SEB Mailbag: Try taking on the Catholics for a change redux.

I didn’t mention it previously, but I did dash off a reply to Mr. William Michael’s email which I posted earlier. Here’s what I said:

William,

That’s some impressively tortured logic you’ve got going there. Doesn’t tend to lend well to your claim that you can answer any argument I might be able to put forth. Atheism is simply the lack of theistic belief. It has no bearing on politics, marriage, or holidays. How you figure those three things imply an “end to human life higher than survival” is beyond me. I bow to your superior, if somewhat spurious, logic.

I do appreciate the email, though. It’s sure to amuse the folks who drop by my blog. Thanks for sending it along!

Les

I figured that would be enough to piss him off and he’d wander back into whatever dark recess he had scurried out from as most of the Catholics I’ve gotten email from tend to do. Usually it’s the Evangelicals that are persistent, but it appears Mr. Michael is of sterner stuff as he replied back:

Les,

As I expected, you suggest that my logic is flawed, but provide no reason for your criticism other than your opinion.  That kind of dumb response is what I meant when I said you should leave the little pond of idiots and put up some real reasons for your views—-which you obviously think are important enough to post on a website.  Your too acustomed to picking on the little girls, like Georgie Porgie…”when the boys came out to play, Georgie Porgie ran away.”

Having opinions without demonstrable reasons is called “prejudice” and suggests a lack of proof rather than any real thought.  Every fool has an opinion.  Rhetorically, if you had reasons you were ready to stand behind you’d be able to let them speak for you, rather than suggesting that the support of your blog viewers is proof.  If numbers of supporters is proof, then I think Catholicism would win on a worldwide contest.  Knowing you don’t think that, what are your reasons?

Here are some questions I bet you will struggle to answer in a positive way. 

  1. What is the purpose of human life?  You obviously cannot have an opinion about what a government should do before you can state what the purpose of life even is.  I would love to read your answer to a question like this.  Again, not you picking on other people’s answers, but something of your own for consideration.
  2. What makes a day or event greater than any other?  After all, to set a holiday as a day of rest from other activities, or to recognize one event over another, implies that one is more significant than the other.  What exactly is this system of ranking events in the mind of an atheist?  Also, if holidays are intended to be celebrated in common, what would be the link that bound these groups together?  Or would there be as many holidays as individuals?
  3. What is the starting principle from which you define human rights?  I’d like to understand how an atheist concludes that humans have any “rights”.  The idea of a human right assumes that (a) there is a law higher than that of the individual and (b) that right is evident to humans in general, not in particular.  What exactly do you believe those rights are and what is your justification for them?

Again, refutations are a dime a dozen, demonstrations are the proof of reason and truth.  State your ideas positively, and we’ll know whether you really have anything to say.  Maybe you can post your answers to my questions on your blog and let people offer criticism of them.  After all, you’re a free thinker and no prejudiced or narrow-minded individual, right?

Bill Michael

***

William Michael, Director
Classical Liberal Arts Academy
Phone: (704)764-8641
E-Mail: mail@classicalliberalarts.com

I’ve not replied yet as I thought I’d take some time and consider my answers, but I will get to it eventually. I thought you folks would be interested in seeing his latest missive, though, so here you go.

269 thoughts on “SEB Mailbag: Try taking on the Catholics for a change redux.

  1. Patness:

    I don’t know what school you went to, but your professors did not represent any consensus, whcih was what you claimed. 

    Stick to your assertions or admit you’re withdrawing them.

  2. In general, your arguments are rooted in an unjustified suspicion of the past and prejudice that you cannot explain.

    I have explained – rather simply and thoroughly. I’m surprised you missed it. Regardless, yours are equally rooted in a trust of the past.

    Am I wrong in beliving that you really don’t have reasons for what you hold, but are prejudiced in all of your fundamental arguments?

    Yes. After all, whence came my judgement without their reasons for being?

    Don’t accuse me of arrogance

    Of course not – that would be fair play.

    I’m asking you to look at the posts above and see what reasons/evidence for all of your statements have been given.

    Evidence which you have not, likewise, provided. This makes your contribution to this discussion, at best:

    nothing but a list of repeated opinions and assertions spoken with an air of “consensus”.

    Which reminds me – what consensus are you citing when talking about the total consistency of the Bible? If my professors do not reflect the consensus, then there is an implicit claim to authority on what the consensus is. For that matter, where it regards the consensus on the inconsistency of the Bible, I made no claim of consensus.

    Half of them are just verbose dodges of the questions I ask and points I raise.

    Your points are statements about the nature of medieval life that overlooks all the benefits of contemporary technology. An oversight as massive as that destroys any credibility you have, regardless of how many arguments you make. At this point, the worst you can accuse me of is anything that you’ve already done, as far as fallacious reasoning.

    edit: by the way – notice how much of my contribution you glossed over? Talk about dodging. Also:

    Stick to your assertions or admit you’re withdrawing them.

    I don’t withdraw, and I don’t apologize for my beliefs unless I find they are incorrect and/or practically misguided. I see nothing of these in anything I’ve said.

  3. William Michael –

    Yes, let’s pretend that you have cited numerous sources in all of your claims.  Let’s pretend.  And then, once we are done pretending, let’s not ask for things that we ourselves are not willing to provide. 
    1.  Again, let’s pretend that organic farmers, such as yourself, are the ones feeding the world, and sending out large shipments from the US to starving parts of the world.  Genetic manipulation has played, and will continue to play, a major role in maintaining a consistent food supply. 

    2.  I said decades to centuries.  Decades for the apostolic books, centuries for other books of the new testament.  If you are teaching children that the apostles wrote the apostolic books, then you have taught them wrong, and even Catholics will call them on it—and should call you on it. 

    3.  One such contradiction in the Bible is this:  How many angels were present at the tomb of Jesus? One? Two? “Scholars” attempt to explain this away as one author chose to say how many spoke, while the other author chose to say how many were present.  Yes, two angels were so common an occurrence that why even bother with acknowledging the second.  Yeah, right.  Need more? Google “Contradictions in the bible”.

    4.  If I were in the house and someone knocked on my door and told me it was raining blood two thousand years ago, I would say, “Prove it.”  Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.  Rain is not such a claim.  Uneven comparison. 

    5.  What I believe about Paul is my own personal conclusion.  I believe he stole a religion from another group and reshaped it into his own image.  I believe that current Christians do the same thing every day.  Paul killed the God of the Jews and replaced him with a gentler, less insane God.  Modern Christians have killed Paul’s God and replaced him with an even gentler God with fewer restrictions.  It’s an ongoing process, and very human.  My source:  Modern Christianity and a read of the Bible. 
    The Bible is a very human thing, subject to the census communis of each time period.  All religion is that way, and it has no choice since it is man-made and not divinely inspired.
    Source: Experience with religion and an understanding of the evolution of society.

    You can sit in judgment of my post all you like, but the fact of the matter is, your posts have been nothing but pure drivel from go.  You expect so much, but give so little.  Honestly, you’re an amateur who thinks a degree in fairytale-ology means something.  It does not, especially with zero proof of magical sky-daddies. 
    So, if you don’t like what I’ve written, and it happens to be the ‘worst’ post, I would disagree.  I think you claimed that honor right from the start.  Arrogant prick. Child abuser.
    – Matt

  4. And honestly, if this were a discussion on whether or not the events of the Trojan War from Homer’s writings were true, I doubt we would hear that it is “unjustified suspicion of the past”. 
    Atheism and skepticism are the only logical courses to take when dealing with mythology.  Even the mythology of the current religion of Christianity.

    Unless our Catholic friend would like to defend all stories of the past as true? That could be fun.  Perhaps a defense of the Mormon religion or Scientology? Those aren’t even THAT far in the past.  Should be easy to defend.  After all, it seems he is willing to believe anything if it is written down and referred to just once in an outside source. 

    Pfft.  I love talking to people who are one god away from being an Atheist.  They spin their wheels so well.
    And I’m holding to the idea that he is an arrogant prick.  I mean, he actually thought he was a big fish, or boy… or whatever he thought he would be in comparison to the other religious jokers who come here.  Pfft.
    – Matt

  5. PATNESS:

    Here are my points, once and for all:

    1.  The principle for hearing testimonies of others (and therefore written accounts) is to trust them until proven untrustworthy.  This is even the fundamental principle of American law:  we give every man the benefit of the doubt.  Your position of selective distrust is simply unjustifiable.  Do you believe the assumption of American legal system is wrong?

    2.  A contradiction is a set of propositions which cannot both be false together and cannot both be true together.  Thus, “Apples are red.”  and “Apples are not red.” are contradictions. “Apples are red.” and “Apples are green.” are not contradictions,for apples can also be yellow. They can both be false true at the same time. You throw terms like “contradictions” around carelessly.  There are no contradictions in the Bible.  If you were convinced of such, you should not need to call on others to prove your case.

    To say my prejudices and assumptions are of the same nature as yours is simply untrue.  Yours assume dishonesty, conspiracy, ignorance, violence and so on.  These are accusations that need to be proven.  I would love to hear your ideas of freedom, justice and human rights, when citizens may unjustifiably accuse one another of committing evils without any evidence.

    You can write another 30 line post, or answer these points which are clear signals that your views are flawed.

  6. MATT:

    1.  I did not say organic farmers currently supply the world’s food. I said most of the work of mass modern farming does not end up on tables for human consumption. It’s also responsible for polluting water supplies and exhausting farmland, but I guess you ignore all that.  I guess we should ignore the details and just stand mesmerized by the increased production.  See:  http://www.cnr.berkeley.edu/~agroeco3/modern_agriculture.html

    2.  As for the NT books, here is the Catholic position (you’re wrong again):  http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03274a.htm

    3.  You don’t know what a contradiction is, that’s the problem with your argument here.  Here’s a standard definition (American Heritage Dictionary):  1. To assert or express the opposite of (a statement). 2. To deny the statement of. 3. To be contrary to; be inconsistent with.

    Contradictions deny one another.  For a person to say “There was an angel.”  and for another to say “There were two angels.”  Is not a contradiction unless the question was, “Exactly how many angels were at the tomb?” 

    Rant all you like, statements like these are not contradictions and (if tested) prove nothing at all.  Go ahead…test it and see if it proves anything at all.  This is why Catholics don’t get excited about Google’s lists of Bible contradictions…they’re not contradictions.  Your focusing on accidental details coming from different authors.  Is that really your best shot at the reliability of the NT?

    4.  “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”  Jesus made extraordinary claims and, according to the records gave extraordinary evidence, but you deny all that evidence.  So now, the extraordinary claim is that the authors were not lying?  Of course, in your thinking you are the only judge of evidence, so this principle is ulimately meaningless.  Anyway, how is saying that the authors told the truth an extraordinary claim?  As I’ve said to Patness, in every human court, testimonies are reckoned true until proven false.  Thus, suspicion requires the evidence, not trust.  Your negative assumptions are strange and extraordinary.

    5.  As for your rant against “Modern Christians” nothing you say is true of the Catholic Church.  Who exactly is this unified group of “modern Christians”?  The Catholic Church’s positions are the same as ever.  What you sought to argue with that I don’t understand.

    You can call me an “arrogant prick” and a “child abuser” but your points are demonstrably weak than mine and I’ve even provided proof.

  7. The principle for hearing testimonies of others (and therefore written accounts) is to trust them until proven untrustworthy.

    Which they will never be as long as we continue to trust them. The seed of doubt is the only door to truth.

    This is even the fundamental principle of American law:  we give every man the benefit of the doubt.

    – precisely because we trust (or distrust) both parties equally, and we’d rather miss a punishment than falsely punish. The reason we favour the defense is because prosecution is the instigator: defense doesn’t start frivolous litigation, and the people who litigate tend to have more power to begin with.

    Your position of selective distrust is simply unjustifiable.  Do you believe the assumption of American legal system is wrong?

    No, I think you don’t know enough about law – or any security system. If necessity drives invention, then existence of law implies existence of criminals. Rather than trying to simply punish it away, we controlled for legal failures. This is why we say that good laws (and good computer programs) are designed around their potential for abuse.

    A contradiction is a set of propositions which cannot both be false together and cannot both be true together.

    Logic is a system – your type of logic is a model. Quantum mechanics is, according to you, an inherent contradiction. Unfortunately, it works. Logic is outdated; my suspicion is that mathematics obsoletes it.

    You can go ahead and believe the Bible is the infallible truth. You can even believe it’s logical. You won’t get anywhere until I see you criticize it with the same fervency you believe it.

    There are no contradictions in the Bible.  If you were convinced of such, you should not need to call on others to prove your case.

    Unless I’m tired, cranky, and thoroughly exhausted from yet another religious person making demands they cannot meet. Do NOT be making demands of my time.

    To say my prejudices and assumptions are of the same nature as yours is simply untrue.

    Really? Well, all you’d have to do is show how they were untrue, but nevermind that:

    refutations are a dime a dozen, demonstrations are the proof of reason and truth

    where you have demonstrated to nobody that God (or the Jesus of the Bible) exists only, like me, made claims.

    These are accusations that need to be proven

    Says who? I don’t hurry conclusions about who is trustworthy – same logic in reverse.

    I would love to hear your ideas of freedom

    -means you can do it; particularly, you can do it without fear of reprisal

    justice

    mostly for the wealthy – prosecution instigates, remember?

    and human rights

    There are none; I’ve already said this. If there were, we’d all have them and there’d be no reason for dispute. As it is, man makes them and takes them away regularly.

    when citizens may unjustifiably accuse one another of committing evils without any evidence.

    We do that all the time – thankfully, unlike you, we have standards of evidence, and that’s what goes so far to prevent innocent people from going to jail. It’s all nice if we give the defense the benefit of the doubt, but not if we’re going to convict them based on hearsay.

    You are wrong – wrong on law, justice, the veracity of logic, the history of the church, dating of the scriptures and their authors, and wrong about the integrity of my views.

    I’m done playing with you. You’re fun, but I’m losing interest over the fact you can’t or won’t respond sufficiently to criticism (or even tangent subjects).

    Edit: oh, and by the way, regarding what you said to Matt, this is straight from your source:

    Since the Council of Trent it is not permitted for a Catholic to question the inspiration of these passages.

    They didn’t resolve what was, evidently, a subject of some controversy. They forbade further discussion on the matter.

  8. PATNESS: 

    I would love to see your ideas in practice…do you have children?  a spouse?  any dependents at all?  Explain to me what these deep understandings of yours look like in practice?  I am going to call your bluff and suggest that you’re a lonely, unhappy man. 

    Am I wrong?

    I am a father of seven providing for a happy, loving family.  I am self-employed, a faithful member of the Catholic Church and I enjoy great relations with my neighbors and parents.  My principles give life and joy to me and others, can you say the same?

    After all isn’t the proof in the pudding?  Go ahead, live on with your distrust of all people…if you can maintain that principle consistently, I’ll admit that you’re on to something.  However, I bet you can’t maintain that principle for 10 minutes in real life because it is unsustainable.

  9. As a farmer living in a rural community, I can assure you that the innovations you speak of rarely lead to food on your dinner table.  The mass produced crops in America are wheat, inedible corn (“dent corn”) and soybeans.  Granted, wheat is obviously a staple food, but the dent corn and soybeans are merely raw materials for modern processed foods.  Anyway…

    Hey, you forgot potatoes. And rice, both of which are staple crops worldwide. How about apples? Bananas? Taro? Legumes besides soy? All are being farmed much more efficiently than the pre-‘green revolution’ days. 

    And, so what if they are “merely raw materials” ? With medieval farming methods our current population devolves into starvation.

    Do you know how to make your own yeast for bread. They did.

    They didn’t know how to MAKE yeast. They knew how to identify it, where it was likely, and how to culture it. Lots of people died when mistakes were made with those basics.

    And, for the record. I, and many people in my circle, know how to identify it, where it is likely, and how to culture it. 

     

    Do you know how to plow a field with a horse?  They did.

    Yeah, I do, It isn’t rocket science.

    In fact, if you want quality fresh food, you go to the Amish farm market, not the modern supermarket for the best.  Technology is a means, not an end and “new” doesn’t mean better.

    But, when the Amish are baffled by a blight that takes 80% of their crop, they buy from the local co-op (so they themselves and their livestock don’t starve) while they are awaiting the lab results from their local MSU extension office and are also soliciting advice/seed stocks from the same extension so it doesn’t happen again next year.

    But, meanwhile, surpluses of “raw materials” are being generated everyday, year in and year out.

  10. Alright, one more:

    I’ve maintained it for 5 years – and you ARE right; at the moment, I am an unhappy, lonely man. Here’s why:

    I’ve had every person I’ve ever put “faith” in, betray me. This includes every member of my nuclear family, and almost every friend I’ve ever made (although primarily when I was younger). I’ve been denied thousands of dollars in pay, had every agreement and contract breached precisely because people took advantage of my trust in them. Even those people who have jobs and responsibilities have managed to take advantage of what is, otherwise, a very giving, forgiving, beneficient nature, in spite of the breach of their own responsibilities (after all, they can make excuses, but can I afford litigation?). Recently, I have zero money and anyone and anything that has made a vow to support me has denied it (most of them have actually tried to blame it – and my reliance on them – on me).

    But not all periods of my life are bad – in truth, I gain useful, profound insights on the world I live in rather regularly and my motivations change directions substantially every few months. Right now I’m focused on the psychology and education of so-called “gifted” persons.

    Those few who are close to me will testify as sharing a bond that is unlike any other. But, living among people, you learn quickly that it is not the case that all people are trustworthy and that, in practice, it is simpler, less time-consuming, and less prone to error to let those who are determined to prove their worth do so, than to assume every person is worthwhile. You have the option of either making good people work to show it, or letting bad people take advantage of you.

    This is not to say that I am not still a man of tremendous faith in particular people – but those people have actually done something to earn it. It is not assigned blindly. I have never understood how the kind of blind trust we reserved for gods is so equally assigned to people.

    While you should, doubtless, be proud of your large, happy family and your self-employment, be mindful of the fact that there are many people who do not have access to such things. When the day comes when I have children, I will teach them to guide and protect themselves. I will not teach them fear. Instead, I propose to teach that:

    We are all children

    We are all in need of guidance

    We are all evil people – that desire to be a “right” kind of person, however it is convenient for us to do so.

    We are all afraid of change; it shakes our sense of who we are. We will systemically deny, acknowledge but dismiss, accept but avoid, and finally confront new things (in that order), while placing our adaptation to that thing anywhere along the way.

    We must leave our comfort zone to learn. The truth of the world is not (and cannot be) always pleasant.

    Not everything is as it seems: many obstacles are opportunities in disguise, and not all that glitters is gold

    Empathy before judgment: whether in love or law, we cannot mend what we refuse to understand

    Maintain integrity: strive to be consistent, challenge yourself as others.

    If you want a simpler set of rules, however:

    Do not be bound by fear; accept it and safeguard your powers from those that would restrain you.

    Maintain hope; cynicism can deter us, while hopeful action can advance our causes.

    Strive for consistency, principle and correctness, but remember that ignorance is human. Fear the illusion of knowledge.

    Strive to learn; we make important decisions throughout our lives that demand the best in us.

    Love yourself, trust in your abilities, believe in your potential; yet, do not become egocentric.

    There is no off-season to treating yourself right. Strive to be healthy and happy; nurture body and mind.

    You are because we are. Remember your connection to your society.

    In all your actions and being, be thoughtful and considerate. Blind emotion harms as often as aids.

    In all that you do, from the most specific to the most general, you permit others to do the same. Therefore, do good.

  11. William Michael –

    2.  I am wrong?
    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06655b.htm, states that: It thus appears that the present titles of the Gospels are not traceable to the Evangelists themselves.
    Yeah, time to study up on your religion.  But thank you for actually providing a real source for your claims—it is a rare thing coming from you.  And thanks for providing evidence that I am correct when discussing the Apostles and their connection to the writings we were discussing.

    3. Exactly how many angels were at the tomb of Jesus WAS my question.  And yes, when tested they prove nothing at all to the dogmatically blind, such as yourself.  That is why I know this entire debate, such as it is, is completely and totally pointless.  I could give you all of the contradictions, ask for your extraordinary proofs (of which you have none), and what changes? You’re still a believer who is comfortable with warping children’s minds with your superstition and mythology. 

    4.  Yes, Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.  A 2000 year old book is not the evidence.  It is a storybook.  It is full of tall tales meant to awe and inspire the gullible.  2000 years from now, a Superman comic book might be found and I hope that the reader can distinguish between truth and fiction.  But hey, like I said earlier, if you so readily believe the Bible and its claims, why not Homer’s stories? Why not Japanese mythology? Why not the story of King Arthur and his magical sword? Why not the story of Dracula? I can tell you why, but you won’t see the connection.

    As to courts and true and until proven false, that is a completely different situation with no bearing on the current argument.  If you really want to take the Bible to court, then let’s bring up the killing of all of the first born in Egypt by God and see what jury would let him off—I say let’s fry the bastard, it’s the least God deserves for being such a dick.  Oh wait, a 2000 year old book is not admissible as evidence in a court of law? Bummer.  So close.

    5.  This will take too long and I’m about to head to bed.  I might come back to it.  Doubt it though. 

    You’re still an arrogant prick, and you haven’t provided squat, except ammo for my own arguments.  Thanks for that by the way.  Now, go read up on what you think you know.  You don’t.

    – Matt

  12. On a random side note, my only responce to the Catholic/Christian line of thought is…

    By your belief in bible and god, you deny the existance and truth of every other diety of every other religion.  When you search your heart of hearts, and think deep down why you can deny the existance of Thor, Zeus, and Allah (just to name a few), and can say with full certainty “These did not happen.”…

    Then you’ll see why we can deny the existance of yours, as well.  Numerically, the difference between an Athiest and a Christian is 1.  We just take it 1 god farther than you do.

  13. William:

    Compare the population engaged in farming in 1500 compared to 2000.  Even though the West buys much food from the ‘Third World’ even there they are (often) producing more than they use (especially cash crops).  There are famines- where they don’t export food- and many injustices- the exploitation of African farmers, but simply put ‘yield per hectare’ has risen astronomically.

    Do you know how to plow a field with a horse?  They did.

    So what?  They didn’t know how to drive a tractor.  Or come to that hunt a mammoth.  Beef farmers don’t know how to grow maize, but I have definite evidence for steak   And lets face it, very few 16th century farmers could make a ploughshare, or even a horseshoe.  But then the blacksmith didn’t know how to plough a field with a horse either.

    Thank you for the reference re laws- I have been trying to find them without wading through the NT.  When I have time I will look at them.

    I note that you quote Paul- not Jesus.  Having a Jew quote Jewish law isn’t confirmation that that law is kept whilst others are dropped, it’s a Jewish man quote Jewish law.  Jesus himself said that Children shouldn’t obey their parents (I can’t find the passage at the moment).  He also stated that he came ‘not to change one jot or tittle’ of the law, and that the laws would out last BOTH the Kingdom of Earth AND the Kingdom of Heaven.  This suggests immutability, certainly to me.

    Re: Pliny- That was unexpected.  I expected Josephus quotes.  Still, both were born after the Cruxifiction, and spoke about the Christian sect.  You may wish to look up “The Angel of Mons”- something that started as a short story, and ended up with people saying they were there.  Also from the First World War a story spread through Britain that Russia had sent thousands of troops to fight on the Western Front- they had landed in Scotland, and were marching to the Channel.  People claimed to have seen them.  The Bank that stands on 221 Baker Street gets letters addressed to Sherlock Holmes, asking for help. In the 70’s people remembered how they sang ‘Who do you think you are kidding Mr Hitler’ during the Blitz, despite it being written specially for 60’s sitcom ‘Dads Army’.

    My point is first hand accounts can be suspect (ask a defence lawyer).  Relying on an account in a less media savvy time, from someone who spoke to someone who knows someone is no evidence what so ever.  ‘What everyone knows’ loses a lot of points on “QI”.

    There is nothing from a Roman of 30AD about Jesus, yet we have letters home asking for spare socks and undies.

    Re contradictions:

    Lets start with a biggie
    1:5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

    1:16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.
    1:17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,
    1:18 And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.
    1:19 And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.

    Day and Night existed BEFORE the Sun.  Ok- not internally contradictory, but definitely not correct.

    Howabout
    Matthew 12:30, Luke 11:23
    He that is not with me is against me.

    i.e. Neutrals are against Jesus

    BUT

    Mark 9:40
    For he that is not against us is on our part.
    Luke 9:50
    For he that is not against us is for us.

    i.e. Neutrals are for Jesus.

    What about Paul hearing Gods Voice

    Acts 9:7
    And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.

    OR

    Acts 22:9
    And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me.

    As to accuracy

    As for the flood, I made it clear that the Genesis account is not a scientific record.

    But is it a ACCURATE account? If it is God went back and covered it up. I didn’t ask for a scientific account, I asked why science couldn’t find evidence of it.

    Of course there are reputable geologists who hold the Christian faith.  You cannot verify that there is no possible interpretation of the geological data that can be reconciled with a traditional Catholic interpretation of the book of Genesis.  I’d have to confirm that myself.

    How many reconcile known geology (Jurassic here, Mezoic there etc) with the account of the Bible.  Its like creationist say ‘plenty of scientists disbelieve evolution’ but it turns out these are all non-biologists.

    Its interesting comparing your answers against the fundamentalist nutcases we usually get- you are trying to fit faith and facts together.  They just usually shout at us and say anything that doesn’t match their belief must be wrong.

    I’m OK though- my car is made of iron, and I live in a valley (Judges 1:19)
    wink

  14. PATNESS:

    Just as I assumed you use your individual experiences to make judgments about the world you live in, as though because YOU have been betrayed by particular people (not every person) in particular situations (not every situation) all men may be branded liars and cheat…including Jesus and the apostles. 

    Do you really believe that is fair?  Your happiness, after all is not dependent upon the actions of others, but only your own.  If others do evil to you, it cannot affect your happiness only the conditions that you have hung your happiness upon.  So you have erred leaning upon other men for what you must keep for yourself.  This is indeed an error in your practical philosophy and you paid the price for it.

    I have been screwed by people, but never by people that cared about my happiness, only by people who were obviously looking at me as a means to their own gain.  Often, I got what I deserved by not following good counsel, etc.. I don’t apply their bad behavior to others who I have no reason to distrust, while I do look for signs that they are unworthy of it.  It is not as though betrayal comes without warning, after all.  I would bet you entered into contracts with people you knew weren’t deserving of trust, or saw signs along the way of the same.  That’s not trust, that’s foolishness…the book of Proverbs could have spared you from that.

    As for your rules, I don’t see how they disagree with genuine Christian ethics.  They should, however, lead to happiness which concerns me that you don’t actually practice them.

  15. As always the problem with Christianity is a simple one.  The omnipotent God it posits would be able to prove to everyone, with no room for doubt, that he exists, and reveal whatever rules he actually wants us to follow.  That he doesn’t means either he doesn’t care to a trivial level what we do, or omnipotent God doesn’t exist.

  16. Matt, I unclosed the last of your comments. You should know better than to post links whose URL contains the string “adv”.

    I’m going to buck the trend and unsubscribe from this thread. Somebody wake me if our most recent True Believer™ has something interesting to say for a change.

  17. Contradictions deny one another.  For a person to say “There was an angel.”  and for another to say “There were two angels.”  Is not a contradiction unless the question was, “Exactly how many angels were at the tomb?”

    You answered your own question with the definition of contradiction:

    3. To be contrary to; be inconsistent with.

    One person saying that there was 1 angel at the tomb is inconsistent with the view of another person saying there were 2 angels at the tomb.

    In any case you do realise you’re getting your ass kicked here right?  Most of the people on this board are laypeople debating a scholar and the laypeople are wiping the floor with you.  So far people have presented well thought out arguments that refute your points and you respond with pointless lists and childish insults.  I think you should quit while you still have an ounce of dignity left.

    I googled “contradictions in the bible” and was immediately presented with hundreds of lists.  Some from atheists some from christian apologists.

  18. LAST HUSSAR:

    1.  Just to clarify one thing, this whole farm discussion arose because I refuted an argument that modern science has led to human bliss.  This notion oversimplifies the reality.  If all we look at is increased production, indeed all is well.  However, AND THIS IS MY ONLY POINT IN THIS, this abundance has only been enjoyed for a few decades, and the negative side effects suggest it is not sustainable.  Thus, the benefits are misleading because we compare the abundance of 50 years with the normal conditions of several thousand years and fail to discuss the problems that suggest this abundance will not continue.

    2.  My point in asking the question about the plough was that another poster suggested that because people of the past knew nothing of electricity that their knowledge was somehow inferior to ours.  I suggested that modern people may be ignorant of things past people know, which would suggest that the same argument could be used in reverse.  I think you misunderstood or missed the context here.

    3.  There are more references to the law…but I think those are the most explict.  Let me answer each of your questions on Scripture:

    To think Jesus did not teach that His law was an upgrade and perfection of the old suggests you’ve never read the Sermon on the Mount.  Read Matthew 5.  Jesus explictly says, “You have heard it said that [quote Jewish laws], but I say to you [give new Christian laws].” 

    When Jesus says He will not change one tittle, He meant simply that no part of the moral law would be diminished.  He also said time and again that the law was observed by the Jews in an insincere way (basically living by loopholes) which was the cause of their shame and could no longer be tolerated.  He didn’t command children to disobey their parents…look at mark 7:11-13.  Keep things in context.  We know that when parents violate the law themselves, their parental authority is lost with it.  They cannot command their children to follow them into error. This is the only disobedience Jesus commands.

    4.  The fact that there have been deceptions in the past doesn’t prove every story is a deception.  Okay, since there’s a person who believes Sherlock Holmes is real, that means all characters in non-fiction may also be assumed to be fictional.  What kind of argument is that?  Surely, it is *possible*, no one is denying that.  But possibility doesn’t prove anything, only suggests an option.  Probability suggests that Pliny’s reference to a real personal Christ who lived before him (plus that of the Gospels) is better evidence for his historicity than your arguing from the negative.  You have NO positive evidence for your assumption he was a fictional character, while there is such for mine.

    4.  “There is nothing from a Roman of 30AD about Jesus, yet we have letters home asking for spare socks and undies.”  I’d like to know what these letters are..can you give me more info?  You mean from a Roman soldier stationed in Palestine?  Why would there be?  Were they interested in Jewish religious activity, much of which took place outside of the city?  The bottom line is there is written testimony by supposed multiple eyewitnesses, as well as at least one historical reference to Christ in extrabiblical literature.  Though it may not be the absolute perfect no-doubt piece of video evidence you require, it is evidence nonetheless.  You would need to justify you’re throwing it away as inconclusive…I’m not going to stupidly grant you that.

    5.  Contradictions:

    A.  Day and Night
    Ugh…I’ve said that the Genesis account is to be read philosophically and not scientifically.  There are no dates, measurements or specific processes given because it is not the point…I don’t care what Protestants and Evangelicals say.  The philosophical message (in an Egyptian context) is that God made all things.  What you should give attention to is the purpose for the things that is expressed, since this is the point.  IT IS NOT GOD’S SCIENTIFIC JOURNAL FOR DAYS 1-6 OF THE WORLD.  I can’t make it any clearer, can I? 

    B.  He that is not with me is against me., etc..
    It’s called Rhetoric.  To explain, why don’t you consider a better example like Proberbs 26:4-5:

    “ANSWER NOT THE FOOL according to his folly, lest you too become like him. ANSWER THE FOOL according to his folly, lest he become wise in his own eyes.”

    I guess those are biblical contradictions as well?  It’s intentional as a rhetorical device.  Notice there is a purpose for each.  Context and intent determine their proper meaning.

    C.  The voice of God to Paul
    This is an ingenious one (I wonder who finds these), I admit.  Let’s begin by remembering that Luke wrote both passages, so (1) he either missed the glitch, (2) didn’t think it was a glitch or (3)didn’t think it was significant.  Now, which one was it?  The Greek word *akouein* (to hear) can mean (literally) to physically hear and/or (figuratively) to understand.  For example, Jesus says, “Hearing they do not hear.” using the same verb in both places with no contradiction.  Further, in Acts 9, it says they hear a voice while in Acts 22 “the voice that spoke to me and said…”  Based on the language alone and contextual message of each passage they are easily reconciled.  In the first, the mean a voice or sound.  In the second, the men though hearing a voice did not hear the message spoken to Saul.  It’s really not a problem.

    5.  Michael Behe is not a non-biologist and he’s quite well-known and respected.  I asked for proof that the geological evidence was impossible to reconcile with Christian views of creation ex nihilo according to Genesis 1.  Is there any?

    I think this is getting easier for me, not harder.

  19. TIM GUEGUEN:

    This “simple problem” has an answer, you know.  What your argument leaves out is man’s faculty of Reason.  You would condemn God for not revealing himself strictly to man’s senses, which is not necessary.  God does reveal Himself to man, through man’s use of reason which is precisely what God intended.  Our failure to find Him is the direct result of our unwillingness to seek Him.

  20. Isn’t it interesting that those who have reasoned with me least call me names most?  I don’t see Last Hussar or Patness resorting to name-calling.  Learn a lesson from them and quit kidding yourselves that you have the answers you pretend to.

  21. MATT:

    No one said the apostles wrote the TITLES of their books.  Of course, someone did AND they said the apostles wrote them, but you ignore that…they must be lying after all.  Your quote doesn’t prove what you think it does or I would have avoided sending you the link.  Read the section “The formation of the Tetramorph, or Fourfold Gospel” which actually has to do with what we’re talking about…and spare the emotion.  There are ways to prove these things, you know.

  22. SISYPHUS:

    1.  Yes, the third definition for contradiction includes the usage of inconsistency.  Unfortunately, that is not the meaning in logic and the two definitions before it are the more common.  There’s a difference between an essential definition and usage which may itself be inconsistent. 

    2.  No. I don’t realize I’m “getting my ass kicked.”  In fact, I’ve found the arguments quite easy to answer.  I’m not exactly a scholar either.  I work in education with a B.S. in Classical and Ancient History.  Since when is a bachelor’s degree the mark of the scholar?

    3.  “I googled “contradictions in the bible” and was immediately presented with hundreds of lists.” 

    Okay, what’s your point?  Do search results prove the existence of things?  Search for “aliens” and you’ll get lists of results as well. 

    Anyway, who denied that there are many apparent contradictions in the Bible?  The question is whether they are real contradictions.  See my last answer to Last Hussar for some examples.

  23. This shit again? Good grief.

    Look, the rational community has tried for ages to be respectful about this, to treat people who believe in their various religions with respect and to just offer up a different opinion. Where has it got us?

    It got us a hair’s breath away from having Sarah Palin in the White House, that’s where. It has left us in a country where we’re still fighting over gay marriage and stem cell research and bloody intelligent design.

    Enough is enough. William and his ilk believe in an invisible sky daddy. That’s not a difference of opinion, it’s a mental illness, and it needs to be treated as such. We have to stop pretending that they’re any different than the tin foil hat brigade before they drag all of civilization down with them.

    Get some help, William. Might I suggest shock treatment?

  24. Oh my. I decide to spend Saturday playing Wrath of the Lich King and all hell breaks loose. That took a while to read through. I’m pleased to see William has decided to step up and comment directly rather than feed everything through me.

    Things seem to be going well enough so far. I was especially impressed with a few comments from both Patness and Last Hussar. I still intend to answer the original three questions William presented to me in the email, but have been too busy playing WoW to do it yet.

    As entertaining as these arguments can be World of Warcraft is much more so. Bill will just have to wait until I get bored with the quest grind. I’ll get to it eventually.

  25. Oh, and Matt, your comments just got hung up in the spam filter. My apologies for that. One of William’s got caught in it as well. There’s a newer version coming that will allow me to set it to ignore registered members’s comments.

  26. KPATRICK GLOVER:

    The “rational community” offers reasons for their views, not the loud nonsense you’ve just posted.  What did you actually say?

    Catholic philosophy nominated Sarah Palin for VP.  Do you believe that? 

    Who was the rational community in the ancient world?  or in the middle ages?  I would bet they were on my side and not yours. Therefore, you should refer to yourself as a member of the “Baconian naturalistic community” which is more accurate.

    Anyway, California voted against both gay marriage and Sarah Palin.  I guess the issues aren’t as clear-cut as you suggest.

  27. I’m not going to waste my time “debating” you, William. You are, at best, delusional, and at worst, a charlatan. Arguing with you only lends you a sense of credibility that you simply don’t deserve.

    My post was meant to call attention to that fact and suggest that it would be more productive to simply point and laugh at you.

  28. You can’t debate me, or you wouldn’t resort to name-calling, which is a sign of the irrational, rather than the rational community.  You’re not kidding anyone. 

    Go ahead, hit and run. I hope you feel good congratulating yourself.  You only confirm my delusional persuasion that there are no sound arguments among atheists. You’ve offered none.

  29. Tell me something, William. If someone approached you and claimed that they were being abducted by aliens and anally probed every Tuesday, would you feel the need to “debate” their belief with them?

    There is no exaggeration in that example. That is exactly how crazy your beliefs sound to a rational mind.

  30. KPATRICK GLOVER:

    The actual situation would be (maintaining the alien parallel):

    “If someone approached a group of people and claimed that they were being abducted by aliens and anally probed every Tuesday and you then atacked that person and said he was irrational and stupid, would you be justified in not offering any reasons for your attack. “

    That’s more like it.  If you’ve got so much better to do…go do it.  No one is forcing you to read this thread. 

    Again, quit kidding yourself.  You’re going to make a fool of yourself.

  31. “If someone approached a group of people and claimed that they were being abducted by aliens and anally probed every Tuesday and you then atacked that person and said he was irrational and stupid, would you be justified in not offering any reasons for your attack. ”

    Yes.

    Because the reasons are obvious to everyone but the insane.

    …and your mother dresses you funny.

  32. William:

    Do you really believe that is fair?

    In principle, no. In practice? Yes. The alternative is starkly unfair to me, but I’ve explained this.

    Your happiness, after all is not dependent upon the actions of others, but only your own

    Actually, it’s dependent on brain chemistry, whose relations to actions are, while generally held as common sense, nonetheless vague and ill-inspired. I’m left to wonder exactly what kinds of conflicts you’ve faced in life: you sound really, really spoiled.

    For instance, I see a negative relation between any form of emotional trauma and happiness. In fact, in children who are considered “gifted” there is a great increase in the presence of neurosis’, especially into adulthood. This ties to exceptional sensitivities.

    Of course, you know who tends to be happiest? Carefree people – and, y’know, psychopaths. People who have no conflicts or people who are too disconnected to care. Growth blooms from the seed of inner conflict – there is no reason to be “happy” in the face of these things unless you fall into one of those two categories.

    So you have erred leaning upon other men for what you must keep for yourself.  This is indeed an error in your practical philosophy and you paid the price for it.

    This is an abusive attitude, although you probably don’t realize it. Yes – fool that I was for having loved or trusted family. Does that sound absurd? It should. And no, it is not an error in my practical philosophy: unless circumstances are desperate, I depend on nobody else, for exactly that reason.

    If I had known that they were untrustworthy, obviously I would not have entered into contract with them. However, that requires that I have some very deep beforehand knowledge of their person. It is highly unreasonable to declare that the fault is mine for not being psychic.

    If knowing whether any given person is trustworthy or not is obvious to you, either you’re psychic or you’re lucky enough that you don’t realize how incredibly lucky you are.

    Often, I got what I deserved by not following good counsel

    And there you blame yourself for the actions of others. That makes you happy? The onus of protection is ours, yes; but that doesn’t imply we deserve any of what we get. We simply get it.

    The degree to which you levy that to assume that I brought every betrayal upon myself is as extreme in self-blame and self-aggrandizement as it gets.

    This tells me a lot about a) what makes you happy and b) what brings you here.

    You must have known an awful lot about people while you were in the womb to be able to go “I knew they were going to screw me but did it anyway”. In fact, that makes you incredibly brilliant and incredibly stupid, if I am to take your claims at face value.

    Of course, I don’t.

    the book of Proverbs could have spared you from that

    It cannot make claims to the particulars of a given situation. It teaches its lessons in allegory – which requires precognition and literary analysis on your part. Again, an absurd conclusion.

    As for your rules, I don’t see how they disagree with genuine Christian ethics.  They should, however, lead to happiness which concerns me that you don’t actually practice them.

    Do you see a mention of God or gods anywhere in them? Commandment number one’s not in there. It also leaves an arbitrary definition of good, rather than using the rules themselves to define what good is. I rely on empathy and cultural change to do that.

    Knowing that I cannot always live into the principles I set is no more uncomfortable to me than your being presented with a refutation. Not all goals are meant to be reached: some simply serve as targets to be aimed at.

    This seems to be the problem: you are genuinely incapable of seeing the conflicts in most of what you’ve said. You’ve perhaps said one or two things to which I haven’t taken a grounded disagreement.

    Can you really be that naive?

  33. Michael Behe is not a non-biologist and he’s quite well-known and respected.

    You lose.

    Behe is widely considered by biologists (outside his little YEC circle) to be a fool.  By using him in this way you place yourself firmly with the anti-evolutionists.  Evolution is a well researched, consistent explanation of the rise of life, repeatedly shown to work. Behe et al have never once fulfilled any scientific criteria (outside their own self congratulatory circle) for a valid theory for ID/Creationism.  Indeed, he doesn’t try and prove ID, he concentrates on disproving evolution (failed) in a sort of “If I prove 2+2 doesn’t equal 5, it must therefore equal 3” approach.

    Back to the geology.  What exactly are you asking? I know- it fits with Genesis, but in what way?  There is plenty of geological data showing timescales of millions of years, and a gradual changing of the continents.  This in no way fits with any part of Genesis, where the Earth is ‘as is’- no mention of Pangaea etc.

    Twice now I have asked if the Bible is accurate, and both times (once for the Flood, once for Creation) you replied its not a scientific account, its philosophical.  What does that mean.  I can give you an accurate account of an event without knowing the science behind it.  I try in a different way. 

    If the Flood is literally true, and happened exactly as it said in the Bible then why is there no evidence of it?  If by Philosophical you mean it is some form of parable, or even a “thought experiment” why is it presented as true?  What is the point to it as a Biblical story if it isn’t literally true? A warning that God can kill us all?

    Basically are the major tales from Genesis literally true- forget the science- did they happen exactly as stated in the Bible?  And if they are literally true as presented in the Bible, why do they not fit with what we now know?

    Contradictions in the Bible?  List them.  Are they really contradictions?

    Yes.  In my example ‘Luke’ contradicts himself.  I admit to me it looks minor, but it is the same person not getting the facts right.  Easy to do with a work of fiction, where you have to make notes about every thing and every person to ensure continuity, but as an accurate record of events, written by one person a bit suspect.  Could it actually be more than one person writing many years after the event?

    That is the point I made about Pliny- he was not compiling a biography of Jesus, but discussing how he should handle a sect, who happen to be Christians.  If Palin wrote to Obama asking for his guidance on dealing with Scientologists it isn’t confirmation that Hubbard was correct.  As far as I can discover all these 1st century authors are writing about the cult, not the man.  We know Christians existed.

    Re the Romans.  My point is that despite the Roman Empire, like any large organisation, being a huge bureaucracy,  there is no mention at the time of any problems, such as an important provincial capital greeting a messiah and coming to the brink of revolution against the puppet government.  (The ‘socks’ letter I referred to was actually from Housesteads, but it is an example of the fact that we have the minutia of Roman life- there are also complaints about soldiers wearing barbarian style ‘trousers’ because of the cold).

    I’m not actually calling Jesus fictional- I am prepared to accept there was a wandering rabbi by that, or very similar name.  The problem is that the Israel at the time was lousy with them- he wasn’t the only messiah around.  Jesus just had better PR and promotion by his publicists- “Matthew Mark Luke and John” (two of which gospels are dated to hundreds of years later).  Did you know that James Bond has been written by 4 separate authors, PLUS we have pictures of him, and plenty of secondary sources.

    I’ve been taking the advice of Proverbs 26:5, were you suggesting I should try 26:4?  ;-p

  34. So, I missed it in the jumble.  Did William ever give us proof for the existence of God, or is he waiting for us to disprove a negative?
    And, is quoting the Bible proof that the Bible is correct? It’s so hard to follow along when things go so wonky all the time.
    Just wondering, because I think a little proof would be refreshing for once—as compared to the no proof I’ve seen in the past. 
    – Matt

  35. Okay, what’s your point?  Do search results prove the existence of things?  Search for “aliens” and you’ll get lists of results as well.

    Anyway, who denied that there are many apparent contradictions in the Bible?  The question is whether they are real contradictions.  See my last answer to Last Hussar for some examples.

    The point of my saying you could google “contradictions in the bible” and hundreds of links appear was to point out that it’s not difficult to find sources for contradictions in the bible.  If you’d like you can do it the old fashioned way and read through the bible making notes on all the contradictions.  That would take a long time and I’m sure you’ve got better things to do with your time. 

    If I might make a suggestion, save yourself some time and google “contradictions in the bible” read through some of the results and come back when you’ve got some ammo under your belt.

    I called you a scholar because you implied that you were a scholar.  You mentioned several times that you are a teacher and you used a university email address.  Having said that the definition (a la dictionary.com) of a scholar is:
      1. A learned person.
      2. A specialist in a given branch of knowledge: a classical scholar.

    To be a teacher one must have studied therefore you are a scholar. 

    Congratulations on being a father of 7 but please remember we’re facing a population crisis at the moment.  Quiver full families are a contributing factor in the global food shortage. 

    Also, what was your reasoning behind accusing Patness of being sad and lonely?  It made you look like a prick and I suggest, if you’re going to engage in a debate, that you keep a civil keyboard.

    Oh, PS yes you are getting your ass kicked. You’ve yet to refute a single point made against your “arguments”.

  36. sisyphus:

    I assume his reason begins where I said:

    No, I think you don’t know enough about law – or any security system.

    Until that time, I made no claims about the person he was. After that, the tone of the discussion changed rather notably for both of us. No defense needed, here: it’s tit for tat.

  37. This has been very entertaining. I was ready to write angry refutations but Last Hussar, Patness, ect have done a fine job so I feel I no longer have too. LH covered all the points I wanted to make anyway.

    I will say however that William baffles me. In his definition of Contradiction, he proved himself incorrect and still doesn’t see the problem with it. That is the nature of the True Believers though.

    William, I ask you to tell us defiantly. Is the the Bible the literal truth, or as you have said several times, it is philosophical. It cannot be both, it is either literal or stories.  I can also tell you personally the age of the earth, stratigraphy data, and the development of human technology from my own validate able, cataloged field experiments and observations. My discoveries, unlike that of Behe’s are testable, observable and properly peered reviewed.
    I will answer specific questions given the brevity of the answer I can give you. I don’t feel like writing a book to you.

    PS
    Patness…I’ll never abandon you. As Randy Newman sings, “You’ve got a fwend in may!” That’s what he says right?

  38. Oh – wait, this was one of those things where people are supposed to be offering support and stuff – sorry. I’ve been programming and I’m very, very boggled (can you tell? It only took me hours…)

    Hey, thanks for the show of support. All the same, though – bad days come and go. If they were going to keep me down I’d been underground long ago.

  39. Cheers Les!  I stumbled onto your blog while googling Mr. Michael b/c I’m considering enrolling one of my children in one of his academy’s distance classes.  No joke!!  Anyway here I am at home surfing while my husband is away at a Packers game, with my baby asleep in my arms… 

    AngryA, I’m not a young earth creationist type.  Admittedly I only have two pubs, but when it comes to the ages of the rock/sediment, at least in my fields of study where we are primarily relying upon carbon and radioactive isotope dating, the results are incredibly diverse, and there are ongoing debates as to the actual ages of the rock.  Even with varves, which for me seem the most reliable, there is so much speculation and debate.  (I’m not talking about debates with young earth types.  I’m talking about debates among colleagues & coauthors.)  So, I’m asking if you’re willing to rescind the comment about how you can personally tell us the age of the earth, etc… For now I’ll just assume it was written in a fit of… anger???

    Patness, fwiend of Angry, were you also the one that caught Mr. Michael’s “your”?  I forgot.

    Mr. Michael, you seem to have fallen into the pond (I should talk, right?), and until you apologize for the name-calling I will definitely have second thoughts about enrolling my children, although I probably will enroll them anyway
    red face
    Watch your trail…

    Sincerely yours,
    Goldminer (Catholic through & through & loving it!!)

  40. “It matters what something is more than what we call it.”

    VERY sweet and all-too-true in this day & age bit of logic.  The tone of it reminds me of Samwise Gangee.  The kids & I finished reading The Two Towers tonight. 

    “Rare day I gripe about typos.”

    You’re truly a better person than me for it….

  41. I don’t think I can really add anything to what’s been said to Michael, and I’ve got a concert to prepare, so I’ll pass- you guys are handling the debate nicely anyway.

    Patness- you’ve got my support, for what it’s worth, too.  Intelligent people get angry and depressed.  The good news is, it gets better.  All the best from Vienna, and if you’re ever out this way, drop me a line, and we can put you up.  Cheers, zilch

  42. Goldminer –

    I’m sure AngryArcheologist can handle this just as well, but just to note, he didn’t say he could tell you the EXACT age of the earth: 4,528,384,899 years or something… (wouldn’t it be cool if that were the exact age?), but when discussing such thing we see ranges which take into consideration the variances in dating techniques.  I don’t know the exact range now, something like 4 to 4.6 billion or something now. 
    So, I doubt anything will need to be retracted.  That’s just how things are. 

    – Matt

  43. Goldminer, I’m sorry you find the need to be so defensive about the scientific dating of the earth. If the date ranges of about 4 to 4.6 billion years are correct, you apparently feel that data may contradict the religious dogma you have been taught. Would you consider revising or rejecting that part of the dogma and embracing the other parts that you still find helpful in planning your life? Many laws that are now proposed include a provision that if some part of the proposed law is found to be unconstitutional or illegal, the other parts of the law will still be enforced.

  44. What is the purpose of human life?

    Which is, of course, the real question here. This is the reason for religion in the first place, why do we exist? Where did we come from? Where are we going? There’s a certain personality type that requires answers to these questions, that absolutely cannot conceive of the possibility that these questions simply don’t have answers. 

    The simplistic “God made us and he’s got a plan,” is far better than the alternative for these people.  For them it is absolutely terrifying to think that we define our own purpose, that we define our own plan, that we find our own destiny in a vast and indifferent universe. They need a father figure, somebody to take responsibility, somebody to tell them what to do and when to do it.  They don’t look up into the night sky and fell wonder and awe at the complexity of the universe, instead they feel fear of the unknown. They need something to make the universe small and knowable and simple.  And they’re utterly terrified that the answer to question is: this is all we get, make the most of it. 

    More than anything, religion is about fear of the unknown.

    But for William Micheal I’d say these is an answer to his question “What is the purpose of human life?”  As the bumper sticker goes, the purpose of your life may be to serve as an example to others.

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