Philip Kitcher’s New Atheism

Philip Kitcher

Philip Kitcher

Gary Gutting profiles the emerging brand of atheism espoused by Columbia University professor Philip Kitcher, in the New York Times:

Led by the biologist Richard Dawkins, the author of “The God Delusion,” atheism has taken on a new life in popular religious debate. Dawkins’s brand of atheism is scientific in that it views the “God hypothesis” as obviously inadequate to the known facts. In particular, he employs the facts of evolution to challenge the need to postulate God as the designer of the universe. For atheists like Dawkins, belief in God is an intellectual mistake, and honest thinkers need simply to recognize this and move on from the silliness and abuses associated with religion.

Most believers, however, do not come to religion through philosophical arguments. Rather, their belief arises from their personal experiences of a spiritual world of meaning and values, with God as its center.

In the last few years there has emerged another style of atheism that takes such experiences seriously. One of its best exponents is Philip Kitcher, a professor of philosophy at Columbia. (For a good introduction to his views, see Kitcher’s essay in “The Joy of Secularism,” perceptively discussed last month by James Wood in The New Yorker.)

Instead of focusing on the scientific inadequacy of theistic arguments, Kitcher critically examines the spiritual experiences underlying religious belief, particularly noting that they depend on specific and contingent social and cultural conditions. Your religious beliefs typically depend on the community in which you were raised or live. The spiritual experiences of people in ancient Greece, medieval Japan or 21st-century Saudi Arabia do not lead to belief in Christianity. It seems, therefore, that religious belief very likely tracks not truth but social conditioning. This “cultural relativism” argument is an old one, but Kitcher shows that it is still a serious challenge. (He is also refreshingly aware that he needs to show why a similar argument does not apply to his own position, since atheistic beliefs are themselves often a result of the community in which one lives.)…

[continues in the New York Times]

majestic

Majestic is gadfly emeritus.

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189 Comments on "Philip Kitcher’s New Atheism"

  1. Since when was evolution proven as a fact as stated in sentence #3 of this article?  Scientists have tried to prove evolution (but with many holes that leave the theory in theory status and not fact status)  Until Mr. Kitcher realizes that he is using a theory to prove another theory, he is just kidding himself. 

  2. Since when was evolution proven as a fact as stated in sentence #3 of this article?  Scientists have tried to prove evolution (but with many holes that leave the theory in theory status and not fact status)  Until Mr. Kitcher realizes that he is using a theory to prove another theory, he is just kidding himself. 

    • Evolution has been proven as fact over and over and over again. Go educate yourself before you show off your ignorance in public again. Start by learning what the word “theory” actually means.

      • god i hate how the word theory has been used to destroy, the most proven fact available. Theory is not hypothesis.

    • Tuna Ghost | Sep 17, 2011 at 11:04 am |

      Micro-evolution within a single species has been proven a number of times, friend.  It has been observed and found to fit the theory of evolution perfectly.  You’re mistaking a scientific theory, for which there is ample scientific evidence and has unmatched explanatory power, for a hypothesis, which is still doubted. Scientists are not in doubt in regard to evolution.  That is a lie peddled by creationists, the same people who cry “where is the missing link between man and ape?” and are then shown Homo erectus.  Then they cry “a-ha, but what about the link between Homo erectus and ape?”, and are shown Homo Habilis.  Then they cry, “Well, where’s the link between Homo habilis and apes, Mr. Smarty-pants?”  So they are shown Australopithecus africanus, and then say, perhaps a bit more nervously, “But where’ the link between Australopithecus africanus and apes?”.  So they are shown Australopithecus anamensis.  Then they say “well, what about…”

      This continues for quite some time.  Do you see the mistake they’re making?  

  3. Anonymous | Sep 16, 2011 at 12:28 am |

    Evolution has been proven as fact over and over and over again. Go educate yourself before you show off your ignorance in public again. Start by learning what the word “theory” actually means.

  4. its a bummer the outspoken atheists always use religion as their wall for bouncing arguments off of. I’m no where near atheist, but I’m sure as hell not religious. There’s a lot of middle ground that gets ignored by these kinds of argument given that it’s so easy to bash the bible. In my opinion atheism is just as faith based as Catholicism or any other education system. Beliefs should be earned through experience, not by listening to other people regurgitate things they’ve read.

  5. its a bummer the outspoken atheists always use religion as their wall for bouncing arguments off of. I’m no where near atheist, but I’m sure as hell not religious. There’s a lot of middle ground that gets ignored by these kinds of argument given that it’s so easy to bash the bible. In my opinion atheism is just as faith based as Catholicism or any other education system. Beliefs should be earned through experience, not by listening to other people regurgitate things they’ve read.

    • You mean like regurgitating that old crap line about atheism being just another faith? Atheism is about science & logic & verifiable evidence. Faith is no part of the mix.

      • Faith is still there its just far removed from your mind. you have faith when you hear someone or read something say “scientists say….” that it is somewhat closer to fact, than when the equivalent “my pastor said….”. Unless you read the scientific papers yourself and evaluate their quality yourself, you are taking it on faith. Now that’s not such a big thing but there are plenty of atheists that have zero, none, zilch training in scientific writing or procedure, and would never know how to evaluate a scientific paper. They are in fact left to faith that the scientists are doing their job, and doing it correctly.

        Given, I trust more scientists than I do pastors, but I neither doubt the concept of a corrupt scientist nor a pure pastor.

        You have to remove your mind from the concept of “god does not exist” because only idiots and children believe in the strawman picture that atheists have for god, and because they do not expand their mind, they are much like these idiots and children in such a way that even if you are atheistic you don’t think about the inner workings of those which you cannot fully comprehend. And i’m not talking of spirituality or gods at this point, I’m talking of forces beyond your personal perception that DO exist, such as maybe the intent of the generation that is 40 years older than you, or if they don’t exist, the intent of the generation that is 40 years younger than you. Or maybe the new modern gods like Television, and the Internet. While they don’t literally exist(in your strawman-coneptualization), the producers and consumers of the technology do exist, and thus it is a force to be reckoned with.

        While your strawman god might not exist, these collective forces do exist, and you will be baffled by them once you realize that you cannot fathom understanding of them.

        • I don’t rely on faith. I rely on the knowledge that if something is published in a scientific paper, that I can go and reproduce the results myself, because science describes things in the world and tries to find facts. If a priest tells me some load of crap about his god, there is nothing I can do to verify what he says. Faith ignores fact.

          I’m amused that you gripe about atheist’s strawman in the same sentence you present an absurd strawman atheist. I, and many other atheists are aware of emergent forces and meta-patterns and give them alot of consideration, but they are not gods, and they are not beyond comprehension. If you are going to talk about god and atheists, you need to use the actual meanings of those words, or you’re spouting gibberish. Please do keep up.

          • Gibberish is one of my best talents. I’ll admit that given you read Disinfo, you’re probably a little more aware(IE there are many unaware atheists), but you still missed my points. The first is the more simple one, where faith is simply the complete trust in something. You don’t have to believe in a god to have faith, you can have faith in people or concepts. Concepts like… mathematics… physics… chemistry… etc. The atheistic faith is simply this concept: the materialistic (scientifically detectable) reality, is the penultimate reality, and nothing is beyond it. This includes all reality that will ever be detectable by reproducible scientific inquiry throughout time.

            The misstep I feel the uneducated atheists fall under are forgetting the second part, that there are aspects of reality that are not detectable now, but will be in the future. Atheists before electricity and the electromatic spectrum were understood had a more limited scope than atheists do today. The funny thing is that at this point the “materialistic” reality involves things that are in no way materialistic (in the sense of being made of matter), however they are real now because they are scientifically detectable. Bahh more gibberish, my point here is that there are most likely than not aspects of reality that cannot (but will eventually) be detected through scientific mechanisms and material reality will continue to be adapted to discoveries. Atheists will however deny these aspects (even though they do (most likely) exist) until they are finally discovered, because they have faith that their current definition of a materialistic world is correct. Enough gibberish for ya?

            The second point I won’t belabor, it will never make sense as long as you keep to your own personal viewpoint and are willing to look through other people’s eyes (don’t try to look through mine though, you might go mad).

          • Monkey See Monkey Do | Sep 16, 2011 at 6:33 am |

            Well said, but its an uphill battle trying to explain these things to ‘bad atheists’. No harm in trying i guess.

          • Micho_rizo | Sep 16, 2011 at 11:35 am |

            Yes, you do rely on faith. You rely on the faith that the materialist/reductionist model can tell us specific capital-T “Truths” about existence. In fact, it can only tell us certain things about reality, and it can never tell us how to interpret the things it does tell us (I don’t see how evolution is an argument against a “cosmic force” that is responsible for everything we see. To me it seems just as much an argument for than against). Also, it can only tell us certain things based on scale. The things we think we know–the things the materialist/reductionist model tell us are “fact”– break down at subatomic levels (quantum mechanics) and at extremely large, galactic levels (relativity).

            Furthermore, based on the reductionist model, everything is reduced to the big bang. The cause of all causes. However, if we depend on the reductionist model, we HAVE TO ask, “What caused the big bang?” One of two things happen, either we say, “Nothing caused the big bang,” which, because it is outside the realm of causation, is a metaphysical statement and thereby beyond the scope of reductionism (reductio ad absurdum) or we say that it did have a cause, but then we have to ask what was the cause of the cause–and the cause of the cause of the cause–and the cause of the cause of the cause of the cause, leading to an infinite number of causes. (reductio ad infinitum). Either answer must be rejected by the very tenets of the materialist/reductionist argument. 

            Look, I’m an agnostic through and through. I don’t care that I’m perceived as not having the balls to take a side in the argument, because both sides are stupid. We don’t know. We probably will never know. Accept that shit and move on with your lives and live the best life you can. Both sides cling to their theories like whiny little bitches, and I get sick of the condescending atheists acting like they’re so fucking smart when they can’t even see the holes in their own arguments. Yes, it’s easy to pick on Abrahamic religions, because if there is a God, he almost certainly isn’t some big, old white dude with a grey beard sitting on a cloud somewhere. This is the most obvious fucking thing in the world and if people want to believe otherwise, you’re not going to convince them because there’s a reason they believe something so fucking stupid. However, that is also a pretty narrow definition for “God” and I’m open to an idea that there is some sort of creative force behind the Universe. In fact, in a lot of ways, it’s pretty obvious. Now whether this force is conscious or not is another story. Whether its a “God” or not is another story.

          • Tuna Ghost | Sep 16, 2011 at 2:15 pm |

            Yes, you do rely on faith. You rely on the faith that the materialist/reductionist model can tell us specific capital-T “Truths” about existence. 

            That’s a big assumption.  I think many atheists would object to that on the grounds that they don’t give a flying fuck about capital-T “Truths” about existence.  I personally am very interested in religion, the occult, metaphysics, and things of that nature.  So much so that I pursued a degree that is essentially worthless because it involves the search for answers (or at least really juicy questions) to these questions.  The way people characterize their relationship with the infinite has always fascinated me.  

            But there are people, many people, for whom those questions simply are not important.  They are not relying on faith that materialism will give them “Truth” about existence.  They don’t care about the “Truth” behind existence, or any of the big questions.  That is their right.  It’s an acceptable lifestyle.  They also have the right to not be bothered by those of us that are concerned with the big questions, and it’s a mistake to assume that everyone is searching for eternal truths or answers to big questions or any kind of connection to the infinite.  

          • emperorreagan | Sep 16, 2011 at 2:29 pm |

            I think it might be a fair charge to level at people who choose to engage themselves in these arguments, though.  

            I don’t think the probably majority of people that are relatively indifferent to religion, attend church out of social obligation rather than religious conviction, loosely use labels like agnostic, atheist, spiritual but not religious, or a host of others really engage themselves in the debate.  

          • Tuna Ghost | Sep 16, 2011 at 2:58 pm |

            I think it might be a fair charge to level at people who choose to engage themselves in these arguments, though.

            Why?  Where have you seen atheists arguing or even assuming that science will give us answers to metaphysical questions, or to “big” questions, e.g. why are we here, what’s our purpose, what was going on before the big bang, why is there something rather than nothing at all?  Disinfo doesn’t always have the brightest bulbs commenting, but I haven’t seen that yet to my knowledge.   

            I don’t think the probably majority of people that are relatively indifferent to religion,…  ….really engage themselves in the debate.

            I’m fairly certain you’re incorrect.  According to the loudest atheists I know, their main beef is that religion and religious people are continually asserting themselves and their doctrines into atheists’ lives via politics or what-have-you.  Infringing on their rights and all that.  It’s not a religious or spiritual or metaphysical issue to them, it’s more of a “I’m tired of putting up with these people and their influence on my life” issue.  

          • emperorreagan | Sep 16, 2011 at 3:37 pm |

            I read the current atheist argument a little differently in general, I suppose.  I see it as asserting three big fundamental truths about human existence – there are no deities, the practice of religion is bad for society, and the very idea of metaphysics is meaningless.

            I think the people who are genuinely disinterested in defining absolutes are relatively silent in the debate.

            I’ll buy the P.S., though.  A good portion of the vitriol on both sides in the debate could be attributable to “some people is jerks” and feeling threatened by opposing views.

            Edited to add – I think people who broadly attack religion because they dislike its influence in politics are misguided and fall in the “some people is jerks” camp. That will do nothing to dampen the influence of religion on politics.

          • Tuna Ghost | Sep 17, 2011 at 5:44 am |

            I read the current atheist argument a little differently in general, I suppose.  I see it as asserting three big fundamental truths about human existence – there are no deities, the practice of religion is bad for society, and the very idea of metaphysics is meaningless.

            My description could easily fit into the second one you mention–religion is bad for society because it inflicts cultural and religious rules on people who have no connection to the culture and don’t believe in the religion, and thus it restricts their freedom.  

            As for number three, that has been a popular opinion in philosophical circles at various times in history.  The study of metaphysics goes in and out of fashion in a fairly cyclical way.  Everyone gets tired of it because the discussion never really goes anywhere (there’s only so many times one can ask the question “is ‘green’ a thing, or are there just green things?”), so they stop talking about it for a few centuries until someone thinks of a new question and everyone gets excited again.  

            The early parts of the twentieth century were the end of one of these cycles.  The story goes that Russell and Whitehead (of Principia fame) were attending a lecture wherein the speaker had just finished proposing a system of metaphysics that concluded time does not exist, is an illusion, yada yada yada and then turned around and said “I’m afraid I can’t take any questions, I have a lunch date at two o’clock and I’m already late”.  Angry that metaphysics had gotten to the point where any theory, no matter how counter-intuitive or ridiculous, could be accepted as valid if it was logically consistent, they went ahead and wrote their Principia.  Not long after, the Verificationists became popular, a branch of empiricism that held in their Verificationists Theory of Meaning that “a statement must be able to be verified as either true or false, if not then it is meaningless”.  This was popular for a couple years until someone noticed that the Verificationist’s theory was self-defeating as it could not be verified as either true or false.  I’d like to think a trombone went “wah wah” when they mentioned it.

          • emperorreagan | Sep 20, 2011 at 10:53 am |

            “My description could easily fit into the second one you mention–religion is bad for society because it inflicts cultural and religious rules on people who have no connection to the culture and don’t believe in the religion, and thus it restricts their freedom. ”

            Cultural rules will exist whether there is religion or not.  Every society is marked by its own specific mores.  Religion may be part of the way they’re transmitted or enforced, but it’s certainly not the only way.  One only need compare societies that are, at present, non-religious or in severe religious decline to see that there are still cultural pressures many would find onerous in the absence of religion – take Japan or France, for example.  One can compare different regions in the US and their implementation of Christianity, too – take the wealthy, old communities of the north eastern United States where a very moderate form of religion persists as compared to communities dominated by Pentecostal churches in the American South.

            While one can postulate how a culture would change in the absence of religion, I think it too often comes across as  speculation asserted as a truth.  It ignores the complexity of societies.  

            I also think that the argument asserts something that is a little absurd.  Using the US as an example – you may have access to a broader culture, where the mores depicted are mostly local to NY or CA, or wherever the writers/actors/creators/etc. live and work.  The cultural values and rules in a particular location, though, are going to vary widely.  Littletown, Mississippi isn’t the same, culturally, as NY.  To expect the same mores to apply as seen on TV or the internet to apply is ridiculous, religion or not.  Likewise, if one chooses to move to Littletown, Mississippi, it would be ridiculous to expect the local society to change to accommodate you.  It’s something that happens in goofy movies, not something that happens in real societies.

          • Tuna Ghost | Sep 16, 2011 at 3:02 pm |

            P.S.  Regarding my second point, it’s also possible that some atheists are just assholes whose ideas are threatened by religious people and take every opportunity to call them stupid, delusional, etc.  Again, not a metaphysical issue, just a “some people is jerks” issue.  

      • There is sadly quite a lot of faith in the new atheist movement. They will often stick to known illogic and falsehoods, such as arguing Jesus didn’t exist (against the view of all relevant historians) or say “you can’t prove a negative” (when even first year philosophy students could show this to be wrong).
        Why are there these platitudes? The new atheist movement isn’t stupid. Dawkins could probably work out why his boeing 747 gambit argument carries absolutely no water, if he thought about it for a second. But he doesn’t. That’s when the faith aspect comes in, with so many new atheists happy to defend dreadful arguments so long as they support the position that belief in a god is unfounded.

        • What historians have proof that Jesus was a real historical figure? I have heard none, and I know of no “relevant” historians who have presented any such proof.

          • Micho_rizo | Sep 16, 2011 at 12:58 pm |

            There isn’t “proof” per se. There’s just some pretty decent evidence that he did.

          • Oh really? Citations please. I’m not ignorant on the subject, and I’ve read nothing that would indicate there’s any credible evidence for his existence, and a conspicuous lack of evidence where we would expect there to be any.

          • Tuna Ghost | Sep 16, 2011 at 2:37 pm |

            Well if you exclude all Christian resources on the grounds that they have a vested interest in proving his existence (which they do) or that some of it has been subject to forgery (which it has) and is therefore inadmissable as evidence, then you’re left with not much at all.  I’m not sure why you claim there is a conspicuous lack of evidence where one would expect it, so feel free to elaborate on that.  It’s a subject I’m interested in.  Also bear in mind that if you exclude all the Athenian resources, you’re not left with much that proves Socrates ever existed either.  

            But there is still some evidence that points to the antiquity of some of the gospels, notably Mark, or at least whatever source Mark was based on.  Some of the creeds mentioned in the synoptic gospels are also mentioned in other more reliable sources and indicate a certain antiquity.  Consider, also, that there were gnostic groups before Christ came around (allegedly) and suddenly there were Christian gnostic sects around the time he (allegedly) died, which is not proof per se but is certainly worth investigating.  There’s a lot more evidence for the existence of Christians toward the end of the first century AD than there is of Jesus, which doesn’t mean there was a Jesus at all but it does sort of point in that direction.  I worship Hermes Trismegistus, who is said to have walked around on earth, but if the cult that claims this was around while he was allegedly living and breathing there’s no evidence for it.  There’s a gap, but the gap for Christians is much much smaller.  It could even be less than a generation.  

            The question, for me, becomes “which Jesus?”.  It’s not hard to imagine a Jewish teacher living and teaching a radical new doctrine in the area, a man who was called the Messiah by a group of his followers, and was eventually put to death for sedition against Rome.  That sort of thing was not at all uncommon for the time.  But if you mean the Jesus that was born of a virgin, that raised Lazarus from the dead, that was resurrected on the third day, etc., well that is a different case.  The early Christians certainly didn’t agree on all of that either; some groups denied that Christ was truly the son of God, some didn’t believe in a literal interpretation of the resurrection, some denied that he had an earthly form, and some thought he was a ghostly specter of a fish that was always smoking cheap cigarettes and occasionally did heroin (I made one of those up, can you guess which one?).  But, and I know this is an appeal to authority, most of the historical scholars I’ve discussed this with have no reservations about believing that a man lived around the time Jesus was said to have lived, taught and possibly healed people in the area he is said to have hung around, was called the Messiah by some guys, and was eventually executed for sedition against Rome.  Like I said, it’s not a crazy story or anything.  Pretty common, really.

          • You see, this is what I was talking about, and this is what makes atheism look dreadful, when the new atheists essentially run off faith. We have better sources for Jesus than for Pythagoras, or so many other thinkers from his time. So then why chuck out one of the best attested characters in ancient history? It becomes clear that we’re adopting a fringe position in order to argue against the existence of a god. In other words, it’s faith.

          • Tuna Ghost | Sep 17, 2011 at 5:56 am |

            What credible sources do you have for the existence of Jesus?  

          • We have the four gospels and the letters of Paul. They are not especially reliable sources, as they ascribe things to Jesus which we know wouldn’t have happened, such as the miracles. That was pretty common for the time period. Our best sources for Pythagoras claim he could perform miracles. Same for Plato and others (the people of the time were prone to magical thinking). It is the job of the historian to find which bits are likely to be true and which are unlikely to be true. Absolutely every scholar that has done this and teaches this stuff has concluded that Jesus was killed by the Romans, that he probably had a band of followers, and that he probably knew John the Baptist.
            They are so far from the part about Jesus existing that the debate doesn’t even come up. To put it in perspective, there are more biologists who doubt evolution than biblical historians who doubt the existence of Jesus.

          • Tuna Ghost | Sep 17, 2011 at 10:41 am |

            They are not especially reliable sources, as they ascribe things to Jesus which we know wouldn’t have happened, such as the miracles.

            That’s not the only reason they’re not reliable.  None of them were written while Jesus is alleged to have been alive, some weren’t even written in the same century.  All have been edited throughout history.  The Gospels do not count as “evidence”, unfortunately.  The writers were not historians, they were followers of a religion.  When people talk about evidence for Jesus having lived, they’re referring to Josephus, Tacitus, Pliny the Younger, etc.  No reputable historian considers the Gospels “evidence” for anything.  

            Our best sources for Pythagoras claim he could perform miracles. Same for Plato and others

            Yes for Pythagoras, no for Plato.  I studied Plato a fair bit while earning my philosophy degree, I don’t recall anything about Socrates or Plato having magic powers.  Where are you getting this?  

            Absolutely every scholar that has done this and teaches this stuff has concluded that Jesus was killed by the Romans, that he probably had a band of followers, and that he probably knew John the Baptist. They are so far from the part about Jesus existing that the debate doesn’t even come up. To put it in perspective, there are more biologists who doubt evolution than biblical historians who doubt the existence of Jesus.

            What?  That is completely untrue.  Jesus is most definitely not considered a historical fact by “absolutely every scholar”.  There has been a huge debate about the historicity of Jesus for over a hundred years in the academic field.  That can’t happen if everyone believed Jesus existed.  See Constatin-Francios Volney, Charles Francios Dupuis, and Bruno Bauer for evidence that biblical historians doubted his existence before the 1900s.  There have been dozens and dozens of book written on the subject.  This is exactly what The Jesus Project, funded by the Committee for the Scientific Examination of Religion, is about.  The fact that you’ve somehow not noticed this makes me wonder how deeply you’ve investigated the subject.  

          • The fact that the gospels weren’t written when Jesus was alive is irrelevant. Most sources from ancient history are after the fact. Pythagoras we’re working from centuries after the fact. Lucretius we work from centuries after the fact. Tonnes of minor thinkers are centuries after the fact. The sources for Jesus are astonishingly recent compared to what historians usually have to work with.
            And when people talk about evidence for Jesus, they almost exclusively draw from the new testament, because it’s better sources for him than Josephus et al.

            Also you said my comment that he’s considered a fact by every scholar is untrue, but haven’t given any evidence against hat fact. You cite 3 people who doubted his existence more than 100 years ago, and then talk about The Jesus Project, which didn’t contain any relevant scholars who doubted Jesus’ existence, and was set up by the Center For Inquiry, a group dedicated to exploring fringe science claims.

            Of course, you are just responding the same way any conspiracy theorist does, accusing the mainstream of simply not investigating well enough. I’m sorry man, history isn’t going to get overthrown for a totally unecessary bit of new atheist dogma.

          • Tuna Ghost | Sep 19, 2011 at 7:47 am |

            The fact that the gospels weren’t written when Jesus was alive is irrelevant. 

            How about the fact that none of the writers knew him, and all had a vested interest that completely eradicates their objectivity, thus their credibility?  

            And when people talk about evidence for Jesus, they almost exclusively draw from the new testament, because it’s better sources for him than Josephus et al

            They talk about the Creeds found therein, or other bits and pieces.  It’s certainly not “almost exclusively” because, since as noted they’re anything except objective.  When investigating the historicity of someone, why wouldn’t they use actual historians instead of religious texts?  

            Your increased rudeness is very revealing.  This is what people do when they’re losing.

          • No the fact the writers didn’t know him, or had vested interest, doesn’t affect their credibility at all. That’s not how history works. Historians don’t say “this guy is trustworthy, I’ll believe everything he says” or “this person was a follower of Ghandi, his writings on Ghandi will be utterly worthless as he has a vested interest.” Historians work with the evidence. Every source has a vested interest, and very few sources are first hand accounts.

            I do not mean to be rude, but your dogmatic denial of history is tiresome. Every 10 years some loser comes along and writes a book claiming Jesus didn’t exist, makes a lot of money out of it, and less intelligent atheists latch onto it as an easy way to debunk Christianity. It makes everybody involved look bad. People who want to learn and teach the comprehensive philosophical arguments for atheism end up sharing platforms (be it on the TV, online, or in the minds of theists) with the academic equivalent of moon landing hoax theorists.

          • This is why atheists get so frustrated talking to theists. You keep making up statements like that. You claim that Jeebus is “one of the best attested characters in ancient history,” but all this statement reveals is that you have no idea what qualifies as reliable evidence. You say things like, “there are more biologists who doubt evolution than biblical historians who doubt the existence of Jesus,” and “Absolutely every scholar that has done this and teaches this stuff has concluded that Jesus was killed by the Romans.” These are made-up statements and are complete falsifications. Name names and give me a citation for these statements that conflict with all the historical data I’ve studied, and I’ll “have faith,” that you aren’t a dishonest liar.

          • Heh. I could just name the biblical scholar at every single accredited university, but what would be the point? If you can find just one who doubts Jesus, I’ll concede the point. They don’t exist though, because this is nothing more than new atheist dogma. It’s incredibly lazy too. Philosophers have laid out very good reasons for not believing in any god, but the new atheists cannot be bothered with that, so prefer just declaring all historians wrong to prevent having to think or participate in any genuine discussion.

          • The point would be you showing that you’re actually interested in rational debate instead of trolling. Now put your concession hat on. Here’s what 5 minutes of Googling produced;
            Thomas L. Thompson
            G. A. Wells
            Robert M. Price
            Alvar Ellegård

            Talk about lazy…

          • Must admit I’ve never heard Thomas L. Thompson brought up before, but the others are all regulars brought up by those espousing the fringe position. It’s worth noting that absolutely none of those listed is even in the field of biblical scholarship (Robert M. Price) who was kicked out of academia many years ago, being unable to get a teaching job since. All the rest are just the same old story. They’re unqualified and don’t have teaching jobs, so they write a “controversial” book and make a lot of money off it.
            As I said, name just one relevant scholar at an accredited university. Or an argument why we shouldn’t use the historical method. Or be quiet, and stop referring to mainstream academia as trolls. It makes you look ridiculous, and gives atheists a bad name.

          • Tuna Ghost | Sep 18, 2011 at 6:56 am |

            Now that I’ve provided you with a list of names, will you stop with this ridiculous “every single scholar from an accredited university” foolishness?  It’s very obviously not true, even if you’re writing them off as “irrelevant” because they doubt the existence of Christ.  They’re still historians and scholars from accredited universities, which plainly proves that you are mistaken here.

          • It would help if anyone you mentioned was alive. I can find tonnes of creationists if I plunder the 19th century, and tonnes of global warming deniers if I plunder the 20th. What’s more is that a number on your list spoke out about your position, but obviously you’ve copied them from some site somewhere so wouldn’t know that. As an example, you included Graham Stanton. Unluckily for you, I have Stanton’s major work in front of me. Allow me to quote from it: “There is a general agreement that, with the possible exception of Paul, we know far more about Jesus of Nazareth than about any first or second century Jewish or pagan religious teacher.”
            You cannot try and bluff your way into pretending that the “Jesus didn’t exist” nonsense is acceptable in academic circles, because it isn’t. You end up giving a list of dead people, some more than a century old, and some who actually held the polar opposite opinion to you.
            Dismissed.

          • Tuna Ghost | Sep 19, 2011 at 7:42 am |

            It would help if anyone you mentioned was alive.
            a.)  Some are still alive.

            b.)  Why does it matter if they died in 30s, 50s, or 80s?  Furthermore, why are you avoiding my questions concerning your strange qualifiers and your use of tautology?

            Graham Stanton obviously recognizes that there are scholars who doubt the existence of Jesus, so once again I ask if you’ll retract your ridiculous “every single scholar”.  

          • Strange qualifiers? I ask you to name me a single biblical scholar in an accredited university who doubts Jesus existence. You gave me a list of dead people, some of whom staunchly declared that Jesus is the best attested historical fact of all Jewish teachers of his time. You clearly have no interest in an honest debate, so you’re just wasting our time. Nobody takes your fringe lunacy seriously, and nobody ever will.

          • Tuna Ghost | Oct 2, 2011 at 1:27 pm |

            And once again you neglect to answer the questions or acknowledge that your claims are not factual.   And now you’re telling me I’m not interested in an honest debate?  This is what people do when they know they’re losing.  

          • Tuna Ghost | Sep 17, 2011 at 10:46 am |

            So then why chuck out one of the best attested characters in ancient history?

            If you’re talking about Jesus, he is far, far, far from being “one of the best attested characters in ancient history”.  

            It becomes clear that we’re adopting a fringe position in order to argue against the existence of a god. In other words, it’s faith.

            It is most certainly not a “fringe position”.  The historicity of Jesus has been debated for over a hundred years.  How have you missed this?  Have you actually looked into the subject?  You’re ignoring centuries of historical scholarship when you say it’s a “fringe position”.  

          • I have missed the historicity of Jesus being debated because I only read mainstream academic journals, rather than companion books to the zeitgeist movie. Seriously, can you name a single biblical scholar from an accredited university who doubts Jesus’ existence?

          • Tuna Ghost | Sep 18, 2011 at 6:53 am |

            Gerard Bolland.  John M. Allegro.  Graham Stanton.  Andre Dupont-Sommer.  Thomas L. Thompson.  Joseph Hoffman.  

            These are all either biblical scholars or historians with a focus on religions of that time and that area.  All from accredited universities.  Where they taught.  

            No one is arguing that the absolute shit-pile called Zeitgeist is anything but a collection of made-up “facts” and a smattering of completely misunderstood bits from other religions.  But you’re using strange qualifiers like “relevant universities” and “relevant scholars”.  Do you see the flaw in your reasoning?  “Find me a relevant scholar that doubts Jesus’s existence.  By the way, no scholar who doubts Jesus’s existence can be considered relevant.”  

            which didn’t contain any relevant scholars who doubted Jesus’ existence

            Why aren’t they relevant?  Some of them are historians from accredited universities who had a focus in mid-east religions.  Why are you writing them off so easily?  

            I personally have no problem believing that a teacher/healer with a radical new doctrine was called the Messiah by some guys and was eventually executed for sedition against Rome.  But you’re writing off anyone who doesn’t as “irrelevant”, even though it’s a sizable majority, and then asking us to find a relevant scholar who doubts Jesus’s existence.  My own history professor doubted his existence.  Are you going to tell me that the university or the professor isn’t relevant now, because he hasn’t published anything?  But you call the writers irrelevant because they don’t teach.  The people I listed above were teachers at accredited universities and writers.  How are you going to write them off as unacceptable?

          • Tuna Ghost | Sep 17, 2011 at 10:48 am |

            I have to agree with Artor.  Provide names of historians (not theologians) who think Jesus is one of the best attested characters from history, or who think doubting the historicity of Jesus is a “fringe position”.  

          • That would be all of them. Read Bart Ehrman’s “The New Testament: A Historical Introduction” if you’re after a quick guide to what the mainstream historical thought is.

      • Maybe not faith, but there are some atheists who abandon skepticism for dogmatism, leading to a very “Flat Earth” atheistic world view.

        • Yay!!!! Someone used a qualifier! I will happily agree with your statement. Yes, there are some atheists who hold to it as faith-like dogma. I’m not sure what you mean by a “flat earth” atheistic worldview though…

          • “Flat Earth?”

            Just that a non skeptic (dogmatist) view leads to a very narrow world view.

            Thanks for your reply Artor!

    • I still stand by my comment of the “bad atheist” as being defined as simple minded “anti-chistian”. Those unfortunately too focused on fighting specifically the christian mythos, that they miss the real picture.

    • When it come to atheism, there’s is no middle ground in how one responds to the question “Do you believe in a god?” Either yes – therefore making you a theist, or anything else that you may respond with (!) – therefore making you an atheist.

      • Much like in republicans vs democrats, yankees vs redsocks, socialism vs libertarian etc. theres always a 3rd path (and a 4th and a 5th and so on….):

        to answer your question here, a 3rd answer would be agnosticism. (or you can pick ignosticism, or maybe if you’re really odd, a gnostic view) they all have different views of your term “god”. You say do you believe in “God” you mean “do you believe in the christian definition of God” and no, the answer “no” to this question does NOT mean atheism

      • I hail eris goddess of discord. Is that enough of a middle ground for you?

      • Because strawmen atheists are incapable of making or understanding nuanced arguments. Is that what you’re saying?

      • Tuna Ghost | Sep 17, 2011 at 5:49 am |

        What?  What about agnosticism?  It’s different from atheism.  That’s why there’s a word for it.  

  6. Anonymous | Sep 16, 2011 at 12:45 am |

    You mean like regurgitating that old crap line about atheism being just another faith? Atheism is about science & logic & verifiable evidence. Faith is no part of the mix.

  7. Anonymous | Sep 16, 2011 at 12:46 am |

    @ Malk
    You mean like regurgitating that old crap line about atheism being just another faith? Atheism is about science & logic & verifiable evidence. Faith is no part of the mix.

  8. @ Malk
    You mean like regurgitating that old crap line about atheism being just another faith? Atheism is about science & logic & verifiable evidence. Faith is no part of the mix.

  9. I still stand by my comment of the “bad atheist” as being defined as simple minded “anti-chistian”. Those unfortunately too focused on fighting specifically the christian mythos, that they miss the real picture.

  10. Fuck religion and fuck atheism.

    Praise Bob!

  11. Fuck religion and fuck atheism.

    Praise Bob!

  12. When it come to atheism, there’s is no middle ground in how one responds to the question “Do you believe in a god?” Either yes – therefore making you a theist, or anything else that you may respond with (!) – therefore making you an atheist.

  13. Much like in republicans vs democrats, yankees vs redsocks, socialism vs libertarian etc. theres always a 3rd path (and a 4th and a 5th and so on….):

    to answer your question here, a 3rd answer would be agnosticism. (or you can pick ignosticism, or maybe if you’re really odd, a gnostic view) they all have different views of your term “god”. You say do you believe in “God” you mean “do you believe in the christian definition of God” and no, the answer no to this question does NOT mean atheism

  14. The tao that can be told
    is not the eternal Tao
    The name that can be named
    is not the eternal Name.

    The unnamable is the eternally real.
    Naming is the origin
    of all particular things.

    Free from desire, you realize the mystery.
    Caught in desire, you see only the manifestations.

    Yet mystery and manifestations
    arise from the same source.
    This source is called darkness.

    Darkness within darkness.
    The gateway to all understanding.
    Tao Te Ching #1

  15. BuzzCoastin | Sep 15, 2011 at 10:04 pm |

    The tao that can be told
    is not the eternal Tao
    The name that can be named
    is not the eternal Name.

    The unnamable is the eternally real.
    Naming is the origin
    of all particular things.

    Free from desire, you realize the mystery.
    Caught in desire, you see only the manifestations.

    Yet mystery and manifestations
    arise from the same source.
    This source is called darkness.

    Darkness within darkness.
    The gateway to all understanding.
    Tao Te Ching #1

  16. Faith is still there its just far removed from your mind. you have faith when you hear someone or read something say “scientists say….” that it is somewhat closer to fact, than when the equivalent “my pastor said….”. Unless you read the scientific papers yourself and evaluate their quality yourself, you are taking it on faith. Now that’s not such a big thing but there are plenty of atheists that have zero, none, zilch training in scientific writing or procedure, and would never know how to evaluate a scientific paper. They are in fact left to faith that the scientists are doing their job, and doing it correctly.

    Given, I trust more scientists than I do pastors, but I neither doubt the concept of a corrupt scientist nor a pure pastor.

    You have to remove your mind from the concept of “god does not exist” because only idiots and children believe in the strawman picture that atheists have for god, and because they do not expand their mind, they are much like these idiots and children in such a way that even if you are atheistic you don’t think about the inner workings of those which you cannot fully comprehend. And i’m not talking of spirituality or gods at this point, I’m talking of forces beyond your personal perception that DO exist, such as maybe the intent of the generation that is 40 years older than you, or if they don’t exist, the intent of the generation that is 40 years younger than you. Or maybe the new modern gods like Television, and the Internet. While they don’t literally exist(in your strawman-coneptualization), the producers and consumers of the technology do exist, and thus it is a force to be reckoned with.

    While your strawman god might not exist, these collective forces do exist, and you will be baffled by them once you realize that you cannot fathom understanding of them.

  17. Anonymous | Sep 16, 2011 at 6:41 am |

    I don’t rely on faith. I rely on the knowledge that if something is published in a scientific paper, that I can go and reproduce the results myself, because science describes things in the world and tries to find facts. If a priest tells me some load of crap about his god, there is nothing I can do to verify what he says. Faith ignores fact.

    I’m amused that you gripe about atheist’s strawman in the same sentence you present an absurd strawman atheist. I, and many other atheists are aware of emergent forces and meta-patterns and give them alot of consideration, but they are not gods, and they are not beyond comprehension. If you are going to talk about god and atheists, you need to use the actual meanings of those words, or you’re spouting gibberish. Please do keep up.

  18. There is sadly quite a lot of faith in the new atheist movement. They will often stick to known illogic and falsehoods, such as arguing Jesus didn’t exist (against the view of all relevant historians) or say “you can’t prove a negative” (when even first year philosophy students could show this to be wrong).
    Why are there these platitudes? The new atheist movement isn’t stupid. Dawkins could probably work out why his boeing 747 gambit argument carries absolutely no water, if he thought about it for a second. But he doesn’t. That’s when the faith aspect comes in, with so many new atheists happy to defend dreadful arguments so long as they support the position that belief in a god is unfounded.

  19. god i hate how the word theory has been used to destroy, the most proven fact available. Theory is not hypothesis.

  20. I hail eris goddess of discord. Is that enough of a middle ground for you?

  21. Gibberish is one of my best talents. I’ll admit that given you read Disinfo, you’re probably a little more aware(IE there are many unaware atheists), but you still missed my points. The first is the more simple one, where faith is simply the complete trust in something. You don’t have to believe in a god to have faith, you can have faith in people or concepts. Concepts like… mathematics… physics… chemistry… etc. The atheistic faith is simply this concept: the materialistic (scientifically detectable) reality, is the penultimate reality, and nothing is beyond it. This includes all reality that will ever be detectable by reproducible scientific inquiry throughout time.

    The misstep I feel the uneducated atheists fall under are forgetting the second part, that there are aspects of reality that are not detectable now, but will be in the future. Atheists before electricity and the electromatic spectrum were understood had a more limited scope than atheists do today. The funny thing is that at this point the “materialistic” reality involves things that are in no way materialistic (in the sense of being made of matter), however they are real now because they are scientifically detectable. Bahh more gibberish, my point here is that there are most likely than not aspects of reality that cannot (but will eventually) be detected through scientific mechanisms and material reality will continue to be adapted to discoveries. Atheists will however deny these aspects (even though they do (most likely) exist) until they are finally discovered, because they have faith that their current definition of a materialistic world is correct. Enough gibberish for ya?

    The second point I won’t belabor, it will never make sense as long as you keep to your own personal viewpoint and are willing to look through other people’s eyes (don’t try to look through mine though, you might go mad).

  22. I respect the visions and prohecy of J.R. “Bob” Dobbs, but I bow to a higher order of Bob, namely Robert Anton “Bob” Wilson.

    FNORD!

  23. Monkey See Monkey Do | Sep 16, 2011 at 10:33 am |

    Well said, but its an uphill battle trying to explain these things to ‘bad atheists’. No harm in trying i guess.

  24. Vigilantius | Sep 16, 2011 at 12:50 pm |

    Well, this is just silly.  The spread of Christianity thoughout not only Europe but all over the world clearly shows that people will adapt to a new religion if they’re persuaded to (or forced to).  And no…Christianity is a Greek religion that got clout by claiming to be a new revelation from the Hebrew religion to both give it a good resume and at the same time demonize (literally) the Hebrews for rejecting it.

    And does no one read Joseph Campbell anymore? 

    It is true that your local, geographic, cultural circumstances have an effect on the names of your gods and what they represent, etc. but even back to Herodotus, we see that someone from Greece could travel to Egypt, Persia, etc and see that yeah, they worship the same gods, they just have different names and different roles.  When Rome conquered the British Isles, Julius Caeser saw certain of their gods and saw their relationship to the Roman deities.  Lugh = Mercury?   No no no…saying that religion is only social conditioning is just a side-effect of the Christianity/Islam problem.

    This problem is that these two political systems dressed in religous clothing have nothing to do about spiritual maturation, but about galvanizing particular ethnic groups into political forces, using people’s fundamental need for religion (The Science of the Intangible) to exploit folks also fundamental need to belong.  So Xianity and Islam are religions by the book (but which can be wildly interpreted) by are also about moral and ethical laws, which religion has nothing to do with.  What is ethical and moral is something based on cultural standards.  While a community says, it’s wrong to kill, steal, lie, cheat, etc…as we clearly see from Xianity, bombing hundreds of thousands of those heathen brown people makes them feel good about themselves, as the recent “celebration” of 9/11 by Xians shows.  These folks are taught on Sunday to Love Thy Neighbor (Or Else) and yet many Xians in Uhmurkah today are okay with letting the poor and sick die, or force them to take a drug test to get Welfare, or depriving someone of their civil rights or just killing them for being different.

    Atheism has seen Xianity and Islam for what they are, political systems that make no religious sense upon examination of the texts and the adherents and then, because they are just as spiritually incompetent as most of the Western World, then “logically” proceed to throw the baby Jesus out with the bathwater.  This is the legacy of Western thinking that something is on or off, white or black, right or wrong, etc instead of maybe it is or maybe it isn’t.

    Atheism falls apart when it looks at itself rather than try to discredit religious adherents.  An ideology that is concerned about showing how THEY are deluded, misguided, etc is just silly.  However, atheism doesn’t consider this:

    What is consciousness?  If the mind is simply a product of brain chemistry, of our nervous system, then it is just a biological byproduct and the mind is of no more importance than mold growing on a piece of bread.  We have just been tricked into thinking that we think.  In such a climate, nothing matters at all.  And if I steal, kill, lie, there is no consequence, because nothing means anything.  No, the conclusion must be that consciousness is not something that we create, but something we receive and transmit.  Otherwise, all that we experience, all we perceive is nothing really at all…and modern science has shown that yes…physical matter is made of empty space and we may all be just living in a hardlight hologram that is being generated by something (or someone) else. 

    What are gods?  I dunno.  But saying that people for tens of thousands of years have just been suckers and been misguided and confused and that OH NOW we have it all figured out is not only pure arrogance, it’s not being smart.  Atheists cannot suspend their disbelief unless they prove something using our imperfect sense and our imperfect perceptions.  We are not the gold standard, we aren’t the smartest kids in the room. 

    You cannot see the mind, atheists can’t accept what they can’t see…therefore are atheists mindless? 

    Fiat lux

  25. Vigilantius | Sep 16, 2011 at 8:50 am |

    Well, this is just silly.  The spread of Christianity thoughout not only Europe but all over the world clearly shows that people will adapt to a new religion if they’re persuaded to (or forced to).  And no…Christianity is a Greek religion that got clout by claiming to be a new revelation from the Hebrew religion to both give it a good resume and at the same time demonize (literally) the Hebrews for rejecting it.

    And does no one read Joseph Campbell anymore? 

    It is true that your local, geographic, cultural circumstances have an effect on the names of your gods and what they represent, etc. but even back to Herodotus, we see that someone from Greece could travel to Egypt, Persia, etc and see that yeah, they worship the same gods, they just have different names and different roles.  When Rome conquered the British Isles, Julius Caeser saw certain of their gods and saw their relationship to the Roman deities.  Lugh = Mercury?   No no no…saying that religion is only social conditioning is just a side-effect of the Christianity/Islam problem.

    This problem is that these two political systems dressed in religous clothing have nothing to do about spiritual maturation, but about galvanizing particular ethnic groups into political forces, using people’s fundamental need for religion (The Science of the Intangible) to exploit folks also fundamental need to belong.  So Xianity and Islam are religions by the book (but which can be wildly interpreted) by are also about moral and ethical laws, which religion has nothing to do with.  What is ethical and moral is something based on cultural standards.  While a community says, it’s wrong to kill, steal, lie, cheat, etc…as we clearly see from Xianity, bombing hundreds of thousands of those heathen brown people makes them feel good about themselves, as the recent “celebration” of 9/11 by Xians shows.  These folks are taught on Sunday to Love Thy Neighbor (Or Else) and yet many Xians in Uhmurkah today are okay with letting the poor and sick die, or force them to take a drug test to get Welfare, or depriving someone of their civil rights or just killing them for being different.

    Atheism has seen Xianity and Islam for what they are, political systems that make no religious sense upon examination of the texts and the adherents and then, because they are just as spiritually incompetent as most of the Western World, then “logically” proceed to throw the baby Jesus out with the bathwater.  This is the legacy of Western thinking that something is on or off, white or black, right or wrong, etc instead of maybe it is or maybe it isn’t.

    Atheism falls apart when it looks at itself rather than try to discredit religious adherents.  An ideology that is concerned about showing how THEY are deluded, misguided, etc is just silly.  However, atheism doesn’t consider this:

    What is consciousness?  If the mind is simply a product of brain chemistry, of our nervous system, then it is just a biological byproduct and the mind is of no more importance than mold growing on a piece of bread.  We have just been tricked into thinking that we think.  In such a climate, nothing matters at all.  And if I steal, kill, lie, there is no consequence, because nothing means anything.  No, the conclusion must be that consciousness is not something that we create, but something we receive and transmit.  Otherwise, all that we experience, all we perceive is nothing really at all…and modern science has shown that yes…physical matter is made of empty space and we may all be just living in a hardlight hologram that is being generated by something (or someone) else. 

    What are gods?  I dunno.  But saying that people for tens of thousands of years have just been suckers and been misguided and confused and that OH NOW we have it all figured out is not only pure arrogance, it’s not being smart.  Atheists cannot suspend their disbelief unless they prove something using our imperfect sense and our imperfect perceptions.  We are not the gold standard, we aren’t the smartest kids in the room. 

    You cannot see the mind, atheists can’t accept what they can’t see…therefore are atheists mindless? 

    Fiat lux

    • Tuna Ghost | Sep 16, 2011 at 2:42 pm |

      And no…Christianity is a Greek religion that got clout by claiming to be a new revelation from the Hebrew religion to both give it a good resume and at the same time demonize (literally) the Hebrews for rejecting it.

      Isn’t “Roman” a more accurate description?  I mean, Paul was Roman wasn’t he?  He’s the biggest influence on the Church, from what I can tell.  Bigger than Jesus probably.

    • bobbiethejean | Oct 9, 2011 at 2:51 pm |

      First off, atheists are categorically higher IQ and more educated than believers. We’re even more knowledgeable in matters of religion and spirituality. To call us mindless, even in jest, is ignorant and petty. Secondly, atheism is not a belief system or a religion, it is ONLY the absence of belief in gods. Lastly, the burden of proof is on the people making the positive claim. If you claim there is a god, prove it. Oh, right, you can’t. So you’re basically getting all defensive and uppity over unproven nonsense.

  26. DeepCough | Sep 16, 2011 at 2:30 pm |

    *sigh* Everyone’s a prophet these days.

  27. DeepCough | Sep 16, 2011 at 10:30 am |

    *sigh* Everyone’s a prophet these days.

  28. Anonymous | Sep 16, 2011 at 2:42 pm |

    What historians have proof that Jesus was a real historical figure? I have heard none, and I know of no “relevant” historians who have presented any such proof.

  29. Why do these arguments always remind me of Douglas Adams?
    “Where God Went Wrong”, “Some More of God’s Greatest Mistakes”, “Who is this God Person Anyway? and “Well, That About Wraps It Up For God”.
    I’m expecting someone to discover the Babel Fish any minute now.

  30. Why do these articles always remind me of Douglas Adams?
    “Where God Went Wrong”, “Some More of God’s Greatest Mistakes”, “Who is this God Person Anyway? and “Well, That About Wraps It Up For God”.
    I’m expecting someone to discover the Babel Fish any minute now.

  31. Why do these arguments always remind me of Douglas Adams?
    “Where God Went Wrong”, “Some More of God’s Greatest Mistakes”, “Who is this God Person Anyway? and “Well, That About Wraps It Up For God”.
    I’m expecting someone to discover the Babel Fish any minute now.

  32. Why do these articles always remind me of Douglas Adams?
    “Where God Went Wrong”, “Some More of God’s Greatest Mistakes”, “Who is this God Person Anyway? and “Well, That About Wraps It Up For God”.
    I’m expecting someone to discover the Babel Fish any minute now.

  33. emperorreagan | Sep 16, 2011 at 3:02 pm |

    Depending on the definition of god, my answer might be yes, no, or maybe depending on where my philosophical wanderings have taken me in a given time period.

    I’m currently partial to the idea of pandeism.

  34. oooh I like that one

  35. Micho_rizo | Sep 16, 2011 at 3:35 pm |

    Yes, you do rely on faith. You rely on the faith that the materialist/reductionist model can tell us specific capital-T “Truths” about existence. In fact, it can only tell us certain things about reality, and it can never tell us how to interpret the things it does tell us (I don’t see how evolution is an argument against a “cosmic force” that is responsible for everything we see. To me it seems just as much an argument for than against). Also, it can only tell us certain things based on scale. The things we think we know–the things the materialist/reductionist model tell us are “fact”– break down at subatomic levels (quantum mechanics) and at extremely large, galactic levels (relativity).

    Furthermore, based on the reductionist model, everything is reduced to the big bang. The cause of all causes. However, if we depend on the reductionist model, we HAVE TO ask, “What caused the big bang?” One of two things happen, either we say, “Nothing caused the big bang,” which, because it is outside the realm of causation, is a metaphysical statement and thereby beyond the scope of reductionism (reductio ad absurdum) or we say that it did have a cause, but then we have to ask what was the cause of the cause–and the cause of the cause of the cause–and the cause of the cause of the cause of the cause, leading to an infinite number of causes. (reductio ad infinitum). Either answer must be rejected by the very tenets of the materialist/reductionist argument. 

    Look, I’m an agnostic through and through. I don’t care that I’m perceived as not having the balls to take a side in the argument, because both sides are stupid. We don’t know. We probably will never know. Accept that shit and move on with your lives and live the best life you can. Both sides cling to their theories like whiny little bitches, and I get sick of the condescending atheists acting like they’re so fucking smart when they can’t even see the holes in their own arguments. Yes, it’s easy to pick on Abrahamic religions, because if there is a God, he almost certainly isn’t some big, old white dude with a grey beard sitting on a cloud somewhere. This is the most obvious fucking thing in the world and if people want to believe otherwise, you’re not going to convince them because there’s a reason they believe something so fucking stupid. However, that is also a pretty narrow definition for “God” and I’m open to an idea that there is some sort of creative force behind the Universe. In fact, in a lot of ways, it’s pretty obvious. Now whether this force is conscious or not is another story. Whether its a “God” or not is another story.

  36. “Theres a reason that Belief System is abbreviated ‘BS'”

  37. “Theres a reason that Belief System is abbreviated ‘BS'”

  38. Micho_rizo | Sep 16, 2011 at 4:58 pm |

    There isn’t “proof” per se. There’s just some pretty decent evidence that he did.

  39. Anonymous | Sep 16, 2011 at 5:50 pm |

    We can’t see the mind, but we can deduce it’s existence from the effects it has on the world. Atheists don’t claim to know everything, but science & rational thought are a much better route to understanding than relying on “goddidit.”
    Again, you misrepresent atheism. Really, we’ve heard these arguments before. Consciousness is an emergent property of our physical brains & the electro-chemical processes therein. This doesn’t make it of “no more importance than the mold growing on bread.” It’s tremendously important, since it’s what makes us US. The claim that there is no consequence for lying, cheating, stealing, killing is one of the things that horrifies atheists about religionists. There are plenty of rational reasons for not doing so. For someone to claim that without their god’s threat of eternal punishment if they do these things, they’d be unrestrained, this is the confession of a psychopath.

  40. Anonymous | Sep 16, 2011 at 5:50 pm |

    Oh really? Citations please. I’m not ignorant on the subject, and I’ve read nothing that would indicate there’s any credible evidence for his existence, and a conspicuous lack of evidence where we would expect there to be any.

  41. We can’t see the mind, but we can deduce it’s existence from the effects it has on the world. Atheists don’t claim to know everything, but science & rational thought are a much better route to understanding than relying on “goddidit.”
    Again, you misrepresent atheism. Really, we’ve heard these arguments before. Consciousness is an emergent property of our physical brains & the electro-chemical processes therein. This doesn’t make it of “no more importance than the mold growing on bread.” It’s tremendously important, since it’s what makes us US. The claim that there is no consequence for lying, cheating, stealing, killing is one of the things that horrifies atheists about religionists. There are plenty of rational reasons for not doing so. For someone to claim that without their god’s threat of eternal punishment if they do these things, they’d be unrestrained, this is the confession of a psychopath.

    That was supposed to be in response to a post by Vigilantius below

    • Tuna Ghost | Sep 16, 2011 at 2:48 pm |

      We can’t see the mind, but we can deduce it’s existence from the effects it has on the world.

      I’m not sure what you’re saying here, or if it makes any sense.  What effect do you see the mind having on the world?  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not arguing for the non-existence of the mind, but for instance Descartes thought the mind was something that didn’t need to be “deduced” because it was the one thing that could not be doubted.  Everything else could conceivably be an illusion, but you can’t doubt that you’re thinking because you’re using your mind to doubt stuff to begin with.  

    • The reality of it all is (from the atheistic perspective) that human consciousness really does not have any more importance than mold growing on bread, EXCEPT to us. We define ourselves as important utilizing consciousness and free will. We do this in the same manner that a squirrel thinks itself important enough to feed and breed.

      I’m not saying this is a bad thing or anything, but atheism really allows someone to have the freedom to define what it is that is important to them. In all honesty that probably scares theists because there’s no such thing as a generalization of an atheists views. They are “just human” and they accept that. It’s similar reasoning behind totalitarian states not wanting people to be aware of their own free will and agency. All I was trying to get at with the whole “faith” thing is to get you to accept that while you as an atheist, choose to attach yourself to provable truths, not all atheists do(using their power of choice). At the same time, there are people who believe in a spiritual side of reality without attaching themselves to a particular religion(or even a particular god, making it more like atheism than not), when lets face it, I get the sense you find much more harm in the concept of religion than you do with the concepts of spirituality (of course I could be wrong)

  42. Anonymous | Sep 16, 2011 at 5:52 pm |

    Because strawmen atheists are incapable of making or understanding nuanced arguments. Is that what you’re saying?

  43. If light can be both a particle and a wave at the same time depending on how you measure it, then why can’t a supreme being both exist and not exist at the same time? Sure it sounds weird, but it is no less weird than Schrodinger’s Cat, being neither alive nor dead until you observe it to be so.

  44. If light can be both a particle and a wave at the same time depending on how you measure it, then why can’t a supreme being both exist and not exist at the same time? Sure it sounds weird, but it is no less weird than Schrodinger’s Cat, being neither alive nor dead until you observe it to be so.

    • Tuna Ghost | Sep 16, 2011 at 2:44 pm |

      Schrodinger’s Cat is used to show the absurdity of the Copenhagan interpretation (consciousness collapsing the wave function) on macro levels.  I’m not sure it supports your theory the way you think it does.  

      • Maybe it does maybe it doesn’t.    

        Stick to your gay ass skinny jeans and shut the fuck up until your talking about something you know about.

        • Tuna Ghost | Sep 17, 2011 at 1:06 am |

          What’s the matter, kid?  Hipster steal your girlfriend? 

          Maybe it does maybe it doesn’t.

          Here’s a clue: it doesn’t.  Why not let the grown-ups talk for a bit, honey?

  45. Tuna Ghost | Sep 16, 2011 at 6:15 pm |

    Yes, you do rely on faith. You rely on the faith that the materialist/reductionist model can tell us specific capital-T “Truths” about existence. 

    That’s a big assumption.  I think many atheists would object to that on the grounds that they don’t give a flying fuck about capital-T “Truths” about existence.  I personally am very interested in religion, the occult, metaphysics, and things of that nature.  So much so that I pursued a degree that is essentially worthless because it involves the search for answers (or at least really juicy questions) to these questions.  The way people characterize their relationship with the infinite has always fascinated me.  

    But there are people, many people, for whom those questions simply are not important.  They are not relying on faith that materialism will give them “Truth” about existence.  They don’t care about the “Truth” behind existence, or any of the big questions.  That is their right.  It’s an acceptable lifestyle.  They also have the right to not be bothered by those of us that are concerned with the big questions, and it’s a mistake to assume that everyone is searching for eternal truths or answers to big questions or any kind of connection to the infinite.  

  46. emperorreagan | Sep 16, 2011 at 6:29 pm |

    I think it might be a fair charge to level at people who choose to engage themselves in these arguments, though.  

    I don’t think the probably majority of people that are relatively indifferent to religion, attend church out of social obligation rather than religious conviction, loosely use labels like agnostic, atheist, spiritual but not religious, or a host of others really engage themselves in the debate.  

  47. emperorreagan | Sep 16, 2011 at 6:29 pm |

    I think it might be a fair charge to level at people who choose to engage themselves in these arguments, though.  

    I don’t think the probably majority of people that are relatively indifferent to religion, attend church out of social obligation rather than religious conviction, loosely use labels like agnostic, atheist, spiritual but not religious, or a host of others really engage themselves in the debate.  

  48. Tuna Ghost | Sep 16, 2011 at 6:37 pm |

    Well if you exclude all Christian resources on the grounds that they have a vested interest in proving his existence (which they do) or that some of it has been subject to forgery (which it has) and is therefore inadmissable as evidence, then you’re left with not much at all.  I’m not sure why you claim there is a conspicuous lack of evidence where one would expect it, so feel free to elaborate on that.  It’s a subject I’m interested in.  Also bear in mind that if you exclude all the Athenian resources, you’re not left with much that proves Socrates ever existed either.  

    But there is still some evidence that points to the antiquity of some of the gospels, notably Mark, or at least whatever source Mark was based on.  Some of the creeds mentioned in the synoptic gospels are also mentioned in other more reliable sources and indicate a certain antiquity.  Consider, also, that there were gnostic groups before Christ came around (allegedly) and suddenly there were Christian gnostic sects around the time he (allegedly) died, which is not proof per se but is certainly worth investigating.  There’s a lot more evidence for the existence of Christians toward the end of the first century AD than there is of Jesus, which doesn’t mean there was a Jesus at all but it does sort of point in that direction.  I worship Hermes Trismegistus, who is said to have walked around on earth, but if the cult that claims this was around while he was allegedly living and breathing there’s no evidence for it.  There’s a gap, but the gap for Christians is much much smaller.  It could even be less than a generation.  

    The question, for me, becomes “which Jesus?”.  It’s not hard to imagine a Jewish teacher living and teaching a radical new doctrine in the area, a man who was called the Messiah by a group of his followers, and was eventually put to death for sedition against Rome.  That sort of thing was not at all uncommon for the time.  But if you mean the Jesus that was born of a virgin, that raised Lazarus from the dead, that was resurrected on the third day, etc., well that is a different case.  The early Christians certainly didn’t agree on all of that either; some groups denied that Christ was truly the son of God, some didn’t believe in a literal interpretation of the resurrection, some denied that he had an earthly form, and some thought he was a ghostly specter of a fish that was always smoking cheap cigarettes and occasionally did heroin (I made one of those up, can you guess which one?).  But, and I know this is an appeal to authority, most of the historical scholars I’ve discussed this with have no reservations about believing that a man lived around the time Jesus was said to have lived, taught and possibly healed people in the area he is said to have hung around, was called the Messiah by some guys, and was eventually executed for sedition against Rome.  Like I said, it’s not a crazy story or anything.  Pretty common, really.

  49. Tuna Ghost | Sep 16, 2011 at 6:42 pm |

    And no…Christianity is a Greek religion that got clout by claiming to be a new revelation from the Hebrew religion to both give it a good resume and at the same time demonize (literally) the Hebrews for rejecting it.

    Isn’t “Roman” a more accurate description?  I mean, Paul was Roman wasn’t he?  He’s the biggest influence on the Church, from what I can tell.  Bigger than Jesus probably.

  50. Tuna Ghost | Sep 16, 2011 at 6:44 pm |

    Schrodinger’s Cat is used to show the absurdity of the Copenhagan interpretation (consciousness collapsing the wave function) on macro levels.  I’m not sure it supports your theory the way you think it does.  

  51. atheism is better then the old religions, in the old religions it is you either with us or we’ll burn you, atheism is either you’re with us or we’ll humiliate you

  52. atheism is better then the old religions, in the old religions it is you either with us or we’ll burn you, atheism is either you’re with us or we’ll humiliate you

  53. Tuna Ghost | Sep 16, 2011 at 6:48 pm |

    We can’t see the mind, but we can deduce it’s existence from the effects it has on the world.

    I’m not sure what you’re saying here, or if it makes any sense.  What effect do you see the mind having on the world?  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not arguing for the non-existence of the mind, but for instance Descartes thought the mind was something that didn’t need to be “deduced” because it was the one thing that could not be doubted.  Everything else could conceivably be an illusion, but you can’t doubt that you’re thinking because you’re using your mind to doubt stuff to begin with.  

  54. Tuna Ghost | Sep 16, 2011 at 6:58 pm |

    I think it might be a fair charge to level at people who choose to engage themselves in these arguments, though.

    Why?  Where have you seen atheists arguing or even assuming that science will give us answers to metaphysical questions, or to “big” questions, e.g. why are we here, what’s our purpose, what was going on before the big bang, why is there something rather than nothing at all?  Disinfo doesn’t always have the brightest bulbs commenting, but I haven’t seen that yet to my knowledge.   

    I don’t think the probably majority of people that are relatively indifferent to religion,…  ….really engage themselves in the debate.

    I’m fairly certain you’re incorrect.  According to the loudest atheists I know, their main beef is that religion and religious people are continually asserting themselves and their doctrines into atheists’ lives via politics or what-have-you.  Infringing on their rights and all that.  It’s not a religious or spiritual or metaphysical issue to them, it’s more of a “I’m tired of putting up with these people and their influence on my life” issue.  

  55. Tuna Ghost | Sep 16, 2011 at 7:02 pm |

    P.S.  Regarding my second point, it’s also possible that some atheists are just assholes whose ideas are threatened by religious people and take every opportunity to call them stupid, delusional, etc.  Again, not a metaphysical issue, just a “some people is jerks” issue.  

  56. Maybe it does maybe it doesn’t.    

    Stick to your gay ass skinny jeans and shut the fuck up until your talking about something you know about.

  57. emperorreagan | Sep 16, 2011 at 7:37 pm |

    I read the current atheist argument a little differently in general, I suppose.  I see it as asserting three big fundamental truths about human existence – there are no deities, the practice of religion is bad for society, and the very idea of metaphysics is meaningless.

    I think the people who are genuinely disinterested in defining absolutes are relatively silent in the debate.

    I’ll buy the P.S., though.  A good portion of the vitriol on both sides in the debate could be attributable to “some people is jerks” and feeling threatened by opposing views.

  58. emperorreagan | Sep 16, 2011 at 7:37 pm |

    I read the current atheist argument a little differently in general, I suppose.  I see it as asserting three big fundamental truths about human existence – there are no deities, the practice of religion is bad for society, and the very idea of metaphysics is meaningless.

    I think the people who are genuinely disinterested in defining absolutes are relatively silent in the debate.

    I’ll buy the P.S., though.  A good portion of the vitriol on both sides in the debate could be attributable to “some people is jerks” and feeling threatened by opposing views.

  59. MileHigh420 | Sep 16, 2011 at 8:34 pm |

    I remember George Noory on talking on Coast to Coast AM about the liklihood of there being a real metaphysical component to the world. He said some to the effect of most paranormal/supernatural/metaphysical phenomenon and experiences can be explained scientifically. If 99.9% of these are explained through materialistic science, then that still leaves 0.1% still explained. If any of the 0.1% has any component not accepted by materialistism, then ALL the rules change. If out of all the people who have seen ghost, even if most of them were delusional, if a single person in the history of the world has seen a real ghost, then we have to take into consideration the possiblity of unseen forces in all of our reasoning, because we must admit out lack of knowledge of all the variables.

  60. MileHigh420 | Sep 16, 2011 at 4:34 pm |

    I remember George Noory on talking on Coast to Coast AM about the liklihood of there being a real metaphysical component to the world. He said some to the effect of most paranormal/supernatural/metaphysical phenomenon and experiences can be explained scientifically. If 99.9% of these are explained through materialistic science, then that still leaves 0.1% still explained. If any of the 0.1% has any component not accepted by materialistism, then ALL the rules change. If out of all the people who have seen ghost, even if most of them were delusional, if a single person in the history of the world has seen a real ghost, then we have to take into consideration the possiblity of unseen forces in all of our reasoning, because we must admit out lack of knowledge of all the variables.

  61. The reality of it all is (from the atheistic perspective) that human consciousness really does not have any more importance than mold growing on bread, EXCEPT to us. We define ourselves as important utilizing consciousness and free will. We do this in the same manner that a squirrel thinks itself important enough to feed and breed.

    I’m not saying this is a bad thing or anything, but atheism really allows someone to have the freedom to define what it is that is important to them. In all honesty that probably scares theists because there’s no such thing as a generalization of an atheists views. They are “just human” and they accept that. It’s similar reasoning behind totalitarian states not wanting people to be aware of their own free will and agency. All I was trying to get at with the whole “faith” thing is to get you to accept that while you as an atheist, choose to attach yourself to provable truths, not all atheists do(using their power of choice). At the same time, there are people who believe in a spiritual side of reality without attaching themselves to a particular religion(or even a particular god, making it more like atheism than not), when lets face it, I get the sense you find much more harm in the concept of religion than you do with the concepts of spirituality (of course I could be wrong)

  62. The reality of it all is (from the atheistic perspective) that human consciousness really does not have any more importance than mold growing on bread, EXCEPT to us. We define ourselves as important utilizing consciousness and free will. We do this in the same manner that a squirrel thinks itself important enough to feed and breed.

    I’m not saying this is a bad thing or anything, but atheism really allows someone to have the freedom to define what it is that is important to them. In all honesty that probably scares theists because there’s no such thing as a generalization of an atheists views. They are “just human” and they accept that. It’s similar reasoning behind totalitarian states not wanting people to be aware of their own free will and agency. All I was trying to get at with the whole “faith” thing is to get you to accept that while you as an atheist, choose to attach yourself to provable truths, not all atheists do(using their power of choice). At the same time, there are people who believe in a spiritual side of reality without attaching themselves to a particular religion(or even a particular god, making it more like atheism than not), when lets face it, I get the sense you find much more harm in the concept of religion than you do with the concepts of spirituality (of course I could be wrong)

  63. Lets make this simple.
    The world is not made solely of senseless particles and waves because then I and my consciousness wouldn’t exist.  Even if we can’t be a 100% sure that what we see and what we think “is what it is”, we do know that we are seeing and thinking. On the other hand it is most unprobable that the christian GOD is out there watching us. So what should we believe in ?
    Most beliefs are very conceptual and rethorical things, like a construction with no real foundations other than words and abstract ideas, like a building built on itself. So don’t be restricted by any beliefs; don’t keep your thoughts inside a certain frame -weither it is science or religion- try to “feel” the truth. For example, I’m ready to accept that everything I just said is just complete brain masturbation.   

  64. Lets make this simple.
    The world is not made solely of senseless particles and waves because then I and my consciousness wouldn’t exist.  Even if we can’t be a 100% sure that what we see and what we think “is what it is”, we do know that we are seeing and thinking. On the other hand it is most unprobable that the christian GOD is out there watching us. So what should we believe in ?
    Most beliefs are very conceptual and rethorical things, like a construction with no real foundations other than words and abstract ideas, like a building built on itself. So don’t be restricted by any beliefs; don’t keep your thoughts inside a certain frame -weither it is science or religion- try to “feel” the truth. For example, I’m ready to accept that everything I just said is just complete brain masturbation.   

  65. CosmicInterface | Sep 16, 2011 at 10:20 pm |

    If the Truth turns out that this universe is an illusion, then science is only studying an illusion, and as such, everything it thinks it knows is wrong. Figuring out how illusions work doesn’t lead to truth, interesting electronics, maybe. I have no faith in human thought. Truth is not a human thought. Truth is a recognition of what has always, and will always, be there. What do your eyes see, or your ears hear, that will last?

  66. CosmicInterface | Sep 16, 2011 at 6:20 pm |

    If the Truth turns out that this universe is an illusion, then science is only studying an illusion, and as such, everything it thinks it knows is wrong. Figuring out how illusions work doesn’t lead to truth, interesting electronics, maybe. I have no faith in human thought. Truth is not a human thought. Truth is a recognition of what has always, and will always, be there. What do your eyes see, or your ears hear, that will last?

    • Tuna Ghost | Sep 17, 2011 at 5:53 am |

      Neils Bohr, a quantum physicist and contemporary of Einstein, once wrote that physics is not a study of the way things are, but rather a study of the way things appear.  The study of the way things are, of being qua being, is called metaphysics.  

  67. Ricky Jazzercise | Sep 16, 2011 at 11:41 pm |

    Anyone else notice how science willingly admits that it has no idea what dreams are? It offers us a materialist theory about how they’re just random functions of the brain and re-living of daily events or designed for our survival at night, but then further concedes it has no idea and that this is just a theory. That’s the theory they really want to believe, but just a theory nonetheless.

    Now, as someone who’s been having lucid dreams for years now, I can say that lucid dreaming certainly shreds a hole in materialism. I find myself in a dream state. I am wide awake a fully aware that I am dreaming and can actually control myself and my surroundings with the force of my will in much the same way I can control my body in a waking state. If anyone’s seen the movie Inception, they’ll notice the concept of a totem. In that movie it was a spinning top. The reason this is significant is because when you’re in theses states, the first thing that strikes you is that it feels just as “real” as anything else. It feels so “real” that it’s impossible to believe that you’re dreaming which is why a totem is necessary. Before I was even aware of the concept of a totem, I had unwittingly created one. I personally put my hand through walls. I’ll put my hand up to a wall and it gives resistance, but after five seconds or so my hand breaks through, like I’m a ghost. I need to do that to convince myself that I’m not awake. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t honestly be able to tell the difference.

    So, our current model of conceiving of the universe tells us that our perceptions are a reflection of the material world, but if that’s so, then how is it that we can also perceive things that feel just like material objects, hear things that sound just like sounds, see things that look just like (and often far transcend) material objects, when our brains are receiving exactly zero input from the outside world? Until either religious folks or atheists acknowledge these inherent conundrums, or I see a single mention of their existence in these debates, you can pretty much concede that both positions emanate from cowardice. The positions posited are but reflections of the individuals ego and a desire for control. Granted, not very many people achieve these states of consciousness, but very few even try, because we exist in a society that tells us they are unimportant. Nothing to see here. If you don’t want to face them, this results from fear and willful ignorance to any kind of true spirituality (which in itself means matters of the spirit or immaterial). I know our culture likes to look at this stuff as stupid new age hippy shit, but I’m not a new age hippie. I tried to ignore this aspect of myself for years as a desire to fit into society. I am one of about a billion people throughout history who has been forced to deal with this which gives what I’m saying an objective credence. Why we would listen to a scientist’s opinion (other than someone with a specific expertise in transpersonal psychology)  on these matters is a mystery to me. Would you listen to a NASCAR writer’s opinion on Golf? Probably not. We’ve got to quit pretending that somehow people with one level of expertise somehow know anything about things they’ve intentionally avoided studying or experimenting with. That is a very “rational” and “scientific” position, and one that I barely ever see paid any lip service.

  68. Ricky Jazzercise | Sep 16, 2011 at 7:41 pm |

    Anyone else notice how science willingly admits that it has no idea what dreams are? It offers us a materialist theory about how they’re just random functions of the brain and re-living of daily events or designed for our survival at night, but then further concedes it has no idea and that this is just a theory. That’s the theory they really want to believe, but just a theory nonetheless.

    Now, as someone who’s been having lucid dreams for years now, I can say that lucid dreaming certainly shreds a hole in materialism. I find myself in a dream state. I am wide awake a fully aware that I am dreaming and can actually control myself and my surroundings with the force of my will in much the same way I can control my body in a waking state. If anyone’s seen the movie Inception, they’ll notice the concept of a totem. In that movie it was a spinning top. The reason this is significant is because when you’re in theses states, the first thing that strikes you is that it feels just as “real” as anything else. It feels so “real” that it’s impossible to believe that you’re dreaming which is why a totem is necessary. Before I was even aware of the concept of a totem, I had unwittingly created one. I personally put my hand through walls. I’ll put my hand up to a wall and it gives resistance, but after five seconds or so my hand breaks through, like I’m a ghost. I need to do that to convince myself that I’m not awake. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t honestly be able to tell the difference.

    So, our current model of conceiving of the universe tells us that our perceptions are a reflection of the material world, but if that’s so, then how is it that we can also perceive things that feel just like material objects, hear things that sound just like sounds, see things that look just like (and often far transcend) material objects, when our brains are receiving exactly zero input from the outside world? Until either religious folks or atheists acknowledge these inherent conundrums, or I see a single mention of their existence in these debates, you can pretty much concede that both positions emanate from cowardice. The positions posited are but reflections of the individuals ego and a desire for control. Granted, not very many people achieve these states of consciousness, but very few even try, because we exist in a society that tells us they are unimportant. Nothing to see here. If you don’t want to face them, this results from fear and willful ignorance to any kind of true spirituality (which in itself means matters of the spirit or immaterial). I know our culture likes to look at this stuff as stupid new age hippy shit, but I’m not a new age hippie. I tried to ignore this aspect of myself for years as a desire to fit into society. I am one of about a billion people throughout history who has been forced to deal with this which gives what I’m saying an objective credence. Why we would listen to a scientist’s opinion (other than someone with a specific expertise in transpersonal psychology)  on these matters is a mystery to me. Would you listen to a NASCAR writer’s opinion on Golf? Probably not. We’ve got to quit pretending that somehow people with one level of expertise somehow know anything about things they’ve intentionally avoided studying or experimenting with. That is a very “rational” and “scientific” position, and one that I barely ever see paid any lip service.

    • Are you one of the lucky(or maybe unlucky depending on your disposition) ones where lucid dreams just emerged, or did you have to train yourself for it. I always intended on learning how to do it, but I never had the persistence that is needed. I remember only once or twice a dream became lucid, but I had the problem where each time the intensity of the realization would always wake me up. 

    • Tuna Ghost | Sep 17, 2011 at 5:52 am |

      Hmm an ardent materialist could just opt for promissory materialism, as they have done in the mind/body debate for centuries.  “We don’t know at the moment, but we will, just like we’ve become able to explain all sorts of other phenomenon that people thought were unexplainable”.  It’s a strong argument, after all.  Even consciousness has a materialist explanation, and we all thought for so long that it was the last true mystery left in the universe.

      • Steele/milkapub | Sep 17, 2011 at 9:45 am |

        Even consciousness has a materialist explanation ? I’m curious to know what is this explanation.

        • Tuna Ghost | Sep 17, 2011 at 10:53 am |

          There’s a couple theories, all of which would take much more time and space than I’ve got available on a comments section.  But the best, in my opinion, can be found in Explaining Consciousness by Dan Dennett.  For a look into how things can develop self-reference naturally, read Godel, Esher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas Hofstatder.  The latter is one of my favorite books of all time, he has lovely intermissions between the chapters that are dialogues between Achilles and the Tortoise that explain the chapter in layman’s terms and broad strokes.  

          • You can never go wrong with GEB

          • JustSomeGuy | Sep 17, 2011 at 10:54 pm |

            Actually it’s Consciousness Explained by Daniel Dennett sometimes referred to facetiously as Consciousness Explained Away.  As I recall, Dennett doesn’t even attempt to explain the inner experience of conciousness (an explanation that most people would expect from the title) which he regards as an illusion.  He doesn’t explain who or what is experiencing the illusion either.

            GEB is certainly a beautiful book but for a clearer explanation of Hofstader’s theory of consciousness (which actually does attempt to explain the inner experience of consciousness) you are better off reading I Am a Strange Loop which he wrote later when he realized that few people understood what he was trying to say in GEB.  I find the explanation interesting though unconvincing but at least Hofstader, unlike Dennett, acknowledges the problem.

    • I am also a lucid dreamer. It is the ultimate gateway. All your doing is getting your Mind on Line, if you know what I mean? Check out Dream Yoga. Don’t waste your lucid dreams, use them to wake up. Remember the dreamer, then try not to laugh…

  69. Are you one of the lucky(or maybe unlucky depending on your disposition) ones where lucid dreams just emerged, or did you have to train yourself for it. I always intended on learning how to do it, but I never had the persistence that is needed. I remember only once or twice a dream became lucid, but I had the problem where each time the intensity of the realization would always wake me up. 

  70. Tuna Ghost | Sep 17, 2011 at 5:06 am |

    What’s the matter, kid?  Hipster steal your girlfriend? 

    Maybe it does maybe it doesn’t.

    Here’s a clue: it doesn’t.  Why not let the grown-ups talk for a bit, honey?

  71. what thinking isn’t brain masturbation?

  72. The new atheists are relatively young all things considered. The burning may yet come.

  73. You see, this is what I was talking about, and this is what makes atheism look dreadful, when the new atheists essentially run off faith. We have better sources for Jesus than for Pythagoras, or so many other thinkers from his time. So then why chuck out one of the best attested characters in ancient history? It becomes clear that we’re adopting a fringe position in order to argue against the existence of a god. In other words, it’s faith.

  74. Tuna Ghost | Sep 17, 2011 at 9:44 am |

    I read the current atheist argument a little differently in general, I suppose.  I see it as asserting three big fundamental truths about human existence – there are no deities, the practice of religion is bad for society, and the very idea of metaphysics is meaningless.

    My description could easily fit into the second one you mention–religion is bad for society because it inflicts cultural and religious rules on people who have no connection to the culture and don’t believe in the religion, and thus it restricts their freedom.  

    As for number three, that has been a popular opinion in philosophical circles at various times in history.  The study of metaphysics goes in and out of fashion in a fairly cyclical way.  Everyone gets tired of it because the discussion never really goes anywhere (there’s only so many times one can ask the question “is ‘green’ a thing, or are there just green things?”), so they stop talking about it for a few centuries until someone thinks of a new question and everyone gets excited again.  

    The early parts of the twentieth century were the end of one of these cycles.  The story goes that Russell and Whitehead (of Principia fame) were attending a lecture wherein the speaker had just finished proposing a system of metaphysics that concluded time does not exist, is an illusion, yada yada yada and then turned around and said “I’m afraid I can’t take any questions, I have a lunch date at two o’clock and I’m already late”.  Angry that metaphysics had gotten to the point where any theory, no matter how counter-intuitive or ridiculous, could be accepted as valid if it was logically consistent, they went ahead and wrote their Principia.  Not long after, the Verificationists became popular, a branch of empiricism that held in their Verificationists Theory of Meaning that “a statement must be able to be verified as either true or false, if not then it is meaningless”.  This was popular for a couple years until someone noticed that the Verificationist’s theory was self-defeating as it could not be verified as either true or false.  I’d like to think a trombone went “wah wah” when they mentioned it.

  75. Tuna Ghost | Sep 17, 2011 at 9:49 am |

    What?  What about agnosticism?  It’s different from atheism.  That’s why there’s a word for it.  

  76. Tuna Ghost | Sep 17, 2011 at 9:52 am |

    Hmm an ardent materialist could just opt for promissory materialism, as they have done in the mind/body debate for centuries.  “We don’t know at the moment, but we will, just like we’ve become able to explain all sorts of other phenomenon that people thought were unexplainable”.  It’s a strong argument, after all.  Even consciousness has a materialist explanation, and we all thought for so long that it was the last true mystery left in the universe.

  77. Tuna Ghost | Sep 17, 2011 at 9:53 am |

    Neils Bohr, a quantum physicist and contemporary of Einstein, once wrote that physics is not a study of the way things are, but rather a study of the way things appear.  The study of the way things are, of being qua being, is called metaphysics.  

  78. Tuna Ghost | Sep 17, 2011 at 9:56 am |

    What credible sources do you have for the existence of Jesus?  

  79. We have the four gospels and the letters of Paul. They are not especially reliable sources, as they ascribe things to Jesus which we know wouldn’t have happened, such as the miracles. That was pretty common for the time period. Our best sources for Pythagoras claim he could perform miracles. Same for Plato and others (the people of the time were prone to magical thinking). It is the job of the historian to find which bits are likely to be true and which are unlikely to be true. Absolutely every scholar that has done this and teaches this stuff has concluded that Jesus was killed by the Romans, that he probably had a band of followers, and that he probably knew John the Baptist.
    They are so far from the part about Jesus existing that the debate doesn’t even come up. To put it in perspective, there are more biologists who doubt evolution than biblical historians who doubt the existence of Jesus.

  80. Steele/milkapub | Sep 17, 2011 at 1:45 pm |

    Even consciousness has a materialist explanation ? I’m curious to know what is this explanation.

  81. Anonymous | Sep 17, 2011 at 1:46 pm |

    This is why atheists get so frustrated talking to theists. You keep making up statements like that. You claim that Jeebus is “one of the best attested characters in ancient history,” but all this statement reveals is that you have no idea what qualifies as reliable evidence. You say things like, “there are more biologists who doubt evolution than biblical historians who doubt the existence of Jesus,” and “Absolutely every scholar that has done this and teaches this stuff has concluded that Jesus was killed by the Romans.” These are made-up statements and are complete falsifications. Name names and give me a citation for these statements that conflict with all the historical data I’ve studied, and I’ll “have faith,” that you aren’t a dishonest liar.

  82. Tuna Ghost | Sep 17, 2011 at 2:41 pm |

    They are not especially reliable sources, as they ascribe things to Jesus which we know wouldn’t have happened, such as the miracles.

    That’s not the only reason they’re not reliable.  None of them were written while Jesus is alleged to have been alive, some weren’t even written in the same century.  All have been edited throughout history.  The Gospels do not count as “evidence”, unfortunately.  The writers were not historians, they were followers of a religion.  When people talk about evidence for Jesus having lived, they’re referring to Josephus, Tacitus, Pliny the Younger, etc.  No reputable historian considers the Gospels “evidence” for anything.  

    Our best sources for Pythagoras claim he could perform miracles. Same for Plato and others

    Yes for Pythagoras, no for Plato.  I studied Plato a fair bit while earning my philosophy degree, I don’t recall anything about Socrates or Plato having magic powers.  Where are you getting this?  

    Absolutely every scholar that has done this and teaches this stuff has concluded that Jesus was killed by the Romans, that he probably had a band of followers, and that he probably knew John the Baptist. They are so far from the part about Jesus existing that the debate doesn’t even come up. To put it in perspective, there are more biologists who doubt evolution than biblical historians who doubt the existence of Jesus.

    What?  That is completely untrue.  Jesus is most definitely not considered a historical fact by “absolutely every scholar”.  There has been a huge debate about the historicity of Jesus for over a hundred years in the academic field.  That can’t happen if everyone believed Jesus existed.  See Constatin-Francios Volney, Charles Francios Dupuis, and Bruno Bauer for evidence that biblical historians doubted his existence before the 1900s.  There have been dozens and dozens of book written on the subject.  This is exactly what The Jesus Project, funded by the Committee for the Scientific Examination of Religion, is about.  The fact that you’ve somehow not noticed this makes me wonder how deeply you’ve investigated the subject.  

  83. Tuna Ghost | Sep 17, 2011 at 2:46 pm |

    So then why chuck out one of the best attested characters in ancient history?

    If you’re talking about Jesus, he is far, far, far from being “one of the best attested characters in ancient history”.  

    It becomes clear that we’re adopting a fringe position in order to argue against the existence of a god. In other words, it’s faith.

    It is most certainly not a “fringe position”.  The historicity of Jesus has been debated for over a hundred years.  How have you missed this?  Have you actually looked into the subject?  You’re ignoring centuries of historical scholarship when you say it’s a “fringe position”.  

  84. Tuna Ghost | Sep 17, 2011 at 2:48 pm |

    I have to agree with Artor.  Provide names of historians (not theologians) who think Jesus is one of the best attested characters from history, or who think doubting the historicity of Jesus is a “fringe position”.  

  85. Tuna Ghost | Sep 17, 2011 at 2:53 pm |

    There’s a couple theories, all of which would take much more time and space than I’ve got available on a comments section.  But the best, in my opinion, can be found in Explaining Consciousness by Dan Dennett.  For a look into how things can develop self-reference naturally, read Godel, Esher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas Hofstatder.  The latter is one of my favorite books of all time, he has lovely intermissions between the chapters that are dialogues between Achilles and the Tortoise that explain the chapter in layman’s terms and broad strokes.  

  86. Tuna Ghost | Sep 17, 2011 at 3:04 pm |

    Micro-evolution within a single species has been proven a number of times, friend.  It has been observed and found to fit the theory of evolution perfectly.  You’re mistaking a scientific theory, for which there is ample scientific evidence and has unmatched explanatory power, for a hypothesis, which is still doubted. Scientists are not in doubt in regard to evolution.  That is a lie peddled by creationists, the same people who cry “where is the missing link between man and ape?” and are then shown Homo erectus.  Then they cry “a-ha, but what about the link between Homo erectus and ape?”, and are shown Homo Habilis.  Then they cry, “Well, where’s the link between Homo habilis and apes, Mr. Smarty-pants?”  So they are shown Australopithecus africanus, and then say, perhaps a bit more nervously, “But where’ the link between Australopithecus africanus and apes?”.  So they are shown Australopithecus anamensis.  Then they say “well, what about…”

    This continues for quite some time.  Do you see the mistake they’re making?  

  87. You can never go wrong with GEB

  88. Thelema & A:. A:. : “The method of science; the aim of religion.”

  89. Thelema & A:. A:. : “The method of science; the aim of religion.”

  90. I have missed the historicity of Jesus being debated because I only read mainstream academic journals, rather than companion books to the zeitgeist movie. Seriously, can you name a single biblical scholar from an accredited university who doubts Jesus’ existence?

  91. That would be all of them. Read Bart Ehrman’s “The New Testament: A Historical Introduction” if you’re after a quick guide to what the mainstream historical thought is.

  92. Maybe not faith, but there are some atheists who abandon skepticism for dogmatism, leading to a very “Flat Earth” atheistic world view.

  93. The fact that the gospels weren’t written when Jesus was alive is irrelevant. Most sources from ancient history are after the fact. Pythagoras we’re working from centuries after the fact. Lucretius we work from centuries after the fact. Tonnes of minor thinkers are centuries after the fact. The sources for Jesus are astonishingly recent compared to what historians usually have to work with.
    And when people talk about evidence for Jesus, they almost exclusively draw from the new testament, because it’s better sources for him than Josephus et al.

    Also you said my comment that he’s considered a fact by every scholar is untrue, but haven’t given any evidence against hat fact. You cite 3 people who doubted his existence more than 100 years ago, and then talk about The Jesus Project, which didn’t contain any relevant scholars who doubted Jesus’ existence, and was set up by the Center For Inquiry, a group dedicated to exploring fringe science claims.

    Of course, you are just responding the same way any conspiracy theorist does, accusing the mainstream of simply not investigating well enough. I’m sorry man, history isn’t going to get overthrown for a totally unecessary bit of new atheist dogma.

  94. Heh. I could just name the biblical scholar at every single accredited university, but what would be the point? If you can find just one who doubts Jesus, I’ll concede the point. They don’t exist though, because this is nothing more than new atheist dogma. It’s incredibly lazy too. Philosophers have laid out very good reasons for not believing in any god, but the new atheists cannot be bothered with that, so prefer just declaring all historians wrong to prevent having to think or participate in any genuine discussion.

  95. Anonymous | Sep 18, 2011 at 12:50 am |

    The point would be you showing that you’re actually interested in rational debate instead of trolling. Now put your concession hat on. Here’s what 5 minutes of Googling produced;
    Thomas L. Thompson
    G. A. Wells
    Robert M. Price
    Alvar Ellegård

    Talk about lazy…

  96. Anonymous | Sep 18, 2011 at 12:55 am |

    Yay!!!! Someone used a qualifier! I will happily agree with your statement. Yes, there are some atheists who hold to it as faith-like dogma. I’m not sure what you mean by a “flat earth” atheistic worldview though…

  97. JustSomeGuy | Sep 18, 2011 at 2:54 am |

    Actually it’s Consciousness Explained by Daniel Dennett sometimes referred to facetiously as Consciousness Explained Away.  As I recall, Dennett doesn’t even attempt to explain the inner experience of conciousness (an explanation that most people would expect from the title) which he regards as an illusion.  He doesn’t explain who or what is experiencing the illusion either.

    GEB is certainly a beautiful book but for a clearer explanation of Hofstader’s theory of consciousness (which actually does attempt to explain the inner experience of consciousness) you are better off reading I Am a Strange Loop which he wrote later when he realized that few people understood what he was trying to say in GEB.  I find the explanation interesting though unconvincing but at least Hofstader, unlike Dennett, acknowledges the problem.

  98. “Flat Earth?”

    Just that a non skeptic (dogmatist) view leads to a very narrow world view.

    Thanks for your reply Artor!

  99. Must admit I’ve never heard Thomas L. Thompson brought up before, but the others are all regulars brought up by those espousing the fringe position. It’s worth noting that absolutely none of those listed is even in the field of biblical scholarship (Robert M. Price) who was kicked out of academia many years ago, being unable to get a teaching job since. All the rest are just the same old story. They’re unqualified and don’t have teaching jobs, so they write a “controversial” book and make a lot of money off it.
    As I said, name just one relevant scholar at an accredited university. Or an argument why we shouldn’t use the historical method. Or be quiet, and stop referring to mainstream academia as trolls. It makes you look ridiculous, and gives atheists a bad name.

  100. Tuna Ghost | Sep 18, 2011 at 10:53 am |

    Gerard Bolland.  John M. Allegro.  Graham Stanton.  Andre Dupont-Sommer.  Thomas L. Thompson.  Joseph Hoffman.  

    These are all either biblical scholars or historians with a focus on religions of that time and that area.  All from accredited universities.  Where they taught.  

    No one is arguing that the absolute shit-pile called Zeitgeist is anything but a collection of made-up “facts” and a smattering of completely misunderstood bits from other religions.  But you’re using strange qualifiers like “relevant universities” and “relevant scholars”.  Do you see the flaw in your reasoning?  “Find me a relevant scholar that doubts Jesus’s existence.  By the way, no scholar who doubts Jesus’s existence can be considered relevant.”  

    which didn’t contain any relevant scholars who doubted Jesus’ existence

    Why aren’t they relevant?  Some of them are historians from accredited universities who had a focus in mid-east religions.  Why are you writing them off so easily?  

    I personally have no problem believing that a teacher/healer with a radical new doctrine was called the Messiah by some guys and was eventually executed for sedition against Rome.  But you’re writing off anyone who doesn’t as “irrelevant”, even though it’s a sizable majority, and then asking us to find a relevant scholar who doubts Jesus’s existence.  My own history professor doubted his existence.  Are you going to tell me that the university or the professor isn’t relevant now, because he hasn’t published anything?  But you call the writers irrelevant because they don’t teach.  The people I listed above were teachers at accredited universities and writers.  How are you going to write them off as unacceptable?

  101. Tuna Ghost | Sep 18, 2011 at 10:53 am |

    Gerard Bolland.  John M. Allegro.  Graham Stanton.  Andre Dupont-Sommer.  Thomas L. Thompson.  Joseph Hoffman.  

    These are all either biblical scholars or historians with a focus on religions of that time and that area.  All from accredited universities.  Where they taught.  

    No one is arguing that the absolute shit-pile called Zeitgeist is anything but a collection of made-up “facts” and a smattering of completely misunderstood bits from other religions.  But you’re using strange qualifiers like “relevant universities” and “relevant scholars”.  Do you see the flaw in your reasoning?  “Find me a relevant scholar that doubts Jesus’s existence.  By the way, no scholar who doubts Jesus’s existence can be considered relevant.”  

    which didn’t contain any relevant scholars who doubted Jesus’ existence

    Why aren’t they relevant?  Some of them are historians from accredited universities who had a focus in mid-east religions.  Why are you writing them off so easily?  

    I personally have no problem believing that a teacher/healer with a radical new doctrine was called the Messiah by some guys and was eventually executed for sedition against Rome.  But you’re writing off anyone who doesn’t as “irrelevant”, even though it’s a sizable majority, and then asking us to find a relevant scholar who doubts Jesus’s existence.  My own history professor doubted his existence.  Are you going to tell me that the university or the professor isn’t relevant now, because he hasn’t published anything?  But you call the writers irrelevant because they don’t teach.  The people I listed above were teachers at accredited universities and writers.  How are you going to write them off as unacceptable?

  102. Tuna Ghost | Sep 18, 2011 at 10:56 am |

    Now that I’ve provided you with a list of names, will you stop with this ridiculous “every single scholar from an accredited university” foolishness?  It’s very obviously not true, even if you’re writing them off as “irrelevant” because they doubt the existence of Christ.  They’re still historians and scholars from accredited universities, which plainly proves that you are mistaken here.

  103. Tuna Ghost | Sep 18, 2011 at 10:56 am |

    Now that I’ve provided you with a list of names, will you stop with this ridiculous “every single scholar from an accredited university” foolishness?  It’s very obviously not true, even if you’re writing them off as “irrelevant” because they doubt the existence of Christ.  They’re still historians and scholars from accredited universities, which plainly proves that you are mistaken here.

  104. It would help if anyone you mentioned was alive. I can find tonnes of creationists if I plunder the 19th century, and tonnes of global warming deniers if I plunder the 20th. What’s more is that a number on your list spoke out about your position, but obviously you’ve copied them from some site somewhere so wouldn’t know that. As an example, you included Graham Stanton. Unluckily for you, I have Stanton’s major work in front of me. Allow me to quote from it: “There is a general agreement that, with the possible exception of Paul, we know far more about Jesus of Nazareth than about any first or second century Jewish or pagan religious teacher.”
    You cannot try and bluff your way into pretending that the “Jesus didn’t exist” nonsense is acceptable in academic circles, because it isn’t. You end up giving a list of dead people, some more than a century old, and some who actually held the polar opposite opinion to you.
    Dismissed.

  105. I am also a lucid dreamer. It is the ultimate gateway. All your doing is getting your Mind on Line, if you know what I mean? Check out Dream Yoga. Don’t waste your lucid dreams, use them to wake up. Remember the dreamer, then try not to laugh…

  106. Tuna Ghost | Sep 19, 2011 at 11:42 am |

    It would help if anyone you mentioned was alive.
    a.)  Some are still alive.

    b.)  Why does it matter if they died in 30s, 50s, or 80s?  Furthermore, why are you avoiding my questions concerning your strange qualifiers and your use of tautology?

    Graham Stanton obviously recognizes that there are scholars who doubt the existence of Jesus, so once again I ask if you’ll retract your ridiculous “every single scholar”.  

  107. Tuna Ghost | Sep 19, 2011 at 11:47 am |

    The fact that the gospels weren’t written when Jesus was alive is irrelevant. 

    How about the fact that none of the writers knew him, and all had a vested interest that completely eradicates their objectivity, thus their credibility?  

    And when people talk about evidence for Jesus, they almost exclusively draw from the new testament, because it’s better sources for him than Josephus et al

    They talk about the Creeds found therein, or other bits and pieces.  It’s certainly not “almost exclusively” because, since as noted they’re anything except objective.  When investigating the historicity of someone, why wouldn’t they use actual historians instead of religious texts?  

    Your increased rudeness is very revealing.  This is what people do when they’re losing.

  108. Tuna Ghost | Sep 19, 2011 at 11:47 am |

    The fact that the gospels weren’t written when Jesus was alive is irrelevant. 

    How about the fact that none of the writers knew him, and all had a vested interest that completely eradicates their objectivity, thus their credibility?  

    And when people talk about evidence for Jesus, they almost exclusively draw from the new testament, because it’s better sources for him than Josephus et al

    They talk about the Creeds found therein, or other bits and pieces.  It’s certainly not “almost exclusively” because, since as noted they’re anything except objective.  When investigating the historicity of someone, why wouldn’t they use actual historians instead of religious texts?  

    Your increased rudeness is very revealing.  This is what people do when they’re losing.

  109. Strange qualifiers? I ask you to name me a single biblical scholar in an accredited university who doubts Jesus existence. You gave me a list of dead people, some of whom staunchly declared that Jesus is the best attested historical fact of all Jewish teachers of his time. You clearly have no interest in an honest debate, so you’re just wasting our time. Nobody takes your fringe lunacy seriously, and nobody ever will.

  110. Strange qualifiers? I ask you to name me a single biblical scholar in an accredited university who doubts Jesus existence. You gave me a list of dead people, some of whom staunchly declared that Jesus is the best attested historical fact of all Jewish teachers of his time. You clearly have no interest in an honest debate, so you’re just wasting our time. Nobody takes your fringe lunacy seriously, and nobody ever will.

  111. Strange qualifiers? I ask you to name me a single biblical scholar in an accredited university who doubts Jesus existence. You gave me a list of dead people, some of whom staunchly declared that Jesus is the best attested historical fact of all Jewish teachers of his time. You clearly have no interest in an honest debate, so you’re just wasting our time. Nobody takes your fringe lunacy seriously, and nobody ever will.

  112. Strange qualifiers? I ask you to name me a single biblical scholar in an accredited university who doubts Jesus existence. You gave me a list of dead people, some of whom staunchly declared that Jesus is the best attested historical fact of all Jewish teachers of his time. You clearly have no interest in an honest debate, so you’re just wasting our time. Nobody takes your fringe lunacy seriously, and nobody ever will.

  113. Strange qualifiers? I ask you to name me a single biblical scholar in an accredited university who doubts Jesus existence. You gave me a list of dead people, some of whom staunchly declared that Jesus is the best attested historical fact of all Jewish teachers of his time. You clearly have no interest in an honest debate, so you’re just wasting our time. Nobody takes your fringe lunacy seriously, and nobody ever will.

  114. No the fact the writers didn’t know him, or had vested interest, doesn’t affect their credibility at all. That’s not how history works. Historians don’t say “this guy is trustworthy, I’ll believe everything he says” or “this person was a follower of Ghandi, his writings on Ghandi will be utterly worthless as he has a vested interest.” Historians work with the evidence. Every source has a vested interest, and very few sources are first hand accounts.

    I do not mean to be rude, but your dogmatic denial of history is tiresome. Every 10 years some loser comes along and writes a book claiming Jesus didn’t exist, makes a lot of money out of it, and less intelligent atheists latch onto it as an easy way to debunk Christianity. It makes everybody involved look bad. People who want to learn and teach the comprehensive philosophical arguments for atheism end up sharing platforms (be it on the TV, online, or in the minds of theists) with the academic equivalent of moon landing hoax theorists.

  115. emperorreagan | Sep 20, 2011 at 2:53 pm |

    “My description could easily fit into the second one you mention–religion is bad for society because it inflicts cultural and religious rules on people who have no connection to the culture and don’t believe in the religion, and thus it restricts their freedom. ”

    Cultural rules will exist whether there is religion or not.  Every society is marked by its own specific mores.  Religion may be part of the way they’re transmitted or enforced, but it’s certainly not the only way.  One only need compare societies that are, at present, non-religious or in severe religious decline to see that there are still cultural pressures many would find onerous in the absence of religion – take Japan or France, for example.  One can compare different regions in the US and their implementation of Christianity, too – take the wealthy, old communities of the north eastern United States where a very moderate form of religion persists as compared to communities dominated by Pentecostal churches in the American South.

    While one can postulate how a culture would change in the absence of religion, I think it too often comes across as  speculation asserted as a truth.  It ignores the complexity of societies.  

    I also think that the argument asserts something that is a little absurd.  Using the US as an example – you may have access to a broader culture, where the mores depicted are mostly local to NY or CA, or wherever the writers/actors/creators/etc. live and work.  The cultural values and rules in a particular location, though, is going to vary widely.  Littletown, Mississippi isn’t the same, culturally, as NY.  To expect the same mores to apply as seen on TV or the internet to apply is ridiculous, religion or not.  Likewise, if one chooses to move to Littletown, Mississippi, it would be ridiculous to expect the local society to change to accommodate you.  It’s something that happens in goofy movies, not something that happens in real societies.

  116. Tuna Ghost | Oct 2, 2011 at 5:27 pm |

    And once again you neglect to answer the questions or acknowledge that your claims are not factual.   And now you’re telling me I’m not interested in an honest debate?  This is what people do when they know they’re losing.  

  117. First off, atheists are categorically higher IQ and more educated than believers. We’re even more knowledgeable in matters of religion and spirituality. To call us mindless, even in jest, is ignorant and petty. Secondly, atheism is not a belief system or a religion, it is ONLY the absence of belief in gods. Lastly, the burden of proof is on the people making the positive claim. If you claim there is a god, prove it. Oh, right, you can’t. So you’re basically getting all defensive and uppity over unproven nonsense.

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