“I Don’t Need to Study Theology” In Action


In the previous post on the “Top Ten Reasons Why I’m an Athiest”, Smalley seemed to imply that he’d read a lot of theology. He does so again here, but clearly betrays a lack of reading with the same words:

5. In the technicalities of most religions, there is no difference between a believer that dies before having time to repent, and a nonbeliever that rejected the doctrine altogether.

I can’t claim with certainty which particular religions Smalley has in mind, of course. But, depending on this, his claim is either irrelevant or false.

It’s irrelevant if by “most” he’s referring to the vast numbers of dead shamanistic, pagan, and spirit-worship religions. Repentance is little to no value at all in these belief systems. So, while it is technically true that there is no difference, it completely misses the point.

Rather, I suspect that by “most religions” Smalley means “Christianity”. If so, his statement is false. There is a small minority of Christians, no doubt, who would agree with this. But, if we’re talking about anyone who knows more than what he picked up while nodding off in Sunday school, then this is simply incorrect. Saving grace is a basic state of one’s personal choice to be with God, not a contract re-issued every time one repents of particular sins.

Nor, if they are what he had in mind, does Smalley’s argument apply to Judaism or Islam.

Whether or not one believes in Christianity (or any other religion), the point is that a misunderstanding of it does not count as a valid reason to be an atheist. Nor would it anyway. Even if this were an accurate account of Christian belief (though it isn’t), it does absolutely nothing to show that Christianity is false, it would merely show it to be unpleasant. This reduces to another “theism is false because I personally don’t like this part of it” objection. None of this, even in the imaginary universe where these statements are true, undermines the arguments for God’s existence.

In this way, Smalley’s comment is like quite a few things I hear out of passionate opponents of religion. Many have offered me a heartfelt critique of a sophomoric understanding of the Bible as if that closed the case on all forms of theism–once and for all. Dawkins himself has done this even while complaining that some of his critics haven’t read his book.

Really, these types of arguments are no more than personal complaints about a distortion of Christianity. But we hardly need to be atheists to realize that misunderstanding a religion will often lead one to dislike it.

135 responses to ““I Don’t Need to Study Theology” In Action

    • Debilis

      You’ve already linked this one for me in the past–and I’ve run across this argument elsewhere.

      But, unless you’re offering it as another example of how badly people who refuse to study theology misunderstand what the Bible actually teaches, it seems completely beside the point of what I was saying.

      • Arkenaten

        Nope. Never linked this before. It is John Z’s latest post.
        Read it or don’t, I could give a damn.
        You are a christian and thus a fool.

        • Dale

          An example of fools logic is saying “you are X and thus X” with no evidence, or even a second premise, to support such a statement.

          Here are a few quick points to consider in regards to the linked article you so gratuitously provided.

          1) The blog post author references Sam Haris by stating a requirement for a “better conversation” concerning abortion. What is that essential starting point in which conversations move into “adult” when the subject of abortion is at stake? Could it be? Why, yes, “…a dialogue that when approached sensibly should ideally begin with an acknowledgement that no one in their right mind wants an abortion.” Ok. I agree for the sake of this argument. Now what? “Such a positive and truthful affirmation would then naturally refocus the discussion onto matters of prevention, not access, as the central subject of any adult discourse.” I am all for prevention. Why are these Athiest so upset and seem distraught over Christians fighting against abortion. I reiterate. I agree that only a fool would want abortion. So, how do we prevent abortion as is stated to be the next logical step?

          2) Abortion is what exactly? I propose it is the termination of a pregnancy. What is a pregnancy? I propose it is the condition or period of being pregnant. What defines this period of being pregnant? I propose it is the begining and the end of the process of being pregnant. When is the clearest most logical point of the pregnancy process that can be called the “begining”? I propose it is at the moment of conception. When is the clearest most logical point of the pregnancy process that can be called the “end”? I propose it is at the moment of birth. So, abortion is termination of a pregnancy, pregnancy is the period of being pregnant, and the begining and ending boundries of pregnancy are at the moment of conception and birth respectively. Therefore, anything which stops the process of pregnancy after conception and before birth is an abortion and we all know “…a dialogue that when approached sensibly should ideally begin with an acknowledgement that no one in their right mind wants an abortion.”

          3) Let’s look at this once more. I wonder how this Atheist figures Christians are wrong for fighting against abortion, “pro-forced-birth position is the beginning and the end of any exchange, although it’s not at all clear how they arrive at this elevated notion.” I think I might have the answer for him. It is not his misinterpretation of Holy Scripture. I think it could be “…a dialogue that when approached sensibly should ideally begin with an acknowledgement that no one in their right mind wants an abortion.” So, if no one in their right mind wants an abortion, and Christians do not want an abortion (pro-forced-birth position), Christians must be in their right mind. What then are those who support, perform, and have an abortion. Could it be the opposite of right mind? And I posit here only a foolish child would answer left mind.

          If you are ready to have an “adult” conversation I think I could manage and be more serious. But calling someone names is far from adult and thus attributed to why others might not take you seriously.

        • Dale

          I am.

          Are you able to comment on any of the three points I made regarding abortion? I would like to have a conversation on abortion void of Religion. Can you do that?

        • Arkenaten

          Thus if you are religious, you are a fool. There is no need to continue this conversation as you have failed to address any of the points in the post and anything you wish to discuss with me will be tainted by your religious outlook.
          However, if you wish to discuss John Zande’s post, then we can have an adult conversation.
          How’s that suit you?

        • Dale

          I am not and my intention was not to address the points on Religion specifically. Isn’t that what you want? Please pick one; do you want to discuss the Religious items and as is inferred to be a lowering of the conversation, or do you want to discuss abortion without mention of the Religious items in the post? I will and can discuss the subject of abortion without speaking about Religion.

          I would like to point out in your response of “you are religious, you are a fool” appears to be completely emotional and tainted of your personal viewpoint. I am the one attempting to speak about abortion without bringing up Religion. You seem to define your point within your view of Religion. Why do you want me to address Religion and accuse me of speaking about Religion? Simply put it appears you have no interest in speaking about abortion without discussing Religion as I am willing to do. I addressed the non-religious points of the post, as well as possible, and I would be willing to further address these with a civil discussion. Can we do that?

          I will let you start and give the parameters for our discussion. Let’s speak about the blog post without mentioning Religion. Present you points, I will then present mine; if I bring up Religion you can go “Ah, ha!” point at me and request I reformulate my argument. Is that fair enough for you to actually put forth more than name calling as a defense?

        • Arkenaten

          ‘’I would like to point out in your response of “you are religious, you are a fool” appears to be completely emotional and tainted of your personal viewpoint.’’
          On the contrary, it is neither emotional nor tainted but based on sound observation of the actions and attitudes of its adherents.
          I suggested Debilis go and read the linked post as it clearly demonstrates the true nature of the god you worship: the same god. Thus any discussion about abortion is meaningless unless you are prepared to first acknowledge the nature of the heinous actions as carried out and commanded by your god.
          Until you do that all further discussion is meaningless. Do not expect a reply unless you are prepared to meet these criteria. Over to you, Sunshine. The ball’s in your court.

        • john zande

          Wow, an awful lot of words but ultimately pointless because you completely ignored the thrust of my post.

          So, perhaps you’d like to try again and actually address the numerous times you Middle Eastern god performs abortions. You say I misinterpreted of Holy Scripture. OK, demonstrate to me how? All I did was quote directly from scripture. Show me where, precisely, in your scripture abortion is outlawed. Show me how i misrepresented it.

        • Dale

          My point was not to address the misinterpretation of Holy Scripture. It was to draw attention to the contradictory points on abortion. Specifically the logical contradiction of the beginning of your post against the end.

          “…a dialogue that when approached sensibly should ideally begin with an acknowledgement that no one in their right mind wants an abortion.”


          “a woman’s right to make decisions concerning her own body.”

          Did you not intend to state “no one in their right mind wants an abortion”? If not, why state that. If so, why support a woman’s choice to have an abortion; which would be a choice of someone not in their right mind.

          You would prefer to ignore those questions?

          On misinterpretation:

          I do find it interesting that because I do not address the entirety of your post you find me missing the “thrust” or point there of and disqualify everything, but focusing on single quotes from Holy Scripture can be used for you to denote the entire meaning there of for your argument. Should I accept your interpretations of Holy Scripture without question? Is that logical? How does single phrases from a book qualify as “scriptural evidence”? I can pull random words from any book that way to mean anything I wish. Who has misinterpreted whom and does it go both ways? Let’s consider that for a moment before moving on.

          If you wish me to address the parts of your post which reek of what Atheist do not want to have in this type of conversation on abortion, will you accept my response regarding Holy Scripture per your request as being both a “better” and “adult” conversation? That would seem to contradict “rational dialogue free of the unreasonable noise so often encountered when religious zealots attempt to imposes their predictably preposterous beliefs on civil secular societies… and of all the conversations perverted by (tax free) religious nonsense none is noisier than that concerning abortion. …a dialogue that when approached sensibly should ideally begin with an acknowledgement that no one in their right mind wants an abortion. Such a positive and truthful affirmation would then naturally refocus the discussion onto matters of prevention, not access, as the central subject of any adult discourse.” I do not wish to error and speak about these things which do not elevate the converstation at hand. You yourself dive into these types of, lets say “lesser”, convesations and would you say they are not “better” or “adult” or does this only apply to Christians? Please, inform me of which you wish to discuss in these comments; religion or abortion? Pick one.

          Here is a fun fact: Propotionately, I have quoted more of your post than you have of Holy Scripture. But you claim I have misrepresent your meaning more than you have of Holy Scripture. You say I missed the thrust of your post. Ok, demonstrate to me how? All I did was quote directly from your post. Show me where, precisely, in your post my not speaking about Religion is not engaging in adult conversation.

        • john zande

          Sorry to rain on your parade, but there’s nothing contradictory about that at all. The statement was that no one goes out of their way to blithely have an abortion. No one is, as such, “pro-abortion.” That’s a rather simple statement which you appear unable to understand. To claim otherwise is juvenile to the extreme.

          So, back to the point at hand. You have once again completely failed to address the principle thrust of post. That being, the Middle Eastern god Christians worship has a history of being an advocate FOR abortion. This fact I demonstrated. You have not countered that, and I don’t believe you will. I will, however, give you another chance to do so.

          So, over to you… Please, demonstrate to me where in scripture your Middle Eastern god outlaws abortion. Please, show me how I’ve misrepresented scripture.

        • Dale

          Yes, I am purposefully hesitating moving this discussion to points on Holy Scripture. The direction I see a discussion regarding Holy Scripture going here may not be beneficial for either of us at this time. Your interpretations are your opinion. They are not demonstrative proofs as the meaning of the text you quoted are based on your view points and do not consider the context of the entire book nor historical information. I will assume my answers would be given a similar treatment, not demonstrative proofs and considered only my opinions. The point is you take a few words of a non-disclosed translation of the Bible and from that make claims supporting the beliefs you hold regarding God. I can do the same in regards to anything at all. This posturing does not make either of us correct. I would be willing to further explore these passages from Holy Scripture in the correct situation.

          Can you understand I see we are coming to this information from very different view points. I do not expect to change your mind, but as I, as well as others, have been called names by Arkenaten and you yourself state Christians are not taken seriously when quoting Holy Scripture, you could agree that I may have hesitation of your convictions in a discussion on a topic such as this. I really have no intention to waste your or my time if you do not honestly engage in mutual dialog to further our understanding. Bluntly stated, I am not sure of you intention.

          Here are a few reasons for my hesitation in posting a response to my claim of your misinterpretation of Holy Scripture.

          “Thus if you are religious, you are a fool.” – Arkenaten

          “VIOLETWISP says:
          July 27, 2013 at 12:00 pm
          What a fantastic post! Time to weed out some offensive Christian posts and redirect them here.

          JOHN ZANDE says:
          July 27, 2013 at 12:01 pm
          Yes please, you magnificent mischievous thing”

          “JOHN ZANDE says:
          July 28, 2013 at 12:28 pm
          Spot on, it’s not an easy subject, and that’s why noisy (oftentimes mindless) religious meddling is just so unjustified.”

          So, what are you intentions? What sould I expect in return for my continual discussion with those who act in such a manner? Do you really desire to embrace viewpoints opposing to yours to better understand them? Could you allow yourself to, if you ever saw it worthwhile, to change you point of view on Religion? I have to accept this everytime I engage with someone else. I intend to “win” by growing my understanding, not by a silly feeling of superiority over someone else’s point of view. I do honestly have a comment written up on every single Scripture passage you reference in you blog post. It would be nice to speak with you and others who do not agree with my point of view and are able to look past childish mischievousness and name calling so we all can enter into a real discussion. I cannot even get anyone here opposing my view to speak logically about abortion void of Religion.

          I am sorry you believe I do not understand the thrust of you blog post. I do, and I get it. You have made up your mind on abortion and you want to speak on prevention so abortion does not become a necessity. I also see you frustration with Religious people stating things which do not make sense. I experience that frustration when read you interpretation of Holy Scripture. It happens as many people are strong and weak in knowledge. I am, you are, everyone has valid points as well as points which can be confusing and even wrong. In my comments I personally used the word misinterpreted because, for me, it denotes a sense of misunderstanding rather than a malicious misrepresenting. Putting that aside for a moment. I do, however, ask if there is a point where abortion and prevention intersect and further, would addressing the subject of abortion assist in defining what is considered prevention and what is termination. For instance. Is birth control abortion? Are there different types of birth control? Do they do the same thing; different things? Could birth control products be used as a method to perform an abortion? What is considered acceptable in prevention; and does that include abortion? Would comments/answers to these questions be of a universal or specific nature?

          There are lots of questions surrounding this complex subject and from the comments of your own blog post, you make a comment stating something very similar, “Spot on, it’s not an easy subject, and that’s why noisy (oftentimes mindless) religious meddling is just so unjustified.” By writting your post you purposefully are encouraging that which you claim you would like to stop as it detracts from the subject at hand. I really question intention here. For me abortion was key in understanding the other parameters of prevention. And, yes, even I being Religious needed to have a non-Religious discussion on the topic. Your post does not seem to be effective at silencing the noise and the comments I quoted appear to desire mischief over resolution. I will leave this here for you to address, if you choose.

        • john zande

          “Your interpretations are your opinion.” My “interpretations”??? Am I miss-interpreting “Rip pregnant women open with swords”? Is there some other way of “interpreting” that? Am I misinterpreting the ritual so clearly defined in Numbers 5:11-21 where poison is forcedly fed to a pregnant woman to induce an abortion?

          No offense, but apologists like yourself are utterly pathetic. So very fast to quote mine your INERRANT, INFALLIBLE bible but so desperately quick to ignore those awkward, beastly parts, dismissing them as misrepresentations and “opinion.” It’s honestly like talking to a three-year-old. There’s really no other way of articulating it. It’s deceptive, deceitful and disingenuous to the extreme.

          You ask what my intentions were… It’s in the TITLE of the post. Try reading it. I was demonstrating two things: the extreme hypocrisy of Christians, and the fact Christians don’t know their (your) own bible, or the Middle Eastern god they (you) worship. That is as clear as day.

          You’re right in identifying my comment, “it’s not an easy subject”… it’s not, and that is why we should all approach it from an “adult” position. Screaming, meddling, murdering Christians (yes, Christians have murdered doctors) create nothing but noise and lessen the conversation… a conversation that should ideally center on prevention (contraception and education), not access. As I pointed out, that is an adult conversation Christian are not capable of having. Contraception, in your eyes, empowers women, and that scares the hell out of men so terribly fearful of women.

          I am particularly disgusted with Christians meddling in this difficult subject because of the depths they will dive to. You are guilty of this, implying pro-choice means pro-abortion. It’s the equivalent of saying a certain group of people are “Pro-amputation.” A ludicrous statement, yes, and yet it is a perfect example of the bitter, juvenile, narrow-mindedness that pervades religious thought… again, exampled by you dismissing my direct biblical quotes as my “interpretations” and “opinions.” You, sir, are delusional.

          If you’d like to read another post I have on abortion which delves into the more tangible aspects of personhood then you can, here:


        • Dale

          My answer possibly will not please you, as I see my last comment did not. Yes, once again, your opinions on these passages are misinterpretations. I am not denying Holy Scripture nor am I calling Holy Scripture itself a misinterpretation. I am not sure why you would equate my claiming you have misinterpreted Holy Scripture as a denial of Holy Scripture — that seems as if it could be a logical misstep on your part.

          Maybe we are misunderstanding what each other means by misinterpretation? I would define it as interpreting something (or someone) wrongly. Can you address misinterpretation in the following non-Biblical example? “No offense, but apologists like yourself are utterly pathetic.” Prefacing you statement with the phrase “No offence” and immediately equating me to that which you are calling “utterly pathetic” are probably not contradictory in you mind, but one might interpret them to be just that, contradictory, and regard your statement to be intending offense. Is this a misinterpretation of what you intended here? If no misinterpretation is present, then you simply are intending to offend me by calling me names; which is childish and ineffectual as an argument. If this is a misinterpretation of your statement, it would seem to demonstrate text can be misinterpreted and reminiscent of your own words “dismissing them as misrepresentations and “opinion.” It’s honestly like talking to a three-year-old. There’s really no other way of articulating it. It’s deceptive, deceitful and disingenuous to the extreme.”

          And, yes, I still am hesitating to discuss specific misinterpretations of Holy Scripture with someone who intends to offend and/or be disingenous regarding this topic. That includes those who rely on, “you are Religious, you are a fool” as an argument as well. The force and anger you seem to have towards Christians seems to be a central theme in your statements. Again, what is your intention here, in this thread and conversation with me? Do you want to offend and call names as arguments or do you wish to speak about the subject of abortion? I am willing to speak about abortion void of Religion. All I am asking is if you can do the same?

          “[I]t’s not, and that is why we should all approach it from an “adult” position. Screaming, meddling, murdering Christians (yes, Christians have murdered doctors) create nothing but noise and lessen the conversation”

          So, is not hearing out of an individual based solely on their Religion and not on their words considered adult? Do you believe we should judge someone by the actions of others? I have suggested the possibility of a point where abortion and prevention (yes, contraception) might intersect. I suggested further discussion as developing a further understanding of abortion and that this could help in defining prevention. I hardly think you honestly could consider my statment to suggest my view on contraception are as you state. “Contraception, in your eyes, empowers women, and that scares the hell out of men so terribly fearful of women.” How do you know what I feel regarding contraception specifically? I have not commented on my feelings on contraception directly. Even if you were to site a Religion’s dogma, I have free will and can deny these things on a personal level, nor do you have a way of knowing if I already have done so. In reality you are projecting your suspicions onto me, as you have no evidence to whether you are correct or not as to what I feel in regards to the subject of contraception.

          I am guilty of meddling in the contraception or abortion discussion? You really are not that clear here. Specifically, you state I am “implying pro-choice means pro-abortion.” I am confused as to where I did this in my comments towards you. I do not believe I have spoken about pro-choice here. By the way, there is a group I could call Pro-amputation; people who use it as a surgical measure to control pain or a disease process in an affected limb — diabetes and gangrene come to mind. These people must really dislike my confirmation of the truth of this “ludicrous statement” and praise your “perfect example of the bitter, juvenile, narrow-mindedness that pervades religious thought.” Just to be clear here. I am not denying or dismissing any of the passages from Holy Scripture. It is your misinterpretation of their meaning, what you are inferring from the text, which is in contention.

          I am not sure you really want me to speak on the subject of life and death. I could chalk it up to a polite statement of you inviting me to read another blog post, but only if you had not stated just prior to it, “You, sir, are delusional.” If you do want to have such a discussion on life and death, we would need to agree on definitions there of and possibly look to other criteria to be certain we have in fact defined the terms correctly. As with terms which can be applied to more than just the human species, one might need to consider variables outside of electroencephalography to base a definition on. I suggest this as it might be wise to address these things prior to applying it to complex scenarios.

        • john zande

          And there it is: 873 words and not a single one even remotely dealing with the subject matter. Congratulations; I’m sure your skills of evasion and sophistry are considered quite impressive to some.

      • john zande

        You should read it, Debilis. You might learn something.

        • Debilis

          I’ve encountered the idea many times.

          I’m all about learning new things, and I completely agree that this is an issue worth discussing.

          Really, all I said was that I have read the post, that it wasn’t a new idea to me when I read it, and that it is off the topic I was discussing.

          But none of this is to argue that reading things is good. I completely agree with that.

        • john zande

          I’m confused… What, precisely, is the idea (new or old)? As far as i know i didn’t present any new idea, just pointed out to Christians that the Middle Eastern god they (you) worship is a baby-killing, abortion loving machine.

        • Debilis

          Yes, that is an old idea, and that is the one to which I was referring.

          I’ve encountered it before, but really was not interested in going over all the reasons why it is a terrible misreading of the Bible, based far more on misunderstanding than fact.

          Rather, I was trying to call attention to the fact that no one has addressed any of the arguments I’ve given for why theism is more reasonable than materialism.

          Instead, I tend to get topic shifts into complaints about the Bible. These are important topics, of course, but, they seem to be used here as a way to ignore the fact that theism is a much more reasonable conclusion than materialism.

          So, I’m trying to avoid the red-herrings by reminding people of what the actual subject is.

        • john zande

          Well, Ark raised my post, not me, so that is what i’m commenting on.

          Telling, though, how you simply dismiss the sordidness of your gods advocacy for abortion. Just like that… “Oh no, we don’t need to go there.” You see, that is why no one really takes Christians seriously. So quick to quote scripture when it suits you, but oh so fast to ignore it when its uncomfortable and contradictory. No offense, but its astonishingly disingenuous.

        • Debilis

          When, exactly, have I quoted scripture on this blog?

          I completely agree that some Christians have made the silly mistake of quoting scripture at non-Christians as authoritative.

          But I have not, and unless you’re willing to accept blame for every silly thing that materialists have done, it makes no sense to criticize me for this.

          But I agree that the issue of abortion is important. It just doesn’t do anything at all to show that God doesn’t exist.

          If you agree that God exists, then I’ll be more than happy to discuss the Biblical position on abortion. But, if God doesn’t exist, it seems rather pointless to debate what his political positions are.

        • paarsurrey

          It is correct that you don’t quote scriptures in your blog; you remain focused on existence of God or otherwise demolishing the reason given by the Atheists who really don’t have a single reason that the one true God does not exist.
          I appreciate it.

        • john zande

          Do I agree your god exists…. Are you crazy? Of course your Middle Eastern god doesn’t exist. It was once just one of the 70 children of El in the Canaanite pantheon. A lowly character, no less, who began his makeover in the late 7th Century BCE (when he married his mother, Asherah) and only became “divine king” in the 5th Century.

          Are you serious, you actually believe in that babble?

        • john zande

          Apologies, i didn’t address your point about quoting scripture. I hadn’t noticed, but if that’s true then good for you. I do have to ask though, do you believe in the bible?

        • Debilis

          Okay, so you agree that we should start with whether or not God exists?

          The answer to this question will have a very strong effect on these other issues.

          That being the case, I’ve done a lot to show that materialism is false, that theism is more reasonable than it, and that the responses to these arguments are circular.

          Until better responses are given, the reasonable person will be a theist.

        • john zande

          “The reasonable person is the theist.”

          You are kidding, right?

        • Debilis

          At this point, it should be clear whether or not I’m kidding.

          The point is that you need to actually offer logical reasons why the things I’ve claimed are incorrect. Simply asking me whether I’m kidding, claiming that my vocabulary is too elevated, or shifting into other topics do nothing to show the falsity of anything I’ve posted.

          That being the case, we are in a position in which several unaddressed reasons have been given to be a theist–and no unaddressed reasons have been given to be an atheist.

          So long as that remains the case, it is more reasonable to be a theist.

        • john zande

          Its not up to the atheist to prove anything. The burden of proof lays firmly on the person making the positive claim. I’m not trying to claim an invisible, inaudible, undetectable sky being exits… you are.

        • Debilis

          It’s up to the materialist to prove something. If you’re willing to reject every statement you’ve made which requires materialism to be true, I’ll be happy to agree that you need not prove anything.

          But you are demonstrating my point. You don’t seem to realize that I’m not claiming that an undetectable sky being exists. I’ve never claimed that.

          If the New Atheists were more willing to study theology, rather than insisting on the right to remain ignorant about it, it would be common knowledge that theism is claiming no such thing.

          But I have claimed that materialism is false. I’ve given reasons. Simply pointing out that I’ve not also defended a claim that I’ve never made does not make materialism true.

        • john zande

          You like this word, “materialist” don’t you. You do know its not actually a term. There is no such thing as a “materialist”.

          I’m afraid to say (and i repeat) the burden of proof falls to the person making the positive claim. There is no way around this. I am not making any positive claim… you are. You are saying your Middle Eastern god exists. So, prove it…

        • Debilis

          I’m not sure why you’d say this. If you check the dictionary (the 2nd definition, if you follow the link) you’ll find that it is a recognized word.

          If you, personally, are claiming to not be a materialist, let me know what the difference is. What non-material things do you accept as real?

          If nothing, then there is most definitely such a thing as a materialist (yourself).

          But, either way, all people make positive claims about the nature of reality. Whether one is a materialist, a platonist, a theist, or anything else, one must make a positive claim in order to live life.

          So, you are making a positive claim somewhere. But, if you are simply saying that you aren’t making a positive claim on this topic, then I should point out that I’ve not claimed that any God (Middle Eastern or otherwise) exists. I’ve claimed that Smalley’s argument is based on a misunderstanding of “most religions”.

          If you want to defend his argument, please feel free to do so. But it simply makes no sense at all to say that I make claims about life and reality, but you don’t.

    • Debilis

      It may have been someone else, then.
      But, whoever it was, I’ve already read it.

      But, to say someone is a fool for believing in a particular reason, when one has been unable to give any logical reason whatsoever is simply reciting a dogma.

      Really, what is saying that someone is a fool, when you yourself admit that you don’t understand his reasons for believing a thing, if not sheer prejudice and dogmatic thinking? It is insisting that you can know all about a thing without understanding it.

      It is belief without evidence–something I’d have thought you were opposed to.

    • Debilis

      Yes, I’ve read it quite recently. I do keep track of what is being posted.

      And the idea is much older than two days. I’ve run across it many times.

      And calling someone a fool without any explanation but disagreement with a belief, when one cannot support one’s own beliefs, is still dogmatic.

      • Arkenaten

        I have offered an explanation..you are a christian. Maybe I should be less specific. You are religious.
        There….now go and play with the small kids in the sandpit.

        • Debilis

          Are you aware of the circulus in probando fallacy?

          More to the point, are you aware that you are committing it?

          This reasoning process you are defending is as follows:

          1. Religious claims are false.

          How do you know this?
          2. Religious people are wrong, and cannot think clearly.

          How do you know this?
          3. They believe claims that are false.

          How do you know this?
          4. Because religious claims are false.

          Do you see how we’re going around in a circle? You’re assuming the thing you need to be proving. Also important is the fact that there is no point at which any questioning of materialism is happening at all in here.

          This is why circular reasoning is also dogmatic.

        • john zande

          “circulus in probando fallacy”

          Good lord, man… where do you people come up with these things??? Can’t you just act (and speak) like normal human beings?

        • Arkenaten

          @ John.
          Isn’t he a Peach! LOL!!

        • john zande

          My eyebrows leapt off my forehead and flew out the window after reading that gem 🙂

        • Arkenaten

          I actually had to Google the word ‘in’.

        • Debilis

          “I can’t understand your words” is now a logical response to the pointing out of a logical fallacy?

          I apologize if my vocabulary is to large for you to follow, but the point remains valid. “Religious people are wrong because God doesn’t exist and God doesn’t exist because religious people are wrong” is bad logic–and should be completely dismissed.

          It is also dogmatic thinking.

          Mocking the fact that I use words that you don’t know doesn’t change this reality.

        • paarsurrey

          I agree with you.
          This exactly is what the Atheists are doing in these blogs; they move in circles and cannot get out of them.

        • john zande

          No, i’m laughing that you have to resort to such absurd, jejune drivel. I know you apologists have it hard, but you just look so very pathetic with all these pseudo word plays.

        • Debilis

          So, you are claiming that this isn’t a circulus in probando fallacy? Can you support that?

          If not, I’m left wondering what the content here actually is.

        • Arkenaten

          Religious claims are false. It is as simple as that. The premise for your religion, for example, is that Yashua was a god.
          That you believe this, is NOT the issue. What IS the issue is that you would proselytize it, would (ultimately) have a single worldview (religion) based on it.
          All this and you cannot provide a shred of evidence to back your claim.
          Yet you would likely fight tooth and nail against an extreme Christian Fundamentalist who fought for a society that deemed Ken Ham type Creationism as fact, would you not?
          Furthermore, I will remind you that it is not only atheists who flat out reject your belief that Yashua was divine; in fact there are millions of OTHER religious people that scoff at your claim of a divine human as creator of the universe – as you would scoff at their supernatural claims, would you not?

          And we are back to square one.
          So, if you wish to engage , then you will have to admit the folly of religious belief, I am afraid.
          Such is the life of a fool. But you obviously enjoy it, which is fine, just don’t preach it to kids.
          Otherwise I am perfectly fine with whatever nonsense you believe.

        • paarsurrey

          Jesus never claimed that he was a literal son of god or a god. He was a Jew and believed in the one true God whom he used to address as God-the-Father. Jesus did not believe in Trinity; this was invented by sinful Paul.

        • john zande

          Whooops, wrong there:

          John 10:30 “I and the Father are one.”

          Jesus most definitely claimed to be god.

        • paarsurrey

          That only means that the One True God has sent Jesus as a messenger prophet; it does not make him a god or son of god.

        • john zande

          Not in the minds of Christians, my Indian friend.

          Hey, Mike over on my blog has asked you some questions.

        • paarsurrey

          I don’t represent Christian view; they have their own free will; please don’t generalize it to others.

        • john zande

          Never said you did. Just pointing out that Christians will poke you in the eye if you try and tell them jesus didn’t say he was god. They’ll hit you with plenty of biblical references and say, “See!”

          Me, i don’t believe he even existed 🙂

        • paarsurrey

          The Christians are free to comment; and they are most welcome.
          I will try to help them, if possible.

        • paarsurrey

          “Hey, Mike over on my blog has asked you some questions.”

          In which topic; I think I have been replying his question. Please point if something is left.

        • paarsurrey

          Please give the date and time of the comment which is shown in the upper right hand corner of a comment; that makes it easy to locate a comment that needs to be answered.


        • john zande

          Its right down the bottom. The last thread starting with Mike whose avatar is Sagan.

        • paarsurrey

          Please provide the date and time of the comment; sorry, I could not locate it.

        • john zande

          Looks like you found it.

        • paarsurrey

          Hi friends

          Did I reply? If not please copy/past the date and time from your comments.

        • Debilis

          I’ve provided a great deal of evidence for my claims.

          The only response is “that must not be evidence because you are wrong”. This has done nothing to deal with the evidence that has been presented.

          And I’m more than happy to debate with proponents of other religions when we get to that. In fact, we’ve been over this before. You declined to offer reasons why all the other non-theistic philosophies were wrong, and just yours happens to be right. Which is the same issue you claim that I have.

          So, we’ll get to other religions eventually. Right now, we’re still on basic logic. “You have no evidence because you’re wrong and I’ve dismissed the evidence you’ve already given” is not an argument, it is a refusal to question your materialism.

          And that is dogmatism.

        • Arkenaten

          Christianity is based on the fundamental principle that Jesus was/is god.
          ANY other consideration pertaining to your faith is moot until this has been established.
          Since the story was first circulated this has never been proven and even your new ‘Best Buddy’ Paarsurrey, will deny until the camels come home that Yashua was ever god in any form whatsoever.
          His support here is as ethereal as your claims of divinity for Yashua. And he is a hypocrite.
          So, prove the claim that he was the god you say and we can move forward.
          Until such time as you do, NOTHING you blog about pertaining to any related matter has any relevance whatsoever.
          Got it?
          Now demonstrate that Yashua was /is a god.

        • Debilis

          I completely agree that no one should be Christian if it can’t be shown that Jesus is God.

          So far, I’ve decided to start by showing that God exists. That seemed the most reasonable place to start.

          But, if you agree that God exists, which concept of theism do you think is more likely than Christianity? I’ll be more than willing to consider the concept. In fact, I’d love to have that discussion.

        • Arkenaten

          I DON’T agree that god – ANY god -exists, what is it that you are not understanding?

        • Debilis

          I’m not understanding why you want to jump to the parts that require you to agree that God exists.

          I keep trying to show that God exists, and you tend to respond with something to the effect of “If God existed, you’d still need to show that Jesus is God”.

          I say, “Granted. Now let me show that God exists, and we’ll get to that next.”

          So, far, this makes perfect sense to me. What I don’t understand is why your next response is always along the lines of “Never mind showing that God exists; first show that Jesus is God”.

          This is putting the cart before the horse. Even less reasonable is the implication that, if I can’t do this, that this somehow justifies atheism.

        • Arkenaten

          Your god is jesus. You’re clever, right? So, demonstrate that Jesus is god. Before anything.
          Off you go….

        • john zande

          I’ll happily hear you explain how god exists. I do hope you’re not about to cite some metaphysics, though….

        • Debilis

          That’s rather like saying “I’d be happy to hear you explain how gravity exists. I do hope you’re not about to cite some physics, though…”

          All I’ve been doing is applying logic to the questions at hand. The fact that the proper name for that happens to be “metaphysics” doesn’t mean that making off-topic comments and asking if people are serious is suddenly more valid than logic.

        • john zande

          Debilis, all you’re doing is playing with words, making them dance in a certain way so you can “conclude” your Middle Eastern god. Heads up, that’s not “demonstrating” it.

          You are aware of this, aren’t you?

        • john zande

          No, it is nothing like “I’d be happy to hear you explain how gravity exists. I do hope you’re not about to cite some physics, though…”

          I can measure the forces of gravity, test its effects on objects, and even observe it bend light. Those things are real. They are observable, measurable, quantifiable, and can be tested over and over and over again with guaranteed, tangible results.

          See the difference?

        • Debilis

          Okay, so you accept gravity because you can observe it.

          I’ve pointed out that materialism is false based on the observation that people have thoughts. I’ve pointed out the need for a necessary being based on the nature of the universe. I’ve mentioned several other perfectly observable things besides. Like any idea, there is more to it than that, but these are based on things everyone can observe.

          The only difference I see is quantifiability. But I fail to see why that should be a requirement. Are you claiming that you don’t believe in anything that isn’t quantifiable?

          If so, I’ll have quite a few questions and challenges about that. It really can be shown that this would break down into contradiction. But I’ll wait for your answer before getting into it.

        • john zande

          You have an uncanny, but highly disturbing habit of simply answering your own questions. I guess that’s the nature of an apologist. You can’t meet the burden of proof so you just invent word games in which you “think” you‘ve won.

        • Debilis

          I honestly don’t understand what question you asked that didn’t answer.

          You asked if I saw “the difference”. I said that I did, and that the difference was quantifiability. I then pointed out that there was no reason to assume that this was an important difference for determining whether or not a thing exists.

          Was there some other question you’d like me to answer?

        • john zande

          So, let me get this straight… you’re saying whatever you “believe in” is unquantifiable, and therefore imaginary.

          Glad you finally admitted it.

          It’s never too late to rejoin the adult word. We’ll welcome you back.

        • Debilis

          Setting aside the insults and misrepresenting what I actually claimed, I’ll simply say that I reject your premise.

          That is to say: where on Earth did you get the idea that everything which is not quantifiable by humans is imaginary?

          That seems a very bold claim that I’ve never seen supported.

        • john zande

          I didn’t insult you. I’m practicing a little mockery, sure, but such silly positions do deserve a level of mockery.

          You admitted what you believe in is not quantifiable… as such, imaginary. A phantom. If this is in error then demonstrate to me its tangibility.

        • Debilis

          You keep jumping from “not quantifiable” to “imaginary”. What reason do you have to claim that every single thing which is not quantifiable is imaginary?

          That would be the error, but you also seem to assume that everything which is not imaginary is tangible.

          So, this idea you have, that everything is tangible and quantifiable, is it tangible and quantifiable? Or is it imaginary?

          What about the scientific method itself (not its discoveries)? Is it tangible or imaginary?

          The same goes for logic, mathematics, and most of the things that science is based on.

          Really, there is a mountain of reasons to reject this idea that “tangible” and “imaginary” are the only options. You need to both deal with them and give some kind of reason to think this is the case.

          Otherwise, no reasonable person should accept what has simply been asserted without support.

        • Debilis

          As much as you seem to think typing “off you go” is going to show that you’ve refuted my statement, nothing could be further from the truth.

          But, if you’re simply claiming that you don’t understand that theism can be demonstrated without showing that “God is Jesus”, then I think this is a classic example of my original point: that many of the people who claim to have seen the problem with theism don’t remotely understand it.

          And, therefore, don’t actually know what they are talking about.

        • Arkenaten

          That you revert to suggesting I don’t know what I am talking about, once again clearly demonstrates,
          the lack of cohesion within Christianity a person such as you will, at every given opportunity, attempt to demonstrate this belief in a fashion that makes you comfortable.
          My style of writing on your posts is by and large the same as when I engage with other religious folk, and is largely borne out of the sheer frustration of having to repeatedly ask the same questions over and over and having people like you repeatedly try to thwart offering a simple honest answer by defaulting to metaphysics or philosophy.
          Instead of making yourself come across as thoughtful and intelligent; as one who has truly considered his religion and wanted to interact with non believers in a meaningful manner you just come across as an arse, degrading and devaluing what you believe and reducing it to meaningless mumbo jumbo. And, when called out you, like so many others, resort to asinine condescending platitudes that make you sound like a *****.
          Demonstrate how Jesus is god or don’t.

          Truly, I could not give a ***.

        • Debilis

          I’m not sure that I am “reverting” to this, so much as repeating what you told me. You’ve asked me to simplify my statements on many occasions.

          But, if you are claiming to understand the issue clearly, then please address the fact that theism is a separate and more general position than Christianity.

          I agree that the issue can be frustrating. I, too, feel like I’m repeating a lot of the same questions without getting any answers.

          What I’m writing to you are the answers to your questions. I know it doesn’t always look like that, and it doesn’t mean that you’ll agree with my answers, but they are answers.

          That is to say I am giving an honest answer without “defaulting to metaphysics or philosophy”. I only resort to those things when the question is metaphysical or philosophical (which, admittedly, is much of the time). But the point is that I’m simply applying logic to the question asked.

          It’s actually very frustrating for me to present, say, an argument that belief in God is the only way to explain the universe, and have someone respond with “this can’t be true because no one has proved that Jesus walked on water”. This, too, feels to me like issues are being dodged.

          But I honestly have no idea what kind of demonstration you want that “Jesus is God”.

          Do you want a proof that Christianity is more reasonable than any other kind of theism. Name any other form of theism and I’ll explain why Christianity is more reasonable than it.

          Do you want a reason to think that the resurrection is more probable than non-christian takes on the New Testament? That would require a long conversation, but present your personal view, and I’ll address it.

          I really feel like I’m getting a very vague request here. But let me know what it means, and I’d love to dialogue over it.

          Last, I did edit for language. I hope that doesn’t offend.

        • Arkenaten

          It has been a long windy road but at last i feel happy to have reached a conclusion.
          So, in actual fact, what you are truly saying is you cannot demonstrate that Jesus was divine and you cannot show that he is your god.
          Thank you. Why didn’t you just say this in the first place?

        • Debilis

          No, I’m not remotely saying that. I’m saying “demonstrate x” is a silly demand.

          For instance, no reasonable person ever said to Darwin “demonstrate that evolution is true”. That would have been impossible. What has been demonstrated is that it is a better fit with what we know than the alternative theories.

          The same thing goes for Christianity. I can demonstrate that it is a better fit with what we know than any other explanation.

          We trust this method in science, why not here?

        • Arkenaten

          No, you’re, really not saying that. For if you were you would say, “Okay, Ark, I will demonstrate how Jesus is god…and here’s how.”
          But you don’t …and won’t. Because you can’t.

          ”I can demonstrate that it is a better fit with what we know than any other explanation.”
          Nope. you can’t do that either. And no Christian has EVER been able to do.

        • Debilis

          Yes, I’m really saying what I’m saying. If I say “that is a silly demand”, that is what I mean.

          This is simply not how knowledge is advanced. After all you don’t reject scientific theories simply because they follow the method I’ve used.

          But I have no idea why you think it can’t be demonstrated that Christianity is a better fit than other explanations.

          Which explanation of what we know do you think is better than Christianity?

        • Arkenaten

          Christianity hinges on the resurrection. Without this…no Christianity.
          I have explained this to you before.
          Knowledge is advanced by many methods in many fields of endeavor.
          The only ”Advances” made in Christianity/Theology is to demonstrate that it is false – as is clearly evident by the undeniable fact that its ridiculous hold on humanity is weakening at an alarming rate.
          The ONLY way for a person like yourself to reverse this trend is to provide irrefutable proof that what you claim is true.
          Christianity has been unable to do so for over 2000 years, why do you think you are capable of doing here on this blog?
          But if you feel strong enough that you are able then give it your best shot. Lol!

        • Debilis

          I’d say that resurrection is a better fit with what we know than any other explanation. This is how any theory is supported.

          But, if you think there is a better explanation, let me know what that is. I’d be happy to read about it.

          It is factually wrong, however, to say that there have been no advances in theology. The fact that you haven’t read on theology, and (most likely) don’t happen to care, doesn’t mean that there haven’t been advances.

          But you keep demanding irrefutable proof. Does that mean I can demand irrefutable proof of your beliefs about life, your view of ethics, and the thoughts that give you a sense of meaning? Does it mean that, if you don’t have irrefutable proof, I can dismiss them as completely ridiculous?

          Humans don’t have irrefutable proof. What we have is explanations that are better than the other ones on the table. And that is exactly what theism is.

        • Arkenaten

          ”I’d say that resurrection is a better fit with what we know than any other explanation. This is how any theory is supported.”
          Better fit than what? I is fiction. How could it be demonstrated to be anything else?

          And, once again, you miss the point.
          Your worldview hinges on the claim that the Resurrection is FACT.
          Yet it is based solely on hearsay, and only then what is written in a book. A book that is merely a collection of documents, with no known authorship that were picked to be included based on the inspiration of a few old men and one known maniac, Constantine. These documents cannot be substantiated, are literally riddled with lies and untenable statements. In short.. Fiction.
          You would not give any other ‘book’ the time of day based on these criteria, and certainly not one that might require you putting yourself or your family’s lives at risk, yet you are gullible enough, largely based on cultural inculcation, to accept the bible.
          This is so ridiculous it beggars belief.

          To reiterate. What you believe is solely based on faith. Nothing else, and you cannot demonstrate otherwise. Period

        • Debilis

          Yes, a large part of my worldview hangs on the idea that the resurrection is fact.

          And it is more likely that this is true than that any alternative view of the situation. Thus, it is a reasonable worldview.

          Anyone can claim that anything is based on hearsay; this doesn’t make it so. Really, your analysis shows an unfamiliarity with the situation. The selection of the texts was not the decision of “a few old men”, and Constantine had no vote in the decision.

          I’ve never seen any reason to believe any of these other claims, either. Simply accusing a text of containing lies does not make it so. Nor does saying that the statements are untenable. In fact, non-christians agree that these texts are far more valuable as sources of information than the glib dismissal of “fiction” would allow.

          That is to say that I’ve never encountered any legitimate historian (Christian or not) who would support your view.

          So, no I’d not give any other book the time of day based on these criteria, and I’ve not given the New Testament the time of day based on it, either. I was thinking about the actual criteria of authenticity used in historical studies.

          Nor can you argue that your conclusion is correct simply on the grounds that (you claim) no one has proved you wrong. Can you name any historian, at all, that agrees with your claim that the Bible is fiction. Even Ehrman, who may well be the New Atheist’s favorite historian, would call that ridiculous.

        • Arkenaten

          Yes, a large part of my worldview hangs on the idea that the resurrection is fact.
          And this is why it fails every time.
          It is based on a lie with NO evidence to demonstrate its veracity.

          End of Story.
          Silly person.

        • john zande

          “And it is more likely that this is true than that any alternative view of the situation. Thus, it is a reasonable worldview.”

          What is more likely? that all the natural laws of the universe were rendered obsolete in that one moment, and just for that moment? Yes, that’s perfectly “reasonable.”

          Debilis, are you on medication? I mean that honestly… are you?

        • Debilis

          The resurrection doesn’t remotely require the “laws of the universe” to be rendered obsolete. All that we need to abandon is the metaphysical assumption that the universe is a closed system.

          As someone who is quick to dismiss metaphysics, I don’t see why this should be a problem for you.

        • john zande

          * Edited by Debilis *

          (To Zande: I’m starting to remove personal comments and mockery that has no real point to make from posts. Unfortunately, that removes this entire comment.)

        • Debilis

          Simply saying “it is based on a lie with NO evidence” does not remotely mean that this is true.

          The texts themselves are evidence; all historians agree on this. The debate is over whether or not the evidence is sufficient.

          Beyond that, you need to actually give a reason to think that these are lies. You have consistently said that people shouldn’t simply claim things without evidence, but I’ve not seen any evidence at all for this claim of yours.

        • Arkenaten

          There is no evidences and as with Moses this is sufficient.

        • john zande

          If i may jump in, the “reasons” are the colossal inconsistency’s between accounts. Enormous divergences in character, plot, theme, time… and yet no physical description is ever given, nor a single date. Every single account is not only different, they describe completely different people. In the Infancy Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew Jesus slays DRAGONS! In Thomas he murders children like Willy Wonka on acid. In 2nd Apocalypse he’s clearly a homosexual, yet in the Gospel of the Egyptians he demands the total separation of the sexes stating that women are “error.” In the Gospel of Peter it is Herod Antipas, not Pontius Pilate, who orders Jesus’ death, and in the Gospel of Truth he is nailed to a living tree (which then spews forth fruit), not a Roman cross. Is he the harbinger of peace, or the sword?

          One cannot take this stuff seriously.

        • Debilis

          Feel free to jump in as you please.

          I’m not sure what you mean by “no physical description”. You mean of Jesus of Nazareth? Are you claiming that this is a staple of the reportage of the time?

          But you seem to misunderstand. I’m not remotely defending the Infancy Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew or the Gospel of Thomas. These are gnostic texts that are of different origin than the cannonical texts. If you want to discredit orthodox Christianity, you need to show issues with its texts, as opposed to unrelated texts.

          In fact, the gnostic texts are a reason to take the orthodox texts seriously, not a reason to dismiss them. They are a great example of what fraudulent claims from the ancient world look like. They aren’t anchored in real places, they show terrible knowledge of the Jewish people, etc., etc., etc.

          So, yes, I’ve encountered the gnostic gospels. I’ve read several of them, and several historians of the subject. So far, I’ve never found any expert who claims that the gnostic gospels are a reason to dismiss the orthodox texts.

          If you know of such an expert, please let me know who this is.

        • john zande

          Why dismiss them? Because the church said so? Surely the church was just men… what gave them authority to ignore these testimonies? They detail the stories of Jesus. For someone not concerned with your church i see no reason to ignore them. They were written at the same time of the “authorised” versions, so they’re entirely valid.

          Please explain.

          And by physical description i mean just that: there exits no physical description of the man, Jesus. Was he tall, short, fat, long hair, short hair, narrow eyed, big eared, squeaky voice….?

        • Debilis

          Okay, here we go again.

          I don’t “dismiss” the gnostic gospels. Nor did I ignore them, I applied the same criteria of authenticity as I applied to the New Testament. The results were very different.

          But, no. The gnostic Gospels do not detail the stories of Jesus. The contain parts of the stories mixed with other claims. Careful analysis shows them to be far less detailed.

          Nor were they written at the time of the orthodox gospels. They were written later.

        • john zande

          No they weren’t. Yes, the Gospel of the Egyptians was penned quite a deal later but its known books like Thomas and the Infancy gospels were written at the exact same time as the gospel tradition began…. ergo, they stand as perfectly valid texts. I don’t care one bit if YOU or SOME CHURCH don’t want to accept them. I will accept them as part of the body of evidence.

        • Debilis

          The Gospel of Thomas is the earliest of the gnostic texts, and the “early camp” places it at roughly the same time as the orthodox gospels. However, this is not an agreed upon fact.

          But, rather than argue dating issues, I’d like to point out the problems with the wild extrapolation that this makes it (let alone all the gnostic texts) as historically valid as the orthodox writings.

          Not only does this completely ignore the other criteria of authenticity, but it ignores the fact that many of the letters predate even this.

          But perhaps you misunderstand. I’m not remotely saying that the gnostic texts shouldn’t be admitted as evidence. I’m claiming that they shouldn’t be considered authoritative if one understands the criteria of authenticity.

        • john zande

          Granted, and i would agree, but you and I are light years apart on what is considered “authentic.” All you have for the Jesus story/myth is a bunch of writings penned after 70CE with absolutely no external reference. Nothing.

        • Debilis

          I’ve already mentioned that many of the letters predate the gospels. Nor is 70 ad as unimaginably late as you seem to think.

          Third, I don’t at all see what you mean by “external reference”. The New Testament wasn’t compiled until much later. Insisting on evidence that isn’t in the collection of works that Christians have always called the best evidence is simply begging the question.

        • john zande

          By eternal i mean a non-aligned source; someone who didn’t have a vested interest in Jesus-loving or forming a church. Someone independent, and therefore more trustworthy.

          Who cares about the letters! They might as well be the minutes of a meeting in setting up the church. They’re not accounts of the character, Jesus.

        • Debilis

          Not being Christian doesn’t automatically make such a person more trustworthy. Insisting that such a person would be is to assume that Christianity is false. You are, after all, assuming that Christian writers have a “vested interest” as opposed to people who were simply convinced by what they saw.

          Who cares about the letters? Historians. If you read some more on the historical method, you’ll see that they are important.

        • john zande

          They are important only in so far as they attest to the existence of Christian cults… NOT a historical Jesus.

        • Debilis

          I’ve never heard of any New Testament historian (whether Christian or non-Christian) who would agree with that.

          Really, this is simply dismissing the historical method. Texts are not simply glibly dismissed in this fashion by those who are experts.

        • Debilis

          I’m going to start editing out things that are off-topic remarks about me or other people, so that we can stick to the topic.

          That reduces your response to “There is no evidences and as with Moses this is sufficient”.

          But my last comment pointed out that the texts, themselves are evidence. If you want to keep claiming that there is no evidence, you actually have to point this out.

          Specifically, name any legitimate historian of the ancient world who claims that the texts are not evidence. Otherwise, this is simply an unsupported claim.

        • john zande

          Jumping in again… By your logic, Debilis, Batman is real because Batman stories ARE EVIDENCE he exists.

        • Debilis

          There are no ancient reports of Batman.

          Historians have means to analyze ancient texts. These apply to the New Testament, but don’t remotely apply to comic books or other works of fiction.

        • john zande

          There will be in a hundred years 🙂 There’ll be entire libraries detailing his life and deeds.

        • Debilis

          The point here seems to have been missed. Let me rephrase that, then.

          There are no reports of Batman.

          Historians have made it their job to know the difference between a report and a work of fiction. That is part of what the link I provided explains.

        • john zande

          The are no “reports” of jesus either! That’s what i’m trying to get through to you. Nothing. Zero, Zip. Not a single “report” from the time, just internal Jesus-loving stories which started around 70CE.

          Ie. No different to Batman.

        • Debilis

          Of course there are reports of Jesus. I don’t know of a single legitimate historian who would argue with that.

          But if you are going to insist that the only evidence which “counts” is evidence which doesn’t support Christianity, then you’ve simply stacked the deck in favor of the atheist.

          This is like saying that a defendant should be acquitted because everyone who testified that the crime happened thinks that he’s guilty. You can’t simply throw out a report because you disagree with the person doing the reporting.

        • john zande

          What “reports”?

          List every “report” you know of. And by this i mean contemporary, not some late 1st century/2nd century mention of “Christians.”

        • Debilis

          If you are simply going to dismiss the evidence, then you are going to reach the conclusion that there is no evidence. But this is hardly how a legitimate historian would approach the subject.

          Really, do you believe that Alexander the great existed? That Cesar invaded Gaul? That Confucius was a real person? That Socrates actually lived?

          There are reasons that those educated on the historical method don’t simply wave these people and events off as myth.

          They are the same reasons why the reports of Jesus shouldn’t be dismissed. In fact, they are actually closer to the events than any other account we have from antiquity.

        • Arkenaten

          The texts are evidence of the texts: they are an historical document.
          As will be my Terry Pratchett collection in years to come.
          Nobody in their right mind is ever likely to assert that what is contained within the Pratchett texts is factual.
          And nobody in their right minds will ever assert that what is contained in the biblical texts ( the message and the all the main characters) is factual either.
          Only a moron would suggest they were.

        • Debilis

          As I’ve written to Zande, you are ignoring the historical method.

          Texts are the way that we know nearly everything we know about history. Things most people take for granted as true.

          Unless you are claiming that there is no reason to think that Julius Ceasar invaded Gaul, or was assassinated–that Confuscious ever lived, that the Egyptian Pharos commissioned the Pyramids, that George Washington was the first President of the United States, or most anything else that ever happened in the past, this is simply not a good argument.

          It is also worth mention that this is an attack on science. After all, one of the biggest arguments in favor of the value of science is its long track record of success. But, if one is willing to throw out all historical texts as of any value, there is no more reason to believe this than that someone in the mid-ninteenth century had an amazing guess about how things worked, and wrote it into a science fiction story that was taken seriously by most people.

          I consider that more than a little silly. We can discuss the strength of evidence a particular text represents, but to throw out texts wholesale is simply anti-intellectual.

      • paarsurrey

        Bebilis !

        When Atheists hurl foul words as Arkenaten has used against you the word “fool”; it is an indication that the Atheists have finished with reason and now they are in their angry mode.

  • violetwisp

    “If so, his statement is false. There is a small minority of Christians, no doubt, who would agree with this.”

    I don’t know about the other religions this person was referring to, but it’s quite clear that the largest Christian denomination, Catholicism, teaches that those who die without repenting will not have a joyful afterlife. That’s why they all panic about receiving last rites:

    “There is no way to be 100% sure that you will receive the last rites at the time of your death. You can make all of your friends, relatives, co-workers, etc….. aware that you are Catholic and ask them to call for a priest in an emergency, but that doesn’t mean they will, or there will be enough time for one anyway. This sacrament is your last chance to restore your relationship with God and die in His grace, many people do not have the opportunity to have it, and do not get that final grace; it is not “fire insurance”, the state of your soul, at the time of your death is your responsibility. If you die in the state of unrepentant moral sin, you will not be fit to live with God.”

    • Debilis

      Greetings once again!

      Reading this over, it is definitely differs from my understanding of Catholic theology.

      My understanding is that a believer who dies with unconfessed sin, according to the Catholics, will go to Purgatory. But this is not a permanent condition; Heaven will be that person’s final destination (assuming this was a genuine seeker after God, of course).

      Please do let me know if your understanding is different, and let me know where I can go to read up on that understanding.

      Similar things are true of last rites, again, as I’ve understood it–Purgatory is the worst case I’ve ever heard a Catholic theologian support.

      Last, and most importantly, your presence is both thoughtful and kind. It is definitely appreciated.

      • Dale

        There is a qualification necessary here for “unconfessed sin”. Catholics believe various types of sin and these are evaluated according to their gravity; mortal and venial. If a Catholic is in the state of mortal sin upon death, they do not go to Purgatory. Similarly, if a Catholic is in the state of venial sin upon death, the possibility for them to enter Purgatory rather than Hell is possible. This, however, does not insure the eventual entrance into Heaven from Purgatory.

      • Dale

        “Purgatory is the worst case I’ve ever heard a Catholic theologian support.”

        Can you expand on this? I would be interested in hearing the reason the theologian did a poor job with this. I will accept you pointing me in the right direction for me to read myself.

        • Debilis

          You’re definitely more of an expert than I am.
          My understanding is that this is not the case–something more as you’ve claimed (but not as clearly defined). To be honest, I was largely trying to be careful to not claim more than I could defend.

          I knew that I could show this to be the worst case, and was trying to stick to what I could prove. But I’d definitely take you as the expert.

          As for which theologian it was–I’ve long since forgotten who it was, and am willing to entertain the idea that I simply misunderstood.

        • Dale

          While I was looking up documents for you regarding sin and Purgatory. I realized a part of the point I made on Purgatory was incorrect. My last sentence is an error, “This, however, does not insure the eventual entrance into Heaven from Purgatory.” Mea culpa.

          Those in Purgatory *ARE* assured of their eternal salvation.

          My error was twofold; 1) I did not verify my response before posting, and 2) I was equating indefinite with infinite and still thinking in the mindset of temporal existence. The purging of temporal effects of sins while one is in Purgatory, in my consideration, could take a very long time; an indefinite amount of time. Applying this to my reasoning of never reaching purification in the same way that I cannot travel an infinite distance/time, I used “does not insure the eventual entrance into Heaven” in my response. I wanted to correct my original statement here. I am sorry for the misunderstanding.

          Documentation from the Catechism of the Catholic Church on Purgatory.

          Documentation from the Catechism of the Catholic Church on mortal and venial sin.

          Additional resources:

          Article: Against Materialism
          Thought this might be of interest and fit in the blog somewhere.

          Article: Difficulties of Private Interpretation
          This is a Catholic based argument and everyone will not fully agree with its conclusions — all the same it is an interesting argument.

        • john zande

          “Those in Purgatory *ARE* assured of their eternal salvation.”

          I do hope you realise you people are just making this stuff up. It’s really quite weird reading it all.

        • Dale

          If I ask you to explain or if I question your general comment and feelings by requesting an answer to how this is “just making this stuff up.” I assume your answer will probably attribute itself to the fact you do not agree with a required premise necessary for such a discussion on the distinctions of Purgatory.

        • john zande

          Quick, where is purgatory, exactly? How do you know about it? Is it located in this universe? How do you know this? What are its dimensions? What is its temperature? 😉

        • Dale

          Quick, where is the number two, exactly. How do you know about it? Is it located in the universe? How do you know this? What are its dimensions? What is its temperature? 😉

        • john zande

          Don’t try and dance around it: answer the questions. You’re writing on purgatory, you seem to now about it, so i’m asking you….

          go on, answer….

        • Debilis

          Thanks for the correction. I’ll be sure to remember that (and it also seems to fit better with what I’ve read).

          Hopefully, I’ll make time to look at the literature. I’ve definitely learned a great deal from Catholic sources. So far, I’ve agreed more often than not.

      • violetwisp

        Perhaps you’re right and there’s a gap between the official Catholic teaching and what their adherents understand. Which is worrying.

        • Debilis

          I assume that there is always a gulf–with all things. We have experts in many fields and likely believe fairly distorted versions of what all of them are claiming.

          I, too, wish this weren’t true. I only wish I had a solution.

  • circulus in probando fallacy and the Atheists | paarsurrey

    […] I give below some posts by our friend Debilis which I have liked very much. I want to share them with the viewers: Debilis July 29th, 2013 at 7:53 am […]

  • Dale

    “Saving grace is a basic state of one’s personal choice to be with God, not a contract re-issued every time one repents of particular sins.”

    Can you clarify this statement for me? I am specifically wondering about “not a contract re-issued everytime one repents” in relation to the overall purpose of repenting. If we define repent as feeling or expressing sincere regret or remorse about one’s wrongdoing or sin, the act of repenting seems to be a requirement to receive grace for those who have turned away from God. Similarly, if someone walked away from a contract, effectively breaking it, would not a renewing of the contract be in order if the person return seeking such benefits again. The question of what it means to be in the state of grace and how this is effected by sin and forgiveness quickly comes to the forefront for me. I do think even if the “contract re-issue” was a valid statement here, the presence of original sin on a nonbeliever in regards to Christianity must also be addressed as the Sacrament of Baptism seems to present a major separation with this type of scenario.

    “In the technicalities of most religions, there is no difference between a believer that dies before having time to repent, and a nonbeliever that rejected the doctrine altogether.”

    Another rather interesting way to look at this is as a subtle point being made. The “nonbeliever that rejected the doctrine altogether” could be a distinction within a group, such as with Christianity, where one believes in the overall truths of the religion and not in the specific tenets of a particular denomination. So, say a Catholic and a non-Denominational are in place of the believer and nonbeliever, would this change the narrative? Still I gather even if the argument is an attack on dogma within formal religion I do not see the direct benefit to an Atheist as both the believer and nonbeliever in my example here would both be esssentially believers in Christianity. However, I could make an argument to how a destruction of authority in the formal religion could be beneficial in such a case for the Atheist.

    • Debilis

      With regard to the first point, I think I should have qualified that I was presenting a common understanding, not a universal one.

      To defend it, I’d agree with you in terms of the logic involved. Where I think my view differs from the one you present is in the fact that humans are complex beings, and (as a result) are probably never in a state of pure seeking or rebelling against God.

      As such, it is entirely possible for me to envision in a state of sin in some respects, while being in a state of grace in others. In fact, I find that maturing spiritually often means learning that one’s previous repentance has been too shallow.

      That being the case, I tend to gravitate to the idea that grace is more a trajectory than a fixed condition. Individual sins, while extremely serious, do not necessarily cost one forgiveness. Though I hasten to add that a spirit that is unwilling to repent is a clear sign that one’s trajectory is leading away from God.

      But, I’ll definitely admit that this isn’t conclusive. I’m not sure if I have much commentary on your second point, other than to say that I appreciate a more thoughtful response than I’ve been getting lately.

      Thank you for that.

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