If God has stated that he will not intervene why do religious people pray?

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Discussion by: naskew

I think we all watched in horror as recent storms killed many people in the Philippines but what struck me was that when you ask the question "How could your God do that to those people" many religious people state that God has given us free will and does not get involved in the day to day running of the show. OK so he's a kind of hands off God, I can see how that would help the devout continue their belief (or perhaps suspend their disbelief) in times of utter horror. What I do not understand is why they then turn up to their place of worship and pray. Surely that will just annoy any deity who has made it clear that he is not going to get involved and no matter how much we might not like it, Auntie Flo's cancer is still going to take her sooner or later.

468 COMMENTS

  1. Not only that but he deliberately and knowingly caused all the pain and suffering in the world since he knew exactly what was going to happen when he created everything. Good job he also gave believers blinkers.

  2. Has god made it clear that “he is not going to get involved”?

    I think like “God works in mysterious ways,” and every other bit of biblical revisionism, the idea of non-interventionist deity has been tagged on by theoligians to explain the absence of intervention not because it’s any part of scripture.

    • In reply to #2 by Veleng:

      Has god made it clear that “he is not going to get involved”?

      Of course not. Either such an entity does not exist, in which case the question of a statement by this entity does not arise-still less its involvement in anything . Or He exists. In that case, one thing that seems clear is that he has not (yet) made clear statements on anything. If He had, then there would not continue to be the cacophony among His numerous followers ( and throughout the ages and up to now on what is the scope of His interventions, if any, how to please Him etc

  3. The theological question here is: Did God plan Auntie Flo’s cancer? According to scripture, God knew what he was doing and he did it boldly! St Paul clearly teaches that nothing can be an after-thought of God if he is truly omniscient. God does not engage in laboratory experiments in order to learn how things will turn out. He is supposed to know already. St Paul does not hide from the conclusion that God not only knew Aunt Flo would have cancer, he actually predestined her to have cancer. Unfair? St Paul does not think so. It is not unfair because God is not subject to the principles of fairness. God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, but there is no court of appeal for Pharaoh to go to. God simply predetermined to use him, and God “hardens the heart of whomever he wills (Romans 9:18).”

  4. the act of praying says more about gods followers than god. if we accept god has a plan and decides all, like who goes to heaven and hell etc, then for one of his subjects to offer notes on how best to go about his tyranny speaks volumes to me.

    consider the queen ant. a large and regal insect, directing her subjects through her pheremone commands, what a life she has. of course it’s not such a great life, she’s a slave to her sisters and brothers, they defend her until they need to kill her off when the swarm splits, meanwhile screwing her for all she’s worth. a bit like how religions are made.

    Praying has been described as asking nature to suspend her laws while claiming not to be worthy. christianity is a great example, they worship a dead scapegoat. it’s not a million miles from the last scen of The Wicker Man. King, Fool, Slave, it’s all the same, it’s the will of ordinary people. They invent gods, defend them with laws and violence, claiming their god is bigger and harder than yours but secretly believeing they ultimately make it’s decisions.

    one word: Megalomania

  5. The 1755 Lisbon earthquake was so terrible, and happened on a holy day that it had a huge affect on the thinking of many people about whether god exists, and inspired essays by many now famous philosophers arguing god does not exist.

    Why god allows evil is a question people have been asking for centuries, and the only rational answer is he doesn’t exist. Some people will hold onto cherished beliefs in the face of mountains of evidence, but this evidence does eventually sway some.

  6. Because they think they are SPECIAL! In a sense I find the god of the old testament more rational in this regard. He was quite cruel and vindictive. He regularly punished people and made them suffer. Sometimes even righteous people (for example Job). Jesus on the other hand says: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” That is a whole other approach. Quite a brilliant one from a marketing perspective. This idea that if you just pray, then you will get what you want. Especially in USA (the land of capitalism) this idea seems to be the heart of Christianity. Being Christian is not about humility. It’s about entitlement. If you are a good Christian you are entitled to whatever you want. If bad things happen to you, well then obviously you are not a good Christian. This is actually a quite new idea within Christianity. An idea that most Christians in Europe find quite strange. Especially the protestants in Europe are to a large extent influenced by Luther and the idea of duties. In other words it’s not about what god can do for you, but what you can do for god. This view stresses the importance of humility and a simple life. This is of course the problem. Both the “pray and you’ll get whatever you want” and the “righteousness is your only reward” views can be traced back to the bible.

  7. It’s the same inconsistency of thought that you see in people who pray to god in thanks for their survival when many around them have been killed by such a disaster. ‘Thank you god for saving me!’ ….but what about the others? Why allow anyone to be killed if God’s(s’) having a special on interventions this week…terrible solipsism.

  8. I think the main reason you find this type of dichotomy in religion is because they assume the conclusion. They “know” God wouldn’t do anything unless it had a net benefit and so with this conclusion they form their argument. Unfortunately, what you find is that they say for really large, tragic things that God is hands off, but for small insignificant things he is very hands on. I really think this creates a dissonance in most people and so religious people end up compartmentalizing these two forms of thought.

  9. They don’t understand the problem with being omniscient. If you know everything then you can’t change your mind. God doesn’t have free will and cannot respond to the incantations but they like the sound of the idea so when they pray for a minor miracle and things go as they’d hoped for then they think they have a been singled out for special consideration by somebody who makes stars and galaxies.

    Theism is predicated on the notion that a god is not merely interested in human affairs but he/she/it is capable of tampering with them

  10. Religions are not amenable to logic….I guess that’s the crux of the matter. That’s why god will find you a place to park and ignore the faithful masses in the Philippines in their time of need. Mysterious ways and all that.

  11. The key to the success of an imaginary being , is making it impossible to ever reach.

    God exists, but he does not get involved. That is why he gave humans free will. He also gave free will to viruses bacteria and fault lines.

    You can’t see god but god sees you. He works in mysterious ways.

    Only god can choose to help but only if you are pious enough and if he chooses not to help there must be a reason. god only knows but doesn’t tell.

    He sees you when you are sleeping he knows when you are awake, he knows if you been good or bad so be good for goodness sake….

    Very disappointing god but keep up the faith he may just listen one day..

  12. I think Epicurus summed it up nicely:

    “Is god willing to prevent evil, but not able?
    The he is not omnipotent.
    Is he able, but not willing?
    Then he is malevolent.
    Is he both able and willing?
    Then whence cometh evil?
    Is he neither able nor willing?
    Then why call him god?”

    The bible is quite explicit re: prayers, if any two come together and pray about any one thing it will surely come to pass…not to mention promises that christians would be known by their ability to perform miracles so saying god doesn’t interfer because of free will doesn’t wash as far as I am concerned. The assertion that god works in mysterious ways is another of those pointless platitudes regurgitated in the face of the fact gods actions seem indistinguishable from shear randomeity… worse, it is employed to justify a fatalistic world-view. The judaic god apparently organised a competition between his prophet and the priests of baal to see whose god was real by igniting a sacrifice with fire from heaven. Strange how god has apparently suddenly become concerned that being obviously in evidence somehow compromises our free will.

    Hand-off god my codlings!

  13. you’re pointing to a contradiction on a religion wich is completely based on a book full of contradictions.

    A – on one side it tells you that this world is merely made to put to test your faith, that true life starts when you die and that you should not care at anything on earth, and that’s why god would not intervene ( and that’s why miracles should make no sense not only to rational thinkers but also to believers ).

    B – on the other side it tells you that if you pray strong enough and have enough faith god will make everything possible here, wich will make uneffective the purpose of point A.

    so, here again is shown how blind faith can make you accept anything.

  14. Life is tough, and those who believe in God don’t get an easy ride. Jesus Christ did not promise to abolish hospitals but to reveal a way of life that stands up to suffering.

    Removing suffering would not only restrict the choices we could make as humans, but would remove one of the main ways we develop and grow. A person who has never suffered doesn’t know who they really are. Instead of attempting to erase hardship, a Christian faith gives the strength, courage and serenity to face suffering, in whatever form that may take.

    I know that I couldn’t do the job that I do without prayer – not because it enables me to wave a magic wand, but because it reminds me that many of the things I stress about are simply not worth dwelling on. In measuring my success by a different standard to those around me, I believe that I live a life that is, ultimately, more fulfilling.

    To quote C.S. Lewis – “I don’t pray to change God’s mind, I pray to change my mind.”

    • In reply to #18 by Humbug:

      Life is tough, and those who believe in God don’t get an easy ride.

      Those who don’t believe in God get the same ride.

      A person who has never suffered doesn’t know who they really are.

      How true, especially for the baby dying slowly, horribly of malaria.

      But its the life lesson it gives to the rest of us, surely and the baby sacrificed for our moral betterment will get fixed up later?

      If its even noticed amongst the thousands…millions. Unknown people die, unseen, in ditches every day.

      Edifying suffering might make some kind of sense if it were handed out to each of us in due measure. But no. Those least able to “benefit” are those most often elected to suffer.

      I’m glad you might talk to yourself about these things. Does it fire you up enough to thwart God’s sick, educational plan by donating prodigiously to anti malaria campaigns?

      • In reply to #19 by phil rimmer:

        Edifying suffering might make some kind of sense if it were handed out to each of us in due measure. But no. Those least able to “benefit” are those most often elected to suffer.

        How do you measure suffering and how do you determine who is best set to “benefit” from it? I know people dying of cancer who suffer less than people with minor ailments.

        Helen Keller was blind and deaf from the age of 18 months and lived in this state for over 80 years. This is her take on suffering: “Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it. My optimism, then, does not rest on the absence of evil, but on a glad belief in the preponderance of good and a willing effort always to cooperate with the good, that it may prevail.”

        Does it fire you up enough to thwart God’s sick, educational plan by donating prodigiously to anti malaria campaigns?

        We, as a society, have everything we need to save people from malaria. Do a Google search for “malaria cure” and the first thing that comes up is a Christian Aid page asking for £3 to buy a mosquito net. Prayer is not about sitting back and expecting God to step in, it’s about increasing awareness of those in need and inspiring action to help them.

        For a wider discussion of what it means to be a Christian in a world of suffering and inequality, see Pope Francis – The Joy Of The Gospel.

        • In reply to #22 by Humbug:
          >

          How do you measure suffering and how do you determine who is best set to “benefit” from…one of the main ways we develop and grow…

          Prayer is not about sitting back and expecting God to step in

          It is whenever performed correctly. Prayer is arguing with gods to intervene, despite biblegod clearly stating he won’t allow anyone to interfere with his divine plan of endless suffering. As naskew has suggested this must be highly irritating to your god.

          Suffering isn’t beneficial, nor does it contribute meaningfully to development or growth for anyone.

          • In reply to #24 by Len Walsh:
            >

            Prayer is not about sitting back and expecting God to step in

            It is whenever performed correctly. Prayer is arguing with gods to intervene…

            That may be your opinion, but it is not what the Catholic Church teaches. For that, see Part 4 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. If you want something more detailed, try A School of Prayer by Pope Benedict. I’m sure you won’t agree with much of what they contain, but they will help to clear up your misunderstandings about what the Church teaches prayer to be.

            Suffering isn’t beneficial, nor does it contribute meaningfully to development or growth for anyone.

            Again, this is your opinion. For many people, suffering is as bleak and meaningless as you describe, but not for all. I, along with many others, have found that my Christian faith enables me to grow and develop through suffering. The times when I’ve suffered most have become catalysts for major, positive changes in the way I choose to live my life.

          • In reply to #25 by Humbug:

            my Christian faith enables me to grow and develop through suffering. The times when I’ve suffered most have become catalysts for major, positive changes in the way I choose to live my life.

            Aren’t there quite enough difficulties in life without having to endure suffering? Besides, suffering is likely to have a substantial cost and result in permanent damage. What would the benefit be to you of having your legs amputated as opposed to something merely unpleasant like a bout of flu? Christian masochism (or sadism) arises from the obsession with the torture and execution of Jesus.

          • In reply to #26 by aldous:
            >

            Christian masochism (or sadism) arises from the obsession with the torture and execution of Jesus.

            I am not recommending suffering as something to be sought out. The point I am making is that suffering can have profoundly positive consequences.

            My brother, Jamie, died of spinal cancer when he was fifteen. It was a terrible and painful time for him and all of us in the family and is something that I would never wish on another person. However, in the midst of that suffering we experienced something profound. This was later recorded by David Forrester, a family friend, in his book, Fully Alive – The Process Of Loving.

            “Jamie’s suffering affected not just his family, his school associates, and fellow Catholics in his home parish, but the whole village community in which he lived. Everyone who visited and spoke to Jamie came away feeling somehow uplifted and more caring; Jamie’s inner strength and serenity increased as he approached closer to death. Even more impressive was the fact that his interest in and love for those around his sick bed grew. He clearly preferred to hear of the pain of others and to empathise with them, rather than to receive their sympathy. Jamie was supposed to be the sick one and yet it was Jamie who was, in a sense, healing others with his compassion.

            … At Jamie’s funeral there was standing room only, a testimony to the extent to which his courage and victorious struggle had affected so many. It was also a remarkably joyous occasion. While the keynote of the ceremony was relief that Jamie’s sufferings were now at an end, there was also a sense in which we all felt indebted to him for having taught us through his suffering and “other-centredness” that compassion is an integral part of the service of others.”

          • Strange how you shift from your brother Jamie’s suffering to it causing “we” to experience something profound.
            The profundity was there all along, you “all” just were ignorant to it. What was the outcome for Jamie (the actual one suffering)? I understand finding a silver lining, but this is really crappy.

            Perhaps “empathy” should be your next epiphany. Do you think Jamie would rather be alive, not suffering; or die horribly so that you all could “have a moment”?

            Oh, and I am SURE every one in the packed funeral hall has been effectively changed FOREVER. Compassion for others??? HAHAHAHAHA. Yeah right. No more road rage, no more binge drinking, wife beating, adultery….etc….

            In reply to #28 by Humbug:

            In reply to #26 by aldous:

            Christian masochism (or sadism) arises from the obsession with the torture and execution of Jesus.

            I am not recommending suffering as something to be sought out. The point I am making is that suffering can have profoundly positive consequences.

            My brother, Jamie, died…

          • In reply to #29 by crookedshoes:

            Do you think Jamie would rather be alive, not suffering; or die horribly so that you all could “have a moment”?

            Of course, Jamie would rather be alive. Of course, Jamie hoped he would get better. However, Jamie was not afraid, or bitter, or resentful at what was happening to him. As a result, he endured his suffering in a way that inspired many people who met him.

            Oh, and I am SURE every one in the packed funeral hall has been effectively changed FOREVER. Compassion for others??? HAHAHAHAHA. Yeah right.

            It was certainly the case for me and the other members of my family. We remain in touch with many family and friends who describe something similar. Furthermore, a friend we lost touch with still remembered Jamie over twenty years later and felt his example was inspirational enough to include in a book on love.

            Jamie’s story is by no means unique. Many people in the midst of suffering are inspired by their faith to bring about love, forgiveness and peace. For another illustration, visit The Jimmy Mizen Foundation.

          • Many people in the midst of suffering are inspired by their faith to bring about love, forgiveness and peace

            But there is no control to know whether they would arrive at the same love, forgiveness, and peace WITHOUT faith and suffering.

            You do not know if it was there all along.

            I certainly have had people in my life suffer and carry it with me and it sculpts and can change who you are. However, faith and suffering are not prerequisite, that is my thesis. I am truly sorry if my post seemed callous, but I can view the occurrences dispassionately, while being close to the events can cause bias.

            But, do not mistake that bias for something more than what it is. We all feel it. It is not the sole property of the faithful, and suffering is a shitty thing.

            The point of the OP is that god doesn’t give a shit and even in the book the faithful bandy about, it is clearly stated.

            You make/find the meaning in your life, and your story about Jamie really reinforces that. No need for fairies.

            In reply to #30 by Humbug:

            In reply to #29 by crookedshoes:

            Do you think Jamie would rather be alive, not suffering; or die horribly so that you all could “have a moment”?

            Of course, Jamie would rather be alive. Of course, Jamie hoped he would get better. However, Jamie was not afraid, or bitter, or resentful at what was…

          • how does young children and new born babies suffering by being drown in tsunami get profound positive consequence ?

            In reply to #26 by aldous:

            Christian masochism (or sadism) arises from the obsession with the torture and execution of Jesus.

            I am not recommending suffering as something to be sought out. The point I am making is that suffering can have profoundly positive consequences.

            My brother, Jamie, died…

          • In reply to #25 by Humbug:

            In reply to #24 by Len Walsh:

            Prayer is not about sitting back and expecting God to step in

            It is whenever performed correctly. Prayer is arguing with gods to intervene…

            That may be your opinion, but it is not what the Catholic Church teaches. For that, see Part 4 of the Catechism of the Catho…

            It’s amazing how much better one feels when the beating stops.

          • In reply to #25 by Humbug:

            In reply to #24 by Len Walsh:

            Prayer is not about sitting back and expecting God to step in

            It is whenever performed correctly. Prayer is arguing with gods to intervene…

            …what the Catholic Church teaches…

            Humbug, as a highly qualified theologian I’m quite familiar with all the Catholic instruments of prayer. These devices promote ecstatic feelings which Catholics frequently confuse for love. However only sadists or masochists associate such love with suffering and pain.

            According to official Catholic dogma “acts of prayer and worship should be performed to chastise the flesh and bring the body into subjection to obtain certain graces” and therefore, to be in full communion with that particular cult requires prayer using a cilice, hair shirt, studded thong or a scourge of iron as forms of “corporal mortification” to help appease Yahweh’s insatiable appetite for pain and suffering. Everyone who has read the Introduction to the Devout Life of St. Francis de Sales appreciates how he recommends the use of self flagellation to all people living in the world and not merely those living in monasteries or perhaps Manilla during Easter celebrations.
            http://www.cilice.co.uk/

          • In reply to #25 by Humbug:

            In reply to #24 by Len Walsh:

            Prayer is not about sitting back and expecting God to step in

            It is whenever performed correctly. Prayer is arguing with gods to intervene…

            That may be your opinion, but it is not what the Catholic Church teaches. For that, see Part 4 of the Catechism of the Catho…
            You can also manage suffering by going to a therapy group, talking to supportive friends, having a (one) glass of wine, Bio-feedback, hypnotism etc. Since God won’t answer you may as well comfort yourself without God.

        • In reply to #22 by Humbug:

          In reply to #19 by phil rimmer:

          How do you measure suffering and how do you determine who is best set to “benefit” from it? I know people dying of cancer who suffer less than people with minor ailments.

          I completely agree that the overt ailment or apparent grief or whatever does not correlate reliably with suffering. I have written about such here quite recently. A degree of randomness might be expected.

          It is not the unpredictabiity of suffering so much as the perverse and consistent distribution of it. The rich need only be mildy inconvenienced for their character forming therapy. And the poor are so richly deserving of their catastrophes.

          What most exercises me though is the question you chose not to address. The character formation of an eight month old, dying and in agony..

          This needs an account from you.

    • In reply to #18 by Humbug:

      Life is tough, and those who believe in God don’t get an easy ride. Jesus Christ did not promise to abolish hospitals but to reveal a way of life that stands up to suffering.
      Removing suffering would not only restrict the choices we could make as humans, but would remove one of the main ways we de…

      I love it when people who have never truly suffered pontificate about the benefit of other people’s suffering. Have you watched your child die slowly of starvation? Have you lain three days alive under a collapsed house after an earthquake, have you seen your entire family swept away and drowned in a tsunami, have you been driven with your loved ones into a gas chamber? Of course not. And so you wave your bible and pronounce that suffering just one of those little things god gave you to make you stronger. What utter crap.

    • changing you mind does not come from prayer and needing to.
      if there is a compelling reason to change it just change it , be accountable for it and done deal.

      In reply to #18 by Humbug:

      Life is tough, and those who believe in God don’t get an easy ride. Jesus Christ did not promise to abolish hospitals but to reveal a way of life that stands up to suffering.

      Removing suffering would not only restrict the choices we could make as humans, but would remove one of the main ways we de…

  15. Humbug 18 above :

    Jesus Christ did not promise to abolish hospitals but to reveal a way of life that stands up to suffering.

    A “revelation” worth absolutely nothing. Just to take a few years of the 20th century, betweem 1941 and 1945, some 20 + million people died and suffered on what we in the west, call the Eastern Front of WW2. Mostly Christians, killing and massacring each other for their respective countries. What was Jesus doing then ? Sitting arms folded on the right hand side of the throne doing a cosmic crossword ? Admiring, Father Jaweh’s latest black hole some 6 billion light years away ?

    Whatever, Jesus did nothing to stop the slaughter of Christian by Christian, – and there must have been so many desperate prayers from both sides. When will the prayers realise that praying achieves absolutely the same effect as if they didn’t pray ?

    When they relinquish their belief in God and religion.

    I think Marx got it right when he said:

    The more a man puts into religion, the less he retains of himself

  16. I finished reading the Bible again as an adult a few months ago and am now about 1/2 way through the Koran. The old testament is full of a directly intervening God. He is constantly pissed that in-spite of flying directly above the Jews on a glowing cloud (anyone remember the Japanese TV series Monkey?) and raining manner on them, water from rocks, making their clothes pure white when his cloud landed among them (If I was in advertising I would use this as the premise for a laundry detergent commercial), in making Moses face glow so brightly that no-one could look directly at it and he had to cover it (I imagine him reading by it at night- ‘Cover your bloody face Moses! None of us can get any sleep!’), Parting of Seas etc and the Jews still keep ignoring him or dividing their loyalties. So he alternatively kills off, organizes for other peoples to kill off large numbers of them, feels bad about it finds some lowly individual to then give cryptic messages to and punishes those who don’t listen to it or deliberately deceives individuals so they fail to follow his laws. In the Koran (so far as I have read) you basically have angels bitching about how God intervenes directly in all these cases and yet no-one believes them so they are all going to fry in hell drinking boiling water like a camel for relief from the alternating fire.

    No, the God of the Bible and Koran is often directly intervening. And when he isn’t he’s promising to do so in the future. But he often does so to the innocent, in ways not designed sometimes to be deliberately misleading. Like all bullies you are not meant to figure him out, all you can do is bow and scrape and hope you end up on his good side. Hence the prayer.

  17. “If God has stated that he will not intervene why do religious people pray?”

    Isn’t the obvious way to answer this question to ask them?

    Most of the posters on this forum are trying to present both sides of the debate. That may be satisfying (it does, after all, guarantee a win!) but it doesn’t actually develop anyone’s understanding.

    Fundamentally, is this thread for those who want to explore this question or for those who have already made up their minds?

    • In reply to #23 by Humbug:

      “If God has stated that he will not intervene why do religious people pray?”

      Fundamentally, is this thread for those who want to explore this question or for those who have already made up their minds?

      Most of the people who post here have a different starting point than you. We believe there is no God, or at least that there is no personal God, so in practical terms the benefits of prayer must be zero. Q.E.D. (The name of the website should have given a clue to this).

      If you are arguing about the placebo effect of prayer however then yes, that is a debate we are willing to have.

      Let me give an analogy. Members of a Christian website are debating the same topic. You would likely find differences of opinion on the subject of prayer itelf and how it relates to the condition of human suffering. What you would not find is differences in the acceptance of a supreme deity called God, who had a son called Jesus, who died for our sins and so on.

      So in the same way, please do not be surprised by the apparent one-sidedness here.

      Incidentally my experience with Christians posting here is that they normally fall into one of three categories:

      1) trolls

      2) those looking to save souls

      3) those who have started to have genuine doubts and wish to explore further

      You are obviously not trolling, and you seem intelligent enough to realize that 2) is a waste of time. So I am left to assume that you may have started to question your own faith. That was in fact how I arrived at this site, and I imagine some others. You talk about “hearing the other side of the argument” and that is precisely what the overwhelming majority of Christians do not do. From birth, through childhood and into teens and beyond they are exposed to one side of the coin. You faith is not a conscious choice on your part, rather it was conditioned into you as a child. When you realize this important fact the world starts to look a little different.

      • In reply to #33 by john.wb:

        please do not be surprised by the apparent one-sidedness here.

        I acknowledge the benefits of people with like interests discussing what they believe. What concerns me is people with like interests discussing what they assume other people believe without actually engaging with them.

        I am left to assume that you may have started to question your own faith.

        If you want to know why I visit this site, you don’t need to make assumptions – you can simply ask me! I have been studying Professor Dawkins for about five years, for reasons neatly summarised by Matthew Syed in Saturday’s Times:
        “We desperately need the opposite. Christians should read Dawkins. Atheists should explore C. S. Lewis. This kind of exposure will not necessarily change our opinions but it will render them more nuanced and infinitely more humane. If we only ever associate with the things we agree with, we are like a scientist wearing blinkers. Only by exposing ourselves to dissent will we grow.”

        Your faith is not a conscious choice on your part, rather it was conditioned into you as a child. When you realize this important fact the world starts to look a little different.

        You may be right. Other posters on this site disagree with you – they argue that it’s because of a mental illness (and a helpful chart was supplied to justify this diagnosis!). I contend that I have made a conscious choice as an adult. Of course, I would say that if I’d been conditioned or was mentally ill, but I think it’s premature of you to make a diagnosis until you are in possession of more facts.

        Crucial to this diagnosis is what religion is. If religion is defined in the terms used by Professor Dawkins and many posters on this site, I agree that a person would have to be deluded in order to believe. However, I don’t believe many of the things attributed to people of faith on this site. I should clarify that my personal beliefs are closely allied to the teachings of the Catholic Church, so I haven’t set up my own private cult. Nevertheless, my attempts to engage in debate are consistently thwarted because people attribute beliefs to me that are fundamentally incorrect.

        To conclude, I think it’s important for those criticising religion to be familiar with key teaching documents. So, for example, it is difficult to criticise someone for being a Catholic if you are unfamiliar with the Catechism of the Catholic Church and other key teaching documents (Vatican II, for example). This familiarity would ensure that a statement that Catholic teaching “requires prayer using a cilice, hair shirt, studded thong or a scourge of iron” (Post 31 below) is immediately seen to be factually incorrect.

        • In reply to #37 by Humbug:

          In reply to #33 by john.wb:

          please do not be surprised by the apparent one-sidedness here.

          I acknowledge the benefits of people with like interests discussing what they believe. What concerns me is people with like interests discussing what they assume other people believe without actually engagi…

          See what I posted on the Jehovah’s Witness discussion on brain plasticity. As the Jesuits say, “Give me the child till 8, and I will give you the man.” They didn’t know it, but they were using the science of brain plasticity to create beliefs that are almost unshakable. I suspect Humbug, that you are just another victim of the child abuse of force fed religion.

          • In reply to #38 by David R Allen:

            I suspect Humbug, that you are just another victim of the child abuse of force fed religion.

            In other words, I have lost the ability to contribute to the debate because of the way I was brought up. This is very similar to Professor Dawkins in his introduction to The God Delusion when he describes “dyed in the wool faith heads immune to argument”.

            Let’s assume for a moment that you’re right. If you truly see me as a victim of child abuse who is now abusing his own children, what do your comments achieve other than undermine crucial lines of communication? If you genuinely believe that religion is the root of all evil (to quote Professor Dawkins), it seems unwise and unkind to deliberately disengage from its perpetrators when they try to enter into dialogue with you.

            Could I refer you once again to the article in the Times (see #37): “Dissenting voices are vital. Even if wrong.”

          • In reply to #43 by Humbug:

            In other words, I have lost the ability to contribute to the debate because of the way I was brought up.

            You haven’t lost the ability to contribute to the debate. You are doing admirably well. But if the Jesuits are right, and the science of brain plasticity is right, then how could you know that the position you hold is in error. How you could allow alternate ideas to be admitted to your consciousness. Your world view may be permanently skewed as a result of actions done to you, before you had a mind capable or consenting.

            Let’s assume for a moment that you’re right. If you truly see me as a victim of child abuse who is now abusing his own children, what do your comments achieve other than undermine crucial lines of communication? If you genuinely believe that religion is the root of all evil (to quote Professor Dawkins), it seems unwise and unkind to deliberately disengage from its perpetrators when they try to enter into dialogue with you.

            I would if I could, open lines of communication with everyone on the planet, in an attempt to achieve a better future for the planet and homo sapien. I concur that dialogue is far preferable to abuse. What I have found over many years is that the religious are beyond reach. The childhood indoctrination creates neural circuits so strong that no rational evidence based discussion can budge the dogma. You are a typical example of that. What others have written here is eminently sensible, but you will find it impossible to move from your position.

            I raised this issue of Jesuit style indoctrination on the off chance that you might look in the mirror and ask; “What if this is true. What if the science is correct and it is impossible for me to escape religion.” I thought you might be a little angry at the way it was done to you, so that you wouldn’t do it to your children, or that someone else who reads this, might avoid doing the same abuse.

            the root of all evil (to quote Professor Dawkins

            Only a technical correction. It was Hitchens that coined this phrase. It is the subtitle of his book, God is Not Great.

            I am of the view that to indoctrinate a child from birth with religious dogma, before that child can make an informed consent, is child abuse. You commit the child to a potentially damaging mode of thinking, that causes psychological damage, and at its extreme, causes you to fly planes into buildings. Children under 18 should not be subject to religious indoctrination. After 18, if they choose of their own free will, to become religious, I will support their right to do so.

          • In reply to #57 by David R Allen:

            the root of all evil (to quote Professor Dawkins
            Only a technical correction. It was Hitchens that coined this phrase. It is the subtitle of his book, God is Not Great.

            The subtitle of God is not Great is How Religion Poisons Everything (USA) and The Case Against Religion (UK).
            Richard Dawkins presented a tv documentary The Root of All Evil? in 2006. Notice the question mark. The title was given to the film by Channel 4 , the producers, not by Dawkins.

          • In reply to #58 by aldous:

            In reply to #57 by David R Allen:

            the root of all evil (to quote Professor Dawkins
            Only a technical correction. It was Hitchens that coined this phrase. It is the subtitle of his book, God is Not Great.

            Apologies to HumBug. I misspoke. Aldous is correct,

            The subtitle of God is not Great is How Religion Poisons Everything (USA) and The Case Against…

          • In reply to #57 by David R Allen:

            After 18, if they choose of their own free will, to become religious, I will support their right to do so.

            You believe in free will?

          • In reply to #194 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

            In reply to #57 by David R Allen:

            After 18, if they choose of their own free will, to become religious, I will support their right to do so.

            You believe in free will?

            Absolutely with sugar on top… I know you are planning to lay a IUD, but I’ve heard it all before and debated it will a plethora of rational people. To argue that we don’t have free will, is to breach one of the fundamental rules of the universe. C.D.F. Common Dog @#$%

          • In reply to #195 by David R Allen:

            In reply to #194 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

            In reply to #57 by David R Allen:

            After 18, if they choose of their own free will, to become religious, I will support their right to do so.

            You believe in free will?

            Absolutely with sugar on top…

            It depends what you mean by free will. If you mean that humans intentions play a causal role in human behavior then yes I believe in free will too. For me following that definition a person is using their free will when they make and act on decisions without coercion or some type of disease or drug that can significantly alter behavior.

            If on the other hand by “free will” you mean that somehow human behavior is different from the behavior of other animals or inanimate objects and is in some way outside of or independent of the natural laws that govern everything else in the universe, then that version of free will makes as much sense as angels and ghosts.

          • In reply to #199 by Red Dog:

            In reply to #195 by David R Allen:
            If on the other hand by “free will” you mean that somehow human behavior is different from the behavior of other animals or inanimate objects and is in some way outside of or independent of the natural laws that govern everything else in the universe, then that version of free will makes as much sense as angels and ghosts.

            Yep. That passes CDF

          • In reply to #195 by David R Allen:

            I want to disagree with you about free will, but I’d have to know what your talking about first. It would seem you’re uninterested in revisiting the subject. I’ve just never seen a compelling argument to support it.

          • In reply to #213 by AllusiveAtheist:

            In reply to #195 by David R Allen:

            I want to disagree with you about free will, but I’d have to know what your talking about first. It would seem you’re uninterested in revisiting the subject. I’ve just never seen a compelling argument to support it.

            I like RedDog’s response to mine below. But I’m not that interested in the “Free Will” debate. I prefer CDF. See below.

          • In reply to #216 by David R Allen:

            I like RedDog’s response to mine below. But I’m not that interested in the “Free Will” debate. I prefer CDF. See below.

            I don’t know if you’re referring to Comprehensive Decision Finder or something else. From what I can tell we only differ in our definitions.

          • In reply to #219 by AllusiveAtheist:

            In reply to #216 by David R Allen:

            I like RedDog’s response to mine below. But I’m not that interested in the “Free Will” debate. I prefer CDF. See below.

            I don’t know if you’re referring to Comprehensive Decision Finder or something else. From what I can tell we only differ in our definitions.

            I’m not that deep. I haven’t done philosophy. I have free will to do whatever I want. So does every other animal on this planet. There are no gods or mysticism, so if there is some speculative argument further out than I can believe or comprehend, then I’ll leave it to the heavy weights in this forum. Me, I just decide whether to hit my 3 wood or the driver down the 8th, depending on the wind and whether I can reach the water through the end of the fairway. And if there was a god, he’s stop me from hitting the ball into that @#$$%^% water hazard.

          • In reply to #221 by David R Allen:

            For every choice, there are perceived factuals which are weighed by the chooser. Counter-factuals could alter the choice, depending on the nature of the counter-factuals. The previous experience and current psychological state (including desires) of the chooser are beyond their choice. Fatuals that are not perceived do not weigh into the choice. There is a choice that is made but under a given set of perceived factuals and psychological state the chooser could not choose differently. “I could if I wanted to.” But you don’t want to. That would be a different psychological state.

            For every choice I’ve ever made I can imagine circumstances which would have caused me to choose differently. Feeling how I felt, wanting what I wanted and knowing what I knew I could not have chosen differently. If there had been a different feeling, desire or understanding then the choice made would have been subject to those influences.

            There are times when I don’t know why I make the choices I do. But the spontaneous or capricious nature of the choice don’t make my choice less deterministic. If anything these mysterious choices suggest that feeling and desire are capable of operating with minimal influence from an understanding the circumstances.

            When I do something random this does not suggest that I am exercising free will, rather I’m responding to (usually) ineffable stimuli. When i do something deliberate I am reacting to better identified, better considered stimuli. In all cases I am beholden to environmental, physiological and psychological influences.

            Each feeling, desire and perception of circumstances is another bit of coercion steering us to a resulting choice. There may be no outside agent twisting our arm, the choices we make may be our own, but it is a mistake to think that for a given set of circumstances we are able to make more than one choice.

  18. In reply to #25 by Humbug:

    In reply to #24 by Len Walsh:

    Hi Humbug,

    First welcome and thanks for engaging with us. a few things from your posts.

    Many of us (perhaps most) have religion in our backgrounds, I certainly did. So I know why I prayed, however asking questions and attempting to answer them and reading responses from different people is important. So while some of us may already have a position on this it doesn’t mean there is nothing to be gained through discussion/argument just look at any other thread and see how often we disagree and even change our minds.

    The times when I’ve suffered most have become catalysts for major, positive changes in the way I choose to live my life.

    This may be the case for minor suffering, you haven’t addressed children dying. In which case the only benefit seems to be from others clearly not the children involved.

    I have a question for you. If suffering is so important to you now to your development then are you asserting (against what the bible says) that suffering will continue in heaven? If so are you asserting that development will cease in heaven?

    Jesus Christ did not promise to abolish hospitals but to reveal a way of life that stands up to suffering.

    Actually I think you are wrong there. He tells people to drop everything including their families and follow him. He also promises to come back and destroy the Earth I take it that means hospitals as well.

    How do you measure suffering and how do you determine who is best set to “benefit” from it? I know people dying of cancer who suffer less than people with minor ailments.

    That would depend on what you consider a minor ailment. I find this a somewhat troubling statement especially as you are Catholic and your church has effectively stopped euthanasia at least in my country. There are people right now who’s tumors are so large and placed in such positions that they cause immense pain and suffering for months before death. Currently the catholic position is that such people may not have a peaceful exit in their own time. Of course Doctors often have to risk their careers overdosing patients with drugs to effect a merciful outcome because we cannot get proper legislation.

    I was present for a conversation a friend of mine had with a doctor as his mother who was terminal and going to die very soon had with a conversation with a doctor where the decision was made to turn off the life support so his mother could die. What resulted was about 8 hours of his mother rasping for breath as she was slowly suffocated (the most merciful death the law allows). Now she could have been mercifully euthanised in a few minutes but no, because of the belief in God she had to endure hours of oxygen deprivation. Let’s look at the hypocrisy of this, the act of removing the life support was going to kill her as surely as a fatal injection but the position religion has left us guarantees such suffering at every moment of the day, every day.

    Are you so certain in your faith that you think it is okay to impose this on the rest of us? Yet this is the reality that the Catholic position has led to. Now you may not be in favor of this position of your church (many catholics don’t follow any number of catholic doctrines like birth control) but if you are going to quote the pope at us you should make your position on such things clear. I realise this thread my be inactive by now but I would appreciate a reply, and thanks again for engaging on the site.
    Cheers

    • In reply to #34 by Reckless Monkey:

      In the specific situation regarding a terminally ill loved-one that you refer to, Catholic teaching would recommend the administration of pain relief, even if its use has the consequence of shortening the patient’s life (see Catechism of the Catholic Church para 2279). Based on what you have explained, I would therefore argue that the legislation you refer to contradicts Catholic teaching because it does not allow for pain relief.

      With regards to incorporating Catholic teaching into legislation, it is not for Catholics to impose their beliefs on others and, even for Catholics, there is an obligation to reflect on what these teachings mean rather than to just follow them blindly. Furthermore, any attempt to encapsulate Church teachings in legal language is fraught with difficulty as there will always be exceptions. What the Church asks us to do is not just take a quote in isolation (as I did above!) but to reflect on the overall message of Christ.

      It’s not possible to look at euthanasia in isolation without considering the dignity of each individual and the sanctity of life. This allows the individual to understand more about why the Church teaches what it does and, hopefully, make a more informed decision.

      For example, in an interview with Richard Dawkins, the Bishop of Oxford addresses a situation where you come face-to-face with a person burning to death in extreme pain. Assuming that you were physically able to kill the person and that it was done out of love and compassion (not self-interest), the Bishop contends that killing would not be an un-Christian thing to do. This is in spite of there being a very clear Commandment: “Thou shalt not kill.” I know that the Bishop is not Catholic, but his ability to see the rules as inspiration and guidance rather than non-negotiable instruction is fully consistent with Catholic teaching.

      This does not mean that Catholic teaching is a free-for-all that people can pick up and drop at their convenience. The teachings are clear, but they are designed to empower people to make better decisions, not make decisions for them. The idea of grown people blindly following rules they think are wrong “because God / the Pope / my priest told me to” is as horrific to me as I’m sure it is to you. However, the more that I’ve studied Catholic teaching (as opposed to thinking I already know what it teaches), the more that I’ve found I agree with its perspective on life.

      • In reply to #39 by Humbug:

        in spite of there being a very clear Commandment: “Thou shalt not kill.”

        The Bible is a common cultural heritage, whether we are adherents of one of the denominations which considers it contains sacrosanct instructions about how to live our lives or not. There is no absolute instruction not to kill in the Old Testament. Far from it. There are instructions to kill those who collect firewood on the Lord’s Day. This is just one of the heinous crimes for which the death penalty is prescribed. This is, though, a minor matter compared to the explicit instructions from Yahweh to commit genocide and his participation in genocide, including his destruction of the entire human race, except the Noah family. Admittedly, he is non-existent but he is significant because he reflects the mindset of his followers. He is, by human standards, the personification of the vile despot, Stalin and Hitler raised to the highest degree.

        The usual translation from the Hebrew, in any case, is ‘Do no murder.’ That means that it’s wrong to kill another member of the tribe of Israel but most emphatically not a prohibition on killing in general, even of other human beings, without considering other species.

      • In reply to #39 by Humbug:

        In reply to #34 by Reckless Monkey:

        Hi Humbug,

        Thanks for the reply. Firstly I acknowledge again your visiting this site having just read your post 33 to John W. I agree with you that we must try to engage on these issues if not to convince you, to at least think (from my part) that there might be some part of you hearing or aware of the atheist perspective when it comes to voting etc. It is for this reason I have just finished re-reading the Bible, am currently reading the Koran and will then start on the Eastern religious foundational texts.

        However I would not go as far as you as to suggest that I cannot criticize in this case Catholicism without being steeped in catholic doctrine. At one level because if you are criticizing an atheist then frankly there is not a lot of reading you need to do to know the positions. I can sum it up in a sentence. There is no evidence, the onus of proof is on you. But there are thousands of religions out there and to that extent I cannot know them all. So yes I acknowledge that when I argue against Catholicism I am arguing against what the church puts out to the public. That is what the Pope and his Archbishops etc. tell the people. Now I am well aware that this is far from consistent – however this is more of a problem fro your side than mine, I don’t believe in inflatable individuals (that is on whatever doctrines they claim infallibility). So I am happy you are presenting reading links to your discussion points and I will do my best, but probably best if reading here to consider our views on religions as those promoted by the churches rather than all of its members.

        That said…

        Based on what you have explained, I would therefore argue that the legislation you refer to contradicts Catholic teaching because it does not allow for pain relief.

        With regards to incorporating Catholic teaching into legislation, it is not for Catholics to impose their beliefs on others and, even for Catholics, there is an obligation to reflect on what these teachings mean rather than to just follow them blindly.

        In the specific situation regarding a terminally ill loved-one that you refer to, Catholic teaching would recommend the administration of pain relief, even if its use has the consequence of shortening the patient’s life (see Catechism of the Catholic Church para…

        I think you have misunderstood me here – I was in a rush writing so I have not probably made myself clear. There is no legislation. The reason there is not to a large extent is because the Catholic and Christian right in this country have successfully lobbied government every time it has been attempted. A territory (similar to a state but without the same level of independence from the federal government) Northern Territory in this country passed Euthanasia legislation only to have countermanded by the then government. This was due to the churches (particularly the Catholic Church) lobbing the government. Every attempt to get some sensible debate and legislation has been opposed by the Catholic Church. They have (not alone) used their power to influence legislation by influencing their congregations on specific political policies. This to me is where in a secular country they go too far. I am perfectly happy for anyone who chooses to suffer all they like when they die. If they wish to hang on in agony waiting to die when no amount of non-fatal dosage of pain relief can reduce their suffering then that is their choice. I can even respect it. I know of atheists who are so curious about the process of death that they do not want any pain relief, they want to face their death, be as aware of it as they can. However voting with your church as a block to stop legislation to allow others the choice, to impose you beliefs upon others is no better than me as an atheist attempting to have churches banned. It is your churches interference in politics to the point where it attempts to stop secular legislation on issues of choice that I object and that you need to defend.

        A similar situation now arises with homosexual marriage. Here the Popes representatives have in recent years blamed homosexuality for pedophilia (instead of accepting responsibility for their own cases of abuse and cover up) and have promoted a sickly insinuation that homosexuals are morally compromised but we love you. I can probably take this as free speech but what I cannot take is the fact that they insist that homosexuals are not allowed to marry. By what right? I could perfectly happily accept them getting involved politically to the extent that they should not be force to marry homosexuals in their church. But no this isn’t good enough the church seeks to have it banned. They seek to use whatever power they have to make the whole of society conform to their beliefs. This makes me very uncomfortable.

        So in short I am glad you don’t consider the that Catholics should be able to incorporate their beliefs into legislation. You need to get your Pope to tell his underlings this, as Catholic leaders all over the world are threatening governments with what they care about the most, Votes. Ask yourself this simple question, what are the numbers on public opinion in a democracy on gay marriage, on euthanasia? The only reason Australians don’t have this as policy is numbers of catholics in marginal electoral seats, and this only because their views (the churches) on the sanctity of life can therefore be used to threaten political parties to do what is right and respect what the majority of Australians consider the sanctity of life a life spent without undue suffering and torture, a life in which the manner of your leaving it when your death is inevitable can be to some extent chosen. I wish your leadership though and behaved like you in not seeking to impose their views on the rest of us.

      • In reply to #39 by Humbug:

        In reply to #34 by Reckless Monkey:

        In the specific situation regarding a terminally ill loved-one that you refer to, Catholic teaching would recommend the administration of pain relief, even if its use has the consequence of shortening the patient’s life (see Catechism of the Catholic Church para…

        Hi Humbug:

        The fact that sometimes Catholicism has bent to accommodate reason is not enough, like a bishop being willing to kill a man that is burning alive to alleviate suffering. There is no reliable ethical theory in religion because it is all based on an Argument from Authority logical fallacy. Where did the Bishop get his conclusion from? A line in the bible? Catholic teachings which are revered simply because they are old teachings? Or as I think, simply allowing in a little rationality as a necessary capitulation.

  19. How about the case where a plane crashes, killing most of the passengers. The few survivors claim it was a “miracle” they survived. What about those who died? What kind of god would kill some, and spare a few?

  20. Humbug.

    Your accounts are familiar stuff. Possibly over half the members of this site were Christian formerly. Very many were Catholic and since 2007 since the site’s inception (2006?) accounts like yours dealing with the problem of pain are trotted out regularly by religious visitors. But they never deal with the full extent of pain and suffering. Like you they have always cherry picked their illustrative examples.

    There are many cheery and generous poor folk and unhappy, miserly rich. But the statistics show that personal reports of unhappiness and stress do track with levels of poverty and isolation for instance. Why do the poor and isolated need more character building? Have they been bad? Have they not worked hard enough?

    Your anecdote isn’t data. I have data. I have plenty more.

    How does an eight month old baby dying in agony benefit from her suffering? (Third time of asking…)

    • In reply to #41 by phil rimmer:

      How does an eight month old baby dying in agony benefit from her suffering?

      Of course suffering doesn’t benefit a baby in the terms you describe. All the way through this, I have been trying to explain that suffering is not a benefit to be celebrated or sought out. It does not fulfil us in the way that, for example, love does.

      Nevertheless, suffering is integral to the human condition, and the idea of a selected few being protected from it is profoundly disturbing. If some people are deemed worthy of protection from suffering, why not everyone? If some suffering is too extreme, then what level is acceptable? Would we be better off on this earth if none of us could feel pain and we all lived for ever?

      The point I am trying to make is that a Christian outlook can help people to come to terms with suffering and turn a terrible inevitability into something less horrific and sometimes (but not always) salvage something positive.

      • In reply to #45 by Humbug:

        In reply to #41 by phil rimmer:

        How does an eight month old baby dying in agony benefit from her suffering?

        Of course suffering doesn’t benefit a baby in the terms you describe. All the way through this, I have been trying to explain that suffering is not a benefit to be celebrated or sought out….
        The point I am trying to make is that a Christian outlook can help people to come to terms with suffering and turn a terrible inevitability into something less horrific and sometimes (but not always) salvage something positive.

        Thank you for saying this clearly in the context where no benefit is to be had by the sufferer.

        I now can see that you are saying a very little thing indeed. Nothing that addresses the problem of evil. Nor anything that deserves a Christian descriptor. Facing adversity with courage is for all of us to assume if we can. There is no Godly testing (correct?) just random bad happenstance.

        • In reply to #46 by phil rimmer:

          There is no Godly testing (correct?) just random bad happenstance.

          I don’t feel comfortable categorising all suffering into one heading of “random bad happenstance,” as suffering takes many different forms, so perhaps I could develop a few points further.

          Crucially, I do not believe God dishes out suffering as a punishment – Jesus Christ directly refuted that in his worldly dealings with those who were suffering. However, it is interesting to observe that the miracles of Jesus are less about physical healings than spiritual ones. In most (if not all?) cases, the physical healing was an outward sign of a more profound spiritual change within. The Christian message is that physical healings are not provided for everyone, they are certainly not earned by being better behaved and they are only temporary (i.e. Lazarus may have been raised from the dead but he still died later!). Nevertheless, the profound spiritual change that occurs within is open to all.

          Secondly, God does allow suffering to take place, although that is not the same as causing it . The reasons behind this are vast, but a few thoughts occur to me:

          • Suffering can, as we have discussed, enable people to achieve things they wouldn’t previously have been able to.

          • Suffering is an inevitable by-product of the gift of free will.

          • The beauty of science (which Christians see as a gift from God) requires cause and effect. God’s unceasing intervention would create an Alice In Wonderland world of chaos (e.g. I put my hand in a fire but God cures it because he doesn’t want me to suffer. So we can no longer say that fire burns).

          I’m conscious that we’re straying into the realms of miracles here, and I’m not sure I’ve got time to address that too! Suffice it to say that I think many miracles can be explained in scientific terms, but that doesn’t make them any less miraculous. For example, Jackie Pullinger has cured thousands of heroin addicts in Hong Kong through baptism in the Holy Spirit (see Chasing The Dragon). This doesn’t prove the existence of God, because it could simply be a case of mind-over-matter (forgive me for not being more scientific in my terminology – this isn’t my specialist area). Nevertheless, these peoples’ beliefs had a radical, positive physical impact on them – that, to me, is a miracle and something to be celebrated.

          • In reply to #47 by Humbug:

            In reply to #46 by phil rimmer:

            There is no Godly testing (correct?) just random bad happenstance.

            I don’t feel comfortable categorising all suffering into one heading of “random bad happenstance,” as suffering takes many different forms

            I certainly didn’t intend “all suffering” just that which might have been taken as “Godly testing” punishment or edification. Plenty of suffering is by our own hand.

            God does allow suffering to take place, although that is not the same as causing it . The reasons behind this are vast, but a few thoughts occur to me:

            Suffering can, as we have discussed, enable people to achieve things they wouldn’t previously have been able to.

            Suffering is an inevitable by-product of the gift of free will.

            The beauty of science (which Christians see as a gift from God) requires cause and effect. God’s unceasing intervention would create an Alice In Wonderland world of chaos (e.g. I put my hand in a fire but God cures it because he doesn’t want me to suffer. So we can no longer say that fire burns).

            The complicity of “allowing” will serve as well for my charge sheet.

            “My” baby dying in agony will not be enabled to achieve anything from it whatsoever.

            Relate baby suffering to free-will for me if you could. I can relate suffering to being evolved beings, but this defeats me. You’ll need to define free will here as it can have many meanings, none entirely self consistent.

            No unceasing intervention is needed to ameliorate baby suffering, just a slightly cleverer design to disable terminal pain in those who can make no use of it. (Mothers are perfectly capable of detecting the severity of illness by other means.)

          • In reply to #47 by Humbug:

            •Suffering can, as we have discussed, enable people to achieve things they wouldn’t previously have been able to.•Suffering is an inevitable by-product of the gift of free will.•The beauty of science (which Christians see as a gift from God) requires cause and effect.

            By ‘suffering’ I suppose you mean physical and psychological pain. Also, it must be persistent and quite high on the pain scale. It also implies that it is involuntary. Self-flagellation wouldn’t count, I suppose.

            It is self-evident that pain is something to be avoided for oneself and others unless it is accepted voluntarily as a means to an end. If it is not a choice it is not ‘ an inevitable by-product of the gift of free will’ . Mixing up physical cause and effect with morality is highly dubious.

            For a secularist the way to ensuring that good actions are rewarded and bad actions punished is to build a society which provides the conditions for that to happen. For the religious, the focus is on the creation of a fantasy afterlife in which justice is done.

            The promotion of ‘suffering’ as a good thing is a perversion which comes from the Christian obsession with Jesus on the cross and martyrdom as a way to sainthood….

  21. In reply to humbug #25
    “try A School of Prayer by Pope Benedict. I’m sure you won’t agree with much of what they contain, but they will help to clear up your misunderstandings about what the Church teaches prayer to be.”

    I would like your opinion on the earthquakes in Irpinia- this one stuck out for me as kid and began to change my thinking.
    There was one in 1930 where the death toll was about 1000, low because people were not in their houses as usual.
    Another in 1980 killed three times that number including children in an orphanage and dozens who were praying in church at the time.
    I was a catholic at the time and began to ask questions like “Why would god kill people who were praying?” “Why would god kill children who had already suffered very much?”
    It did not take long before I questioned the existence of god after that.
    The “mysterious ways” explanation thing just did not cut it.

  22. “I’m conscious that we’re straying into the realms of miracles here, and I’m not sure I’ve got time to address that too! Suffice it to say that I think many miracles can be explained in scientific terms, but that doesn’t make them any less miraculous. For example, Jackie Pullinger has cured thousands of heroin addicts in Hong Kong through baptism in the Holy Spirit (see Chasing The Dragon). This doesn’t prove the existence of God, because it could simply be a case of mind-over-matter (forgive me for not being more scientific in my terminology – this isn’t my specialist area). Nevertheless, these peoples’ beliefs had a radical, positive physical impact on them – that, to me, is a miracle and something to be celebrated.”

    Humbug,
    I don’t think anyone denies that a religion at times can help relieve suffering, but so could heroin. That’s the problem. Religion and heroin are both drugs that avoid reality.

    Best

  23. Reply to Humbug #47
    “God’s unceasing intervention would create an Alice In Wonderland world of chaos “
    So you are saying prayer does not work then? Why then do people (including Catholics) pray for things and make claims about the results?

    Do you think your heroin curing baptism was fake?

    I asked you about Irpinia and 1980 earth quake, people were not only praying but were at church praising god when the quake struck killing 100 worshippers and 2900 other people in the area.

    I am sure there are numerous examples of this sort of thing Haitian earth claimed some religious relief workers in the area.

    So, did god let the tectonics do their stuff regardless?

    Did it occur to god people may lose their faith as a result?

    How do you think the world would work if there was no god?

    All the books were available, the Koran, bible etc but none of them were true.

    In terms of famine, disease, quakes, wars etc in what way would life be different?

    • In reply to #51 by Pinball1970:

      Reply to Humbug #47
      “God’s unceasing intervention would create an Alice In Wonderland world of chaos “

      There is a great little book by American Sci fi author PK Dick that explores this called Eye in the Sky. There is an accident at a particle accelerator that causes a group of people to jump from one alternative reality to another. Each reality is defined by the belief system of one person in the group. The religious reality is fascinating. Everything works via prayer and appeals to god. To start your car you say a prayer, a physics researcher finds he is now a monk who studies the bible, etc. it’s an example of what I consider the very best kind of Sci fi

    • In reply to #51 by Pinball1970:

      So you are saying prayer does not work then?

      It depends what you mean by “work”. Anybody who has ever prayed knows that prayer doesn’t work as a supernatural shopping list. There is no correlation between the apparent worthiness of an individual and the experience of events that can’t be explained by current science. We know that through observation and also through the teachings of Jesus Christ.

      I have experienced prayer “working” many times, both for myself and those around me. Sometimes this is in overt ways that are, at best, statistically highly unlikely. More often it is in a sense of peace, courage, wisdom, understanding or love – all traits that are impossible to measure scientifically but still profoundly important.

      • In reply to #53 by Humbug:

        More often it is in a sense of peace, courage, wisdom, understanding or love – all traits that are impossible to measure scientifically but still profoundly important.

        These are human traits to which all or any of the many gods are entirely irrelevant. None of these things is ‘impossible to measure’ although, obviously, they will be measured by our appreciation of them and not by scientific instruments.. It’s a delusion of adherents of this that or the other religion that they have special insight into human emotions. The opposite is more often the case, where a distorted sense of reality leads a perverse affection for pain and suffering, especially that of others.

      • In reply to #53 by Humbug:

        In reply to #51 by Pinball1970:

        So you are saying prayer does not work then?

        It depends what you mean by “work”. Anybody who has ever prayed knows that prayer doesn’t work as a supernatural shopping list.

        That’s not true. There are many Christians (and adherents of other religions) who fervantly believe in direct actions from God as a result of prayer.

        After reading all your posts here, I get the impression that prayer for you is the same as people who use positive thinking techniques.

      • In reply to #53 by Humbug:

        In reply to #51 by Pinball1970:

        So you are saying prayer does not work then?I have experienced prayer “working” many times, both for myself and those around me. Sometimes this is in overt ways that are, at best, statistically highly unlikely. More often it is in a sense of peace, courage, wisdom, understanding or love – all traits that are impossible to measure scientifically but still profoundly important

        Actually they probably can be measured scientifically. The things you think are statistically so improbable most likely reflect your lack of knowledge of statistical phenomena such as the birthday paradox and the peace, etc. are examples of the placebo effect.

  24. I likewise don’t understand the logic of asking God for or to do something). If God is omniscient, then everything is known by God perfectly over all time and places. Although religious persons might say God still needs to hear the prayer, it is hard to escape the idea that (since all is foreknown) people’s prayers (or lack of them) will be preordained, as well as any ‘effects’.

    But – and this has not struck me until now- there are comments in religious writings about God being outside of space and time. To me this is literally nonsense – there is no sense in being outside space and time (arguably no existence). However, this prompted me to think a bit about space time and what one might call scientific determinism and the problem of free will.

    My thought is that the religious thinkers are trying (unsuccessfully) to retrieve freedom from determinism. That is, from God’s preordination. But from the pint of view of choice this echoes the idea of the consistent workings of material processes: whatever the ‘laws of nature’ turn out to be, there seems to be no room for free will. In other words, atheists may be wrong to imagine they (we) have a choice for logically much the same reasons that religious people are being illogical in praying.

    This doesn’t make religion equivalent to atheism of course – far from it. But perhaps the ‘problem of free will’ is in the background, whatever one’s world view.

  25. In The Folly of Fools Robert Trivers describes evidence that talking about or even writing about a trauma in a journal has positive effects on the immune system. He then hypothesizes:

    “a private journal in a lab is obviously an evolutionarily recent event, but it probably acts as a substitute for sharing this information with others. Certainly rituals of confession are common in most religions, whether public, as in many New World Amerindian religions, or private, as in the Catholic confessional. Indeed, the injunction to confess one’s sins to God herself in prayer may serve a similar disclosure function.”

    Trivers, Robert (2011-10-25). The Folly of Fools: The Logic of Deceit and Self-Deception in Human Life (p. 126). Basic Books. Kindle Edition.

    I.e., prayer essentially functions as a placebo effect to reduce the stress of trauma and possibly of worrying over potential future traumas.

  26. In reply to Humbug #53
    It depends what you mean by “work”. Anybody who has ever prayed knows that prayer doesn’t work as a supernatural shopping list.

    By “work” I meant grant a specific request, for example, “please let me find my child alive in the rubble.”
    You think prayer is about is more about gaining love, courage wisdom from jesus /god? During a specific bad situation?
    Many religious people would disagree with you on this and not just all the different Christian ones, but many of other different religions too.
    You would think if there was just one god and one set of rules there would be a huge disparity in prayers being listened to would you not?
    Yet all the religions make similar claims about prayers being answered.

  27. If I might be allowed to bring a new approach to this thread, I would suggest that Christian prayer is probably different from that of many other religions. Christian prayer is based on the model given to us by Jesus in the gospels, and in Matthew 6 Jesus clarifies the concept of prayer to His followers. Prayer is not a plea to God to intervene or to change His mind, or to give us some kind of privilege, extra protection or even some kind of advantage over our fellow humans, but it’s our means of sharing our innermost thoughts with God and of worshipping Him. Also it is our request to Him to sustain us, and to enable us and empower us to continue living Godly lives on earth:

    “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”

    If indeed prayer proved to be effective in providing greater wealth, higher social standing, etc, the reasons for praying would be selfish and exploitative, so a wise God does not promise any such thing.

    One question that’s impossible to answer is, what would happen if all those who pray, stopped doing so? It’s similar to the hypothetical question of what the world would be like if all atheists ‘got their way’ and religions of all kinds were abolished worldwide.

    • In reply to #63 by CumbriaSmithy:

      One question that’s impossible to answer is, what would happen if all those who pray, stopped doing so?

      Nothing would happen. It would be so easy to set up an experiment to test your proposal, in fact many experiments have been conducted already. A number of studies have been done to test any effect of prayer on the outcome of surgery. The reputable studies have shown results that indicate there is no positive correlation and in some cases a slight negative correlation with prayers of intercession.

      There have been studies that appear to support the notion of a positive correlation, but when held up to scrutiny they’ve been found wanting.

      • In reply to #65 by Nitya:

        In reply to #63 by CumbriaSmithy:

        One question that’s impossible to answer is, what would happen if all those who pray, stopped doing so?

        Nothing would happen. It would be so easy to set up an experiment to test your proposal, in fact many experiments have been conducted already …

        It’s not possible to force everybody in the world to stop praying, so any attempt at an experiment would be futile. In fact the only ‘experiments’ where people were effectively banned from prayer have proved disastrous; namely most of the communistic regimes of the 20th Century. As I explained in my previous post – outlining the Christian prayer model given by Jesus – gaining statistics regarding prayer for the successful outcome of surgery is not a proper test of true Christian prayer.

        • In reply to #66 by CumbriaSmithy:

          Hi CumbriaSmithy,

          It’s not possible to force everybody in the world to stop praying, so any attempt at an experiment would be futile. In fact the only ‘experiments’ where people were effectively banned from prayer have proved disastrous; namely most of the communistic regimes of the 20th Century.

          As you have declared it impossible, I wonder that you bothered to mention it at all. What can you mean by using up your precious time to check this with us?

          If it is impossible then how were Communists able to make such a policy “effective”?

          It seems to me that Communists are apt to pray on a regular basis. They may not invoke a supernatural realm, but they may imply something very similar. Kim Il-Sung died in 1984, but is venerated daily.

          As I explained in my previous post – outlining the Christian prayer model given by Jesus – gaining statistics regarding prayer for the successful outcome of surgery is not a proper test of true Christian prayer..

          In which we are led to believe that Christians pray only to tell God their thoughts (although he supposedly knows them already, isn’t that sort of … Redundant?), and to praise God. Because God is, needy …

          Peace.

        • In reply to #66 by CumbriaSmithy:

          First and formost, I don’t think anyone has suggested banning prayer! That would be punishing people for thought crimes and nobody would countence that ( except for various religious groups, that is). I was merely suggesting that the efficacy of prayer be tested, and as it turns out there have been numerous studies.

          The second bone of contention would be the size of your sample. Why would one need a sample size of the entire world population? I’m not quite sure how to interpret this suggestion.

    • In reply to #63 by CumbriaSmithy:

      Prayer is not a plea to God to intervene or to change His mind…

      I’m not that familiar with Catholic teachings, but I thought that petitioning the Lord and his cohorts to intervene in earthly affairs was fairly commmon practice. I seem to recall Pope Francis doing this on a few occasions.

      Memorare

      Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary,
      that never was it known
      that any one who fled to thy protection,
      implored thy help
      or sought thy intercession,
      was left unaided.
      Inspired by this confidence,
      We fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins my Mother;
      to thee do we come, before thee we stand, sinful and sorrowful;
      O Mother of the Word Incarnate,
      despise not our petitions,
      but in thy mercy hear and answer them. Amen.

      Are you saying that asking God for stuff has gone the way of Indulgences and is no longer practiced?

      • In reply to #68 by john.wb:

        Are you saying that asking God for stuff has gone the way of Indulgences and is no longer practiced?

        I remember when I was very young and my mom wasn’t around my Catholic Italian grandmother used to perform “miracles”. We would pray to the Virgin Mary for candy and She would make chocolate appear out of nowhere. Or so I thought at the time.

    • In reply to #63 by CumbriaSmithy:

      our means of sharing our innermost thoughts with God and of worshipping Him.

      Sharing is a two-way process. Unless ‘God’,whichever one it is, shares his thoughts , it’s like talking to the wall. What kind of thoughts would a god have, anyway. Thought is sub-vocal speech so what language does your god speak? Hebrew? But Dawkins has set out a clear proof of the non-existence of Yahweh-type gods in The God Delusion.

        • In reply to #77 by CumbriaSmithy:

          In reply to #72 by aldous:

          Dawkins has set out a clear proof of the non-existence of Yahweh-type gods in The God Delusion.

          Has he? I’ve read it but I haven’t found any proof.

          I think Aldous was just speaking informally. I think Prof. Dawkins would agree that The God Delusion is not a “proof” of the non-existence of God in the sense that someone like myself or like Prof. Dawkins would use the word “proof” in a scientific sense. A proof is a mathematical argument that guarantees certainty if the premises are valid and the proper rules of logic are used. Very few things in the sciences are provable in this sense. Actually Trivers has a good (and humorous — he has some nice little digs at people who won the nobel prize for work he’s not impressed with) discussion of the interplay between math (proofs) and biology/physics in that lecture I linked to yesterday.

          Very little in the empirical science can be proven because a proof is a precise mathematical argument. Dawkins treats God as an empirical hypothesis. If you really believe in Jehovah you believe He exists somewhere in (or outside of) time and space. That’s an empirical claim and it should be subject the same laws of evidence as a claim that there is a black hole at the center of our galaxy or that the universe started with a Big Bang.

          So given that way of looking at it, what Dawkins does is show that by any rational analysis the God hypothesis is clearly not supportable and in fact it’s so clearly not supportable that if it weren’t for social conventions we would consider people who believe in the God hypothesis to be delusional. It’s as irrational Dawkins claims — and argues very well why — to believe in Jehovah as to believe that Fairies live in your garden.

        • In reply to #77 by CumbriaSmithy:

          Has he? I’ve read it but I haven’t found any proof.

          Here’s what you missed. It refutes the religious thesis

          that there exists a superhuman, supernatural intelligence who deliberately designed and created the universe and everything in it, including us. This book will advocate an alternative view: any creative intelligence, of sufficient complexity to design anything, comes into existence only as the end product of an extended process of gradual evolution. Creative intelligences, being evolved, necessarily arrive late in the universe, and therefore cannot be responsible for designing it. (The God Delusion: Richard Dawkins)

          • In reply to #79 by aldous:
            >

            Here’s what you missed. It refutes the religious thesis:

            Creative intelligences, being evolved, necessarily arrive late in the universe.

            Nope, I didn’t miss it, and it’s not proof. It’s RD’s assumption that intelligence exists only within his own sphere of knowledge. As RD himself admits, he can only advocate an ‘alternative view’.

          • Well, an alternative view is certainly what it is. While aldous’s choice of the word refute implies a rebuttal worthy of disproving your assertion (which really isn’t a meaningful assertion since it’s faith based, let’s be real) most of us here already know that this ‘alternative view’ (that you so enthusiastically point out as if the mere fact that its being alternative somehow automatically places it on a lower rung of the ladder of reason; newsflash: it doesn’t, and not only because your view has nothing to do with reason) will never really be pondered by you with any seriousness since your default view is one of faith, which requires a closed mind from the get go.

            I laud many of the posters here who spar with you, seemingly because they believe it could lead to a true enlightenment – the possibility that you will open your mind and allow for, yes, an ‘alternative view’ to share the space with blind faith, if just for a few moments. I believe it’s their hope that this might lead to a, I hesitate to say, revelation of sorts. I am personally not convinced of this after reading multiple posts which reveal your deeply entrenched faith based views, far from my own malleable ones, but I laud the posters here just the same for giving your rhetoric the oxygen of respectability as RD would say. Nice of them. They deserve your thanks. Keep at it, guys; I don’t have the patience.

            In reply to #80 by CumbriaSmithy:

            In reply to #79 by aldous:

            Here’s what you missed. It refutes the religious thesis:

            Creative intelligences, being evolved, necessarily arrive late in the universe.

            Nope, I didn’t miss it, and it’s not proof. It’s RD’s assumption that intelligence exists only within his own sphere of knowledge. As…

          • In reply to #81 by Steven007:

            Well, an alternative view is certainly what it is. While aldous’s choice of the word refute implies a rebuttal worthy of disproving your assertion (which really isn’t a meaningful assertion since it’s faith based, let’s be real) most of us here already know that this ‘alternative view’ (that you so…

            You’ve used a number of terms here, Steven, such as ‘closed mind’, ‘enlightenment’, ‘deeply entrenched’, ‘blind faith’.

            So my questions, which have never been answered satisfactorily by the non-believing community, are:

            1. How can a mind be considered closed when it’s open to the existence of God?

            2. How can someone claim to be enlightened when they blot God out of their thinking?

            3. How can I be ‘deeply entrenched’ when I have read and considered most of the topics under discussion here?

            4. And finally, how can somebody with faith in God be considered blind when it’s the atheist who refuses to see the evidence for Him?

            You also used the term ‘let’s be real’. So, now, please tell me where reality really came from.

          • Thanks for your reply, CS, but I have to refer you to my last sentence which I’ll conveniently repeat here: ‘I don’t have the patience.’

            And the reason I don’t have the patience is my patient fellow bloggers have so adroitly done so (answered your many questions) already time and time again. Just reading the comments on this posting and another one you recently contributed to, the bloggers here have bent over backwards in varying degrees of patience and felicity doing their best to rouse your intellectual curiosity. But there is no true curiosity with faith. There is only reverence steeped in faith. True curiosity arises from skepticism, which you seemingly do not posses.

            A mind open to the existence of God says nothing at all. My mind is open to that as well. Your mind might just as well be open to the existence of a Supreme Snail, leaving his trail of goodness across the globe. We could do worse. But blind faith is not the conduit for that slim opening in my mind; reason is. Your God is an arrogant god, demanding worship and hating and punishing when that’s not received; vengeful and exclusionary, sharing traits with some of the most hated men in written history. Some faith. Yes, I left out the supposed “good parts” you’re sure to throw back. That’s because you and your minions leave out the bad parts always. Or even worse, you try to justify them with your expert cherry picking. Have at it.

            In reply to #82 by CumbriaSmithy:

            In reply to #81 by Steven007:

            Well, an alternative view is certainly what it is. While aldous’s choice of the word refute implies a rebuttal worthy of disproving your assertion (which really isn’t a meaningful assertion since it’s faith based, let’s be real) most of us here already know that this ‘…

          • In reply to #82 by CumbriaSmithy:

            In reply to #81 by Steven007:

            Well, an alternative view is certainly what it is. While aldous’s choice of the word refute implies a rebuttal worthy of disproving your assertion (which really isn’t a meaningful assertion since it’s faith based, let’s be real) most of us here already know that this ‘…

            One general point that I think relates to several of your comments is: having an open (or closed) mind can’t be equated with accepting or rejecting any one specific truth. So for example, I think we would all agree that someone who knocks on Emma Watson’s door because he believes he’s Ron Weasly and that Ms. Watson is really Hermione is delusional. If our delusional Ronald said to the doctors “how can you have an open mind if you aren’t open to the idea that I’m a not so gifted wizard who has a very beautiful witch for a girl friend!!” I don’t think even you would be agreeing with him.

            I would agree that delusional Ronald has even less justification for believing what he believes than say someone who believes that they are drinking the blood and eating the flesh of a man who died thousands of years ago when they get communion every Sunday. But come to think of it both ideas have about equal credibility, it’s just that lots of people still share the God delusion so it doesn’t mark people as obviously mentally ill (and in fact I think most theists shouldn’t be considered mentally ill for that reason) but Delusional Ronald has much more specific delusions that no one else shares so his delusions would make him stand out.

            But in any case the point is that charges of open or closed minds shouldn’t be based on accepting or rejecting any one specific idea. They should be based on the process one uses for accepting or rejecting ideas. I personally have some friends who are religious and have very open minds even on religion. And I’m pretty sure they would say I have an open mind on the topic as well. We can talk with each other and listen to arguments and at the end of the day probably neither of us have changed our minds but we may have modified them slightly and the important thing is we stay open to new information and arguments.

            But it is my experience that many religious people tend to have closed minds and aren’t interested for example in evidence that the Earth is billions of years old and started with a Big Bang or that the authors of the Gospels weren’t actually the apostles.

          • In reply to #82 by CumbriaSmithy:

            I’ll take the four question challenge Smithy

            1. How can a mind be considered closed when it’s open to the existence of God?

            Before you can discuss this question you need to know what definition of an open or closed mind you are using. I would propose that there is a bell curve of definitions on the shelf, from an “Open Mind” means someone who will believe in Chukra’s, crystal healing, homoeopathy, UFO’s and alien abductions, and gods. That is, their mind is open to every belief, whether there is evidence to support that belief or not. Then there is the rational “Open Mind” that is open to any proposition, if there is evidence to support it. The classic skeptic.

            So in answer to question 1, your mind is open to the existence of god. But your mind is closed to matters that are supported by evidence. I guess that could be called selective openness, or willful blindness.

            2 How can someone claim to be enlightened when they blot God out of their thinking?

            Again it depends on the definition of enlightened. This appears to be a consensus of definitions of “enlightened”. “Having or showing a rational, modern, and well-informed outlook.” This definition would fit with a person described above, the skeptic with an open mind to evidence based belief. I know there is a religious usage of this term, but it is a bastardization of the true definition. Buddha sought enlightenment. Probably seeking the enlightenment of the modern definition, but using the wrong tool to achieve it. Just like any other religious person who seeks “enlightenment” through religious experience. So in answer to question 2, an enlightened person is justified in “blotting” out the existence of god because of the lack of evidence. You either don’t understand the words you’ve used, or you are attributing meanings, that the words don’t possess.

            3 How can I be ‘deeply entrenched’ when I have read and considered most of the topics under discussion here?

            That depends whether you mind is open to rational evidence. If your mind is closed, that is, that you won’t allow the admittance of rational evidence, then you can be defined as “deeply entrenched.” The fact that your have “considered most of the topics under discussion here?” and come to the conclusions you do, in the absence of evidence, or contrary to the evidence, is evidence in itself of a closed mind, or an entrenched mind.

            4 And finally, how can somebody with faith in God be considered blind when it’s the atheist who refuses to see the evidence for Him?

            Definitions again. The key to the answer to this question is the word is evidence. Defined thus, “the available body of facts or information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid” Now “facts and information” are quite clear in their meaning. The bible is not evidence of anything. It’s authorship is unknown and uncorroborated. The method of compilation and translation has flaws. It is riddled with contradictions. It is but one of numerous competing religious texts, all with similar evidentiary failings. If the bible was a witness in criminal proceedings, the Judge would give a direction to the jury to disregard the evidence of the witness. It would be struck from the court proceedings. In reading your statements in this forum Smithy, I have no recollection of any attempt to cite evidence of any credibility in support of the claim for the existence of god apart from quoting the bible.

            So in answer to question four, the atheist sees the “evidence for him”. Weighs that evidence like a true open minded skeptic, then dismisses it. If the test is extended to “Probability” for the existence of god, defined thus, “the quality or state of being probable; the extent to which something is likely to happen or be the case.” God’s existence is way out at the extremes of the bell curve. God is not necessary.

            Your series of questions seemed to be based on “proving the existence of god.” This question has been discussed and debated since gods were invented, by far greater minds than me. The summary of those arguments are, there is no proof that god exists. There is no proof that god doesn’t exist. It is a null question. So to believe in god in the absence of evidence is an act of faith, defined thus, “strong belief in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual conviction rather than proof.”

          • In reply to #93 by David R Allen:

            So to believe in god in the absence of evidence is an act of faith

            This reminded me of a comment on a cnn story I read yesterday, the comments were dominated by atheists as it would appear and one believer asked one of the atheist posters, “Why do you have to force your beliefs on others ? “

            Most people think an atheist has beliefs or that evidence is something you can disbelieve . They don’t realize that it is not a dogma or an ideology. It really is nothing at all except the lack of faith in a god and the ideas surrounding this.
            This is why when someone asks you do you believe in god and you say no, I believe in evidence, it causes an issue with attachment of belief to a fact. When a fact stands alone by the supporting evidence hence no need to believe, it simply is.

            Atheists are not pushing their beliefs, they are pushing for others to recognize their beliefs are wrong based on the lack of evidence. That is not a belief it is a fact. No evidence, no reason to believe anything.

          • In reply to #82 by CumbriaSmithy:

            “So my questions, which have never been answered satisfactorily by the non-believing community, are:…

            May I suggest they’ve never been satisfactorily asked.

            1. How can a mind be considered closed when it’s open to the existence of God?

            Is this a real question? First, let’s paraphrase. How can a mind be considered closed when it’s open to the existence of Allah? How can a mind be considered closed when it’s open to the existence of Buddha? How can a mind be considered closed when it’s open to the existence of Xenu?

            What makes these minds closed is the preconception and bias for a particular narrative. It is not the openness to the existence of God that makes it closed. What makes such a mind closed is that it is not open to the non-existence of God. When we ask a believer about the non-existence of God we are completely unlikely to discover the believer is open to the idea that God doesn’t exist. Like many atheists I am open to the concept of the existence of God. I invite any believer to trot their god out so we can take a look at it. But all we get are ancient stories and personal feelings… but no god. Your god is no less deserving of skepticism than any other. The question is hypocritical because the supposed open mind is closed to all other god concepts. That’s how it can be considered closed, and rightly so.

            2. How can someone claim to be enlightened when they blot God out of their thinking?

            Let’s do it again. How can someone claim to be enlightened when they blot Vishnu out of their thinking? How can someone claim to be enlightened when they blot Allah out of their thinking? How can someone claim to be enlightened when they blot Quetzalcoatl out of their thinking? And best of all, how can someone claim to be enlightened when they blot Buddha, the icon of spiritual enlightenment, out of their thinking?

            To the contrary, how can we claim to be enlightened when we rely on the superstitious beliefs and narratives of pre-literate, barely civilized people who were vastly ignorant of how the world works? Homosexuality and shellfish are abomination unto the Lord but we never see Christians (not even Freddy Phelps) picketing Red Lobster. How can we possibly claim it is enlightened to encourage credulity for these tales of magic and tribal superiority? Has there ever been a culture that claimed its neighbors were better people with better gods?

            Enlightenment is the realization that reality is best understood when it is not required to fit a preconceived and biased script.

            Immanuel Kant : “Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-imposed nonage. Nonage is the inability to use one’s own understanding without another’s guidance. This nonage is self-imposed if its cause lies not in lack of understanding but in indecision and lack of courage to use one’s own mind without another’s guidance. Dare to know! (Sapere aude.) “Have the courage to use your own understanding,” is therefore the motto of the enlightenment.”

            The real question is how can someone claim to be enlightened when they blot Kant out of their thinking?

            3. How can I be ‘deeply entrenched’ when I have read and considered most of the topics under discussion here?

            Bias. Devotion to an ideology. Faith. That’s how someone can be ‘deeply entrenched’ even though they’ve read and ‘considered’ most of the topics under discussion here. I’m not saying you are… (because I’ve read very little of what you’ve written) …but that’s how.

            4. And finally, how can somebody with faith in God be considered blind when it’s the atheist who refuses to see the evidence for Him?

            Um, maybe because of blind faith? Let’s paraphrase again: How can somebody with faith in Isis be considered blind when it’s the atheist who refuses to see the evidence for Her? How can somebody with faith in Hitler’s Final Solution be considered blind when it’s the atheist who refuses to see the evidence for it? How can somebody with faith in Allah be considered blind when it’s the Christian who refuses to see the evidence for Him?

            Like I wrote in response to question number one, trot your god (or any objective supporting evidence) out and let’s take a look at it. Blind is probably the wrong word for seeing evidence that isn’t there. Delusional would be a better word. It would be the people who don’t see the evidence who would be blind… assuming there actually was some evidence to be seen. Is there any evidence of this evidence or is it just more scripture and personal subjective interpretations and feelings?

            These four questions are all empty yet self-congratulatory. They’re completely un-challenging. In trying to defend your position you’ve only managed to damage it. But it’s not your fault. If your God would get off its ass and do something you might be able to make a case. And it’s not God’s fault either. How can we blame God when it doesn’t exist?

          • In reply to #95 by Akaei:

            In reply to #82 by CumbriaSmithy:

            “So my questions, which have never been answered satisfactorily by the non-believing community, are:…

            May I suggest they’ve never been satisfactorily asked.

            Thank you.

          • In reply to #82 by CumbriaSmithy:

            Hi CubriaSmithy,

            I was intrigued by your questions.

            How can a mind be considered closed when it’s open to the existence of God?

            This is a false dichotomy. One can be open to the existence of fairies, but that does not mean one must believe in fairies just because someone says they exist. If one were to say that any report (e.g. of a fairy sighting) proved the existence of fairies until proven otherwise, that would be to be closed-minded about testing evidence of fairies or, more specifically, it would be closed-minded about witness statements which, as every skeptic knows, are the most unreliable form of evidence.

            How can someone claim to be enlightened when they blot God out of their thinking?

            The term enlightenment is usually taken to mean (from the 18thC root of the blooming of philosophy and science) the realisation of the true nature of reality by systematic study of verifiable facts. On that basis where does God fit in?

            Peace.

          • In reply to #80 by CumbriaSmithy:

            In reply to #79 by aldous:

            Here’s what you missed. It refutes the religious thesis:

            Creative intelligences, being evolved, necessarily arrive late in the universe.

            Nope, I didn’t miss it, and it’s not proof. It’s RD’s assumption that intelligence exists only within his own sphere of knowledge. As…

            Being a person with a deist tendency, I’d like to ask you why there is no mention of god in early civilizations? Why prophets didn’t sign (or write / dictate) their books? Why they only appeared on the same geographic area?

          • In reply to #84 by YesUCan:

            Being a person with a deist tendency, I’d like to ask you why there is no mention of god in early civilizations?

            There is. It’s virtually universal. Read books by anthropologists about religion such as In Gods We Trust by Atran or Religion Explained by Boyer, religion is found in virtually every ancient civilization we know of and has been found in virtually every tribe of hunter gatherers that has been discovered in places like the Amazon living isolated from modern civilization.

            Why prophets didn’t sign (or write / dictate) their books? Why they only appeared on the same geographic area?

            They didn’t. It’s just that in the modern world people tend to equate religion with Christian, Muslim, or Jewish because the Abrahemic religions have spread so widely in the world. Now why THAT happened is an interesting question and probably doesn’t have one simple answer but you are just wrong to assume that religion is somehow an invention of one group of people in time or space.

          • In reply to #86 by Red Dog:

            In reply to #84 by YesUCan:

            Being a person with a deist tendency, I’d like to ask you why there is no mention of god in early civilizations?

            There is. It’s virtually universal. Read books by anthropologists about religion such as In Gods We Trust by Atran or Religion Explained by Boyer, religion…

            I mean here a God who is omniscient, omnipresent etc. Among early religions, as far as know, ancient Persians, Egyptian paraoh Akhenaton and early central asians had (not the same but) somewhat similar god perception. All other ancient societies had either animist views or multiple gods.

          • In reply to #87 by YesUCan:

            mean here a God who is omniscient, omnipresent etc.

            Sorry, my mistake. I think you are correct. I think that’s also a very interesting question btw. If there is any validity to a science of memetics I think that would be a really interesting meme to study both historically and the way people currently interpret it. In some ways it seems (this is just baseless speculation I admit) kind of natural to me that the religious meme would eventually evolve in that direction. That as people get more sophisticated about starting to understand the universe that the idea of multiple gods who have all the same human foibles as human families would start to seem obviously absurd and that it would evolve to not just “Our god is the biggest and baddest” but “our god is the only god and the rest are just myths”. I think it might even be a part of the evolution (not in the natural selection sense in the informal use of the word) of our maturity as a species, that as we start to realize that the god stories are clearly just made up a natural reaction by the people who benefit most from such myths is to narrow the gods into one God and make that one God be more and more powerful until they end up being omniscient and omnipotent.

          • In reply to #90 by Red Dog:
            >

            “I think it might even be a part of the evolution… of our maturity as a species, that as we start to realize that the god stories are clearly just made up …is to narrow the gods into one God … being omniscient and omnipotent”

            This is not too different from what happened to YHWH, the judeo-christian god. Early on the Israelites were polytheists. They had the same gods as the Canaanites. In my under-informed assessment they were the Canaanites. But the priests who most closely followed YHWH increased their influence over the centuries and the priests of El, Ba’al, etc lost influence until they weren’t really considered priests any more. Eventually worship of other gods was outlawed. Even the first commandment allows for the existence (but not the worship) of other gods. The golden calf was probably a tribute to El or Ba’al. There are references to God’s wife Ashera, who was the wife/consort of El. Since the general population was mostly illiterate and the scholars/priests were developing the early written form of the language, there was nothing stopping them from redacting, editing and embellishing, as supported by the documentary hypothesis.

    • It’s similar to the hypothetical question of what the world would be like if all atheists ‘got their way’ and religions of all kinds were abolished worldwide

      I don’t believe your assertions. I think after a lifetime of engaging with “God” claims, that your terms are ill-defined and shape shifting, that your arguments are flimsy and that you’ve provided no evidence. You can call me an atheist because I don’t believe what you believe and I’ve never seen good reasons to believe it.

      I don’t want religions abolished. I want them to held equally accountable for their claims as anyone else. That’s what this is all about. If you would like to accuse us of wanting to abolish religion because we demand support for religious claims, then you have been sipping Kool-Aid when you could have been listening to the very good reasons many people don’t believe you.

      1 )Define “God”. You know. Define your terms. Before you start demanding that people answer your questions about “God”. It’s not reasonable for you to think that your chosen deity among tens of thousands of deities deserves a capital “G” without explaining why that should be the case.

      I should emphasize YOUR god because I’m not even talking about a christian god among tens of thousands but the thousands and thousands of sects of christianity who have very different christian gods which is only one god among tens of thousands of deities across global and historical humanity. Also, that you have your own version, but with some personal tailoring. That’s how it always seems to go.

      What statements about reality would you like us to accept and what is your support for them? “God” is too vague a term.

  28. Humbug 53 above:

    There is no correlation between the apparent worthiness of an individual and the experience of events that can’t be explained by current science.

    I’m struggling to understand this point. Maybe I’m a bit thick, but perhaps you could rephrase it ? At the moment my interpretation of your words is that “shit happens to good people”. Am I light years away ?

    We know that through observation and also through the teachings of Jesus Christ.

    Yes we know shit happens to worthy people through observation, but what exactly did Jesus have to add ? That as a non-believer, I’m destined for the fiery lake for eternity ? Yes the very meaning of the words spoken by gentle Jesus, lamb of God, as He threatened the then majority of humanity, most of whom had never heard of Him ! And yes, the concept of hell is still very much Catholic doctrine, – in line with Jesus and his fiery lake to torture the sinners forever !

    Well if those are the “teachings of Jesus Christ” then I want nothing to do with them ! And they are the “teachings of Jesus Christ”, as printed out in the Catholic version of the Bible.. As for the poor old fig tree that Jesus smited out of pique, what a pathetic God Humbug worships. He who created the universe sits idly by whilst some 20,000 children die every day of poverty related issues, whilst with His so-called omnipotence, He could save them all, including Humbug’s brother, but He does nothing.

    By their deeds shall ye judge them.

  29. Prayer is: “how do appear like you are helping, without doing anything at all”.

    “I’ll pray for those people in ______________, who have had a natural disaster”…. Yeah, send a case of water. Send a dollar. Send some supplies. Raise awareness…. Or, sit and PRETEND you are helping. How fucking self indulgent can you get???

    Pray that the Redskins (horrible racist sports team name) beat the Eagles. Pray that YOU get a raise/promotion…etc… Pray for (and convince yourself that it worked) forgiveness for the rape you committed or the people you’ve killed… Yeah, prayer is GREAT. I worked in a prison for 12 years and EVERYONE in there was praying. Praying to be released (so that they could victimize more innocents).

    Oh, and PRAY to the same asshole who CAUSED THE DISASTER. (at least in your paradigm)… And, make sure everyone knows you are praying (because certainly it does not say to keep it to yourself in that pesky bible thing you read from) (Matthew 6:5 – 6:6).

    What a circle jerk.

    • In reply to #71 by crookedshoes:

      . Prayer is: “how do appear like you are helping, without doing anything at all”.

      I’m sure I have a look of horror when this is suggested as a solution. The individual concerned could actually DO something physical such as pitching in and lending a hand, but instead chooses to offer invisible, imperceptible thought waves instead of expending energy!
      In fact, I usually doubt that they’re even doing that! I suspect they’re too busy asking for favours of their own. ( but I’m too cynical for my own good, I’m afraid.)

    • In reply to #71 by crookedshoes:

      Yeah, send a case of water. Send a dollar. Send some supplies. Raise awareness…. Or, sit and PRETEND you are helping.

      This is an excellent point and bears remembering by all christians who convert to atheism. If you used to pray to save starving children or help earthquake victims then it is beholden on you now to try to achieve those same ends through material means.

  30. In reply to #63 by CumbriaSmithy:

    Prayer is not a plea to God to intervene or to change His mind…

    Why do you think people flock to Lourdes every year?

    To improve their relationship with god or to request a miracle cure?

    From your / Humbugs comments, it looks like prayer has been downgraded from wish granting to celestial relations development.

    It is harder to demonstrate the second definition does bear fruit and this is why you have fallen back to this position.

    We had the same shift over the years with things like the six day creation, Adam and Eve and many other claims in the bible.

    Physics biology etc have proven those claims to be wrong.

    Global access to the internet is giving normal people a chance to see the random, chaotic and completely impassive nature of the planet and universe.

    Only the uneducated, completely gullible or deluded would think there is a god out there answering prayers.

  31. In reply to #81 by Steven007:

    Your God is an arrogant god, demanding worship and hating and punishing when that’s not received; vengeful and exclusionary, sharing traits with some of the most hated men in written history. Some faith. Yes, I left out the supposed “good parts” you’re sure to throw back. That’s because you and your minions leave out the bad parts always. Or even worse, you try to justify them with your expert cherry picking.

    I presume you mean the parts like this:

    “Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments. But those who hate him he will repay to their face by destruction; he will not be slow to repay to their face those who hate him.”

    Did you notice that the good news precedes the bad news? So I would suggest the cherry-picking process works both ways. I’m very glad that God is God, and not some wimpish, powerless, bearded cloud-sitter in the sky; which is the image that seems to live in most atheists’ minds. I’m very pleased I can pray confidently to this God and not the one you seem to think I believe in.

    Oh … I see my four questions remain unanswered.

  32. I was listening to a radio jockey interview Jane Goodall earlier today. It was on a rock and roll station so I was very surprised to hear her (awesome) voice. He asked her about BIGFOOT. She replied that she was open to the existence because of the ubiquity of the sightings across continents and cultures. She then went on to plug her last book which involves the plant kingdom and all the invisible communications that plants engage in.

    So, to use this as an example:

    1. anecdotal stories attempting to validate a 6 plus foot tall organism that has no fossil relatives or actual evidence but is UBIQUITOUS enough to be sighted everywhere by everyone (seemingly always walking away at a very bad angle despite the fact that every one has a camera, now).

    2. invisible chemicals that are issued by a tree when a population of caterpillars attack it.

    Now, I have an “open mind” to both. However, I have lots and lots of confidence in one of the two scenarios and very little confidence in the other. I have even less confidence that there is a god. My mind is NOT closed, but my EYES are open.

  33. The god whom Dawkins demonstrates is incompatible with reality is the superhuman, supernatural intelligence who deliberately designed and created the universe and everything in it, including us This is one sort of creator god. There are plenty of others with different techniques. Bumba vomited up the world. The Hesiodic gods produced all things by vaguely described sex acts. They are open to the same objections as the Yahweh-type god who did it by brainpower. They use organs which only developed long after the Big Bang so they can’t possibly have been present at the moment of creation. Of course, it hardly seems necessary to underline the unreality of gods since they fit into the mythical genre of fiction perfectly well.

  34. (Finally the comments are working again , I must have written 4 letters about the js being bad… thanks for fixing it!!)

    When we are children, do we ask ourselves about god or a creator or does this happen only after we are told there is such a thing ?

    I do not recall ever coming up with that idea on my own. I remember clearly being told by other children or my indoctrinators. It never made sense to me as I am sure it never made sense to the rest of the kids. The most asked question was “Do you believe in god ? ”
    and as a kid who was born atheist it is a trick question. You are not sure what you are supposed to answer until the first time you are asked that. If you say no, it creates a huge silence. If you say yes, the reaction is “Ok , let’s go play” as if that was a reassuring thing and there was nothing more that needed to be said on the subject.

    If you say no and live in a place where most people do believe, you pretty much are looked at like a freak. They are severely convinced there is a god and if you don’t “believe there is one”then you must be insane somehow. Most people on the fence between belief and disbelief remain there due to peer pressure. Legislations against the non believer. Discrimination.

    They are the crazy ones and I simply can’t understand why they don’t see it !!! Is the weakness so great that their existence would shatter without gods ?

    Can’t they see that no merciful god would promise to protect and then let his children die. Not just these on this planet but entire planets and stars that are born to die and the potential life they harbor is extinguished.

    Is it so hard to accept that the Universe we know started from Implosion ? Does that have to be the seed from god ? the boson from god’s buxom ?

    In most cases this belief in the absent god is due to lack of education lack of knowledge. Religious beliefs are passed on in a more dense way. These are given more importance than actual useful knowledge in people’s lives. They are told that if they pray hard enough that miracles do happen. If you pray hard enough to get through med school without having to go to school, miracles can happen. Any thing can happen. Just pray.

    Believing in god is a bit like having gamblers fever . You have faith and you pray that you win every time you put money into the machine and pull the lever. Please god let me win this one and I will pray for you till the day I die and after…. miracles do happen.

    Attribution to a god for good fortune is very common. Even atheists on occasion joke about there being a god after something good happens or something bad happens to someone deserving it. There must be some alter power at work right? other than mere coincidence ?

    Blaming god for not saving people or allowing them to be killed or for spreading his killer viruses or for acne is also typical. At this time is when a person should be able to discard this baggage. When they pray for really good reasons not just fame and fortune and things still don’t pan out , why do you keep on ?

    I think once you lose it all by god’s hand , you have nothing left to lose. You become a walking death wish, a god zombie that wants to believe there is a good reason behind the carnage. That god has a master plan and this had to happen for god’s wish to be realized. Then to accept their sacrifice (as if they had a choice) for god and his master plan that only he knows about what it entails. But you must keep the faith and god will help you get through.

    It becomes something like Stockholm syndrome. You are a victim of god’s wrath and you also love him….

  35. I was posting over on cnn opinion discussion page about the topic of whether the resurrection happened at all. So many people claiming it did happen also many atheists trying to get some kind of evidence that did not involve a theologist crack.

    Something one of them said to me struck me . Besides their inherent stupidity …

    “You ask for “evidence”. Can you tell me why you dismiss existence itself as evidence? It’s simple common sense to believe that something in existence was created..”

    I was asking for evidence for the existence of god, or jesus or any of it. This is evidence of how hard it is for most people to describe what god is. They define god to be existent. Something or someone that exists. I had to look up the word to try and see if there is a correlation between something that exists because it has mass for example or can be perceived and the existence of something that can’t be perceived .

    Maybe I am wrong , but it does not seem to me that something that cannot be perceived can exist. And I don’t mean something that can’t be perceived because you are not there, like the tree falling in the forest. I mean that no one not even the microbes can perceive it exists . Then it does not exist until it can be perceived.

    Then He called me un-objective…

    “That’s kind of hypocritical in a way. To just assume that something in existence doesn’t have a Creator because you lack “evidence” while the thing in existence could very well be the very BEST evidence just tells me there is a real lack of objectivity.”

    You just can’t make people with this kind of intellect understand even what they are saying. These people make up for most of the delusionals with no hope to recover..

    • In reply to #99 by GFZ:

      “You ask for “evidence”. Can you tell me why you dismiss existence itself as evidence? It’s simple common sense to believe that something in existence was created..”

      There’s a hint of equivocation in the use of “created.” If take a piece of lava and consider if it was created you could conclude it was created by a volcano. But the volcano wouldn’t have zapped it into existence. The volcano would have created a new item from previously existing materials. The same goes for a watch or even children.

      But the assumption that a deity created the universe and everything in it is not a logical necessity nor can we claim it is even likely. Taking existence to be evidence for divine creation is invalid as the conclusion does not follow from the premise. If we didn’t have good evidence for the finite history of the universe we would have no reason to assume that the universe ever began but perhaps always has existed. But we do have good evidence.

      The question of how the universe began to exist is a mystery. There are some interesting non-mystical hypotheses. Mystical hypotheses suggest a creator used no materials and created the universe and everything in it from nothing. This kind of creation has never happened within the universe (virtual particles from quantum fluctuations may qualify as an exception) but we are asked to believe this is how the universe was created. Further we are asked to believe only a sentient all-powerful being could cause this to happen. There is no adequate explanation for why a god could use unknowable means to do this but an unknown non-sentient phenomenon could not by unknowable means do the same thing through something like a natural process. There is no reason for excluding a non-sentient creation process except ideological bias.

      In some sense of the word the universe was “created.” But it is naive to think any deity, let a lone a specific deity, is responsible for the existence of the universe. There is no objective corroboration.

      • In reply to #104 by Akaei:

        I wish I was as good as expressing this as you are. I let it get me so angry that I can’t come up with the proper retort . I often wonder what is the point. But that is for me to sort out.

        I think this person was not referring to a creator as in a child creator or a lava created from volcano. They also referred to the creator as the architect who left his fingerprint on everything . Strictly in that way.

        Which I tried to answer by saying that when one can’t understand how something is created one tends to imagine it to be magic or supernatural.

        This applies even to birth. Just look at the adam and eve for a hint at how birth and conception were explained back then…

        In the mouths of these fanatical people, creator is always god.

        I tend to think of it as a causation type of casualty . That we are here. Cause and effect. The cause could be a god, or not. But the god they describe as the creator could simply not be capable. He can’t even stop a forest fire after starting one … ;)

  36. Religious people are like sheep that follow the heard. Religious scriptures are the shephards, and the religious teachers are the sheepdogs rounding up all the sheep into their little bubble of a pen they call their religion. The sheep will do what the shephard commands the sheepdog to get the sheep to do. So you see, if a religion commands it’s followers to pray…then they shall pray……they will not ask the question why, they will just obey. Regarding the recent storms in the Philippines that killed so many, pppsssshhh. Small potatoes for their creator, their sustainer of the universe (Genesis 6-9)

    • In reply to #101 by ctrlaltdlt:

      Religious people are like sheep that follow the herd. Religious scriptures are the shepherds, and the religious teachers are the sheepdogs rounding up all the sheep into their little bubble of a pen they call their religion. The sheep will do what the shephard commands the sheepdog to get the sheep…

      The atheistic community is the same. I wouldn’t be surprised if there aren’t thousands of children around the world who believe the FSM (an imaginary being jokingly thought up in a few seconds by an American student) actually exists. A quick Google search will reveal a vast amount of children’s artwork based on this mythical being, and it’s all encouraged and cultivated by the poor kids’ parents. As a Christian I acknowledge that a child’s upbringing is critical to its thinking in adult life, but the ‘sheep’ thing is a human trait which is not restricted to religiots.

      • In reply to #106 by CumbriaSmithy:

        In reply to #101 by ctrlaltdlt:

        The atheistic community is the same. I wouldn’t be surprised if there aren’t thousands of children around the world who believe the FSM (an imaginary being jokingly thought up in a few seconds by an American student) actually exists

        You should not blasphemine the Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM). The FSM followers have recently been recognized as a religion in Poland and are now exempt from tax as per the Catholics. I also dispute your “atheistic community is the same” claim simply because there is no “atheistic community” in the same way as there is no “do not believe in Astrology” community or “do not believe in Telepathy” community. I can see how you might think there is an athestic community the way some people are so passionate about the topic but these are most commonly people recovering from religion and reborn atheists. Can imagine if I had been an orphan raised in a Catholic sex camp for the defenceless I would be pretty hot on the topic that religion is no good too. When I want to pursue a new topic, hobby, job, etc I do not check to see what other atheists are doing or what a ancient books tells me to do I simply go to the best available knowledge which is surely found in the non-fiction section (although still needs to be cross checked with multiple sources before can be taken as Gospel).

        • In reply to #107 by Catfish:

          In reply to #106 by CumbriaSmithy:
          I also dispute your “atheistic community is the same” claim simply because there is no “atheistic community” in the same way as there is no “do not believe in Astrology” community or “do not believe in Telepathy” community.

          This is particularly well said. Atheism is a “Null” position. A non belief. It doesn’t require any action because there is no “belief” in that position, that demands or inspires an action.

          What Smithy confuses is the political position. People of like minds have had enough of religions damage to humanity, and at the political level, are uniting and saying “enough is enough”. This is a campaign I support and actively promote. Politically, I would like to see people who wish to participate in a religion free from any impediment to do so. Just because I think it is a waste of time and resources gives me no right to impose my view on the religious. (Take note Smithy)

          This is in contrast with the religious who believe it is their god given duty to impose there narrow caste view of the world on every single living homo sapien on the planet. This is the stark contrast with my position. This is the politics I will resist. This is why religion and the religious should be free to practice their belief in groups of consenting adults in private. Not children, which is child abuse.

          So Smithy, politically, I will stand shoulder to shoulder with you at the barricade, and support your right to pray. But I will be on the other side of the barricade when you demand creationism be taught in schools, or American foreign policy be dictated by fundamentalist christians, and a long list of other religiously inspired demands.

          So Smithy, can you see why your claims of some united cohort of atheists is inherently wrong. A mistake.

          • In reply to #110 by David R Allen:

            This is particularly well said. Atheism is a “Null” position. A non belief. It doesn’t require any action because there is no “belief” in that position, that demands or inspires an action.

            I don’t really agree with this. I think a more accurate way to put it is that for some people atheism is nothing but a null position. Frankly I think such people are fairly lacking curiosity about some very interesting intellectual questions but that’s another issue. The important point is that for some other people (like me) atheism is one essential part of a very positive non-null position. I don’t just reject theism I embrace rationality and science. And while I don’t know the answers to a lot of ethical questions I know that the answers depend a lot on whether or not there is a God which there isn’t.

            And I think I’m more in line with the major thinkers of atheism through history. Nietzsche, David Hume, Sartre, Bertrand Russell, Pinker, Harris, and Dawkins all have very interesting non-null ideas about human society, ethics, politics and their atheism is a core part of those ideas. IMO rejecting God is just the (rather uninteresting) null starting point for an atheist intellectual.

          • In reply to #111 by Red Dog:

            In reply to #110 by David R Allen:

            This is particularly well said. Atheism is a “Null” position. A non belief. It doesn’t require any action because there is no “belief” in that position, that demands or inspires an action.

            I don’t really agree with this. I think a more accurate way to put it is that for some people atheism is nothing but a null position.

            For me this null concept is essential. It is part of the more analytical way of thinking necessary to disable the muddled thinking rife in theism (but nothing outside theism!). In theism a ragbag of beliefs are offered as some sort of integrated whole. Some aspect of it seems attractive…loving your neighbour…some moral stuff and the implicit understanding is you have to buy the lot.

            The cornerstone (the only stone!) of atheism is the single simple idea that there is no ultimate authority. In deciding things you are on your own, kid.

            The point about this singular Atheism is that it unpacks itself.

            It dismays me that Atheism is lauded in the stead of Evidence ‘n’ Reason. It is Evidence ‘n’ Reason that most often may lead people to become atheist or become an Atheist not the other way around.

            Atheism, as the singular thing, no ultimate authority, may be the ratchet that locks evidence ‘n’ reason in place once you get to it, precisely because of its null hypothesis. It is evidence ‘n’ reason or nothing, folks.

            I have to agree that the word is used by many in this muddled way (“part of my Atheism is a belief in feminism and treating people equally” or whatever….yuk.) It is why I have on numerous occasions considered distancing myself from the word.

          • In reply to #115 by phil rimmer:

            In reply to #111 by Red Dog:

            In reply to #110 by David R Allen:
            It dismays me that Atheism is lauded in the stead of Evidence ‘n’ Reason. It is Evidence ‘n’ Reason that most often may lead people to become atheist or become an Atheist not the other way around.

            I only started to extend my thinking in 2007 when I retired, and could read whatever I wanted for leisure and pleasure. It has been a wonderful journey. I have also found forums like this that allow me to test and extend my arguments and views. Wonderful stuff.

            I had one of those wonderful revelatory moments when I read the above from Phil Rimmer. Atheism is just the collatoral damage of learning to think. It is not and “End”, it’s just part of the journey. So thanks Phil.

          • In reply to #111 by Red Dog:

            In reply to #110 by David R Allen:

            IMO rejecting God is just the (rather uninteresting) null starting point for an atheist intellectual.

            Taking another swing at this. (I am rather troubled by it.) I don’t understand why atheism for an intellectual isn’t just another point on a journey. It surely cannot be the start of something? For an intellectual it must be a position intellectually achieved.

          • In reply to #111 by Red Dog:

            In reply to #110 by David R Allen:
            I don’t really agree with this. I think a more accurate way to put it is that for some people atheism is nothing but a null position.

            I can understand your argument and it is correct. The point I was making to CumbriaSmithy is that atheism doesn’t demand anything of an adherent. There is no creed. No organization. No hierarchy. If everyone on the planet was an atheist, the word wouldn’t exist. I was trying to point out to Smithy, probably poorly, that he is mistaken every time he trots out his argument that atheism is somehow an opposite parallel of religion. It is not. It can’t be because atheism is an un-belief. Because I don’t believe in the tooth fairy, doesn’t require any action on my part. Because Smithy believes in god, requires him to act. That was the point I was attempting to make.

            What Smithy confuses is the activities of people in the political arena, who also happen to be atheists. There is an intellectually derived notion that making decisions based on religion is no longer a valid method of progressing the world. That is a political ideal, and it could and should be held by the moderate religious of the world, who wish to advance a peaceful secular world, accommodating of a host of religions. While religions strive for political dominance, there will always be trouble. So the campaign to neutralize religion as a political force is not a consequence of atheism, it is just commonsense.

          • In reply to #110 by David R Allen:

            Atheism is a “Null” position. A non belief. It doesn’t require any action because there is no “belief” in that position, that demands or inspires an action.

            I’ve read this many times before and find it puzzling. I presume you believe what you just wrote, so how can you claim you take a ‘null position’? If it doesn’t require any belief or action why did you log on here and type something? Surely if it’s merely a non-belief you would be indifferent and would post selfies on Facebook like the rest of the population? If atheism is a ‘null position’ why did RD write all of his books (apart from the obvious fame and/or fortune motives of course)?

          • In reply to #121 by CumbriaSmithy:

            I presume you believe what you just wrote, so how can you claim you take a ‘null position’?

            This part is the most difficult for people who believe in gods and the supernatural to understand. But I would say that it more of a neutral , not so much null.

            Null in sense that there is no ideological bias, only logical bias and reasonable bias towards believing the unbelievable.

            The word believe is used too much just like the word love and has lost it’s meaning. It used to mean that after evidentiary proof, one could be allowed to believe something . Because it has been proven.

            However the word is also used to give legitimacy to outlandish personal claims. Just because someone believes without proof they can’t really believe anything, they can only convince themselves it is true.

          • In reply to #121 by CumbriaSmithy:

            In reply to #110 by David R Allen:

            Atheism is a “Null” position. A non belief. It doesn’t require any action because there is no “belief” in that position, that demands or inspires an action.

            I’ve read this many times before and find it puzzling. I presume you believe what you just wrote, so how c…

            See entry 120 under my name.

            U confuse a political campaign for rational government with a religious campaign, which as we have discussed, has been imprinted on your brain during childhood. I think it would be impossible for you to ever understand the difference.

          • In reply to #121 by CumbriaSmithy:

            In reply to #110 by David R Allen:

            If it doesn’t require any belief or action why did you log on here and type something?

            I don’t have tuberculosis. I don’t have malaria. I don’t have HIV. But many people do. Since these afflictions don’t directly effect me perhaps I should just ignore them. But I have empathy. And even if I didn’t have empathy there are practical reasons I should care about these diseases. I recognize that valuable resources are directed (by both victims and health related agencies) against these diseases, rightly so. Even if I were completely immune I know that millions aren’t. If those who carry these diseases are not diligently responsible these diseases can and will spread, maybe to people I care about. But as long as they continue to exist and spread they will continue eating up more and more resources.

            I’m not Jewish. I’m not Christian. I’m not Muslim. But many people are. Since these beliefs don’t directly effect me perhaps I should just ignore them. But I have empathy. And even if I didn’t have empathy there are practical reasons I should care about these religions. I recognize that valuable resources are directed (by both adherents and society) toward mitigating the harm religions do, rightly so. Even though I’m completely immune I know that millions aren’t. If those who carry these ideologies are not diligently responsible these unfounded beliefs can and will spread, maybe to people I care about. But as long as they continue to exist and spread they will continue eating up more and more resources.

            I would love to not care about the non-existence of gods. But theist dogmas are harmful and costly to society.

          • In reply to #127 by Akaei:

            In reply to #121 by CumbriaSmithy:

            In reply to #110 by David R Allen:

            If it doesn’t require any belief or action why did you log on here and type something?

            I don’t have tuberculosis. I don’t have malaria. I don’t have HIV. But many people do. Since these afflictions don’t directly effect me…

            Rather a long post making the simple point that you believe religion is harmful to society. The problem is that religion is an integral part of humanity, and nobody really knows whether the sum total of its effects is harmful. The only evidence we have is to do with the conflict and the animosity it seems to engender on a public level. You have no idea of the personal, private comfort and wellbeing it engenders within people, and that, as far as I can remember from TGD, is a mistake which RD also makes – he either purposely or inadvertently seems to ignore the hidden and unquantifiable good (or for that matter the absence of evil) which belief in a god, and prayer to that god, creates.

          • In reply to #130 by CumbriaSmithy:

            In reply to #127 by Akaei:

            In reply to #121 by CumbriaSmithy:

            In reply to #110 by David R Allen:

            If it doesn’t require any belief or action why did you log on here and type something?

            I don’t have tuberculosis. I don’t have malaria. I don’t have HIV. But many people do. Since these afflictio…

            Confused. You’ve referenced my post, and Akaei’s, but then submitted no counter argument. Instead, you characterize these detailed posts with cogent arguments as just a rant against religion. Then you raise an entirely new topic without a word of rebuttal or refutation of the posts in question. It is open to me to assume that you have no rebuttal. This a tactic to deflect the forum to new areas when you have no rebuttal. I’ve seen this in forums often. I would invite you to address the arguments of Akaei and myself and stay on message.

            As to your sidetrack, Dawkins Et Al are entirely aware that some beliefs, whether founded on evidence or not, give comfort. For you to allege otherwise, is without evidence. As I have argued below in the posts you fail to respond to, I will go to the barricades alongside you for your right to practice whatever brand of religion you choose, but it should be practiced by consenting adults in private, and has no place in political decision making. Is that entirely clear. That you choose to do this, is no business of mine, but that religions in general, try to influence others, impose their scriptures and alter the future of the world, is my business. Again as I argued below, I would expect the moderately religious, to support this position, as it is in their interest to seek a peaceful secular world, where no one is going to come in and ban their religious practices because they are “blasphemous” etc, etc. I would invite you to support this initiative.

          • In reply to #130 by CumbriaSmithy:
            From comment 121

            “If it doesn’t require any belief or action why did you log on here and type something?”

            I wasn’t even trying to say religions are harmful. I was just trying to say they divert time and money from constructive enterprises. Of course religions, and all ideologies, are harmful if for no other reason than their interference with reality-based informed decision. The sum total of whether its effects are harmful should be pretty obvious if the tenets are rooted in fiction.

            Is it better to be Muslim, a Satanist, a Jain or an atheist? If you want to defend religion in general that’s one mistake that deserves a dedicated argument. The ideas that one religion offers benefits or that one religion is true deserve their own arguments.

            “You have no idea of the personal, private comfort and wellbeing it engenders within people…”

            And you have no idea of the personal, private comfort and well being heroin engenders within people. Of course you might not agree that heroin engenders well being, but some heroin adherents would disagree with you, so the analogy holds.

            “…he either purposely or inadvertently seems to ignore the hidden and unquantifiable good (or for that matter the absence of evil) which belief in a god, and prayer to that god, creates.”

            Actually he doesn’t ignore it. It’s in the title: The God Delusion. He includes the placebo effect and the inefficacy of prayer.

      • In reply to #106 by CumbriaSmithy:

        I wouldn’t be surprised…

        I would!

        A quick Google search…

        I’m lazy, please supply example.

        …and it’s all encouraged…

        You know this how?

        jokingly thought up

        Yes, however, FSM did not explode on the scene until referenced in an open letter to the Kansas Board of Education; this was during the Kansas vs Darwin debacle. The anti-evolution gang was no less ridiculous than the idea of parasailing pasta.

        not restricted to religiots

        Wrong, if you’re addressing non-belivers, that is.

      • In reply to #106 by CumbriaSmithy:

        a vast amount of children’s artwork based on this mythical being, and it’s all encouraged and cultivated by the poor kids’ parents.

        Children draw lots of pictures of Santa. The difference is that religiously indoctrinated children carry childish beliefs into later life and become adults who believe in the reality of mythical beings like Yahweh.

  37. What I find most bothersome is that for some reason they all think that as an atheist one never read anything about god and therefore knows him not. Don’t they realize that most atheists are very well educated in theology and the books related ?

    They assume one has not done any research and just came to this conclusion in a vacuum .

    And of course they will always negate one’s knowledge and dismiss it as if one did not make a good enough effort to find god.

    “You have no concept of God. If you really want to know, read the Bible. It’s in there.”

    The problem with this accusation , is that I did search and I did not leave any stone unturned. Did I miss something ?

    I often thought I was immune to god and that is why I can’t feel his presence like many claim to have felt. It is either that or they are all telling a lie about feeling gods presence . If they are telling a lie, that is low. That is horrible to do to people. It is fraud.

  38. I have asked this question to people at church, and their response was roughly along the lines of “shhhhhhh!”

    The believe in the power of prayer and having a direct connection to God.
    They believe in God’s divine plan.

    They are separate beliefs; don’t try and connect the two.

  39. Atheism is as dangerous as any religious creed when it is used as a justification for persecution. Stalin is the usual bogey man who is cited in this regard. That is why it’s important that the state should be democratic and secular. Secular, in the sense of being neutral towards religion, neither for nor against.

    It’s quite unjustifiable, as believers often do, to claim that it’s intolerant to criticize, condemn, ridicule, mock, scoff at, or satirize their doctrines and behaviour. In the interests of democratic free speech, being able to put up with opposition to your beliefs is the necessary virtue.

  40. Any supposed “relationship” with god is purely emotional. People pray especially when they are faced with a horrible expectation. They have already convinced themselves that they and god have a special relationship and he is unlikely to let them down. If it appears he has, they will claim he did it for a reason and they simply have to go through the grieving process to prove to god that they are strong and worthy and their faith is true. They have also been convinced that they will meet their loved one in another life where only deserving, blessed people like themslves go and where there will be no more punishments. The main point to belief in god is for comfort in a time of pain and confusion–comfort that their god will see them through and a new happier life awaits them when they’ll be reunited with their loved ones. There is no time for analysis of whether these ideas make sense, making sense is not the reason to believe in god. It’s comfort. Belief in god doesn’t have to make sense to deliver comfort. That’s why they come up with so many different ways to explain away contradictions. They know they may need this “court of last resort” when there are other crises in the future. They are afraid to question it or challenge it for fear it will be taken away from them. God belief imposes a terrible grip on people. They feel cornered.

  41. I find it often that god pushers usually ask “why not give it a chance ? “

    They want the atheist to accept the possibility of a god but seems impossible to them to accept the likelihood of no god. Does not feel like a fair trade. Neither can be proved . Although the natural process at least leaves evidence of how. The other is asking to believe in the supernatural. Like it is a viable alternative to reality and the natural world.

    Maybe there is an inherent need in humans to pray, but maybe it is not really prayer but the need to meditate. the need to analyze and reflect. The focus of this meditation has been subverted and shifted towards a supernatural being.

    In the end if you are praying for some action to happen without doing anything to make it happen, it is just mental masturbation.
    Maybe that is the real reason people do it in light of nothing prayed/payed for being granted…

  42. In reply to Cumbria #106
    As a Christian I acknowledge that a child’s upbringing is critical to its thinking in adult life, but the ‘sheep’ thing is a human trait which is not restricted to religiots
    You have ignored my questions on prayer, the theme of the article so I will ask you another question re your more recent post.
    Why do you think being a Christian has any bearing on links between a child’s upbringing and later years?
    How a child’s brain develops in response to stimulation from the environment has been researched and documented via years of scientific/sociological study.
    “As a christian,” means you follow the teachings of jesus and is therefore irrelevant to that discussion.
    I agree the sheep thing is not restricted to religion, it is a consequence of evolution.
    However I think you will find those of us that have made the decision to break away from religion have done so in spite of our sheep mentality not because of it.

    • In reply to #118 by Pinball1970:

      You have ignored my questions on prayer, the theme of the article…

      I can find only one question, and it was this: “Why do you think people flock to Lourdes every year? To improve their relationship with god or to request a miracle cure?” My answer, of course, is to find a miracle cure. So do they find miracle cures? I guess some claim to, but I doubt it somehow. I think the ‘miracle’ is the one of modern science which provides millions of people with ‘miracle’ cures every day; cures which, for millennia, were impossible.

      Why do you think being a Christian has any bearing on links between a child’s upbringing and later years?

      Christians are constantly being accused of ‘brainwashing’ their children with so-called mythical Bible stories, and that because I was also born into a Christian home I’m ‘hardwired’ into Christianity. I can’t argue with that; it’s probably true. So my point was that children who are born into atheistic families will, more often than not, grow up to be atheists, following their parents (their shepherds).

      • In reply to #119 by CumbriaSmithy:

        In reply to #118 by Pinball1970:
        Christians are constantly being accused of ‘brainwashing’ their children with so-called mythical Bible stories, and that because I was also born into a Christian home I’m ‘hardwired’ into Christianity. I can’t argue with that; it’s probably true. So my point was that children who are born into atheistic families will, more often than not, grow up to be atheists, following their parents (their shepherds).

        My family is a case in point. They grew up in an “atheist” family. That term is incorrect. They grew up in a wide ranging free thinking family where no topics was taboo for discussion. They spent there junior years in a private Anglican School and their high school years in a private Lutheran school. So they got both sides. They were given the opportunity to make up their own minds. They were given the information. They were given the space and permission. They became atheists in their own good time.

        Compare this with your upbringing. Your parents never gave you a chance to choose. So did I shepherd my children to atheism. Did I brainwash them like the religious. I would suggest that children be allowed to enjoy their childhood without sin or guilt. They should be encouraged to think for themselves. They should be given permission to become the adult they want to be. They should not be preyed upon by religious parents before their brains are capable of making informed consensual decisions.

        This would make the world a better place. Religion should be practiced by consenting adults in private.

      • In reply to #119 by CumbriaSmithy:

        In reply to #118 by Pinball1970:

        You have ignored my questions on prayer, the theme of the article…

        A further thought. My son did all the religious instruction classes. All students were invited by the teacher to bring in material that could be subject of discussion. They had watched and sat through videos and movies previously. He brought in The Life of Brian, a wonderful and thoughtful critique on religion, but the teacher refused to show it. Hundreds of questions and thoughts cascade out of this teachers decision. Was he correct in refusing to show Life of Brian during R.I. (You will note that my Avatar is Graham Chapman staring as Brian.)

        P.S. On the subject of questions and answers, I took up your challenge way below to answer the four questions you posed. I would invite your response to my answers.

        • In reply to #125 by David R Allen:

          P.S. On the subject of questions and answers, I took up your challenge way below to answer the four questions you posed. I would invite your response to my answers.

          I wish I had more time to spend here, but two of you responded with very long comments, so I really need to read through them again carefully before I try to respond.

          • In reply to #133 by CumbriaSmithy:

            In reply to #125 by David R Allen:

            P.S. On the subject of questions and answers, I took up your challenge way below to answer the four questions you posed. I would invite your response to my answers.

            To summarize your position. There is no evidence to support any of the propositions you believe in. That you choose to support those positions is entirely a matter for you. But it would do you credit to realize that there is no evidence, and admit to yourself, that I believe these propositions purely on faith. That you submit matters to this forum and attach arguments that have no evidentiary basis is to your discredit. I would invite and applaud a post here to the effect that my belief in god et al is purely a statement of personal faith, because that is a summary of all religious belief.

          • In reply to #135 by David R Allen:

            To summarize your position …

            To summarise my long-term position, I believe the evidence for God provided in the Christian Bible and especially in the well-documented accounts of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of the almighty God as manifested in both the Old Testament and the New.

            To summarise my short-term position, I am self-employed with a backlog of work and I have to spend both daytime and evenings trying to get through it.

          • In reply to #136 by CumbriaSmithy:

            I believe the evidence for God provided in the Christian Bible and especially in the well-documented accounts of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of the almighty God as ma…

            That’s a slogan, not an argument. It’s what people are taught to believe. In other cultures the message is different. In Pakistan, they say ” there is only one god and Mohammed is his prophet”. It’s not evidence that convinces billions to profess their faith in Christianity or Islam. It’s the historical legacy of the brute force and oppression which imposed the new religions on the population.

          • In reply to #139 by aldous:

            In reply to #136 by CumbriaSmithy:

            I believe the evidence for God provided in the Christian Bible and especially in the well-documented accounts of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of the almighty God as ma…

            That’s a slogan, not an argument. It’s what people are taught…

            It’s neither a slogan nor an argument, it’s a statement. I was taught Christianity in childhood, with nightly prayers and Sunday school, and I hated the even the expression my mother used time and time again: ‘the lorjeezus’. ‘Tell the lorjeezus about it’ she would say about my lost pen knife or my bloodied knee. I knew Jesus wouldn’t show me where my pen knife was or heal up my knee in some miraculous way. And, as expected, Jesus didn’t do anything.

            Many years later I looked a bit more closely and realised the Bible can only be the inspired word of the supernatural God, and everything changed. That was my ‘enlightenment’.

          • In reply to #147 by CumbriaSmithy:

            Many years later I looked a bit more closely and realised the Bible can only be the inspired word of the supernatural God
            That was my ‘enlightenment’.

            I offer another possibility towards “enlightenment ” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meher_Baba

            Please tell me why should I choose your source over this one specifically.
            Then please define Supernatural.

          • In reply to #148 by GFZ:

            I offer another possibility towards “enlightenment ” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meher_Baba

            Please tell me why should I choose your source over this one specifically. Then please define Supernatural.

            Enlightenment – The OED gives this meaning at the top of its list, and it’s this one that applies to my use of the word:
            The action of enlightening or the state of being enlightened: “Robbie looked to me for enlightenment.”
            You obviously prefer the cultural meaning but I doubt that’s its original meaning.

            Supernatural (also from OED) – (Of a manifestation or event) attributed to some force beyond scientific understanding or the laws of nature:
            a supernatural being.

          • In reply to #150 by CumbriaSmithy:

            In reply to #148 by GFZ:

            I was hoping for your own definition not what the dictionary says. I already know what it says.

            The action of enlightening or the state of being enlightened: “Robbie looked to me for enlightenment.”

            The meaning of this, is to shed light on something not understood. “After I learned how to send an e mail on my phone, I was enlightened”

            After I saw through a telescope that the moon is not made of cheese, I was enlightened. The word only applies to real subject matter not imaginary unprovable supernatural beings. What you are is not enlightened, it is auto-brainwashing.

            attributed to some force beyond scientific understanding or the laws of nature: a supernatural being.

            In other words , my words , a figment of the imagination. Much like Superman and Spiderman, Zeus, Tlaloc, Sheba , Lakshmi and many more…

            The laws of nature. These are events that replicate themselves all over the cosmos. However the supernatural has never been observed. Not once.

            You have not said anything about Meher Baba the last Avatar of god. I think you would actually enjoy reading some of his books. They offer a new view into the concept of god and eternity. His philosophy encompasses many religions’ teachings .

          • In reply to #153 by GFZ:

            The laws of nature. These are events that replicate themselves all over the cosmos. However the supernatural has never been observed. Not once.

            Did you really write this? Was it a deliberate error perhaps?

            That aside, please tell me where the laws of nature came from, since they prevail in the cosmos they must have come from somewhere if they actually follow themselves. Surely the laws of nature would have to be broken if they arrived totally spontaneously?

          • In reply to #155 by CumbriaSmithy:

            In reply to #153 by GFZ:
            The laws of nature. These are events that replicate themselves all over the cosmos. However the supernatural has never been observed. Not once.

            Did you really write this? Was it a deliberate error perhaps?

            Is that wrong? Maybe I can be clear, I was referring to Physical laws of Nature and Laws of Science ,certainly not theological laws of nature…

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physical_law

            That aside, please tell me where the laws of nature came from,

            See the Link , how and why these things manifest themselves as they do is not a mystery. The universe was not “created” or designed , and certainly not by nothing. It was already there , a compressed bubble ,there could be more like this, it exploded, the subsequent is the universe a domino effect. What was that bubble? Hypothesis , that a particle called boson was the catalyst for this reaction that initiated the explosion . It may or it may not be the boson. What is certain until now, is that there is no evidence or reason to think it was a god specially when he can’t answer a prayer to regrow a limb on an amputee, that has to be easier than making the universe no? .

            If people were sufficiently accepting of the hypothesis for god being the creator of everything , why bother even figuring out how he did it? And why can’t you ask god directly … and why does he not answer?

            “Humans are more inclined to recognize confirmations of their faith than they are to recognize disconfirmations.”Sam Harris

            It does not matter how much scientific proof is offered to you and people inclined to believe what you do. You will find a way to attach a god to the action. A supernatural unreasonable reason.

          • In reply to #159 by GFZ:

            … the supernatural has never been observed.

            This is the statement that surprised me. To hope to observe the supernatural using natural means is absurd, don’t you think?

          • In reply to #166 by CumbriaSmithy:

            In reply to #159 by GFZ:

            … the supernatural has never been observed.

            This is the statement that surprised me. To hope to observe the supernatural using natural means is absurd, don’t you think?

            For that to be remotely true you would have to prove there is a supernatural means. If you consider prayer a supernatural means, then I ask for evidence that it is not in your imagination since prayer happens only inside of your head. What other supernatural means is there other than what you do not understand through scientific discovery ?

            People believed fire was supernatural. Now we know it is a chemical reaction and oxygen is an accelerant. Fire in space behaves completely different because there is no oxygen. But it is still fire and not supernatural . Why? because it can be recreated.

            The effects of a supernatural imaginary being can’t be recreated because it is imaginary until it show itself. Ants would probably think we are supernatural beings for having magic powders that kill them by the millions. Do you think ants care one way or another if we are supernatural or not? I think they are only concerned with survival. So if they are not concerned with something supernatural , why should we be specially if it has not been observed to exert any power. If it exists somewhere in another dimension and can’t communicate with us or us with it , then it also nullifies its importance or existence because a supernatural being by all definitions would be able to show itself and correct me. Or strike me dead right now at this very moment….chirp chirp… nope nothing…

            Where is this being located ? In the depths of your self delusion. Do you realize you are asking me to believe in superman ? I kind of wish there was a superman, but there has not been one in the history of human kind ever.
            Only exceptional humans.

            Believing in the supernatural without proof is absurd…

          • In reply to #166 by CumbriaSmithy:

            In reply to #159 by GFZ:
            >

            … the supernatural has never been observed.

            This is the statement that surprised me. To hope to observe the supernatural using natural means is absurd, don’t you think?

            This means one of the following is true:

            1. We only have natural observation available therefore the supernatural has never been observed. If this is the case what reason do we have to believe that there is anything supernatural, let alone any specific supernatural thing?

            2. We have supernatural observation available to us. That requires some explanation. What is it? How do we access it? How do we distinguish it from delusion, hallucination, fantasy and mental affliction. And, just a heads-up, be prepared to explain how we can verify supernatural observations, such as how do we know Mohamed was a false prophet and how do we know snake handlers are nuckin’ futs?

            Please don’t embarrass yourself by claiming the supernatural can be known through revelation. Anyone can have revelations and the only way to confirm them is by comparing them to accepted revelation, which is circular bias.

          • In reply to #166 by CumbriaSmithy:

            In reply to #159 by GFZ:

            … the supernatural has never been observed.

            This is the statement that surprised me. To hope to observe the supernatural using natural means is absurd, don’t you think?

            For anything supernatural to exist, it must break the laws of physics. The laws of physics are universal, and there has never been a case of even the slightest breakdown of the laws of physics. “Natural Means” are being used every day to observe the laws of physics, and thus far, zero result for any deviation. Nice try, but no apple.

          • In reply to #171 by David R Allen:

            In reply to #166 by CumbriaSmithy:

            In reply to #159 by GFZ:

            … the supernatural has never been observed.

            This is the statement that surprised me. To hope to observe the supernatural using natural means is absurd, don’t you think?

            For anything supernatural to exist, it must break the laws of physics.

            I feel like raising my hand and saying me ! me! I know what he will say to this, god does not operate within our laws of physics he merely manipulates them. And that is how we know he is there !!!!

          • In reply to #171 by David R Allen:

            The laws of physics are universal, and there has never been a case of even the slightest breakdown of the laws of physics. “Natural Means” are being used every day to observe the laws of physics, and thus far, zero result for any deviation. Nice try, but no apple.

            … Unless the laws of physics have an Author who is not bound by or subject to them. How’s that, GFZ? Not quite what you predicted, but at least you’re beginning to catch on. No apple required, although an iPad would be nice.

          • In reply to #174 by CumbriaSmithy:

            >

            … Unless the laws of physics have an Author who is not bound by or subject to them. How’s that, GFZ? Not quite what you predicted, but at least you’re beginning to catch on. No apple required, although an iPad would be nice.

            I think at this point, you’d have to concede that in order to maintain your belief you have to invent completely inplausible and unsatisfactory explanations.

          • In reply to #174 by CumbriaSmithy:

            “… Unless the laws of physics have an Author who is not bound by or subject to them.”

            Wrong. As David R Allen wrote in #171:

            “The laws of physics are universal, and there has never been a case of even the slightest breakdown of the laws of physics. “Natural Means” are being used every day to observe the laws of physics, and thus far, zero result for any deviation.

            For a change in the natural world to occur that is not the result of natural phenomenon an unexplainable violation of the laws of thermodynamics must occur. Energy and/or mass must be inexplicably created and/or destroyed. Otherwise the phenomenon is entirely natural. (I’m including artificial/human-caused phenomena as natural.) These violations do not occur. To be fair we might say they happen so rarely or on so small a scale (even cumulatively) that we can’t detect them. In short, supernatural influences either don’t exist or they are so impotent as to be moot.

            (more detail: http://old.richarddawkins.net/discussions/646441-refuting-supernatural/comments?page=4#comment_949372 and http://old.richarddawkins.net/discussions/645812-god-and-logic-help-with-theist-conversations/comments?page=5#comment_942264 with a lot of overlap between the two)

          • In reply to #174 by CumbriaSmithy:

            … Unless the laws of physics have an Author who is not bound by or subject to them. How’s that, GFZ? Not quite what you predicted, but at least you’re beginning to catch on. No apple required, although an iPad would be nice.

            That is exactly what I said.The supernatural god is not bound by our universe’s laws of physics . That is exactly what I predicted you just added more semantics , it is the same exact thing.

            The key for any god to exist, he has to be invisible, he can’t be affected by gravitational pull, light, gas, supernova does not affect god. He is in another dimension. Which is why we can’t see him. (see strung theory)…

            We are in a sort of fish bowl and god is outside the fishbowl looking in. He can move the water but does not get wet. He is here but not here because he can’t be here since he is everywhere.

            god made us in his image so he looks like a man , looking inside a fishbowl where the universe is. And he loves us. He loves us so much that he kills us with his loving disasters. god sends asteroids every so often just to make us blink and look up at the the sky , his billboard, where he sends us coded messages that he is coming soon. But he is supposed to be everywhere so he is already here but he is not here because he said he was on his way here. But he is everywhere …. This is confusing me a bit….

            god can exert force and manipulate our laws of physics but is not affected by them. We should be afraid of god because of this. At any moment he can decide to smite us where we stand or judge us after death and send us to hell. Or cause a tsunami and earthquakes or have an asteroid hit the planet…. be afraid be very afraid…god loves you, it’s tough love, suck it up.

          • In reply to #178 by GFZ:

            . And he loves us. He loves us so much that he kills us with his loving disasters. god sends asteroids every so often just to make us blink and look up at the the sky , his billboard, where he sends us coded messages that he is coming soon. But he is supposed to be everywhere so he is already here but he is not here because he said he was on his way here. But he is everywhere …. This is confusing me a bit….

            Now that’s laugh out loud, funny! I must commit these words to memory just like the wasted notes languishing on the staff that I found really amusing on the other thread.

          • In reply to #187 by Nitya:

            In reply to #178 by GFZ:

            . And he loves us. He loves us so much that he kills us with his loving disasters. god sends asteroids every so often just to make us blink and look up at the the sky , his billboard, where he sends us coded messages that he is coming soon. But he is supposed to be everywhe…

            Yes, I was laughing as I wrote before getting utterly confused… now they can’t say god isn’t good for anything, he is good for instigating random cases of confusing laughter ;)

            I like the part of , god can move the water but does not get wet, this makes you imagine him wearing a full wetsuit and scuba gear lmao !

            Or some jello like substance that renders him waterproof, which begs the question, if god made water, why not be able to get wet ? How could you know it was water unless you tried it ?

          • Unless the laws of physics have an Author who is not bound by or subject to them.

            Got evidence?

          • In reply to #174 by CumbriaSmithy:

            Unless the laws of physics have an Author who is not bound by or subject to them.

            Of course, neither He nor Superman, nor hosts of gods and superheroes are ‘bound by or subject to’ the laws of physics. The existence of the God of Creationists is a factual impossibility. No such being could have evolved until billions of years after the origin of the universe, so could not have created it. Impossible as fact but perfectly possible as fiction.

          • In reply to #155 by CumbriaSmithy:
            >

            “Surely the laws of nature would have to be broken if they arrived totally spontaneously?”

            Um, why? Your conclusion is not supported. Is this supposed to be the teleological argument for the existence of god based on “fine tuning?” Regardless, your claim is not self-evident. If you’d like to stand by this leap of imagination please support it. Intellectually, making this claim is akin to picking your nose and sharing the results.

            ” … please tell me where the laws of nature came from… “

            They are a result of the formation of the universe. But even if the answer is “I don’t know,” or “nobody knows,” what conclusion can we come to? Should we assume that the source was mystical? Why? Let’s assume that X created the universe in a way that allowed or necessitated the natural laws that we observe. What objective reason do we have to assume that X is a god?

            ” …if they actually follow themselves.”

            You are expressing it as circular reasoning. Are you suggesting that the laws of nature are not consistent? Are you suggesting there is a mystic force which keeps the laws of nature intact? What reason do we have to believe that? The mistake you seem to be making is that the laws of nature are imposed on nature rather than a description of how nature works.

            If there’s a way to make the laws of nature not work please share it,

          • In reply to #155 by CumbriaSmithy:

            In reply to #153 by GFZ:
            Did you really write this? Was it a deliberate error perhaps?
            That aside, please tell me where the laws of nature came from, since they prevail in the cosmos they must have come from somewhere if they actually follow themselves. Surely the laws of nature would have to be broken if they arrived totally spontaneously?

            This is text book error thinking. It states, “I don’t understand where the laws of physics came from. Therefore nobody can understand where the laws of physics come from. Ergo, god did it.”

            You are committing the most common religious sin, projecting your religion onto someone else. What if I can understand where the laws of physics come from. I don’t need to choose god then. What if we never work out how the initial conditions of the universe settled on the laws this version of the universe exhibits, does that necessary conclude that lack of understanding invokes the necessity for a god to fill the gaps. You are arguing the “Olde” God of the Gaps. Because we now, and may never know something, never invokes the need for a god explanation. It just states the obvious, “We don’t know”. Nothing extra is necessary. Because you choose to take a further step is up to you, but, and this is the big BUT, you have no evidence, and it is not necessary.

          • In reply to #147 by CumbriaSmithy:

            Many years later I looked a bit more closely and realised the Bible can only be the inspired word of the supernatural God, and everything changed.

            If you hadn’t been brought up as a Christian it might not even have occurred to you to read the Bible. For 1.5 billion people it’s obvious that the Koran is the ‘word of the supernatural God’. There are lots of other holy books and lots of other gods. Besides, there are lots of things in the Bible which depict God as a savage and not the sort of being that a decent person would respect today.

          • In reply to #165 by aldous:

            If you hadn’t been brought up as a Christian it might not even have occurred to you to read the Bible. For 1.5 billion people it’s obvious that the Koran is the ‘word of the supernatural God’. There are lots of other holy books and lots of other gods.

            Agreed.

          • In reply to #167 by CumbriaSmithy:

            Agreed.

            If there are many different gods, this points to them being the creation of different cultures. Man made god in his image and not the other way round.

          • In reply to #136 by CumbriaSmithy:
            >

            To summarise my long-term position, I believe the evidence for God provided in the Christian Bible and especially in the well-documented accounts of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of the almighty God as manifested in both the Old Testament and the New…

            Would that be the testimony of Mark (whoever he was) who says Jesus suffered and says nothing at all but “Eli, Eli, lama sabacthani” and who was derided by everyone, including both ‘criminals’ crucified with him? Or that of Luke (whoever he was) who portrays a Jesus entirely in control (“Daughters of Jerusalem…”, “God forgive them…”, “”Into Thy hands…”) and who tells of a long conversation between Jesus and one of the ‘criminals’ about “this day shalt thou be with me in paradise…”?

            Or John, who says the execution took place on the day before Passover (the day of preparation), rather than the others who say it took place on the Passover?

            Or Mark, who says the women who found the tomb empty ran away and didn’t tell anyone? Or each of the gospels that have different women discovering an empty tomb, having different reactions and telling the disciples to meet Jesus in Jerusalem or Galilee?

            Don’t you read your beloved bible?

          • Here’s where ole Smitty will bow out. You have trumped the bullshit and the alternatives are:

            1. read it, digest it, and realize something’s wrong,
            2. Deny deny deny and make up some crazy rationalization for such clear bullshittery
            3. RUN AWAY!!!

            My money is on #3.

            In reply to #141 by Pabmusic:

            In reply to #136 by CumbriaSmithy:

            To summarise my long-term position, I believe the evidence for God provided in the Christian Bible and especially in the well-documented accounts of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of the almighty God as manifested in both the Old Testame…

          • In reply to #136 by CumbriaSmithy:

            In reply to #135 by David R Allen:

            To summarize your position …

            To summarise my long-term position, I believe the evidence for God provided in the Christian Bible and especially in the well-documented accounts of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of the almighty God as ma…

            You just quoted the bible. That’s it. The bible is not evidence of anything. Just for openers, read Pabmusic below who gives you an entree. You could only believe the bible is a reliable document through an act of blind faith because there is abundant material that points out the obvious contradictions, and even the less obvious one. As I said, faith is the only pebble you’ve got to stand on.

          • In reply to #136 by CumbriaSmithy:

            “I believe the evidence for God provided in the Christian Bible and especially in the well-documented accounts of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of the almighty God as manifested in both the Old Testament and the New.”

            Was “believe” the predicate of this sentence? As in, “I believe in the evidence for God…”? It seemed like “evidence” was the subject but that would make even less sense.

            If you trying to suggest that the bible provides evidence for the existence of God you’re doing it wrong. The bible is a claim, not evidence. The “well-documented accounts” are documented only in the new testament. Documents that refer to the story told in the new testament are not evidence that the stories are true. There are lots of documents that reference the Jesus stories and the beliefs of christians. But there are no documents that clearly reference a the person or story of Jesus at about that time in history. And the credibility of the old and new testaments is just plain bad.

  43. *In response cumbria#119

    I guess some claim to, but I doubt it somehow.(miracle cures)*

    Still not a straight answer but as close as I am going to get I think.

    My point is prayer does not work and more and more religious people are realizing it.

    Either there is no one listening, or when Jesus said prayers would be answered, he meant something other than actually answer.

    Cumbra 119#So my point was that children who are born into atheistic families will, more often than not, grow up to be atheists

    Most of the posters I have talked to on these sites were previously from an organized religion rather than brought up as atheist.

    I will make a guess that the same posters would want to present their children with the facts rather than just tell them are atheists from the off.

    I do agree that children when presented with the available facts regarding religions would be more likely to end up as an atheist adult.

    • In reply to #128 by Pinball1970:

      My point is prayer does not work and more and more religious people are realizing it.

      Please go back to my comment at #63, as I think I made my stance clear there. However, having been reminded of the events leading up to Christ’s crucifixion over the Easter weekend, I need to qualify what I said there, as Jesus, in his prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, prayed the following: “…he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. ‘Abba, Father,’ he said, ‘everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.’ “ So, even Jesus, knowing what was ahead, prayed to God that He would change his eternal plan. God’s answer was obviously ‘no’. So my point here is that Christians shouldn’t feel they can’t pray that God will ‘change His mind’.

      In Christian circles there are many accounts from people who ‘stick their necks out’ for the Christian gospel – such as those persecuted under hostile regimes, those involved in missionary work, or work to take the gospel into dangerous situations, etc. – of miraculous escapes from danger and death, stories of deliverance from starvation, etc., and those incredible events often coincide with the prayers of others thousands of miles away. So to claim prayer doesn’t work is a broad, unprovable assumption.

      • In reply to #132 by CumbriaSmithy:

        In reply to #128 by Pinball1970:

        and those incredible events often coincide with the prayers of others thousands of miles away. So to claim prayer doesn’t work is a broad, unprovable assumption.

        Double blind scientific long distance prayer experiments have been conducted and there is no evidence to support prayer. The rest of your linkings are examples of Skinner’s Pigeons.

      • In reply to #132 by CumbriaSmithy:

        So you’re saying prayer isn’t for making requests so that’s why petitioning doesn’t work (comment #63). But you’re also saying sometimes it does so it’s inconclusive as to whether petitioning prayers work?

        Keep in mind that favorable return rates on petitioning prayers is pretty consistent across all religions.

        • In reply to #154 by Akaei:

          Keep in mind that favorable return rates on petitioning…

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Efficacy_of_prayer

          Apart from whether prayer affects other beneficiaries, research has suggested that prayer has benefits on the person performing the prayer

          Prayer only helps the one praying, but it is useless for real things. As I said before. It serves as a meditation mechanism and you can lose yourself in there if you stay too long…
          This sums it up really good.

          In a debate/interview in Newsweek with Christian evangelical Rick Warren, atheist Sam Harris commented that most lay perceptions of the efficacy of prayer (personal impressions as opposed to empirical studies) were related to sampling error because “we know that humans have a terrible sense of probability.” That is, humans are more inclined to recognize confirmations of their faith than they are to recognize disconfirmations.
          Harris also criticized existing empirical studies for limiting themselves to prayers for relatively unmiraculous events, like recovery from heart surgery. He suggested a simple experiment to settle the issue:
          Get a billion Christians to pray for a single amputee. Get them to pray that God regrow that missing limb. This happens to salamanders every day, presumably without prayer; this is within the capacity of God. I find it interesting that people of faith only tend to pray for conditions that are self-limiting.

          People only pray for what is already a possibility not for what they know is impossible. Like for their dead loved ones to come back to life, if jesus did it why not their loved ones? Or for a sex change to happen. Or for tele-transportation . This means they have the ability to disbelieve un potential events. Thus only praying for things that have a possibility already of being true. Like Praying I will pass an exam. There are only two outcomes , pass and don’t pass. It is a game of Odds. Nothing to do with god’s involvement.

  44. In reply to Dave R Allen 12
    “So they got both sides. They were given the opportunity to make up their own minds. They were given the information. They were given the space and permission. They became atheists in their own good time.”
    Apologies DRA I should have read this first before posting to Cumbria.
    Good point well made

  45. In reply to Cumbria # 132 and those incredible events often coincide with the prayers of others thousands of miles away.

    A lot of things would have coincided with prayers 1000s of miles away.

    Gangsters getting away with murder, children dying in agony of TB, HIV, cancer and dysentery, drug dealers, people traffickers and pimps making money out of vulnerable peoples misery.

    Your claims are idiotic as well as contradictory.

    Stop hanging your hat on miracles and incredible events in one post and tell us prayers are not meant for that in another.

  46. Religious people pray because they are religious (i.e. not in touch with hard facts of reality and the principles that drive it.) Do not try to understand them, you would have to bend your mind, and it is not healthy. Some questions are better left to the problem bearers. They do not want to be helped, anyway!

  47. In reply to #141 by Pabmusic:

    Would that be the testimony of Mark (whoever he was) who says Jesus suffered and says nothing at all but “Eli, Eli, lama sabacthani” and who was derided by everyone, including both ‘criminals’ crucified with him? Or that of Luke (whoever he was) who portrays a Jesus entirely in control (“Daughters of Jerusalem…”, “God forgive them…”, “”Into Thy hands…”) and who tells of a long conversation between Jesus and one of the ‘criminals’ about “this day shalt thou be with me in paradise…”? … etc.

    You choose, Pabmusic, as the explanations are now available to all of us online. Until not long ago such apparent anomalies could only be resolved by buying and reading books by people who studied and detailed them down to the nth degree, but now they’re out in the open for all to read; you just need to look. Some of the explanations are actually quite simple, so I would suggest you and I go and do some homework to decide whether dismissing the Bible on the strength of these anomalies is the best thing to do. I would also suggest you use a modern English version of the Bible which is easier to understand and whose translators kept as close as possible to the earliest scriptures available.

    • In reply to #146 by CumbriaSmithy:

      . You choose, Pabmusic, as the explanations are now available to all of us online. Until not long ago such apparent anomalies could only be resolved by buying and reading books by people who studied and detailed them down to the nth degree, but now they’re out in the open for all to read; you just need to look. Some of the explanations are actually quite simple, so I would suggest you and I go and do some homework to decide whether dismissing the Bible on the strength of these anomalies is the best thing to do. I would also suggest you use a modern English version of the Bible which is easier to understand and whose translators kept as close as possible to the earliest scriptures available.

      Interpretations and interpreters! Give me a break! Everyone with whom you’re arguing is capable of coming to his or her own conclusions without resorting to an interpretation by someone else. Why do you hand over your own capacity for judgement to another person? You can read English. Use your own critical faculties and see if this makes sense to you. Other people can do this, why do you need to rely on the word of some authority? The opinion on which you place great store could well be some crackpot living in splendid isolation in a cave somewhere.

      .

    • In reply to #146 by CumbriaSmithy:

      ” …the explanations are now available to all of us online.”

      Whether it’s the last words of Jesus or how Judas died there is always a way to claim each version is true by adding information that is not presented in the original material. Did Judas give the 30 silver pieces back and hang himself in the field or did he buy the field with the 30 pieces and fall down and burst open? Apologists start with the assumption that neither version could possibly be wrong and construct a story that includes both. For instance Judas could have given the money back as payment for the field, gone to the field, hung himself and somehow fallen down and burst open spilling his guts. Contradiction averted? Technically yes. But the two versions also hint at opposing states of mind. I suppose we could say he was conflicted. But the individual references seem to be telling us opposing stories, one about a good man who regretted his betrayal and the other a villain who was punished for his act of evil. While I doubt Judas was a real person, perhaps both stories could be technically true. But that would make both stories meaningless. Was he repentant and suicidal or evil and punished? If somehow both were true then each story is less interesting.

      But more importantly, if both were true and we can only know the truth by constructing our own reconciliation then how do we know this isn’t the case for every bible story? If we can take a story and add our own information to reconcile contradictions, why can’t we add our own information at leisure? Perhaps if the bible says one thing and I feel another why can’t I reconcile the two in a way that I find satisfactory.

      The point I’m trying to make is that no one should do that. No one should make up their own excuses based on dis interpreted bible stories. Neither should anyone construct self-serving ad hoc rectally extracted fantasy excuses for conflicting bible stories. It’s heresy if nothing else. But also exposes the desperation of believers; the cognitive dissonance.

      With the best of these biblical contradictions we should all be able to admit there’s a problem. Maybe there’s a good explanation, maybe not. But we don’t know. Whether someone allows for reasonable doubt or clings to faith there is no excuse for representing purely fictional accounts as facts. If the bible is incomplete we have neither the authority nor wherewithal to fill in the gaps. That’s nothing but non-cannon fan fiction.

      If the bible is unclear, muddled, wavering or self-contradictory then just admit it. Integrity by far surpasses zealotry.

  48. When I think about people who pray to gods for things, I ask myself why would they be so special in gods eyes ? Why would a god listen to my prayer over the billions of others ?

    god is everywhere at the same time so it should be logistically possible to answer all the prayers. But do we want all the prayers answered?

    Assuming that people will pray for everything and anything such as the death or misery for others, one would not want those prayers answered for good reasons.
    There is a passage somewhere in there, a disclaimer of sorts just in case someone actually follows gods law to the letter, god will only answer your prayer if you come to him with an open heart. This way when the prayer is not answered, self blame makes up for the disappointment instead of realizing that god does not answer prayers. My heart was not open enough, I sinned too much, whatever the excuse it is never, there must not be a god….

    Example of accommodationist conviction, a way to look at things on the bright side of life:

    god please save the baby from the dingo, from rape, from torture. Don’t save me save the baby. Take me lord don’t take the baby. Why lord why did you take the baby?? . The baby is now in a better place in the arms of the lord. Thank you lord now the baby is an angel in heaven.

    Maybe the best approach to increase the odds in your favor, is to dare god. By saying “If there was a god, I would pass this exam” or “If there was a god, my rapist would drop dead” . Then god has no choice but to take the dare and make it happen.

    I actually tried this. Some injustice was perpetrated on me. I fought it in the real world with lawyers and trials to get them to pay for what they did. It would almost seem as if they had god on their side. The criminals have god on their side.

  49. Religious perople see god’s intervention where it suits them. A sad example. This Sunday popes John XXIII and John Paul II will be proclaimed saints. For John Paul II this comes after the miraculous healing, on the day of his beatification, of a woman with a brain aneurysm. Sadly, yesterday there has been a tragic accident in Italy. A big cross dedicated to John Paul II broke and fell on a teenager killing him, 3 days before the canonisation. Wouldn’t that be a sign of the displeasure of god for the decision to proclaim John Paul II saint? Of course in this case, the catholics rightly consider the accident a fatality with no supernatural explanations. But the woman healing without a clear explanation on the day of Wojtyla’s beatification? Too convenient not to be used as a sign of god’s will.

  50. In reply to Valla #163

    “Sadly, yesterday there has been a tragic accident in Italy. A big cross dedicated to John Paul II broke and fell on a teenager killing him, 3 days before the canonisation”

    Yes Christians are very selective when citing their ridiculous claims are they not?

    Humbug implied heroin addicts were cured by baptism and Cumbria claimed prayers were answered via “miraculous events” 1000s of miles away.

    Putting aside weeping, desperate, sick people praying for deliverance from illness, war, poverty, slavery and famine and not getting it, they ignore crosses falling on people,very sick people falling out of wheel chairs at Lourdes (2011- already severely ill woman fractured her shoulder)

    Typhoid outbreak in Lourdes affecting seventy pilgrims with some deaths (in the 1930s)

    Or 100 people worshiping in church crushed to death by falling masonry during an earthquake (Irpinia 1980- 3rd time I have cited sorry!)

    Or more recently in 1994 a tornado destroyed three churches in the southern states in the US killing 20 of the congregation (Goshen – Alabama)

    So either, god is a callous ,vicious, bastard with a sick sense of humour or he does not exist and this sort of thing happens according to natural laws.

    There are only those two options.

    (Three if you count the scenario where god is not able to intervene ie not a god)

    • In reply to #164 by Pinball1970:

      In reply to Valla #163

      “Sadly, yesterday there has been a tragic accident in Italy. A big cross dedicated to John Paul II broke and fell on a teenager killing him, 3 days before the canonisation”

      If that is not a sign from god I don’t know what is !!!

      I actually thought this was some kid of hoax or joke but I saw it in the cnn news … maybe it is a sign god does not favor catholics coz he is jewish ?

  51. I might also add that, apart from our natural means of observation we also have non-natural means of observation such as electron microscopes and various other devices that help us peep into the unknown nano world .

    You add Supernatural means of observation to the possibilities but it yields no result as far as observability goes.

    We must need supernatural sight…

    But is that not what a microscope and a telescope are? No they are super sight , not natural. But very handy in the search for the supernatural….so far no hits ;)

  52. Thank you Richard ,I haven’t read your books but I plan to start.ive seen alot of you on the net.i want to know about truth,rather than stories.blind faith is no way to be sure about anything.i refuse to follow the Christian heard for answers.i was brainwashed as a child into this false idealism.but then I grew up.i no longer believe in 2000 year old fairy tales.

  53. In reply to #179 by susanlatimer:

    Unless the laws of physics have an Author who is not bound by or subject to them.

    Got evidence?

    This is how it all started lol and his evidence is “you can’t see the evidence it exists outside of the known universe, but it’s there”.

    After reading what I wrote below, I think I was channeling George Carlin roflmao god rest his sole, not on his grave ;)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gPOfurmrjxo

  54. What I find impossible to comprehend is how any Jew can still believe in their Yahweh god considering what misery this ghastly individual has allowed them to suffer down the ages not to speak of blithely ignoring 6 million prayers during the Third Reich.

    • In reply to #183 by Graham1:

      What I find impossible to comprehend is how any Jew can still believe in their Yahweh god considering what misery this ghastly individual has allowed them to suffer down the ages not to speak of blithely ignoring 6 million prayers during the Third Reich.

      That is the million dollar question.

      If there is something to learn from religion , it is that it offers hope in a hopeless situation. It is the great pacifier when things go bad.
      I often play out a scene in the gas chambers and wonder how horrible it must have been to be killed in such a way. I wondered if there is time to even think of god and ask why ? I am convinced that by the time they were taken to the gas chambers, they had already given up on god. Those who survived either hate god or thank god for surviving.

      The jews also believe in the soul. They believe that after you die you join god for eternity. But first a man must pray 5 times a day and for a whole year to help the soul reach god. It has become a lucrative business to pray for those who don’t have time. It is a last attempt to offer people hope that after death you are with god and accept what is coming. It is like leaving it in the hands of god.

      Many many jews are atheists as a result.

      I think the best way to dissolve religion is to pull the rug from under it. When xtians start to quote from the old testament, I tell them that the old testament is a jewish book. They agree but still cling to it, so I say to them that all the stories in there are false and inaccurate and even the rabbis tell people not to take them literally , the xtians get very upset when they realize the foundations of their own faith are false.

      They should have ripped off some other book if they wanted to have legitimacy. If the jews don’t believe all that is in the old testament, the that makes anything that came after which relates to it , a complete farce .

      So the best approach might be to ask for evidence of what came before the new testament. Evidence for genesis.

      • Thank you GFZ for your response but I was simply thinking out loud rather than seeking an “answer”.

        In reply to #184 by GFZ:

        In reply to #183 by Graham1:

        What I find impossible to comprehend is how any Jew can still believe in their Yahweh god considering what misery this ghastly individual has allowed them to suffer down the ages not to speak of blithely ignoring 6 million prayers during the Third Reich.

        That is the m…

  55. In reply to GFZ181
    In reply to #164 by Pinball1970:
    In reply to Valla #163
    “Sadly, yesterday there has been a tragic accident in Italy. A big cross dedicated to John Paul II broke and fell on a teenager killing him, 3 days before the canonisation”
    If that is not a sign from god I don’t know what is !!!

    I cannot think of a better example of Jesus announcing his non existence than killing someone who had flocked to worship him with a falling crucifix.
    Apparently the unlucky man was posing for a photo, he was 21.
    This has happened before too, in 2004 a woman was also killed by a falling metal cross.
    (I do not want to go too far off topic but remember this pointless death was all for the canonization of pope John Paul 2nd who had spoken out about homosexuals, criticized condom use in Africa and was at best completely benign / ineffective regarding the abuses scandals during his papacy)
    How do Christians explain these tragedies and yet still claim that prayers are answered by a loving god of mercy?

    • In reply to #185 by Pinball1970:

      In reply to GFZ181

      Yes it is as if they discount that particular thing as a terrible accident, but a hurricane is an act of god… It used to be that everything bad that happened to you was an act of god. As children other kids would say “god is gonna punish you if you do that” when they did not approve of something. Then if by chance I tripped, “You see!! I told you god was going to punish you !!”

      So I would not be surprised if they chalked it up to god punishing him for something….when there is no other reason besides negligence by the cross hangers, and who ever got the idea to do that, god had a reason, he needed one more angel in heaven.

      They probably paid off the family. I guarantee they will mention him and put him on the list for sainthood. His miracle was protecting the cross from damage with his life. He died for the cross….Lets all pray for those faithful soles….

  56. In general People pray for the same reasons. I mean most of the people who pray ask for beneficial things like health , love , success and very few ask for the misery of others.

    If god needs followers and that is why they need to be coerced into being the followers or else, would it not be of great benefit to god to show himself or whatever it is and clear things up for the better of this planet alone?

    If there is such a being, would it not save lives and help the miserable and stop wars over ideology if it only showed up now?

    If I was to pray for anything it would for that. That it shows now when most needed to unify people. I hope the route towards shedding all gods will at least lead to one unified theory. One god for all and later no god at all.

  57. I am disappointed. I found this thread too late. Reading through it, I wish I could have posted when Humbug was posting. He/she seemed like a pleasant person to converse with and I would have really liked to ask him/her a question. Actually, she/he was being so reasonable that Humbug seemed to be stating an aetheist point of view… as Humbug seemed to get to the point where he/she was saying their position was:

    1. prayer was nothing but a process similar to meditation/self-inspection etc.

    2. god did not intervene in the world

    3. we have complete freedom of choice, suffering (and everything else, it appeared in Humbug’s opinion) is random in the sense that the world runs on scientific principles

    So, I wanted to ask Humbug what exactly his/her god did?… and how could anyone ever determine the difference between a universe in which his/her god existed and one in which the god did not exist.

    Humbug only seemed to be arguing that the principles of Christianity (or more narrowly, Catholicism) were a good set of moral ethical codes… and they were pretty weak arguments i.e. nothing more than asking people to go read obscure (at least to me) catholic treatise which, from what others posted… don’t seem to be much of a basis for a reasonable moral/ethical code anyway.

    It seemed like Humbug backed him/herself into an intellectual corner and then went away to wonder what the point of his/her belief in a God was?… oh well… something good seems to have come from this thread then :-)

  58.          *In reply to #190 Theo It seemed like Humbug backed him/herself into an intellectual corner and then went away to wonder what the point of his/her belief in a God was?...*
    

    Really? I think that is very optimistic.

    Once his wishy washy and contradictory explanations of what prayer is really meant for had fallen down, Humbug just stopped posting.

    Cumbria came out of his intellectual corner and triumphantly quoted the bible.

    The vast majority of the religious who come on these sort of sites do so to smugly tell us where we are going wrong.

    In their minds they are hopefully scoring brownie points from Jesus at the same time.

    These two did not really offer anything new and even same old arguments regarding, “atheists brainwashing their children too” and “god existing outside of space time,” made a brief appearance.

    We did not get, “atheism is a religion,” “what about Stalin?” or “evolution violates the second law of thermodynamics” but I think they exercised the usual MO.

    • In reply to #192 by Pinball1970:
      >

      These two did not really offer anything new and even same old arguments regarding, “atheists brainwashing their children too” and “god existing outside of space time,” made a brief appearance. … We did not get, “atheism is a religion,” “what about Stalin?” or “evolution violates the second law of thermodynamics” but I think they exercised the usual MO.

      … or they have better things to do, perhaps.

      • In reply to #193 by CumbriaSmithy:

        … or they have better things to do, perhaps.

        We know you have better things to do than constructing excuses for a poorly formed god concept. I’m glad that you understand that now.

    • *In reply to [#192] by Pinball1970

      Really? I think that is very optimistic.

      Yes. I was feeling optimistic when I wrote that post :-)

      I agree that your interpretation is more likely the correct one.

  59. In reply to #78 by Red Dog:

    If you really believe in Jehovah you believe He exists somewhere in (or outside of) time and space. That’s an empirical claim and it should be subject the same laws of evidence as a claim that there is a black hole at the center of our galaxy or that the universe started with a Big Bang.

    If one believes that the Creator exists outside of space, than it follows that they believe that the Creator does not exist “somewhere.” The term, “somewhere” is used in order to describe any one space. So when you say that “If you really believe… you believe He exists somewhere in (or outside of) time and space,” you seem to be contradicting yourself because the potential statement of, “somewhere outside of space” would be oxymoronic. One can’t believe that He is somewhere and believe that He is outside of space, its contradictory! It follows that the statement, “If you really believe… you believe He exists somewhere” is not necessarily true. Some believe that the Creator is beyond all space, and “some where’s,” for that matter. For the Creator of the concept of a space or a somewhere would not “exist somewhere” because He would have created all some where’s!

    Since the claim that a Creator would not exist somewhere because He would have created the very essence of all some where’s, would not be an empirical claim, the claim would not be subject to the “same laws of evidence as a claim that there is a black hole at the center of our galaxy or that the universe started with a Big Bang.”

    After all, you yourself have already acknowledged the possible philosophy that a Creator would be beyond space. I have merely attempted to show that if one believes in a Creator, they are not claiming that He exists “somewhere.”

    If there is a Creator, all we physically bound creatures would know is that the Creator is not bound by his creations (ANYTHING physical). A novelist is not bound by his story because he can always write a new one…

    • All you’ve proven is that words can get awfully tangled and garbled. Somewhere in this word salad there is a point. Discerning it would take a surgeon. I cannot even tell what side of what issue you are supporting or denying. Look god either IS or ISN’T. Bullshit aside, if this god IS, then proof would be easy. Proof that satisfies intellectual rigor. None of this “outside of space” nonsense.

      The only place he exists (HE— hahahahahah) is in folks imaginations.

      If I exist when I don’t exist and then say things that no one can hear then “somewhere” (over the rainbow) logically follows the existence of light that is not actually light but is, in fact, at wavelengths above our detectors abilities to detect. See, this intellectual acuity manifests as the talent of simply stringing run on thoughts and incoherent sentences together and then acting like there is some explicit truth in your rantings.

      In reply to #196 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

      In reply to #78 by Red Dog:

      If you really believe in Jehovah you believe He exists somewhere in (or outside of) time and space. That’s an empirical claim and it should be subject the same laws of evidence as a claim that there is a black hole at the center of our galaxy or that the universe started…

      • In reply to #198 by crookedshoes:

        Somewhere in this word salad there is a point.

        The “point” is this: If there existed a Creator that created the entire universe together with its every law, we would net be able to understand that Creator because of a lack of a frame of reference. Now, with that said, all we would be able to understand about the Creator would be His creations.

        The only place he exists (HE— hahahahahah) is in folks imaginations.

        A Creator would not be a “he” or a “she…” true. We just refer to the Creator that way because we have no other frame of reference.

        • In reply to #203 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

          In reply to #198 by crookedshoes:

          Somewhere in this word salad there is a point.

          The “point” is this: If there existed a Creator that created the entire universe together with its every law, we would net be able to understand that Creator because of a lack of a frame of reference. Now, with that s…

          And old but constant argument put up by the religious. AATROAE is saying, “Because I can’t understand it, you can’t possibly understand it either.” You are assuming that you are at the pinnacle of intellect. No one on the planet, is smarter than me, and could not possible understand the creator, because I can’t. This, when distilled down to it’s essence, is just God of the Gaps.

        • In reply to #203 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

          I suspect this happened to you as a child. I put this argument to Cumbriasmithy. I suspect you to are victim of child abuse.

          As the Jesuits boast, “Give me the boy till 8, and I will give you the man.”

          And this is actually scientifically true. If you repeat stuff often, like practice your golf swing, your brain lays down extra neural networks to reinforce this behaviour. That’s what repetitious practice does. So if you force feed a child religion, their brain is altered to enhance and retain this repetitive behaviour. As Hitchen’s say, this is child abuse.

          I am of the view that to indoctrinate a child from birth with religious dogma, before that child can make an informed consent, is child abuse. You commit the child to a potentially damaging mode of thinking, that causes psychological damage, and at its extreme, causes you to fly planes into buildings. Children under 18 should not be subject to religious indoctrination. After 18, if they choose of their own free will, to become religious, I will support their right to do so.

          For the above, you have my sympathy.

    • In reply to #196 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

      If there is a Creator, all we physically bound creatures would know is that the Creator is not bound by his creations (ANYTHING physical). A novelist is not bound by his story because he can always write a new one…

      What you essentially are saying is that “if there is a creator there is no way we humans could understand Her” I.e., your version of a creator is meaningless. If it can’t be understood then it’s pointless to try to analyze the idea and the idea can’t be used to add credence to other ideas. This is a classic example of pseudoscience, you can say a lot of words with high flown rhetoric but it’s meaningless.

      • In reply to #200 by Red Dog:

        What you essentially are saying is that “if there is a creator there is no way we humans could understand Her” I.e., your version of a creator is meaningless.

        Firstly, if it pleases you, I will refer to the Creator as “Her” and “She,” for as far as I see it, the Creator is neither a “He” or a “She;” the Creator created the concept of gender.

        “one that creates usually by bringing something new or original into being…” (Webster dictionary)

        If there was a Creator than that Creator would have brought “something new and original into being,” namely, the universe. Although, if there is a Creator, us humans would have no way of understanding Her, what we can understand is Her creations, for we live in Her creations. We can therefore find meaning in connecting to the Creator through connecting to Her creations. To give two examples of two creations: love and hate; we know they exist. Now, we also know that love leads to the “creation” of many positive things. Hate, we know, only leads to destruction. In this particular example the Creator would have placed before us two options: either create, like I did, via love and kindness, for hate can not create anything but destruction (as is seen), or destroy, as I didn’t, via hatred. We can therefore connect to the Creator, through Her creations of love and care; the root of all human creations that don’t end up destroying something else. Just as a side note: if there was no possibility for hatred or evil, would love really be called “love?” It would just be a law, like gravity. Our minds work with comparing and contrasting.

        • In reply to #202 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

          In reply to #200 by Red Dog:
          Firstly, if it pleases you, I will refer to the Creator as “Her” and “She,” for as far as I see it, the Creator is neither a “He” or a “She;” the Creator created the concept of gender.

          And you know this how ?

          something new and original into being,” namely, the universe.

          The Universe is not new nor original . There could be others and other big bangs waiting to happen elsewhere. The universe creates and destroys itself over and over until there is no more matter close to each other to collide and destroy and create as a result. This Universe is expanding and eventually there will not be stars to see from the distance. That is the theory .
          There is an end to this beginning based on the science.

          Although, if there is a Creator, us humans would have no way of understanding Her, what we can understand is Her creations, for we live in Her creations

          So she is here but not here and understands us but we don’t understand her because she lives outside of this creation.But because she made us humans we are too stupid to understand creator language so we are left to decipher what she means by looking at her creations… that makes total sense no? …for a children’s fairytale …maybe

          Creator would have placed before us two options: either create, like I did, via love and kindness,, for hate can not create anything but destruction

          Yes I am sure that must have been forced on us by the creator because those two things are simply too complex to figure out for any human without common sense. So maybe what the creator should have given is common sense…

          Our minds work with comparing and contrasting.

          ? You basically just made up your own god based on your own feeling and desires and level of comprehension of the universe. This could be any god anywhere.

          You have not explained how the creator created. You just described feelings and nonsense . I want to know how this he/she creator made the Universe. Or at least your idea of how.

          I am not sure why people don’t just go read scientific books about the astrophysics. There are some books that are not hard to understand and are not filled with calculations. It is very fulfilling and satisfying to get these answers about how things are made and how the Universe works.

          The only reason why people come up with these ridiculous notions is from complete voluntary ignorance.

        • In reply to #202 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

          In reply to #200 by Red Dog:
          Hate, we know, only leads to destruction. In this particular example the Creator would have placed before us two options: either create, like I did, via love and kindness, for hate can not create anything but destruction (as is seen), or destroy, as I didn’t, via hatred.

          Oooohhh the hypocrisy. This from the person who denied knowledge of Jewish settlements on Palestinian territory. Invasion by stealth. And example of “Love” or “Hate”.

          • In reply to #205 by David R Allen:

            Oooohhh the hypocrisy. This from the person who denied knowledge of Jewish settlements on Palestinian territory. Invasion by stealth. And example of “Love” or “Hate”.

            Clarification: When I said “what settlements?” it was an honest question. I wasn’t sure if you were referring to peace talks/settlements or us on their land type settlements. It was not a sarcastic question.

          • In reply to #223 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

            In reply to #205 by David R Allen:

            Oooohhh the hypocrisy. This from the person who denied knowledge of Jewish settlements on Palestinian territory. Invasion by stealth. And example of “Love” or “Hate”.

            Clarification: When I said “what settlements?” it was an honest question. I wasn’t sure if you w…

            Any settlement built on pre 1967 boundaries is an occupation by war.

            In the future, if some mutually agreeable boundaries are drawn up, that are fair to both sides, then settle your heart out. Until then, the illegal settlements are the major cause of dissatisfaction with Israel around the whole world, except the right wing of America who want to take the escalator to heaven after provoking the end of days war out of Jerusalem.

        • In reply to #202 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

          . . Although, if there is a Creator, us humans would have no way of understanding Her,

          Why would that be the case? This is always presented in such a way that it goes without saying. But why would it?

          It all looks like smoke and mirrors to one not indoctrinated into the faith.

          • In reply to #208 by Nitya:

            In reply to #202 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

            Why would that be the case? This is always presented in such a way that it goes without saying. But why would it?

            Thanks for pointing this out. It seems to be that everyone who comes here and describes their version of the god, that it always is untouchable, unseeable , outside of his creation, not involved in mundane tasks such as answering prayers….but he/she is there … just take my word for it ;)

            It is understandable why people were gullible say back in the day of the aztecs, and they had a god for everything. And when by chance there was rain after the sacrifice to the god of rain was made, people believed in that god even more.

            Now, there is no excuse for such ignorance ….

          • In reply to #209 by GFZ:

            . Now, there is no excuse for such ignorance ….

            Precisely! As an outsider looking in, there would be no reason at all for a supernatural entity to remain so coy about his/her/its identity.

          • In reply to #210 by Nitya:

            In reply to #209 by GFZ:

            . Now, there is no excuse for such ignorance ….

            there would be no reason at all for a supernatural entity to remain so coy about his/her/its identity.

            Unless we are are talking about something like StarTrek and the prime directive, not to interfere with the less advanced cultures….

            In that case If I was the creator, I would leave them to sort it out themselves, knowing that they could be extinct at any moment, why bother with such a little world? I would be larger than the universe . Why would I care about one in a trillion planets I have seeded ?

            It is easier to accept the hypothesis of an absent god than the one that exists and made us coz we are more special, than the other trillion planets with life such as ours.

          • In reply to #214 by GFZ:

            The prime directive concept doesn’t apply to a god that wants you to worship it. Although the concept of a god that wants you to believe in it but goes out of it’s way to be completely deniable does support the idea of a She/Her god.

          • In reply to #218 by AllusiveAtheist:

            In reply to #214 by GFZ:

            The prime directive concept doesn’t apply to a god that wants you to worship it.

            I think it was established for the purpose of not appearing as gods to less advanced cultures and creating myths etc. as many episodes demonstrate happens when people don’t understand technology.

            This can be seen during the Conquista , Hernan Cortez was a white guy on a horse and with armor . He was labeled as a god initially by these people and that is one reason thy joined him in defeating the empire besides the infighting which sealed their fate.

            Although the concept of a god that wants you to believe in it but goes out of it’s way to be completely deniable does support the idea of a She/Her god.

            more towards the she part in my opinion, she devil

            There is no sense or reason to believe in something that has not communicated ever but in the minds of imaginative people. Certainly we can come up with better gods than those so why keep them ?

            There is nothing about their god description that isn’t already there without god. Trying to fit in a god that does not exist because no one has ever seen it, in your daily life is so absurd and more so to try to convince others…

            The answer is always ,”you just have yo believe”. As if that does not lead to disappointment …

            assuming that there is a god without proof is ass-inine

          • In reply to #208 by Nitya:

            Why would that be the case? This is always presented in such a way that it goes without saying. But why would it?

            I’ve seen it put like this: If I completely understood the Creator I would be the Creator. Now, with that being said, the Creator has revealed some of His ways, in the Torah. If the Creator gave us the power to be just as powerful as Him, one could imagine the chaos.

        • In reply to #202 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

          ‘ “one that creates usually by bringing something new or original into being…” (Webster dictionary)’

          Webster is wrong. In human experience things are ONLY created by altering the structure and/or combination of already existent materials. We can imagine that the creation of spacetime, matter and energy at the beginning of the universe was from nothing rather than a re-ordering of pre-existant materials… but it is speculative at best.

          “We can therefore find meaning in connecting to the Creator through connecting to Her creations.”

          We make our own meaning when we interact with our environment. No mystical creator is required.

          “To give two examples of two creations: love and hate; we know they exist. “

          The concepts of love and hate clearly exist. But we do not know that love and hate exist as anything other than human interpretation of emotional states.

          “Now, we also know that love leads to the “creation” of many positive things.”

          You seem to be expressing a potential as a necessity. Love does not necessarily lead to creation.

          “Hate, we know, only leads to destruction. “

          No. We don’t know that. Hate does not necessarily lead to destruction.

          “In this particular example the Creator would have placed before us two options: either create, like I did, via love and kindness, for hate can not create anything but destruction (as is seen), or destroy, as I didn’t, via hatred.”

          This is rich. If destruction can only come from hatred then the god of the bible is clearly petty and hateful. Are there no bible stories in which the creator also destroyed or allowed destruction? And what are we to make of all these hateful natural disasters? What of that car accident, borne of hate? The beaver dam, borne of love? Hydrogen atoms undergoing fusion in the heart of the Sun, is that Love/creation of helium or hate/destruction of hydrogen? This whole concept is wishful thinking. It’s hit and miss at best.

          “We can therefore connect to the Creator, through Her creations of love and care; the root of all human creations that don’t end up destroying something else.”

          Hogwash. This is wishful thinking and special case pleading. It’s only if the human creation don’t end up destroying something else that they connect us to the creator? First of all you’re not substantiating that. Apparently that’s just the way you want it to be. Second, most human creations start with the destruction of something else. Most human creations are themselves destroyed eventually and contribute to some destruction along the way. This whole concept is smiley-faced fairytale bias.

          “Just as a side note: if there was no possibility for hatred or evil, would love really be called “love?” It would just be a law, like gravity.”

          Wha…? A law, really? I think we can dismiss that assessment pending some combination of explanation and support. I agree that contrast helps us better understand concepts. But love and hate are independent emotions which can be felt separately, together or be both absent. In a subjective creature which is capable of developing feelings of admiration and devotion it is even more likely that such a creature would be capable of developing feelings of loathing and contempt. It’s even possible they could develop a salvation response to the ring of a bell. Love and hate only seem like opposite ends of a single scale. And it is poetic to think of them as such. But that’s all it is.

          “Our minds work with comparing and contrasting.”

          So which is it? Are love and hate products of our minds or are they things that exist independent of minds? It seems like your equivocating.

          • In reply to #212 by AllusiveAtheist:

            This is rich. If destruction can only come from hatred then the god of the bible is clearly petty and hateful. Are there no bible stories in which the creator also destroyed or allowed destruction?

            Sometimes destruction is a necessary step in creation. True destruction is only “allowed” by the Creator, which is a separate discussion.

          • In reply to #225 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

            “True destruction is only “allowed” by the Creator, which is a separate discussion.”

            #202 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:
            Now, we also know that love leads to the “creation” of many positive things. Hate, we know, only leads to destruction.

            You are making a poor case for a loving, not hating, god.

          • In reply to #225 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

            In reply to #212 by AllusiveAtheist:

            This is rich. If destruction can only come from hatred then the god of the bible is clearly petty and hateful. Are there no bible stories in which the creator also destroyed or allowed destruction?
            Sometimes destruction is a necessary step in creation. True des…

            Life of Brian. Only the true Messiah denies his divinity.

          • In reply to #238 by David R Allen:

            Life of Brian. Only the true Messiah denies his divinity.

            I certainly deny mine.

            ~Follow the gourd!

          • In reply to #212 by AllusiveAtheist:

            Wha…? A law, really? I think we can dismiss that assessment pending some combination of explanation and support.

            I mean, there would be no meaning to “love” if it was the default position.

          • In reply to #226 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

            I mean, there would be no meaning to “love” if it was the default position.

            If you are trying to justify the existence of hate/destruction/natural disasters/evil this doesn’t really do it. If love were the default position it would still be love, we would just take it for granted. Taking love for granted in a world without hate/destruction… would be infinitely better than appreciating love in a world with hate/destruction… if it were possible to choose. But as we are subjective social resource-dependent creatures that evolved from non-verbal, non-abstract-thinking creatures, mental states of love and hate are not surprising.

            In reply to #228 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

            If one “loves” something, they will want to “create” more of it. But, true, one may be able to love something and not do anything about it.

            Or in order to create more of what one loves one might be callous to the destruction that is caused in pursuit of that which is loved. Perhaps someone could love money and be callous to the environment. I don’t mean to claim that you are completely wrong, it’s a noteworthy point, but it’s far from universal, perhaps not even general.

            In reply to #229 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

            When one hates something, naturally, they wish to destroy it. When something is created out of hate, it is only created for the purpose of destruction. Can you give an example that says otherwise? But… true, one can hate and not do anything about it, ie, destroy what they hate.

            I’m embarrassed to say that the first thing that came to mind was how Jim Crow laws created additional drinking fountains and restrooms. Thanks to the nazi’s V2 weapon program we got a boost on our way to the Moon. Hatred can often lead to productive and creative competition. Love and hate do tend to create intentions of nurturing and destruction but there are far too many variables to speak in anything like absolutes. And whatever intentions these feelings bring about, whatever happens, something else will happen after that.

            In reply to #230 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

            If there is a Creator, It is not human, by definition. True, humans work that way, but the Uncaused Cause does not, by definition. This is what I was saying is impossible to fully comprehend due to the confines of our physical world.

            I mostly agree. If the cause of the universe (spacetime, matter and energy) is impossible to comprehend there is no reason why we should assume cause and effect were necessary for the universe to begin. Nor is there any reason to assume, if there was a cause, that that causer had any intention or awareness, let alone love. The beginning of the universe may have been the reformation of something(s) that was not the universe into the universe or it may have come into being without preexisting materials. Either way there is no reason to assume a consciousness was required.

            In reply to #231 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

            In reply to #212 by AllusiveAtheist:

            It’s only if the human creation don’t end up destroying something else that they connect us to the creator?

            .

            Yes, that would make sense because creation that leads to destruction is ultimately just a step in the direction of destruction.

            But everything goes through a tug of war of creation and destruction. At any given point a specific outcome may be deemed as creative only to be reevaluated two seconds later. For instance, the cross on display as part of the JPII canonization that broke and killed a man. Was it a tiding of love or a weapon of destruction? It was both. There may have been an intention but it was short lived. Can we say the purpose or meaning of the cross was to kill a man? We can say whatever we want because meaning and purpose are strictly in the eye of the beholder.

            In reply to #233 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

            Meaning dependent on an environment is shaky and can easily be destroyed with the destruction of that environment. It is also random: depending on what environment one happens to find themselves in, randomly, is how they’ll decide on what’s meaningful. In essence, their just subscribing to whatever “meaning” their current environment requires of them.

            If you want to find meaning in ever-changing randomness than I guess we’ll just have different definitions of the word.

            If you are looking for an objective timeless meaning you can probably find it. Millions do everyday. The only problem is these “meanings” are concocted interpretations, just like my shaky random definition of meaning. The only difference is the intractability of the belief in that meaning. Without a subjective observer (including participants) there can be no meaning, no purpose. What about an objective observer, you might wonder? To an objective observer any phenomenon is meaningless. To find meaning in a phenomenon we must apply some valuation to it.

            Back to the point, when we think of finding meaning in something we are finding it in ourselves, not in the thing we find meaningful. It is how it intersects and overlaps with what we value. We don’t find meaning as much as give it. And just as whatever meaning your parents found in you differs from the meaning you find in yourself, the meaning a supposed sentient creator might find in you may differ from the meaning you find in yourself, your life or life in general. And just as your parents’ interpretation is no more valuable than yours, neither is there a reason to assume a supposed sentient creator’s meaning for you is any more valuable. It is, however, in the interest of religious leaders that you believe their gods’ meaning for you is more valuable than your meaning for you.

          • In reply to #212 by AllusiveAtheist:

            You seem to be expressing a potential as a necessity. Love does not necessarily lead to creation.

            If one “loves” something, they will want to “create” more of it. But, true, one may be able to love something and not do anything about it.

          • In reply to #212 by AllusiveAtheist:

            No. We don’t know that. Hate does not necessarily lead to destruction.

            When one hates something, naturally, they wish to destroy it. When something is created out of hate, it is only created for the purpose of destruction. Can you give an example that says otherwise? But… true, one can hate and not do anything about it, ie, destroy what they hate.

          • In reply to #212 by AllusiveAtheist:

            Webster is wrong. In human experience things are ONLY created by altering the structure and/or combination of already existent materials.

            If there is a Creator, It is not human, by definition. True, humans work that way, but the Uncaused Cause does not, by definition. This is what I was saying is impossible to fully comprehend due to the confines of our physical world.

          • the Uncaused Cause

            HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAh

            Here we go again with nonsense.

            “the soundless sound”
            “The dark light”
            “The smooth abrasive”
            The colorless rainbow
            The tall midget
            The smart idiot….

            Look at me, I am drunk AND sober! My car is painted and unpainted. My wife is nice while she’s mean. My kids are younger than me and older than me.

            Look, words have meaning. As someone who managed to use Webster to bolster a previous (bullshit) point, of all people, you should not throw around idioms that are contradictory to the point of absurdity.

            Can you be serious and silly for just a moment and tell me the truth while you lie? I’d really like to get to the bottom of this, so I am going to start ascending right now. If we work together while we are apart, then our accomplishment should be a failure. So listen while I do not talk and look up and down at the same time and raise your voice and whisper that ……..

            Your statement is………………………. MEANINGLESS BULLSHIT.

            In reply to #230 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

            In reply to #212 by AllusiveAtheist:

            Webster is wrong. In human experience things are ONLY created by altering the structure and/or combination of already existent materials.

            If there is a Creator, It is not human, by definition. True, humans work that way, but the Uncaused Cause does not, by defi…

          • In reply to #212 by AllusiveAtheist:

            It’s only if the human creation don’t end up destroying something else that they connect us to the creator?

            Yes, that would make sense because creation that leads to destruction is ultimately just a step in the direction of destruction.

          • In reply to #212 by AllusiveAtheist:

            So which is it? Are love and hate products of our minds or are they things that exist independent of minds? It seems like your equivocating.

            Independent. But as I said before, there would be no meaning to “love” if it was the default position. It would just be instinctive and meaningless.

          • In reply to #212 by AllusiveAtheist:

            We make our own meaning when we interact with our environment. No mystical creator is required.

            Meaning dependent on an environment is shaky and can easily be destroyed with the destruction of that environment. It is also random: depending on what environment one happens to find themselves in, randomly, is how they’ll decide on what’s meaningful. In essence, their just subscribing to whatever “meaning” their current environment requires of them.

            If you want to find meaning in ever-changing randomness than I guess we’ll just have different definitions of the word.

  60.    *In reply to Cumbriasmithy #193... or they have better things to do, perhaps.*
    

    If you hadn’t posted over twenty times on this story then perhaps I would believe you (yes I counted, you see how real, documented evidence and data works Cumbria?)

    If you have anything further to offer on prayer then I am all eyes.

    In short prayers do not work because there is no one listening and your god is just one of many made up tribal myths of the past.

    Claims made by the religious regarding: revelation; conversions; celestial conversation; miracle cures; apparitions; via prayer, are therefore false.

    The alternative to your position right now is guaranteed eternal death so it is no wonder you are clinging on to your god and bible right now.

    However, the enlightenment you spoke in regard to the bible, will be nothing compared to the freedom you will experience once you have ditched it (religion)

    Not because the ending is any better, but because it is true and deep down for the first time you will know this.

    I will give you a warning though, if you were the sort of Christian I was (praying a lot, going to mass, communion, confession, studying the bible ) you will need a hobby with all that extra time you will have on your hands.

  61. Why do you think people who believe in a god use logical reasoning? I’m sure it bothers some believers, but most don’t engage their brains when it comes to matters of faith, you’re not encouraged to ask such questions, it shows a lack of faith. Well, unless their god is called Janus, of course.

  62. @Humbug: “However, the more that I’ve studied Catholic teaching (as opposed to thinking I already know what it teaches), the more that I’ve found I agree with its perspective on life.”

    And if you found it didn’t, in some parts, accord with your perspective what would you do? Look for another faith that did, or reconsider your point of view? Have you studied all other faiths to see if they fit better with your perspective. Personally, I find I haven’t the time to study every religion (most claim they are simple, if only you’d take the time to understanding them), what with a life to live, so I have to think things through myself (try critical thinking – knocking down your own argument – there’s invariably an exception).

  63. You may think that you are walking forever in a straight line only to find out that mentally you have been on a dry planet,and the distance traveled has no footprints remaining upon return to starting point.A long time ago humans made the universe,we are the gods.

  64. In reply to #243 by crookedshoes:

    “the Uncaused Cause…”
    “…is………………………. MEANINGLESS BULLSHIT.”

    Not really. If we assume everything has a cause it leads to an infinite regression. If instead at some point in the causal chain we go back to something that did not have a cause (a non-infinte regression) that something would be a cause for successive things but itself be uncaused. Both concepts of uncaused cause and infinite regression are counter intuitive. They seem like the only two options. They both seem like bullshit (counter-intuitive). Actually they both seem impossible. And neither seems subject to any review beyond speculation. Any conclusion is mere assumption. There may even be multiple uncaused causes that led to the beginning of the big bang. And there is no reason to jump to the conclusion that if there were an uncaused cause(s) it must be sentient and/or intentional. Nor can we play with probabilities because we have no way to gauge the scope of possibilities, frequency of contributing factors (if that even makes sense) or strength of influence of any contributing factor (again, if that even makes sense.)

    • I just like rubbing the good folks a little and seeing if I can jar them a bit.

      I like your post and am aware of particles jumping in and out of existence and Krauss’ ideas of “something from nothing” and the like. You point is well made.

      BUT… sometimes I just cannot resist and the tenor of all the other posts from this “assumptions” fellah (or lady) had me needing to push a button or two. You gotta give it to me, the paragraph with all the contradictions was (I hope) pretty amusing????

      In reply to #244 by AllusiveAtheist:

      In reply to #243 by crookedshoes:

      “the Uncaused Cause…”
      “…is………………………. MEANINGLESS BULLSHIT.”

      Not really. If we assume everything has a cause it leads to an infinite regression. If instead at some point in the causal chain we go back to something that did not have a cause (…

      • In reply to #246 by crookedshoes:

        You gotta give it to me, the paragraph with all the contradictions was (I hope) pretty amusing????

        Very amusing indeed.

        I like your post

        Well, if you liked AllusiveAtheist’s post then you ought not laugh at my idea of an Uncaused Cause, for I couldn’t have explained why physics must fall apart some time back better than AllusiveAtheist. Making fun of my point even though you liked Allusive’s explanation of my point points to bias.

        • In reply to #247 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

          In reply to #246 by crookedshoes:

          You gotta give it to me, the paragraph with all the contradictions was (I hope) pretty amusing????

          Hilariously accurate! Bravo crookedshoes.

          you ought not laugh at my idea of an Uncaused Cause

          You’ve posted sixteen consecutive off-topic contributions to this thread already, reliably neglecting to address the question of intercessionary prayer as posed by naskew’s OP.

          What if the real name of your Uncaused Cause was Bruce, or Thor? Do you think your prayers attract his attention, given H-s sensitivity? Do prayers work best in Palestine or Lourdes? Are only Catholics good enough to become saints? Who impregnated Yahweh’s mum and was hE a creator-god who also routinely ignored prayers? In other words is it familial?

        • In reply to #247 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

          I think it was more along the lines of testing you. Given the poetry of some of your earlier statements he may have assumed you were just throwing out bullet point phrases from an Apologetics for Everyone seminar.

          “…why physics must fall apart…”

          There’s no good lexicon for non-mystical pre-big bang conditions. I would agree that prior to the big bang the physical (as we understand it) probably didn’t exist, therefore no physics. But this phrase “…why physics must fall apart…” unnerves me a bit. I’m probably just gunshy of theists trying to smuggle mystical concepts where none are necessary or even practical.

      • In reply to #246 by crookedshoes:

        You gotta give it to me, the paragraph with all the contradictions was (I hope) pretty amusing????

        Yea, pretty much. You just let yourself get a little too wound up. It happens to me sometimes. It keeps the moderators busy deleting my more condescending comments.

  65. In reply to Theo # 215
    Yes. I was feeling optimistic when I wrote that post :-)
    I agree that your interpretation is more likely the correct one.

    It was more a challenge to Cumbria and humbug than a slant on your optimism Theo.
    I will keep my eye out for them in other threads.
    I will be looking for some honesty on their part so it is me that is being optimistic this time!
    Something like, “We have no sensible reason for believing in prayer (or god) but we are sticking with it because we just are. That is what we do.”

  66. I used to pray for Myanmar – that the military junta would cease the repression of its people, and for religious freedom. Nowadays I don’t need to do that so I pray for Richard Dawkins instead.

    • Let me guess, you pray that Richard does not go bald. Wait. He’s NOT bald!!! Prayer works!!!!

      And, as for bias, yeah, it’s ME that’s biased. Sure.

      @ Assumption….

      Your use of the “Uncaused cause” is miles and miles away from what Allusive was referencing. Funny how nuances of language can make a difference. See, Allusive was actually saying things that make sense and your use of the uncaused cause is unadulterated silliness. Words in a sequence do not make truths. Proof does.

      So, the OP asks a specific question. Let’s fantasize for a moment. There are 7 billion of us. If we all prayed that there be ZERO natural disasters for one year, could you guarantee that it would be true? A month? a week? a day? an hour?

      If I could control the natural disasters, I could cease them for any specified amount of time I’d like. So, which is it? Does the god thing ignore prayer or have no control?

      Also, I had read all of your prior posts and by the time I got to the one we a re discussing, my brain storage area that holds gibberish had begun to overflow.

      In reply to #251 by CumbriaSmithy:

      I used to pray for Myanmar – that the military junta would cease the repression of its people, and for religious freedom. Nowadays I don’t need to do that so I pray for Richard Dawkins instead.

      • In reply to #252 by crookedshoes:

        Let me guess, you pray that Richard does not go bald.

        No reason to do that. I pray that God will change his mind for him as he approaches old age. Hopefully there’s still time for a miracle!

        • In reply to #253 by CumbriaSmithy:

          I pray that God will change his mind for him as he approaches old age. Hopefully there’s still time for a miracle!

          Save it. Can’t quote RD, but

          C Hitchens, after his diagnosis, made his view per deathbed conversion clear ~ if rumour has it that I did, don’t believe it. Also, if I converted, it would be under the circumstance of severe pain, drugs, and/or not being lucid.

        • In reply to #253 by CumbriaSmithy:

          In reply to #252 by crookedshoes:

          Let me guess, you pray that Richard does not go bald.

          No reason to do that. I pray that God will change his mind for him as he approaches old age. Hopefully there’s still time for a miracle!

          The Force is very strong in this one Obi Wan.

        • In reply to #253 by CumbriaSmithy:
          “…I pray that God will change his mind for him…”

          Oh good. So you don’t believe in freewill? That’s promising. But you like the idea of a divine puppet master…. that’s still worrisome.

    • In reply to #251 by CumbriaSmithy:

      I used to pray for Myanmar – that the military junta would cease the repression of its people, and for religious freedom. Nowadays I don’t need to do that so I pray for Richard Dawkins instead.

      Richard Dawkins is not alone in his thinking. Why not pray for us all? I suspect you select RD for special consideration because he is influential and by presenting rational arguments accessible to all, is able to cause people to question their religious views. This must be very confronting for someone like you.

      Can you imagine the thoughts of the last person left believing in say, the Greek gods/goddesses? He/she must have felt pretty silly. Perhaps this is your deep-seated fear.

    • In reply to #251 by CumbriaSmithy:

      I used to pray for Myanmar – that the military junta would cease the repression of its people, and for religious freedom. Nowadays I don’t need to do that so I pray for Richard Dawkins instead.

      What for ? To change him ? To change his view and go with god ? To save his soul ?

      I really dislike people who pompously say they will pray for someone as if praying really works . Pray for your self you need it more. What makes you think people want your prayers or even thinking about them with ill intent ?

      People who do this actually are thinking harmful things. My cousins became born again xtians and tried to convert me and I went along for the ride until they asked me to accept jesus as my savior. I said , I was from jews, jesus was a jew and by default I already accepted him. That was not enough they wanted me to pray from the book and the content was quite annoying to hear.
      It was not about getting saved , it was about subjugating my mind. I told them they were no different than muslim extremists. Telling me I can’t go to heaven when I die if I don’t get saved by jesus is the same as saying alah instead of jesus it sounds the same ….

      I told them I did not believe in a heaven or hell so it did nor matter to me.

      They said they would pray for me. To change me and let the lord in. To change my lesbian cousin too, before it’s too late. These things are not about accepting a person as they are for who they are.

      Don’t pray for me or anyone I know. Only bad can come from it. Bad being nothing at all.

  67. I wish I had time to read all of the comments before mine, because this is a fantastic question.
    My answer to your question is that religions are not science. What I mean by that is if any God or gods exist, they also have free will, meaning it is impossible to say “if A, then B.” Sometimes a someone or some religion is bold enough to try; “if you do this you will be struck by lightning”, or something like that. And of course when the lightning doesn’t come then we are left doubting the religion is real at all, so it behooves the religion keep it a little vague. But as humans we strongly desire order and continuity; we WANT “if A, then B.” So when confronted with a question like “Why would God let this kind of happen?” or some such thing, but no answer exists in the religious teaching, people are going to giv eyou answers like the one you described. Its all pure philosophy and logical excersize and very culturally influenced. I feel like my answer and thoughts on the subject are very imcomplete, but there it is.

  68. In reply to #241 by AllusiveAtheist:

    If you are trying to justify the existence of hate/destruction/natural disasters/evil this doesn’t really do it. If love were the default position it would still be love, we would just take it for granted. Taking love for granted in a world without hate/destruction… would be infinitely better than appreciating love in a world with hate/destruction… if it were possible to choose.

    Appreciation would not be the goal of two conflicting forces because you’re correct: as long as we’re all happy, who cares about appreciation?! Rather, in consequence of there existing two conflicting forces as hate and love, us humans are allowed to choose a side. And I will argue that there is nothing more empowering than to choose to do the right thing in the face of all the wrong that one could have easily slipped into. The greatest gift a Creator could have given His creations would be the power for them to create… just like the Creator. In order to make this possible, the Creator would have to create the novelty of free will. This is because we would not be able to truly “create” without free will. Free will requires the possibility of a wrong choice (evil). It’s a sacrifice, yes. But nothing good can come without sacrifice. The world would have therefore been created for the potential reward to be given to the potential choosers of “good” and not evil. The reward being the satisfaction of creating something. And evil does not create…. so, by definition, cannot get that reward.

    But as we are subjective social resource-dependent creatures that evolved from non-verbal, non-abstract-thinking creatures, mental states of love and hate are not surprising.

    There is a natural explanation for everything… yes.

    Or in order to create more of what one loves one might be callous to the destruction that is caused in pursuit of that which is loved. Perhaps someone could love money and be callous to the environment.
    Creation does require destruction. But is it really “destruction” if it’s necessary for creation?

    Hatred can often lead to productive and creative competition. Love and hate do tend to create intentions of nurturing and destruction but there are far too many variables to speak in anything like absolutes. And whatever intentions these feelings bring about, whatever happens, something else will happen after that.

    Its all semantics and perspective. I’m not blinding my self to the many “variables” that must be taken into account. At the same time I’m just arguing a simple point: when all is said and done, hate’s goal, by definition, is destruction. Hate can inspire creation, but from hates perspective, that wasn’t the plan. After all though, I agree, hate can inspire creation. The only thing is, hate can’t create by itself. The Nazi’s technology would have never been put to a good cause if not for the existence of good, loving people outside of the Nazis who are willing to transform the potential destructive creation in to a creative creation.

    I mostly agree. If the cause of the universe (spacetime, matter and energy) is impossible to comprehend there is no reason why we should assume cause and effect were necessary for the universe to begin. Nor is there any reason to assume, if there was a cause, that that causer had any intention or awareness, let alone love. The beginning of the universe may have been the reformation of something(s) that was not the universe into the universe or it may have come into being without preexisting materials. Either way there is no reason to assume a consciousness was required.

    “Either way there is no reason to assume a consciousness was required.” If there was no Consciousness, than I can ask: what caused the change from “whatever” to the universe we know? If there was a Consciousness, however, than I have an answer to the above question: the Conscious did it. Why? That’s a separate discussion. If there was no consciousness than what’s stopping us from understanding the origins of the universe? On the flip, if there is a Conscious, than we can say that it’s the Conscious that’s limiting our understanding. Why? Also a separate discussion.

    • In reply to #259 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

      You had better hope God answers prayers. You wrote:-

      Rather, in consequence of there existing two conflicting forces as hate and love, us humans are allowed to choose a side. And I will argue that there is nothing more empowering than to choose to do the right thing in the face of all the wrong that one could have easily slipped into.

      Then:-

      And I will argue that there is nothing more empowering than to choose to do the right thing in the face of all the wrong that one could have easily slipped into.

      And further:-

      When one hates something, naturally, they wish to destroy it. When something is created out of hate, it is only created for the purpose of destruction.

      I would ask you to apply your very own words to the question I have twice asked you below, that you refuse to address. The invasion by use of force and stealth of occupied Palestinian lands by state sanctioned building of settlements, using the justification that God gave you the promised land, a claim taken from your own self written and self serving hand book. Is this an act of Love, or Hate.

      I would invite you to denounce the settlements as a act of hate. I would further invite you to denounce that section of your scriptures that Israeli fundamentalists use to justify this crime against humanity. The god of the entire universe, would not pick out a piece of land on a minor planet orbiting a minor sun in a minor galaxy in a universe consisting of billions/squared planets and give it to one minor tribe out of the thousands on this planet. That this piece of ridicule is openly used in justification of anything is an insult to homo sapien.

    • In reply to #259 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

      “… there existing two conflicting forces as hate and love…”

      Here, and throughout, you seem to be implying that love and hate are external forces that act upon us. Even if (if not “especially if”) you are a christian you should abandon that kind of superstition. Otherwise you are assuming there is a god & a devil as well as the powers of love & hate (good & evil, whatever) that somehow these two entities create and/or manipulate these forces? Love and hate are words that describe ranges of attitudes and emotional states that we create inside ourselves. They are reactions to desires, expectations and perceptions. The power of love is not magic. It’s strictly attitudes influencing one’s own behavior in a manner that is likely to appeal to the empathy and social drives of others.

      “The greatest gift a Creator could have given His creations would be the power for them to create… just like the Creator.”

      1, “Greatest gift” is certainly debatable. Will the saved be able to create in Heaven? It seems like there’s a point being missed here.
      2. Not at all “…just like the Creator.” We cannot create ex nihilo, out of nothing. We can merely reshape available materials.
      I’m kinda nit picking but… yea.

      “… the novelty of free will.”

      That would be a novelty, if ever there were the existence of free will. Free will is an illusion. You’re welcome to try to explain how free will is real. I wrote a comment earlier in this thread to sum up the flimsiness of the free will concept: Comment 222

      “…we would not be able to truly “create” without free will.”

      I’m left to conclude that either humans don’t actually create or termites (and oysters and a very long list of other non-sentients) possess free will.

      “Free will requires the possibility of a wrong choice (evil).”

      Not really, unless you are trying to say that choices made by entities who lack moral intuition are not choices of the “free will” variety (paraphrasing: free will is the option available only to moral agents). If I am allowed to choose between 31 flavors of ice cream and a 32nd choice of no ice cream, is my choice a choice of free will? What if I want a 33rd choice, a flavor not on the menu? As with ice cream moral choices are seldom a matter of two choices. And like the 33rd choice, if a moral choice is not available how is that free? My choices are bound by the existence I live in.

      “But nothing good can come without sacrifice. The world would have therefore been created for the potential reward to be given to the potential choosers of “good” and not evil.”

      You could shorten that to “But nothing can come without sacrifice.” What kind of sick twisted soul would deliberately create this kind of existence. The same one who will let some into heaven where there will be no sacrifice? So why not cut to the chase and go straight to heaven? Is heaven too fragile to allow sin in? God couldn’t punish or cast into the lake of fire heavenly sinners? And the only possible sin in heaven would be denial of the god’s authority. Aside from being fictional this character is far from worthy of worship. Sorry, went off on a tangent there.

      “…hate’s goal, by definition, is destruction.”

      As that is your definition it’s probably no coincidence that you find it very convincing. But it’s just a feeling we have for things that stand between us and what we want(ed). A desire or destination of destruction is just one possibility. Poetically we might say that hate is a force that works against us, but that’s just poetry. Realistically, hate is only a psychological state. And the nazis and the very catholic Hitler, thought they were doing Germany, the world and God a favor.

      In reply to #230 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

      This is what I was saying is impossible to fully comprehend due to the confines of our physical world.

      back to #259 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

      If there was no Consciousness, than I can ask: what caused the change from “whatever” to the universe we know?

      I don’t know. I find brane cosmology is one of several potentially satisfactory explanations but I won’t presume to say that I know. We are made from the same stuff as the rest of the universe. Should we expect a pre-big bang environment to make sense to our frame of reference? If we could find an extremely well educated/trained biologist who had the strange characteristic of knowing nothing about insects (let’s call it amnesia), gave her a live butterfly and asked her to discover empirically what it was before it was a butterfly what kind of answer could we expect from her? We may make progress beyond speculation in pre-universe cosmology but we shouldn’t be surprised by our lingering ignorance.

      “If there was a Consciousness, however, than I have an answer to the above question: the Conscious did it.”

      1. If a person is hit by lightening would you assume the (person’s) consciousness made the lightning?
      2. You are assuming there was a consciousness. Presumably a consciousness without a living body. And it did it through sheer will. I realize this is a common belief. But if I told you my dead grandfather can now or at anytime create a dust mote from nothing, making it appear out of nowhere and float in the middle of the room you wouldn’t believe me. And you probably don’t see why it’s silly to believe a disembodied spirit whose existence has never/could never/will never be substantiated could create a whole universe but my grandfather who we can be pretty sure at least once existed can’t do this slightest of creation feats.
      3. I assume you are assuming there was only one consciousness.

      I hope you don’t put any stock in the teleological/fine tuning argument. It’s worse than the cosmological argument you’re trying to represent.

      ” If there was no consciousness than what’s stopping us from understanding the origins of the universe?”

      This is a wonderful question. It reveals the hubris of humanity. Perhaps you are familiar with Coco, the gorilla that learned a version of sign language? Why were there limits to the scope of language she could learn? How far do you think she could have gotten in math? How well did the chimps and other early experimental astronauts understand their orbital experiences? How hard would it be to teach a dog or even a chimp Boolean algebra? Are their brains perhaps just too limited to grasp these concepts? It’s even been suggested by theists that God is too complex for us to understand. And now you seem to be suggesting that if we haven’t peered past the wall of the cosmic microwave background, beyond the beginning of time, to an environment necessarily unlike anything we’ve ever observed or conceived that it must be because it was just a god. And the only “legitimacy” you can proffer to this claim is a mythology that sprang from a society of pre-literate bronze age polytheists?

      “On the flip, if there is a Conscious, than we can say that it’s the Conscious that’s limiting our understanding.”

      Again hubris. Only divine intervention could keep us from understanding what was before/outside the universe? We’ve had some pretty bright humans throughout history increasing human understanding. But I think you are overestimating the human brain. You and I don’t understand 1% of what we see or use on a daily basis. Yet you suggest it’s somehow telling that our best and brightest can’t observe, measure and test the environment outside the universe? You and I can’t pick a random spot down the street and see what happened yesterday. But yet you suggest it’s somehow telling that our best and brightest can’t observe, measure and test the environment before the big bang? If only someone had had the foresight to set up traffic and security cameras before the big bang.

      You’ve clearly tried to understand these things better. But if you are only trying to feed your confirmation bias you can convince yourself of anything. Skepticism is the way to go. By treating all information with equal suspicion you can improve your standards for evaluating what to trust and how much. Or you can believe what you want and no amount of reason, logic or evidence will ever be enough to loose your grip on your chosen conceptual model.

      • In reply to #264 by AllusiveAtheist:

        You’ve clearly tried to understand these things better. But if you are only trying to feed your confirmation bias you can convince yourself of anything. Skepticism is the way to go. By treating all information with equal suspicion you can improve your standards for evaluating what to trust and how much. Or you can believe what you want and no amount of reason, logic or evidence will ever be enough to loose your grip on your chosen conceptual model.

        I think, in summary, these were your last points:

        How do we know that the “creation” of the universe was willed by a Conscious?

        And: It makes sense that we can’t understand what existed before the big bang because we’ve never had a frame of reference… didn’t have a video camera set up… etc.

        Answer: Who said that whatever laws existed before the big bang should not exist now? If you say that they don’t exist now than what did they do: “create” a new universe with no preexisting “materials,” out of nothing, while destroying any evidence of “themselves,” the previous “universe?” However, if you agree that parts of what existed before the big bang are still a part of, and still exist in our current universe, than we DO have access to those “ideas” and “laws” and can therefore observe how they work. By that logic, we SHOULD be able to understand what existed before the universe or big bang. So why can’t we? Were not smart enough? I don’t know… I wouldn’t put anything past Steven H., he’s proved himself capable.

        It must be, therefore, that there was a willed act of creation by an Entity that was able to create something from nothing. The only fathomable way that something could have came from nothing is if it was willed by a Creator that exists outside of everything we know. If it was not willed, than either the universe always worked by the same common denominators (because nothing can ever be completely original as you said its just a matter of re-shaping) and we should therefore be able to understand or, something could not possibly come from nothing because when would nothing decide to “create” the universe?!

        In conclusion, if the universe was not willed into existence than there is no reason why we should have a mental block when it comes to matters preceding it as I have explained above.

        I wrote this kind of quickly but try and read my words carefully and you’ll understand what I’m saying. I agree with what I quoted from you above, very well put. But if you might think I’m so biased that I can’t even respond to reason anymore and I perhaps think the same about you than how can we know whose really biased? It is for this reason that I tend to try and keep the whole “your brain washed” arguments out of the picture.

        • In reply to #290 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

          SHOULD be able to understand what existed before the universe or big bang. So why can’t we? Were not smart enough? I don’t know… I wouldn’t put anything past Steven H., he’s proved himself capable.

          Steven H has a view on what came before the big bang. In a wonderful BBC documentary entitled “What Happened Before the Big Bang?” all of the worlds preeminent physicists speculate about what preceded the big bang. They don’t know….. yet, but there are some sound lines of thought afoot. Watch and be amazed, particularly the “Hands Up” sequence at the end of the doco.

          The most likely is that all universes are just out of balance quantum fluctuations that escape annihilation and go through an expansion phase. Universes are a dime a dozen. And they don’t need a pre-existing condition, prior to the big bang, because by definition, a quantum fluctuation is creating something from nothing. And they don’t breach the laws of thermodynamics because the amount of negative energy is balanced by the amount of positive energy, and can return to zero when the universe runs it’s course. It’s starting to tick a lot of boxes.

          While we don’t know yet, it is getting more and more likely that we don’t need a creator to flick the cosmic switch. See if you can source the documentary because it answers far more eloquently than I ever can, the questions you pose.

          • In reply to #292 by David R Allen:

            In reply to #290 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

            The documentary What Happened Before the Big Bang includes a theory by Laura Mersini Houghton. She explains it in the documentary. I’ve just review the doco and checked on the current state of that theory, which made five testable predictions. She has got 4 out of 5 right. Observations by the Plank satellite in 2013 have confirmed her predictions. One more correct answer and she is getting very close to an Elephant stamp. I couldn’t possibly explain it, but this reference might me something to the more learned in this forum.

            https://www.google.com.au/#q=wiki+laura+mersini-houghton

        • In reply to #290 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

          “Who said that whatever laws existed before the big bang should not exist now?”

          Um, you did.
          comment 230 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil

          “This is what I was saying is impossible to fully comprehend due to the confines of our physical world.”

          Either you were saying
          1. The preexisting conditions which spawned our physical world are impossible to fully comprehend,
          or you were saying
          2. Since its impossible to fully comprehend the preexisting conditions which spawned our physical world we must assume those conditions were supernatural, intelligent and intentional.

          The second is fallacious special case pleading at best. The conclusion represented in the second does not necessarily follow from the premises. It’s a non sequitor. You have not represented this claim in a way which suggests it is even likely to be true.

          1 We don’t know if there were preexisting conditions to the universe. This idea is completely counter-intuitive, practically crazy talk, like so many aspects of quantum mechanics. But given what we know about quantum fluctuation and virtual particles we cannot nor should we dismiss this possibility.

          2 There are several reasonable pre-universal cosmological hypotheses that postulate conditions that could or would lead to singularity and big bang event. Is one of these right? Maybe. Is the true pre-universe model yet to be considered? Maybe. (On a side note, I could take any one of these hypotheses and offer it as a matter of fact explanation for the the universe’s origin. I could talk myself and others into believing it. But that would be almost as bad as claiming a Creator was responsible.)

          3 Maybe a Creator did do it, intentionally. Logic and philosophy undermine this concept more than support it. And the evidence… is really a lack of evidence. Combine this lack of real evidence with the noise of random events and filter it through a bias and we can come to whatever conclusion we prefer.

          4 Maybe a Creator did it, unintentionally. If all it takes is an imagined concept and a will then perhaps the universe is but a fleeting whim, Would the billions of years the universe has and will exist mean anything to such a being? Why only create one universe? Why not make a better one, with more habitable planets (or whatever) and maybe with better people? Maybe the universe is just a lab experiment and the human race was never intended or noticed.

          5 Multiple creators, intentional or otherwise. How do we rule out this possibility? Is one god so far-fetched that two or more are just out of the question?

          We are beings that experience everything in the context of 3 spacial dimensions, 1 time dimension. The universe is made of matter and energy. To our knowledge a universe has not been created from our universe. If a universe could be created from within our universe would it necessarily have the same natural laws? Why is that necessarily true? If a human or team of humans (or naughty lab monkey) caused this new universe to be created would he or they (or it) be gods?

          In the early moments after the big bang the constituent properties of the of the universe were nothing like what we have now mainly due to the dense energy and lack of atoms. But following this back through the singularity to before the big bang is problematic. Should we just imagine a greater density? Should we imagine an event that could cause a singularity? Regardless, there is no reason to expect that a cause for the universe, outside the universe, would be bound by the same laws as those within the universe it creates. If a creative phenomenon must then so too must a Creator. It’s just nonsense to claim that the Creator of the universe is not bound by physical laws but a creator of the universe would be.

          “…while destroying any evidence of “themselves,”…”

          If the universe were created from nothing then what evidence would point to an ex nihilo origin? There couldn’t be any. How does “nothing” leave evidence?

          On the other hand if the universe were created by something or from something there probably is evidence. Let me emphasize probably. It may be that every quark and calorie is a crystal clear signpost indicating what and how the universe was created. But if we don’t know what a kilometer is or what Geneva is or what North is, a crystal clear signpost indicating “Geneva, 25km N” is of no help.

          Our only window to such a pre-universal environment is a pinhole nearly 14 billion lightyears away, obscured by dust and radiation. (We’re actually inside the pinhole. The edge is that far away.) And even if we could see it, and look through it there is no reason to think that what we would see would make any sense… to us. This is especially true if time, or even the concept of before and after, are not part of that environment. Many theists are all too eager to claim that God is timeless (however they may mean it) but resist the idea that anything else could be timeless. This hypocritical “what’s sauce for the goose is not sauce for the gander” special case pleading is completely unsubstantiated. Is there some non-circular reasoning (or how about some evidence?!) to support this vacuous stance?

          “…the previous “universe?” “

          Our languages do poorly at representing ideas like a hypothetical environment/situation from which the universe my have sprung. But keep in mind that such an environment/situation needn’t be anything like time and space. If we so confine our thinking we are overlooking infinite possibilities.

          “However, if you agree that parts of what existed before the big bang are still a part of, and still exist in our current universe, than we DO have access to those “ideas” and “laws” and can therefore observe how they work.”

          I agree that’s one possibility. Only one of many. As I wrote, even with the clues right in our faces we may not recognize them as clues, let alone their meaning, if we don’t understand what we’re looking for.

          “By that logic, we SHOULD be able to understand what existed before the universe or big bang. So why can’t we? Were not smart enough?”

          As 3+1 dimensional beings of matter and energy we should expect it to be a rather high hurdle to understand something is not 3+1 dimensional mix of matter and energy. There are many among us who couldn’t be taught calculus or predicate logic if our lives depended on it. Our best and brightest do better but why didn’t Isaac Newton understand that mass curves spacetime? Maybe he just didn’t have enough puzzle pieces. And maybe we don’t now. But I’m not overly optimistic that we will ever have enough puzzle pieces, let alone in the near future. That doesn’t mean that I should jump to the conclusion that magic and a super ghost are responsible.

          “I don’t know… I wouldn’t put anything past Steven H., he’s proved himself capable.”

          Here’s something Hawking wouldn’t put past Hawking.

          “The initial singularity of the classical Big Bang models was replaced with a region akin to the North Pole. One cannot travel north of the North Pole, but there is no boundary there—it is simply the point where all north-running lines meet and end. “

          The implication is that there is no time before the beginning of time.

          “It must be, therefore, that there was a willed act of creation by an Entity that was able to create something from nothing.”

          Nope. You (nor anyone else) has actually supported this claim. If we consider all possibilities the the will of a Creator is one possibility. But there is nothing to suggest (let alone evidence(v.)) this possibility is likely, let alone necessary. And there has certainly been nothing offered that makes this speculative possibility more likely than any other possibility.

          “The only fathomable way that something could have came from nothing is if it was willed by a Creator that exists outside of everything we know.”

          Still nope. Not only are you not disproving any other possibility, you are not even offering anything to make your claim more credible.

          “If it was not willed, than either the universe always worked by the same common denominators (because nothing can ever be completely original as you said its just a matter of re-shaping) …”

          Not necessarily. Intuitively, it is actually unlikely that the conditions within the universe are similar to the conditions that spawned the universe. It could be that our universe is constantly spawning new universe beyond our perception. It could be that our universe came from another universe with similar properties to our own. I don’t find it a satisfactory explanation for the origin of our universe but I can’t dismiss it just because I don’t like it. You can if you like but it’s a fallacious argument from incredulity.

          “… and we should therefore be able to understand…”

          Even if we have the capacity to understand (which may not be the case) we don’t have the prerequisite information. If you took the 100 greatest minds from before the 18th century and asked them to explain the strong nuclear force they would not understand it. Should we therefore conclude atomic nuclei are held together by a creator? Our current ignorance does not imply eternal ignorance. But even if we never understand that doesn’t negate the possibility. If it did our inability to understand a Creator (remember comment 230) would would mean a Creator could not have willed it.

          “… or, something could not possibly come from nothing because when would nothing decide to “create” the universe?!” “

          When do water or thermodynamics “decide” to create a snowflake. Or better yet, when do quantum fluctuations “decide” to create and annihilate virtual particles, from nothing? It’s not only possible, these non-willed naturalistic phenomena happen all the time. No Creator. No will. Just stuff happening because it can.

          “In conclusion, if the universe was not willed into existence than there is no reason why we should have a mental block when it comes to matters preceding it as I have explained above.”

          By that “logic” if the universe was willed into existence then there is no reason why we should have a mental block when it comes to matters preceding it. It should be obvious a Creator did it, it should be obvious how the Creator did it and we shouldn’t have any trouble understanding the Creator. But it isn’t, it isn’t and we do. Therefore it can’t be a Creator. Is the Creator blocking us from understanding these things? Riiiight. That kind of bias-driven convenient special-case pleading is as convincing as the Flying Spaghetti Monster. It’s circular reasoning and it puts you in a position of self-reinforcing ignorance. If we suppose that the Creator won’t let you understand, and you don’t understand, then it must be that the Creator won’t let you understand, because you don’t, because the Creator blah blah blah ad infinitum.

          I’ve already shown in this post and others (mainly comment 264) why we can’t assume too much from our ignorance on pre-universal conditions.

          As for my bias, yes. I’m very biased. When I see a faith claim my immediate reaction is to doubt it. It is only through deliberate consideration that I deal with unsubstantiated ideological rationalizations directly rather than just pointing and laughing. Ideally religious claims would present a challenge and make me/us question naturalistic claims. But it’s just the same thing over and over. Usually it christians. Sometimes it’s new agers, muslims or jews. But it always comes back to disinformation, faith and/or other fallacies. Offer something that isn’t refutable and I’ll have to admit it. Offer me something that’s flimsy and full of holes and I’m gonna sink it.

          I used to do this under the auspices of wanting to know if I’m wrong. While I still want to know if I’m wrong I’ve given up hope of any theist or other supernaturalist presenting a good argument or piece of evidence for the existence of any god or supernatural phenomenon. Now? I guess I’m just spiteful of snake oil salesmen.

          • In reply to #303 by AllusiveAtheist:

            I guess I’m just spiteful of snake oil salesmen.

            5 Shekels please for a bottle of that snake oil. Marvelous stuff.

          • In reply to #303 by AllusiveAtheist:

            When do water or thermodynamics “decide” to create a snowflake. Or better yet, when do quantum fluctuations “decide” to create and annihilate virtual particles, from nothing? It’s not only possible, these non-willed naturalistic phenomena happen all the time. No Creator. No will. Just stuff happening because it can.

            You have provided a very long response. I’ve read through it all and noticed one central theme. That is that you want me to give you a reason why the theory of a Willing Creator makes sense. You have said that just because we cannot comprehend the “before” of this universe does not = supernatural/intentional. Above I’ve singled out something which seems to prove my point…

            You say in response to why things happen: “Just stuff happening because it can.” I can not deny that these things happen of course but why and how do they happen is a reasonable question. The fact that things in this universe seem to be “creating” things from nothing (you gave examples above) does not justify how this stuff happens. But I’m going to hold off on my explanation for now and ask you: How can something come from nothing?

            Here’s something Hawking wouldn’t put past Hawking.
            “The initial singularity of the classical Big Bang models was replaced with a region akin to the North Pole. One cannot travel north of the North Pole, but there is no boundary there—it is simply the point where all north-running lines meet and end. “

            Here again: How can there be an “end” to anything? It doesn’t make sense and you know it. What would an “end” look like? It would have to look like literally nothing, or else it would not really be the end. But how can something moving randomly fade into nothingness? What would cause this? An “end??” A “beginning??” What caused these things to appear out of nothing…NOTHING?

            These are simple concepts that every one holds true: cause and effect, beginnings and ends. But please, explain: how do they make sense?

            There must be Something beyond all this. It must be One or you fall into an everlasting paradox. And it must be a will or what would cause time and space to appear out of the timeless and space-less?

          • In reply to #308 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

            How can something come from nothing?

            1. Quantum fluctuations create something from nothing constantly, endlessly, inside and outside of this universe. These nothings can even be measured. See the Casimir Effect here:-

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casimir_effect

            There must be Something beyond all this.

            Why. I’ve proved something can come from nothing in Answer 1. Nothing else is required. A god breaches Ockham’s Razor.

            And it must be a will or what would cause time and space to appear out of the timeless and space-less?

            Refer Answer 1. If you seriously want to know the implications of quantum fluctuations, Laurence Krauss explores this in his book, something from nothing, or you can watch an explanation in the second half of this video where Krauss is interviewed by Richard Dawkins about his theory.

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YUe0_4rdj0U

            Again, god is not necessary to answer any of your questions. God is now superfluous. We might not know all the detail now, we may never know, but that will never require a resort to the supernatural for an answers.

            That you for ignoring my question on settlements. I would invite readers to make deductions from this failure.

          • In reply to #310 by David R Allen:

            That you for ignoring my question on settlements. I would invite readers to make deductions from this failure.

            Repeat your full question one last time, clearly and without any bad mouthing, and I’ll answer the question once and for all.

          • In reply to #311 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

            In reply to #310 by David R Allen

            Repeat your full question one last time, clearly and without any bad mouthing, and I’ll answer the question once and for all.

            Respect and thanks in anticipation.

            You’ve written extensively in this blog about “Love”, the “Love of God” in contrast to hate. You write that God wants you to “Love” not hate. Good and evil etc. I won’t dig out the quotes but they are below, oft cited. While I cannot know who you are, you seem to be a scholar of the Torah, and Rabbinic law. Or at least very familiar with these as you cite and refer to them. So if you hold to the “Love” commandment of your god, how does this square away with current Israeli policy of settling the occupied Palestinian lands. Occupation by stealth, by the stronger over the weaker.

            About Me. When I retired, I did the trip of a life time to Europe for 3 months. My wife organized the itinerary. She nagged me for months asking if there was anything I particularly wanted to do, and she would program it into the tour. I was quite happy to go along with what she was planning. Sounded good to me. But I thought upon the matter and in flash of non-god inspired inspiration, I knew I had to visit Auschwitz Berkanau concentration camp, to bear witness, and tour the Large Hadron Collider. Auschwitz was a long way from where we were going, but we did the drive. I have stood at the end of the Berkanau railway line between the gas chambers and cried. And cried. I am a supporter of the existence of the state of Israel and condemn all racism. (Ask Keith)

            But I, and the rest of the world are losing patience with Israel. It’s gone on too long. It’s time to make peace. Two states will be created. Apart from the fundamentalist christian right wing of American politics, who want a war in Israel so they can go to heaven in the rapture, there is little support left around the world for Israel, which, if taken to its end conclusion, could be very bad for Israel. The settlements are the stand out issue preventing peace. Israel is rich and powerful. The Palestinians are poor and weak. The justification for the settlements is often cited to the Torah. “God gave the promised land to the Israelites.” One persons religion is not a justification for imposing anything on anyone else given all religions have equal credibility. .

            So, given god’s commandment to “Love” etc…. Is the Torah correct. Or should the settlements be dismantled.

          • In reply to #313 by David R Allen:

            But I, and the rest of the world are losing patience with Israel. It’s gone on too long. It’s time to make peace.

            The first thing we must clarify is that the current Israeli government is secular and does not represent Torah values. So, if they seem to be taking unjust advantage of their neighbors, its not because the Torah instructed them to, for they don’t necessarily follow the Torah at all. If they happen to quote the Torah in justification they are picking and choosing and further more, most probably are quoting wrongly and misunderstanding the Torah.

            With that said, as far as the Torah’s concerned, its all about peace. One of the sages have said that the entire Torah is a mere commentary on how to fulfill the commandment to love ones neighbor. With that said, sometimes we must fight evil in the pursuit of peace. I don’t think I need to give examples of this but… the Nazis, terrorists, etc. are good examples.

            Now, if the world presented Israel with the perfect peace plan that would for sure work, only it required Israel to give up land, from a Torah perspective, would we do it?

            Rabbi A.Y. Kook, the first Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel, writes clearly that we should not endanger our lives because of land. In other words, we can give up land, if it will bring peace – colloquially called “land for peace.” (“Mishpat Cohen” 142-144; c.f. “Michtavim U’Mamarim” 1:14 by Rabbi Elazar M. Schach)

            Rabbi Ovadia Yosef stated: “If the heads and commanders of the army, together with the government, state that saving of life is involved; that if areas of Israel are not given back, the danger exists of immediate war on the part of our Arab neighbors; and if the areas are returned to them, the danger of war will be averted; and that there is a chance of permanent peace; then it seems that according to all opinions it is permitted to return areas of Israel in order to achieve this aim, since nothing is more important than the saving of life.”

            So we’d do anything for peace. As for what the current Israeli, non-Torah, government would do, I can not say. But know that they do not represent the values of the Torah as I have stated above.

            Hope that answered the question.

          • In reply to #314 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

            In reply to #313 by David R Allen:

            Hope that answered the question.

            Almost. Just a technicality. Where do you stand? In favour of settlements, based on the Torah, or opposed to settlements, in line with the two Rabbi’s you quote.

          • In reply to #315 by David R Allen:

            Almost. Just a technicality. Where do you stand? In favour of settlements, based on the Torah, or opposed to settlements, in line with the two Rabbi’s you quote.

            I stand with the Torah. And so do those two Rabbis which I quoted. “The two Rabbis” which I quoted, spent their whole life studying the Torah in the pursuit of clarifying and discovering its messages. Their opinions are no more than a representation of what the Torah would require. And if peace or life is at stake, it seems that Rabbi Ovadia Yosef made the position of the Torah quite clear….

            “….and that there is a chance of permanent peace; then it seems that according to all opinions it is permitted to return areas of Israel in order to achieve this aim, since nothing is more important than the saving of life.”

            Notice that he uses the word “permitted.” Permitted by what? Permitted by the Torah.

          • In reply to #316 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

            In reply to #315 by David R Allen:

            Almost. Just a technicality. Where do you stand? In favour of settlements, based on the Torah, or opposed to settlements, in line with the two Rabbi’s you quote.

            Notice that he uses the word “permitted.” Permitted by what? Permitted by the Torah.

            Thank you for replying.

            Why do I feel like I’ve opened by birthday present and there was nothing in there. Can you just spell it out so a street smuck like me can understand it. AllusiveAtheist I ain’t. RedDog I can never emulate.

            From where I sit, you’ve inserted a proviso which I don’t understand. I feel like I’m reading something that would have made Karl Rove proud. Are you personally, for the settler movement. Or are you against it. I would probably be just capable of understanding a simple “Yes” or “no.”

          • In reply to #317 by David R Allen:

            Are you personally, for the settler movement. Or are you against it. I would probably be just capable of understanding a simple “Yes” or “no.”

            If the “settler movement” is in conflict with peace, than “no.”

          • In reply to #308 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

            How can something come from nothing.

            I don’t know if you are across quantum fluctuations, so here is a little extra. A space that contains nothing.A void. A perfect vacuum. Not even inside this universe. Before the big bang. It has absolutely zero content. A quantum fluctuation occurs. Two equal particles spontaneously come into existence. One carrying a positive charge. The other an equal negative charge. They come back together, annihilate each other cancelling out the charge. So the maths in summary. Zero energy, becomes equal positive and negative charges which cancel each other out returning the universe to zero. Conservation of energy satisfied.

            While this is not known for sure (yet), it seems likely that a universe occurs, when one of these quantum fluctuations goes through an inflation, and creates a universe. If Krauss is right, then the total visible matter of the universe (stars, you and me), plus dark matter (Positive Energy) is exactly equal the dark energy repulsive force (Negative Energy) so when the maths is done, the total energy of the universe is zero. Whether it will ever collapses back and assumes that Zero state is unknown. So the universe can be something from nothing. It does not breach the Laws of Thermodynamics. The conservation of energy is maintained.

            Sub Planck length quantum fluctuations are occurring in their countless billions inside your body right now.

          • In reply to #318 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

            In reply to #312 by David R Allen:

            If Krauss is right

            http://www.bethinking.org/is-there-a-creator/a-universe-from-someone-against-lawrence-krauss

            From the front page of BeThinking web page.

            bethinking.org exists to help you make sense of the big questions about life:

            See more

            Engage with the important questions of life

            Explore what Christians believe and why

            Compare Christianity to different religions and beliefs

            Relate the Christian faith to all of life

            The “Philosopher” cited by you is:-

            Peter S. Williams (MA, MPhil) is Assistant Professor in Communication and Worldviews at Gimlekollen School of Journalism and Communication in Norway,

            and

            and is philosopher in residence at the Damaris Trust.

            The Damaris Trust is:-

            Damaris is an educational charity that is growing very fast through our partnership with the film industry. We create official community resources to accompany the latest feature films. Our resources help a wide range of community groups to engage with the themes and ideas explored in the films.

            A film review web site. Mmm.

            Now after that long introduction to your expert, you want me to take his word against the cosmologist, Lawrence Krauss. I don’t think so Tim.

          • In reply to #321 by David R Allen:

            Now after that long introduction to your expert, you want me to take his word against the cosmologist, Lawrence Krauss. I don’t think so Tim.

            Well you know what they say, “if you can’t refute the argument attack the arguer.”

          • In reply to #325 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

            In reply to #321 by David R Allen:

            Now after that long introduction to your expert, you want me to take his word against the cosmologist, Lawrence Krauss. I don’t think so Tim.

            Well you know what they say, “if you can’t refute the argument attack the arguer.”

            This is the first paragraph of your expert.

            Krauss spends most of his book redefining ‘nothing’ in terms of increasingly incorporeal somethings (from ‘empty space’ to reified ‘laws of physics’), as if this justified the conclusion that literal nothingness could be the cause of the cosmos. That’s like arguing that since its possible to live on less and less food each day it must be possible to live on no food.

            It goes down hill from there with stuff like this.

            1) Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause.
            2) The universe exists.
            3) Therefore the universe has an explanation of its existence.
            4) If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God.
            5) Therefore, the explanation of the universe’s existence is God.

            The Prosecution rests Your Honour. I recommend Your Honour, that on the basis of answer 4 above, you are open to accept a plea of diminished responsibility base on a God Delusion.

          • In reply to #308 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

            “… but why and how do they happen is a reasonable question.”

            Is it? The scope of your question assumes there is a how and why. And if I’m reading the tone correctly you are assuming the “why” includes intent and/or purpose. Is it reasonable to assume that quantum fluctuations and the formation of ice crystals in the atmosphere are the result of some intent? All of your previous attempts at similar explanations have relied upon faith-style assumptions.

            “How can something come from nothing?” This is tricky because we have no example of nothing. To us it is an abstract concept that seems perfectly plausible though “nothing” has never been observed directly nor indirectly. Even the empty void of space contains background fields but it’s about as close a practical example as we can hope for. Given the rife activity in ostensibly empty space we might wonder if a true nothing might be even more volatile. Like certain isotopes, “nothing” may be too unstable to remain nothing. But the existence of “nothing” and anything to do with “nothing” is purely speculative. So good luck with your explanation.

            “Here again: How can there be an “end” to anything?”

            You don’t seem to grasp the analogy. What is North of the North Pole? This is another example of a question that asks for an answer outside the scope of reality. If we apply this analogy to spacetime, and consider that spacetime began as a result of the big bang, then asking what came before the big bang may make as much sense as “What’s North of the North Pole?” It is counter-intuitive. I don’t want to believe time, cause & effect and before & after may be meaningless except within the natural universe. I could just believe what I want. But reality is impervious to what I want to believe.

            “It doesn’t make sense and you know it.”

            That’s kind of what I’ve been saying. I understand that it is entirely plausible that if something (or nothing) exists (or existed) before (or outside) the universe then natural laws we take for granted may be irrelevant in that extra-universal environment. It makes sense that it needn’t make sense. Why should we expect something, for which we have no frame of reference, to make sense to us?

            “What would an “end” look like?”

            From our perspective I would expect it to look like North of the North Pole.

            “It would have to look like literally nothing, or else it would not really be the end.”

            “…have to…” You are stating assumption as fact. It’s fairly transparent but it harms your credibility.

            Even if it looked like nothing it wouldn’t necessarily be the end. I hope I’m understanding what you mean here. I’m taking what you’re calling the end to be the beginning, or front end. Our models of the first moments of the beginning (or after the beginning) is an environment of extreme heat and density. If we took a time machine back toward the beginning, slowing our rate of regression as we approached the beginning, even that environment would make little sense to our observations. In most ways it would be like being at the core of a black hole, except more so, and perhaps brighter. Even light (photons, electromagnetic radiation/waves) probably wouldn’t make sense. So what would that look like? When we understand the hows & whys of our current environment, the hows & whys of our thoughts and perceptions, the hows & whys of the earliest moments of the our universe and the possibilities of what may have existed “before” or “outside” the universe we recognize that extra-universal conditions are under no obligation to be anything like our intra-universal conditions. What would it take to spawn a big bang? We can only speculate. But I would not expect it to be like anything we’ve experienced.

            “These are simple concepts that every one holds true: cause and effect, beginnings and ends.”

            Within the universe, for the most part, yes. Quantum mechanics has a nasty habit of undermining absolutes and reducing everything to probabilities. But it is hypocritical to assume that only the alleged YHWH has no cause, no beginning and no end. Just as you don’t require it to make sense fore this deity neither should you require it to make sense for non-magical phenomena.

            “There must be Something beyond all this.”

            “…must be…” Assumption as fact. Try supporting some of these artificial claims.

            It does seem likely that naturalistic non-spacetime conditions existed “before” the universe. But my credulity does not make it so.

            “It must be One or you fall into an everlasting paradox.”

            “…must be…” Oy gevalt. You have not supported this claim. Did you present a paradox? I must have missed it. You have not represented why extra-universal conditions would have to work in a way that we would understand. You have not represented why something we in the universe might perceive as a paradox would negate extra-universal phenomena. But you’re perfectly happy to ignore your own arguments when you offer an entity as an explanation… an entity who is infinitely harder to explain than the origin of the universe.

            “And it must be a will or what would cause time and space to appear out of the timeless and space-less?”

            “…must be…” More assumption as fact. I would tell you your conclusion doesn’t follow from your premises, if you had any premises.

            “…what would cause…?” I don’t know. But neither do you. You merely have a conclusion. How you got there I don’t know. It can’t be the arguments you are offering because they are meaningless. Even as rationalizations for an already established conclusion they are so disconnected from reality I don’t know how you can cling to them. Anyway, if you’re going to make any more claims, or resubmit the old ones, please try to support them.

          • In reply to #348 by AllusiveAtheist:
            I think this sums up your main question on me:

            But it is hypocritical to assume that only the alleged YHWH has no cause, no beginning and no end. Just as you don’t require it to make sense fore this deity neither should you require it to make sense for non-magical phenomena.

            “Non magical phenomena,” I think, is more or less defined as concepts that follow the laws of our universe. Magical phenomena, or super natural phenomena, would be defined in the opposite way. This latter type of phenomena, by definition, does not make sense; it goes against what makes sense; it defies the natural laws. However, why should non magical phenomena not make sense? Is it not natural and therefore sensible?

            Nature, like everything, must have a source; a source that’s not natural. For if it was natural, it would not be natures source, only nature itself. However, it does not make sense that something super natural could unconsciously produce the laws of nature because with what materials would the natural laws be created? Certainly not natural materials because than that means that they existed all along and then, if that’s true, we fall back in to the question of what’s the source. And if you say that in fact the natural laws were created from nothing, than you would need to add in a consciousness that would have decided to do that. For if you don’t, what would have caused the change?

  69. Prayer resembles feather-plucking in parrots, whereby anxious birds seek to groom themselves to adjust to captivity by self-mutilating behaviour.

    Similarly theists will frequently succumb to analogous urges to manage their mind-prison through prayer, which may be best seen as neuron-plucking behaviour.

  70. In reply to #263 by Nitya:

    In reply to #259 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

    What is this Nazi creative creation of which you speak?

    That’s my fault. In comment 241 I wrote:

    “Thanks to the nazi’s V2 weapon program we got a boost on our way to the Moon.”

  71. I have never understood why people pray to a “Diety” who lets mother nature take centre stage. Mother nature is cruel and unkind to all living things and people accept it. Science tries to make life comfortable but we are all going to die. It is some sort of mental illness that millions pray to a “God” who does nothing. One day people(the religious nutters) will just come to terms that this is normal in our world and people will die of all sorts of things whether it is natural or unnatural.

  72. *In reply to Cumbria #251 “I used to pray for Myanmar – that the military junta would cease the repression of its people, and for religious freedom.” *
    Was this before or after you realized that, “Prayer is not a plea to God to intervene or to change His mind” Cumbria #63?

    I would respect you a little bit if you admitted that you have no idea if prayer works or not.

    My guess is you were taught to pray quite young so you asked for a bunch stuff off Jesus.

    Unfortunately none of your prayers were answered, perhaps an odd one came out ok but you then realized this could have happened without divine intervention.

    You asked a priest about this and they told you to stop being so selfish and asking for things, prayer is not meant for that, it is to develop your relationship with god instead.

    That must have been a huge relief to you because at this point you were doubting anyone was answering, or worse, perhaps there was no one there to answer!

    Your priest was also relieved because he thought the penny had dropped and you had finally worked it all out.

    The next step would be to ditch it and he then would be out of the job.

    He had already had ditched his faith long ago of course because he had actually studied the bible at seminary college and realized it was just another made up tribal myth.

  73. In reply to #268 by Pinball1970:

    *In reply to Cumbria #251 “I used to pray for Myanmar – that the military junta would cease the repression of its people, and for religious freedom.” *
    Was this before or after you realized that, “Prayer is not a plea to God to intervene or to change His mind” Cumbria #63?

    Read the whole of #63 again more carefully, Pinball. I stick by it.

    As for the rest of your post, I believe in the priesthood of all believers and have consulted numerous people about prayer from time to time, as any thinking Christian should. I suggest you try John Lennox, Ravi Zacharius, Frank Turek, Matt Slick, William Lane Craig, Alistair McGrath, etc. … but I guess (my turn to guess now) that in your view these people have no intelligence and are all nutters, so maybe you shouldn’t bother.

    I would respect you a little bit if you admitted that you have no idea if prayer works or not.

    Likewise.

    • In reply to #269 by CumbriaSmithy:
      I’m only familiar with Matt Slick a little and William Lane Craig a lot.

      I owe Craig a lot. He has offered some arguments that are usually significant and ostensibly compelling. His claims inspired research. As it turns out he’s pretty much wrong about everything. And for a long time I gave him the benefit of a doubt, that he actually believes what he’s saying. But as you become familiar with his responses to criticism a pattern emerges. When his critics cast fallacious refutations at him, he consistently nails them; that is, he accurately points out how and why their arguments are fallacies. However, when a critic offers valid and sound refutation to Craig’s claims, Craig will respond with fallacies, usually a “straw man” representation of the criticism. So Craig demonstrates sound logic and reason when it suits his goals but demonstrates unsound/invalid logic and reason when sound/valid logic and reason don’t suit his goals. So he demonstrates that he knows better when it’s convenient but not when it’s inconvenient. This leads to two obvious possibilities, either he is so convinced that he is right that awareness and reason abandon him (which seems less likely) or he knowing misrepresents the facts, explicitly: he lies. I expect fans of Craig to be too biased to recognize Craig’s predictable inconsistency or to consider my evaluation. But there it is.

      With Slick there’s a bit of a parallel. Slick is also less polished. But also less consistent. Between the two Slick seems more to be believing what he says. But he also seems more likely to talk himself into a pre-established conclusion. It’s as though he thinks he is offering compelling arguments or revealing questions when he’s just not. It’s like he’s impressed by his own BS. And when he tries to refute scientific knowledge he’s ridiculous. If the worlds foremost expert on Dungeons & Dragons used all his D&D knowledge to debate an “evolutionist” it would work out pretty much the same way. He might as well admit that he doesn’t believe in evolution because 1 he doesn’t understand it, therefore it doesn’t make sense 2 he knows God (or dragons) exist because they are in the book plus he sees God (or his +4 mace of Turning) at work in life on a daily basis 3 God (or magic) explains everything though God (as well as magic) has no explanation. It’s this last one that is most curious. That with the least explanation is the most credible? But that’s all theists rather than just Slick.

      Craig is a mercenary and Slick is a zealot.

  74. In reply to #264 by AllusiveAtheist:

    Here, and throughout, you seem to be implying that love and hate are external forces that act upon us. Even if (if not “especially if”) you are a christian you should abandon that kind of superstition. Otherwise you are assuming there is a god & a devil as well as the powers of love & hate (good & evil, whatever) that somehow these two entities create and/or manipulate these forces? Love and hate are words that describe ranges of attitudes and emotional states that we create inside ourselves. They are reactions to desires, expectations and perceptions. The power of love is not magic. It’s strictly attitudes influencing one’s own behavior in a manner that is likely to appeal to the empathy and social drives of others.

    No I’m not Christian. Love and hate are internal and external. I can hate (internal) and my friend can hate me (external from my point of view). I don’t think that love and hate are “external forces that act upon us.” Unless I’m feeling an “external force” of love from my mother, for example.

    Love and hate and everything else in the world would have to have originated from One Source. So no, I don’t believe that G-d and the devil are at war. The “devil” works for G-d and was created to fulfill his part in the master plan. If there’s no evil, there’s no free will.

    1, “Greatest gift” is certainly debatable. Will the saved be able to create in Heaven? It seems like there’s a point being missed here. 2. Not at all “…just like the Creator.” We cannot create ex nihilo, out of nothing. We can merely reshape available materials. I’m kinda nit picking but… yea.

    Let me re-phrase that: The greatest gift would be free will. Just as the Creator has free will so do we. The Creator has given us the power to be like Him. Who would not want to be like the Creator of the universe?

    …free will??

    That would be a novelty, if ever there were the existence of free will. Free will is an illusion. You’re welcome to try to explain how free will is real. I wrote a comment earlier in this thread to sum up the flimsiness of the free will concept: Comment 222

    I read your comment but I didn’t need your comment. I understand the idea. And for now, I must admit, I don’t have a solid answer. But I do have a question on the topic that you might answer for me: If free will is non existent, than why is it an illusion? What caused, in the evolution of our minds, the birth of this illusion? Why aren’t all decisions crystal clear to us? Why the struggle? Why the regret?

    One more question: Why do people seem to follow their animalistic desires, at times, even when its obviously the wrong and irrational decision? And why follow reason when the desire is so strong? Why do people, say, commit suicide?

    I’ll answer the rest of your comment later, hopefully when I have more time.

    • In reply to #271 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

      In reply to #264 by AllusiveAtheist:

      Here, and throughout, you seem to be implying that love and hate are external forces that act upon us. Even if (if not “especially if”) you are a christian you should abandon that kind of superstition. Otherwise you are assuming there is a god & a devil as well…

      Can you answer 260

    • In reply to #271 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

      Hate and love do not exist outside subjective creatures. The abstract concepts do exist as ideas. The perceived love or hate of others is no different than joy, sadness, anxiety: they can only be projected on the empathic. More precisely they can only be perceived by the one experiencing the mental state first-hand and by other subjective beings empathetic enough to mirror internally the psychological states of others. Google: mirror neurons.

      “Love and hate and everything else in the world would have to have originated from One Source. “

      “…would have to…” Um, why? It is in no way necessarily true. It’s a huge assumption, or more likely a rationalization of a pre-existing conclusion. It would be harder to explain how subjective creatures with social drives, persistent memories, predictive thinking, personal needs/desires and limited access to resources would not develop the capacity for psychological states like love and hate. A “One Source” origin (aside from in the most abstract and indirect sense) is unsubstantiated, and I suspect, unsubsatiatable.

      “Just as the Creator has free will so do we.”

      You are assuming a creator of the universe has free will.

      “The Creator has given us the power to be like Him.”

      More assumption. You are making assumptions about the creator, the power and our similarity. None of us can create in the manner attributed to the alleged Creator.

      “Who would not want to be like the Creator of the universe?”

      Me. Every theist interpretation of a creator is morally inferior to a decent human being. A deistic interpretation would be too ambiguous to hold appeal. And even if I were alone in not wanting to be blamed for this playground of suffering, such wishful thinking is obviously a motive for deceiving one’s self into believing something that has no connection to reality, i.e. a belief we can create like the Creator. Comparing the creation of the universe, life and moral agents (as the Creator is alleged to have done) to the meager mundane manipulations of matter that we are capable of is blasphemy. Luckily, blasphemy is a victimless crime.

      “If free will is non existent, than why is it an illusion?”

      Because we make choices. And it certainly appears as though we could choose differently. We can even change our minds twelve times inside a minute. Conversely, we can point to or imagine scenarios when we are being strongly and deliberately coerced by other people. And to an extreme, it is possible to point to or imagine situations where even basic choice is removed. “It’s not your fault. You had no choice.” Sometimes such statements are more obviously true than others. By comparison basic choices are relatively free. So they seem free. They feel free. But they are determined by circumstances, internal and external. Seeming to be one thing but actually being something else: illusion.

      “What caused, in the evolution of our minds, the birth of this illusion?”

      Why does the jellyfish make the choices it makes? Why does a honey bee make the choices it makes. Why does a rat make the choices it makes? Why do marmosets or chimps make the choices they do? Surely they all react to their circumstances? That the complexity of understanding of the circumstances changes does change the reactive nature of behavior. Neither does the complexity of motives. From the first-person perspective a voluntary action may seem like a choice but it is merely the response to a more complex algorithm of stimuli. Introspection gives us (and perhaps other animals) the ability to evaluate the choices we make. But by the time that started happening how many millennia had we been giving blame and credit to other group members, animals, natural phenomena and spirits? As a social/moral creature how could we not desire credit and expect blame for our behaviors? It would require a great deal of objectivity and a fairly deliberate suppression of egotism to recognize the deterministic nature of our choices. “What caused… the birth of this illusion?” I would not expect to be able to point to a single cause but rather a confluence of circumstances.

      “Why aren’t all decisions crystal clear to us? Why the struggle? Why the regret?”

      Competing motives and desires. Also, sometimes we recognize that we can’t trust the information we do have. Why doesn’t free will unburden us from this need to consider multiple desires, multiple possible outcomes. For the psychopath there is less struggle. (to be read with irony:) Perhaps psychopaths have free will?

      “Why do people seem to follow their animalistic desires, at times, even when its obviously the wrong and irrational decision?”

      Again, competing motives and desires.

      “Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions” ~David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature (1739)

      There can be practical reasons to do things. But without subjective states nothing would feel meaningful. I’m fond of saying: You can have anything you want, but not everything you want. It’s kind of true. What lends to its truth is that we often have to sacrifice one thing to access another. I doubt I need to cite examples of how some things require great sacrifice. We may be social/moral creatures but we are first creatures. If we don’t take care of our basic needs we are little good to anyone else. Sometimes the selfish wants/needs are perceived to outweigh social responsibilities (social wants/needs.) So, sometimes we act selfishly. Sometimes we even harm ourselves to satisfy a perceived (or actual) selfish need. Chemical dependencies, neuro/psychological imbalance and ideological fervor are the most glaring examples.

      “And why follow reason when the desire is so strong? “

      Again competing motives and desires. Cultural information (as opposed to genetic information) strongly influences our understanding of circumstances regardless of factual bases. If we value reason, if we value avoiding mistakes, if we value not looking like a fool then we are more likely to evaluate what we want against some objective measure. But when we do it’s not because reason itself is stronger than passion, it is because the desire for reason is also a passion which may be the stronger of two (or more) passions.

      Why do people, say, commit suicide?

      I think the most common reasons are sorrow, shame, spite, mental illness, pain, deteriorating health or some combination. If the perceived cost of living is high and the perceived benefit is low or negligible (or the reciprocal view that the benefit of dying is high and the cost is low) then suicide would seem like a rational choice. If it also feels desirable then such a person would have what they perceive to be an at least adequate motive. Chemical dependencies, neuro/psychological imbalance and ideological fervor often crop up as contributing factors. Decisions to suicide seem to follow deterministic preconditions rather than shine as an example of free will.

      • In reply to #297 by AllusiveAtheist:

        There can be practical reasons to do things. But without subjective states nothing would feel meaningful. I’m fond of saying: You can have anything you want, but not everything you want. It’s kind of true. What lends to its truth is that we often have to sacrifice one thing to access another. I doubt I need to cite examples of how some things require great sacrifice.

        Whoa… Wasn’t I trying to convince you of this “sacrifice” idea earlier?

        Free will requires the possibility of a wrong choice (evil). It’s a sacrifice, yes. But nothing good can come without sacrifice.

        What you say above is exactly what I meant. “What lends to its truth is that we often have to sacrifice one thing to access another.” You add:

        I doubt I need to cite examples of how some things require great sacrifice.

        You don’t but I’ll do it to prove my point: To be a truly good person requires great sacrifice: evil. In order to “access” good, one must “sacrifice” the bad. This is the way in which the Creator set up the world. Here, if you follow this link and read the article “If you were G-d,” you’ll understand my position a lot better, I dare say.

        http://www.aish.com/sp/ph/48970646.html

        A “One Source” origin (aside from in the most abstract and indirect sense) is unsubstantiated, and I suspect, unsubsatiatable.

        Isn’t the big bang the leading theory today?

        You are assuming a creator of the universe has free will.

        You’re assuming that I’m assuming when in reality I don’t assume anything, unless subconsciously― which is something we must rid ourselves of and we’ll then make better decisions.

        You should just know that all your questions have been dealt with by countless Jewish philosophers over the past thousands of years. No question has not been turned down by us. In fact, if you want to know why Jews are stereotyped as well educated, its because we’ve always been obligated, for thousands of years, to spend every free moment in our day learning. One of the sages of the Talmud (a massive literature composed by many Rabbis (Rabbi means teacher), again, thousands of years ago) has said that one that translates a verse in the Old Testament literally is a liar. So we spend our whole life elucidating the “book” and uncovering its hidden secrets. On purpose did G-d make the book look absurd sometimes, on the surface, in order to teach us that anything worth having must involve much work. Indeed, diamonds are buried under dirt… But, again, we are not only obligated to study the Bible (we do not take the New Testament as anything but ridiculous, btw); we must study everything: science, math etc. (as decreed by the Bible (Old Testament), the prophets and sages… if you want a source for anything in specific I’ll give it to you).

        The question of, “how do we know that G-d has free will?” is no exception to the above and much ink has surly been spilled on it but the simple answer is that if one believes in G-d its obvious that He must have free will as He tells us this in the Old Testament. And if one believes in Him, surly they’ll take his word for it. The topic more in depth:

        http://www.aish.com/jl/p/mp/48924352.html

        More assumption. You are making assumptions about the creator, the power and our similarity. None of us can create in the manner attributed to the alleged Creator.

        I can point you to my go-to website again but I won’t for I have a feeling you might be slightly annoyed by this method. However, I have done this to show you that what I argue here is much better represented in the form of articles and books as these subjects are endless in their complexities. However, the simple answer to your question is that your right: our physical side is not very much like the Creator. Rather, its our spiritual side that closely mirrors the powers of the Creator. Proof to spirituality is a separate discussion as you certainly understand. My answer has merely answered your specific question in a very specific way.

        Now back to free will…

        Free will might very well be a spiritual entity that is accessed via the physical “illusion” of free will. No belief in G-d certainly = no free will. Atheists that believe in free will are utterly contradictory and senseless.

        It would be up to the Creator to constantly be setting up 50/50 situations for us in which our free will falls in. These situations would present two options in which everything you have described would be equal on both sides. We, knowing the right choice must then use our free will to decide. You might ask: If one knows what the “right choice” is then in reality they have no choice; they’ll for sure choose that, obviously more beneficial option…? The answer is that just because one knows the correct decision in the beginning doesn’t mean that they’ll go in that way. For this is one of the scariest things about life: everyone knows that we have the ability to fall into a hopeless state of self deception. Therefore, one can know the truth but if they so desire can create a new “truth” for themselves. The bottom line is that free will only makes sense when combined with a spiritual self. And again, evidence for spirituality in the world is a separate discussion.

        Me. Every theist interpretation of a creator is morally inferior to a decent human being.

        I challenge you to give me examples and proofs from descriptions of G-ds ways found in scripture and I’ll disprove them and show you how they point to G-d’s Infinite Greatness. (Don’t bother with the New Testament because to me its no more Devine than Harry Potter)

        • In reply to #301 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

          To be a truly good person requires great sacrifice: evil. In order to “access” good, one must “sacrifice” the bad.

          I’m sorry, but I’ve searched the Thesaurus for a word to describe this statement above, and the many more you’ve made below, and the only word I can find is that accurately describes your position is “Hypocrite”. You talk of “Love” and “Hate” and how your god wants you to “Love”. But I’ve have asked this question three times and like Peter in the New Testament, you have denied me three times. Does the “Love” your god demands of you, extend to the Palestinians, whose land Israel is invading by stealth with the illegal settlements. Or is this “Love” like the 10 commandments, only applicable to the Jewish tribe, anyone else you can slash and burn.

          You should just know that all your questions have been dealt with by countless Jewish philosophers over the past thousands of years.

          I despair at how productive the Jewish nation could have been if they hadn’t wasted all this time, effort and resources on trying to read meanings into meaningless words, when you could have spent this time being productive. You might have lead the world in scientific knowledge and been the richest nation on earth. It’s not something that the word “Pride” would apply to.

          Maybe third time lucky, you’ll justify or condemn the settlements. Tick. Tick. Tick…. Crickets chirping.

        • In reply to #301 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

          … I challenge you to give me examples and proofs from descriptions of G-ds ways found in scripture and I’ll disprove them and show you how they point to G-d’s Infinite Greatness. (Don’t bother with the New Testament because to me its no more Devine than Harry Potter)

          Dear Assumptionsaretherootofallevil,

          What is the point of challenging AllusiveAtheist to give you “examples and proofs from descriptions of G-ds ways found in scripture”, when AllusiveAtheist clearly does not accept either the existence of the “G-d” you refer to or this supposed entity’s authorship of the scriptures you mention, and when indeed the establishment of the very existence of this “G-d” and its authorship of the said scriptures still remains entirely unaccomplished? Your presuppositions about the universal significance of those writings which constitute the Hebrew Bible are quite astonishing, given the lack of evidence to back any of it up in real terms. You do not seem to have grasped the difference between logic and truth. You cannot establish the objective reality of something solely by the use of logic; facts, evidence, data – things of that sort – are also necessary. This G-d whereof you write is a mere concept, like that of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, for whose existence, let alone any of its attributes, no evidence has ever been found. You might as well attribute the origin of the universe to your fairy godmother or to the ever-elusive Bugs Bunny. It is truly amazing how, with the aid of logic and grammar and selected verses from ancient writings, you write at wondrous length about something for the existence of which not a skerrick of evidence is available, yet you seem to think your screeds should be taken seriously!

        • In reply to #301 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

          ” Whoa… Wasn’t I trying to convince you of this “sacrifice” idea earlier?”

          It seemed as though you were saying because free will requires sacrifice, sacrifice implies free will. But they are far from bi-conditional. You also said good requires sacrifice to which I responded everything thing requires sacrifice. So I don’t know why my statement about sacrifice is a revelation to you nor why you should think a world of sacrifice (and suffering) is the best possible creation for a benevolent Creator.

          Your link leads to a straw man argument. The author must be very proud. We are the way we are because it is the way were are made, either by nature or creation. If it is by creation then the creator is, at best, incompetent. Apathetic, criminally negligent and malicious are other possibilities. We are working “as designed.” Whether the designer was nature or creator, the designer has earned at least as much blame as it has credit. If I design and build an airplane, and it won’t fly, it’s not the airplane’s fault.

          assumptionsaretherootofallevil says:

          Love and hate and everything else in the world would have to have originated from One Source.

          allusiveatheist says:

          A “One Source” origin (aside from in the most abstract and indirect sense) is unsubstantiated, and I suspect, unsubsatiatable.

          assumptionsaretherootofallevil says:

          “Isn’t the big bang the leading theory today?”

          I apologize for my poor wording. The implication in you use of “One Source” is one of divinity. Otherwise I doubt you would have bothered with the capitalization. If you were implying the possibility of a non-divine “One Source” I would have written the same thing but with a slightly different intent. The big bang is not a source of the origin of the universe. Rather, I is the origin. The source, be it from nothing, one or more non-magical sources, one or more magical sources or perhaps things yet undreamt of in our philosophy, would be more of a how and why explanation for the occurrence of the big bang.

          As for love and hate, indirectly and abstractly the big bang would be a source.

          allusiveatheist says:

          You are assuming a creator of the universe has free will.

          assumptionsaretherootofallevil says:

          “You’re assuming that I’m assuming… “

          You would be the first theist I know of to suggest their god lacked free will. But more than that, you have stated that the creations of the Creator have free will, and that the concept of free will makes no sense in the absence of a Creator. Are you really suggesting you believe in and are devout to a god that lacks free will but who could and did imbue (some of) it’s creations with free will? I could picture such a model if the concept of free will in subjective entities made sense. I suppose I just want you, for entertainment purposes, to to claim that YHWH lacks free will. Or were you assuming that I was assuming you were assuming?

          Oh wait,

          ‘ …”how do we know that G-d has free will?”… but the simple answer is that if one believes in G-d its obvious that He must have free will as He tells us this in the Old Testament.’

          Nevermind. I guess I wasn’t assuming. Oy gevalt.

          “You should just know that all your questions have been dealt with by countless Jewish philosophers over the past thousands of years.”

          This sounds suspiciously like an argument from authority. In the three thousand years of Israelite literacy if they hadn’t acquired some genuine wisdom. But in any case wherein an intellectual or philosophical inquiry begins with a set of faulty assumptions, and those faulty assumptions are the one thing that can’t be sacrificed then mountains of rationalizations are to be expected. The age of the ideology only impresses upon me the gullibility of man. 3500 years of propping up an unfounded assumption is embarrassing.

          And if one believes in Him, surly they’ll take his word for it. The topic more in depth:

          The problem with circular reasoning is not one of depth, it’s that one or more of the premises rely on the conclusion. That one way to support a myth for 3500 years.

          …if you want a source for anything in specific I’ll give it to you

          1 Who wrote the Pentateuch? The Documentary hypothesis is a good place to begin.
          2 What happened to the Canaanites? Were they destroyed by the Israelites or did they become the Israelites later to be edited into extinction by those trusted to preserve the sacred writings?
          3 Why did early Israelites worship the same gods that the Canaanites did? (You might see how this ties into the second question.)
          4 When did early Israelite scribes start using vowels? Could the lack of vowels in earlier writings been mis-transcribed, deliberately or otherwise?

          I can point you to my go-to website again but I won’t for I have a feeling you might be slightly annoyed by this method.

          The content is factitious (full disclosure I’m basing that on a small sampling) and the writing is mediocre. So, yea, kind of annoyed. I’m also jealous because the moderators here never let me plug my website.

          However, I have done this to show you that what I argue here is much better represented in the form of articles and books as these subjects are endless in their complexities.

          I have to admit they’ve certainly impressed you.

          Rather, its our spiritual side that closely mirrors the powers of the Creator.

          Nope. I nor anyone else can closely mirror creating a universe with our spiritual sides. Neither are we any good at closely mirroring miracles or divine intervention that are attributed to YHWH. I can’t decide if this statement is wrong or just meaningless.

          Proof to spirituality is a separate discussion as you certainly understand. My answer has merely answered your specific question in a very specific way.

          Your plate is already full with not making any of your other points. Thank you for not changing the subject.

          Free will might very well be a spiritual entity that is accessed via the physical “illusion” of free will.

          Similar to mind vs. body dualism, you are speculating a mind-body vs spirit/soul dualism. Been there, done that. As we are bound by physical laws, any supernatural (spirit, soul, god, whatever) influence on the material world would require a violation of the laws of thermodynamics. That’s a lot of violation. A lot. I hate to use absence of evidence as evidence of absence but it’s a little suspicious that all this ostensibly supernatural influence has gone undetected.

          Atheists that believe in free will are utterly contradictory and senseless.

          For anyone who hasn’t given a fair amount of consideration to determinism, free will is the default position. But even with a spiritual guide, that is part of who we are, how can we claim to have free will other than assuming our non-corporeal aspect has free will AND control over the rest of us? And unless this non-corporeal aspect is objective (lacks preferences) it cannot have free will as preferences are inducements. Regardless, our behavior and beliefs are entirely reliant on perceived consequences. (That ‘s a pretty bold and general statement. It should be easy to find holes in it.)

          It would be up to the Creator to constantly be setting up 50/50 situations for us in which our free will falls in.

          That is a thoroughly dehumanizing scenario.

          These situations would present two options in which everything you have described would be equal on both sides. We, knowing the right choice must then use our free will to decide. You might ask: If one knows what the “right choice” is then in reality they have no choice; they’ll for sure choose that, obviously more beneficial option…? The answer is that just because one knows the correct decision in the beginning doesn’t mean that they’ll go in that way.

          50/50 situations don’t exist. Well, perhaps, but they are very rare. We make choices based on perceived consequences, even if what is perceived is perceived as the will of god. It reminds me of the joke: I prayed for a bike but didn’t get one. The rabbi told me God doesn’t work that way. So I stole one and asked God for forgiveness.

          ” …everyone knows that we have the ability to fall into a hopeless state of self deception.”

          Sadly, most people I know spend most of their lives with a self-important skewed view of just about everything and assume everyone is wrong.

          Therefore, one can know the truth but if they so desire can create a new “truth” for themselves.

          Yes, I’ve seen someone do this very recently.

          The bottom line is that free will only makes sense when combined with a spiritual self.

          Not even then. Let me put another log on the fire. Throughout the domain of social animals a common thread is empathy. It is more apparent in some creatures than others. The amount of empathy present in an individual is not a matter of choice. Humans may be the exception. We can to a degree reprogram our impulses. We can make an effort to be more empathetic or cynical with varying degrees of success. But where we start is largely genetic and partially cultural. Our initial empathy is the product either of nature or a creator. Let me quote myself: “We are the way we are because it is the way were are made, either by nature or creation. If it is by creation then the creator is, at best, incompetent. Apathetic, criminally negligent and malicious are other possibilities. We are working “as designed.” Whether the designer was nature or creator, the designer has earned at least as much blame as it has credit.”

          I challenge you to give me examples and proofs from descriptions of G-ds ways found in scripture and I’ll disprove them and show you how they point to G-d’s Infinite Greatness.

          Let’s continue with my last point and start at the beginning. God creates man and a temptation. Who made the man? Who made him the way he is? Was God so foolish that he made man curious put a temptation in front of him (which would not have been tempting if God had not made man that way) and just expect nothing would go wrong? Now what decent person would create this situation, having to know what would happen, just so they could punish their creation for behaving in a manner consistent with their design? That’s f***ing sick.

          (Don’t bother with the New Testament because to me its no more Devine than Harry Potter)

          Harry Potter is a much better source of moral inspiration than the Fifty Shades of Gray/Old Testament.

          • In reply to #320 by AllusiveAtheist:

            It seemed as though you were saying because free will requires sacrifice, sacrifice implies free will. But they are far from bi-conditional. You also said good requires sacrifice to which I responded everything thing requires sacrifice.

            I was not trying to prove anything with the sacrifice bit, in terms of the existence of free will. I was merely trying to prove that, “without subjective states nothing would feel meaningful.” And you seemed to confirm this when you said just that:

            There can be practical reasons to do things. But without subjective states nothing would feel meaningful.

            Of course “everything requires sacrifice.” If one wants to be evil they must sacrifice being good. So when I say that good requires sacrifice, I am not excluding the fact that evil does as well.

            Your link leads to a straw man argument. The author must be very proud. We are the way we are because it is the way were are made, either by nature or creation. If it is by creation then the creator is, at best, incompetent. Apathetic, criminally negligent and malicious are other possibilities.

            This is not a proper response to the authors article. Firstly because you have not stated his argument in order to show that you understand it. And secondly, you have not, in a clear way, refuted his argument. Hint: “We are the way we are because…” is not what he’s trying to argue.

            The source, be it from nothing, one or more non-magical sources, one or more magical sources or perhaps things yet undreamt of in our philosophy, would be more of a how and why explanation for the occurrence of the big bang.

            You have zero evidence for this and therefore can not substantiate it. First, I repeat, the idea that something can come from nothing is absurd. Nothing is nothing. If something came from nothing, that nothing would not be nothing. Therefore, something can not come from nothing. Krauss can redefine the word “nothing” all he wants. He can try and convince us that “nothing” contains physics with in it and therefore is something and therefore something can come from “nothing…” But wait… Krauss’s definition of nothing starts with something so he’s really trying to prove that something can come from something???

            Even if there are multiple sources to the universes existence, where would they have come from? You can only go so far back before they must have come from nothing. From nothing? Oh, their eternal?

            “The same two principles apply. If the process of everything getting its existence from something else went on to infinity, then the thing in question would never [have] existence. And if the thing has … existence then the process hasn’t gone on to infinity. There was something that had existence without having to receive it from something else…” (Richard Purtill, quoted by Charles Taliaferro, Contemporary Philosophy of Religion (Blackwell, 2001), pp.358-359.)

            Nevermind. I guess I wasn’t assuming. Oy gevalt.

            You said something a long the lines of me “assuming” that a Creator would have to have free will. Here it is, your very own words:

            You are assuming a creator of the universe has free will.

            An assumption is something that has no “reason” to fall back on or back it up. The “assumption” of “a creator of the universe has free will” does have reasons on which its backed. In fact, you gave some pretty good reasons yourself:

            Are you really suggesting you believe in and are devout to a god that lacks free will but who could and did imbue (some of) it’s creations with free will?

            Of course a Creator of free will must have free will! That’s all I was saying. As for whether or not we have free will, separate topic. So my assumption was reasonable after all and therefore more of a “reasonable idea” rather than an “assumption.” SHTUCH!!

            This sounds suspiciously like an argument from authority. In the three thousand years of Israelite literacy if they hadn’t acquired some genuine wisdom. But in any case wherein an intellectual or philosophical inquiry begins with a set of faulty assumptions, and those faulty assumptions are the one thing that can’t be sacrificed then mountains of rationalizations are to be expected. The age of the ideology only impresses upon me the gullibility of man. 3500 years of propping up an unfounded assumption is embarrassing.

            First of all, you don’t learn our literature and therefore can’t say that it lacks even “some genuine wisdom.” Indeed this would be a risky thing to say as our literature is massive. Second: What set of faulty assumptions did we begin with? Have you not heard, the simple argument from design?

            1 Who wrote the Pentateuch? The Documentary hypothesis is a good place to begin. 2 What happened to the Canaanites? Were they destroyed by the Israelites or did they become the Israelites later to be edited into extinction by those trusted to preserve the sacred writings? 3 Why did early Israelites worship the same gods that the Canaanites did? (You might see how this ties into the second question.) 4 When did early Israelite scribes start using vowels? Could the lack of vowels in earlier writings been mis-transcribed, deliberately or otherwise?

            1) Moses, instructed by G-d (source: the Old Testament obviously) 2) and 3) The Canaanites were all destroyed or left. A bit might have remained and this might have caused some Israelites to “go off the path” and rebel against the teachings of the Torah. But not all of them fell to this; there were always monotheistic Israelites. 4) You don’t need vowels to read Hebrew; I do it all the time… do you even know Hebrew? Besides, how do you know that ALL earlier scribes didn’t use vowels? Did you go through all the manuscripts? Were you there?

            Nope. I nor anyone else can closely mirror creating a universe with our spiritual sides. Neither are we any good at closely mirroring miracles or divine intervention that are attributed to YHWH. I can’t decide if this statement is wrong or just meaningless.

            You speak like you know what “spirituality” is and what it can accomplish. Maybe I have a different definition of spirituality then you.

            As we are bound by physical laws, any supernatural (spirit, soul, god, whatever) influence on the material world would require a violation of the laws of thermodynamics.

            Please explain.

            (That ‘s a pretty bold and general statement. It should be easy to find holes in it.)

            Maybe it is… but being Atheist is to.

            Let’s continue with my last point and start at the beginning. God creates man and a temptation. Who made the man? Who made him the way he is? Was God so foolish that he made man curious put a temptation in front of him (which would not have been tempting if God had not made man that way) and just expect nothing would go wrong? Now what decent person would create this situation, having to know what would happen, just so they could punish their creation for behaving in a manner consistent with their design? That’s f***ing sick.

            Firstly, by cursing, you are saying that you do not expect a reasonable response and are therefore showing yourself off as biased and unwilling to consider, even consider the other side, even before its been said.

            The answer is that G-d did expect that something could go wrong but he also gave us the tools to overcome it. What if we don’t overcome it? That’s completely our choice. We were given free will. Anyway this goes back to the beginning this comment.

            Harry Potter is a much better source of moral inspiration than the Fifty Shades of Gray/Old Testament.

            Examples please.

          • In reply to #323 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

            ITherefore, something can not come from nothing. Krauss can redefine the word “nothing” all he wants. He can try and convince us that “nothing” contains physics with in it and therefore is something and therefore something can come from “nothing…” But wait… Krauss’s definition of nothing starts with something so he’s really trying to prove that something can come from something???

            You misunderstand Krauss. Krauss’s nothing exists within you. It exists everywhere. It is universal. He is using the term in a scientific way, not a philosophical way, which is the mistake you, your expert, and many others make. It doesn’t matter whether it is before or after the big bang, it is inevitable that quantum fluctuations will occur. If they occur, they create something from a scientific nothing. Something that has no prior anything. Energy, matter, stuff that you can touch, even you, from a zero / null / nyet / שום דבר. If by chance, quantum chance, one of these fluctuations goes on to inflation, you get to exist and invent god and type in this forum.

            God’s not necessary any more.

          • In reply to #328 by David R Allen:

            It is universal. He is using the term in a scientific way, not a philosophical way, which is the mistake you, your expert, and many others make.

            There can’t be such thing as a scientific nothing then because by labeling it and putting it in a category… such as “scientific” you are defining it and putting properties to it. It is therefore not correctly called “nothing.” Call it whatever you want but don’t call it nothing! Its something, since you are describing it, its something. “nothing” can only be described and defined as “nothing.”

            What caused the quantum fluctuations?? How’d they come about??

          • In reply to #330 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

            In reply to #328 by David R Allen:
            There can’t be such thing as a scientific nothing then because by labeling it and putting it in a category… such as “scientific” you are defining it and putting properties to it. It is therefore not correctly called “nothing.”

            This is philosophy at work, …. again. If A, then B. If then, else, not and nor. Maths. Measurements. Observations. Predictions. Experiments. = science.

            You may not be able to envisage a “Nothing” in the terms that Krauss describes, but I can. You may not be able to accept that god is not necessary for the universe to exist, but I can. You are exhibiting classic religious psychological symptoms. It is the hurdle you cannot, and probably never will be able to overcome.

            You say:- “Because I can’t understand something. No one can. Therefore it must be god.”

            I’m sure you’ve heard of “God of the Gaps.” Your argument is classic “God of the Gaps”. But other people can, and do understand it. Me for instance. Many of the people who understand the answers to the questions you ask, live in this forum and tell you the explanations, repeatedly. The fact that science does not know the answer to something now, or may never understand the answer, doesn’t mean there isn’t an answer, and it never invokes the need for a god. It’s just left at “We don’t know” (yet) Reaching for the “god” explanation off the shelf every time you hit a hurdle just indicates your thinking can travel only so far, then hits a mental block, which invokes god.

            On the theme of this topic, if prayer did work, then I would pray that someday you would understand science, and be liberated from your religious shackles.

            What causes quantum fluctuations. Refer to the quote above, then this answer. I can, but you can’t.

            Delta E Delta t approx {h over 2 pi}

  75. In response cumbriasmithy #269 Read the whole of #63 again more carefully, Pinball. I stick by it.

    Yes I read it again before I posted, you are sticking by it noted.

    Pinball #268 I would respect you a little bit if you admitted that you have no idea if prayer works or not.
    Cumbria replied Likewise

    You really think I am not being honest about prayer?
    You think deep down I think prayer could work?
    You forget I was a Christian for years and prayed a lot during that time, so I know it does not work from personal experience.
    Also we used to pray as a family, school, congregation and sometimes as Catholics if the bishop had requested a mass prayer session for a particular cause.
    That never worked either.
    Finally if stories of killer Jesus statues, collapsing churches and typhoid out breaks at a Lourdes prayer frenzy does not raise even the slightest doubt in your mind, then you are just not being honest with the reality.

    Cumbria #269 I suggest you try John Lennox, Ravi Zacharius, Frank Turek, Matt Slick, William Lane Craig,…

    For what? Guidance on what prayer is? I have seen Lennox and Lane Craig in debates and was not impressed.

    I have also seen Hovind (absolute joke) Dinesh De Sousa, Peter Hitchens, Tony Blair, David Wolpe among others all argue on the side of the apologists.

    Only the most fragile deist argument has any sort of legs mainly because it is impossible to disprove, either way it does not help you out with jesus ignoring prayers.

  76. If God has stated that he will not intervene why do religious people pray?

    Back all the way to the OP, I think the question is incorrectly phrased. God hasn’t stated that he will not intervene. Quite the contrary, in fact. The Bible alone is rife with examples where God has specifically said that he is perfectly willing to intervene whenever anybody asks him to do so (in faith, of course). For example:

    • “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” (Matthew 7:7)

    • “Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 18:19)

    • “And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.” (Matthew 21:22)

    • “Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” (Mark 11:24)

    • “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.” (John 14:13-14)

    • “And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.” (John 16:23)

    The real question, then, is “If God has stated that he will intervene when religious people pray, why do religious people continue to believe in God when most of their prayers go unanswered?”

    The answer to this question is usually a combination of the following responses:

    • “God promised to answer all prayers, but sometimes the answer is ‘No.’” Except, of course, that God didn’t just promise to “answer” prayers — he actually promised to give whatever was asked for.

    • “God works in mysterious ways.” Which means what, exactly? That God is allowed to lie whenever he wants? That we can’t take anything the scriptures say at face value, since God is a trickster? That God likes playing mind games with us?

    What it boils down to is that religious people pray because they have been taught that God answers prayers. The bit about God “not intervening” is just non-scriptural rationalization to deal with the cognitive dissonance that comes from having your strongly held beliefs proved false again and again and again.

  77. So, in reply to the two previous posts, let’s consider a hypothesis whereby God (assuming He exists) were to answer every prayer, as Jesus suggests in the gospels. Would that change humanity for the better?

    • In reply to #275 by CumbriaSmithy:

      So, in reply to the two previous posts, let’s consider a hypothesis whereby God (assuming He exists) were to answer every prayer, as Jesus suggests in the gospels. Would that change humanity for the better?

      No. If every time we had a problem, if we could get an instant solution, we would have never left the trees. “More fruit please.” “Can you zap that leopard creeping around down there.” “I fancy that female Australopithecus in the neighbouring tribe.” Etc. Would have made us lazy. Would have stifled creativity and innovation. We would not have evolved. No survival advantage if prayer’s are answered. Proof that prayer doesn’t work.

      • In reply to #277 by David R Allen:

        We would not have evolved.

        only if we were not given any education. There was an old Star Trek episode The Apple, that dealt with this. They got to a planet where the humans lived in a garden of eve of love and peace and no greed and they shared everything . Also they got whatever they needed from their god, which was some machine in the end.
        Also this one http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Way_to_Eden which explored morality …

        I think that the nature of the universe is to struggle to survive and that it is impulse towards evolution.

      • In reply to #277 by David R Allen:

        No survival advantage if prayer’s are answered. Proof that prayer doesn’t work.

        … either that, or God actually knows what He’s doing by appearing to not answer prayer.

        • In reply to #280 by CumbriaSmithy:

          In reply to #277 by David R Allen:

          No survival advantage if prayer’s are answered. Proof that prayer doesn’t work.

          … either that, or God actually knows what He’s doing by appearing to not answer prayer.

          You mean Like a Father who does not want to spoil his child ? So if someone prays for the cancer god gave them to go away and get cured and stop suffering, god simply ignores them for their own good ?

          He appears to not answer ? As opposed to when he does answer ? Because we can tell between the two since he answers regularly just not when we need it.

          • In reply to #281 by GFZ:

            So if someone prays for the cancer god gave them to go away and get cured and stop suffering, god simply ignores them for their own good?

            See #275.

          • In reply to #282 by CumbriaSmithy:

            In reply to #281 by GFZ:

            So if someone prays for the cancer god gave them to go away and get cured and stop suffering, god simply ignores them for their own good?

            See #275.

            This, even by your standards is a bit incomprehensible. Can I suggest, if you want to tell us something, just spell it out. This short two minute video from Life of Brian is appropriate for this post, and in particular, post 280. “Only the true Messiah denies his divinity.”

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0uMJYQ9LKGQ

          • In reply to #283 by David R Allen:

            In reply to #282 by CumbriaSmithy:
            My favorite movie of all time second to jesus christ superstar because the music was better…. ;)

            I think that because there is no god or at least not in our dimension where we can communicate etc. There is not much one can say about this except it’s tough luck if your prayer is not answered. Blame yourself for being less pious than necessary and as a result being ignored. Which is odd that even the pope gets ignored by god. Otherwise there would be peace on earth and everyone would work towards the better good of the planet.

            But because jesus already died and then relived for our sins, that gives us carte blanche to keep on sinning and pay the piper on the way out. That was a big mistake. The only way people learn from their mistakes is by paying for them in a timely manner.

            This whole gods and jesus business is such delusion which can only be true in the minds of believers. It warps the mind just thinking about it.

            I prefer to warp my mind with astrophysics …

          • In reply to #284 by GFZ:

            In reply to #283 by David R Allen:

            There is not much one can say about this except it’s tough luck if your prayer is not answered. Blame yourself for being less pious than necessary and as a result being ignored.

            This is what I was trying to get out in my Psychological Profile of God. If god was a classmate at school, no one would like him. No one would play with him in the playground. He would get a poor report card from the teachers for his social skills. What sort of “@#$basket” is god that he behaves like this. It’s narcissistic, verging on psychopathic. Not someone I want to pray to. And yet this is Cumbria’s role model.

          • In reply to #281 by GFZ:

            I’ve heard it said that god always answers, though perhaps not in the affirmative. He may choose to answer in such a way that it’s in your ultimate best interest for your child to suffer an agonising death because it teaches you humility, or some such ludicrous rationalisation. We, ( poor ignorant souls that we are), just have to put our faith in the skills of other flawed human beings.

            At some level, these pathetic attempts for an excuse, must be understood by the believer, however they’re pushed into the dark recesses of the believer’s brain never to be confronted.

          • In reply to #286 by Nitya:

            In reply to #281 by GFZ:
            they’re pushed into the dark recesses of the believer’s brain never to be confronted.

            Yes it is selective ignorance.

            My mother and I would have these arguments. I would tell her prayer dos nothing and neither does god and she just says to me “He does, yes he does you will see” ….

            But then I point out all of her prayers that never got answered. What about that ? She never has an answer just shrugs her shoulders. My mother prays in the morning before getting out of bed and at night. Since I can remember as a child she did. It did not help. Not my brother who was born premature and there was a quake causing electrical failure and he died suffocated in the incubator . Lasted nine hours. I am sure she prayed for him to make it.

            Then one of her brothers, died in a plane crash , she had to go recognize the body. I could tell you how many awful things have happened to her, to us. Yet not one prayer has been answered not in the very least.

            It is an idea that is brainwashed in the individual and they can’t seem to break out from that delusion. Specially if they don’t have an education that involved science.

    • In reply to #275 by CumbriaSmithy:

      So, in reply to the two previous posts, let’s consider a hypothesis whereby God (assuming He exists) were to answer every prayer, as Jesus suggests in the gospels. Would that change humanity for the better?

      If yes then it’s obvious that bastard is just being selfish.

      If no then he shouldn’t have god-breathed such silly promises into his inerrant word.

      (I hope the sarcasm comes though. I was laying it on pretty thick.)

  78. In reply to #275 by CumbriaSmithy:

    So, in reply to the two previous posts, let’s consider a hypothesis whereby God (assuming He exists) were to answer every prayer, as Jesus suggests in the gospels. Would that change humanity for the better?

    I think that if god can provide a place like the garden of Eden for everyone on the planet and keep everyone happy like the gods on Olympus then people would not need to pray for things.

    The concept of praying and wishing is tied directly to Misery. If there is no more Misery then there is no need to pray and god would have fulfilled his promise.

  79. In reply to cumbria#275 So, in reply to the two previous posts, let’s consider a hypothesis whereby God (assuming He exists) were to answer every prayer, as Jesus suggests in the gospels. Would that change humanity for the better?

    You suggested it would lead to chaos and it would.
    The laws of physics and biology would have to be constantly stopped in their tracks and there would be some logical conflicts too.
    Three suitors praying for the same woman’s hand in marriage or two opposing armies praying for victory.
    Jesus did not have the power to grant these things, no one has.

  80. Sometimes we deserve something and G-d might want to give it to us. But, if we won’t even have the care to take that first step and at least ask, why should we get anything, even what we deserve? We have to at least recognize the Source for everything and then perhaps, if we deserve what we ask for, our wishes will be granted. That’s one of many many answers to the “why pray?” question.

    As for the question of “why evil in the world?” that’s a separate discussion.

  81. *in reply to # 280 by Cumbriasmithy

    No survival advantage if prayer’s are answered. Proof that prayer doesn’t work.
    … either that, or God actually knows what He’s doing by appearing to not answer prayer.*

    A god appearing not to answer, one that simply does not answer and a nonexistent god have exactly the same influence in response to prayer.
    They are not answered.
    Jesus stated that prayers would be answered but we know this is not the case.
    So either Jesus was deluded and nothing to do with a god, or Jesus was a god and both he and god (God dad) have deliberately misled people for 2000yrs.

    Your claims and excuses are morally bankrupt and absurd.
    It is obvious no such being exists and if you were not so terrified of death, you would have the courage to address it.

    We cannot stop this sort of irrational thinking but we can write to our local government representative, requesting our taxies are not spent on faith schools promoting this primitive nonsense.

    We need to keep people like you away from school children and government policy committees at all costs.

  82. In reply to# 290 Assumptionsartheofallevil
    The only fathomable way that something could have came from nothing is if it was willed by a Creator that exists outside of everything we know.

    You cannot really logic or philosophize this into some sort of common-sense frame work. Singularities, general/special relativity, the quantum nature of matter, space, energy and nothing do not work in this way.
    Feynman, Dirac, Casimiri, Hawking all used various something from nothing type scenarios in their work and virtual particles, quantum vacuum properites Hawking radiation are just a few features.
    Laurence Krauss summarizes a lot of this work in his book a Universe from nothing and outlines some his own research in this area.
    If you have not already I would read a general overview of the BB first. A brief history of time is a good place to start then A universe from nothing would follow on from that.
    The fabric of the universe is great book by Brian Greene.
    Quantum by Manjit Kumar or Quantum a guide for the perplexed by Jim Al Kalili, are good overview books on the very small.
    I will be checking out Laura Mersini Houghton, David Allen’s recommendation.
    I would also read about inflation / Alan Guth, this talks of other universes popping out of nothing as a feature of inflation during the early universe (stupefying early!)
    Guth and inflation are mentioned in the most of the overview books.
    I am not sure how your physics is (I did up to 16 then stopped) but I would give you a tip when reading this stuff, everything you think you know about space, time and nothing forget it!
    It is great stuff though it really is.

  83. In reply to #286 by Nitya:

    I’ve heard it said that god always answers, though perhaps not in the affirmative.

    Very bluntly put (Hitchens?), came in the form of “a little boy prayed for a puppy – next morning there was a puppy, but dead.”

    pushed into the dark recesses…

    Cognitive dissonance. To paraphrase Hitch > atheism is the only way to not have it. RAmen.

  84. In reply to David R Allen #302 despair at how productive the Jewish nation could have been if they hadn’t wasted all this time, effort and resources on trying to read meanings into meaningless words.

    And Christian and Hindu and Islamic…

    I don’t think Einstein did so bad considering his heritage though!

    Admittedly the god question seemed to be little more than annoying distraction from what I have read about him.

    What I do not understand about the big philosophical debate that is going on here, is that there are clearly far more interesting and real ways to look at the nature and origin of the universe and the nature and origin of man.

    Even if you are a thinking theist and would like to know how god could have pulled off existing forever outside of space and time, knowing everything, being everywhere at once and manage to conjure up the universe, would it not be a good idea to at least try and get a grasp of what has been discovered and verified so far?

    Things like big bang, expansion, inflation and the quantum nature of matter seem to be mentioned as an aside to main event.

    Those things ARE the main events what else is there that we can be certain of?

    You may as well discuss gods gender, it gets you nowhere and it ends up as just word play and meaningless, philosophical meandering on points that are neither measurable, verifiable or falsifiable.

    • In reply to #306 by Pinball1970:

      You may as well discuss gods gender, it gets you nowhere and it ends up as just word play and meaningless, philosophical meandering on points that are neither measurable, verifiable or falsifiable.

      I concur with your post. Why waste time on an impossible question. We’ve got an universal mass of possible questions with fascinating and important outcomes.

    • In reply to #306 by Pinball1970:

      Even if you are a thinking theist and would like to know how god could have pulled off existing forever outside of space and time, knowing everything, being everywhere at once and manage to conjure up the universe, would it not be a good idea to at least try and get a grasp of what has been discovered and verified so far?

      Yes! It would be a spectacular idea! In fact the Torah requires this study…

      “If someone says to you, ‘there is wisdom among the nations of the world,’ believe it” (Midrash Eichah Rabbiti 2:13)

      “He who knows how to calculate the cycles and planetary courses, but does not, of him Scripture says, ‘but they regard not the work of the Lord, neither have they considered the operation of his hands’ (Isaiah 5:12) How do we know that it is ones duty to calculate the cycles and planetary courses? Because it is written, ‘for this is your wisdom and understanding in sight of the peoples’ (Deuteronomy 4:6). What wisdom and understanding is in the sight of the peoples? Say, that is the science of cycles and planets.”

      • Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 75a

      “Consequently, he who wishes to attain to human perfection must FIRST study logic, next the various branches of mathematics in their proper order, than physics, and lastly metaphysics.” (Maimonides, The Guide to the Perplexed, book 1, 34)

      “The sages attached religious dignity and integrity to science, both as human wisdom and as an insight into the Devine wisdom evident in the cosmos.” (Rabbi Sacks)

  85. In reply to assumptionsaret rootofallevil# 309
    Yes! It would be a spectacular idea! In fact the Torah requires this study…
    “If someone says to you, ‘there is wisdom among the nations of the world,’ believe it” (Midrash Eichah Rabbiti 2:13)

    I will combine a reply with a question from David R Allen on occupied territory.

    If your religion tells you to investigate and study then that is great.

    Do you will agree though, that the necessity of study is apparent by observation? Language skills help communicating ideas, maths communicate process & formulae? scientific achievements illustrate the fact that science works so we should trust its method possibly?

    Praying never cured anyone of cancer or put men on the moon (Cumbria may give you a good argument though)
    So as with morality, study and scientific study in particular should not need a revelation to instruct us to its value or the need to develop it.

    You are assuming that the passages you quoted on study are a direct revelation from YHWH
    If they are not then this is just a historical overspill of a tribal war, a horrible mistake.

    We have enough current examples of pointless tribal wars holding back civilized development to demonstrate this sort of primitive territorialism can and does happen.
    What if the fight between Islam and Judaism in the occupied territory, is no more about YHWH’s instruction than the Lou Nuer and Murle’s conflict in Africa is?
    Taking god out of the equation for both sides just leaves one rich tribe bullying its poorer neighbour

    • In reply to #322 by Pinball1970:

      Do you will agree though, that the necessity of study is apparent by observation? Language skills help communicating ideas, maths communicate process & formulae? scientific achievements illustrate the fact that science works so we should trust its method possibly?

      All good stuff yes.

      You are assuming that the passages you quoted on study are a direct revelation from YHWH If they are not then this is just a historical overspill of a tribal war, a horrible mistake.

      You are assuming that the passages I quoted on study are just a “historical overspill” and not a direct revelation from G-d.

      As for morality, without G-d morality is in the eyes of the beholder. For who knows whose justifications are true? Free riders?

  86. *In reply to David R Allen #327

    It goes down hill from there with stuff like this.

    1) Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause. 2) The universe exists. 3) Therefore the universe has an explanation of its existence. 4) If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God. 5) Therefore, the explanation of the universe’s existence is God.*

    This just sounds like a rip off of the Aquinus 5 ways, someone needs to tell the guy he is 800 years out of date.

  87. In reply to #332 by Nitya:

    The scientific definition of nothing is different, as strange as it may seem.

    Ok, I get it. But why call it nothing if its really something? “Nothing” is used to describe the absence of existence. Kind of how a lot of Atheists would describe Atheism as the absence of belief, not the belief in non-belief. And yes, since “nothing” is used to describe nothing or the absence of existence, “nothing” doesn’t actually exist. The only thing we know about “nothing” is that its the opposite of something. So the fact that science is now trying to assign scientific properties to “nothing,” is completely absurd and oxymoronic to me. Call it something else, just don’t call it nothing. Why in the world does science now feel a need to define and add properties to the word “nothing?” Just leave the word alone and accept the fact that nothing, by definition, does not exist and therefore can’t be broken down scientifically!

    The only physical freedom that such nothingness could have is the freedom to expand or contract, depending on the nature of this nothingness.

    The “nature” of this “nothingness????????????????????” The “freedom????????” The “physical freedom????????” Have people lost the ability to understand the simple term, “nothing?” It means what it says, its nothing! Once we start saying that “nothing” is physical, this “nothing” is no longer nothing. Rather, its “something” which is physical…. and has the freedom…. expand and contract…

    • In reply to #333 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

      Hi AATROAE. Words vary in meaning depending on the context in which they’re used all the time! Take “free” for example. We think that we are “free”here in a democratic country. But we are not “free”! If we were, life would be chaos. We are definitely not “free”; we are subject to all kinds of restraints on our liberty and it’s well that this should be. I’m sure that David R Allen could supply a great many words pertaining to the law, that do not represent their everyday meaning. So it is with science.

      • In reply to #334 by Nitya:

        Hi AATROAE. Words vary in meaning depending on the context in which they’re used all the time!

        I know. But, that’s not my point. My point is that Krauss and company have obviously set out to answer the age old question of, how can something come from nothing? This question is what forced Aristotle to believe in an eternal universe that has no beginning and will have no end (as just as something can’t come from nothing, neither can nothing come from something).

        Now Krauss has the audacity to try and give a different answer to the question? And his first step is to redefine “nothing” as “something?” Oh! now I see, Krauss, if you define nothing as something than now something can come from nothing… but I forgot! Nothing is now something! So what’s Krauss trying to prove? That something can come from something? Genius.

        I don’t mind if Krauss changes the definition of nothing to mean something (I find that’s its unproductive and silly) but in the end of the day, why should I care? Let him use the word completely out of “context.” I do mind that he’s claiming to answer the question of how something from nothing by claiming that nothing is really something and then still having the chutzpah to claim that this something is really nothing.

        Changing definitions of the most simple of words is nice but that kind of exercise can’t be expected to answer the big questions. At least Aristotle has a reasonable attempt at an answer.

        • In reply to #338 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

          … My point is that Krauss and company have obviously set out to answer the age old question of, how can something come from nothing? …

          I don’t think he has tried to answer any age-old philosophical question. His work may help us to realise that the age-old question was never worth asking anyway, because it doesn’t reflect the reality of nothing’s being an unstable state that – of course – “wants” to become stable. Age-old philosophy never appreciated that.

          Any redefining is of the question itself.

          • In reply to #339 by Pabmusic:

            I don’t think he has tried to answer any age-old philosophical question. His work may help us to realise that the age-old question was never worth asking anyway,

            And why is it not worth asking? And why does Krauss then feel a need to redefine a question? Let him ask his own questions and ignore the “silly” philosophical ones!

        • In reply to #338 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

          For most of the population the everyday meaning of the word “nothing” to describe the time before the “Big Bang” is perfectly adequate. Krauss simply pushes it one step further in his quest to gain an even clearer explanation of how the universe came into existence.

          • In reply to #340 by Nitya:

            For most of the population the everyday meaning of the word “nothing” to describe the time before the “Big Bang” is perfectly adequate.

            But why is it perfectly “adequate?” Do you believe in magic? Just as we don’t randomly see things in our world popping into existence from nothing, we should not assume that our universe popped into existence from nothing.

            to describe the time before the big bang.

            When did “time” come around? Time is a law just like everything else… it must have a source.

            Krauss simply pushes it one step further in his quest to gain an even clearer explanation of how the universe came into existence.

            Yes, he is adding an introduction to the big bang. But, he is not answering the question that he claims to be (on the title of the book) of how something can come from nothing, as I have already explained.

          • In reply to #342 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

            do you believe in magic?

            Oh the irony!

            .When did “time” come around? Time is a law just like everything else… it must have a source.

            I probably didn’t phrase my reply in the best possible way, however I’m not the one offering an iron-clad, definitive explanation. I’m simply saying that we should see where the science takes us. It is the custodians of religious traditions who are offering iron-clad, not to be questioned solutions to our questions on origins. Because an ancient book contains barely comprehensible explanations doesn’t mean we have to be bound by its primitive ramblings.

          • In reply to #344 by Nitya:

            Oh the irony!

            Ha! You don’t say… Ya, I thought it was pretty ironic that you seemed to be suggesting that the idea that the universe just appeared out of nothing, magically, was…

            perfectly adequate.

            ….when you’re supposed to be the one that, of all people, does not believe in any form of magic whatsoever.

            I probably didn’t phrase my reply in the best possible way, however I’m not the one offering an iron-clad, definitive explanation. I’m simply saying that we should see where the science takes us.

            What about reason and logic? Can’t we see where that takes us? Right now, perhaps. Why do we have to wait for our new “god” to give us answers that it will never be able to give being that the ideas in question can only be explored philosophically because a possible experiment that would be able to test them can not even be dreamt up. Lets take an example: multiple universe theory:

            The entire universe is governed by 6 mathematical constants:

            1. The ratio of electro-magnetic force to gravitational force between two electrons

            2. The structural constant that determines how various atoms are formed from hydrogen

            3. The cosmological constant

            4. The cosmic anti-gravity force

            5. The value that determines how tightly clusters of galaxies are bound together

            6. The number of spatial dimensions in the universe

            If the value of any of these constants had been off by even an almost infinitesimal degree, a universe like ours, thats capable of supporting life, would not exist. This perfection is known as the “anthropic principle” and has forced several scientists (among them, Stephen Hawking) to resolve the problem by predicting an infinite number of parallel universes. Then it would make sense that at least one universe (our own) would turn out so perfect in the sense that its fine tuned for life.

            The trouble is that this “multiple universe theory” is not scientific and never will be. It can never be scientifically tested. To put it in the words of Jonathan Sacks:

            “For we have no reason to suppose that there are parallel universes, and we could never establish whether there were. If we could make contact with a parallel universe then, by definition, it would not be a parallel universe but part of our own, which simply turned out to be larger than we thought it was.”

            So you see, even Stephen Hawking doesn’t wait for science to answer everything. His theory of multiple universes is just as scientifically testable as G-d. Science can only take us so far and then we must resort to philosophy to connect everything we’ve discovered in science. We need people to recognize the possibility of a partnership between science and philosophy.

          • In reply to #345 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

            The trouble is that this “multiple universe theory” is not scientific and never will be. It can never be scientifically tested.

            Maybe not right now, but we’re getting close. For example, Laura Mersini Houghton has a hypothesis that our universe is part of a multi-verse.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laura_Mersini-Houghton

            Her hypothesis made five predictions, that if true, would be supportive evidence for a multi-verse. So how many does she have to get right before you start to get nervous. One, two. Maybe three. How about 4 out of 5 because that is the current score. And here is a picture of one of those pieces of evidence, which may be an quantum entanglement with another universe.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CMB_cold_spot

            A controversial claim by Laura Mersini-Houghton is that it could be the imprint of another universe beyond our own, caused by quantum entanglement between universes before they were separated by cosmic inflation.[2] Laura Mersini-Houghton said, “Standard cosmology cannot explain such a giant cosmic hole” and made the remarkable hypothesis that the WMAP cold spot is “… the unmistakable imprint of another universe beyond the edge of our own.” If true, this provides the first empirical evidence for a parallel universe (though theoretical models of parallel universes existed previously).

            We’re back to god of the gaps again.

          • In reply to #345 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

            Those suggesting a “fine tuned universe” are often met with the example of a puddle in the road.

            . imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, ‘This is an interesting world I find myself in, an interesting hole I find myself in, fits me rather neatly, doesn’t it? In fact, it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!’ This is such a powerful idea that as the Sun rises in the sky and the air heats up and as, gradually, the puddle gets smaller and smaller, it’s still frantically hanging on to the notion that everything’s going to be all right, because this World was meant to have him in it, was built to have him in it; so the moment he disappears catches him rather by surprise. I think this may be something we need to be on the watch out for.

            An appearance of fine tuning for life is not evidence of fine tuning. When you think of the vastness of space and the incredibly tiny proportion with actual evidence of life ( that we have encountered) it is very small indeed. I think it would be quite safe to assume that there is life out there in our universe somewhere, but it’s certainly not commonplace.

          • In reply to #349 by Nitya:

            Those suggesting a “fine tuned universe” are often met with the example of a puddle in the road.

            There are a few things wrong with this parable. First off all, why do you assume that a puddle is a good parallel to a human? Second, why is the universe compared to a hole? Third, think outside the box; water and holes are no simple matter. But here is the biggest question: Just because our environment might deteriorate in the future doesn’t take away from the fact that right now our environment fits us perfectly and that the chances of that were slimmer than slim. So unlikely in fact, that it caused the theory of multiple universes as opposed to a mere parable as an attempted answer. Anyway, you said:

            I’m simply saying that we should see where the science takes us.

            I asked:

            What about reason and logic? Can’t we see where that takes us? Right now, perhaps. Why do we have to wait for our new “god” to give us answers that it will never be able to give being that the ideas in question can only be explored philosophically because a possible experiment that would be able to test them can not even be dreamt up.

            It doesn’t seem like you’ve responded to this part.

          • In reply to #350 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

            I’m pleased to see that you are continuing to make comments on this thread as I think there are still depths to plumb.

            .What about reason and logic? Can’t we see where that takes us? Right now, perhaps. Why do we have to wait for our new “god” to give us answers that it will never be able to give being that the ideas in question can only be explored philosophically because a possible experiment that would be able to test them can not even be dreamt up.a

            Logic and reason don’t take me in the same direction that they take you. My reasoning stems from the discoveries and calculations made by scientists in a variety of fields. I trust their calculations and their methodology. I have confidence in their projections because they have been proven statistically correct so often in the past. I’ve seen our understandings increase in the relatively short span of my own life. When I was a girl my family and I watched the night sky to see Sputnik fly past and in 1969 I watched the TV in amazement as human beings set foot on the moon. These human achievements gave me a great sense of awe, wonder and gratitude that I was alive to see it.

            Now where does your logic and reasoning take you? Your questions about cause and effect seem to propel you along in the form of a narrative. Despite your protestations, your answers seem to come with human attributes. Although it’s likely that you ascribe to a more deistic position, all your comments to date come heavily laden with Jewish phrasing and conventions. It would seem that you have image deep down, and you’re fashioning your thoughts to conform to your preconceived notions. Try telling me that this is not the case.

            I’m disappointed that you didn’t like the puddle analogy. Perhaps analogies are not the way to go because they have been ‘done to death’ in the past. ( mostly by believers). It doesn’t alter the fact that so far the universe does not appear to be teaming with life. It seems a definite stretch to suggest that the universe has a purpose and that purpose is to support life.

          • In reply to #352 by Nitya:

            In reply to #350 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

            I’m disappointed that you didn’t like the puddle analogy…”

            And so too am I. The puddle analogy is so simple. The puddle assumes that the hole was made for it because the puddle fits the hole so well. That’s it. Really. Douglas Adams (whose analogy it was) could have stopped there.

            The fact is (do you really need this to be spelt out?) that the puddle fits the hole rather than that the hole fits the puddle.

            We fit this environment because it is the environment we could fit. We probably couldn’t fit another – but something else might. If things were slightly different, I suppose slightly different things would now be arguing about the existence of a divine being.

            And all this ignores the fact that the true answer will be scientific, not philosophical.

          • In reply to #355 by Pabmusic:

            If things were slightly different, I suppose slightly different things would now be arguing about the existence of a divine being.

            Not true at all. If things were slightly different, “different things,” would probably not have the ability to argue or think at all because if things were “slightly different” life would not be supported. And you already know this; its part of the fine-tuning argument.

            And all this ignores the fact that the true answer will be scientific, not philosophical.

            One, science is a philosophy. Two, the truth is suspended until the end.

          • In reply to #390 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

            One, science is a philosophy.

            It was, but it is no longer. It is now empirical. It is now evidentiary. It doesn’t speculate in the absence of evidence. It says, “I don’t know”.

          • In reply to #391 by David R Allen:

            In reply to #390 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

            “One, science is a philosophy.”

            It was, but it is no longer. It is now empirical. It is now evidentiary. It doesn’t speculate in the absence of evidence. It says, “I don’t know”.

            If this is true, what is it that drives science? Is it plain & simple curiosity, and if so, what drives curiosity? I would have thought philosophical dilemmas and questions play a big part in the quest for knowledge, in addition to the world’s ever-increasing ecological issues of course. Speculation regarding what we do not yet know – which involves our imaginations – must surely contribute. And I would also think that the more vivid and inventive the imagination the greater the quest for knowledge.

          • In reply to #396 by CumbriaSmithy:

            Hi CumbriaSmithy,

            … what is it that drives science? Is it plain & simple curiosity …?

            Why would you doubt that curiosity is sufficient incentive to look for truth?

            … and if so, what drives curiosity?

            Neurology and evolutionary psychology … Smithy, surely you’re not becoming a … Scientist?

            If not, I would be most grateful for a pointer.

            I would have thought philosophical dilemmas and questions play a big part in the quest for knowledge …

            It seems to me that question must, surely, depend on philosophy’s record of helping us to both discover and understand truth. I declare my own opinion: Philosophy’s record is, as charitably as I dare say it, of very limited value – on its own.

            I would also think that the more vivid and inventive the imagination the greater the quest for knowledge.

            I don’t see the connection?

            Peace.

          • In reply to #396 by CumbriaSmithy:

            If this is true, what is it that drives science? Is it plain & simple curiosity, and if so, what drives curiosity?

            You’ve answered your own question. With this question, you’ve committed an act of “Curiosity”. You want to know the answer to a question. The difference between you and me, is that you say, “God made me ask this question.” I need no such cause. If we extend your argument that god made you ask this question, then it implies that god is controlling everything you say and do, which by extension, includes every living thing on this planet, and every other living thing in the universe. So if your reasoning is correct, then god must be controlling everything that is, or has ever happened. That makes god a very bad person.

            When my grandson and I are lying in the garden watching the Ant Lions dig their holes, what motivates me and him, to wonder about these minute little guys doing their thing. Natural evolutionary curiosity motivates me. Our evolutionary niche on this planet is in part, a result of curiosity. Our bigger brain. “These sticks get warm when I rub them together. I wonder, if I rubbed them together some more, what would happen.” “Wow, the edge of this smashed rock is sharp and it cuts my meat up really well.”

            I like to read philosophical works. I like to read Allusive Atheist going toe to toe with AATROAE. There is profound wisdom in Betrand Russell saying, “Most people would rather die than think. And most people do.” I get great inspiration from that statement, to THINK. Philosophy has a place. But as the New York Times article so succinctly put it, the gold standard of proof now rests with empirical science. The scientific method when applied to any problem will give you better advice than that speculation or control from a distance.

          • In reply to #399 by David R Allen:

            In reply to #396 by CumbriaSmithy:
            I like to read philosophical works. I like to read Allusive Atheist going toe to toe with AATROAE. There is profound wisdom in Betrand Russell saying, “Most people would rather die than think. And most people do.” I get great inspiration from that statement, to THINK. Philosophy has a place. But as the New York Times article so succinctly put it, the gold standard of proof now rests with empirical science. The scientific method when applied to any problem will give you better advice than that speculation or control from a distance.

            I didnt trust the ny times to tell the truth about Iraq wmds and I certainly don’t consider them the gold standard on science vs philosophy. I think these kinds of distinctions – is it philososophy or science? – are mostly of interest to academics who have to gauge which department heads to schmooze.

            I think a lot of what people call philosophy. Is just pseudo science of no more value than postmodern theory. But philosophy such as russel, Dennet, Harris, and Chomsky, are part math, part science. They may not do experiments but IMO the still practice the scientific method.

          • In reply to #401 by Red Dog:

            In reply to #399 by David R Allen:

            In reply to #396 by CumbriaSmithy:
            I like to read philosophical works. I like to read Allusive Atheist going toe to toe with AATROAE. There is profound wisdom in Betrand Russell saying, “Most people would rather die than think. And most people do.” I get great ins…

            This goes back to AATROAE assertion that “One, science is a philosophy.” Which I think you will agree, is not a true statement. One may contain the other, and visa versa, but one is not exclusively the other. I concur that the great philosophers you cite are using a version of the “Scientific Method” in reaching their conclusions, rational, logical and supported by cogent argument. There was a time when this was the only scientific method available to humanity, but empirical science has emerged as an offshoot of this type of activity, and now stands alone as an ally in a mutually supportive domain with philosophy. But they are now separate but overlapping majesteria, science and philosophy.

            The context of AATROAE’s statement was that his brand of philosophy has or had some scientific credibility. I reject that claim.

          • In reply to #402 by David R Allen:

            One may contain the other, and visa versa

            Sorry if I didn’t express myself clearly, but that’s exactly what I meant. In other words, I agree, one may contain the other, but one is not exclusively the other. And this is the case with all philosophys. “Philosophy” is just a general label that can be a applied to any world views and that doesn’t mean that the specific world view in question is “exclusively” its label. This is what I meant by “science is a philosophy:” it can fit into the category of philosophy; one can say, ‘my philosophy is that science can answer everything.’ and that would be their philosophy.

            The context of AATROAE’s statement was that his brand of philosophy has or had some scientific credibility. I reject that claim.

            That’s not what I was trying to say, rather the above. But, if “science can answer everything” is a philosophy, which I believe it is, than that argument has to be considered in both philosophical terms and scientific terms; not just scientific terms.

          • In reply to #390 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

            One, science is a philosophy.

            For roughly 98 percent of the last 2,500 years of Western intellectual history, philosophy was considered the mother of all knowledge. It generated most of the fields of research still with us today. This is why we continue to call our highest degrees Ph.D.’s, namely, philosophy doctorates. At the same time, we live an age in which many seem no longer sure what philosophy is or is good for anymore. Most seem to see it as a highly abstracted discipline with little if any bearing on objective reality — something more akin to art, literature or religion. All have plenty to say about reality. But the overarching assumption is that none of it actually qualifies as knowledge until proven scientifically. (New York Times)

          • In reply to #390 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

            Not true at all. If things were slightly different, “different things,” would probably not have the ability to argue or think at all because if things were “slightly different” life would not be supported. And you already know this; its part of the fine-tuning argument.

            Oh the arrogance implicit in a sure claim of knowledge. The fine-tuning argument tells us that the life we see around us could have arisen only within a very narrow range of variables – the ones we experience. It does not suggest that no life of any sort (perhaps, say, based on silicon rather than carbon and metabolising something other than oxygen) could ever have arisen. The dial settings are likely to be different for different types of life, if only very slightly different. But your version of the argument allows for no slightly different life to have appeared at all, even given slightly different tunings, therefore such an alternative event could never have occurred. Your fine-tuning argument just says that would have been impossible. QED.

            Perhaps you’re right, but how do you know? How are you so very sure? Not through science since the eminent scientists (Hawking, et al) who have proposed this do not appear to be saying quite the same as you are.

            One thing you can ponder is that, if you’re right and a creator made this universe, so brilliantly fine-tuned as it is for us, then he or she is immensely wasteful. At least 100 billion galaxies, each with at least 100 billion stars, each with its own set of planets. And all just for us! Even though we can see only 2,000 or so stars without equipment. Wow!

            And if there is other intelligent life out there, it too will be fine-tuned to its own and various environments, all of which will differ in some way from our own (strength of gravity, thickness of atmosphere, composition of atmosphere, strength of radiation from the nearest star, etc). So immediately we can postulate a variety of differing life-forms. But wait! The universe was made specifically for us here on Earth, wasn’t it? How do we get round this?

            Perhaps we should insist that the fine-tuning argument also allows for no other intelligent life to exist in the universe. How does that sound?

            Alternatively, we can deduce that whatever life there is, anywhere in the universe (including here) will be the sort of life that could only live within its own particular conditions.

          • In reply to #395 by Pabmusic:

            Oh the arrogance implicit in a sure claim of knowledge. The fine-tuning argument tells us that the life we see around us could have arisen only within a very narrow range of variables – the ones we experience. It does not suggest that no life of any sort (perhaps, say, based on silicon rather than carbon and metabolising something other than oxygen) could ever have arisen.

            Perhaps there is different type of life form out there, I’m not ruling that out. But, our type, the intelligent type, “could have arisen only within a very narrow range of variables.” And, one can imagine that even if there is a different type of intelligent life that would be possible and as sophisticated, it also “could have arisen only within a very narrow range of variables.” And then, the fine tuning argument would apply to them as well. However, I reserve the right to be wrong about this. If you can point me to a scenario were sophisticated and intelligent life could have arisen without “fine tuning,” I’d be happy to hear.

          • In reply to #404 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

            Perhaps there is different type of life form out there, I’m not ruling that out. But, our type, the intelligent type, “could have arisen only within a very narrow range of variables.” And, one can imagine that even if there is a different type of intelligent life that would be possible and as sophisticated, it also “could have arisen only within a very narrow range of variables.” And then, the fine tuning argument would apply to them as well. However, I reserve the right to be wrong about this. If you can point me to a scenario were sophisticated and intelligent life could have arisen without “fine tuning,” I’d be happy to hear.

            As I’ve mentioned a number of times before (and never seem to get a response), the whole “fine tuning” argument presupposes that the “very narrow range of variables” are, in fact, variables and not constants. How do we know that the cosmological constant or the number of spatial dimensions in the universe or any of the other things that make our sort of life possible could have had any other values? It’s not “fine tuning” if there were no other options available. It’s easy to say “if things had been different…” but what if things couldn’t have been any different? Then, the only “fine tuning” going on is that our particular form of intelligent life was “fine tuned” through evolution to arise on this little speck of dirt in an insanely vast universe and perhaps nowhere else. And we’re barely holding on as it is.

          • In reply to #410 by godzillatemple:

            It’s not “fine tuning” if there were no other options available. It’s easy to say “if things had been different…” but what if things couldn’t have been any different? Then, the only “fine tuning” going on is that our particular form of intelligent life was “fine tuned” through evolution to arise on this little speck of dirt in an insanely vast universe and perhaps nowhere else. And we’re barely holding on as it is.

            Presumably, there were other options available, although there is no evidence either way. However, let us consider this. You say, “Its not “fine tuning” if there were no other options available.” I ask you, if there were no other options available, did everything always conform to some sort of code or law that always forced it to only go in one direction, one option? Is that what your suggesting?

          • In reply to #411 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

            Presumably, there were other options available…

            Wow, that’s quite an ironic statement given your user name, don’t you think?

            …although there is no evidence either way.

            Actually, that’s not quite true. Since we know what the universe is currently like and we have never observed these constants (or ‘variables” as you like to call them) having any other values, there is default evidence that this is the only way the way the universe could have been. There is no evidence whatsoever, however, that the constants could been anything other than what they are.

          • In reply to #413 by godzillatemple:

            Wow, that’s quite an ironic statement given your user name, don’t you think?

            Not really because I back it up with reason….

            However, let us consider this. You say, “Its not “fine tuning” if there were no other options available.” I ask you, if there were no other options available, did everything always conform to some sort of code or law that always forced it to only go in one direction, one option? Is that what your suggesting?

            And you didn’t answer this part.

            there is default evidence that this is the only way the way the universe could have been.

            “Default evidence,” huh. Is that a thing? Every scientist knows not to base facts off defaults. New theory’s and discoveries are always changing the way we previously looked at things.

          • In reply to #414 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

            Not really because I back it up with reason….

            What reason? You said, “Presumably, there were other options available, although there is no evidence either way.” You’re “reason” is to assume something as true despite the fact that there is no evidence to do so?

            And you didn’t answer this part.

            Sorry, but after you just finished making a presumption for which you admitted there was absolutely no evidence, I assumed (with reason) that this conversation wasn’t going to go anywhere. But, just for giggles:

            I ask you, if there were no other options available, did everything always conform to some sort of code or law that always forced it to only go in one direction, one option? Is that what your suggesting?

            No, and why would I suggest that? What physicists call “laws” of nature are not prescriptive codes somehow forcing nature to work a certain way or face a penalty. That would imply some sort of lawgiver or enforcer. No, natural laws are merely descriptions of how nature actually does work.

            “Default evidence,” huh. Is that a thing?

            Sure.

            Every scientist knows not to base facts off defaults.

            They do? Or are you just making another presumption? Most scientists I know actually start with the defaults as a baseline and go from there. You observe the universe and use your observations as the default evidence of how things work elsewhere and elsewhen until proven otherwise.

            New theory’s and discoveries are always changing the way we previously looked at things.

            Yes they do. What’s your point? Right now, the only evidence we have regarding the various universal constants you mentioned is that they are what they currently are. That, by itself, is at least some evidence that they have always been that way and that they could only be that way, simply by nature of the fact that they are, in fact, that way. Note that I didn’t say that this was compelling or absolute evidence, but it is at least some evidence. On the other hand, you have offered no evidence whatsoever that these constants could ever be something other than what they are. Just wild speculation and a desperate need to create a need in your own mind for some sort of creator.

            Again, I’m not saying I can prove that the universal constants that make our particular form of life possible had to be what they are, but at least I have some reason to believe so and absolutely no reason not to believe so. You, on the other hand, have nothing but unfounded assumptions. And those assumptions really do seem to be the root of all your problems (or “evils”, if you prefer).

            I do thank you, btw, for at least acknowledging my question.

          • In reply to #415 by godzillatemple:

            No, natural laws are merely descriptions of how nature actually does work.

            Where did these natural laws come from? Why does nature work the way it does?

          • In reply to #416 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

            Where did these natural laws come from? Why does nature work the way it does?

            Again, the natural laws don’t “come from” anywhere. They are merely descriptions of how we have observed the natural world to work. Why would you make an assumption that natural laws must come from somewhere? Don’t you know that assumptions are the root of…

            Never mind. I’m assuming your username is ironic given the fact that you assume there is a creator and then look for any evidence that could possibly confirm that assumption. I don’t mean that to be a personal attack, but you must be aware of how it looks?

          • In reply to #417 by godzillatemple:

            Why would you make an assumption that natural laws must come from somewhere?

            Because everything has a cause or source.

          • In reply to #418 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

            Because everything has a cause or source.

            (a) How do you know that?

            (b) Does that include God? Or do you employ a circular argument to exempt God from your requirement that EVERYTHING must have a cause or a source? You know, “I’ll define God as something that doesn’t need a cause to prove that God exists because everything has a cause except for God…”

            (c) For the third time, natural laws aren’t “things.” They do not have independent existence — they are merely our descriptions of how we perceive nature to work. If they can be said to “come from” anything at all, they come from our own intelligence since we are the ones that come up with them to describe what we observe.

            Have you considered, perhaps, changing your username?

          • In reply to #418 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

            Because everything has a cause or source.

            Why must it have a cause, except to invoke a creator. There is no other reason to postulate a cause.

            Where did these natural laws come from? Why does nature work the way it does?

            This is a distillation of the difference between a theist and an atheist. Your brain demands a cause so you can believe in a god, as the source of that cause. I don’t need a cause, because to add a supernatural outside agency to flick the switch, makes the universe more complicated than the evidence suggests it is. It breaches the religious Monk, William of Ockham’s almighty razor, a rule that has yet to fail. God’s not necessary.

          • In reply to #420 by David R Allen:

            It breaches the religious Monk, William of Ockham’s almighty razor, a rule that has yet to fail. God’s not necessary.

            The opposite is true.

          • In reply to #425 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

            In reply to #420 by David R Allen:

            It breaches the religious Monk, William of Ockham’s almighty razor, a rule that has yet to fail. God’s not necessary.

            The opposite is true.

            Aaaaghh! (Much wailing and gnashing of teeth!)

          • In reply to #425 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

            In reply to #420 by David R Allen:

            It breaches the religious Monk, William of Ockham’s almighty razor, a rule that has yet to fail. God’s not necessary.

            The opposite is true.

            You postulate a supernatural entity, that breaches the laws of physics. You argue that this entity is the “cause” that you include in almost every post you make, a cause that has zero evidence to support it’s existence. As Nitya so succinctly spelt out. Then you shoehorn this “cause” onto matters of science, that have explanations at some levels, probable explanations at others, and as of the 2 of June 2014 some matters that science has no explanations for, but for which there are promising theories that may in 10 years time, be accepted as scientific orthodoxy. Nitya’s reference to Abiogenesis. Laura Mersini Houghton’s 4 out of 5 explanation for the origin of everything?? All of this science is founded on evidence. To add a supernatural cause to this science, adds an unnecessary extra complication, which, breaches Ockham’s Razor. Ergo. God is not necessary.

            What is the origin of the natural laws?

            I’ll get in early before Red Dog so I don’t look so silly. If Laura Mersini Houghton / Krauss are correct, then nothing. A chance quantum fluctuation. Quantum fluctuations are proven to exist by Casimir. Full stop. No further embellishment or explanation is needed. I rest my case your Honour.

            p.s. Nitya. Krauss is on Q and A tonight.

          • In reply to #428 by David R Allen:

            In reply to #425 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

            In reply to #420 by David R Allen:

            It breaches the religious Monk, William of Ockham’s almighty razor, a rule that has yet to fail. God’s not necessary.

            The opposite is true.

            You postulate a supernatural entity, that breaches the laws of physic…

            Re Krauss. I know!!! Not to be missed!

          • In reply to #425 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

            In reply to #420 by David R Allen:

            It breaches the religious Monk, William of Ockham’s almighty razor, a rule that has yet to fail. God’s not necessary.

            The opposite is true.

            PS Lawrence Krauss is on the panel of Q&A tonight. Please watch this program if you are able.

          • In reply to #418 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

            Because everything has a cause or source.

            This is the big stumbling block between you and everyone else who has disagreed with you! It would seem that you haven’t taken the advice of your elders and cleared your mind of all preconceptions.

            We have! We have already taken the plunge and thought it through. We have acknowledged the fact that because we are human most things seem to be the result of an action or lack of action on the part of humans.We have the big brains, therefore everything must be attributed to a big brain like ours…..only bigger!

            This is an anthropomorphic view. The point that we are all at pains to point out is that we need evidence to suppose such a thing. There is plenty of evidence of life! There is evidence of the universe and all that it entails! There is no evidence of anything bigger, more powerful, all knowing, superhuman or supernatural! The efforts of those modelling possible scenarios do not point in that direction.

            It is most likely that the concept of a creator god or goddess is a human construct. This notion has been put to you in many different ways, but it keeps coming back to the same obstacle.

          • In reply to #422 by Nitya:

            This is the big stumbling block between you and everyone else who has disagreed with you!

            Explain to me in clear terms, why it is a “stumbling block.” Give me a positive reason to believe that the cause and effect argument is so seriously flawed that anyone suggesting it must be “stumbling” or must have “preconceptions.”

          • In reply to #431 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

            Non at all? Just make an accounting of your day and you’ll find that each situation had a cause and caused the next. Evolution is all about cause and effect as well. One thing leads to the next. Cause and effect is a fundamental. We see it clearly in action every day, doing its job without fail. It is therefore at least some what sensible to theorize that just as everything around us works on the principle of cause and effect, and has been doing so for billions of years, that “everything has a cause.”

            This is the stumbling block. This paragraph. Most of it is true, but you take it one step too far. Some things are random chance, like quantum fluctuations. Your argument is:- “Because I can see cause in most things, then there MUST be a cause for everything.” Your argument cannot be true, because it can be shown to be false by example. Quantum fluctuations are random chance. I know you can, and probably will hypothesize that even quantum fluctuations have a cause, but to do that, you will need to overturn quantum theory, which is one of the most rock solid proven scientific theories of all time. I will line up Plank, Heisenberg, Pauli et al and you will need to bowl them all over with experimental facts.

            (P.S. If you were using photons to do the bowling, you might aim at Plank and hit Heisenberg by pure chance.)

          • In reply to #433 by David R Allen:

            Quantum fluctuations are random chance. I know you can, and probably will hypothesize that even quantum fluctuations have a cause, but to do that, you will need to overturn quantum theory, which is one of the most rock solid proven scientific theories of all time.

            Sorry* to press you on this, but according Wikipedia, a quantum fluctuation is “… the temporary change in the amount of energy in a point in space.” So if we are to depend on this being the next step in the search for the origin of the universe, we still have to establish what energy is and where it came from. Until we do that surely we religiots should be allowed the privilege of ascribing energy itself to our beloved uncaused Cause? Additionally, one of the observations we make of the universe is that everything has a cause, so to suddenly pretend that a quantum fluctuation requires no cause is to break that observed rule for no apparent reason. Mathematical equations require values of ‘something’, so to even write such an equation requires quantifiable attributes of that ‘something’.

            *Later addition: I lied, I’m not sorry at all!

          • In reply to #434 by CumbriaSmithy:

            In reply to #433 by David R Allen:

            Quantum fluctuations are random chance. I know you can, and probably will hypothesize that even quantum fluctuations have a cause, but to do that, you will need to overturn quantum theory, which is one of the most rock solid proven scientific theories of all time….

            I’ll try some simple maths. Start with zero. Break it in half with a +1 and a -1. Add them together. The answer is zero again. No breach of the laws of thermodynamics. This is what a quantum fluctuation is. A positive and negative particle appear then annihilate each other. It is happening all the time. It is like a soup of quantum fluctuations below the plank length. (Very Small) There are trillions occurring in the smallest thing you can imagine all the time. The speculation is, that if during one of these quantum fluctuations, the positive and negative particles (that are real particles) get separate and can’t annihilate each other, inflation can happen and you get a universe. Spontaneous and random.

            This is where Krauss comes in. He postulates that the total energy of the universe is zero. The positive energy of matter plus dark matter, is cancelled out by the negative energy of vacuum space. If he is right, then the universe can arise from nothing, exist, then return to nothing (or maybe not) and the first law of thermodynamics remains intact, because at the start there was zero energy. And at the end there will be zero energy.

            Does this help.

          • In reply to #435 by David R Allen:

            Thank you, David, for a succinct statement of the hypothesis that the universe is the result of a quantum fluctuation that happened to attain inflation. The basic mathematical idea – Start with zero. Break it in half with a +1 and a -1. Add them together. The answer is zero again. – should give no-one any difficulty. I suspect that what CumbriaSmithy and people of like mind find objectionable is the assertion that this mathematical account of quantum fluctuations describes what actually happens in reality (thereby removing yet further any need for a supernatural cause of the universe). Hence mathematics is not enough to make your point; the findings of experimental physics also need to be presented. This you have in fact mentioned – It is happening all the time. It is like a soup of quantum fluctuations below the plank length. (Very Small) There are trillions occurring in the smallest thing you can imagine all the time. – but perhaps not clearly enough to alert CumbriaSmithy and others that what you are presenting is not merely mathematical speculation but is also grounded in experimental observation in subatomic physics. In other words, the hypothesis that the universe arose from a quantum fluctuation is based on real experimental findings and not merely plucked out of the myriad logical possiblities of mathematics.

          • In reply to #431 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

            Explain to me in clear terms, why it is a “stumbling block.” Give me a positive reason to believe that the cause and effect argument is so seriously flawed that anyone suggesting it must be “stumbling” or must have “preconceptions.”

            The cause and effect argument is so seriously flawed because it leads you to conclude something that is directly contradicted by the very argument itself. The gist of the argument seems to be as follows:

            1. Every phenomenon (that we currently observe) appears to have a cause or a source.

            2. Therefore, everything — including the very universe itself — must have a cause or a source [which is a bit of a leap in logic right there, but I digress].

            3. Whatever caused the universe, however, does not itself have a cause or a source [which, of course, contradicts the second premise of the argument].

            So, either EVERYTHING has a cause, including whatever caused the universe (in which case the conclusion of the argument is false), or else it’s possible to have something exist with no cause, in which case the first premise is false.

            If you want to have “God” be the exception to the general rule stated in the first premise, why not just have the universe itself be the exception and obviate the need for a God? Or have “natural laws” be the exception and say that the universe was caused by natural laws which themselves are eternal and timeless and have no cause? Adding a God to the equation achieves nothing whatsoever except to justify your preconceived assumptions that there is a God.

            It’s very common at the point for the proponents of the “cause and effect” argument to backpedal a bit and redefine the second premise as “everything within the universe must have a cause, including the universe itself.” This lets them claim God as an exception since he must, by definition, exist outside the universe in order to have created it in the first place. Let me just save you the trouble of going there and point out that the notion of God that ends up being required under this argument (the one who exists outside of time and space, is not composed of matter or energy, etc.) bears no relation to any form of God that is described in any religion’s holy books and, by its very nature, is nothing more than a philosophical construct unworthy of any form of worship whatsoever. It’s certainly not the God of the Old Testament who spoke with Moses face to face, caused the Red Sea to part, sent the Angel of Death to slay the first born of the Egyptians, magically covered the entire earth with water, etc. You might as well just pray to the laws of quantum chromodynamics.

          • In reply to #438 by godzillatemple:

            Adding a God to the equation achieves nothing whatsoever except to justify your preconceived assumptions that there is a God.

            Well actually, human history suggests that God or gods have always been in the human ‘equation’ and it’s the atheistic mindset that attempts to remove Him/them from it; not the other way around. This is one reason why I think it would be impossible to ban religion, as it’s part of the very heart of the human psyche.

          • In reply to #439 by CumbriaSmithy:

            Well actually, human history suggests that God or gods have always been in the human ‘equation’ …

            As have witchcraft, magic fairies and a whole multitude of scary things that go bump in the night.

            …and it’s the atheistic mindset that attempts to remove Him/them from it; not the other way around.

            The atheistic mindset or simply the rational mindset? Do you, as a Christian, accept the possibility that Thor is responsible for thunder? Or that the sun is a flaming chariot being pulled across the sky by Apollo? If not, why have you removed these gods from the “equation”?

            This is one reason why I think it would be impossible to ban religion, as it’s part of the very heart of the human psyche.

            Except… try visiting Communist China where a billion people are raised without a belief in a God and seem to be doing pretty well for themselves. I’m married to one, in fact. I would agree that ignorance and superstition is probably impossible to wholly eradicate from the human condition (my wife is a strong believer in Traditional Chinese Medicine despite all evidence to the contrary), but God? Not so much.

            I’m still hoping you’ll answer my other question, btw. How do you justify having faith in both the unprovable God of the philosophers (immaterial, timeless, non-intervening, unprovable) and the God of the Christian Bible (created man in his own image, regularly intervenes in human affairs, takes on physical form when necessary, makes promises, and clearly refutable)?

          • In reply to #440 by godzillatemple:

            … try visiting Communist China where a billion people are raised without a belief in a God and seem to be doing pretty well for themselves.

            Yes, you try visiting China and counting the number of Christians there. I believe it’s the world’s biggest growth area of Christianity.

            I’m still hoping you’ll answer my other question, btw. How do you justify having faith in both the unprovable God of the philosophers (immaterial, timeless, non-intervening, unprovable) and the God of the Christian Bible (created man in his own image, regularly intervenes in human affairs, takes on physical form when necessary, makes promises, and clearly refutable)?

            I don’t really understand what you mean by ‘justify’. If you want to know why I believe in the God of the Bible it’s simple: evidence and reason. ‘…clearly refutable’? I would dispute that but I would also agree that He is dis-believable; if He wasn’t you and I would have no choice in the matter. The God of the Bible comes across as being immaterial, timeless, sometimes non-intervening and unprovable, but He is also portrayed as being material, time-bound and sometimes intervening.

          • In reply to #442 by CumbriaSmithy:

            Yes, you try visiting China and counting the number of Christians there. I believe it’s the world’s biggest growth area of Christianity.

            I don’t know anything about it being a big growth area or not, but estimates ranging anywhere from 14 million (official government estimate) to 55 million do really amount to much when compared to a population of over one billion. Regardless, the point is that it’s very possible for large numbers of people to have no belief in God whatsoever. And that was just the Chinese.

            The God of the Bible comes across as being immaterial, timeless, sometimes non-intervening and unprovable, but He is also portrayed as being material, time-bound and sometimes intervening.

            Hmmmm… Would you agree that it is (or at least should be) possible to prove and/or disprove the existence of a being who is supposedly material, time-bound and who intervenes in human existence? This is what I was talking about — you seem to have somehow compartmentalized your belief in God so that you can talk about him being this wonderful being who has performed miracles and answers prayers and who is therefore worthy of worship, but when pressed to provide evidence of this God you turn around and claim his existence can’t be proven because he is not the sort of God that performs miracles, answers prayers, intervenes with humanity, etc.

            There’s a word for simultaneously accepting two mutually contradictory beliefs as correct, which — alas — escapes me at the moment. Cognitive dissonance? Doublethink? Insanity? Whatever the case, it kind of makes having any sort of rational argument impossible.

          • In reply to #442 by CumbriaSmithy:

            I don’t really understand what you mean by ‘justify’. If you want to know why I believe in the God of the Bible it’s simple: evidence and reason… The God of the Bible…

            If you think the bible is a reliable contemporary-history record with any claim to evidence and reason, it’s safe to say you’re not using evidence and reason to support your belief. You’re using some people’s anthology of fantasy stories, fables, and commentary of the same. You need to present actual reasons and evidence, not lightweight and partial excuses to keep believing your favourite religion.

            Have you, for instance, read the Quran? The Hindu texts? Buddhist literature? If you have, then what’s the relevant difference between them and whichever passages of the bible you like that would make one any more credible than any other? And I do mean credible differences, not “any difference you can name”, and certainly not logical fallacies.

          • In reply to #442 by CumbriaSmithy:
            >

            Smithy, Smithy, Smithy. I give you a simplified maths explanation of quantum fluctuations, expanded and supported by Cairsley. I couldn’t sleep all last night anticipating Smithy’s reply, but you ignored me. You don’t Post, you don’t write. You don’t call. Can I assume from that that you accept that quantum fluctuations can explain the universe without a god.

          • In reply to #447 by David R Allen:
            >

            Smithy, Smithy, Smithy. I give you a simplified maths explanation of quantum fluctuations, expanded and supported by Cairsley. I couldn’t sleep all last night anticipating Smithy’s reply, but you ignored me. You don’t Post, you don’t write. You don’t call. C…

            … if only I could spend more time here I would try to drill further down into this. I understand the maths – or at least I think I do – and Krauss explains it very clearly – but as Cairsley explained I struggle to interpret that into physical existence and/or anti-existence. I understand the idea that matter and anti-matter can and do cancel each other out, but that still leaves me with the question ‘why’? It’s the spontaneity of it that’s incomprehensible to me. Now get to bed DRA and don’t lie awake thinking about this. I don’t, so you shouldn’t!

          • In reply to #449 by CumbriaSmithy:

            … I understand the idea that matter and anti-matter can and do cancel each other out, but that still leaves me with the question ‘why’? It’s the spontaneity of it that’s incomprehensible to me. …

            Hello, CumbriaSmithy. Like you, I struggle to comprehend the findings that quantum mechanics researchers and theorists have come up with, being myself no physicist, but I do what I can to understand the theory that has been developed in this fundamental area of science that has obvious cosmological significance. I do not know how much you have already read about quantum theory, but it is a subject one needs to look at if one wishes to discuss in a reasonable manner any questions concerning the origin of the cosmos. I was actually hoping that one of the other members here, more au fait with physics and quantum mechanics than I, would offer some references or links for us to consult, but so far no luck. You may already have worked your way through the dense array of links provided in the Wikipedia entry Quantum mechanics. If not, it is certainly one way of coming to grips with the basic science that underlies the work of quantum theorists. Another, less dauntingly reference-rich webpage is Quantum physics at About.com. Books may also be of use to you, and again I would prefer others more conversant with the subject to recommend up-to-date works good for nonphysicists to consult. It is important for theists to realize that they cannot keep banging on about gods and creators and first (uncaused) causes as they have in the past, because real knowledge about the world has proceeded far beyond the point where anyone cognizant of the findings of current scientific research can maintain that positing some unevidenced pretercosmic cause of the cosmos explains or accounts for anything or in any way contributes to our knowledge and understanding.

          • In reply to #451 by Cairsley:

            It is important for theists to realize that they cannot keep banging on about gods and creators and first (uncaused) causes as they have in the past, because real knowledge about the world has proceeded far beyond the point where anyone cognizant of the findings of current scientific research can maintain that positing some unevidenced pretercosmic cause of the cosmos explains or accounts for anything or in any way contributes to our knowledge and understanding.

            One of the best summaries I have read. Well crafted.

            There is a Brian Greene documentary, The Elegant Universe that is pretty good. Green is a proponent of String Theory, but in the earlier episodes he deals with Relativity and Quantum Theory. I’m not so sure about String Theory but with an open mind, I will sponge up anything that is evidence based, to add to the overall understanding of the universe. All 3 episodes can be viewed here.

            http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/nova-the-elegant-universe/

          • In reply to #452 by David R Allen:

            Thanks, David, for the URL to The Elegant Universe, which I look forward to watching soon.

          • In reply to #439 by CumbriaSmithy:

            In reply to #438 by godzillatemple:

            If I could add my bit to godzillatemple’s comment regarding beliefs in China,

            . Except… try visiting Communist China where a billion people are raised without a belief in a God and seem to be doing pretty well for themselves. I’m married to one, in fact. I would agree that ignorance and superstition is probably impossible to wholly eradicate from the human condition

            I’ve had many students from China and although they make a small sample, this group have no religious beliefs at all. They find the idea laughable. Many do have a highly developed sense of “good luck” and “bad luck”, but no notion that we would recognise a god concept. It seems to me that if the idea is not planted in the mind of the individual it does not take hold.

            In stark contrast are the very strong beliefs held by those from other nations. I think that those from an Anglo-Saxon background would find their overtly religious displays faintly embarrassing.

          • In reply to #431 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

            In reply to #422 by Nitya:

            This is the big stumbling block between you and everyone else who has disagreed with you!

            Explain to me in clear terms, why it is a “stumbling block.” Give me a positive reason to believe that the cause and effect argument is so seriously flawed that anyone suggesting it…

            By cooincidence last night, I read a chapter in my book, The Nine Greatest Inigma’s in Science by Prof Jim al-Khalili on Laplace’s Demon. If you had an entity (or a supercomputer) that new the position of everything in the universe down to quarks, they would be able to predict the future and the universe would be deterministic. It get’s into great paradoxes from there, but it also led onto Lorenz’s Chaos Theory which Wikipedia does a much better job of describing here:-

            Chaos theory is a field of study in mathematics, with applications in several disciplines including meteorology, sociology, physics, engineering, economics, biology, and philosophy. Chaos theory studies the behavior of dynamical systems that are highly sensitive to initial conditions—a paradigm popularly referred to as the butterfly effect. Small differences in initial conditions (such as those due to rounding errors in numerical computation) yield widely diverging outcomes for such dynamical systems, rendering long-term prediction practically impossible with current knowledge.[1] This happens even though these systems are deterministic, meaning that their future behavior is fully determined by their initial conditions, with no random elements involved.[2] In other words, the deterministic nature of these systems does not make them predictable.[3][4] This behavior is known as deterministic chaos, or simply chaos. The theory was summarized by Edward Lorenz as follows:

            >Chaos: When the present determines the future, but the approximate present does not approximately determine the future. (pg 68)[5]
            

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaos_theory (Worth visiting just to watch the wonderful double pendulum demonstration lower right.)

            The point of all this AATROAE is that cause does not necessary lead to effect. There is nothing you can do at the cause end of the equation, that will allow you to accurately determine the effect. In other words, the universe is random and chaotic. So your ultimate cause argument is less cogent than you probably think.

          • In reply to #431 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

            In reply to #422 by Nitya:

            This is the big stumbling block between you and everyone else who has disagreed with you!

            Explain to me in clear terms, why it is a “stumbling block.” Give me a positive reason to believe that the cause and effect argument is so seriously flawed that anyone suggesting it…

            A thought has just come to mind! Could you possibly attribute quantum fluctuations as a “first cause”! Would that satisfy you in your quest for an answer?

          • In reply to #448 by Nitya:

            A thought has just come to mind! Could you possibly attribute quantum fluctuations as a “first cause”! Would that satisfy you in your quest for an answer?

            I don’t think so because a first cause would have to be beyond the laws of physics as it would have to not have a cause. Quantum fluctuations, I think are part of the science of physics. The first cause would not be observable, I think. Maybe look at my response to Red Dog below.

          • In reply to #390 by assumptionsaretherootofallevil:

            Hi assumptionsaretherootofallevil,

            If things were slightly different, “different things,” would probably not have the ability to argue or think at all because if things were “slightly different” life would not be supported.

            That’s a new one on me. How do you know that?

            Peace.

          • In reply to #352 by Nitya:

            Logic and reason don’t take me in the same direction that they take you. My reasoning stems from the discoveries and calculations made by scientists in a variety of fields. I trust their calculations and their methodology. I have confidence in their projections because they have been proven statistically correct so often in the past. I’ve seen our understandings increase in the relatively short span of my own life.

            My reasoning stems from taking simple, seemingly established truths and breaking them down to make sure their true and then applying them to the bigger more complex questions. I try very hard not to take anything for granted as well. In other words, I try not to assume anything. You say that you trust the scientists method. So do I. This is not your only root of reason though, as you seem to be saying. For the “reason” you use now, in this discussion, is not rooted in scientific fact. It’s more rooted in your own observations and applications based on what you’ve experienced with your senses. Scientific discoveries have little to do with your personal method of reason. I’ll pose the following question in order to try and shed light on what I’m saying: What came first, the experiment or the scientific discovery? Reason or science?

            It would seem that you have image deep down, and you’re fashioning your thoughts to conform to your preconceived notions. Try telling me that this is not the case.

            We are taught, in the Talmud, that in order to learn one must first clear their mind of any pre conceived notions. I don’t try and fit stuff into any image I hold or into any preconceived biases I have. All I do when approaching a subject is to break it down as I said above and to try and not assume anything about it. The “evil inclination” or “devil” in my religion is defined as the mere physiological state of lying to oneself or justifying. We spend a lot of time closely studying this area of physiology and trying to tackle the danger of self deception. This undoubtedly sounds ironic to you but from my perspective its just as ironic that you say that I’m the one that’s trying to uphold a biased image. For I