Monday, July 28, 2008

Beyond the grave, Part 3

I didn't catch this one earlier because it wasn't given as an email response. He actually posted it on his blog. Other than being a theist, he seems like a reasonably bright young man. Feel free to click on the link and read the whole post. But, again, he validates my position that fear of death is, if not the primary factor in supernatural belief, certainly one of the main factors. Chip Crush writes:

The question again is, "What is the single greatest thing that you think your faith gives you now, or will give you in the future?"

It's a simple answer. The single greatest thing that I think my faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior has given me in the past, gives me now, and will give me in the future, is eternal life. I have eternal life, and will have eternal life by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ.

I would like to point out that Chip put the emphasis into the previous paragraph. It’s clear that he gives some validity to my point and he fears nature. He fears it to the point of rejecting it in favor of the supernatural. He goes on to say:

But a person is not their body. A person is more than mere flesh and blood. We continue to exist after the first death. This death is merely a door to a different kind of life. We'll be in paradise or hades (sheol) after walking through this door of the first death.

Science has repeatedly tested the notion of the self being more than the body. Every scientific study has produced evidence that shows they are one and the same. This does not (as always in science) disprove a “soul”. It only says two things.

1. Thousands of tests, experiments, studies have revealed no evidence of a soul.
2. Everything we know about Homo sapiens can be understood in terms of a unitary self that is in no way divided.

Chip concludes by going back to his greatest fear, which he alleviates by his being able to constantly refer to life ever-lasting, every time he has the opportunity to try to convince another. Surely with every success, he becomes more certain that he is right. How else could he have convinced someone?

So there you have it, John: a simple answer to a good question. My faith gives me eternal life. Would you like to have eternal life? Come to Jesus, and live forever.


The Exterminator said...

So there you have it, John: a simple answer to a good question.

Evo, you should have taught him the difference between "simple" and "stupid."

Unknown said...

You said, "It’s clear that he gives some validity to my point and he fears nature. He fears it to the point of rejecting it in favor of the supernatural."

It appears that your "point" is that faith in the supernatural arises from fear of nature. Do I understand that correctly?

I object to having a fear of nature. How is that "clear" from "eternal life" being the single most important thing that I gain from my Christian faith? Let's work this through.

I'll post your response to my blog and add some additional thoughts there. And, by the way, thank you for your courtesy in replying. In response to the other comment posted under this post, I would like you try. Please, teach me the difference between "simple" and "stupid." Why does it matter?

PhillyChief said...

No, fear of death, which is just one part of nature.

This soul thing is very important, because it's necessary for this eternal life fantasy. This is why the religious will consistently push dualism, and claim things like abstract thought, love, and so forth are things beyond the brain. This is a bonus score from their "you can't prove love" argument, it validates to them this dualism concept, which supports a belief in a soul, which then supports their faith in the eternal life fantasy.

Chip, give 'The Accidental Mind' by David J. Linden a read sometime.

John Evo said...

@ Chip Crush -

Philly is right and you shouldn't get side-tracked by the word nature. The only reason you didn't understand my use of it in this context is that you weren't around for the other two parts of this post. Not your fault.
If you want to catch up you can scroll back and find the other two which are both very recent ("40,000 men and women everyday" and "More from beyond the grave")

The nature you fear, Chip, is death. Quite understandable. I'd wager we all do. The question is "how will we handle it"? Shall we create gods and afterlifes? Well, apparently. Homo sapiens have done this probably for over 100,000 years. It may even go back pre-sapiens. But we have the ability to live differently now. We understand things that ancient men and women could only make stories about. We don't have to live like the desert nomads and shepherds who wrote stories you now take as literal truths.

The Exterminator said...

Chip asked:
Please, teach me the difference between "simple" and "stupid." Why does it matter?

It matters because simple answers and explanations are often extremely good. They pare away extraneous details and go to the heart of the matter. Ever hear of Occam's Razor?

On the other hand, stupid answers are always bad and usually laughable.

Is that a simple enough distinction for you?

Unknown said...

@John Evo,

Thank you for the clarification. I did go back and read the previous two posts, and now I see what you are driving at.

I still disagree that "fear of death" is the primary motive for my faith. "Eternal life," the primary benefit I receive from union to Jesus Christ by grace through faith, is not automatically the motive for my faith. Rather, my faith, is motivated by the work of the Holy Spirit in my inner being - my soul - which brings the discussion rightly to the importance of the existence of my soul, as phillychief noted in another comment. Therefore...


I elaborated on the experience of the existence of the soul on my blog earlier today (here:

Perhaps an analogy would help: I am happily married. A single person, happy or otherwise, can talk all day with me about the concept of marriage; they grasp the concept, but they cannot claim to know what marriage is without the experience of it. Furthermore, many marriages have proceeded badly, ending in divorce. Though they have experienced what they call "marriage," they really have no idea. They might downplay the glory of a "hapy marriage," because they haven't experienced it. Apart from the experience of a "happy marriage," one might consider it to be impossible, an enigma, a figment of one's imagination. They come to the conclusion, wrongly, that there is no such thing as a "happy marriage." It doesn't and can't possibly exist. The same is true with the human soul. If you haven't experienced an "alive soul," which comes by the working of the Holy Spirit, then you won't accept the reality of the existence of the soul. You can understand the concept of a soul; you might see it as a possibility (the inability of science to disprove it). But you won't believe in its existence.

Also, regarding Linden's book, I'm not willing to track down a copy, so if you can send me a link to take a further look, I'll consider it.

Finally, @the exterminator,

You explained what you consider to be the difference between a simple answer and a stupid answer. But how do I know you are correct? Why should I believe you?

In response to my question about the importance of the distinction, your answer is stupid - by your own definition. I did actually laugh when I read it. You said, "It matters because simple answers and explanations are often extremely good." What does that mean? Paring that down, I get that you are saying, "Simple is good." Why? What is good? How do you know? What should my answer have been to qualify as simple and good, rather than stupid? I would like to learn, if you have anything useful to teach.

The Exterminator said...


Well, if it isn't the old Christian trick of asking for every single word to be defined. If you do that enough, we can't converse at all, can we? Then you can smugly believe that those arrogant atheists won't talk to you in plain English.

But I know what we can do. Maybe we can have a conversation merely by grunting at one another.

Your original answer qualified as stupid because it's basically an inept lie. Your quibble over whether or not eternal life = death is nonsense. If you're not alive in the normal sense -- look it up in the dictionary -- you're dead.

As far as my faith, is motivated by the work of the Holy Spirit in my inner being - my soul that's about the most insincere load of crap I've ever heard. Your belief in a "soul" is just another way for you to think that some part of you will magically escape or transcend death.

So Evo is right. Face it: You're basically in a death cult.

John Evo said...

Chip - your example of a guy who doesn't understand a "happy marriage" because he's never personally experienced it and comparing it to a guy who has an experience with the supernatural vs. a guy who has never had it - is not valid.

Let me explain this to you. Marriage is real. We know that marriage happens. Even if you haven't been married or had a happy one, you still understand the concept of marriage and happiness. Some marriages are better than others. And we can all agree on this even if some of us haven't had happy marriages.

But the supernatural is not real. The fact that you believe you have had a supernatural experience doesn't mean you have. The mind and personal experience is not trustworthy in many areas. People have memories of experiences that have never happened. It's documented. But nothing that confirms a supernatural event has ever happened. If it did, it wouldn't be supernatural anymore. We'd have some sort of explanation.

I know everything I just wrote will mean absolutely nothing to you. I very seldom bother to make such arguments, because the majority of people I would make them to are in a state of mind which precludes them from reasoning their way through it. Occasionally I run in to someone who is fighting their way through mysticism, and then I'm more than happy to help them see the light.

You offer a wonderful world of fantasy. I offer a wonderful world of reality. I hope some day you'll join us. But I know that it's unlikely and, at best, many years away. Best wishes.

PhillyChief said...


I don't know what it would be like to fly, but I've seen various examples of flight in nature so I know flight exists. I don't know what it's like to be blind and find things through echo location, but I know it's possible from studying bats. There are many things I don't have personal experience for, but I have observed them, and others have observed them, corroborating my observation. Furthermore, and this is vary important, such things can be demonstrated to another. So even if I didn't have the personal experience of a happy marriage, I would have ample evidence that happy marriages do exist (well maybe not ample considering the divorce rate in the US).

Your soul idea fails the test, so your analogy fails. Regardless of what you think you experienced as an "alive soul" or what another claims as an "alive soul", you can't corroborate and you can't demonstrate it; therefore, it's indistinguishable from a figment of your imagination. You're also answering mysteries with mysteries. Without having shown any reason to accept a claim of a soul, you then claim it "comes by the working of the Holy Spirit", so now you have a new unreasonable to accept claim to define the original unreasonable to accept claim.

Now I have to take a moment to address your comment of "the inability of science to disprove it". This is a mistake in thinking, for if one claims something, it's their responsibility , if they want anyone else to accept their claim, to give justification for accepting it. For instance, I could claim gnomes are responsible for all the socks lost when doing laundry. Do you think it's your job then to disprove my claim, or my job to make my claim credible? Take a look at Carl Sagan's A Dragon in My Garage when you get a chance. Quick read, just a page.

Oh, and Linden's book is availabe on Amazon or perhaps your local book store or library.

John Evo said...

Chip: I should have added in paragraph 3 that because of that, there is no room for agreement. If I haven't had this experience, nor seen the experience, nor able to study it from the scientific investigative trail, then it becomes meaningless in terms of you and I communicating in regards to it. There is no common ground - unlike with you and your happy marriage and me and my failed one (or never having been married). I can still listen to you and understand what it is you are instructing me about with a happy marriage.

That's the reason the analogy is false one.

PhillyChief said...

Oh and this is far better than sock stealing gnomes - Fairies wear boots and ya gotta believe me. I mean, come on, he was dancing with a dwarf, and I saw it with my own two eyes. ;)

The Exterminator said...

Here's a little something to show what sock-stealing gnomes do with their swag.

Oh, and while I think of it, I have it on good authority that the gnome in the video will be wearing those socks throughout her eternal life. Talk about soles!

PhillyChief said...

Maybe Evo can do a duet with that gnome for the podcast.

Anonymous said...

It all goes back to dishonesty, doesn't it?

In the christian myth we have an omniscient, omnipotent deity who makes "perfect" things, puts a temptation and temptor among this perfection, and, voila! Sin! Death! Heaven! Hell!

This deity tells its crowns of creation that if they eat a certain fruit they will die. A lie.
Mean old devil says, you won't. They don't. So, The Eternal Truth turns out to be a fibber, the Father of Lies tells the truth.

I'm told that the act of procreation is itself a sin (at least by some brands of the twice born) so that's all for you. Hell.

So, I'm looking at death, and I'm looking at it a whole lot sooner rather than later due to cancer. It ain't gonna be a lot of fun, maybe I'll bleed to death first from another problem, but in a decade I will have ceased to be for some time.

No, I'm not afraid, angry, or resentful. I'm not sad or worried about an "afterlife".

People come to me, well meaning people, and they insist that I take my remaining time and "Go To School" and/or "Accept Jesus As your Personal Savior" before it's too late.

The motivation for the latter is fear, threats, anger. In the name of love.

Go figure.

Unknown said...

@the exterminator,

The "old Christian trick" is no trick at all, but an important step in conversation. I can tell that John Evo and phillychief have already passed that step. But I don't think you have. You say that my "original answer" - that the single most important benefit I receive from my faith is eternal life - is "an inept lie." Prove it.

You speak of being alive "in the normal sense." Really, what are you talking about? What is normal? The state of being alive can be understood quite differently. Plants are alive. Animals are alive. Dare I say on this blog that humans are alive from conception? When does life begin? What about the quality of life having a say in what it means to be alive? Is a comatose individual on life-support alive? Why or why not?

As far as turning to the dictionary to define words, why should we put our faith in their validity? Why is a giraffe called a giraffe? Who has the authority to name it such? Why can't I call it a longneck? If I did, you might think I was talking about beer.

Finally, you suggest that I'm in a "death cult." What's wrong with that? Are you trying to evangelize me out of it? Why? Why not? Why are you concerned that I am right or wrong? It's certainly not a matter of life and death! You say that my motive for faith being the working of the Holy Spirit is "insincere." That's "an inept lie," if I've ever heard one. You can't judge my sincerity.

So in the end, the definition stage is crucial for you and I to have a meaningful conversation. On to the guys who have graduated...

@John Evo,

I appreciate your comments. We aren't on the same page regarding the marriage analogy. And as you said, everything you wrote means absolute nothing to me. But, in the end, you said that I "offer a wonderful world of fantasy." Whereas, "You offer a wonderful world of reality." As you know, I see it somewhat the other way around. My view is the reality; yours is not exactly a "wonderful world of fantasy," but it is false.

I am curious about your final statement: "I hope some day you'll join us." Why? Are you evangelizing me like the exterminator? When you sprang into my world with your question on my blog, you assumed I was trying to convince you that Christianity is true. I stated in my original answer that I neither have the power to do that nor the presumption that I have the power to do that. In other words, I'm not trying to convince you. Only the Holy Spirit can do that. Yet, it appears that you are trying to convince me. Why? What would be the purpose? Would my conversion to faith in atheistic evolution speed ahead the evolutionary process, akinto what Hitler thought he was doing in killing the Jews?

And what do you mean by "best wishes"? Are you wishing upon a star that my "life," whatever that means, would be the best? What would the best life look like? Obviously, I know that you are just being courteous. I'm throwing this in for the exterminator's pleasure (or pain). But "sincerely," what is "Best wishes" supposed to convey, given that you had said, "I hope you join us"?

Finally, @ phillychief,

Thanks for the link to Linden's book; I bookmarked it and might check it out after my upcoming vacation.

It seems that you believe the burden of proof is on me. Since I am a theist, you demand my proof for the existence of God. I'll offer Jesus Christ as my proof, along with His claims as recorded in the Bible. But, as I said to John Evo, I'm not trying to convince you. If I understand you guys correctly, you claim to be atheists, and from these posts, it appears that you are trying to convince me that you are right. Therefore, you must shoulder the burden of proof as well.

Paul Edwards, a prominent atheist and editor of The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, defines an atheist as "a person who maintains that there is no God." Atheism therefore implies a denial of God's existence, not just an absence of belief. Since you cannot prove the non-existence of God you are agnostics at best (or at worst). Therefore, you must say, as John Evo implied when discussing the soul earlier, that it is unproven.

Can you explain the existence of the universe? If you say it is eternal, then you are contradicting your god, "modern science," which claims a beginning (Big Bang) and a gradual running down (Second Law of Thermodynamics). Furthermore, if the universe was eternal, then it would have an infinite past. This, however, leads to a logical contradiction. By definition one can never reach the end of an infinite period of time; nevertheless, we have arrived at today, which completes or traverses the so-called infinite past.... If you affirm that the universe had a beginning, then you need to account for that. Ex nihilo, nihil fit - out of nothing, nothing comes. Perhaps it created itself, but for something to create itself, it would have to exist before it was created, and that is completely absurd.

So, in light of this dilemma, and as Ben Stein's recent documentary asked, "Why won't you admit even the possibility of an intelligent designer?"

I'll leave you with a "helpful" quote, since it addresses many of the topics that the three of you bring up, from Alvin Platinga:

"By way of conclusion: a natural way to understand such notions as rationality and irrationality is in terms of the proper functioning of the relevant cognitive equipment. Seen from this perspective, the question whether it is rational to believe in God without the evidential support of other propositions is really a metaphysical or theological dispute. The theist has an easy time explaining the notion of our cognitive equipment's functioning properly: our cognitive equipment functions properly when it functions in the way God designed it to function. The atheist evidential objector, however, owes us an account of this notion. What does he mean when he complains that the theist without evidence displays a cognitive defect of some sort? How does he understand the notion of cognitive malfunction?

The Exterminator said...


Well, you continue to use that old Christian trick of asking for definitions, but now you've put a new wrinkle on it: We can't turn to a dictionary because -- after all -- who has faith in that kind of silly book?

Therefore, I assume that any definition I would use would be subject to arbitrary challenge by you, and any definition you would use would be subject to arbitrary challenge by me.

Perhaps babbling and pointing at the sky -- essentially what you religionists do every time you engage in theological "conversation" -- is more effective in your world.

Cool debating technique, to refuse to use plain-spoken language, although dishonest and inane in that special way that only Christians are. But then, since you can't understand any of the words in this comment, there's no point in my writing that, is there?

And I would never try to evangelize you out of your death cult. You may be blissfully happy, like a small child with a cardboard box. It doesn't matter to me whether your insipid grin is based on reality or fantasy.

But, oops! You didn't understand that paragraph, either, did you? Perhaps I should show you a picture. The child is you. The box is Christianity.

PhillyChief said...


First, l will agree that it is the atheist's responsibility, if he wants a theist to stop being a theist, to justify an atheist position, much as it would for someone to justify sobriety to an alcoholic.

Second, we're both agnostics, for agnosticism is a statement of knowledge and neither of us have knowledge of the existence or non-existence of your god; however, absolute knowledge of the non-existence of something is absurd for it would require omniscience. You would literally have to know everything. In contrast, knowledge of something's existence is attainable, so it's reasonable to expect evidence for a claim of something's existence and also reasonable to dismiss those claims if they don't have evidence. That was the point of the sock gnomes, and Sagan's Dragon in the garage. Claims for their existence are unreasonable to accept.

Third, the christian bible as justification for god belief is circular logic and goes as follows: god is real for the bible is his word and the bible is true for it is the word of god. Also, the christian bible is not a credible source. Ignoring the contradictions and translation errors, the authorship is questionable, and the assembling of what's in and what's out at Nicea makes the whole thing laughable. As for Jesus, there's nothing outside of the bible that corroborates his existence (and before you throw Josephus at me, that passage has been discredited since the early 19th century as a forgery, most like by Eusebius in the 4th century) so it's just more circular logic.

Fourth, lack of an explanation is not justification for accepting anything. This was the action of our primitive ancestors and what gave rise to superstitions of all sorts, from sun worship to sacrifice. Humans have questioning minds and seek answers, and in ignorance will accept things that, if better educated, they would be less likely to. For instance, your ignorance of certain issues of science makes you discredit science and favor superstitious beliefs. To help dispel your ignorance, or lets just say lack of knowledge of the issues you're arguing, let me offer these corrections:
• Science is not worshipped. It's a process of understanding the world through examining evidence and making reasoned decisions, a process you, me, and every human engages in every day
• The Big Bang is not a beginning in the way you're seeing it, but rather a beginning to the universe we know. The universe could very well have collapsed and expanded many times before. You're reference to the 2nd law of thermodynamics makes no sense. My guess is you're "gradual running down" comment (or someone else's which you copy/pasted here) means you're confusing the decreased rate of expansion with loss of energy. The law of conservation of matter and energy enforces, not contradicts, the idea that the universe is eternal for neither can be created or destroyed.
• Infinite time - (You're copy/pasting from Craig, aren't you?). The problem is the notion of "now" being "reached". There's no demand of action. All an infinite past states is for now, which I'll call T 0, there's an infinite string of moments before now (T -1, T -2, etc). There's no traveling necessary. The concept of traveling is essential to Craig's argument, for he tries to argue that although an infinite past is theoretically possible, it can't manifest in reality. That's as contradictory as claiming an infinite past is impossible yet his god has an infinite past. A far more intelligent objection to Craig's arguing for mathematical infintes but dismissing physical infinites can be found here. As I pointed to above, there is no assertion to a beginning, so the idea of an infinite past is not contradicted.

Fifth, Plantinga's photo should be in the dictionary next to "obfuscation", for he blathers on and on and on to hide the fact that he's arguing either very simple and unreasonable points or that he's actually committing logical fallacies. Example:
"The theist has an easy time explaining the notion of our cognitive equipment's functioning properly: our cognitive equipment functions properly when it functions in the way God designed it to function."
Once again, a circular argument and begs the questions of:
• how do you know of the existence of this god?
• how do you know he's responsible for our "cognitive equipment"?

You could replace "god" with bigfoot, gnomes, or anything, therefore the assertion is meaningless without addressing those questions, and it is those very questions which have yet to be answered, and until they are, it's unreasonable to accept claims for the existence of a god, let alone claims of his actions.

John Evo said...


This is kind of a
long video, but I hope you watch it.

John Evo said...

Chip, I really don't have a comment to most of your last comment, other than to say: no - I'm not trying to convince you.

I say "I hope someday you'll join us" because I think it would be better for you and better for the rest of us. But I fully recognize the people that have to be left alone to do their own thing.

This post was never about convincing you or anyone else, although if you can see the folly in using fear of death to justify belief in god, then maybe you will, someday, be convinced on your own.

Unknown said...

This will have to be my last post for awhile, as I'm heading on vacation; but I'll check back upon my return, Lord willing, to say hello.

@the exterminator,

You must be really hard-headed (and hard-hearted) to miss my point, which is that faith is at the core of atheism and theism. And that's something that phillychief understands, so let's talk to him.

@ phillychief,

Thank you for acknowledging your agnosticism. I will have to deny your assertion that I am an agnostic, for I know, experientially, my God (1 John 5:13). As you state, to disprove the existence of God, one would have to attain omniscience. But, to prove the existence of God (at least to oneself), one would merely have to know Him, through His self-revelation to them, and this is what has happened to millions (and dare I say billions) of individuals worldwide.

You won't accept Jesus as evidence, primarily because you deny the Bible's truth. Now you know that I'm not going to accept your statement that "Ignoring the contradictions and translation errors, the authorship is questionable, and the assembling of what's in and what's out at Nicea makes the whole thing laughable." We really ought to pursue this further, especially in regards to prophecy.... But in the meantime, why is circular evidence necessarily bad evidence? I agree that it can be bad, but it's not necessarily bad. When I am sick, I feel sick. When I feel sick, I am sick. Though this reasoning is circular, it is good, because I can go to the doctor. If one did not follow the other, I'd be worse off, which brings my attention to good and bad - morality.

You are correct that I quoted Craig. He also says, "We cannot truly be good without God; but if we can in some measure be good, then it follows that God exists." Needless to say, there is a vast argument preceding this conclusion, of which I am sure you are aware. Not that it matters to you, but doesn't it follow from evolutionary atheism that nothing is good or bad, but all things are neutral and don't matter? Why or why not? I'm genuinely interested in learning on this point, since we seem to be hitting on the big four issues (origin, morality, purpose, and death) in this debate.

Moving on, your position on the eternality of the universe requires far more faith than Christianity. The evidence is not there, certainly not for science to investigate. Science cannot prove that Julius Caesar ruled Rome, much less that the universe is eternal.

Regarding Platinga, that's fine that you decry his argument, but what about answering his question? And if your answer places us both in the same boat, then we're back at square one.

Finally, I'd like to explore a couple more issues, like Pascal's wager ('s_Wager) and the topic of free will vs. determinism. But, alas, I must go. I'll check back to see if you have had anything to say in the weeks to come.

@ John Evo,

Thanks again for the invite to participate. Perhaps I could ask you to offer your answer to the same question you asked me: "What is the single greatest thing that you think your faith (since we've established that atheism, or agnosticism, or evolution, or all of them are ultimately faith-based) gives you now, or will give you in the future?

And if your answer relates to right understanding of reality or correct thinking or knowing the truth or something like that, then please elaborate on how that is a benefit, given your worldview. And might I go on to conclude, as you did with my answer, that your faith is based on a fear of the supernatural, a fear of God (or lack thereof)?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tip, I'll watch it.

I'm told my attitude is either very bad or very good. From the point of view of the religious, it's bad.

I had an appointment with the oncologist yesterday, and some of the other patients in the waiting room wanted to have a Word of Prayer. Told them go ahead, I'd just keep reading my novel. If my wife wanted to join the festivities, it was up to her.

After they were finished, it was inquired as to why I declined to join, and I said I had no belief, so I wasn't going to waste my time on it. If they wanted to do so, have a ball, include me out.

(In the meantime I'd run out of book and had found something else to occupy my attention)

The nurses were laughing, especially at me, when they took us to see the doc.

They heard people remonstrating with me, then they started on my wife, how could she allow me to go unsaved, blah, blah blah...

They heard my wife's answer, "I've known the man for forty six years, been married to him for forty of the. I'll never ask him to be dishonest or do anything that would diminish...his...digni...ty...leeeeave. The skeletonnn! ALONNNNE!!!"
They came in and saw that I had been, um, manipulating the skeleton, and that it had its hands stuck between its ribs and a foot in its mouth.

The one nurse said, "You are really interested in his dignity?"

Wife sat with head bowed, massaged her temples and merely moaned. Said I needed all I could get.

The one nurse gave my wife a good shoulder and neck rub (if someone says she deserved it, I won't say 'no') and they lead me away. They were laughing.

They tell me that this sort of attitude won't prolong my life, but it'll make it more enjoyable to everyone else around me if I can keep it up.

PhillyChief said...

"to prove the existence of God (at least to oneself), one would merely have to know Him, through His self-revelation to them, and this is what has happened to millions (and dare I say billions) of individuals worldwide."

That's not proof, for it's indistinguishable from delusion. If you want to offer numbers as either some sort of proof that it's right or proof of the improbability of such a mass delusion, then explain how the majority of humans who ever lived all "knew" the world was flat. How about the millions who "knew" Zeus was real? There are billions who "know" Jesus is not divine, and billions of them "know" Mohammed is god's prophet.

You should just give up on analogies Chip, because they're not your forte'. Your sick analogy doesn't hold because:
1) there's external evidence to support the argument, so it's not internally dependent, which is the crux of a circular argument
2) it's not always true (ie. - hypochondriacs, which considering the first part of this comment, are quite apropos to bring up)

There is no such thing as "evolutionary atheism". I'm sure there are those who are atheists and who accept evolution, but the two are independent of each other.

Origin is largely irrelevant.
There is no inherent purpose.
Morality is indeed an important topic.
Death is a fact of life.

Clearly you didn't read my actual response to the quote from Plantinga. If you had, you wouldn't have asked me your question.

Pascal's wager is a joke. Do your own homework and google it. People have been laughing at that long before I was born.

Anonymous said...

Why is it you guys provide all these good reasons for not arguing with a putz like Chip Crush, perfectly valid, sane reasons, and then you go ahead and argue with him?

Ask him how long it's been since he had his stroke. Now that would make sense, since it's evident he's brain-damaged. "Please teach me this, please teach me that, because I don't want to learn, I just need an excuse to spit my delusional propaganda at you."

He's just another fundogelical freak pretending logic and wasting bandwidth. Convene the coven, cast a spell and cast him back into the darkness from whence he escaped.

There are more important things to waste time on, like the betting pool on whether I'll get laid before I die. Dammit, that's important! I need the money.

PhillyChief said...

If you need the money, would you bet on yourself not getting laid, and how will you collect?

Refuting Chips' arguments (well other's arguments which Chip is presenting) isn't for just Chip's sake. You know there are thousands of lurkers here at Evo's site, and we wouldn't want any of them being lead astray by nonsense, would we? Well maybe you would, because you're a bastard, but that's understandable with all that sexual frustration of yours. ;)

John Evo said...

Sarge says: "I've known the man for forty six years, been married to him for forty of the. I'll never ask him to be dishonest or do anything that would diminish...his...digni...ty...leeeeave. The skeletonnn! ALONNNNE!!!"

LOL!! That's a fucking great story, Sarge. If there were a god, he'd let you live at least 600 and then not go out like this. So do it your way, bro. Of course you don't need a pup like me telling you that. You already have it covered.

Chip: We most certainly have not established that atheism, or agnosticism, or evolution, or all of them are ultimately faith-based! That's in your fondest wishes, but you saying so, don't make it so. So I really only have one final word for you.

The word is "Sarge".

John Evo said...

Chief said: You know there are thousands of lurkers here at Evo's site

HUNDREDS of thousands, Philly. Hundreds of thousands.

Prash said...

The first time I visit your blog. Frankly speaking, I am kind of lost ! *prash winks*

There are many topics here which I never bother to think in my life (ex: theism, faith, supernatural, eternal life etc.)...

I shall keep reading...

Lynet said...


Thanks for stopping by. Since we're arguing epistemology -- that is, we're arguing about foundations of knowledge -- I suspect I can answer a lot of your questions by explaining my single evidentiary criterion.

It goes like this. Something is more likely to be true if we have consilient evidence for it. Consilient evidence arises when separate ways of testing something turn out to give the same result. For example, if something can be detected by both X-ray diffraction and an electron microscope, this is evidence of three things -- it's evidence that something is actually there, and it's evidence that both X-ray diffraction and electron microscopes can be useful in detecting things accurately.

Similarly, if two religions from completely different parts of the world agreed with each other in great detail, this would be a boost to the credibility of both religions, and could be an indication that both religions are talking about something real. Regrettably, when it comes to the subject of God, people tend not to be able to agree on what it is that they are sensing, especially if they have not discussed it together beforehand!

If you want to tell me I have 'faith' in something, I suppose you could suggest that I have 'faith' in consilience as perhaps the only indicator of knowledge. I'm really not sure that this is a useful way to look at it, though.

Certainly I do not have 'faith' in atheism. Faced with consilient evidence for God, I would have to consider changing my position.

Anonymous said...

If you need the money, would you bet on yourself not getting laid, and how will you collect?

I'm a fair guy, so I won't bet. But I get to collect ten percent on each bet. (That's almost as good as sex...)

Refuting Chips' arguments (well other's arguments which Chip is presenting) isn't for just Chip's sake. You know there are thousands of lurkers here at Evo's site, and we wouldn't want any of them being lead astray by nonsense, would we?

I think that what the lurkers see is a muddle-headed theist tying intelligent atheists into knots. The only rational response to Chip and his ilk is 'Piss off!' That's also satisfying emotionally. Hmmm, I wonder if that fits in with Lynet's consilience theory? Two looks at the same thing - rational, emotional.

Well maybe you would, because you're a bastard, but that's understandable with all that sexual frustration of yours. ;)

Wrong. My parents were married. But I am nasty and mean and intolerant, tromping fools daily into the dust, living the life of an enraged pseudoiconoclast and loving it. That I haven't gone completely over the edge is due to the fact that I actually remember having sex with women, and hope to someday live the dream again. Sigh.

bdan29 said...

John Evo,

I came over here from Chip's blog and have been perusing the comments. One question I had early on was regarding if there are any "fears" that an atheist might have. However, it seems that Chip may have already asked that question just recently. If Christian/religious believers have some sort of innate fear of nature/death, do atheists not have that fear? Why or why not? Is there another fear they have - fear of the the supernatural, judgment, a supreme being that they have no control over?

Also, I had questions on a few different topics, but one line in particular stuck out regarding Christians' belief in the supernatural and your problem with that was:

"The mind and personal experience is not trustworthy in many areas."

So, does this "untrustworthiness" not carry over to one's atheism and perception of reality?

Thanks for your time,

PhillyChief said...

Atheists are humans, we have hopes and fears like anyone else, only we (generally) don't have fears stemming from things which there's no reason to believe exist. Gnomes, elves, chuppacabras, big foots (or feet?), ghosts, gods, angels, demons, and many many more fanciful creatures are not worth fearing since there's no reason to think they exist.

As to untrustworthiness of the mind and perception, that's precisely why we humans rely on each other, to corroborate our perceptions and test our thoughts with. If we did not, we could still be ok provided our minds were competent, but then how could we be sure they were? This is why personal revelation, "visions", voices in the head, and so forth are dismissed by critical thinkers. Whereas you may take a voice in your head as divine, I would take it as a sign something may be wrong, and I'd see a doctor.

bdan29 said...

Philly Chief - Since nature and death do exist, is it OK to fear them? (I don't, but just want to be clear.)

Anyway, I have to run - turns out there was a bank robbery across the street and I want to know for certain what happened. One person said there were two robbers, another said three. One man said they each had knives, but another woman said they all had guns. Two ladies said it was a blue get-away car, but another man said it was black. The good news is that we have a group of critical thinkers working together to corroborate their perceptions and test their thoughts. I'm sure it will be easy to figure out and all information can be trusted....

John Evo said...

I'll tell you what, Bdan...

You put together all of that testimony, then you look at any video from the scene and surrounding area, dust for fingerprints, check any DNA evidence that might have been left in the form of hair or blood, verify the alibis of potential suspects, etc. and you might come to the answer. Maybe not. There might not ever be enough evidence.

Or you could just say "it's the work of Satan" and pray about it. It's your choice how you see life and how you live it.

As to your "fear" question... yes. It's perfectly ok to have fear. It's not ok that it explains why you believe in god. But I'm repeating Philly here. I don't mind questions, but if you insist on repeating them after perfectly good answers, you will start getting ignored pretty quickly. Then you will go away convinced that you stumped me. Carry on.

PhillyChief said...

You can fear whatever you want. Some fears are healthy, and actually are lacking in this country like:
• fearing whether you could REALLY afford that mortgage before signing
• fearing maybe you can't multitask well, especially if some of those tasks include texting and driving
• fearing whether that politician whose campaign is funded by big corporations like ExxonMobile really can relate and give a crap about you
• fearing whether it was smart to buy that Hummer
• fearing whether you a half shirt and/or low cut jeans might not be right for you
• fearing what will happen if we further erode our Educational system
• fearing whether giving up freedoms for promises of safety is worth it

I could go on all day. Fear is healthy as long as you don't allow it to rule you.

Anonymous said...

And then of course there's fear of Philly...

bdan29 said...

John Evo,

I agree that with our bank robbery you should examine all the evidence (DNA, video, etc.) - it would be foolish not to. After all, sometimes the critical thinkers have wide variations of perception and it's hard to figure anything out. Then again, when you have several witnesses and all of their stories match, and you can't find any ulterior motives or opposing viewpoints, then the witnesses might have some credence.

Just saying "it's the work of Satan" doesn't really help and I don't know of anyone who would simply do that and walk away.

Sorry for repeating my question for Philly, but we started this post with the premise that nature/death (real things) create a supernatural belief. Philly was suggesting that supernatural belief comes from irrational fears of things like faries, angels, gnomes, etc. (not real things). I thought it was important to keep that original premise clear.

And as for that original premise, I'm not convinced that it's been proven. Philly rightfully pointed out that there are many healthy and helpful fears, but I still don't see how a fear of death leads to a supernatural belief. Of course, I'm pretty sure you would say that the supernatural is not "real", so I would take that a step further and guess you would say "People have made up a beleif in the supernatural in order to alleviate their fears about death/nature." I suppose people will try to deny truth about their fear, or at least ignore it, but that only goes so far. Rarely does someone just make something up to try and alleviate a fear, but if they do it will be temporary, weak, and eventually be exposed. The fear will not be removed until something with strong evidence proves that there's really nothing to fear.

The Exterminator said...

You seem to have taken Philly's "critical thinkers" and turned it into a pejorative; I can almost hear your smug chuckle as you use the term.

So, shall we class you among the uncritical thinkers? Or the critical nonthinkers? Or perhaps just the uncritical, nonthinking supersitition-mongers?

Please advise. How would you like to refer in future to the people who use their brains the way you do? Or, more correctly, who don't use their brains the way you don't?

John Evo said...

Bdan said: And as for that original premise, I'm not convinced that it's been proven.

True enough. If you go back to the first post in this series, titled "40,000 men and women everyday", you'll see I concluded with:

I’m neither suggesting that there are no other reasons that people follow their superstitions or that this small, anecdotal group verifies my point. I’ll leave that to the experts. I’d love to see some controlled study that looks into peoples deepest motivations for believing in mystical answers.

What I can say is that every religion that has every existed has, as a part of it's mythology, the notion of a spirit world. It is usually a place where the "afterlife" is lived and there is usually a different place (or places) for those who don't live this life "as they should".

I can also say that I believe most people will include this "afterlife" as part of their primary reason for their belief, even though they have no evidence either for an afterlife or that their particular superstition about death is "the" correct one (out of thousands that have been created).

I conclude that fear of death has a lot to do with religion. I think if it is empirically studied, we will see that it is the main motivation. But, as far as I know, that study hasn't been done. In any case, I don't have the evidence (yet) that supports my supposition.

PhillyChief said...

"Philly was suggesting that supernatural belief comes from irrational fears of things like faries, angels, gnomes, etc. (not real things)."

Not quite. Supernatural beliefs can come in response to real things. Death is real, yet people have some wild beliefs in regard to it, from reincarnation to pearly gates. Hurricanes are real, yet some claim they are the expressions of wrath from their god. Medicine is real, but when someone is cured by it they'll call it a miracle.

"Rarely does someone just make something up to try and alleviate a fear, but if they do it will be temporary, weak, and eventually be exposed."

Two things wrong with that:
1) Assumes an individual is the creator of the lie
2) Assumes that when faced with a belief being discredited, people will either cease to accept the belief or cease to act on the belief

First, the idea of souls, an afterlife, and a big guy in the sky are not new inventions. They're ideas that have been handed down for ages.

Second, how many people still smoke? How many people still eat too much or eat fatty food and forego exercise despite EVERYTHING around them pointing to that being not just unhealthy, but potentially deadly?

People choose to believe what they want to believe every day, despite what's readily known and what they might actually know themselves. Why should religion be any different? We all rationalize indulgences. Right now I'm rationalizing spending the time to write this despite knowing the reality that I should be working.

Look, death sucks. Who wants to cease to be? Who wants to face that their loved ones who died are gone forever? So a way to cope is to indulge in a belief that you won't cease, and they didn't cease, and one day you'll all be together again laughing and eating cream cheese. That's very cute, but it ignores reality. Now I can't say having this coping mechanism is completely bad, but when it gets tied to beliefs that you won't get to see them and eat cream cheese if you:
• permit gays to marry
• read a certain book or see a certain show
• have premarital sex
• say "fuck"
• vote Democrat
or any other crazy thing, well then that's a problem.

John Evo said...

From Jesse Bering of The University of Geneva, this seems to show both the veracity of my intuitions, that it hasn't been properly studied, and that it is an area wide open to cognitive scientists who want to do the research.

bdan29 said...

Sorry I've been away (but maybe you're OK with that!) Quick response to a couple of things:

The Exterminator: Classify me however you choose. As for critical thinkers, I think everyone is one on some level. Even my four year old daughter puts things together everyday by using critical analysis. For waht it's worth, I think most of what I've seen here has been solid evidence evidence of critical thought. Complete and truly honest thought, well, that's another issue.

For PhillyChief:

You said:
Two things wrong with that:
1) Assumes an individual is the creator of the lie
2) Assumes that when faced with a belief being discredited, people will either cease to accept the belief or cease to act on the belief

My response:
1) My apology - I didn't take that far enough - certainly someone can (and most often does) beleive a previous belief. However, if it is a lie, they must set up some "comfort barriers" in their mind but eventually that will weaken upon any true examination (but admittedly that sometimes does not come).
2) Yes - people will continue to smoke and eat fast food despite clear evidence of the effects those activities have on us. But if you asked any of them if they don't beleive it will affect them, would they say it wouldn't? Of course not - the consequences are too far off, they figure it might just shave off a few elderly years at the end, they might even figure there will be cures for the resulting ailments down the line. But they would never get to a point that they would actually beleive there will be no effects due to their choices. They would rather ignore it because if they truly thought long and hard about the evidence they would have to change how they live.

I'll now take a couple of your lines yet change one word - just something to think about:

People choose to believe what they want to believe every day, despite what's readily known and what they might actually know themselves. Why should atheism be any different?

And lastly, my sincere apologies if over time you have come to beleive that how you finished your last post is what the Christian faith is all about. I am certain that most of what you said there was from your observations of what you have seen displayed by Christians (or those who at least claim to be) who have hijacked the gospel for their own agenda, and for that I am truly sorry.

John Evo:

Great news, John - just this weekend I was watching an evangelical video and it discussed some of the thoughts we have about life: Whay are we here? What is our purpose? FEARS about death and what happens to us!

I immediately thought of you! Data for your research - there it was - the fear of death thing!

However, in this case, it was merely a starting point (among others) for one's search, not the basis for their belief.

I had lots more to say and I'll try to come back in a day or two - I think Chip Crush will be back from vacation soon and may stop in as well.

PhillyChief said...

"People choose to believe what they want to believe every day, despite what's readily known and what they might actually know themselves. Why should atheism be any different? "

You do know that atheism means a non-acceptance of all current god claims, right? It's not 'hey, there's no god', right? I have to check, because that's a point of confusion. Essentially, atheism looks at the current god claims, studies them and then determines them crap. There might well be a god, or multiple gods, and/or elves, unicorns, gnomes, bigfoot, and so forth but so far there hasn't been a credible claim for any of that stuff yet. In light of that, it's certainly not reasonable to believe any of those things exist.

There are people who believe they are impervious to the effects of smoking or poor diet and exercise. I have family members who think they can erase the harm done in the past by good habits now. I also remember as a teen working in a deli where people would order the most fattening things and a diet coke. I can only assume they figured the diet coke magically erased the harm of the food. You grossly underestimate what people are willing to believe, bdan29.

The Exterminator said...


I'm having a little trouble following the thread, so could you succinctly state, in one or two sentences, what you're trying to prove here?

And, just as a side question, do you speak for or represent Chip Crush in any way? I thought we'd already pretty much determined that he was an idiot.

Unknown said...

I appreciate this commentary, because it has caused me to revisit many issues to see whether Christianity (and theism less specifically) can be deemed rational, or reasonable. While it may be that few people will be scrolling through to read this string in its entirety, I'd like to offer an essay summing up my position. You can view it here:
Thanks again.