• Christianity and science. Again.

    Here is a quote that I posted on the Daily Telegraph (eek) in the UK which was reporting the letter it had received denouncing PM Cameron’s claim that we should be proud that we are a Christian nation. I will first post the comment I reacted to:

    What do they imagine is the source of their liberal egalitarianism other than the Christian idea of all souls being equal in the eyes of God? Clue, that’s why such a thing as liberalism and free enquiry, that’s to say science, first took root in this part of the world and not elsewhere. The fact that they may be card carrying humanists today doesn’t alter that.

    I simply stated:

    Oh dear.

    Christianity is not responsible for science.

    Christianity is not responsible for science

    To which he replied:

    Thank you for the link – yes I don’t dissent from any of that: indeed at times Christianity has been anti-science; at others Islam has been a haven of learning, the means of transmissioin for Greek thought, the fount of science. But it doens’t invalidate my point that enlightenment or free inquiry, the basis of science as we know it today, notwithstanding its long and varied previous history, flourished in specifically Christian polities, and for two principal reasons: the separation of powers between Church and State ( render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s . . .contrast Islam) and the Christian emphasis on the value of truth itself: the one true God, the antecedent of unconditional truth as a primary value. Which ultimately and paradoxically proved the undoing of Christianity. Hence Nietszche’s point that the man of science was the latest incarnation of “asceitc values” or the “priestly type”, having reonunced faith in the one true God for fatih in truth itself.

    And this is what I said, and I quite like it!

    I think there is definitely an interesting distinction between Islam and Christianity here (which I have done a podcast on, even) which plays into what you are saying. Part of it is that Islam IS the word of God and operates a a theocracy. There is no budging. This is its strength and its weakness, and the same applies to Christianity. Islam expects society (science, technology, economics, moral progress, Enlightenment, philosophy) to adapt TO IT. Thus in evolutionary terms, it is not adaptive to environments. The strength is its purity, the weakness its lack of adaptability.

    Christianity, OTOH, adapts to its environment and society. This is why there are some 40,000 denominations of it worldwide. Its strength is its adaptability, its weakness its lack or purity. This is because it is not the word of God, but the word of man, perhaps inspired by God. Perhaps.

    The Qu’ran was dictated by God, so you can’t (supposedly) mess with it. The Bible is ripe for interpretation, and no two theologians agree on what a particular passage or pericope means..

    The adaptivity of Christianity has meant that science was more likely to develop in a mass way than with Islam.

    But actually, this took a hell of long time, and a whole period where we lost so much knowledge amassed by Greeks and Romans. What the Christians did to Hypatia of Alexandria was scandalous. The destruction of the Academy equally so. I would be wary of cherry picking only the good things which happened way too late that Christianity supposedly engendered.

    Would you be so happy to agree that Christianity was responsible for massive worldwide slavery? That the Curse of Ham and other biblical texts were used to countenance mass exploitation?

    Probably not. But using such logic, I would say you cannot take the good, but refuse to acknowledge responsibility for the bad.

    Personally, I would be fairer.

    Humans are responsible for the good and the bad of the world, in different historical and cultural contexts. We have seen the scientific method develop before, during and after the Christian dominance.

    We have seen slavery abolished centuries before Christ in different parts of the world. I would not ascribe causal responsibility in such a way to religions, but to humans.

    When we’re good, we’re good. When we’re bad, we suck, irrespective of the default religion of the society which we are analysing. Christianity wasn’t responsible for the sickening crusades, or science. The bad and the good were human doings, in our conquest both for power and greed, but also understanding an knowledge.

    The sooner everyone understood this, the quicker we can all herald and favour one whilst disavowing and falling prey to the other.

    RELATED POSTS:

    Category: ScienceScience and religionSecularism

    Tags:

    Article by: Jonathan MS Pearce

    • Luke Breuer

      To what extent have you studied the history of “liberal egalitarianism”? I’m reminded of Nicholas Wolterstorff’s Justice: Rights and Wrongs, in which he sketches the history of ‘rights’ and ‘justice’. I’m also reminded of sociologist Peter Berger’s A Far Glory:

      The Dutch historian Jan Romein coined the phrase “the common human pattern” to denote some features of society and culture that can be found throughout history. The modern West deviates sharply from this common pattern, not least in the character and degree of individuation. This is the sound empirical foundation for the claim that Western individualism is an aberration; the common pattern has the individual tightly bonded within his community. (101)

      For Western individualism, like no other worldview in human history, has proposed (I would say discovered) the irreplaceable worth of every individual, regardless of race, nation, gender, age, physical or mental handicap, belief system, or any other collective ascription. Every human culture recognizes certain rights belonging to an individual by virtue of his membership in a community. Only Western individualism has brought about the recognition of an individual’s rights apart from his community and, if necessary, against it. These rights are closely linked to a perception of the individual as a free and responsible being, indeed a solitary being—and not just an agent of some communal entity. (101-102)

      If Berger (and Romein) is right, “liberal egalitarianism” is not obviously an expected outcome. This begs the question, why did it arise? One such answer is found in Otto Borchert’s The Original Jesus: Jesus challenged the status quo at the time (of Greeks/Romans, Jews, and Jesus’ disciples), as he continues to challenge the status quo of our time. I would be fascinated to hear about other answers, and how they contend with Jesus as an explanation for an unexpected… evolution in human society and philosophy.

      • Void Walker

        “Jesus challenged the status quo at the time”

        So have a number of other historical figures. Claiming novelty means nothing here.

        Also, one should be aware that the gospels are not nearly as accurate as assumed (needed for faith to endure, actually). See here: http://adversusapologetica.wordpress.com/2013/08/18/ancient-historical-writing-compared-to-the-gospels-of-the-new-testament/

        And here: http://adversusapologetica.wordpress.com/2013/12/17/why-scholars-doubt-the-traditional-authors-of-the-gospels/

        Instead of pulling out the peer review card, why not read both links in full?

        • Luke Breuer

          These have nothing to do with the impact Jesus had on history.

          • Void Walker

            How many people had a positive impact on history, Luke? Real or imaginary, countless individuals have changed the course of history. I would argue that Jesus had little impact, actually. The people who carried on his message (which is what the above links relate to; much of what is attributed to him is in question) were the one’s who had such an impact. Jesus is dead (if he existed to begin with), much as other prominent figures in history who’s messages resounded (and still do).

            Really though, lets talk about Jesus for a bit. Well, God (that’s kinda who jesus is in your belief).

            I have a couple questions for you: 1: why did Jesus, in his resurrected form, only appear to a handful of people? Wouldn’t a more global revelation have ensured a more wide spread Christianity?

            2: Why would God sacrifice himself to….himself? Do you not think that blood sacrifice is a little archaic?

            • Andy_Schueler

              2: Why would God sacrifice himself to….himself? Do you not think that blood sacrifice is a little archaic?

              The blood sacrifice part is weird but for me, it´s by far not the weirdest part of the story… The weirdest part for me is the “dying for our sins” idea. What the hell is that supposed to mean?

              It does seem to rely on the idea that a “sin” is something that can be transferred from one person to another, but that doesn´t make any more sense to me than “transferring” any non-sinful activity from one person to another – “John bore Jims TV watching in his body” doesn´t make any sense, so why is “He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross” supposed to make sense? I also never understood how Christians reconcile the idea of the atonement with the idea of personal accountability – a concept that every single Christian I´ve ever met believes in – we deem the punishment of someone for the crimes of someone else to be a grave injustice, why does this principle magically disappear when said someone is Jesus? (I get that a Jew two thousand years ago might have had a different perspective on that, but Christians nowadays seem to overwhelmingly accept the idea that people never ought to be punished for the crimes of someone else).
              To me, the atonement seems to be well captured in this DarkMatter video:
              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VWAUhadJzTk
              I´ve shown this video to some Christians and they all perceive it to be a strawman, and I always wonder – cool, if the atonement is not like that, then what the hell is it supposed to mean?

              What was your understanding of what the meaning of the son of god dying on the cross “for our sins” was supposed to be, when you were still a Christian?

            • Void Walker

              That video made me laugh :)

              It isn’t just the barbarism of blood sacrifice that gets me. It’s the idea that god would sacrifice himself to himself (as I noted above in my response to luke). Seriously?

            • Nerdsamwich

              Odin sacrificed himself to himself to gain wisdom, so that he might be a better ruler, a more fit god. He came down from the tree after nine days and nights bearing the lore of the runes, and thus was writing and the magic of indelible memory brought into the world of gods and of men.

            • Void Walker

              But….but….Odin. Ha! Checkmate, atheist.

            • daasdsad

              Odin is god? Oh no! D:

            • Void Walker

              I always felt that our culpability, sin-wise, for something that two non existent entities did generations ago is kinda like blaming the great, great, great, great grandson of a deranged serial killer for his murderous rage centuries prior.

            • Luke Breuer

              I would love to hear your thoughts on what to do in Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, and Egypt. You see, in those places, wrongs have been committed across multiple generations, with many of the perpetrators now dead. The benefits of the wrongs have been given to some, while the costs to others. How do we move forward in such a situation?

            • Void Walker

              Dude…we both need to really work on butting in. I’m having a conversation with Andy, not you.

              In answer to your inquiry, I honestly don’t know. Why should I possess the answers? Moreover, what does this *even have to do* with my comment to Andy?

            • Luke Breuer

              Shall we agree to never butt in again? I objected to you doing in a very specific way, in my discussion with Nerdsamwich; you seem to have generalized it. So, are there any acceptable ways to “butt in”? If so, can you describe them for me? I wish to offend you less frequently, but I need help to do so.

            • Void Walker

              Firstly, you aren’t offending me. Seriously. I have an attitude, but VERY thick skin. So don’t worry about it.

              Secondly, yes. I agree to never once butt in again. It is never fruitful for either of us.

            • Luke Breuer

              My apologies for butting in. I likewise agree, with the understanding that “butt in” means to respond to a non-root comment of yours which was not in response to one of my comments.

            • Void Walker

              No need to apologize, Luke. I’ve butted in a LOT. Here and elsewhere.

            • Luke Breuer

              Your actions do not excuse mine.

            • Void Walker

              I didn’t say that dude, I was just apologizing for *my* actions, and asserting somewhat of a double standard.

            • Luke Breuer

              How many people had a positive impact on history, Luke?

              The fact that your question does not address degree of impact is disturbing.

              1: why did Jesus, in his resurrected form, only appear to a handful of people? Wouldn’t a more global revelation have ensured a more wide spread Christianity?

              2: Why would God sacrifice himself to….himself? Do you not think that blood sacrifice is a little archaic?

              1. You forget that isought. Merely assenting to Jesus’ existence is not enough; one must decide that he is true, good, and beautiful. Even the demons believe that God is one, and tremble. And yet, they’re still demons!

              2. Do you think that sin doesn’t have lasting, physical consequences in reality? I think that turning evil to good costs, and that ‘blood’ best symbolizes this cost. Now, there is a heresy in Christianity which says that forgiveness automagically makes the badness go away. Tell that to people in Ukraine, Syria, Rwanda, or Egypt. No, there is a build-up of evil, across generations, which cries out for justice. And yet, what would ‘justice’ be? See 2. in my Kagain-WLC comment for another statement of this idea. I believe that only voluntary self-sacrifice can re-balance the moral equation. Jesus set the standard for us to follow, if we so choose. The consequences of evil are not magicked away. To make that possible would be to devalue any and all suffering at the hands of evil!

            • Void Walker

              1: This did not even address my question. Because Jesus only appeared to a select few, we have two major outcomes: firstly, countless people that, at the time of his resurrection, did not even know he existed (and were worshiping dramatically different gods/goddesses) were condemned to Hell. Had he appeared to them and made the truth known, this would not have been the case; a tragedy averted. Secondly, appearing to a select few, and the manner in which this is revealed in the gospels, has led plenty of people away from their faith in Christianity (this was instrumental in the loss of my faith, for instance). Both of these could have been avoided had Jesus appeared to more than a handful of people in one tiny fraction of the middle east.

              2: I think you’re still failing to answer my question. God sacrificing himself to *himself* is utterly nonsensical. Can you seriously not see this?

              One minute I admire you. You accept evolution, you are clearly a friend to science. The next, you believe that God magically knocked up a 14 year old kid, was born himself and his own son (?), lived a life that was largely undocumented (so the Son of God isn’t worthy of an in depth biography?), and bled out on a few slabs of wood; magicking himself back to heaven a few days thereafter. Isn’t there some cognitive dissonance at play here? I’m not trying to be mean, I’m honestly curious.

            • Luke Breuer

              1. I disagree with your assertion that not hearing about Jesus ⇒ hellbound. I also disagree with your assertion that hearing the truth ⇒ being saved—people reject the truth all the time, in religious and non-religious contexts. You are asserting counterfactuals as to what would have happened had Jesus appeared to more people which I just don’t see supported.

              2. You appear to reject the doctrine of the Trinity. I think we’re going to have to agree to disagree. You seem to think God cannot create a world in a ‘social’ manner (Father, Son, Holy Spirit), let that world become broken, and then fix it himself. For this is what the crucifixion and resurrection did: spark the fixing of creation, a fixing in which Christians are called to play a part. God both let creation screw up, and played a part in fixing it. He had no obligation to do the latter. Just like you have no obligation to sacrifice of your own opportunities to help others.

              One minute I admire you. You accept evolution, you are clearly a friend to science. The next, you believe that God magically knocked up a 14 year old kid, was born himself and his own son (?), lived a life that was largely undocumented (so the Son of God isn’t worthy of an in depth biography?), and bled out on a few slabs of wood; magicking himself back to heaven a few days thereafter. Isn’t there some cognitive dissonance at play here? I’m not trying to be mean, I’m honestly curious.

              I think reality is much larger and fantastic than you do. You are playing God’s actions off as if they are irrational; I see them as exceedingly rational and lawful. You think that fundamental reality is cold and impersonal; I see God as the fundamentally most real person (not ‘thing’). You undermine freedom of the will and thus knowledge (for how do you know if you have knowledge, if you cannot direct your will?); I assert freedom of the will, despite my inability to construct it in a way you find compelling. Our differences are not at the level you are describing right now, Void. They run so much more deeply.

              You have a very odd conception of humans. You think that if Jesus just appeared to them, things would change drastically. Do you know how odd of a claim this is? Can you think of any other communication of truth which instantaneously, drastically changed all or at least most people? I cannot. Most people are extremely stubborn. They think they know pretty much everything they will ever know. Jesus threatens to fundamentally reorient your life, not just make some modest tweaks. People generally resist such reorienting!

            • Void Walker

              “I disagree with your assertion that not hearing about Jesus ⇒ hellbound”

              Then why did Jesus even die to begin with? If we did not need him to make it to heaven, his sacrifice is pointless. I’ve never, not even once, heard a christian say such a thing. This is truly bizarre.

              “You appear to reject the doctrine of the Trinity.”

              That’s because the trinity is an incoherent mess. http://infidels.org/kiosk/article/the-three-gods-of-christianity-the-irreconcilable-trinity-744.html

              “You have a very odd conception of humans. You think that if Jesus just appeared to them, things would change drastically.”

              So we should just wait countless centuries until the “good news” has reached every part of the globe? Really?

            • Luke Breuer

              Then why did Jesus even die to begin with? If we did not need him to make it to heaven, his sacrifice is pointless. I’ve never, not even once, heard a christian say such a thing. This is truly bizarre.

              hearing about Jesus ≠ trusting Jesus

              Here’s a question for you: do you think it is possible to trust Jesus without knowing how to vocalize his name?

              That’s because the trinity is an incoherent mess.

              Then we ought steer clear of any conversations which require a tentative acceptance of some basics of the doctrine of the Trinity.

              So we should just wait countless centuries until the “good news” has reached every part of the globe? Really?

              I do not understand your question.

            • Void Walker

              “hearing about Jesus ≠ trusting Jesus”

              So trusting jesus is what’s needed to enter the kingdom of heaven? How could someone trust Him if they know nothing about Him? This is the point I’ve been trying to convey: whether jesus appeared to all or not, *some* aspect of his existence (acceptance of divinity and sacrifice, enacting his teachings through compassion, etc) *would need to be known* in order to see heaven. Yet he only manages to appear to a select few? Really? In essence, this act *condemned* all those who lived before hearing of him, to eternal damnation. If you disagree, I’d be hard pressed to even consider you a Christian.

              “I do not understand your question”

              See the above.

              Basically, Christs sacrifice would be moot if nothing note worthy could be gleaned from it. He is the key to heaven, is he not? How wise for such a key to make himself known to but a tiny minority of those in existence at that time? If the goal was saving humanity, he did a shit job. The overwhelming majority of people living at that time, and for generations after (until the bible was in print and missionaries began scattering), would be damned to hell. Do you see what I mean now?

            • Luke Breuer

              How could someone trust Him if they know nothing about Him?

              I believe we have the ability to discern aspects about Jesus from going through life and reflecting on it. This, I take to be part of the message of Rom 1:19-20. Societal norms (see sociology of knowledge) can twist a person’s moral sense quite a lot, but I don’t think they can destroy it. I think God always leaves a way “in”, if a person wants to learn what is good, despite the suffering required in standing up for what is good/right/beautiful. I forget if this is from the book Spirit of the Rainforest or from direct interview with the shaman, but I recall hearing that among the spirits encountered by the shaman, a “shining white” one was always available to be inquired of, if desired. Post-conversion, the shaman interpreted this as Jesus making himself available, but not pushing himself on him.

              In essence, this act *condemned* all those who lived before hearing of him, to eternal damnation. If you disagree, I’d be hard pressed to even consider you a Christian.

              Seriously? Google search for “not hear gospel hell”. Or see Wikipedia’s fate of the unlearned. The technical term is Inclusivism. How could you not know about this stuff?

              Basically, Christs sacrifice would be moot if nothing note worthy could be gleaned from it.

              I agree. Who said “nothing note worthy could be gleaned from it”? People have known about the importance of voluntary self-sacrifice for a long time. I wouldn’t be surprised if only in this day and age, in the West, do we not understand the importance thereof.

              If the goal was saving humanity, he did a shit job.

              And you can do a better job? I’m serious; I want to know why you have confidence in your analysis. I wouldn’t trust a person’s reading of a CT scan unless he/she is a radiologist. So, from whence comes your confidence in your judgment, here? No waving of the omni-wand, please.

            • Void Walker

              “I believe we have the ability to discern aspects about Jesus from going through life and reflecting on it.”

              Again, had the majority of earths population not known *anything* about Christ (including that he even existed), how could they enact his teachings? If they could do so without him, why pull the jesus card to begin with?

              “Seriously?”

              Yep. I’ve already dug into this. If the kingdom of heaven can be entered by any who live a “christ like” life, then why go to the trouble of knocking up a teen, then bleeding out for our “sins” to begin with? If Jesus was just a great thinker/teacher, his ultimate blood sacrifice is utterly pointless. Why die when there are other ways to enter heaven? Have you not given this any thought?

              “I agree. Who said “nothing note worthy could be gleaned from it”?”

              When I said that (should have clarified), I meant entrance to heaven, forgiveness of our sins. You assert that a “christ like” life would suffice. So I’ll ask again, why would jesus even die for our sins, then?

              “And you can do a better job?”

              Again with this. Sigh.

              Hell exists. Countless people are suffering/will suffer, find agonizing separation from God in hell. Why not use hell as a sort of boot camp? Cleanse a person of their “evils”, then grant them entry to heaven? Hows that for a start?

            • Luke Breuer

              How do you expect the wrongs in this world to be righted? I’d like you to tackle this question if you’d like me to continue this thread. I think wrongs can only be righted through voluntary suffering. Thus, Jesus’ death actually did something. It wasn’t just an example—it was an example, but it was much more. We seem to be running into a lot of friction over this issue, so how about we tackle it head-on?

            • Void Walker

              Again, how honorable is his suffering considering that he was resurrected days after, given super powers, and now sits at the right hand of Himself in heaven, never to experience suffering again? I can think of some truly admirable instances where a person sacrificed themselves for someone, with no hope/possibility of resurrection. They suffered more than Jesus did, but weren’t turned into superman after. In this light, jesus really didn’t suffer that much, at all. Far from it.

              A fine example actually occurred in a nearby town called Powell. There was a fire in a barn, and a teenage boy was trapped inside of it. The boys father, desperate to save him, crawled through fire and wreckage, then covered his son up. The boy survived, the father died *one week* later; his body so horribly disfigured by the flames molestation that he could not be recognized. Was the father magicked back into being? No. Did he suffer? More than you or I can imagine.

              ….but he’s still dead.

            • Luke Breuer

              Again, how honorable is his suffering considering that he was resurrected days after, given super powers, and now sits at the right hand of Himself in heaven, never to experience suffering again?

              Well, seeing as Christians believe the same benefits apply to those who trust in Jesus, by this reasoning it is not honorable for any Christian to suffer and die for his/her beliefs.

              I can think of some truly admirable instances where a person sacrificed themselves for someone, with no hope/possibility of resurrection. They suffered more than Jesus did, but weren’t turned into superman after. In this light, jesus really didn’t suffer that much, at all.

              Ah, ok, you know there isn’t an afterlife. No wonder there is miscommunication! I thought that was an unknown.

              ….but he’s still dead.

              You remind me of George Herbert’s A Dialogue-Anthem:

                                            Christian, Death

              Chr.   ALAS, poor Death ! where is thy glory ?
                        Where is thy famous force, thy ancient sting ?
              Dea.   Alas, poor mortal, void of story !
                        Go spell and read how I have killed thy King.

              Chr.   Poor Death ! and who was hurt thereby ?
                        Thy curse being laid on Him makes thee accurst.
              Dea.   Let losers talk, yet thou shalt die ;
                        These arms shall crush thee.

              Chr.                                                 Spare not, do thy worst.
                        I shall be one day better than before ;
                        Thou so much worse, that thou shalt be no more.

              You’ve let Death tell the story, Void.

            • Void Walker

              “Well, seeing as Christians believe the same benefits apply to those who trust in Jesus, by this reasoning it is not honorable for any Christian to suffer and die for his/her beliefs.”

              I really don’t see how that follows. All that I’ve laid barren is that Christs “suffering” and “sacrifice” are utterly moot considering that he was God, knew that he would be resurrected, knew that his suffering would be rectified and obliterated via Himself. Now, if Christ had suffered and died, outright, zero resurrection/super powers, that would be worth mentioning. I see no honor in a sacrifice if one is armed with knowledge of their own God-hood.

              “Ah, ok, you know there isn’t an afterlife. No wonder there is miscommunication! I thought that was an unknown.”

              Tell me where I have asserted this. I don’t believe in the Christian afterlife, where some will see eternal paradise but others will rot in hell for eternity. I’m very much open to the possibility of an after life, but seeing as how consciousness is a product of the brain, I find the notion that it could somehow live *beyond* the death of the brain untenable.

              “You’ve let Death tell the story, Void.”

              But lady death spins such a compelling narrative. Absolute and resonant.

            • Luke Breuer

              All that I’ve laid barren is that Christs “suffering” and “sacrifice” are utterly moot considering that he was God, knew that he would be resurrected, knew that his suffering would be rectified and obliterated via Himself.

              So with knowledge, pain and suffering no longer hurt?

              I see no honor in a sacrifice if one is armed with knowledge of their own God-hood.

              You have a curious definition of ‘honor’. Christians are called to sacrifice on the way to god-hood (see Theosis), so their martyrs don’t seem to be honorable either, by your definition.

              Tell me where I have asserted this.

              You said:

              They suffered more than Jesus did, but weren’t turned into superman after.

              But perhaps you could precisely define ‘superman’, especially in the light of “you are gods”?

              seeing as how consciousness is a product of the brain

              Ah, I didn’t realize all those difficult problems of consciousness had been so surely resolved! I guess there’s no radio-function of the brain, eh? No way it could pick up signals from outside of it and integrate them into consciousness? (My sarcasm is a response to the sureness with which you have spoken.)

              But lady death spins such a compelling narrative. Absolute and resonant.

              Ahh, so it’s death which is Absolute Truth. Ok.

            • Void Walker

              “So with knowledge, pain and suffering no longer hurt?”

              Again, where did I make such a claim? Pain and suffering were clearly an integral part of the equation. As I said, though, both of these are rendered moot when one considers A: Christs knowledge that he was God, and B: His knowledge that the pain and suffering/death were FAR from final. His knowledge was, in fact, a tad closer to certainty of such abilities/”god”hood than any Christian alive today. Unless you can turn water into wine, and are utterly convinced of your Godhood.

              Another aspect of your faith that puzzles me. Well, two, actually.

              1: You believe that christ performed miracles, and arose from the dead. Do you see *anything* like that happening today? At all?

              2: You acknowledge that much of the torah is myth. I mean, a global flood? How ridiculous. But the NT, with all it’s magic and demons, that is *clearly* historical. How do you decide what is real and what is myth?

              “But perhaps you could precisely define ‘superman’, especially in the light of “you are gods”?”

              Flight, invincibility, magic. Kinda sounds superman-ish to me. He *knew*, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that such things were eventualities after his “demise”.

              “Ah, I didn’t realize all those difficult problems of consciousness had been so surely resolved! I guess there’s no radio-function of the brain, eh? No way it could pick up signals from outside of it and integrate them into consciousness? (My sarcasm is a response to the sureness with which you have spoken.)”

              Consciousness, like so many things in nature that have puzzled us, will be dissected and understood with time. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/a-theory-of-consciousness/ here is an interesting theory regarding it. But really, do you wanna go here again? I’d be happy to dance with you once more, if you wish. Just say the word. Something else you may wanna look into: https://www.princeton.edu/main/news/archive/S38/91/90C37/

              “Ahh, so it’s death which is Absolute Truth. Ok.”

              Nope. Never said that, pretty sure I didn’t even insinuate it.

            • Luke Breuer

              Again, where did I make such a claim?

              I am trying to understand precisely what it is you are saying. One way to do is to “shave off” ideas which possibly are implied by what you have said.

              A: Christs knowledge that he was God, and B: His knowledge that the pain and suffering/death were FAR from final.

              How does ‘A’ make pain and suffering not hurt? Or more precisely, how is it relevant to your point? This seems awfully omni-wandish. As to ‘B’, have you read Rom 8:16-18? It ends, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing to the glory that is to be revealed to us.” It matches Heb 12:1-2, which says that Jesus, “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross”.

              Honestly, this seems like an atheist version of “God said it, I believe it, that settles it.” Somehow, the mere utterance of ‘God’ makes your point valid. No, it doesn’t. Could you perhaps make a more articulate point out of this particular tangent? I don’t see how we’re going to progress much further without one.

              His knowledge was, in fact, a tad closer to certainty of such abilities/”god”hood than any Christian alive today (I.E, he knew, beyond a shred of doubt, that he would be resurrected/dwell in heaven. Can you make a similar claim? If you sacrificed your life, you would *not* possess such certainty as Christ clearly did). Unless you can turn water into wine, and are utterly convinced of your Godhood.

              Many Christians through spacetime did seem to have quite a lot of certainty. And many have been recorded as doing miracles. So it’s not clear what you’re saying here, unless you’re just denying all the miracles and calling into question all that certainty. With certainty, or at least virtual certainty, it seems.

              1: You believe that christ performed miracles, and arose from the dead. Do you see *anything* like that happening today? At all?

              2: You acknowledge that much of the torah is myth. I mean, a global flood? How ridiculous. But the NT, with all it’s magic and demons, that is *clearly* historical. How do you decide what is real and what is myth?

              1. I have seen a tiny amount, and heard enough—especially including bits from a world-class scientist who is an atheist—to think that anything can happen. The question is, what purpose is being sought after? Few seem to want something like what Jesus wanted, and so I expect to see little in the way of awesomeness. Why would Jesus give us power to merely serve our own ends?

              2. You’ve looked into local floods in the ANE, right? Simply switch ‘world’ → ‘known world’ and are the flood bits that terrible, when read in spacetime context? As to “what is real and what is myth”, I’m more concerned with what helps me better navigate reality; I recently amused myself by noting that I have been using the term ‘navigate reality’ longer than I knew about the Neurathian bootstrap. You see, I have no need to go around calling things false/impossible. Many atheists, on the other hand, really do seem to have a need to do that. I find this curious, because much of it does not seem to serve a truth-seeking purpose.

              Flight, invincibility, magic. Kinda sounds superman-ish to me. He *knew*, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that such things were eventualities after his “demise”.

              Why does certain knowledge matter? I could guess, but I think it’d be better for you to take a whack at it, first.

              But really, do you wanna go here again?

              Given how you dismissed The Literary Mind: the Origins of Thought and Language, written by cognitive scientist and linguist Mark Turner, no, I don’t want to “go here again”.

            • Void Walker

              “How does ‘A’ make pain and suffering not hurt?”

              for the third (or is it fourth?) time, I *never* said pain was not in the equation. I said that, knowing his nature as God incarnate, that suffering would be shirked off like beads of sweat. As I stated above, I’d be hard pressed to find ANYONE who *wouldn’t* suffer a few hours of cross-torture-porn if it meant eternal life and super powers.

              “Honestly, this seems like an atheist version of “God said it, I believe it, that settles it.” Somehow, the mere utterance of ‘God’ makes your point valid. No, it doesn’t. Could you perhaps make a more articulate point out of this particular tangent? I don’t see how we’re going to progress much further without one.”

              That first bit made me laugh. You clearly cannot understand what I’m getting at, which is really annoying, as I’ve been hammering it in for the better part of a day.

              Let me break it down for you.

              God comes down to earth, as a man, his own son, but also himself (logic at it’s finest, that). His purpose for doing so is to sacrifice himself, *to himself* (there’s that logic again…) to atone for the actions of our great, great, great (…) grandfather/grandmother. In order to do this, he must (gasp!) suffer a painful, relatively slow death via crucifixion, all the while knowing that He is God, and that shortly after his “sacrifice” he will be invincible, immortal, and blessed with uncanny powers that shatter the laws of physics (as well as common sense!). So, you cannot really consider his actions a sacrifice, by any measure. He already knew the outcome, knew full-well that such pain/suffering/death would be FAR from final. On the contrary, it would be just the beginning. Are you catching what I’m throwing yet? Cuz frankly, Luke, my arm is getting tired.

              1: Seriously? Uhm….hmm.

              Give me several (peer reviewed! You are quite the fan after all) examples of genuine, biblical miracles transpiring. I mean, NT shit. Demons, the blind being healed, the endless generation of fish and bread from a basket. You know, things we could actually falsify? With science?

              2:

              “You’ve looked into local floods in the ANE, right? Simply switch ‘world’ → ‘known world’ and are the flood bits that terrible, when read in spacetime context?”

              Yes, I have. what are you even trying to say here?

              “As to “what is real and what is myth”, I’m more concerned with what helps me better navigate reality”

              And believing that God mind-fucked an underage teen, then wandered around the middle east healing people helps you do this….how? Or am I being terse and rude? Do you instead mean that Christs *teachings* help you navigate reality? Elucidate, please.

              “Many atheists, on the other hand, really do seem to have a need to do that. I find this curious, because much of it does not seem to serve a truth-seeking purpose.”

              When so many things are so glaringly false, how can we *not* call people out on them? Is this a crime? If so, guilty as charged, your honor. I’ll take death by electrocution.

              “Given how you dismissed The Literary Mind: the Origins of Thought and Language, written by cognitive scientist and linguist Mark Turner, no, I don’t want to “go here again”.”

              I dismissed it because, as is norm with you, you’re taking one mans conclusion and contorting, twisting, bending it to meet with your own presuppositions. I do this, sometimes, as well. But will you admit that you do, as well? Now, if I’ve misunderstood you, my apologies. But it honestly seems that you’re reaching for some vague vindication of your view of reality.

            • Void Walker

              F.Y.I: my alcoholism got the better of me, so I’m drinking tonight. Be warned that my tone is subject to change, and please don’t take offense when/if it does. You know the game, by now.

            • Luke Breuer

              for the third (or is it fourth?) time, I *never* said pain was not in the equation. I said that, knowing his nature as God incarnate, that suffering would be shirked off like beads of sweat.

              It’s actually pretty hard for me to see your precise, non-vague point. When people typically talk about pain and suffering, the statement “shirked off like beads of sweat” indicates that the pain and suffering are so small as to be pretty close to “not hurt”, which is what I said. It’s not clear why there is an important difference between “not hurt” and “shirked off like beads of sweat”. Do you see an important difference?

              I’m of two minds on your claim of increasing certainty ⇒ easier shirking of pain and suffering. People certainly can build up pain tolerance. It is a bit odd for this to happen merely by certain knowledge, though. Perhaps Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ is incredibly misleading, but it’s hard for me to understand how scourging and crucifixion are anything but horrifically painful. Add onto this the mystery that Jesus carries the world’s sins on his shoulders, and that seems to indicate a tremendous amount of physical suffering. It seems to me that one can have sufficient reason to endure pain and suffering. I’m not sure those neurons fire with any less intensity, though.

              So, you cannot really consider his actions a sacrifice, by any measure. He already knew the outcome, knew full-well that such pain/suffering/death would be FAR from final.

              Please define ‘sacrifice’. By this reasoning, the more certain a Christian is about what Jesus and others say in the NT (not to mention the OT), the less what they do is a “living sacrifice”, per Rom 12:1-2. A pastor friend of mine I just had lunch with noted that “righteousness” in the OT can often be translated as “self-disadvantaging for the benefit of others”. According to your logic, as long as there is a belief of reward in the afterlife, this isn’t ‘sacrifice’, either. Definition 3 over here matches how I have been using the word:

              the surrender or destruction of something prized or desirable for the sake of something considered as having a higher or more pressing claim.

              However, I’m happy to use your set of definitions. I’m generally happy to pick different words whenever you want to use a word in a way differently from how I’m using it—if indeed I’m not actually equivocating, of course.

              Give me several (peer reviewed! You are quite the fan after all) examples of genuine, biblical miracles transpiring.

              How exactly can one have scientific evidence of a miracle? Let me point you to some Karl Popper in The Logic of Scientific Discovery:

              Every experimental physicist knows those surprising and inexplicable apparent ‘effects’ which in his laboratory can perhaps even be reproduced for some time, but which finally disappear without trace. Of course, no physicist would say that in such a case that he had made a scientific discovery (though he might try to rearrange his experiments so as to make the effect reproducible). Indeed the scientifically significant physical effect may be defined as that which can be regularly reproduced by anyone who carries out the appropriate experiment in the way prescribed. No serious physicist would offer for publication, as a scientific discovery, any such ‘occult effect’, as I propose to call it – one for whose reproduction he could give no instructions. The ‘discovery’ would be only too soon rejected as chimerical, simply because attempts to test it would lead to negative results. (It follows that any controversy over the question whether events which are in principle unrepeatable and unique ever do occur cannot be decided by science: it would be a metaphysical controversy.) (23-24)

              The parenthetical at the end is crucial. That being said, you might find the Huffington Post’s 2012-11-05 ‘Presentiment’ Study Suggests People’s Bodies Can ‘Predict Events,’ But Scientists Skeptical. But actual miracles that aren’t repeatable phenomena? How exactly would they pass peer-review?

              If you want we can not talk about this because of my lack of peer-reviewed articles. But many, many discussions can be stopped that way. Choosing which ones to stop that way is a bit of an art form. How much of your life do you really live based on beliefs which are informed by peer-reviewed articles?

              Yes, I have. what are you even trying to say here?

              Are you aware that there were regional floods? Ziggurat is fun reading in that respect.

              And believing that God mind-fucked an underage teen, then wandered around the middle east healing people helps you do this….how? Or am I being terse and rude? Do you instead mean that Christs *teachings* help you navigate reality? Elucidate, please.

              I believe, along with AW Tozer, that a person’s conception of God—or ‘the good’—is the most important aspect of that person. Jesus was a major upset to traditional Jewish understandings of God. Their conceptions of love and power and justice and mercy and grace were pretty messed up when he came on the scene. For details on this, see Otto Borchert’s The Original Jesus. So Jesus is pretty important, here. Your conception of God—whether you believe he exists or not—says a lot about you. For example, those who say that God ought to force people to do this and that and believe this and that likely do this to other human beings. After all, if that’s what God would do, surely it’s ok for me to do it?

              When so many things are so glaringly false, how can we *not* call people out on them?

              It all depends on whether you’re actually trying to enhance the other person’s life (and adjust your strategy when your means does not lead to your end), or elevate yourself by confirming that at least you don’t believe in fairy tales. Most atheists are pretty clearly doing the latter, since their strategy doesn’t accomplish their professed end at all. And, you know, they have science on their side, so they ought to be able to accomplish their ends quite efficiently if those ends are possible.

              I dismissed it because, as is norm with you, you’re taking one mans conclusion and contorting, twisting, bending it to meet with your own presuppositions.

              Oh, this is the “norm” with me? Why, if that is the case, do you communicate with me, Void? If this is actually true, I’d like quotations with links to demonstrate it. If it is false, I want to know why you used the word “norm”. That’s a very strong word. You’re saying that this is the kind of person I am: one who twists the words of other people. That’s a serious accusation.

            • Void Walker

              “It’s actually pretty hard for me to see your precise, non-vague point.”

              Then I give up. I thought it would have been incredibly clear, but apparently not. At least Andy got it (maybe because he’s of a like mind to me?).

              “Please define ‘sacrifice’.”

              I would personally define sacrifice as someone giving much of themselves, selflessly, to another person(s), in order to ensure their well being. Now, by this definition, Jesus *did* sacrifice himself, kinda. It collapses, however, when you realize that, unlike most instances of sacrifice his was nullified by his own Godhood. I’ve explained why this is, you don’t get it, that’s fine.

              “How exactly can one have scientific evidence of a miracle?”

              Easy. Let’s assume that old christy boy was alive and well today, performing his alleged “miracles”. We could set up a test to determine whether or not he was actually making something happen, or if it was a cheap parlor trick. Water into wine, for example. Anyhow, the whole idea of miracles is just absurd. The supernatural intersecting the natural? Think about it. If this were the case, the “super”natural would in fact be entirely natural, as it could be documented and tested.

              “Are you aware that there were regional floods? Ziggurat is fun reading in that respect.”

              Oh yeah, totally. I watched a rad special on the History channel (back when it didn’t suck donkey dick) on that very subject. Fascinating stuff. It makes sense that the locals would have been inspired by such an event.

              “I believe, along with AW Tozer, that a person’s conception of God—or ‘the good’—is the most important aspect of that person.”

              So what of an atheist, then? Since I have no concept of God (short of Him not existing, if you call that a concept), am I devoid of substance and meaning?

              “Oh, this is the “norm” with me? Why, if that is the case, do you communicate with me, Void? If this is actually true, I’d like quotations with links to demonstrate it. If it is false, I want to know why you used the word “norm”. That’s a very strong word. You’re saying that this is the kind of person I am: one who twists the words of other people. That’s a serious accusation.”

              Then why were you citing the study to begin with, if not to prove a point?

            • Luke Breuer

              It collapses, however, when you realize that, unlike most instances of sacrifice his was nullified by his own Godhood.

              Aren’t Christians’ sacrifices nullified if God rewards them, according to their ‘work’, as 1 Cor 3:10-15 indicates? I mean, if all you had to do was be martyred and you got heaven forever, doesn’t that nullify your being martyred? I don’t see how your logic applies to Jesus, but not Christians. Is it truly just ‘certainty’? That just doesn’t seem to capture our entire conversation. You also seem to be holding onto Jesus actually getting power and stuff. And yet, Christian doctrine is that this happens to Christians as well—I pointed you to theosis—did you look it up?

              Anyhow, the whole idea of miracles is just absurd.

              If that paragraph is about as much effort as you’re going to put into understanding miracles, I’d rather not discuss miracles with you. It really seems like you haven’t tried to make sense of them. Haven’t I posted Kenny Pearce’s Leibniz’s theistic case against Humean miracles?

              Oh yeah, totally.

              Then you should be able to make sense of my “‘world’ → ‘known world'”.

              So what of an atheist, then? Since I have no concept of God (short of Him not existing, if you call that a concept), am I devoid of substance and meaning?

              Sigh. Did you not see my note about ‘the good’?

              Then why were you citing the study to begin with, if not to prove a point?

              Stop. Defend your use of “norm”. It doesn’t matter what I was doing in this instance; you used “norm”. Defend it. Or stop wildly throwing around accusations without evidence! This is really frustrating, Void!

            • Void Walker

              “Aren’t Christians’ sacrifices nullified if God rewards them, according to their ‘work’, as 1 Cor 3:10-15 indicates? I mean, if all you had to do was be martyred and you got heaven forever, doesn’t that nullify your being martyred? I don’t see how your logic applies to Jesus, but not Christians.”

              Actually, yes. If the end result of an allegedly “selfless” act is eternal paradise, how can we consider it selfless to begin with? Many “selfless” acts have self principally in mind. As an example, recent studies have shown that the act of giving money/belongings to homeless people nets the brain a burst of dopamine. So basically, hardly a selfless act now is it? In Christs mind, his act would bring about the salvation of man kind. Coupled with that, he would see eternal paradise/unlimited, godlike power, for eternity. How can you call this act selfless at all? Imagine, as an example, realizing that you would gain such things by giving your life for a complete stranger. How could we call your act selfless when you stand to gain so much?

              “If that paragraph is about as much effort as you’re going to put into understanding miracles”

              How much effort would you like? illuminate me.

              “Then you should be able to make sense of my “‘world’ → ‘known world'”.”

              Eh, not really. Jesus referenced fictitious individuals from the Torah. Does that not shroud his very existence in uncertainty? Hell, the entire point of his “sacrifice” was to atone for Adam and Eves actions (two people who kinda didn’t exist). See my point? What if Jesus did not exist, Luke? What if the NT is indeed subject to the same scrutiny that you apply to the OT?

              “Sigh. Did you not see my note about ‘the good’?”

              I did, and your point is?

              “Stop. Defend your use of “norm”. It doesn’t matter what I was doing in this instance; you used “norm”. Defend it. Or stop wildly throwing around accusations without evidence! This is really frustrating, Void!”

              Dude, I didn’t mean to offend you. I also fail to see, in the quoted text, where I even used the word “norm” to begin with. Where did I do so, and more importantly, in what context? EDIT: I see where I used the word. But you seem to be avoiding answering my question. Why did you even use the study you linked me to? Why even bring it up, if not to prove a point; that point being what, exactly? Answer me this and I’ll elucidate my usage of “norm”.

            • Andy_Schueler

              Actually, yes. If the end result of an allegedly “selfless” act is
              eternal paradise, how can we consider it selfless to begin with?

              That is a very good point. To sacrifice something means to give up something that is valuable to you for the benefit of someone else. Given the prospect of eternal blissful existence – what Christians call “heaven” – it seems to be conceptually impossible to “sacrifice” something for someone else. If I devote a substantial amount my time and ressources to help the poor for example, that would be a sacrifice, but only if my time and ressources are actually finite.
              Some christian apologists argue that a non-theistic perspective on life makes life meaningless, because whatever you do, you yourself and everything+everyone dear to you will inevitably come to an end and never come back. To me, the exact opposite seems to be true – eternity makes pretty much everything rather meaningless, certainly the idea of “sacrifice”.

            • Void Walker

              Thanks, Andy. But unfortunately, as the old adage goes, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink”. Perhaps “You can lead a Christian to the truth, but you can’t make him think” is more apt here?

            • Luke Breuer

              Imagine, as an example, realizing that you would gain such things by giving your life for a complete stranger. How could we call your act selfless when you stand to gain so much?

              If there’s something intrinsic to selflessness which contributes to the ‘creation’ of heaven. You will note how most Christians, not to mention most people, rebel against the standard set by Jesus in Mt 20:20-28 and Jn 13:1-20. Putting others before yourself is generally not done. The United States is more like ‘United’ Individualists, these days. Quarterly profits, anyone?

              How much effort would you like?

              I’d like to see the extent of the thinking you’ve done on the matter, and what scholars (or scholarly texts) you have consulted on the matter.

              Eh, not really. Jesus referenced fictitious individuals from the Torah. Does that not shroud his very existence in uncertainty? Hell, the entire point of his “sacrifice” was to atone for Adam and Eves actions (two people who kinda didn’t exist). See my point? What if Jesus did not exist, Luke? What if the NT is indeed subject to the same scrutiny that you apply to the OT?

              No, it does not so shroud. If it did, then the “very existence” of YECs would be shrouded. No. Tristan Vick suggested Van Voorst’s Jesus Outside the New Testament: An Introduction to the Ancient Evidence; I checked it out from my library and it looks decent. If you’re interested in the topic, I suggest reading it, not making weird inferences.

              Adam and Eve’s existence does not matter if the pattern of the myth itself is true: humanity’s continual rebellion against God, humanity’s continual choice of self above others. I think it’s hilarious when atheists and skeptics whine and complain about genocides in the OT, when there are genocides in the world which no rich country wants to risk stopping. You know, a few soldiers might die. See Rwandan Genocide#United States for some sad details. You’d think the Holocaust would be enough to make us want to sacrifice in order to stem future genocides. Well, if you thought that, you’d be wrong. But hey, it’s God’s fault, right? Adam and Eve live on strongly in many people, Void.

              If Jesus did not exist, that leaves a huge gaping hole in explaining how such a character were invented, when Jesus as recorded in the NT is antithetical to (a) the Greeks and Romans; (b) the Jews; (c) Jesus’ disciples. Otto Borchert details this ‘antithetical’ in The Original Jesus. But suppose we deal with these issues. Then you’ve gotta deal with religious experiences, especially those which transform lives radically for the better. Suppose you deal with those. Then you’ve gotta ground ‘good’ and ‘evil’ in some way, or admit that it’s all just really people’s preferences. If you go there, I think we ought to discover what happens when nations go there, in the long term.

              I believe, along with AW Tozer, that a person’s conception of God—or ‘the good’—is the most important aspect of that person.

              So what of an atheist, then? Since I have no concept of God (short of Him not existing, if you call that a concept), am I devoid of substance and meaning?

              Sigh. Did you not see my note about ‘the good’?

              I did, and your point is?

              My point is that you didn’t even properly read what I wrote. You found what seemed like a problem, and stuck with that. I don’t want to continue discussing with you if you’re going to do this, Void.

              Dude, I didn’t mean to offend you. I also fail to see, in the quoted text, where I even used the word “norm” to begin with. Where did I do so, and more importantly, in what context? EDIT: I see where I used the word. But you seem to be avoiding answering my question. Why did you even use the study you linked me to? Why even bring it up, if not to prove a point; that point being what, exactly? Answer me this and I’ll elucidate my usage of “norm”.

              No, I think we’re done. If you cannot defend serious accusations you’ve made of me until I’ve done a dance and jig for you, I’ll find someone else to talk to, or read more books. I put a lot of effort into my comments to you and I don’t see nearly as much effort in return. This has gotten pretty grating.

            • Void Walker

              “If there’s something intrinsic to selflessness which contributes to the ‘creation’ of heaven.”

              This seems rather non sensical. Humanity had no part in the creation of heaven, at all. I fail to see where you’re going with this.

              “I’d like to see the extent of the thinking you’ve done on the matter, and what scholars (or scholarly texts) you have consulted on the matter.”

              Considering that you think we’re “done”, what could be feted from exposing you to the dozen or so links that I have in mind? If you wish to take the time, I’d be happy to provide.

              “Adam and Eve’s existence does not matter if the pattern of the myth itself is true”

              It does matter, actually. A sacrifice build upon the shoulders of a myth is self defeating. Christ never once even hinted at what you’re trying to get at. I doubt Yahweh would have seen urgency in sacrificing himself for a myth, when Christ clearly referenced figures from the OT as though they existed. He never once said “Well, adam and even never existed. But what they represent, now THAT is why I’m gonna go through all this shit.”

              “If Jesus did not exist, that leaves a huge gaping hole in explaining how such a character were invented”

              Actually, no, far from it. I know you harbor disdain for the man, but this seems a fitting time to inject him: http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=richard+carrier+why+id+ont+believe&FORM=VIRE2#view=detail&mid=00951290FB617FA8E4E000951290FB617FA8E4E0 Considering how immensely creative our species is, it’s really not that difficult to imagine such a grand fabrication. Now, I personally lean towards Jesus existing, but I see no good concrete evidence that this was indeed the case. As stated much earlier, I’m agnostic on the issue.

              Still, you did not answer my question. When I asked “what if”, I meant how it would impact *you*, personally. Would you find another faith, or become an atheist? Perhaps a Deist?

              I’m also frankly a little surprised that you pulled out the “religious experience” card. Especially when one considers the breadth of religious experience, so very much of it utterly divorced from, and alien to the Christian variants. Some examples include: tribal trances, Wiccan “oneness” with nature, Nirvana, etc. All of these faiths, and countless others, would be perfectly fine is Christianity didn’t even exist to begin with. Many of them (including Buddhism), actually *influenced* Christianity. Care for some supporting links?

              “My point is that you didn’t even properly read what I wrote.”

              False, I read and grasped it just fine. The problem is that it’s kinda vague. You should perhaps elaborate a bit more, and maybe I should have been less hasty in my interpretation of it.

              “No, I think we’re done. If you cannot defend serious accusations you’ve made of me until I’ve done a dance and jig for you, I’ll find someone else to talk to, or read more books. I put a lot of effort into my comments to you and I don’t see nearly as much effort in return. This has gotten pretty grating.”

              If that’s how you feel, why put such a statement *at the end* of a long comment? This is very odd.

              I prefer being concise when I engage you (as much as I can, anyway). If this bothers you, or if you don’t feel I’m adequately answering your questions, then perhaps you shouldn’t have even responded to me?

            • Luke Breuer

              Tell me if and when you will either:

              (1) defend harsh personal criticisms with a burden of proof
              (2) recant such personal criticisms and explain why they were made

              Until that time, I do not wish to further discuss with you. Why? Because as long as you hold to the following, I have no idea what I have said that you are taking into account when you respond to me, and what you have silently ignored. You have demonstrated before the tendency to silently ignore. I despise that, for it makes communication tremendously hard. To dispel any vagueness, I mean personal criticisms such as:

              VW: as is norm with you, you’re taking one mans conclusion and contorting, twisting, bending it to meet with your own presuppositions.

            • Void Walker

              (1) I already apologized to you for my personal attack. It was rude of me, but I honestly do see a trend with you, in that you find something that could potentially support your views of reality, but never openly admit that you’re using such sources for that purpose. Have I misunderstood you? If so, how?

              (2) This point relates to (1). If my assertion was baseless and absurd, I would expect a few good reasons for why that is the case.

              “You have demonstrated before the tendency to silently ignore. I despise that, for it makes communication tremendously hard.”

              I’m sorry Luke, bit this is wrong. I always read your comments in full, and when I respond I do so to the bits I deem relevant to the discussions we’re having.

              Before you take offense by what I’m about to say, know that I do so because I sincerely wish for lucidity of your position.

              I believe that, sometimes, an argument or piece of evidence makes sense to you, in *your mind*. The issue arises when you attempt to convey the contents of your mind, as it often comes off as vague and confusing. I’m not the only person here who thinks this. Now, as for how I can help you with this, I honestly don’t know. I *want* more clear communications between us, but it’s hard when you’re extracting things from your mind, not modifying them for the person you wish to present them to, and then expecting me, or others, to perfectly understand you.

              Does this make sense to you? As I said, I honestly mean no offense.

            • Luke Breuer

              (1) I already apologized to you for my personal attack. It was rude of me, but I honestly do see a trend with you, in that you find something that could potentially support your views of reality, but never openly admit that you’re using such sources for that purpose. Have I misunderstood you? If so, how?

              (2) This point relates to (1). If my assertion was baseless and absurd, I would expect a few good reasons for why that is the case.

              I took offense not because of a “personal attack”, but due to your refusal to substantiate your criticism. Your (2) is nonsense; you bear the burden of proof, not I. Or, if you want to play “guilty until proven innocent”, I will leave. I do not deny that I have done what you criticize me of doing. But I need help in seeing that I am actually doing what you criticize me of doing. Why will you not provide this help? I’ll direct your own words right back at you:

              I believe that, sometimes, an argument or piece of evidence makes sense to you, in *your mind*. The issue arises when you attempt to convey the contents of your mind, as it often comes off as vague and confusing.

              You’ve done precisely this, with your criticism, from my perspective.

            • Void Walker

              In order to substantiate my critique, I’d need to show you several examples of what I referenced. This would take hours, considering that we’ve exchanged upwards of 800 comments over the last 5 months. I’m up to the task, but it would require that you alter the privacy settings of your profile. Do that, give me some time, and I’d be happy to show you what I’ve meant all along.

              “You’ve done precisely this, with your criticism, from my perspective.”

              You know what? I’ve had an epiphany. You and I kinda suck at communicating, *in general*. We both dealt with isolation, minimal social interactions, etc. I see where you’re coming from in the above comment, and that shows me, quite clearly, that we are shit communicators. Neither of us *mean* for this to happen, but it’s kinda inevitable considering the parallels of our younger years. I believe we’re at something of an impasse, my friend.

            • Luke Breuer

              I’ve altered the privacy settings. I am very interested to see how you will demonstrate a difference between my simply interpreting things—like all humans interpret things—and my “contorting, twisting, bending it to meet with your own presuppositions”. Surely there is a difference? I am fully aware that I interpret, that there is no alternative to seeing through a glass darkly; but if it is the fact that I contort, twist, and bend, I want to see how I do it, in order to attempt to do it less and less. I would be very thankful if you can show me doing this.

            • Void Walker

              Sure thing, Luke. Expect a little time though. I work at 5 tonight, then the morning shift tomorrow. Tomorrow night I’ll get to it. If you’d like, to be more personal, I can email you when I’m done extracting the requisite info?

            • Luke Breuer

              Thanks. Public comment is fine; I’m not ashamed to have my foibles pointed out. Furthermore, it’ll give others, should they care, a chance to see whether or not your case is compelling (that I have done what you have described).

            • Void Walker

              Likewise if I determine that I was wrong to label you thus, I will concede to it.

            • Void Walker

              I’ve been reviewing your comment history, and I believe that our apparent inability to convey each others thoughts may have colored my perception of you in a negative way.

              Instead of seeing numerous instances where you “contorted” various studies to meet with your view of reality, I’ve instead seen little more than interpretations (which is hardly a crime) that disagree with my own. I must apologize for my harsh words earlier, as I can now see they were largely unfounded.

              Honestly, we both really need to hone our ability to convey our thoughts. I think that we both put in an admirable effort to do so, but often fudge things up. Maybe we could help each other out in some way, but maybe (due to our similarities in our younger years) we shall forevermore be at an impasse.

            • Luke Breuer

              Thank you for doing that reviewing; I know such reviewing is arduous, as I have done it myself from time to time! It is very instructive to me that you saw me interpreting what you and Mark Turner said, according to my plausibility framework, as “contorting, twisting, bending it to meet with your own presuppositions”. You see, this is a very common complaint, made both by atheists/skeptics of Christians, and by Christians of atheists/skeptics! I think a good dose of the article Unknowable and incommunicable and the book The Lost Art of Listening.

              I came up with the phrase, “Generating is Knowing”, after one of my favorite Feynman quotes:

              What I cannot create, I cannot understand.

              The idea here is that the ability to properly motivate someone else’s point of view, such that I actually find it compelling when I simulate their premises and guess at their presuppositions, is tremendously difficult to train. Almost all the time, what you hear from the person is not the whole story. And if you inject your presuppositions into the other person’s story, you aren’t truly understanding what they’re trying to communicate! You just aren’t. And yet, most people think they’re communicating properly, including with people very different from them! This is a fallacy of the highest order. Perhaps this puts the following in a new light:

              “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Mt 5:43-48)

              When you communicate with people like you, they share many of your presuppositions, which means that the communication, sans the ability I described above, is pretty decent much of the time. You don’t have to work very hard to understand people who are like you. And yet, don’t we know that very bad things happen when communication breaks down? Politics turns into war. True reward is brought by unification, which incidentally is described gloriously, here:

              In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. (Eph 1:7-10)

              Key here, is that this unity does not absorb all beings into one great being; unity does not mean uniformity. On the other hand, today we have a world of diversity, which is held to in such ways and so strongly that unity is not possible. How can we have a tension between unity and diversity, such that personality is not squashed, but war is not inevitable? I think Christianity alone offers that key. Indeed, the very Trinity itself is three persons, or hypostases, and one substance, or ousia. The alternatives are war, dehumanizing uniformity, or a sociological equivalent of the expansion of space, where eventually galaxies won’t even be able to see each other due to how quickly they are receding from each other. Which brings us to astronomy! Bahahahaha, I did not plan that, at least consciously. :-p

            • Void Walker

              “Which brings us to astronomy! Bahahahaha, I did not plan that, at least consciously. :-p”

              You sure about that? ;-)

              Galaxy formation/evolution is something that’s always intrigued me. Actually (in relation to that), that fact that (relativistically speaking) everything in nature is either in constant motion, or was birthed by gravitational interactions/collisions, etc. has tickled my fancy for many years. I honesty do think that abiogenesis is tenable. We’ve seen, time and time again, that “chaotic” processes can indeed yield orderly, “designed” outcomes (snowflake formation is a nice example of this).

              I’ve gotten a bit off track here, so back to Astronomy. Do you have a favorite topic in it?

            • Luke Breuer

              I find black holes fascinating, especially the firewall idea, Hawking radiation, and black hole electrons. I’m also very interested in the holographic principle, which could have fascinating consequences for thinking about black holes.

            • Void Walker

              It’s kind of creepy to realize that our entire galaxy revolves around a super massive black hole. Part of me has always wondered why the smbh hasn’t devoured us yet…

            • Luke Breuer

              It may be possible to view the expansion of space as what could be observed from the inside of a black hole. See Updated Theory: “A Hidden Universe Could Exist Inside Every Black Hole”, which explains the paper, Cosmology with torsion: An alternative to cosmic inflation. There’s the less informative PopSci Are We Living Inside a Black Hole?, which does however say this interesting tidbit:

              We could tell by measuring the preferred direction of our universe. A spinning black hole would have imparted some spin to the space-time inside it, which would violate a law of symmetry that links space and time. This might explain why neutrinos oscillate between their antimatter and regular-matter states.

              Sean Carroll’s Quintessence and the rest of the world might have some relation to this:

              A popular model for dynamical dark energy is a slowly-rolling scalar field, sometimes called “quintessence.” Scalar-field models are able to reproduce all of the empirical successes of a standard cosmological constant, but introducing dynamics also introduces new ways to constrain such fields. For example, the field can couple directly to standard-model particles, even if only through nonrenormalizable higher-order terms. Such a field would induce a long-range “fifth force”, as well as make the constants of nature appear time-dependent. The absence of such couplings requires additional fine tunings in quintessence models. We can suppress these couplings by introducing an approximate global symmetry; this mechanism leaves open a possible pseudoscalar coupling, which might be detectable in polarization measurements. This turns quintessence into an axion, such as the ones predicted by string theory; see comments by Witten and models by Choi and Kim and Nilles.

              Or maybe these aren’t connected. Not sure about that.

              Oh, also see primordial black hole. To understand the firewall problem, see What’s inside a black hole?

            • Void Walker

              Groovy stuff, man. I especially enjoyed the primordial black hole link, I’d never heard of such a thing. And….I’m out of conversational steam.

            • Luke Breuer

              Are there any topics with which you consider yourself a kind of layman expert? By that, all I really mean is that you can unload quite a few interesting links and say a few things tying the links together. Well, that’s what I do; you’re welcome to do it your own way. What is it you’re actively learning and digging into, these days?

            • Void Walker

              Great question :)

              Lately, kinematics. Motion has always fascinated me. I mean, think about it: every thought that we have is essentially the movement of energy (electrical) from one part of the brain to the next (which is clearly a gross oversimplification). The constituents of all matter are moving; electrons in a decidedly less conventional manner (more like a cloud than individual bodies orbiting a central mass). Even in a solid, the protons and neutrons are moving about, and the whole atom is vibrating. Motion, in a sense, is ubiquitous. Some other fine examples: solar systems, galaxies, super clusters. Hell, I wouldn’t be here right now were it not for a particular type of motion (eew. Images of my parents…). So, yeah.

              Link time!

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galaxy_rotation_curve Fascinating insights into the manner in which galaxies rotate

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motion_(physics) This article breaks down motion, in all its many forms

              http://www.slate.com/blogs/bad_astronomy/2014/03/25/galactic_rotation_astronomers_use_hubble_to_measure_stars_motions.html Awesome observational evidence of galactic spin

              So yeah. I’m a motion freak. I dig it, yo.

            • Luke Breuer

              I raise your galaxy rotation curve with density wave theory—check the three different animations!

              With respect to Motion (physics), what are some of the specific things you find cool? You mentioned the motion of protons and neutrons and such, but can you say more? Let’s tease out of your intuition what it is that you’re focusing on, that maybe other people aren’t seeing. :-) There are a lot of arrogant dumbass reductionists out there, who would call your observations ‘trivial’ or ‘stupid’; I wish to not do that, but instead try to enhance whatever it is that you’re keying in on. If you want, of course!

              I’m not sure I have too many thoughts on this particular topic. I suppose I find vortices intriguing, as a kind of motion. :-)

            • Void Walker

              Before I delve into the deep and dirty, what, in your mind, would these reductionists say to my previous comment? At the most fundamental level, virtually everything is either in motion (relativistically speaking, of course) or was birthed by it (collisions, attraction, etc). I’m curious how a reductionist would find my remarks trivial or stupid.

            • Luke Breuer

              A while ago, I was part of a conversation about the Big Bang singularity. Some models have it starting from a point. One member of the conversation was asking if it were ‘just’ a point. The other thought this was a dumb question. As it turned out, that ‘point’ was likely a complex manifold which merely had no metric, such that it didn’t have dimension, such that one could meaningfully call it a ‘point’. But, as it turns out, points can have structure! See, for example, black hole electrons. The person who was asking whether it was “just a point” was actually asking a very deep question. The other person was disrespecting this question, as if it were dumb.

              Does this make sense?

            • Void Walker

              Ah, yes. It does :)

              Gotta work a long-ass shift today but when I get back I plan on delving into motion, and what I’m ultimately getting at, in great detail. I feel that I’ve been a little vague :-/

            • Luke Breuer

              Actually, re: this vagueness, I model it as a subconscious defense against potential asshattery. :-p

            • Void Walker

              Oh irony…I don’t know what you mean, and perceive this apparent joke as vague…. ;-)

            • Luke Breuer

              One way to view intuitive conceptions is as very delicate quantum states, which, if probed violently by some asshat who thinks he knows everything, can be obliterated. It’s possible to “discourage ideas out of existence”, not because the idea is 100% wrong, but because it had something wrong. Certain people just love destroying ideas. It’s like they get a kind of energy out of causing death and destroying the precious offerings that other minds have produced. It’s just evil. Such people are bringers of death instead of enhancers of life.

            • Void Walker

              I see where you’re coming from now. Another issue with what I said in my comment is that all forms of motion have causes behind them, so one could say that I’ve over-simplified. This is why I plan on elaborating later tonight.

            • Luke Breuer

              Have you come across Leibniz’s Monadology? Kenneth Pearce, a friend of mine, recently wrote Leibniz on Phenomenalism, Mechanism, and the Great Chain of Being, in which he articulates it a bit. One way to view this ‘Monadology’ is that it’s “turtles all the way down”, with the ‘monad’ being the ostensible “bottom turtle”, although we never have direct access to it. Instead, we just dig more and more deeply: atom → nucleon → quark → ??? (see structural realism). Maybe it’s quark → … → monad, where that ‘…’ is an infinite sequence.

              Anyhow, if we say that monads are the ultimate sources of causality, interesting consequences might flow out. Maybe part of consciousness is exerting control further and further toward monads. Maybe consciousness can expand not only out into spacetime, but downward (past quarks) as well as upward (to more and more complex emergent systems). This is one reason LFW intrigues me (I can explain more if you’d like, but that horse might still be dead).

            • Void Walker

              “(I can explain more if you’d like, but that horse might still be dead).”

              We clearly disagree, but we aren’t debating now :-p We’re in discussion mode, level 4. Feel free to dig into it, I’m not offering a critique at this point, just enjoying our discussion.

            • Void Walker

              Also, thanks for the links. It could easily be argued that, even at the smallest conceivable point in matter, interaction/motion is still integral (honestly, this kinda goes without saying). While motion is, principally, quite simple, and one must take into account causation, there’s no denying it’s impact, importance, and prevalence. I.E, even something that is considerably less complex than it’s “peers” (other physical laws, universal contants); a sum of many parts, it can still play a near God-like role in the universe. That is a preview of tonight (assuming I can get around to it!).

            • Void Walker

              I’m as tired as a yo momma joke, so I can’t be in depth as I’d anticipated. Remind me via email to expound.

            • Void Walker

              Lets begin with the big bang: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Bang There is overwhelming evidence for cosmic inflation, as you well know. To start, the expansion of space is hardly motion in a traditional sense, but rather is a change in the very nature of space itself. As the universe expands, however, it carries all matter (most of which clumped into galaxies) with it, at an alarmingly fast rate. So, the cause of the galaxies motion is the expansion of space. The galaxies would be incapable of moving were it not for said expansion. http://www.universeadventure.org/big_bang/expand-galaxy.htm

              Moving down just a bit, we have individual galaxies themselves. http://www.universetoday.com/30710/galaxy-rotation/ which rotate in a manner not dissimilar to the orbit of our planets around the sun.

              A bit smaller still, we have the aforementioned motion of celestial bodies around stars (moons, asteroids, planets); most, if not all of which, are themselves rotating (including stars).

              Smaller still, we have the atom, and it’s many (perhaps infinite?) constituents. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atom As noted prior, electrons do indeed move, but not in the traditional orbital patterns previously assumed. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100811085234.htm They exist in a cloud-like fashion, as their “orbits” are so incredibly rapid that we cannot discern them, individually.

              I could go even smaller still, but it’s time to move on (giggle) to my point. Try to imagine a world in which nothing moved, at all. Your heart did not contract to pump blood through your veins, your brain was not a hot bed of electrical activity, the earth did not rotate, the sun did not act as a high-volume energy factory. Causes aside, in a truly static universe (meaning *everything* would be so), nothing could even exist. It seems that space and motion go hand in hand, as gravity is created via the bending *of* space, which in turn creates attractions, which in turn move mass about (energy as well).

              There…I think I’ve properly elaborated. I could go a bit more in depth here, but I believe you see my point. Do you?

            • Luke Breuer

              To start, the expansion of space is hardly motion in a traditional sense, but rather is a change in the very nature of space itself.

              Ummmm… question. We understand how galaxies can be moving apart from each other due to the expansion of space (unless it’s actually shrinking). But what about atoms? If space is expanding there, will that have any important impact? Could it, for example, somehow destabilize them? It’d probably do this by the smallest perturbations, but might these get amplified somehow?

              They exist in a cloud-like fashion, as their “orbits” are so incredibly rapid that we cannot discern them, individually.

              Actually, they may not even be orbiting. The ancients (or some ancients) thought that the stars were embedded in crystalline spheres. There’s something very real about a particle’s wavefunction—the crystalline sphere, at least for s orbitals. The Thinker likes to say that “waves have own out”, but I don’t buy that. There will always be particulars, bound by universals. If there is a particle orbiting, I think we need to think of the orbit itself as more ‘real’ than we are wont to do. At least, we ought to do this if we want to further understand how reality ticks. :-)

              A final point: if we were to find some object(s) in the universe that were not, in any sense, “moving”, we would be most safe to assume that motion, in some form (collision, for instance) birthed the object in question. So you see, it is rather inescapable.

              Well hello, Heraclitus!

              Causes aside, in a truly static universe (meaning *everything* would be so), nothing could even exist.

              Wait a second, what about the unchanging block universe? You might spend a bit of time looking at invariant (physics). It seems like there’s always a perspective which can be taken which eliminates motion. That might be worth thinking about.

              I could go a bit more in depth here,

              It’s very interesting to me, so go as deeply as you’d like!

            • Void Walker

              Thank you….you did exactly as I wanted :) I’ll email you later and explain what I mean, but well done.

            • Luke Breuer

              That’s an enigmatic response. I look forward to the email!

              P.S. I made a typo:

              The Thinker likes to say that “waves have own out”

                                          ↓                                ↓

              The Thinker likes to say that “waves have won out”

            • Andy_Schueler

              Especially when one considers the breadth of religious experience, so
              very much of it utterly divorced from, and alien to the Christian
              variants. Some examples include: tribal trances, Wiccan “oneness” with
              nature, Nirvana, etc.

              I´d go even beyond that, because I think that the vast majority of religious experiences are simply being mislabelled – there is nothing “religious” about a sense of wonder, awe, bliss, contentness etc.pp. per se. These experiences can arise within a religious context but religious beliefs are not required for them at all. The same for experiences of “healing” when people stop smoking, gambling, drinking, whatever – it happens to religious people and it happens to non-religious people.
              There seem to be some experiences that almost exclusively occur in a religious context, the “born-again experience” would be an example, but that is not linked to any particular religion (the experiences that Scientology converts describe are completely indistinguishable from those that fundie xtians give) and can be induced with drugs.

            • Void Walker

              You make a good point, Andy. I’ve dropped acid before, actually, right around the time that I lost my faith. Through it I found a deeper sense of awe than I’d ever gotten from my faith. I saw some truly wondrous things…

              At any rate, I always find it puzzling when people of any given faith use “religious experience”. The malleability of such an experience should in itself refute the claims of those who use it evidentially, but they always manage to brush such things under the rug (along with common sense and logic).

              Sometimes I honestly feel as though I’m wasting my time discussing pretty much anything with the religious. Do you ever feel that way?

            • Andy_Schueler

              Sometimes I honestly feel as though I’m wasting my time discussing
              pretty much anything with the religious. Do you ever feel that way?

              Yeah, sometimes, but rarely. The majority of online discussions I had with religious people revolved around evolution / creationism, this was also the reason for why I started becoming involved in atheist / skeptic communities in the first place. But this is an issue that I rarely discuss nowadays and which started feeling somewhat pointless to me, but I guess that´s mostly because I just got sick and tired of addressing the exact same arguments over and over and over and over again… So now I mostly discuss other issues. It can also feel pointless if you feel that you made some progress in a discussion but then you realize that your interlocutor simply repeats the arguments he started with completely unchanged – as if the discussionso far never even happened – if that happens repeatedly, it is an honest signal that you are wasting your time with this person. Another reason for why it can feel pointless sometimes is if you are making it all about changing someone´s mind and / or “winning” a debate – it doesn´t have to be, the best outcome of a discussion is that everyone involved has learned something and understand the other person better than before.

            • Void Walker

              I think the primary reason that I’ve ever felt I was wasting my time would be when I present very rational arguments, only to receive obfuscation and unrelated rants in reply. This has happened with many, many theists I’ve engaged. (cough) Rausers blog…(hack)

            • Andy_Schueler

              I can think of some truly admirable instances where a person sacrificed themselves for someone, with no hope/possibility of resurrection. They suffered more than Jesus did, but weren’t turned into superman after. In this light, jesus really didn’t suffer that much, at all. Far from it.

              A fine example actually occurred in a nearby town called Powell. There was a fire in a barn, and a teenage boy was trapped inside of it. The boys father, desperate to save him, crawled through fire and wreckage, then covered his son up. The boy survived, the father died *one week* later; his body so horribly disfigured by the flames molestation that he could not be recognized. Was the father magicked back into being? No. Did he suffer? More than you or I can imagine.

              Also, the example you give here is a genuine case of someone sacrificing something (his health and eventually his life) for someone else. The crucifixion doesn´t involve something like that at all – the crucifixion only involves punishment, someone being punished for something that someone else did.

              As an analogy – if my grandfather would have been a Nazi and he would have had denunciated his neighbor as a traitor so that he can get his neighbors land after his execution, and I would have inherited this immorally aquired land from my grandfather, then I could try to find the living relatives of my grandfather´s neighbor and return the land to them – that would actually help someone. I could also offer them the opportunity to torture and kill me as retribution for my grandfather´s crimes, which would also be a “sacrifice” in some sense, but one that literally could not be any more pointless and stupid.

            • Void Walker

              You know what really shocks me? That I used to cohere these clearly contradictory, irrational beliefs in my mind. They used to make so much sense to me. When I lost my faith, the structures holding it together collapsed so quickly I scarcely had time to notice. I was in shock, I guess. Depressing times. But ultimately, I’d rather see the nature of reality for what it truly is than hide behind a brick wall of ignorance and denial. The latter may be more cathartic, but it’s obfuscation of reality really fucks your mind up.

            • Luke Breuer

              You may enjoy Tiffany Clark’s How the Story Goes. The connection to ‘story’ is quite apropos to our other conversation. :-)

      • Nerdsamwich

        Our current egalitarian system is based on the highly individualistic(and pre-Christian) Norse legal tradition. Major decisions were made at the yearly Allthing. Every town sent three representatives: one for the men, one for the women, one for the thralls. Each representative had a voice in their government. Not even a powerful and popular king like Harald Bluetooth had the right to deprive anyone of that voice. That’s right, pre-Christian Norse slaves had significantly more rights than the pious French peasants of the Rennaisance. This idea that not even the king is above the law found its way to England through the Saxon and Norman conquests, and was later enshrined in the Magna Carta, which is the foundation of English Common law, and thence the Constitution of the United States. By contrast, the Bible supports the divine right of kings and its attendant abuses.

        • Luke Breuer

          By contrast, the Bible supports the divine right of kings and its attendant abuses.

          Hmmm, let’s look at sociologist Peter Berger’s A Far Glory:

          There turned out to be enormous ethical implications to this proto-individuation. It is very clearly expressed in the dramatic confrontation between King David and the prophet Nathan recounted in the twelfth chapter of the Second Book of Samuel. David had caused the murder of Bathsheba’s husband in order to incorporate her in his harem—a perfectly acceptable expression of royal prerogative in terms of oriental conceptions of kingship. After Nathan cleverly leads David to condemn a man who shows no pity in destroying what another man loves, the prophet tells David that he is just such a man—”You are the man.” This sentence sovereignly ignores all the communal legitimations of kingship in the ancient Near East. Indeed, it ignores all the social constructions of the self as understood at that time. It passes normative judgment on David the man—a naked man, a man divested of all the trappings of a community, a man alone. I believe that this view of the relation between God and man, and therefore among men, continues to be normative for a Christian understanding of the human condition. (99-100)

          Yep, a king under Yahweh was subject to the same parable as any other person. No special rights, no special privileges. No raping, no murdering. As to this “divine right of kings”, how would you say Mt 20:20-28 and Jn 13:1-20 fit in? I’d like to hear your thoughts on that matter.

          • Nerdsamwich

            Might I rebut with more scripture?
            “And he [Jesus] said unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar’s, and unto God the things which be God’s.”
            (Luke 20:25)
            “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.” (I Peter 2.13-14)
            “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation” (Romans 13,1-2)
            In France, to keep picking on the kid with the pimples, the doctrine was extended so far that the king was deemed incapable of sin. For instance, a king, or even his chosen representative, the local lord, could freely fornicate with peasant women, and be free of the venial sin. Not so for the woman. She was still guilty, even though she had no power to refuse. All this was official doctrine, taught by the church, supported with Scripture.

            • Luke Breuer

              I would like you to actually engage the two texts I cited: Mt 20:20-28 and Jn 13:1-20. Are you unwilling to do this? It’s as if you just completely ignored my recent comment. You completely ignored that King David was held guilty for rape and murder—something that was completely allowable for kings to do in the ANE. Why did you ignore it?

            • Nerdsamwich

              I didn’t ignore it. David was held accountable by his superior, YHWH. None of his subjects, presumably, had the authority to do so. The example is irrelevant. In my response to your Gospel examples, I gave counterexamples, and then placed them in the historical context to which I referred earlier. The actual advice contained in your bits is kind of a mixed bag, if you try to take it as leadership advice. On the one hand, visibly caring for those under you is leadership 101. On the other hand, personally, doing all of your underlings physical favors leaves you little time to lead. As for the hereafter, it’s not really all that altruistic to serve others for a few years now in exchange for infinite reward in the next life, is it?

            • Luke Breuer

              The actual advice contained in your bits is kind of a mixed bag, if you try to take it as leadership advice. On the one hand, visibly caring for those under you is leadership 101. On the other hand, personally, doing all of your underlings physical favors leaves you little time to lead.

              … wow. That is the most incredible interpretation of Mt 20:20-28 and Jn 13:1-20 I’ve ever heard. You took Jesus’ attempts to invert the order of things—an attempt which included:

              Peter: “Lord, do you wash my feet?”
              Jesus: “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.”
              Peter: “You shall never wash my feet.”
              Jesus: “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.”

              And you converted that, to: “doing all of your underlings physical favors”. That’s just incredible. I’m left fairly speechless. If this is how you interpret the Bible, I’m not sure we have much more to say to each other. It seems that the Bible is just a thin veneer on what you want to believe about is and ought.

            • Nerdsamwich

              “It seems that the Bible is just a thin veneer on what you want to believe about is and ought.”
              This is completely incorrect. I think it’s useless trash, good only for possibly gaining an insight into the minds of those deluded enough to take it seriously. It fails as literature, philosophy, ethics, and practical life advice. It’s a bad book. Like most bad books, it has its moments, but you can even say that about Twilight. This might help you to see where I’m coming from: As mystified as you are that I can fail to revere a book that contains bits like those you quoted above, I’m equally mystified that you can be so taken a volume that contains such horrors as 2 Kings 2:23-24. Or really pretty much all of Kings. Or Judges. Or Leviticus, Exodus, Deuteronomy, Numbers. For me, any tiny bright spots are overwhelmed by the vast and terrible gulfs between. And it’s not like this book has a monopoly on the few things it managed to get even partially right.
              PS: Isn’t forcing people to let you bathe them just a little bit creepy?

            • Luke Breuer

              I think it’s useless trash, good only for possibly gaining an insight into the minds of those deluded enough to take it seriously.

              This:

              “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

              As mystified as you are

              I’m not mystified.

              I’m equally mystified that you can be so taken a volume that contains such horrors as 2 Kings 2:23-24.

              I don’t need something to appear 100% good in order to extract from it as much wisdom and knowledge as I can. I do this thing whereby I try and find the most beautiful/excellent/true interpretation I can, of a text or a person[‘s arguments]. You have shown zero evidence of being able to do this. Instead, you excel at finding the most ugly/terrible/false. Kind of like the Accuser, ha-Satan.

              Or really pretty much all of Kings. Or Judges. Or Leviticus, Exodus, Deuteronomy, Numbers.

              Can you well-explain the results of experiments like the Milgram experiment, Stanford prison experiment, and The Third Wave? I would claim that the books you’ve listed give crucial insight into human nature, insights without which we build terrible political theories which result in unconscionable amounts of pain, suffering, and death.

              PS: Isn’t forcing people to let you bathe them just a little bit creepy?

              I don’t consider washing someone’s gross, dirty feet before entering a home to be ‘creepy’. Your use of ‘bathe’ makes me think you want to give Peter’s second response in Jn 13:6-10: “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Even that seems to fall short of “let you bathe them”. So how, precisely, did you get “bathe them” from the text? Did you even read the text?

            • Nerdsamwich

              Of course I read it. I was being humorous. On the other hand, If someone can’t wash their own damn feet, maybe they aren’t physically up to the task of walking hither and yon all over the desert.
              “I don’t need something to appear 100% good…” How about mostly good? Even an even split would be a big improvement. Even then, why would you base your worldview and, especially, moral code on a text that’s half evil? Don’t forget that that’s a hypothetical, because half evil would be an improvement. Why not go for the best you can find?
              “Kind of like the Accuser, ha-Satan.” I see what you did there. Of course, I don’t see that as an insult. Ha-Satan was a valuable and trusted member of the team. You can’t fix a problem if you don’t know what’s wrong. Didn’t you say that you work in programming? How far would you get if no one debugged their code?

            • Luke Breuer

              I think we’re done. Thank you for the discussion.

            • Nerdsamwich

              Reply, Part Deux: Did you just ignore that I commented on your text at more than one level? The part you freaked out about was a critique of the text *as practical leadership advice*. Also, how is it relevant to the discussion on the divine right of kings? Except, tangentially, as a bit that kind of touches on the topic of leadership.

            • Luke Breuer

              It is important because there is a world of difference between leaders lording it over their subordinates, and leaders serving the needs of those ‘under’ them. Can you not see this difference? How much high-level leadership do you even know about in the world? Do you understand the import of articles like The Techtopus: How Silicon Valley’s most celebrated CEOs conspired to drive down 100,000 tech engineers’ wages? Do you have any idea of the typical relationship between professor and grad student in research students around the world?

              World’s Way: the weaker are servants of the stronger
              Jesus’ Way: the stronger are servants of the weaker

              The world’s way elevates those with more and pushes down those with less. Jesus’ way elevates those with less via those with more voluntarily giving of their plenty to those in need. These are radically different ways to live. How can you not see this?

            • Nerdsamwich

              There are tribal societies all over the world where you gain status by giving away your wealth to everyone else. That makes “Jesus’ Way” hardly unique. It just means modern society is far too influenced by the feudal paradigm wherein a man’s labor belongs not to him, but to some lord who contributes nothing to the creation of value beyond having previously obtained control of the means of production. A paradigm, I might add, rooted in a form of government that was supported by Scripture and Church for over a thousand years.

            • Luke Breuer

              I’m about done discussing this; I feel like you aren’t taking my points seriously enough and I wouldn’t be surprised if you feel the same about me. What I would love to do is connect with you ten years down the line, to see how each of us has applied his philosophy to the world. The person who better understands how the world actually works ought to be in a better position to change how it works, right? Ceteris paribus, of course.

            • Nerdsamwich

              You realize that I largely agreed with your point, just not on it being an idea unique to the teachings of Jesus, right?

            • Luke Breuer

              It’s not at all clear that we agree “largely”, because in most of reality, I see the World’s Way being followed, as I described. I have no problem with there being inspiration from e.g. Norse legal tradition. Indeed, I think things started going downhill when The Way got in bed with Caesar, all the way back in the Fourth Century. It’s as if Christianity, ever after, except for pockets of exceptional belief here and there, has been bastardized ever since.

              I actually think that there are aspects to Western Civilization which are incredibly poisonous—such as the World’s Way, which I believe leads both to radical individualism as well as radical communitarianism. Christianity claims to hold a tension between the two—see Eccl 7:15-18—or at least, it can, if people actually trust the truth-claims in the Bible by acting on them.

              Did you see Jonathan’s Why I am going on strike, as well as the following comments?

              LB: You realize this is all designed to create a two-tiered society, right? Give the masses shitty education and send the rich kids and really smart poor kids to private schools. It’s happening in the US, too.

              JP: Ha! We might just agree on something there…

              LB: :-) Now, how do we fight this, effectively?

              Do you really think that the US and UK are experiencing anything but temporary, unstable progress which could easily be sent back to the feudalistic era via disparity in education, alone? There will be the highly educated taskmasters and the poorly educated slaves. Why is this happening? Well, I’d propose that it is due to following the World’s Way instead of Jesus’ Way. And yet, you don’t even appear to see a big difference between the two! You just make dismissive comments, as if the difference is no big deal, as if Jesus’ Way is merely another way of gaining status, per the mythology/dogma of psychological egoism.

              I am not at all convinced that we have any agreement except at the very surface, with such vastly different underpinnings that the term ‘lookalike’ is more apt. You sound very Marxist, despite the great failures or Marxism. I suggest checking out sociologist Peter Berger’s Facing Up to Modernity, and in particular the chapter, “The Myth of Socialism”:

              Furthermore, the affinity between intellectuals and socialism is clearly more than a matter of rational arguments. It is suffused with values, with moral passion, in many cases with profoundly religious hope—in sum, with precisely those characteristics which permit speaking of a socialist myth (in a descriptive, nonpejorative sense.) (58)

              The socialist myth promises the fulfillment of both the rational dreams of the Enlightenment and the manifold aspirations of those to whom the Enlightenment has been an alienating experience. Such a promise inevitably grates against its imperfect realization in empirical reality, frustrating and often enraging its believers. This is nothing new in the long history of eschatologies, which is inevitably a history of the psychology of disappointment. (62-63)

              I’d also suggest reading some Alasdair MacIntyre, who flirted long with Marxism before rejecting it as untenable. He wrote a book called Marxism and Christianity, with description:

              This volume explores the common ground between Marxism and Christianity. It argues that Marxism shares in good measure both the content and functions of Christianity and does so because it inherits it from Christianity. It details the religious attitudes and modes of belief that appear in Marxism as it developed historically from the philosophies of Hegel and Feuerbach, and as it has been carried on by its latter-day interpreters from Rosa Luxemberg and Trotsky to Kautsky and Lukacs. It sets out to show that Marxism, no less than Christianity, is subject to the historical relativity that affects all ideologies. This new edition has been updated to take account of the collapse of Communism in the former Eastern bloc and whether Marxism, in particular, is still relevant to those who seek a changed social order today.

              Marxism made false assumptions about the nature of humans. Don’t repeat the mistake?

            • Nerdsamwich

              Marx made an excellent diagnosis, but was a sadly deficient clinician. Unfortunately, pure free-market libertarianism is equally naive. What it all boils down to is that the tribal instinct that largely governs our social interactions is insufficient for the size of our society. The diagnosis is the easy part. The prescription? If I knew, we all would, and we wouldn’t be in this mess.

            • Luke Breuer

              It’s almost as if neither radical individualism nor radical collectivism is the answer. But how to avoid both? Maybe switching from World’s WayJesus’ Way would do it. Except you seem to think the two aren’t very different; you’ve trivialized both.

          • josh

            The idea of divine punishment for kings who overstep their bounds is certainly not unique to Judaism, much less Christianity. I’m trying to think of a culture that doesn’t have such stories and coming up blank. Note however that David is still considered the paragon of Jewish kingship and the Gospel authors wished to put Jesus in David’s lineage.

            The Christian understanding, at least until recently when Enlightenment thinkers forced them to change, was that kings had divinely ordained prerogatives on earth. They were subject to God’s judgment (again, nothing new here) but just as they could not judge God, their subjects could not judge them. C.f. the Book of Job for the Yahwist picture of authority. God can do anything to you, not because you deserve it or not, not because he is just, but because he has unquestionable authority.

            • Luke Breuer

              And yet Jesus’ example of how to use power and authority is illustrated in Mt 20:20-28 and Jn 13:1-20. How do you reconcile those passages with what you’ve said? So far, you seem to have ignored them. My guess is that they are utterly antithetical to your point, unless you attempt to trivialize them somehow, as Nerdsamwich so masterfully did.

            • josh

              I can’t trivialize what is already trivial. Both the new testament and the bible generally are full of conflicting messages and incoherent passages. This is to be expected from a collection of writings from many different people pursuing their own agendas, especially when they are religious zealots and not systematic thinkers to start with. There is nothing to reconcile once you accept this. It’s like taking all the stories of Robin Hood and trying to figure out why he is more generous in some, or roguish in others, or an outlaw, or a nobleman, or happy or dour, etc. If your passages are ‘antithetical’ to my point then mine are antithetical to yours.

              But of course my point is about the historical facts of Christian society, not how you, Luke Breuer, would prefer to ahistorically interpret Christianity. So no, those passages don’t refute my point anymore than one line in the Declaration of Independence refutes the fact that Jefferson owned slaves.

              To discuss those passages: Jesus is, once again, emphasizing himself. He says that no one is clean unless he makes them so, which is pure authoritarian thinking. He says that no one of his disciples is to be greater than him: if he humbles himself then they should not presume to avoid the same humbling activity. Remember, these are his subservient followers, not kings and rulers in their own right. Like other cult leaders, he wants his followers dependent on him. He continually reinforces the idea that they owe him everything and tries to remove any sense of self-worth that doesn’t directly tie to their loyalty to him.

              This also comports with the apocalyptic fervor found in Jesus passages. Expecting an immanent end-times, he often promotes a kind of aescetic abandonment and devotion to ritual purity. Give up your possessions, abandon your families, be more perfect than even the strict Jewish laws and so forth. It’s true that this promotes a kind of worldly egalitarianism in the sense that no one of his followers is to have anything, but obviously it can’t last long beyond his failed apocalypse and historically didn’t.

              What Jesus failed to do was actually undermine the foundations of authoritarianism, because his religion relies on it. He, or his interlocutors, weren’t forward thinking enough to reject the authoritarian scripture or assign people a worth apart from the tyrannical assessment of God. Recall that, ‘Love thy neighbor’, while a nice sentiment, is secondary to grovelling before God. In fact, it is a formula widely used among earthly dictators. Every king exhorts their people to work together as a harmonious whole for the better service of the king. And every emperor tells his people how much they owe him.

            • Luke Breuer

              I can’t trivialize what is already trivial.

              This:

              For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

              The Bible is a Rorschach test. By trivializing it, you’ve shown a trivial self. Or perhaps, what you’ve really trivialized is the hope of unity in diversity, which is precisely what the Trinity is: three hypostases but one ousia. Three people, sharing one substance. You’ve said the Bible shares no substance; it’s just individual persons with no unity other than similar DNA and similar culture. Nothing bigger than DNA and society could possibly link them together, unifying them without squashing out diversity like Communism has been shown to do. Kind of like some want to do in America: force all personal expression into the private sphere, whether sexual activity or religious ‘preference’.

              I’m guessing that E pluribus unum is probably trivial to you as well.

              I beg you to stop making yourself a caricature; the only way to do this is to stop caricaturing others. Try and see beauty and goodness and truth in people, instead of just ugliness and terribleness and falsehood. Try and see how people and ideas could be made better and more beautiful, instead of primarily focusing on the bad. It will make the world a better place, and via a sort of psychological equivalent of Newton’s third law, it’ll make you a better person.

            • josh

              Do you always react this way when people point out problems in your approach? You don’t seem to be any more qualified as a psychologist than you are as an exegete. To whit, It is because I wish the world to be a better place that I won’t let you gloss over the ugliness. The world is a harder place to improve when people like yourself can’t be bothered to rationally analyze it’s problems. People and ideas will be made better by minimizing religion, among other things, in my not-so-humble opinion.

              So, if you will take your own advice: admire the nice things Jesus allegedly said BUT throw out the bad things, which includes all the divinity and worship and supernatural bunkum. Then realize that ‘Jesus’ the historical person probably didn’t say half the things attributed to him and it doesn’t matter because who said something is irrelevant. There is no reason to be stuck trying to fit the words of a semi-mythical zealot into a modern ethical or metaphysical framework. There is no need to make the character Jesus or Kim Jong Il into a perfect person. There is no need to make the Bible or the Iliad into perfect literature. Come back to the real word, flawed though it may be, and maybe look for real improvements.

            • Luke Breuer

              People and ideas will be made better by minimizing religion, among other things, in my not-so-humble opinion.

              What is the reasoning and empirical evidence which undergirds this claim? To possibly counter your position, see the following from The Psychology of Religion, Fourth Edition: An Empirical Approach:

                  Serious defects that often stemmed from antireligious perspectives exist in many early studies of relationships between religion and psychopathology. The more modern view is that religion functions largely as a means of countering rather than contributing to psychopathology, though severe forms of unhealthy religion will probably have serious psychological and perhaps even physical consequences. In most instances, faith buttresses people’s sense of control and self-esteem, offers meanings that oppose anxiety, provides hope, sanctions socially facilitating behavior, enhances personal well-being, and promotes social integration. Probably the most hopeful sign is the increasing recognition by both clinicians and religionists of the potential benefits each group has to contribute. Awareness of the need for a spiritual perspective has opened new and more constructive possibilities for working with mentally disturbed individuals and resolving adaptive issues.
                  A central theme throughout this book is that religion “works” because it offers people meaning and control, and brings them together with like-thinking others who provide social support. This theme is probably nowhere better represented than in the section of this chapter on how people use religious and spiritual resources to cope. Religious beliefs, experiences, and practices appear to constitute a system of meanings that can be applied to virtually every situation a person may encounter. People are loath to rely on chance. Fate and luck are poor referents for understanding, but religion in all its possible manifestations can fill the void of meaninglessness admirably. There is always a place for one’s God—simply watching, guiding, supporting, or actively solving a problem. In other words, when people need to gain a greater measure of control over life events, the deity is there to provide the help they require. (476)

              Thoughts? Oh, I’d also like you to define ‘religion’. For example, the approval of Communism and socialism I cite Peter Berger describing could easily be seen as ‘religion’, from my perspective. But perhaps you have a different definition which works reasonable well. I will offer a caution from Keith Ward’s The Case for Religion:

              One immediate result of such an inquiry [figuring out how modern religious adherents would describe ‘religion’] would surely be to suggest that people are not primarily interested in trying to explain why events happen, and their practice is not primarily intended to make things happen as they wish. The contemporary Christian does not go to church to find out how televisions or transistors work, or to make sure that she gets a good job. Appeal to God is so far from explaining anything that it is more often a puzzle than a clarification. The query, ‘Why does God allow suffering?’ never explains it; it intensifies the problem. So it seems very odd to suggest that the motivation for belief in God is a desire for explanation. Similarly, Christians are usually castigated by preachers for trying to use religion as a means to worldly success. Abandonment to the divine will is more often recommended than attempts to get God to do what one wants. Of course, in prayer people often do ask God to do what they would like to see. But it again seems very odd to suggest that this is the primary reason for their practice, when it is so frequently and vehemently criticized by most Christian teachers as mislocating the primary importance of the adoration of God as being of supreme value. (46)

              I’m not sure whether or not you have a completely false view of what religion is; perhaps the above will ensure we’re more likely to be talking about the same thing (reality).

              So, if you will take your own advice: admire the nice things Jesus allegedly said BUT throw out the bad things, which includes all the divinity and worship and supernatural bunkum.

              I would be fascinated to see you rank the things the Gospels have Jesus saying from 1 to 10 on a scale of ‘niceness’. This is different from the Jesus Seminar folks, who merely voted on how certain they were that he said them. Now, the ranking I just noted is a task probably too onerous for you to do, but perhaps there is a nice approximation handy, or a Monte Carlo version of it you could do?

            • josh

              I realize this is probably difficult for you but please try to focus on and reply to the things I said if you reply at all. Most of the above is tangential and deflective. A Monte Carlo simulation, for instance, has absolutely nothing to do with my personal ranking of Jesus’s alleged sayings, which has nothing to do with the point I was making, nor does the Jesus Seminar have any bearing on it.

            • Luke Breuer

              Then please defend your claim:

              People and ideas will be made better by minimizing religion, among other things, in my not-so-humble opinion.

              That is, after all, the first thing I said in my comment.

            • josh

              “That is, after all, the first thing I said in my comment.”
              And it is also off topic. The conversation was about Biblical authoritarianism and it’s impact, if any, on society, as well as whether it was significantly different from other cultures of the time. You tried to move this from actual Christian historical society to the OT story of David, to a couple of cherry-picked NT passages. I pointed out that the David story is neither unique nor egalitarian as evidenced by David’s place in Jewish hagiography. You complained about reconciling the two. I pointed out that consistency isn’t one of the Bible’s strong points. You responded to this by raving about the trinity, communism, and the national motto. I pointed out that those passages were still situated in a context of authoritarianism and that history bore my interpretation out. You tried to psychoanalyze me, badly, accusing me of ‘only seeing ugliness’. I responded that I was in fact aiming to improve the world and that not ignoring the problems was part of any honest effort to do so. I encouraged you to admire the decent sentiments in Christianity without whitewashing its many ethical failures. Again, instead of responding you focused on tangents about defining religion, how I would rank Jesus’s sayings for niceness, two quotes from books that don’t pertain to the topic, and the things I mentioned before.

              Now, rather than even acknowledging the point you are again trying to dictate that the conversation go in a new direction. It is trivially true that my opinion is that the world would be better with less religion. I’m not going to discuss my reasons for thinking that with you right now because it is a smokescreen on your part and a diversion.

            • Luke Breuer

              Now, rather than even acknowledging the point

              Which point? Yours, or Nerdsamwich’s? And I’m not giving you a free pass to say things like this, without proper justification:

              It is trivially true that my opinion is that the world would be better with less religion.

              It seems that by “trivially” you really mean: “I won’t let this belief be examined.” Well, ok. We all stop somewhere in justification. I think this is a terrible place to stop, but you have made it clear that you care nothing for what I think. So yeah, I guess this conversation is over?

            • josh

              “Which point?” The one that fits in chronologically and logically with the post: your habit of endlessly changing topics and deflecting substantial criticisms.

              “It seems that by “trivially” you really mean:”
              Stop right there. You got it wrong. If you are really confused you can ask for clarification. It is trivially true that my opinion is what I say it is. You do not need any further evidence than my having typed it and having no reason to lie. The entire reason for saying ‘in my opinion’ above was to acknowledge that you might dispute that opinion but that it wasn’t central to the discussion at hand. It still isn’t. I have examined it quite sufficiently, but I’m not going to let you distract from the initial topic. If you want to continue the conversation further, you’ll have to demonstrate that you can discuss in an honest fashion.

            • Luke Breuer

              Please quote the point. And please stop throwing out claims that you have no intention of defending. Else I shall spend my time discussing with others. You blame me for deflecting, but we have both done that. Pots and kettles in this thread!

            • This will get quote of the day, methinks. I like it – good points!

      • Void Walker

        FYI: your comment history is still public, thought you’d wanna know.

        • Luke Breuer

          Thanks; I think I’ll keep it that way for now. I ought not be ashamed of what I’ve written. If people want to cherry-pick from what I’ve said instead of track my evolving beliefs, that says more about them than about me.

    • Andy_Schueler

      What do they imagine is the source of their liberal egalitarianism other
      than the Christian idea of all souls being equal in the eyes of God?

      Dude has apparently never heard of the enlightenment…

      Thank you for the link – yes I don’t dissent from any of that: indeed at
      times Christianity has been anti-science; at others Islam has been a
      haven of learning, the means of transmissioin for Greek thought, the
      fount of science. But it doens’t invalidate my point that enlightenment
      or free inquiry, the basis of science as we know it today,
      notwithstanding its long and varied previous history, flourished in
      specifically Christian polities, and for two principal reasons: the
      separation of powers between Church and State ( render unto Caesar what
      is Caesar’s . . .contrast Islam) and the Christian emphasis on the value
      of truth itself: the one true God, the antecedent of unconditional
      truth as a primary value.

      1. Seperation of church and state thanks to Christianity? Seriously?
      2. “Christian emphasis on the value of truth itself: the one true God”
      Right… Which is of course a totally different idea compared to what Muslims believe about God. No wait…. Nr. 52 of Allah´s 99 names: Al-Haqq (الحق) – The Truth.

    • daasdsad

      There is so much talk about Christianity’s influence on topics, but why do these people also want to insinuate that it must make Christianity true- that Jesus rose from the dead, and that the trinity is true?

      Also, John I just watched the debate with Bart Ehrman and WLC, have you seen it?
      What are your thoughts?

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=FhT4IENSwac

      • I always thought this was a great debate and ehrman did well. Don’t understand how others didn’t think so much. It’s ironic that he is basically arguing Carrier’s Proving History Bayesian thesis, if I remember correctly.