June 21, 2007

Friendly Debate With Theists Is Possible, But Is It Futile?

Whenever I comment on a theist's blog, I know I will get reaction. I've been banned, I've been ganged up on by reader's who attack me as if they were bees defending their queen from wasp (I'm hardly a wasp:)). Many times things start out calm but the ongoing conversations tend to turn ugly. I know many times it is my fault that things turn ugly as I may have gotten unnecessarily insulting in the past. It is hard, because sometimes ridiculing seems so natural, but I am trying to mend my ways.

I was watching The View a couple of weeks ago (yes, sometimes I watch The View because it keeps me in touch with my femine side....no, actually I don't mind watching the Hot Topics part of the show). They were discussing the Presidential race and religious beliefs. The guest host was Sherri Shepherd . Barbara Walters, who was raised by an atheist father, was doing a fantastic job debating mostly Shepherd and Elisabeth Hasselbeck about the whether a President believed in God was relevant or not. Ms. Walters even said it was scary to think that a President may make decisions based on faith. They went on to discuss that Americans would not vote for an atheist, and somehow the topic of evolution came up. Walters asked Shepherd if she believed in evolution, to which she replied, "No." And Walters actually drilled her about it, she said something to the affect, "have you ever read Darwin's book or looked at the evidence for evolution"...the answer was "no, I believe the Bible." And she didn't stop, Walters then said that she should read it since she now has a child.
That was great TV.

I looked for a clip of the show all over the internet and I still can't find one. I did a blog search for reaction to the segment and I could only find one. In a theist's blog. A very nice theist, I might add. Singing In The Rain wrote a reaction to the confrontation in a post called "A Missed Opportunity." Here is what Rick Cavin (actually it is his wife Laurie) wrote:

"I was so disappointed. Here was an opportunity on national TV for someone to point out the dearth of evidence for evolution. The fact that hardcore evolutionists like Stephen Jay Gould even admit they have no answers for major issues such as as how life began. The fact that there are very few supposed transitional forms.The fact that all of the present day phyla appear fully formed during the Cambrian explosion. But because Shepherd had not engaged the material and was not ready with an answer, Barbara Walters was able to attempt to portray her as uneducated - although maybe in a politically correct way."

Of course, the content of this disappointment was extremely typical of a creationists total misunderstanding of what evolution is as I pointed out in the comment section of that blog. No matter how well I explained the misconceptions and falsities in the post, the author wound up refusing to understand what I was clearly stating. Futility.

I mentioned my "belief" that the Exodus never happened an my "theory" that Jesus never existed. This actually caused another post to be written directed at me:
Historical Jesus. Again, if you read my comments, I was extremely friendly and cordial.

Now, I will be first to admit, that my mind is pretty set now. I'm an atheist because I've concluded that science has answered almost every important question out there regarding life on earth and the history of the universe, and that I'm positive that eventually, science will answer everything in an almost certain manner. I'm also set in my conviction that Jesus was an invention of Paul at best, and perhaps a later in time invention. I'm also convinced the Exodus didn't happen. Maybe 40 slaves escaped Egypt, but that was about it. I doubt Moses existence as well. And of course the story of Adam and Eve as well as Noah's Ark are too farcical to consider.

That being said, I'm open to new evidence, but it has to be pretty hard evidence to get me to sway on any of the above myths. I know, through my readings, research and conversations with theists, that no such evidence exists to date, and I find it highly unlikely that anything will be found to change my mind. But again, I'm a realist, and I'm admitting I'm willing to change my viewpoint based on facts, reality, and evidence. Becoming an atheist is all about changing ones mind because of evidence or lack of evidence.

I also had a nice conversation with Nick Brennan, of Christianity, Religion, Atheism and so on and so forth. I actually think Nick is open to new facts, more than most theists I have run across. I had a short reasonable conversation with him in the comment section of his post "Atheists Suffer From A Lack Of Intelligence," where Nick was actually defending atheists up to a point. I pointed out that he was wrong about morality, and he seemed to take it well.

In another post, "Fidelity and Morality Linked?," I again gave him some good some facts and logic to ponder, and he seemed fine with it.

I guess this is one reason why I debate. The odd theist is open to real facts and evidence. But the main reason I leave my mark on these types of blogs is because of the lurkers. I've said this before, it is unlikely to get someone who doesn't believe in evolution or an ancient earth, or who thinks that gays are an abomination in God's eyes, to change their mind. However many people haven't really formed their opinions or are on the fence when it comes to such issues. It is those people who I hope I'm influencing.

I am having a bit of a problem with a commenter in the Fidelity post named Livingsword. Is that Livings Word, or Living Sword? Doesn't matter. Anyway, he is stating he was an ex-atheist. I know that is bull. At best he was a secular agnostic, or someone who didn't ponder the existence of God much, but he was not an atheist. Atheism doesn't come overnight. We are born agnostic, not atheist.

Here is some of the junk he stated (get ready to grit your teeth my atheist friends):

"When I was an atheist (I didn’t become a follower of Jesus till my late 20’s) anything went, all (as in every one of) my atheist friends slept around, today I know a few atheists who don’t but they are still the minority. The vast majority of Jesus followers I know are totally devoted."

"With all due respect I am very aware of my own personal previous beliefs. I recognize that there are atheists that do not go around destroying the world in a systematic manner, and that the world may categorize as “good”. Please do not think that perhaps since I am now a follower of Jesus I have given up reason and logic and have no education or that I am a fool. I became a follower of Jesus because I was compelled to by the evidence, logic and reason. It has proven to be just that in the life I have experienced, living a life built upon the teaching of Scripture is breathtaking!

One of the other logical conclusions of atheism is that if there is no “higher power” or “authority” than myself (who is everybody else to tell me what to do they are just some biological fluke as I am, even if they outnumber me they cannot tell me what to do) then I can decide on “morals”. In other words “no God then all bets are off” and it is truly “survival of the fittest”.

When I speak of the contrast between my previous atheistic life and my present Jesus following life it is simply as an example off how those around me were so profoundly touched by the genuine amazing change (by God changing me not me making the changes) that they were “blown away”.

In my life surrounded by many unbelievers, quite a few of whom are atheists I see a drastic difference in the way they choose to lead their lives. My atheist male friends generally think it is no problem to cheat on their “partners”. Whereas when I am hanging out with the Jesus following men there is a profound sense of respect for their wives and for women in general. We never (and I mean never) say anything degrading about women.

I will throw out another matter. When I am hanging out with my atheist friends and our gay friends are not around the atheist friends often mock our gay friends, I have never (and I mean never) seen my Jesus following male friends do that when our gay friends are not around. The interesting thing is that the straight atheist guy’s act like being gay is very ok when the gay friends are around them but then say terrible things about the lifestyle when the gay friends are not around."


  1. Hello, my name is Deacon and would like to engage in a discussion with you. I am a youth pastor at my church and enjoy hearing from another side of things. I do believe that there are some things that people do overlook (Christians included). People in general have a tendency to have one dichotomy for what they believe in and then another for something they choose not to believe in. My example is the believe in love and gravity. Both are theories and are not tangible yet many people claim they exist. We cannot scientifically measure them and therefore they are both considered theories. We can only see their effects. A majority of the population believes in the existence of either one or both of these things (love and gravity). Yet, we will classify a belief in a divine entity as foolishness yet if you surplant one term for another you would have the same outcome. Gravity cannot be measured but merely observed by its effects, likewise God cannot be measured but merely observed by His effects. Same goes for love.

    I would prefer that all comments be in a respectful manner. Sometimes we have to agree to disagree and that's okay. I like to be sharpened though :-).


  2. Hi Deacon, thanks for popping by. I will check your blog later today.
    In the meantime, gravity can be measured, it just can't be seen.
    Love is a subjective term, however most people know what is generally meant by the term. Recent research shows that love is linked to certain brain activities. Understanding the brain is a fairly new science when it comes to imaging the brain. I think love will be able to be measured in the near future.

    When it comes to God there are no effects that I'm aware of that can't be substituted with science.

    I just got finished reading the God Part of the Brain. I'll be reviewing it here soon. The premise of the book is that man evolved a susceptibility in the brain that makes one believe in the supernatural as a defense mechanism against the reality of mortality.

  3. As regards Livingsword, he must have a pretty selective circle of friends; there is no overall evidence that theism or atheism influences fidelity positively or negatively. Both theists and atheists stray when the mood takes them.

    As regards theistic attitude toward women, the Churches broadly reflect larger society and mores of the times: it's largely the secular movements that have pushed for female emancipation. But in many religions, the role of women is hypocritical; they are revered and despised at the same time. A consequential atheist considers women to be what they are foremost: people. Centuries of conditioning stand in the way of men and women considering themselves as people first, defined only by their sex as a secondary trait. Evolutionary speaking, it seems logical that "femaleness" actually came before "maleness"...

    On homosexuality: it is expressly forbidden by all three monotheisms, whose attitudes to gay people have been forced to change considerably under pressure from secular governments.


    I can see that having a respectful discussion might prove to be difficult. Gravity can of course be measured, even explained. You claim Gravity (with a capital G) is a theory. You are right; all scientific theories are just that: theories that cannot be proven with infinite certainty.

    Of course theism is really also a theory but one that has no empirical, verifiable evidence to build towards proof. All scientific theories however are built on verifiable empirical evidence.

    Theists seem to struggle much with that concept, in particular when it comes to Evolutionary Biology (they aren't, for obvious reasons, so bothered by Quantum Physics or Relativity). It's always claimed that EB isn't completely proven and that the theory "has holes in it". My poor dears, all theories are works in progress; they approach the truth in an asymptotic manner. We may or may never know all 100% of the mystery of billions of years of evolution but that doesn't mean the theory isn't correct in any way, shape or form.

    The alternative theory, that G-d poofed everything in existence in six days, some 6,000 years or so ago, has of course been disproved so many times and in so many ways that it's hard to see how anyone can still rationally believe in this. In my honest opinion, very few people actually believe the literal version of Genesis. Those I know tend to be very simple and naive folk although there are a few cynics as well: there's money to be made from such belief systems, even more so when the believers turn out to be very gullible.

  4. http://www.ebonmusings.org/atheism/love.html

  5. I understand and thank you for your correction although in my research I have found that a gravitational force can be measure i.e. the link that you have provided and also when viewing Newtons law of universial gravitation but gravity is a theorized force that a mass will exert on another to cause gravitation. The two are actually different, similar but seperate.
    I'm not arguing that the brain stimulus of love cannot be measured because emotion period can be measured but the effects of love are similar to those of insanity. How would we distinguish the two with measured stimulus? The effects can be seen but we does love derive from? I'm open to evidence and I know that I don't know it all so I would encourage all information to be given.
    For example you can measure the effects of love but you cannot measure love itself. What you can measure is animalistic drive to reproduce, lust for one another, pleasure senses being stimulated etc. but I think you and I would disagree that, that is all the constitutes love.
    What makes someone derive joy from their children? What makes someone stay committed when there is opportunity for unfaithfulness? What makes someone give their life for someone else? To me that defies logic.

  6. Sometimes atheists assert that there is no proof that God exists. The only problem is that an atheist cannot logically make that claim.

    In order to state that there is no proof for God's existence, you would have to know all alleged proofs that exist in order to then state that there is no proof for God's existence. But, since no one cannot know all things, we cannot logically state there is no proof for God's existence.

    At best, you can only state that of all the alleged proofs we have seen thus far, none have worked. You could even say that you believe there are no proofs for God's existence. But then, this means that there is the possibility that there is a proof or proofs out there and that you simply have not yet encountered one. Therefore one would be more agnostic then atheist. God could possibly exist based on the fact that not all evidence is known.

    Nevertheless, if there was a proof that truly did prove God's existence, would the you be able to accept it given that your presuppositions are in opposition to the existence of God? In other words, given that the you have a presuppositional base that there is no God, in order for you to accept a proof for God's existence, you would have to change your presuppositional base. This is not easy to do and would involve a major paradigm shift in the belief structure of an atheist. Therefore, an atheist is presuppositionally hostile to any proofs for God's existence and is less likely to be objective about such attempted proofs.

    I copied most of this information from www.carm.org . Tell me what you think.


  7. to Jonny_eh . I enjoyed reading that link and it did provide me with someone information and redirection. I was wondering though that if love is subjective as the article states and God is objective (which is actually a good argument) than why does almost everyone know some form of love? Love is not taught to my knowledge. How to show it may be but the feeling itself is not taught. If something is not learned than from where does it come and how do so many people get the same symptoms from it? Once again I ask questions from a position of ignorance mainly and don't suppose to know it all. I would love your opinion though.

  8. Deacon, regarding love, I am saying that it is probably possible to measure a persons brain when asked to think about a loved one. Eventually, this experiment should be done. I see no reason it can't. And scientists will be able to locate the parts of the brain that light up when a person thinks fondly of a loved one. I think this is a universal phenomenon amongst our species. And I also think it can be rated (loving someone more than someone else) at least at a certain time.

    As far as mothers giving up their lives. It happens all over the animal kingdom. Take squids/octupus for example. They don't eat while guarding the eggs, and after the eggs hatch, they die from not eating. It is an evolutionary trait that helps octopus keep their species going for another generation but it can be seen as mothers love.

    Regarding your post about God. You are leaving something out. Atheists conclude that man made up the concept of God. Anyone who says they have evidence must show the evidence (of course they can't). We know Gods are made up, because there are over 3400 different Gods who have been believed at one time or another. Unless you want to say that all of them Zeuss, the Sun, the Devil, a statue, etc, all can be God, you must admit that most Gods, if not all of them, are made up.

    Now about your copy. Put the word Tooth Fairy in replacement of the word God. Does your comment make the same sense to you? Why not?

  9. Deacon, short answer: it is or was evolutionary beneficial for man's ancestors to love. It is innate, just as it is innate for the octopus not to eat when guarding eggs.

  10. I understand what you mean by the tooth fairy thing but the tooth fairy can be conclusively proven false because I can actually see my hand reaching under the pillow and removing the tooth and replacing it with money. I think that's slightly different. If I could not conclusively prove its falsehood than i would have to accept it as a possibility. Just as I accept that I may die and being completely wrong as a possibility, I can't conclusively prove that there's a God(s) but I see evidence that to me points that there is. I can't conclusively prove it because I haven't died yet.
    Likewise though, through all the debate you cannot conclusively prove God does not exist. All you have a theories based on possible evidence that suggests otherwise. Therefore you must accept the possibility, not likelihood but possibility. Once the possibility is accepted then the research begins, to either conclusively prove or disprove, and if neither can be done then to ask pertinent questions i.e. if there is a God then why....?
    On the dying for a someone argument. I not talking about maternal instinct or survival which is obvious in nature. What about a soldier? What about martyrs? Their love isn't about survival of their young. Do you believe that it is the same thing? I haven't seen love in nature that would compare to someone standing in front of a bull-dozer to keep it away from forested land. Is that love also or innate? Once again I am humble so please help me out to understand. I'm open to answers. let me know what you think. Sorry for posting so much I don't mean to be so wordy lol now that's innate.

  11. Well at least one of us is being humble:)

    I think the love that a nature lover has in front of a bulldozer can be measured. I recently did a post that implies there is no such thing as altruism. Everything we do that appears to be altruistic actually gives part of our brain a positive "high." So we do things like that to give our brain a fix, sometimes consciously, and sometimes unconsciously.

    Lets forget the Tooth Fairy. What is I said that there was an invisible man under my be or a giant invisible elephant in my dining room. Should you accept those as being possibilities too? Or can you prove that you and I aren't the dream of another person?

    I can go on....

  12. Deacon:

    What you're saying is that with regards to G-d's existence that you are agnostic. Bravo and welcome!

    But BEAJ is absolutely right: there exists much positive evidence that G-d is a man-made concept that actually evolved (and evolves, see modern theology) very strongly throughout the ages, according to the paradigms of these ages.

    Ultimate, 100% proof? That, IMHO, never exists. We need to go by probabilities rather than certainties...

    My money is on the non-existence of G-d, each day and every day...

  13. On the claims of someone being under your bed etc. you can prove those to be false (hopefully).
    I merely asking you to provide evidence that CONCLUSIVELY disproves the existence of a God. I understand that I cannot conclusively prove it but can you disprove it?
    I agree with the fact that our brain does get a sensation from those things that I mentioned.
    The main thing that I ask of you though is to not to provide evidence to suggest that God doesn't exist but to conclusively prove God doesn't exist.
    For example your finger print is on a glass. I can prove that you touched the glass but I can't conclusively prove that you drank from it even though the evidence my suggest that. Therefore I can't say that you drank from it. You may have thrown it, moved it, etc.
    Likewise, you may have evidence that suggests something but can you prove your hypothesis? If not then it's a flawed position to argue from. Can you give me that info?

  14. Then Gert can you ever be an atheist? You're just basing your life on your best guess. My evidence leads me to believe that there is a God. Do I know everything? No, but based on what I have I have faith in that to be true. To me the evidence suggests that but I do not suppose that everyone else is wrong. I simply believe that if one accepts the possibility and then that possibility is researched than they will come to the same conclusion. There's no historical proof that suggests Zeus existed. At the very LEAST you have to accept the possibility that God may exist. I'm here to argue nothing else then to see you type that at least God is a possibility. Will you say that it is possible? Or does that get too close for comfort?

  15. Deacon. I don't claim to be able to disprove God's existence. And no, I couldn't disprove an invisible man under the bed if someone made that claim as well. Nor could I disprove the idea that an invisible elephant is looking over my shoulder as I am typing this comment.

    But not being able to disprove something and accepting it has a possibility are two different things.

    I don't accept the possibility of an invisible man under the bed, an elephant peaking over my shoulder, or God because none of the above have any evidence associated with it.

    The big question to ask is why do you believe? What is your evidence?

  16. so what type of evidence are you looking for? what evidence would you need to prove God's existence? If he manifested himself would consider that a hallucination? If he spoke to you would you think you were imagining? What, for you personally, would it take?

  17. You are answering a question with a question. Are you sure you are a deacon and not a rabbi:)

  18. I apologize I will answer your question. If you read Case for Christ I believe that's a good starting point. Although I don't agree with everything Strobel reports it is good. That's not all that is needed though to suggest belief in God must less Christ.

    Historical evidence suggests that Christ was an actual man (Phliny the Younger, Josephus, Tacitus, etc.) The historical aspects of the Bible have never been disproven and when archeological evidence is found it only substantiates the Bible's depiction. NOT ONE historical find has disproved the Bible conclusively i.e. Jesus' bones (the box found a while ago was even refuted by atheist scholars).

    Science is ever changing, even to the point where the Bible suggested things that science didn't discover till 100's of yrs later i.e. earth being round, conservation of energy, life is in the blood, etc. While science was bleeding people to death to get diseases out and telling people they'll fall off the end of the earth the Bible never changed and still held the same truths that science has realized today.

    Prophecy i.e. Psalms 22 describes crucifixion 400 yrs before the Assyrians created it and 400+ yrs before the Romans modified it. These are some reasons. Other reasons are merely subjective but still important but only on a personal level.

    Now what about you? What would it take to prove the existence of a God? By the way my best teacher was a rabbi, pretty cool guy.

  19. It would take a majority of scientists to throw up their arms and state that they can't explain something scientifically. Or God would need to show his face in front of more than one person at a time...and I'm talking reliable witnesses.

    The NT like the OT is full of scientific impossibilities and inconsistencies.

    The historians you mentioned did not live between 1-40 AD. They merely observed Christians and knew what Christians said they believed.

    My theory on Jesus is that he was myth made up by Paul and he morphed into a real man as decades and centuries passed.

    Now let me ask you something, if you were adopted at birth by Muslims, do you honestly think you'd be a Christian right now, or a good fearing Muslim?

  20. to your questions yes and yes. If not a Christian than a good fearing Muslim, due to the evidence that I believe points toward there being a God.

    On Jesus' evolution, Paul wouldn't of had any reason to leave his position of prominence to become one of the most despised men of the time so I would have trouble with that theory. I would consider that maybe jesus has evolved somewhat i.e. white hair, blue eyes, only speaking king james english lol etc. but I don't think Paul would've done it.

    Now, can you honestly believe that if witnesses did say such a thing that you'd believe them? Also a lot of scientists have accepted the probability of a God how many do you need?

    I guess my problem with most atheists I speak to won't consider the probability of God or even research it without bias. That's not every atheist but most. If a group of people say "hey I've seen God" atheists say "hallucination" if 99 out of 100 scientists say there's a God atheists will point at the one and say he's right.

    I make every attempt to approach every debate as much as possible with the idea that I may be wrong. Any day I could be proven wrong and I'm willing to accept that, therefore I look at evidence with a limited bias. I've seen and read the evidence you've asked for, it's already been presented and/or taken place and yet you don't believe. There are many stories and reports of it occuring and yet you explain it away.
    I haven't seen or read evidence that debunks my belief. Can you present it?
    I think you and I both agree that man with stretch anything to validate his stance, the question is though is are you doing that, honestly?

  21. There is little known about the historical Paul, but someone had to start the Jesus myth.
    Scientists believe god, but honest ones will admit that the belief is only on faith, not evidence.
    Again, we evolved a need to try to make sense of our mortality without going bonkers. We have a susceptibility to believe in the supernatural and a higher being. It is in our genes to do so.

    I am being totally honest. Knowing what I know about how religions are started, also knowing that reasonable plausible explanations exist without needing a God, I don't even consider God's existence. Just like I don't consider that there is an invisible elephant looking over my shoulder.

    I'm stating I can't disprove either. I don't know what more you want.

    You are asking me to debunk something that I consider totally made up. Can you debunk scientology? Can you debunk Zeuss or the Sun being God?

    If you give me characteristics for this invention of yours, I can try to debunk it.

    If someone says they were abducted and probed by an Alien how can I debunk that too?

    Should I consider that story too?

  22. "The main thing that I ask of you though is to not to provide evidence to suggest that God doesn't exist but to conclusively prove God doesn't exist."

    This is the usual disingenuous fan-dance that all such debates always turn into: we cannot disprove the existence of G-d, no one can. You believe however, that G-d exists, with no evidentiary basis.

    If G-d speaks to you that is not a verifiable, reproducible experience and it isn't empirical evidence as such. Personally I recommend a doctor...

    Lots of people have such experiences: there is however no evidence that these are manifestations of G-d. Why would he not reveal himself to us in an unmistakable way? Because he moves in mysterious ways? Nice try but no cigar. G-d doesn't reveal himself for the same reason that the Toothfairy doesn't and Bertrand Russell's Celestial Teapot was never observed: in all likelihood they don't exist and neither does G-d.

    As regards evidence from the Bible, please try and remain serious: an unreferenced book, written by multiple authors, centuries after the facts, in constant flux is nothing more than an entertaining narrative at best and a gross distortion at worst.

    Christian theology and catechism is similar: things get canonised sometimes centuries after the alleged facts: see Mary's ascension to heaven and the even more risible annunciation.

  23. Why would we go crazy without the idea? You said that "it's in our genes" to believe in something supernatural, why? Why would it be natural for humans to belief in something supreme? If it's in our genes than we must be created that way.

    I evaluate things are whether or not there is evidence for them. Either physical, psychological, historical or possibly even eye witness testimony by multiple sources.

    yes I can debunk all of those things that you mentioned. We have to define what a God is though before I could debunk Zues or the Sun God thing.

    If the proof that you supposedly base your claim on is false or disproven then your claim is false.

    Do you think that there haven't been millions of witnesses to miracles of God, supposed sightings etc.? If so then you only have selective research.

    I just think that you have asked for proof that has already been provided. Even by your own admittance. Why would a scientist, who is fact based, resort to faith???? Maybe b/c their facts can't explain everything, or even more maybe their facts supported their faith.

    I'm not asking for your conversion just that you acknowledge that the proof you've asked for has been given. It may not satisfy you but exactly what you requested has been given. What more do you want?

    Scientists have thrown up their hands and people have seen and experienced God. That's something you can't deny. Without a bias ask yourself, truly, what you need as proof and once you resolve that see if you can find it. Most importantly seek it with the intention of finding it.

    If it doesn't exist then you won't have to worry. If you come upon it though be rational but don't try to explain everything away.
    I'm just asking you to take a chance without skepticism.

    I do the same every time I debate. I take the chance of being proven wrong and I'm willing to accept that.

    I have to leave work now. Hopefully I'll see you tomorrow. I hope this debate didn't prove futile as the title says. Anyway, I hope you have a blessed day.

  24. Re: Jesus' possible existence:

    "If something is not learned than from where does it come and how do so many people get the same symptoms from it? "

    That's a fair question.

    Consider that love is an emotion, just like anger and jealousy.

    Emotions help people, and animals, deal with each other. Emotions push us to do things. Anger makes us strike out against people that wrong us, love makes us do things for people that are nice to us or who are related.

    As you can imagine, this would be beneficial to a social animal such as ourselves and our ancestors. Some people experience more 'love' than others, just as some people are filled with rage. The people with the best balance were more likely to succeed/survive and reproduce, this is how natural selection affected our emotions today.

    Is love in our heads? It seems so. It is possible to experience trauma to the brain and no longer be able to love.

    The area of research into how human psychology developed is called evolutionary psychology. I highly recommend Steven Pinker's book How The Mind Works to learn more. It's highly entertaining and informative.

  25. Deacon,

    1. It is natural to believe in the supernatural as an early man's self awareness defense mechanism against mortality (knowing that we die). Early man may not have coped well believing that this is all there is. And those who were more inclined to believe in higher powers or the supernatural would most likely have an advantage in getting to the next generation.

    2. I'm not making a claim. You are. You claim God exists. The onus is on you or in fact anyone who claims God exists.

    3. I'm confident that everyone who witnessed God didn't witness God. If God were real as Gert said, he would show himself in a much larger way. Also, those who believe in miracles, can't explain why God never heals amputees. In other words, all those who claim God cured them, are making it up. Maybe the belief in God helped, but that is about it.

    4. Scientists are like every other human. We are preprogrammed to be faithful. So the ones that experience God, are just buying into their hardwiring.

    5. I'm sorry, but you have not given any proof.

    Next: Define God for me.

  26. Deacon, as an atheist, I would never claim there is no proof that there is not some higher intelligent in the universe, what you would call God. What I would argue is that the evidence for the existence of the god described in the Bible is weak, and that such an entity is improbable.

    You see, it is one thing to argue in favor of the possibility that a supreme being or creator exists. But where you get onto shaky ground is when you claim that such an entity takes an active interest in our affairs, favors one army over another in war, decides who survives or dies from natural disasters, who can engage in sexual contact with each other and who cannot.

    Now, as for Jesus, unlike the esteemed host of this blog, I am inclined to believe that the Jesus of the Gospels is based on a real person. The personality of the Jesus in the Gospels is rather consistent, and to be quite honest, unlike the popular depictions of him in film and works of art as a serene and gentle man, in the Gospels he strikes me as rather impatient and temperamental.

    But it is one thing to accept the premise that there was an historical Jesus and quite another thing entirely for me to accept the claim that he was born from a virgin. For someone like you, that the Bible says he was born from a virgin is good enough for you. For me, it is not. In fact, I cannot conceive how one could ever prove such a thing.

    When you consider that our only knowledge of Jesus comes from the Gospels, and they were not written for decades after his death, the story of the virgin birth is written some 60 or 70 years after the alleged event. This is greater than the average life span for the period. Unless the Virgin Mary chose to visit me in person as an apparition and vouch for the validity of the story, my reason and intellect compel me to reject the claim.

  27. Tommy, is there any evidence for the existence of a God that created the universe?

    Secondly, The Cat In The Hat is consistent in both books written by Seuss, and Harry Potter to my knowledge has been consistent, so was Sherlock Holmes.

  28. Bacon (or do you prefer BEAJ?), I don't offer any evidence myself that there is a supreme being that created the universe. I am an atheist ya know! The intelligent design argument is the only semi-plausible argument theists have in their quiver. I cannot disprove the intelligent design argument.

    But my point with that is that I don't have to, because as I went on to write, the existence of a creator is a totally separate issue from whether or not the God of the Bible is real or that there is some higher power that intervenes in our affairs and has guidelines and rules that it expects us to abide by.

    As for Harry Potter and Sherlock Holmes, nobody to my knowledge was writing pop fiction 2,000 years ago. IF Jesus was a real person preaching around the Galilee in the early 1st century CE, I would hardly expect that there would be anything written about him by non-Jewish sources during or shortly after his lifetime.

    I don't claim 100% certainty that the Jesus of the Gospels was a real person. I merely give the benefit of the doubt based on my analysis. And again, as I stated above, believing that it is possible that Jesus was a real person in no way means I have to give credence to the stories of the Virgin Birth, the resurrection and such. Since we're both atheists, I don't see why that should trouble you.

  29. Tommy, Ken Miller destroyed ID in Dover. But ID doesn't really make in claims, only that animals must have a designer. That requires some sort of evidence, and all the evidence I've seen is that life doesn't require a designer.

    There were many historians alive between 1 and 40 AD, and there was no mention of Jesus.

    Historians later observed Christians and knew what the Christians believed. But by then, they were Christians who morphed Jesus into a real person.

    If you don't think there were fiction writers back then, I guess you believe in the Ark story:)

    Btw, you can call whatever you want. I'd go with whatever is easier for you to type.

  30. Okay, I will stick with Bacon then!


    Now let's focus on debating the theists than each other!

  31. okay you said "It would take a majority of scientists to throw up their arms and state that they can't explain something scientifically. Or God would need to show his face in front of more than one person at a time...and I'm talking reliable witnesses."

    Now here it is:

    PROOF 1
    PROOF 2
    PROOF 3

    (even if 1/50 is correct you have enough proof)

    Bottom line, a would venture out and guess that a majority of these people would be evaluated as being psychologically sane and mentally stable. Some of these aren't the best due to them being individual occurances, unable to be validated, solo reports etc. There are mass sightings reported though and validated reports. You can choose not to believe if you want. You asked for reliable witnesses, I gave them to you. Unless you consider only yourself to be a reliable witness.

    The second part you required was scientists. Here it is:

    -"MU professor takes heat for views on 'intelligent design'
    " -Columbia Tribune 2007

    -Dr. Stephen Meyer, Director, Center for Science and Culture (CSC) at Discovery Institute, and co-editor of Darwinism, Design, and Public Education

    -Dr. Michael Behe, Lehigh University biochemist and author of the bestselling book Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, and CSC senior fellow

    -"Owen Gingerich, an emeritus professor of astronomy and the history of science at Harvard University, is a cosmologist who sees, in the workings of the heavens, room for the divine."

    -Intelligent design advocate denied tenure at ISU, Guillermo Gonzalez, an assistant professor of physics and astronomy.

    -John Calvert, a Managing Director of IDnet. "The evidence of intelligent design is becoming more compelling with each new scientific discovery about the information processing systems of life. If you remove your naturalistic blinders and take a hard look, you can't miss it"

    all of these quotes are from my Lexis Nexis account. all of them were names, stories, etc. of articles published about scientists that turned to intelligent design i.e. existence of a god

    so tell me Beaj, if these are correct than you should be a believer. I'm not asking you to convert to Christianity but you have to admit that at least there is a reason for you to believe in the existence of something divine.

    Out of your mouth came the pillars that you'd need to believe. Mass, reliable witnesses, and scientists. I gave you a little of both. But I doubt you'll accept it and you'll attempt to criticize the evidence, of course. Man can't accept change. It's always been hard for someone to do. If you accepted this then you would have to completely do an overhaul in your life. All I'm doing is leaving you without an excuse. You can't ever honestly say that no evidence has been provided that suggests there's a God.

    have a blessed day Beaj.

  32. Miracles? You have to be kidding me.
    You are insulting my intelligence right now, Deacon.

    Why hasn't God ever healed any amputees?

    Here is what I said:

    It would take a majority of scientists to throw up their arms and state that they can't explain something scientifically. Or God would need to show his face in front of more than one person at a time...and I'm talking reliable witnesses.

    Honestly, you gave me nothing. The scientists you name just consider God to exist out of faith. Why can't you just be honest and say that you have faith because you need to believe that there is something else, and just leave it at that? I'm not just talking you, but most theists, who beat their chests saying they have proof, but have absolutely nothing.

    Faith and reason are pretty much opposites.

    Here are a couple of videos for you. Prayers are coincidence

    Questions for intelligent Christians

  33. Yeah right Deacon, God granted Israel a "miraculous" victory in the 1967 war just so that Israel can rule over a growing population of sullen and hostile Palestinians who commit acts of terrorism against Israel's civilian population. Guess that's just all part of "Gawd's" master plan, right? If the Arab soldiers had spontaneously combusted instead, you might have a credible argument.

    History is replete with examples of smaller armies defeating larger ones. The Mongols routinely defeated armies that outnumbered them. The Greeks defeated larger Persian armies.

    Israel's army was better trained and better equipped than its opponents in the 67 War. And gosh, what a shock, armies suffer from communications breakdowns, misunderstood orders, botched battle plans!

  34. Deacon:

    I doubt very much if any of the "miracles" you present would actually be accepted by the Vatican as being such, as they have become extremely critical of "reported miracles" themselves.

    That some things, at least on the face of it, seem to defy rational explanation doesn't mean the hand of G-d is involved.

    The "hand of G-d" thingy is invoked in the most ridiculous of ways. A guys's soccer team wins a match and, hops, it's "G-d answered my prayers!"

    There are also some "mass sightings" of "mass resurrections", often in Africa. These reports are never corroborated, yet lapped up by the believers. I could put up a fake webpage about my own resurrection and you'd rejoice about it.

    Why, instead of making all this brouhaha, don't you simply accept that your belief is simply an article of faith and a weak one at that? It seems sufficient for you that because G-d's existence cannot be proved or disproved that ergo he must exist.

    Atheist/agnostics simply accept that there is no direct or indirect evidence for the existence of a G-d or G-ds and therefore conclude logically that in al likelihood he (they) doesn't exist. Period and amen to that.

  35. Religious amputees have a case for suing G-d for anti-amputeeism, one of the most horrific forms of discrimination...

    That vid is going up on my blog, thanks Bacon!

  36. The trouble with faith debates of any sort:

    If you don't believe in a higher power, and hold by science, then you must think that biology combined with mental conditioning and societal norms led a person to follow religion. Either that or they're a little off their rocker, judging by the opinions of more internet atheists. Basically, they can't really control it; they're hard-wired to believe as they do.

    If you believe in a higher power but not in free will, your god makes people believe or not. If they believe, they believe, if they don't, they don't, and only your god can change their mind.

    If you believe in a higher power and in free will, your god must have given people the ability to choose for a reason. Clearly she/he/it does not want them to have to be coaxed, brainwashed, conditioned, debated, or forced to believe in her/him/it.

    Attempting to convince someone they are wrong about their faith is pointless. Debates should be over things where you can affect the way people think, not things that they've already firmly made up their mind about. Telling a religious person their faith is wrong is the exact same thing as telling an atheist your religion is right. Neither is going to be effective.

    That's not to say that a person shouldn't explain their point of view if questioned or make it available to people who are undecided. But going to the blog of a religious person and attempting to debate with them-- or, honestly, coming to BEAJ's blog and trying the same-- is never going to change the way a person thinks. Focusing one's attention on the blogs of those who are questioning their faith would be much more effective.

  37. Oh, and as for the "there are no contemporary writings supporting the existence of Jesus at that time" argument you've used-- he was a poor itenerant preacher and I'm guessing they exaggerated the numbers of his followers anyway. To the Romans, he was just another annoying cult leader. They had lots of those. Writings at the time were incredibly Rome-centric and I would have been more surprised if they'd actually cared that some dude was wandering around collecting zealots in the desert.

    Which isn't to say he's real or not, just that that argument isn't as powerful as many people think it is.

  38. Hi Basiorana

    I stated this in my post:

    ...the main reason I leave my mark on these types of blogs is because of the lurkers. I've said this before, it is unlikely to get someone who doesn't believe in evolution or an ancient earth, or who thinks that gays are an abomination in God's eyes. However many people haven't really formed their opinions or are on the fence when it comes to such issues. It is those people who I hope I'm influencing.

    As for the argument that no one wrote about Jesus because of illiteracy or because he wasn't on the radar screen, my reply is that he sure was on the radar screen and written about just 100 years later.

    Paul invented Jesus. That is my story and I'm sticking to it.

  39. Deacon:
    1st, you're employing the negative proof fallacy - 'absence of evidence doesn't mean evidence is absent'.
    2nd, Saul was rejected as a good husband for the daughter of a Pharisee.
    3rd, anecdotal evidence is pretty much inadmissible in court. The Romans AND Jews of that particular time-frame wouldn't allow it.
    4th, I'm fairly sure we've all seen/heard the 'evidence' from carm.org.
    5th, we've evolved this need for a father figure (or mother, if you prefer). It's part of the natural sequence of life.
    6th, we take joy in our kids, that too is only natural. It's natural selection refined over millions of years.

    I'm somewhat surprised by this lapse:
    Gravity cannot be measured but merely observed by its effects
    Measuring something IS observing its effects.

    Which isn't to say he's real or not, just that that argument isn't as powerful as many people think it is.
    In an era where records were notoriously corrupt (it can barely be proved that Pilate himself existed), I find it somewhat compelling myself.
    An argument from silence has quite a bit of merit, actually. Especially considering that this was supposed to be a pivotal moment in the history of Man.

  40. Hey, Deacon, come back here pal. We haven't talked about monotheistic doctrine yet: that's were the real fun starts. Noah's ark, young earth, religiously sanctioned homophobia, having your woman walk six feet behind you, flying planes into buildings, that sort of niceties...