The Raving Theist

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God Squad Review CXXXV

July 25, 2005 | 59 Comments

Is it okay to ask God to grant a wish if it requires hurting or killing someone else? A Squad reader is concerned, asking if it’s permissible to pray for a donor heart, or for an adoption to go through where that might be granted only if the biological mother returned to drugs and alcohol. After several paragraphs of unresponsive drivel (“[p]rayer veterans will tell you that prayer brings peace”) , the Squad comes up with this evasion:

Wishing for a heart transplant is not really wishing that a donor will die, but rather it is a prayer asking: If the person does die, could the family please consider the needs of the gravely ill and offer healthy organs to heal them? Similarly, when a woman addicted to drugs decides to put her baby up for adoption, it’s not always because she wants to return to a life of drug abuse, but rather that she simply cannot raise the baby herself.

Hmm. So all that the patient’s family is doing is asking that God tamper with the brains of the grieving relatives of the potential donor and overcome their will to the point where they agree to give up the heart. I guess that’s reasonable, given that they might have some reservations that their departed loved one might end up lacking the necessary parts to complete his or her bodily resurrection in heaven. But if God is invading people’s bodies anyway to exercise some mind control, why not ask him to simply regrow or heal the existing heart

Comments

59 Responses to “God Squad Review CXXXV”

  1. bighead
    July 25th, 2005 @ 9:59 am

    Why don’t they just ask god to let them get pregnant?

  2. Tom Gilson
    July 25th, 2005 @ 10:28 am

    You misunderstand what prayer is. It’s not about dropping a dollar into the God-slot machine and hoping you’ll get something out of it. It’s about relating to God, seeking his will, learning submission, discovering the joy of who he is and of his wisdom. It’s about seeing him in the answer, whether it’s yes or no. And yes, he does answer–the mystery of it does not exclude the fact of it.

    Without this as foundation, all critiques of prayer are critiquing the wrong thing. You can use the term “prayer” but you’re not talking about the same thing. It’s an argument built on an equivocation.

  3. ocmpoma
    July 25th, 2005 @ 10:50 am

    “[Prayer is] about… learning submission…”

    Yet again, the belittling of humanity that is Christianity.

  4. DamnRight
    July 25th, 2005 @ 10:52 am

    Any answer to prayer requires god to either break his “can’t tamper with man’s free will” rule or simply allow things to work out how they would without his intervention (i.e. just like there was no god).

  5. Vernichten
    July 25th, 2005 @ 11:22 am

    I agree with DamnRight. A prayer is a request for god to alter his will, an impossibility for a “perfect” thing. It’s another problem like “omnipotence”. By definition, an omnipotent thing renders all free will an illusion. Our every decision is then at the sufferance of a perfect, unchanging thing. To entreat such an entity for the the purpose of using its power for your own ends is not only absurdly arrogant for the one praying, but a paradox if that person also believes that his god is perfect, unchanging and omnipotent.

  6. hermesten
    July 25th, 2005 @ 11:52 am

    “Without this as foundation, all critiques of prayer are critiquing the wrong thing. You can use the term “prayer” but you’re not talking about the same thing. It’s an argument built on an equivocation.”

    Instead of accepting your convienent, equivocating, definition, I prefer to use the dictionary, which says a prayer is:

    “1. A reverent petition made to God, a god, or another object of worship. ”

    A petition is:

    “1. A solemn supplication or request to a superior authority; an entreaty.”

    When claims are made as to the efficacy of prayer, we’re told such things as that prayer helps sick people get well. In such a prayer, people ask God to do something, not to answer a question.

    Of all the dumb, childish, and absurd notions of religion, the notion that an all-knowing, all-powerful being, answers prayers, has to be the dumbest, most childish, and most absurd.

  7. Mookie
    July 25th, 2005 @ 12:09 pm

    Dear God,

    Please stop fooling folks into believing that you are real. It makes life on Earth very frustrating for those humans who see that you are just a made-up idea to scare people into submission. We would appreciate it if you would confirm your existence by denying it, and then snuffing yourself out entirely and permanently.

    Thank you.

  8. Jason Malloy
    July 25th, 2005 @ 1:50 pm

    You misunderstand what prayer is. It’s not about dropping a dollar into the God-slot machine and hoping you’ll get something out of it.

    Right, because such a system might provide tangible evidence for or against religious claims. While prayer “defined” as:

    “relating to God, seeking his will, learning submission, discovering the joy of who he is and of his wisdom. It’s about seeing him in the answer, whether it’s yes or no.”

    . . . is indistinguishable from a “God” not really existing. It leaves no evidence allowing you or anyone else to test the claims of your a priori belief system. In reality people of every faith make identical claims about “interior evidence” like prayer, and the claims are all equally unfalsifiable. In a world without “God” prayer would look *exactly* the same.

    But Tom, doesn’t really “get” the whole system of evidence and how inferences are justified, as his blog, chocked full of psuedo-scientific bloviating, attests:

    Here’s Tom on a Creationist rant:

    “Hmmm… one Christian biologist, 10 years ago; that’s a pretty strong case. ID has developed refutable hypotheses since then; and evolution’s own refutability has become rather questionable. Here’s what I mean, as borrowed from J. Budsiszewski: Ask an evolutionist, is there any conceivable finding in nature that could, if it were found, confirm ID and disconfirm evolution to you? If the answer is no, then evolution is not falsifiable in principle, and does not meet the criteria of science. It’s remarkable what things have been done to evolution to save the theory from its own weaknesses. Read the rest of the Scientific American article for a very current set of examples. What is never done (okay, what is almost never done) is to suggest the foundation of [evolutionary] theory might be in real serious trouble.”

    http://www.thinkingchristian.net/C228303755/E20050707155453/index.html

    Prayer hasn’t made you a better person, Tom, but it has helped you become a liar and a kook. Was that God’s will?

  9. TrixieKatt
    July 25th, 2005 @ 5:03 pm

    It’s about seeing him in the answer, whether it’s yes or no.

    Tom, Can you please answer these three questions as specifically and concisely as you can: when a child is kidnapped and his parents pray for his safe return, but he turns up dead anyway, did the parents do a bad job of seeking his will? If they had prayed harder, would it have become clear to them that god

  10. Paradoxx
    July 25th, 2005 @ 5:47 pm

    I love it how fundies keep on switching between claiming that god gave us free-will or that god controls our will. When an atheist asks why god doesnt step in to help billions of starving people in third world nations & saving people’s lives, it all comes down to free-will. But ofcourse all that changes when a christian wants his prayer answered. All you have to do to get someone to follow your religion is tell them what they want to hear. Religion is emotional relativism.

  11. Tim Sweitzer
    July 25th, 2005 @ 5:56 pm

    I’ve always pondered something along these lines myself. Say there is a Christian who was a chain smoker all their life and now at 55 they need a lung transplant or they were a heavy drinker and need a liver transplant. If they are praying that a donor comes through for them, aren’t the basically asking that a perfectly healthy young person with good a good liver or lungs, die so that they can live.

  12. hermesten
    July 25th, 2005 @ 6:25 pm

    “Religion is emotional relativism.”

    Not just emotional relativism: conservative Christians are the biggest moral relativists around; and certainly the big three religions –Chritianity, Judaism, and Islam, all assign different moral interpretations to the same behavior when it is directed against another tribe, than when it is directed against their own tribe.

  13. SMR
    July 25th, 2005 @ 9:51 pm

    My prayer:

    God, please kill all of your followers, they are just dying to meet you.

    Thanks, Me

  14. simbol
    July 26th, 2005 @ 10:42 am

    since god is omniscient, he knows the need
    since god is omnipotent he can fulfill it
    so, prayer is unuseful.
    If after a reasonable time he doesn’t answer, go to the competition, The Devil.
    The Devil is better suited for maintaining he mother on booze and drugs or for causing a car crash with some people killed. He will send you the kidney or the heart you need by DHL. He charges hard (your eternal soul, not less), but you can trick him repenting and confessing timely. I have tried and it works

  15. leon
    July 26th, 2005 @ 10:48 am

    (

  16. Spork Boy
    July 26th, 2005 @ 11:14 am

    While I have been descending towards atheism (or is it ascending), my wife has remained Christian in her beliefs. We just had something happen to us today that me think of this post. We were in some serious need of some money prior to my pay day at the end of the week. She works as a face painter so her jobs come and go at irregular times. This morning she got a call from a friend/fellow face painter who needed her to sub for her today because she’s sick. I so badly want to ask my wife if she prayed for additional work and, if so, whether she thinks god is behind making her friend sick to get it. But since I’m really wanting sex tonight, I’m not sure if I’ll ask her ;-)

  17. GeneralZod
    July 26th, 2005 @ 2:08 pm

    Ask her after sex.

  18. Rufus
    July 26th, 2005 @ 11:30 pm

    Ask her first, then pray for sex.

    Let us know how that works out for you.

  19. DamnRight
    July 27th, 2005 @ 10:13 am

    My favorite (from 1st hand knowledge when I was a Christian)… when someone is deathly sick, they all pray for healing… when the person dies, they claim that that was the ultimate healing… wow, I can have my cake & eat it too…

  20. Tom Gilson
    July 27th, 2005 @ 1:12 pm

    Whew! A lot to answer here. Whoever said interest in religion would decline in modern days (yes, that was before post-modernism) was most emphatically wrong.

    I’m on the road today and I won’t attempt to do all this justice now. Give me a day or so. I may move my response over to my own blog.

  21. leon
    July 27th, 2005 @ 1:47 pm

    I don’t have an interest in religion.

  22. glenstonecottage
    July 27th, 2005 @ 3:22 pm

    You misunderstand what prayer is. It’s not about dropping a dollar into the God-slot machine and hoping you’ll get something out of it.

    You should be talking to the believers about this, Tom, not us.

    On today’s news there was an item had about disgruntled Israeli settlers— angry because they are being ordered out of their West Bank settlements— getting together to pray for — guess what?

    Ariel Sharon’s death!

    If there really is a God, he must spend a lot of time either laughing or crying over all the nutbar shit being done by his fan club!

  23. Jahrta
    July 27th, 2005 @ 3:59 pm

    Tomboy…

    “Whoever said interest in religion would decline in modern days (yes, that was before post-modernism) was most emphatically wrong.”

    I think perhaps what they meant to say was not so much that religion WOULD suffer a decline, but rather it would NEED to if humanity as a whole was ever going to get to that next level in their cultural evolution (yeah i know that’s a buzzword for you, just like “proof” and “evidence”).

  24. malo
    July 27th, 2005 @ 4:55 pm

    I visited Tom Gilson’s Blog. It is very quiet over there at “A Thinking Christian”. I beleive they are all ‘in prayer”.

  25. Judas
    July 27th, 2005 @ 6:59 pm

    Pray, v.: To ask that the laws of the universe be annulled in behalf of a single petitioner confessedly unworthy.

    Ambrose Bierce

  26. rev_holy_fire
    July 27th, 2005 @ 10:45 pm

    JESUS IS THE KING OF KINGS and the LORD OF LORDS.

    JESUS LOVES YOU!!

  27. Barry Poyant
    July 27th, 2005 @ 10:58 pm

    We like the way you think at The Way – would you mind doing a small guest topic?

    ~Barry
    http://stevensway.blogspot.com/

  28. veggiebabe4
    July 28th, 2005 @ 3:45 am

    great post, love your blog

  29. Percy
    July 28th, 2005 @ 2:36 pm

    I think there’s some purposeful misunderstanding in the reviewer’s post. If I understand Christianity correctly, prayer is supposed to be some sort of communication to God. If we follow their idea that God is perfect and omniscient, wouldn’t he be smart enough to know how to interpret their prayers without purposefully killing people or causing people to remain addicted to drugs? With the writer’s arguments, he seems to be subscribing to the idea of God as a “yes” or “no” machine.

    I thought the whole “tamper with the brains” thing was a bit over-the-top as well. If I suggest an idea to a person, am I tampering with their brains? Perhaps this is how God works. Maybe, in the quiet times, when the person is driving, etc, God says to them “Hey, what would happen if you donated your dead relatives organs?” If he just leaves it at that, I see no harm done. Of course, since atheists don’t believe in a God, it seems a little silly for them to postulate how he would act if he did exist, specifically in the acts of prayer and other communication, which they don’t seem to have experienced. From my readings in the Bible, you’re also incorrect about the “people lacking parts for their bodily resurrection”. You see, in Christian faith when you are “resurrected”, you are given a new body. That is to say, what you wish done to the old one in terms of donating organs doesn’t really matter. The writer of the rave also seems to have assumed that the people praying for a donor have not prayed for the person in medical trouble to be healed. Obviously he has not spent much time around followers of Christ, or he would understand the practice of prayer more thoroughly.

    The reviewer also made some key mistakes in their rebuttal of the “drug-addicted mother” scenario. First and foremost, praying for a successful adoption does nothing more than that. You are praying that the mother’s wishes will be fulfilled, which seems a very noble thing to me, even if you’re an atheist. If the baby was not adopted, would that necessarily stop the mother’s addiction? No, it would only complicate her situation. The author is also assuming that the would-be parents are not praying for the drug-addicted mother to overcome her addictions. Even if she were able to overcome her addictions, her living situation and her prior experiences have the serious possibility of creating a troubled home environment. I’m not saying that the drug-addicted mother couldn’t do it, but it would be extremely hard, to the point that the mother might be better off just giving the child off for adoption and then trying to get herself off of drugs. But what if we were to assume that Christians are not fire-breathing psychopathic clones, and we pretend that they do in fact have both the baby and the mother’s best wishes at heart. Would it make sense for them to pray both for a successful adoption and the mother’s recovery from drugs, and to leave it to God to sort it all out? Furthermore, he is destroying his previous criticism of the donor scenario by indirectly suggesting that a prayer for the mother’s addictions to stop would be morally superior to a prayer for a successful adoption. Didn’t he just say something about praying for God to overcome other people’s will? In any event, if the mother has already decided on an adoption, and the parents pray for it to be successful, they are merely praying that the baby will be delivered successfully and will have a chance at a life away from drugs and probable neglect. Seems honorable enough to me.

    I imagine that you don’t want to hear the views of a Christian or Christian sympathizer, but there they are. I would think that if you wanted to find out the truth about a religion such as Christianity, you would seek to learn as much about it as you can. But perhaps that’s just me?

  30. Vernichten
    July 28th, 2005 @ 3:08 pm

    Why not just let god sort it all out without the praying? It’s mental masturbation.
    And it’s a terrible mistake to believe that Atheists don’t know about Christianity, but it’s that kind of closed-minded thinking that keeps people Christians in the first place. Where do you think most Atheists come from, if not from Christians who have realized it’s a delusion?
    Also, if you were to say something persuasive to me that would be one thing, but for an omnipotent god to put a thought into my head, well, that’s exactly what I mean when I say that omnipotence cancels free will.
    And finally, the idea that, since Atheists don’t believe in god they shouldn’t bother to try and understand his followers:

    “Of course, since atheists don’t believe in a God, it seems a little silly for them to postulate how he would act if he did exist, specifically in the acts of prayer and other communication, which they don’t seem to have experienced”

    That’s ridiculous. I don’t believe in Allah either, but I certainly have an interest in what his followers think he’s telling them to do. And you controvert yourself when you mention that interested Atheists should seek to learn as much about it as they can, after saying it’s silly for them to think about god since they don’t believe in him (there’s that closed-mindedness again).
    Come back when you have more than condescending blather to offer.

  31. hermesten
    July 28th, 2005 @ 4:44 pm

    “But what if we were to assume that Christians are not fire-breathing psychopathic clones, and we pretend that they do in fact have both the baby and the mother’s best wishes at heart.”

    Well then, we’d be wrong….though, I for one, and I bet most of the atheists who post on here, don’t assume that Christians are “fire-breathing” (as much as Christians might revel in such an assumption). Realistically, psychopathic is too strong for a generalization, and “clones” is innaccurate. I think delusional drones is probably closer to the mark. As for “best wishes” of baby and mother, yes, we’d have to pretend. In the first place, the baby probably doesn’t have any “wishes,” or at least none that are ascertainable. And it’s not clear to me just how the mother’s “best wishes” could be determined even if she could be asked about them. Then of course, we have to deal with the simple fact that the mother’s “best wishes” might not be in the best interest of the baby.

    Of course, there are Christians who are not drones, and there may be some who, though they can’t determine someone else’s best wishes, have the best interest of the baby and mother at heart; but my experience tells me that they are in the minority –especially if “best interest” conflicts with Christian dogma, or baby and mother belong to an unacceptable tribe.

    Anyway, I find this whole “praying for a successful adoption” dodge of yours rather amusing. Either an adoption will be successful or it won’t. If it is to be successful without God’s intervention, then prayer is irrelevant; and this fact applies in every case of prayer that concerns a defined outcome. If it is to be unsuccessful without God’s intervention, and God does not intervene, then prayer is again irrelevant. If it is to be successful only after God’s intervention, then God has contravened free will, since He has taken action to change an outcome that would have been different without His intervention.

    The convoluted mental processes you guys engage in to maintain your self-deceptions are pretty funny until you get power of some kind, then they’re kinda scary.

  32. Percy
    July 28th, 2005 @ 5:37 pm

    The purpose of prayer is actually a very interesting discussion. I for one believe that it’s a form of fellowship. God, being omnipotent and omniscient, already knows what you’re going to pray about, etc. But it’s the act of praying in and of itself that I believe is what God looks for. It shows that you are willingly to talk to God, rather than ignore him. As to what prayer does, well that’s a bit harder. Of course, you can’t see God, and if you do not have communication with him, it’s hard to to pick out places in history and say “here is God’s hand”. But then again, there have been numerous reports of miracles throughout history, and 54% of the Earth’s human inhabitants are monotheists. Furthermore, people like Einstein, Jefferson, Lincoln, etc. were Theists. So calling Christians in general to be drones seems a little shallow…

    If you knew about Christianity, you would not be using the word “close-minded”. Christianity is a religion of faith. Of course, it does make sense that most atheists are former Christians, because you seem to have a vehement and often close-minded reaction to anything to do with Christianity, and little if any regard to the other religions. Might it be safe to say that you are not so much anti-God as anti-religion? I did not say he put a thought in your head. When I speak to you, you have the choice to pay attention to what I say. It is the same with God. Thus, it does not infringe upon free will for God to speak to you. I didn’t say you shouldn’t try and understand his followers, I said that it is presumptuous to try and postulate theories as to how God communicates in terms of a singular religion if you have little knowledge of that religion. And I also didn’t say you shouldn’t think about God. In fact, I would encourage you to think about God, but I suggest that you don’t make any judgements before you do some thorough research.

    By “best wishes” (although I probably should have said “best interests”) I was referring to what would be best for the mother and the baby in terms of quality of life. The baby doesn’t need to have any wishes in order for us to try and take care of its future. Ah, so you two are anti-religion rather than anti-God, am I right? Well, what if that so called “Christian dogma” was actually false (as in, not really Christian)?

    Interesting idea about prayer. However, it seems to fall short given that we cannot tell whether or not God intervened. If God is omniscient, then whatever scenario happens in some way fits into his plan. In the end, prayer is a matter of faith rather than science or logical observation :)

    Your processes seem just as convoluted, so I’m glad we’re on the same page :) And btw, when you guys get in power, it’s REALLY scary. Perhaps this should be a lesson: do not elect the religion – rather, elect the man (kind of falls in with Separation of Church and State).

  33. hermesten
    July 28th, 2005 @ 6:27 pm

    I am mostly anti-religion. I think Thomas Paine was probably a pretty good guy even though he believed in God. Its a little silly to say an atheist is anti-God, since to be an atheist is to weigh the evidence and decide that God does not exist. I don’t give a rat’s ass that someone believes in God, and I have no problem, for example, with Unitarians. In fact, I don’t have much problem with Catholics either, but then most of the Christians I know don’t consider Catholics to be Christians. I have also studied the Bible and theology, with the result that the more I know about religion, the more I understand just how ridiculous it is.

    I didn’t use the term “close-minded” myself, but I do think the term is aptly applied to many Christians, especially the fundies, though I’d add ignorant –as in ignorant and close-minded. And like many others here, I happen to know a lot about Christianity, AND Christians, though I have never been one. Not only have I lived and worked, for years, in places where you can’t escape these people and their religious nonsense, my kids were homeschooled, and all the homeschooling groups of which we were a part were overtly Christian.

    I know some decent Christians, though I typically find their decency to be an inverse function of their piety: the more pious they are the more miserable they are as human beings. Of course, decent human beings of any persuasion are in the minority, and I tend to think that decent Christians find justification for their decency in their religion, just as the Christian majority finds justification for it’s indecency.

    At this point, based on what you’ve said and how you’ve said it, I tend to think you are probably a pretty decent guy. However, you do seem to be a little confused about religion and logic. If God is all knowing and all powerful, and he already knows what I’m going to pray about, then He already knows whether or not I’m going to pray, so there is nothing for him to “look for.” And since my behavior was already determined in advance –as in your own words: He already knows what I’m going to pray about– there is nothing God can learn from it. And the notion that my action “shows” God something is absurdly redundant, since the whole premise of your contention is that God already knows everything there is to know, which means there is nothing new that He can learn.

    As far as being able to determine whether God intervenes or not: its absolutely irrelevant. He either does or He doesn’t. If He does, then prayer can be efficacious but there is no free-will. If He doesn’t, then prayer is pointless.

  34. WOMBATTLER
    July 28th, 2005 @ 6:52 pm

    Well, hermesten, back to the old ad hominem attacks again, eh? You never were too bright. A person who slings that many consecutive schoolyard insults can’t be too confident of the correctness of his position. The sad part is, I’m half your age, with twice the civility.

  35. Mookie
    July 28th, 2005 @ 6:55 pm

    “But then again, there have been numerous reports of miracles throughout history, and 54% of the Earth’s human inhabitants are monotheists.”

    Lots of people do it, so it MUST be correct.

    “Einstein, Jefferson, Lincoln, etc. were Theists. So calling Christians in general to be drones seems a little shallow…”

    These people are famous, they were intelligent, and they did good things, therefore, all xians are famous, intelligent, and do good things. In fact, Einstein, Jefferson, and Lincoln all admitted constantly that god was their source of inspiration. Einstein himself had a very strong and personal relationship with god. God told him about special relativity, about what it iss like to travel on a beam of light, and how to solve complex physics equations. Jefferson was told by god that he was to be influential in building a new system of government in a new country. God told him how to interact with his fellow conspirators so they could draft a declaration of independence and, later, a constitution. I just love it how the hand of god is always guiding people.

    “Might it be safe to say that you are not so much anti-God as anti-religion?”

    To us, they are one and the same. When we see a very large, fat person, we wonder about their dietary habits. When we see someone with rotten teeth, we wonder about their brushing habits. When we see someone who believes in something that is not proven to exist, we wonder about their mental prowess. God has not been proven to not exist, therefore, he does exist. Such wonderful logic.

    “I said that it is presumptuous to try and postulate theories as to how God communicates in terms of a singular religion if you have little knowledge of that religion.”

    I’ve been thinking about the Zverdinkle. The Zverdinkle are tiny organisms that live on a planet orbiting a star in another galaxy. These Zverdinkle are oh so wonderful. They play in their primordial ooze and look up at the sky with their microscopic photo-sensitive cells and wonder when all their activities will create a more stable atmosphere. I have no proof that the Zverdinkle exist, but I have just spent several minutes thinking about what they “are” like. I have never seen a Zverdink, I have no proof that they exist, but I know they do because I just thought about what they do all day. If I can think about how I relate with something called god, then that must mean god DOES exist.

    “In fact, I would encourage you to think about God, but I suggest that you don’t make any judgements before you do some thorough research.”

    God is about 1.5 meters in height, weighs about 50 kilograms, and is 57 years old. He has white, thinning hair and blue eyes. God likes to eat pizza, pasta, salad, and tacos. His favourite colour is blue. There, I did some research. Now that we know a little bit about god, I guess we can start judging him.

    “In the end, prayer is a matter of faith rather than science or logical observation :)”

    That’s right, it is a matter of faith. I want it to rain where I live, so I will do a rain dance. It rains. Therefore, my dancing around had something to do with it. If it doesn’t rain, then the rain god must not have been impressed with my dancing. Or, I can check the local radar and see how things look. What will happen will happen, regardless of my wishes, intentions, or dancing.

    “And btw, when you guys get in power, it’s REALLY scary.”

    Because atheists are not very logical people, not very nice people. They rely on delusions and superstition to manipulate other people to get what they want. They base their decisions on beliefs that have very little basis in fact. They believe in an afterlife and an all-high, all-powerful being, that will punish them if they do not obey, which means that they have a basis for morality. All atheists want is to do everything that goes along with the word of some invisible skydaddy that is actually a character in a book that was written centuries ago by dirty, ignorant, and cruel, bronze-age tribes that wandered the desert slaughtering other tribes and imposing their beliefs on them – assuming they let them live. I can see how that would be scary.

    “Perhaps this should be a lesson:…”

    Yeah, don’t be stupid. I can’t say it nicely because Santa Claus does not exist, the easter bunny does not exist, and Roger Rabbit does not exist. We call adults who believe these things exist stupid, so it is with folks who believe in god(s). If you don’t like the way we think of you and your silly religions, change your mind about them. Don’t eat a bunch of fattening food, don’t forget to brush your teeth, and don’t be stupid. Its not really all that hard. One benefit of being atheist is you can make fun of people who used to (not) think just like you did.

  36. Percy
    July 28th, 2005 @ 6:55 pm

    “anti-God” meaning against the idea of God (that was what I was going for). Well, we seem to have something in common, as I am also anti-religion. For instance, even though I study a lot of Christianity, I do not subscribe to a Christian denomination or go to a “church”, and I don’t plan to. In my opinion, religion throughout history has for the most part divided people. It’s personal faith that matters, not what someone on a pulpit tells you is right and wrong.

    I would agree that fundies are very close-minded, and at times ignorant. But isn’t the far extreme of anything that way? I mean, the fundamentalist Islamics are blowing up innocent people, the fundamental right wing seems to be pro-war in everything it does, and the fundamental left is stooping to their level with brainless criticisms and abominable election choices. I think the fairest definition of “open-mindedness” is someone who has and continues to consider both sides of an issue, no matter what side of it they are on.

    I think I know where you’re coming from with the “piety” thing. I’ve known many pious Christians, and I can’t say that I really enjoyed being around any of them. They would nag me about everything – cussing, my music, my clothes, etc. It really turned me off from the whole idea of Christianity and even of religion. But then I started to investigate the supposed “scriptures” they were accusing me of violating, and I found that I was in fact not violating any of them. That’s when I came to the opinion that religious rules, however good-natured they may be, are often destructive in the hands of someone without grace or mercy. Of course, I’ve never known an organization to be full of grace and mercy, and so I tend to view organized religion as something of an oppressive force. It’s individuals that I’m interested in.

    Well thank you :) I believe that you are a decent person too, especially if you homeschool your kids. Better to raise and teach your children yourself than to have someone you don’t know do it for you, IMHO. It’s funny, but I’ve noticed that a lot of discussions between Christians and atheists fall back on the concepts of omniscience and omnipotence. I suppose the conclusion you come to really depends on your vision of who God is. In my view, God is relational, and his reason for creating us was to be able to love something and for that thing to have the choice and ability to love him back. When I view him that way, I pray because I know that he cares about me. If I were to view him as some invisible vending machine in the sky, or as a an inquisitive nebula, then the issue of prayer does seem to be more problematic for such a theist. Since I’m not omnipotent or omniscient, I really don’t know exactly how God works. I only know that when I pray to him, I feel comforted, and I see his hand in my life and the lives of those I pray for. When I think of it, however, the whole free will thing seems to make sense when you view it from the perspective of a time machine (not saying I know how time works or anything). Imagine that your friend is making a choice about what soda to drink. You are at the place in time where he has just made his decision, so you know what he chose. Now, imagine that you got in a time machine, and went back to the place in time when he was still choosing. You know what’s going to happen, because you’ve already seen it. But this doesn’t change the fact that your friend has a choice to make, and that he’s going to choose one thing. Thus, even though you know the outcome (you’re omniscient in this situation), your friend still has free will. Perhaps that’s wrong, idk. But it seems to make sense to me.

  37. Percy
    July 28th, 2005 @ 7:21 pm

    Mookie,

    Not necessarily correct, but there must be some reason or truth to it at some point.

    Actually, I know for a fact that not all Christians are famous ;) But no, what I’m saying is that if men who furthered the fields of science, politics, etc, in such mind-boggling ways were theists, there must be some reason for it. I mean, I’ve heard time and time again atheists say that science disproves the existence of God, but why was Einstein still a Theist? It’s just an interesting thing to think about, I suppose.

    I think perhaps you are too skeptical to understand the difference between religion and God. God is a being “higher” than man, in my view. I believe he is perfect, omniscient, and omnipotent. Religion is an organized set of beliefs and laws revolving around the idea of God. I think the key word there, at least for me, would be “organized”. God has not been proven false either, and there is evidence for his existence. Evolution has not been proven to occur, but there is some traces of evidence for it. Do you lend the same criticism that you place on Christianity on the theory of Evolution?

    Well, if you want to believe in Zerdwinkies that’s fine. However, I think before you do, you should examine your faith. 1) does it have a clear and obvious founder? 2) does it at some point relate to humanity? Is there a logical explanation as to how and when? 3) what conditions must be present in order for the Zerdwinkies to exist? 4) what evidence is there that Zerdwinkies do exist?

    Lol, why would God like pizza? I say he likes hamburgers.

    Knowing how something works does not necessarily equate to knowing that God does not have anything to do with it. Since you were talking about weather, we can deal with that. Scientists have the ability to predict to a certain probability tomorrow’s weather. However, when the weather does not follow their prediction, they are also able to understand why this did not happen (in many instances). Now, they know why it did not happen, but they didn’t know it wouldn’t happen when they made their prediction. Contrast this to God, who knows everything. Thus, even though there is knowledge of how the weather works, it still does not compromise to any serious degree the possibility of God’s existence and involvement with our world. Btw, I really would like to see your version of a rain dance ;)

    I think you’re a bit confused about what atheists are, and even more confused about what Christians are ;)

    Stupidity in this case is actually in the eye of the beholder, since we’re both talking about something that to varying degrees we cannot explain ;) Because you do not know if a God exists (and furthermore, you think a God does NOT exist), you are forced to rebutt an idea of God that I supply. Furthermore, your examples of other figments of imagination are amusing. First, there is some truth to the idea of Santa Claus (St. Nicholas), and so by supplying that you have given an example of something fictional that has factual history and context. Of course, the Easter Bunny is actually part of pagan myth, and Roger Rabbit has a definite origin in recent history. But you see, you cannot really trace the history of God, because you cannot prove when the belief started. Because you can’t prove when it started, you can’t show that there is no factual basis for it. But your examples were truly amusing :)

    I’m not really afraid of God’s punishment. I like living my life by morals because morals are something higher than myself or any other man; they are a standard that exists for the betterment of human life. When I live my life by morals, I feel proud of myself, and when I treat others with respect, no matter how foolish I think their ideas and beliefs to be, I show that I care about more than just myself and my pride. I am curious as to whether or not you feel the same way.

  38. Tom Gilson
    July 28th, 2005 @ 7:22 pm

    My early comment here got a lot of responses. I’ve been on the road lately, and I’ve only had Internet access about 5 hours in the last 5 days–which I wasn’t using all for this blog. So as I said somewhere else, I’ve been quiet, and as someone here said, I have in fact spent part of my time praying. Why not?

    Anyway, I’m certainly interested in any civil discussion we can have on this topic. I’m posting answers to several of the comments here on my own blog, http://www.thinkingchristian.net. You’re welcome to come on over (just follow the comments guidelines, please). I’ll address maybe one or two of these items a day in no particular order.

  39. Vernichten
    July 28th, 2005 @ 7:27 pm

    I wish I had time to say more, but I had to point this out:
    Wombattler, you are accusing Hermesten of making ad hominem attacks with one sentence, and then you do the very same thing in the very next sentence!!!
    Then, after your apparent hypocrisy you go on to say
    “I’m half your age, with twice the civility”
    and apparently, none of the humility.

  40. leon
    July 28th, 2005 @ 10:57 pm

    Tom
    I have in fact spent part of my time praying. Why not?

    Why not? Because you wasted your life. Keep wasting your life on prayer and stay out of other peoples faces. Does your praying help you to keep from masturbating or what? Because that is a horrible thing to do when you are on the road, masturbating. Isn

  41. qedpro
    July 28th, 2005 @ 11:08 pm

    Mookie:

    where do you get your info. Have you ever read anything that einstein and jefferson wrote?
    Or do you just make it up in your little head like most christians

    Einstein:
    It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.

    – Albert Einstein, In Perspective

  42. Mookie
    July 28th, 2005 @ 11:48 pm

    qedpro, please go back and read my post. You may also want to look up the definition of sarcasm.

  43. qedpro
    July 29th, 2005 @ 12:02 am

    oops sorry mookster, i should have read to the end
    I’m an atheist, i can admit i was wrong :-)

  44. Mookie
    July 29th, 2005 @ 12:49 am

    “in such mind-boggling ways were theists, there must be some reason for it”

    Not really. God does not grant insight. Humans do all the thinking, all the doing, all the hard work, and god gets the credit.

    “I think perhaps you are too skeptical to understand the difference between religion and God.”

    Think harder.

    “God has not been proven false either, and there is evidence for his existence.”

    Correlation is not causation, and causation is not evidence of god. Evidence consists of tangible things, detectable things. Fairytales are not evidence. Just because you want something to be true, or believe something to be true, doesn’t make it true.

    “Evolution has not been proven to occur, but there is some traces of evidence for it.”

    I see. And dog breeds haven’t changed over time. Fruit flies bred in captivity through many generations have not acquired different traits and characteristics. I also heard that the sun revolves around the Earth.

    “what evidence is there that Zerdwinkies do exist?”

    It amounts to the same evidence that you have for the existence of god. It consists of 1) a presupposition that god exists, 2) an emotional stake in god existing, 3) a strong desire for god to exist, 4) nonsensical ponderings on a being who has supernatural powers. Not a shred of evidence there. And don’t try that “god is like the wind blowing on a field of grass, you can’t see him, but the effects of his actions are seen”.

    “Lol, why would God like pizza? I say he likes hamburgers.”

    Oh yes, god just stopped by, he says he doesn’t like hamburgers. Why not? God is perfect, right? So he doesn’t eat meat. Vegetarians are perfect. Again, we speculate about a god that is not clearly defined. What is perfect to you may not be perfect to me. Omniscience and omnipotence are mere abstractions. We found a word or two that describes these things. We then lump these narly powers into one “entity”, whom we label god. We desire this new abstraction to comfort and care for us, to offer us hope and a reward in another silly concept, the afterlife. You want something to be true so badly, that you make it true in your mind. So you go through life believing god exists, and find evidence of his existence in normal, natural occurences.

    “Knowing how something works does not necessarily equate to knowing that God does not have anything to do with it.”

    If we know how the weather works, why is there a need to appeal to a god to make it rain? Why is a god necessary for the weather to occur? Air masses of varying temperatures, densities, and humidity interact and produce weather. Oh yes, and let’s include the superfluous and unnecessary god factor, which must be included in the system for it to make sense. My point was that the idea that god(s) have an effect on the natural world is meaningless, because it cannot be detected.
    Let’s try this. Just for a moment, pretend god does not exist, has never existed, and will never exist. We don’t have a word for god, god as an abstraction does not exist to us. We’ll call this condition A. Condition B consists of god existing in more or less the way you think it does. In condition A and condition B there is exact the same rainstorm. The lack of god in condition A does not in any way affect the outcome of the rain, it does not affect the natural world, the natural universe, or anything at all, whatsoever. Yet everything is exactly the same as it is in condition B. In condition A, the natural world is what it is, and that’s all. In condition B, the natural world is what it is, plus there’s a god. If god does not exist in condition A, and does exist in condition B, yet there are no differences, then why is it necessary to have condition B?

    “Contrast this to God, who knows everything. Thus, even though there is knowledge of how the weather works, it still does not compromise to any serious degree the possibility of God’s existence and involvement with our world.”

    Meaningless drivel. God has not been proven not to exist, therefore he does exist.

    “I think you’re a bit confused about what atheists are, and even more confused about what Christians are”

    Think harder.

    “Because you do not know if a God exists (and furthermore, you think a God does NOT exist), you are forced to rebutt an idea of God that I supply”

    The god you describe does not exist because his properties consist of abstractions that humans have defined. They cannot be proven to exist, there is no reason TO prove they exist, because they are not useful in determining how the universe works. God being omnipotent and omniscient does not affect me at all, so why should I bother to believe it exists? Why waste my time thinking about Zverdinkles when I have no evidence whatsoever that they exist?

    Besides which, my atheism stems from my own lack of a belief in god. The label of the word suggests that being atheist is a negation of theism, which is really not the case. Its like Newdow said, “Everyone is born atheist.” If we did not have ideas about god, there would be no theism. In such a case, all people would be atheists, but there would be no need to have such a term, because theism does not exist. It is unfortunate that atheism stems from the term “theism”, because it leads people to assume that our beliefs are specifically negating the beliefs of others. We simply lack such beliefs, for various reasons.

    “But you see, you cannot really trace the history of God, because you cannot prove when the belief started. Because you can’t prove when it started, you can’t show that there is no factual basis for it.”

    I can’t really trace the history of the Zverdinkles, because I cannot prove that they exist at all. Because I can’t prove they exist, I have no evidence that they do not exist. Therefore, they must exist.

    “they are a standard that exists for the betterment of human life”

    Morals are relative and arbitrary, they are not a standard. There are common themes in moral codes from around the world, but this does not make them a standard. Having morals based on absolutes is unnecessary and dangerous. Building morality from the ground up is better because it allows a more thorough understanding behind morals, laws, and human behaviour.

    “When I live my life by morals, I feel proud of myself, and when I treat others with respect, no matter how foolish I think their ideas and beliefs to be, I show that I care about more than just myself and my pride. I am curious as to whether or not you feel the same way.”

    When I ridicule others for having beliefs that have harmed humanity for centuries, I feel proud of myself. I know that I am helping to prevent future damage as a result of religious idiocy. I am proud that I don’t lie to myself. I do happen to care about other people and the world around me. That’s why I preach atheism. I’m doing you and the world a favour by stamping out this horrible (il)logic. I would feel the same way telling someone off for being racist (have done this many times), sexist (done this as well), or homophobic. All are bundles of illogic, that, when spread, create lots of problems for people. Rather than encourage them or remain silent, I choose to discourage them, to show others why they are bad ideas. I don’t like the thought of stupidity screwing things up for non-stupid people.

  45. Mookie
    July 29th, 2005 @ 12:54 am

    43, qedpro,

    No worries. Good to know you are not stupid, and honest and secure enough to admit your mistake. Forgive my rudeness, I was in attack mode and have an itchy trigger finger.

  46. simbol
    July 29th, 2005 @ 2:13 am

    percy

    On jefferson et al:

    Maybe Jefferson was deist but much of his political inspiration came from Hume, an atheist. Definitely he was antireligious
    On Einstein, nothing is clear, he could be an agnostic, a deist or an atheist.
    Lincoln said:
    “The Bible is not my book nor Christianity my profession. I could never give assent to the long, complicated statements of Christian dogma.”.You don’t need very much effort for imagine what he would think of judaism or islamism. An atheist? I don’t know. But I think, he had restrictions for going farther than this statement, if he wanted to be a successful politician.

    In this area, Percy, you are using a illegal recourse when discussing seriously: the recourse to authority. And unfairly, because it doesn’t take you very much time to research the net and find a lot of famous persons who were atheist.

    On the sinister atheists (“And btw, when you guys get in power, it’s REALLY scary.”)

    It would be nice that you elaborate in this point. The underlying assumption is that atheists has a low class morals (otherwise why to be scary?). Before posting on this, let me tell you that you would be totally wrong if you thought all atheists have the same moral or political values and ideas. In my opinion, the only they agree in it is on matter of religion. Maybe, on average, they are better educated persons, but better education don’t makes you a better person, if only, more skeptic.

    On the moral superiority of believers:

    80+% of americans are believers. If it were true that believing in god, makes you a better persons, this country and the world would be a Paradise because most of the people in the world are believers. How come then that 2 million of americans are in jail? are they atheists?. It seem to be that the population in jail are stronger believers than the rest. I think that your beliefs in matter of religion has nothing to do with you personal conduct, unless you are an extremist or you are compelled by the education and practices of a theocracy. Religion is only a dimension of men, but there are other dimensions in them.

    On the existence of god

    It is almost always a futile discussion once you have taken position on the matter. Problem is that there is no satisfactory way for both parties of defining the problem and a way of testing the different propositions. The believers don’t accept the scientific method and define the problem as one who belongs to the spiritual realm. Once you are in the “spiritual” realm whatever can be “proved”,so much so, that each, christian, muslim, judaism, hinduism, etc, think they have proved their religion is the “true” and it is logically impossible that two different religions be true simultaneously. Can you tell me, Percy, which is the true god, and how you arrived a that conclusion? of course, you previously have to inform me how you arrived to the conclusion that god exists. It is no fair to ask us atheists, to prove that god doesn’t exists, and concluding that since we cannot prove the nonexistence of god, this prove his existence. In fact, this has nothing to do with us, because we don’t believe in god. Are you the believers who have to look for irrefutable proofs that can be universally accepted. Until now these proofs have no appeared. And for us, to prove that a non-existent being doesn’t exists, would be a miracle. And as you know a miracle is something that violates logic, coherence and the laws of nature. So I humbly declare not being able to produce that miracle. And for the rest of atheists I assume they are not licensed for working in this activity. Sometimes I think that each religion is charged of hubris. For example, What entitles christians to think their religion is superior to Judaism, Islamism or Hinduism?, what, Percy, allows you to think your god is better than Manitou or shiva? Why don’t you pray to Yemanya? why do you believe that your christ makes you better than the jews, musmlims, hindus, etc. On what statistics you base your belief that christian are more honest, generous, tolerant, etc than the people of other religions?

    on evolution

    “Evolution has not been proven to occur, but there is some traces of evidence for it. Do you lend the same criticism that you place on Christianity on the theory of Evolution?”

    Evolution is not a theory compiled in a sacred text and because of this unerring and unchanging. It’s open to scientific scrutiny. For the time being has supported close examination, genetics have given it stronger consistency and it has not been disproven. If a some point this theory shows a fatal flaw, no problem, we will throw it to the recycle bin. At the same time, intelligent design have become the laughingstock of scientific comunity, and I am, personally, very angry with that designer given the fact that designing my wife he committed many errors especially those who leads to arthritis. And about the sacred text of christianity, the bible, is quite difficult to change it or throwing it in the recycle bin since it was divinely inspired; so its incoherence, inaccuracy, contradictions, inventions, and myths cannot be rewritten, but this can be solved by changing “interpretation”. Nice!

    On evolution there is a lot more than “traces of evidence”. Read Dawkins’ The blind Watchmaker. You don’t need to be a biologist for reading it, is very well written and very informative about the present status of this theory even whe it was written more tha ten years ago.

  47. Mookie
    July 29th, 2005 @ 2:57 am

    Good post simbol.

    You’ll find, Percy, that atheists have a lot more reasons to not believe in god(s) than theists do for believing in god(s). Not only that, but our reasons are far more compelling, far more logical, and far more human. Everything that humanity has ever done has been done by humanity, not by some divine will or predestination. Every story, every abstract thought, every belief is the result of human thought and emotion. Humanity created a belief so powerful, that it caused people to make the abstract real! And thus a horrible absolute was born that would enslave the minds of millions of people for over 2000 years. We atheists have our reasons for our nonbelief, and that’s what makes us free.

  48. hermesten
    July 29th, 2005 @ 9:39 am

    Simbol: “I think that your beliefs in matter of religion has nothing to do with you personal conduct, unless you are an extremist or you are compelled by the education and practices of a theocracy.”

    Here we are in complete agreement. I didn’t respond to Percy’s comment on this subject because I assumed it was the usual theist reference to Hitler, Stalin, Mao, et al. The fact is that there was no Stalin before, well, Stalin. No theist has ever been tested with the kind of power wielded by a Hitler or a Stalin.

  49. hermesten
    July 29th, 2005 @ 10:27 am

    Percy, the problem with your time analogy is that it is false. Limited or partial omniscience simply means not omnscient. In your analogy I know only one possible outcome. In fact, the sum total of everything I know, and will ever know, would not even be measurable on the scale of what there is to know. For God to know “everything” means that there can be no other possible outcome –otherwise, He could “learn” something because there would be something He didn’t know, and He wouldn’t be omniscient.

    I haven’t even addressed the logical contradiction of a being being both omniscient and omnipotent. Logically, God can’t be both. To know everything means nothing can be changed. To have the power to change anything means that everything cannot be known.

    You should realize that when people on here say “Christian” the focus for many of us is on the fundies –the group of ignorant obnoxious people that threaten our liberty. We don’t talk about Muslims as much because in spite of all the bullshit propaganda about “terrorism,” Muslims have no power to take away our liberty. The fact is, most people are followers, and they will do whatever they have to do to remain part of their tribe. We have decent Christians who post here, like Frank, but as far as I’m concerned, if the decent Christians aren’t taking on the indencent ones, they are irrelevant.

    Extremists of whatever group set both the philosophical limits and the limits of action. If Christian extremists advocate killing abortion doctors and bombing abortion clinics, or carry signs that say “God Hates Fags,” then they have set these limits for all Christians unless they are repudiated and marginalized by their leadership. And the fact is, that for every nut with a sign that says “God Hates Fags” there are two? four? six? other Christians who would never carry such a sign, but are sympathetic to the sentiment expressed. These people are not repudiated and marginalized because polarization is a very effective means of dividing people and maintaining control, and because those who are sympathetic, but would never act out with violence themselves, can pretend to be rational and reap all the benefits sown by the extremists.

  50. simbol
    July 29th, 2005 @ 1:26 pm

    Herm “No theist has ever been tested with the kind of power wielded by a Hitler or a Stalin.’

    Savonarola, Calvin and Khomeini, wielded enough power for imposing their beliefs on their communities, not speaking of the Afghanistan Mullahs. Revolutionary France was a rare case with its official “cult of the supreme being” an ersatz of traditional religions with short life. And life was not happy for those communities. Fanaticism of Phillip II of Spain flooded Europe with blood. But this is not a rule, Henry IV of France, being a strong protestant issued the Edict of Nantes, maybe the first law of Tolerance. What this shows is that Statesmen can be enough sensible, be them theist or atheist, for knowing that religious ideas are a special kind of ideas which cannot be imposed by force. After all you are king of your brain if not of your public behavior. I can give you a list of atheist or agnostic chiefs of state, which never tried to impose atheism or agnosticism, but were clever enough for advancing the freedom of thought, the separation of state and church and a neutral public education. And that is all was is needed, even for the believers. After all is in the interest of each religion that a powerful state don’t meddle in religious fights tipping the balance in favor of one of them. This country was an example of that, at least in its first centuries. I’m sure Percy ought to be happier with the USA present constitution than with the scary Sharia.
    Herm, In the case of stalin, atheism was a policy pursued by the strong alliance between orthodox churh and the ancien regime. This can be demonstrate by the change of policy in the IIWW. In fact I strongly believe that christianism is not dysfunctional with marxist socialism. If you take out the Marx’s mantra of “religion as the opium of people” all works fine. See the abundance of comunist catholics priests in latinamerica. JPII put a brake, but many of them are still grumbling.

  51. hermesten
    July 29th, 2005 @ 3:42 pm

    Simbol, I mean “power” in the much larger sense of all resources available for the excercise of control. When I say theists haven’t been tested with the kind of power available to a Stalin or a Hitler, I am referring to power leveraged by such things as mass media, the facilitation of command and control via modern means of communication, the refinement of propaganda techniques and the use of the techniques of public relations and advertising built upon the modern understanding of psychology, efficient conscription, and the infrastructure necessary for mass arrest, detention, and murder, in addition to the more traditional economic and military resources at the command of the state. None of your examples had the kind of power wielded by Hitler and Stalin, or even Mao –hell, none of them had even the power wielded by the Governator of California. The Mullahs in Afghanistan lasted about two weeks against relatively very limited US intervention.

    I agree that there is nothing inherently anti-socialist about Christianity. In fact, Jesus sounds more like a communist than a capitalist. And ever since Christians became part of an organized religion instead of just members of a cult, they have demonstrated remarkable flexibilitly in accommodating their religious views to the facilitation of state power. European atheism is largely a reaction against the centuries old alliance of tyranny between Church and State. If you’re saying that Russian atheism under the communists is more of a reaction against centuries of religious repression than a product of communist ideology, then I agree with you. Before the rise of the Soviet State, a communist revolution in early 20th century America may well have assimiliated the ideology of Christianity.

  52. hermesten
    July 29th, 2005 @ 3:56 pm

    For the amusement and edification of all: Wombattler quotes from other threads. All quotes exactly as they were posted (capitals and all) and all complete.

    MY GOD. YOU PEOPLE HAVEN’T GOTTEN ANY SMARTER SINCE THE LAST TIME I READ THIS SITE. AND PEOPLE WONDER WHY MY ATTITUDE TOWARDS HUMANITY IS IN THE SHITTER. SHEESH. GET A HOBBY, ASSHOLES. AND LADIES, GET BACK I THE KITCHEN. WHY ARE YOU ON THE COMPUTER? AND WHO TAUGHT YOU HOW TO USE IT? THE MEN IN YOUR LIFE ARE SLIPPING.

    BY THE WAY, THE ONLY PRODUCTION WOMEN SHOULD ENGAGE IN IS REPRODUCTION. I’D LIKE TO MEET THE PERSON WHO TOLD WOMEN THAT THEY COULD WORK AND WHUP HIM GOOD. COOKING AND CLEANING IS WORK APLENTY. I MEAN, WE LET THEM HAVE OUR KIDS, WHAT ELSE DO THEY WANT?

    DON’T YOU PEOPLE HAVE ANYTHING ELSE THE FUCK TO DO THAN WONDER ABOUT THE LEGALITY AND INTENTIONS OF SOME SILLY RUNAWAY BRIDE? GOOD LORD, MAN, GET A LIFE. YOU GUYS YAKK ABOUT BULLSHIT SO MUCH THAT ONE WOULD ASSUME YOU’LL LIVE TO SEE 200. LIFE IS SHORT. KEEP YOUR INCONSEQUENTIAL OPINIONS TO YOURSELF AND LIVE A LITTLE, YOU DOLTS.

    THANK GOODNESS YOU IDIOTS ARE A VAST MINORITY. I’VE NEVER SEEN SUCH CONCENTRATED STUPIDITY.

    ALEX, LEARN TO SPELL. YOU SOUND LIKE AN IDIOT.

    Well, hermesten, back to the old ad hominem attacks again, eh? You never were too bright. A person who slings that many consecutive schoolyard insults can’t be too confident of the correctness of his position. The sad part is, I’m half your age, with twice the civility.

  53. simbol
    July 29th, 2005 @ 5:31 pm

    herm. I understood clearly your previous post. Mine was a complement of yours, trying to show thah even in different military, econommical or technical conditions, religious fanatics can made life very hard, as a response to Percy who seems to think that te “wicked” gene is only inherited by atheist. I also wanted to stress that the problem is not believing or not believing but fanaticism. Also I wrote “atheism was a policy pursued by the strong alliance between orthodox churh and the ancien regime.” I was writign in spanish. What I wanted to say in english was “atheism was a policy pursued AS A CONSEQUENCE of the strong alliance between orthodox church and the ancien regime”. Fortunately this was well understood.

  54. Tom Gilson
    July 30th, 2005 @ 11:34 am

    Leon, here’s why I pray: because God loves me; because I love God; because I’m living out a relationship with someone I love. After all, any relationship involves communication. Even if God never gave me something I asked for in prayer, it would still be a very satisfying, freeing, enjoyable way to spend my time. (Though he does grant requests–see my blog for some recent stories.)

    Lest anyone misunderstand, I’m not saying God loves me more than anyone else, but it is still a very personal relationship. It is for anyone who is willing to let it be so.

  55. Vernichten
    July 30th, 2005 @ 1:02 pm

    Tom, the things you describe as benefits of prayer could also be listed as the benefits of recreational drug use. Is prayer your drug?

  56. Mookie
    July 30th, 2005 @ 2:01 pm

    Prayer often can be explained by the placebo effect, which is quite a powerful psychological tool. You think prayer works, and that belief is what actually “heals” you. The act of praying is just a way of invoking the placebo effect. The external effects of prayer are do to coincidence, not any supernatural intervention by some “higher being”.

    The white man laughed at the native savages for their rain dances and silly animism. Today, the intelligent and honest folks laugh at the backwards, delusional, and stupid people who hold back humanity by believing in and following the decrees of non-existent entities.

  57. leon
    July 31st, 2005 @ 11:23 am

    Leon, here’s why I pray: because God loves me;
    Did you hear voices or see a detached-hand writing on a wall, “Tom, I love you”

    because I love God;
    You love a god that killed 200,000 men, women, and children around the Indian Ocean and allows mad-men to bomb innocent people in subways?

    because I’m living out a relationship with someone I love.
    Oh I see, you are thanking a god for your good fortune. I guess you don’t give yourself any credit for this relationship, eh? You either have freewill or you do not.

    After all, any relationship involves communication.
    Huh? If a god controls everything, it is a one way communication. Then, in response to the last sentence you will try to rationalize by saying god doesn’t control everything. Did you forget the attributes, “Omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent”

    Even if God never gave me something I asked for in prayer,
    Either your imaginary god gave you something or it did not. Which is it? Not sure? So I guess you still thank this god just in case?

    it would still be a very satisfying, freeing, enjoyable way to spend my time. (Though he does grant requests–see my blog for some recent stories.)
    I would rather read logical critiques on fallacies. Just because something happened the way you wanted it to happen doesn’t mean a god caused it.

    Lest anyone misunderstand, I’m not saying God loves me more than anyone else,
    But you are hoping that.

    but it is still a very personal relationship.
    It is not personal if you are telling everybody about it; it sounds like you are bragging about your special imaginary status as one of god’s favorite people. You belong to the God Club. Wooo wooo. That special group who think they are in contact with a god.

    It is for anyone who is willing to let it be so.
    So people are resisting?

  58. Percy
    August 7th, 2005 @ 2:09 pm

    SIMBOL:

  59. hermesten
    August 8th, 2005 @ 11:05 am

    Percy: “If you study enough of history, I think that you find that dictators of all religions and beliefs commit horrible atrocities. Perhaps the over observation one should make from this then is that absolute power corrupts everyone.”

    Actually, that was my point. I agree with Simbol that religion does not make people better. People are good, or bad, for a variety of reasons, some genetic. A theocrat in Stalin’s circumstances, with Stalin’s power, is not necessarily going to be any better than Stalin. Of course, when you start from the bottom with a moral cretin like Dubya, and then give him lots of power, the outcome is likely to be worse than it would be if you started with a decent human being to begin with.

    Perhaps I could have found a better term than “sympathetic to the sentiment expressed,” but what I intended this expression to convey was more of the sense or thought that “those people have a point about homosexuals even if I don’t completely agree with what their sign says.” As far as God not hating homosexuals is concerned, I believe the Biblical penalty for homosexuality is death. So, maybe God doesn’t hate them, but with that kind of love, it seems irrelevant to me. And I’ve never heard a Christian make a rational argument against homosexuality. It always comes down to it’s bad because the Bible says so.

    In any case, there could be ten Christians sympathetic to the sentiment expressed for every one carrying a sign, and still not constitute a majority of Christian opinion. I don’t know what the majority of Christians believe, I only know what individual Christians have told me, and what I observe other Christians actually doing. The fact is, I have seen Christians express sentiments like these, or other hateful sentiments, among a group of Christians without a single Christian speaking up in protest. And when I have heard a voice of protest, nine times out of ten, it is from someone who is not a Christian. I’m not basing my opinions on Christians on what I read in the news, but on the Christians I’ve met, usually at work, or in home schooling groups.

    “Nowadays, I’m not so sure that the fundamentalists can take away liberty anymore – with separation of church and state, a religion doesn’t really have the chance to control the government anymore.”

    I think you’re wrong about this, and dangerously so, if you’re one of the Christians who oppose the fundamentalist agenda. The fundies have the Republican party in a death-grip. Many of the Republican backers and financiers are theocrats who want to impose “Biblical Law” on America. I’ve read that Christians with the most radical anti-democratic views, who comprise about 15% of the US population, make up about 40% of the US military, and many of these people are at the highest levels. Do they have the power necessary to impose their will today? No. But they are working hard to acquire this power, and they don’t have to constitute a majority to get it. I don’t know if they will succeed or not, but if they do, it will be because the Chrisitans who don’t support their agenda remain quiet.

    “I disagree. If God knows everything, then from the moment Creation began he knew all actions, choices, and outcomes, including his own. Thus, any changes that he makes he has already foreseen, and therefore fit into his plan.”

    I think I’ll drop this part of the discussion after my next comment, because it’s not going to go anywhere. Your disagreement here isn’t with me, it’s with the way the terms “omniscient” and “omnipotent” are defined. If we can’t agree about what these terms mean, we can’t debate their implications. But the lines I quote above are just double-talk. Think about the implications of what you’re saying here. Why would God “change” something? Because He made a mistake, or changed His mind? Why would He change His mind? And if God changes something, knowing in advance that a preceeding action necessitated the change, then He peversely allowed the first action to occur knowing He was going to change it in the future. So He did something wrong knowing it was wrong –sounds sort of evil to me.

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