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This is a question God

Tell us your stories of churches and religion (or lack thereof). Let the smiting begin!

Question suggested by Supersonic Electronic

(, Thu 19 Mar 2009, 15:00)
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Let's get it out of the way
A message to the believers:
No, ID does not have sound arguments, and its claims are bogus. In no sense are they comparable to naturalistic claims such as one finds within evolutionary biology.
No, evolution is not "just a theory".
No, there is no reason at all to respect your beliefs. You, perhaps. Your beliefs, not so.
No, scientific uncertainty does not mean that we ought to listen to every single hypothesis. Some are clearly wrong.
No, you don't have a right to your beliefs. If they turn out to be mistaken, you have a duty to ditch them; and a person does not wrong you by correcting your errors.
No, your failure to come up with an explanation of the world that does not include god is not evidence for the existence of god; it is evidence of your ignorance.
No, the persistence of religious belief is not evidence that there must be something behind it.
No, the belief in god is not a prerequisite of morality.

To the agnostics:
No, sitting on the fence does not indicate humility and open-mindedness. It indicates intellectual barrenness. Grow up.

To the atheists: don't think you get off. You happen to be correct, but that isn't an excuse for being a prissy little blockhead - and being correct counts for nothing if it's not for the right reasons. You could get that from blind luck.
No, the persistence of evil is not an argument against the existence of god.
No, the persistence of evil actions by religious people is not an argument against religion.
No, you don't have a right to your beliefs, either.

And, finally, the hippies.
No, god is not "inside you".
No, your claims to be a "very spiritual person" do not demonstrate that you are "profound". They demonstrate that you are a cretin.
No, things do not happen for "a reason" if, by "reason", you mean something more than "mechanistic cause". If that is what you mean, your statement is trivial, and it doesn't make you sound deep. You are not even shallow.

It's going to be a looooooooong week.
(, Thu 19 Mar 2009, 15:12, 75 replies)
I think I love you
I don't understand you, but I think I love you.

(, Thu 19 Mar 2009, 15:14, closed)
Gets my click of the week too

(, Thu 19 Mar 2009, 15:16, closed)
(, Thu 19 Mar 2009, 15:20, closed)
"No, the persistence of evil actions by religious people is not an argument against religion."

Well...to be fair, it's a pretty good argument against religion.

That's like saying the "persistence of evil actions by Nazis is not an argument against Nazism"
(, Thu 19 Mar 2009, 15:23, closed)
Not really.
It's hard to see how you could claim to be a Nazi without subscribing to at least a significant part of the ideology that drove the Nazis to do abhorrent things. But you can subscribe to a religion without having to accept bad things, or even bad things done in its name. For example, a Catholic could accept the doctrine of the Trinity without having to think that the Crusades or child abuse are particularly praiseworthy.
(, Thu 19 Mar 2009, 15:26, closed)
I can't find flaw in this logic...
...I've throught about it for a while, scribbled some notes and pontificated... and I still can't find flaw.

[edit] Catholics and Nazis... Perilously close to The Sound Of Music for my liking.
(, Thu 19 Mar 2009, 15:29, closed)
I'll concede; that sounds like a fair argument.
(, Thu 19 Mar 2009, 15:29, closed)
*does victory dance*
This is why I'm intolerable in seminars and at conferences. Speakers can't take the victory dancng, and chairs get knocked over.
(, Thu 19 Mar 2009, 15:31, closed)
Pictures, now!
Or it didn't happen.

You know the rules Enzyme.
(, Thu 19 Mar 2009, 15:33, closed)
Is it not the point...
... that religions all assume they are "right", which means that non-followers are "wrong" (choose your definition of right and wrong to fit). This leads in a more of less extreme way to two things:

1) You consider yourself superior to others, because you are on the "right" side.

2) You consider it your duty to bring people to see the "right" side. For their own good, of course.

It's no different to any other reason for being divisive - nationality, skin colour, whatever you choose, but it leads directly to unnecessary division and that leads to conflict, which itself leads to needless suffering.

I better stop before I turn into John Lennon.
(, Thu 19 Mar 2009, 15:38, closed)
Not necessarily
Buddhists don't proselytise; Jews haven't since the Maccabees rebellion.

Of course, holding a belief implies a secondary belief that you are correct. But that doesn't have any normative significance at all. I believe that Purcell was a better composer than Handel, that there is life elsewhere in the galaxy, that Moby Dick is a better book than Harry Potter, that Golbach's conjecture is true, and so on. Implicity, I think that people who disagree are wrong. Whether I have a duty to correct them, though, is a different matter.

But I can still say, "Fine. Let's argue it out." I'm not wedded to any of those beliefs. Those that turn out to be false, I or my interlocutor has a duty of some sort to ditch. What remains, with luck, will be truth-tracking.

Still - I don't see how correcting false beliefs leads to suffering. If you believe that the seventh digit of pi is "w", I can explain to you why that is false, and why you should abandon your beliefs. I don't think you'd suffer as a result.
(, Thu 19 Mar 2009, 15:45, closed)
If it were logical it would not be a religion.
That is more or less the definition of one. You can't argue out religion because you are "right" and nothing can change that.

The other great thing about Harry Potter is that you don't believe that I will go to Hell (come back as a cockroach or whatever) if I prefer that to Moby Dick. However, if I have the wrong religion then that's where I will end and surely it's your duty to help me avoid that. It does raise the stakes somewhat.

You are quite right. There is nothing inherently problematic about disagreement. What that neglects, however, is human nature. Put 10,000 "Potterites" one side of a fence and 10,000 "Dickites" the other. Make them live side-by-side for 100 years and then open the gate. I bet you the first stone will be thrown within the hour because if you put a large group of people with similar views together they will simply amplify each other's opinions, and a radical element emerges. You don't need the "official" version of a religion to be violent or evangelical. That element will emerge on its own.

Anything that divides people tends to generate conflict, and anything as important as where you will spend eternity is always going to divide.

I have no problem with your disagreeing with this - most of the issues are pretty subjective - but I see religion as an unnecessary reason for (irreconcilable) division and therefore a bad thing.
(, Thu 19 Mar 2009, 16:16, closed)
"Buddhists don't proselytise" eh?
My arse they don't, buddhists created the first documented missionaries in the entire world, otherwise their religion probably wouldn't have spread as far as it has. Pretty much any rather large religion in this day and age has had very active proselytisisation at one point.
(, Sat 21 Mar 2009, 13:40, closed)
You get my
(, Thu 19 Mar 2009, 15:25, closed)
I expect
that by the end of the week Enzyme is going to be a seething cauldron of hatred, snapping his teeth at everyone who sneezes because someone will invariably say "God bless you".

This is gonna be fun.
(, Thu 19 Mar 2009, 15:27, closed)
(, Thu 19 Mar 2009, 15:28, closed)
I'll be sitting in a corner, rocking and weeping.

'Sides: I'm not a hater. I just have a very low tolerance of sloppy thinking.
(, Thu 19 Mar 2009, 15:29, closed)
*logs on to b3ta for the first time in a while*


*clicks this post*

I can't think of anything again...I'm worried about my firing blanks in the post department of late.

Maybe God is telling me to do something else with my life...other than fuck about on here all day...

*runs from Enzyme wrath*
(, Thu 19 Mar 2009, 15:37, closed)
It's a hat-trick of poor questions.

Or a Trinity. Hallelujah!
(, Thu 19 Mar 2009, 15:39, closed)
How about....
...the complete lack of any concrete evidence whatsoever that god or indeed gods exist, or ever have, whilst on the flipside we now have plenty of proven facts that debunk much of the waffle in those near-prehistoric scribblings about the history of the Earth and various aspects of the workings of the universe at large?

Obviously we haven't collected the full set yet and science tends to err on the side of caution in case it blows something up that it shouldn't, but still the ratio of fact-to-fiction so far is quite compelling, don't you think?

Religion is proof only of the persistence of mankind's abject stupidity. That and Shaun Ryder still having a career in the music industry - I mean, for fuck's sake, WHY?.
(, Thu 19 Mar 2009, 15:42, closed)
I wouldn't get excited about debunking them.
To the extent that they're genuine pre-scientific attempts to explain the world, then I have no problem with them: in fact, god hypotheses fit nicely into the history of science, alongside phlogiston.

The antiquity of a false belief doesn't bother me at all. You can have false beliefs for the best possible reason. What's in very poor taste is adhering to them in the face of their inadequacy - but that applies to all beliefs, religious or otherwise.
(, Thu 19 Mar 2009, 15:48, closed)
Fair enough...
...good enough for the masses until we knew better. But how do you explain Shaun Ryder? Eh? Eh? I said EH?
(, Thu 19 Mar 2009, 15:51, closed)
Daaaaaaaamn right
"And for the atheists - don't think you get off.
No, the persistence of evil is not an argument against the existence of god.
No, the persistence of evil actions by religious people is not an argument against religion."

I would add though that the arguments used by non-religious about religious people and violence are usually as the violence perpetrated by religious types is *because* of their religion. Hence "No-one ever killed anyone in the name of atheism." But then people shout Stalin and Hitler and what not and then atheists start crying.

"No, you don't have a right to your beliefs, either." - True, but the better arguments are usually on the atheists side.

Have you come across many atheists that are opposed to this line of thought? I can't think of an example, but I'm sure there are some.
(, Thu 19 Mar 2009, 15:47, closed)
Oh for fuck's sake, let's get this out of the way too
Hitler was a Catholic, not an atheist. Whether that had any bearing on him wanting to kill Jews, gypsies and homosexuals is another matter entirely, but he *was* decomcratically elected by a country that was 90% Christian. Considering the other 10% has to include by definition the Jews and gypsies, can people stop banging on about how the Nazis were all atheists, because it simply is not true.
(, Fri 20 Mar 2009, 15:16, closed)
*raises hand slowly*

I agree with all of that. I'm a fairly hardcore atheist and I'd like to think that from my area of academic specialism I'm reasonably qualifed to speak about evolution.

But evolution is still only a theory. I'm afraid. It's the only plausible theory to explain the development of the world we live in, and all evidence suggests it's correct, but it's still only a theory, because we can't absolutely prove that it's true. That's how science works.

But only being a theory doesn't make it any less valid.

You have saved me bothering to read QOTW for the rest of the week, though, so good work ;)
(, Thu 19 Mar 2009, 16:17, closed)
I think the point is that "theory" has more than one meaning.
You use "theory" in a strict scientific sense by which essentially everything we "know" is simply a description of the best model we currently have for explaining the evidence. A scientific "theory" can be supported by overwhelming evidence without being certain. Einstein trumps Newton, and so forth.

Common use of "theory", however, is just something you guess at without much evidence to support it. Evolution is not this, and so is not a "theory" as most people use the word.

Intelligent Design advocates love this conflict of meaning because it belittles evolution in the eyes of those (the large majority) who don't follow the difference.

I think.
(, Thu 19 Mar 2009, 16:30, closed)
You can't use "theory"
to mean anything other than it's absolute scientific meaning, really. It has a very specific and definite meaning.

I see your point about common usage of words being acceptable, but in this example, that's simply not the case. There is no flexibility in the meaning of theory. It means what it does. The word for something you guess at and have little evidence to support is "hypothesis"

Using it to mean anything else is basically just stating "I don't know what this word means, but fuck it, I'll use it anyway"

which at best is a little silly.

EDIT - and again, see your point about ID. But that can just be (slightly childishly) countered with - "hold on, you're so retarded you don't even know what a fairly simple word MEANS and yet you want us to accept a complex scientific explanation you've just formulated?"

rather than essentially lowering ourselves to their level purely for the purpose of debasing their argument.
(, Thu 19 Mar 2009, 16:38, closed)
The problem is it does mean "conjecture"...
.. in most common definitions.

I take the second definition from dictionary.com as an example, but 6th & 7th are more damning.

Theory : a proposed explanation whose status is still conjectural, in contrast to well-established propositions that are regarded as reporting matters of actual fact.

Thus the "theory" of evolution is conjectural and not a fact.

I do not believe this at all, but that's what it means to most people.

I would be delighted if you would take on the task of explaining the true meaning to the populous at large (please start with the US), but until that is achieved, evolution is not a "theory" as most people use the word.

Edit - This is the danger of scientific words having "real world" meanings, but is that worse than when papers were written in Latin and only other scientists could understand them? The only solution is a good broad scientific education for all, but that becomes an ever more distant dream.
(, Thu 19 Mar 2009, 16:59, closed)
But it ISN'T a fact, though
that's the problem. It is conjectural.

Also, it's "real-world" meaning IS scientific.

I know I may be debating semantics - and I see your point - but in the case of this word, to suggest we should allow this because that's what it means to "most people" (actually I'm not convinced that's true either) doesn't wash.

I'll happily accept misuse of scientific definitions by the general public in non-scientific arenas, but in this case you're talking about a complete misuse of a word's meaning within a context whereby ONLY that meaning is valid, and that's not acceptable, at least to me.
(, Thu 19 Mar 2009, 17:10, closed)
I agree that it's not a fact.
And I never meant to imply that I thought it was. Apologies if that's how it seemed. I was presenting the anti-evolution argument as it is often presented.

The thing is that it's not a guess either, which is much closer to what "theory" means to most.

I will happily accept that one should not say "it's not a theory" because strictly it is. It's rather like saying a pumpkin is not a fruit. The fact that it is does not mean you should put it in your fruit salad.
(, Thu 19 Mar 2009, 17:25, closed)
There's a difference between a conjecture and a shot in the dark.

Evolutionary theory is the former. Creationists treat it as though it was the latter.
(, Thu 19 Mar 2009, 17:44, closed)
I agree
I'm just refusing to give up on correct meaning because of how fuckwits interpret it ;)
(, Thu 19 Mar 2009, 18:05, closed)
"Theory" to the scientist has a much more defined meaning - something along the lines of the best, most parsimonious explanation of phenomena, combined with predictive ability derived from that explanation.

So it's not a licence to say "Well, I think that...". You need money where your mouth is.
(, Thu 19 Mar 2009, 17:42, closed)
That's what I said, though.
evolution is a theory. The fact that the uneducated don't know what theory means isn't a valid reason to say that it is something different.
(, Thu 19 Mar 2009, 18:03, closed)
I know.
I just parroted you to sound clever.
(, Thu 19 Mar 2009, 19:10, closed)
I don't know why.
I think by managing to deal with everything that will come up on this QOTW in one post, you've saved us all a lot of bother and one may suggest you are clever enough.

but no, I'm not offering a reacharound ;)
(, Fri 20 Mar 2009, 9:40, closed)
The standard comeback
"evolution is just a theory"

"so is gravity"

Short, snappy, accurate, and simple enough that someone who thinks "evolution is just a theory" is a good argument can understand it.
(, Mon 23 Mar 2009, 13:40, closed)
Too loooooooong
Presumably the persistence of evil is evidence against certain specific definitions of god though?

If you have a solution to Hume's "Whence evil?" problem I'd be interested to hear it.

For those unfamiliar with it:
"Is he [god] willing to prevent evil, but not able? then he is impotent. Is he able, but not willing? then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? whence then is evil?"
(, Thu 19 Mar 2009, 16:29, closed)
Augustinian and Irenaen thoedicies (particularly the second) are normally quoted here.
(, Thu 19 Mar 2009, 17:14, closed)
It might be that god is morally indifferent, or has a different moral code from us. (Maybe we're wrong.)

Plus, evil seems to be perspectival, to at least some extent. For example, the "evil" of smallpox is evil only from an anthropic perspective. To the bacillus in question, vaccination is the evil.

The problem lies in assuming that god's view coincides with ours, for which we have no evidence at all.
(, Thu 19 Mar 2009, 17:48, closed)
you mean a solution apart from
it's a pointless series of words designed to give first-year philosophy students something to debate in bars to sound clever? ;)

It's meaningless except if you consider a god to be a personification of human traits.
(, Thu 19 Mar 2009, 18:15, closed)
Not completely useless
I don't think that it's particularly pointless, but it's certainly not without problems. I do think it's quite a good first gambit against those of a more fluffy religious nature who insist that god is omnipotent and omnibenevolent.

As has been pointed out, the weight of this argument does depend on god's point of view coinciding with ours or, more basically, that god is in some way comprehensible to us. If neither of those things are true then all bets are off, but it would make religion rather pointless.
(, Fri 20 Mar 2009, 11:10, closed)
All true
but you didn't ask for an analysis of whether religion is pointless or not, just for a solution of Hume's statement.

and the solution is, it's meaningless rubbish because it makes a massive and indefensible assumption.

job done.

Edit - or to put it another way, did you actually meant "a solution to Hume's statment that would appeal to and be understood by those soft enough in the head to believe in a "beardy sky wizard" form of a god"

In which case, my question is, why waste your fucking time? it's not like you'll convince them their god doesn't exist.
(, Fri 20 Mar 2009, 12:55, closed)
Sorry tMB, I'm not quite following you here. Are you saying that this

"It's meaningless except if you consider a god to be a personification of human traits."

is your solution? It may just be because it's Friday, but I'm missing why god is required to be 'a personification of human traits' to give this meaning, unless by 'a personification of human traits' you mean 'comprehensible to us'.

In short, what's the massive indefensible assumption that it's making?
(, Fri 20 Mar 2009, 13:24, closed)
It's also not meaningless
when you consider that for a few million Abrahamics that god IS a personification of human traits (or vice versa, which equates to the same thing).
(, Fri 20 Mar 2009, 14:32, closed)
but the statment IS meaningless to them
because anyone religious is hardly going to look at it and go "Oh my. well, in one sentence my faith is shattered. There is no God. Well done Hume"

so why waste time thinking about it? It's meaningless to the non-religious and of no consequence to the religious.
(, Fri 20 Mar 2009, 17:01, closed)
because the statement conveys upon this "god"
traits that can only be described in human terms. Evil, omniscence, omnipotence. It relies also on human preconceptions of evil.

because, fundamentally, if what "we" call evil and what the beardy sky wizard calls evil differ, then the point of the statement disappears.

And even ignoring the whole "god doesn't exist thing" and stretching reality to assume that there is some higher power, don't you think it's just a touch arrogant to assume that this god would work in human terms? we are neither the most populus species nor the one with greatest longevity. We view ourselves as the most important only by our own sheer arrogance.

So, basically, you want to know the solutions? there are two real (ie for the non-devoutly religious) - it's either a)irrelevant or b) meaningless as a statement because either a) there isn't a god or b) if you must, a god would be relevant to all species and therefore not judgable by human criteria ..

or one imaginary solution, for the devoutly religious. I don't know what that is, because I wouldn't waste my time thinking about it because it's not like they would listen.
(, Fri 20 Mar 2009, 16:49, closed)
Yes but
I think that you're side-stepping this question rather too glibly. I doubt that the question would still be a matter for discussion after 2 millenia if there was such a simple answer.

On one hand I agree with you. It is arrogant to think that such a god necessarily works in human terms and can be described through human language. However, if that is the case it would seem that god's actions, views and intentions are utterly incomprehensible. So there is very little point in worshipping such a being since the outcome is completely unpredictable. The logical conclusion to a theist saying that god is beyond human understanding or ineffable is that they are simply kowtowing to a being because that being is almighty, not because that being is benevolent, which is fair enough if you can stomach it.

However... the argument is usually directed against theists who *do* attribute the relevant characteristics (omnipotence and omnibenevolence) to god and maintain that he has these characteristics in ways that humans can understand. *This* is the problem for which I was seeking a solution i.e., the coexistence of an omnibenevolent, omnipotent god and a world that contains evil. I think your first objection is not relevant, it doesn't matter that we have different definitions of evil as long as we accept that the world does contain evil. To create a problem it is enough that we suffer and that, by definition, an omnipotent god could prevent that.

The Augustinian and Iranaen theodicies both seem pretty weak to me, but they are at least attempts to explain the situation whilst not redifining any of the terms (fighting the hypo!)

So when I think it through, I come to the conclusion that either (i) all bets are off because god is utterly incomprehensible, or that god is (ii) non-existent, or (iii) - in human terms - morally indifferent. One conclusion I also come to on the way to (i) is that terms like 'omnipotent', 'omnibenevolent' and particularly 'perfect' are drastically mis-used in this kind of debates because they have no real explanatory power in terms of what god would or wouldn't/can or can't do.
(, Fri 20 Mar 2009, 17:56, closed)
I know what you're saying
but I still don't think that's the point. I think, to put it bluntly, at least on this statement, all it proves is that theists who debate this are idiots. There are blatantly obvious solutions that they disregard because of their assumptions about their "god's" character.

terms like omnipotent are massively misused, but then they are only meaningful to theists anyway. But belief is misused - atheists don't have beliefs, for example, because a belief demands that it is held in the face of a lack of supporting evidence. Atheists just know there is no god. Admittedly that's difficult for me to vindicate in the face of my comments about theories above, but that's basically how it is.
(, Sun 22 Mar 2009, 21:38, closed)
The persistence of evil
...is an argument about the nature of god/gods. I don't believe in any gods and I'm glad I don't because the ones I've heard about generally sound like complete bastards.
(, Thu 19 Mar 2009, 16:31, closed)
The persistence of evil
I can see why you say that it's not an argument against God - there have been so many theories over the years that every one is counteracted by another. I have to say, though, that I don't agree with you.

When I was studying philosophy I read up on every counter-argument I could find, and I found them all flawed in some way. It depends on your definition of free will really - if you believe ours is unlimited then you can argue that God could still exist in spite of evil.

If, however, like me you believe that our free will is already limited then all the arguments for God in the face of evil fall apart.

For those still reading, take the example of a general who has to attack an enemy emplacement. It turns out he's useless and most of his men are killed. Later on, strategy experts create a plan that would have resulted in far fewer deaths. This option was theoretically open to the general but because he was unable to think of it (his free will was limited by his own mind), it's not something he could have ever done. Unlimited free will is impossible without omnipotence, so it doesn't matter if God intervenes with humanity - he's not affecting something that was unaffected to start with.
(, Thu 19 Mar 2009, 17:22, closed)
I'm not sure of this.
I'll respond tomorrow when I'm more sober.

"Professional philosopher" implies "frequently drunk". Sorry.

SOBER UPDATE, 12:00 the following day. Nope. I can't make sense of this. I'll respond tomorrow when I'm more drunk.
(, Thu 19 Mar 2009, 17:49, closed)
Fair enough
It's probably because, unlike most of my posts, I was sober when I wrote that one...

I was saying that I don't think it possible to defend the existance of evil using the fact that we have free will - without omniscience, we are limited in the number of actions we can think of and/or perform. This means that the Irenaen theodicy (which to my mind is stronger than the Augustine) falls down on the grounds that if our free will is already limited, there's no reason for God not to intervene to prevent evil.
(, Wed 25 Mar 2009, 13:47, closed)
Please enlighten us on what you reckon, then?
(, Fri 20 Mar 2009, 1:26, closed)
I'm increasingly drawn to Jonathan Miller's opinion...
... which is that he doesn't understand why anyone would take the trouble to describe himself as an atheist, because the absence of god is so obvious that it's baffling why anyone would make a big thing of it. I don't call myself an a-fairyist, or an a-unicornist.

Still - if you insist - then I am atheist. However, that doesn't mean that I have any time at all for the boneheaded and prissy little atheists I mentioned in the post.
(, Fri 20 Mar 2009, 9:44, closed)
You mean
you're NOT a-unicornist? Then there may be hope for you yet, the Mystical brotherhood of Unicorns and associated Mythic Beasties (North Wester Chapter) might just be the people, and Unicorns, to save your soul.
(, Fri 20 Mar 2009, 13:28, closed)
Fair enough
I think the reason people do bother identifying themselves as atheists is that there's still kind of a cultural assumption that you're either a believer or quite apathetic to believers, and I'm neither. I think there isn't a God, and I'm quite happy to say so. That's not a big deal for me, it may be for some people, but it doesn't mean I should avoid the subject.
(, Sat 21 Mar 2009, 14:00, closed)
(, Fri 20 Mar 2009, 10:28, closed)
Clearly not
(, Fri 20 Mar 2009, 19:21, closed)
I like kittums.

(, Fri 20 Mar 2009, 13:28, closed)
"No, your claims to be a "very spiritual person" do not demonstrate that you are "profound". They demonstrate that you are a cretin."
(, Sat 21 Mar 2009, 11:43, closed)
I am editing this. Tidying it, if you will. If you've clicked and subsequently decided that you don't like my editing... bad luck, eh?

The thing is - if this is going to be at the top of my profile, I want it to read correctly.
(, Sun 22 Mar 2009, 10:04, closed)
This is so unfair.
You've presented an argument from a position of knowledge, authority, clear thinking and rational thought, based on evidence and sound scientific theory.

Those poor God-bothering types only have a book to do their thinking for them, and an imaginary friend who doesn't talk to them.
I almost wrote "Got help them" :-)
(, Mon 23 Mar 2009, 12:44, closed)
Sounds about right, but...
...add one more to the believer list:
No, your denomination/sub-group's sociological norms (clothing, diet, sexual practises) are not the sine qua non of faith.

...and one to the atheist list:
No, the dogmatic and/or violent stupidities of a small - albeit extremely vocal - subset of believers in non-core areas does not axiomatically apply to the larger superset and per se invalidate belief.
(, Tue 24 Mar 2009, 10:43, closed)
one more...
which goes on both lists:

No, the congregation/ethnic group is not the same as the set of believers, nor is it a simple superset.
(, Tue 24 Mar 2009, 11:41, closed)
Fucking Men!
(, Tue 24 Mar 2009, 15:59, closed)
sorry to crash the self congratulation and back slapping party, but I'm afraid Im going to have to pop those balloons (and piss in that punch bowl)

such a sneery distainful display of supreme arrogance have I rarely seen

grossly over simplified with straw man arguments within the parameters that you yourself have defined

and to then berate agnostics for 'sitting on the fence' is crude in the extreme and shows the type of arrogance worthy of the worst fundamentalist traits you say you deplore so much within the same post - how can you claim to know what process or conclusions agnostics have reached to take such a position? did you patent your mind reading device?

agnosticism relates to belief about whether the existence of a divine presence is (or can be) known , It does not "indicate intellectual barrenness" as you put it but a humility and acceptance that there is a limit to what we can ultimately 'know'

there are no certainties, certainly not in scientific process as you seem to understand it - yes, we know religion is a crock but dismmissing a thousand year old sociatal control mechanism does not disprove the existance of a divine presence - you are only disproving the narrow personal absolute God of the relgious traditions - even within the bible it is clear the vengeful god of the OT is different from the New Testament compassionate one - religion is an easy target to trash but that does not translate to trashing belief in a higher force

had you any knowledge fo eastern tradition or even quantum physics (at the cutting edge of current scientific thinking) you’d understand to even establish what constitutes 'reality' is also highly speculative

ah but reality is concensus - you argue - but how can I know for sure the existance of minds outside my own? you see the problem?

you must also understand your criteria for deciding what methods are appropriate for deciding if something is true or not

does logic counts as evidence concerning the quality of existence ? subjective experience? can logic or evidence rule in or out the existance of a divine presence? I guess you've solved the problem of the big bang then?

and let's also mention, btw, the limits of semantics in it's ability to explain these abstracts - because its obvious the problem is conceptual and teh big bang paradox by its very nature shows something operating outside these paramenters we are using to interpret reality

you can only unltimately know one truth which transcends all scientific and religious theory speculation

you are aware of being aware - this is the only truth you can truely know for certain - all other consentual reality is open to interpretation

how can i know anything exists apart from my own awareness (solid objects are only energy at different vibrational ranges and at the quantum level we have further paradoxical observations)...and we still haven't touched onto the concept of a divine presence yet

science can only and will only describe what we currently understand at present based upon it's own methods of determining and quantitfying reality - it is a process never reaching a conclusion by its very nature - merely allowing speculation based on its own modes and methods of collecting the data within the parameters it sets

you have proven nothing apart from your ability to patronise and display a self important air of supreme arrogance

my own personal view is this eastern tradition based on humility - that ultimately I can really only know my own awareness and I put alot of value in the Socrates' pragmatic argument


since we can never know either way what truth or reality or if there is a divine presence is anyway - but if believing x results in a process of optimum survival/pleasure/ethical living (not morals which as you know are comletely different to ethics)and mutual respect for the sovereign rights of my fellow man (common law principles of no harm or loss) ... then believe in x

you haven't disproved (or proven ) the existance of a divine presence(impersonal or otherwise) - what you have proven however, with remarkable clarity, is the utter contempt you have for your fellow human beings right to hold personal beliefs which differ from your own worthy of Marie Antoinette's court when the sweet trolly came round


oh, and by the way, did you know Boyle and Wren formed the invisible college precisely to study the book of nature (science) and this book of knowledge (the bible) as even the person regarded as the greatest scientist who lived, Newton, knew there is an esoteric meaning to biblical text from these mystery schools - which perfectly describes the process of evolution :

Genesis (gene of Isis)

Gen.1:26 the Elohime says: "Let us make man in our image and likeness"

(Elohime) male and female they (plural - not 1 god) created him/her (adam) describes the process of mind before matter evolution of asexual vegetable matter into animal life to 'those in the know'

evolution in the bible who'd have thunk it missus! :)

this is a bigger mystery than you or I will ever know - the difference between me and you is, however, I'm humble enough to admit it and remain agnostic

EDIT: ask The Great Architect's 'higher up' friends (or your own ;) ) 'in the know' about how many great scientific minds subscribed to these 'mind before matter' mysteries - the crude religious/ scientific conflict was always meant for us 'profane', as they call us. Much like the bogus communism vs capitalism conflict - all conflicts they design to produce a 'third way'...with the science v religion hegelian dialectic their aim is Gaia, green earth worship, Gorbachev talks about which we now see emerging and mention is made of in the elitist think tank known as 'The CLub Of Romes' writings
(, Thu 26 Mar 2009, 13:14, closed)
*skim reads*
*spots the phrase "all other consentual reality is open to interpretation"*
*gets measure of objection*
*realises that life is much, much, much too short*

You really ought to come to Riverghost's bash, you know.
(, Thu 26 Mar 2009, 14:37, closed)
awww diddums
did I spoil your 'show piece' post - I saw you mention that you're editing it because you'll know it'll appear at the top of your profile page (which kind of assumes you expect alot of 'I like this clicks' which even for you shows a new level of arrogance)

couldn't resist pissing all over your arrogant egotistical inconsistencies and reasoning

it's the least I could do - you've been trolling every post I've done for the past year, someone has to point out how totally up yourself you've become

and like that slow line at the cheese counter - it seems, today, my number had come up


p.s. it seems unlikely that I will ever be at a b3ta bash - not only beacuse of my lifestyle but by the fact I need an excel spreadsheet these days to keep track of all the B3tans that I've come close to arranging boxing matches with - unless you could arrange a queueing system so I could deal with them individually? maybe that ticket roll at the cheese counter
(, Thu 26 Mar 2009, 14:43, closed)
Well, you mentioned the cheese counter...
... so I suggest one of those ticket things that you get at Tesco. First come, first served - I'm useless with spreadsheets.

Incidentally - editing for clarity and being up-front about it is one thing. Editing posts to make objectors look silly is quite another, and I've not done that.

Do I take it that you didn't click?
(, Thu 26 Mar 2009, 15:01, closed)
I've already
had this out with Aththegeordie a while back who couldn't back up the allegation when probed

do you really want to get into this?

I have never post edited to do this

I have however post edited for clarity, correct bad spelling and grammar and to expand a point but NEVER to make objectors look silly - you hardley need much help on that score ;)

by the way what defines how someone thinks of as making them look silly is kind of a vague subjective term is it not for a pedant like you
(, Thu 26 Mar 2009, 15:03, closed)
It's the expanding a point, really...
... and the way that it shades into ad hoc and ex post facto modification.

Short of taking a screen-grab every time someone replies to you, I can't prove anything. You know this. However, we both know what I mean.

I do rather aim at... well, I was going to say pedanty, but I don't think that that's it. Cold rigour, perhaps. I value good arguments - but little else. And where there is sloppy argument, or none at all, I do get a little twitchy.

Righty-ho. I've a seminar soon, so doubt I'll be able to reply before the question closes.

It's a shame about the bash, by the way. I really am a shameful wimp, so you'd flatten me. Indeed - that's why I rely on words. It's the only way I can flatten people back. I think arguing the toss over a pint with you'd be fun!
(, Thu 26 Mar 2009, 15:27, closed)
this is the best post I've read this week by a country mile!

Cheers Goat -

If I could click a million times I would!
(, Thu 26 Mar 2009, 15:13, closed)
what our party lacks in numbers it makes up for in quality of guests
(, Thu 26 Mar 2009, 15:19, closed)
"you have proven nothing apart from your ability to patronise and display a self important air of supreme arrogance"


"Mr. Pot, Mr. Kettle. Mr Kettle, Mr. Pot"

Right, now that the introductions are out of the way...

come on, let's keep it civil fellas :)
Could we get you both in the boardroom with Sir Alan?
That'd be one hell of a boardroom battle
(, Thu 26 Mar 2009, 17:00, closed)

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