Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Some further comments by Feser

I think this part of his post needs to be underscored. 

Don’t expect the scales to fall from their eyes anytime soon, though.  It is hard enough for anyone to say “I was wrong.”  But the New Atheist has to say much more than that.  To admit his errors really amounts to saying “I am exactly the sort of person that I have loudly, publicly, and repeatedly denounced and ridiculed, and the hating of whom gives me my sense of identity and self-worth.”  That requires a nearly superhuman degree of honesty and courage.  So, while this or that New Atheist loudmouth might, like David, finally see himself for what he really is, I think we can expect the bulk of them to continue their spiral into intellectual and moral darkness.  All in the name of reason and morality, of course.

143 comments:

The Uncredible Hallq said...

Really Vic? You think this kind of blanket, baseless ad hominem is something that "needs to be underscored?"

Removing this blog from my Google Reader... hopefully I'll be able to resist the temptation to re-add it.

bossmanham said...

Talk about confirming the post.

John W. Loftus said...

You don't get it do you Vic? Your god is dying. We no longer fear him or his priests, pastors, prophets or professors. We think you are deluded in the same way that Scientologists are deluded. I don't expect you like this, but then you can always try to come up with evidence for your particular God that will convince the myriad number of other religious believers out there.

Victor Reppert said...

The point here is that when you commit yourself to attacking something, then to consider why one might be in error in the way one has constructed one's case involves a kind of humility that is difficult to achieve.

Victor Reppert said...

I thought you believed that God never existed to begin with. A nonexistent being cannot die. I presented some evidence a few posts back that Christianity is gaining numbers and atheism is losing.

It's preposterous to suggest that the evidential situation for Scientology (an enterprise built on deliberate fraud) and Christianity are equivalent. Or even that the evidential condition of Islam is as bad as that of Scientology. I happen to think both beliefs are false, but I think Islam has more purchase on the minds of intelligent persons than does Scientology.

John W. Loftus said...

Vic, tell ya what, give me a direct answer to the questions I asked here. No sidestepping, no non-sequitors, no red herrings, no special pleading or begging the question, or a host of other fallacies.

Not only can you NOT provide any real non-question begging positive evidence for what you believe that holds any sway. You cannot even answer these simple questions.

I would think that any religious faith worth its salt should be able to answer some basic questions reasonably and provide some non-question begging evidence on its behalf.

That's why so many atheist ridicule you and your faith. Because we're listening to you and finding nothing, nada, zip, zilch.

The emperor has no clothes. How can we respect you or your beliefs? Sure I can respect you because your educated and intelligent (never denied that), but you are also dense and ignorant too in trying to desperately defend the indefensible.

John W. Loftus said...

Vic, Scientology actually has a better rational origination than your faith did. Your faith began with people whom God whispered in their ears what to tell everyone else who subsequently believed what they heard. Give Scientologists enough time and they will gradually change what they believe too, as they grow and learn. You do not believe the Bible, Vic. You believe what centuries of theologians and exegetes have done with it to keep it respectable in the eyes of those they wish to convince as civilization and science progressed. So will Scientology given enough time. And as Christianity became aware of a bigger world its god grew too. Give Scientologists the time and the numbers and then they could be a global phenomenon. Then your alter ego Scientologist scholar in that world will claim as you now do that it's preposterous that any new religion that comes along should be compared with Scientology. All religions start off small, as cults, that people say are preposterous. Yours did too.

You fail to see the non-rational factors that produce religious belief and why they are the same for all religious beliefs.

Victor Reppert said...

You can find non-rational factors that explain why someone holds any belief whatsoever, including atheism. It's a game everyone can play and no one can win.

John W. Loftus said...

Vic, some more ignorance. Once we know that non-rational factors influence what we believe then we learn that skepticism is a virtue. We learn to question everything we think to some degree. Atheism is simply a full blown skepticism.

Skepticism is like a filter we run our ideas through. Those that pass through we can accept. those that don't, don't. and the best and as far as anyone can say) the best way to know what we can accept comes from the sciences.

Atheism is an adult attitude. It simple does not accept religious beliefs. As I said recently on my blog:

Precisely because I know how our brains distort information I am skeptical of that which I want to be true, and more importantly, I demand evidence for what I believe. Have you ever seen TV programs like CSI and/or Law & Order? Something like that. They need evidence to arrest someone just like I need evidence to believe. So how can I be skeptical of my conclusion that some belief doesn't have any evidence for it, if there isn't any evidence for it, or if the evidence is weak? Atheists are known as non-believers for that very reason.

John W. Loftus said...

[Corrected}

Skepticism is like a filter we run our ideas through. Those that pass through we can accept. Those that don't, we don't. And the best (and as far as anyone can say) the ONLY way to know what we can accept comes from the sciences.

Victor Reppert said...

There was an ancient Greek skeptic who decided that since he didn't believe anything, he couldn't say anything either. And since he couldn't say anything, he just sat down in the city square and wagged his index finger.

Victor Reppert said...

So I can believe anything that comes along so long as someone packages it to me as a science? Or do I have to have some criteria to begin with as to what is real science and what isn't? And how do I get that criteria, since my mind distorts everything and leads to irrational conclusions?

John W. Loftus said...

You speak of Cratylus? Why? You have to resort to extremes in order to show a point? Why not mention Descartes too?

What's your point? Does it have anything to do with not demanding evidence for what we believe? Does it have anything to do with not needing answers to basic questions before we should believe?

If so, you've missed the mark so badly in order to defend your faith that it's obvious you're deluded.

It's the basic either/or fallacy. Either we become gullible like you in believeing what we were raised to believe, or we become like Cratylus.

Is that what you're saying?

Sheesh, get me out of here now.

John W. Loftus said...

More science bashing.

Would you admit you're ignorant about science Vic?

And you want an equal spot at the table with scientists?

No way, my friend, no way.

John W. Loftus said...

Here's an example posted recently on my blog:

I do think it’s fair to say New Atheists favor science and are suspicious of philosophy generally, and theology in particular. To my mind, there are several good reasons for this.

Like me, I suspect most New Atheists grew up seeing and benefitting from the ever-increasing fruits of science. It’s been said a million times, but I don’t think it can be over-emphasized: Science works. Science produces things. Philosophy and theology, on the other hand, seem only to produce more and more words.

Neither ever seem to resolve anything. Witness the debate over Thomism vs. Scotism...I’ll admit to knowing very little about either, but I do know that Duns Scotus died around 1300, about 40 years after Aquinas. Can you think of a significant scientific dispute that remains no closer to being resolved after 700 years? Shit, philosophers still debate Euthyphro.

Another example:

At least 4/5 of the medical profession thought that Louis Pasteur was a raving lunatic about antiseptic practices.

But Pasteur was a scientist, not a philosopher. And within only a few decades of years the doubting four-fifths had come around, and Pasteurization was ubiquitous around the world. So I put it to you – in how many years can we expect Thomas’ Fifth Proof, or the Kalaam, or the Argument from Reason – or even just Dualism, for cripe’s sake! -- to be accepted with similar unanimity?

Victor Reppert said...

The problem is that skepticism is a not a virtue across the board.

And spare me the "you believe what you were raised to believe" stuff. I reject all sorts of things that I was raised to believe. I was raised, pretty much, to be a Republican, but I am a Democrat now. I could have changed my mind if I had had enough reason to do so.

Victor Reppert said...

Some subject matters are tractable to science, and others are not. Hammers are very effective in driving in nails, but the wrong tool for other jobs. But if all you have is a hammer, it would be convenient to believe that everything is a nail. But that doesn't mean that everything really is a nail.

John W. Loftus said...

Vic, why isn't Cratylus's skepticism not a virtue? He was questioning. And I'm equally sure that he did not just sit around wagging his finger when his wife said it's time to eat. (We know nothing else about the man). His problem, like the 18th century philosophers, was the problem of certainty. They were testing the limits of knowledge. I see nothing non-virtuous about this at all. They were doing epistemology and we have learned much from them, most specifically that we cannot be certain of most anything.

And yet believers act and talk as if they are certain. Right. Tell them otherwise, okay? Apart from perhaps the Cogito ergo sum there is nothing we can be certain about.

Tell your readers this. Tell them they cannot be certain about Christianity.

Victor Reppert said...

Ignorant about science? I'm not an expert. But my argument is that if you say "Believe science", it isn't perfectly clear what you are supposed to believe. You then need some criteria to tell you what is science and what is non-science. Old joke:

"What's the difference between science and nonscience."

"Science is funded."

John W. Loftus said...

The old joke, if it has a point to make, is not funny. It reveals what you think about science. You don't trust it. You denigrate it.

No wonder we ridicule you.

Victor Reppert said...

I don't have Cartesian certainty about much of anything. So what?

John W. Loftus said...

So, either your God is detectable by the evidences of our five senses or he is not. If he is then science should show us. If not, then how in hell does he expect us to believe?

John W. Loftus said...

Vic: I don't have Cartesian certainty about much of anything. So what?

Stay focused. I was responding to you, remember?

Victor Reppert said...

Even though I don't actually think that joke is true, you are missing my obvious point that a blanket "belief in science" doesn't give you much information about what to believe. Not everything that is packaged as science is on an epistemic par with everything else that is also packaged as science.

I have to make decisions in life about things where I can't just "Ask Dr. Science."

Victor Reppert said...

Are electrons, quarks, and strings detectable with the five senses?

John W. Loftus said...

Vic when you say such things as a blanket "belief in science" doesn't give you much information about what to believe. You are confused, very confused, about science.

You must be thinking about contemporary debates in science and equating that with science as a whole. Did you read about Louis Pasteur above?

science progresses. There is a great amount of unanimity among scientists.

Touch the cover of "The New york Public Library Science Desk Reference" just once will you? It catalogs the result of science and the book is a massive one in non-technical detail. you could also touch the cover of the "Encyclopedia of Science and Technology."

I dare you. It won't hurt.

John W. Loftus said...

Vic: Are electrons, quarks, and strings detectable with the five senses?

Yes, you idiot! What? Do you not understand that the instruments we have made help us detect such things? (String theory I think is still among the contemporary debates).

Victor Reppert said...

How could you refute someone who said that although science is useful in telling us what we might expect in our experience, it only gives us information about what appears to exist, as opposed to what really does exist. Science just permits us to map our illusions, but reality is completely different from what science reveals.

Victor Reppert said...

But I can be skeptical about my instruments, can't I?

John W. Loftus said...

I would say that unless someone gives me a reason to think that what science shows us is probably false, and not just possibly false, then there is no reason to think differently.

There, that was easy. Why are easy answers so hard for you?

I taught philosophy. I know these problems. They are psuedo-problems.

Victor Reppert said...

Of course, there is a lot of information gathered by science that is tractable and to which most people, except those who are extreme skeptics, can agree. But humans can't limit themselves to those kinds of answers.

John W. Loftus said...

Oh, that's right Vic, you'll feign skepticism about microscopes and spectrometers but not of a triune god who became incarnate to atone for our misdeeds, who subsequently bodily arose from the grave in the superstitious past and will come again to throw people who were not gullible like yourself into hell.

Where's the parity here, Vic?

You are making a case for ridiculing you.

John W. Loftus said...

Vic: "But humans can't limit themselves to those kinds of answers."

Ahh yes, Plantinga's lost keys in the night story where the person only looks for them in the lamplight, right?

We cannot see away from the light, Vic. Away from the light there is assumed darkness, complete darkness. We can only search in the light for the lost keys.

If God exists he should know this and put the keys in the light where we can see them.

Victor Reppert said...

You could say that. And I could say the same thing about my religious beliefs, that I am entitled to believe them until someone gives me a reason not to.

There are plenty of people who do science who are not realists about the science they do.

Victor Reppert said...

Or maybe God wants to make it a judgment call for people. Of course, if I thought he was throwing everyone into hell who didn't make the right judgment call, that would be one thing. But you'll have to take that up with Bill Craig, not me.

John W. Loftus said...

But look at what you're assuming. You're assuming a whole boatload of things. Wouldn't Occam's razor slice that pie differently, place them in chronological order and see what you can actually defend?

I've repeatedly asked you to list your "priors" chronologically in a defensible order, rather than based on what you were raised to believe? Did you ever do this? Can you? Can you make the leaps necessary each step along the way? This is what an apologetic should do. But instead all I ever see is special pleading, non-sequiturs and begging the question at crucial junctures.

Warren said...

So this is what The Loftus meant by "I'm unsubscribing".

Warren said...

>> all I ever see is special pleading, non-sequiturs and begging the question at crucial junctures

That's what comes from looking in the mirror.

John W. Loftus said...

Vic: Or maybe God wants to make it a judgment call for people.

You know what? With your god conception anything can be used to defend such a belief. Maybe this, or maybe that.

It requires of the skeptic that s/he must show that your conception is impossible before you will ever see it as improbable. but that's unreasonable to ask that anyone should have to show something is impossible before it can be seen as improbable.

Your god conception is a delusion and there is nothing that could ever show you differently because I cannot show it's impossible.

John W. Loftus said...

The riff raff just showed up.

C'ya.

I'll take a look in later but I know I'll be underwhelmed.

Victor Reppert said...

Did I say you had to show that theism is impossible in order for me to come to think that it is improbable?

The very fact of science assumes a lot of things that fit better in a theist universe than an atheistic one. If atheism is true, we have no good rational reason for believing that the future will resemble the past. So, even though universal gravity has held good in the past, you have to assume a resemblance between future and past in order to believe that it will remain in place tomorrow.

If the universe is the result of rational creation, then we can expect the world to remain rational, and therefore for the law of gravity to remain in place tomorrow, just as it is today. If the universe was not created by a rational being, then you have to take a leap of faith and just believe that the the future will resemble the past, and that the law of gravity will apply tomorrow, just as it applies today.

Warren said...

>> The riff raff just showed up.

Still looking in that mirror, eh?

Dr. Reppert, allow me to say that I think you are truly a class act (and I really enjoyed your book). But why you give such excessive bandwidth to such an individual as JL is frankly beyond my comprehension.

woodchuck64 said...

That was like speed chess, except Loftus keeps slapping his opponent instead of the game clock.

Anonymous said...

Question of John Loftus:

As a hypothetical, suppose theists are wrong and you are right about God's existence. What is it about getting this one fact about reality incorrect that justifies the ridicule and scorn you heap on Victor? Do you react in a similar way when someone fails to get their math facts correct?

Keith Rozumalski said...

John W. Loftus said: "Yes, you idiot! What? Do you not understand that the instruments we have made help us detect such things? (String theory I think is still among the contemporary debates)."

Up until the year 1800 humans had no idea that the infrared light spectrum existed because we couldn’t perceive it with our senses. Prior to 1875 we didn’t know that X-rays existed because we couldn’t perceive it with our senses. Does this mean that infrared light didn’t exist prior to 1800 or that X-rays didn’t exist prior to 1875? Of course not we just couldn’t see it! Isn’t it possible that in the year x scientists could develop a tool to perceive the spiritual world just like they invented IR goggles and Geiger counters?

There is another parallel in nature—black holes. We can’t actually see black holes because they don’t emit or reflect light (in fact they suck light in). The only reason why scientists discovered them is because they have seen stars being pulled towards them. In much the same way we can see the effects of an unseen, spiritual God who sparked the big bang 13.7 billion years ago and formed the universe by setting the finely tuned universal constants.

Mr Veale said...

Queue anonymous...

Mr Veale said...

"Can anyone tell me why God did not do a perpetual miracle by averting that earthquake?"

No.

Warren said...

>> the ridicule and scorn you heap on Victor

No kidding. I noted "deluded", "ignorant", "dense" and "you idiot!", just in the space of an hour or so. All this aimed at a guy who is not only clearly Loftus' intellectul superior, but is also unfailingly civil in return.

I highly commend Dr. Reppert for his example of Christian charity in the face of such appallingly boorish behaviour.

John W. Loftus said...

Sooo, here I am talking to the equivalent of a Scientologist and here comes Warren who highly commends Dr. Reppert for his example of Scientologist charity in the face of such appallingly boorish behaviour.

Hooray for Vic!

Warren said...

Pure class to the end, I see.

Talk about riff raff.

cl said...

Loftus,

The post was about the intense amount of cognitive dissonance that would entail someone like yourself conceding error. The post is not about your opinion that Christians are deluded, or your opinion that Vic is a "science basher," or your opinion that Vic is an "idiot." Note that Vic refrains from making similar derogatory statements towards you, which is a mark of maturity IMHO. As an aside: do you think insulting and denigrating people makes them more--or less--open to your opinions?

Consider two atheists: one humble, who seriously considers the idea that s/he might be wrong, and accordingly treats theists and other non-atheists with respect; the other proud, who carries themselves with arrogant certainty that they are right, and accordingly treats theists with ridicule and denigration.

Is it not obvious that the latter has stronger impediments to changing their mind than the former? Is it not obvious that concession of error would entail more cognitive dissonance for the latter than the former?

Think about it: Vic could become an atheist tomorrow and would hardly have any pride to swallow, precisely because he's not spent his career badmouthing and denigrating his opponents. You, on the other hand, would have a tanker full of pride to swallow, precisely because you've spent your career denigrating and insulting your opponents. Can't you see that you're literally walled in by pride, and that this is a huge emotional impediment to clear thinking?

That's the point, and frankly, you're both missing and confirming it with every comment you make in this thread.

Doubt yourself.

Anonymous said...

Loftus changes topic so much it is impossible to argue with him. One red herring after another...

GREV said...

Now I know what was making me suspicious I had seen this before! Some of John's opinions sound a little like Comte.

Except I like Comte better. Guess I am a sucker for the 1800's.

Anonymous said...

I can only hope to one day achieve the mind-blowing level of patience that Dr. Reppert has expressed here and elsewhere towards individuals like JL. Mad props.

Anonymous said...

Credit to Vic for discussing thoughtfully and respectfully with someone who does neither.

Don McIntosh said...

John W. Loftus said:

“No sidestepping, no non-sequitors, no red herrings, no special pleading or begging the question, or a host of other fallacies.

Not only can you NOT provide any real non-question begging positive evidence for what you believe that holds any sway. You cannot even answer these simple questions.”

Since we’re talking about fallacies, I thought it would be appropriate to point out that the fallacy above is known as “poisoning the well.” The difference is that the one above is actual rather than potential.

There is seriously no point in answering someone who is publicly committed to ridiculing the answer, which may give you some hint as to why scarcely anyone bothers.

Ana said...

Atheism is simply a full blown skepticism.

Would you then derive from this John, that an atheist is simply a full- blown skeptic?

Because, that would be a curious view...as a "full-blown" skeptic, would an atheist be full-blown skeptical of atheism, or full blown skeptical of skepticism itself?

I just think the statement above is misleading John, it inflates atheism to something it's not, even to something unsustainable.

Papalinton said...

The non-substance of the judeo-christian writings, as characterised in the 39 booklets appropriated or commandeered [the Jews would say, plagiarized] from Judaic texts, onto which an amalgam of 27 disparate post hoc writings were appended, is the archetypal accreted ragbag of a village-based belief system. A system borne of the social and cultural milieu, and internecine, tribal squabbles, of a myriad of small groups of ancients, each attempting to outdo the other as to whose god[s] has or is the biggest dick. The christian religion, so redolent of all the trappings of it's direct and influential antecedents, the religious myths, rituals and texts of the Egyptians, the Mesopotamians, the Hitties, the Persians, the Babylonians, the Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans, Mithraism, etc., shares the same fundamentals, with a few regional variations to suit particular tribes, sects or coterie of like-minded sycophants, as was the jesus group.

History, real history that is, not theological or Apologetical history, shows that this direct trace is clearly and unambiguously illustrative of the interconnectedness of all these cults. Nothing more, nothing less. Nothing, not one thing, is unique or original to the raft of the christianities extant, each a branded heretical step-away from each other. The Jehovah's Witness vis-a-vis catholicism, Southern Baptist vs Methodists vs Episcopalians etc etc. A classic example; On christian love: "You say you're supposed to be nice to the Episcopalians, and the Presbyterians and the Methodists and this, that, and the other thing. Nonsense,, I don't have to be nice to the spirit of the Antichrist." From Pat Robertson, one of the pillars of christendom in the US. His perspective is symptomatic of the myriad unbridled ideas of what "IS" christianity. Such a view reflects a viral pathology for innumerable indiscriminate interpretations simply on account of it being drawn from the aimless syncretism of earlier stories, myths and legends, into an a so-called consistent narrative. Even to this very minute, there is no consistency found in the couple thousand variations of the christianities, each declaring they are the only one true christianity.

Even the most cursory perusal of history of the christianities tells us non other.

The tragedy of contemporary theism, with its schizophrenic adherence to 'tradition' epitomized by the dogged and unnatural determination for canonizing the 'accepted' texts, has resulted in a bunch of readings that at their core are unregulated, inconsistent, disparate, conflicting, dichotomous, and contradictory. Indeed every imaginable interpretation is available to the believer, a smorgasbord of pick and chose to align with your particular personal predilection, or as I say, colour or stripe of god you wish to take a fancy to.

This is anathema to reason and logic.
This why, Mormonism can compete with all other christianities, albeit from a very low base, as it only started in the mid 1800's. This is the reason the christianities can morph and shapeshift at will because its fundamental character is not based on fact, on demonstrable proofs. This is why Eastern Orthodoxy eschews the idea of the pope as the supreme good representative on earth. This is why Jehovah's Witnesses can declare that jesus was not part of god but his son, and inferior to god. Indeed trinitarianism did not formerly enter christian thinking until the 4thC CE. So what is to be believed? I suggest that this tome of christian thinking be consigned rightfully to the mythology section of the library, among its rightful place with the 'Egyptian Book of the Dead', 'Gilgamesh', the Greek pantheon, etc.

Christianity is myth, perpetuated by fear and superstition, not unlike our illiterate ancients as they tried to struggle with and make sense of the human condition. Myth, nothing more, nothing less.

GREV said...

I was going to comment on te reasonable comments by Anna which were very good. Then one finds the ramblings of someone below it which should be removed as offering little to the discussion.

I would say to the person with the need to ramble, try at least to be interesting.

Anonymous said...

Papalinton:

"You say you're supposed to be nice to the Episcopalians, and the Presbyterians and the Methodists and this, that, and the other thing. Nonsense,, I don't have to be nice to the spirit of the Antichrist." From Pat Robertson, one of the pillars of christendom in the US"

"The tragedy of contemporary theism, with its schizophrenic adherence to 'tradition' epitomized by the dogged and unnatural determination for canonizing the 'accepted' texts, has resulted in a bunch of readings that at their core are unregulated, inconsistent, disparate, conflicting, dichotomous, and contradictory. Indeed every imaginable interpretation is available to the believer, a smorgasbord of pick and chose to align with your particular personal predilection, or as I say, colour or stripe of god you wish to take a fancy to."


Andrew Finden:


"As far as mainline protestantism goes, on the central tenants they are almost always in agreement, and I would suggest that one could walk into almost any Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostal, Presbyterian or Anglican church and find that they agree with the Apostle’s Creed"

(http://www.thingsfindothinks.com/2011/02/bad-sound-bites-thousands-of-denominations/)

The Apostle's Creed:

"I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.

And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended into hell; the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy catholic Church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. AMEN."

(http://www.creeds.net/ancient/apostles.htm)

At the core, there is agreement. On the edges, there is disagreement.

When you think about it, the same is true of much of contemporary science.

GREV said...

Anonymous:

My congratulations!
That you could find a way to reply to the ramblings that was actually coherent and made sense.

Anonymous said...

I didn't mind so much thet they were ramblings, it is just that they were offered without evidence.

Bob Prokop said...

anonymous:

My view has pretty much always been that if you can say "Yes" to the Creed, then you have met the (intellectual) requirements to justly call yourself a Christian. If, in addition, you believe in the True Presence in the Eucharist, then you are a Catholic. All else is window dressing.

This, of course, is only as far as beliefs go. How one actually LIVES his beliefs is a whole different Kettle of Fish! (See James 1:27)

John W. Loftus said...

I'm unsubscribing. I didn't lie about anything.

Fuck off you delusional idiot.

Fuck off.

Mr Veale said...

Vic,
If Christians are behind these posts about John there would be solid grounds for Church discipline.

However, I'm absolutely convinced that some of John's "critics" are anything but.I am not accusing John of conniving in this. But a net loss in his debate with you (in which he came across as a poorly informed bully) has been turned into a net gain (he is now the victim, and his Christian opponents look like bullies.) This is very convenient for Loftus supporters.


The subject of most threads is now John Loftus. I think that his OTF reflects a popular objection to Christianity from religious pluralism. So the OTF is worth discussing. However John is a very minor player in a very big debate.

Recent posts - from "anonymous" in particular- suggest that there is a systematic attempt to hijack a brilliant, informative and edifying blog.

Mr Veale said...

(and I'm not holding John responsible; he can't control his "allies". As he'll know from JP Holding's miserable "April Fool's" trick, people get up to all sorts on the net! )

GREV said...

Anonymous -- either provide links to court documents or remove this and of what worth is it in posting it?

GREV said...

Whether an Atheist Spokesperson has filed for bankruptcy is not important.

Christ followers are expected to maintain truthfulness in their conduct.

Atheism falls for reasons other than the fact some of its proponents may or may not have been truthful.

Victor Reppert said...

I guess I said this on the other thread, and I'm saying it here. Can it with the discussion of bankruptcy. If I see it brought up again, I will ban the person who mentions it.

Shackleman said...

"Christ followers are expected to maintain truthfulness in their conduct."

While I completely agree, it would be wise to remember that Christianity is a refuge for the spiritually sick. It should come as no surprise to anyone when a Christian acts in such a way that is unbecoming of Christ.

Being a Christian does not make us sinless.

cl said...

Sorry for an unrelated comment, but:

Shackleman!

I use the "exclamation point" because I've been waiting for you to pop up 'round these parts again.

A few weeks back, I took note of something you said on my own blog, and, lo and behold, one of my resident atheists came along and tried to claim that your comment was "abortive" of critical thinking.

If uninterested, I fully understand, but, if you feel at all compelled to clarify, here's the link:

http://thewarfareismental.wordpress.com/2011/01/19/just-what-i-needed-to-hear/

GREV said...

"Being a Christian does not make us sinless."

Unrelated but how my comments can be construed as suggesting that is beyond me.

GREV said...

I am a pastor of 21-22 years. I know full well that Christians are not SINLESS!

Papalinton said...

Hi Anonymous
"Andrew Finden:
"As far as mainline protestantism goes, on the central tenants they are almost always in agreement, and I would suggest that one could walk into almost any Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostal, Presbyterian or Anglican church and find that they agree with the Apostle’s Creed""

PapaL
Yes, interesting, the apostle's creed. Picture the scenario at side bar of one of the many conferences held to decide what is in and what is out, all decisions made by fallible old men, with absolutely no hand in the decision-making process by any spectral numen. "Right boys, how are we gonna make all this stuff stick? How are we gonna spot the heretic from the real deal? There are a whole bunch of individual statements made by Ireneus, Ambrose, Tertullian, Augustine, Marcellius and others that are on the 'right' track about what we are all thinking. How about we put them all together and call it the 'Apostles' Creed'.

And so emerged the Apostles Creed out of the Council of Milan in 390CE. Four hundred years, let me say it again, 400 years after the alleged event. Another man-made artifice of the believer that tries to make sense of the disparate, conflicting mash known as the basics of the christianities. And as you look through the range of interpretations of the apostles' creed for the various christian cults, each is written differently with differently substituted words, to colour their particular flavour of personal or sectional bias.

Add to that, the Athenasian Creed , the Nicene Creed, a separate creed for each and every day. And of course, there are those christian denominations and groups that have simply thrown out the creeds as they do not subscribe to the authority of the creeds. And don't forget the Gregorian Creed.

As I am led to believe, a creed is a statement of belief. Because there are so many foundational beliefs in the christianities - due to the indiscriminate mash of agglomerated religious texts that the christianities appropriated from the Egyptians, the Babylonians, etc., - so there are a raft of different creeds in christian mythology. In medicine there is only one creed - the Hippocratic oath. In the christianities there are a whole bunch of them.

And the intent and spirit [pardon the pun] of the creeds is not to substantiate the truth or the veridical nature of christian 'faith', rather it is about obliging everybody to intone the same sort of bilge together, like a 'brotherhood', like the Mafia, upon which breaking of the creed, as is breaking the rules is a no-no. The creed is a form of coercive bullying about denial of heresies. Is there any wonder that an attempt to impose a collectively proscribed set of beliefs, in the absence of any self-evident and infused 'truth-value' of the fundamentals of christian truth-claims, to prop up a belief system would simply fall over, was made.
[cont. ]

Papalinton said...

[CONT..2]
The sycophantic commentary of a couple of your groupie followers, Anonymous, have hung onto every word of your attempt at refutation of my contribution. It is fundamentally [pardon the pun, again] clear they have no idea of the historical context from which the range of christian creeds emerged. You know that I know that you know that, the formation of the 'creeds' was a reactive knee-jerk to the cognitive dissonance that characterises so much of christian thought, evidenced by the flourishing harmonisation and Apologetics industry today, that still 'bedevils' the catholic and protestant cult in the 21stC CE. This was one of many attempts over the centuries, to prevent damaging leakage of the christian 'ideal'. Some christian institutes of higher learning and universities, still attempt to impose a form of apostolic creed as a condition of employment, to which employees must declare, otherwise they are out on their ear.

It still has not provided a cogent and consistent reality, even that of the metaphysical reality formed in the brain. There is every indication there is no god. Scientific work into brain, mind and mind-state studies are clearly identifying the functions that develop into this natural genetic predisposition to imagine teleological intentionality as of much evolutionary survival usefulness.

C'mon guys. Get ahead of the game. Toss out the christian myth. It has served its purpose.

Cheers

GREV said...

Papalinton:

I am well aware how the Christian faith has emerged.

Your comments are what was said earlier, ramblings from the perspective of Isn't it obvious ....

Conversely it can be just as obvious that the Creeds are attempts to set down beliefs held for the first few centuries of the Christian faith. And the just as obvious replies to your ramblings can be continued but I am frankly not interested.

Try at least to be as interesting as A History of Christianity by Diarmaid MacCulloch. Even though I disagree with his presuppositions that determine how he deals with the evidence, it is an enjoyable read.

I get it. You are writing in defense of your presuppositions and you believe the evidence supports you.

It can equally be argued that the evidence does not support you.

Ana said...

I have a question, and I do ask this seriously.

In some of the past threads, I've seen some people make fun of John when he says he's "unsubscribing".
Why?

I mean it seems like people get a kick out of him saying he's unsubscribing, and then he appears again in another thread.

But when he says' he's "unsubscribing", he says that in regards to a particular thread he had been commenting on, that he decides to move on from.

I didn't see him say he's going to stop following or participating at this blog.

So again, why make fun of him when he says he's unsubscribing?

GREV said...

Papalinton --

Let's see -- I read in history, science, pyschology, philosophy, .... so please stop with the assumptions.

And stop with the ramblings.

You argue that the evidence agrees with and supports your presuppositions. I get that.

Your presuppositions and the worldview that flows from it does not and will never convince me.

Papalinton said...

GREV
"Ramblings" Yes I guess they are for someone who has no urbane footing for sophisticated discourse. The funnel-focus of the christianities, always attempting to shove all that theist stuff into the big-end in the hopes of something cogent and intelligible comes out the little-end is the emblematic process of Apologetics since the last christian died on the cross. Or was it a tree or post as the Jehovah's Witness say?

C'mon GREV, you have to pull your nose out of the bible sooner or later to take air. Too much Apologetics can be injurious to your health. Surely you can understand the rising and expanding level of knowledge in the process by which humans perceive their world is becoming clearer and substantive every day that passes. The corollary of this expansion of knowledge and understanding is the inverse, the reduction in the many truth-claims religion makes about man, about the natural world, about the cosmos, about life, and even about god[s]. History shows, wherever there are competing or conflicting 'truths' of any particular issue, it is religion that retreats. As human knowledge and understanding exponentially increases, the gaps into which the gods attempt to hide simply shrink away.

Sheesh, GREV, any decent book on anthropology, science, cosmology, neuroscience, psychology, medicine, tells the consistent and cogent narrative about the human condition, each discipline contributing a concordant theme. By contrast, theology struggles to maintain relevance in a modern pluralist society.

As John Loftus says, Vic's god is dying. I venture to add, not so much dying as being found irrelevant. Old gods don't 'die', they get forgotten.

You know GREV, there is absolutely no need for a god, for a person to be a good, moral, decent and caring member of the community.

GREV said...

Papalinton -- I see your comments disappeared.

GREV said...

Ah -- now they are back again -- good. My comments above stand.

GREV said...

"Surely you can understand the rising and expanding level of knowledge in the process by which humans perceive their world is becoming clearer and substantive every day that passes."

On one level that is an amusing comment to anyone with more than a passing interest in History and how numerous figures have always felt that their age was the age that had all the knowledge. The Enlightenment Age showed us that such an approach was a dismal failure and yet people still must believe that humanity and its progress in knowledge will save us.

Talk about the need to get one's nose out of something.

Shackleman said...

Grev: "Unrelated but how my comments can be construed as suggesting that is beyond me."

I am a pastor of 21-22 years. I know full well that Christians are not SINLESS!"


My my, tensions are high. Mr. Grev I meant no offense, and wasn't directing my comments AT you. They were inspired BY you. Perhaps all the vitriol on here of late has caused a general feeling of ill-will around here.

As a former atheist I can tell you that one thing that was a consistent roadblock for me was the idea that *some* Christians paraded around as if simply being a Christian made them pious, and further, that there was some minimum-level of piety that is required before one would be allowed into the "Christian-club". Nothing could be further from the truth. I was wrong to have those feelings. There is no minimum level of piety required, nor should anyone expect a Christian to be sinless in their behaviors.

Your comments (among others) reminded me of those feelings, and my response was directed at onlookers who may have some of those same thoughts I used to have.

You never know who might be reading this blog, and where there may be a chance to witness. That's all I was doing. I was not questioning your commitments or your faith, so you can relax.

Think and stay positive, Mr. Grev.

GREV said...

Mr. Shackleman -- A general commentary would not have occassioned my reply. Your comments are noted and agreed to.

Shackleman said...

Mr. Grev,

Understood. I'll try to be more clear in my future posts so as to avoid offense where none is intended.

Px

Shackleman said...

Mr. cl,

I'm humbled that my post carried some meaning and impact for you.

I haven't yet read through all the comments on the link you gave, but I hope to soon.

I've lurked on your blog before, and can report that you ARE making a difference. Your posts here, have always been a blessing and educational to me. I strongly encourage you to keep at it!

Px, brother.

Shackleman said...

Papalinton: "You know GREV, there is absolutely no need for a god, for a person to be a good, moral, decent and caring member of the community."

What do the terms "good", "moral", "decent", mean to you?

Why ought anyone be compelled to act in accordance with them?

What ought the consequences be for people who do not behave in accordance with them?

And finally, are humans the only conglomerate forms of matter which these terms are applied toward? For example, can horses and rocks act immorally? If not, why not?

GREV said...

"What do the terms "good", "moral", "decent", mean to you?

Why ought anyone be compelled to act in accordance with them?

What ought the consequences be for people who do not behave in accordance with them?"

Excellent Mr. Shackleman -- very much the crux of the matter that serves to expose why the atheist position fails.

For the above reasons and others.

Just came back from conducting a funeral. Matters of life and death much on my mind today.

GREV said...

Ought to have been more clear.

For the above reasons is meant to express that the atheist position is unable to give adequate reasons or a reasoned response to these appropriate and excellent questions that should be asked of their position.

Papalinton said...

Hi Shackleman
"What do the terms "good", "moral", "decent", mean to you? "

Exactly what they mean to you, but without the appended extra-natural or supernatural nonsense appended to it. Indeed, take away the nonsense of Islam, the nonsense of Judaism, the nonsense of hinduism, and people universally seem to accord with these terms. They all want to be good, moral, decent people. That is why when genuine help is offered and received gratefully, it is accomplished at the humanitarian, humanist level. There are so many examples of this around the world, especially at crisis or disaster times. It does not need a god to reach out and be friendly to others. in fact god is superfluous to requirement.

"Why ought anyone be compelled to act in accordance with them?"

Because altruism is fundamentally intrinsic in all peoples regardless of their brand and stripe of theism. Religion has done nothing universally to build and strengthen this very human trait. Whenever it has tried to do so, has failed miserably time and time again. Why? Because it is always ever attempted through one exclusive lens, that to be saved you can ONLY be saved through declaring jesus as your saviour. There is always that condition. Otherwise all bets are off. Such exclusivity, piety, and smugness is a testament to christian failures. Look at the controversy, by screaming christians about the Islamic cultural centre and mosque near Ground Zero. Look at the recent threatened Koran book-burning thread. Why is it that 5-plus billion people could give a rat's ass about christianity. Like GREV, Shackleman, you seem to be living in a bubble.

"What ought the consequences be for people who do not behave in accordance with them? "

The rule of law is our best chance of civil discourse. Our common heritage to observance of the law, always a work-in-progress as it rightfully should be, can determine the consequences for non-observance. For all else, freedom of speech is a treasured right.

"And finally, are humans the only conglomerate forms of matter which these terms are applied toward? For example, can horses ...... "

Xenophanes, a classical Greek philosopher noted that, " ,, if cattle or horses or lions had hands... horses would draw the forms of their gods like horses and cattle, like cattle" [Kirk and Raven 1962, 169]. As Taner Edis says, "Religion was particular to cultures, but reason could reveal universal truths. To the sophisticated, philosophy looked like a better path than popular piety."

Edis goes on to recount, "Self-interested behaviour is relatively easy to understand, so the question for evolutionary biologists has been accounting for altruistic, other-generating behaviour. The first step in moving beyond individual self-interest is to realise that it is genes that replicate, not individuals. Self-sacrifice on behalf of off-spring or devoted help to close relatives makes good evolutionary sense, as more copies of one's own genes can thereby be transmitted to later generations. Since others share some of an organism's genes, individual interests are not isolated from one another. genetic self-interest demands co-operation." [Science and Non-belief]

The evidence is piling in, Shakleman. You also really ought to read wider than the bible, otherwise your intellectual growth will be stunted. As everyone knows, Don't put all your eggs in one basket. Diversify.

Cheers

cl said...

Papalinton,

"Religion has done nothing universally to build and strengthen this very human trait. Whenever it has tried to do so, has failed miserably time and time again."

This is false. Take an unbiased look at history and you will see that many, many "altruistic" enterprises--from the condemnation of child sacrifice and Roman gladiator shows to the proliferation of hospitals--have religious underpinnings.

"As everyone knows, Don't put all your eggs in one basket. Diversify."

Yet, all your eggs are in the atheist basket. Don't you find that the least bit ironic?

Papalinton said...

Hi GREV
"For the above reasons is meant to express that the atheist position is unable to give adequate reasons or a reasoned response to these appropriate and excellent questions that should be asked of their position."

Oh what small-minded nonsense. All the universals that we live by in the West has been achieved through secularism, through finding a common path amid the minefields of the various religious interests. Atheism is at the heart of secularism, which in itself [secularism, that is] conversely protects the interests of all the various mish-mash concepts of religious beliefs and allows them to be personally practiced freely.
Atheists don't have 'horns', GREV, they do not 'eat babies'. Goodness gracious me!. Your understanding of atheism is certainly rooted deeply in the mire of religious swamp-mud of 100CE. Indeed I am exactly like you, with exactly the same feelings, needs, wants, family life, grandchildren. And I am a decent, moral, caring person who simply does not need any form of invisible means of support to prop up my reasons for living, nor from searching for meaning in life.

Yes, your comment about life and death, and burials. As Eller says, not only has religion pervaded and commandeered everyday English as part of its comprehensive colonisation of the human experience, it has also appropriated for itself and colonized our critical life events, the two main ones, birth and death. These events are full of power and significance to people. And being emotive and anxiety-provoking events, this is fertile ground for religion. "Religion hardly creates birth or death, yet it often claims that it does. An entire class of religious specialists [priests, ministers, rabbis, and so on] is tasked to preside over death." [Eller, p276]

For me, a cardboard box and a good wake will suffice. And as has every human being before me, I will return to being stardust, eternally, without the teleological nonsense of theism, itself a wholly earth-bound cultural construct.

Cheers

GREV said...

Papalinton said -- "Oh what small-minded nonsense. All the universals that we live by in the West has been achieved through secularism, through finding a common path amid the minefields of the various religious interests. Atheism is at the heart of secularism, which in itself [secularism, that is] conversely protects the interests of all the various mish-mash concepts of religious beliefs and allows them to be personally practiced freely.
Atheists don't have 'horns', GREV, they do not 'eat babies'. Goodness gracious me!. Your understanding of atheism is certainly rooted deeply in the mire of religious swamp-mud of 100CE. Indeed I am exactly like you, with exactly the same feelings, needs, wants, family life, grandchildren. And I am a decent, moral, caring person who simply does not need any form of invisible means of support to prop up my reasons for living, nor from searching for meaning in life."

What a bit of over reaching nonsense.

The question is not who you are the question is presuppositions and worldviews, etc... The positions we hold.

I never said you were not a decent person or whatever else you are claiming. The point is if you are bothering to read anything and I am beginning to suspect not -- is that your position is not satisfying. Intellectually, emotionally and in whatever sense one wishes to think of.

Engage the positions. Your over reaching and your rambling impresses very little.

I read my opposition. Do you even bother?

GREV said...

"As Taner Edis says, "Religion was particular to cultures, but reason could reveal universal truths. To the sophisticated, philosophy looked like a better path than popular piety."

That was tried -- it was called the enlightenment and it was a failure.

It continues to be the last desparate default position of people who embrace scientism.

Who here is aware of scientism and its effects on how our worldviews are shaped? And I am not referring to the Church of Scientology.

And an F is also given for anyone who references Wikipeda and/or says it is some sort of fundamentalist attempt to distort the legitimate field of scientific inquiry.

GREV said...

So the question remains Papalinton -- Do you reaqd the theistic writers?

Even the Continental Philosophers would be nice. I like Habermas and am trying to branch out.

Because if you don't read the theistic writers like Ward, Lennox or Clouser for starters -- then you are just as much a Fundamentalist as the worst relgious types are. Each one seeing nothing good at all in their opposition and I have decided that in the time I have left in this life, that I have little time for fundamentalists in either camp.

If you do try to read your opposition then my evaluation changes and dialogue might be worthwhile. But given your opening salvos I have my doubts.

GREV said...

Vic:

Maybe an ongoing post on the chapters from Naturalism: A Critical Analysis might be useful to gauge where people are and provide useful information on the ongoing debate.

Bob Prokop said...

Grev,

That's an interesting point about what one reads. I always make it a point to try and balance what I do read - for every book by someone I agree with, I look for another that I differ with.

Not surprisingly, quite often books by "the opposition" turn out to be the most intellectually engaging. And ironically, a lot of the best arguments I have for my own positions came from reading the other side. They either forced me to clarify my beliefs or to better articulate them, or else the very act of punching holes in another's argument sometimes added new confidence in my own. (And yes, I have on occasion had to admit they were right, and concede one or another point.)

GREV said...

Bob:

I find some of my greatest enjoyment in the 17th and 18th century writers. Lots more to read!

Maybe a list of good reading would be educational for all. Everyone suggest some favourites.

Anonymous said...

Hi Papalinton, this is the same anonymous who posted the Andrew Finden quote originally.

I can't see how you've actually countered my central point there at all. I am trying to see things from your point of view but I am having limited success.

Yes, there always have been disagreements amongst Christians on many things, before AND since the earliest creeds were formulated. But the question is: What does this mean? You seem to think this throws the whole enterprise into doubt, but it doesn't.

And here's why: Christianity is fundamentally a historical story based on true historical events. It is the story of a man who changed history, who rose from the dead and started a revolution.

Christianity is NOT fundamentally a set of theological beliefs and propositions. The beliefs come AFTER the story. Every Christian denomination believes the basics of the Historical story- our faith depends on the resurrection of Jesus, otherwise it's all in vain, as Paul writes- and we differ in our interpretations of the exact significance and exactly what the story means.

But of course, why would one expect things to be any different? The story itself is the core - it comes logically prior to the formulation of various theological beliefs. All Christian denominations teach and believe that God exists, that Jesus rose from the dead and that humans need Jesus. There is NO disagreement amonst mainstream denominations there of ANY type.

If you believe that theological propositions are the key to Christianity and that Christianity is fundamentally made up that way propositions, then yes, I can see why you might think that all Christians disagree at the CORE. But this is simply an inaccurate view of things.

Bob Prokop said...

Grev,

Click on my picture to get to my profile, and you'll find a list of my favorite books (and movies, too).

Papalinton said...

Oh GREV
"Because if you don't read the theistic writers like Ward, Lennox or Clouser for starters -- then you are just as much a Fundamentalist as the worst relgious types are."

Been there done that. And still the fundamental raison d'être of their writings are predicated on special pleading to accept jesus into your life. And if you don't or can't then you have not been reading it right; or you have not been really, really, really giving it your all that it deserves.

I have been baptised, gone to church, Sunday school, been confirmed and married in a church. I was a genuine card-carrying believer with the best of them. Then I went to Teacher's College. Some questions were posed and from there GREV, 40 years on, it has all, as you would say, downhill from there into eternal damnation. And the funny part of it all, I don't give a damnation what theists attempted to peddle from that point on.

GREV, "If you do try to read your opposition then my evaluation changes and dialogue might be worthwhile. But given your opening salvos I have my doubts."

I do read them., Lennox, McGrath. etc Even the reasonable ones, Francis Collins, John Haldane, still make the argument form personal incredulity, 'the universe is too ordered to have started on its own, without a god,' But they never explain what is meant by, 'too ordered'.

It was never from want of trying, GREV. i've been on your side of the fence. In retrospect, my journey from theism was the only logical step that one can take.

Cheers

Papalinton said...

Hi Anonymous
"And here's why: Christianity is fundamentally a historical story based on true historical events. It is the story of a man who changed history, who rose from the dead and started a revolution."

Apologetical tripe, Anonymous. Paul knew of no such thing as an earthly jesus. His jesus was drawn from the Gnostic conception, a purely spiritual entity that lived, preached, crucified, died and rose, all of it in the ethereal heaven. Paul does not and never speaks of an earthly jesus born in Bethlehem, and living in Galilee. If he did, he would as surely as anything have used that information in his epistles. No Paul knew of no such character. Indeed Paul himself, says nobody earthly person taught or instructed me about jesus and god. I learned all that I know by divine revelation only.

The veridical nature of your historical claim is just theological harmonisation. Prof Bart Erhman best sums up the historical growth of the christianities, and he ought to know: "After the days of Jesus, people started telling stories about him in order to convert others to the faith. They were trying to convert both Jews and Gentiles. How do you convert somebody to stop worshipping their God and to start worshipping Jesus? You have to tell stories about Jesus. So you convert somebody on the basis of the stories you tell. That person converts somebody who converts somebody who converts somebody, and all along the line people are telling stories.
The way it works is this: I’m a businessman in Ephesus, and somebody comes to town and tells me stories about Jesus, and on the basis of these stories I hear, I convert. I tell my wife these stories. She converts. She tells the next-door neighbor the stories. She converts. She tells her husband the stories. He converts. He goes on a business trip to Rome, and he tells people there the stories. They convert. Those people who’ve heard the stories in Rome, where did they hear them from? They heard them from the guy who lived next door to me. Well, was he there to see these things happen? No. Where’d he hear them from? He heard them from his wife. Where did his wife hear them from? Was she there? No. She heard them from my wife. Where did my wife hear them from? She heard them from me. Well, where did I hear them from? I wasn’t there either."

And where did this story come from? From Paul, who never saw, met or knew jesus. And he only heard about jesus and god through an epileptic or schizophrenic episode on the road to Damascus. Surely, Anonymous, you can spot a legend in the making? It meets the same standard for myth generation as did Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Mormonism, Chthulu, Voodoo.

All the rest is stuff made up between 100-400CE, the birth period of the christian myth. And the church was still accreting and embellishing the story well into the next millennium. Hop off the religious treadmill and all becomes crystal.

Cheers

Anonymous said...

Papalinton,

Whether or not Paul knew Jesus has nothing to do with my argument.

If you want to argue about the historical truth of the resurrection story, that is a seperate issue which I'd love to discuss but please, one thing at a time.

You claimed that "contemporary theism" was riddled with "inconsistencies" and "contradictions". This is exaggerated and misleading because all mainstream Christian denominations agree on the critical elements of Christianity and only disagree on less important matters. Do you concede this point or not?

Papalinton said...

Anonymous

"This is exaggerated and misleading because all mainstream Christian denominations agree on the critical elements of Christianity and only disagree on less important matters. Do you concede this point or not?'

So what you are saying here, is that the schism of the Eastern orthodox, the schism of the Protestant movement, each in turn followed by schisms for Baptists, Methodists, Quakers, Episcopalians etc, the schism of the Church of England, the schism of Mormonism, and the consequent wars, ritual killings, bloody battles, witch hunts, heresy hangings, were all just disagreements over 'less important matters'.

Sorry, which galaxy do you come from? Denial of history in such an indecorous and improper manner does you no intellectual service, Anonymous.

The only driver for ecumenism in contemporary society is one of survival. Theists can see the writing on the wall for the christianities into the future, and are now madly circling the wagons and inviting all previous heretics to squat behind a wagon wheel, to protect the covenant. The societal trends are as plain as the nose on your face. The inexorable move to humanism and humanitarianism is now palpable, after two thousand years of stricture. This move follows on the footsteps of secularism, which is the true bulwark upon which democracy is built and can be defended against the excesses of religious fervour, be it Islamic extremism or christian fundamentalism.

It is the way forward to face the challenges of the future.

GREV said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
GREV said...

Papalinton:

Okay, so you have read your opposition. My evaluation changes somewhat but not enough when you include this line --

"It was never from want of trying, GREV. i've been on your side of the fence. In retrospect, my journey from theism was the only logical step that one can take."

Sorry, but that in light of Christ being described as the Logos, is a highly questionable idea.

GREV said...

It is a questionable statement when theism it seems no longer has anything worth offering.

You see, when I discuss with what I call reasonable atheist opponents, they are willing to grant truth where they see it or they are willing to learn from their opposition.

Such people are a rare breed. I continue to try and do so which is why I continue to read my opposition.

Anonymous said...

In answer to your question, Papalinton, yes they were disagreements over less important matters.

As I have outlined, Christian theists of all stripes agree on the same basic historical events outlined in the early creeds. Since the rest wouldn't exist if it wasn't for the belief in what the creeds teach, it is undeniable that churches agree on the MOST IMPORTANT elements. Thus your claim that contemporary theists produce contradictory readings is ONLY true IF you are talking about the dressing that goes on top of the same basic story where there is universal agreement amongst mainstream Christians.

The rest of your comments again didn't address my central argument as laid out above. This was even after I specifically requested this from you; all you replied with was a question (intended rhetorical?) thus I will take that as conceding this point. Thank you for doing so, albeit ungraciously.

GREV said...

"The inexorable move to humanism and humanitarianism is now palpable, after two thousand years of stricture. This move follows on the footsteps of secularism, which is the true bulwark upon which democracy is built ...."

The inexorable move????

And you accuse a theist of being unable to read history.

Quite astounding.

Yes, you must deny this but the religious shall inherit the Earth.

GREV said...

"Then I went to Teacher's College. Some questions were posed and from there GREV, 40 years on, it has all, as you would say, downhill from there into eternal damnation. And the funny part of it all, I don't give a damnation what theists attempted to peddle from that point on."

And you have the astounding nerve to claim that theists might be close minded and need to open their eyes.

You have spent all these years close minded.

As I said earlier, fundamentalists are someone who I now have little time for.

I believe someone observed appropriately that many shall be ever studying and never coming to a knowledge of the Truth.

Funny thing but also sad, for the closeminded, like the person above who closed their mind off 40 years ago is that Jesus claims to tbe the Truth that sets a person free.

Blue Devil Knight said...

His pic in his profile, Feser looks like a sleazy professional hypnotist.

Just sayin'.

Can we find a proof against God in that fact perhaps?

Maybe.

Jake Elwood XVI said...

BDK

While I can't say I found your comment amusing it does seem poignant.

However it may warrant some care when pointing out how people look and how this may be relevant to the question of God. Especially from some one whose picture makes them look like some weird impersonator of Rob Smith from 'The Cure' and albeit plumpish Marrilyn Manson.

Now I have Cure songs in my head and images of you fighting Mecha Barbra Streisand in South Park.

Alex Dalton said...

Papalinton (who has one of his favorite books listed as _The God Delusion_ - ew!), writes:

The only driver for ecumenism in contemporary society is one of survival. Theists can see the writing on the wall for the christianities into the future, and are now madly circling the wagons and inviting all previous heretics to squat behind a wagon wheel, to protect the covenant. The societal trends are as plain as the nose on your face. The inexorable move to humanism and humanitarianism is now palpable, after two thousand years of stricture. This move follows on the footsteps of secularism, which is the true bulwark upon which democracy is built and can be defended against the excesses of religious fervour, be it Islamic extremism or christian fundamentalism.

It is the way forward to face the challenges of the future.

Alex: Since a tenet of this democracy built on this allegedly secular bulwark is religious freedom and tolerance, I'm sure you won't have any problem with all of these religious sects continuing into the future, and engaging in a more ecumenical dialogue. And surely, they will. Further, humans have the potential to form social groups (if we don't like these groups we call them "sects!" and "cults!") and disagree about the interpretation of nearly anything, and yes, "morph" their views based upon interaction with one another. It makes me chuckle to see Papalinton write such eloquent poetry, portraying this process as the antitheses to reason, when we all know it is this very aspect of human nature - the capacity to disagee with the herd, argue against the norm, pursue our own lines of thought on just about any subject - that is the essence of the scientific spirit.

Alex Dalton said...

Papalinton quotes Erhman:

Prof Bart Erhman best sums up the historical growth of the christianities, and he ought to know: "The first Christians just played the telephone game and that's how it all came about [paraphrasing]."

Alex: Yeah - "he ought to know"! He ought to know about as much as Dawkins ought to know if God exists. Ehrman is just another ex-fundy on the warpath who barely even interacts with those who disagree in his writings.

What Ehrman wrote is simply utter nonsense as a model for the transmission of the Jesus tradition. Read Kenneth Bailey on his studies of oral tradition and his model applied to the NT. Read James Dunn on the oral tradition, or Jan Vansina, who studies non-biblical orality in Africa. Read Eugene Lemcio, or Gerhardsson on memory and tradition within Jewish culture. Better yet, read the NT. You will find that there is always a preserving tendency within the tradition, checks and balances in place, and authoritative *tradents* of the tradition whose very job it is to act as a repository for it. When we look to the NT, that is what we see - not this anachronistic telephone game nonsense that big bad Bart is peddling. In the earliest letters, Paul is arguing against incorrect teachings to preserve the tradition, running his own gospel by the "pillars" in Jerusalem who *agree* with its content. These are men who walked with Jesus, their rabbi, and sat with him as his *disciples* specifically to learn these oral teachings from their Rabbi. These are the men who later founded, and sent men out to found the churches! Paul is writing to churches he hasn't even visited yet *assuming* they have the same doctrine about Jesus. Further, these members of the Jerusalem church are going out to other churches, and checking on them. There are official "teacher" positions within church where doctrine is disseminated down from, and many of these men are trained by Paul and the elders during this period, who literally tell them to watch their doctrine closely and rebuke heretics. If most scholars are right, there were even written sources *during* the oral period. Then once we have the Gospels being written, they are another measure to check doctrine against. And the strength of tradition is so obvious in their writing as they build upon the foundation of one another, recognizing Mark's earlier authoritativeness and incorporating it almost in its entirety. What goes for the sayings, goes for the praxis as well; we see a heavy emphasis on "immitation" in Paul, and we see this manifested in early Christian traditional practices of
baptism, eucharist/communal meals, itinerant preaching, etc.

So congratulations - in simply repeating a foolish story about the Jesus tradition you heard from Bart Ehrman, you show your self less critical than the early Christians. Tell me Papalinton - WHICH moderate and conservative scholars have you read on the preservation of the tradition? Dunn, Ellis, Bird, Gerhardsson, Byrskog, Lemche, Reisner? ANY of them? Be honest. Ehrman's books line my shelves (though I admit to dusting them less often). You are what you read, and you obviously need a more balanced diet.

cl said...

GREV,

"Who here is aware of scientism and its effects on how our worldviews are shaped? "

[...cl raises hand...]

Anonymous,

"You claimed that "contemporary theism" was riddled with "inconsistencies" and "contradictions". This is exaggerated and misleading because all mainstream Christian denominations agree on the critical elements of Christianity and only disagree on less important matters. Do you concede this point or not?"

Good job trying to stay focused. Unfortunately, it doesn't surprise me that Papalinton declined to answer straight.

Alex Dalton said...

Papalinto writes:
That is why when genuine help is offered and received gratefully, it is accomplished at the humanitarian, humanist level....altruism is fundamentally intrinsic in all peoples regardless of their brand and stripe of theism. Religion has done nothing universally to build and strengthen this very human trait. Whenever it has tried to do so, has failed miserably time and time again.

Alex: Woah Nelly. Ok, Papa, can we see some evidence for these claims? Is that ok for me (the faith-based know-nothing deluded theist) to ask you (the wise empirical knower) for evidence for your claims? Would you be so kid as to grace us with this? Maybe you could show us that atheists provide more humanitarian aid or found more organizations who provide such aid, or something of the sort? Something - anything. I take part in charitable events all the time through my church, which founded a charity called Hope Worldwide. They help orphans and the sick, and various underprivileged people across the globe, regardless of their religious beliefs. I know alot of churches that have similar programs. None of my secular friends do stuff like this. The mainly drink beer and watch football. Enlighten me, Papa.

And what do YOU do for the betterment of mankind - in addition to using your mastery of the english language to extravagantly decorate some highly questionable arguments against theism?

cl said...

From Gallup:

Worldwide, Highly Religious More Likely to Help Others

http://www.gallup.com/poll/111013/Worldwide-Highly-Religious-More-Likely-Help-Others.aspx

Papalinton,

Preach less. Think more.

Jake Elwood XVI said...

Alex

Papalinton according to his profile "joined the Federal Government as a contract negotiator providing supplementary national funding to State Depts of Education, Systemic non-government schools, private educational institutions, universities, and other institutes of higher education for improved outcomes for Indigenous Australians (5 years)"

Alex Dalton said...

Thx Jake. I guess even good guys can make really bad arguments.

Papalinton said...

You really are a scurrilous wag, Dr Reppert.

I have posted two comments a number of times only to have them removed by you, without explanation, without reason. They were not out of the ordinary, but something in them shook your confidence to the core that you did not wish your followers to see them. In normal parlance, that is called 'censorship'.

I know they were posted and were on the site. I copied each attempt with time and date stamps on them. I know they did not get gobbled up in cyberworld.

If we are to have a discourse, there must be two sides for a debate. You are effectively gagging my contribution in the challenge to your beliefs, and clearly you have decided they are not able to withstand reasoned debate without giving your side a free-kick, a free-kick they have not earned.

But then, dishonesty is not an unknown strategy in Apologetics.

Let me post without harassment.

Thanks

Anonymous said...

"I know they were posted and were on the site. I copied each attempt with time and date stamps on them. I know they did not get gobbled up in cyberworld."

The appearance of the comments at the bottom after you post is scripted - it doesn't follow that the site has accepted them.

Anonymous said...

Bob Prokop writing:

(I am posting under "anaonymous", because Blogger keeps kicking me out for some weird reason. I've attempted to post this comment 5 times in a row now with no success. Let's hope this works.)

I also have on numerous occasions (too many to count) seen comments of mine disappear into the nether world after migrating off this website (and I am CERTAIN that victor is not deleting them!). Must a bug in the site software, and is not due to any malevolent intent.

That is why I have learned to select/copy my postings before clicking on "publish", to make it easier to re-post them in the event they vanish.

cl said...

Bob Proskop,

Ah, I gotta love these little "Freudian slips." Papalinton--supposedly the rational one here--so confident in his assumption that Victor is censoring him that he takes the liberty of calling Victor a "scurrilous wag." Classic.

Papalinton,

How's your foot taste?

cl said...

So Papalinton...

Did you call Mr. Loftus a "scurrilous wag" when my comments clearly "shook his confidence" which led to him resorting to "censorship"? Would you please go and tell Mr. Loftus that "there have to be two sides to the debate" and to "let me post without harassment"?

Or, is there a double-standard at work here, as I suspect?

Papalinton said...

@ cl

"Did you call Mr. Loftus a "scurrilous wag" when my comments clearly "shook his confidence" which led to him resorting to "censorship"?"

Of course not. And do you want to know why? He gave reasons. He was reasonable. He was fair. He offered you any number of warnings about offering swill and suggested you reconsider your responses. He was setting a standard, cl, something you seem not to possess. We all read them. He did not just slyly wipe them from the record without noting.

You behaviour has been petulant and sulky, childlike as if coming from a 'born-again'.

Cheers

Papalinton said...

Hi Anonymous
"The appearance of the comments at the bottom after you post is scripted - it doesn't follow that the site has accepted them."

That is a fair statement.
In my case, and you could check this out, Anonymous. I posted, copied as you say you do, went out of Dangerous Idea, came back about 20 minutes later after viewing other sites, and then copied a second time, verifying that they indeed were published and on site, only to find, when returning a hour or so later, to be gone.
And when I did copy a second time, I copied them in the context of the other comments, the two or three comments previous to mine and any others that may have been posted after mine.

I am about to post a comment to Alex for the eighth time, immediately following this comment.

Cheers

Papalinton said...

@ Anonymous
Sorry, Anon.

No can do. I tried twice to post the comment to Alex. It did not arrive. I suspect a sentence or trigger phrases in the comment have been placed into the parameters to identify it as 'junk mail' and automatically removed, The particular comment to Alex does not now even reach the published phase of the site. And I have the proof that it did previously, and only then to be deleted.

Yes Reppert and his minders are clearly at the hands of this christian censorship, pretty much in the mould of historical christian book-burning of old times.

Victor Reppert said...

I'm not censoring you. But there have been problems at the end of long comment threads.

Victor Reppert said...

The only posts I've deleted are posts about Loftus's personal finances.

cl said...

Papalinton,

The whole point, which you seem to have missed, is that for someone who touts themselves as "more rational" than us theist dummies, you sure do show a propensity for jumping to unfounded conclusions [i.e. that Vic was censoring you]. If you're so rational, why the eagerness to leap to unfounded conclusions? Get it?

"[Loftus] was reasonable."

You're joking, right? Is this what you would describe as reasonable:

"I don’t give a damn what you think of me of my deconversion at all. You’re too stupid to realize that regardless of it you must deal with the arguments in the book. "

How about:

"cl, before even reading what you wrote please tell me of your credentials. Prediction: whenever you ask a non-credentialed hack this question he’ll respond that credentials don’t matter."

"He was fair."

Really? I suppose your idea of "fair" means "atheists are allowed to use whatever foul language they want" but cl is not allowed to state that he will repeatedly question John on the same issue? Uh, I hate to break it to you, but that's not "fair" at all.

Stop making exceptions for Loftus and be consistent.

Papalinton said...

@ cl

But he still let you go on for a bit before he stopped you. Clearly he must have otherwise there would not have been several ensuing conversations. You could have tempered your responses and brought focus onto the issues but you petulantly continued.

Yes, Loftus was fair, and he called on you.

Papalinton said...

Dr Reppert
Victor Reppert said...
I'm not censoring you. But there have been problems at the end of long comment threads.

February 28, 2011 3:17 PM

Victor Reppert said...
The only posts I've deleted are posts about Loftus's personal finances.

February 28, 2011 3:19 PM
---------------------------------

Then I retract my claim without reservation, Victor, and I take your word on the matter.
However, I must say that such blips do not contribute to a seamless debate and should be corrected ASAP.

Thanks

cl said...

Papalinton,

"You could have tempered your responses and brought focus onto the issues"

That's exactly what I did. I brought focus to the issue: John claims we all ought to have "positive evidence" for that which we accept as true. John accepts "science has shown there was no Exodus" as true, and he does so without positive evidence. He argues from the scientific gaps, and apparently, you want to give him a free pass for it when you know damn well that he and other atheists like yourself crucify believers when they do that. And note that John's insulting comments [uncredentialed hack] came first, Papalinton. Those were John's first remarks to me. He started out irrational, so quit trying to cover for your teammate.

So yeah, there's definitely some double-standards going on here. Take the bull by the horns, if you can.

Papalinton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Papalinton said...

@ cl
Sorry cl, but the exodus has been exploded apart and has been shown to be a myth. The latest and most comprehensive evidence, undertaken with aerial mapping radar, that penetrates the surface to varying depths has unequivocally shown no movement of large numbers of people existed in that area of Sinai over a 40 year period. Scientifically, there is no evidence, technically there is no evidence, archeologically there is no evidence, geographically there is no evidence, pale-ontologically there is no evidence, topographically there is no evidence.

Archeologists, Finklestien and Silberman, have documented the evidence in "The Bible Unearthed".
It has been universally accepted as a seminal investigation.

The case has been solved.

Shackleman said...

"Then I retract my claim without reservation, Victor, and I take your word on the matter.
However, I must say that such blips do not contribute to a seamless debate and should be corrected ASAP."


I made the mistake too once of being honked off at Dr. Reppert for what I thought was his censorship. I was completely wrong...It's not him...it's blogger. Keep your comments shorter and you won't have further problems. For longer posts, break them into multiple parts.

cl said...

Papalinton,

"The latest and most comprehensive evidence, undertaken with aerial mapping radar, that penetrates the surface to varying depths has unequivocally shown no movement of large numbers of people existed in that area of Sinai over a 40 year period."

I see Loftus taught you "well," in that you offer no positive evidence for your claim, and you argue from the gaps just like he does.

"The case has been solved."

Sure, if all you want to do is argue from the gaps! Unfortunately for your position--the doubter--many, many times have doubters said "the case is solved" on some point of biblical archaeology--only to be proven wrong.

See Papalinton, you've got to be consistent: you can't crucify believers for "arguing from the gaps" then turn around and do so yourself, at least, not if you wish to be taken seriously.

Papalinton said...

Sorry cl,

I was not able to understand what you getting at.

Cheers

Alex Dalton said...

Papalinton writes:

Yes Reppert and his minders are clearly at the hands of this christian censorship, pretty much in the mould of historical christian book-burning of old times.

Alex: This has happened to my longer posts several times and it is indeed frustrating, but there is nothing intentional behind it. But you going off the deep end and evincing yet again this kind of extreme thinking really does betray a difficulty you seem to have with thinking critically and rationally when it comes to Christianity. This kind of extremism is littered throughout your writings here. I confess you do have an obvious mastery of the English language. I'm sure you'd write beautiful atheistic poetry.

Papalinton said...

Hi Alex
No need to fret.

I have retracted my charge following Victor's response that he was not a party to it.

In respect of the tone, and the illustrative examples I may have used, they are simply references to historically-referenced conduct under the aegis of the church.

I agree the church of recent times has attempted to portray a softer and gentler touch, a more conciliatory and ecumenical approach making much of the salvific nature of christian theology, but there are occasions when the ugly side does bleed into the community and causes discomfit and anxiety. Christians are apt to simply let it ride, despite the consequences of such nonsense impacting into that community.

I simply draw attention to the historical origins and traditions of the church as a means of challenging the fixed precepts on which the christianities are built. And until such time as christians are able to ditch unchristian nonsense, and to publicly disavow such nonsense, as a measure of demonstrating good faith in the community, the totality of the belief must be held to account. Simply saying, "That is not what I personally believe", is not and has never been an appropriate answer nor a response. It is simply deflection and non-acceptance of responsibility.

Cheers

Alex Dalton said...

Papa writes:
I have retracted my charge following Victor's response that he was not a party to it.

In respect of the tone, and the illustrative examples I may have used, they are simply references to historically-referenced conduct under the aegis of the church.

Alex: My point is that you seemed to jump to extreme conclusions all too fast, and this kind of thing is evident in your other posts here.

Papa: I agree the church of recent times has attempted to portray a softer and gentler touch, a more conciliatory and ecumenical approach making much of the salvific nature of christian theology, but there are occasions when the ugly side does bleed into the community and causes discomfit and anxiety. Christians are apt to simply let it ride, despite the consequences of such nonsense impacting into that community.

Alex: I actually agree with this.

Papa: I simply draw attention to the historical origins and traditions of the church as a means of challenging the fixed precepts on which the christianities are built.

Alex: I actually don't have a problem with that.

Papa: And until such time as christians are able to ditch unchristian nonsense, and to publicly disavow such nonsense, as a measure of demonstrating good faith in the community, the totality of the belief must be held to account. Simply saying, "That is not what I personally believe", is not and has never been an appropriate answer nor a response. It is simply deflection and non-acceptance of responsibility.

Alex: Wow, I largely agree with that too. I try to make change in my church wherever I can. You have to walk a fine line though because a) most beleivers, and people in general, are not educated so much as they are indoctrinated, and deviant viewpoints *seem* to them to threaten the very survival of the community. If you are ostracized and cannot work for change from within a community, chances of actual change are virtually zero b) you usually have to earn a certain degree of respect within the community first, irrespective of the strength of your ideas (I find that this is a sort of universal human thing).

Alex Dalton said...

...continued to Papa...

I just had a very difficult confrontation with a mid-level leader in our church over some of his behaviors (which I felt were controlling, and downright unhealthy and unloving in many ways). I had several others with me, who agreed, and we all met to discuss in front of the head pastor. The brother ultimately confessed to pretty much everything we brought up, apologized, and admitted that he was so far off that he didn't even know how to change but would work on it. The confrontation was very difficult for me (I have an anxiety condition) and I felt guilty/ashamed and even isolated myself for weeks afterwards.

Anyway, if you could tone it down a bit (as you do in the post I'm responding to), I'm sure we could have some good conversations here. I understand that you have strong feelings on these matters, but I don't feel like we are enemies, or ought to be. Further, when we are so polarized, launching rhetorical missiles at one another from separate continents, it is almost impossible to really learn from one another.

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