The Raving Theist

Dedicated to Jesus Christ, Now and Forever

What is Atheism?

March 4, 2009 | 95 Comments

“What is atheism?” say the folks over at American Atheists, “is usually the one question never asked of most atheists.” Small wonder, I’d say, given the conflicting answers given by AA in addressing that very issue. First, on their About Athesim page, they chide believers for asserting that atheism is a “doctrine” or a “belief system”:

What is Atheism?

Theists usually define atheism incorrectly as a belief system. Atheism is not a belief system. Atheism is not a religion.

Atheism is a lack of belief in gods, from the original Greek meaning of “without gods.” That is it. There is nothing more to it. If someone wrote a book titled “Atheism Defined,” it would only be one sentence long.

                                               * * *

Older dictionaries define atheism as “a belief that there is no God” and/or “denial of God” . . . . Some dictionaries even say that atheism is the “doctrine that there is no God.” At least The American Heritage ® Dictionary says “God and gods” after the word “doctrine,” but that does not detract from the fact that use of the word doctrine is incorrect.

                                                 * * *

[U]sing words like “doctrine” and “denial” betray the negativity seen of atheists by theistic writers. Atheism does not have a doctrine at all and atheists certainly do not “deny” that gods exist. Denial is the “refusal to believe.” Atheism does not “know there is a god but refuse to believe in him” (or her). That would be like saying that you know Big Foot exists but you refuse to believe in him. If the evidence of gods was insurmountable and provable, and atheists still refused to believe, then that would be an act of denial.

On the other hand, on another page they declare that atheism is both a doctrine and belief with very specific scientific and moral implications:

What is Atheism

Atheism is a doctrine that states that nothing exists but natural phenomena (matter), that thought is a property or function of matter, and that death irreversibly and totally terminates individual organic units. This definition means that there are no forces, phenomena, or entities which exist outside of or apart from physical nature, or which transcend nature, or are “super” natural, nor can there be. Humankind is on its own.

The following definition of Atheism was given to the Supreme Court of the United States in the case of Murray v. Curlett, 374 U.S. 203, 83 S. Ct. 1560, 10 L.Ed.2d (MD, 1963), to remove reverential Bible reading and oral unison recitation of the Lord’s Prayer in the public schools.

“Your petitioners are Atheists and they define their beliefs as follows. An Atheist loves his fellow man instead of god. An Atheist believes that heaven is something for which we should work now – here on earth for all men together to enjoy.

“Foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds,” said Emerson. I don’t know what AA’s official stance is on the existence of hobgoblins, but in this case I think a little consistency might not be so foolish.

Comments

95 Responses to “What is Atheism?”

  1. Adam
    March 4th, 2009 @ 1:03 pm

    For more on typical atheist semantic mumbo-jumbo, see David Gordon’s review of George H. Smith’s “Atheism, Ayn Rand, and Other Heresies” at http://www.mises.org/journals/jls/10_2/10_2_6.pdf

  2. James Stephenson
    March 4th, 2009 @ 4:22 pm

    This is the reason Atheism will never flourish. It is a broad and too inconsistent Church.

  3. Richard Norris
    March 4th, 2009 @ 6:09 pm

    What is Christianity? Is it the Mormon Church, that believes Jesus and Satan were brothers, and that Jesus married a bevy of women, among them his own mother? Is it the Pentacostals, who believe in speaking in tounges, and other charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit? Is it the Jehova’s Witnesses, with their belief that Jesus visited the Earth in the early 20th century in an invisible fashion? Is it the fundamentalists, who believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible and a literal creation story, and push for America to be more aggresive in the Middle East so that those actions spark the Rapture? Is it the Coptic Church that uses pot smoking as a sacrament? Is it the Anglican Church, formed by a king to officiate his divorce and re-marriage? I could go on, but there is no point. There is no point at which Christians have had a real consensus about what they believe. And so, the many different little churches have spread around the world, and some have decided to go to war with one another over doctrine or have become seperate entities after the differences became too apparent between them. It becomes clear looking at the history of the churches that there has been no spirit protecting their unity. They are just as much given to internal conflict as are any other outside organization, with no supernatural spirit or shepherd to keep them together. If petty human differences are all that’s needed to split the Bride of Christ apart, it’s all the more evidence that there is no Groom.

  4. Richard Norris
    March 4th, 2009 @ 6:16 pm

    By the way, as it so happens, it seems the amount of people who claim no religious affiliation has more than doubled since 1991. So much for atheism not flourishing.

  5. Kathy
    March 4th, 2009 @ 8:05 pm

    Richard, you failed to mention the Catholic Church, unbroken line of popes since Peter, still standing 2009 years later. All of those other Christian churches were born from the “reformation”. They reformed alright, right into thousands of denominations disagreeing with each other. And the Bride of Christ is the church made of human beings, imperfect. Saying that God doesn’t exist because we are not in perfect union is kind of like saying the intellect doesn’t exist because of all the idiots out there.

  6. Richard Norris
    March 4th, 2009 @ 8:35 pm

    I wasn’t talking about the Pope’s, Kathy, I was talking about the Church. The main protestant faiths broke off of the Catholic Church, demonstrating that the Catholic Church CANNOT keep itself together, despite a long succession of men wearing funny hats. Even earlier than that was the split between the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox church. Your corner of Christianity only came to power by murdering other people who believed differently anyway, and maintained its hegemony over the faith by fear of persecution and Inquisition. Right from the very begining after the death and non-resurrection of Christ there was dissention and “heresy” in the Christian religion. And to point to discrepancies on a stupid web-page… someones not doing any intellectual heavy lifting here.

  7. Richard Norris
    March 4th, 2009 @ 8:50 pm

    Hey, there’s an idea, maybe the atheists should push out everyone who doesn’t agree to a single definition of “atheism”. Then it will be an exclusive group with a well defined dogma that can tell us what to believe! Oh, wait, I think that idea has been tried hundreds of times before…resulting in death.

  8. Poly
    March 4th, 2009 @ 9:14 pm

    Does atheism have distinct sects? Like what ideas would atheists not agree unanimously upon?

  9. Kelly Clark
    March 4th, 2009 @ 10:12 pm

    Atheism is a lack of belief in gods, from the original Greek meaning of “without gods.” That is it. There is nothing more to it. If someone wrote a book titled “Atheism Defined,” it would only be one sentence long.

    Sounds good to me.

    Why don’t self-proclaimed atheists just leave it at that? Save a lot of bandwidth. ;-)

  10. Poly
    March 4th, 2009 @ 10:57 pm

    I think that if atheism means not believing in god(s), that doesn’t mean it does not have/follow a “belief” system at all. From my perspective, it seems they follow what they feel is right, being that relative as it is.

    Therefore, atheism is similar to what I would define as “living in the present”. It does not matter specifically what you believe in regards to “the mystery of life”, as long as you abide bya set code of laws, whether it be your own moral values and ethics, or a state’s legal laws, you are doing what is accepted as right. Isn’t that what religion is all about? Doing what is accepted as right? Religion is a way of life, just like atheism is.

    People would do best to stop discriminating in every aspect, especially religions or lack there of. Respect each others differences, in religion, ways of life, points of views, etc.

    If god exists, using his most commonly attributed features of omniscience and omnipotence, then he would know the “hearts” and “minds” of the atheists because (s)he was the one who created them in the first place (as the story goes).

    If this is true, then the compassionate, always forgiving God would still love the atheists as they are, even if they don’t believe in him(her). This God’s love for them is unconditional as in the relationship of the Creator and it’s creation, Father and son, Mother and daughter, etc. Those who preach this God is true, and are against any “creation of God”, they are basically a hypocrite or ignorant.

    Now, the vengeful God obviously would have some issues with this. This vengeful God is seen in all the religions that refer to atheists as infidels, demonic, satanic, blasphemy, or any of the derogatory names. These religions are a problem within themselves for being so “self-centered” and discriminative towards outsiders of the religion. I refer to these as arrogant egotistical religions, and I have a hard time developing any type of respect or compassion for them.

    There are many types of “Gods” out there, and in some religions they are not even referred to necessarily as a supernatural god, but more of an unexplained but beautiful mystery that is embraced. This is where I get confused about atheists. Do they embrace the beauty of life, and just not name that “beauty” a god, or do they just accept life for what it is currently known by and see no “beauty” in it?

    Religion sees the mystery of life in many ways; through beauty and awe and fascination, but there is also the view of fear, like some of the major religions.

    One way religions maintain a “control” over the members is through fear. Christians fear satan and going to hell. However, there are some that do “good” and what is accept as correct just because it comes natural to them and it feels good. That does not refute the fact that some people do good primarily because they fear going to hell.

    Some religions, those which I refer to as philosophical/intellectual religions, incorporate a larger idea of life and god itself that may include reason and respect to other religions, or at least a more compassionate and respectful view of the outsiders of the religion itself. In these religions, the everlasting compassionate God with unconditional love for all exists and “nurtures”.

    If atheists believe is the “present life” and a religious person believes that the present life is (a form/creation of) “god”, then in the eyes of the religious person the atheist believes in “god”, but they just don’t call it by the same name.

    So it seems, that atheists are more focused on the problems of the present life because there are living in the “now”. While some religious people focus a lot in the past and future aspects of life and miss out on the benefits and joy of the present. The atheists are simply embracing the present, while some religious people embrace a combination of the past, present, and future (after life).

    This is not merely an issue of believing in god(s), but also finding a state of mind in order to be comfortable about the mysteries of life itself. One can choose to be religious and paint pictures and read scriptures about it. Just as one can choose to accept the fact that they don’t know and not have any interest in these pictures and scriptures. The lack of interest should not be reason for discrimination; it is merely a difference in a person’s likes and dislikes, which constitutes their personality.

  11. Michael Drake
    March 4th, 2009 @ 11:36 pm

    Someone should immediately send the AA a suitable Manual of Style.

  12. Pikemann Urge
    March 5th, 2009 @ 1:13 am

    Kathy #5: “unbroken line of popes since Peter”

    Dream on, Kathy. And do you suppose the RCC does not have factions? I suppose that it does. Not a bad thing per se.

    Kelly Clark #9, yeah, I think most atheists do think that. But many of them are outspoken against religion and/or its related fanaticism. That activism is a different issue.

    Oh, and Richard, well put.

  13. Samuel Skinner
    March 5th, 2009 @ 2:44 am

    Kathy, Coptics and Orthodox predate the Catholics. And the Church schisms with two popes at one time.

    Atheism is the absence of a belief in any Gods.

    “exists but natural phenomena (matter), that thought is a property or function of matter, and that death irreversibly and totally terminates individual organic units. This ”

    First,this isn’t the AA’s definition, it is the Supreme Courts.

    Second, that is naturalism and lack of an afterlife belief.

  14. pzdummy
    March 5th, 2009 @ 2:58 am

    WE’LL BURY YOU, ATHEISTS!

    i think this will be more effective:

    visit

    http://www.samharris.org/forum/viewthread/11853/

    to see how we WON THE MILLION DOLLAR PARANORMAL CHALLENGE

    and CRUSHED the entire atheist movement…

    and PZ too….

    predict the future too!

    http://groups.google.com/group/alt.music.depeche-mode/browse_thread/thread/a07c0d5d7c986593?ie=UTF-8&q=depeche+mode+nostradamus+enjoy+the+silence+markuze&pli=1

  15. Nile the Jolly
    March 5th, 2009 @ 3:42 am

    As Poly stated in post 10, when the words “doctrine” and “belief” are mentioned in atheism, they refer to some worldly institution. The atheists certainly believe in a cause and they certainly have their ethical human values. The theists like to distort this understanding and regard atheism as another doctrine of metaphysical belief.

    Because most of the world are theists, and that God is a supposedly existent entity is widely accepted, in explaining what atheism is all about, reference needs to be made to God. Otherwise, the theists cannot comprehend what atheists are talking about!

    Therefore, there is no inconsistency in the declaration of the atheists, except for the misinterpretation of the theists.

  16. Kathy
    March 5th, 2009 @ 7:26 am

    Richard, let me see, “funny hats” “inquisition” “intellectual heavy lifting”, yeah, all the usual-ridicule, pointing out faults and belittling the poster.
    The Church still stands regardless of those who don’t believe. Regardless of all the shortcomings of it’s people. Regardless of the divisions within it’s ranks.

  17. Lily
    March 5th, 2009 @ 8:15 am

    The thing that strikes me anew, every time atheists decide to rant, is how superficial their understanding of religion (Christianity, in particular) and human nature is. Although they should know just as well as anyone else that humans are unable to live in perfect harmony, they are surprised by factions in the church?

    Have they never read Corinthians? Galatians? What do they think Paul was doing when he scolded those churches for their arguments and their factions and cliques? When have humans ever lived in perfect harmony? There is that pesky thing we call free will, which God takes far more seriously than some humans, apparently.

    Coptics and Orthodox do not “predate” Catholics. There is only one Church. It grew all over the Greco Roman world and was particularly vibrant in Egypt and most of Africa, really. Different peoples with different cultures and customs were absolutely bound to develop distinctive styles of worship. But it is all one Church. There are some 22 or so distinct Eastern Catholic Churches that are in full communion with the Catholic Church, Coptics included.

    So while we hate division and recognize it as a scandal, there is not nearly as much of it world-wide as one might think by looking at the United States. But that is a parochial view of things. The reality is much more complex and interesting.

  18. frustrated (mk)
    March 5th, 2009 @ 10:02 am

    Lily,

    I concur. I do wish there were more questions asked and less accusations thrown. I have asked numerous questions about atheism, trying to keep an open mind and gain insight into something that is foreign to me, and rarely lumped all atheists together or attacked them as a group. It would be nice to receive the same courtesy. I am fully capable of admitting that “I do not know”, rather than acting as if I do and insulting those that actually do.

    Oh well, I guess there is fault to be found on the other side as well when it comes to “practicing what is preached”.

  19. Lily
    March 5th, 2009 @ 10:43 am

    Hi mk! Where have you been? I have a book for your book club (and it is short, too!) God and the new atheism : a critical response to Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens by John F. Haught (Louisville, Ky., Westminster John Knox Press, 2008) It is a very nice little book that calmly vivisects the unholy trinity and its amazingly reductionist view of religion. I just went out to see if it has been reviewed on Amazon and, predictably, the atheists don’t get it and accuse this world-class scholar of not knowing what he is talking about. Oy veh!

  20. frustrated (mk)
    March 5th, 2009 @ 12:13 pm

    Hey Lily,

    There are 7 of us living in this house and 6 of us came down with the stomach flu. Still waiting on the hubby. 2 are still recouping. Also the son that doesn’t live with us, his mother in law and father in law came down with it. It’s a nasty bug…lasts 3 or 4 days…Haven’t even seen a computer in over 8 days…it was nice to be missed.

    That book sounds awesome. IF I ever finish TOB. Man that book is taking forever, but there is SO much, even in the “easy” version!

    Remind me of the title in a month or so.

  21. Kathy
    March 5th, 2009 @ 3:54 pm

    Lily, well said!

  22. skeptimal
    March 5th, 2009 @ 6:04 pm

    mk said: “I concur. I do wish there were more questions asked and less accusations thrown.”

    I agree. I wish Raving Theist wasn’t so irrationally hostile to a group he was once an outspoken proponent of.

  23. Samuel Skinner
    March 5th, 2009 @ 6:22 pm

    “The thing that strikes me anew, every time atheists decide to rant, is how superficial their understanding of religion (Christianity, in particular) and human nature is. ”

    Although the true faith God doesn’t bother reinforcing it and making it any different from any other? Brilliant!

    “Although they should know just as well as anyone else that humans are unable to live in perfect harmony, they are surprised by factions in the church? ”

    I’m not talking about factionalism- I’m talking about literal fighting, warfare and schisms. You do realize that some worldly institutions have managed to get by without that?

    “There is that pesky thing we call free will, which God takes far more seriously than some humans, apparently.”

    The existence of society is to destroy free will. I’m amazed you didn’t know that. For free will is anarchy- what do you think police, the social contract, social networks and the like exist for?

    Unless you mean free will as an alternative to determinism, which is just silly as it doesn’t exist.

    “There is only one Church.”

    Only if you use a different definition than what is commonly used that is so broad as to include Islam.

    “It is a very nice little book that calmly vivisects the unholy trinity and its amazingly reductionist view of religion.”

    … You mean the kind of religion practiced by most of the worlds population and most of history? Why would they bother attacking that…

    Can you post their arguments here?

    “Oh well, I guess there is fault to be found on the other side as well when it comes to “practicing what is preached”.”

    Perfection isn’t to be found this side of the grave.

    “I concur. I do wish there were more questions asked and less accusations thrown. I have asked numerous questions about atheism, trying to keep an open mind and gain insight into something that is foreign to me, and rarely lumped all atheists together or attacked them as a group.”

    Speak your mind. Technically all theists DO have a commonality, unlike atheism. However, theism is so broad as to be a worthless determiner.

  24. James Stephenson
    March 5th, 2009 @ 7:22 pm

    “So it seems, that atheists are more focused on the problems of the present life because there are living in the “now”.”

    - I suppose that is why Atheists and Secularists are not really that involved in charitable works. I suppose that’s why there are not too many humanist aid organisations working in Africa for instance. The Church is responsible for the greatest amount of giving, voluntary work and aid (apart from government ‘no strings’ aid).

    Studies have shown that the religious in the US give 1.44 times as much money to charitable causes than non-believers. The same relationship is found with voluntary work.

    Virtually every Christian I know is involved in some charitable cause.

    Religious people are very much focused on the now. Maybe they are not always interested in the trendy PC causes of the liberal left – usually causes that don’t require that much sacrifice or hand dirtying. I know many Christians who have given up the comfort of Western life to live in shanty towns helping the poor.

    Of course Atheists will dig their hands deep in their pocket when it comes to Dawkin’s Godless (probably) bus.

    How many Chinese or Russian aid organisations are there? Secular Nations are not that big on the charity thing.

    The religious demonstrably care more about their fellow humans than the non-religious.

    Read it here from an Atheist:

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/matthew_parris/article5400568.ece

  25. James Stephenson
    March 5th, 2009 @ 7:34 pm

    “Unless you mean free will as an alternative to determinism, which is just silly as it doesn’t exist.”

    - Ahh! Another Atheist wants it all ways.

    The Incoherence of the Athist.

    “One of the consequences of their purely materialist view is that all human thought is, at the end of the day, purely a consequence of irrational biochemical forces in the brain, not of created rational spirit rooted in the Logos who is God. Richard Dawkins, who has lately forgotten all about his job of promoting science and instead has become what one wag called “an atheist bag lady screaming at the traffic” in books like The God Delusion, revealed a charming innocence of education concerning this elementary corollary of his philosophical materialism in a recent debate with Irish Independent columnist David Quinn on Ryan Tubridy’s Dublin-based radio show:

    Dawkins: Free will is a very difficult philosophical question and it’s not one that has anything to do with religion, contrary to what Mr. Quinn says…but…

    Quinn: It has an awful lot to do with religion because if there is no God there’s no free will because we are completely phenomena of matter.

    Dawkins: Who says there’s not free will if there is no God? That’s a ridiculous thing to say.

    Quinn: William Provine for one who you quote in your book. I mean I have a quote here from him. “Other scientists, as well, believe the same thing… that everything that goes on in our heads is a product of genes and as you say environment and chemical reactions. That there is no room for free will.” And Richard if you haven’t got to grips with that you seriously need to because many of your colleagues have and they deny outright the existence of free will and they are hardened materialists like yourself.

    Tubridy: Okay. Richard Dawkins, rebut that as you wish.

    Dawkins: I’m not interested in free will…

    …and quickly changed the subject.

    Here’s the first problem guys like Dawkins, Daniel Dennett and the various “New Atheists” face: they have staked their claim on faith in Reason, and most particularly, in Reason vs. Religion. But their dilemma was summarized long ago by another conflicted atheist, JBS Haldane, who observed, “If my mental processes are determined wholly by the motion of atoms in my brain, I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true… and hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms.” In short, they are assuming that the exercise of Reason is an intrinsically free act–in fact, an act that will liberate us from the enslaving chains of Religion–and that it tells us The Truth. But their entire materialist philosophy is founded on the faith that our mental processes are as much a product of blind, irrational and material forces as everything else and therefore no more assured of revealing The Truth than any other chemical process. And many of them, like Dawkins, either have never given this any thought or refuse (freely, I might add) to do so.

    we discussed one facet of the incoherence of atheism, namely its dependence on materialism and naturalism to try to explain away the supernatural. It seems like a pretty promising road at first. The atheist loves to recite little tropes like “Once, people thought thunder was the voice of God. Now we know that it’s caused by discharges of electricity.” And so, we are invited to assume that absolutely everything is equally explicable in terms of material causes.

    The problem is that, as we saw last week, a purely material explanation of the human mind itself means that the human mind is not free, but is merely a result of mindless chemical processes. And we know that thoughts which are merely caused by nature, yet not rooted in a rational soul that is created in the image and likeness of the Reason or Logos of God are valid, at best, only by luck and usually not at all. The proof of this is seen in the way materialists themselves talk: “People who claim to see ghosts are suffering from a chemical imbalance that causes them to see things that aren’t there.” Likewise, most humans argue along the same lines: “He doesn’t believe in capitalism because of a sound reason. He believes in it because he want to keep his money”, “You trust the police because you are a fascist”, “You believe in God because you need a Father figure to keep you safe.” Thoughts which are merely caused by irrational forces but not rooted in Reason are, in short, just electrochemical activity that happens to be going on in a three pound piece of meat behind your eyes. Yet that is what all thought must be according to the atheist, because nature is all there is.

    Now the curious thing is that atheists themselves do not really believe this, if we watch what they do and not merely what they say. For atheist authors like Daniel Dennett and Richard Dawkins do pretty much nothing all day but give lectures and write books like Breaking the Spell and The God Delusion in which they try to persuade people to freely change their minds about belief in God. But if what we call free will and reason are simply illusions (as atheist materialists like William Provine claim) then this a monumental exercise in wasted time.

    Beyond this, however, is the curious fact that atheists do not simply live as though free will and reason are real despite their own rhetoric: they even compound this by getting angry at theists. They do not simply speak like mathematicians coolly concerned about an erroneous miscalculation. They typically write as moralists outraged at evil and even (perish the thought) sin! And so we get the peculiar spectacle of the atheist attempting to say, “La de dah! Religion is completely transparent and soluble to the Rational Mind” as he tries to come up with a completely naturalistic explanation of its origins. Yet, at the same time, the atheist is given to outbursts of anger and rage at “faithheads” and “Godidiots” whose religious beliefs are the source of everything from the Holocaust to long lines at the post office during Christmas. Read virtually any atheist for even a few pages and the anger strikes you in the face like the heat of furnace.

    But here’s the thing: a man like Dawkins (whose expertise is actually in creatures like wasps), does not seem to have any outrage at all for these critters when they lay their eggs in a paralyzed insect and leave their young to eat their way out of the helpless victim. Yet by his own account, the religious impulse is just as much an artifact of blind and purposeless forces as the wasp’s breeding habits. So why all the outrage?

    Moral: One can be a materialist or a moralist, but not both. Most atheists are emphatically both, claiming that religion is a purely natural secretion of the brain, just as insulin is a purely natural secretion of the pancreas. But if religion is a naturalistically evolved epiphenomenon of the brain that can no more be eliminated than the pancreas’ naturalistically evolved tendency to secrete insulin, why get angry at it? Do we berate the modern pancreas for having so much in common with the pancreas of our barbaric ancestors? Why then, are atheists so irritated at ordinary human beings for having brains which, by their own account, cannot resist the impulse to see Somebody at work behind the natural order, just as our (allegedly) foolish ancestors did? Why, it’s almost as though atheists are conscious of a human relationship to some supernatural standard of goodness which other creatures do not share since they lack a free rational soul. ”

    -from Mark Shea

    http://www.holyspiritinteractive.net/columns/markshea/sheavings/57.asp

    http://www.holyspiritinteractive.net/columns/markshea/sheavings/58.asp

    http://www.holyspiritinteractive.net/columns/markshea/sheavings/59.asp

  26. Lily
    March 5th, 2009 @ 8:14 pm

    I cannot tease apart such a mish-mash of vague claims, charges and factual misunderstandings (deliberate?). So I won’t. S. Skinner’s “reply” is basically exhibit A of the atheist’s reductionist mentality. I will take on the two statements I can parse–

    I’m talking about literal fighting, warfare and schisms. You do realize that some worldly institutions have managed to get by without that?

    When, who, what, where, why? What secular institution of the size and scope of either Judaism, Christianity or, even, Islam can you point to as an example?

    “There is only one Church.”

    Only if you use a different definition than what is commonly used that is so broad as to include Islam.

    Sigh. Another seriously reductionist remark that shows not the slightest knowledge of the world he lives in. Muslims worship in Mosques. Jews gather in synagogues, Christians are united in a spiritual body called the Church that is comprised of many local congregations. The Church is universal and encompasses all who have been baptised with water in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and live for, and trust in, Christ for their salvation. So, like we keep pointing out, Sam and other rantin’ atheists don’t have a clue what Christianity teaches. Or any other religion, so far as I can tell.

    It really is time for the “new” atheists to stop burning straw villages and deal with reality. Of course, there is a real danger that reality will kick their collective butts, as it always does when the clueless run up against it, but I consider that a fine outcome. No pain, no gain!!

  27. Kelly Clark
    March 5th, 2009 @ 10:30 pm

    Kelly Clark #9, yeah, I think most atheists do think that. But many of them are outspoken against religion and/or its related fanaticism. That activism is a different issue.

    Yeah. It’s sorta their religion.

  28. Samuel Skinner
    March 6th, 2009 @ 3:08 am

    “Studies have shown that the religious in the US give 1.44 times as much money to charitable causes than non-believers. The same relationship is found with voluntary work.”

    Prove it.

    “Of course Atheists will dig their hands deep in their pocket when it comes to Dawkin’s Godless (probably) bus.”

    Hey, when you don’t spend the money on cathedrals you have alot less.

    “How many Chinese or Russian aid organisations are there? Secular Nations are not that big on the charity thing.”

    Truely, 2nd world nations are a good barometer. Hw about we go with LE which would show effectiveness? That’s funny- religiousity went up at the same time LE went down in Russia.

    “Read it here from an Atheist:”

    BS. Botswana is proof positive of the way foward- Unity. Industry. Healthcare. Public Works.

    “William Provine for one who you quote in your book. I mean I have a quote here from him. ”

    Arguments from authority carry no weight for logical proofs.

    “But their entire materialist philosophy is founded on the faith that our mental processes are as much a product of blind, irrational and material forces as everything else and therefore no more assured of revealing The Truth than any other chemical process. And many of them, like Dawkins, either have never given this any thought or refuse (freely, I might add) to do so. ”

    Thats great except for one thing- evolution is blind and irrational. Opps! GI,GO.

    “And so, we are invited to assume that absolutely everything is equally explicable in terms of material causes.”

    Show something that isn’t.

    ” at best, only by luck and usually not at all. ”

    Unless there was something we could check them against. Something constant and external to the self. Something shared by all… something that starts with an R and ends with a Y.

    “The proof of this is seen in the way materialists themselves talk: “People who claim to see ghosts are suffering from a chemical imbalance that causes them to see things that aren’t there.” ”

    You do realize this is why drugs work, right?

    “Likewise, most humans argue along the same lines:”

    They are fallacies- ad hominums. The merit of ideas are independent of their speaker.

    “Yet that is what all thought must be according to the atheist, because nature is all there is.”

    Would you like a lobotomy? After all, if there is more than this meat as you so elegantly put, you won’t mind its loss?

    “But if what we call free will and reason are simply illusions (as atheist materialists like William Provine claim) then this a monumental exercise in wasted time.”

    Free will does not mean people are able to change their minds. Free will means that people’s ability to think is exempt from casulty. I find that a load of garbage. How can you claim that thunking stands entirely independant of nature and nurture? If you claim the soul, you haven’t thought, for the soul is nature!

    Determinism simply means that everything is the result of previous causes.

    “They do not simply speak like mathematicians coolly concerned about an erroneous miscalculation. ”

    I have never loathed Trek more than this were moment. Logic and emotion are NOT incompatible. Logic is goal answering behavior- emotion is goal deciding behavior!

    “They typically write as moralists outraged at evil and even (perish the thought) sin! ”

    You need to read about the Euthyphro dilemma.

    “Read virtually any atheist for even a few pages and the anger strikes you in the face like the heat of furnace.”

    Speaking as someone who has actually experienced the heat of a furnace (actually a kiln), your anaolgy is highly flawed. The heat is so intense…

    On topic, you (again) think that emotion is bad.

    “So why all the outrage?”

    The wasp can’t be any different- people CAN. The wasps mind is extremely narrowly programed, while a human mind is more open source.

    “But if religion is a naturalistically evolved epiphenomenon of the brain that can no more be eliminated than the pancreas’ naturalistically evolved tendency to secrete insulin, why get angry at it?”

    Fallacy of appeal to nature AND a flawed analogy. A pancreas does nt change if you tell it to, while pther people can.

    “Why, it’s almost as though atheists are conscious of a human relationship to some supernatural standard of goodness which other creatures do not share since they lack a free rational soul. ””

    Except that many people treat their dogs that way.

    “I cannot tease apart such a mish-mash of vague claims, charges and factual misunderstandings (deliberate?).”

    Traditionally, people use proof when claiming their opponent is an idiot or dishonest. You, of course, will not.

    “When, who, what, where, why? What secular institution of the size and scope of either Judaism, Christianity or, even, Islam can you point to as an example?”

    Simple. Iceland has had over 1200 years of peace and a democratic tradition. Yeah, it is a single island- divine intervention has a way of leveling the playing field.

    Why does scope matter? Is God too incompetant to handle each additional soul or does he not bother to help his chosen faith despite interfering with the tribes of Israel so often that there are whole books dedicated to it?

    “Muslims worship in Mosques. Jews gather in synagogues, ”

    Islam- they have different buzzwords!

    “Christians are united in a spiritual body called the Church that is comprised of many local congregations. The Church is universal and encompasses all who have been baptised with water in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and live for, and trust in, Christ for their salvation. So, like we keep pointing out, Sam and other rantin’ atheists don’t have a clue what Christianity teaches. Or any other religion, so far as I can tell.”

    … Great. Want to tell me why that sounds only exactly the same as what the Muslims say about THEIR faith?

    You may think I do not understand Christianity, but you almost certainly do NOT understand Islam. Your condesending attitude is priceless considering your own ignorance truely is an inspiration to behold.

    “Yeah. It’s sorta their religion.”

    It is an ideology called antitheism.

  29. Pikemann Urge
    March 6th, 2009 @ 5:07 am

    James #25 thank you for referring us to that particular interview. Having listened to it for myself I am interested to note how Dawkins comes out fine compared to how you portrayed him.

    I am also sorry that Quinn did not have anything of substance to argue with. He is fully of hot air and rhetoric.

  30. Nile the Jolly
    March 6th, 2009 @ 6:53 am

    “Muslims worship in Mosques. Jews gather in synagogues, ”

    “Christians are united in a spiritual body called the Church that is comprised of many local congregations. The Church is universal”

    Muslims think the contrary. According to them, Christianity envolves a hierarchical body of clergy who dictate the rules whereas Islam leaves the believer with his Koran and Allah which is One, and therefore, Islam is THE universal religion.

    Actually, for Muslims, Judaism and Christianity are the distorted versions by the people of the original word of Allah.

  31. Lily
    March 6th, 2009 @ 7:44 am

    Nile:

    In this context, what Islam believes doesn’t matter. We have a rather belligerent, less-than-knowlegeable atheist making wild claims and, unfortunately, he is wrong. I don’t really care if others, like Muslims, get it wrong too. They have an excuse, since they haven’t grown up in a majority Christian culture, where what we believe is readily available to everyone.

    English isn’t even your native language but I bet you wouldn’t call a nation “a worldly” institution. He also thinks that what I described about Christianity sounds just like Islam. If you want, you can tackle that one.

    We need more quality atheists like you!

  32. frustrated (mk)
    March 6th, 2009 @ 9:53 am

    Hey, when you don’t spend the money on cathedrals you have alot less..

    Huh? We spent all of our money on Cathedrals so OF COURSE we have tons of money to give to charity…yeah, the very definition of sound reasoning…good Lord, protect me from fools…

    “And so, we are invited to assume that absolutely everything is equally explicable in terms of material causes.”
    Show something that isn’t

    How about the fact that you can make that statement?
    Telling me it’s chemical tells me the “process” but does nothing to speak to the CAUSE.

    On topic, you (again) think that emotion is bad..

    No we don’t. We just recognize that it is not a replacement for reason and that making decisions based on emotion is dangerous.

    Would you like a lobotomy? After all, if there is more than this meat as you so elegantly put, you won’t mind its loss?.

    The metaphysical, unseen, is expressed through physical means on this plane. The brain is an organ that allows the soul to express itself in a physical way. Sometimes organs malfunction. No one is denying this. If the arm is broken, does it affect the eye? No. If the brain is broken it does not affect the soul? No. The soul contains the brain. The brain does not contain the soul. When we no longer exist on this plane, in this world, we will no longer need our physical attributes to “work” in this world. The brain is a what. The soul is a who.

    The wasp can’t be any different- people CAN. The wasps mind is extremely narrowly programed, while a human mind is more open source.

    No kidding. The question is “WHY”?

    Except that many people treat their dogs that way.

    But dogs don’t treat people that way, and that was the point…

    Simple. Iceland has had over 1200 years of peace and a democratic tradition. Yeah, it is a single island- divine intervention has a way of leveling the playing field.

    I believe the key phrase was SIZE and SCOPE…hmmmmm….let’s see…2.1 billion Christians world wide…Iceland? 230,000 on an island. Yeah, that was a fair comparison…not.

    Why does scope matter?

    You’re kidding right? If you don’t understand the point that the Church is HUGE and SPREAD OUT yet still united, then I give up…

    … Great. Want to tell me why that sounds only exactly the same as what the Muslims say about THEIR faith?

    Ummmm…because it’s what the Muslims believe about their faith? You’re slipping…if it’s possible to go any further down that it…the original statement was about the Church, capital “C”. You countered with the church containing Islam and Judaism, and Lily simply clarified that she was talking about the CHURCH as in the Catholic Church with a capital “C” which is how we refer to our selves. Then you come back with well the Muslims think that they are a “church”…so who said they didn’t? Seriously, try to keep up…

    You may think I do not understand Christianity, but you almost certainly do NOT understand Islam. Your condesending attitude is priceless considering your own ignorance truely is an inspiration to behold.

    And the Muslim faith was being discussed where? Oh that’s right, WE were discussing the Catholic Church and somehow YOU keep bringing up Islam…and then accusing us of not understanding Muslims…unbelievable!

  33. frustrated (mk)
    March 6th, 2009 @ 9:56 am

    We need more quality atheists like you!

    AMEN!

  34. Samuel Skinner
    March 7th, 2009 @ 2:34 am

    “We have a rather belligerent, less-than-knowlegeable atheist making wild claims and, unfortunately, he is wrong.”

    And you are countering them- oh wait, you aren’t.

    “I don’t really care if others, like Muslims, get it wrong too. ”

    … except that is the position Muslims take about Christianity. You are going to need more than assertions to back your position.

    “They have an excuse, since they haven’t grown up in a majority Christian culture, where what we believe is readily available to everyone.”

    What does “Christian culture” even mean? If I can find it in Albania as well does it no longer count?

    ” I bet you wouldn’t call a nation “a worldly” institution.”

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/worldly
    1 : of, relating to, or devoted to this world and its pursuits rather than to religion or spiritual affairs

    Concession accepted.

    “Huh? We spent all of our money on Cathedrals so OF COURSE we have tons of money to give to charity…yeah, the very definition of sound reasoning…good Lord, protect me from fools…”

    Humor must be a lost art. The joke was if you don’t contribute at church, of course you have more loose change. Maybe I should bring up opportunity cost to you?

    “How about the fact that you can make that statement?
    Telling me it’s chemical tells me the “process” but does nothing to speak to the CAUSE.”

    I can prove negative statements now?

    Also, I have no idea what on Earth the second statement means.

    “The metaphysical, unseen, is expressed through physical means on this plane.”

    So it is a completely unfalsible idea. Which are by definition worthless.

    “The brain is an organ that allows the soul to express itself in a physical way.”

    Occum’s Razor suggests this is completely unnecesary.

    “If the brain is broken it does not affect the soul?”

    Except that means that the soul is completely seperate from personality and memory as these can both be targeted individually. So unless you are saying that we can seperate the soul, that isn’t a conherant stand.

    “The soul is a who.”

    We can make people disassicated from their bodies with electromagnetism. Are you suggesting the soul is electro-magnetic?

    “No kidding. The question is “WHY”?”

    Because we have complex enough brains. Chimpanzees also show moral behavior, as well other animals.

    “But dogs don’t treat people that way, and that was the point…”

    Ever heard of kids raised by wolves?

    “I believe the key phrase was SIZE and SCOPE…hmmmmm….let’s see…2.1 billion Christians world wide…Iceland? 230,000 on an island. Yeah, that was a fair comparison…not.”

    “You’re kidding right? If you don’t understand the point that the Church is HUGE and SPREAD OUT yet still united, then I give up…”

    Except the church was supposed to be founded by the Son of God himself- a God who continuously intervened in both books of the bible.

    Or do you think that the one true faith didn’t get any benefit from God, despite their constant claim of miracles through history?

    “and Lily simply clarified that she was talking about the CHURCH as in the Catholic Church with a capital “C” which is how we refer to our selves…so who said they didn’t? ”

    Lily said
    “Muslims worship in Mosques. Jews gather in synagogues, The Church is universal and encompasses all who have been baptised with water in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and live for, and trust in, Christ for their salvation. So, like we keep pointing out, Sam and other rantin’ atheists don’t have a clue what Christianity teaches.”

    “And the Muslim faith was being discussed where? Oh that’s right, WE were discussing the Catholic Church and somehow YOU keep bringing up Islam…and then accusing us of not understanding Muslims…unbelievable!”

    See above… again. Maybe next time you might read the whole post of the person I am responding to- it might make your answers more relevant.

  35. Pikemann Urge
    March 7th, 2009 @ 3:45 am

    Samuel, I don’t mind at all those who have a naturalist view and who leave it at that. But I go further: IMHO the mind is more powerful that we know; and there are certainly phenomena which are not described by current physics.

    As to whether you should care what I think is up to you!

  36. frustrated (mk)
    March 7th, 2009 @ 7:35 am

    Samuel,

    LILY: Coptics and Orthodox do not “predate” Catholics. There is only one Church. It grew all over the Greco Roman world and was particularly vibrant in Egypt and most of Africa, really. Different peoples with different cultures and customs were absolutely bound to develop distinctive styles of worship. But it is all one Church. There are some 22 or so distinct Eastern Catholic Churches that are in full communion with the Catholic Church, Coptics included.

    LILY: “There is only one Church.”

    At this point, YOU said:

    Only if you use a different definition than what is commonly used that is so broad as to include Islam.

    To which LILY said:

    “Muslims worship in Mosques. Jews gather in synagogues, The Church is universal and encompasses all who have been baptised with water in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and live for, and trust in, Christ for their salvation. So, like we keep pointing out, Sam and other rantin’ atheists don’t have a clue what Christianity teaches.”

    THE POINT BEING THAT BY THE WORD CHURCH, SHE WAS TALKING ABOUT THE CATHOLIC CHURCH…

    Maybe it is YOU that should read the entire post! She only said the WORD Muslim to show that THEY DO NOT worship in a CHURCH. She only brought up the WORD Judaism to show that Jews DO NOT worship in a church!

  37. frustrated (mk)
    March 7th, 2009 @ 8:34 am

    Samuel,

    LILY: “They have an excuse, since they haven’t grown up in a majority Christian culture, where what we believe is readily available to everyone.”

    YOU: What does “Christian culture” even mean? If I can find it in Albania as well does it no longer count?

    Seriously dude, what does that question even mean? If you grew up in a culture where Christianity was was allowed to be practiced openly, then you would have been exposed to it. If not, then it would stand to reason that you wouldn’t know anything about it, and would not be held to the same standards (ie: being a believer) of salvation as those exposed to Christianity.

    LILY: ” I bet you wouldn’t call a nation “a worldly” institution.”

    INSTITUTION: (also from Merriam Webster…) 2 a: a significant practice, relationship, or organization IN a society or culture

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/worldly
    1 : of, relating to, or devoted to this world and its pursuits rather than to religion or spiritual affairs

    You gave the definition of the word WORLDLY. This is the problem with your thinking. No one said that Iceland wasn’t part of the world. Think man! INSTITUTION is the word we are looking at here. Worldly is an adjective. INSTITUTION is the noun. Hence defining the adjective is a little pointless, no? That would be like giving the definition of the word red to prove that a red ball is not round…The word institution is defined as something IN a society, not a society itself…

    MK “Huh? We spent all of our money on Cathedrals so OF COURSE we have tons of money to give to charity…yeah, the very definition of sound reasoning…good Lord, protect me from fools…”

    Humor must be a lost art. The joke was if you don’t contribute at church, of course you have more loose change. Maybe I should bring up opportunity cost to you?

    YOU, not I, made the statement: “Hey, when you don’t spend the money on cathedrals you have alot less.”

    Show me again how that makes any sense. If you didn’t spend the money on Cathedrals you should have a lot MORE, not a lot less…Humor is not a lost art, some people are just not artists.

    YOU said: “And so, we are invited to assume that absolutely everything is equally explicable in terms of material causes.”
    Show something that isn’t

    I said:

    “How about the fact that you can make that statement?
    Telling me it’s chemical tells me the “process” but does nothing to speak to the CAUSE.”

    YOU said:

    I can prove negative statements now?

    Also, I have no idea what on Earth the second statement means.

    See, here’s the thing…sarcasm only works if you are keeping up with the conversation…NOBODY asked you to PROVE anything. Negative or otherwise. You asked me to show you something that didn’t have a material cause. I said the fact that you are aware that things have material causes is an example. (Of course as a Christian, I believe that this DID have a material cause and that cause is what we call GOD) What caused the ability to HAVE that thought. What makes you (she says wondering if it’s true) reasonable??? What MATERIAL CAUSE gave man his ability to reason. By your own reasoning, there must have been a material cause…which goes against atheistic thinking which says that there is no “Original” material cause….

    If you tell me that your faculty of reasoning is a chemical reaction, I am saying that while that might explain HOW your brain works, it DOES NOT explain the material CAUSE of the FACULTY!

    MK: “The metaphysical, unseen, is expressed through physical means on this plane.”

    YOU: So it is a completely unfalsible idea. Which are by definition worthless.

    If I were you, I would leave “definitions” alone. You don’t do so well with them.

    MK: “The brain is an organ that allows the soul to express itself in a physical way.”

    YOU: Occum’s Razor suggests this is completely unnecesary.

    What? Is Occum’s Razor a phrase that you needed to use in a sentence today? Say the secret word and win a thousand dollars? What in heavens name does Occum’s Razor have to do with anything????

    “If the brain is broken it does not affect the soul?”

    YOU: Except that means that the soul is completely seperate from personality and memory as these can both be targeted individually. So unless you are saying that we can seperate the soul, that isn’t a conherant stand.

    Do you mean the soul itself can be separated? Like split in half? Or that it can be separated from the body? If you mean the latter, then Duh! What do you think death is?

    MK: “The soul is a who.”

    YOU: We can make people disassicated from their bodies with electromagnetism. Are you suggesting the soul is electro-magnetic?

    Honestly, if you keep making leaps in logic like that, you’re going to end up hurting yourself…All that this would prove is that the soul can be separated from the body. Which is what I have been saying all along. It says nothing to the soul being electro magnetic. What do they teach you people in school these days??? Our bodies most definitely are part of who we are. But the soul, is the driving force. The body can be broken. The soul is eternal. The body can die. The soul cannot. Whether it is electro magentics or death, the soul lives on, even if the body dies…

    YOU: The wasp can’t be any different- people CAN. The wasps mind is extremely narrowly programed, while a human mind is more open source.

    MK: “No kidding. The question is “WHY”?”

    YOU: Because we have complex enough brains. Chimpanzees also show moral behavior, as well other animals.

    So which is it? First you say that the wasp must be a wasp and has no choice, whereas humans do. Humans are not animals, being your point. Then you say that chimpanzees show moral behavior, implying that animals are NOT different from human beings. I realize you think you are covering all of your bases here, but you’re really just contradicting yourself. The chimpanzee, IF it is making moral decisions, is STILL just doing what chimpanzees do. When a chimpanzee can read shakespeare, build a pyramid, and give a closing argument in a court of law, you can get back to me. Otherwise, comparing the moral standards of a chimpanzee to the rational faculties of human beings tells me that you are closer in reasoning ability to the chimp than to man.

    Except that many people treat their dogs that way.

    YOU SAID THIS IN RESPONSE TO: “Why, it’s almost as though atheists are conscious of a human relationship to some supernatural standard of goodness which other creatures do not share since they lack a free rational soul. ””

    The implication being that some people treat their dogs as if they were human beings, as if they had a free rational soul.

    I responded that while people might indeed treat their dogs as if they had a rational soul, this is because humans DO have a rational soul. Dogs however do not treat people as if they have a rational soul, because they do not possess the capability of doing so. They DO NOT have a rational soul, and therefore cannot treat human beings in ANY rational way.

    When wolves raise children, it is not due to a rational thought process. It is due to instinct.

    MK: “I believe the key phrase was SIZE and SCOPE…hmmmmm….let’s see…2.1 billion Christians world wide…Iceland? 230,000 on an island. Yeah, that was a fair comparison…not.”

    “You’re kidding right? If you don’t understand the point that the Church is HUGE and SPREAD OUT yet still united, then I give up…”

    YOU: Except the church was supposed to be founded by the Son of God himself- a God who continuously intervened in both books of the bible.
    *
    Or do you think that the one true faith didn’t get any benefit from God, despite their constant claim of miracles through history?

    Maybe it’s me, but I fail to see what the Church being universal and united has to do with whether or not it was founded by God. The reason it has lasted so long is BECAUSE it was founded by God.

    This whole question seems to be above your pay grade. First you define the word worldly, ignoring the word institution. Then you say that it can’t be a worldly institution of great scope, because we claim it was created and protected by God. You need to clarify in your head just exactly what is meant by the phrase worldly institution, because you obviously have no clue.

  38. Nile the Jolly
    March 7th, 2009 @ 2:46 pm

    mk: it seems institution may mean society also: Your definition is under 3a. Definition 3b. says, an established society or corporation esp. of a public character.

  39. Lily
    March 7th, 2009 @ 5:26 pm

    The dicitionary is using the word “society” in its original meaning (or at least the one closest to its Latin root) which has the meaning of an association of the “like-minded”. That is why one can speak of musical societies (people who like music) or horticultural societies (people who like gardening). These are normal, colloquial uses. To refer to them as institutions is not normal usage and would not be understood. If they get old enough and well-established enough, they might qualify as institutions! But “institution” can never refer to a nation.

  40. frustrated (mk)
    March 7th, 2009 @ 11:18 pm

    Nile,

    I stand corrected. But I still say that a Worldly Institution is NOT a nation. And I think every one except for Samuel would say the same thing. Besides, he was being just a little too snarky…

    But thank you for pointing that out.

  41. frustrated (mk)
    March 7th, 2009 @ 11:19 pm

    Ahhhh, and then of course I read Lily’s after I posted to Niles….so there you have it…

    I no longer stand corrected. I think I’ll sit now.

  42. frustrated (mk)
    March 7th, 2009 @ 11:20 pm

    It doesn’t matter anyway, as I spent about 45 minutes putting that post together and Samuel has disappeared off the face of the earth. Which is why we usually “test” each other before investing any serious Q and A with newbies. Oh well…

  43. Lily
    March 7th, 2009 @ 11:52 pm

    See?! That’s what you get for being nice to everyone. ;)

    You’d be surprised how much time and mental fatigue you would save, if you would just join us (rhymes with) witches and not waste time with manners.

  44. Samuel Skinner
    March 8th, 2009 @ 1:51 am

    “Samuel, I don’t mind at all those who have a naturalist view and who leave it at that. But I go further: IMHO the mind is more powerful that we know; and there are certainly phenomena which are not described by current physics.”

    Mind is more powerful than what we know? That is just generic enough not to mean anything. Same goes with things not described by modern physics.

    “Sam and other rantin’ atheists don’t have a clue what Christianity teaches.”

    THE POINT BEING THAT BY THE WORD CHURCH, SHE WAS TALKING ABOUT THE CATHOLIC CHURCH…

    Maybe it is YOU that should read the entire post! She only said the WORD Muslim to show that THEY DO NOT worship in a CHURCH. She only brought up the WORD Judaism to show that Jews DO NOT worship in a church!”

    First, she said Christianity. Secondly, she was using an entirely different definition of Church than you where- not the physical place, but…
    2: the clergy or officialdom of a religious body
    3often capitalized : a body or organization of religious believers: as a: the whole body of Christians b: denomination c: congregation
    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/church

    “If you grew up in a culture where Christianity was was allowed to be practiced openly, then you would have been exposed to it.”

    Theology=/ Christian culture.

    “The word institution is defined as something IN a society, not a society itself…”

    That is entirely irrelevant to what we were talking about.

    “Show me again how that makes any sense. If you didn’t spend the money on Cathedrals you should have a lot MORE, not a lot less…Humor is not a lost art, some people are just not artists.”

    Typo. In the first sentance it should be more not less.

    “What MATERIAL CAUSE gave man his ability to reason.”

    Do you mean the process that resulted in the ability to reason (social evolution and sexual selection), the process that resulted means we can reason (frontal cortex) or the method that it works out by? The last I can’t explain- partly due to a lack of knowledge, patily due to the fact that an explanation would excede your bandwith and partially because it isn’t my job.

    You see, the ability to reason is not only found in humans- Chimpanzees are capable of thinking out what others POV is. Crows have figured out how to exploit stop/walk signs in order to crack nuts.

    As for “not my job”, the rationale I am giving is refered to as God of the Gaps.

    “By your own reasoning, there must have been a material cause…which goes against atheistic thinking which says that there is no “Original” material cause….”

    Than you don’t understand materialism. After all, energy is included in materialism even though it is material.

    And if you are refering to the first cause argument, my current stance is to blame it on HAB’s Rosa Luxemburg.

    “If you tell me that your faculty of reasoning is a chemical reaction, I am saying that while that might explain HOW your brain works, it DOES NOT explain the material CAUSE of the FACULTY!”

    Oh, the cause of why people can reason? Simple. Human ancestors lived in social groups and the ability to think logically gave an advantage to out manuvering rivals and mating. This trait feed off itself like peacocks feathers. Eventually it reached its current point where it could not continue to increase in complexity because the additional brain matter would increase the odds of death in child birth, fluctutating around the current size we have now.

    Sure, it is incomplete, but it beats “God did it” as an explanation because it can be tested, proved false and refined.

    “If I were you, I would leave “definitions” alone. You don’t do so well with them. ”

    Which doesn’t answer my question at all. You just love ad hominums don’t you? Are you going to ever answer why we should adopt ideas about the nature of reality that cannot be tested? Remember, there are an infinite number that belong to this cateogry and most are contradictory to one another.

    MK: “The brain is an organ that allows the soul to express itself in a physical way.”

    YOU: Occum’s Razor suggests this is completely unnecesary.

    What? Is Occum’s Razor a phrase that you needed to use in a sentence today? Say the secret word and win a thousand dollars? What in heavens name does Occum’s Razor have to do with anything????

    Occum’s Razor is the principle that the simplest explanation that has the best predictive power is the correct one. Since my explanation is simpler and has the best (or tied) it is the one we go with.

    The fact I had to spell out a basic principle of logical argumentation for you was not encouraging. Keep going- lets see how many fallacies you can rack up today.

    “Do you mean the soul itself can be separated? Like split in half? Or that it can be separated from the body? If you mean the latter, then Duh! What do you think death is? ”

    The former. You can see it happen if you cut the Corpus Callosumin half. Since the soul is supposed to be indivisible it is falsified by the observed behavior of individuals who have undergone the procedure.

    “Honestly, if you keep making leaps in logic like that, you’re going to end up hurting yourself…All that this would prove is that the soul can be separated from the body. Which is what I have been saying all along. It says nothing to the soul being electro magnetic. What do they teach you people in school these days??? Our bodies most definitely are part of who we are. But the soul, is the driving force. The body can be broken. The soul is eternal. The body can die. The soul cannot. Whether it is electro magentics or death, the soul lives on, even if the body dies…”

    I’m only following the logic of what you say.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070823141057.htm

    My mistake- this didn’t require electromagnetism. That would be causing visions. This just required… actually, all they needed was to disorientate the person.

    “First you say that the wasp must be a wasp and has no choice, whereas humans do. ”

    Insects tend to top out at 1.2 million neurons.
    The human brain has 100 billion neurons.

    That is 10000 times more. That might have a bit of an effect.

    “Humans are not animals, being your point. ”

    Humans ARE animals. The only difference between us and the rest of the kingdom is our incredible success.

    “When a chimpanzee can read shakespeare, build a pyramid, and give a closing argument in a court of law, you can get back to me. ”

    Illiterate people aren’t human?
    Termites are human?
    Lawyers are human?

    You seem to be under the mistaken impression these make you human- here’s a hint- have you done any of these activities? NO! They were done by other people. Humanity has had 60 billion people- by chance we’d get people able to do these at the least compared to chimps and the like who haven’t. Not to mention that all this are post- agricultural revolution.

    And finally, chimps don’t have vocal cords that work as well as humans so they wouldn’t be able to give a speech.

    “Otherwise, comparing the moral standards of a chimpanzee to the rational faculties of human beings tells me that you are closer in reasoning ability to the chimp than to man.”

    I’m comparing moral to moral, not moral to reason- that would be apples to oranges.

    As for being similar to chimps… we are. Closest living relative.

    “I responded that while people might indeed treat their dogs as if they had a rational soul, this is because humans DO have a rational soul. Dogs however do not treat people as if they have a rational soul, because they do not possess the capability of doing so. They DO NOT have a rational soul, and therefore cannot treat human beings in ANY rational way.”

    You are asserting all this. Care to offer any proof because simple assertions do not qualify.

    “When wolves raise children, it is not due to a rational thought process. It is due to instinct. ”

    As opposed to humans who only are willing to raise children because they are programmed to like children and want kids? I fail to see the difference.

    “Maybe it’s me, but I fail to see what the Church being universal and united has to do with whether or not it was founded by God. The reason it has lasted so long is BECAUSE it was founded by God. ”

    So you believe than that the Jews are the One True Faith? Or maybe the Roseacrutions?

    “This whole question seems to be above your pay grade. First you define the word worldly, ignoring the word institution. Then you say that it can’t be a worldly institution of great scope, because we claim it was created and protected by God. You need to clarify in your head just exactly what is meant by the phrase worldly institution, because you obviously have no clue.”

    Are you familiar with the term “red herring”? None of that detrats from my point. Namely, that the church had problems that it wouldn’t have if God had created and protected it.

    You know, like this:
    http://www.news.com.au/story/0,27574,25141510-401,00.html

    “I stand corrected. But I still say that a Worldly Institution is NOT a nation.”

    Fine, I’ll us the althing if that will make you stop your nitpicking.

    “It doesn’t matter anyway, as I spent about 45 minutes putting that post together and Samuel has disappeared off the face of the earth. Which is why we usually “test” each other before investing any serious Q and A with newbies. Oh well…”

    ? You have a really short attention span.

    “You’d be surprised how much time and mental fatigue you would save, if you would just join us (rhymes with) witches and not waste time with manners.”

    If you are going to go and aim for assholeness, just make your answers in blocks and save them to word.

  45. Pikemann Urge
    March 8th, 2009 @ 2:36 am

    Samuel: “As for being similar to chimps… we are. Closest living relative.”

    Hm? I thought it was tigers.

  46. frustrated (mk)
    March 8th, 2009 @ 7:15 am

    Samuel…

    You’re Killin’ me here…you really are…right over the edge I’m goin’….

    She was NOT talking about Christianity…she was talking about the CATHOLIC church…I know this because she used the word CATHOLIC…YOU claimed that the Catholic Church was predated by the Coptic Church…

    LILY: Coptics and Orthodox do not “predate” CATHOLICS. There is only one Church. It grew all over the Greco Roman world and was particularly vibrant in Egypt and most of Africa, really. Different peoples with different cultures and customs were absolutely bound to develop distinctive styles of worship. But it is all one “C”hurch. There are some 22 or so distinct Eastern CATHOLIC Churches that are in full communion with the CATHOLIC “C”hurch, Coptics included.

    Maybe it is YOU that should read the entire post! She only said the WORD Muslim to show that THEY DO NOT worship in a CHURCH. She only brought up the WORD Judaism to show that Jews DO NOT worship in a church!”

    First, she said Christianity. Secondly, she was using an entirely different definition of Church than you where- not the physical place, but…
    2: the clergy or officialdom of a religious body
    3often capitalized : a body or organization of religious believers: as a: the whole body of Christians b: denomination c: congregation
    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/church

    I can’t tell if you are being purposely obtuse, if you only 13 years old, or if you sincerely are dense.

    Let’s go really slow and see if that helps.

    Lily…blah blah blah the CHURCH.

    You…blah blah blah includes Muslims and Jews.

    Lily…no, Muslims and Jews don’t worship in a CHURCH. They worship in a Mosque and a Synagogue. By CHURCH I mean the CATHOLIC CHURCH. The UNIVERSAL CATHOLIC CHURCH.

    You…the CATHOLIC CHURCH is predated by the Coptic blah blah blah

    Lily…NO IT ISN’T.

    Which is why Lily then said that you know nothing about Christianity.

    All Catholics ARE Christian. The Catholic Church considers ALL Christians as part of the UNIVERSAL (Meaning Catholic Church) but says that they are not in FULL Communion with the “C”hurch. If you are a Christian, you still belong to the BODY of the CHURCH, (which does NOT mean building) but you are NOT in COMMUNION with her.

    If you are Jewish or Muslim you do NOT belong to the BODY of the CHURCH.

  47. frustrated (mk)
    March 8th, 2009 @ 7:18 am

    “The word institution is defined as something IN a society, not a society itself…”

    That is entirely irrelevant to what we were talking about.

    Reaaaallllyyyy….? Then why did you bring it up? You are the one that said Iceland was a worldly institution and then tried to prove it by defining the descriptive word instead of the noun.

    Or is it only irrelevant because it proves you wrong????

    A Nation IS a society. An institution is IN a society.

  48. frustrated (mk)
    March 8th, 2009 @ 7:28 am

    “Do you mean the soul itself can be separated? Like split in half? Or that it can be separated from the body? If you mean the latter, then Duh! What do you think death is? ”

    The former. You can see it happen if you cut the Corpus Callosumin half. Since the soul is supposed to be indivisible it is falsified by the observed behavior of individuals who have undergone the procedure.

    Tell me the truth now and save me the trouble of trying to reason with you…you are on medication right? That’s why you keep making these weird statements. Please, just admit it…

    What does cutting the brain in half, have to so with the soul? What does the brain have to do with the soul at all? What are you talking about??? (DOES ANYBODY KNOW WHAT THIS GUY IS TALKING ABOUT???)

    Furthermore, if you read YOUR OWN article, you will see that the author calls it an ILLUSION at least 3 times.
    This is because he is causing the EYES to see as if they are in a different part of the room. It says NOTHING about the soul being split in half. It doesn’t mention the word SOUL at all.

  49. frustrated (mk)
    March 8th, 2009 @ 7:31 am

    Humans ARE animals. The only difference between us and the rest of the kingdom is our incredible success.

    If you truly believe this then I am wasting my time. Yes, humans belong to the animal kingdom, but if you truly believe that the only thing that separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom is the fact that we are successful then I fear that you are a lost cause.

  50. frustrated (mk)
    March 8th, 2009 @ 7:38 am

    “Otherwise, comparing the moral standards of a chimpanzee to the rational faculties of human beings tells me that you are closer in reasoning ability to the chimp than to man.”

    The reason that man has a higher moral capacity IS that he is rational.

    A chimpanzee might show some moral fortitude (or it may not…whether it is true morality is up for debate) but it’s moral capacity is LIMITED. SEVERELY LIMITED.

    No. EVERY human being is not a lawyer, or an architect. BUT BY NATURE these avenues are open to them. ALL of them, if something doesn’t go wrong. We’re talking about Natural Law here. Sometimes natural law is interfered with and a particular person will not have the normal abilities of other people, but the RULE is that human beings are CAPABLE of building, reading, rationalizing, writing, drawing etc, while the rest of the animal world IS NOT.

    If you saw a human being behaving like a turtle you would think it odd, but if you saw a turtle behaving like a human being, you would think it miraculous. If a man crawled on all fours, you might scratch your head, but if a lion broke out in a Stevie Wonder song, you would doubt your own sanity.

  51. frustrated (mk)
    March 8th, 2009 @ 7:41 am

    As opposed to humans who only are willing to raise children because they are programmed to like children and want kids? I fail to see the difference.

    You are severely testing my hypothesis that men are rational beings…the above statement tells me VOLUMES about your mindset and I’m afraid it is just too twisted to continue.

    Yes, Samuel. That’s it. Human beings only take care of each other because they are programmed to. Whereas wolves have regular meetings and discuss the best way to help the world become a better place.

    That you fail to see the difference is telling beyond words. I give up.

  52. frustrated (mk)
    March 8th, 2009 @ 7:46 am

    “Maybe it’s me, but I fail to see what the Church being universal and united has to do with whether or not it was founded by God. The reason it has lasted so long is BECAUSE it was founded by God. ”

    So you believe than that the Jews are the One True Faith? Or maybe the Roseacrutions?

    LOL…The Rosecrutionists???? Are you claiming that these are a “different” religion????

    You’re right. Maybe it is you. Yes the Jews are the precursors to the one true faith. Catholics/Christians ARE Jews in the theological sense. We are the NEW Israel.

    The Catholic Church started with the Jews. GOD founded the Catholic Church by first “choosing” the Jews. It’s all one Church. The History of the church began with the Jews and evolved to what we now know as the Catholic Church. All Catholics are essentially “Jews” while all Jews are not Catholics…

  53. frustrated (mk)
    March 8th, 2009 @ 7:51 am

    Are you familiar with the term “red herring”? None of that detrats from my point. Namely, that the church had problems that it wouldn’t have if God had created and protected it.

    You know, like this:
    http://www.news.com.au/story/0,27574,25141510-401,00.html

    First, I see no “problem” with that story. I agree with what the church teaches. It is not a mistake. It is the “Truth”.

    Second, are you implying that all members of the Catholic Church would be perfect if the Church were indeed God’s handiwork????

    If perfection were attainable, we wouldn’t have needed Jesus. Individual members of the church are as susceptible to wrong doing as any other human beings. The Church herself IS perfect. Her members are not. That is why we needed the church to begin with.

    The doctrines and dogma of the Church are flawless. The people, not so much.

  54. frustrated (mk)
    March 8th, 2009 @ 8:25 am

    Pikeman,

    Samuel: “As for being similar to chimps… we are. Closest living relative.”

    Hm? I thought it was tigers.

    You’re my new best friend… :)

  55. Nile the Jolly
    March 8th, 2009 @ 8:59 am

    mk and Lily: Do you accept evolution as a scientific theory or a hypothesis which needes proof? I accept evolution as a scientific theory; in that case, our ancestors are animals and indeed, human beings are just those who have developed reasoning abilities at the expense of other physical abilities in their struggle for living. We cannot fly and we cannot live under water. We cannot run as quickly as a deer. In that sense, deer, fish and birds are superior to us. Who says that ‘reasoning’ is the ability which should be considered in the uppermost level in the hierarchy of abilities? It is relative. In a sudden earthquake, I would rather be a bird. May be the birds are laughing at us that we imitate them with our huge steel bodies of planes.

  56. Lily
    March 8th, 2009 @ 9:02 am

    Why, mk? Why?

    Part of me loves that you dissected this guy so thoroughly (and with Occum’s [sic] razor) that he can now be put in ziplock bags and stored in the garage. Part of me is appalled that you took the time to read such verbose nonsense and reply to it!

    By the way, Sammy, it is Occam’s or Ockham’s razor, so named for William of Ockham (1280-1349). Like most atheists, you don’t know what it is and you are misapplying it here (and everywhere, I can guess with a fair degree of certainty). Wikipedia has a good description of it. I suggest you read it.

    See, mk? That’s how it is done. Four sentences that are more than enough food for the troll and I still have plenty of energy left for slaying the next dragon that comes along.

  57. Lily
    March 8th, 2009 @ 9:34 am

    Well, Nile, if the day ever comes that birds can breed us in captivity and sell us as pets to other animals, maybe I will accept that rationality is not at the top of the hierarchy of abilities. For right now I begrudge no bird its ability to fly. When I want to fly, I get in a plane. When I want to outrun a deer, I get in my car. If I want to spend some time underwater, well, I can buy or rent the apparatus that makes that possible.

    Rationality makes many desirable things possible. It also appears to be the best guarantor of freedom that exists on the planet. So, let the birds laugh. I will be having one or more of them for dinner tonight. Then we will see who gets the last laugh!

  58. Nile the Jolly
    March 8th, 2009 @ 9:52 am

    “I will be having one or more of them for dinner tonight. Then we will see who gets the last laugh!”

    Well said,Lily:)

  59. Lily
    March 8th, 2009 @ 9:58 am

    ;)

  60. frustrated (mk)
    March 8th, 2009 @ 1:39 pm

    Nile,

    Who says that ‘reasoning’ is the ability which should be considered in the uppermost level in the hierarchy of abilities?

    Those that can reason??? lol

    Seriously, I don’t feel qualified to weigh in one way or another about evolution. If science says it’s so, that’s good enough for me. To form a really well discerned opinion
    I would have to do tons of reading on the subject, and I just don’t care one way or the other. I don’t mean that snidely, it just doesn’t interest me. One half of my brain (the one that knows the difference between what the two sides do) is broken ;) and I have a really hard time with facts and equations. The theory? That we started out as not quite so bright and evolved into what we are today? I just don’t know. Although I’m not sure that we weren’t always bright. I think the pyramids and aquaducts are pretty dang impressive and who knows what’s under the oceans that would tell us about civilizations millions of years old.

    Is it possible that we evolved from being a lower life form? Sure. All that matters theologically is that at some point we were given souls, “breathed” into us by God. At that point we began to image Him. Whether that was from the get go, or came to be 6 billion years after the first homo sapien walked the earth, I don’t/can’t know. I don’t think anyone can.

    I mean, are we smarter than we were 10,000 years ago, or just more knowledgeable?

  61. frustrated (mk)
    March 8th, 2009 @ 1:42 pm

    Lily,

    Haha…you know, sometimes answers aren’t just for the person that asked the questions. You never can tell just who paying attention. One thing I learned from Jill’s is that there are a LOT of people that just read and don’t comment. If they can glean anything from the comments made to Samuel, then it was worth it. I agree tho, I question Sammy’s sincerity. He can’t seem to follow a conversation. He’ll make a statement, then when you address it, he responds as if you were talking about something entirely different…very frustrating.

  62. frustrated (mk)
    March 8th, 2009 @ 1:47 pm

    Lily,

    You’ll notice that I quit when I got to Occam’s Razor. It wasn’t even worth explaining that I know what the theory is, but it had nothing to do with what he applied it to. I pretty much gave up at that point as he hasn’t once addressed a single argument. Just likes to play one upmanship and word games. Heck, I can converse with my 3 year old if I want to talk gibberish…

  63. Lily
    March 8th, 2009 @ 2:08 pm

    Oh, I understand, mk. I was expressing exasperation with Sammykins and thinking how unworthy he is of your time. My guess is that he is young, probably hangs out at one of the atheist sites and has picked up a lot words and phrases he doesn’t understand from them. Now he is throwing them out here, thinking he has mastered an argument that he hasn’t begun to understand. We don’t give him the expected responses so he is helpless. He just keeps reading from his script. That would certainly explain the irrelevance of all his counter “arguments”.

    One of the funniest examples of this sort of thing that actually happened while I was hanging out at an atheist site is a great story. It seems some Indian guy, Ravioli by name (close enuff), went out to the Open Theology board and challenged them, using concepts and arguments that he seems to have picked up in haphazard fashion on atheist boards. Now, these guys at OT are serious theologians in training and as smart as they are nice. They treated Ravioli kindly but arguing with him pretty much rose to the level of me trying to reason with my cat. (“Put the bird down, Lily, you get more than enough to eat as it is, you furry tub of goo.”)

    As dopey as this poor soul was, Ravioli did realize, dimly, that they were having him for lunch. So he comes over to the atheist board and asks for someone to feed him the answers to their arguments. The village blowhard was up to the challenge and channelled his nonsense. However, while the arguments were no better, his native command of the language tipped the OT gang off that there was a ringer in the mix and they came over to the board to talk to the blowhard directly.

    Amazingly, a very interesting, very civil discussion ensued– So I do know that it can be done. Just not by me. But I sure admire those who can do it!

  64. frustrated (mk)
    March 8th, 2009 @ 2:23 pm

    Wow Lily,

    That was a crazy story. But that’s exactly what I mean. I would love to have been part of that discussion. Although, in fairness, Ravioli may have learned some stuff (we can only hope) which would have been worth all the time and effort.

    I mean, you’ve go to start somewhere. When I first “reverted” I was woefully undercatechized. I would still fall pitifully short on a site like the one you just described. Meet ‘em where they live, and try to bring ‘em up. That’s all you can do. You never know, he might be pitching for our team one day (God have mercy) and we can take credit (*cough, cough*) for his future brilliance.

    If he is a young teen, I give him credit for the attempt anyway.

    BTW, according to Samuel, you’re cat might be hiding an incredible ability to debate… ;)

  65. Samuel Skinner
    March 8th, 2009 @ 4:27 pm

    Well, since you insist, personal info
    Samuel Skinner
    American
    20
    AA degree
    Californian
    Loves mangos, hates stupidity

    “Samuel: “As for being similar to chimps… we are. Closest living relative.”

    Hm? I thought it was tigers.”

    It is chimps. Of course, we have 40% DNA in common with slime molds, so it isn’t as big as it sounds.

    “I can’t tell if you are being purposely obtuse, if you only 13 years old, or if you sincerely are dense. ”

    Yes, it is terrible for me to use the common definition of Christian. I know- I should be able to mind read, but I can’t.

    “Lily…no, Muslims and Jews don’t worship in a CHURCH. They worship in a Mosque and a Synagogue. By CHURCH I mean the CATHOLIC CHURCH. The UNIVERSAL CATHOLIC CHURCH.”

    “All Catholics ARE Christian. The Catholic Church considers ALL Christians as part of the UNIVERSAL (Meaning Catholic Church) but says that they are not in FULL Communion with the “C”hurch. If you are a Christian, you still belong to the BODY of the CHURCH, (which does NOT mean building) but you are NOT in COMMUNION with her. ”

    Your too dense to notice, but Lily is using two different definition of the word church- in the first, it is simply the title of the building, in the second all the worshippers of a religion. However, we already have a term for it- it is called Christianity. The only reason she was using the phrase church was so she could link it to Catholicism and use double speak to avoid blatantly claiming that Catholics are the only true Christians.

    “Reaaaallllyyyy….? Then why did you bring it up? You are the one that said Iceland was a worldly institution and then tried to prove it by defining the descriptive word instead of the noun.

    Or is it only irrelevant because it proves you wrong????

    A Nation IS a society. An institution is IN a society.”

    Wow. Yu must never have gone to college. Here is a hint- Sociology 101. A government is NOT a society, but an institution IN society.

    Of course, this is irrelevant becsuse (although you were to dense to get this) I was criticizing the Catholic Church’s division, venality and open warfare that characterized its history and pointed out a group that did better.

    “Tell me the truth now and save me the trouble of trying to reason with you…you are on medication right? That’s why you keep making these weird statements. Please, just admit it…

    What does cutting the brain in half, have to so with the soul? What does the brain have to do with the soul at all? What are you talking about??? (DOES ANYBODY KNOW WHAT THIS GUY IS TALKING ABOUT???)”

    Yes, ad hominums are truely mature. Once again, I recommend taking BASIC college classes.

    I was refering to a medical technique where they split the corpus colosum in half to stop seizures. What this does is literally make the left hand not know what the right hand is doing. Such an individual basically has had their thought process split in half.

    If the soul was remotely connected to thought process, this shouldn’t be impossible. If it isn’t related to thought, than it doesn’t do anything.

    “Furthermore, if you read YOUR OWN article, you will see that the author calls it an ILLUSION at least 3 times.
    This is because he is causing the EYES to see as if they are in a different part of the room. It says NOTHING about the soul being split in half. It doesn’t mention the word SOUL at all.”

    Your a moron. The point of the article is that conciousness was seperated from the body without killing a person. Of course it is an illusion- we can do the same thing with drugs. However, given that the soul is supposed to be tied to your body an this was done with purely material means, it shows that the soul is either material or not attached to your self of self (ignoring the not existing part).

    “If you truly believe this then I am wasting my time. Yes, humans belong to the animal kingdom, but if you truly believe that the only thing that separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom is the fact that we are successful then I fear that you are a lost cause.”

    Traditionally individuals give arguments to rebut their opponents points, not simply argue by assertion. You do this repeatedly. What makes human’s special? Your own assertion that they are? A coherant argument that does not make.

    “The reason that man has a higher moral capacity IS that he is rational. ”

    Sociopaths are rational. Rationality=/ morality.
    “A chimpanzee might show some moral fortitude (or it may not…whether it is true morality is up for debate) but it’s moral capacity is LIMITED. SEVERELY LIMITED. ”

    Prove it. Animals can die for each other. I can accept you dismissing it when ants do it, but primates have brains.

    “No. EVERY human being is not a lawyer, or an architect. BUT BY NATURE these avenues are open to them.”

    BS. To be a lawyer requires a society and network of laws. That didn’t exist until less than 4000 years ago- for most of mankinds history there was no such thing. Architects are a little older, but not by much.

    You are refering to intelligence potential… which is a problem because there have been creatures with similar potential to humans in the past. They are all dead now though. There can be only one hominid!

    “We’re talking about Natural Law here. Sometimes natural law is interfered with and a particular person will not have the normal abilities of other people, but the RULE is that human beings are CAPABLE of building, reading, rationalizing, writing, drawing etc, while the rest of the animal world IS NOT.”

    BS. Termites can build. Birds can build. Beavers can build.

    Crows have shown themselves capable of reason in problem solving.

    Chimps have done drawing.

    I’m not positive, but I think non-human animals have done reading.

    “If you saw a human being behaving like a turtle you would think it odd, but if you saw a turtle behaving like a human being, you would think it miraculous. If a man crawled on all fours, you might scratch your head, but if a lion broke out in a Stevie Wonder song, you would doubt your own sanity.”

    Like having a pet?
    http://pic3.picturetrail.com/VOL19/924030/3390609/43236156.jpg

    Not related, but…
    http://tekniklr.com/wpblog/wp-content/uploads/2007/09/cat_monkey_1.jpg

    “You are severely testing my hypothesis that men are rational beings…the above statement tells me VOLUMES about your mindset and I’m afraid it is just too twisted to continue.

    Yes, Samuel. That’s it. Human beings only take care of each other because they are programmed to. Whereas wolves have regular meetings and discuss the best way to help the world become a better place.

    That you fail to see the difference is telling beyond words. I give up.”

    It is called a strawman. I’m asserting BOTH are following their programming, but they have a choice. After all, raise kids is not the only programming in our brain.

    “The Rosecrutionists???? ”

    That is the name of the Egyptian religion, is it not? Or is it just the name of the society that runs the Egyptian muesem?

    “You’re right. Maybe it is you. Yes the Jews are the precursors to the one true faith. Catholics/Christians ARE Jews in the theological sense. We are the NEW Israel.

    The Catholic Church started with the Jews. GOD founded the Catholic Church by first “choosing” the Jews. It’s all one Church. The History of the church began with the Jews and evolved to what we now know as the Catholic Church. All Catholics are essentially “Jews” while all Jews are not Catholics…”

    Dude, that only makes sense if you have never read the Old Testament or know nothing about Judaism.

    -Jews are also an ethnic group and choosen people
    -Have special god given rules to differentiate themselves from outsiders
    -Have an agreement that was to last for all time
    -Had a completely different set up with devotion in exchange for power

    “First, I see no “problem” with that story. I agree with what the church teaches. It is not a mistake. It is the “Truth”.”

    Than you are evil. I’ll be blunt- there is no other way to put it. For starters, if she hadn’t had the abortion THEY ALL WOULD HAVE DIED. I could go on, but that stands on its own.

    “Second, are you implying that all members of the Catholic Church would be perfect if the Church were indeed God’s handiwork????”

    No. The institution would still have individuals who were corrupt and the like. It isn’t like they would have some sort of enforcer who could see their thoughts, or they could staff their positions with people who have dedicated their lives to church service and are supposed to be better people because of it.

    “The Church herself IS perfect. Her members are not. That is why we needed the church to begin with.

    The doctrines and dogma of the Church are flawless. The people, not so much.”

    Those who seek perfection will never rest this side of the grave.

    Nice quote, but what it means (something you are too shallow to think about) is that perfection is a non-attainable goal in many cases. The only time something is perfect is when it has stopped changing… when it is dead. Given the chruch still changes and is still living, they are not perfect.

    “By the way, Sammy, it is Occam’s or Ockham’s razor, so named for William of Ockham (1280-1349).”

    I know that- the man was an English witchhunter. I can never spell his name right though.

    “Like most atheists, you don’t know what it is and you are misapplying it here (and everywhere, I can guess with a fair degree of certainty). Wikipedia has a good description of it. I suggest you read it.”

    You use wikipedia as a source?
    How about you use something that is reputable instead and just use wiki as a referance?

    Also, I am using it entirely appropriately- the simplest explanation with the best explanatory power. You probably didn’t even bother to read that line and just assumed I said “simplest explanation”.

    “See, mk? That’s how it is done. Four sentences that are more than enough food for the troll and I still have plenty of energy left for slaying the next dragon that comes along.”

    People who disagree with you=trolls now? Also note your responce was based on completely misrepresenting my position.

    “Well, Nile, if the day ever comes that birds can breed us in captivity and sell us as pets to other animals, maybe I will accept that rationality is not at the top of the hierarchy of abilities.”

    Intelligence is actually (an amusingly) potentially a negative. For starters, brains need alot of fuel, which is a major cost. Additionally, there is the problem that intelligence increases the power individuals can wield. Not so fun when biowarfare comes into the mix.

    “Although I’m not sure that we weren’t always bright. ”

    Human brain size hasn’t changed in the last 100000 years.

    “who knows what’s under the oceans that would tell us about civilizations millions of years old.”

    There are none that old- at the very least the plates would destroy anything old enough.

    “All that matters theologically is that at some point we were given souls, “breathed” into us by God.”

    That sounds rather parasitic. Not to mention goes into line drawing territory.

    “I mean, are we smarter than we were 10,000 years ago, or just more knowledgeable?”

    Depends. In some cases dumber due to malnutrition (problem in parts of the 3rd world). For the most part just more knowledgable.

    “My guess is that he is young, probably hangs out at one of the atheist sites and has picked up a lot words and phrases he doesn’t understand from them.”

    False. I hang out here:
    http://bbs.stardestroyer.net/index.php

    If you believe I have not responded to your arguments, simply say them instead of talking snidely about your superiority.

  66. Pikemann Urge
    March 8th, 2009 @ 5:09 pm

    Samuel, AFAIK the brain takes up very little energy.

    Answer me this: chimps are fugly but tigers are beautiful, therefore shouldn’t we be closer to tigers via DNA? ;-)

  67. Samuel Skinner
    March 8th, 2009 @ 5:56 pm

    “Samuel, AFAIK the brain takes up very little energy.”

    http://hypertextbook.com/facts/2001/JacquelineLing.shtml

    “Even so, the brain when awake demands a greedy share of the body’s energy supply: thought weighing about 1/50 of the body total, it may use as much as 1/5 of all the energy that is consumed.”

    “Answer me this: chimps are fugly but tigers are beautiful, therefore shouldn’t we be closer to tigers via DNA?”

    I’m trying to come up with a good reply that doesn’t contain a sex joke. And failing.

    Of course, tigers are beautiful the same way the ocean is- because it is strong enough to rip your head of and yet moves with such grace.

  68. Lily
    March 8th, 2009 @ 6:28 pm

    Sammykins, you are certainly right to approach Wikipedia with caution. However, many of its articles are very well-done and the one on Ockham’s razor is one of them.
    But if you insist, try SEP. Start with the article on Ockham, from which you will learn what nominalism is.

    Then, when you are clear on what Occam’s razor meant to Occam, you can go on to discover how it is used in science. Wiki has a nice money quote that will show you where you are headed:

    In the scientific method, Occam’s razor, or parsimony, is an epistemological, metaphysical, or heuristic preference, not an irrefutable principle of logic, and certainly not a scientific result.

    As a logical principle, Occam’s razor would demand that scientists accept the simplest possible theoretical explanation for existing data. However, science has shown repeatedly that future data often supports more complex theories than existing data. Science tends to prefer the simplest explanation that is consistent with the data available at a given time, but history shows that these simplest explanations often yield to complexities as new data becomes available.

    When you have finished reading up on Ockham, your next article will be the one on “simplicity” http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/simplicity/

    Frankly, if I were you, I would read Wiki first and *then* move on to SEP.

  69. Lily
    March 8th, 2009 @ 6:46 pm

    Oops. I forgot. Yes, Sammy. You are a troll. You didn’t come here to exchange ideas or have a discussion with us, you came here to stir up trouble, insult us (or try. Your lack of knowledge and your inability to spell greatly help mitigate the offense you intend) and generally act like a bonobo flinging virtual feces.

    Vigorous dissent is welcome. Name calling, e.g. “moron”, ignorant snark, and constant changing of the subject are not. Allow me to give you some tips that will make what you write a little less annoying:

    1. Learn to use white space to help your reader. Double space between paragraphs. Paragraphs should consist of at least 3 coherent sentences. More are fine, up to a point, but, again, limit the number. No one likes reading long blocks of text.

    2. Learn some basic html to help your readers. Set off quoted material in italics (em) (/em) (use angle brackets < instead of parentheses) or bold (b) (/b).

    3. Try to limit the number of subjects you introduce in one message. Too many subjects and too long messages are annoying and lead to most readers, skimming or skipping them altogether.

    Your messages will be much more readable, if you attend to these principles. The content? Alas, that is up to you and so far, well, let’s just say that the jury is still out on that question.

  70. frustrated (mk)
    March 9th, 2009 @ 5:52 am

    Excellent advice Lily. It hard to take a guy seriously, when he accuses you of ad hominem attacks in one sentence and then proceeds to call you a moron and dense in the next…

    Or who complains that you use wiki but puts up a picture of Koko the gorilla to prove that apes are as intelligent as human beings.

    Or argues that termites can build and compares an anthill to the wall of China.

    Or who thinks that chimpanzees have brains but ants don’t…

    Sammy,

    I am not the one arguing that the soul is a separate entity than the body. You are.

    First you say there is no soul. Then you say there is and it can be separated from the body.

    Then you say the soul is the same as consciousness which proves it cannot be separated from the body.

    Pick a side and stick to it.

    The soul CONTAINS the body. They are united yes, but in a mystical way. The brain IS NOT the soul. The soul IS NOT the brain. I’m well aware of the experiments where you split the brain in half. I was aware of them before you were even born. It has NOTHING to do with the soul.

    Consciousness IS NOT the soul. Personality IS NOT the soul. The body IS NOT the soul.

    The body is a physical expression of the soul. The soul can exist without the body. Yes they are metaphysically connected, but the soul is something not of this world. You can’t touch it, experiment on it, remove it, bottle it, photograph it or carry it around in your pocket.

    I asked you if you meant splitting the soul in half, or splitting the body from the soul. You replied splitting the soul in half. Perhaps you meant to say splitting the soul from the body. This is a different conversation altogether. Perhaps if you clarified what in heavens name you are talking about, we might get somewhere.

    What’s say we start over. Instead of putting together posts with 4,000 ideas and arguing them with one liners, you pick ONE idea and thoroughly express your views on it. We’ll debate it, and then move on to a new idea…

    Your choice. Animals are as smart as people. People are no different than animals. Morality is not something that can be reasoned. Natural Law. The existence of a soul. Jews and Christians have nothing in common. The Catholic Church does/does not have it roots in Judaism. Iceland is a worldly institution. Discworld is better than Star Trek.

    It is quite possible that somewhere in that mish mash of a post, there is actually a decent idea, and I’d be willing to debate it with you, but I’m just not up for carrying on 52 debates at one time.

    Your choice. Let me know what you want to do.

  71. Samuel Skinner
    March 9th, 2009 @ 10:41 am

    “Then, when you are clear on what Occam’s razor meant to Occam, you can go on to discover how it is used in science. ”

    Why should I bother about how the discoverer used them? That is irrelevant to its proper usage.

    “Frankly, if I were you, I would read Wiki first and *then* move on to SEP.”

    Why shouldn’t I use Occum’s Razor in this case? State the reason.

    While it may not always give you the right answer, it WILL give you the best answer at the time. Which is sort of what we are trying to do here.

    “Oops. I forgot. Yes, Sammy. You are a troll. You didn’t come here to exchange ideas or have a discussion with us, you came here to stir up trouble, insult us (or try. Your lack of knowledge and your inability to spell greatly help mitigate the offense you intend) and generally act like a bonobo flinging virtual feces.”

    You need tougher skin if people pointing out you aren’t saying anything incoherent hurts you so much.

    As for my poor spelling, that is what happens when I post late at night. I’m sorry- I believe it is common courtesy to respond when possible. If you looked at the time stamps above my posts you might notice that.

    Fun fact- while calling me a troll you don’t show any particular case where I was trolly. You do that alot- make a claim without any backup. At the place I hang out that is a bigger offence than insulting someone.

    (em)Learn some basic html to help your readers. Set off quoted material in italics(/em)

    Hmmm… prefer quote box more. This will have to do.

    “3. Try to limit the number of subjects you introduce in one message. Too many subjects and too long messages are annoying and lead to most readers, skimming or skipping them altogether. ”

    Too bad for them. If they don’t like reading, they shouldn’t be on the internet.

  72. frustrated (mk)
    March 9th, 2009 @ 11:12 am

    Sammy,

    Here is a perfect example of what we are talking about…

    You need tougher skin if people pointing out you aren’t saying anything incoherent hurts you so much.

    Do you realize that you have just accused Lily of being “COHERENT”?

    If she is NOT saying anything INCOHERENT then she MUST be saying something COHERENT.

    Are you getting why we think you are not capable of adult conversation?

  73. frustrated (mk)
    March 9th, 2009 @ 11:20 am

    Too bad for them. If they don’t like reading, they shouldn’t be on the internet.</i.

    No Sammy. Too bad for you. If they don’t like reading long tedious hard to decipher posts, they (we/I) will just skip them. That’s just the way it is.

    Here’s why your behavior is trollish. You come on swingin’, insultin’ and generally being boorish, don’t really say much of anything…and then wonder why no one is responding to you. You have noticed that I (and sometimes Lily) are the only ones that have bothered to converse with you, haven’t you?

    I am giving you the benefit of the doubt. You have come to “our” site, and simply courtesy is the best approach if you really and truly want to discourse.

    Pikeman, BBub, Niles, Skeptimal…all of these folks are on the “opposite” team, your team, and yet we have all managed to truly “DISCUSS’ many controversial and deep topics, without resorting to insults and vitriol. Even Michael Drake has been welcomed.

    You need to learn how to talk on one of these sites. There are sites that are truly nasty (not mentioning any names Amanda Marcotte) who are NOT interested in actually discussing anything, but I don’t think this is one of them.

    So again, I’m asking you to start over, and pick ONE topic. Then let’s see where that gets us. We might both be surprised to find out that we each have something worth saying…

    I’ll forgive the spelling as I know that not every one is good at spelling. But I won’t forgive nonsensical, irrational arguments. So far that’s a lot of what I’ve seen. Slow down, take your time, and let’s see where we can go…kay?

  74. Samuel Skinner
    March 9th, 2009 @ 11:22 am

    Didn’t work.

    1″It hard to take a guy seriously, when he accuses you of ad hominem attacks in one sentence and then proceeds to call you a moron and dense in the next…”

    Because calling someone a moron isn’t an ad hominum attack.

    “Typically, this fallacy involves two steps. First, an attack against the character of person making the claim, her circumstances, or her actions is made (or the character, circumstances, or actions of the person reporting the claim). Second, this attack is taken to be evidence against the claim or argument the person in question is making (or presenting). ”

    2″Or who complains that you use wiki but puts up a picture of Koko the gorilla to prove that apes are as intelligent as human beings. ”

    … that wasn’t my point. My point was that apes can have pets. You like strawmen don’t you?

    3″Or argues that termites can build and compares an anthill to the wall of China.”

    termite size- 12.7 mm.
    termite mound- 6.1 meters width

    difference- 5000

    Notably, unlike the Great Wall, Termite mounds are hollow and have air conditioning. Also they work- the Great Wall did a rather poor job of keeping invaders out.

    4″Or who thinks that chimpanzees have brains but ants don’t…”

    Both do. The problems is that ants brains are so simple that lack they are mostly preprogrammed.

    5″I am not the one arguing that the soul is a separate entity than the body. You are.”

    No, that is the position of Christianity.

    6″First you say there is no soul. Then you say there is and it can be separated from the body.”

    It is called accepting the premises and showing why they don’t work. Do you want me to tell you what I am doing when I do it? Otherwise you don’t seem to be able to follow.

    7″Then you say the soul is the same as consciousness which proves it cannot be separated from the body.”

    I never said the second part- I merely claimed the first. Otherwise it gets even more pointless. Unless you are buddist.

    8″The soul CONTAINS the body. They are united yes, but in a mystical way. The brain IS NOT the soul. The soul IS NOT the brain. I’m well aware of the experiments where you split the brain in half. I was aware of them before you were even born. It has NOTHING to do with the soul.”


    Wow.
    You don’t see it.
    Look at the second sentance. “Mystical way”. Sounds spooky doesn’t it?

    1 a: having a spiritual meaning or reality that is neither apparent to the senses nor obvious to the intelligence

    So it means something “spiritual” (which means involving the spirit- a tatology) that is neither obvious or apparent… that doesn’t help.

    b: involving or having the nature of an individual’s direct subjective communion with God or ultimate reality

    That doesn’t work either. Maybe 2 will!

    2: mysterious , unintelligible
    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mystical

    9″The body is a physical expression of the soul. The soul can exist without the body. Yes they are metaphysically connected, but the soul is something not of this world. You can’t touch it, experiment on it, remove it, bottle it, photograph it or carry it around in your pocket.”

    Basically you are a Platonist? You do realize this view suffers a crippling lack of overlap with reality?

    10″Animals are as smart as people. ”

    The smell of straw is strong in the morning. That was never my position. Non-human animals on Earth are not as smart as people (well, whales or others might be). However, it is a matter of degree, not a divide.

    11″People are no different than animals.”

    http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Animalia.html

    I win. We fit the definition.

    12″Morality is not something that can be reasoned.”

    I never said that. I just said that are capacity to be moral is not from reason.

    13″Natural Law. ”

    http://www.fallacyfiles.org/adnature.html
    Like shooting clay pidgeons!

    14″The existence of a soul.”

    Until you offer evidence we can’t really have an argument, can we?

    15″Jews and Christians have nothing in common.”

    They do. Just not as much as the Christians think. Really, they took away alot to popularize it.

    16″The Catholic Church does/does not have it roots in Judaism.”

    Given their organization is not remotedly similar, I’m going to have to say “no”. Of course, this falls under “things I don’t care about but would like to read the linked article.”

    17″ Iceland is a worldly institution. ”

    Once again, a blatant matter of definition. Given that it falls under the whole “Caeser” category I’m going with City of Men.

    18″Discworld is better than Star Trek. ”

    But… Discworld IS better. It is coherant, has non-stupid characters and is not entirely far left propaganda. As proof:
    http://www.sfdebris.com/main.asp

    You proposed 9 topics. Here is the improvements that aren’t able to be answered definitionally.

    -Humans are quantatively different than the rest of the animal kingdom, not qualitatively different.
    -Morality (general)
    -Souls (give a definition first- a coherant one!)
    -How should fantasy/sci-fi work?

  75. Samuel Skinner
    March 9th, 2009 @ 11:31 am

    “Are you getting why we think you are not capable of adult conversation?”

    Because you enjoy nitpicking? Adult conversation refers to content, not packaging.

    “No Sammy. Too bad for you. If they don’t like reading long tedious hard to decipher posts, they (we/I) will just skip them. That’s just the way it is. ”

    I’m sorry- I focus on answering questions, not packaging… in fact, alot of your comments seem to be about packaging.

    “You come on swingin’, insultin’ and generally being boorish, don’t really say much of anything…and then wonder why no one is responding to you. ”

    Except that isn’t the defintion of trolling. I am an asshole, not a troll.

    “You have noticed that I (and sometimes Lily) are the only ones that have bothered to converse with you, haven’t you? ”

    I’d laugh, but we don’t have smilys. You do realize I have never been on this blog before? How would I know who is here?

    “Pikeman, BBub, Niles, Skeptimal…all of these folks are on the “opposite” team, your team, and yet we have all managed to truly “DISCUSS’ many controversial and deep topics, without resorting to insults and vitriol. ”

    Dude, you were okay with letting a little girl DIE because of your precious belief system. Excuse me if I hold you in a bit of contempt. It IS what we are supposed to do with people who hold evil beliefs, is it not?

  76. Samuel Skinner
    March 9th, 2009 @ 11:44 am

    ? Double spacing has failed.

    Testing.

  77. Lily
    March 9th, 2009 @ 11:53 am

    Had enough, mk?

  78. Samuel Skinner
    March 9th, 2009 @ 12:10 pm

    “Had enough, mk?”

    Oh! I’ve seen this one before! You declare your opponent is unreasonable (although in vague enough terms so they can’t rebut it) and that you are feed up with their trollish behavior so that you are no longer continuing the argument.

    It is used to lead to a situation where both sides can claim victory- sort of like the battle of Kadesh. Except with less blood and actual merit.

  79. Nile the Jolly
    March 9th, 2009 @ 3:38 pm

    Samuel,

    I am glad that there are atheists your age. Writing from Istanbul, sometimes I think that along with my country, the whole world is turning to religion except for a few dinosaurs like myself.

    Do you have many atheist friends in California?

  80. frustrated (mk)
    March 9th, 2009 @ 4:10 pm

    Sammy,

    Except that isn’t the defintion of trolling. I am an asshole, not a troll.

    Now we’re getting somewhere…lol.
    Seriously, I was only pointing out why your behavior was “trollISH” not why you are a troll. Personally, I still think you are sincere, which is why I’m still trying.

    Next, I am not a dude. I don’t mind being called one, but I’m not one…

    Because you enjoy nitpicking? Adult conversation refers to content, not packaging.

    I am NOT nitpicking. Twice now you have made statements that were not clear and I think you meant something other than what you said. I still don’t know if you meant that the soul itself could be split in two, or if the soul could be split from the body. You SAID that you meant split in two, but then argued as if you meant split from the body. How am I supposed to argue with that????

    Lastly, I am unaware of any little girl that I was willing to let die because of my belief system. These are the kinds of statements that lead to us not wanting to respond. If you could explain what you mean by that, I’d be happy to try and refute it, or admit to it, whichever the case may be…

  81. frustrated (mk)
    March 9th, 2009 @ 4:12 pm

    Lily,

    Not yet. But I’m getting there. So far there really is only one person that I have not been able to communicate with and I think she was seriously unstable. I still have hope… ;)

  82. Samuel Skinner
    March 10th, 2009 @ 1:05 am

    1″I am glad that there are atheists your age. Writing from Istanbul, sometimes I think that along with my country, the whole world is turning to religion except for a few dinosaurs like myself. ”

    That is because you are in Turkey. It is… a unique case. A Muslim country that isn’t Arab, stridently secular, but with religious parties, 1st and 2nd world, etc. They even stole creationism from the US!

    Time will tell, time will tell.

    2″Do you have many atheist friends in California?”

    I’m not a very networking person, but most individuals in the city I live subscribe to The Church of None of Your Business. The valley is a pretty cosmopolitan place though, so it is hard to tell. Of course, the rest of the state…

    3″Personally, I still think you are sincere, which is why I’m still trying.”

    I’m always sincere except when I am setting up a rhetorical question.

    4″Next, I am not a dude. I don’t mind being called one, but I’m not one…”

    I refer women to dudes anyway. Similar to calling a lady “Sir”.

    5″Twice now you have made statements that were not clear and I think you meant something other than what you said. ”

    Technically you were nitpicking. However, you have a right to have clear gramatical english. I’m just touchy about it because…

    6″ I still don’t know if you meant that the soul itself could be split in two, or if the soul could be split from the body. You SAID that you meant split in two, but then argued as if you meant split from the body. How am I supposed to argue with that????”

    I argued ALL those positions. Of course, since you don’t believe the soul=conciousness this is entirely irrelevant.

    7″Lastly, I am unaware of any little girl that I was willing to let die because of my belief system. These are the kinds of statements that lead to us not wanting to respond. If you could explain what you mean by that, I’d be happy to try and refute it, or admit to it, whichever the case may be…”

    “First, I see no “problem” with that story. I agree with what the church teaches. It is not a mistake. It is the “Truth”.”

    That was in responce to this article:
    http://www.news.com.au/story/0,27574,25141510-401,00.html

    Third sentance of the article
    “Abortion is illegal in Brazil, but judges can make exceptions if the mother’s life is in danger or the fetus has no chance of survival. ”

    So you agreed with the Church… even though the case showed that doing so could result in the girl dying as well as the twins. Which would be upholding the ideals of “sancity of human life” above actual human lives.

  83. Pikemann Urge
    March 10th, 2009 @ 1:52 am

    “I am an asshole, not a troll.” Well I totally love your brazen honesty, Samuel!

    WRT the soul, it seems that people have differing opinions as to what it is. Many Christians would say it’s the immortal, immaterial aspect of ourselves, but I think this is not early Christian teaching. The soul probably was nothing more than what made the person unique. It’s an abstract idea.

    I think the soul can die according to the Bible, IIRC. But the spirit, the life force, goes back to God when you die. I think people assume them to be the same.

  84. frustrated (mk)
    March 10th, 2009 @ 5:59 am

    From the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd ed. p. 900 The spiritual principle of human beings. The soul is the subject of human consciousness and freedom; soul and body together form one unique human nature. Each human soul is individual and immortal, immediately created by God. The soul does not die with the body, from which it is separated by death, and with which it will be reunited in the final resurrection (363, 366; cf. 1703).

    From Father Hardon’s Modern Catholic Dictionary, p. 514 The spiritual immortal part in a human being that animates his body. Though a substance in itself, the soul is naturally ordained toward a body. Separated, it is an incomplete substance. The soul has no parts, it is therefore simple, but it is not without accidents. The faculties are its proper accidents. Every experience adds to its accidental form. It is individually created for each person by God and infused into the body at the time of human insemination. It is moreover created in respect to the body it will inform, so that the substance of bodily features and of mental characteristics insofar as they depend on organic functions is safeguarded. As a simple and spiritual substance the soul cannot die. Yet it is not the total human nature, since a human person is composed of body animated by the soul. In philosophy, animals and plants are also said to have souls, which operate as sensitive and vegetative principles of life. Unlike the human spirit, these souls are perishable. The rational soul contains all the powers of the two other souls and is the origin of the sensitive and vegetative functions in the human being.

    http://www.secondexodus.com/html/catholicdefinitions/soul.htm

  85. Samuel Skinner
    March 11th, 2009 @ 6:44 pm

    ““I am an asshole, not a troll.” Well I totally love your brazen honesty, Samuel!”

    I’m always honest. Except when I am not, of course.

    “The soul probably was nothing more than what made the person unique. It’s an abstract idea.”

    Abstract ideas don’t have a physical existance in reality, which is what people put foward with the soul.

    “I think the soul can die according to the Bible, IIRC. But the spirit, the life force, goes back to God when you die.”

    … I’d say something, but I think this just stands by itself.

    “The soul is the subject of human consciousness and freedom; soul and body together form one unique human nature.”

    Soul is conciousness and free will according to Catholics. The second part is blatently impossible- if the soul is conciousness, than it is no different than “nature”.

    “The soul does not die with the body, from which it is separated by death, and with which it will be reunited in the final resurrection”

    … er, yeah that sounds insane. As in “if you turn that fast the wings will fly off” insane. It is implying that heaven is a physical location.

    “The spiritual immortal part in a human being that animates his body. ”

    Human bodies are animated by electrical current.

    “Though a substance in itself, the soul is naturally ordained toward a body.”

    God hates transexuals, but we already knew that.

    “The soul has no parts, it is therefore simple”

    This is completely incompatible with the fact that the soul is supposed to interface with the brain.

    “infused into the body at the time of human insemination.”

    The Lord is an impatient Lord. Given the amount of spontaneous miscarriages and number of children that didn’t survive in the past, also a rather wasteful lord.

    “It is moreover created in respect to the body it will inform, so that the substance of bodily features and of mental characteristics insofar as they depend on organic functions is safeguarded.”

    If you are dumb, you will stay dumb. I can’t be reading that right.

    “In philosophy, animals and plants are also said to have souls, which operate as sensitive and vegetative principles of life. ”

    Plants have souls… despite being able to be split apart into two seperate living plants.

    “Unlike the human spirit, these souls are perishable.”

    Which means that killing plants and animals is worse than killing a human as the effect is permanent.

    ” The rational soul contains all the powers of the two other souls and is the origin of the sensitive and vegetative functions in the human being.”

    There are supposed to be three kinds of souls and only multicelled organisms get them. Fungi also get shafted. Also, apparently we have a rational soul, which means it is directly tied to thought process.

    Conclusion: Catholic theology on souls lacks the basic principle of argumentation- namely evidence. Not to mention it is contradctory on several levels AND contradicts your own views. Why are you posting it?

  86. Will
    March 13th, 2009 @ 4:44 pm

    Since most “atheists” keep talking as though there was only one religion, I can not avoid the suspicion that they are not really atheist, only anti-Christian

  87. Samuel Skinner
    March 13th, 2009 @ 5:57 pm

    “Since most “atheists” keep talking as though there was only one religion, I can not avoid the suspicion that they are not really atheist, only anti-Christian”

    I’m afraid you know to much…

    Of course, the fact that atheists in Malaysia are “only anti-Muslim” and atheists in India are “only anti-Hindu” might give you insight into why it is that way. Mainly because most of us talk about things that are remotely related to the individual we are talking about.

    It would be like me suddenly talking about how horrifically inaccrate Tom Clancy’s book are and how they butcher politics, tactics, legality, reason, etc. But that is completely unrelated to rhe subject of religion.

    The same with Christianity. NonChristian faiths are rare in the Americas. Not to mention most arguments apply to all equally. Of course there are some who are only anti-christian (coughhollywoodcough) but actual atheists tend to be consistent.

  88. Eric
    March 20th, 2009 @ 6:20 pm

    Haha. It’s hilarious that you are looking for consistency in a website, but yours is anything but.

  89. Samuel Skinner
    March 23rd, 2009 @ 1:43 pm

    “Haha. It’s hilarious that you are looking for consistency in a website, but yours is anything but.”

    Proper nouns are your friend. I can’t tell who you are mocking or why.

  90. Gino Barcal
    March 24th, 2009 @ 9:18 am

    The Atheist Counter-History

    Behind the pacifist and loving speech, the majority of the religions promote in fact the destruction of everything that represents freedom and pleasure. They hate the body, the desires, the sexuality, the women, the intelligence and all the books, except one. The religions promote the submission, the chastity, the blind and conformistical faith on behalf of a fictitious paradise after the death.

    Only an atheistic person can be free, because the idea of a god is incompatible with the freedom of the human being. The idea of a god promotes the existence of a divine dimension, which denies the possibility to choose your own destination and to invent your own existence. If god exists, the Is is not free; on the other hand, if god does not exist, the Is can be free. The freedom is never given. It is acquired day by day. However, the basic principle of a god is an inhibiting impediment of the autonomy of the man.

    It means that when a person does not content himself only in believing dully, but starts to make questions on the sacred texts, the doctrine, the teachings of the religion, there is no way not to reach these conclusions. It is about not to leave the reason, with capital R, in second plan, behind the faith, and to give to the reason the power and the nobility that it deserves.

    The mechanism of the religions is of an illusion. It is like a mysterious toy we try to decipher by breaking it. The enchantment and the magic of the religion disappear when we see the mechanism and the reasons behind the beliefs.

    The priests are limited to use only one handful of words, texts and references that allow to better assure the control on the bodies, hearts and souls of the followers. The mythology of the religions need simplicity to become more efficient. The religions make a permanent promotion of the faith, the belief before the intelligence and the reason, the submission of the followers against the freedom of the independent thought, the darkness against the light.

    The necessity of cultivate culturally a god is based in ridicules ideas. We don’t have nothing in the brain beyond what we put in it. Have you seen a child believing in gods? Religions and gods are human beings inventions, just like philosophy, arts and metaphysics. These creations have been made to answer the necessities of confront the anguish of the death; But, we can react in other ways: For example, using the philosophy.

    The believe in a god is an impotence signal. We must be conscious of our possibilities. When we cannot prove something is necessary to recognize these limitation and not make concessions to tale-stories or mythology. The idea of the divine child is a species of infantile illness of the reflective thought.

    The majority of the people is allured by the elected icons of the media, and believe more in them than in the physical truth. The truth is that the role of the religions was not the best one: Attacks against Galileu, genocide during the crusades, the Muslim radicalism, silence before the holocaust, etc. What history show is that the religions instead promoting peace, love, fraternity, friendship between the people and the nations, for the most part produced most of the time the opposite. It does not seem very worthy that the monotheists generated some good here and there. In compensation, they generated extreme human barbarity; and this seems much more important as prove of the impotence of the doctrines.

    We cannot make much about it, except to say what it is truth. The Christians have little moral to disapprove old truths, when they themselves promote old errors until today. The philosophy can allow each one of us the comprehension of what is the world, of what can be our morals, our justice, the rules of the game for a happy existence between the humans, without the necessity of appealing to a god, to the holy ghost, to the sacred one, to the skies, to the religions. It is necessary to pass from the theological age to the age of the mass philosophy.

    The weakness, the fear, the anguish before the death, are the sources of all the religious beliefs, and they will never abandon the humanity.

    The history of the Christianity has just as much value as the mythology of Santa Claus. It is in the same level of the fairies stories, where the animals talk and the witches eat little kids. A thought that only serves the children.

    It is necessary to allow the free construction of ourselves as independent beings. To develop the counter-history of the atheist, sexualist, hedonist and anarchist philosophy.

    Gino Barcal

  91. Samuel Skinner
    March 26th, 2009 @ 1:22 am

    “Behind the pacifist and loving speech, the majority of the religions promote in fact the destruction of everything that represents freedom and pleasure. They hate the body, the desires, the sexuality, the women, the intelligence and all the books, except one. The religions promote the submission, the chastity, the blind and conformistical faith on behalf of a fictitious paradise after the death. ”

    Most modern religious do that. Ancient religions were slightly more varied- for example, the Greeks held if you
    died you went to Hades. No exceptions. There were Mesopotamian faiths that ran brothels. Romans didn’t care what the Gods name was, as long as you were pious to them all. Of course, all of these were used to prop up the existing social order so don’t think they were too different.

    “The weakness, the fear, the anguish before the death, are the sources of all the religious beliefs, and they will never abandon the humanity. ”

    And now, proving this assertion. With SCIENCE!
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/18/health/research/18faith.html?_r=1

    “To develop the counter-history of the atheist, sexualist, hedonist and anarchist philosophy.”

    Ironically I am an atheist, authoritarian who does not hold pleasure as the highest good.

  92. Matthew in Fairfax
    March 26th, 2009 @ 6:15 am

    Skinner,

    Once again, all you proved was that you do not read the sources you quote. From the NY Times article you link:

    “To religious people, life is sacred and sanctified,” Dr. Prigerson [the study’s senior author] said, “and there’s a sense they feel it’s their duty and obligation to stay alive as long as possible.”

    That statement is almost a direct contradiction of what you were trying to prove:

    “The weakness, the fear, the anguish before the death, are the sources of all the religious beliefs…”

  93. Samuel Skinner
    March 26th, 2009 @ 10:15 pm

    The two sentances are equivalent. The former is just nice window dressing for the whole “they don’t want to die”.

  94. Matthew in Fairfax
    March 26th, 2009 @ 11:04 pm

    Just because there is a correlation between the occurrence of two events does not prove causation. It is a logical fallacy along the same lines as post hoc ergo propter hoc. Specifically, a correlation was found between “terminally ill cancer patients who drew comfort from religion” and those who are “likely to seek aggressive, life-prolonging care in the week before they died.” Your erroneous conclusion was that weakness, fear, and anguish in anticipation of death are the sources of all the religious beliefs.

    The senior author of the study sees the correlation differently: a person’s religious views inform their understanding of life and death. Religious people see life as “sacred and sanctified.” This leads them to “feel it’s their duty and obligation to stay alive as long as possible.” Cause and effect are the opposite of what you say they are.

  95. Samuel Skinner
    March 27th, 2009 @ 2:28 pm

    Which is truely different from “religious people value not dying”… oh wait, it is the exact same thing!

    “Just because there is a correlation between the occurrence of two events does not prove causation. ”

    No, but it is a good sign if they are the ONLY two commonalities.

    “Religious people see life as “sacred and sanctified.””

    It is like you don’t even realize what you are saying. Such density is impressive, if annoying. I guess mildly religious individuals don’t hold life sacred, eh? And lets not even start with atheists…

  • Basic Assumptions

    First, there is a God.

    Continue Reading...

  • Search

  • Quote of the Day

    • Fifty Random Links

      See them all on the links page.

      • No Blogroll Links

    Switch to our mobile site