Monday, September 24, 2007

Tag, M.D.O.D. Contributors! Answers Please...

The rules:

1. Post these rules before you give your facts.
2. List 8 random facts about yourself.
3. At the end of your post, choose (tag) 8 people and list their names, linking to them.
4. Leave a comment on their blog, letting them know they've been tagged.

Eight Random Facts About Me (911doc)

1. When Simon and Garfunkle did their first big reunion I had friends who got me tickets. My parents forced me to go see Liberace instead on the same night. I have never forgiven them.
2. I love football but hate female sideline announcers. It seems that their rigorous qualifications must be simply that they be smokin' hot babes. As I think about it I can not think of one who played football with pads. Steve Spurrier must have seizures having to play nice with them.
3. Cookies and Cream
4. Quirky musical tastes include just about everything... love bluegrass, blues, western-swing, Zeppelin, classical, soft rock... hate techno and hard-core thrash-metal and most rap (but tha doggfather rules!).
5. Tried to avoid medicine because I was warned against it, but it's just in me. What can I say?
6. Mountains not beach.
7. Beer not wine.
8. It was the "War Between the States" not the "War of the Rebellion".

Tagged: ETOTHEIPI, 'Cat, DRX, Oldfart, Gruntdoc, Scalpel, Monkeygirl, Hallway Four, Addicted to Medblogs


  1. We almost named our first daughter Cecelia but then I noticed that my husband never consistently spelled it correctly (or even wrong the same way twice) so I decided against it.

    I love reading these! Didn't you tag me for something similar months ago?

  2. rad girl,
    i did. this is the only reason you are not tagged today.

  3. 1. I am not "boarded" but have boarded people in the past.
    2. I studied medicine in Russia but had to learn English to practice here.
    3. I have never been convicted of a crime in this country.
    4. Russian women... Well, let's just say I live here.
    5. Americans don't drink enough.
    6. The Uzbekis are scum.
    7. The only thing worse than an Uzbeki is a Harvard trained lawyer.
    8. Come to think of it, scratch number six and i'll stick with number seven.

  4. 1. I love/live to hunt
    2. Ilove March Madness
    3.I love big dogs and hate little bitty yappers!
    4. I wish I was a vet
    5. I wish I could make half as much $ doing anything else
    6.I collect firearms
    7. I'm a life member of the NRA
    8.It's the Republic of Texas! No other state was it's own sovereign nation..

    Tag: Rad girl(U can't escape)
    Shrodingers cat

  5. 1. I don't wear any jewelry. Not even a watch.
    2. I've never broken a bone
    3. I've never watched even a single minute of House or Scrubs
    4. I like the NBA better than college basketball
    5. I carry a handgun with me wherever it is legally permissible for me to do so.
    6. I rarely ever get sick, but I have a touch of a viral URI right now.
    7. I think George W. Bush was a better president than Bill Clinton, but neither was the worst president ever. Carter was.
    8. I hate memes, or at least the tagging other people part.

  6. I too have no use for sideline reporters, and worse more and more of them seem to be ugly. What is that all about?

  7. ten out of ten,
    great point. last night, titans v saints, the sideline commentator looked like a schnauzer. bring back the smokin' hot babes i guess.

  8. I hate the female sport reporters too, I do not know what it is, but I always groan when I see one, it is a toss up whether I would rather have a girl or lee corso though....

  9. agree re corso. he is the equivalent of a court jester and should wear a fool's hat at all times. that way it would be obvious why he's there. i'll take erin andrews (?) over corso and just turn down the volume.

  10. Did you know Dr. Jerry Punch is a former ER doc? Lucky bastard.

  11. ten out of ten,
    count me envious and incredulous and curious.

  12. "last night, titans v saints, the sideline commentator looked like a schnauzer."

    There were two. One schnauzer apparently isn't enough. Just in case Kornheiser and Jaws aren't annoying enough, let's cut to the sidelines....

    Jesus. What the hell happened to all the good commentators?

    PS: Meme tag duly noted. Response forthcoming if/when I can muster the interest.

  13. Meme - I got 'tagged' recently and decided to go to the source: I read "The Selfish Gene" by Richard Dawkins, Scientist and Athiest (my kinda guy), published ~1976, that introduced the meme concept. Basically, a meme is a replicator much like DNA. That is, a meme is an IDEA that has 'staying power' in a population, much like a gene. A successful meme will replicate and survive over time and potentially evolve, again, much like a gene.

    Anyway, this should be required reading for anyone interested in this concept and in Dawkins genetic 'selfish gene' theory... good stuff.

    Also you should all read Christopher Hitchens 'god is not great' and Dawkins recent book 'The God Delusion'. These are to atheism what CS Lewis is to Christianity.

    Oh yeah, my meme is forthcoming. Maybe. You probably don't care.


    will not read hitchen's because faith is fragile on both sides of the debate and having come to my conclusions over years i am more interested in bolstering them than challenging them. but i have heard a lot about hitchen's book, so let me guess...

    "We are told God is omnipotent and purely good yet there is evil, often perpetrated by those claiming a belief in said omnipotent God. Therefore God is either not omnipotent or not truly good or both. Besides that religious people are crazy and I'm a 'make my own path kind of guy' so I'll place my faith in science." the end.

    am i close?

  15. oh, one more guess, hitchens says people like me, who profess faith in Christ (or any non-tactile entity), are delusional at least and certifiably insane at worst. just because i am, in fact, certifiably insane, does not prove your argument asswipe.


  16. "just because i am, in fact, certifiably insane, does not prove your argument asswipe."


  17. Etotheipi-do the meme! I would love to read it. Also, did you choose your name because you are a negative one? I can't believe it took me this long to say it out loud and figure out why it made sense. I'm right, right?

  18. rad girl. a 'negative one'?? as far as i understnad it "ETOTHEIPI" is some math-geek thing and he chose it to be a pedantic S.O.B. he also plays oboe and pulls the wings off of flies. gotta ask though, what to you think you are hearing when you 'say it out loud' and what's the 'positive or negative one' thing?


  19. My dad is a huge math geek (was a physicist until he became an actuary). He does math problems in his free time for fun.

    e^(pi i) = -1 So I'm wondering if he chose it because he is negative...a negative one.

  20. Now that I totally geeked out, will you still think I am cool?

  21. wow. just wow. yes, he is a 'negative one'. see, the thing about you is that you have that cool pic of you that pops up when you comment and you are running a triathlon. so the physical attractiveness thing is going on. then you throw in this geeky insight and the effect is woderful. ETOTHEIPI probably doesn't believe you exist and thinks you are a deep cover gay stalker. he's had a few of those.

  22. I usually avoid these things, but since I was tagged by Oldfart, I will respond:

    1. I would rather spend a relaxing day with my kids than do anything else in the world.

    2. I am more proud to be a Texas Aggie than I am of any other personal or professional accomplishment.

    3. I strongly believe in State's Rights. I believe the founders would be appalled to see what has happened to their creation.

    4. I don't separate "business" and "personal". It's all personal to me.

    5. I don't care if the bedspread matches the sheets, carpet, or curtains. (This isn't a euphemism).

    6. I think that hockey is the greatest sport of all, and hockey players are the most amazing atheltes of all (but I'd still rather watch football on TV).

    7. I love books on tape.

    8. If Oldfart needed a kidneytransplant, I'd be the first one in line to donate.

    As for the sideline son and I keep our fingers on the 'mute' button. As soon as the announcer says "let's go down to Ashley on the sidelines, we 'mute' 'til she's gone.

    Why must you read a teleprompter to say "I talked to the coach at half-time, and he said that they would need to concentrate on scoring more points than the other team if they want to win the game"?

  23. erdoc85.
    dittos out the wazoo. loved your 'how to tell time in the ED bit too'.

  24. rad girl: you are a math nerd. you are also correct in that
    2.71828^[(sqrt(-1))*(3.14159)] = -1

    although I prefer it expressed as e^i*pi + 1 = 0; very cool / geeky.

    I'm actually not negative at all, however. I'm a happy person - I'm just fucked up from all the XTC and Acid I did in grade school. I also just chose that screen name to pretend to be smart. Oh yeah, and those flies DESERVED to be de-winged. Not my choice - my invisible friend "" told me to.

    911: Just read the fucking books. Stop being a pussy. Hitchens is actually pretty damn funny even if you don't buy a word of his rants. You gotta love a guy who trashes Mother Theresa and Ghandi.

  25. ...i've always wanted my own gay stalker...

  26. ETOTHEIPI, in all honesty, i will never read it, partly, in fact, because he does trash Mother Theresa and partly because i have read much of the rebuttal stuff and am just not interested in a millenia-spanning argument dressed up for the 21st century by a hack.

    relativism is poison and just because it's only poisoning YOU slowly does not make it less lethal.

    are you going to a tent revival meeting anytime soon? why not, it's a 'great show' and a 'spectacle' and they 'trash hillary clinton and john edwards' so you have to. my point of course is, that while you might hesitate to really define them, you do have standards. so do i. i try to stick to them and believe that the God/ no God argument will never be proven in linear, classically logical terms by humans ever on this side of death, and that it requires a decision, faith if you will, to come down on either side. i don't think hitchens has earned his spurs next to huxley yet so i'll pass.

    (besides, just the fact that it's a best-seller in places like seattle and boston should warn you off)

    oh, yeah, whatever you say next is wrong.

  27. 911: You are definitely NOT, I repeat NOT, a Leatherman ala Village People-type "power-bottom".

    Refer to last line of yours above.

  28. 911: Now...What the fuck are you talking about? Relativism? Are you back on the weed? If your "faith" isn't strong enough to withstand a book by some hack, then you should reconsider that "faith" altogether. I don't consider Hitchens on par with Huxley / Rand / Orwell or other greats.. he just wrote a good book that makes compelling reading. And it has come along in a time where it is almost socially acceptable to challenge religion head-on.

    If you dismiss a book before reading it then your are either you're being either brazenly provocative or astonishingly ignorant (ok, I just quoted the Columbia pres. trashing Ahmidininajajjaadhhhd., sorry) Look, just read it and stop proving the other side of the argument: when challenged by reason, faith wilts.

    ok ok "faith is by definition beyond reason blah blah fucking blah... " stop it. that's the rambling of a weak mind that flies planes into buildings.

    I don't get the obsession with relativism... Is everything you disagree with simply trashed as "relativism". That's either brazenly provocative or astonishingly ignorant (sorry). Unless you are 4 years old, you understand that other people's opinions aren't by definition wrong. You must be from the South (i.e. dumb RELATIVE to northerners).

    Yes - there is right and wrong - these are defined for you (i think you would claim) by so-called Judeo-Christian morals. But the actual lessons that you and I can agree teach us right from wrong are based exclusively on humanist principles. I assume, unless you are an idiot, that you reject much of what is in the bible...if not, stop reading this. The lessons that have ultimately, in this society, been chosen, are the humanist ones. If you can't face the simple fact that biblical and religious teaching have evolved and in cases completely changed over centuries it's either brazenly provocative or astonishingly ignorant (ok, I'm going to stop that).

    My point? Not sure. Just put down the sock puppet, stop whacking it to "blue boy" magazine and read a book that may challenge some of your absolutist ideas. (fingers in my ears, going lalalalalala!!! to your next comment)

  29. oh my goodness. no i don't agree that right and wrong 'evolves' (though 'religious teaching certainly has) so go ahead and label me however you like. i also do not agree that the bible has 'changed' or been 'edited' or is unreliable either historically or testamentarily (sp?) for the simple reason that if you accept that it is, in fact, written by humans inspired by the almighty it's silly to say that man has changed or could change the immutable. again, that's an either/or and CS, as you may or may not know, was a unparalleled textual critic who started as an atheist. the 'authenticity of the Bible', a seminal font for most atheistic arguments, is not in doubt from the perspective of the textual critics and i know we can go down this road and talk about the 'Jesus seminar' folks etc... but the arguments repeat.

    i do not claim to know what right and wrong are in every circumstance but i do not say that the search or debate is not worthwhile. i also believe that marx, lenin, pol-pot, and a host of others were humanists though this does not mean to me that the principles of humanism are wrong.

    my point about hitchens is actually quite simple and not what you say it is.

    to quote MY man, good ole CS, faith is, for some, emotionally arrived at. this is not the case for me. as you know, i am a product of an educational system based on relativism. forty years ago it was not.

    so, my reasoning goes something like this. somedays the weight of evidence of man's inhumanity to man and the zeitgeist of the moment make me think i'm an idiot for being a Christian. it's something like getting ready to undergo minor surgery, knowing that the anesthesiologist and surgeon are top notch, but still having that gut fear of being put under and getting cut. making the decision to go ahead at that point involves faith.

    so, having spent many years exploring these issues and having come to the conclusions that i have i now read things that bolster my admittedly weak faith.

    i know you are not a fan of 'pascal's wager' but i am. so, again, why would i want to read something that is... a. going to make me mad b. going to be a rehash of the classic atheistic stance (i know this from, as i mentioned, the reviews and rebuttals mentioned above) and c. keep me from reading stuff that could bolster said weak faith.

    i am a "stubborn Christian". i do not have an eternity in this body to consider even an infinitessimal amount of contrary argument so i have decided that, since i have reasoned my way to faith over time, that, rather than be afraid of the proceure (to go back to the metaphor) i should work on NOT doubting.

    head in a box? perhaps, but it's a well constructed box. but you better hope you are right. as pascal points out, the consequences of my faith, if wrong, are not nearly as deleterious as the consequences of yours if you are wrong. if i were you i'd be sniffing coke of whore's asses and piling up ill-gotten gains. that may be why i need to believe what i do, my faith does make me a better person. you may just be a better person because of your genetics.

    so go ahead and call me a pussy, that's okay. obtw, you still haven't told me if my three sentence summation of his book is on the mark or not.

    now, go read, 'the problem of pain' by my man.

  30. Excellent. I will read a critique by an atheist, CS Lewis detractor and then pass judgement on 'the problem of pain' as if I understood it.

    Kidding. I'll actually read it. 'Mere Christianity' was good, I admit, but flawed (to me).

    I truly don't think you would be raping nuns and robbing old ladies without faith. You don't give yourself any credit. You don't NEED god or jesus or the bible to tell you that these things are wrong. "do unto others" does not require faith - it requires only reason and humanity. That all being said, I really do like snorting coke off of whore's asses, i mean, it's just fun!

    And as to Pascal's wager - yeah, I'm not a fan. I'm supposed to pretend to believe in something that I think is likely wrong so that I'm not punished? Are we a bunch of 3 year olds? If I don't accept Jesus, I'm going to burn for an eternity? Nice role model.

    Fuck it. I don't know the ultimate truths and neither do you or anyone. That's why I drink alot.

    Wasn't this whole post supposed to be about memes???

  31. precisely correct. we don't need God or Jesus to tell us what is right or wrong as all humans agree, much more than they disagree, about these things. but where does this come from? dawkins would say it evolved, though, being a biology major and knowing a bit about evolution it seems to me that the leap of faith and multiple revisions of prior suppositions required to 'evolve' altruistic behavior or a shared sense of 'right' or 'wrong' is much greater than the one i have to make to see marvelous sentient and omnipotent designer behind it all.

    also, i think you and i understand pascal's wager and the Christian concept of hell and salvation differently. i do not believe Jesus teaches or that the Bible teaches to 'worship me or die twice.' i believe that we have souls and that they are eternal (and my practice of medicine has pushed me more in this direction than in the nihilistic one) and that the MOST important question any of us has to answer is where we will be for eternity.

    Christianity, as i understand it, teaches that since God is perfect and since we all have sinned and all fall short of perfection and will all continue to do so that to be in his presence in an oil and water thing. Christ fills the gap but WE make the choice of our ultimate destination by choosing to accept him or not. we condemn ourselves or not.

    Lewis' conception of hell (The Great Divorce), which to me is more intellectually satisfying than any metaphorical pictures of humans roasted on spits by demons, is one of complete selfishness. He pictures hell as desolate and the denizens thereof as those who have repeatedly refused God's grace in salvation and instead have focused on self (he sees Napoleon there by the way, in a mansion on the outskirts of hell, walking the halls and muttering to himself). Hell is lonely and expanding and cold and bleak.

    too many words. hope my point comes across. the God you seem to describe is Allah of Islam. the God of Christianity stoops to conquer and has paid our unpayable debt if we will only accept the gift.

    finally, for me, Christianity is hard. i can state, 'i'm going to heaven after i die' all i want but my heart doessn't feel it. it is much easier to suspend the question altogether and live as we see fit in a country that, forgive me, by the grace of God, has allowed its citizens remarkable good fortune and health for some time. much easier, for me, to just say, 'whatever, i do what i want'.

  32. I think you don't give enough credit to the power of evolution. Somehow we have evolved from basic replicators (maybe virus or prion type things or whatever)to unbelievably complex, conscious beings. I don't think its alot to ask evolution to account for the seemingly non-complex concept of altruism. There are alot of theories about the emergence of altruism, but even a christian can see the basic survival benefit of groups working together and looking out for each other's interests as a good survival strategy. All this is assuming that you accept that evolution is a reality - if you throw this theory out the window then I think we can't contnue a serious conversation.

    as for my vs. your conception of how christians perceive hell et. al., I'm just going from the source (the bible), not some proxy (Lewis). I think I can reasonably assume that the bible is the 'manual' for your belief. This is where the stories come from and is the ultimate reference book. I don't remember the passage that described hell as a nice mansion where I hang out by myself. If this is the case, then I REALLY have no reason to believe. You can certainly think of hell as just the absence of god or some such thing, but in doing so, you reject the text that your whole religion is based on. When christ stands in judgement, he's not sending us to a lonely vacation spot in Barbados.

    Looking at the bigger picture, I don't disagree with just christianity for it's contradictions and philosophical manipulations. It's the larger conception of religion and faith that doesn't gel for me. I think these institutions / worldviews are human inventions, often used as tools to control the masses, that find thier appeal and power based on childish "wish-thinking" (in hutchins words) that each individual is special and has a universal purpose, and, more significantly, and at the most basic level, the human fear of death.

  33. i agree one-hundred percent that hell is not a place you want to be but am not a literalist when it comes to what, quite obviously, are Biblical metaphors created to give us a sense of the horrors of being separated from God for eternity.

    interested in what you see as "Christianity's cnotradictions and philosophic manipulations"? i wonder again if you may be getting your evidence from watching or listening to "Christians" who may or may not be solidly grounded in their knowledge.

    your concept of religions in general as a 'wish fulfullment' fantasy i think would hold water if the Christian God were Santa Claus. as i understnad God, he is perfect father and perfect judge and will exact perfect justice. this makes me uncomfortable. forgive me if i put a piece in here from i think it answers your question better than i could...

    Faith and Facts
    Gregory Koukl
    Can you give a good definition of biblical faith? How does it relate to science?

    I don't like the word "faith." Not because faith isn't valuable, but because it's often deeply misunderstood. "Faith" in this twisted sense is what you use when all reason is against you. It's religious wishful thinking, in which one squeezes out spiritual hope by intense acts of sheer will. People of "faith" believe the impossible. People of "faith" believe that which is contrary to fact. People of "faith" believe that which is contrary to evidence. People of "faith" ignore reality.

    Some suggest we cannot find facts to support our faith, nor is it preferable to try. This is silly. We're enjoined to have faith in part because we have evidence that Jesus rose from the dead.

    I think part of the confusion is because Christians are often told to ignore circumstances, meaning that we're not to get overwhelmed or discouraged by them because God is bigger than our troubles. "Have faith in God," we're told. I think that's good counsel as far as it goes, but sometimes it breeds misunderstanding, implying that faith is a blind leap that has no relationship to fact.

    Some suggest we cannot find facts to support our faith, nor is it preferable to try. Faith is not the kind of thing that has anything to do with facts, they say. If we have evidence to prove what we believe, then that takes away from real faith.

    Somehow these people think that genuine faith is eviscerated by knowledge and evidence. We've made a virtue out of believing against the evidence, as if that's what God has in mind for us. This is all wrong.

    Think about it for a moment. J.P. Moreland has suggested that if this is really the Christian view of faith, the best thing that could happen to Christianity is for the bones of Jesus to be discovered. Finding His bones would prove He didn't rise from the dead. When Christians continue to believe that He did, then, they would be demonstrating the most laudable faith, believing something that all the evidence proved was false.

    This is silly. We're enjoined to have faith in part because we have evidence that Jesus rose from the dead. If we're encouraged to believe because of the resurrection, then that proves this other view of faith is false. It may be the view Christians hold in many cases, but it is not the view of the Bible. It is not the view of Christianity.

    Frankly, if religion is merely an exercise in wishful thinking for me, I wouldn't wish up Christianity. It's far too inconvenient. Indeed, it seems that's part of the reason people hold many of the ludicrous religious views they do. They're appealing. They wish God was impersonal, because an impersonal God can't make the kind of demands on them that a holy God can. An impersonal divine force doesn't cramp their style on Saturday night. Eastern religions are high on individual liberty and low on individual responsibility. That's appealing.

    Biblical faith isn't believing against the evidence. Instead, faith is a kind of knowing that results in action.

    No, biblical faith isn't believing against the evidence. Instead, faith is a kind of knowing that results in action. Let me explain what I mean.
    If we want to exercise biblical faith--Christian faith--then we ought first to find out how the Bible defines faith. The clearest definition comes from Hebrews 11:1. This verse says, "Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen."

    Now, there's something very important in these words. We see the word "hope," we see the word "assurance," and we see the word "conviction"--that is, confidence. Now, what gives us confidence?

    If you buy a lottery ticket, do you hope you'll win the lottery? Yes, of course you do. Do you have any assurance you'll win the lottery? Absolutely not. You have no way of knowing that your ticket is any better than the millions of other lottery tickets out there competing for the same pot.

    But what if you had x-ray vision, and you could see through the gray scratch-off coating on the lottery tickets you buy at the supermarket? You'd know if you had a $100, $200 or a $1,000 winner, wouldn't you? In that case, would you merely hope you'd win? No, you'd have assurance , wouldn't you? You'd have assurance of those things you previously only hoped for. It would be hope with conviction, not a mere hoped, but a hope buttressed by facts and evidence.

    That's why the Christian faith cares about the evidence. For the biblical Christian, the facts matter. You can't have assurance for something you don't know you're going to get. You can only hope for it.

    This is why the resurrection of Jesus is so important. It gives assurance to the hope. Because of a Christian view of faith, Paul is able to say in 1 Corinthians 15 that when it comes to the resurrection, if we have only hope, but no assurance--if Jesus didn't indeed rise from the dead in time/space history--then we are of most men to be pitied. That's what he says: We are of most men to be pitied .

    This confidence Paul is talking about is not a confidence in a mere "faith" resurrection, a mythical resurrection, a story-telling resurrection. Instead, it's a belief in a real resurrection. If the real resurrection didn't happen, then we're in trouble.

    The Bible knows nothing of a bold leap-in-the-dark faith, a hope-against-hope faith, a faith with no evidence. Rather, if the evidence doesn't correspond to the hope, then the faith is in vain, as even Paul has said.

    So, faith is knowing, and that knowledge is based on evidence leading to confidence or conviction. But biblical faith is more than that. There's another element. Faith is not just knowing. Faith is also acting. Biblical faith is a confidence so strong that it results in action. You're willing to act based on that belief, that faith.

    Many of you know that my engineer, Bobby the Bouncer, got married today. Bobby has believed in marriage for a long time, but Bobby never exercised faith in marriage until he walked down the aisle and said "I do" to Jennifer. That's when he put his life on the line for what he believed to be true. He exercised faith.

    Friends, Christianity is not denying reality. Biblical Christians don't deny reality, they discover reality. And once they've discovered it, they act on what they've learned.

    It's the same way with biblical faith. It's not just intellectual assent. It's not just acknowledging that certain facts about Jesus, the Bible, the resurrection, or whatever, happen to be true. It's taking your life and putting it on the line based on your confidence in those facts.

    Consider a guy who pushes a wheelbarrow across Niagara Falls on a tightrope every day. You've seen him do it so many times it doesn't even occur to you he won't make it. You believe with all your heart he can do it.

    One day he comes up to you and asks, "Do you believe I can push this wheelbarrow across the tightrope without falling?" And you say, "Of course I do. I've seen you do it hundreds of times." "All right," he says, "get in the wheelbarrow."

    Well, now we're talking about a whole different kind of thing, aren't we? The first is an intellectual belief, an acknowledgment of certain facts. The second is active faith, converting your knowledge to action. When you climb into the wheelbarrow, your belief in facts is converted into active trust.

    Faith is knowledge in action. It is active trust in the truth. You go to the airport. You say, "This plane goes to New York. I believe it. I'll get on the plane. I'll invest myself in the things I believe to be true." That is biblical faith.

    So, when someone asks me the question, Are faith and science compatible?, I'm going to immediately ask for a clarification. What do you mean by faith? If you think faith is mere fantasy and science is complete fact, well then, fantasy conflicts with fact, doesn't it? If faith is a blind leap in the dark, if faith has no concern for the facts, you're in trouble.

    If, however, your faith is an intelligent trust in what can't be seen that's inferred from evidence that can be seen--if your faith is a commitment to reality, to acting on what you have good reason to believe is true--well then, there doesn't need to be any conflict at all.

    Friends, Christianity is not denying reality. Some people think it is. I'm sympathetic to them because some Christians act as if faith is a kind of sanctified denial. But that isn't what biblical Christianity is about. Biblical Christians don't deny reality, they discover reality. And once they've discovered it, they act on what they've learned.

    Indeed, if Christianity is true, in the deepest sense of the word, then it must fit the facts of the real world. So, when we discover the facts of the real world, they can only support Christianity-- if Christianity is true--given that you've interpreted the facts of the world correctly and you've interpreted the scriptural teaching correctly.

    Christianity does comport with the facts. If science and religion both have truth as their ultimate goal, then there's no inherent conflict between the two.

  34. Gregory Koukl is a fucking koo-koo.

    This is the most circular, non-sensical, tortured argument I have ever read.

    First of all, STATING that something is fact does not make it so. In this over-long essay about fact based faith, not a single piece of evidence for these supposed "facts" is offered. He says science and faith both have truth as a goal - but only one of them is based on actual evidence. If you take a hard look at the archeological evidence of the actual facts, then the bible comes up short so often that anyone ACTUALLY looking for facts would discount this as a reference.

    I think he is saying roughly (i'm not sure because his argument is so poorly constructed): "Look! It's right there! See! Jesus was resurrected. It's written down in a book! it's a fact!" He offers ZERO evidence and then subsequently claims that if the resurrection was NOT a fact, then christians really are morons. He paints himself into a corner: "if these aren't facts then we are WAY wrong, therefore, they ARE facts, therefore, we are right!" Talk about wishful thinking...

    Faith is BY DEFINITION belief despite, and sometime directly is conflict with, evidence. I think alot of religios people actually take PRIDE in the fact that they have faith despite evidence. FACT, on the other hand, is something that REQUIRES evidence. One may BELIEVE that there was a virgin birth, or people raised from the dead, or people living hundreds of years, or the earth being 6000 years old, or people performing miracles, or the existence of saints and angels and on and on; but DON'T come out and say "hey, these are FACTS". They simply are claims that are unsupported by evidence. And a claim unsupported by evidence is, in the real world, not a fact.

    Don't quote clowns like this - you are much more sensible and a much better writer. more on christianity's contradictions and wish thinking later...

  35. well dear friend i did not quote mr koo koo without having read a whole bunch more of his stuff. i can see how, without reference to the 100 or so articles he has up on his site answering just the questions you ask, how you would say he's crazy and his argument is circular. let me work on a better response, but i'm afraid i've made the mistake or sending you the message e=mc2 without showing you proof.

    a couple of more thought before i head out into the beautiful day we are having here.

    1. i know already what your pat answer is to this but i'm curious anyhow. if, as you seem to believe, the Bible is just a bunch of stories made up to reassure us and even to control and that Jesus either did not exist or was just a great moral teacher or even a lunatic then how have so many people smarter than me and you been fooled for so long? how is it that you have got the real goods and the rest of us don't? as stated before i don't believe in santa claus.
    2. let me work on your objections to the previous post in bits and pieces. for instance, what's the most important question you would like me to adress in mr koo koos article? the second? i mean books have been written about these questions so i am not really your guy but i'll try.


  37. Responses to items above:

    #1: If everyone around you drank cyanide laced Kool-aid, would you too? By your argument, the greatest number of people believing a certain thing would then hold the monopoly on truth. By your argument it is better to reject christianity because there are way more and some way smarter people who believe in something OTHER that christianity. ie your argument actually supports NOT believing in christianity.

    Also, the reason you don't believe in santa claus is that at some point an adult told you that he does not exist, or you thought he was very unlikely to exist and you had it later confirmed by someone. If everyone around you was STILL saying that SC exists, would you then believe?

    #2: show me the evidence. That's it. the "fact" argument that koukl uses is pointless unless there is evidence. If you buy his argument, then without evidence, you too are an a non-believer.

    Finally, I make no claim to being right. I simply think that the existence of the god of the bible is extremely unlikely to exist. I also think there is a very small, but real probability that there is some type of greater power / creator / god. Basically, I live my life as if there is no god because that makes the most sense to me given what i have experienced / seen / read etc...

    Also, answer this: If so many people believe the bible, then why do so few read it? If I REALLY thought the word of god was written down for me, I would read that bad boy constantly. I think so few read it because when you actually read it, it is simultaneously not believable, self contradictory, historically inacurate, and in places frankly bizarre. That, and people are lazy fucks.

  38. first of all... SETTLE DOWN BEAVIS!

    dude, you know me! NO, i would not drink said kool aid. i am merely pointing out that for believers it is comforting to know that they are not alone and that there are famous authors and scientists etc... that believe as we do.

    secondly, 'show me the evidence' is a bit hard. as i asked in the previous post, lets do it bits at a time otherwise your request is equivalent to 'explain calculus to me in a paragraph or two'. in other words, 'dude, explain to me why you think the Bible is reliable as a historical document and why you believe it is the inspired word of God', or, 'dude, explain to me why you think Jesus actually lived' etc.. one at a time please.

    as to you making no claim to being right you seem to be making a very strong claim that believers are wrong so i wonder if this is really correct.

    finally, as to why so many 'believers' don't read the Bible that is an unanswerable question. first, show me the secret video you take in everyone's houses showing them not reading. you get my point. if what you mean is that most folks you talk to seem to know the Bible less well than you do then i have no answer.

    i have read it three times and am on number four. however, you can not really be saying that because a bunch of professed Christians do not read the Bible that Christianity is somehow less likeley to be true. And, as to the contradictions and 'bizarre' nature of the Bible I'll pop that ball right back to you and ask for specifics so I can answer them, to the best of my ability, specifically.

    my friend, you have honest and good questions but you may have forgotten that essentially all forms of scholarship before the enlightenment were biblical/theogogial. there are answers to your questions (that may or may not satisfy) and i submit that you may in fact be guilty of dismissing faith based on your cursory investigation without really looking at the evidence and defense of the faith that IS there.

    and yes, people are lazy fucks.

  39. one more thing. you found cs lewis' 'mere christianity' 'flawed'... in what way?


    I am definitely open to any argument and want to hear your take on these questions because I think you are reasonable and have well thought out conclusions.
    That being said, you are a redneck reactionary and that makes it fun too.

    so, I like the specific questions you propose (" explain to me why you think the Bible is reliable as a historical document and why you believe it is the inspired word of God', or, 'dude, explain to me why you think Jesus actually lived'). Let's start with these two.

    as far as specific examples of the bible's unreliability I have one quick story: I dated this catholic chick in high school and tried to engage her in a discussion about religion (that, and engage her in oral sex). she believed the bible. So, I picked up a bible, opened a page completely at random and read it. It happened to describe people who had lived literally hundreds of years. Now, do you belive that to be true? I don't. Remember, this is a RANDOM page. I don't believe people can be raised from the dead. I don't believe in miracles. I don't believe in virgin births. These things just DON'T HAPPEN. So, specifically, do you believe these things? Do you belive and eye for an eye and also believe do unto others? Also what bible do you believe? Do you accept the gnostic gospels? Different branches of christianity accept different versions of the bible - how do you choose yours? The bible tells stories that are contrary to all of our experiences and reason. Why is scientology weird but christianity isn't? they both make spectacular claims that are contrary to reason and experience. It's just that christianity is more familiar. also, for the bizarre just read revelations... WTF?

    as for the bible reading thing: it's not that some professed christians don't read and therefore it's less likely to be true. that's not the point. the point is that if someone ACTUALLY believed that the word of god was written down for them, any sane person would study it relentlessly BECAUSE their (eternal)life literally depends on it. What this says to me is that people choose not to go to the source because it is simply not believable as the word of god.

    ps. mere christianity is flawed in its conclusions (again, to me).

  41. good. now we can get somewhere. gotta hit the rack before a night shift and if the ed gods (little 'g') are favorable should have some time to start an answer.
    later meat-sack.

    i do not expect you to swallow this whole and not have doubts, it's merely the best i could do in a few minutes. follow this link regarding the accuracy of the bible as arrived at by textual critics and historians, believers and unbelievers alike. obviously i am not a biblical scholar so i am searching and will add what i think later. more to follow...

  43. and here a popular 'free thinker arguing Jesus did not exist (i don't find his reasoning persuasive even without a rebuttal which is included below. gauvin seems angry and grinding an axe, just my personal feeling. i'm learning stuff doing this... hope it's interesting.

    against Jesus:


    more as i find it .

  44. more on historical suport for Jesus outside the Bible (mentioned in two pieces above)...

    and one on 'was Jesus a myth' with citations...

    as to your other question regarding people being 900 years old and whether i believe it you are really asking if i believe in miracles.

    observation, you had this discussion with a catholic girl you were dating. after beating her down with your superior debate skills and knowledge did you close the deal?

    but yes, i believe in miracles and cs lewis writes well about this though i do not have the stuff in front of me. he makes an important distinction about the miracles performed by Jesus and a distinction between miracles and 'magic' but i don't want to mischaracterize what he says so i'll look it up. have i witnessed a miracle? not that i am aware of. have any occured recently? i can't say no but i can't quote any either. in terms of the miracles performed by jesus, yes, i believe he performed them. more later.

  45. Christian apologetics webpage discussing many topics on atheism. Don't know if these are good or not... there's a lot.

  46. bounce back to you... i'm done for the night with this summary of cs lewis on miracles, pretty interesting, and, as i mentioned much earlier, you can see that the debate we are having is not new.

  47. This debate you have going is fascinating. My husband is Catholic, and because I am still not sure what I believe or even really if I am positive I do at all, we are raising our kids Catholic even though I disagree with many things they are taught to believe. Luckily, my husband is ok with me respectfully informing the kids of why I disagree with whatever thing I disagree with and then letting the kids make up their own minds. They are driving their religion teachers crazy with all their questions and opinions though.

    The confession part (my twins are supposed to make their first one this year) is killing me because I was raised to believe that you aren't supposed to treat anyone as a God except the actual God, and if you do that, why in the world would a priest need to hear what you are confessing (in addition to my belief that a 7 year old probably doesn't need to be confessing anything at all, and if they do then maybe you have bigger problems than learning the proper way to confess). Anyway, I know that the Catholic part wold be a completely different topic here, but I am loving reading both of your thoughts on all of this. Keep going please!

  48. fascinating? i can't believe you read this far. ETOTHEIPI and i have gone through this before but not in a long time. i do not know how to defend the Catholic tradition/ method of worship and confession etc... as i was raised agnostic and sort of Episcopalian (Catholic light). i do have a lot of respect for the Catholic version of Christianity however as there is some inflexibility of doctrine which makes a lot more sense to me (immutable right and wrong) than doctrine that 'evolves' with the times. big changes in church doctrine, to me, belie a lack of confidence in belief.

    my favorite defense of the faith is 'mere Christianity' by CS Lewis. seems like ETOTHEIPI likes hitchen's recent 'god is not great' (current bestseller) and richard dawkin's 'the selfish gene'. if you like 'mere Christianity' read 'the problem of pain next'.

    glad we have an audience for this of at least one. hey to the family!

  49. rad girl: the Dawkins book is "The God Delusion" - he's an Darwinist and acomplished scientist who tries to approach athiesm rationally. Hitchens book is more entertaining and more emotional approach to the subject. They are good places to start with the pro-athiesm arguement as it is aqctually acceptable (sort of) to be unapologetically athiest these days. (I say 'sort of' because current polls show that, by a wide margin, an athiest is the most likely to be considered unfit to serve in public office. Mormons, muslims, scientologists do MUCH better... we poll at around 15%).

    911: I'll check out the links. wnt to hear YOUR take on stuff also. I know the debate is far from "new" - but this doesn't mean articulating the arguements for oneself is not valuable.

    I'm shocked someone else is actually reading this string. It's sort of like when your mom walks in on you whacking off to 'Guns and Ammo' magazine.... I've heard.

  50. Oh yeah, as far as 'closing the deal' with the catholic chick, well, she was catholic, so, uh, hello! It was like watching a circus seal balancing a ball on its nose from above.

  51. most folks would say that the road to hell is paved with good intentions but you are the exception.

  52. Got the book...thanks.

    About 50 pages in - so far he could have written: "read CS Lewis, the end".

    What was your take?

  53. Hi Guys:

    YOu have at least one other (new) reader here. Although gay, not really the stalking type, so etotheipi, you're safe. (I'm not a math geek, either, so your name is lost on me).
    I was raised mainstream protestant (United Methodist). When pressed to defind myself these days, I identify as a "recovering christian secular humanist with Buddhist leanings". I've never read Lewis. I'm going to check out the Dawkins and Hitchens. Recent history and the state of humanity have moved me more to your camp etotheipi. I'm reminded of a t-shirt that I saw a few years ago (when I was still church active) and wish I'd bought it. It had a pic of Jesus, with the caption, "Please protect me from your followers".

    911 Doc, you appear (read) rational--well up until the point of saying "i do have a lot of respect for the Catholic version of Christianity". Unfortunately, the more vocal portion of christianity doesn't.


  54. gaycmeguy: I said I WANTED a gay stalker... so, goshdangitall!

    I'm happy to have anyone who agrees with me. I'm currently reading Frances Collins' book (the genome guy) concerning a 'scientific' defence of christianity (thanks 911). He repeats the same arguments that we have all heard but tries to put some rigor into it (that's what she said).

    One comment about the 'complexity' argument: to summarize via a famous example - the probablity of a 747 randomly assembling itself in a windstorm in a junkyard is so unlikely that this implies a designer must have directed it, that is, it could not have happened by mere chance. Therefore, goes the argument, life is so complex, it is statistically impossible without a designer, Ergo, god exists.

    I've heard this argument over and over in different guises. Two points that blow it out of the water: 1- evolution. small changes over vast time scales that favor a superior model over the prior can lead to incredible complexity. 2- This argument is more devastating I think: The designer is likely more complex than the thing designed. Therefore, if the 747 is impossible, the presence of a more complex thing (a designer) is more impossible (i know that is impossible to be more impossible, shut up). The argument collapses on itself. Out bitches. I rule.

  55. sorry dudes and rad girl,
    been out at the CLAeP convention as mentioned above.

    welcome gayCMEguy. if this stuff interests you then bless you and please feel free to dive in.

    ETOTHEIPI, i can't agree with your characterization of the complexity argumenbt. i do not think that Collin's is a 'design' guy, he pretty much agrees with you. you haven't read deep into the book if you are still in the part that talks about the evolution, if you will, of the design argument.

    as to the designer having to be more complex than the thing designed well duh, we are talking about the alpha and omega, the author of all being. yeah, He's more and the whole point of the believer's side is that God is eternal, not created, the great "I AM" as it were.

    just a thought while trying to catch up. the evolutionist/scientitst can never, if they are truly scientists, answer the question of whether there is a God or not as God is not ammendable to the scientific method. if He were i would find that a compelling reason to believe that He were a creation of man.

  56. Dawkins addresses this question (can the question of god's existence be approached by the scientific method) in his book. Actually, his whole book basically tackles this argument. It is obviously impossible to make a book-length argument in a few paragraphs. A couple of thoughts about it though:

    1. If a supernatural force in some way influences events on Earth then this should be, at least in theory, measurable. Alternatively, if god is unmeasurable then he is a disinterested god who set things in motion and disappeared: certainly NOT the god of the bible.

    2. a recent large double-blind study was performed concerning the effect of prayer on medical recovery (i don't recall all of the details, but apparently this was a well-run study). The conclusion of this trial was that there was no effect of prayer on healing. "Big deal", you say, "god doesn't jump through hoops like this". Well, I can, with 100% certainty, guarantee you that if the study showed a significant effect of prayer on healing, that the religious would NOT blow off the study. This would be MAJOR news, and in truth, my core beliefs would be deeply shaken. How can you have it both ways? Huh!?

  57. disagree 100% with Dawkins. this statement is the ultimate in hubris from a man who is, no doubt, quite brilliant, but who has probably made a few mistakes in his life. now i have nothing to say to convinced atheists whose religion is science. and that, my friend, is what dawkins is. even where science fails he has faith that the only reason it fails is just that we don't know enough yet or that the right research has not been done yet. what he is saying is that there should be some way for say, a character in a book, if that characther could magically be brought to life within the book, to test for and prove the existence of the author. you guys are all starting with the premise that the only reality that there is is that which can, in some way, be measured. you may be correct, but, this is a proposition that you have accepted on faith. it can never be proven or disproven by the scientific method. the prayer study, which has been duplicated many times, is troubling only in that all prayers are not answered. even though the new testament promise IS made that Jesus will 'give' if 'asked':

    Ask, and it shall be given you;
    seek, and you shall find;
    knock, and it shall be opened to you.
    For whoever asks, receives;
    and he who seeks, finds;
    and to him who knocks, the door is opened.

    matthew 7:7:8 - jesus of nazareth

    Christians don't have a good answer to this and i don't either. but as Lewis says, it is at least reasonable to believe that the purpose of prayer is not to change God's mind, but to change yours.

    Circular? sure, but as i said from the start soon or late the decision about whether there is 'anything' beside the reality we perceive with our senses (not talking about Christianity here... talking about souls, a supreme being etc...) will never be testable. so where do you stand?

    do you disbelieve there is love, happiness, sadness, other emotions? or do you believe them because a PET scan shows areas of the brain lighting up when people are crazy or happy or sad? but what starts the emotion?

    one other problem that dawkins and hitchens run into is that most tie evolution into the origin of the universe question. the two are not related. so i might direct the discussion at this point to the 'where did it all come from' angle.

    if our universe all came from an explosion and a series of incredibly unlikely events which randomly produced a planet just the right distance from the sun to allow for the first chemicals and substances to coalesce (by some yet unknown process to begin) by shere chance and random repetition then how can we trust our very thought process? how can we trust what we perceive as logic as logic itself is now undercut and reason is undercut.

  58. ETOTHEIPI: If you want to be stalked, you have to 'earn' that privelege and proven to be 'stalk-worthy'. ;)
    911 Doc: The Matthew passage is actually one of the bible passages that solidified my disbelief in prayer. I grew up in small farm town Midwest, USA, in a pretty conservatively religious community. (I know, that sentence is full of redundancies.) Being taught from the pulpit early on that gay = worst of the worst sinners = burning in hell, I was horrifcally distraught over the 'unnatural' feelings I had. I prayed and prayed for God to 'change' me and make me 'right'. When that never happened, my conclusion was that I was such a reviled human being that even God wanted nothing to do with me. That's a theology that is purely and simply fucked. It's well documnented that the suicide rate for gay and/or sexual identy questioning teens is 3x that of non-gay teen co-hort. I hold the Church with a capital "C" responsible. I was almost one of those statistics. Once I finally came out, dealt with the church/theological issues, I remained active in the church, advocating and fighting for GLTB social justice issues in the church, because I didn't want other kids/young adults to go through what I did in the church in regards to my sexual identity. While I did find open and affirming congregations, the politics (and that's completely what it is) of the "C"hurch finally succeeded in driving me away.
    If there was an omnicient/onmipotent god, there would not have been a holocaust, Darfur, Rwanda, Bosnia, etc. 'ethnic' cleansings. And such a god would never have allowed that asswipe and his evil band of vermin into the white house. Having W claim christianity as his guiding force should be enough for any thinking person to question their belief system.
    Here is a genuine question: As a scientist/physician, how do you reconcile the intelligent design argument with evolution?

  59. gaycmeguy,

    arguing against a creed based on it's adherents is, of course, a false argument. for instance, one wouldn't say that mathematics is fucked because ted kazinski (sp?) was a mass murderer right?

    also, and believe me, you bring up a hard to answer question about pain, dealing with the problem of pain is so difficult that i certainly am not going to convince you in a paragraph here. if you want to see the best answer i have seen to this conundrum read cs lewis 'the problem of pain'.

    my answer, as a Christian, is that it is man acting on man using his free will to do either evil or good that causes all pain. if your next argment is that God should not allow it then you take away free will.

    while you may say this sucks, and i assure you that it does, it does not argue agains the existence of the Christian God. after all, if He exists, he sent his Son to be tortured and killed for us. again, i'm not saying you have to like this, i'm just saying that this is the absolute bare bones Christian answer to why there is evil and pain in the world.

  60. as mentioned earlier i think intelligent design is usually set up as a straw man then knocked down. the reason i am not convinced by it is that as science pushes back the boundaries of the unknown much of the design argument is explained. that being said as of today science has not proven the intelligent design argument wrong, it just keeps making the examples used of 'irreducible complexity' fewer and fewer.

    do i believe God created the universe? yes. do i know how? no. but here is the main problem with atheism as i see it, atheists can only have two answers to the 'where did the universe come from' question. one is that it was always here and the other is that it is a result of the big bang or a prior big bang. in short, science can never answer the how or why of where we all came from. this is a completely separate issue from evolution.

  61. But what about prayer? I'm willing to be convinced of its validity, but my empirical and personal evidence leaves me empty.

    And, either god is omnipotent/omniscient or he (it) isn't. It can't be both ways. Either god controls things and answers prayers/causes miracles or doesn't.
    What about the prayers to go unanswered? In my instance stated in previous post, if I were arguing in favor of prayer, I would say that I was praying for the wrong thing. I shouldn't have been praying to 'change my sexual identity', but should have been praying for self-acceptance and how to celebrate that gift of sexuality. But the "C"hurch doesn't sanction such thoughts.
    Thanks, btw. It's been a long time since I've been able to have a theological discourse. It's dusting off some cobwebs in my brain--which is a good thing.

  62. gaycmeguy,
    again, not being a theologian i can only point you to the person who made the most sense of it for me, cs lewis. two books to read then more if you like... 1. mere christianity 2. the problem of pain. short reads and worth it. you will find, after reading them, that you know a lot more about what Christians are supposed to believe than most professing Christians. warning, he does call homosexuality a perversion so that may stop you right there, but what he does not do is condemn homosexuals, he merely says they require forgiveness like the rest of us.

  63. Thanks for the warning. I could have had a knee-jerk reaction upon reading that, and been really pissed off that I'd bought the book. I'll see if I can find a friend who has the books I can borrow.
    Question, and this is a genuine question, I'm not trying to be snarky. Because, I don't know enough of Lewis to make an informed decision. Would you call his theology more life affirming or more hell-fire and brimstone?

  64. well when i first read him it was both. he does believe in hell but has an interesting take on it. he is not a literalist and is in fact one of the best textual critics ever. he was an oxford professor of literature and started life as an atheist being schooled by a very aggressive, brilliant atheist. they made a movie called 'shadowlands' about his later life and his only marriage. the movie is ok. lewis was also a friend and compatriot of jrr tolkein who was also a Christian. there are some cs lewis webstites that you can check out if you like. don't have them immediately available but can track them down if you like. google will get them.

  65. Yeah, I'd appreciate it if you would, when you get a chance, foward the links to me. You can send them to

    Are you still Episcopalean? If so, where do you fall on the Gene Berry issue? If not, what denomination are you associated with now?

  66. the wikipedia entry is a good start...

    here's another...

    no particular denomination right now. i'm not a good churchgoer and by outward appearances not a 'practicing Christian'. don't know what God thinks i am. lazy i bet.


    I don't think this is problem for atheism AT ALL. Why? Because theology is as inadequate for an answer. You can say: god made the universe... OK, then who made god? Oh, well, god has always been there, you say. Well, I can say then that the universe has always been here. Time was created at the moment of the big bang. there was no "time" before that. OR, there have been endless bing bang / big crunches for eternity.

    So we have basically THE SAME answer for the question: god (for the religious) or the universe (for the atheist)always has been. I think if you see this as the main problem with atheism then you should see it as the main problem with theism. I think it is a problem for neither.

    On another subject, I assume you see the irony in saying that god is beyond reason and that it is hubris to suggest that this is not the case, while simultaneously using reason to strengthen your belief. You call into question the validity of reason in this argument while yourself using it...

    gaycmeguy: You have lost religion in a very painful way. I basically never had it so didn't have to suffer through the guilt and ostracism. I think it is pretty clear that prayer doesn't work. So god either doesn't care, or isn't there (that should be a bumper sticker).It's weird, most of my best friends are either religious or liberals, both of which I don't understand - but I don't discount them or their humanity because of it. BTW, 911 is really hot. I've seen him naked.

  68. no dude. theology does provide an answer. you may disagree but it is an answer. God it eternal. that's the rumor. omnipotent and omniscient. has always been and will always be.

    obviously i think there are many problems with atheism. you must accept that the universe has always been here or came about in some way that science might explain some day based on faith. in this regard we are similar.

    BUT, i believe God is the author of reason (not beyond reason... for instance he can't do the intrinsically impossible, like make 2+2=5 or black be white) and that the universe was created by him and that our ability to reason is grounded in fact, grounded in the perfection of the divine. however, my point is that if you believe the processes which occured to get us here are the result of a 'big bang' and random mutations then we have no foundation on which to believe that our ability to reason is not flawed at its core (as it is if it's merely the result of happenstance and luck).

    am i missing something? i am not suggesting that we abandon reason to believe in God. i say that if by reasoning we can disprove his existence then i'm an atheist too and if i have to suspend reason to believe then God does not exist.

  69. Etotheipia:
    You literally just made me LOL, with your last 2 sentences. Loud enough that my assistant poked his head inside my office door to find out what was so funny. As we're talking about evidence vs. faith, I can't just take it on faith that 911 is really hot. I need some evidence.
    Another bood title I just saw this week is, "Nothing: Something to Beleive In", (I forget the author). But essentially is the converse of my experience, and akin to yours, E. It's by a woman who grew up without a religious foundation, and trying to figure out if she believes in a god or not. (At least that the jist from the few blurbs I read.) All these books I keep adding to my reading pile/list--when am I going to get it done? Given the potential gay bashing of Lewis, Dawkins and Hitchen are the front runners.
    Has anyone reading seen Julia Sweeney's latest one woman show about how she's gone from a being a strong Catholic to Atheist? She was actually here last year, and I was out of town when she played here. It's a follow-up to her, "And God say "ha", about her brother's cancer dx and subsequent death, with her cancer dx happening in between. I keep hoping it will be made into video. I haven't found anyone locally who saw it. I'd really like to hear/see it.
    People (well meaning) have told me over and over that I have the
    Job Syndrom" (long O, as in the bible), because of some of the weird shit that has befallen me (that has nothing to do with being gay). If there is a god, and all of it has been part of some bigger test, well then I flunked, because all it has done has make me question the existance of a god.
    911, I'm not discounting your argument(s), but E's is, I must say more compelling. Yes, I've lost my religion, which make the REM song rather poingnant for me.
    Non-sequitor, 911--You like ABBA and you're NOT gay?!? That's almost more confounding than the christianity stance!
    E--as most people will cite the church/their religion as their moral compass, having grown up without the church, what would you say your sense of morals and ethics come from, especially younger/growing up?

  70. " God it eternal. that's the rumor. omnipotent and omniscient. has always been and will always be."
    This gets back to my earlier post. It can't be both ways. Omnipotent & omniscient with the evil/bad in the world. If god is O&O, then s/he is choosing to save/cure this patient from CA, while that patient in the next bed, has metasticized. Did one pray more or pray better? Either a god is in control or there is randomness. It's not ala carte from one moment to the next.

  71. don't hate me b/c i'm hot.

    ETOTHEIPI get's his morals from south park, cartman especially, basically, he does what he wants.

  72. dear gaycmeguy,

    if God wanted to create a perfect world without sin then he certainly could but then we would merely be robots.

    this issue you raise can also be stated this way, "if God is good and all powerful then the fact that there is evil means that he is either not good or not omnipotent or both (or doesn't exist)."

    i repeat myself, man has free will to choose whatever he wants to do. evil and death and disease are, according to Christianity, a result of original sin... garden of eden etc...

    sounds like a fairy tale right? as to why God would create creatures with free will rather than robots i guess you will just have to ask him. the Bible is not silent on this issue nor are any of the world's religions, but the Christian answer, i believe, i have stated but again i am neither a theologian, priest, or minister.

    the amazing thing, given the millenia of pain and war and death and disease that humans have experienced is that the majority of the world (whether Christian or not) still believe in a benevolent God.

  73. It takes a lot for me to hate someone--present adminstration excepted. And, evidence of reputed hotness has yet to be received. ;)

    Man--> free will--> sinner does NOT make the case for the O&O god.
    911, when you pray, how do you and what do you pray for? And, what do you think constitutes evidence of these prayers being answered? (Again, not trying to be snarky, but genuine questions.) The thing I hate about written word is that vocal tone & inflection are missing, so, the reader may perceive something very different from the writer's intent.

  74. dear gaycmeguy,

    i think you have some great questions that i am unable to answer. this post started with me and ETOTHEIPI arguing about hitchen's new book. i said at that time that we could argue ourselves blue in the face and at the end we would still be faced with a choice on whether to have faith in a naturalistic explanation for the universe (atheistic) or a theological one. i am not trying to make the case for an O and O God because the way to make this case is really begging the question of whether the universe was created by an intelligent being or not. i will point out to you though, that you seem to be very angry at God if he exists and that you have a very strong sense of right and wrong. lewis would argue that this sense of right and wrong comes from God and ETOTHEIPI would argue it evolved.

    i pray all the time and i don't ask for money or specific actions or proof. i do pray to help collect my thoughts and yes i believe many of my prayers have been answered but no, i do not think of prayer like writing a letter to santa claus. i do believe prayer changes things and it has changed me. psychological trick? maybe? God? that's my belief.


  75. Interesting observations, 911. It has taken me aback and forced me to rethink--which is a good thing, and make me appreciate this string. So, thanks for the jolts.
    I don't think prayer should be a santa's list of external things one wants. Asking for a well functioning body and mind to me should be answerable prayers from an O&O, just god.
    I would easily and readily admit to being extremely pissed off at the "C"hurch. I'm pissed at people in high levels of power and authority who perpetrate their evil in the name of or under the auspices of god.
    If you've ever watched Inside the Actor's Studio, the host, James Lipton, always ends with Bernard Pivot's {sp} questionnaire, including, "If there is a heaven, what do you want god to say to you when you meet at the pearly gate?" My answer to that question is that I'd want to hear from god, "Sit-down, it's going to be a long while, I've got a lot of 'splainin' to do."
    I have seen too many godly (my term) good people continuously get f#cked by the universe-- People doing what most would consider 'god's work'. Which brings me back to the unanswerable question, Randomness or and O&O god? For the record, I don't count myself among the godly people, but I want answers/reasons for the shit I've waded through.
    So, if I were to believe in a god again, yes, I guess I'd have to conceed that I'm incredibly pissed.
    So, 911, just how hot are you?!

  76. i'm glad to have sparked some interest for you in the most important question we can ask.

    i'm not so hot, but hot enough for my wife i guess. ETOTHEIPI, though, if i was gay, he's HOT. picture ben affleck with curly blond hair and smooth supple buttocks... but i digres..


  77. Well, at least now I can LOL at home without causing my staff to question. And, your answer is a cop out. If as you say, 'I'm not so hot", you are inferring that your wife has no taste. Do you really want to make that statement?
    As, by your own admission, you are not a 'practicing' christian, why is it important for you to maintain the title and/or belief system?
    Curly blond haired Ben Afleck, huh? But what about a hairy chest? I like my men furry.

  78. dear cmeguy,
    wow this is really gay! i'm not hot. i'm tall and athletic and could lose 20 pounds. ETOTHEIPI is cut, brotha! he's got, like, 2% body fat which does make his tiny penis look a lot bigger.... i hear....

    as to 'maintaining my belief system' i think you may have seen too many televangelists or talked to too many people who are, perhaps, not really representing what my man lewis would call 'mere Christianity'. to me Christianity is both hard and easy, liberating and constricting, and puzzling yet rational. you get my point. very simply. i believe Christ is the son of the one true God and that he dies for our sins and that since i acknowledge him in this regard that my sins are forgiven. Judaism and Islam are, to me, belief systems based on adherence to a strict set of rules. by following Christ we are justified apart from any law. of course then there's the issue of 'lip service' but the tree shall be known by the fruit it bears. i believe that to be true apart from the whole discussion of God, watch what people do, not what they say.

    great in theory. tough in practice. i do find that seeking to emulate Christ pushes me in directions i would not have chosen if i followed, say, cartman, who really is a good approximation of selfishness incarnate, but i don't think any of us get this right on this side of death.

  79. obtw gaycmeguy,
    ETOTHEIPI shaves his chest and other regions. he says it's for athletic competition or something.

  80. Dear hotty 911 doc
    Televangelist? I avoid them. If you think I'm angry now, you DON'T want to be around me when I've heard/seen one of those asswipe reprobates brandishing their brand of hatemongering christianity.
    I would say the majority of people who identify as christian, occasionally may talk the talk, but rarely walk the walk. I think people use the words religious and spiritual as synonyms and they are not. I would call myself a spiritual person, but not religious--and PROUDLY. The religious right are neither. I don't think my question is unreasonable. You are a non-practicing christian. If it's so important to informing who you are, as a person on this earth, why aren't you an active partipatory christian? I don't know who originated this thought--"All it takes for evil to persist is for good people to do nothing." This is why we have that imbicel asswipe in the white house--(2 freaking times!) good people were too god-damned lazy and/or apathetic to go out and vote--well that and the morally corrupt supreme court, but I digress. The reason the religious right wing nuts have control is because the good sensible christians are too lazy/apathetic to stand up and say to the Jerry Falwells (may he rot in hell), Pat Robertsons, James Dobsons, Popes, etc, "Shut the fuck up and quit speaking for all of christianity!" Good people doing nothing.
    Now, having said that, I DO know people who walk the walk, live their faith, and are genuine. Some of the people alluded to in an earlier post who have received the shit end of the luck stick. They've maintained their faiths. I'm the first to admit, they are better humans than I. I make no pretense that I am in their league. You're right, I am pissed at god-if he exists. It's late, I'm rambling. Riddle me this 911, if your faith is important to you, why isn't it important enough to be active?
    In your view of heaven, are jews and muslims, hindus, budhists, wiccans, etc. there? Athiests? Or is it just christians? And, if just christians, do mormons qualify?
    IF I try to live my life by the standard of the golden rule, yet don't believe in a god, am I there or am I in hell. What about the mass murderer rapists, who accepts jesus on his deathbed? I want your gut feeling response, not 'it's not for me to judge' response. What do you honestly think?

  81. obtw 911:
    If Etotheipi shaves his chest and pubes, I'm more likely to stalk you. And don't worry, I'm not a size queen...

  82. dear gaycmeguy,

    there's not much you could have said to get ETOTHEIPI and i on the same page here but you just got us together. you see, if you read even a few of the posts on this site, which mostly have to do with medicine, you will see that we are all conservatives here. we all voted for W and would again (barring the resurrection of Ronald Reagan), and all believe in an America where individual freedom trumps group rights and there is mobility between the classes. in terms of reaching these goals we are squarely on the libertarian/republican side. besides, you do, in fact, have a religion (liberalism), a devil (dick cheney or george bush), and a god (mother earth). 'tolerance' is your mantra but it does not extend, unless i am mistaken, to conservatives like Bush.

    to answer your second question i'm afraid i have to give the answer that you are looking for which is, that, as Christ said, "I am the Way and the Truth and the Light... no one comes to the Father but through me." though it does not make me happy and certainly does not make my religion more palatable i believe that the New Testament teaches that those who reject Christ are doomed to hell. there's just no soft peddling that one.

    all the rest of your questions about accepting Jesus on your deathbed etc... are quite common ones designed to end a discussion for who, after all, would really say that accepting Jesus on your deathbed after a lifetime of rape and murder would "count" for salvation. the question could better be stated as "can i just do what i want for a while and fool God at the end?" well, no you can't. what about a sincere repentance at the end? i believe that is a different question and was answered on Calvary by the thief who confessed Christ and Christ's response to him.

    gaycmeguy. if you want answers to your honest questions about Christianity i do recommend that you read 'mere Christianity' as almost all the questions you ask are addressed there. also, as cs lewis himself would say, there is no substitute for reading the Word of God.

    if you want to better understand where the authors of this blog are politically then understand that I am a veteran with friends currently deployed in iraq and afghanistan all of whom believe we are fighting the right war at the right time in the right place against a dangerous enemy. one of my best friends has deployed about ten times and has probably killed a few hundred insurgents. i wish he could kill them all and don't believe this is at all inconsistent with my Christianity (not because they are muslim but because they are murderers and would, if they could, kill you in an instant SPECIFICALLY because you are gay and an atheist).

    and obtw, all of us love ann coulter and think she's hot.

    have a great day.

  83. Dear 911 doc:--r u more McDreamy or McSteamy? just curious.
    AAHHHHGGGGGG!! Ann Coulter?!! I'm melting! She is evil incarnate.
    Et tu ETOTHEIPI?!?
    I guess I am a 'miracle worker' of sorts, if I brought you and ETOTHEIPI to agreement. Call me Anne Sullivan. YOu know what they say, 'nothing brings disagreeing people together faster than a common enemy.' Although, I hope you view as more of a mild adversary than out and out enemy. (no pun intended)

    I have a step-nephew currently in his 4th deployment in Iraq. So, I have a personal connection to this war as well. I am not a veteran. I graduated HS (& turned 18) in '79, the year after 18 y/o men had to start registering for selective service again in case the draft was to be re-instated, as the Iranian crises was in process. I registered, but I registered as a concientious objector.--Not because I'm a pussy. But because I was (and am) a pacifist. At that point in my life, religion and the church were very much a part of my identity. An ironic/interesting aside, the last physical fight I've had was in 4th grade, when one of my classmates claimed that he was a better christian than my minister. Even my personal wars were over religious beliefs.
    In high school, he was one of my closest friends. He was going to be a physician, but scrapped that to become a missionary in France. I've always thought 'what a waste' because he'd have been a great physician.
    Way back then, (at 18) I was so deeply entrenched in the closet, I wasn't even out to myself, and deeply in denial, so had I been called up, the gay factor would not have been an issue. I would not have fled to Canada.
    When W was appointed to office by the Supreme Court, was I happy? No? Did I immediately, automatically dismiss him? NO. He gave his speach about being the president of ALL the people and 'healing the divided nation". Which, in retrospect ended up being the beginning of the volumes of bullshit that exits his mouth. He appointed Colin Powell, which gave me some hope. Then he ignored everything Powell said.
    Why has Powell been mysteriously absent and non-vocal since his departure? As a retired military person,I think he's struggle between his loyalty to W and to the country. W obviously won.
    W doesn't want advisors. He wants yes men/women. Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. Where is the original enemy Bin Laden? Oh, nobody knows, because we're in Iraq and Afganistan. Iraq has been, from the beginnig nothing but retaliation for W's daddy, and about oil. A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to hear a lecture
    by Fred Burkle, MD, who was the Deputy Assistant Administrator, Bureau for Global Health, USAID-Sr. Medical Officer for Iraq Disaster.../Interim Minsiter of Health for Iraq. He's a Viet Nam war veteran, Because he refused to be a yes man, he dared to say 'the king has no clothes', he was canned and replaced by some lackey friend of Jeb Bush's, who was not a physician, but a social worker, with no military, nor tactical experience. This war has been one big cluster fuck after another. W is too arogant to listen to anything/one that doesn't agree with him. This country looks more Fascist than democracy under W.-- Habeas Corpus? Who needs it? Search and Seizure? Why not? Illegal wire tapping--Sure. Geneva conventions no toturing in wartime. We can ignore that because we call ourselves liberators, not warriors, so we can throw out Genena Conventions.
    How does this not scare the bejesus out of you?! One of the comments Burkle said that sent shivers up my spine was, "Never have I seen such governmental censureship since WWII Germany under Hitler." The fact that we've lost most of our international allies should be a red flag. If Bill Clinton had done a fraction of the crap W has pulled, he'd have been drawn and quartered. None of our armed forces nor innocent civilians have lost their lives because Bill Clinton got a blowjob from an intern. I can forgive someone voting for W the first time. But to repeat the mistake? That I can't forgive. History is going to show that W was the worst president in our nation's history and this the worst period. (It already does.)
    Are you familiar with the parody weekly newspaper "The Onion". The week after the first election results were decided by the Supreme Court, it's headline was, "Our National Nightmare of Peace and Prosperity is Finally Over". It was meant to be funny. Who knew it was prophetic?
    I am much more middle of the road liberal than far Left, than what you would think. Atheist--I'm somewhere between atheist and agnostic at this point in my life. I don't believe in an O&O god. But I'm willing to be convinced of the existence of something. I guess that's part of the reason I'm engaged in this discourse. Somebody give me SOMETHING to believe in.
    IF there is a heaven, I think a lot of christians are going to be surprised to find that they are sharing it with jews, muslims, hindu, budhists, etc. I think everyone is praying to and worshiping the same god, just calling him by different names, using different avenues to access god.
    I WILL do the recommended reading. But I still would like to know your thoughts (not Lewis') as to why you are not an active christian when it's so important to who you are and informs your life views? (again, no snarkiness intended.) Do you have children? If so, how do you teach your religion/ beliefs to them?

    Here's another ironic twist that will probably bring a chuckle to you. I have the grave misfortune of sharing a birthday with Ronald Regan. Lincoln is my hero...only six more days and I could have shared a BD with him.

    I guess we could all meet at a cocktail or dinner party now. We've discussed religion, sex, and politics, the triumverate of taboo topics.
    Im off to the gym.

    obtw, any imaginary wood I may have had for you and/or ETOTHEIPI immediately went away with the ann coulter reference and learning your voting record. No stalking in your futures. You're safe. ;)

  84. dear gaycmeguy,

    well we can still be friendly though i must admit that i had to quit reading halfway through your last post as i've really heard it all before and i got this image of you typing away whilst wearing a hat made of tin-foil. we are just so out of synch. the only thing i can say to you is that if you think we live in 'fascist' times or in a 'fascist' country or under a 'fascist' government then we just have a fundamental disagreement about the nature of fascism.

    you are clearly full of passion about right and wrong and if we can agree on one thing it might be that they exist though none of us humans has a monopoly on it.

    i hope i have encouraged you to read a bit of lewis, by my way of thinking he makes the clearest and simplest case for Christianity.

    it sure has been fun chatting with you and be sure to keep checking in if you dig the medical stuff.

    God bless.

  85. Wow. I leave for a weekend and you guys go off the fucking rails. I guess I'll sign off from this string too. Good stuff.

  86. I'm Back MFers!

    Now - 911: I want to hear your take on Collins' book. One comment I have is that he, like many other christian defenders, seems quite taken aback by the concept of anyone challenging faith. This is similar to the name-calling I hear over and over where anyone who writes anything pro-atheist is labelled an "aggresive atheist", i.e. an atheist is just out to stomp beleivers because he's angry at the world. Challenging someone's belief is not necessarily an attack. For me, it's simply a way to understand the other person, and maybe get challenged back myself, which helps me strengthen or maybe even change my convictions. To me, this attitude of the christian defenders belies their own insecurities and doubts about their own beliefs.

    oh yeah, I kick ass.


    did you quote kid rock's 'early mornin' stone cold pimp' on purpose to open your comment or was it just happy coincidence?

    i think i'll only nip at this one right now because i read collins 6 months ago or so and want to get another look.

    i agree that the first half of the book is a paraphrase and requote of cs lewis and i think the reson for this is that, from my side of the view and evidently from his side as well, there's a lot in this discussion that has to do with philosophy and things unseen and things that can't be empirically tested (love, happiness, the existence of the soul etc...) so lewis manages to present this side of the equation in a manner that many have appreciated and hence collins use of him.

    obtw, you remind me of an earlier comment on the 'test' of the efficacy of prayer. i hope you can understand the ridiculousness, if we can agree to view this question holding temporarily in your brain the possible of a supreme-being-creator, of the created being 'testing' the creator. but i digress.

    as far as his trying to mingle his in depth genetic knowledge with the 'intelligent design' Christian view i think he is nothing but fair. i, formerly quite enamored of the 'cosmic watchmaker' analogy and the argument about irreducible complexity was a bit bummed that he sees those as dead-ends for defenders of the Faith but i like how he got to what i think was his conclusion (again, have to read again) which was that a belief in science and the scientific method is not mutually exclusive with theism, and, in specific, Christianity.

    as to your last question about Christians feeling 'attacked' i'll think on that one too. it's not as if the Faith has not been attacked throughout history from it's inception during the roman empire and forward, it's not as if there aren't hundreds if not thousands of Christian martyrs, it's not as if the crusades didn't happen (much to the shame of those that claimed to represent Christ) with the subsequent moorish takeover of much of southern europe, etc... not trying to be pedantic, just on a roll after a day with the kiddos by myself and about 5 cups of java...

    i think though that you can not call dawkins anything but extremely aggressive in his atheism and extremely derogatory of anyone who believes in a supernatural being. also, from the title of hitchen's book how can you not call it an 'attack'?

    combine this with a real fear of the far left from both believing conservative/libertarians and those like yourself, and i think you have the mixture for a lot of fear and an impulse to marshall the forces to oppose what is seen by you as a creep towards communism, and is seen by folks like me also as a creep towards communism, but also, on a deeper level, a creep away from the importance of the eternal soul in favor of the importance of the group-du-jour.

    ha, said i would have to keep it short didn't i? i fucking rock.

  88. I was not quoting Kid Rock, just serendipity... but I will here:

    "I am happy to make money. I want to make more money, make more music, eat Big Macs and drink Budweisers" - KR

    "How am I different from the Beastie Boys? Maybe I'm a little more into melody than they are, and I'm way more simple." -KR


    Your point about 'testing' the creator is well-taken and has merit. the main issue I have here is that IF the test came out to favor the effectiveness of prayer, you and I both know that this would NOT be discounted by the faithful - hence you (and I) would accept this as a legitimate test of the creator. You can't have it both ways...

    On another subject - we both know alot of the history: christians, jews, muslims AND atheists have been, and continue to be in certain settings, persecuted. This is not news. The point is that in 2007 in the USA, it is sort of pathetic to whine about an 'attack' on religion by pro-atheist factions. I think Dawkins and Hitchens, although sometimes hyperbolic for effect, are no different in their "aggresive" defence of atheism then are christians or others in their "aggresive" defence of their beliefs. Collins, Lewis, Dawkins etc. all can be accused of disdain for people who disagree with their positions. I think these accusations are a cop-out and are childish ("mommy, dickie dawkins is being mean to me!")... The defences offered by all of these authors are well-thought out, admittedly sometimes harsh to the opposition, but need to be read for their merits and not dismissed for aggresiveness. It is extremely unfair to label an author's writings as "derogatory" without actually reading the book (not just isolated quotes taken out of context).

    Also: I'm a bit lost in the logic of your last paragraph... plese expand. (not being sarcastic).

    One last quote: "Bitches leave!" -Robocop

  89. i take southern rock, and i mix it with the hip-hop, and (do something with) the punk rock, (something about fort knox), (something) FOREVER! FOREVER!- KR

    what i mean in the last paragraph is that as a Christian or any believer in the eternal soul your politics is colored by it because you believe that the individual is a special creation and therefore of inestimable importance. on the contrary, if you believe that everyone is just a meat-sack here because of an impersonal big bang (nice pun not originally intended) and the random workings of mutations and that all there is is this life then you would tend to care more about doing the best for yourself and your group. it's not a long step then to start seeing humans as having worth in other terms and more in terms of numbers. then communism and infanticide and rule by might are at least all reasonable stances. this is why the "Christian right" sees moves away from the "In God We Trust" stuff and crosses on federal property etc... as well as the teaching of evolution as fact as dangerous. now, i'm not defending creationists here, i'm just telling you why i think they get so exorcised about their kids being indoctrinated, again, not so much with evolutionary theory, but with groupthink and all the wacky stuff coming from the left.

    we can at least agree that the wacky stuff, evolution excepted, tends to de-emphasize individual responsibility and emphasize compassion and diversity and gender equality and all that shit.

    kid rock, tommy lee, new guy married to pam anderson, and me. what do we have in common?

  90. You have all either rubbed one out onto, or at least onto the image of, Pam. You: the latter. And stop implying that you have a donkey-dick; it's an insult to donkeys.

    I agree with what you are saying (although as I read it I'm going to myself "blah, blah, blah...") about multiculturalism, groupthink, diversity etc. These are the tools of the relativists that are pure evil. But this is beside the point. Your false assumption is that atheism = nihilism. This can certainly be the case, but I, and basically all the other reasonable atheists, would argue for humanist atheism. This belief accepts the so-called "moral law" (there is an intrinsic right and wrong - not necessarily put in us by a creator, but instead arived at through reason. The religious argue that the presence of the moral law is proof of god - this is probably Collins' main argument of 'evidence' of god. I disagree. I'm right. Always.) Being a good person is, at its core, following 'the golden rule' - this is completely in line with humanist atheism. Atheists will not degrade the country to a state of communism and acceptance of baby-killers. One of the smartest thing the founders did was separate the church and state - what DOES threaten the country (AND the church, BTW) is to impose a specific religious doctrine onto the population. Kids should NOT be indocrinated to ANY religious, multicultural or other ideology. The bible can be taught in churches. The state should not interfere with this, nor should it be required to inject ANY religious teaching into public schools. I think we agree on this (???) maybe...

  91. no, the answer is that i kissed her on the cheek in a very public forum and she was devastated to find that i was married. i've got witnesses bitch. THEN i rubbed one out in private.

    we agree otherwise though i think we would come back to disagree that the 'reasonable atheists' or 'secular humanists' as they are also called have not convinced me, nor can they ever, that a random process can evolve altruistic behavior.

    now, i know that you are screaming right now that there are numerous examples of evolved altruism in the animal community even on the level of ants but here's my problem, and again, this is from my reading, not something i got to myself.

    it's easy to understand an instinctual reaction to wanting to defend family or community, but what is it, and how is it, that if you were, say, in an apartment out on fire island with your friend, and you heard, in the distance, the sound of a woman being assaulted and raped, that you would feel (maybe you wouldn't) that you SHOULD do something to help? here you are deriving no benefit to yourself or family or community (since you live in provincetown) but you have an urge to go to her aid. once we get into the 'should' and 'ought' thing then i think my side has a stronger case.

    in terms of incoctrination in school etc... i agree but since a general teaching about the Bible and all other books of faith is fine, AND i think a knowledge of the Bible is critical to understanding our western heritage. otherwise i agree in separation of church and state but you know of course that the constitution does not mandate a 'separation of church and state' (it's a jefferson quote in a later document) but rather it says, " Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . ."

    "The phrase separation of church and state is generally traced to a letter written by Thomas Jefferson in 1802 to the Danbury Baptists, in which he referred to the First Amendment of the United States Constitution as creating a "wall of separation" between church and state." (wikipedia)

    so i think we mostly agree on this. if you had a better knowledge of the Bible you wouldn't be so gay.

  92. first let me clear this up: I live in San Francisco, vacation in Provincetown, day-trip to fire island and pilgimage to Mykonos. Got it?

    Also I saw those pictures of you and Pam. It looked sort of like she had just done a tequila shot and was about to retch when she was hugging you. Oh yeah, then I rubbed one out to the picture by photoshopping Jenna Bush (is she the fat one?) over your face. Hot.

    Now. Let's talk "agape". This is the type of truly selfless altruism that you claim cannot possibly have evolved. We definitely differ here, although I admit this is a challenging issue for some atheists (like pain / suffering for some christians). Here's my take (read slowly, some words may be big):

    1. we both agree altruism of some sort CAN evolve (we see it in some animals etc...)

    2. the power of evolution to create mind-boggling complexity is, I believe, beyond doubt. (Collins admits as much in his book and actually gives one of the best anti-intell. design arguments I have read).

    3. It is at least conceivable that complex behavior (like complex structures, e.g. the eye) that we don't fully understand, or can at first blush seem extremely improbable in the absence of a designer, can evolve.

    4. We could stop here and say that agape is simply very complex altruism that has evolved and is simply beyond our present understanding to completely explain - this, although a reasonable explanation, is obviously very unsatisfying and helps neither argument.

    5. Evolution can have side effects. What I mean is that, to take a completely random example, when one jerks-off to a picture of a celebrity with another celebrity photoshopped onto some dude who was hugging / molesting her, we are defying evolution. That is, 'spanking the monkey' "evolved" because the actual purpose of an orgasm being pleasurable is for procreation. 'Flogging the bishop' is a side effect of this.

    6. Can agape be a side effect of evolved altruism? Why not? We accept that certain altruism may have evolved. We accept that INTENDED consequences of evolution can have unintended side effects. So, I have evolved a general sense that it is a good survival strategy to help those around me. When the girl is being raped this evolved instinct kicks in and I feel like I SHOULD help her, even though at first it seems as if this is totally against a basic survival instinct.

    7. Let me also say that alot of people would NOT feel that they SHOULD help the rape victim. 'It's not my problem, I don't want to get involved' - how the fuck is THIS consistent with god???
    ("it's free will, whaaa, whaa, I'm 911, fuck my ass")

    I certainly recognize that the "agape from evolution" argument is hard to swallow for alot of people because they are unwilling to accept that these behaviors can evolve - it implies to these people that we ARE just 'meat-sack' robots. Well, if you want to label humans 'meat-sacks' in the absence of a creator then go ahead. I think this is infantile. To somehow think that the ONLY way to find meaning in life is to accept god is pathetic. This implies that deists hold a monopoly on truth (a truth that is by definition unknowable) and that THEIR version of reality is the only path to meaning. It's doubly offensive to me that those who claim to know truth state that because I don't agree with them, that I will burn in hell for eternity. This is childish.

    Why am I so brilliant? OK, so that IS proof of god.

  93. we agree but please do not mischaracterize my stance. i have always maintained that your argument was reasonable and that your stance was likewise reasonable. if i'm not mistaken it's been me trying to convince you that my stance was also at least 'reasonable'.

    i do not think that the 'only way to find meaning in life is through God' nor do i remember having made that claim.

    obtw, 'meat-sack' is a term from one of my favorite movies, the first men in black, the intrastellar cockroach dude kept calling will smith's character 'meat sack'.

    also, i find you slipping, just a little bit, into talking about 'evolution' like it has a purpose, or a 'meaning' behind it... i'm sure just a freudian thing, and i quote...

    "Can agape be a side effect of evolved altruism? Why not? We accept that certain altruism may have evolved. We accept that INTENDED consequences of evolution can have unintended side effects."

    now how can evolution have any 'intended' consequences? it's the result of random mutations, millions of which are deleterious and a few of which are helpful, and the subsequent selection advantage conferred to the ant, or worm, or beetle, or man, or plant.

    see, i think you, at bottom, see order from the madness just like i do. one can not talk of 'intended' or 'unintended' consequences of evolution, one, properly, may only talk about the actual result of evolution.

    suck it hard bitch.

  94. ... and i agree that many would not help the theoretical rape victim above, my point is that whether they did or not they would all feel the need to excuse their lack of assistance to her.

  95. yo, beeeatch:

    what I intended when using the words intended and unintended was intended to illustate an intended point vividly - my unintended meaning was that there is intended evolution. anyway...

    when I say "intended" consequences of evolution, what I mean is that evolution is driven by the principle of 'survival of the fittest' (the fittest species, or, as dawkins argues, the fittest genes). Therefore the "intent" of evolution is to produce fit stuff. Wanting to bang tons of chicks helps this process; "polishing the dolphin" does NOT. THIS is an "unintended" consequence. My word choice I guess was not ideal. Just like you to be a pedantic fuck. Don't EVER question my genius!!!

    BTW, I have, like, a huge meat-sack, and stuff.

    I really am not trying to mischaracterize YOUR stance. I think you are totally reasonable and that is why I can exchange ideas via this string with you - your faith that you describe comes through a rational approach to the ultimate questions. Yes. I DO think your stance is reasonable. But I also think it is absolutely true that there are a large number of christians who REALLY think that the only way to find meaning is through god AND that if I don't agree with them then I burn in hell. THAT is definitely not a mischaracterization of a large number of people and THIS is the point of view that bothers me.

    Also, you are (for once) correct, I DO see order in the madness like you. I just think its source is different. But order does not imply god. I certainly don't worship at the altar of evolution, but I think it is a very powerful theory that really explains complex behavior. And BTW, you didn't really comment on my brilliant evolutionary explanation for agape. Remember when you respond that Marilyn Vos Savant is like semi-retarded relative to me, so try to be coherent.

  96. when you said 'agape love' i thought you were talking about the centerfold in hustler as in, "wow that chick's legs sure are 'agape' allowing me to fully visulaize her genitals!" my fault, you were referring to the greek 'agape' i guess...

    i think you would really like 'the problem of pain' in at least it's first part. i'm reading it again now.

    i do not deny that there are a lot of wacky Christians out there. except benny hinn, he's a great ambassador for Christ... oh, and the dude at oral roberts u., and jim bakker, and tammy faye etc...

    Mormons, to me, are truly wacky for many reasons, most shown very funnily on 'south park'. Mormons do, by comparison to some folks i know, come off, as a group, much more reasonably though.

    of course, your complaint about 'some Christians' being off-putting is like saying all new england fans are cheaters because their coach is. i don't think they are ALL cheaters, only like, MOST of them. one of my favorite bumper stickers says, "Jesus, protect me from your followers.'

    this is another reason i like lewis so much as he does not soft-peddle the sins committed in Christ's name and, in fact, lists many of them and bemoans them. i certainly have come into contact with many of the people of whom you speak and it's probably the main reason i do not attend church regularly.

    interestingly, this exchange has been revelatory to me in a few ways, mainly in that i feel much more kinship with you than with most folks who profess belief as the one's i tend to rub shoulders with tend to be very evaqelical, which is fine, but if you are going to be evangelical you need to know history, know the Bible, and be prepared to have conversations like this without making the other person run away. tossing out the 'you are going to hell' line can't be the best way to proselytize (sp?) but it sure was interseting to see the churches crammed-full after 9-11.

    that being said, and again i am paraphrasing from 'the problem of pain', i think you can not believe in Christ and Christianity without believing in heaven AND hell. i know Christians are fond of saying that we are saved by faith alone, not actions, by God's grace, implying that it is some strange combination of grace from God and decision on our part, and i agree with this. at the same time i DO NOT BELIEVE that simply saying the words is some kind of magic spell and that you can then do as you please.

    this troubles me greatly because i commit some kind of sin, i don't know, every few seconds or so and trying harder to not sin just doesn't do much.

    nevertheless, i do believe that souls are consigned to hell by the Almighty and i think i could end up being one of them.

    as Paul says in Philippians 2:12-16:

    "Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain."

    the tree shall be known by it's fruit etc... confusing to me. lewis would point out that a question to consider in this light is not what kind of person Christian X or Christian Y is, rather, what kind of person would they be if they were not Chrisian. i think that's fair and just because you and your family are all that and a bag of chips without Christ doesn't make you the shizzle or anything. you could, perhaps, be the fo-shizzle ma-nizzle with Christ and not have to go the hell and all that... hahaha.

    also, if one accepts Christianity one must also deal with the exclusivity claims of Christ:

    In John 14:6 Jesus said, "I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."

    this is a tough nut as the more you learn the more you realize you have to learn so hearing someone make an exclusivity claim is disturbing. too big a can to open here, lewis does deal with the objections that are commonly brought to this claim much better than i could. i have to feel that an honest rejection of the gospel after full consideration counts for something but since i'm not the creator i can't know this. i have to feel that a pygmy in new guinea, never having heard about Christ and worshipping a coconut will have some dispensation made but i'm not the creator and i can't know this either and that's not what i read in the Bible. tough.

    finally, and i know you will have an answer that i think i can guess to this, a question or two. if natural selection brings order from chaos, and increasing complexity from less complex systems and beings, how does this comport with the second law of thermodynamics? i guess your answer will be that a whole ton of energey gets pumped in to the equation and that the law is preserved. if, however, this is your answer, then it seems to me that the second law gives the univers a direction, ie toward entropy and collapse, and if so, based on everything else we know about our world, it must have had a point of maximum energy, or, a beginning- the big bang or creation. so, if there was a big bang, and i understand that this is a completely separate issue from evolution and tied only through the second law, wouldn't there, by necessity, have to be a 'big banger'(i'm not talking about dee snyder or angus young)? if you say no then you are talking about a singularity just like i am in Christ.

    anyhoo, got the university of new jersey scarlet knights playing the south florida bulls on the tv right now. usf is number two right now so is destined to lose.

  97. Is 'worshipping a coconut' a euphemism for juggling your nut-sack?

    Please refrain from any references to college sports. I am so painfully uninterested in how far a bunch of mutant 18 year olds can throw a ball etc. that when someone talks about it I want to have my head crushed by a flanged mace while being stabbed with a rondel and then tossed from a trebuchet (sort of a medievel theme here)...

    The 2nd law is not violated by LOCALLY increasing order. Collins actually has a nice discussion about this. evolution does show a trend toward increasing order - so, e.g., when I build a 3-speed, rotating ass-weasel, I have increased order (turned a bunch of wires, fake rabbit fur and duct tape into a rectal-molded sex toy), but the 'increase in disorder' I put into it (driving to provincetown, trying out 'beta' versions etc...) is, by the 2nd law, more than the increase in order represented by my ass-toy. Now, draw out the analogy:

    Butt-stimulator = you
    building said object = evolution

    You have already predicted this answer. and I think you agree it is valid. So it comes down to who or what or by what process did the INTITIAL maximum state of order arrive (i think this is your question...).

    Certainly, GOD is one possible answer. The arguments against this guess are numerous (if god created order then who created god? (the infinite regress argument); the universe has always been / 'time' itself was created at the singularity so there is not real 'always'; etc etc...). The real answer is that nobody knows and maybe this is unknowable - i ceratinly think it is at least conceivable that we can some day know the answer (and this might be god revealing himself in an unequivocal way to us all; something that has definitely NOT happened to me).

    Again, my experiences, readings, reason and gut-instinct (whatever that is) tell me that there is no god. I don't, however, reject the possibility (if that prayer study WORKED, I would seriously question my stance). The thing I don't get is that even if I am convinced that there is a god, then why a christian god? This has never made total sense to me, although, as you said, this exchange has been revelatory in the sense that there are probably more commonalities in our philosophies than one would guess at first consideration. I totally respect your beliefs (mainly because I want to make love to your bottom) - but they just don't make logical sense TO ME (and maybe that's the issue - I would guess you might say that at some point logic is not the way to god, faith is.) Interesting. Faith for you is the answer. Faith to me is the problem.

    I'd be interested in your take on this issue: god, ok. christian god, huh? Maybe the zoroastrians have it right.

  98. I just jumped on here and have been reading some of the interchange between Eto and 911, but before I comment I guess I need to tell 8 things about myself.

    1) There are only 7 things to say about me
    2) I am funny (as implied in item #1, but I didn't know if the instructions meant to include implied items as part of the 8 items, therefore I am explicitly stating what was heretofore implied)
    3) I lied in the 1st item there are really only 6 things to say about me
    4) I am a god (I am not kidding)
    5) I created at least one universe and have had a hand in creating a few others (still not kidding)
    6) I seek truth
    7) I seek to illuminate truth when it is found
    8) I forgot the 8th thing (which then became the 8th thing, thereby invalidating my comment that I forget the 8th thing)
    9) I am still funny.

    I assume when you say you are a fan of Pascal's wager, you think that is reasonable - literally, meaning it enABLEs you to REASON yourself to faith in god. Or maybe you think it is just makes good sense in that if you believe in God you have everything to gain and nothing to lose, whereas if you don't you have everything to lose and nothing to gain ergo, believe in God. Not a fake belief mind you, but once you decide to believe you must then cultivate that into a real belief. (as an aside, I have actually done this in my life, not as it relates to any god, but I actively decide to adopt a belief that I did not believe. I then set about cultivating that chosen belief which has become very real for me and to which I still adhere to this day)

    You make be a fan cuz you have not duggen (past tense of the verb to have dug) below the surface of what seems to be a lucid argument. It falls apart, however, under scrutiny.

    First off Pascal starts with the premise that "If there is a God, He is infinitely incomprehensible" therefore we are "incapable of knowing either what He is or if He is". Since we cant know, we must choose between only two choices, 1) to believe in Him or 2) not to believe in him. Pascal reasons that it is an easy choice, because if we bet against his existence we lose out on eternal happiness and if....WAIT A MINUTE... he just flew off the track. Pascal said, merely one thought ago, that god is “INFINITELY INCOMPREHENSIBLE”. How then can Pascal claim to know what God will do (reward us for belief)? HE CANT, by his own earlier admission. With that in mind, Pascal's Wager changes to…

    If we choose to believe, we don't know what God will do if he exists
    If we choose not to believe we don’t know what he will do if he exists.

    Ergo there is no possible way to divine if the benefit (assuming there is one) lies with choosing a belief in god or atheism

    The other HUGE flaw is that he is assuming there are 2 choices God vs. No God. What about the other Gods? No matter which one you choose you are almost certainly choosing wrong. Given that fact, you would be better off to withhold picking a god until the last moment of you life, since at that time you will have gathered as much info as possible to increase you chances of choosing correctly.

    Even if you did assume there was one God, (the one named Yahweh as is usually the presumption {an arrogant on in my estimation} in most discussions about gods that occur in our country) belief in the God of the bible (Yahweh) does not make one a Christian. It make one a Jew, most likely, since they believe in God only, not some supposed saviors that came along later. Once you believe in Yahweh, you must then choose one of three (major) other beliefs (Judaism, Christianity, Islam).

    So since there are thousands if not millions of Gods, by choosing a belief in a God you will almost certainly be wrong, dooming yourself, but one of the worst selections you could make is to believe in Yahweh, cuz then you have a 1/3 chance (greater if you include all the sects from Lutheranism to Sunni) of being damned even if you followed Pascal’s advice and chose to follow God (presumed to be Yahweh). Pascal, as far as I know did not wager on Jesus vs. Mohammed vs. “we are still waiting for the savior”. I'd like to know who he would bet on, and why

  99. pop euler: we must be related due to your screen name. I'm assuming from your name that you recognize the origin of my screen name. That's, like, really, like, weird, and stuff, or, like, something.

    I like your refutation of pascal's wager which plays into my last, incredibly lucid, well described and insightful question, and I quote: "god, ok. christian god, huh?".

    btw, what's the belief that you did not believe? if you don't want to say, then what did you do to convince yourself of a falsehood?

    Also, if you are a hot chick, send nude photos.

  100. Eto,

    I hesitate to admit to my lack of insight / intelligence, but I don't recognize the weirdness you mention. If my name has anything to do with yours it is purely coincidence.

    What am I missing?

    I am a hot chick. Later to day I will post nude photos of my husband. I don't know why you would want me to post photos of someone just cuz I am attractive, but…ok

    I used to believe that getting drunk was essential mildly evil. I couldn’t understand why anyone would do. It was as foreign an idea to me as “killing your own parents”, as I used to say back in the day (note that I did not equate them on their level of badness, just on the level of incomprehensibility). But I did think it was bad, and a sign of a uber weak character, among other things I wont detail. So not only did I not do it, but I could not respect anyone that did. No problem though. All my high school friends were tea-totalers. The problem occurred when I went to college. EVERYONE would drink to excess (a.k.a. get drunk) (well, except for a few weirdoes). I realized that my belief did not serve me well. It was moving me toward a self imposed exile from others, as well as turning me into a misanthrope. I wanted neither of those things. Therefore I logically conclude that I must no longer demonize drunkenness. I must pull a 180 and go from believing it is bad to believing it is good in order to improve my functioning in the world (well in the US collegiate world, which I was too naïve to differentiate form the world at the time). I went for a long walk one day. It took hours and I thought a lot, and it was intense. I was not going for a leisurely stroll. I was focused and working hard. Just as I was coming back up the hill, all the thoughts I had been have congealed in such a way that I could almost feel the new belief come over me like a wave of relief (like when take a leak you have been holding onto for a long time). It wasn’t BS – I wasn’t just saying “Its OK to get drunk”. I really had managed to alter not just any belief but a very strongly and closely held a core belief. I truly believed it to be ok now.

    The other even cooler thing that came form this was that I now believed (learned) that I could actively choose beliefs and adopt them. Powerful stuff that would make for a good conversation one day.

    Furthermore, in a nod to an earlier thread here, the idea of choosing beliefs based on how well they serve the believer I can see leading to an interesting discussion about relativism. But that is not for now. I will prime the pump however by saying that 911 said he does not believe right and wrong evolve (he discredits relativism). Well by changing my belief did I disavow what was right, and join the evil doers (in arguably he ultimate cop out of “if you cant beat em join em”). It was right FOR ME to do this at that time. But not before that. What was right (for me) did evolve. Like I said this can open up a big relativism debate that wouldn’t be right, AT THIS TIME, but will be right later (look correctness of relativism is occurring in this sentence about relativism – ergo …..there must be a God – Remember from above my item #9 of 8 “I am still funny” that is still true and right, no relativism there)


    nice extension of the metaphor with the ass-wesel. haven't seen one where i live, perhaps you can send a picture.

    can't get on board with your 'who or what created God' argument because God is the author of everthing, alwasy existing, always to exist, and existing outside of time, much as an author exists outside the world of his story.

    finally, two things. i think you and i are both practicing faith in this way. we have both explored this issue and have both come to some conclusions. neither of us has all the answers nor will we ever (if i am correct). at some point you go 'all in' with the direction your logic has led you. i see this as a created universe, you do not. the jump from the evidence we have to the conclusion we make is where i say we are excercising faith.

    as to your 'why a Christian God' question i would say that Jesus makes claims that either need to be accepted or rejected. if accepted then there's your answer (ie he claims to be the only Son of God sent to save the jews and gentiles alike from damnation and claims that his way is the only way to do this). no other religion or religious figure makes this exclusivity claim (except islam does in a way... in islam Jesus is seen as a prophet. Christians and Jews see Islam as a heresy, Islam sees Christians and Jews as 'people of the Book' and accords them some respect, but believe the Christians and Jews have got it wrong).

    and 'pop euler', you have given me lots to write about and i believe i KNOW WHO YOU ARE AMIGO!

    i'm no pascal expert but he was a Christian so i see his wager in that light. you may be right in that he proposed his wager in more mathematical terms that i think he did, ie a wager on whether one of the thousands of humanly invented gods was really THE God, but i think he was speaking of Christ.

    personally, if it weren't Christ for me, i guess i'd have to go with the aphis bull of ancient egypt as i think 'srtong like bull' would be a good motto for a religion.

    finally, re your epiphany, pop euler, i think you may have a fundamental misperception of the Christian faith. Chrisitanity is not legalistic, 'the law' was a dismal failure with the Jews and Christians say that Christ came to 'replace' the law with his sacrifice. doesnt' mean the law wasn't valid, it is, just means that no one could follow it perfectly (except Him) and this prevented salvation for anyone.

    islam is the tea-totalling religion and while i do not know anyone in any Church who would say that 'getting drunk is good' i do know that the idea with being a Chrisitan is that by emulation Christ through prayer and small changes made on a daily basis that a Christ-like character will be produced in said person. God knows we will fail. He does expect us to try. i fail all the time. if i had a turban on i guess i'd have to come to wherever you guys are and blow myself up.

  102. POP E: look up "euler's identity". not trying to be too cryptic but you will be interested.

    911: who do you think 'pop' is? obviously don't identify said person just give some sort of non-specific hint that could be interpreted as a positive ID...

    btw, I don't think we are both practicing 'faith': yes, we both, at some point, need to go 'all in' in the absence of ABSOLUTE evidence (or be a pussy fuck agnostic fag - in a good way, of course). But i'm trying to finalize my decision based on available evidence; I believe you are finalizing your decision based on a lack of evidence (ie faith)- I may be completely wrong about this in that you may have personal experiences that have convinced you of god/christ's existence or you may look on the bible as definitive evidence or believe that the 1st person accounts of Jesus' life are absolutely true and he is therefore god on earth. I DON'T accept this 'evidence' - there are way to many biblical inconsistencies, unbelievable events and historical contradictions that I can't accept it as a reliable text. on top of that, I have no personal experience of god - no revelations, miracles or supernatural occurences. So... without reliable evidence and without personal experience, how can I accept something as true?

    again, I accept that other people have different experiences and different interpretations of "sacred" texts than I do - so I don't discount your beliefs by any means. I just can't logically accept these conclusions about the absolute nature of reality. It would be sort of like dropping you in Tibet and asking you to accept Buddhism - all of your readings and experiences would be screaming at you to not accept this version of reality, even though everyone around you may believe otherwise.

    btw, is it cool or not cool when a chick sticks a finger in your ass while blowing you? THIS is an ultimate question...

  103. in order...

    i think pop euler is the kind of guy that would show up at a wedding in a kilt with no underwear and a guitar.

    yes, i do have a 'personal testimony' about Christ which adds to my confidence, a few in fact, and many experiences from my work that can be added. i think that with your work it is probably NOT something that you get to see modeled in your patients as they are, for the most part, either dead, or pieces of tissue on a slide.

    my faith is not based on a lack of evidence. once you start reading the Bible with a concordance, or, say, look at the Bible only as a kind of historical document, and you really do some digging, then i think that the 'inconsistencies' you mention largely vanish.

    now, i am no Biblical scholar and i do agree that, especially the old testament, reads much like a strange mix between a chronicle of a particular ancient race and theology, but please understand that, as mentioned previsously, Jewish and Christian scholarship exists by the ton and it was either Peter or Paul (not Mary) who stated that if Christ did not rise from the dead then we are, of all people, to be pitied.

    a tangential thought. it's easy to look as a philosophy and pick folks who claim that philosophy and beat down the philosophy because they happen to be particularly poor practitioners of said philosophy. take the other tact however, and look at the best practitioners of said philosophy.

    socrates, pre Christ, arrived, logically, at the bulk of Christian philosophy. pop euler, if i am correct about his identity, has, i believe, arrived at a sort of epicurean philosophy.

    i think this thread started after either dawkins or hitchens dissed Mother Theresa, and you may think she was crazy, but to the Christian world she exemplified the Christian life to an extent that i surely can not do.

    on the secular humanist side of the equation i am sure you can provide me with examples of 'world changers' who changed it for the good. i think today they would mostly be scientists breaking new ground and curing disease but precious few in the area of politics or government.

    also, as stated way long ago in this thread, i see myself as a 'stubborn Christian'. i have lots or warts. lewis says that a peculiarity of our age is that whether from the Christian perspective or pagan, that one thing that an evangelical type did NOT need to do was to convince people that they were flawed. now, before preaching the cure we have to preach the disease.

    that was a hard thing for me, to come to believe and understand that despite my best efforts that i would continue to do bad things. the cure is daunting, the cure is ongoing, the cure is not easy, the cure will not be complete while i live. this was also a painful realization for lewis.

    as to your lack or persoanlly experiencing revelation or miracles i am in almost your same boat though since i believe in the Almighty i do believe in miracles. i guess the closest i've come is seeing patients who have turned their lives around based on Christ. on the other side are folks who have done it without Christ.

    finally, re your example of being dropped in tibet and being asked to accept Buddhism i kind of agree. however, again lewis comes to my rescue a bit. he says that all the great world religions, and, in fact almost all cultures throughout history have an almost identical moral code. ie, there is none that celebrate murder, or theivery, or cowardice, or lying etc...

    again, Christ is unique in that he claims to be THE answer. there's the hinge. accept or not.

    as to your last paragraph, given the demeanor of this particular response, i must hesitate to comment fully, but i think you are describing 'the shocker'.

    lots more to talk about. i remain, as ever, your humble servant.

  104. Yes: 'Tis the shocker to which I refer. I'm tempted to say it's OK but think that's a little gay... need help.

    Well done on the pop euler ID... clearly he/she has a stylistic flair.
    a comment about pop's drinking revelation - very interesting. getting wasted and acting like an idiot can be a blast. a twisted logic but seemingly valid...

    now, we have to pin down this issue about being dropped in tibet. I don't quite see the validity of lewis' argument. the fact that people in general share a moral code (this is the same code that acts as probably the most significant basis of Collins' faith btw) in no way suggests to me a deity. a complete idiot with no experience of ANY religion can see the logic of a society looking down on murder / people considering murder bad (I think it is an easy jump to infer the 'golden rule' for oneself: 'I don't want to be killed, ergo murder must be bad') This requires NO RELIGION / GOD!!! Lewis' explanation is therefore invalid... I wonder what your take is.

    personal experience is a powerful thing for me. Pop Euler has had experiences that suggest to him some sort of supernatural power exists - I reject this. Not because I don't believe or trust him/her, but because my personal experiences completely contradict his 'testimony'. If I had these experiences I would rethink my position. I completely reject the notion that 'you need to be open to god / christ to make this happen'. I think it is very human to be skeptical - if we are 'created' this way then god must know our difficulties.

    as far as christ claiming to be THE answer, well, you are right, he either is or isn't. other 'prophets' have certainly made these similar claims and we all look on them as madmen. Of course there is no provable way to demonstrate that christ was right or wrong - you just have to accept the story as it is written. how can we do this when you yourself admit that the bible is flawed - it should be perfect as the word of god.

    a quick comment about trashing mother theresa - first of all, you gotta admit the concept is ripe for humor. second, it immediately intrigues you as it sounds so blatantly ridiculous. third, her iconic status makes her 'beyond criticism' - this, of course, is silly - like you would say - we are ALL flawed. so, what is hitchens argument? I'm going to have to get back to this ... gotta go....

  105. well forgive me for not being thorough. again, i am a bit out of my depth and trying to paraphrase stuff i have read months if not years ago and i did not mention lewis' example or the common moral code as an ANSWER per se to your dillemma, but, well, i guess it wasn't much of an answer.

    what i do mean is that your questios are all GREAT questions and i do not disagree with any of them in terms of validity. i have asked all the ones you have asked too.

    believe me, as you know from recent offline comms, i wish i had not come to the conslusions i have come to because it is, in many ways, contrary to many instinctual drives and seems many times to be a burden. at the same time, if what i believe is correct, than trying to emulate Christ is, in fact, the prescription for LONG TERM happiness and, ultimately, salvation.

    let's face it, if this life is all there is then i am all f'ed up and i would rather be sniffing cocaine off of hot model's asses (not really but you understand).

    i think now in our discussion would be a good time to pause and do a bit of reading. i can send you stuff that is on the web but lewis just speaks to me. so, send me whatever you would like me to read, and, in the interim, reread 'mere christianity' and read the 'problem of pain'.

    i also want to say that lewis himself cautions against reading things about Christianity in preference to reading the Bible, but, for the purposes of our current discussion i think that answers to most of your questions are in these two books AND in the Bible, but, since the Bible is an aquired taste for many lewis is my man.

    one other thing i like about lewis is his durability. his books are short, well-written, and i get more every time i read them as they have layers, like any good literature.

    lewis makes one other point about knowledge and reading in general which is this, and is one of the reasons that i kind of nixed hitchen's book out of hand and dawkins as well.

    first of all, they are new to the argument. hitchen's especially so. if their arguments are still being put forth in a few years then it will mean to me that they have staying power and have survived the first few barrages of debunking. but, more importantly, lewis states that we all must accept knowledge and learning by authority or we could never learn.

    i don't believe e=mc2 because i arrived at it but because people whose brains are a little more complex than mine have demonstrated it.

    similarly, i accept much of what i believe on authority. not to say i don't look into it, i do, but the explanations have to make sense to me. here we agree i'm sure.

    now, it makes great sense to me to believe einstein's theory because he's was a brilliant physicist and mathemetician. however, when he speaks about politics, ie 'you can't plan for peace and prepare for war' or whatever the college kids have on their posters, it doesn't make much sense. when pam anderson speaks about animal rights etc... she only needs to be filmed and never talk... it's what she's good at.

    i'm rambling. gotta go take a penny out of some kids mouth... stuck in his hard palate and suctioned tight like a bottle cap. hope he doesn't aspirate it... bad form and all.

  106. huh huh, you said 'suctioned tight'...

    I accept your proposal: I will re-read lewis' 'mere christianity' and will read his 'the p.o.p'. I think reading the hitchens and dawkins books are a good idea for any beiever - although some ideas may piss you off, I think the arguments are well-thought-out, sometimes harsh and hyperbolic, but pretty fun to read. books are in the mail...

    A few points: I agree that we learn from authority. At the same time we have to recognize that many of the great discoveries and 'paradigm shifts' (e.g. copernicus) have been IN THE FACE OF, AND CONTRARY TO, AUTHORITY. I grew up in a religiously neutral household, but attended a school headed by a religious leader and was told by many authorities that jesus / god etc.. was the truth. I think a vast majority of people on earth grow up with some religious doctrine / belief presented to them as truth. The truths I have arrived at come in the face of all this. You often say your belief is 'hard' - try telling a group of randomly selected people that you are an athiest - you might as well say you are a baby-killer. Interestingly, I, like you, strive to live by jesus' teachings (basically, 'do unto others...'). I don't have to believe he ever even existed to come to a conclusion that this is the right way to live. I doubt you would claim that this concept ORIGINATED with jesus. Morality does not depend on the acceptance of christ as lord...

    anyway, i like the idea of doing some reading then continuing the discussion. maybe we should pick some biblical books / passages to read and then discuss these as well (?)...


  107. Dude. I just realized that your #3 item on the original 'meme' was "cookies and cream". That's wicked gay.

  108. About 2/3rds of the way through 'prob. of pain'.

    how's your reading going?

  109. on a night shift. etotheipi, we need to start this up again. hitchen's book is a good modern diatribe about the evil done in the name of religion. i will continue to read and take notes. it seems to me that our disagreement continues to boil down to philosophy, and, in my recent readings i have cause to believe that you are really not an atheist, but rather, a theist or pantheist. ultimately you may disagree with me on this but the two books i'm currently reading along with hitchens are outstanding and i am learning a lot about the history of philosophy. it's very interesting.

    basically here's my point. in rc sproul 'defending your faith' he takes the uninitiated reader through the evolution of human thought and instructs us on the crux topic of 'epistemology' or 'how humans can know stuff'.

    the second book i'm reading, a trilogy by frances schaeffer, starts here with epistemology and basically claims that if one, like yourself, believes that objective truth is knowable (even if it is something as simple as 2+2=4), that it is impossible to be an atheist within the realm of logic.

    also, i believe hitchens is not an atheist. his criticisms of religion and the religious are, of course, undeniable. however, i think you will agree here, his second chapter chronicling the evil done in the name of god, is either purposefully deceptive, or, he has missed a fundamental point in that you can't point to people's actions done in advancement of a particular belief, and prove that the belief itself is false.

    to wit, ted kazinski had a phd in math, he is a murderer, therefore math is false. i'm sure hitchens doesn't stop with this and will no doubt give me great cause to doubt and question and that his criticisms will be valid, specifically as they pertain to the individuals committing the terrible actions.

    one other obvious flaw in his argument so far is that he has started from this point: all religions are equal, they all produce bad things, therefore they are all bad. i'm sure he will get to his criticism of Christianity in particular but i disagree with his starting point. he also seems not to believe that religion is salutary in any way, and, to quote an old saw, "i'm a Christian but i'm not religious."

    also, when he decries the obvious evil that has been produced by those claiming to be doing things for god and concludes that god is not 'good' he is applying an objective standard to something he claims does not exist without establishing why we should trust his judgement of 'good' or 'bad' or even why, in his world, one can speak of thigs as being 'good' or bad'.

    peace out

  110. I need to read your comment a few more times to get to all your points because you are slinging some philisophical fucking curveballs bitch!

    So, from the top:

    I agree that PART of hitchens book (let's type 'GING' here on out) is a diatribe against the evils done in the name of religion. This is simply a backdrop to larger questions however. first, it's a response to the almost reflexive assumption that atheists = bad people. The argument FOR this equation often boils down to "Stalin, Hitler etc... were atheists, therefore atheism produces evil people". I think we BOTH agree this is specious reasoning (you prove it with your Kazinski comment). I think there is a general societal assumption (slowly deteriorating) that religion makes you a good person. I strongly disagree with this. One of my parent's friends visibly cringed and recoiled when she saw me reading GING. THIS reaction is one of the things that I think is most powerfully addressed in GING. I will try to explain what I mean:

    The "danger" of religion, and particularly FAITH, is that it is a willful rejection of reason. You may argue against that definition, but I think that you would admit that sometimes to accept your beliefs based on FAITH is an effort - one that willfully smothers any competing ideas. In a sense, when reason is willfully rejected, anything goes (an example might be the acceptance of slavery way into modern history, buoyed by a biblical "OK").

    Next point:

    you say: "if one, like yourself, believes that objective truth is knowable (even if it is something as simple as 2+2=4), that it is impossible to be an atheist within the realm of logic. "

    I sort of agree with this. I do not, in any way, claim to "know" anything. To me, saying absolutely that god exists vs. does not exist is equvalent. They are both absolutely UNKNOWABLE. But, I would say that the preponderence of evidence points me in one direction - that there is no god, and particularly that a christian god is extremely non-believable. I certainly do NOT claim authority. But I think the evidence, in my eyes, allows me to comfortably "pick a side".

    enough for now...

  111. i do not mean to imply, nor have i ever implied or stated, that atheists are bad people. in fact, i know a bunch of good ones.

    i also agree that being 'religious' doesn't make one a good person. plenty of folks out there coucing actions or statemtns in terms of a verse or two plucked out of context from their Bible or upanishads or Koran.

    the last statement is one that i gleaned from lewis, sproull, and frances shaeffer. the sproull and schaeffer books are dense and the schaeffer book in particular, are really philosophical texts from the Christian perspective.

    schaeffer agrees with you that in this age of what is 'neo-orthodoxy' that your statement is correct. one must choose to follow reason and rationality or take up 'fideism' which requires a blind leap of faith. he believes that classical Christian theology does not require this leap and he is of the mind that if your reason disproves Christ then the humanistic alternative is all that's left. very brilliant man, never read him before. you would like him. the divergence from thesis-antithesis, which was the classical reasoning of the greeks and western man up until the late 1800s was supervened by the hegelian dialectic and immanuel kant and john stuart mill. funny how i never learned this stuff in my super education.

    one reason that we also may have different ideas about what Christianity means is simply based upon where you live and the dominant theology there. here is the buckle of the belt most places of worship strictly deny the neo-orthodox position that Christ is unknowable by humans and by our reason. more later.

    epistemology, interesting topic, take a look at its definition. that is what you and i are talking about. glad we continued because now i think we are at least on the same page about what we are talking about.

  112. I've always stuggled reading 'straight' philisophical texts. Like you, I had a grade A+ education in western thought although I don't consider myself in any way deeply knowlegable about philosophy. I know the basics and the big players and thier ideas but not any real in-depth analysis. Part of it is when I read Hegel and others in college it totally turned me off. Wading through page after page of verbal circle-jerking made me mental.

    (Aside) The philosophies I find riveting are those of guys like the mathematician Roger Penrose and Douglas Hofstaddter (sp?). Their approach is take things back to axiomatic 'givens' and build from there. Also I love their analysis of self-referentiality.
    (aside now over)

    I looked up 'epistomology'; realized I spelled it wrong, then wikipediaed it. Anyway, I like the turn of this conversation: how do we know what we know? What do we use to draw conclusions? It's a good topic so we should discuss.

    Something to maybe get us started: To me, FAITH is the cornerstone of Christianity. I define faith as the acceptance of something as true, even in the face of contradictory evidence. This, maybe more than anything else, turns me off from even engaging in an argument about the "rationality" of religion. When one makes a pro-god argument based on a rational / scientific / 'evidence based' argument, the ultimate end point boils down to 'accepting god on faith'. This to me is anti-rational and even a destructive approach to thinking about reality. So, what is your take on Faith?

    OFN (out, for now)

  113. i would kindly disagree with your definition of the 'cornerstone of Christianity'. to me, and i stand to be corrected, it goes something like this.

    1. God is and always was
    2. He created the universe as we know it
    3. He created man and all life.
    4. Man was created with free will and abused it thereby becoming separated from God.
    5. Man can not correct for this sin with anything he does.
    6. Christ was born and lived the perfect life, he was a real man, in real history, and gave Himself as a sacrifice to bridge the gap between God and man thereby providing for our salvation.
    7. We are, with our knowable world and our reason and the Bible, given knowledge of Christ's sacrifice.
    8. We choose to accept it and acknowledge his Lordship or not.
    9. We are not asked to believe against our reason, against the evidence, but with it.
    10. This is what 'faith' means to me though, in the current climate of philosophy and 'neo-orthodox' Christian theology, i agree that you are correct. Perhaps this is why i have considered converting to Catholicism for, much like my view of the Constitution, i do not believe God's word is malleable according to the whims of the current culture.

  114. Very nice distillation of Christianity's tenets and, to me, a pretty rational approach to belief (I use 'belief' and not 'faith' here for my own definitional reasons).

    It's interesting that you agree with my take on faith in the context of neo-orthodoxy - maybe this is the type of religion I can't come to grips with.

    In the context of your beliefs, I'm somewhat surprised that you would consider Catholicism. You and I well know that even Catholics, over time, although one of the more rigid religions, have certainly changed some basic elements of their belief system. The religion has been re-interpreted (like all other religions) in the context of the modern world (an example in GING would be the principle of the immaculate conception). I think that this FACT turns BOTH OF US off from certain belief systems. Certain biblical teachings become unreasonable to modern people as we have socially evolved. Biblical literalists are, in my opinion, nuts. So I think that if you accept the bible as the word of god and at the same time are NOT a literalist, then there is a real philisophical problem.

    I want to talk about alot of other points you make above but gots ta go...


  115. we are getting closer to a rational point of disagreement/agreement. i too am turned off by the blind leap of faith people but believe they exist in all religions and also in the humanistic world. the way they exist in the humanistic world is that the humanist's faith is that 'someday' science will explain everything. i disagree that it ever will for reasons i can elaborate on later. i have a juicy quote to put up here but am at work. more later. obtw, gary's philosophy is, duh, 'utilitarianism' and is old as the hills, but very rational. having gone to a Christian prep school with a goofy bunch of "God-squaders" you are helping me come to grips why my faith has, up to this point, been an intellectual excercise and not an emotional one. i am not denigrating the emotional believers, it just doesn't work for me. God did not give me the ability to reason in order to turn it off to believe in Him. i am, at the same time, acutely aware that as my exploration leads me towards Him that the consequences of a real belief are not so attractive at first glance. i like my beer, i like to sleep late on sundays, and i have yet to find a 'faith community' where i feel comfortable. i have always chosen to see this as part of my fallenness and have tried to muscle my way around it. honestly, a whole lot hangs on me being right about this. if i'm wrong then, as paul said, i am to be pitied. if i am right i'm a sorry example of a Christian. finally, about biblical inerrancy, i do believe it is inerrant but am not a literalist. i take the lewis view, again, a textual critic by profession, who said something like this... the Bible is both history and mythology, it contains poetry, songs, myth, and history. children are literalists with what they read, adults should be able to recognize the difference. poor paraphrase. it is not a leap for me to believe that God speaks in the Bible through many different very human people and that their personalities shine through, but, as he is omnipotent and their writing was inspired by Him that it is inerrant. did Jonah get swallowed by a whale? did Noah build an ark bigger than a football field? history or a myth condensing a truth? i don't know if i'll know this side of death but i believe it's one or the other. do i believe Jesus performed miracles? yes.

  116. etotheipi,
    here's a bit from francis schaeffer, the guy i'm reading to bolster me against hitchen's diatribe.

    Those who object to the position that there are good, adequate, and sufficient reasons to know with our reason that Chrisianity is true are left with a probability position at some point. At some point and in some terminology they are left with a leap of faith. This does not say that they are not Chrisitans, but it means that they are offering one more probability to 20th century relativistic people to whom everything is only probability. They are offering one more leap of faith without reason... to a generation that has heard a thousand leaps of faith proposed in regard to the crucial things of human life. I would repeat that what is left is that Christianity is a probability.

    Of course, faith is needed to become a Christian, but there are two concepts concerning faith. The two ideas of faith run like this: One idea of faith would be a blind leap in the dark. A blind leap in which you believe something with no reason..., you just believe it. This is what I mean by a blind leap of faith. The other idea of faith, which has no relationship with this, none whatsoever, is that you are asked to believe something and bow before that something on the basis of good and adequate reasons. There is no relationship betwen these two concepts of faith.

    The Biblical concept of faith is very much the second and not the first. You are not asked to believe in a blind leap of faith. The Bible teaches that there are good and sufficient reasons to know that these things are true. If you examine the ministry of Paul and also of Christ, you find they endlessly answered questions. There was no concept here of "keep quiet, just believe"; it just does not exist. Paul answered the questions of the Jews, he answered the questions of the non-jews, he was always answering questions; and the book of Romans certainly answered the questions of those without the Bible as well as those with it.

    this is how i see it as well. i can't do the 'just believe' thing. if it worked some kind of magic inside me then i would tell you to 'just believe'. i think any worldview based on this way of looking at things is a shell.

  117. It's interesting that you can consider the bible inerrant but at the same time confess to not really knowing how to interpret it. How is one to know the myth from the history (epistemology again)? If biblical truths are immutable, then how do you explain changing interprtations over time that seem to follow scientific revelations and societal 'advancement'? You may say that the truths are immutable, but which truths? Why do we get to pick and choose? You may say, well, we don't, but the reality of human history is this is exactly what has happened, and I think most people, even religious ones, think it is correct and a 'step forward'.

    I can accept that one need not be a literalist and can still be a believer, although I think it begs alot of questions. For example, the bible has one single event where god actually writes down on stone tablets his commandments for us to hear. I think you would agree that this event should not be considered 'myth' if any of the bible is to be believed - it is a concrete story told as history. SO, how is it that believers (not all but a vast majority) blatantly ignore (at least) one of these commandments EVERY WEEK! Keep the sabbath holy. I mean, it's not a subtle suggestion. DO NOT WORK ON SUNDAY! OK folks, I'm writing it down for you; one of the only things I ever actually wrote down for man (I'm being god now, BTW). If I actually believed the bible; if I actually believed in the god of the bible; you can be for fuck sure I'm not working Sundays. It's not like this is even that demanding of a commandment. Not like the 'coveting' stuff. One could say: "well I'm flawed and so I covet". But PLEASE, I DO NOT accept that believers are unable to do something as simple and straightforward as not working Sundays...

    My theory: If believers wantonly ignore a simple and direct COMMANDMENT FROM GOD, then I think they must not REALLY believe that this is the word of god. I DO NOT buy the argument that " we are imperfect and fallen" blah blah bullshit. Yes, certain temptations can creep in and make us "bad". But this is a NO BRAINER.

    Now, when one starts picking and choosing what is and what is not valid in the bible, and when one ignores extremely simple commandments - you really have to question biblical authority and the conviction of the 'believers'.

    Im interested in your response - remember the "I am imperfect and a sinner" thing is not an acceptable explanation to me.

    This all brings me back to your '10 points of reality' you went through a few posts back. I never understood the logical explanation behind point #6 (christ's sacrifice bridging the gap of original sin of man and god). Why is this necessary? If you accept that god is omniscient and all powerful, then he knew all along what was going to happen to him as a man - how is this a sacrifice? How does his premeditated "sacrifice" help us bridge the gap to god? Why did it need to be done this way? And what about all the people who lived between Adam and Jesus? Very confused.

    Way too much. Later. E

  118. ok. i'm going to try and answer the best i can at 12 midnight. obtw the flu vaccine sux this year.

    in terms of your 'immutability' question i agree that on the human side there have been changes in interpretations and doctrine, but, and this won't satisfy you, but God's laws are more inerrant than the laws of physics or math. we thought that newton's gravitation laws were spot on then came einstein (who, by the way, was a theist).

    i would go back to our initial point of disagreement which is whether God exists or not. if you satisfy yourself that God is real then you explore the options and believe that Christianity is THE answer then it's no jump to say that an omniscient and omnipotent God directed the hands that wrote the Bible and that it is, therefore, inerrant.

    this does beg the question however. given humans err it is easy to explain changing interpretations and arguments between the substantiation of the eucharist versus the transubstantiation (ie are we really eating flesh and drinking Christ's blood or is it a symbol?).

    in terms of what science discovers as it relates to the Bible my new favorite guy, francis schaeffer, states that, and i agree, that even the latest astronomy/cosmology/physics makes a lot more sense if one considers an instantaneous beginning to the universe.

    the Bible is not a textbook. it is a partial revelation of a real God. the Old Testament is rife with metaphor and, as you will agree, very honest about the foibles and 'brokenness' of even the great patriarchs. i gotta tell ya, the Old Testament is hard for me. i read with a concordance which tries to explain the Kings, family trees, customs of the time, and why, what seems to us in 21st century America to be bizzare, was, at the time, customary. the Old Testament ties me in knots but i get by this by considering it the prelude to Christ's advent. i think this is a fairly standard Christian position.

    in terms of your sabbath question i think it could be asked this way too, why do people do things they know are wrong. Christian answer? (Christ answered this by healing on the sabbath, it's in Matthew and other gospels... the lawmakers were pissed that he healed on the sabbath and he did it anyway. i take some comfort in this, but not when i'm simply sleeping late and watching football). because of original sin. can't explain that one as even the best Christian writers including Lewis struggle with it.

    Lewis believes that there may or may not have been a literal garden of eden and may or may not have been an apple. the point is that man, before the fall, lived without sin and had continual communion with God. the apple either was the first sin or representative of the first sin which was probably man's first disobedience of God.

    Christians believe this first sin produced the rest and here's where Christ comes in. Speaking again in terms of general Christian principles once man decided to go out on his own he could no longer commune with God as he had before. the perfect creation chose to become imperfect (a 'mystery') and Christ's sacrifice was then necessary to allow redemption.

    "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

    iow, Christ's sacrifice recreates the pre-fall relationship. i completely agree that people wantonly ignore many of God's commandments but here again is a crucial difference between Old and New Testaments, old and new covenants, Judaism and Christianity, for that matter every other religion and Christianity.

    Christ came to fulfill the law and to supervene it. He lived completely according to the Law, he was without sin. notice that even though he was without sin he did exhibit the range of human emotions including love and anger (overturning the money changers tables in the temple etc...) but did it perfectly.

    i plead guilty to being a sinner. i plead guilty to doing just what you say. i plead guilty to knowing that i shouldn't do something but doing it anyway, fully aware that it is wrong. there's no one that doesn't do this. that is in line with our need for Christ.

    Lewis makes a big point about having to try to be completely perfect and realizing that we absolutely can not do it, to realize that we are, truly, abhorrent to God in our sinful state. he likens us to puppies, just given a bath, who run head over tail to jump in the mud again.

    as you recall from our med school days i was quite a puppy and loved the big mud. i think you may recall a few nights that would fit that category too... something about a car crash.

    but back to following the law. following the law is Judaism, it is also islam. it is not Christianity and this reply is getting so long i won't expand here, but what this DOES NOT mean is to go out and do whatever and believe you are saved. the tree shall be known by it's fruit etc... Christ says that on the day of judgement there will be many who confessed his name and he will 'not know them'.

    i know the 'i am imperfect and a sinner' answer is kind of what i gave you but i would add this, we are to 'work out our salvation with fear and trembling'. our motivations and choices are known only to us and God. we may fool a lot of people about whom our heart belongs to but we will not fool Him.

    Christians are called to confess their sin and repent and the Catholics are big on penance. i think i myself am pretty good at the confession part and not so good at the others.

    the answer then is that as one grows into Christianity that with the aid of the Holy Spirit our character and choices are changed but WE have to take the first step.

    lastly, you raise one of the most difficult questions re Christianity with the omniscient God needing a 'bridge' to him since he knows what we are going to do. this gets into the predestination and free will issue and it's not something i can explain. there are doctrinal differences between denominations here but i believe they are like the old argument about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

    God is outside time. he sees all of history. he is the author. we are like characters in a novel. the author knows all about them and he can write the ending first etc... even though He knows what we will do WE do not. to use Abraham and Isaac as an example, the conventional explanation for that incredible bit of Genesis is that God knew Abraham would go to the point of sacrificing his son, but Abraham did not. that Abraham learned about his own faith by obeying God "and it was credited to him as righteousness".

    as to why God 'did it this way' you will have to ask him. that's not me being a smart ass, that's the best i can do.

    as to the people who lived between Adam and Jesus a partial explanation can be seen in the story of Abraham above. faith in God, as demonstrated in people's actions, ostensibly, pre Christ, is the explanation that i am comfortable with as to how these folks are 'saved' as they clearly are according to the NT.

    dude, i'm just a simple car crash physician but i am digging this. i will say this too. i believe that you are a great human. i hope we can help each other come to a better understanding of this. i think modern culture is intent on killing God because God is so inconvenient.

    however, your moral and political stands convince me that you and i are almost twins. i would hate to be righ about God and spend eternity without you. on the other hand, if i'm wrong, i am very happy with my lot in life and credit Christ with most of the good decisions i've made. more on this later and maybe not on the blog.

    ps props for asking the right questions. you and i are, again, very alike because for the first 18years of my life i was agnostic and turned off by the "Christians" around me.

  119. Great response! I actually respect your take on these issues more than anything I have read (including Lewis. Seriously.) I would have said it is next to impossible to come to your conclusions by a logical approach. I think you have thought through these issues very carefully and have a reasonable, logical and explainable basis for your beliefs. That said, I have come to a quite different (and very basic) conclusion about the nature of reality while looking at the same evidence that you have in front of you. It is even weirder since I agree with you that we have near identical political and moral beliefs. This conversation has been (and I hope continues to be) a great exchange of ideas. Writing this stuff down, thinking about it and formulating questions and responses is, in itself, a great exercise and forces you to construct a coherent narrative about your basic beliefs. Not something one does every day unless engaged in something like this.

    I'm not sure what to think about an afterlife. Probably one's true belief will come out when staring death in the face. On this side of the light, I like the concept of the afterlife as the being the same as what it was like before I was born. In a weird way that's comforting but it can also be really fucking scary. When it comes down to it, we all die. No choice there. So one approach is "well, nothing I can do about it, so why worry". Man, I would LOVE to believe in eternal life and heaven. I WANT TO! But I just don't see it. And I have truly tried. I've always had close friends who are religious but really can't see how they can believe what they do - I think this dialogue is helping me in that respect. And even though your beliefs are completely whacked out and probably influenced by too many bong hits, I truly think you are a great human as well.

    All that said, I have some points of contention with your post. Just one here because this is getting too long (that's what she said).

    You say 'i think modern culture is intent on killing God because God is so inconvenient.'

    I actually belive the EXACT opposite. I think modern culture desperately wants to embrace god because he is so convenient.

    If anything, the US is becoming a more religious place. Polls show that an atheist candidate for office in the US would not even be considered by about 90% of voters. 90%!!! This means that a vast majority of this country believes that atheists are somehow morally inferior and unable to be trusted with the public good. I don’t think YOU believe this although I would guess that you may have second thoughts about voting for an atheist even if he had the exact same morals and political principles as you. I don’t mean this as an insult. I do it myself. I do have second thoughts about politicians because of their religious beliefs.

    You have to admit that no one significant in public life stands a chance at being taken seriously if they are an avowed atheist. This to me implies that god is in NO WAY considered inconvenient to the modern world. It is the people who would “kill god” that are considered pariahs. Like I wrote before: when I was reading GING I got so many nasty looks from people as if I was an amoral degenerate fuckup. I mean, that may be accurate, but don’t assume that just because I strongly question god.

    How is god ‘convenient’ then? Well, in times of trouble or moral angst or pain or death, god can be a comfort. Isn’t it less convenient to face these horrors and say “well, there is no god, so it’s on me to deal with these issues on my own, in the face of eternal nothingness”. THAT is courage. THAT is VERY inconvenient.

    How about in everyday life? You have said that god has made you a better person. I respect that. But is that also not in some way ‘convenient’? Think of it this way: X believes in humanistic principles and does not believe in god or any eternal salvation or reward for his actions. Despite this, X chooses to ‘do the right things’ even in the face of loss to himself. THIS is the epitome of inconvenient and true self sacrifice.

    Anyhoo, let’s keep this going. And as for the gay undertones of the last few posts, just remember: Its not sucking cock when you just roll it around in your mouth.

  120. to your first paragraph. thanks. i have just read something that bears directly on your situation from francis schaeffer, you don't have to believe it but i think you will agree that it is true.

    if you start believeing in a closed system which is mechanical then there is no room for a God. you have many other problems in that kind of system as you can not get to morals, you can only observe particulars and can't get to 'should' or 'right' or 'wrong'. also, realize that all of science is based on the assumption of a desinged and reasonable and testable universe. for instance, one could not get to the theory of relativity starting with chance or randomness.

    afterlife. i sure hope so. it's part of Christianity and the New Testament and there's much argument amongst the Jews about it. it's hard for me to believe that there is not one but i understand that it's equally hard for some to believe that there is one.

    i do not see it as a santa clause afterlife, i believe, as lewis says, that it will be an aquired taste and in this respect the Catholic concept of purgatory makes sense as the imperfect may not stand in front of the perfect without the imperfections removed.

    following the Christian way we believe we are not given wants and desires without ways to address those desires. fallen man has found ways to temporarily gratify these native needs so we may choose to take pride in a job well done and feel good about it or we may choose to swallow some pills and feel the same thing for a few hours. we long for love and love exists, or we may go bonk some chick for a few hours (8 hours for me average). we long for heaven and we can try to create it here on earth or we may trust that it exists on another plane of existence as we are told in the Bible.

    Christians would say that there is something, and only one thing you can do about it, and that's to get right with the man. here i would point out to you that you and i are in the same place in that i don't feel it in my heart that heaven exists and i badly want it to but i understand that my reason dictates that it is there.

    in terms of the 'convenience' of God i would agree but make a distinction. when 'god' means whatever you want it to mean it's just an empty word and can be used to justify anything. so usama can claim to be doing god's work and if you read the koran like he does then maybe he's right. or you can be a crusader king and misquote the Bible to justify mowing down a few hundred thousand infidels. or, you can say 'man is god' and justify the holocaust or the kulakization of the ussr or pol-pot's genocide or the darfur genocide etc...

    it's a different matter if you take the Bible as the word of God. unless i'm missing something i do not read in the New Testament to go and force conversions at the point of a sword, rather, we are told to livingly spread the word, the seed, along the ground and let it work.

    you quote your 90% stat and i believe it to be true but i would counter that 50 years ago an atheist would have had 0% chance of getting elected.

    i would have second thought about voting for an atheist, but i would vote for a 'secular humanist' type candidate, romney approximates that for me, way over a muslim. my problem with voting for an atheist is that whenever they say 'we should' or 'we ought' to do whatever my question would be 'why?'. if the answer is 'for the betterment of society then why should i care? i would want only what benefits me. right now i would say that the folks that think this way are on the left.

    finally, i agree that it takes courage to do the right thing absent a belief that somehow on some higher scale you are in line with 'what's right' but again, my response would be 'why'? why not just go for yourself?

    i think your answer would be that you have behaved that way at one point in your life and found that it made you miserable. why would that be? my answer is that you were out of tune with your nature and that your nature is not the result of a random process. bitch.


  121. Alot to respond to and some excellent points. I think it is important to address, as you say, the "why?" issue..

    I need to get some time and come down off my jet lag so I can think straight.

    Does your Johnson Rod look like someone took a cheese grater to it after 8 hours?

    Real response coming soon...

    Sproull is next on my list.

  122. One quick comment: "secular humaist" is just a politically correct term for atheist.

    The tough question for an atheist to answer (that you have correctly identified) is roughly: "why do good?" or "why not fuck everyone over and just go for yourself?"

    Several possible responses:
    1. Atheist as "humanist" - this is sort of like christianity absent christ. In other words, "do unto others..." becomes the basis of the moral philosophy. I simply act this way because I want others to also act this way. If I fuck people over, I expect to be fucked over, and I don't want to be fucked over (unless Gisele is doing it). My motivation and reward is to 'lead by example' and reap the returned good will.
    2. Atheist as objectivist: This is basically selfishness as a virtue. Hard to capture in a brief paragraph (Read Atlas Shrugged).
    3. Atheist who is hedging his bets. Pascal's wager and the like.
    4. Atheist who acts 'good' now, because acting 'bad' in the past made him feel bad (your theory). You say this is somehow due to a higher power that gave us a good nature and by denying that nature and 'sinning' we are out of touch with god which makes us feel bad. Basically, your Juju is all fucked up. Or maybe your Chi.
    There is certainly something to your theory, but your explanation sucks man-ass. I'm sure there are plenty of people who fucked people over to get ahead and are now happy as pigs in poo. Others were 'sinners' and this didn't work to get them ahead, they feel bad, then they see the light. If fucking people over has no downside and doesn't make you feel bad (I am absolutely sure there are ALOT of people like this) then what does THIS say about god? Does this then offer you proof that god doesn't exist? Of course not. So ergo the obverse cannot offer an explanation for god's existence. Quod Erat Demonstrandum, BITCH!

    all that said, it really comes down to why do I think I do what I do. I think I have aspects of all of the above. None of which requires God. Do you think that you do the right thing due to fear of eternal punishment or hope for eternal salvation? I doubt it. I doubt it because I'm sure that BEFORE you accepted Christ, you were a good person and that you are the same person now. But probably you don't get as much pussy.

    LOTS O ?S

  124. saw your sproull comment before your prior, this in response to sproul, working on other...

    i have gotten stuck in hitchens. it's boils my brain as 70 p into it
    i still am reading only a clever diatribe that amounts, so far, to a
    'my team is awesome and your's sucks' type argument. he just does not
    have, so far, an understanding of the core beliefs of Xianity or other
    religions, but looks at what he claims are the results of belief and
    launches all barrels. it is hard for me to read and i have to do it when i'm
    not already pissed which, these days, is rarely.

  125. Don't give up on the Hitchens book. There are some significant weaknesses in H's arguments, mainly because he TRIES to be inflammatory for effect. I've read his book twice and have also read multiple articles and interviews by / with him. I think you are wrong in assuming he does not know his subject (Xanity etc...). He has had multiple co-interviews with cristian 'leaders' that you can search and read on the web. I think if you read them without bias, he universally comes out on top.

    It's like prob. of pain and the sproul book: I truly struggle through sometimes and roll my eyes at the circumlocutions and (in my eyes) circular arguments. You prob. dont see their writings this way. But nonetheless, I learn from getting through these books. don't let Hitchens abrasiveness turn you off. I think his arguments, while not rock solid, are at the very least, compelling. I'll be interested in what you think of Dawkins more rigid and scientific approach (although he is not immune from condescension)...

    In reference to sproul - have been reading up on schools of textual criticism, biblical inerrancy vs. infallibility, apologetics and the like... pretty interesting stuff although ALOT of mental masturbation going on.

    Dude, don't get pissed, just contro' yo 'ho..

  126. a flaw. i agree that many folks live this way, do unto others etc... this works pretty well i guess, until times or war or strife. in that circumstance, i think that without a God that you just kill everyone you can and protect yourself and others. this is just natural law, tooth and claw. i believe that humans are different and that Christians martyrs, and martyrs even of other belief systems put a hole in this and one must either call them saints or insane.

    it would suck to try and 'lead by example' for instance, in soddom, or with a town full of seiral killers. this kind of reasoning reminds me of the stupid fuck mothers in blue state land who wont immunize their children, depending on 'herd immunity' to protect them. works well until everyone doesn't immunize their kids then you have a bunch of kids dying from diseases that should have been eradicated. not calling you stupid, just pointing out the connection my brain jumped to.

    also, explaining why this 'evolved' to me is an insuluble problem because in a 'natrual law' world the first mutant who practiced this would have been killed and would not have reproduced. it would be hard to evolve a population of 'good' people, unless, of course, there was a preponderance of 'good people' to begin with, which is what the Bible claims.

    objectivism was a powerful philosophy but, at least in philosophical circles, has been discredited. i do like ayn rand and i am struck by the many Christlike aspects of Howar Rourke.

    the reason that objectivism is discredited, and this is according to frances schaeffer, is that they start with 'data', or information gathered by the senses, and build outward based on evidence. the critical issue is that an assumption is made that what is perceived is actually 'data' and that relying on our interpretations is reasonable. however, without a set of rules which precede our 'data' collection, there is no reason or ability to know that the data we gather means anything at all.

    didn't get your point about pascal's wager.

    your last point is intersting. it is something that lewis deals with at length in 'the problem of pain' i believe or maybe 'mere Chrsitianity', this 'ultimate rebel' that you describe certainly exists. lewis uses this person as an explanation for why hell is a necessity.

    as to what it says about God i'm sorry to keep going back to this, but, in my belief system, and again, i think it's pretty mainline Christian, God chose to create men with free will and not robots. all flows from this.

    i do not do the right thing due to fear of eternal punishment, but i do not want to be eternally punished. i do the wrong thing often, but when i do right AND it's inconvenient for me or painful then it IS because i believe there IS a right thing, and i believe there is a right thing because i believe in God.

    if i did not believe in God then i would die young, probably fairly happy, and leave a swath of destruction in my path. this particular path has to do with women for me but for others it is money or crime or whatever.

    doing what is RIGHT, to me, has no meaning without God other than what society says is right or wrond, and if i were, say German, and living in say, nuremberg in 1942 then i sure would be listening to my home slices and beatin' me some jews and killin' me some frogs.

    i would submit to you that before i accepted Christ i did the 'right thing' for fear of punishment from my father's right hand (father small 'f') and because i was blessed with good (in every sense) friends, teachers, coaches etc...

    my parents are big on right and wrong, but when i got old enough to ask 'why' they were lost. that's when i started searching and experimenting and that's when i begrudginly came to accept Christ.

    can't argue the pussy thing.

  127. Let me see If I get your premises:
    -without god there is no right or wrong
    -‘humanism’ fails when challenged (by war etc…)
    -evolution has no answer for altruism
    -without a set of rules (by which I assume you mean, in some way, ‘god’s rules’) our perceptions are unreliable.

    I think you are wrong on all counts. I also think I may be the Jewish Messiah, but I’m not sure.

    First premise - without god there is no right or wrong:
    One piece of ‘proof’ for this that you offer is “Christians martyrs, and martyrs even of other belief systems put a hole in this and one must either call them saints or insane”. This is proof of NOTHING. You state yourself there are “martyrs of other belief systems”. Guess what, this includes atheists. Yes, there are atheists that have made the ‘ultimate sacrifice’ for the good of others. By your logic, a Christian who sacrifices himself is the pinnacle of goodness, while the atheist, Buddhist, Hindu or Zoroastrian who does it is insane. So, when two people do the EXACT SAME ACT, one is great, one is crazy. This is the definition of delusional thinking.

    On the same subject, you say god defines what is right and wrong and this is the ultimate authority. So then what are you using as the word of god? I assume you would say the bible (unless you have had a personal ‘revelation’ which I do not think has happened – correct me if I’m wrong). Well, the god of the old testament (which, by the way, jesus certainly belives in), implied that some pretty horrific stuff was OK (slavery, etc…). You might then say (I think in a very poor logical step) that Jesus somehow ‘trumps’ the old testament (I guess he’s trumping himself…). This would therefore imply that all of society and humanity pre-jesus had no real ‘rule book’ for what was right and wrong. Guess what, in this “natural law” world, great societies developed with a moral structure – something you imply is impossible in a ‘tooth and claw’ world.

    Second: humanism fails when challenged.
    Again, non-christian martyrs ‘prove’ this wrong.

    The basis of humanist morality is roughly: “knowledge of right and wrong is based on the best understanding of one's individual and joint interests, rather than stemming from a transcendental truth or an arbitrarily local source”. This has obvious echoes of objectivism. Leaving a path of destruction, fucking anything that moves and drinking oneself into a constant stupor, although fun and roughly descriptive of my college experience, fails in this moral view. Again, the basis is a “best understanding of individual and JOINT interests”. We learn at a very young age that others’ interests are often also our own. This leads me to the third point:

    Third: evolution has no answer for altruism.
    In ‘god delusion’ Dawkins makes a compelling case via game theory for the evolution of altruism, and demonstrates how naturally occurring conditions can be shown, in a mathematical model, to give rise to altruism…. Now, I can feel your eyes rolling. Even if you are skeptical and dismissive of this idea, it at least shows that there is a plausible theory for evolutionary altruism.

    Using just common sense, you would probably expect an atheist to sacrifice himself for his children. Maybe then, logically, you could see an atheist do the same for a busload of his friends’ children. Would he do the same for a random person that he would never meet, dying in some far off land? Would a Christian? Well, SOME Christians might. And some atheists might. But some Christians and some atheists would NOT. These actions or lack thereof, prove nothing.

    Fourth: our perceptions are unreliable without god’s guidance.
    Sproul’s book would beg to differ. One of his most basic points about apologetics or understanding god through reason (which I believe is the basis of your belief) is that perceptions are generally reliable. If not, then we could make no logical conclusions about anything. I think this strain of your argument goes nowhere.

    Finally: One point for further thought: One of the weakest links in Christian philosophy, particularly when attempted to be put on a logical basis, is the acceptance of positive evidence and the concurrent rejection of valid negative evidence for god. Sproul points to the very existence of the world as ‘proof’ of god… uh, ok. This ‘proves’ nothing except that there is and always was, something. This proves nothing about god. There is constant pointing at good in the world as stemming from god, but somehow evil is written off to ‘free will’ or ‘the devil’ and not credited to the LACK of a benevolent deity’s existence. I’ve talked about the prayer study: prayer in a controlled experiment showed no effect on healing: if the opposite effect was shown and duplicated, I would really question my own beliefs. For a Christian, no result except a positive one holds any importance. The point is, when you decide to accept positive evidence while rejecting all negative evidence, then there is NO LOGIC for that belief. This brings us back to accepting based on blind faith. Something that you yourself have rejected.

    QED Motherfucker!

  128. DAMN! Typed a whole response and lost it. Maybe God didn't like it.

    No, without God there is still 'right' and 'wrong' but you can't get there with logic.

    humanism doesn't fail when challendge by war, i merely meant that if you were a child, for instance, in 1939 Germany, and everyone around you including your parents told you that the Jews were subhuman then what cause would you have to believe they were wrong? i see this happening in our current society as what's 'right' and 'wrong', especially in academic circles, does, indeed, 'evolve'. you may see this as good, i do not.

    evolution has many answers to altruism. as an ev. biol major in college i heard many. none were as compelling to me as the creator God explanation.

    i do not say that our perceptions are unreliable without a belief in God, i say that we have no reason to suppose that they are. all advances in science have been made because we assume a logical form to the universe. it's hard to get to a logical universe from a random beginning. i do not think you are the Jewish Messiah, but you may be his alter-ego.

    i don't know of any atheist martyrs offhand. while the bhuddist or hindu or muslim martyr (one who dies for their religion and only for their religion) are true martyrs i believe that they are sadly mistaken (not insane). my 'insanity' comment was in reference to how these martyrs MUST appear to people who are atheists.

    plenty of atheists have died for causes but i want to know one who has been martyred for atheism. i can think of plenty who have been martyred because they wouldn't convert to Christianity, or Islam etc... but really, tell me one that has died for 'nothing'.

    also, and i understand that this is a bit trite and anecdotal, i know plenty of folks right now who are over in the mideast flying into 50cal machine gun nests and offing towlies, but i don't know any atheists in the lot.

    plenty of 'good societies' have developed worshipping other gods, and the roman empire or the egyptian pharoahs are good examples i think. major world religions have a lot in common (murder bad, charity good etc...) but Chrisitanity makes unique claims (the only way to the Father etc...) which are not made in most others. even islam reveres Christ as a 'prophet' and the Jews believe in a Messiah but don't believe it was Jesus.

    But Christ did not come to 'trump' the Old Testament, he came to live perfectly accordingly to the law, in a way, to show everyone how it's done, He was the only one ever to do it. He was therefore the perfect sacrifice. none of us can keep the law because we are all flawed. the law was, and is, perfect. the Old Testament does indeed speak of polygamy, slavery, murder, and adultery (David) but i do not see it as condoning it, rather telling it like it was. would it not be a lot more unbelievable is all you read in the OT was about people you could not hope to compete with? they were all imperfect but through their faith in God were justified. the OT points to a Messiah, Christians believe is was Jesus.

    I do believe that one might think the OT implied slavery was okay, it was certainly practiced, but I must point out that abolitionists were motivated by their Chrisitan beliefs.

    not disagreeing that humanists can be 'good' and do 'right' but, as far as objectivism goes i must disagree. basing one's morality on experience and data gathered turns out to work just fine. but why? what possible reason does an objectivist have for believing that the experiences he has or the data he gathers is anything other than random shit? that's my point. you can start from an empirical/objectivist point, but why is the data good? my answer is because God designed it all and that we are made in His image with brains wired in such a way to make sense, as much as humans can, of a larger truth.

    again, growing up in 1939 Germany etc... why not be a Nazi?

    i know, as mentioned, that there are many explanations proferred from evolutionists for how 'morality' evolved but to me, they are about as believable as me walking into the gas station down the street, buying a 1$ powerball ticket, and hitting it big.

    re sproul: our perceptions ARE reliable, with or without God's guidance. his point, agian, is on a deeper level. what reason do we have to trust them if the universe is a result of a random something that happened sometime wihout purpose? I'm interested as to why this line of reasoning 'goes nowhere'?

    re why a good God would create a world with the possiblity of evil, and, as we know, its real existence i'm afraid the Christian answer is all about free will. i don't know why you dislike this answer so much because i believe that YOU believe in free will. the alternative is that God could have created robots. he did not.

    the atheist alternative is that we are here, we don't know why, and we muddle through as we see fit. but even an atheist like yourself has the deep down need to explain it. and here we come full circle and back to the 'faith' issue. you and i seek to explain what we see around us, we both have a choice to see it as a logical world, flawed to be sure, but with a purpose and with a creator, OR, a random result of a random process that seems to make sense sometimes but it could also be an illusion. in this kind of world i have no reason to believe that you exist and i think, as a matter of fact, that you are just a bad dream.


  129. to be clear about my 'martyr' comment above, there have been plenty of Chrisitan martyrs who refused to renounce their belief, plenty of muslim martyrs who refused to renounce theirs, plenty of 'witches' burned at the stake etc... iow, plenty of folks with a belief in their god who refused to renounce him. i want an atheist martyr, one who said, i refuse to believe in any god, so kill me. i'm not saying there aren't any, i just don't know of any. socrates? maybe, but he did believe in a god.

  130. Maybe one example of many many many like him is Carl Sagan who was an atheist to the end and asked on his deathbed to accept god said basically fuck you. Not really a 'martyr' but dying with the 'opportunity' to hedge his bets...

    Probably a better example would be (probably thousands of)'infidels'
    killed - maybe atheists maybe not.

    really, martyrdom in itself is a bad criterion to judge the validity of any belief system so really it doesn't matter whether someone happened to martyr themselves or not. Proof: you would claim a buddhist martyr is a fucking idiot. In your world, this bozo goes to hell. Bad deal.

    Another issue, I think you are way to hung up on 'randomness'. You look at the world, see order, and assume god must have made it so. You liken the absence of god to the likelyhood of buying a winning powerball ticket. I would liken it to buying a winning powerball ticket if you bought a powerball ticket every second for 15 billion years. If this person won the powerball, is this unlikely? NO.

    I'm a genius. Eat my nutsack.

  131. oh. you are obsessed with 1939 germany. You know who DID go along for the ride? There were many people who went along with hitler who were christians. Actually, christians helped validate the regime in many ways.

    How do you respond to the fact that the majority who jumped on the bandwagon were christian? According to you, this would be proof that god does not exist.

  132. FUCK! remind me never to type a response on blogger on my apple again.

    no, no, no.
    carl sagan was not an atheist martyr, he did not die by execution when he refused to accept Christ, or bhudda, or mohammet or gaiai.

    infidels are Christians killed because they don't accept mohammet, heretics are folks of other religions killed for not accepting the Catholic version of Christianity etc... i'm still waiting for the example of the person willing to die for atheism itself... maybe the Va. Tech or columbine shooters?

    i'm also not using martyrdom as a criterion on which to judge religion, i'm merely pointing out that martyrdom seems to be unique to religion. martyrs are, therefore, either right, sadly deluded, fucking idiots, or insane. that's what they must appear to be to anyone, including atheists, who do not share their beliefs.

    i am not hung-up on randomness in the way you think i am. my randomness hang up does not have to do with evolution. i do not believe on a gut level that evolution by itself is responsible for humanity, but i do understand that logic can lead you there.

    my hang up has to do with the origin of the universe. whether you believe it has always existed (the best option for you) or that it had a beginning then you can not know that you know anything if the process responsible for the universe was random. GIGO.

    again, i must remind you not to confuse declared adherents of a religion or philosophy with the thing itself. the Christian Germans who sat silently while the Jews got exterminated were wrong to do so. so was everyone there. the German defense at nuremberg is that they were following their law. the convictions were based on universal law and universal morality, and, unless i'm way off here, probably on judeo-Christian principles of morality.

    there were some in Germany, some notable Christians, who went to prison and were killed and also put in the camps for their opposition and a little research will show you this. but it is, indeed, correct to point at the rest and say they were shitty examples of what a Christian should be. but hey, i don't point to your kids as an example of what a shitty father you are (jk ;) )!

    now you know how it feels to be bitch-slapped.

  133. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  134. My point is twofold:
    1. the idea of an "atheist martyr" is self contradictory according to your definition. you consider martyrdom as dying for a religion. Atheism is not a religion. Therefore no atheist martyrs are possible according to you. What I am pointing out is that there are doubtless atheists who have died for a 'cause'. By THIS definition then ther are certainly atheist "martyrs".
    2. i think martyrdom is bad "proof" for god or a christian god. You state: "i think that without a God that you just kill everyone you can and protect yourself and others. this is just natural law, tooth and claw. i believe that humans are different and that Christians martyrs, and martyrs even of other belief systems put a hole in this and one must either call them saints or insane". In other words you use specific individuals who have martyred themselves in the name of god are somehow 'proof' that god exists. to you they "put a hole in" the theory of atheism. But you yourself have stated over and over and over and over (and I agree) that we CAN'T look at individuals who have taken action in the name of god or espousing to be christians and conclude anything of the rightness or wrongness of Xanity (e.g. christian Nazis or christian martyrs "put a hole" in this).

    I think all this martyrdom talk is a sidebar and not even that relevant to our discussion.

    The critical point you state is this: "my hang up has to do with the origin of the universe. whether you believe it has always existed (the best option for you) or that it had a beginning then you can not know that you know anything if the process responsible for the universe was random". I'm not sure this is solid logic and maybe I don't exactly understand what you are saying. Are you saying that all of our knowlege is unreliable if the universe had a random beginning? I think this is what you claim and I don't get the logic of this.

    First of all, you equate the absence of god with randomness. There is certainly, on a universal scale, increasing entropy. But LOCALLY there can be increasing ORDER. This allows for humans and human behavior via evolution (at least that is the theory which has been pretty well established and even the Collins book scoffs at "intelligent design" - here's a xtian who accepts so-called "randomness" (evolution) plus time as a reasonable answer for the order we see.

    You are missing the entire point of evolution - it is not SIMPLY random - it is random PLUS time. Here is another place where the bible is dead wrong - I think only a moron believes the earth is ~6000 years old - but this is what the bible claims. So much for inerrancy.

    Maybe you are getting at a different point which is (i think something like) 'if our origin is random then how can we be SURE that we are not Matrix-like pod people, or thetans, or some other being's fantasy, or something like that.'

    i.e. If we don't accept a definitive explanation of the universe (god, that is) then we have no foundation to accept what is and what is not reality.
    (BTW, I think you need to explain this better because I am struggling with how this is logical.)

    But, just for argument, let's accept this premise (which, again, i don't fully agree with). All it does is offer a possible solution for existence (ie god did it). Here's another offer: matter has always existed though infinite big bangs and crunches. this cycle has resulted over billions of years in intelligent life that understands the importance of mutual interests which lead to morality and right and wrong... Now, how does this second theory have no basis in reality? This theory is certainly plausible and there is good evidence for it. There is absolutely NO REASON to think that our perceptions about what we experience or observe are unreliable if this second scenario is correct. What I would ask of you is, assume the second theory IS correct - NOW tell me something that you experienced or observed that contradicts this theory.

    I can offer you alot of reasons for the (possible) non-existence of god (war, hate, poverty, suffering, dead children, mutant infants, the Olsen twins) We know these things to exist and these to me bespeak for either no god, a non-benevolent god, or a non-interested god.

    Waiting for your response but realize that I have pretty much gone Socrates on your ass. (he was greek so probably would be into that)

  135. duck, dodge, repeat. fuck you. jk (sunshine, sparkle).

    yes, under my definition there are probably no atheist martyrs.
    –noun 1. a person who willingly suffers death rather than renounce his or her religion.
    2. a person who is put to death or endures great suffering on behalf of any belief, principle, or cause: a martyr to the cause of social justice.
    3. a person who undergoes severe or constant suffering: a martyr to severe headaches.
    4. a person who seeks sympathy or attention by feigning or exaggerating pain, deprivation, etc.
    –verb (used with object) 5. to make a martyr of, esp. by putting to death.
    6. to torment or torture.

    so perhaps we can both be correct here. i agree that it is a sidebar but let me try one more time to explain my point in bringing it up in the first place.

    if we are to take 'morality' as a product of evolution and uprbringing, and that's all it is by your definition, then the Germany example serves a purpose. it shows that we could easily evolve a morality that is upside down from what you and i agree is 'basic human goodness'. again, that's why i chose the convenient example of nazi morality. we all think it was wrong, but if they had won the war then, by your thinking, Jews would now, and should be, extinct.

    Re the origin of the universe you are close to my point and I'll have to read up a bit, but you are perilously close to believing in a sort of God if you believe that the Universe is either a. static or b. continually expanding and contracting.

    The reason I say this is that you seem to be arguing for a singularity, something that has always been, though in different forms, this is what I call God, though my God is outside the system and therefore not proveable by hard science.

    I know of nothing else in our human experience that has 'always been' or is 'perpetually renewed'. one thing that hard science folks like you can not accept, and, quite frankly, i understand why, is that there might be something outside the system, like God.

    but back to your question. you would probably say that science is reliable because it is reproducible. okay, given, but WHY is it?

    that gets to my point, which is, again, a philosophical and epistemologic one. let's face it, if you don't care about why we know or how we know what we DO know then my line of argument is not going to be convincing to you .

    in other words... if the universe had a beginning, which i believe it did (and no, i don't believe in a 'young earth' nor does the human genome guy that you read), and that beginning was a 'big bang' caused by nothing in particular, or a prior universe that contracted, and on and on, and there was no initiator or planner, then we are faced with making logical deductions from an illogical beginning.

    every cause has an effect, and every effect a cause. every THING does not have a cause, but all EFFECTS do. so, if the universe's expansion (the effect of something) has no CAUSE then you are talking about something outside of human experience.

    agreed re 2nd law, but again, increasing order is due to an application of energy. where does the energey to create order come from. in what other thing does increasing order happen without the application of an intelligence?

    you may say that we see it all the time with evolution and the formation of planets etc.. and i agree. but why? trace it back to the beginning of it all and again, why? and who? or what?

    why should the second law be abrogated? and, for that matter, if there are laws, who authored them. from randomness comes laws. from an inexplicalbe beginning or an inexplicalbe 'always was' comes order. that part is very confusing to me.

    this is where i think you take the same leap of faith you say that i do. i see the same data, you say that it was just always this way and needs no master's touch, i say the opposite. i think, in these terms, that God is a much better explanation, especially when you must either then explain the universal human belief in God (universal as 'in all cultures at all times in history... not every person) as either a glitch in evolution, a convenient pipe dream or wish-fulfillment fantasy, or delusional.

    and yes, collins is an evolutionist but he has the same problem i do as he is not comfortable with an effect without a cause.

    and really, i'm not missing the point of evolution, i understand that the mantra is 'enough time and enough mutations' etc... and i get it... really.

    now you can teach me something though, and i'm typing this at work neglecting my patients, tell me about the 'theory of large numbers' because i think it bears on the 'monkeys at a typewriter' saw... i have read some stuff in the academic literature re mathemiticians are coming to doubt if those monkeys really could type up 'romeo and juliet'.

    as to something in my experience that contracdicts the 'it always was here and there is no explanation' i guess i would have to say my whole life. not being a smart ass, mentioned this above in more detail, don't know of anything that has always existed without a beginning (except God), don't know of any cause without an effect or vice versa.

    a Christian answer to the 'problem of pain' you have read and didn't like. free will. don't know why this doesn't, at least, make logical sense to you whether you like the answer or not. if there is a game then there are winners and losers and people can cheat. if not, then we are merely robots and there is no free will.

    at least the Christian answer does provide a place for the cheaters and provides for justice. i think, at least, that that must seem satisfying, but that the rest of Christian theology is distasteful for you.

    socrates is my boy.

  136. the law of large #s you refer to as 'the monkey problem' certainly is debateable. It rests on the nature of infinity. Infinity itself is god-like: it is outside our experience - so to say: infinte #s of monkeys + infinite time = Moby Dick, is not testable or 'provable' really, dick.

    I think you would agree that a billoin monkeys banging on typewriters would, given say a billion years, maybe bang out "Ca".. another billion maybe "Call m", another billoin "Call me Ish"... etc...

    The 'problem' is that without INFINTE time, the infinitely unlikely thing will never happen. Is writing Moby Dick 'infinitely' unlikely? Probably not.

    Now, the 'cause and effect' issue that you are talking about is the most basic point in the Sproul book. No effect can be without a cause. seems reasonable. God certainly is one answer to this. Fine. I accept that. I think another very reasonable possibility is that the 'cause' of the present universe is simply that matter itself has always existed. The concept of infinity, again, is not graspable by humans. Call that "god" or "matter" or whatever. I accept both explanations as reasonable possibilities.

    Getting from this point to accepting Xanity is very tough to me. to belabor the point - the only way to get to a xtian belief is to take the bible as reliable and as the word of god. you HAVE TO believe these stories as reality or I think you are fooling yourself. Nothing in my experience leads me to believe that the bible is reliable - therefore I can't accept it as the word of god. period. There are so many events depicted that do not jibe with history or with my own personal experience that it becomes non-believable. I dont believe in, for example: miracles, raising from the dead, people who live to 1000 years old, parting a sea, an ark, etc, etc... I also think 'free will' is bullshit in a xtian philosophy: it is used to explain bad stuff. This is crap because, for example, if we have TRUE 'free will' then we all wouldn't have the so-called universal belief in god (which I don't believe, btw, but this is what christians use as 'proof' of god). The claim is that basically, we must believe in god because god 'put' that belief in us. That sounds like the opposite of free will. Free will is used, again, as positive evidence, but not negative evidence: THIS is my real problem with religion.

    Religion (xanity) lacks the ability to look at itself critically. It STARTS at 'god exists, the bible is fact,let me show you why'. Not "god either exists or does not" here are the possibilities and here are the reasons xtian, buddhist, muslim etc. faiths have contradictions.

    the universal belief in god is bullshit BTW. It seems unlikely that this so-called universal belief would lead the VAST MAJORITY of the world to be WRONG (according to your beliefs). Xtians are a minority of the world's population. Why do 7/8ths of the world get it wrong if we supposedly ALL have this universal belief?

    Bullshit call, win the game.

  137. i think we may be arriving at a point of agreed upon disagreement and a position where we understand and respect each other's opinions. i promise not to laugh at you from heaven. of course, you will probably enjoy hell so that's cool.

    i understand your problem with the Bible but i do not think the Bible is an 'either believe it all literally or don't believe any of it'.

    i think you have to satisfy yourself about who Christ was. i think Lewis here makes the most powerful argument about Christ in Mere Christianity. i don't think you would say, nor do i hear even critics of Chrsitianity claim that Christ did not live, so therefore you must answer who or what he was.

    you yourself are arguing for free will by not believing in God.

    i do not say, again oh reading challenged friend, that a belief in God is 'universal' in the sense that everyone believes in God, merely that religion is a part of every culture that has ever existed and when it's been punished (as in communist regimes) or forced in one direction or the other from above then it stubbornly holds.

    i don't say, nor does Lewis, that God put the belief in God 'in us', but that we all have a sense of right, wrong, and fair play, and, to this extent, it argues FOR an author of this sense. evolution can explain this with back flips and twists and turns and over the rest of our lifetime 'science's' explanation will twist and turn and, if you are correct, eventually explain it all without the need for God.

    i believe, since these things are not yet testable then science will never explain the things that are outside its scope.

    one thing you are forgetting about the free will thing is that the New Testament, and Old, does speak of an evil being who is the author of disease and evil and tempts humans to separate them from happiness and God. so, add this to your equation and scoff at the devil (or shout at him if you are a motley crue fan or whatever shit metal band had an album had an album called that) or not, but you are missing this point.

    i must disagree that Xianity lacks the ability to look at itself critically. the books you have read, 'mere christianity' do NOT, in fact, start as you say, nor does sproull, but whatever, you can't read worth a shit.

    finally, i can't answer your criticism as to why '7/8 of the world' gets it wrong. probably because they aren't as smart as i am. in all seriousness, this is the most troubling of all Christian theology. the answer is not satisfying and it goes something like this... 'that is why you are called to spread the word, so that all may here and decide for themselves'. many are called, few are chosen. you, however, have no excuse, bitch.

    bullshit call, I won the game.

  138. you say in the same breath: free will causes evil AND that we have a 'sense' of right and wrong. to restate: we have free will, but wait, no we don't. I kick ass.

    also, I read your punkass into the ground. sproul claims to be be critical, but if you actually read it in an unbiased way, see that he has started from a forgone conclusion. he constantly sites scriptural passages as 'proof' of god. this is the ultimate circular reasoning. nonetheless, my critisism of xtianity being uncritical of itself refers more to (and i keep coming back to this) situations like the prayer study. I accept as evidence a positive OR negative outcome. The xtian ONLY accepts one outcome as valid and explains a negative result away. I would truly question my core beliefs with a positive outcome. I do NOT hear the same questioning from xtians. You can't have it both ways, B.

    I think it's important to reasonably answer the 7/8ths question above. you admit your answer is unsatisfactory. does this force you to question your belief? If so, kudos. If not, you have proven my point.

    I'm like the John Holmes of philosophy - exept for the gay porn thing.

  139. we have free will and when you have it you can choose to do wrong. hard to understand? you know that masturbation causes blindness but you wax the dolphin 8times a day.

    i'll have to take you at your word that sproul's argument is wrong as you are clearly more objective than i am. one thing i will say though that you yourself are guilty of the same mistake in starting from a God does not exist standpoint.

    here we get to liberal punk ass problems with language and predispotions and whether two people can actually communicate in a meaningul way.

    God can not be tested in a lab. again, if he exists he's outside our ability to 'test him' and 'do not test the Lord your God' etc...

    circular? if he doesn't exist, yes. do you believe love exists? prove it.

    finally, yes, i question my beliefs every day. as i said at the start, my faith is not rock solid, in fact, the folks i have met with rock solid faith tend to be asswipes (my in-laws a notable exception), so reading hitchen's was hard but he turns out, in GING to be a bit of a crank with a fluid pen. dawkins next.

    out bitch.

  140. here's one for your side by my favorite author...


    During many ages there were witches. The Bible said so. The Bible commanded that they should not be allowed to live. Therefore the Church, after eight hundred years, gathered up its halters, thumb-screws, and firebrands, and set about its holy work in earnest. She worked hard at it night and day during nine centuries and imprisoned, tortured, hanged, and burned whole hordes and armies of witches, and washed the Christian world clean with their foul blood.
    Then it was discovered that there was no such thing as witches, and never had been. One does not know whether to laugh or to cry.....There are no witches. The witch text remains; only the practice has changed. Hell fire is gone, but the text remains. Infant damnation is gone, but the text remains. More than two hundred death penalties are gone from the law books, but the texts that authorized them remain.

    - Mark Twain, "Bible Teaching and Religious Practice," Europe and Elsewhere

  141. finished Sproul.

    Here's my take: he sets out to do two things: show proof of god's existence and show proof of biblibal reliability.

    His first task he does reasonably well - I was convinced by his arguments regarding 'chance' for instance. But at the end of the day you are left with 'something has always existed' - he calls this god. Fair enough. I think it's also reasonable to call it something else 'the universe', 'matter' or whatever. I think this is a dead end to try to 'prove' anything further. I think neither side has a 'provable' answer. You can say (reasonably) 'god makes the most sense'. I can't really argue that and think it is ultimately UNarguable.

    His second point is tough: 'prove' the bible is reliable. He sites 'intrinsic' and 'extrisic' proofs. The 'intrinsic' are, in my opinion, undefendable. You certainly CAN say, jesus is either god or insane, fine. But to calim that the "beauty of the writing" and the "sense that it feels right" (he overtly makes these claims)constitute 'proof' is absurd. He then goes on to claim that 'archeology' etc.. has borne out the claims of the bible. I'm certainly no expert but I have read some (devout) sources that claim the opposite. Ultimately, sproul fails in his second task (in my opinion). He sets a very high bar ('we must prove the bible is inerrant or we are dead wrong') and then fails to clear it. I want to hear your take on these two points and how you felt he did...

    Another subject: you claim that god is not testable. If the prayer study had shown a powerful, reproducable effect of prayer would you discount that? I don't think so, and neither would I.

    I admit that I approch these readings with a 'god does not exist' bias (although I also freely admit not to KNOW anything for sure - ie I too question my "faith", like you). The stated task of the sproul book is to convice a skeptic - or at least to reasonably address a skeptic's critisisms using apologetics or logic. I think his logic is flawed and it calls his arguments into question - for example, he sites biblical passages as 'proof' for certain claims; he then fails to offer a compelling case for biblical reliability - this destroys his case. Looks like Mark Twain would agree.

    want to hear why you think Hitchen's is a crank. I completely agree that he is intentionally iconoclastic / inflammatory for effect. but what specifically about his arguments do you find failing???

    Why can't we all just get along?

  142. i will just hand you hitchen's book with my margin notes.

    i think the archaeological evidence IS compelling and the deeper we dig the more we understand this. for instance, solomon's temple was just disovered in jerusalem on a dig site.

    the way archaeology gives me comfort re the Bible is that as time progresses the cities mentioned are discovered and, while certainly not exhaustive, the empires and leaders mentioned in the Old Testament are confirmed.

    oppose this with, say, mormonism, where there is not a scintilla of evidence that anything in the book of mormon ever existed.

    and no, if the prayer study had showed significant POSITIVE correlation with better outcome that would be my best evidence for disbelief, though i agree it would be seized upon as 'proof of God' by a whole bunch of people.

    the reason i say this is that a God that could be proved by his creation would be nothing more than a super-human... not nearly the omniscient/omnipotent creator.

    in defense of sproul he does not, if recall correctly, set out to prove Biblical reliability, rather to make a philosophical case for the existence of God. he does, in fact, have a whole bunch of stuff that deals with Biblical reliability which seems to be your major hangup. i'll see what i can find that is written on your level with pictures, large type, and diagrams.

    more later.

  143. I'm now not sure you actually read sproul's book. He sets TWO TASKS, one of which is to make a case for biblical reliability. I will search for the Cliff Notes version for you...

    Absolutely agree that one of my 'hangups' is biblical reliability. Since you did not read sprouls several chapters solely dedicated to EXACTLY THIS, I'm not even sure where to start... Look, if, as you claim, archeology is confirming biblical history (where is that ark by the way?), then good. I'm a logical person. This gives more credence to biblical reliability ("BR" from here out). Does it matter to you that there is evidence of mistakes in the bible? (eg timing of christ's life and herod's reign - biblical history seems to contadict archeology.) That DOES matters to me.

    Look, your beliefs are based on the bible. Christ himself accepted the Old Testament as the word of God. I think BR is absolutely critical, not to the existence of a deity, but to acceptance of christianity. If the bible (btw, we haven't even approached the question of 'what bible' since multiple versions exist) can be shown to be contradictory, then your Xian belief should be questioned. I think it is totally wrong to dismiss the (at least apparent to me) inaccuracies of, for example, the OT. according to jesus, the OT is the word of god. (sproul points this out but i guess you didn't read that part).

    there was a recently published book by a rabbi who is an OT scholar setting out the postive and negative evidece for OT accuracy... I read the review which said that he tears the OT a new asshole (but he, of course, ultimately concludes that this doesn't matter...go figure). It was well reviewed - I'll see if I can track it down, might be interesting. Remember, you actually have to read it though.

  144. dude,

    it has been month or so since i read it so i can't say you are wrong but you are very 'yes' or 'no' oriented. that sucks, i wish it were that simple.

    the Bible is very difficult and i know this explanation will not satisfy you and i've offered it before...

    the Bible is not a history book though part of it is history. the Bible is not a textbook. it is not a rule book. it is a compilation of the word of God. part of it is poetry, there are many parables, there are songs, there are portions that absolutely do NOT make sense if read as a text or as history.

    taken as a whole it either stands or falls. the Christian position is that it is inspired by God and written by man. so, if an all knowing God inspired the Bible it is as he wants it and there are no different versions and no 'lost books'.

    yes, this is circular, however, the circularness of the argument centers on whether God exists or not.

    if he does, and the Bible is his word then no amount of human scholarship will ad or subtract from it.

    there are certainly different translations and new 'versions' but, as opposed to the book of mormon, which has been changed almost 200 times with the 'mormonism is bunk' crowd and even mormons aware of this, the Bible, in its revisions, has not changed in substance.

    this is an area in which i can provide some citations and references and as i've told you before the Old Testament is very hard for me.

    and finally, my beliefs are supported by the Bible but i didn't read the Bible and have an epiphany. i certainly read it and read it again and studied it in high school.

    i think i would always have defaulted to agnostic/Christian from age twelve up but in the summer and fall of 1995 a crisis where i had no way out forced me to come to grips with core beliefs or at least form them and to act accordingly. i have not been disappointed by God, only by myself and by other folks.

    obtw, since you can appreciate the concept of infinity in mathematics and how we 'can't wrap our minds around it' i do not believe it's much of a step to believe in God, the step is to believe in the Christian God.

  145. agree completely with your last paragraph. The options come down to : god explains things vs. some other 'god-like' thing explains things (infiine matter / time / universe whatever)... I think we agree here.

    The fact that you can point to a specific crisis makes me believe that you DID have a sort of epiphany... this is something I HAVE NOT experienced and maybe this type of thing, like you said, forces the issue (and maybe is necessary to take the 'leap of faith')

    interested to see your margin notes in GING...

    one other thing: in this last post you accept that you are forced into a circular argument. Here's the rub. To accept a circular argument you are forced to step outside of 'reason'. therefore, ultimately, this IS a blind leap of faith. you have claimed to come to god through reason - but when it REALLY comes down to it it's a blind leap... I don't say this to belittle it, I say it to point out that you (i think) have previously REJECTED the 'blind faith' approach.

    Maybe ANY 'ultimate question' requires a blind leap of faith, and maybe I'm doing it to. Were just leaping to different spots while looking at the same evidence. Fascinating...

  146. almost agree with all.

    i think i was forced to jump one direction or the other, but to me i did it on the best understanding i could come to and based on what i learned both in life and in science and school etc... i prayed for an answer, there were no 'signs', the options were scary, all of them, so it wasn't a least resistance path, it was, in fact, a very difficult path, but one i felt, was going to lead to long term, and, perhaps, eternal 'rightness'.

    so, in that respect it was not 'blind' but was certainly a leap.

    agree 100% with your last paragraph. i think the money is in those situations, i think the money, for many, comes 'in the foxhole'.

    fear? wish fulfillment? perhpaps, but the Chrisian 'wish fulfillment' is a hard pill compared with, say, bhuddism. you can, in fact, lose in my game, and contrary to the eastern religions, there is no 'do over'.