The Bible Wheel: Patternicity on Steroids

Why do people see faces in nature, interpret window stains as human figures, hear voices in random sounds generated by electronic devices or find conspiracies in the daily news? A proximate cause is the priming effect, in which our brain and senses are prepared to interpret stimuli according to an expected model. UFOlogists see a face on Mars. Religionists see the Virgin Mary on the side of a building. Paranormalists hear dead people speaking to them through a radio receiver. Conspiracy theorists think 9/11 was an inside job by the Bush administration. Is there a deeper ultimate cause for why people believe such weird things? There is. I call it “patternicity,” or the tendency to find meaningful patterns in meaningless noise.

~ Patternicity: Finding Meaningful Patterns in Meaningless Noise,
by Michael Shermer (Scientific American, Dec 2008)

In my recent post If I am an Atheist, why have I kept the Bible Wheel site up? I answered that question as follows:

The main reason is because it is a rare and highly detailed record of the process of deconversion. I began this site in 2001 when I was a fully convinced believer who described himself as a “a non-denominational blood-bought Bible-believing Trinitarian Christian” (see my old FAQ). My transformation, which was a slow process that spanned a few years, is recorded in thousands of articles and posts here on my site, blog, and forum (which began in 2007 and now has about 56,000 posts). It is a very rich resource for personal insight as well as the psychology of belief. I am particularly interested in the role cognitive biases play in the maintenance of unjustifiable beliefs. This has been the focus of many of my recent articles, especially The Art of Rationalization: A Case Study of Christian Apologist Rich Deem.

Consistency is key to avoiding cognitive bias, so I try to apply the same standards to myself as those I criticize in my articles. Was I simply deluded as so many Christian apologists seem to be? This site provides a lot of raw data to help answer that question. I may, of course, find myself hoisted by my own petard. If so, so be it!

As it turns out, I have indeed been hoisted by my own patternistic petard, and I couldn’t be happier for it. I’m actually getting rather giddy debunking myself. The world brightens as blinders constricting my vision to the limits of The Pattern fall from my eyes. Belly laughs erupt as I recognize the folly of my former beliefs. This happened the other day when my wife Rose and I read some of my old writings. We laughed loud and clear for at least 15 minutes. I felt refreshed for days. It reminds me of the last scene in the movie Steppenwolf when Harry laughed along with his judges and so broke free from oppressive fantasies in the Magic Theatre of his mind.

One of the most effective ways I have found to “break the spell” of patternicity is to compare my patterns with contrary patterns promoted by other believers. Like the story of The Three Christs of Ypsilanti in which psychiatrist Milton Rokeach brought together three men who each claimed to be Jesus Christ and confronted them with one another’s conflicting claims, bringing myself face to face with similar but contrary claims helps me see that mine were not really different than theirs, especially when theirs strike me as obviously false and easy to refute (which they usually do, since they are not, after all, my patterns!). And so I free myself.

The Bible Wheel Pattern

bw_500The Bible Wheel is a powerful matrix for patternicity. History is littered with circles filled with symbols and geometric forms created by mystics entranced by sacred texts presumed to be divinely inspired. One of the oldest examples is from the ancient Jewish mystical text, the Sepher Yetzirah (Book of Formation) which explains how God created the world through “32 mystical paths of wisdom” consisting of the first ten natural numbers and the 22 Hebrew letters. The text says that God put the 22 letters “in a circle” and by them “depicted all that was formed and all the would be formed.” I was using this circle to categorize the symbolic meaning of the Hebrew letters when I noticed that the 66 books of the Bible could be displayed as three wheels within the wheel of 22 Hebrew letters. And so the Bible Wheel, a modern incarnation of this ancient concept, was born. I explain how this happened in my article Debunking Myself: What A Long, Strange Trip It’s Been.

My primary claim was that God designed the entire Bible on the pattern of the Hebrew alphabet. My evidence consisted of examples of “connections” between the themes and content of the books on a given Spoke with the symbolic meaning of the Hebrew letter. As we shall see below, my claims were far from unique.

Contrary Pattern: The Mystery of the Menorah and the Hebrew Alphabet

mystery_of_the_menorahThe authors of this book make essentially the same claim as I did, with one very important difference. They condensed the 39 books of the Old Testament into 22 so they could correlate them with the Hebrew alphabet. They then claimed, as I did, that God designed the entire Bible in accordance with the sevenfold pattern of the Menorah and the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Their enthusiasm was extreme, just like mine. They thought they had found patterns that proved the divine design of the Bible, and they repeatedly asserted that the pattern “fit perfectly.” For example, here are a few snippets from the Foreword to their book:

  • The concept put forth in this book will give you a renewed appreciation for the divine design of the Bible.
  • When we first saw this amazing truth, we were filled with a sense of God’s majesty and perfection.
  • The truth of the Bible’s divine inspiration emerged with new meaning.
  • The correlation matched perfectly!
  • Once again, we found a perfect match!

Their claims, and the enthusiasm it evoked in them, were much like mine. They even put the Hebrew alphabet in a circle on the cover of their book. But there was one little difference – the correlations they found were between entirely different letters and books! This really disturbed me when I was a believer because it gave weight to the skeptics claim that patterns like mine could be found no matter how the books were arranged. I now see they were right. Claims of “perfect correlation” are false and misleading because they represent a tiny cherry-picked collection of “hits” from a vast ocean of misses that they ignored. It is a textbook example of confirmation bias, just like the Bible Wheel.

Contrary Pattern: The Original Bible Restored, by E. L. Martin

restoredbiblebookIn this book, Ernest Martin “restored” the Bible to its “original” structure by following the pattern of the modern Tanakh (Hebrew Old Testament) and the “manuscript order” of the New Testament books. He then enumerated the books in a unique way to arrive at the “perfect” number 49 = 7 x 7 (which is so much better than 66 since that is based on the number of imperfect man (6) and too reminiscent of 666 for numerological comfort).

Martin then displayed his 49 book Bible in a symmetric chart based on the number 22 which he related directly to the Aleph and Tav (first and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet). He represented the symmetry by displaying a perfectly balanced scale with the number 22 on either side. This really disturbed me when I was a believer since it directly challenged my claims concerning the uniqueness and improbability of the “divine design” I had found in the Bible Wheel. And worse, the symmetry was based on the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet, just like mine! I dealt with this challenge by writing a scathing refutation (see here).

restoredbible

It is easy to see why believers would find this pattern convincing. Martin carefully designed it to be based on the numbers 7 and 22. He amplified the connection with the number 7 by selectively grouping his 49 (7 x 7) books into 7 divisions, much as I did when I created the Canon Wheel. We both thought that the product of our selection was “no accident.” Here is what he said (source):

This number 49 is, of course, 7 times 7, and seven represents the symbolic number of completion or finalization. One could spend many pages giving biblical references concerning the significance of the number seven. … Why are these sevens and multiples of sevens important? They show that it was no accident that the total number of Old and New Testament books came to 49 in number (7 times 7) in the enumeration maintained by the early Jewish and early Christian authorities. But there is more to it than that. There are also (as Christ taught) three divisions to the Old Testament:

  1. The Law,
  2. The Prophets, and
  3. The Writings’ (the Psalms) Division.

To these can be added the four divisions of the New Testament:

  1. The Historical Books [Gospels and Acts],
  2. The seven General [or Catholic] Epistles,
  3. The fourteen [2 times 7] epistles of Paul, and then
  4. the final Book of Revelation.

When one adds the three divisions of the Old Testament with the four of the New Testament, we arrive at seven divisions for the complete Bible. This seven-fold division was no accident.

No accident? No shit! Martin carefully selected the seven divisions to fit his pattern. There were many possibilities he rejected in the process. And his divisions are not consistent. He arbitrarily grouped the Gospels with Acts to create one division, but then arbitrarily divided the Epistles to create two divisions. Note also that he emphasize the number 7 in the latter while ignoring the number 5 in the former.

cw_500Martin’s selection process is particularly intriguing to me because I did essentially the same thing to create Canon Wheel. Like him, I used lots of arguments from history and the Bible to establish the validity of my selection (see here and here). Here are the divisions I used. Only two are the same as Martin’s:

  1. The Law (Torah)
  2. Historical Books (Joshua – Esther)
  3. Wisdom (Job – Song of Solomon)
  4. Major Prophets (Isaiah – Daniel)
  5. Minor Prophets (Hosea – Malachi)
  6. NT History (Gospels and Acts)
  7. Epistles (Romans – Revelation)

These seven divisions form a very nice pattern when displayed on the Bible Wheel. I said it revealed the “sevenfold symmetric perfection of the Holy Bible.” I considered this to be over-the-top irrefutable proof of divine inspiration. I now see it as the product of selection bias.

Contrary Pattern: The Roman Catholic Bible Wheel

When I was a believer, I thought one of the most significant features of the Bible Wheel was that it settled the centuries-old dispute between Catholics and Protestants concerning the canon of Scripture. I was convinced that the Bible Wheel patterns proved it was designed by God and so necessarily excluded the Catholic canon with its “extra” deuterocanonical books. I just “knew” there could be no pattern, but never actually bothered to check. I have now checked, and much to my surprise I found it very easy to make a Roman Catholic Bible Wheel. I simply followed the order of books as listed in the Vulgate (same as the Douay-Rheims version), and followed the tradition of counting Jeremiah and Lamentations as one to give a total of 72 books. These books can then be displayed on three wheels within a wheel of 24 spokes, corresponding to the 24 letters of the Greek alphabet. Thus, Catholics can claim their Bible is “sealed from Alpha to Omega” just as I claimed that that Protestant canon was “sealed from Aleph to Tav.” Only their claim has a much better ring to it, given that the Alpha and Omega are descriptions of the divine found within the text itself and are ubiquitous in ancient Christian art and literature as seen, for example, in the Chi Rho I placed in the center:

RomanCatholicBibleWheelChiRhoI compare the Catholic and Protestant Bible Wheels in my article Battle of the Bible Wheels.

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51 Comments

  1. Posted October 12, 2014 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

    That’s hoist with your own petard. A petard is a bomb, not something you could be hung by.

  2. Posted October 12, 2014 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

    Excellent! Thanks Wm Jas. I had never actually looked up the meaning of that phrase. The wiktionary says that the idiom means “To be hurt or destroyed by one’s own plot or device intended for another; to be ‘blown up by one’s own bomb’.” That’s what I always thought it meant. So neither “hoisted” nor “hung” makes good sense in our modern English. I need to look into this more, but the hour is late.

    Thanks for taking time correct my mistake. Learn something new every day, eh?

  3. Albert
    Posted May 1, 2015 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    Rich,

    I just met your site, and I know why you became an unbeliever.

    You are an unbeliever because you still don’t know the truth.

  4. Posted May 1, 2015 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    Rich,

    I just met your site, and I know why you became an unbeliever.

    You are an unbeliever because you still don’t know the truth.

    OK. Then please enlighten me.

  5. Gary Young
    Posted May 5, 2015 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    Dear friend, firstly I would like to thank you for finding just some of the symbolism that the Bible and even quantum mechanics demonstrates that an infinite mind is the Creator. May I just say that there is so much more that we cannot know that would would give the needed understanding of God and His Creation. But we do not come to God and His Salvation through knowledge as much as by accepting God’s wonderful offer of Salvation through FAITH! It is a Conversion experience in which God through Christ’s Spirit inhabits our being thus beginning a personal and intimate relationship(fellowship) with God. See Rev. 3:20…..I invited Christ into my life through this verse when I was seven….and my life was flooded with the presence of God and His wonderful love and forgiveness! I am 66 years old now and have been greatly blessed with His guidance, provision, and answered prayer. “For by faith you are saved by faith and that not of yourself, it is the gift of God.”

  6. Pieter
    Posted May 14, 2015 at 5:33 am | Permalink

    I am a Man
    I am a Son to my parents, a Husband to my wife and a Father to my children.
    I am also a Mentor, a Leader and an Educator; to name but a few.
    And none of these contradicts any of the other, because each one describes the real me from a different perspective.

    All of these designs on top are magnificent, because the Word of God is magnificent.
    And you should know that the Word of God is a person.
    You should not doubt His revelations to you because it seems to conflict with the revelations given to others. Rather count it a blessing.

    Canon is not decided by patterns, although they might be useful.
    Canon is decided by the Word of God, because He is the Author and Finisher of our faith.

  7. Posted May 14, 2015 at 6:13 am | Permalink

    I am a Man
    I am a Son to my parents, a Husband to my wife and a Father to my children.
    I am also a Mentor, a Leader and an Educator; to name but a few.And none of these contradicts any of the other, because each one describes the real me from a different perspective.

    I don’t see how your analogy applies. The Roman Catholic and Protestant Bibles differ in both content and order. They cannot both be the “complete revealed Word of God.” The Council of Trent declared that Christians must accept their canon. And besides, there is no proof that either pattern was designed by God. That’s the real issue: How do you discern between chance and design? The only evidence for the patterns is picking and choosing “connections” out of a very large dataset. Such cherry picking is the root of most delusions. People can find patterns in any book. This kind of delusion is as common as dirt.

    We have a similar problem with the other patterns, such as the Isaiah-Bible Correlation. Other people use a different order of books and yet think they have found connections that indicate God must have designed them. None of the patterns fit all the data. They all contradict each other. And again, the only “evidence” is cherry picked “connections.” It is evidence of nothing but the human ability to find patterns in anything.

    You should not doubt His revelations to you because it seems to conflict with the revelations given to others. Rather count it a blessing.

    How do you discern between real and imaginary patterns? Are you saying I should believe every random claim made by any pattern finder if it happens to be based on the Bible? That makes no sense.

    And why should anyone begin with the presupposition that the Bible is inspired? Who told you that? It can’t come from the Bible because the Bible doesn’t even define itself. That’s why the Catholics and Protestants cannot settle their argument over what books it is supposed to contain.

    Canon is decided by the Word of God, because He is the Author and Finisher of our faith.

    OK – so which Bible does the “Word of God” say is the true one?

  8. Gnade
    Posted May 14, 2015 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    Richard, the truth is found in the truth
    God’s sinless Son is the truth. Seek Him. Seek to wholeheartedly trust and
    obey Him!

    His words and deeds can be found in the KJV of the Bible.
    Seek the Teacher of teachers and be blessed!

  9. William
    Posted December 17, 2015 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    Greetings Rich,

    I enjoyed your perspective! Thank you very much for it.

    I’m reasonably certain that attempts to create things like bible wheels or other extra-biblical sources of “truth” are direct results of the protestant reformation and it’s attempt to eschew any sort of institutional religious authority. In rejecting things like a Pope (Catholicism) or a Council of Patriarchs (Orthodoxy), we’re left with a situation where it’s basically MY interpretation vs. YOURS – something Luther sadly alluded to when trying to unify his church with Calvin’s and Zwingli’s.

    And in order to gain an apologetic upper-hand, we resort to extra-biblical phenomena like those you’ve described to create an “Ah-Ha!” proof that our interpretation of the faith is the correct one. As you’ve come to realize, most of that stuff usually ends up being a bunch of bunk since most of it is lethally poisoned with personal selection bias.

    What I would like to suggest is that authority in God’s church does not come from the scrutiny of scripture. It comes from the Holy Spirit as it passes from one ordained “apostle” to another in continuing, unbroken succession – as we can arguably observe in the New Testament. And it is an institution protected by God Himself since we are promised that not even the gates of Hell will prevail against our faith. Therefore, it is those men, alone, that have the right to authoritatively interpret scripture.

    What’s interesting is that such a regime was unambiguously practiced by the Jews through the old and early new testaments. It was described as the “Chair of Moses” by Jesus himself when describing the Pharisees and practiced since the Jewish exodus out of Egypt. The oldest Christian churches, with their episcopal authority, claim that their episcopate (church leaders) are the direct heirs of the apostles, who were ordained by the highest Jewish priest, and thus sit in that chair. The primary argument between those faiths is generally a question of “who and how many” sit in the seat (a major over-simplification on my part).

    I know that submission to a council of mere men in a religious context is an outrageous impossibility for someone who is both protestant and American. But I offer this as a counter – if one’s interpretation of the faith didn’t exist in the 5th century (where it was unambiguously hierarchical), how on earth could they claim to be part of the church? I guess the church died not long after conception and their Manifest Destiny, American Protestant Individualistic Hyper-Confidence Complex brought it back? Forgive me for rolling my eyes =)

    Anywho, just a thought. Thanks again for your views!

  10. Posted December 17, 2015 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

    Greetings Rich,

    I enjoyed your perspective! Thank you very much for it.

    Hey there William,

    I appreciate your comments.

    I’m reasonably certain that attempts to create things like bible wheels or other extra-biblical sources of “truth” are direct results of the protestant reformation and it’s attempt to eschew any sort of institutional religious authority. In rejecting things like a Pope (Catholicism) or a Council of Patriarchs (Orthodoxy), we’re left with a situation where it’s basically MY interpretation vs. YOURS – something Luther sadly alluded to when trying to unify his church with Calvin’s and Zwingli’s.

    The Bible Wheel is anything but “extra-biblical.” It is nothing but the Bible displayed in a circular array. It contains everything found in the Bible and nothing that is not found in the Bible.

    My interest in it had nothing to do with rejecting traditional religious authorities like Catholicism and Orthodoxy. I was mesmerized by a pattern I thought God had woven into the Bible. Of course, the fact that it seemed to justify the Protestant canon supported that side of the debate, but it had absolutely nothing to do with my motivation. Indeed, I thought it could help unite the various factions of Christianity because the pattern was found in the “protocanonical core” of the Bible that all Christians accepted.

    And in order to gain an apologetic upper-hand, we resort to extra-biblical phenomena like those you’ve described to create an “Ah-Ha!” proof that our interpretation of the faith is the correct one. As you’ve come to realize, most of that stuff usually ends up being a bunch of bunk since most of it is lethally poisoned with personal selection bias.

    Again, there was nothing “extra-biblical” about the Bible Wheel. I find it ironic that you would even think such a thing, given that the human religious authorities and many of their traditions (e.g. celibate clergy, immaculate conception, etc., etc., etc.) are entirely extra-biblical.

    As for things “lethally poisoned with personal selection bias” – that pretty much defines all religious beliefs and institutions.

    What I would like to suggest is that authority in God’s church does not come from the scrutiny of scripture. It comes from the Holy Spirit as it passes from one ordained “apostle” to another in continuing, unbroken succession – as we can arguably observe in the New Testament. And it is an institution protected by God Himself since we are promised that not even the gates of Hell will prevail against our faith. Therefore, it is those men, alone, that have the right to authoritatively interpret scripture.

    Arguably observe in the New Testament? That sounds rather like a personal interpretation.

    And which group is correct? The Catholics who reject the Orthodox, or vice versa? Or maybe the Protestants were right in their belief that the Holy Spirit guides each believer who is a member of the priesthood of all believers.

    I see no objective evidence for any “Holy Spirit” and if there were a Holy Spirit than he seems rather foolish to speak only through subjective feelings of his followers which are so fickle and subject to bias.

    I’m sorry but your suggestions make no sense to me at all.

    What’s interesting is that such a regime was unambiguously practiced by the Jews through the old and early new testaments. It was described as the “Chair of Moses” by Jesus himself when describing the Pharisees and practiced since the Jewish exodus out of Egypt. The oldest Christian churches, with their episcopal authority, claim that their episcopate (church leaders) are the direct heirs of the apostles, who were ordained by the highest Jewish priest, and thus sit in that chair. The primary argument between those faiths is generally a question of “who and how many” sit in the seat (a major over-simplification on my part).

    And the Jews had their sects (Sadducees, Pharisees, etc.) just like the Christians. You will never find a solution to the subjective interpretations by appealing to the subjective interpretations of competing groups.

    I know that submission to a council of mere men in a religious context is an outrageous impossibility for someone who is both protestant and American.

    Personally, I think it impossible for anyone with a brain. Please take no offense as none is intended. It’s just that I can’t imagine how anyone could think there is objective evidence to follow one group of religious men over another.

    But I offer this as a counter – if one’s interpretation of the faith didn’t exist in the 5th century (where it was unambiguously hierarchical), how on earth could they claim to be part of the church? I guess the church died not long after conception and their Manifest Destiny, American Protestant Individualistic Hyper-Confidence Complex brought it back? Forgive me for rolling my eyes =)

    You reveal your bias when you take the fifth century as your standard, since that is when the Catholic Church could be said to have been established historically with its creeds and all. Before then, the religion was still being invented with major controversies around the fundamentals, e.g. Arianism, Marcianism, and a host of other beliefs that were later deemed “heretical.”

    Anywho, just a thought. Thanks again for your views!

    Thanks for sharing! I really appreciate it.

    Richard

  11. William
    Posted December 18, 2015 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    Greetings Rich,

    I thoroughly enjoyed your articulate response! A few thoughts, if you may allow;

    Our differences on the bible wheel may be as simple as a difference in paradigm, but as I see no direct reference to such a device within the texts. As such, it is by definition extra-biblical. Specifically, the bible wheel is a tool created by the practitioner of what is largely considered a pseudo-scientific discipline that is then used to analyze scripture itself. The fact that the tool can be readily modified (by your own admission) to suit protestant and catholic canons indicates that it is a product of the author’s bias and such examples are probably the reason numerology and patternicity can’t graduate from the “pseudo-science” classification most academics place upon them.

    That doesn’t mean a bible wheel’s without merit! Just be willing to call a spade a spade.

    Also, I fully understand that you weren’t trying to reject traditional religious authority per se. But the bible wheel was very obviously an evangelical Christian’s attempt at establishing some sort of transcending, unifying truth. I think you even admit to as much in your writings. I only intended to re-introduce the notion of episcopal authority as an answer to the classic protestant problem of “who decides?” And a monster problem it is. Check out the estimated number of independent Christian sects pre-Henry VIII (of England) vs. today. There’s so many, no wonder you see these poor Christians struggling for anything to get an authoritative edge. “The answer is in the King James Bible! The answer is in a number wheel! The answer is holding snakes! Maybe it’s in icons and polyphony!”

    The alternative to snakes and number wheels that I suggest is that Christ ordained apostles with the authority to decide matters for the church. Under those apostles are priests. And under those dudes sits the deaconate. Below that is the laity (me). The fundamental difference between this hierarchy and the number wheel is the ordination by Christ and the empowerment via the Holy Spirit into a position of divine authority. There’s also more historicity for the episcopate than there is for the “protocanononical core” you claim to have existed, as canon wasn’t approaching establishment for the buds of the major Christian branches until the 4th century. Even the authenticity of the gospel of Mark, the first to have written, has been subject to debate. We do, however, see much proof for the existence of the episcopate because what is a Pauline letter in itself if not a loving correction sent to a church from an espicopal authority?

    So to be clear, the Holy Spirit does not and will not “speak clearly through his fickle followers” on ecclesiastical issues. He/It does so through the empowered episcopate – which WE are NOT automatically a part of upon coming into the faith. Think of the American president and his cabinet. They make the major decisions that We The People are generally bound to, but we have little if any part in evaluating. You may counter that you elected the president. I’d rebut by saying that you did only if you’re a member of the Electoral College.

    Naturally, submission to the episcopate requires faith in such authority, but we Are talking about the Christian religion, so faith is a reasonable assumption. If this is merely an argument about the existence of a god in general, any rhetorician knows that the existence of the divine is as provable or disprovable as the existence of happiness. You can say you have it both when you really do and really don’t.

    And please reconsider the notion that because there is more than one competing episcopal authority, you have a logical obligation to dismiss them all. I could use identical logic to dismiss the fields of quantum mechanics and astrophysics as nonsense because there are competing and mutually exclusive theories that as-yet cannot be empirically confirmed or denied in both fields. Another great example of inconsistency in the sciences comes from a quip my brother-in-law (a maxillofacial surgeon) likes to use. “Ask 10 peers for a consult, you’ll get 11 different opinions”. By your logic, I probably just shouldn’t have the surgery. However, we know uncertainty is not an excuse for dismissal.

    A few closing thoughts:
    Your line about Pharisees and Sadducees assumes they were mutually exclusive of one another – like protestants and catholics. I humbly point out that these two groups had an inter-working relationship like the administration of the Sanhedrin – the High Jewish Court.

    By the end of the 5th century (meaning about 401 to 500), virtually all of the major doctrinal issues that divide the ancient church in the present had already emerged. Nicaea defined the trinity and that there is only one church, Chalcedon defined the personhood and godhood of Christ and Carthage settled the canon until Luther decided he had the right to open it back up 1100 years later. Some say that Constantinople in the 7th century defined canon for the orthodox, but it was merely a confirmation of Carthage and attendees explicitly refer to it. Also, there were already rumblings between Greek and Latin Christians as to the authority of the bishop of Rome – no material disagreements on the necessity of the episcopate, however.

    I’m assuming your claim of catholic bias stems from the fact that the 5th century was also the time of Augustine. Please remember it was also the time of Chrysostom. As the 7 ecumenical councils of the church were completed by the end of the 8th, if you’d like to use that as a benchmark, it’s very supportable, especially since no major fragmentation occurred in the interim, although you leave out the Oriental church using anything past the 5th, which is a bit of a problem. Maybe the issue is the possible anti-catholic residue of a once-evangelical and not any bias on my part? It’s pretty common knowledge that most evangelicals look upon the catholics (or really ANY church with an authoritative hierarchy) as heretical because evangelicals know that the local church is the supreme authority on matters of faith, even if Paul himself sends them a letter of admonishment and correction. They clearly have right of refusal =).

    So using either the 5th or 8th centuries, if the True Church is ever to have really existed, it was Catholic, Oriental or Orthodox. And not a bible wheel to be found between them.

    Sorry, this was WAY longer than I anticipated.

  12. Posted December 18, 2015 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    Hey there William,

    I very much appreciate your dissertation. [wink] But when all is said and done, I see absolutely no justification to believe the Catholic teachings about the existence of Christ, let alone the doctrine that the church descended from Apostles who were themselves ordained by him. There may have been a charismatic first century Jewish dude name Yehoshua around whom the Christ myth grew, but that is irrelevant since it is obvious that most if not all that is said of him is mythology, much of which was invented after he died (if he existed at all). I agree with the modern consensus that there is essentially nothing we can know about the “historical Jesus.” It’s like trying to write a biography of Joseph Smith using only the official Mormon sources. If my skepticism seems extreme or unreasonable, consider the fact that Joseph Smith made up his religion out of whole cloth less than two hundred years ago. Now there are millions of Mormons. If he could do that in an age of telegraphs, photographs, newspapers, and fact checkers, how much easier would it have been for people like him to make up a religion in the first through fifth centuries when everyone was a thousand times more ignorant, gullible, and superstitious? And besides that, religion is not looking for skeptical fact checkers, but rather gullible believers. If there is a rational God, I could not imagine that he would expect anyone to believe in the Catholic church.

    Great chatting!

    Richard

  13. William
    Posted December 18, 2015 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    Hey Rich,

    Thanks for the reply! Tried this once, accidentally deleted so here’s the reader’s digest version for those with ADHD.

    Not catholic, member of American Orthodox Church in America, under the Russian Orthodox Church. Went to popular protestant seminary when young. Either please correct your not-totally-rational anti-catholic bias or please put away the red herring.

    The episcopate is easily proven by scripture – but I don’t think you consider scripture authoritative =) And the historical church functioned solely under various episcopates until the rise of American protestantism. Even the early reformers RAILED against christian liberty as it’s practiced today.

    Totally right about the potential bias of Christs recorders. They believed he was God! But his existence is way more provable than the existence of most of the Greek scholars you ever read about. Only know about Socrates thanks to the writings of one dude – Xenophon. Same goes for Homer and really nearly anyone who was preserved in writing roughly before the rise of Byzantium. The further back a historical writing is recorded, the more error you MAY have in the preservation of the work because sometimes (oftentimes) there’s only one original source. Hyperbole and exaggeration frequently abound and what you have is just the best you have.

    In fact, that’s not too different from the faith you must have to believe that the population of China you get from google/fact checkers is actually the truth. Oh, it’s verifiable through scholarly consensus? Get counting! Scholarly consensus changes quite frequently and is really shorthand for “I don’t know, but it seems like they do so let’s go with that” (that’s faith, btw). Hawking STILL isn’t totally sure black holes really exist.

    Seriously, so little, if anything, is empirically provable. Atheists, who have by their claim the burden of evidence, can’t even prove there isn’t a God. The most scholarly thing they can academically say is “It is unknown”. Even humanism itself defies substantiation, as we see chronically at the Veritas forums.

    A man that believes in only what can be empirically proofed is a man that believes in very little. He doesn’t even believe in evolution yet as it yet to pass muster into scientific law status. That’s simply a matter of fact. For that man to admit belief in Darwin’s system would be tantamount to breaking his own standard in favor of one far more arbitrary in the name of self-serving, individual “reasonability”.

    And please drop the idea that the irreligious as a group have the lock-down on the intelligent people. Some of the dumbest human beings I’ve ever met were on college campuses and described themselves as post-modern and post-religion. Some of the ignorant Christians I know are cardiologists and astrophysicists. I even know one gullible, ignorant rube that works at Boeing as an engineer. If I had to guess, I’d say the brain-power distribution in both camps is pretty similar.

    You almost certainly pick your different beliefs by arbitrary shades of gray that you determine as “reasonable”. I ask that you take it easy on people whose equally arbitrary choices differ from yours as we both know “reasonable” and “certain” are not synonymous and the difference is called “doubt”.

  14. Posted December 18, 2015 at 10:46 pm | Permalink

    Hey Rich,

    Thanks for the reply! Tried this once, accidentally deleted so here’s the reader’s digest version for those with ADHD.

    Not catholic, member of American Orthodox Church in America, under the Russian Orthodox Church. Went to popular protestant seminary when young. Either please correct your not-totally-rational anti-catholic bias or please put away the red herring.

    Hey there William!

    This conversation is getting very interesting. I appreciate your comments and the time you have taken to present them.

    As far as I know, I have not presented any “anti-Catholic bias.” What did I say that made you think that? My opinions about the Orthodox and the Catholics are very similar. I see them both as entirely natural human religio-political traditions with no foundation in a reality about God or Christ or any such thing. They both evolved from variations of the early Jewish sects classed as “Christianities.” Granted, there was a lot of apparent unity between the fifth and eleventh century before the Great Schism, but that was a “unity” enforced with the sword (surely you know about the bloody battles over Arianism and how politics played a central role in the establishment of orthodoxy (small o), etc.). Have you read Jesus Wars: How Four Patriarchs, Three Queens, and Two Emperors Decided What Christians Would Believe for the Next 1,500 years?

    The episcopate is easily proven by scripture – but I don’t think you consider scripture authoritative =) And the historical church functioned solely under various episcopates until the rise of American protestantism. Even the early reformers RAILED against christian liberty as it’s practiced today.

    “Easily” is in the eye of the believer. I don’t think you would find the Catholics or Protestants agreeing with you on that point.

    I can’t imagine what you could mean when you say “the historical church functioned solely under various episcopates until the rise of American protestantism.” American Protestantism came long after the Great Schism of the 11th century.

    The Reformers would have dropped dead if they could have seen what is going on in modern churches. But I don’t see your point.

    Totally right about the potential bias of Christs recorders. They believed he was God!

    That’s not entirely clear. The synoptic Gospels give no clear testimony to the divinity of Christ. The high Christology (equating him with God) doesn’t really appear until the very late Gospel of John. And even then there was much room for debate. Hence the Arian schism that wasn’t settled until the soldiers were employed in the fourth century.

    But his existence is way more provable than the existence of most of the Greek scholars you ever read about. Only know about Socrates thanks to the writings of one dude – Xenophon. Same goes for Homer and really nearly anyone who was preserved in writing roughly before the rise of Byzantium. The further back a historical writing is recorded, the more error you MAY have in the preservation of the work because sometimes (oftentimes) there’s only one original source. Hyperbole and exaggeration frequently abound and what you have is just the best you have.

    How is his existence provable? Sure, there may have been a first century Jewish dude named Yehoshua around whom the Christ myth accreted, but we can never know because we have no historical evidence. Nothing could more obvious than the fact that the Gospels are primarily mythological religious fiction that developed over time. Walking on water, turning water to wine, multiplying fish and bread. All the kind of stuff we should expect from religious mythology.

    In fact, that’s not too different from the faith you must have to believe that the population of China you get from google/fact checkers is actually the truth. Oh, it’s verifiable through scholarly consensus? Get counting! Scholarly consensus changes quite frequently and is really shorthand for “I don’t know, but it seems like they do so let’s go with that” (that’s faith, btw). Hawking STILL isn’t totally sure black holes really exist.

    I laud your skepticism! I have not researched the primary sources concerning the population of China. Maybe it is all bullshit. But think of what that would entail. If their population is too small, then how do we account for the economics that they contribute to the rest of the world? What about their output of carbon? What about their consumption of oil? Pretty soon, we would have to assume a massive worldwide conspiracy that fudges all the numbers in all the disparate source to make their deception work. And what would be their motive? And why hasn’t anyone made a name for themselves by exposing the vast conspiracy? It seems much more likely that the consensus is correct because it depends on CONSILIENCE like all science. That’s what brings down most conspiracy theories.

    Seriously, so little, if anything, is empirically provable. Atheists, who have by their claim the burden of evidence, can’t even prove there isn’t a God. The most scholarly thing they can academically say is “It is unknown”. Even humanism itself defies substantiation, as we see chronically at the Veritas forums.

    I am not a theist. I do not believe in any god. What then am I? By definition, I am an atheist. Atheism is not defined by the claim that there is no god. Atheism is defined as lacking a belief in any god.

    There is no “burden of proof” for the atheist, any more than there is a burden of proof on my for lack of belief that there is a teapot orbiting between Earth and Mars.

    Theists, on the other hand, make the claim that there is a God. They bear a burden of proof.

    I’m not sure what you mean about humanism. Do you have a link to a representative thread on the Veritas forum?

    A man that believes in only what can be empirically proofed is a man that believes in very little.

    I don’t know who you think you are talking to, but I have never said that all knowledge must be “empirically proofed.” That sounds like verificationism which I reject as a philosophical principle given that it is incoherent because it cannot itself be empirically verified.

    Epistemology is one of the primary philosophical tangles to which theists typically run and hide, like a scared rabbit. Case in point: William Lane Craig literally disintegrates the inherent unity of moral ontology and moral epistemology in his vain efforts to establish his Divine Command theory of morality. See my article Why most Animals are not Philosophers: Fatal Flaws in Dr. Craig’s Moral Argument for God

    He doesn’t even believe in evolution yet as it yet to pass muster into scientific law status. That’s simply a matter of fact. For that man to admit belief in Darwin’s system would be tantamount to breaking his own standard in favor of one far more arbitrary in the name of self-serving, individual “reasonability”.

    Evolution has “yet to pass muster into scientific law status”? What kind of pseudo-scientific creationist crap have you been reading? Ken Ham? Wow. Evolution is one of the most successful and confirmed scientific theory ever developed. It is supported by mountains of evidence.

    And please drop the idea that the irreligious as a group have the lock-down on the intelligent people.

    I don’t think I’ve ever said anything like that. Please provide a quote of what I wrote that gave you that impression.

    Some of the dumbest human beings I’ve ever met were on college campuses and described themselves as post-modern and post-religion.

    I totally agree. I’ve seen atheists turned into incoherent logic-pretzels because they refuse absolutely to admit there was any absolute truth. I have no idea why you would think you needed to inform me on this point. It is something I’ve known for a very long time.

    Some of the ignorant Christians I know are cardiologists and astrophysicists. I even know one gullible, ignorant rube that works at Boeing as an engineer. If I had to guess, I’d say the brain-power distribution in both camps is pretty similar.

    Yep! The Young Earth Creationist brain surgeon Ben Carson comes to mind! LOL

    You almost certainly pick your different beliefs by arbitrary shades of gray that you determine as “reasonable”. I ask that you take it easy on people whose equally arbitrary choices differ from yours as we both know “reasonable” and “certain” are not synonymous and the difference is called “doubt”.

    I’m not so sure my standards are “arbitrary.” If you disagree, please be specific so I have something to work with.

    Great chatting!

    Richard

  15. William
    Posted December 20, 2015 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    Greetings Rich,

    I hope you and yours are well! And this is getting pretty interesting, if I may agree.

    On the catholic bias, I said “5th century”, you cried catholic and continued to do so in a follow up, Thus it’s arguably self-evident. The greatest event of the 5th century isn’t some hazy idea about someone pushing proto-catholic ideas (there are surviving writings from 2nd century romanists, so I’d probably use that century instead – it’s even earlier). The biggest event of the 5th is the post-Chalcedon split – the church’s 1st major schism. Thus mid 5th and back, there was arguably one church, although with disagreeing bishops that had yet to formalize separation. Ergo the 5th still stands as a damn good benchmark for someone seeking the “true church” although room for disagreement will always exist.

    On the episcopate, the idea itself argues for the leadership structure of a church requiring faith. There’re too many bridges that have to be built between an atheist and a high-church Christian and even if those are built, I can’t make you walk down them. It’s the classic donkey and water situation. If reasonable doubt exists (and it always exists), your beliefs incentivize you to rapidly espouse them. So I see I’m not going to make you drink, Rich. But should you ever feel the need to advocate the supremacy of the local church in the context of active faithful, let me know so I may retort =).

    On the divinity of Christ in the gospels, John 10:30 is a good start. And no, I’ve not read “Jesus Wars”, but Christian history is something I’ve studied both formally and informally. If the Byzantine emperors could not reunite the Latin and Greek churches (a goal virtually all of them shared), I think any claim of history-shaping theological supremacy applied to anyone is pretty “out there”. And the Arianism controversy in Europe was just as much about politics and culture war as the reformation. Those who continued the practice after Nicaea were those in open conflict with the empire for reasons political. To equate Christendom with the roman empires is like equating democracy to America. It’s categorically incorrect.

    And on atheism… This will be fun.

    You claim that atheists do not have a burden of proof in incorrect because “there is no god” is, as a matter of logical and hypothetical fact, an assertion. It makes a clear, definite claim. As such, that claim must be verifiable or it falls into the category of “belief” and not “fact”.

    The atheistic claim is unprovable using pure Aristotelian logic because your premises (as always) require impeccable truth values. If such exist that can provide the conclusion of atheism (and is transferable to Boolean operators) and you can provide them, I suggest you forward the argument to every .edu email you can find and publicly publish it so you can claim ownership. Then please invite me when you accept the Nobel Prize for disproving god. I’m serious about that request, by the way. I’ll go.

    The non-existence of god is also unprovable using the scientific method. This may be new to you, but the scientific “default” assertion is merely “undefined”, not “no”. When you take a gander at the statistical science of hypothesis testing (something you hopefully did as a math major. I’ve had 2 stats classes and I was in humanities), the test is always to confirm or fail to confirm a hypothesis. H(subscript n or alpha) is the hypothesis you are testing and H(subscript 0) is the null value which generally represents “no pattern”.

    And therein dies the argument that atheists don’t have a burden of proof. Why? Because when we silly Christians FAIL to confirm the hypothesis of “There is a God” using statistical analysis (whichever test you construct), our failure doesn’t confirm that there ISN’T a god. Our failure simply shows our hypothesis was rejected AND NOTHING MORE. If you continually insisted in class that ANYTHING else can be logically inferred, my old professor from the math dept. would give you a very sympathetic smile and recommend “business administration” or “english” as a more suitable major. You just wouldn’t be “getting it”.

    Take a criminal trial as a perfect and frequently cited example. We are testing the guiltiness of a defendant when a trial is underway. Possible result values to the hypothesis test are only “guilty” or “not guilty”. When we get a verdict of “not guilty”, that is not at all the same as “innocent”. Think of the old O.J. Simpson trial or any trial where the killer got away with murder. The trial did not prove innocence. It only, ONLY failed to prove guilt. No such thing as “proven innocent” in an American trial. It just sounds a hell of a lot better in a news blerb.

    Coming full circle, the failure to prove god’s existence is only failure to prove god’s existence. Nothing more. The claim that “therefore, no God exists” is just an inference upon a rejected hypothesis which, as a statistical practice, is categorically incorrect. Or, as we say in Kentucky, “Flat-ass wrong”.

    So yeah, Rich, you do have a burden of evidence because you make a defined assertion. The only problem, as we both already know, is that it’s unprovable. And don’t sell me a load on “You can’t prove negations, it’s impossible!” Negations are proven all the time. That’s what observations fundamentally are; records of both what is and isn’t there. “Well, you can’t prove Abstract negations!”

    Then you don’t have a valid claim. You must default to “undefined”. Aristotelian logic and the scientific method firmly demand it.

    Alright Rich, shoot back! =) And have a nice holiday season.

  16. Posted December 20, 2015 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    You claim that atheists do not have a burden of proof in incorrect because “there is no god” is, as a matter of logical and hypothetical fact, an assertion. It makes a clear, definite claim. As such, that claim must be verifiable or it falls into the category of “belief” and not “fact”.

    Hey there William!

    I’m glad the conversation is continuing. Your argument about my atheism is quite literally a strawman because I have never said there is no god. On the contrary, I have repeatedly stated that there might be some sort of god that I know nothing about. As explained in my last post to you, I am an atheist by definition because I am not a theist. It’s really very simple. A theist is defined as a person who believes in a god. I do not believe in a god, so I am not a theist. And since I admit I do not know if there is or is not a god, I am an agnostic atheist.

    I make no claims about the possible existence of some sort of god(s) except to say I don’t know. Therefore, I bear no burden of proof.

    Now I do make claims about the existence of specific gods that have attributes that contradict logic and/or facts, such as Yahweh and Allah. I reject those gods because they are said to be wise and just in the same text that presents them as irrational, ignorant, and unjust.

    Great chatting!

    Richard

  17. William
    Posted December 20, 2015 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

    Greetings Rich,

    I’m glad I caught the return volley before my bedtime.

    Ah, then we have an argument in semantics!

    You postulate that an atheist is simply anyone who is not a theist. Using the terminology of logic, such a person is then specifically and correctly defined a non-theist; which means precisely “something other than a theist”.

    “Atheos” is a greek word that is formed by the direct negation of “theos”. This method simply creates comparative dichotomies between the un-negated and negated term – in this case being “god”. You end up with “god” and “no god” and the “-ist” is added to denote “follower of”. This is is a horse of slightly different color from the definition you provide (and when arguing semantics, equine hues are worthy topics of distinction).

    And let’s be honest with ourselves, with thread titles like “Is God Trustworthy? The Root of Religious Delusion”, you’re undeniably an active anti-theist. Just calling a spade a spade – as respectfully as I can. I understand this is your house.

    Feel free to store your unneeded straw-man defense next to the anti-catholic bias =)

    Have a good one Rich. The work week awaits =(

  18. MichaelFree
    Posted December 20, 2015 at 11:29 pm | Permalink

    The Gospels are meant to be interpreted by the individual. They are not to be lorded over by people claiming to be “Father”. No church owns the Gospels.

  19. MIchaelFree
    Posted December 21, 2015 at 12:05 am | Permalink

    Agnostic atheists are the true and factual followers of truth. Make no mistake about it. The truth is not a person. There may actually be a deity that supports the truth wholeheartedly, making that deity “the truth”, but for that to be true then agnostic atheists must be recognized as the true and factual followers of truth, at least when it comes to belief in “God-deity”.

    If William believed in the truth then he would admit that this statement is true and factual: “the Bible is full of contradictions, errors, logical absurdities, and moral abominations attributed to its God”.

  20. MichaelFree
    Posted December 21, 2015 at 2:17 am | Permalink

    America represents freedom from religionists who would take away a good atheist’s kids from them, who would do so and call it righteous because they would claim that they are saving the kids from hell. How many native Americans did Catholics rape in such a way and use their theology to try to justify it?

    My neighbors are the Ohlone Indians here in the East Bay. They drew a line in the Earth between them, their children, their people, and the Catholics that built missions here, and it was the Catholics that crossed that line in the Earth and not the Ohlone. Do you remember Jesus writing with his finger in the Earth? This is the same line. The Catholics transgressed the God of Truth. To much of Native Americans your Jesus is a demon and what happened to the Ohlone was indeed demonic. Your religion is witchcraft. You conjure fear of demons and Satan and hell out of thin air and call it righteous. You pray to statues and give life to them. And you call yourself “Father”, more like son of perdition. You make God into a violent eternal murderer (torture is the process of murder) of non-violent on Earth non-Christians. Your God is a murderer. A murderer of people who hated murder here on Earth. He is the hypocrite, the enemy of the God of Truth.

    I hate your God just as much as I hate murder.

    The truth is the son of heaven.

    Is that anti-Christianity enough for you? Is the anti-Christ a murderer? It isn’t me or Richard who venerate murder, we hate it, righteously, along with rape, torture, and slavery, all things attributed to your God. Laws against doing these things must be eternal which is why the God of the Old Testament is not the God of Truth, but rather a tribal warlord.

    You might want to wash the veneration of murder off of your soul. Stop looking at non-Christians the way that you do.

    Become a humanist and love thy fellow human being as thyself or else never find God’s truth, mercy, or love. Don’t be a hypocrite. Love and follow the truth.

  21. William
    Posted December 21, 2015 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    Greetings Michael,

    As this conversation has, to this point, been between myself and Rich, I would like to begin by pointing out that I came with a set of assumptions that were tailored to my audience. Specifically, I was speaking with an ex-evangelical christian about better alternatives for authority within the faith than bible-wheels and, as most good conversations do, the subject matter evolved.

    What I’m ultimately trying to say is that I will not, nor should I be obligated to, approach you (or anyone else) in the same manner I approach Rich. Using cardinal directions to illustrate, If I approached Rich from the north, I’m free to approach you from the east. Or west. Or any direction I so choose.

    With that said, welcome!

    The notion that the gospels are meant to be interpreted by an individual (non-clergy, if I understood right?) is an opinion. It is also one never shared by the largest and oldest branches of Christianity. After all, what is more de-unifying than 10 laymen with 11 potentially authoritative opinions?

    On the next post, I do not posit that the bible is somehow supernaturally perfect. My faith never has in it’s centuries of distinct existence. But if I may;
    -All the contradictions I’ve ever been presented with are generally hazards of individual interpretation that are readily dismissed with another interpretation.
    -“Errors” is super-vague, but I fully accept that translation errors are common when converting a text from one language-in-time to any other.
    -If by “Logical Absurdities” you refer to supernatural events, then they are readily acceptable within the context because WE ARE discussing a religious text. The “logical absurdities” explain why it was written in the first place. Something very different and interesting seems to have happened!
    -“Moral abominations” are in the eye of the beholder’s chosen morality. Scientifically speaking, there isn’t even a “good” and “bad”. Only causality. What “moral” rubric are you using?

    On to your next post.

    I can’t authoritatively speak on what “America Represents” so I’m unsure how to respond. But on the rape claims, 1) how many were raped by non-catholics over the centuries? It seems that the unifying denominator probably isn’t the one you identify and 2) when has it ever been plausible to generalize the actions of a few over a whole group? Hitler may have been a vegetarian. So by your logic, vegetarians love killing Jews? There are some basic lessons in classical logic you may need to brush up on. Any university bookstore should fix the leak. Just look under the “Phil” section.

    Continuing with that theme, I’m very sorry for the suffering of the Ohlone people near you. But history is filled with the selfish conquests of evil men who use the evangelism of their faith as a cover for their far less righteous intents. They build a worship house as white-wash and systematically steal, murder and rape for material gain.

    You insist that the anger is correctly directed at the dedicated of the cover-faith. The rational target is the perpetrator of the will that harmed them. Your anger is better directed at the Spanish Crown or Fatimid Sultan or another political authority, depending on where you live. The powerful would have ordered it done anyway and if there was no religious institution to use as a shield, they would have called it Manifest Destiny. Which, interestingly, is probably the greatest calamity in the history of northern Native America.

    Continuing, hardly conjured from thin air, Satan is at least an arch-type for the evil that men do even without religion.
    I’ve never prayed to a statue, nor anyone I know. I’ve never called myself father except in the context of having actual children. I don’t make God into anything.
    You claim to hate God based on a universal morality and it’s genuinely interesting to me. Where can I find this universally acceptable morality outside of religion? My education of secular philosophy tells me that we are either egoists or communal utilitarians that continually suffer at the hands of rogue egoists. Without a divine cop, the only thing stopping me from assaulting your wife and daughters, murdering you and your sons and taking all your possessions as my own (routine predator pack behavior) is the probability that you may kill me in the struggle or that some greater law enforcement regime (government) will respond in contra to me. And even then, the question just changes into a risk-reward analysis of me being caught by someone ELSE who may kill me. So where is this universal morality you irrationally adhere to, thou rationalist?

    I’ll close with this – from the Christian gospel, the greatest two commandments are to love God and love your neighbor like you love yourself. Anyone departing from that is not an accurate representative of Christendom. And as we all depart from that to varying degrees, you may wish to temper your critique of historical “Christians” as non-ideal representations of an idea.

    As an aside, are we arguing theism vs. non-theism or are we arguing Christianity vs. non-theism – which is an argument of incongruent terms. Even if you “beat” all of the 30,000+ interpretations of Christendom (your life-span may be insufficiently long), you still have a hell of a lot of active theists out there you’ve not even begun to address.

    Have a nice day, fellas.

  22. MichaelFree
    Posted December 21, 2015 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    William,

    You said:

    “Without a divine cop, the only thing stopping me from assaulting your wife and daughters, murdering you and your sons and taking all your possessions as my own (routine predator pack behavior) is the probability that you may kill me in the struggle or that some greater law enforcement regime (government) will respond in contra to me. And even then, the question just changes into a risk-reward analysis of me being caught by someone ELSE who may kill me. So where is this universal morality you irrationally adhere to, thou rationalist?”

    Wouldn’t doing those things that you describe make you sick William? If it makes you sick, there is a reason for this, and it’s not that you may be caught, but rather that you will have to live with yourself.

    Jews, Christians, and Muslims all supposedly have the same “divine cop” because they all get their religion from the same book. Jews hate Christians and Muslims, Christians hate Jews and Muslims, and Muslims hate Jews and Christians. You all hate each other. Is your divine cop “hate”? You may say that you love Jews and Muslims but no one has a greater love than to lay down their life for a friend, which is the exact opposite of what you have done: you have laid down the Jew and Muslim lives in order to exalt your own in heaven.

    All the religious wars over the centuries has shown that your divine cop must be asleep on the job. Common everyday crimes committed by everyday religious people further confirms this. Christians are no more moral in life than atheists but you pretend that morality and honor comes from a book and not from life itself. So something else holds us back from doing wrong deeds.

    We do indeed choose our morality, and scientifically speaking there is a good and a bad (a moral and an immoral).

    Within you is the universally acceptable morality. You can rest assured that it is within every human being. It is the “divine cop”.

    Human beings interact with the world through our words and through our deeds:

    Do not lie to other people.
    Do not steal things things that belong to other people.
    Do not physically assault other people (physical assault, rape, murder, torture, enslavement).

    Ask yourself why I know that you want to be treated this way by other people. I want to be treated this way, you want to be treated this way, let’s treat each other this way, the way that God intended.

    So the question becomes, what makes us choose good over evil. The human inclination is to live a peaceful life. The vast majority of us have always hated being victims of violence, no bible needed. Human beings as a species like living in peace and happiness.

  23. MichaelFree
    Posted December 21, 2015 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    William,

    You said:

    “All the contradictions I’ve ever been presented with are generally hazards of individual interpretation that are readily dismissed with another interpretation.”

    The Medianites in Numbers 31 were ordered to be murdered by God, and to have their things stolen. This was done for religious reasons (unjust reasons in other words), because they tempted the Jews with other Gods. God in the Bible said “do not kill” and “do not steal”, and yet orders his followers to break his own commandments = contradiction.

    You said:

    “-“Errors” is super-vague, but I fully accept that translation errors are common when converting a text from one language-in-time to any other.”

    Richard can attest better than I can to the errors littered throughout the Bible. I’ve only read the Gospels.

    -If by “Logical Absurdities” you refer to supernatural events, then they are readily acceptable within the context because WE ARE discussing a religious text. The “logical absurdities” explain why it was written in the first place. Something very different and interesting seems to have happened!

    If you valued the truth you would interpret that book according to reality, with metaphors being interpreted as metaphors and truth being interpreted as truth. Literal Adam and Eve and literal Noah’s ark are logical absurdities.

    You said:

    “-“Moral abominations” are in the eye of the beholder’s chosen morality. Scientifically speaking, there isn’t even a “good” and “bad”. Only causality. What “moral” rubric are you using?”

    See my last comment.

  24. MichaelFree
    Posted December 21, 2015 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    William,

    Your religion, your morality, and your ideology, have nothing of value to offer me. If God showed itself in the world and was just like your religion says he is, then God would have nothing of value to offer me; I’d rather be dead than to live for eternity with your God.

    I’ve washed myself of my past sins and I serve my fellow human beings every day. I am not a hypocrite, and I do it for honor, not for a promise of eternal life.

    I’m done talking to you.

    Enjoy yourself.

  25. MichaelFree
    Posted December 21, 2015 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    William,

    One more thing.

    Untold numbers of war veterans throughout the centuries have suffered from PTSD. They are ashamed of what they participated in. This shame comes from inside of them. They find it difficult to live with themselves. And that is the nature of violence, it is abhorrent and inhuman, the exact opposite of how each of us wants to be treated by other people. It is one thing to protect yourself from violence using enough force to restrain the violence from continuing to occur, but it is entirely another thing to commit violence towards peaceful people who want no part of violence. A persons choice of religion is not a reason to commit violence towards them, so it is unjustified, just like your God.

    Take care.

  26. William
    Posted December 21, 2015 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

    Greeting Michael,

    A lot here, so I’ll attempt to reply as best I can.

    If I existed in a world where there was no God, I’d simply be an animal of a higher order of intelligence. Thus, if pack animals (especially the predatory ones) exhibit the same behavior, No. I don’t imagine murder would make me sick. Justification for it is all around me in nature. Any sickness You might feel may be the residue of social conditioning. After all, we’ve posited there is no god.

    Do you think Chimps get sad when they engage in organized warfare and kill one another? Do you think when the young lion runs off the old male, he’s sad about it? When a new silverback gorilla expels the old, does he feel remorse?

    As best we can tell, no. And interestingly, a lot of sexual activity usually follows. And we aren’t even talking about people, Michael.

    Next, Jews, Christians and Muslims do not get their info from the same book. For the most part; Jews use the Tanakh, Christians use some version of the Holy Bible and Muslims use the Noble Quran. Your subsequent conclusion is therefore not worth consideration as your premise is categorically untrue.

    War and crime doesn’t prove the “cop” is asleep on the job. You seem to think he has an obligation to stop human free-moral agency. You’ve obviously failed to consider what it would mean if he did.

    The peaceful, caring society you describe (communal utilitarianism) works GREAT until a collection of waring, violent madmen (rogue egoists) raid our villages. Alas, we will fall to the right of might. In order to achieve stable, lasting peace, we will have to offer them tribute of gold, women, whatever they want. Because while we were building our great society, they were sharpening their weapons =( What happy slaves we will be! Hopefully one day our new masters will see it our way!

    Moving on… On Numbers 31 – First, the commandment is better translated as “murder”. Next, Deuteronomy 32:35 “It is mine to avenge. I will repay.” The armies of Israel were the merely the medium through which God’s vengeance was achieved. If they broke the commandment in carrying out the will of the state, then the public executioner commits murder when they administer the lethal injection. You may think so! But the prevailing law does not, and that’s what actually matters.

    The majority of Genesis is not a literal text in the same way Leviticus is a literal, almost legal text. Consider the span of time between the occurrence of the story and its initial codification. If you think stories that were oral tradition for the first millennium they existed are subject to strict legalism, you cannot be more incorrect. I mean, you understand the stories likely pre-date writing, right? And your chosen literary critique methodology is to do so from a hyper-literal perspective? This is a joke, right?

    And on establishing a secular morality, you’ve still failed to produce anything substantive. Like you, I refer to the top.

    Michael, if you’re done with me, that’s ok. I’m just trying to show you that there’s a small chance that your beliefs are equally as irrational as you insist Christian beliefs are. You just LIKE your beliefs more than Christian views. However, you have difficulty authoritatively substantiating that view from what I’ve seen so far. And I say that as gently as I can.

    I have 4 uncles and 1 cousin that saw combat wearing an American uniform and they’re proud of what they did in service to the United States. That’s not to diminish Americans with PTSD. I hope they get free of their awful fetters. But I’d like to recommend you stop your regular practice of taking a small, self-serving segment and generalizing them to represent an entire class. You do so habitually and it diminishes the power of your otherwise passionate rhetoric.

    You take care as well.

  27. Posted December 21, 2015 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

    Greetings Rich,

    I’m glad I caught the return volley before my bedtime.

    My name is Richard, not “Rich.” No one calls me that.

    Ah, then we have an argument in semantics!

    The problem is not with semantics. I explained exactly what I meant when I described myself as an atheist. If you disagreed with my definition, the rational thing would have been for you to tell me that I am not an atheist according to your definition, and then to address my actual position. But that’s not what you did. You ignored everything I wrote and went on to rant about a position that I do not hold. That is a textbook example of a strawman.

    You postulate that an atheist is simply anyone who is not a theist. Using the terminology of logic, such a person is then specifically and correctly defined a non-theist; which means precisely “something other than a theist”.

    “Atheos” is a greek word that is formed by the direct negation of “theos”. This method simply creates comparative dichotomies between the un-negated and negated term – in this case being “god”. You end up with “god” and “no god” and the “-ist” is added to denote “follower of”. This is is a horse of slightly different color from the definition you provide (and when arguing semantics, equine hues are worthy topics of distinction).

    I’m sorry, but there are some fundamental errors in your explanation. There is no problem mixing the Latin negative prefix “non” with the Greek noun “theos” but you cannot then claim that your linguistic hybrid “specifically and correctly” fits your ad hoc definition. There are no rules of grammar or logic that support your assertion. At best there could be a conventional distinction. In a most literal sense, nontheist and atheist mean the same thing. There has been a lot of discussion about the relation between those terms. You would do well to read up on it. The main issue is that “atheist” has acquired a lot of baggage over the years and now has two primary meanings:

    Strong Atheism which is a belief that there are are no gods.
    Weak Atheism which is a lack of belief in any god(s).

    They are not the same. The fact that I do not have a belief in any god does not mean I believe there are no gods. As I’ve explained many times, there could be some sort of god I know nothing about.

    But all this is utterly irrelevant because the real issue is my position, not the label you put on it. My position is that I do not believe in any gods but admit there could be a god that I don’t know about. Simple as that.

    And let’s be honest with ourselves, with thread titles like “Is God Trustworthy? The Root of Religious Delusion”, you’re undeniably an active anti-theist. Just calling a spade a spade – as respectfully as I can. I understand this is your house.

    Not true. My article was aimed specifically at the idea that God is not trustworthy. I did not write a word about the impossibility of some sort of God who doesn’t promise to do things that he doesn’t do. It was not “anti-theist” at all. It was anti-Yahweh.

    Feel free to store your unneeded straw-man defense next to the anti-catholic bias =)

    Where did you get the idea that I have an anti-catholic bias? I asked you this before, and you ignored my question. Now you repeat your false accusation? If you want to have anything like a rational discussion, you will need to quote something I’ve written that shows an “anti-catholic bias” (or retract your false accusation).

    Oh, and btw, I hope you will feel free to store your snide remarks up your ass. You would be doing us all a favor.

  28. Posted December 21, 2015 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

    If I existed in a world where there was no God, I’d simply be an animal of a higher order of intelligence. Thus, if pack animals (especially the predatory ones) exhibit the same behavior, No. I don’t imagine murder would make me sick. Justification for it is all around me in nature. Any sickness You might feel may be the residue of social conditioning. After all, we’ve posited there is no god.

    Do you think Chimps get sad when they engage in organized warfare and kill one another? Do you think when the young lion runs off the old male, he’s sad about it? When a new silverback gorilla expels the old, does he feel remorse?

    That is not true at all. You are committing the reductionist fallacy when you say we would “simply” be “an animal of a higher order of intelligence.” It is that higher intelligence couple with self-awareness (ability to reflect on our actions) that creates our moral nature. I’ve explained this error in detail in this article:

    Why most Animals are not Philosophers: Fatal Flaws in Dr. Craig’s Moral Argument for God

    And as for chimps getting sad, and having the rudiments of our moral sentiments, nothing could be more obvious. Are you telling me you haven’t seen emotions in other mammals? Wow. Have you never had a pet? In any case, there is a large body of literature on morality in non-human animals. You would do well to educate yourself on this issue. Here are a couple videos to get you started:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GcJxRqTs5nk

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZurINLlVds

  29. Posted December 21, 2015 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

    William,

    First you said “Without a divine cop, the only thing stopping me from assaulting your wife and daughters, murdering you and your sons and taking all your possessions as my own (routine predator pack behavior) is the probability that you may kill me …

    And then you said “War and crime doesn’t prove the “cop” is asleep on the job. You seem to think he has an obligation to stop human free-moral agency. You’ve obviously failed to consider what it would mean if he did.

    Given that the “divine cop” has never been proven to exist, let alone to actually stop any crime in any situation, why do you say that he is stopping you from fulfilling your deep, deep desire to rape, murder, and eat children?

    Thanks for the reminder that believers rarely have any authentic morality, but choose to pretend to be moral only because they fear punishment by their gawd awful gawd.

  30. Posted December 21, 2015 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

    Moving on… On Numbers 31 – First, the commandment is better translated as “murder”. Next, Deuteronomy 32:35 “It is mine to avenge. I will repay.” The armies of Israel were the merely the medium through which God’s vengeance was achieved. If they broke the commandment in carrying out the will of the state, then the public executioner commits murder when they administer the lethal injection. You may think so! But the prevailing law does not, and that’s what actually matters.

    What actually matters is that no good and moral person would ever order the Israelites to slaughter every man, woman, and child except for 32,000 sexy virgins who were then distributed as sex slaves to the very soldiers who slaughtered every person they ever loved.

    This is why I have concluded that fundamentalist religion tends to corrupt the minds and morals of believers. It doesn’t matter what kind of insanity or barbarity is attributed to their gawd – if he does it, it is “good.”

  31. Posted December 21, 2015 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

    If William believed in the truth then he would admit that this statement is true and factual: “the Bible is full of contradictions, errors, logical absurdities, and moral abominations attributed to its God”.

    On the next post, I do not posit that the bible is somehow supernaturally perfect. My faith never has in it’s centuries of distinct existence. But if I may;
    -All the contradictions I’ve ever been presented with are generally hazards of individual interpretation that are readily dismissed with another interpretation.
    -“Errors” is super-vague, but I fully accept that translation errors are common when converting a text from one language-in-time to any other.
    -If by “Logical Absurdities” you refer to supernatural events, then they are readily acceptable within the context because WE ARE discussing a religious text. The “logical absurdities” explain why it was written in the first place. Something very different and interesting seems to have happened!
    -“Moral abominations” are in the eye of the beholder’s chosen morality. Scientifically speaking, there isn’t even a “good” and “bad”. Only causality. What “moral” rubric are you using?

    Michael was quoting me when he wrote “the Bible is full of contradictions, errors, logical absurdities, and moral abominations attributed to its God”. That’s why those words are in quotes following a colon. I guess it would have helped if he had added “as Richard often says” before quoting me.

    Your answers appear to be transparently irrational rationalizations. I really think you might benefit from this article:

    The Art of Rationalization: A Case Study of Christian Apologist Rich Deem

    Now on to your rationalizations:

    -All the contradictions I’ve ever been presented with are generally hazards of individual interpretation that are readily dismissed with another interpretation.

    Readily dismissed? Don’t be absurd. All intellectually competent non-delusional informed readers of the Bible know that it is filled with inconsistencies and contradictions. E.g.: The birth narratives in Matthew and Luke. The four contradictory accounts of the passion week. The ministry of Christ being three years in John and one year in the synoptics. The lack of mention of James in John. How Judas died. The sequence of events the the four gospels. Etc., etc., etc.

    If you want to maintain your case, then you must at least be able to answer Dan Barker’s Resurrection Challenge. All you need to do is give a coherent account of what happened without omitting any of the data in the Bible. Many christians have tried. None have succeeded. The link will take you to the thread on my forum where you can present your answer. You’ll be famous!

    -“Errors” is super-vague, but I fully accept that translation errors are common when converting a text from one language-in-time to any other.

    I was talking about errors in history, science, etc. E.g. six days of creation? Woman from a rib? Global flood? Exodus? I shouldn’t need to elaborate. Any informed Christian knows that Bible is full of errors.

    -If by “Logical Absurdities” you refer to supernatural events, then they are readily acceptable within the context because WE ARE discussing a religious text. The “logical absurdities” explain why it was written in the first place. Something very different and interesting seems to have happened!

    No, there is nothing logically absurd about a supernatural events simpliciter. The absurdities I’m talking about are the irrationalities attributed to Yahweh and superstitions like causing speckled animals to be born by placing striped sticks in front of them while mating, etc. And especially the Gospel which obviates the meaning of righteousness.

    -“Moral abominations” are in the eye of the beholder’s chosen morality. Scientifically speaking, there isn’t even a “good” and “bad”. Only causality. What “moral” rubric are you using?

    Moral abominations are totally real. Genocide is a moral abomination. Yahweh commanded it so he is a moral monster.

    I explain my atheistic “moral rubric” in this article:

    The Logic of Love: A Natural Theory of Morality

    See also:

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

  32. William
    Posted December 22, 2015 at 12:35 am | Permalink

    Greetings Richard,

    I apologize. The error of address was not corrected earlier and I mistakenly assumed that it was ok. I repent.

    First, you don’t seem to know what a strawman actually is. It is when you craft a weak version of your opponent’s argument so that you may easily “burn” it – by proxy burning your opponent’s actual, stronger argument. It is Not challenging the validity of one of your opponent’s premises, which is what I’m doing. If you’re looking for a fallacy to cry out, you could try Begging the Question, but I still don’t think it fits. Obviously I’m biased in my favor.

    If I’m not clear enough – you don’t get to define “atheist”. I don’t either. If we disagree on a common definition…

    That is called semantics. So yes, the problem appears to come down to semantics, as they usually do.

    You are smart enough to realize that you can’t defend your stated, defined view if you have a burden of proof. The fact that all defined views have an inherent burden of proof is a fact you irrationally, religiously ignore. In fact, the only claim that doesn’t is one of “undefined” – without any “buts” or addendums (another reference for hypothesis testing). But we both know that’s too neutral (because it’s impeccably, scientifically neutral) and you would probably consider switching your views to that as an unacceptable concession.

    Understandably, you’re therefore going to do anything and everything you can to shift the perception of that inherent burden off of you as expeditiously as humanly possible because failure to do so requires you to rationally admit the nigh-immediate death of your claim. After all, what is this website if not a public challenge to “Come And Take A Shot At Richard’s Unassailable Claim!”?

    So here’s my semantic on “atheist”.

    Theos is an affirmative word and Atheos is the negative form of that word. It is “God” and “No God”. It follows the simple rule of grammatical negation. That is an actual, extant logical convention of creating the negative absolute equivalent of the original – in this case easily achieved by adding an “alpha”. I’m not sure how I can make that any more clear to you, Richard.

    Assuming you don’t wish to argue the significance of the suffix “-ist”, you arrive at “follower of god” and “follower of no god”. The negation of Theos does not create “follower of no god in particular, but open to some unknown god.” There’s no one Greek (or Latin) word I’ve ever come across to convey that in either affirmative or negated form. I’m not saying it doesn’t exist. I’ve just never seen it. You may find a solution in conjuncting words, but you’ve got to be very careful about which you pick, as I’ll later show.
    Non-theist, as I correctly identified previously, means precisely “something other than a theist”.

    Expanding “theist” (which is theos + ist) within the statement yields “something other than follower of god”. Compare to “follower of no god”. These are not logical equivalents. They never will be. This is not a matter of opinion. It is only a matter of “discussion” to people who have no real idea what they’re actually talking about.

    To be clear, feel free to call it an “ad hoc” definition as you need, but it’s classroom Greek. And it’s a sophomore-level example at very best.

    If your definition strays substantially, it may be possible that you source your expanded definitions from sources that create those definitions with a specific purpose already in mind – perhaps sources already sympathetic to your claim. In such a case, you would have to claim the privilege of relativism in order for your definition to not be total garbage. But taken to extremes (and there’s nothing really prohibiting that) unbridled relativism makes rhetoric impossible as anything can ultimately mean anything else.

    Continuing with the semantic, what you identify as “Strong Atheism” is just “atheism” and “Weak Atheism” approaches “non-theism”. And you’re right; not the same.

    And this is of supreme relevance because we’re still trying to identify what you actually believe in correct terms. The labels that you eschew are necessary in order to craft any kind of communicable statement concerning your belief.

    The “Hail Mary” descriptor I’ve seen thrown is “Agnostic Atheist”. Let’s take a second and tear apart this absolute train-wreck of a term. It takes a word describing neither belief nor disbelief in god and conjucts it with a word describing disbelief in god.

    In case you totally missed it, the claim of the second term immediately contradicts the claim of the first. And I’m supposed to accept that as the bedrock religious view of the quintessentially rational?

    Oh, I almost missed something… Let’s assume for a moment that your personalized definition of “atheist” is valid. As you admit to your thread being anti-Yahweh, where exactly does that fit in your faith-definition? Are you an Agnostic Atheist Anti-Judeo-Christian? You’re a man that neither believes in God nor disbelieves in god but disbelieves in the Judeo-Christian god but is open to the existence of an unknown god? What, exactly, is the Greek word for THAT? Can you provide proof Yahweh isn’t real?
    Your religious views appear no more rational that those of the Pastafarians.

    And closing on the anti-catholic bit, I typed it earlier, I’ll type it again. I referenced the 5th century, you immediately cried “catholic” in your December 17 & 18 posts and had a few critiques of my allegedly catholic god and insisted the 5th century was when the catholic church developed. Feel free to scroll up. I’ll draw the similarity like this – are you familiar with the Rorschach tests psychologists use? Look at the picture, tell me what you see? It reveals personality and emotional traits. You saw the inkblots of the 5th century and immediately conjured Catholicism and attacked it when I’m no such thing. Also, the idea that Catholicism somehow emerged more in the 5th than any other is also partially telling. That’s a bias revealed. But don’t feel vexed about it. You can almost define “American Evangelical” as “someone who thinks Catholics are idol-worshipping, bible hating heathens” and you were once an evangelical.

    And the snide remarks – if one lobs a petard, it’s fair game to lob it back. I’m sorry if I offended.

  33. William
    Posted December 22, 2015 at 1:16 am | Permalink

    Hey You two,

    I replied before I saw the additional comments. Apologies.

    Reductionist fallacy? Chimps and dolphins are also self-aware. Independent of divinity, man is simply another animal unless proven otherwise, Richard. Please try again.

    Youtube is a poor source for info, but I’ll bite. I asked if Chimps are sad at the end of a battle due to killing other chimps. Not “do they ever get sad”. Please re-read.

    Richard, the “cop” works because animals respond to the carrot or the stick. The notion that the irreligious are as bad as the religious is a sweeping generalization so broad and void of substance that I won’t address it except to inform you that you can do better. Continuing, The elimination of rival males and subjugation of females is a natural practice by most pack animals, especially pack predators. I’ve said this before. Do you deny it? If so, seek correction from a zoologist. They’ll provide.

    Richard, every act of God in delivering His justice will be an act you will always agree with? Is a supreme being somehow subject to your approval? If it exists, of course not! You basically posit that you critique the text because you plain ‘ole don’t like it. As a completely and equally valid counter: Tough shit. I don’t like taxes, but their reality does not depend on my belief.

    The Art of Rationalization applies to you as well, Richard. You could subtitle it “A collection of ad hominem fallacies to make you feel better when people do a good job of disagreeing with you”. It’s extremely self-serving.

    Quote “Readily dismissed? Don’t be absurd. All intellectually competent non-delusional informed readers of the Bible know that it is filled with inconsistencies and contradictions. E.g.: The birth narratives in Matthew and Luke. The four contradictory accounts of the passion week. The ministry of Christ being three years in John and one year in the synoptics. The lack of mention of James in John. How Judas died. The sequence of events the the four gospels. Etc., etc., etc.”

    Christian scholars of every stripe have written whole libraries in response to each of these, Richard. Your arguments are not novel in the least. Do you need me to do the google search for you?

    My faith has maintained that a legalistic view of Genesis is an incorrect one for centuries. I think I’ve said this before.

    The followers of your morality of love will be slave to the followers of the morality of might. The communal utilitarian will always endure the egoist. You cannot conquer the sword with the smile. Your best chance of making it work require everyone taking vows of extreme poverty and living on land devoid of natural resources or the conquerors shall visit. I’ve said this before.

    I think I’ve already addressed most of your objections.

  34. MichaelFree
    Posted December 22, 2015 at 3:27 am | Permalink

    William,

    I do have a reply after all.

    I’ll make it simple because I’m not interested in history or philosophy, contradictions, errors, or logical absurdities.

    Animals and human beings can’t be compared when it comes to human morality. Human beings get to make an informed choice before our words and before our deeds that affect other people. Not being a hypocrite is a powerful motivating force for anyone that was raised in a family environment where the rules were to get along with one another, no religion needed. It takes more than one person existing in the world for there to be such a thing as a hypocrite. Not being a hypocrite requires true words and peaceful deeds to be done to other people. The good, true, and peaceful way.

    My whole premise is that your God is evil for purportedly doing violence to non-violent non-believers. It’s really disgusting and shameful to imagine such a thing happening to real people (non-believers). It’s unacceptable spiritually. And as we’ve seen the scenario then transfers to the real world showing itself in religious violence. It’s real fear-conjuring witchcraft to purport to have a God that does violence to non-violent people. To me it’s unacceptable, and I’m not an atheist, I believe in a deity, but I’m not religious.

  35. MichaelFree
    Posted December 22, 2015 at 3:43 am | Permalink

    William,

    You said:

    “The followers of your morality of love will be slave to the followers of the morality of might”. Not when the followers of the morality of love are the mighty ones. Time heals all wounds.

  36. William
    Posted December 22, 2015 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    Welcome Back Michael,

    Without some supernatural claim of morality, animals and human beings are intimately comparable because humans are classified under the kingdom of animalia in their taxonomy. We are animals by definition. We are merely unique due to our intelligence and domination of the planet. But some species had to take the title. It just happened to be us. We’re not even to only species to engage in war.

    Your claim to hypocrisy is untenable. As the human nature requires the existence of law and law enforcement to protect itself, the hypocrisy of a cop killing an active shooter is necessary to minimize rogue egoists. I wish it weren’t so, but it is.

    I’m sure you’ll counter that such is a “just killing”, but that was, is and forever will be a subjective call. Sorry. Whether you agree or not is simply irrelevant as the outcome occurs independent of your thoughts.

    Verily, the imperfections of the human condition are present everywhere in our history. Atheist soviets killing theists, pagan Vikings raiding the northern European coast & British Isles, primitive homo-sapiens killing each other with sticks. The stain on the human condition transcends time culture and religion. And it is single handedly sufficient to kill your theory of the transcendent “atheist morality of love”. It is a religious idea of a behavioral utopia that is doomed to always exist only in the minds of those who believe in it. Human nature serves as an immovable object blocking the realization of such a nice idea. Your problem isn’t god. It’s you and me.

    On your last post, the power of love doesn’t emphasize physical violence and it’s power to subdue like the morality of might.

  37. Posted December 22, 2015 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    First, you don’t seem to know what a strawman actually is. It is when you craft a weak version of your opponent’s argument so that you may easily “burn” it – by proxy burning your opponent’s actual, stronger argument. It is Not challenging the validity of one of your opponent’s premises, which is what I’m doing. If you’re looking for a fallacy to cry out, you could try Begging the Question, but I still don’t think it fits. Obviously I’m biased in my favor.

    You did not “challenge my premises.” That’s the problem. You ignored my stated position and burnt your straw atheist which does not accurately represent me. I explained your error and you ignored what I wrote so here it is again. If you think my stated position does not fit your definition of atheist, then I am not an atheist by your definition and your tirade against atheism is therefore exposed as a textbook example of the strawman fallacy.

    If I’m not clear enough – you don’t get to define “atheist”. I don’t either. If we disagree on a common definition…

    Not true. There is a lot of freedom when it comes to defining terms. Language is conventional, based on agreement, traditional use, etc. All serious thinkers know that coming to agreement about definitions is essential if any mutual understanding is to be achieved. I agree with Voltaire, “If you want to converse with me, define your terms.” The meaning of words changes over time and people can agree to give specialized definitions of common words such as the physicist who defines work as force x distance or the philosopher who defines atheism as a lack of belief in any god(s). Your assertion that your definition follows from Greek grammar is simply absurd, because the negative prefix “a” means “without” so atheist literally means “without a god.” But that’s irrelevant because language does not follow your sophomoric hyper-literalistic pseudo-etymology. I wonder if you can stand under what I mean. Language is largely metaphor. I do not stand under anything when I understand something. Etymology may give clues to the meaning of words but cannot be used to force them to fit the definitions required for your rhetorical tricks. And that’s what you argument is – a transparent attempt to drag unbelievers down to epistemologically unjustifiable level of believers. I’ve seen this trick a thousand times. Young Earth Creationists do it all the time, claiming that empirical science is based on the same kind of “faith” that they have in the dogmas of their cult.

    You are smart enough to realize that you can’t defend your stated, defined view if you have a burden of proof.

    Bullshit! My defined position is that I don’t have a belief in any gods. I can justify my rejection of all gods invented by humans such as Allah, Yahweh, or Zeus. All you are doing is trying to force me into the unjustifiable position of claiming there are no gods of any kind. That is impossible because there could be some sort of god I know nothing about.

    Your tactic is as transparent as it is perverse … and common amongst the Christian apologetics crowd.

    The fact that all defined views have an inherent burden of proof is a fact you irrationally, religiously ignore.

    “Religiously ignore?” I knew it! You are equating your mindless obedience to your cult’s dogmas with my rational skepticism. I knew it wouldn’t take long for you to reveal your fundamentalist mindset.

    Understandably, you’re therefore going to do anything and everything you can to shift the perception of that inherent burden off of you as expeditiously as humanly possible because failure to do so requires you to rationally admit the nigh-immediate death of your claim. After all, what is this website if not a public challenge to “Come And Take A Shot At Richard’s Unassailable Claim!”?

    Not true. I fully accept my burden of proof to my claim that Allah, Yahweh, and Zeus do not exist. But I do not know if there may be some sort of god I know nothing about, so I cannot rationally claim there is no god of any kind. You know this, so you, in your desperate attempt to justify your unjustifiable dogmas, try to force me to claim something that cannot be known. Your rhetoric is quite perverse.

    So here’s my semantic on “atheist”.

    Theos is an affirmative word and Atheos is the negative form of that word. It is “God” and “No God”. It follows the simple rule of grammatical negation. That is an actual, extant logical convention of creating the negative absolute equivalent of the original – in this case easily achieved by adding an “alpha”. I’m not sure how I can make that any more clear to you, Richard.

    Your method is invalid. You cannot force a word to have a specific meaning based only on etymology. I wish there were a way I could help you stand under this. But you don’t seem interested in truth at all, but rather in the justification of religious dogmas you have inherited from primitive humans.

    You really need to educate yourself about this topic. Your “semantics” is terribly embarrassing and utterly irrelevant. Serious thinkers INVENT definitions in their effort to clarify the discussion. Etymologically, nontheist and atheist are identical. The one uses the Latin negative prefix and the other the Greek. To suggest that this implies an objective difference in meaming is utterly absurd. And it contradicts the obvious fact that there is no consensus about the relation between those terms! Look it up. Here is as sample of what you will find when searching Google for “atheist definition” (in order of appearance):

    1: a person who disbelieves or lacks belief in the existence of God or gods.

    2: Atheism is usually defined incorrectly as a belief system. Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods.

    3: There are two in-use definitions of the word ‘atheist': 1.) A person who lacks belief in a god or gods. People who use this definition categorize atheists as either negative (or implicit or weak) atheists or positive (or explicit or strong) atheists. Negative atheists, while they don’t believe in a god, do not positively assert that no gods exist. Positive atheists, however, do. 2.) A person who believes that no god or gods exist.

    There is no excuse for your ignorance and obstinance on this issue.

    Richard

  38. William
    Posted December 22, 2015 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    Greetings Richard,

    Please actually read:
    I obviously challenge your definition of “atheist” within “your stated position” which is, in fact, a premise upon which an important conclusion is built. The importance of this challenge stems in the fact that if you accept the historical and etymological definition of “atheist”, you have a burden of proof that you adamantly deny you bear and obviously cannot provide. Instead of answering the challenge, you consistently deflect by insisting I’m ignoring what you are.

    My obvious counter is that I’m still trying to figure out what exactly you are because your descriptors are categorically incorrect or imprecise, to be kind. The description of “agnostic atheist” is a contradiction of terms. It’s absolute logical nonsense and is a product of someone with a feeble and fumbling understanding of rhetoric. If I had to guess, you’re probably best described as a homeless agnostic, neither confirming or denying anything pertaining to theism. As this is the theistic equivalent of “undefined”, I’d probably have to cry off. But again, you reject a term that is beginning to appear to wholly encompass your theology despite your best rants. Like you cried “catholic!”, I am now crying “agnostic”. But you insist there’s some material distinction (and you now have now admitted to being partially anti-theist), thus we continue.

    Back to the straw-man; let me give you a crash-course on the basics of evaluating an argument. First, you make sure the terms and operators (read: the premises) soundly, correctly function to support the conclusion (there are actually rules that govern this. Logic does have a “manual”). Then you evaluate the truth value of the premises. This is where I am at. A term you use has a contestable truth value.

    Thus your cited “textbook” straw-man you heavily depend on is apparently sourced from a text written by someone who knew nothing about truth tests, or even the rudimentary execution of arguments. Or even straw-men. This “textbook” you use is thus more valuable for providing heat or toilet paper because it doesn’t actually teach how to distinguish fallacies.

    So, again, you may put your poor, tired old straw-man back wherever you keep him. That poor guy puts in the miles for you!

    And you are SPOT ON about Voltaire! He understood intimately the absolutely critical part of a debate where the terms are agreed upon. That’s what we’re talking about! So, then, where we differ is that I cite reasoned etymological, historical definitions and you resort simultaneously to empty denials and equivocal, hazy “change over time” appeals to convention that so swiftly pegged-out my Bullshit-Meter that it may have broken. As “convention” is a rhetorical prop-word for “relativism”, you have no authoritative base on which to set your semantic. The best you had relative to the forwarded argument was the counter-claim that Greek negation results in “without”, not “no”. The first issue I see with using “without” is that it begs a question of “What is without” and also claims the affirmative “Theos” correctly means “with god” – which is not a noun. It is a prepositional phrase. So I challenge your obviously self-serving selection as an imperfect negation created by someone apparently new to the subject. But welcome to semantics, Richard!

    In other words, to my logic-based claim you retorted with empty bullshit and an inherently flawed counter challenge to the proper negation of “Atheos”. Good start, but not nearly good enough.

    Next, I’ll quote: “Religiously ignore?” I knew it! You are equating your mindless obedience to your cult’s dogmas with my rational skepticism. I knew it wouldn’t take long for you to reveal your fundamentalist mindset.”

    Ladies and gentlemen, please allow me to introduce you to an authentic Red Herring! You “religiously ignore” because you do so with some insistence based on something other than rational logic. Thus it’s religious. How that makes me a fundamentalist, for whom am I a fundamentalist and why that’s relevant to the discussion is something you fail to provide. Thus, red herring alert.

    And if you failed to perceive, I’m not defending the claim that my brand of Christianity is correct. I’m attacking – with some success based on your tone – that your claims that (1. Yahweh doesn’t exist and (2. non-theistic “love” morality is valid – all affirmative claims you have made although, admittedly, the primary advocate as been Michael for the second one. Although you are his primary source material.

    My methods are perfectly valid, Richard. In fact, logical rhetoric is the benchmark is testing qualified ideas just like hypothesis testing is the benchmark for testing quantified ideas. If you have difficulty using them, then you’ll readily be the victim of those who do not as their methods will always be categorically superior.

    They are not normative. They are not “continually evolving”. Their methodologies are not subject to opinion or anything else you wish to posit. Sure, they can be manipulated and incorrectly administered. But you are then obligated to use those methods to prove that’s happened. Or, as I’ve ceaselessly repeated, you do not have a valid claim. That doesn’t mean you’re necessarily wrong. It just means you can’t present it.

    I eagerly await your next tiring accusation of “straw-man”, but I’ll be awhile. The Advent season for this irrational Christian effectively begins tomorrow and I have a plethora of family functions planned for the next several days in celebration of the stolen birth date of our murdering baby-gawd.

    If this thread is deleted by the time I’m available, I won’t be surprised. If so, I with you Happy Holidays. I’ve sincerely enjoyed it. I don’t mean that passive-aggressively. I really have.

    I wish you the best.

  39. Posted December 22, 2015 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

    I obviously challenge your definition of “atheist” within “your stated position” which is, in fact, a premise upon which an important conclusion is built. The importance of this challenge stems in the fact that if you accept the historical and etymological definition of “atheist”, you have a burden of proof that you adamantly deny you bear and obviously cannot provide. Instead of answering the challenge, you consistently deflect by insisting I’m ignoring what you are.

    According to your definition, I am not an atheist so your obsession with that word is absurd. If you don’t agree with my use of that term, we don’t have to use it in our discussion. It plays no role but as a mere descriptor – a label – of the position I defined as a lack of belief in any god. I explicitly deny being an atheist according to your definition. The fact that you ignore my position and choose rather to quibble over labels makes this conversation exceedingly tedious and unfruitful. I get the impression that you have no idea how to address the actual substance of my arguments. This has been confirmed by your diversionary bloviated posts that are carefully crafted to avoid dealing with anything I’ve actually written. The examples are legion. Everyone reading this thread can see that you totally ignored the dictionary definitions that agree with my use of atheist. In a similar vein, everyone can see that you dismissed my article about the Art of Rationalization without interacting in any way at all with my argument or the evidence supporting it. Look at the mindless crap you wrote:

    The Art of Rationalization applies to you as well, Richard. You could subtitle it “A collection of ad hominem fallacies to make you feel better when people do a good job of disagreeing with you”. It’s extremely self-serving.

    Did you present any evidence of ad hominem? No. Did you address any of the facts I presented? No. Did you even read the article? Apparently not, since you said it “applies to you as well, Richard” which no rational person would have said if they read my concluding paragraph where I made a big point of saying that it applies to me! Here is what I said. Note the words in bold:

    This topic is of keen interest to me because I was a fundamentalist Christian for about 15 years. I explain the cognitive dissonance that drove me out of the faith in my article called Why I Quit Christianity. I have left a very long trail spanning more than a decade on this site and many posts in other forums defending my work on the Bible Wheel. My next project is to apply the insights I gained by writing this article to myself. Most arguments raised against my work claimed that the Bible Wheel had no objective validity and that all my evidence was nothing but the product of cognitive biases like cherry picking, confirmation bias, pareidolia, and so forth. So now I will review those arguments and put my old responses to them through the same fire I have used to test Rich Deem’s arguments. It should prove enlightening.

    And to top it off, you concluded that post with the ludicrous claim that you think you have “addressed most of [my] objections” when in fact you have written little but empty rhetoric and wrangling over words. Nothing could be more absurd.

    My obvious counter is that I’m still trying to figure out what exactly you are because your descriptors are categorically incorrect or imprecise, to be kind. The description of “agnostic atheist” is a contradiction of terms. It’s absolute logical nonsense and is a product of someone with a feeble and fumbling understanding of rhetoric.

    Well then you better get over to the wiki article called Agnostic Atheism and show the world how everyone but you has a “a feeble and fumbling understanding of rhetoric.”

    But first, maybe you should take a minute to correct the Oxford Dictionary which defines an atheist as “A person who disbelieves or lacks belief in the existence of God or gods.”

    There is no excuse for your incorrigible ignorance on this topic. You write as if you think yourself some kind of expert when infact you are demonstrably ignorant of the most basic and central issues under debate. And then there’s the “smell” of your satanic arrogance …

    The term “agnostic atheist” has been in use since at least 1894. Here is a quote from the Croall Lecture of 1887–1888 given Scottish theologian and philosopher Robert Flint DD LLD:

    The atheist may however be, and not unfrequently is, an agnostic. There is an agnostic atheism or atheistic agnosticism, and the combination of atheism with agnosticism which may be so named is not an uncommon one.

    If a man has failed to find any good reason for believing that there is a God, it is perfectly natural and rational that he should not believe that there is a God; and if so, he is an atheist… if he goes farther, and, after an investigation into the nature and reach of human knowledge, ending in the conclusion that the existence of God is incapable of proof, cease to believe in it on the ground that he cannot know it to be true, he is an agnostic and also an atheist – an agnostic-atheist – an atheist because an agnostic… while, then, it is erroneous to identify agnosticism and atheism, it is equally erroneous so to separate them as if the one were exclusive of the other…

    The good professor used exactly the same definition of atheist, agnostic, and agnostic atheist as I do. And that’s from the 19th century.

    Of course, none of this really matters because you are just wrangling over words to no purpose other than your strawman. My position remains the same no matter what label we agree to you put on it. This is the most elementary knowledge familiar to all educated people: “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” – William Shakespeare.

    If I had to guess, you’re probably best described as a homeless agnostic, neither confirming or denying anything pertaining to theism. As this is the theistic equivalent of “undefined”, I’d probably have to cry off. But again, you reject a term that is beginning to appear to wholly encompass your theology despite your best rants. Like you cried “catholic!”, I am now crying “agnostic”. But you insist there’s some material distinction (and you now have now admitted to being partially anti-theist), thus we continue.

    You are a real stinking asshole William! A perfect specimen of what a religion that preaches “salvation through blind belief in dogma” tends to produce. And I mean that most sincerely. I do not have an “anti-catholic bias.” I asked you to justify your words by quoting something I wrote and you refused. You have never quoted a single word I’ve written that could be described as showing an “anti-catholic bias.” I reviewed the thread. Here’s what happened: You were trying to justify faith in an ecclesiastical system like Catholicism or Greek Orthodox. Here is what you wrote and my response:

    But I offer this as a counter – if one’s interpretation of the faith didn’t exist in the 5th century (where it was unambiguously hierarchical), how on earth could they claim to be part of the church? I guess the church died not long after conception and their Manifest Destiny, American Protestant Individualistic Hyper-Confidence Complex brought it back? Forgive me for rolling my eyes =)

    You reveal your bias when you take the fifth century as your standard, since that is when the Catholic Church could be said to have been established historically with its creeds and all. Before then, the religion was still being invented with major controversies around the fundamentals, e.g. Arianism, Marcianism, and a host of other beliefs that were later deemed “heretical.”

    And how did you respond to my rational argument that the institutional faith of the fifth century was not clearly established earlier? You totally ignored the facts I presented and mindlessly spat out false accusations of an “anti-catholic bias.” And you’ve been repeating that perverse lie ever sense.

    It is truly absurd that you could think I have an anti-Catholic bias. Look at my site! I freely used many icons from the Catholic and Orthodox traditions throughout my work. And for that I caught a lot of flack from some of the Protestant fundamentalist who actually do have an anti-Catholic bias.

    And if you failed to perceive, I’m not defending the claim that my brand of Christianity is correct. I’m attacking – with some success based on your tone – that your claims that (1. Yahweh doesn’t exist and (2. non-theistic “love” morality is valid – all affirmative claims you have made although, admittedly, the primary advocate as been Michael for the second one. Although you are his primary source material.

    Your words are delusional. You have not touched my claim that Yahweh does not exist. You have not touched my argument about Love as the root of morality. But I think I can see the cause of your delusion. You seem to think that your subjective sense of your opponent’s “tone” is some kind of indication of the success of your argument. So all you need to do is spew out an endless stream of unfounded false accusations, deliberate repeated lies, gross misrepresentations and misdirections, and when your interlocutor raises his voice in an effort break through the noise of the windmills in your mind, you smile and conclude that you have won the argument. That’s genius. Pure genius.

    If this thread is deleted by the time I’m available, I won’t be surprised. If so, I with you Happy Holidays. I’ve sincerely enjoyed it. I don’t mean that passive-aggressively. I really have.

    Deleted? Ha! You wish! This thread is a perfect example of how Christians attempt to defend their delusions with raving irrational rhetoric. It’s a very rich source of typical theist brain turds that I’ll probably use as the basis for a number of future articles. And for that, I say “thanks.” It has been quite tedious and seemingly unfruitful, but I think I will be able to produce a lot of non-theist fruit from our little exchange.

    I wish you the best.

    Sure you do. That’s obvious from what you have written. You have an exemplary Christian heart. And I mean that quite literally.

  40. Posted December 22, 2015 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

    Without some supernatural claim of morality, animals and human beings are intimately comparable because humans are classified under the kingdom of animalia in their taxonomy. We are animals by definition. We are merely unique due to our intelligence and domination of the planet. But some species had to take the title. It just happened to be us. We’re not even to only species to engage in war.

    What does “supernatural claim of morality” even mean? Do you follow the ludicrous doctrine of Divine Command Theory? If not, what does God have to do with morality? Have you never heard of Euthyphro? Something is right because of the nature of the act and how it affects others. The idea of God adds nothing to the equation. Humans are animals regardless of which metaphysical presupposition (theism or atheism) you choose. A few sloppy pseudo-philosophical Christian apologists try to use morality to prove their god but their attempts are grossly irrational, as I’ve explained in these articles:

    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

    The Golden Rule and the Foundation of Objective Morality

    Verily, the imperfections of the human condition are present everywhere in our history. Atheist soviets killing theists, pagan Vikings raiding the northern European coast & British Isles, primitive homo-sapiens killing each other with sticks. The stain on the human condition transcends time culture and religion. And it is single handedly sufficient to kill your theory of the transcendent “atheist morality of love”.

    You obviously don’t have the first clue about the nature of morality. You cannot “kill” a valid theory. Morality is based in self-love, value is grounded in the self and then extended to others that are recognized as a self like unto one’s own self. You obviously have not read my theory. Your comments are simply stupid.

    Here it is again. Inform yourself, and then comment if you are able:

    The Logic of Love: A Natural Theory of Morality

    It is a religious idea of a behavioral utopia that is doomed to always exist only in the minds of those who believe in it. Human nature serves as an immovable object blocking the realization of such a nice idea. Your problem isn’t god. It’s you and me.

    What are you babbling about? No one is talking about a “behavioral utopia.” The foundation of morality is INTEGRITY. Can’t you read? I’ve explained it a million times and you have shown no understanding. Here again is my explanation of the foundation of morality, aka integrity:

    On Integrity as the Highest Value

    On your last post, the power of love doesn’t emphasize physical violence and it’s power to subdue like the morality of might.

    There is no “morality of might.” The power of self-love is the power of integrity which will always overcome the “power of might” which has no integrity. You will see if you only open your eyes. The problem seems to be that you have blinded yourself with the utterly irrational and immoral dogmas of your cult.

  41. Posted December 22, 2015 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

    William,

    You said:

    “The followers of your morality of love will be slave to the followers of the morality of might”. Not when the followers of the morality of love are the mighty ones. Time heals all wounds.

    That’s exactly correct Michael. The morality of love is the ultimate power. There is no “morality” to those who would try to ground it in “might.” This is William’s error. It’s very strange that a Christian would reject the morality taught by Christ, but such is the power of indoctrination and ideology.

  42. MichaelFree
    Posted December 23, 2015 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    Williams view of humanity is to debase humanity in order to exalt his God. He doesn’t think that human beings have a universal and natural morality. Human beings ascribe the word morality to that which is good and the word immorality to that which is bad. If you ask billions of people around the world today whether someone murdering them would be moral or immoral, the overwhelming vast majority will say that it is immoral, so it’s easy to find a moral path in life that is built on the Golden Rule. Our human nature told us this, not a book, and not a God. Murder of non-violent people is immoral. Williams God is a purported murderer of non-violent people and I think he is butthurt to have to contemplate such a thing. It must feel bad to know that Satan is a purported murderer, and to know that Yahweh and Jesus are also purported murderers.

    What’s also interesting is that Williams philosophy matches what I’ve read about Satanists philosophy, except for William supposedly believing that Jesus is his savior. He believes the Satanist lie that human animals’ morality are comparable to non-human animal behavior, without understanding that it is morality between human beings that we are talking about, leaving non-human animals out of it–non-human animals can’t be immoral, but human animals can choose to be immoral. If anyone thinks that non-human animals can be immoral then they should never take care of a pet, or work with non-human animals, or be entrusted with the welfare of non-human animals–because they are untrustworthy and don’t understand non-human animals or their place amongst the non-human animals. The kinds of people that think that non-human animals can be immoral are the kinds of people that beat non-human animals.

    I know what I’m talking about. No amount of pseudo-philosophical-dog-chasing-its-own-tail-gibberish can prove me wrong.

    My non-theistic love morality as William puts it is not based off of what Richard has said, I already believed and lived this way before I even came to this site. What Richard has helped show me though, of which I am grateful, is that Jesus the character in the Gospels is not good alone, but rather good and evil, and that I shouldn’t view the Gospels as separate from the rest of the Bible, but rather as part of the Bible and part of the same immorality of the Bible…evil Yahweh is Jesus, and that is the Jesus that most of Christianity sees.

  43. MichaelFree
    Posted December 23, 2015 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    Morality between human beings is not an apple, it doesn’t exist like an apple does when there are no human beings on Earth, neither does it exist when there is only one human being on Earth, but only when there are two or more human beings on Earth does it exist.

    Read Williams drivel about “social conditioning”.

    Morality between human beings is social conditioning. There is no such thing as social conditioning until there are two or more human beings on Earth.

    Our social conditioning as a species is a path towards peace, it’s in our DNA, we are more moral than immoral beings. Even when we are at war, the goal is always peace. William begs to differ. He thinks the “creator” is evil and has created an evil species, instead of the “creator” being good and having created a good species. His ideology requires sky daddy as a savior instead of practicing righteousness, integrity, and honor. He believes he has a pass to sin as long as he worships sky daddy. He doesn’t worship righteousness, but they call their God love and truth, and it’s the biggest lie ever foisted on humanity.

  44. MichaelFree
    Posted December 24, 2015 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

    William,

    I could pick apart your bullshit left and right but it’s too tedious:

    William said:

    “Your claim to hypocrisy is untenable. As the human nature requires the existence of law and law enforcement to protect itself, the hypocrisy of a cop killing an active shooter is necessary to minimize rogue egoists. I wish it weren’t so, but it is.
    I’m sure you’ll counter that such is a “just killing”, but that was, is and forever will be a subjective call.”

    You’re full of shit William. Here your human nature, not your God, tells you to side with minimizing rogue egoists.

    The law “do not murder” doesn’t require a discussion about hypocrisy or the Golden Rule, because if one approaches the law any other way than “do not murder” then so-called philosophers like yourself with questionable motives may try to take down a straw man, in this case, not being a hypocrite or the Golden Rule, without addressing the law “do not murder”. You can’t take down the law though, that’s for sure, which is the number one reason why I can never be a “Christian”.

    It is not murder to stop a murder from occurring even if that takes killing the perpetrator in the process, as the lawman’s purpose is to “do not murder” whereas the murderers purpose is to murder.

    Do you want to be murdered William? How many human beings do you come across in life that want to be murdered? Now sure someone might want to be killed, and so they’ll follow the Golden Rule and won’t be a hypocrite and will go out and murder someone else hoping to get killed themselves because of it, which is why the Golden Rule is not the law, and neither is not being a hypocrite the law, the law is “do not murder”. If I want to die, and I’m sure of it, my only choice is to kill myself, not having another person do it for me, but making sure that anyone under my care is continued to be cared for after I die.

    If you don’t believe the law exists then let’s ask billions of people whether or not murdering them would be moral or immoral. What do you think the results of the poll would be? 99% of people don’t want to be murdered? If that’s not objective I don’t know what is (remember objective morality between human beings requires two or more human beings to exist, and our collective opinion as a species establishes natural law by way of objective morality). The Golden Rule and not being a hypocrite is good and evil just like your God. The Golden Rule and not being a hypocrite is a doorway which the RIGHTEOUS can use to reveal the law, which is only good, not good and evil. “Do not murder” is and forever will be an objective call.

    Here William says I hate God (as if his God is God):

    “You claim to hate God based on a universal morality and it’s genuinely interesting to me. Where can I find this universally acceptable morality outside of religion?”

    Number one, I don’t hate God, I hate your God, and number two, your religion is not universally accepted and thus the immorality of your religion is not universally accepted.

    Where can I find universally acceptable morality inside of religion, that’s the truthful question, while your question is a fraud, the biggest of lies, just like your claim that I hate God.

    More objective morality: show all non-Christians in the world a film showing the Gospel story and how Jesus was murdered. After showing them the film, ask them, was Jesus guilty and deserved to be murdered, or not guilty and didn’t deserve to be murdered. Some number in the high 90’s percentile would say that he was innocent! Jesus didn’t have to pray for those that thought he was innocent, he had to pray for those that thought he was guilty. And if you think his mere hours on the cross was torturous imagine what your purported God has planned for us innocent non-Christians, innocent non-Christians who proclaim Jesus’ innocence! Haha, what a mindfuck your religion is, it is truly torturous to the mind and Spirit.

  45. MichaelFree
    Posted December 28, 2015 at 3:01 am | Permalink

    I said:

    “remember objective morality between human beings requires two or more human beings to exist, and our collective opinion as a species establishes natural law by way of objective morality”

    Just to clarify:

    If the collective opinion of the vast majority of humanity, say ninety-five percent of us, says that homosexuality is wrong and unnatural and should be outlawed and punished, and five percent say homosexuality is right and natural and should be lawful and that people who have a problem with it should mind their own business, does the “collective opinion” of humanity establish natural law? The answer is no. There are two sexualities in the world, heterosexuality and homosexuality, but there is only one “do not murder”. Homosexuality is right and natural. People do not get to establish their human-made customs and traditions as natural law, no matter how many people’s opinion agrees with it.

    There is only one:

    Do not physically assault other people.
    Do not rape other people.
    Do not murder other people.
    Do not torture other people.
    Do not enslave other people.
    Do not steal things that belong to other people.
    Do not lie to other people.

  46. William
    Posted January 7, 2016 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    Greetings Richard/Michael/Anyone Else!

    Happy new year and I hope the holiday season was great for everyone!

    I’m delighted that you’ve not opted to delete! Thanks Richard =)

    I shall resume by verifying that I am a Christian with the long-enduring understanding that I cannot meet the burden of proof of my claim without non-rational posits like “faith”. If any of you have responded under a different assumption, it’s due to the preconceived notions you brought with you. “Faith” is a vital, non-rational requirement for the Christian religion and I don’t shy away from that fact.

    Ok, with that out of the way, I’ll try to respond to Richard’s latest counters as he presents them-

    My obsession with “terms” and “labels” stems from the fact that they are fundamental in creating and defining the ideas we present. If one has difficulty defining reasonably precise terms and syllogisms to accurately describe and defend their belief, then the belief cannot be recreated, accurately understood and evaluated by outside parties independently of the author. As this process is necessary for determining the rationality any claim, it is essential to Richard’s claim of superior rationality that this process be possible. Apropos – my focus on terminology and form is relevant even if Richard doesn’t see it.

    The fundamental problem with identifying as an “agnostic atheist” is that it makes no material claim that is any different from that made by the classical definition of “agnostic”. It posits belief in no God, but then immediately concedes that there may be a god that is unknown. Aside from the obvious etymological train-wreck that the term itself represents, it cites the exact ambiguity already espoused by “agnosticism”.

    Why is this relevant?

    Because if either of the terms claim that there may be an unknown god, then HOW ON EARTH can one positively assert that the Christian God is not extant if they espouse either of these labels? It’s a titanic failure of logic to say “There may be a God I don’t know about, but it’s not Yahweh” and then assume that such a statement does not create a burden of proof (that Richard furiously denies he has). This failure of logic is one that is, strangely, very intimately espoused by Richard in his self-professed desire for rationality. Furthermore, his inability to see this colossal inconsistency in a fundamentally defining aspect of his current life provides substantial support for the idea that his views may be as irrational as those belonging to the “irrational” Christians he mocks. True, Christians can’t prove Yahweh exists. But Richard’s views profess that he can’t prove Yahweh doesn’t exist – if he actually adheres to those views. His consistent, thematic attacks on various tenants of the Christian faith are unquestionably inconsistent with even the contemporary definition of “agnostic atheist” because that label does not posit that Yahweh isn’t real. It posits that He’s simply “unknown” at the very best. Such obviously atheistic, or even anti-theistic, behavior is proof-positive that Richard espousing the troubled label of “agnostic atheist” is like watching a man trying to wear a shirt that doesn’t fit his body. It allows for critique, but not attack as it cannot be certain it’s correct by definition.

    Next, on The Art of Rationalization – yes. I certainly did read it. It struck me as a work that provides emotional support under the guise of faux-intellectualism to self-professed non-theistic rationalists who wish to reinforce their views with a treatment that assumes the falsehood of arguments provided by their “opposition” that they have actually yet to prove as false. Which logical fallacy best represents this quasi-academic work? False Dilemma? Hasty Generalization? Begging the Question? There’re all arguably there, but I went with Ad Hominem because it’s the easiest to convey. Allow me:

    Ad Hominem Fallacy: “Attacking your opponent’s character or personal traits in an attempt to undermine their argument.”

    Richard: [Rich Deem] is the perfect storm of cognitive dissonance: bound as a scientist by the laws of logic and facts while simultaneously committed to the fundamentally irrational belief that the Bible is (or at least was in the originals) the “inerrant Word of God.”

    Clear as day- Richard labels the man a “perfect storm of cognitive dissonance” which is obviously an attack on a personal trait. Furthermore, the entire follow-up is based on the liberal application of a completely incorrect definition of “cognitive dissonance”. Rather than sourcing Wikipedia (Which is not recognized as an acceptable source of scholarly information by ANY credible academic institution) I recommend using a source a bit more peer-reviewed. And as much as I disagree with Rich Deem’s view on scripture, he doesn’t seem the least bit emotionally disturbed by his approach to the scientific world. As the emotional disturbance due to conflicting ideas is what quintessentially defines the term, he doesn’t seem to be cognitively dissonant at all – exactly opposite from the “perfect storm” you label him.
    Perhaps Richard was writing “The Art of Rationalization” to subliminally express his reversal from Protestantism?

    I’ve already covered Richards counter about “agnostic atheism” above, but I do want to point out that I laughed a little when I was described as smelling of “satanic arrogance” by a man that professes “agnostic atheism”. If carefully worded rhetoric troubles Richard, then I think he’s may be in the wrong game as a self-professed rationalist. And I don’t claim to be able to prove Yahweh exists! I merely assert that he can quite possibly be the “unknown god” that your beliefs insist COULD exist, and is merely unproven to you personally.

    I would like to take a moment to dismiss Richards claim that love is an acceptable root for non-religious morality. First off, “love” is an abstract social-science convention that is just as non-rational and unprovable as the existence of god. I COULD stop there, but I’ll indulge the idea further because it’s flaws are so apparent.

    First, love is “an intense feeling of deep affection”, from Oxford. As such, deep affection is defined by who it INCLUDES just as much as it is defined by who it EXCLUDES. To say that you have some sort of “deep affection” for all of humanity means that you have no “deep affection” for anyone in particular. This is argued quite strongly in “The Social Conquest of Earth” by Edward Wilson. Our fundamental social units have been “clans” since time immemorial.

    We continue that clan behavior to the present day with clubs, religious organizations and other defined social groups because we have always wanted to belong to a collection of other people with shared attributes. And, unfortunately, these groups are defined just as much by the excluded as it is the included. US! And THEM! Cavemen (us) were driving other cavemen (them) out of the Villanovan valleys, Egyptians (us) were driving Hittites (them) out of the Levant and then the Japanese (us) were driving the Chinese (them) out of Manchuria. Always us versus them. We always shared tremendous love for the rest of us, at contempt for all of them.

    Even in this modern age of rationalism and politically correct peace, we still simulate war where young men armor-up to go combat each other while being cheered on by young, nubile women (with pom-poms) from both sides – each side demanding victory for US and shame for THEM. It’s called college football season! And it is a gentle reminder that we are defined by both our beloved clan-mates and our much loathed rivals.

    There has never been a shared, universal love in any species that has ever been proven to exist and the notion that such a thing exists is a non-rational posit that is virtually IDENTICAL to those Richard blasts Christians for sharing.

    To be clear, universal moral love like self-love is unprovable and non-rational, just like the existence of God.

    Some attempt to wiggle out of this trap by forwarding the idea that “The Golden Rule” is somehow sufficient in it’s own right to be a basis for secular morality. The obvious problem for the golden rule is that it is endlessly subject to the biases and norms of the people invoking it. Take an 19th century British noble, for example:

    “If I were an uneducated, lowly savage, I would want some wise, enlightened people to rule over me and raise me up! Thus, me must colonize these poor savages and lift them up to be proper, enlightened subjects of the realm just like us!” Thus the golden rule justifies racial colonization and subjugation.

    Another problem with the golden rule as a sole source for morality is that it lacks a tie-breaker for competing moral views. For example:

    A patient is in a coma and is on life support. Doctor “A” would never want to go on as a “vegetable”, so the plug must be pulled on the patient! However, Doctor “B” would want life support to go on indefinitely in case they awoke!

    So what’s the tie-breaker? Do we pull the plug or not? The golden rule, by itself, doesn’t tell you.

    Another – I’m broke, my child is starving and the man next door is selling bread. I don’t want my child to starve, but I don’t want to be stolen from either. So what do I do? The golden rule doesn’t tell me.

    The fundamental reason that religious moral codes are superior to secular moral notions is the provided carrot (reward) and stick (punishment). If God exists and I behave in a moral manner, I’ll be rewarded with paradise. If God exists and I behave selfishly, I’ll suffer some sort of punishment that I cannot escape.

    Secular morality rewards me with a false-promise of a less-dangerous world as the carrot. As for the stick? It has none. It provides no punishment that I cannot escape if I “break the rules”. And if I behave because I’m afraid of jail or fines, then secular morality is merely Right of Might dressed in a T-shirt that says “love”. Thus it is, and will always be, an inferior moral basis to religious morality.

    As a final comment on the morality of might – it is simply what exists on this planet before you lay some non-rational posit over it like “love”, a customized definition of “integrity”, the golden rule or even “God”. Natural selection shows us that it is nature’s “default” morality. The only reason we assemble in clans is to concentrate that might so we may wield it as we wish. It is as religious beings that we may transcend that if transcendence is even possible (as it is, also, a non-rational posit).

    I very eagerly await Richard’s reply! Michael, I apologize for not replying directly, but I felt most of the issues you raise are addressed in my exchange with Richard.

    Oh, and how on EARTH am I a fundamentalist, Richard? Are there any bible-beating protestants you know that advocate the episcopate over scripture? I don’t know any…

  47. Posted January 7, 2016 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

    Greetings Richard/Michael/Anyone Else!

    Happy new year and I hope the holiday season was great for everyone!

    I’m delighted that you’ve not opted to delete! Thanks Richard =)

    Hey there William,

    Happy New Year to you too. I am glad you responded.

    The fundamental problem with identifying as an “agnostic atheist” is that it makes no material claim that is any different from that made by the classical definition of “agnostic”. It posits belief in no God, but then immediately concedes that there may be a god that is unknown. Aside from the obvious etymological train-wreck that the term itself represents, it cites the exact ambiguity already espoused by “agnosticism”.

    Why are you repeating the same errors that I have exposed and explained? Your assertions about “agnostic atheism” are simply false. The term has been in use for over a hundred years. I explained your error with many citations, including the Oxford Dictionary, and you ignored them all. To repeat: Your confusion is based on your insistence that atheism must be defined as a “belief” that there is no God. That is not correct. Theism is defined as belief in god(s). The negative prefix means “without” or “lacking” so “a-theist” literally means “without a belief in god(s).” This is the definition found in the Oxford Dictionary which you obstinately ignore. Likewise, gnosis means knowledge, so agnostic means “without knowledge.” There is no conflict between the terms because the one refers to a lack of belief in any gods while the other refers to a lack of knowledge about the possibility of some god. I lack both. The “etymological trainwreck” is all in your own mind, and I mean that quite literally.

    Why is this relevant?

    Because if either of the terms claim that there may be an unknown god, then HOW ON EARTH can one positively assert that the Christian God is not extant if they espouse either of these labels? It’s a titanic failure of logic to say “There may be a God I don’t know about, but it’s not Yahweh” and then assume that such a statement does not create a burden of proof (that Richard furiously denies he has).

    Have you lost your mind? I have NEVER denied that I bear a burden of proof when I claim that Allah, Yahweh, and Zeus do not exist. There is no excuse for your fast and furious fabrications. I have explicitly (and repeatedly) explained that I am not agnostic about the existence of Yahweh, Allah, or Zeus. On December 20 I wrote this:

    I do make claims about the existence of specific gods that have attributes that contradict logic and/or facts, such as Yahweh and Allah. I reject those gods because they are said to be wise and just in the same text that presents them as irrational, ignorant, and unjust.”

    And how did you respond? By merely repeating your absurd assertions. So I repeated my explanation on December 22, saying:

    My defined position is that I don’t have a belief in any gods. I can justify my rejection of all gods invented by humans such as Allah, Yahweh, or Zeus. All you are doing is trying to force me into the unjustifiable position of claiming there are no gods of any kind. That is impossible because there could be some sort of god I know nothing about.

    And in the same post, I repeated my explanation yet again:

    I fully accept my burden of proof to my claim that Allah, Yahweh, and Zeus do not exist. But I do not know if there may be some sort of god I know nothing about, so I cannot rationally claim there is no god of any kind. You know this, so you, in your desperate attempt to justify your unjustifiable dogmas, try to force me to claim something that cannot be known. Your rhetoric is quite perverse.

    Your tactics are transparent. You are trying to force me to claim I know things that I know I do not know. Nothing could be more absurd, pathetic, or perverse. You are trying to drag me down to your level of unjustified irrational belief.

    This failure of logic is one that is, strangely, very intimately espoused by Richard in his self-professed desire for rationality. Furthermore, his inability to see this colossal inconsistency in a fundamentally defining aspect of his current life provides substantial support for the idea that his views may be as irrational as those belonging to the “irrational” Christians he mocks. True, Christians can’t prove Yahweh exists. But Richard’s views profess that he can’t prove Yahweh doesn’t exist – if he actually adheres to those views.

    Again, your assertions are literally insane. I have never said I can’t prove Yahweh doesn’t exist. On the contrary, I have repeatedly stated the opposite. It is impossible for Yahweh to exist because the actions attributed to him in the Bible contradict the properties attributed to him in the Bible. And the properties attributed to him contradict reality, such as the assertion that he is “trustworthy” (when in fact not one person can actually trust him to do anything in any situation).

    His consistent, thematic attacks on various tenants of the Christian faith are unquestionably inconsistent with even the contemporary definition of “agnostic atheist” because that label does not posit that Yahweh isn’t real. It posits that He’s simply “unknown” at the very best.

    Your words are rubbish. I am not agnostic about Yahweh. I’ve told you this many times. There is no excuse for your obstinate ignorance.

    Such obviously atheistic, or even anti-theistic, behavior is proof-positive that Richard espousing the troubled label of “agnostic atheist” is like watching a man trying to wear a shirt that doesn’t fit his body. It allows for critique, but not attack as it cannot be certain it’s correct by definition.

    And again, your words are utter rubbish. It is not “anti-theistic” for a Muslim to reject Yahweh in favor of Allah! I’ve already explained this point on December 21 when you falsely accused me of being “anti-theist” because I wrote an article about God not being trustworthy. Here is what I said:

    My article was aimed specifically at the idea that God is not trustworthy. I did not write a word about the impossibility of some sort of God who doesn’t promise to do things that he doesn’t do. It was not “anti-theist” at all. It was anti-Yahweh.

    How many times have I had to repeat the same explanation to you? You really seem to have a severe reading disorder.

    I’ll answer the rest in another post. It is best to keep these short so each point can be answered.

  48. Posted January 7, 2016 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

    Next, on The Art of Rationalization – yes. I certainly did read it. It struck me as a work that provides emotional support under the guise of faux-intellectualism to self-professed non-theistic rationalists who wish to reinforce their views with a treatment that assumes the falsehood of arguments provided by their “opposition” that they have actually yet to prove as false. Which logical fallacy best represents this quasi-academic work? False Dilemma? Hasty Generalization? Begging the Question? There’re all arguably there, but I went with Ad Hominem because it’s the easiest to convey. Allow me:

    Ad Hominem Fallacy: “Attacking your opponent’s character or personal traits in an attempt to undermine their argument.”

    Richard: [Rich Deem] is the perfect storm of cognitive dissonance: bound as a scientist by the laws of logic and facts while simultaneously committed to the fundamentally irrational belief that the Bible is (or at least was in the originals) the “inerrant Word of God.”

    Clear as day- Richard labels the man a “perfect storm of cognitive dissonance” which is obviously an attack on a personal trait.

    What a load of empty blather! All you do is spew out labels as if they were arguments. Pathetic.

    And worse, you don’t even understand the concept of an ad hominem fallacy. It is not an “ad hominem fallacy” to describe a person’s position. Rich Deem is indeed a biologist and a Bible believer. Whether that constitutes a “perfect storm of cognitive dissonance” depends entirely on the validity of my argument that followed. It is not an “ad hominem fallacy” to state the conclusion of the argument I am about to present. It is only an ad hominem fallacy if I attempt to refute an argument by attacking the person presenting it. For example, it would be ad hominem if I said that Rich Deem was wrong merely because he’s a Christian. That would be a fallacy. It would not be an ad hominem to merely describe him as a Christian, or to note that his belief in an inerrant Bible causes dissonance with science (since that is a fact I demonstrated in that very article).

    The really pathetic thing about your response is that it was nothing but the spewing of empty labels. You cannot justify any of your assertions. There was no False Dilemma. No Hasty Generalization. No Begging the Question. I hope you try to justify your accusations. It should prove very enlightening (and entertaining).

    Furthermore, the entire follow-up is based on the liberal application of a completely incorrect definition of “cognitive dissonance”. Rather than sourcing Wikipedia (Which is not recognized as an acceptable source of scholarly information by ANY credible academic institution) I recommend using a source a bit more peer-reviewed.

    What are you babbling about? Merely asserting that I used a “completely incorrect definition” is meaningless if you don’t supply the “correct” definition. I cited the original work of the scientist who coined the term “cognitive dissonance.” I used his definition. And the wiki gives a link to his original article, so it is a valid source. Your assertions are pathetically absurd.

    And as much as I disagree with Rich Deem’s view on scripture, he doesn’t seem the least bit emotionally disturbed by his approach to the scientific world. As the emotional disturbance due to conflicting ideas is what quintessentially defines the term, he doesn’t seem to be cognitively dissonant at all – exactly opposite from the “perfect storm” you label him.

    Exactly how did you determine his emotional state? Are you some sort of psychic psychologist?

    It seems clear that you didn’t read the article with any understanding. The fact that Rich Deem had to disintegrate the integrity of science, the Bible, and his own mind is objective evidence that he was trying to resolve the dissonance between science and his beliefs.

    Perhaps Richard was writing “The Art of Rationalization” to subliminally express his reversal from Protestantism?

    More psychic psychology?

    And I don’t claim to be able to prove Yahweh exists! I merely assert that he can quite possibly be the “unknown god” that your beliefs insist COULD exist, and is merely unproven to you personally.

    Your assertion is absurd because Yahweh is defined in the Bible, so he cannot be the “unknown god” I’m talking about. You really should take a class in logic, yo.

  49. MichaelFree
    Posted January 9, 2016 at 3:50 am | Permalink

    The Golden Rule, “not being a hypocrite”, and love, are all good and evil. They are all doors, vines, trees of knowledge of good and evil, with branches that are good and evil. The righteous branch, the tree of life, the good branch, the good seed, is born of truth, the love of truth.

  50. MichaelFree
    Posted January 16, 2016 at 2:07 am | Permalink

    Put a lighter’s flame to your skin and then times that pain by infinity and then times that by an eternity in time, and there you find the God of Christianity. He does the most immoral thing to simple non-Christians. His deed is worse than any human being can even imagine of doing to another human being.

    I think that when one is going to worship a God they should worship a God that is more moral than any human being could ever hope to be. God is also very cool when God wants you to be treated the way that you want to be treated by other people in life.

  51. MichaelFree
    Posted February 12, 2016 at 1:35 am | Permalink

    A Christian comes to an agnostic persons door and asks them if they want to speak about God. The agnostic says “before you begin can we establish that Satan is a murderer from the beginning?”. And the Christian says “yes”. The Christian goes on to tell the agnostic all about God and finally the agnostic says to the Christian “what happens to non-Christians when they die?”, and the Christian says “their souls are to be tortured by God for eternity”. The agnostic says “torture is the process of murder, the painful part, and in this case, murder would be preferable to eternal torture, making eternal torture worse than murder”. The agnostic says to the Christian “depart Satan, for it is written: ‘You shall worship THE LORD your God, DO NOT MURDER, and him alone shall you serve“, and then shuts the door on the so-called Christian.

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