comments:

There is evidence in the longevity of the Israelites…

How did they survive as a people without a nation?

It is exceedingly ironic to appeal to the nightmarish history of Israel as proof that their loving and trustworthy God has been watching over them! This video says it all: Inmates in Auschwitz put God on Trial.

I see no evidence that requires a supernatural explanation. Believers simply cherry pick the Bible for quotes from God that support what they want to believe while ignoring all the failed promises. For example, the Bible quotes God as plainly stating that there never would be a time when a son of David was not sitting on the throne of Israel:

Thus says the LORD: ‘If you can break My covenant with the day and My covenant with the night, so that there will not be day and night in their season, ‘then My covenant may also be broken with David My servant, so that he shall not have a son to reign on his throne, and with the Levites, the priests, My ministers. (Jeremiah 33:20-21)

That promise has failed for over two thousand years. And there are hundreds of similar failures. For example, Hugh Ross (another old earth creationist who makes very similar claims as Heeren) , asserts that there are “about two thousand prophecies fulfilled to the letter – no errors.” His assertion is literally insane (there’s no nice way to say it), as I proved in my article Two Thousand Reasons to Believe that Dr. Hugh Ross Might Not Be Entirely Credible. Simply stated, it is simply irrational to believe the Bible is trustworthy.

There is evidence in the Dead Sea Scrolls…
They contain Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22 with prophecy
of Christ that Jesus could not fulfill by Himself.
Consider that the Dead Sea Scrolls were carbon
dated placing them before Jesus was on earth.

The fact that those stories were written before Christ proves nothing. There was nothing to stop the gospel writers from making up stories to fit bits and pieces they cherry picked from the Old Testament. For example, we have no evidence that the Roman soldiers actually divided his garment. And many stories are obvious inventions based on elementary misunderstanding of the Hebrew text, such as the riding on multiple donkeys into Jerusalem and the “virgin” in Isaiah 7:14, which is an exceedingly egregious case of cherry picking and ripping text out of context.

There is evidence in the Resurrection being true…
Would all the disciples die for a lie?
The Roman soldiers were very practiced at crucifixion.
Many saw Him and illusions are not shared by many people.
The extra-Biblical writings tell the story of the Gospels
in the main details.
Many have tried to disprove the Resurrection and have not
been able to. see “More Evidence that Demands a Verdict”
by Josh McDowell – also see “Never – Historical
Quotes about Jesus”
for what can be seen by extra-Biblical
sources about Jesus.

As explained in my previous post, you are simply assuming the Bible is true to prove the Bible is true. There is no evidence of any kind that there were any apostles going about Jerusalem preaching Christ crucified shortly after the purported event. Those stories were made up many decades later. Paul, writing in the 50’s and 60’s, shows no knowledge of most of the biographical events reported in the Gospels. Joseph Smith shows how a conman could make up a religion out of whole cloth and now there are millions of deluded Mormons. If he could do that in an age of photographs, newspapers, and fact checkers, why would anyone believe what the followers of Jesus wrote decades after the supposed events? The New Testament is a collection of religious tracts written for the express purpose of convincing people to believe, just like the Book of Mormon and other writings of Joseph Smith. Arguments like McDowell’s are utterly worthless in light of these facts.

There is evidence from the conscience that we are each given.

see “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis

The moral argument for God is a total failure. Morality is objective because it is based on reason. It has nothing to do with any God. Even if God existed, morality would exist independently of God. I develop my moral theory in a number of articles:

The Logic of Love: A Natural Theory of Morality

Why Most Animals Are Not Philosophers: Fatal Flaws in Dr. Craig’s Moral Argument for God

Morality is Objective, like a Pair of Scales: Another Fatal Flaw in Dr. Craig’s Moral Argument for God

There is evidence in this – Sincerely ask the Lord Jesus to make himself real to you.
You will see unmistakable results.

Been there, done that. I was a fundamentalist Christian for 17 years who described himself as a “blood-bought Bible-believing born-again non-denominational Trinitarian Christian.” I prayed every day for many years. Contrary to your assertion, the results were the essence of error, since they were based fundamentally on cognitive errors such as cherry picking, confirmation bias, and believing in things for which there were no evidence.



Posted in Christianity, Losing My Religion, Why Christianity is False | 381 Responses

On the Couch with Psychoanalyst Terry Blanchard

Terry Blanchard is a long time reader who had a lot to say about my previous article Is God Trustworthy? The Root of Religious Delusion. His comments involve a lot of “psychoanalysis” of my motives, so I cast him in the role of a doctor.

The Doctor Begins: Am I just an impatient petulant child?

There is something missing from your analysis here. Readers of your forum with long memories will recall the two anecdotes you posted describing the two key events which led to your loss of faith. In the first, you were walking up a hill carrying your son, when you hurt your ankle. In pain, you prayed for immediate relief, but the pain did not cease in that moment as you requested. The second incident concerned your son and a stomach complaint, which again, was not instantly healed when you prayed for this to happen.

Out of interest, how is the ankle now? And your son? Hopefully both turned out fine. If so, then one might be tempted to suggest that your prayers were answered, but just not in the time-frame that you requested.

Wow Doc, you have a prodigious memory. As far as I know, I mentioned those two events only once in passing in a post on my forum three years ago. I can’t imagine where you got the idea that those were “key” events. I mentioned them in a reply to a member “CWH” who started a thread called Why Pray? They were meant as nothing but personal illustrations of the vanity of prayer. CWH, like many fundamentalist Christians, had been claiming that God was communicating his displeasure with America through weather patterns. He said that we should pray more to get back under God’s good graces. Here is how I answered: Read More »

Posted in Losing My Religion, Why Christianity is False | Leave a comment

Is God Trustworthy? The Root of Religious Delusion

Religion was invented when the first con man met the first fool. ~ Mark Twain

Someone who is trustworthy in a small matter is also trustworthy in large ones, and someone who is dishonest in a small matter is also dishonest in large ones. ~ Luke 16:10

Christianity is founded upon the idea that God is trustworthy. That is its central claim. If God is not trustworthy then Christianity is false. But there is no proof that God even exists, let alone that he is trustworthy. So the first question is, what do Christians mean when they say that God is trustworthy? Here is a typical example from Christian artist and author Richard Gunther: Read More »

Posted in Why Christianity is False | 84 Responses

Debunking Dan Gleason, the “Jesus is a Circle” guy

The early Christian Sacred Geometers called a circle with a circumference of 888 units “the living Jesus” because the diameter of his circle is 282 units, which is the gematria value of the Greek word bios (BioV), meaning “earthly life.”

~ Daniel Gleason,

The quote above typifies the raving lunacy Daniel Gleason publishes on his site. There is not one shred of evidence that any early Christians drew a circle with circumference of 888 units and called it “the living Jesus.” How then could he make such an assertion? The answer is simple; he believes his numerology proves that’s what they must have been doing. He has since changed his words to “may have called” in response to my email asking for his justification. He said he would restore the original assertion after his book with his numerological proofs is published, as if mere numerology, without any textual or historical evidence, could prove what early Christians actually did and said. Read More »

Posted in Debunking Bullshit | 389 Responses

The Isaiah-Bible Coincidence Debunked

MERE COINCIDENCE is the primary “evidence” that convinces most people of the truth of such religious beliefs as “God answers prayers” and “prophecies have been fulfilled” and “God designed the Bible.” Any random coincidence that “confirms” what one wants to believe is accepted as “evidence” while everything else is ignored. Years of habitual magical thinking, accepting mere coincidences as evidence, leads to strong delusions. That’s why people believe weird things like Astrology, Tarot, Numerology, and the Bible Wheel.

The Isaiah-Bible Correlation is another such coincidence that I presented as strong evidence that “confirmed” the exact order and content of the books of the Protestant Bible. Many Christians have noted that the 66 chapters of Isaiah naturally divide into groups of 39 and 27, just like the 66 books of the Bible naturally divide into 39 chapters of the Old Testament and 27 of the New. I independently noticed this in 1993. For more than a decade I made it a habit to always check for any correlation with Isaiah when studying the Bible. Over time, I accumulated enough “connections” to convince me that it could not have happened by chance. Did I have any actual statistical data? No. All I had was “intuition” based on “obvious connections” and, of course, the presupposition that the Bible was designed by God. Read More »

Posted in Bible Wheel, Debunking Myself | 12 Responses