Apr 27 2017

Jesus Mythicism Revisited

I recently wrote about the historical question of whether or not a person names Jesus existed and is the same person referenced in the New Testament. My bottom line conclusion was that the historical evidence is thin.

This post sparked an interesting conversation that brought out a lot of nuance, and also, I think, exposed some weaknesses in how I framed the original discussion. The comments are still very active, indicating there is a lot of interest in this question, so I wanted to reframe the discussion a bit and hopefully clarify my position.

Part of what I think happened, which happens frequently in my experience, is that people tend to assume your position falls within a preexisting camp.  In the historicity of Jesus question there are two main camps, the mainstream position and the mythicist position. Therefore anyone saying anything to question the mainstream position is immediately accused of being a mythicist. Likewise, endorsing the mainstream position can be mischaracterized as endorsing Christianity.

Let me state my position up front and then go into more detail. First, I am not endorsing any of the mythicist positions. I do not think that any mythicist makes a strong positive case for their alternate hypothesis of how the Jesus story emerged.

Second, I understand the reasons that mainstream historians use to argue that it is more likely than not that Jesus existed. I simply think they are overstating their confidence and neglecting reasons to argue that we simply don’t know. 

The Mainstream Position

I won’t be able to do justice to a complex issue about which many books have been written, but I am going to try. From my reading it seems that there are two main pillars on which the mainstream position that Jesus probably existed rests. First, the facts, about which there is little disagreement:

There is no direct evidence that Jesus existed. There is no archaeological evidence, he left behind no personal writing, there are no first-person accounts, and his disciples left behind no writing. The first mention of Jesus in the historical record are the letters of Paul starting 20 years or so after the crucifixion of Jesus (I will simply reference the timeline without adding caveats each time). Seven of the letters are considered genuine, and the others were from other authors who probably used Paul’s name to lend credibility to their writing.

Paul never met Jesus. He primarily refers to visions he had of Jesus. He does claim to have met James, the brother of Jesus, and two of the disciples. He also refers to Jesus as if he were an actual person.

The Gospels were written beginning about 60 years after Jesus. They were the result of complex conflicting oral traditions that were eventually written down in order to codify the tradition for a specific community. There were many gospels with many conflicting details. Around three centuries after Jesus, after Christianity became the official religion of Rome, the church settled on four gospels as canon, and everything else became heresy.

The gospels of Mark, Luke, and Matthew are the synoptic gospels and clearly emerge from one common oral tradition, or may have shared an unknown written reference. The gospel of John clearly represents a separate oral tradition, with very little overlap in details with the other three.

There are also two important historians that refer to Jesus, Josephus and Tacitus. Josephus refers to Jesus twice. One reference is definitely a partial forgery, but historians make a good case for why it is not a complete forgery. These historians were writing about a century after Jesus, and the question is – did they have a reliable source for their references, or were they just recounting what was believed at the time?

That is a quick summary of the basic facts, again mostly not in dispute. The argument is about how to make the best inference from these facts.

Historians use two bits of logic to make their inference that Jesus probably existed. The first is the argument from embarrassment. They argue that there are details in the Jesus story that are inconvenient to early Christians. If they were inventing the story out of whole cloth they would not have included these details, therefore they are there because they derive from a real historical person.

So, Jesus was said to be from Nazareth, a small town of no reputation or religious significance. However, the prophesies say the messiah will come from Bethlehem. Therefore the gospels invent a story for why the parents of Jesus had to make a trip to Bethlehem just in time for Jesus to be born there and fulfill prophesy. If the entire story were made up, they would have just made him come from Bethlehem. There is no theological or narrative reason for the town of Nazareth to enter the story at all, unless it was a detail describing a real person.

They make the same argument for the baptism. If Jesus were the Christ, then he would not have to be baptized because he had no sins to wipe away. But the story includes the detail that he was baptized by John the Baptist. This is an inconvenient story element that the gospels deal with in different ways. In the synoptic gospels Jesus simply makes a comment to John about how he will let him baptize him just to follow protocol. In John, Jesus is simply not baptized. Jesus meets John the Baptist, who then baptizes other people, but not Jesus.

The final inconvenience for the Christian mythology was the crucifixion. Being attached to a tree or wood was abhorrent to Jews of the time. The notion that their messiah was crucified was an embarrassment and a source of mockery. An oral tradition untethered to an actual historical figure would never have included this major story element.

I think this is a reasonable line of argument that is logically valid. However, I don’t find it as compelling as historians apparently do. It is partly an argument from ignorance – they can’t think of another reason why those story elements would be included so they must be real. What I have not read (but would be open to if it is out there) are clear historical examples where this type of story element is a marker for veracity. How predictive is the fact that there are inconvenient story elements?

Perhaps I am more informed by my skeptical background and knowledge of modern myths, that contain lots of quirky details for quirky reasons. People don’t appear to have a problem making ad hoc adjustments to convoluted stories in order to make them work for their purposes. If those details entered the oral tradition for some reason, because someone heard that some guy from Nazareth did something amazing, for example, that detail would not necessarily be later purged. It could easily be accommodated.

It seems that the mainstream arguments are falling a bit for a false dichotomy – was the story invented or derived from a real person. But there is a third possibility, the story evolved organically and was neither crafted nor lifted from one real person.

The second major line of argument I encounter is the argument from silence. The early church was a hot bed of disagreement. They disagreed about every major element of their emerging religion, including basic stuff like whether or not Jesus was divine. They did not, however, disagree about whether or not Jesus existed. There may have been individual doubters, but mostly everyone at the time took for granted that Jesus was a real person.

Again, I don’t dispute this fact, but I am not as compelled by their interpretation of it. If the story was that Jesus was an actual person, I don’t find it surprising that this was accepted uncritically. People tend to believe stories and underestimate (grossly underestimate) the degree to which stories can be wrong in major details. It simply may not have occurred to anyone that the very existence of Jesus could have been a made up detail.

The Mythicist Positions

There are various mythicist positions, none of which I think are very compelling. After reading mainstream criticism of them, they all appear to have major holes that they cannot adequately explain. One position is that early Christians did not believe Jesus was a real person, just a spiritual being. He was later “historicized” into a real person. While Jesus may have been a historicized myth, there is no evidence that early Christians did not believe he was real, and there is good evidence that they did. The letters of Paul make it clear that he thought Jesus was a real person.

Another hypothesis is that the character Jesus was an amalgamation of many contemporary prophets. While this is a viable hypothesis, there is no specific evidence for the sources of the amalgamation. Further, this doesn’t explain the inconvenient story elements, which, historians argue, would not have been cherry picked from various individuals.

Others argue that the Jesus story was simply lifted from other traditions of the time. I think this confuses two questions – the historicity of Jesus and the mythology of Jesus. The details of the Jesus story, specifically the inconvenient elements, were not lifted from any other legend or story of the time. They are new and unique to Jesus.

However, the mythology of Jesus was fully in the tradition of messiah stories of the time. The mythological elements, such as fulfilling prophesy, a miraculous birth, being theologically precocious, performing miracles, healing the sick, raising the dead, and making a heroic sacrifice in order to save their community, are all established messiah myth elements.

I would also add that many mythicists use as a major pillar of their position that there was little mention of Jesus outside of early Christians for a century, until you get to the scant mentions by Josephus and Tacitus, and they could easily have just been referring to the belief in Jesus of the Christians (although admittedly this is disputed). This is their own argument from silence.

However, I think this is a wash, it is neither evidence for or against the historicity of Jesus. Scholars argue that it makes perfect sense there was no mention of a poor preacher from Judea. We have scant evidence of anyone from that time. Many comparisons are made to other ancient historical characters who are not controversial but have similar levels of evidence that they existed.

I don’t think this argument gets either side anywhere. It makes sense that there is no direct evidence for Jesus whether he existed or not. It neither supports nor refutes his historicity.

Scholarship Cuts Both Ways

Where does all this leave us? I would make a few conclusions:

First, there is no smoking-gun direct evidence that Jesus was a historical person. This does not prove he did not exist, but it is simply a fact that the conclusion that Jesus probably existed is simply a best inference from the scant evidence we do have.

I agree that the conclusion Jesus was a real person is a reasonable, and probably the simplest, inference from the evidence.

However, I think it is more accurate to conclude that we don’t know. The inference is thin, and rests on an argument from ignorance. I think it also underestimates the ability of communities to rapidly evolve myths out of very little raw material or even nothing, confusing myth for history and then basing further myths on that false history. Someone makes up or massively confuses a story, that story is treated as if it is real and then becomes a reference point.

Modern myths inform this position tremendously. I already mentioned in my previous article the Roswell incident. There were no flying saucers or aliens at Roswell, yet we have books written about the incident as if there were. Think about our modern “fake news” culture in which a made up story becomes its own reference.

Today we have reporters reporting on the existence of a story, and their reporting then being used as a citation to support the reality of that story. I think it is perfectly reasonable to conclude that 2000 years ago we had similar things taking place, even to the point that historians were reporting on stories, and then being used as evidence for the story.

Without hard evidence or first hand corroboration, we should not underestimate the power of storytelling.

I would further conclude that while some mythicist critics have legitimate points to make about the weaknesses in the evidence for a historical Jesus, they do not make a valid positive case for their specific alternate hypotheses.

Finally, for those who would argue that the mainstream consensus opinion is that the best inference from the evidence is that there was a guy named Jesus who came from Nazareth, was baptized and crucified, you have to also acknowledge that the mainstream consensus opinion, based upon the exact same historical reasoning, is that none of the other New Testament story elements are historical.

For example, the same historians who say Jesus was probably crucified also say that the story of the tomb is almost certainly not historical. If you apply the same logic and inference from the available evidence, all of the story elements that are not consistent among the various oral traditions, that are in line with prior myth and not inconvenient, and for which there was debate among early Christians are probably not real historical events.

You can’t have it both ways, invoking the consensus opinion of historians for the things you like and rejecting the consensus for the things you don’t like.

 

587 responses so far

587 thoughts on “Jesus Mythicism Revisited”

  1. RickK says:

    typo: “I think this is a reasonable like of argument that is logically valid.”

    Good post. I’m on the other side of the fence, but certainly accept that it might have all been made up. The process of “making stuff up” from whole cloth was well established. People would author documents they wanted to pass as discovered ancient prophecies, mixing in older known facts as if they were true prophecies, then making predictions about future events. By claiming that the document was older than it really was, they could say the “prophecies” had been correct so far, and it gave weight to the future predictions (and to the person who owned the document).

    Jesus (real or invented) could have had no pretensions of being the Jewish messiah – all of that was probably glued onto him after the fact. So the fact that his life is out of sync with the messiah prophecies is not relevant to the historicity question.

    But, Mark, Luke and Matthew are all dependent upon works that were earlier still. And there’s some good overlap between Jesus quote collections used by the gospels and those used by the Gnostics. And once again we have the “inconvenience” factor of many of the quotes.

    My money is still on a real person. I’m more compelled by comparisons to Joseph Smith, L. Ron Hubbard and various other more recent religion-starters who later get mythologized.

    Thanks again for an interesting discussion!

  2. tb29607 says:

    For the mythicist amalgamation arguement I am not sure I agree that uncomfortable details would not be included. Wouldn’t you have to include odd details in order to make two separate myths into one and keep it recognizable to different groups telling different myths?
    One group says Jesus of Nazareth.
    Another says he was born in Bethlehem.
    Eliminate either detail and you lose the group telling that story they assume you mean a different person. Creating the census myth brings the two together into one. “Cherry picking” makes the story less inclusive of already disparate groups.

  3. overlappingmagisteria says:

    Thanks for the clarification!

    I would only disagree with using only 2 categories of Mainstream/Mythicist. I’d do these 3 catagories:

    Pious: What your churchgoer believes, that the Bible is mostly accurate
    Mainstream Historian: There was a Jesus and only some of the story is real.
    Mythicist: There was no Jesus at all. Its all made up.

  4. Rick – remember to include the third possibility, the story evolved organically, not manufactured deliberately.

    The Joseph Smith analogy is helpful, but the question is – who is analogous to Smith in this story.

    Perhaps Smith is the analogy for Paul and Jesus is Moroni. Paul said he saw Jesus in a vision and gave him revelations. Smith said Moroni appeared to him and gave him the golden tablets, which only he could read, no one else saw, and then he took them back.

    Saying Jesus is Smith is begging the question, because the analogy works both ways.

  5. overlapping – I did not include the pious position because it is not relevant to my discussion, which is about history, not faith.
    You left out my third category, the skeptical position, which is really just a tweak of the historian position including more doubt derived from knowledge of all the things skeptics explore and discuss.

  6. overlappingmagisteria says:

    Fair enough on leaving out “Pious.” I like to include since I see a lot of mythicists lump the Pious and Mainstream positions into one. They’ll then argue against the Pious position, thinking that they’ve disproved the Mainstream one as well.

  7. Dan I says:

    I posted this in reply to the Facebook post but I’ll put it here too:

    I take a bit of an issue with this part of the post:

    “Finally, for those who would argue that the mainstream consensus opinion is that the best inference from the evidence is that there was a guy named Jesus who came from Nazareth, was baptized and crucified, you have to also acknowledge that the mainstream consensus opinion, based upon the exact same historical reasoning, is that none of the other New Testament story elements are historical.”

    The reason is that there’s two different sets of information presented in the New Testament (broadly speaking). There’s perfectly logical, easy to understand stuff.

    There was a guy named Yeshua
    He was a wandering preacher in the early 1st Century AD
    He ticked off the Romans and the local Jewish leaders (who were collaborating with the Romans)
    He was crucified.

    The other stuff is supernatural
    He rose from the dead
    He performed miracles
    He appeared in visions.

    So you CAN’T just view everything through the same lens.

    Saying “Well ya know, the same people that say he was crucified also say he rose from the dead!?” is not as strong as an argument as you make it out to be. Simply because one of those things (Crucifixion) is a known to have existed, fairly regular, and in no way supernatural event. It’s not all a stretch to believe some guy named Yeshua was crucified near Jerusalem around 33AD after having spent time was a wandering preacher.

    It’s an entirely different belief that he then rose from the dead.

  8. RickK says:

    Steve,

    Your analogy of Jesus as Moroni would work if Paul (or somebody) was the sole charismatic disciple. But he wasn’t. Paul in his own words described having (and losing) arguments with the people who actually knew Jesus (Peter and the Jerusalem apostles).

    The version that Paul was an upstart offshoot trying to spin up his own version of the church just fits the documentation better. That’s even more true if we assume even earlier documents, now lost (like “Q”) emanating from the direct apostles/disciples, independent of Paul.

    The fact that there were multiple reasonably prolific authors independently referring back to the same guy just makes more sense if the guy existed.

    Supernatural/divine abilities are a whole different story.

  9. Dan – I don’t understand your point. You are agreeing with me. Perhaps you misread the passage you quote.

  10. GHL says:

    So I wrote a longer comment and then lost it when I accidentally navigated to the original post, luckily it would seem a lot of the nuance of the topic is being argued there so not much to add. What I will say is that it is endlessly annoying when my fellow Christians fail to separate historical and theological claims when discussing the topic, the existence of Jesus of Nazareth is a historical claim, that he is Christ is theological. The study of individuals in ancient history is a very different ballgame than many people expect, the evidence used is indirect by necessity and a little tends to go a long way which is a limited on certainty.
    I have been atheist and am now a Christian, specifically an Anglican Ordination Candidate and I am thankful for my experience on both sides. It is unfortunate that the loudest voices tend to be of the Egnor variety when the vast majority of Christians are actually not fundamentalist evangelicals. Thank you for the quality of your discussion and I hope my comment has been coherent, typing away at midnight here (Australia).

  11. edamame says:

    I tend to fall into the camp that thinks Jesus existed, partly because (from my very, very limited understanding based on reading one book) early critics of Christianity effectively never attacked this aspect of the stories. They attacked the supernatural elements like the resurrection. If he were fabricated from whole cloth as a complete fiction, it seems there would have been doubts floating around generically in the culture at the time about his existence, but it seems this was never part of the conversation about Christianity until much later, a kind of post-Enlightenment thing that emerged when people realized they could question everything (which is fine).

    Like I said I really don’t want to pretend to know much about this, but the one book I read about this was largely agnostic, but used this as a kind of deciding vote. And I think it is reasonable. But maybe historical scholarship has advanced since 20 years ago when I read that.

    For me not much rides on it. To accept that a resurrection happened yesterday (much less 2000 years ago), let’s say to some dude in China, what standards would you use? Think about it. What would it take to convince you? Is the evidence for Christ’s resurrection even close to those standards?

  12. GHL says:

    I’d also like to add that one of the great difficulties in getting your head wrapped around this topic is that the people leaving the records we are studying, which includes the many gospels and letters, had a very different relationship with the idea of authorship and that this was not deceptive by nature. Additionally a lot of the detials in the various stories also include a great deal of mythological shorthand that would have been easier to navigate for contemporaries. For context I’m also a student of history and theology which leads me to have a love of this particular question.

  13. Herodotus says:

    Hello again. I am largely in agreement with this newer restatment, although I do still have a slightly more optimistic view than you do, and I think some of the details are wrong. I’d like to ask you to comment on two things:

    1. You said “He does claim to have met James, the brother of Jesus, and two of the disciples. He also refers to Jesus as if he were an actual person.” Even the most inveterate Mythicists have recognised the power of this, so much so that they have spilled an ocean of ink in order to get rid of it. It strikes me as odd that you can accept this happily but not strongly conclude that Jesus was a real person. Could you elaborate your opinion of these passages?

    Also, James is mentioned in Josephus and the Gosepls. Josephus and Paul both tie him to the Jerusalem Church as well.

    2. I asked in my second comment on the last post what sense does it make think to think that the Jesus of the history was completely different to the Jesus of the gospels if he, was called Jesus, from Nazareth, baptised, worked as an itinerant preacher, crucified by Pontius Pilate etc. I consider these to be the relevant defining characteristics of the Gospel Jesus, ignoring theology. Assuming that he did exist and all those characteristics are correct, could please comment on this?

    By the way, in case you haven’t read my second comment, I apologised for my obnoxious tone in the first comment. Sorry about that!

  14. GHL says:

    The most academically accurate statement would probably be that using current historical standards the evidence suggests that the person Jesus of Nazareth (yes this is a Latin/Greek transliteration of the Aramaic Yeshua) likely existed and was an itinerent prophet who’s ministry was unusually non-violent for the messianic tradition/expectations of the late 2nd temple period and was executed by the dominant political and religious figures in Jerusalem. I would also take it a step further and say that the way his followers dealt with what was a very unexpected death for a messiah figure ended up having an enourmous impact on the world.

  15. Rick – there is no perfect analogy. You brought up Smith, I am just pointing out that you are making assumptions. Further, we have first hand accounts of Smith. Totally different level of evidence.

    Modern UFO cults are probably better analogies, but again none exactly replicate the situation. For example, we have the Men in Black belief. I doubt the MiB are based on any real people, but a lot of UFO believers write about them, take for granted they exist, claim to have seen them, and there is no discussion within the UFO community doubting their existence. Where did the specific elements of the story come from? Good question.

    We have stories of alien abductions, alien implants, prophesies, encounters, and some common story elements that once they become canon are almost universal, like the gray aliens. Why would there be so much agreement about the appearance of the grays if they were not referring to actual aliens?

    The cultural context is different, so of course you can find differences. But the core phenomenon is the same – evolving belief systems with many if not all the features of a new religious cult, like Christianity, based on things and people that don’t exist.

    These modern examples simply make the historical arguments less compelling.

  16. Herodotus – Paul also said he had visions of Jesus and performed miracles of his own. How reliable do you think that testimony is? It is very common with modern myths for people to claim a personal connection to some element of the story in order to increase their cred. Again – who knows how that story evolved.

    I’m not sure I understand your second question in the context of this post. I discussed the difference between the alleged historical Jesus and the Jesus mythology. That probably answers your question.

    I do invite you to imagine we had the exact same level of evidence for a New Age cult that was 200 years old. Would you push back against my skepticism about the core claims of such a cult? Would you object to invoking principles of the fallibility of memory, the power of myth and storytelling, how motivated individuals can come to belief fantastical stories that are not true, etc.?

  17. Pete A says:

    Dr Novella wrote: “For example, we have the Men in Black belief. I doubt the MiB are based on any real people,…”.

    Just as I doubt that Adam and Eve beliefs are based on any real people. Did Jesus believe in Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden story? All I know for sure is that Jesus and his disciples were totally ignorant of germ theory: only miracles, performed via True Belief, can cure leprosy!

  18. Merz says:

    A couple of comments brushed up against it, but I think it bears expanding on the contamination principle. The idea is that if a narrative contains both plausible and implausible elements, the plausible elements must be subject to a higher burden of proof than would be expected were they to be taken in isolation. The implausible/impossible elements ‘ contaminate’ the rest so to speak.
    I think it stacks the deck in favour of the mainstream viewpoint to only consider the plausible elements of the New Testament, when the remaining portions of it are clearly either fabricated or garbled.
    Of course, this doesn’t lend any support to a mythicist position either, but leaves me deeply in the skeptical camp.
    Stephen Law wrote an interesting paper on this in Faith and Philosophy 2011. Volume 28, Issue 2.

  19. Sophie says:

    I think the historical mainstream arguments are pretty weak. The criterion of embarrassment is deeply flawed. Especially if you have ever checked out the many early Christian gospels that were not included in the Bible. The oldest and most authentic of which, contains numerous embarrassing details about Jesus that are certainly fictional. Such a young Jesus using magical abilities to kill his friends. Or convincing his friend to throw himself off a height and fall to their death. Arguments like this embarrassment thing make me happy I’m in sciences.

    What happens if we apply these arguments to other mythologies? Must Hercules have been a real person because some of the details of his story are embarrassing? All the Greek stories have embarrassing elements.

    Oedipus killed his own father and married his mother — surely that’s too embarrassing of a detail to be made up, right? The criterion of embarrassment appears to be exclusively used for studying the early church, I wonder why it’s not universally applied? (Hint: it’s BS)

    Also I think Mosben’s arguments in the other thread have gone unappreciated. The idea that Jesus simply existed. As in was baptized and crucified. Is very different from the idea that a supernatural being with magical powers existed. We really have to harp on the archeological evidence and logic, I think that’s a powerful argument.

    1 There is a compelling argument to be made that Jesus existed.
    2 There is no argument to be made that supernatural magical Jesus existed.

    1 and 2 have to be underlined and said back to back. It’s a disservice to anyone involved in this discussion to not mention the difference between these statements. Historical existence does not automatically justify the mythology of Jesus.

    I think as skeptics we have a little too much respect for other experts in other fields. It’s possible that the entire field that studies the historicity of Jesus is deeply flawed. Some of their arguments are certainly not scientific, you can’t disprove the criterion of embarrassment it’s just fancy conjecture.

    Should we respect unscientific claims and procedures?

    Some of the scholars that people have claimed are on the fringe, like Bart D. Ehrman, have made some of the most convincing arguments I’ve seen in this area. His work on how the translations are very problematic, I think have contributed more to the discussion of early Christianity than some of the mainstream people. Also finding evidence and arguments to support forgery is a huge blow to the classical historian claims that presuppose those works are all authentic.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forged_(book)

  20. magsol says:

    This sentence

    However, I don’t find it as compelling as historians apparently do.

    was a little strange to me, considering that it’s not your day job–as it is for historians–to steep themselves in the historical evidence and contexts in order to make inferences. I guess, to me, it read similar to “I don’t find the evidence as compelling as climatologists do.”

    Not arguing any of your specific claims, just found this one sentence a little odd coming from you.

  21. “So, Jesus was said to be from Nazareth, a small town of no reputation or religious significance. However, the prophesies say the messiah will come from Bethlehem. Therefore the gospels invent a story for why the parents of Jesus had to make a trip to Bethlehem just in time for Jesus to be born there and fulfill prophesy. If the entire story were made up, they would have just made him come from Bethlehem. There is no theological or narrative reason for the town of Nazareth to enter the story at all, unless it was a detail describing a real person.”

    Or it could be a result of reconciling multiple, conflicting accepted mythologies into a single, universal mythology.

    Please see also the following for another possible explanation: (it could be another result of problems in the Hebrew to Greek translation of the OT)

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nazarene_(title)
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nazirite#In_the_New_Testament

  22. RE: Joseph Smith:

    From Wikipedia regarding the Book of Mormon:

    “In addition to Smith’s account regarding the plates, eleven others stated that they saw the golden plates and, in some cases, handled them. Their written testimonies are known as the Testimony of Three Witnesses and the Testimony of Eight Witnesses. These statements have been published in most editions of the Book of Mormon.”

    Joseph Smith is not the only claimed eyewitness of the existence of the plates.

  23. “I do not think that any mythicist makes a strong positive case for their alternate hypothesis of how the Jesus story emerged.”

    Agreed. For me, the biggest value of the mythicists is their case for how weak to non existent the evidence for Jesus existence is, not that they actually prove (or even support that well) the mythicist case.

  24. magsol – I do not disagree with the experts in terms of the facts or their interpretation of the fact, just the completely subjective judgement about level of confidence. I also gave very specific reasons for this, and explained exactly what I thought they were missing.

  25. RickK says:

    Sophie, I think you’re really missing some points here.

    You said: “The oldest and most authentic of which, contains numerous embarrassing details about Jesus that are certainly fictional. Such a young Jesus using magical abilities to kill his friends.”

    What do you mean by the “oldest and most authentic”? The “Infancy Gospel of Thomas” was a 2nd Century popular novella, by no means “oldest and most authentic”.

    The Oedipus example is not remotely comparable. The Oedipus story was told as a morality play – his actions part of the plot. It was the purpose and point of the story! When scholars say “embarrassing” details in the scriptures, they mean details that are exactly contrary to the author’s apparent intent. The author of “Matthew” repeatedly tries to show how events in the life of Jesus confirm prophecies of the Jewish Messiah. Yet the author can’t seem to escape key facts: Jesus wasn’t “from” Bethlehem, he was from some poxy little unknown village; Jesus wasn’t named Emmanuel; Jesus didn’t bring back the Kingdom of Isreal. These facts go against the plot that the author of “Matthew” wants to convey.

    To your next point, I haven’t heard anybody other than MASSive suggest that if Jesus was a real person, he did real magic. Where did you get that idea? I and others have made that point repeatedly – that the supernatural stuff is an entirely different matter. Finding the ruins of Troy doesn’t bring the Cyclops and Sirens to life. Just because King’s Cross station exists doesn’t mean Platform 9 3/4 is real.

    Finally, to your point about experts – there is real room for contention here. I’m quite impressed with the process of textual criticism used to attempt to glean truth from history. There is an expertise there, and I don’t have it. We in fact DO give strong credence to the consensus of experts – that is a key component of Steve’s brand of skepticism. While I would not be shocked either way in this debate – if Jesus turned out to be real or not – I do think Jesus enjoys more documentary evidence of his existence than many other historical figures that we accept. Steve himself mentioned Apollonius of Tyana, whose entire biography comes from one highly motivated author and written centuries after his death. So I think as skeptics we should be wary of applying a double standard just because we’re dealing with a religious figure.

  26. Sophie says:

    Rickk,

    So many mistakes in your analysis I don’t know where to start.

    Oedipus is a mythological Greek king. You are mistakenly concluding that the mythological figure is the same as the one in the play: “Oedipus Rex.”

    The play is not the source of this myth. The earliest reference to the Oedipus story is from The Odyssey, which predates the play by centuries.

  27. Sarah says:

    I’m inclined to think that he was just one of several apocalyptic preachers at the time, one whose legend rose while others fell. I doubt he was a deliberate con like those two.

  28. Sarah says:

    Not to mention, motivated reasoning in his existence.

  29. MosBen says:

    Sophie, I greatly appreciate the shout out, and I agree with the point you made, but it was slightly different than the point that I was trying to make, so I’ll restate it here. Let’s say that there was a mythological figure named George Washington. The myths included some historical details and some supernatural elements. You doubt that this character of “George Washington” from the myths actually refers to a real person. I tell you that there is reasonably reliable historical evidence that a person named George lived in Virginia at some point in the late 18th century, and that he fought in the Revolutionary Army. That’s it, not that he married a woman named Martha or was a general in the army. How confident should we be that the George referred to in the historical documents is the same George referred to in the myth stories? How many Georges likely lived in Virginia during those decades? How many of those Georges fought in the Revolutionary Army? It seems entirely possible to me that it both of these statements could be true: 1) There was a person named George that lived in Virginia and fought in the Revolutionary War, and 2) The George Washington myth was not actually based on this historical person, but was based on another person, maybe someone not even named George, or maybe made up whole cloth.

    How many Stevens live in Connecticut in 2017? If in 2000 years records survive of one person named Steve living in Connecticut in 2017 is it reasonable to assume that this is the same Steve referenced in the holy works of the Church of Novella?

  30. Sarah says:

    The problems inherent in the principle of embarrassment are pretty damning. I’d need to see some proof that it actually holds water in the case of other figures, and I don’t really see that happening.

  31. hardnose says:

    Christian beliefs were not anything new, and various kinds of mysticism had been around forever. Jesus was one of many similar mystics and prophets.

    Christianity became a major religion simply because it became the official religion of the Roman Empire. For political reasons, not because it was a special religion.

    People who know almost nothing about non-Western religions get hung up on the supposed history of Jesus as a particular human being.

    Whether he was a real person or not has nothing to do with the relevance of his teaching.

  32. michaelegnor says:

    @GHL:

    [I have been atheist and am now a Christian, specifically an Anglican Ordination Candidate and I am thankful for my experience on both sides. It is unfortunate that the loudest voices tend to be of the Egnor variety when the vast majority of Christians are actually not fundamentalist evangelicals.]

    Welcome to the fold. Do keep in mind that we Christians are called to love one another and that we are the body of Christ. Sniping at a fellow Christian while sucking up to atheists on an atheist blog is hardly fellowship, if you get my drift.

    I would suggest you pay more attention in your ‘Anglican Ordination’ classes about fundamentalism. I quess I am an evangelical, in a sense, but I’m anything but a fundamentalist, which refers to a particular strain of Protestantism that we Catholics have been battling for a century.

    There are Christians who take public stands, under their own name, for Christ. You, at least in this forum, do neither. The Lord isn’t impressed by ‘lukewarm’ (Rev 3:16).

  33. MosBen says:

    And to clarify, my posts in the last thread were intended to be open questions. I don’t know how common Jesus/Yeshua was as a name in Judea in the 1st Century. I don’t know how common execution by crucifixion was (I know that it was used, just not how frequently). If Jesus was as common a name as Steve is in 2017 and crucifixion was a regular occurrence, I don’t know that the historical evidence that I’ve seen presented in these threads should be at all convincing that it’s referring to the same person referenced in the myths. If it was a relatively common name and crucifixion was rarely used, then maybe I would find that link more compelling.

    It just seems to me that within the mainstream position there’s consensus around a very small number of biographical details and then a big leap to an assumption that this is obviously the same person to whom the myths refer.

  34. RickK says:

    Sophie, you’re still missing the point. This isn’t about facts that are inconvenient to the characters in the story. This isn’t about facts that were embarrassing to Jesus. It is about facts contrary to the author’s intent. Do you understand the difference?

  35. overlappingmagisteria says:

    Sophie, whether it is Oedipus of the myth or the play, you are still severely misunderstanding the Criterion of Embarrassment. It’s not just something embarrassing to the character, its something that goes against the intentions of the author. Oedipus, myth or play, does not fit this. Matthew’s Jesus does.

  36. MosBen says:

    And in his first post in this threat Egnor gets really close to a No True Scottsman fallacy about a person that he’s addressing!

  37. Sophie says:

    Mosben,
    Thanks for the clarification.

    Sarah,
    Yes the criterion of embarrassment is not applied to other scholarly historical pursuits. It’s an unscientific unprovable argument.

  38. Sophie says:

    Thanks to everyone for highlighting the idea that the criterion of embarrassment is about “the authors intent,” I win. Such an easy victory.

    Please prove the intent of the various authors of the mythologies previously mentioned. Oh you can’t?

    Please explain to me how the gospels, which were not authored by the big bold name preceding them, are somehow more authentic because they include details that would embarrass the author? Oh you can’t?

    We don’t know who the author was or their intentions. You can write arguments all day about it, but you can’t change the cold hard facts of a separation of 2000 years, a different culture, no direct proof of authorship, no archeological evidence etc.

    The criterion of embarrassment at the end of all this discussion is still based on conjecture. The criterion of embarrassment is just used in studying the early church.

    Something like the motivated reasoning + prescientific culture argument has much more explanatory power and is backed up by accounts from all other historical areas, and current experimental evidence. We know that people all over the world, through various time periods, were motivated to lie. We don’t know if the authors of the gospels were “embarrassed” by certain details. We don’t even know who they were.

  39. michaelegnor says:

    Steven:

    [I did not include the pious position because it is not relevant to my discussion, which is about history, not faith.]

    There are many pious historians (and theologians) whose knowledge of the historical aspects of the New Testament is profound. NT Wright (cf “Resurrection of the Son of God”) is an Anglican priest and theologian whose scholarship is of a very high order and who is quite pious.

    The historical questions about Jesus are tied up with the theological questions. If God exists, and if Jesus is the Second Person of the Trinity, then the historical claims of the New Testament are much more likely to be true than if Christian theology is wrong.

    You can’t separate theology from New Testament history, any more than you can separate philosophy from science. Truth is unitary, of a whole cloth, and deliberately ignoring related truth claims diminishes the quality of any historical investigation.

    It also leads to fallacious reasoning. By ignoring “the pious position”, you reason like this:

    1) Divine/miraculous claims of the gospels are not credible.
    2) People who believe Jesus is what he said he is are not to be consulted on historical matters.
    3) Only people who deny Jesus’ divinity/miracles are reliable historians.
    4) The credible (see #2) historians find no factual basis for divine/miraculous claims of the gospels.
    5) Divine/miraculous claims of the gospels are not credible.

    You reason in a circle.

  40. Sophie says:

    Egnor,

    See look everyone this is why we need to clearly explain the difference between the historical ‘Jesus’ and the mythological/religious Jesus. If you do not make this distinction very clear and obvious people like Egnor will jump on any evidence of Jesus and run with it.

  41. MosBen says:

    I also meant to thank Steve for doing another post to clarify his position, which I think will probably have the added benefit of keeping what has been an interesting discussion going. I think that the most important part of this new post is that with the scant evidence we have it’s ok, and probably even appropriate, to say that we simply don’t have enough evidence to conclude if Jesus presented in the Bible was a real, historical person. It’s certainly possible that he was, but the evidence in support of that theory is so thin that it should be hard to take that position with any significant degree of certainty. Something being more likely than not just means 51%+. Something as likely as the outcome of a coin flip isn’t something in which we should place a ton of confidence.

    Also, an issue on the historical expert consensus: Steve mentioned this in one of his comments on the last thread, but when evaluating a consensus among experts it is also important to look at the degree of certainty among the experts. 97% of experts agreeing that something is 51% likely to be true may influence us to conclude that something is more likely than not, but that’s a very low level of confidence. A small change in the evidence could theoretically cause all 97% of those experts to change their opinions.

    Given the low level of confidence in even basic biographical facts I think that it’s reasonable to say that we just don’t know.

  42. mumadadd says:

    Michael,

    “1) Divine/miraculous claims of the gospels are not credible.”

    That’s a pretty reasonable default assumption, surely? If we see no evidence of divinity or miracles now, why should we think they could occur in the dim and distant past. I, personally, would be more inclined to see past miracles as plausible in the face of present miracles.

    ” 2) People who believe Jesus is what he said he is are not to be consulted on historical matters.”

    You think having deeply invested personal ‘faith’ in the verity of historical claims doesn’t affect one’s ability to dispassionately investigate them?

  43. Sophie says:

    “Not knowing” is still a huge claim to make. Since how important this issue is to so many people. Showing that there isn’t enough evidence to claim that Jesus was a real person or that the Bible isn’t exactly legit is still a massive claim.

    The other side believes with 100% certainty that we are all wrong. That our evidence is trash because we are all atheists trying to destroy the church.

  44. RickK says:

    OMG, Sophie – nobody here is using the word proof other than you. And everybody except faithmeisters Egnor and MASSive have said they could go either way on this debate, and are just expressing which side they find more compelling. Nobody is saying the other side is flat out wrong, just which evidence seems more convincing.

    Of course we can’t prove the author’s intention. Where is these sentences did I use the word “proof”: “When scholars say “embarrassing” details in the scriptures, they mean details that are exactly contrary to the author’s apparent intent. The author of “Matthew” repeatedly tries to show how events in the life of Jesus confirm prophecies of the Jewish Messiah.”

    Of course the intent is apparent, not proven. But it is evidence, it is interesting, and as Steve said, it is valid. Please stop strawmannirg what we’re saying just so you can dismiss it.

  45. Sophie – to be fair to the embarrassment criterion, it is not about the author’s intent, but the intent of the tradition and community in which the author was writing. There is evidence that the early Christians were very uncomfortable with the whole crucifixion thing. They did not use a crucifix as a symbol of their faith for the first few centuries, until after crucifixion was banned as a form of execution.

    You don’t need to know the name of the author or read their mind to conclude this.

    I still agree this is a tenuous chain of inference. Not unreasonable, but the probabilities are getting thin. Every link in the chain adds a possibility of misinterpretation.

  46. Sophie says:

    Yes I’m using the word proof intentionally because we are skeptics and this is a scientific skepticism blog.

    Making historical arguments that cannot be proven or disproven is unscientific. I’m allowed to say that. Yes it’s a little bit of tautology because the field is called history not science. But it still matters. It’s possible that people like Bart Ehrman are part of the new wave of religious scholars and that arguments like the criterion of embarrassment are on their way out.

  47. MosBen says:

    Egnor, that’s not at all the line of reasoning that Steve is using. He’s saying that to prove historical facts, we need historical evidence. If God opened up the heavens and popped down in his resplendent glory to tell us, “Oh yeah, I’m an immortal deity, and everything in the Bible is literally true. Here’s some evidence to prove that I’m the God of the Bible, etc.”, then sure, we’d probably conclude that the history as portrayed in the Bible is real. But we don’t have that kind of objective evidence, so we have to rely on the historical record. Someone who is pious as well as an expert historian may have valuable pieces to add, but to be valuable to this inquiry those pieces need to be grounded in reliable historical records.

    Sophie, the point about the argument from embarrassment isn’t actually about something being embarrassing. It’s basically inconvenient facts, which would be a better way of phrasing it. The reasoning goes that if I was trying to start a religion based on some prophesies and was going to invent it whole cloth, I’d write my savior character as conforming perfectly to what should be expected based on the prophesies. If the prophesies said that the savior would come from Bethlehem, my character would be Bethlehemian. If I were trying to take a real life guy and sort of cram him into the existing prophesy, I might be faced with a situation where his real biographical info didn’t quite fit the prophesy, like he was from Nazareth, rather than Bethlehem. In that case I might concoct a fictional story about how his family was required to go to Bethlehem so he could be born there and technically fit into the prophesy. So even though I fudged things a bit, it was because I was basing it on a real guy, so future historians could reason from this sort of tortured plotting that there must have actually been a real guy at the root of it.

  48. Sophie says:

    Steve,

    Yes I mostly agree. But as was previously mentioned it’s hard to know if something like “Nazareth” is evidence of authenticity because it’s too embarrassing. Or because the author simply wanted to glue together a bunch of other stories that had that detail.

  49. MosBen says:

    The Oedipus example doesn’t work because the killing his father and marrying his mother is part of the point of his tragedy. It’s not an inconvenient fact that the story has to cram in to make the main character fit some religiously required data point, it’s just the nature of Greek tragedy.

  50. Michael – Of course the question of historicity has implications for the pious.
    I do not think that the faith of the pious has implications for the question of historicity when considered from a purely historical vantage. You can accept the historicity of Jesus without accepting any version of extant Christian faith.

    I also never made any chain of argument resembling anything like your contrived example of circular reasoning.

    It is quite possible, even probable, that biblical writings contain a mix of real history, real people, reliable facts, and distorted history and facts, fables, entirely fabricated elements, mythology, legend, and subjective religious interpretation.

    It is quite common in fiction, for example, for fictitious characters to interact with historical characters. The presence of the historical characters does not prove the fictitious characters were also real.

  51. michaelegnor says:

    @mum:

    [You think having deeply invested personal ‘faith’ in the verity of historical claims doesn’t affect one’s ability to dispassionately investigate them?]

    Does your view apply to atheists as well? Should atheists’ views on New Testament historicity be discarded because of atheists’ faith that Jesus was not God?

    [If we see no evidence of divinity or miracles now, why should we think they could occur in the dim and distant past. I, personally, would be more inclined to see past miracles as plausible in the face of present miracles.]

    The key to your assertion is “if we see no evidence of divinity or miracles now…”. To look for such evidence, you have to engage the pious–you need to know a lot about the experiences of serious Christians and about Christian mysticism and prayer. For example, there are more than 60 very well-documented medical miracles at Lourdes, investigated by secular medical experts, etc.

    Now you may (and obviously do) discount such miracles, but you do not do so because you have knowledge of the facts (you have no knowledge of them at all). You do so because you discount miracles a priori, and deny claims to them on that basis.

    You deny miracles because of your faith that miracles don’t happen.

  52. overlappingmagisteria says:

    Sophie… you continue to severely misunderstand the criterion of embarassment and your smugness about it only makes you look worse (perhaps.. embarrassing? 🙂 )

    Please prove the intent of the various authors of the mythologies previously mentioned. Oh you can’t?

    Although it is true that we cannot know every last intention of the author in detail, some intentions are pretty clear. For example, I have a feeling that the author of Matthew might have had the intention of presenting Jesus as the Messiah since he mentions it throughout the work repeatedly.

    Please explain to me how the gospels, which were not authored by the big bold name preceding them, are somehow more authentic because they include details that would embarrass the author? Oh you can’t?

    It’s not about being embarrassing the author personally, so we don’t have to know what the authors name was or his/her biography. We just need to know that the author, whoever it was, had some intentions that are made clear by reading the work (ie, Jesus is the Messiah, Jesus was divine.) If it goes against the point the author is trying to make, then that’s the criterion of embarrassment.

    And all it shows is that the “embarrassing” thing is unlikely to be invented by the author. If you’re trying to make a point, you typically don’t invent counter-evidence to your point. Therefore, if that detail is less likely to be invented then…. its more likely to be authentic.

  53. Sophie says:

    I guess I’m more concerned with any kind of argument for authenticity, that uses evidence of slight alterations and made up details. Seems very obvious to me why that is problematic.

    Also without more direct evidence it’s hard to conclude that something was embrassing to a particular author. We just don’t know, it could appear that way to us, but the source of all of this argumentation is questionable. Possibly forged.

  54. RickK says:

    Egnor said: “The historical questions about Jesus are tied up with the theological questions.”

    Baloney again. The existence of George Washington is not contingent upon his faith or his politics or that of his admirers.

    Can you name a relevant, respected work of history that assumes the Olympus gods were actual historical figures? At what point does your assumption of the truth of magical claims start and end? The Hindu gods, Mohammad, Joseph Smith, Apollonius of Tyana, Hogwarts…?

    Number (1) is wrong in your list – the starting assumption is divine/supernatural claims are not credible – in the Bible and out. Millions have been made, none have been proven. But if you think they are, then I know a local psychic here in CT that would love your business.

  55. MosBen says:

    Michael, when you say that you have faith in the supernatural elements of Christianity, people probably usually take you at face value. When an atheist tells you that they do not have faith in any deity, why do you insist on telling them that their lack of faith is faith? Can’t you just give people the same charity to define their own worldview that they’ve given you?

    And people doubt miracles because they are not convinced by the evidence that there was a magical intervention. The belief that miracles don’t happen is simply the result of there being no credible evidence that they do.

  56. Sophie says:

    All the arguments for the criterion of embarrassment are using evidence of dishonest behavior by these early authors, to demonstrate the authenticity of their work.

    If Jesus was born in Nazareth, (supposed true embrassing detail), and the authors made up the story about the journey to Bethlehem. Then they made up stuff.

    So now we are not arguing how legit the text is, but how made up and full of lies it is.

    Secondly, you need to remember that this was not the first story, there were other accounts, both written and oral histories. The gospels are based on those. By the logic of religious scholars would those earlier versions not also be vulnerable to the criterion of embrassment and slight alterations?

    So now we are talking about a text with deliberate alterations and made up details to cover up embrassing details. But this text is based on other reports that also have deliberate alterations.

  57. Sophie says:

    The story set in Bethlehem is a central part of modern Christianity. The three wise men, Jesus in the manger. Seems like a pretty huge detail to just casually set aside.

  58. chikoppi says:

    [michaelegnor] By ignoring “the pious position”, you reason like this:
    1) Divine/miraculous claims of the gospels are not credible.
    2) People who believe Jesus is what he said he is are not to be consulted on historical matters.
    3) Only people who deny Jesus’ divinity/miracles are reliable historians.
    4) The credible (see #2) historians find no factual basis for divine/miraculous claims of the gospels.
    5) Divine/miraculous claims of the gospels are not credible.
    You reason in a circle.

    Do you grant the same license when evaluating the claims of other faiths? Are reports of “miraculous” events any more or less credible in the historical record when offered to substantiate Islamic, Hindu, or Mormon traditions? I very much suspect in those cases you dismiss such claims by applying the sensible standard of “extraordinary claims requiring extraordinary evidence.”

  59. michaelegnor says:

    Steven:

    The best review of the historicity of the Resurrection that I know of is NT Wright’s “The Resurrection of the Son of God”. It is a massive rigorously detailed and argued tome, and Wright argues that by far the most reasonable historical conclusion to draw from the gospel accounts of the Resurrection is that it really happened. His argument centers around the fact that the Resurrection has many elements that were utterly not anticipated by Jews (or Greeks) of the era, and that if it were a myth or a fraud, it would have been fabricated to conform to one or more of the prevailing theological perspectives of the time.

    Wright’s book is highly regarded by scholars, and it is indispensible in any intelligent discussion of the historicity of New Testament miracles such as the Resurrection.

    By leaving out “pious” investigators, you deprive yourself of some of the best historical research and analysis.

    Why leave out anyone? And if you consider religious bias as disqualifying, why not disqualify atheists as well as Christians?

  60. RickK says:

    Sophie said: “Making historical arguments that cannot be proven or disproven is unscientific.”

    Really? You have a curious view of “science”.

    How often do scientists say “this is proven”?
    How often has one of Steve’s posts said “this proves my point”?

    And how often is the discussion about weighing the preponderance and quality of evidence?

    That’s all this debate is about – what evidence people find compelling. Though Steve and I don’t agree on the conclusion from our respective views and interpretations of the evidence, neither is dismissing the other’s argument. Neither of us is using the word “proof”. And neither of us is faith-bound to our position and unwilling to change if presented new evidence.

    The only unshakeable faith position in recent posts is Michael’s.

  61. michaelegnor says:

    @MosBen:

    [The belief that miracles don’t happen is simply the result of there being no credible evidence that they do.]

    Really? What did you find when you reviewed the medical records of the 69 people at Lourdes who have had medically documented miracles?

  62. mumadadd says:

    Michael,

    “Does your view apply to atheists as well? Should atheists’ views on New Testament historicity be discarded because of atheists’ faith that Jesus was not God?”

    No. Historians should apply historical standards of evidence to history; there is a different standard of evidence for miracle claims, for which historical standards simply don’t cut it.

    “Now you may (and obviously do) discount such miracles, but you do not do so because you have knowledge of the facts (you have no knowledge of them at all). You do so because you discount miracles a priori, and deny claims to them on that basis.”

    Please… Somehow, I think that news of actual verifiable miracles might penetrate beyond religious circles, and I’m yet to hear of any.

  63. MosBen says:

    Michael, you’re not understanding the standard being applied. Historical studies done by personally religious people may well be reliable if they are based on reliable evidence. The “pious” group being excluded doesn’t include every person of faith, but speaks to the approach they take to evaluating historical claims.

  64. Sophie says:

    Rickk,

    Just stop arguing with me. I’m on your side I support critical thinking and I’m an atheist.

    You keep making massive mistakes first of all actually I have the correct view of science notice how I said “disproven” and not “proven.” This is clearly a reference to the modern scientific method.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falsifiability

    The criterion of embarrassment is an example of an unfalsifiable argument. It’s not scientific by definition. It cannot be disproven. Science disproves things.

  65. trumpproctor says:

    Some people have brought up the question of why hasn’t it been question whether or not Jesus was a real person for all of the last 2000 years. I’ve been an atheist most of my life, and yet I never questioned whether or not Jesus was a real person, who at least loosely, the mythology was based upon. I never looked into the historical evidence for Jesus, I just assumed that there was a historical person that became clouded in legend and that’s where all the supernatural elements were added.

    It’s only been recently that I’ve heard debate about whether or not Jesus actually existed at all as a regular human being. Then I had to question why I believed that he was a real person, realizing that I haven’t seen any evidence that actually proves that he did exist. So that’s when I started looking into the debate and see that even some of the evidence that has been used to claim a historical Jesus is rather loosey goosey. I haven’t seen enough to sway me to being confident that there wasn’t a historical Jesus, but at least enough to realize it may be possible their wasn’t.

    But at Steve has pointed out several times, it’s really only an intellectual curiosity. Even if there became more and more evidence there wasn’t a historical Jesus, Christians will dismiss that evidence. What actually matters is people believing the myth/legend/supernatural aspects of Jesus. People today aren’t today trying to pass laws based upon Shakespeare, Washington, Plato, Arthur, or any other historical figure. If they were, then my skepticism about all claims surrounding the lives of those figures would increase exponentially.

  66. Sophie says:

    Michael Egnor,

    Do you honestly expect us to go and read a 700 page work of what appears to be Christian apologetics?

    It’s insane to me the names you drop as you Gish gallop around never looking back.

    Also can you do a little bit of self reflection and put yourself in the shoes of someone arguing for Islam? What if you were presented with the same type of arguments you use, but for Islam being the one true religion?

    How would you contest the religious arguments that are pro-Islam?

  67. michaelegnor says:

    The irony here is that of all of the commentors, I’m the one who maintains an open mind on miracles and supernatural claims, in the sense that I’m willing to consider that they might be real.

    Now some claims of miracles are undoubtedly not true, but I see no reason to insist that all are untrue.

    I believe that New Testament miracles because of my own experience with Christ, in my prayers and in my life.

    These threads on the historicity of miracles and Jesus provide a nice demonstration of who is dogmatic and who is willing to keep an open mind and consider the evidence.

  68. MosBen says:

    trumpproctor, I think that I probably went through a similar phase of realizing that I had been simply assuming a historical Jesus was real and then realizing that the evidence was thinner than I thought. I think that the commonly held belief that all myths have a basis in fact is doing a lot of work there. I’m not sure where this belief that myths are always based in fact comes from in general, but I know that a lot of the fiction that I absorbed as a kid used it as a plot point, so I probably just incorporated it passively.

  69. Sophie says:

    Michael Egnor,

    Okay so keep an open mind about Islam. Explain to me how the same type of arguments can’t be used to argue for Islam? There are many miracles in the Quran. The prophet is a war hero. Makes many prophecies and has many abilities. Many experts argue that the Quran is legit.

  70. mumadadd says:

    Michael,

    “The irony here is that of all of the commentors, I’m the one who maintains an open mind on miracles and supernatural claims, in the sense that I’m willing to consider that they might be real. ”

    Keeping an open mind doesn’t mean accepting claims in the face of overwhelming contradictory evidence.

    The standard of evidence it would take to convince me of miracles has got tighter and tighter as I’ve got older, precisely because of of all the well evidenced facts about the nature of reality that have flowed into my open mind.

    “These threads on the historicity of miracles and Jesus provide a nice demonstration of who is dogmatic and who is willing to keep an open mind and consider the evidence.”

    Yes they do, but in the total opposite direction to which you imply.

  71. michaelegnor says:

    @Sophie:

    [How would you contest the religious arguments that are pro-Islam?]

    I don’t deny that muslims may well have supernatural experiences. I would generally disagree with muslims on the nature and interpretation of those experiences, but I don’t deny the content and the supernatural nature of at least some experiences of muslims.

    As I have said, the atheist position that all claims of supernatural experiences are false is a very radical position, and not a position that is based on actual collection of data or investigation of facts.

    Atheism is a faith-based perspective, as radical as any religion.

  72. trumpproctor says:

    Sophie,

    Obviously he can’t. Every theist is an atheist towards every religion but their own. If ME really understood why he’s atheist towards every other religion, he would understand why we are towards his chosen religion.

    But I don’t know if any of his arguments he uses actually convince himself, because he has said his main evidence is personal revelation. Which is basically saying “I don’t care about your science or your peer reviewed double blinded studies.. I KNOW I’m right because I have a personal relationship with Jesus”.

    At which point you just have to realize you can’t reason someone out of a position they didn’t reason themselves into.

  73. MosBen says:

    The claim is not that they are false, but that they are likely to be false as there is no credible evidence supporting them.

  74. Sophie says:

    Michael Egnor,

    If you don’t deny that muslims have supernatural experiences doesn’t that put your religion on weaker footing? Because some of those muslims use those supernatural experience to argue that their path is the one true path.

    The Prophet’s experience in the cave is a supernatural experience that forms the basis of all of Islam. That vision he received is what kicked off the whole faith. If you don’t deny that the angels visitied him and told him the true path then I don’t understand. I guess you could argue that the Prophet misunderstood the angel telling him about Christianity. Lol.

    Your view of atheism is not factual it’s opinion. Many people like me would argue that atheism starts from an evidence based position and assumes nothing. Religion assumes everything on the basis of no evidence.

  75. trumpproctor says:

    ME,

    Atheism is NOT a faith-based perspective. I have no idea where you got that from. Atheism is simply the answer to ONE question. Do you believe in a God? If your answer is, I see no compelling evidence to believe in a God, then congratulations.. you’re an atheist.

    Do you believe in Santa Clause (Red suit, flying reindeer, and the whole nine yards)? You don’t? Then congratulations.. your atheistic towards Santa Clause. You’re not a “radical” because you don’t see compelling evidence for Santa Clause.

    Nothing more.

  76. bgoudie says:

    [Really? What did you find when you reviewed the medical records of the 69 people at Lourdes who have had medically documented miracles?]

    Really now?
    let me just direct you here
    http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/its-a-miracle/

  77. MosBen says:

    Man, I know that I contributed to it, but look how our lovely discussion of the historicity of Jesus got derailed into questions of faith so quickly by Egnor. Sorry for the role that I played, fellows. I hope we can get back on track.

  78. Pete A says:

    “[Sophie] Science disproves things.”

    LOL!

  79. trumpproctor says:

    I need to correct myself. The correct starting point for an atheist to answer the question of “Do you believe in God?” is “Which of the 47,000 Gods that humans have worshiped are you referring to?” THEN the answer would be “I see no compelling evidence to believe in any of them”. 🙂

  80. Sophie says:

    Pete A,
    Holy crap really? We have to talk about the nature of science and how it’s in the business of disproving claims. Check out Karl Popper, falsifiablity and hypothesis formation. I’m not gonna sit here and explain it all to you.

  81. michaelegnor says:

    trumpproctor:

    [Atheism is NOT a faith-based perspective. I have no idea where you got that from. Atheism is simply the answer to ONE question. Do you believe in a God? If your answer is, I see no compelling evidence to believe in a God, then congratulations.. you’re an atheist. ]

    So defensive… I think I hit a nerve. Of course atheism is a faith perspective, in the sense that it is belief in the truth of a proposition (“There is no God…”) based on incomplete evidence. That is the definition of faith when used in a religious context.

    We all have faith, because we all believe things based on incomplete evidence.

    Now maybe, in you atheism, you are right, or you are wrong. But like me and everyone else, you have faith.

    [Do you believe in Santa Clause (Red suit, flying reindeer, and the whole nine yards)? You don’t? Then congratulations.. your atheistic towards Santa Clause. You’re not a “radical” because you don’t see compelling evidence for Santa Clause.]

    I don’t believe in Santa Claus. The non-existence of Santa Claus has no bearing on the existence of God, which is a quite different proposition.

  82. mumadadd says:

    MosBen — “Man, I know that I contributed to it, but look how our lovely discussion of the historicity of Jesus got derailed into questions of faith so quickly by Egnor. Sorry for the role that I played, fellows. I hope we can get back on track.”

    Yep, me too. Sorry about that.

  83. michaelegnor says:

    [… our lovely discussion of the historicity of Jesus got derailed into questions of faith so quickly by Egnor.]

    You can’t separate the historicity of Jesus from theology. If Jesus is the Second Person of the Trinity, then much of the New Testament is likely true from a historical perspective. If Jesus is not divine, then much of the New Testament is likely not true historically.

    The theology (“faith”) is central to the historical question, and you lose traction on the historical question by denying the relevance of the theological arguments.

    It’s like trying to get an accurate historical understanding of Mozart, while denying the relevance of music to his story.

    You end up leaving the important stuff out.

  84. Pete A says:

    “[Sophie] We have to talk about the nature of science and how it’s in the business of disproving claims.”

    LOL!

  85. Sophie says:

    Michael Egnor,

    Keep on Gish galloping to the next weak argument. We can’t wait to see you cycle back around to the supernatural experiences in Islam.

    There is nothing impressive or unique about your arguments. All the arguments you make in defense of Christianity can used to defend Islam. Muslims can also say they have a deeply personal relationship with their god and that their relationship tells them that your faith is not the one true path to salvation.

    As an atheist I can say that god has not spoken to me. I have a deeply personal relationship with the world around me and god is no where to be seen. I don’t need to invoke his name to explain anything about the world around me.

    It’s like trying to get an accurate historical understanding of Mozart, while denying the relevance of music to his story.
    You end up leaving the important stuff out.

    We can actually give a very detailed historical account of Mozart without using sheets of music to argue that he must have existed. We have eye witness testimony, stories written by his contemporaries and adversaries. Etc.

    Music is certainly a big part of Mozart’s story. But the man can be separated and studied outside of just the sheets of music he produced.

    Jesus didn’t produce anything, there are no manuscripts, eye witness written testimony, nothing really except some stories written down decades later, based on other stories.

    It would be great if we could study Jesus without the Bible. If we had manuscripts he wrote himself, and archeological evidence.

  86. chikoppi says:

    [michaelegnor] The irony here is that of all of the commentors, I’m the one who maintains an open mind on miracles and supernatural claims, in the sense that I’m willing to consider that they might be real.

    Horsepucky. The difference is that you separate “miraculous” claims into a category that excuses them from the standard of evidence required for reports of unlikely events that do not invoke your preferred flavor of divine intervention. In other words, motivated confirmation bias.

    I don’t deny that muslims may well have supernatural experiences. I would generally disagree with muslims on the nature and interpretation of those experiences, but I don’t deny the content and the supernatural nature of at least some experiences of muslims.

    I believe that New Testament miracles because of my own experience with Christ, in my prayers and in my life.

    Great. So the evidence that your supernatural experiences are accurately attributed to truth is exactly the same as a devout Muslim who cites his “experience with Muhammad, in his prayers and in his life” to substantiate his belief. Yet, you assert that his belief is mistaken and he is a victim of motivated reasoning. That’s the problem with reliance on personal revelation. It can and does posit equal and mutually exclusive claims, which makes it universally unreliable no matter how seemingly and subjectively convincing.

  87. MosBen says:

    Sophie, I completely understand the instinct to engage with him, but I don’t think it’s worth our time to debate Egnor, at the very least on this subject. He would consider the Bible sufficiently factual as a historical narrative if there were no external reliable historical sources. Any historical sources supporting the stories in the Bible as actual historical events is just cake frosting to him, no matter how great or small the evidence actually is. Similarly, he’s open to the possibility of people of a variety of backgrounds having magical experiences, but will reject that these experience in any way impact the metaphysical and historical truth of the Bible and its characters, no matter the evidence presented.

    In the meanwhile he’ll continue posting credulous arguments about his personal experiences and snarking that we’re somehow bad skeptics for not taking that as sufficient evidence. He’s not interested in the same inquiry that we are, so trying to engage him in the way that you and I have engaged in this discussion won’t yield any positive results. I’m giving up responding to him, at least on this subject, and I would suggest that you do as well. But, of course, YMMV.

  88. trumpproctor says:

    ME,

    Again, wrong. Atheism is not the proposition that “there is no god”, That’s shifting the burden of proof. We’re not making a claim that no god exist, only that of all the god based claims presented, we see no compelling evidence to believe those claims. That’s it. It makes no other proposition. I can not prove to you that there is no god, You are the one making a claim that there is, I can only counter the evidence that you put forth. Just like you can not absolutely prove to me there are no unicorns. Congratulation, you are atheistic towards unicorns, which does not mean the same thing as you saying “I know there are no unicorns”, because if that is your position, I ask you how you would even begin to prove that absolutely.

  89. RickK says:

    It is interesting that Michael tries to use the Criterion of Embarrassment as evidence to support Jesus’s resurrection. However, that backfires.

    So imagine you’re the leader of a group of Jewish followers of Jesus, and you’re trying to convince them that he is the Messiah when, horror of horrors, he gets crucified. Your faith was wrong, your position with your followers is destroyed. You’re like Harold Camping when the world didn’t end on schedule. What to do? How do you make a crucified preacher back into a The Messiah and hang on to your faith and your following? You tell everyone he resurrected!

    So while the crucifixion indeed fits the CoE (from the point of view of a Jewish Messiah prophecy), the Resurrection is perfectly in line with messianic behavior and supports the mythicist argument.

  90. Sophie says:

    Mosben,
    I agree with you, as per usual.

    I would just say that it’s not really about us. It’s about the process. I learn something and I’m sure other people learn something too.

    If we just reframe all his pro-Christianity arguments as pro-Islam arguments not only will we piss him off. But we can show everyone how the logic is identical and problematic in both cases.

    A Christian who is on the fence will probably see the errors in the pro-Islam personal experience arguments, before they realize how it applies to Christianity.

  91. chikoppi says:

    [michaelegnor] So defensive… I think I hit a nerve. Of course atheism is a faith perspective, in the sense that it is belief in the truth of a proposition (“There is no God…”) based on incomplete evidence. That is the definition of faith when used in a religious context.

    There are a great many things you don’t believe are true. You don’t claim to “have faith” that anthropomorphic climate change isn’t real, you claim that the evidence is insufficient to warrant belief (and continually argue that evidence to justify your position).

    The fact that you repeatedly flog this epistemological strawman is evidence of the weakness of your position. Only by placing “religious belief” in a special category that excuses it from the standard of critical examination invoked for any other claim can you insulate your bias. It is a false equivalency.

  92. Darski says:

    It seems premature to decide whether or not “Jesus” actually existed without establishing what exactly we mean by “Jesus”, given that every 26th person in Judea at the time was named “Jesus”.

    Since 100 men a year were crucified in Judea at that time (a low estimate) and that Pilate governed for ten years, we can estimate that 3.84 Jesuses were executed every year X 10 years = 38.4 “Jesuses” crucified during Pilate’s governance.

  93. trumpproctor says:

    Sophie,

    We never really HAVE to debate Christians, just get a Christian, a Mormon, a follower of Islam, and a Hindu, a Buddhist and any other religious follower in the room together and sit back with a bucket of popcorn.

  94. MosBen says:

    Darski, that’s exactly my issue as well. If the reliable historical evidence the consensus is based on establishes that there was a person named Jesus who was probably baptized and executed in Judea in the 1st Century it still seems like a big leap to say that that person was the person on which the Bible stories were based. Maybe it was just some other guy.

  95. trumpproctor says:

    Hell, we don’t even get different religions together, just get any two Christians in a room together and have them debate gay marriage, abortion, what to do about refugees, transgender issues, if there is a hell, if the devil exists, how old is the earth, is evolution true, or any hot topic issue, and see how long before one of them says to the other “you’re not a ‘real’ Christian”.

  96. overlappingmagisteria says:

    Darski,

    I’d say that the minimum “Jesus” would have to meet the following criteria:

    1. Was crucified or otherwise executed
    2. Was believed to be resurrected
    3. Was the basis of a religious movement that eventually became Christianity

    3 is probably the crucial one

  97. Michael – I never said I left out pious investigators. I said I did not consider the faith-based claims, only claims about historicity. I limited this discussion to the existence of Jesus just to keep my discussion at blog length.

  98. Sophie says:

    I asked him about transgender issues in another thread and he didn’t comment. It would be interesting to know what he believes about that and how these issues, along with anything a few hundred kilometers away from where the authors lived, were not discussed in the Bible.

  99. overlappingmagisteria says:

    [MosBen] If the reliable historical evidence the consensus is based on establishes that there was a person named Jesus who was probably baptized and executed in Judea in the 1st Century it still seems like a big leap to say that that person was the person on which the Bible stories were based. Maybe it was just some other guy.

    Can you clarify? The scenario you propose is one where the Bible stories are based on OtherGuy … who also is baptized, crucified and (I assume) believed to be resurrected. Sounds like that scenario is one where the Bible got the main points right, except maybe got his name wrong. That sounds close enough to me to say that “Jesus” existed, though we got his name wrong somehow.

    Or… are you saying that OtherGuy did none of those things, but the Bible wrote a story about him, but for some reason attributed baptism, crucifixion, etc onto him which coincidentally were things that a guy named Jesus happened to do.

    Clarify?

  100. michaelegnor says:

    Steven:

    [I never said I left out pious investigators. I said I did not consider the faith-based claims, only claims about historicity.]

    I understand. But I think that the project of separating the theological issues from the historical issues is doomed to failure, because getting the theology right is critical to getting the history right.

    If Jesus is God, then it is quite likely that He performed miracles, was resurrected, ascended to heaven, etc.– i.e., it is quite likely that the gospels are historically true.

    If Jesus is not God, then it is quite unlikely that he performed miracles, was resurrected, ascended to heaven, etc.– i.e., it is quite unlikely that the gospels are historically true.

    In fact, the single most relevant criterion of historical validity of the gospels is: was Jesus God or not?

    Everything hinges on that question. The rest–all of the conventional historiography–is of minor importance compared to the theological question.

    The modernist project of subjecting the New Testament to conventional historiographic study–so called Higher Criticism– is deeply flawed on that point. You can’t separate the theology from the history and still say particularly meaningful things about the history.

    If He is God, the New Testament is good history (probably).

    If he is not God, the New Testament is bunk.

    The theology is the heart of the matter.

  101. michaelegnor says:

    Trumpproctor:

    [Atheism is not the proposition that “there is no god”]

    And you wonder why people don’t take New Atheists seriously…

    Face it, “God exists” and “God doesn’t exist” are both proposition, which are truth claims.

    Both are subject to logic, evidence, confirmation, and refutation. Atheists get no special treatment.

    Since God is not an object in nature, it is pointless to assert that “there is no evidence for God” in the sense of scientific evidence.

    The philosophical and metaphysical and historical and experiential arguments for God’s existence are very strong, and you can’t be taken seriously if you refuse to engage them.

  102. Herodotus says:

    Earlier you responded to 1 of my questions by saying “Paul also said he had visions of Jesus and performed miracles of his own. How reliable do you think that testimony is? It is very common with modern myths for people to claim a personal connection to some element of the story in order to increase their cred. Again – who knows how that story evolved.” I’d like to unpack this. I don’t quite understand what you mean when you ask how reliable do I think that testimony is. I don’t see any reason to disbelieve that he had visions of some sort. I just don’t think they were miraculous, but it is understandable that Paul would have. Even today people have visions of the divine, but I doubt I have anything to tell you about that. Just because Paul presumably got the source of his ‘divine’ experiences wrong it doesn’t me we can’t trust his claims to have met certain people. As for Paul lying to enhance his apostle cred. I think most historians would say that is an very unlikely explanation for detailed reasons I won’t elaborate. But lets not forget, Paul isn’t the only person to talk about one of these crucial people. Josephus talks about James at length, and even tells us when he died, 62 CE. This is only 31/32 years before Josephus wrote the antiquities of the Jews. And he didn’t write as a foetus: He would have been 25 years old and in the right place in 62 CE. This is an extremely reliable reference point. One backed up by Matthew and Mark which both mention James, and to a lesser extent John, which mentions Jesus’ brothers but not by name. You asked “who knows how that story evolved.” Because Paul and Josephus are so close to the events at hand there is limited room for the story to have evolved. How could both authors have developed two independent stories with exactly the same character in exactly the same place at approximately the same time with the same occupation and the same relation to the same person? It seems overwhelmingly more likely to me that these authors were all independently drawing upon the same core of historical fact: Jesus’ family and apostles were known to all in Jerusalem.

    You also asked “Would you object to invoking principles of the fallibility of memory, the power of myth and storytelling, how motivated individuals can come to belief fantastical stories that are not true, etc.?” I don’t object to invoking those things, in fact I think it’s crucial to do so. But those frailties of the human mind ought to be recognised and used to inform how we look at primary sources, not used as primary sources themselves. By that I mean we have to look at what the sources say in light of this information, but we can’t just dismiss everything that’s said as unreliable. Sure, people say things that are untrue, but they also say things that ARE true. When there are few or low quality sources to hand we have to come to the conclusion we can’t know. But in the case of early Christianity the sources are fairly abundant, some are very high quality and they can be compared and contrasted with one another to reveal those things that people said which were true. As for the methodological problems you mentioned, I basically agree. Although I will say that just because none of the methodological approaches is flawless per se, that does not mean their value does not increase when used together. If something is embarrassing that is good. If something is attested early that’s also good. If something is both embarrassing and multiply attested that is even better. The more pointers too authenticity exist the more likely it is to be true. The importance of the individual flaws can be minimised in this way. In the case of Jesus’ existence we have events like the baptism, crucifixion and existence of his relatives. All of which satisfy multiple criteria of authenticity.

    Can I ask what you think it would take to prove Jesus’ existence with sufficient certainty that you would be happy to agree with my view that it is by far and away the most likely explanation, with a very tiny (albeit extant) chance of being wrong?

  103. michaelegnor says:

    Sophie:

    [All the arguments you make in defense of Christianity can used to defend Islam. Muslims can also say they have a deeply personal relationship with their god and that their relationship tells them that your faith is not the one true path to salvation.]

    Why does the fact that there are differences of opinion on the nature of God surprise you? Different people and different religions and different cultures understand many things differently, and the understanding of God is no exception.

    In fact, both Islamic and Christian theology recognize this, and each attributes some part of the truth to the other.

    I happen to believe, based on myriad considerations, that the Christian understanding of God (the Trinity, the Incarnation, etc) is closer to the truth than the Islamic understanding of God.

    Why do differences of opinion, in your view, count against any truth on the topic? Are you claiming that, in the absence of unanimity, nothing is true?

  104. MosBen says:

    overlappingmagisteria, thinking about Steve’s current post, I’m not sure that my argument really applies. I was operating under the belief that there existed non-religious sources which confirmed that a guy name Jesus was alive and was executed in around the 1st Century, and that then these sources were being connected to the writings of early Christians who also talked about this person named Jesus and concluded that, at least probably, there was this man named Jesus who was the basis for early Christian texts and really lived and died. But now I think that what was meant was that these non-religious historical sources refer to the Jewish leader who was the basis for Christianity, that is, specifically referring to the Biblical Jesus as a historical person, rather than just talking about a guy named Jesus who WE are then connecting to the Biblical Jesus. I hope that that’s clear.

    Still, while I’m not really convinced of my own line of argument anymore, I do agree with Steve’s general points that the evidence is very thin, and the confidence levels are low. So while historical Jesus is possibly fact, the real answer is that we don’t have enough reliable evidence to hold that position with a reasonable level of confidence.

  105. overlappingmagisteria says:

    Thanks MosBen! Your clarification makes sense

  106. michaelegnor says:

    Sophie:

    [If we just reframe all his pro-Christianity arguments as pro-Islam arguments not only will we piss him off. But we can show everyone how the logic is identical and problematic in both cases.]

    The logic of Christianity and Islam is not “identical”. They are different faiths and entail very different understanding of God.

    The fundamental difference is the Christian understanding of the Trinity and the Incarnation, as well as the Christian emphasis on Divine Intellect. Islam denies the Trinity and the Incarnation, and emphasizes the Divine Will.

    In many ways, the Islamic view of God resembles the Arian theology of the eastern Roman empire in the 7th and 8th centuries. Arians were Christian heretics who denied the divinity of Christ, and saw Him as a created (although very noble) being. There is a school of thought (to which I subscribe) that sees Islam as an arabic version of the Arian heresy, which was in fact quite widespread during Mohammed’s time.

    There are real differences, as well as real similarities, between Christianity and Islam.

  107. The irony here is that of all of the commenters, I’m the one who maintains an open mind on bigfoot, alien Abduction, El Chupacabra, etc. claims, in the sense that I’m willing to consider that they might be real.

    Now some claims of bigfoot, alien Abduction, El Chupacabra, etc. are undoubtedly not true, but I see no reason to insist that all are untrue.

    I believe in bigfoot, alien Abduction, El Chupacabra, etc. because of my own experience with bigfoot, alien Abduction, El Chupacabra, etc. in my life.

    These threads on the historicity of bigfoot, alien Abduction, El Chupacabra, etc provide a nice demonstration of who is dogmatic and who is willing to keep an open mind and consider the evidence.”

  108. Sophie says:

    Michael Egnor,

    The point of the pro-Islam arguments was to show that your whole technique is based on weak logic.

    You don’t understand that according to many of the worlds faithful there can only be one true path. You have previously argued for the exceptionalism of Christianity I don’t see how this recent commentary or yours is consistent.

    If you hold that deeply personal relationships with god are a legit argument for Christianity then they also apply to Islam.

    Since Islam hold many ideas that directly contradict Christian beliefs we have a conflict. Either their supernatural experiences are legit or yours are. If yours are more legit then you need to explain how theirs are hallucinations or inaccurate.

    As was previously mentioned it not just an interpretation issue. You can’t seriously argue that the Prophet misunderstood the supernatural visions he received in the cave. It’s just a very weak argument.

    It would be so much easier to just drop the whole supernatural experiences and personal relationships with god arguments. And just come out and say that the Prophet did not talk to god. But if you do that then you just took down a supernatural experience. And you can’t do that as a religious person because it exposes the weaknesses in your faith and challenges the authenticity of biblical miracles and things.

  109. When I say that I don’t believe that Bruce Willis owns a pair of red flip flops, I’m not saying I believe he doesn’t own such a pair.

  110. trumpproctor says:

    ME,

    Obviously you don’t understand shifting the burden of proof. You are making a god claim, it is up to you to prove it. I am not making a claim that there is no god, only that any religion to date has not me the burden of proof for me to find their claims compelling in the least.

    I have high confidence that Unicorns don’t exist, but I’m not going to make an absolute claim to knowledge that they don’t exist, because I can not prove absolutly that unicorns don’t exist. I see no compelling evidence for them, so I will conduct my life as if they don’t exist until I see new evidence that they do. Atheist don’t claim (other than for brevity) that God does not exist. You keep stating so just shows you don’t understand the one basic claim of Atheism.

    But that’s beside the point.. we’re just arguing definitions.

    ME:”Since God is not an object in nature, it is pointless to assert that “there is no evidence for God” in the sense of scientific evidence.”

    If God does not manifest in any detectable way in nature, even to perform miracles or answer prayers, then what is the difference between a God that doesn’t manifest in nature in any way and one that doesn’t exist?

  111. MASSive says:

    Steven,

    While I do still think that you don’t fully represent the “Mainstream” side of the argument, I do appreciate you working to present a more impartial view of the issue. Thanks.

  112. michaelegnor says:

    Sophie:

    [The point of the pro-Islam arguments was to show that your whole technique is based on weak logic.]

    Your arguments failed.

    [You don’t understand that according to many of the worlds faithful there can only be one true path.]

    Most faiths, including Christianity and Islam, recognize that there are different degrees of truth in different faiths. Muslims call Christians and Jews “People of the Book” and acknowledge some truth in those faiths. Catholicism acknowledges some truth in Judiasm, Islam, and Protestantism, as well as some error. It also acknowledges some error in Catholicism–the Church is imperfect in some respects.

    [You have previously argued for the exceptionalism of Christianity I don’t see how this recent commentary or yours is consistent.]

    I don’t know what you mean.

    [If you hold that deeply personal relationships with god are a legit argument for Christianity then they also apply to Islam.]

    Christians and muslims can have transcendent experiences. The experiences differ in their veracity. What’s you problem with that simple concept?

    [Since Islam hold many ideas that directly contradict Christian beliefs we have a conflict.]

    Yes. So?

    [Either their supernatural experiences are legit or yours are. If yours are more legit then you need to explain how theirs are hallucinations or inaccurate.]

    Christian understanding of transcendent experiences are closer to the truth than muslim understanding of their experiences, IMHO. Muslims feel the opposite. What’s your point?

    [As was previously mentioned it not just an interpretation issue. You can’t seriously argue that the Prophet misunderstood the supernatural visions he received in the cave. It’s just a very weak argument.]

    I do think he misunderstood, and I think he might have had demonic experiences.

    [It would be so much easier to just drop the whole supernatural experiences and personal relationships with god arguments.]

    Why is atheism the default? It’s the most stupid of all metaphysical perspectives. Atheism is like a do-it-yourself lobotomy.

    [And just come out and say that the Prophet did not talk to god.]

    I don’t know if he talked to God. Perhaps he did, and he misunderstood God. Perhaps he talked to a demon posing as God. Perhaps he was nuts. Perhaps he lied. I don’t know.

    [But if you do that then you just took down a supernatural experience.]

    So?

    [And you can’t do that as a religious person because it exposes the weaknesses in your faith and challenges the authenticity of biblical miracles and things.]

    How does proposing that Mohommed was mistaken mean that Jesus was not God? You’ve got to help me on your “logic” there.

  113. “So defensive… I think I hit a nerve.”

    Relevance?

    “Of course atheism is a faith perspective, in the sense that it is belief in the truth of a proposition (“There is no God…”) based on incomplete evidence. That is the definition of faith when used in a religious context.”

    Setting aside that your definition of atheism is incorrect, let’s talk about the Hard Atheist position that there is no god.

    It is not faith a based position if it is based on a reasoned consideration of the available evidence and provisional, subject to change based of newer, better, or fuller information.

  114. michaelegnor says:

    “… based on a reasoned consideration of the available evidence and provisional, subject to change based of newer, better, or fuller information.”

    A fine definition of faith. Mine and yours.

  115. bachfiend says:

    Michael,

    I’d predicted in the last thread that you’d eventually cite NT Wright as an authority. I’m somewhat surprised that it took you so long. I’ve looked at Wright. I’m not convinced by his scholarship.

    You’ve claimed the so-called miracle cures at Loudres as being evidence that miracles could have occurred in first century Palestine on the basis that there’s no medical explanation for them. I’d previously noted that the latest 69th so-called miracle was a woman with a phaechromocytoma (a tumour of the sympathetic nervous system causing paroxysmal high blood pressure). It’s a well known medical phenomenon that phaeochromocytomas can undergo avascular necrosis and disappear without the person visiting Loudres or praying. So there is a perfectly valid medical explanation.

    Medical ‘miracles’ can be explained by spontaneous regressions of tumours or misdiagnosis (as in the case of Pope John Paul II’s second miracle when an aneurysm all dilation of a cerebral artery due to migraine was misdiagnosed as a fusiform aneurysm).

  116. trumpproctor says:

    ME: “Why is atheism the default? It’s the most stupid of all metaphysical perspectives. Atheism is like a do-it-yourself lobotomy.”

    You do realize that YOU are atheistic to the 64,000 other gods that have been worshiped over all of human history, do you not? Everything you say about Atheism just shows you aren’t grasping the simple concept that it’s just the answer to one question.. do you believe in “X” God?

  117. chikoppi says:

    [michaelegnor] If He is God, the New Testament is good history (probably).

    If he is not God, the New Testament is bunk.

    The theology is the heart of the matter.

    So if the mythology and dogma is subjectively appealing the actual facts don’t matter. Or in other words, presuppositionalism. If one assumes the premise is true then the historical evidence is not important and the lack thereof is merely an inconvenience to be excused or overlooked.

    So what test must the theology be subjected to to determine its veracity? One can’t use the bible, as its reliability can’t be established until the theological position has been substantiated. Personal revelation is insufficient, for reasons explained above. There is no other mode of objective examination.

    This is a self-defeating proposition.

  118. trumpproctor says:

    ME: “Christians and muslims can have transcendent experiences. The experiences differ in their veracity. What’s you problem with that simple concept?”

    And so do Mormons, Jews, Hindus and so forth. These personal antidotes are not evidence, and even if you take them as such, the point is that they lead people to contradictory world views, thus are in no way a path to truth. What’s your problem with that simple concept?

  119. michaelegnor says:

    [You do realize that YOU are atheistic to the 64,000 other gods that have been worshiped over all of human history, do you not? Everything you say about Atheism just shows you aren’t grasping the simple concept that it’s just the answer to one question.. do you believe in “X” God?]

    Atheism means “no belief in god(s)”

    I believe in God, as understood by the Catholic Church.

    Therefore, I’m not an atheist.

    I do disbelieve in Zeus, etc. but that doesn’t make me an atheist, because I do believe in God of a specific sort. I just don’t believe in gods understood as Zeus, etc.

    Your argument is the same as asserting that because a physicist only believed in the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics, but not in the Many Worlds Hypotesis or Bohm’s interpretation, that he doesn’t believe in quantum mechanics.

    There is a spectrum of possible belief regarding God or gods. I believe in God (as understood by the Catholic Church) and I don’t believe in other understanding of gods.

    That doesn’t make me an atheist. It just makes me a Catholic theist.

    I must say that your “atheist” argument, which you borrowed from Dawkins, is one of the stupidest arguments ever uttered, even by an atheist.

  120. trumpproctor says:

    ME: “… based on a reasoned consideration of the available evidence and provisional, subject to change based of newer, better, or fuller information.”
    A fine definition of faith. Mine and yours.”

    I doubt it. It’s shifting the burden of proof, but what possible “new evidence” could ever be put forth to change your position on the Jesus/God claim? If you can think of no evidence that would change your position, then your position is intellectually dishonest.

  121. Sophie says:

    Michael Egnor,

    You’ve used this tactic before where you just quote people and then write “So?” It’s like this cycling of Gish galloping techniques.

    My objective is not to convince you. It’s been demonstrated that you don’t really care to have a real conversation. It’s just interesting and useful to show others what’s going on here.

    If Islam has some real supernatural experiences then don’t those have something to say about the authenticity of Islam? What you are refusing to see here is that if you concede this point to Islam then Christianity loses ground.

    Even mild proponents of Islam argue that it is the one true path. Either you pray to Allah and follow the path outlined by the Prophet. Or you get baptized and follow the path of Jesus. Either their heaven exists or yours does. (Or you could both be wrong)

    Unless you are arguing that there are multiple truths and degrees of truth to these different religions. And multiple heavens, or you guys all go to the same place after death and laugh about how you thought it was Christianity but they thought it was Islam, and you took different paths just to end up together in heaven.

    But you’ve previously argued that Christianity is truly exceptional and the truest of them all. You’ve even argued that medicine is due to Christianity. It seems really unbelievable to me that you now think Islam is okay.

  122. Pete A says:

    “[Karl Withakay] The irony here is that of all of the commenters, I’m the one who maintains an open mind on bigfoot, alien Abduction, El Chupacabra, etc. claims, in the sense that I’m willing to consider that they might be real.” [my emphasis].

    Are you certain that you are the only one?

  123. michaelegnor says:

    trumpproctor:

    [These personal antidotes [sic] are not evidence]

    Goodness gracious, what a stupid argument.

    Of course personal anecdotes are evidence. Personal experiences are powerful evidence–it is the evidence most important in our daily lives. We don’t do scientific research on 99% of the things we do and believe. (“I love you, my son, but I can’t be sure until I check the p-value on my most recent parental love experiment…”)

    Personal experience counts.

  124. trumpproctor says:

    ME,

    You have a basic misunderstanding to the definition of Atheist as most atheist use the term. But it doesn’t matter because it has no bearing on the rest of the discussion at hand.

  125. michaelegnor says:

    Sophie:

    [Unless you are arguing that there are multiple truths and degrees of truth to these different religions. And multiple heavens, or you guys all go to the same place after death and laugh about how you thought it was Christianity but they thought it was Islam, and you took different paths just to end up together in heaven.]

    You seem to be stuck on a very bizarre inference– that if there is a difference of opinion, then none of the opinions can be true.

    What a bizarre way to think.

  126. michaelegnor says:

    trumpp:

    [You have a basic misunderstanding to the definition of Atheist as most atheist use the term. But it doesn’t matter because it has no bearing on the rest of the discussion at hand.]

    Atheism means “no belief in god(s)”

    Why are you atheists so obsessed by definitions of atheism.

    You don’t believe in god(s).

    That’s a proposition–a claim that something (there are no god(s)) is true.

    Truth claims are not exempt from the need for evidence.

    It seems to me that your whole point is that you don’t want to be asked to present evidence to support your atheist viewpoint.

    If I were an atheist, I wouldn’t want to have to defend it either.

  127. yrdbrd says:

    Since we are privileged to have two eminently qualified medical doctors in our discussion, there’s something I always wondered about.

    Dr. E: does one need immaculate gametes to create an immaculate zygote?

    Dr. N: same question.

    Thanks!

  128. trumpproctor says:

    ME: “Of course personal anecdotes are evidence. Personal experiences are powerful evidence–it is the evidence most important in our daily lives. We don’t do scientific research on 99% of the things we do and believe. (“I love you, my son, but I can’t be sure until I check the p-value on my most recent parental love experiment…”)”

    No, now that is the stupidest thing I have ever heard. I can go right now, and inside of 10 minutes find “personal anecdotes/expereince” to “prove” almost anything.

    I could find personal anecdotes that:

    A certain brand of toothpaste cures cancer.

    Or that a certain herbal tea cures cancer.

    Or that magnetic bands cure just about anything.

    Or that “sonic treatments”, or crystals, or just positive thinking, or rhino horns cure just about anything.

    Or that someone was abducted by aliens.

    Or that vaccines caused my child’s autism.

    Or that ESP is real.

    Or ghosts are real.

    Or trans dimensional demons/aliens are real.

    Or billions of people believing contradictory gods/religions are real.

    If you don’t understand that personal anecdotes are the absolute worst forms of evidence (almost worthless when making extraordinary claims) then it shows you do not understand cognitive bias, regression to the mean, correlation doesn’t equal causation, and a whole host of things too long to mention.

    Good grief.

  129. Sophie says:

    Michael Egnor,

    “Personal experience counts.” + other BS

    You are a doctor right? You must have heard of schizophrenia? It’s a mental disorder where some patients hear voices and see things. Some of them claim to have authentic experiences with god. Should we trust their encounters with god? What about something like that book “heaven is for real” where the kid journeys to heaven and chills with god for a bit? Is that legit?

    What about a story about a supernatural event from thousands of years ago? Like the epic of Gilgamesh? What about an eye witness that identifies a perpetrator from a lineup?

    What about the stories of supernatural personal experiences of any of the current cults? Like Scientology?

    Where do we draw the line between authentic personal experiences and fabricated ones?

    – – –

    “You seem to be stuck on a very bizarre inference– that if there is a difference of opinion, then none of the opinions can be true.”

    Yes, if one opinion is that Islam is the true path, and the other is that Christianity is the true path, then only one can be true or they are both false. You can’t just claim it’s a small difference of opinion of most of the world’s faithful. It’s not. The elements of their religions contradict each other.

  130. chikoppi says:

    [michaelegnor] Truth claims are not exempt from the need for evidence.

    No.

    Truth claims are not exempt from the need for sufficient evidence.

    Lacking sufficient evidence it is not reasonable to accept that a claim is true. Rejecting a specific claim for insufficient evidence is not equivalent to making a claim.

    Atheists do not find suffient evidence to accept any of the claims about any of the proposed religions or deities.

  131. michaelegnor says:

    chi:

    [Atheists do not find suffient evidence to accept any of the claims about any of the proposed religions or deities.]

    Have you investigated miracles? Have you investigated religious experiences? Are you conversant with proofs of God’s existence (eg Aquinas’ 5 ways)?

    Do you ‘not find evidence’ because you don’t look for it?

  132. trumpproctor says:

    ME,

    And being in the medical field, it blows my mind, that don’t you understand that the lowest quality medical studies are the ones where the results are self-reported and where they ask a loosy-goosy question like “How do you feel?”

    These are personal antidote/experience results that any doctor (that any critically thinking person) should take with a grain of salt. If you think a study like that is as as valid as any other, then I really feel sorry for your patients.

  133. RickK says:

    trumpproctor – Sorry to be pedantic, but I think you’re using “antidote” when you mean “anecdote”.

  134. Sophie says:

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus_in_Islam#In_Islamic_thought

    In Islam Jesus is known as a prophet. But Not held in any special divine status, he is seen as a moral and not a son of god or an aspect of god. He is referred to as a Muslim. They also deny that he died on a cross, and claim he was instead raised directly to heaven while alive.

    In Christianity… it’s in the title, Jesus is Christ, the special one. Son of god. You know the rest I’m sure.

    These two views of who Jesus was are in direct contradiction. It’s not a small difference of opinion. The Prophet Mohammed received a vision in a cave telling him these things that formed the basis of Islam, the Quran itself is thought to be a miracle too.

    Since you hold that Islam has authentic supernatural experiences too, then I guess Jesus isn’t as important as we thought he was?

  135. Kobayashi says:

    One of the arguments presented by the op against the myth view is that it contains historical elements not contained in previous myths.

    My understanding of at least one Mythicist position is that there was a common process at the time of historicizing mythical figures. That is placing mythical figures in the real world. Would this position not explain non mythical elements in the Jesus story?

  136. trumpproctor says:

    RickK – You are correct good sir!

  137. chikoppi says:

    [michaelegnor] Have you investigated miracles? Have you investigated religious experiences? Are you conversant with proofs of God’s existence (eg Aquinas’ 5 ways)?
    Do you ‘not find evidence’ because you don’t look for it?

    Raised staunchly Catholic and studied undergrad theology and philosophy with the Jesuits. It was examination of the evidence that led to a rejection of the proposition.

  138. RickK says:

    “Have you investigated miracles? Have you investigated religious experiences? Are you conversant with proofs of God’s existence (eg Aquinas’ 5 ways)?”

    Yes.

    And the leap you take to get from “the universe had a beginning” or “my cancer went into remission” or “Christ appeared in my soup” or “I experienced transcendence while on I-95” to “Jesus was God” is a leap of pure faith, nothing more.

    Remove the starting assumption of a divinity, and all those different events and experiences are separate and can be investigated independently.

    Just as with the historicity of Jesus. You try to tangle it up with theology as if belief in God makes Jesus real. We’ve already agreed that the Mormon faith is real regardless of the actual physical existence of the Golden Plates. Christianity can exist without a physical Jesus. And the question of whether there actually was a Jewish prophet named Jesus who was baptized and crucified is a perfectly reasonable question that can be addressed independently from any of the furor generated in his name.

  139. RickK says:

    Chikoppi said: “Atheists do not find suffient evidence to accept any of the claims about any of the proposed religions or deities.”

    It would be intellectually dishonest to accept one branch of religious faith as truth without accepting all of them as true because they’re all based on the same level evidence.

    Yes, faith is a powerful motivator for humanity. No, faith doesn’t make gods real nor does it actually require them. And faith can’t decide the historicity of Jesus any more than it can decide the historicity of Barack Obama.

  140. bachfiend says:

    Michael,

    You’re still engaging in your version of the Gish Gallop – the Egnor Evasion. You persistently claim that there’s no medical explanation for so-called medical miracles. I’ve noted many times that there are – spontaneous remissions and misdiagnoses, which are well recognised. Such as the 69th so-called miracle at Loudres (spontaneous avascular necrosis of phaeochromocytomas is well recognised). Or misdiagnosis of aneurysmal dilatation of a cerebral artery as a fusiform aneurysm.

    My prediction is that sometime you’ll bring up your claim yet again that there’s no medical explanation for medical ‘miracles’ as if your claim hasn’t already been refuted many times.

    Atheists don’t ‘believe’ that there are no gods – that it’s a faith claim. Atheists just think that there’s no need for the existence of gods and that there’s no evidence for the existence of gods. Evolution and modern cosmology make the need for gods unnecessary.

    Humans live in a Universe that plausibly – highly plausibly – could have arisen by natural means. If your God had created the Universe, then it could have been any Universe, including one just consisting of the solar system and the few thousands of stars visible to the naked eye, which would have been difficult to explain by natural means and evidence for the existence of God. But it isn’t.

    I think that the best explanation for Christianity is that it started out as one of the many mystery religions present in the Ancient World. Mystery religions were a sort of pyramid scheme in which initiates were progressively introduced into the deeper meanings of the religion as they progressed. Jesus was a saviour figure in a higher level of the cosmos above the Earth who died in the higher realm and then was resurrected again in the higher realm.

    And then the initiates got it wrong and historicised Jesus, putting him on Earth. And the rest is history.

    I think the strongest argument against Christianity is Chris Hitchens’. Homo sapiens has been around for 200,000 years and God does nothing until 2,000 years ago when He decides to sacrifice Himself to Himself in order for Himself to forgive humans for Original Sin (which didn’t actually happen) in a very tiny corner of the world. And the message promptly becomes distorted with many different sects developing.

    It might be plausible if the Earth was less than 10,000 years old. But it isn’t.

  141. MosBen says:

    “No belief in gods.” and “Belief that no gods exist.” are not the same thing.

  142. Sophie says:

    This is what they do though. They simplify complex things into easy black and white comparisons. We point out the difference between types of evidence. They claim we are also just blindly believing in something. That science is a belief system. That atheism is just another religion.

  143. Sarah says:

    I admit, I really don’t see the problem with what Sophie is saying. I’ve never heard this so-called criterion used for any other historical figure. I’d be immensely skeptical if it were.

    If it could be proven tobe reliable at all, sure, I’ll take it, but Sophie isn’t wrong for pointing out that it isn’t scientific. Some people here just don’t seem inclined to give her a chance.

  144. Sarah says:

    Wow, Pete. Add something to the discussion.

    I dunno what your personal issue is with Sophie, but this is ridiculous. You didn’t even answer her comment.

  145. Willy says:

    Godammit, Dr. Egnor: Atheism does NOT require ANY faith. It is simply a lack of belief in a deity. To use a cliche, I am an atheist with respect to precisely one more god than are you. I am open to the possibility of a creator as I imagine many herein are. I have yet to see any evidence that one exists, particularly the petty little tyrants imagined by the Abrahamic religions.

  146. michaelegnor says:

    [Godammit, Dr. Egnor: Atheism does NOT require ANY faith. It is simply a lack of belief in a deity.]

    Faith is belief based on incomplete evidence. It is indispensable to ordinary life and to any real knowledge, because our evidence is nearly always incomplete.

    Atheists have faith, Christians have faith.

    We differ regarding our opinions about the evidence.

    You can’t live without faith, atheist, Christian, or otherwise.

  147. Sophie says:

    Egnor,

    When you widen the meaning of words this much they become useless.

    http://www.dictionary.com/browse/faith

    Clearly when we talk about the Christian faith we are using faith in a pretty specific way. So specific and well known, that it has its own definition!

    When you claim that atheists also have faith it’s just a foot in the door strategy to then say it’s a religion and the same as what you do. Actually it’s not, there are giant philosophical differences between atheism and Christianity.

    But I’m sure this is lost on you since earlier you said that science and philosophy are the same thing. One is a collection of techniques to gather information about the world, the other is many different things, but can be purely intellectual and done without collecting experimental data. Science equals philosophy in the same way atheism equals religion.

  148. michaelegnor says:

    Sophie:

    [When you widen the meaning of words this much they become useless.]

    It’s simply the definition of faith: belief based on incomplete evidence.

    [Clearly when we talk about the Christian faith we are using faith in a pretty specific way. So specific and well known, that it has its own definition!]

    The Christian definition of faith is: belief in Christ based on incomplete evidence. Oddly, that’s analogous to the definition of faith for an atheist: belief in atheism based on incomplete evidence.

    [When you claim that atheists also have faith it’s just a foot in the door strategy to then say it’s a religion and the same as what you do.]

    Depends on what a religion is. There are two definitions recognized by scholars of religion:

    1) Religion is a metaphysical belief about ultimate truth
    2) Religion is an organized system of worship, liturgy, etc.

    If #1, then atheism is a religion.
    If #2, then atheism is not a religion.

    [Actually it’s not, there are giant philosophical differences between atheism and Christianity.]

    Yep. They’re different religions.

    [But I’m sure this is lost on you since earlier you said that science and philosophy are the same thing.]

    Science is a subdivision of philosophy–natural philosophy. Everything’s a subdivision of philosophy.

    [One is a collection of techniques to gather information about the world, the other is many different things, but can be purely intellectual and done without collecting experimental data. Science equals philosophy in the same way atheism equals religion.]

    Science has philosophical predicates: nature exists (and is not just in our imagination), time exists, logic is true, inference is a proper method of reasoning, words and symbols have meaning, etc. You can’t do science without accepting a host of philosophical predicates.

  149. Sophie says:

    So you think the word faith only has one definition. Like the way you keep tossing it around? Click the link. Most words have more than one definition. Christian faith means something more specific than casually tossing the word around

  150. trumpproctor says:

    ME,

    You’re clearly in your own world when you define atheism and faith.

    But we’re getting no where arguing about definitions. Fine… just for the sake of argument I’ll agree on your definitions. Ok.. so now what? Christian’s “personal anecdote/experiences” are still horribly fallible evidence for your god claim. And claiming that personal anecdotes are valid evidence for anything is ridiculous. I wouldn’t take my own parents personal anecdote about any extraordinary claim, because I understand how the mind is fallible and how we fool ourselves, so why in the world should I accept yours or anyone else’s?

  151. michaelegnor says:

    @trumpie:

    Do you love your mother?

  152. Sophie says:

    I love your mom.

  153. michaelegnor says:

    [I love your mom.]

    Knowing God is more like loving your mom than it is like measuring the mass of the electron.

    You don’t come to know God by scientific experiments, and the evidence for His existence is less like scientific evidence and more like love of someone very important in your life.

    The question of course is: how do I know this “love” when I don’t even know if He exists?

    St Anslem had the best answer: “I believe, that I may understand”.

    There is a leap of faith- a willingness to believe based on incomplete evidence. For some of us, the evidence seems very incomplete. For others, it is a lot more credible. But it always involves a leap.

    Once you make the leap, you begin begin to understand, and to know Him better and better. It’s a personal relationship, a love.

    To apply scientific methods to it is to make a category error.

  154. chikoppi says:

    [michaelegnor] The Christian definition of faith is: belief in Christ based on incomplete evidence. Oddly, that’s analogous to the definition of faith for an atheist: belief in atheism based on incomplete evidence.

    Phew! There it finally is. “Incomplete” evidence is also “insufficient” evidence.

    Religious belief is the acceptance of a claim despite insufficient evidence.

    Atheism is rejection of that claim due to insufficient evidence.

    And no, they are not analagous positions, unless “analogous” now means “opposite.”

  155. Sophie says:

    Egnor,

    All of this is just arguing that religious belief is special and cannot be challenged. I don’t care what you believe. If you want to believe that you have a deeply personal relationship with god that’s fine.

    This is unrelated to the historicity of Jesus. We were talking about history and arguments based on evidence. We were examining if we have enough evidence to support that Jesus existed. Many people here, me included, find it likely that he did. Now, is that person the same person from the gospels, and did he do those miraculous things? That’s a separate question entirely.

    You tried to argue that historical Jesus and the Gospels cannot be untangled. That theology and history are essentially the same. One by one your arguments got shot down. Mostly just because we can google words and see what they mean, look at what you wrote and see that it’s at best naive and at worst dishonest.

    So we arrived here. Now your arguments are all based on the exceptionalism of Christianity. How it cannot be studied by science because its personal and mysterious.

    Some consistent themes are present. You have very shaky definitions for words that are central to this discussion. You can’t seem to agree on clear definitions for: faith, religion, science, philosophy, history, or even something like ‘truth.’ Even when presented with the dictionary entry you keep repeating your personal definitions.

    P.S. tell me again about how Islam and Christianity just have slightly different opinions about Jesus

  156. Sophie says:

    If the historical, archeological and science-based methods can’t possibly challenge some ideas about Jesus from the gospels, what can?

    And if you truly believe religion is so special and different from science, then why are so furiously fighting us?

  157. GHL says:

    Back after a good night’s sleep!

    ME. I’m really not pandering to atheists I’m engaged with people I respect and love, and I don’t think the scripture you quoted is pertinent to this little corner of the internet. Additionally you would do well to be rid of the atheism is faith rgument because a) it’s inaccurate, and b) serves only to annoy the person you are talking to; you just are giving the person the minimum level of respect when they repeatedly self-define for your knowledge and then proceed to ignore them.

    Sophie. Actually Christmas and the Bethlehem birth narrative are not that important in terms of the received tradition as well as to the early church, Holy Week and Easter is the most important to the liturgical year and is held theologically to define the preceding ministry of Jesus. Though of course in pop culture Easter is chocolate and Christmas the big one.
    Another issue that I think needs clarifying here is that history is not science, it is however academic, this distinction is key especially when discussing figures in ancient history. The academic study of ancient history has the highest degree of accuracy when speaking of cultures, arts, materials and language but quickly limits to low probabilities when specific persons are involved. This limitation is unavoidable due to the kind of evidence available, we just can’t say a lot about individuals with any degree of certainty.

    Bachfiend. While I love Mr Hitchens’ wit this ham-handed summary-dismissal of Christianity is inaccurate, the traditions and scriptures of Christianity are of a god that has never not been involved in history and is invested in the present.

  158. michaelegnor says:

    GHL:

    [I’m really not pandering to atheists I’m engaged with people I respect and love, and I don’t think the scripture you quoted is pertinent to this little corner of the internet.]

    If I didn’t already know, I’d guess you were studying for Anglican Ordination. I wonder how much of scripture is pertinent to what you’re doing. As for ‘the people you respect and love’, I would suggest tough love and due respect. The atheist blogosphere is a toxic corner of the internet, and they have a particular hate for Christians.

    [Additionally you would do well to be rid of the atheism is faith rgument because a) it’s inaccurate]

    Faith is belief based on incomplete evidence, and atheism is faith.

    [and b) serves only to annoy the person you are talking to]

    The truth gets them riled up

    [you just are giving the person the minimum level of respect when they repeatedly self-define for your knowledge and then proceed to ignore them.]

    I don’t ignore them–take note of the ten years of intense interaction I’ve had with them. They self-define in ways to evade accountability for their own ideology, and they should be called on it.

    We need Christians who will stand up for the faith, GHL. The smarmy stuff is a turn off, even to atheists.

  159. michaelegnor says:

    GHL:

    I also wonder what role your ‘respect and love’ mantra played in your derogatory reference to me as a evangelical fundamentalist, while cooing over your atheist interlocutors.

    With friends like this, Christians don’t need enemies.

  160. bachfiend says:

    GHL,

    ‘The traditions and scriptures of Christianity are of a god that has never not been involved in history and is invested in history’.

    How do you know this? And what the heck does it mean with its double negative? What could it mean, removing the double negative, asserting that god ‘has been involved in history and is invested in history’?

  161. Sophie says:

    GHL,

    I dunno. I’m a huge fan of Hitchens I’m still sad that he’s gone, every time his name comes up. Those books had such an impact on me.

    Egnor,

    In your opinion, on what basis are we allowed to question the historicity of Jesus?

  162. GHL says:

    ME. I do apologize if I have caused harm by referring to you as a fundamentalist however it is an easy mistake to make based on your statements (prior to your identifying as a Roman Catholic), the Roman Catholic Church as a whole tends to value the results of the scientific endeavor more than what you present.
    On another note I really don’t see them or you as enemies as this conflicts with my faith based conclusions regarding the message of Christ.

    Bachfiend. Sorry if my phrasing wasn’t clear, I mean to say that the Christian God is actually presented as having been involved in history from the beginning as well as in the present and going forward. I say this to correct an incorrect assertion that Christianity believes in a once-off breaking in of an impassible god.

    Sophie. Indeed his skill with wit and the English language was a thing to behold.

    Peace.

  163. Willy says:

    Stop with the silly word games, already, Dr. Egnor. Atheism requires NO “faith”. It is simply a lack of belief. It takes faith to believe something for which there is inadequate evidence.

    Let me be more clear: I see no convincing evidence for a “god”;that does not mean I believe there is no “god”. Can you see the difference between what I think and your “faith”?

    I find your whining about Christians being picked on to be comical–and pathetic.

  164. CKava says:

    Sarah,

    You and Sophie seem to be the only two posters in the thread who find the issue relating to the bible containing descriptions which are inconvenient for early Christians (’embarrassing’) to be a completely unconvincing irrelevance. Other posters take quite differing positions on how convincing this line of evidence is but most recognise that it is not the complete irrelevance you suggest. It’s also not necessarily special-pleading on the part of biblical scholars (though I don’t doubt that occurs in some cases), in fact at least in my experience weighing the inclusion of ‘inconvenient facts’ in favour of the validity of a source is a pretty commonplace part of historical analysis. (NOTE: To repeat what others have said I’m not, nor is anyone else in the thread, claiming this *PROVES* the historicity of Jesus, historical analysis doesn’t work like that, it’s more about assessing probabilities).

    Some of the scholars that people have claimed are on the fringe, like Bart D. Ehrman, have made some of the most convincing arguments I’ve seen in this area… It’s possible that people like Bart Ehrman are part of the new wave of religious scholars and that arguments like the criterion of embarrassment are on their way out.

    Sophie,

    If that’s directed at me let me just clarify, I don’t think Ehrman is on the fringe (hence why I recommended his book in the previous thread). I think Bob Price and other mythicists are on the fringe, Ehrman is most definitely not a mythicist. I do think *some* of his more sensationalist statements should be qualified against the relevant context but that seems to be something of a common sentiment- including amongst those that support his views. Also, if you find Ehrman’s scholarship as compelling as you suggest then it is a little incongruous that you are so dismissive of the ‘inconvenient details’ (embarrassment) argument, given that he presents those arguments at length in his books and on his blog.

    On the Egnor issue, I agree with Sophie and all the other posters in pointing out the problems with his logic and his inability to deal with the clear contradictions in his arguments (e.g. Sophie’s Islam/Christian comparisons). I don’t have the energy to deal with his Gish Galloping, evasive responses so I have to say, in this instance, Sophie’s tenacity is quite admirable. Of course, we all know it won’t make a dent on Egnor’s impenetrable worldview and he will be back repeating the same discredited arguments as soon as the next opportunity arises, but it is still nice to see him repeatedly being called on his BS.

  165. RickK says:

    Michael is a fundamentalist. it’s not a term limited to protestants, muslims and Hindus. When your faith is so extreme that you devote your energies to attacking any evidence that contradicts your religious or tribal beliefs, and when you are completely certain that your tribe/race/gender is superior to all others. That’s fundamentalism.

  166. Joe vandenEnden says:

    I note there’s been no mention of the anachronism of Nazareth-as-a-place-to-live.
    As Robert Price points out, Nazareth wasn’t an occupied village in the time of the supposed Jesus. It was, however, occupied at the time of the gospel writers. They just interposed the places they knew, having no resources to check the status of villages in the past century.
    We now have those resources.
    Anachronisms matter.
    Higher biblical criticism is a fun hobby. You should give it a look.

  167. RickK says:

    um… how can anybody know whether the little village of Nazareth was or wasn’t occupied for a few decades 2000 years ago? I’m very skeptical that archeological data from that area is that precise.

  168. CKava says:

    By ‘higher biblical criticism’ do you mean listening to Bob Price and reading Richard Carrier’s blog and nodding along?

    RickK, Ehrman actually addressed the topic on his blog and it seems that there actually is relevant archaeological evidence of occupation during Jesus’ time. He covers it here: https://ehrmanblog.org/mythicists-did-nazareth-exist/ but most of the content is behind a paywall. Here is the relevant section:

    The reason I think this is wrong is because archaeologists (contrary to what Mythicists claim) have actually dug at the site where it has traditionally believed that Nazareth was and have shown that it did in fact exist, in the days of Jesus. A Mythicist like Salm argues that yes, it did exist in different periods of history (still exists today as a city, as those of you who have visited Israel know). But it was uninhabited in Jesus’ day.

    You may notice that the argument that it existed but was uninhabited contradicts the argument that it never existed; some of the mythicists are not terrifically consistent in their logic, from one argument to the next.

    Anyway, as I said, archaeologists have in fact dug on the hillside where ancient Nazareth has long believed to have stood, and have found important remains – one house, and a farm, and most important, various coins from various periods, including the time of Jesus. So certainly Nazareth was there, exactly where it was supposed to be. The archaeologists have concluded that the village/hamlet must have had something like fifty houses in about a four-acre area.

  169. bachfiend says:

    In the absence of a functioning time machine and the resulting inability of travelling back in time to the supposed time and location of the Crucifixion and subsequent Resurrection it’s impossible to prove one way or another whether Jesus existed or not.

    It all comes down to which is the best explanation for the existence of Christianity.

    One possibility is that Jesus actually existed, and God had actually decided to come to Earth as His Son, performed various miracles and then sacrificed Himself to Himself to atone for humans’ Original Sin, and then had Himself resurrected on the 3rd day, afterwards telling his disciples to spread the Word, which then became hopelessly confused with numerous sects forming (even today). This is the explanation that Michael Egnor wants.

    Another possibility is that there was an actual Jesus – an apocalyptic preacher who got himself crucified by the Romans for sedition and then his followers, out of wishful thinking and hopes, attached numerous myths to his person. Bart Ehrman’s explanation, and one I used to accept.

    The third explanation is that 1st century Christians invented Jesus whole cloth without any historical Jesus at all. I doubt that this is a viable explanation at all.

    The final explanation, and the one that I think is most plausible, is that Christianity started as a mystery religion (of which there were many) sometime in the first century BCE, with a dying and resurrecting saviour in a higher realm of the ancient concept of the cosmos, with initiates being led into deeper levels. And then in the subsequent century, the novice initiates in the proto-Christianity mystery religion struck off on their own, bringing the mystical saviour Jesus down to Earth and endowing him with a biography preserved in the gospels.

    The history of early Christianity being somewhat similar to the history of early Islam, which actually started off as a Christian sect. ‘There is but one God (not 2 or 3), and Mohammed (which actually means ‘he who is to be praised’ – ie Jesus) is his prophet’ was to distinguish it from other Christian sects.

    And then rulers, as they often do, took over the sect subverting it to their own needs of retaining power. The Qu’ran contains little or no reference to Mohammed. And nothing on his life. The first Mohammed biography was written at least a century after his supposed lifetime to fulfill a need in Muslims to ‘know’ something concerning the founder of their religion. Muslims put their fictional account of the founder in a separate text and the numerous Hadiths (explanations of contradictory and ambiguous passages in the Qu’ran). Early Christians put their fictional account of the life of the founder of their religion into their gospels.

  170. Darski says:

    Overlappingmagisteria,

    I think I get your gist. Your minimal Jesus is pretty similar to Richard Carrier’s minimal Jesus criteria, which I mentioned in an earlier post:

    1. An actual man at some point named Jesus acquired followers in life who continued as an identifiable movement after his death.
    2. This is the same Jesus who was claimed by some of his followers to have been executed by the Jewish or Roman authorities.
    3. This is the same Jesus some of whose followers soon began worshiping as a living god (or demigod).

    It would be interesting if the “otherwise executed” you refer to in your post was something completely unlike crucifixion… like burning, for instance.

    If we could agree that a person met all the above criteria but was actually burned instead of crucified, it seems like we’d be left in a very curious situation. I’d have a hard time making heads or tails of anyone taking the stories seriously. Bear in mind I’m not saying that this is your position, it just got me to thinking.

    Additionally, given the estimate that Pilate executed around 38 Jesuses in his time, there’s a nonzero chance that TWO or more of them were mystics, preachers or charismatics with an audience. I don’t take this idea seriously but it underscores for me how messy this whole thing is. Cheers.

  171. Willy says:

    Dr. Egnor: Who should I trust regarding the “true” faith? You? The YEC down the street? Jonathan Wells? The Hindu fellow who worked for a customer of our company? Abdul, a Saudi Muslim that I met in college? My daughter and her husband who are devout Mormons (he’s a bishop)? The Jewish fellow I talk with at the deli sometimes? The Jehovah’s Witnesses that sometimes knock on the door? The Amish in rural PA?

  172. trumpproctor says:

    ME: “Do you love your mother?”

    If you are going to go the whole love isn’t scientific, how do you measure it, how to you know it’s there but you now you feel it and then compare that to faith and or the god claim, save your breath. I don’t find that argument compelling in the least.

    ME: “Once you make the leap, you begin begin to understand, and to know Him better and better. It’s a personal relationship, a love.”

    If your god loves us so much, and so desperately wants to have a loving relationship with him, why is it that I could be the most evil despicable human to ever walk the earth, that has caused more other humans to suffer than all other people combined, yet if I repent and simply believe in Christ, I will be in paradise after my death for all eternity. However, the ONLY unforgivable sin, one that has an eternal punishment, is simply to use one’s brain (that your god gave us) to be not be convinced that he exist. Boom.. that’s it. The most despicable human to ever live, believes in Jesus, is forgiven and gets to live in paradise for eternity. Not find the evidence compelling… damned to hell for all eternity. Nice loving god you have there. This is another case where human morality is greater than the god you worship. No rational human would punish another human for eternity for a finite crime (no matter how heinous), and especially not for just a minor crime. It would be ridiculous to even fine people for simply not believing in something that is actually true, yet your god punishes them for all eternity. Sound just and reasonable to you?

    Sophie: “All of this is just arguing that religious belief is special and cannot be challenged. I don’t care what you believe. If you want to believe that you have a deeply personal relationship with god that’s fine.”

    I do care because people beliefs inform their actions. People don’t drop faith beliefs outside the voting booth.. they act in accordance to those beliefs which may involve voting to try to pass laws (or vote in representatives to pass laws) based upon those false beliefs that we must all live by that I vehemently disagree with.

  173. GHL says:

    Bachfiend.
    Your final choice which you call most plausible is not the most plausible academically even of the ones you put forward, it doesn’t match the primary historical sources of the development of the nascent movement into a separate faith. Yes there were a number of mystery religions throughout the period but Christianity was not one of them, it is well documented that what became Christianity started as a Jewish sect and then due to massive events (sacking of the temple in ~70 CE) in Palestine in the first century split off, continuing in the direction of welcoming gentiles into the fold to the point that it became a gentile dominated religion.

  174. GHL says:

    A somewhat important thing to remember is that the peoples of this time period were steeped in a deeply mythological world. Even when biographers were writing about their contemporaries the mythic treatment was still a given, this is true from Caesar to Constantine and extends in history in both directions. Because the miraculous is attributed to a figure and mythological language is applied does not mean that this was fiction and everything was getting “made-up” on the go, this is why nuance is essential in the study of this and other topics related to ancient history. Writing history was writing myth was writing truth and authorship was not approached in the same manner as it is today.

  175. CKava says:

    @Steve

    BTW just wanted to add my voice to the chorus that welcomed this follow up. I think your clarifications make your position much clearer as well as the level of consensus behind the various positions. It’s definitely a topic that invokes a lot of debate and thus is probably a useful case study/teaching tool for skeptics.

  176. mumadadd says:

    Michael,

    ““… based on a reasoned consideration of the available evidence and provisional, subject to change based of newer, better, or fuller information.”

    A fine definition of faith. Mine and yours.”

    You also said previously that atheism is a faith based position based on incomplete evidence. So, what are the gaps in the evidence? What is the missing evidence needed to make a reasonable judgement as to god’s existence? What gap is god hiding in?

    (Although you have also said that evidence is irrelevant, so somewhat inconsistent reasoning here.)

  177. bachfiend says:

    GHL,

    I didn’t claim that Christianity started as a mystery religion in the 1st century CE. I was asserting that it started as a mystery religion a century earlier in the 1st century BCE as an offshoot of Judaism. And then in the 1st century it became a truncated mystery religion as a Jewish sect with the dying and resurrecting saviour figure brought down to Earth from a higher cosmic realm.

    Of of the 4 possibilities I listed, I think it is the most plausible. Which one do you favour? Or do you have another choice?

  178. SteveA says:

    Joe vandenEnden: “I note there’s been no mention of the anachronism of Nazareth-as-a-place-to-live.”

    There’s a theory that Jesus was described as ‘of Nazareth’ because he was a Nazarene/Nazorean i.e. a member of a faction of the Essene sect.

    Early Christians either didn’t know this, or were made uncomfortable by the idea of Jesus being a ‘follower’, so chose to interpret the name as reflecting his origin.

    I would have said that the weight of evidence does favour this explanation. As Joe points out, Nazareth didn’t exist as a town at the time.

  179. CKava says:

    SteveA, did you see my post above? Apparently there is archaeological evidence supporting that Nazareth was inhabited in the relevant time period. Bart Ehrman discussed it on his blog.

  180. SteveA says:

    CKava

    Sorry. Missed that. Lot o’ posts.

    However, I was careful to use the word ‘town’, rather than the modest hamlet it appears to have been.

  181. bachfiend says:

    CKava,

    So if Nazareth was an inhabited hamlet around the time that Jesus was supposed to have been born, then we have the choice between Joseph and Mary being forced to travel to Bethlehem for an empire wide census no one else appeared to have noticed (according to Luke) or Joseph and Mary choosing to live in an insignificant village after they were forced to flee to Egypt from Bethlehem to avoid Herod’s massacre of the innocents (according to Matthew).

    Neither of which seems plausible and both obviously contrived to have Jesus born in Bethlehem, but to come from Nazareth.

  182. GHL says:

    Bachfiend,
    Thank you for your reply, I think you left off the Jewish offshoot part but I did miss your reference to the 1st century BCE. I would still argue that the scenario you posit as most likely of the non-theological options is not, and involves novelty that falls outside of what the evidence suggests. While there were a number of mystical cults popular in the Roman Empire that waxed and waned in popularity among certain groups this was not the case of the Jewish people during 2nd Temple Judaism, whose particular monotheism made certain concepts anathema to their very sense of identity.

    Additional evidence against this position is that the Gospels show a progression of low to high Christologies when arranged in the order they were likely written in, which is the opposite of what you would expect if the cosmic to earthly Jesus hypothesis were true.

    I have already stated the most likely position on the topic from an academic perspective:

    “using current historical standards the evidence suggests that the person Jesus of Nazareth likely existed and was an itinerent prophet/rabbi who’s ministry was unusually non-violent for the messianic tradition/expectations of the late 2nd temple period and was executed by the dominant political and religious figures in Jerusalem.”

    As to the formation of Christianity as distinct from Judaism it would seem that his followers found his teachings compelling enough that instead of the crucifixion proving he was not the messiah they ended up reinterpreting what the messiah meant, which combined with events that were experienced as miraculous lead to these Jewish followers to evangelise.

    Separate from the above academic positions is my theological position that Jesus is the Christ, and that in him is found a unique experience of God revealed. Super short form faith statement but it’s not really relevant to questions of the historicity of Jesus, I merely state it that it be known I identify as Christian.

    Yet another side note on the Christian faith is that there is not one single theory of atonement but many, and that penal substitutionary atonement is not even the most common denominationally. Universal salvation is another belief that has always had a presence within Christianity but not had the strongest voice, and is the direction I lean to.

  183. Sophie says:

    GHL,

    I have to call into question statements like:
    “…Jesus of Nazareth likely existed and was an itinerent prophet/rabbi who’s ministry was unusually non-violent for the messianic tradition/expectations of the late 2nd temple period and was executed by the dominant political and religious figures in Jerusalem.”

    That seems like a little too much information to be able to defend given the limited evidence we have. If we can’t conclude with certainty many other simpler things about the man, it’s hard to imagine how he can describe his ministry. You are just extrapolating from what was going on at the time. It’s an educated guess at best.

  184. I’ll just repeat a comment because M.E. still doesn’t understand what atheism is:

    When I say that I don’t believe that Bruce Willis owns a pair of red flip flops, I’m not saying I believe he doesn’t own such a pair. I just don’t have a belief that he does have a pair of red flip flops. Get it?

  185. Sophie says:

    About Nazareth and Bethlehem discrepancies,

    1 We can see that the Bible has many errors and fabrications.
    (Jews never being enslaved by Pharaoh, Nazareth journey-census, + other examples previously discussed)
    2 The nature of the textual evidence in question, means we have a great difficulty when it comes to corroborating the unconfirmed details with direct evidence.
    3 Point 2 directly implies that we can safely assume we have not discovered all the errors/fabrications.
    4 The nature of human memory combined with the tendency to fabricate stories to justify beliefs.

    Conclusion: There have to be many more errors and fabrications in the Bible that are yet to be discovered. Some details we may never be able to confirm because of the time passed and the lack of archeological evidence, eyewitness accounts etc. The criterion of embarrassment ignores these details and attempts to use evidence of fabrication to argue that some elements just have to be authentic. The problem is, we have no way of knowing if Jesus was really born in Nazareth or if that was just another manufactured detail used to cover up and tell a different biased story. It’s hard to imagine in any other situation this kind of logic working. Usually any evidence of fraud or misconduct is used to build a narrative of untrustworthiness, not authenticity.

    What does all this mean?
    One conclusion I can’t escape is that all the material is highly suspect. Given the tiny amount of details we can see are obviously untrue, and the mountain of details we can’t confirm due to lack of evidence, we have to just look at the whole work with a lot of doubt. We have no other choice.

    The other choice is to deny the evidence pointing towards human error, bias and motivated reasoning. And instead just take it all on faith that the rest of the story is legit.

    In order to do that we have to ignore the historical record. There is a clear pattern over time of things from the Bible being believed literally and then slowly being knocked down an epistemological peg. One by one the claims of the past get more uncertain.

  186. Ivan Grozny says:

    “That is a quick summary of the basic facts, again mostly not in dispute.”

    I am afraid the your summary is a summary of what majority at the universities believe. Yet, some of the people who are very serious students of early Christianity, including Robert M. Price and Richard Carrier dispute many of the key claims of the consensus theory, including that “James Brother of the Lord” refer to Jesus’ biological brother, or that we can take for granted that Josephus wrote anything about Jesus, i.e. that the famous passage is likely a complete forgery.

  187. michaelegnor says:

    GHL:

    [As to the formation of Christianity as distinct from Judaism it would seem that his followers found his teachings compelling enough that instead of the crucifixion proving he was not the messiah they ended up reinterpreting what the messiah meant, which combined with events that were experienced as miraculous lead to these Jewish followers to evangelise. Separate from the above academic positions is my theological position that Jesus is the Christ, and that in him is found a unique experience of God revealed. Super short form faith statement but it’s not really relevant to questions of the historicity of Jesus, I merely state it that it be known I identify as Christian.]

    Uh-oh…

    GHL: was the Resurrection the real reanimation of Christ’s dead body?

    Or did his followers find His ‘message’ so darned inspiring that they just felt so happy and alive that “resurrection” just seemed like the right word.

    Anglican theology can get a bit… well, you know…

  188. BillyJoe7 says:

    ME v Atheists.

    There are two types of atheist:
    1) The atheist who says: “I believe that gods do not exist – including the Christian God”
    2) The atheist who says: “I believe there is no evidence that gods exist – including the Christian God”
    The vast majority of atheists belong to the second group.

    ME hates atheists, so he lumps all atheists into the first group.
    …because that position is so much easier to attack.
    The irony is that ME’s position falls into group three which is almost identical to the first group:

    3) “I believe that gods do not exist – except for the Christian God”

    A position that is even more untenable than the first group.

  189. BillyJoe7 says:

    …and his defense will be that everyone who believes in god are basically referring to the same God. 😀

  190. BillyJoe7 says:

    GHL v ME.

    Whereas ME hates atheists, GML loves atheists.

    Certainly hating your enemy does not work:
    You just end up misunderstanding your enemy, and underestimating your enemy’s strength.
    You will lose, as has been amply demoinstrated by ME.

    As for loving your enemy:
    Besides not being genuine, it is simply a strategy to win your enemy over.
    Don’t fall for it.

    If there’s something worse than someone who hates you, it is someone who loves you for their own ends.

  191. michaelegnor says:

    [The atheist who says: “I believe there is no evidence that gods exist – including the Christian God”
    The vast majority of atheists belong to the second group.
    ME hates atheists, so he lumps all atheists into the first group.
    …because that position is so much easier to attack.]

    Actually, the second position is very easy to refute–just as easy as the first.

    By Aquinas’ Five Ways, every motion of every subatomic particle in the universe (Prime Mover), every cause in the universe (First Cause), everything that exists in the universe (Necessary Existence), every thing that has qualities less than perfection (the Argument from Degree), and every change in nature that is predictable in any way (Teleological Argument)–manifests God’s agency, and is demonstrated to do so in a way that is irrefutable.

    Incontrovertable proof of God’s existence is everywhere and always, countless trillions of proofs every second.

    But you’re an atheist, so you know nothing of logic or reason or philosophy. Nor of God, who is the Source of logic, reason, philosophy, and you.

  192. BillyJoe7 says:

    As for whether Jesus is mythologised historicity or historicised mythology – which, it seems, is a bit of a coin toss – the point is that when it comes to the Jesus that rests in the minds of the vast majority of Christians – as opposed to the minds of theologians, especially “Sophisticated Theologians” – that Jesus does not exist.

  193. michaelegnor says:

    [Whereas ME hates atheists…]

    I hate neither atheists nor atheism.

    I used to be an atheist, and I have friends and family who are atheists. I don’t hate them, and I don’t hate who I was. Each of us is created in His image, and is of inestimable value. I don’t hate atheists.

    I think atheists are fools. Also, often, ignorant, arrogant, malicious. But we all are, in different degrees. Atheists just are these things in more degrees, on the average, than other people. Especially the “fool” part.

    And it’s not true that I hate atheism, as a philosophy. My dislike for it is far more intense than hate.

  194. michaelegnor says:

    [the Jesus that rests in the minds of the vast majority of Christians – as opposed to the minds of theologians, especially “Sophisticated Theologians” – that Jesus does not exist.]

    Jesus is a Person, not an idea. A Person of infinite goodness, wisdom and power. As such a Person, He is known differently by different people, analogous to a man who is a worker and friend and a husband and a father, who is known differently by his colleagues, friends, wife and kids.

    Ordinary Christians know Him in one way, theologians in another. Just like people are known in different ways by different acquaintances.

  195. BillyJoe7 says:

    ME,

    You can impute all these things to one of history’s gods if you like, as long as you understand that you still have all your work cut out for you – explaining that god.

    …gods are NON-explanations.

  196. michaelegnor says:

    [You can impute all these things to one of history’s gods if you like, as long as you understand that you still have all your work cut out for you – explaining that god.]

    Actually, “explaining that God” has already been done, for thousands of years, in millions of books by millions of people. Theology is a vast discipline, representing the best logic and insight of which man is capable.

    You could learn a bit of it, if you cared to find the truth, instead of doubling down on your lie.

  197. CKava says:

    The criterion of embarrassment ignores these details and attempts to use evidence of fabrication to argue that some elements just have to be authentic.

    What you are describing is the abuse of the technique rather than what the logic of the method itself. Weighing the inclusion of inconvenient facts and adjusting historical probabilities on this basis does not entail deciding that the criterion exists in order to justify that “some elements just have to be authentic”.

    One conclusion I can’t escape is that all the material is highly suspect. Given the tiny amount of details we can see are obviously untrue, and the mountain of details we can’t confirm due to lack of evidence, we have to just look at the whole work with a lot of doubt. We have no other choice.
    The other choice is to deny the evidence pointing towards human error, bias and motivated reasoning. And instead just take it all on faith that the rest of the story is legit.

    Overall, I strongly agree with your conclusions here, though I think historical research has uncovered more than you give credit. That quibble aside, the mistake you seem to be making is thinking that anyone who lends credence to the criterion of embarrassment (or as I prefer, the presence of inconvenient facts) is uncritically endorsing the validity of the bible. That’s not the argument. Like Bart Ehrman (whose scholarship/approach you praised), the presence of inconsistent facts just offers an additional element to weigh alongside a host of other evidence, when assessing sources/historical probabilities.

  198. CKava says:

    Let me try that again…

    The criterion of embarrassment ignores these details and attempts to use evidence of fabrication to argue that some elements just have to be authentic.

    What you are describing is the abuse of the technique rather than what the logic of the method itself. Weighing the inclusion of inconvenient facts and adjusting historical probabilities on this basis does not entail deciding that the criterion exists in order to justify that “some elements just have to be authentic”.

    One conclusion I can’t escape is that all the material is highly suspect. Given the tiny amount of details we can see are obviously untrue, and the mountain of details we can’t confirm due to lack of evidence, we have to just look at the whole work with a lot of doubt. We have no other choice.
    The other choice is to deny the evidence pointing towards human error, bias and motivated reasoning. And instead just take it all on faith that the rest of the story is legit.

    Overall, I strongly agree with your conclusions here, though I think historical research has uncovered more than you give credit. That quibble aside, the mistake you seem to be making is thinking that anyone who lends credence to the criterion of embarrassment (or as I prefer, the presence of inconvenient facts) is uncritically endorsing the validity of the bible. That’s not the argument. Like Bart Ehrman (whose scholarship/approach you praised), the presence of inconsistent facts just offers an additional element to weigh alongside a host of other evidence, when assessing sources/historical probabilities.

  199. CKava says:

    Eugh… let me try that again, if I can get past wordpress’ duplicate comment filter…

    The criterion of embarrassment ignores these details and attempts to use evidence of fabrication to argue that some elements just have to be authentic.

    What you are describing is the abuse of the technique rather than what the logic of the method itself. Weighing the inclusion of inconvenient facts and adjusting historical probabilities on this basis does not entail deciding that the criterion exists in order to justify that “some elements just have to be authentic”.

    One conclusion I can’t escape is that all the material is highly suspect. Given the tiny amount of details we can see are obviously untrue, and the mountain of details we can’t confirm due to lack of evidence, we have to just look at the whole work with a lot of doubt. We have no other choice.
    The other choice is to deny the evidence pointing towards human error, bias and motivated reasoning. And instead just take it all on faith that the rest of the story is legit.

    Overall, I strongly agree with your conclusions here, though I think historical research has uncovered more than you give credit. That quibble aside, the mistake you seem to be making is thinking that anyone who lends credence to the criterion of embarrassment (or as I prefer, the presence of inconvenient facts) is uncritically endorsing the validity of the bible. That’s not the argument. Like Bart Ehrman (whose scholarship/approach you praised), the presence of inconsistent facts just offers an additional element to weigh alongside a host of other evidence, when assessing sources/historical probabilities.

  200. CKava says:

    Well, that worked well. Sorry for the duplicate posting and screw you wordpress!

  201. bachfiend says:

    Michael,

    Theology is the only subject without an object. The mere fact that there have been millions of books written on deities, with contradictory viewpoints, doesn’t mean any of them are true.

    There’s no evidence that any deity actually exists. Attempting to play yet again the quantum card that the probabilistic motion of subatomic particles somehow confirms Aquinas’ Prime Mover is just nonsense. And everything else from Acquinas, including teleology.

    GHL,

    You seem to be labouring under the misconception that a minority of 1st century BCE Jews can’t adopt a mystery religion despite the majority (obviously) not doing so. And that different sects can’t form from it in different locations a century later. Which then subsequently evolve.

    The only definite fact about religions is that they split and change over time. You only have to look at Christianity to see that.

  202. michaelegnor says:

    [Attempting to play yet again the quantum card that the probabilistic motion of subatomic particles somehow confirms Aquinas’ Prime Mover is just nonsense. And everything else from Acquinas, including teleology.]

    Quantum probability is an obvious example of teleology. It has nothing to do with the Prime Mover argument.

    You don’t even understand the arguments, bach.

  203. Sophie says:

    CKava,

    Thanks for the reply. I generally agree with what you said. I’ll fully admit all I know about the criterion of embrassment is the wiki page, a random blog post that came up on google from some theologian, and what Steven said above. The Nazareth example is used in all 3 cases. My logic is consistent with that example. But yes, sure I’m not a historian. The inconvenient facts are only one type of evidence. It’s not as robust as other types. We also have to keep in mind the concept: absence of evidence, and the related fallacies.

    All we have here is some details like the Nazareth origin. We don’t actually know if that’s true. We assume it is to make these types of inconvenient fact arguments. But it could be false. Maybe the author was looking at 10 different manuscripts and wanted to make multiple stories make sense. But those manuscripts or oral traditions he was recalling, could have had mistakes in them.

    I’m biased obviously. It just seems weak to me. But it’s a tautological argument, the reason historians use these arguments is because they don’t have a better approach. I get it. It’s just frustrating.

  204. Sophie says:

    Michael Egnor,

    Please explain how quantum mechanics and teleology are connected. Would love to hear more. Also how does this apply to the historicity of Jesus and our convo about Islam?

  205. bachfiend says:

    Michael,

    You wrote ‘every motion of every subatomic particle in the universe (Prime Mover’), which is probabilistic in quantum physics.

    You don’t understand the argument. Probabilities means that nothing can’t be predicted, and without 100% accurate prediction (a clockwork universe) teleology is impossible.

    Acquinas’ Ways were just a method of convincing believers that there was some sort of foundation for their belief. First comes the belief and then the so-called ‘proof’, not the other way around.

    Philosophers have been, rightly, criticising Acquinas’ Ways ever since then. Just because your favourite theologian Ed Feser thinks that Acquinas is the bee’s knees doesn’t make it a valid argument.

  206. michaelegnor says:

    [Please explain how quantum mechanics and teleology are connected.]

    Teleology is the directedness/predictability of change in nature. When you strike a match, it bursts into flame, not ice. That’s predictable, and that’s teleology.

    The location of an electron can be described probabilistically by Schrodinger’s equation. This predictability– a 50% chance it will be here, 30% chance it will be there, etc., is teleology.

    Also, the collapse of the quantum waveform from probabilistic functions to a discrete value is a remarkable example of Aristotle’s concept of potency and act, as Heisenberg noted (that was in the day when scientists knew something about philosophy.

    Aquinas used potency and act, and teleology, to demonstrate God’s existence (his First and Fifth Way, respectively).

    Here are references if you want a more detailed explanation of the proofs:

    http://egnorance.blogspot.com/2011/08/aquinas-first-way.html

    http://egnorance.blogspot.com/2014/01/more-on-fifth-way.html

  207. Sophie says:

    Michael Egnor,

    Teleology is the directedness/predictability of change in nature. When you strike a match, it bursts into flame, not ice. That’s predictable, and that’s teleology.

    In short: you have literally no idea what you are talking about.

    http://www.dictionary.com/browse/teleology

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teleology

    Notably absent from your descriptions of teleology is the word “purpose.” If you are using the old definition of teleology like from Aquinas, then you should be talking about final causes. Modern use of the word teleology, in philosophy refers to the purpose of something. For example: the purpose of a match is to start fires. The classical definition is about finding the final cause. Neither definition of teleology accounts for your description.

    Once again you have shown that you have personal definitions for really important concepts in your own arguments.

    Anyone can go read and learn what teleology actually is, and immediately see that you are talking about something else. Poetry maybe?

    Right on the wiki page you can see a summary of teleological thought. We can see that it fell out of favor but is still used in some areas to get a certain perspective on things. Like in evolutionary biology, scientists ask: what is the purpose of something. They use this a tool to solve problems, they don’t actually believe that certain things only have one specific purpose or do one thing.

    The purpose of a match in terms of how humans typically use them, is a teleological discussion. Atoms, wavelengths and things don’t really have some ultimate purpose. They just exist. You can examine the purpose of electrons in a specific context. You could say that the purpose of electrons is to run computer chips. Clearly that’s one of the the purposes that electrons serve in modern computing. But it’s all a matter of perspective. Electrons are studied in a different way in chemistry, and put to a different purpose.

    Basically teleology is dead. It assumes ultimate truths and this completely objective god-like reference frame…. oh this is why you like it. I get it.

  208. bachfiend says:

    Michael,

    ‘Teleology is the directness/predictability of change in nature. When you strike a match, it bursts into flame, not ice. That’s predictable, and that’s teleology’.

    No it isn’t. Teleology is purposefulness. The purpose of a match is to produce fire (although matches can be used for other purposes such counting and keeping track of tallies, or constructing matchstick models).

    The position and momentum of electrons can’t be predicted. Even if probabilities concerning the location and momentum of electrons can be calculated, then it hardly says anything about their purpose.

    And if Aquinas’ so-called proofs were convincing philosophically then there’d be no atheist philosophers. But there are many, probably a majority.

    Aquinas’ proofs are a joke. I read your discussion. I can’t take anyone seriously who can’t even get the definition of something basic such as teleology.

  209. bachfiend says:

    Sophie,

    You expressed better than I could. I once noted to Michael Egnor on his blog that biologists studying biological systems aren’t looking for purpose (which is teleology) but function. The function of a heart is to pump blood. The purpose of a heart in an athlete might be to be able to run a sub-2 hr 10′ marathon.

    Egnor constantly confuses function and purpose. Scientists study function. He thinks that they should be studying purpose as if it will somehow verify his beliefs.

  210. Sophie says:

    Bachfiend,
    I think we both did a good job. Yours reads cleaner. Mine is just a bungled summary. Good work as usual though I like reading your perspective

  211. michaelegnor says:

    Does the heart have a purpose?

  212. Sophie says:

    We have to remember he is using this to justify God. This tells us a lot about his reasoning.
    For example
    1 If you believe in the Christian God, you probably think he is omniscient and omnipotent.
    2 This god also created everything.
    3 This god created everything for a reason, creation has a purpose, it’s god’s way of showing us how much he loves us and how amazingly powerful and generous he is.

    Given those Christian concepts it’s really easy to see how one would be attracted to teleology. Clearly if there was a creator than his creations make sense to him and have a purpose. God’s eye is the ultimate reference frame he sees things in their truest form.

  213. michaelegnor says:

    Sophie:

    Hint: if your ideology makes it difficult to answer the question: “Does the heart have a purpose?”, you should rethink your ideology.

  214. JJ Borgman says:

    ME:

    The heart, as a biological organ, has the purpose of pumping blood into the blood distribution system of it’s organism.

    Is this what you mean?

  215. bachfiend says:

    Michael,

    The heart has a function. To pump blood. Purpose follows from function, but isn’t primary. The purpose of a heart in an elite athlete might be to run a very fast marathon, but it isn’t its only possible purpose, which can vary.

    Purpose isn’t primary. Function is.

    You’re still engaging in the Egnor Evasion. Refusing to address rebuttals of your nonsensical arguments, such as your bizarre definition of teleology as being prediction, even if isn’t as in quantum physics.

  216. michaelegnor says:

    [Egnor constantly confuses function and purpose.]

    Nope.

    Function is something a thing does.

    Purpose is teleology.

    Some functions are purposes, but not all.

    The heart has many functions: it makes lib-dub sounds, keeps the lungs from rubbing together, helps cardiologists make a living, gives transplant surgeons something to transplant, provides a model for valentine day cards, etc.

    The heart has one purpose: to pump blood.

    Without teleology, you couldn’t distinguish purpose from function.

    You can’t make sense of biology without purpose.

    Whence the purpose?

  217. michaelegnor says:

    JJ:

    [ME:
    The heart, as a biological organ, has the purpose of pumping blood into the blood distribution system of it’s organism.
    Is this what you mean?]

    Yes. Purpose is evident in (some) natural things. That is teleology.

    Where does the purpose come from?

  218. JJ Borgman says:

    ME:

    If you’re using some other definition of “heart”, then it is only fair for you to state that in your premise. It is patently unfair for you to force others to discern your meaning otherwise. Argument typically defaults to primary dictionary definitions of words. If you wish to engage in semantics, it is proper for you to clearly state your tertiary definition of words if you engage them in an argument. Please behave yourself. None of us can force you.

  219. michaelegnor says:

    [Purpose follows from function, but isn’t primary.]

    Of course purpose is primary, inherently. Purpose is prior to function, metaphysically. For example, organs of living things do many things (function), but organs have clear purposes that are not identical to their functions.

    For example, kidneys take up space in the renal capsule, support the adrenal glands, provide circulation to the renal veins, give blood in the renal arteries a place to go, eliminate wastes, prevent the ureters from sliding down into the pelvis, regulate serum potassium, etc.

    Kidneys have purposes, which include eliminating wastes and regulating serum potassium.

    Biology makes no sense without reference to purpose.

    Purpose is teleology.

    Where does purpose/teleology come from?

  220. michaelegnor says:

    JJ:

    [If you’re using some other definition of “heart”, then it is only fair for you to state that in your premise. It is patently unfair for you to force others to discern your meaning otherwise. Argument typically defaults to primary dictionary definitions of words. If you wish to engage in semantics, it is proper for you to clearly state your tertiary definition of words if you engage them in an argument. Please behave yourself. None of us can force you.]

    I repeat: if your idiot ideology makes it difficult to explain the purpose of the heart, maybe it’s time for a new ideology.

  221. JJ Borgman says:

    ME:

    Suppose you tell me where the purpose comes from. From your tone, I’d say you think you know the answer. From your endless previous posts, I’d say you have nothing more than wispy apologetics. You may have them all to yourself.

  222. michaelegnor says:

    JJ:

    [Suppose you tell me where the purpose comes from.]

    I’ll leave it to you to figure it out.

    Apply some of that skeptical atheist reasoning.

  223. JJ Borgman says:

    Idiot ideology? Lovely. Nice turn of a phrase. You DO see the irony, of course.

  224. Sophie says:

    It’s funny how the word “purpose” is all over egnor’s writing about teleology now, but when he first presented the idea he didn’t define it correctly.

  225. JJ Borgman says:

    ME:

    You’re just being petulant.

    Son.

  226. bachfiend says:

    Michael,

    No, no, no.

    The heart has only one function. To pump blood. If a heart stops its function of pumping blood for any length of time, then all its secondary purposes disappear. And some of your so-called functions of the heart are just nonsense. It’s neither a function nor a purpose of the heart to keep the lungs from rubbing together.

    ‘Purpose is teleology’. For once you get the definition of what teleology actually is right, instead of your nonsensical ‘teleology is the directness/predictability of change in nature’, which says nothing about ‘purpose’. And even less of function.

    JJ,

    I think you’ve written an error in your first sentence. You meant to type ‘purpose’ instead of ‘heart’. Completely understandable when you’re attempting to think down to Egnor’s level of thought.

  227. michaelegnor says:

    Sophie:

    Let me clear this up for you.

    Aristotle coined the concept of teleology, which was the directness of change in nature. It is obviously real. He did not connect it to purpose (which is teleology created by an intellect) in proving the existence of God.

    Aquinas agreed with Aristotle’s teleology, but argued (in his 5th Way) that teleology in the natural world implies intelligent agency (‘an aimed arrow is directed by an archer’), which is the teleological proof of God’s existence.

    Teleology is real. It is proof of God’s existence.

  228. JJ Borgman says:

    bachfiend

    Awesome nym. Not an aficionado, but, still. I haven’t seen the error in my sentence.

    (# JJ Borgmanon 28 Apr 2017 at 9:47 pm )

  229. michaelegnor says:

    JJ:

    [You’re just being petulant.]

    On purpose.

  230. JJ Borgman says:

    ME:

    Teleology is real to you, for whatever reason. It is real to others for similar reasons.

    It is distinctly not real to many others. You cannot prove it, argue it or force it otherwise.

    Teleology is nothing more than slippery southern clay.

  231. Sophie says:

    On the purpose of hearts,

    The purpose of my heart, currently for me personally, is to pump blood around my body.

    However, to a hostile alien hunter race, my the purpose of my heart could be to top a ceremonial cake. It could be an edible delight fit for a king.

    For this hypothetical alien race, my only purpose could be to grow and nurture a heart that could then be violently carved out of my chest. You see, hearts are very difficult to grow and my chest cavity just has the most perfect conditions for it.

    If you think this is ridiculous then go examine real parasitic relationship in nature.
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parasitic_plant

    What’s the purpose of a parasitic plant? To feed on another plant. It’s an exploitative relationship, it’s like cheating.

    So for the parasite, what’s the purpose of it’s host? To feed it. To provide nutrients. So your God created parasitic organisms btw.

  232. JJ Borgman says:

    You admit to being petulant “on purpose”? Discussion over.

    Thank-you, Michael.

    Good bye.

  233. michaelegnor says:

    JJ:

    [Teleology is real to you… It is distinctly not real to many others.]

    It’s as real as the beating of your heart.

    And it’s a demonstration of God’s existence.

  234. michaelegnor says:

    Sophie:

    [However, to a hostile alien hunter race, my the purpose of my heart could be to top a ceremonial cake. It could be an edible delight fit for a king… What’s the purpose of a parasitic plant? To feed on another plant. It’s an exploitative relationship, it’s like cheating.]

    It’s best not to take hallucinogenic drugs while blogging…

  235. Sophie says:

    Google parasitic relationships. From the parasite’s perspective the host’s purpose is to provide nutrients. It just steals and exploits.

    What’s the purpose of a molecule?

  236. chikoppi says:

    Ugh. Teleology again.

    The universe isn’t a formless chaotic soup of random excitations, therefore God.

    Not all organisms have hearts (Cephalopods have three). The circulatory system was an early introduction in evolution. Had it not happened there would likely be no megafauna to ask the question, but there would still be living organisms nonetheless. Then again, perhaps there would have evolved a completely different system of oxygenation suitable for large organisms (vertibrates or otherwise). The heart was not a forgone conclusion.

    That’s teleology in a nutshell, survivorship bias. The puddle perfectly fits the hole it resides in, therefore the hole must have been designed with that purpose in mind.

  237. bachfiend says:

    Michael,

    The beating of one’s heart is the demonstration of evolution at work. Whether God set up evolution to do his job is another matter.

    The function of the heart in a bar-headed goose is to pump blood, which it shares with every other species of geese. Its purpose is to allow it to cross the Himalayas at altitudes of over 6,000 metres, which most other species of geese are completely incapable of doing.

    There’s no teleology in biology. Geese can’t just decide – intend – to have hearts capable of crossing the Himalayas. They either do or they don’t. If they don’t, then they don’t pass their genes allowing them to pass the necessary genes on to future generations.

    You keep on making the sharpshooter fallacy.

  238. Sophie says:

    There’s also some interesting assumptions he has to make. He assumes there is like an ultimate truth to things. Like the heart has one absolute purpose. Or an atom or an electron. But that’s certainly not the case. You also need a god like perspective to make these conclusions about things.

  239. Sophie says:

    What’s the purpose of my blood, to a mosquito?

  240. Sophie says:

    The purpose of blood is clearly obvious right? It just has one ultimate purpose, to be pumped around by the heart, to keep me alive.

    Why then would God create a mosquito that requires something as nutrients, in a way that it’s not ultimately intented?

    Why would he allow us to use trees to make paper to print the Bible on? Is the ultimate purpose of cellulose not to provide structural support for plants? Or is it to print his holy book?

  241. RickK says:

    Of course Michael gets his view of his purpose from Aquinas. Aquinas was early enough that he still thought the stars evolved around the Earth, and that humanity was the center of the universe. That kind of thinking seems to sit well with Michael. The Earth is the center of the universe, humans are the most important thing on Earth and white Christian males are the most important humans. Nice and tidy.

    Better to cling to an Iron Age myth than to admit the ignorance that every one of us shares about the existence or nature of a purpose for the universe.

  242. Sophie says:

    About purpose,

    There is quite a lengthy list of subjective decisions you need to make to come to teleological conclusions about the purpose of things. You need to define things a very specific way, in a specific reference frame, using a certain perspective. These are all arbitrary decisions if it’s just a casual conversation and not a scientific experiment.

    Let’s examine:
    What’s the purpose of an atom?
    -first define it: let’s say, the smallest indivisible unit of a particular element
    -next define frame of reference: let’s say, atomic level, microseconds
    -last set the perspective: chemistry
    — — —
    Now given these constraints: what’s the purpose of an atom? Clearly atoms only have one ultimate purpose, to partake in reactions. Some atoms of one element react very quickly with another to form new compounds.

    If we use quantum mechanics everything changes. Atoms and other particles can be expressed as de Broglie waves. This definition change and accompanying perspective shift allows for many different “purposes” for atoms.

    Chemistry answers questions quantum mechanics does not, and vice versa. Therefore atoms have multiple purposes depending on how we choose to examine them. There is no giant overarching ultimate purpose for an atom. As soon as you define one it quickly breaks down.

    If atoms are just tiny little bits of matter then quantum mechanics doesn’t make sense. If atoms are matter waves then what about all the cute molecule models we built as kids? As you learn more chemistry you learn a bit of quantum chemistry and you realize that it’s not so simple, that atoms don’t literally just look like cute stick models, do we throw out those models though? No of course not, it’s still highly useful to use stick models to think about molecules. Organic chemistry treats atoms as very specific physical things that are rigid and held in place with bonds. These bonds between atoms are locked into certain patterns all students dread memorizing.

    Atoms are many things, they can be expressed in many different ways, they can be treated as hard physical things like mini billiard balls or they can be treated as waves and diffracted. They have as many purposes as there are perspectives to examine them.

    The heart example Egnor keeps using is an interesting example of this arbitrary process. Notice he said: hearts are for pumping blood. Let’s just pause for a moment and examine that statement.
    -definition of heart: mechanical
    -Frame of reference: about the size of a heart, on the scale of seconds pumping cycling through the motions
    -perspective: anatomical

    This definition of the heart is incomplete to say the least. Hearts do not function independent of the surrounding systems. A heart doesn’t do anything at all on its own.

    Cut my heart out and set it on a table. It does nothing. Fill it with blood, it does nothing. Why isn’t it pumping blood, that’s its ultimate purpose right? You are telling me this thing can’t do it’s job on its own?

    We can easily see why if we zoom out and change our frame of reference to the entire human body. We see that the heart is just one part of the circulatory system, it can’t do anything without a massive amount of interconnected systems all working together. If we zoom in to the cellular level, we see that the heart is an organized mass of tissue that is very complex, it takes in glucose/lipids and oxygen and processes them to contract its muscular tissue. If we zoom in further we see it’s made out of atoms. Which apparently have one specific purpose somehow according to teleological thought, and I don’t remember “to pump blood” being stated as the purpose of atoms.

    Clearly the purpose of the heart is much more than just to simply pump blood. Its purpose is more like:
    -to participate in the complex circulatory system
    -to beat faster or slower to help regulate body temperature in different situations
    -to beat faster to help me escape predators
    -to take in nutrients and contract it’s musculature in a very specific pattern
    -to maintain and repair itself
    -to receive and respond to signals from the connected nerves

    The purpose of a molecule?
    It’s just a collection of atoms should be easy figure out, right?
    Let’s take cellulose, does cellulose have a specific purpose? An ultimate purpose? Clearly it plants use it for structural support. It’s the reason giant redwood trees can stand so tall and weather fierce storms.

    Now just to mess with Michael Egnor, what’s the most important book in Christianity? The Bible right? The Bible is based on early manuscripts which were written on paper, made of cellulose. Now what’s the ultimate purpose of cellulose, is it to make plant cells sturdy, so trees can grow tall and strong? Or is it to make the early paper the word of god himself was written on? If you are a Christian you would have literally nothing without those early manuscripts your religion is based on. The Bible clearly must be something truly significant and special.

    God is omniscient right, he can see the future? So did god create cellulose for the ultimate purpose of creating the paper for the early manuscripts for his Bible?

    1 If so then the ultimate purpose of cellulose, a molecule, is to make paper, for the holy scripture to be printed on.
    2 If not, then things have many purposes.

    If cellulose is for making the paper, what about the wooden cross? Which one is it? It can’t be both, because you’ve said multiple times things only have one ultimate purpose.

    What about other molecules? Alcohol? Is that for fun, or for sterilizing medical equipment? Or the hallucinogens you mentioned? What’s the purpose of those molecules? To bring me to the devil?

  243. BillyJoe7 says:

    ME,

    Theology is a waste of everyone’s time.
    I do not intend ever to read a book on theology.

    Philosophy is useful only if it is based on science and helps science to frame and answer questions.
    I do not intend ever to read a book on philosophy divorced from science.
    To do so would be a complete waste of my time.

    Aquinas’s theological argument from the 13th century has been killed by modern science.
    In particular the science of Cosmology and Evolution.

    So, instead of asking me to read a million books by a million theologists…
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Courtier%27s_Reply
    …let me ask you to get a science education.

    Unless you do, you will never understand anything.

  244. Pete A says:

    What was, and still is, the purpose of humans creating gods and religions? To give us a sense of purpose; and religion is easy to deploy as means of gaining power and control.

    Which is the more likely explanation for the huge number of incompatible religious sects:
    1. there is One True God™;
    2. gods and religions are created by humans?

  245. trumpproctor says:

    “2) The atheist who says: “I believe there is no evidence that gods exist – including the Christian God””

    I would rephrase this slightly to be “I do not find any of the evidence/arguments provided for theism compelling – including the Christian God”.

    Because it’s not that there is “no evidence”. As shown by ME, Christians will try to give you “evidence” all day long, it’s just non of it is compelling. All I see is motivated reasoning and logical fallacy after fallacy. And at the heart of it, even prominent apologist like William Lane Craig will even say that all of his arguments are not what conveniences him that there is a god.. it’s personal revelation.

    Which we all know that personal experience/anecdote are the worst forms of evidence.. so bad that they can hardly be considered evidence at all. ME seems to thing they are just as valid as peer reviewed double blinded studies, which boggles my mind.

    Michael E.. I propose an experiment. Pray to your God to give you the wisdom and words that your next message will be so compelling that it will convince all (or even just one single atheist) here to change their position. Go ahead, and let’s see if your prayer works. I’m waiting.

  246. hardnose says:

    God and Jesus are two completely separate concepts, but atheists love to pretend they are they same thing. It’s very easy to show there is no evidence for Jesus being God, or somehow a relative of God. That says nothing at all about whether the general concept of God is valid or not.

    But, as always, atheists would rather fight the weakest versions of their opponents.

  247. hardnose says:

    “Which is the more likely explanation for the huge number of incompatible religious sects:
    1. there is One True God™;
    2. gods and religions are created by humans?”

    Only a very small number of religions have ever said there is “One True God.”

    Almost every religion that ever existed had unlimited numbers of gods. So your argument is completely worthless.

  248. hardnose says:

    Sophie, you are thinking too hard. Your brain is going to wear out.

  249. Pete A says:

    trumpproctor,

    The reason that Dr Egnor doesn’t promote Islam is, I think, for the same (or a very similar) reason why I do not promote Islam. However, I decided many years ago to finally stop promoting, and believing in, the Christianity with which I was indoctrinated during my childhood, for the very same reason that I neither promoted nor believed the plethora of other religions — their dire lack of sufficient evidence.

  250. Pete A says:

    hardnose,

    I agree. In fact [i.e. using facts], all arguments about gods are completely worthless in this 21st Century.

  251. chikoppi says:

    [hardnose] God and Jesus are two completely separate concepts…

    Not in Christianity, which is the relevant paradigm for this thread.

  252. RickK says:

    hardnose said: “God and Jesus are two completely separate concepts, but atheists love to pretend they are they same thing.”

    Ok, hardnose, I’ll bite. Every Christian I know is quite sure Jesus was God manifest in flesh – that God and Jesus are the same. I believe the Catholics in particular have spent a fair amount of time working this out (google “Trinity”).

    So on what basis do you say God and Jesus are separate concepts? And how did you come to the conclusion that it is atheists who think they are the same?

    I REALLY want to understand your thinking on this topic.

  253. RickK says:

    tp said: “Christians will try to give you “evidence” all day long”

    Precisely. But the quality of the evidence is inferior to, for example, the quality of the evidence for alien visitation, the Hindu Milk Miracle,or the power of psychics. That’s the problem.

    Egnor keeps raising Aquinas, but if you look at those carefully, they only work if you’ve already decided there is a single, intelligent, creator god, and that it is the same as the god of Moses. In other words, “first take a leap of faith, then follow my logic”.

    That’s why the modern day brilliant thinkers at the Aquinas level aren’t spending their time trying to logic God into existence. They’re absorbing and chasing unprecedented lines of evidence to find some real answers.

    Alas, the evidence doesn’t appear to promote Man’s prominence in the universe, so Michael prefers to anchor his world view back in the geocentric days.

  254. Pete A says:

    RickK,

    P1: God exists.
    P2: Aquinas et al. provided philosophy to support P1.
    Conclusions: God exists; and Aquinas et al. were correct.

    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Thomas_Aquinas

  255. hardnose says:

    “all arguments about gods are completely worthless in this 21st Century.”

    What happened in the 21st century to cause that?

  256. hardnose says:

    “Every Christian I know is quite sure Jesus was God manifest in flesh – that God and Jesus are the same. I believe the Catholics in particular have spent a fair amount of time working this out (google “Trinity”).

    So on what basis do you say God and Jesus are separate concepts? And how did you come to the conclusion that it is atheists who think they are the same?”

    If you think religion and Christianity are the same thing, then you would be confused about this.

  257. hardnose says:

    “God and Jesus are two completely separate concepts…”

    “Not in Christianity, which is the relevant paradigm for this thread.”

    So … if the blog author mistakenly believes something, then we have to mistakenly believe it also?

  258. Sophie says:

    Hardnose,

    These nits you keep picking at are insignificant. Almost everything Egnor has contributed to this discussion is just flat out wrong. He has his own language and definitions. When presented with the actual meaning of a word he just persists down his path. He can’t learn and move on. He will just use the Egnor Evasion and move onto a new topic and then a few hours later he will eventually cycle back to his previously debunked arguments.

    He has definitions for the following words that are inconsistent with the actual definition: truth, teleology, purpose, cause, historicity, history, faith etc.

    He couldn’t even correctly define teleological claims yesterday. He neither mentioned the modern concept nor the classical Aquinas version.

    That’s just the language of his work, the actual content, like arguments and basic claims are all deeply flawed. He uses self victimization to present himself as a martyr. His writing is filled with fallacious logic. He can never actually sit and hash something out he just runs onto the next stupid thing when people try to discuss something.

    All you need to defeat Egnor is google. This is the 21st century after all, never waste your time arguing about something that can be googled in a few seconds. Like the definition of the word faith. Or the meaning of teleology. It’s foolish.

    P.s. Still waiting on the teleology argument for the ultimate purpose of cellulose and other molecules.

  259. Pete A says:

    “What happened in the 21st century to cause that?”

    You 🙂

  260. Pete A says:

    “[Sophie to Hardnose] P.s. Still waiting on the teleology argument for the ultimate purpose of cellulose and other molecules.”

    To which I’ll add: I am very interested to also learn the teleological argument for the ultimate purpose of silicon — especially because all of the commentators on this blog are totally relying on silicon while writing then posting their comments.

  261. Sophie says:

    Haha yeah silicon is a good one too. I like cellulose more, personally just to mess with Egnor.

    Clearly it’s for plant cells. But it’s also used to make the paper to print the Bible on. And the Cross Jesus was crucified on.

    So which is it? Or do things have many purposes depending on how you chose to look at them?

    Clearly it’s multiple purposes, and highly dependent on defintions, reference frame and perspective. Even if you have the same definition and reference frame for observing an atom, a chemist and a physicist will tell you different things about atoms.

    —-
    All of this speaks to a greater problem with Egnor’s arguments. He believes in simplifying things to these hardcore objective points. Everything is so simple to understand. Hearts are clearly just for pumping blood, that’s their purpose. Done deal. Easy peezy.

    You just have to ignore every other definition, reference frame and perspective. Teleology is like saying a knife’s purpose is to cut. But you can also use a knife to threaten, to pick your teeth, as a screwdriver, to hold a door open, to stick a sheet of paper to a wall, etc.

    Hearts do many things too. They can’t pump blood without a complex support system. Blood is just one type of input and output. The heart also communicates with the brain through nerves. It’s a mini factory that processes lipids/glucose. It’s atoms if you ask an atomic physicist to have a look with an electron microscope.

    Egnor believes in one objective view point to look at things. He thinks his god has this correct perspective. The problem is that no hyperintelligent God would agree that the ultimate purpose of a heart is to pump blood. No semi smart human would say that either. Hearts do many things.

  262. Pete A says:

    Sophie,

    In my humble opinion, your comment above on 29 Apr 2017 at 2:15 am “About purpose, …” is excellent in many ways.

    My areas of expertise are in only a very few branches of applied science which are rarely relevant to Dr Novella’s articles. However, many of Dr Novella’s articles are highly relevant to me on a deeply personal level.

    I’m sincerely sorry for sometimes coming across as being an obnoxious troll.

    Best wishes,
    Pete

  263. RickK says:

    hn said: “If you think religion and Christianity are the same thing, then you would be confused about this.”

    *sigh* A non-answer dodge. Why did I bother?

  264. Sophie says:

    If hearts solely existed just to pump blood, like the heart in my chest is pumping right now, then evolution is literally impossible. The heart in my chest appears to just pump blood, to a naive neurosurgeon. But it’s a structure that evolved from something else that didn’t exist just to pump blood. At some point in our evolutionary history, hearts didn’t exist. They slowly emerged out of structures that served different anatomical purposes.

    https://biology.stackexchange.com/questions/49209/how-did-the-cardiovascular-system-evolve

    I don’t know how legit this is, but the earthworm hearts seem like a good place to start examining this issue.

  265. Sophie says:

    Pete,
    “In my humble opinion, your comment above on 29 Apr 2017 at 2:15 am “About purpose, …” is excellent in many ways.”
    Hey thanks, I tried really hard lol.

  266. chikoppi says:

    [hardnose] “God and Jesus are two completely separate concepts…”

    [Chikoppi] “Not in Christianity, which is the relevant paradigm for this thread.”

    [hardnose] “So … if the blog author mistakenly believes something, then we have to mistakenly believe it also?”

    What?! This post is about the historicity of the person referred to as Jesus that appears in the New Testament. That’s not opinion and there’s nothing to be mistaken about. That is the context.

  267. cameronreilly says:

    We’re actually making a documentary about this subject at the moment. We’re going to be interviewing a range of biblical, new testament and religious scholars, with an even split between believers, historicists and mythicists, to allow them to make their arguments for the historicity of Jesus. But that’s only one part of the film. We’re also going to be examining the split between Paul and the Judaizers and the lost versions of early Christianity. If you’re interested in the subject, check out http://deepdivedocumentaries.com

  268. hardnose says:

    Sophie,

    “Almost everything Egnor has contributed to this discussion is just flat out wrong.”

    Yeah, so … ? I don’t even read Egnor’s comments, since most of what he says usually seems like nonsense to me. So I can’t understand why you are telling ME that Egnor is wrong?

  269. hardnose says:

    “P.s. Still waiting on the teleology argument for the ultimate purpose of cellulose and other molecules.”

    I never saw where anyone asked me that. And I don’t know why you would expect me to know.

  270. BillyJoe7 says:

    ^ hint: the question is sort of rhetorical. 😉

  271. GingTho says:

    Michael Egnor wrote:
    “The irony here is that of all of the commentors, I’m the one who maintains an open mind…”

    Here’s a lesson on ‘Open Mindedness’. In this video, you are the equivalent of QualiaSoup’s neighbour who thinks the lampshade is being moved by ghosts (54 seconds in):
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T69TOuqaqXI

  272. GingTho says:

    Michael Egnore wrote:
    “So defensive… I think I hit a nerve. Of course atheism is a faith perspective, in the sense that it is belief in the truth of a proposition (“There is no God…”)… ”

    And there you have it, all the arguments people have had with M.E. on this blog have been useless/worthless because he has finally admitted that he DOES NOT KNOW/UNDERSTAND what an atheist is.

    Michael, again…

    An atheist does NOT believe “There is no god”.

    An athiest does NOT believe “There is a god”.

    After all this time arguing, you still do NOT understand the difference in those 2 statements.

    Sigh.

  273. GHL says:

    ME
    Seeing as the Anglican Communion is a place where we try to live out a “broad church”, my theology as it stands does not define the denomination. More importantly you don’t seem to understand my distinction between academically valid arguments and statements and my faith, the article we are commenting on is about the former. My belief on this matter is irrelevant, it’s like asking me about my position on Architectural Aesthetics when the topic is the best material for constructing scaffolds.
    Hopefully this explains the actual definition of atheism in another way for you: A theist comes to a person and says “I believe in [insert faith here], here is why…..” The person they were just talking to is an Atheist if they reply with “I’m not convinced so I will not add this belief you have just communicated to my own set of beliefs.” End of discussion.

    Bachfiend
    My problem is that you are describing your scenario as the most plausible when it doesn’t match the evidence and what we know of the culture/people in question. If you want to consider the likely sects that may have arisen from this people during this time then look at the ones we know about, such as the Zealots and the Essenes. As well as the above I believe the most important thing you must address is that the theology of the nascent Christian faith progressed from low Christologies to high Christologies, not the other way around. This is not what would be expected in your scenario of starting with a mystical cult that held to a cosmic Christ-figure which was brought down to Earth when they began to split away.

    BillyJoe7
    I think you may be fundamentally misunderstanding the purpose of the love your enemy teaching, at least from my perspective the act of loving your “enemy” negates the violent conflict of such a relationship. Essentially the “enemy” is drawn into your heart to disempower the fear of otherness. In addition to this I don’t see Atheists as my enemy in the first place, I lived in that identity myself and so respect and recognise what you are on your terms, you are not “other” to me. My love for you comes out of my faith that fundamentally the violence of the world will end and to bring this about requires living as though that end is already real, the essential dialectic of a kingdom that is both here and not yet.
    I should make a note also about your comments that the Jesus that most Christians believe in. First, Christians are not a single homogenous group and belief and theologies vary, in a way this is built-in to the faith because attempts to create a single Gospel with all the differences ironed out were resisted, leaving us with four different Gospels with different ideas about how exactly things happened and what was the most important aspect of Jesus’ ministry. Second, the Christ that is believed in and the Jesus that can be demonstrated historically are two different concepts, a semi-related point is that even fictional characters (that are conceptualised as fictional in the mind) can have real relational and meaningful impacts on lives that should not be rejected.
    The next thing I should mention is that even from the perspective of atheism it is a poor analysis that labels gods and religions as failed explanations, the primary function of a religion from a sociological or anthropological perspective is not to explain how the world came to be, this feature is merely a natural progression from its other functions and where they cause religion to be situated in the communities/cultures that hold them.
    Last I would recommend to you that if you only read and learn about science and then other things only when they are a part of science you are leaving yourself intellectually impoverished. Theology is a complex discipline and you should know more about it even if it’s to just talk about it from an informed perspective. Your position on Philosophy is so wrongheaded I would just entreat you to again just get informed about what it is, I mean for crying out loud so much of what we are doing here in this comments section relies on philosophy you should not remain wilfully ignorant.

    Sophie.
    I thank you for the thought you put into your commentary and discussion, I think some of the disagreements on this page may stem from your expertise and field. This of course is just an assumption and please correct me if I’m wrong. My concern is with your selection of words in addressing certain details, you have mentioned fabrications and errors multiple times and while errors are a real issue that can be applied here the other word should not. Fabrication implies intentional deception in this context and it is a fundamental mischaracterisation of the kind of storytelling we are dealing with. The people that lived in this context conceived of a world in which the supernatural was the natural, when a person was important of course they had a wondrous birth, signs were real in their world and were assumed. The birth narrative of Jesus was as much about things that could have been assumed to have happened as they were a way to say “hey! This person is important, pay attention to what I’m about to tell you of their life”.
    I’m afraid I started to ramble there but hey I’m happy to clarify anything that I didn’t state well.

    A general comment on the Gospels is that they aren’t biographies, especially not in the way we conceptualise them from a modern perspective. Maybe think of them as biographies re-written as arguments or evangelism, to let one of the Gospels speak for itself it was written “so that you may believe.” Not so that you may have an impartial summation of a human being’s chronologically experienced events.

  274. GHL says:

    BillyJoe7, to reiterate the importance of Philosophy I would remind you that skepticism is Philosophy, put roughly is can be considered a philosophical approach that uses the knowledge set derived from scientific enquiry. Skepticism doesn’t “do” science, it uses it. Look at the first sentence on the wikipedia page for formal logical fallacies:

    “In philosophy, a formal fallacy (also called deductive fallacy) is a pattern of reasoning rendered invalid by a flaw in its logical structure that can neatly be expressed in a standard logic system, for example propositional logic.[1]”

    The definition of informal logical fallacies then proceeds from this context.

    If you understood what Philosophy is then you would know the above, please learn about philosophy in general, you will be so much better equipped and informed.

  275. Sophie says:

    GHL,

    Fabrication implies intentional deception in this context and it is a fundamental mischaracterisation of the kind of storytelling we are dealing with. The people that lived in this context conceived of a world in which the supernatural was the natural, when a person was important of course they had a wondrous birth, signs were real in their world and were assumed. The birth narrative of Jesus was as much about things that could have been assumed to have happened as they were a way to say “hey! This person is important, pay attention to what I’m about to tell you of their life”.

    The situation you are describing is just a cultural difference. You are using these cultural differences to justify, what is by definition, a fabrication. The word means to invent something, make something up, lie etc. I know I frequently complain about oversimplification, but this issue really is black and white. Either elements of the New Testament were invented by the authors or they were not and they are authentic. Whether the details were added due to culturally-inspired effects, or a deliberate want to mislead someone, is irrelevant to the issue of fabrication. Truth or fiction is what we are talking about not innocence or guilt.

    For example, did Catherine the Great really die while trying to lay with a horse?
    http://www.snopes.com/risque/animals/catherine.asp

    It’s a myth so persistent it’s mentioned in smart-acting science-inspired modern tv shows like the Big Bang theory. It’s not true though. It’s a fabricated detail of history.

    Yes clearly the story about Catherine and the horse also has a historical justification and explanation. Her enemies, normal averagely sexist people at the time and others, wanted to take her down a peg. They wanted to explain away this anomalous leader. It’s like the pamphlets circulated about Marie Antoinette in her time. Or the “let them eat cake,” quote. Which was probably not something she said.
    https://www.britannica.com/demystified/did-marie-antoinette-really-say-let-them-eat-cake

    There is plenty of evidence that the authors of the Bible fabricated details. It’s just a question of how much of the rest was also fabricated. As a Christian, if you concede any of the points that show errors and fabrications, you are losing tremendous ground in this battle. The Bible was classically thought as the word of god, and many today still think it is perfect. How can a book that’s the word of an infallible god have mistakes in it? How can it have fabricated details?

    Along with losing tremendous ground, you also open the door to other challenges. What if it doesn’t stop here, with the Nazareth story? What if Jesus was born from a totally normal mother, the product of conventional reproduction? You yourself admitted that the authors made up details because great people must have great origins. So are you openly admitting that Mary wasn’t a virgin? That goes against many doctrines.

    This is also just an example of that fallacy found in many grand conspiracies. Like the JFK assassination. Great events must have great causes. It couldn’t just be some lone gunman, to take down the leader of the freeworld, it has to be a big conspiracy.

    Lone gunmen certainly do exist, and are sometimes motivated by the slightest things or by nothing really. Some analysts have described some mass shooters as grudge collectors. They remember and make note of every time someone insults them or accidentally bumps into them in a hallway. I think psychologists would describe this as an obsessive thing a problem with psychological rumination perhaps. Either way, a shooter can be pushed to premeditate a horrific act by almost nothing. Or less carefully by an emotional grievance, an impulsive decision and some access to firearms… We just don’t know exactly. But we love to connect it to something huge. Like gun control laws, violent video games, movies, music etc. The sandy hook shooting conspiracy people are say that it was all just a trick so that Obama could justify passing a tougher gun control law. It couldn’t just have been an ordinary run of the mill cause.

    Jesus was great, so apparently everything else about his life has to be great too. We know that throughout history different cultures fabricated details. So did a star really guide the three magi to his birth? Wait, magi? Aren’t those important great people? Why did Matthew include those details? Was it to embellish and aggrandize the story of the birth of Jesus? Did he literally perform actual miracles, or was that added too? Was he literally the son of god, or was that added?

  276. Pete A says:

    “[GHL] …the primary function of a religion from a sociological or anthropological perspective is not to explain how the world came to be…”

    Yet the first book of the Hebrew Bible is the Book of Genesis — which you may have noticed contains some glaring errors and contradictions!

  277. BillyJoe7 says:

    GHL,

    If you mean “understand your enemy” then just say so instead of inappropriately using the word “love”. And you might someday have to resort to violence if that is what your enemy intends for you despite your best efforts to pursuade him otherwise.

    And, if you don’t see atheists as the enemy then far be it for me to pursuade you otherwise and point to the bricks about to fall on your head. There is a fundamental conflict between science and religion. Science is the enemy of religion. And religion is the enemy of science. And if you try to restrict my freedom with you religious belief, get ready for war, because regardless of whether or not you see me as an enemy, you will certainly be mine.

    As for your “my love for you”: [expletive deleted] you, you don’t even know me. You have no [expletive deleted] right to to make a statement like that. I throw that back in your face with all the force I can muster. I know it’s difficult for a religious person to be honest, but let’s just may an exception here shall we. [expletive deleted] take that back.

    And please do not misquote me. I said “gods are non-explanations”. And that’s exactly what they are. Anything that is a mystery is supposedly an act by some god. And the roles of these gods are shrinking as we speak. With every advance in science those gods are disappearing before our eyes. The “other functions” of religion are to suppress the common man with bullshit about good and evil, heaven and hell, fire and brimstone; and to empower those who rule over them. It’s nothing but deceit even when perpetrated by those who are self-deceived.

    You’ve left the best for last. Let me get this straight: I’m impoverished for not reading any books on theology. You are kidding, right? I mean you really do have to be kidding! Life is too short. As someone said above, theology has no subject. I’d rather read a book on faeries!

    And, yes, we are using philosophy in this comments section. But some of us base our philosophy on science and use philosophy to search for and answer questions scientifically. The others use philosophy to masturbate. I mean, enjoy yourself, but don’t expect me to take your example. I prefer the real thing. What is called “armchair philosophy” is what I’m arguing against. It is a complete waste of everyone’s time. But, you know, if it rocks your boat, go for it but, please, let me pick my own hobbies.

  278. JonGrant says:

    With no contemporary accounts of Jesus’ life, I don’t see how you can claim with any certainty that Jesus was a real person. What people seem to mention most often as proof, Josephus’ Testimonium Flavianum, appears to be a scribal insertion to the text, and was written in about 93CE by a man not even born when Jesus supposedly lived. If all of the supernatural events written in the bible were historical, and Jesus accumulated the following he supposedly did, how can there be such silence in contemporary records.

  279. JJ Borgman says:

    BJ7,

    Gave me goosebumps. I thought it; you wrote it.

  280. RickK says:

    GHL said: “The next thing I should mention is that even from the perspective of atheism it is a poor analysis that labels gods and religions as failed explanations, the primary function of a religion from a sociological or anthropological perspective is not to explain how the world came to be.”

    You’re saying this to a group of people who interact with Young Earth Creationists and Ideological Design proponents daily. Michael Egnor writes regularly and is a senior member of an organization dedicated to eroding the teaching of evolution in favor of a theistic, designer/creator view of how life started and developed. I and others on this blog give money and effort regularly to the NCSE, which is fighting anti-evolution legislation in multiple U.S. states every year.

    And yet every single divine/supernatural explanation for ANYTHING in nature has either failed outright (been overturned, disproved, or otherwise destroyed by the evidence), or lacks sufficient evidence to prove one way or another. After millennia of study and searching, there is not a single example of any event in nature that definitively had a supernatural cause. From angry goddesses causing volcanoes to erupt, to women’s exposed flesh causing earthquakes, to divine possession causing mental illness, to God creating all the animals a few thousand years ago, to psychics bending mental with their minds – it has unquestionably been a long, sad track record of undeniable, unremitting failure.

    Yes, gods and religion provide a comforting or “sufficiently satisfying” explanation when a better explanation is unavailable or too difficult to grasp. When something good happens, it feels better to give it a reason and a face and call it a miracle.

    But is that really an explanation? Or is it just a re-branding of ignorance? And by labeling that ignorance “faith” and giving it the authority of an invented “god”, aren’t we simply giving power and prestige to ignorance?

    And now that prestige has grown to the point where leaders in our government are certain that we don’t have to take collective action on climate or pollution or fresh water because they have faith that God will protect us.

    So people DO use gods to explain the workings of the world – they do it daily. And they use them to justify not taking the time to learn the real answers. But repackaging ignorance into a shiny mythology is like repackaging bad mortgages into a CDO security. Do it enough, sell it enough, put enough distance between people’s understanding and reality, and the system collapses.

  281. michaelegnor says:

    GHL:

    [Seeing as the Anglican Communion is a place where we try to live out a “broad church”, my theology as it stands does not define the denomination. More importantly you don’t seem to understand my distinction between academically valid arguments and statements and my faith…]

    I asked you if you believe Jesus was resurrected. In reply, you give gibberish, which means that you don’t believe in the Resurrection.

    You’re well on your way to Anglican ordination.

  282. michaelegnor says:

    GHL:

    And Anglican heresy (and the like) is a few circles deeper in Hell than atheism. At least atheists generally have the courage of their convictions, and don’t draw souls away from Christ by pretending to be Christians.

  283. michaelegnor says:

    BJ:

    [And, if you don’t see atheists as the enemy then far be it for me to pursuade you otherwise and point to the bricks about to fall on your head. There is a fundamental conflict between science and religion. Science is the enemy of religion. And religion is the enemy of science. And if you try to restrict my freedom with you religious belief…]

    Don’t worry, BJ. Anglican “priest” GHL is on your side, and is doing far more to advance atheism than all of you officially atheist cretins put together.

    You should be raining medals on his head, not bricks.

  284. michaelegnor says:

    JJ:

    [BJ:…Gave me goosebumps. I thought it; you wrote it.]

    Get a room, boys…

  285. Sophie says:

    Michael Egnor,

    And Anglican heresy (and the like) is a few circles deeper in Hell than atheism. At least atheists generally have the courage of their convictions, and don’t draw souls away from Christ by pretending to be Christians.

    … uh okay. At least we don’t use illogical teleological arguments from centuries past, written by someone so unoriginal everything they wrote was just ripped off from Aristotle manuscripts. All he did was insert god into Aristotle’s philosophy. Which led to so many tragic consequences like witchhunts for centuries afterwards.

    Your intellectual hero Aquinas, has actual blood on his hands and a misogynistic legacy that influenced prejudicial actions and subjugation of others for centuries afterward. It also just so happens that everything he actually wrote has no merit. It’s of use to absolutely no one today. It didn’t provide testable predictions and subsequent work in the related fields disproved many of his ridiculous arguments.
    This is some garbage you wrote on your blog:

    That’s true. When you toss the coin, it lands on one side or the other, roughly 50/50. The fact that it lands on one side or another and that it falls in a gravitational field is a manifestation of teleology, and evidence for God. What then would not be evidence for God? If the coin randomly went up instead of down, or turned into a lute, or began shooting purple laser beams at Mars, without rhyme or reason.
    The simplest consistencies in nature– a coin dropped falls to the ground and lands on one side or the other– is proof of God’s existence via the Teleological Proof.

    This is some of worst crap I have ever read in my entire life, Aristotle would smack you. If Aquinas led you to these conclusions you need to go check out some modern work in these areas.

    P.S. what’s the purpose of cellulose?

  286. michaelegnor says:

    Sophie-the-SJW:

    [Your intellectual hero Aquinas, has actual blood on his hands and a misogynistic legacy that influenced prejudicial actions and subjugation of others for centuries afterward.]

    Sounds like you need a safe space to protect you from Thomist microagressions, buttercup.

    I love SJW’s.

    [This is some of worst crap I have ever read in my entire life…]

    You need to read more widely.

    [P.S. what’s the purpose of cellulose?]

    Purpose of cellulose: to provide uneducated SJW’s with grist for clueless combox questions.

    As for the modern relevance of Aquinas, it seems that his “misogyny” was a pretty accurate premonition of the feminist movement.

  287. Sophie says:

    Egnor,
    Bring it on you coward. Scroll up. Go read where I and others, explained in detail how teleology is a joke. Go check it out.

    Aquinas believed in witches and literal demons. Sorry that we don’t also believe his arguments for the existence of god.

  288. RickK says:

    “And Anglican heresy (and the like) is a few circles deeper in Hell than atheism.”

    Wow – Michael, when you play Crusade dress-up, what color is your tabard?

  289. Sophie says:

    Aquinas believed in the death penalty for heretics.
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thought_of_Thomas_Aquinas#Death_penalty
    I’m a heretic. Should I be put to death?

  290. michaelegnor says:

    [Aquinas believed in witches and literal demons.]

    I believe in demons (literate ones!). I wasn’t sure about witches, until I met feminists.

  291. michaelegnor says:

    [Wow – Michael, when you play Crusade dress-up, what color is your tabard?]

    Ricky:When I play Crusades, it’s against Muslims, not Anglicans.

    I play 30 Years War against Anglicans.

    I wear white, because we’re the good guys.

  292. Sophie says:

    Keep punching. You are definitely still in this fight, not just running away like a coward.

    Please tell me what is the purpose of cellulose? Give me the teleological argument for it. Let’s do this.

  293. michaelegnor says:

    Sophie:

    [I’m a heretic. Should I be put to death?]

    Not prematurely or unnaturally. But we all die eventually, sadly.

    The key is what happens after we die.

  294. Sophie says:

    No the key is your intellectual hero wrote extensively on the topic of killing heretics. He totally believed that atheists like me should be put to death. This wasn’t a brilliant visionary. This was an average religious fanatic writing average mainstream things for his culture.

    Tell me what’s the purpose, teleologically, of cellulose or collagen? A heart is for pumping blood right? What’s cellulose or collagen’s ultimate purpose.

    Tell me coward.

  295. michaelegnor says:

    Sophie,

    [Please tell me what is the purpose of cellulose? Give me the teleological argument for it. Let’s do this.]

    You need to bone up on your hylomorphic metaphysics. Teleology is final cause; it is one of Aristotle’s four causes, which include material cause, efficient cause, formal cause and final cause.

    In the natural inanimate order, final cause is generally the same as formal cause. The final/formal cause of a lump of cellulose is to have the intelligible properties that make it a lump of cellulose (its molecular structure, its weight, its shape, its color, its uses in nature, etc).

    The concept of “purpose” in teleology begins to have salience when applied to living things and to artifacts produced by minds. If cellulose were supporting the stem of a plant, the purpose of the cellulose is to support the stem of the plant. If cellulose were manufactured artificially for sale, the purpose of the cellulose would be to be sold.

    Purpose applies to some kinds of teleology. Other kinds of teleology, such as that in the inanimate world, are identical to form of the object.

    Of course, if you studied Aquinas, you’d know all that.

  296. michaelegnor says:

    Sophie:

    [Tell me coward.]

    Nothing frightens me more than a poorly educated SJW.

  297. Sophie says:

    So the purpose of a heart isn’t to pump blood by your own hollow logic? Because it’s not a final cause.

    The heart’s ultimate purpose would be to keep humans Alive, so they could be good Christians, and get to heaven. So hearts exist so people can go to heaven?

    But everything you just said is in direct contradiction to all your other comments insisting that hearts only have one purpose to pump blood.

  298. michaelegnor says:

    By the way, atheists (and that means you too, GHL!), there’s a great book coming out from Ed Feser:

    http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2017/04/five-proofs-preview.html#more

    Feser forgets more about logic, reason and philosophy every minute than you atheist dolts have learned in a lifetime.

    You can add his tome to your book-burning bonfire.

  299. Sophie says:

    So you use purpose-driven arguments when they suit you and run away and deny when they get knocked down.

  300. Sophie says:

    You are a total fake.

  301. michaelegnor says:

    [So the purpose of a heart isn’t to pump blood by your own hollow logic? Because it’s not a final cause.]

    Pumping blood is an aspect of the final cause of the heart. It’s its purpose.

    The formal cause is the structure that facilitates its purpose–the muscle cells, the conducting system, the valves, ventricles, atria, etc.

    The efficient cause is the embryological process that gives rise to it.

    The material cause is the protoplasm (protein, lipids, etc) that comprise the organ.

    See, Sophie, metaphysics is not hard, nor mysogynistic.

  302. Pete A says:

    “The key is what happens after we die.”

    Burial or cremation were the only choices I was given on the form.

  303. Sophie says:

    Hey I can scroll up, I can see what you said. I also have some limited capacity to remember previous comments.

    You literally said that a coin falling to the ground is a teleological proof for the existence of god. And that hearts only pump blood. Now here you are pretending the past didn’t happen.

  304. michaelegnor says:

    [He totally believed that atheists like me should be put to death.]

    Actually, the death penalty in the middle ages was reserved for heretics.

    Atheist were, almost without exception, left alone. They were considered insane, and proper objects of pity, not punishment.

    The medievals were pretty sensible folks, generally. They certainly got atheists right, although perhaps the French Revolution and the Communist filth that ensued could have been prevented by a few auto-de-fe’s.

    The late medievals underestimated atheists, and got the Reign of Terror and the Holodomor as a consequence. Too bad atheists weren’t dealt with more decisively before all of that.

  305. michaelegnor says:

    [You literally said that a coin falling to the ground is a teleological proof for the existence of god. And that hearts only pump blood. Now here you are pretending the past didn’t happen.]

    Any teleology is proof of God’s existence. Directed-ness in nature, such as that described by the ‘laws of physics’, presupposes an intellect to direct it. Coins don’t know about Newton’s Law of Gravitation, and electrons don’t know quantum mechanics. Yet they move in strict accordance with physical laws.

    Laws presuppose a Law-giver.

    Aquinas’ Fifth Way.

  306. Sophie says:

    Egnor,

    [He totally believed that atheists like me should be put to death.]

    Actually, the death penalty in the middle ages was reserved for heretics.

    http://www.dictionary.com/browse/heretic

    Once again all we need to defeat Egnor is google. Heretic includes atheists dumbass. It also included people like Galileo who were charged with it for making basic observations about the natural world . And people Giordano Bruno who were burnt at the stake for it.

  307. michaelegnor says:

    Pete (or is it Peat):

    [Burial or cremation were the only choices I was given on the form.]

    Brace yourself for a surprise.

  308. michaelegnor says:

    Sophie:

    Heresy is unorthodox religious belief. If you agree that atheism is a religion, I’m ok with that.

  309. michaelegnor says:

    [The heart’s ultimate purpose would be to keep humans Alive, so they could be good Christians, and get to heaven.]

    Actually, Sophie, you’ve stumbled on a truth.

    Final cause exists on a hierarchy of levels.

    The ultimate final cause of each human life is to know and love God.

    Straight out of Aquinas.

  310. Pete A says:

    “Brace yourself for a surprise.”

    I’ve used that phase a few times over the years 🙂

  311. Sophie says:

    Michael Egnor,

    Any teleology is proof of God’s existence. Directed-ness in nature, such as that described by the ‘laws of physics’, presupposes an intellect to direct it. Coins don’t know about Newton’s Law of Gravitation, and electrons don’t know quantum mechanics. Yet they move in strict accordance with physical laws.

    And you haven’t taken a modern philosophy class at the college level. You are unaware of basic concepts and definitions of words. Like for example why is Aquinas’ Fifth way not taught today as a central component of metaphysics? Are all modern metaphysicians just stupid heretics? Is modern metaphysics a tool to lead souls to hell?

    Coins fall to the earth just because. By assuming they fall to the earth because god created everything including gravitational fields, you are adding unnecessary assumptions.

    We actually don’t need to assume god for everything to work the way it currently does. Gravitational laws don’t have a variable for god.

    Saying that electrons follow strict laws is pretty ignorant. The whole entire point of quantum mechanics is that particles like electrons don’t follow strict classical laws of physics and motion. Quantum mechanics allows for things to pop into and out of existence, randomly for no reason. Causation, a central theme to your bullshit arguments, doesn’t behave the same way in quantum mechanics because time doesn’t work the same way.

    Without Aquinas’ naive prescientific understanding of causation, your teleological arguments are all wrong. Every time you right the word ’cause’ you are proving how wrong everything you have to say is. Read em and weep.
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Causality_(physics)

  312. chikoppi says:

    And Anglican heresy (and the like) is a few circles deeper in Hell than atheism. At least atheists generally have the courage of their convictions, and don’t draw souls away from Christ by pretending to be Christians.

    Totally not a thing a fundamentalist would say. Totally.

    Also, I’d like to apologize on behalf of Catholics, as many of the priests, scholars, missionaries, and laypeople I have known would be appalled to think they are being so represented. Please don’t read the comments of a single individual as being indicative of the broader community.

  313. michaelegnor says:

    [Are all modern metaphysicians just stupid heretics? Is modern metaphysics a tool to lead souls to hell?]

    Yea, and yea.

    [Coins fall to the earth just because.]

    Like, totally.

    Puts the “stupid” in “stupid heretics”.

  314. michaelegnor says:

    chi:

    [I’d like to apologize on behalf of Catholics, as many of the priests, scholars, missionaries, and laypeople I have known would be appalled to think they are being so represented.]

    Right. Perhaps apologies are in order. Why would a Catholic presume that denial of the Resurrection by an ordained priest would a problem at the Final Judgement?

  315. chikoppi says:

    [michaelegnor] Any teleology is proof of God’s existence. Directed-ness in nature, such as that described by the ‘laws of physics’, presupposes an intellect to direct it. Coins don’t know about Newton’s Law of Gravitation, and electrons don’t know quantum mechanics. Yet they move in strict accordance with physical laws. Laws presuppose a Law-giver. Aquinas’ Fifth Way.

    They don’t move in accordance to these “laws.” They emerge as a result of these “laws.” And no, higher order is not necessary to produce lower order. The opposite is true. Complexity, and the laws that govern it, arises from the entropy of lower order systems. A few extraordinarily basic rules produce increasingly complex systems as the magnitude of coarseness increases. Intelligence is one possible result. It is neither a necessary premise nor conclusion.

    Everything must exist for the purpose of humanity, there again is teleology laid-bare. Start with the result and reason backward assuming that everything is necessary to produce just that and only that result. There very easily could have been, and may yet be, a universe that spins on without humanity. We may ultimately be no more important to “god’s plan” than are the bacteria in our guts.

    The puddle perfectly fits the hole it resides in, therefore the hole must have been designed with that purpose in mind.

  316. bachfiend says:

    Golly, Michael Egnor has completely lost his marbles, revealing what an absolutely nasty piece of work he actually is, engaging repeatedly in the Egnor Evasion, and now that he’s realised that he’s lost the argument is resorting to abuse.

    I’m not surprised he’s now boosting his favourite theologian, Ed Feser with his new upcoming book on Aquinas. I find it revealing that Ed Feser has to preview it, not anyone reputable.

    As a philosopher, Ed Feser is a joke. I don’t think I’ll be bothering with his book. At most I might read the Amazon sample if it’s released as a Kindle for some light relief.

    If Aquinas ‘proof’ of the existence of God was convincing as a valid philosophical argument, then why hasn’t it convinced philosophers, instead of a majority of philosophers being atheist or at least agnostic.?

    Aquinas’ ‘proofs’ were constructed to give believers the impression that there was some foundation to belief not to confirm the belief.

  317. RickK says:

    GHL: “It is unfortunate that the loudest voices tend to be of the Egnor variety when the vast majority of Christians are actually not fundamentalist evangelicals.”

    Egnor: “I guess I am an evangelical, in a sense, but I’m anything but a fundamentalist, which refers to a particular strain of Protestantism that we Catholics have been battling for a century.”

    RickK: “Michael is a fundamentalist. it’s not a term limited to protestants, muslims and Hindus. When your faith is so extreme that you devote your energies to attacking any evidence that contradicts your religious or tribal beliefs, and when you are completely certain that your tribe/race/gender is superior to all others. That’s fundamentalism.”

    Egnor: “And Anglican heresy (and the like) is a few circles deeper in Hell than atheism. At least atheists generally have the courage of their convictions, and don’t draw souls away from Christ by pretending to be Christians.”

    chikoppi: “Totally not a thing a fundamentalist would say. Totally.”

    Nice and tidy.

    Thank you Michael.

  318. Willy says:

    Good grief! Dr. Egnor is on a roll! We’re all going to Hell, but, hey, I just might not be as bad off as an Anglican! It isn’t much of a stroll from Dr. Egnor’s position to that of the Westboro Baptists.

    Dr. Egnor: Doesn’t the idea that one’s eternal situation relies on “faith”–which is to say that one’s salvation is an accident of birth location, social situation, and genes–give you just a wee bit of pause?

    Look at the splendor of the universe. How can you believe it all sprang from the “mind” of the all-too human, petty little tyrant of the Bible?

  319. chikoppi says:

    [michaelegnor] Right. Perhaps apologies are in order. Why would a Catholic presume that denial of the Resurrection by an ordained priest would a problem at the Final Judgement?

    Maybe I missed the ninth Beatitude, “blessed are the sanctimonious and vitriolic, for by their works will the church and gospel of Christ become known.”

    Sorry, but your rhetoric of condemnation and exclusion doesn’t represent the Catholics I know. If I hadn’t been informed otherwise I would have pegged you as a Pentecostal or Seventh Day Adventist.

  320. Willy says:

    And I’ve just gotta ask, Dr. Egnor, since the “Rev” Moon claimed to be the second coming of Christ, have you bothered to inform Jonathan Wells in what level of Hell he will reside?

  321. Sophie says:

    Chikoppi,

    Not all Catholics think that Anglicans belong in a lower circle in hell than atheists. In fact the new pope has recently reached out to an orthodox pope, a leader of a different system of Christianity with different beliefs. Much like Anglicanism.

    Prayers for the unity of all of the different denominations are held everyday in the Vatican. In fact I would bet that Egnor has been in a church and heard a priest call for the unification of other denominations and not protested.

    I was raised Catholic and went to Catholic schools growing up, I heard the prayers of acceptance of other churches and calls for unification and love for them. Clearly Egnor isn’t even a good catholic. He’s a fanatic. And if he hates anglicans more than atheists why doesn’t he go spam their blogs?

    Egnor,

    New subtleties must be taken into account when we investigate causality in quantum mechanics and relativistic quantum field theory in particular. In quantum field theory, causality is closely related to the principle of locality. However, the principle of locality is disputed: whether it strictly holds depends on the interpretation of quantum mechanicschosen, especially for experiments involving quantum entanglement that satisfy Bell’s Theorem.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Causality_(physics)

    In Aquinas’ time people thought causality worked in a simpler way. They assumed cause always preceded effect. And that the same causes always led to the exact same effects given the same set of initial conditions. A small change in a cause led to a small change in effect.

    Therefore if things are this way then something must have caused them, and since the universe and all of creation is just a thing that acts in a certain way, then it must all be caused by something. It couldn’t have caused itself right? It couldn’t have arisen from natural laws?

    Relativity changed our idea about events happening at the same time, we learned that the exact timing depends on the position of the observers. We now know that chaos theory exists, small changes in initial conditions lead to very dramatic outcomes. Now we know classical causality is wrong when it comes the fundamental building blocks of nature. An electron doesn’t have to behave the same way given a set of initial conditions. We have to use statistics to understand how they behave. Time itself is a tricky issue at the quantum level, and since time is very important when it comes to establishing cause and effect, causality at the quantum level is complicated and to this day these problems have not been solved.

    Saint Aquinas, the great plagiarizer, who stole everything from from Aristotle and sprinkled god on it, knew nothing about relativity or quantum theory. He worked with classic causality just like Aristotle. This lead to his conclusions about the nature of the universe being constrained by classic causality.

  322. GHL says:

    ME. I’m not rising to your bait because the question is irrelevant to the subject matter and academic field and I don’t feel particularly hopeful that your question is genuine, more likely an attempt to limit the bounds of the conversation to fundamentalist assumptions. You don’t want to argue against or engage in dialogue with atheists, you are seeking to shout at your fundamentalist construction of one. When you took offence to my assumption that you were a fundamentalist evangelical I apologised and gave you a fair go, you have done nothing but approach this entire exchange from a fundamentalist perspective.

    Chikoppi, thank you for your words, I for one have had far too many interactions with humble, loving Roman Catholics to assume ME is anything close to the majority perspective.

    BillyJoe7, there are a few points to go through here. When you suggest that “understand my enemy” is what I’m getting at you are incorrect, “enemy” doesn’t come into it at all, the “love” part is about getting over such a tribalist and combative paradigm altogether. I am being honest, I do not consider you my enemy and if we ever met I would approach you with love and kindness, I understand that your regular dealings with fundamentalists such as ME would lead you to regard my intentions with suspicion and I will not attempt to demean your experience by dismissing it all I can say that if our interactions continue I will do everything in my power to show an honouring of how I have represented myself to you.

    The next part of what you wrote was not science, nor was it skepticism or reason, it was a polemic. Science and Religion are not enemies and the many people of faith who have contributed to the scientific endeavour can testify to that, now a fair chunk of people that identify as Christians, have proven that the opposite is also a reality, the core error of fundamentalism isn’t the content of their belief but their approach to truth itself. If you approach tradition and scripture as a science textbook which was compiled from the infallible library of a very human god then you are going to cause harm. Actual Christian theology is that Jesus, not scripture, is the word of God. The use of “word” in the previous statement is not enough though as it is a translation from greek of the word logos which has a specific theological meaning. Christian scripture is the developed and accumulated reflection and testament to a specific line of tradition and experience with what is communicated as the divine.

    “The “other functions” of religion are to suppress the common man with bullshit about good and evil, heaven and hell, fire and brimstone; and to empower those who rule over them.” … This is not reason, this is not skepticism, this is a conspiratorial perspective on religion that is just incorrect. Have a look at the first 300 years of Christianity, you will see a suppressed minority resisting the heel of empire, historical study attests to this.

    Finally if you can distinguish between Science and pop science or pseudoscience then you can distinguish between pop or armchair philosophy and the actual academic field. I was referring to the latter as valuable.

    RickK, I understand that your perspective is shaped by your experience with Egnor and an entire swathe of people fighting actual science education, but you should be careful to not use their approach to religion as the only or even the majority approach to religion. I was raised within the Roman Catholic church until ~15 years of age and I never encountered the idea that evolution was incompatible with faith, also if I live in the USA I would lend my financial support to the separation of Church and State in much the same manner. Anti-evolution legislation is poor religion and poor legislation.

    Sophie, SJW is quite a grand title for ME to bestow, a worthy cause to fight for. My love of Sci fi & fantasy leads me to prefer Social Justice Paladin.

  323. michaelegnor says:

    GHL:
    Fundamentalism is a particular strain of protestant theology that emerged in the first decade of the 20th century. It entails biblical literalism and antiCatholicism, neither of which are me. I have friends who are fundamentalists and i like and respect them. They love and worship the Lord passionately, although i think aspects of their theology are misguided. But thats ok. Love of Christ covers a multitude of sins.
    Actually, my own belief is even more alien to the Anglican Communion.
    I’m a Christian.

  324. Sophie says:

    GHL,

    SJW is quite a grand title for ME to bestow, a worthy cause to fight for. My love of Sci fi & fantasy leads me to prefer Social Justice Paladin.

    I never really spent much time roleplaying as those physical types, I prefer spell casters. Although I’m partial towards Barbarians, I like the idea of purity of just being a raw expression of nature’s fight or flight response. There’s a lot of truth in rage and brutality lol. I like magic though, a lot. Depending on the specific game I guess it varies. I like being a sorceress in PnP. There’s something really cool about just having an innate connection to the arcane arts. Not just studying and using magic to accomplish things, but being one with it.

    On the whole SJW topic, Egnor is just a very predictable person. He reacts to certain triggers. He sees a female name and the word “misogyny” and he gets triggered. I must be motivated by some SJW stuff. Meanwhile if you look at what I said, it’s true that Aquinas’ writing was used to justify killing witches. Witch hunts predominantly targeted women, therefore yes it’s misogyny by definition. It’s either that, or witches are real. Draw your own conclusions from the data. Either Aquinas was a fallible person, and a product of his culture, therefore his writings on metaphysics are also locked into a medieval understanding of causality. Or he’s this infallible saint that’s just ignored by modern philosophers because they exist to tempt people to the devil – Egnor’s words.

    GHL you are clearly not in the same category as Egnor and you don’t deserve the same treatment. I apologize on behalf of my fellow commenters.

  325. bachfiend says:

    Michael,

    ‘Fundamentalism’ is a particular strain of Protestant theology that emerged in the first decade of the 20th century. It entails biblical literalism and antiCatholicism, neither of which are me’.

    No. Anti-Catholicism was not one of the five Fundamentals, which is where the term ‘Fundamentalism’ originated.

    You’d have no difficulty with agreeing with all of the five Fundamentals wholeheartedly, so you’re a Fundamentalist by definition.

  326. GHL says:

    Sophie, thank you for you kind words 🙂 I enjoy the melee/caster crossover in Paladins.
    And yes I’m getting that very distinct impression from Egnor, it’s one thing to hear his name referenced on the podcast and another thing entirely to actually see it in action. When it comes to pejoratives of the category of SJW I am a fan of the method of turning them into badges of distinction, takes the puff out of their chest beating somewhat.

    ME. That is not the definition of Fundamentalism but rather a description of the origins of the term, which then evolved to have a broader meaning. I have to wonder at the nature of the heart of a person who believes in eternal conscious torment an throws this judgement around gleefully, instead of sorrow and mourning. Luckily I dealt with my mortality as an atheist so it’s not part of what brought me to my faith, but if I die and your world is true I’d rather side with the suffering (you know, like Jesus) and take a place in hell. Thankfully the Gospel message is not so narrow and punitive, though that is a discussion to be had in forums dedicated to theological discourse.

  327. trumpproctor says:

    Hardnose – “But, as always, atheists would rather fight the weakest versions of their opponents.”

    Quite the contrary. Over and over and over again in watching any type of open discussion/debate between theist and atheist, instead of listening to gish gallop of “evidence” for God, I hear the atheist simply ask, “just give me your number 1 most powerful evidence for god.” Because if there absolute most convincing argument (at least to themselves) can be shown to be faulty, then their proceeding weaker arguments probably arn’t going to hold up either.

  328. trumpproctor says:

    Billyjoe7 – “And please do not misquote me. I said “gods are non-explanations”. And that’s exactly what they are. Anything that is a mystery is supposedly an act by some god. And the roles of these gods are shrinking as we speak. With every advance in science those gods are disappearing before our eyes”

    Or I like how Neil Tyson puts it: “God is an ever-receding pocket of scientific ignorance that’s getting smaller and smaller and smaller as time moves on.”

  329. trumpproctor says:

    RickK – “So people DO use gods to explain the workings of the world – they do it daily. And they use them to justify not taking the time to learn the real answers. But repackaging ignorance into a shiny mythology is like repackaging bad mortgages into a CDO security. Do it enough, sell it enough, put enough distance between people’s understanding and reality, and the system collapses.”

    Re-quoted because that needs to be re-quoted. I’m stealing that one. 🙂

  330. michaelegnor says:

    GHL:

    [That is not the definition of Fundamentalism but rather a description of the origins of the term, which then evolved to have a broader meaning.]

    While devout Catholics (eg me) and Fundamentalists share much in common, three things set us apart: biblical literalism, justification by faith (and not works) and anti-Catholicism, all of which are integral to Fundamentalism and foreign to Catholicism. These differences were laid out explicitly in The Fundamentals, published serially in the second decade of the 20th century. There is a distinct difference between orthodox Catholicism and Fundamentalism. You know this, being modestly educated theologically, and you are merely lying.

    [I have to wonder at the nature of the heart of a person who believes in eternal conscious torment an throws this judgement around gleefully, instead of sorrow and mourning.]

    Eternal conscious torment is a choice made by the tormentee–a tragic choice. I wouldn’t call my pointing out the simple truth “gleeful”. I’d call it honest, in keeping with apostolic teaching in the New Testament (Paul took the same tone quite often, as in Romans 18-32, Peter in much of 2Peter, John in Revelation, and our Lord repeatedly–after all, he mentions Hell much more often then Heaven. And I haven’t even mentioned Jeremiah, etc).

    I do have sorrow and mourning–for my own sins especially, but for the sins of us all. Your brand of heresy–smarmy equivocation and implicit/explicit denial of basic Christian doctrine– is particularly destructive to the Church. At least the atheists are honest in their denial of basic Christian doctrine.

    [if I die and your world is true I’d rather side with the suffering (you know, like Jesus) and take a place in hell.]

    You will die, you do deny suffering in your saccharine perversion of Christian doctrine, and let’s hope you don’t end up where we all belong.

    [Thankfully the Gospel message is not so narrow and punitive, though that is a discussion to be had in forums dedicated to theological discourse.]

    The Gospel message is that Christ is the second Person of the Holy Trinity and that He suffered for our sins and rose bodily from the dead. All of which, as best I can see, you deny.

    I have a particular distaste for Anglicanism. Not that there aren’t holy Anglicans. I have Anglican friends who are fine Christians, and CS Lewis influenced me greatly. But they are holy despite Anglicanism, not because of it.

    The history of Anglicanism is sordid, and it’s a hoot to hear Anglicans criticizing devout Catholics for their theological heritage. Anglicanism arose as a branch of a religious movement inspired by an insane violent anti-semitic monk, was instituted by a lust-ridden egomaniacal king with a penchant for serial wife murder, profited from the murder and rape of priests, nuns and religious and the rapine of their monasteries and nunneries, was central to persecutions and witch-burnings (which the Catholic church opposed), jumped early on the eugenic/abortionist bandwagon in the early 20th century, and now ordains sodomite bishops and conducts gay “marriages”.

    Oh, and Anglicanism dissembles and lies about its beliefs with smarmy pseudo-theology by the likes of John Shelby Spong.

    Lower than atheists? Seems that way to me. At least atheists are largely honest in their rejection of Christ, and the atheist record of atrocity, while it has a larger body count, isn’t contaminated by such a mass of hypocrisy.

    Modern atheism got its theological bonafides from the perverted theology of Anglicanism and its Protestant congeners, and just carried liberal Protestantism to its logical conclusion. It has become a social project (the Social Gospel movement), which is just a step away from atheism, socialism and communism, and, as you so helpfully point out, SJW’s.

  331. michaelegnor says:

    Sophie:

    [it’s true that Aquinas’ writing was used to justify killing witches. Witch hunts predominantly targeted women, therefore yes it’s misogyny by definition.]

    Witch-hunting pre-dates recorded history, and has been practiced in nearly all cultures and religions. In fact, the Catholic church has been remarkably opposed to witch-hunting, having condemned it and fought it for two millennia.

    The witch hunts of the early modern period–which are the witch hunts that are generally referred to–were nearly all Protestant affairs, which of course includes Anglican affairs–and were a small part of the reason that the Catholic Church fought the Reformation with such tenacity.

    The irony is breath-taking: you, a partisan of the most violent religious stance in human history (atheism) joins GHL, a partisan of the religious faction most disposed to witch hunting (Protestantism/Anglicanism) in condemning the religious faction most opposed to witch hunting (Catholicism) for… (wait for it)… witch hunting.

    Hilarious, if it were not so hypocritical and historically ignorant.

  332. michaelegnor says:

    But then, atheism and Anglicanism could be defined as “hypocrisy and historical ignorance masquerading as religion”.

  333. michaelegnor says:

    GHL:

    [… the Gospel message is not so narrow and punitive]

    The distinctive theological message of the Anglican Communion has evolved from nun-raping, priest-strangling and monastery-expropriating, to more modern Anglicanisms such as eugenics-and-abortion embracing, sodomite ordaining, and denial of the Virgin Birth, the deity of Christ, and the Resurrection.

    If that’s not a ticket to Hell, what is?

  334. michaelegnor says:

    Sophie:

    [it’s true that Aquinas’ writing was used to justify killing witches. Witch hunts predominantly targeted women, therefore yes it’s misogyny by definition.]

    And let’s not forget the prototypical atheist ‘witch hunts’ of the modern era–the Reign of Terror, the Stalinist Show Trials, the Maoist Cultural Revolution, the Khmer Killing Fields, which were just atheist witch hunts without the religious gloss.

    No religion has persecuted innocents on the scale that atheists have persecuted innocents.

  335. RickK says:

    Lol… here it comes again. Sorry, Michael – Communism is a faith-based religion, just like your conservative Catholicism. You can’t call Communism atheism just because its proponents worship different saints than you and use different but equally twisted dogma to argue their points. Your faith is older, it’s true. But hey, you share the tendency to put the same faces in every house wall, you both imbue your saints with supernatural abilities, you both resist contrary evidence with equal dogma and fervor, you both seem to suffer similar levels of corruption in your ranks (and how IS Cardinal Law these days?), and you share the same approach to training your youth.

    Sorry, but Communists are your people, not ours.

    Try again.

  336. Willy says:

    Hey, Dr. Egnor, if the Bible can’t be taken literally, of what use is it? Which parts are “true”? Did Jesus really believe the Flood happened as “Matthew” claimed?

    Yeah, I know. My questions aren’t worth addressing because I’m not being “sophisticated” enough. Well, wasn’t it Jesus who said children were special?

    Thanks for all the laughs.

  337. GHL says:

    Honestly Michael Egnor your vile and insulting manner will not get you anywhere. I find it curious that when a person caries their conversation with kindness and an earnest intention for mutually beneficial discourse you rear up throwing accusations of smarm and the like, it’s as though the very idea of emulating the love of Christ is foreign to you.

    Every single endeavor humans have been a part of historically shows a story of the kindest saints and the most murderous sinners. The Reformation was an extraordinarily complex series of events which included barbarism of almost every side, including the Roman Catholic Church.

    You seem to be less interested in actually engaging with other an more about performing a self-aggrandizing rant against comically-incorrect strawmen.

  338. michaelegnor says:

    GHL:

    What part of the history of the Anglican Communion, or of your personal theology, did I get wrong?

  339. bachfiend says:

    Rick,

    Egnor persists in not knowing the difference between ‘ideology’ and ‘worldview’.

    Worldviews attempt to explain how the world came to be as it is in reality.

    Ideologies attempt to proscribe what ought to happen in the future as the best result.

    Christianity and Communism have both worldviews (the Universe was created by God in the case of Christianity, and history is the result of class struggle in the Marxist sense in the case of Communism) and ideologies (the delusional belief that there’s some future utopia, which justifies any measure to ensure it comes into existence).

    Atheists have just a worldview. The Universe came into existence merely as a result of natural mechanisms. There’s no evidence for the existence of gods. Gods are an unnecessary explanation.

    Atheists don’t have a common ideology. There are liberal atheists. Libertarian ones. Conservative atheists. Even Communist ones.

  340. michaelegnor says:

    GHL:

    [it’s as though the very idea of emulating the love of Christ is foreign to you]

    Is Christ the Second Person of the Trinity, the Word of God–specifically, the Word of God of the Old Testament?

    Or are you doing a Marcionite segue?

  341. michaelegnor says:

    bach:

    [Atheists don’t have a common ideology. There are liberal atheists. Libertarian ones. Conservative atheists. Even Communist ones.]

    Christians don’t have a common ideology. There are liberal Christians. Libertarian ones. Conservative Christians. Even Communist ones.

    So Christians can’t he asked to account for the history of Christianity?

  342. bachfiend says:

    Michael,

    ‘Christians don’t have a common ideology’.

    Yes, they do – they have ‘the delusional belief that there’s some future utopia, which justifies any measure to ensure it comes into existence’.

    Christians have the belief that their utopia is in heaven in the afterlife. The measures they adopt in the real world are the ones they think will get their admission to the favourable imaginary world.

    I don’t understand what you actually mean by your last sentence – it’s incoherent even for you. ‘So Christians can’t he (sic) asked to account for the history of Christianity?’ Christians, like everyone else, have a worldview – which is an explanation as to how the world has developed the way it has – and which includes history.

  343. mumadadd says:

    Reality explained: it was created by a magic man who loves you and will torture you for ever if you don’t believe in him; he sent himself to earth as a normal man with magic powers, sacrificed himself to himself to appease himself on your behalf so he wouldn’t have to torture you for ever (but he still will if you don’t believe in him).

    You can’t discover any of this through investigating reality — you just have to accept these iron age fables. Also, you must ignore all the other, similar fables, otherwise you’ll get tortured for ever.

    And all this is posited by a brain surgeon, posting on a neuroscience blog.

  344. GHL says:

    ME. Do you not actually know what the issue was with Marcion? To throw such words around incorrectly is odd. As I have previously stated, contrary to your assumptions and insults leveled against me I have mostly refrained from giving a full statement of my belief and doctrinal commitments because the core issue at the heart of this topic has nothing to do with it. Though of course your fundamentalist catholic version of faith does not match mine. On the issue of the word fundamentalism/fundamentalist, you again refuse to acknowledge that the word doesn’t exclusively refer to that early 20th century movement anymore. Look at the modern usage of the term!

  345. mumadadd says:

    Oh, and if you don’t accept my superstitions as true you’re a communist. Yep, makes perfect sense.

  346. Sophie says:

    Egnor,

    Sophie: [it’s true that Aquinas’ writing was used to justify killing witches. Witch hunts predominantly targeted women, therefore yes it’s misogyny by definition.]
    And let’s not forget the prototypical atheist ‘witch hunts’ of the modern era–the Reign of Terror, the Stalinist Show Trials, the Maoist Cultural Revolution, the Khmer Killing Fields, which were just atheist witch hunts without the religious gloss.
    No religion has persecuted innocents on the scale that atheists have persecuted innocents.

    Great example of the Egnorant Evasion.
    The conversation I was having was about how you called me a SJW for saying factual details about Aquinas’ legacy.
    You then took that and launched into a diatribe about mass murder throughout history. It’s not a contest. This is also a fallacious argument. You didn’t defend Aquinas for justifying the murder of witches. All you did was show other examples of people justifying murder.

    You forgot to actually sit down and defend the charge leveled against Aquinas. He’s still a total joke of an intellectual hero to have. And he still wrote extensively on the topic of MURDERING witches. Did I do that? No. Does the skeptic movement do that? No. Do modern atheist organizations call for the murder of witches? No. You’ve referred to me as a witch simply for having a female name. Deeply troubling since you didn’t say a single word to indicate that you don’t side with Aquinas, and you’ve said that you believe like he did, that literal demons walk the earth.

    We also heard you say that Anglicans belong in a lower circle of hell than us atheists.

    Funny how the pope, the leader of your Catholic faith, calls for the unification of the different denominations of Christianity. So you aren’t even a good Catholic? Damn this witch casts some mean rhetoric.

  347. chikoppi says:

    [michaelegnor] Is Christ the Second Person of the Trinity, the Word of God–specifically, the Word of God of the Old Testament?

    Again, totally not a fundamentalist, but guided by the compassionate message of Christ: “if you get the dogma even slightly wrong I’ll excoriate you and make you pay!”

    Cardinal Ratzinger commented on the celebrations of the Eucharist in other churches or ecclesial communities whose orders his church did not recognise, saying that ‘in such celebrations there was indeed a true feeding on Christ, and therefore there was a real and transforming grace’. This was no new teaching as before Vatican II it was generally taught that, although considered invalid, Anglican orders were not meaningless and could carry God’s grace.

    What depths of hell do these, our brothers and sisters in Christ, not not deserve!

  348. Sophie says:

    Egnor this is how you write a semi-coherent argument.

    1 Egnor said: “And Anglican heresy (and the like) is a few circles deeper in Hell than atheism. At least atheists generally have the courage of their convictions, and don’t draw souls away from Christ by pretending to be Christians.”

    2 Egnor is a Catholic Christian. Says so right at the top of his blog.

    3 The Pope is the leader of Catholicism here on earth, the highest human official, god’s ambassador. Various popes have called for the reunification of Christian denominations and reached out with open arms to the Anglican Church. John Paul II passed the pastoral provision to make it easier for Anglican leaders to become Catholics. That alone should be enough to knock this argument out of the park.
    But here’s evidence of Pope Francis reaching out to the Anglican Church:
    http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2017/02/26/pope_visits_all_saints_anglican_church_/1295196

    Conclusion: It’s mighty unchristian to openly accuse your fellow Christians of leading souls away from god and claiming they belong in hell along with their ideology. Michael Egnor is not a good Catholic Christian.
    He holds views that are contrary to what his own religion teaches. He thinks anglicans lead souls away from God. The Pope and various Christian leaders, right down to even your local priests, think otherwise. They routinely have prayers for the reunification of the other Christian denominations.

    Egnor is a fanatic by the very definition of the word. He is overzealous and hyper-religious to the point where he holds views that are much more extreme than the actual leaders of his church.

    Egnor is the type of person that if he grew up in a theocracy he would likely kill for his beliefs. If he had a position of authority in a theocracy he would sentence me to death. For I am leading souls away from God by my sorcery.

  349. chikoppi says:

    Two atheists have as much in common ideologically as two people who discover that neither of them believes that big foot exists. Literally every belief other is up for grabs.

    But sure, lack of belief in big foot is an ideology absolutely equivalent to religious faith, so it totally makes sense that atheism is as well. Totally.

  350. Sophie says:

    For those of us keeping score about this Egnor-ant douche:

    1 Egnor welcomes GHL (An Anglican) and lectures him on how to be a better Christian, tells him not to attack another Christian out of fellowship
    2 Claims that pious historians and theologians know better than the consensus of experts. Claims that history and theology cannot be separated.
    3 sixty miracles at Lourdes claim. Claims that atheism is faith.
    4 repeats claim (2)
    5 repeats claim (3)
    6 claims he alone has an open mind
    7 claims god is real because of his personal experiences and interactions with Jesus.
    8 Claims that Islam’s supernatural experiences are also legit. and that atheism is the truly radical perspective in that it denies miracles. Falsely equates atheism with religion and other belief systems.
    9 repeats atheism-is-religion arguments
    10 repeats claim (2) which already happened. This is the third time.
    11 repeats claim (2)
    12 repeats claim (9)
    13 claims the differences between Islam and Christianity are just minor opinions
    14 claims Islam and Christianity are
    Different, but similar paths to god. Fails to see how Jesus is God in one and just another non-divine Prophet in the other.
    15 unintelligible collection of one liners, in response to out of context quotations.
    16 repeats claim (9)
    17 repeats claim (7)
    18 repeats claim (13)
    19 repeats claim (9) this is the fifth time he has argued that atheism equals religion
    20 miracles + Aquinas
    21 repeats claim (9) “Atheists have faith, Christians have faith.”
    22 repeats claim (9)
    23 … let’s call it: god is feeling, not science
    24 Division with the Anglican Christian grows: “With friends like this, Christians don’t need enemies.”
    25 teleology
    26 highlights his hatred of atheism
    27 personal Jesus, basically just a rehash of claim (7)
    28 repeats claim (2), describes theology as the best of what humanity is capable of
    29 Repeats (25), erroneously claims that quantum mechanics is an obvious example of his argument, when in reality is the most devastating blow versus Aquinas’ arguments because it breaks classical causality
    30 repeats (25) and (29), in his explanation of teleology he leaves out the key concepts central to defining it
    31 teleology, infamous “does the heart have a purpose?”
    32 teleology, repeats (31)
    33 hearts have many functions but only one “purpose”
    34 teleology
    35 purpose is primary, purpose precedes function
    36 teleology + repeats (32)
    37 unintelligible nonsense one liners
    38 teleology is real proves god
    39 unintelligible one liner
    40 repeats (31) and more teleology proves god
    41 unintelligible one liner
    42 more hate for Anglican commenter
    43 Anglicans are worse than atheists and pretend to be Christian to steal souls
    44 more Anglican hate
    45 nonsense
    46 Sophie = SJW for pointing out how Aquinas openly wrote about how it’s okay to straight up murder heretics
    47 nonsense
    48 “I believe in demons (literate ones!). I wasn’t sure about witches, until I met feminists.”
    49 nonsense
    50 nonsense
    51 teleology, ignores literally everything else he said about this topic to claim that, cellulose doesn’t have one purpose but many
    52 nonsense
    53 nonsense
    54 teleology, again ignore his previous arguments on purpose of hearts to make new nonsensical arguments
    55 this one is too good: “Actually, the death penalty in the middle ages was reserved for heretics.” He’s correcting me for saying that an atheist like me would be put to death. He’s totally unaware of what the word heretic means.
    56 teleology, a coin falls to the ground therefore god
    57 equates Pete (the name) with peat (the combustible fuel source) in a conversation about cremation. Yes so not funny, when the topic of burning heretics is being discussed.
    58 can’t define heretic again
    59 teleology, hearts pump to bring people to god
    60 modern metaphysics is a tool to lead people to the devil
    61 hatred of Anglicans
    62 can’t define fundamentalism, I mean just pause and think about that. How ironic.
    63 once again: cannot define fundamentalism even when corrected. Hate for Anglicans.
    64 witch hunts weren’t as bad as other war crimes, therefore Aquinas justifying murder is okay
    65 hate for Anglicans
    66 hate for Anglicans
    67 repeats (64)
    68 nonsense
    69 nonsense
    70 nonsense

    What did I learn?
    -he hates Anglicans
    -he really believes that pious theologians know more than literally anyone else in the history of humanity

    -he loves to just get the last word in, it appears he just likes to troll the same people with the same kind of arguments. He repeated atheism = religion so many times.

    -Most of his claims are easily defeated by google. It’s hilariously ironic that his style of argumentation is only effective in a world without the internet. But he relies heavily on the internet to communicate and to learn about his arguments from other idiots. He has the best possible tools at his disposal and he doesn’t use them to craft a good argument. It’s like using a NASCAR engineer’s shop to make soap box derby car. Congrats Egnor, you have the fastest soap box derby car in all of NASCAR.

    -He can’t define simple words correctly. He falsely equates atheism with other belief systems because he can’t go and read a dictionary entry. The faith in catholic faith, means something specific. It doesn’t mean the same thing as the faith in: I have faith that taco stand will be open today. There’s literally a special definition in the dictionary for faith meaning a religion. He also doesn’t seem to understand how a simple statement of non-belief and a religious belief are different. No matter how many times it is explained he just repeats it. Falsely equating atheism with religion. The best part is that even if he was right about this, his argument would be pointless because he didn’t defend theism he just showed that atheism is just as bad. Kinda like defending Aquinas’ call for heretics to be murdered by pointing out other famous atrocities throughout history.

    He also can’t define basic stuff like fact or fiction. He thinks that truth is a simple 3 step process. It’s so cute. One, two, then a coin falls to the ground, therefore god. It’s absolutely true, don’t question god idiots.

    -He’s immune to evidence.

    -He such a giant hypocrite to the point where he calls others fanatics and claims he’s a good Christian, then he turns around and says some of the most fanatical stuff you could say about Anglicans. Things his church leaders would not endorse. In fact they have done the opposite and welcomed Anglicans. So he’s so Egnor-ant to the point where he doesn’t even know his own religion.

  351. michaelegnor says:

    Looks like my just stating the obvious gets the monkey cages all riled up.

    Amusing to observe. It’s like a little experiment. Heh.

  352. michaelegnor says:

    Note just what I’ve done to get the howler monkeys going:

    1) Repeat basic Christian doctrine.

    2) Repeat basic historical facts about Anglicanism and atheism

    The truth is like a nuke to you guys. Pretty funny.

  353. Pete A says:

    Michael,

    You wrote on 30 Apr 2017 at 1:41 pm

    GHL:

    And Anglican heresy (and the like) is a few circles deeper in Hell than atheism. At least atheists generally have the courage of their convictions, and don’t draw souls away from Christ by pretending to be Christians.

    I refuse to write about that which I suffered during my childhood because a testimony is not data (empirical evidence). Instead, I would very much like to learn in which circle deeper in Hell — and what that actually means — is reserved for those who have thrown acid in the faces of young girls as they are walking to school. The people who threw the acid sincerely believed that their god had (directly or indirectly) commanded them to do it.

    Just as you sincerely believe that your god supports your beliefs and behaviours.

  354. bachfiend says:

    Michael,

    The ‘obvious’ is only apparent to those (such as you) who have drunk the cool aid of fundamentalist religion and who are unwilling to examine the basis for their beliefs, instead relying on second rate philosophers such as Aquinas. And Ed Feser.

    If Acquinas’ ‘proofs’ were philosophically convincing, then there’d be no atheist philosophers instead of there being a majority.

    The Egnor Evasion is strong in you. I predict you’ll be making the exact same assertions in the future as if they hadn’t already been rebutted many times.

    You’re more like the chimpanzee which expresses its unhappiness by throwing its excrement at its perceived foes (the trouble is, it also soils its hands).

  355. BillyJoe7 says:

    GML,

    “if we ever met I would approach you with love and kindness”

    Well, you have just shown yourself to be a hypocrite.
    I told you in no uncertain terms (and, at this point, I’ll tell you that I deleted those expletives only as an after-thought) that your declaration of love for me is unwelcome. But here you are again. I can only conclude that this is a selfish love rebounding only on yourself. It makes YOU feel good and fuzzy inside to exude love and kindness willy nilly. Certainly you have not said this to make ME feel good, because I’ve already told you how I feel about your declarations.

    “enemy doesn’t come into it…I do not consider you my enemy”

    There you go, despite all your love and kindness, you’ve completely ignored my role. It’s all about YOU. But, listen up: you are MY enemy. Therefore “enemy” DOES come into it. Get over yourself already.

    “I understand that your regular dealings with fundamentalists such as ME”

    I am not the least concerned with ME. Nobody is fooled by him.
    It’s the smarmy type that we need watch out for.
    The sort that likely sucked the life out of you and groomed you to suck the life out of others.

    “Science and Religion are not enemies”

    Absolute nonsense.
    Science is suffocating religion under an avalanche of evidence.
    Religion used to explain EVERYthing.
    Now it explains nothing but the delusions of its adherents.

    “Actual Christian theology is that Jesus, not scripture, is the word of God. The use of “word” in the previous statement is not enough though as it is a translation from greek of the word logos which has a specific theological meaning. Christian scripture is the developed and accumulated reflection and testament to a specific line of tradition and experience with what is communicated as the divine”

    I get it now:
    You are a “Sophisticated Theologian”.
    Try your gobeldekppk on someone else.

    “Have a look at the first 300 years of Christianity, you will see a suppressed minority resisting the heel of empire, historical study attests to this”

    Then have a look at the next 1700 years and tell me religion has not been used by those in power to keep the little people in check with promises of heaven if they behave and hell if they don’t…”I love you”, and just in case you don’t know how much, I’m going to fry you in hell for all eternity if you don’t love me back.

    “Finally if you can distinguish between Science and pop science or pseudoscience then you can distinguish between pop or armchair philosophy and the actual academic field. I was referring to the latter as valuable”

    Academic, smackademic. If it isn’t based on science and doesn’t help science to ask and answer questions scientifically, it is a waste of all our time and effort.

  356. BillyJoe7 says:

    Sophie, please refrain for apologising on behalf of others.

  357. edamame says:

    BJ7:
    “If it isn’t based on science and doesn’t help science to ask and answer questions scientifically, it is a waste of all our time and effort.”

    These kinds of omnibus epistemological pronouncements tend to crush themselves under their own weight.

    And I actually fancy history, literature, art, and even some philosophy. Shakespeare and Picasso are pretty good. I enjoyed seeing Trevor Noah the other night. And laughing.

  358. Pete A says:

    edamame,

    I am very pleased that you enjoy the things that you enjoy.

    Now, if you can stop laughing for long enough, please address Sophie’s comment:
    http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/jesus-mythicism-revisited/#comment-306926

    and my comment:
    http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/jesus-mythicism-revisited/#comment-306992

  359. BillyJoe7 says:

    edamame: “And I actually fancy history, literature, art….Shakespeare and Picasso are pretty good. I enjoyed seeing Trevor Noah the other night. And laughing”

    What the hell has that got to do with anything?

  360. GingTho says:

    Michel Egnor, do you still consider yourself open minded? Or did the video I posted get through to you?

  361. Michael – you are describing the behavior of a troll. Your stated goal is to rile up the “monkeys.” You are not trying to engage or understand. You willingly confuse people responding to what they perceive as inaccurate or poorly thought out arguments to denying the Truth.

    Again, you are a perpetual example of what it is like to be trapped in your own world view, supported by motivated reasoning, denial, and a huge helping of arrogance.

    I also suggest you reflect carefully on how you are representing your own faith here.

  362. Sophie says:

    Michael Egnor,

    1) Repeat basic Christian doctrine.

    2) Repeat basic historical facts about Anglicanism and atheism

    Repeating false claims that have been thoroughly debunked. You are a Catholic. The leaders of your faith have taken steps to welcome Anglicans, and regularly call for the reunification of the Christian denominations. You aren’t even expressing attitudes that are in line with Catholicism. Your own religious leaders would describe your views as extreme.

  363. Pete A says:

    Sophie,

    You replied to Dr Michael Egnor: “Your own religious leaders would describe your views as extreme.”

    Do you know who are Egnor’s religious leaders? He claims that he is a Catholic, but he is also strongly affiliated with another religious organisation: The Discovery Institute.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Egnor
    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Michael_Egnor
    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Non-materialist_neuroscience

  364. Sophie says:

    Pete A,

    1 Egnor is a Catholic, proudly says so on his Personal blog
    2 The Pope leads the Catholic Church

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope

    Various popes, like JP2, have taken steps to welcome Anglican priests and make it easier for them to become Catholic priests. They do not argue, like Egnor does, that Anglicans belong in hell and steal souls away from God.

    So we have to ask ourselves what kind of a Catholic this character is. He’s certainly not expressing values that are consistent with mainstream Catholicism.

    I appreciate that he’s got a lot going on. But he’s actively misrepresenting the relationship between Catholicism and Anglicanism and basically advocating for hate against another sect of his fellow Christians. He’s a truly special person.

  365. edamame says:

    BJ7 wrote:
    “If it isn’t based on science and doesn’t help science to ask and answer questions scientifically, it is a waste of all our time and effort.”

    Me:
    Points out that this, taken as a general position, will not hold up under its own weight. And points out a lot of things worth our time and effort that are not science. Like comedy.

    BJ7:
    “What the hell has that got to do with anything?”

    Are you trying to create a Mobius strip? Because I guess I could start just re-repeating things and getting all recursive.

    PeteA:
    Trying to get me to address a couple of links.

    Dear lord, no thanks especially with Sophie’s encyclopedia Neurologica there is something pathological about that post. I was addressing BJ’s general claim, which is just false. My point is that scientism is suspect, likely self-refuting. Fields like history are useful, and contrary to what BJ wrote they are not a waste of our time and effort. Art, comedy, literature, philosophy, are not science, but not a waste of time. Or at least making a general claim about anything but science being a waste of time is batshit crazy.

  366. Pete A says:

    The Discovery Institute relies almost entirely on appeals to authority: such as a Catholic Neurosurgeon who is able to make incessant long-winded appeals to outdated philosophy in attempts to bolster the Discovery Institute’s Wedge Strategy aka “Teach the controversy”:
    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Wedge_Strategy
    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Teach_the_controversy

  367. Pete A says:

    edamame,

    Trying to get you to address the topic of the article on which you are commenting is difficult enough. I never expect you to properly address any of the comments.

    You replied to me: “Dear lord, no thanks especially with Sophie’s encyclopedia Neurologica there is something pathological about that post.”

    That says far more about your incompetence and your agenda than you might think it conveys.

  368. Sophie says:

    Sorry about my pathological post. The point was to show how in 70+ comments all that happens is:
    1 Egnor says some claim
    2 Claims gets thoroughly debunked by many different people
    3 Egnor evades by going to new claim
    4 people debunk it
    5 Egnor repeats the first claim

    He said the argument atheism = religion over 15 times in 70 comments.

  369. mumadadd says:

    edamame,

    In fairness I think BJ7 was referring to philosophy in that comment — rather than saying that anything, in a general context, which isn’t science isn’t valuable.

  370. Willy says:

    I’ve noted this previously, but I want to point out once more the stark differences in behavior and character between Drs. Novella and Egnor. It’s really quite stunning.

  371. Sophie says:

    Understatement of the year.

  372. michaelegnor says:

    Steven:

    [you are describing the behavior of a troll. Your stated goal is to rile up the “monkeys.” You are not trying to engage or understand. You willingly confuse people responding to what they perceive as inaccurate or poorly thought out arguments to denying the Truth.]

    Hardly. What I have done is two things: 1) I stated basic Catholic (basic Christian) doctrine. 2) I recounted a few historical facts about Anglicanism and atheism.

    In response, the little tykes have a seizure.

    That’s not “trolling”. That’s just telling the simple truth to people who passionately don’t want to hear it.

    Regarding “engaging and understanding”, I have engaged so much my fingers are sore from typing. Perhaps by “engage” you mean that I abandon my view and agree with you, despite facts and logic. Ain’t gonna happen.

    Regarding poorly thought out arguments–you’ve got to be kidding. I am recounting two thousands years of Catholic doctrine and referring to the best minds in the history of the West (Aristotle and Aquinas and a host of theologians). The tykes here haven’t a clue about even the rudiments of metaphysics or theology or history, for that matter (e.g. it’s hilarious that atheists and Anglicans would criticize a Catholic for witch-hunting, given that the Catholic Church has a two thousand year history of opposing witch-hunts–it is one of the few major organizations in human history to consistently do so–while real witch hunts were regularly carried out in the Anglican world and atheist government (ie communism) can be described as one big figurative witch-hunt.)

    The reason the Darwin Youth here get so upset with my posts is that they have no intelligent replies.

  373. Pete A says:

    Sophie,

    I agree with your reply to me.

    I was pointing out the indecipherable pecking order of his various affiliations. His relentless straw-manning of atheism is, I think, based far more strongly in his affiliation to the Discovery Institute than his Catholicism. The latter he seems to wield as a weapon (the circles of Hell) to defend the former.

  374. edamame says:

    mumadadd: you are right that is one possible charitable interpretation of what BJ7 was saying, so if that’s all he meant then I would concede that we should shift the debate to philosophy only.

    I’m no staunch defender of philosophy, frankly, as it largely is useless in science. But it has broader goals than contributing to science, and that doesn’t make it useless. This view that something has to contribute to science to be useful, or worth our time, is unsound.

    Such claims are themselves philosophical in nature (i.e., they collapse under their own weight), and ignore huge fields of philosophy. For instance, if you haven’t studied Plato’s Republic, then you aren’t really educated. Even though it basically has no science and nothing to do with science.

    More generally, a culture with no philosophy would be a culture that has lost the ability to self-reflect. The loss of philosophy would be a tragedy. Every comment thread at Neurological becomes a philosophy thread eventually: the most vocal critics of philosophy are its most vocal participants.

  375. Pete A says:

    “[Dr Michael Egnor] In response, the little tykes have a seizure.”

    Is that a neurological diagnosis, or just the idiotic rant of an IDiot.

  376. mumadadd says:

    edamame,

    I largely agree with you. Where I do take issue with philosophy is where it is in conflict with science as an explanation of some natural phenomenon. See ME’s clutching to Aristotelian forms to prop up his dualism for an example.

    I read Russell’s ‘History of Western Philosophy a while ago and honestly, a lot what was recounted seemed to me to be most along to “crank theories if everything” which have since been superseded by scientific explanations.

    But I wouldn’t tar the whole of philosophy with that brush.

  377. edamame says:

    I largely agree with you, but partly because Russell is idiosyncratic and that book is pre-Quinean. For instance, Plato’s Republic is an extended meditation on justice and the ideal state. That is not something that science can answer. Science can be relevant, but that’s about as far as it will go. Partitioning knowledge into philosophy and science is a relatively recent and a weird thing. It was an inevitable consequence of specialization.

    But nowadays philosophers don’t typically see themselves as offering some specialized access to truth, but as continuous with science. E.g., the book Second Philosophy by Penelope Maddy is pretty amazing and does a good job expressing this post-Cartesian, post-positivistic view of philosophy as continuous with good science. Not in competition with it.

    She has an article on the same topic:
    http://socsci.uci.edu/~pjmaddy/bio/2ndphilosophy.pdf

    Those of you that have read Descartes will realize this is a play on his First philosophy (the view that philosophers from the armchair can provide a priori grounding for all knowledge, independent of any science). Maddy’s view, while I wouldn’t endorse it in all its details, pretty much nails it in terms of big picture stuff, and is pretty representative of modern naturalistic philosophy (i.e., philosophy since Quine and others undermined the bs the logical positivists were spewing).

  378. edamame says:

    Taking Egnor as representative of modern philosophy is like taking a discarded piece of cardboard as representative of gourmet food.

  379. Sophie says:

    Michael Egnor,

    The reason the Darwin Youth here get so upset with my posts is that they have no intelligent replies.

    Ignoring the ad Hitlerum, comparing us to the Hitler youth.

    Define intelligent reply?

    Most people would consider some of the replies on here to be thoughtful and engaging. We met you on your terms and tried our best. You talked about Aquinas’ teleology, we pointed out how it’s deeply flawed for many reasons:
    -It relies on a 13th century understanding of causality.
    -It’s the sharpshooter fallacy,
    -all you did was say god caused everything to lead humans to him, therefore everything that happens is proof of god. A coin falls to the earth, therefore god. Circular reasoning.
    -you said ultimate purpose precedes function, that’s just another way of saying intelligent design
    -modern metaphysics doesn’t even bother with Aquinas

    Your reply to us:
    -Christian Theologians represent the best of what humanity has to offer.
    -modern metaphysics is pure fiction and created to lead people to the devil
    -quantum mechanics, which easily breaks your teleological Aquinas arguments, is actually proof of god creating the universe.

    Any intelligent outsider can look at your comments and see a pattern of evasiveness and deliberate dishonesty. Therefore it’s very easy to conclude you are a troll. Surely you see the comments roasting your claims. You just ignore them and repeat the false claims. You have no interest in the truth, or even honing your arguments. You repeat the same fallacious argument over and over sometimes in the same hour. Reminds me of a current political leader.

    P.S. cellulose and collagen have no ultimate teleological purpose. The leader of Catholicism reaches out to Anglicans, you misrepresent your own religion by saying they belong in hell.

  380. chikoppi says:

    [michaelegnor] What I have done is two things: 1) I stated basic Catholic (basic Christian) doctrine. 2) I recounted a few historical facts about Anglicanism and atheism.

    First, this is a poor attempt at a Motte and Bailey retreat.

    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Motte_and_bailey

    Second, it’s hogwash.

    You stated doctrine for the purpose of proclaiming your contempt for the Anglican Church. Other commenters pointed out that your vitriol is out of step with the official position of the Catholic Church. No one ‘had a seizure,’ what they did was to point out your inconsistency with the Papacy and the “Christian” charity and fellowship you yourself appealed to.

    [michaelegnor] Do keep in mind that we Christians are called to love one another and that we are the body of Christ. Sniping at a fellow Christian while sucking up to atheists on an atheist blog is hardly fellowship, if you get my drift.

    Do tell.

    You stated nothing about the ‘history of atheism.’ What you did was to cite regimes that enforced atheism as an excuse to cripple the competing social authority of religious organizations, which is not an ideological goal of all ‘atheists.’ Fine. If atheists are to bear the guilt of any crime committed by any atheist then about your neck must be hung all the violence perpetrated by all religions throughout history. That aligns you nicely with Al Qaeda, Al-Shabaab, The Lord’s Army, and the Taliban, and those are just the contemporary notables. Apples to apples.

    You continually attempted to equate a lack of belief in something due to insufficient evidence to believing in something despite insufficient evidence. No one ‘had a seizure,’ what they did was to point out the blatant error of this false equivocation.

    [michaelegnor] Faith is belief based on incomplete evidence. It is indispensable to ordinary life and to any real knowledge, because our evidence is nearly always incomplete.

    You tried to asset that theology has a role in establishing historical facts. What commenters did was to point out that the theology is dependent upon the historical facts, not the other way round.

    On and on and on, all in black and white. There is no motte to retreat to.

  381. chikoppi says:

    Ugh. Autocorrect makes quoting difficult on an iPad.

    [michaelegnor] Faith is belief based on incomplete evidence. It is indispensable to ordinary life and to any real knowledge, because our evidence is nearly always incomplete.

    You tried to asset that theology has a role in establishing historical facts. What commenters did was to point out that the theology is dependent upon the historical facts, not the other way round.

    On and on and on, all in black and white. There is no motte to retreat to.

  382. Willy says:

    I think Dr. Egnor can best be understood by a comment he made a number of months ago on another thread: “I come here because i like the fight” (possibly a paraphrase of his original).

    He is not interested in exchanging ideas, nor in trying to justify his opinions with facts. He is here to belittle and, in his mind, dazzle us with his “brilliance” and “deep knowledge” of philosophy–well, at least that philosophy which is consistent with his thinking.

  383. Pete A says:

    Willy, As usual, you hit the nail straight on the head; aka: you nailed it!

  384. Sophie says:

    Michael Egnor really is the way he acts on this blog. Also he’s a talented neurosurgeon by all accounts and responsible for educating med students. Somehow this is possible. God truly works in mysterious ways. You almost have to respect that and just be awestruck.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wH5VDkNGjHk

    In this discussion you can see him repeat many of the same ideas he has discussed on this blog in the last week. Along with some things I haven’t heard in my limited experience with him, but if I know anything about human nature some of you might find these familiar:

    Modern medicine owes everything to the Christian faith. Hospitals are in many ways a Christian invention. Bioethics is a Christian concept. Christian concepts were guiding principles for the development of modern medicine. Modern bioethics discriminates against certain human lives and advocates for their murder. Darwin brought this on, and called for survival of the fittest human beings. Joseph Fletcher is also to blame for modern bioethics— claims he argued if you euthanize with love it’s okay. Peter Singer is a scary guy, claims he advocates infanticide of unwanted children and that intelligent pets have more right to life than a newborn human baby. Mainstream Christian anti-abortion arguments.

    15min 23 sec in Name drops Thomas Aquinas in a discussion about abortion. Claims that Aquinas’ ethics originated the idea of it always being illegitimate to target a human life for the purpose of ending it.
    Sophie quick factcheck: Aquinas wrote extensively on how it’s okay to kill heretics. He was also in favor of early term abortions, or at least his writings were used to form that position as the Catholic Church’s official stance till the 1800s. He also didn’t believe that fetuses had a soul until “quickening” – when the fetus began to move. Once again Egnor doesn’t even know his Aquinas. Aquinas is quoted in Roe V. Wade dumbass.

    Egnor Goes on to doublespeak some more about Aquinas’ ethics. Embryo research and cloning is greatly against human rights — mainstream Christian stuff. Arguments that assisted suicide relieves pain and suffering, are “factually untrue.” “All kinds of suffering in terminal illnesses can be alleviated.” Doctors are the last people who should be assisting suicide, anyone but doctors, we are not killers.

    About persistent vegetative state(PVS), Egnor the neurosurgeon, claims it was decided by the establishment that these patients are not people and that he doubts PVS is a valid medical diagnosis. Cites a pretty dubious sounding fMRI study. (Also makes no mention of minimally conscious state or locked-in, which are actually much closer what he is talking about, an huge mistake for a neurosurgeon if you ask me)

    36:19 After a discussion about visiting a holocaust memorial site Egnor claims:

    The principle that motivated the people who ran Auschwitz, was the principle that there were certain kinds of human beings who lacked sufficient dignity to have a right to life. And eugenics, as well as abortion, as well as a whole spectrum of, I believe, bioethical sins, are very much a part of that same philosophy. We are singling out people who we say are not fully human, we can do to them what we want, and that’s a very unchristian way of looking at human beings. The eugenics movement took a tremendous blow from WW2, prior to WW2 the eugenics movement, particularly in the US and in Germany, it was very big in Germany… The eugenics movement was wildly popular. After WW2 eugenicists realized that when their principles were really carried out, fully, that it was a pretty ugly business, and they kinda went underground. There was a man named Fredrick Osborne, who was the president of the American eugenics society in the 1950s, who changed eugenics, and changed it radically, he was a brilliant man, and he gave a talk to the American eugenics society, in the mid 50s, and he said that we have a problem with eugenics, and the problem is what the nazis did, because people now associate us with that. So we have to change the way we do eugenics. And what he suggested was a program that he called voluntary unconscious selection, and his idea was that you have to make people want eugenics, you can’t sell eugenics as pointing at people and saying you’re inferior and we need to get rid of you, instead you have to make people think: I don’t want to procreate, because there is something wrong with my germ plasm, maybe it’s better if I don’t have that baby. He suggested a motto, and he motto was, every child a wanted child. If you think about it, it has two meanings, obviously every child should be wanted, but what he was saying is that if he child isn’t wanted it shouldn’t be born. And every child a wanted child, you can buy now t shirts and coffee cups with that Motto from Planned Parenthood. So the eugenics movement didn’t go away. We are a much more deeply eugenics society than we were in the early 20th century. Eugenics has not gone into eclipse, but now it’s voluntary unconscious selection. We are wanting it, women are going to clinics to get their baby tested to see if their baby can be aborted. Whereas a hundred years ago they resisted it. Now we are not resisting it anymore.

    (There you have it Nazi death camps = planned parenthood. No mention of how Hitler just used the Jews and undesirables as political scapegoats for the country’s problems, eugenics was used to grant the cover of legitimacy not the motivator behind his actions.)

    As we can see from this summary there are some continuous themes in his speech. These are symptoms of some problematic character flaws. Most notably ignorance, he doesn’t know much about any of the topics he talks about. From the Nazi-Planned Parenthood equivocation to the deliberate misrepresentation of what his hero Aquinas actually wrote about abortion, it’s obvious that he doesn’t know the facts. You can also see him smile with glee when he connects Nazi death with abortion clinics. When you combine ignorance with fanatical religious ideology you get all sorts of crazy. Conflation of evolutionary theory with social Darwinism, Christian exceptionalism etc.

    It’s really obvious what happened to this man, he got all his details from Christian authors. He never learned about the rise of Hitler in a history textbook, but instead in some fanatical Christian author’s rant about it. His sources for the history of the planet are all people who tossed in certain historical details to make their motivated reasoning arguments work.

    Some positives: I really expected him to be much less professional, he was really respectful in the video discussion and didn’t cut people off or anything. I guess this could be just because he’s in an environment of people who are all Christians. There was like 8 people in the audience. But sill he was pretty respectful and not trollish at all.

    I can’t imagine how he would perform in a formal debate.

  385. MosBen says:

    Willy, also his view of this specific issue is totally dependent on his faith. He believes he has had personal experiences with the object of his faith, so historical sources simply don’t matter. He’s happy to cite to Aquinas or whatever, but it’s unnecessary to his belief that the Bible is a reliable historical text. If we discovered some historical source that showed that some historical source that he’s cited here is incontrovertibly unreliable, he’s just jettison it with no change to his underlying opinion. Arguing about the historicity of Jesus is pointless because he doesn’t recognize the validity of this type of inquiry. If we all agreed with him, great. If we don’t agree with him then there is no piece of evidence that will change his mind. He’ll just keep reiterating the same bad arguments and telling people that they’re going to Hell.

  386. BillyJoe7 says:

    edamame,

    I was talking about philosophy in the context of deriving truth claims – which should have been obvious from the context (and the context of this thread). Philosophy divorced from science is useless in this regard. Of course you can enjoy philiosophy for its own sake as an intellectual exercise. You must have missed my comment to CML (who whoever that guy is who hands out love like candy to little children) – “whatever rocks your boat”. But these guys don’t use it just for intellectual exercise, they create impenetrable “sophisticated theology” nonsense like in that guy’s last comment. And they think that, if they exude enough “love” along with their nonsense, we will just fall for it.

  387. RickK says:

    What an amazing discussion.

    Michael Egnor certainly does this blog a great service. Here is an educated guy with a high level of achievement in a science-dependent occupation, yet his motivated reasoning has him stuck in the 13th Century – religiously, culturally, morally and scientifically. And his bursts of arrogant, sanctimonious bigotry paint such useful portrait of what this blog opposes.

    We had a reasonably nuanced discussion about the historicity of Jesus. But now it has been drailed by a self-identified conservative Catholic who has managed, in a blog full of atheists, to display the lowest level of “Christian charity” in the room.

    I mean really – who outside of the Westboro Baptist Church seriously uses the term “sodomite” these days?

    And it takes motivated reasoning and hypocrisy enough to fill St. Peter’s Basilica for an educated Catholic to criticize the historical excesses of anybody else’s church. Even a cursory glance at Popes from Michael’s favorite century displays a lovely set of men who, when they weren’t warring with and murdering each other, achieved such milestones as kicking off more Crusades, initiating Inquisitions and issuing proclamations condoning the torture of heretics. And, given recent events, who doesn’t laugh out loud at Michael’s righteous indignation toward homosexuals in the clergy?

    Michael spews vitriol at people for being atheist, for being Anglican, or for refusing to question the gospel of ancient thinkers who were able to conceive of such devastating arguments as:
    – Assume teleology;
    – If teleology then God;
    – Therefore God.

    Note: if Aquinas were alive today, with his apparent wide-ranging curiosity, he’d be soaking up modern cosmology and neuroscience and battling evidence-blind, throwback tribalists like Egnor (or would dismiss them as unworthy of the effort).

    Finally, as others have pointed out, the contrast in character between the two doctors – the self-professed atheist and the self-professed conservative Catholic – is striking and illustrative.

    Thank you, Michael.

  388. BillyJoe7 says:

    …thanks for your understanding of context, mumadadd.
    Oh, and edamame…please don’t use the word “scientism”. It’s a stupid meaningless stawman word used by those who find science inconvenient to their religious perspective.

  389. Pete A says:

    I sincerely hope that Dr Egnor never eats fish because, despite his claims, fMRI cannot be relied upon to delineate between the living and the dead:
    https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/scicurious-brain/ignobel-prize-in-neuroscience-the-dead-salmon-study/

  390. edamame says:

    BJ7 no it is a word to denote people who think that science is the only method for acquiring knowledge.

  391. Willy says:

    Given believers like Dr. Egnor, it’s easy to see how things like the Inquisition and ISIS can happen. With the certainty of the one true God being on one’s side and the certainty that one KNOWS what that God wants, all kinds of horrors can ensue.

    I am curious, Doc, since even you admit that the Bible is riddled with errors, how do you know what is true and what isn’t? If even the Pope can’t be trusted to recognize what is true (f’rinstance, climate change), what special insight do you have?

  392. edamame says:

    BJ7 so if you mean by ‘philosophy’ to refer solely to ‘theology’ then we might agree. Though frankly I think you may not appreciate not realize how big a tent ‘theology’ is. E.g., it includes Spinoza for instance.

    Philosophy is even bigger, and when you start suggesting that philosophy (in the context of deriving truth claims) is useless, you are doing philosophy. And you end up in a conundrum.

    I understand the context of what you were saying, but the actual words you were writing were starting to make very general claims. I’m fine if I am wrong in my interpretation, dialing it in to what you actually meant and restricting the scope.

    But this tendency to dismiss entire fields of thought is sort of silly. Courtier’s reply can just as easily be the courtier’s excuse. Sure Aquinas may suck, but that is one branch of the tree that includes atheist theologians too. I’m not defending them, but I wouldn’t just dismiss them. I just am disinterested in them.

  393. Sophie says:

    Willy,

    Michael Egnor is a Catholic who believes that Anglicans are worse than atheists. He claims Anglicans pretend to be Christians to lead souls away from God. JP2 and other popes have reached out to Anglican leaders and made it easy for them to convert and become Catholic priests.

    If he expresses such a massively contradictory argument as a Catholic. I really think he will have no problem saying the popes are wrong about climate change.

  394. Sophie says:

    We are talking about someone who neglects to mention the Jewish people, antisemitism or the final solution when talking about the holocaust. Right after visiting Auschwitz. Stupidity does not even begin to describe the man.

    He smiled with glee when connecting Nazi death camps to Planned Parenthood clinics. Fanaticism, doesn’t sufficiently capture his ideology.

    He repeatedly claimed how for 2000 years there was no debate as to when human love began, it began at conception. Claimed that his hero Aquinas originated some of these ideas. Meanwhile Aquinas is quoted in the roe v wade decision as someone who believed lived began at the moment of and infant movement. And this was the church’s official position till the 1800s. Ignorant doesn’t fairly describe him.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wH5VDkNGjHk

    Good luck communicating with this monster.

  395. BillyJoe7 says:

    edamame,

    It’s a bit like speaking out against intolerance. You can be accused of intolerance…of intolerance. But it’s not much of an argument.

    Scientism fails as an argument depending of how inclusive you are about what constitutes science. Regardless, it is really only used pejoritively by those who want to dismiss the inconvenient scientific evidence.

  396. Sophie says:

    About scientism,

    I have to say you both make valid arguments. I think it comes down to the definition we choose to use. This helped me:
    https://www.aaas.org/page/what-scientism

  397. Sophie says:

    From the AAAS page:

    Scientism, on the other hand, is a speculative worldview about the ultimate reality of the universe and its meaning. Despite the fact that there are millions of species on our planet, scientism focuses an inordinate amount of its attention on human behavior and beliefs. Rather than working within carefully constructed boundaries and methodologies established by researchers, it broadly generalizes entire fields of academic expertise and dismisses many of them as inferior. With scientism, you will regularly hear explanations that rely on words like “merely”, “only”, “simply”, or “nothing more than”. Scientism restricts human inquiry.

  398. GHL says:

    BillyJoe7, I would caution you to self-examine your approach in this as you can end up doing more harm than good. Your somewhat childish play of purposefully getting my username wrong does nothing to support your position, it’s an easy thing to check, my comments are a short scroll away.
    You are dipping your toes in motivated reasoning here, your worldview requires my intentions be of a particular kind and you are doing everything you can to twist how I have represented myself to match it, to the point of starting to use Egnor’s language. I am not trying to convert you, my experience and understanding of my faith leads me to believe that every human deserves to be approached with love and respect, so that is how I try to live out my life. I don’t require anything back from you.
    You are doing philosophy to dismiss it outside of science, well done. Your comments seem to match at least part of the definition of scientism provided by Sophie and your lack of understanding of other academic fields leads you to dismiss them on poor terms.

    ME. All of Christianity has a mournfully poor history with anti-semitism, bringing up the Holocaust only highlights your hypocrisy.

  399. Willy says:

    Sophie: ME is a climate change denier and has noted that the Pope is wrong on CC. My comment was dig at ME and nothing more. :«)

  400. michaelegnor says:

    GHL:

    [All of Christianity has a mournfully poor history with anti-semitism, bringing up the Holocaust only highlights your hypocrisy]

    I didn’t bring up the Holocaust in this thread. Sophie qoted me in my old blog pointing out the obvious parallel between eugenics of the Holocaust and eugenics of Planned Parenthood. The numbers of dead in the two Holocausts are 6 million Jews and 50 million babies, respectively.

    Regarding the history of Christianity, it is not at all “mournfully poor”. It is huge, and has lasted 2000 years, so bad things have been done in its name, but it remains the best thing that has ever happened to mankind.

    Anglicanism is just a particularly corrupt aspect of Christendom. Starting out with Henry VIII, ending up with an embrace of abortion and sodomy, it is a blight on the Body of Christ.

  401. Sophie says:

    Michael Egnor,

    Sophie qoted me in my old blog pointing out the obvious parallel between eugenics of the Holocaust and eugenics of Planned Parenthood. The numbers of dead in the two Holocausts are 6 million Jews and 50 million babies, respectively.

    Actually it’s from a video:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wH5VDkNGjHk

    Aquinas is referenced in Roe v wade. He didn’t believe life began at conception like you say in this video. The Catholic Church only changed its position in the 1800s, it used to hold Aquinas’ view on how when a fetus moves that’s when it gets its soul.

    Also taking someone who is currently out in the world living their life and killing them (holocaust). Is not the same as ending an unwanted pregnancy. (Abortion)

    This is the kind of morally bankrupt arguments you make. Your cognition is rotten to its core.

  402. michaelegnor says:

    Soph:

    [Also taking someone who is currently out in the world living their life and killing them (holocaust). Is not the same as ending an unwanted pregnancy. (Abortion)]

    “Ending an unwanted pregnancy” is carrying the baby to term, delivering him healthy, and giving him up for adoption. The unwanted pregnancy is ended, and the child lives.

    Abortion isn’t merely “ending an unwanted pregnancy”; it’s killing the baby to end the pregnancy.

    The “killing the baby” part is the problem.

  403. Willy says:

    “The “killing the baby” part is the problem.”

    But, sending that same baby later in life to eternal damnation is JUST FINE.

  404. bachfiend says:

    Michael,

    You don’t think it’s right to have an abortion of an unwanted pregnancy. Easily solved – just don’t have an abortion.

    You’re insisting that your rights should trump the rights of other people. The right of women to not be forced to carry to term an unwanted pregnancy.

    Unborn foetuses don’t have rights. Legally, they’re not regarded as ‘persons’. Even when there was a referendum to endow ‘personhood’ from conception, it failed miserably.

    Even you agree that this is true. In the Colorado case when the father of 7 month gestation twins attempted to sue a Catholic hospital for malpractice after his wife died of a massive pulmonary embolism, you thought that it was very good that the hospital’s lawyers had successfully defended the case on the basis that the 7 month gestation twins weren’t persons, and thus had no legal standing. Despite at least three Catholic bishops thinking that such a defence was seriously wrong.

    The malpractice case could, and should, have been easily and successfully defended. The doctors were trying to save the patient’s life. An unsuccessful outcome isn’t necessarily malpractice (and it wasn’t in this case).

    The rights of an individual to decide what happens her trumps your right to force her to do something she doesn’t want to do.

  405. Sophie says:

    Its hilarious that in that YouTube video Dr Michael Egnor falsely states that the Catholic Church thought for 2000 years without question that all human life was sacred and began at conception. Meanwhile his hero Aquinas, explicitly said that fetuses don’t have souls till they can move. And this was the churches position till the 1800s. Aquinas is even referenced in the Roe v Wade decision. Ouch!

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Christian_thought_on_abortion

    That would make me so mad if I was a fundamentalist Christian who just loved Aquinas so damn much. To one day discover that my hero, who I championed as this towering Catholic intellect, actually thought that from conception till around 20 weeks, fetuses had no souls. Oh also Aquinas straight up thought heretics should be killed. He also thought witches and literal demons walked he earth.

    How ignorant do have to be to reference Aquinas in a conversation about life beginning at conception?

    Also please just shut up about the holocaust, you don’t know the difference between killing ten year old children vs killing a mass of cells that even your hero Aquinas thought had no soul. Documented fact.

    Your fanaticism is showing. You have a whole monologue in that video about the holocaust and you neglected to mention Jews, Hitler or anti Semitism. It’s just unforgivable. And you keep doing it. I would love to hear you say these arguments in a formal debate. Also here’s a limited summary of the history of antisemitism in your religion:
    https://www.ushmm.org/research/the-center-for-advanced-holocaust-studies/programs-ethics-religion-the-holocaust/articles-and-resources/christian-persecution-of-jews-over-the-centuries

    P.S. Aquinas thought that from conception till 16-25 weeks fetuses had no soul. Just in case you missed it sweetheart 😉

  406. RickK says:

    “Regarding the history of Christianity, it is not at all “mournfully poor”. It is huge, and has lasted 2000 years, so bad things have been done in its name, but it remains the best thing that has ever happened to mankind.” Yeah, so long as we’re not talking about Protestants!

    So Christianity is better than learning to speak or read, better than learning to wash hands and boil water, better than learning to print books, better than the discovery of fire or that stuff is made of atoms, better than agriculture…?

    Michael, you can out-ego Donald Trump! “The universe has a purpose and that purpose is me and the select few people who thimpnk exactly as I do! My thoughts are the BEST! My religion is the greatest thing EVER! So my religion did some bad things way back in history. That thing with raping kids and rewarding the guys who covered it up – that was YEARS ago!”

    What do you call your activity on this blog, Michael? Trolling for Christ?

  407. Sophie says:

    Dr Michael Egnor,

    Here’s a summary of what your hero Aquinas actually thought about the state of fetuses in early pregnancies:

    Summa Theologica delineates St. Thomas Aquinas’s opinion on the moral status of the embryo or fetus and the act of abortion. His discussion of sin, morality, and murder indicates his views on the development of life within the womb. These sections show that Aquinas believed in the progression of life from a “vegetable”-like, unanimated state to an animal life and finally to a human, animated state. Summa Theologica offers no defense of abortion as a permissible act at any stage in the pregnancy, but it does specify that once the fetus has become animated (when he believed ensoulment of the living human being took place), it is homicide to kill it. This measure of ensoulment or delayed hominization (the belief that the embryo or fetus was not a human life with a soul until a particular event after conception) is typically equated with the stage at which quickening took place—defined by Aristotle as forty days for boys and eighty days after conception for girls.

    https://embryo.asu.edu/pages/st-thomas-aquinas-c-1225-1274

    Oh the irony! That must just make your want to scream huh? The words of your hero are used to argue for embryo research, and are also referenced in the Roe V Wade decision that led to all those abortions. That must just chap your hide.

    Quickening is defined as when kicks are first identifiable by the mother. We now know they don’t first occur 40-80 days after conception but rather 16-25 weeks later. Don’t blame Aristotle, which Aquinas simply copied, he didn’t know the fetal development timeline. Aquinas didn’t even know that babies kick earliest at 16 weeks not 40 days, just what you would expect from a medieval author with no divine knowledge.

    The church held this position on the ensoulment of fetuses from the 13th century till 1869. Egnor falsely claims that the 1869 position of souls being there at conception was the case for 2000 years here at 15:30:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wH5VDkNGjHk

    Oh how happy it makes me that Egnor’s hero, who’s name he invokes to argue against abortion, didn’t consider the mass of cells from conception till months later to have a soul. He even explicitly stated that it wouldn’t be homicide to end those pregnancies, but it would be after the quickening.

    All this really puts this morally bankrupt person into context when they tell me that abortions equal the genocide in the holocaust. He doesn’t even the positions held by his heroes, how can we expect him to know anything?

  408. michaelegnor says:

    Oooo… Sopie.

    Nothing pisses off an SJW like challenging her right to kill her own children for her convenience.

    Abortion is atheism’s sacrament. There is no narcissism so deep as the narcissism that we have the right to kill our children if we “choose”.

    Raw evil.

  409. michaelegnor says:

    RickK:

    [So Christianity is better than learning to speak or read, better than learning to wash hands and boil water, better than learning to print books, better than the discovery of fire or that stuff is made of atoms, better than agriculture…?]

    Much of the advancement in science and culture in the West came from Christianity. Classical learning was preserved in monasteries after the fall of Rome. Essentially all education in the West was done by the Church from 500 AD to 1900. Modern science is wholly Christian in its origins–essentially all of the great scientists of the Scientific Revolution were Christians, and the original scientists (Albert Magnus, Roger Bacon) were Dominican and Franciscan friars.

    Compare the parts of the world that didn’t have Christianity–Africa, much of Asia– with Christian Europe. Modern science arose only in Christian civilization.

  410. BillyJoe7 says:

    ME: “Much of the advancement in science and culture in the West came from Christianity”

    I’m happy to accept this for the sake of argument (though, of course, it is plain bullshit).
    And I love the dramatic, ironic, and true conclusion of this otherwise faery tale – Christianity being slaughtered by the master slayer Science to whom it gave birth.

    Exquisite.

  411. BillyJoe7 says:

    …and, yeah, foetus =/= child.

  412. michaelegnor says:

    BJ:

    You’re right–Christianity has certainly been set back by scientism. Scientism of course isn’t science, it’s a philosophical mistake pretending to be science. It is in the West today one of Christianity’s two greatest foes–consumerism being the other.

    Neither consumerism nor scientism will prevail. But they will drag down many souls, like yours for example.

  413. michaelegnor says:

    BJ:

    […and, yeah, foetus =/= child.]

    Human life begins at conception, and all human lives are persons. A young person is a child. A fetus is a child.

    That a fetus is a human being is science, by the way. Personhood is a philosophical/moral concept, but human being (homo sapiens) is a scientific concept.

    A new homo sapiens begins at conception. basic biology. Funny how people who worship science are so quick to discard basic science when it interferes with their ideology.

  414. mumadadd says:

    edamame,

    Thanks for the link to Second Philosophy; I read a bit of it yesterday and it looks interesting.

  415. GingTho says:

    Hey Sophie, you can scrub No. 6 from your list. I think I got through to him. LOL

  416. edamame says:

    Don’t even let that BS slide. Dr Egnor, in his adoration of The Church, has a little blind spot. Like the Dark Ages.

    Greek texts such as many texts of Aristotle were actually being studied and preserved by Arabic scholars, not Christian scholars, who had censored them and lost them.

    The Inquisition. The Condemnations. Giordano Bruno. The Crusades.

    We wouldn’t have needed an Enlightenment or Reformation if there were no Dark Ages of intellectual stagnation and oppression driven by Catholic intellectual dictatorship. A bastion of evidence-denying dogmatists who wouldn’t even allow Galileo to say that the Earth moved. The Catholic Church during the period he talks about provides the textbook definition of dogmatism.

    Science emerged despite their best efforts, not because of their best efforts.

    What is great is this guy berates others for being dogmatic and believing in things with good evidence (e.g., evolution). Congratulations, you’ve gone full hypocrite.

    Why don’t you just admit it: the Earth doesn’t move.

  417. BillyJoe7 says:

    GML,

    “I would caution you to self-examine your approach in this as you can end up doing more harm than good”

    The more harm I can do to your smarmy little attitude here the better.

    “Your somewhat childish play of purposefully getting my username wrong does nothing to support your position, it’s an easy thing to check, my comments are a short scroll away”

    See how uncharitable you can be? Now don’t you feel better!
    But, unfortunately, you are wrong. It wasn’t childish, and it wasn’t on purpose. In truth, I was just waking up and replying bleary eyed on my iphone lying on the charger on my bedside table which is a bugger to scroll up on.

    “You are dipping your toes in motivated reasoning here, your worldview requires my intentions be of a particular kind and you are doing everything you can to twist how I have represented myself to match it, to the point of starting to use Egnor’s language”

    Now that was damn uncharitable.

    “I am not trying to convert you, my experience and understanding of my faith leads me to believe that every human deserves to be approached with love and respect”

    That’s three times now.
    BillyJoe has a lot of patience but he is going to get pretty angry soon.
    He does not like to be loved by total strangers.
    It makes him very suspicious about hidden intentions.
    And it definitely does not feel good.

    “so that is how I try to live out my life. I don’t require anything back from you”

    Well, you are. You require me to just lie there while you ejaculate your love all over me.
    Well, let me tell you now…I am not going to take this lying down!

    “You are doing philosophy to dismiss it outside of science, well done”

    Thank you. I knew you’d see it my way in the end.
    You have seen that “survival of the fittest” is not a circular argument.
    You are perfectly happy to “tolerate everything except intolerance”.
    You have now also seen that you can do philosophy to diss philosophy.
    Well done also.

    “Your comments seem to match at least part of the definition of scientism provided by Sophie”

    See what I mean, Sophie.
    Scientism is a word used by science denying religious apologists to deny the science that is suffocating them to extinction.
    There are no scientismists.
    Look up any dictionary.

    “and your lack of understanding of other academic fields leads you to dismiss them on poor terms”

    Yeah well, I have this book on faeries that I’m reading so your shit will just have to wait in line.

  418. edamame says:

    Just to be clear, the Catholic Church didn’t always revere and maintain Aristotle’s work: such work had to be recovered in the 12th Century. Arabic and other scholars in the East never lost interest, and actively maintained and studied Aristotle’s work:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recovery_of_Aristotle

    For instance, Avicenna and Averroes were Arabic philosophers engaging in voluminous highly-regarded Aristotle commentary before Aquinas was a twinkle in his momma’s eye. Aquinas was familiar with their work.

    I guess one good thing about the Crusades is that the Keystone Cop church unwittingly bumbled upon an intellectual treasure chest in the East that they had been actively neglecting for hundreds of years, a treasure-trove that the Arabs had long-been actively cultivating. I guess when you are in a Dark long enough, even if you steal someone else’s flashlight it might feel like you invented the light.

  419. BillyJoe7 says:

    ME,

    A new life begins at fertilisation.
    A new person begins wth sentience.

    No science denial and no religious/ideological bullshit.

  420. edamame says:

    BJ7 you seem to have been triggered by GHL who has been pretty reasonable in these discussions.

    Scientism is the view that science is the only way to gain knowledge. Do you agree with this or not?

    This is not a straw man: some people believe it, historically especially it was popular. Logical empiricists, logical positivists especially tended to be scientistic. Have you read Language, Truth, and Logic by AJ Ayer? I recommend you read the first couple of chapters if you want to see a pretty unalloyed example of scientistic thinking: it was incredibly popular and influential. It is this kind of positivistic thinking that many people are (implicitly) referring to when they talk about scientism.

    So when you say that ‘scientism’ is just anti-science, or used by religious people, this is really just not true, it suggests you aren’t familiar with the history of the term, the philosophical background, etc.. It wasn’t invented by internet trolls: it has been co-opted by internet trolls like Egnor, but frankly you can’t trust a sentence about philosophy that man says.

    Here is a halfway decent web page on scientism:
    http://www.philosophybasics.com/branch_scientism.html

    The criticism is not great, frankly, but the introduction is fair to how most philosophers (who are not science deniers, whatever that means) use the term. Generally it isn’t a tool of religious apologists, not in general anyway, even though they have co-opted the term. But you are right it is usually used in a pejorative sense, because nobody really believes it any more. But I recommend you read Ayer, and even some of the older Bertrand Russell of his Principia Mathematica days was scientistic, where everything was to be expressible in the language of the predicate calculus.

    Before Godel came along, people really thought you would be able to express every truth formally, that there would be a kind of beautiful union between science and logic and math and all truths would fit together nicely in a kind of unified scientific synthesis. Godel totally wrecked that shit. So did Quine, and Sellars, and Penelope Maddy nicely expresses the more modern epistemic view (Second Philosophy).

    But scientism was real.

  421. Sophie says:

    Did we all just see how he skipped past the blatant contradictions in his own statements? This isn’t no basic contradiction, this is the words of his own intellectual hero.

    Unlike Dr Michael Egnor, Aquinas did not think souls entered the picture at conception. Nether did the church until 1869. Egnor’s hero Aquinas didn’t consider it homicide until the quickening. Aquinas’ writing is quoted in Roe V Wade and pro-embryo research arguments. Egnor tells us that we don’t know Aquinas when we challenge his teleological arguments, turns out Egnor himself knows so little about Aquinas he doesn’t know the man would have disagreed with him.

    How awesome is that? What could be a more devastating defeat? Your own hero who you use to defend your extreme views on abortion, thought so differently about the time from conception till months in.

    How crazy is that the church only changed this stance relativity recently (1869)? This whole all life is sacred, early term abortions = homicide stuff, souls enter at conception… is pretty new. Even a fundamentalist like Dr Egnor thought that the church held its 1869 stance for 2000 years.

    This is like when Italian people tell me their mama’s pizza sauce recipe is based on a thousand year old tradition. Meanwhile tomatoes weren’t introduced to Europe till the discovery of the Americans.

    Egnor, your sauce ain’t so new either. Aquinas himself, a medieval scholar, would disagree with you on many of the things you invoke his name to defend. The more I learn about Aquinas the more I think he would side with us today. He soaked in all the scientific knowledge his culture had at the time. He would have studied the heck out of evolution. Certainly he would learn the basics like the arguments for Altruism that I learned in my first ever evolution class, which Egnor claims do not exist.

  422. michaelegnor says:

    edamame:

    Let me help you with your historical misunderstandings.

    The Roman Empire collapsed in the 5th century. Islam consolidated its conquests in the 8th century. From the 5th to the 8th century–the Dark Ages more or less–Islam didn’t exist, therefore it didn’t preserve classical scholarship.

    Classical learning was preserved mainly in two venues–Irish monks off the west coast of Ireland preserved it and gave it back to Europe via St. Columba and his monks via the Hiberno-Scottish mission. Muslims had nothing to do with it, because they didn’t exist.

    In the East, classical scholarship was preserved in Byzantium, which was the descendant of the Eastern Roman Empire. Many of the Byzantine (Christian) scholars were arabic.

    Islam rose in the 7th century in Arabia and invaded much of Byzantium by the 8th century. Included in Islamic conquest were many Byzantine Christian scholars, who had preserved classical learning in the East. Even after the Islamic conquests, most of the population in the occupied territories was not Muslim (Christians predominated, with some Jews and pagans), and the majority would not become Muslim for several centuries. Rodney Stark, a historian who has studied this extensively, estimates that it was 200-300 years before the majority in Muslim territories were muslims. The muslim conquerors permitted this because dhimmis could be taxed, and muslims could not be. To maintain revenue, the caliphs preferred to have non-muslim populations.

    The Latin West lagged behind the Byzantine East in scholarship until the High Middle Ages. But the scholarship was not preserved by Islam, which was merely an invading and occupying army. Classical learning was preserved almost entirely by Christians. In the West, it took centuries for the scholarship preserved by Columba’s monks and their spiritual descendants to get into the universities of Europe (which were all founded by Christians). The main inpetus for Western advance in scholarship was the reforms of Charlemagne (the first Holy Roman Emperor) via Alcuin and St. Anslem. None of it was Islamic.

    In the East, several Islamic scholars did develop an interest in the classical subjects that had been preserved by Christian Byzantine scholars that the muslims had conquered. While some of these “Islamic” scholars were certainly Muslim (Avenncia and Averoes), the religion of many of the scholars cannot be ascertained with certainty. Most of the captive population was non-Muslim, and scholarship flourished in the remaining Byzantine remnant. A prime example of this phenomenon was Maimomides, who was Jewish but who posed as muslim for decades to get support for his work.

    The collapse of Islamic (scholarship) coincided with the conversion of most of the inhabitants of conquered territories to Islam. Islam is a catastrophe for learning or scholarship of any sort, as a glance at the modern world makes clear.

    Classical learning was preserved almost entirely by Christians. Islam had practically nothing to do with it, except for conquering Byzantine territories that had Christian scholars in it.

    And the references to the Crusades at expropriation of Islamic learning is a bizarre inversion of what really happened. The Islamic conquests of the 7th and 8th centuries exproriated Christian (and Jewish and Persian) learning, and the Crusades were a (belated) effort to protect Christians subjugated to Islamic tyranny. Regretably, the Crusades were unsuccessful in liberating Christians from captivity, and the horror going on in the Middle East today–a genuine anti-Christian genocide–is a late result of that failure to liberate Christians from the Islamic boot.

  423. michaelegnor says:

    I note, edamame, your bizarre infatuation with Islam, and your historically ignorant claim that Islam preserved classical scholarship after the fall of Rome. That’s an odd view to hold, given that Rome fell in 476 and Islam wasn’t even in existence until 622.

    Who was it who preserved classical learning then? New Atheists? Some Dark Age Bill Nye?

    It is amusing to see so many atheists with such love for Islamic culture. My suggestion, moron, is that you travel to Syria, look up the local ISIS enthusiasts, and tell them that you are a non-Islamaphobic atheist who reveres Islamic scholarship.

    You’ll learn a lot about Islamic civilization in the brief time remaining in your life.

  424. Sophie says:

    Egnor,

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_hospitals

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_inventions_in_the_medieval_Islamic_world

    So the most famous ancient doctor lived his whole life before Jesus. And hospitals existed well before Christianity. And the Islamic world gave humanity so many things. Discoveries in math, medicine, systems of government. Early childhood education etc.

    Once again Egnor you know nothing about history except that which is written in books written by fundamentalist fanatical Christians like yourself.

    P.S. Aquinas didn’t think it was homicide to kill a fetus till months in. His words are referenced in pro embryo research and roe v wade. Still waiting on your reply coward.

  425. michaelegnor says:

    Sophie:

    At least the abortion debate got you to belatedly learn something about Aquinas.

    Aquinas held that life began at ensoulment. He didn’t know modern biology, so he used the knowledge available at the time, which suggested that ensoulment occurred sometime after conception.

    Modern biology makes it clear that ensoulment (“soul” understood classically as the organizational pronciple of a living thing) occurs at fertilization.

    So Aquinas, if presented with modern biological facts on reproduction, would say that life begins at conception, which is ensoulment.

    Let me know if there’s any other confusion of yours that I can clear up.

  426. michaelegnor says:

    Sophie-the-Islamophilic:

    [Islamic world gave humanity so many things. Discoveries in math, medicine, systems of government. Early childhood education etc.]

    So much luv for the Caliphate. It’s amazing how SJW’s will suck up to the most brutal misogynistic religion if it hates Christianity as much as she does.

    Perhaps if you continue your romance with the Ayatollahs, they’ll let you wear a prettier burka.

  427. Sophie says:

    Michael Egnor,

    It is amusing to see so many atheists with such love for Islamic culture. My suggestion, moron, is that you travel to Syria, look up the local ISIS enthusiasts, and tell them that you are a non-Islamaphobic atheist who reveres Islamic scholarship.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_terrorism

    Oh towering monolith of idiocy, ever hear about the IRA? Northern Ireland? The troubles? What about the crusades? Oh course not, because the fanatical Christian version of history doesn’t mention these events. Christians throughout the ages have also had various standing armies that murdered people.

    Aquinas didn’t think it was homicide to kill a fetus till months in. His words are referenced in pro embryo research and roe v wade. Still waiting for you to explain how it’s okay to reference Aquinas in a discussion about souls at conception and Earlt abotions.

    You misquoted him in that video. He also straight up wrote about how heretics and witches can be murdered. And you claim he valued all human life and argued against ending it.

    You also keep missing the point. He explicitly said that human life progresses from inanimate to animate. And only once a baby is kicking, does ensoulment occur. And then it’s homicide. That means early abortions are not homicide. This is also why his work is referenced in Roe v wade.

  428. michaelegnor says:

    Sophie-in-the-burka:

    Perhaps if you got a burka with wider eye-slits, you could understand more of what you read.

    Aquinas was misinformed about biology. He was right about metaphysics. He believed that human life begins at ensoulment, which we now know occurs at conception.

    You can look it up in your Quran.

  429. edamame says:

    Dr Egnor I focused on Arab scholars because you completely neglected them and acted like Christians were some scholarly beacon on the hill that carried humanity forward. The Catholic church actively censored many works of the Greek philosophers. I never said the Arabs preserved scholarship from the day the Roman empire fell onward. That’s a flagrant straw man, I hope not due to dotage on your part, so I am forced to conclude it’s more of that notorious intellectual dishonesty we hear so much about. It wasn’t until ~12th century that they were finally translated to Latin for the Church to consume.

    Do you miss the Inquisition, Dr Egnor? Are you proud of that intellectual achievement of the Church? Does the Earth move?
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inquisition

    Yes, where would science be without the church?

  430. Sophie says:

    Michael Egnor,

    Any rational observer can see how you lost. You promoted Aquinas as defending your ideas about life at conception. Aquinas himself didn’t consider abortion murder till after the baby kicks — months into development. Aquinas is quoted in Roe v wade! The irony!

    So you now admit Aquinas didn’t know biology. But he also didn’t know causality. Modern physics has shattered pre existing ideas about causality and the nature of the universe. And something that used to be simple like time. Even without getting into quantum. Relativity shows us that simultaneity, two events happening at the same time, which Aquinas would have just taken for granted, is not absolute.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relativity_of_simultaneity

    Keep saying sexist rude things to me just because my name is female. That’s appropriate.

  431. Willy says:

    Wow, ME has stooped to baseless burka and Quran insults. What an intellectual heavyweight.

    He hasn’t the awareness nor the grace to be civil.

  432. Sophie says:

    Edamame,

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neoplatonism_and_Christianity

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Origins_of_Christianity#Influence_on_early_Christian_theology

    Early Christianity took so many ideas from other people. And like you said, just censored and minimized the contributions of others. Egnor didn’t even know Aquinas’ thoughts on embryonic development. I really doubt he’s going to know about the history of Islamic societies and their contributions.

  433. Sophie says:

    Willy,

    Yes it’s especially ironic that he attacks Islam now. When just a few days ago in this thread he was defending Islamic supernatural religious experiences and claimed that the differences between Christianity and Islam are minimal.

    He knows nothing about what he talks about. He’s a Catholic, and claims that Anglicans rob souls from god. Meanwhile popes have made it easy for Anglican pastors to become priests. He doesn’t even know what Catholicism thinks about Anglicanism. Claimed it was “historical facts” he was saying about Anglicanism.

  434. yrdbrd says:

    Hey, this thread has grown! So what did I miss?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UkJehlr1tEw

  435. Willy says:

    yrdbyd: You missed a lot of fun.

  436. Willy says:

    I am shocked to learn that “modern biology” addresses “ensoulment”! Are there any papers on this?

    Who needs slits in a burka when one’s mind does a fine job of acting as a blinder.

  437. chikoppi says:

    [michaelegnor] Modern biology makes it clear that ensoulment (“soul” understood classically as the organizational pronciple of a living thing) occurs at fertilization.

    Yup. It’s true. Researchers at Mayo and Cambridge have successfully observed the soul under an electron microscope. They were shocked to discover during the course of their research that potatoes, as living things that are biologically organized, also have souls. Spread the word, french fries are murder!

  438. tb29607 says:

    Does anyone else think SN started this post just to see how riled up ME would get?
    I confess I have enjoyed observing the show.

  439. Pete A says:

    What about broccoli?

  440. Sophie says:

    When I steam broccoli in the microwave I can hear the souls screaming as they are savaged by science. Oh what a delight.

  441. Sophie says:

    But seriously. If you check out the summa theologica on this issue. The whole point Aquinas was making is that early fetal development goes from being inanimate to animate to possessing a soul. He clearly delineated the steps just like Aristotle. Egnor is missing the whole point of what Aquinas was arguing at the time. That in the womb life develops from being basically just a collection of random cells, to then when babies finally kick months later, that’s when they acquire souls. It’s not just that he didn’t know the biology. From the limited biology he did know, he clearly argued that souls were not there in the early stages. That’s what makes Egnor’s comments hilarious, he doesn’t even know Aquinas, the one person he always name drops. And it turns out that aquinas’ arguments are referenced in Roe v wade decision. It’s just too beautifully ironic.

    https://embryo.asu.edu/pages/st-thomas-aquinas-c-1225-1274

  442. michaelegnor says:

    A very good essay on a previous topic that I thought I’d share with my alarmist friends:

    http://www.realclearscience.com/blog/2017/05/01/how_rachel_carson_and_silent_spring_gave_birth_to_chemophobia.html

  443. Pete A says:

    Steamed and screamed vegetables are very tasty! I’m wondering to which circle of Hell is my destiny as punishment for regularly using a pepper mill.

    That raises a vitally important question: If the soul enters the cells at the moment of fertilisation, or sometime after, then which species that reproduce sexually have souls and which do not?

    Over the years my friends’ children have ask me, after the death of one of their pets, heart-wrenching questions along the lines of: Pete, has my pet gone to Heaven? They ask me because they know full well that I never have, and never will, lie to them; neither do I answer their questions with the easy cop-out: “I don’t know.” followed by silence or a change of subject.

    I cannot truthfully answer their question with “Yes.” or “No.” because there is no evidence to support either of those answers. Different religions provide different answers, and I don’t think that philosophy will ever be able to provide a definitive answer.

  444. bachfiend says:

    Michael,

    DDT has never been banned for malaria control. The 2001 Stockholm Convention on persistent organic pollutants banned it and 11 other chemicals for agriculture, but allowed it to be used in infection control, including spraying it on internal walls.

    I’m interested that Paul Offitt has a new book out ‘Pandora’s Lab’, which I’ve just bought.

    Rodney Stark is wrong why Western Europe developed science. I’ve read his book ‘the Triumph of Christianity’, and he actually provided one of the true reasons early in his book, and it wasn’t Christianity.

    It is the fact that Europe is just so damned hard to unite politically. There are just so many major rivers and mountain ranges dividing the subcontinent up into numerous tiny countries. If the leaders in one country didn’t foster science and learning, then the leaders in another would gaining its benefits.

    China and the Islamic world, owing to geography, were united early. Bad decisions by rulers had adverse effects over its entire civilisation.

    But I think the major fact was that Europe had glass and the Islamic world and China didn’t (which had very fine china). Glass is very useful in making stained glass windows in cathedrals. But it’s vital in making lenses for telescopes and microscopes.

    Gallileo’s telescope came directly out of the military technology of the Dutch wars of liberation in the late 16th and early 17th centuries (it’s very advantageous to be able to see and count your foes at distances of kilometres when the effective range of muskets is less than 300 metres).

    Without microscopes, there’s no possibility of Germ Theory.

    Without glass, there’s no test tubes or glass flasks or tubing, which would have made the development of the science of chemistry difficult if not impossible.

    So glass led to astronomy, microbiology and chemistry in Western Europe.

    And you’re incorrect in stating that Islam didn’t exist until 622 CE. Islam started as a Christian sect along with every other Christian sect (of which there were many). ‘There is but one God (not 2 or 3), and Mohammed (which actually means ‘he who is to be praised’ ie Jesus) is his prophet’ was to distinguish the proto-Islam from all the other Christian sects, including orthodox Christianity with its 3 gods in one.

    And then sometime after the 7th century, the regional rulers changed, and rulers as they often do pick and develop a religion justifying their rule as being useful (think Emperor Constantine). And Islam formed with its fictional account of Mohammed as a real historical person. There’s nothing in the Quran about Mohammed as a person. The first biography was written at least a century after his supposed lifetime. He was fictional because he was Jesus (regardless of whether Jesus was fictional or not).

    And the new rulers were able to use their ‘new’ religion in their wars of conquest, including across North Africa into Spain, which became a centre of learning in the Medieval World, until Christianity reclaimed it in the late 15th century.

    Just because Islam controlled Spain doesn’t mean that Christian scholars weren’t able to visit Spain to learn the ancient teachings. And they did. All the Christian monasteries were able to think to do with their ancient scripts was to scrape them off and write over them.

  445. Willy says:

    New York water is famously said to be responsible for the excellent quality of the bagels and pizza crusts produced there. I am quite skeptical of this claim as I make excellent water bagels and pizza crusts where I live, which is far, far from NY. Nonetheless, I am wondering if there isn’t “something” in the NY water: witness Dr. Egnor and Donald Trump.

  446. bachfiend says:

    Willy,

    New York is a very big city (and state) with many people. The Bell Curve means that with large populations there will be larger numbers of loons (such as Michael Egnor and Donald Trump) at the looniness end of the spectrum.

    Although the looniness spectrum only follows a pseudo-Bell Curve. It’s not possible to have an individual with infinite looniness (such as it’s impossible to have someone taller than 10 metres). Although, with Michael Egnor, sometimes I wonder…

  447. BillyJoe7 says:

    edamame,

    “BJ7 you seem to have been triggered by GHL who has been pretty reasonable in these discussions”

    Michael Egnor is just easy. He has been emasculated by almost everyone who cares to respond to him.He is out there and obvious.
    The GHLs of this world are a different kettle of fish. All reasonable and loving. It’s sickening. In the end you’ll burn in hell for eternity. I love you. But if you don’t love me back, you’ll suffer eternal damnation. Meanwhile, they’re elevating their own position in heaven by proclaiming their love for you. It’s a joke, and that’s how I treat these guys. Hence my last reply to him.

    “Scientism is the view that science is the only way to gain knowledge. Do you agree with this or not?”

    It depends on how you define “science” and “knowledge”.
    If you define science narrowly enough and knowledge broardly enough, then you can make the case that science is not the only way to gain knowledge. But it is not legitimate. And, as soon as you start to, quite reasonably, expand the range of science by explaining how science applies to the humanities, and that knowldege is about evidence and facts, not opinion and emotion, you get a charge of scientism. It’s simply a knee-jerk response. Have you studied music theory or been to a an art class? The art and music supply the emotion, science tells you how the art and music achieves that emotional reponse and how to replicate that in your own art and music. And, in this very thread you have seen science applied to history. If history was “just so” stories, you would not be doing science, and you would not be gaining knowledge.
    And to be very clear, I am not saying that “science will eventually know everything”, or that “science is the only thing that matters”.

  448. GHL says:

    Hi BillyJoe7, you insist on making assumptions and insults based on who you think I am rather than how is have represented myself, in some instances directly contradicting statements I have made right here in the comments. This is why I posited that you are engaging in motivated reasoning, you are showing in your comments that who you think I am is more important than who I represent myself to be. I also question your increasing use of sexual language to portray my intention, it’s weird. And when I said you are doing more harm than good it was out of concern for your argument and point of view, not mine.

    To comment on the developing conversation I would say that the evidence that we have suggests that the best and worst of humanity is our common heritage, no one culture or faith or no faith can claim sole dominance in the story of the development of Science and Medicine and the like and examples of terrible crimes against our common humanity can be laid at the feet of every culture and people. Science and technological development has charged forth in different places and different times and has been accelerated in recent times most strongly by the fact that the world is becoming more connected and populous. The more people from different contexts and cultures you have contributing to our knowledge, ethics and charity the better.

  449. Pete A says:

    GHL,

    FFS, give it a rest! Unless you ‘love’ being on the receiving end of those of us who echo the sentiments of BillyJoe7.

  450. Willy says:

    bachfiend: I was being light-hearted.

  451. bachfiend says:

    Willy,

    So was I – being light-hearted that is. It’s important to be able to laugh about Michael Egnor.

    I still haven’t with Donald Trump though.

  452. Sophie says:

    Bachfiend,

    I see a lot of Trump in Michael Egnor. I understand he is a long time troll of this blog, but his era has definitely come. If there was ever a time to be a fundamentalist Christian pushing nonsense online, this is it.

  453. bachfiend says:

    If Michael Egnor was still writing his blog he’d probably have a thread already supporting the Texas policeman who shot and killed an unarmed 15 year old boy in a car for ‘aggressively reversing’.

    There’s nothing that would have him go more batsh*t crazy than the suggestion that the police, or even any vigilante with a gun, could act unjustifiably when they kill an unarmed person. Particularly a child.

    With Egnor, guns are good.

  454. Sophie says:

    Bach,

    Haha. I checked out some more of his posts. I see you commented on a lot of them too.

    One thing stood out. Dr Michael Egnor totally bought the whole planned parenthood conspiracy story with the dead babies being sold off.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planned_Parenthood_2015_undercover_videos_controversy

    So he’s easily swayed by fake political stories too. Here I was hoping that he just didn’t know anything about Aquinas, philosophy, science etc. But this cognitive virus has also infected other areas.

  455. BillyJoe7 says:

    GHL: “I also question your increasing use of sexual language to portray my intention, it’s weird”

    I tried really hard, but I just couldn’t come up with a good come back.

  456. GHL says:

    BillyJoe7, ???

    Pete A, I certainly hope his sentiments aren’t that widespread because it’s extraordinarily unhelpful in establishing mutually beneficial dialogue and argument.

    Sophie & Bach, I have read about a certain category of Christian that went head over heals for Trump, I was staggered that it was possible for such a blatant con-job would work but interacting with Egnor, well…

  457. BillyJoe7 says:

    …hmmm…I’m going to have to get myself another straight man.

  458. Sophie says:

    GHL,

    One thing we were all wrong about during the election was role of single-issue politics. It didn’t matter what Trump did or sad for many people, they were always going to vote for him because anti-abortion was their biggest issue and Hillary vocalized support for Roe V Wade.

    Put yourself in Michael Egnor’s shoes for a moment: you believe that Nazi death camps are as bad as Planned Parenthood clinics, that for 2000 years the church always said that souls entered the picture at conception, and you falsely believe that Aquinas said so too. Bottom line: abortion is the worst thing in the world, 50 million abortions out number the holocaust genocide.

    Who would you vote for?
    The man encouraging Anti-abortion stuff, who has promised to put a conservative in the Supreme Court?
    Or the woman, who has vocalized support for the homicidal Roe V Wade?

  459. michaelegnor says:

    GHL:

    [I have read about a certain category of Christian that went head over heals for Trump, I was staggered that it was possible for such a blatant con-job would work but interacting with Egnor]

    Says an ordination candidate who denies the Resurrection and the Virgin Birth, in a church that supports abortion, ordains sodomites to the bishopric, conducts homosexual marriages, and was founded by Henry VIII.

    This is a parody, please tell me…

  460. Sophie says:

    Michael Egnor,

    This has to be like then 10th time you repeat your very unchristian arguments against GHL, an Anglican.

    The Catholic Church regularly prays for the reunification of Christian churches. Pope Francis has reached out to Anglicans. And JP2 passed the pastoral provision to make it easier for Anglicans to become catholic priests. You’ve continued to represent your own Catholic Church and it’s views of Anglicanism.

    This is called an ass-kicking.

  461. michaelegnor says:

    Yes, GHL, there are “certain categories of Christian”. You’re of the pharisitical category, claiming peace and love and purity but full of dead men’s bones.

    I rather like Trump, as a politician. I would not vote for him as Pope, but I’m not a Cardinal and he’s not running for pope.

    Trump is crude, vulgar at times, and sometimes has a complicated relationship with the truth. So he’s just like most other people who run for president.

    His strength is that he gets it on a number of issues that are critical to our country–on immigration, on terrorism, on the economy and trade and jobs. He also has a record of real personal accomplishment. Being a real estate guy in NYC is working in the middle of a tornado. He’s that rare politician who’s done something in life other than suck up and run his mouth. He also tells the truth about the scum in the press, and he has no fear.

    I’ve known people like Trump in the medical profession. One of my professors in residency was a bit like him. He had a good heart and had a gift for getting things done organizationally, although he wasn’t anyone’s textbook version of a neurosurgeon.

    Trump will do a lot of good. He will certainly defend Christians and he’s already done a lot for pro-life causes. Gorsich was an enlightened choice for SCOTUS.

    I think of Trump, from a Christian standpoint, kind of like I think of Constantine. Real rough around the edges, not a saint by any measure, but a fighter who will defend the Church and advance Christian civilization.

    I think Trump will be a great president.

  462. michaelegnor says:

    Another reason that I like Trump is that he makes Lefties’ heads explode. It’s delightful to see you morons so upset that you’re sputtering.

    Making the right enemies is very important. If you hate him, he’s got to be good.

  463. Sophie says:

    Haha. It’s really obvious that Egnor didn’t read what I wrote about his thought process and who he would support. Especially in terms of single issue politics. Damn I am good.

  464. michaelegnor says:

    Sophie:

    [The Catholic Church regularly prays for the reunification of Christian churches. Pope Francis has reached out to Anglicans. And JP2 passed the pastoral provision to make it easier for Anglicans to become catholic priests. You’ve continued to represent your own Catholic Church and it’s views of Anglicanism.]

    The Catholic Church prays for reunification on Catholic terms, not Anglican terms. Pope Francis reaches out to Anglicans, like I reach out to atheists. He of course is not free to be as candid as I am, but I assure you that his view of sodomite bishops and abortion-mongering differs not at all from mine.

    The arrangements St. JPII made for ordination of Anglican priests entail the Anglican priests becoming Catholics and leaving the Anglican Church. There’s no accomodation with Anglicanism at all. We’re cherry-picking their best priests–the ones who are fed up with apostasy.

    So much for your arguments. You’re really not too bright, are you Sophie?

  465. Sophie says:

    Of course someone who literally visited Auschwitz and said the things you said would vote for Trump. Here at 36min:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wH5VDkNGjHk

    You are predictable and foolish. You have that whole rant connecting death camps to Planned Parenthood and smiled like a little psychopath. Obviously someone like you would vote for Trump.

  466. Sophie says:

    You are now claiming that you know what’s going on in the Pope’s head. You are arguing against the public evidence we have of Catholic leaders reaching out and being on good terms with Anglicans. You claim they are just acting. The foolishness with you never ends. You are a fanatic.

    Your hero Aquinas thought that from conception till months into fetal development that fetuses had no souls. He said after they kick, that’s when its murder. Never forget that. You misquoted your own hero. His position was the churches position till 1869. His work is referenced in Roe v Wade which is responsible for so many abortion. It’s also used to argue for embryo research.

    You used Aquinas to argue for souls entering the picture at conception. You are an embrassment even by your own standards.

  467. michaelegnor says:

    What I find remarkable is that even the pinhead leftists here would support a gangster like Hillary Clinton.

    She is everything bad about a politician. An obvious criminal–she and Billy are running an influence-peddling scan (the Clinton Foundation), taking tens of millions of dollars from foreign governments while she was Secretary of State (!), laundering the money through her scummy ‘foundation’, while she deletes the tens of thousands of emails that documented her felonies.

    She is an obvious gangster, running a crime syndicate. She should already be in prison for her countless felonies with mishandling of classified information.

    No one who supports this witch has any claim on decency.

  468. michaelegnor says:

    Sophie:

    How do you feel about PP selling baby parts?

  469. Sophie says:

    Shift the convo to Hillary now. After you get called on everything else you messed up. You don’t know Aquinas. You don’t know basic ideas about your catholic faith. Run along now. Tell us about how Hillary is evil.

  470. Sophie says:

    Egnor,

    “How do you feel about PP selling baby parts?”

    If you paid attention and actually read these comments you would see that I already smashed this foolishness into dust. It’s right up there. Right before where I predicted exactly who you would vote for and explained the reasoning you would use to get there.

  471. michaelegnor says:

    I see Sophie. You vote for a felon who runs a crime syndicate for president, and you love an organization that sells baby livers (from babies it murdered) for profit.

  472. Sophie says:

    a) it is not murder to perform an abortion
    b) Clinton foundation conspiracies are just based on emails of people wanting to request meetings. No evidence of actual pay for play was uncovered.
    c) where’s trumps emails? Tax return?

  473. michaelegnor says:

    Actually, I should have said “extra profit”. Most of the profit PP makes from babies is from killing them. The organ trafficking is just a little extra “Lamborghini” money.

    http://www.lifenews.com/2017/04/26/planned-parenthood-doc-who-wanted-lamborghini-for-selling-aborted-babies-caught-selling-aborted-baby-parts-again/

  474. Sophie says:

    Michael Egnor,

    “How do you feel about PP selling baby parts?”

    Previously:
    http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/jesus-mythicism-revisited/#comment-307999

    Also check out where I predicted your exact thought process that would lead you to support Trump:
    http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/jesus-mythicism-revisited/#comment-308253

    You are predictable because you are so stupid. You are a creature of habit you can’t help but name drop Aquinas into a discussion about Abortion. That YouTube video is from years ago, and in it your ramble about the same things you comment about here. You haven’t updated your knowledge of basic concepts in years. You are an embarrassment.

  475. michaelegnor says:

    [a) it is not murder to perform an abortion]

    It will be. We’re working on it.

    [b) Clinton foundation conspiracies are just based on emails of people wanting to request meetings. No evidence of actual pay for play was uncovered.]

    Even you’re not that stupid.

    [c) where’s trumps emails? Tax return?]

    Same place as Obama’s birth certificate.

    Trump is playing you morons, just like Obama played the right on his birth certificate. Trump’s tax returns obviously contain nothing of real interest–even if he was up to no good, it damn sure isn’t going to show up on his tax return.

    He’s letting you leftie dupes waste your time and energy obsessing over a non-issue that makes you look ridiculous. Just like Obama did with his birth certificate.

    Heck, if you’re so obsessed with documents, how about demanding to see Hillary’s tens of thousands of deleted emails. Oh… I forgot… they were just about Chelsea’s wedding and recipes…

  476. Sophie says:

    Hey so if Hillary is so evil and corrupt, why isn’t Trump assigning a team to that? Hmm seems really weird for a guy who said he would lock her up to now no longer care.

    Abortion isn’t murder. And will likely not be again in this country. Overturning Roe V wade will be the death of the Republican Party and the impeachment of Trump. Don’t believe me? See Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation hearing, where republican senators say just that.

    Obama birtherism? Wow. You really are a supreme intellectual. You listen to Alex Jones by any chance?

  477. michaelegnor says:

    Sophie:

    [Obama birtherism? Wow. You really are a supreme intellectual. You listen to Alex Jones by any chance?]

    Wow. You’re really clueless. I’m not a birther. What Obama did was withhold his birth certificate in order to stir up conspiracy theories on the right, allowing his enemies to waste their time on nonsense instead of going after him on real issues (like his intimate ties to the hard Left).

    Trump is doing the same thing. He’s withholding his tax returns so you lefty idiots will scream and rant and waste your time and energy. Someday he’ll release them, they’ll show nothing, and you’ll look like fools (again).

    It’s an old and obvious tactic–make you enemies expend their energy on nonsense and then make them look like fools. Obama used it well, and Trump is using it well too.

  478. michaelegnor says:

    Sophie:

    Aren’t you even the least bit interested in the tens of thousands of emails that Hillary deleted and scrubbed clean (and delected the back up copies)?

    Think of all of the good recipes the First Woman President is denying to the hungry world…

  479. Sophie says:

    Egnor,

    Doubtful that Trump’s tax return won’t show some inconvenient details. It’s also doubtful that this is all some genius tactic. The point you are missing about birthism is that Obama should have never had his citizenship questioned to that extent. Ted Cruz wasn’t born in the US and that wasn’t a major counter to his candidacy. His enemies focused on other things. Birthism had its roots in racism to pretend otherwise is naive.

  480. Sophie says:

    Michael Egnor,

    I wonder what would happen if your computers and electonic devices were hit with a freedom of information request?

    Would we find lots of inconvenient details about you and your life?

    Hillary messed up by having a private server at home, she admitted it. This is a separate issue from the emails acquired by hacking. Hacked emails are criminally acquired and therefore aren’t the same as legitimately acquired things. You gloss over all these details tho.

    Tell me about Marina Abromavic and the spirit cooking email from John Podesta? let’s talk about that. Is there demon worship and look sacrifice happening in the Clinton circles?

    Also what would a full investigation into Trump reveal? Didn’t the intel agencies all agree that the DNC was hacked by Russia? Is that made up?

  481. michaelegnor says:

    [Birthism had its roots in racism to pretend otherwise is naive.]

    Every aspect of Obama’s political career is about racism. He was elected president only because of his race: why else would an unemployed community organizer of no distinction from the Chicago Daley machine be elected president after not even serving a single term in the Senate?

    Obama was elected because he was black. The presidency was the first real job he every had.

    Some of birtherism was about race. Most of Obama’s political career was about race. Obama benefited tremendously more from racism (of the pro-black variety) than he was harmed by it.

  482. michaelegnor says:

    [Hacked emails are criminally acquired and therefore aren’t the same as legitimately acquired things. You gloss over all these details tho.]

    The irony of course is that the hacked emails were the only truthful things to come out of the Clinton campaign.

    The hackers, unlike Clinton and the DNC, told us the truth.

  483. michaelegnor says:

    It’s telling about our political and media corruption that we had to get our information from Putin to get the truth.

  484. Sophie says:

    Putin is an autocrat. The Russian state owns the major news agencies and has control over what appears on tv. Russia Today is a propaganda outlet. The Russian state is highly corrupt and run like a mafia. Not my conclusions, nobel prize winning economist has said so and so have many expert analysts.

    To therefore claim that we should go to Russia to get the truth on something happening here is probabsly the stupidest thing you have ever said. Maybe even stupider than using Aquinas to argue against early abortions. Maybe even stupider than equating the holocaust with the numbers of abortions.

  485. michaelegnor says:

    [Hillary messed up by having a private server at home, she admitted it.]

    She didn’t “mess up”.

    She was selling access and favors to foreign fatcats and governments while she was secretary of state, and obviously she wanted complete secrecy on her computer transactions.

    She and her dirt-bag husband have had government jobs for decades, yet they’re personal wealth is in the hundreds of millions (at least).

    What were they selling, that so many people (and governments) would give them so much money?

  486. michaelegnor says:

    [To therefore claim that we should go to Russia to get the truth on something happening here is probabsly the stupidest thing you have ever said.]

    Putin’s corrupt. And when you have to go to a corrupt guy like him to get the truth about Hillary and the DNC, how much more corrupt does that make them?

  487. Sophie says:

    Again you are conflating the email issues.

    1) the server she had at home was foolish she admitted it.
    2) hacked emails from much later

    There is absolutely no evidence of pay-for-play. Go ahead show me the evidence. If there was some people would go to jail. The hacked emails did include requests of people who made large donations asking for private meetings. There is no evidence that these meetings occured.

    The personal wealth comes from the period after Bill Clinton’s 8 years. Which at that point was minimal. It grew rapidly from book sales, paid speeches and other jobs and assignments taken in the private industry. Obama just made a couple million from his book deal and 400k for a wall street speech. Yes it looks bad. But it’s legal.

  488. Sophie says:

    You miss the entire point of the Russia issue. There is no reason to assume Russia is telling the truth. There is a lot of reasons to assume Russia wanted to interfere with the election just to destabilize the west and reduce everyone’s faith in democracies. Also you are justifying criminal acts. The dnc hack is a criminal act. Is it okay for people to do criminal acts like that to get private information?

  489. michaelegnor says:

    [the server she had at home was foolish she admitted it.]

    It wasn’t foolish at all. She was engaged in an obvious criminal consipracy to peddle influence and launder money so obtained, and having a home server that was insulated from normal intelligence channels was necessary, not foolish in the least.

    She assumed that having a compliant press that was 100% on her side

    http://www.bizpacreview.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Clinton-plane-e1473138005679.jpg

    would insulate her from any inconvient fallout on the server issue.

    It certainly helped, but luckily there was enough real journalism from the right that she didn’t get away with it entirely.

    Face it, Sophie, she’s a gangster and everyone knows it.

  490. Sophie says:

    Michael Egnor,

    I spent some time trying to factcheck pay-for-play claims. I stumbled across this while on Snopes:
    http://www.snopes.com/2017/04/28/heineken-ad-pepsi/

    I disagree with essentially everything you have to say. I’m an atheist, feminist, former Catholic, etc.

    But I would sit down and discuss these things with you like the people in the ad.

  491. Sophie says:

    If the press was on her side why did every major news outlet run negative stories about her and her emails? Why did they cover and write about the Podesta emails? Or the hacked DNC emails? All of this was hugely damaging to her campaign and was extensively covered by the MSM.

  492. michaelegnor says:

    Sophie,

    I’d be happy to sit down with you and discuss these things, anytime.

    There are some things about which there is no debate between honest informed people. Such as:

    1) Abortion is ugly immoral stuff, and killing babies (or fetuses or whatever euphemism you choose) and selling their parts for profit is really ugly. Especially if you laugh about it over lunch.

    2) Hillary is a crook.

  493. Lightnotheat says:

    Man I am hating that things in my personal life have almost entirely prevented me from participating in this thread.
    Re Egnor, I don’t think it’s reasonable to claim he is ignorant. Rather, his reasoning is so powerfully motivated that even if he, say, had memorized by heart every word Aquinas ever wrote his arguments would fail basic tests. Constant cherry picking, grotesque straw men, etc. With commited ideologues of the Egnor variety, it is the way information is examined and analyzed that is the main problem, not a lack of information. I’d actually say he’s better informed than a lot of posters here. But just as with extremely well-read Marxist-Leninists or ultra-libertarians or other ideologues, information mostly amounts to data that is to be sifted through in search of that which supports your previously determined position, disregarding or explaining away thatwhich does not.

  494. Sophie says:

    1) https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planned_Parenthood_2015_undercover_videos_controversy

    It’s clearly not so simple. The video exposing this stuff was highly problematic to the point where people were charged with crimes for illegally recording the discussions. They were also highly edited. And Planned Parenthood doesn’t solely exist to provide abortions. They say only 3% of the services they provide are abortions. They also provide family planning and birthcontrol. As a Catholic do you also hate condoms, and other prophylactic measures? About the pill? Are condoms murder?

    When you entangle everything together and just present PP as a monster that must be slain, you reduce so much complexity down to simple choices that are false dichotomies.

    2) Well I don’t know where to start. We have to claim by claim. You argued pay for play. There is no evidence of that. The only thing the emails showed were people asking for meetings in exchange for donations. You have to expect just due to human nature this would occur. For example desperate patients or their families can ask you to perform foolish operations and to refuse to acknowledge that brain death has occured. But you ignore them, because you would get fired and they are likely not well informed. Just because a desperate person asks for something does it mean that you did anything unethical? No. So if all we have is emails asking for unethical meetings, but no evidence meetings took place we can’t conclude much.

  495. mumadadd says:

    Lightnotheat,

    I agree — it’s hard not to see motivated reasoning in ME’s posts; he’s created a full alternative reality.

    What I found curious is that when his mistake about Aquinas’s views was exposed, he immediately responded with a link to an article about something completely unrelated. I have to wonder whether this was actually a deliberate and calculated attempt to distract his interlocutors, or more an instinctive reaction to ease his cognitive dissonance. I’ve wondered something similar about Ian Wardell when he gets badly exposed and claims that no one can understand or deal with his arguments — is this just bravado in the face of defeat or does he really believe it?

  496. michaelegnor says:

    [And Planned Parenthood doesn’t solely exist to provide abortions. They say only 3% of the services they provide are abortions.]

    “3%”? Riiiight. What PP means by “3%” is that 3% of the sales transactions are abortions. One sold condom counts the same as one sold abortion.

    In terms of revenue, abortion is their major business, accounting for the majority of their revenue.

    There’s an adage in law that an exculpatory lie is evidence of guilt. “3%” is an exculpatory lie, an implicit admission by PP of guilt. If they had no guilt, and weren’t trying to cover up the fact that they are the nation’s leading abortion mill, they wouldn’t lie about what percentage of their business is abortion.

  497. michaelegnor says:

    [You argued pay for play. There is no evidence of that. The only thing the emails showed were people asking for meetings in exchange for donations. You have to expect just due to human nature this would occur.]

    You don’t believe any of that Sophie.

    “Donations” to the Clinton Foundation are in freefall. That’s what happens to an influence-peddling scheme when there’s no more influence to peddle.

    When HRC was Sec of State and an almost sure bet to be Our First Woman President, the cash was pouring in through the windows–the Saudi’s, the Chinese, the Russians. Now, suddenly, the cash has dried up.

    Would a neon sign saying “pay for play” make it any clearer to you?

  498. Sophie says:

    http://www.snopes.com/clinton-foundation-dead-contributions-dry/

    It’s complicated. You could also argue that the negative press is a contributing factor. But evidence of absence of donations doesn’t really mean when it was working it was pay for play.

  499. mumadadd says:

    Wouldn’t you just expect any candidate with a clear polling lead for the presidency to be receiving donations from people/nations hoping to curry favour? It seems totally unsurprising to me — I would expect the donations without any explicit trade being made by the presidential candidate. Or is there some evidence that Clinton was making promises of something in exchange?

  500. edamame says:

    Factchecking claims about what services Planned Parenthood provides (3% is misleading, as are the high estimates –like 94% — provided by some anti-abortion partisans):
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2015/08/12/for-planned-parenthood-abortion-stats-3-percent-and-94-percent-are-both-misleading/

  501. Sophie says:

    There is no real evidence of this actually happening. It’s called pay-for-play. It’s what Egnor described. Yes people asked for meetings and tried to use their money to get access. There is no real smoking gun evidence though. Just because someone asks you to do something unethical doesn’t mean you did something personally wrong.

    There is real pay-for-play happening right now in the Trump whitehouse. Ivanka gets patents approved in China after meeting with the president. Patents in china are notoriously difficult to acquire because the government tries to stick its finger in everyone’s pie. There are also many many things that we will learn about in the coming years that involve pay for play in the Trump era. Maybe other people know some more examples.

  502. michaelegnor says:

    Muma:

    [Or is there some evidence that Clinton was making promises of something in exchange?]

    Consider the two facts:

    1) High index of suspicion for ‘pay to play’, but no hard evidence

    2) Tens of thousands of deleted and scrubbed emails from secret private server, smashed cell phones, deleted backup files, etc, etc.

    Do you, muma, think that there is any connection between the two facts, or are these two facts just coincidental?

  503. michaelegnor says:

    Keeping in mind of course, that the tens of thousands of deleted emails, the smashed cellphones and the secret private server were all just about ‘Chelsea’s wedding and recipes…’

  504. Sophie says:

    Misleading is not the same as a deliberate lie. The point is that the PP video is a scam. Outright a scam.

  505. Lightnotheat says:

    You guys keep responding to Egnor’s specifuc points in his Gish Gallop, allowing him to dominate this thread. The focus should be on his arguing style, demonstrating how, whatever validity there might be to those specific points, it’s the general pattern of “position first, then find arguments” that is very far removed from the skeptical METHOD of thinking. This blog is more about HOW to think about things than about positions on issues. We are all guilty of motivated reasoning to some degree, but Egnor takes it to an extreme level.

  506. michaelegnor says:

    [The focus should be on his arguing style, demonstrating how, whatever validity there might be to those specific points, it’s the general pattern of “position first, then find arguments” that is very far removed from the skeptical METHOD of thinking.]

    Translation: “Ignore the fact that Egnor is right on the facts. Let’s attack him anyway because he’s not one of us.”

  507. bachfiend says:

    So now Michael Egnor has now completely derailed this thread on whether Jesus is fictional (and to what degree) or not with his increasingly abusive Egnor Evasion, on irrelevant issues.

    We should stop responding to him unless he’s commenting on the topic of the thread.

  508. Sophie says:

    Lightnotheat,

    Check out the 500 comments. You can see a pattern of many commenters, I’m included, challenging what Egnor says and commenting on his style. Many people have referred to his behavior as deliberately misleading and Gish galloping. We even said it was the Egnor Evasion.

    If we want to be effective communicators we needed to tackle what he says head on. If he claims Aquinas was this amazing intellect who said all these amazing things, and he invokes his name to argue for souls at conception. Then we need to tackle that. Egnor straight up admitted that Aquinas was wrong about the biology. And then made more foolish arguments about how modern science has shown that the soul is there at conception. So by tackling what he said I personally forced him to drop Aquinas as evidence and move onto more ridiculous arguments. Any rational observer can see what’s happening.

    If you just focus on style you end up policing P.C. and sounding like a child. Egnor’s style is never going to change. He’s still that same person from that YouTube vid I posted a link to. It’s been years. He hasn’t changed he smiles at connecting nazis with Planned Parenthood

  509. Sophie says:

    When Egnor admitted that Aquinas didn’t know the biology he lost tremendous ground. Egnor also mistakenly thought that the 1869 church position on souls at conception, was the position for 2000 years. It wasn’t. Egnor also made more mistakes. Aquinas knew enough biology, he explicitly said that fetal development goes from inanimate, to animate. And that when fetuses kick, that’s when ensoulment happens. That’s not a simple biology mistake. The simple bio mistake he made was on the timing. He said 40 days for boys and 80 for girls. He just didn’t know that fetuses first kick around 16-25 weeks. If he knew that. He would still make the same argument that ensoulment happens after they move and that after that it’s homicide.

    The point is that Egnor always name drops Aquinas but he doesn’t even really know Aquinas. In the YouTube vid you can see him argue that Aquinas didn’t believe in targeting a human life for the purpose of ending it. But Aquinas argued that you could kill heretics. And his writing was used to justify torture and burning people at the stake for generations.

  510. Sophie says:

    Even Egnor conceded that Aquinas didn’t know the biology. But what about other things he didn’t know? Certainly he didn’t know about the problems with have with causality. Many of which are currently unsolved problems in physics. He didn’t know about the nature of time itself. Certainly nothing in comparison to what we know now.

  511. Lightnotheat says:

    Sigh. Classic motivated reasoner arguing, saying “I’ve got the facts, so now you guys are attacking my style.” Everybody’s got data; the skeptical method is all about how that data is addressed. Are you cherry picking? Are you trusting certain data too much or too little? How do you decide how much to trust it? Do you consistently use the same approach to the data? Do you make up your own data (straw men)? A militant Marxist-Leninist can cite countless facts, at least many of which are undoubtedly true, but the point is, what makes her wrong is her approach to them, the shoe-horning them into support of a previously determined position. Sometimes it is useful to go after someone like Egnor’s use of a particularly caricatured straw man or obviously cherry picked set of data, but there will always be a new straw man and more cherry-picked data.
    Sophie, you have often pointed out Egnor’s logical errors, cherry picking, etc., and that’s great, but you also help perpetuate the Gish Gallop with your responses to every new specific point he makes.
    Again, wish I had more time. All I can write for now.

  512. Pete A says:

    bachfiend,

    I’ve learnt some very useful things via reading all of the comments posted thus far.

    Some of the comments that have been ignored, and the questions that remain unanswered, are particularly educational. Avoidance is just one of many tactics that are deployed by ideologues.

  513. bachfiend says:

    Sophie,

    Egnor has inconsistent standards.

    If a critic is arguing science, Egnor wants to see a reference in the specialist literature. If he’s arguing science, he’ll cite something in the popular press, the more conservative the better.

    If a critic cites Aquinas, even including a quote from ‘Summa Theologica’ (I have a copy of its two volumes), he’ll dismiss it, insisting that it’s only appropriate to rely on his favourite theologian’s (Ed Feser’s) interpretation of Aquinas.

    His understanding of history is suspect. One of his favourite ‘historians’ is Rodney Stark. Rodney Stark is no historian, and his books (such as ‘the Triumph of Christianity’) prove it. He’s a sociologist of religion.

    His use of the Egnor Evasion means that it’s a waste of time writing a detail answer to his comments. He’ll just ignore them and repeat his assertions as if they hadn’t been addressed many times already.

  514. Lightnotheat says:

    I’ll just add that chikoppi is an absolute master at succinct demolition of logical error. Way to go!

  515. Pete A says:

    “[bachfiend] … He’ll just ignore them and repeat his assertions as if they hadn’t been addressed many times already.”

    Such pathetic, incurable, behaviour is prevalent amongst several commentators on Dr Novella’s blog; most notably, perhaps, by Dr Michael Egnor and Ian Wardell.

  516. Sophie says:

    Bach,

    If I am truly honest with myself, I will have to admit I have inconsistent standards. Egnor will never convince me that god exists and that early abortions are homicide. Or that souls are present at conception. Or that souls exist. That Clinton is a crook. Or of Christian exceptionalism.

    Sure it’s possible that I’m wrong and he can be right. It’s just that given the medium where this discussion is happening it’s highly unlikely that Egnor will sway me. He would have to reach an impossibly high standard to make me convert. He knows this. He must, he’s not actually stupid. He’s not really here out of the Christian goodness in his heart, and wanting to save some souls for Jesus. He doesn’t care if I burn in hell for eternity. If he was motivated by Christian things, he would go on more neutral blogs or just keep preaching to the choir and doing outreach. He wouldn’t say Anglicans are worse than atheists and smile with glee while comparing death camps to PP.

    He’s here to indulge in bashing leftist know-it-alls. It’s his guilty pleasure. He already has all the things he wants out of life I’m guessing, a prestigious career that pays well, pediatric neurosurgery is crazy specialized and difficult. And uh, I’m guessing, a family, and friends, a social network. He’s here just as a giant F you to us and what we represent. That’s okay. I’m sure he’s welcome to do that, if he really has been here for years. While he’s here we can put ourselves to work and challenge what he says. I’m sure sociologists/psychologists of the future will analyze people like Egnor, he’s a deeply fascinating personality. I mean he’s not too special, there’s many people like him out there. But he’s more interesting than me.

    The Aquinas thing he didn’t actually dismiss. He admitted that Aquinas got the biology wrong. I mean it took like 20 comments, but he finally said that okay Aquinas didn’t know the biology. Small victory but I’ll take it, it leaves the door wide open for other arguments. If he didn’t know the bio what about the physics? If you are going to trust the teleological/Cosmological arguments by someone who didn’t know the quantum/relativity, isn’t that equally flawed? How can Aquinas’ great arguments be accurate if they are based on cause and effect, but our notions of time, understanding of Cosmology/astronomy, and knowledge of causality itself has been radically changed in the last few hundred years? Egnor didn’t see that losing any ground by admitting Aquinas didn’t know the bio, sets up a giant counter attack against his metaphysical claims along the exact same logical premises. He doesn’t care, I know. But maybe observers care and see the vulnerability for next time. I don’t know, I never would have gone and learned about many of these things if not for him making the claims he made.

  517. michaelegnor says:

    [His understanding of history is suspect. One of his favourite ‘historians’ is Rodney Stark]

    Consider this precis of our recent history debate about muslims, christians and the preservation of classical learning. Commentators claimed that Islam was responsible for preservation of classical scholarship.

    I pointed out the obvious fact that Rome fell in 476 and Islam was founded in 622 and didn’t consolidate its conquests until the 8th century. Therefore, morons, Islam didn’t preserve classical learning, because it didn’t exist for the first few centuries during which classical learning had to be preserved. Classical learning was preserved by monks, mostly, most notably Irish monks and by Byzantine Christian scholars. When Muslims invaded Byzantium in the 7th and 8th century, they expropriated some of the work of the Christian scholars who had preserved the classics.

    None of this is in the slightest dispute among people even remotely knowledgeable about this era. For several centuries before Islam rose, Christian scholars preserved and transmitted classical learning. When Islam invaded Christian lands, it was still several centuries before most of the subjects in the occupied territories were Muslim, and Christian scholars continued their work.

    The primary contribution of Islam to the preservation of classical learning wasn’t the preservation itself, but rather the streamlining of government and funding that came from Muslim administration of conquered Byzantine land. The Muslims were effective administrators, and this allowed a spread of the scholarship that had been preserved by the Christians.

    The commentators who credited Islam with preservation of knowledge that predated the beginning of Islam by several centuries are idiots who should slink away in shame. But you’re atheists, and shame is alien to you.

    You pitiful bastards.

  518. chikoppi says:

    [michaelegnor] The primary contribution of Islam to preservation of classical learning wasn’t the preservation itself, but rather the streamlining of government and funding that came from Muslim administration of conquered Byzantine land. The Muslims were effective administrators, and this allowed a spread of the scholarship that had been preserved by the Christians.

    Uh, no. Perhaps you should familiarize yourself with the course Aristotle’s writing took from Greek to Latin and the role of Islamic scholars such as Ibn Rushd (known as “Averroes” in the west). His many scholarly works and extensive commentary was fundamental to the revival of Aristotelian thought in the 12th century.

  519. Sophie says:

    Aquinas appears to have used Moerbeke’s translations. Which are directly from the original Greek manuscripts and not the ones from the Arab world.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_of_Moerbeke

  520. bachfiend says:

    Michael,

    It’s not a ‘fact’ that Islam was founded in 622 CE. Islam started off as a Christian sect, one of many. One that had as its basis that there’s one God, indivisible. Mohammed means ‘he who is to be praised’ and referred to Jesus (regardless of whether Jesus was historical or not).

    There’s nothing in the Qu’ran concerning a historical Mohammed. The first biography of a Mohammed figure was written at least a century after the purported events.

    What actually happened was that the Persian Empire and the Byzantine Empire fought a devastating series of wars in the 7th century leaving a power vacuum, leaving Arab Christians (not of the Catholic variety). And then a little later, there was a regime change and the new rulers, as rulers often do (think Emperor Constantine) ‘revised’ the religion to give themselves more support, and established the doctrinal text.

    It hardly matters whether Islam as a religion encourages learning or not. It’s still a fact that Muslim governed Baghdad (until it was destroyed by the Mongols) and Spain were centres of learning, which preserved ancient texts and were available to Christian scholars.

    All the Christian monasteries could think to do with their ancient scripts was to scrape them off and reuse them for their own writings.

    It’s irrelevant whether Christianity was important for the development of Western European science and medicine with respect to Christianity being true or not. False beliefs can often lead to good results.

    But as I’ve noted many times, there are other explanations why modern science and medicine originated in Western Europe (mainly). And as is usual with your Egnor Evasion, you refuse to address the rebuttal, instead making the same assertions.

    Rodney Stark isn’t a historian, and it shows in his books. He claims to have been surprised that there’s no mention of the Black Death in the standard histories of the 14th century. Where exactly did he learn his history? Off the back of a breakfast cereal box?

  521. michaelegnor says:

    chi:

    [… the role of Islamic scholars such as Ibn Rushd (known as “Averroes” in the west). His many scholarly works and extensive commentary was fundamental to the revival of Aristotelian thought in the 12th century.]

    Of course there were some Muslim scholars who participated in the Aristotelian revival. Avicenna in the 10th century is generally recognized as the first significant Muslim philosopher, and he Averroes (in the 11 century) indeed had significant influence on Christian scholastacism. But that makes my point, not yours.

    With the fall of Rome to the barbarians in 476, it wasn’t until the 10th century that a significant Muslim philosopher emerged. During the interval from the 5th to the 10th century, classical learning was kept alive by non-Muslim philosophers, mostly Latin Christian monks in Europe and Byzantine Christian monks and scholars in the East. Muslims were the occupiers of formerly Christian civilization in Arabia and Asia Minor, but is was several centuries after the conquest by Islam in the 7th and 8th century that significant Muslim scholars emerged who engaged Aristotle and Plato and the classical tradition.

    And Muslim classical scholarship died out rather quickly. Avicenna and Averroes had little posterity in Islamic theology, unlike the great scholastics like St. Anslem and St Thomas and Albert Magnus and Roger Bacon and Ockham and Bernard and a host of scholars working in Christendom.

    In Christendom, the Aristotelian revival exploded and gave rise to massive scholarship and a High Middle Ages that in a few centuries gave rise to the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment.

    There was no comparable explosion of scholarship in Islam. In fact, such Aristotelian scholarship died rather quickly, and left no major traces in Islamic theology or philosophy.

    So this is what happened: the preservation of classical learning from the 5th century to the 10th century was by Christian scholars, including countless European monks and Byzantine scholars. A few Muslim philosophers emerged in the 10th and 11th century who did original and important work, but they gained no traction in the Muslim world and, in fact, their work was of interest almost entirely to Christians, who took their ideas and incorporated them into the larger Christianization of Aristotle.

    To credit Islam with the revival of classical scholarship is a lie. Aside from the modest contribution of a few isolated and ephemeral Muslim scholars, Islam had nothing to do with the Aristotelian revival, which was preserved by Christians and developed massively by Christians into the Scholastic Tradition.

    Islam, as an occupying military power, did provide Caliphs and leadership that streamlined communication and economies that contributed to some degree to the spread of scholarship, but there was no lasting tradition of classical scholarship in the Muslim world. Within a few centuries of the rise of Aristotelian in the 10-12th centuries, while classical scholarship was exploding in Christendom, classical scholarship was dying (never to be revived) in Islam.

    The bizarre effort to credit Islam with preservation of classical learning is Islamophilia in its most risible form. Islam is a religion uniquely allergic to learning and scholarship, as a perusal of the Muslim world today makes obvious.

    Stop kissing Muslim a*s. It’s a remarkable anti-intellectual and violent religion, and always has been, and we need to tell the truth about it.

  522. michaelegnor says:

    bach:

    [It’s not a ‘fact’ that Islam was founded in 622 CE.]

    Yes it is a fact. You’re an idiot, bach.

    [Islam started off as a Christian sect…]

    Bulls*t. Islam has some points of contact with Arianism, but it was never a Christian sect.

    [There’s nothing in the Qu’ran concerning a historical Mohammed. The first biography of a Mohammed figure was written at least a century after the purported events.]

    You’r claiming that Mohammed never existed? You need your head examined.

    [It hardly matters whether Islam as a religion encourages learning or not.]

    Of course it matters. It matters enormously. It doesn’t encourage learning, obviously.

    [It’s still a fact that Muslim governed Baghdad (until it was destroyed by the Mongols) and Spain were centres of learning, which preserved ancient texts and were available to Christian scholars.]

    Christian scholars preserved the texts. After they were invaded and conquered by Muslims, a few of the Muslim overlords expropriated the scholarship.

    To attribute medieval scholarship to Muslims is like attributing the art in the Louvre to the Nazis because they occupied Paris in the early 1940’s.

    [All the Christian monasteries could think to do with their ancient scripts was to scrape them off and reuse them for their own writings.]

    You’re an a**hole, bach. The Christian monks spent their lives meticulously copying classical documents.

    [It’s irrelevant whether Christianity was important for the development of Western European science and medicine with respect to Christianity being true or not. False beliefs can often lead to good results.]

    It’s massively relevant. Modern science and civilization in the West is Christian in origin. Neither atheism nor Islam had anything significant to do with it.

    [But as I’ve noted many times, there are other explanations why modern science and medicine originated in Western Europe (mainly).]

    Yea. Rivers. Right.

    [And as is usual with your Egnor Evasion, you refuse to address the rebuttal, instead making the same assertions.]

    European philosophy and science and art and government and civilization are Christian in origin, with significant Greek and Roman influence preserved and baptized by Christians.

    Islam has nothing to do with it, nor did atheism.

  523. Sophie says:

    Michael Egnor,

    Historians write history. Your history appears to come from Christian theologians. Historians would just tell you to refer to the “exceptionalism” arguments. You are arguing for Christian exceptionalism. It’s like the chosen people arguments.

    If you start with the conclusion:
    God is real and Christianity is the truest religion.

    Then everything that you have to write and say is going to support that conclusion. Christianity is responsible for all the good in the world. Antibiotics, microscopes, microwaves, all invented by Christians. Bad things, like abortion legislation and leftist sensibility is the work of the devil.

    How about the critiques of Aristotle’s philosophy? Ever check those out? The modern scientific method owes very little to his philosophy, and there are massive problems with his work, especially with the logic.

  524. Sophie says:

    You are also making many errors historians would not make. It’s absolutely foolish to compare the height of one empire to the crumbling heap of another. The Islamic world rose and fell at different points throughout history. Aristotle was old news in the Arab world for literally centuries before it reemerged in the west. Comparing them at the same historical date makes no sense.

  525. michaelegnor says:

    There are theological reasons for the rise of scholarship in Christendom and the collapse of scholarship in Islam.

    In Christian theology, God’s intellect, rather than His will, is the way He manifests Himself to the world. There has always been a Christian emphasis on the Logos, including the remarkable affirmation that the Logos (God’s Self-Knowledge) became incarnate in Jesus.

    Islamic theology sees Allah’s will, rather than his intellect, as his manifestation in the world. In Islam, Allah’s will is absolute, which leads to the radical (and deadly) conviction that anything in the Quran that appears to represent the will of Allah can be carried out with impunity, regardless of the violence it entails, even violence to innocents.

    The primary theological difference between Christianity and Islam as regards science is rooted in this different emphasis on divine intellect and will.

    It is the Christian intellectual tradition of exploration of God’s intellect, and the corresponding Islamic doctrine of submission to Allah’s will, that forms the basis for the radical difference in the rise of science in Christendom and the collapse of science in Islam.

    So yes, bach, theological and philosophical differences do matter a lot.

  526. michaelegnor says:

    [The modern scientific method owes very little to [Aristotle’s] philosophy, and there are massive problems with his work, especially with the logic.]

    Why then did modern science only arise in civilizations that had adopted Aristotelian philosophy?

    Aristotle wasn’t omniscient, obviously, but his work was and is the cornerstone of the modern world. Even rejection of his views depends on his views–for example, Francis Bacon, in rejecting Aristotelian formal and final cause, appeals to Aristotelian material and efficient cause to ground his new approach to science. There is no educated philosophy in the West that does not rest on Aristotle.

    You’re clueless, Sophie.

  527. Sophie says:

    Michael Egnor,

    The primary theological difference between Christianity and Islam as regards science is rooted in this different emphasis on divine intellect and will.

    This is straight from some Christian theologian. This is historically inaccurate and borderline hate speech or something. The Quran has some lines about murder and violence. But the Bible has more.

    Where is the intellect in burning Giordano Bruno at the stake? Or censoring and punishing people for making basic astronomical observations?

  528. chikoppi says:

    @michaelegnor

    Stop straw-manning my position. You suggested that Islamic scholars made no contribution to the preservation of classic thought other than the archiving and distribution of documents compiled by earlier Christian authors.

    [michaelegnor] The primary contribution of Islam to preservation of classical learning wasn’t the preservation itself, but rather the streamlining of government and funding that came from Muslim administration of conquered Byzantine land. The Muslims were effective administrators, and this allowed a spread of the scholarship that had been preserved by the Christians.

    I pointed out that not only did Islamic scholars engage with the texts, but they made important advancements to the scholarship. A point you now acknowledge.

    [michaelegnor] A few Muslim philosophers emerged in the 10th and 11th century who did original and important work, but they gained no traction in the Muslim world and, in fact, their work was of interest almost entirely to Christians, who took their ideas and incorporated them into the larger Christianization of Aristotle.

    [michaelegnor] Stop kissing Muslim a*s.

    Stop reading words between the lines that aren’t there.

  529. Sophie says:

    Michael Egnor,

    There’s not a lot of modern critiques of his work but here is Bertrand Russell:

    I conclude that the Aristotelian doctrines with which we have been concerned in this chapter are wholly false, with the exception of the formal theory of the syllogism, which is unimportant. Any person in the present day who wishes to learn logic will be wasting his time if he reads Aristotle or any of his disciples. Nonetheless, Aristotle’s logical writings show great ability, and would have been useful to mankind if they had appeared at a time when intellectual originality was still active. Unfortunately, they appeared at the very end of the creative period of Greek thought, and therefore came to be accepted as authoritative. By the time that logical originality revived, a reign of two thousand years had made Aristotle very difficult to dethrone. Throughout modern times, practically every advance in science, in logic, or in philosophy has had to be made in the teeth of the opposition from Aristotle’s disciples.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aristotelianism

    Mathematics doesn’t rely on Aristotle’s system of logic. It’s also not taught in modern logic courses. Aristotle had a very limited system filled with errors. He also relied on some key premises that we now know are wrong. Relativity and quantum mechanics stand as proof that Aristotle was wrong about the ultimate nature of reality.

  530. michaelegnor says:

    [there are massive problems with his work, especially with the logic.]

    What a stupid thing to say Sophie.

    There is probably no body of philosophical work that has withstood the test of time better than Aristotelian logic. It wasn’t until the 19th century that non-Aristotelian logic gained even the slightest traction–that’s 2200 years of complete domination of a cornerstone of human knowledge.

    Although mathematical logic has gained traction in the past century, Aristotelian logic–categories, syllogism, propositions, induction, deduction, fallacies and moral reasoning (virtue ethics– will remain a cornerstone of human knowledge indefinitely.

  531. michaelegnor says:

    Sophie:

    [this is… borderline hate speech]

    F*ck you. Now your totalitarian instincts come out.

    This is the last conversation we will have.

  532. Sophie says:

    If you are a hardcore Aristotelian, you will fail every logic class. You won’t be able to write simple computer programs. You wouldn’t be able to form good experimental hypotheses. You couldn’t even write a modern proof.

    The fact that most modern scientific disciplines rely on non-Aristotelian logic and principles means that he was wrong. Fundamentally wrong. Either that or modern computing isn’t real, and this message can’t possibly be posted, since all the logic needed to display this message was invented to deal with the sloppiness of classical logic.

  533. Sophie says:

    Your Christian exceptionalism is problematic. You previously argued that all the greatest western thinkers were Christian. Like everyone in the Enlightenment. This is pretty ignorant of the culture and facts of life at the time. It’s like saying they were all white, therefore white people are the best. Or they were all men, therefore women aren’t as smart and capable of being great thinkers.

  534. edamame says:

    Egnor nobody said what you have accused about Muslim scholars. You are being intellectually dishonest and attacking a straw man. It is well-known that Arabic cultures preserved and studied many Greek philosophers during periods of active neglect and censorship by the Catholic church. Good portions of Aristotle were censored before Aquinas, but were revered and maintained in Eastern countries, many Arabic (and non-Arabic) countries.

    Maybe you can tell us how the Inquisition was a good thing, though.

  535. michaelegnor says:

    chi:

    [Stop reading words between the lines that aren’t there.]

    I’m quite aware of Avicenna’s and Averros’ contributions.

    They were exceptional in Islam, which has historically discouraged and repressed classical scholarship and is today obviously a black hole of scholarship.

    Here is a comparison between intellectual and cultural standards in Israel and the Arab (Muslim) world.

    Sober reading. Islam is an intellectual cesspool.

    Stop defending it.

  536. michaelegnor says:

    [Good portions of Aristotle were censored before Aquinas, but were revered and maintained in Eastern countries, many Arabic (and non-Arabic) countries.]

    The pagan aspects of Aristotelian metaphysics were problematic to all monotheistic cultures, and the notion that Islam was fine with paganism is bullish*t.

    The Church was hot and cold with Aristotle, and it is a matter of record that his work was preserved only by Christians from the 5th to the 10th century. The great expositors of Aristotle– Albert Magnus, Thomas Aquinas, Duns Scotus, William of Ockham–were all Christian scholars.

    No scholar in Islam was free to expound pagan metaphysics. That was an easy way to acquire an expendable head, and, in Islam, still is.

    Again, stop sucking up to the world’s most repressive intellectually degenerate religion.

  537. michaelegnor says:

    Here’s the comparison between Israel and the Arab Muslim world I forgot to link to:

    http://www.imninalu.net/Israel-Arabs.htm

  538. Sophie says:

    Michael Egnor,

    Yeah so when you go on rants like this about Islam it’s kind of hard to defend you or see any merit in what you have to say. It’s just obvious you think Christianity is exceptional and that your people are chosen ones. But what’s interesting is your previous comments in this thread that supported and justified Islam’s ideas.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_logic

    Skim the history of logic. You will see a pretty clear abandonment of Aristotle’s logic. By the time you get to the enlightenment you see a birth of new systems of logic. By the modern era we see that Aristotle isn’t even taught in modern math and logic. His systems and ideas have been abandoned.

  539. michaelegnor says:

    [Maybe you can tell us how the Inquisition was a good thing, though.]

    The Inquisition was a disaster. Because it was too timid and limited.

    Every culture needs to defend itself, and the failure of central and northern Europe to mount a rigorous Inquisition was catastrophic. If there had been an adequate Inquisition in Germany in the early 16th century, Luther would have remained a monk or become a pile of ashes.

    The failure to deal with this heretic led directly to the Thirty Years War, the most violent European conflagration until WWI. It killed 30 million people, depopulated a third of Germany, and ripped European civilization apart.

    An effective Inquisition would have shut it down before it started. That, in fact, was the purpose of the Inquisition–to protect the public from havoc.

    The Inquisition was most effective in Spain, where heretics were dealt with quite promptly. Notice that Spain was one of the few places in Europe that wasn’t party to the slaughter of the Thirty Years War.

    The Inquisition was only a problem when it wasn’t effectively applied.

  540. Sophie says:

    If you could step into a time machine would you take charge of the Inquistion yourself?

  541. Sophie says:

    You don’t like Protestantism? I feel like this will be inconvenient for your fundamentalist Catholic view of history:

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protestant_work_ethic

  542. chikoppi says:

    [michaelegnor] Stop defending it.

    You just can’t grasp it, can you? I’m not defending anything, especially not religion or religious thought of any stripe. It is universally detrimental whenever and wherever theology intrudes on rationalism.

    You made a misleading statement. I pointed it out. Islamic scholars did contribute to the classical cannon, despite the prevailing religious culture (I seem to recall Aquinas facing a number of rebukes and condemnations from the church in his day as well). You can claim that these scholars were exceptional, but the fact remains.

  543. Lightnotheat says:

    Wow, Egnor’s only problem with the Inquisition is that it wasn’t savage ENOUGH! Yeah, and too bad the Holocaust didn’t wipe out ALL the Jews. Just think, we wouldn’t have to deal with the Israeli-Palestian conflict..

  544. chikoppi says:

    [michaelegnor] Every culture needs to defend itself, and the failure of central and northern Europe to mount a rigorous Inquisition was catastrophic. If there had been an adequate Inquisition in Germany in the early 16th century, Luther would have remained a monk or become a pile of ashes.

    The failure to deal with this heretic led directly to the Thirty Years War, the most violent European conflagration until WWI. It killed 30 million people, depopulated a third of Germany, and ripped European civilization apart.

    An effective Inquisition would have shut it down before it started. That, in fact, was the purpose of the Inquisition–to protect the public from havoc.

    Disgusting. The inquisition and the war were the result of fascist cowards eager to subjugate others under the yoke of theocracy. It wasn’t about “protecting the public,” it was about preserving the domain of the theocratic empire.

    [wikipedia] The war began when the newly elected Holy Roman Emperor, Ferdinand II, tried to impose religious uniformity on his domains, forcing Roman Catholicism on its peoples. The northern Protestant states, angered by the violation of their rights to choose that had been granted in the Peace of Augsburg, banded together to form the Protestant Union. Ferdinand II was a devout Roman Catholic and relatively intolerant when compared to his predecessor, Rudolf II. His policies were considered strongly pro-Catholic.

  545. Sophie says:

    All the historical arguments Egnor makes are deeply flawed. It’s a combination of a couple factors.
    (1) He got the original arguments from Christian theologians and not real history textbooks.
    (2) He has forgotten some of key details to the Christian biased arguments
    (3) He feels the need to stitch the fragmented memories together with over the top insulting rhetoric and condescension.

    So for example. The inquisition was actually not just Spanish. The most famous inquisition is the Spanish one, but it’s origins and reach lie elsewhere. All Egnor remembers is the word “Spanish” and that the thirty years war was set in Central Europe. So he concludes: yeah and Spain wasn’t even in that war!!

    Actually the Spanish empire played a significant role in the thirty years war, even though the battles mostly took place in Germany and not Spain.

  546. bachfiend says:

    Sophie,

    You stole my thunder. I was going to mention that Spain had been heavily involved in the Thirty Years War too.

    What Egnor doesn’t know about history would fill many books.

    The Thirty Years War should have finished in 1620 after the White Mountain battle outside of Prague. It should have been a Two Years War, and relatively bloodless. It only lasted30 years because Sweden wanted to control the Baltic, and Catholic France under the Catholic Cardinal Richelieu was paying Sweden to continue the war in order to establish France as the leader of the Catholic world, instead of the pope.

    The Franco-Spanish War was part of the Thirty Years War.

    The French were also involved in the Glorious Revolution of 1688. The Catholic king James II was an ally of the French king Louis XIV, who was keen to supplant the pope (yet again) as leader of the Catholic world. The pope actually lent William of Orange money for his invasion of England (and had a portrait of him in his office). 1066 wasn’t (as commonly believed) the last successful invasion of England.

    Egnor is still engaging in his Egnor Evasion. He’s very dismissive of cogent arguments, such as the real reasons for modern science developing mainly in Western Europe (if it was due to Christianity then why didn’t it develop in Eastern Europe too?).

  547. edamame says:

    Good book about the crazy ways Aristotle was preserved and transmitted through the ages:
    https://www.amazon.com/Aristotle-Adventure-Transmitted-Aristotles-Renaissance/dp/0964471493

  548. GHL says:

    Egnor, your position on the inquisitions is monstrous and runs counter to the dominant ethic in most Christian denominations today. have you not heard of the Beatitudes?
    Adding to this your understanding of why the Reformations (including the Roman Catholic Counter-Reformation) came about is patently untrue. The sentiments held by Martin Luther were not unique and had been violently suppressed more than once before, he was merely at the right place at the right time for him to the the catalyst. His initial critiques of the Church would be echoed at least in part if you applied the understanding the modern Roman Catholic Church has of itself.

    Bach, I was unaware the origins of Islam were known with such certainty. Can you provide links so I can read more?

  549. bachfiend says:

    GHL,

    One reference is the book ‘Did Muhammad Exist’ by Robert Spencer, which lays out all the reasons, including the fact that Mecca wasn’t a trading settlement early in the 7th century, and the Qur’an mentions Mohammed just 4 times. And refers to Mohammed the prophet in exactly the same words as it does when it refers to the Messiah son of Mary. Both are ‘nothing but a messenger; messengers have passed away before him’, inviting the supposition that identical descriptions refer to the same person (fictional or not).

    I personally wonder whether France bears a major part of the blame for the Reformation. It had abducted the papacy to Avignon in the 14th century, and a major part of the reason for Indulgences (which Martin Luther objected to) was to pay for the move back to Rome. Although many of the popes were financially inept. Profligate in fact.

  550. RickK says:

    Michael Egnor: “The Inquisition was a disaster. Because it was too timid and limited.”

    Michael, you’re not just a troll to this blog, you’ve demonstrated you’re a troll to humanity.

    Pro-life!? Hah!

    How proud your kids must be.

  551. michaelegnor says:

    The hypocrisy is hilarious. Here I am being scolded by atheists and protestants about ideologically motivated violence.

    The Inquisition was a tiny completely justified effort to maintain civic peace.

    Atheism’s inquisitions have murdered 100 million people since 1789, and it continues to curse mankind today in such hellholes as North Korea.

    Protestantism’s inquisitions brought unprecedented violence and repression to Europe, directly causing the Thirty Years’ War, and leading to the brutal and violent English Civil War, the Napoleonic Wars, the Franco-Prussian War, and WWI and WWII.

    The English-Anglican repression and mass murder of the Catholic Irish (by direct action and by murderous negligence in the Great Famine) was one of the singular crimes against humanity of modern times.

    Yet you ignorant hypocrites continue to bleat your anti-Catholic propaganda about the modest and restrained self-defense of the greatest civilization (Medieval Catholic civilization) that the world has produced.

  552. bachfiend says:

    Michael,

    As I’ve noted many times, what you don’t know about history would fill many books. What you get wrong about history even more so.

    Catholicism wasn’t one happy family before the Reformation. The First Crusade was initiated largely to stop the internecine wars in Europe (not a single Protestant was involved). Catholic France in the 14th century had abducted the pope from Rome in order to wrest leadership of the Catholic world, setting up the Avignon papacy.

    Even when the pope managed to escape there were still several counter-popes under French Catholic control.

    And the schism with the Orthodox Church occurred centuries before the Reformation. The sacking of Constantinople by the Catholic crusaders during one of the crusades didn’t endear Catholics to Orthodox Christians. Remind me how this was self defence?

    The Thirty Years War should have ended in 1620, but it lasted so long because Catholic France under the Catholic Cardinal Richelieu paid Sweden to continue the war.

    It’s a little rich claiming that ‘Protestantism’s inquisitions’ directly caused the Thirty Years War. It was the breaking of the agreements of the 1555 Peace of Augsburg by the Catholic Emperor Ferdinand II which led to the Defenestration of Prague. And the war.

    The English Civil War probably would have happened regardless of whether Charles I was Catholic or Anglican. A tyrant remains a tyrant.

    I’m rapidly losing interest in correcting your errors of history. The First World War was started by Christians. Million strong armies marched off to be slaughtered for ‘God, king and country’.

    Atheists don’t kill out of ideology, because atheists don’t have an ideology. To slaughter millions, you need an ideology with the delusion of a future utopia. Such as Christianity, Islam or Communism.

  553. bachfiend says:

    Not only are Catholics perfectly capable of waging national war against Catholics, but there have also been war waging popes too.

    Pope Julius II, who died in 1513 – before the Reformation – was known as the military pope, and not only had an active military policy, but also led troops into battle on at least two occasions, including against France, who by definition had to be Catholics, because there weren’t any Protestants then.

    Remind me again how medieval Catholic civilisation was the greatest civilisation that the world has known.

    Admittedly, the Catholic Church has reformed to a large degree. I’d much prefer to have Pope Francis instead of Donald Trump as US president (impossible though it is).

  554. GHL says:

    ME, I would add to what others have argued by pointing out that all the persons in this comments section is fundamentally opposed to ideological violence, myself included. Your argument so far on this particular topic can be boiled down to: Atheists & Anglicans = Vile Murderers but Roman Catholics = Near perfect saints (most of the time). Of course Anglicans have committed acts of violence, it has always been made up of humans, as I have pointed out before violence against our fellow humanity IS PART OF OUR COMMON INHERITANCE, but so is the greatest kindness. I am against all ideological violence, you are only against it if it isn’t “your side”.

    Bach, thanks for the info, I’ll have a read.

  555. Sophie says:

    Michael Egnor believes that Catholicism is the one true path to god. Anything that you say that doesn’t directly support his belief is seen as anti-Catholic. If you point out the many atrocities and wars that have been motivated by Catholicism you are clearly just wrong about everything and promoting atheism or Islam.

    What I would be interested to know is if he thinks we should bring back theocracies and kingdoms. Clearly feudalism, royalty and theology was a big part of government for centuries under the peak of Roman Catholicism. Is that a good model? Should we go back to that?

    Since the inquisition was just like the Catholic immune system, ‘justifiably’ getting rid of ‘tiny’ infections, should we bring it back?

    What if we just made Catholicism the official religion of America, outlawed all others, kicked out those who refused, would that be a good thing?

    Egnor, why do we even have separation of church and state? Were the founding fathers wrong about that? Is theocracy the model? Should we set the new Vatican up right beside Stony Brook hospital?

  556. chikoppi says:

    [michaelegnor] The Inquisition was a tiny completely justified effort to maintain civic peace.

    Atheism’s inquisitions have murdered 100 million people since 1789, and it continues to curse mankind today in such hellholes as North Korea.

    THERE IT IS AGAIN. Whenever cornered he fumbles for the false equivalency card.

    The inquisition and the Thirty Years War were acts of naked and brutal oppression/aggression by greedy theocratic tyrants. They were the equivalent the imposition of Islamic Sharia Law, wherein people were jailed, tortured, murdered, and dispossessed for not submitting to the Catholic Caliphate.

    “Maintain civic peace.” GTFOH.

    Theocratic terrorism and despotism, like that as practiced by the Catholic Church, continues to curse mankind today in such hellholes as Syria, Afghanistan, Sudan, and Somalia.

    Kim Jong-un is a vicious little waste of humanity, but as he tortures and murders he doesn’t claim to be doing it for the “praise and glory God.” If he did, if he merely first charged his victims with the crimes of heresy or apostasy, we would applaud hm for conducting an “effective inquisition.” If he were behaving the exact same way, but wearing priestly robes, we could applaud him for “a completely justified effort to maintain civil peace.”

    When devotion to apologetics has one boot-licking for history’s petty theocratic tyrants, it’s well passed time to quit.

  557. michaelegnor says:

    chi:

    You persist in the bizarre claim that atheists don’t have to account for the behavior of atheists, while Christians are accountable for everything any Christian has done for 2000 years.

    Here’s a question: can you name an atheist government (officially atheist) that has not been a totalitarian hellhole.

    Here’s a partial list:

    Soviet Union
    Communist China
    East Germany
    North Korea
    Khymer Cambodia

    Atheism has a murderous track record when it is in power. As an atheist, you have to answer for that , just as I have to answer for the Inquisition and Anglicans have to answer for the atrocities visited on the Irish.

  558. michaelegnor says:

    Unless, of course, atheism means “never having to say you’re sorry.”

  559. RickK says:

    Michael,

    Oh please. Sure – let’s talk hypocrisy.

    The Catholics and Lutherans in Germany exterminated millions of people BECAUSE they were Jewish.

    The first Catholics in the New World exterminated millions – happily depopulating continents. And then they went on to deliberately and systematically wipe out the cultural and intellectual heritage of those same lost peoples.

    You want us to praise Christianity because some Christian monks saved brilliant pagan philosophy from being destroyed by, in large part, other Christians. Aquinas’s riffs on Greek philosophy look so much better when all alternatives have been burned.

    You’re blaming the 30 Years War because the Inquisition wasn’t brutal enough – as if there were no wars in Europe before the Reformation. You Catholics did just fine warring amongst yourselves centuries before Luther.

    But you’d be perfectly happy with “imposed” peace, wouldn’t you – so long as the new global Napoleon or Stalin is wearing a tall white hat.

    Why is your faith so singularly unable to stop bloodshed? Your answer is that Catholics are too soft on heretics! For someone who is supposed to first do no harm, you are certainly eager to slaughter anyone that doesn’t share your particular superstition.

    Tell us “Doctor” Egnor, is “maintain civic peace” the conservative Catholic translation for “jihad”?

    Again, thank you for sharing the darker shades of black that are your true colors.

  560. michaelegnor says:

    and bach’s silly claim that ‘atheism isn’t an ideology’ is nonsense.

    Atheism entails very specific ideological committments:

    1) There is no God
    2) There is no transcendant standard of morality
    3) There is no afterlife
    4) There is no transcendant moral accountability after death
    5) There is no transcendant purpose to life, other than purposes given by individuals
    6) Humans are not qualitatively different from animals.

    All of these are specific ideological committements shared by all atheists.

    Atheism is very much an ideology, although obviously there are variations around the periphery (liberal and conservative atheists, like liberal and conservative Christians).

  561. michaelegnor says:

    Ricky:

    You own up to the Gulag and the Holodomor and the Killing Fields and the Cultural Revolution, and I’ll own up to Catholic involvement in Nazi Germany.

    Deal?

  562. mumadadd says:

    Michael,

    “can you name an atheist government (officially atheist) that has not been a totalitarian hellhole.”

    As has been pointed out to you numerous times, the totalitarian but non-religious regimes you cite did so in the name of ideologies, just not overtly religious ones.

    An atheist state says nothing about religion — it just stays out of it altogether and allows people to practise whatever religion they see fit, provided they do so within the constraints of the law.

    For examples of these states look to Western Europe.

    The regimes you cite have far more in common with theocracies than they do with any state that practises the kind of atheism that every single person whom you are addressing on this blog would endorse.

    Further, we condemn the problems we identify with religious ideology and theocracy both in the context of theocratic regimes and your pet ‘atheist’ regimes.

    Your misrepresentation of our views is transparently wilful.

  563. michaelegnor says:

    muma:

    Many countries have established religious perspectives. Some have established Christian churches (England=Anglican, Sweden=Lutheran, etc). Some have established Islamic states (Saudi Arabia). Some have established atheism (Soviet Union, Communist China, North Korea, Khymer Cambodia, East Germany, Cuba).

    Compare them.

  564. michaelegnor says:

    muma:

    I’m not saying of course that you personally, as an atheist, endorse totalitarianism.

    But you and I have a moral responsibility to acknowledge that our religious/irreligious perspectives have real consequences in the real world.

    Every officially atheist nation has been a hellhole. Many officially Christian nations have been pretty good places to live.

    An honest atheist would be interested in that fact, and would ask why it is that atheism in power, unlike Christianity in power, is always totalitarian.

  565. Sophie says:

    Egnor,

    Atheist governments vs Catholic governments is a false dichotomy. No one here is defending any atheist regime in the world. Not a single person has said that atheist systems have historically led to better outcomes.

    The examples you cite are also deeply flawed totalitarian regimes. China for example is not a real democracy, there are no real elections and protesters are arrested.

    The communist regimes of Russia and other places are also not just simply “atheists” they are also totalitarian douche bags. Theism vs atheism isn’t the only variable to consider.

    The problem with you is that everything is so simplified to the point that nothing you have to say has any merit. You make the mistake of thinking that you can understand history without actually opening a history book.

  566. Sophie says:

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christianity_and_violence

    Thirty years war had a death toll of 8 million. BTW. And was purely initiated by religious circumstances. It turned out to be about much more than that.

  567. edamame says:

    egnor here’s your homework. Part I: what do all those “atheist” countries have in common besides particular views about religion or gods? Part 2: draw the Venn Diagram of overlap of these common properties they share with other countries that you would classify as hellholes.

    There will be no grading on a curve.

    On the other hand, secular governments have done quite well. For instance, the United States of America. There’s this really weird cool thing called the First Amendment. Switzerland. England (the Anglican church has no real power in government). Etc..

  568. RickK says:

    No Michael, the comparison is not about which ideology is ruling a country. The common thread is when the country is led by people who enforce a singl ideology. Whether it is Stalin enforcing only Communism, or you enforcing only Catholicism, totalitarian is totalitarian.

    You said: “The Inquisition was a disaster. Because it was too timid and limited.”

    You should applaud the Gulag. It wasn’t timid. They achieved for years the “civic peace” you seek.

    You are demonstrating the ease with which you assume the role you claim to oppose.

    So my friend, Totalitarians of every cloth are your people not mine.

  569. chikoppi says:

    [michaelegnor] You persist in the bizarre claim that atheists don’t have to account for the behavior of atheists, while Christians are accountable for everything any Christian has done for 2000 years.

    No, YOU are the one drawing these false parallels.

    Atheism tells you exactly one thing about a person. Atheists are not in the same club. They don’t share common goals. They don’t have common views on government. They don’t share a common social philosophy.

    An atheist, just like a religious person, can also be a brutal dictator, or violent political ideologue, or oppressive authoritarian. The one thing they can’t be is a theocrat.

    A theocrat engages in these behaviors in the name of religious totalitarianism. That is what you are defending and I am not.

    Atheism has a murderous track record when it is in power. As an atheist, you have to answer for that, just as I have to answer for the Inquisition and Anglicans have to answer for the atrocities visited on the Irish.

    You did answer for the inquisition. You claimed it wasn’t murderous enough in its theocratic fervor. I have never and will never defend the likes of Stalin, or Pol Pot, or Ferdinand II, or Richelieu, because I stand in direct and universal opposition to all these tyrants.

    I will and do absolutely condemn any use of oppressive violence or any ideological despot, entirely irrespective of religious affiliation or non-affiliation. Can you say the same?

  570. Sophie says:

    Michael Egnor,

    What would your ideal government look like? What would you change about the US?

  571. michaelegnor says:

    chi:

    [I have never and will never defend the likes of Stalin, or Pol Pot,]

    What role did Stalin and Pol Pot’s atheism, and the atheism of the communist movement, play in their crimes?

  572. chikoppi says:

    [michaelegnor] What role did Stalin and Pol Pot’s atheism, and the atheism of the communist movement, play in their crimes?

    The enforcement of an ideological purity test contrived for the purpose of consolidating power and eliminating competing social institutions.

    What role did religion play in the inquisition and the Thirty Years War?

    I can condemn both as examples of ideological tyranny enacted by the state for the purpose of social and political oppression. You either can’t or won’t.

    As Rickk succinctly observed above, ‘totalitarians are your people, not mine.’

  573. Sophie says:

    Atheism played a small role in those totalitarian regimes, the big idea was always “how do we get power and keep power.” The ideology always comes in second. Human nature, greed and rebellion are constant themes in the birth of every totalitarian regime, atheism or communism is not always there. The ideology is used as an excuse.

    The communists didn’t even live up their own philosophy. Corruption runs deep in all those countries. People in power ended up with the wealth and freedom and oppressed the masses. It’s all just an elaborate pyramid scheme, like feudalism’s relationship with Roman Catholicism.

  574. RickK says:

    Michael asked: “What role did Stalin and Pol Pot’s atheism, and the atheism of the communist movement, play in their crimes?”

    They “maintained civic peace”. By your definition, it was completely justified.

  575. bachfiend says:

    Michael,

    ‘1. There is no God. 2. There is no transcendent standard of morality. 3. There is no afterlife. 4. There is no transcendent moral accountability after death. 5. There is no transcendent purpose to life, other than purposes given by individuals. 6. Humans are not qualitatively different from (other) animals’.

    These are all worldviews not ideological commitments, and I’d actually partially disagree with (5) and (6).

    It’s been pointed out to you numerous times that worldviews and ideologies are different.

    Worldviews explain how the world came to be as it is.

    Ideologies proscribe how the world should develop in the future. Ideologies become murderous when they have the delusion that there’s going to be some sort of future utopia in which millions or billions of people will be very happy. And that anyone who is preventing the utopia coming about (even if this idea is also a delusion in the minds of the ideology’s leaders) is evil and needs to be harshly treated to allow the utopia to come into being.

    Murderous ideologies with delusional future utopias include Christianity, Islam and Communism.

    Atheism doesn’t have an ideology. How would be antheist’s future utopia look like anyway, if there was one? Even if 100% of the world’s population came to realise that there were no gods, the world’s other problems would remain the same.

    You’re confused, perhaps deliberately, by the fact that Christianity has both a worldview (a god created the Universe and everything in it) and an ideology (the ‘just’ will be rewarded in a future life even if their lives on Earth were shitty).

    Humans (as GHL noted) are perfectly capable of waging war on one another. To add to the list of wars not involving Protestants, the Hundred Years War was between Catholic kings. Not a Protestant in sight, because it was in the 14th and 15th centuries.

    Time for your Egnor Evasion again? I notice you haven’t corrected yourself on the non-religious components of the Thirty Years War. Including Cardinal Richelieu paying Sweden to continue the war for political not religious reasons.

  576. Sophie says:

    Bach,

    “These are all worldviews not ideological commitments, and I’d actually partially disagree with (5) and (6).”

    Since Egnor abandoned us, do you mind telling me why you disagree with 5 and 6? How could we test them?

  577. bachfiend says:

    Sophie,

    I partially disagree with (5) and (6). Individuals don’t give purpose to life. Societies give purpose. Humans are a social animal.

    And humans are qualitatively different from other animals. Humans are the only species we know of that thinks of its eventual death. And invents myths to make it more palatable.

  578. Sophie says:

    Saying life has a purpose isn’t a fact though right? Can’t it have no purpose? I guess I have to ask what you mean by purpose. If you mean to reproduce or something more profound. Like we are the universe becoming conscious of itself, or something. Or something like the anthropic principle. Personally I find it tricky. Yes all the biological explanations are fine, but it’s hard to say more than that.

    For example, if you just start with “the universe must have some purpose,” you can find yourself arguing for religion in no time, just y providing semi logical answers to that question.

  579. bachfiend says:

    Sophie,

    What I actually meant was that ‘Life’ with a capital ‘L’ (that is, the total sum of everything that is alive) has no purpose, except being. It has no purpose given by individuals. ‘Life’ with a small ‘l’ – ”life’ – refers to the life of individuals, the purpose of which isn’t just determined by the individual.

    There’s purpose in the life of an individual, but it’s not god-given or universe-given.

    I think Egnor was just deliberately confusing the two.

  580. Sophie says:

    Oh I see what you are saying. I feel like it’s impossible to convince a theist that there is no ultimate purpose of life. It’s a central part of many religions that the universe, life, human beings were created for a purpose.

  581. otistd says:

    At the risk of sounding glib a lot of things about this post border on hypocrisy in my opinion. Dr. Novella has stepped outside of his area of expertise in order to expound on the historical evidence for the existence of Jesus (apparently motivated by his own agnostic atheism)- and he does so apparently without the aid of expert advice on just what the historical consensus means. Certainly he has done a good deal research off line, pouring through texts that represent multiple viewpoints and I would hazard a guess that he has spent extensive time at Google U. on this one as well. But all of that doesn’t necessarily qualify him to question a consensus of expert historians. That being said I agree with all of the substantive points he makes, though I question whether the distinction he is trying to make between his own viewpoint and the historical consensus is really a difference. It seems to me he is taking his own scientific worldview into a historical debate and criticizing historians for speaking with more certainty than he believes is warranted, but he never delves into exactly how much certainty a historian would profess. I suspect that many historians would reply that the historical consensus represents only the interpretation that is most likely to be correct among several interpretations- and that it does not even represent a certainty greatly above 50% or could even be less than 50% certain. Obviously the further back you go, and the spottier the historical record becomes the less certain you can be. Dr. Novella would certainly take umbrage (and rightly so) if a historian wrote an article questioning the scientific “certainty” on global warming and pointed out that there are a range of future climate scenarios which are possible, and thus concluded that the scientific certainty on global warming is overstated. This article approaches the reverse of that situation- however unintentional. (As an aside this is not a situation akin to the Arthurian legends. The first written records alluding to a figure recognizable as Arthur date to hundreds of years after the supposed Arthur existed- not mere decades as is the case with Jesus.) Basically I don’t think historians CAN reach the level of certainty that is required in science because they are dealing with, well ancient history and spotty records. If they were to insist on a level of certainty which would please Dr. Novella I suspect much of the ancient history we are taught in school would get dumped into a pile of “we really don’t know”- so in order to say something they must accept a very high level of uncertainty as a given and then provide the rest of us with an interpretation that represents merely the consensus best guess at what really happened. I don’t think it is charitable for scientists to come wading in and poking holes in history without spending the decades/centuries historians have spent grappling with those issues- because at the point where you start insisting we can’t say anything about ancient history unless we can know it with a high level of certainty the historical inquiry would effectively cease. It is probably better to accept a history rife with errors than to have no history available from which to learn in my opinion. As a general rule the further forward or backward you go in time from the present, the more uncertainty you must accept if you want to say anything useful. I think scientists and historians would both agree on that- and I think they should also agree that neither is really qualified to comment effectively on the other sides methods and consensus as well.

  582. Sankari says:

    >>
    The Gospels were written beginning about 60 years after Jesus.
    >>

    Academic consensus states that earliest gospel is Mark, which was written around AD 70. This places it only 40 years after Jesus. All of the gospels were written closer to the events they describe than most—possibly all—other ancient biographies.

    >>
    Around three centuries after Jesus, after Christianity became the official religion of Rome, the church settled on four gospels as canon, and everything else became heresy.
    >>

    No, that’s not correct. The canonicity of the gospels was settled before the end of the 2nd century. Christianity did not become the official religion of Rome until AD 380, when Theodosius I issued the Edict of Thessalonica. By this time, the full canon had already been agreed on.

  583. Hobart says:

    It should be noted that the Jesus mythicists tend to doubt or reject the historicity of many religious figures, not just Jesus the Jew. Many mythicists claim that Muhammad, Paul, Gautama Buddha, John the Baptist and the early followers of Jesus are non-historical persons. One prominent mythicist told me that Socrates never existed and was made up by Plato. But this mythicist also told me three times that Bigfoot could really exist. Some of the mythicists from the late 19th century also claimed that Herod the Great and Pontius Pilate never existed.

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