July 31, 2014

Debate done, went well, post tomorrow?

Well, the debate went well, about 450 people or so in attendance. I heard it will be posted on Youtube tomorrow so as soon as I get a link I will post it here. Once I get it up, we can discuss it. Meanwhile, maybe some people who attended and would care to can post their impressions here. View the debate.

Comments

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    To everyone on this list, Fr. Hans did us all very proud. His passion was evident, yet he was totally approachable for the college audience. Even his “foe” was taken in, but had to give a below the belt punch that we are sure was just a sound bite for his radio show. i.e., “Thinking about it further, no we cannot have a beer together if you hold that secularism could have been responsible for Nazi atrocities” paraphrasing of course. We watched the audience holding firm to their ideas and waiting for Fr. Hans to flinch. He didn’t. Instead he opened them up to ideas they never heard before, we could see them almost stop breathing while thinking of some of these ideas. Fr. Hans definitely planted some good seeds, including in the head of his opponent in the debate.

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      No, it was Fr. Hans insinuating that secularism leads to concentration camps that was below the belt, and evading rebuttal by the dirty trick of waiting until after Matt’s closing remarks to do it. Matt indignantly calling him out on it during the Q&A was not “just a sound bite”, but a well‐deserved chiding.

      If anything, Matt was far too polite about it. I’d’ve dressed down Fr. Hans as a Holocaust revisionist for his dishonesty.

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        Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

        “Dressed down”? Where?

        Actually, to be clear, I never said secularism leads to concentration camps. What I said was that secularism is just a layover from one place to the next, although this trip takes a century or so to complete.

        What I said was that atheism leads to concentration camps and gulags, as the historical record makes clear. This is not the same thing as saying that all atheists support such a development. Clearly they don’t. In fact, I contend that some atheists can be moral people as I indicated in my opening statement.

        Atheist morality however, is necessarily derivative. It depends on first principles drawn from places other than atheism itself. The materialist ground of atheism allows for nothing except moral relativism.

        Neither was I “insinuating” that secularism (atheism, actually) leads to concentration camps. I was very frank, outspoken actually, in asserting the claim. All the great tyrannies of the last century were atheist. The fact that almost all (thinking) atheists are Marxists is Exhibit A.

        The “chiding” is to be expected. It’s a cheap substitute for a historical problem atheists have yet to address. I have yet to hear any reasoning internal to atheism that explains away this problem besides wagging the finger while muttering “That’s not fair!”

        If you can provide one, I am all ears. I contend however that your materialism precludes it.

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          Neither was I “insinuating” that secularism (atheism, actually) leads to concentration camps.

          You didn’t just insinuate it, you baldly asserted it: “That’s the vision that is lost to secularism. And the historical record, as I said, shows that secularism, the denial of that sacred dimension, is a place that leads in the end to concentration camps and gulags. It does. Read your history.” (part 5/9, 13:01)

          All the great tyrannies of the last century were atheist.

          I can refute that in two words: Nazi Germany.

          The fact that almost all (thinking) atheists are Marxists is Exhibit A.

          You haven’t met many atheists, have you?

          How about a wager? There are a couple dozen atheists in my local atheist group. I propose to poll 20 members at the next meetup on whether they are Marxists, and I’ll bet you $20 not a single one professes to be one. Because I’m capitalist enough to scheme to profit off your prejudice.

          (I’ll even skip the one I already know to be an outspoken libertarian, which is about as far from Marxist as you can get, but that probably disqualifies him from being a “thinking” atheist right there.)

          What I said was that atheism leads to concentration camps and gulags, as the historical record makes clear.

          Recasting your claim from secularism to atheism makes it even more indefensible, since atheism has no belief system by which you could derive any public policy.

          Your invocation of concentration camps is particularly ironic, since the most infamous regime associated with them, Nazi Germany, sent atheists to those camps, along with Jews, gays, and gypsies. A regime headed by a Catholic dictator who often said he was doing the work of the Lord.

          Atheism cannot lead to anything remotely comparable, and I dare say you cannot find a single instance in the historical record that can back up your assertion.

          The materialist ground of atheism allows for nothing except moral relativism.

          Atheism is not founded on materialism, and atheists need not be materialists or moral relativists. Atheists need not even have no supernatural beliefs; an atheist could believe in reincarnation, for example.

          Furthermore, I am a materialist, but not a moral relativist. I reject the idea that there are no objective moral standards. Indeed, philosophers over the milennia have expounded plenty of objective moral standards, frex, Kant’s categorical imperative.

          I have yet to hear any reasoning internal to atheism that explains away this problem besides wagging the finger while muttering “That’s not fair!” If you can provide one, I am all ears.

          I can: there is no such problem. Your charge is completely groundless.

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            Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

            You didn’t just insinuate it, you baldly asserted it: “That’s the vision that is lost to secularism. And the historical record, as I said, shows that secularism, the denial of that sacred dimension, is a place that leads in the end to concentration camps and gulags. It does. Read your history.” (part 5/9, 13:01)

            Yes, that’s what I meant by:

            Neither was I “insinuating” that secularism (atheism, actually) leads to concentration camps. I was very frank, outspoken actually, in asserting the claim.

            Secularism is the layover that leads to atheism. Atheism, in denying any transcendent dimension (the sacred dimension) must necessarily embrace nihilism. That’s when we get into the great social engineering projects like the Final Solution (racial Social Darwinism), Five Year Plans, and other delusions.

            How about a wager? There are a couple dozen atheists in my local atheist group. I propose to poll 20 members at the next meetup on whether they are Marxists, and I’ll bet you $20 not a single one professes to be one. Because I’m capitalist enough to scheme to profit off your prejudice.

            Don’t take it so personally Robin. You might be a moral atheist for all I know. If your outrage is at all authentic you probably are. But you clearly don’t understand atheism in any comprehensive way. I make a distinction between your run of the mill atheist who thinks he understands what he believes (many of them don’t), and the philosophical ground of atheist beliefs (yes, beliefs).

            Have you ever studied Nietzsche? He said there were few things worse than atheists who were not true to their atheism. They live, in other words, like unbelieving Christians. Nietzsche saw the contradiction. So do I.

            Your invocation of concentration camps is particularly ironic, since the most infamous regime associated with them, Nazi Germany, sent atheists to those camps, along with Jews, gays, and gypsies. A regime headed by a Catholic dictator who often said he was doing the work of the Lord.

            Great evil is always justified in the name of good, nothing new there. Your point about atheists in the concentration camps is no surprise either. Atheism eats its own. Solzhenitsyn writes about Marxists arrested by Stalin who were convinced that their arrest must have been a mistake. They simply could not comprehend the real nature of the evil they embraced. They died still committed to the ideology that killed them.

            Atheism cannot lead to anything remotely comparable, and I dare say you cannot find a single instance in the historical record that can back up your assertion.

            Oh my, its clear you know nothing about Nietzsche. He prophesied it all Robin. He championed the destruction in fact, thought it was necessary. It also clear you really have no idea what happened in the last century, either. You’ve got to start reading Robin. Much more happened than you seem to know.

            Ever hear of Anthony Flew?

            Furthermore, I am a materialist, but not a moral relativist. I reject the idea that there are no objective moral standards.

            Then you don’t understand what materialism really means. There cannot be such a thing as “objective moral standards” in the materialist vision. That simply cannot exist. Again, Nietzsche understood this. All that exists in a materialist universe is a will to power. Morality is simply what you believe it is, nothing more. It has no “objective” character.

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            T. Nathaniel says:

            Robin,

            It is impossible to assert that Kant is a materialist. If his morality is the one that you produce as being objective but nonetheless materialist, you are mistaken.

            In the Critique of Pure Reason Kant asserts that reason is not suited to make overarching metaphysical claims, which materialism with its reductivism certainly is. On all these questions (that is, metaphysical questions) Kant advocates quiet agnosticism.

            However, Kant also says in the CPR that he saw fit to limit reason in order to make room for faith. In order to discover the rational faith that Kant is talking about here you have to look at his moral philosophy in the Critique of Practical Reason and The Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals. In these texts he explicitly says that reason raises us up above nature, and that it has a higher and more noble purpose than our survival or happiness – namely, it issues commands that have as their objective making us moral.

            I agree with you that Kant’s ethic is a version of moral objectivism, but I do not think it is at all consistent with an atheistic and materialistic view. For the materialist, reason is inevitably reduced to an instinct and as Darwin has taught us, all successful instincts will improve our survivability. In his discussion on these points Kant explicitly states that reason has a higher purpose than our survival because instinct does a much better job at ensuring our survival and we find no organ for any purpose except that which is best adapted for that purpose. Hence, since reason is not well adapted to ensure our survival, it must have another purpose entirely. Given a materialistic outlook it is difficult to see how any more robust purpose than survival can emerge, which means no true moral objectivism – which must aim at moral goodness as a higher value than survival.

            What is more, Kant himself thinks that his morality only makes sense if one postulates the existence of God as a rational faith. This is because his morality forces us to aim so wide of our own happiness that it is only psychologically possible if we believe that at some point happiness will be distributed according to moral goodness. The practical postulate of God’s existence is what allows us to hope that this is true and act accordingly, which also gives us hope that our moral lives will not be utterly miserable. Kant has to build this sort of assurance into his ethic because it does not aim at survival or happiness, and for this very reason many people find Kant’s ethic counter-intuitive, especially if they are at all inclined towards egoism.

            All this is simply to ask, who can you really point to as advocating a materialistic version of moral objectivism?

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            Atheism, in denying any transcendent dimension (the sacred dimension) must necessarily embrace nihilism.

            Atheism is nothing more than not believing in deities. It requires no disbelief in transcendence, nor intrinsic value, nor objective meaning, nor objective morality, nor whatever you think “nihilism” entails. Just deities.

            You apparently mean something different from “transcendent” than I do, however. To me, math is transcendent. Numbers are transcendent. Logic is transcendent. There are plenty of transcendent things in my worldview.

            I propose to poll 20 members at the next meetup on whether they are Marxists, and I’ll bet you $20 not a single one professes to be one. Because I’m capitalist enough to scheme to profit off your prejudice.

            Don’t take it so personally Robin. You might be a moral atheist for all I know. If your outrage is at all authentic you probably are.

            Huh? No, your statement “all atheists are Marxists” was too divorced from reality to take personally. That’s not outrage, that’s me teasing you. So you won’t take my bet?

            But you clearly don’t understand atheism in any comprehensive way.

            Sure I do. It’s very simple:

            Theists claim, “There is a god.“
            Atheists respond, “I don’t believe you.”

            That’s all. Nothing else. Yet as simple as atheism is, you keep getting it wrong.

            This is how daft you sound:

            Hans: Atheists have to believe this, and atheists have to believe that.
            Matt: I don’t believe either of those things.
            Hans: Oh, I don’t mean you, you’re not like other atheists.

            Hans: Atheists have to believe this, and atheists have to believe that.
            Robin: I don’t believe either of those things.
            Hans: Well, you don’t understand atheism.

            You know who actually knows what atheists believe? Atheists.

            So stop building straw atheists to argue with, and argue with positions and beliefs I do have.

            That’s when we get into the great social engineering projects like the Final Solution (racial Social Darwinism), Five Year Plans, and other delusions.

            The Final Solution to rid the world of those Christ-killing Jews, you’re still trying to blame that on atheism. That’s nonsense.

            I don’t think Stalin’s Five Year Plans to use prison labor to build railroads, canals, dams, factories, and coal mines lend any support to your point.

            Have you ever studied Nietzsche?

            Oh my, its clear you know nothing about Nietzsche. He prophesied it all Robin. He championed the destruction in fact, thought it was necessary.

            I haven’t read Neitzsche. Wikipedia says he thought the death of God eventually leads to a loss of universal perspective and an end of a sense of objective truth.

            That’s upside‐down and backwards: the pursuit of objective truth leads to atheism.

            It also clear you really have no idea what happened in the last century, either. You’ve got to start reading Robin.

            Right back at you.

            Ever hear of Anthony Flew?

            I heard he was an atheist author who went a bit senile and converted to deism. Never read him.

            There cannot be such a thing as “objective moral standards” in the materialist vision. That simply cannot exist.

            Why not? Nothing about the idea that reality is comprised only of matter (and energy) precludes basing your moral standards on objective criteria.

            All that exists in a materialist universe is a will to power.

            In the beginning of this universe, shortly after the Big Bang, all that existed were matter and energy. There were no conscious beings to will anything.

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            T. Nathaniel writes, in 1.1.1.1.2:

            It is impossible to assert that Kant is a materialist. If his morality is the one that you produce as being objective but nonetheless materialist, you are mistaken.

            I did not assert anything like that. I said that I am a materialist, and that Kant’s categorical imperative was an example of an objective moral standard.

            I agree with you that Kant’s ethic is a version of moral objectivism, but I do not think it is at all consistent with an atheistic and materialistic view.

            How so? Where are they incompatible?

            In his discussion on these points Kant explicitly states that reason has a higher purpose than our survival because instinct does a much better job at ensuring our survival and we find no organ for any purpose except that which is best adapted for that purpose.

            One need not accept Kant’s opinions about reason to adopt his categorical imperative as one’s moral standard.

            What is more, Kant himself thinks that his morality only makes sense if one postulates the existence of God as a rational faith.

            He’s wrong about that. You can accept it on purely rational grounds, with no faith at all.

            All this is simply to ask, who can you really point to as advocating a materialistic version of moral objectivism?

            Alonzo Fyfe, for one.

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            T. Nathaniel says:

            Robin,

            It seems daft to say that you know Kant’s moral theory better than he does. If you think therefore that one can accept Kant’s Categorical Imperative without any of the context that gives it meaning, I think that it is prudent to ask whether what you accept is really the Categorical Imperative at all.

            What is more, your reasons for accepting the Categorical Imperative tell us everything about the moral theory that you espouse as an atheist, and it will be difficult for you to be a moral objectivist (I am not saying impossible, because I do not know enough to warrant this stronger claim).

            Do you accept the Categorical Imperative on the basis of your own choice alone? Then you are a subjectivist.

            Do you accept the Categorical Imperative on the basis of the choices of your society or culture? Then you are a conventionalist.

            Do you accept the Categorical Imperative because the agreeement to something like it is necessary to keep us from killing and harming one another and you want to survive? Then you are a social contract theorist in the tradition of Hobbes.

            Do you accept it because it is a good rule to use in considering which rules are productive of the best consequences? Then you are a rule consequentialist much like Mill.

            If you do not accept the rest of Kant’s philosophy then you cannot accept the Categorical Imperative for the reasons that he argues we should – namely, because it is a command of reason whether we choose to believe that it is or not. What we must then do is trace the geneology of your acceptance of the Categorical imperative to discover what sort of ethical theory you really espouse. While the Categorical Imperative in its native context may constitute a morally objective standard, it is not clear that when it is transplanted this must be the case.

            Only the last of the options above is a truly morally objectivistic theory, which we can identify as such because its fundamental principles cannot be reduced to a hypothetical imperative. The utilitarian says unequivocally that our duty is to maximize pleasure, even when this means that we ourselves suffer (Russell himself wonders how such a theory is consistent with Bentham’s egoism).

            The atheist ethicist that you point to is in fact a utilitarian. Now, we could have a discussion about the relative merits of utilitarianism and whether this theory makes sense from an atheistic point of view (utilitarians have a notoriously difficult time giving an adequate account of justice for instance since pleasure is a very jealous foundational value), but you seem to be more interested in short and polemical exchanges. I recommend that you spend much more on Fyfe’s blog since it seems like he is engaged in much more nuanced inquiry – especially when he acknowledges that many atheists do not adequately answer the question of moral motivation when they give their crass biological accounts.

            If you would like to discuss these things further, with more honesty and less polemic you can reach me at toddtrembley at hotmail dot com.

            Peace.

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    Eliot Ryan says:

    The Source of Human Morality Debate PART 01
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dkMAJai5D3c

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      Chris says:

      SO what>? Are the rest of the links broken? Just one? :)

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        Eliot Ryan says:

        Yeah …. Watch the first 4 minutes: the rules and notice the large attendance. The remaining 10 minute are used by Matt Dillahunty . I do not need to watch this part. I’ve been listening to lies and atheist propaganda for 25 years.

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          The remaining 10 minute are used by Matt Dillahunty . I do not need to watch this part. I’ve been listening to lies and atheist propaganda for 25 years.

          Seems like you decided from the very beginning to listen to only one side, Eliot. I’ll keep that in mind when reading your uninformed assessment of this debate.

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            Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

            Careful Robin. I know Eliot’s history. He has much more experience with atheism than you, living in America, will ever see. Your experience amounts to a thimble, his an ocean.

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            Eliot Ryan says:

            Robin: I know that “belief” is not something you can turn on and off. I’ve been utterly indifferent toward religion for a long time. Now I believe in Christ because the evidence convinced my mind.

            You strongly suspect that God doesn’t exist. As a believer “I have everything to gain, and nothing to lose” (Pascal’s pragmatism or Pascal’s wager) but this is not reason for may faith. The unbeliever has everything to lose. So, for your own good make sure that you are well informed because there’s just too much at stake. Wishing you all the best …

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            2.1.1.1.1:

            Your experience amounts to a thimble, his an ocean.

            2.1.1.1.2:

            As a believer “I have everything to gain, and nothing to lose” (Pascal’s pragmatism or Pascal’s wager) but this is not reason for may faith. The unbeliever has everything to lose.

            Pascal’s wager? So far, his arguments are shallow as a puddle.

            If you’re impressed by Pascal’s wager, Eliot, have you not considered the consequences of believing in the wrong god? What if you’re avoiding the wrong hell? The Qu’ran says Jews and Christians go to Islamic hell. If chances are better that Jesus will forgive you for being a Muslim, than that Allah will forgive you for being a Christian, then odds favor being a Muslim over being a Christian.

            There’s even a tiny but nonzero chance I’m the one true god, and will grant you an afterlife of eternal bliss for the low, low price of $20. You can’t rule out the possibility that for admission into the real heaven, you don’t need faith, you just need cash. The wise bet is to pay up, right? What’s $20 next to eternity? (I take PayPal.)

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    Chris says:
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    Viewing the first video right now…

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    Eliot Ryan says:
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    Chris says:

    Father Hans said something about Hitler that got the Atheists upset. :)

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    Harry Coin says:

    Ruminating after hearing parts II/III. I wonder whether the possibility of, broadly phrased, any concept including or presupposing ‘the universal brotherhood of man’ can have meaning within any framework including atheism.

    Leaving aside the project of what ‘brotherhood’ might mean in the variety of athiest understandings, the atheist needs must agree about some measurable boundary defining who qualifies as man. Thus and such a percent of DNA variability off some agreed ‘standard’ perhaps, but including thus and such a basket of required components? Perhaps self awareness above thus and such a score on an assessment of same? Perhaps the ability over time to attain the foregoing, or possibly being born of one who had the foregoing?

    All assessments of the fitness of such attempts, for an atheist, needs must be in the service of an agenda, the morality of which, oroborus fashion, looks to the presupposition of some fraction of the foregoing, which is yet seeking support.

    One thing I hope those who find themselves supporting atheism explore is the strong conviction within philosophical cirlces in universities and so on is the horrific outcomes arising from the dubious applications of philosophical theories in particular and the very difficult project agreement on any central topic in philsophy has been to date.

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    Chris says:

    The uploading of the rest of these clips is going very slowly. But, I’ve seen enough to have some comments.

    1.) I think that it is important, within the context of this type of debate for people to have a familiarity with Orthodoxy. Most of the counter arguments are based upon either what they experienced in their protestant or non-denominational Christian sect. Perhaps things that even we as Christians may agree to be very irrational or beyond explanation. In not defining Orthodoxy we allow them to define us as only, “Theists.”

    2.) Atheists like to be clear in defining the difference between science and a phenomenon like Social Darwinism, evolution, or Eugenics – but they don’t like to differentiate between religion and faith. We need to do this for them.

    3.) I’m surprised that Father Hans hasn’t yet (I’ve only gotten to the 5th clip) mentioned the “nous” mind-heart “dichotomy” and how perhaps our ability to rationalize isn’t the best method to obtain Truth.

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    Eliot Ryan says:
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    Eliot Ryan says:

    The fact that Matt was raised as a fundamentalist Baptist and became an atheist does not surprise me. The apostasy from the Orthodox Faith lead to many errors and horrors: Inquisition, Marxism, fascism, atheism and concentration camps.

    Fr. Hans made very valid points. Man is not the measure of all things, neither is reason the source of the Truth. Reason is only an imperfect receptacle for truth.

    Rationalists hold the prideful idea that the fallen and sinful man can still reason aright. The demons are prideful and seize the prideful

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      Harry Coin says:

      Eliot, lest we get too triumphalistic it’s important to recall that the world has countries in which Orthodoxy was faith of most folk — who did war against one another.

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    James the Thickheaded says:

    Haven’t seen all the parts yet, but very pleased with what I have seen. Eliot’s comment is on the mark and reminds me of Metropolitan Anthony’s “God and Man”. In that there is an exchange between the Met. and Laski (the atheist):

    Bloom asks, “What do you think of the people who are sure that there is an otherness which they call God, how do you take into account their experience or what they assert? Do you think that all of them were completely mistaken in the judgment or hallucinated?“

    Laski responds, “You lead me to the besetting sin of the atheist which is arrogance, so I think I have to say I don’t know.“

    I still appreciate Laski’s honesty and preference for modesty. Fr. Hans strikes me as similarly (and cautiously) modest and circumspect in his assertions. As these debates can all too easily head towards the bombastic, it seems a better witness to avoid the same besetting sins Laski sought to avoid.

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    Harry Coin says:

    Fr. H: The bit in part 4 where you upheld the beauty percieved in music as a category entirely different than anything capable of being measured about its production really said something important yet got no good answer. All agree there is something beautiful in some music and at a the same time can say science and measurements have nothing that bears upon it.

    The atheist points to morality arising from reason needs to address something they admit ‘is’ yet about which their toolkit is silent.

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      Chris says:

      Part VI is up
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9j3LCKUBetg

      I think following some of the youtube commentary and the nice virtual church er uh, virtual social networking group the atheists have set up for themselves there you’ll be please to see that the beauty of music example Father Hans talked about (along with pretty much every thing else) was met with the argument, “He’s delusional” –

      In conclusion, I am beginning to think that the theory that Atheists can be moral to be false, let alone something outlandish like morality stemming from reason. They want “hard facts” take a gander at the youtube culture they’ve so nicely set out for the world to see. Forgive me, this may in fact be a judgement call on my end.

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        Harry Coin says:

        Chris, what I picked up on from the crowd: Many atheists so call themselves because they don’t feel it proper to subordinate themselves to a person or authority structure whose claim to authority over them stems not just from an appreciation for that about which reason is silent — but their authority trumps what reason repeatably demonstrates.

        That is, they feel ‘not atheism’ includes denying inconvenient bits of repeatable demonstrable reason and so leads down the path of cult membership.

        I think it would disarm many, many who are considering atheism if it was clear that there is a theistic system which accepted all that can reason can repeatably demonstrate, which carried that project forward into relationship with that about which people recognize exists but about which reason is silent, and that provided guidance about living that centuries later developed reason found supportable.

        Fr. Hans did much along those lines during the bits about non literal ‘typeology’ in the meanings of ‘adam’ and ‘eves’ names in the pre-science ages.

        Amusing, atheist disclaiming without scruple the misdoings of atheiests in history as unrelated to the validity of atheism, while holding others to account for their misdoings. When you don’t have a star to steer by, and you don’t feel the need to even steer by your own wake, then you certainly are safe from ever being wrong since wrong doesn’t mean anything!

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          Chris says:

          Harry,

          I catch your drift, albeit much of this is over my head. I do seem to find it interesting that while they denounce “dogma and authority” their stance and process of “reasoning” seems to be more dogmatic than even Orthodoxy. And, in following some of the messages on Youtube, they seem to view Matt Dillahunty as an “authority” on their viewpoint, rock starish. And yes, they simultaneously seem to want their own view to be authoritative. How much this is part of these kids’ growing up process at this stage of their lives I guess we’ll find out.

          I am also interested to see how these “seeds” end up.

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            Harry Coin says:

            Chris,

            I also notice there appears to be a search for authority among the atheists, choosing a leader and then, as history hints, they find themselves as caught as they would have been if a theistic guru held them in thrall.

            I found Fr. Hans identification of various sorts and modes among the attitudes of atheistic people interesting.

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    Michael Bauman says:

    Atheists can act in moral ways because of a self-limiting code which they adopt, but there is no rational, anthropological or cosmological basis for their morality. They cannot, therefore, be moral people or build anything approaching a cultural morality other than some form of social darwinism.

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      Harry Coin says:

      Michael, I think one of Fr. Hans point’s is that ‘athiests’ could indeed attain a cultural morality more in spite of their tenets than because of them. As nothing is ‘closed’ to an athiest such sense and reasons as they intuit that are beyond what can be measured might land them in a good spot. Not so likely but possible. This as a distinction from ‘atheism’ which really can’t lead anywhere because something that starts off with ‘not-X’ doesn’t establish anything by which to steer.

      The theist has a name and a reason for it and is more likely to get there, if they pay attention.

      I have a great deal of fun comparing this and the mathematical construct ‘the square root of negative one’. A thing which cannot itself exist nor can be seen, but only described, and about which an enormous roster of breathtakingly consistent and physically applicable mathematics has come.

      Here at the heart of math two steps beyond counting on the fingers we have a thing which we can only describe but not see and upon which a great deal of truth and science is described. Talk about a precedent of interest outside its own world.

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        Eliot Ryan says:

        Harry:

        Here at the heart of math two steps beyond counting on the fingers we have a thing which we can only describe but not see and upon which a great deal of truth and science is described.

        Science uncovers nature’s secrets, its laws. It does not dictate how the nature works. We can build two, or more theories to describe the same physical reality. What mostly matters when building a theory is the simplicity of the equations.
        Imaginary numbers do not exist in the real world. They are abstractions used to get the right answers to problems and to simplify the math whenever periodic wave phenomena (electricity, electromagnetism, quantum physics, wave physics, oscillating systems, etc) are considered. All physics theories are mathematical constructs, abstractions used to arrive to the right answers or to describe what we observe.

        One’s mind cannot ever be a mere reflection of matter.
        I wonder how the atheist/evolutionist explain this abstraction ability specific only to humans beings. Also, humans, as far as we know, are the only species to possess religious beliefs.

        The Four Laws by which Christ will Judge the World–By Elder Cleopa

        Not one in a billion was uncovered from nature’s secrets. As God’s wisdom does not have any boundaries, neither will it have one onto the ages of ages, since limitless is the Creator’s wisdom, indeed.

        So the second law that stands before us all is the Law of Creations or of creation. So that by the natural and spiritual contemplation, we can climb from the reasons of things, to their Creator. If you see a ship, you think that there must be a craftsman who made it; if you see a good coat on a man, you must know that the tailor was good, too. If you see a palace or a building with beautiful architecture, you should know that there was a smart architect behind it. If you see a good clock, it was undoubtedly made by a good clock-maker.

        So all of this shows us that there is a Maker and if that is the case, then we should “fear” and obey Him, so that He does not punish us according to His justice.

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          Eliot:

          Imaginary numbers do not exist in the real world. They are abstractions used to get the right answers to problems and to simplify the math whenever periodic wave phenomena (electricity, electromagnetism, quantum physics, wave physics, oscillating systems, etc) are considered.

          You could also say zero does not exist in the real world. All numbers are abstractions with no physical existence. But indeed, complex numbers have many real world applications.

          I wonder how the atheist/evolutionist explain this abstraction ability specific only to humans beings.

          It’s not specific to humans. Gorillas can learn sign language and dolphins can do math.

          Also, humans, as far as we know, are the only species to possess religious beliefs.

          That is true. We are very imaginative creatures.

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    Eliot Ryan says:

    It looks like Matt has a small crowd commenting on these videos.
    It is obvious that they never heard about saints and the grace they possessed.
    The rationalist can search in vain to find the physical methods used by the saints when performing their many wonders: they could understand the heart and read the thoughts of a person they had just met for the first time; they will call him by his name; they would answer on what troubled him, without waiting for the visitor to ask.
    To those coming to thank them for the miracle, they answered: “It is not me, but Christ Who made it happened. Give thanks to the Lord.”

    I am saddened by their tasteless comments and arguments showing how poor and ignorant they are. There are always people like that …
    “We Should Tell the Truth, Come What May”

    Once, a peasant swore at some people who were going to Fr. Arsenie – and the moment he did that, his mouth got wry in a funny way and stayed like that. He was no longer able to open it – not even for as much as a glass of water. The people took him to the monastery and when the Father approached the cart in which this unfortunate fellow was, he asked him: “Hey, man, what has that guy, Arsenie, done to you? Come on, open your mouth and tell me!” And the man was instantly able to open his mouth and speak, then he fell to his knees and started crying and saying how sorry he was for the things he had said.

    Such people will accept the false miracles of the Deceiver, and persecute those who won’t.. .. Lord have mercy on us!

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      Chris says:

      I think this follows Fr. Hans’s statement that you can find more truth in Fiction than Non-Fiction. How can one “rationally” explain the events, healings, miracles of Father Arsenie? Of Our Lord? You cannot.

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    Chris says:
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    Chris says:

    Just picked up their twitter post -

    The Acton Institute has picked up on the debate:
    http://blog.acton.org/archives/20144-debate-the-source-of-human-morality.html

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    Eliot Ryan says:

    Fr. Hans:

    In historical terms, that testimony of the twelve men known as the Apostles and then in the lives of others was so powerful it that became the foundation of an entire new civilization.

    Even more impressive is the fact that Christianity emerged as a dominant religion after three centuries of persecution by the pagan majority and their rulers. Christians endured:

    mockery, scourging, even chains and imprisonment.
    They were stoned, sawed in two, put to death at sword’s point;
    they went about in skins of sheep or goats, needy, afflicted, tormented.
    The world was not worthy of them. They wandered about in deserts and on mountains, in caves and in crevices in the earth. Hebrew 11:37,38.

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      Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

      Absolutely Eliot. And then think, when recalling this witness of enduring faith, how anemic our faith is in so many ways. St. Paul says, “Gird up the loins of your mind,” and he cites those you quoted above as the standard-bearers of those with faith in Christ.

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        Eliot Ryan says:

        Even more impressive is the fact that two thousand years later New Martryrs and Confessors still proclaim that man is a spiritual being with an immortal soul and destiny. Communism strived to destroy everyone who proclaimed the Kingdom of Christ and opposed its materialist doctrines.

        Christians were arrested deep at night and taken away in secret, slandered and blamed for criminal and political offenses. They were interrogated, humiliated, tortured and killed without trial and investigation. Their embarrassment, dishonor, pain or death brings greater honor and glory to Christ.
        ‘The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church’ (St Cyprian of Carthage).
        Since 1991 some four Russian Orthodox churches have opened every day and approximately one monastery or convent every ten days and some more in other former Communist countries.

        Why such hatred toward those who follow Christ? How many Christians have to die before the world takes notice? How can anyone claim to be moral and just while ignoring this reality?

        Justice is conscience, not a personal conscience but the conscience of the whole of humanity. Those who clearly recognize the voice of their own conscience usually recognize also the voice of justice.– Alexander Solzhenitsyn

        This hatred is the hatred of the devil and his spiritual children.
        Elder Cleopa:

        Do you know why they have such hatred and envy against people? Because the souls of the righteous are completing their numbers – the numbers of the fallen angels. This is as long as God will keep this world – as St. Symeon the New Theologian shows – until the numbers of the fallen angels shall be completed by the souls of the righteous. Don’t you guys read the Psalm book?

        Until the numbers of the fallen angels are completed – because there were very many of them, one third of all the angels, as the Revelation says: I have seen a large, red, devil that took down with its tail the third part of the heaven’s stars and threw them to the ground.

        A third of the angels fell from all the Hosts, including from among the Cherubim and the Seraphim – all the angels who entertained Satan’s thought to become like God. And that is why the devils have such hatred against us, because they know that if it goes to Heaven, each soul will accomplish what the Scripture says: they will all be like God’s angels; they will replace them and take over their functions.

        Which is why they sit in the air and say: “There, God threw us down from the sky, but these souls down here want to pass through to God and take our places!” So then God allows the devils to stand in the souls’ way and rightfully so, because God is not only merciful, but also just and has made these stations – or toll-houses – between heaven and earth in order to cast the souls of those who died unconfessed and who carry heavy sins, into hell.

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    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    Robin writes:

    That’s upside‐down and backwards: the pursuit of objective truth leads to atheism.

    There’s the nub. If the “pursuit of objective truth leads to atheism,” then the “objective truth” is that all that exists is matter. That’s the inevitable end. It can’t be any other way. And that conclusion, believe it or not, functions not as a point of fact, but as an article of faith.

    There cannot be such a thing as “objective moral standards” in the materialist vision. That simply cannot exist.

    Why not? Nothing about the idea that reality is comprised only of matter (and energy) precludes basing your moral standards on objective criteria.

    Because if matter is all that objectivly exists, then morals have to arise from matter itself. In atheist philosophy anything non-material fits into the realm of the “ideal.” The “ideal” however, has no independent, objective existence. It arises from the material. Ideas, sentiments, morals, etc. all inhabit this realm of the “ideal.”

    Thus morals really are nothing more than subjective impressions of right and wrong. Good and evil become relative. Atheism, properly defined and understood does not allow for “basing your moral standards on objective criteria”.

    Read the atheists more and listen less to your friends. If they are telling you that morality can have an objective existence then they are really functioning as cultural Christians, albeit without any reference to God. (Living in a culture shaped by Christian morality gives them that luxury.)

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      If the “pursuit of objective truth leads to atheism,” then the “objective truth” is that all that exists is matter.

      Not to oversimplify: Matter, energy, and spacetime.

      I should elaborate: our best method to pursue objective truth is empiricism, and empiricism leads to atheism. Follow?

      And that conclusion, believe it or not, functions not as a point of fact, but as an article of faith.

      No, as a provisional conclusion based on the best available evidence.

      Because if matter is all that objectivly exists, then morals have to arise from matter itself.

      Yes, morals arise from that gray matter between your ears.

      The “ideal” however, has no independent, objective existence. It arises from the material. Ideas, sentiments, morals, etc. all inhabit this realm of the “ideal.”

      Calling it a “realm of the ideal” makes it sound like we’re talking about Platonic forms. “realm of concepts”? “ideaspace”?

      Good and evil become relative.

      They always were.

      Atheism, properly defined and understood does not allow for “basing your moral standards on objective criteria”.

      Wrong. There you go again.

      First, you drew that erroneous conclusion from materialism, not atheism.

      Second, both materialism and atheism allow for basing your moral standards on any criteria at all, objective or otherwise.

      If they are telling you that morality can have an objective existence…

      Morality is entirely conceptual.

      You seem to be confusing “objective existence” with “objective criteria”.

      Living in a culture shaped by Christian morality gives them that luxury.

      Not me, I live in America, a far more egalitarian and free culture. We don’t even keep slaves or burn witches any more.

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        T. Nathaniel says:

        Robin,

        You say that empiricism leads to atheism. I think that the Western philosophical tradition does not bear this out. Empiricism leads to either idealism (Berkeley) or skepticism (Hume). Berkeley is obviously a theist since he thinks that everything we experience is caused by the ongoing thought of God who keeps the entire world in existence as so many thoughts within His mind. Hume on the other hand is not so clearly an atheist, although his religious ideas are certainly unorthodox. Skepticism does not allow one to state much of anything as a strong knowledge claim, so one becomes an agnostic on most things, including the existence of God. However, most current atheists lack the humility and rigour of Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion.

        To be a materialist is to affirm the existence of something, matter, for which we lack any empirical evidence. Locke himself says that the idea of matter or substance is nothing but a supposition of something, we know not what, that unites within itself all of the qualities that we do experience. But our idea of this underlying stuff that possesses all of the qualities that we experience and that underlies our experience of any qualities at all is never itself experienced. As a consistant empiricist you should dispense with this notion entirely or admit it for the fiction that it is. What you cannot do is claim to be a materialist in any strong sense. So on what basis do you accept the existence of matter?

        Perhaps however you are a radical empiricist and have given up on any sort of metaphysic whatever – the truth is nothing but the useful, and paying close attention to the things that we experience is the surest way to accomplish our goals and projects and to construct comfortable lives for ourselves. This is pragmatism and amounts to a reaction against the traditional pursuit of truth for truth’s sake. Here truth is measured by nothing more than what is useful to us. I doubt that you think of your own epistemological views on pragmatist terms since you seem to be claiming something more than that the thesis that God exists is not useful, instead you seem to be saying that it is literally false.

        I suggest that you pay closer attention to the things that you say. For instance, above you say in response to Fr. Hans that good and evil always were relative, while having previously claimed that you are a moral objectivist. These two claims are incompatible. It is tantamount to saying, “I am a moral relativist and I am a moral objectivist,” or “There are no objective moral standards and there are objective moral standards.” To seriously say this is to reject the principle of non-contradiction on which all of Western logic is based, so there really is not much more to say or any point to saying it.

        What is it that you are really saying? What is your position? Please state it plainly and without the flourishes of rhetoric that obscure what you really mean and then we can investigate the possibility of an atheistic and materialistic moral objectivism.

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          Exactly, empricism leads to being skeptical of the proposition that a deity or deities exist. If you don’t have a belief that a deity or deities exist, you are an atheist. Hence, empiricism leads to atheism.

          But our idea of this underlying stuff that possesses all of the qualities that we experience and that underlies our experience of any qualities at all is never itself experienced. As a consistant empiricist you should dispense with this notion entirely or admit it for the fiction that it is…. So on what basis do you accept the existence of matter?

          Good question. Yes, we cannot be absolutely certain our experience of matter reflects actual matter. This could all be a lotus dream. We could be living in the Matrix.

          I hold only one belief on pragmatic grounds: the physical world is real (until proven otherwise!). Without that, all is pointless solipsism.

          None of us perceive reality directly, but only through the filter of our senses. Our brains process those sense impressions and build a virtual model of the world outside. It’s not 100% reliable; our mental models can be wrong. Reality is the way things really are, independent of what any mind thinks.

          For instance, above you say in response to Fr. Hans that good and evil always were relative, while having previously claimed that you are a moral objectivist. These two claims are incompatible.

          You and Fr. Hans both confuse subjective/objective with relative/absolute. Relative does not equal subjective. One can consistently have morals that are both objective and relative.

          What is it that you are really saying? What is your position?

          See, Hans, isn’t asking better than making up what you think my position is?

          My overall position is that one can arrive at moral principles through reason alone, without any magical beings giving them to us, or authority figures telling us how to behave, or fear of punishment either corporeal or metaphysical.

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            T. Nathaniel says:

            Subjectivism as an ethical theory is a version of moral relativism, so your attempt to divorce subjective from relative is at least prima facie suspect. What is more, moral objectivism requires moral principles and their accompanying views of good and evil which are universal. While you are right to say that objectivism does not entail absolutism, it seems difficult to maintain that values are relative and yet universal. This seems like a blatant contradiction to me. Perhaps you would like to define moral objectivism such that it is in keeping with relativism?

            Even Utilitarianism, which Fyfe, your champion of atheistic ethics draws upon, is a form of moral absolutism. Absolutism is by definition a form of moral objectivism. If you clearly identified yourself with him your position would make more sense, although you would still have to do some work in explaining the motive to be moral.

            I would argue that your insistence on reason alone here is largely rhetorical. It is a rare atheist who can deny any sort of rational principle at work in the universe and nonetheless assert that reason is normative for human behavior. Hume makes much more sense here when he asserts that reason is a slave of the passions – it can tell us how to get what we want, but never what to want. Thus, the basis of ethics for Hume is feelings and instincts, which makes much more sense from an atheistic point of view than reason. I think that you have not traced your ethic back to its origin. When you do, you will find that it is something other than reason.

            What is more, the ethic that you rightly criticize among the religious is the divine command theory. What you ought to be engaging if you want to deal with the best that religious thinkers articulate is natural law theory. Here it makes sense to trust the dictates of reason and the commands that it issues because these are the laws that govern the entire cosmos. Reason pervades all things and when we govern our own behavior in keeping with reasons laws we are in harmony with the universe – or as the ancients say, the microcosm, which are human beings mirror and match up with the macrocosm. What story can you tell as an atheist that can ground reason’s ability to issue commands and thus ground an ethic? Here it would be nice if you would respond in depth and not with quick snippets. These are serious subjects after all.

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            In 18.1.1.1.1, T. Nathaniel writes:

            What is more, moral objectivism requires moral principles and their accompanying views of good and evil which are universal.

            No, it doesn’t. I’ve already given a counterexample: The categorical imperative does not require universal views of good and evil.

            While you are right to say that objectivism does not entail absolutism, it seems difficult to maintain that values are relative and yet universal. This seems like a blatant contradiction to me. Perhaps you would like to define moral objectivism such that it is in keeping with relativism?

            Height is objective and universal, but that doesn’t mean everyone is the same height. Alice may be taller than Bob. Height is relative.

            If I say Alice is taller than Bob, that is either true or false. The objective truth of that statement is relative: It may be absolutely false in January and absolutely true in September. Its truth depends on circumstances.

            Values are relative, since we value different things. A statement about values, like “I prefer chocolate ice cream”, is true or false. The objective truth of that statement is relative: it may be absolutely true on Monday and absolutely false on Friday. (Maybe after eating chocolate all week, I got sick of it.) Its truth depends on circumstances.

            Let’s apply this to the categorical imperative. (For readers who don’t know, the categorical imperative is, as Kant put it, “Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law.”) For any maxim you evaluate, it is either true or false that this maxim fulfills the categorical imperative. That objective truth, however, is relative. What you would will to become a universal law may not be what I would will to become a universal law. Thus, the categorical imperative is simultaneously objective and relative.

            Even Utilitarianism, which Fyfe, your champion of atheistic ethics draws upon, is a form of moral absolutism.

            Fyfe is a champion of desire utilitarianism, not Utilitarianism per se. Desire utilitarianism evaluates desires relative to all other desires that exist. Would you call that moral absolutism?

            It is a rare atheist who can deny any sort of rational principle at work in the universe and nonetheless assert that reason is normative for human behavior.

            There seems to be no rational principle at work in the universe as a whole, only in those rational beings who are part of it.

            Thus, the basis of ethics for Hume is feelings and instincts, which makes much more sense from an atheistic point of view than reason.

            Our innate urge to be social is a foundation for empathy and for moral behavior.

            What is more, the ethic that you rightly criticize among the religious is the divine command theory.

            When did I criticize divine command theory? Well, for once you’ve attributed a position to me that I actually would take.

            What you ought to be engaging if you want to deal with the best that religious thinkers articulate is natural law theory.

            What I ought to engage is whatever who I’m talking to adheres to, best, worst, or in between. However, it’s a lot more enjoyable to talk to someone who is interested in philosophy and ethics, like you.

            Here it makes sense to trust the dictates of reason and the commands that it issues because these are the laws that govern the entire cosmos. Reason pervades all things and when we govern our own behavior in keeping with reasons laws we are in harmony with the universe – or as the ancients say, the microcosm, which are human beings mirror and match up with the macrocosm.

            A pretty idea, but our laws of physics are only products of reason in the sense that we applied our reason to describe how matter interacts. They are not like traffic laws, legislated and enforced; they are properties of the universe.

            What story can you tell as an atheist that can ground reason’s ability to issue commands and thus ground an ethic?

            I’m not sure I understand the question. Weighing one thing against another is a rational act. Why wouldn’t reason lead to values?

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          T. Nathaniel says:

          Robin,

          Your understanding of the categorical imperative is wholly inadequate. It is simply not the case that anything can be willed universally depending on who is doing the willing. Reason oversees the application of the categorical imperative in order to determine when a contradiction occurs with a universalized maxim. If a contradiction occurs, then the action is immoral.

          Your use of the categorical imperative, that each person wills whatever they choose to be universal without paying any attention to rational contradictions in maxims is more in keeping with Sartre’s notion of universality. This is not at all surprising given the fact that you have also stated that an atheist can choose whatever morality they want. If this is true, then you must admit that moral objectivism is false. What moral objectivism states is that there are valid moral principles and values which exist independent of human choices whether individual or collective. The way that you talk about choice here is not in keeping with objectivism. The most you can hope for with your approach is some sort of intersubjectivism, which is precisely where Sartre ends up rather than any sort of objectivism. Once you say that values are relative you bar yourself from being an objectivist. If you doubt my use of these terms please ask Fyfe – I am sure that he will set you straight.

          Utilitarianism is a form of moral absolutism because it has an objective and non-overidable ethical principle: maximize the good! In any situation we can judge whether someone is ethical or not by whether they have in fact maximized the good. What separates the different versions of utilitarianism is what they define the good to include, but for all versions the good is some value that is objective and beyond the fickleness of human choice. Fyfe thinks that you are moral when your actions maximize desire fulfillment, I am assuming that this would apply not only to the individual but to everyone: act in such a way that your action maximizes aggregate desire fulfillment. A desire fulfilled is objectively and universally good, while an unfulfilled desire is objectively and universally bad. I cannot will for something to be good other than desire fulfillment, this is simply and objectively what the good is according to this ethical theory.

          Weighing one thing against another is indeed a mental act, but this does not mean it is a rational act, for we can hold each thing up to examination in order to determine which one we prefer on other than rational grounds and in accordance with our passions, emotions, desires, etc. If you deny any inherent rationality in the universe, why the constant appeal to rationality as something that we should attempt to be. Here Fr. Hans and others are correct, if the the universe is irrational then Nietzsche’s own irrational philosophy seems like a fitting response. This is again why I say that your appeal to reason is rhetorical and nothing more. You lack a view that gives reason the dignity that makes an appeal to reason compelling. If reason is nothing but an instinct as many atheists claim, then why waste so much time discussing this with us. Simply acknowledge that our instincts are not working as well as yours, that that is too bad for us, and move on.

          What you need is more clarity in discussing moral concepts and more awareness of basic philosophies and terms. I think your time would better be spent studying these things than charging ahead and trying to win debates regarding things that you do not fully grasp yourself. If you only care about winning debates then, yes, all you need concern yourself with is what your opponent is arguing. But if you are honestly seeking the truth, it behooves you to engage with the best arguments that can be advanced for every position. To do anything less is to betray the insecurity with which you hold even those minimal beliefs that you do claim.

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            @Todd

            After looking into it some more, you’re correct that my understanding of the categorical imperative was inadequate. Kant rather lost me and I didn’t understand the CI as well as I thought I did. Perhaps it is not as deficient a moral standard as first I thought.

            If you deny any inherent rationality in the universe, why the constant appeal to rationality as something that we should attempt to be.

            I think the world would be a better place if everyone tried to be rational.

            Here Fr. Hans and others are correct, if the the universe is irrational then Nietzsche’s own irrational philosophy seems like a fitting response.

            Not familiar with Nietzsche’s philosophy, but I’m interested in being a rationalist, not an irrationalist.

            You lack a view that gives reason the dignity that makes an appeal to reason compelling.

            You want me to dignify reason to you? Seems a weird attitude for a philosopher.

            In my view, when it comes to assessing reality, reason is where it’s at! My life’s incomparably better for it. I highly recommend it. Five stars. 👍

            If reason is nothing but an instinct as many atheists claim, then why waste so much time discussing this with us.

            Why not?

            Simply acknowledge that our instincts are not working as well as yours, that that is too bad for us, and move on.

            Don’t be so hard on yourself, you seem like a reasonably intelligent guy to me.

            If you only care about winning debates then, yes, all you need concern yourself with is what your opponent is arguing. But if you are honestly seeking the truth, it behooves you to engage with the best arguments that can be advanced for every position.

            Well said. I agree.

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            Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

            T. Nathaniel,

            Let me express my gratitude for the clarity of your posts. I think we are all learning. I’m sure I speak for others here too.

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        Michael Bauman says:

        Robin, if you are simply a-theist (God does not exist) why all the foam and heat?

        How can thought lead to no thing? Don’t you end up in a denial of thought itself?

        While you are technically correct in your assertion that one need not be a materialist to be a-theist that is not at all a common understanding. Non-materialist, a-theists with whom I am familiar posit a non-personal pre-exisitent ground of being that is greater than matter from which matter decends as either illusion or particulation. Re-incarnation only makes sense from a perspective of a higher, non-human, non-personal ground of being.

        If you are positing re-incarnation as some sort of cosmic recycling conservation of matter/energy you have then reduced yourself to being a materialist.

        Ultimately the conversation is stuck in the secondary. A person assuming (and it is an assumption) Not God will arrive at different conclusions than those who assume God. Neither has to be illogical.

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          How can thought lead to no thing?

          There is no last letter of the alphabet in this sentence.

          If you are positing re-incarnation…

          Oh, I have no supernatural beliefs. That was an illustration that it is possible to be both an atheist and a supernaturalist, as some Buddhists are.

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            Michael Bauman says:

            But the point Robin is that there are at lesst two types of a-theism. Your posts continually try to confuse one with the other either out of a lack of clarity of your own beliefs or an attempt to create a red-herring. Either of which weakens your argument.

            Your type of a-theism demanads materialism. You are not really a-theistic so much as believer in self-organizing matter. You voluntarily restrict your thoughts and feelings to what you can taste, see, etc. and ascribe a volition to matter that it is impossible prove and, to me, illogical to assume.

            That your choice is based upon a belief which is unproveable makes it a matter of faith. The tenets of your faith then guide you into a self-oonstructed code of conduct which you label morality. So many questions which are unanswerable from within a materialistic framework.

            You place an arbitrary end to your thought and call that nothing, but as with math where there is always a +1, it can simply be stated …yet.

            Besides, there is plenty of data for the existence of the divine which you arbitrarily dismiss as data simply because it does not fit your pre-defined belief.

            Still, why all the fuss and feathers. Why not just write us off as delusional and go about your life?

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            But the point Robin is that there are at lesst two types of a-theism. Your posts continually try to confuse one with the other either out of a lack of clarity of your own beliefs or an attempt to create a red-herring.

            No, my definition in 1.1.1.1.3 was quite clear, the same one I’ve consistently used in 1.1.1.1, 18.1, and 18.1.1.1. If you have any confusion about what I meant, maybe you need to read more carefully. I’ve spelled it out several times. Once more, as plainly as I can put it:

            Atheism is nothing more than non‐belief in gods.

            Your type of a-theism demanads materialism.

            No, it doesn’t. Counterexample previously mentioned: atheistic Buddhists.

            Atheism demands no beliefs whatsoever.

            You are not really a-theistic so much as believer in self-organizing matter.

            Self-organizing matter is not a deity. Are you confused as to what a god is, too? This really isn’t that hard.

            You voluntarily restrict your thoughts and feelings to what you can taste, see, etc. and ascribe a volition to matter that it is impossible prove and, to me, illogical to assume.

            No, Hans ascribed a volition to matter in 1.1.1.1.1, I argued against that in 1.1.1.1.3. You really do need to read more carefully.

            That your choice is based upon a belief which is unproveable makes it a matter of faith. The tenets of your faith then guide you into a self-oonstructed code of conduct which you label morality.

            As a rule, I don’t take things on faith.

            “It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.” — “Clifford’s Credo”

            So many questions which are unanswerable from within a materialistic framework.

            Such as?

            You place an arbitrary end to your thought and call that nothing

            Quotes or it didn’t happen.

            Besides, there is plenty of data for the existence of the divine

            Great, let’s hear it. Mind, though: The plural of anecdote is not “data”.

            Why not just write us off as delusional and go about your life?

            Perhaps I respect you too much to write you off so quickly. I may plant some seeds of rationality yet.

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        Eliot Ryan says:

        Robin:

        Not to oversimplify: Matter, energy, and spacetime.

        You understand the universe as the entirety of spacetime, matter and energy bound by physical laws – a lawful unfolding of physical properties. Can’t we say the same about cars, computers, cell phones, traffic lights and buildings? They are the result of physical interaction between their own constituent parts. Why not? How do you describe the property of the human mind called intelligence? A computer is “intelligent” but we know who wrote the software.

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          You understand the universe as the entirety of spacetime, matter and energy bound by physical laws – a lawful unfolding of physical properties. Can’t we say the same about cars, computers, cell phones, traffic lights and buildings?

          Yes.

          They are the result of physical interaction between their own constituent parts. Why not?

          They are.

          How do you describe the property of the human mind called intelligence?

          In short: Brain chemistry. It’s also a property of minds of other animals, to a lesser degree. Gorillas can learn sign language and dolphins can do math. Isn’t that marvelous?

          A computer is “intelligent” but we know who wrote the software.

          Not very. AI’s got a long way to go yet.

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            Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

            How do you describe the property of the human mind called intelligence?

            In short: Brain chemistry. It’s also a property of minds of other animals, to a lesser degree. Gorillas can learn sign language and dolphins can do math.

            Ah, yes, the material vs. ideal distinction I mentioned above.

            In the materialist vision, the logic of the computer should be contained in and arise from the substrate of the motherboard.

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            Hans writes:

            In the materialist vision, the logic of the computer should be contained in and arise from the substrate of the motherboard.

            No, in the CPU (particularly the Arithmetic Logic Unit), and other microchips. Where’d you think the logic was stored, in the motherboard’s soul?

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            Harry Coin says:

            Those who understand science, and particularly theoretical computation, logic and mathematics very well, all take great care to separate the beauty even awe they sense and feel in the relationships they percieve, from the particulars of the inter-relationships themselves.

            This business of felt qualities attaching to that which is pointed at by symbolic and technical language is the nemesis of the strict materialist.

            Finally the more honest and rigorous the scientist the more they will be most careful never to assert that anything does or doesn’t exist or obtain unless the assertion can be tested by repeatable experiment.

            A great further challenge to the materialist view are phenomenon that can be measured and predicted but for which the explanitory framework of ‘how’ or ‘why’ is completely absent. We only have a predictive model with no ‘narrative’ as Fr. Hans would call it. Something that tells what to expect quite accurately without the slightest shred of ‘why/how’ at all.

            Already we have experiments testing the very strange predictions of quantum physics that demonstrate a message can be sent across a distance without anything travelling between the endpoints, requiring only that the endpoints were carefully constructed together in one spot then placed at their stations sometime earlier.

            As there appears to have been a ‘Big Bang’ a while back, talk about ‘being together in one spot’ writ large– it seems the phrase of the ’60′s Flower Children’ ‘Everything is connected to everything else’ has more than drug abuse dreams behind it. That and on a scale that quite literally spans the cosmos.

  19. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Eliot Ryan says:

    Robin:

    I clearly stated that I believe in Christ. I mentioned Pascal’s wager (and clearly stated that this is not the reason for may faith) to encourage you to keep looking, keep searching, keep reading and asking question until you find the truth and have no doubt about it.
    I don’t blame you for being so confused about God. This is what happens when one gets his “theology” from independent missionaries, freethinkers or from bumper stickers.

    Do not be offended when people do not agree with you; we love you even if you are an atheist and even if we are aware of the fact that historical record clearly shows that atheists proved to be incredibly cruel that no words can describe their hatred towards believers. How is that possible? We know that great sinners who repent can become saints!

    See for example:
    Beyond Torture The Gulag of Pitesti Romania
    The wounded tortured

    When you said, ‘I still believe in God,’ in five minutes you were full of blood. -Fr. Roman Braga

    Many of us died, many of us became mad, but in some of us the good triumphed. – Fr. George Calciu

    St. Luke Archbishop of Simferopol the Surgeon
    http://full-of-grace-and-truth.blogspot.com/2008/10/st-luke-archbishop-of-simferopol.html

    Because of St. Luke’s confessions of faith (and despite his immense medical and scientific achievements), he was imprisoned, tortured, and exiled for 11 years in total, to Siberia, and other trecherous locales. Besides persecution from the government, he had to deal with heretics from the “Living Church” who masqueraded as Orthodoxy and drew people away from the Church, and schismatic individuals who also caused unneeded harm in those turbulent years.St. Luke’s virtues, struggles and achievements are staggering. As a Grace-filled hierarch of the Church, he re-opening many churches that had been closed by the Communists, produced deep theologic works, and supported the faithful while drawing many to Orthodoxy. In addition, his love, skill and devotion to his patients saved thousands, (especially injured soldiers in war), and his research techniques were award- winning, and were thought to still be recognized by his fellow surgeons fifty years later. After a lifetime of such medical accomplishments and spiritual struggles in his confession for the Faith, St. Luke reposed in the Lord as the Archbishop of Simferopol (Crimea) on June 11th (New Calendar) 1961. St. Luke’s incredible virtues, love for the Lord and his fellow men, and accomplishments helped sustain the faithful immensely in those difficult days of the Atheist state.

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      I don’t blame you for being so confused about God. This is what happens when one gets his “theology” from independent missionaries, freethinkers or from bumper stickers.

      So set me straight: Name one incorrect statement I’ve made about God here.

      Do not be offended when people do not agree with you; we love you even if you are an atheist and even if we are aware of the fact that historical record clearly shows that atheists proved to be incredibly cruel that no words can describe their hatred towards believers.

      I see what you did there: admonish me not to get offended, then demonize atheists. Poison the well much?

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        Eliot Ryan says:

        Robin:

        Poison the well much?

        Interesting reaction: you seem overly concerned about the atheists’ reputation. What about human compassion for those who suffered atrocious physical and emotional torture? What about our duty to tell the truth about what happened? If we keep turning a blind eye to mistakes of the past, we’re doomed to keep repeating them. Should we conceal reality just because “modern” atheists might get offended?

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          What about our duty to tell the truth about what happened?

          And to do that, you should put the blame on Stalinism where it belongs.

          But you distorted the truth into propaganda. Perhaps changing one word will make what you did clearer:

          we love you even if you are a Russian and even if we are aware of the fact that historical record clearly shows that Russians proved to be incredibly cruel that no words can describe their hatred towards believers

          Even adorned with “we love you”’s of dubious sincerity, that’s despicable.

          Should we conceal reality just because “modern” atheists might get offended?

          Condemn Stalinists all you want, I’ll condemn them right along with you.

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            Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

            Well, it’s good you condemn him, but the topic here is the historical record of atheism. The brutality unleashed by atheist dogma in the last century is unmatched in Western history. It’s a historical problem atheists refuse to address.

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            Eliot Ryan says:

            Robin: Those who committed these atrocities were atheists with no fear of God. They were Russians, Romanians, Germans, etc. Hitler borrowed his “morality” from animals: “survival of the fittest”. Your own morality is borrowed from Christianity or from somewhere else.

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            Hans:

            The brutality unleashed by atheist dogma…

            There you go again. Atheism has no dogma, no tenets, and no scripture. None. Atheism is merely not believing in gods, nothing else.

            The dogma here was the toxic dogma of Stalinism. Stalinism was as dogmatic as any fundamentalist religion. One could call Stalinism a political religion. Dogmatism, blind acceptance of the dictates of an unquestionable authority, is the mindkiller, a tool that can turn decent people into goosestepping monsters.

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            Eliot:

            Those who committed these atrocities were atheists with no fear of God.

            Those who ran Soviet hospitals and cared for the sick were also atheists with no fear of God.

            Those who gassed nine million Jews were God‐fearing Christians.

            What does that tell you about the correlation of atrocities with fear of God or lack thereof?

            Your own morality is borrowed from Christianity or from somewhere else.

            Why would I choose the primitive, barbaric morality of eye‐for‐an‐eye infidel‐stoning slave‐owning Bronze Age Hebrews, when I have thousands of years of ethical thought by the best philosophical minds in the world to choose from?

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      I mentioned Pascal’s wager (and clearly stated that this is not the reason for may faith) to encourage you to keep looking…

      So, even you don’t find Pascal’s wager persuasive. Why lead with that, then? To encourage me to look for a good argument? Don’t you have any?

  20. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    Hans writes:

    In the materialist vision, the logic of the computer should be contained in and arise from the substrate of the motherboard.

    No, in the CPU (particularly the Arithmetic Logic Unit), and other microchips. Where’d you think the logic was stored, in the motherboard’s soul?

    Amounts to the same thing. In the materialist vision, the logic of the computer is contained in and arises from the material substrate of the CPU and other microchips.

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      Eliot Ryan says:

      Robin, you won’t find CPUs in ores or mineral deposits; they didn’t evolve over millions of years through a natural process; a CPU carries out the instructions of a computer program. There was a programmer or coder who wrote the software.

      The central processing unit (CPU) is the portion of a computer system that carries out the instructions of a computer program, and is the primary element carrying out the computer’s functions. The central processing unit carries out each instruction of the program in sequence, to perform the basic arithmetical, logical, and input/output operations of the system.

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        Eliot:

        Robin, you won’t find CPUs in ores or mineral deposits; they didn’t evolve over millions of years through a natural process;

        Good argument that CPUs are not at all analogous to the natural world.

        a CPU carries out the instructions of a computer program.

        Right, the CPU performs the logic. Without it, a program is just a recipe.

        The central processing unit carries out each instruction of the program in sequence, to perform the basic arithmetical, logical, and input/output operations of the system.

        There was a programmer or coder who wrote the software.

        Probably a whole department of programmers. Another way that CPUs are unlike the natural world.

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          Eliot Ryan says:

          Good argument that CPUs are not at all analogous to the natural world

          Let us consider man to be a high performance computer system made of organic matter, capable to grow and multiply itself, displaying intelligence (and related capacities: abstract thought, understanding, communication, reasoning, learning, planning, and problem solving) plus emotions (compassion, caring, love, appreciation, gratitude, forgiveness) uniquely combined to yield different personalities, appearances, etc.

          If you explain this with the classical “brain chemistry. It’s also a property of minds of other animals, to a lesser degree” I’ll tell you that you’ve never really thought about it; you are just repeating what you’ve heard in your atheist circle.

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            Eliot:

            Let us consider man to be a high performance computer system made of organic matter

            A slow, glitchy low performance computer system by modern computing standards, but with massively parallel processing.

            capable to grow and multiply itself, displaying intelligence … plus emotions … uniquely combined to yield different personalities, appearances, etc.

            Uniquely? My cat displays all of those characteristics too. I watched her work out how to open a closed door. I’ve also seen a squirrel crawl into a vending machine and come out with a candy bar.

            If you explain this with the classical “brain chemistry. It’s also a property of minds of other animals, to a lesser degree” I’ll tell you that you’ve never really thought about it

            And you would be talking out of your… hat.

            Science points to our minds being neurochemical. We can attach electrodes to your brain tissue and stimulate a specific memory into consciousness. We can see love on an MRI. We can alter your emotion with drugs. We can permanently alter your personality with a lobotomy. You don’t just have a brain, you are a brain.

            you are just repeating what you’ve heard in your atheist circle.

            You guessed wrong. Hasn’t come up in any of our meetups.

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      Hans:

      In the materialist vision, the logic of the computer is contained in and arises from the material substrate of the CPU and other microchips.

      From everything except the substrate. The substrate doesn’t do anything.

      Since you apparently don’t know what you’re saying, the “substrate” of a motherboard is the non‐conductive board onto which the conductive metal tracks are etched and the chips are mounted.

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        Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

        You remind me of a Catholic Scholastic, always crafting ever finer distinctions until the shavings on the floor are so numerous that you can’t put anything back together again.

        Look, here’s the point. The logic of the computer does not spontaneously generate from the material substance (will that do?) of the CPU. It takes a programmer to do that.

        When it comes to human beings though, you want us to believe that ideas spontaneously generated out of the matter of the brain. (Call it evolution but even so there is an element of spontaneous generation entangled in the concept.)

        I guess you can believe that if you want. Just make sure to indicate that it’s an article of faith.

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          Hans:

          When it comes to human beings though, you want us to believe that ideas spontaneously generated out of the matter of the brain.

          Matter and energy. Neurons firing in the brain.

          So, you don’t believe ideas come from brains? What organ do you think with?

          I guess you can believe that if you want. Just make sure to indicate that it’s an article of faith.

          No faith involved. We’ve learned a lot about how the brain operates.

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            T. Nathaniel says:

            Robin,

            Reading you is like listening to a politician. Do you ever deviate from atheist talking points?

            Your ignorance of the philosophical tradition is showing the more that you speak here. Believe it or not, but in the philosophy of mind it is an open question whether the mind can be reduced to the brain or not. For a classic essay on this issue from a secular perspective, read Nagel’s “What is it like to be a bat?”

            A little more honesty and curiosity on your part and a little less sarcasm would go a long way. But I suppose that you are more interested in winning debates than you are in the pursuit of the truth. All of this smacks of the fear that you so detest in close-minded theists.

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            Todd:

            Do you ever deviate from atheist talking points?

            What part of 20.2.1.1 was a talking point?

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        Eliot Ryan says:

        Anyway, the logic does not spontaneously arise from matter as they assume. The logic comes from the electronically implemented logic gates: AND, NAND, NOR, etc.

  21. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Eliot Ryan says:

    Robin:

    To encourage me to look for a good argument? Don’t you have any?

    The laws of nature and human body are wonderful. Science and its discoveries should lead us to assume An Author of this world who is not from a law and Who is above the law. Christ proved that He is above these laws. He is Risen! Budda, Mohammed, Marx and Freud are all dead. Every Non-Christian religion and philosophy may contain some good, but they lead to death. Christ said: “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” You choose not to listen to His words. Christ disciples and others after them received from Him the power to work miracles which are beyond the normal way that nature works.
    I said that you are confused about God … Yes, you are! You are so confused that you concluded that He does not exist.

    Even adorned with “we love you”’s of dubious sincerity, that’s despicable.

    Christ is the goodness and love greatest model. As a Christian, I am trying to follow Him. He represents the infinite level our ascent. It is true that we often fail…

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      Eliot:

      Science and its discoveries should lead us to assume An Author of this world who is not from a law and Who is above the law.

      Science should not lead you to assume anything. Moreover, in practice, leading scientists don’t believe in God.

      Christ proved that He is above these laws.

      In the same way that Mohammad proved donkeys can fly, when he rode one to heaven.

      We can’t even prove Christ existed, much less any of the miracle stories.

      Every Non-Christian religion and philosophy may contain some good, but they lead to death.

      Transhumanism could lead to immortality. Not Christian pie‐in‐the‐sky‐when‐you‐die wishthink immortality, indefinite‐lifespan‐in‐the‐real‐world immortality.

      You choose not to listen to His words.

      Already did, I’m an ex‐Christian. Used to believe, but I grew out of it.

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        Eliot Ryan says:

        Newton, Copernicus, Pavlov and many other great scientists were great believers. Being an atheist does not make you smart.

        Wishing you a very, very long life here on earth! After that … you’ll see for yourself :(

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          Eliot:

          Newton, Copernicus, Pavlov and many other great scientists were great believers.

          Isaac Newton was also an alchemist trying to turn lead into gold. He was wrong about a lot of things. Today, a high school student knows far more about how the world works than Isaac Newton, thanks in part to his pioneering work. As Isaac once said, “If I have seen further it is only by standing on the shoulders of giants.”

          Your list of great scientists is Newton, Copernicus, and… Pavlov? All due respect to him and his dogs, he’s kind of anticlimactic after Newton and Copernicus. If you wanted to end with a scientist who didn’t die centuries ago, I’d’ve gone with Father Lemaître and his Big Bang theory.

          Wishing you a very, very long life here on earth! After that … you’ll see for yourself

          Or just decompose, most likely. May you live long as well.

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          Speaking of Copernicus, the Church wasn’t too fond of his work. Just ask Giordano Bruno. Of course, you can’t, since he died a long time ago, when the Church burned him at the stake for advocating the Copernican heresy that the earth revolved around the sun. Unlike Galileo, he wouldn’t recant. Just saying.

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            Eliot Ryan says:

            Robin: You are taking here about the Roman Catholic Church (RCC). I am not sure if you know what is the difference between the Catholic Church and Orthodox Church. Before the great Schism (1054), Roman Catholic Church and Orthodox Church were as one. After the eleventh-century schism most of Western Europe fell under Papal sway. The Orthodox title of ‘Vicar of St Peter’ was dropped by the Popes of Rome and replaced with the title ‘the Vicar of Christ’. This asserts that the Pope is the replacement for Christ. The outcome was the doctrine of papal infallibility. Many Popes, supposedly infallible, made many mistakes. This is one more proof that man cannot replace God. RCC is the Institution and Western ‘rationalism’.

            Regarding science and religion see:
            21 Great Scientists Who Believed the Bible

            There is a widespread, but erroneous, view today that real scientists do not accept the truth of the Bible. It is therefore interesting to learn that many of the founding fathers of modern science were Bible-believing Christians, as were many of the less-well-known scientists who expanded our scientific knowledge. This book tells of the life and work of some of these great scientists who were Bible-believing Christians.
            These scientists found their faith in God’s Word to be perfectly compatible with their scientific investigations. In some cases, their faith sustained them through times of physical hardship and professional difficulties. Samuel Morse, the American who invented the telegraph and Morse code, endured many frustrating years during which his ideas were rejected. Although he was penniless and frequently hungry, Morse never stopped trusting God because he believed that God’s guiding hand was on his life.

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            You’re directing me to the notoriously intellectually dishonest, quotemining Answers in Genesis? I’ll take a look.

            Samuel Morse, the American who invented the telegraph and Morse code, endured many frustrating years during which his ideas were rejected.

            The 21 scientists (including the two Wright brothers) discussed at length in this book are merely a selection of some of the genuinely great scientists who accepted the truth of the Bible.

            So, at least three of their “great scientists” are actually great inventors. Someone there needs to learn the difference.

  22. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Eliot Ryan says:

    Robin:

    Those who gassed nine million Jews were God‐fearing Christians.

    An other idea from your atheist circle? Half a century before WWII Friedrich Nietzsche declared “God Is Dead”. Darwin was around about the same time. Stalin was planing to go to seminary. When he heard about Darwin and his theory of evolution he changed his mind. All the brutality was unleashed by the atheist dogma. Atheism poisons everything.

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      Eliot Ryan says:

      Robin: Again confused …
      “Eye for an eye” law replaced “death for an eye” law(lessness) thus allowing your best philosophical mind to be born.

      Why would I choose the primitive, barbaric morality of eye‐for‐an‐eye infidel‐stoning slave‐owning Bronze Age Hebrews, when I have thousands of years of ethical thought by the best philosophical minds in the world to choose from?

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      Eliot:

      Those who committed these atrocities were atheists with no fear of God.

      Those who gassed nine million Jews were God‐fearing Christians.

      What does that tell you about the correlation of atrocities with fear of God or lack thereof?

      An other idea from your atheist circle?…Nietzsche…Darwin…Stalin…Darwin… All the brutality was unleashed by the atheist dogma.

      There is no atheist dogma, and the Nazis were not unleashed by Stalinist dogma.

      Darwin’s work showed that all of humanity had a mutual common ancestry, a powerful argument against Naziism. Which may be why “Die Bucherei, ” banned Origin of Species and books promoting Darwinism to be committed to the Nazi bonfires.

  23. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Eliot Ryan says:

    Robin:

    We can permanently alter your personality with a lobotomy.

    What do you want to prove? Even a mechanical device emits heat or makes noise when in function. You can destroy or improve some function but that does not mean that you understand how everything was created. From chemical elements alone you can’t even make a seed that germinates. You prefer the evolution narrative… That’s your choice.

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      Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

      Evolution is the creation story of the philosophical materialist.

      See: Evolution and Me. (Just noticed Gilder uses the term “substrate.” Maybe that is where I got it from.)

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      Eliot:

      We can permanently alter your personality with a lobotomy.

      What do you want to prove?

      Did you forget how that paragraph started? I’ll refresh your memory:

      In 20.1.1.1.1, I wrote:

      Science points to our minds being neurochemical. We can attach electrodes to your brain tissue and stimulate a specific memory into consciousness. We can see love on an MRI. We can alter your emotion with drugs. We can permanently alter your personality with a lobotomy. You don’t just have a brain, you are a brain.

  24. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    There you go again. Atheism has no dogma, no tenets, and no scripture. None. Atheism is merely not believing in gods, nothing else.

    The dogma here was the toxic dogma of Stalinism. Stalinism was as dogmatic as any fundamentalist religion. One could call Stalinism a political religion (call it an ideology). Dogmatism, blind acceptance of the dictates of an unquestionable authority, is the mindkiller, a tool that can turn decent people into goosestepping monsters.

    Robin, how poorly informed you are about the history and philosophy of atheism. Your retort here is, well, reflexively dogmatic.

    Start your self-education here:

    You are right about one thing: Communism is a political religion. Atheism, because it has no ground for morality, conflates itself with the power of the state. It started with eugenics BTW, a thoroughly atheistic project (read your history) and moved into totalitarianism in short order. (Hitler’s Final Solution ideology came from American eugenicists, who, with their inebriation with Social Darwinism set out to make a New Jerusalem by killing the unfit. Sound familiar? Atheism was the central tenet of their dogma.)

    When you are done with Black above, read this:

    The more I debate atheists, I see that almost all don’t have an adequate understanding of philosophy or history.

    Here’s another good book that takes on the paucity of some of your retorts such as: “Atheism is merely not believing in gods, nothing else”.

    All three are excellent books.

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      Hans Jacobse writes:

      Robin, how poorly informed you are about the history and philosophy of atheism.

      Says the man who risibly told me “almost all (thinking) atheists are Marxists”. I have not seen you make a single true statement about atheism anywhere in this comment thread. You misrepresent atheism constantly.

      Atheism, because it has no ground for morality, conflates itself with the power of the state.

      If we’re so conflated with state power, why can’t we get “in God we trust” off our dollars?

      Atheism provides no ground for any philosophy, because it has no beliefs.

      It started with eugenics BTW, a thoroughly atheistic project (read your history) and moved into totalitarianism in short order.

      Which started with Plato’s Republic. He wasn’t an atheist.

      (Hitler’s Final Solution ideology came from American eugenicists, who, with their inebriation with Social Darwinism set out to make a New Jerusalem by killing the unfit. Sound familiar? Atheism was the central tenet of their dogma.)

      Because only an atheist would talk about making a New Jerusalem.~

      The more I debate atheists, I see that almost all don’t have an adequate understanding of philosophy or history.

      The more I see you tell atheists what their position must be, the more you don’t listen as they argue their real positions. Surely, atheists’ constant failure to hold positions that Hans Jacobse, authority on atheists, tells them they must hold can only be attributed to them not knowing what atheism is about, not you being constantly, stubbornly, pigheadedly wrong.~

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        Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

        Says the man who risibly told me “almost all (thinking) atheists are Marxists”

        They are. Note the disclaimer “thinking,” however. I’m not convinced that most atheists understand much about their position at all, a point confirmed I think by your comment:

        Atheism provides no ground for any philosophy, because it has no beliefs.

        …as if this assertion has no broader ramifications just because you say so. Put another way, “no beliefs” is a belief, a way of looking at the world based on unprovable assumptions.

        Because only an atheist would talk about making a New Jerusalem.~

        The atheist projects of the last century (eugenics, Communism, etc.) have their own teleology, utopian in character that unleashed a torrent of blood. That’s a historical fact. It’s indisputable. To argue that I don’t understand the atheist’s “real position” instead of dealing with these facts means either 1) you don’t understand the ramifications of your own ideas, or 2) you can’t explain how the atheism that drove these events differs from your own.

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          Says the man who risibly told me “almost all (thinking) atheists are Marxists”

          They are.

          Just make sure to indicate that that’s an article of faith.

          As for me, I know lots of thinking atheists, but as far as I know, no Marxists. Maybe they’re secret Marxists, like Obama being a “secret Muslim”.~ Was Joe McCarthy right all along?~

          Put another way, “no beliefs” is a belief, a way of looking at the world based on unprovable assumptions.

          To be an atheist, you need not believe one single thing, only not believe in deities. That’s not an unprovable assumption, that’s a definition of atheism.

          The atheist projects of the last century (eugenics, Communism, etc.) have their own teleology, utopian in character that unleashed a torrent of blood. That’s a historical fact. It’s indisputable.

          Let me try a different tack. By your rhetorical reasoning, it’s also an indisputable historical fact the Christian projects of the last century (Naziism, African witch hunts, Uganda’s anti‐homosexual pogrom, etc.) unleashed a torrent of blood.

          you can’t explain how the atheism that drove these events differs from your own.

          Already did in 19.1.1.1.3. Atheism didn’t drive those events, dogmatism did.

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            Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

            Let me try a different tack. By your rhetorical reasoning, it’s also an indisputable historical fact the Christian projects of the last century (Naziism, African witch hunts, Uganda’s anti‐homosexual pogrom, etc.) unleashed a torrent of blood.

            Nazism unleashed a torrent of blood, but that was merely atheism in Teutonic dress. You can’t call it Christian. No credible historian would. I know the atheist cultural lobby is trying to float the idea, but I would let it go if I were you. It’s on the same level as, say, 9/11 was an inside job.

            Uganda? African witch hunts? Not sure what that has to do with anything. Please, don’t go into explaining them. If you don’t want to be intellectually honest, then there is no point in talking.

            You need to listen to the Berlinski-Hitchens debate. Berlinski is not a Christian but takes Hitchens to task for making the same claim you do. My hunch is that you will see this problem with the atheist historical experience examined in more detail in the future.

            Atheism didn’t drive those events, dogmatism did.

            Kind of. You really can’t separate atheist dogma from its atheism, but, yes, not all atheists are dogmatists. Your atheism remains relatively benign as long as it remains private. But atheism as a cultural force can’t be trusted.

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            Hans Jacobse writes:

            Nazism unleashed a torrent of blood, but that was merely atheism in Teutonic dress. You can’t call it Christian.

            Liar.

            It may be embarassing for you, but it is undeniable that Naziism was steeped in Christian rhetoric and Christian iconography, fighting in the name of Christianity. One of their slogans, emblazoned around an eagle and swastika on German Army belt buckles, was “GOTT MIT UNS” (God is on our side).

            No credible historian would.

            Au contraire! Only a Holocaust revisionist would call Naziism atheist, a big lie worthy of Josef Goebbels.

            It’s on the same level as, say, 9/11 was an inside job.

            What you’re saying is on that level.

            If you don’t want to be intellectually honest, then there is no point in talking.

            Right back at you.

            You need to listen to the Berlinski-Hitchens debate.

            Oh, yes! Readers, do go watch Hitchens take Berlinski apart after he tries these same Nazi‐baiting lies Fr. Hans uses.

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      Hans:

      Stalinism was as dogmatic as any fundamentalist religion. One could call Stalinism a political religion [insertion by Hans: (call it an ideology)]. Dogmatism, blind acceptance of the dictates of an unquestionable authority, is the mindkiller, a tool that can turn decent people into goosestepping monsters.

      You are right about one thing: Communism is a political religion.

      In that Hitchens-Berslinski debate you commended to my attention, Hitchens makes a case that totalitarianism is inherently theocratic:

      I came across a stray comment by George Orwell, of whom I’m a great admirer, in a little known essay recently in which he said at root all totalitarianism must be theocratic, and I thought of my most admired author, that’s rather stretching it. And it’s certainly possible to identify totalitarianisms that are not explicitly religious.

      He went on to clarify it a bit, he said the reason I say it’s theocratic is this, in all such dictatorships there must be certain unchallengable assumptions, some things that are beyond discussion, that are not available for debate, that must be taken as statements of faith. In other words, in Italy for example under fascism, Il Duce ha sempre ragione, “The Leader is always right”. Of course, the cult of the Führer, the view that Stalin could bring two or three crops a year and was the great protector of the people, the worship of Mao, to take the other great element of the Axis powers, of Japan, the Emporer was actually a god, couldn’t have anything more theocratic than that, though he had secular adherents as well.

      Now if you think of totalitarianism in that way, and if you think of that as the greatest poison, since I’m accused of not of mentioning poison enough or stressing it enough, then you’ll see that the charge that it is essentially theocratic is true because it depends on unchallengable statements, dogma, and faith. I don’t know if anyone wants to name to me, or whether David will take up the challenge, a statement of atheism that is a statement purely of faith, independent of evidence, requiring no reasoning, and above all, punishable if challenged. I don’t believe you can come up with anything of the sort.

      To the contrary, the little faction with which I’m honored to be identified as a junior member, is adamant for doubt, is resolved to be skeptical, is certain only of the principle of uncertainty, and says that what we have yet to know is enormously greater than what we discovered or known so far, and that that and only that is the test of education, of intellectual integrity, of honesty and inquiry, and yes, let’s hope for it, the emancipation of humans from manmade, and I stress manmade, delusions, including of hopeful ones, including false consolation.

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        Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

        Hitchens is putting a new spin on an old thesis: Marxist utopianism borrows the categories and teleology of Christianity but temporalizes them. I largely agree with the thesis (Google: Marxism as a secular religion). He of course calls it “totalitarianism” and in so doing ignores the Marxist praxis underlying it (read Solzhenitsyn, Lenin in Zurich), but that’s because any mention of Lenin undermines his belief in Troskyism (Hitchens is a Troskyite).

        It’s an interesting spin for this reason: it describes the totalitarian in terms of internal self-identity, not in terms of the terror by which the disenfranchised viewed the regime (anyone outside of the “vanguard” which would comprise what? – 90% of the population?). And it follows form in almost all cases that I am aware of; megalomania, a sense of being chosen by “history” to direct history.

        Ignoring the theoretical underpinnings of totalitarianism however, is disingenuous. He twists history here, describing the internal self-identity as if it was shared by the populace terrorized. No Communist revolution is ever a popular revolution, especially the European varieties. He revises history here, stretches it in fact, in order to fit his increasingly fragile thesis that religion spoils everything.

        To get a better read on these ideas from a real historian, read Paul Johnson’s Modern Times. It’s outstanding.

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    cynthia curran says:

    Well, Hitler might have been catholic but he wanted to rid christainity of its jewish roots and make it nordic and also wanted to go back to the old germanic gods like woden since that was apart of the anicent german peoples. In fact some neo-pagans that are also white supremists or white nationalist prefer the old germanic gods to chirstianity since chirstianity leaves too much to internationalism and not national and ethinic or white european pride. Also, chirstianity was too pacifistic since the best warriors were anicent pagan societies. As for atheists, Hitler didn’t like those that didn’t think the state and nazism were gods.

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    cynthia curran says:

    I mean the white nationalist neo-pagans think that christinaity leaves to what Gibbon believe too much for the afterlife and hence no desire to defend the nation state.

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    Michael Bauman says:

    Robin, you don’t believe in the divine. Whatever else you profess that is the foundation of your belief (and it is a fundamental assumption impossible to prove or disprove).

    The foundation of my belief is my encouter with a personal and living God. My encounter is of such a nature and extent that absolutely nothing you say can or will make a dent in it. From that encounter, the teachings of the Church and my own fitful application of them, I forge a life of faith that includes a manner of thought consistent with that faith.

    I perceive that you are doing much the same, just in the opposite direction. While that saddens me, there is little I can do about it as never the twain shall meet no matter how many times we try to go around the barn–absent some sort of ‘road to Damascus moment’ in your life.

    Our assumptions are so radically different, there is no way we will ever come to the same conculsion about much of anything important.

    The continuing attempt by you and others here to overcome the deeply held fundamental assumptions of others about the nature of being is a waste of time and effort that only leads to increasing frustration. From a patristic sense, it exacerbates the passions.

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      Eliot Ryan says:

      Michael:

      The continuing attempt by you and others here to overcome the deeply held fundamental assumptions of others about the nature of being is a waste of time and effort that only leads to increasing frustration.

      As T. Nathaniel noted, Robin is more interested in winning debates than in the pursuit of the truth. The discussion might be useful for those who are truly interested in pursuing the truth.

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        Michael Bauman says:

        Eliot,

        In reality, the truth pursues us. For Him not to catch us we have to actively run away, don’t you think?

        The more we ‘debate’, the more we contend with our own minds and the minds of others, the faster we are running.

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          Eliot Ryan says:

          Crosses will go up again as living symbols of the reality of the victory of those who were neither humiliated nor fanatical. They are those who stand firm for the Faith, threatening and hating none, but loving all, because their hearts are aflame with the love of Christ; they are those who speak bold words with a clean soul. And this miracle, if God wills it, will be worked when the Communists say, as Julian the Apostate 1600 years before them, ‘Thou hast conquered, O Galilean!’ And this miracle will be worked by the prayers of the martyrs, of those who spoke with peace in their minds and souls, with humility and love – in fearless defense of the Truth.

          Excerpt from: Orthodox Christianity and the English Tradition

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      The foundation of my belief is my encouter with a personal and living God.

      There was a time I imagined I had encounters with God. Numinous glowy feelings I associated with God’s presence. But secular, ungodly things also evinced such sublime feelings, and I came to realize nothing about them was supernatural.

      The continuing attempt by you and others here to overcome the deeply held fundamental assumptions of others about the nature of being is a waste of time and effort that only leads to increasing frustration.

      If by “about the nature of being”, you mean about materialism and what materialists believe, that was Hans’ hobbyhorse. I may yet persuade you that morals can be arrived at by reason alone, if I can stop getting sidetracked by Hans’ and Eliot’s attempts to link me to the ghosts of Hitler and Stalin.

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        Nick Katich says:

        Robin:

        I’ve stayed on the sidelines in this discussion, I have been fascinated with your arguments. I don’t want you to get distracted either by Fr. Hans or by Eliot or by Nathaniel. I would like to engage you.

        Help me to understand, Tell me, (i) what do you actually think you are, (ii) why do you think you exist, (iii) why do you think I exist, (iii) why should I or you continue to exist rather than terminate our existence, and (iv) what will happen to those around us that care for us when we opt for (iii). Bear with me and be honest in your answers. OK?

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          Hi, Nick. Your questions called for thoughtful answers, so I took my time composing my thoughts before responding.

          I have been fascinated with your arguments.

          Thank you, that is nice of you to say.

          (i) what do you actually think you are,

          I come from a long line of intelligent primates.

          I am your cousin. If we each had unlimited information, we could trace our ancestry back until we both arrived at a great‐to‐the‐nth‐power‐grandmother we have in common.

          I am my cat’s cousin too. If I traced my ancestry further and further back, ancestor to ancestor, brows becoming gradually more sloped and jawbones gradually more pronounced, and traced my cat’s, through her wild feline ancestors, legs becoming gradually longer and body size gradually larger, back through hundreds of thousands of years, eventually both lineages would arrive at a mammalian ancestor we share, long before hominids walked the earth.

          I am a relative of every living thing on earth, all of us derived from some 4.5 billion year old primordial microbe, before there were even plants.

          I am stardust. Every atom in my body is billions of years old, forged in the heart of an exploded star. My left hand is probably made of atoms from different stars than the atoms of my right hand.

          I am a miniscule part of the entire vast universe, looking around at itself, trying to figure itself out.

          And so are you.

          (ii) why do you think you exist,

          Even if the world and everything in it were an illusion, Descartes’ famous argument “I think, therefore I am” is a reason to believe that whatever I am, I am.

          (iii) why do you think I exist,

          If my perceptions of the world have any reliability at all, and I believe that they do, then other human beings exist.

          In my personal experience, other people whom I initially encountered on Internet message boards and subsequently in real life proved persuasively existent. Though I can’t entirely rule out the possibility that Nick is a hoax perpetrated by parties unknown for motives unknown, that hypothesis is not parsimonious. “Nick exists” (until proven otherwise) is likelier.

          (iii) why should I or you continue to exist rather than terminate our existence, and

          Because life is an adventure! Death is a mug’s game, I’ve got so much to live for.

          On the other hand, occasionally people have something to die for. Some people sacrifice themselves to save other lives, which I admire. Some people martyr themselves to destroy lives or bring their family honor, which I do not admire. I hope you never find yourself in a situation where it seems more moral to die than to live, though.

          Some people have less to live for than others. If you were so sick from terminal cancer that your life was constant pain, I shouldn’t fault you for choosing euthanasia, though it wouldn’t be my choice. If you were a suicidal teenager, I’d hope to persuade you that there’s more to live for than you thought.

          As for me, today, I want to live forever or die trying.

          (iv) what will happen to those around us that care for us when we opt for (iii).

          Sounds like something a suicide counselor would ask. You proposed two options in your previous question.

          If you choose “continue to exist”, then in most circumstance, you will get more days to spend with those you care for, more memories to make, more legacy to leave on the world when you’re gone.

          If you choose “terminate your existence”, in most circumstances, you’ll probably hurt the feelings of those who care about you, for a time. It’s not always a bad choice, though. Sometimes people die heroic deaths sacrificing themselves for another, for example.

          Bear with me and be honest in your answers. OK?

          Of course. I hope my words are of use to you.

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            Nick Katich says:

            Robin: Thank you for responding. What I would like to explore with you, first (otherwise this post could become a book) is:

            I come from a long line of intelligent primates. I am your cousin….I am my cat’s cousin too. If I traced my ancestry further and further back, ancestor to ancestor, brows becoming gradually more sloped and jawbones gradually more pronounced, and traced my cat’s, through her wild feline ancestors, legs becoming gradually longer and body size gradually larger, back through hundreds of thousands of years, eventually both lineages would arrive at a mammalian ancestor we share, long before hominids walked the earth….I am a relative of every living thing on earth, all of us derived from some 4.5 billion year old primordial microbe, before there were even plants. I am stardust. Every atom in my body is billions of years old, forged in the heart of an exploded star.

            Before doing that, however, I need to tell you something about myself. Upon starting college, I waived out of both physics and chemistry 101-202 and was allowed to start at 301. Since then, I have read everthying I can get my hands on regarding the macro universe and the quantum universe. I have done extensive course work in general biology, morphology, genetics, evolution, etc. Although I have done no formal course work in geology and anthropology, I have varaciously read in those areas.

            In all of that work and reading, I have come to understand that the Einsteinian and post-Einsteinian theories of the macro universe are inconsistent with the Planckian and post-Planckian quantum theories. Science is now further away than it was say 30 years ago in coming up with a unified field theory and the rift is ever growing. And, the string theories, once thought promising, have widened the rift even further. I think most honest physicists would say that the one or the other, or both, could not possibly be correct, and each has a favorite to champion. Which is championed is usually determined by which discipline one is in.

            In the disciple of evolution, I have always asked, what is the mechanism that caused brows to become gradually sloped and jawbones to become more gradually pronounced, and legs to become gradually longer and body size gradually larger. Reading and re-reading Darwin and others, I have never found an answer because Darwin doesn’t give an answer. His theory of natural selection provides an explanation as to why the change endures and becomes dominant. But he cannot explain what caused it ab initio

            The one thing that always troubled me is that there are wide gaps in the archeological fossil evidence. Sure, I have seen the shape of a dinosaurs’ leg structure. And yes, indeed, it looks just like a modern bird’s. But, consistent evidence of a general, gradual change from say a Raptor to a Robin (no pun) is not found. Knowing that, the more modern evolutionist have now tried to solve the problem by a new theory generally called catastrophic mutation. My own preference from a reasoned position is that it works better than any other. In other words, it makes the most sense. However, there is no empirical evidence to support it since we have found no instance of it, as of yet.

            The other thing that has always troubled me is what Darwin actually discovered in his trek around the Andes and what he was at a loss to understand. In a lot of instances, he found, in the higher stratas, species from whom it appeared certain more recent species evolved. However, those newer species were in the lower stratas. That troubled Darwin till the day he died and it troubles me even now.

            Robin, have you ever been to the LaBrea Tar Pits in the heart of Los Angeles? I have been there several times for one reason alone. To try to understand how some 10,000-25,000 years ago (depending on whom you ask) a plethora of animals got trapped there at the same time that should not have been there together. Those that should have been extinct with those into whom they evolved. There is no explanation that I am aware of.

            Coal and oil are said to have come from eons of compression of former animal and plant life, respectively, as they sunk deeper and deeper into the bowels of the earth and as more and more layers of surface grew over them. The theory makes a whole lot of sense, until you learn that in many places (Pennsylvania and Colorado, to note a few), the coal is not deep but is near the surface. It’s extraction is known as strip mining. And, as you know, oil is not evenly distributed around the world. It is most commonly found in areas where little dense flora have been thought to exist over the eons. And deep below the ocean floor in areas where it has always thought to have been ocean, makes me wonder.

            We can talk about this and other matters more in the days to come. I hope you will do that. But, I will tell you, I for one cannot take as a blind article of faith the Big Bang, evolution, etc. because the jury is still out in my mind until some gross inconsistencies in the empirical evidence exists. I respect the fact that you do take evolution and the Big Bang as articles of faith.

            Have you considered the problems I have raised from the empirical evidence and how have you been able to resolve them?

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            George Michalopulos says:

            Nick, the problems with a lot of Darwin’s assumptions about science is even more basic than most laymen know. In his day, the structure of the interior of the cell was unknown. His ideas of morphology and transmutation made sense only given the fact that he (and others) believed that cells were simple little globs. Today we now know that it takes 4,000 different proteins to complete cell division. Andthat’s just cell division. That’s not metabolism, catabolism, or anything else. Think of how wasteful that is. There are hundreds of billions of cells in the human body.

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            Eliot Ryan says:

            Exactly as I thought. Biological immortality… Obviously, it is not meant for everyone. Overpopulation is a natural hazard for the habitat of the “immortals”; some (many) will have to be eliminated.

            We know that we are dust. Science just figured it out! We’ve been singing it in the memorial service for the departed for centuries. This is also the first of God’s commandments, that one is dust and into dust one shall return. The soul never dies. It remains unto the ages of ages, because it is spirit from God and cannot die.

            Worldly people totally lack the sense of eternity. Our life is one minute compared to eternity. Even if you’ll live a thousand years, it will be like ten minutes when compared to eternity. After that is hell. Hell is not only a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth, and tormenting flames, but it is also a place of blackness of darkness. (See Jude 1:6, 13). Gnashing of teeth represents the overwhelming sorrow felt when seeing how easy would have been to gain eternity and what has been lost during the short time you had on earth.

            The greatest love of all is concern for the the loved one eternal salvation.

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        Michael Bauman says:

        Robin, I said nothing about feelings at all. If I relied on feelings, I’d be a dark and bitter old man. My continuing encounter with the living God in the person of Jesus Christ allows me to transcend my feelings on really good days, ignore them on others and avoid becoming totally submerged by them on the bad days. The nature of my encounter is congruent with the description given by a diverse group of people from diverse cultures and times since the advent of Christ. It is actually quite empirical in its own way.

        Your arguments, i.e, rants, are neither logical nor rational. You’d do yourself a favor if your took Nick up on his offer.

        I am sure you will disagree, but my personal experience with the source of atheism in people is an unresolved hurt with the consequent anger directed at God. Talk about feelings…..

        Empiricism is a tool. Used in the correct way, it can be beneficial. Used incorrectly it is either ineffective or destructive. As a philosophy it is absurd.

        The theological debate you’ve entered does not end with deciding on the existence or non-existence of the divine. One must also consider, as Nick alluded to, our own existence, our own nature, how we are interrelated, the nature and source of evil among other contemplations. Such consideration must be given, especially, if the desire is to forge a coherent morality. So far you have merely continued to assert that atheists are right and theists are wrong. Therefore the conversation has become a variation on the age old theme…”so’s your old man…”

        An atheist has to be able to explicate the nature of being. Buddhists do; Taoists do, Confucians do. Modern atheists whose belief is founded solely on a rejection of the divine and the worship of self-organizing matter typically don’t. They don’t, IMO, because they can’t.

        Allowing the conversation to continue on the ground of personal interpretation of the motives of historical figures… Well, that is as boring as it is futile. Evil will always justify itself in the themes of the dominate culture while at the same time seeking to destroy anything positive in that culture. Just because someone appeals to Christianity to do evil does not mean that Christianity is the source and ground of the evil. To confuse the justification for evil with its foundation is illogical. Neitzche, et.al. arose in the midst of the same culture as Hitler because the reality of the Christian faith had long before ceased to exist. What was left, as Neitzche so graphically described, was a list of rules and regs, a system without an energy source (‘God is dead’).

        Lenin and Stalin manifested a similar spirit in a similar circumstance in Russia.

        Neitzche’s rejection of the system of ‘values’ in his time and his subsitution of the Will to Power; the subjection of the culture and the masses to that Will expressed in one dominant leader had far more to do with the totalitarian impluse gaining the upper hand in the 20th century than Christianity. In Christian terms, Neitzche’s Will to Power is just a modern re-statement of the rejection of our true nature as beings made in the image and likeness of God and contingent upon Him for our life. The so-called Christian culture in Germany had already made the same step without yet subsituting the solpisitic solution that Neitzche provided until Hitler came along.

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          Michael:

          My continuing encounter with the living God in the person of Jesus Christ… It is actually quite empirical in its own way.

          Oh, you meet him in person? Did you take any photos? Shoot any video? Empirical minds want to know.

          I am sure you will disagree, but my personal experience with the source of atheism in people is an unresolved hurt with the consequent anger directed at God.

          If you were angry at God, you weren’t an atheist, you were a disaffected monotheist.

          So far you have merely continued to assert that atheists are right and theists are wrong.

          I never asserted either. From my point of view, atheism makes no claims to be right about. Neither “a god exists” nor “no god exists” is proven, and some gods, like the disinterested, noninterventionist god of deism, seem neither provable nor disprovable. There simply is no good reason to believe in them.

          An atheist has to be able to explicate the nature of being.

          Why must they? It’s not relevant to atheism.

          Modern atheists whose belief is founded solely on a rejection of the divine and the worship of self-organizing matter typically don’t.

          What would worship of self‐organizing matter look like? “O self‐organizing matter, without whom we would not be, lead us not into fallacy and superstition, but show us the way to knowledge. Amen”

          None of the modern atheists I know do that.

          Allowing the conversation to continue on the ground of personal interpretation of the motives of historical figures… Well, that is as boring as it is futile.… Neitzche… Hitler… Neitzche… Lenin and Stalin… Neitzche… Neitzche… Neitzche… Hitler…

          (Boring, futile talk elided.)

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            Robin, if there is “no reason to explicate the nature of being” then is there no being? If there is no being, then why don’t we live under the iron law of nature, which is “red in tooth and claw”?

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            Eliot Ryan says:

            Michael: Like you said: “In reality, the truth pursues us. For Him not to catch us we have to actively run away.
            On Science and Religion by St. Luke Archbishop of Simferopol the Surgeon

            They do not understand the essence of religion yet they criticize it. Their criticism does not touch the essence of faith, since they are unable to understand the types, the expressions of religious feeling. The essence of religion they do not understand. Why not? Because the Lord Jesus Christ says “No one can come to me unless My Father who sent Me draws him to Me.(John 6:44)

            So it is necessary that we be drawn by the Heavenly Father, it is necessary that the grace of the Holy Spirit enlighten our heart and our mind. To dwell in our heart and mind through this enlightenment, the Holy Spirit and the ones who were found worthy to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, those in whose heart lives Christ and His Father, know the essence of faith. The others, outside the faith cannot understand anything.
            [...]
            Let us not bother with what we hear against religion, losing our bearings. Let us hold on to our faith which is the eternal indisputable truth. Amen.

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            27.2.2.1-27.2.2.1.1:

            An atheist has to be able to explicate the nature of being.

            Why must they? It’s not relevant to atheism.

            Robin, if there is “no reason to explicate the nature of being” then is there no being?

            George, if there is no reason for religion to explicate the workings of a piano, then are there no pianos?

            And who are you quoting?

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            Michael Bauman says:

            Robin, worship entails far more than just poetic language to describe someone or something greater to which one gives honor.

            If you acknowledge and give honor to the material forces of the cosmos for your existence, that is akin to worship.

            Carl Sagan certainly sounded worshipful when he raptuously spoke in awe of the ‘bilions and billions of stars’ on his TV programs espeically in the context of his weekly paeon to the cosmic reality that broght it all into existence.

            But perhaps you have no poetic impulse at all and perfer to inhabit the cold and unimaginative world of facts without context; thought without belief; life without mercy; existence without being? If so: How is it possible that life is worth more than death? How is it possible to care for anyone, even oneself? Why do you need morals at all?

            You say you use the standard “I think,therefore I am”. That merely assumes being without addressing it at all. I prefer, I am therefore I think. In either case the antecedant question needs to be answered. From whence thought? or From whence being?

            Unlike Nick, I am not fascinated with your arguments. I really don’t see any arguments. I am, however, fascinated with the blind irrationality and purposeful ignorance of those who steadfastly deny the existence of the divine. It is the ultimate vandalism IMO. Horrible and so wasteful; a terrible insanity of self-destruction. I greive for you.

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    Tamara says:

    Christian faith is not a feeling. Feelings come and go and for that reason, cannot be trusted.

  29. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    It may be embarassing for you, but it is undeniable that Naziism was steeped in Christian rhetoric and Christian iconography, fighting in the name of Christianity. One of their slogans, emblazoned around an eagle and swastika on German Army belt buckles, was “GOTT MIT UNS” (God is on our side).

    To a degree, yes. Evil is justified in the language of the good, and in this case it was a cultural necessity that the good was Christian. That’s why you need a historian’s eye to penetrate the misuse of the language.

    But you have to dig deeper, especially the racists myths employed by the Nazis and you see more, much more. Most of it was driven by Social Darwinism, especially the notion of the Master Race, which provided the rationale for the reemergence of the Teutonic myths, some that had laid dormant for thousands of years, albeit diluted and in modern dress.

    Thus, phrases like “Gott Mit Uns” were calculated to deceive the gullible. Reading your response, it may still be working.

    Look Robin, your argument just cannot be sustained. It’s not credible. No historian argues it. The facts on the ground don’t support it. I don’t know how much clearer it can be.

    Nor does the volume of your protestation negate the historical problem of atheism and the last century. That’s not going to go away. In some respects, the cultural aggressiveness of the atheists themselves is drawing attention to it. “Really? Religion spoils everything?” a reasonable observer will ask, and the search into history begins.

    Not trying to be offensive here Robin, but you really do need to examine your premises more deeply than you have. Most of your objections are rhetorical, not substantive.

    • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
      It may be embarassing for you, but it is undeniable that Naziism was steeped in Christian rhetoric and Christian iconography, fighting in the name of Christianity. One of their slogans, emblazoned around an eagle and swastika on German Army belt buckles, was “GOTT MIT UNS” (God is on our side).

      Evil is justified in the language of the good, and in this case it was a cultural necessity that the good was Christian.

      Because it was a cultural necessity to win the support and allegiance of whom? Not the atheists Hitler was sending to the concentration camps. Certainly not the Jews.

      The facts on the ground don’t support it. I don’t know how much clearer it can be.

      Ample historical evidence contradicts your atheist‐demonizing revisionist history. Your unsustainable claim that Nazism was “atheism in Teutonic dress” so denies the most glaringly obvious facts about the Holocaust, that I have to wonder whether you’re just willfully historically ignorant, or an intellectually dishonest propagandist.

      Not trying to be offensive here Robin…

      Wow, if that’s how offensive you are when you’re not trying…

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        Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

        Because it was a cultural necessity to win the support and allegiance of whom? Not the atheists Hitler was sending to the concentration camps. Certainly not the Jews.

        Germans, obviously. Russia was a bit different. There we saw full blown totalitarianism — a terror state.

        Ample historical evidence contradicts your atheist‐demonizing revisionist history.

        Could you offer some examples? Books are preferred and they must be by accomplished and credible historians.

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    Eliot Ryan says:

    I believe that Robin is trying to say that one can be moral and atheist because we all have what is called “conscience”. He regards conscience as a mere reflection of matter – common among the atheists, among Christians, or Mohammedans-, a lawful unfolding of physical and chemical properties.
    We know that as we get older our body starts to decline and to decay no matter what we do to prevent it. Robin, why to you believe that conscience is something lasting, not influenced by the time or by our food intake?

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    Michael Bauman says:

    Sure, individual atheists can be moral in a leglistic sense. I don’t think anyone disputes that. The greater problem is what happens when a materialist atheism is projected on the culture? Materialist atheism has no coherent manner to identify and correct evil. Often the very existence of evil is denied.

    Several questions are begged: where does the legalistic moral code of the individual atheist come; why should anyone follow it; why should there be any societal reprecussions if one does not follow it; since religious thought has dominated philosophical and ethical thinking for the vast majority of our societal existence, how does one discern that the derivation of a particular moral principal is atheistic rather than derived from a theistic approach to God, man and society?

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      Eliot Ryan says:

      The atheist rejects God’s Written Law (given a couple of thousands years earlier) and wants to write a new moral law (a better one he believes) or a legalistic moral code. Indeed, where does the legalistic moral code of the individual atheist come from? Robin said that it comes from great philosophical minds. Why should anyone obey it. After all, the one who wrote it is a man, like I am. I might have much better ideas. I can even start a war to impose my ideas and to replace his moral legalistic code.

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    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    Pedro Blas González just wrote a good essay on philosophy and the transcendent that I posted on OrthodoxToday.org: Reconstructing Philosophy.

  33. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Eliot Ryan says:

    Robin:

    Darwin’s work showed that all of humanity had a mutual common ancestry, a powerful argument against Naziism.

    We already knew that we have common ancestry: God. How is Darwin’s theory more powerful than that? His message was that there is no need to worry about eternal punishment, or so has (almost) everyone received it.

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    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    Darwinism sees death as the engine of social progress. That’s how eugenicists and other Social Darwinists (Darwin was not a eugenicist) suspend morality in the name of an ostensible greater good. Christianity sees death as an enemy that must be destroyed (accomplished in Christ) which led to the revolution in social humanitarianism in Western culture. These two philosophical/theological precepts are irreconcilable.

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      Hans:

      Darwinism sees death as the engine of social progress.

      No, Darwin said social progress eliminates death as an engine, and that procreation is the engine of social progress.

      In The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex, he writes:

      With highly civilized nations continued progress depends in a subordinate degree on Natural Selection; for such nations do not supplant and exterminate one another as do savage tribes. Nevertheless the more intelligent members within the same community will succeed better in the long run than the inferior, and leave a more numerous progeny, and this is a form of Natural Selection. The more efficient causes of progress seem to consist of a good education during youth whilst the brain is impressible, and of a high standard of excellence, inculcated by the ablest and best men, embodied in the laws, customs, and traditions of the nation, and enforced by public opinion. It should, however, be borne in mind, that the enforcement of public opinion depends on our appreciation of the approbation and disapprobation of others; and this appreciation is founded on our sympathy, which it can hardly be doubted was originally developed through Natural Selection as one of the most important elements on the social instincts.

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        Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

        The way I read it Darwin is the laying a theoretical framework that would later morph into Social Darwinism. Not sure if that was intention, but it surely is the way his followers developed it. Your notion of “procreation” fits into that context, but I just don’t see it as much more than fanciful thinking (Darwin, not you). The “savage tribes” were still busy ‘supplanting and exterminating each other’ but thankfully Europe was past that apparently, since they had done enough natural selecting back whenever. I don’t see much about procreating here, just the notion (which seems self-contradictory) that natural selection became volitional for Europeans after some kind of progress was reached. You can see the myth of progress working here as well.

  35. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top

    Robin, is Darwinism based on materialism or transcendentalism? If it is on the former (and according to the New Atheists it can’t be anything but), then why can’t we live like animals? What compells us to be moral? Morality is very much like what what Hitchens said Lucretius said about it: an overcoat worn on a hot, summer day. It completely unnecessary and very destructive.

    As for Darwin somehow abolishing racism because all life originates in one source, that’s never been the issue as far as Christians are concerned. More insidiously, it was never the issue as far as Hitler was concerned. He most definately believed in the common descent of man from primates. It’s just that the process of speciation results in different species being formed (evolution). According to the eugencists, this process is going on right now. According to the best scientists of the early twentieth century, the different races of man were in fact different sub-species. Eugenics was simply a program for weeding out the “unfit.” (Margaret Sanger’s dictum: “more children from the fit, less from the unfit.”)

    And believe it or not, this view (though non-PC) has never gone away and is in fact making a ferocious come-back now that the commissars of PC Darwinism such as Stephen Jay Gould are safely in their graves. See Herrnstein and Murray’s The Bell Curve if you don’t believe me. Gould tried to pour cold water on its findings in his book The Mismeasure of Man but his research was so sloppy and his historical takedowns of the 19th century eugenicists so incorrect that subsequent editions completely omitted several of his key criticisms.

    So my answer to Hitchens and others is: why should we be merciful to the impaired? And the impaired races as well? The Spartans weren’t. No atheist can give me a compelling reason why not. “Just because it’s not right” doesn’t pass evolutionary muster. For our puruposes, it’s not even philosophically satisfying.

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    Rob Z says:

    True atheism is simply the absence of faith and belief, not an ideology unto itself.

    The problem is that certain virulent ideologies seem to take a firmer hold in the minds of those who will not acknowledge the possibility of a law higher than themselves. In other words: genocide is rarely (ever?) done in the name of atheism, but atheism makes it easier for some to use nationalism or racism to engage in genocide. (As humans, it seems we must at some point come to positively embrace one set of beliefs or another.)

    That being said, one’s theology matters. Fundamentalist Islam’s vision of God actually provides to the fringes of that religion’s adherents a reason to engage in the violent overtaking of one’s “enemies”.

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      The problem is that certain virulent ideologies seem to take a firmer hold in the minds of those who will not acknowledge the possibility of a law higher than themselves.

      The problem is that certain virulent ideologies take a firmer hold in sheep who revere lawgivers as higher than themselves and obey them without question.

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      In 27.2.1.1.1, Nick writes:

      I have done extensive course work in general biology, morphology, genetics, evolution, etc.

      In the disciple of evolution, I have always asked, what is the mechanism that caused brows to become gradually sloped and jawbones to become more gradually pronounced, and legs to become gradually longer and body size gradually larger. Reading and re-reading Darwin and others, I have never found an answer because Darwin doesn’t give an answer.

      You took extensive course work in genetics and evolution and they never taught you about genetic mutation? Did you go to Liberty University or something?

      Darwin wrote over 150 years ago, before genetics. You should read a book on evolution from this century.

      The one thing that always troubled me is that there are wide gaps in the archeological fossil evidence.

      Me, I’m surprised how complete the fossil record is. Fossils are pretty uncommon, requiring favorable conditions for preservation, scavengers not getting to the animal first, not getting destroyed by erosion, and so forth. And then there’s the odds of a fossil ever being discovered.

      Many wide gaps should be more of a challenge to creationists. If each gap were due to creation, that would mean there were hundreds of separate creation events widely scattered through time.

      Anyway, we don’t need transitional fossils to demonstrate divergence from a common ancestor, genetic and molecular evidence can provide that.

      The other thing that has always troubled me is what Darwin actually discovered in his trek around the Andes and what he was at a loss to understand. In a lot of instances, he found, in the higher stratas, species from whom it appeared certain more recent species evolved. However, those newer species were in the lower stratas.

      Plate tectonics crumple continental plates to produce mountain ranges like the Andes. It is not uncommon for this to produce faults where rock on one side is thrust up, raising lower rock layers alongside higher ones.

      Robin, have you ever been to the LaBrea Tar Pits in the heart of Los Angeles? I have been there several times for one reason alone. To try to understand how some 10,000-25,000 years ago (depending on whom you ask) a plethora of animals got trapped there at the same time that should not have been there together. Those that should have been extinct with those into whom they evolved. There is no explanation that I am aware of.

      I haven’t been there, but unlike a fossil bed, a tar pit collects remains over a long period of time. La Brea’s fossil deposits began to form 40,000 years ago, towards the end of the Pleistocene. Surely this is explained somewhere in their museum. Didn’t you ask a docent?

      Coal and oil are said to have come from eons of compression of former animal and plant life, respectively, as they sunk deeper and deeper into the bowels of the earth and as more and more layers of surface grew over them. The theory makes a whole lot of sense, until you learn that in many places (Pennsylvania and Colorado, to note a few), the coal is not deep but is near the surface.

      I don’t know about coal geology, but both Pennsylvania and Colorado are mountainous states, so the earth’s crust has been crumpled in both regions. A local geologist would probably be able to explain how the coal ended up near the surface.

      That reminds me of the geode I found in Pennsylvania when I was young, up around Lancaster.

      And, as you know, oil is not evenly distributed around the world. It is most commonly found in areas where little dense flora have been thought to exist over the eons. And deep below the ocean floor in areas where it has always thought to have been ocean, makes me wonder.

      A region’s climate can change a lot over geological time. In the Sahara Desert, dried up riverbeds still exist from when it was wetter region.

      When the ocean was warm and rich in nutrients, organic matter can collect on the ocean floor faster than it can decompose. If it then gets buried under a deposit like shale formed from mud, then heat and pressure can turn it into oil.

      But, I will tell you, I for one cannot take as a blind article of faith the Big Bang, evolution, etc. because the jury is still out in my mind until some gross inconsistencies in the empirical evidence exists. I respect the fact that you do take evolution and the Big Bang as articles of faith.

      As a rule, I don’t take anything on faith. Keep asking questions, and don’t give up too easily in your search for answers.

  37. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Nick Katich says:

    George: I tried to reply but the “Reply” button did not appear under your post to me. So, I’m starting at the end. What amazes me is the fact that there no evidence of absolute efficiency (except one) exists in the universe. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Most of what is out there is violent and cataclysmic. That is all an empiricist in astrophysics can conclude.

    However, my first introduction to the Krebs Citric Acid Cycle left me in utter awe. For those who are reading this and are not familiar with it, it is the first stage in oxygen dependent cells converting carbohydrates into eventually usable simple sugars and carbon dioxide to provide the cells with a usuable form of energy. Simple stated, it is a complex series of chemical reactions that initially reduce a carbohydrate molecule into a precursor of pyruvic acid.

    It is the most perfect (perhaps only) system that exists that virtually is a perpetual motion machine. Each chemical reaction, driven by an enzyme, produces only enough heat (energy loss, so to speak) to drive the next reactions. And this is repeated an incredible amount of times until the pyruvate percusor results, and the next step in metabolism starts. What happens at the end of the Krebs cycle however is not just a loss of enough energy to start the pyruvate cycle but also just enough energy to restart anew the Krebs cycle. Nothing else is lost. Nothing like it exists in the known universe.

    Imagine the probabilities and permutations that would need to occur from the first ACGT precursor to spark the first precursor DNA to the development of the first perfect machine to sustain that life. It would have to be near instantaneous. Otherwise, there would either be no life ab initio because nothing was there to keep the engine going or a violent start of a metabolic process that would burn its object up because the initial excess heat would destroy the precursor protein (don’t need much — a fever could easily kill us).

    There aren’t any minds in creation that I know of that could make this machine and necessarily make it instantaneously. Wow! Nature is awesome.

  38. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top

    In 27.2.1.1.1, Nick writes:

    I have done extensive course work in general biology, morphology, genetics, evolution, etc.

    In the disciple of evolution, I have always asked, what is the mechanism that caused brows to become gradually sloped and jawbones to become more gradually pronounced, and legs to become gradually longer and body size gradually larger. Reading and re-reading Darwin and others, I have never found an answer because Darwin doesn’t give an answer.

    You took extensive course work in genetics and evolution and they never taught you about genetic mutation? Did you go to Liberty University or something?

    Darwin wrote over 150 years ago, before genetics. You should read a book on evolution from this century.

    The one thing that always troubled me is that there are wide gaps in the archeological fossil evidence.

    Me, I’m surprised how complete the fossil record is. Fossils are pretty uncommon, requiring favorable conditions for preservation, scavengers not getting to the animal first, not getting destroyed by erosion, and so forth. And then there’s the odds of a fossil ever being discovered.

    Many wide gaps should be more of a challenge to creationists. If each gap were due to creation, that would mean there were hundreds of separate creation events widely scattered through time.

    Anyway, we don’t need transitional fossils to demonstrate divergence from a common ancestor, genetic and molecular evidence can provide that.

    The other thing that has always troubled me is what Darwin actually discovered in his trek around the Andes and what he was at a loss to understand. In a lot of instances, he found, in the higher stratas, species from whom it appeared certain more recent species evolved. However, those newer species were in the lower stratas.

    Plate tectonics crumple continental plates to produce mountain ranges like the Andes. It is not uncommon for this to produce faults where rock on one side is thrust up, raising lower rock layers alongside higher ones.

    Robin, have you ever been to the LaBrea Tar Pits in the heart of Los Angeles? I have been there several times for one reason alone. To try to understand how some 10,000-25,000 years ago (depending on whom you ask) a plethora of animals got trapped there at the same time that should not have been there together. Those that should have been extinct with those into whom they evolved. There is no explanation that I am aware of.

    I haven’t been there, but unlike a fossil bed, a tar pit collects remains over a long period of time. La Brea’s fossil deposits began to form 40,000 years ago, towards the end of the Pleistocene. Surely this is explained somewhere in their museum. Didn’t you ask a docent?

    Coal and oil are said to have come from eons of compression of former animal and plant life, respectively, as they sunk deeper and deeper into the bowels of the earth and as more and more layers of surface grew over them. The theory makes a whole lot of sense, until you learn that in many places (Pennsylvania and Colorado, to note a few), the coal is not deep but is near the surface.

    I don’t know about coal geology, but both Pennsylvania and Colorado are mountainous states, so the earth’s crust has been crumpled in both regions. A local geologist would probably be able to explain how the coal ended up near the surface.

    That reminds me of the geode I found in Pennsylvania when I was young, up around Lancaster.

    And, as you know, oil is not evenly distributed around the world. It is most commonly found in areas where little dense flora have been thought to exist over the eons. And deep below the ocean floor in areas where it has always thought to have been ocean, makes me wonder.

    A region’s climate can change a lot over geological time. In the Sahara Desert, dried up riverbeds still exist from when it was wetter region.

    When the ocean was warm and rich in nutrients, organic matter can collect on the ocean floor faster than it can decompose. If it then gets buried under a deposit like shale formed from mud, then heat and pressure can turn it into oil.

    But, I will tell you, I for one cannot take as a blind article of faith the Big Bang, evolution, etc. because the jury is still out in my mind until some gross inconsistencies in the empirical evidence exists. I respect the fact that you do take evolution and the Big Bang as articles of faith.

    As a rule, I don’t take anything on faith.

    Keep asking questions, and don’t give up too easily in your search for answers.

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      Nick Katich says:

      Robin: Sorry, I had to take a break. I have been bed-ridden these past few days with a severe knee sprain and I had to get up and move around a litte to prevent a clot. I see that I somehow did something that screwed up the formatting. Sorry, some things somehow got into block quotes that were not your quotes but my responses, but the readers should be able to figure out what is what.

      Anyway, where was I? Oh, yes. You say you do not take anything on blind faith. But you seem to me that you do. First, it seems the issues I raised did not come to your mind. Perhaps it was as a result of not being critical enough of what we are spoon fed as science. No problem. Most are not critical enough.

      I want to maintain an open mind. But before I can accept the so-called moedern scientists beliefs as “Gospel” they have to answer the questions which I raise and many more that I have, which I will share with you if you have the time.

      But, let’s go back to what science is supposed to be and what it is supposed to be based upon that truly distinguishes it from blind or educated faith.

      First, emperical data is gathered. Next, a working hypothesis is developed. Next, the hypothesis is tested by experimentation. Next, if further empirical data is produced, does it fit into the hypothesis. If it fits, it is again tested. If there is no empirical data that exists that cannot be explained, science calls the hypothesis a “Law”. Otherwise, if it does not, the hypothesis is called a “theory”. It is because of the gross inconsistency that Einstein’s and progeny’s macro universe and Planck’s and progeny’s quantum universe propositions are still called theory and not law. Both theories have better footings, foundations and support than what is called the theory of evolution. It is not even a theory until it can answer most of my questions (not necessarily all of the hundred) which I and others have.

      Until it becomes the “Law” of evolution, which no one has yet assigned such a glorious title to, your belief is based on incomplete empirical data, is supposition, and can only be held based on blid faith, impervious to the problem of the unanswered questions.

      After you respond, I would like to discuss why Christianity is based on just as firm an empericalo science as the “hypothesis” of evolution.

      As my Father once said, let’s hold our conclusions in check until we are certain enough to mate theory with Truth.

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        Nick Katich says:

        Robin: (I reformatted this and am reposting it so that your words are in bold and mine are not for easy of reading)

        You took extensive course work in genetics and evolution and they never taught you about genetic mutation? Did you go to Liberty University or something?

        Robin: The Univeristy of Chicago. More Nobel Prizes than the speed of the universe’s expansion. Are we going to be sarcastic or are we going to engage? I wasn’t bragging. I was humbly trying to tell you why, after a scientific background, and not just blind, metaphysical one, I had questions. Is there charity and patience in your response. Mocking is not a high road.

        Darwin wrote over 150 years ago, before genetics. You should read a book on evolution from this century.

        I’ve read maybe more than you. Excuse me, that was not charitable. Then tell me the mechanism. Enlighten me.

        Me, I’m surprised how complete the fossil record is. Fossils are pretty uncommon, requiring favorable, conditions for preservation, scavengers not getting to the animal first, not getting destroyed by erosion, and so forth. And then there’s the odds of a fossil ever being discovered.

        So, you are willing to admit that the record is incomplete and commit to blind faith that it would be but for the conditions that you cite? That kind of science troubles me. I like to think of myself as scientific. Developing theories or speculative hypothesis, when the empirical record is incomplete strikes me as a leap of faith, if I can quote from one of the Indiana Jones movies.

        Many wide gaps should be more of a challenge to creationists. If each gap were due to creation, that would mean there were hundreds of separate creation events widely scattered through time.

        Maybe there were. I don’t know. But you don’t either. But it is hardly scientific to say that my opponent (and I am not one) must explain the inconsistency of the record. But, I only need to accept that the record will be some day explained to conform to my a priori assumptions or beliefs.

        Anyway, we don’t need transitional fossils to demonstrate divergence from a common ancestor, genetic and molecular evidence can provide that.

        I guess we don’t. Our theory must be right — the emperical evidence or lack thereof is just an irrelevant nuisance. I thought science was based on sounder principles than that. Am I missing something. Again, no transition; no matter; Indiana Jones, just take the leap of faith; no worry. You will survive.

        Plate tectonics crumple continental plates to produce mountain ranges like the Andes. It is not uncommon for this to produce faults where rock on one side is thrust up, raising lower rock layers alongside higher ones.

        I don’t know if he knew that or not. He should have because Louis Aggasiz figured that out before. But the problem is that the the empirical evidence does support an upheaval like they teach in Montessori to put your coat on the floor and go up and over to put in on. The inconsistencies occured in the same layers of strata from the same side. That puzzled him. It puzzles me. It doesn’t seem to puzzle those with a preconceived agenda. I’m not talking about you, Robin. I’m talking about the Royal Acedemy and its intellectual successors who dismiss nuisances that get in the way of the theory (agenda) as nuisances.

        I haven’t been there [LaBrea Tar Pits], but unlike a fossil bed, a tar pit collects remains over a long period of time. La Brea’s fossil deposits began to form 40,000 years ago, towards the end of the Pleistocene. Surely this is explained somewhere in their museum. Didn’t you ask a docent.

        Sure did. They all died at the same or near the same time. Go there, yea of certain faith!

        I don’t know about coal geology, but both Pennsylvania and Colorado are mountainous states, so the earth’s crust has been crumpled in both regions. A local geologist would probably be able to explain how the coal ended up near the surface. That reminds me of the geode I found in Pennsylvania when I was young, up around Lancaster.

        Fair enough. But I forgot to mention that below the coal strata, and deep into the mountains, what has been found is fossils of more modern species. And again, the mountains rose. They did not do a 180 degree flip. How in the world can anything but blind faith in what one’s mentor or prior professor previously said cause me to ignore this in order to hold to his faith — or rather, my Fides Receptus, if I could be permitted to digress to my poor Latin.

        A region’s climate can change a lot over geological time. In the Sahara Desert, dried up riverbeds still exist from when it was wetter region.

        When the ocean was warm and rich in nutrients, organic matter can collect on the ocean floor faster than it can decompose. If it then gets buried under a deposit like shale formed from mud, then heat and pressure can turn it into oil.

        Robin, I’m not understand. All this flora growing on the surface and sunk. Or was it somehow transported there from land which was rich in flora. Think about the logistics of getting the flora from where the geological record shows it grew to places quite far a way where the geological record shows it did not or could not have grown. But, more to the point, “organic matter can collect and can decompose and can turn into oil, dosen’t sound like science but “Can-Speculation”. Does that not trouble you?

        I’m going to take a break for a moment and post this so I don’t lose it and finsish it. So don’t respond yet.

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          Nick (38.1/38.2.1, 38.2):

          I have always asked, what is the mechanism that caused brows to become gradually sloped and jawbones to become more gradually pronounced, and legs to become gradually longer and body size gradually larger.

          You took extensive course work in genetics and evolution and they never taught you about genetic mutation? Did you go to Liberty University or something?

          The Univeristy of Chicago. … Are we going to be sarcastic or are we going to engage? … Then twll me the mechanism. Enlighten me.

          I just did. Mutations are the mechanism that caused brows, jawbones, legs, and body size to gradually, heritably change. Natural selection favors beneficial mutations and weeds out harmful mutations. This is Evolution 101. How did you pass your extensive coursework in evolution without learning something so basic?

          Fossils are pretty uncommon, requiring favorable, conditions for preservation, scavengers not getting to the animal first, not getting destroyed by erosion, and so forth. And then there’s the odds of a fossil ever being discovered.

          So, you are willing to admit that the record is incomplete and commit to blind faith that it would be but for the conditions that you cite?

          Other factors too. Small animals are fragile and don’t preserve well. Many species have a small ranges which lessen their chance of being in conditions where fossils form. Fossils can be destroyed by heat and pressure if buried deep undergound. Species move as climates change so transitions don’t occur all in one spot but all over a continent. Places where fewer paleontologists live are less explored (Europe and North America are better explored than Africa). Regional politics can interfere with collecting fossils (ex. China).

          Yes, there are gaps in the fossil record. Evolutionary theory never predicted finely detailed sequences of fossils lasting for millions of years, nor is this a reasonable expectation.

          Anyway, we don’t need transitional fossils to demonstrate divergence from a common ancestor, genetic and molecular evidence can provide that.

          I guess we don’t. Our theory must be right — the emperical evidence or lack thereof is just an irrelevant nuisance.

          Did you stop reading that sentence halfway through? I cited two other lines of empirical evidence that confirm it.

          I’m talking about the Royal Acedemy and its intellectual successors who dismiss nuisances that get in the way of the theory (agenda) as nuisances.

          Again you assume intellectual dishonesty on the part of scientists. Which Royal Academy are you talking about, and why do you think it is driven by an agenda?

          Are you driven by an agenda? Do you oppose evolution as a matter of faith?

          They all died at the same or near the same time. Go there, yea of certain faith!

          Not according to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles’ FAQ:

          When did the animals found at Rancho La Brea live in this region?

          The extinct animals discovered at Rancho La Brea were trapped in the asphalt between 11,000 to 50,000 years ago. They may have lived in the Los Angeles region for much of the last 100,000 years but before that time the Los Angeles Basin was covered by the Pacific Ocean.

          Why are so many fossils found in a single asphalt deposit?

          Individual asphalt deposits are the results of entrapment and accumulation over thousands, and in some cases tens of thousands, of years.

          La Brea sounds interesting. If I ever get out to LA, it’ll be one of my sights to see.

          Coal and oil are said to have come from eons of compression of former animal and plant life, respectively, as they sunk deeper and deeper into the bowels of the earth and as more and more layers of surface grew over them. The theory makes a whole lot of sense, until you learn that in many places (Pennsylvania and Colorado, to note a few), the coal is not deep but is near the surface.

          I spent a half hour reading about coal. Coal is formed of plant material, buried peat deposits from swamps and bogs. Underneath coal beds are found paleosols, fossilized soil horizons filled with plant roots. Most coals form near the surface; often there are trees projecting up through the coal beds, still rooted in the underlying sediment, and consistent with fossil vegetation in the coal itself.

          But, more to the point, “organic matter cancollect and can decompose and can turn into oil, dosen’t sound like sciene but “Can-Speculation”. Does that not trouble you?

          It was in the Science section of the New York Times a few months ago. Here it is— “Tracing Oil Reserves to Their Tiny Origins”, August 2, 2010:

          Today, a principal tenet of geology is that a vast majority of the world’s oil arose not from lumbering beasts on land but tiny organisms at sea. It holds that blizzards of microscopic life fell into the sunless depths over the ages, producing thick sediments that the planet’s inner heat eventually cooked into oil. It is estimated that 95 percent or more of global oil traces its genesis to the sea.

          “It’s the dominant theory,” said David A. Ross, scientist emeritus at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on Cape Cod. The idea, he added, has been verified as geologists have roamed the globe over the decades and repeatedly found that beds of marine sediments are “a good predictor” of where to discover oil.

          Some of the ancestral waters that made the planet’s oil still exist, like the Gulf of Mexico, while others have long vanished, like the ocean that produced the massive oil fields of the Middle East. The bodies come and go because the earth’s crust, through seemingly rigid, actually moves a great deal over geologic time, tearing apart continents and ocean basins and rearranging them like pieces of a giant jigsaw puzzle.

          The secret of the oil story turned out to be understanding how the bygone oceans, ancient seas and smaller bodies of water produced complex environmental conditions that raised the prevalence of microscopic life and ensured its deep burial, producing what eventually became the earth’s main oil reservoirs.

          The clues accumulated over more than a century and included discoveries from geology, chemistry and paleontology. An early indication was that petroleum discoveries were always associated with ancient beds of sedimentary rock — the kind that forms when debris rains down through water for ages and slowly grows into thick seabed layers.

          A breakthrough came in the 1930s. Alfred E. Treibs, a German chemist, discovered that oil harbored the fossil remains of chlorophyll, the compound in plants that helps convert sunlight into chemical energy. The source appeared to be the tiny plants of ancient seas.

          It is not just speculation.

          If there is no empirical data that exists that cannot be explained, science calls the hypothesis a “Law”. Otherwise, if it does not, the hypothesis is called a “theory”…

          Until it becomes the “Law” of evolution, which no one has yet assigned such a glorious title to, your belief is based on incomplete empirical data, is supposition, your belief is based on incomplete empirical data, is supposition, and can only be held based on blid faith…

          No, that’s all wrong. You misunderstand scientific terminology, despite all your science courses.

          A hypothesis becomes a theory after it has been supported by a considerable body of evidence. A theory is an accepted, supported hypothesis, valid as long as it is not disproven by contrary evidence.

          As They Might Be Giants sing in their kids’ song “Science is Real”,

          ♫ A scientific theory
          Isn’t just a hunch or guess
          It’s more like a question
          That’s been put through a lot of tests

          And when a theory emerges
          Consistent with the facts
          The proof is with science
          The truth is with science ♫

          Laws and theories, though used together, are different things with different purposes.

          Scientific laws are describe what happens, an observed regularity among facts.
          Scientific theories explain how something happens.

          For example, the law of gravity describes the rate at which matter is observed to be drawn together. Einstein’s theory of gravity is that this attraction is due to mass causing space-time curvature.

          Hypotheses and theories cannot become laws. Explanations are not descriptions. More evidence for a theory will never turn it into a law, just into a better-supported theory.

          Nick, you repeatedly charge me with relying on faith:

          I for one cannot take as a blind article of faith the Big Bang, evolution, etc. … I respect the fact that you do take evolution and the Big Bang as articles of faith.

          So, you are willing to admit that the record is incomplete and commit to blind faith that it would be but for the conditions that you cite?

          Developing theories or speculative hypothesis, when the empirical record is incomplete strike me as a leap of faith, if I can quote from one of the Indiana Jones movies.

          Go there, yea of certain faith!

          How in the world can anything but blind faith in what one’s mentor or prior professor previously said cause me to ignore this in order to hold to his faith — or rather, my Fides Receptus, if I could be permitted to digress to my poor Latin.

          You say you do not take anything on blind faith. But you seem to me that you do.

          Until it becomes the “Law” of evolution, which no one has yet assigned such a glorious title to, your belief is based on incomplete empirical data, is supposition, and can only be held based on blid faith, impervious to the problem of the unanswered questions.

          Your criticisms imply that the more faith a proposition requires, the less likely it is to be true. It seems ironic to defend your religious faith by criticizing me, incorrectly, for having faith.

          Faith is intellectual laziness unbefitting a seeker of truth. (Matt puts it well on his call‐in show: Faith is an excuse people give themselves to believe things for no good reason.) As he said in the debate (4/9, 12:22),

          …I want to believe as many true things and as few false things as possible. Now there must be, in order for this to be viable at all, a method that provides the most reliable results at discerning this truth, at coming to as many true answers, and as few false answers, as possible. As near as I can tell, reason, the skeptical application of critical thinking, the evaluation of evidence with respect to standards, is the single most demonstrably reliable path to truth.

          I wholeheartedly agree, and so I do not accept beliefs that I cannot rationally justify.

          My trust in the findings of science is not blind faith, but grounded on my understanding of the scientific method and how and why it works, and science’s proven track record of success. Science is reliable. Science works.

          Nick, you repeatedly charge me with relying on faith:

          I for one cannot take as a blind article of faith the Big Bang, evolution, etc. … I respect the fact that you do take evolution and the Big Bang as articles of faith.

          So, you are willing to admit that the record is incomplete and commit to blind faith that it would be but for the conditions that you cite?

          Developing theories or speculative hypothesis, when the empirical record is incomplete strike me as a leap of faith, if I can quote from one of the Indiana Jones movies.

          Go there, yea of certain faith!

          How in the world can anything but blind faith in what one’s mentor or prior professor previously said cause me to ignore this in order to hold to his faith — or rather, my Fides Receptus, if I could be permitted to digress to my poor Latin.

          You say you do not take anything on blind faith. But you seem to me that you do.

          Until it becomes the “Law” of evolution, which no one has yet assigned such a glorious title to, your belief is based on incomplete empirical data, is supposition, and can only be held based on blid faith, impervious to the problem of the unanswered questions.

          Your criticisms imply that the more faith a proposition requires, the less likely it is to be true. It seems ironic to defend your religious faith by criticizing me, incorrectly, for having faith.

          Faith is intellectual laziness unbefitting a seeker of truth. (Matt puts it well on his call‐in show: Faith is an excuse people give themselves to believe things for no good reason.) As he said in the debate (4/9, 12:22),

          …I want to believe as many true things and as few false things as possible. Now there must be, in order for this to be viable at all, a method that provides the most reliable results at discerning this truth, at coming to as many true answers, and as few false answers, as possible. As near as I can tell, reason, the skeptical application of critical thinking, the evaluation of evidence with respect to standards, is the single most demonstrably reliable path to truth.

          I wholeheartedly agree, and so I do not accept beliefs that I cannot rationally justify.

          My trust in the findings of science is not blind faith, but grounded on my understanding of the scientific method and how and why it works, and science’s proven track record of success. Science is reliable. Science works.

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            Michael Bauman says:

            Robin, Nick was not saying at all that relying on faith makes something less true, just remarking on the fact than someone who claims not to rely on faith at all does so extensively. Just one of the many irrational, illogical and inconsistent components of your ‘argument’.

            BTW faith is one of those essential anthropological realities that that your type of empiricism belittles or ignores. In fact, nothing that we do as human beings is possible without faith. Each human being decides in whom or in what to place our faith. Ah, there’s that nasty, nasty word again being Even your favored “I think, therefore I am” syllogism relies on the unexamined presumption of being even as it gets it backwards.

            Any person who claims to have a system of morality has to take being into account. Your snide and categorical refusal to do so invalidates anything you say in the area of morality and leaves you as a mere dependent on the moral insights of others who have taken being into account.

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      George Michalopulos says:

      Robin, in your own coursework, didn’t they teach that that almost all mutations are deleterious? When I took pre-med at a very secular university, that’s what they taught us.

      As for your faith in the “completeness” of the fossil record, that would make you a better scientist than either Darwin or Huxley, his most agressive disciple. Both men were well aware that the fossil record showed no micro-mutational changes in the strata between the different species. Huxley was very worried about that. He implored Darwin to consider adding a little saltation [i.e. macromutational jumbs] to the mix (Latin: saltus).

      Darwin was unconcerned. His reason? He told Huxley, that “given time, the necessary fossils will show up.” That’s not science, that’s faith.

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        Robin, in your own coursework, didn’t they teach that that almost all mutations are deleterious?

        That is incorrect. The vast majority of mutations are neutral. For example, a mutation in your junk DNA has no effect. However, of the remainder, more are harmful than helpful.

        Mutations get filtered through the sieve of natural selection. Those with favorable mutations are more likely to propagate their genes. Those with deleterious mutations are more likely to not to spread their genes.

        As for your faith in the “completeness” of the fossil record

        There are gaps, and to expect every extinct species to have left a fossil is unrealistic. But we are fortunate so many fossils have been preserved, especially fossil sequences with many transitional forms, such as from mesonychid (land mammal with nostrils) to whale (cetacean with blowhole).

        He implored Darwin to consider adding a little saltation [i.e. macromutational jumbs] to the mix (Latin: saltus).

        You exaggerate. Huxley didn’t beg, he told Darwin, “[y]ou have loaded yourself with an unnecessary difficulty in adopting Natura non facit saltum [nature does not make leaps] so unreservedly”. Darwinian gradualism vs saltation was a scientific debate following the publication of Origin of Species, but nowadays saltation is on the scrapheap of incorrect hypotheses.

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          Eliot Ryan says:

          Robin: You got left behind! Evolution is a religion with is own “holy relics” – the fossils.
          EVOLUTION AS SUBVERSIVE SCIENCE

          Evolution demands that most of the bones we find should be transitional bones, but alas, no real uncontested transitional bones have ever been found, and a lot of bones have been discovered since Darwin, upward to the tune of one million or so, and so the fossil evidence is getting thinner all the time. Keep in mind that it was the paleontologists, not pastors, who originally criticized Darwin saying ―show us the bones.‖ But after 150 years or so of digging up fossils, the bone collection is just as disappointing as it was when all the paleontologists first questioned Darwin. What really happened, strangely enough, is that too many theologians were all to ready to compromise with the Hegelian-Darwinian academic juggernaut of the day, and so gradually paleontology followed suit.
          However, paleontology’s original skepticism toward Darwin’s theory has been confirmed.
          Transitional bones have been awfully hard to come by, and what literal handful of bones have been touted as transitionals are highly doubtful. In fact, with regard to all those fossils and bones, the evidence is so bad that Gould had to write a book on the subject explaining why it is okay that no clear transitional bones have been found called Punctuated Equilibrium.

          The Truth taught by the Church is confirmed by the incorrupt and intact holy relics of the Saints that win over the biological corruption. Holy relics “have not received any scientific intervention but they exhibit within them the energy of divine Grace. Because at the moment the corruption of the cellular system begins, it stops automatically, and instead of foul smell, fragrance emanates.”

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          George Michalopulos says:

          Robin, hate to bust your bubble, but there’s no such thing as “junk DNA.” Yet another myth of evolution that is biting the dust. (You know, Haeckl’s embryos, vestigial organs, the peppered moths,etc.)

  39. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Eliot Ryan says:

    Nick:

    To try to understand how some 10,000-25,000 years ago (depending on whom you ask) a plethora of animals got trapped there at the same time that should not have been there together. Those that should have been extinct with those into whom they evolved. There is no explanation that I am aware of.

    Perhaps the universal flood is a good explanation.
    As for the gaps in the creation, shall we start a discussion about our radiometric dating methods?

    Robin claims that “we can’t even prove Christ existed”. Instead, he comes here with his stories of 4.5 billion years cosmic evolution. “Did you take any photos? Shoot any video? Empirical minds want to know.

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      Nick Katich says:

      Eliot: I was too busy exploring the back room collections. As you know, most museums don’t allow photos and they keep a small amount of their collections on display. You have to get special permission to see the non displayed items.

      There are a lot of possible explanations, including the flood. As you know, virtually every culture, including the Chinese and Pre-Columbian Indians have such stories. The Flood had to have been world wide.

      There is a lot of liturature available on what I said both about the Andes and LaBrea. There are other things I have not yet brought up to Robin but hope to. The more I immerse myself in this area, the more I realize that the less we really know.

      I think it would be a good thing to start a thread on “radiometric dating”. That area has always intrigued me. Like most things in the evolution discussion, as well as current geological thinking, there is an underlying assumption, namely, that things have always been as they are. Carbon-14, for example, assumes that the relative levels of Carbon-14 have always been as they are now in the historical period. But cataclysm cannot allow for such an assumption to be valid.

      For example, until we started polluting the atmosphere in the 20th Century, there is an assumption that the levels of CO2 were relatively constant. We know that not to be true when the floral evidence of the dinosaur period, for example, is studdied.

      A little discussed example of recent memory of modern man is this: In 1883, Krakatoa errupted causing approximately 50,000 deaths in Indonesia. It poured into the atmosphere a phenomenal amount of CO2, CO, ash and other things into the atmosphere. Because of the erruptiom, on the Centennial Celebration in Philadephia in 1876, it was so cold on the 4th of July because of the residual junk in the atmosphere world wide, that it snowed a foot in Philadelphia on that day. National Geographic has an article on it in its archives.

      Think of all of the cataclysmic erruptions over time and their effect. Anyone that posits an atmosphere without change over the eons is simply ignorant or doesn’t care that the facts don’t fit the theory. Again, Carbon 14 dating is based on an assumption of unchangeableness.

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        Eliot Ryan says:

        Nick:

        I think it would be a good thing to start a thread on “radiometric dating”.

        No scientific method can prove the age of the earth and the universe. We are arguing about unobserved history. Depending on the assumptions we make, we can obtain any date we like.

        Radioactive decay (radioactive parent elements, daughter elements, half-lives for radioactive elements) and the different techniques employed (counting techniques and mass-spectrometry) to determine the concentrations of isotopes is science.

        Trying to establish the time for a race is impossible without knowing at what time did it start (starting time) and end (present time).
        Radiometric dating technique has a fatal flaw : we have no knowledge about the radioactive elements content when the rock formed (starting time) and we did not monitor the way those elements changed over the entire geological history. Catastrophic events (volcanic eruptions, a global biblical Flood) and possible wide variations in solar activity are ignored (uniformitarian assumptions). Changes in the solar wind and the sun’s magnetic flux can greatly influence the rate of cosmic rays striking the earth’s atmosphere.

        Creation scientists assume the Bible records true history.
        Those interested in preserving the concept of millions-of-years work from assumptions too. They use a false circular reasoning. Evolution is the basis for geologic conclusions while geology is taught as the basic evidence for evolution. They determine the age of the rock layers by the fossils that they contain, and then they turn around and determine the ages assigned to the fossils by the ages of the rock layers that they were found in.

  40. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    cynthia curran says:

    Well, one can prove that Jesus Christ exist even if their were unsual stories about his life. One of Jesus’s contempories the Emperor Augustus had usual stories about his life. One the god Apollo bite his mother when he appeared as a snake and this occurred before Atia gave birth to Augustus-Octivian. This is in Suetonius. Also, Suetonius mention that Jews were during exile during the reign of emperor Claudius because of them facing over Chrestius, either a referance to Jesus Chirst or a slave. The book of acts also mentions about Jews being exiled during this period. Tactius in his Annals mentions about Christ dieding under Pontius Pilate. Both Suetonous and Tactius writing in the early 2nd century.

  41. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top

    Hm, I tried submitting a post 5 times but it hasn’t shown up. And the numbering seems to have gone out of whack, I see four posts numbered “40″.

    • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
      Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

      It had a lot of links so was flagged as spam. I pulled it out of the spam bin and posted it.

      The numbering might be off because we have so many comments in this thread. Not sure if the database has a limit. If it doesn’t self-correct, we will have to start a second thread as a continuation.

  42. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Nick Katich says:

    Robin:

    We have finally got to the core of the issue:

    My trust in the findings of science is not blind faith, but grounded on my understanding of the scientific method and how and why it works, and science’s proven track record of success. Science is reliable. Science works.

    Let us test that “hypothesis”.

    In doing so, I concede that Newtonian physics (gravation, in this case) is a valid tool for NASA to use when launching a man to the moon. However, it breaks down the more macro you get. So, it has got some elements of truth on the scale to which its predictive abilities apply. However, its predictive abilities are greatly circumscribed in the overall grand scheme of things.

    Einstein’s special theory of relativity seems to work better, but its truths are predicated on the empirical observation that bodies of considerable mass (a relative term [pun intented]) do indeed bend light.

    That leads to general relativity. A marvelous theory to which I am intellectually attached because it explains the all of macro physics (sort of). It ultimately posits the expanding universe which, through backward (which is OK) reasoning postulates the Big Bang.

    So, the Big Bang is now the big thing in cosmo physics. However, because an infinitely expanding universe seems to be predicated a one time event with no causal explanation, born is the steady state theory. However, because it intellectually implies creation of energy ex nihilo it comes under sharp criticism. Then background radiation is discovered and Hawkings puts the steady state to a permanent state of repose.

    But now, with further observation, the universe is not expanding as fast as it should under the theories, so, we got to explain that. The only rational explanation is that there must be a lot of dark matter out there (about 25% of the total of all matter) that is not visible or observable. Problem is that dark matter has never once been empirically proven. Then, in order to explain other anamolies, this secret dark matter now has to be postulated as cold dark matter, warm dark matter, hot dark matter.

    What the matter? The theory of the Big Bang must be true. So every time there is a problem, we have to invent something that solves the problem by a sheer act of reason, but with no empirical support. Since I have faith in the underlying theory, I will invent, through the imagination of my mind, a construct which will, at least, keep my faith in the theory alive.

    And having said that, my neighbor Mr. Quantum goes on to show that he is having the same issues, but they are opposite of mine. I say potato but he says, I’m wrong, it is tomato.

    Then comes my other neighbor Mr. String who says, “Guys, I will get you to quit quarreling. My spagetti string proves you both wrong. You can never know; nothing really exists, or rather, it must exist but never is what it appears to be (Heisenberg is ALIVE!). Only the temporary possibility or probably of its existence is possibly probable or probably possible”.

    Me have faith in this? Robin, if you can’t see, then you are blind. You have faith in this method? It looks like a method that we used to have fun with as early teens playing with the young ones — make up the rules as you go.

    George is right = there is no such thing as junk DNA. You are wrong = there is such a thing as junk science (a lot of it); but don’t get me wrong, in many ways, science has a great ability to predict many things. It also has a great ability to be unable to explain (only invent explanations of) many things.

    Ultimately, we are all driven by what we have enough faith to believe in. Most Christians are faith driven (as are most athiests). And, we have the same thing in common. Our faith is also empirically derived. Except our empirical data is more sound (or profound). Want to know how?

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      Nick Katich says:

      Where is Robin??

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        Eliot Ryan says:

        Hopefully he went in earnest search for God!

        I believe atheists display an unreasonable or excessive belief in scientific concepts, like time and gravity. Time is seen as an “almighty” god (lower case g) : given enough time anything can happen. Hence, their 4.6 billion year narrative.
        Two different people can look at the Grand Canyon and reach two completely different conclusions An evolutionist would say that the Grand Canyon was created by the flow of the Colorado River over millions of years. The creationist view is that the grand Canyon is the result of the flood and it took about, let’s say, three weeks.

        Gravity is also an “almighty” god. It is a concept very loosely defined which is responsible for many natural phenomena observed on Earth, in the solar system and the universe. Gravitation causes objects with mass to attract one another, causes dispersed matter to coalesce, thus accounting for the existence of the Earth, the Sun, and the stars. Gravity is responsible for the high pressure and temperature in the interiors of forming stars and in the Sun, triggering fusion reactions to occur naturally in all active stars.

        But what really is gravity? So far I listed what gravity causes: it causes objects with mass to attract one another. What is mass then? In the current theoretical framework of particle physics, the concept of mass is deeply connected to a hypothetical particle called the Higgs boson. The Higgs particle (or mechanism) is the key to understanding the property of mass. It is believed that Higgs is the last piece of the puzzle, remaining to be discovered.

        To make the matter even worse, astrophysics experiments indicate the presence of gravitational forces that seem to come from an unknown type of invisible matter, called dark matter (invisible or nonluminos matter). It is believed that the dark matter accounts for more than 90 percent of the entire mass in the universe. So, what do we know about gravity? That it exists and it is “almighty”.

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      The only rational explanation is that there must be a lot of dark matter out there (about 25% of the total of all matter) that is not visible or observable. Problem is that dark matter has never once been empirically proven.

      No, about 90% of matter is dark matter. You probably misread a different statistic, that the universe is about 25% dark matter.

      The theory of the Big Bang must be true. So every time there is a problem, we have to invent something that solves the problem by a sheer act of reason, but with no empirical support.

      Empirical evidence is what led us to conclude that dark matter is there. It’s still pretty mysterious, though. Early days.

      And having said that, my neighbor Mr. Quantum goes on to show that he is having the same issues, but they are opposite of mine… Then comes my other neighbor Mr. String who says, “Guys, I will get you to quit quarreling. My spagetti string proves you both wrong. You can never know; nothing really exists, or rather, it must exist but never is what it appears to be (Heisenberg is ALIVE!)….

      You seem to grasp the idea of dark matter, but you reveal that your understanding of quantum physics and string theory is as superficial as your understanding of evolution.

      You have faith in this method?

      I have trust in this method. It works.

      George is right = there is no such thing as junk DNA.

      Yes, there is, and creationists dogmatically asserting that junk DNA doesn’t exist won’t change that fact. Very little of your DNA, less than 5%, is functional.

      Ultimately, we are all driven by what we have enough faith to believe in.

      Not all of us. Speak for yourself.

      Our faith is also empirically derived. Except our empirical data is more sound (or profound). Want to know how?

      Seems to me that if you have a belief based on empirical data, then by definition it’s not “faith”. But do tell, what empirical data backs up your religious beliefs? In particular, what evidence do you have specifically for your god, that, for example, a Hindu could not cite for their gods, nor a Pastafarian for the Flying Spaghetti Monster?

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        Nick Katich says:

        Glad to have you back, Robin. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas.

        Robin: “No, about 90% of matter is dark matter. You probably misread a different statistic, that the universe is about 25% dark matter.”

        On the contrary, I did not “read” the wrong statistic. I “know” that the current models, to work, “needs” about 25% of the universe to be dark matter. That leaves about a 65% gap to be explained. If you keep current in the scientific literature, you will discover that about 65% is now posited to be “dark energy”. Of course, it is even more elusive to detect empirically. The only thing that keeps this newly thought up stuff from the realm of mere speculation is the unrelenting faith that, as you put it previously, it is a work in progress. I suppose mystical revelation could also be apropos in idiomatic English.

        Robin: “Empirical evidence is what led us to conclude that dark matter is there. It’s still pretty mysterious, though. Early days.”

        Robin: I challenge you to lay forth on the table the empirical evidence to which you refer. The fact is that the known visible matter was so small that it could not account for the rate of expansion that was believed to be occuring. So, invisible matter had to be postulated. However, when the math didn’t work out properly, dark energy had to be postulated as well. However, now we have another problem: the universe is expanding at different rates. The rates are greater the closer one gets to the perimeter. This is inconsistent with the Big Bang of a uniform primordial source. So, now it is being postulated that gravity is relative and that there is no such thing as a uniform law of gravity. You should look into this stuff: Loop Quantum Gravity, Nonsymetric Gravitional Theory, Modified Newtonian Dyanmics, to name a few. It is incredible, the human imagination, that is. Every problem is solved by new inventions with no resort to empirical analysis.

        Robin: “I have trust in this method. It works.”

        You gotta be kidding! It doesn’t “work”. It exists in the empheral imagination. The closest analogy I can think of to describe it is the shape-shifters prominent in several of the Star Trek scripts.

        Robin: “Yes, there is, and creationists dogmatically asserting that junk DNA doesn’t exist won’t change that fact. Very little of your DNA, less than 5%, is functional.”

        I got a kick out of this one. You accuse my knowledge to be superficial. It may well be, but at least I try to keep up with what is going on. Have you not read in the peer reviewed journals of late that now they are finding out that the 95% of supposed non-functional DNA is alas functional. As an example, the recent Princeton study released last year indicates that the so called non-functional DNA actually regulates how the so called 5% functional DNA actually functions. Go back and get current in this area and then come back and tell me that George is wrong!

        Robin: “You seem to grasp the idea of dark matter, but you reveal that your understanding of quantum physics and string theory is as superficial as your understanding of evolution.”

        Thank you for the compliment. I think however that Green, Schwarz etc. would agree that their knowledge is also superficial in this stage of the theory’s evolution.

        Robin: “Seems to me that if you have a belief based on empirical data, then by definition it’s not “faith”. But do tell, what empirical data backs up your religious beliefs? In particular, what evidence do you have specifically for your god, that, for example, a Hindu could not cite for their gods, nor a Pastafarian for the Flying Spaghetti Monster?”

        “Empirical data”, if I am not mistaken, is data dervied from actual and direct observation. Let’s see. Where do I begin? Oh, yes.

        Michelson ventures out with some mirrors and lantern and observes the light. Based on his observations, he calculates its speed to a remarkable degree of accuracy. I, of course, was not there. But, I know about it because he told me about his observations.

        Darwin takes a long cruise. He observes things. Again, I was not there. But I know about his obsevations and conclusions because he told me about them.

        Einstein thinks through other peoples’ observations who told him about them. He comes up with general relativity. A bunch of guys go out to Africa and South America to view a solar eclipse. They see a star that is behind the sun appearing to be to the side of the sun. It appears that way because the sun bent the light of the star around it and made it visible, thus confiming general relativity’s prediction that gravitation (more accurately, the warp in space caused by the sun) bends light. Alas, I was not there. But I know about it because the guys who saw it told me about it.

        Wow. This is the stuff that science is built upon. Pretty amazing and extremely logical. Observe. Write down what you observed. Others read what you observed and add to it what others observed. And, the edifice keeps on growing. These observational revelations are quite revealing, aren’t they?

        Let’s see. The 12 and the 70 lived with Him. They heard him talk. They saw Him die. After He was ressurected, they ate with Him, touched Him and walked with Him. They observed all these things. Then a guy named Saul who hated him, took a trip up north to put a stop to those being misled by the now 11 and the 70. But, a strange thing happened on the way to Damascus. Saul saw Him. He talked to Saul. And not just on this one occasion, but on several other occasions.

        The 11 and the 70 and Saul told others what they observed. I was not there. But at least 8 of the observers told me what they observed through the books and letters they wrote and left behind. Their observations are just as empirical a data as Michelson’s and Darwin’s.

        There is one difference, though. Most of these observers were willing to and did die in defense of their observations. That’s at least a compelling case that they believed what they observed. No one can be tested more with regard to their veracity than their willingness to die in proof of their veracity.

        Robin: How many atheists do you know that are willing to die in defense of their atheism?

        By the way, when is some Big Bang enthusiast ever going to attempt an explanation of where the so-called primordial mass came from that started the Bang?

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          …there must be a lot of dark matter out there (about 25% of the total of all matter)…

          No, about 90% of matter is dark matter. You probably misread a different statistic, that the universe is about 25% dark matter.

          On the contrary, I did not “read” the wrong statistic.

          Is it so hard to admit you made a minor mistake? 90% of the total of all matter is dark matter, not 25%; 25% of the universe is dark matter.

          I suppose mystical revelation could also be apropos in idiomatic evidence.

          “Mystical revelation” is a poor term for “conjecture based on the best available scientific evidence”.

          The fact is that the known visible matter was so small that it could not account for the rate of expansion that was believed to be occuring.

          The problem isn’t so much missing matter as missing light.

          You accuse my knowledge to be superficial.

          Yes, I do. So far, you have shown yourself to be misinformed about tar pits, about coal beds, about evolutionary theory, about quantum physics, about string theory, and about junk DNA.

          Earlier, you claimed you went to the La Brea Tar Pits several times for “one reason alone”, to understand how animals from different eras got trapped there. Yet despite repeated visits for the sole purpose of finding this out, you failed to learn a simple, basic fact about the Tar Pits which explains it: they accumulated animals over tens of thousands of years. “There is no explanation that I am aware of”, you said, but I’ll bet you $20 if I go there, I’ll come back with a photo of a display or something explaining that very fact, much as the website for the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles did.

          You spoke of your “extensive course work in general biology, morphology, genetics, evolution, etc.”, then showed you lacked even a rudimentary understanding of how evolution works, yet claimed you have “always asked” about it and read and re-read books looking for it. And despite all those science courses, you misunderstand basic science terms like “theory” and “law”, something you should have learned in high school. (I suppose if you earned a degree, you probably would have said “I have a degree in X” rather than “I took lots of courses in X”.)

          So, twice you demonstrated lack of basic knowledge of a subject, while boasting of your extensive search failing to find the basic knowledge you lack. Are you that poor a researcher, or do you just pretend to have studied things you do not comprehend?

          Because it seems like you didn’t try very hard to answer your own questions. You were puzzled why coal is found near the surface in Pennsylvania and Colorado; I learned how coal forms near the surface in half an hour. Why didn’t you?

          Let’s see. The 12 and the 70 lived with Him. They heard him talk. They saw Him die. After He was ressurected, they ate with Him, touched Him and walked with Him. They observed all these things.

          King Louis XI and hundreds of Parisians were eyewitnesses when, as Esmeralda was being led to the gallows, Quasimodo swung down on the bell rope of Notre Dame and swept her off to the sanctuary of the cathedral. A verifiable historical monarch, and an actual historical place, which you can go visit to this day. Just one problem, the eyewitnesses are as fictional as the rest of the story.

          After Jesus died, “And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.” (Matthew 27:52-53) A mass resurrection of the dead, witnessed by “many”!

          So why do no other gospels nor any epistles even mention this grand, impressive miracle? No history books record the day the zombie saints came to Jerusalem and everybody saw them. Nor do we have any books or letters by the zombie saints, recounting their first hand knowledge of the afterlife. You’d think those zombie saints would have had hordes of followers asking them about their experience, and writing about it. But alas, there are no other letters or journals or testimonies from any of the “many”, solely one brief, offhand mention in the Book of Matthew. It’s rather like the author of the Book of Matthew embellished the story, isn’t it?

          Their observations are just as empirical a data as Michelson’s and Darwin’s.

          No, scientific observations are repeatable. You need not take Michelson’s word about his experiment, you can reproduce it. You need not take Darwin’s word about his finches, you can go to the Galapagos and observe them for yourself. Science thrives on verification and peer review. If they had just made it all up, the scientific community would have exposed them as frauds.

          An anthology of books giving contradictory accounts of ancient myths is not remotely comparable.

          Most of these observers were willing to and did die in defense of their observations.

          Only two do in the Bible, Judas (who gets a couple contradictory deaths), and James. Legends of the deaths of the others were invented later.

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            Geo Michalopulos says:

            Robin, if I may jump in here on two points: “junk” DNA and the martyrdom of the Apostles. First, junk DNA does not comport with the economies that we find in physics. There is no wastage in biological systems. Simply physics can’t allow it. The evolution of the 1000s of “superfluous” proteins within cells would negate the evolution of “necessary” proteins. “Junk” DNA is “junk” science. It’s just a weasel-word (like Richard Dawkin’s “meme”) which is invented as a place-holder until something better comes up. In the meantime, the peasants are awed by the Great Professor who seems to have a sense of humor.

            As for the other martyred apostles, no their stories aren’t told in the canonical Gospels –but are often told in the non-canonical gospels. Or are repeated in the Christian communities which they founded. This type of narrative can be considered to be folklore, much the same as the ancient tales of Troy were folklore for the Greek people. These too were discounted until archaeology proved them correct (in the main).

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    Eliot Ryan says:

    Michael:

    I am, however, fascinated with the blind irrationality and purposeful ignorance of those who steadfastly deny the existence of the divine. It is the ultimate vandalism IMO. Horrible and so wasteful; a terrible insanity of self-destruction. I greive for you.

    Confessing upon one’s deathbed
    Excerpt from “Ecce the Confessor – Fr. Arsenie Papacioc

    Another case – which was just as frightful – involved a man who was ill and whom we had hosted at our monastery for three days, to attend the Holy Oil service. His wife had told us about some heavy sins that he had done in his life. For three days, we asked him to confess to whatever confessor he wanted – since we had several of them -, gently and patiently explaining to him that God had left us the power to forgive sins through confession. Yet he would not hear about any of that.

    On the third day, at night, while we were at the Holy Oil service, he started to howl, literally, all of a sudden, saying that these frightful dark creatures were coming to take him away and that he could see his own sins on them. Extremely terrified, he asked us to confess him right away (now he had become wise). So everyone else left the room where we were and in between shrill moanings, all he could say was: “…I have done… I have done…” and he died in my arms.

    I said the forgiveness words more out of a feeling of pity for him, since it had been his last wish – but he was dead. This account was told and retold throughout that region for many years afterwards.

    Now THAT is what doubt does – that guilty lack of faith and self-deception which makes one believe that upon one’s death, there will be no demons and no angels coming for your poor soul. What a source of anguish and fear during one’s last minutes on earth, at a time when peace is so necessary! And what things man does not expose himself to, if death takes him by surprise!

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      Between the lines, I read a different story in Fr. Arsenie’s account. A poor sick old man is pestered by priests for three days to confess his sins before it’s too late, until, as his dying body fails, hallucinations of those sins incarnated torment him (for now he had become delusional). And Fr. Arsenie and his misguided priests who caused such unnecessary anguish shake their heads and feel that they’d tried to spare him from what they hypnotized him into imagining.

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        Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

        Robin, how much experience do you have with sick or dying people?

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        Eliot Ryan says:

        I read a different story in Fr. Arsenie’s account: Terrible is the end of sinners and ungodly. The death of the righteous is different because the angels are coming for his soul ….

        How the smile of Elder Joseph is from eternity

        http://www.impantokratoros.gr/387DDB11.en.aspx

        Those who were at the funeral were blessed to offer their last kiss to the Elder and receive for the last time his blessing. There however, they found themselves face to face not with the cold relics but gazing at a cheerful and joyful face, as if he were offering a smile from eternity. As far as I am concerned, for the first time in my life, I was seeing such a living expression in a dead person (you can observe the face of the Elder in the photos).
        Moreover the elder Joseph suffered from his heart and was greatly tormented by the sickness, so how then did he repose smiling?

        The answer is: NO, he did not repose smiling, but SMILED AFTER HIS REPOSE.

        Elder, it will look ugly this way with his mouth open, what should we do?
        As he is, do not cover his face!
        They stitched the monastic mandya (cloak) as is the custom.
        The whole process to put the mandya and stitch it, took some forty five minutes more. They then cut the material around his face, by order, and they found the elder like at last all see him, smiling.

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          Eliot quotes Panagiotis Koutsou:

          Moreover the elder Joseph suffered from his heart and was greatly tormented by the sickness, so how then did he repose smiling?

          The answer is: NO, he did not repose smiling, but SMILED AFTER HIS REPOSE.

          Many photos of this allegedly “smiling” corpse accompany that article. All I see are slack, horizontal lips with no curved edges, and closed eyes with no contracted corners (and hands across his chest with wrists bound together with a black band to hold them in that pose). Why would anyone imagine that corpse was smiling? Perhaps your credulous poster thought Joseph’s chipmunk cheeks seemed raised, and saw what he wanted to see.

          However, if I went to a funeral and viewed an arranged corpse that, unlike this one, did have smile-like upturned lips and crinkled eyes, my first thought would not be, “it’s a miracle!”, but rather, “what a skilled mortician!”

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            Eliot Ryan says:

            Hi Robin: so, you are still around! I’ve been thinking of you and I was wondering: would it be too difficult for you to say once in a while “God, if you exist, please reveal yourself to me!”? Ι think this does not clash with your principles or your conscience.

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    cynthia curran says:

    Well, mentioning about the flood, recent arechological work and geograhic work show that the Perisan Gulf was once a land mass, and on the shore from the perisian gulf since early sophicated settlement around 7,500 B.C., houses and such. This area may be the area where the four rivers mention in Gensis met each other. In modern times this is impossible since the Perisian Gulf is water now, very closed to anicent Mesopotmia, one of the oldest civilcations that the ancestors of the Jews came from Abraham. Also, the Perian Gulf land mass was destroyed by a massive flood around 8,500 b.c.

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    Eliot Ryan says:

    http://www.halos.com/

    Did you know that scientific evidence abounds to support the biblical accounts of creation and the flood? Were you aware that reports outlining this evidence passed peer review, and were published in the open scientific literature? Have you heard that, decades later, this evidence still stands unrefuted by the scientific community?
    An Overview

    Etched within Earth’s foundation rocks — the granites — are beautiful microspheres of coloration, halos, produced by the radioactive decay of primordial polonium, which is known to have only a fleeting existence.

    The following simple analogy will show how these polonium microspheres — or halos — contradict the evolutionary belief that granites formed as hot magma slowly cooled over millions of years. To the contrary, this analogy demonstrates how these halos provide unambiguous evidence of both an almost instantaneous creation of granites and the young age of the earth.

    A speck of polonium in molten rock can be compared to an Alka-Seltzer dropped into a glass of water. The beginning of effervescence is equated to the moment that polonium atoms began to emit radiactive particles. In molten rock the traces of those radioactive particles would disappear as quickly as the Alka-Seltzer bubbles in water. But if the water were instantly frozen, the bubbles would be preserved. Likewise, polonium halos could have formed only if the rapidly “effervescing” specks of polonium had been instantly encased in solid rock.

    An exceedingly large number of polonium halos are embedded in granites around the world. Just as frozen Alka-Seltzer bubbles would be clear evidence of the quick-freezing of the water, so are these many polonium halos undeniable evidence that a sea of primordial matter quickly “froze” into solid granite. The occurrence of these polonium halos, then, distinctly implies that our earth was formed in a very short time, in complete harmony with the biblical record of creation.
    [...]
    The Academy has vehemently opposed creation science, even claiming that the evidence for creation has been scientifically invalidated. We have repeatedly challenged the Academy to publicly explain where the polonium-halo evidence for creation has ever been scientifically invalidated. For over 15 years, they have refused to even try, for they know that their statement is insupportable when it comes to the polonium-halo evidence.

    We have posted here letters and other documents pertaining to our challenge to the National Academy of Science.

    Evolution Theory Proven False by Scientific Observation – Science and Evidence For Creation – 1

    Evolution Theory Proven False by Scientific Observation – Science and Evidence For Creation – 2

    Evolution Theory Proven False by Scientific Observation – Science and Evidence For Creation – 3

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    Eliot Ryan says:

    Robin, do you ever think that you could be wrong about evolution, your soul, God or Salvation? Why do you keep rejecting these perfectly normal doubtful thoughts? Why do you have absolute trust in the amalgam of your own thoughts? Don’t you realize that you serve the one who hates you?

    Elder Arsenie -On thoughts:

    Reporter: Father, how should we fight thoughts?
    - My dear, we know the devil exists. He really doesn’t like us growing (spiritually) and praying to God, and so he disturbs us. Let me tell you something. I dare to say it: What are we going to do without him (the devil)? You see? They (demons) tempt us, and so we realize who we are. We sacrifice ourselves.

    Look, and old Father wasn’t able to get any sleep. And his disciple was very sad about this. He was traveling with him through the woods. And when night set in, they found a log, and the elder sat down, and fell asleep. His disciple was very happy about this, because he loved his elder. But after a while, a thought came to him:” Now wake him up, and return to the monastery, so you can get some sleep, too”, because he also was entitled to some rest. “Yes”, the disciple said to himself, “but how can I wake him up, now, when he has fallen asleep?” And so he rejected his thought. Some time passed by, and that thought returned, seeming to be right this time …
    ” Yes, but how can I wake him up? He’s sleeping, at last ..” He loved his elder. And the thought came and was rejected like this nine times, before morning.

    And when the Elder woke up in the morning, looked at him very astonished, asked him: “What have you done during this night here?” The disciple replied:”Father, I read Psalms, I prayed, I was happy to see you sleeping”. “Elder :No, no, no … Tell me what special thing have you done this night?” Disciple: I thought about Salvation , I …” “Elder: No, I want to know what thing out of ordinary you have done during this past night, because I can see 9 crowns on your head.”
    You see? Any rejection of these evil spirits is a crown waiting for us. And so, the devil does nothing else, in his irrational malice, but cause us crowns. But we need to have love.
    Reporter: But how can we tell which thoughts are from God and which are from the devil?
    -This is your business. And this is what I’ve been explaining so far. There are commandments; we have so many reference points …I told you, sacrifice. Give something of your own to somebody else! Somebody could be in suffering, and you could cause him a great joy by giving him something. I’m not necessarily speaking about giving alms to a poor person… The main thing he’s asking from you, is to value him, too, to respect him. To not despise him. To become one with him.

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      Robin, do you ever think that you could be wrong about evolution, your soul, God or Salvation?

      Yes. When I thought I had been wrong about my soul, God, and Salvation, I changed my mind about them, because I am open-minded enough to admit that I was wrong about things I had believed all my life. How about you? Would you admit any possibility that you could be wrong about God, and souls, and Salvation?

      Why do you keep rejecting these perfectly normal doubtful thoughts? Why do you have absolute trust in the amalgam of your own thoughts?

      Maybe you should be asking yourself those questions. I’m the one who did listen to my doubts, and didn’t have absolute trust in my beliefs.

      Don’t you realize that you serve the one who hates you?

      Naw, I love myself, most of the time.

      Not impressed by Arsenie’s fable. I don’t believe in the devil or demons either, you know.

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        Geo Michalopulos says:

        Robin, if materialism is true (and that’s what Darwinist evolution is; note: I did not say “evolution”), then why are your thoughts any more cogent than those of us who believe in God? And no, you can’t say because “God doesn’t exist.” That’s a dogmatic statement. By what referent do you maintain belief in such a belief system, especially since in a random universe there can be no independent referents for measuring quanta. One of the great atheists of recent times, Sir Antony Flew, came to change his mind shortly before he died. His last book was titled There Is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind. He goes through all the arguments that he himself posited over 40 years in brilliant works and came to see the logical fallacies within them. Although he did not claim that the God that exists is the God of Israel, but instead Aristotle’s Prime Mover, this was still a cold slap in the face to the the New Atheism.

        In addition, I would direct your thoughts to atheists such as Andre Glucksman, Bernard-Henri Levi, Camille Paglia, and the late Orianna Fallaci. Though these people don’t believe in God, they understand that there is a hole in their philosophy in that they believe in the transcendent. Again, another fallacy which pure materialism cannot explain.

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          Geo:

          One of the great atheists of recent times, Sir Antony Flew, came to change his mind shortly before he died. His last book was titled There is a God. He goes through all the arguments that he himself posited over 40 years in brilliant works and came to see the logical fallacies within them.

          I’ve never read anything by Anthony Flew, though I read an interesting New York Times Magazine article, “The Turning of an Atheist”, about him and that book:

          In “There Is a God,” Flew quotes extensively from a conversation he had with Leftow, a professor at Oxford. So I asked Flew, “Do you know Brian Leftow?”

          “No,” he said. “I don’t think I do.”

          “Do you know the work of the philosopher John Leslie?” Leslie is discussed extensively in the book.

          Flew paused, seeming unsure. “I think he’s quite good.” But he said he did not remember the specifics of Leslie’s work.

          “Have you ever run across the philosopher Paul Davies?” In his book, Flew calls Paul Davies “arguably the most influential contemporary expositor of modern science.”

          “I’m afraid this is a spectacle of my not remembering!”

          He said this with a laugh. When we began the interview, he warned me, with merry self-deprecation, that he suffers from “nominal aphasia,” or the inability to reproduce names. But he forgot more than names. He didn’t remember talking with Paul Kurtz about his introduction to “God and Philosophy” just two years ago. There were words in his book, like “abiogenesis,” that now he could not define. When I asked about Gary Habermas, who told me that he and Flew had been friends for 22 years and exchanged “dozens” of letters, Flew said, “He and I met at a debate, I think.” I pointed out to him that in his earlier philosophical work he argued that the mere concept of God was incoherent, so if he was now a theist, he must reject huge chunks of his old philosophy. “Yes, maybe there’s a major inconsistency there,” he said, seeming grateful for my insight. And he seemed generally uninterested in the content of his book — he spent far more time talking about the dangers of unchecked Muslim immigration and his embrace of the anti-E.U. United Kingdom Independence Party.

          As he himself conceded, he had not written his book.

          “This is really Roy’s doing,” he said, before I had even figured out a polite way to ask. “He showed it to me, and I said O.K. I’m too old for this kind of work!”

          When I asked Varghese, he freely admitted that the book was his idea and that he had done all the original writing for it. But he made the book sound like more of a joint effort — slightly more, anyway. “There was stuff he had written before, and some of that was adapted to this,” Varghese said. “There is stuff he’d written to me in correspondence, and I organized a lot of it. And I had interviews with him. So those three elements went into it. Oh, and I exposed him to certain authors and got his views on them. We pulled it together. And then to make it more reader-friendly, HarperCollins had a more popular author go through it.”

          I then asked DiTiberio if it was ethical to publish a book under Flew’s name that cites sources Flew doesn’t know well enough to discuss. “I see your struggle and confusion,” she said, but she maintained that the book is an accurate presentation of Flew’s views. “I don’t think Tony would have allowed us to put in anything he was not comfortable with or familiar with,” she said. “I mean, it is hard to tell at this point how much is him getting older. In my communications with him, there are times you have to say things a couple times. I’m not sure what that is. I wish I could tell you more. . . We were hindered by the fact that he is older, but it would do the world a disservice not to have the book out there, regardless of how it was made.”

          Critics say Flew went a bit senile and was bamboozled into lending his name to a book ghostwritten by an apologist, uncritically describing recent poor modern theistic arguments like the “fine tuning” argument, which doesn’t jibe with your description of its contents:

          He goes through all the arguments that he himself posited over 40 years in brilliant works and came to see the logical fallacies within them.

          If, as you say, all of Flew’s arguments over 40 years contained “logical fallacies”, why do you describe Flew as “great” and his work as “brilliant”? By your characterization, “There Is a God” exposes Flew’s entire corpus as rubbish. I wouldn’t know myself, having read neither Flew’s “brilliant works” of his heyday nor his ghostwritten book of his dotage.

          Though these people don’t believe in God, they understand that there is a hole in their philosophy in that they believe in the transcendent. Again, another fallacy which pure materialism cannot explain.

          What fallacy is that, and what’s inexplicable? Synapses fire in our material brains producing transcendent ideas. For example, 2 is a transcendent abstraction we can draw from any pairs of material things from apples to asteroids. Physically, 2 is an electrochemical pattern in your brain. Both of us have been taught a complex collection of transcendent abstractions we call language, through which we can communicate by shared labels like “2″. There’s nothing supernatural about any of this. It’s all physics.

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    Eliot Ryan says:

    Robin:

    … but you reveal that your understanding of quantum physics and string theory is as superficial as your understanding of evolution.

    And I suppose you understand everything about quantum mechanics, string theory or relativity? My guess is that your understanding is merely relative admiration for these various theories. The authors of these theories themselves admitted that we know very little.
    “My religiosity consists in a humble admiration of the infinitely superior spirit that reveals itself in the little that we, with our weak and transitory understanding, can comprehend of reality.”
    -Albert Einstein

    What we know here is very little, but what we are ignorant of is immense.
    – Pierre Simon Laplace

    What do we have on the other side? We have eyes to see the hand of the Creator in everything around us: the beauty of the universe, the sun hanging in the sky, the fruits and beautiful flowers and the perfume of lilies and roses.

    There is plenty of scientific evidence to support the biblical accounts of creation and the flood. See: http://www.halos.com/

    We have the Holy Tradition which is the teaching of the Church, God-given with a living voice, from which a portion was later written down.

    And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written. John 21:25

    Finally, as Fr. Hans said “In historical terms, that testimony of the twelve men known as the Apostles and then in the lives of others was so powerful it that became the foundation of an entire new civilization.”

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    Eliot Ryan says:

    Fr. Andrew Phillips:

    Have you read the Greek Elder Porphyrios? He reposed in 1991. His Life, in the book ‘Wounded by Love‘ is very good and he talks about many of the problems you ask about. He says that words are wasted with atheists, rather we should pray for them, because though we cannot touch their minds, but we can touch their hearts. Generally, all these atheists are talking about themselves when they talk about the absence of God. They simply express their personal subjective truth (that their souls are empty) in an objective way and try to generalize their experience. In other words, there is no theology, or even philosophy here, it is just their own ill or deficient psychology, which is what atheism is.

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      Never heard of him. From your description, he sounds frustrated at not having anything persuasive to say to atheists, but rather than admit he can’t give them a good reason to believe, he gives up and decides it’s because they’re broken somehow. If he’s got nothing to say to me, he doesn’t seem worth my time.

      Feel free to take Porphyrios’ advice and ask your invisible friend to touch my heart. It’ll have as much effect as asking a lucky horseshoe, though.

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        Eliot Ryan says:

        Thank you Robin. Atheists are mostly offended by prayer. I don’t blame you for claiming you don’t believe in God. It is “normal”: students today are only being shown one theory of the origin of the universe; textbooks contain many lies used to make the students believe in the evolution theory. We did not receive an education; we have been indoctrinated. Many people believe in evolution because “it is in the books”.

        Do not underestimate the power of prayer. You are correct about our inability to live a life of deep prayer and union with God.
        Elder Porphyrios

        Man has such powers that he can transmit good or evil to his environment. These matters are very delicate. Great care is needed. We need to see everything in a positive frame of mind. We mustn’t think anything evil about others. Even a simple glance or a sigh influences those around us. And even the slightest anger or indignation does harm. We need to have goodness and love in our soul and to transmit these things.

        We need to be careful not to harbour any resentment against those who harm us, but rather to pray for them with love. Whatever any of our fellow men does, we should never think evil of him. We need always to have thoughts of love and always to think good of others. Look at Saint Stephen the first martyr. He prayed, Lord, do not hold this sin against them. [1] We need to do the same.

        Indeed, it does not work to pray for the devil. God loves you more than the devil hates you. You are a fine man, perhaps fairly good looking, in your mid thirties, happily engaged but not married. You have plenty of time to turn to God.

        Elder Paisios used to pray for the Devil, until one day Elder Paisios saw him laughing outside in a distance from his cell and I think ridiculing the Elder. From that day the Elder stopped praying for the repentance of the Devil, since he understood that it was futile.

        Yes, the demon was making funny faces and mocking a monk who prayed to God to save the devil and his demons. The monk realized that God would save the devil if only the devil and his demons would repent.

        Christians however, try to get up when they fall into a bottomless pit of sins. God sees this and that is why He will find any excuse to save His people, for God does not wish to destroy His creation but to save it. And any act of repentance among His people,the Lord Jesus Christ will use as a means to justify in front of His Heavenly Father and remit the sins of even the worst and wretched sinners. And this is why many Saints and Fathers tell us that many people are saved on their deathbeds.

        http://www.monachos.net/forum/archive/index.php/t-4571.html

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    Eliot Ryan says:

    Nick:

    Robin: How many atheists do you know that are willing to die in defense of their atheism?

    This is what the atheist cannot or does not want to comprehend:
    Starting with the Holy Apostles (except John, the only Apostle to have died of old age) who were martyred for their faith and their testimony about Jesus Christ, millions of true Christians throughout history sealed their testimony with their own lives.
    Innumerable miracles have taken place demonstrating the supernatural power of God over nature and evil forces. Everyone knows and is amazed at the many miracles that our Savior did, yet He did not save the world through the great miracles that He did, but through His sacrifice on the Cross! Without sacrifice, nothing is possible, no matter where we are!”

    There are two kinds of people in this world: those that choose to follow a path through life according to their own feelings and their own truths, oftentimes mixed in with the worst sort of muddled pragmatism. Others choose to walk in truth.
    To this day, there are many, many who walk the spiritual path even if that means to sacrifice themselves.
    We Should Tell the Truth Come What May

    We should be prepared for the moment of our death by the way in which we lead our lives here, so that we can give a good answer at the Last Judgment. And through the courage of our confession, we should tell the truth, come what may. I have listened to him, which is why I was put in prison.

    - Were you ready to die?

    - Yes. I am now, too.

    On miracles:

    After that, the commander ordered his servants to stone the holy martyrs. While the servants were hurling stones at the Christians, the stones turned and fell back on the servants, severely striking them. One of the stones struck the commander’s face and knocked out his teeth. The torturers, angry as wild beasts, bound all of the holy martyrs and tossed them into the lake and stationed a guard around it so as to prevent any of them from escaping. There was a terrible frost and the lake froze around the bodies of the martyrs. So that their pain and suffering would be worsened, and in order to persuade one of them to deny Christ and acknowledge the idols of Rome, the torturers heated a bath by the side of the lake in sight of the frozen martyrs. Indeed, one of them was persuaded. He came out of the water and entered the bath. And behold, an extraordinary light appeared from heaven which warmed the water in the lake and the bodies of the martyrs. With that light, thirty-nine wreaths descended from heaven over their heads. Upon seeing this, a guard on the shore removed all his clothes, confessed the Name of the Lord Jesus and entered the lake so that he could become worthy of the fortieth wreath in place of the betrayer. Indeed, the last wreath descended upon him. The next day the entire town was astonished when they saw that the martyrs were still alive.

    Then, the wicked judges ordered that the lower part of their legs be broken and their bodies thrown into the water so Christians could not recover them. On the third day the martyrs appeared to Peter, the local bishop, and summoned him to gather their relics and remove them from the water The bishop with his clergy went out into the dark of night and beheld the relics of the martyrs shining brightly in the water. Every bone which was separated from their bodies floated to the top and glowed like a candle.

    Elder Arsenios – On Suffering

    Humbleness – Suffering – Sacrifice: Our salvation is solely on the Cross!

    The most beautiful crowns in God’s Kingdom are those when one suffers willingly!
    We should not ask like beggars continuously, without giving anything. It is said that God dwells in the glory of heavens! You realize what this means?!
    And yet He will indulge in dwelling in a humble heart! This is why we say: “Dress yourself with genuine humility and you will surely conquer the heavens!” The Christian teaching holds true everywhere, but, no matter what, we should have a continuous relationship with God. Each of us can have this relationship, to a greater or lesser degree. Do you know that not one hair shall move without His will? These are not my words, they are His! Even the very hairs of your head are numbered!
    So, everything happens to us so that we become more aware, so that we improve ourselves, so that we understand the most beautiful and genuine meanings of love above all. The purpose of suffering is not reached if it is prescribed as a mere therapy, so to speak, if we do not benefit from it.
    Do not think that God holds an axe in His hand and lies in wait for our sin and Bam! How relieved in their spiritual life would people be if they only knew how much God loves us! As Origen also says, ” God loves us more than the devil hates us.” Consequently, man must become wiser by any means! As Apostle Paul says, the suffering of this world is so negligible compared to the suffering that will be revealed to us! God gently warns us through illness, through anything that you can possibly imagine so that we become better because, no matter how good you are, you are not good enough!
    Besides the sins that we know of, there is a whole different category of sins unknown to the people, the so called “sins of lacking”: the good that you can do but you don’t do. So many opportunities when you could have done what’s right but you missed the chance. This is already a state of sin, a lack of perfection that troubles us. And God, through any means, through suffering … It is through suffering that man is able to get through to himself more effectively than in any other way, to know himself, to compare himself to others, to understand this is a divine commandment that we cannot avoid and which applies to each and every one of us. Suffering brings us the opportunity to purify ourselves at all costs. We get to know ourselves so that we can overcome ourselves, which is the greatest triumph!

    I was asked by many about the time that I spent in jail and as a hermit: “There was no miracle?” I replied: ” No miracle. Well, mybe sometimes …” ” What, what miracle?” I said: “What miracle? I lived in fridges, I starved for years on end, my body like a skeleton. I lived in the wilderness with the wolves grinning at me from 10 meters away, grinning as in eating, not just biting. With only the sky as roof… I understood the voice of woods, our close brother! The woods were the only mean of defense … A muted voice, understood only through an elevated spiritual life! The fact that I am still alive after so much suffering, isn’t that a miracle?? Although it was terrible, I thank God for the suffering! It was a great blessing from God. Believe me, I was a refined, cultured person, I played sports and I was quite good at it, the papers nicknamed me the Blonde Panther. However, nothing was more useful to me than the suffering, the cross! Suffering prompted me to know myself and near the ultimate Force and it enabled me to see that God Is the One Who Is in every moment of our journey, our motion…Our motion with wings or … wheels!
    We, as Christians, go beyond admiring the stars – we touch them. It’s said, and it’s definitely true, with reason, that: “The humble shall move the stars.” That great of a power man has! Man being not a god, but but godlike, that means a created god. God entrusted man with great responsibility of watching over the whole creation. Man is the only possible link between God and His creation! Christ made man in such a way it become obvious that man is beyond other creations, beyond all creation. He spoke and the creation was made. Man, however, was sculpted, made in His image and after His likeness. Christ brought us more than Adam lost for us, He enabled us to rise to God through grace!
    You con realize the motion, the wisdom, the wonderful revelations that revolve around man. “Being a man is a great art.” a Romanian proverb goes. We discuss here the man who is indisputably honest and who is willing to fulfill this quality of being a man. Where there is longing for eternity, for the great and eternal values, there must also be heroism and a desire for sacrifice. Because nothing is possible without sacrifice! Everyone knows and is amazed at the many miracles that our Savior did. Everyone knows and is amazed at the many miracles that our Savior did. He raised the dead as easily as saying “go home”! For instance, the man blind from birth was made to see … And yet he did not save the world through the great miracles that He did, but through His sacrifice on the Cross! The Savior was on the Cross and Satan was wailing, at sacrifice! Without sacrifice, nothing is possible, no matter where we are! Our Holy Fathers, Theodore the Studite especially tell us that he who runs away from sacrifice, runs away from God! As He wanted to cross the Lake of Gennesaret, the Savior told the Apostles to pass over unto the other side and he went to sleep on the ship. Meanwhile, large waves threatened the ship. As written in the New Testament, the disciples cried unto Him: “Master, carest thou not that we perish?” He awake and rebuked them: “you already saw yourselves, together with me, at the bottom of the sea! And you pronounced Me God and the like … Wasn’t I right when I told you to come this way? I was right, but you weren’t expecting any waves. You wanted no sacrifice? No cross? No struggle? You wanted everything without heroism?!” Not without efforts! We have to always prepare ourselves, to know how to sacrifice ourselves! You cannot have a position, an identity if you don’t know how to sacrifice yourself. You should always be a hero, not a beggar! You should not ask” “God give me!”, endlessly, but you should be always a hero. We don’t have to roam on Earth, to know special people and to be in extraordinary situations. You have to know yourself because we barely know ourselves! You have a great enormous responsibility because you are a microcosm reflecting a macrocosm, the whole world.

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      Eliot:

      Nick:

      Robin: How many atheists do you know that are willing to die in defense of their atheism?

      …martyred for their faith…their own lives…holy martyrs…holy martyrs…martyrs…frozen martyrs…martyrs…martyrs…martyrs…

      So, your argument is “If someone martyrs themselves for their beliefs, their beliefs are true”?

      19 adherents of Wahabi Islam flew planes into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, certain in their faith that Allah will reward them in heaven, with 80,000 servants and 72 virgins and endless wine that doesn’t make you drunk. They wouldn’t have died for a lie, surely. The evidence is clear! There is no god but Allah, and Mohammad is his prophet!

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        Michael Bauman says:

        All: Robin is right in one respect. A willingness to die for a belief is just that–a willingness to die for a belief. Such willingness can, and often does come from pure ego, i.e self-will to glorify themselves. Such a death is not a path to salvation, but a path to perdition.

        The teaching of the Church is that martrydom is not about death at all really (the word means witness), it is about transformation and the fruit produced. A true marytr must willing give himself up for the life of the world out of love, just as did Christ. The martyr must die loving his enemies, those that kill him/her. “….forgive them Father for they know not what they do”

        No Islamic ‘marytr’ can qualify. Many Christians who do not suffer a heroic death can.

        Here is one account of a true marytric approach: http://silouanthompson.net/2009/12/with-my-own-eyes/

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          Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

          And then there is the atheist historical problem: Atheism provides a rationale to kill others in the name of ideology (Nazism, Communism, etc.). Your definition shows that Muslim “martyrs” (those who kill themselves in order to kill others) is very close to the atheist social dynamic. The ideological atheist however, at least maintains the will to live. (Caveat: Not all atheists are ideologues of course.)

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            Hans:

            Atheism provides a rationale to kill others in the name of ideology (Nazism, Communism, etc.).

            There you go again. Atheism provides no rationale for anything. There is no rationale that can get you from “I don’t believe in gods” to “I should kill people.” And as a token refutation of your repeated Holocaust revisionism: Naziism was a Christian ideology. Shame on you, Hans, for blaming the Holocaust on its victims.

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        Scott Pennington says:

        Robin,

        At the risk of being accused of giving aid and comfort to the enemy, I will say this: I don’t think there is anything you would perceive about the world that would necessarily lead you to a belief in God. And, if you were persuaded by the order in nature that there must be an Orderer, you would not really have any reason to believe in a moral Orderer in any case.

        I have always been suspicious of proofs for God or for arguments for His existence. I’m a lawyer and could always see holes in the arguments or make a strong argument, if I wished, for the opposite proposition.

        Not having myself witnessed what one might call a miracle (in the sense of a divine intervention which clearly abrogates the laws of nature) I have to confess that I believe in God because I have felt him from an early age. I can’t explain it but, even when my mind could not accept the existence of God, I knew He was there.

        If I interact with another human being, but simply treat them as a material object to be used for my gratification, then I am not appreciating their humanity. There is a recognition of personhood, a personal relationship, which (healthy) humans have with one another. It is that same sense of recognition of personhood in the reality behind material reality, I suppose, which I have always felt which leads me to believe in God.

        There are many reasons to be pessimistic in life. Sometimes things do turn out for the worst. Very often, the crises and bad things we invent as boogiemen in our minds never come to pass. If a child truly believed it could never walk, it wouldn’t. Believing is a kind of trust. But this trust is actually quite powerful in its consequences. It can raise you to the limits of your physical and mental abilities, beyond where you thought you could go.

        If there were no God and no afterlife, human beings would have to invent one. They would have to invent one in order to draw the courage to face their existential anxiety. No one knows for sure if God or the afterlife exist. I did not know before I could walk that I could. I did not know that I could become a lawyer and develop a practice. I do not know if I can grow old gracefully, but I believe I can. I do not know if I can face my last years, if I am granted a long life, gracefully given the everpresent fact that I could die at any moment. But we all could die at any moment, we live with this by dismissing the possibility as highly improbable. Later in life, it gets more probable. In times of war or violence, it gets more probable as well. Courage is hard to come by for many.

        Death seems to many to be a “dead end”. Science can only tell us what happens to our material bodies. It does not presume to detect or measure the soul. One can assume that human experience ends at the death of the body, but this is an assumption. Science has evolved greatly over the centuries and millenia. I see no more reason to place the final say on life after death, the soul, or God in this generation of scientists as opposed to the early “scientists” of the ancient Greeks.

        In the end, it is better to judge the utility of belief in God, or in this or that particular faith, than to presume that the final authority on objective reality is the scientific consensus of this age as opposed to a thousand years ago or a thousand years from now.

        It is risky to believe, but it is also rewarding. We are always in the position of ultimately not knowing. Ptolemaic astronomy is outdated, as will ours be one day. Scientists centuries in the future will amuse themselves at the mistakenness of theories we assume to be laws. Some things are important enough to believe without direct, immediate evidence.

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          Michael Bauman says:

          Scott, if there were no continuation of life, therefore no God with us, we would be wholly different beings unable to conceive of such a concept. We intuit what is actually there.

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            Scott Pennington says:

            I doubt that. There are neither Aesir nor Amitabha Buddhas. Human beings do have a fantastic capacity for imagination. That does not mean that anything we can imagine is actually real. Really, proofs for God strike me as being not only not persuasive but as actually tending to turn off thinking people.

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          Scott,

          I may not agree with your beliefs, but I respect that you have the intellectual honesty to admit that no one knows for sure that God exists, and that arguments for God you have heard have holes. You seem to respect the truth too much to overstate your case, which is admirable.

          If there were no God and no afterlife, human beings would have to invent one. They would have to invent one in order to draw the courage to face their existential anxiety. … Courage is hard to come by for many.

          Indeed, human beings have invented multitudes of gods and afterlives. Many people may rely on religion to draw courage; others put aside their crutches and face their existential anxiety on their own two feet. I’ll take a uncomfortable truth over a comforting lie any day. And I think you, too, can find in yourself the courage to face that this life is the only one we know we are going to get, so we must make the most of it.

          Science can only tell us what happens to our material bodies. It does not presume to detect or measure the soul.

          Funny story: in 1907, a physician named Dr. Duncan MacDougall tried to measure the weight of a human soul. He observed people before, during, and after death, measuring their changes in weight. Although his methodology was flawed and his measurements of post-mortem weight loss varied considerably, since his first test subject lost three-quarters of an ounce, there is a pseudoscientific maxim in some circles that the soul weighs 21 grams.

          If souls have a measurable impact on the universe, then science can presume to measure that impact.

          I see no more reason to place the final say on life after death, the soul, or God in this generation of scientists as opposed to the early “scientists” of the ancient Greeks.

          Until there is good evidence of life after death, the soul, or God, I see no reason to believe in them. What is asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence. Without evidence, you have no case.

          In the end, it is better to judge the utility of belief in God, or in this or that particular faith, than to presume that the final authority on objective reality is the scientific consensus of this age as opposed to a thousand years ago or a thousand years from now.

          So, if I understand you correctly, you think it is better for your beliefs to be useful, than for your beliefs to be correct.

          Like, when a terminal patient asks their doctor what their chances of recovery are, a doctor might lie that their prognosis is good, because it is more useful to their recovery to give them false hope than give them truth.

          Scientists centuries in the future will amuse themselves at the mistakenness of theories we assume to be laws.

          Science’s dustbin of discarded hypotheses grows ever fuller, and our present’s discards may seem as silly to future eyes, as past discards like Lamarckism seem to us. Don’t confuse scientific theories and scientific laws, though, they are different things with different purposes; I explain this in another comment here.

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            Scott Pennington says:

            Robin,

            “Many people may rely on religion to draw courage; others put aside their crutches and face their existential anxiety on their own two feet. I’ll take a uncomfortable truth over a comforting lie any day. And I think you, too, can find in yourself the courage to face that this life is the only one we know we are going to get, so we must make the most of it.”

            Yes, but thereby you place yourself at a disadvantage. Neither of us knows whether God exists. You choose not to believe in Him because you find no evidence to do so (a kind of Occam’s razor approach). I choose to believe in Him not because of evidence (at least primarily) but because of the utility of the belief. I do not look at God as a scientific proposition or theory to be proven or disproven.

            Much of success in life, whether spiritual, emotional, financial, etc., depends on emotional managment – - summoning and retaining hope, motivation and an attitude that cannot be dissuaded by challenges and obstacles. I choose to put more emphasis on the fact that I don’t know that there is not a God. Thus I can take advantage of the benefits of theism. Essentially, given no direct evidence at all regarding God or the afterlife, I choose to be optimistic regarding it and feel rewarded in my emotional attitude toward life, death and eternity. If I am wrong, I certainly will never know it.

            One of the most insightful sayings in all of religion comes from Cha’an Buddhism (the Chinese counterpart of Zen). A teacher named Mo-tzu was approached by one of his disciples who asked him, “Why do you teach that mind is Buddha?”. He replied, “To keep a baby from crying”.

            Now, I’m not saying that I know that “Mind is Buddha” (or perhaps the Christian equivalent, “God is the source of Grace”) and I’m not saying that I know that, “Mind is not Buddha”; what I am saying is that it is impossible to know the truth of the matter and that teaching that “Mind is Buddha” does keep the baby from crying.

            In materialistic terms, or in terms of academic logic, I have to proof, evidence or case for the proposition that there is a God; nor do I know of any evidence that negates this proposition. That is why I suggested that theism is a proposition that really should not be decided based on materiality but utility.

            “So, if I understand you correctly, you think it is better for your beliefs to be useful, than for your beliefs to be correct.”

            Not exactly. What I am saying is that the only way to know whether there is a God and an afterlife is to die. Either you will experience an afterlife and God or you will experience nothing. You take on faith that the latter is the truth. I take on the evidence that I don’t know and that it is impossible to know in this life. Correctness is not possible. There is no verification. In the absence of verifiable knowledge, because of its utility, and because of “intuition”, I choose to believe in God.

            Incidentally, Robin, you will not find any harsh condemnation of your views or reasoning coming from me. I sympathize with your point of view and believe that you are sincere in your convictions and are discussing these matters in good faith. I am amused by the whole discussion regarding evolution as well. Before I first came on this site, I had never met nor read anything by any Orthodox writer that denied the basic theory behind evolution. In Fr. Seraphim Slobodskoy’s book, The Law of God, which is widely used as a catechism in the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (one of the most conservative jurisdictions in this country) the author is very candid about the “days” mentioned in Genesis being undefined periods of time or eras and states that “days” are used in this way in other places in the Bible and in the Fathers.

            I also am skeptical of the whole thesis that atheism necessarily leads to mass murder in the vein of Stalin or Hitler. It all depends on what the atheist or group of atheists decides to believe regarding morality. I would say that religion does have the advantage of providing a fixed standard of morality that endures over generations, regardless of whether its adherents follow that standard. At least it is a reminder that can be revived if it falls into disregard. That seems better to me that depending on any – - and I do mean any – - moral framework that any particular atheist comes up with and can convince others to enact. Nonetheless, I am sure there are many atheists whose moral views, apart from their atheism, are superior to those of some theists.

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    Eliot Ryan says:

    Robin:

    There is no rationale that can get you from “I don’t believe in gods” to “I should kill people.” And as a token refutation of your repeated Holocaust revisionism: Naziism was a Christian ideology.

    Robin: There is rampant and persistent confusion in your mind!
    Atheists constantly accuse Christianity of being made up of bloody people, hypocritical in their teachings of love and kindness.
    Pagan and atheistic societies have killed far more people (mainly Christians) than more than several of the major religions combined.
    Your analysis should go much deeper than you’ve shown so far.
    The rot started a few centuries ago with the age of great spiritual darkness, called ‘the Enlightenment’. The West proclaimed: “God is dead”; “There is no God, therefore I am”. Atheism developed in two different forms: first came the Communism, exported to Russia, proclaiming: “I hate God”. Then came the fratricide of Fascism: “I hate other men”. These views are totally anti-Christian. The Nazis were fundamentally anti-Christian while devout Christians were anti-Nazi. How is our atheism different than the “old” atheism? Can you predict how will it develop after you are gone?

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      Atheists constantly accuse Christianity of being made up of bloody people, hypocritical in their teachings of love and kindness.

      I wasn’t a bloody hypocrite when I was a Christian, but you can’t deny Christianity has a lot of hypocrites. For example, those who backed Proposition 8 in California to break up same sex marriages (predominantly Mormons) were huge hypocrites.

      Pagan and atheistic societies have killed far more people (mainly Christians) than more than several of the major religions combined.

      I don’t think you can back up that groundless charge. The Third Reich alone adds some 60 million to Christian societies’ death toll just for openers, without even delving into the holy wars of antiquity.

      Atheism developed in two different forms: first came the Communism, exported to Russia, proclaiming: “I hate God”.

      That would make Communism theistic, undermining your ‘argument’.

      How is our atheism different than the “old” atheism? Can you predict how will it develop after you are gone?

      I can try. In future generations, religion’s attrition will continue, until in industrialized societies, gods are mostly irrelevant fringe beliefs, sort of like astrology today. Religious holidays which were proclaimed national holidays will grow almost entirely secularized, like Halloween already has, and Easter and Christmas are becoming. In the future, the word “atheist” will fade from use, because atheism will be normal, unworthy of note, like being an “afairyist”.

      And human nature being what it is, there will still be dogmas, and prejudices, and wars. People just won’t justify them with gods so much. Because that
      would sound silly.

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        Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

        How is our atheism different than the “old” atheism? Can you predict how will it develop after you are gone?

        Actually yes, if you use Nietzsche as a guide. He says the next century will be worse than the last. Sorry, but I can’t find the source.

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        Eliot Ryan says:

        Robin: Communism is the supreme atheistic government and Nazis were fake Christians; Nazis were pagan.
        Paul writes to the Church of Corinth “Expel the wicked man among you.” The failure to follow this command by all Christians has directly led to the loss of faith in Christian doctrine and ultimately to atheism. You and many others try to paint Nazis as Christians. This is the “politically correct” history.

        The Swastika against the Cross: The Nazi War on Christianity

        The Nazis planned the elimination of Christianity. Once, this was common knowledge and authors writing while the Nazis were in power recognized this crucial fact. Today, in a political and social climate drenched with fear and hatred of Christianity, the Nazi war on Christianity and Christian opposition to Nazism is “politically incorrect” history. But the words written in old books cannot be rewritten to fit the contemporary slander of Christianity. The record-from more than forty books published while Hitler was in power, is clear and strong: The Swastika was at war with the Cross.

        http://www.hyperhistory.net/apwh/essays/comp/cw01christianity.htm

        In his book Out of Control: Global Turmoil on the Eve of the Twenty-first Century (1993) Zbigniew Brezezinski estimates that Communist oppression has killed sixty million people. Remember, Communism is the supreme atheistic government. These numbers are staggering, especially when compared to the Spanish Inquisition, which is estimated as causing about 32,000 deaths, and the Crusades, between one and five million. The same site with the above death tolls has a median estimation of seven and a half million, which is likely high. Lastly, Pitirim Sorokin estimated that in all the medieval wars in Europe, less than five hundred thousand Europeans were killed. Thus, even if one were to say that Christians were responsible for all the deaths caused in Europe amongst the hundreds of wars (and this, while certainly an exaggeration, is not too far-fetched, for the Catholic Church was directly involved in the majority of European wars), and the Crusades, and the Spanish Inquisition, and the Thirty Years War, at the median of the estimates given, it would turn out to be around 1/4 of the deaths caused by just Communism.7 Add, for example, the deaths caused by Nazism and Fascism in Germany and Italy, respectively. Or, perhaps, the number of deaths caused by abortion between 1920 and 2000, estimated by the same site to be between 500 and 850 million. You get totals far exceeding anything Christianity or any other religion has ever done.

        http://www.ww2f.com/sacred-cows-dead-horses/30247-nazism-christian-religon.html

        Hitler was never formally excommunicated, but it doesn’t matter. Hitler was already excommunicated “in fact” (ipso facto) under the canon law of the Catholic Church for his numerous crimes against the Church, its people, its property, and its teachings. He could have actually returned to the Catholic faith (assuming that he might have wanted to), by having his excommunication removed by the Pope. The lifting of such excommunication is reserved to the Pope (latae sententiae). And let us not forget that the conference of German bishops excommunicated ALL Nazis who happened to be of the Catholic faith in 1930, and in the 1932 elections asked Catholics to NOT vote for any Nazi for any position. By being the leader of the Nazi party, Hitler had already put himself outside of the Church. The flaw in that logic might be that Hitler didn’t become a German citizen until he ran against (and lost miserably) Hindenberg for the office of President.

        It is also true that the goal of the Nazis was to absolutely minimize the influence of ANY of the various Christian Churches without actually declaring an open war on them and without adopting a radical anti-Christian policy; “officially”. (This is most certainly due to the fact that the Nazis came to power in a basically Christian country and in the middle of a Christian continent). An overt/open “war” upon Christianity in general, and the Catholic Church in specific, would have meant the total demise of the Nazis early on.

        Rather than “openly”, “overtly condemning Christianity they adopted the policy of “encroachment”, which meant that the Nazis outwardly pretended to be good friends of the Churches, then gradually deprived them of all opportunity to affect the public to whom they ministered. The Nazis secretly persecuted those Protestant Christians and Catholic priests who criticized the Nazi regime and sent many of them to prisons or concentration camps.

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    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    49.1.1.1.1
    Robin Lionheart says:
    December 30, 2010 at 6:46 PM • Edit
    Hans:

    Atheism provides a rationale to kill others in the name of ideology (Nazism, Communism, etc.).

    There you go again. Atheism provides no rationale for anything. There is no rationale that can get you from “I don’t believe in gods” to “I should kill people.” And as a token refutation of your repeated Holocaust revisionism: Naziism was a Christian ideology. Shame on you, Hans, for blaming the Holocaust on its victims.

    Not all atheists follow the atheist ideological trajectory Robin. That should be clear. That atheism is the philosophical ground of killing fields however, well the historical record is quite clear on that as well.

    As for atheists dying in concentration camps and gulags, yes, that happened. It happened to a lot of Russian Marxists too. All this proves is that the killers were indiscriminate.

    You see, it comes down to this: The phrase “Atheism provides no rationale for anything” contains within it the seeds of the barbarism we saw revealed. When no “rationale” exists, when great social questions are reduced to the furtive cry of nothingness, the vacuum is filled with many things such as secular utopianism, utilitarianism, you name it.

    If you want to keep this phrase as an expression of private piety, fine. The problem is that too many atheists like social engineering projects, especially under compulsion. Even non-believers for whom atheist nihilism is just to much to swallow make this same point as I am sure you know.

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      Hans:

      Atheism provides a rationale to kill others

      Atheism provides no rationale for anything

      The phrase “Atheism provides no rationale for anything” contains within it the seeds of the barbarism we saw revealed. When no “rationale” exists, when great social questions are reduced to the furtive cry of nothingness, the vacuum is filled with many things such as secular utopianism, utilitarianism, you name it.

      So, to summarize your buffoonishly stupid argument: if something provides no answer to great social questions, it provides a rationale to kill others.

      Therefore, heliocentricism (among many other -isms), in providing no answer to social questions, leaves a vacuum to be filled by rationales to kill others.

      According to Jacobse-illogic, by providing no rationale for anything, heliocentricism provides a rationale to kill others.

      Congratulations, Hans, you’ve graduated from inane to asinine.

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        Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

        Syllogisms, comparisons, trite rebuffs work in atheist circles (it’s how atheists prove to themselves how stupid Christians are), but in the real world they carry no weight at all, Robin. Your problem is that atheism has no intellectual tradition, no art, no literature, it just hasn’t produced much (except a lot of blood, unfortunately).

        Atheism has a historical problem. Everyone accepts that except the atheist. It’s an indisputable fact. That atheists can’t accept it is, I think, reflective of the intellectual paucity of atheism. As I said upstream, even non-believers who cannot accept the implicit nihilism in the atheist outlook mention it as one of their chief problems with atheism.

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          Syllogisms, comparisons, trite rebuffs work in atheist circles…, but in the real world they carry no weight at all, Robin.

          Syllogisms and comparisons also work in intellectual circles, debate circles, and academic circles. In places where logic is valued, generally. However, you are correct that logic carries no weight with some. Sadly, in “the real world”, your preferred tactics of demagoguery, fearmongering, and demonization can be more effective.

          Atheism has a historical problem. Everyone accepts that except the atheist. It’s an indisputable fact. That atheists can’t accept it is, I think, reflective of the intellectual paucity of atheism.

          It’s an easily disputable fact, as all of my comments to this post demonstrate. That atheists don’t accept it, I think, reflective of you being pigheadedly wrong and not knowing jack about atheism.

          [E]ven non-believers who cannot accept the implicit nihilism in the atheist outlook mention it as one of their chief problems with atheism.

          Like whom? Do any such non-believers exist? If you can find any, I have great news for them: atheism does not imply nihilism.

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            Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

            Well, I don’t want to pile on. You’ve got three other people arguing with you.

            It’s an easily disputable fact, as all of my comments to this post demonstrate. That atheists don’t accept it, I think, reflective of you being pigheadedly wrong and not knowing jack about atheism.

            Actually, I know more about atheism than you do. I understand the philosophical ground and implications, I know the history, I know it has no credible intellectual tradition, or art, or literature, I know the nihilism it portends.

            Most important I know that your assertion that atheism is nothing more than the non-acceptance of the transcendent betrays a historical naivete. If you want to believe this, be my guest, but understand that it is woefully insufficient in defending the atheist cause.

            So, I will let this go. In closing, here is a good article to read (if you dare!) that draws from the ash heap of the great atheist experiments of the last century:

            Awakening from Nihilism: The Templeton Prize Address.

            When atheist apologetics can actually weave a coherent analysis and critique of culture that rises above resentment to produce something enduring, well, maybe I will change my tune. Haven’t see it yet though and I don’t think I will. Atheism simply can’t conceive of it.

            BTW, I finally heard the first intelligent analysis to my debate with Matt Dillahunty by an atheist. This guy gets it. I don’t buy his answer, but he understands things that Dillahunty and his supporters (and you) have not.

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            Hans, 5.1.1.1.1:

            Actually, I know more about atheism than you do. I understand the philosophical ground and implications…

            Says the man who knows that almost all atheists are Marxists. Proving that you haven’t got a clue.

            Most important I know that your assertion that atheism is nothing more than the non-acceptance of the transcendent betrays a historical naivete. If you want to believe this…

            Not only did I not assert that, I presented myself as a counterexample in 1.1.1.1.3:

            To me, math is transcendent. Numbers are transcendent. Logic is transcendent. There are plenty of transcendent things in my worldview.

            Don’t try to put words in my mouth, because in my experience, you’re wrong about what atheists assert every single time.

            When atheist apologetics can actually weave a coherent analysis…

            You lost coherence with the oxymoron “atheist apologetics”.

            I finally heard the first intelligent analysis to my debate with Matt Dillahunty by an atheist. This guy gets it.

            Mark Michael Lewis is apparently not an atheist, since his book blurb begins “The Key Is In The Darkness invites you to discover the love and beauty that come from a deep connection with Divinity…”

            Sheesh, Mark thought po-mo drivel like “you guys have no truth, there’s no transcendent realm where truth can exist” was a good argument? But he does seem to express your argument more clearly than you do.

  52. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Michael Bauman says:

    Robin, you’d have a rather hard time marshalling any evidence that Nazi Germany was in anyway Christian.

    Did Hitler or any of his associates accept the Nicean Creed as a foundation for their belief?

    Did Hitler or any of his associates worship Jesus Christ by celebrating His Incarnation, Crucifixtion, Resurrection and Ascension?

    Did they practice any sort of prayer or repentance seeking forgiveness of sins.?

    Did they in any way shape or form attempt to propagate the fundamentals of Christian faith: Love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength. Love your neighbor as yourself? However short one may fall in one’s attempt to live as Christ commands, the are still His commands?

    Was their law founded upon Christian principals?

    The mere allusion to a Christian residue does not make a person or a nation Christian. Appropriating Christian rhetoric and misusing our symbols does not make one a Christian. At best the Nazi’s were chiliastic apostates from the faith but IMO they were much worse than that. Fundamentally, National Socialism under Hitler was an evil ideology that looked for any camoflage it could find in its initial effort to seduce the German people and win control. They sought death, not life.

    Mormans are not Christian, BTW. Neither are JW’s. There is an extensive list of religious bodies who claim the title of Christian without any aherence to the fundamentals of Christianity. I suspect that your prior experience may have been in just such a body, but maybe not. As Christians, we have done a horrible job of defining what Christianity means. Historically that is, as Eliot briefly describes the result of the Islamic captivity of Christianity in the east and the captivity to rationalistic/humanism in the west. Russian Christians had the additonal yoke of the total depravity of communism.

    Of course, mere mental ascent to a bunch of doctrinal statements does not make one a Christian either. To be a Christian requires effort. Christians are called to be not of this world. We are also in this world and function here as best we can, but ultimately empirical standards of evidence and logic cease to have any real function or meaning in the Christian life. They are limited tools with a limited function that is as transient as the world itself. The confines of human thought are simply too restrictive to allow for the transcendent and abundant life given to us by Jesus in his Incarnation.

    While I agree with Scott that God’s existence cannot be proved (or disproved), His existence can be known without a shadow of doubt while His non-existence can only be postulated. BUT, His existence is a revealed existence not a learned one. “He who has eyes to see, let him see–ears to hear, let him hear”

    As a Christian, I am required to witness to what I know. I know God is and that He forgives out of ineffable, unfathomable love. He can be known through His Incarnate Son and our Lord, Jesus Christ. Such knowledge is available to anyone who opens their heart in humility rejecting the illusion of self-sufficency and autonomy.

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      Robin, you’d have a rather hard time marshalling any evidence that Nazi Germany was in anyway Christian.

      Not hard at all. I find that German Army belt buckle with “GOTT MIT UNS” (God is on our side) around a swastika to be a damning Exhibit A.

      Did Hitler or any of his associates accept the Nicean Creed as a foundation for their belief?

      Did Hitler or any of his associates worship Jesus Christ by celebrating His Incarnation, Crucifixtion, Resurrection and Ascension?

      Did they practice any sort of prayer or repentance seeking forgiveness of sins.?

      Probably yes, yes, and yes.

      Did they in any way shape or form attempt to propagate the fundamentals of Christian faith: Love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength. Love your neighbor as yourself?

      As with everything in the Big Book of Multiple Choice, not all Christians interpret the Bible the same way. The medieval biblical exegete Rashban said of “love your neighbor” that “if your neighbor is good [love him], but if he is evil, ‘the fear of the Lord is to hate evil’” (Proverbs 8:13).

      Mormans are not Christian, BTW. Neither are JW’s.

      You seem to enjoy a popular Christian pastime of saying that any follower of Christ who doesn’t share the doctrines of my church isn’t a true Christian. It’s like that “no true Scotsman” story:

      Scotsman A: “You know, laddie, no Scotsman puts sugar in his porridge.”
      Scotsman B: “Is that so? I seem to recall my cousin Angus puts sugar in his porridge”
      Scotsman A: “Aye… but no true Scotsman puts sugar in his porridge.”

      As I use the term “Christian”, all y’all are Christians, even Quakers who don’t believe in the divinity of Christ. Catholic pedophile priests and Nazis who committed genocide in Christianity’s name may be very bad Christians, but they’re still Christians.

      His existence can be known without a shadow of doubt while His non-existence can only be postulated.

      Not doubting isn’t “knowing”, it’s just credulousness.

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        Michael Bauman says:

        You seem to enjoy a popular Christian pastime of saying that any follower of Christ who doesn’t share the doctrines of my church isn’t a true Christian.

        No, it is just that there are beliefs that are Christian and beliefs that are not Christian. Christianity has a duty to articulate which are which and not allow confusion and the world to do the job.

        The beliefs of the Mormans depart from a Christian understanding of God, man and creation on just about every level and particular. Actually, their theology, such that it is, is more polytheistic than monotheistic. They are not followers of the theandric savior Jeus Christ, fully God and Fully Man of one essence with the Father. The specifically reject the Nicean Creed and all traditional Christian expressions of the faith and subsitute their own cosmogenic fantasy. That they may agree on some superficial matters of public morality does not make them Christian.

        The hard work of articulating Chrisitan doctrine was accomplished over, roughly, the first 800 years of the the Church’s temperal existence.

        1. Many of the core beliefs of that common heritage are held by Orthodox, Catholics and Protestants, who despite our sinfulness are striving to, by God’s grace, become more as God created us to be.
        2. There are many in each tradition that speak the core beliefs with their lips and deny them in every other way.
        3. There are those in each tradition who actively seek to undermine the Christian faith for ideological reaons
        4. There are those who, like you, deny everything about the Christian faith.
        5. Then there are those who actually hate God yet seek to seduce as many as possible in groups 2 & 3 especially for the purpose of doing evil. National Socialism is an example.

        It is interesting that you, the champion of empiricism present no real evidence in response to my questions, just conjecture based upon your own bias. The one specific you mention: the belt buckle that says God is with us could easily fall into the seduction category (Christian symbols appropriated for the sake of and use of evil). In any case, I’d want to ask “Which God?” As an empiricist, you need to support your claim that National Socialism was Christian with specific documentary evidence and a clear connection to a specific Christian confession of belief. Otherwise you are merely accepting on faith those you are predisposed to believe.

        Nothing of Nazi agenda, methods or the fruits of their labors is even remotely Christian.

        Credulousness is simply an unwillingess to investigate or challenge the nature of things. It is laziness and has little to do with dobut or faith either one.

        I know God is real because I once doubted but sought the truth. That journey, which began consciously and in ernest some 40 years ago, is still in progress. Along the way, any dobut that I had about God’s existence vanished. Now, I question myself and the extent to which I am more or less like God. The answer is obvious, but I persist anyway because I still seek the truth.

        • “Truth is not just an abstract idea, sought and known with the mind, but something personal—even a Person—sought and loved with the heart, Jesus Christ”
        Fr. Seraphim Rose

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        Eliot Ryan says:

        No, Nazis were not bad Christian, they were wicked people. Many wicked people “converted” or more correctly, “infiltrated” Roman Catholicism or other denominations. We have been forewarned: “Expel the wicked man from among you”.
        “By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?”

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    Eliot Ryan says:

    A very interesting analysis of atheism. “He who has eyes to see, let him see–ears to hear, let him hear”

    GOVERNMENT-SPONSORED ATHEISM AHEAD:
    IDOLS, DEMONS, ATHEISM AND THE LAST JUDGEMENT

    He that is not with me is against me.

    Matt. 12,30

    When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?

    Luke 18,8
    [...]
    Atheism is the greatest of all illusions, the ultimate self-delusion. It conceals reality. In fact, no such thing as atheism exists or can exist. Although the existence of God can be doubted, the possibility of His existence cannot be denied, nobody can honestly be an atheist. But once God is denied, the emptied human heart becomes the possession of the Evil One, the place where he can at last be enthroned once more.

    Man has a natural need to worship a being higher than himself. Once the actors, singers and sportsmen have become idols, once the cult of demonic imagery has everywhere been accepted, once ‘traditional’ religion has been overthrown through the banalities of atheist indoctrination in schools, the time will come for a fourth stage in the process of human spiritual decline.

    The time is now ripening for that coming stage, the time is coming for one to come forward to be worshipped. He will be a man with extraordinary powers. This is the advent of one who does not believe in any god – except in himself. He is the one whose coming was predicted by the Apostle John in the Book Revelation and by all the Fathers and Saints.

    He is preparing his coming with great care, the whole of the twentieth century was devoted to him. However, his coming can still be delayed. The Last Judgment is coming, but it need not be today or tomorrow, or even this year or this century. Man, with his free will, can postpone that coming – or he can continue to hasten it. Everything depends on us.

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      Eliot:

      A very interesting analysis of atheism. …

      In fact, no such thing as atheism exists or can exist.

      Kinda silly of you to argue with someone who doesn’t exist, then, Eliot.

      Although the existence of God can be doubted, the possibility of His existence cannot be denied, nobody can honestly be an atheist.

      Sure I can.

      I cannot deny the possibility that a god or gods exist, but I do not believe any gods exist, therefore I am an atheist.
      Scott cannot deny the possibility that no gods exist, but he believes a god exists, therefore he is a theist.

      Admitting you could be wrong doesn’t mean you’re not a theist/atheist, it means you’re an open-minded theist/atheist.

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        Eliot Ryan says:

        Robin: It is foolish to ignore all the generations that lived before saying there’s nothing I can learn from it, they were all wrong. Life is too short for us to understand everything. One needs no fancy philosophical arguments to realize that something dreadful infects humankind pushing it to sin and from sin to insanity by deceiving souls into a complacent and destructive mindset. I prefer brute truths. The devil is real. They are powerful beings beyond what is natural. It is said that the most cunning trick of Satan is to make us believe that he does not exist. He has got you! You are a blind insisting that you can see better than all the other people. We are at war; every Christian’s life is a warfare with Satan, and his principalities and powers.
        “Put on all the armor that God has forged, that you may be able to make a stand against the devil’s cunning tricks.”

        Elder Paisios:

        This is the essential fallacy of the modern worldview. It is precisely by placing absolute trust in the formulations of the fallen human mind — rather than in divine revelation — that modern Western man has come to water down or abandon his once-cherished Christian Faith. We Orthodox Christians living in the West must act against this influence by refusing to accord outright trust to our thoughts.

        Elder Paisios teaches: “The devil does not hunt after those who are lost; he hunts after those who are aware, those who are close to God. He takes from them trust in God and begins to afflict them with self-assurance, logic, thinking, criticism. Therefore we should not trust our logical minds. Never believe your thoughts.

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          Eliot:

          It is foolish to ignore all the generations that lived before saying there’s nothing I can learn from it, they were all wrong.

          So why are you so quick to dismiss the time-tested findings of generations of scientists?

          One needs no fancy philosophical arguments to realize that something dreadful infects humankind pushing it to sin and from sin to insanity by deceiving souls into a complacent and destructive mindset.

          Yes, to believe that, one merely needs imagination.

          I prefer brute truths. The devil is real. They are powerful beings beyond what is natural.

          Sounds like you prefer fantasy.

          We are at war; every Christian’s life is a warfare with Satan, and his principalities and powers.
          “Put on all the armor that God has forged, that you may be able to make a stand against the devil’s cunning tricks.”

          Then ride up to his legions on your unicorn and lop their heads off with your +2 vorpal sword.~

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            Eliot Ryan says:

            I do not dismiss the time-tested findings of generations of scientists. I do have a problem with bad science, bad scientists and pseudo-scientific nonsense which was specifically designed to “prove” that there is no God.

            Making fun or just being silly does only show that you are very superficial. I told you: wake-up, there is too much at stake! I don’t get upset. One cannot get upset when one sees a sick or a blind person. I just feel compasion for you.

            St. Luke Archbishop of Simferopol the Surgeon
            http://full-of-grace-and-truth.blogspot.com/2008/10/st-luke-archbishop-of-simferopol.html

            Because of St. Luke’s confessions of faith (and despite his immense medical and scientific achievements), he was imprisoned, tortured, and exiled for 11 years in total, to Siberia, and other trecherous locales.
            St. Luke’s last words:
            “My children, very much do I entreat you,
            Arm yourselves with the armor that God gives, That you may withstand the devil’s tricks.
            You can’t imagine how evil he is.
            We don’t have to fight with people but with rulers and powers, in effect the evil spirits.
            Take care!
            It’s no use to the devil for anyone to think and feel
            that he is close to him.
            A hidden and unknown enemy is more dangerous than a visible enemy.
            O how large and terrible is the army of the demons.
            How numberless is their black horde!
            Unchanged, untiring, day and night, seeking to push all of us who believe
            in the name of Christ, to lure us on the road of unbelief, of evil and of impiety.
            These unseen enemies of God have made their sole purpose, day and night to seek our destruction.
            But do not be afraid, take power from the name of Jesus.”

            One thing is truthful!

            (My beloved) know that our relationship with God is not a joke; know that this whole world with all its civilization is a fad. You closed your eyes forever (when you die – transl. note) and will no longer know about civilization or the endeavors to the Moon or Mars, and so on … All are shadows/hollows; only one thing is truthful: our relationship with Christ, the immortality of our soul and what awaits us beyond death, aiming an eternal torment or the eternal life.

            Father George Calciu

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            Eliot:

            I do have a problem with bad science, bad scientists and pseudo-scientific nonsense which was specifically designed to “prove” that there is no God.

            So, since you reject the theory of evolution, common descent, and measurements of the earth’s age, do you consider all of those to be specifically designed to prove there is no God, rather than earnest attempts to understand reality as it truly is? Why do you suppose some people accept that science, yet remain Christians? Have they just not understood their full implications?

            Making fun or just being silly does only show that you are very superficial. I told you: wake-up, there is too much at stake!

            By warning me about a make-believe boogeyman.

            In the interest of reciprocation, and in utmost concern for your well-being, I have a very important warning for you: Don’t fall asleep, or Freddy Kruger may kill you in your dreams.~

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            Eliot:

            I do have a problem with bad science, bad scientists and pseudo-scientific nonsense which was specifically designed to “prove” that there is no God.

            So, since you reject the theory of evolution, common descent, and measurements of the earth’s age, do you consider all of those to be specifically designed to prove there is no God, rather than earnest attempts to understand reality as it truly is? Why do you suppose some people accept that science, yet remain Christians? Have they just not understood their full implications?

            Making fun or just being silly does only show that you are very superficial. I told you: wake-up, there is too much at stake!

            By warning me about a make-believe boogeyman.

            In the interest of reciprocation, with utmost concern for your well-being, I have a warning for you too: Don’t fall asleep, or Freddy Krueger may kill you in your dreams.~

            A Nightmare on Elm Street’s last words
            http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1179056/

            One, two, Freddy’s coming for you.
            Three, four, better lock your door.
            Five, six, grab your crucifix.
            Seven, eight, gonna stay up late.
            Nine, ten, never sleep again.

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    Eliot Ryan says:

    Robin:

    So, since you reject the theory of evolution, common descent, and measurements of the earth’s age, do you consider all of those to be specifically designed to prove there is no God, rather than earnest attempts to understand reality as it truly is?

    I have often wondered why scientists claim that the earth (and the entire solar system) is 4.6 billions years old. What scientific evidence do evolutionists use to support their argument that the world and universe is 4.6 billions years old? What did I find:

    The attack on the age of the earth began with Buffon. In 1770 he wrote that the earth was not 6,000 years old; it was 70,000 years old. No modern day evolutionist would think in these terms today, of course, but in 1770 this was a radical idea.

    It only took 25 years for James Hutton to come along in 1795 and claim that the earth was not 70,000 years old; it was ?millions and millions? of years old. In 1850, two evolutionists wrote that the earth was 25 and 100 million years old. In 1905 an evolutionist stated that the earth was 2 billion years old. Right after World War II evolutionists were claiming that the earth was 2.5 to 3.35 billion years old. In the mid-1970?s evolutionists were proclaiming that the earth was 4.5 to 5 billion years old. Their currently accepted number is now 4.6 billion years old.

    [...]
    So, how did evolutionists construct their alleged time frames?
    First, they invented the millions and billions of years that they talk about prior to any of these technologies coming into existence. Second, they know that none of these techniques work.

    The technique of radiocarbon dating was developed by Willard Libby and his colleagues at the University of Chicago in 1949.
    Why should evolutionists bother to discuss it honestly. Evolution is the only one theory in all science books.
    There is plenty of evidence to explain the origin of the universe and life in startling “new” way.

    Fingerprints of Creation

    Fingerprints of Creation is a 33 minute VHS/DVD video detailing the evidence polonium halos offer that the Earth was rapidly formed and did not cool over millions of years. The video, shot mostly in California takes the viewer to picturesque Yosemite National Park during the winter and the regions surrounding Palm Springs and Bishop where granites are plainly visible. Three-dimensional graphic animations are included to help convey the process of halo formation from nuclear particles. Instrumentation similar to that used to gather the published data on the polonium halos is shown along with simple demonstrations which illustrate the basic concepts of a short-lived nuclear emitter. Dr. Gentry explains the history of the origin of granite and scientists’ attempts to arrive at a universally accepted model of its formation. Brief commentaries on Robert Gentry’s research are given by Dr. Bruce Holman, Wisconsin Lutheran College, and Dr. Andrew Snelling, Creation Science Foundation of Australia. Dr. Snelling comments on granite formation theories comprise the final minutes of the video.

    The Young Age of the Earth

    The Young Age of the Earth is a 76 minute VHS/DVD video which explains how a created, young Earth, is compatible with a myriad of field evidences and the Genesis record of creation in six literal days. Dr. Robert V. Gentry and his son, David present young earth evidences supporting rapid coal formation such as polonium halos in coalified wood and the astonishingly pure giant coal beds of the Powder River Basin. These coal beds, sometimes hundreds of feet thick, are better explained by a rapid deposition and burial of billions of tons of vegetation by a massive flood mechanism. Present day oil formation in the Guaymas Basin is seen using deep sea footage from DSV Alvin. Aerial and ground based footage of the Grand Canyon illustrate features which question whether the Colorado River carved the canyon over millions of years. Dr. Walt Brown discusses his hydroplate theory which is consistent with the biblical flood model. Scenes from the visitor center at Dinosaur National Monument are explained in a startling new way.

    Radioactive dating method ‘under fire’

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    Eliot Ryan says:

    Robin: I prefer prayers not silly rhymes.

    Heavenly King, Comforter the Spirit of Truth
    who are present everywhere filling all things
    Treasury of good things and Giver of Life
    come and dwell among us cleanse us of every sin
    and save our souls Gracious Lord.


    Living an Orthodox Life: Prayer

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      Eliot, since one hopeful fairytale deserves another:

      When you wish upon a star
      Makes no difference who you are
      Anything your heart desires
      Will come to you

      If your heart is in your dream
      No request is too extreme
      When you wish upon a star
      As dreamers do

      Fate is kind
      She brings to those who love
      The sweet fulfillment of
      Their secret longing

      Like a bolt out of the blue
      Fate steps in and sees you through
      When you wish upon a star
      Your dreams come truuuuuue

      Jiminy Cricket

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    Eliot Ryan says:

    But what if there is God? What have you got to lose? Think about it that way: what if there is this great chasm and a narrow bridge over it – and there’s someone who says that there is nothing there (as the chasm is covered up with leaves and all you can see is a harmless path) – what do you do then? You must cross over to the other side, because — what if it’s all true? It is NOT WORTH risking your life by not believing. One can risk one’s money, one’s reputation – but not one’s life.

    And that’s confessor father’s advice, I tell you. [smiling]

    Fr. Arsenie Papacioc in a televised programme on Romanian Orthodox TV channel, “Trinitas”, December 31, 2010

    We must always be busy with our redemption. This is the leading, permanent, unalterable, unforgettable endeavor: redemption. And for this reason we must fly off from the routine and habits. All things in life must spring from this being our life: the heart. It is true, the problems are many, but we should not loose hold the string which binds you up to the sky. If you let yourself down, you fall into abyss, you fall into sin, you fall into hell. You must hold yourself of this string no matter what; no matter how strong are the winds. Hold on as you can, in your way, but do not let it down! (Father Arsenie Papacioc)

    * * *
    Here is the Spiritual Director: Father Arsenie Papacioc

    “A charismatic spiritual director is the light of people. As long as his words are received by his disciples, as in a school, the spiritual director is the light of the respective school. As long as he dwells in a monastery, he bestows the light of spiritual work, upon the monastics and the lay alike. Where the spiritual director is missing, darkness tends to engulf the world faster; without his advice and absolutions, man’s soul is far more vulnerable and risks falling in the pits of hell” (St. Nicholas Velimirovic)

    A spiritual director must believe and trust that Christ our Lord will never forsake him, if he truly loves his spiritual children and understands that his own salvation exclusively depends on their salvation. Above all, he must set an example: if he fasts, they will fast; if he is humble, they will be also humble and will obey Christ’s commandments in every way.

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      Eliot quotes Fr. Arsenie Papacioc:

      But what if there is God? What have you got to lose?

      You’ll find out, Arsenie, when Allah damns you as a heretic for idolizing Jesus as a god.~ For so it is written, “Indeed, they who disbelieved among the People of the Scripture and the polytheists will be in the fire of Hell, abiding eternally therein. Those are the worst of creatures.” (Qu’ran 98:6)

      Think about it that way: what if there is this great chasm and a narrow bridge over it…

      And what if you and every Christian you know stepped on the wrong bridge, a bridge marked “Jesus” that gives way beneath your feet, plunging you into the abyss.

      Arsenie takes a terrible gamble with his eternal life, and the holy Qu’ran says he will burn in hell forever. Does this not concern you?

      You already know why it does not concern me.

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        Eliot Ryan says:

        Arsenie takes a terrible gamble with his eternal life, and the holy Qu’ran says he will burn in hell forever. Does this not concern you?

        Islam copied most of the stories from the Bible. The Ottoman authorities always “stressed” on the conversion of Christians to Islam. The wars on the pre-Islamic Albania were among the bloodiest in the Balkans. Today Albania is a mostly a Muslim nation. Robin, you are not a muslim (and free to call yourself atheist) because others before you sacrificed their own lives to defend Christianity. Orthodoxy was defended by valiant confessors of the Faith.
        The unshaken Christian belief and the spirit of sacrifice is highly illustrated by St. Martyr Emperor Constantin Brancoveanu. He was tempted by the Ottoman rulers to convert to Islam in order to save his life and the lives of his four children. Having a deep faith that the soul is infinitely more precious than some extra miserable years of life on earth, he refused that offer. (See Saints Branconeni Icon). Like all atheists, you are proud of your spiritual ignorance and freely renounce your own immortal soul being under the illusion that you are wise, intelligent and educated.

        http://valahia.wordpress.com/2010/08/16/martyr-voivode-brancoveanu/

        The family were allowed to say one last prayer, after which the Sultan offered them their lives if they accepted to convert to mahomedanism. Del Chiaro noted the Voivode’s reply:

        “Your Highness. My wealth, as much as it was, you have taken it from me, but my Christian faith is something I will not relinquish. I have been born in it and I have lived in it, it is in my faith that I shall die. I have filled the land of my country with Christian churches and now, you would have me worship in your Turkish djamies? No, Your Highness. I have defended my land, I have watched over my faith. It is always in my faith that I wish to close my eyes, me and my sons.” Then he encouraged his sons thus: “My sons, be brave. We have lost everything we had in this earthly world. All we have left is our souls. Let us not lose them, too, but bring them pure before our Saviour Jesus Christ. Let’s wash our sins with our blood.”

        The Sultan gave the signal for the execution. The first who was decapitated was treasurer Ianache Vacarescu, followed by the Voivode’s four sons: Constantin, Stefan, Radu, and then the youngest one, Matei (11). Horrified by his brothers’ death, the small one got scared and faltered. His father told him: “There has never been anyone in our family who lost their faith. If it is possible, one should rather die a thousand times, than deny the faith of his ancestors, for a few years more on earth”. Then the child put his head on the stock and said to the executioner: “I want to die a Christian. Strike.” Petrified with pain, the Voivode murmured: “Lord, Thy will be done”, after which they beheaded him, too.

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          Islam copied most of the stories from the Bible.

          Just as Christianity copied much of its mythology from the Torah. Neither religion is original.

          Today Albania is a mostly a Muslim nation.

          Thus if you’d been born into most families in Albania, you’d’ve been raised Muslim. Largely because of where and to whom you were born, you are doomed to Islamic hell. It hardly seems fair that billions are damned mainly because of an accident of geography, but Muslims say that we finite beings cannot understand Allah’s infinite wisdom.~

          Robin, you are not a muslim (and free to call yourself atheist) because others before you sacrificed their own lives to defend Christianity.

          I’m an atheist because there’s no reliable evidence to support a belief in any gods, no matter whose.

          He was tempted by the Ottoman rulers to convert to Islam in order to save his life and the lives of his four children. Having a deep faith that the soul is infinitely more precious than some extra miserable years of life on earth, he refused that offer.

          So his four children literally died for nothing, since souls do not exist. Another five to chalk onto major religions’ death toll.

          Muslims, too, have martyrs who bowed their heads to their Christian executioners and met their death with unshaken faith. Lots of people have died for silly beliefs.

          Like all atheists, you are proud of your spiritual ignorance and freely renounce your own immortal soul being under the illusion that you are wise, intelligent and educated.

          Intelligent and educated though I am, if I were wise, I probably wouldn’t spend so much time arguing with you. Not fortunate enough to be “spiritually ignorant”, though. So many wasted Sunday mornings. No, I was raised and Confirmed as a Christian and taught, as we often recited, to believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. (My denomination preferred the Apostles’ Creed.) In fact, reading the Bible for myself was a big step toward giving up my Christianity. (“Properly read, the Bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived.” – Isaac Asimov)

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            Eliot Ryan says:

            Still … Pagan and atheistic societies have killed far more people (mainly Christians) than more than several of the major religions combined. The devil is real and he hates mankind. No fancy arguments needed to understand who pushes humankind to sin and from sin to insanity. The atrocities in the atheist Soviet Union tell the complete story of the most murderous regime ever. See the Soviet Story

            No, I was raised and Confirmed as a Christian and taught, as we often recited, to believe in …

            Again: Elder Paisios teaches: “The devil does not hunt after those who are lost; he hunts after those who are aware, those who are close to God. He takes from them trust in God and begins to afflict them with self-assurance, logic, thinking, criticism. Therefore we should not trust our logical minds. Never believe your thoughts.
            Sorry for you … my dear lost brother.

  57. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Scott Pennington says:

    Robin, Eliot, et al.,

    I’m not sure what science or evolution have to do with the question of God’s existence. I will freely admit several truths: It is not possible to prove God’s existence logically or, by arguments from design, incontrovertably. Also, it is not possible to prove by scientific means or by logic that God does not exist.

    Now, the much more interesting question, it seems to me, is why, under those circumstances, some people want to believe in God and some others want to believe there is no God. I think the real game here is in people’s motivations.

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      Robin, Eliot, et al., I’m not sure what science or evolution have to do with the question of God’s existence.

      Eliot says he has a problem with science to be “specifically designed to “prove” that there is no God”, though he didn’t answer whether he includes evolutionary theory in that group. My impression is that Eliot regards God and evolution as mutually exclusive. I didn’t when I was Christian.

      Also, it is not possible to prove by scientific means or by logic that God does not exist.

      If gods existed, they could provide proof of their existence. And it is possible to prove that some kinds of gods don’t exist. A god that always gives you what you pray for, for example, is trivial to disprove: Just pray that everyone on earth with cancer be cured tonight. It won’t happen.

      Now, the much more interesting question, it seems to me, is why, under those circumstances, some people want to believe in God and some others want to believe there is no God.

      Speaking for myself, for any proposition, if it is true, I want to believe it; if it is false, I want to not believe it. Keeping only beliefs that I can justify is my way of maximizing that function.

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        Eliot Ryan says:

        Robin:

        My impression is that Eliot regards God and evolution as mutually exclusive. I didn’t when I was Christian.

        Rampant confusion…but as I said, I don’t blame you. The evolutionism comes from the ancient pagan believes and it is not compatible with the existence of God. Contemporary philosophers with theological pretensions hurried to reconcile evolution -a hypothesis based on no evidence – with the Gospel. They invented “theistic evolution” which is the view that evolution occurred, but was planned and guided by God.
        About Evolutionism by Ioan Vladuca

        (Emphasis added)

        The atheist evolutionism is the hypothesis that states that the species of animals turned one into another, from the first unicellular to the monkey and human being, in billions of years, through accidental processes; it also states that the species of plants evolved from unicellular forms to the plants with flowers. The evolutionism comes from the ancient pagan believes.

        In the Sumerian mythology, men and gods appeared out from the mixture of sweet water and salt water.
        Anaximandre (610-546 a. Chr.) believed that the animals appeared from the sea, due to the sun warmth: that at the beginning they were covered by a thorn crust they lost.
        According to Empedocle (483-423a. Chr.), life was born from the heated silt from which came out segments of living beings, isolated members, eyes lacking the head, etc. he believed that the living beings were obtained from the random associations of those segments.
        Democrite (460-370 A. Chr.) considered that man was leavened, like a wormlig, out of silt.
        Aristotle (384-322 a.Chr.) considered that there was a spontaneous transition from unliving to living through intermediary elements. He also thought that plants are intermediary links between lifeless objects and animals.

        [...]

        Erasmus Darwin (1731-1802), Charles Darwin’ grandfather, also thought that life appeared spontaneously. He also believed that living creature evolved due to their wish and their efforts of will. In those times many people were convinced that animals with teeth appeared out of those without teeth because of their wish to chew the food. In this context was formed (that is to say deformed) Charles Darwin’ outlook., considered as “the father of the evolutionism”. He believed that man comes from a hairy mammalian, with tail and sharp ears, living in trees. Charles Darwin used his theory to explain the progress of the society. He considered that the fight for the existence has a decisive role. That is why, indignant at the concern that people showed for the sick men, he stated that “anyone who dealt with the reproduction of the domestic animals knows, with no shadow of a doubt, how harming can be this perpetuation of the weakly beings”. Both the communists and the capitalists developed this conception because of political and economical interests.

        All the strange ideas, presented above are to be found nowadays in the evolutionary biology taught in schools, secondary schools and universities. Pupils are taught that ” the living matter is the result of evolution, in certain conditions, of the lifeless matter” and that “life is a step superior in point of quality in the evolution of the forms of motion of the matter”.

        Graver than the atheist biologists’ statements are those of some contemporary philosophers with theological pretensions. These ones believing that the theory of the evolutionism is correct, hurried to interpret it theologically, mixing it with the teaching of the Orthodox Church. Thus, they came to the conclusion that Adam had animal ancestors, that man comes from blessing from a mammalian, etc. in this way appeared the theist evolutionism, used by the New Age.

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          Eliot:

          My impression is that Eliot regards God and evolution as mutually exclusive.

          The evolutionism comes from the ancient pagan believes and it is not compatible with the existence of God.

          So I inferred correctly. I’m not sure what you mean by “evolutionism” here, but from context, you seem to mean “evolution as a religion”, which doesn’t exist.

          Contemporary philosophers with theological pretensions hurried to reconcile evolution -a hypothesis based on no evidence – with the Gospel.

          Universal common descent is a theory based on overwhelming scientific evidence. This does contradict various religious creation myths, including the Garden of Eden myths of the Abrahamic religions. Some deal with the falsity of the two (contradictory) creation myths in Genesis chapters 1 and 2 by interpreting it as an allegorical story; others, like day-agers, by creatively twisting the language to try (and fail) to fit the story to scientific facts.

          You then quote Ioan Vladuca:

          Charles Darwin used his theory to explain the progress of the society. He considered that the fight for the existence has a decisive role. That is why, indignant at the concern that people showed for the sick men, he stated that “anyone who dealt with the reproduction of the domestic animals knows, with no shadow of a doubt, how harming can be this perpetuation of the weakly beings”.

          What a dirty lie! Ioan not only misrepresents Darwin’s sentiments as opposite of what he really stated, but also uses a phony quote to do it. Contrary to Ioan’s disgustingly dishonest calumny, what Darwin actually wrote in The Descent of Man is this:

          With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated; and those that survive commonly exhibit a vigorous state of health. We civilized men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination. We build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed and the sick; we institute poor-laws; and our medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of every one to the last moment. There is reason to believe that vaccination has preserved thousands, who from a weak constitution would formerly have succumbed to small-pox. Thus the weak members of civilized societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly anyone is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.

          The aid which we feel impelled to give to the helpless is mainly an incidental result of the instinct of sympathy, which was originally acquired as part of the social instincts, but subsequently rendered, in the manner previously indicated, more tender and more widely diffused. Nor could we check our sympathy, even at the urging of hard reason, without deterioration in the noblest part of our nature. The surgeon may harden himself whilst performing an operation, for he knows that he is acting for the good of his patient; but if we were intentionally to neglect the weak and helpless, it could only be for a contingent benefit, with an overwhelming present evil. Hence we must bear without complaining the undoubtedly bad effects of the weak surviving and propagating their kind; but there appears to be at least one check in steady action, namely the weaker and inferior members of society not marrying so freely as the sound; and this check might be indefinitely increased, though this is more to be hoped for than expected, by the weak in body or mind refraining from marriage.

          You just spread a propagandistic lie, Eliot. If you would argue in good faith, you need to do better at vetting your sources.

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          Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

          Revised January 4, 2011

          Eliot, Darwinian evolution (a process of linear development) would not have been conceptually possible in the pagan world because the notion of linear time and thus progress, require Christian philosophical presuppositions. This notion entered the world through Genesis, the narrative that portrays time and space as created, rather than eternal entities. This radical break from paganism, to which the entire world was subject until Christ entered the world, was even difficult for Christians to fully comprehend at first (Origen for example, despite his brilliance, could never shake the notion of circular time), and it would be many centuries later before the full power (freedom really) of these concepts would bear fruit. The scientific system in other words, could not have developed anywhere except in a Christian culture.

          Darwin was a philosophical materialist. His theory (randomness in particular) is wholly dependent on philosophical materialism. I approach the Christian – atheist debate in terms of the history of ideas (I have to leave the science to others). Freud fell, Marx fell, and I believe that the Darwinian collapse is inevitable as well. Taking a long view it might be that Dawkins, Hitchens, and the other radical atheists represent little more than the last gasps of a dying philosophy.

          My theory doesn’t speak to the ardency of the atheists of course. Their unquestioned faith in the power of their own logical processes leaves little room for any challenge from the outside. Nevertheless, atheism as we understand it today is wholly dependent on Christian presuppositions. Atheism can only arise in a Christian culture. It’s a conceptual impossibility anywhere else. Atheism presumes monotheism. Christianity is the source of both the logical concepts the atheist uses to deny it and the moral concepts and vocabulary he uses to discredit it.

          Furthermore, a rejection of God, of the transcendent, does not portend a return to paganism. That, I think, is a historical impossibility because the light that came into the world by Christ, is real light. Christ in not a concept, an organizing principle, the unmoved mover of Aristotle or the great designer of Plato (as prescient as some of those concepts were), but the one through whom Creation is reconstituted in space and time. The birth, death, resurrection of Christ is an incontrovertible brute fact the ramifications of which are evident if one has eyes to see. Further, the denial or rejection of this thesis doesn’t change negate the fact; it merely leaves nihilism as the last remaining option.

          The atheist disputes this of course. He sees atheism as a road to enlightenment. But here too we see the notion of moral and material progress, albeit temporalized. The atheist moves forward thinking that eschewing all things non-material is progress; that the process of reason alone is sufficient to find the meaning and purpose of all things. Again, it’s a conceptual framework wholly dependent on the Christianity it denies. Lacking sufficiency to fulfill this hope of enlightenment however, it will in the end either be abandoned or directed into a will to power. Those are the only two possibilities. We have seen the horror of the later in the last century and discussed this before.

          I would not be surprised to see some of the atheists embrace Islam in the end if, God forbid, the West collapses and we are forced to choose between slavery or Muhammad. There is congruency between the Muslim notion of a static god (processes and actions are a direct reflection of Allah’s will, no mediating and thus personal agent exists) and the atheist notion of an impersonal universe. Sometimes I wonder, using the biblical imagery (I believe the Jewish/Christian scriptures are the foundational and primordial narrative), if Islam is not the Assyria of the North to us Westerners. Assyria found no favor with God but yet was an instrument of His will; necessary to clarify Israel’s vision and bring them back to the one thing needful. Israel went into bondage. I hope we can avoid that fate.

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            Hans:

            I believe that the Darwinian collapse is inevitable.

            You believe many silly things.

            Taking a long view it might be that Dawkins, Hitchens, and the other radical atheists represent little more than the last gasps of a dying philosophy.

            Seems unlikely, when surveys show that atheism is growing and most religions are shrinking.

            In the USA, according to the American Religious Identification Survey‘s 2008 results, Christianity is dwindling by about 0.6% a year, and “None” is the fastest growing religious category.

            And in recent news, Britain is now a majority nonreligious nation. According to the British Social Attitudes survey’s 2010 result published last month, 42% of Britons now say they were Christians and 51% say they have no religion. When they started taking this survey in 1985, Britain was 63% Christian and 34% no religion. Quite a turnaround for one generation.

            Perhaps your anti-atheist fearmongering represents a backlash against shrinking religiosity by a declining religion.

            I would not be surprised to see some of them [atheists] embrace Islam in the end if, God forbid, the West collapses and we are forced to choose between slavery or Muhammad.

            An anti-Muslim fearmonger, too, I see.

            If I were forced to choose between slavery or Muhammad, I’d publically pretend to accept Islam, as many atheists in Islamic theocracies do.

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            Eliot Ryan says:

            Fr. Hans:

            Eliot, Darwinian evolution (a process of linear development) would not have been conceptually possible in the pagan world because the notion of linear time and thus progress, require Christian philosophical presuppositions.

            What I had in mind was the philosophical speculations about the origin of life, not necessarily Darwinian evolution. The idea that life began with a single element – water – and complex life has arisen from simpler forms of life, had its beginnings with the Greeks about 700 B.C. The other version explained life in terms of the gods of Greek mythology.

            Meanwhile, the light of Christ came into the world. The Word becomes flesh and the night of the world becomes day. There are still many who reject the light and call it darkness.

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            In 51.1.1.1.1, Fr. Jacobse boasted:

            I know more about atheism than you do… I know the history…

            Fr. Jacobse once again proves that incorrect by saying:

            Atheism can only arise in a Christian culture. It’s a conceptual impossibility anywhere else. Atheism presumes monotheism.

            The word “atheism” originated in a polytheist culture; it derives from ancient Greek ἄθεος (atheos). The term referred specifically to those who rejected their pantheon of gods.

            To ancient Greeks (and subsequently to ancient Romans), Christians were “atheists”. Hellenists and Christians both used the Greek term, pejoratively, to describe each other. Its meaning narrowed over time to mean one who disbelieves in not just the speaker’s gods, but all gods.

            Atheism itself long predates Greece, however. It predates the oldest living religion in the world, the Aboriginal Dreamtime religion, which has lasted for 47,000 years. Atheism goes back to the dawn of humanity. Before prehistoric cave dwellers first invented deities, everyone was an atheist, they just had no need for the concept.

  58. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top

    Hans:

    The scientific system in other words, could not have developed anywhere except in a Christian culture.

    No, the roots of the scientific method were developed by the ancient Greeks, and refined by medieval Muslims.

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      Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

      Robin, your sense of history is, well, so poorly formed. The Muslim “Golden Age” you simplicity refer to was merely the legacy of Byzantium after the conquest. It seems like your historical sense draws from little more than the atheist apologetics you have read.

      As for the note above praising the decline of religion, it only applies to Europe and perhaps the US. Haven’t you heard of this book:

  59. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top

    Hans:

    The scientific system in other words, could not have developed anywhere except in a Christian culture.

    No, the roots of the scientific method were developed by the ancient Greeks, and refined by medieval Muslims.

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      Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

      Well, sure, the contributions of the Greeks cannot be discounted. Medieval Muslims? Again, the Muslim “Golden Age” was the legacy of Byzantium as were the texts imported by Muslims into Western Europe that sparked the Renaissance.

      Robin, in your rush to discount all things religious, you end up denying incontrovertible historical facts. That, by the way, is why I argue that atheism is ultimately a culture denying movement and why the great atheist experiments of the last century were so bloody. To the dogmatic atheist, Western Culture is an enemy.

      Here’s an essay I wrote a while back the thesis of which you may reject but other readers might appreciate:

      The Artist as Vandal: Culture and the Desecration of Religious Symbols

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        Sorry about the duplicate posts, the “Request deletion” button doesn’t work for me anymore, it pulls up a pop-up with the latest blog post instead.

        Hans:

        As for the note above praising the decline of religion, it only applies to Europe and perhaps the US.

        My previous comment just cited, without praise or condemnation, statistics that do not support one of your claims. Islam may well be gaining in Third World countries, though I doubt good poll data can be collected in countries where people are killed for being the wrong kind of Muslim.

        Hans:

        Robin, in your rush to discount all things religious, you end up denying incontrovertible historical facts.

        No, that’s you again, when write obvious falsehoods like “Naziism was atheism was Teutonic dress”. Your criticisms keep coming back to such historical revisionism.

        Here’s an essay I wrote a while back the thesis of which you may reject…

        Yeah, right from the first paragraph, your characterization of Chris Ofili’s “The Holy Virgin Mary” as “desecration art” and “sacriliege” shows me that you didn’t understand his blending of sacred and profane. And your false description that Ofili “smeared” elephant feces on it reveals that you’re blathering about artwork you’ve never even seen. Another instance of Fr. Jacobse bloviating about things he doesn’t know jack about.

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          Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

          Atheism has no real pedigree, Robin. It has to deny history in order to justify itself. That’s why men who have difficulty with Christianity or Judaism like Berlinsky, Glucksman, Levi, even atheists like Anthony Flew later in life, don’t embrace atheism. It’s a personal struggle for them and I hold no judgment towards them for it. In fact, I profit from their writings because they have not abandoned the search for truth, something that atheism will require of you eventually as it forces you to close yourself to history.

          BTW, these men probably would have understood Ofili’s intent. The atheist, in rejecting the transcendent, allows no possibility for the sacred. He will look at the piece with either blank incomprehension, or cheer that a (bourgeois?) symbol of culture he despises was defiled. Your explanation of mixing the sacred and profane employs a category that your polemics does not allow. The confusion, in other words, is on your end and may explain why you don’t really understand it. Ofili, I am reasonably sure, would not agree with you at all.

          I’ll leave it at that. It’s a big world out there. There’s a whole lot more to life than atheist apologetics can ever capture.

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            Hans:

            Atheism has no real pedigree, Robin.

            Of course it doesn’t, it’s not descended from anything. Everyone’s born an atheist ab initio.

            It has to deny history in order to justify itself.

            No, atheism is completely justified as long as the existence of gods is unproven.

            … even atheists like Anthony Flew later in life, don’t embrace atheism

            A feebleminded old man converting to deism isn’t much of a feather in Christianity’s cap.

            The atheist, in rejecting the transcendent, allows no possibility for the sacred.

            I’m an atheist who doesn’t reject the transcendent. Nothing is sacred, however.

            He will look at the piece with either blank incomprehension, or cheer that a (bourgeois?) symbol of culture he despises was defiled.

            This atheist did neither, but instead is endeavoring to school you about it.

            Your explanation of mixing the sacred and profane employs a category that your polemics does not allow.

            That’s beside the point. Sacred is a category to Christian Ofili.

            Ofili, I am reasonably sure, would not agree with you at all.

            Ofili would say it’s not only about that contradiction, but much more (and much that a priggish old white man like you probably wouldn’t relate to).

            “Deep Shit: An Interview with Chris Ofili”, Parkett, May 2000:

            Paul Miller: Let’s go back to the black woman issue. Because that’s the whole controversy with the black Virgin Mary. And you, of course, have all the pornographic images as cutouts. Is it a critique of the sexuality that you find missing in our world situation?

            Chris Ofili: I think, with a painting like that, with The Holy Virgin Mary (1996), there are so many layers of meaning. And that exists, hopefully, with pretty much all of the paintings that I’ve made. There are so many layers of meaning. So many contradictions. And that’s why I think it’s been, dare I say, misunderstood. In a sense, only one level has been looked at. It’s kind of like seeing the Wu-Tang Clan as being only Inspectah Deck. (Laughter) But there are those other guys. And they’ve all got solo deals. And they’ve all got like two albums each. So it keeps going on and on and on. Only seeing hip-hop as KRS-One, one of the early cats, but there are so many other layers to the whole family tree.

            So, it’s about critique. It’s about the way the black woman is talked about in hip-hop music. It’s about my religous upbringings, and confusion about that situation. The contradiction of a virgin mother. It’s about the stereotyping of the black female. It’s about trying to make a nineties hip-hop version of the Virgin Mary that would include, therefore, everything that I think she’s about. It’s about beauty. It’s about caricature. And it’s about just being confused. But at the same time, it’s about not being uncomfortable with that state of mind. And seeing that as a full palate. Rather than just black and white. So, you know, it’s the gangster coming out with his full clip. (Overlapping voices) (Laughter). Scratching it… but I’m just properly scratching it. (Laughter)

            Ofili, I am reasonably sure, would not agree with you that it is merely vandalism of a religious icon.

            Hans:

            It’s a big world out there.

            Yes, much bigger than you imagine.

            There’s a whole lot more to life than atheist apologetics can ever capture.

            Atheism has no doctrines to apologize.

            There’s a whole lot more to life than Christian apologetics can ever capture, too. A great many beautiful experiences that the puritanical Christians cut themselves off from. A wealth of wonder and knowledge that the anti-intellectual Christians put on blinders to.

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    Eliot Ryan says:

    Robin:

    No, I was raised and Confirmed as a Christian and taught, as we often recited, to believe in …

    Funny … I was raised in an atheist society were religion was mocked. I used to believe (rather I was taught) that religious people were losers unable to understand calculus and science …. as I was. Now I am very thankful to all these brave people who have been standing still and preserved the faith until I finally woke up!

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      Eliot:

      No, I was raised and Confirmed as a Christian and taught, as we often recited, to believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.

      Funny … I was raised in an atheist society were religion was mocked.

      Oh, where are you from? I’m from the United States, where people have a right to believe whatever claptrap they want, and other people have a right to mock them for it. We’re cool that way.

      I used to believe (rather I was taught) that religious people were losers unable to understand calculus and science …. as I was.

      If you set your mind to it, you can learn just about anything. I think your scientific ignorance is curable. If you’d like some suggestions, Jerry Coyne’s “Why Evolution is True” is pretty approachable, and might be a good place for you to start.

  61. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Eliot Ryan says:

    Robin:

    How is our atheism different than the “old” atheism? Can you predict how will it develop after you are gone?

    I can try. In future generations, religion’s attrition will continue, until in industrialized societies, gods are mostly irrelevant fringe beliefs, sort of like astrology today. Religious holidays which were proclaimed national holidays will grow almost entirely secularized, like Halloween already has, and Easter and Christmas are becoming. In the future, the word “atheist” will fade from use, because atheism will be normal, unworthy of note, like being an “afairyist”.

    Is this going to be before or after the mark of the beast (the biometric chip on the right hand or forehead) will be imposed?

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      Eliot:

      Is this going to be before or after the mark of the beast (the biometric chip on the right hand or forehead) will be imposed?

      There won’t be any atheists left when the mark of the beast is imposed, what with the sky having been rolled up like a scroll, the stars having fallen to earth like figs, every mountain and island having moved from their places, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalyse having killed one quarter of the Earth’s population, an army of 200 million men with breastplates of fire on fire-breathing lion-headed snake-tailed horses led by four angels having killed a third of the remaining 3/4, a great red seven-headed dragon having swept a third of the stars out of the sky onto earth with its tail (apparently they didn’t all fall like figs) then having gotten thrown to earth, a seven-headed ten-horned lion-mouthed bear-footed leopard having risen out of the sea and becoming leader of the world for 42 months, and all who live on Earth now worshipping it. No doubt finding it preferable to a deity whose proxies just slaughtered half the planet. (Revelation 6-13)

      Then, after all the world has converted to Beastatarianism, another lamb-horned beast, who rises out of the earth and makes fire come down from heaven to earth in the sight of the people, makes people receive a mark on their right hand or forehead. (Revelation 13)

      After which, Jesus comes back wielding a scythe to begin the carnage in earnest among the remaining half of the earth’s former population. (Revelation 14)

  62. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Eliot Ryan says:

    Robin:

    There’s a whole lot more to life than Christian apologetics can ever capture, too. A great many beautiful experiences that the puritanical Christians cut themselves off from. A wealth of wonder and knowledge that the anti-intellectual Christians put on blinders to.

    Is your enthusiasm artificially (chemically) provoked? I find somewhat at odds with your believe that you are going to decompose and perish without a trace. Or, perhaps you are not exercising long-term thinking?

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      Eliot:

      Robin:
      There’s a whole lot more to life than Christian apologetics can ever capture, too. A great many beautiful experiences that the puritanical Christians cut themselves off from. A wealth of wonder and knowledge that the anti-intellectual Christians put on blinders to.

      Is your enthusiasm artificially (chemically) provoked?

      Not on drugs, just high on life.

      I find somewhat at odds with your believe that you are going to decompose and perish without a trace. Or, perhaps you are not exercising long-term thinking?

      Perhaps you’re not. You and Nick both remind me of Randall Munroe’s xkcd comic strip entitled “Nihilism”:

      A: There is no god. Our life is without purpose.
      B: Oh, definitely. We are adrift in an uncaring void indifferent to our mortal toil.

      A: Exactly! In the end, nothing we do matters.
      B: (climbing tree) Totally.
      A: We just… Why are you climbing that tree?

      B: (from branches) Because the future is an adventure! Come on!
      A: But—
      B: Hey! I found squirrels!

      Since this is the only life we know we’ll live, live it to the fullest!

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        Eliot Ryan says:

        Robin:

        Since this is the only life we know we’ll live, live it to the fullest!

        This is what you wrongly believe not what you know! I do live my life to the fullest. It is true that I experience sometimes sorrow, especially when I see people like you. The person who lacks humility doesn’t want God to get in the way of his desires. You did make a bad bargain!

        AMERICAN ATHEISTS– EXPOSED AND CONFRONTED!

        How arrogant can one get. Believing that people of faith do not live life to the fullest is absurd. Truly religious Christians live their life to the fullest every single day, because they see God’s involvement in everything they do; because they see all human beings as brothers and sisters to be loved and served; because their are filled with a joy that comes from knowing that they are loved by the greatest of beings; because they know that even their greatest sufferings have transformational power, and finally because they know that humanity is in very good hands, and that, no matter what suffering befalls individuals or societies, the long-term results are bound to be stunning, because a God of love is in control.

        Contrariwise, what kind of living to the fullest can a person have when they believe that they are only chemical compounds waiting to return to the earth where they came from; when they see no transcendental meaning to the anguish and suffering their loved ones, and finally themselves, have to confront; when they believe that they are only the result of blind cosmic chance and that oblivion is all that is ahead for the whole universe. You call this living life to the fullest?

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          Eliot:

          Robin:

          Since this is the only life we know we’ll live, live it to the fullest!

          This is what you wrongly believe not what you know! I do live my life to the fullest.

          You have carelessly misread what I wrote. Go back and read it again, slowly.

          Contrariwise, what kind of living to the fullest can a person have when they believe that they are only chemical compounds waiting to return to the earth where they came from; when they see no transcendental meaning to the anguish and suffering their loved ones, and finally themselves, have to confront; when they believe that they are only the result of blind cosmic chance and that oblivion is all that is ahead for the whole universe. You call this living life to the fullest?

          Definitely.

          Contrariwise, what kind of living to the fullest can a person have when they believe this life is just a place to wipe their feet on their way to a paradise better than anything this world has to offer; when they are certain the greatest joys they may experience this world are nothing compared to what follows your death; when they extinguish their grief over the death of loved ones and cheer for their entrance into a blissful afterlife; when death is anticipated instead of staved off; when they pervert their understanding of “love” and “justice” to include infinite, endless torture; when they believe themselves one a chosen few destined for paradise and harden their hearts to the vast majority of humanity doomed to eternal agony. Why should such a person try to live in this world any longer than they have to, or take medicine or wear seatbelts?

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            Eliot Ryan says:

            Robin:

            Why should such a person try to live in this world any longer than they have to, or take medicine or wear seatbelts?

            Here is the answer to your pueril question:
            Suicide is, in effect, self-murder. The one who commits suicide cannot confess his sin and repent. The damage is permanently done.

            One sure way to acquire wisdom in this chaotic and depraved world: read the lives of the Saints! There is wisdom preserved over the span of thousands of years. Also, confessors, who spend ten hours a day or more hearing confessions gain a good understanding about how the devil works to deceive people.

            I have done my little experiment here with Robin and I conclude that Elder Porphyrios is 100% correct. He says that words are wasted with atheists, rather we should pray for them, because though we cannot touch their minds, but we can touch their hearts. I do not know if I can touch “lionhearts” though.

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            Eliot, That question wasn’t about committing suicide, it was about not doing things to prolong your life, like go to a doctor, take medicine, or wear seatbelts.

            Words changed my mind on Christianity once before. You just haven’t given me a single good argument for your god. That’s not your fault; theologians haven’t come up with any in thousands of years.

  63. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    The word “atheism” originated in a polytheist culture; it derives from ancient Greek ἄθεος (atheos). The term referred specifically to those who rejected their pantheon of gods.

    To ancient Greeks (and subsequently to ancient Romans), Christians were “atheists”. Hellenists and Christians both used the Greek term, pejoratively, to describe each other. Its meaning narrowed over time to mean one who disbelieves in not just the speaker’s gods, but all gods.

    Atheism itself long predates Greece, however. It predates the oldest living religion in the world, the Aboriginal Dreamtime religion, which has lasted for 47,000 years. Atheism goes back to the dawn of humanity. Before prehistoric cave dwellers first invented deities, everyone was an atheist, they just had no need for the concept.

    Apart from the creation myth of atheist origins (“before prehistoric cave dwellers” and all that), I have little disagreement with your assertion.

    The a-theism (“a” can mean in place of, against, or something like in distinction to) of old however was not the a-theism you describe. The notion of not believing in any transcendent or non-material reality, of a purely material basis to reason and knowledge, is new. It would have been incomprehensible to the Greeks, even those who rejected the accepted pantheon of gods.

    It is not accurate to say Christians were perceived as atheists in the Roman empire. They were perceived as subversives that threatened to overturn the harmony between gods and state (developed by Diocletian who believed the god Jupiter guided his success, which was substantial btw).*

    BTW, most Christians in the early years were Hellenized. It was a Hellenistic world.

    My assertion, that modern atheism could only have arisen in a Christian culture is based on the fact that atheist apologetics presupposes monotheism. Atheist deep category thinking is culturally Christian. The great atheists of the last century prove it (Thousand Year Reich, the New Man, Socialist Paradise, etc.).

    * Here’s a book that explains late Roman antiquity and the interplay between Christians and the Roman Empire, particularly Diocletian, in great detail (I am reading it now):

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      Hans:

      My assertion, that modern atheism could only have arisen in a Christian culture is based on the fact that atheist apologetics presupposes monotheism.

      Your assertion is based on denial of historical facts, and of common sense. Polytheist Hindu cultures have atheists, too. Wherever people worship gods, there are atheists.

      Your nonsensical assertions that “Atheism presumes monotheism.” and that “Atheist apologetics presupposes monotheism.” refute themselves. When you say such idiotic things, you are claiming that one can’t believe in no gods without presuming one god. How is it that you still don’t comprehend what the word “atheism” means? It does not mean “materialism”, nor “nihilism”, nor “rejection of the transcendent”; “atheism” just means “not believing in gods”.

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        Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

        The definition is just that, a definition. How you flesh it out, how it directs your thinking, how it plays out in practical terms shows me what the atheist really believes (yes, believes). And, being the creatures of the West that atheists are, their categories are Christian. Where do you think the ideas of the great atheists such as Thousand Year Reich (millenialism), the New Soviet Man or the New Man (redemption), Workers Paradise (millenialism again) came from?

        Where do you think your the deep structure of the thesis you outlined above came from? Certainly not paganism or any form of pre-Christian history. The structure, ie: creation myth attached to linear history and progress is exclusively a product of Christian culture.

        No, I am not saying that one cannot believe in no gods without presuming one god, at least I am not arguing as a general principle like you are positing here. I wouldn’t do that because I don’t really believe there are atheists in poly-theistic cultures. I think it is a conceptual impossibility. If there are, or if there are people who claim to be, they most likely have been Westernized. I am not saying either that there are not people who are indifferent to their religion. But you are not saying that either. You are saying there is no God.

        Despite your definition and denial, your deep structure thinking always presumes one God. The atheist must first posit God in order to deny Him. One must first have A in order to posit non-A. In poly-theism, where you have B, C, D, E… gods and you want to create a catch-all category that captures the multiplicity of gods, well, thank Judaism and Christianity for creating that category for you — “Hear O Israel, the Lord your God is one God.” This development was hard fought and took centuries. It enables you to create the non-A. See how it works?

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          Hans:

          Where do you think the ideas of the great atheists such as Thousand Year Reich (millenialism)…

          Your despicable Holocaust revisionism doesn’t fool anyone outside your bubble. Hitler was a Catholic, doing what he saw as the work of the Lord, and Nazis committed their genocides in Christianity’s name. No matter how many times you bear false witness about the Holocaust, that truth will never change.

          Where do you think your the deep structure of the thesis you outlined above came from?

          Your referents are unclear. You mean my thesis that claiming that one can’t believe in no gods without presuming one god makes no sense? It’s not all that deep, just basic logic and common sense.

          I wouldn’t do that because I don’t really believe there are atheists in poly-theistic cultures. I think it is a conceptual impossibility.

          How divorced from reality you are. I’ll name a few: 1998 Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, Hindi filmmaker Amol Palekar, Marathi writer Vijay Tendulkar, and Indian actor and filmmaker Kamal Hasaan.

          The atheist must first posit God in order to deny Him. One must first have A in order to posit non-A.

          So by Jacobse-illogic, when I posit “there are no fairies”, there must be fairies.
          There are no unicorns. Yay, unicorns must exist!
          There are no dragons. Oh no, hide your delicious maidens!
          There are no Lovecraftian horrors from a dimension beyond space and time who ate the creator of our universe for breakfast. Well, that about wraps it up for God or Allah or Brahma or Nana Buluku or whoever, then. Hope it doesn’t eat me next, what with my power to gainsay things into existence.

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            Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

            The unicorns, dragons, fantasy figures are, well, unicorns, dragons, and fantasy figures. Words mean things Robin, and in cultural terms the word “God” has tremendous meaning, while unicorns, dragons, and fantasy figures have a lesser and exclusively literary meaning. This doesn’t discount their meaning of course (think Lord of the Rings for example), only that the meaning is of different weight and value. Further, it should be self-evident that the real meaning of things cannot be reduced to syllogism. One doesn’t need to be a believer to see this. One only needs a little knowledge of history and literature.

            The “Hitler was a Catholic” apologetic is foolishness. I guess the effort to tie the Catholic Church to Hitler in order to discredit it doesn’t work anymore. (It died I think after Pope John Paul II stared down General Wojciech Jaruzelski — and won.) At least in that apologetic Hitler was recognized as the evil that he was. Now we are to believe the real evil was that Hitler was actually Catholic! Yet, this thesis has absolutely no credibility. The only people I see arguing this are atheists. Can you name one respected historian who defends this thesis? I can’t.

            How divorced from reality you are. I’ll name a few: 1998 Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, Hindi filmmaker Amol Palekar, Marathi writer Vijay Tendulkar, and Indian actor and filmmaker Kamal Hasaan.

            Like I said, they’ve been Westernized.

            BTW, my examples included more than Hitler’s millennial Thousand Year Reich. I also included the Soviet New Man, and Socialist Paradise.

            Where do you think your the deep structure of the thesis you outlined above came from?

            Your referents are unclear. You mean my thesis that claiming that one can’t believe in no gods without presuming one god makes no sense? It’s not all that deep, just basic logic and common sense.

            What I said was that your sketch of the atheist pedigree contains a creation story, the notion of linear time, the notion of progress, and the assumption that the end of this development is some kind of enlightenment. That’s your basic thesis.

            I argue that the deep structure categories that inform this sketch (what you call “common sense”) are exclusively Christian in character. You are a creature of your culture Robin, and you employ the philosophical categories that the Christian faith bequeathed culture in order to deny religious faith altogether. That’s your prerogative of course. Just be aware of where you draw it from.

            Another book recommendation (out of print but you can pick up a used copy):

            STOP THE PRESSES! IT’S BACK IN PRINT!

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            Hans:

            One must first have A in order to posit non-A.

            There are no unicorns. Yay, unicorns must exist!
            There are no dragons. Oh no, hide your delicious maidens!

            The unicorns, dragons, fantasy figures are, well, unicorns, dragons, and fantasy figures.

            Indeed, they are fantasy, thus disproving your stupid, stupid argument.

            Further, it should be self-evident that the real meaning of things cannot be reduced to syllogism.

            They’re pretty good for showing how illogical your arguments are, though.

            Where do you think the ideas of the great atheists such as Thousand Year Reich (millenialism)…

            Your despicable Holocaust revisionism doesn’t fool anyone outside your bubble. Hitler was a Catholic, doing what he saw as the work of the Lord, and Nazis committed their genocides in Christianity’s name. No matter how many times you bear false witness about the Holocaust, that truth will never change.

            The “Hitler was a Catholic” apologetic is foolishness too. I guess the effort to tie the Catholic Church to Hitler in order to discredit it doesn’t work anymore… Now we are to believe the real evil was that Hitler was actually Catholic!

            No, Hans, I was not stooping to your level and using Hitler to smear Catholics, like you use him to smear atheists. I only mentioned his Catholicism to rebut your lie.

            I’m not discrediting the Church, I’m discrediting you, you lying Holocaust revisionist.

            What I said was that your sketch of the atheist pedigree…

            Whoa, there. That’s not what I did. Back in 59.1.1.1.1, I agreed with your assertion that atheism has no pedigree:

            Hans:

            Atheism has no real pedigree, Robin.

            Of course it doesn’t, it’s not descended from anything. Everyone’s born an atheist ab initio.

            Okay, continue.

            …contains a creation story, the notion of linear time, the notion of progress, and the assumption that the end of this development is some kind of enlightenment. That’s your basic thesis.

            No, no, no, and no, none of those were part of my thesis. You’re completely off base. Go back and read what I actually wrote.

  64. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    Robin:

    Indeed, thus my reductio ad absurdum of your stupid, stupid argument.

    It’s not stupid. Words mean things. They mean very different things. And because they do, their impact on culture (how they inform, shape, direct human interaction) differs. Arbitrarily fitting them into some kind of syllogism (God = fairies and so forth) ignores this cultural weight and, in the end, leads to debilitating ignorance. I’m not arguing that you have to believe in God. That is entirely up to you. I am only arguing that your defense of atheism stretches the boundaries of credulity. It requires a denial of history that most people (including many non-believers) are not willing to make.

    Atheism has no real pedigree, Robin.

    Of course it doesn’t, it’s not descended from anything. Everyone’s born an atheist ab initio.

    Just so you know, this idea is a variation of the tabula rasa, the “blank slate” which argues that every child is born without any structure or content. It’s not new, and that the atheist reworks it to encompass religious ideas is, well, a logical development of this particular strain of thought. The strain is controversial though and has plenty of critics. It skirts the fringes of totalitarianism too closely for my taste. Read the Wiki article, note how closely the concept is allied to eugenics, politics, even architecture.

    Nothing arises in a vacuum Robin. Not even atheism.

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      Hans:

      Robin (after sifting through a boatload of invective in order to find the salient points):

      Well, you can compare me to Nazis once, you can compare me to Nazis twice, but compare me to Nazis a half dozen times, that talk gets a slapdown.

      One must first have A in order to posit non-A.

      So by Jacobse-illogic, when I posit “there are no fairies”, there must be fairies.
      There are no unicorns. Yay, unicorns must exist!
      There are no dragons. Oh no, hide your delicious maidens!

      The unicorns, dragons, fantasy figures are, well, unicorns, dragons, and fantasy figures.

      Indeed, they are fantasy, thus disproving your stupid, stupid argument.

      It’s not stupid. Words mean things. … Arbitrarily fitting them into some kind of syllogism (God = fairies and so forth) ignores this cultural weight and, in the end, leads to debilitating ignorance.

      I made no equivalence, I substituted different things for your variable A, things which proved wrong your very stupid argument. Something does not have to exist for me to deny it exists.

      Everyone’s born an atheist ab initio.

      [T]his idea is a variation of the tabula rasa, the “blank slate” which argues that every child is born without any structure or content…. The strain is controversial though and has plenty of critics. It skirts the fringes of totalitarianism too closely for my taste.

      Somehow you got from “everyone’s born an atheist” to totalitarianism. It’s like Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon with you, except Kevin Bacon’s a fascist dictator.

      Nothing arises in a vacuum Robin. Not even atheism.

      That cliché’s days may be numbered, since according to quantum mechanics, things are constantly arising in a vacuum (and almost instantly annihilating themselves), with no apparent cause.

  65. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    I’m not comparing you to a Nazi, I am drawing historical parallels to atheism and Nazism. I’m sure there are/were atheists repelled by Hitler. I’m sure there were/are atheists repelled by Stalin. My point is not that all atheists are Nazi’s or Communists, only that Nazism and Communism have atheism as a precondition.

    Somehow you got from “everyone’s born an atheist” to totalitarianism. It’s like Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon with you, except Kevin Bacon’s a fascist dictator.

    Robin, ideas have consequences, and ideas like “tabula rosa” have been around long enough to where where can examine some of those consequences. I did not say that every one who believes that “everyone is born an atheist” is a nascent totalitarian, I said that the body of ideas that employ that concept skirted too close to totalitarian ideologies for my taste. Did you read the Wiki article? It’s fairly accurate in terms of cultural history.

    Draw some clearer distinctions Robin, and don’t take every challenge so personally. It’s not about you. It’s about your ideas.

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      Hans:

      My point is not that all atheists are Nazi’s or Communists, only that Nazism and Communism have atheism as a precondition.

      Rather like Naziism had Judaism and homosexuality as a precondition, ’cause those concentration camps weren’t going to fill themselves!

      I did not say that every one who believes that “everyone is born an atheist” is a nascent totalitarian, I said that the body of ideas that employ that concept skirted too close to totalitarian ideologies for my taste. Did you read the Wiki article?

      I took a look, but nothing in that article connects tabula rasa to totalitarianism or anything close to it. I expect it’ll probably be as flimsy and fallacious as the leaps of illogic that led you to conclude that it’s conceptually impossible to be an atheist in a Hindu culture.

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    Eliot Ryan says:

    Robin:

    Words changed my mind on Christianity once before. You just haven’t given me a single good argument for your god. That’s not your fault; theologians haven’t come up with any in thousands of years.

    You have been listening to an other “theologian” and you received his word.
    I choose to listen to the words of those who suffered a dozen years (or more) of torture in communists prisons and did not lose their faith. Their living testimonies are very powerful “arguments”. Others, who did not suffer, argue that the suffering in the world is a proof that there is no God.

    What scares my to death is the fact that I could would have been in your place here, arguing there is no God, had I not escaped the web of lies surrounding me.

    I did not try to prove you anything. You’ve made your choice -a bad one I say. In a debate one does not try to prove anything to the atheist. The words are for all those people out there honestly trying to figure out the meaning of life.

    You were born, young man, not of desire of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but from God, Who became flesh for you and of Whose fullness you partook, and grace after grace you have received.

    This grace is a shield against fornication, to which your modern teachers push you. They tell you that liberty is the eradication of any obstacle facing you; that a good conscience is a talisman; that honor is an old-fashioned, obsolete notion; that sexuality is the unleashing of the beast within you; that your likeness to Christ is a story created by the priests; and that the love of God and neighbor is a new way of inhibiting your personality. Search in your heart, beyond this diabolic ticket of lies, and you will find the Truth, the only one that shall set you free! And the supreme Truth is the Resurrection, the Resurrection of Christ, as the lever for your own resurrection. Fr. George Calciu

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      Eliot:

      I choose to listen to the words of those who suffered a dozen years (or more) of torture in communists prisons and did not lose their faith. Their living testimonies are very powerful “arguments”.

      Sounds like a description of Tibetan monks like Sonam Dorje, tortured for 13 years in prisons in Chinese prisons. But you wouldn’t be referring to Buddhist words.

      In a debate one does not try to prove anything to the atheist.

      If you don’t even try to convince, no wonder you feel words are wasted. You quit before you begin.

      The words are for all those people out there honestly trying to figure out the meaning of life.

      Already worked that one out. There’s no apparent meaning, except what meaning we make for ourselves.

      You quote Fr. Calciu:

      … Search in your heart, beyond this diabolic ticket of lies, and you will find the Truth, the only one that shall set you free! And the supreme Truth is the Resurrection, the Resurrection of Christ, as the lever for your own resurrection.

      Since one “Truth” deserves another:

      The invisible Spirit (Sat, Atma) is eternal, and the visible world (including the physical body) is transitory. The reality of these two is indeed certainly seen by the seers of truth. The Spirit (Atma) by which all this universe is pervaded is indestructible. No one can destroy the imperishable Spirit. Bodies of the eternal, immutable, and incomprehensible Spirit are perishable. Therefore, fight, O Arjun. One who thinks that Atma (Spirit) is a slayer, and the one who thinks Atma is slain, are both ignorant. Because Atma neither slays nor is slain. The Spirit (Atma) is neither born nor does it die at any time. It does not come into being, or cease to exist. It is unborn, eternal, permanent, and primeval. The Spirit is not destroyed when the body is destroyed. O Arjun, how can a person who knows that the Spirit (Atma) is indestructible, eternal, unborn, and immutable, kill anyone or cause anyone to be killed?

      Just as a person puts on new garments after discarding the old ones; similarly, the living entity (Spirit, Atma, Jeev, Jeevaatma) acquires new bodies after casting away the old bodies. Weapons do not cut this Spirit (Atma), fire does not burn it, water does not make it wet, and the wind does not make it dry. Atma cannot be cut, burned, wet, or dried. It is eternal, all-pervading, unchanging, immovable, and primeval. The Spirit (Atma, Self) is said to be unexplainable, incomprehensible, and unchanging. — The Bhagavad-Gita

      So many “Truths” to choose from. I’ll go with what is provably real.

  67. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Eliot Ryan says:

    Robin:

    If I were forced to choose between slavery or Muhammad, I’d publically pretend to accept Islam, as many atheists in Islamic theocracies do.

    If the Christians would have been publically pretending to be pagans you’d still be worshiping stone idols. The almighty God warned us against worshiping false gods or idols. Yes, it is true, it is a very confusing world out there. Some religions are sharing some common themes and doctrines while others are claiming the opposite. We’ve been forewarned: Satan is the master of deception, “he is a liar, and the father of lies,” and “he was a murderer from the beginning.” He knows the Scriptures well and he is intentionally misinterpreting it to confuse us and to destroy our relationship with God. He and his fallen angels are quite adept at preaching “different gospels” and creating new “religious systems.”

    I have my own “scientific theory”. We have an impressive collection of scientific theories all dealing with the material world and none of them incorporating the spiritual component of the human nature. We lack a true theory of everything which includes good and evil. Satan is a very good scientist; better than all the scientists of this world put together. As a fallen angel he knows some of the secrets of the Creation. He and his demons know the intimate relationship between mass and energy. They are far more advanced than we are: they can turn themselves from matter into energy and from energy into matter in a fraction of a second and they can actually materialize in bodily form. He and his demons can can cast evil suggestions, in the form of pockets of electromagnetic energy, into our minds and hearts. Researchers can see what is going on across the entire brain; we can see thoughts on MRI, don’t we? Our thought process is affected by these influences and hence we follow/do what comes to our mind. We can be following tampered thoughts and acting upon them or we can follow the teachings of the Church and obey the commandments. Unrestrained passions (pride, anger, greed, lust, jealousy, egoism, etc.) lead to wars, violence, crimes, addictions, abortion and all the evils that we can abundantly observe in our fallen world.

    I believe that my theory is in accord with what we observe in our world, with the teachings of the Church and the Holy Fathers and in accord to the scientific observations. St. Paul had the will to resist his fleshly desires, but he lacked the power to perform what he knew was right. Later he came to understand that the power of the Holy Spirit ruling in his life was the only path to victory and he teaches “Walk in the spirit, and you will not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” (Galatians 5:16).

    Robin: your choice: “So many “Truths” to choose from. I’ll go with what is provably real” is a mere uneducated guess.

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      Eliot:

      If the Christians would have been publically pretending to be pagans you’d still be worshiping stone idols.

      Not me, I’d be a stone idol atheist, too.

      The almighty God warned us against worshiping false gods or idols.

      Which is why, according to Qu’ran 98:6, he will damn you for worshipping Jesus as a god.~ Allah, in his infinite mercy, warned you.

      I have my own “scientific theory”.

      (Bracing self for unscientific speculation.)

      We have an impressive collection of scientific theories all dealing with the material world and none of them incorporating the spiritual component of the human nature.

      For the same reason we have no scientific theories incorporating magic. Until we establish that either a “spiritual component of human nature” or “magic” exists, it’s rather premature to test hypotheses about how they might work.

      Satan is a very good scientist; better than all the scientists of this world put together.

      Alas, none of Satan’s work has passed peer review, because he’s never been published.

      They are far more advanced than we are: they can turn themselves from matter into energy and from energy into matter in a fraction of a second and they can actually materialize in bodily form.

      Where’d you learn that, the Monster Manual?

      Material forms could provide scientific evidence, though. Hair or tissue samples from one of their materializations would be a good start.

      He and his demons can can cast evil suggestions, in the form of pockets of electromagnetic energy, into our minds and hearts.

      They’d best stick to minds; packets of electromagnetic energy into your heart will only give you arrhythmia.

      Either way, though, this electromagnetic energy would be scientifically measurable, providing evidence to back up your story.

      I believe that my theory is in accord with what we observe in our world, with the teachings of the Church and the Holy Fathers and in accord to the scientific observations.

      A bunch of crap you just made up isn’t a “theory”. However, scientific observations could be made of the sort of demons you describe. You could gather evidence to prove your wild speculations about demonic phenomena, if they’re correct.

      Robin: your choice: “So many “Truths” to choose from. I’ll go with what is provably real” is a mere uneducated guess.

      No, that’s a decision to not guess.

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        Eliot Ryan says:

        Robin : Let us move forward. I told you that all the lies and evil in the world come from “the liar, and the father of lies,” and “the murderer from the beginning.” The deception started back in the Eden. To say there is no truth because there are too many lies, well, it does not sound very reasonable to my. Your truth is very questionable.
        We have many reference points for orientation to the truth: “By their fruit you’ll recognize them” and you CANNOT Serve Two Masters, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Neither can you be neutral. There is no such option in the Scripture.
        BTW, the Qu’ran says that Jesus will judge the world.

        As for the peer review published work concerning satan, do you really expect it from secular governments and agencies? If you read the lives of the Saints you’ll find many interesting clues. The demons were defeated by humans (the saints) and their latest tactics is to make people believe that they (demons) do not exist.
        The Gurus, the Young Man, and Elder Paisios

        This powerful memoir tells the story of a Greek youth who, out of a desire to know the truth empirically, began to experiment in yoga, hypnotism, and various occult techniques. Eventually drawn back to the Faith of his forefathers Orthodox Christianity he visited the ancient monastic republic of Mount Athos in his native Greece, where he was brought to a knowledge of the Truth of Jesus Christ by the saintly Elder Paisios (1924 1994). Nevertheless, believing he had only found part of the truth on the Holy Mountain, he chose to give the same opportunity to Hindu yogis that he had given to Elder Paisios and other Orthodox monks. Thus, at the age of twenty-five, he embarked on a trip to India, where he undertook his search in the ashrams of three famous gurus, one of whom was worshipped as a god. His experiences in India, along with his subsequent encounters with Elder Paisios on Mount Athos, are recounted in the present book in vivid detail. Popular in Greece since its first publication there in 2001, The Gurus, the Young Man, and Elder Paisios is a page-turning narrative of both outward adventures and inward struggles. What stands out most in this book, however, is the radiant image of Elder Paisios, possessed of divine gifts, laboring in prayer for his fellow man, and overflowing with unconditional love. Through this, one sees the uncreated Source of the elder s love and of the author s spiritual transformation: the true God-man Jesus Christ, Who honors man s personal freedom while drawing him, through love, into everlasting union with Himself.

        A Fakir’s “Miracle” and the Prayer of Jesus. By Archimandrite Nicholas Drobyazgin

        I had completely forgotten that I was a priest-monk and, it would seem, had no business at all participating in such a spectacle. The spell was so powerful that both the mind and the heart were silent. My heart began to beat painfully in alarm. Suddenly I was beside myself. A fear took hold of my whole being.
        My lips began to move and say: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!” Immediately I felt relieved. It was just as if some mysterious chains which had bound me began to fall away. The prayer became more concentrated, and with it my peace of soul returned. I continued to look at the tree, and suddenly, as if pursued by the wind, the picture became clouded and was dispersed. I saw nothing more except the big tree, illuminated by the light of the moon, and likewise the fakir sitting in silence by the bonfire, while my companions continued to express what they were experiencing while gazing at the picture, which for them had not been broken off.

        But then something apparently happened to the fakir also. He reeled to the side. The youth ran up to him in alarm. The seance was suddenly broken up.

        Deeply moved by everything they had experienced, the spectators stood up, animatedly sharing their impressions and not understanding at all why the whole thing had been cut off so sharply and unexpectedly. The youth explained it as owing to the exhaustion of the fakir, who was sitting as before, his head down, and paying not the slightest attention to those present.

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          Eliot:

          I told you that all the lies and evil in the world come from “the liar, and the father of lies,”

          That’s contrary to my experience, where quite a lot of them come from talk radio and Fox News. :)

          and “the murderer from the beginning.”

          Who, Cain? Wouldn’t he be long dead?

          The deception started back in the Eden.

          Heh, the first one being God telling Adam and Eve not to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, because on the day they do, they shall die (Genesis 2:17). Adam does, but lives on decade after decade, after decade, after century, after century, after century, after century, after century, after century, after century, after century, after century (Genesis 5:5).

          So many “Truths” to choose from. I’ll go with what is provably real.

          To say there is no truth because there are too many lies, well, it does not sound very reasonable to my.

          Yes, that would be a stupid, postmodernistish thing to say. Good thing no one here is saying anything like that.

          Your truth is very questionable.

          Good thing “my” truths are backed by logic and evidence. Everything should be questioned.

          Neither can you be neutral. There is no such option in the Scripture.

          Backing an evident falsehood with the authority of Scripture just discredits Scripture:

          Scripture says you cannot be neutral.
          People can be, and often are, neutral.
          It is not true that you cannot be neutral.
          Therefore, what Scripture says is not always true.

          BTW, the Qu’ran says that Jesus will judge the world.

          And the Qu’ran says that your judgement will be a painful doom forever, that Allah will not relax your punishment, and that your food shall be to eat from the tree of Zaqqum which will burn in your belly like molten brass.

          Satan is a very good scientist; better than all the scientists of this world put together.

          Alas, none of Satan’s work has passed peer review, because he’s never been published.

          As for the peer review published work concerning satan, do you really expect it from secular governments and agencies?

          No one said anything like that either. Your reading comprehension seems very deficient, Eliot.

          The demons were defeated by humans (the saints) and their latest tactics is to make people believe that they (demons) do not exist.

          And Betty and Barney Hill were abducted by extraterrestrials (the Greys) and the Air Force conspired to cover it up and make people believe that aliens do not exist.~

          You quote testimony of a seance:

          The spell was so powerful that both the mind and the heart were silent. My heart began to beat painfully in alarm. Suddenly I was beside myself. A fear took hold of my whole being.

          And since two testimonials deserve a third:

          They were hypnotized separately and not allowed to hear each other’s sessions, so there was no information feedback or cross-feed. Most important, Dr. Simon strongly suggested to them (under hypnosis!) every other explanation he could think of, but they persisted in the same report.

          Their testimony under hypnosis cross-checked with things they had told me earlier, which they didn’t understand at the time, and also cross-checked in detail. Each of them re-lived what he or she had experienced in 1961 and did not report anything that he or she could not have known. For example:

          • In November 1962, they told me that, when they got home in 1961, they discovered that the TOPS of Barney’s shoes were scuffed and scratched, and that bothered them because they didn’t know how it could have happened. In 1964 under hypnosis, while Betty was re-living being taken from the car to the ship, she said, “Oh, Barney, pick up your feet. Don’t let them drag like that.” Her wifely comment explained the scuff marks and also why Barney did not report being taken from the car to the ship. He was unconscious at that point, with the tops of his shoes dragging on the ground as he was carried by his arms.

          • Likewise, in November 1962 Barney told me that, a few days after they got home in 1961, he discovered that he had a ring of warts around his genitals. That bothered him, because it indicated something had happened to him and he didn’t know what. In 1964 under hypnosis he remembered the aliens put something like a cup around his genitals. When we talked about it in the summer of 1964, I said maybe that was where the warts came from. He thanked me for making that connection.

          • In 1964 under hypnosis Barney reported that while they were being examined in separate rooms, the aliens seemed to be interested or excited because his false teeth came out. Separately, Betty reported that an alien came into the room where she was being examined, opened her mouth, pulled on her teeth, and then left the room. — Testimony of Ben H. Swett

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    Eliot Ryan says:

    Robin: You and I are nothing but specks of dust in the vast universe.
    If you believe that you are the result of an evolutionary process, perhaps you are honest in your belief. If you believe that the solar system or the eco-sphere we call earth is only the result of blind cosmic chance, well, I’d say that you either are not sincere or you lack sound reasoning. Regarding UFOs and extraterrestrials: if an extraterrestrial (demon or fallen angel) comes after you, call out the name of Jesus Christ and they will flee.
    “CHRISTIAN” INTEREST IN UFOS by Blessed Hieromonk Seraphim Rose

    If you read any text of the early Fathers, any of the early Lives of Saints or the Lausiac History, you find many cases where beings suddenly appear. Nowadays they appear in spaceships because that’s how the demons have adapted themselves to the people of the times; but if you understand how spiritual deception works and what kind of wiles the devil has, then you have no problems in understanding what’s going on with these flying saucers.

    Similar to what Michael said, the foundation of my belief is of such a nature and extent that absolutely nothing you say can or will make a dent in it. Human life is surrounded by mystical and incomprehensible phenomena. Only ignorant and thoughtless people can reject the bond between the human soul and the everlasting Spirit of God. I don’t want to discuss it any farther because I can’t bear to see you persisting in the “unpardonable sin”.

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      Eliot:

      If you believe that the solar system or the eco-sphere we call earth is only the result of blind cosmic chance, well, I’d say that you either are not sincere or you lack sound reasoning.

      If that blind cosmic chance were as remote as one in a billion, then when you look out at the vast universe, you might expect to find one planet like earth amid billions of lifeless planets.

      Sounds like our universe.

      Regarding UFOs and extraterrestrials: if an extraterrestrial (demon or fallen angel) comes after you, call out the name of Jesus Christ and they will flee.

      If only Captain Kirk had known, he could have saved himself a lot of fistfights. Hee hee.

      Similar to what Michael said, the foundation of my belief is of such a nature and extent that absolutely nothing you say can or will make a dent in it.

      Yeah, I know several people with that character flaw. One of them still believes WMDs will be found in Iraq.

      Human life is surrounded by mystical and incomprehensible phenomena.

      Lightning was a mystical and incomprehensible phenomena once. Native Americans said it was the fire and smoke of the pipes of people from the thunder world whose beating wings sounded like thunder. The Japanese said they were catlike animals falling to earth, whose cries sound like thunder. They were the bolts of Zeus to ancient Greeks, the vajra of Indra to Hindus, spears of Ba’al to Canaanites. Scientifically minded people did not accept those legends, and tried to find the truth, learning meteorology.

      Earthquakes were a mystical and incomprehensible phenomena once. Indians said it’s because the elephants holding up the earth moved. The Japanese said the great catfish under the sea upon which Japan lay was moving. New Zealanders said the Mother Earth has the baby god Ru in its belly, and it was kicking. And some said El Diablo was ripping his way out of hell so he and his demons could come wreak havoc. Scientifically minded people did not accept those stories, and tried to find the truth, learning plate tectonics.

      So it is with every incomprehensible mystery that baffled our ancestors. Why does the sun rise, why do the seasons change, what are rainbows, where did the first human beings come from? Religions made up stories. Science found the truth.

      As our knowledge grows, we have fewer and fewer mysteries for superstitious storytellers to invoke a god of the gaps to explain. What is the origin of the universe? How did life begin? While credulous people cling to ancient myths and take comfort in an illusion of knowledge, scientists seek true answers and real understanding.

      What is incomprehensible today, may not be tomorrow, thanks to people for whom fairytales are insufficient.

      Only ignorant and thoughtless people can reject the bond between the human soul and the everlasting Spirit of God.

      I doubt you’ll save any souls telling unbelievers you think they’re ignorant and thoughtless. But then, you’ve already decided that mine’s unsaveable:

      I don’t want to discuss it any farther because I can’t bear to see you persisting in the “unpardonable sin”.

      If my sin of honest doubt is “unpardonable”, then persuading me I’m wrong would do me no good.

      It’d even be unkind, making my days before that final judgment unhappy ones. Letting me laugh until I die would be more merciful. (Personally, though, I wouldn’t mind the unkindness.)

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        Eliot Ryan says:

        Robin: I used the term “unpardonable” on purpose. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). God is ready to forgive any sin—no matter how heinous—if we come to Him in repentance.
        The demon was making funny faces and mocking the monk who prayed to God to save the devil and his demons.
        Elder Paisios realized that it was futile to pray for them and that God would save the devil if only the devil and his demons would repent.

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      Geo Michalopulos says:

      Robin, why the hatred of Fox news? I now see that you’re an ideologue and not a truth-seeker. You just rely on talking points. What exactly did Fox news report that wasn’t factual? Or is it simply because they blow away the competition?

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        Scott Pennington says:

        George,

        I figured Robin was a liberal from his remarks about Proposition 8 in California. This is why I made the observation that in absence of any conclusive evidence one way or another, it is impossible to verify the existence of God. Thus it becomes a choice. Since it is a choice to believe or disbelieve, it may be more insightful and enlightening to examine the reason that people want to believe in God or to believe that there is no God.

        I suspect that many on the left reject God as part of a political worldview. Since the God of traditional Christianity (and Orthodoxy Judaism, and Islam) is not at all a progressive sort of fellow, they cultivate not just a rejection based on lack of evidence, but a contempt for the very concept of God. This is similar to liberals’ claims that their ideas are better and that opponents are not intelligent enough to appreciate them. It’s not that leftist atheists ignore an unnecessary hypothesis but that they combat what they consider to be an idea with evil consequences. Leftists are never particulary concerned with objective truth, just ideology. The “truth” is an argument to them. There being no objective “truth”, all propositions are reduced to competing narratives behind which are marshalled favorable “facts”. They are so emotionally attached to their narrative and ideology that they desperately want it to prevail, regardless of the consequences. Thus they do not like to examine, for example, the consequences of socialism wherever it is tried, or the consequences to the black family from the Great Society welfare programs, etc. It’s a very romantic ideology. But it is also willfully blind. It has to be to sleep at night. The standard answer to the effects of self destructive policies is a call for more of the same.

        There is another form of this in progress as well. It is called “liberal Christianity”. The idea behind it is that there is no objectively real God; however, the idea of God is useful so long as the clergy can gut the old morality and replace it with progressive morality. Neither of these approaches are particularly successful. “Active rejectionist atheists” will continue to be a fairly small percentage of the population and, as the article I linked pointed out, since their birthrates are much lower than that of theistic people, their ascent seems very unlikely. The “liberal Christianity” atheism has the effect of emptying “liberal Christian churches”. The reason is that real Christians find it anathema and, and this is one of my favorite observations, “liberals don’t need liberal churches to do what liberals do, and liberals know it.”

        The whole thing is a deathstyle, not a lifestyle. Secular Europe is disappearing, rapidly. Their welfare states are collapsing. Muslims grow as a percentage of the population, and rapidly, because they have more children than secularists. In the end, who’s right is irrelevant since the existence of God cannot be proven or disproven conclusively. The question is who’s left. This is why I think it is valuable to judge unconfirmable beliefs by the desireability of their effects. But leftist atheists condemn the effects of religion since they conflict with their moral priorities. Hence the value of examining the reason why people want to believe what they do rather than searching for proof of God’s existence or non-existence – - the proverbial blind man in a dark room searching for a black cat that’s not there.

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        Eliot Ryan says:

        George:

        I believe Robin is not a simple atheist, he is working to become an atheist activist. Robin believes that empirical truth exists only in science. The lives of the Saints are quite empirical truths! For him, the countless miracles are “fairytales”. The lives of the Saints are unknown to him.

        Holy relics are a clear anticipation of the transfigured body after universal ressurection.The very fact that the bodies of the saints are kept in a state of incorruptibility is a foretaste, an anticipation of their future incorruptibility after resurrection and after their full theosis, deification.

        There are more than 200 million Orthodox Christians worldwide and about 4 million of them live in the United States. Orthodoxy beliefs and practices are unfamiliar to most Americans and Westerners, even if they call themselves “Christians”.

        Anglican Archbishop’s, Dr Rowan Williams, first encounter with God was at a liturgy of the Russian Orthodox Church, when he was aged 14.

        Here he met the ‘living God’ and when he left he felt that he ‘had seen glory and praise for the first time’. ‘I felt I had seen and heard people who were behaving as if God were real. I came away with the sense of absolute objectivity and majesty and beauty of God which I have never forgotten. If people worshipped like this, I felt God must be a great deal more real (than) I have ever learnt him so far’.

        St. Seraphim of Sarov’s Conversation With Nicholas Motovilov

        “We have become so inattentive to the work of our salvation that we misinterpret many other words in Holy Scripture as well, all because we do not seek the grace of God and in the pride of our minds do not allow it to dwell in our souls. That is why we are without true enlightenment from the Lord, which He sends into the hearts of men who hunger and thirst wholeheartedly for God’s righteousness.
        [...]
        “And I must further explain, your Godliness, the difference between the operations of the Holy Spirit who dwells mystically in the hearts of those who believe in our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ and the operations of the darkness of sin which, at the suggestion and instigation of the devil, acts predatorily in us. The Spirit of God reminds us of the words of our Lord Jesus Christ and always acts triumphantly with Him, gladdening our hearts and guiding our steps into the way of peace, while the false diabolic spirit reasons in the opposite way to Christ, and its actions in us are rebellious, stubborn, and full of the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life.
        [...]
        Nevertheless,” I replied, “I do not understand how I can be certain that I am in the Spirit of God. How can I discern for myself His true manifestation in me?”

        Father Seraphim replied: “I have already told you, your Godliness, that it is very simple and I have related in detail how people come to be in the Spirit of God and how we can recognize His presence in us. So what do you want, my son?”

        “I want to understand it well,” I said.

        Then Father Seraphim took me very firmly by the shoulders and said: “We are both in the Spirit of God now, my son. Why don’t you look at me?”

        I replied: “I cannot look, Father, because your eyes are flashing like lightning. Your face has become brighter than the sun, and my eyes ache with pain.”

        Father Seraphim said: “Don’t be alarmed, your Godliness! Now you yourself have become as bright as I am. You are now in the fullness of the Spirit of God yourself; otherwise you would not be able to see me as I am.”

        Then, bending his head towards me, he whispered softly in my ear: “Thank the Lord God for His unutterable mercy to us! You saw that I did not even cross myself; and only in my heart I prayed mentally to the Lord God and said within myself: ‘Lord, grant him to see clearly with his bodily eyes that descent of Thy Spirit which Thou grantest to Thy servants when Thou art pleased to appear in the light of Thy magnificent glory.’ And you see, my son, the Lord instantly fulfilled the humble prayer of poor Seraphim. How then shall we not thank Him for this unspeakable gift to us both? Even to the greatest hermits, my son, the Lord God does not always show His mercy in this way. This grace of God, like a loving mother, has been pleased to comfort your contrite heart at the intercession of the Mother of God herself. But why, my son, do you not look me in the eyes? Just look, and don’t be afraid! The Lord is with us!”

        After these words I glanced at his face and there came over me an even greater reverent awe. Imagine in the center of the sun, in the dazzling light of its midday rays, the face of a man talking to you. You see the movement of his lips and the changing expression of his eyes, you hear his voice, you feel someone holding your shoulders; yet you do not see his hands, you do not even see yourself or his figure, but only a blinding light spreading far around for several yards and illumining with its glaring sheen both the snow-blanket which covered the forest glade and the snow-flakes which besprinkled me and the great Elder. You can imagine the state I was in!

        “How do you feel now?” Father Seraphim asked me.

        “Extraordinarily well,” I said.

        “But in what way? How exactly do you feel well?”

        I answered: “I feel such calmness and peace in my soul that no words can express it.”

        “This, your Godliness,” said Father Seraphim, “is that peace of which the Lord said to His disciples: My peace I give unto you; not as the world gives, give I unto you (Jn. 14:21). If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you (Jn. 15:19). But be of good cheer; I have overcome the world (Jn. 16:33). And to those people whom this world hates but who are chosen by the Lord, the Lord gives that peace which you now feel within you, the peace which, in the words of the Apostle, passes all understanding (Phil. 4:7). The Apostle describes it in this way, because it is impossible to express in words the spiritual well-being which it produces in those into whose hearts the Lord God has infused it. Christ the Saviour calls it a peace which comes from His own generosity and is not of this world, for no temporary earthly prosperity can give it to the human heart; it is granted from on high by the Lord God Himself, and that is why it is called the peace of God.

        MATRONA OF MOSCOW: SAINT AND WONDERWORKER

        People were astonished to learn that Matrona had a visual conception of the world, like those with sight. Zenaida Vladimirovna Zhdanova, a close friend, once said sympathetically, “It’s a pity, Matushka, that you can’t see the beauty of the world,” to which Matrona answered, “Once, God opened my eyes and showed me the world and His creation. I saw the sun and the stars in the sky and everything on the earth, the beauty of the earth, mountains, rivers, the green grass, flowers and birds…”
        In an even more remarkable example of her clairvoyance, Zenaida recalled, “Matushka was completely unlearned, but at the same time knew everything. In 1946, I was to defend my thesis project on an architectural design for the Ministry of the Navy (I was then studying at an architectural institute in Moscow). I did not understand why, but my thesis advisor had taken a dislike to me and my project. For five months he would not consult with me once, and he had already decided to fail my project. Two weeks before the defense he informed me, “The commission will arrive tomorrow and declare the worthlessness of your work! You won’t even defend it.”
        I returned home in tears – father was in prison, there was no one to help, mama depended on me. Our only hope was that I would successfully complete my university education and get a job.

        That afternoon Matrona listened to me attentively and said, “Don’t worry, don’t worry, you will pass your exam! Tonight, we’ll have tea and talk about it.” I could hardly wait for evening to come and when I joined her, she said, “I will go with you to Italy, to Florence, to Rome and we will see the works of the great masters.” Then she began to enumerate the streets, the buildings! She paused at one point: “Behold, the Plazzio Pitti… and here’s another palace with archways, similar to the one in your work – a building with three lower levels of massive stonework and two arched entryways.” She spoke in detail about the architectural elements of the building, and I was shocked at her knowledge of the subject. In the morning I ran to the institute, put tracing paper over my project and using brown ink I made corrections based on what she had said. The commission came at ten o’clock. They looked over my project and said, “And so, your project came out well, it looks excellent – go ahead and defend it!”

        Saint Luke, Bishop of Simferopol and Crimea, the Blessed Surgeon

        In 1937, Vladyka was arrested, and spent more than two difficult years undergoing tortuous interrogation and humiliation.[note 4] Nonetheless, resting his hope in the Lord, he courageously endured those trials, not only refusing to agree to false accusations against him, but engaging in active protests – refusing to eat, and sending complaints to the highest authorities against the prosecutors’ illegal actions. He would say to his fellow prisoners,

        “They demand that I remove my ryassa. I will never do so. It, my ryassa, will be with me to my very death… I help people as a physician, and I help them as a servant of the Church….”

        The people who met him during his ordeals bore witness to his true character. As a physician he was Unmercenary and never asked for money treating all his patients with immense love. He shared his patients’ pain and anguish for he saw each person as an image of God, unique and unrepeatable.

        In 1940, Bishop Luke was sentenced to five years of exile in the Krasnoyarsk area. At the beginning of the Great Patriotic War (World War II), Bishop Luke offered the authorities his services as a doctor, and in 1941 was appointed consultant to the hospitals of Krasnoyarsk.

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          Geo Michalopulos says:

          Eliot, Scott: I’m gonna go out on a limb and state that the type of atheist you are referring to, the type that Robin “Lionheart” appears to be becoming, is not an atheist but an anti-theist. This anti-theism will degenerate (devolve? evolve? transform?) into a very religious system, not unlike Marxism/Leninism. Otherwise it will become nihilistic and destroy itself. Hence, it will be dogmatic and even if science proved the existence of the Triune God, he will refuse to accept it. Yes, it is an ideology but it’s more than that.

          There, I said it. We’ll see if I’m onto something or blowing smoke. (BTW, I am enjoying a new pipe today, so technically speaking I am blowing smoke!) What do you think?

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    Eliot Ryan says:

    The Sadness of Professor Richard Dawkins

    It also seems irrational to say that God does not exist, when you cannot prove it, – as irrational as to suggest that the Universe made itself. How rational is it to say that the fact that every snowflake is different from every other snowflake proves that the Universe came into being by itself? How rational is it to say that something so tiny and yet so complex as the human eyeball came into being through an unproven series of mysterious and unknowable developments? How rational is it to use the Hubble telescope to observe galaxies billions of light years away and still deny the possible existence of a Creator? How rational is it to claim definitively that God does not exist, when there are thousands of highly-qualified, ‘rational’ scientists all around the world who believe the opposite? Why jump to dogmatic conclusions about the Universe (‘there is no God’), when we know so infinitely little about it? Such claims, frankly, seem arrogant.

    The Lord has Risen up in Judgement A Saint Speacks to Europe from Dachau

    What can be said of those who flee the light of the Gospel for the darkness of Egypt and seek to enter into judgement with God with the same Jewish obstinacy of Old Testament times? We can only say that Christians who enter into judgement with God, who renounce Christ, show malice and disobedience to God Who is made manifest, and that they are foolish and sinful, worse than the Old Testament Jews, who did not wish to hear the angels of God, the prophets and the righteous, for they were insolent to the servants of the Master, but the former are insolent to the Master Himself.

    If the history of the last three centuries – the 18th, 19th and 20th – were to be given its true name, then there could not be found a more fitting name than ‘The Records of the Judgement between Europe and Christ’, for all the significant events in Europe of the last three centuries are connected to our Lord Jesus Christ.

    Then Christ asks with sorrow:

    - How can you people live solely for imperialistic, that is, materialistic interests, for the animal desire solely for bodily food? I wanted to make you gods and sons of God and you wish to make yourselves equal to beasts of burden.

    But Europe replies to this:

    - You are obsolete. Instead of your Gospel, we have discovered zoology and biology. Now we know that we are descendants of orang-outangs and gorillas – monkeys, we are not yours and not of your Heavenly Father. Now we are perfecting ourselves in order to become gods, for we do not recognize any gods other than ourselves.

    Christ replies:

    - You are more obstinate than the ancient Jews. I raised you up from the darkness of barbarianism to heavenly light, but once more you rush headlong towards the darkness, just as pigs rush headlong towards the mud. I shed my blood for you, I gave you My blood, when all the angels had turned away from you, for they could not bear your hellish stench. When you turned into darkness and stench, I alone rose up for you in order to enlighten and cleanse you. Return to me, otherwise you will once more find yourself in an unbearable stench and darkness.

    But Europe smiles mockingly:

    - Leave us. We do not know you. Greek philosophy and Roman culture are closer to us. We want freedom. We have universities. Science is our guiding star. Our motto is freedom, equality, brotherhood. Our reason is the god of gods. You are Asian, we renounce you. You are a mere fairy-tale told by our grandfathers and grandmothers.

    Christ says with tears in His eyes:

    - So, I will go away, but you will see and understand that you fell away from the path of God and took the path of the devil. Blessing and joy are taken from you. Your life and your death are in My hands, for I gave Myself up to crucifixion for you. But it is not I Who will punish you, your sins and your falling away from Me, your Saviour, will punish you. I showed the love of the Father for all people and wanted to save you all through love.

    But Europe replies to this:

    - What love? Sobriety and courageous hatred for all, who do not agree with us, this is our programme. Your love is a mere fable. We prefer nationalism and internationalism, the worship of science and culture, aesthetics, evolution and progress to your love. Our salvation is in these, but as for you, go away!

    Oh my brothers, nowadays progress is complete. Christ has left Europe, as once before Christ left Gadara at the insistence of the Gadarenes. But as soon as He left, there started wars, misfortunes, horrors, destruction, annihilation. Pre-Christian barbarianism has returned to Europe, that of the Avars, the Huns, the Lombards, the Vandals, only nightmarishly multiplied a hundredfold. Christ has taken up His Cross and His blessing and left. Darkness and stench have spilled forth. So decide who you want to be with: with the darkness and stench of Europe, or with Christ. Amen.

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      Eliot:

      How rational is it to say that the fact that every snowflake is different from every other snowflake proves that the Universe came into being by itself?

      Snowflakes forming themselves would not be a proof, but a counterargument to the claim that our universe could not form itself.

      How rational is it to say that something so tiny and yet so complex as the human eyeball came into being through an unproven series of mysterious and unknowable developments?

      Neither mysterious nor unknowable, as every step in this process exists in animals living today. Watch Sir David Attenborough explain it easily and simply.

      Old Darwin sussed those steps over 150 years ago, in Chapter 6 of Origin of Species:

      • photosensitive cell
      • aggregates of pigment cells without a nerve
      • an optic nerve surrounded by pigment cells and covered by translucent skin
      • pigment cells forming a small depression
      • pigment cells forming a deeper depression
      • the skin over the depression taking a lens shape
      • muscles allowing the lens to adjust

      How rational is it to use the Hubble telescope to observe galaxies billions of light years away and still deny the possible existence of a Creator?

      More rational than observing galaxies billions of light years away, galaxies our human eyes cannot even perceive, and assuming that this entire vast universe was designed by an intelligent being with the purpose of producing us.

      How rational is it to claim definitively that God does not exist, when there are thousands of highly-qualified, ‘rational’ scientists all around the world who believe the opposite?

      There are tens of thousands who do not, including the most highly qualified ones. As I mentioned to you in 21.1, leading scientists don’t believe in God. Arguments from authority are fallacious enough without citing people who mostly disagree with you.

      Why jump to dogmatic conclusions about the Universe (‘there is no God’), when we know so infinitely little about it? Such claims, frankly, seem arrogant.

      Indeed, why do you jump to the dogmatic conclusion that there is one? Why are you so egocentric as to believe that we insignificant beings on a tiny rock in an outer spiral arm of one little galaxy among hundreds of billions in just the observable part of this humongously vast universe, are the center of creation? Such arrogance!

      The joy of Richard Dawkins:

      The feeling of awed wonder that science can give us is one of the highest experiences of which the human psyche is capable. It is a deep aesthetic passion to rank with the finest that music and poetry can deliver. It is truly one of the things that make life worth living and it does so, if anything, more effectively if it convinces us that the time we have for living is quite finite.
      — Richard Dawkins, Unweaving the Rainbow, Preface

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        Eliot Ryan says:

        Finding suitable names for things and ideas for the enormous number of “new things” is necessary in order to be able to communicate our findings. Examples of suitable names for “new things” observed by Darwin : photosensitive cell, aggregates of pigment cells without a nerve, and so on.
        We are obliged to create a vocabulary and to find names to attach to new concepts with which science deals. In science, in order to make it possible to communicate and duplicate the results of experiments, we use standard units. Standard units do not prove neither invalidate theories.

        Neither mysterious nor unknowable, as every step in this process exists in animals living today.

        You keep using the same argument over and over again: “this process exists in animals living today”, “my cat displays all of those characteristics too”. These resemblances are rather proof of the existence of a Creator who designed both the human body and the bodies of animals. That is a possibility, and I see no reason to insist that evolution is the only possibility. In fact, according to the atheist evolutionist logic one can say that four-wheel vehicles evolved from two-wheel powered vehicles, and two-wheel powered vehicles evolved, over millions of years, from single wheel.

        The joy of Richard Dawkins: The feeling of awed wonder that science can give us is one of the highest experiences of which the human psyche is capable[...] convinces us that the time we have for living is quite finite.

        This is called worshiping our own human intelligence, but “what is human intelligence compared to God’s will and knowledge? Not even a single drop in the ocean!”
        The following are a few excerpts from the prophecies of the Righteous Dimitri Tarabicz (recorded around the 1850s).

        You see my god-father, when the world starts to live in peace and abundance after the Second Big War, all of that will be just a bitter illusion, because many will forget God and they will worship only their own human intelligence… And do you know my god-father, what is human intelligence compared to God’s will and knowledge? Not even a single drop in the ocean!
        [...]
        Those who will read and write different books with numbers will think that they know the most. These learned men will let their lives be led by their calculations, and they will do and live exactly how these numbers tell them. Among these learned men there will be good and evil men. The evil ones will do evil deeds. They will poison air and water and spread pestilence over the seas, rivers and earth, and people will start to die suddenly of various ailments. Those good and wise will see that all this effort and hard work is not worth a penny and that it leads to the destruction of the world, and instead of looking for wisdom in numbers, they will start to seek it in prayer.

        When they start to pray more, they will be closer to God’s wisdom, but it will be too late, because the evil ones will already ravage the whole earth and men will start to die in great numbers. Then people will run away from cities to the country and look for the mountains with three crosses, and there, inside, they will be able to breathe and drink water.

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    I wrote in 20.1.1.1.1:

    Eliot:
    Let us consider man… displaying intelligence (and related capacities: abstract thought, understanding, communication, reasoning, learning, planning, and problem solving) plus emotions (compassion, caring, love, appreciation, gratitude, forgiveness) uniquely combined to yield different personalities, appearances, etc.

    Uniquely? My cat displays all of those characteristics too.

    Eliot writes:

    How rational is it to say that something so tiny and yet so complex as the human eyeball came into being through an unproven series of mysterious and unknowable developments?

    Neither mysterious nor unknowable, as every step in this process exists in animals living today. Watch Sir David Attenborough explain it easily and simply.

    You keep using the same argument over and over again: “this process exists in animals living today”, “my cat displays all of those characteristics too”.

    You completely misunderstood what I wrote, and did not watch that three minute video, if you mistook those for the same argument.

    For eyes, I made a very different argument: For each transitional stage of eye development, an animal with that sort of eye is living today. We have living examples of every step from photosensitive cell to human eye, and also of ones more capable than ours, like squid eyes which can see polarization of light and don’t have the flaws of ours, like backwards rods and cones or blind spots where our optic nerve runs on top of the retina instead of beneath. (If our badly structured eyes were designed, their designer botched the job terribly!)

    In fact, according to the atheist evolutionist logic one can say that four-wheel vehicles evolved from two-wheel powered vehicles, and two-wheel powered vehicles evolved, over millions of years, from single wheel.

    No, “evolutionist logic” contradicts your stupid metaphor. Vehicles are neither alive, nor capable of reproducing themselves, nor natural.

    Eliot:
    The sadness of Professor Richard Dawkins…

    The joy of Richard Dawkins:

    The feeling of awed wonder that science can give us is one of the highest experiences of which the human psyche is capable.

    This is called worshiping our own human intelligence…

    No, that’s not what Richard Dawkins was doing. A little more context:

    To accuse science of robbing life of the warmth that makes it worth living is so preposterously mistaken, so diametrically opposite to my own feeelings and those of most working scientists, I am almost driven to the despair of which I am wrongly suspected. But in this book I shall try a more positive response, appealing to the sense of wonder in science because it is so sad to think what these complainers and naysayers are missing. This is one of the things that the late Carl Sagan did so well, and for which he is sadly missed. The feeling of awed wonder that science can give us is one of the highest experiences of which the human psyche is capable. It is a deep aesthetic passion to rank with the finest that music and poetry can deliver.
    — Richard Dawkins, Unweaving the Rainbow, Preface

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      Eliot Ryan says:

      Robin:

      No, that’s not what Richard Dawkins was doing. A little more context:

      To accuse science of robbing life of the warmth that makes it worth living is so preposterously mistaken, so diametrically opposite to my own feeelings and those of most working scientists, I am almost driven to the despair of which I am wrongly suspected.[...]It is a deep aesthetic passion to rank with the finest that music and poetry can deliver.

      Akathist Hymn: Glory to God for All Things

      The breath of Your Holy Spirit inspires artists, poets, scientists. The power of Your supreme knowledge makes them prophets and interpreters of Your laws, who reveal the depths of Your creative wisdom. Their works speak unwittingly of You. How great are You in Your creation! How great are You in man!

      Glory to You, showing Your unsurpassable power in the laws of the universe.
      Glory to You, for all nature is filled with Your laws.
      Glory to You for what You have revealed to us in Your mercy.
      Glory to You for what you have hidden from us in Your wisdom.
      Glory to You for the inventiveness of the human mind.
      Glory to You for the dignity of man’s labor.
      Glory to You for the tongues of fire that bring inspiration.
      Glory to You, O God, from age to age.

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        Eliot:

        Akathist Hymn: Glory to God for All Things

        The breath of Your Holy Spirit inspires artists, poets, scientists…. Glory… Glory… Glory… Glory… Glory… Glory… Glory… Glory…

        Since one deity‐glorifying hymn deserves another:

        Saraswati Chalisa (A hymn to Saraswati)

        Glory, glory, all glory to you, O Bharati, who are Saraswati,
        the goddess of Speech, who are revered throughout the world.
        Glory to you, O Mother, who are the inexhaustible fountainhead of blessings
        and on whom the gods, men, hermits and votaries wait.

        Glory to you, O Mother Shambhavi you are creative sound and sacred speech;
        you play on the veena and love lotuses;
        you are the supreme goddess of the world
        and the only support of the poet.

        Glory, all glory to you, O Saraswati, the mother of the world!
        Tarry not today, O Mother, but come at once (to deliver me from ignorance).
        Make my throat your dwelling and bless me with sacred speech,
        considering that I, your own son am ignorant.

        Grant me faith and bringing my efforts to fruition
        bless me with the strength of wisdom and the power of knowledge,
        so that I may win victory and become a universal celebrity.
        This I say, O Mother, with my head bowed everyday to your feet.

        O queen consort, all the seven musical notes and all mellifluous speech,
        which is sweet as nectar, are but the ambrosial water with which your feet are washed (or the sacred water flowing from your feet).
        Your appearance is as beautiful as the fair, full autumnal moon
        and the swan your white vehicle looks charming.

        Your shapely and beautiful eyes rival the loveliness of the lotus and your right forehead the luster of the moon.
        The Veena in your hand and the wreath of the malati flowers are two of your other adornments.
        The Serpent-King and the great god Mahesha sing your praise everyday,
        while myriad of Loves (Kama) feel abashed when they behold your beauty.

        Glory to you, O goddess of creative art and its embellisher;
        you dwell on the tongues of the poet and the minstrel.
        Glory to you, O Kaushiki and beloved of Gauri!
        Glory, all glory to you, O beloved of the four-faced Brahma!

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          Eliot Ryan says:

          Robin: you need to go back to comment no. 67. “He and his fallen angels are quite adept at preaching “different gospels” and creating new “religious systems.”” In order to confuse, they usually imitate or copy; they are not creators.
          It is good to have you around Robin, but frankly, I am getting tired.

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            Nick Katich says:

            Eliot:

            You could append to your comment to Robin about getting tired, the following additional words of wisdom:

            “There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact”. –Mark Twain

            “Science does not know its debt to imagination”. — Ralph Waldo Emerson

            “Science is built up of facts, as a house is built of stones; but an accumulation of facts is no more a science than a heap of stones is a house”. — Henri Poincaré

            “Physics is mathematical not because we know so much about the physical world, but because we know so little; it is only its mathematical properties that we can discover”. — Bertrand Russell

            “Science is always wrong. It never solves a problem without creating ten more”. — George Bernard Shaw

            “Theory helps us bear our ignorance of facts”. — George Santayana

            And finally:

            “A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it”. Max Planck

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            Geo Michalopulos says:

            Nick, if I may add something recent which shows the utter dogmatism of modern “science” and how its pieties can be overturned, please go to the recent issue of Discover (Jan/Feb 2011, p 20). The famed evolutionary biologist, E O Wilson, is interviewed. Why? Because in 1985, he postulated a new theory of evolution called “sociobiology” that took the evolutionary world by storm. Though not popular at first, by the 1990s, his doctrine of “inclusive fitness” had become evolutionary orthodoxy.

            So why am I writing this, because Darwin’s theory of natural selection (which acted only on individuals within species, not entire populations as Wilson was now positing) was up-ended? No, good science is always corrected (“falsifiability”). But because now Wilson is repudiating his theory. In the words of the interviewer, “…the scientific world quaked last August when Wilson renounced the theory that he had made famous…he reported in Nature that the mathematical construct on which inclusive fitness was based crumbles under closer scrutiny. The new work indicates that self-sacrifice to protect a relation’s genes does not drive evolution.”

            Now think of this: right before I went to college, natural selection as the driving force for evolution was being overturned by probably the greatest living biologist of the 20th century. After some resistance, it became the orthodoxy du jour. Now, it’s proponent is looking at the data and saying “oops, I forgot to carry the one.” (Forgive my flippancy, I have a tremendous amount of respect for Wilson.) Mind you, this is good science: the scientific method is being followed.

            So what’s my beef? The hosannahs that are being sung and the dogmas that are being proclaimed by the likes of Robin and his like; that the “case is closed,” and “nobody in their right mind questions Darwinism anymore,” etc. So who looks foolish now?

            I said it in another thread (about the New Atheism) but I’ll be even more blunt now: remember the movie Planet of the Apes? Remember when Taylor took Dr Zaius hostage and took him to the Forbidden Zone and showed Zaius the truth about human superiority? What did Zaius do? Did it matter? No, because he already knew the truth. All he was concerned about was preserving the reigning orthodoxy, so he callously blew up the evidence. My point is this: the New Atheists don’t care about the truth. It’s the reigning orthodoxy that matters, nothing more.

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              The hosannahs that are being sung and the dogmas that are being proclaimed by the likes of Robin and his like

              I stopped singing hosannahs and proclaiming dogmas when I gave up Christianity.

              that the “case is closed,” and “nobody in their right mind questions Darwinism anymore,” etc. So who looks foolish now?

              Your foolish straw men saying such things.

              Remember when Taylor took Dr Zaius hostage and took him to the Forbidden Zone and showed Zaius the truth about human superiority? What did Zaius do? Did it matter? No, because he already knew the truth. All he was concerned about was preserving the reigning orthodoxy, so he callously blew up the evidence. My point is this: the New Atheists don’t care about the truth.

              Wow, did you miss the point. Pro-orthodoxy, anti-science Dr. Zaius, Chief Defender of the Faith, keeper of the ancient scrolls, who arrests Cornelius and Zira for heresy, represented not atheism but religion.

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              So in a nutshell, your argument was: E. O. Wilson repudiated his own theory, therefore science cares only about “preserving the reigning orthodoxy”? You disproved your own conclusion.

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            Eliot:

            you need to go back to comment no. 67. “He and his fallen angels are quite adept at preaching “different gospels” and creating new “religious systems.”” In order to confuse, they usually imitate or copy; they are not creators.

            You only say that because you’ve been deceived by Loki, who would you not read the Eddas and know your true lineage, descended from the first man, Aske, formed by Odin from an ash tree, and the first woman, Embla, formed by Odin from an elm, whom he endowed with life and souls.~ For so it is written, we are not descended from ape-like hominids, as overwhelming scientific evidence would have us believe; Nay, the legendary Truth, borne through time from antiquity, is that our True ancestors are trees!~

            Norse creation myths are just as credible as your creation myth of a rib-woman convinced by a talking snake into eating the fruit of a magic tree, while all creation myths are far less credible than the evidence-backed findings of anthropology.

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            Nick Katich says:

            Robin: You still haven’t told me where the primordial speck of plasma came from that initiated the Big Bang. Until you tell me that, all of your stuff is still mythological. Also, if it always existed, what made it explode? And if it did not always exist, from whence did it achieve a critical mass for the explosion? Don’t tell me a collapsing universe since the evidence is the opposite. In any evet, there has never been anyone that has come up with a mathematical answer to that. You either have stasis or you have something that causes hyperstasis. Which is it, Mr. Physicist?

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            Nick Katich says:

            Robin: Forgive me. My questions presumes you “believe” in causality or are you a Nul-A?

  71. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Scott Pennington says:
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    Eliot Ryan says:

    “Why I Am Not An Atheist” An Interview With Dcn. Andrei Kurayev

    As a result of all these studies he was steeped in the critical attitude to belief in God and stuffed with atheistic arguments. What happened then? How did the skeptical mind of a Soviet atheist make a turnabout? We shall try to explain it, but warn you straight away that all the words expressed will still leave behind them a MYSTERY — a MYSTERY of Divine influence on human life, a MYSTERY of the Holy Spirit Who breathes where He wills.

    Let us open the book by Andrei Kurayev titled Is It All the Same How to Believe?

    “One becomes a Christian not because somebody has driven one into a corner by pure arguments. Simply one’s soul at a point comes in touch with the Divine. Or, as one Orthodox theologian put it, ‘nobody would ever become a monk unless he once saw the shining of eternal life in the face of another person’. A believer differs from a non-believer simply in that the range of his experience is greater, just as a person with an ear for music differs from those who do not hear the harmony of music accords. If a person has the experience of an encounter with God, so much changes in this world for him! But if he loses it, so much gets darkened! One young man wrote at the dawn of the 19th century: ‘If a person has been given this virtue of union with Christ, he meets the blows of fate with calmness and inner tranquility, opposing courageously the storms of passions and withstanding fearlessly the rage of evil. How can you fail to endure suffering if you know that by persisting in Christ and working zealously you glorify God Himself?!’ Later, after rejecting Christ, the author of these remarkable words about a life-time union would write only about alienation. The name of this young man was Karl Marx.”

    There is an account of how exactly the conversion of Andrei Kurayev, a student of Moscow State University, happened in reality. In the same book Is It All the Same How to Believe? we read:

    “For me a turning point occurred during one wordless encounter at the Holy Trinity St. Sergius Monastery. Sometime at the beginning of 1982, I happened to be there as a student of the chair of atheism and a Komsomol activist. I had to accompany a group of Hungarian student tourists. I did not remember the worship service and was little interested in architecture and history. But when we were coming out of the Cathedral of the Trinity, a miracle happened. Walking out in front of me was a young man from another group. Just two steps before reaching the threshold, he suddenly turned around briskly to face me. But he was not looking at me. He was looking at the icons in the heart of the church in order to make a sign of the cross at them and to receive a blessing before coming out. I just turned out to stand between him and the icons. For the first time in my life I could see the eyes of a believer so close. No, there was nothing mysterious or enigmatic about them. A similar impression is often put upon for some obscure reason by actors playing priests. The eyes of the young man, however, were just bright, meaningful and lively. And a thought penetrated me: why does this guy, who was taught the same stuff at school as I was, knows something completely closed to me for all my religious studies? Indeed, he knows whatever I was taught, but it is he who feels at home here, while I am a stranger. Does it mean that to become a believer one should know something that atheists do not know?

    Read more: “Why I Am Not An Atheist” : Journey To Orthodoxy | The Orthodox Christian ‘Welcome Home’ Network for Converts

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    Michael Bauman says:

    I’ve come to the conclusion that Robin really doesn’t exist. He is just a figment of Fr. Han’s imagination simply made up in order to keep folks interested and keep us on his side. After all there is no empirical evidence that he exists. We just have the poster that call’s himself ‘Robin”s word for it.

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      Nick Katich says:

      Michael: Intriguing idea. Maybe it is possible. Fr. Hans is quite able to pull off something like that (that is a compliment to Fr. Hans, by the way).

      Also, until you guys started called “him” him, I assumed Robin was a girl. In any event, although I got tired before Eliot did and dropped out of the dialogue, I was trying to suggest that you cannot argue with them on our terms since they don’t understand or accept our terms. The only way to argue with them is by arguing and questioning their science, most of which, quite frankly is theoretical speculative junk. The only thing Robin could do in response is to vaguely say that my understanding of the science was superficial but never giving anything concrete. One example is string theory. I never elucidated on string theory but did raise a comical scenario. The response was — you don’t understand string theory.

      I think my post to Eliot from quotations of Mark Twain’s to Max Planck’s is the stuff that they cannot respond to because they poignantly reveal that most science is speculation and that is why it is called theory.

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        Eliot Ryan says:

        Nick, I agree that “most science is speculation and that is why it is called theory” but we should not underestimate the remaining small fraction of true science. Nowadays there is a competition between Truth and the feeling of awed wonder that science can give us. Science can be a good thing but the historical record clearly shows that weapons, destruction, annihilation and pollution are the bitter fruits of science without God. “Without Me ye can do nothing,” (John 15:5)
        The prophecies of the Righteous Dimitri Tarabicz (recorded around the 1850s) mention good and wise scientists, as well as evil ones who will ravage the whole earth. The mysterious phenomenon of thousands of dead birds dropping out of the sky in two towns on opposite sides of the world is all too real.
        Modern “miracles” can be performed using some kind of extremely advanced electromagnetic (EM) technology such resonant EM standing-waves strongly interacting with plasma-like substances creating striking geometric patterns. http://www.enterprisemission.com/Norway-Message3.htm

        Such false signs and wonders can be associated with the false Christs and prophets in Matthew 24:24 “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.”

        Vatican II & New Age are all too real and a technologically faked (holographic) messianic event is not an impossibility.

        Computers will coordinate the satellites and software already in place will run the sky show [...] Specifically, the show will consist of multiple holographic images to different parts of the world, each receiving a different image according to the specific national, regional religion. Not a single area will be excluded. With computer animation and sounds appearing to emanate from the very depths of space, astonished ardent followers of the various creeds will witness their own returned messiahs in convincing lifelike reality.

        Then the projections of Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, Krishna, etc., will merge into one after correct explanations of the mysteries and revelations will have been disclosed. [...]
        The United Nation even now plans to use Beethovan’s ‘Song of Joy’ as the anthem for the introduction for the new age one world religion.

        All these are very different than the miracles of St. Spyridon at the 1st Ecumenical Synod of Nicaea. Back then there was a competition between Truth and rhetorical art.

        Those who defended the truth with loyal arguments attacked the Sophist, but he made use of the ambiguities of language, insidious arguments and misleading tricks like weapons, and he believed that like this he would win. However, so that words would not be those that would finally win, but Christ and Truth, the victory «passed over» the learned men and «stopped» upon the simple Spyridon. As soon as the Saint, who did not know anything save «Christ, and him crucified» (1Cor.2,2), as the Apostle Paul says, saw the philosopher become heated with his sophisms, speak about Christ using offensive language and trying to denigrate the Orthodox dogmas, he drew near and asked to speak to him. Nevertheless, the pious Orthodox, who knew the simple ways of the Saint and that he was ignorant of the Greek culture, prevented him from going to oppose the Sophist. Saint Spyridon, however, did not let them stop him, because he knew that the Wisdom from on high is superior to the human and ephemeral wisdom; he approached the Sophist, then, and said to him: «In the Name of Jesus­ Christ, note my words, philosopher, and listen to what I want to tell you!». The Sophist replied to him: «Speak and I will listen to you! ». Spyridon then said: «There is only one God, Creator of heaven and earth. He created the heavenly Powers, made man from clay and created simultaneously all things visible and invisible. It was by His Word and His Spirit that heaven and earth were created, the sea flew out, the firmament stretched out, the animals were born, man was created, the most beautiful of His creatures. All the stars were created, the sun and the moon, night, day and all the rest. We know, then, that the Word is the Son of God and God Himself. We believe that, for us, He was born of the Virgin, was crucified and buried. Then he rose and raised us with Him, granting us incorruptible and immortal life. We assert that He will come a second time to judge all people and examine our own works, words and thoughts. He is of the same essence (homoousios) as the Father, equal in dignity, and reigns with Him. Don’t you agree philosopher? », he asked him.

        We must relate here the famous miracle of the tile. After these words, the Saint took a tile in his left hand and held it tight. Moreover, for a wonder! Fire rose up immediately in the air, water poured out on the earth and the argyle of the clay remained in the hands of the Saint, symbolising in this way the life giving and indivisible Trinity. Everybody was amazed. The philosopher did not seem to be the same person any more, to possess neither the same mind nor the same language, he that knew so well to oppose and to quarrel. He remained stunned, his soul was filled with surprise and his voice faded away. After some time of silence, he could not say anything else but: «I share the same view! ». Then the Saint said to him: «Then go on, if you agree with me, don’t be in disagreement by your works! Since you know who is the God who created all things, get up and go to church to confess the Orthodox Creed».

        At these words, the philosopher returned to the true faith and addressing himself to his disciples and to the other listeners, he said: «Until now, we fought in words and I won by means of my rhetorical skill. However, since a divine force which opposed me has manifested an ineffable and mystical power through the simple words of bishop Spyridon, I do not feel ashamed to admit that I have been defeated. I would joyfully advise then, myself as well as the others: if they are not so perverted so as to wish to change the Truth, to believe in Christ and to follow this saintly Venerable Father, whose human words are nothing else than the Words of God. »

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      Michael:

      I’ve come to the conclusion that Robin really doesn’t exist. He is just a figment of Fr. Han’s imagination simply made up in order to keep folks interested and keep us on his side. After all there is no empirical evidence that he exists. We just have the poster that call’s himself ‘Robin”s word for it.

      Let’s think that hypothesis through. Hans’s figmentary atheists have several properties:

      • They are almost all Marxists.
      • They deny anything transcendent.
      • They necessarily embrace nihilism.
      • They refuse to address the “brutality unleased by atheist dogma”.
      • They posit God to deny him.

      I explicitly possess none of those properties. So, in order for you hypothesis to be true, Fr. Hans would’ve had to imagine an atheist who’s opposite of everything he says atheists are. To imagine someone who is a counterexample to all his claims, Hans would, in short, have to imagine being completely wrong. Then write a character who tells him off.

      Seems implausible to me.

      Nick:

      Fr. Hans is quite able to pull off something like that (that is a compliment to Fr. Hans, by the way).

      Fr. Hans strikes me as neither humble nor imaginative enough to pull it off. Although Hans does engage in revisionist history, I don’t have reason to think he’d be quite so dishonest as to hoax you all with a sock puppet.

      Also, until you guys started called “him” him, I assumed Robin was a girl.

      Perhaps they bought Eliot’s oracularity in 48.1.1:

      You are a fine man, perhaps fairly good looking, in your mid thirties, happily engaged but not married. You have plenty of time to turn to God.

      Was that meant to be a “word of knowledge”, Eliot? If so, you blew it; whatever voice in your head you listened to was not telling you the truth.

      The only thing Robin could do in response is to vaguely say that my understanding of the science was superficial but never giving anything concrete.

      Did too. In 42.2.1.1, I went into paragraphs of detail about why I call your scientific knowledge superficial. And 38.1.1.1 was so full of extended quotations and supporting links that my attempts to post it were originally blocked as spam.

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        Nick Katich says:

        Robin: You fail to take several things into account:

        1. Fr. Hans is that smart and capable of doing that.

        2. In his zeal, his imagination would have created the penultimate opposite. No reputable scientist would be as “dogmatic” as you ignoring any doubts. In other words, one who doubts nothing and holds to a hyper-rigid construct is not an opposite but rather an extreme opposite. In his zeal he is capable of creating such an impossible opposite.

        3. Your knowledge of science is absolutely superficial and I note he did not want to get into that area saying he would defer to me and Chris.

        4.

        Did too. In 42.2.1.1, I went into paragraphs of detail about why I call your scientific knowledge superficial. And 38.1.1.1 was so full of extended quotations and supporting links that my attempts to post it were originally blocked as spam.

        You did not respond to my reply to your 42.2.1.1 and your 38.1.1.1 were superficial garbage not deserving of a reply.

        5. Lionheart could also be a pun.

        Fess up Fr. Hans!

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          Nick:

          Fr. Hans is that smart and capable of doing that.

          You mean Fr. Hans Jacobse who wrote:

          The fact that almost all (thinking) atheists are Marxists is Exhibit A.

          Nazism unleashed a torrent of blood, but that was merely atheism in Teutonic dress.

          Atheism can only arise in a Christian culture. It’s a conceptual impossibility anywhere else. Atheism presumes monotheism.

          One must first have A in order to posit non-A.

          In light of how frequently Hans says stupid things, your assessment of his smarts seems rather dubious.

          Nick:

          No reputable scientist would be as “dogmatic” as you ignoring any doubts. In other words, one who doubts nothing and holds to a hyper-rigid construct is not an opposite but rather an extreme opposite.

          I’m no longer a Christian because I didn’t ignore my doubts. If anything, I’m adamant for doubt. Perhaps you’ve projected your own dogmatism onto me.

          Your knowledge of science is absolutely superficial…

          How so? Back up your charge, like I did mine.

          You did not respond to my reply to your 42.2.1.1 and your 38.1.1.1 were superficial garbage not deserving of a reply.

          You did not reply to 42.2.1.1. In 38.1.1.1, I did your homework and researched your topics, giving your claims substantiated rebuttals with citations. Instead of responding to my substantive, concrete, intellectual discussion in kind, you now belatedly, lazily dismiss my (uncontested) points as “garbage not deserving of a reply”.

          I’m disappointed with you, Nick. At first you seemed genuinely interested in having a serious conversation, but then you gave yourself away as a pseudointellectual who doesn’t understand the basics of things he claims to have extensively researched, who runs from the debate when someone exposes his ignorance and tears apart his hollow arguments.

          Lionheart could also be a pun.

          For my fierce rhetoric? It’d be a fine pen name, were it not my actual surname.

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          Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

          Well, I suppose I could have created Robin as figment of my imagination but it would be too much trouble and take too much time!

          Interesting though that Robin’s “proof” that he is the real Robin are intangibles, what a thorough (and honest) materialist would argue are things that are not really real.

          That Robin argues (as he does above) that these intangibles are the proof the I don’t really understand atheism does no such thing of course. It merely indicates that he has not thought his atheism through to any appreciable degree. He doesn’t understand the ground or the implications of his beliefs (yes, beliefs).

          For that reason that things I said about atheism (attraction to Marxism, Nazism as atheism in Teutonic dress, the blood of the atheistic project of the last century, atheism is a conceptual possibility only in a Christian culture [don't confuse apathy or agnosticism with atheism Robin; the a-theist must first presume theism; the atheism of the atheist is mono-theistic in orientation], still stand. Put more simply, although Robin presents himself as exhibit A his proof of the falsity of my assertions, it doesn’t work because he does not understand the atheism that he professes he believes.

          I’m not alone in my estimation of the atheistic apologetic of course. There really isn’t much “there” there. It doesn’t produce much of anything actually, except perhaps a surplus of adamance.

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            Hans:

            Interesting though that Robin’s “proof” that he is the real Robin are intangibles, what a thorough (and honest) materialist would argue are things that are not really real.

            The electronic record of you writing those statements is real enough. Words are symbols representing intangible ideas, but ink and electrons have physical reality, as do sets of neurons firing in your brain.

            That Robin argues (as he does above) that these intangibles are the proof the I don’t really understand atheism does no such thing of course…. the atheism of the atheist is mono-theistic in orientation…

            Thanks for saving me some typing by refuting yourself.

            My previous rebuttals in 1.1.1.1, 24.1.1.2, 63.1.1.1 still stand.

            There really isn’t much “there” there. It doesn’t produce much of anything actually…

            Of course an absence of a belief has no “there” there. What’d you expect? There’s nothing to it.

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        Eliot Ryan says:

        You are a fine man, perhaps fairly good looking, in your mid thirties, happily engaged but not married. You have plenty of time to turn to God.

        Was that meant to be a “word of knowledge”, Eliot? If so, you blew it; whatever voice in your head you listened to was not telling you the truth.

        No, Robin, that is my definition of immaturity. If the situation is different must be that there are some wise people around you. Please, don’t tell me that all people you love and care for are atheists. This would be an inhumane environment not suited for human beings or their requirements.

        How can you prove that God exists? by Fr. Andrew Phillips.

        Personally, I never engage in arguments with atheists etc. It is waste of time and energy, sometimes doing more harm than good through exciting passions. The point is this:

        Atheists argue from reason/intellect. We argue from life, living experience, from the heart moulded by daily life and prayer. So we have two completely different approaches. It could even be said that the fact that for us there is NO rational proof of the existence of God is proof that He exists. For us, He is Creator and we are creation. How can you expect the created human reason to understand the Creator, when our knowledge (so-called science/scientia) of the Creation is still minute, even though it increases daily? If we could understand God, it would be proof that He is a manmade myth. Only the real God is beyond human reason, meta-rational (though not irrational). …

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          Eliot:

          You are a fine man, perhaps fairly good looking, in your mid thirties, happily engaged but not married. You have plenty of time to turn to God.

          Was that meant to be a “word of knowledge”, Eliot? If so, you blew it…

          No, Robin, that is my definition of immaturity.

          im·ma·tur·i·ty n. fine, perhaps fairly good looking, man in his mid thirties, engaged to be married.

          Please, don’t tell me that all people you love and care for are atheists.

          Why would you imagine I would ever say that? You can put your mind at ease: many people I love and care for are theists, including most of my family.

          You quote Fr. Andrew Phillips:

          It could even be said that the fact that for us there is NO rational proof of the existence of God is proof that He exists.

          Ha, how speciously convenient. Let my try that logic with another creator deity who surpasses mortal understanding:

          If there is proof the Flying Spaghetti Monster exists, that proves the Flying Spaghetti Monster exists.
          If there is no proof the Flying Spaghetti Monster exists, that proves the Flying Spaghetti Monster exists.

          Wow, that proves it, hail the Noodly One!~

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        Michael Bauman says:

        Still no empirical evidence that Robin actually exists. Until you can show me the evidence that you exist, I’m not going to believe in you. Oh, BTW, I get to decide what evidence I will accept as vaild. Since I don’t accept the assumption that there are such things as atheists in the the first place, you’ll have to start somewhere else. No digital representation of your supposed thougth will do, no testimony of your closest friends, in fact I can think of nothing that will convince me that you exist, since you deny the necessity and importance of being. Since I would have to accept the existence of “Robin” on faith alone, I would simply rather not believe.

        I’m an arobinist. Anybody want to join me in starting a new AAA group (American Association of Arobinists)?

        At best “Robin” is a sophisticated internet bot designed to collect and replicate the meaderings of other God denyers.

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          Eliot Ryan says:

          Michael: Great summary of of the atheist’s way of reasoning. :)

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          Michael:

          Until you can show me the evidence that you exist, I’m not going to believe in you. Oh, BTW, I get to decide what evidence I will accept as vaild. Since I don’t accept the assumption that there are such things as atheists in the the first place, you’ll have to start somewhere else.

          If that were a case I cared to waste my time making, I’d start with other human beings besides yourself existing.

          But go ahead and deny atheists exist if you think that’s clever. Next you may want to deny the existence of Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and then move on to Mormons, Mennonites, Quakers, Shakers, and so forth. If you really apply yourself, you can deny any point of view besides your own, and make yourself autistic. :)

          …I can think of nothing that will convince me that you exist, since you deny the necessity and importance of being.

          When have I ever denied the necessity and importance of being? Personally, I like existing. Being is the way to be!

          For my part, your posts sufficiently convince me of a rather ordinary claim that Michael Bauman exists, though I could be wrong and would reconsider if contrary evidence comes to light.

          Anybody want to join me in starting a new AAA group (American Association of Arobinists)?

          That initialism is taken, you might want to add another A.

          At best “Robin” is a sophisticated internet bot …

          Cool! If so, maybe you should submit me for the $100,000 Loebner Prize.

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    Eliot Ryan says:

    Robin, I told you that I was raised in a society where it was considered cool to criticise and mock religious believes. The trick works to some extent… It did fool many people but not everyone. Christianity is the regular target of most atheist.
    I find this tactics childish, embarrassing, tasteless and immoral. The trick works on ignorant people. Nowadays we praise critical thinking (the ability to rationally decide what to do and what to believe) while indoctrinating students with one side of the story. The communists did play the trick on young people and it did work until they found out about the millions of crimes hidden from them by these regimes.

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      Eliot:

      Robin, I told you that I was raised in a society where it was considered cool to criticise and mock religious believes.

      Yes, you did not answer my question in 60.1, what “atheist society” are you from?

      The trick works to some extent… It did fool many people but not everyone.

      Criticism of Christianity is no “trick”. There’s a lot to criticize about your religion. You’ve probably even heard some from other Christians.

      Christianity is the regular target of most atheist.

      All religions are equally wrong to me, but as an ex-Christian, Christianity is the religion I’m most familiar with. Living in the American South, most people I get into arguments with are Christians. And in the US, when atheists’ freedoms get trampled upon (frex, firing people for being atheists, trying to have politicians removed from office for being atheists, trying to ban atheist billboards, jailing people for refusing to recite the Pledge of Allegiance), the bigots are generally Christians.

      If I lived in the Middle East, no doubt I’d spend a lot more energy on Islam.

      I find this tactics childish, embarrassing, tasteless and immoral.

      I find most religions a bit childish, kind of like adults believing in Santa Claus.

      Nowadays we praise critical thinking (the ability to rationally decide what to do and what to believe) while indoctrinating students with one side of the story.

      Are we still talking about Christianity? Public schools mostly don’t do religious indoctrination here, despite schools trying to post the 10 Commandments, religious bigotry in the Pledge of Allegiance our schoolkids are often forced to recite, and so forth.

      The communists did play the trick on young people and it did work until they found out about the millions of crimes hidden from them by these regimes.

      I guess you were talking about indoctrinating students with Communist propaganda. So, are you from a Communist regime, then?

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    Nick, 70.1.1.1.4:

    Robin: You still haven’t told me where the primordial speck of plasma came from that initiated the Big Bang. … Also, if it always existed, what made it explode? And if it did not always exist, from whence did it achieve a critical mass for the explosion?

    “Still”? You never asked.

    I’ll have to add “the Big Bang” to that list of things you don’t understand the basics of, then. The Big Bang, despite Fred Hoyle’s initially pejorative name for it, was not an explosion, it was an expansion. No primoridal speck of plasma, no critical mass, just pure energy at incredibly high temperature.

    Matter formed out of radiation as the cosmos expanded and cooled. About 0.0001 second after the expansion of the universe began, elementary particles froze out as the temperature dropped below 10^13 degrees Kelvin…

    Am I wasting my time? Last time I explained science to you, you dismissed my response as “garbage not deserving of a reply”.

    How about this, then: If you would like to know about the Big Bang, Simon Singh’s “Big Bang: The Origin of the Universe” is a good place to start, which you may find more accessible than Steven Hawking’s “A Brief History of Time”.

    Until you tell me that, all of your stuff is still mythological.

    No, even if I’d been unable to answer that, plate tectonics, evolution, et cetera would still not be mythological. Scientists not having all the answers does not invalidate the answers they do have.

  76. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Nick Katich says:

    Robin:

    Now you really exhibit your ignorance of the theory. Let me teach you.

    “Speck” is a term of language. According to the generally accepted “belief”, there was a point (I don’t want to argue how big it was, because that is irrelevant) where there was only energy, highly compact and isotroptic). I also don’t want to argue whether it was an “explosion” or and “expansion” because now you are playing a sophistic game. Everyone knows, reading this, that an explosion is a rapid expansion.

    Based on general relativity and an assumption of isotrophy (and this is a pure assumption because singularity breaks down at this point, as least as we know it), there is no theory yet that I am aware of as to what caused this infinitely dense and hot “glob” (my term) of energy to begin a rapid expansion. The “belief” that an expansion occurred is posited but not explained. What is explained in the moment that expansion begins is that matter and anti-matter would have been created in equal proportions (randomness can result in nothing more nor less mathematically). Given that isotrophy of matter and anti-matter anihilating itself constantly, we would still have nothing but a lot of hot energy.

    But because we have matter, it is “assumed” (working backwards) that there must have occured an imbalance between matter and anti-matter (in this case baryons and anti-baryons, I believe). I must admit that that works beautifully! However, because of the absence or paucity of anti-matter, the theory seems wrong. It does not explain (i) why the imbalance occurred and/or (ii) why the absence or paucity of anti-matter.

    I suppose the anti-matter that existed was anahilated by the matter and what we have is the surplus matter. But that is a real stretch given the isotrophy assumption. Something makes no sense. It has yet to be explained. It is at best a supposition in progress. However, if you want to call it a “mystery”, I will respect that and you.

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      Nick:

      And if it did not always exist, from whence did it achieve a critical mass for the explosion?

      The Big Bang, despite Fred Hoyle’s initially pejorative name for it, was not an explosion, it was an expansion.

      I also don’t want to argue whether it was an “explosion” or and “expansion” because now you are playing a sophistic game. Everyone knows, reading this, that an explosion is a rapid expansion.

      You spoke of a “critical mass” as if you were speaking of a nuclear explosion, so you were not using “explosion” figuratively. Now you are playing a game of trying to equivocate “explosion” and “expansion” to save face. Don’t bullshit, just admit your mistake and move on. It was a common misunderstanding.

      The “belief” that an expansion occurred is posited but not explained.

      Still occurring. The universe is still expanding in all directions.

      Based on general relativity and an assumption of isotrophy … Given that isotrophy of matter and anti-matter… given the isotrophy assumption…

      It’s spelled “isotropy”.

      It does not explain (i) why the imbalance occurred and/or (ii) why the absence or paucity of anti-matter…. It has yet to be explained. It is at best a supposition in progress. However, if you want to call it a “mystery”, I will respect that and you.

      Now that I don’t know. Why the universe had an excess of matter over antimatter is a fascinating mystery. Asymmetry between kaons and antikaons may provide a clue to solving it.

  77. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Nick Katich says:

    You spoke of a “critical mass” as if you were speaking of a nuclear explosion, so clearly you did not mean “explosion” figuratively. Now you are playing a game of trying to equivocate “explosion” and “expansion” to save face. Don’t bullshit, just admit your mistake and move on.

    According to relativity, the primordial, whatever it was, would have had infinite mass and don’t tell me it was infinite energy with no mass. That is against Einstein’s equations. Some mechanism would be need to pull it apart to cause the “expansion”. There is no theory of which I am aware that posits perpetual expansion prior to the “event”. Therefore, something must have occurred. “Critical mass” is a figure of speech. It comes from nuclear language but it is a metaphor for some critical, if you will, “event” that changes statis. It anin’t “bullshit”. It is a “critical” question as of yet unanswered. Either Einstien in wrong or the Big Bang is wrong.

    Still occurring. The universe is still expanding in all directions.

    But it is expanding at the outer limits faster than it should. That is why the frantic effort to posit dark matter and all kinds of other speculation. The differential expansion is against all physics except for speculative-make something up-physics.

    It’s spelled “isotropy”.

    I flunked spelling. I’m a talker.

    Now that I don’t know. Why the universe had an excess of matter over antimatter is a fascinating mystery.

    It’s the foundational assumption of the theory. If you can’t explain the foundational assumption of the theory, does that not make the theory questionable? Shure it does. It makes your belief that the foundational assumption will one day become explainable an article of faith. I know you have “faith” that it will be explainable. I just want you to admit that your “belief” system is “faith” based. If you don’t do that, then your surname is a pun. I think you misunderstood my prior reference to the pun. I was speaking of the first two sylables of the name: ‘”Lion”.

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      Nick:

      It makes your belief that the foundational assumption will one day become explainable an article of faith. I know you have “faith” that it will be explainable.

      I think we probably will figure out why there is more matter than antimatter. My prediction is based on more than hope; we’re already in the process of solving that mystery. Read the article about kaons I linked to.

      I just want you to admit that your “belief” system is “faith” based.

      As a rule, I don’t take anything on faith.

      If you did show me a belief I hold based on faith alone, I would relinquish that belief on the spot. That’s the kind of rationalist I want to be.

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        T. Nathaniel says:

        Robin:

        I am willing to bet that you take the principle of the uniformity of nature on faith. Hume’s problem of induction is still very much a problem for all scientific inquiry, and an empiricist epistemology cannot ground it. I do not think that you would take the rationalist tack of admitting innate ideas, or the Kantian one of admitting that the world of experience is being built in accordance with the categories of the understanding that we have onboard in our minds. The former solution admits that we have ideas in our minds that were never experienced – which lends itself more readily to a theistic explanation for such minds, while the latter cuts us off from reality and confines us to the world of experience. Kant’s solution forces us to be humble and agnostic about all metaphysical matters, which is not in keeping with the pride, certainty, and sarcasm of your scientistic musings. Perhaps you could claim to be a pragmatist – which is the epistemology that Hume’s theory opens up given its emphasis on habits and the fact that habits cannot be judged to be true or false but rather useful or not – in which case you would think that the truth is simply what is useful. But this theory sacrifices getting at the objective world as well. Thus if you are an empiricist who believes that our senses are thus capable of helping us formulate true theories (in the sense that these theories correspond to reality) then you have to take it on faith that our senses accurately report reality to us, and that nature is uniform (this latter claim being the reason that we can generalize from observed cases to universal judgments). Any of the options available to you here require you to check the superior and somewhat arrogant stance that you have consistantly taken here rhetorically.

        You are not a rationalist epistemologically. You are not a rationalist ethically. I have already disputed with you about your use of these terms. No atheist can put forward an account of reason that guarantees it a privileged place in making true judgments or issuing ethical commands. What is at the base of atheist epistemologies and ethics is our vital impulses and instincts (of which reason, if it is invoked at all, is simply one among others). Our instincts and impulses are not selected for truth or goodness but for survival. In epistemology if reason and our senses are instinctual and habitual then they can only get us to what is useful, not what is true. And in ethics such reason is a slave of the passions (Hume again – a generally honest atheist, please adopt him as your teacher!), it can tell us how to get what we want but not what we should want. Here Hume is very illustrative, he says that it is not irrational to prefer the destruction of the entire world to the irritating itch on his little finger. Granted, the person who did prefer this would be lacking in the feeling of empathy for others and thus unethical. But reason has nothing to do with it. Your consistant use of the words “rational” and “rationalist” are thus nothing but rhetorical attempts to take an intellectual high ground that you have no right to. Please study more philosophy and read fewer contemporary atheist polemics.

        This whole conversation has been going nowhere for some time now and I have been amazed not with the strength of arguments on any side but the stubborness with which many have said the same kinds of things again and again while expecting different results.

        Eliot: The lives of the Saints will never be compelling to Robin.

        Robin: Mocking Christian belief by putting forward the religious hypotheses of many other “religions” (the scare quotes are here simply because you have included the Flying spaghetti monster among the religious “myths” that you have sarcastically adopted) will not further the conversation. All this expresses to me is that you are afraid to simply and plainly ask how one determines which of the religious traditions is true.

        Please consider my own involvement complete. This is just getting ridiculous.

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          Eliot Ryan says:

          T. Nathaniel:

          Eliot: The lives of the Saints will never be compelling to Robin.

          Please forgive me, but I must point out that you’ve missed two important points. Firstly, the discussion here is not intended for Robin alone; maybe some honest seekers, atheists or agnostic, can benefit from it. Secondly, as Elder Paisios said, words are wasted with atheists; it is better to try to touch their hearts not their minds.

          There is not such thing as Orthodoxy without the Saints. Orthodoxy does not relay on the strength of our arguments. Intelligent arguments can indeed be attractive to seekers of truth. Many Christians embraced the devil’s suggestion (or call it self-deluding pride of mind) and became hostile to the veneration of saints while putting themselves and their minds in the center of the world. There is a wealth of knowledge in the lives the saints who bore the cross and followed Jesus. Fancy philosophical arguments are not going to help us resist when (when, not if) persecutions will come. We can get strength from lives of saints and most of all through the grace of God. Pride of the mind is the greatest danger and few are delivered from it. God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.

          On one side of the world, the devil tested many to the limits of their endurance to see if they would deny Jesus Christ. His irrational malice, when finally exposed, caused people to open up their eyes to reality. Monasteries are being more and more populated with people holding university degrees.
          On this part of the world, the devil played his greatest trick convincing many that he doesn’t exist. Spirituality has been replaced by cheap sensual passion, modern consumption and self-indulgence for personal desires. Robin’s motto is “have as much fun as possible before rotting in the ground”. Be aware Robin, your destiny is not compost; you took a path which leads hell.

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            Eliot:

            Robin’s motto is “have as much fun as possible before rotting in the ground”.

            Hedonism’s not my philosophy, but you should gather your rosebuds while ye may.

            Be aware Robin, your destiny is not compost; you took a path which leads hell.

            Be aware Eliot, we both took paths that lead to us broiling in Islamic hell, yet neither of us are troubled by this. Nor do we tremble at the thought of shivering out our eternities in icy Helheim, or squinting in gloomy Hades. Nor do we worry what Osiris’ tribunal shall find, when our hearts are weighed against a feather.

            Todd, one level further back:

            Robin: Mocking Christian belief by putting forward the religious hypotheses of many other “religions” (the scare quotes are here simply because you have included the Flying spaghetti monster among the religious “myths” that you have sarcastically adopted) will not further the conversation. All this expresses to me is that you are afraid to simply and plainly ask how one determines which of the religious traditions is true.

            I did ask plainly.

            Now I respond to Eliot’s Christian copypasta with similar non‐Christian copypasta, and Christian mythology with non‐Christian mythology, which neither of us find persuasive. My point is not subtle. Other religions make similar claims, so why believe yours over theirs?

            You can’t rule out Pastafarianism just because it’s silly. There’s no less chance the Pastafarian hypothesis is true.

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          Todd:

          Thus if you are an empiricist who believes that our senses are thus capable of helping us formulate true theories (in the sense that these theories correspond to reality) then you have to take it on faith that our senses accurately report reality to us, and that nature is uniform (this latter claim being the reason that we can generalize from observed cases to universal judgments).

          No, I need not take either of those on faith.

          One morning after having been up all night, I walked through my unlit living room, and glimpsed my sister’s dog out of the corner of my eye. Wait, that can’t be right, interrupted my brain, you sister’s dog lives with her in Oregon. So I turned, and realized that I had seen a beige footstool of similar height and color. My sleep-deprived brain’s pattern-matching had made a mistake, which my logic processing faculties had caught. So, I definitely do not take it on faith that my senses accurately report reality.

          Gravity follows a uniform mathematical relation everywhere we have measured it. As far as we know, gravity does not just stop working here and there. However, I am willing to entertain the hypothesis that gravity may have operated differently during the Big Bang, when the entire universe was a singularity, because I do not take it on faith that nature is always uniform.

          No atheist can put forward an account of reason that guarantees it a privileged place in making true judgments or issuing ethical commands.

          Reason is our most reliable method for discerning truth from falsehood and for making sound decisions, at this time. I cannot guarantee we shall never find a better one, although to demonstrate another method’s superiority, you’d have to show it gets better results (using reason).

          Here Hume is very illustrative, he says that it is not irrational to prefer the destruction of the entire world to the irritating itch on his little finger. Granted, the person who did prefer this would be lacking in the feeling of empathy for others and thus unethical. But reason has nothing to do with it. Your consistant use of the words “rational” and “rationalist” are thus nothing but rhetorical attempts to take an intellectual high ground that you have no right to.

          Your poor illustration in no way invalidates my use of “rationalist”. Forget empathy: The consequences of not having a world to live in would be far more deleterious than an irritating itch. Reason has everything to do with that.

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        Nick Katich says:

        Robin: To quote from “Big Jake”: “Thought you was dead”.

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    Geo Michalopulos says:

    I hate to bring up old posts, but did Robin respond to my earlier post about E O Wilson repudiating his earlier theory of evolution (#70.1.1.1.2)? Honestly Torquemada wasn’t as dogmatic as these New Atheists.

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      Nick Katich says:

      George: Robin still has not responded. The atheistnet is down so he has to wait until it’s up and running to find the stock answer to cut and paste.

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    Eliot asks me (43.1.2.1.1):

    [W]ould it be too difficult for you to say once in a while “God, if you exist, please reveal yourself to me!”?

    Not at all. Indeed, I fervently requested that when I was losing faith in Christianity.

    Even since relinquishing my religious beliefs, I’ve prayed that God show me convincing evidence he’s there at least a dozen times (often at the behest of visiting Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons, since I like to discuss religion with door-to-door proselytizers, too). None worked.

    But for you, I’ll pray it again, Eliot:

    God, if you truly exist, I sincerely want to believe that you exist. Please give me a convincing reason to believe I’m not just talking to myself. You’d know how to convince me. Amen.

    If anything happens, I’ll reply to this comment to let you know. Won’t surprise me if nothing happens, though, since prayers have no effect.

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      Eliot Ryan says:

      Please, be patient Robin. If you’d get an answer right away that would be amazing indeed. I do not expect this to happen, just keep saying it once a day for a year … or twenty. It can’t do any harm you. People endured threats, beatings, and terrible conditions while wrongly imprisoned for many years and still did not loose their faith in Christ. Why are you so disappointed with God? Is there a great suffering in your life or you are just acting like a spoiled child? What kind of evidence for God’s existence would you like to see?

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        Eliot Ryan:

        If you’d get an answer right away that would be amazing indeed. I do not expect this to happen, just keep saying it once a day for a year … or twenty. It can’t do any harm you.

        Twenty years! Even one year of talking to the ceiling and feeling foolish would tax my patience. Why should I believe your god would be more responsive to 365 prayers than a dozen? If God still hasn’t responded 20 years and 7305 prayers from now, what will you suggest I do then? Tell me a 7306th is necessary to get God’s attention, cautioning me not to do a “vain repetition” of wording I’ve used before?

        The Bottomless Hole of Prayer Requests:

        [T]he biggest problem with requests to try prayer is that they’re a bottomless hole. No matter what you do – say the sinner’s prayer, pray the Rosary a hundred times, go to Mass every week for a year, pray to a particular saint, spend half an hour per day sitting silently in front of a box of wafers, or even perform an exorcism on yourself – if it doesn’t convert you, there will always be theists who’ll tell you, in the most polite way and with the best of intentions, that you’re doing it wrong, and that you should try something else if you really want to experience God.

        When does this stop? When are you entitled to give up and conclude that the reason you didn’t get an answer is because there’s no god to give one? Obviously, if you listen to religious apologists, the answer is “never”. There’ll always be something else to try, some other ceremony to perform, some different wording to choose – and if you truly exhausted every possibility, there would still be the all-purpose excuses, like “hardness of the heart”.

        To all the religious evangelists who urge atheists to pray, I ask in all sincerity – when will we have done enough? If we had limitless patience, free time, and energy to carry out your requests, would there ever come a time when you’d agree that we’d tried everything reasonable to communicate with God and counsel us that it was OK to stop? I very much doubt that any theist would say so, although anyone who disagrees is welcome to prove me wrong.

        You could spend your whole life, and a thousand lifetimes more if you had them, trying every last ritual and every last prayer that every member of every religion claims will open a channel between you and God. You could spend six months in silent contemplation at a Zen monastery, take ritual baths at every sacred well in India, ingest peyote or ayahuasca with Native American shamans, handle poisonous snakes at an Appalachian backwoods church, make a pilgrimage to Mecca and bow before the Ka’aba… the list goes on and on and on, with new items being added all the time, as human beings in the realm of religion exercise their limitless creativity untrammeled by fact. It’s impossible for any one human being to try everything that every theist has ever conceived of.

        With that in mind, I ask this question of every religious evangelist who wants me to try his ritual: Why should I believe that this will work? What evidence can you present to convince me that this particular exercise is more worthwhile than any of the other rituals invented by any of the other thousands of faiths on this planet?

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          Eliot Ryan says:

          Ok, than be grateful to your god called “time” who made possible your evolution, to your god, called “gravity” the one who made possible the formation of planets and stars , and so on. Or if do not want to be grateful to any god, that is fine too. Just enjoy …the present.

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            Eliot:

            Ok, than be grateful to your god called “time” who made possible your evolution, to your god, called “gravity” the one who made possible the formation of planets and stars , and so on.

            Seems like Michael Bauman isn’t the only one who’s confused about what a god is.

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      Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

      The “Bottomless Hole” essay is an apologetic tract, not anything drawn from real experience, especially 20 years of prayer and 7305 prayers. Life just doesn’t work that way. It doesn’t really establish any real facts either, despite the claim that “…human beings in the realm of religion exercise their limitless creativity untrammeled by fact.” It’s just more of the atheist mythology (superstition?) that atheist reasoning is untainted by faith (it’s not), or that Christians divorce themselves from reason (they don’t).

      It’s very simple Robin. If you want to know if God is real or not, ask Him to show Himself to you. This is different that asking Him for a reason to prove to you He is real. That latter doesn’t happen. God is not an errand boy. The former takes some preparation on our part, chiefly the cultivation of humility which is a word that means (among other things) that it is hard to find God when we believe that the gifts and powers we possess are sufficient to answer the deeper questions. Usually this awareness is not reached apart from some crisis that proves to us that are dependencies are indeed insufficient.

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        Fr. Hans Jacobse:

        The “Bottomless Hole” essay is an apologetic tract, not anything drawn from real experience…

        If you had followed the link and read the whole post, you’d’ve found that not only was it drawn from experience, but also it’s a response to Leah recounting trying prayer at her boyfriend’s suggestion on her blog Unequally Yoked, an interesting blog about a Catholic/atheist interfaith relationship, and various commenters telling her, differently, how each thought she should have prayed instead.

        Life just doesn’t work that way.

        In my experience, the way life really works is that no one’s prayers seem to have any effect whatsoever.

        It’s just more of the atheist mythology (superstition?)…

        Atheism has no mythology. 😒

        …that atheist reasoning is untainted by faith (it’s not)…

        While I personally take nothing on faith, not all atheists are like me. Some atheists are very tainted by faith, such as Buddhists or Raelians who practice religions with no deity, and I know at least one atheist who believes in woo-woo like psychics. Being an atheist doesn’t make one rational or skeptical, though being rational and skeptical can make one an atheist.

        If you want to know if God is real or not, ask Him to show Himself to you.

        Hey, God, if you’re out there, please show yourself to me.

        Nada.

        This is different that asking Him for a reason to prove to you He is real. That latter doesn’t happen.

        God showing himself to people doesn’t really happen either, I suspect.

        The former takes some preparation on our part, chiefly the cultivation of humility…

        Seems more like the cultivation of gullibility, to the point where you can believe that when you talk to your invisible friend, someone else is talking back to you.

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    Eliot Ryan says:

    Robin:

    Seems like Michael Bauman isn’t the only one who’s confused about what a god is.

    Huh? Do you know what a god is? I would be honored to be as “confused” as Michael Bauman is.

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      Huh? Do you know what a god is?

      Sure. A god is a deity. A supernatural being which worshippers think controls (ex. Poseidon: god of the sea) or personifies (ex. Chronos: god of time) some aspect of life.

      There are gods of time (Chronos, Nortia, Zurvan, Kan-Leon…), though time is not actually a god. There are gods of love (Kamadeva, Venus, Astarte, Xochiquetzal…), but love is not actually a god. There are moon gods, sun gods, earth gods, sky gods, day gods, night gods, wisdom gods, war gods, fate gods, death gods, you name it. Polytheistic religions have many gods, duotheistic religions have two, and monotheistic religions just one for everything. Some human beings have even convinced others to worship them as gods (ex. Mao Zedong, Jim Jones).

      Contrary to above posts, these things aren’t actually gods: Gravity. Evolution. Progress. Science. Human intelligence. Culture. Self-organizing matter. Actors, musicians, and athletes (though sometimes we metaphorically describe them as such).

      It’s pretty funny to me that you seem to believe all those thousands of gods humanity has come up with are existent supernatural beings, just that most of them are demons in disguise.

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        Eliot Ryan says:

        It’s pretty funny to me that you seem to believe all those thousands of gods humanity has come up with are existent supernatural beings, just that most of them are demons in disguise.

        St. Paul uses the words “demon” and “idol” almost interchangeably in his letter: “The things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God…” An idol is what we are willing to trust in, and give time and attention to, more than to God. The fallen “modern” man preaches the worship and glorification of man in his sin. Actors, singers and sportsmen have become idols. People currently give so much time to the things of the world which they receive through television. Atheists and ‘agnostics’ have grown ‘grace proof’ and they practice self-worship.
        There exist beings who thrive in deadly sins, demons, named after the sin they take on. Various demons inspire various sins: gambling, deceit, lust, revenge, etc. Guess who is the one who inspires mankind to turn away from God!

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          Eliot:

          Atheists and ‘agnostics’ have grown ‘grace proof’ and they practice self-worship.

          Ha, so I’m graceproof! Even your Almighty cannot grace me, no matter how hard he tries!~ Thus answering that aged conundrum, “Can God make a human so graceproof, even he cannot bless it?”

          Never practiced self-worship, how would one’s prayers go? “O me, I am so awesome. Thank me for choosing to be so wonderful. I rock. Amen.”

          There exist beings who thrive in deadly sins, demons, named after the sin they take on. Various demons inspire various sins: gambling, deceit, lust, revenge, etc.

          How many people do you suppose are thinking about sex right this very second? Poor Lust must be constantly on the run.~ Must be exhausting to be a personification.

          Guess who is the one who inspires mankind to turn away from God!

          “Heresy”? Another busy demon, keeping those 4 billion non-Christians occupied.~

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            Eliot Ryan says:

            Poor Lust must be constantly on the run…

            That is not a problem at all: demons travel with the speed of thought. Our thought process is affected by their suggestions and hence we follow/do what comes to our mind. “We can be following tampered thoughts and acting upon them or we can follow the teachings of the Church and obey the commandments. Unrestrained passions (pride, anger, greed, lust, jealousy, egoism, etc.) lead to wars, violence, crimes, addictions, abortion and all the evils that we can abundantly observe in our fallen world.”
            Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you …

            Something is “holding back” the demons and keeping them from doing all of the things that iniquity wants to do. The POWERS are so called because they have power over the devil. The power of God is keeping evil from doing more evil deeds. After the first fratricide war (WWI) much of the grace of God has been lifted. Imagine how demons gloated when God’s Holy Law was broken. They rejoice when they hear people like yourself declaring that there is no God. The day will come when the restraining force of God will be all taken away. That will be a very dark day for mankind. That day is called the Great Tribulation: a time of death and destruction and sorrow such as the world has never seen.

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    Eliot:

    Poor Lust must be constantly on the run…

    That is not a problem at all: demons travel with the speed of thought.

    Only 10 feet per second? That’s only about 7 mph. Lust wouldn’t even be able to catch up to someone driving a car at that rate.

    Let’s give demons superspeed, like The Flash. No, wait, even The Flash still can only be in one place at a time, while people may be thinking about sex in Nashville, Cairo, Hong Kong, Juneau, and Fiji, all in the same microsecond. We need a better superpower.

    I’ve got it! Let’s say demons have the magic power to be in many places at once! Polylocation! That’ll solve it!

    Let’s give it to Santa too, so his reindeer don’t burn up trying to visit every child’s house in the world in a single night.

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      Eliot Ryan says:

      Only 10 feet per second?

      Were did you get this speed from? Thoughts are merely electrical impulses; they are just as fast as the speed of light.
      Obviously you never read the lives of the saints. The saints existed here on earth; they co-existed with other people. Some saints -that is human beings- did posses some miraculous gifts: they could levitate (ex. St Seraphim of Sarov) or bi-locate or read people’s thoughts or miraculously heal people. Don’t be too quick to dismiss all things that you do not understand.
      Anyway, I am glad that you stick around. Did you find some other interesting posts on this site? Or you just stick around to make sure that you’ll have the last word? :)

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    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    Time to call it quits, Robin. Your conversation isn’t rising above what you find on a typical atheist website. Atheism doesn’t really have much to offer besides constant reiterations of the same tired themes. This is a condition of having no real culture from which it can draw. Hearing the continual assertions of the superiority of the atheist position gets tiresome, and the self-congratulatory scorn which typifies so much atheist discourse gets old after hearing for the seventh time.

    So, I am closing this thread. Hope your stay here was worthwhile.

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