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Really, Really Sick

I have varying reactions to the people I debate controversial topics (especially religion) with. Sometimes I feel contempt because I realise they are deliberately lying to support a view they know is untrue, sometimes I feel annoyance because I think the person isn’t making the effort to inform themselves about a subject, and sometimes I feel sympathy because I realise someone has completely lost touch with reality and their delusions have reached the point of being a genuine psychological problem.

You guessed it. Recently I have debated someone who, in my opinion, really needs help from a professional. His beliefs are so deluded, so sick, and so sad, that it’s not just a matter of him being ignorant, or misinformed, or intolerant – he is genuinely psychologically damaged. Whether these problems lead him to the particular beliefs he now has or whether the problem occurred as result of these beliefs I’m not sure.

I should say at this point that I’m not a professional psychologist or psychiatrist. I do have an undergrad degree in psychology but I’m not pretending that makes me qualified to make a diagnosis – that’s why I suggested he get professional help. Maybe that would reveal there is no problem but I don’t think so.

I want to share some of the emails we have exchanged recently to show the thought processes he (and many other extreme conservative Christians) have. I don’t usually do this without permission but I’m only using representative parts and there will be no way to know who they other person is, so here it is…

Here’s his opening paragraph which was supposed to answer the question of why god allows bad things to happen to good people (you know, the old classic question): “you are not innocent owen, nor am i, nor is anyone. its not the case that you have sinned, you have never done anything but sin. you are a self righteous, arrogant, abomination.”

Many people would find that rather insulting. Calling someone an “abomination” seems rather extreme! But you can see where this sort of thing is heading – it explains any evil act this particular god commits because we are unworthy of fair treatment. One thing bothers me though (and should worry my opponent too): why did his god create such abominations? Couldn’t he do any better?

Making people feel inferior and unworthy is a classic control technique. Slaves are taught they are only allowed to exist because of the generosity of their masters. It’s obvious to me why Christianity encourages this sort of attitude – it’s a form of mind control.

In answer to why his god’s love is expressed in such odd ways (death, suffering, disease, war, famine, etc) he replied with this: “gee… again you rant with no understanding at all, you still cant understand that this is a true Love God offers.”

So his god’s true love consists of suffering and death. Gee, thanks.

He continues: “The fact is that owen you dont deserve you next breath, and it is by Gods grace that he allows you another day as you live in rebellion to him constantly. those people God killed were just like you owen, murderers, fornicators, adulterers, liers, theives, sexual abominations in His sight…” [By the way, please excuse the fact that this person is barely literate]

So I don’t deserve to live according to his god. That seems a bit harsh. Why create humans if they don’t deserve to live? And I can assure you that I am not a murderer, fornicator, adulterer, liar, or a thief. And I don’t think I’m a “sexual abomination” either, whatever that is. But you can see how this is starting to demonstrate a psychotic tendency because having such strong revulsion for your fellow humans (and yourself) isn’t healthy.

But now the real truth behind the rant is revealed: “living and rebeling against Him and everything God has said since the beginning. Hating God in their hearts, pushing Him from their thoughts (even willing to deny His exsistance (hint,hint)). God has and is just in His actions, the fact is you deserve the same!! and the fact that He doesnt kill you owen does not make God unjust for killing people in times past, God hates sin and in early times he punished it severly because it literally shettered the chance of our survival. diseases are the result of our own filthiness and sin” [Oh no, “literally shettered” – that sounds bad!]

Wow! Just wow. It just gets sicker and sicker. But you can see why the church has encouraged this way of thinking. It’s all about discouraging rebellion against the authority of the church (they say it’s against god, of course). How sad and disgusting is that? You can see why I feel a bit sorry for this church’s victims.

There’s more of the same (which I won’t torture you with), then later he goes on to this: “You are so influenced by the world you live in owen, someone tells you what to wear, what to drive, what is cool, where to go, how to act.”

I’ve never met this person in real life and there’s no way he could possibly know these things and they are completely untrue. Everyone is influenced by the society they live in to some extent but I have a reputation of being a “free spirit” and not someone who blindly follows trends. And anyway, I would rather be influenced by the world I live in than by a fantasy world which doesn’t exist.

The rant continues: “Media tells you how to relate to fellow man, adultery, fornication, lies, coveteousness, blasphemy, pridefulness, deceitfuless, slanderous, gossip are just some of the lies we love to hear. you fall right into the lie owen and love it and you do not even know it. you are just the result of your society and what it has sold you. A fish does not know it is wet………..”

Again with the fornication! I have no idea why he would think I am unusually interested in that particular sin, or any of the others (apart from blasphemy, of course). I actually try to avoid most of the sins mentioned in the Bible because they are basic rules for living which work in human societies. I don’t follow them because they are in the Bible of course, I avoid them because they make sense and they are part of many cultures and philosophies and they certainly didn’t originate in Christianity.

Finally, he gives one last piece of advice: “repent.”

Does he really think I would submit to the disgusting, despicable abomination of a religion (see I can use those words too) he follows? Even if I thought his sick, childish god existed I would never submit to him. Some things are right and some things are just wrong. What this guy believes is as wrong as anything can be.

  1. May 22, 2010 at 5:02 am

    Just fyi, it’s not just him, it’s not just the Christian Church, it’s the Bible itself that says that you and I don’t deserve to live. The Bible doesn’t say that we are unworthy of fair treatment, it says that fair treatment for us would mean destruction. (and by the way, it also says that no, God didn’t create us that way)
    If I need to back this up by citing particular Bible passages, I can, but I just wanted to point out that this is not just some crazy individual with a twisted worldview: this is (more or less) the worldview contained in the best selling book of all time.

  2. ojb42
    May 22, 2010 at 9:31 am

    Yes, I agree that the Bible can be interpreted that way but most people don’t. I see the Bible as a sort of “Rorschach Inkblot Test” – it reveals what the reader wants to see more than it contains any real truth. I think that’s because people are looking for meaning in the Bible which doesn’t exist. Its supposed to be the word of god but its just a bunch of old myths written by some desert nomads and a bunch of semi-literate peasants! OK, maybe that’s not strictly true but you know what I mean.

  3. May 23, 2010 at 3:16 am

    It’s not an issue of interpretation; admittedly, there are some details in the Bible that would make sense with various interpretations, but most “revealing of what the reader wants to see” comes from the total ignoring of huge portions of several Biblical books. Again, if examples are necessary, they can be provided.

    Also you say it’s just a bunch of old myths. That’s pretty much the million dollar question, isn’t it? Is the Bible actually true? If not, by its own admission, it is useless. My point, though, is that you can’t just dismiss it as myths as if that refutes it. If you want to defeat the Bible, you have to prove that it is merely myth, that all those miracles didn’t actually happen, etc, etc.

  4. ojb42
    May 23, 2010 at 3:25 am

    I think it actually is a matter of interpretation because I debate many Christians and every one of them has a different idea of what the Bible means. Most take the convenient path of claiming many parts are metaphorical rather than literal. They never give any method of telling which is which though!

    So I agree that ignoring (or treating as poetry, metaphor, allegory, etc) large parts of the Bible is a common behaviour but that’s precisely what I’m talking about. People pick and choose what they want depending on internal factors, including politics, what propaganda they have been exposed to, etc.

    Most of the Bible is clearly untrue. Only a totally unreasonable person (for example a creationist) would not see this. The creation story is obviously untrue. Exodus is totally unsupported by history and archaeology, etc, etc. There are sections based on real history but this doesn’t rescue the Bible as a whole any more than the sections of truth in a historical novel would prove that novel was true.

  5. May 23, 2010 at 11:22 pm

    So, if hundreds of thousands of people interpreted Plutarch’s “Life of Caesar” in conflicting ways, would that change what Plutarch was actually saying?

    Incedentally, much of the Bible *is* obviously poetry, but poetry isn’t necessarily untrue.

    The Bible is only “clearly un-true” to some people; that is to say, it is clearly incompatible with the worldviews of people like you, and since you (naturally) believe your own worldview, you say the Bible is clearly untrue, and many of the scientists that our secluded western society so reveres support you in your beliefs. However, not everyone puts as much confidence in the observations of scientists. Personally, I have more than a few issues to raise with atheistic evolution. For example: If our thoughts and beliefs are nothing more than complex ongoing biochemical reactions, how can you know that your thoughts can ever lead to truth? Sure, you may think that you have found the truth, (and that the truth is that we are just matter/physical energy) but if that is the truth, how can you have any confidence in actually finding truth? If we are merely complex machines, doesn’t that mean we are forced to believe a particular thing, whether it is true or not?

    The Bible is not a novel. It is a historical document, one that has far more architectural collaboration than many other documents that are accepted as accurate historical accounts. As a matter of fact, to the best of my knowledge, the only reason you (or anyone else) could have to *not* believe the historicity of the Bible is that it is incompatible, not with architecture, but with the worldview you already believe. This, of course, is perfectly understandable, because everyone does that: I exclude countless writings, both atheistic and religious, not because they directly contradict what I see with my immediate senses, but because they are not compatible with the worldview that I thing best explains reality.

  6. ojb42
    May 23, 2010 at 11:35 pm

    Major parts of the Bible are clearly untrue to anyone who is prepared to apply a rigorous standard of skepticism to it – the same sort of standard they would apply to anything else. Only people who have already decided it is true for religious or political reasons could possibly not see the untrue stories for what they are.

    Ultimately we can never be sure that our thoughts are valid or what we experience is real. We all know about “cogito ergo sum”, right? But if we take that attitude we can never know anything and all debate is pointless. To make any meaningful progress we have to accept that the whole world isn’t an illusion and applying strict controls to our attempts to understand the world will reveal the closest thing to the truth we can expect.

    The only worldview I have is that we should question everything and only believe what can be tested using objective, controlled observations and experiments. These all show many stories in the Bible aren’t true.

    If the Bible is true can you explain why the observations of dozens of areas of science disagree with it? And why anthropologists and historians can’t find evidence of some of the events? The worldview disproving the Bible is an insistence on trying to establish the real truth by the best methods available. If that’s my worldview then I’m very happy with it. What about yours?

  7. May 24, 2010 at 3:41 am

    First, I am curious. Have you applied the same rigorous standards of skepticism to atheism? Do the traditional Theistic apologetic arguments (cosmological, and teleological being the most significant, in my opinion) swing no weight with you?

    You have a worldview that says that the scientific method is king. Again, I am curious. Why use science to discover ultimate truth? If “we should question everything and only believe what can be tested using objective, controlled observations and experiments,” then what controlled experiments have led you to believe that controlled experiments are what we should believe in? Do you understand my question? It seems to me that science has to stand on something else, something more basic. (and something other than the simple idea that real truth is knowable)
    And, for a third time, I am curious. Would you mind listing some of the “observations of dozens of areas of science [that] disagree with [the Bible]?”
    And, for that matt

  8. ojb42
    May 24, 2010 at 3:52 am

    I try to apply the same standards to everything. Of course I recognise that everyone has some bias so that’s not easy. The only argument which I find in the least bit interesting is the anthropic principle and even that has several alternative explanations. And another point: even if a case can be made for a god, how do we know which god it should be?

    Did I mention the scientific method? I don’t think so. I siad we should use testable, objective, observations. Sure that is close to the scientific method but its more than that: its just logic and common sense.

    I have already discussed the debate on whether ultimate truth is knowable. As a philosophical point we would admit that it isn’t but from a practical perspective we assume it is, although with the proviso that any theory should be questioned and might be found to be untrue.

    Here’s an example: Genesis states a certain order of creation. From biology, geology, astronomy, chemistry, genetics, cosmology we know that’s not true.

  9. ojb42
    May 28, 2010 at 5:02 am

    Any thoughts? Do you not agree that all of those sciences indicate Genesis is wrong?

  10. May 30, 2010 at 3:52 am

    You are correct- *the* scientific method, as the term means today, refers to a very specific thing. I merely meant that you put supreme weight with a process of thought that is scientific and methodical. However, my question still stands: do you rely on science to teach you that science is reliable, or do you use something else? Or are you possibly saying that nothing tells you science is reliable, you merely choose it because nothing else is reliable either?

    You are correct, Genesis lists an order of creation. It also teaches that (apparently) the fundamental laws that this universe follows were changed at the time of the curse, God’s judgment on humanity. Laying that aside, I have seen a few archeological, geological, etc. discoveries that do not seem to line up with Genesis. I do not change my beliefs based on that, however, for at least two primary reasons:

    1) There have been many discoveries in the past that seemed to contradict, but were later negated by further discovery (or refutation). Some of these discoveries have been hoaxes or have been entirely protected from examination by *anyone* who would be inclined to disagree with the “official” explanation. I am not saying that there is a conspiracy, merely that certain people/organizations are guilty of not always being properly scientific.

    2) There are also many discoveries that seem to contradict the other primary religion (religion here used in the broadest sense: “a set of beliefs about ultimate reality”) being discussed here, atheism/naturalism. There are many, many things in the fossil record (and other areas) that I have yet to hear a full-blooded evolutionist give explanation for. Usually, when I list things that seem to contradict an atheists world-view, rather than explaining them they respond with their own, much longer list of things. If I try to respond to any particular item on their list, as I want them to do to my list, they usually respond with what I call the “fallacy of to many terms.” It is something that people of all religions are guilty of, and it is one of the most annoying things anyone can do- and as a matter of fact, I think I am going to end this comment and go write a post on my own little blog, describing the “fallacy of to many terms.” If you want an explanation of it, feel free to look up my blog. (Shameless self promotion, I know, but it really is to large to describe in a comment)

  11. ojb42
    May 30, 2010 at 5:13 am

    No, I don’t rely on science to prove science is reliable, I rely on common sense and real world outcomes. Is it not just common sense that repeated testing and objective observation of real, physical phenomena will give the most fair outcome? And has science not given us so much (especially compared to religion which has given us almost nothing). Do these things not indicate there is something “right” about how science is done?

    If you really think those things you are living in a dream world. Occasionally a scientific discovery is shown to be wrong and there have been a few minor hoaxes as well but none of that changes the big picture. There is practically no chance that the Earth is older than the stars (as claimed by Genesis) for example (although the stars’ age vary of course).

    Interesting definition of the world “religion” and one I totally reject. That’s just an attempt to confuse the issue by introducing a totally misleading and inappropriate word. Science and atheism clearly aren’t religions by any reasonable definition.

    I would be interested to hear your list of things which you think contradicts the naturalistic world view, especially the “many many things” in the fossil record.

    I will look at your “fallacy of to [sic] many terms” although I am quite familiar with fallacies and have never heard of that one before!

    I’m very happy to respond to anything you think contradicts the scientific, naturalistic, atheistic world view. What have you got?

  12. May 31, 2010 at 7:04 am

    “Is it not just common sense that repeated testing and objective observation of real, physical phenomena will give the most fair outcome?”
    Whether you call it common sense or not, it’s nothing more (or less) than part of your worldview. It’s not something outside your worldview that you are using to support it.

    You think that religion, even in its broadest sense, does not include atheism? I can think of at least one atheist I’ve debated who would heartily disagree with you, but I’m not going to press the issue. I’ll stick with the term “worldview.”

    Sorry about the grammar problem. You should see my spelling, without spellcheck.
    It’s not a formal fallacy. That is merely the name I have given it. Be forewarned, by the way, that the post is a bit scrambled. It is not what I would choose to represent my skill as a writer.

    As far as a list of problems, I’ll start with a few that are very commonly used arguments that I *still* have never heard a satisfactory answer to.

    What is your explanation for individual fossils that are embedded in multiple layers of rock which are supposed to be countless years apart?
    How do you avoid infinite regress?
    How do you maintain any genuine system of objective morality?
    Why has increased (and potentially useful) complexity via unguided (or guided, for that matter) mutation never been observed in the laboratory? (If it has been observed, please provide examples)

    I have others, but I prefer to deal with such things a few at a time.

  13. ojb42
    May 31, 2010 at 7:37 am

    Why could I use something outside of my worldview? Those are things I think have no credibility. Can you see any flaw in my logic there? Do you deny – whatever your worldview – that the scientific method is both sensible and gets results?

    Oxford American Dictionary says “religion noun: the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, esp. a personal God or god.” This applies to atheism how exactly? Using the wider sense renders the word meaningless. Also atheism is the the specific lack of belief in a god. How can that possibly be a religion?

    The fossils embedded in multiple layers are well understood. They are the result of a burial, or a tall object being successively buried, or of folding and tilting of plates. (I’ll find a reference for this).

    Can you explain further what you mean by “infinite regress” in this context?

    Objective morality doesn’t exist, but because humans evolved as a social species there is a set of rules that all sane humans would agree on.

    There have been many examples of evolution observed in the lab. (I’ll post some links here soon).

    Honestly, if you haven’t seen answers to these questions you can’t have been looking very hard!

  14. ojb42
    May 31, 2010 at 8:02 am

    Regarding the fossils. Is this the issue you were referring to?…

    Regarding evolution being observed in the lab, try this:

    There are so many other examples I hardly know where to start, here’s another…

  15. ojb42
    June 5, 2010 at 10:17 pm

    Do you see any flaws in my logic and information sources? Comments?

  16. June 6, 2010 at 3:44 am

    I’m sorry I have not responded yet. I have most of a reply written out, and I will attempt to post that shortly.

  17. June 13, 2010 at 2:15 am

    Yes, my worldview includes a place for science. I believe that it is a great way for gathering knowledge, insofar as it goes. In this sense, our worldviews overlap, although I do not believe that it (scientific method) will be able to assist us with details about ultimate reality. The problem is that science is really nothing more than refined, systematic observations, and I am not an empiricist.

    Atheism technically is not a lack of a belief in God/gods- that would include both atheism and agnosticism. Atheism is a particular belief about God/gods: He/they does/do not exist. There are other definitions for the word “religion” that would include atheism; you merely chose *one* that supported your argument. Here are a few more (taken from Dictionary.com):
    1. a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs. (Please note the “esp.” an the “often”)
    2. a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects
    3. the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices

    However, if calling Atheism a religion is just too offensive because it associates the sacred name of godlessness with all the grime and evil that a belief in a deity necessitates, I will refrain from using the word religion- understand, though, that I am not admitting that Atheism vs. religion is the great conflict in the world, any more than Islam vs non-Islam is or Christianity vs. non-Christianity is.

    Infinite regress. . . assuming that you are a true atheist/naturalist- assuming, that is to say, that you believe that *everything,* in all of time, has followed the same laws of nature- then how to you explain the existence of the universe? If you believe in the “Big Bang,” in some form or another, and if it happened *naturally,* then it *must* have had a natural cause. Also, the Big Bang’s cause must have had a cause, and so on, ad nauseam.

    “Objective morality doesn’t exist…”
    If there is no objective morality, then truth is not actually better than falsehood, Nazi Germany’s social system is no worse than our own. (and, if you say “Yes it was! It was less functional/accepted,” please foresee that I am going to ask how you can justify saying that functionality/state of acceptance is better) Do you recognize this?

    Your link on the fossilization of still-vertical trees is unsatisfactory for several reasons, but the most important one is that it does not seem to carry over into other fossils- individual fish, for example, that are embedded in multiple layers of rock that (supposedly) formed far apart.

    Before I wade through the other two links, I would like make sure that they are actually discussing *increased* complexity in individual genetic codes. I, and nearly every other educated and intelligent person I know, acknowledges speciation, though many (including myself) add the qualification that it only occurs by the breakdown of a greater design. If you want to call speciation by genetic degeneration “evolution,” go right ahead, and I am actually rather a passionate evolutionist. If these links don’t just discuss speciation, but instead discuss *positive* speciation, rather than degenerative speciation, let me know, and I will go through the two articles in depth.

    In order to expand on several of the ideas I have brushed on, let me give a Youtube video. It is a lecture given at UC Berkeley by a protestant clergyman who responds to inaccurate ideas of religion dying out in modern societies. The link is here, don’t be turned away by the less than exciting introductions of the speaker, and don’t worry about watching the whole movie; half of it is the question and answer session at the end.

  18. ojb42
    June 13, 2010 at 2:44 am

    If science can’t assist with ideas of ultimate reality (or anything else) then what can? Not religion because religion proves nothing. Every religion has equal validity so how do we choose between religious theories without empiricism?

    There’s a lot of debate about what atheism really is. All the atheists I know say they think there is no god based on current evidence. That could change if the evidence changed and no real belief is involved. If you prefer to call that agnosticism or anything else go ahead, but those are the facts.

    The Big Bang didn’t need a cause. Quantum theory shows that some events occur with no cause. There’s also a possibility. being taken more seriously recently, that the Universe is part of a multiverse which might have always existed. Our universe is a local part of that which formed through a collision or other physical process. Whatever the explanation, resorting to superstition is unnecessary.

    I guess it depends on your definition of “objective” morality. Maybe I should have siad there’s no morality imposed by an outside agency. The almost universal morality that people follow comes from inside the human community. Not sure if that makes it objective or not, but it is one most people agree on.

    Show me a credible source for major debate over polystrate fossils and I’ll take that claim seriously. Its an old argument creationists have used but its been adequately explained according to the scientific sources I have.

    Increased complexity is very easy to explain. Duplication of areas of genetic material is a very common and has been documented in many experiments. When that information is duplicated the new copy is free to mutate independently which produces new information and increased complexity.

    I’ll have a look at the video when I have time.

  19. ojb42
    June 13, 2010 at 3:52 am

    Not sure, but maybe this is the sort of “polystrate” fossil you were referring to: http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CC/CC335.html

  20. June 13, 2010 at 5:17 am

    Yes, that link is closer, but are you saying that all polystratified fossils can be explained with similar things? I am not saying there is huge debate on the subject, merely that I have yet to hear a satisfactory answer.

    As to the continued topic of infinite regress and the Big Bang, you say “Quantum theory shows that some events occur with no cause. There’s also a possibility. being taken more seriously recently, that the Universe is part of a multiverse which might have always existed… Whatever the explanation, resorting to superstition is unnecessary.”
    I fail to see how you can explain it without resorting to something *equivalent* to my so called superstition. Uncaused cause? Quantum theory… please understand, I’m operating as a philosopher *outside* of your naturalistic worldview, and so I don’t follow the details of new scientific *theory* any more than you follow the latest Christian theologian’s interpretation of the book of Revelation. Once it becomes fully mainstream, then I may study it enough to actually agree or disagree. Until then, though, my knowledge of new scientific thought is going to be very very limited. Do you have any scientific evidence for this Quantum Theory uncaused cause than that you need to insert an uncaused cause somewhere? If that is so, how is that more scientific that my cosmological or teleological arguments? The Big Bang didn’t need a cause? How can you call that “natural” then, and not merely a non-personal supernatural cause?

    “Duplication of areas of genetic material is a very common and has been documented in many experiments.” I am aware of a few examples of this, but not of any that were actually productive. Even if you can get something as extreme as an extra pair of limbs from genetic duplication, and those start to mutate… I still fail to see how you get a more complex biological structure- just a more chaotic one. Perhaps I’m not clear; a junkyard may be more physically complex than a used car lot, but the car lot is more complex, using the more positive meaning of “complex.” So, in one sense, I believe in evolution; I believe that we have more species now than at the start of the world, but I believe that has resulted from different genetic breakdowns.

    By the way, you don’t half to watch all the questions and answers in that video, but you may find them interesting. One, in particular, seems to be more of an attempted refutation the the speaker’s thought than a question; you may even think it is a successful refutation. (I think it merely seems to be, on a surface level, but does not really address the heart of the issue)

    The video addresses such things as evolutionary roots for religion, naturalistic skepticism, and (in the Q and A) historical reliability of the Bible’s claims.

  21. ojb42
    June 13, 2010 at 5:28 am

    I’m saying that I haven’t seen any really clear examples where there isn’t some reasonable explanation. Amongst the millions of fossils discovered I would be surprised if their weren’t a few odd examples but these could be the result of really unusual phenomena we normally wouldn’t consider likely.

    You seem to be resorting to some sort of relativism. I totally disagree that the truth depends on your cultural or other beliefs. The fact that science gets results and is based on well tested logic makes it superior to other methodologies in my opinion. Interpreting Revelation (or any other mythology) is a useless way to establish the truth.

    Yes, it depends on your definition of complexity but it doesn’t matter which one you use: evolution still achieves it. The reason it works is that evolution *is* guided (its not random as many people assume) but only by natural processes.

    Still haven’t had time to watch the video. Will post back here when I do.

  22. ojb42
    June 13, 2010 at 5:39 am

    BTW, did you send a link to the video? I did a bit of a search but wasn’t sure what to really look for.

  23. June 13, 2010 at 11:33 pm

    I thought that I had already given it to you, but perhaps not. Anyhow, here it is. Let me know what you think.

  24. ojb42
    June 14, 2010 at 9:56 am

    I watched all 1.5 hours (including replaying some sections – never let it be said I don’t give these things a fair chance) of this and left this comment…

    Obviously an intelligent person but his silly Christian beliefs totally blind him to the facts. That talk was so full of half truths, logical fallacies, biased opinions, conspiracy theories, circular logic, and other nonsense that it was almost a waste of time. On the other hand, it made a lot more sense than most of the stuff I’ve heard from real fundies!

    Not sure what you expected me to get out of this.

    That stuff about the historicity of the gospels is pretty weak. One book claims they are eye witness accounts. Well no one else does. And he thinks this will overtake existing scholarship? He just believes what suits his existing beliefs.

  25. June 14, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    Needless to say, I didn’t expect one video to convince you, but I do think that your opinion on the video is quite inaccurate. First, there isn’t a conspiracy mentioned in the whole video. If you are referring to the older professors ignoring things to protect themselves, that’s not a conspiracy. To be a conspiracy, it would need to be 1) intentional, 2) planned, and 3) the result of several people working together, not independent of each other. Second, I don’t know what you are calling fallacies and circular reasoning- perhaps you can enlighten me.

    Interestingly enough, one think I had hoped you would get from the video is a correction of one of *your* half truths. You said (I believe it was on my blog, but I could be remembering wrong) that religion was only growing in undeveloped countries, while what he said was that “traditional,” undiluted, “I-believe-in-miracles” religion was growing nearly everywhere, *as* countries become more developed. The idea that religion is going to go away on its own as the world becomes more developed, more scientific is simply an uninformed belief; people have been saying that for longer than you or I have been alive, and it has not been shown to be even remotely true.

    Now, last but not least, if you think that it *is* only one book on the subject, and that no one else makes the same claims, you simply haven’t done your homework. You can say that all the arguments that have been presented on the subject are ultimately unconvincing, but you can’t say they don’t exist. If you say this or that religion is dying out, you show that you are generally isolated and uninformed about the things and people that don’t fit into or agree with *your* existing beliefs.

  26. ojb42
    June 14, 2010 at 10:51 pm

    Well perhaps the word “conspiracy” isn’t entirely appropriate but it is a pretty silly theory. Would theologians not be happy that the life of Jesus was confirmed? And this really puts Keller in the same league as people who propose similar theories to explain why the establishment reject theories on UFOs, Yeti, 9/11, JFK, etc. I think the idea has very little merit.

    He constantly defends Christianity saying that if its true its the greatest religion then implies it must be true because its the greatest religion. That’s circular logic.

    He also falsely suggests that scientific knowledge should be considered in the same way as religious belief. These things are not the same. Religious belief is arrived at through subjective experience, revelation, and social history. Scientific knowledge is arrived at through objective experiments, empiricism, and formal logic. The two cannot be considered equal.

    I said religion as a whole wasn’t growing in developed nations, which is true. He said fundamentalist religion *is* growing which is also true. The explanation is that the “middle ground” is disappearing. Both Keller and I agree on this. Religion isn’t going away but it is diminishing in the western world.

    He only mentioned one book which is what I was referring to. For a start books don’t matter. Real research is published in scholarly journals. I have looked at a lot of this stuff and I know almost everyone thinks the gospels were written well after the events, mostly by unknown authors. They are contradictory and there are plenty of gospel’s rejected by the church which are even more wacky. As a source of historical knowledge they aren’t reliable.

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