Bigger than not speaking – across the divide

Underneath my post “Bigger than being saved – to the end” is a conversation. The following is an extract.  Please feel free to read the whole string.

 Arkenaten has questions.  He has beliefs and he has facts.  I see animosity.  He sees objectivity. Arkanaten says religion poisons everything.  He sees that as fact.  I see that as belief.  And then he made this comment …

“The question was around your sweeping statement that religion poisons everything.

It is a statement of fact and can be supported with evidence.  All religion (as far as I am aware) is built upon an unsubstantiated presuppositional worldview that includes the supernatural.

In the case of Christianity, your religion, this presupposition involves a make-believe, (probably) Canaanite deity called Yahweh.  This deity is nothing but a capricious monster as can be evidenced by the Old Testament. A deity that endorses slavery, misogyny, and genocide to name only three of his rather unsavoury traits.  Out of Yahweism, we got fully-fledged Judaism, and later Christianity and Islam, and a myriad of other pseudo-Christian denominations, cults, and sects, most, if not all of which celebrate (a) human sacrifice, are basically death cults, and are based upon an erroneous text – the bible.

There is absolutely nothing good present in religion that cannot be found in humanism, and religion requires suspension of critical thought and in the case of Christianity, the admission one is a sinner and subservience to a man-made deity; failure to do so will result – depending on the interpretation – (simple) separation from this god (sic) for ever, or banishment to Hell to be tortured for eternity.

Religion divides nations, communities, and families.  It is the breeding ground for some of the most heinous practices.  In almost every case it is tacitly or overtly misogynistic (and for this ALONE it should be resoundingly rejected) and all too often homophobic, where scripture is used to justify such practices.  It was used to justify slavery and also, Apartheid in my country.  It is considered by a great many people to be child abuse, not least where medical intervention is withheld on religious grounds and where children are overtly threatened with eternal damnation for everything from bad thoughts to masturbation, to swearing, to not wanting to go to church and pretty much anything you can think of that might be construed as a ”sin”.

In the case of Creationism it is generally regarded as anti’ science.  Many consider Catholicism and its stance regarding contraception responsible for the deaths of untold numbers because of HIV/AIDS,especially here in Africa.

Okay, this is a good foundation and I think probably covers both questions?  If not let me know.  Although, all we have done is merely scratch the surface.  If you want to consider history in the next thread let me know?  We could look at something like the attempted extermination of the Cathars if you fancy?”

And at this point, I was moved to invite Ark to let me make this a post.  To invite comments whether in support or not.  To initiate a conversation over the divide of differing beliefs believed to be facts.  Ark agreed and suggested something I hadn’t.  That he takes an observer (rather than participant) role with this post.  That is kind.

I insisted that he had a right to respond (to any comments) should he wish.

Because I believe we have kindness in common if we choose.  I believe creating a divide comes all too easy.  I believe that religion, faith, spiritual stuff, all too often invites a divide over which disdain and dismissal are required responses.  I believe that is taught.

I believe kindness is inate and not taught.  I am keen to see what might be achieved with kindness.  I believe we all have kindness in common. I invite your views with open arms (and ears).  And please feel to comment at length (should you so wish).

All I ask is kindness.

Thank you.

112 thoughts on “Bigger than not speaking – across the divide

  1. Pingback: Bigger than tottering – we fall | Just me being curious

  2. And let’s get this important distinction cleared up right away.

    There are two very different definitions for the noun ‘belief’. According to the OED, the first meaning related to this topic is the religious kind, which means:

    1.An acceptance that something exists or is true, especially one without proof.
    1.1 Something one accepts as true or real; a firmly held opinion.
    1.2 A religious conviction.

    This meaning of the term ‘belief’ is a shortened version of ‘faith-based belief’. The belief is based on what is believed without any need or even reference outside of the religion itself for any independent and factual support for it. This kind of belief is based on granting a very high level of confidence and trust by fiat, by assumption, by assertion, by attribution, by demand, by faith as a beginning point, an a priori starting position. The belief is ‘true’ only so far as one believes it to be true BECAUSE it is believed to be true. No evidence for or against matters; it’s a matter of faith. Only in religion is this willingness considered a virtue; in all other human inquiries, such a starting position is a vice.

    The second definition is

    Trust, faith, or confidence in (someone or something)

    This meaning of the term ‘belief’ is a shortened version of ‘evidence-based belief’. The belief is based on a preponderance of adduced evidence for it that relies on independent and factual support outside of the believer. This kind of belief is granted variable confidence and is often expressed as a measure of likelihood or probability. It relies on evidence that supports the case of the belief being accurate but has to take into account evidence that is contrary to it. This kind of belief is a conclusion, a deduction, an end position, a decision to grant a higher level of confidence and trust that the belief is the case. The belief is held conditionally as true only insofar as the evidence supports its likelihood of being the case.


    • tildeb:
      if you know something, and can prove it—you know it.

      If you can’t prove it—you merely believe. (But here’s the joy, if you can get hundreds of others to share your belief, and pay you … you’ve just started another religion. Go get ’em, Tiger~!


  3. The definition above is important to understand the foundation upon which religious belief is built: faith. This is the central element that has not, does not, and probably never will yield knowledge or insight about the real world. But it is a guaranteed method of inquiry that produces at best credulity and at worst gullibility. Faith is the broken epistemology here – the broken method of how one inquires honestly and openly and with integrity – and when faith and not adduced evidence is required to support some belief, then this is the ‘poison’ that is introduced. It is poison because it separates the imposed belief from reality’s arbitration of it, and so we have no means to differentiate fact from fiction, reality from wishful thinking, from delusional thinking, from making stuff up, from accepting any and all superstitious claims. Removing the means to arbitrate belief claims about reality from reality is a move away – a step back – from seeking knowledge, a move away from finding out if the belief is indeed an accurate reflection and/or description of reality; using faith is a means only to protect the belief from any honest inquiry or questioning into it.

    Faith – meaning the reliance of using a set of faith-based beliefs – is the poison and it is toxic to any evidence contrary to, or in conflict or incompatibility with it. Faith used as a shield against any evidence reality can provide means it is a shielding method to protect it from inquiry that is contrary to it and designed to ignore whatever evidence -0 no matter how compelling it may be – stands in its way. That method of using faith-based belief to support an opinion is antithetical to respecting reality (independent of the beliefs we bring to and then impose on it) and allowing it t account for what it reveals is true about it. That’s the poison: faith-based thinking.

    This toxic method is a guaranteed method to fool one’s self. It is a guaranteed method to thwart any kind of honest inquiry, so any kind of faith-based belief claim that advertises itself to be insightful or wise is simply not true. When reality and the evidence it provides no longer matters to an idea or opinion or belief held about it, one has made the intellectual move away from integrity, away from being concerned about what is true, away from being respectful of what is the case, away from being honestly concerned about inquiring itself; faith-based belief starts with the answer and then works backwards trying to make reality comport to it. This is a guaranteed method to be foolish, to be credulous, to be gullible. This method the opposite to critical thinking. So using faith-based beliefs to justify any claim about reality as well as everything reality contains is always poisonous to finding out what is the case.

    Religion is the mother ship of faith-based thinking, but we find it in all kinds of areas – from considering the efficacy of vaccinations to human caused climate change, from dowsing to tarot cards, from the alt Right to the regressive Left. Faith-based belief is toxic to respecting what is true. And that’s how religion poisons everything, which explains why the claim is true..


    • Yes, yes, yes! to all your points Tildeb. I would expand on your thinking to expose the further problem with religious/faithful thinking. It’s not a “solitary practice”. It demands unearned respect, privilege, and compliance from others regardless of their beliefs. It’s precisely this tension and hostility to other ways of thinking outside the religious rubric that “poisons” everything.


      • Just so. This demand from the religious world imported into the public domain for respect and acceptance (and thereby affecting influence) is the very reason for the rise of New Atheism… to publicly criticize and combat the incursion. And the demand for respect for any faith-based position – be it religious or alternative medicine or anti-evolution or anti-fluoridation or whatever the form may be) is then repackaged as if a legitimate evidence-adduced ‘choice’ and/or under the misnomer of teaching the ‘controversy’ where there simply isn’t any… except by the intentional and duplicitous introduction of some faith-based belief!


    • tildeb – big respect. Ark and I have a different style of writing. So absorbing the many words here – might take me longer than seems reasonable (and we have a family long-weekend tomorrow which will distract 🙂 ). My intuition says I will have questions – but I hope others join in (as moine has already) and also add their own comments.

      But more than anything, I want to let you know what a pleasure it is see kindness in your words here. The reason for this post is to attempt conversation rather than the accepted point scoring (I see so often on both sides). Thank you!


      • Paulfg, thanks for the opportunity to explain.

        I know this takes a lot of words and requires effort from readers to follow the reasoning without giving in to the urge to skip them the comment. But wading through it really does get to the heart of the matter. The effort is rewarded by revealing that the motivation for atheists such as Ark – whose tone is so criticized by those he spends the most effort trying to get through to – really is to respect what’s true, what’s knowable, what reality tells us is the probably the case, rather than than politely nod one’s metaphorical head and pretend to go along with ideas that the compilation of evidence tells us causes more harm than good. No one learns anything from an echo chamber.

        Respecting reality is not a worldview, not a secular humanist plot, not a left-wing conspiracy , or motivated by some fictional anger against a despised deity (or indicative of psychological father issues!) but a means to differentiate the quality and truth value of ideas held about it. If we don’t respect reality over and above ideas we try to impose on it, then we create problems that only cause increasing dysfunction and resulting harm when operating in it.

        Real solutions to real world problems must start by recognizing that there is a problem. And this is where so much frustration begins with those of us who recognize religion’s contributions to creating and maintaining real world problems in the name of piety… starting with elevating faith-based belief. This is the poison. It’s not a virtue. It’s a vice. And it poisons everything because it disallows reality to have its say over the quality of ideas held about it. That’s what faith does; it substitutes for reality. This is the very definition in psychiatric medicine used to describe ‘delusion’. So, when it comes to, say, dealing with measles or human caused climate change or evolutionary biology, one can have no impact using evidence from reality on those who have already elevated their own beliefs to dismiss what reality tells us about these ideas. This guarantees resistance to solution-based ideas. And the ensuing problems are real harm caused to real people in real life… in the name of protecting the ‘virtue’ of faith-based beliefs. And that’s a really bad idea.


        • I would totally agree with what you said here. Too often we’re espousing our position instead of actually listening and trying to understand so we can find solutions that benefit everyone.


          • Mel: how much ‘listening’ would you spare to someone almost violently insisting that the moon really is made of green cheese?

            I try to ignore them, but sometimes they become a bit too un-ignorable …

            Liked by 1 person

            • Very hard indeed! I usually try to listen to what they’re really saying (which there’s usually something else going on, fear based, insecurity, etc.) and connect with them where I can, or just nod and move on.


    • Faith, by definition (in the Christian Bible), is based on believing what you don’t see (2 Cor.5:7). Faith always comes before proof or experience. As soon as one sees or proves a thing, or person, faith is no longer needed. So faith and proof are mutually exclusive terms, but they aren’t necessarily against science. Even scientific theory begins with a priori assumptions or ideas, comparisons, and then the scientist (community) seeks to either prove or disprove their theory. So, while faith is central to religious belief, it’s not exclusive to religion. And there’s always a trajectory to this process (Newtonian, Einstein, Quantum…). The same is true with theology; we don’t throw everything away from the previous “truth,” but we keep what’s still valid and expand and improve upon what we thought were the “facts” before.

      Being “certain about everything” is problematic and not helpful. Even for the faithful believer. The best we can be about the cosmos is to be agnostic, because there’s so much we still don’t know about the time-space world we live in, let alone the ten or so dimensions that exist outside of time and space! (Called “non-local” dimensions). So, having faith in an invisible God is not irrational, it’s just a type of faith. There are intangible, even “other-worldly “proofs” that are not “scientific” with belief in God, but they are “real” to the one who believes them. They may never be proven, just like some theories in science.

      And, like with science, our theology should change as we disprove our initial assumptions. The difference being, we’re believing in something “spiritual” (non-local?) so there’s always going to be an element of faith or mystery.


      • Mel, although I appreciate why you might want to present the incompatibility between the methods of science and religion as one of compatible interpretation between faiths (“And I certainly don’t believe that faith is anti-science! Quite the contrary. Both take a certain amount of faith.”), or – in many apologetic attempts to rectify this incompatibility – pretend the two methods of inquiry are different kinds of religions, I also recognize the False Equivalency fallacy when I see it. And here it is hard at work (bolstered you think because you’re neither one of those fundamentalists nor a biblical inerrant-ists). But it’s still a fallacy.

        And this is revealed as soon as we begin to understand what the terms actually mean. That’s why I always use the Oxford English Dictionary… because it’s important to use the same units of comparison just like we were taught to use when solving measurement problems.

        Faith means

        1 Complete trust or confidence in someone or something.
        2 Strong belief in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual conviction rather than proof.

        Now, to be clear, proof is a term that relates to evidence or argument establishing the truth of a conclusion… but true only in the sense that the conclusion correctly follows the premises. So here’s the thing about proofs: it does not indicate the truth value of the premises being used. That’s why proofs are used in areas like philosophy, metaphysics, and mathematics… axiomatic systems one and all. The premises are already established as fundamental tenets to the system. Reality is not an axiomatic system (as your references to quantum mechanics indicates).That’s why we don’t use proofs in science.

        What we use in science is likelihood and probability (and a healthy dose of Bayesian reasoning). We don’t know if a hypothesis is an accurate reflection, or description, of reality. So we create an explanatory model and then test the model against reality. Does adduced evidence from reality support or conflict with the hypothesis? That’s what we want to find out. Well, if reality continues to be tested and in every case shows the explanatory model aligns with the evidence brought forward, then we elevate the hypothesis to become first a working model that if always successful only then advances to become a theory.

        That’s not the way religion works. And you know this. Science works by demonstration, not faith. Religion works by faith, not demonstration. So why pretend the two methods are equivalent?

        Nowhere in this scientific process do we invoke complete trust. We always leave room for doubt, for the chance that something from reality might not yet have been brought forward, might still defeat the model’s explanatory power. The trust in theories, therefore, is earned not just by repeated testing that is successfully modeled but by applications, therapies, and technologies designed and built and based on the explanatory model as if it were the case, as if this is how reality works…. not just for the person who wishes to believe it to be so but – and here’s the kicker – for everyone, everywhere, all the time.

        That demonstration by the method of science independent of thee and me is the basis for the confidence, for the earned trust, in the truth value of model’s explanation. This confidence is on a sliding scale from unlikely to likely. The stronger the preponderance of evidence at one end or the other, the greater the confidence. It is reality demonstrating the usefulness of the model because it really does seem to describe reality’s operation accurately. It is not because of those people who first offer complete trust, which is the definition of faith. It is because reality has been allowed to arbitrate the claims the explanatory model supports. In addition, it demonstrate it’s power of accuracy… every time you use a cell phone or get on an airplane. You trust these applications and technologies because the understanding upon which they operate seems to be of a very high caliber of reliability. That’s why you trust it and not simply as a matter of faith.

        What you’ve done is use a word game to create a false equivalency you incorrectly call ‘faith’… between the confidence granted to a religious precept on the basis of ‘Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen’ (my KJV) and the starkly different kind of confidence granted to an explanatory model demonstrated by reality to be accurate and useful.

        This confidence you say is equivalent is not. What you’ve done is try to present the method of science as compatible with the method of religion and say it is a case of apples and oranges. It’s not at all. it’s a case of apples and bicycles.

        The real test of your claim that the two are equivalent kinds of faith becomes even clearer when religion and science produce contrary results. Whereas science can demonstrate why its claim aligns with evidence adduced from reality independent of those making the claim, religion cannot. It is dependent only on those who believe it and, in fact, often demands its adherent deny reality any role in arbitrating the religious claim and substitute… you guessed it… faith.


        • Nowhere is this incompatibility between science and religion more obvious than when it comes to the theory of evolution and creationism. Nearly 1 in 3 people reject evolution outright in a 2011 Ipsos/Reuters poll of 23 countries. There is robust correlation between religiosity and rejection of the science not just internationally but even in a state by state, county by county in the US. A 2014 Gallup poll in the US showed an outright rejection of science by 42% while 31% were willing to grant evolution some scientific merit as long as it was supernaturally guided or prompted by some god. Fewer than 1 in 5 Americans accepted the science.

          Now, it’s not a lack of evidence responsible for this deplorable incompatibility; the main reasons given in 2007 why they denied the science, Americans – all but 16% who demonstrated a lack of understanding about evolutionary theory and so cvaimed a lack of evidence – cited religiously inspired reasons.

          Clearly, this is a case where faith trumps fact. They may seem compatible at first blush but only if religious and scientific claims do not compete. If they do, then they are not compatible. At all. Are they?


          • For myself—I am an uneducated man. But I have and do read a lot. My worldview is worked out using some very simple tools that have never let me down, the most effective being ‘The Law of Contradiction’.

            Now for all comers: is there any contradiction at all in an ‘Almighty Compassionate Loving God’ and the mess we are in? Given, of course that ‘He’ (She? It?) knew swillions of eternities ago—long before The Creation—exactly what would happen, to anyone and anything anywhere at anytime?

            No. I guess not … for that matter, nobody has ever given me a satisfactory explanation for the apparent contradictions in God’s Omniscience and our very own ‘Free Will’.
            Anybody? Please?


          • I don’t have a problem with people (Christian or otherwise) believing in the theory of evolution. That argument doesn’t really matter to me, Where I would draw the line is saying that this evolutionary trajectory had no initial cause, no beginning, no intelligent design, if you will. And even it is said to be “self-existent,” we are only making evolution our god (creator). But to say that something came from absolutely nothing is irrational to me.


            • Mel, would you have a problem with people if they believed or didn’t in germ theory, in the thery of gravity? We have a far better model than either of these describing reality of how life changes over time in the theory of evolution, yet for some reason (I’ll give you two guesses and first doesn’t count) evolution is held in this special category as if it were a kind of belief similar to belief in a divine creator. Doesn’t that raise any red flags for you? I suspect you’d think someone wasn’t right in the head if they seriously doubted gravity or germs. Yet you make a special exemption for evolution… a theory better informed by compelling evidence than these. In fact, the theory of evolution has produced and continues to advance new fields of knowledge. We are recipients of a vast array of knowledge adduced using the explanatory model called ‘evolution’ to the extent where nothing in biology – including medicine – makes any sense if evolution is not true. Yet without any particular concern you wave this away as if equivalent to a belief in a divine fiddler of genes, an agency somewhere in the netherworld that guides this process, that somehow tweaks which mutations advance fitness, a critter capable of affecting change in our world in mysterious ways by an unknown mechanism…. all to keep the option open of some purposeful designer intervening in life as we know it. To be clear, none of these have any evidence whatsoever to support them, yet you readily dismiss as (I guess) trivial the scientific expertise that has brought the explanatory model of how life changes over time as a ‘belief’.

              Well, that ‘belief’ informs all kinds of applications, therapies, and technologies that work for everyone everywhere all the time. Substitute, say, an intelligent designer capable of affecting life and you open up a vast deficit to explain why these work. You have presumed that some other model can do the job. This is patently untrue and not a single proponent of Intelligent Design has brought forth any other reasonable explanation that is supported by evidence from reality. That’s just the brute fact.

              So, let’s revisit why you think you are in a position to so easily dismiss one of the greatest scientific achievements our species has ever produced, one that seamlessly brings into alignment all kinds of related fields of study, one that regularly produces new insights, new avenues of inquiry, new knowledge that works reliably and consistently for everyone everywhere all the time, one that informs billion dollar industries like forestry and mining and resource extraction, and places this monumentla achievement as a kind of similar belief to an agency of Oogity Boogity exercising POOF!ism for which there is zero evidence and has not, does not., and is highly unlikely to ever produce even one jot or tittle of equivalent knowledge.

              I mean, really…that’s your reasonable comparison? You throw in typical apologetic nonsense about abiogenisis – how life began – and claim that because evolutionary theory doesn’t adequately address this, the whole edifice becomes doubtful because YOU have decided that this gap in our knowledge gives you room to insert a creator god! And you rationalize this insertion as if the theory of evolution demands that we ‘believe’ something comes from nothing!

              You have taken a page out of the very worst kind of apologetic nonsense and enunciated it as if it hadf some scientific merit. It doesn’t. In fact, these ‘criticisms’ have been repeatedly and exhaustively debunked for decades… to no affect when it comes to the religious mindset because you already presume to know that some other magical explanation is somehow equivalent! But you don’t pull this apologetic stunt with doctors, telling them that their ‘belief’ about germs is equivalent to another’s belief about demonic possession causing infection and so we can dismiss all efficacious medicine on this profoundly ignorant false equivalency. You wouldn’t dream of pretending that doing so contains no harm. But you are willing to pull the same stunt when it comes to a scientific explanation that is incompatible with your creator model. And that fact should have you re-examining the quality of the kind of confidence and special privilege you are willing to grant to maintain an incompatible religious tenet.


            • tildeb,
              Not sure who you’re responding to here, or just laying out all your objections on me. I said that I DON’T have a problem with evolution. Where I draw the line is to say that there is no initial cause. Where did the very first microbe, or quark, or whatever, come from? What started the whole thing? And if it had no beginning, doesn’t that fall under the definition of “God?”

              Let me put it this way. If we all decided to take trying to prove there’s no God (creator, initial cause) off the table, you probably would get much less of an argument from people of faith. We could all happily benefit from the advancements you mentioned. Again, I don’t personally see evolution theory as a threat to my faith in God. I hope that makes sense.


            • Mel, you think you’re clarifying your creationist bent by saying “I said that I DON’T have a problem with evolution”… as if I have misunderstood you. I haven’t.

              As soon as you move away from the scientific definition of evolution – an unguided and natural material process of how life changes over time – and slip some creator god into your interpretation of evolution, you DO in fact have a problem with evolution. In fact, you ARE denying the explanatory model. You are importing a belief about evolution and its how it operates that is not scientific but purely religious… and for purely religious reasons.

              As for abiogenesis – which has absolutely nothing to do with the theory of evolution except by your belief it does – why is it o very difficult for theists to honestly say, “I. Don’t. Know.” This leads me to respond to such idle conjecture with a brutally honest and blunt, “I don’t know… and you don’t, either.” That’s a true statement about our shared ignorance.

              Now, feel free to offer idle conjecture about this ignorance, but don’t for one second think your conjecture in any way offers any legitimate criticism of the theory of evolution as either just another faith-based belief of a ‘worldview’ different but compatible with any kind of creationism.


        • Thank you for your response, tildeb. First, let me say that I’m not trying to win a debate here, just trying to understand and be understood. I’m sure some of my reasoning is fallacious. 🙂

          You said: “That’s not the way religion works. And you know this. Science works by demonstration, not faith. Religion works by faith, not demonstration. So why pretend the two methods are equivalent?”

          I don’t think I made myself clear. I didn’t mean to say that science and religion are equivalent kinds of faith, I meant they both use a type of faith, at least at some point in their inquiry.

          I was giving you the Bible’s definition of faith, not the Oxford Dictionary’s. In the Bible, when I can prove something, I no longer need faith. I have proof. But even if we go with OED “complete trust” or “confidence” then our faith (trust) is simply in different things. The Bible says to trust in what you cannot always see; science trusts in what they have empirical evidence for. Both are forms of trust and confidence, although quite different types.

          On compatibility, while the first century church might’ve believed the world is flat (or whatever the current understanding was), no Christian believes that today. We don’t believe in sea monsters or a lot of other things the ancient world believed in either. Having trust in the unseen doesn’t mean that the faithful cannot embrace advancement in provable knowledge. This is what I mean by faith and science don’t have to be combatants.

          You said: “Nowhere in this scientific process do we invoke complete trust. We always leave room for doubt, for the chance that something from reality might not yet have been brought forward, might still defeat the model’s explanatory power.”

          I would say that’s a healthy way to look at reality. I wish more theologians had this same attitude! Too many evil things have taken place in religion over unbending dogma. As I said before, even theology should be on a trajectory. Not that God, reality, or truth changes, but our understanding of those things should change and improve as we have better data.

          Here’s where we might have some agreement. You said religious faith is more philosophical and metaphysical, I totally agree. In that way, it is apples and oranges. But this doesn’t mean they are incompatible. They are just dealing with different things and in a different way.

          For instance, I have high confidence (faith) in the technology I use. And I really appreciate that they have empirical evidence of the principles of jet propulsion and lift before they let me on the plane! I don’t believe the Bible was ever intended to be a science manual that gives us all the answers to the physical world. It’s more relational, helping us to understand human nature in relationship, with each other and in relationship to God. One doesn’t have to be against the other.


  4. Interesting set up here. Paul. It was Christopher Hitchens who said that religion poisons everything. Probably truer than we would like to admit! It certainly has poisoned a lot. But it’s also been beneficial, too. I think it also interesting that Hitchens said he was technically a Presbyterian atheist. I can understand his point.

    I am a follower of Christ but I find myself agreeing with a lot of the accusations atheists make. But I don’t think I’m disagreeing with God by doing so, only the interpretations of men and bad theology that we’ve inherited through history.

    I believe the Bible is inspired but not inerrant. If you’re an (Add to dictionary), you will disagree with what I just said. But there is a vast number of Christians who hold my view and honor the Bible as inspired. But I don’t read the Bible the same way Fundamentalist or Biblicists do, which seems to be atheist’s favorite target. I read it through the interpretative lens of Jesus Christ, who reinterpreted a lot of things His own people believed about God in the Old Testament. I understand that much of the Old Testament narrative is anthropocentric, phenomenological, written for a particular purpose at the time and, therefore, not always describing an accurate depiction of God. And I interject that the writers never meant it to be so, at least, not in the sense we in the West tend to read it. It says more about where they were at than who God actually is. Therefore, some of the narrative is anachronistic looking at it from our perspective.

    And I certainly don’t believe that faith is anti-science! Quite the contrary. Both take a certain amount of faith. Or even that science is necessarily anti-spiritual (just study quantum physic for awhile!) In fact, I think we can explore the mystery of the cosmos together and offer our distinctive perspectives for the betterment of all. I don’t think a dualist food fight is helpful in that regard.


    • Sadly, your position only echoes Tildeb’s comments.
      Without religion there would be em>no bible, the only source we have concerning the character, Jesus of Nazareth; and we absolutely have no way of knowing whether he said anything he is claimed to have spoken.
      In fact, we now know thanks to biblical scholarship that there is a fairly high degree of probability that he may have said very little if anything as stated in the bible.

      I believe the Bible is inspired but not inerrant.

      I believe Liverpool are the greatest football team in the world. Doesn’t make it so. But, then, like you, I am very, very biased in this regard.
      However, five will get you ten I can produce better evidence for my claim than you will ever be able to do for yours.

      And I certainly don’t believe that faith is anti-science!

      Religious compartmentalism allows for faith -up to a point – to co-exist in the mind/brain of the believer, and this is crucial to avoid cognitive dissonance.
      Of course once serious questions are asked more and more frequently, the cognitive dissonance has a habit of winning out and the first step along the path to deconversion has begun.
      Don’t take my word for it …. ask a genuine de-convert. maybe one who was also a professional minister or pastor.

      There are probably an awful lot more professional theologians who are, in fact, non-believers.
      Have you heard of the clergy project?



      • Ark,
        I appreciate where you’re coming from but, unlike the creation myths, we have actual evidence of Jesus’ physical life and a lot of what He said from extra-biblical sources. Not to mention, the profound effect He’s had on the world. If it’s a fable, it’s the most effective fable ever told! 🙂 We must begin to ask then, does it matter if it’s a fable? The effect is the same. This is why I don’t get all caught up in apologetics and trying prove the Bible’s historical veracity.

        Whether the Bible is historically accurate or scientifically authoritative, or not, has absolutely no bearing on my relationship with God. That would be like telling me my wife doesn’t exist because all the stories about her can’t be proven, even though I’ve been married to her for 36 years. Or, that I would leave my wife because I can’t scientifically prove my love for her. Of course, that would be absurd. Relationships and love are not built on science and facts; they ate built on being in the relationship. And when I “know” someone, and I mean in intangible ways that are only discovered in intimate relationship, I can never be talked out of it or “un-know” it.

        But you might say that I can prove that my wife is physically here. Yes, but the “spiritual” reality of a relationship is just as real to me as the physical. I’m just not using my physical senses to confirm it. And things like love, joy, peace, patience, goodness…are not scientific evidence; they are fruits of the relationship. And these “fruits” do affect the physical senses.

        You might say I’m deluded. Fine. The ancient Greeks thought falling in love was a form of insanity. Believe whatever you want. But this ” God delusion” has so transformed my life and so dramatically changed me from the inside-out, I will gladly stay in my delusion! 🙂

        To me, it’s arrogant to say that I should only believe what can be proven by intellectual means. It’s saying if I can’t understand it, it must not be true. THAT is delusional to me. We’ve just put reality in our own little mental box. And you probably agree with that in regard to science. We’re always open to change. I heartily agree with that, too. I’m just saying it about the spiritual world we know almost nothing about. We need to move out of our Enlightenment paradigm that I won’t believe unless I see, because there’s a lot to our world that we’re finding out can’t be seen or measured. And now, we’re finding dimensions of reality that exist outside of our physical ability that we can only deduce that they are there because strange things are happening that we can’t explain by observation(“spooky action at a distance” as Einstein said of quantum mechanics). I actually think this is one place where science and the “spiritual” realm are beginning to converge. The best we can reasonably and honestly be is agnostic about the reality around us. I have a lot respect for thinking agnostics (not the ones who just don’t want to think about it). They probably get it more than I do.

        I feel sad for people who’ve left the “faith.” I’m not sure if they ever got the relationship I’m talking about, or they just got too angry to stay. Maybe it’s the result of the bad theology that has given rise to this pushback from atheists. And I actually agree with a lot of this pushback. But my relationship with God has nothing to do with religion, good or bad. God proves His love to me everyday, only He does so in a more intangible way than I can explain here.


        • Ark,
          I appreciate where you’re coming from but, unlike the creation myths, we have actual evidence of Jesus’ physical life and a lot of what He said from extra-biblical sources.

          No we don’t. There is not a single piece of contemporary evidence for the character, Jesus of Nazareth. Not a thing.

          Not to mention, the profound effect He’s had on the world. If it’s a fable, it’s the most effective fable ever told! 🙂 We must begin to ask then, does it matter if it’s a fable? The effect is the same. This is why I don’t get all caught up in apologetics and trying prove the Bible’s historical veracity.

          There is every chance it is a fable and this seems to be a very risky way to base one’s life, especially as you are obliged to confess to being a sinner and will remain so and even then, there is no guarantee you get to enter Heaven. If I was Christian my money might be on the Catholic interpretation – faith and works.
          And to extrapolate the fable angle a bit – I am sure you give no credence to Shiva do you?

          Whether the Bible is historically accurate or scientifically authoritative, or not, has absolutely no bearing on my relationship with God.

          Without the bible you would have absolutely no basis to cite having a ‘’relationship’’ with Yahweh.

          That would be like telling me my wife doesn’t exist because all the stories about her can’t be proven, even though I’ve been married to her for 36 years. Or, that I would leave my wife because I can’t scientifically prove my love for her. Of course, that would be absurd. …..etc it.

          This I believe is considered a Strawman. I am sure Tildeb will take it to pieces a lot more effectively that I could.

          You might say I’m deluded. Fine. The ancient Greeks thought falling in love was a form of insanity. Believe whatever you want. But this ” God delusion” has so transformed my life and so dramatically changed me from the inside-out🙂

          Yes, I most certainly do consider what you believe is based on a foundation of numerous false claims and false doctrine and that you are, to an extent, deluded because of this.

          I will gladly stay in my delusion!

          That’s fine by me …. (And while I recognise your form of god belief stresses that you must proselytize, as long as you do not attempt to pass on such beleifs to any who are unable to offer any form of critical defence.) Also, it would be nice if you would campaign for all churches and other religious organisations to pay tax and remove any and all religious intrusions into public spaces, buildings etc, and also any other privileges your religion is afforded.
          This applies to every religion of course. I do not single out your form of god belief, only that I am more familiar with it.
          However, on this basis we must, therefore, accept that a Muslim has just as strong a claim to his beliefs. As does the Hindu, the Jainist , Buddhist, Jehovah’s Witness, Catholics, Cathars ( who, sadly are extinct if memory serves; exterminated by the Church) and also the Happy Hamster Cult of East Finchley.
          As you believe a dead man walked on water, cursed a fig tree and was executed for sedition and came back to life (which might suggest he didn’t actually die in any real sense) so Muslims are entitled to believe Mohammed flew to Heaven on a winged horse. And of course formerly dead Hindus are now all reincarnated as everything from woodborer beetles to the love child of Donald Trump and Margaret Thatcher.
          It is unfortunate that, suicide bombing is also an integral and very real part of the beliefs of certain sects of Islam. (as are some of the more unsavoury aspects of many religions, your own included) But it’s all part of the religious experience of course.

          To me, it’s arrogant to say that I should only believe what can be proven by intellectual means.

          I agree entirely. As an adult you should have the freedom to believe whatever you like. And no practical definition of freedom would be complete without the freedom to take the consequences. In fact it is the freedom upon which all others are built.
          If you reread the bit about Islamic suicide bombers etc, I hope you can see the connection?

          I feel sad for people who’ve left the “faith.” I’m not sure if they ever got the relationship I’m talking about, or they just got too angry to stay. Maybe it’s the result of the bad theology that has given rise to this pushback from atheists. And I actually agree with a lot of this pushback

          I strongly urge you to read a few stories from former god believers. Most will tell you that they were as passionate if not more so about their faith/religion as you appear to be, and everyone I have encountered is now relieved beyond measure to be out of it.
          I can offer you several links to former devout Christian bloggers who are much nicer than me. 

          But my relationship with God has nothing to do with religion, good or bad. God proves His love to me everyday, only He does so in a more intangible way than I can explain her(e)

          Again, without the bible (which was put together by the church, largely because Marcion appeared to have gotten the drop on them) or at the very least some form of cultural inculcation you would no knowledge whatsoever of Yahweh . And this is one of the major reasons you are not a Hindu, Muslim, Jainist, Buhddist or even Catholic or devotee of the Happy Hamster cult of East Finchley (current membership 12)


          • I’m running out of time today to respond to all of your points. I will respond to two right now:
            “There is not a single piece of contemporary evidence for the character, Jesus of Nazareth. Not a thing.”

            You see, now you’re giving me the typical atheist propaganda and mythology. First, there very little of ANY historical writing available to us from the first century of ANY kind. Second, we do have the historians Josephus and Tacitus. Both record Jesus’ live and His followers in remarkable detail. Neither were Christians.

            Tacitus, a Roman senator and historian who had no motivation to defend the Christian faith said this, “The founder of this name, Christ [Christus in Latin], had been executed in the reign of Tiberius by the procurator Pontius Pilate … Suppressed for a time, the deadly superstition erupted again not only in Judea, the origin of this evil, but also in the city [Rome], where all things horrible and shameful from everywhere come together and become popular.” (Annals XV.44)

            Both Josephus and Tacitus were first century historians, and both record the existence of Jesus as a well-known fact to the first century Roman world. Nobody disputed it. To say that this is just fiction only reveals an a priori bias to not believe it to be so. Then, we might as well throw up our hands and believe whatever we imagine it to be.

            The bottom line on ancient events in the Old Testament is that no one really knows for an absolute fact what happened,and how accurate the stories are. But that’s not why they were written, any more than a parable has to be factually accurate to teach us something valuable. The reality of God, to me, gets more real everyday. I don’t need history or science to authenticate it for me. And this brings me to my other response to what you said…

            “This I believe is considered a Strawman…”

            Saying my faith in Christ is relationally based, not based on scientific evidence, and comparing that to my marriage to my wife is not a straw man argument. It’s is precisely the point! It’s why faith seems so irrational to you. We’re not going to defend a relationship with the scientific method.

            But, on that, I would counter that to say our perfectly fine-tuned universe, that we’ve barely begun to comprehend, has no initial cause, no intelligent design, if you will, is equally irrational.

            Let me say again. I don’t believe the Bible is meant to be a verbatim history book or science manual. It’s about knowing God in relationship. But I do think that a vibrant relationship with God can make us good historians and scientists.


            • You see, now you’re giving me the typical atheist propaganda and mythology. First, there very little of ANY historical writing available to us from the first century of ANY kind. Second, we do have the historians Josephus and Tacitus. Both record Jesus’ live and His followers in remarkable detail. Neither were Christians.

              I am not saying there was not an itinerant rabbi running around who got himself crucified for sedition. But the biblical character Jesus of Nazareth there is no contemporary evidence whatsoever. I am sure you know what the word contemporary means, Mel?
              I am surprised you would adopt such a condescending tone regarding Tacitus and Josephus, as if I might be some wet behind the ears rookie atheist. I find that insulting.
              The TF in Josephus is nothing but fraud (although some hold to a ‘’core’’ ) and this is acknowledged by all critical scholars.
              There is no ‘’remarkable detail’ in the passage in Annals at all, and it is also likely little more than hearsay as Tacitus certainly does not name any source. If you actually have the book you will know this? Do you have a copy?
              You might also wonder why this passage is not quoted by any historian or biblical scholar until after its discovery?

              “This I believe is considered a Strawman…”
              Saying my faith in Christ is relationally based, not based on scientific evidence, and comparing that to my marriage to my wife is not a straw man argument. It’s is precisely the point! It’s why faith seems so irrational to you. We’re not going to defend a relationship with the scientific method.

              In fact, I think you will find it is. I suggest you ask a neurologists how the brain works regarding ‘’love’’.
              But I am darn sure, Tildeb who is much more adept than I, will explain it better.

              But, on that, I would counter that to say our perfectly fine-tuned universe, that we’ve barely begun to comprehend, has no initial cause, no intelligent design, if you will, is equally irrational.

              Cosmologist Sean Caroll (for one) would demonstrate to you how this is flat out nonsense.
              Why not watch one of his Youtube videos? He is an excellent speaker.


            • Sorry, Arkenaten. I wasn’t trying to be condescending, only stating a couple of sources off the top of my head.

              These disputes of Josephus and Tacitus aren’t any more accurate than the text. I guess, in the end we will go to any length to believe whatever we want to believe, whether believer or an atheist. That’s why I don’t put a lot of stock in apologetics. For me personally, it’s a waste of time.

              Again, I don’t have time right now to properly answer everything here. I’m sure there are atheists who have dreamed up all kinds of ways something comes from nothing, so we can conclude that we have absolutely no purpose for being here. There’s nothing bigger than us or outside of our minds. I don’t find a lot of benefit from going down that rabbit trail.

              Again, I’m sure you have greatly researched what you believe. I do respect that. I think we would end up agreeing on a lot of these if we sat down for coffee. These are just not arguments that have any bearing on my relationship with God.


            • I’m sure there are atheists who have dreamed up all kinds of ways something comes from nothing, so we can conclude that we have absolutely no purpose for being here.

              Amazing! You apologize for being condescending and two paragraphs later you write this …
              I have learned it is somewhat to be expected
              However, I am sure an atheist Cosmologist like Sean Carroll just sits at home and wonders how he can piss off people like you all the time?
              Maybe a cosmologist such as Australian, Luke Barnes would be more up your street?
              He does believe in fine tuning and he is also a Christian.
              Whether or not he believes that the biblical character, Jesus of Nazareth is the creator of the universe I have yet to discover. Certainly, he has never revealed his true beliefs on this particular matter to me.
              Maybe if you visit his website/blog and ask him he may be more forthcoming?


            • Okay, let me rephrase. I’m not trying to be any more condescending than atheists usually are to people of faith. 🙂

              I don’t doubt that Sean Carroll is sincere in his findings and theories. I’m also sure he’s a lot smarter than me and I could learn something from him. I guess my point is that there is no such thing as an unbiased, disinterested method of looking at data. Like with Quantum mechanics, the observer affects the behavior of the data.

              Speaking of looking at the past, I think you would like astrophysicists like Dr. Hugh Ross. If I have the time I will look at Sean Carroll. I have a lot of respect for cosmologists, even if they don’t believe in intelligent design.


            • I flatly disagree.

              As Tildeb has outlined in detail ”faith”, as you and I understand it in this context, has no place in science. None.
              And whereas I have no problems with saying ”I don’t know”, which is perfectly legit and honest, you will insert ”God”, which is the height of arrogance.
              And not just any old god either, but the make-beleive Canaanite ( likely) deity Yahweh, who by all accounts is nothing but an egotistical, megalomaniacal, genocidal monster.
              And you actively worship this god and are on its earthly payroll!

              Hugh Ross? You cannot be serious? Are you suggesting I would like this bloke?
              Do you really think I don’t know who or what he is?
              Good grief!

              What is this? The Soft Sell. Tsk tsk Mel. I have already told you I am not some wet begin the ears atheist.
              Neither have I tuened my back on ”God”(sic) nor am I someone who was ‘done wrong’ by the church. …Smile
              If you wish to assume anything about me at all in this regard then please assume I am aware of all that you think you know and probably a little more …


            • Thanks for your un-condescending reply. I’m sorry this former CalTech research fellow is so beneath you. I’m totally okay with you rejecting everything I might say. And that’s about the size of it. We’ll see who’s right in the end, won’t we. I’m totally fine with whatever the outcome. And I most gladly and profoundly believe in Jesus Christ and worship this God you call a monster. I know Him quite differently.


            • Intelligent design is nothing but Creationism in a big woolly coat, as well you know. If you are being scrupulously honest, that is.
              And Hugh Ross… well….
              He still believes in a make-beleive deity and, like you, has no answer as to how a 1st century itinerant rabbi found within the covers of what is largely erroneous text is also the creator of the universe.
              However, if you have anything besides blind faith, please feel free to share to with us all.
              Yahweh is most definitely a monster.
              Anyone who liquidates almost the entirety of life on the planet besides one soon to be incestuous family makes every other (real) mass murderer look like Mary Poppins.
              But then you probably subscribe to Divine Command Theory, yes?


            • “Intelligent design is nothing but Creationism in a big woolly coat, as well you know.”

              Intelligent Design is simply a way people/scientists who aren’t necessarily religious might define the initial cause.

              I can certainly agree that if we take those texts literally God is a monster. But, again, that would be an anachronistic take on what was believed about these things several thousand years ago.
              But none of this changes anything about the irrationality of believing something coming from nothing (which would be self-existent, or “god.”).

              Even if I was totally wrong, I still wouldn’t subscribe to a worldview that has no meaning and purpose beyond sucking air for 70-80 year and then being dust. Pretty hopeless if you ask me. I’m sure you disagree.


            • Intelligent Design is simply a way people/scientists who aren’t necessarily religious might define the initial cause.

              I would venture that is getting precariously close to willful obfuscation if not tacitly lying as ID most certainly is Creationism, and recognized as such as it stipulates a creator/intelligence.
              And Ross and his fellow believers at RTB are fully behind the bible in this respect and fully behind the character Jesus of Nazareth, whom I note, you steadfastly avoid offering any sort of explanation as to how he is this creator.
              I suspect you really have no answer do you, Mel?
              But in case I have erred in this respect I shall ask once again for you to please explain how we get from a 1st century itinerant Rabbi to the creator of the universe.

              I can certainly agree that if we take those texts literally God is a monster. But, again, that would be an anachronistic take on what was believed about these things several thousand years ago.

              And if we do not take these texts literally then this suggests the character, Jesus of Nazareth was ignorant or maybe also not being quite as truthful as he might have been.Or he simply said nothing and the words recorded were inserted by the writer of the gospels … whoever they were.
              After all…. when it came to the Law not one jot or one. tittle etc … right?

              But none of this changes anything about the irrationality of believing something coming from nothing (which would be self-existent, or “god.”).

              For some reason you seem to be struggling with the concept of ”I don’t know”.
              Purpose? I have loads of purpose.

              Please tell me what, as a believer in Yahweh, your purpose actually is and why you seem so utterly convinced it is so much more purposeful than mine?


            • And right on schedule here’s Mel’s version of the ‘worldview’ false equivalency, as if non belief is just another kind of belief… but one bereft of the wonderful meaning and purpose theistic thinking tries to ascribe to a realty that contains a god vs a hopeless and barren reality that doesn’t. One chooses meaning and purpose with a theistic ‘worldview’, you see, whereas one rejects meaning and purpose with an atheistic and hopeless ‘worldview’.

              Just how surprised am I that Mel imports yet again another false equivalency? Not at all. In fact, it’s to be expected.

              Intelligent Design is truly equivalent in all ways to the creationist model. It possesses no means to differentiate imaginary causal agents for ones that might be real. It simply assigns to all systems that possess some level of complexity and interaction a guiding intelligence and then claims that intelligence must come from some unknown agency.

              This is indisputably wrong.

              And guess which science demonstrates this unequivocally? Yup… evolution.

              That’s why it’s targeted and vilified by creationists and their co-religious brethren: Intelligent Design cdesignproponentists.

              It a religious argument and not scientific because the science reveal that reality does not comport to it. Therefore, the science must wrong… right?

              What evolution has the temerity to do is demonstrate beyond any reasonable doubt that mindless and unguided physical and chemical interactions really do produce what appears to be design in complex biological systems without any evidence for any kind of overseeing intelligence or agency. That’s just what molecules supplied with energy do. They create..They alter systems. They introduce new information. They combine is ways that are often discarded and sometime in ways that improve reproductive fitness for the active genes. And we can’t have that unguided and mindless mechanism busy in the world interfering with a good creationist story, now can we?

              Yup, the science must be wrong. But why? Well, this is where the ‘worldview’ difference comes into play: to provide a fictitious motivation for tens of thousand of working biologists so that creationists can ignore what their work reveals! Why, it’s a conspiracy!

              So, according to the theistic mind that refuses to subject their creationist beliefs to reality’s arbitration of it, let’s all pretend that scientists import to reality their faith-based assumptions about an unguided meaningless and purposeless world and this is why their work continues to produce very compelling contrary evidence to the creationist explanatory model. And then let’s get nice people like Mel to help us spread this manure for reasons that are purely pious, which we will repackage to appear to be of a higher moral character (based as it is on elevating human existence to be special and worthy on this basis alone of dignity and respect) than those other negative believers in a godless universe called ‘atheists’ who have gone forth and killed millions in totalitarian states that disallow religious company at state tables.

              Yup, it’s just a different worldview these atheistic scientists have imposed on reality, you see… and has nothing to do with rejecting by fiat what reality arbitrates is likely the case.

              Good grief, Mel… is there any discredited apologetic religious trope you won’t endorse?


            • Since I’m the only one responding from those of “faith” and I’m very busy today, I will just cut to the chase.

              Please tell us poor, uneducated, superstitious country bumpkins where did the very first particle (microbe, quark, etc.) come from? If you say, “I don’ know,” fair enough. Maybe none of us really know. But then why do you so easily dismiss the possibility of there being a creator (designer)? Is the mechanics of the cosmos that chaotic and incoherent? To me, this is irrational logic.


            • Mel, you keep mentioning quantum mechanics as if it supports the god hypothesis, as if because it is notoriously difficult to understand the evidence we collect about how reality operates at the quantum level – meaning in either very large or very small quantities measured by probability – you have created wiggle room for a divine creative agency.

              A general rule of thumb is that when someone introduces the apparent weirdness of quantum mechanics to support an idea that is contrary to the general laws of physics we encounter all the time, we’ve left the playing field of rational discussion because it is highly doubtful the person actually understands quantum mechanics. To whit, the physicist Sean Carroll Ark keeps mentioning is an expert in quantum mechanics and teaches it at Cal Tech. I sincerely doubt that your understanding that you think supports your view is equivalent in knowledge value to the understanding he has to support his.

              So, here’s the thing: these false equivalencies you keep introducing and that others keep pointing out seems to be a regular means by which you support your theistic views. This should raise a red flag high enough now that the tactic you use has been called to your attention to compel you – if you respect reality’s arbitration of your views about it – to radically reduce your confidence in your theistic ideas.

              But I suspect it won’t. And I suspect it won’t because you have already committed yourself to empower your faith-based beliefs to be not just equivalent to anything reality has to say in the matter about them but in fact impervious to its arbitration.

              And this demonstrates the accuracy of my original criticism about using a failed methodology… a failed methodology called ‘faith-based belief’ that fails because it offers you no means to test your theistic ideas for truth value. It seems to me that preesent a <i.willingness to adjust your confidence level but, when push comes to shove, you will not budge. You believe your theistic ideas for reasons other than their truth value. You believe them because you believe them. You do not believe them because reality supports them with compelling evidence. Reality doesn’t comport to your theistic ideas but in fact is incompatible with them.

              This creates a dilemma for you.

              Pretending your theistic views have any other knowledge-based evidence-adduced merit requires you to start relying on misrepresentations, misunderstandings, fallacies, and even fairly gross distortions (and even ignorance) to support them. Your attempt to make the incompatibility of your theistic beliefs ina creator agency comport with our scientific understanding when the claims are in direct conflict demonstrates beyond doubt that they are not compatible methods of inquiry, that they do not produce different but compatible answers to important questions. To use the old computer programming analogy describing this very problem: garbage in, garbage out. No one should be surprised.


    • Hi Mel,
      I see that both you and Paul [bloghost] spend a certain amount of energy directing the conversation toward everything being a “belief” and little to no time discussing justified true belief. If we’re to maintain philosophical integrity we need to not ignore that aspect. I’ll concede for the sake of discussion that knowledge is a subset of belief if you’ll acknowledge that a justified true belief has been demonstrated to comport with reality.
      In that spirit, I’d like to believe as many true things as possible, and be willing to change my views when presented with justification [evidence, testing]. Faith/belief in the context of religion never seems to elevate to that level.
      For what it’s worth, if religion were simply valued as personal inspiration and comfort rather than a source of authority that must be followed upon pain of eternal torture, then I’d be happy to not be an activist for atheism. You’d not ever hear from me on the topic. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks for your thoughts, moine. As I said to tildeb, I’m not trying to prove anything here, only to be understood and to understand. I think that religion and science have unnecessarily been at odds with one another. I won’t expound on that here because I’ve already done so in my comments to tildeb.

        You said: “For what it’s worth, if religion were simply valued as personal inspiration and comfort rather than a source of authority that must be followed upon pain of eternal torture,,,”

        Haha! We’re probably not far apart on that one! Unfortunately, religion has a LOT of baggage and bad theology, historically speaking. For that, I profusely apologize! 🙂 But let me say, the Eastern Orthodox church (I am not Eastern Orthodox, btw) never embraced this Dante-Medieval infernalist view. Neither did much of the Ante-Nicene church. I admit the biblical language is problematic, taken on a surface level, and I wouldn’t even try to unravel that here.

        Here’s my (Christian) take in a nutshell. Axiomatically, the New Testament revelation is that God is love (Greek word ἀγάπη (agape), meaning benevolent, other-centered, self-emptying. We believe that God revealed Himself as Father and Son, and Spirit (trinity, perichoresis) which means He’s relational (btw, “He” doesn’t mean God is a male, other than the human Jesus; He’s neither. It’s a relational term, not gender). The whole intent of Scripture can be summed up in this: love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love others as ourselves. And we can love this way because He loved us this way first (1 John 4:19). So, whatever is not of this unconditional. other-centered, self-giving love, is not like God (even if religious people claim it is). Furthermore, Jesus Christ is perfect theology. Whatever is not like Jesus is not like God, even if it seems like God is expressed another way in the Old Testament and other places. Much of this language is anthropocentric, which again, is hard to expound on in a comment section.

        So, I don’t think the Bible is trying to be the final authority on science nor does it intend to give us the final understanding of our physical world. I know many Christians think it does, but that’s naïve and misguided. God, in His inclusive, participatory love for humankind, leaves that adventure for us to figure out! But while we do, we can trust Him and learn how to be loved by Him and grow in relationship with Him and others. So, if we love like God does, we can embrace people of all walks of life in a more understanding way and not condemn them to perdition. 🙂 Jesus didn’t come to judge the world, but to save it so that we could participate in His relationship with the Father. I know that may sound ethereal and strange, but it’s works out very practically. It’s just that I can only make brief summary statements here.


        • So, if we love like God does, we can embrace people of all walks of life in a more understanding way and not condemn them to perdition.

          As he ”loved” (sic) all those people he slaughtered or ordered to be slaughtered in the Old Testament?

          Jesus didn’t come to judge the world, but to save it …

          Save it from what, exactly /em> and how did he do this? Please can you be specific.


          • “As he ”loved” (sic) all those people he slaughtered or ordered to be slaughtered in the Old Testament?”

            I don’t believe God actually slaughtered people in the Old Testament. These were stories told for various reasons in a very primitive world, perceiving God from Israel’s point of view. Scripture gives us the narrative, as it, warts and all. It honestly shows how THEY saw God in the ancient world. This view of God would be totally anachronistic today (although Fundamentalists and Biblicists take a different view than mine). But Israel wasn’t in our world. They weren’t omniscient and God met them where they were at. And I take this position from the internal argumentation. But you also see this view of God change as they progress through history until Jesus, then He comes and declares that no one knows the Father (God) except the Son, and vise versa (Matt.11:27; John 1:18). Then He proceeds to contradict a lot of their views about God in the Sermon on the Mount and other places.

            “Save it from what, exactly…”

            My answer would be to “save” us from the faulty construct created from being alienated from God’s love (think “Matrix”). It’s the mindset that makes us not love like God loves. One based on fear and separation, adversarial, rather than being in mutual relationship and intimacy. It’s a dualistic construct that produced scapegoating (Rene Girard) and the myth of redemptive violence (Walter Wink)…the construct that makes murderers, vengeful, unforgiving, retributive, hateful, judgmental, prejudicial people. A system that dominates others (slavery, abuse, war), and gives us every other form of evil known to mankind. The Bible calls all of this “this world.” It’s the reason why we don’t love our neighbor as ourselves. But God doesn’t hate the world; He want to redeem it and restore it to its original intent.


            • Mel, thank you for your time here. I am about to add my own thoughts – but for jumping in first (and “alone”) – thank you. I had hoped for a respectful and kind two-way conversation. Thus far those who “believe in God” and spend a chunk of their lives reaching out to others … seem to prefer to steer clear of this reaching out.

              And I find the very sad.

              I might even speculate that is “evidence” (to use the language being used here) of being fearful, or maybe disinterested, or possibly some other reason – that means sharing and learning together here is not worth the time.


              Liked by 1 person

            • I will reply when I can. I don’t have a lot of time, but I do enjoy a good conversation about things that should be important to us. 🙂


            • Hi Mel, tildeb has taught me a new word: “downthread” – love that term! I have added a comment “downthread” – March 17: 06.47am 🙂


            • That’s not an easy question to answer in a comment section! Yes and no. Yes, they probably happened, no, maybe not exactly as they were written. There are whole libraries of scholarly books written on this subject. And they are written by faithful believers, not just the skeptics and “liberals.” We know that the writers probably borrowed some of the stories from the creation myths in their world in order to have their own story, although the Bible narrative gives some unique twists to the stories. As you may know, “myth” doesn’t necessarily mean it has no basis in reality, it’s simply a story that tries to explain our origin.

              So, was there a flood? Most likely, yes since so many different cultures speak of it in their own way. Was it exactly as described in the Bible? Maybe, but not necessarily if it contradicts the nature of God explained to us by Jesus..

              A lot of what was written was not intended for historical accuracy or verbatim recollection. Its purpose was to give Israel a unique identity in the midst of the stronger nations around them.

              But that’s not to say these stories are pure fiction, it’s just not why they wrote them. The big story, throughout, is that God meets humankind where we are at. In this case, taking a people and progressively deconstructing their view of God in the midst of an ancient, deeply-entrenched polytheistic culture around them, learning how to trust the one true God, until Jesus would come and “explain Him” to us. (John 1:18). All the stories, whether historically accurate or not, have this motivation behind them. I hope that makes sense.

              So, I have no reason not to believe them, but even if they’re not historically accurate, they still serve their purpose.


            • I believe I can address the bulk of your response based on this ….

              A lot of what was written was not intended for historical accuracy or verbatim recollection. (Its purpose was to give Israel a unique identity in the midst of the stronger nations around them. )

              If we are going to apply hermeneutics and exegesis for the Global Flood (which scientific evidence flatly refutes by the way) is there any reason we cannot apply similar criteria to the resurrection of the characters Lazarus and Jesus of Nazareth? After all, there are many such characters in ancient history that rose from the dead, are there not?


            • Hermeneutics, again, is a scientific method. It’s used to dissect the meaning of language. But it’s not always the best way to arrive at the truth, especially, in this regard, because we’re not dissecting a science manual here.

              It’s interesting that the New Testament writers rarely, if ever, employed proper hermeneutics. They would apply texts, seemingly out of context, to prove that Jesus was the Christ.

              I fully understand that this is troubling to our Western rational mind, but again, this is not a Western book. And they weren’t writing the way we write text books.


            • So what gives the stories of the resurrection of the biblical characters, Lazarus and Jesus of Nazareth any greater degree of veracity than the Exodus and the Noah’s flood?


            • Myth, according to Jung, is the public dream and, yes, a terrific teaching tool. I am a huge fan of myths and their value to offer each us the personal experience of the meaning being transmitted.. almost always about what it means to be human.

              The Genesis myths are no different. They are very valuable teaching tools. As myths they stand on their own merit.

              That’s why they were co-opted by religion as ‘creation’ stories and then perverted to serve a different master. Of course they are not literal any more than Shiva is the destroyer of real worlds. No, there never was a global flood. The study of geology demonstrates this complete absence of evidence where there should be plenty if true for the real world claim. No, there never was an original couple., The study of population genetics demonstrates the complete absence of evidence where there should be plenty if true for this real world claim. No, there never was a Garden of Eden. The study of geography demonstrates the complete absence of evidence where one might presume there should be some indication if true for this real world claim. There never was a talking snake – no cheeks to form articulated vowel sounds – or a tree of knowledge whose fruit when consumed delivered understanding of good and evil. That’s not what trees and their fruit do. These are elements of the myth into which we as readers are supposed to supply meaning. The supernatural aspect is a clear signpost of symbolic language at work, symbols into which we provide the meaning in order to have the story make sense on the psychological level so that we can experience the message first hand. That’s why myths last for millennia – the stories contain wisdom about what it means to be human and struggle with common foes all of us face every day.

              So, imagine how disappointing it is to have generation after generation of credulous people illiterate in mythology teaching the next generation that this myth is historical for religious reasons, that it is the words of some god being passed on in these stories for religious reasons. The scope of the error is large, which is disappointing enough. But add to the fact that the myth is then perverted from containing its own teaching to one that serves as an interpretation for a later historical event… and that disappointment becomes profound.

              The theft here of Genesis is twofold and its religious interpretation so obviously incorrect that it boggles the mind that people would pass the story on for thousands of years doing what myths do and then – POOF! – suddenly becomes a divine explanation for a supposedly divine historical event.

              I mean seriously… come on.

              Here’s a challenge for theists who use the creation story as if science about the real world: drop everything you think you know about Genesis and re-read it with a pure heart innocent of any and all baggage. Supply your own meaning to the supernatural elements so the story makes sense and see what you come up with. I can guarantee that Jesus and the Christian/Jewish god
              play no important part in the message it contains about what it means to be human and everything to do with learning how to grow up and become responsible adults in the real world.


        • Thanks Mel for taking the time to reach out. I truly appreciate it. Dealing with us atheists is sometimes analogous to the Pharisees of old. So good on ya.
          I get that your answer to me is what you believe. It’s more positive than many I’ve heard. What I missed, and maybe you can explain it to me, was how you know what you believe is true. [justified true belief] Or are you saying that’s what you believe and you don’t require any justification. Don’t you ever wonder what is true?


  5. All very interesting but allow me to be short:
    1) Religion is just a successful myth. (I’ve written that somewhere already but can’t remember where) just as a language is no more than a successful dialect.
    2) More people have been killed (and continue to be) in the name of God than for any other reason.
    3) The above make me very wary of religion.
    Y’all be good naw.


  6. Sorry for the length. This a response to Mel’s comment of 8:14 upthread that religion isn’t really poisonous, that it is an important way to think about the world. It takes some words to explain why event his suggestion is poisonous. Sorry if that sounds harsh, but follow along…

    You’ll notice, Mel, that I use the phrase, ‘method of science’ rather than product and then compare this with the ‘method of religion’ rather than specific beliefs. I do this to show that the incompatibility is real and has real effects because of the differences of method. I do this to demonstrate why religion really does poison everything: we can see this plainly when we talk about the epistemology being used – how we come to know – for causal claims about the real world. Not about some god and the attributes and nature of such a critter, but about causal claims made on behalf of this supposed active and intervening agency.

    Now, if religious beliefs kept to its proper domain waxing about supernatural agencies in a plane of existence that was transcendental to our own and which played no part in it, then all would be fine and dandy. But, as I pointed out, very often religious and scientific claims about the real world are in conflict. And this is where the incompatibility of methods matters.

    It matters a very great deal because conflicting explanations both can’t be true. When religious belief based on faith teaches the next generation of vulnerable and dependent children that there really is an agency I like to call with tongue planted firmly in cheek Oogity Boogity! (no one can offer compelling evidence from reality to counter my unflattering but accurate term) that causes real world effects, I call foul. And I call foul because the religious method of inquiry has no means to self correct. It is empty of knowledge value and full to the brim of suppositions, assumptions, assertions, and attributions that the believer brings to the table.,

    That’s why science can inform religion about claims regarding the real world. But the flip side to that is that religion has demonstrated no ability to reciprocate. Ever. About anything… including “relational” advice or “helping us to understand human nature in relationship with each other.” In fact, there is much in all kinds of scripture that is opposite to this sentiment you offer in its defense that by today’s focus on shared rights and freedoms and respect for personhood is antithetical to these principles.

    Now, I agree that religion really can and does – and in conflicting ways to other equally earnest and well meaning religious beliefs – teach about our “relationship to God” and this is a never ending source of conflict and violence and human degradation when the conflict becomes overt.

    Want examples of misogyny and patriarchy taught (and even human bondage and slavery and pedophilia) under the auspice of being in the right relationship with God? Choose your religion!

    The point here is to notice the one way direction of obtaining knowledge about the real world; it is always from science to religion and never the other way around. This is a clue about the truth value religion offers when making specific claims about reality, claims like how it operates, what causes what, what it contains, how things become what they are, how change occurs,and so on. You want to suggest that the religious method is relatively innocuous and almost harmless when used responsibly while also providing some kind of relational insight that is supposedly beneficial. I propose that anything beneficial you can name has been co-opted by religion (like, say, the Golden Rule) and can be duplicated by better reasons based on evidence adduced from reality that do not come with the same superstitious baggage and broken methodology that is divorced from reality.

    Again, let us revisit creationism and evolution to demonstrate just how malignant religious belief is in the pursuit of understanding how reality operates regarding changes to life over time. Reality is rejected as is our best method for investigating it because it is in direct conflict with an incompatible causal claim proffered by religion. When the claims are in conflict like this, the incompatibility becomes plain: my point is that the methodology used by each is very different and produces very different results… which is not so innocent, so innocuous. Just the opposite, in fact: teaching religion as if it should offers us insight really teaches the next generation something equivalent to Stork Theory of where babies come from. It teaches kids to withhold critical thinking if it competes with religious beliefs. This privileging is also pernicious.

    So, although you would like to see faith-based belief mitigated by reality’s arbitration of it, the method used by religion – a reliance on faith-based and not evidence adduced belief – has already dismissed this approach as irrelevant. Even blasphemous. This competition is not compatible to the results produced no matter how earnestly you wish it were.

    And as long as people are willing to grant to the religious method this typical empowerment of false equivalency to the scientific method, (“They are just dealing with different things and in a different way”) then we shall continue to respect this poison as offering real insight into reality where is has absolutely none that can be equivalently demonstrated… and people shall continue to pay the price in suffering for this foolishness of believing – of importing confidence and trust – in the false equivalency.

    The attainment of knowledge is impeded by respecting religious claims about reality as if equivalent even if somewhat different. Because of this willingness we imperil our decisions we make today based as many are on a preference for the alternative, based on a faith position – a hope, a wish, – rather than reality. Climate change is a fine example where the contrary belief empowered by faith to deny the overwhelming evidence for it with a wave of the hand imperils the future of our species and brings us closer to an extinction event. That’s not something trivial or innocuous or in some magical way a compatible belief but a very real threat to your children’s children’s very existence. Flippantly waving away reality’s arbitration of this grossly misguided alternative because so many people would prefer not to believe that the science is unequivocal is not just silly or even a little bit benign It’s a doomsday scenario. Sure, we might prefer a more Kumba Ya kind of world as if magically protected from the knowable consequences of our very real actions by supernatural agencies that love us… but that’s not rational. It’s magical thinking with real world poisonous consequences for everyone.

    We should know better. We do know better. But we keep hearing from too many people that such faith-based thinking really is a legitimate contender, a respectable alternative, for gaining insight into reality and how it operates. It’s quaint. It’s cute. It might be a little silly but think of the little old church ladies who need such reassurances. And that’s the poison at work… delivered in kind words and caring attitudes under the guise of tolerance and respect for everything… everything, that is, but knowledge about reality and what we think through the preponderance of evidence what is true about it. And if that knowledge is incompatible with contrary faith-based claims, then we know which loses out… to our mutual peril.

    That’s why talking about this stuff – how we can come to know about anything – really does matter and why when it comes to knowledge and insight into reality we must remember that this remains a one way street. Faith-based belief cannot offer us knowledge-based guidance; all it can do is dress up ignorance and wishful thinking and try to sell us the Emperor’s clothing as if it were the proper attire for gaining deep insight and wisdom.


    • tildeb,
      Sorry I don’t have the time to respond to all your points right now. I will only clarify one point. I DO think religion is poisonous. I totally agree with atheists on that one! I believe that Christ came to end “religion” (in that regard). He came to expose our religious imaginations and offer His genuine relationship with God instead. In this sense, true Christianity is not a religion.

      According to the Bible, the first murder was religiously motivated (Cain and Abel). I would go further and say that more violence and murder and human atrocities have been done in the name of religion than any other in history (of course, historically, most all people were religious in the world).

      Unfortunately, especially since Constantine high-jacked Christianity, people have turned it back into a religion. We have too many examples in Church history of quite the opposite of Christ’s teachings and example. I am abhorred by these things as you probably are. If we actually followed Christ, there would be no wars, murders, violence, revenge, hate, misogyny, racism, or slavery. These things have been wrongly defended by people who’ve created God in their own image. They have anachronistically taken things that were true in ancient culture that are now rightly exposed as evil. I do apologize on behalf of Christianity for this evil representation of a God is called love.


  7. “religion poisons everything” … without wishing to start an unresolvable war here, that’s my observation too.

    I think it might, however, be resolved—if all the religions (there’s hundreds/thousands of them)(all true, and the sole unique ‘path to God’) could have a homeland of their very own, each; and go there to be religious in their own way and poison nobody else.

    (While I’m dreaming, please may I win Lotto?)


  8. Oops … no-one seems to mention that ‘religion’ is simply Big Business. (All the many ‘jarring sects’ are mere franchises.)

    Wealth, power, and control are what it’s all about. So long as the hand of the priest is in your pocket, so long as he is in control … the name of the franchise doesn’t matter a damn.


  9. tildeb, mel, argus, moines, equinox21, mel, tiribulus, ark, – I hope you don’t mind me extending a great big squishy ((hug)) to each one of you. You comment with respect. You give loads of time to explain and question. The “method” of connection (even in disagreement) is kindness itself. What I see here I wish I could see everywhere.

    Nothing I have read here causes me anything but a nodding of the head. For me that is important, because (for me) it is not your position/viewpoint/belief/evidence (or whatever the correct term) that is being questioned – it was and is mine.

    I spend hours writing about a relationship that, to me, is real and evidenced every day. All the definitions and methodology written of here are not dissimilar to those I employ in checking the validity of my relationship with an imaginary being. That probably makes me factually “something” when discussing my sanity.

    Except that medical/scientific terms of mental “normality/abnormality” I find interesting. They seem to label something not fully understood, and are dependent upon a consensus of what is “normal”. A consensus that changes – and perhaps changes with changes in culture as much as scientific evidence.

    So for the purposes of this conversation, I happily accept any label of normality (or otherwise).

    The term Ark used of “poison” I now understand far better. Thank you all for that. If I am reading these words correctly, the terms of “poison” and “toxic” are not used emotively (as I had taken from Ark’s vent – complete with the language of abuse and std’s). And that makes a massive difference. Because whilst Ark may try and reach those “most in need”, I do experience an outburst of exactly what he is criticising – “faith based belief” dressed up as fact. And then I see the “shorthand” comments of support and congratulation on his own blog. It is a mirror image of the comments and “shorthand” I have seen on “Christian blogs” when discussing you “atheists”(sic) 🙂

    I would like to summarise my understanding of the initial phrase: “religion poisons everything”.

    I am reading here that the phrase is not emotive nor a belief. It is merely an observation of how religion has infiltrated “reality” (and “everyday cultural life”). And how it is now “used” as a factual reason (and therefore justification) to make changes to cultural and societal everyday-living and decision-making. You find that reprehensible because there is no evidence to explain this “level of authority”. That there is no acceptable reason to accept “religion” as a factor in that (legally binding and culturally defining) decision-making and subsequent required/obligatory cultural and societal change. And that insistence that “there is – we say so” has resulted in much damage to society and individuals that make up “society”.

    I know those are very few words summarising many extended explanations. So I will stop and invite feedback as to whether that understanding is close or far from where you hope it should be


    NB: we leave for a long-weekend in the next couple of hours. This conversation is important to me, but this family weekend much more so. I will try and release new comments as they happen (first-time commenters – of all persuasions – are moderated).


    • Thanks for being an open host to a long overdue discussion. Take what time you need, family is important. 🙂
      Tildeb is doing yeoman’s work here, a gold standard of breaking it down. I’ll only comment further if addressed specifically. This is an interesting post and thread.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Paulfg, you write about ‘religion poisons everything’,

      I am reading here that the phrase is not emotive nor a belief. It is merely an observation of how religion has infiltrated “reality” (and “everyday cultural life”). And how it is now “used” as a factual reason (and therefore justification) to make changes to cultural and societal everyday-living and decision-making. You find that reprehensible because there is no evidence to explain this “level of authority”. That there is no acceptable reason to accept “religion” as a factor in that (legally binding and culturally defining) decision-making and subsequent required/obligatory cultural and societal change. And that insistence that “there is – we say so” has resulted in much damage to society and individuals that make up “society”

      You’re getting there. The ‘religion poisons everything’ criticism is not emotive but evidence-adduced. And I think the most pernicious aspect of elevating faith-based belief to be a virtue needs to be expressed here: it is the sublimation of real world issues, problems, and solutions seen or understood by the religious to become moral issues first in order for religious input to be seen as valuable.

      This sublimation is pernicious (and ‘poisons’ addressing these issues and concerns with real world solutions) because the moral aspect is imported and then elevated. It’s an addition to the problem… an unnecessary complication that possesses religious sensibilities as if equivalent to being moral and assumes a primary importance for that! And, of course, the flip side is for many people to then assume (without evidence) that criticism of this importation and the altering of problems into moral concerns first is that doing so is Immoral or, at the very least amoral… and so those criticisms become a reason to doubt the person’s sincerity and concern who raises them.

      Welcome to the world lived in by non believers.

      By religious fiat and widespread assumption, distrust on moral grounds suddenly is laid on the shoulders of those who are not religious believers. Non believers all of a sudden have to fight this battle about being moral people over and over and over not because their character is morally questionable by deed or action but by religious pronouncement that criticizing religious ownership of issues on moral grounds is itself immoral! Rock, meet Hard Place,

      So… the effect this sublimation has on every single issue that is of public concern and need of public redress for compelling reasons adduced from reality is now secondary to the imported religious concern about the morality of both the issues and solutions! This importation ends up killing people and causes unbelievable suffering… in the name of morality!

      Take just about any public issue and you will quickly see the religious influence hard at work trying by hook and by crook to make it into a moral issue first. And this ‘poison’ inevitably divides people and creates conflict and pushes away real world solutions… until the moral aspect is magically solved (which it never is, surprising no one ever). Just look at politics, at the Us vs Them partisan framing that creates a fictitious moral divide. Look at women’s reproductive healthcare framed as a moral concern for everyone rather than medical issue for individuals. Look at parenting, education, criminal justice, environment, law… all are brimming with this imported moral concern that sublimates the real issues of children’s welfare, what we teach them, how we punish, how we live and consume, what rules we operate under. The moral shift elevates everyone to think themselves morally equivalent to have some say in areas that then reduces public respect for actual and demonstrated real world expertise and best practices.

      Since when did religious belief and not philosophy inform morality?

      Well, religions simply co-opt the moral aspect no matter what the issue is and claim it for its own. And people go along with this charade! They stop listening to expertise and do not respect it. This creates and supports the rush to the lowest possible denominator. And we see this in every aspect of our society involving the public domain. Religious belief in this framing of its trust in faith-based beliefs regarding its moral positioning is really just another disguise as a Merchant of Doubt about the Other.

      The poison doesn’t stop here. It has seeped into every nook and cranny of every person’s life… without permission or merit to do so, yet it is granted ubiquitous power to influence and affect our daily lives… and to the detriment of all… simply on the basis of faith-based belief that it has the right and moralexpertise in ALL areas to do so. Why… there’s no topic or issue that religious spokespeople will not make their moral pronouncements and expect to have a seat at every table in order to do so.

      So you cannot help but evoke an emotional response by those of us who see this unwarranted religious incursion (and are often made aware of it only when we are personally and negatively affected by it) and have our characters vilified for criticizing its pernicious influence throughout the public domain. We are all being poisoned by faith-based belief and we all have to stop abdicating our personal responsibility for its spread and toxic effects on the lives of real people in real life.


      • I hope you have taken note, Tildeb that Mel has been touting Hugh Ross …
        (among other things)
        Maybe you might wish to address this and other issues he has raised?
        I don’t think he likes me much.


        • What immediately stands out to me is that someone like Mel – a friendly, well meaning, good hearted person I think he is – who says he doesn’t think scripture is a ‘science book’ then turns to the scientific expertise of a fellow believer like a Hugh Ross who does exactly that. This demonstrates the disconnect between those who exercise religious apologetics – saying what sounds good – and the complete absence of intellectual integrity of holding to the underlying principle for what is being said. There is a significant disconnect.

          What Mel is doing – and this is so typical of religious believers pretending to occupy a reasonable (but purely imaginary) middle ground they’ve created (first in their minds and then imposed on reality as if true but presented as if deduced from reality to inform their belief about it!) between religious fundamentalism (that accepts claims about reality incompatible with how we know reality operates) and non belief (that is fully compatible with how reality regularly and reliably operates) – is also quite typical: he uses a person with scientific expertise and who also believes in an interactive, intervening, causal agency of Oogity Boogity like Mel does to imply the two are connected, that the claims of religious belief are NOT incompatible with the claims of science because here’s a science guy who also believes.

          This is what I call the Catholic priest fallacy: some scientists are religious believers so science must be compatible with religious belief; some Catholic priests are pedophiles and so Catholicism must be compatible with pedophilia! This is quality of the apologetic reasoning being used.

          Ross makes standard apologetic assumptions and then misrepresents them to be in some way compatible with science. This is a bald-faced lie. For example, he tells us that unlike every other religious scripture he ‘studied’ as teenager interested as he was in the Big Bang that he thought (erroneously) comported with a magical creator (it doesn’t) only the Bible contained no contradictions and so, based on this assertion, he then claims this is incontrovertible evidence it must be of divine origin! That’s not a scientific claim but purely a religious one… based as it is on faith that dismisses by fiat all evidence to the contrary. And there is plenty of evidence to the contrary. as any biblical scholar will readily admit.

          So we already know that this scientific expert will lie (or speak untruths with unshakable confidence of their truth value) to make his incompatible religious beliefs about reality seem compatible to his scientific expertise. That is what he has spent a majority of his life doing: trying to make the incompatible faith-based claims he believes are true compatible with evidence reality provides. And he does this using typical wide variety of religious apologetics: distorting, misrepresenting, lying, asserting the conclusion as if a neutral premise, attributing the conclusion to reality rather than his faith, and dismissing all contrary data by fiat. Playing word games to warp meanings to suit the message. Relying on metaphysical reasoning in order to present the conclusion as a premise in order to supposedly ‘reach’ the conclusion one wants.

          None of this is scientific. None of this comports to reality without the insertion of the faith claims made that it must be so because it is believed to be so. Using someone like Ross as if a source to demonstrate compatibility between religious claims and scientific ones is really an example of just how easily we fool ourselves if we have motive for doing so.

          Liked by 1 person

          • ”Yeah, BooYa!! … wot he said!”

            Actually you have more patience to respond in this manner than I ever could, and this is why is is important that someone who is able, and has the patience than Job (sorry … couldn’t resist) to set the record straight and not allow people like Mel to get all bumptious when it comes to attempting to stake a claim for religion in the scientific field.

            I am quite disgusted at the fact Ross’s site is still making ridiculous claims alluding to a biblical Adam and Eve, especially after all the work done on the HGP, Collins’ flimflamming not withstanding.
            It is disingenuous in the extreme.


    • For myself I try to keep things seemly—I only go for the jugular when all hope is lost (of getting through the defences of a priest-infected mind) (franchise immaterial).

      I find the biggest hurdle to be simply the acceptance of an iron-clad basic law of reason: The Law of Contradiction. Which states—

      Contradictions do not—cannot—exist. If you find an apparent contradiction, look at the premises because one at least is wrong.

      A merciful all-powerful all-compassionate loving God, and napalm? The holy stake? The holy strappado? The mercies and kindnesses of Islam?

      An omniscient God asking questions?

      An omnipresent God in Auschwitz, Buchenwald, Dachau?

      The list is endless.
      Entirely endless … but still no-one, ever, anywhere, can tell me who created God. I’m not allowed to accept the universe itself as eternal but I must accept the God (insert name of choice here) as eternal.

      If I had to believe I’d justify with the very same logic, that a ‘Godier’ God created God.
      And of course, a more Godier God created that one; and so on in an infinite regression …


  10. Pingback: Religion poisons everything. – A Tale Unfolds

  11. The conversation seems to have stalled. The host should get Mel a T-shirt that says “I survived the atheist onslaught of 2017” or something equally as pithy. Lol!
    While you’re all in your corners resting or thinking here’s the perfect illustration of religion and it’s deleterious effects. Have a wee thinky, [believers!] while you use the “not my religion/belief” defense to faith poisoning everything. I’d encourage you to read the entire articles in the links below. There are handy graphic representations to demonstrate my point.
    One further note: Although “Joseph Burstyn, Inc. v. Wilson” Supreme Court decision struck down blasphemy penalties at the govt level, there are still at least 5 States that refuse to remove old laws from their books.


    • While not reading the detail of each comment, I have been aware of the slowing conversation – and that Mel remains the only alternative view here, Moine your comment (and t-shirt) are much appreciated.

      But what did cross my mind was the “persecution” angle often claimed by those of faith. Yet against the comments here – I hear and see the “obligatory” God Bless America, the God Save Our Glorious Queen (UK). The “we are a Christian country” (or a Muslim, or other faith). The “swearing on a bible”. The “everywhere” of faith in everything.

      And – finally – begin to understand better the comments here.

      That societal acceptance without awareness does not come close to my distinction between “religion and relationship” – or that keeping the conversation with religion (rather than relationship) is unfair on those of faith. God bless America, th UK national anthem, and institutional example after example is not relationship with a supreme being – it is simply “religion”.

      And I begin to see a thoughtless and widespread “persecution” of those who simply ask “why?” I wonder if it is similar to a “Christian” living in an ISIS held territory. Not literally – but intellectually and emotionally. And how easily the “not being heard” prompts the same emotive commentary (as seen so often between those of faith).

      What this conversation is giving me is an appreciation of the effect of “faith based belief”. That if “sacred” means “sacred” in a religious sense – those of faith are not applying that equally to those not of faith.

      Thank you again to each of you. You have not shaken my faith, but you are making me question some basics. I have had a growing unease with the saved and “our” sincerity. That unease is being given logic in this conversation. It is giving “love is the answer” pause for thought. And that is a gift greater than I have any right to expect.

      The pondering continues.


      • Thank you Paul. I can only speak for myself addressing “you have not shaken my faith” I didn’t come here to do that. I don’t care what you believe as long as the results of it don’t abridge my freedoms and rights. I would be the first to defend your freedom to worship the way you wanted without fear of hostility from others. I would suggest atheists would like that same consideration.
        And if we’ve given you something to consider then we’ve made some progress. Perhaps you could open a separate thread for your regular readers free from our input to discuss what we talked about here. That might prove to be instructive. 🙂
        You know where to find the others should you have any questions. If you want to visit me, I’d suggest my “Ask an Atheist Post” @ MyDoorIsAjar
        Have a good weekend.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. It is unfortunate that more of the fundamentally religious that often hang out at my spot were not inclined to come across, and they were noticeable by their absence on the mirror post I opened up for comments.
    Trust me on this … you can take Tiribulus’s ”Oh boy” throwaway line as being as dismissive, sarcastic, and condescending as they come. In someone else’s mouth it might well have required more editing.

    It generally tends to happen this way – the more commonsense and more direct the questions the more the believer, and especially the more fundamental believer, tends to withdraw/retreat to the safety of the ”non-answer” until eventually it becomes a tacit unspoken case of ”Well, if it was good enough for Jesus then it’s good enough for me, so I don’t really care what the Old Testament says as my faith rests on Jesus… end of story.”

    Ho hum…

    And this is why religion poisons everything ….

    It has been interesting though.


    • Good morning Ark, back from our short break – and a lot of reading to go through here. You have given me something I did not expect to get – and probably would not have happened had I been “here” and trying to respond to each comment as they happened.

      One “part edit” in the thread(s) here. But – as you say and I noted – a distinct lack of “community” from all those usually commenting. That – for me – is as noteworthy as the comments.

      As the weekend went on, I sensed a foundational shift in my own faith. A strengthening rather than doubting. But a shift that will be unpalatable to many of religion (and maybe even of anti-religion). The conversation here – with hindsight – has been brewing between me and my God for some time.

      The reasons for that are headlined in my reply to moine. For co-hosting this – your mirror post – (and your restraint) – thank you!

      The journey continues.


      • A strengthening?
        How does one have more belief in a make believe god? Fascinating!
        You really should engage Victoria (Neuronotes) over at my spot and ask her how the brain works when ”hooked” on religion/god-belief.
        You might find that you develop a sudden ”strengthening of faith” in science and reality – she is an extremely well read and intelligent woman whose personal story/involvement with god belief Christianity will knock your socks off. And might make you toes curl as well.


        There’s another post up at my spot that Mel is involved in ….
        I have a suspicion you may enjoy it.
        Come read even if you don’t fancy playing?

        Still fairly restrained, too. You seem to be a ”bad” influence on me.


        Liked by 1 person

        • “How does one have more belief in a make believe god? Fascinating!” I would agree – for me it is fascinating. And up front I will tell you I don’t know why!
          (just reading the pieces between you and Mel and the “I don’t know” issue)

          “Victoria (Neuronotes)” – more reading! “Come read even if you don’t fancy playing?” Yes please – which post is it please (I am out of touch and overwhelmed by the volume of posts in my reader right now)?

          And a bad influence? WAHOO!! 🙂


            • If I may …I am curious about something, Paul.

              I have reached what I consider a sticking point in discussion with Mel over at my spot and I feel he is trying desperately to use Apologetics on me. Understandable of course, it is how he has been schooled to handle Skeptics. However, the point being this:
              Why do you think that Jesus/Yahweh not only sanctioned slavery in the Old Testament but also laid out rules for it?
              And if it was so heinous to him in the Old, and any supposed words of sanction were put in his mouth by scribes, why was an injunction not included in the Ten Commandments?
              ( or was this removed by Moses also?)

              Furthermore, why then was he not explicit with his condemnation when he metamorphosed as the character Jesus of Nazareth?
              Or , to give the character the benefit of the doubt for the moment, why did he not utter any words of condemnation about slavery when he appeared to Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus?

              Liked by 1 person

            • Sorry Ark – thought I had a bit more time, then the grandchildren landed. They are hard to resist! Will be back later –


            • I am not sure how “troubled teens” achieve such adherence without a lot of control being used. How does this educational facility achieve the silence, the working alone, the three sided-work stations … when the youngsters are all “troubled”?

              Despite having great hope in the resilience of “not the norm” young people, troubled also means damaged. Whatever the cause of “troubled” this article makes me both sad and angry. Another example of how “society” believes it can “fix things” instead of supporting the parents who cannot, and looks for those who promise with great skill. Not just religious skill.

              But as an example of “religion” and this fix of a “problem”? My f-b-belief and common-sense combined can only say this is a really damaging example. And I have far less hope that adults who are “untroubled” will agree because I perceive a need to convince “ourselves” that we care enough to fix” troubled teens” (so long as someone else can). And, as you and tildeb have pointed out, 2000 years of being told religion is right has an impact.


          • Ark, I have nothing that is proof. Nothing that is evidence. So I don’t know. And everything beyond that is speculation and personal faith-based-belief.

            What I have for Mel is great respect and affection. Not because he is “right” – but because he is wandering closer to the accepted boundaries of the Christian faith than many I have met. What I have for you is a growing affection as well. Not because you are right either, but because you are asking the right questions (so have no need for unkindness).

            What do I think … ? What I am about to write is even further beyond Mel’s wandering – and still remains f-b-belief.

            I think there was no reference to slavery because the Ten Commandments are imposing social order on a “rowdy people” using God-fear as the reason for behaving. As a shortcut to social order, it is quite a neat tactic and employed by many “peoples” – not just of that time. As slavery was not a threat to order, why would it be relevant to any commandments?

            So why add the specifics of “doing slavery”? An attempt (my f-b-belief again) to add some ethics (kindness) to ownership of another human being without challenging the right to ownership (and upsetting social order).

            So why Jesus and no retraction of slavery in the New Testament? For me, the same reasons.

            The New Testament moved the Old Testament forwards (as the Old moved the Old forwards). And as slavery was still so embedded (and still not a threat to society behaving), why add that to a document of “faith based beliefs” on a people already following faith based beliefs? Saul, according to the bible, was doing a great job of “imposing order” on that element (of the people) preaching a “new covenant” (and upsetting the status quo). His transformation into a rebel, for me, is the only reason for recording that “road incident”. And as slavery was not questioned by either the “status-quo” or “rebels” alike – what reason would it have to be included?

            The mind-set of the bible and bible writers that Mel has referred to (in all of his answers) was something Mel (through another) introduced me to. The sequence of posts “Am I Untouchable” is my logical extension of that, the conversation over the weekend, and this small aside.

            So why are you at a sticking point with Mel? I don’t know. As the conversation here made clear, “I don’t know” should be used far more frequently than it is.


            • And as slavery was not questioned by either the “status-quo” or “rebels” alike – what reason would it have to be included?

              I am tempted to write WTF!!! and fill in the missing letters.
              Er … because it was inhuman, immoral, unethical and violated practically every
              human right one can think of?

              If Yahweh-Jesus had the savvy to include thous shall not steal, how difficult would it have been to have included Thou shall not practice slavery?

              Just don’t let Tildeb see your post … he will go spare,

              If you follow Mel’s comments he has slowly but surely revealed his True Colours and unfortunately …. but not unexpectedly his veneer of liberalism is simply that, a veneer.


          • “If Yahweh-Jesus had the savvy to include thous shall not steal, how difficult would it have been to have included Thou shall not practice slavery?”

            Not difficult at all. If … the words in the bible were NOT of their time and their place and their reason. Except they are and were. So today it is what we seem to expect of them – what we have have made of them (seemingly on all “sides”) that concerns me.


  13. Pingback: Am I the untouchable? (Introduction) | Just me being curious

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