A “blogment” with an atheist

I’m being lazy and using a comment thread as a blog post to address some common objections of atheists.  There were a lot of similar comments at this thread but I thought this captured some key themes.

Science is the best way to understand the reality of the world around us, to avoid fooling ourselves with imperfect reason, imperfect senses, and personal biases.

Science is great for material things, but by definition it doesn’t deal with immaterial things. And you can’t use science to prove that you should only trust science (circular reference).

And Darwinian evolution selects for survivability, not truth, so, ironically, you have no rational basis to trust your rationality.

The rational part allows us to both accurately weigh evidence and fill in the blanks in our knowledge. The alternative is to defer to tradition or authority.

You beg the question and assume we don’t have evidence for God, the Bible, the resurrection, etc. We have loads — teleological, cosmological, historical, archeological, etc. It is what helped convert me from atheism.

Your assertion about ‘god is supreme law-giver’ is a case in point. The ONLY thing you can say is ‘god says so’. If it causes poverty (abortion), suicide (gay hatred), societal degredation (slavery), dead children (faith healing), war (the middle ages), cronyism, graft, rape, etc (clergy of many vestments), then it simply doesn’t matter. Any believer A who can convince believer B that ‘god said so’ is home free to do anything.

Not at all. That would be the logical conclusion of the false teachers who are totally sure that you can’t be totally sure what the Bible says. I know abortion, suicide, bullying, rape, etc. are all wrong. The fakes will tell you we just can’t be sure because then we’d be putting ourselves in the place of God. (P.S. I won’t tell Max you are one of those nasty absolutists.)

You drank the kool-aid on gay hatred. 1. In your worldview, Darwinian evo caused gay hatred, Christianity, etc. Stop hating on your own worldview! 2. Gays have lots of other issues that lead to suicide. 3. Lots of atheists hate gays (or try to convince me that Matthew Shepherd’s killers — who may not have killed him just for being gay — just came from a Focus on the Family “Love Won Out” conference). 4. Tons of people hate me just for being a Christian, being pro-life and pro-real marriage and I’m not the least bit suicidal, so the hate ==> suicide is a canard. I’m probably way nicer to gays than the average atheist, and not just because I’ll tell them the truth if they ask.

Side note: That is so sad that you consider abortion to be a poverty-preventer. Using that logic, why not kill the kids outside the womb? They consume way more resources than the unborn or newborns. Or let the kid be born then kill the most expensive kid. Wouldn’t that be the most logical way to proceed once your scientifically based morality has deemed it acceptable to kill an innocent human being? (P.S. Note to self: Don’t let Jason travel to 3rd world countries. He thinks nearly all those people should be dead, because the poor in the U.S. live like kings and queens compared to them. I know a lot of very joyful people whose deaths in the womb would have been applauded as pragmatic here in the U.S.)

When the ultimate focus is on what is best for humanity, then ‘let’s kill the infidels’ has to pass a higher test.

What higher test? In your worldview the answer will always be, “Whoever is in power.” That isn’t a higher test, just a flavor change.

“It’s not ‘god said so’ it’s is that a humane and caring thing to do? It is possible to reason to a conclusion about what actions will improve our lot in life and our relationship to other people, and those conclusions will become progressively better over time with a scientific and rational approach.

Yeah, the Enlightenment crowd was really confident of that until that pesky 20th century came along and ruined it.

ps. Sam Harris – The Moral Landscape is a good read for this relationship between science and ethics. He doesn’t make as much of a distinction between science-based reason and scientific experiments, but it does explain the position in more detail.

Would that be the Sam Harris who thought that rape had some evolutionary benefits but now does not? I’ll pass. Again, rationalize all you like, but no amount of chemical reactions can’t make morality. Any “morality” discussed by atheists is by definition moral relativism.

Cheers.

61 thoughts on “A “blogment” with an atheist

  1. Thanks for the second link!

    I had never thought about the hate –> suicide sword cutting both ways (pun unintended). You’re right, Christians receive public humiliation regularly. Told they’re simple minded idiots for believing fairy tales. We are told our beliefs are dangerous to society. We are told we hate women, and according to former Speaker Pelosi, peo-lifers want to kill women. Because we think men and women should be married, we’re bigotted gay hating neanderthals, and I’m not the least bit suicidal.

    Yes, flourishment and quality of life will progress under a rational and scientic society, until the rationality defines you out of protection (the fetus), or the science determines we need your body for the benefit of others “right this way to the showers, fellas” Science has only served to justify atrocities such as experimentation of humans rabbits and mice (Mengele), and the sacrificing of one human for the comfort of another (planned parenthood).

    Sorry, but I’ll pass.

    • To: John Barron whose avatar says, “I am vastly superior to everyone around me.” (tee-hee!)
      Well written post. I think you further illuminated the silliness behind the “hate->suicide” arguement.
      P.S. Little mouse needs more people around him. :)

  2. I have a different rebuttal to the first point; they admit that humans are flawed and have fallible observations and reasoning… yet that is exactly what science is based on — observations and reasoning! So, they are admitting that the basis for their god (“science”) is flawed and therefore ultimately baseless. After all, maybe our observations on the orbit of the earth around the sun are just flawed; or the reasoning about the sunrise and sunset is flawed. This atheist has just admitted that it may be so, so what further reason is there to trust science or anything based on science, since it is all based on our fallible observations and reasoning?

      • Admitting our observations and use of reason are fallible features doesn’t hurt anybody in the slightest; would you rather have them say science is infallible? They would be a laughingstock. Being fallible doesn’t necessarily mean you’re wrong, and the same can be applied to religious studies as well. If you’re willing to admit you’re a fallible human, then it stands that perhaps you are wrong about your views on God as well; it works both ways. Yes, it is a possibility that we are incorrect about earth’s orbit around the sun, but that is why nobody will ever tell you that we are 100% right about it. We may only have a 0.0000000001% chance of being wrong about it based on the numerous experiments and observations through the centuries, but we will place our belief in thinking we know the earth’s orbit around the sun is correct because of the evidence is in place. It is never locked down completely though; that’s what its strength is. Constant questioning, constant experimentation, and a constant need and drive for evidence. That is why you’ll never see (a legit) scientist touting something in which cannot be retested outside of his or her own laboratory; they would have too much doubt placed on him or her.

        I was wondering if you were a former atheist eMatters; I guessed correctly it seems.

      • Hey Jonathan — thanks for visiting and commenting!

        For clarification, I think Kathy was (and I know I was) pointing out the circularity of their reasoning. I definitely didn’t mean to imply that we were infallible in our religious beliefs. I believe loads of things about science. I don’t expect them to say that science is infallible. They are just inconsistent in their approach (i.e. as I think I pointed out on the other blog and perhaps here, Darwinian evo doesn’t select for truth or rationality, but survivability. They have no grounding to trust any reasoning.

      • P.s. Yes, former atheist / agnostic. I wasn’t an “evangelistic atheist,” just a “couldn’t care less” atheist / agnostic.

      • Yes, as Neil said, I was referring to the circular reasoning of the first statement (i.e., that science keeps us from “fooling ourselves with imperfect reason, imperfect senses, and personal biases”) — yet science is based on our observations and reasoning; so we observe with our imperfect senses, and reason with our imperfect reason and personal biases, therefore science can’t really keep us from “fooling ourselves” based on their own rationale. Whether what was said is an accurate statement is not under consideration; I was just pointing out the circular logic of such a statement.

        However, I would take great exception to your statement that you’ll never see a legitimate scientist touting something that cannot be retested, and also that no scientist will ever say that he is 100% right. I understand that what is said in textbooks for children and in lay articles designed for the general public, is a bit different from what scientists say among themselves; however, ask just about anybody when the dinosaurs died out, and you’ll be told “65 million years ago”. Occasionally, you’ll read, “scientists believe”, but usually it’s given as an absolute certainty. Same thing for any number of statements that assume evolutionary origins (that humans descended from non-human primates; that all living things are descended from a single cell; that whales descended from land mammals, etc) — not one of those things has been observed, much less tested or retested in a lab. They take facts (millions of dead things buried in rock layers laid down by water all over the earth), and tell stories with them that they pretend are true, but they can’t know that they’re true. They may have a certain lines of evidence that seem to indicate that such-and-such is the case, and these things may be lab-tested (the amount of particular elements in a rock) and retested, but the fact that there is a certain quantity of elements in a certain rock does not prove age, though scientists pretend it does, because it depends on many assumptions (how much mother element there was at the beginning, that no mother element leached in or out, that no daughter element leached in or out, that no daughter element was present at the beginning, and that the rate of decay has always been the same), none of which can be proved, and the last of which has recently been shown to be false.

      • Understood eMatters, thanks for the clarification. I had you pegged for a former atheist; too many people only understand one side of an issue or have a working knowledge of both sides.

        Kathy, it seems that you’re overreaching a bit. Saying that evolution, the breaking down of the human genome (one led in the U.S. under a Christian scientist if I’m not mistaken), DNA, carbon-14 dating, radiometric dating, fossil dating, and two or three others are completely false and scientists are just “telling stories about them” is a bit far-fetched. It seems to be a bit of cherry picking on your part.

        Also, when they say with absolute certainty it’s a bit of an exaggeration. But if you’re 99.99999999999% sure, then the remainder is small enough that it warrants being positive about. If they’re legitimate, they should never say 100%; any scientist worth his or her weight knows this.

        In any case, evolution and the age of the earth does not disprove the rightness of belief in a higher power. You can believe in both quite easily.

        Jonathan L.

  3. Visiting a local university campus last fall, I saw many posters for a guest lecture titled something like “I can be good without God”. It made me wonder, without God, how would we define what is “good”? I’m betting most folks on either side of the discussion don’t see that our common concepts of good and bad come from our Judeo-Christian cultural foundation. Without a higher power to define good and bad, we are left to define it ourselves, which quickly becomes a more real (and deadly) version of “because I said so.” The best organized gang with the most weapons and will to use them gets to define good and bad.

      • I appreciate your candor. Unfortunately that is the default setting of the human condition and results in all the pain and suffering in the world. I hope you reconsider your views. As imperfectly as I follow Christ, I’ve been on both sides and wouldn’t trade his way for anything.

      • When someone says “Because I said so,” there is the potential for reasoning together to answer the question “Why?” When someone says “Because God said so,” that potential disappears.

      • I fail to see how the opportunity to rationalize sinful behavior is an improvement on knowing the right behavior.

        Also, you can still examine the universe as God created it and discuss why He gave the moral laws that He did. Example: If you follow his commands for marriage, you are virtually guaranteed of going through live without an STD. Tens of millions of Americans get to live with the consequences of ignoring that. But they do have the opportunity reason together about “why,” I suppose.

      • Actually, following the laws of marriage in no way guarantees me anything. It depends on the choices my spouse makes as well.

      • Fair enough. I concede that if your spouse isn’t a tramp that helps. But if you obey the laws your odds still go drown dramatically.

        And that reinforces my main point: If you choose a spouse the way God guides (see Proverbs and more) and seek to love her as Christ loved the church then the odds are much, much greater that she won’t cheat. Thanks for the opportunity for another Bible plug!

      • I think it is possible to figure out what kind of behavior increases the odds of a happy and faithful marriage (I’ve got twenty-seven years in mine). My wife and I had to decide together what we wanted our marriage to be. That somebody writing thousands of years ago might have figured out some of the same things and attributed them to God doesn’t make much difference to me.

      • Congrats on 27 years. That is a terrific accomplishment. Hope you have 27 more.

        Yes, you can discover things about the world that help you live more successfully. That is referred to as God’s common grace.

        You might take a deeper look at what else those writers said thousands of years ago.

      • To Vinny:
        May I respectfully add something beyond your reasoning to consider?
        First of all, how do you know that what someone wrote thousands of years ago doesn’t make any difference to you if you haven’t even read what they wrote. Plato, Socrates, and others wrote things long ago that still have relevance today. If what someone writes is true, what difference does it make if they wrote it yesterday or at the beginning of time?
        Since half of all marriages end in divorce, and a large percentage of those are also Christian marriages, maybe you and your wife are on to something. The Bible doesn’t say anything about penicillin and it helps a lot of people whether they deserve it or not.

  4. Neil,

    To your first comment on science, I was on the McClatchy News Service site recently discussing issues on science and Christianity and made mention of the implicit moral standards of science that are un-measurable, un-testable, un-falsifiable and therefore un-approachable by science. I asked a single question that no one even attempted a response: “Is it accurate to say that a scientist ought to perform all experimentation and reporting of scientific findings in a truthful manner?” Actually, I have never had anyone attempt an answer, usually an immediate attack on a strawman “Christianity” or personal attack. Obviously an answer in the affirmative would necessitate a metaphysical basis for a moral standard underpinning all activity in the scientific realm and an answer in the negative would mean all scientific inquiry is unreliable. Cutting off the limb on which they stand would seem most appropriate.

    Thanks for engaging in these issues. As you have stated before, the Christian worldview is more than capable of dealing with all these issues and is far more robust than many care to admit.

  5. Here’s an article by Jerry Coyne, an evolutionary science professor, who not only admits that there can be no such thing as true morality but he seems to rejoice in it — http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/forum/story/2012-01-01/free-will-science-religion/52317624/1 . Hat tip: Edgar at http://www.thechristianalert.org/index.php/TheNews/2012/01/02/why-you-don-t-really

    Coyne is wildly flawed, but at least he is consistent with his worldview. The atheists insisting they can be “good without God” are doubly wrong: They are as flawed as Coyne in their knowledge and they don’t live consistently with their worldview.

    My guess is that Coyne just writes things that are consistent with his naturalism. I suspect that if you stole his car he wouldn’t just attribute it to molecules obeying the laws of physics.

  6. The blog and the comments following it are examples of SOUND thinking. Thank you SO much, Neil and “Thinkers” at large.
    I always appreciate the meaty intelligence and the bonus links and resources I can look forward to exploring on Eternity Matters.
    I often recall that old Steelers Wheel song except I’ve changed the lyrics to “Atheists to the left of me, clowns to the right … stuck in the middle again.”
    What a great way to start the New Year!

  7. Your assertion about ‘god is supreme law-giver’ is a case in point. The ONLY thing you can say is ‘god says so’. If it causes poverty (abortion), suicide (gay hatred), societal degredation (slavery), dead children (faith healing), war (the middle ages), cronyism, graft, rape, etc (clergy of many vestments), then it simply doesn’t matter. Any believer A who can convince believer B that ‘god said so’ is home free to do anything.

    Ya know, atheism’s track record isn’t that great either: tens of millions slaughtered in gulags from communism, more dead of starvation, neglect, abuse, murder. The welfare state. Given that out-of-wedlock childbirth is associated with about every major social ill out there, and that Christians oppose it and a lot of atheists support it, let’s add imprisonment, disease, poverty, crime, abortion, and suicide to that list.

  8. Hmm, interesting. You decry the use of the scientific method while enjoying its benefits, using as justification the problem of individual perception errors in interpreting the evidence of the real world around us while advocating the belief in a non material being for which there is no evidence whatsoever.
    And some fairly simple philosophy can be used to demonstrate the importance of an absolute moral code (and what that should be) without the need to invoke any sort of theology.
    Sorry, still see no reason why religion is in any way better than natural philosophical thought and quite a few reasons why it is worse.

    • Hmm, interesting. You decry the use of the scientific method while enjoying its benefits, using as justification the problem of individual perception errors in interpreting the evidence of the real world around us while advocating the belief in a non material being for which there is no evidence whatsoever.

      Please start over. Who said I decry the scientific method? I think it is swell. I just know when people are abusing it and cheating to advance their naturalistic philosophy.

      To say there is “no evidence whatsover” for a non-material being is foolish. We have teleological, cosmological, moral, historical, archaeological, and more.

      And some fairly simple philosophy can be used to demonstrate the importance of an absolute moral code (and what that should be) without the need to invoke any sort of theology.

      That’s odd, because many atheistic philosophers admit that an absolute moral code is a fiction. All postmoderns disagree as well. Deep down we know there is a code, and as Christians we can explain it. You know it is there, but all you have are just-so stories to back your claims. Chemical reactions do not produce real morality, and no amount of Darwinian evolution can, either.

      Sorry, still see no reason why religion is in any way better than natural philosophical thought and quite a few reasons why it is worse.

      I’m not advocating for “religion,” but for Christianity, where the one true God will forgive your sins and grant you eternal life if you repent and trust in Jesus. All other religions are false.

    • Here’s an example of atheists conceding this point: http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/all-three-of-history-prof-richard-weikarts-credo-posts-on-evolutionary-ethics-vs-traditional-ethics/

      The notion that evolution undermines any objective morality is widespread in academic circles. Darwin taught this in The Descent of Man, and many contemporary evolutionists agree. Last summer I attended a conference on “The Evolution of Morality and the Morality of Evolution” at Oxford University. One of the keynote speakers at the conference was Michael Ruse, one of the most prominent philosophers of science today. He famously wrote in a 1985 article co-authored with E. O. Wilson, the founder of sociobiology: “Ethics as we understand it is an illusion fobbed off on us by our genes to get us to co-operate.” Ruse has reaffirmed this position many times since then.

      Atheists have a PR campaign about being “good without God,” but they can’t explain what “good” is and why anyone should aspire to that if they didn’t think it was in their personal long-term interests.

      • Explain to me how obtaining eternal rewards and avoiding eternal punishment isn’t an appeal to personal long-term interests? I am always amused by Christians who think that their notion of good is somehow more pure and noble because it is untainted by self-interest.

      • Hi Vinny — I’m not sure I follow — I wasn’t saying Christians are pure and noble for choosing to follow Jesus as their Lord and Savior, or that it is bad in principle to pursue personal long-term interests. The Bible is clear: We bring nothing to the table. It is all by God’s grace.

        My point was that atheists can’t claim to be good without a standard for good, and their worldview is such that they get to define good themselves (and the honest ones will admit that they don’t even uphold their own standards well).

      • You said that “atheists can’t explain what “good” is and why anyone should aspire to that if they didn’t think it was in their personal long-term interests.” I assume therefore that you think Christians are offering some reason to aspire to their notion of good that doesn’t depend on personal long-term interest.

        I would also argue that theists also decide for themselves what is good and what is not good. The only difference is that they then attribute their definitions to God.

      • Aspiring to their notion of good is in the personal best interests of Christians because it will conform to what their creator and Savior says is best. It may result in short term suffering, but always works out in the end.

        “I would also argue that theists also decide for themselves what is good and what is not good. ”

        We agree on that.

        “The only difference is that they then attribute their definitions to God.”

        You can argue that if you like, but we have a source we can point to. E.g., Ephesians 5:3 says, “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.”

        Of course people, such as false teaching liberals, can rationalize all sorts of things, but Christians know that is the standard.

        Atheists have no source but themselves, which is moral relativism, which is meaningless.

      • You do have sources you can point to when it suits your purposes, however, none of the Christians I know think that it is good to beat their children with a big stick despite the admonitions of Proverbs. I’ve also seen apologists spend large amounts of time rationalizing the killing of women and children that God ordered in the Old Testament. So it is apparent to me that Christians apply reason to determine what is good and then decide how to read their sources accordingly.

      • Vinny – I have answered you with resources and citations. I do not want to post it here, because the answer looks like the front page of an old Wall Street Journal. I went to your blog. I enjoyed perusing the entries. I hope you are not trying to bate me or anyone else. Sharing thinking through civilized discussion is one thing. Trolling is something else. Since I cannot be sure, and since it suited me, I did craft a reply to you. However, in consideration of eMatters, who owns this blog, I don’t want to take up resources by only posting to you. I’ll post a link for anyone who is interested in my reply later today and you can read it at your leisure. Thank you for you interest.

      • Doreenie,

        I would like to think that I am not “trolling,” although I’m not sure that there isn’t some “baiting” involved. I enjoy testing my own thinking on these issues in civilized discussions. I’m glad you stopped by my blog.

      • Hi, Vinny – I expected to be able to get back to this post before now. Modern marriage, motherhood and much more got in the way.
        Like you, I find the practice of slicing and dicing information sources to fit personal philosophies objectionable and ignorant.

        ”You do have sources you can point to when it suits your purposes, however, none of the Christians I know think that it is good to beat their children with a big stick despite the admonitions of Proverbs.”

        At the risk of pointing to resources that suit my short and long term purposes, let me invite you to “test,” the implication you have made that the bible admonishes parents to beat their children with a big stick.” http://www.helium.com/items/274817-spare-the-rod-and-spoil-the-child-explained

        There are three parts to fundamental, classical education. 1)Logic 2)Grammar 3)Rhetoric. At one time these were called the trivium. Modern education has decided the trivium is trivial. Liberal arts is a waste of time in the modern world. Despite evidence the practices of liberal arts developed students’ ability to reason and use their minds to a fuller extent, our materialistic world prefers we “produce” and ask questions later. Modern culture has changed the meaning of a lot of words and seems intent on jumbling the language further. It is easier to manipulate mammals who are confused.

        Briefly, let’s deal with the word “rod.” The word “rod,” is something used, even today by herders of sheep. There is not a self respecting keeper of sheep in the world who advises beating lambs. The rod is merely used to guide the little ones back onto a path. Of course a shepherd might whack an older sheep who keeps leading the others off into danger, but older sheep have a lot of wool. It doesn’t hurt them, it only gets their attention and then only barely. That’s why sheep herders let dogs do the work for them. Dog will nip at their legs, but it doesn’t kill anybody. If you examine how the word rod is used throughout the bible, not just the one verse in Proverbs, you will find it is used both figuratively and literally. Words are such problems. They is why they can be used to deceive.

        I want to encourage you in your search for falsehood verses truth. It is a search that is altogether worthwhile for me. I have been exploring what is true and what is not for decades and the search continues. The reason I have had to work so hard these days is because we can be sure of something no one used to believe… people lie. ALL people lie! Good, intelligent people lie. It is merely a matter of degree, frequency and topic and motivation. TED talks has a brilliant short on the subject.

        http://www.spring.org.uk/2007/10/how-and-why-we-lie-to-ourselves.php
        I have also learned that ideas have consequences. I try to make sure the ideas I share will be useful to lift up, illuminate, or improve. There is no danger in examining the Bible yourself, Vinny, or encouraging others to do they same. If it is found to be trash, let others figure it out for themselves. I mean why would you want to discourage people from reading the Bible? You want to save them some time?

        Certainly no thinking person today wants to be caught promulgating old wives tales or hearsay from someone ignorant and/or misinformed. There is great danger in examining any piece of work and twisting the meaning, wouldn’t you agree? Good to remember this old cliche “Logic is the art of going wrong with confidence.” All the best to you, dear Vinny and nice chatting with you.

      • livingpruf,

        I think the first thing a person should do in an effort to determine the correct interpretation of “rod” in Proverbs 13:24 is to see how else it is used in the rest of the book. Do not withhold correction from a child, For if you beat him with a rod, he will not die. Proverbs 23:13. “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of correction will drive it far from him.” Proverbs 22:15 “A whip for the horse, A bridle for the donkey, And a rod for the fool’s back.” Proverbs 26:3 “Wisdom is found on the lips of him who has understanding, But a rod is for the back of him who is devoid of understanding.” Proverbs 10:13 “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of correction will drive it far from him.” Proverbs 22:15 It may well be that the rod is used for gentle purposes elsewhere, but in Proverbs it is used for whacking.

      • Hi, Vinny: Check mate! Synonyms for the word proverb include “adage or axiom.” They aren’t commandments. Which does not mean they should dismissed out of hand. My favorite proverb is, “Never take down a fence until you know the reason it was put up.” Warren Wiersbe

        May I inquire what translation of the Bible are you using? Many Bible readers today find reading more than one translation helpful. Many newer translations use English language the way we do today, not the way it was used some 400 years ago. For example, idioms like “a camel going through the eye of a needle” is enough to make anyone’s brain hurt.

        e.g. Easy-to-Read Version (ERV) Proverbs 13:24
        If you don’t correct your children, you don’t love them. If you love them, you will be quick to discipline them. (Discipline root word having to do with teach and “practice.”)

        Atheists pose interesting ideas which help me think and nobody I know does enough of that. Unfortunately, as atheism rises, so does the incidence of suicide. The Bible may have been used to “whack” people or the words twisted to condemn, but its words have provided much hope and direction for intelligent individuals all over the world. I hope you will continue to read it for yourself.

        Take care!

  9. Hi, Vinny: Thank you again for providing your point of view. I can tell that eMatters is correct when they say, “he is a good guy,” about you. I hope you will forgive me for being a bit facetious as I have pardoned you for “baiting.” People who are thinking just have to struggle with each other and I appreciate that you have the stamina. For clarification, here are merely a couple more comments for the category of “Whatever it is worth.”

    I zeroed in on the topic of children and beatings for two reasons: 1) I was abused as a child by religious zealots. 2) Our only hope as a country and as a society is to treat our children differently whether they “belong” to us or not. We are confusing them, scaring them, and hurting them in ways that have lasting effects.Right now, worldwide suicide rate for 15-19 year olds is skyrocketing.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1414751/ So, while you and I blog and banter, sensitive young people the world over are just killing themselves … they have no hope. Do you want to live in a world where the beauty of emotions like hope, joy, and passion have withered? I’d rather live in a society that believed in a greater good than one that does not. My Christian friends in Hungary have watched their friends and acquaintances continue to die on the inside before ultimately taking matters into their own hands.

    Final thoughts – A commandment differs from an axiom in this way: An axiom requires that one use judgement and reason according to all that is known. Defined it means “a proposition that is assumed without proof for the sake of studying the consequences that follow from it.” Clearly, if a swat on the behind does not deter the offending behavior, it isn’t the solution to the problem. Where both Atheist and Christian parents go wrong is using punishment at all if a better alternative is available, i.e., showing, explaining, guiding, interrupting, etc. I have seen “time out” and rejection create more hurt than a spanking. One of the most damaged human beings I ever knew, who was suicidal by the way, told his parents once, “Don’t tell me I am a disappointment to you. Just beat me and get it over with.” He had never been struck by either of his parents.

    By contrast … a commandment is mandatory for anyone and requires adherence. Nobody is happy when something has been stolen from them. Heart attacks from stress are increasing because it is no longer fashionable in the industrialized world to “rest” … ever, forget resting a whole whole day! I dunno, Vinny, the Biblical commandments are looking better to me all the time!

    In summary, an axiom is similar to a “strategy,” in team sports. A commandment is like a “play,” where team members cooperate together to beat the “opponent.” (This is only ONE place where the likes of the cult, “No Greater Joy,” has gone completely wrong. It’s those pesky words again! It isn’t just “semantics,” it is where the intended meaning of a word or phrase has been distorted so bizarrely and inhumanely, the “logos” is barely recognizable. I am confident that is why the Bible became so popular after it was first translated and then compiled by King James. If you read the Bible in several different translations, amazing insight can be achieved.

    Galileo said, ““You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him discover it in himself.”
    ~Galileo Galile (Check out “Visual Word Dictionary for insight.)

    Thank you, Vinny, for being one more person in the blogosphere that has helped me discover some things in myself. I like to weigh the merit of ALL of my unbelievable beliefs. I hope others that encounter your ideas will be equally as fortunate …

    All the best!

    • Doreenie and livingpruf,

      I realize that proverbs are not commandments. Nevertheless, someone who considers the Bible to be inspired by God might reasonably conclude that hitting a child with a big stick is a good form of discipline. However, this idea is repugnant to most thinking Christians that I know. These Christians use logic and reason to determine what is good (just like atheists do) and they interpret the proverb accordingly.

      As far as translations go, the hard copy sitting on my desk is a New American Bible. In discussions like this, I check Biblegateway.com to see whether other major translations convey the same basic meaning. I usually check the NIV, the NASB, and the NKJV. If there is some discrepancy, I may look at a few others as well to see whether I can figure out its source. Unfortunately, I have no skills in ancient languages. I try to be conscious that I am not simply picking the translation that most aligns with the point I am trying to make at the moment, but I probably sometimes do it anyway.

      far as translations go, the hard copy sitting on my desk is a New American Bible.

      • “I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.”
        Galileo Galilei quote

        Solid Christians use logic and reason and anything else at their disposal to understand truth. Fake Christians, like fake anything use short cuts and blind obedience they have mistaken for “faith.” They put on a costume and call themselves Christians.
        This is similar to the practice of politicians calling themselves “Republicans and Democrats.” We would be able to tell the difference between them better if they called themselves “Liars and Fakers,” vs “The Party of Those Who Have Integrity.”

  10. [Enter Post Title Here]

    Hey, Vinny!

    You are honest. Without even knowing you, that makes you a precious human treasure, as far as I am concerned.

    A Bible you might enjoy is called, “The Word on the Street.” It is a piece of art more than a translation. What I like about both “The Message,” and the aforementioned is that the authors made “the Word,” their own. I think we ALL must do that. We cannot take anyone’s word for what the creative spirit intended to reveal. (Why? “Because people lie!” They repeat something THEY believe, and run with it like it is true.)
    You have to admit, YOU wouldn’t be willing to die for some silly notion that you think is stupid and false. The only way suicide bombers can be grown is when the whole society participates in the lie, or … one loathes themselves and others (for any number of reasons.) When you find people as worthwhile as they are, you want more of them, not less, right? You have to dehumanize people before you kill them, ask this guy: http://www.amazon.com/American-Sniper-Autobiography
    Higher life forms, if we can be called that, struggles to keep living everywhere around us, is that not true? That is the basis for evolution, right? You must also read, “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl A holocaust witness, Victor has some interesting ideas about “Logos.”

    I have no skills in ancient languages, either. There is now something called “exegis.” That helps, but so does exploring meanings of words in the English language. My German friend and I are always laughing because German is still a lot like Old English, with the “thee, and thou” and so on. It is only because we know each other that we are able to struggle with the stupid translations from dictionaries, etc., until we arrive at the meaning either of us wishes to convey to the other. (We knew each other very well as students when he was fluent in English and I was fluent in German. We lost touch both with each other and our fluency, but our friendship withstood the test of time and distance. We were both born in the Stone Age.)Here’s another link FYI – http://www.visuwords.com

    Another example along similar lines is something else I am working on. I haven’t finished, yet, but I am doing a study on the word Glory. When we think of the word “Glory,” today, we often think of “fame.” It appears to me that sometimes the translators used “Glory” back when the King James was compiled, when they should have been translating the word as “energy,” or “light.” The way we think about energy and light as concepts has deepened considerably over the last 400 years! Einstein was on to something, for sure. According to scientist today, there may well be 11 dimensions of existence, but only 3-4 we can actually see with our eyes. What if Jesus was resurrected due to light/energy? The shroud of Turin certainly suggests that, but it is all conjecture isn’t it? Are you familiar with the “uncertainty principle,” in science? Basically it states the observation of some things changes them into something else.” Maybe trying to define God, changes Him into something He is not?

    Here is a link you will enjoy. http://asunews.asu.edu/20120103_video_krauss
    It’s a 3 minute short from a scientist who imagines he knows that the Universe came from nothing.
    My reply: “Apparently, Krause thinks God is something other than light. John 1:1-5 Light IS an entity. Darkness isn’t. What is worthy of challenge is Krause saying the Universe came from nothing AND light. He can’t have it both ways. Nothing comes from nothing. Something ALWAYS comes from light. Perhaps what we call God is creative light? Nobody has seen it, because it is too much energy at one time for us mere mortals. What he says is compelling, for all the wrong reasons. He glosses over the comment that science cannot understand where light came from.”

    I dunno, Vinny, maybe Jesus was trying to tell us something about the universe way back when. Have you ever tried to teach anybody anything? Kids are easy. Grownups will not learn new information very well at all, unless we “renew” our minds. Here’s this guy Jesus, who we know for sure lived, and he is trying to show, tell, demonstrate, illustrate, clarify, and explain, and the guy even puts his life on the line, and still folks just don’t get it. I have been there as a teacher. That really IS when you want to slap someone! (Not kids, but FOOLS for sure.)Good thing I wasn’t in charge of being the messiah. The human race would have been done for!
    Moreover, how else could He sit at the right hand of “something” out there in space unless He was operating in a different dimension than the one in which WE move and have our being?

    Perhaps, Vinny we should find an alternate way to communicate outside of this blog if you wish to continue this discussion. After all, nobody reads, “The Thread That Will Not Die.”

    Any suggestions?

  11. [In response to Jonathan http://4simpsons.wordpress.com/2012/01/02/a-blogment-with-an-atheist/#comment-49046%5D

    It depends on what they’re saying about these things. I’m not saying that DNA doesn’t exist — I’m not challenging the *facts*; I’m challenging their story-telling that goes along with the facts, for instance, it’s a fact that all creatures in this world have similar DNA, but evolutionists jump from that fact to the conclusion that this proves that they are definitely related, have a common ancestor, and/or evolved one from another.

    Also, look at the term “junk DNA” — they use that term because they assume that most of the human genome *must be* “junk” or useless bits of DNA that have evolved at random and don’t serve a function but haven’t been gotten rid of yet. So, evolutionary assumptions (and Haldane’s Dilemma) teach that most DNA must be non-functioning or else there hasn’t been enough time for positive mutations to accumulate to form humans w/o negative mutations to totally kill us off, so they assumed that only the bits that they could verify a use for (making proteins) had a function, and the rest was useless bits of junk. Wrong assumption; they’re now realizing that much of the so-called useless/junk DNA is actually quite useful, and functions. Now, creationists would assume function, based on what the Bible teaches about God and His creation (everything was originally “good” or “very good”, and everything has a purpose), though we admit that perhaps mutations has caused some DNA to become non-functioning. It turns out that creationists are right and evolutionists are wrong.

    There have been many other proclamations made by evolutionists, due to evolutionary assumptions and bias, that have been proved wrong, that creationists would not have fallen victim to, such as that there are such things as useless “vestigial” organs (formerly something like over 100 such were claimed, and now most people recognize that there is function in all such organs; the curvature of the human spine used to be considered bad, and now we know that it is very good; the “backward-wired” retina has even fairly recently been promulgated by Richard Dawkins as proof of faulty design (and therefore not design at all, but just random mutation happening to produce an eye that can see), when eye specialists recognize that it is actually optimal design, etc., etc.

    So, in short, I have no problem with facts; I do have problems with the story-telling that goes on, disguised as fact.

    Another example – just today my kids were watching a video of “The Magic School Bus”, and it dealt with astronomy. The science teacher, Ms. Frizzle, said that comets, meteors and asteroids were bits left over after the planets had formed. Fact? How does she know? Was she there? Did she see it? What observations did she make? what experiments did she perform, in order to verify that statement of fact? It’s not fact; it’s story-telling. What is (or may be) fact, is that comets, meteors and asteroids appear to be made of the same stuff that some of the planets are made from — rock, metal, dust. It may (or may not) be a reasonable assumption that these things all had a common origin, but it is merely an assumption and story-telling to say that they certainly (or 99.99% certainly) are.

    Currently, children are taught that the Big Bang is the cause that formed the universe, and that accretion is what formed the planets around the solar system, and many other “facts”; yet you have evolutionary scientists that point out very serious flaws with these hypotheses and theories, and say it couldn’t have worked that way, because of x, y, or z. So, it’s not fact at all, but story-telling and hypotheses masquerading as fact. Big distinction.

  12. I think we’ll have to disagree on this. Yes of course there are problems and flaws with scientific theories and ideas. At the risk of sounding trite, nothing is perfect. However, science realizes this and that is why ideas are always open for discussion, nothing is set it stone, and things can be modified (a point proven by your own words in the Richard Dawkins example). It is a self-improving formula because we know that we do not have everything right, and though it may sometimes wander off course or fall prey to facets of humans like hubris or self-conceited story telling, it is built in such a way that it will make it back. Saying there are serious flaws in the theory of evolution I would argue, though yes there are flaws, but it is a much more viable alternative than basing our world around young earth creationism. Evolution is a theory, but in the scientific world that is defined as ” a coherent group of tested general propositions, commonly regarded as correct, that can be used as principles of explanation and prediction for a class of phenomena.” Evolution explains so much about our past, and it predicts changes in the future. It is a theory in much the same way gravity is a theory, something commonly referred to as a fact.

    Jonathan L.

    • I’ll give you the “commonly regarded as correct” bit for evolution; however, many evolutionists have admitted that most scientists believe evolution because most scientists believe evolution (similar to the “global warming consensus” of the past year or so, that has been discovered to be fraudulent); and more than a few have admitted that they believe in evolution because the only alternative is special creation, and they refuse to admit that possibility at the outset. As such, it is a religion masquerading as science, and not properly science itself, since one of the possibilities is not admitted as a possible answer, no matter what.

      I’d like to know what tests the general propositions of evolution has passed, on its way to becoming a theory.

      However, I think you missed my point in the “backward wired retina” and other examples. These are not just examples of how the theory of evolution or theories surrounding evolution messed up and had to be changed to accommodate new facts (which happens and is good science), but instead, are several concrete examples (and I’m sure I could give more, if I spent the time to research it) of how evolution predicted incorrectly, whilst creationists would have expected/predicted these thing correctly.

  13. I’m lacking time to keep at this with school, work, writing, and other things so I’m afraid you’re going to have to take me bowing out right now due to an inability to give your replies properly formulated answers. However, I do believe you are acting on a confirmation bias, an extreme one; you’re also latching onto some things that science has gotten wrong (though I have yet to see proof as to the human eye example you used) and you’re disregarding the many, many things evolution gets correct that creationism not only doesn’t explain, but can’t explain. Again, sorry for the succinctness; extremely limited time of a college student hampers some of my comings and goings on here.

    Jonathan L.

    • Very well, I understand. But if you want to come back to this in the future and get more detailed, I’m still subscribed to the comments, so we can pick it up again.

      However, I’m merely using your own arguments — that evolution correctly predicts things that creationism doesn’t — and showing that the reverse is actually true. Maybe I shouldn’t expect a “theory” to be perfect and explain everything w/o flaws (I don’t really), but when the theory of evolution gets so many things so very wrong, then you have to wonder whether it’s the auxiliary arguments that are flawed, or the main ones. For example, Darwin didn’t know about DNA, and in fact, acceptance of his original view of evolution hindered scientists’ acceptance of Mendelian genetics which is now accepted to be true (and Mendel was a creationist), delaying that area of science by probably a decade or more. Eventually, evolutionists were forced to submit to it and accept it as true, and then they adopted it into their evolutionary philosophy, but believed that random chance and mutation were the driving forces, and therefore there should be lots of random errors and accumulated junk in our DNA. The existence of large amounts of junk DNA has been the prevailing and accepted model for probably the past four or five decades, and only now that scientists are actually testing that hypothesis (as good scientists should have done at the outset, rather than just assume it to be so), they are finding out that this is wrong. In fact, if they were honest, Haldane’s Dilemma forces them to accept that evolution can’t be true, if the so-called “junk DNA” is not actually junk. So, acceptance of evolution has cumulatively set back the field of genetics probably at least 50 years, if not more.

      As far as the “backward wired retina” argument, Richard Dawkins used that in his recent book, “The Greatest Show on Earth” [http://creation.com/mueller-cells-backwardly-wired-retina-v-dawkins].

      And I’d love to know what are the many, many things evolution gets correct that creationism doesn’t and can’t explain.

      • Oh, and before you answer that, yes I know they’re a sub-species of the fox as well that they were engineered by artificial selection rather than natural; this is just me wanting to hear a creationist’s perspective on them.

      • [Sorry to take so long in answering, but I've been moving, so have been busy with boxes, and also not had internet for a few days.]

        Yes, I’ve read one story about them recently (I think it was sibfoxes, anyway – sounds like the same story), but I don’t see what the problem would be from a creationist perspective. After all, Biblical creationists believe that God created “kinds” of animals (baramin) which may be more broadly or narrowly defined, but probably don’t correspond to most species or even genera but possibly families; and two unclean animals of each “kind” were brought aboard the ark, and from this single pair, all the different species of each “kind” came about. In this, creationists believe more in “evolution” (change in allele frequency over time) than evolutionists do, because we see more change happening more quickly than evolutionary time requires — we see no problem with the great cats speciating into lions, tigers, etc., in just a few thousand years, nor with the dog kind speciating into wolves, coyotes, dingoes, domesticated dogs, foxes, etc.

        In fact, it is evolutionists who are surprised at the speed at which separated animals speciate. These wild foxes were tamed in just a few generations; dogs were likely tamed in a similar way, and this could happen just a few thousand years ago, although I bet that the evolutionary scenario of dogs being tamed from the wild happened over the course of a thousand years perhaps tens of thousands of years ago.

        However, in all cases of speciation, it involves a *loss* of information from the gene pool, rather than a *gain* of information. As an example: how many times would you have to cross two Chihuahuas in order to breed large dogs such as Great Danes? Answer: you couldn’t, because the information for large size has been lost in the genes of the Chihuahuas. However, nobody doubts that Chihuahuas and Great Danes originally came from the same general pool of ancestors, the domesticated dog; and the dog originally came from a general canine kind.

        For a more professional take on this concept, you can read this article from Creation Ministries International.

      • This is to Kathy: Thank you for your clear writing. I have found the discussion with you and Johnathan very exciting. (I know, I don’t get out much.) Do you have a blog? I would like more information and resources from you on some writing I am doing. Thank you for sharing your thinking with us.

      • Doreen,

        Thank you! Yes, I do have a blog, but I don’t write much on it nowadays [but if I ever get a bug to write, I have an outlet for it ;-)]. My blog is http://KatsyFGA.wordpress.com ; I have written a few things on creation vs. evolution if you want to search for a specific on-topic post you want to comment on, or you can just leave a comment on any random post, and I’ll get an email notification of it (don’t use too many links or it may go to spam, which I almost never check, since I’m not actively blogging), and then I’ll comment back to you.

        Just by way of “cutting out the middle man”, you can go to creation.com and search their database of thousands of articles primarily written about creation, evolution and theistic evolution, but also dealing with other topics that tangentially touch on Biblical creation, such as, “Is the Genesis version of the Flood taken from the Babylonian myth of Gilgamesh?” That is my “go to” website for any question I have about evolution vs. creation.

  14. This was an interesting article, written by a former homosexual. He says he was 100% gay, even intending on marrying his partner of 9 years; and that much if not all of the outward appearance of most homosexuals is completely false — saying that “gay” is a complete contradiction in terms, since he like most homosexuals was the opposite of “gay” (meaning happy).

So, what do you think?

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