Aug 20 2015

The Myths of Vandana Shiva

Vandana Shiva is one of the loudest voices speaking out against GM (genetic modification) technology and modern agriculture. She is an ideologue and a crusader, which unfortunately means that she feels free to play loose with the facts and the science as long as it serves her narrative. Michael Specter did an excellent article about Shiva a year ago for The New Yorker. This quote puts much of Shiva’s propaganda into perspective:

“There are two trends,” she told the crowd that had gathered in Piazza Santissima Annunziata, in Florence, for the seed fair. “One: a trend of diversity, democracy, freedom, joy, culture—people celebrating their lives.” She paused to let silence fill the square. “And the other: monocultures, deadness. Everyone depressed. Everyone on Prozac. More and more young people unemployed. We don’t want that world of death.”

To her, GMOs are part of a world of death, while opposing GMOs is all about joy and freedom. She is anti-corporate, anti-West, anti-globalization, and anti-technology. Her campaign is largely one of lies and misinformation. She would also apparently rather have people starve than eat GMOs.

As reason.com reports:

Ten thousand people were killed and 10 to 15 million left homeless when a cyclone slammed into India’s eastern coastal state of Orissa in October 1999. In the aftermath, CARE and the Catholic Relief Society distributed a high-nutrition mixture of corn and soy meal provided by the U.S. Agency for International Development to thousands of hungry storm victims. Oddly, this humanitarian act elicited cries of outrage.

Shiva called on India to reject the donated food. She wanted to take food away from the hungry and homeless cyclone victims, rather than have them “poisoned” with GMOs. This motivated Ronald Bailey from reason.com to call Shiva, “One of the World’s Worst People.”

By the way, this anti-corporate crusader for the poor makes $40,000 per speaking engagement. 

Recently Shiva wrote an article titled: 5 GMO Myths Debunked by Vandana Shiva. What she is actually doing is “rebunking” her own myths. Here we can see a huge red flag for an ideologue – they need to have every fact align with their narrative, rather than admitting that complex topics are complex. For example, anti-vaxers could admit that vaccines work but still oppose them because of alleged side effects. Global warming deniers could admit humans are warming the planet but oppose certain proposed solutions, and Shiva could admit that industrial farming is efficient, even if she opposes the methods for other reasons.

Myth #1: The Green Revolution

Right off, however, with myth #1 she makes the extraordinary claim that the green revolution actually decreased crop yields in India.

The Green Revolution did not save India from famine, as the proponents of Industrial Agriculture and GMO technology would argue, in fact the Green Revolution reduced India’s production. For more information about the Green Revolution read, Nothing Green in the Green Revolution in India Today.

Even looking at the data she cites, however, reveals her shenanigans. She writes:

His study comparing pre and post Green Revolution performance showed that the rate of growth of aggregate crop production was higher in the years before the Green Revolution was introduced (1967-68) than after it.

The comparison is not between yield but the rate of increase in yield. Yield still increased after the Green Revolution, but (she claims) for some crops not as fast. However if you look at the table on her article you will notice a couple of things. The period before the Green Revolution is 15 years, while after is 10 years. I don’t see that an adjustment was made for this difference. Further, you can see that the land area increased more before the Green revolution than after – so yield increases prior to the Green Revolution were due to planting more land.

Land scarcity and increasing land costs, however, were a major limiting factor – increasing food production by increasing land use was simply not keeping up with population growth. As a recent review of the actual evidence claims, the Green Revolution had a dramatic impact.

Although populations had more than doubled, the production of cereal crops tripled during this period, with only a 30% increase in land area cultivated.

Myth #2: Golden Rice 

Anti-GMO activists hate golden rice, a GMO rice with added beta carotene, because it breaks just about every aspect of their narrative. The rice is not owned by any corporation, but is a humanitarian project. It has nothing to do with pesticides. There is no issue with cross-contamination. The crop is not for the benefit of western corporations. The sole purpose of golden rice is to reduce vitamin A deficiency in the developing world, which currently causes 80,000 deaths a year and half a million children to go blind.

Here is Shiva’s pathetic attempt to oppose this potentially very useful technology:

Here is our analysis establishing that our indigenous biodiversity and knowledge is far superior than Golden Rice to address malnutrition. Syngenta owns Golden Rice. It’s promotion as the fruits of public sector research are a blatant lie and an attempt to mislead people across the world.

Further, the Golden Rice paper had to be retracted, any fabricated claims made based on the paper do not stand.

First, vitamin A deficiency is a problem for more than just India. Further, the idea that planting gardens is going to solve the problem is ridiculous. There are plenty of poor people in developing regions of the world who do not have the land for even a small garden. Attempts to address vitamin A deficiency by providing fruits and vegetable and distributing vitamin A supplements have been ongoing. While they are helpful, they are nowhere near addressing the problem. Vitamin A enriched rice would be another tool to address this issue.

This type of argument is similar to the anti-fluoride crowd arguing that we don’t need fluoride in water because people can just brush their teeth.

Regarding Syngenta and golden rice, Syngenta has this to say:

Although Syngenta has a significant interest in seeing the humanitarian benefits from this technology become reality, we have no commercial interest in Golden Rice whatsoever. Golden Rice is an exclusively humanitarian project.

And the Golden Rice Humanitarian Board confirms:

Seed from these plants and performance data were donated to the Golden Rice Humanitarian Board.

Shiva has absolutely no information to contradict these facts – Syngenta donated their expertise and has no commercial stake. If she did have evidence she would have linked to it.

Finally, she repeats the claim of the anti-GMO crowd that the recent study showing that golden rice has the potential to provide clinically relevant amounts of vitamin A is not valid because of ethical concerns. This is nonsense, however. Ethical concerns were raised by anti-GMO activists in an attempt to discredit the study because they did not like the results. A thorough review found, however:

The reviews found no evidence of health or safety problems in the children fed golden rice; they also concluded that the study’s data were scientifically accurate and valid. Indeed, Souvaine’s letter to the USDA stresses that the results “have important public health and nutrition implications, for China and other parts of the world.”

There were issues with the consent form, which is unfortunate, but they don’t invalidate the results.

Myth #3: Cancer and Suicide

She next writes:

The epidemic of cancer has affected the farmers of Punjab because of pesticides. It has affected farmers of West UP. In a single village, our recent field survey revealed that there were 100 cancer victims. The farmers are getting into debt and committing suicide buying the pesticides and the citizens are dying of cancer because of the same poisons.

The issue of cancer and pesticides is a complex one, but there is no evidence for an “epidemic of cancer.” Animal data shows that some pesticides are potentially carcinogenic, but this does not prove that they actually cause cancer in people. Causing cancer in rats in high doses is a pretty low threshold.

Epidemiological data is mixed but mostly negative. There are now five pesticides classified as possibly or probably carcinogenic. However, experts disagree about the evidence and some are highly critical of these designations.

If we take a very cautious approach, which is what the industry does, it is prudent to protect farm workers from exposure to pesticides with protective gear and good practice. The amounts that consumers are exposed to in food is negligible and there is no evidence of any negative health effects (and if you’re worried, just thoroughly wash your food).

Further, organic farming allows for pesticide use, just “natural” pesticides with the completely unwarranted assumption that natural pesticides are safe. In fact, organic pesticides may be more toxic and worse for the environment than synthetic ones, but they are given a regulatory pass because they are “natural.”

The claim that GMOs are linked to increased farmer indebtedness and suicide is a complete myth manufactured by Vandana Shiva. I address the claim here.

Myth #4: Safety

She writes:

While the literature on biosafety is vast and I was appointed as a member of the expert group on biosafety by UNEP to create the framework for the International Law on Biosafety, two recent publications show that the assumption of safety and “substantial equivalence” is false.

One study is from the Norwegian Government, another by an Indian scientist from MIT who invented email.

We have been using GMOs for over 20 years now and no health issues have arisen. There is also no reason to suspect that the many different types of genetic changes broadly contained under GMO have any inherent health risk. GMOs are actually the most studied and regulated foods we have. Science and health organizations from the AAAS to the WHO have reviewed the evidence and found current GMOs and GM technology to be safe. 

Further, we have a 19 year GMO animal feeding study, looking at data from literally billions of animals, showing no negative health effects from consuming GMOs.

Against this mountain of safety data, Shiva cherry picks two studies. One is from Shiva Ayyadurai, the “Indian Scientist from MIT” who, it turns out, didn’t invent e-mail (but that’s another story). His “study” was actually a computer model which he says predicts GMO soy will contain high levels of formaldehyde. This claim has already been thoroughly debunked as utter nonsense.  I would also point out that genetic scientist Kevin Folta has offered to actually test Ayyadurai’s model by measuring formaldehyde levels in GMO soy, and the response from the MIT scientist has been deafening silence.

The review (not new research) commissioned by the Norwegian government is interesting. First, it is not a review of GMOs in general or GM technology but specifically of herbicide tolerant GMOs. It also does not conclude that they are not safe, only that we currently do not have sufficient evidence. Of course, what is “sufficient” evidence is completely subjective. Norway, to put it bluntly, is toward the extreme anti-GMO end of the spectrum. Their policy is:

Norway is one of the most restrictive countries with regard to the importation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and does not allow for GMO production. It has yet to approve an application for the import of foodstuffs that include GMOs. Norway applies the precautionary principle when vetting GMOs and in addition requires any user or importer of a GMO to show that the use is ethically and socially justifiable, requiring proof both that the GMO is not harmful and that its use will benefit society.

So they set the bar very high. There are many flaws with their review. For example, they cite as a criticism the fact that GMO studies often compare GMOs to standard farming practice, and not to organic farming or other methods. This is not an actual criticism, in my opinion. If you are trying to control for the GM trait as an isolated variable then that is the exact comparison you want to make. You don’t want to compare it to farming practices that differ in a variety of ways.

The report also relies upon discredited research, such as the infamous Seralini study.

The Norwegian review is therefore an outlier from an anti-GMO country with serious flaws, and is also limited in scope, and really can only cite the precautionary principle for justification in the end. This is the best that Shiva can do.

Myth #5: GMO and Science

Here we get a short naked assertion from Shiva:

The GMO story is not one of science, but of an unscientific and illegal takeover of our seeds and food.

She links only to her own documentary, not any actual evidence. She is not even making an argument here, just an assertion – restating her narrative.

Conclusion

The facts do not paint a flattering picture of Vandana Shiva. She is a fanatical ideologue who appears to have no problem spreading misinformation, making up stories to suit her needs, cherry picking data, and weaving conspiracy theories.

Her latest article is clearly nothing but sloppy propaganda. She makes no attempt to look fairly at the evidence and the arguments. She fails to cite evidence that substantiates her claims. And yet she remains the darling of the anti-GMO movement, which speaks volumes about that movement.

517 responses so far

517 Responses to “The Myths of Vandana Shiva”

  1. michaelegnoron 20 Aug 2015 at 9:39 am

    Steven,

    I agree with you that the anti-GMO folks are generally wrong on the science. GMO’s do pose some risks, but overall the benefits are much greater.

    But you misunderstand the context of the GMO debate.

    People in the Third World have been the victims of crimes against humanity perpetrated by the scientific community over the past century. Malthusian junk science exacerbated catastrophic famines in India in the 1880’s, DDT-hysteria junk science deprived poor countries with the tools to fight malaria just when the West had used DDT to defeat the disease, and hundreds of millions of people in China and India have been sterilized or aborted or had their fundamental right to privacy violated by “overpopulation” scientists peddling modern day Malthusianism.

    Many folks in the underdeveloped countries view scientists the way Jews view Nazis–they don’t care what they’re peddling. They don’t trust them.

    The scientific community bears a large part of the blame for anti-GMO hysteria.

  2. Steven Novellaon 20 Aug 2015 at 10:28 am

    Michael,

    I understand that the developing world has often been a victim of the industrialized world, including colonization, bigotry, and I would include cultural assaults such as missionaries.

    However, if you have to cite a 130 year old pseudoscience, I just don’t think that is terribly relevant today. I agree that DDT was taken from the developing world based on pseudoscientific fearmongering – the exact kind of thing that the skeptical community opposes. In fact, anti-GMO sentiments are very similar to the anti-DDT hysteria. I also don’t think that what is happening in China in terms of overpopulation can be blamed on western science.

    It is a complicated sociological issue. The behavior of large corporations, especially in the developing world, is certainly part of the picture. I don’t think you can blame the scientific community for this one, though.

  3. MikeLewinskion 20 Aug 2015 at 10:49 am

    The advice to wash pesticides off food doesn’t apply to glyphosate when used on Roundup Ready crops. The crops absorb it (and partially metabolize glyphosate to AMPA). Nonetheless, the allowed daily intake is set far below the “no observed effect levels” (there’s another discussion for another time about microbiome effects, which activists wield as if it were a trump card).

    One of my favorite pieces on Shiva is Activism and the gift of delusion:

    Lynas, in the New Yorker story, arrives at an analysis of Shiva that is true for many strident activists like her. “When you call somebody a fraud, that suggests the person knows she is lying… I don’t think Vandana Shiva necessarily knows that. But she is blinded by her ideology and her political beliefs. That is why she is so effective and so dangerous.”

    What Lynas is saying, when stripped of polite language, is that Vandana Shiva is deluded….

    Activism is not filled with the deluded, but it has a special place for them. They do well there because the balance of neutrality does not provide the intensity and drive that a powerful conviction does. An open mind is useless to a revolutionary. An open mind cannot convert other open minds. Activists have to stay with a cause for years, for decades, as the science changes, as the circumstances change, as the economy, people and the times change. They cannot do this if they have not given themselves completely to an idea. It is the belief that makes them special and sustains them. To allow even a germ of doubt is to demean their whole lives.

    In the world of activism, delusion is a gift. The great and the ordinary are separated by this gift. Most of the time activists are up against very powerful and violent forces driven by self-interest, greed or a set of delusions. Such forces cannot be opposed merely by good intentions, a laughable thought. An indestructible conviction, and the imagination of messianic purpose, is the equal and opposite force against the extraordinary resources of, say, capitalism or nationalism. Without activists who are so strung we would be at the mercy of thugs.

    I’ve met activists who knowingly lied and admitted it when confronted. They have their justifications, as indicated in the last paragraph. The perception of being the underdog in an asymmetric war against forces of evil justifies everything.

    In this, the gift of delusion of activists is also a gift to skeptics. Vandana Shiva keeps on giving.

  4. Steven Novellaon 20 Aug 2015 at 11:04 am

    Yes, I have to completely disagree with the justification, that deluded activists are needed to protect us from thugs. What the author is missing is that these deluded activists become thugs. Anti-GMO activists are absolute thugs – vandalizing research, smearing researchers, engaging in misinformation campaigns, keeping useful technologies from the poor and malnourished, etc.

    What we need are evidence-based regulations. The rule of law can protect us from thugs. We also need credible watchdogs – people who have credibility because they engage in due diligence, they don’t lie or exaggerate, they respect the truth. It’s not easy, but it really is the only way.

    Otherwise we are stuck between opposing thugs.

  5. MaryMon 20 Aug 2015 at 11:11 am

    Just last week she was peddling misinformation on “terminator” plants, again. She knows better, and is quite capable of understanding the difference between male sterile plants and GURT.

    https://twitter.com/keithkloor/status/632013632709259264

  6. Willyon 20 Aug 2015 at 12:50 pm

    I’m off topic here, but I’m not sure how else to get my question to you, Dr. Novella. In today’s Wall Street Journal, the opinion section had a piece by two fellows decrying the poor quality of scientific research. In this case, it was about funding for the National Institutes of Health. The piece is entitled “Getting the Bogus Studies Out of Science” and it is here (there’s a paywall no doubt): http://www.wsj.com/articles/getting-the-bogus-studies-out-of-science-1440024409

    The comment thread is full of comments from people who think science is a racket and it’s also full of references to AGW, despite the focus of the article being NIH funding. I have a strong sense that the WSJ policy is to generate distrust of science as a way of attacking AGW, and, to a lesser degree, evolution. It is shocking how many readers of one of the nation’s premier papers reject evolution.

    I have not either the expertise nor background to make cogent comments on the WSJ thread; I’d just be labeled a shill and end up swapping insults. Perhaps this opinion piece might be an opportunity for you to do another post on science integrity with a slant on how pieces like this get misunderstood?

    On topic: Vandana Shiva. Sad. Red meat for folks like Zen Honeycutt, Jeffery Smith, and The Food Babe. I know a number of people who are organic purists and they do lap up droppings from people like Shiva. It’s a real problem because her message resonates with “wholesomeness” in defense of the “helpless little people” being ruined by evil corporations.

  7. michaelegnoron 20 Aug 2015 at 1:29 pm

    Steven,

    Obviously imperialism and exploitation have a lot to do with distrust of the West, the scientific community has significant responsiblity for the atrocities that have fostered the distrust.

    The overpopulation hysteria of the 1960’s and 1970’s (eg Ehrlich and Holdren) had quite a bit of influence in China (and India and Peru).

    Wikipedia:

    […the Chinese government observed the global debate over a possible overpopulation catastrophe suggested by organisations such as Club of Rome and Sierra Club. While visiting Europe in 1978 one of the top Chinese officials, Song Jian, got in touch with influential books of the movement, The Limits to Growth and A Blueprint for Survival. With a group of mathematicians, Song determined the “correct” population of China to be 700 million. A plan was prepared to reduce China’s population to the desired level by 2080, with the one child policy as one of the main instruments of social engineering.[18] In spite of some criticism inside the party, the plan was officially adopted in 1979]

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One-child_policy

    The scientific comunity obviously has done wonderful things for the world, and for the underdeveloped nations as well. Borlaug is a fine example.

    But there is a very dark side to science as public policy. Malthusianism, eugenics, pesticide hysteria, and one child policies have been among the most horrific crimes against humanity during the past two centuries. Scientists (and physicians) need to be more honest and more vocal about the sins of their profession, and we need to be more skeptical about modern science particularly as it relates to politics.

    The global warming issue, for example, bears striking similarities to eugenics, in the sense that it is claimed to be a scientific consensus, people who question it are ridiculed and ostracized, and radical public policy changes are demanded on the basis of the science.

    No true skeptic would accept that, based on the history of science and public policy over the past couple of centuries.

  8. mumadaddon 20 Aug 2015 at 3:05 pm

    The global warming issue, for example, bears striking similarities to eugenics, in the sense that it is claimed to be a scientific consensus, people who question it are ridiculed and ostracized, and radical public policy changes are demanded on the basis of the science.

    This is brilliant. In trying to be fair, I considered whether it’s possible to politicize science and thought it didn’t seem particularly unreasonable. But then I considered all the implications of manufacturing a scientific consensus, the shady back hand dealings, lobbying, conspiracies etc., and it seemed increasingly unlikely.

    Then I realised that Michael is associated with the Disco-Tute, an organisation that deals in just these tactics. You tell us, Dr. Discovery Institute, how easy is it manipulate the scientific consensus and and masquerade a political agenda as a scientific controversy?

    🙂

  9. steve12on 20 Aug 2015 at 3:22 pm

    michaelegnor:

    Does the partisan hackery worldview ever stop?

    The notion that distrust of the West in the 3rd world stems from common American right-wing bogey men like DDT “hysteria” and overpopulation “hysteria” is insane.

    Western imperialism is 100^100 more times responsible than your examples for said distrust. So much so that your examples have had essentially no effect. It’s like a person who’s 10 million dollars in debt deciding to brew their own coffee at home to save $. It’s absurd frankly.

    I can’t imaging what it would be like to see every single as something to be shoehorned into one’s political philosophy. It’s that much sadder when your philosophy is based on a facile bifurcation error of thought. It must be like living life in black and white. Intellectual life can be much richer when you think for yourself rather than letting the Republican party do it for you.

  10. michaelegnoron 20 Aug 2015 at 3:46 pm

    @steve12:

    Population control schemes have had massive impact on people in India, China and Peru. Millions of people have been involuntarily sterilized, and tens of millions of children have been aborted against the will of their families. The mandatory sterilization policies in India caused an electoral earthquake in India in the 1970’s.

    Malaria is a plague for people in underdeveloped countries, and they know that the same pesticides that Westerners used to eradicate malaria in the West have been denied to them. 1-2 million poor people die of malaria each year, and hundreds of millions are infected. All of them are in underdeveloped countries who have been the victim of anti-DDT junk science.

    These programs–forced birth control and abortions and denial of pesticides– are genocide. You may not care about it, but people in underdeveloped countries do. They are not stupid. They know scientists had major roles in these crimes.

  11. steve12on 20 Aug 2015 at 4:33 pm

    The question is not whether these things were good or not. It’s the size of their impact on 3rd world attitudes.

    The problem is that they are negligible compared to COLONIALISM. When you’re talking about their resentment the first thing that comes to mind is DDT and population policies???!!!!

    The West stole their land, stole their culture, stole their language, stole their natural resources – but what they’re REALLY mad about is the DDT. You see, that’s the horseshit right there. That’s the political hackery that drives rational people insane.

    You = Shiva. You just chose a different BS political philosophy to perversely twist everything around.

  12. steve12on 20 Aug 2015 at 4:43 pm

    And what was the role of Western scientists in population control policies? China instituted that policy because of environmentalist / scientist.

    That’s crazy. China doesn’t care about environmental concerns. But you have to hit all your familiar right wing targets like environmentalists even is they have nothing to do with the topic at hand. Political philosophy trumps reality.

    michaelegnor = shiva

  13. michaelegnoron 20 Aug 2015 at 4:47 pm

    @Steve12:

    Colonialism was (and is) a horrible thing–a crime of aggression and too often of extermination. And it obviously plays a big role in distrust of the West in India.

    But the scientific community has blood on our hands, in many ways associated with colonialism. The One Child Policy, forced abortions and sterilization, and the deliberate denial of pesticides to combat insect-borne diseases ranks up with the worst crimes of colonialists.

    Why do you defend such science?

  14. michaelegnoron 20 Aug 2015 at 4:50 pm

    @steve12:

    Why are you so quick to condemn crimes committed by men in military uniforms, but so quick to defend crimes committed by men in lab coats?

  15. BBBlueon 20 Aug 2015 at 6:31 pm

    What’s this “scientific community” I hear people talk about as if it was some monolithic organization of like-minded individuals? Other than a commitment to use scientific methods and evidence to describe the world in which they live, they are a very diverse and competitive lot who relish vigorous debate as a means of advancing knowledge.

    Those who would claim that the “scientific community” is responsible for anything often seem to do so in an attempt to denigrate the role of science in general. Just because commercial or government interests enlist scientists who are sympathetic to their cause or specific groups of scientists advocate for a particular point of view does not mean they speak or act on behalf of scientists everywhere.

  16. Willyon 20 Aug 2015 at 7:01 pm

    Good grief! I’ve just lost considerable respect for Dr. Egnor’s opinions. If he really wants to go back in history to examine bad ideas, perhaps we could highlight just a few of the things the Catholic Church has engaged in over the centuries. I won’t go to the trouble of listing these well-known offenses since I assume even Dr Egnor could rattle many of them off the tip of his tongue. To turn Dr. Novella’s post into basically an anti-science screed is, well, ridiculous, not to mention disgusting. Perhaps Dr. Egnor can explain how his colonialism ideas have persuaded so many Americans to oppose to GMOs and how Greenpeace activism and propaganda in the Far East are related to Western oppression.

    A line about a pot and a kettle comes to mind.

  17. Willyon 20 Aug 2015 at 7:44 pm

    OK, I’m (just a bit) calmer.

    Dr. Egnor’s posts are. . . er, remarkable. His worldview certainly clouds his better judgment. To blame “science” for colonialism, eugenics, population control efforts… is just ludicrous. As BBBlue asked, just who in the hell are these nefarious bastards in this apparently monolithic “science community”. And here I was thinking it was politicians and crackpots that hijacked (and often misunderstood or abused) ideas originating in scientific thought, but, no, I guess science is the real driver of the train. Who knew?

    I also must note, that, in my time following this blog, I’ve seen few, if any, make outright mention (or hay out of) some of the outrageous misbehavior by the Church when posters like Dr. Egnor bring up subjects such as morals and where they originate (God or common sense?), yet Dr. Egnor fires both barrels against science when an opportunity arises. It’d be one thing to objectively describe some of the legitimate beefs of the Third World, but for our good doctor, he saw an opportunity to blast AGW and science in general and he jumped on it.

    This thread (and the entire blog in general) has been an educational eye-opener for me.

  18. tmac57on 20 Aug 2015 at 8:16 pm

    Steven Novella said- ” I agree that DDT was taken from the developing world based on pseudoscientific fearmongering – the exact kind of thing that the skeptical community opposes.”

    Steven, are you sure about this? Seems like skeptics have been down this road before, and that the story on DDT is much more complicated, and the so-called ‘ban’ based on fear mongering was a story pushed by the likes of Steve Milloy of ‘Junk Science’ infamy, who also is a climate science denier and second hand smoke apologist.

  19. michaelegnoron 20 Aug 2015 at 8:32 pm

    @BBBlue:

    [Other than a commitment to use scientific methods and evidence to describe the world in which they live, they are a very diverse and competitive lot who relish vigorous debate as a means of advancing knowledge.]

    Except for debating “consensus” science.

    [Just because commercial or government interests enlist scientists who are sympathetic to their cause or specific groups of scientists advocate for a particular point of view does not mean they speak or act on behalf of scientists everywhere]

    Actually, some of the people and organizations who do speak for scientists everywhere have some pretty ugly backgrounds. John Holdren is senior advisor to Obama on science and technology issues, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Co-Chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. Holdren in the 70’s and 80’s advocated involuntary sterilization and other genocidal programs and was deeply involved in the overpopulation crowd that influenced India and China to commit crimes against humanity.

    You disavowal of such evils would be more credible if it weren’t for the prominent positions that scientists who have championed such things hold in the scientific hierarchy today. Paul Ehrlich, one of Holdren’s cronies and co-authors, is another example.

  20. Willyon 20 Aug 2015 at 8:50 pm

    Dr. Egnor: If science isn’t decided by a consensus, what should be the basis for acknowledging validity?

  21. BBBlueon 20 Aug 2015 at 10:38 pm

    M-

    “Consensus science” is an artificial construct, it is not a thing to be debated. If the weight of evidence clearly supports a particular claim, some may refer to that as a consensus, but it only exists as long as new evidence allows.

    Scientists are humans too. You are commenting on human weaknesses and motives, not science.

  22. steve12on 20 Aug 2015 at 10:46 pm

    Egnor:

    “Why are you so quick to condemn crimes committed by men in military uniforms, but so quick to defend crimes committed by men in lab coats?”

    I in no way defended any crime. Please show me where I did (spoiler alert: I didn’t so don’t bother looking)

    What I AM quick to condemn is creating a false equivalency between the two by ignoring the vast difference in magnitude. Magnitude is important here, especially considering just how different it is.

    DDT is an afterthought compared to colonialism when it comes to third world mistrust of the West in the mind of all but right wing apparatchiks who need to constantly attack philosophically driven bogeymen, reality be damned. (One child has nothing to do with the West, so I’m simply ignoring it here).

  23. steve12on 20 Aug 2015 at 10:53 pm

    Forgot to refute your one child thing…

    Chinese leaders reading a Western papers doesn’t make your point. The point is mistrust of the West. The Chinese gov’t instituted those policies – not the West!

    And the idea that overpopulation can never again be a problem because someone was wrong in a previous projections is absurd. It’s almost as concluding AGW is wrong because there was once a theory about gloabal cooling in the 70s.

  24. michaelegnoron 20 Aug 2015 at 10:54 pm

    @Willy:

    There’s a simple and obvious criterion for settled (valid/consensus) science.

    Settled science is science that is no longer to object of research.

    Heliocentrism is settled science. The NSA does not fund heliocentrism vrs geocentrism research.

    That A binds to T in DNA is settled science. No one does research on that issue.

    If AGW is settled science, we should withdraw funding for AGW research. Why do research on science that is settled?

    Now of course climate scientists will say “the fact that the earth is warming and human CO2 causes it may be settled, but the details need research” etc.

    Fine. All research grant applications should itemize the issues to be investigated, with “settled” and “not settled” explicitly indicated for each issue.

    All settled issues should be unfunded. Only unsettled issues warrant funding. One could devise a scale for unpacking research proposals, and the current funding for the proposal would be reduced by the amount of settled science in the proposal.

    If AGW is settled science, then all research projects that measure climate variables should be defunded except those aspects of the projects that address unsettled issues.

    You would immediately see a remarkable drop in the “consensus” on AGW.

  25. michaelegnoron 20 Aug 2015 at 10:57 pm

    This approach to funding would have a great motto:

    “No Controversy? No Funding.”

    Catchy.

  26. michaelegnoron 20 Aug 2015 at 11:18 pm

    @Steve12:

    [What I AM quick to condemn is creating a false equivalency between the two by ignoring the vast difference in magnitude. Magnitude is important here, especially considering just how different it is.]

    Fine. There are 100 million missing women and girls in Asia. From NY Review of Books:

    “The compulsory measures to control the size of families which were introduced in 1979 may have been an important factor. In some parts of the country the authorities insisted on the “one-child family.” This restriction, given the strong preference for boys in China, led to a neglect of girls that was often severe. Some evidence exists of female infanticide. In the early years after the reforms, infant mortality for girls appeared to increase considerably. Some estimates had suggested that the rate of female infant mortality rose from 37.7 per thousand in 1978 to 67.2 per thousand in 1984.13 Even if this seems exaggerated in the light of later data, the survival prospects of female children clearly have been unfavorably affected by restrictions on the size of the family.”

    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/1990/dec/20/more-than-100-million-women-are-missing/

    A substantial portion of the 100 million missing women and girls is due to female selective abortion and infanticide. This disparity is largely due to restrictions on family size driven by scientific theories of overpopulation. Families who are allowed only one child usually select a boy. Girls are aborted, killed at birth, or die of neglect in childhood.

    This femicide over the past half-century–the largest in world history–is caused directly by scientists who have convinced governments to impose population control. There is a clear paper trail between population control zealots who embrace Malthusian science and the nationwide population control imposed in China and India. It has selectively killed tens of millions of girls.

    What to talk about magnitude, Steve12?

  27. michaelegnoron 20 Aug 2015 at 11:25 pm

    @Steve12:

    The slang for newborn girls in China is “maggots in the rice”.

    This is the direct result of public policy based on science–Malthusian science, which has been all the rage for two centuries and remains much in vogue today.

    Colonialism can’t hold a candle to science in terms of lethality.

    http://egnorance.blogspot.com/2013/08/maggots-in-rice.html

  28. michaelegnoron 20 Aug 2015 at 11:31 pm

    @steve12:

    [And the idea that overpopulation can never again be a problem because someone was wrong in a previous projections is absurd. It’s almost as concluding AGW is wrong because there was once a theory about gloabal cooling in the 70s.]

    “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

  29. mumadaddon 21 Aug 2015 at 1:51 am

    It’s all a smoke screen. If science contradicts your worldview, demonise it. That’s it.

  30. mumadaddon 21 Aug 2015 at 1:52 am

    A là Ben Stein and Expelled.

  31. RickKon 21 Aug 2015 at 6:14 am

    “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

    Easter Island

  32. The Other John Mcon 21 Aug 2015 at 8:05 am

    Godwin’s Law exhibited on a whole new level, which I didn’t think was even possible. Quite remarkable.

    Michael: who is the leader of science? Who are the key masters in supposed control of this monolithic structure? When the science-minions like myself receive orders from our master, about how to do science and what to think, would it be wise or foolish of us to disobey? Frankly, I fear disobedience to my science master because of the horrible things he could do to me and my family.

  33. michaelegnoron 21 Aug 2015 at 9:34 am

    @Other:

    Your science master is John Holdren, Obama’s science czar. Holdren advocated forced sterilization in the 1970’s and 1980’s.

    My argument is simple: resistance to good science (like GMO’s) is not entirely the result of mere ignorance and malice. Many people distrust science for good reasons. Scientists have done horrendously immoral things to millions of people, and many scientists–including scientists in high levels of influence in the profession and in government policy–continue to support policies that are actual crimes–the one child policy and the denial of DDT to malaria-striken regions are just a few examples.

    Good science would get a better public reception is scientists were willing to admit and make amends for the bad science.

    Your ‘what my profession does has nothing to do with me’ is deplorable.

  34. michaelegnoron 21 Aug 2015 at 9:43 am

    @Other:

    Another example:

    The Tuskegee Project used hundreds of black men with syphilis as guinea pigs for 40 years–from 1932 to 1972. The men were followed and experimented on and were deliberately denied medical treatment for their disease, so the manner in which they died could be studies scientifically.

    The Project was run by the US Public Health Service, at the federal level. It was approved by the highest levels of the scientific community. The results of the study were published and presented at meetings regularly over four decades–the nature of the study was obvious, and tens of thousands of scientists and doctors read the journal articles and attended the meetings and listened to the talks and nodded and agreed.

    Virtually none of the thousands of scientists and doctors spoke out or objected in any way. A very few complaints were made over 40 years–they were dismissed out of hand.

    The Project was ended in 1972 by a whistleblower who contacted the press. Many scientists continued to defend it.

    What occurred at Tuskegee was a crime. It was deliberate homicide in the name of science. It had the approval of the highest levels of the scientific community and was tolerated and endorsed by thousands of scientists.

    Do you wonder, Other, why folks might not trust scientists?

  35. The Other John Mcon 21 Aug 2015 at 9:58 am

    “Good science would get a better public reception is scientists were willing to admit and make amends for the bad science”

    You know how I learned about the Tuskegee experiments? In my science classes, and in my federal govt research ethics training, as prime examples of terrible and unequivocally Bad Science. and as official policy is never to be repeated.

    Science has no problem admitting mistakes and correcting them; doing so is it’s bread and butter. What is the error correcting machinery in your belief system? What major atrocities and ethical violations of religion are you happy to discuss (and were taught to you BY THAT RELIGION as examples of bad behavior and religion-run-amok)? What historically-terrible mistakes of your religion does your religion teach you to never repeat again, as official policy?

  36. steve12on 21 Aug 2015 at 10:00 am

    “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

    “Fine. There are 100 million missing women and girls in Asia. From NY Review of Books:”

    I’m well aware. What the CHINESE (i.e., NOT THE WEST) GOVT DID is a horrific crime. Scientists didn’t do that!!! Why can’t you understand that?

    And again, my criticism was comparing colonialism vs. science in reasons as reasons for third world mistrust. They are not comparable. The former is SO MUCH GREATER than the latter that considering them comparable evinces a partisan political agenda rather than a good faith rational discussion. You’re essentially trying to sell me a product (conservatism) rather than talking to me like a human being with common sense. And I called you out on it.

    And then, as if there was any doubt, we get the perfunctory checklist: Obama, AGW, abortion, etc. Shallow, shallow, shallow.

    There is a content validity issue here, though – there are some potions of the Republican party platform that you did not mention – so get crackin!

  37. steve12on 21 Aug 2015 at 10:05 am

    And if we want to talk about Western meddling, how about the Catholic Church in, well, anywhere?

    Wanna discuss that Michael? Is tirelessly fighting to take away poor peoples’ options to control their family size a problem? Children they have no ability to feed and take care of? How many millions of kids have starved to death as a result of that.

    I think the one child policy indeed led to murdering of female babies. What the CHINESE GOV’T DID was horrific.

    Will you admit the same about the Catholic church’s meddling in Third World affairs over the past few hundred years?

  38. steve12on 21 Aug 2015 at 10:11 am

    Other JohnMc:

    Excellent point. It’s a federal crime (as you know) to do research w/o getting trained (every few years) on the sins of science, including the history and what’s appropriate now.

    When Egnor goes to mass do they present a slide show of kids starving to death in Haiti because the Catholic church has fought tirelessly to keep contraceptives out of the peoples’ hands?

  39. Bruceon 21 Aug 2015 at 10:17 am

    I can guarantee that the mistrust of the West has a lot more to do with many many other factors than people conducting appalling experiments under the umbrella of science. I am really curious as to which people in the developing world you know or what evidence you have that suggests science is a key driver in the mistrust of the west?

    As for the Tuskegee Project. It was disgusting, I agree, but led to the writing of regulations for studies involving human subjects and the need for informed consent? It is a very good example of science seeing its own boils and then directly lancing them and correcting itself.

    Your whole argument here is one big Godwin (as TOJM said) but you are also portraying a very patronising and paternalistic view of the developing world. You assume people who live there are not able to think for themselves and make decisions based on evidence. You are taking your own crusade against science and trying to shove it into the mouths of millions of Indians and Africans and Asians and South Americans.

  40. Willyon 21 Aug 2015 at 11:21 am

    Dr. Egnor: Nice dodge (or not). A consensus exists that human CO2 emissions impact climate. You don’t have to like that, but it’s true. The degree to which that impact occurs is not settled at all, unless you are learning about AGW from John Kerry. Much is not understood about our climate, hence funding continues. Who knows, maybe eventually the consensus will change, just like it did when continental drift was accepted. In the meantime, even Judith Curry and Richard Lindzen acknowledge that human CO2 emissions MIGHT have serious effects. It’s pretty hard to find a climate scientist who denies that human CO2 emissions cannot have an effect on climate. Hence, we have a C O N S E N S U S.

    Consensus exists that quantum mechanics, evolution, germ theory, atomic theory, etc are valid. They are still being studied and they are funded for research.

    Your reply to me, and your comments to others, demonstrate a lack of understanding as to what “science” even is. More than ever, I understand that being a physician is in no way equivalent to being a scientist.

    I see you continue to bash science for the actions of some scientists and many politicians. I look forward to your comments on the darker side of Catholic history.

    Please note that I did not use the term “settled”. You did so in order to distort my statement.

  41. steve12on 21 Aug 2015 at 11:30 am

    And while I’m at the Catholic Church – do you think Africans might resent the West (in the form of the Catholic church) spreading pseudoscience regarding condoms and AIDS? How’s that all going in Africa with the AIDS thing anyway? Only a million dying a year, right?

  42. michaelegnoron 21 Aug 2015 at 11:54 am

    Of course in 2015 science is free of ethical problems.

    What do you think of doctors and scientists negotiating over lunch about the sale of organs of children recently slaughtered for a fee, and joking about buying an expensive car with the proceeds, and admitting killing children who make it alive out of the womb?

    We’ve come a long way, ethics-wise.

  43. RickKon 21 Aug 2015 at 12:18 pm

    Michael said: “Your science master is John Holdren, Obama’s science czar. Holdren advocated forced sterilization in the 1970′s and 1980′s.”

    Now you’re getting your scientific interpretation from Glenn Beck? Why not go to the source?

    From what I see, he didn’t advocate forced sterilization, he explained various possible methods of population control and then quite clearly advocated making voluntary methods of birth control readily available.

    Michael, you once argued your “everyone should have all the children they want forever” position by using Singapore and Monaco as examples of how densely populated the world can get. Let me ask you, if you dropped a dome over Singapore and cut off all trade, would you consider the resulting consequences indicative of an over-population problem?

    The Earth is an island with no trading partners.

  44. steve12on 21 Aug 2015 at 12:40 pm

    “Of course in 2015 science is free of ethical problems.”

    No one made this argument.

    As for the rest of your hyperbole about killing kids, let me engage of some of my own:

    When it comes to killing people, I’ll put the Catholic Church up against Planned Parenthood et al. any day of the week, and you can define life as starting any time you like. Not close.

    And as we found in Ireland and elsewhere, they’re not too nice to kids after they come into this world either.

  45. Willyon 21 Aug 2015 at 1:14 pm

    Dr. Egnor: “Of course in 2015 science is free of ethical problems.”

    And just what does that have to do with anything? Has anyone here suggested, or even implied, that science is free of ethical problems? Is any field of human activity free of ethical problems? Is the priesthood free of ethical problems? Do the actions of some condemn an entire field? Virtually every comfort and convenience you enjoy in life, including your longevity, is owed to science.

    I’m still chuckling over your thought that consensus means that no further study is needed. Are you really Dr. Egnor or are you an undergrad posing Dr. Egnor?

  46. michaelegnoron 21 Aug 2015 at 2:53 pm

    This’ll help you clear up your confusion on the Catholic Church and AIDS:

    http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/column/the-catholic-church-and-hiv-and-aids-750/

    Funny thing to accuse the largest provider of healthcare for the poor in the world of not providing healthcare for AIDS.

    Regarding the condom canard, I can’t help but notice that AIDS is an entirely preventable disease. If you want to prevent it, read the Catholic Catechism, which is like a medical text for AIDS prevention. Synopsis: “sex with spouse, in heterosexual marriage, only”.

    Follow those rules, no AIDS.

    Heck of a lot better than condoms.

    Some years ago there was an international AIDS conference of physicans and scientists. Condoms were being recommended as a panacea for the general public by one of the speakers, and a member of the audience asked a question:

    “If your son or daughter wanted to have sex with a person with AIDS, which of the two options would you recommend: 1) Don’t. 2) Use a condom.

    Everyone of course said “don’t”.

    No one in their right mind would tell a loved one to go ahead and have sex with someone infected with a deadly venereal disease, and “don’t worry if you use a condom”.

    We would tell our loved one to keep their pants on, and not to make crazy choices.

    Telling people that the key to preventing AIDS is a rubber, and not chastity, is another crime against humanity.

  47. mumadaddon 21 Aug 2015 at 3:03 pm

    read the Catholic Catechism, which is like a medical text for AIDS prevention. Synopsis: “sex with spouse, in heterosexual marriage, only”.

    Follow those rules, no AIDS.

    Heck of a lot better than condoms.

    Of course. And anyone whose behaviour deviates from this is a sinner. Do you care about practical solutions, or are you more interested in making the world conform to your prescribed morality?

    And do you really think the origin of AIDS lies in sex outside marriage and/or with people of the same sex? Really?!

    Telling people that the key to preventing AIDS is a rubber, and not chastity, is another crime against humanity.

    You’re right, people should just learn to curb those nasty sexual impulses. I we push our fingers into our ears hard enough, we’ll overcome human nature and learn that we don’t need condoms to stem the spread of STDs.

  48. mumadaddon 21 Aug 2015 at 3:07 pm

    I read the article. Translation: we don’t want you to use practical measures to prevent getting infected–instead we want you to accept our doctrines and suppress your nature–but when you do get infected we’ll come and hold your hand while you die.

  49. mumadaddon 21 Aug 2015 at 3:13 pm

    Instead of building flood defences we should just tell the rivers that flooding is immoral. That’ll work.

  50. michaelegnoron 21 Aug 2015 at 3:17 pm

    @mumadadd:

    [Translation: we don’t want you to use practical measures to prevent getting infected–instead we want you to accept our doctrines and suppress your nature–but when you do get infected we’ll come and hold your hand while you die.]

    What an enlightened view. Africans have a “nature” that just can’t be suppressed. Dey jus’ gotta rut. Closer to apes, sorta. Giv’em lots o’ condoms, because they sure can’t be expected to behave like morally responsible human beings.

    You fit nicely in the scientific racism of the 19th and early 20th century.

    The Catholic view is that human beings–all human beings regardless of race–have equal inherent dignity and are capable of self-control and moral conduct.

  51. michaelegnoron 21 Aug 2015 at 3:21 pm

    @mumadadd:

    Answer this question: if your daughter had a guy she who she wanted to hook-up with for a night, and the guy had AIDS, would you say:

    1) “Go ahead sweetie. I know you can’t control yourself, so use a rubber!”

    or:

    2) Don’t. You’re better than that, and you’ll put your life in danger.

    Why give the public advice you wouldn’t give to your own family?

  52. steve12on 21 Aug 2015 at 3:23 pm

    HAHAHAHA oh God… (pun intended)

    “This’ll help you clear up your confusion on the Catholic Church and AIDS:
    http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/column/the-catholic-church-and-hiv-and-aids-750/
    Funny thing to accuse the largest provider of healthcare for the poor in the world of not providing healthcare for AIDS.”

    So if you buy a guy dinner you can steal his car? Only counting one side of the ledger is lying in my book. I never said the Catholics never did anything good. Ya gotta count both the good AND the bad.

    “Regarding the condom canard,”…

    Canard? Condoms prevent you from getting AIDS. What’s the canard?

    “… I can’t help but notice that AIDS is an entirely preventable disease. If you want to prevent it, read the Catholic Catechism, which is like a medical text for AIDS prevention. Synopsis: “sex with spouse, in heterosexual marriage, only”.

    This is the exact gun-to-the-head moralizing that makes the CAtholics such a wonderful little death machine. Obey OUR edicts on sexual morality and you won’t need contraception. The notion that one group’s sex obsession (call it what is) obviates the need for public health policy is absurd.

    Let me be clear (if crass): mind your own Fing business. People like sex – I like sex. I’ve had lots of it out of wedlock before I was married. No guilt. Why should I have to obey your sillY superstitions? Worse, why should the entire continent of Africa?

    “Follow those rules, no AIDS.
    Heck of a lot better than condoms.”

    No – why don’t YOU. It’s YOUR belief. People in Africa would prefer to have sex AND live.

    “Some years ago there was an international AIDS conference of physicans and scientists. Condoms were being recommended as a panacea for the general public by one of the speakers, and a member of the audience asked a question:
    “If your son or daughter wanted to have sex with a person with AIDS, which of the two options would you recommend: 1) Don’t. 2) Use a condom.
    Everyone of course said “don’t”.
    No one in their right mind would tell a loved one to go ahead and have sex with someone infected with a deadly venereal disease, and “don’t worry if you use a condom”.
    We would tell our loved one to keep their pants on, and not to make crazy choices.
    Telling people that the key to preventing AIDS is a rubber, and not chastity, is another crime against humanity.”

    W…T…F… This is such ridiculous tripe that… Holy Shit. Pun intended.

    So then we should set our public health system such abstinence is the rule. And if you break the rule, the penalty is death. Seems like a great plan to me! Let’s literally have people with bizarre religious sexual fetishes (because that’s what this obsession with chastity is, after all) run EVERYONE’s life, and literally sentence us to death should we not obey!

    Michael Egnor et al. trying to tell us all what to do with our genitalia: MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS.

  53. mumadaddon 21 Aug 2015 at 3:23 pm

    “What an enlightened view. Africans have a “nature” that just can’t be suppressed. Dey jus’ gotta rut. Closer to apes, sorta. Giv’em lots o’ condoms, because they sure can’t be expected to behave like morally responsible human beings. ”

    I’m sorry, what? Why on earth did you assume that I was talking about Africans and not just people in general? I wonder…

  54. mumadaddon 21 Aug 2015 at 3:29 pm

    Answer this question: if your daughter had a guy she who she wanted to hook-up with for a night, and the guy had AIDS, would you say:

    I wouldn’t want my daughter to have sex with someone with AIDS, even with a condom. Even though the odds of catching it when using a condom are pretty low, I think some irrational fears would kick in and I’d try to prevent it. And…. what’s your point? This somehow means that African should be expected to follow an entirely unrealistic moral code? Might I add – one imposed by paternalistic westerners who think they know best, while denying them practical measures that would drastically cut the number of infections without expecting them to defy human nature. Wait, this sounds familiar – what was it you were saying about DDT again?

  55. steve12on 21 Aug 2015 at 3:34 pm

    “What an enlightened view. Africans have a “nature” that just can’t be suppressed. Dey jus’ gotta rut. Closer to apes, sorta. Giv’em lots o’ condoms, because they sure can’t be expected to behave like morally responsible human beings.”

    You are vile Michael Egnor. You’re a lying, vile man. To accuse someone of being a racist with not a shred of evidence…disgusting.

  56. steve12on 21 Aug 2015 at 3:36 pm

    Fair’s Fair….

    Would you like to comment on the child rape scandal of the Catholic church Michael? I referred to it above.

    Can I take your silence as approval?

  57. mumadaddon 21 Aug 2015 at 3:44 pm

    Steve12,

    It was either a deliberate misconstrual of what I said in order to scope a cheap point, or a projection of his own bigotry.

  58. steve12on 21 Aug 2015 at 3:51 pm

    Mumadadd:

    You said nothing that could be reasonably construed that way. And either way, we should not tolerate that sort of nonsense. That’s a very serious accusation, anonymity or no.

  59. mumadaddon 21 Aug 2015 at 3:53 pm

    I actually didn’t think much of it, wasn’t particularly surprised. I would have been truly offended if you or anyone else here had accused me of racism though. All about prior expectations…

  60. steve12on 21 Aug 2015 at 4:01 pm

    You’re right – I should consider the source. I guess it is also his racist sterotype writing that I found offensive. It’s just all so horrible.

    I’m not hanging around for him to tell us why moving pedophiles around from pasture to pasture is OK. Though I’m sure there’s the usual excuse – the fact that there are also non Catholic child molesters, as if this is exculpatory

    He’s clearly a brainwashed religious zealot, so there’s no point in continuing with him.

  61. michaelegnoron 21 Aug 2015 at 4:34 pm

    @Steve12 and muma:

    [You are vile Michael Egnor. You’re a lying, vile man. To accuse someone of being a racist with not a shred of evidence…disgusting.]

    I’m laughing so hard it’s hard to type. I pointed out that your slur directed to Africans–that they have a “nature” that prohibits them from controlling their rutting and that dignity and self-control is not possible for them.

    You admit that that belief, if held, is racist. It’s a horrendous insult on Africans.

    You insist–insist–that you meant the slur to all of humanity. You meant that all humanity has a “nature” that prohibits them from controlling their rutting and that dignity and self-control is not possible for them.

    Well then you’re no racist, for sure. You hate and denigrate all men, regardless of race.

    Heh.

  62. michaelegnoron 21 Aug 2015 at 4:52 pm

    [That’s a very serious accusation, anonymity or no.]

    Yea. Angry SJW’s are combing the phone book right now looking for mumadadd’s address.

  63. mumadaddon 21 Aug 2015 at 5:03 pm

    “You insist–insist–that you meant the slur to all of humanity. You meant that all humanity has a “nature” that prohibits them from controlling their rutting and that dignity and self-control is not possible for them.”

    AIDS is spread through sex (plus some other vectors, which I guess don’t offend you as much). It is within people’s nature to have sex. People don’t make a rational choice to have sex in order to procreate, they have instincts and desires that cause them to seek out opportunities to have sex. People have sex. They enjoy it. Straight sex, gay sex, group sex. Sex sex sex.

    Get over it.

    “Well then you’re no racist, for sure. You hate and denigrate all men, regardless of race.”

    I hate and denigrate all men? I’m sure you meant “people” – you aren’t in any way bigoted, after all. You mean, because I acknowledge that people have sexual drives and desires, and act on them, and I don’t think that makes them sinful?

    You, on the other hand, don’t hate people – you just want them to shun their sexual drives unless they are expressed within the confines of your prescribed set of rules, which were gleaned from a 2000 year old book?

  64. steve12on 21 Aug 2015 at 5:03 pm

    Wow…. Michael Egnor, esteemed neurosurgeon and childish internet troll.

    Lying about what people on random blogs say so that he can call them racist.

    Astonishing.

  65. steve12on 21 Aug 2015 at 5:04 pm

    should be what people SAY on random blogs

  66. steve12on 21 Aug 2015 at 5:08 pm

    It’s also weird. This isn’t a conversation that took place in a bar. It’s all right up there ^, every word.

    We just plain ole’ never said it.

    And you just plain ole’ lied.

    What a petulant child.

  67. michaelegnoron 21 Aug 2015 at 5:14 pm

    I get the funniest replies when I point out that arguments of that sort are implicitly racist.

    I was in a public debate on abortion a while ago and I pointed out that Planned Parenthood preferentially sites their abortion clinics in minority neighborhoods.

    One enraged pro-abort fellow in the audience stood up to challenge me. He proclaimed ‘we don’t put our clinics in those neighborhoods because they’re minority–we put them there because they’re poor!’

    Pointing out racism in the pro-abort/scientism crowd always makes them nuts (because it has a vein of truth), and it makes them say even more stupid things.

    Mumadadd and Steve12’s insistence that they meant to denigrate the dignity of all humanity, not just blacks, is gonna to have to go in my book of special memories.

    This is just too easy.

  68. Willyon 21 Aug 2015 at 5:16 pm

    This is entertaining and educational. Put another way–Holy Crap!

    My observations:

    1) I detected no racism, intentional or implied. The thought never entered my mind until Dr. Egnor brought it up.
    2) I didn’t read anywhere that all humanity has a nature that PROHIBITS them from controlling themselves, although I could swear that somewhere I heard about some silly idea called “original sin”. OTOH, it does seems that Dr. Egnor refuses to recognize the consequences of the FACT that many people do not do a good job at self-control.
    3) This exchange is consistent with my experiences. For some reason, it seems believers have a tendency to portray skeptics in a very cartoon-ish fashion.
    4) I don’t have any perception that posters here “hate….all men”. Silly to even make such an accusation.
    5) I’m seeing parallels between Dr. Egnor’s protestations and charges and those of Hillary Clinton regarding her server: fighting a rear guard action one futile step at a time, lashing out without taking a step backwards to contemplate.

    Being a doc and a prof ain’t no guarantee of being correct, or thoughtful, deep contemplation of Aquinas aside.

  69. mumadaddon 21 Aug 2015 at 5:20 pm

    I will absolutely concede that atrocities have been committed in the furtherance of, or inspired by, science and scientific discoveries. This says nothing about the process/method of science itself though, as a tool to be employed for making discoveries or achieving a particular goal. I mean, whether you’re looking to stem a deadly infectious disease or eradicate a race, science is the best tool to employ.

    Maybe, if we want to be fair, we could evaluate Catholicism as a tool to be employed for making discoveries or achieving a particular goal. So what are those goals?

    -saving souls?

    I think that might be it. How effective is it? Ummm. What’s the collateral damage? Oh dear….

    Discoveries???……????……????

    If you make a comparison between science and everything else people have been inspired by in generally making the world a better place, how does science fare? How does Catholicism fare? What’s the net balance of lives lost/saved by science? What’s the net balance of lives lost/saved though Catholic intervention? What is the net loss/gain in quality of life achieved by science, vs Catholicism?

    Sorry to just end with a bunch of questions – I started to attempt to provide actual statistics and then realised it was more of a job than I thought.

    One thing I looked for was % AIDS victims who are Catholic. Tricky to find anything I’d trust. Though, funnily enough, Africa has the largest increase in Catholicism, going from 6.8% in 1970 to 15.2% in 2012. Europe has the biggest decrease, going from 38.5% in 1970 to 23.7% in 2012. Which is why AIDS is on the increase in Europe and claiming ever fewer lives in Africa.

    Seriously, there are clearly there are many other factors in play and this one statistic on its own is quite unreasonable to make the point I implied. It’s not like the Catholic church would have used the AIDS epidemic as an excuse to proselytise. Africa is screwed in many other ways (socio-political, Michael – not because dey iz black), beyond not having enough Catholics when the AIDS epidemic started and now not understanding the benefits of condoms because there are too many Catholics.

    My hope is that the answers are quite obvious without having to build a statistical case.

  70. mumadaddon 21 Aug 2015 at 5:23 pm

    Michael,

    Sin = that which offends god.

    Do you hold to this definition? If not, give me yours.

  71. steve12on 21 Aug 2015 at 5:26 pm

    YOu’re so dense

    “Mumadadd and Steve12′s insistence that they meant to denigrate the dignity of all humanity, not just blacks, is gonna to have to go in my book of special memories.”

    YOu’re a liar! Not only did I not denigrate Africans, I don’t denigrate sex.

    I said that I loved sex – had a lot of it out of wedlock. I told you to mind your own Fing business about people’s sex lives. YOU see that as denigration. I see you and your ilk as sexual deviants, frankly.

    So how did I denigrate Africans Michael? Stop stating and start QUOTING you childish little liar.

  72. mumadaddon 21 Aug 2015 at 5:27 pm

    Micheal,

    Ignore all the barbs. I responded to your question about what I would do if my daughter told me she was going to have sex with someone infected with AIDS, and I asked you a serious question above. Answer those and forget about accusations of bigotry.

  73. steve12on 21 Aug 2015 at 5:30 pm

    Have a level of dignity that’s consistent with your position Michael. Good grief!

    Making up stuff about random people on blogs. That’s pretty low. What’s next? Ranting and raving at subway riders?

  74. steve12on 21 Aug 2015 at 5:31 pm

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thou_shalt_not_bear_false_witness_against_thy_neighbour

  75. mumadaddon 21 Aug 2015 at 5:38 pm

    I also looked for “priest with AIDS”. There is something all over the internet from around 2000 about the rate of AIDS in priests being 4 times higher than the general population. All the articles I could find appeared polemical and the source let back to an article that seemed obviously biased. This is the best treatment of the *rumour* I could find.

    http://americamagazine.org/issue/280/article/priests-aids

    Maybe we could also look into % priests who are homosexual vs rest of population. But it’s okay as long as they suppress that shit and get with the lord. I do wonder how any Catholic priest manages to get AIDS though. Guess they were too Catholic to use a f*ckin CONDOM!!!!!

    There is no possible way that if you tell people that sex is sinful except for in certain prescribed conditions, they will somehow break those rules and find an outlet anyway. And when they don’t do that, condoms won’t prevent shit.

  76. mumadaddon 21 Aug 2015 at 5:40 pm

    priest with AIDS = priests with AIDS

  77. michaelegnoron 21 Aug 2015 at 5:40 pm

    @muma:

    Sin is action contrary to God’s will. I presume He’s offended by it.

    Some thoughts about your points:

    [whether you’re looking to stem a deadly infectious disease or eradicate a race, science is the best tool to employ.]

    Meh. Looks better as a slogan. Real life is more subtle.

    Enormous progress was made in stemming epidemics prior to the scientific era. Rodney Stark (historian and sociologist) has pointed out that Christian communities in the Roman Empire circa 200-300 AD were widely known to have much lower mortality rates than the adjoining pagan communities during plagues. Many pagans attributed this to the intervention of the Christian God, and this helped the spread of Christianity. Stark points out that the increased survival rates during plagues among Christians was more likely due to the fact that Christians were not as willing to flee. In the pagan communities, when a plague hit, it was common for the healthy people to flee in panic. People left behind who were sickened by the plague didn’t necessarily die of the acute infection–many were weakened and couldn’t get food or water, and died from dehydration or starvation rather then from the infection itself. In the Christian communities, because of the ethical system, many more uninfected Christians stayed to provide care for the sick. They fed them and hydrated them and provided them with shelter. The mortality rates were much lower because the Christians provided basic care, not because of sophisticated medical treatments. This is still a basic principle of medicine–nourishment, hydration and hygiene are vital parts of medical treatment. All the antibiotics in the world won’t save you if you’re so malnourished that your immune system is shot.

    It has been said that the single greatest advance in human history in terms of health and life-expectency is figuring out that you must not drink the same water you put your waste in. Public sanitation and plumbing is largely responsible for the enormous increase in life expectancy in Europe during the 18th and 19th centuries. This was before the huge medical advancement.

    In terms of making people’s lives better, engineering deserves much more credit than esoteric basic science. Of course there is some interplay between the two, but we should be careful not to overestimate the benefits of pure science and underestimate the benefits of good engineering and public health measures.

    John Snow’s removal of the Broad Street pump handle was decidedly low tech and not particularly sophisticated science, but it stopped a cholera epidemic more effectively than gallons of penicillin.

  78. steve12on 21 Aug 2015 at 5:41 pm

    Listen, Mumadadd: just follow Michael’s weird sex rules and he will allow you to live!

  79. steve12on 21 Aug 2015 at 5:42 pm

    Now he wants to be reasonable again. Like a switch.

  80. michaelegnoron 21 Aug 2015 at 5:45 pm

    @steve12:

    [Have a level of dignity that’s consistent with your position Michael. Good grief!]

    My position right now is ‘sitting’. My dignity is commensurate.

  81. michaelegnoron 21 Aug 2015 at 5:47 pm

    [Listen, Mumadadd: just follow Michael’s weird sex rules and he will allow you to live!]

    My weird sex rule is chastity.

    Compared to condoms, it’s cheaper, 100% effective, easier to put on (with a little practice), and you don’t have to worry about microtears.

  82. Willyon 21 Aug 2015 at 5:52 pm

    I started wondering how this thread degenerated, so I went back and looked. In Dr. Egnor’s very first post, he points out–rightly–some of the damage the West has done to third world countries, then immediately turns that simple, undeniable truth into an anti-science screed. My guess is that his association with the Discovery Institute compels him to denigrate science as much as possible so as to hang onto the idea that we are special creatures of a loving God, not products of unguided evolution.

    To blame science for the wretched effects of things like colonialism and birth control policy in China is laughable. Malthusian ideas aside, I seem to recall that extermination of entire populations is a concept from Biblical fables. Weren’t the Israelites credited with wiping out 21 million or so Canaanites–man, woman, child, and beast–on the orders of an omniscient, benevolent Creator?

  83. Willyon 21 Aug 2015 at 5:55 pm

    “In terms of making people’s lives better, engineering deserves much more credit than esoteric basic science.”

    Holey moley! Without science, there is darned little engineering to be done.

  84. mumadaddon 21 Aug 2015 at 6:04 pm

    Michael,

    Does the fact that the beliefs/ethics/morals of the Christians in your story led to a better survival rate somehow point to the truth of their mythology? Or was it just blind luck that their particular rituals happened to spread infectious disease to a lesser degree? Does the fact that muslims invented algebra point to the validity of sharia law? Or are we a superstitious animal that sees patterns and agency where there is only nature and chance?

    Re the engineering question – yes, trial and error works; sometimes more trial and success – human intuitive understanding of mechanics isn’t entirely worthless, it’s just that it can be systematised, built upon and improved, the results checked for validity; once we gain this systematised understanding of nature on the obvious mechanical level, we can start to dig deeper.

    Science treats the world as an engineering problem, either to be understood or tinkered with and improved to our gain, including some parts your 2000 year old superstitions would tell us are off limits.

  85. michaelegnoron 21 Aug 2015 at 6:06 pm

    [I started wondering how this thread degenerated,]

    Steven put up a (good) post about an anti-GMO activist. I agree with his take, although I pointed out that the reasons for anti-GMO activism and for distrust of scientists are a bit more complex than mere ignorance. For people in India, the sterilization camps (they actually had camps) are a bitter memory, and Malthusian science has a very bad name–the United States actually blackmailed Indira Gandhi to mount a sterilization campaign or we wouldn’t send grain to India to avert a famine that was looming.

    When the guys in white coats sterilized your family and threatened to let you starve if you don’t smile while they do it, you don’t like guys in white coats.

    People remember.

  86. michaelegnoron 21 Aug 2015 at 6:14 pm

    By the way, the current rape epidemic in India (which is a catastrophe) is widely attributed to the population control fanaticism pushed by scientists several decades ago. The male/female imbalance in India is huge–probably bigger than China, and the paucity of women creates what paucity of women always creates–aggressive men without families of their own. This is a nasty (and entirely predictable) consequence of population control policies–it is always (in traditional societies) the girls who get snuffed more than the boys.

    India is convulsed by the rape epidemic–there are mobs and lynching. “Thanks, science”.

    You come at Indians with GMO’s and they look at you with a gimlet eye–scientists don’t always bring good things, if you know what I mean.

    They remember the sterilization camps and the rape epidemic.

  87. michaelegnoron 21 Aug 2015 at 6:19 pm

    [Without science, there is darned little engineering to be done.]

    Without engineering, there is darned little science to be done. Try putting your linear accelerator in a tent.

    Science and engineering depend on each other, to some extent. But many of the greatest engineering advances predated modern science by millennia.

    Pyramids, Roman aqueducts, sailing ships, bridges, arches, real improvements in public sanitation, etc etc were around eons before Issac Newton was toilet trained.

  88. mumadaddon 21 Aug 2015 at 6:25 pm

    “My weird sex rule is chastity.”

    Don’t have sex unless I say you can! And don’t say f*ck or b*gger!

    “Compared to condoms, it’s cheaper, 100% effective, easier to put on (with a little practice), and you don’t have to worry about microtears.”

    I really don’t even know where to start with that. LALALALA PEOPLE CAN CONTROL THEIR SEXUAL URGES! LALALALA JUST DONT HAVE SEX UNLESS I SAY YOU CAN!

    If nobody had sex except when they were married (to someone of the opposite sex, obvz) and had the express purpose of creating a baby, then there would be a lower incidence of STDs, for sure. Mind you, if a screening during pregnancy turns up a high probability of some major disability that will ruin your life, you better NOT have an abortion, never mind anancepaly*, Downs, cystic fibrosis. Make your baby live for as long as it can, then have that conversation where you tell her she’s going to die at 16, 24, 40–but, bonus, live with physical discomfort and social stigma up to that point. Good plan. Because souls are created at the moment of conception – do NOT f*cking kill any blastocysts (they have souls)!

    * https://www.google.com/search?q=anencephaly&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0CAcQ_AUoAWoVChMIjPHi7pu7xwIV7o7bCh37fgMT&biw=1614&bih=678

    (f*ck you, god)

  89. mumadaddon 21 Aug 2015 at 6:27 pm

    Michael,

    Again, forget the barbs – it’s easy to poke fun. Focus in the serious questions:

    Me:

    “Does the fact that the beliefs/ethics/morals of the Christians in your story led to a better survival rate somehow point to the truth of their mythology? Or was it just blind luck that their particular rituals happened to spread infectious disease to a lesser degree? Does the fact that muslims invented algebra point to the validity of sharia law? Or are we a superstitious animal that sees patterns and agency where there is only nature and chance?

    Re the engineering question – yes, trial and error works; sometimes more trial and success – human intuitive understanding of mechanics isn’t entirely worthless, it’s just that it can be systematised, built upon and improved, the results checked for validity; once we gain this systematised understanding of nature on the obvious mechanical level, we can start to dig deeper.

    Science treats the world as an engineering problem, either to be understood or tinkered with and improved to our gain, including some parts your 2000 year old superstitions would tell us are off limits.”

  90. michaelegnoron 21 Aug 2015 at 6:32 pm

    There needs to be a lot less chest-beating and strutting in the scientific profession. There have been great and wonderful things, but science has had more than its share of assholes, and by simple body count few human activities have killed as many innocents as science.

    Hitler and Stalin combined didn’t kill 100 million women. Malthusian science did that.

    More people have died in underdeveloped nations from insect-borne diseases that have resurged because of the DDT ban (60 million or so) than we killed in WWII (50 mil or so).

    Now AGW assholes are trying to deindustrialize humanity–it won’t happen with Westerners (the Sierra Club offices will always be air-conditioned), but the folks in underdeveloped countries will lag on basics like electricity because enviro-Nazis will demand they keep their carbon footprint down.

  91. michaelegnoron 21 Aug 2015 at 6:36 pm

    @mummadadd:

    [Mind you, if a screening during pregnancy turns up a high probability of some major disability that will ruin your life, you better NOT have an abortion, never mind anancepaly*, Downs, cystic fibrosis.]

    Right. Handicapped children are so ‘in the way’. Life unworthy of life, really. The fact that they are your son or daughter doesn’t count as much as the fact that they are your ball and chain.

    Heck, if you keep your little defective, you may not be able to rut as much as you like, or have as big an HDTV, or as nice a car.

    Some of us feel differently about these things.

  92. michaelegnoron 21 Aug 2015 at 6:39 pm

    @mumadadd:

    I spend most of my professional life taking care of these handicapped kids, and getting to know their families. Believe it or not, these families love their kids, and wouldn’t trade them for the world.

    They wish (and pray) they were healthy. But, nearly without exception, they feel blessed to have them.

    They are blessed. Not all blessings are easy.

  93. michaelegnoron 21 Aug 2015 at 6:53 pm

    [“Does the fact that the beliefs/ethics/morals of the Christians in your story led to a better survival rate somehow point to the truth of their mythology?]

    While it’s certainly reasonable that metaphysical truth will translate into a better life, it’s not really proof in any meaningful way. There are situations in which complying with Christian ways does not advance one’s worldly well-being. Colosseum, lions, Nero, ISIS, all that.

    Christianity is primarily a relationship with Christ. It entails a way of living, some moral standards, and some theology. Christians are transients in this world. We live elsewhere.

    Christian civilization is pretty successful at good things, and has been a success at some bad things as well. All modern science arose in Christian culture, and most of what we value in human rights has a strong Christian foundation.

    But the success or failure of Christian societies is not proof or disproof of what Christians assert to be true. Some of Christianity is demonstrable by logic, some by revelation, and some by personal relationship with God.

    I believe that God’s existence is logically proven. That He is the God of the Bible can be inferred to a substantial degree logically (in the Summa Contra Gentiles discussion of Transcendentials and God’s simplicity), but much of Christian belief comes from Biblical revelation and Church teaching and prayer and asking God to show us things.

    He answers, in everyday life. I don’t always like the answers–He and I have issues– but I understand what He wants, I love Him, and I do the best I can.

  94. mumadaddon 21 Aug 2015 at 7:04 pm

    “I spend most of my professional life taking care of these handicapped kids, and getting to know their families. Believe it or not, these families love their kids, and wouldn’t trade them for the world. ”

    I know. I would too, I’m sure. But blastocysts aren’t people. Foetuses aren’t people. All those qualities that make up people are developed in the brain throughout the, well, development of the brain. Have a little look at child psychology.

    The quality of life of the parent clearly isn’t the only thing to consider – what about the child itself? I’m 35 and terrified of death. Not that I think there is reason to think I’m going to die early, just the fact that it’s possible, life is fragile, and when I’m dead I’m gone and will never exist again. I’m an able-bodied, young, white male in a Western Industrialised Educated Rich Democratic society; for all intents and purposes one of the luck few. Imagine trying to explain to somebody that after their short, disfigured life of pain and suffering, they were going to cease to exist, just as they were able to grasp their own mortality. What do you think that does to parents? Never mind whether they “believe” your nonsense about souls. Children are children–it is wrong to kill children. Blastocysts are not children, they are not people; foetuses are not children, nor are they people. There is no such thing as a soul, and any decision or moral law based on the existence of a thing that does not exist can only be correct if it happens to coincide with those that are.

  95. mumadaddon 21 Aug 2015 at 7:20 pm

    But the success or failure of Christian societies is not proof or disproof of what Christians assert to be true. Some of Christianity is demonstrable by logic, some by revelation, and some by personal relationship with God.

    You’ve shown us the “logic”. Now demonstrate the validity of revelation and the existence of the “god” who revelates to you. You know, people have profound experiences all the time outside of devotional stimuli, and without any of the religious backdrop of beliefs you might ascribe to them. I know you’ve heard of the god helmet. I know you understand the effects of temporal lobe epilepsy. Sometimes I listen to music and it makes my hair stand on end. I’ll bet there are things that make a gorilla’s hair stand on end too. I’ve met god in a k(ketamine)-hole – it was a slug/neuron type hybrid (but still indescribable) thing that craved any and all conscious experience. Pleasure, pain, shame, pride, all equal; it did not care what the nature of the experience was, it just wanted more, and that was the reason life has to be as it is. How is this any less valid than your revelation? If I trip out totally, become an urban legend, develop a group of followers, and somehow over the next 2000 years become a prophet/messiah, does this lend any factual veracity to the interpretations of my YouTube videos??

  96. michaelegnoron 21 Aug 2015 at 7:20 pm

    @muma:

    Blastocysts are human beings. All human beings are people. People can be tiny and globular, or big and well educated and prone to blogging. People come in all shapes and sizes.

    People when they are a couple of days old are blastocysts. People a couple of weeks old are embryos. People a few months old are fetuses. People 50 years old are bankers or taxi drivers. They’re all people, at different stages of their lives.

    I’m afraid of dying too, although less so since I became a Christian. My fear of judgement has increased, though, but still I think I’m less afraid. I agree with Woody Allen–I’m not afraid of death, I just don’t want to be there when it happens.

    Fear of death is a very strange thing, although it’s nearly universal. If death is non-existence, why be afraid of it? I non-existed before 1955, and it wasn’t particularly horrible.

    But we are afraid. Utterly afraid. I think it’s because we know at some level that death is a transition to another life, and that we will account for ourselves.

    I really believe that fear of death is a remarkable thing, and quite strange when you think about it. I think our fear of it points to something very important.

  97. mumadaddon 21 Aug 2015 at 7:38 pm

    “Blastocysts are human beings. All human beings are people. People can be tiny and globular, or big and well educated and prone to blogging. People come in all shapes and sizes. ”

    No.

    “Fear of death is a very strange thing, although it’s nearly universal. If death is non-existence, why be afraid of it? I non-existed before 1955, and it wasn’t particularly horrible.”

    This is a point of contention with me and (seemingly) some other atheists. I know, Mark Twain – very pithy and factually indisputable, but I still can’t seem to shake that fear of death.

    That you “think it’s because we know at some level that death is a transition to another life, and that we will account for ourselves.” – this is utterly alien to me; it doesn’t enter into my thinking at all. If there were some really compelling evidence to suggest tat you were correct, I’d sharpen up my act in no time (I mean, despite maybe thinking the god that created the universe was a moral thug); I would comply with whatever rules were necessary to gain entry to eternal bliss, and avoid those that led to eternal suffering.

    “I really believe that fear of death is a remarkable thing, and quite strange when you think about it. I think our fear of it points to something very important.”

    I think you are afraid, Michael. Of your nature. Of the consequences of your nature. I think you’re as scared as I am of death, but the first explanation you were given was a fantasy and you’re smart, so you’ve managed to construct an elaborate set of rationalisations to prop up the crap you were fed as a child.

  98. mumadaddon 21 Aug 2015 at 7:52 pm

    “Blastocysts are human beings. All human beings are people. People can be tiny and globular, or big and well educated and prone to blogging. People come in all shapes and sizes.

    No.”

    Sorry, I realise how this could be misconstrued. There is a useful label of “person” – I include those who are “tiny and globular, or big and well educated and prone to blogging” within this label, but with certain other prerequisites – having a brain is a biggy; having the right parts of that brain and in the right proportion is another; enough brain activity in the right bits of the brain is yet another. You get the idea – “we” are a configuration of physical matter/pattern of activity within that matter. There is a bar (and it is arbitrary though meaningful), below which we can say that human DNA/blastocyst/foetus is not a person.

  99. Davdoodleson 21 Aug 2015 at 7:56 pm

    “Blastocysts are human beings. All human beings are people. People can be tiny and globular, or big and well educated and prone to blogging. People come in all shapes and sizes. ”

    I trimmed a bunch of ‘human beings’ off the ends of my fingernails and a few inches of ‘people’ off my head last Thursday. Your word-game isn’t enlightening, or conclusive of anything.

    But, the end-result of your word-games, when they become laws, impact actual people. Your sisters, daughters, your neighbors. The world before safe contraception and abortion wasn’t Shangri-La – it was a dangerous, fear-filled place for women, and young girls.

    Make no mistake: As well-meaning and pious as you imagine you are, your ‘love of life’ amounts to a call to bring back the coathanger, sepsis, increase teenage suicides, shunned and abandoned children, and sentence generation-after-generation of women and girls to live their lives again with a fear and a far-away look in their eyes that you, a male, can never fully understand.

    “I non-existed before 1955, and it wasn’t particularly horrible.”

    So why do you find it so hard to accept? That being dead is just more non-existence, exactly like before you were born? Your ego? Your need to occupy some privileged frame of reference?
    .

  100. mumadaddon 21 Aug 2015 at 8:26 pm

    “People 50 years old are bankers or taxi drivers. They’re all people, at different stages of their lives.”

    So you do acknowledge that there are differences. How do you, Michael, explain the differences in hardship, not only between able-bodied, white adults in developed countries, but between all those people born into a short life of famine, blindness, torture, rape, child abuse, terminal bone cancer (etc.), vs. you lording it up as a neurosurgeon? How the f*ck did you manage to luck out? You pleased your god? You were somehow lucky enough, clever enough, to figure out Thomism – go you! God must love you very much in order to grant you such a privileged status. Or maybe, despite the house of cards that is your justification for denying marriage to gays, and abortions to women (but in effect, everyone), and condoms to Africa (may the lord have mercy on your soul), you are bound to spend eternity in paradise because you obeyed certain rituals, and insisted that everyone else follow suit. Or maybe, because they lived those shirt, agonised lives of suffering, the kids get to go to heaven straight away but you, with your bone-cancer free years of joy, have to go to purgatory?

  101. michaelegnoron 21 Aug 2015 at 8:31 pm

    mumadadd:

    [I think you are afraid, Michael. Of your nature. Of the consequences of your nature. I think you’re as scared as I am of death, but the first explanation you were given was a fantasy and you’re smart, so you’ve managed to construct an elaborate set of rationalisations to prop up the crap you were fed as a child.]

    You’re right. There is much in me that frightens me. I’ve come to believe that that is original sin.

    Regarding fantasies and my childhood, I wasn’t raised a Christian really. My family was nominally Christian, but my father never had anything to do with religion and my mother went to church on rare occassions and dragged me along. I spent more time in a synagogue than a church–my best friend growing up was Jewish, and his family invited me along on occassion.

    I always liked Christianity–I was never hostile to it. I went through an atheist phase (Ayn Rand) and an agnostic phase, but Christianity always drew me–the personality of Christ drew me. I hated (and still hate) televangelists. They repulsed me. I don’t like being sold things, and these guys struck me as salesmen of a low order. “Send me you money and you’ll be saved..” all that shit.

    I loved science, and worshipped it in a sense, which is a common thing. I was a biochem major, and did research all through undergrad and med school and into my professional life. I liked Darwin, and thought that he had explained where we came from. I thought “since Darwin explained life, why bother with church? Why leave my brain at the church door”

    My path to Christ is complex, but involved the birth of my children–when I first saw my son, I knew–knew that he was a gift, a gift I had done nothing to deserve. Perhaps that’s when I first believed in God. It also involved personal struggles, friends, patients who are Christians, a family illness and a moment alone in a church when everything changed–I won’t write about that in this forum.

    My biggest impediment to knowing God, aside from my own sins, was Darwin. I came to undestand that Darwinism is a philosophical project dressed up as science. Evolutionary biology is a fine field of valid scientific research, but Darwinism is a lie–a lie about life and man.

    My relationship with God has been helped by many things–prayer, Eucharist, and by reading theology. My most difficult problem now is not knowing about God’s existence or His basic Nature–those are simple facts, but about knowing just what He wants of me and struggling to do what I think He wants. It’s a complex relationship– Kierkegaard noted that we can struggle with three things– others, ourselves and God. God is the highest and best struggle, and you get closest to Him by struggling with Him. But it’s not easy and not always fun.

    I don’t know why I’m unloading here. I get the sense that you have thoughtful questions.

  102. Willyon 21 Aug 2015 at 8:46 pm

    ‘Without engineering, there is darned little science to be done. Try putting your linear accelerator in a tent.”

    id’ say that without science, there would be no reason to build an accelerator.

    I agree, they go hand in had. Nonetheless, if science didn’t advance, there would be very little engineering. Your original statement was “In terms of making people’s lives better, engineering deserves much more credit than esoteric basic science.” I agree 100%, science in and of itself is rarely useful. What good are Newton’s laws? Faraday’s discoveries? The microscope? etc. They are good because they provoke engineers and inquisitive people to apply them to real life situations for the benefit of mankind. Without science, engineering can do very little. Why do you suppose the engineering curricula is full of science classes?

    As for death and eternal life beyond death, I have no real fear of non-existence itself, nor do I fear the judgement of some juvenile, man-made “God”. None at all. I do not look forward to death; I want to enjoy life as long as I can. I also fear a painful, lingering kind of death. For what purpose did your “God” create the idea of a painful lingering death? Alzheimers? In what way does this exhibit benevolence?

    Life for eternity: I forget whom to credit for this idea, but, imagine Mount Everest is composed of particles of sand. Imagine that once very 1,000 years a bird flies in and carts away one grain of sand. After a trillion (TRILLION!) years, one billion grains of sand will have been removed. This is approximately equivalent to filling a regular pick-up bed with sand. Imagine the length of time required to cart Mount Everest away at the rate of one pick-up load per trillion year years. Anyway, after Mount Everest has finally been done away with, eternity will really not have even begun. Perhaps we will amuse ourselves by memorizing the entire Encyclopedia Britannica. It might be fun at first to bask in the glory of the Lord’s presence for a few millennia, but it’d surely get boring soon thereafter.

    Consider a Creator who could design and construct the entire universe, apparently ex nihilo. A Creator who thought up rotting feces, stars going super nova, cats killing mice, parasites destroying lives, and on and on. In addition, it created great beauty and the truly awe inspiring details of existence. Now consider that Creator being jealous, setting down arbitrary rules, and demanding worship and glorification. Isn’t that just a bit beyond silly? If you succeed in creating some primitive life in a test tube, will your first thought be to force that life to glorify you? Will you prohibit cells from multiplying in “public”?

    “People can be tiny and globular, or big and well educated and prone to blogging. People come in all shapes and sizes.” Gee whiz, now we’re onto abortion. Time to bring up evolution/ID, ain’t it?

  103. michaelegnoron 21 Aug 2015 at 8:57 pm

    [How the f*ck did you manage to luck out?]

    I don’t know. I don’t know if it’s luck. I certainly did nothing to deserve any luck.

    The Christian answer is this: to whom much is given, much is asked. That’s the way I look at it. I have been given talents (we each have our talents), and I am asked to use them to advance His purposes. By being a family man, a doctor, and being involved in public discussions and debates.

    Does that make me lucky? I work ungodly hours (I’m finishing my 5th operation today– I’ve been blogging between cases when I have a bit of downtime– I’m on call for 72 hours straight this weekend). I make good money, but I spend it on taxes and my kids’ tuition. I’m happy with my life, but other people’s lives are just as good and just as meaningful.

    What about people who lead lives of suffering or severe disabilities? I see a lot of sad things, but most of the suffering I see is psychological and spiritual. Disabled people don’t always suffer as much physical pain as we think they might. And some of the worst suffering I see is in physically healthy people why are psychologically or spiritually tormented. The worst suffering I’ve seen this week is in a perfectly physically healthy drug addict.

    I like what Christ said in Matthew 25: what we do for the least among us, we do for Him. He places himself with particular love in people who are the least–the handicapped, the poor, the suffering. Suffering brings us closer to Him.

    I have a close friend who is a Lutheran pastor who worked in the hospital as a chaplin. He is the most holy man I know–a saint. One night about 20 years ago we were in the pediatric ICU at the bedside of a 6 year old patient of mine with a brain tumor who was dying. I was not yet a Christian, and when we had some private time I asked him; “Explain to me how your god allows this! Nice little kid, nice family, and he’s dying like this. How can you believe in a god who does this?”

    He replied that he had had a life-threatening illness, and he asked the same question himself (he was on a ventilator for weeks). He said that he came to understand that God doesn’t promise that we won’t suffer. He offers no rosy guarantees. Christ merely says this: ‘You will never suffer alone. I suffer with you. It is in suffering that we are closest’

    That’s why I don’t know if I’m really lucky– I haven’t suffered much. That’s the odd thing about Christianity–suffering is of great value, and is a manifestation of deepest love and closeness to Christ, and yet it is still horrible and frightening. I hate suffering, and do my best each day to minimize it in the people I care for, and in myself.

    But we Christians don’t see suffering the way the world does. We try to alleviate it, but when we can’t, especially for ourselves, we see it as redemptive, as a deep personal bond with Him.

  104. Willyon 21 Aug 2015 at 9:27 pm

    Dr Egnor: I appreciate the candor you displayed above. We all do the best we can and it is obvious that you are one who is doing his best. I wish you well, but I still think you are wrong. :«)

  105. michaelegnoron 21 Aug 2015 at 9:38 pm

    Thanks Willy. I wish you well too. May we both find what we seek.

  106. RickKon 21 Aug 2015 at 11:11 pm

    “Christ merely says this: ‘You will never suffer alone. I suffer with you. It is in suffering that we are closest’”

    Oh, I’ve got one like that too, but mine is named Harvey. We don’t spend much time suffering, but we agreed to never eat alone.

    If I were going to pick one that had once been alive, I think Epicurus might be a good choice. Or Benjamin Franklin.

    Yes, there can be great comfort in simply surrendering to the fantasy.

  107. BillyJoe7on 22 Aug 2015 at 2:26 am

    How effective is the Catholic Church’s teaching about restricting sex to marriage and the opposite sex in controlling abortions and STDs. Give us the statistics that show Catholics have less abortions and less STDs. Then tell us about how practical and effective that advice is.

  108. RickKon 22 Aug 2015 at 6:46 am

    BJ7 – I think the fundamentalist Muslims are much more effective at controlling the spread of STDs and preventing unwanted pregnancy, and it’s all done without those evil contraceptives. Keeping women behind locked doors and wrapped in sacks, and killing them if have sex before marriage has proven an excellent system for enforcing the kind of morality so important to the anti-contraception crowd.

  109. mumadaddon 22 Aug 2015 at 9:48 am

    Michael,

    It was 1:30am here (UK) when I made my last post, hence the long pause. You said a lot, so may only get a partial response, but I do appreciate your honesty.

    The main objection I have to your position is the process by which you’ve arrived at it. Revelation is not a reliable path to truth. Just think about all the Muslims and Hindus who have their own revelations that directly contradict your own. How can we tell which, if any, is correct – where’s the process? Funny how revelations generally seem to confirm background cultural expectations.

    The “logical” arguments are deliberately constructed in order to reach a predetermined conclusion, which itself was reached through standard human psychology and culture. It’s perfectly possible to construct logical arguments based on fiction – you only get true conclusions from valid arguments when you feed in true premises. Aquinas may have had a valid argument for god, but his premises are a work of fiction.

    “My path to Christ is complex, but involved the birth of my children–when I first saw my son, I knew–knew that he was a gift, a gift I had done nothing to deserve. Perhaps that’s when I first believed in God.”

    Without any concept of a god, the birth of your son would still be a profound experience. If the background cultural beliefs were of a shared cosmic consciousness that all humans are able to tap into at times, this profound experience could be taken to confirm the existence of this cosmic consciousness. The narrative layer of meaning you add to experiences like this isn’t inherent in the experiences themselves.

    When your ultimate explanation for our existence includes a static, externally imposed set of rules, what you’re really doing is allowing yourself to project your own sense of morality onto this external source, and giving yourself an excuse to demand that everyone else fall in line. You’ve clearly evidenced this in your approach to the AIDS in Africa situation. You want to ignore practical solutions that acknowledge human nature and instead insist that people just follow your god’s rules.

    “I like what Christ said in Matthew 25: what we do for the least among us, we do for Him. He places himself with particular love in people who are the least–the handicapped, the poor, the suffering. Suffering brings us closer to Him.”

    God wants us to suffer in order to get closer to him… Let me acknowledge that, with what you do professionally, you are clearly a lot closer to pain, suffering and death than I have ever been. I personally could not deal with life and death in my everyday life, I know I would go to pieces. But why, oh why, would god want to put certain people through an assault course of misery if he loves us all? Why would he reveal himself selectively to certain people and not others, and do so in a way which perfectly mimics generic human pattern seeking? Why is it that we can artificially induce every component of revelatory experiences though narcotics, TCM etc? If the whole point is, “believe in me and spend eternity at my side in heaven,” then why kill all those kids before they can even form a concept of a god?

    “Evolutionary biology is a fine field of valid scientific research, but Darwinism is a lie–a lie about life and man.”

    Yes, clearly we didn’t evolve, as evidenced by the fact that we are made of solid gold and come equipped with jet engines at birth. I remember you saying in another thread (c/o. Paley’s watchmaker analogy) that “life is the object [which is clearly designed]”. How do you go about determining whether something is designed, Michael?

  110. tmac57on 22 Aug 2015 at 10:28 am

    Ok, everyone, stop the presses! I have had a divine (I think) revelation. Here’s how we fix the world:

    Everyone just stop doing bad stuff like killing, theft, taking advantage of others.

    Help those who truly need help, whether it be food shelter, medical care.

    Treat others with dignity and respect.

    Work hard and do your part in the world for a fair reward.

    Pull together for the common good.

    Quit believing in things that are not true.

    Be friendly, sociable, and have a good long life.

    That’s about it.

    Just basically do what I (divinely inspired of course, so you can trust me) want you all to do and everything will be fine.

    You’re welcome 🙂

  111. mumadaddon 22 Aug 2015 at 10:39 am

    “Kissing Hank’s Ass”

    http://www.jhuger.com/kissing-hanks-ass

    This morning there was a knock at my door. When I answered the door I found a well groomed, nicely dressed couple. The man spoke first:

    John: “Hi! I’m John, and this is Mary.”

    Mary: “Hi! We’re here to invite you to come kiss Hank’s ass with us.”

    Me: “Pardon me?! What are you talking about? Who’s Hank, and why would I want to kiss His ass?”

    John: “If you kiss Hank’s ass, He’ll give you a million dollars; and if you don’t, He’ll kick the shit out of you.”

    Me: “What? Is this some sort of bizarre mob shake-down?”

    John: “Hank is a billionaire philanthropist. Hank built this town. Hank owns this town. He can do whatever He wants, and what He wants is to give you a million dollars, but He can’t until you kiss His ass.”

    Me: “That doesn’t make any sense. Why…”

    Mary: “Who are you to question Hank’s gift? Don’t you want a million dollars? Isn’t it worth a little kiss on the ass?”

    Me: “Well maybe, if it’s legit, but…”

    John: “Then come kiss Hank’s ass with us.”

    Me: “Do you kiss Hank’s ass often?”

    Mary: “Oh yes, all the time…”

    Me: “And has He given you a million dollars?”

    John: “Well no. You don’t actually get the money until you leave town.”

    Me: “So why don’t you just leave town now?”

    Mary: “You can’t leave until Hank tells you to, or you don’t get the money, and He kicks the shit out of you.”

    Me: “Do you know anyone who kissed Hank’s ass, left town, and got the million dollars?”

    John: “My mother kissed Hank’s ass for years. She left town last year, and I’m sure she got the money.”

    Me: “Haven’t you talked to her since then?”

    John: “Of course not, Hank doesn’t allow it.”

    Me: “So what makes you think He’ll actually give you the money if you’ve never talked to anyone who got the money?”

    Mary: “Well, He gives you a little bit before you leave. Maybe you’ll get a raise, maybe you’ll win a small lotto, maybe you’ll just find a twenty-dollar bill on the street.”

    Me: “What’s that got to do with Hank?”

    John: “Hank has certain ‘connections.'”

    Me: “I’m sorry, but this sounds like some sort of bizarre con game.”

    John: “But it’s a million dollars, can you really take the chance? And remember, if you don’t kiss Hank’s ass He’ll kick the shit out of you.”

    Me: “Maybe if I could see Hank, talk to Him, get the details straight from Him…”

    Mary: “No one sees Hank, no one talks to Hank.”

    Me: “Then how do you kiss His ass?”

    John: “Sometimes we just blow Him a kiss, and think of His ass. Other times we kiss Karl’s ass, and he passes it on.”

    Me: “Who’s Karl?”

    Mary: “A friend of ours. He’s the one who taught us all about kissing Hank’s ass. All we had to do was take him out to dinner a few times.”

    Me: “And you just took his word for it when he said there was a Hank, that Hank wanted you to kiss His ass, and that Hank would reward you?”

    John: “Oh no! Karl has a letter he got from Hank years ago explaining the whole thing. Here’s a copy; see for yourself.”
    From the Desk of Karl

    Kiss Hank’s ass and He’ll give you a million dollars when you leave town.
    Use alcohol in moderation.
    Kick the shit out of people who aren’t like you.
    Eat right.
    Hank dictated this list Himself.
    The moon is made of green cheese.
    Everything Hank says is right.
    Wash your hands after going to the bathroom.
    Don’t use alcohol.
    Eat your wieners on buns, no condiments.
    Kiss Hank’s ass or He’ll kick the shit out of you.

    Me: “This appears to be written on Karl’s letterhead.”

    Mary: “Hank didn’t have any paper.”

    Me: “I have a hunch that if we checked we’d find this is Karl’s handwriting.”

    John: “Of course, Hank dictated it.”

    Me: “I thought you said no one gets to see Hank?”

    Mary: “Not now, but years ago He would talk to some people.”

    Me: “I thought you said He was a philanthropist. What sort of philanthropist kicks the shit out of people just because they’re different?”

    Mary: “It’s what Hank wants, and Hank’s always right.”

    Me: “How do you figure that?”

    Mary: “Item 7 says ‘Everything Hank says is right.’ That’s good enough for me!”

    Me: “Maybe your friend Karl just made the whole thing up.”

    John: “No way! Item 5 says ‘Hank dictated this list himself.’ Besides, item 2 says ‘Use alcohol in moderation,’ Item 4 says ‘Eat right,’ and item 8 says ‘Wash your hands after going to the bathroom.’ Everyone knows those things are right, so the rest must be true, too.”

    Me: “But 9 says ‘Don’t use alcohol.’ which doesn’t quite go with item 2, and 6 says ‘The moon is made of green cheese,’ which is just plain wrong.”

    John: “There’s no contradiction between 9 and 2, 9 just clarifies 2. As far as 6 goes, you’ve never been to the moon, so you can’t say for sure.”

    Me: “Scientists have pretty firmly established that the moon is made of rock…”

    Mary: “But they don’t know if the rock came from the Earth, or from out of space, so it could just as easily be green cheese.”

    Me: “I’m not really an expert, but I think the theory that the Moon was somehow ‘captured’ by the Earth has been discounted*. Besides, not knowing where the rock came from doesn’t make it cheese.”

    John: “Ha! You just admitted that scientists make mistakes, but we know Hank is always right!”

    Me: “We do?”

    Mary: “Of course we do, Item 7 says so.”

    Me: “You’re saying Hank’s always right because the list says so, the list is right because Hank dictated it, and we know that Hank dictated it because the list says so. That’s circular logic, no different than saying ‘Hank’s right because He says He’s right.'”

    John: “Now you’re getting it! It’s so rewarding to see someone come around to Hank’s way of thinking.”

    Me: “But…oh, never mind. What’s the deal with wieners?”

    Mary: She blushes.

    John: “Wieners, in buns, no condiments. It’s Hank’s way. Anything else is wrong.”

    Me: “What if I don’t have a bun?”

    John: “No bun, no wiener. A wiener without a bun is wrong.”

    Me: “No relish? No Mustard?”

    Mary: She looks positively stricken.

    John: He’s shouting. “There’s no need for such language! Condiments of any kind are wrong!”

    Me: “So a big pile of sauerkraut with some wieners chopped up in it would be out of the question?”

    Mary: Sticks her fingers in her ears.”I am not listening to this. La la la, la la, la la la.”

    John: “That’s disgusting. Only some sort of evil deviant would eat that…”

    Me: “It’s good! I eat it all the time.”

    Mary: She faints.

    John: He catches Mary. “Well, if I’d known you were one of those I wouldn’t have wasted my time. When Hank kicks the shit out of you I’ll be there, counting my money and laughing. I’ll kiss Hank’s ass for you, you bunless cut-wienered kraut-eater.”

    With this, John dragged Mary to their waiting car, and sped off.

  112. Willyon 22 Aug 2015 at 11:30 am

    LOL

    Actually, a “wiener” should be a Hebrew National big fat foot long dog, either their All Beef or their Polish. It should be slowly grilled until well browned, put on a toasted bun with catsup, brown mustard, and onions–both raw and sauteed. Anything else is wrong. Willy says so.

    Sigh. From my perspective, Dr. Egnor (and most every believer) simply will not listen to reason and will not address what seem to me to be logical questions. What do you suppose we seem like from the believer’s (admittedly incorrect–LOL) point of view? Sheesh, “Darwinism is a lie”????!!!!!

    On another GMO related topic, AGW….

  113. Willyon 22 Aug 2015 at 11:40 am

    Dr. Egnor: If Darwinism (I assume you mean natural selection) is not correct, what do you offer to explain the fossil record since, clearly, life on earth has evolved over many hundreds of millions of years? Equally clearly, the Biblical account is a fable that in no way offers even a clue as to life’s history.

  114. steve12on 22 Aug 2015 at 11:49 am

    It’s nice to see that Micahel CAN be reasonable and civil. Thoughtful even.

    However, mischaracterizing someone’s position (i.e., lying) like this…

    “What an enlightened view. Africans have a “nature” that just can’t be suppressed. Dey jus’ gotta rut. Closer to apes, sorta. Giv’em lots o’ condoms, because they sure can’t be expected to behave like morally responsible human beings.”

    …when no one said anything that REMOTELY imtimates this position, is vile and uncivil. Michael should be ashamed at himself for writing this and apologize. Or at the least, he should link the the relevant text where this supposed postion was posited.

    Needless to say, he will do neither. Michael has a wonderful ability to only reply to posts that are convenient to his larger points.

  115. jsterritton 22 Aug 2015 at 12:46 pm

    @michaelegnor

    “Follow those rules, no AIDS. Heck of a lot better than condoms.”

    You keep crossing the line from stupid to diabolical. Asshole.

  116. RickKon 22 Aug 2015 at 12:52 pm

    Humans enjoy playing sports, but sports lead to many problems: gambling, erosion of academic standards, juicing, bribery, not to mention fame and wealth for people unprepared for them. Life-altering injuries from sports are legion, as are stories of overly competitive parents with burned out or injured children.

    Now, we could stop all these evil effects by telling people to abstain from sports. To prevent illicit sports participation, we could spend generations developing cradle-to-grave social engineering programs based on convincing children and adults that they are always watched and that great supernatural punishments and horrible personal shame await any who take up ball or bat or glove. The more extreme parts of our society could lock children behind gates and make them wear sacks to prevent any possibility of consensual athletic activity.

    Or, we could admit that sports are an undeniable part of being human. We could choose to retain the good while dealing with the negative consequences. We could make rules to prevent children from getting injured through participation in adult sports, we could enforce rules about the involvement of money in sports, we could distribute safety equipment and training to reduce sports-related injuries and develop better methods of treating such injuries when they happen.

    Sex is a much more integral component of human evolution and society than sports. It is a vastly more fundamental part of our culture than any existing religion or formal social union. The social constructs prohibiting sex outside of a monogamous marriage are a more recent introduction to human culture than the Tea Party is to American Politics. Yet Dr. Egnor sits atop his affluent seat of privilege, and with all the zeal of the newly-converted, claims that condoms and education and treatment aren’t the answer – people should just keep their pants zipped except in the confines of the narrow social construct that he supports. And he sees no issue with indoctrinating children from birth that shame and eternal divine punishment await any who dare to unzip.

    And when more practical and adult thinkers instead promote the distribution of safety equipment and training, he rises in his seat and decries their totalitarian measures. Instead, he advocates at every turn whatever rules and practices will maximize the negative consequences of sex outside of his approved constraints.

    It makes no more sense to tell people to abstain from sex than it does to tell them to abstain from sports. So let’s just crawl out of Iron Age morality and agree that we can do much more to provide everybody with the training and safety equipment to participate safely, and let’s help the injured rather than condemn them.

  117. mumadaddon 22 Aug 2015 at 1:55 pm

    “He answers, in everyday life. I don’t always like the answers–He and I have issues– but I understand what He wants, I love Him, and I do the best I can.”

    Michael, if you come back, can you explain the form these communications take. Do you hear a voice in your head? I’m not poking fun here – just very curious. I won’t lead or constrain your answer with any more specific questions, but please explain.

  118. arnieon 22 Aug 2015 at 4:04 pm

    mumadadd, “Michael, if you come back, can you explain the form these communications take”

    After your nicely timed and exactly-to-the-point 10:29am comment, I doubt he’ll be back on this string to explain the unexplainable. But maybe I’m prematurely optimistic. Perhaps I misjudge, but his occasional “civility” smells more pseudo and manipulative than authentic to me.

  119. michaelegnoron 22 Aug 2015 at 5:14 pm

    @steve12:

    [It makes no more sense to tell people to abstain from sex than it does to tell them to abstain from sports.]

    The Church doesn’t tell people to abstain from sex. It tells people to have sex only in marriage.

    Sex is not a sport. It is a physical manifestation of God’s love–a participation in His creation. It is a gift of committed love between a man and woman in life-long marriage.

    @mumadadd:

    There are several ways God communicates with us. He on rare occasions actually speaks to us–even for the great saints and contemplatives, these moments are few.

    He also speaks in our conscience and our most intimate thoughts–“a still small voice” is the term used for it. To hear Him we need to turn off the cacophony of everyday life. Contemplative prayer is a good way to hear Him.

    I find that the way He speaks to me most often is in what I call “enacted parables”. I will ask Him something in prayer or in daily life–how should I deal with this situation or person, or I will ask Him a metaphysical question. He nearly always answers me. What He does is put me in a situation in which the answer is obvious–He shows me the answer. For example, it is often that I have to deal with a difficult person, and I ask God how to do what He wants me to do. Very often–quite reliably actually–I will find myself in a scenario shortly after my question in which His answer is obvious. For example, if I am angry with a person and I ask God how to deal with it, it is common for me to encounter a person shortly thereafter who has cause with me, but who deals with his anger in a constructive and humane way. This happens sufficiently often that it amazes me. He is quite good with answers–but he more often uses situations than words.

    He speaks to us constantly. Every day. You have to learn to hear Him.

  120. michaelegnoron 22 Aug 2015 at 5:39 pm

    @mumadadd:

    There are several books that are good intros to the spiritual life.

    Anything by CS Lewis is great: Mere Christianity (the best intro for intelligent folks who can’t get their intellects around Christianity), Miracles, The Great Divorce (my favorite), The Screwtape Letters. You can’t go wrong with Lewis. He’s entertaining, often hilarious, profound in a subtle way, and even if you don’t come away as a Christian, you at least know a lot more about actual Christian belief.

    Thomas Merton has a lot of great stuff on spirituality–he was a Trappist monk and superb writer and philosopher. Seven Storey Mountain is his spiritual autobiography, and it’s a masterpiece.

  121. mumadaddon 22 Aug 2015 at 5:47 pm

    Michael,

    It’s not a rare event in my life for a situation I find myself in to cause me to reflect upon some other recent situation, person or problem I’ve encountered and feel that I’ve learned a lesson I can apply to that situation, person or problem. I put it down to the associative nature of memory and the narrative structure of thought. If for some reason I thought there was an external agent manipulating reality in order to allow me to learn these lessons, confirmation bias might kick in and cause me to disregard all the situations or events that didn’t provide some insight into some problem that was on my mind, along with those that caused me to do something that caused a new problem or worsened an existing one. After all, eventually another situation would occur that would cause me to see the error of my ways and then the last one, which steered me wrong, would have merely been the set up for a bigger lesson.

  122. mumadaddon 22 Aug 2015 at 5:58 pm

    “even if you don’t come away as a Christian, you at least know a lot more about actual Christian belief.”

    There are somewhere in the region of 30,000 sects of Christianity, each with a hodgepodge and spectrum of beliefs within it. All would claim to be “true” Christians with the correct beliefs. Without some method to assess these various beliefs against each other, I don’t see how Carroll, or you, can make any special claim to to have the “actual Christian beliefs”.

    I suppose there is a standard against which we could compare all of these sects: the bible. Maybe the most literal interpretation wins.

  123. mumadaddon 22 Aug 2015 at 6:00 pm

    30,000 – I may have got this number wrong, but it’s a lot, and the point holds even if I’m off by an order of magnitude.

  124. steve12on 22 Aug 2015 at 6:03 pm

    No worries, but I didn’t say this Michael:

    >”It makes no more sense to tell people to abstain from sex than it does to tell them to abstain from >sports.]
    >The Church doesn’t tell people to abstain from sex. It tells people to have sex only in marriage.”

    >Sex is not a sport. It is a physical manifestation of God’s love–a participation in His creation. It is a gift >of committed love between a man and woman in life-long marriage.

    Personally, I think that’s rubbish. I’ve had meaningless and meaningful sex, and that’s fine by me and the people I had it with. It was our choice.

    I’m not Catholic, and I don’t want to be. If people are Catholic and CHOOSE to follow that edict – great. IF they’re happy, get after it!

    But the Catholic church (and other churches) should stop trying to set public policy for everyone by lobbying governments to narrow secular choices.

    How about this?
    PERSUADE people not to have sex out of wedlock
    PERSUADE gay people not to marry
    PERSUADE the terminally ill not to end their lives.
    PERSUADE people not to use condoms.
    PERSUADE people not to divorce

    These are private matters that should not be subject to vote or gov’t control simply because the majority is Christian. YOu don’t get to vote on certain things in a free society. BUT – get out there and try to win them over without gov’t coersion, by all means.

    In a free society, no one should be voting on any of the above, and no government should be abridging my freedom to do any of the above. These are the most private of decisions, and should be left to the individual.

    BUT – you can make your case for people to choose as you do. And no one should ever be able to stop you from doing that.

    But many religious organizations, CAtholics included, need to reach beyond that and FORCE peoples’ personal, private choices . That’s a horrible affront to what a free society is.

  125. steve12on 22 Aug 2015 at 6:06 pm

    Michael – quick simple Q:

    Should a town be able to pass an ordinance banning sex out of wedlock in the US? A state? The federal gov’t?

  126. steve12on 22 Aug 2015 at 6:06 pm

    Michael – quick simple Q:

    Should a town be able to pass an ordinance banning sex out of wedlock in the US? A state? The federal gov’t?

  127. jsterritton 22 Aug 2015 at 6:11 pm

    “Sex… is a physical manifestation of God’s love–a participation in His creation.”

    This is your personal, baseless, bossy, nosey superstition. As an opinion, it is utterly without supporting evidence. I will not fault you for having an opinion, but I will fault you for imperiously — and without a jot of evidence — referring to it as a fact. And then moralizing about it, which is the laziest, meanest kind of tautological, fallacious reasoning.

    You are stupid by the standards of critical thinking and logic. When you get called out on this, you invoke diabolical rules of your own fancy, derived from nothing more than your personal beliefs. Your nonsensical false choice arguments about AIDS, abstinence, and morality are the most offensive things I’ve read in a long, long time. Your humility rings false: you have an answer for everything, even a “cure” for AIDS. And, conveniently, you also have a disdain for the only system of knowledge that weeds out your particular, nasty inclinations towards bias and authoritarianism.

    On top of all of this, you are a rambling idiot. Perhaps you are sleep deprived (or high as a kite). Or worse, this is just how you are: puffed-up with pomposity and delusions of importance, rightness, and grandeur.

  128. Pete Aon 22 Aug 2015 at 6:47 pm

    Mumadadd wrote: “Aquinas may have had a valid argument for god, but his premises are a work of fiction.”

    I very much doubt that Aquinas ever started to comprehend what the term “valid argument” actually means. If Aquinas ever wrote anything that could be construed as valid, it was either by random chance or by being latterly misconstrued for the purpose of promoting an ideology.

    Relying on Aquinas for moral guidance has been demonstrated to be even more dangerous than relying on Andrew Wakefield for medical guidance.

    “Thomas Aquinas, in his book of Sentences (IV, 38, 2, 4), established the authority and inviolability of conscience in words similar to Father Ratzinger’s: ‘Anyone upon whom the ecclesiastical authorities, in ignorance of the true facts, impose a demand that offends against his clear conscience should perish in excommunication rather than violate his conscience.’ For any Catholic in search of truth, no stronger statement on the authority and inviolability of personal conscience could be found, but Aquinas goes further. He insists that even the dictate of an erroneous conscience must be followed and that to act against such a dictate is immoral.” — Michael G. Lawler & Todd A. Salzman, 2015-02-02
    americamagazine[dot]org/issue/following-faithfully

    So, when a Catholic’s conscience dictates them to molest/rape/murder/colonise/indoctrinate/whatever then it is immoral for that person to act against their conscience. Okay, now I fully understand why endless shit happens. The source of ‘original sin’ is definitely not Adam & Eve: they are just fictitious scapegoats created for the sole [and soul] purpose of justifying all immoral deeds.

    I truly thank Christians for leading me out of the clutches [and crutches] of religion, and into becoming an atheist humanist.

  129. Willyon 22 Aug 2015 at 9:18 pm

    From the whaddya know department:

    In doing research for an upcoming trip to New Zealand, I just found out that New Zealand has NO native land mammals beyond bats. They do have some aquatic mammals also. I wonder what the intelligent designer, er, Intelligent Designer, had in mind here?

  130. michaelegnoron 22 Aug 2015 at 10:22 pm

    @steve12:

    [But many religious organizations, CAtholics included, need to reach beyond that and FORCE peoples’ personal, private choices . That’s a horrible affront to what a free society is]

    So which metaphysical basis for government–Christian or atheist–is most likely to use force to impose constraints on personal life?

    Atheist:

    USSR
    Communist China
    North Korea

    Christian:

    United States
    England
    Sweden

    Atheism has a lousy track record on human rights. In fact, every atheist government has been totalitarian.

    Christianity has a pretty good record (“Endowed by their Creator…”). There’s been some imperfections, but overall not bad.

    An atheist complaining about oppressive government is like Michael Jackson complaining about drug-addicted child molesters.

    I’ve never understood how an atheist can criticize Christianity for the kind of governments in engenders. Look in a mirror, and tell me about political oppression.

  131. michaelegnoron 22 Aug 2015 at 10:24 pm

    @steve12:

    [How about this?
    PERSUADE people not to have sex out of wedlock
    PERSUADE gay people not to marry
    PERSUADE the terminally ill not to end their lives.
    PERSUADE people not to use condoms.
    PERSUADE people not to divorce]

    You forgot one:

    PERSUADE people to bake you a wedding cake.

  132. michaelegnoron 22 Aug 2015 at 10:26 pm

    [Should a town be able to pass an ordinance banning sex out of wedlock in the US? A state? The federal gov’t?]

    Of course it should be able to. There’s no Constitutional prohibition on such an ordinance.

    Whether it should do so is another question. Enforcement would be a problem, given that the politicians all subscribe to Ashley Madison.

  133. michaelegnoron 22 Aug 2015 at 10:28 pm

    jsterritt:

    [On top of all of this, you are a rambling idiot. Perhaps you are sleep deprived (or high as a kite). Or worse, this is just how you are: puffed-up with pomposity and delusions of importance, rightness, and grandeur.]

    Stop holding back. Let us know how you really feel.

  134. michaelegnoron 22 Aug 2015 at 10:29 pm

    @willy:

    […They do have some aquatic mammals also. I wonder what the intelligent designer, er, Intelligent Designer, had in mind here?]

    You’ll have an opportunity to ask Him.

  135. Willyon 22 Aug 2015 at 11:03 pm

    Dr. Egnor: I suspect I won’t, whether I am right or you are right. Sadly, if I’m right, I won’t be able to say I told you so (LOL). If you are right, I will suffer for eternity–a rather long time–for honestly not being able to logically accept the ideas of the Christian religion. I can assure you that I am a decent human being who generally lives up to high moral and ethical standards. Yet…I will roast (or whatever) for eternity! if you are right.

    Seems kind of askew, no? What kind of benevolent creator would set up such a system?

  136. Willyon 22 Aug 2015 at 11:16 pm

    Dr. Egnor

    A brief history of time:

    1) God creates the Garden of Eden–His supreme creation(humans) foul that plan up almost immediately–because they ate a piece of fruit that bestowed knowledge!?!?.
    2) God gives them another chance, albeit no longer in paradise. Still no dice–bring on the Flood (and leave New Zealand without mammals?).
    3) Things STILL don’t work out, so he has to temporarily sacrifice 1/3 of himself in order to be able to forgive us. His chosen people, the Jews, still don’t think Jesus was the savior of Israel as forecast in the OT–and we must all admit that, as a people, they have suffered enormously yet not been swayed from their fundamental beliefs.
    4) Two thousand years after his last, (best?) solution, not 25% of humanity, and probably a lot less depending on who is doing the interpreting, still hasn’t gotten it. Most of us are still toast!? If he’s omniscient, why is his record so awful?

    I present the above not in a sarcastic way (though hopefully with a bit of humor), but to try to make you understand how ridiculous this whole thing seems to me, and many others. No matter what, I CANNOT buy into this silly scheme. The “being” capable of creating the amazing universe COULD NOT POSSIBLY be this childish and petty.

  137. michaelegnoron 22 Aug 2015 at 11:17 pm

    @jsterrit:

    [This is your personal, baseless, bossy, nosey superstition. As an opinion, it is utterly without supporting evidence.]

    I tried to get my metaphysical grant funded, but alas no.

    [I will not fault you for having an opinion, but I will fault you for imperiously — and without a jot of evidence — referring to it as a fact. And then moralizing about it, which is the laziest, meanest kind of tautological, fallacious reasoning.]

    Moralizing (noun): calling something lazy, mean, tautological and fallacious.

    [You are stupid by the standards of critical thinking and logic.]

    I’m two standard deviations below the critical thinking/logic mean.

    [When you get called out on this, you invoke diabolical rules of your own fancy, derived from nothing more than your personal beliefs.]

    I should express other people’s beliefs more often.

    [Your nonsensical false choice arguments]

    ‘Nonsensical’ can’t be ‘false’, because to have testable truth value it has to make sense.

    [… about AIDS, abstinence, and morality are the most offensive things I’ve read in a long, long time.]

    You need to read more widely. Check out the Planned Parenthood business plan.

    [Your humility rings false: you have an answer for everything,]

    I’ll try to be more dumfounded in the future…

    [even a “cure” for AIDS.]

    Atripla cures AIDS. Chastity prevents AIDS.

    AIDS is a disease highly associated with behavior–like lung cancer and smoking, vehicular death and drunk driving, gastritis and eating rotten food, diabetes and gluttony, etc.

    Yet of all the completely preventable fatal disorders, AIDS is the only one in which the prevention is considered worse than the disease.

    Odd.

    [And, conveniently, you also have a disdain for the only system of knowledge that weeds out your particular, nasty inclinations towards bias and authoritarianism.]

    Why is calling out genocide “disdain” for science? “Hey–it’s ok to sterilize poor people against their will and let them die unnecessarily from malaria. What are you, a science denier?”

    [On top of all of this, you are a rambling idiot.]

    A veritable fool.

    [Perhaps you are sleep deprived]

    You would be too, if you had a job.

    [Or worse, this is just how you are: puffed-up with pomposity and delusions of importance, rightness, and grandeur.]

    That’s why I’m trying so hard to fit in and please ya’all.

  138. michaelegnoron 22 Aug 2015 at 11:27 pm

    @Willy:

    [I can assure you that I am a decent human being who generally lives up to high moral and ethical standards. Yet…I will roast (or whatever) for eternity! if you are right.
    Seems kind of askew, no? What kind of benevolent creator would set up such a system?]

    His existence is independent of your estimate of his temperament.

    This is the Church’s position (as I understand it):

    1) We do not know who is damned, or if anyone will be damned.

    2) Damnation is a decision made by the damn-ee, not the Damn-er.

    How could you be in His presence for eternity, if you don’t want to be there? You seem to dislike Him so. Perhaps Heaven would be your Hell.

  139. michaelegnoron 22 Aug 2015 at 11:36 pm

    @willy:

    [1) God creates the Garden of Eden–His supreme creation(humans) foul that plan up almost immediately–because they ate a piece of fruit that bestowed knowledge!?!?.]

    Catholic theology (as I understand it):

    Genesis is a mixture of history and metaphor. Eden is substantially metaphorical. “Fruit” is ‘of the tree of knowledge of good and evil’–setting up our own morality, against God’s.

    [2) God gives them another chance, albeit no longer in paradise. Still no dice–bring on the Flood (and leave New Zealand without mammals?).]

    There’s pretty good historical evidence for a huge flood, at least in the middle east. Two ancient sources reference it, independent of Genesis. As to the morality of it–it’s His creation. We just live here.

    [3) Things STILL don’t work out, so he has to temporarily sacrifice 1/3 of himself in order to be able to forgive us. His chosen people, the Jews, still don’t think Jesus was the savior of Israel as forecast in the OT–and we must all admit that, as a people, they have suffered enormously yet not been swayed from their fundamental beliefs.]

    Jesus ain’t a third of the Godhead. Ya gotta get the theology of the Trinity right.

    [4) Two thousand years after his last, (best?) solution, not 25% of humanity, and probably a lot less depending on who is doing the interpreting, still hasn’t gotten it. Most of us are still toast!? If he’s omniscient, why is his record so awful?]

    The way to God is throughChrist. That does not mean that knowing Christ is an absolute prerequisite for beatitude. In fact, the NT mentions Elijah and Moses at the Transfiguration. Neither knew Christ in life.

    We are bound by His sacraments. He is not bound. He may save anyone He chooses. I pray for His grace.

  140. michaelegnoron 22 Aug 2015 at 11:39 pm

    @willy:

    [If he’s omniscient, why is his record so awful?]

    We are created in His image, which means free will.

    It is our record, not His, that is awful.

    He tried awful hard to rectify that.

  141. arnieon 23 Aug 2015 at 6:30 am

    It has long been known that arguing with deluded people and their delusions only feeds both. I suggest we cease stimulating ME in this blog to keep proving that already known fact? His delusional thinking is as fixed as it is false and trying to impose reality, logic, and critical thinking into it will only harden his defenses and more securely seal his commitment to his delusional convictions. Ignoring him would at least diminish his ability to manipulate and dominate Steven’s blogs.

  142. arnieon 23 Aug 2015 at 6:57 am

    Correction: In my comment above, delete question mark and replace with period.

  143. michaelegnoron 23 Aug 2015 at 9:22 am

    @arnie:

    [His delusional thinking is as fixed as it is false…]

    delusion (noun): the belief that nothing caused everything, life happened by chance for no reason, nothing is ultimately right or wrong, and that ‘survivors survived’ is a scientific theory.

  144. Willyon 23 Aug 2015 at 11:28 am

    Dr. Egnor: Each of your “answers” are of a nature that a believer of any religion could give to similar questions regarding their beliefs. Can you not see that, to a non-believer, they are not answers at all. They are precisely equivalent to the “answers” Hank’s followers gave in mummadad’s story above.

    As for not understanding the Trinity, 1) my wording was sufficient to get the idea across to you, which was the whole point, and 2) I’m in a very large majority when it comes to not grasping the three-in-one concept. I don’t think anyone, even you , really “gets it”. I see no point in wrestling with the subtleties (absurdities) of the Trinity.

    delusional (adjective): believing that everything must be explainable except the First Cause, which needs no explanation.

  145. Pete Aon 23 Aug 2015 at 12:24 pm

    Arnie, I think you were referring to the “backfire effect”:

    “The Misconception: When your beliefs are challenged with facts, you alter your opinions and incorporate the new information into your thinking.

    The Truth: When your deepest convictions are challenged by contradictory evidence, your beliefs get stronger.” — David McRaney
    http://youarenotsosmart.com/2011/06/10/the-backfire-effect/

    See also:
    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Backfire_effect

  146. jsterritton 23 Aug 2015 at 12:53 pm

    Dr Egnor…

    Your glib and fatuous replies to earnest and important criticisms show that you are first and foremost a troll.

    In no particular order:

    No, Atripla doesn’t cure AIDS (your ignorance, as a medical doctor, is unforgivable). Chastity of course prevents sexually-transmitted HIV, but in the case of abstinence, the old saw about “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” simply doesn’t hold true, for the reason that abstinence-as-prevention does not work[1]. Moreover, “promoting marriage (Be faithful) as a prevention measure … negates one of the highest risk groups in Africa: monogamous, married women.”[2][3]. Claiming a bogus preventative measure as an effective healthcare intervention puts you in the company of witch doctors, homeopaths, and cancer quacks (i.e., a charlatan). Stumping for interventions that are not only ineffective, but that asymmetrically injure a particularly vulnerable, at-risk population shows just which people you are most at ease sacrificing for your failed ideals. This is why I call you diabolical: you (who are not paying the price of disease in Africa) condemn science-based interventions in favor of a personal ideology, a belief system that you would force on others and have the temerity to call “healthcare.” Your halo is on fire, doctor.

    Your string of straw man arguments defending yourself against your well-founded disdain for science is a hoot. As has been pointed out in this comment thread, your words are right there ^ for everyone to read, yourself included. But you act like you never wrote them, but merely spoke out against genocide (a bold stance, to be sure). Then you call me a science denier, but you know, in a funny way (like all your attempts at humor here, they only add insult to injury and show your contempt for the issues you moralize about). More on moralizing below.

    As for my having a job, not only do I have one (hell, I’m a job creator), but I’m also pursuing an advanced physics degree (and I’m no spring chicken). I’m not lucky like you to have fooled myself into thinking the answers to all life’s difficult and thorny questions are to be found in a single, silly book and an outsized self-regard. And do you really think it’s funny or a testament to your awesomeness that you are a sleep-deprived surgeon?!?!?!. You really are stupid.

    Lastly, what does it say about you as person that you are comfortable manufacturing fake definitions for words, rather than look in a f*cking dictionary:

    Moralize (verb; often as noun moralizing)
    To comment on issues of right and wrong, typically with an unfounded air of superiority

    Dr Egnor, you are a rotten debater, a lazy thinker, and a troll. Maybe a good night’s sleep will show you that at least one of these (and as many as all three) should be a great source of embarrassment.

    _____
    [1] STUDY: Abstinence Education Has Zero Effect on Sexual Activity; http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/27/health/american-hiv-battle-in-africa-said-to-falter.html?_r=0
    [2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1564179/#pmed-0030379-b050
    [3] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2141609/

  147. Pete Aon 23 Aug 2015 at 1:10 pm

    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Michael_Egnor

  148. arnieon 23 Aug 2015 at 1:21 pm

    Pete A,
    Exactly.

  149. steve12on 24 Aug 2015 at 12:06 am

    Michael:

    “So which metaphysical basis for government–Christian or atheist–is most likely to use force to impose constraints on personal life?”

    “PERSUADE people to bake you a wedding cake.”

    Cutesy dodges. You have to wonder about someone who avoids all the questions that they know they can’t answer

  150. steve12on 24 Aug 2015 at 12:26 am

    Micheal

    wow….at least you didn’t dodge this one…

    >[Should a town be able to pass an ordinance banning sex out of wedlock in the US? A state? The >federal gov’t?]
    >Of course it should be able to. There’s no Constitutional prohibition on such an ordinance.

    Of course there is. The SCOTUS has firmly established a right to privacy. 1st, 4th & 10th (maybe most applicable) amendments; Griswold v. CT; Roe v. Wade; Lawrence v. Texas (maybe the most applicable here);

    Legally, you’re just plain wrong. This question has been adjudicated repeatedly. But this really represents the larger sickness of many (but certainly not all) religious types.

    They have a need to coerce. Michael, I’m sure, is aware that this has been adjudicated. But he needs to pretend that the right to TAKE AWAY MY VERY FREEDOM for hooking up with a girl in a bar is intact should enough people vote with him. It’s a state of denial about all the case law – there’s a need to feel that the right to run my private life is intact, if not exercised.

    And then to point to the more coercive USSR et al. as being somehow exculpatory of this odious position is sort of…logically incoherent. Very strange “reasoning”.

  151. steve12on 24 Aug 2015 at 12:31 am

    “Your glib and fatuous replies to earnest and important criticisms show that you are first and foremost a troll.”

    It’s actually worse than this. I called it a “cutesy dodge”. He is quite able to answer all of our questions, but lacks the intellectual honesty to do so. So we get serious answers when he feels he’s on good ground, and glib and cutesy ones when he knows he might have to give up some ground.

    And then is you piss him off, he puts words in your mouth and makes horrible accusations.

  152. michaelegnoron 24 Aug 2015 at 8:38 am

    I answer serious questions (if I feel like it) with serious answers.

    I answer idiot questions with sarcasm.

    A consistent characteristic of the atheist personality is conceit. Atheists (at least the New Atheist variety) have a delusional pride in their own intellect. Of course their beliefs are actually just a hodgepodge of silly self-refuting conceits they acquired in junior high and from the book jacket of Dawkins’ latest pamphlet. The low level of intellectual rigor in the atheist camp is remarkable, and it continues to amaze me even after all these years. Atheists are caricatures of the semi-educated fool.

    My goal here is simple. I want to dissuade you from the erroneous view that atheism can be defended intellectually.

  153. The Other John Mcon 24 Aug 2015 at 8:55 am

    Ok — show us some empirical evidence there is a god. It’s got to be slam-dunk, and extremely compelling. Then I’ll be sold. Until then, I doubt few people are interested in your unsubstantiated brain dumpings.

  154. mumadaddon 24 Aug 2015 at 9:21 am

    Michael,

    Have at it then. Revelation, even if god really is communicating with you, is no basis for anyone but you to believe – the sensible position is to reject it.

  155. michaelegnoron 24 Aug 2015 at 9:26 am

    @mac:

    [Ok — show us some empirical evidence there is a god.]

    Evidence:

    Is it morally wrong to torture children?

    I am not asking about people’s opinions about it, but whether there is an objective moral law that exists independently of human opinion by which torturing children is wrong.

    If there is an objective moral law, then God exists.

    Here’s the logic:

    If God does not exist, there is no objective moral law.
    There is objective moral law.
    Therefore God exists.

    There are many proofs of God’s existence. The argument from moral law is generally the most effective one for atheists, because most atheists don’t understand the more sophisticated reasoning of the cosmological proofs, the ontological proof, the teleological proof, the proof from sufficient reason, etc.

    For atheists, its generally necessary to use the simple proofs, without big words.

  156. michaelegnoron 24 Aug 2015 at 9:29 am

    @mumadadd:

    [Have at it then. Revelation, even if god really is communicating with you, is no basis for anyone but you to believe – the sensible position is to reject it.]

    Christianity is a relationship with a Person, not a logical exercise. The logic can bring you to the awareness of the general fact that God exists, but to know the Person, you need to ask Him to show you more about Himself. That’s revelation.

  157. mumadaddon 24 Aug 2015 at 9:37 am

    Okay, it’s no good for the purposes of convincing anyone who doesn’t directly experience it themselves.

  158. mumadaddon 24 Aug 2015 at 9:37 am

    Okay, *but*…

  159. steve12on 24 Aug 2015 at 9:42 am

    “I answer serious questions (if I feel like it) with serious answers.
    I answer idiot questions with sarcasm.”

    Simply false. You ignore questions that are inconvenient to your point.

  160. steve12on 24 Aug 2015 at 9:45 am

    “My goal here is simple. I want to dissuade you from the erroneous view that atheism can be defended intellectually.”

    This actually requires a seperate post.

    IF you want to do this ( and I don’t believe you really do), then you would
    1. Stop selectively answering
    2. Stop making up lies about us when you get emotional at our responses.

    The notion that you’re really here to persuade is nonsense. I will say, in almost all cases on the blogosphere this is nonsense as well so you’re in good (or at least numerous) company.

  161. The Other John Mcon 24 Aug 2015 at 10:02 am

    Still waiting on that empirical evidence of god you promised…
    Instead of only brain dumpings…

  162. Bruceon 24 Aug 2015 at 10:14 am

    “If there is an objective moral law, then God exists.”

    For this to be true you have to assume that only god could give us morals, so you can’t use morality in the proof that god exists. This is a critical error in logic, look up circular reasoning.

    This is why ME pisses me off. He comes off as being intellectual and all superior but he can’t seem to grasp Logic 101.

    AND then he accuses atheists of having delusional pride in their own intellect.

    http://i.imgur.com/ywNvc5i.gif

  163. michaelegnoron 24 Aug 2015 at 10:28 am

    @Bruce:

    Modus tollens:

    If God does not exist, there is no objective moral law.
    There is objective moral law.
    Therefore God exists.

    Point to the error.

  164. The Other John Mcon 24 Aug 2015 at 10:31 am

    You are assuming there is objective moral law.
    You are assuming objective moral law exists hand in hand with god’s existence, but they are separate questions.
    You are just then claiming at the end of those silly statements that “therefore god exists”.

    STILL waiting on that empirical, compelling evidence…….

  165. The Other John Mcon 24 Aug 2015 at 10:34 am

    This is where Mike turns around and accuses me of wanting to torture babies….3…2….1 because I don’t see that there is an objective moral law.

  166. NotAMarsupialon 24 Aug 2015 at 10:36 am

    @MichaelEgnor

    I’ve been lurking on this blog for years and have seen you poke your head in and out once in a while. In the past I’ve enjoyed reading the dialogue and you gave a fascinating insight into the belief system of the “other side of the fence.”

    After reading this exchange I’m convinced that you are a small man who has dug his ideological trench so deep that you can no longer see the real world over the edge. You lit the kindling to take the conversation off topic. Your accusations of racism and your snarky (prejudiced) remarks about atheists are really not becoming of a man who preaches morality and represents the Discovery Institute. I wish you well as a doctor but, and I know this has zero impact on you given that I’m just a simple atheist, I would personally prefer you were no longer a public figure.

  167. michaelegnoron 24 Aug 2015 at 10:39 am

    @Mac:

    [This is where Mike turns around and accuses me of wanting to torture babies….3…2….1 because I don’t see that there is an objective moral law.]

    I know that you don’t want to torture babies.

    The question is: is the prohibition on torturing babies mere human opinion, or is there something about it that is wrong that transcends mere opinion?

    It seems obvious that torturing babies is wrong in a way that transcends opinion. It’s just wrong. Period. It would be wrong even if everyone thought it was right.

    There are things that are objectively right and wrong.

    If they are not mere human opinions, they must have a source that transcends humanity.

  168. The Other John Mcon 24 Aug 2015 at 10:40 am

    Still waiting on that evidence for god…

  169. michaelegnoron 24 Aug 2015 at 10:41 am

    @marsupial:

    [I would personally prefer you were no longer a public figure.]

    That’s my goal. I’m not here to please you.

  170. michaelegnoron 24 Aug 2015 at 10:45 am

    @Other mac:

    [Still waiting on that evidence for god…]

    All I can do is inform you. I can’t make you smarter.

  171. The Other John Mcon 24 Aug 2015 at 10:45 am

    “It seems obvious that torturing babies is wrong”

    “It seems obvious”

    It SEEMS obvious. SEEMS.

    This is your slam-drunk philosophical proof, accomplished with breathe-defying mental gymanastics, eh? Something that seems obvious to you, and just kinda sorta feels right?

    WAITING. ON. EVIDENCE. STILL.

  172. jsterritton 24 Aug 2015 at 10:49 am

    @NotAMarsupial

    “After reading this exchange I’m convinced that you are a small man who has dug his ideological trench so deep that you can no longer see the real world over the edge. You lit the kindling to take the conversation off topic. Your accusations of racism and your snarky (prejudiced) remarks about atheists are really not becoming of a man who preaches morality.”

    I second this thoughtful summary of Dr Egnor’s contributions to this discussion. Egnor has been mean, hostile, childish, and evasive. This last is particularly troubling, since it was Egnor who hijacked the thread in the first place.

    Troll, heal thyself…

  173. The Other John Mcon 24 Aug 2015 at 10:49 am

    It seems obvious to me there is no god. Therefore, there is no god.

    I just proved the converse, using the same structure as you. Pretty nifty, eh?

  174. steve12on 24 Aug 2015 at 10:58 am

    Egnor: “All I can do is inform you. I can’t make you smarter.”

    You don’t give flip, shallow answers to complex questions. No way.

    You have to ignore or dodge all of the questions that could cast doubt on any of your positions.

    And then the ultimate irony – saying we’re filled with “conceit”! Shouldn’t someone claiming there’s a GOD be a little more humble before him? Acknowledge some mystery and contradiction?

    Your writing is the very essence of knowing everything! Reading your writing, one has to wonder if the God that you believe in is Jesus Christ or Michael Egnor…..

  175. michaelegnoron 24 Aug 2015 at 11:02 am

    @mac:

    The first premise and the logical structure of the Moral Argument are unassailable.

    People who deny it deny the second premise: “There is a Moral Law”.

    You of course can deny that.

    When atheists deny that torturing children (or the Holocaust, etc) are objectively morally wrong, we Christians win the argument, because denial that torturing children is objectively wrong is a repellant assertion that no sane decent person can seriously embrace.

  176. michaelegnoron 24 Aug 2015 at 11:04 am

    @steve 12:

    [Acknowledge some mystery and contradiction?]

    There’s a ton of mystery and contradiction. We’re the finite trying to understand the Infinite.

    But there’s no mystery or contradiction in the basic proofs of God’s existence.

  177. michaelegnoron 24 Aug 2015 at 11:13 am

    [one has to wonder if the God that you believe in is Jesus Christ or Michael Egnor…..]

    I believe we both exist. His existence can be proven with greater certainty than mine. He’s logically necessary. I’m contingent.

  178. Bruceon 24 Aug 2015 at 11:36 am

    I can most definitely deny that there is a universal Moral Law. Each of us has their own morality compass and while 99.99999999999% of humans will agree that torturing babies is wrong, some will not. If this were not the case then it would not happen.

    Case in point is that the Holocaust happened! The very happening of it denies your premise that there is a universal Moral Law because the people perpetrating it did not see it as going against their own moral law.

    “I believe we both exist. His existence can be proven with greater certainty than mine. He’s logically necessary. I’m contingent.”

    You would question your own existence before you would question the existence of jesus christ or god. I think that displays just how lost this discussion is.

  179. Pete Aon 24 Aug 2015 at 11:43 am

    All Michael is doing here is pissing into the wind. He might feel relieved, but he’s made an unsightly mess.

  180. michaelegnoron 24 Aug 2015 at 11:43 am

    @Bruce:

    People can choose to obey the Moral Law or not. The Nazis chose not.

    Sometimes people of good will (not Nazis) are confused about the Moral Law and make wrong decisions.

    But the Moral Law exists objectively. The Holocaust was objectively wrong. It is not a matter of opinion.

    [You would question your own existence before you would question the existence of jesus christ or god.]

    There is a difference between contingent existance (me) and necessary existance (God) (cf. Aquinas’ Third Way). You need to read more.

  181. steve12on 24 Aug 2015 at 12:02 pm

    “But there’s no mystery or contradiction in the basic proofs of God’s existence.”

    Not just that. There’s no mystery in the politics, the science, the law. Not much of anything is a mystery according to you, at least not here.

    In a way I get it: I want my surgeon to be like my airline pilot: well trained but cocksure.

    That personality does not seem to jibe with the ecclesiastical seeker, however, and makes you come off as a disingenuous politico in that regard. You know the mind of God much too well for me to take you seriously in that capacity.

  182. michaelegnoron 24 Aug 2015 at 12:09 pm

    @steve12:

    I’ve noticed over these years that these kinds of conversations hew to a pattern.

    A scientist/Darwinist/atheist makes a point that is in some sense misguided.

    I point out what I believe is the misguidance.

    We debate that for a while.

    Then God comes up.

    The argument is made that belief in God is foolish.

    I refute that argument.

    I am accused of not being a good Christian because your arguments aren’t tenable.

    It’s amusing and predictable. What I haven’t ever encountered in this process is an intelligent rigorous reply to the classic arguments for God’s existence.

  183. mumadaddon 24 Aug 2015 at 12:13 pm

    Name the argument, I’ll link to the refutation.

  184. mumadaddon 24 Aug 2015 at 12:18 pm

    Also, if you want to argue deism, fair enough, but even if you can logically demonstrate that a god must exist, you still have not come close to demonstrating that the deity in question is the god of the bible – projection and confirmation bias are still just that.

  185. Bruceon 24 Aug 2015 at 12:23 pm

    “But the Moral Law exists objectively. The Holocaust was objectively wrong. It is not a matter of opinion.”

    There you go again, cutting out opinion when it suits you and switching “morally” and “objectively” without a blink.

    “There is a difference between contingent existance (me) and necessary existance (God) (cf. Aquinas’ Third Way). You need to read more.”

    Existence is not necessarily defined as necessary by a christian god by aquinas. That something started existence does not mean that god or jesus christ existed! One of a countless number of things could have created the first moment (Flying Spaghetti Monster anyone?). That you are claiming that this is more evidence of existence of your christian god than you yourself living and breathing right now is honestly quite astounding.

    I do read, I just know bullshit when I see it.

  186. steve12on 24 Aug 2015 at 12:24 pm

    “I am accused of not being a good Christian because your arguments aren’t tenable.”

    You haven’t really done any of the stuff that you think you have re: the logic of God, but I’m completely non-interested in any of that. This is why I’ve stayed out this portion of the discussion – it’s boring, trite nonsense that doesn’t hold my interest.

    With you, I’m not interested in the science part either. Despite your obvious talent and training as a surgeon (which I do not dispute), you are not a scientist (I’ve read your thoughts on science) so I’m not interested in discussing any of that either. It’s boring, TBH.

    However, I think you follow a larger pattern of some religious people: you’re politics first, really, and don’t even realize it. There’s much less ecclesiastical wondering and much more “I wanna force you to do X, Y and Z”. We are a free society, and your political ideas (I don’t regard them as religious, IOW) should be debated. And in many (most? IDK?) cases defeated IMO.

  187. michaelegnoron 24 Aug 2015 at 12:26 pm

    @muma:

    [Name the argument, I’ll link to the refutation.]

    The moral argument I just made. No links (I can link too. It accomplishes nothing). Your refutation.

    [Also, if you want to argue deism, fair enough, but even if you can logically demonstrate that a god must exist, you still have not come close to demonstrating that the deity in question is the god of the bible – projection and confirmation bias are still just that.]

    Omnipotence and omniscence are demonstrated by the cosmological arguments and the teleological argument. Benevolence is demonstrated by the Argument from Moral Law.

    That God is a carpenter from Galilee is a matter of revelation, not proof.

  188. michaelegnoron 24 Aug 2015 at 12:43 pm

    @steve12:

    [I think you follow a larger pattern of some religious people: you’re politics first, really, and don’t even realize it. There’s much less ecclesiastical wondering and much more “I wanna force you to do X, Y and Z”. We are a free society, and your political ideas (I don’t regard them as religious, IOW) should be debated. And in many (most? IDK?) cases defeated IMO.]

    I certainly have strong political views, that are consistent (I think) with my Christian faith. I think Christians should engage culture more aggressively.

    Regarding the ecclesiastical wondering, I attend Mass daily (if I can) and I pray for 30 min-1 hr daily and I try to pray the Daily Office.

    I do a lot of ecclesiastical wondering and contemplation in prayer.

    For me, the logical proofs have been very helpful, because I don’t any longer have to waste my time on the basics (which I used to have to do). God exists. His basic qualities (omnipotence, benevolence,etc) are logically demonstrable.

    Now I work on getting to know Him personally, which is through prayer, contemplation and the Eucharist. I’m no Deist. Logic is merely the entry into knowing Him. Getting to know Him is another thing entirely.

  189. steve12on 24 Aug 2015 at 12:48 pm

    ” God exists. His basic qualities (omnipotence, benevolence,etc) are logically demonstrable.”

    Super.

    Following this, how much of our laws should respect one’s right to be secular? To be free from religion? If we can logically demonstrate that there is certainly a God, then should the law reflect this?

    Should sex out of wedlock, pornography, homosexual sex, masturbation (to whatever extent enforcable) – be criminalized?

    What about publically professing that God does not exist? Should this be illegal?

    If not, why not?

  190. Willyon 24 Aug 2015 at 12:58 pm

    Dr. Egnor: There are and have been many formally trained philosophers who are or were atheists. To me, this shows that your “proofs” are not proofs at all. If they were actually proofs, they would be accepted by all.

  191. arnieon 24 Aug 2015 at 1:00 pm

    Fellow commenters,

    I think we pretty much all agree that virtually every word ME writes is grandiose, delusional, self-serving and self-confirming BS. Not one rational statement and question anyone else has written has penetrated his irrational defenses. I submit that the notion that he has “hijacked” the blog has a grain of truth to it but is essentially an illusion. If we focus a little better, I think we will see that we have been fully complicit in his effort to hijack and disrupt the blog. If we keep doing the same think repeatedly but expect different results, aren’t we also verging on a type of delusion? Don’t get sidetracked by this guy’s title and medical credentials. He has long given a great deal of evidence that he is a manipulative, illogical and grandiose troll who is “getting off” on his success in hooking us into feeding and reinforcing his grandiosity and limitless need for attention. I suspect he hides behind the illusion (smoke screen) of morality with which he has cleverly surrounded himself. Frankly, I don’t trust it one bit.

    I write this as a plea, not a criticism. I’ve been very impressed by the quality of your responses to him. But totally unimpressed by the impact on him.

  192. Pete Aon 24 Aug 2015 at 1:16 pm

    Teleological argument: aka argument from design or intelligent design argument, which is an argument for the existence of God (or other intelligent creator) based on *perceived* evidence of deliberate design.

    In other words, it is a circular argument: its main premise is its conclusion. Therefore, it is not even wrong. Logic 101.

    I’ve explained this before, but Michael endlessly regurgitate his tired old claptrap because he has zero empirical evidence to support his assertions. Belief without evidence is claiming to know things that you don’t know. Furthermore, what can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence. Michael owns the burden of proof for his claims — he has none, neither has the DI. I dismiss Michael’s claims and those of the DI, for which I don’t even need a reason.

    I fully agree with Arnie’s comment above.

  193. Willyon 24 Aug 2015 at 1:26 pm

    arnie: I disagree. I think Dr, Egnor is wrong, but I don’t think he’s truly delusional. He has a viewpoint that, to him, is consistent and logical. I am appreciating that he has taken time in the last couple of days to try and explain some of his thoughts. I wish he answered more questions directly and his claim that all atheists are ignorant (paraphrase) is foolish, ridiculous, and flat wrong. His personality characteristics are what they are and I can accept that. I ain’t perfect either (darned close, tho LOL).

    I agree that all of us have “hijacked” the blog in terms of deviating from the original thrust of Dr. Novella’s post, but I am enjoying where we’ve gone. Deviating from original points seems to be a universal thing in the blogosphere. I hope this thread will continue as I am learning something about how a believer thinks.

  194. michaelegnoron 24 Aug 2015 at 1:48 pm

    Willy:

    [I am learning something about how a believer thinks.]

    I was hoping for that. I have no illusions about dramatically changing minds. But atheists tend to have little real knowledge of what serious Christians believe and do.

    You may not agree with us. But Christianity taken seriously is a profound thing.

    PeteA:

    [Teleological argument: aka argument from design or intelligent design argument, which is an argument for the existence of God (or other intelligent creator) based on *perceived* evidence of deliberate design.In other words, it is a circular argument: its main premise is its conclusion.]

    The teleological argument is very strong and I find it most persuasive.

    It is the argument from order (laws) in nature.

    I like Aquinas version (5th way):

    Natural objects without minds usually act toward ends–rocks fall to earth, leaves turn brown, water flows, etc.

    Acting toward an end is evidence for a mind.

    Natural objects don’t have minds.

    A transcendent Mind directs their actions.

    A simple and ubiquitous example: an electron orbiting a proton. The electron behaves in quite specific ways, according to the laws of quantum mechanics. But electrons are stupid–they know nothing about quantum mechanics.

    Thus, the ordered action of an electron orbiting a proton is the consequence of a transcendant Mind.

    For atheists who say that there is no evidence for God in nature: every electron orbiting every proton is evidence for God in nature.

    All order and law in nature is evidence of God.

  195. arnieon 24 Aug 2015 at 1:49 pm

    Willy: I can appreciate your point of view and I have argued with myself to what degree he’s delusional in the psychiatric sense or only in the “Dawsonian” sense. I do suspect he has enough intelligence and training in scientific method and critical thinking to realize how actually inconsistent and illogical his fixed beliefs are. The fact that he doesn’t seem to have any comprehension of that makes me actually lean more toward unconscious, fixed (psychiatric) level of delusion. However, his clever avoidance of speaking to so many questions and his playful, sarcastic, almost sadistic, interactions and manipulativeness raise the question, instead, of out and out disingenuousness. But that’s a whole other category and I won’t go further with it. I agree with you that “his personality characteristics are what they are” and I can also accept that. (Since you’re so close, Willy, I’m probably a lot less perfect than even you LOL).

    If you are enjoying the exchanges and want them to continue, I’m ok with that. I felt the same for a while but have lost my appetite for the continuing feeding of his nonsense, whatever the sincere or bogus nature of it. I still think, at heart, he’s a troll on this blog rather than someone trying authentically to contribute to a constructive dialogue. But I guess I don’t have to continue reading, do I? LOL

  196. michaelegnoron 24 Aug 2015 at 1:52 pm

    A note on the proofs:

    Most apologists prefer the Argument from Moral Law, because it is intiutive for many people who are not inclined to more complex detailed proofs.

    Aristotle and Aquinas and many theologians believe the cosmological arguments are the most rigorous, especially the Prime Mover argument (Aquinas First Way).

    I prefer the Teleologial argument–I like the idea that proof of God’s existence is everywhere in the order of nature–in every atom.

  197. The Other John Mcon 24 Aug 2015 at 2:06 pm

    Yes the argument from moral law is so intuitive, that it’s wrong. Nazis existed, they had no qualms about killing children, their morality was different (not universal), so your assumption of a universal objective moral law is not true. Proof shattered. Done. Over. Why is that so difficult to get? You seem to simply want to ignore this, but it completely demolished your “proof”.

    Also, am still awaiting empirical evidence of god you promised, not these silly philosophy games…

  198. steve12on 24 Aug 2015 at 2:08 pm

    I’ll assume that you’re busy Michael and you’ll get to my questions at some point….

  199. michaelegnoron 24 Aug 2015 at 2:09 pm

    [to what degree he’s delusional in the psychiatric sense…]

    Pretty funny.

    There’s a history to that. Atheists were rarely persecuted in Christendom. Heretics were persecuted with vengence, but heretics were believers. Actual atheists were usually left alone.

    The reason historically is that atheists were usually thought to be not evil but mentally ill. Atheists were pitied, and not considered dangerous enough to do anything about.

    Of course, the French Revolution and Marxism and Communism demonstrated that atheists are lethal when they are in power. No ideology has oppressed and killed as many people as atheism has.

    It’s pretty funny that an atheist–who believes everything came from nothing and nothing happens for an ultimate reason and “survivors survived” explains life– would consider a serious Christian delusional.

    I’ll put my “delusions” of purpose and cause in nature up against yours any day.

  200. michaelegnoron 24 Aug 2015 at 2:13 pm

    @mac:

    [empirical evidence of god you promised…]

    Every electron in every atom. Order in nature. Teleological proof.

  201. The Other John Mcon 24 Aug 2015 at 2:16 pm

    Michael this isn’t brain surgery, it’s logic and science 101. I can point to the universe too, and say “Look, No God.” Proof, done, nailed it. See how that doesn’t get us anywhere? More shoddy philosophical mumbo jumbo from you, without any actual evidence provided, even though you said it was definitely coming.

  202. The Other John Mcon 24 Aug 2015 at 2:18 pm

    Plus, you haven’t refuted the obvious point that Nazis existed and universal morality is only in your head

  203. steve12on 24 Aug 2015 at 2:18 pm

    Maybe I’m not going to get an answer?

  204. mumadaddon 24 Aug 2015 at 2:27 pm

    Michael,

    I scrolled up through quite a few of your posts, didn’t see a formal argument laid out, so I’m going to take a guess as to what you were referring to:

    – without god there can be no objective morals. (and then, I assume, morals *are* objective, therefore god).

    My refutation is: there are no objective morals.

    Depending on whether you’re talking about actions or values, and whether you’re willing to introduce some purpose or goal against which you can evaluate the consequences of actions, a case can be made for objective moral actions, but I’m not particularly bothered about trying to rescue objective morality so I usually just stick with the short response.

    As for the rest – if you want an original refutation, provide an original argument. I’m not willing to just let you name an argument and then come up with an original refutation off the top of my head when these are PRATTs.

  205. michaelegnoron 24 Aug 2015 at 2:29 pm

    @steve12:

    [Following this, how much of our laws should respect one’s right to be secular?]

    You have a right to be secular. First Amendment.

    [To be free from religion?]

    First Amendment.

    [If we can logically demonstrate that there is certainly a God, then should the law reflect this?]

    No. First Amendment.

    [Should sex out of wedlock, pornography, homosexual sex, masturbation (to whatever extent enforcable) – be criminalized?]

    Probably not. Impractical and probably unjust. certain kinds of porn (eg child) should be criminialized. sex out of wedlock is cultural destructive, but making it illegal isn’t the answer. Homosexual sex is a serious public health issue, but I don’t like the government getting involved in the bedroom. Masturbation is unhealthy but not criminal in any way.

    [What about publically professing that God does not exist? Should this be illegal?If not, why not?
    ]

    First Amendment.

    Why on earth would you imagine that a serious Christian would want to impose a totalitarian state? We believe that we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights…

    Never forget: it is Christian culture that human rights come from.

    Atheism in power has always been totalitarian.

    We let you believe and say what you want, which is appropriate to human dignity.

    Now will you let us decide if we want to bake cakes?

  206. michaelegnoron 24 Aug 2015 at 2:33 pm

    @muma:

    Objective moral law exists. We may disagree on what is lawful and not, but certain things–genocide, rape, murder, etc–are just wrong in themselves. Even if everyone thought they were right, they’d be wrong.

    If you deny that, we have no common ground.

  207. steve12on 24 Aug 2015 at 2:35 pm

    So Michael…

    Let me be more clear. I’m not talking about what the law currently says. I mean if you had your druthers.

    If you know for absolute SURE that something is God’s law, why not make it state law? This is in fact a form of mercy.

    Surely there can be no justification for allowing God’s law to take a back seat to man’s wants! That’s logically absurd…

  208. steve12on 24 Aug 2015 at 2:36 pm

    “Objective moral law exists. ”

    There ya go – you just put it better than I could.

    If “Objective moral law exists”, what possible reason could there be for not making it state law?

  209. Bruceon 24 Aug 2015 at 2:41 pm

    Steve, Mumadadd,

    You are wasting your time. He has his outs all perfectly lined up. If something goes against his laws he claims it is because of free will… which of course is also, in his head, evidence of god.

    I give up. I will attempt not to post any more on this as my crap filter is now full.

  210. Willyon 24 Aug 2015 at 2:47 pm

    Arnie: Thanks.

    I never approach these kinds of exchanges thinking minds will be changed. I enjoy hearing how someone who disagrees with me thinks; one of life’s true pleasures imho is a good argument.

  211. The Other John Mcon 24 Aug 2015 at 2:48 pm

    It was fun feeding the troll for a bit, but now I’m all out of troll treats, too, Bruce.
    Amazing that his whole starting assumption has to be: objective morality exists. Consider me unimpressed.

  212. steve12on 24 Aug 2015 at 2:52 pm

    Bruce:

    “He has his outs all perfectly lined up. If something goes against his laws he claims it is because of free will… which of course is also, in his head, evidence of god.”

    I thought of that too, but….

    What about the positions that are currently the subject of political activism like gay marriage (no free will) vs. those that are allowed like out of wedlock sex (free will?)

    How do you draw a line between gay marriage and gay sex? Between physician assisted suicide and contraception?

    Is Michael saying that – for some immutable truths but not other – the norms and mores of our Earthly society SUPERCEDE those of God himself? Is some truth more…true?

    For absolute truth is sure is inconsistent!

    Michael, could you please explain the logic behind these distinctions?

  213. michaelegnoron 24 Aug 2015 at 3:32 pm

    @steve12:

    [Let me be more clear. I’m not talking about what the law currently says. I mean if you had your druthers.
    If you know for absolute SURE that something is God’s law, why not make it state law? This is in fact a form of mercy.
    Surely there can be no justification for allowing God’s law to take a back seat to man’s wants! That’s logically absurd…]

    In ethics and legal theory, there are names for these things–Natural law (God’s divine law) and Positive law (man’s statutory law).

    They are different things.

    Natural law is “love thy neighbor as thyself”

    Positive law is “treat thy neighbor with a modicum of respect–don’t assault him, don’t steal from him”

    There is no reason to make God’s law into statutory law–I’m not a Muslim and I don’t endorse Sharia law.

    Why would you imagine that a Christian wants to impose a theocracy?

  214. michaelegnoron 24 Aug 2015 at 3:36 pm

    @steve12:

    [If “Objective moral law exists”, what possible reason could there be for not making it state law?]

    What possible reason is there for making God’s law statutory law?

    God’s law deals with the relation between the soul and its Creator, and the relation between men as a manifestation of God’s law.

    Statutory law deals with the management of ordinary secular affairs.

    God doesn’t proclaim speed limits and fees for littering.

    Christians take God’s Moral Law into account when they vote for candidates–we oppose abortion, etc, but there is a profound difference between Natural law and Positive law.

  215. mumadaddon 24 Aug 2015 at 3:37 pm

    Michael,

    “Objective moral law exists. We may disagree on what is lawful and not, but certain things–genocide, rape, murder, etc–are just wrong in themselves. Even if everyone thought they were right, they’d be wrong.

    If you deny that, we have no common ground.”

    Would it still be wrong if your god commanded it? In fact, was genocide right when god commanded it*?

    When I say morals are subjective, I mean to say that without moral agents (the subjects), there is no morality. I have no problem with saying these things are objectively wrong, *if* we are talking about their consequences, evaluated against the goals of maximising well being and minimising unnecessary suffering, but there are plenty of actions that you would call immoral that would easily pass this evaluation.

    * see “The Bible”, by god.

  216. NotAMarsupialon 24 Aug 2015 at 3:42 pm

    So, that Vandana Shiva is something else, huh guys?…

  217. michaelegnoron 24 Aug 2015 at 3:46 pm

    The classic Christian biblical reference for separation of church and state (which is what we’re talking about here) is Mark 12:17: “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s”.

    Theocracy is not a Christian thing, and has rarely been part of Christendom (Geneva under Calvin is the only example I can think of).

  218. mumadaddon 24 Aug 2015 at 3:51 pm

    So, if we compare two actions and they have the same consequences in terms of suffering/well being, they are morally equivalent (sort of – I do think intent counts to some degree too, but certainly, choosing a sexual partner, their sex etc.).

  219. steve12on 24 Aug 2015 at 3:51 pm

    Michael:

    I’m not clear at all….

    Like the example that I made: Why no gay marriage but gay sex? Why do Christian churches involve themselves in politics at all if what you are saying is true?

  220. michaelegnoron 24 Aug 2015 at 3:54 pm

    @muma:

    [In fact, was genocide right when god commanded it*?]

    You’re mistaking me for a Protestant who holds to biblical inerrancy.

    We Catholics believe the Bible is inspired by the Holy Spirit, but written by men, who can and do get things wrong.

    I don’t believe that God commanded the Israelites to commit genocide against the Canaanites. The author of Genesis believed that, but he/she was a fallible human being.

    The moral status of a actual divine command is another matter (Euthyphro).

  221. The Other John Mcon 24 Aug 2015 at 3:57 pm

    If only Ian Wardell were here to talk some sense into people, too….

  222. michaelegnoron 24 Aug 2015 at 3:59 pm

    @steve12:

    [Why no gay marriage but gay sex? Why do Christian churches involve themselves in politics at all if what you are saying is true?]

    This is kind of a stupid line of questions.

    The Catholic Church calls these political decisions by the faithful “prudential decisions”. There is no official Catholic line on statutory law. There are moral standards that derive from Moral Law.

    I don’t know if the Church has taken a position on the legality (as opposed to the morality) of gay sex. Respect for persons and privacy and “render unto caesar” would suggest that the Church leaves such issues to the prudential judgement of Catholic voters.

    On Gay Marriage, the Church is pretty clear that it opposes legalization.

  223. mumadaddon 24 Aug 2015 at 4:00 pm

    “The moral status of a actual divine command is another matter (Euthyphro).”

    Yeah, where do you stand on that? How do you evaluate god’s moral edicts? What would you do/think if you disagreed?

    Anyway, don’t want to change topic too much – I’d appreciated it if you responded to the meat of my post rather than the incidental poke.

  224. michaelegnoron 24 Aug 2015 at 4:13 pm

    @muma:

    Euthyphro is a false dilemma.

    God’s is transcendent and metaphysically simple: His justice and omnipotence and benevolence and mercy are interconvertible (the technical name for it is the interconvertability of transcententials). They are not distinct parts of Him–they are Him.

    God Himself is Justice and Goodness. It is meaningless to assert that God hews to a moral standard and it is meaningless to assert that He promulgates moral standards that are not Good. He is the Moral Standard and He is Good.

    God can no more will evil than He can make a rock too big to move. His power does not extend to self-refuting assertions. He is not bound by gibberish.

    Ed Feser has a nice post on Euthyphro. He gets to my view in the 5th paragraph.

    http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2010/10/god-obligation-and-euthyphro-dilemma.html

  225. steve12on 24 Aug 2015 at 4:14 pm

    “This is kind of a stupid line of questions.”

    I’ll remember that next time I wanna be the bullshitter!

    “The Catholic Church calls these political decisions by the faithful “prudential decisions”. There is no official Catholic line on statutory law. There are moral standards that derive from Moral Law.”

    There is no morality w/o God, right? Judeo-Chrisitan values inspired our civic laws, right? So where is the arbitrary point at which the religious decide to stop translating their absolute truth to law?

    It’s as far as the society they exist in will accept – that’s where it is. Of course, you don’t want to admit that.

  226. mumadaddon 24 Aug 2015 at 4:20 pm

    “Anyway, don’t want to change topic too much – I’d appreciated it if you responded to the meat of my post rather than the incidental poke.”

    And the rest….?

  227. steve12on 24 Aug 2015 at 4:22 pm

    “Theocracy is not a Christian thing, and has rarely been part of Christendom (Geneva under Calvin is the only example I can think of).”

    This is horseshit. Europe had been essentially a giant Christian Theocracy for millennia. Of all the nonsense you’ve said this has to be the most easily refuted. Christian absolute truth (as they saw it) was compulsory law! Surely, you’re not going to say that Europe pre-18th century had religious freedom.

    That’s too far for even you, right?

  228. steve12on 24 Aug 2015 at 4:27 pm

    “If only Ian Wardell were here to talk some sense into people, too….”

    HA!!!!!!

  229. mumadaddon 24 Aug 2015 at 4:36 pm

    Who the hell said THAT?!

  230. mumadaddon 24 Aug 2015 at 4:37 pm

    Never mind, I see it was a joke.

  231. steve12on 24 Aug 2015 at 4:41 pm

    Should have given TOJM credit. He rips those off like a clockwork clock

  232. Willyon 24 Aug 2015 at 4:55 pm

    Dr. Egnor: The arguments you present for the existence of a creator all seem to boil down to a similar line of thinking, which I see as: Ultimately, we can’t explain existence, so, God must exist. I am admittedly untrained in philosophy, but, as I said before, even philosophers can’t agree that arguments for a creator are valid. To me, that suggests there are no proofs, just arguments that some people find convincing.

    I note that you do not address many questions posed to you. You may have valid reasons for not doing so, but to me, and I think most others here, it appears that you are dodging questions for which you have no good answers. For me, the basic one is: “why do philosophers disagree over whether some idea is proven or not?”

  233. Pete Aon 24 Aug 2015 at 5:43 pm

    “The teleological argument is very strong and I find it most persuasive. […] All order and law in nature is evidence of God.”

    Thank you for so clearly demonstrating what I previously asserted, which was:
    In other words, it is a circular argument: its main premise is its conclusion. Therefore, it is not even wrong. Logic 101.

    Teleological arguments are created for the purpose of bolstering a religious belief system. They sound science-y enough to have a persuasive effect on people who do not possess the epistemic and scientific skills required to spot the errors in the arguments, which always has been, and still is, the vast majority of people on Earth.

    The teleological argument is not strong, it is an epistemically invalid argument. It is similar to this invalid argument: The Tooth Fairy exists; children find money under their pillow after the loss of a tooth; therefore the Tooth Fairy exists. However, this Tooth Fairy argument is much more persuasive than the teleological argument because it is supported by independently verifiable empirical evidence. Even so, both arguments are epistemically invalid for exactly the same reason: they fail to include the necessary logic for the situation in which the antecedent in the main premise is false — that God or the Tooth Fairy do not actually exist.

    Many children believe that the Tooth Fairy and Santa exist, not just because they’ve be told they exist, but also because they find empirical evidence to support their beliefs.

    I guess that many of us have been in the awkward situation in which children tell us about the presents they received from Santa, then they ask what we received from Santa. What are we supposed to do: tell them the truth that Santa does not exist and explain who indoctrinated them with the belief and their motives for doing so; tell them a lie that involves pretending that Santa does exist; or avoid answering their question?

    Using the example of morals as displayed by Michael Egnor in the above comments, its seems clear that we should either pretend that Santa exists or avoid answering the question. In other words, protecting the belief system itself is far more important than discussing/revealing the truth. While both of these dishonest options might be acceptable for responding to children regarding the Tooth Fairy and Santa, they are totally unacceptable options for responding to adults in public forums.

    However, we need to keep firmly in mind that the Bible, and other religious texts, instruct their readers that lying for the purpose of protecting their faith is both fully acceptable and often required. Why? Because everyone who is not a fellow believer is a despicable person who is acting on behalf of Satan. In many religions, there is no such thing as an atheist [having no belief in gods and devils], there exists only “us” [the followers of the one true religion] and “them” [the followers of Satan; the kafirs; the infidels; the apostates; etc.]. This manufactured false dichotomy is the reason why atheism (and even science) is so frequently accused of being just another religion.

  234. michaelegnoron 24 Aug 2015 at 6:17 pm

    @PeteA:

    [The teleological argument is not strong, it is an epistemically invalid argument. It is similar to this invalid argument: The Tooth Fairy exists; children find money under their pillow after the loss of a tooth; therefore the Tooth Fairy exists.]

    Both the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus exist. Children are right to attribute money and gifts to an intelligent agent.

    Upon further investigation, children find that the intelligent agents (TF and Santa) are their parents. With maturity and knowledge, they learn the truth.

    Similarly, the order in nature points to an intelligent agent as a cause. An Intellect directs laws of nature. With maturity and knowledge, we learn more about that Intellect.

  235. Pete Aon 24 Aug 2015 at 6:29 pm

    Michael, your understanding of logic is as pathetic as your understandings of theology and science. There is a very simple reason why I can so easily rattle your cage: it is because you are in one, and I am not.

  236. The Other John Mcon 24 Aug 2015 at 6:50 pm

    He literally just said the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus exist. I’m not paraphrasing. And then he tried to defend that with his impeccable logic. I again was floored, once again.

  237. Pete Aon 24 Aug 2015 at 6:59 pm

    He just can’t stop pissing into the wind.

  238. arnieon 24 Aug 2015 at 7:34 pm

    Pete A,
    “He just can’t stop pissing into the wind.”

    You may be right, but I wonder. If my guess proves correct, he’s probably not one to keep pissing into the wind if there is no one there catching the piss soaked wind. But I do agree that he’s not only a highly practiced bullshitter, but an inveterate windpisser. But when both start falling on dry and non-reactive ground, he will probably suddenly regain continence. Compulsive bullshitters and windpissers get frustrated and move on when their bullshittees and windpissees disappear.

    (Don’t mind me, I just decided to try to inject a little humor and wordplay into a basically humorless situation. In truth, your last couple of comments/reponses to him were, as usual, cogent and well phrased. A pity he’s so impenetrable.)

  239. Willyon 24 Aug 2015 at 9:18 pm

    Dr. Egnor’s point about the TF and Santa being “real” was valid in the context of how he presented his argument. To claim he said both really exist is to twist his statement beyond, far beyond, his point. He’s just trying to say that an intelligent agency is responsible for the money/toys under the pillow/tree, so…mumbo jumbo… clearly God exists because we exist. It’s a crappy argument, I think, but let’s not put words into his mouth that he didn’t intend.

    I am very disappointed in most of his responses, including the TF/Santa one (just a modestly cute dodge, imo), because he ducks so many questions and picks and chooses his battles too carefully–ignoring many questions altogether (for whatever reason), but I am not going to misstate his positions and claim he made statements that he clearly didn’t make.

    Dr. Egnor: Between being able to blame free will and being able to pick and choose which parts of the Bible can be taken literally, it’s pretty tough to pin you down to specific beliefs beyond your beliefs that God exists and it (seems silly to assign God a sex) is essentially the Christian God. Beyond that, you are free to morph as the wind changes and as new information becomes available.

    For me, it is plain as day that the God you say is real could not entirely benevolent, since it is said to have created a world in which the majority of people will go to Hell (whatever that is). It is claimed to be omniscient, so the outcome of his “experiment” was known in advance, yet it proceeded anyway.

  240. michaelegnoron 24 Aug 2015 at 9:51 pm

    @Mac:

    [He literally just said the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus exist]

    Yes, ace. The money under your pillow and the presents under your tree didn’t just happen by themselves. Atheism is just as stupid when it is applied to losing teeth and to Christmas as when it is applied to the universe.

    An intelligent agent placed the money under your pillow, and an intelligent agent placed the presents under your tree, and an Intelligent Agent created the universe.

    I know that’s a shock. You figured the money and the presents just happened by themselves, like the universe.

    Grow up little boy.

  241. michaelegnoron 24 Aug 2015 at 10:42 pm

    @willy:

    [Beyond that, you are free to morph as the wind changes and as new information becomes available.]

    The understanding of God I am presenting to you is the unchanging understanding of the Catholic Church for 2000 years or so.

    It doesn’t “morph”. I am using arguments about God’s qualities that I got from Thomas Aquinas (13th century AD) who mostly got them from Aristotle (4th century AD). The notion that the Bible is allegorical as well as inspired, but not to be taken literally in all aspects, was expressed forcefully and repeatedly by Augustine (5th century AD).

    The traditional understandings of God expressed in the Catholic Magisterium is one of the most consistent doctrines in human history.

    The reason my arguments appear to you to “morph” is that you have had no clue as to what Christians in general and Catholics in particular really believe, and when you are dissuaded in your misunderstanding, you imagine Christianity to have “morphed”.

    It’s like a schoolkid learning the multiplication tables correctly for the first time, after having been wrong about them. The morphing is in the mind of the learner, not in the body of knowledge he is learning.

  242. michaelegnoron 24 Aug 2015 at 10:53 pm

    To further your theological education:

    Psalm 137 is frequently cited as an example of the evil of the God of the Old Testament–the Psalmist (not God) muses about dashing the infants of babylonians against the rocks.

    Augustine pointed out that the Psalmist, not God is speaking, and the Psalmist is lamenting the slaughter of Jews by the Babylonians and venting about revenge.

    Augustine suggests a spiritual understanding of the Psalm–the babylon is a metaphor for lust, and that ‘dashing Babylon’s infants against the rocks is an allegory for discarding new lustful thoughts (and dashing them against Christ) to prevent the thoughts from growing up into sin.

    Critique of Christianity should be predicated on at least a minimal understanding of what Christians actually teach and believe.

  243. michaelegnoron 24 Aug 2015 at 10:53 pm

    A reference for Augustine’s exposition:

    http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1801137.htm

  244. Willyon 24 Aug 2015 at 11:05 pm

    Dr. Egnor: You assertions about my beliefs and understanding are flat wrong. I understand more than you think I do. I claim Catholic beliefs can (and do) morph because the opinions of the Church have morphed over time, hence the value of being able to pick and choose the Bible verses that are taken as literal or not. Why else would they (the RCC) have treated Galileo as they did for advocating heliocentrism? Any new “truth” that is discovered can be lumped under the thought that the Bible can’t always be taken literally and what is meant to be taken literally changes over time.

    I have NOT SAID that your claims on this blog have morphed–reread my statement. I said they are free to morph as we learn new things.

    More than once, I have offered you an olive branch (the first time because I perceived that you had offered one) and more than once I have tried to defend you when I felt other posters treated you unfairly. I am growing impatient with your games, word twisting, and avoidance tactics. I am willing to have a conversation–I am not willing to be treated with the condescension you sometimes display. You have an opportunity here to make a case to people who disagree with you. Instead of maximizing that opportunity, you often choose to be scornful and demeaning. You might want to chat with God about that.

    Why do many philosophers not recognize the “proofs” you describe?

  245. michaelegnoron 24 Aug 2015 at 11:21 pm

    Willy:

    I understand and appreciate the reasonable things you have said. I apologize for inappropriate condescension, which I think I have been guilty of at times.

    I have learned one thing in my 8 or so years of blogging. Never suffer fools. Atheism and its myths are toxic–it destroys souls and lives and civilizations.

    I am perfectly willing to engage in respectful and constructive conversation–believe it or not I’m a pretty nice guy in real life–but it will be on terms of truth and reason. Much of what gets said in response to my posts is nasty juvenilia. I have no patience for it.

    Regarding why many philosophers don’t recognize the proofs, the answer is that they don’t understand them (most professional philosophers couldn’t give you a minimally coherent version of the prime mover argument, let alone anything subtle from Aquinas), and of course philosophy as a profession is infested with atheists, which is a metaphysical learning disorder.

    I offer you the proofs. Ed Feser in Aquinas and The Last Superstition does a good job, as does William Lane Craig in his many books (especially Reasonable Faith-Christian Truth and Apologetics).

    Feser’s Last Superstition is a decent place to start with a rigorous exposition of the arguments and the atheist fallacies applied to them. Feser makes me look like a milquetoast.

    CS Lewis’ Mere Christianity is a great general intro to Christian thought and life, without the philosophical heavy lifting. It made a big difference for me in my climb up out of atheism.

  246. Bruceon 25 Aug 2015 at 4:07 am

    “the answer is that they don’t understand them”

    Your reading of people telling you your logic is circular and not valid is not necessarily people not understanding. Your reading of people getting frustrated with your very selective understanding of morality and how your god feeds into it is not necessarily people not understanding. Your reading of people continually asking you a question that you do not answer is not necessarily people not understanding.

    For example, you have also yet to answer a simple question as to how your christian god is the only answer to all of aquinas’ thought experiments. Most atheists (including those here) will openly admit that they don’t know the answer to who was the first mover (as an example), but you have 100% certainty that your god was this mover. You have NOT in any way proven that your god is THE ONE AND ONLY answer to this question.

    You are the child finding the coin under their pillow and claiming this is proof of the Almighty God bestowing His love upon you, and we as skeptics are saying that we don’t know where it comes from.
    We are not claiming to know, we are claiming to not know and are willing to spend the time and resources to try and find out.

    And we are ok with the knowledge that we will most likely never actually know the full truth, but we will always want to push to find out more. You, on the other hand, are happy to claim you know all the answers, sit back and call us intellectually lazy!

    I will leave you with a quote from Terry Pratchett:

    “The presence of those seeking the truth is infinitely to be preferred to the presence of those who think they’ve found it.”

  247. arnieon 25 Aug 2015 at 5:59 am

    Bruce: Amen, and Amen! For me, the realization of knowing I don’t know is “heaven” compared to the “hell” of living imprisoned in a closed mind that is totally ignorant of my ignorance. I’ve been there, done that, and do know the difference.

  248. BillyJoe7on 25 Aug 2015 at 7:29 am

    Michael Egnor:

    “God’s is transcendent and metaphysically simple: His justice and omnipotence and benevolence and mercy are interconvertible. They are not distinct parts of Him–they are Him…God Himself is Justice and Goodness”

    “It is meaningless”

    Exactly.
    That paragraph is a good example of what is known as Sophisticated Theology.
    You are required to read certain prescribed books before you dare argue.
    Except that those who have read them still don’t understand what it means but they keep up the pretense that they do by reciting meaningless gibberish like the paragraph above.

    “gibberish”

    Exactly.
    Sophisticated Theology
    Gibberish.
    Here’s more gibberish…

    “He is the Moral Standard and He is Good”

    Meaningless gibberish.
    When he kills babies and exterminates races, it’s just metafor or an error by the bibble righters.
    And when one of his creations kills, it is freewilly.
    And when it is a tsunasmi that kills, it is…..

    A Fv<k!^g failure of Sophisticated Theology

  249. BillyJoe7on 25 Aug 2015 at 7:31 am

    I knew I’d fv<k that up…

    Michael Egnor:

    “God’s is transcendent and metaphysically simple: His justice and omnipotence and benevolence and mercy are interconvertible. They are not distinct parts of Him–they are Him…God Himself is Justice and Goodness”

    “It is meaningless”

    Exactly.
    That paragraph is a good example of what is known as Sophisticated Theology.
    You are required to read certain prescribed books before you dare argue.
    Except that those who have read them still don’t understand what it means but they keep up the pretense that they do by reciting meaningless gibberish like the paragraph above.

    “gibberish”

    Exactly.
    Sophisticated Theology
    Gibberish.
    Here’s more gibberish…

    “He is the Moral Standard and He is Good”

    Meaningless gibberish.
    When he kills babies and exterminates races, it’s just metafor or an error by the bibble righters.
    And when one of his creations kills, it is freewilly.
    And when it is a tsunasmi that kills, it is…..

    A Fv<k!^g failure of Sophisticated Theology

  250. Pete Aon 25 Aug 2015 at 7:51 am

    “Children are right to attribute money and gifts to an intelligent agent.”

    Rubbish — an abject failure in logic. Many animals are intelligent agents: children would be totally wrong to attribute money and gifts to a mouse, a cat, a dog, or a robot. The TF and Santa are human-like characters that are invented by humans. Gods are also human-like characters invented by humans, but these serve a very different purpose.

    Humans are strongly anthropomorphic. This is why children love toys such as teddy bears and dolls; and adults invent gods and goddesses. During our childhood we spent most of our waking hours in a fantasy world. Having imaginary friends is normal, not abnormal, behaviour. As we age, we are gradually taught to replace our fantasies with realities. E.g. a six-year-old doesn’t need to know what a mortgage is; a sixteen-year-old needs to understand that money doesn’t grow on trees and that the earnings from their paper round will never buy a house or a car.

    Humans are story tellers, which has always served two main purposes: education and entertainment. Purely factual stories are notoriously difficult to learn and to remember, whereas vividly embellished stories are easy to learn and recall. Learning the letters of the alphabet and the times tables is laborious work for both the teacher and the student. Learning “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” is a fun and relatively trivial task.

    As adults, we find it much easier (therefore irresistibly tempting) to be intellectually lazy in our accumulation of information. E.g. if a partner, friend, relative, politician, or our church minister tells us that AGW isn’t true then we are very likely to believe them and very unlikely to wade through volumes of scientific literature that we don’t have the skills to understand. This is a normal part of being a human. It isn’t morally wrong to do this.

    What *is* morally wrong is to espouse information acquired in this manner as established facts and refusing to own the burden of proof when challenged. It’s okay to say “My friend told me that AGW isn’t true.” or “I don’t believe in AGW because I was told that it isn’t true, but I’m unable to understand the science.”: this is being intellectually honest, it is not being intellectually lazy.

    As adults, most societies would not deem us to be acceptably normal if we said “I have a deep personal relationship with my imaginary friend who gives me guidance and the hope of having a life after death.” However, an easy way of making this acceptably normal is to gather together like-minded people and form a religion. This explains why there have been tens of thousands of religious sects far better than can be explained claiming the existence of gods and goddesses.

    Anthropomorphism is psychological projection. This very powerful trait, combined with our plethora of logical fallacies and cognitive errors and biases, is more than enough to adequately explain why “man” has created gods in his own image. The only thing that would be truly astonishing is if humans had thus far *not* created countless religions.

    Those who claim to personally know ‘the one true god’ and also claim “Atheism and its myths are toxic–it destroys souls and lives and civilizations.” plus “… and of course philosophy as a profession is infested with atheists, which is a metaphysical learning disorder.” are, I think, extremely arrogant, intolerant, wilfully ignorant, oppressive, and the very opposite of nice people. I can fully understand why the DI and other religious organisations need such people. I can also understand why the popularity of these organisations is diminishing in the West and why some organisations are focusing their attention on the Third World.

  251. michaelegnoron 25 Aug 2015 at 10:02 am

    @Pete:

    Whether man is prone to anthropomorphism or not is irrelevant to God’s existence.

    I could actually make a case that anthropomorphism is an argument for God’s existence, because our natural proclivities are highly associated with reality.

    Man is prone to hunger, and food is not an illusion.

    But I won’t make that argument (CS Lewis does).

    Be careful of the genetic fallacy. It makes you look foolish.

  252. Pete Aon 25 Aug 2015 at 10:41 am

    Which god? You still haven’t answered this vitally [as in: essential to life] important question. How about Jehovah (Jehovah’s Witnesses), Allah (Muslims), or Zeus?

    Your statement “Whether man is prone to anthropomorphism or not is irrelevant to God’s existence.” is logically correct and was the very point that I was making, but I do not think your statement means what you think it means.

    I’ll try to make it easier for you to comprehend fundamental logic:
    1. Whether cats are prone to catching mice or not is irrelevant to God’s existence.
    2. Whether the Bible exists or not is irrelevant to God’s existence.
    3. Whether the Koran exists or not is irrelevant to God’s existence.
    4. Everything that Michael Egnor has written on this website is irrelevant to God’s existence.

    If your require any further assistance in grasping this fundamental skill, then my all means ask.

  253. steve12on 25 Aug 2015 at 11:17 am

    As we can see form his obvious duplicity and mischaracterization re: the role of the church in secular society, we have to be vigilant about what folks like Egnor want to do to us politically.

    None of what he has to say makes sense logically or scientifically, but it ALL makes sense politically.

    Never buy that the main goal is ecclesiastical. It never is. It’s always, always, always political.

  254. Pete Aon 25 Aug 2015 at 11:20 am

    Hmm, perhaps my typos provide empirical evidence that the God of the Bible does actually exist!

  255. Pete Aon 25 Aug 2015 at 11:58 am

    I love coincidences. The radio station I’m listening to has just played the song “Lazy” by X-Press 2. The words are so apt for Egnor’s tiresome diatribes.

    The rhythm and the percussion instruments used in the music are also delightful (best enjoyed using a system that has a decent subwoofer or two).

  256. Willyon 25 Aug 2015 at 12:09 pm

    Dr. Egnor: Thanks for your response.

    “Critique of Christianity should be predicated on at least a minimal understanding of what Christians actually teach and believe.”

    Which Christians? Many Christian denominations teach that the Bible is the literal word of God and is inerrant, hence God did do all the horrible things in the OT. They have some pretty cute ways of justifying their claims and rationalizing God’s crimes, ways that I would note are similar sometimes to your ways.

    “Regarding why many philosophers don’t recognize the proofs, the answer is that they don’t understand them…”.

    This seems like you are saying that those who disagree with you do so not out of any valid understanding or rational thought, but do so because they are stupid. When everyone who disagrees with your position is stupid/evil/whatever, you might be missing something.

    “…philosophy as a profession is infested with atheists…”.

    Oh my! Should we call an exterminator?
    I can’t help but note that the Vatican is infested with theologians.

    Pete A: Dr. Egnor did address the question of which God. Somewhere above, he notes that the philosophical arguments “prove” a generic creator and the Christian God was demonstrated to him by revelation. I have yet to understand why revelation from an omniscient creator isn’t made clear and obvious to every person. Perhaps the construction of Hell imposes a necessity on the Creator to justify its “expense” by ensuring that there are occupants. Clear and obvious revelation would certainly minimize the population of Hell.

    Dr. Egnor: In your conception, what is Hell? I’m pretty sure you are not a burning for eternity kind of guy. Earlier in my life, I let some Jehovah’s Witnesses come by for a few weeks. They claimed that fiery Hell is for Satan and his immediate crew and that people who weren’t saved would simply remain dead. That seemed to me the closest concept of Hell to being consistent with benevolence that I’ve ever heard.

  257. mumadaddon 25 Aug 2015 at 12:27 pm

    “philosophy as a profession is infested with atheists”

    As is physics, apparently.

  258. mumadaddon 25 Aug 2015 at 12:27 pm

    Bring in the theologians to work out what’s really happening.

  259. Willyon 25 Aug 2015 at 12:38 pm

    Dr. Egnor: You offer WL Craig as an informative read (I have read some of his thoughts). I note that Craig comes to a completely different understanding of what God is than do you. He believes in Biblical inerrancy, for instance, which puts him in fundamental (pun intended) disagreement with many of your views. It is puzzling to me that God can’t reveal himself adequately enough that at least all believers are singing from the same hymnal. I am sure that a debate between you and Craig would result in two well spoken advocates each telling a story that was logically coherent to himself and at total odds with the other.

    mummadad-Them da##ed physicists!

  260. mumadaddon 25 Aug 2015 at 1:16 pm

    Michael,

    I don’t think your moral argument works. You asked me to refute and I think I did, but you’re yet to respond. Thoughts, please.

  261. mumadaddon 25 Aug 2015 at 1:18 pm

    And, if you please, show me how I’m wrong as opposed to simply asserting your conclusion.

  262. michaelegnoron 25 Aug 2015 at 1:51 pm

    @Willy:

    Craig is a friend of mine. He is a Protestant and his theological/philosophical perspective is Reformed in the Calvinist tradition. He trained under Pannenberg (a famous Protestant theologian) in Munich.

    He comes at things from a Protestant rather than a Catholic (Thomist) perspective, as might be expected, although he is fully conversant (and very sympathetic) to the Thomist perspective. In June we had a discussion of the Thomist view of the immateriality of the mind, and he is very supportive of the Thomistic metaphysical framework, although he didn’t quite commit to it in its entirety.

    Bill’s version of the cosmological argument is the Kalam argument, which is a bit different in structure from the Thomistic argument but is a solid proof–in my view, it’s a concise version of St. Thomas’ Second Way.

    Bill holds to Divine Command Theory, and takes a more literal perspective on the OT than Catholics tend to (which is a hallmark of traditional Protestant theology).

    I love and respect my Protestant friends–they are very holy and have taught me much–but my heart and mind are Catholic.

    In a debate between Bill and me, he would crush me. He’s one of the best philosophers alive, and a skilled debater. He’s also a real gentleman and a very nice guy (he has a lot to teach me!).

  263. michaelegnoron 25 Aug 2015 at 2:08 pm

    @muma:

    [When I say morals are subjective, I mean to say that without moral agents (the subjects), there is no morality. I have no problem with saying these things are objectively wrong, *if* we are talking about their consequences, evaluated against the goals of maximising well being and minimising unnecessary suffering, but there are plenty of actions that you would call immoral that would easily pass this evaluation.]

    You are exactly right to say that without moral agent(s) there is is no morality. The issue is whether objective morality can exist if the only agents are human agents.

    The definition of objective morality is morality that has a source outside of human agency. If the source is only human agency, it is subjective morality.

    A thought problem illustrates this: is it possible for something to be morally wrong, even if every person in the world thought it was morally right?

    I think the answer is yes. I don’t take a poll to determine whether murder or rape or genocide are morally right or wrong.

    If morality, which requires agency, can exist even if no human agent holds to it, then that morality has a Source who is transcendent.

    Another way to see it is this: is morality something we discover, or create? The answer, which I think is obvious, is that at least some moral precepts are discovered by man, not created by man.

    Morality that is only created by man is mere opinion, and some moral precepts transcend mere opinion.

    Regarding your point about consequentialism, I think the utilitarian view has great dangers. There are three widely recognized systems of ethics– deontological, value, and utilitarian.

    Christian morality is a blend of deontological and value ethics. Utilitarian ethics is a dangerous business–you have enough organs to save the lives of ten people. Why shouldn’t we take your organs now to save ten lives–greatest good for greatest number.

    In my view, organ transplantation is the end of utilitarian ethics, if you think it through.

  264. Pete Aon 25 Aug 2015 at 2:16 pm

    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/William_Lane_Craig

  265. mumadaddon 25 Aug 2015 at 4:43 pm

    Michael,

    I’m not a pure consequentialist – I was outlining a situation in which I would accept moral actions as having objective value, not my own position, which was that morals are subjective.

  266. mumadaddon 25 Aug 2015 at 4:46 pm

    “The definition of objective morality is morality that has a source outside of human agency. If the source is only human agency, it is subjective morality.”

    The onus us on you to demonstrate that there is an external source, not simply assert it.

  267. mumadaddon 25 Aug 2015 at 4:53 pm

    “Another way to see it is this: is morality something we discover, or create? The answer, which I think is obvious, is that at least some moral precepts are discovered by man, not created by man.”

    It’s partially within our nature and partially learned from society. These seem like strange terms to apply here, I’m not sure why you would insist that it has to be either. Our moral sense is part of our regular cognitive toolkit, the rudiments are inherent in our nature and we can learn and adapt it new situations as they arise. We both create and discover.

  268. mumadaddon 25 Aug 2015 at 4:58 pm

    I’m trying to do this on a phone and its a massive pain in the arse. Will come back to it tomorrow.

  269. BillyJoe7on 25 Aug 2015 at 5:35 pm

    “A thought problem illustrates this: is it possible for something to be morally wrong, even if every person in the world thought it was morally right?”

    If every person in the world thought something was morally right, then no one in the world would think it was morally wrong, so the question does not even arise. If there emerged one person who thought it was morally wrong, it would be up to him to prove to the rest of humanity that it was morally wrong. Where is your moral absolute?

    “I think the answer is yes. I don’t take a poll to determine whether murder or rape or genocide are morally right or wrong”

    Bait and switch. Everyone in the world does not think murder, rape, or genocide are morally right.

    “If morality, which requires agency, can exist even if no human agent holds to it, then that morality has a Source who is transcendent”

    Try again.

  270. Pete Aon 25 Aug 2015 at 7:11 pm

    “Morality that is only created by man is mere opinion, and some moral precepts transcend mere opinion.”

    Indeed, the morality created by the man Aquinas and the morality created by the human writers of the Bible is hideously disgusting. As is the morality espoused recently by the man Michael Egnor in the above comments.

    This is why you, Michael Egnor, are being taken to task for your self-opinionated outpourings of: I’m holier than thou because I’m a learned Catholic (and similar pathetic appeals to authority); atheists are the scum of the Earth; my morals are much better than yours because the moral precepts of my imaginary friend transcend the individual opinions of everyone on Earth — other than myself, obviously, you ignorant fuckwits!

    Your moral compass is broken far beyond repair, which is why your arguments always spiral in endlessly diminishing (and increasingly hostile) circles.

    You are not only continuing to piss into the wind and making an ever increasing mess of yourself via your comments on this website; you are also fishing in entirely the wrong pond. Your comments here will assuredly horrify any reader who might have been considering joining their local Catholic Church or an organisation that is even remotely associated with the Discovery Institute.

    Your imaginary friend forgot to inform you (and the writers of the Bible) of a very simple lesson: Don’t take a dump in your own back yard, nor in anyone else’s. [Well, Jesus was totally ignorant of germ theory — as every modern philosopher and scientist would expect.]

    In order to gain much more power and control over people than you already have, I suggest giving up your day job and training to become a Catholic priest. Just think of how thrilled you will be by forcing not only your own human opinions on people, but also forcing those same people to confess their misdeeds and their deepest secret thoughts to you. You’ll also be able to dictate precisely what they can and they cannot do in the privacy of their bedrooms. You can always expand this endeavour into a business empire that provides Egnorance Schools, firstly to your local community, then nationally, and eventually expanding your empire to totally flood the world with Egnorance Schools. In hundreds and thousands of years time, you will remain famous for bringing about Egnor’s Great Flood [far more prestigious than Noah’s ark]. It really is this easy to wipe out the annoying atheists, skeptics, and scientists that are ruining the lives of everyone on Earth. Furthermore, it seems to be exactly what your personal God is requesting of you. Go for it, before it’s too late!

    You are qualified to undertake this monumental task because your are a well established expert in tirelessly repeating a few of the most important tropes that are founded upon the pillars of unreason and illogic. However, you need to considerably expand your repertoire in order for it to become adequately effective in the 21st Century.

    Not being rude, but my friend’s budgie can easily outsmart your current mastery of repetition, unreason, and illogic. I haven’t yet been able to establish whether it is a Catholic, an IDiot, or both; but I’m quite sure that this budgie is agnostic towards the beliefs of its students, and for a suitable fee, it would agree to provide you with your much needed guidance.

  271. michaelegnoron 25 Aug 2015 at 7:11 pm

    @muma:

    [The onus us on you to demonstrate that there is an external source, not simply assert it.]

    There is no demonstration of objective morality, in the sense of a valid deduction.

    There is merely this: if you believe morality is not objective, then the torture, rape and murder of your own child is either good or bad or indifferent, depending on each person’s opinion.

    Morality is objective because no honest sane person believes that the morality of each and every act is merely a matter of opinion.

    There are some things that are just wrong, no matter what anyone or everyone says.

  272. michaelegnoron 25 Aug 2015 at 7:20 pm

    @muma:

    [It’s partially within our nature and partially learned from society. These seem like strange terms to apply here, I’m not sure why you would insist that it has to be either. Our moral sense is part of our regular cognitive toolkit, the rudiments are inherent in our nature and we can learn and adapt it new situations as they arise. We both create and discover.]

    Yes. Yes. Yes.

    That’s my point. Our moral sense is born in us, to a great extent, and we learn, to some extent.

    You must realize that I am not here arguing moral epistemology–what can we know about moral law, but I am arguing moral ontology–what is true about moral law.

    I do not ask: how much of what we believe to be moral law is discovered and how much is created by us. I think it’s both, and the proportions vary with individuals and with cultures.

    I simply assert that there is some moral law that is objective–that we (can potentially) discover. I specifically assert this: there is at least one moral precept that exists objectively, independently of human opinion.

    If you admit that there is at least one moral precept that we discover and do not create, you admit the existence of a transcendent Agent who is the source of that moral precept.

  273. michaelegnoron 25 Aug 2015 at 7:24 pm

    @muma:

    The power of the Moral Argument is this:

    If you accept that even one moral precept is objective–discovered, not created by man–then you affirm the existence of God.

    If you deny His existence, you deny that the Holocaust was morally wrong in any objective way. If you deny His existence, you have no reason to give greater weight to the opinion of the people who fought courageously against Hitler than to the opinion of those who did his bidding.

  274. Willyon 25 Aug 2015 at 8:34 pm

    Dr. Egnor: I’m glad you know Craig and I’m glad you both find the various arguments for the existence of a creator compelling. Your response; however, neglected my actual question, which was to wonder how two people, both claiming to have personal relationships with a particular creator, the Christian God, could arrive at such distinctly different ideas of who it is and what it has done. Add Jonathan Wells (I know he is also a friend) and now we have three distinct Gods and one new messiah (Moon) thrown into the mix.

    The there’s the Pope, who is Christ’s vicar on earth and who speaks out–wrongly you would say–in favor of taking action to stop AGW. It seems to me that if each of the four of you have some form of communication with God that leads you to believe it is giving you some relatively specific guidance, how can that God convey such different messages to different people. More bluntly, if God can’t keep the Pope on the straight and narrow, what the…?

    I don’t ask these trick or “gotcha” questions. I ask them to show the basis for my skepticism and to understand how a believer can be satisfied with his or her solutions to these dilemmas.

  275. michaelegnoron 25 Aug 2015 at 8:45 pm

    Willy:

    Let me get this right: you’re asking how it is that thoughtful people can have different opinions on profound issues?

  276. Willyon 25 Aug 2015 at 9:18 pm

    I am asking how you can have a personal relationship with God, one in which it speaks to you in some way and gives you guidance, and yet it can’t manage to keep folks in the same ball park. Heck, y’all aren’t even in the same country. To me, it suggests that God’s messages to each of you are fabricated in your own minds, but then I’m one of them thar dumb atheists. LOL

    In what universe does any “real” Christian expect another Messiah to arrive before Jesus returns? I note a universal truth of the human condition: the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

    Also, since you are all fairly far apart in terms of specific beliefs, at what point does it become an issue of incorrect belief, the dreaded heresy. Obviously I am going to Hell, but how far can one’s beliefs differ from the “real” truth before one is consigned to Hell? What is Hell?

    A final note. I am a thoughtful, decent human being. More than most, I treat other people as I would like to be treated. This results in great frustration for me as even simple things like letting another person go in front of me in the grocery store means I will stand behind that person when they park their cart in the middle of the aisle to read the labels on a box of cereal. Nonetheless, I’m going to Hell for an honest inability to accept what appears to me to be ludicrous.

  277. Willyon 25 Aug 2015 at 9:22 pm

    Dr. Egnor: Why on earth should faith without tangible evidence be thought of as a good thing?

  278. michaelegnoron 25 Aug 2015 at 9:40 pm

    @Willy:

    I simply don’t understand why you think that human interaction with the Infinite should have the exact same result for every person.

    Your implication that human views of God differ profoundly is not really true. David Bentley Hart addresses this issue in his superb book The Experience of God–Being, Consciousness and Bliss. Hart is an Eastern Orthodox theologian, and he points out that nearly all of the mainstream human religions–Catholicism, Protestantism, Orthodox, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism and even some animist religions have remarkably similar insights into the Infinite. Hence the title– Being, Consciousness and Bliss are understood in different religions in pretty similar ways, even considering the diversity of creeds. The Infinite’s simplicity, goodness, power, love, etc are pretty consistent themes in major religions.

    Houston Smith–perhaps the world’s leading scholar on comparative religion– has made this point through his long career. “The World’s Religions” is the best intro into comparative religion, and should be required reading in schools.

    Hart’s Experience of God is wonderful–Hart is a gifted writer and he conveys the beauty and magnificence of various faiths’ understanding of God very effectively.

    His book “Doors of the Sea” is the best work of theodicy I’ve read–he looks at belief in a loving God in light of the East Asian Boxing Day tsunami.

    There are deep similarities between diverse faiths in our understanding of God. Each faith believes its own view is closest to the truth, but I see it as the story of the blind men in the room with the elephant.

  279. michaelegnoron 25 Aug 2015 at 9:45 pm

    @Willy:

    Faith isn’t belief without evidence. That’s credulity, which has nothing to do with faith in God.

    Faith is belief without complete proof. Faith is the consistent ordering of one’s life according to a belief arrived at through reason, experience, evidence and (as Pascal said) reasons of the heart.

    I have faith in my wife, even though I have no airtight proof of her love. I have faith in my family and my friends, but no “proof” in a rigorous sense. I have faith in many aspects of science, without personal proof (I’ve never seen an atom or the moons of Neptune). I have faith in God.

    Faith is closest to fidelity based on experience. It is not credulity.

  280. Willyon 25 Aug 2015 at 9:49 pm

    I give up. Semantics and selective answering don’t work for me.

  281. michaelegnoron 25 Aug 2015 at 9:54 pm

    @Willy:

    You have created a straw-man of Christianity, and you interpret real answers as “semantics and selective answering”.

    It’s like someone criticizing quantum mechanics by saying it’s nonsense that a particle can be two things at once, and when he’s shown the mathematical basis and experimental evidence for QM, replying that it’s just “semantics and selective answering”.

    Theology, like science, is the product of some of the most rigorous and profound insights of man. To criticize either in a meaningful way, it is necessary to have reasonable knowledge of the topic. That is hard, and takes a while.

  282. michaelegnoron 25 Aug 2015 at 9:59 pm

    For a famous example of the similarity of the understanding of God in various faiths, the Prime Mover argument has been advanced in roughly the same form by Aristotle (pagan), Averroes (Muslim), Aquinas (Christian) and Maimonides (Jewish).

    It is the similarity, not the difference, that is remarkable.

  283. RickKon 25 Aug 2015 at 10:13 pm

    So what? The alien origins of humanity have been independently asserted by the Raelians, the Scientologists and the Heavens Gate cult.

    Tell us, Michael, how many of those that you listed knew that complexity arises spontaneously out of simple components in unguided interaction? Where does Aristotle discuss emergent properties? Which of them understood evolution?

    We know more now. Don’t be afraid to let your philosophy grow up.

  284. michaelegnoron 25 Aug 2015 at 10:19 pm

    @RickK:

    [The alien origins of humanity have been independently asserted by the Raelians, the Scientologists and the Heavens Gate cult.]

    Panspermia has a large following in the materialist-atheist cult, too.

    Belief in space aliens is not restricted to the smaller cults.

    Belief in space aliens is an interesting sociological quirk–someday there will be a lot about it in the psychiatry literature.

  285. michaelegnoron 25 Aug 2015 at 10:21 pm

    RickK:

    [complexity arises spontaneously out of simple components in unguided interaction]

    “Unguided”? How is it that inanimate matter obeys mathematical laws?

  286. BillyJoe7on 26 Aug 2015 at 12:29 am

    “It’s like someone criticizing quantum mechanics by saying it’s nonsense that a particle can be two things at once, and when he’s shown the mathematical basis and experimental evidence for QM, replying that it’s just “semantics and selective answering””

    It IS nonsense that a particle can be two things at once.
    That’s just your ignorance of QM showing.
    Or perhaps its just semantics and selective answering. 🙂

  287. The Other John Mcon 26 Aug 2015 at 6:41 am

    He’s falling back on the good ol’ Prime Mover argument. Classic!
    It’s such sophisticated philosophy, I don’t know if my little mind can grasp it

  288. RickKon 26 Aug 2015 at 7:10 am

    Egnor: ““Unguided”? How is it that inanimate matter obeys mathematical laws?”

    Yep, unguided. Massive complexity arises from unguided interactions of simple actors following relatively simple rules. The first human tribe to utilize specialization and barter did not do so with a goal of ultimately achieving satellite-tracked container shipping and global currency markets. It just happened. The first coalescing of hydrogen after the Big Bang did not have Saturns rings or the Naic c a Caves as a goal, it just happened.

    Where did the laws of physics come from? I don’t know. But I do know this:

    1) Neither do you; and
    2) Every mystery of nature ever solved turned out to be NOT the hand of an supernatural agent.

    Since your approach to explaining mysteries has an unbroken track record of failure, I’ll stick to methods of inquiry that sometimes get things right.

    And what we’ve seen so far – and that your ancient philosophers didn’t know – is that complex systems form without a designer.

  289. michaelegnoron 26 Aug 2015 at 8:19 am

    @little mac:

    [He’s falling back on the good ol’ Prime Mover argument. Classic!
    It’s such sophisticated philosophy, I don’t know if my little mind can grasp it]

    It’s the teleological argument, not the prime mover argument.

    Suggestion: before you can meaningfully critique an argument, you have to know what the argument is.

  290. michaelegnoron 26 Aug 2015 at 8:20 am

    @RickK:

    [Where did the laws of physics come from? I don’t know.]

    Leave it at that. Other people do know.

  291. Bruceon 26 Aug 2015 at 8:27 am

    michaelegnor on 24 Aug 2015 at 8:38 am

    “A consistent characteristic of the atheist personality is conceit. Atheists (at least the New Atheist variety) have a delusional pride in their own intellect.”

    michaelegnor on 26 Aug 2015 at 8:20 am

    “@RickK:

    [Where did the laws of physics come from? I don’t know.]

    Leave it at that. Other people do know.”

  292. mumadaddon 26 Aug 2015 at 8:58 am

    Michael,

    “There is merely this: if you believe morality is not objective, then the torture, rape and murder of your own child is either good or bad or indifferent, depending on each person’s opinion.”

    No. Just, no… I view these things as wrong because I have values; I have values because I am human; the basic foundations of these values reflect evolutionary principles (preserving the well being of your offspring, maximising reproductive success). We can develop ethical systems that give us the ability to objectively evaluate actions against specific goals, but these goals are subjective. It’s a neat trick you’re pulling here, appealing to common sense and gut reactions, and I will admit that I can’t think of a (realistic) context in which I would deem rape, torture of a child etc. as being morally correct, but that’s because humans are universally able to suffer or prosper, and there is enough commonality in our subjective experience of what causes us to do so, that it is impossible to imagine these actions not being against our best interests. But universality does not equal objectivity.

    “Morality is objective because no honest sane person believes that the morality of each and every act is merely a matter of opinion.”

    Acts are morally wrong if they cause unnecessary suffering. It doesn’t matter to me who says an act is right – if it causes unnecessary suffering it is wrong. But, if you can find a group of people who enjoy raping and torturing each other, and convince me that they are not suffering as a result of this, then I have no moral objection to their behaviour. You won’t be able to do this because people are people, and the causes of suffering (at the hands of a moral agent) are universal (most of them – I’m not saying there aren’t exceptions), but again, universal does not equal objective.

    “I specifically assert this: there is at least one moral precept that exists objectively, independently of human opinion.

    If you admit that there is at least one moral precept that we discover and do not create, you admit the existence of a transcendent Agent who is the source of that moral precept.”

    Er, what? Seems like you have a long way, and a lot of premises, to go to bridge the gap between admitting that “there is at least one moral precept that we discover” and admitting “the existence of a transcendent Agent who is the source of that moral precept.” Show your work, Michael – how did you get there, logically? Also, you appear to also be asserting that we cannot discover something that is rooted in our nature. Why not? If we encounter a rotting corpse for the first time, we ‘discover’ that we are disgusted by it; we may also create a moral that forbids storing rotting corpses in our village – how does this require an external source of disgust?

  293. arnieon 26 Aug 2015 at 9:22 am

    Bruce,

    Right on! But that’s just one of endless examples above of the delusional, grandiose and arrogantly impenetrable-to-evidence and logic status of the mind of ME. Many outstanding and to-the-point responses by others, but utterly impotent against one so thoroughly trapped in his delusional belief. The only evidence of impact I notice is occasional stepping up of his disdainful and insulting responses. They reveal a need to quickly shore up the threat by asserting reassert his superiority over everyone else.

  294. arnieon 26 Aug 2015 at 9:23 am

    Correct: combine “asserting reassert” into “reasserting”.

  295. Bruceon 26 Aug 2015 at 9:28 am

    arnie,

    We are either idiots or we are intellectual snobs depending on how he wants to paint the picture. I find him and others like him as good ways to keep the sceptical muscles working, both in trying to understand their tortured logic and then responding to it or (more likely) reading other people’s considered responses.

  296. arnieon 26 Aug 2015 at 9:36 am

    Bruce,

    I will have to admit that I have continued to read the string for the same reasons, i.e. “good ways to keep the skeptical and critical thinking muscles working” and growing.

    mumaddad, ” how did you get there, logically?” Wouldn’t a coherent, logical, evidence based, and meaningful answer be a shocking, but nice, surprise?

  297. mumadaddon 26 Aug 2015 at 9:41 am

    Indeed. The overarching theme seems to be argument by assertion.

  298. Karl Withakayon 26 Aug 2015 at 10:19 am

    >michaelegnor on 25 Aug 2015 at 10:19 pm
    “Belief in space aliens is an interesting sociological quirk–someday there will be a lot about it in the psychiatry literature.”

    Written without any apparent sense of irony whatsoever.

  299. Pete Aon 26 Aug 2015 at 1:06 pm

    There exists already “a lot about” the damaging effects of belief systems in both psychiatry and psychology literature. The clinicians who work in these fields have the thankless task of trying their best to clean up the tragic psychological mess that is regularly caused by religion and other belief systems (including alt-med).

    Most fortunately, there are also many non-profit organisations that are dedicated to providing extremely valuable support to the victims of indoctrination.

  300. steve12on 26 Aug 2015 at 1:25 pm

    “[Where did the laws of physics come from? I don’t know.]
    Leave it at that. Other people do know.”

    Does anyone consistently out-kick their coverage more than the religious?

    They’ve been having the same conversation that y’all have been having on this thread for 4000 years and (predictably) have gotten nowhere. But now they wanna claim that they knew it all along after SCIENCTISTS did the hard work to figure it out.

    And I love this: THEY chide US for what’s still not known! Lazy, lazy, lazy.

    None of the work, all of the credit, none of the blame. What a fu*king racket.

  301. Pete Aon 26 Aug 2015 at 2:46 pm

    Steve12,

    What is the minimum level of academic qualification mandated for politicians, presidents, and prime ministers?

    What is the minimum level of academic qualification mandated for scientists and engineers?

    Which group wields the most power and control?

    Religion is NOT a benign personal belief system; it is, and always has been, used as a very powerful weapon. The only empirical evidence that religion has managed to accumulate over thousands of years is its extraordinary level of wealth.

  302. steve12on 26 Aug 2015 at 2:59 pm

    Pete A:

    “Religion is NOT a benign personal belief system; it is, and always has been, used as a very powerful weapon. ”

    If you look at my previous comments above, you’ll see that I more than agree with you.

    They’re benign re: the substance if their arguments, but dangerous politically. That’s the point I was making earlier. Trying to make sense of religion logically or scientifically is silly because it’s not the medium it trades in.

    Approach it as a political system and everything about it makes sense.

  303. michaelegnoron 26 Aug 2015 at 3:41 pm

    Steve12:

    [They’re benign re: the substance if their arguments, but dangerous politically.]

    An atheist calling a Christian “dangerous politically”? You’re kidding, right comrade?

    Care to discuss state atheism?

  304. steve12on 26 Aug 2015 at 3:55 pm

    I never said that non-religious political organizations could not be dangerous. I’m a Red Sox fan – I’m familiar with man’s tribal nature. Any “ism” can be dangerous. I actually lump religion in with all of those other political movements. No better, no worse. Some relatively benign versions, some more poison versions.

    That said, communism worshipped the state and (false) equality. Atheism was not their prime mover. They just needed to remove God because he was cutting into their political action. Again – it all makes sense politically.

    I’ll give you this – atheist intolerance of religions under those systems was persecution of the worst sort. I’m sure Jews in the ME, or gays in Africa, or atheists any time prior to ~100 years ago can relate.

    It’s all the same shit sandwich with a different type of bread. I prefer rye.

  305. michaelegnoron 26 Aug 2015 at 4:06 pm

    @steve12:

    Every nation that has adopted atheism as the sanctioned worldview has been a totalitarian hellhole–no exceptions.

    Christianity has been a mixed bag–many nations with a lot of freedom and respect for human rights, some nations with less.

    No worldview has been associated with as much political repression and mass murder as atheism. Nothing is even close.

    Vox Day has made the following observation: if during the 20th century your nation is governed by an atheist, there is a 58% chance that he will commit genocide against his own people.

    http://egnorance.blogspot.com/2012/11/there-is-is-58-percent-chance-that.html

    One of the most disgusting things about New Atheism is the abject unwillingness of NA’s to honestly examine the history of modern atheism in politics.

  306. Pete Aon 26 Aug 2015 at 5:16 pm

    Steve12, Humble apologies. My “Religion is *NOT*…” statement wasn’t aimed at you, it was intended to reinforce your insightful comments.

    ME consistently relies on semantic filibustering plus a plethora of other misdirections. This modus operandi is often highly effective because it induces numbness in the audience, rather than causing a healthy immunity, which would keep the audience alert and vigilant.

    Christianity is definitely not a religion. The term “Christianity” is a placeholder name (aka handle) for the set (or collection) of thousands of different — therefore fundamentally incompatible on a core tenet/doctrinal level — religious sects that have in common only one of their multiple tenets. Likewise, Islam is a placeholder name for a set/collection of fundamentally incompatible religious sects.

    ME said to Willy: “You have created a straw-man[sic] of Christianity, and you interpret real answers as ‘semantics and selective answering’.”

    Invoking “Christianity” in an argument *is* a straw man argument. Furthermore, all religions are in themselves straw man arguments because the inventor(s) of each religion had to create a straw man (or woman or animal or whatever). Religions are actually non sequitur arguments because, after thousands of years, the sum total of empirical evidence that they’ve accumulated is zero. Whereas, cognitive science has more than adequately explained why religions have been invented throughout documented human history, and are still being concocted in the 20th and 21st Centuries.

    NB: In formal logic, all invalid arguments are special cases of the non sequitur. Many of the well known special cases have been assigned formal names.

    Most of alt-med is indistinguishable from religion: their core tenets do not just lack verifiable empirical evidence, many/most of their core tenets have been thoroughly disproved and debunked by modern evidence-based science and medicine.

    As the LHC is ramped up, and the James Webb Space Telescope comes online, the gaps left for “the god of the gaps” arguments will become very much smaller. If critical thinking skills becomes mandatory in primary and secondary education then the empires of religion will collapse. Oh, perhaps this is why the DI is fighting so hard for the compulsory teaching of creationism in school science lessons.

    All multi-level marketing schemes eventually collapse because they are inherently unsustainable without political enforcement. Without its political backing for thousands of years, religion would now be where it has always belonged — in the fiction category.

  307. The Other John Mcon 26 Aug 2015 at 5:23 pm

    sorry mikey, steve12 and others are correct on this. If anything is to be learned from 20th century history, it’s that totalitarian regimes are bad, irrespective of whatever religion the ruler is espousing. Also notice correlation does not equal causation, but you already knew that, brilliant wielder of logic that you are. Regarding the rest of human history, the track record of religion is not so rosy, to say the least. You’ll notice that modern political systems with the best record of human rights are secularized.

  308. Pete Aon 26 Aug 2015 at 5:29 pm

    Michael, Of course you despise a group of people. Religions couldn’t possibly exist without creating straw man hate objects and straw man love objects.

  309. steve12on 26 Aug 2015 at 5:44 pm

    Michael:

    “Every nation that has adopted atheism as the sanctioned worldview has been a totalitarian hellhole–no exceptions.”

    “No worldview has been associated with as much political repression and mass murder as atheism. Nothing is even close.”

    But these all covary with communism, which means you can’t parse the influence. I could say the same thing about Red Stars, but red stars weren’t the problem. And that analysis is meaningless because it’s confounded for that reason.

    And Vox Day? Really? That racist POS? Is this where you got your cute little SJW bit?

    If you regularly visit Vox Day, you know he’s a f&cking racist. I went on there to clear up what a “Vibrant” is and got a whole education on Vox Day and his open Bell Curve / Steve Sailer -esque racism. Complete with his own new racial slur (i.e., vibrant). Quite enlightening. If you frequent Vox Day, you know what that is.

    Vox Day… the intelligencia lives.

  310. steve12on 26 Aug 2015 at 5:46 pm

    NO worries Pete – I was just letting you know that I agree with pretty much all of what you were saying!

  311. michaelegnoron 26 Aug 2015 at 6:40 pm

    @Pete and Steve:

    Get a room.

  312. BillyJoe7on 27 Aug 2015 at 12:29 am

    michael,

    Get out of the room.

  313. steve12on 27 Aug 2015 at 1:21 am

    Michael:

    I thought maybe your link to Vox Day was innocent – maybe you didn’t know what he was up to.

    But now that I’ve seen how often you link to him, it’s pretty inescapable that you know his site pretty well.

    For those who don’t know, Vox Day is Theodore Beale:
    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Theodore_Beale

    He is an unrepentant racist. Not the dog whistle kind – the more blatant ‘non-whites are genetically inferior’ type. Don’t worry, ladies: he thinks you’re genetically inferior as well! Read some of his quotes. Then go on the blog. It gets worse. He has a special code word for the N word – the whole 9 yards.

    I DO NOT accept, Michael, that you didn’t know this. Care to explain Michael?

    This really is funny. You call me and Mumadadd racists out of the blue and for no reason. Turns out, you run in openly racist circles.

  314. steve12on 27 Aug 2015 at 1:32 am

    Maybe Beale hates women more than Vibrants (his coded N-word equivalent – right Michael?)

    “Ironically, in light of the strong correlation between female education and demographic decline, a purely empirical perspective on Malala Yousafzai, the poster girl for global female education, may indicate that the Taliban’s attempt to silence her was perfectly rational and scientifically justifiable.”

    What kind of animal says something like this about that girl? It’s beyond disgusting.

    Then there’s this nugget:
    “First, there is no such thing as marital rape. Once consent is formally given in public ceremony, it cannot be revoked… If a woman believes in the concept of marital rape, absolutely do not marry her![30]”

    or this:

    “a few acid-burned faces is a small price to pay for lasting marriages, stable families, legitimate children, low levels of debt, strong currencies, affordable housing, homogenous populations, low levels of crime, and demographic stability.[17]

    “First, there is no such thing as marital rape. Once consent is formally given in public ceremony, it cannot be revoked… If a woman believes in the concept of marital rape, absolutely do not marry her![30]”

  315. steve12on 27 Aug 2015 at 1:52 am

    Links (n=177) of Egnorance to Vox Popoli (Beale’s blog):

    https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#safe=off&q=site:egnorance.blogspot.com+%22vox+day%22

    Vox Popoli is on his blog roll (one of only 14)

    How can a self described religious guy link to this TRIPE? He repeatedly links to this guy who defends shooting children, acid attacks on women, rape, and claims blacks are genetically inferior.

    But then that SAME guy lectures us about morality? Seriously? So Vox Day is OK because he agrees with your politics (as predicted) but we’re immoral because we don’t believe in God. WOW….

  316. BillyJoe7on 27 Aug 2015 at 7:26 am

    Actually, I think michael’s pretty cute:

    “He answers, in everyday life. I don’t always like the answers–He and I have issues”

    “I understand what He wants, I love Him, and I do the best I can”

    “My relationship with God has been helped by…prayer, Eucharist, and by reading theology”

    “knowing just what He wants of me and struggling to do what I think He wants”

    “you get closest to Him by struggling with Him. But it’s not easy and not always fun”

    “I am asked to use [my talents] to advance His purposes”

    “suffering is of great value, and is a manifestation of deepest love and closeness to Christ”

    “I find that the way He speaks to me most often is in what I call “enacted parables””

    “I will ask Him something in prayer or in daily life–how should I deal with this situation or person”

    “He nearly always answers me”

    “I attend Mass daily (if I can) and I pray for 30 min-1 hr daily and I try to pray the Daily Office”

    “I work on getting to know Him personally, which is through prayer, contemplation and the Eucharist”

    “God’s is transcendent and metaphysically simple”

    “His justice and omnipotence and benevolence and mercy…are not distinct parts of Him–they are Him”

    “God Himself is Justice and Goodness”

    “He is the Moral Standard and He is Good”

    …wait…he’s a GROWN MAN???!!!

  317. Pete Aon 27 Aug 2015 at 10:31 am

    BJ7, If God doesn’t exist then those quotes are rather disturbing.

  318. mumadaddon 27 Aug 2015 at 10:59 am

    PeteA,

    God doesn’t exist, therefore those quotes are disturbing. And right or wrong, THAT is a logical argument.

  319. steve12on 27 Aug 2015 at 11:16 am

    I started to worry more that I’m engaging in guilt by association, so I looked at some random link to Vox Day for Egnorance. This does not seem to be the case…

    Here. Egnor’s tone is more one of veneration than mere familiarity:
    http://egnorance.blogspot.com/2011/09/vox-day-on-problem-of-evil.html
    Egnor: “Internet Superintelligence Vox Day had a superb post from last Easter on evil. It is an appropriate reflection for today, the anniversary of 9-11, a day when evil slipped off its veil. “

    In this nugget, Michael has this to say about Vox endorsing the arrest and imprisonment of gay people:
    http://egnorance.blogspot.com/2014/04/we-tried-toleration.html
    Egnor: “Vox Day gets it right, as usual:”

    So much for guilt by association! Michael is an admirer and clearly a frequent reader of Vox Day, who openly says that blacks are intellectually inferior, openly endorses violence against women, and praises African countries for imprisoning gay people.

    But we’re the filthy immorals. I would LOVE an explanation Michael….

  320. Willyon 27 Aug 2015 at 11:47 am

    Oh my! ME’s comments on “Africans rutting” take on a totally different sheen.

    Sayeth the Doctor: “What an enlightened view. Africans have a “nature” that just can’t be suppressed. Dey jus’ gotta rut. Closer to apes, sorta. Giv’em lots o’ condoms, because they sure can’t be expected to behave like morally responsible human beings.”

    Nice digging, steve12; you smelled a rat and persisted until you found evidence.

  321. steve12on 27 Aug 2015 at 2:29 pm

    That comment sort of creeped me out a bit. Then it pissed me off when he included me (w/ Mumadadd) as being racists. Maybe he shouldn’t have said that.

    Michael’s blog is priceless. It’s like he created it to prove my point that he’s a politico first. There’s nary a mention of God compared to POLITICS. In fact – I couldn’t find a non-political post. I’m sure there are a few, but you really need to hunt. The man is an obsessed right wing extremist who’s trying to use god to enshrine his views into law.

    Yawn.

    Stuff like this:
    “The problem that remains for Stalin Obama is” where Stalin is crossed out. I mean THAT level of hopeless political devotion. Because it’s true that Stalin and Obama did a lot of the same things – if you’re an idiot.

    That Michael’s a big fan of a guy who’s blog post could easily run on Stormfront is but gravy, really.

  322. michaelegnoron 27 Aug 2015 at 2:30 pm

    @BillyJoe:

    I stand by every word.

    @Steve12:

    I like Beale. He makes a lot of sense on cultural issues and on the odiousness of SJW’s. I don’t care about his opinions about race or women, and I don’t take my views on those matters from him. He’s dead right about our acquiescence to the Gaystapo–it is a mistake we will all regret, even you morons, when the full weight of the Lavender Mafia presses down on you. The Gaystapo is a particularly pungent kind of evil, as you will discover.

    I do find it amusing to be lectured by atheists about racism and lack of respect for women. The scientific racism of the 19th and early 20th century was a hallmark of scientific materialism, and the New Atheist movement is currently tearing itself apart over the (quite real) misogyny and sexual assault that is so much a part of contemporary atheism.

    When atheists lecture about reason or politics or racism or misogyny, I just laaaaaugh.

  323. michaelegnoron 27 Aug 2015 at 2:38 pm

    [… could easily run on Stormfront]

    I don’t read Stormfront, so maybe you can update me on them.

    I do remind you that the SA (a forerunner of the Neo Nazi movement) was a homosexual organization–the biggest homosexual organization in history. The SA was shot-through with homosexuals, especially in its upper ranks. Ernst Rohm, its founder and main rival to Hitler for control of the Nazi party, was a predatory homosexual.

    http://www.renewamerica.com/columns/fischer/080515

  324. Bruceon 27 Aug 2015 at 2:50 pm

    … and there it is.

  325. steve12on 27 Aug 2015 at 3:02 pm

    “I like Beale.”

    Then you’re a nut, tbh. You’re really going to defend that MFer? Are you serious? HA!
    The man is evil and a psychopath – but he has some good ideas? Holy shitballs.

    “The Gaystapo is a particularly pungent kind of evil, as you will discover.”

    You and Beale LITERALLY are for putting people in prison for gay sex. Prison! But you’re going to lecture ME about morality? And spare me the SS/gay conspiracy BS, would ya? It’s irrelevant at best. Some kid in Oklahoma is born gay and should be denied a life because of the SS? WTF are you talking about?

    Listen Michael: I exposed you, with your own words, for who you really are. A far right extremist – racist, misogynist and homophobic – with a BS religious cover. That you don’t know where to put your tail makes it that much more true.

  326. RickKon 27 Aug 2015 at 3:08 pm

    Laugh all you want Michael. As it turns out, we don’t have to look back in history to find misogyny, racism, or homophobia. Apparently we have all 3 right here in a nice, neat, Egnor-shaped package. Your family and your priest must be very proud.

  327. steve12on 27 Aug 2015 at 3:11 pm

    “I like Beale. He makes a lot of sense on cultural issues and on the odiousness of SJW’s.”

    Worth putting up again – Beale in his own words:

    “Ironically, in light of the strong correlation between female education and demographic decline, a purely empirical perspective on Malala Yousafzai, the poster girl for global female education, may indicate that the Taliban’s attempt to silence her was perfectly rational and scientifically justifiable.”

    But he’s against SJWs (social justice warriors)! That he speaks in defense of SHOOTING that brave little girl is acceptable IF he embraces my politics!

    However, if you’re an atheist or gay, no way. A moral bridge too far. Shooting Malala Yousafzai in defense of keeping women in the home though? That’s negotiable. We might be able to work that out.

    disgusting and indefensible.

  328. michaelegnoron 27 Aug 2015 at 3:25 pm

    @Stevie:

    I don’t do submission to SJW’s. And I like a lot of what Beale says.

    Beale can speak for himself on feminism– it’s not my statement. I do point out that he said “a purely empirical perspective”, meaning he was leaving out for the moment the moral horror of the act.

    Nonetheless, Beale should have provided you with a trigger warning so you could flee to a safe place, you delicate little godless butterflies.

  329. michaelegnoron 27 Aug 2015 at 3:34 pm

    By the way, atheoids, if there is no objective morality, what claim do you have to moral truth, as opposed to the claims of Beale and of the Taliban?

    Isn’t the morality of shooting women who try to get an education just a matter of opinion? Surely you’re not admitting that something could be objectively wrong in itself, independently of human opinion.

    Why should your opinion about shooting women count more than the Taliban’s opinion?

    Reason isn’t a strong point for atheists.

  330. RickKon 27 Aug 2015 at 3:35 pm

    How deliciously ironic. The biggest proponent of universal moral absolutes in this discussion is also the person who has demonstrated the most fluid personal moral relativism.

    Genocide is always wrong, except when God wipes out the Earth’s population with Noah’s flood.
    Rape is always wrong, unless the victim is the wife of the attacker.

    Murder is always wrong, unless the victim is a social justice warrior who might convince women that there are other things in life besides producing sons.

    Congratulations Michael – the cleverest atheist couldn’t have done a better job than you’ve accomplished of proving the weakness of your faith.

  331. steve12on 27 Aug 2015 at 3:41 pm

    “I don’t do submission to SJW’s”

    What a man you are! And then to emasculate me to boot – very nice move.

    It’s over Michael. We all see who you really are. All that high minded nonsense about God and Love! Oh, how you love the love! ALL BS.

    What did I tell everyone? Ignore the philosophy, ignore the ecclesiastical BS – this is about politics.

    I have never been so happy to say ‘I told ya so’ in my life.

    In fact, I might seek you out on other blogs so that you can’t run this con on others. I’ll just link to this thread. Everything anyone needs to know about you and what a phony you are is right here.

  332. steve12on 27 Aug 2015 at 3:46 pm

    “I don’t do submission to SJW’s”

    And you shoudn’t when your bestest buddy says things like this:

    “First, there is no such thing as marital rape. Once consent is formally given in public ceremony, it cannot be revoked… If a woman believes in the concept of marital rape, absolutely do not marry her!”

    and this:

    “If the definition of rape is stretched so far to include women who have not given consent, then I am absolutely a serial rapist. So, too, is every man I know. And if that makes me a rapist, I shall endeavor to somehow survive with that upon my conscience”

    and the hits keep a’ comin’!:

    “It is absurd to imagine that there is absolutely no link between race and intelligence”

  333. michaelegnoron 27 Aug 2015 at 3:50 pm

    I’ll rephrase my question:

    If there is no such thing as objective morality, why should your opinion about shooting women count more than the Taliban’s opinion?

    Or maybe I can put it this way:

    If there is no such thing as objective morality, why should your opinion about shooting women count more than the Taliban’s opinion?

    Perhaps if I asked it like this:

    If there is no such thing as objective morality, why should your opinion about shooting women count more than the Taliban’s opinion?

    You argue for days that there is no objective morality, then you appeal to objective morality.

    This is why blogging is so much fun.

  334. steve12on 27 Aug 2015 at 3:54 pm

    “If there is no such thing as objective morality…”

    You don’t get it Michael. It’s over. After this, no one buys your philosopher king routine. You can embrace Beale, but there’s a price.

    You’re an immoral creep. You’re an evangelist who got caught at the hotel with a gay hooker and $100 of meth. No one buys the routine anymore.

  335. michaelegnoron 27 Aug 2015 at 3:57 pm

    Stevie:

    If there is no such thing as objective morality, what claim do you have that your subjective moral view is any more valid than Beale’s?

    You’re both evolved animals. Why is the “moral” opinion of one evolved animal more true than the “moral” opinion of another evolved animal?

  336. steve12on 27 Aug 2015 at 3:58 pm

    OVER….

  337. Pete Aon 27 Aug 2015 at 4:01 pm

    The term “objective morality” has been puzzling me since Egnor wrote: “The definition of objective morality is morality that has a source outside of human agency. If the source is only human agency, it is subjective morality.”

    My expertise is in a very few specialist areas of applied science. In these areas, the terms “objective” and “subjective” have precise definitions. E.g. in test & measurement each objective parameter that is recorded is measured by an instrument that is traceable (via independent auditing) to international standards.

    According to Egnor’s statement, these objective measurements are just subjective measurements because the international standards are derived by only human agency. Obviously, a source outside of human agency has not provided us with precise definitions of the metre, kilogram, second, joule, volt, ampere, watt, radian, pi, time dilation, etc. However, it would be absurd to refuse paying a gas or electricity bill because “the meter reading is only your subjective evaluation of the energy that I’ve consumed”.

    For the readers who are likewise puzzled, I think this article adequately explains Egnor’s absurd statement:
    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Objective_morality

  338. michaelegnoron 27 Aug 2015 at 4:02 pm

    @Stevie:

    [You’re an immoral creep. You’re an evangelist who got caught…]

    Ad hominem. Surely you can answer my question:

    If there is no such thing as objective morality, why should your opinion about shooting women count more than the Taliban’s opinion?

    Hurry up. The hooker is getting impatient, and the meth is lookin’ pretty good…

  339. michaelegnoron 27 Aug 2015 at 4:11 pm

    Hurry–the hooker’s putting the meth in the pipe… there won’t be any left for me!

    Answer this:

    If there is no such thing as objective morality, why should your opinion about shooting women count more than the Taliban’s opinion?

  340. mumadaddon 27 Aug 2015 at 4:11 pm

    Michael,

    I posted a response to that question (or something along those lines) yesterday but you didn’t respond.

  341. michaelegnoron 27 Aug 2015 at 4:13 pm

    @muma:

    Post it again… now the hooker’s interested…

  342. steve12on 27 Aug 2015 at 4:15 pm

    Maybe you don’t get what just happened?

    I would maybe argue philosophy with a person who was arguing in good faith, even if their arguments were shit.

    But now we know that you’re NOT arguing in good faith. The whole morality and love and all that. I showed (you showed, really) that that was all a lie. You’re really just a political extremist. You don’t even believe in what you say!

    So to go back to philosophy now… why would anyone do that?

  343. steve12on 27 Aug 2015 at 4:16 pm

    I guess there could be a more ridicule-centered type argument….

  344. michaelegnoron 27 Aug 2015 at 4:19 pm

    @stevie:

    The hooker’s feelings are hurt. You’re not taking her seriously. She really wants to know:

    “If there is no such thing as objective morality, why should your opinion about shooting women count more than the Taliban’s opinion?”

    That’s her asking now. Not just me.

    She just told me that she thinks you’re a coward who really can’t answer the question, and is using the “political extremist” thing as a cover for the fact that your argument is down in flames.

    She also says that she never dates political extremists. She does date cowards, so if you want her number…

  345. mumadaddon 27 Aug 2015 at 4:30 pm

    Michael,

    Right, I see. Good point, well argued.

  346. Pete Aon 27 Aug 2015 at 4:30 pm

    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Ontological_argument

  347. mumadaddon 27 Aug 2015 at 4:33 pm

    Here it is again, Michael.

    Michael,

    “There is merely this: if you believe morality is not objective, then the torture, rape and murder of your own child is either good or bad or indifferent, depending on each person’s opinion.”

    No. Just, no… I view these things as wrong because I have values; I have values because I am human; the basic foundations of these values reflect evolutionary principles (preserving the well being of your offspring, maximising reproductive success). We can develop ethical systems that give us the ability to objectively evaluate actions against specific goals, but these goals are subjective. It’s a neat trick you’re pulling here, appealing to common sense and gut reactions, and I will admit that I can’t think of a (realistic) context in which I would deem rape, torture of a child etc. as being morally correct, but that’s because humans are universally able to suffer or prosper, and there is enough commonality in our subjective experience of what causes us to do so, that it is impossible to imagine these actions not being against our best interests. But universality does not equal objectivity.

    “Morality is objective because no honest sane person believes that the morality of each and every act is merely a matter of opinion.”

    Acts are morally wrong if they cause unnecessary suffering. It doesn’t matter to me who says an act is right – if it causes unnecessary suffering it is wrong. But, if you can find a group of people who enjoy raping and torturing each other, and convince me that they are not suffering as a result of this, then I have no moral objection to their behaviour. You won’t be able to do this because people are people, and the causes of suffering (at the hands of a moral agent) are universal (most of them – I’m not saying there aren’t exceptions), but again, universal does not equal objective.

    “I specifically assert this: there is at least one moral precept that exists objectively, independently of human opinion.

    If you admit that there is at least one moral precept that we discover and do not create, you admit the existence of a transcendent Agent who is the source of that moral precept.”

    Er, what? Seems like you have a long way, and a lot of premises, to go to bridge the gap between admitting that “there is at least one moral precept that we discover” and admitting “the existence of a transcendent Agent who is the source of that moral precept.” Show your work, Michael – how did you get there, logically? Also, you appear to also be asserting that we cannot discover something that is rooted in our nature. Why not? If we encounter a rotting corpse for the first time, we ‘discover’ that we are disgusted by it; we may also create a moral that forbids storing rotting corpses in our village – how does this require an external source of disgust?

  348. steve12on 27 Aug 2015 at 4:39 pm

    Michael:

    You can’t emasculate me, BTW.

    Though Stevie the coward who needs a “trigger warning so you could flee to a safe place, you delicate little godless butterflies” is pretty funny. It’d be even funnier if you knew me….

    I said before that I don’t care to argue philosophy or science with you because it’s boring and you are disingenuous. I said the proper context within which to engage your arguments was political, and I’d daresay that I showed that to be the case….

    So why don’t you instead educate us on what your friend Vox Day (aka Theodore Beale) means when he refers to a person as a ‘Vibrant’. I’m much more interested in that.

  349. steve12on 27 Aug 2015 at 4:52 pm

    More form the guy Michael will not denounce….

    “I like Beale. He makes a lot of sense on cultural issues and on the odiousness of SJW’s.”
    “I don’t do submission to SJW’s”

    Here’s some examples of what a Vibrant is. (I read the book so spoiler alert: it’s a black person!)

    http://voxday.blogspot.com/2013/08/vet-killed-by-vibrant-america.html

    Some quotes form that article:
    “It increasingly appears as if the two choices facing America are peaceful segregation or ethnic violence and civil war.”

    “The civil rights vision has failed and appeasement clearly works no better with vibrants than it did with Nazis.”

    http://voxday.blogspot.com/2012/08/the-vibrant-conundrum.html

    From that article:
    “The problem is that there is simply no easy and politically acceptable solution to the challenge presented by these bored young savages.”

    “In the USA, and to a lesser extent in England, European civilization has been noticeably degraded in the last thirty years by African culture.”

    There;s plenty more – he has a whole category on his blog of this racist tripe:
    http://voxday.blogspot.com/search/label/Vibrancy%20is%20our%20strength

  350. steve12on 27 Aug 2015 at 4:54 pm

    But don’t ever give in Michael!

    Theodore’s got the same politics as you (which would give any sane person millennia of pause) so it’s no big deal that he hates blacks and women!

  351. RickKon 27 Aug 2015 at 4:54 pm

    Can you possibly sink any deeper in into petulant ad hominem attacks, Michael? You’ve demonstrated a complete lack of personal moral standards, proving yourself false point by point. And now you’re spewing taunts like the schoolyard bully who has just been caught running from a spider.

  352. michaelegnoron 27 Aug 2015 at 4:57 pm

    @stevie:

    Sounds like you’ve got a beef with Beale. Take it up with him. I like much of what’s he’s written on SJW’s and the culture war. I have no interest in being his defense attorney. He has a blog–go there and give him a piece of your mind.

    But keep in mind: your opinion has no greater claim on truth than his, unless you admit that there is an objective standard of morality to which moral opinions can be compared. And if there an objective moral law, there is…

  353. steve12on 27 Aug 2015 at 5:00 pm

    And the KKK website has a great peach cobbler recipe – but I’ll pass.

    In for a penny, in for a pound. You had your chance to say “OMG – that’s terrible!” like a sane moral person and you passed.

    Open racism and promoting violence against women a A-OK with Michael!

  354. steve12on 27 Aug 2015 at 5:02 pm

    Beale owes you AT LEAST a handy when this is all wrapped up Michael. At LEAST.

    And that debt will only rise when I find some other places to post all of this.

    And I am going to.

  355. steve12on 27 Aug 2015 at 5:07 pm

    I’m sure there are some good Catholic people and organizations who will be very interested to see what you’re up to Michael.

    You’ll be able to talk them all down with some deep philosophical musing about objective morality.

    It’ll sound like this:

    “Sure, I went to bat for a guy who defended acid attacks on women and called black children savages, but have you really thought about the true source of objective morality?”

  356. michaelegnoron 27 Aug 2015 at 5:22 pm

    @stevie:

    [In for a penny, in for a pound. You had your chance to say “OMG – that’s terrible!” like a sane moral person and you passed…Open racism and promoting violence against women a A-OK with Michael!…I’m sure there are some good Catholic people and organizations who will be very interested to see what you’re up to Michael.]

    Typical SJW. Hysteria, bloviating, intimidation, all in one post.

    It’s interesting to see the kind of thing that happens in totalitarian countries happening here–tow the SJW line, or we’re gonna “turn you in to organizations who will be very interested to see what you’re up to Michael…”

    Pitiful. Especially from an anonymous commentor. I’ve always posted with his real name and profession.

    This hooker here really likes cowards, “stevie”. She’s available…

  357. michaelegnoron 27 Aug 2015 at 5:25 pm

    Stevie says:

    “And that debt will only rise when I find some other places to post all of this. And I am going to”

    Sometimes one comment just lays it all out.

  358. steve12on 27 Aug 2015 at 5:45 pm

    “tow the SJW line”

    It is a tough line in your defense.

    Call a black guy a savage and say that the only way we can regain civilization is through a race war and peoples’ panties get in such a bunch! It’s gettin’ to be where a guy can’t have friends who defend the shooting of girls anymore for Chrissakes! Political correctness gone mad it tell you! Mad!

    That better not be a dry handy, Michael.

  359. michaelegnoron 27 Aug 2015 at 5:55 pm

    stevie:

    Here’s what one of you SJW clones says”

    “Hey stevie, if there’s no objective morality, then what claim do you have that your morals are better than Beale’s morals? It don’t make no sense, steevie..”

    Heck, even SJW’s see the contradiction…

  360. michaelegnoron 27 Aug 2015 at 6:23 pm

    stevie:

    [I’m sure there are some good Catholic people and organizations who will be very interested to see what you’re up to Michael.]

    To save you some time, here’s a contact for a Catholic organization who will be very interested to see what I’m up to:

    Pope
    C/O Vatican
    St. Peter’s Square
    One Vatican Street,
    Vatican, Vatican 00001.

    The Pope sets aside one day a week to read mail from atheist SJW’s who have beefs with Catholics who’ve just devastated them in a debate–he reads the letters in the Sistine Chapel and immediately sends out messenger priests to tell confessors what they have to bring up in the offender’s next confession.

    The penance is usually having to read something by Dawkins–no wonder nobody goes to confession anymore.

    The Church does appreciate eagle-eyed stool pigeons like you, though. Keep up the good work!

  361. steve12on 27 Aug 2015 at 6:25 pm

    I would never take seriously an argument about morals with guy who can’t reject the most immoral and horrible thoughts one can find.

    You’re loyal though. I’ll give you that.

    OK, my victory lap has to end some time. Now seems about right…..

  362. Pete Aon 27 Aug 2015 at 6:54 pm

    Egnor is trying, pitifully, to systematically dismiss each and every commentator who points out his logical errors, his disgusting morals, and his political agenda.

    Rather than wasting any more of my time with this fool who has more than thoroughly disgraced himself, his Catholic religion, the Discovery Institute, and creationism; I shall reply (and keep replying when necessary) to his endless diatribes with these two links:

    http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/the-myths-of-vandana-shiva/comment-page-6/#comment-101138
    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Michael_Egnor

    and by referring the readers to these salient RationalWiki articles:
    Argument from design — aka the teleological argument;
    Consequentialism — aka Teleologic ethics;
    Ontological argument.

  363. michaelegnoron 27 Aug 2015 at 7:29 pm

    Petey:

    Ontological argument:

    It is possible that a maximally great Being exists.

    A maximally great Being exists in at least one possible world.

    If a maximally great Being exists in one possible world, a maximally great Being exists in all possible worlds.

    Our world is a possible world.

    A maximally great Being exists in our world.

    A maximally great Being exists.

    God exists.

  364. Pete Aon 27 Aug 2015 at 7:55 pm

    Abject rubbish, as usual and as expected.

  365. Pete Aon 27 Aug 2015 at 8:15 pm

    A maximally crashed Boing exists in our world.

    A maximally crashed Egnor exists in our world.

    Therefore, God exists.

  366. RickKon 27 Aug 2015 at 9:10 pm

    Egnor: “A maximally great Being exists in at least one possible world.”

    Does not follow.

    This is an unsupported assertion. Try again.

  367. RickKon 27 Aug 2015 at 9:25 pm

    Egnor: “Hey stevie, if there’s no objective morality, then what claim do you have that your morals are better than Beale’s morals?”

    Since you and the Taliban have different interpretations of “objective morality”, you have no basis for a decision. All you can do is argue about whose version of god is better. If you ever finish that argument, you can turn your attention to something more important – like the sizes of angel wings.

    Michael, I’m perfectly happy with the conclusion that maximizing the flourishing of conscious creatures is better than minimizing it, and that your fluid, hate-tainted excuse for morality does not increase the flourishing of conscious creatures – nor does Beale’s or the Taliban’s. But since educating women and giving them an equal role in society typically (and often dramatically) decreases violence and the fear of violent death, I’m quite happy concluding that killing Malala is wrong.

    Also, since I’ve been fortunate enough to avoid the lifetime of indoctrination of the Taliban, and I wasn’t born with the birth defect of psychopathy, my evolved sense of disgust at the killing of a young woman is still intact.

    Your philosophy and your faith are paralyzed in the face of another person with a different philosophy and faith. You have zero basis on which to decide whose “objective moral standard” is the right one. Fortunately, there are people like Sam in this world to give you and your Taliban brother some basis on which to settle the debate.

    So Michael – what does your objective morality say about a husband raping his wife? What does it say about murdering Malala? What does it say about God’s repeated use of genocide as a teaching tool?

  368. steve12on 27 Aug 2015 at 9:35 pm

    can’t…resist….

    “The Pope sets aside one day a week to read mail from atheist SJW’s who have beefs with Catholics who’ve just devastated them in a debate”

    Ha ha! OHHHH this shit is rich…..

    We never had a debate, Michael. Maybe a little bit about politics.

    I said you were a phony bologna with this religious schtick and really about politics, and then I dug up dirt from your own blog to show that what I said was true. You’re an ass hole and I demonstrated it. How is that a debate?

    Anyway, I gotta run. I’ve decided to befriend Charles Manson because I heard he believes in AGW.

  369. steve12on 27 Aug 2015 at 9:49 pm

    I forgot to respond to this before. I nkow I’ve posted this quote a few time (despite there being a seemingly limitless number of horrible quotes that Michael refuses to condemn)

    Beale (i.e., Vox Day, Michael’s special friend):

    “Ironically, in light of the strong correlation between female education and demographic decline, a purely empirical perspective on Malala Yousafzai, the poster girl for global female education, may indicate that the Taliban’s attempt to silence her was perfectly rational and scientifically justifiable.”

    And here is Michael defending that statement:

    “I do point out that he said “a purely empirical perspective”, meaning he was leaving out for the moment the moral horror of the act.”

    WHAT?!?!? What kind of person doesn’t react with HORROR at this? No, let’s logically parse it first.

    I think the whole objective morality bit must be a cover for something. Forget politics and religion and the whole thing. Just be a f*cking human being for 2 seconds. I felt a little ill when I read that. Imagine if that girl googles her name and sees that coming from her new home in the West. You can’t be more monstrous with words than that Fucking POS Theodore Beale.

    I think I’ve reposted that because it’s so psychopathic – and frankly, gets to me. It does – I’m not going to lie. It makes me f*cking mad. And I don’t think I’m alone.

  370. steve12on 27 Aug 2015 at 9:51 pm

    Awaiting moderation…I think my potty mouth (fingers?… that’s gross) have caught up with me.

    sorry Steve….

  371. BillyJoe7on 28 Aug 2015 at 12:14 am

    michael: “I stand by every word”

    I know you do 🙂

    But I like the faeries at the bottom of my garden.
    I’m such a happy little boy when I’m down there dancing with the faeries in my cosy little world of make-believe.
    Those grown-ups have no idea what they’re missing.

  372. michaelegnoron 28 Aug 2015 at 6:11 am

    @Rickie:

    [Also, since I’ve been fortunate enough to avoid the lifetime of indoctrination of the Taliban,]

    Materialism is your religion.

    [… my evolved sense of disgust at the killing of a young woman is still intact.]

    So the Planned Parenthood videos about killing very young women (baby girls) disgusts you! We’re making progress.

  373. michaelegnoron 28 Aug 2015 at 6:19 am

    @rickie:

    Rickie says: “I’m a social justice warrior who is disgusted at the mistreatment of women. Hey–wanna buy some baby girl brains and liver–I just aborted them!–pass the salad and the wine when you have a chance.”

    That is the perfect meme of the pro-abort Left–bragging about their love for female innocents while selling baby girl parts over lunch.

  374. Pete Aon 28 Aug 2015 at 7:33 am

    This made me think of Michael Egnor:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-northamptonshire-34084116

  375. mumadaddon 28 Aug 2015 at 7:39 am

    “Materialism is your religion.”

    One of the bestest tactics employed by people pushing ideological beliefs as “facts”, when they can’t use science and evidence to support their position, is to try to equate opposing beliefs as ideology.

    Michael, you’re seriously equating materialism with religion? I will bring this up at my next materialist church meeting (after the sermon on materialism) and see what my high priest of materialism has to say. There will be much praying, I imagine, and we might have to consult our ancient materialist manuscripts for guidance.

  376. RickKon 28 Aug 2015 at 7:47 am

    Thanks Michael, for being so predictable. I knew you wouldn’t address (1) your demonstration of vacillating personal morality or (2) the fact that your concept of objective morality answers nothing and is philosophically bankrupt.

    Where you’ve surprised me is in your apparent acceptance of shooting someone for speaking their mind. Once again your fluid personal morality shows through. You’re not the free speech warrior you make yourself out to be – not if you find the speech objectionable. So we add another one to your list:

    Genocide is objectively bad, unless someone you worship is doing it.
    Murder is bad, unless you dislike what the victim stands for.
    Rape is bad, unless the pair are married.
    Free speech is good, unless you don’t like the words.

    For being so absolute, your moral code is getting pretty complicated, Michael. Maybe you should post a list of exceptions on Egnorance so we can all keep track.

  377. Davdoodleson 28 Aug 2015 at 8:17 am

    How you folk can put up with this guy’s nonsense is beyond me.
    .

  378. Willyon 28 Aug 2015 at 11:17 am

    mummadad: Above, you acknowledged the Dr. Egnor had made a good point, “well argued” is how you put it.

    I miss the point, at least in as far as it somehow might justify Dr. Egnor’s position regarding evidence God or for an “objective” morality. Any chance you could help me here? I am genuinely curious.

    I may be dumb, but I am slow….

  379. mumadaddon 28 Aug 2015 at 11:20 am

    Sarcasm, Willy. I said it because he made no point at all. He asked me to re-post my comment, which I did, but he ignored it and raved at Steve12 instead.

  380. mumadaddon 28 Aug 2015 at 11:21 am

    It probably works better in person, but I say it all the time when people resort to personal insults and shouting. Can’t remember exactly where I picked it up from.

  381. steve12on 28 Aug 2015 at 11:42 am

    “…raved at Steve12 instead”

    He’s pretty pissed – I guess I don’t blame him. I was a bit heavy handed 🙂

    He also thinks I’m going to go to his job or something – I’m not. It takes society a long time to train someone to the level Michaels’s at, and I’m sure he’s a good surgeon. He’s just a very confused guy really.

    Really it’s sad that someone can get so wrapped up in politics that they’re willing to defend a White Nationalist. But I can’t help think of the marginalized that are forced to face down Beale and his ilk, and defending that garbage really set me off.

  382. Willyon 28 Aug 2015 at 11:50 am

    We do need a sarcasm font. Sorry to be so dense.

  383. mumadaddon 28 Aug 2015 at 11:50 am

    …and yet he keeps throwing that question back at you (and talking about a prostitute for some reason), when I already answered it and he won’t respond.

  384. mumadaddon 28 Aug 2015 at 12:01 pm

    So many issues with ME’s position on morality:

    -morals aren’t objective in the way he says they are
    -he has provided no evidence that there is an external source
    -even if there were, what do we know about this source?
    -how do we verify what he claims to know?
    -(granting an external source) how has this source communicated its wishes to us?
    -how do we decide between competing versions of this external source and its wishes for us?

    It’s all just such a load of confused, ill conceived crap. People just don’t get their moral values from religion, even if they may think that they do; they are partially the product of evolution, partially a by-product of other evolved traits, and in large part learned from society. Claiming an infallible external agent as the source of morality is an excuse to project your own morality on to everyone else, and it’s dangerous.

  385. mumadaddon 28 Aug 2015 at 12:08 pm

    Actually that doesn’t quite cover it. My sense is that people absorb moral values from the culture, and then apply their own filter to religious dogma, picking and choosing the bits that suit their position and ignoring the clearly abhorrent parts. Religion does have an influence on the cultural values people absorb, but in western societies it’s tempered by secular values. In societies where the secular values are missing and religion dominates, we see all sorts of heinous crap like honour killings, blasphemy laws, acid attacks, imprisoning gays etc.

  386. Willyon 28 Aug 2015 at 12:25 pm

    I think it’s clear that there are no truly universal morals. Not so many centuries ago, the church itself felt burning people, along with other forms of torture and execution, was acceptable and moral. Church teachings on Jews led to the Nazis being able to kill Jews with ease and the approval of many citizens. If ISIS were to achieve world domination, morality would be significantly altered. The morality expressed in the OT is often heinous, yet it was acceptable at the time. What is repulsive to me is not repulsive to someone in another place or time.

    Even abortion isn’t such a clear cut issue. I see early term abortion as a very moral thing to do if a baby is not wanted. I deplore the morality of the church when it comes to contraception. Using fetal tissue–the Planned Parenthood flap aside–is moral. Even Ben Carson has used fetal tissue. Same thing with animal research–it is necessary for the greater good.

  387. Karl Withakayon 28 Aug 2015 at 12:33 pm

    Ontological argument:

    It is possible that a maximally great Being exists.
    – Because you say so without support. Something that is possible in my imagination doesn’t count as actually possible.

    A maximally great Being exists in at least one possible world.
    – Because you say so without support. Imaginary worlds aren’t the same thing as possible worlds.

    If a maximally great Being exists in one possible world, a maximally great Being exists in all possible worlds.
    – Because you say so without support.

    Our world is a possible world.
    -Wow, you’re got us all there. Obviously you win the whole argument.

    A maximally great Being exists in our world.
    -Only if all your previous, unsupported assertions are true.

    A maximally great Being exists.
    -really just restates the previous statement.

    God exists.
    -and then let’s just jump to Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior as detailed in the New Testament, and he hates gayness.

  388. Willyon 28 Aug 2015 at 1:03 pm

    It is possible that a unicorn exists (does it need to be maximally great?)…,etc.

    It makes no sense that it’s turtles all the way down, so a first turtle must exist. The first turtle needs no explanation and, btw, it’s omnipotent and omni-benevolent to boot.

    What am I missing here?

  389. RickKon 28 Aug 2015 at 1:08 pm

    “People just don’t get their moral values from religion,”

    No, they just get the justification and organizational structures necessary to impose their moral values onto other people.

    And that’s all Michael seems interested in – the mechanism for imposing his views onto other people (Church, Disco’tute, etc.), and a divine rationalization so he can sleep well afterwards.

  390. Karl Withakayon 28 Aug 2015 at 1:15 pm

    The ontological argument, kitteh style:

    https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2011/12/30/the-ontological-argument-kitteh-style/

  391. RickKon 28 Aug 2015 at 1:17 pm

    Willy: “What am I missing here?”

    You left out the logical contradiction of an omniscient being who knows everything that all his creations are going to do, and those creations having free will.

    But yes – you’re spot on:

    Paraphrasing Michael (leaving out the grade school name-calling): “I can’t conceive of a world where my views don’t have divine endorsement, so there must be a god. And that god must fit the description of a god provided by the philosophers who most closely reflect my views.”

    In other words: Decide, then rationalize.

  392. steve12on 28 Aug 2015 at 1:27 pm

    Rickk:

    “No, they just get the justification and organizational structures necessary to impose their moral values onto other people.”

    Exactly. That’s why all the philosophical debate is a waste.

    It’s like invoking quantum mechanics in explaining why a fender got dented in a car crash. It’s completely irrelevant to the level at which the phenomena takes place

  393. mumadaddon 28 Aug 2015 at 4:47 pm

    The ontological argument is the biggest prick in the bunch. A bad bunch. I am willing to accept that I’m not an expert in any field, then accept the appropriate consensus, but “if it’s possible it exists, and “possible” means conceivable, seems beyond ridiculous. There is apparently modal logic and something called S5, and philosophers accept this as a general principle (according to theists).

    Dan Dennett never says anything about this stuff. Can somebody just name some philosophers that actually do adhere to this Bollocks and

  394. mumadaddon 28 Aug 2015 at 4:50 pm

    …actually believe that because something is might exist in a possible world, we should abandon empiricism and testing. And that have actually contributed anything useful to anything. And that weren’t already Christian, Muslim….

    It’s a vacuum.

  395. Willyon 28 Aug 2015 at 6:14 pm

    For some time now, I’ve tended to put folks in two broad classes–those who “need” a God and some sense of order and “purpose” and those who don’t. The believer group seems to have a need for a Satan-like character or group also. They appear to require someone to blame for evil, however they choose to define it. Which group you fall in seems to have nothing to do with intelligence or any other factor I can identify. Those growing up in religious households can still become believers and vice versa, though certainly early upbringing is a strong influence.

    My biggest annoyance–and a source of humor as well–is that theists seem to think atheists choose to not believe so they can sin or rebel or whatever. In my experience, theists cannot grasp that atheism is not a belief system; it is simply the absence of belief. Even a well educated fellow like Dr. Egnor falls into this line of thinking.

    At least at this point (and most previous points) of my life, I CANNOT be a believer. It is not a possibility for me. Period. Belief in any religious system on this earth just seems ludicrous to me. I see no evidence for a Magic Sky Guy and I’m OK to say “I don’t know” to the question of how this universe and we came to be.

  396. Pete Aon 28 Aug 2015 at 7:01 pm

    Willy, I agree with you. As I said in a reply to ME: Religions couldn’t possibly exist without creating straw man hate objects and straw man love objects.

  397. mumadaddon 28 Aug 2015 at 9:03 pm

    Karl Withakay,

    Thanks for kitteh!

  398. Willyon 29 Aug 2015 at 12:04 pm

    Peter A: yeah, It seems that many believers just can’t accept that we are having, a Dr. Egnor put it, a disagreement between thoughtful people. We must instead be evil and willfully defying what we deep down know is the one true God.

    lit seems most alliances of people need their own version of the devil. For me, it’s people who enjoy liver. LOL

  399. BillyJoe7on 29 Aug 2015 at 4:09 pm

    For me, the devil is the person who wants to limit MY freedom because of HIS religious beliefs.

    If it is your religious belief that women, blacks, homosexuals, and atheists are inferior life forms and must be subjugated, I will try to pursuade you through evidence, logic, and reason; but I will fight you tooth and nail if you try to write these religious beliefs into law and force everyone else to abide by your religious beliefs.

  400. mumadaddon 29 Aug 2015 at 5:52 pm

    Well apparently Sarah Palin is interviewing Donald Trump tonight. I think if you take a load of acid before watching that it will be like engaging with Michael Egnor on morality.

  401. mumadaddon 29 Aug 2015 at 5:55 pm

    Well apparently that already happened, and I need to remember that the date I see something in my Facebook feed isn’t necessarily the day it appeared there.

  402. Pete Aon 29 Aug 2015 at 7:17 pm

    BillyJoe7,

    Davdoodles wrote: “How you folk can put up with this guy’s nonsense is beyond me.”

    Thank you for so succinctly explaining why you and others, including myself, not just put up with Egnor’s nonsense; we have zero tolerance of his political agenda and modus operandi, and we will indeed fight him and his ilk tooth and nail if they try to write their religious beliefs into law and force everyone else to abide by their religious beliefs.

  403. michaelegnoron 30 Aug 2015 at 7:58 am

    @Billy:

    “I will fight you tooth and nail if you try to write these religious beliefs into law and force everyone else to abide by your religious beliefs.”

    Translation into Atheistspeak:

    “I will fight you tooth and nail if you try to write these religious beliefs into law and force everyone else to abide by your religious beliefs, even though my beliefs have no greater claim to objective moral truth than yours.”

    You atheists can’t even defend your beliefs without inference to objective morality, which your beliefs deny.

    It has been said, with some veracity, that modern atheism is merely a Christian heresy–it has adopted bastardized idiot versions of genuine Christian metaphysics and morality.

    Nietzsche understood this. He pointed out that you atheists don’t even understand the radical nature of real atheist metaphysics, which is a will to power, beyond any morality at all.

  404. RickKon 30 Aug 2015 at 9:33 am

    Egnor said: “You atheists can’t even defend your beliefs without inference to objective morality, which your beliefs deny.”

    We did, repeatedly. And you refused to engage. You’re too caught up in trying to equate a zygote with an adult, railing against the “Gaystapo”, and demonstrating your own personal exceptions to every single moral absolute you listed.

  405. mumadaddon 30 Aug 2015 at 10:18 am

    Plus the postmodernist angle of equating all moral systems because none of them can demonstrate objective moral Truth.

    Apples are better that oranges when you’re alergic to vitamin C, but apples aren’t objectively better than oranges. Ask a freshwater fish whether freshwater is better than seawater. Ask people if life is generally preferable to death, or pleasure is generally preferable to pain. Objectively, no; universally, yes (ish). Take these things as general first principles and reason from there about how to maximize the “good” and minimize the”bad”.

    Alternatively, project your own bigoted views on to you fictional external source of objective morality and demand everyone adhere to to the iron age morality in your 2000 year old collection of myths and parables.

  406. mumadaddon 30 Aug 2015 at 10:24 am

    One option has a process or method for assessing moral actions and values, takes into account welll being and attempts to maximise it. The other has an external set of rukes that ignore context and consign anyone who either doesn’t meet an impossible and arbitrary standard or doesn’t believe the correct set of unsubstantiated claims to eternal suffering.

    Michael, you may be a shit load smarter than me but you have a broken moral system that causes misery and suffering.

  407. michaelegnoron 30 Aug 2015 at 11:05 am

    Nietzsche–an intelligent atheist (a rare breed)–pointed out the obvious fact that if you deny God, you deny good and evil–he titled his work on the subject “Beyond Good and Evil”.

    If there is no God, there is no external standard against which moral opinions may be judged. Thus, no one may (intelligently) appeal to good and evil and right and wrong.

    Without God, there is just opinions–mine, yours, my kids, Hitler’s, whatever. You can say “I want to do this…” but you can’t say that you want to do something because it is right or wrong–there is no right or wrong, just opinions.

    That’s why Nietzsche said that atheism (which he thought was true) ultimately devolves to mere Will to Power. Everyone has opinions, there is no objective right or wrong, so the most powerful person gets to impose his will.

    Nietzsche understood what atheism really means.

  408. Willyon 30 Aug 2015 at 11:23 am

    ‘Everyone has opinions, there is no objective right or wrong, so the most powerful person gets to impose his will.”

    Pretty much the story of all human history, eh?

  409. michaelegnoron 30 Aug 2015 at 11:37 am

    @Willy:

    [Pretty much the story of all human history, eh?]

    It’s only the story of State Atheism–the Soviet Union, Communist China, East Germany, North Korea, etc.

    For Christian nations, it’s been a mixture. Rights for the weak have been enshrined (ever real the Constitution?), although there’s been a lot of abuse.

    If you’re an atheist, you have no objective basis to label anything right or wrong. It’s just your opinion, and your opinion has no intrinsic merit vis a vi the opinion of any other man. Power rules.

    If you appeal to a standard of right and wrong, you acknowledge God.

  410. steve12on 30 Aug 2015 at 11:47 am

    Look – Mr. Morality is back to lecture us while simultaneously supporting White Nationalism and violence against woman.

  411. steve12on 30 Aug 2015 at 11:49 am

    Michael:

    “Everyone has opinions, there is no objective right or wrong, so the most powerful person gets to impose his will.”

    Kind of like the domestic violence that you support?

  412. The Other John Mcon 30 Aug 2015 at 11:50 am

    “If you’re an atheist, you have no objective basis to label anything right or wrong”

    And neither do you. You may *think* you do, by just pointing to your silly books, but if you actually bother reading those books, they say a lot of F’d up stuff, which nobody follows (because its immoral). So really, you are picking and choosing what is “right” and “wrong” just like everybody else, making interpretations and judgment calls and reasoning through what should be acceptable and moral. I know it sucks to realize this (that there is no objective morality), but the sooner you do, the less crazy you’ll sound.

  413. Willyon 30 Aug 2015 at 12:00 pm

    “It’s only the story of State Atheism…”

    No, it’s the story of human history, including the RCC. Can you say “Inquisition, host desecration, Galileo, Bruno, burning at the stake, iron maiden, persecution of Jews, pedophilia, etc? Even if objective morality were to exist, those charged with teaching us about it haven’t done well.

    You may find the idea of the absence of objective morality distasteful, even unbelievable, but your opinion on the matter doesn’t influence reality.

  414. michaelegnoron 30 Aug 2015 at 12:07 pm

    It’s pretty funny watching you guys stomp your feet about the immorality of the Catholic Church or me or whatever, insisting at the same time that there is no standard of morality.

    If objective morality doesn’t exist, you have no basis by which to claim your moral views are superior to mine.

    It’s so stupid it’s funny.

  415. michaelegnoron 30 Aug 2015 at 12:08 pm

    “It’s morally wrong to insist that there are moral wrongs!”

    Heh.

  416. Willyon 30 Aug 2015 at 12:16 pm

    More games. More deflecting.

    I don’t need an objective standard to judge immorality and I don’t claim my views are superior to yours.

  417. steve12on 30 Aug 2015 at 12:18 pm

    Michael:

    “It’s pretty funny watching you guys stomp your feet about the immorality of the Catholic Church or me or whatever, insisting at the same time that there is no standard of morality.”

    I never said that there was no such thing as morality or moral standards. I have many opinions on the matter.

    I’m just not interested in discussing it with a person who disingenuously uses the discussion for the promotion of his political movement.

    I’ve maintained this all along, and demonstrated your true intentions in your real world choices.

  418. steve12on 30 Aug 2015 at 12:20 pm

    MIchael:

    I’ll also expound a little re: my demonstrating what you’re REALLY about.

    When you had to choose between a moral right (by your own standards, racism, murder and domestic violence are wrong – yeah?) and politics. YOU CHOSE POLITICS. And continute to.

    Why would I get into a conversation with someone who is lying about their motivations for having the conversation??

  419. michaelegnoron 30 Aug 2015 at 1:30 pm

    Steve12:

    [Why would I get into a conversation with someone who is lying about their motivations for having the conversation??]

    You don’t even understand your own motivations. How could you possibly understand mine?

    I’m making a simple point. Without God there is no real right and wrong–just opinions.

    If you seriously believed that God did not exist, you would admit that Nietzsche was right–without God, human affairs are beyond good and evil–all that counts is will to power.

  420. mumadaddon 30 Aug 2015 at 1:39 pm

    Michael,

    You’re done. Your points aren’t even worth responding to anymore.

  421. steve12on 30 Aug 2015 at 1:49 pm

    Why don’t you got to Mass and reflect on why you sold out your God, belief system, and general raison d’etre for your petty politics by defending human garbage like Vox Day.

    Voice of God indeed….

  422. steve12on 30 Aug 2015 at 1:53 pm

    And do yourself another favor:

    Stop with the “but you say there’s no moral standard so what is Vox doing that’s wrong?” routine.

    He violates YOUR self professed morality and YOUR self professed God. That’s the point.

  423. steve12on 30 Aug 2015 at 1:55 pm

    “How could you possibly understand mine?”

    Again, by asking you to denounce Vox Day and the bile he spews.

  424. Pete Aon 30 Aug 2015 at 2:20 pm

    Fortunately, we have courts of law to prohibit Egnor and his ilk from regaining dictatorship over some areas of the modern world. Unfortunately for many people, this system of objective morals and ethics has not yet become an international standard.

    Michael, rather than repeatedly creating a straw man of atheists, why not focus your efforts on real problems, such as the ideology that drives ISIS, the Taliban, and the Roman Catholic Church. That wasn’t a question because we already know the answer: you are impotent.

  425. michaelegnoron 30 Aug 2015 at 2:25 pm

    @stevie:

    I renounce the nonsense you spew. How could you judge Beale’s opinions to be morally objectionable, if you deny the objectivity of morals?

  426. michaelegnoron 30 Aug 2015 at 2:26 pm

    PeteA:

    [you are impotent.]

    There’s always Viagra.

  427. Willyon 30 Aug 2015 at 2:45 pm

    Dr. Egnor: With or without God, it seems like it’s only opinions that matter anyway. Man seems inclined toward a will to power. Your team made a term for it–Original Sin. And of those who accept the existence of God, there is nothing even close to widespread agreement on what is moral and what is not, to say nothing of the details of its being or actions.

    Many places above, you belittle atheism and highlight the actions of “atheist” regimes, yet when your institution is called into question, you say things like: “It’s pretty funny watching you guys stomp your feet about the immorality of the Catholic Church or me or whatever, insisting at the same time that there is no standard of morality.”

    You can dish it out, but you won’t take it–and there’s no doubt you believe you are superior.

  428. steve12on 30 Aug 2015 at 2:47 pm

    “How could you judge Beale’s opinions to be morally objectionable, if you deny the objectivity of morals?”

    See my comment above re: this tired, tired retort.:

    “He violates YOUR self professed morality and YOUR self professed God. That’s the point.”

    Again, let’s use your standard of objective morality. Using that, I condemn acid attacks on women, the shooting a Malala Yousafzai and pining for a race war in America. All stances that you refuse to denounce, and therefor endorse.

  429. steve12on 30 Aug 2015 at 2:56 pm

    Michael:

    There’s simply a face validity issue that you cannot get away from by parsing philosophical details.

    A man who makes excuses for those pointing out the upside of shooting Malala Yousafzai cannot be taken seriously on the issue of morality.

    You cannot climb that mountain regardless of how clever you fancy your dialectic constructions. it’s over.

  430. RickKon 30 Aug 2015 at 3:00 pm

    Michael said “It’s pretty funny watching you guys stomp your feet about the immorality of the Catholic Church or me or whatever, insisting at the same time that there is no standard of morality.”

    It’s pretty tedious, Michael, to see you keep repeating that there is no standard of morality when multiple people have explained how social and biological evolution gives us standards, these standards can be further developed by what has a positive or negative effect on the flourishing of conscious creatures, and how these standards – these “god-free” standards – are vastly more useful in answering moral questions than your “selected ancient scriptures as interpreted by selected men in history who all belonged to the same club I do” standards.

    When debating someone who believes morals are absolutes handed down by a DIFFERENT god or interpreted by men of a DIFFERENT club, all you can do is argue over whose god or whose interpretation of god is better than the other.

    You personally have demonstrated the inadequacy of your moral standards by (1) listing prohibited actions that you consider moral absolutes and (2) justifying and defending actions contrary to each one of those prohibitions.

    And of course, you go right back to your favorite topic – blaming Stalin on atheism rather than on an unwillingness to share power any other supreme authority, blaming Mao on atheism rather than admitting that he was creating a religion with himself at the center, and blaming North Korea on atheism when the entire supernatural, worship-based religion of North Korea borrows so heavily from Christianity that it even boasts a trinity.

    Your drive-by repetition of slogans and falsehoods is tedious, Michael, as is your inability to address (and perhaps even understand) the arguments against you. Before this exchange, I never appreciated how much you just parrot the opinions of others without actually processing them into a coherent view of your own. Yawn.

  431. mumadaddon 30 Aug 2015 at 3:26 pm

    Michael,

    You get answers from us because we give a shit about what we believe. We’re maybe a bit invested in being right, commited to process, actually make a real effort to make sure all the stuff we believe meshes together and there aren’t any contradictions. You…

  432. mumadaddon 30 Aug 2015 at 3:51 pm

    “Without God, there is just opinions–mine, yours, my kids, Hitler’s, whatever. You can say “I want to do this…” but you can’t say that you want to do something because it is right or wrong–there is no right or wrong, just opinions.”

    With or without god, opinions result in actions. With or without god, actions have consequences. With or without god, those consequences affect people’s lives. With or without god, people are biological entities with certain inbuilt preferences. With or without god, choppping somebody’s leg off or smashing their hand with a hammer will be a bad experience for them. With or without god, evolution is one of the most empirically supported scientific theories ever conceived. With or without god, it explains the gut reactions you’ve based your ethics on, plus the fact you can have an ethical system in the first place. Reciprocal altruism is demonstrated as optimal by computer simulations, FFS.

  433. michaelegnoron 30 Aug 2015 at 4:55 pm

    @stevie:

    [Again, let’s use your standard of objective morality. Using that, I condemn acid attacks on women, the shooting a Malala Yousafzai and pining for a race war in America. All stances that you refuse to denounce, and therefor endorse.]

    I agree with you. I condemn those things too, because they’re objectively wrong, and not just because that’s my opinion. Welcome to the Christian side.

  434. steve12on 30 Aug 2015 at 5:00 pm

    “I condemn those things too, because they’re objectively wrong,”

    Hmmm….

    Michael Egnor, let me introduce you to….Michael Egnor

    “I don’t do submission to SJW’s. And I like a lot of what Beale says.”

    Doesn’t sound like condemnation to me!

    But it’s never too late. If you want to finally condemn Beale, I’ll accept that.

  435. michaelegnoron 30 Aug 2015 at 5:04 pm

    Rickie:

    [there is no standard of morality when multiple people have explained how social and biological evolution gives us standards, these standards can be further developed]

    Social and biological evolution gives us opinions. Whether there is an objective moral law to which those opinion correspond is what we’re debating here.

    You are confusing moral epistemology (what we can know about moral law) with moral ontology (what is moral law).

    My point is obvious and the only reason you are evading it is that you see that you cant be a consistent atheist and a SJW. As both seem important to you, you have cognitive dissonance, and you evade the obvious conclusion that either moral law exists objectively (and God exists) or you can’t drone on about your leftist ideology.

  436. michaelegnoron 30 Aug 2015 at 5:11 pm

    steve12:

    [I’ll accept that.]

    Accept this:

    http://lh3.ggpht.com/LdU525AcSjXrJ0x-2vGeYmMFWVCoTcbKxhrFmh8fUwMAjFRMCLlQoVA5a6kDn7daLw=w300

  437. steve12on 30 Aug 2015 at 5:11 pm

    I remember at Catechism they taught us a great lesson. They said:

    “F*ck the Good News of Jesus Christ! Pissing off liberals through purposefully antagonistic political arguments is the what your outreach should be all about!”

    Anyway, it was something like that

  438. steve12on 30 Aug 2015 at 5:19 pm

    “Accept this:”

    What a great Christian you are! I really do feel the love Michael.

    Just FYI: I grew up in very Catholic Italian home. I was an alter boy, I’m confirmed. I still go to Mass occasionally (like midnight Christmas mass – I like the ceremony) and have many Catholic friends who are great people and whose faith is not political convenience, but heartfelt.

    They do not comport themselves as you do re: their faith.

    That’s why I don’t buy your religious convictions.

  439. michaelegnoron 30 Aug 2015 at 5:20 pm

    steve12:

    [what your outreach should be all about!”]

    I’m not engaged in outreach. I’m demonstrating that atheism is an untenable intellectual error, and I’m demonstrating my utter contempt for SJW’s.

  440. michaelegnoron 30 Aug 2015 at 5:28 pm

    steve12:

    [They do not comport themselves as you do re: their faith.]

    You like Catholics who are milquetoast–probably the ones you meet only at midnight Christmas Mass. They smile and pretend that your idiot ideas are meaningful.

    Try meeting the Catholics who go to daily 8:00 am Mass. You’ll find a different sort.

    A lot of us think the Truth is worth fighting for. Different Catholics (and Christians) fight in different ways–we’re a Body, after all, with different parts.

    I fight. With words and logic. I detest your ideas. I used to hold them myself.

  441. steve12on 30 Aug 2015 at 5:32 pm

    You’re a bad Catholic – unsurprising.

    Anywhoo, if you insist on supporting Beale (I’ll take the flip-off as proof of that), you make yourself into a joke. You demonstrate nothing but your intellectual dishonesty.

    Here’s a list of things Beale thinks. Things that Good Catholic Michael Egnor refuses to condemn, all the while lecturing us about morality:

    (source: http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Theodore_Beale)

    On homosexuality, he says:
    Homosexuality is a birth defect from every relevant secular, material, and sociological perspective…[we must] help them achieve sexual normality.[20]

    On Muslims and Brits:
    You silly English twit. Limit your historically ignorant, politically correct, socialist sensitivity concerns to Londonistan and the rest of your island.[21]

    His “refutation” of atheism:
    [I]mpaired social cognition… is the hallmark of the militant New Atheists. [T]he anti-religious socially autistic crusaders… simply cannot understand that your religious beliefs, whatever they might be, are no legitimate concern of theirs.[22] High Church atheism may be little more than a mental disorder taking the form of literal autism.[23]

    On race and intelligence:
    It is absurd to imagine that there is absolutely no link between race and intelligence.[24]

    On his “method” to bring peace to the Middle East:
    The Israeli government must announce to the world a unilateral ceasefire, balanced by the deadly promise that for every Israeli soldier killed, 25 Palestinian police will die. For every civilian, 100 non-combatant Palestinian adults will be slain, and for every child, 1000 adults.[25]

    On women, education and Malala Yousafzai:
    Ironically, in light of the strong correlation between female education and demographic decline, a purely empirical perspective on Malala Yousafzai, the poster girl for global female education, may indicate that the Taliban’s attempt to silence her was perfectly rational and scientifically justifiable. [26]

    On women and reproductive rights:
    One thing that is becoming evident is that regardless of culture, women cannot be trusted to use contraception in a socially responsible manner. If it is left up to them, they will kill their societies rather than give up the pleasures of alpha-chasing. This indicates that it will not be left up to them very much longer, as societies that permit women to control their birth rates will prove to be unfit, decline demographically, and eventually expire, while those that control women will prove their fitness, remain stable or continue to grow, and expand to replace the dying societies. [27]

    On solving his problems by throwing frigging acid at them:
    “a few acid-burned faces is a small price to pay for lasting marriages, stable families, legitimate children, low levels of debt, strong currencies, affordable housing, homogenous populations, low levels of crime, and demographic stability.[17]

    Perhaps most hilariously, on women:
    Because they are the intellectual driving force of humanity, men will be fine… It is written that women ruin everything.[15]

    On stalking:
    I noticed that the number of fake reviews of my books on Amazon declined considerably after I tracked down the woman from Minnesota and posted her address on this blog.[28]

    In case that one wasn’t disturbing enough:
    I don’t believe I could recommend this as a strategy for most men, but it is surely educational to learn that raping and killing a woman is demonstrably more attractive to women than behaving like a gentleman. And women, before all the inevitable snowflaking commences, please note that there is absolutely nothing to argue about here. It is an established empirical fact.[29]

    And:
    First, there is no such thing as marital rape. Once consent is formally given in public ceremony, it cannot be revoked… If a woman believes in the concept of marital rape, absolutely do not marry her![30]

    And:
    If the definition of rape is stretched so far to include women who have not given consent, then I am absolutely a serial rapist. So, too, is every man I know. And if that makes me a rapist, I shall endeavor to somehow survive with that upon my conscience.[31]

  442. steve12on 30 Aug 2015 at 5:35 pm

    “A lot of us think the Truth is worth fighting for.”

    HAHAHA!

    What truth? That instead of spreading the Word and trying to convince non-Catholics you should belittle and berate them?

    Please. You’re lucky you can spell Catholic. YOu’re a pathetic little man.

  443. steve12on 30 Aug 2015 at 5:35 pm

    Theodore Beale.

    Mic drop.

  444. michaelegnoron 30 Aug 2015 at 5:39 pm

    @stevie12:

    I’ve stated my own moral and political views here and on my blog quite clearly.

    What is the moral status of the views in your list? Are they objectively morally wrong, or are they just opinions?

    If they are opinions, how is it that your opinion is more morally right than that of Beale, if there is no objective standard of right and wrong?

  445. Willyon 30 Aug 2015 at 5:54 pm

    I am certainly not knowledgeable about philosophy, but it seems to me to be pretty nifty to select an argument here from Aquinas, one from Nietzsche over there, one from W.L. Craig here, one from Anselm there, while ignoring other philosophers and the objectionable ideas of those philosophers you quote. The great thinkers had some big and important ideas, but they can’t even agree between themselves on the big picture—or on many details of the smaller parts. Ultimately, philosophy seems useless as a tool for discovering reality in the way science can reveal it. It most certainly appears to be nothing more than a way to sound sophisticated and to justify one’s thoughts as profound.

    Dr. Egnor, you routinely cite 20th century atheist states to demonstrate that atheism is inherently evil. You are, I think, wrong. First, despite whatever beliefs the top Nazis held, they most definitely did not inspire the German people with atheist ideas—remember that “Gott mit uns” was on the belt of every German soldier at Auschwitz. No, the Church had done plenty in previous centuries to convince Christians that Jews were sub-human and undeserving.; Hitler capitalized on that fact. Every movement needs a devil, right?

    Second, from my observations, political movements like Nazism and communism are exactly like religion. Each needs to believe the “truth” is in possession of only the devout. All others are “sinners’ and heretics, preventing the faithful from reaching nirvana. Religion and extreme political “isms” are brothers, indeed, identical twins. How many died in WWI–without an atheist in sight to blame?
    Thirdly, surely you grasp that 20th century technology—rapid transportation, instant communication over long distances, horrifying weapons—was not available to earlier despots and religious zealots. Do you honestly think the European religious wars, the Crusades, and the like were not every bit as vicious and brutal as 20th century wars? They only differ quantitatively because of the lack of technology to wipe out more sinners.

    Most of my experience with believers is with the young earth creationist types. I am seeing that even more sophisticated believers have no real substance behind their arguments. No wonder personal revelation needs to be claimed as justification for belief.

    Off to tend my smoker, which has some dino sized beef short ribs that ought to be luscious. I sincerely all of you eat as well as I will tonight.

  446. michaelegnoron 30 Aug 2015 at 5:55 pm

    @stevie:

    [That instead of spreading the Word and trying to convince non-Catholics you should belittle and berate them?]

    I’m not belittling “non-Catholics”. I’m belittling you.

  447. michaelegnoron 30 Aug 2015 at 6:35 pm

    @Willy:

    [Second, from my observations, political movements like Nazism and communism are exactly like religion.]

    Your quarrel is with totalitarianism, not religion. Hannah Arendt, the 20th century’a greatest scholar of totalitarianism, pointed out that the entire totalitarian project depended on Darwin. Darwin naturalized historical change, making it a biological, rather than ideological, process. Destruction of the weak by the strong was the law of nature and the origin of man. This lent an inevitability to “survival of the fittest” which justified mass slaughter and an utterly ruthless political system.

    [remember that “Gott mit uns” was on the belt of every German soldier at Auschwitz]

    No German soldier at Auschwitz wore “Gott mit uns”. Gott mit uns was the insignia (on the belt buckle) of the Wehrmacht, not the Waffen SS. The Wehrmacht–the ordinary German foot soldiers–had worn Gott mit uns since the France-Prussian War in 1871–it originated with Bismarck. German soldiers wore it in WWI. It had nothing to do with the Nazis.

    Himmler ordered the removal of “Gott mit uns” for SS soldiers, replaced by Meine Ehre heißt Treue (‘My honour is loyalty’).

    The Nazi High Command specifically prohibited the insignia “Gott mit uns” on the Waffen SS, who carried out the genocide and ran the extermination camps.

    You know less about history than you know about philosophy.

    The Nazis were deeply hostile to Christianity. They were pagans–they worshipped blood and soil.

    And the Nazis’ closest ally–their indispensable ally from 1939 to 1941–was the atheist Soviet Union, and atheists around the world fell into lockstep with Stalin’s pro-Hitler stance until Hitler betrayed his loyal atheist comrades in June of 1941.

  448. mumadaddon 30 Aug 2015 at 7:06 pm

    Michael,

    I think you might be a “dickhead.

  449. mumadaddon 30 Aug 2015 at 7:10 pm

    Well, I managed to not close my quotes… Maybe it’s for the best that they’re left open; they can then incorporate whatever else should be included.

  450. steve12on 30 Aug 2015 at 7:22 pm

    “I’m not belittling “non-Catholics”. I’m belittling you.”

    Theodore Beale.

  451. tmac57on 30 Aug 2015 at 7:32 pm

    After reading Michael’s defense of his god as the sole source of morality, then by all means, anyone who has that world view, please just go ahead and get your morality from somewhere, since it is clearly a view of humanity (and yourselves) that assumes that you and everyone else is just as intrinsically amoral as you see yourself.

    For the rest of us who have no difficulty in reasoning through the obvious need for social cohesiveness, social order, cooperation, empathy, laws, mutual respect etc. without it having to have been handed down from high by a supernatural source for it to be a valid way of existing in our world, then please keep calm, and ignore Egnor.

  452. Willyon 30 Aug 2015 at 7:37 pm

    Touché. So the SS didn’t wear the belt that was worn by the Army, Navy, and Air Force. My bad. Not knowing that fact does not mean that I do not know any history and it’s an ignorant (Egnorant?) claim to say my knowledge of philosophy exceeds my knowledge of history. Nonetheless, it was foolish for me to make the claim regarding Auschwitz without double checking.

    I clearly stated that the Nazi leadership was atheist and that the German people were NOT inspired by atheism. I also strongly implied that my beef was with totalitarian systems, hence my sentence: “political movements like Nazism and communism are exactly like religion”. I should clarify my statement to make clear that my criticism of religion in that context applies to those times and places where religious institutions were the totalitarian state. Today, Christianity in the Western world is largely neutered and that is a good thing. Islam needs to be neutered in the same way. To be clear, I have no beef in general with Christianity in this day and age, beyond their attempts to impose religious values on the nation as a whole and that beef for me differs in no way from those who hold political positions that I disagree with. From my point of view, you may believe anything you wish. Yeah–I know it’s more complicated than that, but you get my drift.

    You chose to address an error on my part and did not even bother to comment on the rest of my post. You appear to me to be more interested in scoring points and belittling than you do in discussion.

    Dragging Darwin into this is like solely blaming Einstein, Bohr, Oppenheimer, and the rest for nuclear weapon use. You do hate him, don’t you?

    Better check my ribs. :«)

  453. Willyon 31 Aug 2015 at 12:01 am

    Dr. Egnor: You have willingly entered into what is basically unfriendly territory for you. You have had a chance to make arguments to people who disagree with you. Instead of making those arguments (because, I think, there are no convincing arguments), instead of directly answering people’s questions, you have chosen to not be direct, quoting select philosophers when it suits your purposes, ignoring for the most part the many questions posed of you, and making rhetorical jabs to demonstrate your “superior” knowledge.

    The people on this blog, whether or not you agree with them (weren’t you the one who asked if thoughtful people couldn’t disagree over things?), are also decent, thoughtful people, some of the barbs and name calling from both sides aside. Despite claiming to have direct (indirect?) input from the omniscient, omni-benevolent creator of the universe, your responses are simply typical of a partisan hack.

    Whether or not your mission was to bring people to Christ or to diminish and belittle people who disagree with you, you have failed. My overwhelming impression of your personality is one of condescension and arrogance.

  454. mumadaddon 31 Aug 2015 at 3:00 am

    Sorry for calling you a dickhead, Michael. In retrospect, drunk posting from Carnival after 12 hours’ drinking rum isn’t a surefire way of getting a point across. In my defence, there loads of black people there and probably even some gays, so all that objective debauchery probably probably warped my mind.

    “Whether there is an objective moral law to which those opinion correspond is what we’re debating here.”

    It’s not a debate, it’s you making an unfounded assertion and everyone else rejecting it.

  455. mumadaddon 31 Aug 2015 at 3:36 am

    “Nietzsche–an intelligent atheist (a rare breed)–pointed out the obvious fact that if you deny God, you deny good and evil–he titled his work on the subject “Beyond Good and Evil”.”

    I see. And if you deny God do you deny that people can experience suffering or flourishing? And that the actions of other people can bring these about? Having a moral system that does NOT have the goal of maximising the well being and minimising the suffering of people just seems backwards to me. If you could actually demonstrate that magic sky man exists and will torture us for ever unless we follow a particular set of prescribed rules, then I’d concede that not pissing him off would be a worthwhile goal. Unless and until you can provide some evidence though, the rest of us will stick to reality based goals for our ethics.

  456. mumadaddon 31 Aug 2015 at 3:42 am

    Actually, maybe your moral system IS concerned with maximising well being, just the eternal variety that can’t be demonstrated to exist.

  457. mumadaddon 31 Aug 2015 at 3:58 am

    Anyway, just off to cruise around in my maximally great supercar that exists in some possible world (by which I mean I can imagine it) and therefore exists in my driveway.

  458. BillyJoe7on 31 Aug 2015 at 7:16 am

    Ontological argument for the existence of mumadadd’s supercar:

    By definition, the supercar is the greatest possible car that can be imagined.
    The supercar exists in the mind.
    A supercar that exists in the mind AND in reality is greater than a supercar that only exists in the mind.
    If the supercar exists only in the mind, then we can imagine a car that is greater than the supercar.
    But we cannot imagine a car that is greater than the supercar because…
    By definition, the supercar is the greatest possible car that can be imagined.
    Therefore, the supercar exists.

    Sold 🙂

  459. BillyJoe7on 31 Aug 2015 at 7:40 am

    …oh, and it is in mumadadd’ driveway.

  460. mumadaddon 31 Aug 2015 at 8:29 am

    It’s also got naked Scarlett Johansson in it – a supercar with naked Scarlett Johansson is greater than one without her, after all.

  461. mumadaddon 31 Aug 2015 at 8:43 am

    WTF?! I just went out to my driveway to have some in-car entertainment with Scarlett, and there is no supercar there! I feel cheated.

  462. Willyon 31 Aug 2015 at 10:59 am

    I dunno, maybe there is something to the ontological argument. For days, I imagined the super best BBQ ribs anyone ever done ate and last night, after hours of smoking, there they wuz, right on my plate.

    Super ribs exist! The sides were super, too: baba ganoush (with pita bread) and ranch style beans.

    Sorry the supercar and SJ turned out to be a fiction. Maybe in order for the ontological argument to be effective, you are required to be a true believer.

  463. tmac57on 31 Aug 2015 at 1:05 pm

    @Willy- “For days, I imagined the super best BBQ ribs anyone ever done ate and last night, after hours of smoking, there they wuz, right on my plate.”

    Geez Willy! What the heck were you smoking?

  464. Pete Aon 31 Aug 2015 at 2:00 pm

    Egnor wrote: “I’m not belittling ‘non-Catholics’. I’m belittling you.”

    No! As usual, you are only making a fool of yourself, the RCC, and the DI. All of which is, of course, objectively morally correct behaviour. Congratulations, keep up this much needed work!

  465. Pete Aon 31 Aug 2015 at 2:20 pm

    Mumadadd, I’m a bit confused by your comments. How many gears does Scarlett have, or is she automatic? More importantly, perhaps, did she have a naked friend with her? If the answer is “yes” then I sincerely hope that her naked friend wasn’t Egnor or WLC.

  466. mumadaddon 31 Aug 2015 at 2:44 pm

    I don’t think a naked WLC or Michael Egnor is your car qualifies as maximally great. Just sayin.

  467. mumadaddon 31 Aug 2015 at 2:44 pm

    *in* your car….

  468. Willyon 31 Aug 2015 at 3:09 pm

    Ain’t it funny how typos are never visible until after you hit submit.

  469. Willyon 31 Aug 2015 at 3:17 pm

    tmac57: I’ve been straining to come up with a witty response, but I’m coming up empty.

  470. Pete Aon 31 Aug 2015 at 3:18 pm

    Indeed, it’s the stark difference between maximally grate and maximally great. Sorry, my satirical connection to manual and automatic transmission supercars didn’t travel at all well across the miles.

  471. Pete Aon 31 Aug 2015 at 3:29 pm

    Willy, I’m convinced that the “Submit Comment” button runs a script that generates typos, not just in the submitted comment, but also retrospectively in the text editor I use to write the comment. According to a few commentators on this blog, this is how our universe works.

  472. tmac57on 31 Aug 2015 at 5:15 pm

    Pete- “Willy, I’m convinced that the “Submit Comment” button runs a script that generates typos, not just in the submitted comment, but also retrospectively in the text editor I use to write the comment. According to a few commentators on this blog, this is how our universe works.”

    Yeah, I think that was the same script that changed the Berenstein Bears to the Berenstain Bears, thus creating an alternate universe.

  473. Pete Aon 31 Aug 2015 at 6:14 pm

    I think that some people mainly reside in an alternative universe (and occasionally visit ours) in which it is believed that our term “engineering” means “engine earring” rather than “applied science”. Our term “piston ring” is likewise misconstrued for “pissed-on ring”; and “gas turbine” sounds very like, but is very different from, a “gassed turban”.

    Our term “engineering tolerances” is a wonderful double entendre that is entirely wasted on them.

  474. Bill Openthalton 31 Aug 2015 at 7:32 pm

    mumadadd —

    A lot earlier you said:

    … I have [moral] values because I am human; the basic foundations of these values reflect evolutionary principles (preserving the well being of your offspring, maximising reproductive success).

    Actually, morality has more to do with humans being a highly social, cooperative species, which is only possible when there are rules that allow individuals to determine how to behave. In the case of humanity, these rules are not genetically encoded like in ants, but discovered and absorbed (with personal variations :)) during childhood. Humans need other humans, not a god, to become moral beings, and while a number of basic rules, like “don’t kill another human” occur in all civilisations and through the ages, the perception of what is “another human” is so different there is hardly any reason to consider this (or any other perceived “universal” rule) a moral absolute. To wit, many vegans consider killing animals for food to be murder, whereas most other humans define murder as the unlawful, premeditated killing of a human by another human. But then again, many a dog owner does consider people who kill dogs to be murderers, and Jains don’t kill any macroscopic animal — it’s all very fluid and arbitrary.

  475. Pete Aon 31 Aug 2015 at 8:06 pm

    Bill, I’ll add to your valuable comment that the vast majority of humans bandy around the word “normal” thinking, erroneously, that they know what it actually means [wordplay intended for the purpose of amplification].

  476. RickKon 31 Aug 2015 at 9:16 pm

    Bill said: “these rules are not genetically encoded like in ants, but discovered and absorbed”

    There is still a strong substrate of biology supporting our social interactions and therefore our morality. Face recognition, language circuitry in the brain, mirror neurons, instinctual happiness and disgust reactions – these and probably more complex and as-yet-not-understood neurological and biological mechanisms provide the true basis for “objective morality” that Egnor says we’ve been discovering as our culture and understanding has improved.

    While there is individual variation, these evolved mechanisms are very far from being the “opinion” that Egnor dismisses. The only “opinion” in this discussion are the various versions of god(s) that people of faith use to add legitimacy to their opinions of right and wrong.

  477. mumadaddon 01 Sep 2015 at 5:32 am

    Bill O,

    I typed out a longer reply but then noted that RickK has already said more or less what I was going to say. I will add that your last post along these lines reminded me of Steven Pinker’s thesis in The Language Instinct, that humans possess “an instinct to acquire an art”. I agree with you to an extent – we can say that humans didn’t “evolve” to speak the English language, but that the ability to acquire a language is itself evolved, just as we can say that humans didn’t evolve a disgust reaction to gay marriage, but a disgust reaction at non-typical sexual practices may well be evolved. I would also add shame to Rick’s list as an important contributor to human morality – these almost universal emotional reactions are what enables us to maintain an ingroup/outgroup and enforce the more specific (and in some cases arbitrary) rules that spring up in different groups.

  478. mumadaddon 01 Sep 2015 at 5:33 am

    Tag fail…

    Bill O,

    I typed out a longer reply but then noted that RickK has already said more or less what I was going to say. I will add that your last post along these lines reminded me of Steven Pinker’s thesis in The Language Instinct, that humans possess “an instinct to acquire an art”. I agree with you to an extent – we can say that humans didn’t “evolve” to speak the English language, but that the ability to acquire a language is itself evolved, just as we can say that humans didn’t evolve a disgust reaction to gay marriage, but a disgust reaction at non-typical sexual practices may well be evolved. I would also add shame to Rick’s list as an important contributor to human morality – these almost universal emotional reactions are what enables us to maintain an ingroup/outgroup and enforce the more specific (and in some cases arbitrary) rules that spring up in different groups.

  479. Bill Openthalton 01 Sep 2015 at 8:44 am

    I have argued before humans have a “social instinct” very much like Pinker’s “language instinct”. How exactly these instincts result in communication and a social order is variable. How variable is a matter for (profound) discussion, but there are sufficient differences between human languages and societies to suggest nothing much above the obvious is required. For example, humans have voice-boxes, not lightbulbs, so using sounds we all do, but anything that can be said using sounds can be expressed using light signals (or hand signals, in case of deaf people). A society requires members, hence we don’t see social codes that sanction the arbitrary killing of one’s fellow citizens, but we have had societies where offences to one’s “honour” (an abstract concept if ever there was one) constitute a valid, socially accepted, reason for killing.

    The fact social transgressions elicit feelings similar to those elicited by things (dead or alive) that threaten one’s bodily integrity are a symptom of nature’s parsimoniousness. It’s very easy to stay away from pork if it causes the same reaction as excrement. It’s easier not to engage in sexual contacts not sanctioned by society if these are perceived as disgusting (leading to internal conflict if they are highly desirable to another part of the mind).

    What bothers me most with people like Egnor is their desire to impose their brand of morality onto others. It is very interesting to find out which moral rules are shared by all human societies, but like all good science, it should be done without emotional involvement, which is all too present in Egnor’s approach — at all times, he’s convinced his ideas and his behaviour are inherently superior.

  480. mumadaddon 01 Sep 2015 at 8:59 am

    Bill,

    “at all times, he’s convinced his ideas and his behaviour are inherently superior.”

    Worse still, this isn’t just a case of “I know what’s good for you better than you know yourself, therefore I’m going to impose my system upon you”; it’s a complete removal of human well being from determining which actions should be favoured. The whole “system” (if we can even call it that as opposed to just a set of rules) is hinged on the existence of a creator and its values. I just can’t take that seriously.

  481. Bill Openthalton 01 Sep 2015 at 9:15 am

    mumadadd —

    The whole “system” (if we can even call it that as opposed to just a set of rules) is hinged on the existence of a creator and its values. I just can’t take that seriously.

    And of course — making it worse — people have to accept the word of self-appointed prophets and priests concerning the creator and its utterances, because “it” cannot be bothered to deliver unassailable proof. It’s such a marvellous money/power making scheme I fully understand why L Ron Hubbard decided inventing Scientology (instead of writing (bad) SF) was a sound career move.

  482. RickKon 01 Sep 2015 at 10:18 am

    Case in point, in response to questions about the morality of global genocide by flood, Egnor said:

    “As to the morality of it – it’s His creation. We just live here.”

    That kind of arbitrary exception to rules makes anything possible, and actually makes his “objective, God-based” morality more fluid, less reliable and less useful than consistent secular models like the various flavor of utilitarianism.

  483. The Other John Mcon 01 Sep 2015 at 10:33 am

    Right. He’s arguing his ‘morality’ is better because it’s objective. But it’s not objective in the least, since it requires interpretation by humans to implement. Even if there really were a God giving us morals, they are *external* (to humans) but still not objective. The subjectivity of each person’s interpretation still comes into play; therefore, both his morals and mine are “subjective”, though he claims his are externally-inspired, and I say to that ‘hog-wash’.

  484. michaelegnoron 01 Sep 2015 at 10:47 am

    Bill-O:

    [What bothers me most with people like Egnor is their desire to impose their brand of morality onto others.]

    Bake me a cake Billy. Be quick about it. You aren’t a homophobe, are ya?

    [It is very interesting to find out which moral rules are shared by all human societies,]

    Sure would be…

    [but like all good science, it should be done without emotional involvement,]

    Billy: ‘Understanding moral law is better if you don’t actually care about morality. What the world needs is scientists who study morality without morals. White-coated humorless atheists with Aspergers have a lot to offer in our moral improvement.’

    [which is all too present in Egnor’s approach — at all times, he’s convinced his ideas and his behaviour are inherently superior.]

    Unlike Billy-O, who insists that his “scientific” morality is inherently superior because its not inherently superior.

    The best literature source for studying the atheist approach to morality is Alice-in-Wonderland. Although the Black Book of Communism comes in a close second.

  485. michaelegnoron 01 Sep 2015 at 10:57 am

    Johnny:

    [He’s arguing his ‘morality’ is better because it’s objective. But it’s not objective in the least, since it requires interpretation by humans to implement. Even if there really were a God giving us morals, they are *external* (to humans) but still not objective.]

    I’m arguing here only one thing: either moral law is objective (ie from God), or what we call “moral law” is only personal opinion.

    You of course are free to decide. But what I hold you to is logic: if there is no God, there is no objective moral law, and all morality is mere opinion.

    I’m not the first to make this (obvious) point. In modern times the most prominent philosopher to make this point was Nietzsche, who made it emphatically in Beyond Good and Evil.

    Nietzsche was an atheist, but unlike you, he was a smart honest atheist, and he insisted that we face up to the real consequence of the Death of God. The real consequence is this: human action becomes beyond good and evil–the death of God entails the transvaluation of values. Beyond good and evil there is only opinion about morality, and the strong get to enforce their will on the weak. If there is no Moral Law, no Good and Evil, there is only Will to Power.

    This leads to the Overman–the man of supremely powerful will, who imposes his will on all of us.

    Nietzsche said that this is what will happen in the wake of God’s demise in our culture. He liked it, but he insisted that we face up to it and not pretend that Christian morality (slave morality as he called it) will persist when God is gone.

    The Overman has been incarnated repeatedly–Hitler, Stalin, Mao come to mind, and we’re just now getting started.

    Perhaps there is no Moral Law. Perhaps God is dead. I hold you idiots to this: you need to recognize what that means.

  486. mumadaddon 01 Sep 2015 at 11:20 am

    “transvaluation” – is that like the trans-sex C. S. Lewis thought we would get to have in heaven? So, really really reallllly good values?

  487. RickKon 01 Sep 2015 at 11:45 am

    Michael said:

    “I’m arguing here only one thing: either moral law is objective (ie from God), or what we call ‘moral law’ is only personal opinion.”

    False dichotomy, Michael. You’re trying to squeeze a complex topic into your simplistic black/white view of the world.

    Morality is not “opinion” nor is it “absolute from God”.

    It’s not opinion because not all opinions work. Some simply fail. Why? Because they don’t fit the underlying structure of humanity, humanity doesn’t flourish, and the unsuitable moral system fails. What is that underlying substrate upon which moral ideas either succeed or fail? You say it is “God” – but since even you re-interpret “God” as you see fit for the occasion, God and your various interpretations are just more opinions thrown into the mix. So while the God of your mythology may commit or order genocide, we know genocide doesn’t work in the long run. Humanity doesn’t flourish under a moral code where genocide is acceptable.

    And before you ask: is the flourishing of humanity a cosmic, universal, absolute “good”? Well, to humans it is, and we’re the only ones doing the measuring.

    So what is this foundation upon which moral concepts are tested and either succeed or fail? It is the human instinctual and biological wiring that we’ve evolved over millions of years of evolution as highly social creatures. And it is the search for the best possible “fit” of moral law to this foundation that you misinterpret as a search for God-given moral laws.

    I know it is difficult for you to see the world from anything other than your black/white extremes, and your blog and dialog have become steadily more extreme over time. But morality is neither completely, freely relative nor is it a cosmic absolute. And you should be glad of this, because if it was a cosmic absolute defined by the God of Noah, of Job and of Exodus, Humanity would be even more doomed than we already are.

  488. Willyon 01 Sep 2015 at 12:00 pm

    Mikey (I note adding a “y” to a name conveys scorn in your mind): You don’t think the RCC has fulfilled the role of the Overman in bygone centuries? What about conquerors like Alexander, the Persians, the Romans–pre-and post-Christianization, Egyptian pharaohs, the Mongol hordes, the American conquest of the Indians, et al?

    It seems to me that throughout history the strongest have “won” and imposed their will on their subjects–it’s what people do. I maintain that the difference between today’s totalitarian horrors and those of previous times is only due to the technology available to them.

    Do we need an objective morality in order to oppose Hitler or ISIS? Will ISIS fall more quickly because our morality is “objective” and their’s isn’t?

    You claim to know Jesus through personal revelation, but my Mormon friends “know” the Book of Mormon is true, literally true (even regarding Jews coming to the new world in a quasi-submarine), because they get a “burning in the bosom” that provides the “proof” they need–it’s their “revelation”. I remember you realized the truth of God’s existence when your first child was born. Do you really think you wouldn’t have realized the truth of Allah had you been an Arab, or of Joseph Smith had you lived in Colorado City? Why is God geographical in nature? Is overcoming geography too difficult for an omniscient being? Kinda like when the Hittites had iron chariots, eh?

  489. mumadaddon 01 Sep 2015 at 12:12 pm

    Michael,

    Third time lucky…?

    “There is merely this: if you believe morality is not objective, then the torture, rape and murder of your own child is either good or bad or indifferent, depending on each person’s opinion.”

    No. Just, no… I view these things as wrong because I have values; I have values because I am human; the basic foundations of these values reflect evolutionary principles (preserving the well being of your offspring, maximising reproductive success). We can develop ethical systems that give us the ability to objectively evaluate actions against specific goals, but these goals are subjective. It’s a neat trick you’re pulling here, appealing to common sense and gut reactions, and I will admit that I can’t think of a (realistic) context in which I would deem rape, torture of a child etc. as being morally correct, but that’s because humans are universally able to suffer or prosper, and there is enough commonality in our subjective experience of what causes us to do so, that it is impossible to imagine these actions not being against our best interests. But universality does not equal objectivity.

    “Morality is objective because no honest sane person believes that the morality of each and every act is merely a matter of opinion.”

    Acts are morally wrong if they cause unnecessary suffering. It doesn’t matter to me who says an act is right – if it causes unnecessary suffering it is wrong. But, if you can find a group of people who enjoy raping and torturing each other, and convince me that they are not suffering as a result of this, then I have no moral objection to their behaviour. You won’t be able to do this because people are people, and the causes of suffering (at the hands of a moral agent) are universal (most of them – I’m not saying there aren’t exceptions), but again, universal does not equal objective.

    “I specifically assert this: there is at least one moral precept that exists objectively, independently of human opinion.

    If you admit that there is at least one moral precept that we discover and do not create, you admit the existence of a transcendent Agent who is the source of that moral precept.”

    Er, what? Seems like you have a long way, and a lot of premises, to go to bridge the gap between admitting that “there is at least one moral precept that we discover” and admitting “the existence of a transcendent Agent who is the source of that moral precept.” Show your work, Michael – how did you get there, logically? Also, you appear to also be asserting that we cannot discover something that is rooted in our nature. Why not? If we encounter a rotting corpse for the first time, we ‘discover’ that we are disgusted by it; we may also “create” a moral rule that forbids storing rotting corpses in our village – how does this require an external source of disgust?

  490. AmateurSkepticon 01 Sep 2015 at 12:32 pm

    Wow. It took me forever to read through this thread.

    @MichaelEgnor, I would like to say that it is obvious that you have convinced exactly no-one on any aspect of your world view. In fact, your petulant, juvenile insults probably would dissuade even the most gullible, low-information voter from accepting your positions. So if that was your goal (obviously not since as anyone can see, self gratification is your true purpose), you are an abject failure.

    And while there is no direct correlation between education or intelligence and wisdom, as you yourself have so amply illustrated, the more educated the reader almost certainly the more repulsed by your positions. I personally do not know of any words sufficiently strong enough to describe my disgust with your both your positions and your attitude.

    There are at least 38.000 Christian denominations and nothing remotely close to unanimity exists regarding what are God’s laws for humans. And this same God also revealed himself to the Jews, Mohammad and Joseph Smith. Presumably His purpose in doing so was to clarify His “objective moral values” for humans but the result appears to have been the opposite.

    As many others on this site have already said, your position is nothing more than a transparent attempt to add the stamp of God to your personal opinion. Rather like the man who says to his neighbor, “God has ordered me to kill you and to take all that you own for myself”. How convenient.

  491. Bill Openthalton 01 Sep 2015 at 6:26 pm

    michaelegnor —

    The problem is not with moral law — the problem is that by putting your god at the top, you assert your superiority over others. When people claim to have been given privileged information by their god, they expect other people to trust them, to have faith not in the god, but in the self-appointed messenger.

    Why would I trust you? Why would anyone trust you? Why shouldn’t they trust me if I claim to have been spoken to by god? It so happens prophets gain traction because they propose a morality, a social ordering that suits the followers. Muhammad promised a bunch of losers booty and women, and through chance he managed to deliver on those promises. Joseph Smith and Brigham Young promised polygyny, his followers were lucky to live in a country with ample space and a fair amount of tolerance, so they had enough time to raise children in their “faith”. The sad thing is that a child raised in a social environment accepts the tenets of that environment as the truth, no matter how objectively silly these tenets are (with minimal innate knowledge, the poor thing has to trust the environment it’s born into). Whether it’s the virgin birth, god living on another planet, a pedophile brigand as the most perfect human being or class warfare, anything goes.

    These early beliefs prime the human bayesian fact checker, and determine how much “evidence” is required to accept information as truthful. A catholic will assign very low initial probability to information from the koran, and hence reject what is obviously true to a muslim. A protestant will do the same with information from the Vatican, etc.

    The largest drawback of a morality based in a specific god is that it closes the door to negotiation. How can one negotiate with people with a different morality if one believes one’s own morality to be backed by the only true god? How does one negotiate with people who transgress non-negotiable aspects of one’s god-given morality?

  492. Willyon 01 Sep 2015 at 6:57 pm

    BO: Well said.

  493. michaelegnoron 01 Sep 2015 at 8:17 pm

    Bill:

    Yours is perhaps the dumbest post in the thread.

    [The problem is not with moral law — the problem is that by putting your god at the top, you assert your superiority over others.]

    You confuse moral epistemology with moral ontology. I haven’t said a word about how we can know God’s law. I’ve merely pointed out that if He doesn’t exist that there are profound consequences for man. My only point is this: if God does not exist, there is no objective moral law.

    Each of us puts his god on top. Sometimes our god is ourself. Each of us believes that his moral perspective is best–that is, after all, why we hold to a moral perspective. The question is whether the moral perspective we hold to has any chance of corresponding at least in part to an objective moral law, or whether it is inherently just opinion, with no objective moral ontology at all.

    [Why would I trust you?… Whether it’s the virgin birth, god living on another planet, a pedophile brigand as the most perfect human being or class warfare, anything goes.]

    I’ve said nothing about moral epistemology. Our ability to discern an objective moral law is a matter quite beyond this discussion–it is a matter of metaphysics and theology and culture and psychology, none of which appear to be within the grasp of this rather limited readership.

    I have merely made this point–Nietzsche’s point–again and again: if there is no God, there is no objective moral law, and there is only seven billion individual opinions, which is decided in the end by will to power, and only will to power.

    [The largest drawback of a morality based in a specific god is that it closes the door to negotiation. How can one negotiate with people with a different morality if one believes one’s own morality to be backed by the only true god?]

    Your discovery of moral conflict is a bit late. It’s the story of human history, and it persists with venom, despite (or because of) the Death of God in the West. The largest drawback to a morality based on mere human opinion is that it also closes the door to negotiation, because there is by definition no moral standard to which to compare moral codes. So what replaces divine deontological moral law is materialist ‘deontological’ moral law–our experience of the 20th century is that Marxist morality replaces Christian morality. Hannah Arendt has pointed out that the naturalistic understanding of man has been a toxic accelerant on human depravity. If morality does not come from God (however He is understood), it comes from man, and if man is an animal evolved by natural selection, moral law becomes the outcome of a process of genocide of the strong over the weak.

    That is precisely what has happened with the rise of state atheism. The systematic extermination of entire classes of people–capitalists or Ukrainians or reactionaries or Christians or whatever the latest atheist demons–becomes a moral imperative, because moral law untethered from God becomes the imposition of individual whim by the will to power.

    You are not free from history, BO. You conspicuously left out any consideration or even acknowledgement of morality under state atheism. You must put atheist morality under the same microscope you put Christian and Islamic and Jewish morality. Your morality–atheist morality– has a history. It is a sign of your intellectual cowardice and duplicity that you refuse to acknowledge the bloody real world consequences of your own ideology.

  494. Willyon 01 Sep 2015 at 8:38 pm

    Mikey: You pointedly refuse to address my point that history appears to be one Overman after another, even when the RCC was the Overman–and Lord knows they did some pretty heinous things during their reign, enabled by the fact that they were strong enough to force their opinion on others. I sometimes wonder about the witches, Jews, and other heretics they so easily disposed of. Were the victim of the RCC persecutions not “demons” the Church needed to extinguish? No doubt my thoughts are just too simplistic and ignorant to address–or maybe you can take the time to accord me the recognition of having made the “dumbest post”? My apologies for not being able to trade quotes from Nietzsche with you.

    Communication with God seems quite confusing to me. I see that the Big Magic Sky Being communicated well enough with folks like Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Paul (and let’s not forget pseudo-Paul) that they could write the holy words that are to guide us forever, yet it can’t communicate well enough with you, Craig, and Wells to clarify whether or not the Bible should be taken literally or not or whether Wells is correct in believing that Moon was a new messiah. It doesn’t escape me that Paul didn’t even know Jesus personally, yet the communication Paul received was clear enough to add much to Jesus’ original message–indeed most Christian details come from Paul, not Jesus. Why can’t it communicate clearly with you?

    You betray your bias by assuming those who disagree with you are either dumb or evil. Apparently, “thoughtful” people are by definition Christians–no matter what stripe. Whoops, I forgot the “Egnorance” blog post where you noted the Fred Phelps’ opinion on the “Gaystapo” wasn’t worth considering because Phelps was also a Democrat, so not all Christians count.

  495. michaelegnoron 01 Sep 2015 at 9:04 pm

    Willy:

    I’ve ignored your question because it wasn’t sufficiently thoughtful or coherent to answer. Since you persist, I’ll say a few words.

    Nietzsche’s Overman was the antithesis of the RCC.

    Catholic morality (and for that matter the morality of all of the world’s major religions) goes very much against whims and personal preferences. The Ten Commandments are not a prescription for fun. It’s quite a pain, actually, if you actually try to follow it. Sleeping around and bending the truth and coveting your neighbor’s stuff and not wasting your time honoring your father and mother are perennial human desires–that holds for Christians as well as for atheists. Turning the other cheek and loving your enemies and being meek and sorrowful and not looking at a woman lustfully and plucking out your metaphorical eye are downright distasteful to ordinary human desires. We Christians try to obey (quite imperfectly) despite the fact that every fiber in our body screams “Go ahead and do it!”

    Nietzsche hated Christian morality–slave morality he called it. He wanted God dead–he merely insisted that we have no illusions about what would replace Christian morality.

    The replacement will not be secular “Humanism”, which is merely Christian Humanism with the religious parts snipped out. The Death of God will entail the transvaluation of values–the emergence of a naturalistic individual morality, imposed by the Overman–the strongman.

    We have seen it in Nazism, obviously, but also in Communism. You need to account for what happens when your moral ontology is accepted by a culture–it is a very bloody affair.

  496. RickKon 02 Sep 2015 at 5:35 am

    “… the naturalistic understanding of man has been a toxic accelerant on human depravity.”

    With all due respect, Michael – that’s horsesh*t.

    It is harder today than at any point in human history to dehumanize another human being. The idea that “all men are created equal” is a new concept, as is the concept of civil rights. A lower percentage of the human race lives in immediate fear of violent death than at any point in our history. We feel more connected to people different than us than at any time in history. The world’s population has greater access to information, greater freedom to communicate, than ever before. In spite of your spittle-flecked ravings about homosexuals and liberals and women who have sex out of wedlock, our empathy is wider-spread and our morality more mature than at any point in history.

    Global trade, global communication, the rising influence of women in leadership roles – these are all forces that are increasing the flourishing of the conscious creatures of this planet.

    You have a stunning ability to be condescending while being dead wrong.

    If there is no God, and there is certainly no convincing evidence for one; if there is no cosmic good and evil, then EVERYTHING that humanity has achieved – from the horrors witch burnings, the Inquisition and concentration camps to the glories of Médecins Sans Frontières, the Cassini Probe, and St. Peter’s Basilica are all entirely human creations in an entirely natural world. Scary thought, isn’t it – that it might in fact be up to us and there might in fact not be a map.

    So you go ahead and sit there buried in your books, looking for pre-determined divine answers in 13th Century writings and muttering to yourself about gays, condoms and progressive popes. Go ahead and dream up more terrifying supernatural threats of the afterlife with which to control the minds of children and adults while denying you’re using strongman tactics. The rest of us will go on trying to figure out how to best flourish in the real world, and making some good progress.

  497. michaelegnoron 02 Sep 2015 at 6:07 am

    RickK:

    [It is harder today than at any point in human history to dehumanize another human being.]

    Unless that human being is very young and his organs fetch a good price. 60 million in the US since 1973, and counting.

    [The idea that “all men are created equal” is a new concept, as is the concept of civil rights.]

    Both explicitly Christian concepts.

    [A lower percentage of the human race lives in immediate fear of violent death than at any point in our history.]

    … since the fall of Communism, which was the only form State Atheism has ever taken.

    [our empathy is wider-spread and our morality more mature than at any point in history.]

    All the result of the dissemination of Christian morality in our interconnected world.

    If you want to compare Christian morality to atheist morality, you must compare moral behavior in Christian societies (USA, Western Europe..) to moral behavior in atheist societies (North Korea, Soviet Union, Communist China, Khmer Rouge Cambodia…)

    As an atheist, you can’t take credit for the penumbra of Christian Humanism. You own atheist morality. Funny how you never talk about it.

  498. mumadaddon 02 Sep 2015 at 7:42 am

    Michael,

    This has been said to you repeatedly already, but I’ll say it again anyway – totalitarianism is a bad thing, whatever its central ideology. Rejecting claims of an objective moral law set by a divine creator does not logically lead to genocide and oppression. The secular societies in Europe are doing just fine without god, thank you.

    Your system, however, does have a clear logical path to both – you have a fixed set of external rules that have removed human well being from the process (in fact removed the “process” altogether) of determining which actions and values should be promoted and which should be discouraged. Whatever god says is moral is moral, so genocide is fine if god tells you to do it; homosexuality is a sin because it says so in your 2000 year old book and is whispered into your ear by a “still, quiet voice.”

    Funny how god tells pissed of Muslims to kill infidels, new age spiritual types that he is love, and right wing bigots that gays and abortions are wrong. You say you don’t want to get into epistemology, and I can see why – you should be embarrassed. Your story about god communicating messages to you through situations you find yourself in is a case-study in confirmation bias. So instead you hang your hat on an absurd false dichotomy: either there is god or all morals are mere opinions. You ignore obvious fact, which has been pointed out to you numerous times, that moral actions can be objectively assessed in relation to achieving particular goals, such as maximising well being and minimising suffering. We can start out with general first principles such as: life is generally preferable to death, pain is bad, etc and build from there. Your objections about pure consequentialism are cartoonish strawmen – who here has advocated such a system?

    The fact is that unless your god exists, and unless we have a clearly defined set of guidelines from him with impeccable provenance, your moral system should be discarded as iron age superstition created by people who didn’t know any better. You parade around philosophical arguments that are rejected by the majority of philosophers, and rely on a pre-scientific understanding of physics for their premises. Then you have the gall to condescend and call us stupid for not buying your crap.

    Sleeping around and bending the truth and coveting your neighbor’s stuff and not wasting your time honoring your father and mother are perennial human desires–that holds for Christians as well as for atheists. Turning the other cheek and loving your enemies and being meek and sorrowful and not looking at a woman lustfully and plucking out your metaphorical eye are downright distasteful to ordinary human desires.

    Except that all religious moral “systems” are the product of human minds – human minds that were themselves the product of pre-scientifc societies which didn’t understand the world, in which many were illiterate, and communication with anyone outside your immediate surroundings was extremely limited. RickK already responded to this anyway, so I’ll leave it there.

  499. michaelegnoron 02 Sep 2015 at 8:12 am

    @muma:

    [Except that all religious moral “systems” are the product of human minds]

    You presume that which you claim to demonstrate.

    Moral Law is God’s law, and it is written into the human heart. It does not come from human minds–it is part of our intellectual framework, as we are created. We don’t always understand it well, or obey it well, and we too frequently violate it, but Moral Law is real, objective and from God.

  500. mumadaddon 02 Sep 2015 at 8:51 am

    Michael,

    I think you need to familiarise yourself will null hypotheses, default assumptions and burden of proof.

  501. mumadaddon 02 Sep 2015 at 11:53 am

    “Moral Law is God’s law, and it is written into the human heart.”

    My heart pumps blood. So far as I know it, that is the heart’s function. Accepting your metaphor, what is it that’s “written into the hearts” of dogs that makes them able to experience jealousy; hungry rhesus monkeys to refuse to electrically shock their fellow monkeys, even when it means getting food for themselves; chimpanzees to intervene in fights. Why is it that so many components of human moral behaviour can be found in the animal world? Why is it that this can be explained so well in terms of the function of specific brain regions and level of sociability of the species? Why is it that reciprocal altruism can be demonstrated to be the most successful strategy at the algorithmic level by computer simulations*? I know, I know – maths, computer science and evolutionary theory are field all infested with atheists, along with physics and philosophy.

    * http://www.siue.edu/~evailat/pdf/ev-gt.pdf

    You’re not even attempting to do anything but assert your conclusions.

  502. Pete Aon 02 Sep 2015 at 11:56 am

    “The trouble with ignorance is that it feels so much like expertise.” –David Dunning.

    “Confabulation is an unconscious process of creating a narrative that the narrator believes is true but that is demonstrably false.” — Robert Todd Carroll.
    http://skepdic.com/confab.html

  503. Willyon 02 Sep 2015 at 11:58 am

    Dr.Egnor: Some time ago, I said that thought that you were trying to do your best, as I believe most all people are. I still hold to that belief. You, on the other hand, tend to see those who disagree with you as “stupid”, or worse. I am tending toward believing that mummadad’s rum-influenced assessment of you has at the very \\\\\\\\\\\least a kernel of truth.

    IMO, you enjoy preening and flaunting your knowledge of philosophy, but you don’t care to address the simpler questions for which there are no real answers.

    I hope this post isn’t too “incoherent”.

  504. Willyon 02 Sep 2015 at 11:59 am

    Yikes! Just as I went to hit “submit”, the cat stepped on the keyboard, hence the excess back slashes.

  505. michaelegnoron 02 Sep 2015 at 2:45 pm

    The cat’s input was the most thoughtful part of the comment.

  506. BillyJoe7on 02 Sep 2015 at 5:25 pm

    Oh michael, stop slapping your willy over his head and answer the post at 7:42am or I’ll send you off to your muma and dadda for a good spanking. 😉

  507. Willyon 02 Sep 2015 at 6:19 pm

    Dr. Egnor: Clever, but empty, retort, though perhaps you are correct. I really should give more thought to my claim that you mean well.

    A day or two ago, you nominated a post as the dumbest post to date. I’d like to nominate a post of yours for that honor. I think your post reflects well your unwillingness to think logically instead of ideologically and I think you are smart enough and honest enough to admit you were wrong, indeed, to admit that that you were just plain foolish. The post I nominate:

    # michaelegnoron 20 Aug 2015 at 10:54 pm
    @Willy: “There’s a simple and obvious criterion for settled (valid/consensus) science.
    Settled science is science that is no longer to object of research.
    Heliocentrism is settled science. The NSA does not fund heliocentrism vrs geocentrism research.
    That A binds to T in DNA is settled science. No one does research on that issue.
    If AGW is settled science, we should withdraw funding for AGW research. Why do research on science that is settled?”

    First, you immediately substituted the charged word “settled” in place of my choice, which was “consensus”. That was a cheesy device for you to employ.

    Secondly, and more importantly, you constructed a ridiculous set of examples. Sure, heliocentrism is a “settled” idea, but we still study the sun, the solar system, and the universe itself. Discovering that the sun, not the earth, is the center of the solar system means we discard geocentric ideas going forward. It does not mean we gave up studying the sun. Similarly, we learned the brain, not some other organ, is the center of thought and control of our bodies. We didn’t stop researching the brain however, we just stopped trying find neurological function in the heart or the thumb. And of course, DNA is the subject of intense research despite knowing which nucleotides bond with which. Your examples are pure poppycock and I’m certain you know that.

    Thirdly, no one except maybe politicians assert that climatology itself is “settled” science. The consensus–an enormous consensus–is that human caused CO2 contributes to some degree to climate change. Stop listening to John Kerry and Nancy Pelosi.

    You essentially constructed grossly simplistic straw men to attack. I’m tempted to observe that you know less about science than I do about philosophy, but I know that is not true. I think you are dazzled by your own perceived brilliance. You are so certain of your positions and so condescending of your opposition that you feel you can toss off empty headed, baldly false claims and get by with them.

    I am most curious to know what science the NSA (sic) funds?

  508. michaelegnoron 02 Sep 2015 at 8:05 pm

    [I am most curious to know what science the NSA (sic) funds?]

    NSF. My cat stepped on the keyboard.

  509. Pete Aon 03 Sep 2015 at 11:50 am

    Michael, you should let your cat write more often: it makes only typos, whereas you make only illogical diatribes. Cats are very intelligent — none of them are Roman Catholic and none of them believe in anything spouted by the Discovery Institute.

  510. AmateurSkepticon 03 Sep 2015 at 1:57 pm

    [How about this?
    PERSUADE people not to have sex out of wedlock
    PERSUADE gay people not to marry
    PERSUADE the terminally ill not to end their lives.
    PERSUADE people not to use condoms.
    PERSUADE people not to divorce]
    You forgot one:
    PERSUADE people to bake you a wedding cake.

    Here are three that you apparently forgot Michael.

    PERSUADE people to let you sit in the front of the bus with the white folks.
    PERSUADE people to let you sit at the lunch counter in Woolworths.
    PERSUADE people to let you use the rest room in a service station when driving from Florida to Chicago.

    In this country we use laws to combat bigotry, not to enable it.

  511. michaelegnoron 03 Sep 2015 at 3:30 pm

    @AS:

    [In this country we use laws to combat bigotry, not to enable it.]

    Actually, Jim Crow was a system of laws that mandated bigotry. It was enacted by you and yours–Democrats, not my mine.

  512. RickKon 03 Sep 2015 at 4:21 pm

    Michael – Once again your rejection of evolution serves you poorly, since you’re apparently blind to the evolution of our political parties.

    Why do you sink to such cheap, false nonsense? I just don’t get it. Everybody here knows how the racist vote has switched parties – one look at the guy in the White House makes that obvious. We know you know this, and so we know you’re intentionally misrepresenting the truth. Do you really think you’re scoring points with your Glenn Beck one-liners?

  513. AmateurSkepticon 03 Sep 2015 at 4:27 pm

    Perhaps you haven’t noticed that the bigots switched parties after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1965.

    It doesn’t matter today which party had the most racists in 1950 (or 1850, or 1750). What matters in 2015 is which party has the most racists in 2015.

    But, of course, your comment ignores the real point which is that our society (thankfully, albeit imperfectly) has laws to protect its citizens against bigotry and racism and not to enshrine one particular religious dogma.

  514. Willyon 03 Sep 2015 at 9:15 pm

    Dr. Egnor perhaps best exemplifies his biases when addressing politics–witness his statements on “settled” science and the post directly above on the Democrats being (currently) responsible for racism. His arguments impress me less and less as time marches on.

    Regarding his older, (supposedly sophisticated) philosophical arguments, I referred today to Bertrand Russell’s book “The History of Western Philosophy” (paperback, Simon and Schuster, copyright renewed 1972 by Edith Russell). Under entries for the ontological argument, I found the following statements:

    1) (page 417); “This argument has NEVER been accepted by theologians. Thomas Aquinas rejected it.”” But Mikey, you are such a big fan of Aquinas? How could he be so wrong?

    2) (page 417); “among philosophers, it has had a better fate. Descartes revived it….leibnitz thought it could be made valid by the addition of a supplement…Kant considered that he had demolished it…”

    There is more on the subject in the book, but the point I want to stress is that Dr. Egnor is a “salad bar” Christian. Pick some of this, reject some of that, take one of these, leave one of those behind. Choose from the Bible the verses you wish to be literal and claim the rest to be misunderstanding of the various authors. He advocates for “Thomism”, but neglected to tell us that Aquinas rejects an argument that Dr. Egnor finds persuasive–AND claims that those who disagree with the argument just don’t understand it. He cites Nietzsche (with whom he ultimately fundamentally disagrees), but neglects to mention that other big name philosophers disagree. He addresses arguments on this thread selectively and chooses to ignore many of them–the best example of that is the thrice asked questions from mummadad.

    Not very impressive, but then, I’m just “insufficiently thoughtful and incoherent”. Sorry, Mikey.

    The more I read of Dr. Egnor’s “sophisticated” philosophy, the more similar it seems to nonsense.

  515. Spock Jr.on 05 Sep 2015 at 10:34 pm

    A most fascinating exchange, Captain. One party’s threshold for what is accepted as objective ‘proof’ – based on undemonstrated speculations of ancient writings – is inadequate and of course, illogical. Feelings undoubtedly count as evidence which renders his ‘knowledge’…unjustified. These delusions are quite common traits among your species…and a wonder you’ve made it this far. \:-<

  516. AmateurSkepticon 14 Sep 2015 at 5:14 am

    I contend that it is not possible to read this entire thread without concluding that Michael’s purpose has not been to engage in a reasoned argument but rather to simply enjoy the juvenile pass-time of slinging insults (some very clever, actually, although almost invariably based on twisted or non-existent logic). This really hasn’t been a dialogue of any sort but rather a mud wrestling contest with a thoroughly slimed hog. In the unlikely event that this comment provokes a response, it almost certainly will be nothing more than an ad hominem attack on my mental capacity, looks or parentage.

  517. Willyon 14 Sep 2015 at 12:56 pm

    AmateurSkeptic: I agree with you regarding Mikey’s purposes and intent, or lack thereof. I’ve read a bit of his blog (“Egnorance”) in recent days and I continue to be unimpressed. He seems just a blindly partisan hack, convinced that anyone who disagrees with him is either stupid, immoral, or evil. He is certainly impressed with his own intellect!

    I note he uses a “y” ending for people’s names in order to disparage, so I’ve ceased addressing him respectfully as “Dr. Egnor” and I am thoroughly enjoyed referring to him as “Mikey”. I had hoped for a reasoned exchange with someone who thinks differently than I do, but have given up on that thought as foolish.

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