I have found myself in the middle of a battle of logic and sheer force of will. The battle is between myself and a creationist friend of mine. The battlefield? ‘Creation’ of the universe.
Her position is one of ‘In the beginning there was God’. My immediate comment was, you have a false premise. First of all she is assuming that Gods exist at all. Then she is furthermore assuming that if Gods exist there is only one, and it happens to be the one that she already believes in. Even if I were to concede these points, which Sam Harris and Daniel Dennett would suggest strongly against, then there is still the issue of “if the Universe needs a ‘creator’, then why does the creator not need a creator”? The idea being, like the watchmaker analogy, an object of sufficient complexity shows hallmarks of being created and not of occurring naturally. But, unfortunately, the only examples of things coming into existence are through natural processes. Anything else would be supernatural and, as I’m sure you are all aware, we have absolutely zero evidence of anything that exists in supernature.
Besides just imbuing god with that ability because it makes the complex questions of ‘what created god’ and ‘where did god come from’, go away. This of course is really just an intellectually dishonest way of pushing the problem back a step. i.e. “What made earth -> what made the solar system -> what made the universe -> what made god -> what made that maker, etc.” Pushing the question out one level adds NO explanatory power to the claim of God dunnit.
The other thing that seems to not get addressed in this kind of conversation, seemingly from an attempt to be polite about origins is that there is NO evidence for the God claim to begin with. I’m sure getting back to this fundamental argument would make Sam or Daniel happy. So, what this means is that, logically, if one were to accept that God could be ‘non-created’ or ‘self-created’ then so could anything else. Unless the religious among us would like to take a swing at explaining gods origins to at LEAST the level of understanding we have about the big bang, we really don’t have much to talk about. The fact that we just don’t know yet where this all came from is fascinating, exciting and amazing. The fact that we are learning more about it everyday and are furthering our explanations, making accurate prediction and have developed models that work out perfectly with the Universe we observe around us makes me giddy. We may not know yet, but we should refuse to accept a God of the gaps argument for creation and get busy looking for actual answers, whatever those may turn out to be.
A while back I had an interesting argy-bargy with a long estranged family member. I saw this:
He meant metaphorical mountains of course, and I could just as easily have meant a metaphorical shovel. The meaning of the statement in reality would have been the same. It’s what Daniel Dennett calls ‘Deepities’. Things that make us feel good because they are cleverly put and key in on our general insecurities and common experiences as human beings. They just don’t mean much though. Depak Chopra is famous for taking a lot without saying much, with much of the same fluffy rhetoric.
I expected the little banter that came next about ‘up days’ and ‘down days’, ultimately conceding the point with a “…yeah, faith/trust/positive vibe/good juju, all that is great for keeping your mind in a place to be able to focus and work through what you need to. Completely agree.” And I thought that to be the end of it.
It wasn’t. Not by far.
His wife decided to join in with a brand of Christian zeal that I have rarely experienced, and as such, I decided I would bring it to my readers. I frequently get comments and emails from people saying “why do you write about those obscure fringe people like they are mainstream?” “They are the rare ones.” “They aren’t even in your world.” Etc. Etc. Well for those of you who think that, I give you Sara, who is by the way, a registered voter (let that sink in after the article).
Hi, Michael. I wanted to know what happened to you to make you so negative?”
This is not the first time she has asked me that. We made brief contact when Facebook became a thing, and then silence. Regardless, I dont feel like I have a negative attitude for the sake of being negative. I feel like I point out negative things people are doing, and I often want to draw attention to it so we can all, as a society work out solutions to the issues. Evidence based solutions. and I basically told her so.
I don’t believe you.
I can also do whatever I want.
Wait, did she really ask me a question, then when given the answer called me a liar? What kind of passive aggressive bullshit is that? But Ive found this to be a common tactic with vehement religious people, fundamentalists and evangelicals mostly. There’s almost always a certain kind of argumentation that they take when addressing an atheist or non-believer. It usually starts with disbelief, as if they cant think of anything more absurd than not believing the same thing they themselves at one point didn’t believe. Then it turns to ‘what happened to you?’. From there you get a variation of ‘your church wasnt the real…’, well, you know what, just read on, you’ll see a fantastic example of how they agrue, back up their beliefs and ignore every word you say to them while almost doing a fingers-in-the-ears ‘nah nah jesus jesus jesus’ impression…..
I feel you just go by feelings and what you see. The reason you feel faith is a cop out is because people are not perfect and you have never had the real truth ,because the devil and his kingdom is here to try to keep truth from you. 1st of all I would start with you need Acts 2:38 like it says. You need to repent of you sins, get baptized in the name Jesus Christ for remission of your sins (not in name of father, son, holy ghost) have to have Jesus name to have his blood take away sins, and receive the baptizm of the Holy Ghost by speaking in tongues as the spirit gives utterance. Most church do not preach truth. If you research church history, which I have, a lot, you will see the Catholic church killed people for trying to get truth to people. Catholic church before America became America was the religion everyone had to go by, that’s why people came to America to get away from the Catholic church. Therefore all the other religions came out of the Catholic church. The real church which Jesus Christ started of the day of pentecost is God’s real church.
I took the bait… First, the reason I think faith is a cop out is because it is. Faith is the answer people give when they don’t have a good reason for believing something. If one has a good reason for believing something, one would give that reason. That’s how it works in EVERY other aspect of people’s lives; it’s only in this arena of thought that this kind of thing is acceptable. I realize that people are not perfect. I understand that people need something to trust in, etc. However, I feel that trust in things unseen as the bible says it, is ridiculous and a dangerous way to determine truth in reality. If you can just have faith or arbitrary belief in something, then what methodology do you use to determine the truth of the claims? There are multiple theologies, not all of which are compatible and several of which are contradictory and cannot exist as mutual truths. What methodology do you use to tell ones truth claims from the other if they are only base in faith? They can’t all be right, but they could all be wrong.
The whole ‘you need Jesus’ thing is amazingly condescending and pompous. Enough said.
“Most churches do not preach truth” is the ‘no true Scotsman fallacy’ and is very common among believers of most religions. ‘THAT guy isn’t a REAL Christian” is another version I hear a lot. My question remains the same, ‘How do you know?’
As for the speaking in tongues part, that has been shown for what it is many times over, bunk, group think, people not wanting to be left out of their social circle, fear, delusion, etc. Note that this is not just a blog opinion, its peer reviewed research carried out over many years by highly qualified open-minded linguists. Speaking-in-tongues is nothing but empty babbling by devoted believers who have deluded themselves into thinking it to be a sign of the Holy Spirit. I also know practitioners myself who at one time truly did believe in the reality of it, but realize now that it was motivated by my desire to blend in and were only fooling themselves.
If you dig a bit deeper and consider the history of it all, you find that the modern practice as we see it today is not all that old, it dates back to about 1906 in Los Angeles. Having first started in a revival there, it has since then spread in a viral like manner both geographically around the globe, and also chronologically on to each successive generation. Modern practitioners claim that what they are doing is exactly the same as the experience described within the Book of Acts (2:1-13), however one huge discrepancy is that the story within Book of Acts describes recognized languages from all around the Roman Empire being spoken. In stark contrast, nobody understands the modern mindless babbling.
What is even more fascinating is that the modern manifestation is a lot more widespread than most might appreciate. Other non-Christian religious groups also practice it. Felicitas Goodman, a Hungarian anthropologist compared it with recordings of rituals from Japan, Indonesia, Africa and Borneo and concluded that there was no distinction, it truly is universal and quite easily crosses religious divides. [Goodman, Felicitas D. (1972). Speaking in Tongues: A Cross-Cultural Study in Glossolalia. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.]
The pilgrims… The belief that the Pilgrims came to America in search of religious freedom is inspiring, but it’s just not so. Religious persecution had prompted the Pilgrims to move from England to Holland in 1608, but none of the Pilgrim writers so much as hinted that a desire for greater religious freedom led them to leave Holland for America in 1620. By their own account, Holland was a place where God had blessed them with “much peace and liberty.” They cited factors other than religious persecution in explaining their decision to seek a new home across the ocean.
Boiled down, the Pilgrims had two major complaints about their experience in Holland: (1) They found it a hard place to raise their children and (2) an even harder place to make a living. Did they want to continue to have religious freedoms? Sure, but they weren’t the oppressed victims of the Church of England by that point that most Christians would have you remember.
The rest of her ‘history’ is exceptionally inaccurate. The catholic church was certainly not the only religion or church in the world at the time. By the 1600’s there we more than 19 MAJOR world religions divided into over 300 large groups. I think this might be a terminology argument though, as it appears that when you say ‘religion’ you mean Christianity. I hope that in all of your studies that you did not learn that ‘all the other religions come out of Catholicism’ because that’s ridiculous, as there were MANY religions founded LONG before Catholicism.
A fantastic animated version has been making the rounds lately that also helps to see the movement of religions over time across the planet. Hopefully this can give you a better, less biased, view of how religions actually made their way around the world and when. Animated World Map of Religions.
You Need real Truth. Don’t let the devil use you. When you are ready for the real truth, John and I will be here.
I tell her thanks, and then it starts to get weird… No, really, the weird is just starting.
I am here to stand for truth and God the Lord Jesus Christ. Acts 2:38 is what you need. I have lived for God hard for 50 yrs and know a lot of things you don’t know especially spiritual things. I have spoke in tongues many times since then and have always lived hard for God according to the Bible and Randy about 32 yrs. I am very inturitive and God has given me the gift of wisdom and knowledge. You cannot believe eveything you read in books and learn in college. There is so much lying and deception in this world. You can’t believe everything you read or they tell you. We are in the endtime. Endtime.com I grew up with Irvin Baxter of endtime. He was my 2nd favorite mentor and mom was the 1st. She went through much trouble with my dad so she could live for God and go to church. I have a lot of things I could tell you how God has talked to me and showed me visions. We love you Michael. I’m here to fight the devils kingdom with Gods help.
Here is when I feel like we have to stop being nice and tolerant as secularists and really just as good human beings. When the sheer amount of condecension, arrogance, and overall bullshit hit this level, one has to stand up for reality, rationality, science, logic and reason. The incoherent babble above is a fantastic example of how people are not rational, but rather they are rationalizing their beliefs into the world around them. I want to (for those of you who made it this far) take this last blurb line by line, just to point out some things I feel we have been culturally programmed to ignore and just ‘live and let live’ rather than argue and point out the fallacies of.
‘I am here to stand for truth and God the Lord Jesus Christ.’
You are not for truth. If you were for truth, you would say ‘Im for truth’. You don’t need to add the rest, because if you are for truth, and the truth turns out to be God and the Lord Jesus as you claim, then its just the truth. What you have said here just screams motivated reasoning. It’s akin to going to a murder scene and saying “
I’m here to find how OJ murdered his wife” vs “Im here to find out who committed this murder”.
Acts 2:38 is what you need.
I think we should cover whether Jesus was real, if he existed was he the offspring of a man and an angel, and a whole bunch of other unsubstantiated nonsense before we go diving into why I need this…
I have lived for God hard for 50 yrs and know a lot of things you don’t know especially spiritual things. . I have spoke in tongues many times since then and have always lived hard for God according to the Bible and Randy about 32 yrs. I am very inturitive and God has given me the gift of wisdom and knowledge
Really? That’s a neat trick you did there. You read my mind to learn everything I know while comparing it to what you know and determined the differences. So, now that you’ve done that amazing feat, let’s move on the important part, proving it. Show me your ‘divine’ information that I’m not privileged enough to know or have access to. Because information doesn’t work that way, so if you can show that you are able to do this, you will likely win a Nobel Prize and the JRF 1,000,000 prize. But you can’t really show that to be true can you? Otherwise those who make claims like yours would have already proven it, but they haven’t either. Just think about that for a bit. Im just going to have to assume what you mean by ‘spritual’ things because that’s one of those words that has as many meanings as it does people who use it. This essentially makes it meaningless.
You cannot believe eveything you read in books and learn in college. There is so much lying and deception in this world. You can’t believe everything you read or they tell you.
This is where I start to get pissed at religion. She asked what made me so angry? Well, this is one thing that makes me very angry. The very idea that one could garner knowledge ‘divinely’ is arguably insane. Literally. Not being mean about it, but the thought that you have just as good of a chance to get real knowledge from ‘intuition’ as you have of getting it from rigorous study, learning, testing, disproving, retesting, etc etc…. then you might actually be insane. Can you believe everything? Of course not. That’s why its even MORE critical to develop your critical thinking skills, hone your skepticism and learn how to tell reason from nonsense. People are exceptionally easy to fool, especially when they are the ones doing both the fooling and being fooled. This comment though makes me want to return to my original call to all believers, ‘how do you tell whats real and whats not, if you have to rely on this kind of unverifiable delivery of knowledge?’.
We are in the endtime. Endtime.com I grew up with Irvin Baxter of endtime. He was my 2nd favorite mentor and mom was the 1st. She went through much trouble with my dad so she could live for God and go to church. I have a lot of things I could tell you how God has talked to me and showed me visions. We love you Michael. I’m here to fight the devils kingdom with Gods help.
Now, I want to be as polite to my family here as possible. But this is a mortgage payment away from being a rambling homeless street preacher message. It also has all the coloring’s of motivated thinking. The end days mentality and tactic that religions use is an evil and deceptive one. To just SCARE people into belief is unconscionable. But I’ll tell you what, there is no better way to be sure you aren’t playing into your own confirmation biases than by using your childhood mentor and parent as your sources. That was sarcastic. That’s actually a great way to be SURE you stay in your circle of confirmation. When you start talking about talking to god, having visions, and fighting literal demons then I really have to start questioning your mental health. Not only because those things are imaginary, but because somehow you have been able to imbue yourself with enough power that you feel your creator of the universe needs your help in battling his own creation. Sounds to me like he is either not all powerful, or doesn’t exist. Or both.
I have been waiting for days now for a response, any response. Nothing. I didn’t really expect her to address any of the fallacies, the inconsistencies, the drastic misunderstandings of history, theology or epistemology. Maybe someone will read this and have better answers for me? Comments and emails welcome: Email me here.
I know I got into a little personal space in this article. I want the readers to know, however, that I try to come at these discussion from a direction of compassion, but when people are determined to blatantly ignore the things we do really know and can demonstrate, want to undermine education or science, or generally want to propagate unfounded bullshit, then I tend to be less compassionate and more fervent.
In the footsteps of amazing scholars like David Fitzgerald and Richard Carrier, Biblical scholar Joseph Atwill will be presenting the most current information regarding the historicity of Jesus Christ. Joseph Atwill is the author of the best-selling book “Caesar’s Messiah” and its upcoming sequel “The Single Strand.”
Atwill will be presenting his papers at a one-day symposium called Convert Messiah in Holborn, London on October 19th. If there is a web stream, I will post it when available. http://www.covertmessiah.com
Just to wet your lips a little, here are some excepts from an interview with Atwill:
Was Jesus based on a real person from history? “The short answer is no,” Atwill insists, “in fact he may be the only fictional character in literature whose entire life story can be traced to other sources. Once those sources are all laid bare, there’s simply nothing left.”
“When the Romans had exhausted conventional means of quashing rebellion, they switched to psychological warfare. They surmised that the way to stop the spread of zealous Jewish missionary activity was to create a competing belief system. That’s when the ‘peaceful’ Messiah story was invented. Instead of inspiring warfare, this Messiah urged turn-the-other-cheek pacifism and encouraged Jews to ‘give onto Caesar’ and pay their taxes to Rome.”
Will this be a deathblow to Christianity? Was the science that the Koran is older than the people who wrote it? Nope. The religious have an amazing ability to ignore science and data that disagrees with them, and just stick with ‘faith’. I expect this to get people on the fence, or people who are already skeptic of the historical Christ, but the ‘true’ followers, the blindly devoted, will not be shaken. Yet.